Vol. XXXIX 2016 Undergraduate Journal of Poetry, Prose, and Art Truman State University
WINDFALL such sudden fortune: wind’s gift of crisp, ripened fruit fallen at our feet — Founders, 1976
Dear Reader, I’m delighted to present the 39th edition of Windfall magazine. This book not only contains creative work from some of the best and brightest minds Truman has to offer, but it also represents a year of hard work and dedication from my staff. Before you start exploring these pages, however, I’d like to thank those who have made Windfall possible this year. First, I am grateful for the support given by the faculty and staff of the English Department. Our lives are truly enriched by their guidance. I would especially like to thank Dr. Royce Kallerud for his unwavering support of the magazine. Kathy Bulen also deserves thanks for her endless patience and invaluable help with the business side of Windfall. Similarly, I need to express immense gratitude to our advisor, Professor Ed Rogers, for both his warmth and commitment to fostering creativity at Truman. Second, I cannot overemphasize how grateful I am to my staff. Each staff member not only brought a unique perspective to our meetings, but also spent a few hours each week reading submissions. In particular, I need to thank our genre editors for their enthusiasm and insightful comments. Thanks to Sebastián for their humor and preoccupation with ghosts and Oreos, to Lena for her good eye and our post-meeting chats, and to Arielle for her positive and friendly attitude. I’m indebted to our Submissions Editor, Leela Chapman, for her tireless behind-the-scenes work. She is truly the unsung hero of Windfall. Erica Nolan, our Publicity/Event Organizer, deserves recognition for her live-tweeting skills and innovative fundraising ideas. I am also thankful for our Design Editor, Emily Ploch. She’s outdone herself this year with a truly beautiful design. My Assistant Editor, Kate Hawkins, deserves recognition for her hard work, astute comments, and making me laugh. Finally, I must thank you, the reader, and everyone who submitted their work to the magazine. We exist because of you. I’m proud to share this testament to the talent of Truman students and sincerely hope you enjoy reading what my staff and I have put together for you. Sincerely, Kira Chatham Editor-in-Chief
Staff Editor-in-Chief Assistant Editor Design Editor Submissions Editor Publicity/Event Organizer Art Editor Assistant Art Editor Poetry Editor Assistant Poetry Editor Prose Editor Assistant Prose Editor Faculty Advisor General Staff
Kira Chatham Kate Hawkins Emily Ploch Leela Chapman Erica Nolan Lena Leuci Brenden Harrison Sebastián Maldonado-Vélez Lara Krusniak Arielle Sutton Kristi Navalta Professor Ed Rogers Melissa Albers Jesse Dinkins Rachel Fechter Madeleine Kuennen Adriana Maria Long Emily O’Connor Katie Puryear Sydney Ruffin Rachel Ziebarth
CONTENTS Prose 10 22 33 57 72
Genevieve Allen Allie Hult Rowen Conry Rachel Fechter Hannah Litwiller
Learning to Read a Love Letter Fool’s Gold The Nails Fish Tank Penis Envy
Art & Photography Cover Cover 9 19 20 20 26 31 31 32 42 49 49
Anna Burland Rachel Graef Brenden Harrison Brittany Schenk Madi Pearson Anna Burland Lindsay St. John Danielle Martin Melissa Albers Megan Dux Nicholas Phan Kira Chatham Lena Leuci
56 63 63 64 71 78 78 85 86 92 92 97
Madi Pearson Rachel Graef Rachel Graef Nicholas Phan Anna Burland Lena Leuci Nicholas Phan Rachel Graef Brenden Harrison Isabelle Woollett Josiah Rosell Sara Murillo
I Don’t Want to Believe Night Watcher Beauty Among Death Destroy Them with Lasers Enteroctopus Sunrise Under Streetlights Beautiful Ending Summer Day on Inis Mór Vive La Révolution Sane at Work I Wanna Be a Hero — But Not Today Oregon KODAK 400-2TMY, roll 7, frame 15, silver gelatin print Chrysaora Quinquecirrne alive dead Demon of the East Porzana carolina Pentax Sketch For You: One More Time Frankie Untouched Mother Bear Eavesdropping Feeding the Forgotten
Poetry 6 7 8 17 18 18 21 23 24 27 28 30 40 43 46 48 50 52 53 54 61 62 65 66 68 69 70
Jesse Dinkins Ashley Gaines Zane DeZeeuw Parker Conover Lena Leuci Sarah DeWolf Natalie Welch Lydia Frank Kate Hawkins Jesse Dinkins Genevieve Allen Zach Hollstrom Trista Sullivan Ashley Gaines Katlin Walker Sebastián Maldonado-Vélez William Piedimonte Arielle Sutton Katlin Walker Parker Conover Zane DeZeeuw Rachel Ziebarth Sharon Edele Sharon Edele Tom Martin Sharon Edele Jesse Dinkins
76 79 80 82 84 87 88 89 90 93 94 95 96 98 99
Sebastián Maldonado-Vélez Madeleine Kuennen Katlin Walker Emily Stobbe Morgan Jones Allison Gaston Megan Matheney Sebastián Maldonado-Vélez Parker Conover Morgan Jones Lydia Frank Aderinsola Adesida Kate Hawkins Melissa Albers Zane DeZeeuw
On How I Used to Feel Sipping River Water Tumbleweed Rd. Like Waves Why does the break start so late? Ted Southward Sinking untitled A Bouquet of Matches For Henry Cruising concert hall Weekly Amnesia Silver-Tongued Vagabond Notes for the Surrender-Callers “Oceanic” The Mayflower Ashtray Musings Ode to Burnt Matches Mark Hughes Sonnet Grief For My Tomb Light Pollution will work 4 40 dollars Hidden Affliction That Time I Looked at Pi Kapp and had an Existential Crisis elevator Bad News Spider Corpses Fatgirl Summer Fay The Logic of Sleep Little White Spider love my grandfather says Sobering Happiness Snow White airports Rhythm and Blues Who Walks the Stairs Without a Care? Cycle eigengrau
On How I Used to Feel your name is brisk, stiff morning in my lungs first frost lining the edges of my ribcage, thawing slow in big sun, sleepy warm. river washed pebbles in my mouth, cool and compliant to rough tongue i want to suck the sweet out of the stones in your collarbones. radiant and pristine daybreak.
Sipping River Water When summers tasted like lemon drops dissolving upon my tongue I swallowed down their sweetness with handfuls of water and mud. On the days salmon suns pulled open our eyes, you sat idly on the rocks and I marked our reflections with my pirate trove of mixed bean stones, before drifting past like a crocodile singing you a siren song. You and your fishing rod consistently reminded me, while I chased your strides, â€œNever take muddy drinks.â€? But on this day you just sat quietly, so the current and I agreed to drift down to the riverbed and choke on a handful or three. A scrunched nose and curled toes countered the gritty sludge, as I crept behind your precarious perch. I trudged after your gnarled shadows and up to a dinner plate, where your cocked eyes watched my fork spear fish but I did not hesitate. Confused when my tongue tasted silt and nothing sweet, still unaware of the mud now settled in my teeth.
Tumbleweed Rd. I lived on a road where I beg to be whisked away like its namesake that cartwheels across old western films. My parents forgot the address and planted themselves as if we lived on Elm, Walnut, or Sycamore street. They braided their rigid roots around the rocky foundation they swore was soft soil. I was not born for roots. Each time a blissful breeze blows by I imagine a freedom Kerouac once knew. I want to float far from the objects that oubliette and bump into beings for brief hellos and implied goodbyes. Free from their tendrils which constrict me so I cannot breathe nor taste the wind which calls my name.
Beauty Among Death // Brenden Harrison
Learning to Read a Love Letter The old coffee maker gurgled as it finished brewing, dripping the dark liquid into the small pitcher. As the aroma wafted around the small kitchen that seemed to still be fully submerged in the 80s with its dark wood cabinets and yellow countertop, the man looked up from his chair in the living room. A wrinkled hand grabbed the blue cane leaning against the side table, easing its stiff owner to his feet with a groan. At the sound of his movement, the orange tabby awoke and softly meowed a call of discontentment at the disruption of her silent sleeping environment. The man shuffled over the worn beige carpet onto the linoleum, putting his free hand on the counter to steady himself as he reached the steaming pot. He poured his coffee, looking out the small window above the sink while he took his first sip. With every swallow, he hoped to drown his nervousness at what was to come that day. It was a good day for napping and not much else. October had been otherwise refreshing for the residents of Grand Rapids, but that was one of the beauties of living in Michigan. Today though, the sky was the color of wet cement and the ongoing cool drizzle fell relentlessly on the fading flower bed near the fence of Arthur’s small backyard. The tabby, seeing an opportunity for attention, sauntered to Arthur’s Velcro orthopedics, belly nearly dragging on the ground. She looked up at him and meowed. “I know, Sadie. It’s time for your breakfast.” Arthur set down his coffee on the counter and made his way around the round wood table. A lot of meals had been served, conversations had, and tests studied for on that table. Every time he saw the scuff across the top, it took him back to when Jack had gone through his car mechanic phase. Jack took after his father in that love of cars, one of the few things they could relate on. For Jack, it was muscle cars, Trans Ams,
Mustangs. For Arthur, Chevy trucks. He wondered what his son was doing with his life, if he had a family, if he ever thought of his parents. He hadn’t seen him since the incident, though that wasn’t surprising. Arthur took the bag of Friskies off the floor and poured it into the food bowl that had progressively been replaced with bigger bowls as Sadie’s appetite and Arthur’s indifference increased. Sadie trotted over to the bowl, tail high and collar jingling. He watched her scarf down the food, chuckling at how her excitement for eating never waned. She hadn’t missed a meal in fifteen years, but that made no difference to her. Arthur walked back to his chair, coffee in hand, and turned on the small television that sat against the faded pink wall. The “Perry Como Show” sounded from the oldies channel, black and white figures singing along to songs long forgotten by a new generation. Arthur glanced over at the empty chair next to him. Its worn, green velvet didn’t look the same anymore. He’d had a lot of trouble adjusting. Neither he nor Ruth were young and healthy like they used to be, but it was still hard to see his life from a new perspective after years of the same thing. It was “I,” not “we” now. And he missed her. Arthur twisted his wedding ring on his finger. His arthritis burned as he did it, but he continued anyway. It reminded him of her, and he needed that. Years of cutting hair as a barber had really tightened up his fingers in his old age. Rick never mentioned that in the job description, he thought to himself. Rick Taylor was the owner of the barbershop down the street from where Arthur grew up. One day, Arthur had wandered into the shop looking for work and the next he was sweeping floors and learning to cut hair. Rick had really taken him in, he’d been like a father to Arthur when his own was busy providing for his family of seven children. Rick was a middle-aged bachelor who had never been interested enough in changing his routine to settle down. No, all Rick really needed was his barbershop and his little wooden
sailboat he took out on the lake every weekend the weather was nice enough for it. Arthur spent what seemed like his whole life in the small shop. He started working there from the age of twelve and only stopped when he retired. When Rick passed away with no family left that he was close to, he left the shop in Arthurâ€™s name. Arthur did his best to uphold the legacy and customer relationships that Rick had worked tirelessly to maintain. If nothing else, Arthur could cut a mean crew cut. Arthur ran a hand through his own thin gray hair. How he used to love to cut, to take a long overdue mess of hair and turn it into a do that would drive the girls wild. The perfection of it, getting each hair the precise length, styling it just right, and seeing how his customers beamed when they saw their new selves staring back at them in the floor-to-ceiling mirror. That was rewarding. He sighed, reminiscing was more of a melancholy activity now. He needed his other half to share it with. â€˜Til death do us part. If only that never had to happen. Ruth was his light, the one who pointed out the sun reflecting off the dewdrops on the blades of grass in the morning while he noticed his feet getting soggy. She was everything he could have hoped for and nothing that he thought he deserved. Him, an illiterate man from a poor family. He dropped out of school early and never thought of much of a future for himself. Until he met her. But now it was back to the beginning it seemed except for the one reminder, the piece she left behind. He had found it a week after the funeral. That time when the living room resembled more of a jungle than a place to sit on account of the plants gifted to him for the ceremony, when the refrigerator was filled with containers of food from concerned neighbors, and Sadie sulked when she started to notice her napping partner was nowhere to be found. He had been cleaning out her clothes, at that time the pain of
loss so strong that even the sight of one of her shirts would send tears to his tired eyes. So, he decided it was time to donate them and start recovering. That’s when he pulled open her sock drawer to find a neat, green envelope lined with printed flowers: daisies and zinnias. Ruth had always loved gardening, caring for things. “Art” was written on the front in her swooping calligraphy handwriting. One of the few words he knew, his own name, he had learned as a child. Upon seeing it, his breath had caught in his throat and he stumbled backwards onto the bed, sitting down to keep from falling from the shock. After a few minutes, he stood again and slowly looked into the drawer. Paper and ink, that’s all it was, but that was not even close to what it meant to him. Since that time, the letter remained where Ruth had last placed it and Arthur had searched for a solution to his problem. He drove his old ’65 Chevy truck to the nearest elementary school and, telling the administration about his situation, had been receiving reading lessons over the past eight months. His mind didn’t work like it used to, but he was learning. His illiteracy had been a roadblock in his life. With Ruth, it wasn’t so hard. She was his translator, albeit always unwilling to allow him to remain illiterate. As much as she wanted him to learn and tried to teach him, he would not let her help. He had gotten through life for decades without being able to read, he could do fine without it. As hard as it was to convince her, or anyone else for that matter, not being able to read gave him an outlook on life that had become a part of who he was. Not reading meant living a more focused life, giving his full attention to what people said, and cherishing every moment. It meant not dwelling on past events; once they were forgotten then they were gone, and he kept pictures of the memories he wanted to keep. Otherwise, it enabled him to live in the present without distractions of the past or the future. And besides, what would people think if they knew a
grown man didn’t know how to read? He couldn’t stand the embarrassment. But now he knew it was time to do what Ruth had always wanted for him to do. Sadie walked into the doorway of the kitchen and sat, licking her paws contently. Arthur turned off the television, rose from his chair, and leaned on his cane while he walked down the narrow hallway to his room, the dresser, and the letter. Opening the drawer, he reached in and took out the envelope, holding it softly in his hand. He sat down on his bed. His hands were shaking. He ran a finger over his name on the envelope, imagining her pen shaping the letters from the tray on her hospital bed. It must have been when she had come home to say goodbye to the world that she had put the letter in the drawer. How much strength she must have used to get out of bed and put it there. He opened the seal, tearing carefully. The letter was written on plain notebook paper, folded carefully into thirds. He could see blue ink through the back of the page. Arthur took the paper out of the envelope, unfolding it as he took a breath. He read. His eyes squinted in concentration, lips mouthing the words on the page. My Dearest Art, If you are reading this, then it seems you have finally decided to join the literate. Though it hasn’t been easy being your translator all these years, being your wife has been more than a blessing and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I hope you don’t think it cruel that I am writing to you now. I knew you would do what felt right, you always have. I’m proud of you, my love. Though it seems I’ll have to leave you soon, know that there is no expiration date on my love for you. There’s something I want you to do for me. I know it won’t be easy, but it’s one of my greatest desires for you. I want you to reach out to Jack. If things are still like they were, I know
you haven’t spoken to our son in many years. Well, dear, it’s time to start. I know if you have the drive to learn to read now, then you can make things right with our son. One last thing, I have something for you that should help motivate you to keep reading. About a year after we got married, I was struggling with your illiteracy. I don’t know if you remember it, but those days were difficult. I, of course, had known you were illiterate, but when it came to being your wife, it seemed to be even more emphatic of an issue. Suddenly I was taking on duties that I felt were too much for me alone to handle because you truly could not do them. I needed you to be there for me, and you were but just not in the way that I wanted. Do you remember those days? I wanted to quit on us. One day, I decided to balance all the frustration and discouragement I felt and write to you. I was at the point where I did not truly believe you would learn to read and I was accepting that. But even so, writing to you was my way of living that dream that I had for you. It was my way of letting go of making you into what my idea of “perfect” was. At first it was almost like therapy, but as I continued, writing two or three times each month almost continuously, I began to see the potential of it. I stored the letters in the cleaning supplies cabinet- you never did get very close to that, dear. I had planned on bringing them out and reading them to you years ago, as an anniversary gift. But things don’t always work out as planned, and the longer I kept the letters, the more I saw them as a way to say goodbye, especially when I received the diagnosis . You won’t find them in the cabinet now, Art. That’s another thing I need to tell you. After you and Jack had your falling out, I was torn. I knew you and Jack would keep your space from each other—you are more alike than you know—but I couldn’t go without talking to my son. I have been writing to him for the last
thirty years. Each time I sent a letter for Jack, I sent two or three for you in the same envelope. All of the letters are with Jack now. He promised me to keep them sealed, waiting for you. Jackâ€™s phone number and address are written on the inside of the envelope. My dear, it is never too late to start again, or to start at all. I love you forever my darling. -R When he reached the end, he set the letter in his lap. He looked down, processing what he had read from the most important person that had ever entered his life. He shook his head, chuckling to himself. Arthur stood, placing the letter on the bed. Grabbing his cane, he headed to the back door that led from the kitchen to his backyard. He grabbed an umbrella and scissors on his way out, sliding the screen door open and carefully stepping over the ledge as his cane led him to the rear of the lot. The rain fell around him and his shoes sloshed in the grass. He reached the flower garden at the back of the lot. The flowers, which had bloomed beautifully a few months ago, had faded and wilted. There was life left in them still. At the plot, he stood at the edge. He gathered his balance, leaning his cane against the wooden fence. Taking the scissors, he carefully cut a flower not yet completely beaten down by cool drizzle. Taking it, he returned inside; shutting the door on the rain, shutting the door on the flowers. Setting the flower on the counter, he retrieved his coffee mug, poured another cup, and let the steam carry him off to daydreams of Trans Ams and answered phone calls.
Blankets like waves, ebbing and flowing the tide of our bodies. Water warm. Alabaster skin pressed against mine, a childâ€™s face to the window. The bon hiver rolls in, seemingly from the east with the sun that tempts with its glow, glimmering off the Atlantic as daylight dwindles. Warmth grows in the womb of a mattress. Warmth turns to heat, heat to sweat as the moon pulls harder coaxing ocean closer and closer and closer. Winter is as finite as it is infinite, just as spring is fleeting it is infinite, thawing thick tundra, taiga melting into an ocean pulled by the moon, by you.
Why does the break start so late? “On the third day before Christmas, my to-do list said to me, ‘Wrap presents and eat three reindeer cookies.’” The American Revolution started in _____ when the colonists declared that T should be solved for with the Ideal Gas Law, not specific heat. On the third day before Christmas, I was taking finals while visions of 1,776 cookie shaped formulas danced in my head.
There once was a student named Ted who wrote ‘til he ran out of lead. It was after midnight, so he said out of spite, “Screw it, I’m going to bed.”
Destroy Them with Lasers // Brittany Schenk
Enteroctopus // Madi Pearson
Sunrise Under Streetlights // Anna Burland
Southward Sinking 1 Suspense tastes like copper I’ve bitten my tongue too hard as liquid flame dissipates from its hell-fire blue to a solid orb, southward sinking congealing drunken slurring drips down the drain aerated to the magma soul. 2 I’ve felt too many :59s to trust the bell chimes to resonate on time the next moment, a hollow ringing where a heavy metal tone should have been buried Dali’s pocket watch is evidence enough I’ve got empty casket blues. 3 I can trust the sun to set. at a different notch of sundial. each evening. the moon advertises the vacancy of its craters, gravity interlaces its fingers in mine molten living sky has cooled to volcanic rock and I unclench my jaw, breathe, listen to the pinpricks of stars intangible more desirable their light less imposing
Fool’s Gold She holds the trophy in her hands, fingers clasped tightly to the metal as her mind remains untethered entirely from the moment. The false gold takes her back twenty-six years, like some kind of time-traveling mechanism that somewhere, dozens of researchers are scrambling to create. It’s imperfect, though—tainted by years of perspective and memories to crowd out the one brought to her attention now. This one series of memories. Little by little, time has chipped away at the details: the particular way the sun had hit her eyes since she’d forgotten to bring her sunglasses that day, and at the clench in her stomach from insecurities about her ratty sneakers and her family in the stands, and at the faces of her competitors and even at exactly where the race was and how fast she went. She just remembers that she failed. After months of training and hoping and praying, her best hadn’t been good enough. Clutching the trophy now is fate’s cruel tease, that the one thing she’d worked hardest for had been so far out of reach, but now rests so uselessly in her hands. She doesn’t see a trophy or even a memory at all; she sees the vacuum of potential time that she feels now was wasted. “Mom? Reliving the glory days? I thought you’d be happy for me.” She blinks, the room and her daughter returning to crisp focus. She hands the trophy back, realizing it was lighter than she’d expected. She smiles.
1. My father tried harder than earthquakes: but we are all only salt water mixed with air. 2. At any given time, there are at least 1,800 thunderstorms in progress over the Earth’s atmosphere. 3. As if, after all, a mother could say “sky” and mean something like “love.” 4. The cave of space: a howling, airless silence. My parents do not speak that language.
A Bouquet of Matches Flames licking fingertips, lips flicking words, seemingly harmless conversational tidbits like matches, but the phosphorus won’t burn out. Now I hold a bouquet of lit matchsticks. I wonder whose idea it was to buy another beer. I’m trying to hold my fist of light steady, but it shakes when he looks at me. I don’t want to place my hand in water because I’m finally beginning to feel warm again. I have a candle burning at home, but I can’t see it from here. I told myself when I came here I wouldn’t play with fire, but then he gave me a matchbook with his phone number written inside and at first I was curious then I was delirious and now I’m holding a bouquet of lit matches, too afraid to touch anything. I don’t want to start a fire,
but itâ€™s autumn and the leaves are dry and itâ€™s cold at night and my candle is in my old deciduous world and these matches look like yellow flowers, like summer never ending, like dandelions that will turn white as wishes and spread on the wind like wildfire. I meant for these matches to flare out but theyâ€™re still burning, hot on my fingertips, a garland that I should put in water before I burn myself or anyone else.
Beautiful Ending // Lindsay St. John
A feral cat died in my garden today. his name was probably once Henry but people give away what they can’t bear to uphold, anymore. his eyeball was gutted out and the sinews and tissues were splayed like shrapnel across his doomed face, labored living did not suit him well. and sometimes, in the sulfurous nights where the sheets are too hot i wonder if the hardened sweet spots in my heart are the gutted out eyeballs of my smaller self’s soul. “do this for younger jesse” because it’s what she would have wanted, stuck in a book and dreaming idealistically of the future. we used to have nightmares about death but now death seems smaller than labored living
A little rust on the handle bars. Brown vinyl seat. Cracked gum wall tires. Red that puts a cardinal to shame. It was a treasure. Not hidden; obvious like the ocean but no less enticing. The August day whispered a hint of subdued excitement with the low, saxophone breeze. From a website to a front yard, the road here was paved with more than asphalt. The woman was faded like an old newspaper. A “For Sale” ad for freedom was written In the wrinkles of her yellowed face. One ride down the secluded old neighborhood, Can I still ride a bike? A confirmation slightly creaked with a turn. Suddenly I had spokes, rubber, silver, red, speed. I had it all. Rear-view mirror. Four spinning wheels, two still. Silver springs. Bolts and bolts and bolts. Back to the beginning, I took pictures. Don’t let this beautiful thing escape Click don’t roll away from me Click you’ll need a basket Click
Welcome to this new place, now discover it. Dodging potholes, missing more than footsteps with tread-marks leaving their breaths on the pavement for an instant. It feels like acceptable escaping. The rhythm and decisions that seem no more present than calories in ice cream are still very much there. Breaths rise and fall, legs move, hands direct but all that ever seems to happen is breeze, birdsong, humming and history. It is convenience, but maybe more than anything it is absorption. Lights all over. White on the front, red on the back. Rainbow in the rims. â€œBORN 2 RIDEâ€?, a shining bell. Roads will wind in different directions, rubber will wear in different ways. But if there is a path, if bolts and a metal frame and gears and tires roll, I will try for a taste of that wind. I will cruise.
no minors in the mezzanine, youngsters thrown to the pit in front of the stage. their favorite bands only play in destitute dives like this, laced with smoke from hazy stage to neon exits. they loved it. the lead singer stood on his Yamaha keys and shot the breeze with fan girls front row. notes cascaded in decibels, the kind that shuddered through their chest, melodies shook them, synchronized. encore, encore! then finding those neon exits through the smog. pseudo-city-slickers with a curfew running through rain to mini-van (their only giveaway), hair dripping, eye-liner streaking, all smiles, ears still ringing with poetry.
Summer Day on Inis MĂłr // Danielle Martin
Vive La RĂŠvolution // Melissa Albers
Sane at Work // Megan Dux
Mom never left her room. Ever. She had a “stay-at-home job”: that’s what we told her old friends, and the plumber, and the mailman, and poor Don Robin (Mom’s most persistent suitor). Carol and I, we were the only ones who knew the truth: Mom hadn’t earned a penny for the family in five years and she hadn’t left her room in four-and-a-half. Carol did Mom’s cooking. She was the younger sibling, and the worst cook, but I was a perfectionist when it came to the culinary arts and Mom didn’t like to be kept waiting. When I cooked, it’d be half past seven and I’d still be perfecting the soup, and soon I’d start to hear pounding from the bedroom above. And screaming. Mom would start shouting at the top of her lungs through the paper-thin walls. “Joshua,” she’d scream. “I’m going to die. Can you hear me? You’re killing me, Joshua.” This was her polite way of saying “I’m hungry” and when she shouted I swear I could smell her black breath making its way down the stairwell and suffocating me where I stood. It wasn’t working, me cooking, so Carol took over. Carol was quick and Mom probably didn’t care much about how the soup tasted anyway. The food tantrums stopped and although I rarely heard Mom’s strange, screeching voice through the walls again, that didn’t stop Carol from venting her frustrations about Mom to me. “Last night. You were off at the dump,” she began one evening. “I was spooning the soup into her mouth, like usual, only she wouldn’t open it.” “Open her mouth?” I said. “Yeah. So I had to open it for her. Her mouth. I had to touch her face, Josh.” “Touch her face...” I repeated. You would not enjoy touching Mom’s face (or any part of her). Unless you were
Don Robin. Don Robin was obsessed with Mom and and would stop by every Tuesday night to invite her out for drinks. We’d been turning him down for four-and-a-half years. He was very persistent.
jjj So I didn’t cook for Mom. I didn’t clean for her, either. I didn’t switch the light on for her in the morning or cut her hair when it grew too long. That was all Carol. Neither of us did the “bathroom duties”: we’d fixed it up automatic three years ago after a certain incident. We didn’t wash Mom anymore, because washing her was a nightmare, full of “You’re going to kill me!” and “Joshua! Joshua! Don’t do it! Don’t do it!” That was her polite way of saying “I hate baths.” No, when it came to Mom I only had one job: the nails. Carol couldn’t do it. It was the only thing she refused to do. Mom’s nails were awful. We weren’t sure why. My theory went like this: we fed her a good, healthy three meals a day. All the food groups, all the good nutrients. She was well-fed. But she didn’t do anything. She didn’t go anywhere. She just laid in her bed all day, in that tiny room. And all that energy had nowhere to go. Nowhere to go but the nails. Mom had twenty nails. Ten of them were on the hands and the other ten were on the feet. Each and every one of them was thick, bright pink, and hard as a rock. And I swear to you: if you stuck Mom’s big toe and a garden slug at the same starting line, the nail would win the race. Sitting there, staring at one of Mom’s nails (not advised), you could see it grow. They grew very fast. I quickly abandoned normal clippers. In fact, if you pictured me kneeling down at Mom’s feet with a normal pair of little clippy-clip toenail cutters, I laugh at you. Imagine me, sitting here, writing this, just guffawing at your mental image. No. I used an industrial-grade hacksaw. Dad left his in the basement when he ran off (four-and-a-half years ago). I remember
riding out to Tom’s Tree Farm and cutting our Christmas trees down with that hacksaw. Now every single day I was using it to saw my own mother’s nails off. Mom smelled awful. Her hair was a mess. Her eyes bulged and her teeth were the furthest from white they could possibly be. But the nails were worse. Storage was an issue, too. Sawed-off nails don’t just up and disappear. So every Monday I loaded the old Saturn up with bundles of the stuff. Each bundle was made up of a day’s nails (picture twenty twisted javelins tied up with old rope). I drove down to the dump, parked around back, and got to unloading. Don Robin was a garbage man. He used to work with Dad at the mill, but when it closed he took a job at the dump. I tried my best to avoid him, but sometimes I couldn’t, and he’d spot me. “How’s your ol’ mom doin’, Junior?” he’d say, hands thrust into big jacket pockets. His dark hair would bob above his square jaw when he talked. “You told her, right? That offer I made about drinks? I’ll go anytime she wants. She knows that, right?” “She knows,” I’d say dismissively. A few times, in an attempt to finally put a stop to his constant courting, I would stop unloading, grab a bundle of nails in each hand, and shake them in front of his face. “These are her nails, Don,” I’d say, staring into his eyes. “Her nails!” Not even that stopped him.
jjj It was a strange situation, but we grew pretty comfortable with it. I think. We both knew there was no getting Mom out of her room. You couldn’t reason with her. “You’re killing me, Joshua,” she would say, “You’re trying to kill me.” That was her response to a lot of things. Carol had it rougher than I did. Sometimes I swore she enjoyed taking care of Mom, but other times she would break down completely, on the floor, bawling her eyes out right in
front of our mother. She would skip school, go down to the coffee place off Third Street, and just sit there sipping hot chocolate and eating lemon cake. I’d find her there and try my best to comfort her. “It’s not just Mom,” she told me once on a Monday. “I miss Dad.” “Dad?” I repeated. “I know, I know,” she said, stuffing a forkful of lemon cake into her mouth. “I do, though. Remember when we’d just... pretend everything was still normal? We’d spend the whole day acting like everything was okay and it was four-and-a-half years ago and it made me feel like it was gonna be alright, you know? We should do that again.” “We should,” I said.
jjj Which brings us to the following Tuesday. I was cooking for Carol and I (just like the old days), and the seasoning on the chicken just wasn’t right at all, and it was going to take some time to get it right, and it was getting late. Carol was sitting at the table. “Hmm,” she said. “Dad’s not home yet.” Dad hadn’t been home in four-and-a-half years. But remember, we were pretending. “Wonder what’s keeping him,” I said. Carol pointed at the industrial-grade hacksaw propped up against the bottom step. “Look, he forgot his saw,” she said. “He sure did,” I said. “I wouldn’t worry. They’ve probably got spares down at the mill.” “I’m not worrying,” said Carol. “I’m very happy. Everything is very okay.” Then came the knock at the door. I opened it to find Don Robin, tapping his foot impatiently out on the porch. “Junior!” he said, flinging his arms open and smiling. “Your mom in?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Go ahead. She’s upstairs.” Don’s foot stopped tapping. “Wait, really?” he said. An enormous grin began to dance its way onto his face. “You’re inviting me in? It’s okay? I can come in? She’s upstairs?” And it dawned on me. Caught up in our pretend game, I’d just invited Don Robin into our home for the first time in four and a half years. “Whoa,” I said, scrambling to block the doorway. “Whoa whoa. No, Don. I didn’t mean it.” But Don Robin was already pushing past me, shoving his way inside. I moved to block him. “Don! I forgot! I didn’t mean to say—!” Don clapped his hands on my shoulders. He stared straight into my eyes. “You don’t understand, Junior,” he said. “I have to see her. Your mother is...is the love of my life.” “Why?” I was shouting now. “You saw the nails, didn’t you? The nails!” His grip tightened. “That’s just it, Junior. The nails. Her nails. Those nails mean the world to me.” He took his hands off my shoulders, stood straight up, turned towards the window. He was staring into the distance. “Ever since you first brought those nails to the dump, I...I fell in love with them.” “Fell in love with them,” I repeated. “How can you not?” he shouted, “You saw them, didn’t you? The thickness. The length. That pure tensile strength! Look, Junior,” he turned to me again. “I know my nails. Those nails belong to a healthy woman. A woman who eats her three meals a day. A woman who gets all the right nutrients. Those nails belong to a winner! I love her. I have to see her.” “You’ve seen her, Don! Before the mill closed, you were over here all the time with Dad!” Carol piped up from the kitchen: “You always seemed to kind of hate her back then.”
“That was before!” said Don, “That was before the nails! Please, Junior!” He was on his knees now, hands clasped, begging. “Please! I have to see her.” I looked at Carol. She looked at me. We nodded. We decided. “Let’s go,” I said.
jjj The door to Mom’s room was always closed. You could hear her inside. Shuffling. The bed sheets twisting and flapping. I unlocked the door, slowly, carefully. Don pushed his way in almost immediately, rushed into the room in frantic excitement. Then he stopped in his tracks. There she was: lying in bed like always, eyes rolling this way and that without purpose. Her long black hair was impossibly tangled, sprouting out from her head in all directions, forming a frazzled halo around her face. Her teeth chattered and muttered, and her arms twitched and trembled. And there were the nails. Twenty twisting lines, drawn from the end of each finger and each toe. When her limbs twitched, so did the nails. They moved like a puppet’s strings, dancing around and crossing over one another. Carol and I, we saw Mom every day. It was normal. But Don Robin was heartbroken. “What is the meaning of this?” he stammered, “What does this mean?” He took a step back. His whole body was quivering. “It happened four-and-a-half years ago,” I said. “When the mill closed,” said Carol. “Dad got angry,” I said. “He got really, really ticked off,” said Carol. I remembered the hacksaw, still propped up against the bottom step. “But...why? Why this?” Don said, trying to understand. “She doesn’t do much anymore,” I said. “She doesn’t leave the room. Ever. But she keeps growing.” “Then...the nails,” he said to me. “Junior...the nails...”
I put my hand on his shoulder. “They’re all she’s got left, Don,” I said. We stood there for a while. Each of us staring at Mom in silence. Nobody knew what to say, or what to do. “You’re killing me, Joshua,” muttered Mom. She flung her arms this way and that, flinched away from something unseen. “You’re killing me. Don’t. Please...”
jjj Our routine didn’t change much after that. Mom still stayed in her room. Carol still did the cooking, and the cleaning, and the haircuts. I still did the nails. Only I didn’t take them to the dump.
Weekly Amnesia I wrote a poem last night, but I forgot what it said, Between rolling over left, rolling over right, Exacerbation. masturbation. concentration. 99, breath, 98, breath, 97, breath.... 10 Ways to Help Yourself Sleep at Night. Call your mother. How to sleep. How to stay asleep. How to pretend to be asleep to avoid Confrontation. How to fool your parents into thinking you're Asleep so that you can steal your best friend's Dad's car, sing and dance in a parade, and Let your girlfriend know you want to marry her. 58, breath, 57, breath, 56, breath.... I wrote you a letter last month, but you forgot what I said. I left it in your favorite book between the page that makes you cry, And the page partially erased by those tears. I knew you'd find it there. You were already Having a bad day. I knew I'd find you there. 33, breath, 32, breath, 31, breath....
18 Crazy DIY Tips for Urban Farming. Move out of your father's basement. Buy a tomato. Eat the tomato. Find inspiration to grow more tomatoes and Teach yourself patience in the process. Use all the skills you acquired through years Of sitting in your dark bedroom, playing Harvest Moon On your Nintendo GameCube until your eyes felt dry. 17, breath, 16, breath, 15, breath.... I promised I'd meet you last week, but I forgot who you are. 3, breath, 2, breath ..........zZzZzZz
I Wanna Be a Hero â€” But Not Today // Nicholas Phan
Silver-Tongued Vagabond The night was a night against a bleeding sun and the figure was a man walking the rails all alone matching stride with each sleeper, one by one breathing breaths of the black coal atone. Amidst the coddles and whiskey-laced tears a sonâ€™s silent case would drip honey in hesitant ears but a womanâ€™s forked tongue could cut the bundled attempt and he greeted those words with coffins of contempt. He found living the life of a penitent man required the countenance of a closed and open hand so when the days began dripping silver with two closed fists he ran to hoard his overt wisdom in a rusted no manâ€™s land. On the night of the night against the bleeding sun when this lonely figure claimed a car on the last freight train metallic screams were an invitation for each still silver nun to crowd the box and pierce the pit in a way that keeps men sane. But those dainty darlings silenced his twilight tales casting their faint fingers on what the night made ink trails he followed the trail to where a hunched figure sat, and his smile was greeted by a gnarled hand giving a sack a sickening pat. The shriveled yellow-toothed creature with fish-clouded eyes wore the Socratic coat of dust and a sunken rib vest resting at its side a dripping silver soiled bundled resides where an unknown object occasionally twitches in protest.
The man creased in curiosity watching the silver puddles flicker in dying light and he pondered and he protested before engaging this decaying sight: â€œYour youth has sucked the marrow and hollowed the bones that the wind blows away and what becomes of a man whose ashes are tossed into a faceless decay? But a curiousness has calmed this crumbling and made you sit and stay, a curiosity that binds us tight, an affectionate favor of this faceless night. I have followed these rusted rails to mouths not as wise as mine, not as true as mine open your mouth and speak truth to me, tell me no lies. Show me what you have hidden in bundles and I will show you the wisdom of these lines.â€? With each word that dripped from his mouth its lemon peel grin slowly grew eyes still unfocused flashing like two unholy moons, and it just sat and tapped a taunting rhythm with each pat, pat, pat as the night pulled itself tighter, silence sharpening its sickening tunes. In the night of the night with a bleeding sun gnarled hands crushed the call of closure for curious minds where silver pools dulled in dark corners of the favor he had not won until the ink shrouded its shriveled eyes, lids falling free from their binds.
A shriveled figure catching forty winks granting what his curiosity cried for the silver turned black upon the clotted cloth that was cast upon the floor revealing the shockful sight, the sinful sight of a turgid tongue dripping in the night his recoil of upward fleeting sight was frozen in a fixed waken gaze of unholy white. And the white-eyed shriveled figure just smiled a silent smile against the trainâ€™s rusted wail and cast its fossilized finger on what the night made an ink trail and he followed the trails to where a hunched figure sat, a figure of his own timorous tongueless visage cried mere echoes of a slick sickening pat So on the night of the nights of bleeding suns two hobbled figures walk, one with its head lowly hung and the damp breath coats his neck no matter how far he runs of the shriveled smiling thing holding his tongue.
Notes for the Surrender-Callers Who told you you were naked? I waver. Iâ€™m not certain, I answered the Protestants. No one. I simply exist as such, Always stripped Clean of itchy sweaters, Perpetually 9 degrees too warm Inside. Always is a lie. I once zipped up black lace Cocktail dresses for sipping Occasions, cranberry and grey goose Even Tighter than he gripped Her upper arm to assert All the things he would Be granted. I hate her now for The vertebrae she Relinquished. I would understand It in offering to The gods, but men Do not deserve Those sorts of Wealth.
She trusts in the So-called justice of Iraq and North Korea Though she doesnâ€™t Know it, The tyrants who Claim the divinely Ordained ordering Of suppressing life And inciting execution. I hate them too. Stop calling For her surrender. Place your pistol On the coffee table.
to Savannah St. Augustine
she was made of oceans flowing through streets that could never take her anywhere but home then she left the asphalt for grass paths down to valleys she filled with vastness piled together in words categorized into columns that held countless dreams and camera film memories left out on a sunny day to fade to brown her architectural feats don’t erode or shift the earth instead float the same way ink did from white rectangle canvases piled on a desk fashioned from pizza boxes in one of a thousand apartments she called shells a hermit crab searching on the beach until a tsunami swept her away becoming once and for all oceanic
Oregon // Kira Chatham
KODAK 400-2TMY, roll 7, frame 15, silver gelatin print // Lena Leuci
April was the name given to the time that we as kids played pretending that we would always be kids immortalized in an era when trees were our enemies whom we killed with their own limbs, sticks, when we didnâ€™t have lightsabers but they were lightsabers. Summer was what we stole from the world. Unison in pogo sticks or trampolines or whatever we bounced to in your July, the inferno of memory that almost burned down that tree or the swing set obstacle course, the shortest hurdle we ever had.
Through half-assed holidays and Hallowed heads we carved from pumpkin flesh like Christmas but only every other, a trade of the company I took for granted how youâ€™d hit your head on something, somehow like when you were sledding, snowgliding very differently than you do now. How youâ€™d never wear a fucking shirt to play games while we had two players. You taught me that pain was not beautiful when I found you had given up on April.
Ode to Burnt Matches His spinal column hollow, era equally oblivious to lipsticked women who sculpt themselves into Woolfes and Plaths and claw into their reserves of insanity like arctic wolves savor small white rabbits.
This one generic match cupped in my palm had been struck lit emitting noxious smoke for a manâ€™s cigarettes for two decades. The funny thing, she always preferred it cold afterward.
Ashtray Musings What a beautiful thing, to be burned alive. To feel yourself split open and to spill the contents of your soul on the coffee table next to the tea cup and orange slice.
I. Sitting here with the pigeons is a bland but remedial exercise, how they scatter in disarray like me after an engine fire down off 5th street across from the street vendors Langston Hughes (no relation) worked at one of the carts during some summer in his life, or maybe that wasn’t him, fuck it might have been me. My mother called last night, she’s dead. Maybe it was a dream probably a nightmare about how what I am and who you become doesn’t matter because, because right now I’m just sitting here smoking this fag watching pigeons overrun my bench next to the fern II. This time there is no carousel like what Holden Caulfield thought he saw spinning in the middle of the park and I don’t have a little sister (that I know of) but sometimes I wish I did, or maybe I really just want a daughter
Venus keeps racing Eros down the tracks and winning which isn’t all bad when I think about it most days (at night) but now, today I just wish Eros would win and then offer Venus fare for our ride back to 5th street where I tend to live. III. Lunch break is the hardest break and not only because it’s the only one, but because I sit here killing myself (not with the cigarettes) watching pigeons come and go while I stay. Greeks find an arena to fight within my mind but birds that shit 7 times a day still don’t understand. And that’s fine if I don’t need them but I do need someone even if that’s too heavy for a midday meandering on my daily bench
Chrysaora Quinquecirrne // Madi Pearson
The overzealous fumes of the citrus-scented cleaning product in my Dad’s truck slowly subside as we exit the highway and wind through a tree-lined path to some agedusted, mustard-tinted brick buildings. There’s a courtyard protruding from one of the buildings, but a tall black fence barricades it from the parking lot where we are now stopped. “It looks like a prison,” I say. “You’re going to see some sad things today,” Dad replies. Dad asks a couple women in scrubs standing on a sidewalk where Building 53 is. They point. He says thanks. They say you’re welcome. We drive across the yellow-lined, asphalt parking lot and Dad rolls the truck into a spot. I trail behind Dad through transparent double doors. We pass through a room with white-haired men in wheelchairs watching game shows on flat screen TVs and walls painted jewel tones with light brown bulletin boards and neon flyers tacked onto them. We maneuver down a tiled hallway until we reach a dead end where the hall splits. We turn left, but it doesn’t feel right. As we continue walking I see a cluster of oxygen tanks tightly tucked away in an open utility closet. I believe somewhere in that neglected chamber there is a tank that’s empty and broken. That happens sometimes. Something meant to save a life turns into a useless metal cylinder. Everything breaks eventually. After avid searching, we find Room 109. We open the door and go inside. We enter a glorified box with windows. It’s muggy. It has a TV, a mechanical bed that sinks and rises at the click of a button, a state-of-the-art mini fridge, and its own bathroom jutting out on the side. You can add all the neoncolored gravel and cute plastic castles you want, but the fish is still trapped inside a glass cage.
A man is lying on the mechanical bed, although he’s probably in good enough spirits to ride a mechanical bull. “Hi Bobby! Hi Rachel!” he exclaims. Uncle Jerry looks thin. When he smiles you can see his bottom front teeth are missing and his remaining teeth are splashed with an ashy saffron from decades of smoking. His beard is scruffy like a patch of white fur on an aging black dog. His once dark hair is withering to gray prickles on his scalp. But he’s still rapturous. Well, for now he is. “Did you hear, Bobby? I’m radioactive,” Uncle Jerry tells Dad with a smile. I smile back. Dad rolls his eyes with a subtle smirk and turns on the air conditioning. For a moment I’m convinced Uncle Jerry’s cells aren’t cancerous, just overzealous, like the overpowering citrus chemical in Dad’s truck. We sit for a little bit and talk. “I got a present for you,” Uncle Jerry says, turning to me. He hands me a copper Canadian coin with a beautiful woman encrusted on the front. I put it in the front pocket of my Vera Bradley purse. I know this must be the only sunken treasure he could excavate and I accept it graciously. Uncle Jerry asks me the usual mantra of questions all relatives are supposed to ask. How old am I now? Where am I going to college? When’s move-in day? What do I want to major in? He also keeps trying to offer me snacks. I think it’s his way of giving me a going-away present. I take a banana he offers me with brown speckles across its peel and put it in my purse, though I don’t want to. Uncle Jerry puts on his furry brown moccasins and a black t-shirt which matches his black jeans. I wonder if he knows it’s 75 degrees out today. We leave the room and go outside because he wants to take a smoke break. We sit in the sun at a concrete table in one of the fenced-in courtyards. If the bricks holding this building together could talk, I wonder if they’d tell stories of sad men polluting their
tumor-filled lungs and relatives prattling on with their filler conversation about weather and the news. Uncle Jerry lights a cigarette and I endure the tar-scented secondhand cloud that drifts across my face. “Do you know what schizophrenia is?” Uncle Jerry asks me. “Yes. We learned about it in AP Psychology,” I tell him, trying to play a little dumb, as if I don’t know what he’s getting at. He nods. Dad tells me to sit next to Uncle Jerry for a photo. I move next to him and smile. Uncle Jerry glances at the camera with a cigarette still dangling from his lips without the slightest grin. Dad takes the picture then shows it to us and Uncle Jerry laughs. I’ll admit, he looks battered and a little silly with the cigarette, but a picture with Uncle Jerry is so rare that it almost makes the awkwardness an aesthetic. We go back inside. Dad asks Uncle Jerry about the clear bracelet on his wrist. It’s a tracking device, in case he runs away, but Dad and I would later agree on the drive home that Uncle Jerry could easily have ripped it off at any point. We both know he has no desire to escape anymore, although sometimes I wish he did. I wish he longed for more than smoke breaks in the fenced-in courtyard. I wish he could have more than foreign coins and old fruit. I peek into some of the other rooms as we go down the hallway once more to Room 109. Decrepit shapes, wrinkled and hidden within withered blankets, rest in dark rooms with open doors. It’s hard to believe decades ago these men might have swayed on undulating warships in pursuit of Japan or trekked through sludgy Vietnamese swamps before they wore their own clear bracelets. Uncle Jerry sits back down on his bed. “Look what my bed can do,” he tells me, making it rise and sink up and down with the button attached to the bed. I laugh. “Are you in pain?” Dad asks. Uncle Jerry shakes his head. He stands up and walks over to
a poster that says at the top What is your pain level? “I’m a one,” he says, pointing to the yellow smiley face on the far left end of the spectrum. It’s pushing 4:30 and I have to be somewhere by 5:00. Dad and I stand up to say goodbye. I walk over to Uncle Jerry’s bed. A hug doesn’t feel right. I give him a fist bump instead. Dad and I leave the room and trek back down the bleak hallway with its tenebrous portals encasing cloudy men with grey spirits. Jefferson Barracks Veterans Mental Health Clinic has its own dancing vines of kelp, rainbow strands of coral, and purified water systems. Three meals a day. Nurses on duty. Televisions everywhere. Vending machines. Air conditioning. But it’s still just a rectangular prism. The memory of Uncle Jerry’s smile warms me, but my thoughts fill with chilled empathy because I get to swim free and he’ll be treading in the tank until his body gets flushed down the toilet and out to the sea.
Balloons are filled with falsified promises and friends who only remain because I have tied coarse ropes around my hands. â€˜Tis me who saves them from ever-changing winds and skies that entice fickle minds to try and reach thickening clouds that strike them â€˜til they trickle down onto broken memories. Is it fair that I am grounded to hold onto you when youâ€™d flee from me without turning your head? It is time to let you go I hope these rope burns heal slow.
My skin is scratching me As if it wants me to shed it, to rip it off, As if it is corrupted and wants me to be pure again. My tongue is anchored in my mouth, I canâ€™t move it, And the words I want to say are trapped Behind the white bars of my teeth. My hand, locked into fists, Are shaking as I try to not scratch, And my eyes are burning like someone Lit a fire on my face. My fists can never hope to rub it out. I see you, cold and still in your coffin, And I can only hope the roses Iâ€™m clutching Can express how much I miss you, Because right now, My body is failing me.
dead // Rachel Graef alive // Rachel Graef
Demon of the East // Nicholas Phan
For My Tomb I like to think That every time I fall to the ground Iâ€™m giving a little bit of myself to the earth; Iâ€™m paying my dues to the dirt. So, when the time comes For me to rent an eternal spot in the ground The earth remembers all the times Iâ€™ve given it skin from my hands, knees, elbows, A little bit of blood, and a whole lot of humility And so the dirt entombs me gently.
Light Pollution Poison my water; Iâ€™ll still guzzle it down. Drip and pour your wastes (Diethylstilbesterol Polyethylene Sertraline hydrochloride) into the rivers and oceans. Sail the five seas of sludge! I donâ€™t mind the five-limbed frogs or the mass suicides of schools of fish. Pollute my air so that my lungs are wheezing. Keep building towering smoke stacks spewing (Carbon monoxide Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Sulphur dioxide) so that I hack until my lungs cough up the air that they dared to breathe. Make it so fresh air must be bottled.
Feel free to poison my food! Give me insecticides and pesticides, (Abamectin-aminomethyl Amorphous silicon dioxide Hexachlorobutadiene) wipe out my fertile fields. Take away all the bugs and birds; make my apples rancid with chemicals. Preserve them until there’s nothing left to preserve. (Monosodium glutamate Aspartame Butylated hydroxyanisole) But, please, don’t poison my night. Make New York dark, Dim the street lamps, Take down the wattage! Make the night, night again. Don’t extend the day And make the sun shine all the time. And please, Please, for the sake of all things human, For the sake of all who dream, Please, do not take away the stars.
will work 4 40 dollars hire me to scrawl a bit of smart graffiti more honest soul-ore brought up from the carbon caves loving care put forth to maintain bedrock stability moronest bits of shit I found groping around drunk in the dark trying to remember if thereâ€™s leftovers
Hidden Affliction A hug is an iron maiden, A clap on the shoulder is a mortar shell, A handshake is bamboo shoots up my fingers. Thank you for your kind gestures, The trick is not to flinch. There’s no doctor’s note for “It’s a bad day.” There’s no cast to sign; They can’t see what’s happening. There’s no physical sign Of my exhaustion from simply living, Of keeping my head up. No scars from this. Everything is so much effort: Standing is a struggle, Breathing is bench pressing the car That’s crushing my ribs, Walking is shattering my bones, My hands won’t stop shaking. “But you don’t look sick” But it’s not that kind of sick.
That Time I Looked at Pi Kapp and had an Existential Crisis and here we are doing the same things with the same people and the old lines on our hands to smear our sameness across each otherâ€™s faces, whiteout and beige, panting in between lines of big aches and half grasped dreams that smell faintly like dusty floorboards that still creak in your delusions. here we are in our small world stuck in our big perception of what Truth is, capital T bumbling, bumbling. hand over fist over foot over head over heels falling blindly into the patterns bricklaying our own colonial style graves same . spitting into the winds, into the vapor i cannot sew my dreams anymore open fist, half smile of forgetting why it mattered in the first place
Porzana carolina // Anna Burland
My friends and I drove down to Florida last summer with three main goals in mind: to visit Disney World, go to the beach, and drink as much as our twenty-year-old livers could handle. We expected sunstroke and crowds; we were ready for old people and Mickey Mouse. We welcomed the idea of toll roads and expensive souvenirs and were even looking forward to the sixteen hour drive to Orlando. It was the first time anybody had been on a real road trip, and we were prepared for adventure with at least two gallons of cheap lemon vodka in the trunk of our borrowed Ford Escape. We’d been driving for eleven hours since leaving Missouri, switching seats at every restroom break. The four of us had been on the road since five in the morning and the excitement of a new adventure was starting to lose its gleam. We were all exhausted. The same three Top 40 songs had been playing on the radio and the car seemed dirty and claustrophobic instead of a symbol of freedom. Mounds of fast food wrappers and empty energy drink cans littered the floor, and our muscles ached from hours of sitting. There was no air conditioning, and the stifling Mississippi summer was making everyone sleepy. I was squeezed in the backseat, wishing I could stretch my legs and that I’d taken the offered bathroom break thirty minutes before. In front, Christine sat in the passenger side, her bare feet propped on the dashboard. We had been recording our adventures thus far via her iPod Touch and she was idly flipping through the photos. She and I were really the only ones aware; next to me, Erin had fallen asleep, her head sagging forward, her mouth open. Jesse, the driver, was concentrating on the road and peering through the cracked windshield of the car. Everything was silent except for the radio, playing Sam Smith softly in the background. We didn’t notice the guy in the small brown car pulling up next to us until it was too late. Something caught my
eye and I looked over—and there he was, unclothed and unashamed, staring into our car. A mound of flesh, his bare stomach was flapping at seventy-eight miles an hour. He was at least forty-five and balding, his scalp shining through dirty blond hair. There was no remorse as he peered in our open windows, grinning proudly. As we locked eyes, he honked twice and pointed downwards. One hand was on the steering wheel, while the other was further south, masturbating furiously on I-55. I screamed. “What?” Christine turned to look at me, her sunglasses concealing the confused expression on her face. Slowly, I pointed out the window, and she too got an eyeful of the guy’s anatomy. Now we were both screaming, startling Jesse so much she almost ran us off the side of the road. “Oh my god, he’s uncircumcised,” Christine moaned, as if that was the main concern. “Oh my god. Oh, shit. That is disgusting.” “Get his license plate number!” Jesse, still driving, was trying to keep a cool head as the vodka bottles clinked frantically behind us. “We can report him! Get his number!” That was a good plan, but the man was an expert. As soon as I tried to write down his license plate number, he’d taken an exit ramp, in and out of our lives in ten brutal seconds. That guy made sure his erect penis would be etched forever in our memory. We were now suspicious of small brown vehicles, balding men, and Mississippi highways. Our lives were changed in ten seconds flat thanks to a man with a textbook case of exhibitionism. “What kind of person does that?” Erin had missed the entire spectacle, but was as shocked as the rest of us. “Who thinks that’s a good idea?” She raised a good question. Who does do that? Who wakes up in the morning and decides to drive naked on a national highway? I imagined our man waking up, stretching, brushing his teeth. Looking at himself in the mirror and thinking, “Yep, today’s the day. I’m going to jerk off in front of as many people as possible.” We must not have been the first audience he’d scarred for life. The guy was a professional. He’d known exactly the right
timespan in order to grab our attention, shock us, and then speed away without us catching his license plate. This man had practiced, which, to me, was even more concerning. Why did he think it was a good idea to expose his genitals to the world? Some people have fairly low standards when it comes to males, but I doubted even desperate women would have taken the bait. We were four twenty-year-old girls with bikinis stuffed in our suitcases. What did this guy expect to happen? For us to follow him off the freeway? And where exactly did this man come from, anyway? He must have had parents at one point; he might have even had a kid. Maybe exposing yourself in cars was a rite of passage, something everybody in the family did when they hit a certain age. Maybe his great-great-great-grandfather jerked off in horse-drawn carriages, staring at unsuspecting young ladies in steel corsets and petticoats, starting a long line of traditional masturbation. I imagined this man’s father taking him out to the back of their trailer home and showing him the ropes. “And, my son, this is how we stare into car windows. That’s right! Eyes bulging, teeth bared. And remember to keep an eye on the road at all times, because traffic safety is important!” We continued to drive along the highway. I was silent, staring into my hands, refusing to look out the window in case there was a tag-team of creeps. Christine was half-laughing, half crying; Jesse was laughing so hard we drifted to the center line a couple of times and almost got rear-ended. Erin grabbed the iPod and began recording a reaction video to the trauma we’d just witnessed. Though we were well-versed in the art of mixed drinks and early morning hangovers, it was the first time most of us had ever seen a real-life, honest-to-God penis. Nobody had expected to see one alongside a road towards Jackson, Mississippi, and the circumstances weren’t exactly ideal. A fat dude with a bald spot wasn’t anybody’s idea of a good first penis. “Hey Christine,” said Erin. “Look into the camera and tell us what just happened for the viewers back home.” As Christine groaned and then began explaining the situation, I imagined the guy again, pulled off on the side of the road in
backwoods Mississippi, congratulating himself on a job well done. Maybe he’d thrown his shirt and pants over the backseat when he saw us and was now just retrieving them, pulling them on as subtly as possible in case a police car drove by. He was probably listening to the same radio station as us, enjoying the new Taylor Swift song and thinking about what he was going to make for dinner. I hoped it was something healthy; the guy had a gut, and probably bad cholesterol. If he wanted to continue his masturbating career in the future, he’d better eat less red meat. He certainly seemed to have enough self-esteem, though. As I thought about it, I was almost envious of him. It takes guts to go full-frontal at 3:30 in the afternoon. I can barely get through speaking in public, but this guy seemed to have complete confidence. I mean, talk about putting yourself out there! He was unashamed of his huge stomach and thinning hair; he didn’t care about his ugly brown car and the horrified expressions on our faces. This guy was proud of who he was. Maybe, I thought, as Christine hysterically described the size, shape, and color of the offending genitals, he exposed himself as a way to express his belief in his self-worth and to boost his ego. Maybe the guy just needed a little public masturbation in order to make himself feel worthy of love and capable of accomplishing goals. He certainly was good at multitasking. Or maybe, I decided, he was just a creep who drove and touched himself at the same time. “I can’t believe this happened,” Jesse said, in-between laughs. The foggy mood that had been crippling our group minutes before had lifted, replaced instead with a feeling of triumph. The man had touched both himself and, inadvertently, our lives. The four of us weren’t college sophomores anymore; now we were women, literally exposed to the darker side of humanity on a Mississippi freeway. We didn’t know what the rest of our road trip, Disney World, or even our lives would entail, but we knew we could survive. Even if the road to Florida was paved with penises, we were ready for each and every one.
1. boy meets woodchuck and wonders whether it’s worth going to the dance at all. 2. girl finds a way through to her father; drills crack swiftly through skulls. 3. a trip to the local bar turns into a heist; bartender smuggling moon rocks. 4. woodchuck finds himself driving a stick shift; stalling. 5. on the run, girl wishes blood would wash out faster from her hands. 6. moon rocks fly farther than earth stones.
7. crack in the windshield; woodchuck swerves. 8. girl trips over the feet of a running man; whispers of scotch. 9. pile of rubble pile of ash. 10. boy reads elegy to the forest. 11. girl finds her calling; prison librarian. 12. bartender serves margaritas to drunk college girls; again.
Pentax Sketch // Lena Leuci
For You: One More Time // Nicholas Phan
candles, flickering as dying light bulbs, lit the room casting shadows on plates, words, soothing as slaps on sunburns, told the story, wax, melting as forgotten sand castles, dripped on the table marking the cloth, words, grating as radio white noise, told the story, clock, clicking as harsh heels on tiles kept a rhythm, moving time forward, words, stabbing as bent sewing needles, told the story. tears, flowing as leaking kitchen sinks, blurred the scene, words, comforting as itchy new sweaters, told the story.
Spider Corpses Cool sweat-soaked, I woke nostalgically nauseous toward a nightmare of a monster who preyed violently on lovely young men, and in the clearing of dream-induced haze, recognized its eight-legged miniature doppelgĂ¤nger just inches from the foot of my bed. I murdered it myself, the killer of the few good men, under sole of navy running shoes which seldom run. You called me on the fourth day following Halloween, characteristically the only one to never understand me at my core (or so I must tell myself) but to know viscerally (as my mother does) when my core is not my core but a spiderâ€™s corpse.
So tonight I will press up against the slick bar of this poor and poorly-oxygenated college town, smile, buzzed at the especially handsome bartender, order a french martini (which heâ€™ll not have a clue how to make), simultaneously resolve to publish the collection of poems accumulated in honor of brilliant, alcoholic narcissists, the memorialized exorcism of your demons, and my evolution from the spider who massacred men into the the dark blue hollow of a sneakerâ€™s underside.
Every morning, the cold light assaulted me. I hated waking, I hated to leave the hold of my bed, softness of cover, and most of all I hated the mirror. It looked at me, cold, a slice of silver. A face that wasn't mine, not quite, looked back. I spent time with my fat, the fat on my back, how the fat of my thighs assaulted me, how my fat fingers hid under silver polish. It was brutal, painful to leave and step before the smooth, still mirror of my sistersâ€™ faces, which could not be covered. My young sisters, who left with no cover of makeup, not yet, who each day came back to breakfast with confidence, who held mirrors like looking glasses or telescopes, not assaulting them with bitterness, not trying to leave their skins like the peel of a fruit, a silver locket opened to a new image. There was no silver for my sisters. Their inherent beauty covered them and they wore it like a crown in gold leaf, they held themselves straight, their backs thin yet rigid, untouched though assaulted by the magazine women, and the mirrors
that said no no no. Sometimes I’m their best mirror. I stand there and point and there’s no silver lining, just fat on fat, fat assaulting fat, fat a smooth and dimpled cover and I don’t mean to but I say look back, look back, don’t you want these flaws to leave you? Someday they’ll learn to say yes. To leave the house in plain colors, to avoid mirrors, and slowly, like question marks their backs will slump, and there will be no gold, or silver, just the quiet shame which hangs and covers them, two beautiful sisters assaulted by me. But come back. It’s breakfast. Don’t leave until you’ve had a salted egg, until you’ve used the mirror, scanned its silver face, firmly pinned your cover.
The warm promise of summer was moist breath On your ink-decorated shoulder, Grabbing you with exhilarant hands, Whistling you down, you come, Losing you in the glimpsed forest Sliptering through the dappled light of the quad. There, standing spiritually on the cusp of your jadedness Led you to welcome these summer hormones, playing tag inside your body in never-ending sprints, As you hid, peering â€˜round tree trunks, Laughing hide-and-seek with the careless creatures of summer (Who returned you crumpled to an ashen autumn, bewildered, lost, more innocent than they had found you). Those days, the fading promise of summer, come again. It is a season of one last moist breath.
Frankie // Rachel Graef
Untouched // Brenden Harrison
The Logic of Sleep I lie in bed for hours but sleep just runs away. She fears my thoughtful presence she sees my worried way. She knows my dreams are wild she wishes she could stay. But she's scared of what might happen when I grab hold and drift away.
Little White Spider There is a little white spider on my desk lamp. When the morning sun penetrates the window He shines like a button in a box Except he enjoys scooting up And down the web Attached to I don’t know where I try to see through his body, To the lunch he had yesterday But he’s too small and he thinks me rude for asking He’s a bungie jumper, adrenaline junkie, daredevil Wild child, and his mother worries The threads disguise themselves as air To hide their shyness from me And because the little white spider Poses mid-plummet for the paparazzi, little desktop pimple. I won’t tell him my camera battery is dead, no replacements, Or that his legs are uneven. Maybe he knows and doesn’t care. The bent kneecaps seem to work just fine, either way A little bit of hover, a little bit of spring, a little bit of scutter Traffic laws don’t apply When you’re the only one around.
love my grandfather says is not about the stars but looking into each otherâ€™s eyes what if i say their eyes are stars then never look down he whispers more to himself than to me
Sobering Happiness Sobering happiness breaks the sharp sweat from my father’s brow as he grips the porcelain round, squeezing every ounce of relief from it. Intermittent drastic reductions of himself; the mirror only projecting part of the drunken story, the other half only noticeable under the long-sleeved 5th grade uniform of my younger self. Sobering happiness intrudes on my suburban soliloquy as men in blue empty orange bottles full of my late father’s vitamins; he won’t need them now as I hold my mother’s hand.
Two doors shut and we speed away; the lights flash and decibels blare but I am deaf to the sound, ears still ringing, head pounding. My mother looks at me as I stare at her third finger, wishing, urging her to shed the little weight that bound us all together.
Mother Bear // Isabelle Woollett
Eavesdropping // Josiah Rosell
They sent the Huntsman to cut out her heart, but she didn’t have one. When the cheap, consensual justice of the guillotine came down, and the queen with lips as red as blood died, the victorious populace burned her ruined bodice and divided the spoils, tore out the wrought iron fences and claimed her lavish palace for themselves, slipped jewels from her vanity with hands liver-spotted with ash and drying blood. But the cold steel of her glittering comb burned those eager fingers, so they left it where it was, a monument to Revolution. The bright red apples at her bedside they fed to all the kingdom, but the cobbler was dry and bitter as Truth. The silvery mirror on her chamber wall they tried to break, and sold it when they failed. In a third-hand store behind a dusty guillotine it remains, hidden under thick cloth because the new magistrates and ministers don’t want to see themselves reflected where desperate Snow had every day to look— making herself heartless and the fairest in the land— that she might bear her own reflection in my glass.
airports thereâ€™s a sort of loneliness that only happens in the months of spring
mother once told me myszka not everyone has a war going on inside of them
Rhythm and Blues Come away with me to the Beats with loud voices, Strong hands over stretched skin. Cowrie shells strung over gourds, Saying “Come home” Saying “There is war” Saying anything to all those who could hear. Come away with me to stomps and claps When the Drums were taken away When we moaned and groaned over strange waters to even stranger lands To the birth of blues, of jazz, of salsa, of rap, of funk, of soul. Of Souls forever sold. Come away with me to reunion to the silent voices of the dead Drums Beating still, Beating still A frenzy of our voices and our movements in time with eager thrumming. Personal unconscious response When the Drum speaks Incomprehensible to inferior Reason. Something we alone can feel. Feeling another body moving in time with the Beat, Azonto, Shoki, Etighi, Awilo, Makossa, Galala, Alanta, Alingo Finding another Soul.
Who Walks the Stairs Without a Care? Slinkys were made to poke fun at Satan. When the outspoken angel called heresy on God he was thrown out like an old toy, limbs stolen from his form. he coiled for warmth in the coolness of the Lord’s temperament. The Holy Trinity Philharmonic Orchestra and Led Zeppelin played one night only on my parents’ stairwell. Evil is a child’s plaything. At the foot of the stairs, in my concrete basement decorated in dampness I scooped up my Slinky and scrambled upstairs. Above the ADT Security alarm panel, Jesus could not meet my eyes. That, or on this Crucifix, he was already dead. The next morning, Mother asked where plastic Jesus had gone. I had left Him and my Slinky in my dollhouse to talk it out.
Sara Murillo // Feeding the Forgotten
We end like we begin: Helpless and in need. Counting on others to take us in. Wilting flower and fresh seed. Helpless and in need, First we crawl and then we walk. Wilting flowers and fresh seed, We babble and then we talk. First we crawl and then we walk Until we have to walk with aid. We babble and then we talk Until our memories start to fade. Until we have to walk with aid We grow and bloom and thrive. Until our memories start to fade We make them ours and feel alive. We grow and bloom and thrive. Taking the days we have left, We make them ours and feel alive. Ignoring our bodyâ€™s need to rest. Taking the days we have left, Counting on others to take us in. Giving in to our bodyâ€™s need to rest: We end like we begin.
eigengrau We are fading: eigengrau
Sun kisses horizon. Cold bed sheets creep up pale skin Hair washed in ash and soot. Gaps between flashing lights. Spider webbed cement sidewalks. We have become our parentsâ€™ television: mute, monochromatic static. Antique plates placed in dust covered cabinets. Morse code quietly pulsing in veins. Dog-eared memories hidden on shelves. Rusted metal hinges. Smeared graphite on paper. Our oil runs thin, we flicker. eigengrau
Colophon Windfall was founded in the fall of 1976 by students and faculty. The magazine contains the creative works of Truman State University students. All submissions are judged by a blind jury of students and consideration is given to each work solely based on its artistic merit. This issue of Windfall was designed using Adobe InDesign CS 6. The font used throughout the magazineâ€™s body text is size 11 Optima and the font used for the titles is size 14 Chaparral Pro Bold. Six hundred copies were printed by the Missourian Publishing Company in Washington, MO. Windfall is funded by the Division of Language and Literature at Truman State University and the FAC. Any queries or request for copies of Windfall may be sent to: 100 E. Normal SUB CSI Mailbox Kirksville, MO 63501 or firstname.lastname@example.org Please visit our website at windfall.truman.edu.
The 2016 edition of Truman State University's student journal of poetry, prose, and art.