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PHOENIX LITERARY ARTS MAGAZINE FICTION The Routine by Sarah Stapleton This Is What I Wanted by James Buckner Wise

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POETRY Six Things About the Floods in West Virginia by Katie Myers Therapy by Bennet LeMaster Muse by Dr. Marilyn Kallet New England by Kennith Hawkins My Grandfather’s Sketchbooks by Neeley Moore Role Model by Seth Worsham The 3rd of September by Shelby Jones Les Femmes de la Mer by Emme Marshall Worm by Emme Marshall Scars by Jessica Lee

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ART The Barn by Robert Jenkins At First Light by Jonathan Dudley As Seen on TV by Paige Mayfield Oca’s Gnostic Alms by Lindsey Orrin Solemn by Nam Le Spotted by Nam Le

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MUSIC Seven Seas by Mahesh Krishen Rainforest by Mahesh Krishen

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Six Things About the Floods in West Virginia Katie Myers


they tell you not to eat the little ones growing out of the ground, your mom and dad. they are so tiny and wild,so bright and deadlylooking; but once, you dare to plop one into your mouth. It is so much taste and so little water; it melts in your throat. You are not poisoned but you do not tell your mom and dad what you did. it is just between the strawberries and you, your little secret. they grow after the rain and they are not poison; they are only fragile. they grow in moon-light, the wild strawberries; on clear nights in the valleys they grow. the moon faded that night over the low mountains; that night over the valleys. that night the darkness seeped in with tunnels of wind and cloud, that night the families gathered in their homes and cranked their generators on as the lights began to dim, one by one. the lights in the sky were only the first to go. That night the moisture in the air gathered itself, that night the winds blew first soft, and then loud. the moisture melted into the air and dripped down, little by little, and then more, and more, the trickle becoming an incessant pounding, a giant waiting at the gates of the mountains, demanding entry. that night in the warmth the sweatyfaced children said no; no; I will not be afraid. Lightning crashed and their mamas and papas shivered in the dark. The families huddled around tables, children huddled under beds. I’ll ride her out, papaw says. I’ll ride her out like I ride out any other storm. the river she ran to the wider river; but she saw the rain coming and she began to run faster. Ma, she cried, I cannot hold it; her long and sinuous curves widened, she filled to bursting, she wailed with the sound of a thousand voices, and she burst; and her ma, trying to hold her in her arms, burst also, and they flowed together wailing over the highways and the forests. The water came into the house. each crack, each crevasse became a river. Batter down these walls, cried the storm in a rage, and the river turned on the good people who floated on her, who lay by her beaches. Papaw recognized her as a friend and said No, you won’t hurt me; I’ve dipped my feet in you many a time, but the river was blind and deaf with pain and did not recognize him. The walls shook and split and fell and so did all walls, everywhere; all children linked hands and took deep breaths and understood, before anyone else did, that they would have to swim.


When dawn breaks the light washes over the mountainsides where they grow, and you see what the darkness hid from you. last night, in the storm, under cover of the deepest and most chaotic darkness, the waters creased and crevassed around the rhododendrons: until, cries the storm, until they are islands unto themselves, until the jungle turns to swamp, until the swamp erodes into the river, until the rivers widen into the sea, until all bridges break and all highways crack at the seams, until houses crack and bob in the water like flotsam, until the next morning, when the mists part, the surface brown and whirling still, and rhododedron flowers still float serenely between wood and metal and murk.

The Barn • Parker Jenkins


Therapy Bennet LeMaster In the cold click of the waiting room she reminds me what we don’t say: the aunt whose father touched her belly, hips, breasts, how no one believed--men in suits that came to her window, none of them my father, unplayed voicemails from her sister cousins we can’t see the list of those who don’t get our Christmas cards homes that make up stages, places where we yell insults, panicpill bottles like candy wrappers the grandmother who made us all friends once died too young, left too much space mom still cries for her--but mention how we all eat dinner, how we sit around the table ignore the empty seats--discussing the weather



After Eluard and Breton Dr. Marilyn Kallet I love you for your black ink hair your words of earth & iron your body of flesh & stone your A-line strict lines I love you for all the time we will never make love for the years between us for your silences which are wounds for your songs that are balm. I love you for night and shadow coffee and dawn a touch of cream a bowl of gold cherries, for the mystery of never having you I love you to love if you turned my way I would be scorched, wordless. No, I promise I will find my song of earth fire and wine, tasting you always for the very first time.

At First Light • Jonathan Dudley


The Routine Sarah Stapleton

keeps saying that. She calls me, but I don’t answer, so she leaves me messages. “You have to eat. You have to eat.” “I’m home,” I call into the dark, drafty Yeah, but I don’t want to eat. I hall, but there is no answer. Not that I was can’t. expecting an answer. I haven’t forgotten. I’m I didn’t lock the door. I guess I should. just pretending. What am I thinking? That if the door is locked, I don’t flip on the light. I drop my bag you can’t get back in? It’s not like you took next to the door and pry off each shoe with the a key with you when you left. I would come, opposite foot, and only then do I remember to though, if you knocked. lock the door. For a second, I consider leaving Don’t worry, I’m not crazy, I know it unlocked. It wouldn’t matter either way. You you’re not coming back. took everything I cared about when you left. Or maybe I am. I’m not sure anymore. There’s nothing anybody can take from me Sometimes I forget you’re gone, and then I anymore. remember. I go into the kitchen and stand, trying I lock the door. to remember. Am I hungry? I don’t think so. “I’m home.” For the past few weeks, my refrigerator has I hadn’t meant to say that again. been bursting with food. Most of it’s from my Habit, I guess. Habit, like everything else. Habit mother. “You have to eat, Will,” she says. She and not forgetting, but pretending. Always pretending. “I’m home,” I say again. I like the way it sounds. “Welcome back,” you used to say, before you were gone. “Welcome back.” You used to hug me. You used to take my bag from my shoulder and drop it by the door. I have to do that myself now. You used to kiss me. Nobody does that now, except for my mother, when she apologizes, as if it’s her fault. But she never kisses me the way you did. Nobody does. “I’m home,” I used to say, and “Welcome back,” you used to say. Somebody knocks at the door. I hesitate. I didn’t ring anybody in. Did I imagine it? Is it you? I press my hand against the door and

Habit, like everything else. Habit and not forgetting, but pretending. Always pretending. 5

peer through the peephole. My landlord stands on the other side, cradling a heap of mail. I don’t want to let him in. I went through all the trouble of locking the door. I don’t want to see anyone. I don’t want to let him in. You, though, with your goddamn benevolence—you would let him in, wouldn’t you? I would argue, but you would win. I unlock the door and open it, just a gap. “Oh!” He takes a small step back, as if he hadn’t expected me to answer him. I don’t blame him. I’ve ignored him before. “My lease isn’t up yet,” I hear myself tell him. “I have another month.” “No, I know.” He shifts his weight. “Your box was getting full. I saw you come in, I thought I’d...” He shakes his head and sighs. He extends his arms, offers the mail to me. I expect that this is the end, so I take the heap and toss it onto the floor, where it explodes into a cascade of envelopes, and I start to close the door. “Will.” He reaches out to stop me. “I’m... I’m sorry. Your roommate, he was... a good guy. It’s a shame.” I squint at him. It’s an effort, I know it is, an effort at kindness or at comfort or at something, but I can’t help but hate the words as he speaks them. A shame, I think. Yes, it is. It’s a goddamn shame. I close the door and lock it and I kick the pile of mail. Only then do I notice something else—a small, square package of yellow cardstock, and I realize that the video from the memorial service finally came. I had requested a copy, but now I wonder why. Why would I ever want to remember? I don’t remember, I pretend, and I can’t keep pretending when I have that video to remind me that you’re really gone. Suddenly, I’m on the floor, the door pressed against my back, the key still clutched in my hand.

The top of my key is shaped like a duck—like a yellow rubber ducky that children bathe with. It’s stupid and feminine, and my coworkers joke about it, but you gave it to me, and I can’t do anything but keep it, clutching it in my fist, to my heart, to the place you won’t leave. The hall blurs before me and everything hurts, like a pounding from the inside that I can never get away from. The video in its package mocks me from the scattered pile on the floor, and I scoot it closer with my toes. I press my heel into it. It’s fragile, even through the package and the case; I know it is. It could break so easily, the way you broke, the way I am breaking, and then there wouldn’t be anything left of you except for the ducky key topper and half of everything in this apartment and all of what’s inside me. I can’t do this anymore. “I’m home,” but there’s nobody to come home to. There is no “Welcome back.” There is only silence and cold and hurt. I press my heel into the package. It’s fragile. I press harder. Snap. I clutch the key to my chest. I lean my head back against the door. “I’m home,” I say. “Welcome back,” I also say. But it doesn’t come out right.


New England Kennith Hawkins After hours of lying awake in bed one night, I started to think about 1961 in Alexandria, New Hampshire, when I was four; years before my father would tell me about my mother’s depression. Before he’d tell me that her brakes didn’t fail the day she died when her car went off Meredith Bridge and into the water. My family rode to Newfound Lake that year to see the leaves in late September. The dried reminders of the trees’ lives would fall and create red and orange stars on the water, slightly submerged, a stained-glass window that was dry and cracked, reflecting the sun’s light. Minutes later, they’d become heavy with water, reborn, falling slowly to the bottom of the lake. Mother wrapped me in her thick cotton sweater, pressed to her hot chest on the ride home. She sang “Moon River” until the deep vibrations of her body I made me fall asleep. When we got home, she put me into my bed and quietly walked away into the blackness of the lake house. The deep, hollow hum of her voice and the warmth of her breasts always remained.


As Seen on TV • Paige Mayfield

My Grandfather’s Sketchbooks Neeley Moore my grandfather’s sketchbooks are stored in drawers, full of the smell of granite, and of the carpet in his living room, where he’d teach us cartoons, and we would drink Santa Claus coca-colas by the tiny Christmas tree, in February.

never, I asked him how he felt when he drew cartoons, charcoal on his fingernails, when he lived in tents in the desert, or in California where the earth shook and crack, or his apartment, by the stockings in late winter.

sometimes I wonder if he had a dream or two, as I we all do, I assume, tucked into the corners; the creases of the brain tissue that we do not, can not, share, and I wonder, if I might find them, somewhere in his sketchbooks, or perhaps he left them in some tent, or crack of the earth, or in his questions, for my own sketches to find.

instead, he asked me if I still believed in Santa, and offered me fruit cake. the cake was good, and I didn’t believe.

in a pink journal, I wrote lines that rhymed, on that carpet, and while I watched the Super Bowl in the hospital room, and that last time, drinking orange slushies, and on the back porch at the house in the little town he grew up, after the funeral.


This is What I Wanted James Buckner Wise


-Shit I had just looked away from the man in front of me and noticed that I had gotten a spot of blood on my shirt. It isn’t a large drop, but it would still look suspicious to dry clean. Usually when this happened I would just throw the shirt away, but this shirt was special. Janet had given me this shirt for my thirtieth birthday; it was a soft blue with discreet hints of grey and white on the cuffs and collar. She had it made for me when she traveled to India on one of her first humanitarian trips. It was made from Egyptian cotton and had my initials stitched onto the inside of the collar. She was so excited to give it to me that she didn’t even wait for my birthday, plus she said that she only wanted it to be us when she gave it to me. She never liked my friends. She called me a week before my birthday and asked me to come over after I got done with work that day. When I showed up the door was unlocked. I walked in and found her standing behind the table. The room was lit with candles and on the table was a single package and a dozen cupcakes. Even in the dim lighting I could see a few specks of flour on her black dress that the apron had failed to protect her from. “Boss?” Startled, I looked up from the spot of blood to the gargantuan man that had spoken to me. He stood a head taller than most men and has a face so smashed that it would make a pig look pretty, a mark of his years as an enforcer for the Carrillo Cartel.

-Fuck. How long have I been standing here looking at my shirt? I quickly recompose myself and paint a sneer across my face. I looked down at the man at my feet; at that point he could hardly be called a man. His face was disfigured and his pride was gone. The only thing left that could prove that he was a man was lying on the floor a few feet away. “I want a cigarette. See if you can’t get a location out of him… And don’t kill him. Senor Carrillo wont be happy if we just bring back another body and none of his money.” I walked across the room without waiting on an answer and pushed open the door of the subterranean pit. As I walked away my footsteps echoed off the concrete walls of the large and gloomy room that had been used to store the cartel’s merchandise before it was raided. After the raid we filled it with blood on our hunt to find the ghost who emptied it. Being careful not to step in the still drying pools of blood I fished a loose cigarette out of my jacket pocket. I lit my cigarette, opened the door, and move unconsciously towards the loading bay. The winter cold seeped through the cuff and collar of my shirt—the cold and the taste of nicotine calling back memories I thought I had buried. --Smoke filled my lungs and I began to cough, causing the world to tilt as the alcohol pounded behind my eyes. I noticed something tickling the palm of my hand and looked down. Blood was running down the inside of

my hand from a series of unpleasant looking cuts on my forearm. I saw it and laughed. I laughed and couldn’t stop laughing. I laughed so hard that I began to cough again, sending the world into another barrel roll. I was beginning to grow accustomed to the sight of blood on my hands, but this time it was my own blood. I went to take a drag and my mouth was filled with the taste of cigarette filter. -Did I even smoke any of this? I spat out the taste, flicked my cigarette into the snow, and walked back inside. Unfortunately the house was hardly any warmer than outside due to a cold draft that came from the kitchen. Not caring to risk getting cold, I left my shoes and jacket on as I walked down the hall towards the kitchen. Without even thinking about it, I headed straight for the cabinet to pour myself another whiskey. In many ways I was a frugal man. It was a lesson I learned from my father, the owner of grocery store in Burlington, North Carolina. Another lesson that I learned from him was that there was nothing worth spending money on like good whiskey. Glass in hand, I collapsed into the recliner spilling my drink and finally feeling the stinging in my forearm as the alcohol splashed over it. I looked at the window. The glass in the windowpane was nothing more than jagged edges around the white frame from where I had punched through it, but the floor was clean of all clutter and debris. She had cleaned the glass up and then, most likely unsatisfied with the half-done job, she cleaned the rest of the floor. She never liked to do anything half way and it was that dislike of doing

The winter cold seeped through the cuff and collar of my shirt--the cold and taste of nicotine calling back memories I thought I had buried. things half-assed that has created the fight that resulted in a broken window. The empty silence dawned on me. -She’s gone. I looked back at the window; the gaping hole and shards of glass seemed to be mocking me. To escape its sadistic glare, I stood up and wandered through the unnecessary rooms of my house. I had purchased the house with Janet when I had been in the military, before the cartel had offered to pay me more than I could have ever hoped of making. We had planned on filling the house with children and toys and books and love, but instead it became filled with secrets. But secrets alone couldn’t fill the rooms and so the house was left feeling much larger than it was. I stopped in the hallway and picked up a picture on the desk. It was a picture of Janet and I at



some birthday event she had planned, we both were smiling to our ears. -This isn’t going to be easy. I snickered. -Easy? I shook my head in cynical humor. -Necessary I sighed and gritted my teeth. As I got to the back of my house I noticed my glass was empty. Before I turned back to the kitchen I checked the closet door tucked away in a shadowy back corner of the house. At first glance it looked to be nothing more than an ordinary door, but upon further exploration you would notice the thick oak that it was made from and the reinforced lock on the handle. The door was still locked. -Well, at least she isn’t trying to stop me. Having poured myself another drink I walked back into my bedroom to lie in my bed. When I flipped on the light switch I saw the clothes she had left tossed on the floor. She must have grabbed her favorite clothes before she left. I slumped down on the bed and looked around my room. The mirror next to the door was tilted for where Janet must have bumped it on her way out. I looked over to the dresser, the only other piece of furniture in the room, to see if she had taken anything from that. When I glanced over I noticed a piece of paper laying folded on top the books and watches that lay scattered over the top of the dresser. The letter was neatly folded with clear, typewriter-like handwriting on top. -God Damn clichés. She always watched too many romance movies.-

I opened the letter and found a simple note written: Adam, You have shown me what matters most to you. Goodbye. Always with love, Janet I carefully folded the note back and placed in the top drawer of my dresser. I ambled back to my bed and sat on the very edge of the bed. -This is what I wanted. I finished my whiskey. -This is what I wanted. I lit a cigarette. -This is what I wanted. I went to the kitchen for another drink. -- A blaring car horn brought me back with a start. The cold had started to make my hands shake; maybe it was the cigarettes. I looked around the dark warehouse complex and saw no one, but the car horn had reminded me of the passing time and that at some point people would have to show up for work. I left the quiet loading bay and hoped that my memories would stay out in that dark cold night. Regret could find a street light somewhere on the corner of a dirty street and consume some other man for a night; I wanted nothing to do with it. -I’ve wasted too much time. In the dim light of the warehouse, the door that I was headed towards looked

like nothing more than mar on a white canvas. Uninteresting and inconspicuous, no one on the outside could see anything of the secrets that it held. At worst you could hear the faintest sound of cries from under the door. The door handle was near freezing when I grabbed ahold of it and pushed the door open. As I opened the door, the sudden sharp crack of flesh being pounded into a pulp jarred my senses after getting lost in the silence outside. I took a breath and steeled myself, allowing the disorientation to fade. Thanks to years of practice, I pulled the sneer back across my face with little difficulty. My footsteps on the bare cement floor echoed through the chamber, announcing my approach. “Time’s up,” I said. “He don’t know a thing,” the enforcer said. The giant man was covered in blood and I could see the joy radiating from his face. He looked like a child who got to spend all day playing with his favorite toy. I felt disgust turn my vision hazy as I looked at him. He was a capable henchman, but where I used violence as necessary he found joy in it. He was single-minded and far too eager to draw blood. I looked away from him and down at the wretch at my feet. His hair was matted with sweat and blood, his nose was flattened, and not a sound came from his mouth; I wasn’t sure if that was because of pride or a broken jaw. Without raising his head he opened his eyes and looked at me. Through the swollen eyelids I was captured in the sickening vortex of memories that

had clung to me like disease. Replicas of the eyes that had been haunting me; he gazed at me with deep pools of green, holding captive the curiously large black holes at the center of the eyes. His look was of sadness and pleading. Though I stared at this man, Janet’s eyes stared back at me. I stared straight through the man’s blackened face and into the sad and pleading face of Janet the night she begged me to stop keeping secrets, begged me to quit this job that had consumed me. The night I broke the window and the night she left me. I felt the old scar on my hand—the one from the window—begin to throb. As I focused on that pain I heard the telltale click of a hammer being pulled back beside me as the henchman steadied his pistol and aimed it at the man on the floor. Before I even had

We had planned on filling the house with children and toys and books and love, but instead it became filled with secrets. 12

time to comprehend it, I felt my jacket brush aside and the weight of cold steel in my hand. The pain from the scars disappeared as a sharp jolt kicked up my arm and the crack of combustion reverberated though the pit. The massive man collapsed into a heap onto the floor. Blood soaked through his clothes before pooling on the ground around him. I stood there, still staring at the man; lost in the thoughts of mourning. Not in mourning of the sadistic creature I had just rid the world of—that was possibly the best thing I had done in years—but in mourning for myself, for Janet, for the things that I had done. Confusion, then hope crept over the man’s face, though it was distorted by

Though I stared at this man, Janet’s eyes stared back at me.


blood and brokenness. He opened his mouth to talk, but before he could get a word out the chamber reverberated again and he lay cooling next to the other pile of meat. I breathed in deeply and let out a sigh. The gun now felt heavy in my hand so I placed it back in the holster at my ribs. -This is what you wanted I threw the bodies into the back of my car and drove home. Once I arrived, I moved them into my house and then walked straight into my kitchen, long since drafty from a broken window, and poured myself a drink. -This is what I wanted I lit a cigarette and began to wander the house, now cluttered with things unnecessary, but expensive. Bile filled my mouth as I looked with disgusted at the things I had filled it with. What was supposed to be a family home now looked more like a museum, filled with expensive vases and paintings. -This is what I wanted I checked the locked door in the back of the house and finished my drink. I walked back to the dead bodies that now occupied my living room. With practiced efficiency I removed their teeth and fingers, placing them in the garbage disposal, the smell of blood filling my nostrils. -This is what I wanted I grabbed the bottles of whiskey from the liquor cabinet and packed a bag of clothes. Before I took them out to my car I walked to the back of the house and stood in front of the locked closet door. Slowly

I opened it up, I walked past the boxes of money and the piles of air sealed bags of cocaine and marijuana, past the guns and past the filing cabinets filled with blackmail. In the back of the closet, from a small wooden cabinet, I grab a picture of Janet and I; both of us smiling from ear to ear, no scar on my arm and no blood on my hands. As I drove away my rearview mirrors reflected the lights of the flames. Fed with gasoline my house would burn quickly, leaving little for the authorities to find except the charred remains of two bodies. They would assume that I had died and the cartel’s contacts in the police force would inform them of my death. -This is what I want That night was the first night I thought of Janet and did not try and stop myself. That night I slept sound for the first time, the first time in years my dreams were not haunted.


With each color, I finally reach my destination. Releasing the moral soot from my energetic body, each vortex swirls with divine energy. Cleansed, I breathe deeply and feel our God climbing from the base of my spine and pouring out through my crown. Radiating for miles, my heart tingles. The golden rays of God penetrates my spirit. Smiling, I know that God lives within me, everyone, and everything as we know it.

Oca’s Gnostic Alms • Lindsey Orrin



Role Model Seth Worsham i sat in that blood-stained isle for as long as i can remember, periodically sipping microscopic teardrops synthesized from grapes and devouring mice sized rations of hardened flour.

my dad would nudge my side as i began to drift away into oblivion. the man at the podium urged me to repent or i would get that one way ticket to the lair of eternal sunshine.

he was the herd’s idol and god and each of them longed for a few words of his wisdom and as fate would have it, the shepherd was mating with one of his sheep.


The 3rd of September Shelby Jones Nothing shines quite like shattered glass Glittering sparkles on wet pavement sing Reciting their stories as minutes lazily pass Try to ignore the familiar searing sting

Seatbelt straining, beginning to rip Left shoe missing, heart beating with dread Breathe in deeply as crimson drops drip Asphalt and shirt collar stained brilliant red

Gray sky below and highway above Clouds drift slowly, time seems to sit still Autumn winds flutter then push and shove Brakes slam nearby, scream high and shrill

A face appears where window pane should be “I’m sorry,” it says. “The blame is on me.”


Les Femmes de la Mer Emme Marshall Women’s bodies free – curve, flab sticky tanned, red pretty. Skins glisten with sea water, hear them talking, mothers and daughters resting on wooden, plastic chairs

eyes opened,

eyes closed.

Solemn • Nam Le 19

Worm Emme Marshall Let’s dig, deeper now — see how the soil seeps in my cuticle. I’ll scrape the head off grandma’s garden with a dingy spoon, throw dirt over my shoulder — this is real work. Baby hands lift the wood who borders flower and bush, push away ants — get what’s real good. When I finally find it, wriggling, pink, vermin that I’ll hold, watch as it tries to escape my stained palm — don’t be afraid, friend. I hop over hydrangea, let my keeper see who I’ve kept.

Seven Seas • Mahesh Krishen 20

Scars Jessica Lee The universe shivers and shakes with silence No stars pierce the blackness of this night It must begin, as most things do, with violence And suddenly, they ooze out: beads of light They twinkle and glimmer and sparkle and scream Are they alive? Are they a part of me?

Rainforest • Mahesh Krishen

I’d like to think so. I, too, long to gleam As they do, blanketed and soft in their sea As more and more stars are carved in the air The red sky grows fuller, brimming with light I craved them but now I am lost in their glare I will never again have the same perfect night Here is the moral: the stars stay with me As I move endlessly through the galaxy


Spotted • Nam Le


When I first started as Editor-in-Chief at The Phoenix, I was one of two returning staff members. I had experience, knowledge, and professionalism, but had not yet held a position as elite as Editor-in-Chief. The expectations set on me as a young and new leader were to build a staff from scratch and create a quality product in one semester. In August, I was excited, but slightly panicking, at this seemingly tall order. As August turned to September and submissions started rolling in, my fresh staff and I were astounded by the high-quality works we received. We had not set a theme for the issue, and submission ranged from poems about complex family relationships to conceptual musical pieces. As we sat down at our submissions meeting, we noticed that many students submitted works that focused on raw human issues: what it means to be human, what human relationships can look like, and how humans connect to their environment. These pieces that revealed hopes, fears, and desires created a cohesive theme on their own. After making final decisions, the staff and I wanted to get a glimpse at the artists who created these beautifully real works. Several artists agreed to sit down and discuss the motivations behind their works, and reveal a piece of their reality to readers. In order to honor the pure honesty of the artists, we decided to keep the design of this issue minimal so their works can fill the canvas of the pages, uninterrupted. We are honored to share their stories in this issue of The Phoenix.


Michaela Roach Editor-in-Chief

Katie Myers is a senior studying political ecology. Her interest in the environment greatly shaped her poem “Six Things about the Floods in West Virginia.” Although she is not from West Virginia, Myers spent six months in the state doing disaster relief work after the chemical spill of 2014. During her time there, she delivered water to rural residents of the state. When asked about West Virginia’s water as it pertains to her poem, Myer’s explained that “the role of water in West Virginia has a really powerful, creative and destructive association… I just didn’t want to blame the water. I think that one thing about these disasters – the floods, the pollution, the chemical spill— is that they’re manmade disasters. It’s not the water’s fault; it’s not the storm’s fault.” When asked about her writing process, Myers explained that “I find it hard to write inside, so I always try to write by a nice tree…I prefer not to be alone. I like to write in a place that’s kind of crowded. It makes me a part of the world while I’m writing about it.”

Kennith Hawkins is a first year graduate student at The University of Tennessee, studying literature. When asked about his inspirations, Kennith explained that many of his poems stem from his own childhood and his relationship with his father. Unlike most of his poems, “New England” is a fictional piece. Kennith explained that the poem was born from his favorite song, “Moon River”. “The song reminds me of the night…of someone leaving.” When asked about his writing process, Kennith explained that he most often begins writing a poem with an image in mind. He jots down this image in his phone before putting pen to paper, believing there is importance to the tactile experience of writing a poem rather than typing it. Kennith explained that “I like to see what I erased, and what I crossed through, and where [the poem] started,” actions that cannot be done with a typed poem. Kennith likes to explore memory through poem, explaining that “you can hold a memory on a page,” free from tarnishing in time. Kennith utilizes images to preserve these “crystal clear” memories.


Mahesh Krishen is a senior at UT, majoring in 4-D Studio Art focusing on the art of sound and video production. He discovered his passion for music through playing in the school band in middle school and high school, and he decided to pursue creating his own music. Mahesh started off by playing percussion, piano, and learning notation, before deciding to develop his skills further as a songwriter. He uses FL Studio to craft synthetic soundscapes. Mahesh is inspired by anything that is uplifting and wants to use music to help people feel like they have something to live for. His project was not only to show how beautiful nature is, but also how nature can make you feel and how living life is important.


Yasmin Murphy is a senior at UT who mainly works with 2D art. She decided she wanted to pursue art because she wanted to study a field she would continue to be passionate about ten years from now. She has been into art for several years and draws some of her biggest inspiration from her family. Her family has always supported her art, and she loves to photograph them. Yasmin’s favorite type of pictures to shoot are portraits because she enjoys the reactions her photos get from the people she photographed. After she graduates, she wants to travel and take photos in Europe and all over the U.S.

Nam Le is a freshman this year at UT, coming to Knoxville from the Nashville area. While he is currently on the pre-med track, he has recently discovered a passion for English. He is also interested in photography and has been taking photos since middle school with landscapes being his favorite subject to photograph. He hopes to one day write fiction for a living.

Lindsey Orrin is a senior at the University of Tennessee. She transferred to UT after spending two and half years in San Diego. She is currently in the process of getting her BA in art. She mainly does oil paintings and printmaking, and her favorite medium to work with is oil paints. Lindsey has been painting for two years now, but she has loved art since she was little. She draws some of her inspiration from the natural world, as she also loves science and biology. Lindsey hopes to have the funds to get a bus and travel to art shows with her work.


Shelby Jones is a freshman at UT. She is currently undeclared, but plans to study English. She is new to the world of creative writing, but typically specializes in prose. “During my freshman and sophomore year in English, I worked for the school news paper, but I decided that wasn’t for me. I really like writing short stories.” Her interest in fiction motivated her to write a fictional poem. Shelby finds that a lot of her works are motivated by her own fears. Her poem “The 3rd of September” is inspired by her fear of car accidents, not her past experiences. When asked about her writing process, Shelby responded, “I’m still developing my process, but I like to start out with character development. I’ll think of a name or a feature and then I’ll write it down and add onto that for awhile, and then I’ll start writing. I never think about the whole story arc. I think of one thing and go from there.”


Buck Wise is a Creative Writing major from Nashville, TN. The protagonist in his piece This Is What I Wanted was originally the main character in a screenplay he was struggling to finish. He wrote the piece in an attempt to give the character depth, but the story took on a life of its own. Buck has been an avid reader since childhood, and he enjoys writing short stories because they allow him to “deal with more specific themes” than longer works of fiction. He is a “total sucker” for Cormac McCarthy, although a greatly influential work for him is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski.

Jessica Lee is a sophomore with a major in English and a minor in Women’s Studies. When asked if her interest in Women’s Studies affects her writing, Jessica responded “Absolutely. It’s something that affects me as a person and shapes my beliefs. As a woman, you deal with women’s issues every day. It’s such a big part of me because I’m proud to be a feminist, so yes; it’s a very big part of my writing.” When talking about her poem, “Scars” and its focuses on mental health, Jessica remarked “I don’t think that I could write without having [my mental health] twisted in some form or fashion because writing is really intimate for me. Fiction writing is really intimate and I wasn’t prepared for how intimate poetry writing would be. It’s really just trying to pick out pieces of my insides and put them on display…I feel like mental illness should be discussed more. We know it’s there, but it’s so stigmatized.” Explaining why she chooses to include her mental illness in her work, Jessica said, “Every little kid needs someone to relate to in so many ways, even if that way is mental illness, they still need someone to look up to. If a kid can see an adult who’s open about struggling with depression and see them succeed, then that can do wonders.”

Emme Marshall is a junior majoring in Creative Writing with a focus on poetry. She’s been writing since her sophomore year in high school and typically uses poetry to process her own life. When asked what inspired “Les Femmes de la Mer,” Emme responded, “I was at gulf shores over the summer and my condo had a balcony, so I spent a lot of my time overlooking the beach and watching all of these people, specifically the women… Watching women do their thing on the beach is beautiful - rubbing on the lotions, sprawling on towels, squinting because of the bright sun. It’s a meaningful scene.” On “Worm,” Emme detailed, “my grandma has a big garden in her front yard that I used to play in a lot when I was little. It was like my own little kingdom, and one of the best things to do was to get an old butter tub and a dingy spoon and collect worms from the flower bed…I’d always go show my Nenda after I was done finding all of my worm friends, then put them back in the dirt, their home.”


Bennet Lemaster is a senior studying creative writing. Bennet divides her time between poetry, fiction, and music. Her experience in music and songwriting has informed the musicality of her poetry. “I think I learned to write poetry from songwriting or songwriting from poetry. I don’t know which one came first, but I think they both help each other do the same thing.” When asked what inspired “Therapy,” Bennet responded “I think, like a lot of writers, I’m stuck in my family and in my life, things I’m trying to work out. Poems are a really good way of doing that because you can get some distance between you and the subject.” On writing this particular poem, Bennet said, “I always just sit down at my laptop when I don’t know what I want to write about, I just write something. I didn’t realize until I had written about my family until I got to the end of the poem ... I think the poem is about everyone in my family being kind of a mess and how then, at the end of the day, we’re all forced to sit down and have dinner together. ”


Dr. Marilyn Kallet is the Nancy Moore Goslee professor of English at The University of Tennessee. She has been working for the university for 35 years. Dr. Kallet wrote her first short story at six years old, but began seriously writing poetry as a graduate student. “I was in comparative literature at Rutgers. That was a very dry and patriarchal environment. I felt like I was writing for my life. I was a very passionate person and there was no room for that in the daily work. The poetry gave me a place to be myself.” When asked about what fuels her writing, Dr. Kallet shared that over half of her poems are love poems. On the subject of how she avoids cliché in her own love poems, Dr. Kallet responded, “I trust the fact that what I’m going to say is going to be unique enough to me and I don’t get in my own way. I let the material happen through me and then bring the critical mind in.” Her poem “Muse” is inspired by the works of the Surrealist poets Paul Eluard and André Breton. Dr. Kallet is grateful to be included in the Phoenix and is glad to see her students’ work represented in the magazine

Seth Worsham is an English major at UT from Johnson City, TN. His poem Role Models was written as a “breaking silences” poem about a turning point in his life and in the life of his family. His influences include Charles Bukowski, Mark Twain, and “I don’t want to say it,” but, Ayn Rand.

Sarah Stapleton is a Creative Writing major from Knoxville, TN. She wrote her piece The Routine in an attempt to portray the complex relationship of two characters in under one thousand words. Although Sarah’s forte is actually the novel, she enjoys the conciseness of short stories because they give the reader a “sense of a larger world” through a shorter space. Although Sarah reads a broad spectrum of work, some of her major writing influences include C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King, and Charles Dickens.


Neeley Moore is an English Literature major at UT from Knoxville, TN. She wrote her poem My Grandfather’s Sketchbook after finding her grandfather’s drawing pencils. Neeley’s grandfather was a cartoonist and often gave Neeley and her brother drawing lessons when they were growing up. She enjoys poetry because it is “an open door—there’s so much you can do with it.” A few of her influences include T.S. Elliot, John Keats, Virginia Woolf, and Emily Dickinson.




MICHAELA ROACH Editor-in-Chief




ASHLEY BURKHART Fiction Editor JUSTIN KEYES Design Editor LAUREL COOPER Assistant Design Editor



Milk and Honey • Yasmin Murphy

Relentless Pull • Lindsey Orrin


Phoenix - Fall 2016  
Phoenix - Fall 2016