The Round, Fall 2013 : Issue IX

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The Round Fa l l




Naya Bricher, Snake Energy acrylic on gessoed paper, 25” x 25”

Ta bl e o f L it e ra ry A r t

With Laux by April Salzano ...................................................... 1 Elegy from October by Sarah Bence ............................................ 2 How easy droughts are by Sarah Bence ........................................ 5 The Price of a Damned Perfection by Nikhita Mendis .................. 6 The Blind Kid by Camille Goodison ........................................ 10 Emily as the Length of my Gaze by Darren Demaree .................. 36 Emily as Almost Illuminated by Darren Demaree ...................... 37 Wherever We Want by Donna Emerson .................................... 38 Septic Hole by Marc Berman ................................................... 40 I Wake Up Some Mornings by Will Berry .................................. 44 An Unsteadying by Amanda Phan ............................................ 52 This is my Revival by Kristen Brida .......................................... 54 Your eyes are not eyes by Kristen Brida ....................................... 55 Insanity for Gregory Kusterbeck by Bindu Bansinath .................. 56 Ode to Father’s Day by Peter Obourn ....................................... 59

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The Anarchist by Lizzie Davis .................................................. 60 Blue by Lauren Sukin .............................................................. 70 Ophelia by Sarah Cooke .......................................................... 74 Because Tomorrow by A.J. Huffman ......................................... 78

Tab le o f V i s u al A r t

Snake Energy by Naya Bricher .................................................... i A Street Corner by Amanda Lee ................................................. 4 Refraction by Amanda Lee ..................................................... 8-9 Untitled 1 by Nic Baird ........................................................... 34 Untitled 2 by Nic Baird ........................................................... 35 Wrangle by Naya Bricher ......................................................... 41 Pleasantville by Naya Bricher .................................................. 42 Finite Number of Packed Lunches by Naya Bricher .................... 43 Creases by Anna Muselmann ................................................... 51 Untitled 3 by Nic Baird ........................................................... 58 Untitled 4 by Nic Baird ........................................................... 67 Australia by Riley Ryan-Wood ................................................ 68 Nikiah by Riley Ryan-Wood ................................................... 69 Mercury Retrograde by Naya Bricher ........................................ 73 Apothecary by Kate Silzer ........................................................ 79

“Who shall tell what may be the effect of writing?” —George Eliot, Middlemarch

With Laux

April Salzano I eat her poems, hunched over a bowl of granola and yogurt, read it for signs of nut clusters, take big mouthfuls, chew, autopilot-swallow. I am consumed by words I both could and could never create. It is past noon and I have already run my miles, folded two loads of laundry, graded one paper on my stack of twenty-four-more-to-go, revised my to do list into something more realistic, and started dinner. The stew simmers on the stove, squares of potato float in cold water, waiting their turn to drown like chunks of angus I carved a butcher knife straight through, blood staining my cutting board like punctuation. One hour left until I get the kids from school. I have finished four books of poetry, begun the last. I do not know what I am going to do when she’s gone. She is already 60 years old. I am twenty years behind in discovering the metaphor for everything.


Elegy from October

Sarah Bence V. There is absolutely nothing better than walking these foreign freezer aisles on my own, five dollars for baskin robbins and I bet less for progresso—comfort food: the frost melts in circles on the glass doors so my reflection stares back, half real and mostly invisible. IV. I walked in the convenience store and there was this ecstatic white light like what you saw when you died or a terrible sort of white noise in my eyes. The red plastic baskets fit one into the other. III.

When someone you love dies you do not ask what do I do or why Your cells will lead you one by one to where you need to be That was frozen foods, for me.


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II. I wonder if you named each bone as they broke inside your body one through two hundred and six. Because I know you knew their names and also how to play trumpet like you were weaving a black velvet tapestry. I. When your mom drove us to preschool your brother said marry me please but you and I had exchanged vows as of recess yesterday.


Amanda Lee, A Street Corner

How easy droughts are

Sarah Bence to forget. Each one the first ever crack in the garden (the first time tomatoes wrinkled!) the longest stretch of the thermometer the first worst absence of peaches, and how sweet the wormed survivors, how wet the final rain: how happily unremembered when he palms the apple that grew to fall, his peeling comparison: “Ever notice how an apple’s skin is a galaxy this constellation of spots here and here, Sarah, notice how stars grow on trees?�


The Price of a Damned Perfection

Nikhita Mendis I connected each piece as I thought it had been. The sharp ridges aligned with the closest of its kin, yet there was no synthesis for I did not assume my original shape. Fumbling over blunt edges, I tried desperately to make the sides click, click, like the sound of a lock when opened. Opened, exposed, a fading deer pierced by the inert thorns of its own antlers. Is it cannibalism when the predator is already dead? As the fragments gathered in their personal purgatory anticipating the rewards of their entitlements, rays of light lit the night, black as the charred remains of a partially burnt panther whose ashes serve as the nesting ground for waxen worms mocking their way through life and death. A rich trailer mix of cat’s carcass for the crows to feast upon when feeling inadequate. The rationale: What better to boost self-esteem than a prey twice your size? The heart, a swollen bulb of haughty autonomy, a facetious shell masking the filament inside 6

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alight when ablaze yet the fire turns to ice in the ravaged chaos of the crow’s feast. A rancid stench emanated from the room. A labyrinth of timeless injustices, the cries of the strong crippled under the weight of false mercy, the silence of the weak sealed the fate of the mistaken route. Anaemic laughter rattled the dormant pathways, an acrimonious derision of exposed veins directing the persecutor through a rough city plan of human deception. The impenetrable jigsaw consisted of pieces that did not correspond, the single solution to defile every piece into a forced union of incongruous splinters. Each erosion with the glass file betraying the concealed malice of the price for a damned perfection.


Amanda LEE, Refraction charcoal, tape, newspaper, glue

The Blind Kid

Camille Goodison “Oh no.” A sigh. It’s raging outside. No April showers but a full thunderstorm. White lightning flash, black thunder, the whole works. There’s a beauty to the way in which Mother Nature prepares everyone for summer; for the heat, the ubiquitous news stories of scandal, celebrity, and mayhem; for the noise, chaos and easy seasonal euphoria. It rains heavily outside, but not for long. “Oh no,” is the again-panicked response. “What happened?” As he sits before his computer, James reaches over to his left. Just minutes before was a loud pop! sounding like it came from outside. If only he had really long arms and could see what had happened. That’s how people see. Something’s wrong, but what, exactly, he’s not sure. A coolness falls over his face and he knows his computer is dead. It was the pop that killed it. “Mom! Something’s wrong with my computer.” With an absent lick of the fingers, Mom leaves the kitchen where she’s eating alone and walks up to the boy. The fact that she prefers to eat alone does leave her feeling guilty. You see, he has the habit of pressing his thumbs to his already deep-set blackrimmed eyes. It looks painful, the way those thumbs just sink in as if he were pressing on silly putty. He does this to calm himself. It’s his way of controlling the sensation that his eyes are jumping around though they’re not. He resents it when she tells him to 10

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stop. In the past, he’s thrown food and spat out porridge. Yes, something all kids do, but that’s not always easy to remember. If she sits too close, he’ll grab her, digging his fingers into her flesh. He doesn’t do this as much as he did when he was younger; but he still does on occasion, when she sits with him, even though she tells him she’s not going anywhere. The doctors say he wouldn’t grab and pinch her so if she would eat with him more, if she did all she could to reassure him. “Anxiety is normal in kids like him,” one doctor explained. But it hurts to even think of that. Her boy, afraid of a dark that won’t go away. James is the kind of sweet, obedient kid many mothers would die to have, and that’s why it’s so hard to feel this way: that she’d rather be alone in her own darkness than have to contemplate his. He stands up to meet her. It’s a small enough apartment, busy in the kitchen and two bedrooms, but sparse in the remaining areas. The living room where James stands and walks toward his mother has only a table and a few chairs. There’s also some kind of tan and beige furry carpet, not a pretty thing, and a small television set that is never on. “What now?” she says, placing her hand on his shoulder. “I don’t know. It’s my computer. It sounds like something hit it,” he says. “Let’s look.” She walks him back to his chair. James’s mother, Violet, has a kind, pleasant face, the generic type you’d find on the farmer’s wife in any book of tales. A permanent spot of blush here and there and a soft, pointy chin.


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She’s trim and short and looks a little more cushiony in places than she probably would if she were a few inches taller. “Have you tried restarting it?” she says, and he shakes his head ‘no.’ “First there was that sound and then I smelled something burning so I didn’t want to touch it.” “Let’s give it a try then,” she says. Nothing happens. There’s no beep, no whir, no light. “Yep, I think it’s fried.” There’ve been other moments like these, things going wrong at the worst times—lightning striking—so James’s mom remains calm though he is finding it hard to do the same. What’s happened? What’s going to happen? He likes typing on his computer. What about his paper for class? What about school tomorrow? What is wrong now, again? And why? His mother consoles him. “Don’t worry. We’ll get it fixed. The lightning must have struck it.” “But I need it.” “I’ll call your teacher tomorrow. I’ll let them know,” says his mother. For James, and so for her, this is potentially another bigger-than-it-should-be problem. There’s no way of reading his face. His shoulders slump a little as he sits before the machine and, as he does most of the time, he accepts what she says. His face betrays no emotion. No anger, no fear, no sadness. He’ll wait until tomorrow. “And I’ll call your Dad,” says Mom, “I think he should know.” It’s turning out to be a very busy morning for James’s mom. She gets dressed for her job as a nurse, makes breakfast,


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and takes a final look at the computer before packing it up. She’s on the phone now. “I think you should take care of it,” is the last thing she says before hanging up. They’re divorced and not on friendly enough terms for her to suggest James’s half-sister as a playmate. Their separation was a slight variation of a common story. The stress of a blind first-born son was too much for the both of them and she preferred not having to worry about how her marriage was holding up under the strain, about the competing advice of in-laws and everyone else. James’s condition was one thing enough to worry about. “I just spoke with Dad,” she turns around and says, a little surprised to find him standing right behind her. Who knows how long he’s been standing there, she thinks, and how does he do it? These days he’s becoming even more insistent on doing everything himself. He didn’t wait for her to wake him up this time. She worries for him. He’s asked for a mountain bike. “What did he say?” “He’ll take care of it. He doesn’t think it’ll be a problem to get it working again.” “What about school?” “I’ll call. What do you want to eat?” “Toast.” The administrator who answers the phone at James’s school is a kind-sounding woman with a fine, high-pitched voice. “We’ll let his teachers know.” “I’m running a little late so he might be too,” she says. He only eats half of the toast but quickly puts away the fritters and banana pudding. Before long, he’s feeling his way


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down the hall. She checks to make sure he doesn’t bump into anything. “I’m fine, Mom,” he drawls in that way kids do. “I want to make sure you don’t burn yourself in the bath,” she says. It’s never happened, James scalding himself by accident, but she’s convinced he’s becoming a little too brave. He protests as she follows him to the shower: “I’m fine.” She stands there for a while as he strips and climbs over into the tub. He feels with both hands for the knobs and faucet and turns the cold knob. Slowly and carefully he sticks his fingers in the cold stream. He fumbles for the hot and turns that knob. He places both hands under the faucet, palms up; a few seconds are all he needs to test the water. Finally, he reaches for his washcloth with his right hand. He turns the hot water knob with his left, one last time, for a final temperature adjustment. He lathers up, and it does look awkward the way he does it, left hand over right. He soaps up with no trouble though and takes his bath. He’d prefer her not sticking around to watch, but soon enough, she leaves. His mother selects his clothes and lays them on his bed: a dark blue-and-white horizontal striped rugby shirt, a worn pair of jeans. “Jeeze.” It’s really late. The time on her watch says five minutes to go. Scrambly, skinny legs, like a delicate new fawn, James walks over to his bed in only his jockeys. He’s gangly like his Dad, all tied-up legs and arms, long and not long enough, his feet turn out slightly. It’s common in kids like him. Something about early childhood motor skills. Something the doctors said. Long lashes frame his downcast eyes as he feels along the bed until his fingers


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find his jeans. “We have to leave,” his mother tells him. “Okay.” He’s still thinking about his computer and when he’ll get it back. Will he get it back? It’s going to be tough without it. It’s a normal computer, a computer like all others, something he has to keep explaining. It’s the kind of computer that normal people use and that normal people understand. You can type what you want to say and then have it printed out and there it is. Normal words in a normal language written in a totally normal way. Not something you have to explain. He can feel these are his favorite pants. They’re thin and smooth at the knees, with two pockets in back, and two in front, and they’re long enough to cover the tops of his feet. These are the jeans he selected himself when his mom took him shopping and the ones he wears skateboarding. As he slips into his jeans, springing off the ground in a little jump, getting ready to zip up, he thinks about his classes for the day, especially Mr. Rose’s. There’s supposed to be a test. His mother hands him his shoes and his cane. He places the shoes on the floor in front of him and rests the cane on the side of the bed. He finishes dressing himself and sits in his chair by the window, waiting for his mom to come in and pack his bag and comb his hair. He always combs his hair himself but then she pretends like he didn’t and immediately starts recombing before sending him off. Unlike yesterday, it’s very hot today. The sun rests harshly on his skin. He hears the cars and people down below. How far up am I, he wonders. Not very far. The cars are very loud and the people even louder. The elevator ride always makes it seem such a long way down.


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• • • As the blind kid waits, fellow classmate, Omar, is already on his way to school. I hope I don’t see Cliff. I don’t need trouble. I try to tell my mom and dad that he’s the one who starts all the fights, but they don’t believe me, or they tell me that I have to learn to ignore troublemakers and turn the other cheek. I don’t see how you can ignore somebody who walks right up to your face each time to call you names. The other day I tried not saying anything or doing anything and he just stood there for a second, then shoved me to the ground and ran off. I don’t want him thinking he can get away with that all the time. I’m not afraid of him. Not when we were both at P.S. #2 and not now. Since I left for my new school he doesn’t bother me as much, but he still bugs me when he gets the chance. Last time I told him he’s just upset because I finally made it to junior high and he’s still in grade school and that made him really mad. I actually feel bad for him because he’s the oldest guy in his grade and he keeps getting sent back. Even his mom is embarrassed. She’ll call my mom to apologize for the way he acts. Says not even she knows what’s the matter with him. I would help him now that I’m getting better grades but that would probably make him even more mad. So I just avoid him, even though I hear, recently, he’s been avoiding me too. Normally my mom drives me to school, but sometimes I tell her I can take the subway. She always thinks something bad is going to happen but Dad will jump in and tell her that she should


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let me ride by myself, that the subways are safe and I’m a big boy and all of that. “Don’t spoil him,” he’ll say. “If someone wants to give you a hard time, you just give them a hard time back.” One minute he tells me I have to stop making trouble, then he’ll say something like that. I don’t think he’s happy about having to take me out of public school and sending me to this new school instead. The last time I griped about a problem I was having, he said, “It’s not free.” The school takes up a whole block and at one end of it you can see kindergartners inside their rooms doing art. They have the biggest playground, I think, but then ours isn’t too bad either. It’s big enough for a basketball court if they wanted one. The seniors hang out by the Korean deli across the street and pretty much everywhere else. They spill out into the street despite neighborhood complaints about them sitting on people’s cars, idling. Our homeroom teacher, Mr. Rose, teaches English first period. He gives a lot of work and always acts like we’re driving him crazy, like we are giving him too much to do. We know he likes our drama teacher and goes to school himself. He’s in college. When I get to homeroom, I see Kerry and Laura there. They’re inseparable. They go everywhere together. They even dress alike. Hair in two ponytails at the side, tight blue jeans and pink jackets. I go to my table beside theirs and wait for the others to start showing up. I see Mrs. Brick talking to a woman outside by the door. The woman wears a long skirt and long-sleeved blouse and has long hair. She nods as Mrs. Brick talks to her, then looks


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in at us and looks around the class. She turns to Mrs. Brick and asks her something. They talk for a while until nearly everybody is in. Normally Mr. Rose would be here by now, but instead it’s Mrs. Brick standing at the door as the long-skirt woman walks toward Mr. Rose’s desk, which is stacked with a ton of papers and books. Mrs. Brick leaves and the woman by Mr. Rose’s desk opens her black leather bag and takes out a book. She puts it to the side and studies the sheet of paper Mrs. Brick gave her. No one else seems to notice her at all and everyone’s making a lot of noise. Mr. Rose would have told us to quiet down a long time ago. But as class is about to start, she gets up, walks in front of the desk and holds up both her hands. “Excuse me!” she says. “May I have your attention, please!” Still, no one pays her any mind, so she stops and places her hands on her hips. I feel sorry for her. It’s mostly Joel. He races up to his friends at the other table, jumps all around and gets the others excited. “C’mon everybody. Be nice.” That’s Laura. Little wisps of her fine hair stick up in the air, from static. She holds her book in front of her face like she’s hoping to disappear. If Joel doesn’t stop, the woman will think we’re all bad. But then everyone quiets down and she smiles and raises her hands again. “Hi. I’m substituting for Mr. Rose. He had to be somewhere else today,” she says. Her name tag says ‘Susannah Atkinson.’ Before she says anything more, Lui holds up her hand and asks to use the bathroom. “Is it an emergency?” I think the teacher’s ready to say something like, ‘don’t test me!’ We had a substitute once who


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would say that every time we asked her a question like that, could we use the bathroom or go to the water cooler. Lui is one of the cool girls. She hangs out with the kids who’re always talking about all these great parties they went to over the weekend. She’s the tallest of everybody and I can tell that scares some of the guys even though she’s sort of pretty and nicer than the other girls in her group. “Um, ok, never mind,” replies Lui. “So it’s not an emergency?” asks the teacher, and Lui shakes her head ‘no.’ “Mr. Rose did leave a quiz for you, so find your group and start your questions and let me know if you don’t have a copy of the questions. I have extras.” I start groaning along with the others. I was kind of glad Mr. Rose wasn’t here. I thought that meant no quiz. “No, no, no. We’re still on!” she says with a laugh. She stands with her hands full of papers and her arms folded to her chest as we move around to our groups. “What’s my question?” Joel asks her. “What group are you in?” “Four.” “Do number one.” “Aww, do I have to? Can I change?” “No,” says the teacher. “Do the question assigned to your group.” “Why do I have to get the worst question?” “How would you know that when you haven’t even read it?” I sit where I normally sit, in the right corner of the room. The only other person in my group is Malcolm. And James. James


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the blind kid has always sat at our table, so Mr. Rose let him stay with us. I think Mr. Rose was happy to have a ready-made group where we all got along with no squabbling. He had a harder time satisfying the rest of the class. Lui cried when he tried putting her with Joel and apart from her usual group of friends. As for Joel and Rich and Jan, they like being together and fighting among themselves. Malcolm and I aren’t the best of friends, but our parents have gotten to know each other. We’re the only two black boys in the class. Malcolm’s mom is a lawyer and his dad is a college teacher. (My mom’s a librarian and my dad an electrician.) He’s been here longer than I have. I only started last year. He’s been here since kindergarten. We both sort of keep to ourselves and don’t have a lot of friends. He has a sister who’s almost a senior and pretends she doesn’t know him when she passes him in the hall. She’s part of a group that speaks in made-up-Shakespearean and likes to dress in velvet and lace. So Malcolm and I look out for one other even though we don’t have much to say to each other. I really start wondering about James though. He’s usually late, but not this late. And he’s never missed a day of school except once when he got the flu at the same time everyone was getting it. Maybe I’m closer to James than I am to Malcolm because Malcolm just doesn’t want to talk to anybody, but I think with James and me, other people don’t know what to say to us. We both just started and are still kinda new, and we both live far away from here anyway and I don’t think either of us lives in a house big enough for a party. We try finishing up our questions. I wanted to type my


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essay but Joel got to use the computer instead. I was sitting there first but he asked and told the teacher she had to let him use it since he asked and I didn’t. My question is on fate and I talk about what I would do if I had a pearl. If I had one, it would be because I’m really lucky. I don’t know if it would lead to bad things but I doubt it. It would have to be good. You could buy a lot of things if you had a big pearl like that. No secondhand anything. Maybe the reason why things turn out so badly for the people in the Steinbeck book is because they didn’t appreciate how lucky they were in the first place, and so they couldn’t help getting greedy. Maybe if they were happy with finding a pearl and left it at that and went on their way then everything would have been okay. But I write about what happened to the people in the book and I say what I would do if I was very rich. The teacher is reading a book and the room is very quiet. She has long brown curls and a short, diamond-shaped nose. The book has Charlie Brown and Snoopy on the cover. She looks around the room and then goes back to her book. Snoopy hugs Charlie’s legs and Charlie breaks out into his crumbly smile. The cover says “The Gospel According to Peanuts.” After spending the beginning of the class staring into space, Gina starts packing her bag. Her group sits right in front of the teacher and she stands up to tell her something. “I got a big bump on my head yesterday… I have permission to go.” I just notice how small she is and that she has knockknees. Ms. Susannah gives her a ‘Yeah, right’ look, resting her book pages down on the table, she cocks her head to the side,


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raises her eyebrows and says, “Really.” Gina turns to the two other girls at her table and says— “She doesn’t believe me!” “It’s true!” Joel jumps in. “She’s supposed to go to the nurse.” “Really,” the teacher says with a smile. She won’t let Gina go. “No, it’s true,” the two girls at Gina’s table say. “She doesn’t believe me!” Gina says to the class, but a girl at Lui’s table says quietly, “She does have to go, it’s true.” Laura, the girl who told everybody to be nice, says it’s true too, and this time the teacher says, “Okay.” Just then, I hear James’s cane tap-tap-tapping up the staircase. I think he travels all the way across town to come to school, or maybe it’s because he’s blind, but a lot of times he’s the last guy to show up for class. It’s always just like five minutes or so, but this time he’s really late. I’m not sure how he gets to school but I wouldn’t be surprised if he walks the whole way by himself. He likes to do everything himself, which is fine because mostly everybody just leaves him alone anyway. He shows up with his big backpack and without his computer. He always has his computer. I think he can talk into it. I once saw him do that. I don’t say anything to him, but I think he can tell that I’m here because he always knows where to stop and rest his bag. He doesn’t like to sit. He’s always standing. In place. By himself. Like he’s doing now. But not for long. He’s popular today and people are all around him in no time.


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“Where’s your computer?” somebody asks. “Did something happen to it?” asks someone else. “It got hit by lightning,” he says calmly. “Wow! That’s so cool!” says Joel, his eyes now almost out of his head. The teacher walks over to us and makes a shhing sound with her finger on her lips. “But his computer got hit by lightning!” responds Joel. “That’s quite enough,” the teacher says. “Why don’t you return to your seat.” “But…” “No,” she tells him. “But that’s so cool!” says Joel again. She turns around to face him, and he retells her in a whisper, like he’s hoping this time she’ll be impressed too. “His computer got hit by lightning though.” She leads Joel back to his table and shoos everyone else away. She stoops down to talk to the blind kid. “Hi, are you James?” “Yes,” he says. She’s very close to his face, almost like she’s staring at him. “I’m Susannah. I’m your teacher for today. I’m subbing for Mr. Rose.” “So you’re Ms. Susannah then?” he asks her. She laughs, “You can call me that, yes. I heard that you don’t have your computer? Is that right?” “Yeah.” “What happened?” “It was hit by lightning.”


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“Really?” “Yes.” “Oh, that’s too bad. So…” She looks to me. I try to help her. “He has a typewriter,” I say. “He has a Brailler? Where is it?” “It’s over here?” says Malcolm. He’s already standing by the machine. “Could you bring it over?” I go and help Malcolm bring it over to the table. I place it down in front of the blind kid. It’s small but heavy with only four or five buttons. Really big buttons, though. He rests his hands on the machine like he’s getting ready to type. “Let me know if you need anything,” says Ms. Susannah. “Okay,” he says. “Do you know what you’re supposed to do, by the way? “Um, no. What’s my question?” “What group are you in?” “One.” She’s holding a pink paper in her hand and some green and white ones too. “Your question is number two,” she says. “Could you read it for me, please?” “… several bad things happen to people in the novel after discovering the pearl. Give three examples of the role of fate in The Pearl. Fate is something good or bad…” “I know, I know,” he says quickly. “I know what fate is.” He wants her to skip ahead to the rest of the question, but that’s it. Maybe he just wants to get started.


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He sort of looks at you when he’s talking or maybe just over your shoulder. He has normal-looking blue eyes and he’s a serious kid, kind of like me. And Malcolm too. The three of us aren’t very close but we do all right together. Clack. Clack. Clack. That’s the noise from his machine. He hits the buttons hard and the sound fills the room. Everyone’s really quiet now because they have little time to finish their questions. He stops for a long time like he’s really thinking about the question, and he sighs. His hands are just resting on the buttons and he’s staring out with the cane handle resting on his chest. Did I mention, his white cane is as tall as he is? He lets out a bigger sigh after a while and then it’s clack, clack, clack again. Maybe he can’t help thinking so much. I could ask him what he’s thinking about. I get a copy of The Red Pony when I hand in my paper. The two tall stacks of paperback copies are almost all gone now since everybody finished writing and got their copy. James finishes too, both hands on his cane, and stands alone by his typewriter. Eventually Ms. Susannah picks up his Braille boards. They’re yellow folders with pin-head sized punctures. “You’re done?” “Yes,” he says. She goes over to the file cabinet again. She took out all the books before, so I don’t know what she’s looking for. She goes back to her desk and looks around before walking over to my table. “Is there a book for you?” she asks him. “Do you know where it would be?”


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“Mr. Rose would know,” he says. She searches her desk again and this time she goes through the drawers. She comes back over and looks at me. “Is there a Braille book?” she asks. “Mrs. R would know,” Malcolm says to her. She turns to James, “Who is Mrs. R?” “She’s a lady who prepares materials for me,” he says with a gentle inflection, but he also sounds like a little old man. He respects grown-ups and always answers their questions except sometimes I think he feels like it’s too much. At least that’s what I think he means when he sighs and sounds annoyed. She turns to me. “Could you find her?” she asks. “I don’t think she’s around. She only comes around sometimes,” I explain. “I could ask Mrs. Brick.” I get up to go look for her. “And ask her where his books are, please.” I leave and go downstairs to Mrs. Brick. She sends me back upstairs and tells me to go to the teacher next door. But the teacher next door doesn’t know where his books are either. I approach Ms. Susannah to tell her but she just looks at my face, purses her lips and turns on her heels. She walks quickly across the room to search the cabinets again, the ones against the wall. She walks back to her desk, pushes the books and papers around and then just stands there with her head down and her hands resting on her hips. James is no longer still. Everyone is now on to the next assignment, reading the same paperback that features a frolicking pony. Ms. Susannah and the next door teacher, who comes in to help, searches for James’s


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reading materials as he ambles around the room kind of aimlessly. We’re all trying to be good and read our books and, as usual, no one notices him; it’s like he’s not there. Ms. Susannah goes over to the blind kid and stoops to speak to him: “I can read to you if you’d like?” “Um, I like when people read to me and everything,” he says, “but…” He doesn’t want to hurt her feelings. “But you want to read for yourself,” she says. “Okay, I’ll find it.” She’s back to fumbling around at her desk when suddenly, she pulls out a yellow folder from a pile of papers in a book on her desk. It’s like she’s going to cry until that moment when her face lights up—“Yes!” She walks over to the blind kid and gives him the folder. He makes his way back to our part of the room, sits down and rests his head on the table. I watch as his fingers glide down the yellow boards. Not long after, the period ends and it’s suddenly noisy. Ms. Susannah looks lost for a minute until the teacher from next door shows up and says something to her. She turns to the class before the other teacher is even out the door, and loudly says to us: “Okay, everyone. I want you to pack up your things, form an orderly line and go to the library.” She sounds like she means it this time and we slowly drag ourselves down to the library in pairs. James is alone in the back. Ms. Susannah is behind him, barking at us to hurry up. We have a free period that we alternate with drama. We’re supposed to just sit and read again but I don’t want to do that. We have the library to ourselves and decide to flop ourselves down on the floor and talk and play games.


Th e Bli n d Ki d , C amil l e Good i son

Rich doesn’t have any shoes on, and neither does Joel. Rachel brought crayons and is drawing a horse, a red pony, for Ms. Susannah. Malcolm brought his video game, so we can play against each other. I see Ms. Susannah talking to the librarian. “I’m not going to get them to sit quietly and read,” she says. “Well, they can do other things, but it has to be educational.” Ms. Susannah slings her bag back over her shoulders and uses a rubber band to put her hair in a ponytail. She walks over to Rich and Joel. “Where are your shoes?” “I do have on shoes,” says Rich. He’s wearing someone else’s. They’re obviously too small for him. Joel joins in with a mismatched pair. They continue to laugh until she goes away. “Is that educational?” she says to me. Malcolm answers yes, “It’s about farming. We’re learning farm management.” “I don’t think so,” she says. “From what I can see, you’re just exploding cows. Take out a book.” Reluctantly, I take out my copy of The Red Pony and continue to read. Malcolm is still trying to see how many cows he can explode. Several times she tries to get us to “do something educational,” but eventually she leaves us alone. We’re not that unruly and she seems happy with that. Again, James is by himself and making his way around the room without his cane. He stumbles around absently, stops


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for a while, then moves around again. He seems lost in thought. Like he thinks a lot. He stands by Peter and his friends, who are playing with action figures. I say, kind of quietly, “James wants to play.” Peter shouts back without looking or stopping, “He can’t play. You have to see to play this game.” James is still standing by them and it’s a long time before he moves. He moves over to us. Mrs. Brick comes in to talk to Ms. Susannah, who seems surprised to see her. Mrs. Brick looks around and fixes on Joel’s group. She says something to Ms. Susannah, who nods her head up and down, yes. She goes back over to Rich and Joel. They both walk upstairs to homeroom, I think, for their shoes. Ms. Susannah goes back to Mrs. Brick. She nods her head yes again and puts the book she was reading in her bag. Mrs. Brick walks out while Ms. Susannah looks at her watch, then stares out the window. I’m talking to Malcolm about what I want to be when I grow up. He says a hockey player. I say astronaut. I decide to ask James. “What do you imagine being?” “A truck driver,” he says. I don’t know what else to say except, “Why?” Ms. Susannah comes over to us and rests her hands on James. She tells the class that it’s time for recess. “And remember, you only get twenty minutes.” We rush to the door when she shouts: “No. Remember how you came in? A nice line please, and no yelling.” We’re two abreast and ready to leave. “Ok,” she says. James moves away to get his cane then stands around


Th e Bli n d Ki d , C amil l e Good i son

waiting for her. As she gets ready to walk us out, she leans closer to him, and I hear her say, in a lowered voice, “Did you know you can’t be a truck driver?” “Yes,” he says, in that weary way again. And then, almost, like he’s ashamed, “I was just imagining.” Like Malcolm. Like me. Later on, at the end of the school day, I see James alone in the library. He’s waiting for his mom, and I pretend to wait for mine. He has his head on the table again and I don’t know if he’d want to talk to me. When I sit in front of him, he sits up and I ask him, “How come you never say anything to anybody?” “Well, nobody ever says anything to me,” he says. “They would if you let them. I don’t have a lot of friends either, but most of the time people still try to be nice.” “You were reading with everybody else today.” “Yeah…” “So I don’t know what you mean. I hope they’ll know where to find my books next time.” “I liked Ms. Susannah,” I say. “I thought she was very nice.” “I mean, I like her too,” he says. “I just hope she’ll know next time.” “How far did you get in The Red Pony?” I ask him. “Not far,” he says. “The pony dies in the first chapter,” I tell him. “It’s like everything gets sick and dies! I hate the book! I don’t think they should’ve killed the pony. I mean, he didn’t have to get…nothing had to be wrong with him. I mean the book’s named after him! I wasn’t expecting something to go wrong with him! They should’ve been able to fix him or something, so he wouldn’t have to die.”


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“Why?” “Well, first of all, it made the kid, Billy, very sad.” “I wonder what the pony thought of the kid,” he says to me. “How do you think he feels? Everything doesn’t have to be the way the kid wants it. Maybe the horse felt bad because the kid felt so bad. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad for the horse.” “The pony?” “Yeah,” he says. “I mean, they didn’t have to feel bad for him. Just do good. Whatever was best for the pony.” “Yeah, just do good.” I ask him if he has any pets. “No, I get scared of them.” “What do you play with?” “You mean, like toys?” he asks me. “Yeah.” “Teddy bears and things like that scare me too.” “So what do you do?” I ask him. “I read,” he says. “I like to read. My mom says I could be a poet, like Homer.” James’s mother shows up and instinctively he knows she’s there, or maybe it’s because I paused. He gets up to go and she asks me who I am. I tell her my name, as James stands there waiting, and staring, with both hands resting on his cane. She asks me about the both of us, am I good friends with James? He says, “Kinda but not really.” “Well, nice to meet you,” she says, and then they’re gone. • • • He’s on his way to rehab and James sits in the front


Th e Bli n d Ki d , C amil l e Good i son

passenger seat with even more impassivity than usual. And now he’s developed this intermittent wheezing sound, a kind of soundtrack to his mind’s thoughts. “Well, how did it go?” asks his mother. “When am I getting my computer back?” “It’s fixed,” she says. “School wasn’t so bad, was it? Did you have a hard time?” “I don’t want to be late anymore.” “We had an emergency this morning. Do you remember?” She’s sympathetic to his obvious frustration. “What happened today?” And now she’s really curious. “We had a sub. She was trying and everything but she couldn’t find my book.” “That’s not the first time, is it?” But of course, it doesn’t matter if it wasn’t. They travel in silence until she asks about his final destination for the day. “What about your work for rehab? Did you do your homework for that class?” “Yes,” he says, like the good boy he is. But why does he have to go? To normalize himself. He must become familiar with new techniques and gadgets and learn how to talk and play with others. Does he want to do well in life? Yes. Well, he has to learn these things. How to look people in the eye and maintain eye contact when they speak to you. How to use a knife and fork in a restaurant without calling attention to yourself. People expect certain things of you and you don’t want to disappoint. Why make them uncomfortable? You can’t keep saying things like, I could see the lost ball if I had long arms. People will laugh, but what do you do when you’re a man and it’s not so cute? There’re all kinds of things these days, computers you speak to and that


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speak back. You must learn to use them. Homer didn’t have all those things, but he was also a slave. Who wants to be a slave, and one unable to run away? His mother said none of this, of course. “How are you getting along with Mary Ann?” she says. She touches his cheek so he’ll respond. He lowers his head and blushes. He hears his blind friends’ voices, their laughter off in the distance. That means they’ve arrived. He looks forward to a hug from his favorite rehab schoolmate, Mary Ann. An affectionate girl with long arms.


Nic Baird, Untitled 1

Nic Baird, Untitled 2

Emily as the Length of My Gaze

Darren Demaree We all know the distance between my eyes & the physical boundaries of Emily is the deepest level of oasis. The truth of the human heart, the deep creeping of fate, the scotch taste of it, that sway is the real Emily. I see her all the time. I stare. I have no idea what created her.


Emily as Almost Illuminated

Darren Demaree Fine powder, mixed with animal juices, I am dead on, that her high spirit is a nudge towards being witness to an explained world where we vow only to be smart, to be strong for each other, even if it carries a great risk towards our temporary swing through deep gardens, deep mud, water that is always.


Wherever We Want

Donna Emerson We are Newfoundlanders, he says. Very free. Fewer French, more Scottish and Irish here. He runs his hand over his square jaw to meet his dark brown hair. His unlined youth, clear gaze right at me, as he snaps his tight-blue-jeaned hips into his seat, his brown eyes from Ireland. I measure us in our airplane seats. He, shorter, thicker, steady, perhaps more free, as he speaks of twenty-six men on his cargo ship skimming the Great Lakes, taking salt, sand, coal to Chicago and Detroit. He dwells on each word with great emphasis, so I know how important his work, this delivery to centers of commerce. For eight years I travel like this, to the lakes for eight days, then home. Home for a month. He sits back, frank in dark blue flannel. He looks like 38

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someone from long ago. What do you mean, very free? We can go wherever we want, do whatever we want. That’s my house, right there. His muscled forearm wears a navy blue tattoo. He taps the window, points not far from the coast’s point, the easternmost tip of North America. His arm leads me to the ground. I have to lean into him to see, Cape Spear.


Septic Hole

Marc Berman Our neighbor who dug a septic hole without notifying us is in a red kayak arms flailing marooned in the middle of the lake. His blind dog paddles out, pins of wet light in its milky eye sockets directing him somehow. We lean against begonia boxes on the deck eating pistachios with one hand, sipping wine with the other, watching the rescue unfold.


Naya Bricher, Wrangle egg tempera on grey, original gessoed panel, 11.75� x 11“

Naya Brich er , Pleasantvi lle Mar ker o n g esso ed paper , 20� x 20�

Naya Bricher, Finite Number of packed lunches marker and acrylic on gessoed paper, 25� x 25�

I Wake Up Some Mornings with a Pressing Urgency to Micturate, Yet Remain Bedridden with Lust

Will Berry “Ring,” the phone bitched. “Hello?” “Em, ring?” The sand blurred my view of the screen, but a blink later I could make it out. It was only my alarm, telling me I had to be in class, dodging any retort I’d give if it were anyone calling me. Luckily, that bastard of a device would redeem itself with apps that let me practice German on the toilet. Uns, zwei, drei. Uns, zwei, drei. The lesson reminded me of the last day I saw my friend over the summer. “Guten Abend!” I waved to him as he shuffled in a plié toward his car, like the skinny awkward kid he was—a surprisingly excellent dancer, though. He turned around. “Guten Abend!” His full-arm wave seemed to sway his entire body as he hobbled backwards. I called out to him, “I didn’t know: Sprachen Sie Deutch?” “Sprachen Sie Deutch?” he repeated. Silence. To me, his smile will forever remain innocent. My arm made a final sweep overhead, as if making a curt Tschüss, and he backed his convertible out of the driveway. The kid not going to college has a convertible. Typical. Peanut butter from the shelf; jelly from the fridge; 44

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grabbing breakfast, I opened the loaf of bread and took out a slice. The piece had a hole in it. I hated when my bread had holes in it. I gave the loaf a glare, and the bread knew that it should hate its own existence too. I had no clue where my roommate was in the mornings. He was never there when I woke up, which shouldn’t have bothered me. Maybe I envied the fact that he had something important to do. My envy would roll over and play dead, though, when we reunited in the evenings, and his mouth would ramble out some annoyance. I do not want to hear an ounce of complaints. There was a dropbox in the student center. Perhaps I should direct my roommate to it. The sign read Coping with Stress? Submit Complaints & Frustrations Here. I wanted to pee in it. Or did I just want to pee? The cool morning air reminded me of inspiration. The night before, I had sent my ex-girlfriend an email with some poems for review. I accompanied the email with a text that said: URGENT in the way that my artistry demands attention: check your email (plz.). She texted back, excited, saying that she would look over them with her neighbor/poetry-major, Simone. Great. I knew she’d hate them: either because she was truly cognizant (thus censorious), or because my poems were good and she was jealous. That’s what I should have expected from a person whose name is comprised of two, non-articulate forms of verbal expression. Simone. Sigh, moan. *sigh*. MMMMRRRRRRRR.


I Wake Up S ome Mor n i n g s , W i l l Be r r y

I get easily bored with my life. I think of something else and feel obligated to write it down. I try to snare the great ideas that fleet by, in and out of my head like they are on some infinite loop: in one ear, out the other, back through the pupil, bouncing off my tongue, climbing back in through the nostril, any combination of these. Their little feet scurry through my hair and they wipe their anuses on my scalp to taunt me with potential magnificence. They sneeze on my cerebral cortex, sprinkling mucous muses. Dang ideas. I wouldn’t want to damn them, I just wish that they would calm down and organize themselves every once in a while. I made it to English class, where I maintain that I was one of three kids who didn’t have a raging crush on the professor. Boys and girls alike. “I don’t like it when the window is open because the noise of traffic stops his voice from sinking into my soul. But it’s so hot!” “I know, right? You just want his voice to resonate within.” Pre-class conversations got much too ridiculous. It was like they were getting each other off with milky compliments about their instructor and his inner pools of innate, unquestionable wisdom. Not that I didn’t believe in orgies or the professor’s knowledge. To me, it just seemed that he had tote bags of wisdom, about four canvas tote bags (metaphorical ones—mind you, this is English class) that he’d accumulated from years of study and tutelage, and maybe set down in some dog shit now and then. Finally, he walks in, with an actual canvas tote bag. He probably thinks it’s cool because he had his initials monogrammed


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when he ordered it from the L.L. Bean catalogue. Hush, hush. All is silent in the room. He speaks, “…Love and romance—” “I agree! On page 85…” Thus the puppies begin their destitute measures for attention. They wind down briefly as he adds, “Unless you prefer to read Madame Bovary in the French.” The French. Classic. You can’t just read it in French. You have to read it in the French if you want to join his book orgy club. “But, I mean, what is language?” he projected from that shit-cannon between his whiskered lips. “I could say Gutereiseschwangerschaft, and you wouldn’t know what I’m saying, unless any of you speak German?” The professor’s open question was disconcerting; either he was more proficient in German than I, or his accent was terrible and I couldn’t understand him. I don’t believe he was actually asking so much as to drop the fact that he spoke German as well as the French. “I simply said that ‘a man’s words are his legacy.’” And class was over. I told you all the parts I paid attention to. With classes done, I thought I’d catch up with Rick, Ford, and Dom, but I’m the odd one out of the tribunal… I’m the fourth; I’m not even in the tribunal. In case anyone noticed me walking alone toward their dorm, I hooked a right and pretended it was my intention all along to stop by the convenience store.


I Wake Up S ome Mor n i n g s , W i l l Be r r y

Why do I take so much time picking out bread? Oatmeal is fatty, my mom says. I don’t understand how it can have so many calories, yet so many holes. Maybe rye, or pumpernickel, but those are too distinct. White: definitely not. Oh great, now I’m reading the nutrition labels. There’s always whole oats… though I’m not sure how it differs from multi-grain. Evening calls are always a pleasure, especially when they come with an unexpected vibration deep within the front pocket. Oh no, it’s my ex. “I read the poems,” she said. Hi, I’m great, how are you? “Pretty good.” “…The poems?” “Yeah, except, did you really have to say your ‘testosterone pulsated?’ It sounds like you’re masturbating on a Ferrari.” “Yes, I think those words complement each other.” “And Simone doesn’t like your ‘vibration’ poem. She thinks it’s too gimmicky, and she doesn’t like poems that are gimmicky.” I sighed, or moaned. I can’t remember which, but I certainly didn’t honor her with both. “Well, we have to go now.” “Thank you so much for reading them. I owe you one.” “Yeah, especially after the ‘pulsating’ one. Whatever. We’re about to jam to a Dead tribute band.” “So, a red-headed dead-head–”


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“Rambled eggs?” “Two red-headed dead heads?” “Whoa, you’re not going on some spiel, are you now?” “If by spiel, you mean play—no. I don’t play.” There was a serious silence. She was still keen on her 18-month practice of detecting my tone. “They were for you, Cecile.” “What?” “The poems, they were for—” “Enough.” “Let’s chat sometime.” She seemed exasperated at her end of the line. “Okay, just do something else with them. Submit them or something.” “More than happy to.” “…Goodbye.” “Bye.” I hadn’t written them for her, but I was hoping for one moment, I could catch onto what it would be like to be a true romantic. Perhaps I had failed. I felt lost for a whole two minutes as I brushed my teeth. But I returned to my bedroom to find the most wonderful beauty lying on my bed, waiting to be availed. My mattress. Her comforter was still ruffled, seemingly bodacious from this morning. I held my face close to her pillows and whispered sweet longings as I slowly pulled back the duvet to reveal her bottom sheet, tightly fitted to her curves. “It’s been a long time.”


I Wake Up S ome Mor n i n g s , W i l l Be r r y

I climbed on top, and we caressed. But these sweet hours only seemed to be minutes before the bastard returned. “Ring.�


Anna MuselMann, Creases Oil on Canvas, 12” x 12”

An Unsteadying

Amanda Phan My mouth floods The metallic tinge of copper. Sanguine. Sobriety. You left me once the rain fell And fell. Until I too feel Distance. Parted lips graze With the bitterness of Honeycombs and bolts. Swallow the twilight whole. A fraying piece of fabric Quilted from charcoal embers. My four heart chambers. Your cinnamon eyes Below the Nimbus cloud, I savor Stale ryegrass, Summer meadows, And a drop poised On a wide blade. Was it rain? 52

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We dance under a Tin roof and we seep into veins. It tastes like Azul currents And a sterile saltiness Mixed so I cannot feel The difference between your hands And the water.


This is my Revival

Kristen Brida My body acts on the slush sunk in my skull. In the pregnant hours of the night, I tiptoe into the kitchen. I stand over the stove; turn the gas knob; hover my palm over an open flame; my hands dribble into the cast iron; gas range spitting down my throat. If I just spin the dial to the right, make a run for it, this house will go up in smoke. The flames will peel the linoleum scabs from the bathroom, let the termites bleed out. You will be splayed across the bed like a starfish, choking on the gouts of reek while I sip tap water from across the street.


Your eyes are not eyes

Kristen Brida they are honeycombs. Bees suck the sweet from kaleidoscope slots, stealing the sap as the skin around your sockets balloon.


Insanity for Gregory Kusterbeck

Bindu Bansinath who works as a bar promoter in Charleston, SC, bottling Southern girls and their quick daisy feet. hide me behind your head gregory who writes a book on the confederacy, on the rights of states to self-destruct this is your ploy to legalize weed and i hate you in the future tense, i always do gregory who runs for brews in Charleston implicit beer belly california eyebrows in ugly staccato you chant country songs please wipe the Jersey off your vocal cords (try) gregory who coagulates with blonde dolls in a queen-sized bed the rent is sweet and low your boys want to kiss you, soft and old-timey gregory who works until seven AM people pay to drink with you and people pay to drink with you again you the forever-teenager ladies suck on your cross necklace (picture a despondent Jesus. anyways you are marginally seduced) and i am writing to say that i have been writing about you:

in dreams i fly a small plane in half, i die of a hangover

into your chest i rip your bottles and reincarnate and die (of a 56

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hangover) and reincarnate into the kind of woman you might take home; that is, into a thoughtless agreement i wrap little daisy feet behind your heart gregory who is a stud amongst the Hooters’ girls beer breath tiny criminal record (you tried) faux-Southern stranger seduced by moving objects i am writing to confess: i love you in the present tense. keep me inside a bottle gregory who bottles mad women. hide me behind your head (and try. please try).


Nic Baird, Untitled 3

Ode to Father’s Day

Peter Obourn What do you do when you realize you are two people: your father and the person you invented to get away from him. You shrug your shoulders a certain way and say “This is what happens” You’d grind your teeth. You like to argue You are short-tempered. You’ve worked hard to change, but you can feel the real person underneath Do you tell your son?


The Anarchist

Lizzie Davis When I saw him in the cafeteria, he looked unusually yellow. I mean, really pale. Everybody does under the fluorescent lights, I guess, but still. There was winter coming in through the high windows and he had on these tortoiseshell Ray-Ban sunglasses. I was surprised by the cluster of acne on his cheek; he’d always had that babyish skin. And there was this sort of unkempt vacant lot look to his facial hair, scraggly I’d even say. He said something like “Hey, I just smoked some weed,” and sat down with a plate of watery eggs. I think I said “Awesome,” or something. It was kind of funny because I hardly ever talk to him anymore, not since we walked up that hill last semester with the tiny bottles of whiskey tucked up in our sleeves and he talked about how nobody understands him. We were passing this box of Swedish Fish back and forth and he just wouldn’t quit. “The thing is, I’m really awesome. Nobody knows how awesome I am,” he’d said. I’d bitten the head off one of the fish and said, pretty convincingly I think, “People do know that.” We were on that hill and the wind was just coming in gales, real gales, and I could hardly even hear him, but it was fine because he has this one track kind of a mind and it just doesn’t matter, really, how closely I listen. He just keeps on going, to this day, like he thinks he’s Sartre or something. I guess that’s beside the point, but this was a little bit 60

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like that time, I would say. I mean, after the weed comment he was quiet for awhile but then he really got on a roll, the way he normally only does about Swedish synth pop or DeLillo or communes. He took the sunglasses off and there were these big purple stains under his eyes, like he’d been stung by a bee or something, but under both eyes. And he looked at me and said, “I was feeling pretty terrible about everything, you know. But then I just renounced it. I renounced it all.” And he laughed. “Excuse me?” He cleared his throat, peppered what was left of the eggs. “I renounced it.” This time he extended one arm, and waved his hand back and forth, palm forwards, as if to say no more please, thank-you-very-much. “You don’t even know, man. It feels so much better. You just have to renounce.” “Like, just say no? To it all?” “To everything. Just fucking renounce that shit. Have you seen this place where we live?” I guess I probably looked at him kind of stupidly because he went on without me even saying anything. “Look. I used to hate everything. And I still hate everything, but I don’t care about it anymore. I renounced it. That’s what this is.” He grinned and put out one fist, and when I tapped mine against his without thinking twice, he said, really serious suddenly, “Renounce.” “I was walking down in the financial district and they have all those buildings and shit. And I just said, you know, not for me. That’s fine for you people, but not for me.” We were both nodding. “The thing about those buildings is, they have to keep people coming back to them. We’re here and then we’re gone, but those buildings have to prove themselves, man. It’s the


The A n ar c h i st, Liz z ie D av i s

institution.” His index fingers were standing up really tall on the table and he kept slamming them down on the wood. I thought he was going to break a metacarpal or something. “Listen, I don’t want to read about anthropology anymore. I’m sick of that shit. I want to make shit. Real tangible shit.” That’s when it got kind of weird because I sort of understood where he was coming from. Sometimes you just want to make things, it’s true. I do, at least. Sometimes I’m reading Hegel and there are all these capitalized pronouns and I’m sitting there thinking man, it would be nice if I could just build a birdfeeder or something. Something useful like that, nourishing. So I nodded more. “I’m in this class called Circuit Bending. And you literally just get to make stuff. I made a pedal, you know, like for my electric? And I was like, why do we spend all this money and shit when we could just make things. You know what I mean?” “Yeah. Yeah I do.” He put the sunglasses back on and took out some rolling paper and licked the tips of his fingers. He rolled a cigarette and crimped the edges really tight and jammed it into the corner of his mouth and held it there, right in the cafeteria. Then he stood up. “You coming?” And I got up, just like that, even though my cereal was just starting to get soggy, the way I like it. We walked out on the green and it was luminous; people were building snowmen or talking or drinking coffee. He did the motion with his hand again, chest height, wrist dipping left then right, and I did it too. We were laughing pretty continuously by then. I guess renouncing just makes you giddy on some level. He shook his head a bunch of times and gestured at


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everyone in the general area. “Those are the people. Those are the people I’m talking about. Used to ruin everything for me. Just fuck the joy of living up. But now I know, get it? Now I don’t have to even think about them. I don’t even have to give a fuck.” It was chilly and his breath was coming out in grey billows. “Sounds good. Really, though! It sounds great, actually!” I was getting more excited at that point and he knew that and so he got more excited too. I could tell because he started taking these short, percussive drags from his cigarette, and he was walking really fast all the sudden. “Naw, naw, capitalism is the worst. It’s the worst.” He kept brushing his bangs back with the free hand. “I don’t want to be the man’s tool. Capitalism is the actual worst, though, people make money by putting down others, and that’s not cool.” I didn’t say anything because I’m honestly not too sure about my feelings on capitalism and that sort of thing. He went on. “It’s like, I don’t want to live my life constantly working! I just want to create, you know? If I could just write music and smoke weed and build shit, that’s what I would do. Gotta do that.” I said, “So what do we do? Is there anything we can do about it?” He gave me a look like as if to say have you even been listening this whole time and said, the loudest yet, “Renounce!” “But how, is what I was wondering.” He didn’t really give an answer and we walked a couple laps around the green and then I left. I didn’t think anything of it. I just went to my next class and took notes on Derrida and got a sandwich and then I kept doing those sorts of things for a week


The A n ar c h i st, Liz z ie D av i s

or so until I got the voicemail. It was two in the afternoon on a Wednesday or Thursday, Wednesday actually I think because I had just come from Art History. “Yo.” He was laughing for some reason. “Come over tonight, we can get high together. So, yeah, hit me up.” And I did hit him up and I went over to his room. I had never been over there. There was a tapestry on the wall and it was all posters of Jimi Hendrix. It struck me as sort of funny the number of sweaters he had. He hadn’t knit them himself or anything, either, as far as I could tell. Although I didn’t ask, so you never know. Nothing seemed strange at the time. He showed me some of his drawings and we smoked from this blue and white glass pipe. I got high pretty quickly and told him my fingers were numerous, we talked about time and Brazil. Then he got this idea in his head that he wanted to go get on the roof of some building. We were moving like we were underwater but we did it, we walked down to Buxton, all the way down, and went up to the eleventh floor and then it was easy just to sort of find the right stairs and jimmy the door open. Nobody was up there. It was kind of foggy, which is weird for winter, so we couldn’t see a lot. The cars way down on the ground were just these tiny halos. “Man, this is it,” he’d said. “This is really it. You can see it all up here!” You couldn’t really. I mean, it was foggy and the ground was all dirty and my toes were cold from the snowmelt filling up my shoes. “Yeah. It’s something.” I didn’t want to stick around looking out into the water vapor. “You want to go get some tacos?” “Nah, man. I don’t really care for that shit.” He took out his pipe and started packing it again. I was sitting there on the


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building’s edge, and when I get like that, high and everything, I start to hear music sometimes. This time it was “The Girl from Ipanema,” don’t ask me why, and there was a whole brass section and everything and it was kind of nice. That’s maybe the reason why I wasn’t that scared when the security guy showed up. He was maybe 5’6” with these fine, downy eyebrows so you couldn’t tell at first that he was angry. He had a pretty slight frame for someone in that line of work, too, not exactly imposing. They were the same size, almost. He said in this tired voice, “What are you kids doing up here?” I’ve been wondering since why he led with that. The answer seemed so obvious. The security guy got closer and Grant stood up and took a couple of steps from the edge. “Hey man, we’re just enjoying the view. You want a hit?” The guy folded his arms and shook his head. “Thanks kid, but I’m not here to play around. I need to see your identification. And step a little closer, we’re on the eleventh floor.” He didn’t seem really upset or anything, just tired. He turned around to prop the door open and I saw there was a copy of Reader’s Digest tucked in the back pocket of his pants. I kind of felt bad for the guy. “Yeah I know we are. But it’s a great night. And man, weed’s not so bad. Weed’s kind of a good thing. Think how many people would—” The guy cut him off. “Listen, I said step closer. It’s icy and you don’t know what could happen. I would really appreciate it if you two would come down.” I stood up and walked over. I might have been laughing, who knows. The whole thing seemed a little absurd.


The A n ar c h i st, Liz z ie D av i s

“I’m sorry, Officer,” I think I said, and I was looking around for my ID. I had dropped it somewhere and I was down on the ground just feeling around in the snow. I found it in a second or two stood up to handed it over, but something weird was happening to his face. I didn’t know if I was just really stoned or what but it didn’t look like it was moving. He wasn’t looking at me at all, even. And even without eyebrows to raise he looked like he was raising his eyebrows, really raising them all the way up to the crown of his head, and his eyes were so big and round and I didn’t know why, I had no idea why. I turned around then, and I didn’t see Grant. I didn’t say anything but I walked over to the other side of the roof and he wasn’t there. The guy hadn’t moved except he was sort of sliding down the wall and I was thinking maybe somehow Grant had slipped past, gone inside or something, was laughing at us and puffing away in the elevator shaft or the floor with all the maps. He loved that floor. But I looked for him there and he wasn’t. You know that, though, I guess. And so I didn’t see him again, obviously. And that’s all I remember.


Nic Baird, Untitled 4

Riley Ryan-足Wood, Australia Digital Photograph

Riley Ryan-足Wood, Nikiah Digital Photograph


Lauren Sukin There are sleeping dreams and waking dreams, and this is one. A raven is blue in a certain light. In a certain light she too, is in love. In sleeping dreams you cannot change the level of the light. Jane Doe works at home before the old fridge where all the kids have stood before the open door for frigid air. Before the frigid air sets in she might as well be a girl in love, It is a glimpse, it is a shadow of a bird overhead, it could have been a blink, or a trick of the eye. She feels the way a toy feels when its battery runs dry. Jane Doe is awkward like a giraffe, and has a blue tongue. In winter, like a blue-coated wolf she sleeps through the days. She has broad wings on her back, can live days underwater, is the scariest creature. 70

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She is more distinct of purpose. An unhorned head and uncinched belt, she sailed to the East in a wooden boat, slept through the week and woke up on Friday in Thailand, and tasting of wild men, danced with them, adorned with the French crown, but no scepter and no sound. Before the frigid air she remembered she needed to call him but had forgotten his number and his taste, and when the light switch didn’t work, she instead called out to the raven. Blue, it perched on her knee and shook its head like an old man who knew the mountains were impassable, and it flew across the kitchen, barely reached the window sill, and cawed as it fell out into the blue sky. In the taxi she is sewing together syllables and old photographs sheets as old as her wedding the popcorn maker from the back room. At a stoplight, she throws the quilt out the window, throws her body with it. The riot squad moved in: it was raining exclamation marks. “Gentlemen, I have not been


Blue , Lau re n Su kin

doing my best!” she cries, hands to the crying sky, soaked through in a dance older than the frigid air, It wasn’t from crying, but she was wet. Her blue eyes swam downwards in the blue sea, while the blue raven flitted past in the blue sky, whispering, “there are sleeping dreams, and waking dreams, and barely dreams at all.”


Mercury Retrograde, Naya Bricher acrylic & watercolor on original gessoed panel, 16� x 12�


Sarah Cooke I. When your world is on fire, you have to drown to understand that this is not the new normalthe smell of ashes in your coffee, the dark circles under your brother’s eyes as he says goodbye, the dress that is suddenly just a little too big, even though you had it measured last week; these things begin to add up until you are trapped in a coat closet one week hiding from your father, who has taken to telling you that you have to do this to save your family. II.

You’re in love with Hamlet, without really knowing what love is. Your mother died before she could tell you why she married your father. She was sick, and love didn’t save her. So maybe she wasn’t really that sick, or maybe she wasn’t really that in love with him. Without knowing the specifics, but knowing your father, you bite the inside of your mouth and taste blood to keep silent.


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III. It’s okay for Hamlet to be confused because he’s a boy, a prince who will one day hold the world in his hands, while you’re just a girl standing in the shadows, waiting for your father to push you forward like an assassin tainted with honey. For you, there are no worlds waiting to be held. You place your hands together and imagine someone holding them, but they are still empty, still cold. Hamlet tells you to go to a nunnery, and you think, This is love, this is insanity, but you don’t know what love is, even though you keep trying to understand- maybe it is a disease to which you are immune? IV. The lake outside your house exists for no one but you. You are the only one who sees the birds on Sunday morning as they circle the edge, look for an empty space of sand, come to a stop. The mother folds her wings as the father drags his feet in the sand; like you, they are waiting for something more than this. From your bedroom window, you can see fog in the distance, obscuring the mountains.


O p h e li a, Sarah C o o k e

V. The face in the mirror haunts you with its girlish lies of what you aresmall nose, lower lip a little too full, everything off-center. Symmetrical imperfections, that’s what you are: far away, people can mistake that for beauty. Your father never thought to correct them, and your brother was the one who bought you the mirror for the Christmas after your mother died in her sleep. VI. Go to a nunnery. Find Hamlet. Ignore Hamlet. Go to a nunnery. You are ours. You must do what we say. Go to a nunnery. Our family needs you. Laertes is gone. Go to a nunnery. Are you listening to me? “The birds are back,” you whisper to the mirror. “They’re home.” Silence wraps its gauzy arms around you and murmurs, “I know.” VII.

The dictionary tells you love means to pleaseLatin, lubere. We can mean you and I, or you and I and another or other, or I and another or others not including youwhich means when someone says I love you you could be anyone, or maybe not even you at all.


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So when your father says you will do this, because it is right, Ophelia, and we must do the right thing, who is he speaking to? Who are the others? Is there another? When did you become a we? There you go again, getting lost in the meaning of meaningless things, replacing fact with feeling. Stupid you. VIII. Early morning. Silence cradles your head in its smooth soft hands, like your mother would when you were four and had a nightmare. Sixteen now. The window next to your bed is wide open, the fog is lifting, and you can see the mountains, if you look forward. If you look behind you can see the shadow of light creeping under your door- your father is waiting. The window is open. Your father is waitingwhere are the birds? As you stare into the mirror on the wall, wondering where the birds are and whether you should open the door, you realize you never knew if your mother ever felt like this. “Ophelia? Are you there?�



Because Tomorrow

A.J. Huffman inevitably rises, despite my desperation, I continue to pray for delay, reprieve from dawn’s abysmal touch. I linger in corners of night, construed from tented journals and pens bled for blackness. I am cowardly scavenger, drinking any form of shadow. My eyes run, ruined. They have been open too long. My mind breathes, broken, flashing at random. Moments of conscious thought are rare. I scab these bits into fold and flesh, hieroglyphics documenting inevitable fall.


Kate Silzer, Apothecary Digital Photograph, 15” x 12”

C o n t rib u t o rs

Nicolas Baird is a senior at Brown University concentrating in visual art and science & society with a focus in biology and photography. Bindu Bansinath is a high school senior in Princeton, NJ. She attended the Iowa Young Writer’s Conference, the Yale Writer’s Conference, and her work has appeared in PANK, the Susquehanna Review, the Columbia Review, Damozel, the SmokeLong Quarterly. Sarah Bence currently studies at University of Exeter in England. She double majored in Drama and Creative Writing at Kenyon College, where she worked as the outreach intern for the Kenyon Review. Her poetry has previously been published in The Round and Dunes Review. Marc Berman is a business executive, having operated commercial radio stations for 35 years. Originally from Boston, he began writing in airplanes while traveling from his home in western Massachusetts. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Alembic, Bluestem, Concho River Review, Confrontation, Eclectica Magazine, Forge, Grey Sparrow, Lullwater Review, Paddlefish, Passager, Poetry East, and Pisgah Review. Will Berry is a sophomore at Brown University, undecided on his concentration. Outside of class, he likes to row crew, study languages, appreciate cinematography, and sit in dark corners as he writes. He has previously had poetry published in Issues. Naya Bricher completed her B.A. at Smith College in 2013, with highest honors in studio art. She is an emerging artist living and working in South Kent, CT. She shows throughout the country in juried exhibitions, including the 63rd Art of the Northeast at Silvermine Arts Center in which she received the Prutting and Co. Award for Mixed Media. This fall, she was a resident artist at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT.

C o n t rib u t o rs

Kristen Brida is a junior at Susquehanna University pursuing majors in Creative Writing and Publishing. Her work has previously appeared in Catfish Creek, Prairie Margins, and Belleville Park Pages. Sarah Cooke is a freshman at Brown University and a member of The Round. She plans on concentrating in Theatre Arts and Literary Arts. Lizzie Davis is a junior studying Comparative Literature and romance languages at Brown University. Darren Demaree’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the South Carolina Review, Meridian, The Louisville Review, Cottonwood, The Tribeca Poetry Review, and Whiskey Island. He is the author of “As We Refer To Our Bodies” (2013) and “Not For Art Nor Prayer” (2014), both due out from 8th House Publishing House. He is the recipient of two Pushcart Prize nominations. He lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. Donna Emerson is a college instructor, licensed clinical social worker, photographer, and writer of poetry and prose. Her publications include Alembic, CQ (California Quarterly), Eclipse, Forge, Fourth River, Fox Cry Review, The Los Angeles Review, New Ohio Review, Paterson Literary Review, Praxis: Gender & Cultural Critiques, Quiddity, Rougarou, Sanskrit, The Schuykill Valley Journal, Soundings East, So To Speak, The South Carolina Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and Spillway. Camille Goodison earned an MFA in Fiction from Syracuse University, and a doctorate in literature from Binghamton University. Her work has been accepted for publication by Saint Ann’s Review, Guernica, Calyx, Callaloo, Relief Journal, Steam Ticket, Teachers and Writers Magazine, and the New York Daily News, among others. Presently she lives and works in Brooklyn, NY where she teaches English at the New York City College of

C o n t rib u t o rs

Technology. A.J. Huffman has published six solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and the winner of the 2012 Promise of Light Haiku Contest. Her poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, Kritya, and Offerta Speciale. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. Amanda Lee was born in Taipei, Taiwan and grew up in New Zealand. She graduates from Brown University in Dec. 2013 with a double degree in psychology and visual arts. In her art, she is fascinated by vision science, and how our brain holistically interprets the visual world. She is also currently exploring photography as a means to communicate injustices, particularly mental illness in resource-poor settings. Nikhita Mendis is a freshman at Brown University concentrating in Middle Eastern studies. She writes poetry frequently but rarely shares her work. She is a member of The Round and copy edits for the Brown Daily Herald. Anna Muselmann is a painter and performance artist from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is an Honors candidate in Visual Arts and in Modern Culture & Media at Brown University, and expects to receive her Bachelor of Arts in May 2014. Her oil paintings and dance-theatre performances explore gestural communication and the memories formed in (negative) spaces between bodies. Her work has been shown in Tulsa, OK, and at several venues on the Brown University campus. Peter Obourn divides his time between suburban upstate New York, where he was born and raised, and a small town in the Adirondack Park, which is as close to paradise as he and his wife

want to be. He is working on a novel based on a small town-not unlike his own. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his work is forthcoming or has appeared in Bombay Gin, CQ, descant, Forge, Gastronomica, Inkwell, Kestrel, The Legendary, Limestone, The Madison Review, New Orleans Review, North Atlantic Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Oyez Review, PANK, Quiddity Literary Journal, Red Wheelbarrow Literary Magazine, SNReview, Spillway, Stickman Review, Wild Violet, and The Blueline Anthology 2004. Amanda Phan is a junior at Washington University in St. Louis majoring in anthropology and double minoring in writing and comparative literature. Amanda dreams in shades of ephemeral and ethereal. Amanda believes her spirit animal is a tree. Riley Ryan-Wood is a freshman at Brown University. Prior to Brown, she split her time between Austin, Texas and Adelaide, Australia--two cities that figure prominently in her work. In the future she plans to pursue photography in addition to film making. April Salzano teaches college writing in Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband and two sons. She recently finished her first collection of poetry and is working on a memoir on raising a child with autism. Her work has appeared in journals such as Poetry Salzburg, Convergence, Ascent Aspirations, The Camel Saloon, Centrifugal Eye, Deadsnakes, Montucky Review, Visceral Uterus, Salome, Poetry Quarterly, Writing Tomorrow, and Rattle. The author also serves as co-editor at Kind of a Hurricane Press. Kate Silzer is a freshman at Brown University and is interested in studying English Literature and Visual Art. Lauren Sukin is a sophomore at Brown University concentrating in Political Science and Literary Arts. She grew up in Atlanta, GA and her poetry has been published in a number of journals including Poetica, Vernacular, and Eunoia Review. She also writes for the Brown Daily Herald, Post- and Brown Political Review.

Edit o rial St af f

Managing Editor

Sylvia Tomayko-Peters Associate Editors

Sienna Bates Hanna Kostamaa Paige Morris Anna Poon Staff

Sarah Cooke Sally Hosokawa Jamie Meader Nikhita Mendis Jamie Packs Marina Renton

We thank Brown University and Brown Graphic Services for their help and support.

No t e f ro m t h e Edit or s

The Round is a literary and visual arts magazine based at Brown University. Our name is adopted from the musical “round,� a composition in which multiple voices form an overlapping conversation. It is our mission to extend and enrich the dialogue surrounding literary and visual arts at Brown by creating a community of artists across the country and around the globe. We are excited to work on a magazine which brings together contributors with a wide variety of backgrounds, ages, and places they call home. We welcome submissions in any genre or medium and publish both students and professionals. Send your work, comments, or questions to:

Check out past issues of the magazine, view submission guidelines, and learn more about us by visiting:

Thank you for picking up a copy of The Round, issue IX, we hope you enjoy it! Sincerely, The Editors