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ISSN Number 1946-6269 The Broken Plate is a literary magazine produced by undergraduate students at Ball State University. Works include poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. The magazine accepts submissions from writers around the world while continuing to devote pages to the work of Ball State students. We accept submissions in September and October. Further information, including submission guidelines and subscription information, can be found at http://www.bsu.edu/brokenplate. All other questions and comments can be directed to brokenplate@bsu.edu. Cover design by Samantha Edwards and Garrett Cox, along with input from all staff. Copyright Š2010 by Ball State University. Printed by BSU Printing Services. All rights revert to author after publication. The views expressed by authors in The Broken Plate do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or of any portion of Ball State University. Publication of The Broken Plate is made possible by support from The English Department and The Office of the Provost. We would also like to extend an enormous thank you to Marj and Homer Hiner, for their continued patronage.


the broken plate Staff Head Editors

Sean Lovelace Mark Neely

Managing Editor

Garrett Cox

Lead Poetry Editor

Ryan Rader

Poetry Editors

Jess DeGabriele Ashley Ford Lindsay Gross Ashley Maue Leslie Nance Eric Spatt

Lead Prose Editor

Lora Thompson

Prose Editors

Laura DeCamp Samantha Edwards Katherine Kovac Aaron Wynne Megan Zimmerman

Lead Design Editor

Garrett Cox

Design Editors

Samantha Edwards Ashley Ford Katherine Kovac

Submissions Editors

Katherine Kovac Eric Spatt


Contents Poetry Instructions

Adrian S. Potter

My Eyes Need Cruise Control What Keeps Me Up Late Duke as Professor Hell

Amber Sabo & Natalie White

10

Joshua Bauer

13 14

Wendy Thornton

Ben Berman

18 Carol Frith

Navigating Prednisone

23

Shaun Gannon

Enemy Officer Defeated God, Dan

2 9

AmeliaCohen-Levy

Jim Ferris

Buddha Light Koan

1

24

Paul Hostovsky

30

Last Words

Ed Wade

33

The Dump

Will Greenway

37

Dream in Which We Spoke at the Bottom of a River Allison Griner

I Also Enjoy Fine Dining The Strays

Mark Jackley

40

Mather Schneider

41

Announcing the Stops Michael T. Young What is Good Enough is Never Good Enough for You Never in the Almanac Crossing the Border

39

45 Emily M. Green

46

Phillip Call

53

Barry Spacks

60

Here: In Santa Fe

Mario Duarte

75

Naked Rehearsal

Aaron Wiegert

61

God Plays Peek-a-Boo With the World The Hard Hurt

Jeremy Bauer

Justin Luzader

64 65

Genesis 1:28

Logan Moeller

73

On Reading

Bert Klotz

88


Prose Weiner Roast

ChristamarVaricella

Boy Sit Down, Sit Down Technicolor Girl

3 11

Noah Lederman

15

Roxane Gay

Bus 64 Via Halls Ferry: It is the Touching

Megan Veit

19

Crime and Retirement

Stephanie Haddad

20

Instructions for Dying

Nathan Tyree

25

The Change Man Mennonites

Seth Siegel

26

Paula Bomer

30

John d’Arc Jimmy Chen

34

And the Cheese Stands Alone Thomas O’Connell

42

Already Fading

43

Layne Ransom

A Duplication of the Handwritten Letters Fabric of Our Fears Dravet

Janet Irvin

Jeff Calhoun

Jason Jordan

47 54 62

Saying bye to Sam Bob Susie Potter

66

Dolan Morgan

76

Robbery


Weiner Roast

Christamar Varicella

Some people think murder is a mortal sin, but when it came to my granddaddy’s dog I considered it a public service. Otto was a big, fat, rust-colored dachshund, a wiener dog if you will; although I think he looked more like a polish sausage. He wasn’t ugly in the most conventional sense—my granddaddy thought he had a handsome coat—but to me he was a hideous little monster, a selfish bloated nincompoop, and I still don’t regret my decision to kill him. Now that I’m stuck with him for all eternity, I suppose I should make amends, but I’ll stay damned before I apologize to that big dumb blob, that flabby pile of stupid, and no amount of overly obvious ironic justice will change my position. Even with Otto, Hell isn’t all that bad. It’s an eternal void, sure, but it has its advantages. The best part is getting to watch Otto suffer—a big switch from life on Earth. How many times did I toil in the Alabama heat, forced into slave labor by my Granddaddy, while Little Chunky here sprawled in the shade with an old steak bone? Every morning at daybreak—or by ten for sure if I slept in—Granddaddy would shake me out of bed, pry me away from my comfortable covers, and mock me for my citified tendencies. “Boy, when I was your age, I was out in the fields by six a.m. You’re a total waste of flesh and bones.” He never said a word about Otto, who’d been using my rump for a pillow. As much as I hated Otto, he was always indifferent to me. He’d chew on my ankle when I tried to kick him out of a doorway, and then two minutes later he’d saunter up as if nothing had happened and proceed to hump the very same leg. He’s equally oblivious in Hell. He doesn’t even know he’s dead! All he knows is he’s not where he wants to be. He clings to the hope that Granddaddy’s going to swoop down any minute and save him. He was spoiled all his life, so now that there’s no one to cater to his needs, he’s lost and desperate. Granddaddy fed him ground chuck every Saturday night for nine years and then served up a doggy dish of vanilla ice milk for dessert. Whenever the three of us went for a ride in the truck, Granddaddy would reach in the glove box and pull out two pieces of bubble gum, one for me and one for Otto. Otto would swallow his piece whole, and I would laugh as I continued to chew out the flavor for another ten minutes. Secretly, I resented the fact that the dog got a share of gum at all. I should have had that second piece. One of my least favorite aspects of Hell is having to listen to Otto bemoan his lack of treats. On Earth, he’d whimper and howl and that would be the end of it, but in Hell, Otto is


surprisingly articulate. Have a listen: “Oh, my poor stomach rumbles like approaching thunder. Oh master! Why won’t you come to me with suckling pig? What have I done to displease you? Was I not an honest and faithful companion? Did I not roll in the grass and shake myself clean when I fell or was thrown into mud puddles? Did I not watch over your flock of turkeys and chase them and keep them contained until—overcome with exhaustion—I collapsed in a panting heap to await your next command? If only you would bring me a spot of meat and gravy I swear I would have the strength to stand by your side for the rest of eternity. Oh master…” He’ll go on like that indefinitely if I don’t fill the void with my own narrative. Now do you see why I wanted to kill him? I remember distinctly the blazing afternoon I made the final decision. Granddaddy had me cleaning out the pigpen, a ridiculous endeavor in my opinion. Why would you ever feel the need to clean a pigpen? It’s just going to get dirty again. But Granddaddy was adamant. With shovel in hand, I trudged through half a foot of maggot-infested excrement. I wore my t-shirt wrapped around my face, but the thin layer of cotton did little to ward off the vile scent. Every few minutes I had to stumble out into the grass to gag and spit and gasp for untainted air. On one of these occasions, in between dry heaves, as I was bent over trying to think of a decent excuse to stop working, I noticed Otto sleeping by the side of the barn. He looked like he’d just eaten an entire ham, and he was now settling in for a long nap. Had my grandfather not been sitting in a chair beside him whistling happily as he stripped a block of wood with his pocket knife, Otto’s body would now be buried in slop. Alas, I would have to wait. The one great thing about living on a farm is getting to drive before you have your license. For as long as there have been engines, kids on farms have been driving trucks and tractors with no regard for the government’s position on the matter. On a farm, driving is a necessity. Granddaddy always let me drive up the red dirt and gravel path leading from the house to the barn. He usually left the key in the ignition. One morning I noticed Otto scampering up the path as fast as his little stubbly legs could travel—his little pink tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth—and I knew my opportunity had arrived. There is nothing like a three-ton Ford pickup to create a plausible accident. I was filled with nervous excitement as I jumped into the truck. I fumbled with the keys, afraid he might get away. But as far as moving targets go, Otto was an easy shot for my set of extra-wide Michelins. I could feel the truck lift into the air as it climbed over his body. For a second I thought I was going to roll the truck on its side, but then I came back down to Earth. I looked in the rearview mirror and I saw Otto lying still as a possum on the

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highway. I thought about revving the engine and backing over him again, but I realized that was my adrenaline talking. Granddaddy was in the house only a few yards away, and such a noise would be likely to wake him from his afternoon nap. I climbed down out of the cab and moseyed back to examine the carcass. I admit I derived no small amount of pleasure from seeing him done in, and I felt justified when I saw the black tread mark stenciled across his body. The only thing I worried about was how to make myself look sad when breaking the news to Granddaddy. Then I saw something truly horrible and my happiness vanished. His pencil thin tail began to tremble, and the faintest of whimpers emanated from his throat. I looked around for a shovel to finish the job, but there wasn’t time. Granddaddy came shooting out of the screen door like a cannonball. “What the good gosh darn did you do to my dog?” he cried. “I didn’t do nothing, Granddaddy.” I shrugged. “I was just coming back from the barn after welding together that old lawnmower blade, when Otto ran out in front of me. Looks like I ran him over.” “Oh sweet mercy. What’d you do to my dog?” Granddaddy wailed. “I think he’s still twitching. Do you want me to fetch the pistol?” I started toward the house, but Granddaddy stopped me with a sharp word. He squatted down into the red dust and gravel. “Let me see here. Let me just see here,” he said, bending over the shivering carcass. “Watch out, Granddaddy.” I pointed to a puddle in the dirt. “You’re gonna get pee on your coveralls.” The old man continued to grimace and stroke the animal. His sinewy arms, baked almost black from sixty years of farm labor, slid over the mongrel’s belly, which appeared to have re-inflated. Imagine my disgust when a little pink tongue squirted out and lapped sweat from Granddaddy’s arm. The fat little monster wasn’t dead. He wasn’t even hurt, just scared and no worse off for my effort. Those extra layers of blubber had saved him. “Well shit,” was all I could think of to say. Now that I’m dead, I know that Hell is nowhere near as bad as the pain I felt when I realized I’d failed to kill Otto. As a dead man I’ve got no functioning central nervous system so how could I experience physical or emotional pain? I never have to wake up early or do any work. There isn’t much at all to do around here but sit with Otto while he suffers. But wait. The suffering is funnier coming from Otto. “Oh how I yearn for one last tumble with my favorite bitch. How I miss her naked skin beneath my inflated groin. Sometimes I can almost

Christamar Varicella

5


smell her. I bark and bite at the back of her neck just as I did in my previous kingdom, but here she is a traveling specter, forever out of reach. Come back, my lass. Come here, girl.” Otto doesn’t realize that he’s talking about my leg. Lucky for me, I left that appendage a million miles from here, never again to be defiled by this, the horniest and most undiscerning of creatures. Thank goodness you can’t hump a soul, or I’d be done for. After the first failed attempt at puppycide, a less determined individual would have given up the mission. Not me. I wasn’t about to be bested by the dim-witted mutt. I waited patiently for nearly a year before another opportunity presented itself. And then it came—the day we all went fishing. Granddaddy stocked his pond with catfish so it wasn’t fishing so much as hauling fish into a boat. The trotline, a stretch of cord running from one bank to the other, dangled twenty or so baited hooks beneath the pond’s depths where they would attract and ensnare a dozen or more fish at a time. We collected the bewhiskered critters at our leisure, that is to say I collected the catfish at Granddaddy’s leisure, though he was the one who collected the money when we took our catch to market. He figured he’d worked all his life, and now it was time to make use of his sole dependent, so, as usual, he sat in the truck with his straw hat pulled down over his eyes while I towed the dog across the pond in a little red dinghy, stopping every few feet to drop another fish into the Styrofoam cooler. Otto stood guard over the catch. We were maybe a third of the way across the pond when I stopped to wipe my brow and casually peek over my shoulder at Granddaddy’s slumbering form. I could see the brim of his straw hat dipped down below the dashboard, so I knew he was asleep. I waited a few more seconds to make sure the pond was still and no one else was around and then I fished a scrap of bologna out of my pocket and tossed it over the side of the boat. When Otto went over to investigate, I kicked him over the edge. He sank like a flabby stone. All along I had been wondering whether he would sink or float, and now I knew. I had assumed I would have to club him with an oar, but he disappeared from view and never came up. I should have known that doggy was too stupid to paddle. I waited and waited, and nothing. I waited some more and got more nothing. Seconds ticked by at the pace of hours. Finally, a score of little bubbles came dribbling up to the surface. I figured he’d reached the end of his air supply. The joy I felt then was greater than a thousand Christmas mornings. I had to struggle not to laugh. The last thing I wanted was to wake the old man, who I feared would drown himself in an effort to save the mongrel. I decided to finish up my chore. Only after all the fish had been collected would I attempt to retrieve

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Otto’s corpse and go wake up Granddaddy. Unfortunately for me, it proved too difficult to keep my mind on my efforts. I kept reliving that moment of glory when I lifted that dog’s behind with the toe of my boot. In my mind, he seemed to hover in the air a moment before plunking down into the abyss. I guess you could say I got distracted. I hooked my finger and let out a howl. I lurched backward in an attempt to free myself, but the jagged hook holding onto my finger pulled me forward again, and I tripped over a box of tackle. My feet flew out from under me and my head cracked against the side of the boat. I rolled into the water and drowned. I died and went to Hell. At first I thought it was Heaven because when I looked around there was no Otto. There was no anything. I had entered the place I like to call The Big Zero because it’s a whole lot of nothing. I thought to myself, “It’s about time. Finally, I can relax.” Alas, it was a brief respite. Otto was still battling the elements. But this part of the story belongs to him, so once again I turn it over to Otto: “There I was alone on my master’s yacht, tasked with wrestling into submission the bewhiskered monsters of the deep, when a blast by Poseidon’s wave sent me plummeting to the bottom of the sea. Grasped by the wicked hand of the soggy bottom, I was on the verge of exhausting my supply of hope. But then came the defining moment of my life. Above me, in the distance, I saw a light. Even underwater my senses came alive and I was rejuvenated. I realized then that I had one true purpose—to follow that light. What transpired can only be described as the most difficult slog in the history of mammals. Through simple perseverance, I managed to battle across the muddy sea floor until I reached a gentle slope. Without the benefit of air or food, I traveled up that hill for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the tip of my nose penetrated the surface and swift clean air inflated my lungs. By the grace of my master, I was alive.” Believe it or not, while I was busy drowning, Otto walked along the bottom of the pond until he reached dry land. Granddaddy heard the sound of his dog’s whimper, and immediately came to his rescue. He noted my absence, but he assumed I was off shirking my duties. It was not until the next season’s catfish crop broke county records did he ever suspect what had actually become of me. He’s still down there in Alabama, puttering about his farm. Who knows? Maybe someday he’ll join us. I sure didn’t have to wait long for Otto. He arrived about two years after my final descent when he succumbed to coronary heart disease brought on by a lifetime of hamburgers, ice cream, and bubble gum. As I’ve already said, there isn’t much to do in Hell, but I try not to complain. At least it’s not as hot as Alabama. I look forward to the day when I see my granddaddy again, and then I guess we can have ourselves a family reunion. I know Otto would like that. I’ll let him tell you:

Christamar Varicella

7


“Oh how I yearn for the day when my master comes. Glory will be restored. I will sit at his right hand at the dinner table and together we will gorge on roast beef and soft tacos. He will lavish me with candy and other treats and lead me to a kennel filled with supple bitches. When my energy is spent I will replenish myself with sausage and hotcakes with ice cream and blueberry syrup, and then I will lie in the shade as my master scratches me behind the ears. My best lover will join me at my side. What a joyous day it will be when master comes. My life will be complete… when my master comes.”

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Technicolor Girl

Roxane Gay

1. Rosa, the woman in the pink dress, lives in a world where people only wear black. Her skin is gray while everyone else’s bones are covered with warmer, ruddier hues of flesh. In the evening, she walks along wooden sidewalks, her satin pink heels echoing against the planks. Rosa knows she is watched and she smiles brightly as she passes on by. She is happy to be seen. Most evenings, Rosa walks from her loft to the telegraph station where she collects a forlorn, sometimes angry message from her father. He is a slick salesman, a purveyor of snake oils and other whimsical goods. She is his only daughter. He loves her as much as he loathes her. He feels things for her he shouldn’t. After greeting the operator, saying nice things, admiring the cut of his dark suit, Rosa takes the sheaf of heavy linen parchment bearing her father’s demands, fingering the pages. She makes her way home. 2. As Rosa walks, she reads, she closes her eyes, lets her feet guide her, she hears her father’s voice, deep so deep it sounds like silence. Dearest daughter. STOP Your mother and I are well and we’ve just returned STOP from a profitable day at the market. STOP You really should return home. STOP A pretty girl like you would do wonders for business. STOP No one cares to look at your brothers STOP and as you know, they are coarse, ugly men, largely useless. STOP I look forward to the day you become a good daughter STOP and take your rightful place at my side. Always, it is the same message. Always, Rosa is unmoved. 3. When Rosa gets home, she stands on the balcony off her bedroom, places the latest telegram in a basket beneath a paper lantern. She lights it afire with a stick of incense, and watches as it flies away leaving a streak of bright white orange against the dark night sky. 4. At night, Rosa thinks of Dr. Canard, the specialist her parents consulted when she was a child. He adored Rosa and the curiosity of her, the perfect smoothness of her gray skin. He would lift her into the air, twirl her around once, sit her on his examination table. He would palpate her arms, thin legs feeling for veins rolling beneath the cellular sheets of gray, curious as to the color(s) her blood ran, the tint of her organs, the hue of her breath.

Roxane Gay

15


5. Rosa fell off the roof of her childhood home at the age of nine. Her tibia broke cleanly, piercing her gray skin. She was inconsolable as her father ran her to the doctor’s office, yellow tears streaking angrily down her sunken cheeks. Before he set the bone, Dr. Canard made a daguerreotype of her broken body, her open wound. She stared at him as he held the camera holding polished silver plate over her bleeding leg, waited as the image of it burned. She enjoyed his disappointment when he learned her blood ran red. 6. Rosa’s brothers, Luther and Gregor, know they are ugly. Their faces are all jutting bone, nearly grotesque, misshapen in the way of the lesser evolved. There is a thick matte of hair on the backs of their hands. Their skin is rough to the touch. There was simply no beauty left for them after Rosa was born. They are best friends. There is comfort in what they share. 7. Her father is big, a man as wide as the depths of his voice. He hulks down narrow streets frightening children as he pulls his cart of wares behind him not because of his size but because of his eyes. They are not kind. Her mother sits in the cart, humming as the glass bottles rattle, accompanying her. All Rosa’s mother ever does is hum whether she’s tending to the garden or cleaning the family home or preparing an evening meal. Rosa’s mother even hums while she’s sleeping, the sweet tones floating through the thin walls separating her from her children who hate the pleasant sound. 8. At seventeen, Rosa left home. She had grown weary of her father’s untoward attentions, her brothers’ resentments, her mother’s blissful ignorance. She left her family a neatly penned note, urged them not to follow. She traveled until she no longer recognized anyone or anything. She joined a roadside attraction. “Come see the beguiling gray girl,” the barker shrieked. Curious passers-by would enter a pink velvet tent in the middle of which there was a stage where Rosa sat, her odd skin brought to a shine with oils. She wore two bands of pink silk, across her breasts and around her waist. She sat perfectly still. The gawkers never believed she was a real girl. Beneath the burden of their stares, Rosa’s heart beat fiercely. 9. Matthias is Rosa’s lover. He is blind—a necessary condition for Rosa’s love. His eyes are milky pools of dull blue and she loves looking into them, wishes she could hold them, soft between her fingers. Matthias works at the telegraph office. His fingers are

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calloused from the weight of so many words. She loves how his fingers feel against her skin, how when he touches her, its like he is pressing through skin to her blood and bone. 10. When she was eleven, Rosa’s father built a case of steel and glass a few inches taller and wider than her slight frame. After he found a corner each morning, from where he would conduct that day’s commerce, he helped Rosa down from his cart, kissed her forehead, and ushered her into the glass case. She stood perfectly still for hours at a time while her father charged a handful of silver coins for passers-by to get a good look at the gray girl who only wore pink. When they were alone, he would talk to her through the glass and she would strain to hear as he told her of the fortunes they would make, of how someday, they would run away, just the two of them and take a Chinese junk to a faraway place where it was always warm, where it always rained. At the end of each day, Rosa’s father released her from the case and gave her a single coin, always cool to the touch. As they walked home, Rosa always let the coin slip out of her fingers. She enjoyed the sound of leaving it behind.

Roxane Gay

17


Navigating Prednisone

Carol Frith

Cotton candy and Lucille Ball, her red hair flaming: I travel backward. Bach, I overhear someone say. I collect fugues—all that downward sigh of music. I am reading now from the book of Genesis. I will close it, turn it upside down. I do not understand beginnings. Can you breathe, someone asks. Can you breathe easily? Who has asked me that? I add up several answers. …Now I lay me down to sleep… I’ll need an organ for the fugues. My mother owned an organ. You could hear it all the way down the street: “my soul to keep” or Bach or Auld Lang Syne. She also raised antique roses—tiny pink bloomlets on thorny bushes. She cut the flowers by moonlight. …Pins and needles, buttons and bows, my mother sewed me all my clothes… I have been thinking about Plato’s cave— the shadows on the wall, the confused conclusions. I see the cave ringed in rock; at the end of the faux tunnel, a faux light. …Pins and needles and Bach to keep— I wake before the tremors in my hands improve. I know absolutely nothing about fugues.

Carol Frith

23


God, Dan

Paul Hostovsky

I was a junior and Dan was a senior drug addict in the school of arts and sciences. Neil Young was a prolific songwriter with no allegiances, except for the music. I had never done cocaine before, so while he was cutting it on the square mirror on top of the dresser, I put on the record, and asked him what kind of shape I would be in for class at two o’clock. He said it was an aphrodisiac, so go figure. He was cutting class himself and meeting his girlfriend at one-thirty, because all it made him want to do was fuck. I didn’t have a girlfriend. I had a comparative religion class at two o’clock, and now I was thinking twice about getting high before God and man. But Dan was in a hurry, and he handed me the rolled-up twenty which I knew enough to stick inside my nose and aim at the nearest cloud-row reflected in the square lake on top of the dresser—and sniff vigorously. Then Dan was saying something about making love as he left the room, and Neil was saying something about needing someone to love him the whole day through, and I was alone with God and no one to talk to about God, when the coke kicked in. Thank God for Dan, who came back looking for his twenty. “I don’t think God created the world,” I said to him as he scooped up the bill and licked the top of the dresser with his tongue, as an afterthought. “In fact, I doubt He even knows we’re here.” “Thank God for that,” said Dan, “because all I want to do in the world is snort cocaine and rub my cock.” I loved his honesty. I told him I would try to weave it in to my paper on Abraham. “You need to get laid, man,” said Dan. “Old man, take a look at my life,” said Neil. I sat down at the typewriter and began: “‘Here am I,’ said Abraham to God.” “I’m out of here,” said Dan.

Paul Hostovsky

29


Already Fading

Layne Ransom

You brace yourself against the kitchen cabinets, hands groping to catch hold in the maroon? Brown? Purple? threadbare carpet, rough like his calloused fingers pushing grapes between your lips, taut and green and filled with juice. You think of the water balloons children fight over in summer, ones so pregnant with liquid they break if not cradled just right, then with a satisfying clamp of your jaw your molars burst the fruit open in your mouth. Rivulets of sweet, cool juice run down your throat, your chin. I didn’t notice at all, I was so happy, I was Smiling, his eyes glow in hazel irises behind thin wire-rimmed glasses. He presses his fingers to your mouth, just enough for the nails to slide along the pink inside your lips and come out shining with juice and spit. The titillating thought of it rolls around in your mind like the cube of a shaken magic eight ball. Tossing one of the bloated little fruits up and away, you hope its arc will land the grape into his mouth, onto his tongue. It bounces off his two front teeth and rolls to Dane’s feet, his mouth a smile drawn out of hiding with rum and Coke. Alice and Andy launch them at each other and up, hoping the sharp pricks of the ceiling will make one explode. None ever do. Everyone is sitting or lying or resting their arm on at least one of the little green corpses littering the carpet from the failed experiment. Andy and Dane have chunks of green flesh in their five o’clock shadows. You laugh and tell them, but you don’t say how much you don’t want them to pick it off their faces or change their clothes or go to bed, because every part of it, every part, perfect you don’t want to go home or sleep. The hum of chatter and laughing flows around faces and necks, warm and real as your first breath the day you were born. He scoots over to lean on the cabinets next to you. You marvel at the uniformity of his color –tawny gold eyes matching dirty blond hair matching pale skin overlaid with the lightest of summer tans, already fading. Your upper arms touch. He says something funny and you scream at your brain to yell at your eyes through telephone lines of nerves

Layne Ransom

57


and muscles to take high-quality snapshots to sink into“Hey, if you could please move I’d like to grab a bag of those grapes you’re staring at. Geez. Thanks.” You blink, eyes clearing. Green grapes, $2.22 a bag, only at WalMart. Pushing your cart to the eggplants, you turn your back and get on your way.

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The Hard Hurt

Jeremy Bauer

My head is covered in faces. Every face is different in size, shape, color, scars, moles One exhales moths, while another is deep blue and looks at the moon phases with yearning. One is a woman with hydrangea petals for lips and fish tails for hair, and another seems to beat in a steady rhythm like anticipation drums. One is shaped like Indiana and another looks like future. I know I am dying. It’s slow enough to be comfortable. I don’t know what happens to me, my eyes expand and get stuck there, and I breathe heavy, deep, and fast. My lungs fill my throat and the world gets dull and tingles while my muscle strands scream at my skin mesh about their claustrophobia. My brain sits on the ceiling. Around these times I radiate The Hard Hurt that is accidental and afraid. Crowds of people used to excite me. Now they seem to glob together in a monochrome drool that keeps me in my apartment for days. Japan seems like an island of dreams where all the most horrible and damn pretty things have existed and some still existing. That’s the kind of place I want to live. Being in a state where everything feels like it can’t get much worse or much better feels like being stuck in a vacuum with just enough air to stay alive. I wear too many shoes. They’re all different sizes and they all talk different. Not all of them are comfortable. Like I said, these cycles feel like birds and fish

Jeremy Bauer

87


and hoofed land animals are trying to cram out my chest and up my throat. I think they’re just scared. I think they mean well. I think they’ll be well.

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2010 Sampler  

The Broken Plate is a national literary magazine produced by undergraduate students at Ball State University. To purchase an issue, please...