Applause Vol. 24 2014
Table of Contents Letter from the Editor- Rhiannon J. Corley
Hangover- Martin Newman
Prize Fighter*- Jessica B. Weisenfels
Usage of the Outside Couch*- Jessica B. Weisenfels
Balloons at Bellagio- Talia Blanton
Hitcher- Pat McAteer
Wild Woman- Staci Miller
Notes on Dierdre- Jessica B. Weisenfels
Cirrus- Talia Blanton
Lizzie*- Staci Miller
Riff on Brathwaite’s “Bread”*- Tim VanDyke
Magdelena- Talia Blanton
Dog Gone- Staci Miller
Sunwise- Staci Miller
L’ancienne Campagne- Christy Neu
Sunday Mourning- Christy Neu
Divorce Normal- C.W. Post
Flashbulb Trail- C.W. Post
One for the Grand Kids- C.W. Post
Riff on Ginsberg’s “Witchita Vortex Sutra”- Tim VanDyke Horace the Hoarse Horse- Rocky Ward Chin to Cheek with Your Baby Cousin, All I Think is You- Jessica B. Weisenfels A Thing Devoted- Jessica B. Weisenfels Workingman in Southtown, I Hear You- Jessica B. Weisenfels One Night Stumble- Sasha Yedrysek Thorns- Martin Newman Alexander Pope, a Politcal Poet*- Lindsay Miranda Jay Gatsby and the Nostalgia That Kills*- Staci Miller Weathered- Talia Blanton
50 51 52 53 54 55 58 60 63 66
Colophon *Indicates a winning piece in the Fall Creative Writing Competition. These works were selected by UAFS faculty as the best of all entries submitted to the contest. Like all submissions to Applause, these works were entered and judged anonymously.
Letter from the Editor Dear Reader, For twenty-four years the Applause staff has put together a phenomenal magazine full of the best works of UAFS students. This year is no exception. The artwork, short stories, poems, and essays showcase the best of what UAFS students have to offer the world. As always the work was chosen anonymously and with great care. We are grateful to the many supportive staff and faculty who continuously support the work we do to make Applause a success. Furthermore we would like to thank the students who make their way into its pages; without them this publication would not be possible. We would like to extend a special thanks to Dr. Paul Beran, Chancellor; Dr. Ray Wallace, Provost; Dr. Joe Hardin, Dean of the College of Languages and Communications; and Dr. Cammie Sublette, English Department Chair. An enormous thank you to Dr. Carol Westcamp, faculty advisor to Applause. We also thank the supportive faculty, staff, students, and family members of our department. I personally would like to thank the Layout Editor Staci Miller for all of her hard work and dedication. Without every single one of these people Applause would not exist as you see it today. We sincerely hope that you enjoy the publication this year and that you look to Applause for many years to come. We are extraordianrily pleased to present to you the best of what UAFS students have to offer. Enjoy. Sincerely, Rhiannon J. Corley Editor 2013-2014
Hangover (graphite on paper) Martin Newman
Award Winning Short Fiction
The Prize Fighter Jessica B. Weisenfels 1st Place, Short Fiction Marcy was drunk. “…and you know, I try. God knows I try. I try so hard. And what thanks do I get for it?” “None,” Ryan chimed in. Marcy nodded with her whole torso. “So yeah. So what. I’m a freaking school teacher…” “Darlin’ I’m pretty sure it’d be fine for you to drop an f-bomb at this point.” “I’m a FUCKING school teacher.” A cheer went up across the room. “Fuck yeah, man!” One of Samantha’s many boyfriends crossed the room to high five Marcy. “My god how old are you?” She asked him. Ryan poured her another shot. “You can’t go to a twenty one year old’s birthday party and expect everyone to be of age, Mars.” “That’s the magic word, Sam!” the boyfriend shouted at Samantha, who was sprawled on the abandoned game of Twister on the floor. “Everybody have a drink?” “HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAMANTHA!” Ryan yelled, and the party echoed his cry. “A shot for my baby sister!” The guests raised their glasses and watched Marcy down her shot. By the time they were all ready to drink, Marcy was finished and felt their eyes on her. She suddenly felt conspicuous. “Ryan! Am I being too loud?” “Naw, man. It’s a party. Anyway, you’re a fucking school teacher?” “So yeah. I’m a fucking school teacher. That means I can’t drink?” “So what if one of your students’ parents saw you leaving the liquor store. I mean, she was there too, right?” “She was picketing, Ryan. P-I-C…no…that’s not right. Is it? How much have we had?”
“Enough.” “Oh Jesus.” “Amen, sister,” Ryan added. “Sister! I’m not your sister!” Marcy roared with laughter. “Maybe someday you will be.” Marcy suddenly felt the warm whiskey feeling lift for a moment. She looked hard at Ryan. His steel toed boots were worn through, showing metal at the toes. His hair was greasy, his stillyoung, still handsome face was marred by scars. His thick arms had snake tattoos wrapped around them. The homemade blue ink blurred into itself so that, except for the eyes on the inside of his wrists, the snakes might have been thick vines. At the thought of vines growing up his arm, Marcy almost laughed out loud again. He wasn’t right for her sister. Long time honorary family member, sure. Nice kid, sure. One hundred eighty pounds of solid manmeat, sure. Built like Dionysus, sure. But marry an Anderson girl? Hardly. “Oh honey,” Marcy said sympathetically. “I know, I know,” he almost whispered in resignation. “So, what’ve you been doing since high school?” Marcy’s head wobbled as she spoke. He was killing her buzz, tugging on that tether which held her to the reality of a life where she would never speak to Ryan outside this room. Samantha turned up the music, giving the pair on the couch the illusion of privacy. “I’ve been fighting, mostly. There’s a place down in Little Rock where I can make a few hundred dollars a week. Plus the family business.” “How’s your mother?” “She’s just fine, thanks,” he said curtly. “You want a beer?” “Sure,” Marcy replied. Ryan leaned over her to the end of the couch, where a small glass-front refrigerator sat. Her pulse quickened. “Dionysus,” she mumbled. “Pardon?” Ryan asked from the safe distance of his own seat. His bicep flexed as he twisted off the cap of her beer. Marcy sighed. “Nothing,” she beamed. “You’ve just been fighting and umm…the family business…for three years?” “Well, that and prison.” “Prison?” Marcy gasped. She had never met anyone who
had been to prison before. “I swear, Mars. Your eyes are just like saucers.” “But—?” “The family business.” “Your mom’s not cooking meth again?” “No, no meth. She gave that up after drug court.” “Drug court? No one tells me anything.” “I reckon no one knew. Sam’s been away at college. Your mama’s busy baking cookies for the latest batch of wayward children.” “What happened to living with your aunt and getting that engineering degree?” “One day my mom shows up in the community college parking lot. She’s half-starved, looking like leather stretched over a bone, and tells me her husband’s dead of hepatitis and she’s inherited this land where he had a small cash crop. ” “And you went with her, just like that?” “No. But then I kept having these dreams where she was falling into lava. After so many nights of watching my mama burn up like that, I dropped out and moved to her apartment.” “And then you were arrested?” “Yes, but just for possession. We only carry an ounce at a time anymore, since Mike got busted.” “How long were you in?” “A year.” “God, Ryan. I am so sorry,” Marcy looked at Ryan, remembering him as a gangly boy. “I’ve missed you guys. You’re more like my family than my family.” “I’ve missed you too,” Marcy patted his knee affectionately. Ryan beamed. “Are you okay, Mars? You’re looking a downright peaked.” “I’m feeling soberer and very tired. I think I’ll walk home now.” “You live close enough to your parents’ house to walk home? Where are your parents, anyway?” “They’re in Missouri for the weekend. And yes, Walter and I bought the place a block down.” “And a security system?” “No, it already had one.”
“I never understood you uppity folk and your security systems. How much crime has there been around here?” Ryan teased. “There are lots of drugs in those neighborhoods over there by those apartments.” “Yeah, I know. I live there. But we never stole from you people, did we? Poor don’t mean trash, Mars. And drugs don’t mean trash either. We gotta make a living somehow.” “I know, Ryan. It’s just a matter of comfort. You know how we upper middle class white people love our comfort,” Marcy quipped, stood up, then fell back to her seat. “Yep, still drunk.” Ryan laughed at her. “Here big sister, lean on me. I’ll get you home.” They were largely silent on the way to Marcy’s two story colonial. Halfway down the block, Marcy stumbled. Ryan caught her up in his arms. She gazed up at him from his chest, closed her eyes, and kissed him hard on the mouth. The reaction was transcendental, and long. She pressed her body up next to his until she could feel his need pulsing into hers. “Marcy,” Ryan muttered between kisses. “Hmmm?” Marcy replied into his mouth. “Marcy, you’re drunk. And we’re in the middle of the street.” “Oh,” she gasped as she pried herself loose. She put her hand to her already swollen lips and thought for a moment. “Come with me,” she commanded, taking him by the hand. She lead him to the alley behind her house, where privacy fences hid them from view. She pushed him up against the fence and kissed him again, this time more urgently. Suddenly she was the one against the fence, and she imagined his hand sliding up her skirt, removing her panties. She imagined him placing himself inside her. He lifted her up and she wrapped her legs around his waist, bracing herself for the hand she knew would creep up her thigh, bracing herself for the moment their rhythm blended into ecstasy. “Marcy,” Ryan mumbled again. “Ryan,” Marcy replied as she kissed his neck. He removed his mouth from her ear and whispered, “As much as I’d love to fuck you against this fence. I’m not gonna drunk fuck you.”
“I’m a big girl, Ryan. I know what I’m doing,” she said, running her fingernails through his close-cropped hair. “Maybe you do. But I need to be sure. Meet me tomorrow at three, at the Stop & Sleep over in Washington County. Can you do that?” “I guess. I could tell Walter I’m going to the school to reorganize my library.” “You tell him whatever you want, but you show up, okay?” “But I want you now,” Marcy whined, unbuttoning her shirt and placing his hands on her breasts. He kissed them both, took her head in his hands, and kissed her forehead. “I want you too. But I don’t have any protection.” Marcy sobered considerably at the risk of having unprotected sex with an ex-convict, so she nodded, biting into his shoulder as she did so. He lifted her from his waist and sat her on the ground. She adjusted her clothing and they walked together to her front porch. When they arrived on the doorstep, she threw her arms around her helper. Her head came just to his chest, and she could feel the slight dampness of his sweat through his thin cotton tee shirt against her cheek. His chest flexed as he held her in his arms. He smelled like musk and deodorant. My Dionysus, tomorrow at three, she thought as she pulled away. She remembered the last time they had embraced before this drunken night. It had been the night he and her sister had graduated from high school. Before the scars on his face, before the tattoos, he had been an eager boy who graduated near the top of his class, with honors, who settled on the local community college because he couldn’t afford the alternative. He had had plans, though. Big plans. He was going to work two jobs while going to school, save up his money, transfer to the university, and make something of himself. He had whispered in her ear, “In five years, Mars, I’m going to be an engineer. And then I’ll make Sam marry me.” Marcy had laughed. Marrying Sam had been a joke between him and the whole family for some years. Ryan had pulled back and looked into her eyes. That night was the first time Marcy had thought he meant it. “Do you ever think about going back to school, Ryan?” she asked now.
“Sometimes.” “You think you’ll do it?” Ryan thought hard before he answered. “No, I don’t think so.” “Why, Ryan? You’re so smart. You could really make something of yourself.” “I tried, Marcy. I went to class, I kept my hair clean—I did right. But I didn’t feel right. Plus, how I am now, I like to think of myself as a kind of role model. I want my people to know how low you can be and still endeavor to survive. ‘Cause I was real low, Mars, after prison. But I worked hard. And now I’ve got new subs in my ride. We’re puttin’ a couple of doublewides out on Mom’s land, so I’ll have my own place real soon. Everything is great.” “Until you get arrested again.” “Every profession has its pitfalls, Mars. You’re gonna get fired for buying wine.” “It’s not the same.” “No, it’s not. So you have your life and I have mine.” “If money’s so great, why do you fight?” “I’m real good at it. Better at it than math. It makes me feel that feeling like when I won the Mathcathalon,” he offered her a toothy grin. The porch light came on. Both stood blinking in the light as the door opened. “Honey, you coming inside?” Marcy’s husband asked, appraising the hulking mass of prize fighter on his doorstep. “Yes, Walter.” “Well, Mars, I’ll see you around I suppose.” “It was good to see you. And thanks for helping me home.” “Anytime,” he said, then disappeared into the night. Walter hastily bolted the door as the two entered the foyer. “That was certainly a disturbing creature,” Walter said, embracing his wife, “Oh honey, you smell like a brewery.” “Well, Walter, I got very drunk. I feel very sober now, though.” “You’re certainly not sober. Sober you would never lead that fellow to our home.” Marcy fell silent, walked to the wall where the alarm hung, and set it for the night. You never can be too sure, she thought as
she climbed the stairs to where her fluffy king sized bed awaited her. That night she dreamed of Ryan sinking into lava.
Usage of the Outside Couch Jessica B. Weisenfels 2nd Place, Short Fiction No one ever says how lovely a trailer park can look when the light hits it just right. Swayze and me picked up the yard, even dusted off the wooden corner pieces of the outside couch. Right when dusk makes its way across the valley—when everything takes on that rosy complexion like God’s really a woman with a bronzer compact, and we look up into them hills transforming before our eyes, it seems fitting that we’d keep the couch and want to sit out there. I never seen a couch out in the yard in a real neighborhood, but how do them folks look out into them great big hills and not want a couch out there, not on a covered patio, but out there where the sky is the cover? There’s no accounting for folks who can’t enjoy a bit of nature for fear of hurting their neighbors’ feelings. If I ever do win the lottery, I’ll buy up the biggest house I can find and put an outside couch right in the middle of the front yard. We’d never really dust the couch if MeMe weren’t due any minute. MeMe, with her cool figure and cooler attitude, always did like things to look nice. Before she went off to school she always said she’d never come back here. But then I get a call a few days ago say she bought her first house and she’s trying to get in touch with her history. Swayze looked at me like I was a ghost and told me, “That girl ain’t never cared about her history. She wantin’ somethin’ from you, Mama.” I tell her to hush up her mouth about her big sister. She looked down at her hands. Swayze got these long scars down her arms and legs on account of when her daddy’s lab blew up. I didn’t know he was cooking till that happened. Just sent her out there not knowing, like the court ordered me. When I got there, I asked Merle what he was doing so far away from civilization. He said, “What I do now, Alyce.” But I didn’t have to send my girl out there anymore after the explosion. He died. Ain’t nothing gonna rid this dirty world of methamphetamines faster than methamphetamines. Swayze didn’t die, but I lost my job because I had to go stay at the children’s hospital in Little Rock for three months. I been back at the chicken plant ever since. The state nearly took Swayze and MeMe too, even though MeMe got an uppity daddy don’t have
nothing to do with us. Then that lady from the state saw me sitting by her bedside and came out to visit a clean trailer after Swayze came home and thought she might be okay where she was since her daddy already died. MeMe always had that uppity air about her, just like her daddy. The other kids in the trailer park followed her around like she was God, but she hated them. I remember watching her wash that car she bought working at the hamburger place.—that water mixing with sweat and running down the peach-toned tan of flesh. She had a nice figure, like I did before I wasted away at the plant, so all the boys gathered across the little dirt road and pretended to do something else while they watched her. She let all the trailer park girls gather around and help when she washed her car, but she never talked to them at school. I know, their mamas all came over to tell me about it once a week. “Them beans ready, Swayze? She said she’s bringing a friend.” “You telling me MeMe changed enough in seven years to have a friend? When you knowed that girl had a single friend?” “Imma wait out here, you just check the beans and get the cornbread out the oven.” “Is that really what you’re wearin’?” “Ain’t nothing the matter with wearin’ my church clothes when we got company comin’. Why ain’t you changed? You go change. Ain’t no one want to smell that pine cleaner on you.” “But Mama—“ “You go change your clothes, you can’t see your sister dressed like that. You’ll embarrass her.” Swayze mumbled something about how the trailer was embarassing enough and clearly MeMe wanted to be embarrassed as she retreated. “What you sayin’ girl? You might be nineteen but you’ll still catch the back of my hand right upside your head. Go change.” Swayze came back smelling like cornbread, dressed up in a gauzy shirt and her best jeans. No bra, but then I guess teenagers are inclined to rebel however they can, and Swayze was small enough up top to pull it off without looking like a stripper. MeMe pulled up in a slick black truck, the new kind. One we couldn’t afford if we spent a year putting every dime both Swayze and I made on a car. She hopped out of the passenger’s side
wearin’ a scarf, an expensive tee shirt, and some real tight pants. A young man got out the driver’s side. He was a tall, thin fellow, and he wore kind of the same outfit. “Pleased to meet you ma’am. I’m Benjamin,” he shook my hand firmly. He was a yankee. “Nice to meet ya, Ben,” I looked him in his yankee eye and shook right back. “It’s Benjamin, Mama.” I said nothing, but gathered my girl up in my arms. I thought I might cry at first, but I’d never do that in front of a stranger. It’s impolite. I dabbed my eyes with my sleeve before I turned to face It’s-Benjamin again. “That’s a right nice truck, Benjamin,” Swayze offered. “It’s a rental,” MeMe said. Then she hugged her sister. Swayze beamed in her sister’s arms. She always pretends to hate MeMe cause everyone else seems to, but it’s near impossible not to be proud of a sibling who made it out of this dirty county while you’re going to work to build refrigerators every day. “Y’all want some beans and cornbread? I just pulled the cornbread out of the oven.” “We ate at the airport. Is that grandma’s couch?” “Yes it is.” “That’s a great vintage piece,” It’s-Benjamin gushed, “Imagine that in a mustard chevron, Charlotte.” “Charlotte?” I looked at MeMe. “I couldn’t exactly sit in my college classes and let my professors yell out the name Memorye every time I said anything. They’d always mispronounce it because of the misspelling. Like I’m a weird bread. Mem-o-rye.” “You were named after your aunt, and your grandmama, and your grandmama’s mama.” “Well, I took my grandma’s middle name instead.” “Her middle name was Charlye,” Swayze replied, either unwilling or unable to take the venom out of her voice. “That is also misspelled. Mama, can I have that couch? I’ll take it indoors and have it redone. I’d love to have something that belonged to my grandmother.” “I’ve got some things of your grandmama’s that you can have, but not my outside couch.” “Y’all come on inside and have some sweet tea, at least,”
Swayze requested just as polite as I’d raised both my girls. “Actually, I’m still a bit peckish. May I have some of those beans? I’ve been dying to try beans and cornbread,” It’s-Benjamin offered. Swayze saved herself from gasping, but just barely. “Of course. Y’all come on in.” Right when she hit the door, MeMe-or-Charlotte asked if the little dog on the shelf was the one her granddaddy had whittled. I told her it was. She asked if she could have it, and I said she could. Swayze shot me a look. “Is that grandma’s cast iron cornbread pan?” “Yes it is,” I said. “Oh babe, wouldn’t that be great on the sideboard in the kitchen?” MeMe-or-Charlotte addressed this to It’s-Benjamin. “It would. It looks very old.” “It is. It gets passed down to whichever girl gets married first in every generation.” “Oh, Mama….can I have it?” “Are you married?” Swayze shot at her sister. “No, but—” “No, that you cannot have. Swayze is marrying Ben Reynolds next month. I told her she could have it. I never knew my girls had such a preference for Ben—jamins,” no one laughed at my joke. “But Mama, I’m the oldest. And Swayze will use it.” “Of course I’ll use it,” Swayze spat. “You are not married. So Grandmama’s pan goes to Swayze. I’ve got the pan I was bought when I married Swayze’s daddy. You can have that one.” “But that one’s not cast iron, and I never make cornbread.” “If you’re not making cornbread, what does it matter if it’s cast iron?” Swayze offered with something approximating mock sweeteness. “I want it because it was Grandma’s.” “You can have one of the afghans she made.” “But Mama—” “Please tell us all how nice it will look on your sideboard,” Swayze replied, not good-naturedly. “Swayze, go and call the dogs up.” “But Mama—” it was Swayze’s turn to But-Mama. “Girl…”
Swayze did like I said and came back with a better attitude. It’s-Benjamin praised the beans, but I don’t think he really liked them. We talked about the family and MeMe-or-Charlotte told us all about what it was like to live in Springfield. It was just five hours away, but it might have been the moon. After college, she’d moved out to Kansas City because she’d found a job there in advertising. It’s-Benjamin’s family lived in Chicago, so they’d moved there after they met and bought the kind of house young people in advertising could afford. I didn’t really know what that meant, but I imagined it was the kind of neighborhood that had regulations against outside couches. MeMe-or-Charlotte said they planned to drive back tomorrow morning. She called it an adventure tour of the Midwest. After It’s-Benjamin and MeMe-or-Charlotte drove away, Swayze just stood and looked at me under the porch light. “I guess we’ve got to get a new outside couch. I’ll check out the Salvation Army tomorrow after work.” “Reckon so. I had to let her have more than an afghan after the cornbread pan thing.” “At least Charlotte will use the couch, even if she does cover it in mustard chevrons,” she approximated her sister’s tone as she said this. We laughed for a little minute, and stared hard at the dead grass where the outside couch used to sit. I felt like that grass for a moment, like a big hole had opened up over my head. Only it wasn’t the sky, it was the sneaking feeling my eldest child really had left us for good this time. I remembered her little fist on my breast when I nursed her, how that little fist never did open up all relaxed like a baby’s should. I remembered how she cried all night every night and one of those nights my own mama looked into my sixteen year old face and said That baby just don’t like bein’ in this world much, does she? She don’t seem it think it’s safe here. Or maybe she’s just better ‘n all of us. “Reckon she’ll come back?’ Swayze touched her words with softness this time. “Naw, Sis, I think she got what she came for.” Swayze nodded and went in to get us both a beer.
Ballons at Bellagio Talia Blanton
Short Fiction Selections
Hitcher Pat McAteer At mid-morning of the last Sunday in August, Jay Clocker’s car advanced on a hitchhiker strolling along Route 80’s eastbound shoulder. The hitcher sported a backwards baseball cap atop two or three colors of hair, frayed denim jacket, and a glossy black miniskirt that shimmered in the sun. Jay eased to a stop beyond the hitcher and unhooked the old-fashioned seat belt that barely reached across his expansive midsection. He leaned to his right, opened the passenger door, and watched in the rear view mirror as the hitcher flipped a broken high-heeled shoe into an unoccupied left hand before walking to the car. “My name’s Trudy,” she said, puffing a cigarette in her right hand and sliding across the dilapidated bench seat of Jay’s ’74 Impala. The glossy black miniskirt snagging on patched upholstery was actually a plastic trash bag with poked-out holes for head and arms. An aroma of baby powder and strawberry perfume attempted to mask a more offensive odor. “Where’re you heading?” asked Jay. He estimated Trudy was twenty to twenty-five years old, about half his age. “Des Moines,” she replied. “Are you going that far?” “I am,” said Jay. “Is that where you’re from?” “Yup, good ol’ Des Moines,” said Trudy. “What about you?” “Jersey, originally,” he said. “What exit?” she asked. Jay always laughed at that one. Trudy shifted to and fro, and the sweaty plastic kept sticking to the vinyl front seat, making sounds like Velcro unfastening itself. With finality, she crossed her legs, tugged at the “hem,” and stretched the bottom edge of the trash bag past her knees. The Impala’s antenna had broken half-off at a long-forgotten carwash, and radio reception in the neglected vehicle consisted of a single station repeating top stories every ten minutes. “Do you listen to anything other than news? What kind of music do you like?” Trudy asked, inspecting a Dylan cassette. “Who’s Bob Dielan?” “It’s Dillon,” Jay said, pronouncing the name phonetically. “And the cassette player’s broken anyway.” “Never heard of him,” she said.
“He’s a poet,” said Jay. “Kind of.” “Who listens to poetry?” asked Trudy. Jay exited the highway and followed a truck-stop sign to an Amoco station. He filled up and walked inside the mini-mart. Pushing a small cart, Jay walked the length of the aisle, rifling through a clothes bargain bin, grabbing soda and water from a cold case, and relieving the shelves of an assortment of candy bars and a variety of snack cakes. “You in line?” Jay asked a fu-manchu’d skyscraper whose ample girth matched his own. “You go ahead pardner,” said the shopper, evaluating Jay’s cartful of sweets. “Looks like you mean business.” Jay placed his purchases beside the register and asked the youthful, gum-popping clerk for a bottle of Bayer aspirin. “Do you have a pay phone,” Jay asked. “I think there’s one outside by the bathrooms. That’s $39.11,” said the clerk. Jay handed him a fifty and asked which way. The halfasleep teenager blew a bubble and pointed. Jay waited a beat. “My change?” he asked. “And I need quarters.” Jay had completed his call and was hanging up the telephone when he felt a slight tug from behind. “Had to use the ladies’ room,” said Trudy. He handed her a convenience store sack containing a $10 wardrobe. Instead of retiring to the ladies’ room, Trudy emptied the sack and shimmied into a pair of shorts, whipped off her jacket, flung the black miniskirt in the air, and wiggled on a Nebraska is for Lovers t-shirt over bare breasts. “Not bad, right?” she asked, obviously proud of her physique. Nodding toward an approving audience of truckers beside a shiny Peterbilt, Jay suggested she strike a pose. She did. Trudy lamented that she couldn’t shower, and Jay recommended approaching the onlookers admiring her form. “Some rigs have showers in the cab,” he said. “C’mon, I’ll go with you.” A gracious husband and wife tandem with matching Longhorn belt buckles escorted Trudy to their customized Kenworth. A refreshed Trudy reappeared 20 minutes later. The monotony of listening to a single radio station had begun to bother Jay as well as Trudy, so Jay asked if she wanted to hear some poetry. “I thought the cassette player didn’t work,” said
“It doesn’t. My own poetry,” said Jay. If nothing else, Jay discovered Trudy had a great laugh. “Your own poetry?” she asked, still laughing. “So what’re you – a poet?” “Never mind,” said Jay. “I took a college course in poetry last year.” “You’re in school?” she asked. “I’m sorry, but you don’t look like no schoolboy. How old are you?” “Forty-one. Look, do you wanna hear it or not?” asked Jay. “It’s about boredom.” “Go for it,” said Trudy. Jay recited from memory: Don’t know what I’m thinking, thinking, thinking Yet I think it all the time There’s something to be doing, doing, doing But I’m not sure what it is Kitchen, kitchen, kitchen, fatt’ning of the bones Time, time, time, obits have been moved “That’s enough, that’s enough,” said Trudy laughing uproariously and making a snorting sound. “That doesn’t even rhyme.” Because Jay was offended at her dismissive tone, he feigned activity- adjusting the mirror, changing lanes, messing with the volume- hoping to drop the subject. She pulled a Newport out of a half-crushed cigarette pack, straightened it, removed the filter, and lit the slightly bent end. “Look,” she said, pointing out the window, “there’s another poem about boredom.” “Des Moines 227 Miles,” said the sign. Although she must have been starving, Trudy refused to eat the junk food Jay had selected from the convenience store, preferring to drink only water. “Too much sugar makes me sick,” said Trudy. Jay had wolfed down the candy bars, but was hungry for something more substantial. “Wanna get a sandwich when we stop?” he asked. Trudy ruffled the comics section of the Sunday newspaper she was reading and said, “Can we eat outside? I don’t wanna go in anywhere.” Jay and Trudy ordered food from a Subway drive-thru, parked the car, and spread out on an empty picnic table amidst other lunching travelers. In between bites, Trudy conversed with
an elderly man tossing a ball to a nondescript dog. The ball rolled under a hedge the dog couldn’t negotiate, so both the owner and Trudy crawled on all fours to assist the befuddled mongrel. After a minute or two of petting and patting the dog, Trudy finished her meatball sandwich, wiped her mouth, and scrunched the residue in a paper wrapper; she strode to a waste can, discarded the leftovers, and disappeared toward the Impala. Jay accidentally kicked the dog’s ball back under the hedge and hung around long enough to watch the owner retrieve it. After a few miles on the road, Trudy curled into a fetal position and rested her head on Jay’s thigh. In recent years, Jay had learned that the art of self-editing far surpassed the anti-art of insensitive, ham-handed humor; still susceptible to the latter, his first inclination was to say something suggestive to Trudy. He restrained the impulse. Trudy fell asleep on Jay’s leg for a moment and awoke with a start. “Was I asleep long?” she asked. “Coupla hours,” Jay said. She had slept for only a minute. “You were snorin’ so loud you woke yourself up.” “You lie,” she said. And then she sat up. “How much farther?” she asked. “Not that far,” said Jay. After maneuvering the radio dial for the millionth time, Trudy located a classic rock station, but static overcame its usefulness. Trudy said, “Tell me the rest of your poem. It’s about boredom right?” “I don’t know the rest of it. There’s a bunch of poems in the glove,” Jay said. Trudy fumbled through the glove compartment, collecting a stack of wrinkled index cards and scratch paper with poems of varying length and completeness. “None of ‘em rhyme,” she said. While Jay filled up for the last time before Des Moines, Trudy plopped herself in front of the steering wheel. “I wanna drive,” she said. “G’ahead,” said Jay. He found no need to monitor her activities and sorted through the stack of poems Trudy had tossed on the floor. “Read me one of ‘em,” she said. “Nah,” said Jay. “You’ll just laugh.” Jay tossed the stack out the window, creating a confetti-like stream on the highway. “You’re going to get us pulled over,” said Trudy. Jay didn’t seem to care.
“I have a kid,” said Trudy. “I left him with my neighbor. She’s gonna kill me.” “How long’ve you been gone?” asked Jay. “Almost a week,” said Trudy. “It ain’t the first time. When you’re using – when I’m using – I’m a different person. You wouldn’t understand.” But Jay did understand. “Think your neighbor called the cops?” Jay asked. “She wouldn’t do that. She loves my ass,” Trudy said. “Loves my ass, if you know what I mean.” Jay knew what she meant. With Des Moines city limits upon them, Jay returned to the driving duties. Jay rolled down the off-ramp, which seemed more like an excavation site with bulldozers, cranes, and dump trucks on either side of the circular, downhill road. He drove along undulating streets with names like Poplar and Evergreen and Cedar and Redwood that had manicured lawns in front of three-story homes housing Windsors and Tudors and Reagans and Romneys. They passed country clubs, tennis clubs, private schools and academies. “Dude,” said Trudy, “when you see fast-food joints we’re close.” The mountainous roads gave way to flatlands with factories on the west side and ghettoes on the north side and street names like First Street and Front Street. “We’ll be there soon,” said Trudy. “Slow down, slow down,” said Trudy, craning her neck to keep something in sight. “Stop! Stop!” she said. Jay braked to a halt, and Trudy ran to an idling Silverado in front of a topless bar. Jay U-turned and parked across the street while Trudy talked with the driver. A second man came out of the neon-lighted establishment and opened the passenger door, waiting. Trudy walked to Jay’s window and said, “Can you hand me my jacket?” He did. After thanking Jay for the ride, Trudy jogged across the street, circled around the Silverado, and climbed into the passenger seat, settling between the two men. And then they were gone. Trudy’s abrupt departure surprised Jay, yet he harbored no ill will toward the hitcher; in fact, Jay had regretted accepting Trudy’s offer to spend the night at her apartment. He didn’t care to referee a lover’s quarrel, especially with a child involved. After registering at one of the numerous cheap motels in the area, Jay strolled down the street to buy Jack Daniels and beer. Before nodding off that night, Jay retrieved a laptop and
his collection of genre flicks from the Impala’s trunk. He inserted three or four DVDs one after the other, fast-forwarding through each one until he found the right movie, the one he wasn’t sure he still owned- the one he wasn’t sure he remembered correctly. In the grainy amateur video, females wrestled in mud while the camera focused on two nude women servicing an actor they called Palomino. The actresses in the staged wrestling match tore at one another’s flimsy apparel- plastic trash bags with poked-out holes for head and arms. After stripping each other, the huskier of the two wrestlers readied and steadied a second actor, who then accommodated her skin-and-bones partner. Jay took swigs from the bottle until the whiskey was gone. Just before sunrise, Jay awoke to loud voices. Headlights shone through the motel’s flimsy curtains. Through the peephole he witnessed an animated discussion between a John and a prostitute. They argued about the cost of something. Jay opened his last warm beer, drank while he showered, loaded up the Impala, and left the room key on a night stand.
Wild Woman Staci Miller A streak of dusty yellow light shone through the shutters and onto her face. She wasn’t sure what time it was, only that she had been napping. Other than the tiny slits of light from outside she had no clocks in her room. She had few things: a king-sized bed, a small dresser filled with thrifted clothes, a white box fan, and a library book. The book changed based on what he wanted her to have and occasionally she would have to go a day without one, the day he had to return the book and get her another one. He never asked her what she wanted to read. He just brought her books. She did have a makeshift bathroom. A toilet and a bathtub installed with obvious haste. It was hot in her room. She didn’t have an air conditioner. The noise from the unit would give them away, she knew. From the outside her room looked like a typical storage space. It was small room over a garage with decorative shutters painted yellow covering the window. From the outside it was nothing extraordinary, but for the past six months it had been her world. She was covered in sweat from sleeping. She unrolled herself from the ancient floral duvet and ran a bath of cold water to cool off. Before the room, she had wished for warm summers. Her cousins in Idaho would write her letters longing to come to California and visit the beach. She would smirk, writing back that people in San Francisco didn’t wear bikinis. Her summer in the room would be an atypical summer. Heat waves causing temperatures to rise to almost 100 degrees. Most summers you wouldn’t need an air conditioner, but her summer in the room she did. She had to settle for cold baths. After her bath she returned to her bed, stripping it of the duvet. She lay nude with the box fan blowing over her and picked up her library book. Jane Eyre. She had disliked the book when he brought it to her. She didn’t like ghost stories. Nothing could be as strange or demonic as real life. But she had just found out the ghost in the story was not a ghost at all. Rather it was a wild woman kept in an attic. She wished that she could find ways to sneak out of her room and create chaos the way the wild woman did. She wished
she could find ways to sneak out of her room. She read for a little while until she noticed the streaks of light growing pink. She knew he would be in her room soon and she didn’t want to be nude when he got there. She placed the book back on top of her dresser and pulled clothes out of the dresser. She put on a dingy red t-shirt that read “Bay to Breakers” and a pair of too small pink cotton shorts. He never gave her underwear. He didn’t think she needed it. She had just smoothed out the duvet when she heard the creak of the wooden stairs leading to her room. She lay under the blanket quietly and faced the wall as he unlocked the deadbolt on the door. She would exchange no words with him. When he was finished he remained in bed with her. She again turned to face the wall. A chasm was created in the comforter between them and the air from the box fan blew lightly underneath. She focused on the breeze, trying to forget the heavy breathing of her captor next to her. Trying to dry the moisture between her legs. Trying. But it was no good. She closed her eyes and imagined herself far away from her room. Back in the dorm room with the roommate she had hated so fiercely. Back with her parents on the cheesy family vacations to Yellowstone. Back to a world where she could carelessly roll her eyes at things she didn’t want to do. She fell asleep to visions of mall food courts. When she woke, Jane Eyre was gone from her dresser. She hadn’t finished it. She made up her own ending. Where the wild woman left that rich guy and took the pretty little girl with her. Who cared what happened to the tutor? Why should the tutor be the focus of the story?
Notes on Deirdre Jessica B. Weisenfels Perhaps her theory on the poetics developed as she stared at the ceiling. Perhaps she was eight or nine. And stared at the ceiling so long that, in the totality of her latter years, she would still see the shapes she knew then. She had not become a poet, however. Instead of making poems, she had made dresses for fine ladies in Oklahoma oil-towns. And dainty doilies for herself. Her mother had given her hands instead of words. She had early fled the compound of insane brilliance in which she had been raised near the smelter in South Town. She had poured her life before a man who loved her—a libation to his virtue. Had her manner of speech been noticed by a poet, however, there may have been a few lines somewhere on the play of light in her near-lilac eyes. Standing in the waning light on the back patio of her fine home with her infant great-grandchild at her hip and among a host of her offspring, Deirdre conjured the appearance of some sea-eyed nature goddess. “They’ve discovered a rag with something on it about Jesus having a wife,” the rusty Texas accent of her husband hit her ears, and she thought slowly about the yellow of his eyes. He was the only man she’d ever known with yellow eyes. And the excellence of that contrast within the frame of his mahogany face reminded her again that his ancestors had roamed the desert, let their women own the houses, and fought the white man with breathtaking valor. It was pride she felt when he spoke. “Oh. And what have they said on it?” She stared at sensible flats beneath her long skirt, and shifted her great-grandchild to her left hip. “They will never accept it. There will be more lies on facts. More disruption of the educational system. More cognitive dissonance,” her oldest granddaughter flashed a micro-expression of glee as she pronounced the words. She was a good kid—and smart. Something of a damned guinea fowl when it came to men, though. “Can you imagine what it will mean for the priesthood if they were forced to? They’d have to let the women in, then. Men around here might stop treating their wives like cattle. Might even
get Miss Sis married off again. She ain’t likely to be took by no man who wants a ruminant,” the old man teased. Deirdre spoke again, drawing lazy fingernail circles on the belly of the laughing baby on her hip, “Who says she means to be took by any man at all? Sis, where in the bible does it say for sure that Jesus didn’t have a wife? I don’t remember seeing it directly. They told me when I was young that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. Turns out they lied about that poor woman for centuries.” “Ah. That is the fault of Saint Augustine, who lived many of his years with a concubine and their children, if memory serves. I have heard sermons and read some Christian apologists on the matter of Christ’s alleged marriage, but I recall no direct biblical quote that would not require some pretty serious imposition,” again Deirdre admired the spark of brilliance that issued from her granddaughter’s odd features when she knew she had spoken well. “You see, Jack? That bastard drunk ex-stepdaddy buys her a dictionary because she’s four and asks too many questions. Teases her about her music and books.” “That’s what happens when you educate the womenfolk around here,” he winks his yellow eye at Sis across the patio. “We need to get you a dictionary. We’ll turn you into your aunt and cousins, too. Just you watch. No trailer park for you, baby bunting,” Deirdre swayed and addressed the ten month old child on her hip, squeezing the plump cheeks beneath the blaze of cobalt eyes. Deirdre turned her attention back to Sis, and drank in the moment of pause in which the young woman looked rather strangely at her grandmother and the baby—then turned her head toward the sound of her own school age children in the yard. The mannerism was familiar, and Sis’s grandparents both braced themselves for some comment outside the context of their own narratives. “What, Matriarchy? Egalitarianism? No. Difference. Otherness.” “They will always misunderstand you or think you are hysterical. It is only human history,” Deirdre replied, crossing the patio to bestow the baby upon her aunt. “I’ve said my piece and counted to three,” Sis replied, returning to the oft-referenced language of the family bond and the shared text of experience to lighten the mood. This was also her
“She’s made up her mind, don’t confuse her with the details,” Deirdre lit her face with a smile, knowing she had spoken well in her own father’s words—and that the child of her child and her husband would hear the echo of him in her. She patted the baby on the head and disappeared behind the door of her fine house to fetch a blanket. It would be getting cold soon.
Cirrus (pencil and watercolor) Talia Blanton
Award Winning Poetry
Lizzie Staci Miller 1st Place, Poetry I told them about violent teal swirls about the way my brain goes all slinkle dinkle they manifest a white paper cup and give me the pink pill they peeled back the tarpaulin and dropped me in the tub my fists clench and the teal swirls turn to purple pulses slowing each second until the bucket drops more bath water on my dry head and the hair sticks to my neck and it is so cold I can’t see but I hear the faucets dripping dropsdripping drops in other baths the cat in my brain taking to his scratching post a shiver from a tub far across the room I know it is a man I’m glad that I can’t see but knowing it is a man my face turns redgreentealagain because my face is teal again I can see the colors the teal is new, the glitter is from always does glitter exist outside of eyeglitter? I can’t remember but I expect not Then the pink pill kicks in and the tubs are gone and I am in the pill dream again and there is music that nauseates playing from a storm drain a book that is a box with halfholes in the sides inside the box are scraps of papers, cards box contents spill onto the duvet I can’t put them back in the box so I scream until someone helps me. She is
wearing a mask, cleaning with bleach handing me a black baby and saying he is mine I know he is not mine, she tells me to knit him booties help me I scream help me not dream then my arms sprout oily black feathers and I am awake The next I remember is the windowbench I have been here a long while, not supposed to speak or look away, the pill must have made me though, while I was away from my brain, for there is a cut like a potato sliced open for butter high on my cheekbone and I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know when it happened but the teal swirls darker right above it
Riff on Brathwaite’s “Bread” Tim VanDyke 2nd Place, Poetry
Slowly the white dream wrestle(s) to life hands shaping the salt and the foreign cornfields the cold flesh kneaded by fingers is ready for the charcoal for the black wife
and westward the desert drops its temperature a hawk swooping for its prey, a white rabbit whose blood freezes as the shadow passes over The dream becomes tougher. settling into its shape like a bullfrog It is hungry. The iris is alone the only green in the room, but you are hungry, so learn to eat. The edge of the knife that is plummeting out of the night sky knows how to eat and the white rabbit knows how to eat. The night is settling into its shape as an anatomy vivisected, its pieces left in the soil, this scarifice this abject bread left to rot on the wayside— it, too, knows how to eat.
The dream of the soil itself flesh of the god you break
flesh spoiled, the rot overtakes you the hawk overtakes you and the green in your eye rides proudly on his beak and your body is rolled, rolled into life into life w/out dream
Magdelena (mixed media) Talia Blanton
Dog Gone Staci Miller Little brindle bitch took faded green check tore it up She done gone and doggone done it And blackspotted feet little sister wants explanations gesticulations something other than pernicious loneliness So she turns her black spots to Master
Sunwise Staci Miller Tyrannical Titan dwarfs me out and my sister sees my skin and asks what the red dot is and I tell her and sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s scared But what if you're wrong? and I'm better safe than sorry than sore than burnt
L'ancienne Campagne Christy Neu Prolific sunken railroads Venerated. Like a wake or wound or war-abound in hallowed memories drawn from bicycle chains. The home with my motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s trousseau. Round bales in the evening sun. And the drums from the stadium pound frisson in abandoned malls. I push a yellow sentence from the bag And it brings me here. These lives of rainy cosmic days so rarely spark a flame.
Sunday Mourning Christy Neu Cardinals flit in yesterdayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s snow Blood on fresh paper The heart beats, palpitates- stalls When we get there It moves. Red piping Navy suit Too early for ringing Too late for welcome It boards the next train. There is still a little sin behind the ears
Divorce Normal C.W. Post woke with the sun birds combed dapper gray hairs and scattered morning dew each morning due is another same as the last normalâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;one kooked out hussyâ&#x20AC;&#x201C; sized for cement galoshes and marched to the salty and mean for dreams in a kelp bed and friends among fish
Flashbulb Trail C.W. Post they don't care about the birds the members of his band sunk back in suede chairs, counting cash and secret places to stuff it in never giving notice to the changing trees only the drive, log of concrete miles must have been ninety of those miles someone asked about a flock, the birds are of migration, not interested in frozen trees or the speed of the bus carrying the band southward bus, bound for an inn to sin a while and spend some cash early morning bowl burns to cash buffet breakfast then bus then more miles next city has brighter lights built in and spikes on top of signs to deter the birds city of excess, and humble bars to welcome bands there are no trees ashy land doesn't grow trees but produce much cash cash produce shitty bands to play butt rock, draw ugly smiles that ever look up and notice the birds never look up for something to believe in empty space for mindless music to fill in sing about sex, not about trees write one hundred tweets, none about birds give them the graveyard or give them the cash one dollar for every mile fuck them and their shitty fucking band
spend Christmas in a closet, bent spoon and rubber band plenty of no-talent hacks to stand in they gave them one, they took ten miles we save their place under the budding trees nothing helps, not even the cash going back south, with the moving birds one shitty band, many shitty miles south opened up to let the birds in alive among the trees and stacks of cash
One for the Grand Kids C.W. Post full moon phase a lunar pit blue like the brain when it walks to the other side of the sun web weavers know we howl in the hollow tube of the water tower and you'd better climb to the top or be called prissy or be called weird blotter tab taped to a carnival ticket allocated across the group not named fuck givers
Riff on Ginsbergs “Witchita Vortex Sutra” Tim VanDyke Kansas! Kansas! Shuddering at last! Thy sins are forgiven, Witchita— The light falls briefly into the vast vats of your feeding troughs— Transparent columns the buildings framed in black pillows of smoke fall into and I am all that is left. Of Kansas. I soothe myself with a radioactive salve meant to bring the boils to a point. The light falls briefly into open gullets of rich men they close around Kansas and the wheat glows.
Horace the Hoarse Horse Rocky Ward The force of Horace the hoarse horse’s cursed chorus flourish forged a course forwards towards us poised before the horrid scorched shores of moist forest floor thorns. Morris the glorious tourist florist tortoise joined us to ward us more or less for a purpose assuring us of course that a hoarse horse’s accursed coarse chorus couldn’t force our choice to course forwards towards the horrid scorched shores of moist forest floor thorns.
Chin to Cheek with Your Baby Cousin, All I Think is You Jessica B. Weisenfels tomorrow when you're home again I'll tell you all about it how I shook in purple waves and pushed at fading borders how I loved the sick puppy all summer and it still died how the moments are in the small fires that light your knowing I wait until a slower time to speak the years I smoothed honey on my tongue I see your face in burning corners how I could wind you in my body our second parabolic spiral I map the way we live as lines the crumble of my bones the softness of your small way the number of times you'll change your mind about me
A Thing Devoted Jessica B. Weisenfels there is trouble in the question of the moving whole in parts how we slam the broken killdeer and say "if I am from them I will return to them" the need is in the texture the difference how I remember every small thing I pull back my eyes pulse under earn the holy moment of poor terrible heart if I had the instinct to make the shredded breath to pour the ragged wanting of leaving it alone we would burn it down and drink the ash in dresses eat poor terrible hearts wonder in broken sound about how will we kill when we are out of woods to burn
Workingman in Southtown, I Hear You Jessica B. Weisenfels pour out in rivulets the orphan eyes of our procession the matricide of all that time on composite picture postcard of wheat we grew in stardust to eat the flesh of mortals or moralize our doom in the wasted life
choice becomes a softer hand with which to pour the tea to levitate in participles break quilting bars on backs back bars on quilted breaking of castigated for goddess praying forms in voice the song from back-wood altars about how it comes to nothing
One Night Stumble Sasha Yedrysek Bro, I don't care what your name is. I don't care what you want to be when you grow up, since you clearly haven't yet. Neither have I. I don't care how many siblings you have. I don't care how much you hate them for giving you that scar on your chin. I don't care about your Oedipus complex anymore than you'd care about my Electra complex on top of my OCD with schizo-affective characteristics don't ask. I don't care about your first pet, Half & Half, or that he was so fluffy upon adoption that it took a month to tell whether he was a cat or a god--doggone, another Freudian slip! I don't care that your mother was a philosophy professor until a few years ago when she genuinely took an arrow to the knee from your brother while they were hunting together. You still see the blood now and then, and I could care less. Broski, I don't care that your idea of the perfect date is take-out tacos before you take me home and introduce me to all of your Emotional Introvert friends over Xbox Live, even though I already know most of them. I don't care that sometimes when you run for too long your right knee gives out and you have to limp the rest of the way like some beautiful creature from a "Resident Evil" game gone horrible right. I don't care that you waited to attempt suicide until just before Halloween so you'd have a modest reason to ask somebody how to tie a noose. I don't care that you still have the noose. I don't care that Half & Half ate your homework more times that your teachers would believe until you brought your principal snapshots of the damage that occurred when you left your little fluffy demon home alone for too long. I don't care that it then became a valid excuse for not having your homework, although that was pretty damn funny. I don't care that you tried piercing your own ear when you were called a sissy in the fourth grade. I don't care that the pain made you sick and you never lived it down. Broseph, I don't care that you find smartphones to be the latest development of the Tribulation, driving wedges between humans like firewood so that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re always together and never together. I don't care that you wish that all international disputes were settled
through one round of a sport agreed upon by electoral vote, both to give patriots a real reason to watch sports and to eliminate the threat of war - seriously, what would they do, ping-pong us into oblivion? I don't care that your little sister thought for two years that WTF stands for "Wow, That's Funny" and was firmly reprimanded by your father, who secretly laughed afterward. I don't care that you derive divine meaning from James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" simply because he was Irish, like you. You didn't understand a single damn bit of it, but I did, and you don't care, either. I don't care that you aren't racist until somebody blurts a prejudice - then you're against everybody. I don't care that your country cousin can't afford a lawn mower, so he bought three goats, and they do the job better than any hunk of eco-freak metal and terror ever could. Broham, I don't care that your weird combination of Irish and Mediterranean heritage gave you an equally weird chest hair formation resembling the Eye of God nebula. I probably don't care that you fell in love with me four minutes ago, which was approximately (carry the seven...) one minute after we met, mostly because you won't tell me yet. I don't need to know - we can take turns carrying the seven on the way to my apartment. I don't care that your idea of art was mostly inspired by "American Beauty" because you can't help but wonder what was in that plastic bag before it suddenly became empty and useless, like you, like me. I don't care that you're afraid of clowns. I don't care that your uncle was a mean drunk who abused you before you were born. I don't care that you spent millennia searching for love like a lie in a hate stack before realizing that your friends are faceless, your heart is a cheese grater, your lips are chapped, and your words are as hollow as our skulls right here, tonight. I don't care that you are an amalgamation of desperation and apathy that probably has a name but doesn't want it. I care that you stopped caring long before I learned how to start, and you wondered why long before I forgot how. And now I care that you are a negative distance from me and we are defying physics in the only way that we know how. And tomorrow, bro, I won't care that I'll never see you again.
Thorns (graphite on paper) Martin Newman
Alexander Pope, a Political Poet Lindsay Miranda In 18th century London, hundreds of years before the hairstyles of Hollywood starlets would create controversy and scandal, one young lady’s lock of hair would generate a social disturbance which resonates even to the present day. During a fashionable London party, a lock of hair was absconded from Arabella Fermor by the audacious Lord Petre. Although it was requested that the gentleman return it, the appeal was denied. Throughout the unpleasant social fracas which followed, John Caryll, a mutual friend of both families, requested that Alexander Pope “write a poem to make jest of it” in order to calm the dispute (Hyman 406). However, while the poem would succeed in pacifying a scandal, it would also facilitate the creation of a political controversy that would entangle Pope. Jacobitism is described by the Oxford English Dictionary as “The principles of the Jacobites or adherents of James II and his family; adherence to or sympathy with the Stuart cause” (Jacobitism). While a Protestant King was in power, this was a dangerous viewpoint to hold, however Pope was amongst those who felt that someone of the Stuart line should have retained the throne of England. The title of his The Rape of the Lock may have even presented a political disposition. Erskine-Hill describes that the “image of rape, violent seizure of what belonged to another, was used by both the Williamites and Jacobites, though more often by the latter” (125). It was undeniable that Pope possessed some very controversial political ideas. Pope held strong allegiance to Francis Atterbury, the “leader of the English Jacobites before their plot broke in 1722”, even going so far as to testify for him in a court trial (Erskine-Hill, 127). Atterbury’s own “Jacobite connections eventually led to imprisonment in 1720 and exile to France” (Radcliffe). Although Pope was not imprisoned or exiled, he is depicted as having felt that he were at risk for such an action (Erskine-Hill, 134). In a time period that frowned upon any religious belief outside of the Anglican faith, some considered that Pope had made subversive political commentaries. The Jacobite unrest of the time of the poem’s five-canto version, combined with the knowledge that
Alexander Pope was a Roman Catholic, led to official interest in the poet’s political leanings (Erskine-Hill, 131). While this may have been a factor for many readers who analyzed the poem, it is indubitable that more powerful readers had also taken notice. Consequently, the entire poem itself has long been thought to possess greater significance than what is present on the surface. Pope himself may have perpetuated this kind of thought when he constructed and anonymously published A Key to the Lock, which has been recognized as an attempt to deflect circulating reports of dangerous political ideology within the poem (Erskine-Hill 134). If Pope were to be viewed as guilty of political subversion through his poetry, then The Key allowed him to create the kind of political sedition he would be guilty of. However, while the Key allows for varying types of political ideas, it does not present any genuine truth in what ideas might truly underlie the cleverly constructed poem. The Rape of the Lock exists as a mock-epic, which essentially allowed Pope to ridicule both the subject of his poem and the practice of grandiose political epics. Although the poem was birthed as a crafty portrayal of a young lady’s hair being impermissibly cut, the poem is essentially “contrived to remind us of historical and political matters” (Erskine-Hill 130). Rather than covering an affair of state, or making direct commentary on any political figure, Pope seems to content himself with an elaborate exposé on stolen hair. For readers of the present time, alongside readers of his own time, it seems unlikely that such a great genius should be happy with this kind of subject matter. While gleefully mocking, even the machinery of the poem allows readers to believe that there must be some hidden meaning beneath the surface. Pope explains in a foreword directed at Miss Fermor that the machinery within the poem are “the Deities, Angels, or Dæmons” (Pope). In The Rape of the Lock, these deities are revealed in the form of Sylphs. However, while deities are expected to possess power, the authority of the sylphs is almost as airy as the constitution of their forms. Although the sylphs attempt to influence and guard Belinda, they are essentially incapable of altering the course of human action; nor have they the power to prevent her hair from being cut. Yet, powerless though they may be, Pope’s Sylphs may present a greater function or meaning than to merely aid in plot mobility. Pope’s Key to the Lock offers several ideas of
what they might represent, however, if there is a true representation in play, might not they best represent the Jacobites themselves, who were powerless to aid a disinherited royal line? While it is impossible to fully determine from Alexander Pope what he truly intended in writing The Rape of the Lock, it is undeniable that he was a great thinker of his time. While there may be no political meaning derived from the poem, or the key that followed, Pope had the foresight to safeguard himself from the potential risks that his poetry could create. Rather than allowing himself to be controlled by his creationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s potential unruliness, he retained control for himself. That, within itself, is perhaps the greatest political commentary on the time. When monarchs were instituted and deposed, and royal lines might have been easily disinherited for lack of legitimacy, Alexander Pope was king of his poetry. Works Cited Erskine-Hill, Howard. "Alexander Pope: The Political Poet in His Time." Eighteenth Century Studies 15.2 (1981). JSTOR. Web. 03 October 2011. "Jacobitism." Def. 1. Oxford English Dictionary. 2011. Print. Pope, Alexander. A Key to the Lock. Or, a Treatise Proving, beyond All Contradiction, the Dangerous Tendency of a Late Poem, Entituled, The Rape of the Lock, to Government and Religion. London: Printed for J. Roberts, 1715. The Rape of the Lock Home Page. University of Massachusetts, 18 Feb. 1997. Web. Oct. 2011. --- The Rape of the Lock and Other Poems. Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, 18 Oct. 2003. Web. Oct. 2011. Radcliffe, David H. "Bp. Francis Atterbury (1662-1732)." English Poetry 1579-1830. Virginia Tech. Web. 09 Oct. 2011.
Jay Gatsby and the Nostalgia That Kills Staci Miller At the end of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby many readers are left feeling that Jay Gatsby is murdered unjustly due to his supposed involvement in the death of Myrtle Wilson while those who should be punished are let off without punishment and allowed to continue their perfect lives. While it is true that George Wilson is maliciously lied to so he believes Gatsby to be Myrtle’s killer and that the deceiver, Tom Buchanan, does so to keep his life intact, much of the blame can also fall to Gatsby. Gatsby is so enamored with the idyllic past in his mind that he is ignorant to the downfalls of the world he has entered into. Gatsby is obsessed with the task of not only winning Daisy’s love back, but of erasing everything that has happened since they loved each other. He has a vision of an idyllic history where he was a wealthy upstart who gets to marry the Southern belle who stole his heart. Unfortunately for Gatsby, when he met his Southern belle he was still a poor soldier working his way up the ladder. He expected his belle to wait for him because their love was true and pure and destined, but he couldn’t see that the woman he chose to fall in love with was incapable of any of those things. When Gatsby comes back to claim his love, his vision is so clouded with the fog of the past that he cannot see the person Daisy has become. She rarely speaks of her toddler daughter. She ignores most of the world outside of the lavish home she shares with her wealthy husband. She only cares what the people outside of this home are saying about her, not what is actually going on. She knows of her husband’s affair with a low class woman from outside the city, yet has no means of punishing him outside of leaving him (which she would never do so as to preserve her lifestyle). Daisy is an opportunist and a cynical, self-centered woman. This combination creates the hurricane of destruction that is Daisy Buchanan. When she reunites with a man who loved her long ago, she seizes the chance to do to Tom what he has been doing to her since the week they were married: take a lover and make it obvious. She doesn’t realize that for Gatsby the attention she awards him has a deeper meaning: that while Gatsby has spent his life pining for Daisy she has been doing the same. Gatsby is ready to rewind
the clock and get married on her parent’s porch where she grew up. He wants to erase everything that has happened in Daisy’s life since he left her and create a life in which none of it ever happened. Of course this is impossible but when Nick tries to point this out to Gatsby, Gatsby is adamant that he can do it. Daisy is not so willing to erase her past though. She knows how difficult it would be to start again, what scandal it would cause with those she so loves to be admired by. She does love the life she has with Tom, even if she may not love Tom himself. Gatsby is oblivious to this, however, and when he begs Daisy to tell Tom she never loved him he is shocked she cannot do it. For Gatsby it would not be enough if Daisy loved Tom once and now loves Gatsby again, he needs her to have never loved anything about the life that was lived between their two meetings. He needs her to have paused her emotions in the past with his. Nick is keen to the true intent of Daisy. He knows, in the end, that Daisy will go on “conspiring” with Tom, that Daisy and Tom will continue to use those around them for their own purposes. This is never more apparent in the novel than Tom, seeing an opportunity to have himself without a mistress (Myrtle having just been killed by his wife in Gatsby’s car) and to also rid his wife of her lover by at the very least revealing the owner of the car to the police, but also, in a play so deviously constructed, nurturing the seed of homicidal hatred in George Wilson. Gatsby has every opportunity to flee his undeserved punishment. He has connections with powerful people, money to burn, and the fact of actual innocence on his side. But unlike Tom and Daisy, Gatsby is so little an opportunist that he does not even take advantage of those rightfully his. He is convinced that Daisy loves him, that she is ready to leave Tom and start her life over with him. He has sacrificed himself for her so she cannot deny him. Even as Daisy is preparing for a move far away from the home across the river from Gatsby’s castle, Gatsby is dreaming of a future steeped in the past and of the woman who belongs there. He cannot sense his impending doom as he tries to relive the summer in the pool though the leaves are already falling.
Weathered Talia Blanton
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