The Pleasure is Back

Page 1


issue 51

THE PLEASURE IS BACK keystone’s 2016-2017 literary magazine

Keystone School 119 E. Craig Pl. ~ San Antonio, TX 78212 (210) 735-4022 ~ (210) 732-4905 (fax) enrollment: 430 students // 42 staff


mission statement: It is the mission of THE PLEASURE IS BACK to recognize and showcase the artistic talents of Keystone’s high school students. The LitMag club provides a forum for students to practice curation, jurying, editing, and technical production, providing a real art-world experience. This production chimes well with our school’s mission: . . . to provide motivated students with a nationally recognized, well-rounded educational experience in a supportive, inclusive environment that encourages academic excellence, ethical growth, community involvement, and responsible leadership. editorial policy: Keystone’s award-winning literary magazine publishes work that reflects the literary, visual, and artistic points of view of contemporary high school students. Although THE PLEASURE IS BACK does not organize content thematically, the student editors, who are appointed annually by the faculty advisors, select work that represents the zeitgeist of the Keystone upper school community. This organization is an extracurricular group that meets weekly to critique submissions from the upper school student body based on literary and artistic merit as perceived by the staff.


Dear Reader, Keystone’s literary magazine is founded on a history of self-expression. Whether they’re funny, poignant, or even a tad bit dark, our pieces share one common quality: artists being uncompromisingly themselves. Last year, members of both the student-led LitMag and the faculty worked to recognize and broaden the upper school students’ right to freedom of expression in the literary magazine. Now, having secured the right to publish artistically-merited controversial works, we have been able to focus on a new mission: to explore art, unbounded in all its genres, mediums, themes, and pleasures. THE PLEASURE IS BACK is a collection of pieces that captures joy, sadness, anger—the pure emotion that generates the most original art. Among a large pool of student submissions, the pieces that stood out and were ultimately accepted had clear, concise writing, but most importantly, a distinctive voice. Too often, teenage art is perceived as unvaried, coarse, and needlessly dark; this stereotype does not represent the true width and breadth of the artistic talent of high school students. The pleasure arises from this empowering process of artistic creation, from exploration, experimentation, and the discovery and development of unique voices. We wanted to showcase exactly this: young writers taking part in pleasure, both in the creation and consumption of it. With this in mind, we put together a collection that is as quirky, deep, passionate, and true as the Keystone students who are included in it. Historically, the publication was seen as a place where only serious topics could find expression, which was often due to choices made by those who assembled the publication. We, however, have opted for a different approach. From lighthearted poems reminiscent of Dr. Suess to sprightly digital art to personal collections of commentary on racial issues to woodblock prints and more, we have opened our arms to all that falls under the broad umbrella of what is considered “art.” So dip your feet in and immerse yourself in our anthology. Like it is for us, we hope the pleasure is back for you. With pleasure, The Editors


table of contents: mission statement & editorial policy letter to the reader colophon & staff list

ii iii 57

PROSE: Ani Karla, The Sound of Drums Zoe Barocas, Officium Paloma Ruiz, Origin Story Daniela Talamantes-Martinez, Metal Man

7 25 44 53

POETRY: Astrid Armstrong, Nuns at Cape May Astrid Armstrong, is risen Stephanie Rao, Aftermath Olivia Addington, Possibility Olivia Addington, Yearbook Honesty Claire Yager, Do Animals Even Get A Shroud? Maddy Hillegas, Ice Maddy Hillegas, A Foreign Wood Stephen Duffy, There’s A Ghost, I Know It Astrid Armstrong, rainy day Bella Sullivan, Remember This (XI Ways of Seeing Beautiful, The Wise Boy and Her Golden Tresses, In A Field of Wildflowers) Astrid Armstrong, A Poem For A Place I Know Claire Yager, Gary Astrid Armstrong, Congratulations to my friend Olivia Addington, Take a mental health day


1 1 3 6 17 21 24 28 29 32 34 45 46 47 50

table of contents:

ART: Isela Martin, Illuminate Daniela Talamantes-Martinez, Dopamine Dependencies Mason Valicek, Coloring Outside the Lines Vivian Whitney, A Tipsy Wind Jonathan McCutchen, Lookout Carly Garcia, Open Wide Zia Kim, <reflection> Daniela Talamantes-Martinez, Studio 2 Claire Yager, Forget-me-nots and Thistles Vivian Whitney, Poolside Dream Jonathan McCutchen, Cut Out Town Claire Yager, Several Dead Things Vivian Whitney, The View Master Jonathan McCutchen, Angel Bath Isela Martin, Self Portrait Mia Quintero, La Mujer Claire Yager, Halo Catie Poneck, A Tiger Gets Its Stripes Zia Kim, <unveiled> Daniela Talamantes-Martinez, Logan Doing Ballet Vivian Whitney, Bathing in Blue Catie Poneck, An Intimate Moment Sofia Roldan, Curbside Storm Ty Watts, Mark Morgan Daniela Talamantes-Martinez, Paling Pointe and Poise

2 4 5 9 13 16 18 19 22 23 26 27 30 31 33 36 37 42 43 46 48 49 51 54 56


Place one nun at the beach and what do you get? Nothing but holy, holy water stretching out to the horizon whose line is as crisp and unmovable as a habit.

is risen it was a beautiful day for swimming. the nuns had bathed in bible long. black swimsuits on the beach. exposed legs carried by the rising tide.




Nuns At Cape May

Aftermath Itty, bitty ten-year-old, hopes higher than Everest, thinking she could conquer the world with a paintbrush, using cities as canvases. Painting her life, her dreams, a sumptuous, doleful masterpiece. Twenty-four now, living downtown in the place no one wants to be, the place hearts flee to remain pure. Dreams snatched and choked back to reality. Paint splatters pollute the walls, a whirlwind of strewn canvases, vacant of Metropolitan museum halls, just a feculent, grimy basement where black corners turn to black walls. Tears whip her cheeks. Red paint masks her hands— the death of her dreams. It is not a simple pain she can turn into brush strokes. It is not heartbreak where she can sketch the dimming spark. It is not the kind of loneliness where she manages a sliver of light in dark. It’s the kind of pain where she puts the paintbrush down






MASON VALICEK Coloring Outside the Lines

Possibility A man in baggy shorts sits on the hood of a car, holds a cigarette gently between his lips, inhaling slowly and studying a thin green lotto ticket. A pregnant woman sits in the passenger seat eating a salad. She stabs at the lettuce. Each time she brings the fork to her mouth she frowns, disappointed by how little there is on it. She can’t seem to get enough. The air around them is heavier. I’m surprised they aren’t flattened like gum against the parking lot pavement.



The Sound of Drums “The Sound of Drums The first sound, the last sound The one True sound The sound of Judgment for all to hear” “That’s odd,” I remark to my partner. “Two years searching through these damn caverns and this is the first time I’ve ever seen any writing, only stupid pictures of the same urn over and over again. D’ya think it means anything?” “No, Robert, for the millionth time today, I don’t think it means anything.” “Y’sure, ‘cause there seems to be a latch underneath the inscription,” I say with a hint of a smile splayed across my face. Of course I’m excited. It has been two years since John Malthur of the famous Malthur Institute of the Archaeological Sciences contacted Darren and me and offered us two million dollars to explore the caverns underneath the city of Jerusalem for the next four years. We said yes, though I did for the adventure and promise of knowledge and Darren, for the money. I carefully slip my fingers through the curtain of dust and sand that adorns every facet of this cave system. Suddenly, I feel a sharp prick on my index finger, and, as I withdraw my hand from the wall, the entire cavern starts to shake. “What did you do!” Darren yells as he runs for cover. I do the same as bits of the ceiling start to crash towards the ground, too focused on staying alive to answer. I just make it under a sandstone outcropping as a particularly nasty looking chunk of rock embeds itself in the soft earth at our feet. After about thirty seconds, it’s over. “You OK?” I yell across the cavern to Darren. “Yeah! Hey, Robert. There’s a giant hole here that I’m pretty sure wasn’t before.” Intrigued, I start to pick my way through the rubble. It’s only when I feel a wet patch on the rock I’m climbing over that I look down. I realize as I pull my hand away that it is entirely covered with blood. I am really confused until I look at my finger. A perfectly circular hole about a millimeter wide has been bored into my index finger right at the tip. There must have been some sort of anesthetic on whatever stabbed me because I can’t feel any pain. Even as I watch, blood oozes out of the wound, except it isn’t red. “Darren!” I scream. “Get the first aid kit NOW!” I run as fast as I can to the other side of the cavern where Darren is waiting, clutching my finger in a bloodied fist. As I stumble to a stop I release my finger and show the wound to him. I’m starting to feel the pain now, a dull burning pain deep inside my hand. “Woah, that is nasty,” Darren grimaces as he inspects the puncture. Yellow fluid is now seeping out of the hole in my finger in clumps, piling up on the underside of my fingertip and on my fingernail. I scream as the ooze starts to bubble and hiss, releasing a pungent odor into the 7


stifling air of the cavern. The pain is starting to take over now. I can’t stand it and my vision is starting to blur. Whatever cut me had to have been poisoned. My body starts to convulse as the poison flows through my veins and I start to lose consciousness. I feel Darren trying to stop the convulsions as I fall deep into the darkness. “His condition is only getting worse. It is as if he has a terrible infection, except these symptoms don’t match any known disease in the past two thousand years!” I hear as I slowly come to. I open my eyes but immediately shut them against the torrent of light that is bombarding my retinas. I try again, only opening my eyes millimeters at a time. Finally, they begin to adjust and I can actually see my surroundings. Darren is standing above me talking with some sort of doctor. I’m in a large white tent with a stretched canvas tarp over the top. I know we’re topside because I can feel the air moving around my face, a feeling rarely felt hundreds of feet beneath the surface. I struggle to heave myself into a sitting positions as Darren and the doctor realize that I am awake. “Hey, Robert, take it easy, bro, you need to rest,” Darren says. He plays it off as mild concern, but I know he’s really worried inside. If there was one thing I knew about my brother, it was that he was unfeeling at best. That is what makes me even more anxious to see exactly what has happened to me. “Mnomn, Ineed t’look atme,” I slur, keenly aware that I don’t have full control of all my facilities yet. I again try to push myself up into a sitting position, but my arms betray me and I fall onto my back writhing in pain from the exertion. The doctor hurries over and supports me, checking if anything has happened. Then, he slowly starts to lift me by the arms into a nearby wheelchair. “Thought you might want to get up and move around for a little, seeing as you have been lying on that cot for the past six days,” the doctor remarks. He has a smooth, suave voice layered with all sorts of tones and nuances. But that’s not what catches my attention. “Sis days!” I mumble, “I’ve been out fer sis days? Were am I?” “Relax, bro,” Darren chimes in, “right after you lost consciousness, I dragged you out of the cavern and called for help. Adir here was the first to show up. He helped me get you topside and from there we took you to the nearest infirmary. By the time we got you some medical attention, your finger was purple and swollen so big it looked like it would explode if you touched it the wrong way. You’ve been in a medically induced coma ever since, but I asked if you could be woken up because there’s something I need to ask you.” “Wha?” “Adir says that you have an infection that started in your finger. The infection has already spread to your body, but he thinks that it would be better to amputate your finger to keep the infection from getting worse.” “My fingur? Bu-but how can finger why ampu—” I feel myself starting to lose all sense of reality and entering into a delirium. “Wait fer alittle, don’t maim me fur nothing,” I manage to 8


say before my entire world flips upside down and I start to fall again. Then I hear something: the sound of drums. I wake up and it’s around noon. At least, that’s what it feels like because I’m sweating and it feels like my skin is about to peel off. I don’t know how long I’ve been out, but I feel a lot better. In fact, I feel more active and fit than I did before I got sick. I sit up and look at my surroundings. I’m not in the same tent as before and no one seems to be around. “Hello?” I inquire. “Anybody home?” There is an immediate shuffle of feet outside as the entrance to the tent flaps wildly and Darren bursts into the room with a smile too big for King Kong, let alone his squirrelly face. “Rob, it’s good to see you’re up. Looks like you already noticed, you’ve made a full recovery. Actually, even more than that. Everything that was wrong with your body before you were infected is now gone: no scars, no blemishes, not even anything wrong with your blood work. Somehow, you’re now the healthiest person on the planet!” “What?” I say as I stand up. There’s no way this is true. I might have made a recovery, but Darren is just trying to pull one over on me. Then I look at myself, and I realize he’s right. There are no scars on my arms or legs anymore, not even the one where an icepick decided to embed itself in my shoulder on an expedition to the Himalayas. My skin is absolutely perfect. I stumble back as I try to identify what exactly happened to me. “So that poison that made me sick was not actually poison but a panacea? H-how is that even possible?” I stutter in disbelief. “I don’t know, but it healed you, so let’s just leave it at that, shall we?” “No! We could’ve just stumbled across the most major archaeological discovery of this century. We need to go back to the cavern and go down that hole that appeared when I pulled the latch,” I say, wrenching myself from the cot on which I was sitting to start towards the door. “Woah, hold on, Rob! Hey, Rob! Where are you even going?” Daren shouts as he sprints behind me. “The only place I can go right now: down!” I reply. After about five minutes of sprinting across the scorching sands, I begin to realize that I am not in Jerusalem. I stop and look around for Darren, but he’s nowhere to be seen. Then, I start to hear a low rumble that gradually evolves into the sound of a thirty-year-old car engine that has been in the desert for too long. I see Darren and Adir sitting in a beat-up jeep as it crests over a sand dune and races down towards me. I dive to the side as the jeep careens to a stop beside me, spraying sand and pebbles everywhere. “Why’d you come over in a jeep? Couldn’t you just run after me?” I inquire, eager to call Darren out for losing his edge in the field. “What do you mean, ‘couldn’t you just run after me’? You’re the one who took off at like twenty miles an hour,” Darren scowls. “Did you even realize we’re about a mile and a half from camp?” 11

“A mile and a half? It’s only been like five minutes, though,” I respond through a haze. It seems that there are a lot more secrets about my body that I haven’t figured out yet. Now I want to see just how much my body can do. I return to camp with Darren and sit down on my cot, trying to piece everything together. First, I’m dying of some poison that probably was lost to humanity thousands of years ago, then suddenly, I am the most healthy and fit person on the planet. What’s happening makes no sense at all, but there is one thing I know for certain: I need to go back into that cavern and find out what is down that hole. “Darren, we have to go back to that cave,” I say as I rise from my perch and look around for supplies needed for another expedition into that cavern. “Woah, hold on, bro,” Darren utters as he pushes me back down. “You were about to die less than twelve hours ago. I don’t care if you’re Superman, you need to take things slow until we can figure out exactly what happened to you.” “Don’t you get it?” I ask incredulously. “The answer to that question is not out here. It’s down there in that cave. Whatever this is, it’s been lost for thousands of years. If we don’t go down there, we may never know what happened to me or what facilitated the whole thing.” “How do you know?” Darren stares at me dead in the eye. “That chamber is filled with rubble. Why are you so sure that what you’re saying is right?” “I just am, alright? I feel it in my bones—going to that cave is the only viable option we have.” I grow more and more frustrated as I see the plain disregard for my words in Darren’s eyes. He doesn’t know! I feel it, I know it. How does he dare think that he is right, when I share my very thoughts with the drums! The drums. The drums, they’re always right. The one true sound. I snap back to attentiveness, and it’s dark outside. “Wha-what happened?” I groan. “Ughh, my head.” I sit up and screw my eyes shut against the light. My brain feels like mush, sloshing around my cranial cavity. “You passed out,” Darren mutters from a couple of feet away, “right after you tried to strangle me.” “What? Why would I try to do that? You’re my brother.” “Yeah, imagine my surprise. One minute I’m talking to you about resuming our dig, the next you have your hands around my neck and you’re screaming about drums. Then you just conked out.” “Drums? Why drums? What do they mean? What is happening to me?” I start to lose myself into self-reflection when I see the confused look on Darren’s face. I realize that I just said what I thought out loud. “Wait, Rob. You mean you’ve had these fits before?” he asks with concern. “How long has this been going on? Was it ever since you got sick?” “They started in when I was in the coma. I was having dreams of the same thing over and over again: the sound of drums. They weren’t fits or anything like that, just periods of time where I didn’t feel like myself. It’s almost as if there’s something nested inside of me, something 12



just waiting to burst out given the right opportunity.” “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do,” Darren suddenly says. “You’re going to take a dose of Halcion, and then you’re going to sleep for a while.” I want to argue and say that I’m fine, but the truth is I’m exhausted. I didn’t notice before, but now that I have entertained the notion of sleep, my body seems to be inexorably gravitating toward the idea. My mind is still active, but I succumb to my aching body and walk to my cot. “See you later,” I mumble to Darren as I drift off. “Yeah,” he replies half-heartedly. Darren then walks away as if he’s lost in thought. He doesn’t even notice as Adir slips through the entrance flap and makes his way towards me. Right as I am slipping into my circadian rhythms, Adir whispers in my ear: “There is no rest for the wicked. They face the sound of drums.” “Adir!” I burst into consciousness. “Where’s Adir?!” “Woah, hold up, Rob. What’s going on?” Darren says as he hurries to my side. “He knows. He knows what’s happening to me. I need him!” I spring up, only to be pushed down again. I look at Darren, and I feel the blood rush to my face. Anger, anger like I’ve never felt before, courses through my brain. How dare he! He doesn’t know! Know . . . know what? I feel myself sinking back onto my cot as the wild passion subsides. “Rob,” Darren says softly with a concerned look, “it happened again, didn’t it? I could see it in your eyes. That was not you.” “Then who is it?” I shout. I feel the anger rising again, except this time it’s mine. My anger about how helpless I am, about how little I know. “We need to find Adir; he has the answers.” “How do you know?” “He said something to me, right before I fell asleep. Something he could have only said if he knew what was happening here,” I say as I get up. This time Darren walks towards the entrance flap. “Well, Rob, you coming?” “Let’s go,” I say as I walk outside. “We’ve got work to do.” Darren and I climb over the dune that bisects the camp and head to Adir’s tent. As we walk, a huge cloud of dust billows from the far side of the camp. Screams follow. “What was that?” I say to Darren as I scan the desert. “C’mon.” I take off running in the direction of the blast, this time remembering to slow down for Darren. We reach the site amid a flurry of fleeing bodies and clogged air. I suddenly feel a drop in the air pressure around me (how, I don’t know; it seems my body has changed in more ways than expected) and skid to a grinding halt at the cusp of a deep sinkhole that had opened up on the outer edge of the camp. I look over the edge. “Damn, that thing has to be over a hundred feet deep,” I remark. “How did this happen?” “Not naturally,” Darren says holding a fragment of blasting wire in his palm. “Someone wanted to get underground fast.” 14

“Why?” “Only one way to find out,” he says as he jumps into the hole. “Darren!” I scream, only to have my words whisked away by the downdraft created by the massive hole in the sand. “Rob! It’s okay, the sand breaks your fall!” I hear Darren shout. I hesitate, but the feeling rises again. I need to know. I NEED TO KNOW! Then I jump. I fall about ten feet before I crash into a stream of sand cascading down the edge of the sinkhole. It takes me all the way down what turns out to be a very long and steep tunnel sloping down into the earth. I spill across grimy floor and stand up, sand flowing off my shoulders and from the folds in my clothes. I turn around and look into Darren’s smiling face. At first I don’t understand, then I feel the ground beneath my feet. Stone. There’s no reason there should be stone a hundred feet under the desert. Then the biggest revelation hits me. We’re in a tunnel. A stone tunnel. I beam back at Darren, grasping the implications of what we just discovered. This is a man-made tunnel. An ancient man-made tunnel! “We’re on the right track!” I shout enthusiastically, my voice bounding down the length of the tunnel, shooting from surface to surface. “Alright. Alright. Rob, calm down.” Darren laughs. “We’re not there yet . . . Rob? Rob, calm down!” But I can’t. I’m close to knowing! I’m almost there! Happiness rushes through me, but something else also. The drums. I swoon as they pound in my head but I can’t stop. I won’t stop. I shout, I scream, I laugh. The drums will show me. Ha! The drums! They show me the truth. I know. They have shown me. “I KNOW!” I yell to no one in particular. “I see the truth!” “Rob!” I faintly hear him, the skeptic, the enemy, the, the, the . . . I snap back to Darren standing far away from me. For the first time, I see fear in his eyes. “What is happening to you?” he asks in a trembling voice. “You’re not yourself. We need to get you to a doctor or something.” “No! I need to find the answer first. Then, you can take me to a doctor, but not before,” I say, begging Rob with my eyes to follow me down. “I can’t. I love you, bro, and I am going to do what is best for my little brother, even if you don’t like it,” Rob says as he advances towards me with a hard face and hands extended. “NO!” I scream, so loudly that it feels like my vocal chords have been ripped to pieces from that one forceful shout. I turn and sprint down the tunnel, not even bothering to look back. “Rob!” I hear Darren’s fading voice, “Rob, you need help! Get back here, dammit!” He sprints after me as I pull away. I can feel it. But I’m faster and soon I’m alone in the darkness. I look around, trying to see past my arms, but the tunnel seems to swallow any light that would have normally entered my eyes. Just as I begin to turn around, a torch flares up about ten feet away from where I’m standing, blinding me and concealing whoever had lit it. As I blink 15

away the light that had been burned into my retinas, I look towards the one holding the torch. I let a little gasp escape my lips as my vision alights on the face of Adir. Only thing is, his face isn’t the way I had ever seen it before. It is hard and angled, as if sculpted from stone. Every muscle and blood vessel stands out in sharp relief against his taut skin, which has the appearance of being stretched across his face to the point of tearing asunder. He stares with a grotesque scowl upon his face. “Adir!” I whisper, too confused to speak any louder. “What are you doing here? What is going on?” “Come.” One word. That’s all I get before Adir turns and marches away, obviously expecting me to follow. I hesitate, but I need to know. The sounds. The sounds follow Adir. I go where the sounds take me. I set off at a brisk pace to catch up with Adir, who is already about fifty feet away.

ZIA KIM <reflection> 16

Yearbook Honesty I don’t know you that well, but we’ve talked before and you asked me to sign your yearbook because you’re feeling sentimental so I’ll say something generic. HAGS! We played a sport together and I’m not sure what else to say besides you’re cool. Have fun being not here for another year. Wish I was leaving too! I don’t actually like you that much but what’s the point in saying that now. It’s almost over and I’ll probably never talk to you again. Have a great life! You don’t know this but I had the biggest crush on you (what a cliché, I know, falling for the handsome senior), so I’m focusing on saying something normal, not too emotionally expressive, because we’ve never actually talked. Best of luck to you going forward but I know you don’t need it! We’ve known each other a long time. We used to be closer but we drifted apart these past couple years. I’m sorry. People seem to do that. The fact that you’re leaving now makes me think more about the way things were, and the memories tug at me. I’m going to mention them here, just for their own sake. I know you and the feelings don’t fit inside little, cute, funny comments like they do for everyone else. Part of me hopes you won’t forget, but part of me hopes you will. Part of me wishes you success, but a bigger part wishes you happiness, unattached to your old life (too complicated), clear and blank like pages. I’ll miss you. I love you. Go get ‘em. 17






Studio 2 (2/2) 20

Do Animals Even Get A Shroud? my great grandmother is still alive at 96 but i only got 2 years with you? fuck that and fuck whoever made it that way



CLAIRE YAGER Forget-me-not and Thistles


Ice Left alone too long it melts, Drips, spreads, Assumes shape of whatever surrounds it Touched too much, held too close It falls between fingers Melts, drips, Drops to the ground, Alone, Alone again in such a dangerous world In such a dangerous state.



Officium Burkowitz sits in The Office of The Eye. It looks at him as if it is going to admonish him at any moment, remarkable for a suspended eye. The iris is dark brown like million-year-old soil. “Burkowitz,” The Eye says. “Do you know why you’re here?” He starts to sweat. He does know why he’s here. He took an extra snack from the vending machine when two candy bars fell down instead of one. After finishing both of his snacks at his desk, he began to panic. Would it be considered stealing? Yes, it would. He would have to repay. But could he pay for the second candy bar? If he put more money into the machine through the slot, it would simply wait for the next person to push a button. If he retrieved a key and opened the machine, he might break something or be accused of stealing even though he was doing the exact opposite. By the time the workers were released, Burkowitz was panicking even more, clutching the wrappers in his pocket and getting chocolate between his fingers. The situation would only end with the security guard who went through the building’s EyeTV™ footage discovering his crime. And now he’s here, in The Office of The Eye, awaiting punishment. The Eye is still looking at him. Burkowitz realizes The Eye wants an answer and nods even though his neck stutters and the salty condensation makes his collar stick to his chin. The Eye sighs. “Yes, I’m afraid you do.” It seems very aware of its omnipotence. Burkowitz shivers, but words strain at his throat. He tries to suppress them, but a whimper eeks out. The Eye senses his urge to speak. “If you feel you have something to say, then say it, Burkowitz. I’m sure it won’t mean much.” Burkowitz takes a deep breath. “Well, sir, Mr. Eye, surely this means that my work performance is being evaluated as well to assess my punishment.” “But of course,” The Eye says, membrane shining. Burkowitz swallows, throat sticky, the liquid on his throat sinking towards his shirt collar. “I think, rather, I might be guessing, that my performance has been very valuable. I mean, what are two candy bars in the grand scheme of things? You don’t have to answer that, Sir. I meant, you can, but it’s a rhetorical question. I wouldn’t want to make you answer anything. No one has to answer anything. Ever. Is chocolate anything compared to all the papers I’ve helped with? You must remember that proposal for the lumberyard I drafted myself that made it all the way to corporate? Well, of course you do.“ He blushes out of shame. “You must remember everything, Mr. Eye, everything in the universe. So you must remember that chocolate has actually fallen in value in the past neon-year, so my two chocolate bars would only be equal to one—I bet there’s lots of chocolate out in the universe. I mean—” “I’m sorry, Mr. Burkowitz,” The Eye says. “I do know a lot about you, but you’re just no longer useful.” Burkowitz starts screaming. By the time he’s finished, he no longer exists, sucked into the all-consuming pupil. The Eye, satisfied with itself, harvests the sounds of cracking knuckles from the universe and plays it for itself. It echoes around the chamber until everyone can hear, everywhere, The Eye’s symphony of victory. 25




CLAIRE YAGER Several Dead Things

A Foreign Wood Twigs live on branches in a foreign wood filled with daffodils and orchids growing along a rushing river, resting under a sky of winter constellations and a whispering chill where a man lies still, hungry, clasping a bottle of bourbon whiskey, listening to the thick, singeing darkness of the Alaskan wilderness. His willingness to sacrifice wanes with the moon as he settles into a space laid out for him, where the snow dusted grass molds into the permanent curve of his back.



There’s a Ghost, I Know It There’s a ghost in this house, I know it Or in this story or poem or textbook There’s a ghost in this school, I know it! Maybe one is writing the yearbook Every page, every rock that you turn Has got one, maybe two, or more In fact there’s little in this world That ghosts aren’t responsible for There’s a ghost in our English class, I know it He’s our metaphors, our symbols, our themes He walks your dog, makes your meals, fluffs your pillows He even invades your dreams There’s a ghost everywhere! I know it! Though it seems like no one else cares So I’ll be your soldier, your knight, your fool And question where no one else dares





rainy day my friends say I’m the personification of pathetic fallacy. couldn’t prove them wrong—I had already cried.




ISELA MARTIN Self Portrait

Remember This (a collection) Beauty, today, is Deficient in Diversity. Many say that our society no longer has the unrealistic and selective beauty standards as we once did. But I believe we still do. If you were to ask a little girl, six or seven maybe, to draw a beautiful girl, we can all picture what she would draw. I can guarantee you that it is not me.



XI Ways of Seeing Beautiful I. Her naked figure, lazily entrenched in mountains of white comforter idly elongates, shoulders rising, forearms stretching, wrists flicking, the weight of sleep heavy on her limbs. II. The fine dimples on either side of the dip in her back whisper for him to gently press his thumbs in the mellow punctures; susurration. III. Imprinted lines on her face, ironed by Slumber, cut across her puffy lips, lightly caked in drool. IV. Heavy lids blanket Rosy-brown orbs, freckled with sluggish hazel maculas; her eyes groggily open and close, open and close, trying to wade through weariness. V. Her movements cast her sweet smell in All directions— A flick of her hair: carnations perched in the porcelain vase atop the granite countertop.


A gentle arch of her back; lust and passion tangled in the damp sheets at four a.m. The lackadaisical stretch of her right leg; peaches from the farmer’s market, still pungent with the smell of Sunday morning. VI. The delicate slope of her Breasts; a fine pathway to peaked Nipples; the crisp breeze kissing her areola. VII. He can feel her warmth tenderly dancing on his fingertips: her unshaven thigh radiates through the ashen sheets. VIII. At the sight of the rising sun, her mouth laggardly curls on the right side, and her skin begins to glow in the light of: dandy pink, sweet orange, darling yellow. IX. He glows in the light of her: she is a glass of water, with VIII pieces of ice X. on a sultry summer day. “XI. Skin color was left anonymous in this piece, because the pigment of one’s skin does not correlate with beauty. All colors are beautiful.”



The Wise Boy and Her Golden Tresses When my love asked me of the many suns I had seen I told him of The Arabian Gold that set— a freckle at a time. The sand dunes huffed frosty breaths, fine frozen grains, orange turned pink then purple. High the fair soot floated into a deep sky. The wise boy beside me breathily murmured, “And down goes the Citrine!” But how she rose the next day, over a sea so dark, so beautifully— I could not tell him this. The water reflected dandy pink, her glowing lashes foggily peeked over Allah’s sandcastles. I could not tell my love that the wise boy and I sat on the rocky coast till time pulled us away, and we pulled her golden hair with us, fair strands melting through bony fingertips, till she perched high over a twinkling current. How we touched the tresses of the Topaz Gem would be kept secret between the wise boy and me. “I don’t feel I can express to any of you the beauty I saw that morning. It was palatial.”


In A Field of Wildflowers

I am not surprised by what I see.

I have brought my little sister out to the field, behind our house: Ditzy sunflowers slothfully bloom out of the soil, state flowers delicately lean into the wind; deep sapphire blue bonnets nuzzle her thin ankles.

Atop her pad, a white woman innocently rests, her blinding-white smile, impish— she knows what my sister has shown me.

In her creamy, slender fingers she holds a drawing pad, and behind her ears, a charcoal pencil sits comfortably, tangled in her wispy, black hair. As we sit in the meadow, behind our house, basking in the kindness of the sun, I tell her to draw me something: Draw me two beautiful girls. As her mature hands move swiftly, Meticulously, across the pad, I dreamily unwind beside her, my cocoa skin warming in the pink beams. This drawing does not take her long, and as she finishes, she Breathily and Excitedly squeals, “Done!” a fine blush rising on her bronze cheeks.


All I can see curves curves curves, perfectly rounded hips, a scarily shrunken waist, pert breasts, a willowy stomach, toned but no muscle shows. All I can see, legs legs legs, slightly muscled thighs, nicely curved calves, dainty feet encased with tortuous binds, stilettos. A silicone rear; I don’t see any real features on these “beautiful” women. All I can see, two fictitious women: a perfectly proportionate face. Delicate nose, slim bridge. Almond eyes. Heightened cheekbones. Full lips that rest exquisitely on clear, Ivory skin. A halo of rose-gold hair floats atop her oval cara. All I can see are women, unattainable, yet these are the women who danced into my baby sister’s imagination.

The First woman: Apocryphal. The Second beautiful woman: Identical. Society, I ask you: How can you say that America no longer immures women in a caged culture that teems with beauty stereotypes? You answer me questioning: Where do you see them? In response to your question, look at this picture: here rest two “beautiful women,” innocuously sketched by young hands, hands that have only felt my own for Seven years. Here you see an unattainable reality, Deficient in Diversity, that wickedly rests in a young girl’s dreams: please tell me again that our society no longer has beauty conventions. “In a field of exquisite wildflowers that hugs her unaged bones, my sister only sees beauty in unfeasible, ideal white women. This breaks my heart.”


I do not fit into the antiquated idea of what is beautiful in our country, a definition that does not ripen over the years like a delicate red wine—but does that make me any less beautiful? If society’s standards of beauty do not, should not, define my splendor, then why do I continue trying to change myself to become a standard of beauty? Why, and by whom, am I encouraged? As I’m aware of this pressure to become a norm I’m not, to be someone, something, that would no longer be me, why do I continue to try? As I’ve pondered these questions while crafting this piece, I’ve realized that I am the jailer who locked myself in the ugly cage of beauty principles, and I’ve given the key to an unattainable, foolish dream that cradles the girl that I believe I should be. The girl in the dream does not resemble me—but she, the unrealistic vision I hold myself to, clutches the key to the cage of my self-value in her poisonous, polished hands, and this is a cage that resides around my heart, my mind, my soul, me, and this, my loves, is dangerous. Body type, skin color, degree of modesty, and surface features that are birth-given should not be pivotal factors in an individual’s beauty. Remember this.


CATIE PONECK A Tiger Gets Its Stripes 42


ZIA KIM <unveiled>

Origin Story My father says that I descend from pirates. From the Italian furniture salesman who disappeared over the edge of the world, and from the mysterious letter he left for his son, which was shredded in the silence of a Sicilian night. I was carried in the underbelly of his ship and borne prematurely to the coast. Handed to Mexico softly, sweetly, skin as green and bitter as an unripe banana. That there was where our families were first intertwined. We ricocheted back and forth across the border until I was the Mexican moon rolled in Texan mud, until I was passed through the church door where my grandparents dated and carried in the back of their car under cotton sheets. There I was saved from suffocation, saved from cerebral palsy, from alveolar capillary dysplasia, and the violent art of a sickly heart. I was wrapped in prayer beads and paper towels and told to wait. Wait like a nascent nectarine against the antique door of the Artichoke Diner, where a man spilled a drink and a blouse was bruised brown and six months of courtship were long enough to weave a wedding gown. That night I was scooped into their laps, laid across the fabric seats of a Hyundai Sonata in a half-lit parking lot. They read poetry books about places past Brownsville, funneled in gas until the tank was full, and then fled. My mother says I was raised by a ghost, by a soldier who had seen me tremble across the Atlantic in his dreams. That when I cried he would rest his old hand on my head and spoon-feed me Spanish lullabies. At night, I can see the golden coast of Chiavari, ancestors rippling restlessly on the shore, ships pulling anxiously at anchors, unsold furniture being flung like loose change along the bay.



A Poem for A Place I Know I am young, again, sleepy only from the soft lullaby of my grandmother's whisk whirling in the other room, from losing chess matches against my brother, from pulling the rowboat through a marsh of reeds, from picking blueberries in the wide open fields. somewhere out in the distant twinkling Atlantic, a figure pulls up his nets, summons wriggling creatures out from the cold deep water. sail unfurled, a man’s voice skips on the ebb. a wind sweeps through the open windows of the house.



Gary “you know she is a girl, right?” you know cats don’t give a fuck, right?


who has kept me up long enough, So that I could become an insomniac. We miss things when we are asleep— the headlights of a car going down a lane, the exact phase of the moon, the giddiness when the screen slides open and the chill wraps like a silken veil about us. We stumble through the night. The sound of our feet is treachery to the monotony of rain and thunder. Look over there, I can see the whole shore lighting up in majesty.



VIVIAN WHITNEY Bathing in Blue

Congratulations to my friend

CATIE PONECK An Intimate Moment 49

Take a mental health day Things have never seemed so flat as they did sitting in precal, fifteen minutes to the bell. Pink eyes (hints of night things hidden by day lights) and trying to remember if at some point I swallowed a wad of gum (if not, what is it that’s stuck in there). Thoughts too heavy to make sense but feels like everything is so completely wrong and something must change or else I will not even be able to hold my cells together long enough to reach the next moment.


SOFIA ROLDAN Curbside Storm

Metal Man You wait for me on your motorcycle outside of Caparelli’s, and I mount your gleaming horse, strapping your too big helmet with a Mario Kart turtle on my head. We race like we have to win. The tight wind hugs me as my legs and arms clutch your leather jacket back. My mother told me she once rode on the back of a motorcycle. But she would not approve. You are a stranger with a completely different background. You are not Catholic; you wield hellfire and clinking metal tools. But you just quit smoking like me. Just had your heart broken like me. And so I ride with my heart pressed against your leather, helmets bumping together, wheels bumping at every pebble.




TY WATTS Mark Morgan

Hidden I stared at the cracks in her fingers and saw the raw beauty of the exposed flesh beating red as the pencil she held caressed the broken skin on the edge of her fingernails a cut on her index finger skirted toward the paper she wrote on and as the blood trailed down her knuckle halting just before reaching the crisp paper’s edge a gentle hand covered the scene and the beauty was gone.




THE PLEASURE IS BACK is produced by Keystone School to recognize and showcase the artistic talents of its students. The ideas and opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the LitMag contributors and do not necessarily reflect the attitude of the Keystone Board of Trustees, the administration, the faculty, or the staff. The pieces selected for inclusion in THE PLEASURE IS BACK were based on the student editors’ opinions on their aesthetic and literary merit. It is the policy of Keystone School not to discriminate on the basis of sex, age, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or handicapped status in its educational programs. colophon: THE PLEASURE IS BACK was produced in Adobe InDesign CS6 on a MacBook Pro. The body and feature texts are set in Athelas Regular. The cover is printed on 80# House Gloss Cover and the interior pages are printed on 100# House Gloss Text. The spread was designed by Vivian Whitney. The cover photograph was taken by Jonathan McCutchen. Two hundred and twenty copies of the issue were printed by Allegra Print and Imaging Publications.


litmag staff:

faculty advisors:

Astrid Armstrong, Editor-in-Chief Catie Poneck, Editor-in-Chief Vivian Whitney, Editor-in-Chief

Dan Begley Rosemary Bray

Olivia Addington, Poetry Editor Zoe Barocas, Prose Editor Mason Valicek, Design Editor Claire Yager, Art Editor Stephen Duffy, Assistant Prose Editor Paloma Ruiz, Assistant Poetry Editor Brooke Casey Abi Coffey Jack Covert Nina Freeman Maddy Hillegas Daniela Talamantes-Martinez Jonathan McCutchen Stephanie Rao

special thanks: Karen Krajcer Jose Armijo Tony Ciaravino Gabe Gonzales Mary Obregon Bill Spedding Brian Yager


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.