__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

Willard & Maple XVIII

Willard & Maple XVIII literary & fine art magazine

Champlain College


Willard & Maple XVIII


Credits Editor-In-Chief

Dominic Rizzo

Associate Editors

Desiree Carpenter John “Jack� Crooker

Supervising Editor

Kim MacQueen

Cover & Layout

Hannah Wood

Editor Emeritus

Jim Ellefson

Special thanks to Mitch Pini and Carolyn Cote for always fighting to keep the magazine alive and for graciously passing down the editorial torch. And more special thanks to Rachel Carter for her editorial guidance, production assistance, and for believing in this publication.

Please submit your creative work to the following address:

WILLARD & MAPLE Literary and Fine Arts Magazine of Champlain College 163 South Willard Street Box 34, Burlington, VT 05401 Or via Email: WillardAndMaple@champlain.edu Or via Submittable: www.willardandmaple.submittable.com/submit

Volume XVIII

v


Contents 14 Dawn Spencer Smith 15 Firenze Jim Kerbaugh 16

A Moving Poem Michelle Nguyen

17

The Owl and the Fireflies Amanda Schroth

19

Tonight Angels Melt Kelly Talbot

20

Spring Is Megan Hoins

21

her addiction Lee Clark Zumpe

22

My Demons Look Like Stars Cailey McCalister

23

Mis Demonios Parecen Estrellas Cailey McCalister

24 Daisy Jordan Upshaw 26

The Distance Between Us Ruben Rodriguez

27 Hug James Nicola 29

Moonshine Jelly Danny P. Barbare

30

Rogue Geography Sara Dailey

31

Angel seeds Sean Lause

32

In The Land of the Hurricane Frances Leitch

33 Ribbons Jordan Upshaw

Volume XVIII

vii


35

Twenty Robins Daniel David

37

THE SNEEZE Mae Sullivan

38 Kristi Erren Geraud Kelly 39

Fetish Robots Richard King Perkins II

40

Improbable Twilight Lee Clark Zumpe

41 Blacksmith Kelly Talbot 42 Fishface M. DeCapua 43

Easter Sunday Allen C. West

44

In My Backyard Mae Sullivan

47

Regarding the Woman Across the Street John Grey

49 Blackbird Tyler Bigney 50

House of Mirrors James Nicola

52

Day at the Bookstore Michelle Nguyen

54

Blues from the Stepdown Ward Terry Sanville

57

Your Noise is Bad and You Should Feel Bad M. Dietsche

58

Cerulean and Yellow Kenneth Nichols

59

21 Snapshots Kathryn Bullock

62

It’s No Fun Ruben Rodriguez

viii Willard & Maple


63 Hospice Megan Hoins 65

2:45 a.m. Lee Clark Zumpe

66

Outside of Birmingham Stefanie P. Buckner

67

The 31st Caitlin Thomson

68

Chameleon Eyes Shawn Tkach

69

Empty Bowl Daniel David

70

Summer Love M. Dietsche

71

Stupid Questions James Nicola

72

Breaking the Engagement Spencer Smith

73

Sensing You Shawn Tkach

74 Dybbuk Ruben Rodriguez 75

A Different Lens Aileen Casey

77

The Time Has Come Kelly Talbot

78

Blue Collar Parthenon #2 Kenneth DiMaggio

80

Le Discours sur la Paix Kim Cushman

81

The Speech About Peace Kim Cushman

82

To Want the World Alexis Dunn

83 Espirales Aileen Casey

Volume XVIII

ix


84 Missing Robert McGuill 89

I Built a Poem out of My Boyfriend’s Manic Ramblings Because I’m an Opportunist and an Asshole M. DeCapua

91

New York at Night Caitlin Thomson

92

The Fruit Cellar Scott Thomas

94

April and my Plastic Sunflowers Sonnet Mondal

95 Baptism Emma Crockett 97

Slightly Gone World Richard King Perkins II

98 Ashes Jordan Upshaw 103

He Falls in Love with a Painting John Grey

104 Crossroads Frances Leitch 105 Communion Cynthia Eddy 106 Gerundive Allen West 107

Ice Crystals Michelle Nguyen

108 Planets James Nicola 112

Three Yuan and a Left Emma Bodell

113

July Morning Kelly Talbot

114 Reruns M. DeCapua

x Willard & Maple


115

a handful of lives Lee Clark Zumpe

116

Young Siddhartha Daniel David

118 Sled Scott Thomas 119 It Sean Lause 120

Je Suis Gong Kim Cushman

121

I Am Gong Kim Cushman

122

“At this barbequeue you guest is as good…” TWIXT

123

the loudest thought Megan Hoins

124 Collapse Cailey McCalister 126 Cicadas Sara Dailey 127 Sentinel John P. Kristofco 128

World Trade Center Eric Naud

131 Biographies

Volume XVIII

xi


Letter from the Editor

Readers, writers, connoisseurs of literary and fine arts work, we’ve done it. It’s been long overdue, but Willard & Maple XVIII is finally ready to show itself to the world. Now I’ll admit, as Head Editor, when I came to this project with my cohorts, we arrived upon a scene of desolation. The Willard & Maple course was cut. The submissions were halted. And people were very upset. It looked like ground zero for our humble, little magazine. But where most people would give up after seeing the 600 emails dating back to 2004 or the 100 submissions that have yet to even be looked at since last Spring, Willard & Maple does not. Willard & Maple doesn’t even know the meaning of the words “give up.” Because if one thing was proven in the collapse of our magazine, it’s that people really care about it. Students, faculty, alumni, past readers, past writers, they all demanded that Willard & Maple stay. And I’ll be the first to tell you that it’ll be staying long after my time with it is done. Our higher-ups told us the magazine was dead. And my fellows responded with, “We didn’t join to see this magazine die.” We were gonna fix it and make it better than it ever was. And though the transition hasn’t been the smoothest or prettiest by any means, I like to think we’re getting back on the right track. This issue? Issue 18? This is our redemption story. For those of us who just hopped on board in the magazine’s time of need, we knew that we had to take a step back and assess what has been brought before us and what we can do to make the magazine better than ever. So we went to our roots. Willard & Maple has always given an outlet to writers and artists of all shapes and sizes from all around the world. But it has also always been a magazine run by students. And while all of these pieces you are about to read are new, and bold, and interesting, just know that a good number of them were brought to us by those students who make this magazine what it is and who care so deeply for its survival and thrift.

Volume XVIII

xiii


Now in closing, I must apologize. Because for those of you who have stuck around in this letter long enough to hear me out, I have a rather hefty request for you. It’s a decision. A decision of great consequence to this literary and fine arts magazine that only you, the reader, can make. Your options? You could give up on us. Watch this husk of a once great literary magazine continue to crumble along with the dreams and ambitions of several hundred readers and writers. Or you could stick with us. Join us on this wild ride as we rise up from the ashes like the majestic phoenix and soar to even greater heights. The choice is yours, so I’ll be blunt about it. Do you want to see this magazine to die? Because I already know a couple hundred people who won’t let it. Best Regards, Dominic Rizzo Editor-in-Chief Willard & Maple, Literary and Fine Art Magazine

xiv Willard & Maple


Willard & Maple XVIII

Literary and Fine Arts Magazine

Champlain College

Burlington, Vermont


Dawn Spencer Smith

In the woolen glow of morning a certain blackness glares, night’s remainder striated like fingers clutching the world, nails gripping, plowing the earth, dredging furrows through the sea. The darkness peels away in shards of water and spalls of sky, until at last the ominous hold is broken and only a ghost image trails in a scud of white.

14 Willard & Maple


Firenze Jim Kerbaugh

In “salve,” “buona sera,” One hears centuries of sun, Oil, wine, painting, Life as art, long lunches, Pastel facades of cinquecento buildings Festooned with laundry drying publicly. And in the market, to be accosted (By Roberto) with such earnest charm: “I have your size.” An old man feeding feral cats, San Marco’s frescoed cells, Dante’s strange, unsalted bread.

Volume XVIII

15


A Moving Poem Michelle Nguyen

A shot of a metro stop, black and white, faces that Stand out more than others, before they blur by. Cut To a tired rumpled salary worker who shuffles from Dirty white tiles onto the train, turning, leaning onto a Pole as he watches the city compacted into the Station. Focus in, wariness pulls down his eyelids And he imagines, fade scene, the rustling leaves of The weeping willow behind his family home, as, offScreen train whistle, the train pulls away and sways His body like a branch in the wind. Cut to wheels, he Listens to the thumping rhythm of the wheels going Over the bumps in the tracks, the screech and Whistle as it pulls up to the next station, the dull thud As the doors fold open and, cut to feet level, more Shuffling feet enter the train. Zoom on scrunched Eyes, the back of his tongue sours as more bodies of Heat press in, pushing him against the cool metal Pole. Zoom out slightly to see the whole face, he Wrinkles his nose as new air boards as well, smelling Like stale sweat, old newspapers, mold, and urine, As the faces flicker in and out with the picture of the Dancing strands hanging from the head of the Weeping willow.

16 Willard & Maple


The Owl and the Fireflies Amanda Schroth 3:24 a.m. The alarm buzzes by her pillow every night. She is like an owl opening its eyes, stomach rumbling. She reaches underneath her bed pulls out a bucket of soap-water and pure alcohol a sponge already soaked to the core. She twists the sponge so it doesn’t leak stains on the thirty-year-old floral sheets. Her other wrinkled hand pulls away the covers to show the liver-spotted, spine-poking stretched skin across her husband’s back, and she starts to scrub. Like fifty-years of painted walls, the layers of skin chip away, aging backwards as she silently works. Her arms tremor, but her eyes remain steady like the owl’s, finding prey weaving through the waving grass. When she finds the fresh, taut skin of their twenties, the muscles sturdy and strong, she slides to his shoulder joints, moving in circles around and around until the cartilage is fresh enough to throw a baseball, carry a baby, swing her in his arms. She starts to reveal the freckles along the bridge of his nose, which makes him crinkle his face, like the statue of David with layers of aged marble covering up his beauty. She is gentle along his eyelids, knowing the sparkled green irises are still young and will only wake him. Her last bit involves stretching out his skull with her fingers,

Volume XVIII

17


arthritis rakes through her veins, but she bites her pillow to hold her scream as she fights his stubborn bones to expose his brain. His neurons and memories are faint fireflies, sparking against the pink surface, there are barely enough to light a child’s mason jar. She scrubs, gently like when she used to bathe her daughter in the kitchen sink in their first apartment, one with mustard yellow wallpaper. The fireflies start to give birth to more, and soon they are ligning up and projecting the memories they built, her wide owl eyes tearing up, feeling like she’s running her face under that same kitchen sink. If there is time, she starts to hear the sounds he loved most. Their daughter’s footsteps as she barrels down the steps, calling out, “I love you daddy” as she races for the bus. He always pictures his daugher first, eight with a red nose and her favorite pink hat as she gives a smile to add, “I love you too mommy.” She always was a Daddy’s girl. When the fireflies remember her, it is a small coffee shop around the corner from their place of work. She is cross-legged in a pink dress, reading over the New York Times, one hand effortlessly grasping the cup of coffee, only twenty-years young and unaware that she was even worthy of being in love. His alarm goes off at 5:00a.m. for a job he forgot he retired from. So at 4:59, she closes shut his skull and scrubs away his hair back to the dark, slicked back strands, hides the bucket, curls up next to him and pretends to awake alongside him. When they sit up, he places his young hand on her cheek and, as he does every morning, gasps, “My dear, did you sleep alright? Your eyes… they’re as wide as an owl’s.”

18 Willard & Maple


Tonight Angels Melt Kelly Talbot

Angels melt like snowflakes, softly, sweetly, on my heart. Tonight butterflies no longer spring from fingertips. My dead spells lie woven flatly from aching lips. Black orchid petal chains bind so softly they slip. My desire: to protect you, bind you softly with lips. Tonight someone asked what I do. I paint blue sky lies. The real work is to get through today without thinking about how I wanted to heal you last night when your eyes whispered one word: rain; when my heart hummed one note: your name.

Volume XVIII

19


Spring Is Megan Hoins

Bare feet, curling toes in strands of grass, feeling those not-quite-rubbery edges slide against your skin, doing it over and over again just for the sensation of something like life thrumming next to your pinkie toe. Bare feet, rubbing against the asphalt, the warmth from the sun not enough to scald, letting them slap against the pavement as you try to catch the mail truck before it gets to your house. Bare feet, sticking to the hardwood floors, skin stretching and snapping in quick succession, the sound of coming together and breaking apart firing together, just so you can reach for the plate at the top of the cabinet, just so you can pile it with wet grapes. Bare feet, etching circles into the carpet, the friction between your toes and the fabric causing a little fire to light, one that shoots up through your veins and stays there. Bare feet, shrunken under the blankets, curling in and out—a flower, perhaps, coming to bloom and then reversing in the shadow of the tree just outside your window.

20 Willard & Maple


her addiction Lee Clark Zumpe

None would argue her looks are fading; two packs a day will wither, wilt, shrink and droop. She still finds her men, mind you, scrapes them off the bottom of her high heels. She kisses them like she tongues beer bottles then she crawls up inside of them. They always evict her, and she crawls home feeling dirty and unwanted and ashamed. Still, she craves the rejection, terminally teetering on the brink of suicide, justification for lifelong angst. She swears she’ll quit: one pack away; one bottle away; one man away.

Volume XVIII

21


My Demons Look Like Stars Cailey McCalister

My whole body nests untold stories like birds afraid to migrate. They are huddled inside my head and their eyes show a thousand stars glowing in the midnight of my mind. I am afraid if I do not walk slowly enough they will unleashpull the blood from my veins up through strands of the hair on my head and, in a flurry of spilled-ink cries, they will carry me away until I, too, am only stars.

22 Willard & Maple


Mis Demonios Parecen Estrellas Cailey McCalister

Mi cuerpo es carreta de cuentos; pájaros que temen volar. Se esconden dentro de mi cabeza, y sus ojos muestran mil estrellas brillando en la media noche de mi mente. Temo si no ando lentamente se libraranjalando la sangre de mis venas por las piezas del cabello que cae de mi cabeza y en una furia de gritos de tinta caída me cargaran desde aquí hasta que yo también soy solo estrellas.

Volume XVIII

23


Daisy Jordan Upshaw

Daisy is the most beautiful word I know drops of white in summertime, soft bits of snow surrounding a tiny yellow sun. Daisy is delicate stars woven into my hair, falling from me like rain when I run, crushing grass beneath my bare feet. Daisy is green stained elbows and knees, dirty fingernails, mud squishing between my toes and on my grandmother’s spotless kitchen floor. It’s just a little dirt. Don’t apologize for having fun, my darling girl. Daisy is my grandmother. Daisy is driving three hours on weekends for movies and tea parties, flower pots adoring the back porch. Blooming just for her. You have to talk to the plants, remind them how lovely they look. A little encouragement is just as important as water. Every living thing adores her. Daisy is chatting with the family of hummingbirds who visit the bird feeder as if they were particularly friendly neighbors.

24 Willard & Maple


Daisy is all the proof I need that there is kindness and goodness and caring and love in this world. A gentle voice teaching me to be a little kinder and a little stronger when I’d thought the two were mutually exclusive. Daisy is my evidence that there is a God and all I’m really sure I know about Him is that his light shines from my grandmother. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say angels walk among humans but I do know that if they do there is at least one. Daisy is early morning coffee on the back porch no matter the weather waking up with flowers, hummingbirds, the coolness before sunrise. Darling, you are good enough, just as you are.

Volume XVIII

25


The Distance Between Us Ruben Rodriguez

Tomorrow, I will head out for a while. Not too long, but some time—the same distance as the gaps between her teeth. Not large enough to be missing a tooth, but the width to push the tip of a tongue, the space a static charge leaps from my fingertip to her cool soft skin. A break the size to imagine future. Lately, there are three types of days. The days of wonder, the days of questioning, and most often, the days I cry before sending fists through basement walls, a place she can’t see from the stairway. I know she never reaches bottom steps. She’s the kind to rise on toes atop the bottom step, call my name, and not hear me sobbing in the corner.

26 Willard & Maple


Hug James Nicola

A vulture's perched and watches from his inscrutable location, within or nearby, invisible, waiting to dart and grab a meal from those I love when my brother drinks or my nephew speeds. I've tried to squeeze the demons out of them by hugging well, for half a hug is nothing. A kiss is nothing either, or something that surrounds a nothing, but, like the passage of a birth or its fraternal inverse twin, death, the journey's made. Meanwhile I hold dear what my Nanny said, “hold your children close with open arms� and apply the riddle to adults too, when I am worried and can do nothing else. I'm not sure of the proper pressure to squeeze the doppelgangers out and thwart the buzzard, but nonetheless I try, again and again. If there is Nothing in an embrace but hope, well, Hope flies in the face of danger, being the opposite of Fear, and can't not. And I've felt the flutter and flap of the morbid bird

Volume XVIII

27


and glimpsed in your eyes the desert gaze of the ghoul about to spring to life and would bind his wings and seel his eyes. Right now. So come here. Embrace me. Tight. Even while the vulture's watching, waiting, drooling.

28 Willard & Maple


Moonshine Jelly Danny P. Barbare

Taking a bite of autumn. Eating a peanut butter sandwich. Dripping The Blue Ridge Mountains on my stomach. Moonshine Jelly. Like a sticky season wiped from the belly with a finger. Clear as the the day in a glass jar with a lid. A memory to savor into winter.

Volume XVIII

29


Rogue Geography Sara Dailey

If navel means central point or middle of place, perhaps I should start there with the topography of body, its cruel peaks and soft valleys. I would swim in your mouth, climb the mountain of you again and again, follow the river or lake or ocean edge of you, even if coastlines are never certainties. One can’t measure what won’t stay. Still, a body could sometimes be a boat, and this heart ride out each uncontrollable swell and pull of white-capped waves, learn to lean and lose itself in the indefinable contours of your rogue geography.

30 Willard & Maple


Angel seeds Sean Lause

The Cottonwood tree sets free its angels, its seeds that swirl like stray thoughts in the wind’s memory, astonish the light, involve the sun, and bind us to beginnings. They come in white shrouds over the town. They seem to sleepwalk through the air. They come like stars seeking new worlds. They come to become themselves. Some blanket the cars, some sway the winds. Some blow in questions to the moon. Some land in graveyards which yield and forgive. They blow wherever silence leads them. They burst through the gaping doors of the grocery, whispering alien voices down the aisles, tempting the shoppers with their Winter in Spring, to their land where all hunger ends. Outside, in the gardens, they seek their second life, whirling, yearning to cling deep where stillness and darkness answer their cries, and heaven, rooted, ripens into earth.

Volume XVIII

31


In The Land of the Hurricane Frances Leitch

In the land of wind and rain In the land of the hurricane In the land where the sea is wild and free wrestling with the life of me A dark shadow crossed the brow, furrowed, time worn now and slipped upon a coral reef beneath the land of vibrant belief Still strong beats the heart In the land by the sea torn, worn and nestled in the lap of a storm, oddly happy struggle land of sea and salt and water pours the bile out, land of moving sea, rock me

32 Willard & Maple


Ribbons Jordan Upshaw

The phrase “cut to ribbons” doesn’t really mean much to you until you’ve seen the arms of someone who wants to die. It’s not until your best friend rolls up the sleeves of her hoodie to show you the places she’s been trying to “cut the bad out” that you see how thin a razor can slice skin without it falling apart. When you notice the ribbons are bleeding through her sleeves you’re afraid to touch them. You worry that if you are too gentle they’ll just keep growing but too firm and they’ll unravel. You stand in the school bathroom and press paper towels to fragile flesh. You’re terrified tomorrow they might find her in a bathtub with two long red ribbons draped across her wrists. You can’t look away. If you do they might unspool, falling from her arms, sliding clean off the bone, taking the rest of her with them. When you overhear middle school girls with thick permanent marker lines encircling their eyes, exchanging Hot Topic coupons and romanticizing about ribbons, you wish you could show them real ones. By the way they speak you know that they have not really seen them. Ribbons are not beautiful, they are angry and red and screaming. They are enflamed, swelling with infection, polluted with debris, stinking like the prelude to a funeral. When she tells you she needs to cut out a night in February, your breath stops for a moment. You recall the glassy terror in her eyes when she once made you promise to walk home instead of accepting a ride. You try to tell her it was not her fault. Helplessly, you quote statistics gleaned from the internet. Tell her four out of five rapists are a friend or acquaintance of the victim, as if that’s supposed to make her feel better. Google “how to help survivors of sexual violence” and pray the internet has more to offer than statistics. The internet tells you to stay with your friend as much as possible. If the rapist is still around, make it your job to be a buffer zone shielding her from him. So you walk to classes together, eat lunch together, keep an eye out for him so she doesn’t have to. Every morning you go to school early and wait for her bus to arrive. You hope if you’re the first thing she sees at school rather than him she will keep coming. When a boy in your English class makes a rape joke, everyone laughs. Everyone other than you and your friend. You can see her digging her nails into

Volume XVIII

33


the sleeve of her hoodie. You tell the boy his joke wasn’t funny. He asks you what’s so bad about rape. You’re the one who winds up in the principal’s office for smashing his hand under your textbook. Her gratitude is well worth the punishment. She tells you the look on his face as you brought down the textbook was the first thing to make her laugh since it happened. But she still needs you to wait for her bus. She still suddenly bolts down the hallway before you’ve noticed him coming out of a classroom. You still look for blood on her sleeves and hide sharp objects. You catch her when she collapses on the floor of your bathroom. Her fingers clench and ache for the blades you’ve thrown away. While she sobs you imagine holding the razor yourself and wrapping every inch of his body up in ribbons like a beautiful, bloody present. You picture what his face would look like watching the flesh slide from his bones rather than hers. More than anything you want to hold him down in the back of your car and press the blade to his throat, see the fear in his eyes as you shout, “Stop fighting. You were asking for it. You deserve this.” Eventually she lets you pour peroxide across the ribbons to wash away the pus oozing from them. It hurts, so she lets you do it again. You scrub away debris until the blood that trickles out is clean. You use a rough cloth with as much force as you dare, hoping this pain you inflict will distract her from doing it herself. You do this every day until she’s ready to wrap her arms in thick white ribbons while the red ones turn into scar tissue.

34 Willard & Maple


Twenty Robins Daniel David

In this core of winter, when the snow is brittle, like old, kitchen linoleum, and the wood stands naked and shivering in a hollow room, its splendid, green gown now hanging in the closet, I am startled by twenty robins, a sudden blur of wings and beaks, rushing from sprig to sprig, fixed upon the tiny, violet berries gathered in the evergreen, the bush I considered cutting from the thicket. Not now! Never! For a moment I’m fooled, the windows thrown open. Spring! Spring! But these robins’ red throats are strangely silent, their songs neatly stacked in the cupboard like the best teacups. These robins are heedless of their bright, summer nurseries, the precious, azure gemstones swaddled in pine needle cradles. These robins forget their cravings, their usual feasts of crawling things shelved in the frozen cellar.

Volume XVIII

35


So preoccupied with their meal, I am invisible, a dry, useless weed or just another, inconsequential sparrow. Sometimes I’d prefer a broken bone or a split lip to the deep, purplish indifference, but this time, I find a perverse comfort in the robins’ neglect.

36 Willard & Maple


THE SNEEZE Mae Sullivan

It tickles my nose, And waters my eyes. It comes unexpected. It comes by surprise. It tastes like a memory In the back of my throat. It steals all my breath With every half note. It smells like the sycamore Down in the park. It feels like a match That just lit a spark. It looks like a blur Taking all your attention. Each hiccupping sniffle Hanging in frustrating suspension. Please let it just happen. I need sweet relief. A whole lot of build up For an action so brief.

Volume XVIII

37


Kristi Erren Geraud Kellyt

Gave me the best blowjob Of my life, once I walked by her bed And she gulped me Like jaws It was the only time In my life i Howled I like to reminisce Of days When We rode around Missoula, montata Amongst the mountains That had messages like “ legalize it,” Carved into them We’re not getting any Younger But I thank god for Recall For helping me to get the Feeling back

38 Willard & Maple


Fetish Robots Richard King Perkins II

The bright world stands over me in earliest turmoil bleaching greenery strumming the brittleness of sleeping sparrows. Gone are the nights when the moon drew down upon us a portal of ecstasy lightning splitting a black oak to the root— where sensual statues and fetish robots moved across a chevron field playing a game that had no rules but held deepest purpose nonetheless.

Volume XVIII

39


Improbable Twilight Lee Clark Zumpe

By 2 a.m., the rabble shuffled off, curb-crawling their way home beneath luciferous streetlamps, leaving the stragglers cowering in tenebrose tavern shadows. Those two made an unlikely couple: He, overwhelmed by the attention, sputtered vanilla flattery into her round, smiling face. She twirled red locks on a fingertip, her laughter virulent and jarring. Their mutual adoration – be it sincere or transitory – served as reparation for the disoriented throngs adrift on the improbable twilight.

40 Willard & Maple


Blacksmith Kelly Talbot

It begins with a ringing— a bullet piercing a breast plate, a prisoner dragging a chain— the sound of a man hammering, always trying to make something out of nothing. And so it begins, gripping roses in a vice, shaping notes into songs. When you can only see a white-hot light, forging a delicate heart for your sleeve with her name engraved across it. When you can only feel the vibration, stroke by stroke, you keep pounding iron into her, fire into you. When you can only hear the anvil scream, all these links cannot bind her. From your chain she slips free. Chest heaving, fingers trembling, you put down the hammer and stretch. You wipe away the dirt and sweat. You lie down. Smiling, you wonder what you will make tomorrow.

Volume XVIII

41


Fishface M. DeCapua

I’m hiding underneath his skin, gulping shallow little fish-breaths, and half-expecting a cloud of bubbles to spill from behind my ears with each one. I’m swimming in grey matter, and tangled in his sinewy seaweed arms. His hands, like waves, smooth down my hair; tender strokes rippling over my fragile skull. He runs his fingers over my heaving gills as though I’m a feverish child, cold sweats and shaky sobs. I feel myself go limp— I have been caught, hook through my lip, dragged above water into the sharp, dry air.

42 Willard & Maple


Easter Sunday Allen C. West

An oak has fallen in the woods’ bleached abstinence, its trunk, without fanfare, blocks the way. Thin-skinned sunlight rides the motes of April. To clear it away my rusty saw has jailed me here to many feet of tree. I cut a vee, angling the blade one way, then another, opening space to keep its teeth from sticking, hold my mind blank until the trunk has come apart like a broken Lacrimosa. Opening the path has cured my elbows’ aching, my mind that frays like a workshirt’s collar. Nerve-ends of my feet go numb. Sawing has pummeled my belly, will not leave me. Things slip down the chute to dark.

Volume XVIII

43


In My Backyard Mae Sullivan

Overalls muddied with two braids hanging down my back, I run out the back porch doors. My bare feet slab the patted down grass dotted with dewy tittles on each blade. There is a sun shower; what a magnificent concept. Feeling like I am in an in between world with a rainbow on my right, I rush to the blossoming magnolia tree. My sister is underneath it playing with dinosaurs, trading moss pads and raspberries between the nomadic tribes of theropods. We use tree roots as mountainous lands, making the creatures travel far and wide for rare pine needles. We switch to a new game. Grasshoppers pounce around us, playing with us; jumping in our hair and making us laugh. My sister takes out her paints from her pocket. I lightly clasp onto a grasshopper examining my buttons, and my sister pants a faint diamond on its back in white. I release it into the grass where it scampers away, probably to find its sister. Taking out her notepad filled with ideas, my sister writes, “ ◊ - Julius.” This entry is preceded by several others such as - Thompson, - Eurelia, - Rory, and -Bill. Whenever we sit with the grasshoppers they tend to come back. Although the world is big and they have no curfew, somehow our backyard was their state. Now that the grasshopper inventory was completed, we move on to our next stop. Picking up the strewn baseball bats scattered around the lightly misted weeds and grass, we stand side to side. Forehead to base of bat, we twirl for twenty seconds. Gradients of green blend into a tornado around me until my sister yells, “Go!” We dropped the bats, leaving them for our tomorrow-selves, and we run, run, run. First to make it to the swing set gets the juiciest blueberries and freshest mint leaves. Not as fast as my sister, I reach the swing a half second later than her. She does a close-eyed laugh as her unruly brown curls shake around her face. She starts pumping her legs, and in seconds she is soaring. I climb onto the second swing and try to catch up to her height. We are weightless when I am high enough to spot the witch’s castle. It peaked behind the tree line that separated our home from everyone else’s. The witch’s house had a gothic weathervane that spun rapidly every time I was lucky enough to spot the widow’s walk above the evergreens. We appointed it as the witch’s home, not knowing whether she was good or bad, but agreeing that she probably dabbled with each.

44 Willard & Maple


We climbed through the play set and tumbled down the slide racing to the blueberry bushes. As discussed, my sister got the juiciest between us, and we chewed on mint leaves until Emma and Max could be heard next door. Our backyards touched, however, a long strip of tall bushes separated us. Early that spring, my father had cut a round door in the bushes, making a long passageway directly into their backyard. In this passageway, we put easels, paintings, watercolor paints, notes, and berries that we would send to Emma and Max. When we weren't there, they would send us homegrown tomatoes and chocolates. The passageway was our halfway point where we would send gifts and messages. On good days, we would all be playing in our backyards. The voices were our invitation to travel inside. My sister and I quickly grabbed extra blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries from our bushes and shoved them in our overall pockets. Hands and lips stained, we made our way through. Emma and Max were playing with their black and white cat, which we have taken care of many times while they were away. Why they trusted a 10 and 6 year old alone in their home, I never understood. Every time we were asked to look over their cat, they gave us a house key, but we always climbed through the windows and ate their marshmallows. We spent an hour in their home each day playing with their cat, exploring their home, touching nothing but snacks. But today, they were home. We played on their zip line that crossed their yard and swiftly dispensed the rider into mud puddles. After these hours spent playing outside, the sun showers begin dying off with the last bit of light, and we get called inside for dinner. We play a haphazard game of chess with my dad as I stuff broccoli heads into my mouth. After dinner, my father smokes cigarettes on the porch. I throw out his pack into the garbage next to him because that's what I thought I should do, but he simply laughs and takes them out. I shrug and run out the porch door again. My sister and I revisit the swing set, but the feeling is different at night. We swing slower. Then the fireworks start. It is mid-spring; almost no real reasons for fireworks. It is midspring; so there is every reason for fireworks. We can’t see them, only hear them. Looking across the yard through the darkness, I see the faint glow of my father’s cigarette burning near a lamp as he reads. The fireworks slow and fizzle out. We bathe. Bubbly skin makes its way into a warm towel. I have a tree house room and my sister has a larger, brighter room that attracts a ceiling full of ladybugs in the summer. We play tiddlywinks in there all the time, when she lets me in. My room is small but hangs over the backyard, and my window looks out over it. This is spring, and then summer comes when sprinklers get turned on and Chelsea turns 11. Teeth fall out in the meantime. After summer it becomes fall and I turn 7, and this is when we put on sweaters and jump in large leaf piles

Volume XVIII

45


leaving an imprint of a child. Winter comes after this, and my sister tells me that if I keep digging in the snow, I will find the snow fairies that live their lives under inches of snowflakes. “They make burgers,” she tells me, “in fairy restaurants.” She goes inside to warm up, and I’d stay there for hours digging. Spring would come again. And this time my mom would put a fire in the fireplace, but leave all the windows and doors open just to create my favorite smell. My friends would come over, and we would play in my backyard. Then, a sun shower would occur, and I would think my friends’ fun was ruined, until they hollered and cheered and played in the mud with their overalls and braids. We swung on the swing set and crushed berries in our little palms. We put mint leaves on our tongues and thought how wonderful it is to be in this in between world with a rainbow to our right.

46 Willard & Maple


Regarding the Woman Across the Street John Grey

This poem is for the woman across the street. She disliked doctors. And now the ambulance is parked outside, its red lights spinning. And two rescue workers are inside her house doing their best to keep her alive. A heart attack, A stroke. Neighborhood whispers bring her close to death. My daughter catches my eye. Her five year old, "What's happening?" has no immediate answer. Happening. You have to love the word. It invokes something wild and free. At least, it did back in the day. This is more a case of "what's not happening?" A body on a stretcher hauled out of a door across the street will do that to you. People have gathered. They're all doom-faced. A lesson for my daughter I suppose just in case she thought the world too pretty with its garden flowers and lush summer trees. No, despite the regalia of cherry blossoms up and down the street,

Volume XVIII

47


the only paradise is a fool's one. She will learn that soon enough. But I can't get her away from the window. For now, it fills her with light. The sun's like a camera-man. Hold it there. Smile. It won't last.

48 Willard & Maple


Blackbird Tyler Bigney

The same day my best friend shot down a blackbird from the sky with a pellet gun, my father taught me how babies were made – a man and a woman lay in bed naked together. And I cried that night, because a week earlier, I had laid under a thin sheet with a girl, naked. Just talking. Not thinking bad thoughts, not thinking any thoughts. The warmth of our bodies inches apart, our breath lifting the sheet, then letting it collapse into our open mouths. The open mouth of the blackbird in the field under some maple, the heat. How he didn’t know what to do with it, or his guilt. I didn’t think I’d actually hit it. I thought I would miss. I didn’t know what to say, so I bent down and dug a hole with my fingers, and when the earth became too tough to dig, I used a stick. Both of us bent over in the sun like that, our backs burning, our necks a ring of fire, our mouths open, singing, because we’d been to funerals and that’s what people do there. Amazing Grace, backed by a sad violin. When the hole was deep enough, we buried him in it, mixed flowers in the dirt, so he’d have something to look at – his dreams in color.

Volume XVIII

49


House of Mirrors James Nicola

He felt at times like blowing up the world and heeded voices he thought were like him on TV, radio, CDs, videos, and strange and dangerous websites. One seemed to be summoning a meeting at the warehouse on the outskirts, on Friday the thirteenth at midnight, for some mischief. Not too bright, he thought that band with iron in their faces drove motorcycles, and that their tattoos of demonic icons spoke directly to him. And so he took his box of matches there. It was a new moon and the sky was overcast, so even the stars were blanked out. That edge of town there were no streetlights, so other than the light on his bike, the night was as black as what he might have imagined hell to be without the flames, had he given it a thought. The four-inch door ajar (an eerie twist, he thought, in retrospect), he eased on in and whispered, then spoke plainly, then yelled out, Hello. Is anybody here? Pitch, quiet, not even a slow dripping from the eaves, no rustle of an animal, nor leaves with the wind. No sight, no nothing. And he stood in the middle—of what, he’d no idea. And then he lit a match. His pupils grown big from the night and the blackness, the one small flame blinded him with its sizzle and flash. More so because, he realized after a minute and he could focus, that one flame was reflected in a hundred shiny surfaces

50 Willard & Maple


arranged at every which angle, on the wall, on the floor, leaning against each other, opened from boxes and crates. It had been the last shipment, now caked in dust, but never moved or sold decades ago after the flood, when the mirror factory went bust. He lit another match, another hundred came back; like perfecting a magic, he did it again and again. He was almost graceful there in his dance with light. Exhausted, alive, he ran out of matches at last and emerged. No dark comrades were going to show up. But the stars did. He looked up to them. The sky was full of them. Have you ever seen the sky revealed in its full splendor after a rain or fog, the air so moist and clean that everything sparkles and glitters, and—oh, you have, well then, you know. Well add to this the fact that just then his bike light went out, so it was the stars that brought him home. Nowadays, when he goes shopping with his wife and kids and comes across one of those 3-way mirrors for trying clothes on, he flicks his lighter again and again like a fool—really like a 12-year old— to see the hundred flames that shine right back, dependable as anything in science, or life, or heaven. Once his son asked him why he did, You’ve been doing that since I can remember. The man scooped the boy up, kissed his cheeks till they were wet, and squeezed him, lifting him up off the ground— In public! The boy has never asked again.

Volume XVIII

51


Day at the Bookstore Michelle Nguyen

Today, endorphins replace the cortisone That had flooded my veins for weeks, As my nose cuddles closer with Tomes perfumed with mildew. My fingertips caress the creased spines That mark years past. Hey, honey. You’re looking fine today. My spine shivers, but it’s easy to blame The AC whose heart is like the Snow Queen’s. And I move on, pressing against soft, Yellowed pages, velvety like my skin, And say goodbye, feeling traitorous As I move on to taste newer flesh. Hi, lovely. I haven’t seen you Around before. Why don’t you come here, Let us get better . . . acquainted. And I paste a wobbly smile on my face, Looking like a five-year-old’s crafts project. Adventuring into a land where science And fiction clash like lovely, Sharp assassin’s knives, sparking Death but beautiful still. Your hair looks so pretty. Wouldn’t it be Prettier on my pillowcase? And I hide my face behind The bound companion that I’ve chosen,

52 Willard & Maple


Using it like a fan, as I mirror The geisha his eyes paint over my body. Sweetheart, is your skin as soft as it looks? Don’t you want some company tonight? No. Thanks. Not really. I don’t want to see How your pizza-stained graphic tee Will look mingled with my sheets. I don’t want to feel how the tangled briars On your face feel against mine. Because I don’t need company like yours. I’d rather spend my time with pages Who blush when they glimpse a bared ankle, And whittle away the moon with knights Who fight fear, rather than Bring more of it into the world. So no, thanks. I’m off to better company.

Volume XVIII

53


Blues from the Stepdown Ward Terry Sanville

I think it was nighttime when they moved me out of the ICU. I stared up at overhead air conditioning vents slipping past. My gurney turned into a huge dark room. Two nurses slid me onto a bed near the far wall, hung IVs, handed me the call button with the TV controls, then vanished. Golden light filtered in from the hallway. The ward was quiet, the first silence I’d enjoyed in a week, at least I thought I’d been there that long. The sheets quickly became sodden with my sweat. The nurses said I had a fever from an infection of the surgical incision in my gut. The doctor had been called. I waited for him in the darkness, trying to focus on something other than recent events that landed me in the hospital. But those images proved too vivid: vomiting clotted blood all over our kitchen, bleeding out from a huge stomach ulcer. There’d been no warning. If it wasn’t for my wife’s quick actions, if I lived alone, I’d be dead. I wiped sweat from my eyes, clicked on the TV and surfed the channels. On some public station two guys clutched acoustic guitars and sang old style blues. I recognized the songs as those written by Robert Johnson and one of the guitarists as Eric Clapton. I studied his hands, listened to the sweet blue notes, and sang along. The music seemed to meld with my fever and for a few moments I was sitting on a stool next to Eric, watching him play and plunking along on my L-4 Gibson. Then the lights blinked on. “Ya know why they call him ‘slow hand?’” my surgeon asked, motioning to the TV. He was a short stocky Asian who spoke without an accent. “You mean Clapton?” I answered. “I’ve heard that nickname but could never figure it out ’cause a lot of his playing is really fast.” “You’re right. But he takes time to add just the right touch to each note he plays.” The surgeon leaned over me and stripped away the square white bandage covering my stomach wound. I groaned as the tape pulled up hair and skin, focused on the TV, and watched Eric’s fingers, trying to memorize what I saw. This doc was definitely no ‘slow hand’ physician. “Your incision is infected,” the doctor pronounced. “Got to open it up and let it drain.”

54 Willard & Maple


“You gonna do that here?” I asked. “You gonna give me something to knock me out?” “Won’t take but a minute,” he answered in a soft voice and reached for a device to remove the surgical staples. “This part shouldn’t hurt.” Removing the staples from the five-inch incision actually tickled. I stared at the TV as Clapton and his partner began the introduction to Johnson’s “Crossroad Blues.” “Okay, now, on the count of three I’m going to open the wound.” The surgeon placed a thumb flat against my stomach on either side of the vertical incision and drew the skin tight. I began to softly sing along with Eric. “I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees.” “One.” “Went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees.” “Two.” “Asked the Lord above have mercy, save poor Terry, if you please." “Three.” I grunted, held my breath, and felt the barely-knit skin pull apart and the wound open up. Blood and pus flowed down my lower abdomen. “Standing at the crossroad, tried to flag a ride.” “I’ll be done in just a minute,” the doctor said and quickly dabbed at the drainage with a sterile dressing. “You did great, a real trooper.” “Standing at the crossroad, tried to flag a ride.” He wadded up a piece of gauze and poked around in the inch-deep incision. I waited for my guts to come popping out, but they mercifully stayed put. “Didn't nobody seem to know me, everybody pass me by.” “That’s one of my favorite blues songs,” the doctor said and stepped back, stripping bloodied latex gloves from his hands. “The nurse will be in to redress the wound. Rest easy and enjoy the music.” I continued staring at the television, not wanting to look anywhere else. I felt like I’d just been in a knife fight and was laid out on the hard plank floor of some Southern juke joint. Black people stare down at me as the band plays on. The place smells of sweat and reefer. In one corner a slender, full-lipped mulatto wipes his jackknife on an immaculately white handkerchief and slips it into a vest pocket. A lit cigarette precariously dangles from his mouth. A golden-skinned woman sits on his lap and nuzzles his neck. He grins at me and sings along with the band. “Standin' at the crossroad, baby, risin' sun goin' down Standin' at the crossroad, baby, eee, eee, risin' sun goin' down I believe to my soul, now, poor Terry is sinkin' down.”

Volume XVIII

55


A heavy-set black woman with a stethoscope draped around her neck stood over me and stared at the surgeon’s handiwork. She tsked to herself and poked at my incision with a gloved finger. “Looks clean, nice and red. That’ll heal up fine once we get the infection under control.” She hung an IV bag of Cipro on the stand, tied a tourniquet below the elbow of my right arm and went searching for a vein, finding one on the third poke. I focused on the TV and continued to sing along with Eric and the boys. “And I went to the crossroad, mama, I looked east and west I went to the crossroad, baby, I looked east and west Lord, I didn't have no sweet woman, ooh well, babe, in my distress.” “What’s that you’re singing?” the nurse asked. “Sounds like somethin’ my Grandpa would know.” From a needless syringe she dribbled a clear liquid into my open wound and swabbed it out with gauze. I groaned and drew deep whistling breaths through clenched teeth. The nurse was quick and efficient. She placed four-by-fours and a new white dressing over the incision and taped it down. “You’re not from the Delta, are you?” I finally asked, breathing hard. “You mean Mississippi? Lord no, born right here in Los Angeles. But my grandparents sharecropped outside of Clarksdale, years before the war.” “Yeah, well, that song was recorded in 1936.” “I don’t pay much attention to old blues music. But I sing gospel in church.” “Close enough.” “Yes, but in church, we sing to rejoice and praise the Lord, not to complain about losing a woman, or some such notion.” “For me, singing sweet blues is the same as rejoicing – just a different way of doing it… helps me know what I’m feeling is real.” The nurse stared at me for a long moment and nodded. “Yes, I can see that. If I had a hole in my belly, I’d probably be doing the same.” She chuckled and turned to leave, humming. Her deep contralto voice blended perfectly with the tinny sounds coming from the two white men singing on television. Sometime after midnight my fever broke. I drifted off to sleep and dreamed about singing with long-dead blues men, learning even more lessons about suffering and rejoicing, learning till my fingers felt thick and full with all of it.

56 Willard & Maple


Your Noise is Bad and You Should Feel Bad M. Dietsche

The minutes ticked by, no every second has crawled into each other yet blurred into sluggish mental molasses fog too stringy to pick out of my gums, too dense to be spun into sweet, – will not be entered into long-term memory. I made a pot of coffee that morning but in an eyeliner rush drank not a drop. Perhaps the lack of caffeine, or a stimulant of any kind dulled the senses; wore down the nerves the focus lost and ill-timed. I’m not entirely trying to make excuses only shape a hazy blanket to wrap my mind into cozy bunker down silence as you birthed white noise of a literal sense into in the air. I had thought there was no way I could form a lower opinion of your cadences drop pitch and roll over the smooth glass of our conversation so I suppose I should be impressed you somehow managed to drag my taste buds further into the dirt over your sentence structure. Our school’s main subject is well-formed opinion you’ve got the second half down just fine. The first needs work.

Volume XVIII

57


Cerulean and Yellow Kenneth Nichols

In the sunlight, her cerulean gown flows like her flaxen curls kissing yellow warmth upon verdant glade and urban canyon to buoy those unafraid of her gifts. His darkness offers comfort as temporary as the strawberry’s rush when crushed on the tongue. Deep fears are bamboo growing into planted feet. Those who see her squint to see detail, but no two agree about the shape of her nose or which constellation is spelled out in her smile. Green and avarice. Verde y voraz.

58 Willard & Maple


21 Snapshots Kathryn Bullock

Somebody reached up and brushed the sky with two fingers. Acrylic paint collected on his fingertips and began to drip down to his palm. He kneaded the stain, brushed and stroked it, flicked some sunshine onto it, and created my eyes, the eyes I have today, the eyes I had twenty-one years ago. My sister sang to me as she smoothed her thumb over the soft skin along my hairline, beside my closing eye. My dad waited for his cue to help, glancing past the only wooden door in the house to see me swinging my legs on the toilet. The runt kitten snuggled into the corner of a cardboard box as we begged, with knees on the musty carpet, to keep her. The neighbor plucked vegetables from her garden with vine-like fingers and handed me a rattling gourd. My mom patted my hot blonde head as I hugged my giant stuffed dog in the driveway of our new locked house.

Volume XVIII

59


My grandma wagged her finger at my mud-caked t-shirt and tried not to smile when she scolded me for going near the water. The stars flickered behind the winter clouds and I bounced a basketball with dirty fingerless gloves on my chapped hands. My friends chased me on roller skates, waving glowsticks above the bright yellow visors my mom fastened on their heads. The dirt crumbled under my sneakers as I climbed through the pool trenches and bathed in fire smoke and sunscreen. My new puppy swiped the husks away from the shucked corn and I fruitlessly rolled down the grassy hill to catch her. My mom comforted me over the phone as I sobbed about my bloodied Monday undies, realizing that the whole week set was ruined. The bus driver barreled toward the back of the bus, hitting the seats on the way, and threatened to hold us there if we didn’t confess to throwing the crayon. The principal sighed when I wiped my tears with the back of my hand and showed her the ugly notes the bullies shoved into my locker. The band performed on a stage in front of thousands and I screamed, my cheeks damp with salty adoration. My family coaxed me into the garage on my birthday, promising skunks but

60 Willard & Maple


delivering a new red Beetle with a bow on it. My friends sprawled across the lawn on the last night of summer camp and, giggling, sang my name as I recorded them on my phone. My sister squeezed my hand as we kissed my sick puppy’s soft head and walked away from her for the last time. The girl ripped a paper towel out of the dispenser and handed it to me when I whimpered for home in the new college bathroom. The boy yelled out the chipped window and warned me to make up my mind as I kicked at the gravel with my sneaker. My grandma called goodbye to my dad and I as we left out the screen door the day before she passed. My sister ducked behind a parade of umbrellas to hide her white dress from the crowds of loved ones in the rain. The eyes I have today are the eyes I had twenty-one years ago and every day in between. Life lives in their acrylic skies, sunshine, and shadows. Now they’re exploring a sunset tapestry, dancing over twinkling fairy lights, gazing at a dusty guitar, and traveling through beach scenes on wooden surfboards.

Volume XVIII

61


It’s No Fun Ruben Rodriguez

It’s no fun, choking on water. There’s that hope that turns cough tickle lingering round esophagus brim. Reminder that this failure has taken the throat. The words. Swallow.

62 Willard & Maple


Hospice Megan Hoins

They told me I’d get a room with a view, but, to be honest, a blank wall isn’t much of a view. Sometimes they bring in photos to put there, right where I can see them, but they’re always too small. When they bring them closer, I’m never able to tell who’s in the photos. They’re strangers, I say. “Those are your children.” “These are your grandchildren.” Oh. I haven’t seen them in so long, I’ve forgotten. It’s been ten years since I’ve seen my daughter. It’s been twelve since I’ve seen my son. I don’t think I ever met my grandchildren, except in Christmas cards. I don’t think those really count. *** Sometimes they take me out for walks, but I never get very far. “To the end of the hallway and back.” I only make it outside the door. *** The food here isn’t very good. All slush, like snow, but brown. I don’t think food is supposed to look like that, but who am I to complain. I think I used to make food for myself, but I can’t recall what I used to make. “Apple pies, I think. And home-cooked dinners.” That sounds about right, I’ll say, but it really doesn’t. I look at my hands, curled on the bedsheets, and I can’t see them ever kneading dough, or holding a pan’s handle, or chopping up vegetables. I can only see them shaking. *** The woman who comes into my room is new today. “You remember me, don’t you?” No, I say. I don’t think we’ve met. “I’m Marge, dear. Remember?” No, I say again, but that’s a lovely name. Marge smiles, but I can see the strain in it. They all seem to think I can’t see their

Volume XVIII

63


own stress, the lines etched into their faces, and they treat me like I’m a child. I’ve lived this long. I can see when someone isn’t telling the truth. “Mrs. Ainsberry, I’m your nurse. I just visited yesterday.” I tell her my name isn’t Ainsberry, it’s Neill. Mary Neill. Marge’s smile grows taut, like an old string. “Of course, Ms. Neill.” Was I ever married? “I think so. Do you remember your husband?” No, I say, after a moment. I don’t think I do. *** A new woman walks into my room. I don’t think I recall her face. “Hello, Ms. Neill!” My name is Ainsberry. I’m a married woman, don’t make out that I’m not. “Of course, of course. Do you remember me?” I don’t remember anything anymore. I don’t say that. I tell her instead, yes. You’re… Oh, it’s on the tip of my tongue… “Marge!” Yes, Marge, that was it! I don’t tell her that she is as unfamiliar as the bed I’m lying in. She starts to chat away, and my gaze drifts to the wonderful view I have of the white wall. It’s covered in photos, but somehow, it’s still blank. *** No one walks into my room. I don’t know what time it is. I take a look over at the wall, and I think I remember there being photos there. There still are, but they’re hard to see from way over here. I want to say something, but I’m not sure how to put it. My name. That’s easy enough. I’m. I’m. I don’t quite recall, actually. Maybe I’ll remember tomorrow, when I’m not thinking about it. That’s how it all comes back, isn’t it?

64 Willard & Maple


2:45 a.m. Lee Clark Zumpe

lying awake at 2:45 a.m. watching leafy shadows painted by the moon quivering on the window blinds this is when I fear the road ahead the most – this is when the stretch of highway facing me seems entirely impassible and I feel the burning in my stomach like a clot of sandspurs grinding against the lining of my belly later on I sleepwalk along the edge of the pavement pressing into your soft shoulder

Volume XVIII

65


Outside of Birmingham Stefanie P. Buckner

Outside of Birmingham, a young girl’s playfulness dies in the pale white of spilt milk, as a Baptist father does the best he knows how by bellowing out words like stupid and orphanage and no more. Outside of Birmingham, a young boy’s attempt to catch a ground ball hits a root and falls short, as an alcoholic father persists in profanities towards his son (not the root), dumping a legacy of damn and shit and no more. Outside of Birmingham, the girl and boy’s unplanned encounter expands into love, cautious and intentional as 5:00 traffic, while their fathers watch desire become devotion and a wedding become a family, full of new and cherish and forever and more. Yet now, years later and still outside of Birmingham, the girl and boy’s own daughter declares demands, delusions, and distance that push her parents into their past—that story of stupid and shit and no more—the very story they have spent their lives trying to rewrite. And she, as cold and bitter blind as a snow cloud, makes a nothing out of something, makes the milk spill all over again and the ground ball roll on, uncaught.

66 Willard & Maple


The 31st Caitlin Thomson

We don’t talk about the coins on the lawn, but I think of them every Halloween, turning the corner dressed as Red Riding Hood, and seeing kids scurry back and forth across our front yard. Spider-man ran up to us, “There is money on that lawn” he said, “I found two bucks.” Quarters gleamed in his palm before he closed his fist around them and ran off. Monique, the neighbor girl, hired for the dispensing of candy, of change for UNICEF, was nowhere to be seen. The door was unlocked and my father made us wait on the front porch as he searched inside. My brother in a hamburger suit watched as children our age pulled nickels from the bushes. I investigated the porch. The large wicker basket containing all our families change, Canadian and American, was empty. My father tucked us into the same bed, just in case. I wish it ended here, but it didn’t.

Volume XVIII

67


Chameleon Eyes Shawn Tkach

Blue Or were they grey? Or were they only blue When they were in the sun? Except, they rarely saw the sun Because it hurt too much. So they were covered by shaded glasses And turned grey again. Even so, Those who knew her best Would say she had blue eyes. So there it is.

68 Willard & Maple


Empty Bowl Daniel David Did the young prince sleep, I have often wondered, did his stomach rumble? Did Siddhartha eat under the boughs of the Bodhi tree? Forty-nine days, then nirvana! Now the Buddha, he picked up his empty bowl and sought his supper on the street. Buddha beggar – blessed panhandler. Buddha became that man on the subway proffering a paper cup. A vast portion of Buddha’s day, busy between bouts of awakening, was spent seeking his buffet. I can’t help but recall The Little Red Hen: if we all cup empty bowls of nirvana, every farmer’s ideal, who tills the soil, sows the seed, who threshes the sheaves, mills the flour, who kneads and bakes the dough? Who lays the bread in Buddha’s empty bowl? And, by the way, who wove Buddha’s brilliant, saffron robe? At least Jesus dished loaves and fishes, turned water into wine, bellies content after the sermon. (Did they hear any of it when hungry?) Did the Buddha ladle a little dose of enlightenment for his repast?

Volume XVIII

69


Summer Love M. Dietsche

I had the dream again the one that affixed itself to the back of my eyelids a waking haunting impossible to ignore. Sometimes the event itself a carnival side-show romance, a horrific flame sparking to life and death my old pretty moth wings, floating down ashes – blurs to a nightmare, but then the phantom pain of your fingerlight touch and the tightening around my throat paralytics I brought to my lips and the isolation of licking them clean – repetition, not cliché like a broken record but the hum of the tattoo gun, clusters of needles. Teach me the comfort of your arms until I lose the instinct for running scared of predators then release me back into the wild. For a long time you were the sandy crust after tears, the awakening at early dawns – we have distance now, a fighting ring and miles of highway. A part of me will always hate you, impressed into my skin but needing to rip me apart, because you don’t know it yet I’ve kept it from you. But here, hidden deep in the concrete of my words, I feel the air bubbles ripple, shaking my lungs for the last molecules burrowed away for myself, webs that suffocate me to keep me afloat. Even now I cannot deny the edge you defined me with – the shadows under my eyes.

70 Willard & Maple


Stupid Questions James Nicola

There are no stupid questions, only stupid people who say stupid things like “That’s a stupid question,” and make a loved one miserable as I just did.

Volume XVIII

71


Breaking the Engagement Spencer Smith

He looked at me in that way as if to say his future had shifted to a new color in contrast to my drab dun, as if opening a box of crayons and realizing that cerulean and forest green remained untried, their tips new and unworn, his eyes focused on some hue of tomorrow, having already catalogued me in the archives of his past, the gift of my presence not dowry enough for such as he.

72 Willard & Maple


Sensing You Shawn Tkach

I feel you in silence In the pause between each breath I feel you in the stillness When the wind grows tired and rests I hear you in the desert place When the sand begins to spray I hear you in a crowded room When I’ve nothing left to say I taste you in the sweetness In the honey on my bread Still I taste you in the bitterness The remembrance of things you’ve said Your fragrance is a memory The days of jubilance and youth Wisteria surrounds me The wind reveals this truth I see you in the barren moon A faithful lookout In the lee I see you in the light of day A constant calling, still to me.

Volume XVIII

73


Dybbuk Ruben Rodriguez

In Jewish mythology, a dybbuk is a malicious possessing spirit, believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person. It supposedly leaves the host body once it has accomplished its goal—sometimes after being helped. My dybbuk hid your drawings out of sight, placed between pages you once fingered. You sparkling till change came to posses us. Later I found a cardstock cover of my favorite book creased from your mishandling. When I come across the drawings, I’ll remember the book cover.

74 Willard & Maple


A Different Lens Aileen Casey

It’s all different here. Where my mind is, where my thoughts are. It’s so clean. My hands, my feet, and the clothes I wear walking the streets, It’s all clean. Life seems simpler, But more complicated at the same time, more things. More things to pay for, to care for, and make look nice. More people to impress, keeping your nail beds clean, feeling the need to change your store-bought torn t-shirt when a drop of coffee drips off your lower lip on your morning commute to a 9 to 5 desk job. Standing still, amidst the everyday commuters, Life moves as fast as thruway traffic. No one set of eyes looking left or right to take in their surroundings, Afraid to lock eyes, as if one can see all the impurities that lie beneath. Moving too quickly to appreciate the natural beauty, Too fast to smell the change in seasons, the dew that lies on the golden leaves on a fall morning, or the first site of a budding tulip in the early spring, Immersed in the everyday pressure to work hard, play hard. Taking two steps to the side, I am reminded of the simplistic life I was once a part of, Living off of the land, grateful for clean water to hydrate my insides, without any rainfall, there remained hope. Hope amongst the chaos, the chaos that seemed more tolerable, A place where things slowed down, even amidst the everyday commute. Horses and bikes passing on the right, While the women balance 30 lbs on top their heads, The commute is a part of life,

Volume XVIII

75


Whether one has to stick their thumb out on the side, Saddle up, or let the wind blow through their hair in the bed of a truck, Life is taken one moment at a time. At 8 years old, taught to drive a horse drawn carriage down a winding, dirt road, The age of 10, given no choice but to turn away from their books, To keep their heads up high, But you can see it in their eyes, That no matter where or how time goes by, each moment, recognized.

76 Willard & Maple


The Time Has Come Kelly Talbot

Stirring the embers of the fire, trying to keep the bright white flame raging along the edges of each scarlet piece of kindling, desperately gasping for oxygen and blazing, wild-eyed, furiously, as it consumes the precious fuel that slowly smolders away, I pause to consider where it originates. These branches must have snapped in gale-force winds under the weight of the coldest, heaviest frozen rain. What was once alive died long before the trees they came from will die, but die the trees will, eventually. Everything runs its course, gradually flickering down to the last few choking moments before it is snuffed from existence. This is my reverie as I shove the stick into the last few charred pieces of what was. My knuckles contort around the thick spruce as I look across the fire at you, old friend, your frail skull, your soft, white eyes, and I jab the stick harder into the ashes, violently thrusting into the final sparks in the crumbling soot. I haven’t done anything wrong yet.

Volume XVIII

77


Blue Collar Parthenon #2 Kenneth DiMaggio

Mt. Olympus Diner sanctuary for the days you did not feel like going to General Casmir Pulaski High School which if you don’t start attending Gus the toothpick chewing owner says he’ll get you a job scraping all the gum from under the tables but is it true he once found an artificial leg in one of the booths and a glass eye in the bottom of one his cups pictured with the Acropolis which Gus proudly points out is where Democracy began while Kashia the Polish waitress notes how this diner is where Democracy ends as she serves the Mayor who comes in everyday promises to get to the bottom of things even the customer who left her a leg instead of a tip and “Will ya take your business elsewhere?” Gus yells to a guy only known as Sebby Samples and who sells me a pack of firecrackers and to the customer eating apple sauce a pair of false teeth and because I was there and not in woodshop when an old one-legged man hobbled in on crutches and asked if anybody found a shank and when the one that Gus had saved did not fit --again because I was there and not in Introduction to American Civilization

78 Willard & Maple


we all took up a collection for him to buy a limb that would fit and also see how something like Democracy was very much alive

Volume XVIII

79


Le Discours sur la Paix Jacques Prévert (1900-1977), Kim Cushman

Vers la fin d’un discours extrêmement important le grand homme d’État trébuchant sur une belle phrase creuse tombe dedans et désemparé la bouche grande ouverte haletant montre les dents et la carie dentaire de ses pacifiques raisonnements met à vif le nerf de la guerre la délicate question d’argent.

80 Willard & Maple


The Speech About Peace Jacques PrĂŠvert (1900-1977), Kim Cushman

Near the end of an extremely important speech the great statesman tripping over a fine hollow phrase tumbles inside and helpless mouth open wide gasping exposes his teeth and the cavity in his peaceful reasoning strikes the raw nerve of war the sensitive question of silver.

Volume XVIII

81


To Want the World Alexis Dunn

Does it matter that my breath is short? Does that mean my life is fleeting? Does it mean that my love is all but gone? Does it mean that it might be over? My existence could very well be a fallacy. Can I still smile towards the wind? Will I still be able to sing to the clouds? I want to cry with the sun, And sleep with the rain. I want to fall with the leaves, And absorb the chill of the grass. I will drink the dew in the morning, And smoke the fog at night. I will inhale the world. Fill my veins with its vastness. Disappear into the soil, And blow away with the breeze.

82 Willard & Maple


Espirales Aileen Casey

Sprouts begin as seedlings, Breaking through the surface once enough nutrients absorbed. A fiddlehead spins round and round, Coiling itself taller, and taller, Creating a spiral of green envy. Leading from outer consciousness, Of the boxes that take up space in our minds. Ego, lies so heavy, The outward perception that we are so protective of, And the materialism that overflow the slots like a button about to pop. Between these movements within the spiral, There lies a deeper meaning, One more positive. If we look into the head of the fiddle, We see not only the greed But a path from the outer to the inner soul. Enlightenment, Nirvana, With our unseen essence, We awaken our cosmic awareness. Movements between the inner And the outer world, Mark the evolution of humankind, And visions of rebirth and regrowth become present, Allowing us to create connectivity to the divine.

Volume XVIII

83


Missing Robert McGuill

The cabin was a tragedy. Its log walls were in want of chinking, its roof cried for shingles and pine tar, and its stone foundation, ravaged by a half century of cruel mountain winters, begged the relief of the tuckpointer’s trowel. It was a home as hard-used as the man himself, but in its bones Locker had seen salvation. A hunting cabin? his ex said in a deflated voice when he called after months of silence. In the Elkheads? She’d sighed, biting back tears. I know you hate me and you won’t believe this, but I worry about you being alone, Billy. Up there with no one else around. Locker closed his eyes. Pressed his fingers against them until a burst of color shot through his skull like flames. He would never get over her, he thought. Not now, not ever. Are you there? Yeah, I’m here. He heard her breathing. Billy? Yeah? If I could change things, I would. He said nothing. Please, Billy. Don’t be that way. He stared through the dusty glass of the phone booth. The street was empty, save for an old man in a hat walking a dog. It’s the way I am, Adele. The way I’ve always been. You want different, go talk to your other man. I don’t have another man. It was a mistake. It happened a long time ago. Yeah, well, not long enough I guess. Billy. A magpie squawked, and his eyes rose to find it. It was perched on the limb of an oak tree. The old man and the dog had disappeared behind a brick house with a picket fence. It’s over with, Adele. Leave it. She’s yours, Billy, not his. You’re her father. Yeah, well, blood test says different, doesn’t it.

84 Willard & Maple


She needs you, Billy. You’re the only father she’s ever known. She doesn’t understand what’s happened to us. She doesn’t understand why you left. She’s angry and hurt. He closed his eyes. Billy? You should’ve been straight with me, Adele. That, or you should’ve drug a bigger branch behind you. If I hadn’t run across those papers with my own two eyes, I’d be as ignorant today as I was at the get-go. I loved you, Adele. That’s as complicated as it ever got for me. Oh, Billy. She misted up. He could hear it in her voice. She started to sob, and when she did the gentility he’d struggled to hold onto began to dissolve, and he wanted to kill her. Take her off at the neck. Both barrels. Don’t, he said. Stop it. What’s going to happen to you? How will you get by with no job? There’s contract work up here. Enough to put groceries on the table. I talked to Wildlife Services. The county, too. A fella I met over at the store told me about a couple of private contractors might need a hired gun to do some varmint control. Again, silence. What about Lexie? What about her? You’re just so far away. He stopped her, flat out. Before she could go any further. I’ve got a room fixed up here. A real nice room. She’ll like it. It looks out through the forest to the mountains. There’s snow on the peaks. It looks like a Christmas card. He didn’t say so, but he’d gone off and gotten a kitten, too. An olive-eyed tortie he rescued from the shelter and planned to surprise the girl with when she came for her first overnight. It didn’t have a name, the tortie. He’d wanted Lexie to do the honors there, thinking it would make them feel like family again if she was to have a stake in the christening. When are you coming? Like I said. Sunday. She’s so upset, Billy. Just have her ready. Please. When Sunday came round, he drove down the pass and into town as promised. But Lexie had locked herself in her room, refusing to go with him. They spoke through the door, painful words passing between them. Locker listened,

Volume XVIII

85


wearily, with his forehead resting against the wood, and when the girl told him she hated him, that he wasn’t her father anymore, he turned and walked away, knowing he would never come back. The chips falling as they had, the little tortie remained nameless. Locker tried, mightily, to find something suitable by which to call her, but in the end his imagination failed him and the best he could manage was “Kitten.” Over the course of time he would come to think highly of the marauding little beast. It proved itself a gentle companion, listening patiently with open eyes whenever he came down with the urge to talk, and at night it was his unlikely protector, curling around his neck, warding off bad dreams with its determined little purr. Locker observed the tortie and wondered sometimes if his luck had changed. If he’d turned the corner on his troubles. But the answer to his question arrived like an overdue bill when the unnamed cat went missing. He spent five bitter nights tramping through the woods, swinging a lantern, calling after the animal. But no luck. He knew as well as anything that a coyote had gotten her. Or something worse. But he told himself there was nothing to be done about it. The kitten’s time had come, just as his own would one day, and only a fool would think otherwise. Locker had foresworn the bottle after the breakup of his family—there had been too much temptation to drown himself—but one night after dreaming of the kitten, an unsettling darkness gripped him and he rose from his bunk as if consumed by fever. He pushed down the blankets. Staring through the window into the great black void of the sky, he counted and recounted his grievances against God. It took him the entire night to tally his woes, but with the coming of the sun all oaths of abstinence found themselves vanquished. He rose and scoured the cupboards, desperate for a drink. Anything to cool his brain. But he’d been too clever for his own good when he’d rid the cabin of alcohol, and though he searched every nook and cranny, there was nothing to be found. Not even a bottle of vanilla, a tin of sterno. His eyes fell to the truck keys on the table, and he snatched them up and struck for the door. The pickup was parked beneath the trees by the creek. He climbed in the cab and cranked the ignition and pumped the gas pedal, cursing the engine as it choked to life. Then he pulled onto the washboard road and drove away. The back bed fishtailed, but he kept his boot hard to the floorboard. The balding tires spat gravel into the air. He bought a quart bottle at a liquor store whose windows were shuttered with

86 Willard & Maple


iron bars, and the clerk who took his money—a small, walleyed man—gave him a grim look when he opened his fist and allowed a wad of crumpled bills to fall from his hand. It was Locker’s intention to down the contents of that bottle in one long series of chugs the moment he walked out of the store. Which he would have done had he not stepped directly into the path of a young woman hurrying down the sidewalk. The bottle fell, breaking into a million pieces. “Oh, Christ,” the woman said, tragically, as if it were his heart and not a bottle of booze that lay shattered on the pavement. “I’m so sorry.” Locker watched as the whisky ran into the gutter. “Are you all right?” she asked. “Yeah. Sure.” Embarrassment flooded his face. His eyes fled from her gaze, returning to the broken bottle. She asked a second time if everything was all right, and he couldn’t help himself. He broke down. It was the first kind thing anyone had said to him in so long he couldn’t remember. But he worried she would think he was crying over the bottle. He told her he’d lost his kitten. His kitten! He must have sounded like the biggest liar in the world. And yet she didn’t back away. She didn’t even frown. She just stood there with her comforting brown eyes, nodding as if she believed every ridiculous word. “Where did it go missing?” she asked. “Maybe I can help you find it.” He pointed to the mountains. She looked. The snowy peaks stretched beneath the ragged blue sky from one end of the earth to the other, infinite in their cruelty. She turned back and closed her fingers over his trembling hand. His shoulders shook, and he shut his eyes. His chin dropped to his chest. Improbable as it seemed, or perhaps not so improbable after all, Locker and the young woman became friends, and later still, lovers. One night as they lay in bed, Locker asked her why she’d shone no fear of him the day he’d come stumbling out of the liquor store. He could only imagine the sight he must have presented. A tramp, weeping over a bottle of whisky! He might well have been an abductor of women, he told her. A murderer’s murderer. What had she been thinking, casting her lot with a bum like him? She deliberated the question at some length. But when she answered him, her

Volume XVIII

87


reply contained no artifice. No apology. There was nothing to fear, she said, because there was nothing more honest or irresistible in this hard luck world than a man with a broken heart. She’d done right in choosing to help him, she said, and their being together in his bed this very evening proved the wisdom of her decision. Locker rose and went to stand before the fire, shadows playing on his grizzled beard. He took up the poker and stabbed at the glowing logs, and a shower of sparks crackled up from the embers. Had she ever doubted his story about the kitten? No, she told him. Never? She shook her head. No, not once. The gleaming truth of heartache, she said, had been too much in his eyes. He turned back to the flames. The moon outside the window stood witness to everything she’d said, yet his soul felt empty, bereft of form, as gray and shapeless as smoke. There were nights he couldn’t sleep. Nights when the past would come c reeping back in tantalizing snippets, truth and lies indistinguishable in the darkness, and he would bolt upright in his bed imagining he’d heard something outside the window. Scratching at the door. In time he came to understand that it was nothing. Phantom pains, echoing some distant loss. ###

88 Willard & Maple


I Built a Poem out of My Boyfriend’s Manic Ramblings Because I’m an Opportunist and an Asshole M. DeCapua She smiles at me, I smile back. The backyard is on fire. We’re colonizing space -how long has it been? two minutes? three? I am out there like a mouth, divide orbs of light into a thousand dungeon torches. The back yard is on fire. The only thing behind bars is a CRT television. The screen isn’t working, the left corner is on the fritz. Fix it, Frank! I am fat on a La-Z-Boy. The remote in front of me has mac and cheese on it. The thought makes me sick. We belong in the desert poor and dry, hungry and shy,

Volume XVIII

89


alone with ten million others. Hold her hand! Goddammit you don’t want to do that. She needs you. The back yard is on fire and she needs you.

90 Willard & Maple


New York at Night Caitlin Thomson

I hated it, the smoke, the air, my aching tooth, the bottled beer, the way you left me stranded there, your lips on him, his cheeks, his ear. A tattooed stranger talked to me of Superman, of bent machines, of women he knew in his dreams, a match you said, was made between. I could only dream of home, of root canals, and air to breath. But the night stretched out till two, and you had more you wanted to do.

Volume XVIII

91


The Fruit Cellar Scott Thomas

I have thought about your request, And I won’t be taking you to the fruit cellar today. Just a doorway in the wainscoting is all it is, Just a walled-in corner of my parent’s basement-A moldy tomb, a cave of plates, A hollow molar filled with junk. When I showed it to my son at Christmas, I found it as I left it as a child. My parents never throw anything out. I tried to explain what a typewriter is, Captain Kirk bent around a white, plastic cup, Holding a Type 1 phaser, A screen door propped against a tar-papered wall, An unopened bottle of J&B whiskey, Misty and poisonous When held to the single bare light bulb. My son asked me the same question I once asked, “Um…why call it the Fruit Cellar when there’s no fruit?” The answer the same as the one my father gave: “The Reinharts used to use it for canning.” This is the cellar I would show to you if I could. Here. Take the flashlight. Now direct the beam At the Ball jars with golden lids. Run your light over them like fingers on piano keys; Murky suns, bean archipelagos, Nighttimes black with seeds like stars, Songs of worlds in airless jars. Walk up, Note the labels with meticulous script-“Tomatoes from Rivetti: September ‘43”

92 Willard & Maple


“Blueberries: August ‘46” “Wild Strawberries: July ‘44” Isn’t this everything we spoke of ? People who actually did what they set out to do-They let the pot boil as planned. They fogged the kitchen window. They touched the tongs too hot to handle, And they carried the warm jars down to the fruit cellar. They would eat blueberry pies in blizzards. They would horde Victory Garden beans. They would spoon strawberry jam While awaiting the All Clear. The jars would glisten in their wooden bunks, But now… We open the door, Toss in the junk.

Volume XVIII

93


April and my Plastic Sunflowers Sonnet Mondal

The four plastic sunflowers in my bedroomThe way they swayed in the ceiling fan’s air Were the functional-year-long-April for me. Fallen twigs of meditating winter And the deadwood sanity of their roughness; The begging deserts of the patient summer And the coarseness of their ravaged mirages; The thin tune of the nostalgic autumn And the restlessness of their alcoholic breezesWere never like fresh seasonal fruits to me For I had the functional-year-long-April in my bedroom: Those four plastic sunflowers. Not long, my wedding and divorceBoth in their infancy Ended the perpetual April in my room By demanding those yellow sunflowers In the package of reparation. It was four seasons ago and the spring of April Now seems to be a creepy plastic serpent Irresistibly insidious in its illusory cruelty as my new girl friend from the same city Talked of bringing new plastic flowers in my room.

94 Willard & Maple


Baptism Emma Crockett

Forgive me, Body, for I have sinned. Today I ate: An omelet, cooked in slippery, sinful oil, stuffed with cheddar cheese melted into heavy, goopy tendrils that I scraped up fiercely with my fork. A pancake, fluffy and pure white on the inside, studded with chocolate chips and dripping with imitation maple syrup. Two of those flaky pastries the size of a deck of cards, filled with cold cream cheese and syrupy, bright red strawberry jam that oozed like blood over my fingers and lips. French fries, so many French fries, served in a little paper box, squashed together, glistening fattily underneath the fluorescent lights. Soft serve ice cream with chocolate syrup, melting into a viscous combination of cream and sugar in the bowl, scooped up unflinchingly by my oversized spoon and delivered dripping to my waiting mouth. Macaroni and cheese, too much cheese releasing its orangey yellow fats which I mix back in with the pasta so not to lose one gram of delightful artery-clogging saturation. Two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a little slice of my childhood, shoved down my throat after an evening of doing unchildlike things like binge drinking and smoking marijuana. I can feel the French fries dangling underneath my arms and the cheeses congealing together into a dimpled mass on my ass and the peanut butter making a home on my hips.

Volume XVIII

95


I ran until I dripped with sweat and I imagined it was the sugar I was sweating out and through my pores the fat was oozing out too, leaving me covered in a slick, thick goop, shivering on the ground dry heaving and crying like a newborn.

96 Willard & Maple


Slightly Gone World Richard King Perkins II

It’s not a dream but a slightly gone world covered in frozen mist. The sounds of imprecision astonish the sky’s wintry chamber where I wait dissolving beneath a bowl of tambourine bells. This must be the way it wasn’t meant to be or it wouldn’t be so— this vacancy of snow where your car once slept. I look for you in the old meeting place but it pouts at me emptily. Now you’re stranded on a bridge in St. Louis with no money and no credit cards and your passenger side window broken out. I’m in the evergreen woods laced white where someone once wrote a song about you; how your eyes extinguished sensibility, how your eyes painted light into every corner of darkness.

Volume XVIII

97


Ashes Jordan Upshaw

My sister, Ava, is eight years older than me. When she was seventeen I was eight; she was wearing makeup, driving, and dating while I was still scraping my knees and thought boys had cooties. Oftentimes when I would get home from school, Ava’s current boyfriend would be there. The rule then was: No boys at the house unless Mommy or Daddy is home. Ava broke that rule regularly, though my parents were oblivious to it for about two years. She worked out an arrangement with me to ensure she wouldn’t get caught. Ava would buy me an ice cream cone every Saturday as long as I played outside until our parents got home. I wasn’t supposed to eat ice cream without permission so we were both breaking the rules. I didn’t tell on Ava and Ava didn’t tell on me. She said that’s what sisters do. I liked most of Ava’s boyfriends. They generally just left me alone while I ate my after-school snack. If they bothered me, Ava kicked them out. I remember asking Ava once what she and her boyfriend did while I was outside and she said they watched a movie. I pointed out that we all did that as a family and she laughed at me. She said she was so lucky to have the funniest little sister in the world. It always made me feel good to make her laugh. There was a certain pattern to Ava’s breakups. After a few months she and her boyfriend would start to fight. Over the next few days they would come over less frequently, usually fighting with Ava when they did. I didn’t see the boys anymore after that. Ava would be in a bad mood for a while and I’d steer clear of her, except when she took me to get ice cream on Saturday, which she did whether there was a boyfriend or not. Looking back, I can’t quite remember how many boys came and went when Ava was in high school or how many of them were actually her boyfriends. It’s entirely possible some were just friends and she didn’t want her much younger sister underfoot. At the time I was more concerned with earning my weekly ice cream cone; I didn’t much care about the boys themselves. For the majority of my third grade year, Ava dated a guy named Mike. Mike was my favorite. He talked to me about my day while I ate my after-school snack. I even talked to Mike about boys. Mike guaranteed me that my secret was safe with him. One day when Ava was at Mike’s house, she left her shoes in the hallway so my mom told me to take them upstairs to her room. It seemed to me that Ava should put her own shoes away, but I didn’t argue. Ava kept her shoes under

98 Willard & Maple


her bed so I flopped onto my stomach, cheek to the wood. I pushed them as far back as I could when I caught sight of something bright pink. I crawled underneath Ava’s bed to the very back where it was pressed up against the wall. There was also a whole row of shoeboxes behind her usual row of shoes. I decided these shoes must be extra special if Ava kept them in boxes. Maybe they were her sparkly, gold prom heels with the glitter. Those were my favorite but Ava wouldn’t let me touch them. Since she wasn’t home I wasn’t in danger of being caught. There wasn’t enough room under the bed for me to open the box so I shimmied back out with it. There was writing on the lid: “Luke.” I didn’t know that Ava named her shoes. But when I opened the box, it was full of ashes. I poked my index finger into the soft, gray powder and drew patterns in it. I recalled how when my grandmother died, she was cremated. I was six years old at the time and had trouble grasping the concept that a whole human being and a huge wooden box could be reduced to a medium-sized vase full of gray ashes. The vase was sealed shut and sat on the table in our front hallway. It then dawned on me that the box said, “Luke.” I took my finger out of the ashes. Ava used to have a boyfriend named Luke. When I was in second grade I came inside to eat my after-school snack, and Luke yelled at me to get out, making me cry. Ava was so angry she said some words I’d never heard before until he left, throwing his sneakers at him as he went. After I stopped crying she made me promise not to repeat any of the words that I’d heard. We watched The Lion King together until our parents got home from work. Luke didn’t come back after that. I never saw him again. Come to think of it, I never saw any of the boys again after Ava broke up with them. I put the lid back on the box and crawled under the bed. There were six more shoeboxes against the wall. I pushed all of them out into the middle of the floor. All of the boxes had the name of one of Ava’s ex-boyfriends written in sharpie: Blake, Noah, Ethan, Taylor, Chris, Samuel. All of the boxes had ashes in them. Just like Grandma in the vase. I began to panic. Are the ashes in the boxes Ava’s ex-boyfriends? Did Ava burn them up and put the ashes in the shoebox? Does Ava kill boys after she breaks up with them? Isn’t it wrong to kill people? Will Ava be in trouble? Is Ava gonna go to jail? I don’t want Ava to go to jail! I crawled back under Ava’s bed and hastily put the boxes back where I found them. A problem this serious required reinforcements. I wasn’t equipped to handle the possibility that my big sister was a murderer all by myself. I ran downstairs to tell my mother what I’d found. But Ava had just gotten back from Mike’s house and stood in the front hallway. Not wanting Ava to know I’d been in her room, touching her stuff (especially not the shoeboxes full of human ashes) I informed

Volume XVIII

99


my mother I was going outside to play as I slammed the front door behind me. I was safely outside before Ava could see me and know what I’d done. In those days I had a favorite Thinking Tree in the front yard. It was a Californian Los Osos Oak tree with twisting, spreading branches that were perfect for climbing. Whenever I was perplexed by a particularly difficult problem such as the tyranny of multiplication tables or finding the remains of my sister’s victims under her bed, I would climb to my favorite branch of the Thinking Tree and puzzle things out until I had a solution. In my Thinking Tree I could properly consider the matter at hand and formulate a plan. Children have a remarkable ability to simply accept extraordinary events. I started with the three things I knew for certain: 1.) My sister was killing her boyfriends. 2.) She was also keeping their ashes in shoeboxes under her bed. 3.) Killing people is illegal. I decided that I couldn’t tell my parents. If I did then Ava would find out I looked through her stuff. Telling my parents could also land Ava in prison, exactly what I was trying to avoid. Even though Ava was killing and burning these boys I didn’t exactly object to it. In my opinion, Luke deserved to get turned into ashes anyway for being mean to me. The other boys had been okay people as far as I could remember but maybe they’d been mean to Ava. If so, then they had it coming as far as I was concerned. The more thinking I did in my Thinking Tree, the clearer it became that I had to protect Ava. That’s what sisters do. So I formulated a brilliant plan: Keep it a secret. What a marvelous plan! If I kept it a secret, no one would find out. If no one found out, Ava would be safe from punishment. She would also continue her life as a serial killer; however, that was no concern of mine. If these boys didn’t want to “get serial killed” then they shouldn’t be mean to my sister. This is why I always climbed my Thinking Tree to do my most important thinking; I felt much better afterward. I climbed back down and went inside. When I was walking upstairs to my room, Ava’s bedroom door was closed but I could hear her talking on the phone. She sounded angry and I heard her yelling Mike’s name. Usually yelling meant a breakup was looming. And apparently after that Ava killed them and kept their ashes in a shoebox under her bed. But I liked Mike. He was nicer to me than any of Ava’s other boyfriends had been. I didn’t want him to die. I stood outside Ava’s door and tried to listen but all I could hear was that she was mad. Possibly mad enough to add poor Mike to her collection. I immediately wanted to protect him. But Ava was my sister, I had to protect her too. How could I protect both of them at the same time? I really should have stayed in my Thinking Tree longer.

100 Willard & Maple


Suddenly Ava stopped yelling and threw open the door, catching me standing there. “Are you eavesdropping on me?” Ava demanded. She looked furious. I didn’t respond, just stared. My first instinct was to lie but I couldn’t think of anything to say. “Are you gonna break up with Mike?” I blurted out. Well I guess I could think of one thing. Ava sighed and pushed some of her dark brown hair out of her face. “Amber, that’s none of your business.” “Please don’t break up with him,” I begged. “Why do you care?” she asked. “Because….” I couldn’t tell her that I didn’t want her to kill him. “Because I like him. He’s nice to me…. Please don’t break up with him, Ava, please. For me?” Ava stared at me in silent confusion for a moment, likely wondering why in the world I was so upset by her love life. “We can talk about this later,” she said before shutting the door again. The next day Mike was at the house when I got home from school. He and Ava were fighting so I got my after-school snack quietly. I stayed in the kitchen and ate slowly while they yelled at each other. I kept my fingers crossed that they wouldn’t break up. When I finished eating my snack I didn’t go outside. Instead I poured myself a glass of juice as carefully and unhurriedly as a scientist handling volatile chemicals. Technically speaking, my volatile chemicals were in the next room, threatening to explode and result in death. “Well do you want to break up? Is that what you want?” I heard Mike yell. “No!” I screamed, abandoning my juice and racing into the TV room. “No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No!” “Oh my God, Amber, would you please stay out of this?” Ava rolled her eyes. She and Mike stood in the middle of the room. Ava’s hands were clenched in fists by her sides. Was she going to hit him? Did she kill them by hitting them? “No, Ava!” I screamed frantically. I charged towards her at full speed, tackling her to the ground. Ava hit the carpet first, breaking my fall. I straddled her stomach and pinned her shoulders down with pure adrenaline and third grader panic. “Ow! God, Amber! What the fuck?” “Don’t kill him, Ava! Don’t kill him!” A confused Mike started making a rather feeble attempt to pull me away without hurting me, likely why I thought his life was in danger. When my parents walked in the door Ava was desperately trying to peel me off of her while I held on as tightly as I could, still screaming “Don’t kill him!” at the top of my lungs.

Volume XVIII

101


My dad picked me up easily, although I was screaming and kicking violently, still trying to grasp Ava. By this time Ava was angrier with me than she was with Mike and our mom stood between us, trying to calm everyone down. I shouted at Mike to run and now that my parents were home, he didn’t hesitate. By the time Ava and I had stopped shrieking, Mike was already driving away. Now that I’d successfully saved Mike’s life, the adrenaline wore off and I went limp, crying and exhausted. My dad set me down on the couch. When I finally stopped crying they asked me what in Jehoshaphat was going on. I told them everything: the ashes under Ava’s bed, the burned up boyfriends. Our parents were more than a little flabbergasted by my story. Ava forgot she was furious with me long enough to laugh, then she went upstairs and returned with the Luke box. She rummaged through the ash with two fingers until she came across the burnt corner of a photograph. Ava dropped it in the palm of my hand. “See, Amber? I just burn pictures and stuff. I don’t kill them. The ashes aren’t from burning people. It’s just a silly, symbolic thing that that I do after a breakup.” I studied the warped, bubbly corner of the photograph thoughtfully. My sister wasn’t a serial killer after all. What a relief. My relief was short-lived when it dawned on my parents that they’d just caught Ava breaking the no boys in the house alone rule. Ava managed to convince them that it had never happened before, Mike had just come over today because they were fighting. Of course Ava wouldn’t have broken the rules ordinarily. I backed up her story. I was here every day after school; I would know if Ava had her boyfriend over. That weekend Ava and I put the seven shoeboxes in the backseat of our parents’ car. After eating my weekly ice cream cone we drove down to the bay. We sat at the edge of the dock, dangling our feet in the water and Ava let me sift through the ashes for treasures. I found some fragments of fire-warped photographs and only slightly melted buttons of various colors. Eight years later when I started dating I would follow my sister’s lead and burn mementos of my bruised heart. Rather than the ashes, I would keep the things that didn’t burn in a single shoebox under my bed. I pocketed my new treasures and stood on the dock. My sister held my hand and we spread the ashes across the water.

102 Willard & Maple


He Falls in Love with a Painting John Grey

The wine and cheese party can go on without him. He prefers to spend his time in another room, admiring the painting above the mantle. No glass in hand, no conversation he wishes to share with anyone, he merely takes up the best viewing distance to venerate the fair-haired woman in white lace dress posed lengthwise on the divan. In his thoughts he is the one who instructs her to sprawl a certain way, with her head turned toward him, lips slightly ajar, a third of the way to a smile. He is the survivor of a half-dozen dead relationships. A victim of loveliness that comes with a price. But this is someone who will always be here for him. She is motionless, a permanent revelation. Come back ten years from now and nothing will be different. She'll be on the verge of unveiling a new face to him. He will respond with the best of what he's capable of feeling. Not knowing anything about the woman is the perfect situation. Love and meditation can interweave without interference from the life's she's led. She's a flower the moment of its blooming. Or his heart taking the purest stance. imaginable. Best of all, nothing of him is required but his presence. And her role is easy, unlimited and assured.

Volume XVIII

103


Crossroads Frances Leitch

Trains pass I hear the whistle blowing as I’ve heard it so many times before So many years before Trains in motion carrying the freight of so much hardship so much struggle making the trip across the land of wild range and roaming cattle Trains, chugging up the barren mountain gliding down to the desert hostile Trains mark the crossroads of lives before and bear down on tomorrow a triumphant whistle Trains‌

104 Willard & Maple


Communion Cynthia Eddy

When you died We cast your body Into the snow Lovingly tucked you into your icy bed Preserved, We thought, so your mother would see your face at the last. By the fifth day the food was gone Tried to melt The gray, dry snow for water Then we ate the snow. By the tenth day Our flesh was falling away from our bones The knowing of death was between us Unspoken, like the mad aunt in the attic. Our savior lay quietly in his frozen grave Without utterance, we walked to your sleeping place Knelt and cut into your calf neatly, lovingly. We proclaimed the words from childhood ‘Do this in memory of Me’ And we lived. Your mother saw your face at the last.

Volume XVIII

105


Gerundive Allen West

Skin thinning easily to tears thinning as easily as mist ravels molecules sifting the pines past tense bruising present dispersing the past perfect

106 Willard & Maple


Ice Crystals Michelle Nguyen

The winter like her ocean sister, is deadly beautiful, Letting her icy fingernails scrape lines Of pink down your cheek as she caresses it. She tempts, like a siren, with everything she does, Beckoning calling Until you forget what the chilling slap of her touch Feels like on your skin. She blankets the world, Making it look as soft as her skin, until You want to reach out and touch, Only to snatch your hand away before The jealousy of Jack Frost sinks its teeth Into your fingers and toes, intent on making them Keepsakes. Her hair sparkles like the rising dawn On the ground entombed by her crystals, Ready to cut, with a toss of her head, With the force of a snow drift falling from The grasp of a tree branch. And yet, we still forget, when her beauty Is undisturbed, when she steals our breath Away in stark white clouds. And she makes us forget, Until the apples in our cheeks turn numb and shriveled and pale, Until our eyes look like frozen lakes, Until our lips keep the imprint, the stain of her blue ones, Until shivers can no longer move our frozen limbs So she can add us to her collection Of beautiful ornaments.

Volume XVIII

107


Planets James Nicola

We’re Moving. In a Moment That Is We’re Moving. We Moved before of course That Is to get Here. And now We Are Here and Still about to Move. *** There’s Venus a reminder like the moon of light and that light—their light— Is reflected light. I’ve sent your glance that way, saying nothing, doing little: A turn of the head, a look, and We’re as One

108 Willard & Maple


as We shall Be when We start Moving— yet We already Are as Venus Is though she does not appear so from the station. But There Is always Motion in a Stillness and Stillness in the Motion, All referenced to a Center—not a source or destination, but, in a network of nested paradoxes, milestones on the journey toward that Center, while toward the outmost bourne. *** And if the universe expands, even while not Moving, Our journey’s toward a cosmic dissolution; if it contracts, inexorable implosion. Either way We win but in The Moment That Is Now. *** You saw in the museum, back in the city, (even while not noticing, We notice, don’t We), that though the paint and stone were Still, their subjects had just Moved, Were about to move, or Were Moving. Not so much those who sat for portraits, preened,

Volume XVIII

109


poised and Were even aware as We Are Now. But even with them, as with Us, the paint has been cracking, fading; the bronze as molasses, dripping through the air. The only permanence Is change, and change the only thing That’s permanent. Like Motion. And of course All of This Is Nothing New. *** And all the subatomic particles in the window between Us (at your left, my right) spin and spit ten million miles a second, though politely. And on this train, as on a ship or plane, We can Be Still while Moving: footing backward, We’re really speeding forward. All our paths were desultory once. Then someone dreamt the world as round, and had the grit to prove it that Now We can Be conscious of That Center, cynosure of All Our trails and travails. The planets, like the stars, may not Be conscious of their reference point, but Now, with a much longer proof, even they, We know, participate. *** I look back from Venus first, see your one eye, the pose of your head as if stuck in Egyptian paint; but know, as sure as I Am, that there are two. When you turn back to me, why, There Are

110 Willard & Maple


Two. Likewise each one of Us more than suspects There Is an unseen far side to the moon, as There Is a destination to this subtly rumbling ride. To get anywhere We must trust. *** I know that in a moment you shall turn and in That Move I’ll light up eyes once fired by Venus. We’ll be Moving, strangers on a train, as evening turns Still on a warm night’s ride— Moving in a sudden Moment That Is.

Volume XVIII

111


Three Yuan and a Left Emma Bodell

Left first Then a right, Now a left, then another. Three turns past where I was going Hidden out of view People going about, Going to work, to school Does anyone speak English here? Another left, then a right. In my pocket, Three Yuan and a hotel key Two more lefts, and a right Past a market with pigs in the window A subway station, the right one? Another market, but no pigs. Picking up my speed, another right. Regret fills me, I should have prepared more I should have learned more Mandarin Another left? I am officially lost now.

112 Willard & Maple


July Morning Kelly Talbot

I have been living on the south side of steel where the sun heats the blade between planting and harvest. Nothing to reap, nothing to sow, waiting on the rain, one eye on the sky, I am cultivating patience, no longer angry, wordless in my passing time. One green stem quivers, no longer seed, growing, lost in its own mysteries, preparing for the day when it will produce, but in its way already flourishing.

Volume XVIII

113


Reruns M. DeCapua

On cloudy days I’m thankful for perfume that smells like crisp cotton, petrichor and clove cigarettes. I can bundle myself in its top notes, pull blankets to my chin and smile a little through my tears. Starting tomorrow I’ll quit washing down my pills with tepid coffee stale enough to taste like dust, I’ll quit staying in bed til 3 pm, and I’ll even start eating breakfast: a bowl of fresh fruit and a cup of green tea, sending steam to the sky before the sun itself is even awake. I’ve got grand plans for all my tomorrows but my tonights are full of TV reruns and fists of dry cereal (the sugary kind, all chemicals and corn meal) I can feel their little round cigarette burns on the lining of my stomach and maybe tomorrow I’ll mind. Nights like this, when fog throws its arms around the moon, I remember that catching tomorrow is impossible as holding a shadow, find myself watching the windows for the first blush of sunrise.

114 Willard & Maple


a handful of lives Lee Clark Zumpe

so here are a handful of lives strung together like so many Mardi Gras beads – some might call it a family but blood always gets in the way and the connections are too strained and the emotions too dry too many distractions to keep the leaves from drifting apart in the sweeping currents when autumn winds howl everyone forgets late summer afternoon picnics in the park

Volume XVIII

115


Young Siddhartha Daniel David

A small statue of Buddha, the lad, Siddhartha Gautama, sits cross-legged on my desk, his smile serene; however, my prayer wheel stopped spinning when I dwelled on this: Siddhartha, the prince, wanted for nothing and saw nothing, his smile serene behind tall, gleaming, palace walls at the foot of the Himalayas, where the air was cold and thin, until, on a stroll, he felt the soil of his kingdom beneath his feet, rather than smooth, colorful tile, thick, rich carpet, until his desire to comprehend an old man, a corpse, a beggar. At twenty-nine, Siddhartha left his princess, sheer silks and gold bangles sliding on her hips; her serene smile, her lips, her dark nipples, the color of earth and dates, would not keep him. Siddhartha left his infant son, Rahula, after dubbing him “little fetter,� wriggling karmic manacle, no bliss, no enlightenment

116 Willard & Maple


in the curve of her arms, his son’s serene smile a tether. At thirty-five, after six years and two gurus, his empty ribs unsatisfied with ascetic life (Was all that near-death necessary?), and knowing, however hobbled, he could return to his father’s sumptuous table, after forty-nine days and nirvana – finally, no crying baby – Siddhartha found his serene smile under the leaves and figs of the Bodhi tree, the Buddha, an open, white lotus floating above the mud. And yet, the Buddha did not return to his wife, his son. It occurred to me, now twenty years older than the Buddha, perhaps Siddhartha was simply a naïve and foolish young man. Oh, what an exquisite flaw! My smile is serene. At eighty, the Buddha concluded, his smile still very serene, he mastered the shackles of his samsara, the endless, dizzy spin of birth and death. Maybe, just maybe, Siddhartha might have gone round again.

Volume XVIII

117


Sled Scott Thomas

I swear to you, Kyle, I will abandon this sled. I will drive it downhill and walk away while it snows. Mom has had it up to here with Dad, Is always crying, And will not notice the empty hook in the shed. Dad will grumble under his breath like a kettle “Wasted cash� And then just slip out the door. In August it will be there still Among the touch-me-nots; Tiny flowers orange and white like a Creamsicle. In twenty-two springs, it will be there still; Trout lilies trembling Near the bow of rust That once was a runner.

118 Willard & Maple


It Sean Lause

Pull it from a silence, urge it to a witness, hear it to a testament, confess it to heaven or hell. Seed it to the earth, tremble it into flower, swell it to a ripeness, pregnant with possibility. Carve it to a clarity, sand it smooth as stone, rub it in longing to endure the night, a shape to speak the spirit free. Flame it to a white heat, hammer it with thunder, weld it sure with lightning, baptize it with storm. Bold it to a sunburst, polish it to a moon, unfold it like a universe, web it round with stars. Then it will be good to eat, drink, house, heal, ride, soar, sail, explore for a million’s million years---or more.

Volume XVIII

119


Je Suis Gong Henri Michaux (1899-1984), Kim Cushman

Dans le chant de ma colère il y a un œuf, Et dans cet œuf il y a ma mère, mon père et mes enfants, Et dans ce tout il y a joie et tristesse mêlées, et vie. Grosses tempêtes qui m’avez secouru, Beau soleil qui m’as contrecarré, Il y a haine en moi, forte et de date ancienne, Et pour la beauté on verra plus tard. Je ne suis, en effet, devenu dur que par lamelles; Si l’on savait comme je suis resté moelleux au fond. Je suis gong et ouate et chant neigeux, Je le dis et j’en suis sûr.

120 Willard & Maple


I Am Gong Henri Michaux (1899-1984), Kim Cushman

In the song of my anger there is an egg, And in this egg there are my mother, my father and my children, And in all of this there is joy and sorrow commingled and life. Violent storms that have helped me, Beautiful sun that has hindered me, There is hatred in me, primitive and strong, And as for beauty we shall see. In effect, I have only become hard in thin layers; If they but knew how soft I have remained at the core. I am gong and wadding and snowy song, I say it and I am sure of it.

Volume XVIII

121


“At this barbequeue you guest is as good…” TWIXT

At this barbequeue your guest is as good as mine – all corn on the carb, and further frankfurters with flavescent mustards on the tubes’ tops – sodas in cups frizzante semi-sparkle in our eyes.

122 Willard & Maple


the loudest thought Megan Hoins

The distance between two points increases over time. I don’t know how you can’t understand that what with your constant yammering about how the sun is always moving forward in the sky about how the Earth is always spinning toward its inevitable death about how time is limited and we must spend it in a way that fulfills our destiny or some shit like that I don’t really care for your whole “destiny” spiel or your belief in an ulterior purpose or your conviction that the universe was a carefully calculated move on someone’s part in the fulfillment of a great cosmic plan that will ultimately end in everyone imploding or something, probably I don’t really pay much attention when you open your mouth to rant or rave about this and that or when your eyes get all wide when someone says they don’t know much about star formations or when your intake of breath is the loudest sound in the room that’s not something I notice but when you gaze up at the stars in the window sitting quietly on the floor of your room and you reach over quietly to take my hand and you don’t say anything other than “wow isn’t it beautiful?” The distance between two points increases over time. But maybe it can decrease Too.

Volume XVIII

123


Collapse Cailey McCalister

Collapse. That’s all I have left, A final step into the cage Of my own imagined oblivion. It is at times both sweet and peaceful But it may also swallow me alive, choke me At the same time. Death by suffocation of darkness. Sometimes I want to listen to the sadness that calls me names, I want to give in to being tired. So tired. Always tired. I can’t wake up. I want to melt into the carpet floor leaving a cartoon imprint in my wake Because most days I feel just like that, a cartoon, unrealistic, imagined, fake. I inch through days and try to smile when I can, but the day just goes without me And in a second I’ve been punched in the stomach and I cannot breathe, forget smiles. Sometimes I don’t know how to survive any longer and I just want to sleep forever, almost like Death. But the sun shines some days And cleans my guts. It hurts, and I feel raw and naked after, But then my soul realizes That it is finally clean, And that light shines through the crevices Like the stain glass windows in a church, And I realize that I can breathe. The dust and cobwebs in my throat are gone And the sky of my mind is blue again And I can see that nothing is wrong. The sun tastes like strawberry milk And smells like vanilla and coffee

124 Willard & Maple


And feels like a bubble bath And sounds like my best friend’s laugh. And for a little bit I am so open, Like the walls of my heart split apart, For all the world to see inside who I am And I know, when the darkness fades, Who I am. I am Alive.

Volume XVIII

125


Cicadas Sara Dailey

Cicadas. Cicadas and other night insects. June in the back yard, full of the hum and thrum of bodies, wings flicking invisible in the night air currents, riding the lazy summer heat, looping amid the ash and birch, the leaves of trees waving in the wind like the wings, all of them moving gently, so very gently. Elm and heat and haze in the garden, and blossoms exist, buds jutting below the nests of birds, white as snow, pale petals barely opened, soft clouds of flowers, fragrant, pale as the gleam of moon in sky. In bed you taste of apricots and June and we move, the hands the feet the skin move, hearts beat, move like cicadas.

126 Willard & Maple


Sentinel, Passover John P. Kristofco

The old tree trembles in its watch, silent as the thief abducts the remnants of another day, lays away the time of leaves. I watch you sleep the moments that I can, uneasy dream’s dependence on another dawn, waking once the shadows pass again, this time, indifferent over rooftop, porchlight, the numbers on the portals, painted with the promise of our prayer-bolted door.

Volume XVIII

127


World Trade Center Eric Naud

An event happened here, many years ago, An event so momentous it shocked a nation, Not THE event you were expecting, nope. That event occurred in our lifetimes, This event occurred many years earlier. A young man stood at the edge of the North Tower, Dressed in black and looking at the gap between. One hundred and forty feet of nothingness, Save for a single metal wire Suspended one thousand three hundred and sixty-eight feet in the air. One single slip, One foul­up, And that is it. This man is no more. His short life ends today. Many years of planning went to this stunt, A walk of a lifetime, an impossible task All this passion, this drive for greatness All building up to this moment to dawn. This is his only chance to prove himself. Doubt seeps into the young man’s mind The latest in several occasions beforehand He could turn back now, and throw away Many years of careful planning, but no That is not who Phillipe is. He stares at the wire And

128 Willard & Maple


He Takes A Single Step Across the Sky

Volume XVIII

129


Biographies

Danny P. Barbare attended Greenville Technical College. He resides in the foothills of the Southern Appalachian. Tyler Bigney lives in Nova Scotia, Canada. His writing has appeared, or forthcoming in Pearl, Poetry New Zealand, Neon, The Meadow, and The Nashwaak Review, among others. Emma Bodell is a non-traditional senior at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. She is studying elementary education but has a strong passion for writing poetry. She often gets her inspiration from her world travels. She has been to the far reaches of China, to the sandy shores of the smiling coast in the Gambia to the bitter cold fjords in Norway. When not traveling she is often nose deep in a book, lost in another world. Stefanie P. Buckner is a graduate of Samford University and Duke Divinity School. Her poems have appeared in Time of Singing, Sacred Journey, The Penwood Review, New Verse News, Ruah, The New Renaissance, Wild Violet, The Shepherd, Ancient Paths, Jerry Jazz Musician, 2nd & Church, Lyric, and other literary arts magazines. As a high school English teacher, Buckner enjoys introducing teenagers to the wonders of poetry and preparing them for college-level work. She lives in her favorite city (Nashville) with her favorite person (Eddie) and their delightfully mischievous dog (Lillabelle). Kathryn Bullock is pursuing a degree in Broadcast and Streaming Media, but craving a career in creative writing. She has been writing longer than she has been wearing her deteriorating Converse sneakers, and she loves it twice as much. She spends the rest of her time exploring dusty roads in her Jeep and practicing on her one year old guitar. Aileen Casey is a Communications Major at Champlain College with a minor in Environmental Policy which you can sense as she attempts to bring life to her

Volume XVIII

131


words. Along the creating herself, Aileen enjoys challenging herself by riding the black diamonds on her board and getting her hands dirty through climbing to new heights. Emma Crockett graduated from Champlain College in 2013 and is figuring out how to stay in school forever while living everywhere. When she’s not wandering around town, at the movie theater, or going to wine tastings, she likes to write about food and art. Kim Cushman lived in Belgium as a youngster and studied French under John Rassias at Dartmouth. His translations have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Blue Unicorn and Epiphany. He now lives in the Berkshires, where he recently completed a Vermont-based mystery novel entitled Good Sleeping Weather. Sara Dailey works as a teacher and editor in St. Paul. In 2009 she won the Shadow Poetry chapbook competition for her manuscript The Science of Want. Her fulllength collection, Earlier Lives, finalist for the Backwaters Prize, was published by Dos Madres Press in 2012. Daniel David is a writer, artist and professor living along the southern shore of Lake Erie in North America. His poems have appeared widely in a number of venues across the United States, in Canada and the United Kingdom. His publications also include articles in the Journal of Creative Behavior; chapbooks Close to Home and Two Buddha; and his novel, Flying Over Erie. M. DeCapua is a pink-haired poet and artist studying Creative Media at Champlain College. She lives for the first snowfalls of winter and the second cup of coffee of the morning. Her art, poetry included, documents the exploration of this weird and exciting world she's found herself in. Her poetry has been published in Crab Fat Magazine. M. Dietsche’s first tattoo says Made in Korea because she was adopted and thinks that’s hilarious. When she’s not writing she illustrates, and her work has been featured on the backs of coasters in Dublin, Ireland. She’s also an aspiring social drinker, but she has found that results may vary.

132 Willard & Maple


Alexis Dunn is a first year Professional Writing student and Champlain College. Her passions lie with poetry and finding ways to describe the little things in the biggest ways possible. She can be found wandering around in the woods and listening to strange music with equally creative and crazy friends. Cynthia Eddy lives and writes on the eastern shore of Virginia, and it inspires her to write poetry that strikes a chord in the reader's heart and mind. She holds a BA in Art History. Her work has been published in numerous journals. Her poem “Communion” was previously featured in the Eunoia Review. John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and Sanskrit with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Owen Wister Review and Louisiana Literature. Megan Hoins has been a writer since she started tracing the names of authors on books at the ripe young age of four. She’s been publishing essays on varied topics for a much shorter time to Medium, and she was once the editor-in-charge-ofsomething-or-other for Ursus, Brewster High School’s literary magazine. Erren Geraud Kelly's work has been featured in many literary magazine and journals, such as Toasted Cheese, Riprap, Ascent Aspirations, Argent, Hiram Literary Review, The Eclectic Muse and others, in print and online. Mr. Kelly has a B.A. in English-Creative Writing from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Erren lives in Portland, Oregon. Jim Kerbaugh is an Oklahoma native, Jim Kerbaugh received his Ph.D. in English from The University of North Texas in 1984. He teaches creative writing and medieval literature at Illinois College. Some 40 of his poems have appeared in journals like Puerto del Sol and The William and Mary Review. Sean Lause teaches courses in Shakespeare, Literature and the Hero and Medical Ethics at Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio. His poems have appeared in The Minnesota Review, The Alaska Quarterly, Another Chicago Magazine, Lullwater Review, European Judaism, Atlanta Review and Poetry International. His first book of poems, Bestiary of Souls, was published in 2013 by FutureCycle Press.

Volume XVIII

133


Robert McGuill is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee whose stories have appeared in more than fifty literary journals, including Narrative, the Southwest Review, and The South Carolina Review. Sonnet Mondal is the founder of The Enchanting Verses Literary Review. He has authored eight books of poetry and has performed on invitation at Struga Poetry Evenings, Macedonia in 2014 and Uskudar International Poetry Festival, Istanbul in 2015. Sonnet is currently one of the featured writers at International Writing Program at The University of IOWA-Silk Routes Project funded by Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Sonnet was featured as one of the Famous Five of Bengali Youths in India Today magazine in 2010 and was long listed in The Forbes Magazine’s top 100 Celebrities 2014 edition among India’s most celebrated authors. Later in March 2015 The CultureTrip website, London listed him among the Top Five Literary Entrepreneurs of Indian English Poetry.His works have appeared in Sheepshead Review, Two Thirds North, Penguin Review, Burning Word literary Journal, The Adroit Journal, California State Poetry Quarterly and Nth Position etc. (Website: www.sonnetmondal.com) Eric Naud is a student of Creative Media at Champlain College with HighFunctioning Autism, aiming for a Bachelor’s Degree. He has channeled his creativity into storytelling through writing and filmmaking, and is currently in preproduction of his debut feature “Finding Tristan,” expected to shoot in the summer of this year. Michelle Nguyen is a third year Professional Writing student at Champlain College. She has studied abroad in Montreal and Dublin, and looks forward to exploring the rest of the world. She was born and raised in Southern California and is driven by a love of living in new, culturally different places, using her experiences from those places to define herself as a person, a cooking enthusiast, and a writer. Kenneth Nichols teaches writing here in Central New York. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Ohio State. (Go Bucks!) His work has appeared in publications including Coup d’Etat, Main Street Rag, Lunch Ticket, Prime Number, Skeptical Inquirer, the Tin House blog and PopMatters. Further, he reviews literary journals for NewPages and 1.5 sentences of his work for the “Not For Tourists Guide to Queens” was quoted in The New Yorker. (That isn’t a big deal, but it was a big thrill!)

134 Willard & Maple


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. In a six year period, his work has appeared in more than a thousand publications including The Louisiana Review, Bluestem, Emrys Journal, Sierra Nevada Review, Roanoke Review, The Red Cedar Review and Crannog. His poems are forthcoming in The William and Mary Review, Sugar House Review, Plainsongs, Free State Review and Milkfist. He was a recent finalist in The Rash Awards, Sharkpack Alchemy, Writer’s Digest and Bacopa Literary Review poetry contests. Ruben Rodriguez sleeps near the Pacific Ocean, where he writes, paints, and sells T shirts to tourists. He is the fiction editor of The Great American Lit Mag and author of the chapbook We Do What We Want (Orange Monkey Publishing, 2015). His poetry has been deemed fit for consumption by Passages North, Beecher’s, The Hawai’i Review, Potomac Review, SLAB, and others. You can find him at www. rubenstuff.com. Terry Sanville lives in San Luis Obispo, California with his artist-poet wife (his in-house editor) and one skittery cat (his in-house critic). He writes full time, producing short stories, essays, poems, and novels. Since 2005, his short stories have been accepted by more than 210 literary and commercial journals, magazines, and anthologies including The Potomac Review, The Bitter Oleander, Shenandoah, and Conclave: A Journal of Character. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for his story “The Sweeper.” Terry is a retired urban planner and an accomplished jazz and blues guitarist – who once played with a symphony orchestra backing up jazz legend George Shearing. Amanda Schroth is a Professional Writing graduate from Champlain College. Her work has been featured in Teen Ink Magazine, Stonehenge, and the Champlain Crossover. In her free time, Schroth shares her work with audiences at spoken word performances. Mae Sullivan is a Broadcast Media Production major with a Marketing minor who has a short but sweet history of writing music reviews for her high school newspaper ECHO. Despite her lack of upper incisors, Mae enjoys digging her teeth into writing, especially when it comes to making the mundane seem extraordinary.

Volume XVIII

135


Kelly Talbot has edited books and digital content for nearly 20 years, previously as an in-house editor for John Wiley and Sons Publishing, Macmillan Publishing, and Pearson Education, and now as the head of Kelly Talbot Editing Services. His writing has appeared in dozens of magazines. Scott Thomas has a B.A. from Bard College, a M.S. in Library Science from Columbia University, and a M.A. in English from the University of Scranton. He works at the Scranton (PA) Public Library. His poems have appeared in The Kentucky Poetry Review, Poem, Philadelphia Stories, Talking River, and other journals. Caitlin Thomson just moved for the 15th time. Her work has appeared in numerous places, including: The Literary Review of Canada, Radar, Going Down Swinging, and the anthology Killer Verse. Her third chapbook Territory Prayer was recently released by Maverick Duck Press. Shawn Tkach is a Vermonter, veteran, and Champlain College graduate. Heavily influenced by unnecessarily melancholy music and the stoicism of old poets, he translates this into modern works of nostalgia, pulling much from his time in the Coast Guard. TWIXT is the mononym-onym of Peter Specker; he has had poetry published in Margie, The Indiana Review, Amelia, California State Quarterly, RE:AL, Pegasus, First Class, Pot-pourri, Art Times, The Iconoclast, Epicenter, Subtropics, Quest, Confrontation, Writers’ Journal, Rattle, Prairie Schooner and others. He lives in Ithaca, New York. Jordan Upshaw is a first year student in the Professional Writing Program and Publishing Specialization. She hails from Virginia, the only other “V” state in America. Previously she was the Editor-in-Chief of her high school’s literary arts magazine, Afterwords. Allen West is a poet and retired professor of Chemistry at Lawrence University and Williams College. His first full-length book of poetry, Beirut Again, was published in 2010 by Off The Grid Press. His chapbook, The Time of Ripe Figs, was the winner of the White Eagle Coffee Store Press’s 2000 chapbook competition. His poems have most recently appeared in Ibbetson, Passager,

136 Willard & Maple


The Comstock Review, Concrete Wolf, Rhino and Salamander. He graduated from Princeton, and received his PhD in Chemistry from Cornell University. He currently resides in Lexington, MA. Lee Clark Zumpe, an entertainment columnist with Tampa Bay Newspapers, earned his bachelor’s in English at the University of South Florida. He began writing poetry and fiction in the early 1990s. His work has regularly appeared in a variety of literary journals and genre magazines over the last two decades. Publication credits include Tiferet, Zillah, The Ugly Tree, Modern Drunkard Magazine, Red Owl, Jones Av., Main Street Rag, Space & Time, Mythic Delirium and Weird Tales.

Volume XVIII

137

Profile for Willard & Maple Literary Magazine

Willard & Maple XVIII  

Willard & Maple XVIII  

Advertisement