Windfall Win al Voll.. XXXIV Vol. V 22011 201 Cam Campus mp p s Jour pus Journal urna rnal n of Poetry, Poe e ry, et ry Pros Prose, rose, se, aand d Art Truman Sta State ate Univ Un Univer University ve versity
such sudden fortune: windâ€™s gift of crisp, ripened fruit fallen at our feet -founders, 1976
Dear Reader, In your hands is the 34th edition of Windfall, and I cannot even begin to express how proud I am to have been part of the production of this book. While working, I could not help but wonder if the founders ever imagined that Windfall would last so long. There are many people who go into the process of keeping this book going, and I want to thank them all. First of all, I want to thank the English department faculty and staﬀ because they are always showing us support whether that is through telling their students to submit to us or participating in events we host. Speciﬁcally there are two people I would like to thank individually. Dr. Cole Woodcox, the English department’s dean has made it clear that he wants Truman’s creative writing program to succeed, and he shares that support with us. I also want to extend special graditude to our faculty advisor, Dr. Obi Nwakanma. He was always willing to give words of advice and guide us in this year’s journey. Secondly, I need to show my gratitude to my wonderful staﬀ. I have had the pleasure of working with many wonderful students this year and I can truly say that I always look forward to our weekly meetings. Special thanks to my assistant editors, Dan Robaczewski and Laura Wellington, who were both always willing to give the extra help I needed and above all else managed to keep me sane. I also need to thank the publicist, Haley Bartholomew, the submission editor, Emily Cruse, and the design editor, Lauren O’Keefe. These three ladies put many long hours into Windfall and managed to truly take us far beyond what I had hoped. Last but surely not least, I need to thank you, dear reader. Without the support we receive from the students, there would be no reason for Windfall to keep existing. Each year we receive more submissions and more people wanting to participate in our events. I hope Windfall keeps growing and succeeding far into the future. And now, I present to you the 2011 Windfall. I hope that you enjoy. Sincerely, Liz Zerkel Editor-in-Chief
Windfall Staﬀ aﬀ Editor-in-Chief Editor-in-C Chief
Li Lizz Z Zer Zerkel
Assistant ssista Editors Editorrs
Robaczewski Dan Daan R Robacz Wellington Laura L aur Welling
Design gn Editor
Lauren Lau O’Keefe
Publicity ty Coordinator C
Haley H Bartholomew
Submission Edi Editor dito tor
E Emily Em Cruse
Submission n Ed E Editor diitorr
N Natalie Fleming
Oﬃ ﬃce Support Assistants
J John Gibbs G Shelliee Kreter Courtney Courtn Courtne ney Scanlan
Robaczewski D Ro Dan baczewski
Bobby W Williamson Kevin K Kotur
Jared C Cline Shannan Shanna an n Cantu
Valerie L Lazalier
Dr. Obi Nw Nwakanma
eff Denight Jeff ty Heubel Katy Heuman Fara Heumann Katharine Mclaughlin Emily Miller Kristen Miller Joseph Santoli Matthew Sluder
Contents Ashley ey May Samantha amantha Dodge ge
Front Cover Back Cover
SScales G Ge Geisha
Poetry Rachelle helle Wales Kyle Talbot albot Catherine ne Duggan Du uggan Allison Schleism Schleisman leisman man Jessica Phillips Claire Bowman Hayden ayden yd Wilsey John n Hitzel Kevin Kotur Noelle Chandler Rachelle Wales Kathryn Fritzz Kyle Talbot Victoria Hudson Kirk Schlueter Laura Wellington Andrew Kindiger Slok Gyawali Andrew Kindiger Hayden Wilsey John Hitzel Claire Bowman Arthur Maurer Catherine Duggan Jennifer Miller Hayden Wilsey Jessica Phillips Noelle Chandler Kyle Talbot Andrew Kindiger Rachelle Wales Mia Pohlman Meredith Rupp Yosef Rosen Natalie Graf
6 9 11 13 14 14 22 22 24 25 29 30 3 32 35 36 38 40 43 44 46 49 0 60 63 65 66 68 78 79 82 84 87 89 92 94 96 97 98
My Muse s Likes Likes Greek Fo Food Swiss Sw Cheese, Ch es House H Made of Holes Chil Childhood hood oo Reruns Rer Untitle Untitled ed Perspec Perspective ective on o a White Wall Without With thou h a sound s Dear D r Calcu Ca Calcul lus Calculus Fear in a H Ha Handful andful of Dust Testam Testament There are re n noo kids, ki only 11/ 1/25x /25x If I oon only Twoo Dimensional Dim mensional Lines On the he Steps of th he Courthouse the Age N Now What? Ojai The Omnipresentt Elephant Untitled SIGNS For Sally the Stole Stolen en Age and Rotation Marbled arbled Face Musica ica Universalis Besides, s, White Chick Chickens cke kens Mi Amor Aﬀairs with Snakes Change Anti-Creation Holy We are a planet of great vacancies Grandma’s Voice Still Life Of A Broken Heart Flicker While Brownies Bake
Prose Kathryn Fritz Melissa Stevenson Allison Schleisman Victoria Hudson Julie Perrey
8 17 34 51 71
The Apparition Oriental Lilies A Tragedy Olivia Timepieces
Art and Photography Natalie Graf Rebekah Hernandez Ashley May Colleen Glaeser Cory Frank April Johnston Laura Wellington Natalie Graf Hayden Wilsey Katy Spence Rebekah Hernandez SStephanie Barry Cassie Kling Ca Rebekah Hernandez Rebe Laura Wellington April Johnston Apr Emma Roeder Rebekah Hernandez Claudia Convers Natalie Graf Michael Price Claudia Convers Casey Henderson Jackie Boos Emily Gannon
10 15 16 21 23 27 28 33 37 41 42 48 50 59 62 67 70 80 81 83 85 86 88 91 95
Untitled Untitled Self Portrait with Bubbles Carnival Untitled They Will See Us Waving City Grate Untitled Untitled Nature, Homecoming Untitled Frame By Frame Untitled Untitled Foreboding Una Gran Via Por Cierto Leonard Untitled Umbrella Untitled Untitled Window Untitled Night at Le Renard Untitled
MY MUSE LIKES GREEK FOOD Rachelle Wales And they’re so hard to keep, the shapes and images you want to write into remembering, womb-warm and wonderful: a cement stair that leads to nowhere, except perhaps the grey water meter, a lost game of Scrabble with fill-in-the-blanks and words like Tax and Deuteronomy and you wonder where the words are, where they go when they leave you— have they crept away to some foul alleyway to swap secrets and stashes of sweet-smelling pot, the scent that clings to the boy with the upturned hat that just walked into the party, the one whose name you don’t know, the party where all the words drain dripping down the sides of your cheeks, chin, hands like Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum in a plastic dixie-type cup, 1 ½ shots at least and the words don’t wonder if you’re okay, don’t care if they spill or firecracker down your throat leaving it corroded and smelling of last night’s toothpaste But that’s not all— those damn words come right back up they call you at two in the morning saying they’ve lost their key, their card doesn’t work, and what are you supposed to do but let them 6
in, let them sleep, half drunk still and twisted, slurring their apostrophes and sticking out their tongues, but let them sleep on the floor, you’ve got carpet now, surely that’s a decent enough pillow for them right? But they’re just words, aren’t they, waking you up, making you hold back their frail blonde letters as they’ve taken on too many commas and semi-colons, have picked too many fights with ruddy, red-headed paragraphs that can hold more than their share of whiskey (bourbon!) It’s all the same, But you hold their letters dearly, tenderly, Stroke them and tell them it’s all going to be all right, they’re going to be fine, but suddenly you hear the words choking on themselves, heaving and shuddering and sweating out hot periods of perspiration and you lunge for the white bag, the plastic pink trash can, watching o’s and u’s dribble in sick yellows and browns down the liner Trying not to gag and absently wondering why words ever wanted you, in the first place.
THE APPARITION Kathryn Fritz She sat in her cold metal seat, one of thirty-three students seated in a semi-circle, all facing a man in the center, who was pacing back and forth, droning on in a dull monotone. Her attention was focused on the large window behind him, through which she could see an old, withered oak tree, various weeds, and a stray cat stalking the butterflies, all of which seemed far more interesting than the man in front of her. He was talking to them about prayer, and trying to lead them in meditation. Telling them to close their eyes, and see if any images appear in their minds, if God was trying to tell them anything. Doing as she was told, she closed her eyes, not expecting anything to happen. All she saw was an afterimage, from one of the many lightbulbs burning brightly in the room. Then the afterimage changed. A hollow formed, then another. A skull. Well, that was what it looked like, anyway. She was not worried. It was an afterimage, just like any other, and would go away as soon as she opened her eyes. For now, she just watched in fascination as the colors fluctuated. Red. Blue. Green. Yellow. Orange. Then, suddenly, there was an arm, then another. A torso, legs. And a left arm came forward and down. And a right arm, forwardâ€” down. It was dragging itself forward impossibly slow. Sightless hollows looking straight at her, through her. Having had enough, she opened her eyes. And the apparition was gone. Only for a second. And it was back, seemingly much closer than it had been. And still dragging itself forward, quickening its pace. She closed and opened her eyes again and again, but whether in darkness or light, it just kept coming. And coming. 8
SWISS CHEESE, HOUSE MADE OF HOLES Kyle Talbot We realize our existence is as stimulating as the sex lives of garden gnomes The most laborious and uninspiring game of croquet, (par three and) all the holes look the same. Still motion photography a greenhouse roof and we grimace forcing dandelions from our skulls. Ten dabbled and melancholy sunspots rising, rotting grey and it is time for intimacy but they canâ€™t manage under the covers, distressed wails, these body splinters are substituted passion. None will risk going further but we all, notice, nonetheless the dismal desire to be in flux. What color? Some yellow, dandelions. Yellow and rotting grey.
UNTITLED Natalie Graf
CHILDHOOD RERUNS Catherine Duggan A withered storyteller etches onto a cave wall, hands illuminated only by the dim light of a fire. No, a chalkboard and dull unnatural incandescent shells holding a lightbulbâ€™s flickering last breaths. The filament gasps from bright to dim, inhale to exhale, like the lungs of that wiry stray dog stumbling beside the tracks drunk with old age and barely able to hold itself up. Like an old building his frame is not stable and threatens to crumble at any moment, but avoids death with each train moving aside like a gentleman letting a strange woman pass. The child didnâ€™t hear the train, but saw the quivering tracks and a dog walking away, so she gathered her rock collection. Each she had uncovered carefully while searching for fairies. 11
She had hoped to find a crunched wing smothered by wet leaves. But she only found herself remembering the boy with long shoelaces. He remains in the shrunken rust orange chair, loved by no one and nervously bouncing his leg creating waves on the tile floor with the slack dangling from his foot. She watches him scribble incoherent and meticulous notes from the chalkboard.
UNTITLED Allison Schleisman Fingers crossed: His in his lap, Hers behind the back. A hope versus a lie.
PERSPECTIVE ON A WHITE WALL Jessica Phillips At six, she hid behind round, rimmed glasses, observant. At ten, she looked to her siblings, who looked only at themselves. At thirteen, she also looked at herself, Briefly, but didnâ€™t like what she saw, so At fourteen, she looked to boys, who did. At fifteen, she looked to God, and found That faith was a privilege She lacked. At sixteen, she looked to men, and realized At seventeen, that they were boys. At eighteen, she looked to her mother, Who told her, To look to God. But faith was a privilege she lacked. At nineteen, she looked to reason and found That reason, like faith, Was a privileged perspective. Like staring at a white, curved wall Painted with pink, leafless vines, So vast and tall You crane your neck, and see curved shadows an iris a pupil You suddenly feel the heartbeat beneath you And you wish you had never looked. 14
UNTITLED Rebekah Hernandez
SELF PORTRAIT WITH BUBBLES Ashley May
ORIENTAL LILIES Melissa Stevenson I lived in my one bedroom apartment on Newbury Street for three years. Despite being on the edge of one of Boston’s trendiest shopping districts, it was an oasis of beauty. I chose it because of the flower garden right beneath my kitchen window. My garden attracted the attention of just about everyone who passed. My specialty was exotic flowers: lilies, hibiscuses, tuberous begonias, dahlias, and curcumas. That was how I first met her: weeding and fertilizing the flower bed in the afternoon heat. She stopped to admire the beauty of my Japanese goldband lily. “Would you like one?” I asked stunned by the blue of her eyes. “I couldn’t,” she said, backing away from the flowers. “No, I insist.” I clipped the flower before another word was said and the smile that crossed her face was radiant. I handed her the lily like a gentleman, ashamed of my dirty appearance but she blushed as she took it and headed on her way. I watched for her from my kitchen window the next afternoon. When I saw her appear in the distance, I took to the garden again, brushing loose dirt from the decorative stones. “How’s my flower doing?” I asked. She looked slightly affronted, didn’t say anything and hurried by. As she passed she pulled her bag tightly against her, causing a piece of paper to fall from the outer pocket and land in the middle of my garden. It was a slip of personalized stationary. Stamped across the top was her name: Lily Hasimoto. Scribbled across it were a phone number, a name I couldn’t make out, and a date. It was messy handwriting, a man’s by the look of it. I didn’t know what to feel: excitement that I knew her name or horror that there was another man in her life. After my uncouth attempt at conversation, I stayed out of the garden for several days but never far from the kitchen window. I began to organize my days around her schedule. Lily was my alarm 17
clock in the mornings, the click of her heels more acute than the sunrise. Most mornings I was content to lie in bed and imagine the woman walking past my house: her black hair down her back, the length of her dress, the height of her heels, and her shocking blue eyes. A few times I rose quickly enough to catch a small glimpse of her before she disappeared around the corner. Morning and afternoon she was always alone, making my desire to return to the garden stronger than my embarrassment. I returned to weeding and fertilizing my autumn perennials as September came along. I made an effort to make small talk with anyone who admired my garden but when Lily passed, I could do nothing more than give her a acknowledging nod. After a couple weeks, the tension dissipated as my Japanese rubrum lilies bloomed. Lily only ever took the oriental lilies, no matter how beautiful my calla lilies grew or how white my lily of the valley stayed: only the fresh blossoms of a Japanese goldband or the pink rubrum lilies. I longed to give her other flowers since my oriental lilies only bloomed in late summer and early fall but she never took them. Just as she had become my daily schedule, she marked the passage of my time on Newbury Street. I count my years by my summers and the number of blooms I have given to Lily. I made it a point to be out in the garden more when I knew Lily would be heading home. In time, she opened up. Here and there she would tell me bits about her day teaching at the Montessori school around the corner or her solitary life at home with just her dogs. Our conversations grew longer as I dared to ask her questions. “Couldn’t you get a bus? It’s going to be getting cold soon.” It was late-October and I was preparing my garden for winter. I had been digging out dead plants for hours, carefully arranging new bulbs, and clearing away the first dried leaves that had blown their way in. I dreaded the coming months when snow and cold would destroy my garden and my enticement. “I like walking,” she smiled, rubbing her cold hands together. “I walk my dogs in the park every afternoon, rain or shine.” “The Public Garden?” 18
She nodded, nudging a rock with her foot. Her shoes were a shiny black snakeskin with pointed toes. I felt a snake-like desire rise in me as I ran my eyes up, back to her face. “I suppose I should be getting inside. I will see you on Monday then Lily.” It was the first time I had actually said her name to her. I had whispered it to myself late at night in bed or in the morning after I dreamt of her, but never out loud to her. She smiled, completely unconcerned as to how I knew. It was that smile that drove me to research winter gardens. I read for days, on the internet as well as books in the local library. I even contacted several gardening stores before I conceded that my garden would be barren until the spring. The northeastern winter was unsuitable for anything that would inspire Lily: holly and Christmas roses were far too plain for someone as exotic as she. The first snow brought the worst night of my life. Without my garden, without my flowers, I had nothing to tempt Lily to brave the cold walk in the mornings. I sat at a small table by the kitchen window and gazed out at the barren patch that was my garden. I drank coffee with the sunrise as I waited for the morning commute to pass. I felt a mixture of pleasure and relief when I saw her coming. Lily was bundled for the cold, her cheeks already rosy, and a smile playing on her face. I considered getting my camera from the other room, but I knew the moment was already lost: the sight of her walking, the playful smile on her lips, the tunnel vision that banished everyone else on the street. I pushed my stiff window open as she approached. “I don’t have any flowers for you today, but perhaps something to keep you warm?” I offered her coffee, indicting the brew I was sipping in my own cup. “You’re far too kind to me.” “Cream and sugar?” “Go on then.” She smiled, breathing into her hands for warmth. Her breath crystallized in the air and it was an ominous sign of winter. I handed her a thermos through the window. Her cold 19
hand brushed over mine as it grasped the warm container. My fingers burned at her touch as I drew away. She thanked me as she continued and I went back to the solitude of my bedroom, my skin still tingling at her touch. That morning I purchased a few potted holly plants, some heather, and a clump of growing mistletoe to bring temporary life to my garden. Though they were nothing compared to the lilies, they were more pleasing than the bare, frozen ground. I waited restlessly for Lily’s afternoon return. Not only was there a new garden scene for her, I was anxious to feel her hand again as she returned my thermos. Never had she been so anticipated but never had I been so driven by the feel of a woman’s skin. By dinner time, I bitterly concluded that Lily had chosen to get the bus home rather than walk. I made an early night of it and relied on dreams of the morning to carry me through until I saw her again. Three mornings came and went without her passing by. On Friday, I walked down to her school at lunchtime to see her watching the children on the playground. I waited, my eyes bearing into her, wanting her to feel me watching. I paced through my kitchen as the afternoon approached. I had bought a bouquet of lilies on my return home and they were sitting in a vase on my counter, waiting. I heard her heels first, having trained myself to recognize her step from any other. I stood with my back to the window for a moment, savoring the pleasure that consumed me in her presence. She called my name. I carried the vase to the sill as the window swung on its hinges. I was so blissfully distracted I almost didn’t realize that she wasn’t alone. Her gloved fingers were intertwined with another’s. A loud rushing filled my ears as I looked at the man at her side. He smiled with a nod, but I trained my eyes on Lily. With my jaw clenched I reached out to take the thermos. “I am sorry it’s been so long,” she said, resting her leather covered fingers on mine and I longed to feel the skin beneath the glove. I smiled rather painfully and nodded. I saw the smallest hint of sadness in her blue eyes. She said goodbye, reclaimed the man’s hand, and turned to walk away. 20
CARNIVAL Colleen Glaeser
WITHOUT A SOUND Claire Bowman under the skin of the pear tree lie the secrets scratching silent, like a monk in orange robes who walks the streets of Moscow, backward feet and hands over his eyes, vendors calling out at tourists, Matriska dolls, two hundred ruples apiece. across the back alley dumpster is the scripture written in white the karma that fell asleep clenching a half empty bottle of wine in his fist we are the cycling of dead leaves and plant matter October hikes her skirt before the coming winter He made the fruit of the fig spring forth from the withered branches because he spoke it, opened his lungs and breath slipped through like riverboat music the miracle of the oiled body, the swollen ovary of seed for the luxury of birds. I didnâ€™t see the miracle because I was in the backyard, carving my name into an apple tree with a screwdriver and a hammer.
UNTITLED Cory Frank
DEAR CALCULUS Hayden Wilsey Pythagoras could not have derived his theorem from your soul And Archimedes never writ of the power of limits. Descartes never flew on a plane or Used google earth to see the world. And how many times did Kepler use white out on an ellipse? When will a parabola ever feel complete like the circles do? And what melodrama must a hyperbola go through Because the directrix caused the couple to split? Does one point fall in love with the other Or has their relationship always been straight? Does the function of X always change Y? Does Y ever get to speak her mind? And what happened to Xâ€™s grandfather? Is square-root homesick because heâ€™s missing his twin? And what was the difference between the maximum And minimum in optimization? Nothing. And Calculus, by letting you take advantage of me, will I become lonely too?
FEAR IN A HANDFUL OF DUST John Hitzel
for T. S.
Red rustier than old bicycle chain. Flattened crags where everything here was once underwater. More arid than dry season in the Okavango. No smell or broadleaves. Dams summon people and not where they belong. Names like Horseshoe Bend and ¬¬¬¬Arroyo Gulch don’t say “Food here” or “Come Swim.” More lonesome than Pink Floyd playing to Pompeii but no ruins just ghost towns. I reach down and clutch Martian soil, play with it in my palm, draw spiral runes with fingers, sweat in it a little, on accident. I can feel myself drying out as I cook. Nothing has grown here for aeons. I couldn’t count the fragments of fish bones and dead giant lizards and rootless seeds from discarded apple cores in my palm. The Truffle Rocks had collapsed before I arrived to see them. The lone cougar, whose empty tracks I found circling my tent the next morning made me want to blow up a dam or ninety and free the submerged Indian artifacts, smoothed over 25
beneath a growing layer of beer cans and runoff, behind Abbeyâ€™s nemesis, a dam. The dam outlasted him. These roots that clutch at the dust in my hand. Glass shattered a thousand times over. No more room to play Desert Solitaire. Not nearly enough Monkey Wrenches and bolt cutters to uncoil the terror that dripped down my spine as I gazed into the rust-colored abyss sitting in my palm, and felt it look back at me. I was not relieved when I blew it away and the sweat-clotted sand remained.
THEY WILL SEE US WAVING April Johnston
CITY GRATE Laura Wellington
TESTAMENT Kevin Kotur Most obviously New and Old, but really more like a war trophy, a stained and tattered Nazi flag. Maybe a dormant Myspace account, reminding you of who you were in eighth grade. When lifting up girlsâ€™ skirts was fun. How about the fact that we still know Alexander the Great? Because he smelled dozens of different kinds of airâ€” Aegean sea, Persian Bazaar, Indian spice, and sun-baked entrails. A testament to something unique.
THERE ARE NO KIDS, ONLY Noelle Chandler Holly berries fill a Styrofoam cup, Picked illicitly From the top of the Grey, peeling propane tank in the yard, Traded For wild onions pulled from the Earth Where Grendel was buried, Underneath the old pine tree Which heard the cowboys And Indians Huddled ‘round a campfire Chanting A whispered song, half forgotten Muffled By the sound of shouting, A battle seen through the gaps of Her fingers while sirens Drown The sound of screams. Strangers Who love the children Whose parents couldn’t even Love themselves Comfort them with penny-pancakes. But even Bugs Bunny knows what “Their mother was on-“ “Shh, not in front of the kids!” Who look around Confused. There are no kids, only 30
Overcooked bacon, sandwiches with crusts. The piggies donâ€™t have blankets. How are they supposed To go to the market? They ask A silver knight With rainbow shoes All colored in the lines Hangs On the fridge For when mommy comes home. And on the porch A spilled cup of Crimson Seeps slowly into Memory.
1/25X Rachelle Wales Cloudless sulphurs inscribe silent x’s in the air of your passing, making promises written in butterfly dust and broken leaves, in the innocent space between yellow wings, the palest hue I cannot think to compare too delicate for sunlight, chick down or lemon meringue, too fast to catch even at shutter speed What want there was then, To open my aperture, To let in all your fleeting morning-melt light But, like all things, a brief fallen petal on summer grass and gone again, now— only a forgotten page number in your favorite book the slight crease in the right hand corner the only indication you made love to its words a bare blink—no flash— and our binding is broken. If only we could remember how to fly, How much more wind would we map, the undeveloped film: topography of sky.
UNTITLED Natalie Graf
A TRAGEDY Allison Schleisman It was, for lack of a better word, lovely. The leaves rolled in lazy circles across the street, as though they were rather enjoying the feel of the cool asphalt and the gentle wind pushing them along. The houses were lined up, mostly identical yet pleasing in their subtle differences. A novelty mailbox, a row of flowers. The soft autumn air was cracked by the sound of a door opening, slamming, and the quick uneven shuffle of footsteps. The woman was wearing house shoes and a look of desperation. She ran out onto the street, stomping the innocent leaves. She looked around, eyes searching for anyone to tell the news to. “There’s a Word Limit coming!” she yelled to the neighborhood. Several neighbors opened their doors. “A Word Limit is approaching!” she yelled again. “But what are we supposed to do?” one neighbor asked. “Keep your adjectives to a minimum! Don’t modify anything! Eliminate articles! Use contractions! Say as little as possible!” “How many words do we have left?” Neighbor mimed eighty-six. Silent crowd. People worried. Stood for some time, thinking what to do, how to end things. “Does Title count?” asked person. “No.” said protagonist. People said nothing, wrote notes. Agreement made, people got in cars, drove to California, tried to buy words off Pat Sajak. No luck. Wasted words. Returned home, people broke out Scrabble, Boggle games. Enjoyed their last words. Narrator regretted wasting words on exposition. Worried about lack of resolution. They counted down. Three. Two. One.
IF ONLY Kathryn Fritz To have been the first to write Of blooming Rosa Rosaceae, Two lovebirds midflight, Or the irregularity of a heart-beat Trapped between well-flossed teeth. But, to avoid the wearied glare Of poor, pudgy Cupid, his Quiver freshly emptied, Wings frayed and feather-bare We untangle these love-knots, These ribbons of red and gold, And search frantically, for â€œElsewhereâ€? amongst Burnt down matches, the Apple scent of melted wax Through the torn ticket stubs, or Coffee-drained foam cups
TWO DIMENSIONAL LINES Kyle Talbot I was running close to home, wind perforating, unapologetic. Icicles like dangling earrings on houses high as heaven. Heavy shakes and a splintering crack, a tiny avalanche again and again knives like rain crashing fragments, diamonds spilling in all directions marbles racing on mirrored cement. And I dodged them like bullets from above sidestepping a cold headacheâ€” dancing on particles and skating towards the river. Standing in the middle and looking straight. An elementary art class lesson on perspective, two dimensional lines converging to a single point.
UNTITLED Hayden Wilsey
ON THE STEPS OF THE COURTHOUSE Victoria Hudson Before I get out of bed, I try to figure out if I’m alone. The light isn’t piercing the blinds yet But in Hot Springs, Arkansas, The water is on fire. The fire is on water. The lake has a greenish pallor – it isn’t feeling well. For the first time, a baby rolls onto his stomach, The beginning of a lifetime of rolling from one place to another. In the basement of a frat house, they turn her on her side So she doesn’t asphyxiate on her own vomit. They are good friends, so they don’t take her to the hospital. Do you want me to tell you the story of St. Augustine? It’s about the sounds you make when you’re alone in a room, And how you look at yourself in the mirror. Near the shore, thousands of tiny blue jellyfish wait. Someone will save them. It’s time to go! It’s always time to go. The sweat of the Guatemalan children Would freeze, making icicles of the rivulets on their chests – Those things could kill you. Somewhere, a mother is telling her daughter that she loves her This much, but she doesn’t know yet How the tragic anomalies of this life follow you to Venice, And to your grave, And you won’t have any time to brush your hair. He uses a butterfly net to scoop a baby turtle From the water next to the pontoons on the barge. It’s a red-eared slider, and its shell is about the size of a quarter. Someone makes an Al Qaeda reference while the linguistics teacher is teaching 38
About all the ways to make chimps talk And Ben Gibbard is humming to himself. I build a structure that Iâ€™m scared to carry. The boy kneels on the wooden dock to place the turtle Gently back into the water, And watches it disappear. How did you know where to find me?
AGE Kirk Schlueter The curve of the universe is long and slow, but ever does it arc back toward entropy and the decay of suns. I know this, but still: only once on each of its journeys around the sun will the earth spin about at this particular spot. Since I canâ€™t stop it, I may as well smile at it; light the candles Macbeth wanted to snuff out sitting on top of the green and white icing perfectly preserved and read the text messages of congratulations from the friends I wish to speak my heart to but donâ€™t, for fear of what they might think.
NATURE, HOMECOMING Katy Spence
UNTITLED Rebekah Hernandez
NOW WHAT? Laura Wellington The apocalypse was supposed to be horrible. But they had lied to us. When it came, there was no fire in the sky; No barbarians roamed the streets. Just a vague sense of loss permeated our skin, Leaving us with wrinkled fingers. We couldnâ€™t return to anything. So we stood there with our hands Over our empty eyes and Told stories to make the children behave.
OJAI Andrew Kindiger I White stretched flesh Frying on the sand Tucked below the shuffle, the pipe is pretty casual A nice change from daily chaos Skirting between cellular lunatics on the freeway Sun drenched dreams diminish the failed metropolis Hope is better left to the night Languid, loose and shining She moves with delicate passion Through the warm pond Resting on the moon lit rocks As faint crests dampen her feet Adrift off a bellowing canyon Separated from the sharp dimensions of the city She is pure by the palely gleaming spring But isolated ecstasy is meant for those who can afford this private land The usual bunch of rag tag idealists must not abuse this secret knowledge Slip into bliss in the shadows, disappearing into nature without disturbance II As a dilapidated house slowly collapses People pass by remembering the storm Shards of glass lay by fallen leaves Trees jetting through the windows barely hold the roof aloft 44
The evening tapers waning into a surreal cascade Faint light, smooth sounds, the Wind in the trees is stifled by the crackling velocity of a Chevrolet Winter comes too soon, crushing autumn’s humble stillness Youth crowds tightly into small apartments, displaced, Fixated on drug induced futures too pure for this world As the sun crouches in the west, faintly dashing across snowy plains The amber yolk does little to the cold Fire touching ice Dimly lit surfaces project crumbled forms leaning against the largest vent These days, it’s hard to rectify what is seemingly uncontrollable The fires of the mind, or coffee rings etched on the table III Choking on the stale fragments of a dream I wake hastily, gasping, for light pouring through the pane onto my body Sprawled on the floor, gears churning Right onto Broadway, then exiting on 35 North, the quick little V4 yelps up to 55 and I lived through the night, pulsing my way into a new year Still wondering if I’m in the right lane to exit Window cracked to let out the smoke Imagining the taste of salt wafting off the waves Stinging my lips as I dip my hand into the ocean Noticing the water craft a disappearing shore
THE OMNIPRESENT ELEPHANT Slok Gyawali My mother bought me that Ganesh* photo back in â€™95, which I have apathetically kept letting it bury itself with dust. In my life it finds no place. Every new year as I rid myself of excessive baggage that half elephant- half man is pardoned. It finds its way under my mattress or my bag hiding Waiting to resurrect every now and then to remind me of its omnipresence. Back home, my mother places it over my bed with hopes of Blessing my beginnings. While I, faithlessly, joke about its birth and questionable eating habits. She wants me to share my room with Ganesh and even though he silently exists in some corner his trunk breaths down my neck and when she asks me to bow to this divine mammoth, I think to myselfâ€Ś Ganesh is a silent witness to my life Like for so many God usually is. 46
â€˘Ganesh- the Hindu god whose reverence brings blessings to a new endeavor . He is depicted as half elephant â€“half man( boy) who likes to eat a lot.
FRAME BY FRAME Stephanie Barry
UNTITLED Andrew Kindiger Afternoons of flowering anticipations Regress into a zeal of meditative fury Pressed on an arched back Blistered from the sun The taste of sour promises Surge from cracked lips As a loose, sticky film Extends to the radiant pavement Patterns rearranging at a glance No longer entertain metaphysical certainty Reality begins to tear delicate fabrics Dripping wet from sanguine prayers shouted into the rain A desolate smile lingered Fraying at the cheeks The withered mind moved a body Away from our house to disappear beneath the trees
UNTITLED Cassie Kling
OLIVIA Victoria Hudson The funny thing is that I was dating Olivia’s roommate in our junior year of college, and that’s how I met her. Her roommate’s name was Rose, and she was pretty nice, but I ended up liking Olivia a lot more. Olivia would go with us to dinner sometimes, or do homework with us in their apartment. She knew more than I did about almost everything, but she liked to watch me work my physics problems. I would explain what I was doing, but I know she couldn’t have cared less. She scribbled pictures of trees and monkeys in the margins of my paper while I worked on my calculator. Rose would watch too for a while, and then she’d get bored and start painting her fingernails or something. Olivia never painted her fingernails, but her toenails were always some violent shade of red or purple. We started doing things together – she liked going fishing, and we were always going to the elementary school down the street to play on the swings. I liked the way her bangs curled around her grayblue eyes, like a curtain, and I liked talking to her. I could tell her anything. Rose didn’t like it much, and she started seeing someone else, which was okay with me. People named Jack and Rose shouldn’t date each other anyway, everyone expects you to go around spreading your arms out on the bows of ships or something. After Rose and I stopped seeing each other, I thought Olivia and I would probably get together. It seemed like the logical progression of things. But it never happened. I suppose we talked about it once or twice, but everything was too perfect like it was. In our last year of college, we were together all the time. Rose stopped being sore about it after a while. Mostly we drove places – everywhere – and played music and talked or let ourselves be quiet. I lived in my own apartment that year, and Olivia was always coming over to watch movies and play Scrabble. She loved to play Scrabble. She’d fall asleep on the couch, and I had a pillow for her that I kept on the chair. I probably slept at her house just as often. She lived with some 51
of her friends on the corner by the supermarket, and I spent half of my senior year sleeping on her floor next to the bed. I don’t know why I did that. I think I preferred sleeping on her carpet, near her, to sleeping alone. Or with other girls. I liked waking up and drinking coffee with her. I dated some other girls now and then – I remember Cheryl and Bea – but it wasn’t too serious. I guess I failed to mention to my girlfriends the nights I spent on the roof of Olivia’s house or in her kitchen drawing absurd pictures on the homework we should have been doing. Bea got mad once when she came over for dinner and Olivia was taking a shower in my bathroom, but I thought that was pretty stupid. It wasn’t like I was showering with her. Bea threw the casserole she had brought on my kitchen floor. We stopped dating a little while after that. At the end of the year, Olivia met a boy named James Dillon. I liked him alright, even though he didn’t seem to care for me. Well, I guess I know why. He was into business and I thought he was a little boring. He never wanted to go out on the golf course and slide down the hills on cardboard boxes, or play Scrabble, but he had a nice strong jaw and he acted like he was about thirty-five. Olivia went nuts over the guy and she always got upset when he didn’t want me around, but we started spending less and less time together. By the time we graduated, they were engaged and I hardly heard from Olivia anymore. I married Jan a few years later. Jan’s pretty. She has short blonde hair and light freckles on her nose, and her eyes are clear and brown. She’s small – her little arms are about half the circumference of mine. I met her through a friend and we dated for a few months, and then we were married. It was pretty straightforward. She was a nice girl and she loved me and it seemed like a sure thing. Olivia and James came to the wedding. James shook my hand very formally and Olivia hugged me. I don’t remember if we said things. She had her arm around James’s waist. Jan and I don’t have any children. We tried for a couple of years, but it turns out I can’t have kids. Jan resents me a little, I think. 52
She wants to be a mother. I wanted kids, too, but I don’t see much I can do about it. I would adopt, but Jan said she doesn’t want to raise somebody else’s kids; she wants to raise her kids. Last night when she brought it up for the millionth time, I told her maybe she ought to find a new husband, then. She got quiet, and didn’t speak to me again. Like it’s my fault, or something. Like she thinks I’m holding out on her and I have a couple viable sperm hidden in my medicine cabinet. We’re getting dressed to go out to dinner with some couple friends. I hate couple friends. Their names are Mike and Linda, and they’re probably at the restaurant already. I’m always late to things these days. I don’t have a lot of motivation. Jan is standing next to the door with her brown purse hanging on her elbow, tapping the doorknob impatiently. I am putting on my shoes. She still is not speaking to me. We leave and I let her drive. “Jack Morgan!” Mike says when we get to the restaurant. He slaps my back like an old friend, but I only know him through Jan and I really don’t like him at all. He bores me. He reminds me of old James. The women are chatting and I am forced to make small talk with Mike. He is telling me about a lawsuit involving an old woman and her daughter’s crazy boyfriend. I am not listening. Jan’s earrings have bright blue stones in them. I laugh loudly at something Mike says before I realize it is not a joke. Jan and Linda look at me. We sit down and the sound of the restaurant buzzes around me. It’s Italian and all the waiters have shiny black hair and olive skin. I think Mike is talking to me again because Jan nudges my elbow. Everyone is looking at me expectantly. I smile and nod, and then I take a drink of wine. Jan is also drinking her wine. Her eyes look dark. After dinner, I drive home and Jan stares moodily out the window. I have succeeded in making her angrier. She explodes when I have parked the car in the garage and am halfway out the door. “You can’t just say something like that, Jack!” she says. I shut the car door again. “You can’t just tell me to find a new husband. Did you mean it?” 53
This is a trap. There is no good answer. I don’t say anything. “Because maybe I should,” she says, and her voice is suddenly shaking. “Jan,” I say, but then I’m stuck again. She pretends I have not said anything. “Look at this place!” she cries, gesturing wildly at the garage. I look. There are several boxes in stacks and some old bikes to my right. Out her window is a crooked arrangement of furniture. “I asked you to clean this out weeks ago!” I am not sure what this has to do with anything. “I’ll get to it, Janice,” I say. She looks at me, finally. Her blonde hair is framing her face perfectly. She looks beautiful. “Oh, you’ll get to it? And what have you been so busy doing that you couldn’t clean a couple of boxes out of the garage? Or fix the lock on the back door, like I asked last month?” “I’ve been using my laptop directly on top of my groin,” I say, suddenly angry. “And wearing very tight pants. And doing some other things to ensure that I can’t have any children.” Now Jan is crying. I deserve this. I don’t apologize. “It’s not all about that!” she says, but she is lying. It is all about that. “You never listen when I talk to you. You hate my friends. You never hold my hand anymore.” This last one surprises me. I reach toward her but she jerks her hand away, not looking at me. “You can’t make up for it now,” she says quietly. She is crying harder. I have a feeling that we have reached a very important point in this conversation. “Jan,” I say patiently, softly, “Everything is going to be alright. You know what? We could find a sperm donor. How about that?” I have never suggested this before. The idea is repulsive to me, but I don’t want her to leave. “You don’t mean that,” she says, even quieter. I am sure that the decrease in volume of her voice is corresponding directly to the chances of our sleeping in the same bed tonight. I am thinking fast. “I love you,” I say, trying to take her hand again. She doesn’t 54
let me. “I would do anything to make you happy.” She is no longer listening. She gets out of the car and goes inside, leaving me in the dark, and I sit for a moment, breathing heavily. When I go inside, she is gone. I am alone for a week. I go to work but don’t speak to anyone. I am numb. I am sleepwalking. The eighth day is a Saturday and I sit in our bed long after I have woken up, unsure of what I should be doing. I wish I could go to work and walk around and do things. I have not heard anything from Jan since she left. I pick up my phone, intending to call her. Instead I call Olivia. “Jack,” she says, surprised. Her voice is soft and familiar. She sounds just like she did when we were twenty. “Jack, how are you?” “Not so good, Liv.” My voice isn’t coming out right. I sound stupid. “What’s wrong?” I clear my throat. “My wife left me. A week ago. Jan left.” She is quiet for several long moments. “I’m so sorry, Jack.” She doesn’t ask what she can do, or why Jan left, or if I need anything. I am grateful. “I miss you,” I croak. I did not mean to say that. “I miss you, too.” There is nothing more to say. We are silent. Then she says, “You’re still at the house? In the Dells?” I nod, and then I say, “Yes.” “Okay,” she says. I don’t know why she asked where I am. I don’t know why I called her. I haven’t seen her since my wedding six years ago. “I love you. Bye.” The phone clicks. I hold it in shock. We have always said that we love each other, but I haven’t heard it in a long time. I wonder if old James was around. But she wouldn’t have said she loved me. Maybe she told him it was her mother. She hung up so quickly. She didn’t even let me say bye. Six hours later I am still in my bed, drifting in and out of sleep. I am pathetic. My doorbell rings and I get up to answer it, still in a stupor. Probably it is my mother. That’s the way my luck is going. It isn’t my mother. It’s Olivia. She has a backpack slung over 55
her shoulder and she’s smiling. Relief at the sight of her is the first thing I’ve felt since last Friday. I am suddenly aware that I’m wearing only green plaid boxers. “Well, ask me to come in!” she says, stepping over the threshold without any invitation at all. I am stunned. She lives somewhere in Iowa, I think. She came all this way to see me. I start to apologize for my appearance, and she punches me playfully in the gut. “Put a shirt on, Jackass.” I find one in my bedroom. When I come back, she’s looking at the pictures on the mantel. I do not want to look at those pictures. She turns around and rolls her eyes at me. “Well maybe put some pants on, too.” I look down at my legs and nod. I put on pants. I realize I have still not said a word to her. When I come out to the living room again, she is picking up the pictures one by one and turning them around to face the wall. Not noticing I’ve returned, she picks up other things – a quilt, a scrapbook, a tube of lipstick – and shoves them in the coat closet. A surge of gratitude comes over me. She notices me and motions to follow her, and we go out to her car. She pushes me toward the passenger side. I shake my head. “You drove all this way,” I tell her. “I’ll drive.” She lets me. I don’t know where we’re going but this is familiar and it feels like home in a way that my house with Janice never did. Olivia turns on the radio and finds a station that is playing something soothing. James Taylor, I think. I remember Olivia’s husband. “James…?” I say. She has her window rolled all the way down and her right arm resting on it. It’s too warm for October and the wind is blowing her hair all over the place. “I told him I was coming to see you,” she says, as if this were the obvious answer. “He wasn’t thrilled, but he’ll be fine. He isn’t working this week so I left the kids with him.” “Kids!” She smiles at me and takes my hand, drumming her fingers along the knuckles. “Two of them.” “I didn’t know.” I feel something strange. It’s a sort of sick feeling in my stomach. Olivia has a whole life without me. “Holland and Linley. They’re four and two. James wants a 56
boy, but I don’t.” She laughs, squeezing my fingers. I don’t think she knows that I can’t have kids. I don’t want to tell her. “Do they look like you?” I ask. I don’t know why I want to know the answer to this question. “Linley does,” she says, looking somewhere in the distance. She is still holding my hand. I like holding hands. I wonder why I didn’t hold Jan’s. “She has my chin. Holland has green eyes like her dad.” We don’t say anything else for a while. I pull into the park next to the tattoo parlor and park the car. We both get out and walk toward the swings. Olivia pushes me, laughing. It’s good to hear her laugh. On the upswing, I almost knock her over and then I’m laughing too. It’s good to feel like laughing. She starts to swing next to me, timing her rhythm to match mine. “We’re married!” she cries. We grab hands and jump off. Suspended in the air for a moment, I close my eyes. We tumble onto the grass and lay there, looking up. The sun is setting. A few dying pink rays fall across the monkey bars and slide. “You love him?” I say. She looks at me before she answers. “Oh, yes. Of course I love him. He’s a good man.” She doesn’t say anything else for a while. I try to picture James holding a baby. “Remember when I asked you if you believe in soulmates?” I remember. It was after she’d met James, but before we stopped spending time together. We were on her roof, and it was twilight, a little later than it is now. “I said I didn’t.” She nods. “I didn’t either.” “You do now?” I say, feeling sick again. “You’re my soulmate,” she says. I sit up and look at her. Her hair is spread in a fan around her head, like a halo, and her eyes are closed. She is smiling peacefully. “You married James,” I remind her. I don’t know what else to say. She sits up too, leaning toward me and resting her forehead against mine. She smells like flowers and peppermint. “We never could have been together. I love you too much.” 57
This makes very little sense to me. I don’t move, hoping she will say more. “People can’t go around loving each other as much as we do – I think you do too – and expect to get anything done.” I don’t push her to say more. I lift my chin and kiss her forehead. We lay down again as the sun sinks behind the tattoo parlor. I can feel the shift of her body when she breathes. Her shoulder is warm against my arm, and the twilit sky is the same shade of gray-blue as Olivia’s eyes.
UNTITLED Rebekah Hernandez
SIGNS Hayden Wilsey (Erasure from pages 102 and 82 in the South Dakota Review, Spring 2010)
The old graveyard rigs back into the night. I know where to stand so the store clerks can’t see me. She’s from the night before Halloween. One of Oversized fingers worn sideways and painted OK. I took a hound washing dishes to Oakland and goodbye tornadoes Rockies and Salt Lake Mormons, knew all their stories. That lake was the ocean, My veins its wrecked broken pathways, The rare red soaked six packs, Seven to a side because the schools were too small. Departure could climb in the boxcars . I know those who did a week or two after A day passed. Coroner’s low black arse would pass by the diner and park next to the spikes, the body, the rails. Ten years now selling dope to the cute ones, and I’m skinpopping to try and save your skin, and the rush is the economy on the weekends. Strip and she wanted to talk about Cindy and the Twins. the girls sent him a joint venting their bitterness. Reading wanted to make it better. that, for some reason, had made him start thinking about Cindy in a way he had forgotten he knew. Geronimo awaited. _*_*_ Funny how you could watch yourself losing control ban child’s play. It lived two blocks over 60
the president of a Buenos Aires crime was sleek, pudgy, handsome. And even-tempered. just his Land Rover reacted by not reacting. It would shake the best of families but not find a glint of recognition in the man’s passive black eyes. home was sarcastic. What about your name? You’ve stopped being Billy Hunter the monk was thinking her body continually turned him on. her supernatural self-possession didn’t stand a chance. His hands were shaking when that started. It was cold, and wet While the city rejected his love. The twin boyfriends tell him about Cindy selling a line to retail chains in Sao Paolo her downtown office managed his investments in secure countries. come young stud with dyed blonde hair to wait elsewhere while they talk. “You like the bad old noir black-and-whites.” I don’t say
FOREBODING Laura Wellington
FOR SALLY THE STOLEN John Hitzel I cried when we buried you. In a ring box. Sorry. Mom dug into her prize garden next to the garage. Sweat, hot sun. Children said small prayers and mom guided them to the angels who would innocently guide them to heaven. Though we never talked, I think we still communicated. We found you in the river. Suburbanites, we brought you home in a cooler that once held beer for the float trip, a time before the river was full of urine. It was a smaller time. I have not cried in a long time for a loved one. I have not loved like I loved you in a long time. You spread your mouth for insects, and baked in sun and cooled in what little shade we knew to give you. There had better be rivers in heaven, cool rapids and quiet shores, smooth granite for relaxing and rough sandstone to match your scales. You played on our folding chairs that we had placed in the current and we admired your adventurerâ€™s mettle, exploring our Coleman plastic cooler with those tiny limbs fragile vertebrae and wide calm dark infant eyes. Then we noticed you, caught a glance of your reptile mystique, 63
let you crawl around on our hands, so much wonder and imagination, new slimy coolness. Nothing like our dog, and from a river! Like good suburbanites, we had to have you. I am sorry we didnâ€™t let you become worm food and instead put you in that stupid ring box. Doomed from the start, we plucked you out of home. You wanted river, even though it was filling with urine. We put you in a plastic box near a window and said sorry, over and over. But it was fun for a bit. We were the cool kids in the suburb for a small time, and mom and dad got to use the fish tank again. We wanted you to death, but thatâ€™s not to say you died for our sins. Sorry.
AGE AND ROTATION Claire Bowman Ochre light beats the brains out of the clouds pregnant with milk and honey that never falls. we rode the boundary, toward abandoned gas stations and empty car lots toward the filthy houses of the mad growing madder toward the grapes as big as breasts toward the fortieth night that comes too late because you struck the stone, you struck it and you were mad. The double jointed city, burning with crosses twists in awkward angles that wring my neck and suck me dry. 2 feet of snow plattered on a silver tray of ice earth’s back aches in the presence of no god and too many animals. We left the house with all the sinks running and the lights on, birthday cake in the oven. it wasn’t faith that led us by the hand into dark living rooms and stale basements, where the rug is burning, and the ceiling floats away carried off by the elixirs of adulthood, of age and rotation, it’s not fate either, just the turning of light.
MARBLED FACE Arthur Maurer He wakes up to his glazed reflection, A man, with cheeks much too flabby, Eyes with night’s shadows dangling beneath, Skin too dry and a bit too pallid-I.e. nothing a good old smile can’t fix. When he sits down for breakfast, It’s the coffee that takes the crown, King Java, whose mighty army Invades the gullet with their steamy torrent, His pupils distending like black balloons. In his walk down the leaf-studded avenue, The sky overhead bearing blank expression, Bicycle wheels roll by with the wind’s push; Marble statues with engraved smiles stand idly by, Slowly crumbling and exhaling bitter dust. His parade is preceded by glistening teeth, Shined to perfection with shoe polish. The laughter he sings is that of a hyena, Floating in the air like a dying ballerina-A musical performed by figurines. In the hours before slumber, he appears In the mirror, darkened by shadows, And what should appear in that obfuscated glass But a face of marble, broken and shattered.
UNA GRAN VIA POR CIERTO April Johnston
MUSICA UNIVERSALIS Catherine Duggan I once read that hunger was the musician that scraped a tune on the ribs of children and dogs, a lullaby half complaint, half weeping. The bra strap swayed in a careless dance holding the knob of the door allowing its clenched fist to twirl her gently. The patient golden partner paces back and forth, a nervous date striving for perfection and failing at the most basic etiquette: open the door politely for a lady. The music is played by our most instinctive human desire. The composer orchestrates our deepest emotions. A bystander pulls knowingly on the strings of your beating heart, willing the ventricles to fill with something more vital than blood. The platelets of uncertainty stored away just as your mother tightens her apron and glances out to the backyard. A cruel wisdom only those we love can pull down the box from a forgotten closet. Donâ€™t lift the lid or the asthmatic breath of your past will push dust out from between the creases. And just like the planets our proportions are in harmony with music. Quietly whisking us all together until the only stars left are those singing alone on our palms. She intrusively stares at the strange dog pissing on her lilies. Embarrassed it 68
lifts its collared head and stares back to a motherâ€™s approving glance. The door creeps open and a paw slides under the cropped glass, exchanging his small poverty for tickets. He will forever try to please his dangling date left out to dry days ago. Nudity swings against the wall your khakis blend into. Stand closer so I can see you. Stand closer so we can hear you.
LEONARD Emma Roeder
TIMEPIECES Julie Perrey He was mostly known by two physical trademarks: One was a curly mane of wild dark hair, and the other was the ridiculous bright red cravat that he insisted upon wearing whenever he performed, which was, to the embarrassment of some, almost constantly. He was not an old man, quite the opposite; rather, he only appeared older than he was, thanks to his overly-articulate manner of speaking. He was fascinated by clockwork and the concept of time, continually wondering at its substance and nature, to the point where he had a clock in every visible window in his house at the town’s edge. He was handsome, to be sure, and polite to all he encountered, but occasionally his personality would grate upon the nerves of the town’s more practical-minded men. At least, they had to say, he was a Godfearing man, the son of one of the local Baptist pastors and his wife. “He’s something of a celebrity, I suppose,” said one of the gentlemen of the town. He cast a glance towards the odd house at the end of the lane. The young woman to whom he was speaking looked up at him from the book she was perusing. “Hm? Oh, yes. Most people believe he’s something of an anomaly,” she replied. “The children seem to gravitate to him—I’ve never seen a phenomenon quite like it.” “Quite. The children adore him. He’s always telling them stories, singing them songs, playing them some of his new music… He’s quite a musical genius.” “Really? I’ve never heard of him,” the gentleman scoffed. “He is a bit of a loner some days. However, sometimes one can see him on the porch or in the doorway, conducting some imaginary orchestra.” “A composer, then?” “I’ve never seen him when he wasn’t.” “What sort of… composer… is he?” 71
An odd smile graced the lady’s lips. “Any and all sorts.” She stood up. “Now, if you’ll kindly excuse me, Sir…” “One more moment. How do you know so much of that man, if he is, as you say, a loner?” She paused, raising an eyebrow. “Quite simply, he is one of my greatest friends, improper as some would consider the notion.” She turned and, without another word, swept back into the house. The young lady was less popular than the composer; as it were, her father was far more important of a public figure, being one of the town’s main financiers (and, coincidentally, the young gentleman’s employer). She herself was a schoolteacher, taking great joy in teaching the children of the town to read and write. She often grew bored with the material world, resulting in her being lost in the thoughts of the stories she would secretly write at night, or else have a book as a constant companion. At that moment, however, she allowed her mind to wander out of her bedroom window and to the strange house at the end of the lane. As usual, there stood a clock in every visible window, each one carefully wound and maintained by the house’s owner. She could imagine him scratching away at a spare piece of paper, transcribing some piece of music he had only just imagined, not letting the idea rest until he had either finished the piece or collapsed from exhaustion. She had done the same thing more than once. After a while, her father called her back down the stairs. The young woman was slightly surprised to see her parents sitting in the parlor with the gentleman from earlier. Normally, her father would conduct business deals in his study, smoking a cigar and seeing how he could coax the other party into seeing things his own way. This day, he looked particularly serious, as though the dealings with this young man affected him personally. “Sir,” she greeted. “What is it, Father?” Her father cleared his throat. “You know that I have been worried for quite a period of time about your future… Most wellestablished bachelors in this region are not… prepared… to take on a slightly freer-thinking woman such as yourself. However, my good 72
man here has just approached me with an interesting proposal.” Her eyes widened; she had been dreading the day this news would come. “And what has he proposed?” she asked, although she felt that she was quite certain of the answer. “I have asked your father for your hand in marriage,” the gentleman replied. “He is inclined to allow it.” The woman was struck immediately and effectively dumb, scarcely able to believe that she would be soon given away to a man that she knew for a fact was demeaning to women, whose lips were more inclined for the liquor bottle than to those of his wife, and who was so ill-humored as to be stifling to all that was good in her mind. Of course, all her father would care about would be his considerable social standing, not his character The young gentleman interrupted her thoughts. “Well? Shall you have me as a husband?” The woman sighed. “If an answer is not important to you at this very moment, Sir, I should like some time to think about your proposal and give you an answer in three days’ time.” She took her leave without waiting for a reply, sweeping back up the stairs and taking shelter once again in her bedroom. Her gaze again wandered to the strangely-shaped house; this time its tenant was visible, winding one of the clocks in the window, probably whistling a tune he had made up on the spot. The lady refused to allow herself to dwell too much on the man’s visage. She had often said to herself that it wasn’t proper to fall in love with the town’s eccentric, that she should allow herself to be married to someone like—that—who could take care of her in a far more dignified manner. It was at that moment, however, that she realized that she did not want such “dignity,” such a thick air of propriety that it drained the soul of all that was good. At least the eccentric—odd as he was— did have a sense of dignity. He was generally well-mannered, for all of his… uniqueness. She wanted life, not merely sensibility. Almost unconsciously, as if she were a puppet pulled by strings, she rose from her chair, walked down the stairs, and vanished from the house. The street was deserted, which was highly unusual for that 73
particular time of day; however, she mused that perhaps it was for the best. People tended to think it enough of a scandal that she and the minister’s boy had the friendship that they did, and visiting him would not be considered a very proper thing for a young lady to do. She stopped at his doorstep, raising her hand to knock. It had been a quiet day for the pastor’s son, which in itself was somewhat rare; he often filled his house with any and all forms of music he could find the energy to summon. This day was different. He had made an appearance on neither the street nor his front porch, preferring to read, wind his clocks, and retreat to his attic for prayer and pondering. The young man had to struggle to keep his thoughts away from the financier’s house up the way. While he gave no thought or weight to the nosy opinions of others, he did not want to appear improper when it came to the financier’s daughter. Already most of the town thought him odd, bordering on insane, he knew; but he did not want to appear to be courting a woman others would certainly view as being out of his league. He sighed as he sat by the window, Bible in hand. She was a more independent woman than that, to be tied down and restricted by others’ opinions, he thought. Yes, she was far too… free for that. He pinched the bridge of his nose, attempting feebly to ward off a sudden headache. He soon gave up on reading and sat at the old piano in his parlor, beginning once again on the soft, chiming melody he had written, if only as a representation of her… As he played, his thoughts grew more and more sour. He had seen the man Grant around the house, conversing with the young woman, even though he himself knew well she detested being disturbed while she was reading or writing. Grant was attempting to court her, he realized. His hands stopped in the middle of his piece. He felt rather like he had been suddenly immersed in a pool of very cold water. “Lord, what am I to do?” he moaned. “I know that the friendship is perhaps the best I can hope for, and that any public declaration would be far too much of a scandal, but I cannot help but wish I would be in that other man’s place… I covet his position, 74
Father, for it would be the key to attaining my petty earthly desires… Mea culpa.” He rested his weight upon the piano, as though his muscle and bone had become liquid. “I am despairing, Lord, over that which I cannot have, though I know Thou shalt provide. Forgive me my longing. Allow me to live not under the shadow of grief—“ He was interrupted by a knock on his door. Visitors did not normally stop by during this time of day, if at all, unless the town authorities had finally arrived to order him to stop shaming the town, his father, his church, and most practical-minded citizens, and to perhaps make a more respectable figure of himself, or else fade away entirely from public view. He sighed, straightened his cravat, and reached the door just as his mysterious visitor pounding on it once again. This time, the person spoke: “I know you’re at home, please let me in…” “What are you doing here?” the young man asked, stepping aside to allow the young woman entrance. “You know how angry your father becomes if he knows you’re here.” “It will be nothing compared to his wrath at this particular moment. The leave I took of him and his…client… this afternoon was most shameful, considering his… most intriguing proposal.” “You say the word ‘proposal.’ What was the proposition? Oh, dear, you are far too pale for my liking. Please, sit down. May I at least offer you some tea?” He dashed into his kitchen and hurriedly poured a cup for the distraught-looking young woman in his parlor. When he returned, she was resting her chin in one hand, staring at one of the clocks on his mantelpiece and nervously fiddling with a piece of lace on her dress. She accepted the steaming cup gratefully. “There, now,” he sighed. “I believe I have hardly seen you in this or a similar state. What happened?” She took a sip of the tea before answering. She was continually struck by his gentleness, an attribute she could not say she had ever seen from her would-be fiancé. All the same, she recounted the events from the afternoon, finishing with a disgusted shudder. He observed her a moment before replying. “Would marrying this man be so distasteful to you? From what I have been able to see 75
of him, he would be… a smart match for you, and he is handsome, as far as I would be able to tell.” “Not compared to some,” she replied so softly he could scarcely hear. Her eyes met his briefly, then returned to the mantelpiece clock. “What my father does not understand is that I do not want to marry the ‘smart’ man. I cannot stand the dignified or ‘smart’ match. I despise most of the options that our peers would consider a good and right pairing for me.” “I do hope you don’t plan on being alone for the rest of your life, then?” he teased. Her eyes met his once again, somewhat less briefly and somewhat more pleading than before. “Of course not. I simply require that the man I marry be one that loves me, not my father’s standing.” “Perhaps if you explained your opinion on the matter, your father and his friend would reach a compromise of some sort?” She shook her head. “My father listens far more to what is reasonable than to what is right. He would never allow me to marry the man that I have actually fallen in love with.” Her eyes widened as though she were admitting the prospect of her being in love aloud for the first time. His heart began to beat wildly within his chest. Perhaps, perhaps there could be some glimmer of possibility of happiness at last? He reminded himself to keep calm; he had no way of knowing, after all. “You… you have considered someone, then?” She took another sip of tea. “Only one. He has never courted me, but is still one of the dearest men I could know.” Her cheeks suddenly took on a bright red tinge. He trembled a bit. The crushing realization that this could be his only chance struck him. “I… I know how that must be… the one woman I would possibly consider is… far too good for me. I could only pray she could accept me for the lowly man that I am.” He reached over and took her hands in his. “Please accept how much I truly and ardently care for you. While I know it is far too sudden and far, far too much of a stretch for most people to begin to 76
comprehend, I beg you. Choose me.” She sat, frozen, unbelieving. At last. “I… I gave the other gentleman two days before I would answer him.” She paused, then smiled so that joy immediately filled his heart. “I believe that gives us two days to get our own affairs in order.” He leaned forward and kissed her softly on the cheek. “I believe we can work with that.” In the window, the clocks chimed the hour.
BESIDES, WHITE CHICKENS Jennifer Miller nothing says anything at all when dealing with a blue wheel barrow only when a red one appears iced with chocolate frosting with a child sitting inside enjoying their first birthday tossing handfuls of cake out to feed the white chickens does anything make all the sense in the world in the childâ€™s mind.
MI AMOR Hayden Wilsey When I see you, I think of a bookshelf; Tall, narrow, usually made of fragments of other people’s garbage, (The best kind of course!) and carrying a lot of heavy things; like books or…well, mostly books. You like books and I like you, but I don’t care much for books, But I do appreciate a good bookshelf, so there is still a chance for us? Your lips are like peaches; Soft, crimson, and covered with little furs that I don’t really like To get in my mouth, but I like your kisses so much that I’ll settle for furballs. (Seriously, it’s like a carpet.) When I walk around campus, I think of all of our times together. The bricks remind me of that time you threw a brick at me because you don’t care for me that much, The cars remind me of that time you hit me with your car because you don’t care for me that much, The fountain reminds me of that time you tried to drown me because you don’t care for me that much. But the more you hurt me, the more I like you, so…yeah… Call me if you want to hangout or get back together or run into me with your car again. My line is always open, so call me at 314-608-7777. And I’m sorry for killing your pet cat.
UNTITLED Rebekah Hernandez
UMBRELLA Claudia Convers
AFFAIRS WITH SNAKES Jessica Phillips Look, there, I say. An abandoned sewer pipe lies, snakelike in the grass. Warmth from the alcohol blankets my stomach on the inside. His bottle swishes – up, down, up down – The air smells heavy like cigar smoke. It tastes like his salty skin. The skin of a snake. Like that first time our ankles locked on a bed made for one – but snakes are so misunderstood. I remember my teacher reprimanding a girl for letting a boy feel her shaven legs – sex, sex, sex, it’s everywhere, can’t you feel it? it all gets muddled up inside, I can find no concrete substance, What have I learned worth teaching? I could say, Let them have affairs and raid garbage cans with the best of us. I could say, Let them fall in love, though love scares me so. 82
UNTITLED Natalie Graf
CHANGE Noelle Chandler It flew through the window this morning in a cold little eddy of airDressed in yesterday’s rags and tomorrow’s paper, it asked for a lock of my hair. It held up a sign and offered a cup, crying Cassandra’s tearswhispered tomorrow’s disaster and yesterday’s news with a croaking voice in my ears. It flew through the window this morning, and I ushered it out the door. I couldn’t shake this feeling I hadI’d somehow seen it before.
UNTITLED Michael Price
WINDOW Claudia Convers
ANTI-CREATION Kyle Talbot The two were sharing a moment on the earth where they lay, she could look up and see the pinpricked black blanket set against all of the suns of the universeâ€” his eyes were down, an inch away from the earth but he could see things, too, nose scraping dirt, barely there insects wobbling and wandering, in the maze his eyelids created with the soil. The way she kneaded his back, fingers pushing hard as stone his nose started to slip and crunch its way into the soil and then there was anti-creation. Bones breaking into fragments, grinded into dust and absorbed once again, into the earth. When it was all over, her fingers were tired and he was gone, the moment finished, and she was all alone. She left promptly and headed towards his motherâ€™s. She needed to talk about what she had done.
UNTITLED Casey Henderson
HOLY Andrew Kindiger Itâ€™s not safe to smoke out of plastic or drink in the car but in the right space, bleeding up from sorted glass is a whiff of crucifixion. what is the cross? either a mahogany bar or a cold bathroom floor following the notion that if you give a god a sacrifice, you get a reward when love is something to say we want the human blanket to cover more things, the love pistols and sex magnets turning cupid into a cum stain like a cool fuck outside of town just wanting to feel like a regular dropping cream on the bottom and stacking sugar on top pretending my hand is bigger than the cup and planning how to get back or just the ritual, the warmth, another drive that will turn into the night focused on curing that dull ache starting to burn like so many cigarettes transubstantiating the coffee tin on the porch into an urn, and thereâ€™s always that one left over in the living room, half ash, burnt to the filter acting as a candle since breakfast where nourishment from fictional biscuits covered in white hot poetry, spiced with thirst is the last refuge for those who have turned the burner to high and tossed the scorched starch in the trash atop blackened disks with a blown sun where the middle used to be 89
we pop holy vitamins, sweet chalky confections covering sins in fuzzy memories that vaguely assert holy dichotomies of chance and fate so holy are the profanity prayers shouted from a window seal during holy nights of ecstasy and mistakes trying to find a grail that will be holy when it is dried up and a sticky film remains, is anything ever really empty?
NIGHT AT LE RENARD Jackie Boos
WE ARE A PLANET OF GREAT VACANCIES Rachelle Wales I’ve become obsessed with finding faces in things the flight patterns of dragonflies, blue swords alighting on my shoulders, swift landing to stare with a universe of eyes before take-off, (wing-brushed space dust still clinging to my skin) Distant stars never touching each other’s light In diffraction from thirty thousand planes disco balls still spinning slowly in a bar off Southwest Boulevard, when the music’s turned off and the tender’s alcoholic rag is finishing up the final counter-clocks on the wooden bar, the stained shine of its grain the only thing here that has grown better with age, the only thing worth keeping, liquor included. And that’s the thing about stars in their eyes, you can never fix the constellations the way you want them, can never find Andromeda or her unrelated Seven Sisters, wear the crown of Cassiopeia or drink hot soup from the Big Dipper, (just an asterism, really) Its ladle only to lull you into believing that Pluto is still a planet, even after we’ve seen 50 billion galaxies.
And didnâ€™t you know that the bright lights we look to are liars, shamelessly telling us tale after tale of our wishes-come-true, only pretending to wink, the moon their poster child for cheese that still sits under the barmanâ€™s counter, a thick film congealed on its surface, waiting for the woman who ordered it with nachos, the one who still tells her secrets to dragonfliesâ€™ eyes still refuses to pick up pennies by their tails.
GRANDMA’S VOICE Mia Pohlman I imagine it sounded like the sigh of a wooden door opening with the forgotten sound of unforgotten voices. And peaches-the homegrown kind you canned, and little china shepherdesses calling in their sheep after a long day of not knowing where they were but knowing they’d come back. I bet it was the pink and purple keys on a Little Tykes piano played by a skillful three-year-old and a laugh like the whisper of an erased Etch-a-Sketch. I think of the daisy-swayed music of the jack-in-the-box and I think of you and it is the same. A thousand stars sighing their glows a trillion ballerinas’ toes tinkling. You in the spreading-colored dress pinking German love. It’s the sound of muffled clothespins biting the jeans clinging to the line, forty years ago and nine sets of scrawny, dirty legs’ voices calling to the grass. It’s honey pastries and unrolled cinnamon sticks and cylindrical sea-water Tupperware glasses sat high on the top shelf that my straining tippie toes can’t reach. It’s the dirty dishes tinning together in that metal sink and the witness of a worn-in china pattern blue chenille blanket. It’s my little sweaty bare two-year-old legs yarning against your bluejean-like pants. But mainly it’s the silence of your milky white worn rosary bead hair caressing smile that my ears can’t stop hearing. 94
UNTITLED Emily Gannon
STILL LIFE OF A BROKEN HEART Meredith Rupp A rusty harmonica lies At the bottom of a box Wailing the faintest ghost of the blues. And dying to a bent note in E major Is a chain of wilted white daisies, Tied together by brittle stems, Yearning once more to adorn The crown of someoneâ€™s head.
FLICKER Yosef Rosen The lights in my head have gone out again— Wait! There they go, the mad flickering things, Hot and bright—no, wait, they’re dead— Wait!—no—yeah, they’re dead. Inconvenience. Coffeepot squirting acid Across UFO treasure maps. It’s dark in here, you’ve no idea how so— And bloody hard to think, in consequence. Let’s light a match. Don’t drop it now! That’s it—touch yellow flame to cigarette tip, Light up— Inhale slow— Good Long Sweet Drag. Don’t that feel good? Better than twinkies and vodka, By far. Quit your yapping about my health; I am Poetry.
WHILE BROWNIES BAKE Natalie Graf Reading her writing is eating Chocolate from a foreign country. Iâ€™d rather dislocate my knuckles than make two trips to the house with the groceries. satin hands leather hands holding hands. To devote one more moment under the stars is the space after the delay, then the decision; another kiss could never come more sweetly. A backpacker must halt his mountain musing at dusk. So always lick the brownie bowl. Naps give you 730 days in a year. I just bought new running soles. They smell synthetic, and they feel like theyâ€™re made to hold, to hold on. That moment jetting through the post office doors, leaving, letter sent, smiling. When dried, white-red 98
roses become the parchment on my windowsill across which I still read your kiss-tipped love. Those icicles are gnarly. and dripping, clearly. Uncensor your love. Napkins and playbills, receipts and palms: she the time wrinkler said it: there is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred.
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