Tulane Review Summer 2011
tulanesummer review 2011
Summer 2011 1
The Tulane Review Summer 2011
EDITOR in CHIEF Nathan Seltzer POETRY EDITOR Abi Pollokoff PROSE EDITOR Stacy Krost
ART EDITOR ZoĂŠ Belden
DESIGN EDITOR Gavin Newman PRESIDENT Anessa Keifer
READERS Adrienne Barnabee, Jessica Bernard,
Samantha Brown, Dean Burman,
Jason Ervin, Mike Giangrasso, Brian Kuennemeier, Lauren Maccarone,
Elizabeth Mardiks, Robert Metts, Emily Neal, Micaleah Newman, Daniela Riofrio, Charlie Sklare, Cutter Uhlhorn Cover Art: Mardi Gras Surface Design, Kathleen Hillery The Tulane Review is a literary and art journal published by the Tulane Literary Society twice a year. Submissions are judged by review boards in an anonymous selection process and final choices are made by the editors. For submission information, consult the submission guidelines on the last page or visit review.tulane.edu. Funding for the Tulane Review comes from the Undergraduate Student Government and the Tulane Literary Society. The works published in the Tulane Review represent the views of the individual artists and are not the expressed views of the Tulane Literary Society, Tulane University, or its Board of Administrators. Copyright ÂŠ 2011 by the Tulane Literary Society. The Tulane Literary Society reserves the right to reprint the journal in part or in its entirety for publicity on the web and in print. All other rights revert to the author or artist at the time of publication. The Tulane Review acquires first American serial rights.
Acquiring Mythology John A. Nieves
Earthquake Taylor Graham
Menagerie Melissa Finkelstein
10 Fireplace Amanda Hempel 11 In Kreuzberg Regina DiPerna 12 Submerged Kevin Hinkle 13 Lovecraftian Charles Bondhus 15 Blooming Now Joannie K. Stangeland 16 Round and Round Up Christopher Woods 17 The Blue Clint Sabom 18 the ghosts of winter Zach Yanowitz 20 Gianicolo Melissa Finkelstein 21 Bread from the bakery Vera Schwarcz 22 Exodus Laughing Anthony Frame 25 Mardi Gras Surface Design Kathleen Hillery 26 Birdâ€™s Eye View of a
Grain of Sand Edward Oâ€™Casey
28 Spilt Popcorn Christopher Barnes 29 Float Flowers Surface Design Kathleen Hillery 30 Apparent Magnitude Nathan E. White
33 On Beauty Regina DiPerna 36 Gentilly Malcolm Willison 37 Trackside Turn Christopher Woods 38 early stages of art fury Guy R. Beining 40 At Our Luncheon Elizabeth Allen-Cannon 41 To a Friend at 65, Getting a Divorce
and a New Hip Daniel A. Harris
42 Geronimoâ€™s Watermelons Chris Haven 46 Green against a Red
Morning Sky Mary Bourke
Acquiring Mythology John A. Nieves
A red-handled ball-peen hammer leans against a faux-wood baseboard surrounded by glass shards and ash-grey carpet, basks in the chatter of mid-afternoon television, adjusts to the change in temperature, reminisces about its mode of entry, becomes not just the hammer but the hammer that came through the window, graduates from tool to tale.
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Earthquake Taylor Graham
The old dog is a broken wagon, a faded quilt. I run my fingers through her dust and worn-out dog-hair. On the TV news, percussion, buildings fracturing across the ocean. The needle shakes along the graph, a vibraphone. Smell of burnt toast from the kitchen. If the hind legs fail, the front must go forward on their own. Remember how she chewed out of her crate in cargo, trying to find you – she’d claw herself up through the cabin floor. She’d crawl into the tightest trap-space in an earthquaked building, searching for a body alive. Last night in the dark she sailed around the house. Asleep now, falling into the void, and beyond the breakup of the world.
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Melissa Finkelstein Summer 2011 9
Some rare nights were too cold to open the flue. I hated fires, the smoke curling into the house, building nests in my hair. If I ever prayed, it was for the temperature to plummet, the asphalt to freeze and crack, for arthritic hands to writhe in laps, and the fireplace to lie gaping and silent like the mouth of a dead dragon.
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In Kreuzberg Regina DiPerna
He lived alone, a block diagonal from the Siemens factory that clanged and gutted trains even in the dark. He opened the kitchen window so we could watch industrial metal â€”solitary, functionlessâ€” glide down conveyor belts. He smeared chocolate and raspberry jam on stiff brownrolls. He drank coffee from improbably large mugs. I knew he liked the sharp morning air to move while he looked at me. I knew he went with boys until he peeled back the shower curtain and kissed me. I knew what he whispered into my wet shoulder blade was German for gypsy, or thief. His ridged torso was a box filled with hazelnuts, a map, a screenplate. He closed the kitchen window the next morning and I stopped asking what we were looking at. He sat me at the breakfast table and pushed up my skirt. Said, Look at me when I come. He told me to send photographs of my breasts from America. I left hair pins in the soapdish intentionally. I stole his umbrella and a book of matches with nude girls on the front, left while he slept beneath the gray coverlet. Look at me. What did he tether to my thin ankles? What rivets did he fasten to his kitchen floor? Summer 2011 11
Submerged Kevin Hinkle
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Lovecraftian Charles Bondhus
Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep. -H.P. Lovecraft In the pulps, nonlinear masses of salt-stung jelly rising from black ocean, turbid foam. Roars driving men mad, yellow glances that could fill worlds with a dread that shatters. The elder gods; breathing fossils beneath placid pavement; nothing more loathsome than the never-known which demands a name. Here though, a subtler beast, amber-solid and brackish tissue worn like surgical gauze, thriving on blood’s warm wash— a jarred mosquito knocking in the joints. What unfolds these membrane wings, slackens limbs rigid with inertia, stirs thorn-like hairs on armored appendages discreetly as love’s breath upon the sleeper’s face? Summer 2011 13
Detected passionâ€” the sucrose which tugs carmine scuttlers through the bodyâ€™s stew chasing down human heartbeats, crackles of clenched muscle, blood rhythm, a language mimicking the old tongue. Even in the dark, these deities are red as our patrimony of desire showing only as heat beneath skin.
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Joannie Kervran Stangeland
Water streams from the tap, frigid flowing to hot, a comfort and then a burn. I learn to pull my hands from the gush, save my palms just in time. Out front, hydrangeas fade— the earth’s acids no longer sustain the twilight shades of lilac, lavender. Alder leaves drift, a dry snow. After walking below the bare nests, black wings crossing the sky, I shiver in the shower, feel my purple fingers redden. Steam fogs the mirror. Under the streaming, my shoulder blades blush where my own dark wings would grow if you could see my heart without trying to steal it. I’ve left the cold and the crows outside. I’ve written on the misted windows. Come home and inhabit my body. Give myself back to myself.
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Round and Round Up Christopher Woods
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1. As an infant, my mom gave me a shot that atrophied my nervous system. My dad, trying to help, waited, and when I arose to finally walk again, he cracked my rib cage. 2. And then the blue, streams of it. I donâ€™t know what it was - a window, something better than peace, an ointment I donâ€™t know, but it found me, and I was clean enough to continue. 3. Thirteen years spent touring the psychic ghettos of America passed like a very long hour. And then the moment again. I lit some incense and began to unpack.
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the ghosts of winter Zach Yanowitz
truckee, california sits astride the border of nevada and in 1846 they starved and went insane, trapped shaking in its frigid grip. in may we drove through but all that happened was a state trooper confiscated some pears weâ€™d had in our cooler since massachusetts. it was pretty, all bone-thin pines and placid blue. franklin graves stumbled through the blizzard with his raw feet strapped to oxhide, pushing snow-blind into the beaming heart of the storm, his wife and nine children left haggard back at camp. we shivered and hummed, some bitter fingertips running down the length of our spines. we shook it off, turned up the music, and drove down into the valley.
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franklin graves died in the frost and they ate the flesh right off his bones on the hard-packed earth beneath our tires, but what i remember best was the brutal juncture of mountain and sky as the sierra nevadas loomed before us, like the horizon had been torn apart from within to splash stark and incandescent on the clouds.
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Bread from the bakery Vera Schwarcz
Bitachon, a worn Hebrew’s word, an invitation to try growing roots up, fearless of rain and drought... A woman with bitachon moves slowly, as if she never heard my mother’s warning: “A real lady never rushes, never pays.” I rushed, paid my way; keys, baby bottle, bag between every two fingers of my hand; always aiming to do three, five things at once. Much later, a Talmud tale refutes mother’s yarns, it weaves three layers of fear, curses in effect:
do not buy wheat in the market place; avoid hard cash for flour; woe to you when bread comes from the bakery.
Why the last was the worst fate baffles until I see how leaving the soil seeds amnesia and arrogance—
Who make the wheat seed grow? Who gives me strength to grind the flour? Who kneads bread through these fingers?
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Exodus Laughing Anthony Frame
Chloe, my first crush a grunge chick who hated the word chick. Quiet in class, she talked to me, the weak boy in glasses who always sat next to her our blind faith in seating charts and last names both of us doodling as the teacher droned about something, about god, about forty days and forty nights, an archaic desert with stars bright enough to be maps. We might have been too young but we had our own stars and we drew their portraits their long hair, their pierced eyebrows, their tattoos we thought we were smart enough to read we drew them in our Bibles, next to our graffiti of headphones and stick-guitars, because nothing was serious when stacked against our angst. Chloe thought herself too dangerous to date me a sphinx when you need a siren so she dated the quarterback and dumped him after a week so she could hold his heart in front of the class and say, See, he’s human, too. I didn’t know she’d started cutting herself our secrets easily hidden beneath the blues and whites of Catholic school uniforms but I held her drunk phone calls throughout seventh grade, telling me her life would be easier if her mother had never left for California 22 Tulane Review
easier if I was gay so she could explain why she had to skinny dip in the river, why she kept dreaming of yellow moons, why she wrote, A song is not a soul, in my yearbook. We should have been able to drive, give this sickness motion and music, a car stereo blasting the clouds and smog with power chords we should have followed the streetlights until the asphalt turned to dirt, sharing our stained bodies with the dust and ghosts that own this country, the moon and raccoons as our silent jury. Smoking the stolen cigarettes of our fathers. Remembering the Nirvana concert where Kurt Cobain spit on us how Tori Amos spread her legs on stage while singing “Me and a Gun” but the piano couldn’t cover the nakedness beneath her skirt, couldn’t cover the blush we hadn’t painted on our faces. On her twenty-fifth birthday, she emailed me the lyrics to “All Apologies” with a note: I’m in recovery. Step 9. Chloe, I’m still in the gymnasium, at the school dance,
slamming with Bill our heads rattling, our chests fighting the will of consciousness
watching you out of the corner of my eye, your leather pants and half-a-halo hat, your hair dyed red with Kool-Aid because nothing was sacred, not even Kurt’s look. I’m waiting for us to be the only ones slow dancing during Pearl Jam’s “Once.” Summer 2011 23
But I gave up on you, then and now, these stereo lives without headphones. I donâ€™t know who to blame. Kurt dead in his greenhouse garage. Your lost mother, your father drunk at the gymnasium door.
Me silently watching you push your way through the crowd, the stillness of the streetlights outside guiding us nowhere, the mosh of kids refusing to part.
The distortion of your laugh, the wink you offered me as a searchlight, the tongue ring you flashed at the principal as you left. Your eyeliner so thick it was impossible to cry.
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Mardi Gras Surface Design Kathleen Hillery
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Bird’s Eye View of a Grain of Sand Edward O’Casey
Learning to look both ways and eyeing single mothers while smoothing my apron in the meat market; each cut measured to the ounce and packaged with the warning, You’ll eat all of this, or no dessert! I’ve spent months on my knees waiting to vomit, and checking to be sure I still understand that the difference between tequila, low blood pressure, workplace stress, and the merry-go-round is loneliness. I wonder which Saturday morning cartoons I would miss if I had to spend a night in jail—they don’t have heaping bowls of Frosted Flakes in County, nor the free time to concentrate: Don’t spill. I’ve dropped soup at a thousand tables with a courteous smile that means give me your cash and leave me the hell alone. I hope everyone learns to like me. — I keep my head down, move from cover to cover—a dumpster, the burnt-out wreck of a sedan—drop whatever moves, but conserve your ammo—and when the mission ends, I’ll step out of the tub and into my footie pajamas, and lay down in the casket, hands folded over my sternum. The whole family was there, shocked at my not breathing, until the funeral director smacked my ass and I started to screech. 26 Tulane Review
â€” My antiquated joints flex and pop after I spin myself almost sick on the playground; Iâ€™m the old man in the nightmare story who loses a hand in the gears, and runs home to find his mother.
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Spilt Popcorn Christopher Barnes
Spools frizzle on footlights Groping to suck The Terror back As it wasp-rides the pit. Near a paint-melt zigzag The ticket booth’s a bonfire. Our usherette’s been cold custard To blood-shiver movies All with “Scream!” On ink-panicked billboards. Until now…
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Float Flowers Surface Design Kathleen Hillery
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Apparent Magnitude Nathan E. White
After You, Mother First thought somehow the flash forced your eyes: those central apertures enlarged so that the iris seemed overwhelmed— edged out by twin spheres growing colorless and parallel. Which eyes are these, opposing light? Like anyone, you had your reasons, starting off with glare, to yourself saying I will not be this way—no, not this way. Back once to a narrow hallway almost too narrow for portraits of each aunt and uncle maternal to me. Aligned with the superlative: young, captive, their faces could afford brightness. And one at last I had to ask, “Who is that?” For twenty-eight years all I have and ever will, if I am to have you— 30 Tulane Review
What an angle holding your head, as if you were leaning to catch that indefinite note. Collar fastened with a single large button, the thinnest strand of gold crossing low on your neck. And that smile that half of your teeth are showing. Your skin has its marks, yes, blemishes nearly obscured by brightness. That shadow will not leave the side of your face I see first. If I let myself again and again you are sitting and, as I approach, stand. Yet you do not speak as no one else does— not your father, not your mother. No sister. No brother. You will not speak. Which eyes take on light? Yours. Nothing against me. Fair enough. These figures— these forms that I inhabit, scattered like ceremonial rice with too much ease in blessing. Am I to have no one? What am I to you? Instead of nursing school, instead of marriage…my brother, me— your children who are to renounce you. Every face, every height and curve exhibit no more than your portrait Summer 2011 31
and what can I say, I begin the story it wonâ€™t stay, however revised, the threat continues I continue in secret. You were not afraid of light. Sorrow in your eyes turning to chase its own tail, those thin blue irises sharpening, sharpening in time. Those arenâ€™t your eyes anymore. You had your reasons, I know.
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I. Proust says appreciation for another’s body is a form of necrophilia. When the lover is sleeping on the couch, when the lover is checked out of his body, when it can no longer contain him, is when it becomes ripe to touch. The disconnect between a man’s body and the man it contains. I look down at my hands and a mango. II. I lean across the kitchen counter, watch you sleep on your sofa. Can you feel the fruit between us soften and the open magazine become thicker with gloss? III. The magazine is open to an article about the black man who says drunk talk isn’t meant to be printed in the paper. Can you print dream talk on the skin of a mango? On the spine of a feather, the fray of the rope? IV. Your inhales are the color of saltwater, your exhales are the temperature of a bath in damp, brandy-colored air. V. Why the trees rustling on your lawn unnerve me: I am afraid you will wake up and see me steeping summer mango leaves in my mind. Summer 2011 33
VI. There is an errant mango, a grapefruit and two lemons between us. One of us has overturned the fruit bowl. One of us is sleeping. VII. Your cheeks and your eyelashes resting on your cheeks are the smell of your skin and why it clings to your t-shirts and how your lips spread across your teeth and how your fingers curl around mangoes. VIII. When I brush my lips across you, I press my tongue into everything that exists, and everything that was ever beautiful rushes to meet me. I cannot believe there is a body, I cannot believe there is a body. IX. Everything you ever told me about mangoes: roll them before you squeeze them. Juice comes out easier. You need a blade that can slice the thin red skin from north to south. This one could hurt you. X. I spent a hundred nights soaping the wooden stairs that lead to my bedroom, the stairs that extended down the spine of the house like a rope. Or I walked through the snow with no objectives. I donâ€™t know how to write your body. XI. Proust says your body is a fortress where your mind is immured; there are half moons of mango in a blue jar in your refrigerator. 34 Tulane Review
XII. Tomorrow, I will tell you itâ€™s strange how we are so tender with a living thing and when it dies it becomes stuff. For now, I watch you sleep. Your body has become a mango tree. XIII. Why there is something in the universe instead of nothing, the curve of your muscles, the rope laced from your fingers to my waist, your almond brown hair, a mangoâ€” these are all the same things. What you taste when you realize the body is beautiful.
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She neatly folds the laundry to lay out on her bed as wind whistles at her eaves of sixty years. She goes carefully down the stairs to sit one last time at her piano the flood will float beside her.
Olga Northon, 1912-2005 (Times-Picayune, Nov. 7, 2005)
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Trackside Turn Christopher Woods
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early stages of art fury Guy R. Beining
warhol was a box that the public bought. time piled up & was pocketed by a priest that reached for a red head. how many traps are set between mouth & meal? everyone along the street was watching a peddler as he sold gray wires & called them birds. he had quick fingers like a horses dream. the artificial artist was selling bags of dust & was putting together packages of abbreviations. the artistâ€™s bad eye caught a string of mornings as they disappeared past a long equation.
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there are too many narrow lines to play with. the artist gummed up the works with a hand full of gum balls just before the capital splash fell on spoon like knees. warhol walked between aisles of brillo pad boxes & unplugged his american dream. endless moon shots were taken as broken teeth played a part in the program. suddenly hourglass knees shot up & wrenched the artistâ€™s jaw. the theatre slowly emptied out.
what could be less than nude, watching the modelâ€™s head being shaved making a raw, red, mess of the scalp. a projector rested on the bureau. let me offer you some cake with pieces of jewelry in it so you can bite down hard on it which will bring out the serpent in you & you can spit across the ocean of our bed. the paintings had become faint properties. Summer 2011 39
At Our Luncheon Elizabeth Allen-Cannon
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To a Friend at 65, Getting a Divorce and a New Hip Daniel A. Harris
Light as the titanium implant to make at least one part of you study enough to outlast death—that crafted gleaming socket, shaft, and ball— you’ll rise pain-free, unhobbled friend, fit for our hikes again, set to chase a late-life date or else a house-companion trim as that brand-new metal joint you’re procuring—your thigh unscarred by the world’s gross trade in used body parts. But go slow for a few weeks; don’t risk a stumble or a fall (say, near a ditch where, if you’d slumped down from a long march, years back, foxes would have found you, birds plucked clean the bones). We all want you—your mystery lady friend(s), a he, whoever (new parts, new partners), and I, your old buddy, more than acquaintance these twenty years. So please tend to that shaft and ball, guy! couched snug in its socket—and you so hip again (at our age!), primed to swivel as you please, stepping out, finely fettled. Summer 2011 41
Geronimo’s Watermelons Chris Haven
I. Geronimo’s Fire The first time Geronimo died He did not open his mouth to talk or eat He had lost his mother, his wife Alope, His two children at the massacre at Kas-ki-yeh He burned his wife’s decorations He burned his children’s playthings He burned his mother’s tepee He burned his own tepee The smoke rose to the sky like ghosts Geronimo would have his revenge. You cannot be killed by a bullet The medicine man prophesied, Or maybe bequested. But they did their damage, Puckers of skin like eyes on his body, Some large enough to hide a fingertip, Others that seemed to smile. That’s why paratroopers and young boys Mouth Geronimo before a leap, For all the times he rode into the hail Of bullets, scathed, but alive, Ready for one more pass. The medicine man did not mention Drink, automobiles, tuberculosis, Broken hearts, or pneumonia, But Geronimo, no fool, Knew there were many ways to die.
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II. Geronimo’s Coat The second time Geronimo died He gave himself to Fort Sill OK, Far from his Arizona home. There were other surrenders, Each time managing an escape So magic it seemed the trees And the dirt and the air were all Indian, and a white man took a risk With every step on this soil. They said he wore a coat made of scalps— Human hair and tanned, stitched together Like a quilt, the tops of so many heads. They call it a lie now, say he never Took a scalp but the fact remains He could have done it The bodies he’d laid out before him The skulls, the knife, the fire. Even if there was no coat of scalps, Geronimo kept warm. III. Chappo Geronimo The third time Geronimo died, Son Chappo was at Carlisle, The Indian school where Jim Thorpe Would make his name. According to the pictures, Chappo took courses in Getting a haircut and Slicking that hair back and Stuffing yourself into a suit and Looking away from the camera. But it did not take long For tuberculosis to cut him down, Do what five thousand U.S.
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Soldiers could never do. Geronimo asked a medicine man Tell me why my wives and so many Of my children died and the ceremony pointed a finger at Geronimo You did it! You killed them. They died so that you might have life. And Geronimo turned his back on his Indian Gods. IV. Geronimoâ€™s Watermelons The fourth time Geronimo died he had become a watermelon farmer. He rode in their parades, Lawton, Arapaho, Anadarko. He rode on painted ponies and in Model-A Fords. He sold pictures of himself and put the money in a bank. The money meant nothing to him but it had value, so he took it. In the end the answer to the question Is pneumonia, and a fall from a horse, and Whiskey, and Fort Sill. His last wife was supposed to kill His horse, tie his things in a treeâ€” He would return for them in 3 days. But the others held her back. Heâ€™s still looking for a mount. He may come back yet for a raid, Find another racing pony Ride the horse until it gives out 44 Tulane Review
Then cook it and eat it and walk Through Arizona to his birth place. Lay down near the Gila riverâ€” First to the North to the white winter Then to the East, the red land of exile Then to the South, the land of revenge Then to the West, to the homeland. He will invite Teddy Roosevelt Or whoever passes for Teddy now To his home and ask why he did not restore The Apache to the homeland. He will bring him watermelons Larger than human heads. What seed did he put in the dirt That it came out green and round And the middle bloodred? Seeds inside like black teeth So that whosoever would eat that fruit Would have warriors rise up inside. Cochise, Mangus Colorado, Naiche. He will cut it for you with his knife A bowie knife, no doubt, Into large and juicy chunks And you eat it down to the rind Itâ€™s sweet and it runs down your chin And it will taste like scalp And soon one blade, two, more, Will make their way out of your belly and Release the warriors and Geronimo will stand over your body, Eyes looking down at you like blades, Smiles of melon strewn around your head. A good knife is meant to cut.
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Green against a Red Morning Sky Mary Bourke
Bodies poured out from the door, laughing, chatting, purposefully unaware. I followed a pair of blue scrubs up the stairs. They leveled off. I turned to lumber into the hospital’s only cafeteria. The smells seeped slowly into my nose initiating a sharp growl. My stomach was aware of the pending discontent. Interns squeezed around tables while heedless herds attempted to maneuver around others. Shoved into the ebb and flow, I strained to survey the disparate assortment of buffet lines. Greasy metal and smudged glass outlined bland piles of color. Picking a neatly packed wrap, I found a friend and sat down. Mark smirked, his steel blue eyes danced over my obvious agony. Mark had been in the residency program for two years. He had sat where I sat, eager and waiting, unaware of the multiple failures and nightmares of the future. He rotated through every department of the hospital. He read my future as his own and delighted in the shared experience. His eyes gleamed through me. “How are ER rounds?” His amusement increased as the corners of my mouth fell further. “Last night was rough, but this morning hasn’t been horrible.” “How many patients were drunk?” “I’d say more than half, but a few were entertaining. One girl told me her name was opportunity, and went on to spell it for me: O-R-P-U-N.” “In college or a tourist?” “College.” “I wonder if college is still considered “higher education.” I’d assume after learning material then getting obliterated to kill as many neurons as possible, you’d probably be on about the same level as you started.” Working to cover a smile, I rolled my eyes. “You’re half empty.” “Well, one day young grasshopper, I will teach you the ways of cynicism. Anyway, you’ll find out, ER is 80 percent bullshit, but in New Orleans, it’s 90 percent,” laughing he continued. “Don’t worry though, 46 Tulane Review
burn out doesn’t happen till at least 6 months into the residency program. You probably still think a paper cut is critical.” “Hey!” shrinking my eyes to a playful glare. I glanced down at my lunch. The lettuce slopped out of the sand colored wrapping. One bite in, and the wrap started to fall apart. Turkey shreds sunk deeper, while red chunks fell to the plate. The tomatoes coated with orange dressing recalled the vomit from an earlier patient. My appetite gone, I decided to head back to the ER. Back through the starving mob, people barely noticed. Around me individuals chatted and scanned, while others stayed waist deep in thought. The stairs thinned out, and the soft murmur of the hallway was welcome. Sterility settled into the bright cold of the white hallways. On top of plastic shelves, metal trays reflected blurred light upon ceiling panels. At one end of the hall, a bagged-red bin called for attention with bold green letters across the top: “BIOHAZARD.” The letters stretched for attention. Habit tried stopping me, but I had no biohazards. I continued on through maze-like corridors, till I reached the east wing elevator. Stepping inside, I pressed L1. Red light reflected on my teal scrubs. The light from the humidifier blinked against his leg. My hand fit in his palm. Heat rose from his sweater, and I sat soothed. The dark lay around us. Ear against his chest, I felt the rise and fall as he sang: “...you are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you…” His soft voice carried on, and his eyes twinkled above me as he rocked me back to sleep. Downstairs, the noticeable burnout of the hospital staff sparked a smirk across my face. Cynicism was a symptom of ER jobs. Behind a stark white countertop, papers sat in stacks, and files lay open near computers. Screens dictated information. Artificial light reflected on their faces, while their eyes moved heavily toward mine. The nurses notified me that Jenny’s X-rays were back, Room 6 was screaming for Jesus, Room 3 was concerned she had kidney stones, courtesy of WebMD, and Charlie Two-Shoes was dropped off by New Orleans EMS. Systematically, I reviewed the charts, smiled, asked detailed questions, nodded and prescribed tests. I moved towards the last patient, Charlie. He was a homeless man, who lived in the shelter off St Claude. The nurses told me he was gently mannered, aside from his crude jokes. Summer 2011 47
Like most of the ER’s psych patients, he started coming in regularly after Katrina. He would call the ambulance over and over until they picked him up. His hooker jokes were infamous, and I was eager to meet him. The glare from my watch caught my attention: Hour 19, if I finish shortly, I could grab a quick nap in the room down the hall. Pace quickened, the metal turned with my fingers. “Hello Charlie.” “Why they take me all the way out here?” A mop of multi-toned grey hair camouflaged a smile. His cheeks formed perfect rosy circles above rotten and absent teeth. “You called an ambulance Charlie,” the new nurse smiled. “Look I got a snake bite.” He pointed to two pink mosquito bites on his chest. He chatted and smiled, casually pulling minutes into the conversation. “I like your shoes.” I provoked him, wanting to hear the story. “You know how I got these two shoes?” tapping one yellow and one green shoe against each other. Duct-tape held the canvas shoes together. “I got `em from my two girl friends.” He smiled and laughed at himself. His distended belly jumped with every chuckle. His eyes twinkled; familiar comfort overwhelmed me. Bending, I lightly touched his face, directing his eyes to check for symptoms. Whiskey defused with every breath. 10 pm: my hair, frozen from leaving the pool deck early, exuded the potent smell of chlorine. I pulled into my driveway. Hunger pinched my stomach. The air was dark above the clouded ground. Sliding slightly, the pavement was treacherous. I guess Dad forgot to salt, again. My towel caught under my foot, and I fell to my knees. Pain seared through my bones, the cold ice began melting beneath my skin. Easing up, I carefully proceeded inside. The smell sunk my heart, before I saw him. The hint of barley from the golden bottle had become easily identifiable. “Give him an IV, and discharge him after he sobers up,” I told the nurse quickly before stepping into the bright corridor. Room 6 was still screaming for Jesus. Pushing the doors out of the ER, the lights grew dim. There was a bulb out near the on call room as if it were beckoning me to sleep. Sliding my body on top of the sterile sheets, my eyes were shut before my head went down. The warm air filled my alveoli; I imagined my red blood 48 Tulane Review
cells receiving the oxygen like excited children at Christmas. Maybe it is 90 percent. I exhaled. Everyone said it wasn’t my job to take care of him. “ You can’t base your life around him.” They didn’t know. “…you’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. So please don’t take my sunshine away.” His smile was sunlight, when it happened. His eyes were translucent. Emotions beamed through them, but when he drank, the alcohol seeped out. Christmas break. His eyes looked past me. Maybe he knew I could see it, or maybe he didn’t want to see his reflection in me. Disappointment poured out of my eyes. He was “going to bed early.” Anxiety crept around my chest. I started to organize. Papers and filing boxes concealed the dining room table. I began stacking, and ordering. Folders went into boxes and boxes stacked into corners. Under one table sat a similar black box. I reached for it, expecting it to be light with paper, but a noise unexpected cleared the silence. Pressure filled my ears as it opened. Five dark bottles, empty. I sat them neatly in a row on the table, before placing folders in the boxes. They went into the red recycling bin. Faint remembrances streamed through my lashes; my eyes opened to a blur. The white light from the hall cleared my vision. The room was dark, except for that solitary beam. Outside, the night crept over the sun and the buildings rose black, while the sky darkened to a thin wash of navy. I checked the beeper, no calls. My watch taunted: hour number 21, three more, almost over. An orange spot next to my wrist caught my eye. Vomit. I need to shower. The room moved slowly. Passing through the frame, darkness grew inside the bathroom. The showers were empty. Adjusted, my eyes found a stall. Soap scum conquered the tiles and shower handle. Steam spilled over the curtain and hot water washed away hours, washed away sleep sweats, and washed away memories. I breathed deep and hard. My chest stretched to capacity, feeling the tension in my muscles pull, building up, and released. The harsh sound coming from my beeper dragged me from the shower. The red light highlighted on top of my green towel. Blinking, the code: 911. In one motion I stepped into scrubs and threw up my hair. The walls rushed past, tiled lines blurred to one consistent surface, metal brushed my hand. The doors blew cold chills against my back; the ER was eerily Summer 2011 49
quiet. No matter the time of day, normally someone was making noise. By this time most of the rooms must have been discharged, but evening rounds were in an hour, which usually meant small herds of interns hovering. As I rounded the corner, I could hear a suction machine. There was no one around. Again another corner, there was a crew that was continuously suctioning the airway of a man. Steps fell faster. Blood covered the board he lay on, one eye swollen shut and his head bandaged. My eyes rolled across his knobby body and feel upon his shoes: one yellow and one green both dotted red. Another quick glance, there was no sign of staff except for the EMS crew, and the one-stationed nurse. “Let’s move him into Room 4.” We move fast. “What happened?” Through a steady voice, pertinent pieces were mapped: bloody bat, neighbors herd cracking, mental status declining and blood pooling from ears and nose. “Trauma sheers, -steth,” I replied, as the EMT handed me her red stethoscope and sheers, while the other began exposing the rest of his body. His one good eye stared up at me. Moving my fingers across his skull, I gently applied pressure. Cracking hit my ears: two depressed skull fractures. My heart was pounding inside my head, as ER staff began to trickle in. Attaching monitors and assessing vital signs, blood spilled from his mouth as someone took over suctioning. His body exposed, hands gripped tightly to the sheets as his chest moved unevenly. “Page neurology,” I shouted. I cleared the blood from his head, revealing the bone damage, just as my Attending walked up beside me. Everything spun to high speed. His chest struggled to rise. Muscles visibly worked to compress the chest upon exhale. Voices splashed around me. Listening and assessing, I continued to notice the body in front of me, thrashing. Each assisted breath was forced into his failing lungs. His one open eye stared into me. The blood pooled around the creases of his lids. Blinking, warm red glazed across the whites highlighting the green iris. Through the metal drum, gargles fell into my ears. Fluid. Dark magenta seeped. Slow is fast. He looked at me. Locked in his trance, trepidation questioned. His shoulder muscles flexed pushing his chest forward. His motley grey beard tangled smears of hard blood. His eye, highlighted by the stream from his forehead, was no longer open: he was unresponsive. He needed oxygen. My fingers curved under his jaw, 50 Tulane Review
my gloves smeared with his blood, I gently tilted his head back. Red occluded the trachea, suction, for a moment the small dark opening was visible. I slid the tube inside. The ER Attending whispered instructions behind me. Hands moved around his body, round knees protruded from varicose legs. Surgeon hands replaced red ER hands. They worked quickly: cracking bone, releasing pressure, and resealing wounds. After, I gently washed his blood from my arms, shaking. North wing, intensive care, he lay on the bed, machines assisted breaths. It was after midnight, but I needed water. I lightly navigated the creaks of our old wooden stairs. Moonlight shone through the window. Down further, almost level, artificial light interrupted the warm darkness. As I walked through the hall, a faint form lay on our floor, maybe it was the dog. Moving faster, the form became transparent brown, scented barley strong. The glass cooled beneath my hand, my lips tightened. In the trash, it was small and unimportant. Shadows wove around the night. Returning upstairs new glass in hand, I peered inside his room. The bed was untouched. Through stairways and doors, around corners, and under blankets: I looked. Fears occluded sleep. Walking, sitting, walking, I rocked until the morning sky rose red. The door squealed open, I moved. This time my eyes were unavoidable. He “must have fallen asleep in the car.” “Must have, or did?” “Did, I’m sorry.” And away he looked. Through the streaked glass window, I could see his swollen face. His once long grey beard and shaggy mop of hair had been shaved off. His round belly rose and fell with the machine. His eyes were green. Mark came up behind me. Silently, he stood next to me for a while, before saying. “I see you’ve been introduced to the 10 percent.” His motley shoes sat on the chair next to the bed. I turned; he may have said something else. I headed down the hall, downstairs and through doors. I found an empty linen closet. Sterile white sheets staked tall on cold metal frames. Slouching to the floor, I closed my eyes to leave, but in the darkness I saw one scared green eye. Hour 24: on the streets outside, people churned, carpooled home, and traveled back to dysfunction. The soft red light blinked from my pager. For a moment, I sat alone.
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Contributors Elizabeth Allen-Cannon is from Kansas City, MO and recently received her BFA in in Illustration and Art History from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has been featured on the covers of both Ink Magazine of Kansas City, MO, and Issues, Brown University’s literary magazine. Christopher Barnes lives in Newcastle, United Kingdom. He has won the Northern Arts Writers Award, read at Waterstone’s bookshop to promote the anthology Titles Are Bitches, and given a reading at Newcastle’s famous Morden Tower. He is the author of Lovebites (Chanticleer Press). Guy R. Beining has had 6 poetry books and 25 chapbooks published over the years, and has appeared in 7 different anthologies. He is in the Contemporary Authors Autobiography series (Gale Research, 1998), and is also in the Dictionary of the Avant Gardes (2000) . He has recently appeared in Chain, Epiphany, Perspektive Germany, and New Orleans Review. Charles Bondhus holds a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. He has published two books of poetry, What We Have Learned to Love (Brickhouse Books, 2009) and How the Boy Might See It (Pecan Grove Press, 2010), as well as a novella, Monsters and Victims (Gothic Press, 2010). Mary Bourke is a senior at Tulane University from Philadelphia. She is a Studio Art Major with a concentration in painting. This is her first published short story. Regina DiPerna is a first-year student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Creative Writing MFA Program. She is a staff member of Ecotone, UNCW’s literary magazine. Her poems have been published in Poets and Artists Magazine, The Battered Suitcase, and The Allegheny Review, among others. Melissa Finkelstein is an illustration student at the Rhode Island School of Design from Brooklyn, NY. Her work draws inspiration from kitsch, synthetic nature, architecture, urban spaces, and travel.
Anthony Frame is an exterminator who lives in Toledo, OH with his wife and cat. His first chapbook, Paper Guillotines, was published by Imaginary Friend Press and his poems have been published in or are forthcoming from Third Coast, Blue Collar Review, and New Plains Review, among others. He is the cofounder and co-editor of Glass: A Journal of Poetry. Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada. Her poems have appeared in American Literary Review, The Iowa Review, and The New York Quarterly. Her latest book is Walking with Elihu: poems on Elihu Burritt, the Learned Blacksmith. David A. Harris is a serious environmentalist currently involved in regional land conservation. His first book of poems, Loose Parlance (Ragged Sky Press), was published in 2008. Some of his earlier poetry has appeared in California Quarterly, The Rockford Review, and The Deronad Review. Chris Haven has poetry published or is forthcoming in a number of journals including New York Quarterly, Smartish Pace, Memorious, The Normal School, and Sentence. He teaches creative writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan and edits the journal Wake: Great Lakes Thought & Culture. Amanda Hempel was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she currently lives and works for a closed-captioning company. During 2011, her poetry will be appearing in, amongst other places, The Literary Review, Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal, and Red River Review. She received her MFA Creative Writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Kathleen Hillery is a graphic and textile designer from New Orleans, LA. Kevin Hinkle is a photographer and full-time professor of ESL at Raritan Valley Community College. He holds a Ph.D in International Education from New York University. In the past three years, he has participated in more than 20 juried art shows including, most recently, the Marylou Hillyer 25th International Juried Show at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey. John A. Nieves has poems published or forthcoming in journals such as: Redivider, Adirondack Review, and California Quarterly. He has received the Estelle J. Zbar Poetry Prize from the University of South Florida and won the 2010 Southeast Review AWP Short Poetry contest. He is currently enrolled in the Creative Writing Ph.D. Program at the University of Missouri.
Edward Oâ€™Casey received his MA from the University of North Texas. He spent ten years in the private sector, working for various companies and being beaten into a wonderfully useful state of denial. He loves all things narcissistic and lives with three unruly ferrets, a rabbit, and his wife. His poems have appeared or are upcoming in Cold Mountain Review, Oak Bend Review, and Euphony. Clint Sabom used to live in a silent monastery but is currently living in Columbus, Georgia and studying Spanish literature. His poetry has recently appeared in The Eclectic Muse and has been accepted for publication in The Stray Branch. Vera Schwarcz is the Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies at Wesleyan University. She is the author of three chapbooks, the latest being Chisel of Remembrance (Antrim Press, 2009) and Brief Rest in the Garden of Flourishing Grace (Red Heifer Press, 2009). Her book Bridge Across Broken Time: Chinese and Jewish Cultural Memory (Yale University Press) was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Joannie Kervran Stangeland has recently had poems published in Iota, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Crab Creek Review, and Floating Bridge Review. She is also the author of two poetry chapbooks. Nathan E. White received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from New York University in 2004. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lake Effect and Willard & Maple. He is currently working on a collection of poems: Allografts. Malcom Willison has been writing and publishing poems of some sort for the last half century, mostly in and many on the Northeast. But now New Orleans has taken over, for good and bad, complexity and Katrina, and all the rest. Christopher Woods lives in Houston and in Chappell Hill, Texas. His work has appeared in Litchfield Review, Glasgow Review, and Narrative Magazine. He shares an online gallery with his wife Linda at Moonbird Hill Arts. Zach Yanowitz is 20 years old, lives in New Orleans, and has no marketable real-world skills.
Submission Guidelines The Tulane Review is now accepting Prose, Poetry, and Art submissions for its Winter 2011 Issue. Poetry and Prose submissions should be sent electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org and included as attachments. Hard copy submissions will be accepted and should be sent to Tulane Review, 122 Norman Mayer, New Orleans, LA, 70118 with an SASE. Please submit no more than five poems, and limit prose submissions to 4,000 words per piece. Hard copy submissions should include the artistâ€™s e-mail address. Art should be submitted electronically to tulane.review@gmail. com in high-resolution format. Please include dimensions and media. Please include a cover letter with biography for all submissions. The Tulane Literary Society normally acquires first North American serial rights but will consider second serial publication. For more information, visit our website at review.tulane.edu.