PHOENIX LITERARY ART MAGAZINE
Art Terry Conkin
Cover: Spheredive Photograph by Larry Maloney
13 20 25 27 28 10 11 19 24 30-31
Photography Terry Conkin Jeff Gunther Georgia Nagle Joe Stewardson Jack Rose Jay Kaiser Larry Maloney
2 3 4 6 7 9 12 15 18 23 32 16-17
Poetry Lee Walker c. cornils Jeff Callahan m Victor R. McMahan Jim Elser Katherine Rubenstein Smith Zayna Wilson Barbara Jaekel
2 5 2 5 26 7 8 14 24 26
Prose R. Henri Marius Thomas Killian Victor R. McMahan Carolyn Linville Laurie A. Brink We will consider unsolicited articles, manuscripts, art and photos at the beginning of each quarter. ®Copyright by The University of Tennessee. All rights retained by the individual con tributors. Send to Phoenix, 11 Com munications Building, 1340 Circle Park Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996-0314.
Thom as Killian & Jan Thom pson Karen Jack James Large Hallie M urrey
3 17 12-13 21-23 29-31
Co-Editors Photography Editor Poetry Editor Prose Editor
Untitled In this cold morning grey The house ticks in anticipation Of daybreak and downstairs 1 think the fire Could be coaxed into play again. The fern shivers in the window Glad to be inside too While the sun watercolors I shiver with what Insomnia has graced me to see: Maybe the trees are brushes, Maybe they are watercolor Maybe the sun just sings along. Lee Walker
Some Nights Some nights the life blood surges through My veins And seduces me to listen To its oceanic song. Keeping time to time Ticking on the peeling plastered wall Above the dark lump That is a coffee table By day. And restlessly the singing tide Tosses me about On creaking bedsprings, 'til I wonder when theyâ€™ve Last been oiled. A lanky gnarled hand
Silhouette of a barren tree Strokes the covers rhythmically Reaching through the moonlit pane. The cracks in the ceiling Are aimless roadways In some miniature Graniteless city Of a different time That is not mineâ€” Driftwood that I am Someday shall be tossed To land to bask Upon the rocks, Or lie in soft warm Sand. c. cornils
M em ory I am in the lead car of a line of cars that creeps along the old country road like a snake on hot pavement. We turn into the church while a policeman stands in the middle of the road and gives us a military salute. 1 look out the back win dow and see that he is still standing erect, giving the long salute to the rest of the followers. As 1 walk into the yard, the marble slabs and the sky blend together as one. They are not the gray of suits, but the grey of ashes and soot after a piece of wood has been scorched and burned. I sit under the awning and look around at all the faces that 1have known since childhood. These faces, once smil ing and full of life, are now fixed with blank, painted expressions. It is the mid dle of November, but there are flowers everywhere. I can see the leafless fingers of the trees reach to the sky as if to bring something back that is gone forever. She loved flowers, her friends, and her family. All are here but still this day does not seem like her; she deserved bet ter—much better. As I stand up to leave, the friends all part to let my family pass. I look at them with their innocent, child-like faces and wonder when it will be their turn. She has been dead for ten years, but I still remember my grandmother. R. Henri Marius
No one speaks tonight in the mountains Everything is still and quiet as on That first day when you held me In your arms And wonderedâ€”perhaps aloudâ€” What this tiny vestige This new baby boy Might become one day Something like a chill must have hung In the air Did I cry and wet my Diaper Dans? Perhaps sensing even then that Whatever it was Would not please you Would not be good enough For your boy.
Ms. mother earth is Drinking mulberry muscadine wine from Her earth shoes toasting pine needle eaters And boiled kelp eaters. Pretending to know wine and the soma. She soma kinda 3 and 20 Baking blackbirds in the sky. She thinks Gestalt is the closure wearing. I bet she eats the cork. Lee Walker
Daddy, 1 lost something back there I'm not sure I'll ever really know What it was Just that it's gone Maybe it was some bright-eyed child Who wrote with both hands Who wanted to be an astronaut Yet fell from the heavens With the crunch of a collarbone Not fully developed Who put the dog in the freezer To keep him safe from the rain Who played in the sawdust heap When you told him not to And stepped on a rusty nail. The fireflies are out tonight Each fuzzy insect yielding its sentry And singular flash Into the hot August night: I guess they know more Than we ever will About keeping the darkness away And 1 wonder how long you and I Can go on Pretending there's nothing Between us "I guess I'm not much Of a daddy," you often say But you're not always right. Jeff Callahan
Proud Bird, Native America Once a proud bird walked the land peace and kinship hand in hand, celebrations of dance displaying his feathers; but all men must live, all men must weather. From the great water poured a cow's milk carrier of plague, pox, gunpowder, upon our forest it left worms that digest human flesh; proud bird fought, proud bird lost. Out of his ashes came mockingbird, INDIANS forget not what you were remember your dance, sunrise, land that is gone; I the old have lost time and now will have final peace I go the way of brother eagle. The young must learn a father's mistakes, fly away from white acid rain from them only alcohol falls; Remember where now one sun rises once many sons rose, I hear the mockingbird cry stop! MILITANT! but how could I, now the last proud bird must die. Victor R. McMahan
Five Days, Islamorada 16 March
These are the null hypotheses: Islamorada the number of seabirds on Islamorada Islamorada equals -the pelicans fly so close to the number of those on Duck Key the rippling sea-streaks of green and red sea, the silver-thin barracuda at Pennekamp reef hiding the coral, the stone-hard living coralare the same average length and palm fronds waving and shining as those swimming machete-like off Marathon on the gulfside breeze. The sun comes clear and direct in this salt-cleaned air. And the clouds purple and heavy fly from the south like galleons bearing the rain of this millenium, rain for these salt and sand-parched shores. And the pelicans fly so close to the horizon under darkening skies in Islamorada. 17 March The newest edition of 50-foot yacht floats quietly at the dock, gently ringing its halyards just so you can look up from your Journal and see nothing but stars. The taste of gin and tonic makes it simple to believe that nowhere children sleep restless with newspaper for pillows. 18 March Towards the horizon, the green-shrubbed rows point towards the pickers, stooped, edging like a shadow down the fields. In their bright dyed shirts, they seem liable to be picked themselves by some greater hand and placed in long white boxes for storage. This, of course, is what really happens.
magrove and gumbo groves are randomly distributed through the sawgrass river of the Everglades The laws of statistics make their predictions; the laws of swamp and sea and air make certain that you can't believe that the world gives regard to the central limit theorem. 20 March The stars, burning suns, spin recklessly above these rippling waters dropping light like salt. -these stars have no reflections, they dive into the waves and float with the plankton, then sink, coming to light later as crystal sand-these stars fill this velvet hemisphere with a false coolness, not hinting at the angry tropical dawn to come. Jim Elser
Analogy of a Tired war Correspondent
by Victor R. McMahan
When they first saw the compound, it was nothing special; just another small pocket of resistance with guards that had to be killed. As they approached, guns clean safeties off, the air grew strangely tense. There was something different about this combat. Death lived here. The soldiers had felt her cold hand before and were not afraid. They knew, as all good soldiers come to know, that they would live to see the end. They had come to liberate death and had fought hard and paid high for every inch of ground they won. This was their second push into a place they did not want to be in the first place. They were weary yet ready for battle, for each fight brought them closer to the last, either through victory or death. The engagement was short compared to others. There would be few dog tags to collect and less letters to write, but for some reason they fought more fiercely than they had ever had to fight. There
Performance Under Pressure was a weak call heard in this place, yet no voices were spoken. It was a call to be free that grew louder by the moment inside their brains.. There was still one gun yet to be silenced. One soldier yet to rest for a while or forever. The others had ceased to fight. They had seen what beckoned and were stunned, sitting paralyzed by their worst fears. They had seen the very face of death's hell. The single soldier stalks his prey, the last kill for that day. He thinks, "He is very clever to hide, for I'm tired and the chase is no time for closed eyelids. Yet I
Jay Kaiser will follow; the day is young and my job not over." Across the corridor, as fat as the soldier could see, were iron double doors, black and set high off the ground. "He hides well here, where the smell of some foul odor also lives. It is the stench of a million smoldering battlefields. Why here? Is this not some large bakery for the making of a soldier's bread?" The rifle muzzle slowly opens one of the iron doors. Suddenly all the heat that is in hell rushes forward pressing the young soldier back. It was all that was left from the fire fueled by human
Terry Conkin life. "Oh my God," the soldier thinks, "these are the windows to Hades and the bones of Ezekiel lay at rest in this place." The vomit rising from his throat releases itself through his nose and mouth. He takes a deep breath, but the smell, the foul smell of burnt human flesh smolderÂ ing, chokes him more than his own vile disgorge. As he slowly crosses the door, a silent slam is heard in his heart. He is filled with hate, and now he must kill his enemy. "In which door are you, brave man camouflaged among the hundreds you could not spare even another day?
If only we had come one day sooner they would be alive and you dead." The rifle finally finds the right door. A shot rings out, then another, and another, and another, and another. The soldier uses one clip, then two, then three on his enemy. Yet he is only one body and one death. The mortal soldier does not have the power to avenge every death. He continues to shoot anyway; it helps. Outside, the other young, soldiers listen and understand the helplessness. Had they only known what happened in this dark place, the fighting would have
been more swiftly done. Their sergeant has found one frail child alive. The child does not speak; starvation has made a tender young meal of his toungue. The seargeant gives the boy his last drop of water. They walk, the boy in his arms, along a river bank. The water is still. Like millions before him the child passes over. With him, like all brave warriors who take their most prized possessions on their long journey from this world with them, he carries the last ounce of humanity left alive. The soldier has fulfilled his purpose.
Kinematics Movement is her goddess; she, movement's votary, The priestess of the fluttering grasses. Yet, being rarely outside, she is overawed By too much motion; it clamours round her head In greedy hymn, asking, she thinks, extravagant miracles Of her paltry leaps and slinking worship. Thus, she much prefers the carefully shut window (lest she be tempted by the maddening wine of falling leaves). Respectfully pacing out her reverent steps Upon the marble ledges. Still, haunted by that heavenly domain so far beyond Her reach, she fascinates us. When, in her frequent moments of sacrilege. She commits her fantastic horizontal laps To the motionless air. We consider our little cat's motion, that which She has become without evidence Of mass or force. Like a surprising wind fluttering through the stillest grasses. Katherine Rubenstein Smith
Fever Partially awake at a quarter past three. From the street a few passing cars mottle the bedroom wall into a mural of spinning light and dark sploches; the reflections, the waking echo of a bad dream. Hot and dizzy, I shove open the window. From underneath the rank scent of roses drifts upward, memorabilia of the last tenantâ€” decayed laughing woman tending flowersâ€” her sickly sweet smell blending into the shadows on the wall. Together they hold me in limbo, the emetic offspring of my every alert sense. An image dangles before me in the viscous air: Sleep emblazoning the interminable hours before morning comes. This, then, is the hour of salt sweat; when what is real and surreal intertwine sensuously, like damp hair clinging to my neck; when yesterday and tomorrow rest excruciatingly lanquid upon the present hour. And the last dream hovers, unforgettable. Katherine Rubenstein Smith
jTishediluring thfldsE 51. The completed Art anSI jrpose the university coull jms, yorkshops and offices. to dispose of them, quickly^ ler sitefs 1 kTh^ lieve liih; 3risc Itructed ^class\ Jar Lake e?ct d Q o r,t^
nans t|Te Triangl ■ed w o l t ^ lit for a prtj
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end of _ .BziC^cross the stre^.^vfatf the stately ^ ^ Irb se ^ OV&stands. Next door was the large McMillan'Ii^M Its orig^ o rig ^ a t^ w n er in the e.irly 1960s to be a home for thepdfesg its adjoiiiung, smaller home univer^fei^fllis sister donated her adiojjun Both1tooics horaiK were soon torn down by.4he.uniy>prsify,^add by.ihe,univ>ersify, atfd Hesjyi Hesss.®ll was w Built their p la * . ' '' At^the. Wm..of Mclrjfee ^V'enuy. w a ^ T f ^ ^ liV o a d leading to a circula 4 driveway and a grey stucco house with a toweffcHuge ^ a d e trees secluded t h c ^ ^ l i ^ t g ^ yrifpssor Hill,‘a faculty member whdsgrgW coifi in his garden along;'-'? Street. His family reluctantly sold the’B igh^^inged home, the lawn, and the garden to the univer^ii^^llte?IS ^’'*^ *'1 mo
entijil CoAfdex. •
Jt^jEofesso^^aughter^ved in a h o ^ ^ ^ w d o * '^ by universilv expan- ^ ^Mer neVhjH^me w a ^ ^ ^ & rKgd by •^chitect named Staubb, w ho, ^ ;ned the H ^ ^ c ^ e J ^ A |^ ^ « j i v e d irfchef%Si^ipl?ie, at the end ot Melrose^.” ihp, r | 0 ^ l f agoig&The university converted ^Bome w«io W er.her death. e'“Baufnann Built in 1929, it nrav hQUSf^ iversltysofficest O n c ^ d ^ i ^ i * W ® T ^ ^ - s w a l l o w i n g its^pl dbflh ^al]^, it now sta n d ^ ^ k e d , after uniyer^ity groundskeepei|i^ti: ■' ■ ■BHHnifViPiipnDCQ^iS^buildir^'fftM tiK rD U iiair^ .rroWn ^terioration!*^***'' v iu e re n u ra n u n .—
* alls living in in his his gn grandparents' home iri thai trwww n m JA^-yiBadrijlvdrfealls"^^ - j . .. ,Melrose . . ^ Still, he remembers livin S I IZ SrSfanSng a#*er*Afe ^ a i g «ays-«tf »asiopen to two-way traffic, and was lined ,f***>>6^'*ffif.rthe prettiest street intdwiu''^t'was open t( m y y ,.m a ijy more trees back thenJ h "beautifully kept yards! hdfe kilLed so many trees, we lost jhuge trees ir lit the Elm Blight in the^earl our yard and in the Hopecot ai^-gext door. . "There was very little traffi f was hard to b eliev ^ h at a r^ * p f homes art «fiat as tf yards was only a mile or so from downtown." Baurnann exp university expanded and the area lost its old beauty and solitude«„yi^^ u li gave up their traditional homgs y d -moved west, -along with",,^^ Knoxville. " '' ' ' As the years p ^ e d , the ® ulffT > n'hc Melrose Triangle became part forest that-grew about them. They, too, became scenery, as unobtrusive as m e' * lilac and maple that engulfed them. Brambles swallowed their porches, agei faded their colors, cracked and rotted their fine woodwork. But in the process of aging, the houses became part of campus, something more than old houses or ruined souvenirs of a time no one on the campus could remember, or even precisely imagine. To the students, they were the Red Building, the Grey Building, the Print ^^Shop and the C.D. Building. To the children and grandchildren of their builders, they were home. -T .K .
T h e Willing P atron by Carolyn Linville It was one of those inner city grocery stores on the verge of closing. Anyone who had the time or transportation to go anywhere else, did. The owners weren't making enough profit, they said. The residents had pro tested the closing, even a local chapter of the gray panthers had marched in the streets. Finally, the city fathers (there still were no city mothers) resolved the dilemma with a compromise; the store would remain open for another three months. Mothers with food stamps came here most often. Their young children tagged behind, their gaze often diverted to the shelves of cookies and candy that were (purposely) all too close to their reach. Old men and women on social security came to the store after the first of each month, buying the cheaper of the store's offerings. University students came whenever those much-appreciated, often-requested checks came from home. Anne almost belonged to the lat ter group. As Anne approached the automatic door, which didn't open automatically anymore, she could smell the pungent sweat 6f one of the local white boys as he danced through a martial arts step. He appeared spellbound, his eyes un focused, his moves unsympathetic. Old couples slipped by him quickly.
They didn't want to look at a living threat. Young black males watched his Kung Fu moves, were obviously unim pressed, and walked away. The boy was resolute, with a backdrop of window ads displaying the weekly specials he continued. Anne tried not to look, but she couldn't keep the image of his angry limbs out of her eyes. He made her feel small and frail. Anne hurried into the uncomfortable coolness of the store, grabbed an almost-crippled grocery cart and began to stroll the aisles. She considered toss ing her daypack filled with school books into the cart, but remembering that only a day ago someone had stolen her clothes out of tht dryer at the nearby laundromat, decided the pack was best left on her back. It was a relief to leave her work-study job, yet Anne always hated shopping in this store; an air of depression hung over the poorly stocked aisles. This was all part of a foreign world, or at least it was foreign until she returned to school, but it was her choice to return, as her parents casually reminded. As she passed down one of the outer aisles, a toppled column of pork and beans lay next to a few battered boxes of Sugar Smacks. Weaving down an inner aisle, she avoided the yellowish puddle of unknown origin that stained the blue
and white linoleum floor. Anne stopped for a moment, trying to remember if she had filled out a grocery list. She had intended to do so. Anne believed in lists and in being organized, although she was seldom organized and never made lists. She hunted through her daypack anyway, carefully checking through her books for the paper that didn't exist. Disappointed, she went on with her walk. The books were left open and scattered in the bottom of the cart. The delicate, leather-bound volume of Chaucer that had belonged to her grand mother was hurried under the new biology book. Anne draped the empty and formless daypack over her shoulder and continued. When she came to the start of another aisle,she could see an old couple dressed in old, heavy clothing. Everything they wore was dark-dark tweed overcoats, caps and stockings. They bent over the meat counter wrapped in a dismal shroud. The old man and woman reminded Anne of antique furniture whose varnish had blackened with age. In spite of the recorded music of the Ray Conniff singers that played unceas ingly throughout the store, Anne could hear the couple arguing about which package of reduced-for-immediate-sale meat they should buy. Anne hadn't meant to laugh, but she did. She always
had a way of laughing at inappropriate times, or so her mother had said. The old woman was wearing a hearing aid and apparently caught Anne's laugh. She turned in Anne's direction and shot her the kind of look that old people are so good at-the kind they give errant children who run across their newly watered lawns. Embarrassed, Anne picked up the nearest can and pretended to read the ingredients. Slowly, the woman turned back to her aging com panion. With a firm tug on his coat sleeve, the woman said "Come on father. It's time for us to go." The old man seemed to understand the situation. With slow, deliberate steps, the couple walked to the door. Anne noticed they walked slightly tilted toward each other. Outside the door, their dark clothes and shrunken bodies joined the night. Anne called herself "a real shit" for her laugh, but quickly forgot the inci dent. After all, it wasn't really her fault; she just didn't fit in here. She wasn't like these people. She felt that instinctively and was glad for it. If anyone was to blame, it would be her parents. "Damn them," she told herself. "Damn them for making me live like this. They should help me out now that I've gone back to school. It's not like the other times. I know where I'm going now. They'll donate to charities and buy candy from every little hoodlum that comes to the door, but they won't lift a finger to help me." Anne silenced her thoughts, but her anger quickened her steps until she stop ped at the meat counter, bypassing the steaks and going directly to the chicken. While she hunted over the drumsticks and thighs, her thoughts scratched in side her head, "I know they can afford to help—they still manage to go to Florida every year." Just as with other cold wars, the rift between Anne and her parents grew gradually. There were those subtle, yet hurting remarks, mutual disappoint ments, and a heavy load of guilt deposited on both sides. The turning point had come one Sunday afternoon. Anne was ushered into the kitchen. It was late afternoon, the day's last glow was reflected in the golden oak cup boards and framed by the yellow gingham curtains. Her family always sat in the kitchen. The living room with its formal white couch and champagne col ored carpet was reserved for guests. "Sit down Anne. Your father and I want to talk to you," her mother said. "Where is my father?" "He's out right now. Your brother's pitching a ball game this afternoon, so he went." "Isn't Mike getting a little too old for
baseball? He is 31 you know." "He plays for your father's company,' Anne's mother quickly defended. "It doesn't hurt your father's standing any with the big executives if Mike wins a game for them. You look a little pale, dear. Why don't you try to get a little more sun?" This was her mother's once-a-week comment. Once a week it irritated Anne. Looking at her mother's own leathery skin from too many summers in Florida, Anne stated, "I have no inten tion of looking like an aging alligator before my time." The comment struck its target. Her mother rose from the kitchen table and nervously watered the plants hanging over the sink. "Anyway," her mother finally con tinued, "your father thought it best that I talk to you." Anne remained silent. "We're happy that you're returning to school. . .that is, we hope you'll finish this time." Anne was turning the diamond ring she wore. She always did this when ex pecting bad news. The ring had been a gift from her mother when Anne broke off the engagement to that Air Force Lieutenant. "No woman should be without a diamond," her mother had said. Anne never understood. "Don't worry mother, things are dif ferent this time. I've decided to be practical." The word 'practical' caught her mother's attention, as she knew it would, and soon her mother returned to the table. "Your father will be pleased to hear that. What will you be majoring in this time?" "Liberal Arts." Again, Anne's mother left the table. Many times she couldn't determine whether her daughter was being sar castic or just plain foolish. Where did she get that sharp tongue of hers anyway? She had always taught Anne to be pleasant, just as her mother had taught her. "You know what's best." Her mother poured two glasses of orange juice and brought them back to the table. For all her 28 years, Anne had never liked orange juice. 'We're glad about your return to school, but I'm afraid we're not going to be able to pay for it this time." It was Anne's turn to leave the table. Carrying the glass of orange juice, she walked to the sink, poured the liquid down the drain, and failed to rinse out the glass. "May I ask why?" "Anne, you're an adult now, and your father and I are sure that you can take care of yourself."
A laugh started to form within Anne when she asked, "Can 1, Mother, can 1?" "May 1 help you?" Just as as she was about to say, "Yes, of course," she realized it was the butcher talking. Anne had been standing so long at the counter that he was concerned. "No thank you, just looking," Anne replied automatically. The butcher just frowned and walked back to the cooler. Just as she was about to leave the counter, she was aware of an older black man coming toward her. He was mumbling something while walking. Anne paid him little notice until he stop ped beside her, blocking her exit. "Hi there young lady. How are you doing this evening?" he blurted too loudly. "Just fine," she answered while look ing for the butcher or some other ally to get her out of this awkward situation. "Look here, young lady," the man insisted. Anne looked up from the counter and stared at the man. He seemed to be in his late fifties. Grey was intertwined with his black, curly hair. He was wearing a pair of dirty brown trousers and a plaid workshirt. When she saw his hands resting on the counter, she felt there was something familiar about them. They were large weathered hands, and his yellowish fingernails curled slightly over the tips of his fingers. She remembered no; they reminded her of her father's hands. Those large hands would pick her up and place her on his shoulders when they walked through the park or around the neighborhood. He chose her path, keeping her from the burrs and thorns and other things that prick at the skin. The man in the store was speaking to her again, "Yes, 1 saw you when you came in. You sure is pretty." "Th—Thank you," Anne stated. "You're a student aren't you?" Before Anne could answer he continued, "Yes, 1 can tell the students in here real easy," he boasted. Anne didn't have anything to say and began to think of how she could move away from this man tactfully. "It's real tough being a student, isn't it - -1 mean 1 bet you don't have much money." Anne began to worry about the money in her pocket; she was determin ed that her money wasn't going into this beggar's hand. Annoyed, but cautious, she answered, "I'm doing OK - - really!" She began to inch away from him. "Look here," the man commanded. Involuntarily, her eyes returned again to the man as she watched him pull a wad of tens and twenties from his workshirt pocket. The bills lay there.
limp and dog-earred in his hand, as he proudly displayed his treasure to Anne. She knew he was waiting for her to say something. Confused, the only thing Anne could think to say was, "That's very nice." "Yes, you sure is pretty," he repeated. "You need someone to be nice to you. I'd like to help you out - - you being a student and all. 1 got enough." He returned the money back to his pocket, but his hand then entered his pants pocket and a second, even more impressive roll of money was displayed. His eyes narrowed as he observed Anne. "I've got enough, and you need someone to be real good to you." He put the moneyless hand on top of Anne's and gave it a squeeze. Amazed, Anne found it a gentle touch, not unlike her father's. The touch seemed to draw her back into her childhood. Everything was so much easier then. She was lost in her daydream, and she could only vaguely hear the man repeating how good he would be to her if she only let him. He moved closer. "Come on honey, let's go pick us out a steak and get out of here." The closeness of his body brought her back to reality. She looked into the un familiar watery brown eyes and ashy face and pulled away from him. She could see a dangerous anger spread across his face. The hand with the money had now formed a fist. As she made her escape down the aisle, his words stung at her back, "You think you something special—you're just a tease, bitch! Just a tease!" The rest of the evening she spent cloistered in her apartment, trying to act normally, as if order and routine could squeeze out the memory of the super market incident. She tried to concen trate on her studies, but they all seemed irrelevant and she felt lost. Later that night in a dream, she could see the extended hand with the worn, dirty bills. But this time she could feel her own'hand reaching for the money. Noise from a cat fight downstairs spilled into the room and awakened Anne. She remained lying in bed, staring at the ceil ing. Slowly, Anne began to wonder if it would have been so bad to have allowed the old man to have been her 'patron.' The air was thick in her room and breathing became difficult. Disturbed by her questions and unable to find an answer, she got up, rinsed her face with cool water, had a glass of cheap wine, and later fell into an uneasy sleep.
Untitled Without anyOne male Hallelujah, I'm still happy no prince charming need save me from this dragon-infested world no more riding double going his direction my journey is important again I can sleep, eat, breath freely without anyOne male to tie me into a union with enough strings to strangle superwoman I've grabbed up the reins and decided to travel for awhile without anyOne male. Zayna Wilson
I'll not be destined to clean family bathrooms watch soap operas every afternoon and keep my little house shiny, shiny, shiny. See if 1 sit home and find masterful ways of decorating gingerbread men so the kiddies can have their after school, but not too close to dinner, snack. I won't And if marriage means these binds forget that, too I plan on being a WOMAN conquering society not linoleum skid marks. Zayna Wilson
A crazy wind came in off the ocean last night and rippled my skin like vinyl Parting my hair with an ambiguity that made me think of car accidents How the victims never look like you expect them to Either better or worse, but never what you expect.
and when the sun sets
I stood in that gelatine light of dusk surveying my own life and at last appreciated the absurd The wreckage was ripped and torn in ways that could never be made right again Whole pieces of me splintered and shot out into the night With the velocity of fish caught in the downstream. Feeling so blinded by sand and sea, I laid me down to sleep Aware of the vigilence of the birds soaring unencumbered overhead Secretly wishing this to be my fate in some other life To have eyes as black as onyx seeing and understanding everything. And in my dream I heard a voice soaring high above the pain and fear Drifting effortlessly out of the swelling void I looked into a mirror and saw my own lips moving A humid sphere of breath evaporated on the glass. Jeff Callahan
i think of you standing on the wharf waiting for the Greeks to pull in their lobster nets the wind is blowing the fog is settling you stroll along the pier Alone we strolled laughing there once as the mist settled on us like morning dew rolling in bed to the rhythm of waves drinking champagne for breakfast Hugging from the rock I watched you watch the ocean the seagulls danced with the wind until hunger drove them diving into the ocean you came to me to plant kisses seeds of love nourished by hidden tears of joy Hand in Hand two but one we left memories floating Everywhere when distance brings darkness pounding waves on the rocky shore I travel to these places in my dreams and the sun rises. Barbara Jaekel
T lie O b it Laurie A. Brlnli: My typewriter is humming in my ear, as 1rest my head on its keys. It's starting to drizzle, and I can hear the cars below slushing in the wet streets. Most of the reporters have left for the night. The on ly center of activity is the copy desk, as headlines are written and pages laid out. My city editor is nervously chewing on the top of his pen and staring at me. He wants to go home. Deadline and I are running a close race., I don't feel much like racing. But this is Leigh Flanery's obituary, and I owe it to her. S ervices for H ew s-P ress reporter, Leigh A n n F la n e r y , w h o died T h u rsd ay, w ill he 8 p.m . S a tu r d a y .. .
Died? That's not right, but you don't put suicide in print. God, it was a shock. Leigh and I worked together. We were friends, good friends. And none of us up here suspected. But people don't just plan things like that. I heard it's like an act of passion. Your head's not on straight, and well. . . But Leigh? Bright, intelligent, goingplaces Leigh? She was sort of the pet of the newsroom. I guess she was like one big bubble of enthusiasm, fresh out of Jschool, ready to save the world from itself. She seemed so happy. God, she couldn't have been too happy! But suicide? Not the Leigh that first came to the News-Press all wide-eyed and eager. No, that Leigh had changed. The street light shining through the window is casting a blue glow over the dark end of the newsroom. There's dust on the filing cabinets, a thin fuzzy layer. But Leigh's desk is clean. A circle of mourning carnations, blue from the street light, rests on her desk top. Her dictionary and stylebook are propped up by the phone. Humph, she was neat. Why Leigh? God, when did you change? Maybe I noticed the subtle dif ferences, but took them for granted. After all, reporting takes a lot out of you. Constant stress. Assignments com
ing one right after the other. Graveyard hours. Deadlines. The editor sees some young cub like Leigh, filled with excite ment trying to be another Woodward or Bernstein, and he uses her—uses her until she's so sick of writing, thinking, com peting, winning, she could. . .God, I feel sick. My stomach is churning over and over. My head is throbbing—a dull, deep pain. But, there's still the obit. Now, how do I describe her without get ting maudlin? She wouldn't have liked that. I guess for 22 she had a lot of con victions—to spread truth to the masses, expose crime, all those notions they teach in J-school but forget to tell you they don't always exist. At first I doubted if she really whole-heartedly supported anything. She just had the habit of always siding with the under dog—so much so that we called her Captain Avenger for a while. But equal rights, now that she got pretty heated about, and I guess it was a true passion. "I have the right to compete equally with men, to be as free as they are," she used to argue with Ray, the seasoned police reporter. Ray would sit back in his worn chair, puffing on a Camel like he was trying to breathe life into it. Then he'd take a long, deep drink from a cracked U.S. Marines coffee mug. "Well, Capt'in, ho now," he'd wipe his mouth with the back of his hand. "Compete with men. You?" a slight chuckle. "C'mon now. An' who says you ain't free? Hell, Lin coln did away with slaves, or didn't you learn that in college," he smirked. "Women just need to be at home, so a guy's got somethin' worth-whiled to come home to." Then he'd make some hand gestures suggesting a female shape and grunt with the Camel off to one side of his mouth. "That's not freedom. That's.. . .that's bondage." "Call it what you want. That's the way it's always been, and that's the way it'll always be."
"What an attitude. I know more enlightened Neanderthal men," she retorted, her face flushed. Ray had seen all the ways, just about, but this was one he couldn't fight with his fists and it frustrated him to death. "And you think equal rights shit will give you that freedom? Well, you're wrong. Dead wrong. You lady reporters are all alike, leaning on your sex like a crutch to get you 'in.' Well, you're wrong. You just try living a man's life. It's rough. Damn rough. It can kill you." But by then the Camel was just a stub, and Leigh had flitted out on some assignment. I never really knew if Leigh was a true-hearted bra-burner, or if ERA hid some other cause of hers, something deeper maybe. She never finished an argument with Ray. She'd just sort of leave him muttering to himself about when women were women. And she never spit out numbers or facts to prove her case. She'd argue some half-cocked speech about the oppression of the domineering male. All real nice and in voking, but it was like her mind and heart were elsewhere. But at any extent, her retaliations and banner-waving came long after her initial few months. In the beginning, she was eager to please and accepting. Every afternoon she'd come in and trip up to the city desk for assignments. That's eager; it's also suicide. Damn, there's that word. What I mean is no one likes to cover zoning commission meetings—they go on for hours. But not Leigh. She went for everything like a starv ing fish after a baited hook. No assign ment was too long or tedious. "1 want to learn," she said when she first started. "And 1 want to be good, really good, better than everyone. A real winner." It's starting to rain harder outside. Jim will be wondering what's keeping me. Hmmm, I can remember our wedding day. Leigh was there. But, now that I think about it, she didn't seem too hap py. She never smiled. No, it wasn't Cap tain Avenger. She stared off somewhere, and I thought maybe she was sick or pregnant or something. After my honey moon, she and I had lunch in her new apartment. She had been living at home with her folks. "Independence Day! You know, it's funny. I think I've waited forever for this day. I just knew I'd find my freedom here," she said, sitting in the freshly painted one-bedroom apartment. "But, I feel more hemmed in. Like a box sort of. Or maybe a rat in a maze trying to figure his way out. Maybe there isn't a
way out. Yeah, maybe this is all there is." "God, you're morbid as hell, Leigh. Why are you so depressed? Hey, this is the proverbial 'beginning of the rest of your life." You should be happy—ex cited! Are you on something?" But I knew she didn't go in for that sort of stuff. I don't think she ever even got drunk. Maybe she wasn't interested in artificial stimulants; might cloud her mind. Maybe she was banking on something better to hold her together. Or, maybe her parents were real religious. I'm not sure. I never met them. I did see their picture in a box in Leigh's living room. Their eyes were squinted from facing the sun, and it looked like the photographer was more interested in the tree beside them because they were almost out of the picture. Around the small room, she had begun hanging certificates of merit, souvenirs from school. A couple of trophies sat on the bare floor. A box of blue and red ribbons was pushed into a comer next to her parents' picture. "Didn't you ever get third place?" I asked noticing the absence of any yellow or white ribbons. "Oh sure. But I never kept them," she replied. Leigh was an achiever. It was obvious. She had a real competitive in stinct. Waiting for the competition's paper to be delivered, she'd pace back and forth in the newsroom, wringing her hands and talking to herself. "I know I didn't miss anything. God, 1 hope they didn't beat me on that story." Sometimes it sounded like a prayer. 'The News-Press was second in circulation, to the city's morning paper, and the editors kept a whip over us, pushing us to get it all. They put a lot of pressure on Leigh, pressure to learn, to be first and best, to move up. They saw she had great potential. . . "Hey Ryan. Deadline's coming up. You do remember deadline don't you. Get with it, will ya?" Speaking of pressure, my editor's voice has broken my trance, and I still have only two paragraphs done. I don't know what to say. What can you say? Leigh died. She did this and this. Was 22, with everything going for her, and died. The end. But I want to know why. I'm trying to be objective, but damn it's hard. I've got her bio file in front of me, and I feel like I'm suffocating with her memories crowding around me. Maybe it's just the humidity. I look out the large window, as streaks of last week's dirt wash away in the rain. Drop. Drop. Drop. Tears of rain hit the glass and slide down the pane. Leigh loved rain. She loved the out-
of-doors. When we got snowed in one night last February, she and one of the copy boys went sledding down the park ing lot ramp in an old rusty darkroom tray. God, so much ahead for her. Damn. But the last few months were dif ferent. Leigh was different. And 1 don't think I'm imagining it to rationalize her death. She started throwing up a lot, and I thought maybe she was pregnant. But she said it was nerves. She missed a couple of good stories and got called to the desk for it. She came back shaking with little beads of sweat clinging to her upper lip. She looked pale, like she'd just stepped off the roller coaster and left her stomach somewhere along the ride. We went out for a food run later that evening. I think it was raining then, because I remember the wet streets reflected all the street lights in my eyes. We sat in the car, waiting for the light to turn green when she volunteered, "I hate myself, I really do. 1 hate this part of me that is’so wrapped up in competing. Trying to be best. Winning. Dammit," she hit the dashboard with her fist. "All my life I've been running. Sometimes it's a race for a trophy; sometimes its away from something. But I never know why." The light changed, and the tires spun a little on the slick pavement. The blue tint of the city lights through the car window made her look like a manikin that had been undressed in a store window. All open and vulnerable, for everyone to see. She didn't win this race. I told her I understood what she was going through. We all go through it. Suddenly, all the dreams you had as a kid are too far to grasp. "You feel like I did when I left home," I tried to com fort. "Like a tree cut off from its roots. Sort of right-out-of-the-nest-syndrome. I felt that way before I met Jim. Like maybe there's a spot out there I'm sup posed to be standing on like an actor on the stage. But I'm not sure of my spot or what part I'm supposed to be playing. I didn't have any more dreams." "But you seem okay now. You're happy." "Leigh, I'm content. I like myself. Maybe you try too hard. The only per son you have to impress is yourself. Lay back and let things fall into place," I said. "What if they never do? What if everything stays in pieces and nothing fits together? All through school, I was led by the hand, sometimes by my pro fessors, sometimes by my dreams. But I don't have any more dreams, no goals. I don't want to do anything. I got what I thought I wanted, and, well, now what?
Well, it doesn't matter, being best you know 'cause someone will come along and be better. They always do," she said, absently looking out the window. What does it matter, being best? I didn't know. What else is there? I couldn't answer her. 1 felt akin to Leigh, because 1 felt I went through the same uncertainty. But I couldn't tell her how to deal with it. It's a personal sort of thing. Then as suddenly as she had flown in to the newsroom that sunny May after noon, she quieted. She stopped being eager for assignments. She started doing more and more assignments by phone. Normally, you do anything to get out of the office. Out of sight, out of mind. She didn't eat supper with the rest of us anymore. We all dismissed it. Every reporter goes through that stage when he's sick of rewriting press releases and covering stale news. When he wonders why he didn't go to med school like his mother wanted. When he can't bear the thought of being a 40-year-old reporter covering the library board. Leigh had been in the business over a year. It was her time for second thoughts. She started to look withdrawn. You know, sullen eyes with dark circles under them that even cover stick couldn't hide. "Hey listen, Leigh, why don't you come over to my place tonight. Jim's go ing to be out-of-town, and you can spend the night, and we can talk." We sat up most of the night. Leigh had it figured out that I married Jim to get out of a rut. "C'mon. I married Jim because I love him. Hey, that's what you need—a guy. Maybe you're sexually frustrated. Under-sexed, yeah, you're undersexed," I joked. She didn't laugh! "You think so?" she looked at me like I was some kind of noted authority. "I hadn't thought about that. Maybe I should . . .uh, well, you know, make love with a guy." "Well, they're the best ones to do it with, but you don't plan it out. Making love is sort of spontaneous." I didn't realize how naive she was. The later it got, the deeper our con versation grew. The beers were gone, Johnny Carson had passed, and Tom Snyder was finally leaving the air. Then we started to talk about the editors. "I hate competition; it's like a rotten spot on me that ruins the rest of me. They play on that. They think it's a good quality. They are driving me crazy." There was an old bitterness in her voice, and she didn't look at me, but stared into the dark corner of the room.
Now that I think about it, I don't believe it was the editors she despised. Maybe it was something they represented, or something they brought out in her. Maybe she needed something or someone to blame her disappoint ment with life on. I don't know. My head still aches. Lightning brightens the dark areas of the newsroom, as the rain beats on the long panes. It's the kind of night that makes your mind drift off somewhere and come back with all kinds of strange memories. More women are dying of stress and heart attacks. I read that somewhere, or maybe Leigh told me. Yeah, I guess it was Leigh. I can't help wondering if Leigh was fighting some personal war inside, and equal rights was justification for her confused energies. What made her do it? I keep run ning that through my head. I don't know if I'm more sorry for her, or wor ried about me. What if her private war is somehow mine too? What if her confu sion and self-doubt some day plague me? What if dreams don't ever come true? God, enough of this self-pity. But poor Leigh. She had so much. She had been so anxious, so set in her beliefs. So hopeful. Reality distorts; for Leigh, it destroyed. I guess I know now. Leigh's suicide wasn't an act of passion. It was merely the end of another race. . . S erv ice s fo r N ew s-P re ss rep orter, Xielgb A im F la n e r y , w h o d ied T h u rsd a y , w i l l he 8 p.m . S a tu rd a y at Oahw ood F u n e r a l Home. F la n e r y , 8 8 , d ied u n e x p e c te d ly T h u rsd a y n ig h t fo llo w in g h er s h if t at th e N ew s-P ress w h e re sh e w o r k ed as a g en er a l a ssig n m en t reporter. A g ra d u a te o f th e C ollege o f Com m u n ic a tio n s, F la n e r y b egan h er w o rk in M ay. M iss F la n e r y , a r e s i d en t o f B e r k sh ir e A p a r tm en ts, h eld se v e r a l a w a rd s fo r h er co lleg e w o rk , in c lu d in g a m em b ersh ip in th e C o lleg ia te S o cie ty of J o u r n a lis ts . She w a s an a v id su p p o rter o f th e E ^ual B;ights A m en d m en t an d cam p aign ed for i t w h ile in co lleg e. She w a s a m em ber o f th e T h ird S treet W om en’s Club an d l i b r a r y H eaders’ C ircle. M iss F la n e r y is s u r v iv e d b y h er p a ren ts, M r. a n d M rs. W illia m P. F la n ery ; b ro th er W illia m J r .’ g ra n d p a ren ts an d m any fr ie n d s ..........