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The Fall

VOL. XV

Line Review

2012


EMPTY PHOTOGRAPH

DEBORAH EALER


Letter from the Editors Dear Readers, Our fifteenth year in publication marks a year of collision. Not only is Macon State College expanding with the beginnings of a consolidation, but the new Creative Writing minor is also reaching and fostering growth in student writers. The 2012 edition of The Fall Line Review far surpassed my expectations in quality of literary and artistic content. The creative writing minor and exceptional instruction by Macon State professors played a large part in shaping the craft of student writers in a significant way this year. In addition, the visual artwork was so impressive and expressive that we added more color pages to showcase them properly. The talent at Macon State College is flourishing, which makes it such an exciting time to serve as editors of this literary magazine. Lily and I want to express our gratitude for the opportunity to work with the literary magazine this year. It’s been an enriching experience. We want to thank all the contributors and those that submitted, as well as our fantastic advisors, Dr. Heather Braun and Dr. Kelly Whiddon. This year’s publication contains some of the brightest writers and artists from Macon State College. We sincerely hope that you enjoy perusing this year’s publication. And so, it’s with great pleasure that we present to you the fifteenth edition of The Fall Line Review. Best Regards, Shanna Dixon and Lily Billingsley


The Fall Line Review of Macon State College is published in print format annually. The online edition is ongoing. The publication is funded through student activity fees and is free to all members of Macon State College’s campus community. All literary, artwork and digital work are self-expressions of those who created them and are not intended to represent the ideas or views of The Fall Line Review staff or its advisors. This work does not reflect the views of Macon State College’s faculty, staff, administration, student body, or the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Artwork contained in the journal or on the website is not intended to specifically illustrate any literary work or vice versa, but may have been placed according to content. The Fall Line Review is a literary journal featuring the creative and collective consciousness of Macon State College’s students. Please direct all inquires to: The Fall Line Review Macon State College c/o English and Media Culture & the Arts 100 College Station Drive Macon, GA 31206 Office: 478-471-5735 Fax:478-757-3624 E-mail: thefalllinereview@gmail.com Volume XV ISSN:1930-1383 Assigned by the Library of Congress, February 21, 2006 © 2012 The Fall Line Review All copyrights revert back to the authors after first issue. Cover art Peacock by Johanna Acevedo


Editorial Staff & Advisors Content Editor Design & Layout Editor

Shanna Dixon Lily Billingsley

Review Board

Nathan Kirkpatrick Brandi Oates Danielle Quesenberry

Advisors

Dr. Heather Braun Dr. Kelly Whiddon

http://flr.maconstate.edu/


Table of Contents TITLE OF WORK

AUTHOR/ARTIST

PAGE

Changing Strings

Berniece Whitehead

1

Blend

Nathan Kirkpatrick

2

Housekeeping

Leslie Smith

3

Silverado

Shanna Dixon

4

Beulah

Chris Schmitz

6

Naked

Carina Tipton

11

The Twelve

Ben Zahn

12

Tin Princesses

Danielle Quesenberry

14

Brandi Oates

16

Singer

Johanna Acevedo

17

Marbles

Sarah Hollifield

18

Three Women

Lily Billingsley

19

In His Eyes

Rachel Podwolsky

20

Baby Feet

Tesia Miller

21

Psychedelic

Kayla Brazelton

22

Dana’s Bass Guitar

Lily Billingsley

23

Rhinestone Eyes

Matt Poley

24

Hendrix

Chris Costello

25

Real Life Muses

Ashlee Borden

26

Peacock

Lily Billingsley

27

Lee Purvis

28

Study of a Seated Figure

Tameka Phillips

29

Realism

Morgan Mendez

30

Red Self-Portrait

Lee Purvis

31

Thich Quan Duc

Chris Costello

32

Amy Winehouse’s Final Performance

A Tribute to Chuck Close’s ‘Susan’


Table of Contents TITLE OF WORK

AUTHOR/ARTIST

PAGE

Casualties

Leslie Smith

33

Dirty Denim

Lana Harris

34

The Cheapest We Got

Ben Zahn

36

The Sunni Triangle

Phillip Lux

39

Shorn

Nathan Kirkpatrick

40

Anticoagulant

Danielle Quesenberry

41

Ben Zahn

42

Just Gone

Berniece Whitehead

44

Warm Tides

Brandi Oates

46

Message in a Bottle

Katherine Brockman

47

Hey God

Elizabeth Worthy

48

Pirogue

Shanna Dixon

49

Mulatto Girl

Erma Kim Halstead

50

The Pedicure

Shannon Bayer

51

Killer

Shanda Vogel

52

Penumbra

Candace Cooper Mullis

57

Bryan Collins

58

Bryan Collins

59

The Wondering

Chanda Roderick

60

Trivialities

Nathan Kirkpatrick

61

Water and Coffee Cups

Brandi Oates

62

Propagating Oleanders

Danielle Quesenberry

64

The Violinist

Johanna Acevedo

66

The Stain of Your Thoughts

The Aging Theory: Old Men Black The Aging Theory: Old Women Black


BERNIECE WHITEHEAD

Changing Strings Some music makes me think of chocolate— hot chocolate. Not watered down in a mug, but in a vat, popping, gurgling, steaming, and rolling, like the licks on a jazz guitar that tug on my emotions—rich to my eyes. I want to touch, inhale deeply the dark, full aroma that tempts my ears and curls my toes. I get goose bumps. I get thrills. You know how it feels. That’s why I love chocolate and jazz and never have them in a mug. Never with marshmallows, that sugary fluff that sticks. They don’t slide on the blues man’s guitar. Sweet bitter tastes that pull you up and down moaning, it’s so smooth, with dark tones and slow runs that drive the minds of lovers, haters to the point of madness. I want some that snaps in the grooves—jagged edges seem like the fiddler with his bow, striking it hard and changing strings. Yeah, the finger pop from the mountain man. I see him, his pale skin and boney fingers making everybody hop. That sound just moves me. You don’t like chocolate? The way it melts in your mouth; the way it goes all over the tongue and trickles down your throat like the so quiet, random, soothing sounds of chimes and Yoyo Ma’s cello with Bobby’s voice folding together sugar cane, cacao, butter, liquor, heat—ha-ha, sometimes milk, then rushing on the strings of the kora across the Atlantic Ocean, fusing gospel, syncopation, hips, sweat. I just Take Five – bites, ride the wave in, exhale loud. Chocolate makes me think of music.

1


2

NATHAN KIRKPATRICK

Blend

Cold wind, coffee, and inhaled nicotine combine into an unholy Trinity. The wind tears through the layers of dead lamb, stitched together to form my jacket. It tears through my shirt, made of polyester cotton. Wind pierces the surface of epidermis, runs into me, chills me and my bones. To counter it, I take another sip of coffee that is also a hybrid— a mix of Sumatran beans from Indonesia and some as part of Colombia’s most legal export. Flavours from across the world help me combat the wind. My nicotine comes courtesy of Joe, part from Turkey and the rest from Virginia, packed inside a box with a harsh warning from the Office of the Surgeon General, in opposition to America’s first cash crop. This wintry day it feels okay to look beyond the dangers of a single component. Questioning could destroy my Trinity.


LESLIE SMITH

Housekeeping After Dorianne Laux’s “The Idea of Housework”

What does it profit to have a spotless home? Let the sink mother her filthy children, the old coffee mugs and crusty spoons. Give the dust bunnies a chance to prance under the sofa, and don’t steal the gray blankets from the framed smiling faces. Who cares if laundry lounges another day, or if dirt is swept under the rug? Let the welcome mat greet her grime with every visitor. Leave the toothpaste in the sink as an ode to oral hygiene, and let the mirror have her smudges caused by gentle touches. The sun shines through beige window shades and says your name. Leave, and let this house keep.

3


4

SHANNA DIXON

Silverado I know that girl, Trinity-Anne. It was the season of watermelon guts and that is what the child looked like smeared across the road. Fresh. Ripe. Broken. It took seeing the faded blues and yellows of the plastic trike trail away, locked beneath the patch-work body of the Silverado, to make sense of the scene. It took seeing Trinity-Anne explode from the screen door with every opening in her pale face peeled wide in horror to understand death. All kinds of death. Some death don’t have guts. I know her, too. The neighbor girl that claimed her turn to strut in polka-dot shorts that cut into her thighs. Her backside to the road. Her crescent spine vied with the posture of her bare shoulders for goose calls and affirmations on the cracked catwalk drive. Giggles hung like medals from her neck— with a swing of her hips and twirl of her body, she was strangled by them bright and early. I know that girl. Because I purchased fresh freckles from the sun, they were scattered upon my shoulders, my cheeks. I plowed the sand with bare feet hoping to unearth a boyfriend in my fourteenth year. I sketched him carefully: the former Crip with a poet’s heart, the high school graduate with a van and an ethos to roam, the death metal guitarist that read more than he played.


SHANNA DIXON The ghosts of them tingled my feet and spread through my body—like the moment before I jumped from the bay bridge into the green brackish water, content to be taken by a mystery. A giant squid. A water moccasin. A bare beach. He found me. His black belly hung over his shorts. His belt drawn tight, cut the blood from his ashen legs. His shirt too small. His face too large. And I know that girl. A silver can in a paper sack. He asked the size of my nipples, Are they large? My eyes and breath told fear but my shoulders shrugged. I have to get home. I was blocked by traffic. I watched a dead gull’s body glued to pavement, her wings expecting flight, flailing abandon in the breeze of cars that passed, hugged by broken glass and weathered cigarette stumps. He sat to empty his shoes then asked where I lived and held up his fat thumb, This big? I chose a clearing across the four-lane highway and ran, but didn’t escape the sight of a fleeting hard-on that jutted from his shorts. I noted the size of my nipples that night, as if the question might be asked again, as if I would reply. I knew that girl. The next day the President Casino hoisted its sign to claim a portion of the shifting sands of Biloxi while a barnacled hermit crab hobbled toward me, and the seagulls screeched for their dead.

5


6

CHRIS SCHMITZ

Beulah

Now, It ain’t like I got something against men who choose

to become ol’ boring ass business folk, rat politicians, incompetent lawmen, or worst of all, gelded family men. It’s just that all those folks are going through the motions, missing out on all the world has to give ‘em. It isn’t like I ain’t educated. My Pappy, som’ bitch he was, at least taught me some things, and the rest I picked up on my own. I could just as soon go run a bank as I could court a woman and make her my wife, start up a family. But I always felt like I was meant for somethin’ different, more fulfilling. That something was outlawing. I say all of this to make a point, however, one that I’m sorry to admit I’m just now beginning to wrap my head around myself. I missed out. Made a mistake. Should have followed another path, any path. Forty-three years old, been in this game since I could chew and spit, and not once have I ever regretted it—all the drinking, thieving, riding into towns blitzed all to hell for a night of fighting and whoring. It was heaven, or as close as I’m getting to it. I was even all right with dying, ready to kick the ol’ bucket and join the first wagon train down to hell. Never dawned on me death was somethin’ I needed to concern myself with. In my line of work, dying’s just a job requirement. Up ‘till just a few seconds before, all I was thinkin’ on was the venom I was gonna spew when my time came to speak. Planned on making those uppity churchwomen run for the hills screaming, “Lord help us!” But now I don’t even remember exactly what it is I wanted to say. All I know is down below me standing with the others is the woman I’m gonna’ love ‘till they drop this floor.

Standing here, with this drugstore cowboy hovering over me

in his two bit suit and bolo tie, breathing down my neck just waiting to be important, all I want to do is drastically change my lot in life. Instead of these worn, mud-stained denims and this old button-up


CHRIS SCHMITZ that’s missing most of the damn buttons, I wish I had on a sharp pair of jeans and a clean white shirt, freshly pressed by the Chinaman over on the east side of town. I wish I would’ve taken that guard up on his shave offer, razor off this mangy looking black beard and reveal the face that only my mamma ever loved. Probably would have let the barber work out the knots and tangles of this rattail had I asked. Shit, I’m not even in my good boots.

Why am I thinking like this? I’m Tom Tooney! What the hell

do I care if I’m in some raggedy clothes, looking a mess, standing here ready to hang? Just last week I was near shot in my undies while sitting in the outhouse, and not once did I ever think to myself, damn, I wish I wasn’t in these long johns. But now, I’m not even dead, and yet I’m standing in the presence of an angel so sweet, she is causing me to question everything I thought I knew about this life, and more importantly, who I am.

Now, Tom Tooney the businessman just never fit right at all,

and I’m sure I would have gone crazy as Tooney the farmer. I have a very small skill set, one that has aided me just fine through the years but doesn’t directly lead me to legitimate business opportunities. Not many folks out there are looking for someone who can shoot the flies off a mule’s ass, con ya’ flat out and steal all your valuables, rampage through towns just because it’s a Wednesday, and I ain’t bad at poker either; I just don’t mean the game. Outlaw is what I was born to do, and I’ve eat up every minute of it. Always thought everyone else were schleps for doing anything else.

And now there is you, Beulah, capturer of my beating heart.

Of course, I have no idea if Beulah is actually your name, but I once met a whore on a ride through Kansas. Her name was Beulah, and I always liked it since. If I was ever going to straighten up and settle down with a woman, it’d be with a Beulah. If only I could have met you under different circumstances. Perhaps walking beside the main

7


8

CHRIS SCHMITZ road in your best dress, the Sunday sun hitting your face as you make the walk home from the church. Even in death, I hope your face and that backwards expression stays vivid in my mind. If only I could put my hands on it, trace the lines and couturiers that dot your face with my fingers. I imagine it has the feel of a well-made saddle—tough, as if imagined by the local smithy. You remind me of my mamma in that way. She also had a face worn by the sun and looking like an old dog’s ass. But to me, and I feel the same about you, Beulah, it was the picture of perfection. Chiseled for sure by those Italian sculptors ole’ Fancy Bob used to try to tell us all about. I especially like the ones where he described the naked ladies, and now all I want to do is make love to you, Beulah.

“Damn!”

Kick me in the leg again you som’ bitch. Any other time and

place, I swear I’d slit you Drugstore. Put my name in your forehead and call on your wife. Kick me in the leg. Snap me out of thoughts of my dear, sweet girl. But you’re lucky. Last thing I want to do in these final few moments is act a fool in front of Beulah.

Instead, I’m gonna’ close my eyes and think of the two of us,

laying beside a pond, eating blackberries and enjoying the morning. Your head is resting on my arm, feeling like a stone, and I adjust myself to where I can try to wrap my other arm around your body. I’ve always been particular to the larger ladies, and honey, you make full-figured women look mighty petite by comparison. While other guys I’ve run across prefer a daintier female, I’ve always liked a woman with a lot to hold onto. Let’s face it, when you’re two bottles deep and crazy as hell, you like a soft, wide place to fall.

We are still layin’ together at the pond. I can barely reach

your other arm with my free hand, but with my fingers I can almost caress that festered looking mole you have on your shoulder. Now is the time. If ever I were to take a chance and kiss you, this would


CHRIS SCHMITZ be the moment. I lean in close. Excited, you’ve already got your lips puckered, your cracks and blisters ready to meet my own. Women always say my beard tickles, and I can’t help but wonder if the stubble budding above your lip will tickle me.

“All right boys, time to do this,” that old dipshit judge says

standing beside me. The same man who is now stripping me away from my dear Beulah, ripping my soul in two and leaving nothing but this old, soon to be decayin’ bone sack. Is shooting a man in the face ‘cause he let wind in my direction whilst sitting beside me in a poker game really a crime? Just ‘bout threw me off the hot streak I was runnin’. Truth is, the real crime was the foulness that diseased my nose. I only like the smell of my own, and it’s a shame that’s just one more thing I won’t be able to share with you, Beulah. I imagine together we could stank the funk off a skunk.

Drugstore is walking away, but damn he’s back in a blink. I

can hear him beating the dust out of that black sack. Pointless, but I’m thankful. At least it will be clean for my Beulah, keep this ole’ mug from scaring the living shit out of these folks when my eyes explode out and I’m coughing up my tongue and blood. Shit, I almost forgot that’s what happens there for a minute. How ‘bout that? Even in the end, Beulah, you got me thinking only of you and not the dire circumstance which I currently find myself.

Oh, I’m focusing on you, Beulah, standing there eating a

turkey leg, grease dripping from your mouth, unaware of the love that awaits you if somehow we were given the chance. God, that leg looks delicious.

“Last words, Tooney?” That judge is beaming at me as he says

it. He can’t wait to pull that lever.

Steady, damnit. Deep breath.

“I got just a few…” For the first time, you lock onto me,

mouth open wide, your turkey leg hanging perilously close. I’m sure

9


10

CHRIS SCHMITZ

to everyone else you have the look of an idiot, darlin’, but I see something deeper behind your black, dead eyes. I see the woman I love, the woman who saved me. I see a life I never much wanted and now would slap the devil himself to have. I’m definitely going to see if that works when I get to hell.

“I’ve done some shitty things. I look out, and there ain’t many

of you in this lot I ain’t personally screwed over on more than one occasion. I ain’t sorry for the things I done, “ I said. “I’m only sorry I couldn’t have done them with you, Beulah.” If I could point, I’d single you out. I think you know I meant you though. The fact that you’re now choking on a turkey bone doesn’t make me believe this any less. You and I, Beulah, we was meant to be, darlin’.

And now it’s dark. I can see a little, and I’m doing everything

I can to get one last glimpse of my sweet lady. Just keep thinkin’ on her.

Beulah. Beulah. Beu…


CARINA TIPTON

Naked When I dance for you, I dance naked. naked so you can see me, see that I am not invisible. I dance naked, so you can see my perfect tan. I swing my head back and forth, so you can see my long, curly hair bouncing. I shimmy my breasts, so you can see how full they are, and so you can see how toned my arms are. I wiggle my stomach, so you can see how flat it is. I kick my legs in the air, so you can see how long they are. I wiggle my hips, so you can see how round by behind is. I use my hands to touch my body, so you can see how much I want you. Finally, I end my dance by touching your body, so you know that I am yours. Afterwards, you hand me your hundred dollar bill. I get dressed, again. No longer yours to have, and suddenly I am invisible again.

11


12

BEN ZAHN

The Twelve The rhythm is as sure as the flash of ire and the rata-tat-tat accompaniment in a soldier’s ear as he mouths what he knows his comrade cannot hear or feel, so he does not feel it in his throat, but he feels the rest­—the liquid voice of the bass-drum pulsing hollow, like the flow of voices echoing print-rice number 139, does not allow a lapse in tempo until the end, where we are appalled to find how death and life play with the same twelve notes. You knew when you noticed you could sing “Hush Little Baby” to the tune of your uncle’s funeral march. Only twelve then, it didn’t quite reverberate. The melody was sure of itself, its rising convergence begged for like a child for soup that hasn’t cooled or the cherry popsicle only half frozen, like Uncle Mac’s blood when they found him, not quite congealed. Immutable


BEN ZAHN

decrescendo throughout— however high we find we’ve only been lowered (no breath). Twelve steady hands, a pair each foot down, one per solitary sound to breathe in our stead a new lead—(no breath) as ours becomes the drone whose dissonance anchors the new piece. And dum-dum dum-dum, dum-dum goes the refrain till the coda is hit, and your likeness walks in circles with his new wife to the same twelve that lead you here.

13


14

DANIELLE QUESENBERRY

Tin Princesses The girls learned to despise DFCS offices with their overlay of singed hair scents, burnt coffee. The red that a mother’s nails leave in the palm of her child’s hand. With their daddy gone, momma’s tattered sneakers look absurd under the dress she borrowed from a friend of a friend. But they’ve made it through the mazes of trailers and government apartments of their childhoods, which now seem more like guides of survival. Step one: don’t get pregnant. Step two: never support a man. Step three: pay rent first, ‘cause you need that roof even if the lights aren’t on. They are the secret society that never meets, with one rule: avoid telling your story. If you tell your story, people will pity. They will clutch your hand and cry for you when you never ask for anything. But they were instilled first with pride, second with resilience. Because they know how to survive on dirt and their insurance policies: twenty dollar bills tucked into Revelations. ‘Cause it’ll save you when you think you’ve lost everything


DANIELLE QUESENBERRY

Let us break their patient silence. Let us dispel the guilt imposed by poverty. To tell that their twelve was the new sixteen; by twenty-one these girls held steady jobs. They pour your water, they clean your sheets, they mop your floors. For almost a decade their mommas made it clear you gotta hang in tough. Tucked into tin-can trailers, they are the fish of the earth. Know that by puberty, they knew how to tell the difference between an alcoholic and a drug addict by the gleam in their eyes. They define what desperation means when the only thing in the cabinet is a box of mac n’ cheese, no milk in the fridge, so they boil the noodles, eating them with salt. They know how to call in sick to work; not because they’re hung over or fed up, but because they just can’t afford the gas. We will let them invent step six because they promise each other our daughters’ won’t ever know how to float a check or have a lady in cheap polyester question their mothers’ integrity. Broke they were, but never broken— it is time for the red to fade from their palms.

15


16

BRANDI OATES

Amy Winehouse’s Final Performance I saw her pace the stage in staggered steps with eyes that looked ahead but stretched back into the darkness that surrounded her. She was no longer herself—but rather was you, and me, and Him—the world transposed upon her like the mirrors in a funhouse distending our own inner demons. She walked beneath the lights, so spoiled and pink, reluctant to perform. We waited for all her words to surface through the mumbled attempts that echoed—echoed from her lips, and read like the prescription bottles that she laid depleted on her faithful nightstands. She showed us life was like a pipe and we all have those dark spaces—charcoal, clawed, and crooked shadowed—lurking in the corners of all our minds. And she began to sing the haunting verses beating in our chests. But before the music ebbed and she gave one last look up from the stage, she tried to say goodbye with words, but left nothing but the realization that life is just a falling Back to Black.


17

JOHANNA ACEVEDO

SINGER LINOLEUM CUT PRINT ON HAND MADE PAPER


18

MARBLES CHALK PASTELS ON PAPER

SARAH HOLLIFIELD


LILY BILLINGSLEY

19

THREE WOMEN ADOBE ILUSTRATOR & PHOTOSHOP


20

IN HIS EYES PHOTOGRAPH

RACHEL PODWOLSKY


TESIA MILLER

21

BABY FEET COLOR PENCIL WITH PASTEL ON PAPER


22

PSYCHEDELIC PEN AND INK WITH COLOR PENCIL ON PAPER

KAYLA BRAZELTON


LILY BILLINGSLEY

23

DANA’S BASS GUITAR PHOTOGRAPH


24

RHINESTONE EYES DIGITAL DRAWING WITH PSYKOPAINT

MATT POLEY


CHRIS COSTELLO

25

HENDRIX ACRYLIC PAINTING ON PAPER


26

REAL LIFE MUSES MULTIMEDIA ON ILLUSTRATION PAPER

ASHLEE BORDEN


LILY BILLINGSLEY

27

PEACOCK PHOTOGRAPH


28

A TRIBUTE TO CHUCK CLOSE’S ‘SUSAN’ PENCIL ON PAPER

LEE PURVIS


TAMEKA PHILLIPS

29

STUDY OF A SEATED FIGURE PENCIL ON PAPER


30

REALISM COLOR PENCIL ON PAPER AND ILLUSTRATION BOARD

MORGAN MENDEZ


31

LEE PURVIS

RED SELF-PORTRAIT COLOR PENCIL AND SHARPIE ON PAPER


32

THICH QUAN DUC ACRYLIC PAINTING

CHRIS COSTELLO


LESLIE SMITH

Casualties Life is measured in dimesized drops of shampoo, the sugar that shrinks in a gold-topped jar. What will come when we hit bottom? There’s the film of a girl dressed like papier-mâché who paints fruit with no flies and draws lifeless eyes. Fifty faces with black olives for eyes lie on the yellow linoleum. Fifty slivers of sketched faces flung across the cracked floor. And, there’s the gabbing girl with the red balloon whose string slipped through two fragile fingers, her neck at 90 degrees and palms toward heaven in vain hallelujah praying for a return while that latex saint is tugged upward to meet her maker.

33


34

LANA HARRIS

Dirty Denim

I’m moving to the next town over, leaving my home for the past twenty years. I pulled into, for the last time, that old grungy gas station down the street, its sticky pavement stained black with oil. I parked next to the pump with its faded buttons, its scratched screen. I walked past the homeless man sitting next to his bike, thrown to the ground. I smiled, briefly meeting his eyes before looking away. I opened the glass door and choked on the incense that filled the room, as potent as the gasoline fumes outside. I stood in line behind a man wearing a dirty denim jacket decorated with a stitched naked woman. I kept my eyes where they couldn’t see what was on his back, looking at the winning lottery tickets taped to the glass. My father has never won one of those but is still a hopeful customer. When I was too young to drive, he’d hand me a few dollars and winning tickets


LANA HARRIS

and tell me to run in to grab some cokes, to cash his winnings. When I was older, he told me BP has the best gas and slipped me a gift card. My wait over, I stepped up to the window, smiling and nodding at whatever the cashier was saying. I walked outside and waved goodbye to the homeless man riding away, and he waved, just as hard, back to me.

35


36

BEN ZAHN

The Cheapest We Got

My shocks are bad, so I avoid the filling caps in the cracked

asphalt as I pull my Saturn SL into the Shell station. I don’t realize that I left my flip-flops at home until I get out and feel the hot sting of the pavement on my bare feet. It is August in Georgia after all. Bending over to search the floorboard, I see only my Tread Safes lying on top of all the paper bags and empty soda cans. It would be too much work to slip them on. I quick-step inside.

No greeting, except that familiar smell of piss and bleach

and the hollow clinking from the bell on the door. Empty gas stations always make me feel awkward, like I’m interrupting the Indian or smoke-aged woman behind the Plexiglas. Not that I really care. The loneliness amplifies the buzz of the fluorescents and the drone of the drink coolers. One of the cooler lights is out, making it hard to read the different flavors of Sobe and Fuze, and all the other trendy drinks I always fall for. They’re still cold though, so I choose blindly and make my way to the counter. Strawberry-Guava. Might be good. The store is filled with the fleshy slapping sound of my stride as I approach the register. Craning my neck, I try to see the selection of smokes. I hate it when they keep them up high in horizontal stacks. Am I supposed to just guess what they have?

“Do you have American Spirits?” I ask, my head still bent

down sideways.

“No. The cheapest we got is Paul Malls or Newports.” Her

smudgy nametag says Destiny, I think. The paint on her face cracks a bit as she croaks this out without looking at me. Her twin would have been playing the slots in the corner for store credit and then would


BEN ZAHN

37

have tried to bum a ride from me to the motel. American Spirits aren’t cheap. Why does she think I wanted cheap?

The bell on the door clangs, and I hear the footsteps of the

man walking up beside me. “Pack of Newports,” he says, thumbing the bills in his wallet. “And twenty-five on pump six.”

Destiny pulls the smokes down as he slides her the money

under the glass. “You’re on pump four, Dear.”

Why the hell does no one make eye contact anymore?

The man stuffs the change in his pocket, and I guess I stiffen

a little as he looks down and says, “Where are your shoes, boy?” He is maybe two years older than me, and a gold tooth shows through as he gives a little half-chuckle.

I look down at his neon high-tops for two full seconds and

decide I’m not in the mood for a fight. My eyes move slowly (very slowly, so he knows) back up to his face, and I shrug. Destiny is leaning forward now in a way she must think subtle, her eyes going down over the counter.

I am already walking when she says, “Son, we have a sign.” A

withered hand probably points to the placard next to the door right beside the looping neon letters of a Yuengling sign and a poster of a scanty woman drinking Natural Lite. “The health department can fine us, you know.”

“Sorry.” I nod and raise my hands a little. I’m sure they are

both watching me leave. Turning to look would be confrontational or apologetic, and I’m not feeling either. Another time I might have said, “I showered this morning. When was the last time you washed your shoes?” Or maybe I wouldn’t have.

In my car again, I look down at my Tread Safes, raw chicken


BEN ZAHN

38

smushed into the no-slip tread. I guess that’s what they want me to wear in there. An image of the store erupting in flames comes and goes as I fumble with my keys.

A few seconds later, I see the man walk out with an unlit

Newport already dangling on his lower lip, his keys hanging on a long lanyard beside the thick, wooden-beaded crucifix around his neck. This bastard isn’t Catholic. I want to knock the stupid smile off his head that shakes back and forth a few times as he chuckles and heads for his car. I watch him pump premium into his sleek Charger as I start up my Saturn. “It’s a rental,” I say aloud to myself hopefully as I start for home.


PHILLIP LUX

The Sunni Triangle I jolt awake from dreams of Arabian sand— a car on the shoulder, lights off, waits for me to get close enough. The explosion causes death I never experienced. Black of pre-dawn continues the feel of death. Fear still courses in my veins—heart beating, so hard it feels like the world shakes, HUMVEE crashing. I roll over, smoke clearing from my mind, remember where I am, push the desert away by force. But images flash— dismembered Iraqis, blood soaked fatigues, killed by a car bomb. When I drive to work, listening to the radio turned up loud, my eyes patrol the shoulders. A car on the shoulder, lights off, waits for me to get close enough… that death doesn’t come, I left it in the Sunni Triangle.

39


40

NATHAN KIRKPATRICK

Shorn It’s a scientific operation undertaken with care and expertise. The surgeon works with skillful precision to extend the length of his patient’s lease. His blade cuts from left to right, slices deep through the arm he attempts to amputate. Cut off, the limb will be tossed in a heap, freed from the patient he did not sedate. The oak tree is five or six decades old, it stands much older than the arborist. If the oak feels pain such cannot be told, nor should it be: clippings will not be missed.

In the springtime, what remains will burgeon

with fresh foliage thanks to the surgeon.


DANIELLE QUESENBERRY

41

Anticoagulant It starts with an ache in the chest. A cramp in the arm, shortness of breath. Then counting pills on tiles, not knowing which work best. Tiny needles in the fingertips, you pretend it’s merely a test. For just this once, you are smarter than death. It starts with an ache in the chest. You tell your children, you just need to rest. Just a tiny moment to catch your breath. To count pills on tile, not knowing which works best. You slide down, drift off into dreams of a red forest Steeped in snowy solitude. You think it too beautiful to be death. It started with just an ache in the chest. And you awake to the pounding of fist on your breasts, Ma’am, can you hear us? Her heartbeat has almost left. So they can count pills on tiles, hoping one works best. Where they settle you into a clicking, beeping, plastic and needle nest. Where you hope the massive tangle could hold off death. Who comes with the start of an ache in the chest. Leaving you to count pills on tile, knowing none will work best.


42

BEN ZAHN

The Stain of Your Thoughts “Chalk up another, and that’s five you owe me,” you said.

Five shots

straight to the head on an empty stomach.

And then another.

I was already drooling, glass in hand when you smiled, “One more

to paint the walls.”

For your eighteenth I guess. I saw the barrel in your mouth like you see everything

as a joke

through the murk of a sleepy eye. Stutter step then brain spotted on the peeling floral print

hastily plastered

to Mamma’s kitchen where our bare feet always stuck to the moist linoleum

at midnight

when we tiptoed for a glass of water, or later for a swig of apricot brandy. That same floor

that betrayed you

when you would come home past twelve, daddy waiting in his chair as if he hadn’t slept

to pronounce the sentence.


BEN ZAHN

His words didn’t help to form your brain whose expelled form found a place exposed—

red gore

clashed with maroon Chrysanthemums. And later when we couldn’t get the stain

of your thoughts

off the wall, we papered over it in olive block pattern.

But I still see your

final shape

when I make toast or start coffee or throw back five for old times.

43


44

Just Gone I always thought you would be wherever I am, so I looked for you there. Your face, broad nosed and lips full, would push between the faces of strangers. I kept watching your eyes until you’d see me, but you were a stranger with them. In the Governor’s Square Mall you were buying Nikes. You used an alias. Your face changed into a stranger’s again, so I walked out. I prayed for my sanity. I watched you walk away in the cafeteria and whispered your name. You didn’t look back, and so I called louder; you never responded. I cried when I thought I killed you on the street. It wasn’t you; he lived. Once, when you were laughing, I followed the sound, and you thought I was flirting. The tremors from that made me sick, and I heaved. I would watch the ankles of the runners in front of me for your scar. I would make sure that I didn’t forget one joke you told me or about me.

BERNIECE WHITEHEAD


BERNIECE WHITEHEAD

I would talk about your smile, big and always ready. I would make sure that I said nice things about you in public in case you heard me. I would tell people that I have a brother, his name is Matthew, and it worked. But I would slip and say was, and then you would be gone again. I would cry. You were hugging a pretty girl; you were eating a chili dog at Koney Island’s; You were rattling your keys on Mom’s back porch. I opened the door, smiling. Still it wasn’t you. So I went back to where they put your dead self. Just grass.

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46

BRANDI OATES

Warm Tides  

I heard that you’ve been doing it again— just pacing through the shadows of your house and writing tragedies along your walls. I think it’s time we felt that rush again— that sudden calm like holding hands with God. And we can wash away the worries of the day with those warm tides we find inside a pill. I have a bag of skittles here— just little cures in blues and greens and pinks from purple butterflies to yellow stars that melt like powdered sugar on your tongue. We’ll soon forget the bitter taste that stings our jaws and our sour-faced expressions when it hits us, like a flush of heat from those invisible walls that we always seem to walk into. We’ll exhale, fall, and sink into the floor.  Our pupils—onyx-covered nickels sifting along the darkness that we’ll make inside. And we’ll do liquid—painting trails of color like techno-Pollock. If you want, I’ll teach you how to melt the colors with your hands. Our hearts will pulse in-sync with the break beat rhythms that overwhelm our senses. We’ll make our box of tricks last through the night, and take smoke breaks to talk about our lives, our politics, and who God really Is through chattered teeth as menthol clouds just freeze inside our chests. And then we’ll count the stars before we blur the lines of Time and Space. The sun will start to peek between the cracks, but before that shot-out feeling creeps beneath our necks that makes us writhe in aching calm, before we finally begin to feel the dull but constant pressure in our jaws like a bruise you can’t stop pressing, we’ll sleep. No one will know what happened here but us— the two of us alone and locked inside.


KATHERINE BROCKMAN

Message in a Bottle Hands stained with ashes, burnt plasticHair tangled, matted with Vodka and sin. I would wake him and ask him who he is, but I don’t talk to strangers. I’m sure he used to love someone once. I’m sure she loved him too, maybe not. I walked to the mirror, Mascara running, vomit colored lipstick, Cold white body, covered in bruises. They were sort of beautiful… If only he could see me now, I laughed. And then I remembered. I used to be a goddess once. Beauty, wit, charm, grace… Until I was greeted by false illusions And unreachable dreams. Everything was for nothing. Shameful adrenaline pumped through my veins, I found a message in a bottle. I looked back over my shoulder, His body limp and awkward, Face twisted into a crooked smile. There is a little bit of good in all of us And a little evil, too. But I’m sure he’s a good person Deep down inside.

47


48

ELIZABETH WORTHY

Hey God My grandpa says that people shouldn’t pray— that it makes no sense to try to get someone to hear you when he’s trying to sleep and all he wants to do is calm the voices of his schizophrenic mind. I refused to listen and continued to hope for the best, like a tall, dumb blond with big tits and a nice ass wishing for super-stardom in Hollywood. I ended up getting screwed in a bed of lies by strangers who put strange things inside the holes of my life, some I didn’t even know I had, while an audience watched me from the solitude of their bedrooms. wondering how daddy’s little girl could end up such a slut, giving herself away so freely to the false ideals of the world. I’ve tried to get ahold of you but you won’t answer. I called before, when the walls started closing in, when the fighting got so loud the voices in my head were drowned out with obscenities that were leaking like dysentery from my parents’ mouths. Guess you had your phone on vibrate. I cried out your name when all hope was lost, when I was unable to role up the pant legs of my life, and everything was becoming tattered and frayed, and I was scraping by on the cement of hard punches to my face and rough kicks to my gut that I was too weak to control. I sent you an email when I saw my son’s ankles peeking from under his tight blue school pants with the ashy knees and yellowed, crack-head-teeth-colored socks, when all I could do was look on like a helpless witness to a horrific murder through the telescope of the unfairness of your world. I counted on you like a junkie attempting to contact a sponsor that can’t help because he’s too busy out getting high himself.


SHANNA DIXON

Pirogue We played peat bog hopscotch on cobblestones

in the tannic tinge of late evening until

the streetlight burned out, and our vision faded,

and we were blind to the anagrams in bricks

below our feet. When touch and sound became

pricked with heat, we turned to kisses, and yours

were cinders and butter. My cypress knees seemed

ancient as I rested against you that night.

The moon was a black pearl, and we were

its strange thread entwined with closed eyelids.

Curtains of Spanish moss sheathed the bleating

of glass bottles in trash bags two streets down.

I don’t recall sleep—but the Bordeaux

of dawn from that swampy street and the morning

dew on sedges nudged us to wake. The dead night

turned to humus. My sticky eyes didn’t want to see.

49


50

ERMA HALSTEAD

Mulatto Girl I work in the house, not in the fields. I look out the windows and watch. They work the fields. I polish the silver. They say I don’t look like them; my hair is long and wavy. My skin is the color of cream. My children do not belong to me, and I know they will be taken away. I cook the food, I make the beds, tend to their children, while my children long for me. I will not grow old here; I will be sold or given away. My world is the bedding behind the kitchen stairs.


SHANNON BAYER

The Pedicure he comes to work Friday entering the sanctuary of other people’s luxury, an offering. the smell of incense, acrid acetone, mint, a splash of polish. coffee hums through jerky mindless motions quickening him toward the weekend. scrub, scrape, squeeze she’s on the throne fidgets, looks down, around, settles, an offering. grants three feet to a stranger for forty minutes of peace bubbles, heat, knead the gnat knows how to take, or is it to receive? bumps a nose, forehead, cheek. no thought. sweat, sip, swat. escape. and again intruder of peace.

51


52

SHANDA VOGEL

Killer

The killer was roused from a restless sleep by an unwelcome

presence in his room. He groped beneath his pillow in a breathless frenzy, but his knife was gone.

“I’ve found you,” came a voice from the heavy dark.

“I’m armed,” he lied gruffly, letting the menace pour easily into

his tone like so many times before. “You don’t know who the fuck you’re dealing with.”

“Yes I do,” came a calm, almost gentle reply.

The killer shuffled to the far edge of his bed and scrambled to

turn on the lamp, keeping his front angled toward the unknown voice. The bulb flickered and then gave illumination, revealing the figure of the intruder; a young man, not even twenty, was seated comfortably on the edge of the mattress. The killer’s favorite hunting knife was held reverently in his grasp like a crucifix in the hands of the devout.

“Who are you, kid?” the killer demanded.

“Ten years ago. A white house with red shutters. A husband and

wife. Blonde. Attractive. Do you remember?”

The killer strained his memory, sifting through the two-dozen or so

victims in his repertoire. He always killed the husband first to get him out of the way so that he could take his time with the wife before he flayed her. He did recall a white house with red shutters, but the memories weren’t any more poignant than the rest of his collection.

“You a cop or something?” He was ready to fling himself across

the bed and smash the lamp against the boy’s skull when necessary.

“No. I studied though. I did what none of the cops could do. I

found you. Do you remember the house, the family?”

“I remember,” the killer replied suspiciously, cautiously. “The wife


SHANDA VOGEL

53

was sexy. Leggy. The husband put up more of a fight than I was used to. He was a vicious bastard.”

“Did you know there was a little boy there?”

“No, I would’ve checked that out first.”

“He was hiding, but he was there. He saw you. He saw what

you did to them.”

“What’re you getting at?” the killer growled.

“That was me,” the boy replied. “I was the kid. Those were my

parents.”

The killer snorted and feigned disinterest, keeping his

shoulders tense, poised for retaliation. “So what? You here for revenge or something?”

The kid didn’t answer. He just looked down at the long blade.

“I remember this knife. You used this on them. You killed Dad as quick as you could, but you took your time with Mom. Bled her. Enjoyed her. This knife must be a good friend.”

The boy looked up at him, his eyes glassy and reflective, like

a doll’s. The killer felt the skin on the back of his neck crawl down his spine and scoffed at himself for the impulse.

“You gonna try to kill me with that?” the killer asked. “You

gonna do to me what I did to your parents?” He leaned back against his pillows with an audacious grin. “Eye for an eye, huh? You’ve been searching for me all this time, I bet. The cops all gave up, the media got bored like they always do, but you kept soldiering on. How noble. The justice system failed you, so you’re gonna take justice into your own hands? That’s it, right?”

The boy said nothing. He just looked up at the killer with those


54

SHANDA VOGEL

artificial eyes, eyes he gradually recognized. They were a shield, a barrier between the outside world and the world teeming inside. The kid was the face in the mirror. He knew the face looking back.

“How did you find me?” the killer breathed, never imagining to

find a piece of himself in someone else.

“No one else ever could,” the boy said. “No one else needed

to like I did.”

“You won’t kill me,” he said. “You don’t have it in you.”

“You’re right.”

The insects marching in the killer’s spine slowly died, but he

could still feel the remnants of their stings. “So what’re you gonna do with that?”

The boy looked at the blade again, a sort of reverence written

on his face, like that of a child’s with his hero. “To do what I came here to do.”

“Revenge.”

The killer braced himself, ready to grapple. He was confident

he could take the kid, who was slender and waifish, his skin pallid and his golden hair tousled. It looked as if he’d never slept a day in his life but somehow wasn’t tired from it. He looked fresh and new, an infant freed from the womb.

“To thank you,” the boy said, and the killer stopped.

He put his weight back on his knees and met the boy’s fearless

gaze. “What did you say?”

“Thank you.”

“Why?” the killer blurted, his curiosity outweighing his concern.

“You must not have been watching Mom and Dad very long,”

the boy observed. “I read in the papers that you liked to stalk your victims for a few days, and never targeted couples with children. It’s


SHANDA VOGEL

55

not surprising you didn’t know about me. If you’d followed her to the store, you would see she didn’t buy any food or clothes for children. You would see I was never out playing in the yard, that I never went to school or had friends over. But if you’d looked harder, you would have seen the bloody rags and pajamas in the trash and the handfuls of baby teeth and the chunks of hair with scalp still attached.”

The killer sank down on his haunches, not comprehending.

“What’re you talking about, kid?”

“You didn’t know this. You only came there to kill, to

satisfy some inescapable urge in your anatomy, a chemical or psychological imbalance in your brain, but in doing so, you inadvertently saved my life.”

“I saved your life,” the killer repeated.

The boy nodded, smiling for the first time, a genuine

expression. “Ever since I was born they tortured me. I was starved and strangled and beaten. I was kept in a closet. I was raped. They took turns. I always had broken bones and missing teeth. I seemed to always be bleeding. I became anemic. I was hardly more than skin and bones. They hid me from the neighbors, so no one even knew I existed, so no one could help me. No one suspected them, perfect as they looked. That’s probably why you picked them. She was beautiful for a monster. They usually are.”

He looked at the knife again, stroking a single finger along the

blade, and then his gaze returned to the killer.

“They would never have stopped, not until I was dead, but

then I saw you. From the closet I watched you kill them. The blood flew into the air, and to me, it was like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Inspiring. Triumphant. I spent every day after that looking for you.”

“To thank me.” The boy nodded to him. “…What do you want


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SHANDA VOGEL

me to say?”

“You don’t have to say anything. I just wanted to thank you.

That’s all. Now I can finally go.”

The boy stood up and without a moment’s hesitation, plunged

the hunting knife into his own throat. He convulsed a few moments before he fell back on the bed, his blood pooling over his thin torso, soaking the sheets through in moments. His eyes had lost their protective sheen, showing the child again, the child from that night, watching from his cramped prison while a stranger saved his life.

Before the killer had registered the firing of the synapses, he

had bolted forward to take the boy’s lolling, bloody hand. He clutched it fiercely, and the boy clutched it back, as if they had loved one another all their lives, until the boy made a final choking sigh through smiling red lips.

Fifteen minutes later, the killer was parked on the curb in front

of the police station, the bloody knife in his hands and the boy’s smiling corpse in the passenger’s seat.


CANDACE COOPER MULLIS

Penumbra I cast you off, moment butterfly, sing you into starless night. In caesura you stir from your amniotic rest. Closed mouth, I let you out into moonless silence. You peel away dark in the absence of light. You are a map of spider webs. I cast you off, dead skin, and lose you into starless night. My walls are pliant to fluids you invite. Parched of your sesame scent on my breasts, closed mouth, I let you out into moonless silence. September brought you eyes without sight. Have you muscled your roots up into my chest? I cast you off, fleshed bulb, sing you into starless night. With anemic rot I fed your blood diet; now with soft thighs, slow breaths, and closed mouth, I let you out into moonless silence. Eleven weeks, 140 beats in each arc of your hypnopompic flight— rhythmic flutter, incomplete unrest. I cast you off, moment butterfly, and lose you into moonless night. I let you out, displaced starling, into dreamless quiet.

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58

BRYAN COLLINS

The Aging Theory: Old Men Black Sitting on stoops, steps and in chairs. Lips wrapped around soggy brown cigars. They talk of roaring youths. When they made love and their lovers orgasmed 20 times. They shake heads in disapproval of these young men with no respect. Pants around their knees. They shake heads in disapproval of young women just yesterday being “this high” now wearing skirts “this short” and shirts that spill out their cleavage. They lean forward in chairs and jokingly excuse themselves to the bathroom to hide their erections. They remember when we were colored. When the word nigga was bad and never a term of endearment. They tell stories of trips to school in the winter with no shoes, a wet biscuit for lunch. To let them tell it, they know the every flaw and mar of this shit called government. Walking dictionaries of every word that means Caucasian, beside the word Caucasian. Cracker. Pollack. Peckerwood. They only mean good. As they spout useless information: That time in ’76 when they had that blue Cadillac. ’63 when they married your grandma. Eyes that have only seen the outside of a college. Minds that hold all the world’s knowledge.


BRYAN COLLINS

The Aging Theory: Old Women Black Sitting on parquet chairs, sipping lemonade and telling gossip. Talking of the preacher’s sermon. Talk of when they were young and had waists like wasps and breasts like grapefruit. They shake their perfectly lacquered heads in disapproval of these young men with no respect. Pants around their knees. They shake their heads in disapproval of young women just yesterday being “this high” now wearing skirts “this short” and shirts that spill their cleavage. They also seem to have forgotten what it was like at 20, when their sex was law and new and men fell to their knees for it. They remember when the word “bitch” was offensive and not used like a term of endearment. They tell stories of peach-picking, of when a barrel of flour was $1.05. To let them tell it, there has never been a better mother than them. And never a better grandmother; walking dictionaries of what love sounds like— Sugar. Sweetie-pie. Punkin. Honey. Spoutin’ useless information: That red pair of gorgeous heels in ’71. The stain on the couch in ’86. Eyes that have seen only the outside of a college. Minds that hold all the world’s knowledge.

59


60

CHANDA RODERICK

The Wondering After Alice Friman’s “The Price”

Weren’t we a pair dually trapped in a vortex of creative juices and Cajun living. Days of watching you do the dare of ingesting crackling gator and ammoniac craw failed to turn me off. Nights of pleasuring one another to the stings of bayou mosquitos kept me wanting more. My creole Prince, who, for a moment, made the decaying bogs seem like the richest soil on any countryside. You were a sight to behold, all sun burned, stung, and spirited. You made me see this land through your eyes, for a while. But these lands are not native to me; a home here with you, the Fates did not foresee. Now, my days consist of stalking on hard cement and processed lawn. I wonder now if I could have imagined a swamp as more than a swamp for more than just a moment. I wonder if I could have smelled reptilian remains with joy because they enriched the ripeness of my surroundings. I wonder if I could have become a genuine cracked Cajun, barefoot, country and incredible. That’s all I do now, is wonder.


NATHAN KIRPATRICK

Trivialities At one in the morning, I parked my car in a concrete sea filled with shopping carts. I walked close to the mouth of the delta, to the sliding glass door; it couldn’t stop me. I set foot on linoleum tile. I had arrived at the land of low prices! The door greeter smiled and waved hello. To begin my journey, I grabbed a cart, readied myself for grandeur and greatness, but as it turns out, I’m no epic hero. My nighttime quest was too mundane, a short shopping list which read as follows: Crest toothpaste, Listerine, box of condoms, carton of eggs, and a bag of coffee. I looked around at my fellow shoppers, there for reasons little different than mine. Insomniacs or brainless shopaholics? Perhaps either, but if so, what was I? Every night people wander these aisles in search of boxes filled with their answers.

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62

BRANDI OATES

Water and Coffee Cups We would walk the streets downtown in the middle of the summer looking for proof that God was here – somewhere, walking beneath the spoiled, sticky sunshine that pressed against our shoulders, or the grit under bus-stop benches like a child hiding, curled underneath the dining room table, laughing each time her mother passes her by. We found nothing but religion in the bottom of paper coffee cups and makeshift messiahs standing on street corners with signs that read “Will grant miracles for food” on our way back to cold apartments to sleep off the weight of the world. I used to think that dreams were signs from God until nightmares started waking me up at forced intervals searching for the water my mother used to leave next to my bed and finding nothing – that’s why I stopped praying.


BRANDI OATES

The act of losing Him was as easy as washing sugar off your hands. But we were always looking – not knowing what we’d do if we ever found Him. You told me you did once – in the Asian guy who worked the register at the local thrift store and the way he moved his hands – soft hands, hands sure and open and outstretched like butterfly wings, hands finger-tipping down your spine like reading Braille and stopping to cup the small of your back – and you were running away to Cozumel together. You asked me if I’d ever been in love. No, I said. I’ve never been to Mexico.

63


64

DANIELLE QUESENBERRY

Propagating Oleanders

There is an ineradicable stone in my sternum,

blocking the movement of my lungs as the phone rings; this stone which makes me sympathize when the hero in the story loses all hope, all compassion, and the other students complain

because they can’t imagine.

Just can’t imagine the phone ringing this early. Calls twice, but I can’t right now. I can’t think of going to class in which we read

eschatological works -

the end of times. Following me as I lay down, dreaming of zombies, eviscerating T. and me, my mother, my younger brother, our pulpy innards strung out of our bodies. Dreaming of grey ash, falling on the heads of those left

after the world caves in.

So I shower with head down, leopard print curtain casting

flecks of fuzzy light on my hands.

The ring echoing on the ceramic tile, kicking about in my ears until I have to dry my hands and stand in the steam, phone held out, so I can make out T. shouting of warrants cause his lawyer fucked up again. They’re saying I hindered an officer.

I hang up on him. Stare at my eyes in the fogged

mirror. Wonder if there is a way to erase age lines of guilt and nerves like a loropetalum’s papery shredded pink petals. Roll a joint, perch on the cold couch, contemplating which way the smoke goes first. Up or down.


DANIELLE QUESENBERRY

Stoned and lubricated so I can float through, Not able to swallow. Faces on the streets churning into wet, raw centers which squirm in pleasure as cancer strikes a neighbor, cause

thank goodness it wasn’t Bobby.

The message comes later as I’m in the car. “I think you’d look better as a redhead. Come to breakfast. I’ll buy you coffee.” The restaurant is strung with glazed pinewood, relics of the past. Farm tools, cans of cooking lard, advertisements for ancient holistic

cures. Checker sets and appropriate sweaters, we browse

while T. slips his hand in mine, says I’m bomb proof. I am the bunker you build to place your hope in. The cessation from the other end of the phone the night

before T.’s court date, when he can’t say please come.

So we eat tiny pills that he swears are like mushrooms then steal pumpkins from a nearby church and lay panting in the grass. I see the electricity in the way he moves toward

the light near my face and tells me You’ll never understand

Hemingway. But you are beautiful. I tell him his heart is like a red dahlia, caught brittle in the first frost. But what I thought was that I would hide in the attic with him even if the world went to shit, shrieking and pounding at the door.

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JOHANNA ACEVEDO

THE VIOLINIST LINOLEUM CUT PRINT ON HAND MADE PAPER


CONTRIBUTOR’S PAGE Johanna Acevedo is a sophomore seeking a degree in Art. Peacock Singer The Violinist

Bryan Collins is a freshman majoring in General Studies. The Aging Theory: Old MenBlack The Aging Theory: Old Women-Black

Shannon Bayer received her BA in English from Macon State College in the fall. The Pedicure

Chris Costello is a freshman and an Art major. Hendrix Thich Quan Duc

Lily Billingsley is a senior majoring in Communication and Information Technology. Dana’s Bass Guitar Peacock Three Women

Shanna Dixon is a junior majoring in New Media and Communication and minoring in Creative Writing. Pirogue Silverado

Ashlee Borden is a junior. Real Life Muses

Deborah Ealer is a sophomore majoring in Business. Empty

Kayla Brazelton Psychedelic

Katherine Brockman is a freshman majoring in English. Message in a Bottle

Erma Kim Halstead is a senior majoring in New Media and Communication. Mulatto Girl


CONTRIBUTOR’S PAGE Lana Harris is a junior majoring in Psychology. Dirty Denim

Sarah Hollifield is a freshman majoring in Business. Marbles

Nathan Kirkpatrick is a senior majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Blend Shorn Trivialities

Phillip Lux is a senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in English. The Sunni Triangle

Morgan Mendez Realism

Tesia Miller is a junior majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Management. Baby Feet

Candace Cooper Mullis is a senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with an English concentration Penumbra

Brandi Oates is a senior pursuing her BA in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Amy Winehouse’s Final Performance Warm Tides Water and Coffee Cups

Tameka Phillips is a junior, majoring in Education with a concentration in English and History. Study of a Seated Figure

Rachel Podwolsky is a freshman majoring in Biology. In His Eyes

Matthew Poley is a senior majoring in History. Rhinestone Eyes


CONTRIBUTOR’S PAGE Lee Purvis is a sophomore studying Art. A Tribute to Chuck Close’s ‘Susan’ Red Self-Portrait

Danielle Quesenberry is a junior majoring in English. Anticoagulant Propagating Oleanders Tin Princesses

Chanda Roderick is a senior majoring in Communication and Information Technology. The Wondering

Chris Schmitz Beulah

Leslie Smith is a junior majoring in English. Casualties Housekeeping

Carina Tipton is a junior majoring in English and minoring in Gender Studies. Naked

Shanda Vogel is senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on English. Killer

Berniece Whitehead is senior majoring in Education. Changing Strings Just Gone

Elizabeth Worthy is a senior majoring in English and minoring in Creative Writing. Hey God

Benjamin Zahn is a senior and a traditional English major. The Cheapest We Got The Stain of Your Thoughts The Twelve


The fall line is a geographical boundary about twenty miles wide that runs across Georgia northeastward from Columbus to Augusta. As the Mesozoic shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean, it separates Upper Coastal Plain sedimentary rocks to the south from Piedmont crystalline rocks to the north. The fall line is notable not only for the geological relationship but also for the impact that the geology had on early transportation and consequently on commerce and society. Rivers of the Coastal Plain were a major means of commercial transportation during the 1700s and early 1800s. The cities of Columbus, Macon, Milledgeville, and Augusta were located at the fall lines of the Chattahoochee, Ocmulgee, Oconee, and Savannah rivers respectively. The differences in geology to the north and south of the fall line give rise to differences in soil types, hydrology, and even stream morphology. A consequence of these differences is that the fall line separates significantly different plant and animal communities. Diversity lives on the fall line and provides the perfect name for our journal. The Fall Line Review is a compilation of the creative conscience of Macon State College. Just as cities evolved along the fall line: thought, poetry, art, and creativity find a place to burgeon, inspire, and prevail. Edited and designed by a student editorial board annually, The Fall Line Review represents the best art, poetry, fiction, and diversity in the Middle Georgia area. 2012

VOLUME XV


TheFallLine Review