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Willard & Maple XX


Please submit your work via Submittable at: www.willardandmaple.submittable.com/submit For other inquiries, we can be reached at: Willard & Maple Literary and Fine Art Magazine of Champlain College 163 South Willard Street Box 34, Burlington, VT 05401 willardandmaple@champlain.edu willardandmaple.com


Volume 20

Credits Editor-in-Chief

Margaret DiStefano

Associate Editors

Katrina Berube Catherine Butrick Madeline Foret Celeste Levy Kevin Luo Nicholas Perell William Shoenberger Erika Skorstad Wolfgang Westdorp Charlotte Williams

Managing Editor

Kim MacQueen

Cover

Seeing/Not Seeing Marieken Cochius

Layout

Margaret DiStefano Nicholas Perell Hannah Wood

Editor Emeritus

Jim Ellefson

Special thanks to all the faculty, staff, and students of Champlain College Center for Publishing who helped us make this magazine possible.

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Volume 20

Contents Written Work staring into the sea

Eaten Under A California Sun Mission Suicidal

Scott Blackwell

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Scott Blackwell

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Doug Bolling

Hole to China

ANCIENT CEDAR TUB

monster

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Nancy Cathers Demme

Phantom Messages

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Lynn Elwell

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Samantha Gougher

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Emma Johnson-Rivard

WITHIN DNA

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Scott Blackwell

Spaces (Addendum) Stria 15

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Tohm Bakelas

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Haley Kaul

you have made me smile again

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Abigail Ketchem

in relapse or recovery

the white speck dancing by the window Self-Portrait

Only the Paranoid Survive

Andrew Lafleche

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Tess LaLonde

you know because it’s familiar

The Books

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Andrew Lafleche

Kevin Luo

Brandon Marlon

Sandeep Kumar Mishra

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Willard & Maple Road Blocks

Mount Carmel Ridge at Evening The Slow Walk Blizzard

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Nicholas Perell John Timothy Robinson

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John Timothy Robinson

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David Sapp

Cats

David Sapp

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Milk

David Sapp

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Racism

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Anum Sattar

A Mother’s Dream (on the Eve of Her Son’s First Day in Eleventh Grade)

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Maria Sebastian

Seeing an Old Friend Off at the Station Through Touch

Kelly Talbot

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Kelly Talbot

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Kelly Talbot

The Fund

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Ara Weston

Here’s a Goody Bag, Now Get Lost Making Eye Contact

Beth Williams

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Beth Williams

Mother’s Death is Hard to Swallow

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Beth Williams

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Not seeing your face

Beth Williams

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The End of the Rope

Beth Williams

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I Am The Feast

Cassandra Windwalker

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Fine art Seeing/Not Seeing

Marieken Cochius

Man and Wife Plus Cat

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Henry He

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Volume 20 Intimacy Timelessly Geysers

Let None Tear Assunder What is True

Stephen Mead

We Kiss in the Midst of Nature’s Abundance Desert Sun

Just Thinking Samurai

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Barbara Rizza Mellin

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Barbara Rizza Mellin

Across the Room

Biographies

Laura Viapiano

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Barbara Rizza Mellin

June Sunset with Light Pollution

Stephen Mead

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Barbara Rizza Mellin

Eternal Spring

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Stephen Mead

Matt Prater

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Champlain College Burlington, Vermont


Willard & Maple

staring into the sea Tohm Bakelas

she waits by the cliff with daffodils in her hands staring into the sea longing for some imaginary lover to arrive and take her away she stands by the cliff at dawn and through dusk never wavering in stance she tastes salt licked kisses from ocean breezes and though the sun and the moon and the stars and the clouds offer no chance of understanding she remains there forever alone forever staring into the sea

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Volume 20

Eaten Under A California Sun Scott Blackwell

Even now, I thank the Gods for that little blue car of yours, vehicle of impossible cross-country adventures, but also a well-needed daytrip from the city every now and then. For short escapes it was often Stinson Beach— pay the toll, then free exodus across the Golden Gate— we would sometimes stop at a roadside Mexican grotto along the way, though later, we might indulge in the French fries and onion rings at the food stand, eaten under the same California sun. The memories of those days are so jagged now, like broken pieces of glass left on the beach, sun reflected on rolling waves, or snapshots never quite taken in focus. Vague images of you sunbathing on the sand, well-bred woman from the east, who came 3,000 miles to marry me and share some of your sizable monthly allowance. Well, it seems I couldn’t go on losing forever. I would run into the ocean a few times for quick, 5-minute dips—you always refused, too cold. We would linger as long as possible before packing up to drive back through the hills, the woods filled with the sight and smell of Eucalyptus and houses we dreamed of living in, happily ever after— though we always managed to return to the shore of that other California, and the tiny apartment that grew smaller each time we shook the sand and expectations

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Volume 20

Mission Suicidal Scott Blackwell

The assignment is all mine— improbable, probably impossible, immaculately opaque, though I’m still trying to remember whether I ever accepted it or not. I suppose this is the proof, my death sentence signed, sigh— either way, seems I was sent to record this or that for the home office, wherever it is, and the orders are always vague, too often more scrambled than omelets, transmissions intercepted by microwaves ultraviolet radiation the Fox News network, and I’m left out here, in left field to welter in the sun, make it up as I go, twist in the breeze— the funding nonexistent along with the inspiration, though I somehow keep plodding a long— the booze helps,

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Willard & Maple but then again there is never enough of that . . . I survive by sheer animal instinct, a stranger on a strange world, rerouted, never meant for this destination, but finding myself nevertheless here, fighting for justice, democracy, world peace— while okay, yeah, in a chair— and while also avoiding the actual human race as much as possible, but dutifully filing these reports almost every day for whoever would read them, whenever and however that might work out— so much samizdat sent by pirate radio, too often on the wrong frequency, invisible, the channel forever changing, in a code so arcane even the Navaho still call it nonsense, comprising a transcript I doubt will ever be understood by anyone, especially the author.

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Volume 20

Spaces (Addendum) Scott Blackwell

I am only making sketches here while trees die, and the sun burns my days like bridges behind me. Heaven waits in an airport, its arms full of flowers, love’s grand estate welcomes my arrival, the ridiculous doomed dream of it— I’ve watched as it moved pale as light across apartments, houses, and hotels, animating the boxes I’ve lived in, and I’ve seen it run away from home, then blind me in another morning’s rude awakening. So what? So then let us reprise, hold on to delight finally find our voice, our own ragged tempo, hear the silence between the notes also as music, and keep a single phrase, an aphorism of defiance, one song to fill the void.

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Willard & Maple

Stria 15 Doug Bolling

How many the dead here in these rooms where the walking ones come back to make words out of shards of war. They write all day and deep into night always with eyes searching backward to what might have been a past. We shut up, offering only pens and paper and food scraps from the trucks. Alone with ourselves we tell one another we share a common humanity and so can break through walls of rage and pain and loss. But do we believe. These who come to us across a sea of difference make poetry not from a mildness of self among routines of life or a seat at the seminar table. Theirs is a world we have not known. Blood there on the streets and among the inland seas of the heart, When they speak in their tongues of distance we hear not words but the far cry of strangers

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Volume 20 which we only echo in our small well tailored voices

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Willard & Maple

Hole to China Nancy Cathers Demme

The Hole to China was greater than a mere childhood whim. It was a place for girls, not yet bad, who dreamed of escape. There was an understanding of things foreign underneath the earth, on the other side of the world, creatures different that lived in paper houses, had ducks as pets, and children who wore gaily colored tunics. It was a place for girls who knew the sudden chill of autumn nights, girls who feared the screech of owls. It was a dungeon, a palace, a cave, a refuge. It had been made one spring when the girls were only six. Winds raged toppling a sycamore, uprooting the forty-five foot giant. A bowl had formed where once roots secured its footing. These same roots formed a canopy and to look down on it, one was certain the hole went on forever, to China. Water collected in the eight foot wide bowl during the spring, but when summer came it dried, and the girls discovered it claiming it, as their fort, their own. The Hole to China lay in the center of the woods. The girls had been brave to find it, brave to return to it, brave to inhabit it. And they did live there, stealing little scraps of home, a broken mirror, a trowel, ribbons which they tied to the dangling roots. They became muddy and were scolded by their parents, but it didn’t stop them. They talked of the Chinese, how they would welcome them to their part of the earth, when they had dug through the miles between them. They dug with their little shovel carrying small packets of earth to the rim, and after a time the soil became a wall and they sang songs they thought the Chinese children would like. These were happy times, but still traversing the woods frightened them and they whispered to each other. “If the bad thing happens meet me at the Hole to China.� It became a mantra, and they would repeat it four or five times a week. One week it snowed, and their mothers saw to boots and mittens and hats and sent them out into it. Of course they headed to the Hole to China. The snow was deep, and they struggled leaving deep furrows of where they were going, where they had been. As they neared the hole two great black dogs, their flanks heaving, sprung out at them. They barked and snapped their jaws. The girls heard the click of teeth in the muted air. The

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Volume 20 girls scurried into the hole, sliding down its banks into the safety beneath the ribbons and the roots. The dogs danced in fury around them, peering over the rim, kicking up ghost showers of snow. They were not really bad girls yet, and they sat there, their arms around each other. One girl picked up the broken mirror and angled it to shine, that brilliant snow white light, in first one dog’s eyes and then the other. The other banged against the dangling roots making the ribbons dart and spin crazily. The dogs whined pulling their paws against their muzzles until finally they ran off. They were girls who knew they had outwitted misfortune. When they left for home, it was twilight. The path they made in the snow guided them. They knew they were bad girls now. There was a sinking feeling that on the other side of the world, their actions had been observed, judged and found wanting. They knew, of course, the dogs had been evil, had cornered them, would probably have harmed them, but it did no good to know these things. They would not return.

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Willard & Maple

ANCIENT CEDAR TUB Lynn Elwell

I awake to the unmistakable calling card of Autumn; an astringent sea-blown breeze of a New Hampshire morning. I gingerly step onto the deck, disrobe, and ease my way into the salty water of an ancient cedar tube. In a silence broken by an occasional bird-call or the tires of a passing car, I take deep and leisurely breaths. I await for the stubborn, aching pains in my legs and lower back to dissolve into the warm, comforting brine. I float; a semi-sentient and partly disembodied soul—adrift in a miniature sea of healing salts. I wish for the best.

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Volume 20

Phantom Messages Samantha Gougher

Thinking of you. Not sure what that means. I don’t think I miss you. I don’t want you to be here right now—that would be a disaster. Everyone would hate it. You’d probably hate it, too. No, you wouldn’t hate it. You’d get overwhelmed. You would be distant. But I know that you miss the way things were— those long late nights in our residence hall, camped out in the stairwell, two insomniacs attached at the hip. We’d hold hands like witches performing rituals in the light of the moon. The stairwell window would feel like black ice. I don’t think I miss you, but I still remember it all. I remember you in the cold, in the nighttime, when I step outside at midnight and make sure that the moon is still there. You’ve told me that I am like the sun. When it warms your skin, you remember me, too. I’m supposed to hate you, so I refuse to text you, and I’ve been good. I’ve been so good. You probably haven’t been good. Hopefully you’ve

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Willard & Maple stayed out of the hospital since July. I know that you’re working two jobs, since you’re not in school—I’m sure that sucks. At least it gives you something to do. Something besides… you know. Not besides. In addition to. You haven’t stopped. You haven’t stopped. I’m just reminding myself, you haven’t stopped. I’m really busy here. Lots of class, and I’m working, too. Friends are crazy. They were your friends, too, once. They fucking hate you now, but, I mean, can you blame them? And I think I’m supposed to hate you the most, but… well, you know how that goes. I won’t do it. I won’t hate you, even though I can, because you’ve given me more than enough reasons. The idea is like nails on a chalkboard: Hating you? No, no, no. Texting you? No, no, no. So I just float here, in the little box beside the word ‘send.’ I fill it up and freeze— And then I delete, delete, delete, until all the words disappear. Sometimes I toss my phone onto my bed. Sometimes I remain in the conversation reserved for you and me, just a little longer. Would it really be so bad, if I just texted you hi? Or hey, if I wanted to be nonchalant? hey, man, you’d answer, as though

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Volume 20 my interest is a surprise. how are you? i’m fine. I’d want to believe you. For the longest time, I would have. But I know you now. I know how easily you slip into a lie. no, you’re not fine. you’re never fine. you got me there. You’d admit to the cutting, the hiding, the ideation of your own suicide. when’s the last time you saw your therapist? last month. been working a lot I know you have a dozen excuses, so I’d probably just accept the first. therapy is important if you want to get better. you can’t just take meds and go to inpatient when you get caught doing shit. I’d see the typing bubble here, for a minute or two. A pulsating blue oval, filled with the promising ‘…’ of a future message. I’m honestly surprised that you haven’t turned that off. Eventually, I’d get impatient. The conversation resembles so many we’ve had, crowding my screen like flies, the same exchanges over and over again. don’t you want to get better?

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Willard & Maple i’m tired, you’d answer, almost immediately. Sometimes I wonder why you ever bother to lie, when you’re so quick to admit this truth. I care about you, I’d answer, my fingers trembling, and I want you to get better. Someday, you will too. You just have to hold on. I’d suggest you get help, again. you’re sweet, you’d say. I’d want to tell you to get your head out of your ass. you’re good, too, I’d say. i believe that. nah. Didn’t I say I wish I could hate you? i can’t help you, I’d admit, hating myself for it. only you can. this is just how it is. And there it would be again, the response licking at my fingertips: you make it how it is. i’m here to listen, I’d tack on, a useless platitude I know you wouldn’t accept. Then, we’d talk about movies, or work, or school, until one of us (probably me) finds something better to do. That’s how it would be, if I texted you right now. That’s how it would be. Delete, delete, fucking delete.

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Volume 20 Delete the longing and the wanting and the terrible, terrible hole that you’ve left in the air, when I look over my shoulder, on my bed, at the table, outside at night when the moon is shining and the sky is perfectly clear. Delete the conversation, but not your number in my phone. Keep all the pictures, but avoid the folder where they’re kept. Skip all our songs. Mourn the moon. Delete the what-ifs, delete the buts. Delete the smiles and the touches and the long late-night talks. Delete your body against mine, tight, holding on for dear life. Delete, delete, delete everything good you’ve ever made me feel, because it was bad, you were bad, I was bad, you are bad. So why don’t I hate you? And why the fuck am I still here? I could text someone else. I could say the right things, ask the right questions, get a compliment, get a kiss. I could, I could, I could. I have, I have, I have. It never turns into much. Maybe I’m broken. Maybe you’ve cursed me. Maybe I just have to try again. Maybe I miss you. Of course I miss you. I don’t know if anyone else will fill the place that you have left. I don’t know if someone will make

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Willard & Maple me forget your name, or your smile, or the way your hands felt in mine. I don’t know if you, as I love you, have ever entirely been real. But I know who I am, as I flood a white rectangle with texts I’ve already sent, deleting them after a moment’s thought. Honestly? I know I’m better than this bullshit. I am thinking of you. I’m not sure what that means. But I know I am capable of loving. I did not ask for this hurt. I make it how it is— And I’m fine when I’m not thinking of you.

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Volume 20

monster Emma Johnson-Rivard

Remember, safety first. Hell is an engineer with no goggles. And in Hell we’re all alone, sister. They say Shelley was a lonely girl but I ask you: what have they ever done? Bones to bodies, parts to the whole. Mind the stiches, this women’s work and it is women’s work when this mother-son comes bleeding undone (he never did learn to sew) Tenderly now, I will teach you. Knot the thread. Then let it break between your teeth.

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Willard & Maple

WITHIN DNA Haley Kaul

Daydreaming leads to misconceptions. Misconceptions are contextual anxieties. The anxiety that can hold me by the lungs. Lungs are meant to breathe. Breathe in, breathe out. Outside of my footsteps, there are prints. Prints of a man that walked this beach before. Before he was a father. Grandfather, tell me how you lived without knowing. We know ourselves, let’s not focus on how hard it is to breathe. Breathe in through the nose, breathe out the mouth. Mouths that said I will be okay. Okay, but tell me how I became dependent. Depending on pills to keep going. Going through the door into rooms. Rooms surrounded by friends. Friends, family, we have gathered here today. Today may be the day, yet I don’t quite understand. Understanding doesn’t equal caring. Caring for me as I breathe. Breathing becomes more difficult in my sleep. Sleep apnea may soon be gifted to me. My grandmother and I sit around the table. Tabling conversations about harder subjects. Subjecting me to small talk. Talking until she tells me about my grandfather. Grandfather, I understand why you checked yourself in.

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Volume 20

In times to come, I may do the same. Same as you, I overthink the future. A future numbered in days.

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Willard & Maple

you have made me smile again Abigail Ketchem my lipsthose which once only tasted salty tears and blood from my bitten tonguenow show off my teeth. they make my cheeks rosy; my eyes crinkle at the edges. my bellyonce a storm of black thunder and purple lightningnow blooms with white tulip fields and red cherry seeds. and my toesthey used to curl up; rejecting emotion. now, they tingle and crackle they stretch and reach for the edge of this bed. my heart, oh, my heartshe beats in harmony with the cadence of your voice. the smile that you gave mecaused her to want to beat again.

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Volume 20

in relapse or recovery Andrew Lafleche

the skin has grown over the shells lodged in the soles of my feet. all those days limping around the house shifting my weight to lessen the pain, I don’t feel them anymore. like the lead broke into my hand in first grade can be seen in the palm though it no longer hurts that’s how it is with my instep, now. still I encounter some queasiness thinking about these objects inside me. I shake my head a little at Johnny for being so careless at school, but mostly I enjoy touching my toes to the ground rolling softly to my heels expecting a spike and experiencing nothing, I smile. something I haven’t done in a while where this new confidence forces me to contend maybe today I’ll try walking in the same room as you.

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the white speck dancing by the window Andrew Lafleche

reminds of snow when life was lived there. those cold winds forcing the collar tight though the sharpness livened the core of being the bears in the lightly dusted Boreal preparing the last of their supplies before the ground froze over until spring children begging the sky for a storm to blanket the water tower hill for sledding ahead of mothers calling them home to bed the romantic, for a white Christmas. the young woman, to blanket herself with her lover by the open fire place. for crisp star filled nights where the only clouds are of spoken words whispered in the knowledge of being heard. yes. yes. I miss the north on days like these. I miss my home.

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Volume 20

Self-Portrait Tess LaLonde

It’s been a long time coming, but Chester Hartley is officially retired. No more stocking shelves, counting out nails, or dealing with customers who think they know more than someone who has worked at a hardware store for nearly fifty years. It had seemed like his going away party would last another half a century, but he’s finally home again. He discards his worn tweed coat and groceries, then grabs a crinkling plastic bag from the table and shuffles towards a dish in the corner of the kitchen. His hands tremble slightly as he tips the bag and lets a stream of dry kibbles rattle gently to the bottom of the bowl. From the sofa, Kettle’s calico ears twitch, but her eyes stay firmly shut and she makes no move towards dinner. “Suit yourself,” he mutters, replacing the bag. He takes a moment to glance around the sparse apartment before entering the adjoining room, careful to shut the door firmly behind him; the cat would just make a mess of things. As a kitten, before he grew accustomed to her antics, it was common to find spilled cans and tiny pawprints tracking pathways through the house when he returned from work. Should’ve gotten rid of her then, he muses as he lowers himself into the tall-backed wooden chair at his desk, scratching a hand against his neatly trimmed, silvery beard. Would’ve saved me fourteen years of trouble. He shifts his back against the hard oak as his thoughts turn from Kettle to the studio he’s entered. Each shelf is lined with thick sheets of paper and sturdy canvases, rows upon rows of them. As he peers thoughtfully around the room, some hundreds of eyes gaze back. They’re his masterpieces—portraits of coworkers, acquaintances, even strangers he’s passed in the street. A child in a neon raincoat, a blonde woman whom he’d helped pick out a screwdriver (twice!), a man with rimless glasses who had sat across from him on the bus, some teens from the Lowenthal High track team that always seemed to be jogging somewhere or other. It’s an eclectic collection of all ages, races, genders. No two are the same. Looking around, it’s undeniable that he has an eye for faces, and has ever since he was a child. No one has ever challenged his ability to capture a likeness exactly, even without a reference. But as Chester has learned, time and time again, it’s no use having an eye for faces when his hand won’t

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Willard & Maple follow. His artwork is accurate—technically. He knows if even the slightest detail is wrong and will go about fixing it with painstaking commitment. But there’s still something not quite right about the portraits. Is it in the eyes? The lines of the mouth? The tiny brushstrokes that tie together every wrinkle, freckle, birthmark? He’ll repaint portraits again and again and again, trying to satisfy this nagging feeling of wrongness. It didn’t used to bother him, back when he first started. But it’s like when someone points out an unidentifiable buzzing: you hadn’t noticed it before, but now that you’re aware of it, you can concentrate on nothing else. His sister-in-law had expressed much enjoyment in his paintings the first time she’d visited. That must have been decades ago by now… After she had walked around the room, examining each and exclaiming at the details, she had paused, a serious look dawning on her handsome features. “Oh, they’re lovely, they really are, Ches. But… they’re rather cold, aren’t they?” Chester furrowed his brow. “I use mostly warm palettes,” he told her. He knew her knowledge of art was limited, but this seemed like an extreme lapse. “Oh, no, not the colors. The colors are fine. I was talking about the people… Dear, I don’t believe I could have such a thing in my home, leering down at me all the time. There’s no emotion in these faces! Not a drop! Can’t you just—paint some in? You must know what they’re feeling.” “Well, I don’t ask my subjects what they’re feeling, Denise. I don’t know them. I paint people I see from memory.” Denise brightened at this revelation. “Oh, that must be it! You’ve only painted strangers, you hardly knew them at all. There’s no emotional connection there. That’s your problem.” Chester had grunted in agreement and turned back to his work. Soon after this conversation, she had offered to model for him. “Seeing as you know me well, maybe that’ll help. I can tell you how I feel as you paint and everything. I can smile really wide, that’d be hard to miss! Or try to paint Hector. Oh, that’d be marvelous. You’ve known him your whole life, surely there’s more emotion you can add to that.” “Fine, I’ll give it a go. You can both pose.” That endeavor, it goes without saying, had been a disaster. Back in his studio, Chester groans at the memory as he sorts out a few pencils, watching scraps of wood flutter to his desk as they sharpen. He’d tried with that portrait, he really had… But his efforts amounted to nothing. “How much do you want for it?” Denise had asked. He glimpsed the disappointment in her gaze, even as she tried to hide it with a kind smile.

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Volume 20 “It’s on me. Just take it.” “No, really, I must insist on paying.” “An artist must be compensated for his work! I’ll be, is this why you haven’t gotten very far in the field? Keep throwing away good paintings for free?” Hector chimed in, clapping a brotherly hand to Chester’s shoulder. “Of course, if you want to keep it, I’ll completely understand,” Denise continued, a saccharine gentleness creeping into her voice. “Just take the damn thing,” Chester had snapped, shoving it into her hands. All these years later, Chester vaguely wonders why he had been so desperate to part with that portrait. Maybe it was because of the failed test of his talents, he thinks, a reminder of his deep, perpetual flaws. Or maybe he just didn’t want his brother and Denise gazing down at him, day after day, taunting him with their lifeless, too-wide, perfectly accurate smiles. Chester glances around the room for an untouched canvas, then sighs as none appear. Grabbing a portrait off the shelf at random, he plunges his brush into the nearest can of white paint and sweeps the tip across the face of the child depicted, only stopping when it seems as if the scene has been obscured by a sudden snowstorm. He could have sworn he saw the boy frown… just for a moment, before the white overtook his painted lips. It’s that expensive new medicine—costs are tight. Leaving his job hasn’t helped, but he’s finding ways to scrimp and save. No new art supplies, for example. He’s just started painting over canvases until he comes into a windfall, or finds a sudden cure-all remedy. He turns his attention to his current piece, recalling the cheerful face of the chatty grocery clerk who’d rung him up that afternoon. But as he sketches with trembling hands, his mind drifts back to another familial visit, some years after that first one. After a few days stay, he and his brother had been sitting together in the studio, sipping on coffee. After some time had passed, Hector had cleared his throat. “Look, Ches. Denise and I have been talking,” he started. “We think it might be nice if you came and, er, spent some time with us and the kids. For a while. Maybe even… indefinitely.” This had taken Chester aback, although he recovered quickly. “I’m sorry, what? I’m quite all right where I am, Hector, I don’t know what led you to believe the contrary. I make plenty at Mitch’s, and I have time for my art when I get home. There’s nothing wrong with my life.” Hector gave him a look, one Chester recognized from years of unsolicited Older Brother Advice. He set down his mug and resigned

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Willard & Maple himself to listening. “Come on, Ches, I’m just worried about you. Denise and I both. We don’t think it’s good for you to be alone. You’re a fine-looking chap, I’m sure you could land any woman you wanted. Plus, everyone’s all crazy for you sensitive artist types these days. Alright, you don’t even have to come live with us, but you should try for a spouse while you’re still young. While that talent of yours is still fresh!” Chester had smiled thinly and accepted this counsel without another word, ushering his brother out the door as quickly as politeness would allow. Now, he scoffs at those words as he details in the texture of the grocery clerk’s red shirt. Despite the shakiness in his hand, it’s clear to him that his talent has only improved with age—Hector hadn’t known what he was talking about. Why should he be surprised? Few people ever did. Especially his co-workers—former co-workers, now. Only one or two had ever shown an interest in his work the few times he had brought it up, and the first had only used it as an opportunity to push her daughter’s watercolors. Abstract nonsense, the lot of them. The second, however, had been different. Emmett Nichols, a thickbearded man who worked the cash register, had seemed genuinely interested. After a year or too of asking, Chester had even let him visit the apartment to see his paintings in person; a rare occasion for anyone outside of his family. Unsure of the protocol, Chester had made coffee while Emmett inspected his work. It took only a brief time for his opinions to become clear. “How do you not sell anything? These are incredible!” “Well, I sell some, every once and awhile. It’s just—I’ve been told my portraits unsettle people. I guess the average consumer just can’t handle the precision of my details,” Chester commented from the counter, only halfjoking. Emmett had leaned back from examining a rendition of a mustached man. “Why don’t you try some landscapes? Or still lifes? Take the human component out of it, they might sell better.” “I’ve tried,” he sighed. “But I just can’t get my heart into it—and if I don’t love painting, I might as well quit entirely. Take on another job, maybe earn some extra cash and spruce this place up a bit. Could probably use it.” Emmett paused in his wanderings. “So, you really love it, then? Painting these?” Chester had taken a moment before responding, sipping on his coffee and leaning on the doorframe, admiring his space. Canvases and papers were stacked in corners, spilling out of drawers, peeking out from behind cans and cups full of brushes. Colors delicately applied to each and

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Volume 20 every one: warm shades of brown, crimson, a golden yellow; occasional hints of cooler greens and purples that splattered their surfaces as jewelry, irises, thick woolen sweaters. His work, all of it. “More than anything.” Emmett had been the first person Chester had been comfortable around in years. It was a shame, he thinks to himself as he cleans off his brush, that he had gotten married and taken that office job downtown. Maybe it was for the best; a reminder of what happens when you get attached. Plus, a few weeks later, Kettle had arrived, a bundle of welcome distraction. Because, in truth, the loneliness had been cutting—although he had refused to admit it to anyone; it was so unlike him to feel that way. Easier to ignore it and cut the world off further. And now he had a cat, a symbol of his brother’s love or whatnot. And despite her antics, he does admit the purring sometimes helps him fall asleep. Chester’s hand shoots up towards his temple as a stab of pain sears through it. It’s unexpected, so startling that it nearly knocks him off balance. But before he can grab the desk’s edge to steady himself, the pain is gone, as if it was never there. He drops his hand and gives his head a curt shake, willing his eyes to refocus on the work-in-progress before him. But as he steadies his brush, planning the highlights he still needs to add, the mouth of the portrait twitches. He squints, then starts as a tongue flits out and a voice fills his ears—raspy, barely audible, nothing like that of the clerk he knows. “Chester Hartley,” it seems to say. Chester is stock-still, eyes fixed to the portrait in front of him. He knows this isn’t real—he knows it’s in his mind; some combination of stress, lack of sleep, or a side-effect of his new meds. But that knowledge doesn’t stop the voice from hissing on. The eyes remain flat and painted, emotionless and empty, even as the lips move. “Chester Hartley,” it continues. “Painter. That’s your self-proclaimed epithet. But—why? Why have you felt this need to paint? And why people? Were you trying to make your home less lonely? Did you want to fill it with life, colors, the friends you’ve never had? Yet you couldn’t quite do it, could you? Something was always off—and it’s too late now. You don’t like people, Chester. You harbor such a fascination with the visage of humanity, yet a disdain for its members. You’ll never draw anything that can replace the connections you’ve never had.” His paralysis suddenly breaks, and Chester springs into action. “Shut up, shut up!” he cries, lunging to strike the portrait over. It clatters to the floorboards, knocking a brush down with it.

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Willard & Maple And everything is silent. For a moment, Chester sits motionless, breathing ragged. Then, slowly, he bends to pick up the fallen brush, feeling the smooth handle rub against his thick-skinned hands. He doesn’t hate humanity… He’s just—his vision focuses on his hands once more, the thin brush held gently between his wrinkled fingers—a little calloused. A lifetime of handling brushes and hardware will do that to you. And it has been a lifetime. He’s old now, older than seemed possible when he was just a kid buying a new apartment, interviewing for a retail job. Old enough that his life is better measured in decades than in single years. He’s older than his brother ever got to be. And he’s feeling every year of his age, too: this new medicine burdening him with unwanted drowsiness and God knows what else. And his hand—his hand is shaking. It’s uncontrollable, now. He can barely hold the brush. And so Chester lays it down, bristles splaying out against the mottled whites and blacks of last month’s damp paper, and inhales. He can’t even paint, not anymore. Or if not now, then very soon. He has to face this new reality. But before that happens, there’s something he needs to do. He has one more thing to paint. It’s what every great artist paints, what every man who wants to leave a mark on this world must leave behind: A self-portrait. A legacy, a replication of his facial features as indicative of the years he’s lived as each fleeting memory or anecdote that passes through his mind. So, now, to paint the person he knows best in the world. And this time, he’ll get it right. It won’t be cold, he’ll make sure of that… although he doesn’t know yet what the emotion will be. Will he paint fear into the lines and wrinkles of his cheeks? Serenity and acceptance with every silvery-white hair he details in? Or in the grey of those irises, the highlights of his pupils, perhaps his brush will bring out a sadness, a loneliness, a mourning—not for the life he had, but for the ones he never did. With a gentleness all but unknown to him, Chester lifts a halffinished portrait of a teenage girl off a nearby easel, running his eyes across it before he dips his bristles into the white can and sweeps them over the canvas, covering the subject fully with a few broad strokes. A fresh start. A new beginning. A place to forge his final masterpiece. He just hopes that there’ll be someone who will hang it.

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Volume 20

you know because it’s familiar Kevin Luo

You know the squeaking of the swingset in the nighttime when the chains tip you back and forth like a pendulum swinging through the brisk and crisp air breathing weed that lingered in the park five hours after a no-good boy and his no-good friends smoked nearby. You know that boy gave you carnations in kindergarten that he picked from his mom’s garden and he smiled with a dark gap in the center of his teeth pink and dirt painted onto his plump and round cheeks and you took five to ten seconds to take the bouquet. You know the bored and silent stares in the auditorium traveling across rows of dark blue seats to get to you up on the tall stage sitting at the piano after forgetting which notes make up the national anthem but the boy is just waiting for you to play patiently. You know the sound of rude laughter on Valentine’s when you give the boy milk chocolate his favorite kind but his no-good friends thought it funny

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Willard & Maple that you, a boy, could give another boy a sweet treat in a heart shape so they teased until the boy broke it. You know the tears in the back stairs the apologies from the boy standing over but nothing to the friends because they hadn’t done anything bad it was all you for being born in the body that you were and the voice that dropped along with the chocolate. You know the feel of crimson lips on your own from the girl you never really liked but liked you and eagerly asked you to the dance but you had to make up an excuse for pushing her off of you the next week when she yelled at you. You know the burn of vodka and rum going down your throat the first, second, third, every time as you sit on the swing at the park in the night when crickets are chirping and people are at home except you and the boy next to you. You know the flowers he gives you the waiting the rude laughter to diffuse tension the apology the excuses he makes up on the spot because he

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Volume 20 made a show of pushing you earlier when caught kissing you underneath the old slide.

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Willard & Maple

Only the Paranoid Survive Brandon Marlon

Granted, flummery fosters foolery, though I must insist on the kernel of plausibility inhering in otherwise farfetched premises, the possibility beyond the probability that, should ever it transpire, would unravel your day else civilization as we know it. Sure, laugh your head off, I don’t mind; make barbed remarks behind my back to garner the guffaws of your fellows; nonetheless will I uphold belief in the thinness of the membrane dividing order from anarchy, a limen so flimsy, fragile, permeable that it betrays the proximity of nightmares, of violence ever lurking, waiting in the wings. How safe can our world actually be? After all, even “harmony” contains “harm.” And so I eschew the bewilderness altogether and instead stick to the great indoors; I crouch and quiver here in the linen closet sporting a conical tin foil helmet with antennae, ready and waiting for the onrush of reified fears. Let us bravely admit, even quietly, even just to ourselves, that one person’s neuroses just might be another’s secret superpower, that the dreaded zombie apocalypse won’t arrive via epidemic but will arise from within, not an outbreak but a breakout (you heard it here first), for who knows what evil lurks in the hearts and minds of well-rehearsed, self-repressed performers? Everything’s hunky-dory till something’s gotta give,

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Volume 20 then it’s every one for oneself. Lest you panic, permit me to extend an open invitation: my capacious closet still has plenty of room between the pillow cases and hand towels for you and a friend (three professional references required). Recall how even broken clocks are right twice daily, and better safe than sorry. See you soon!

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Willard & Maple

The Books Sandeep Kumar Mishra

Books are in restless wintery mood, Their voices seem urgent, What the books whisper We prefer not to mention in social circles; Yet they know more, Have been where we can’t go In the clothes we wear; They are unsettled, we are motionless, Their voices are foreign to our ears, They disdain, they will shake us off, Too many voices, too many lost conversations; When I open a page, fall into its frosty profundities To sink like a stone, I talk in clichés; They hover in time like bad omens They flap wings; frantic pages cloud the sky; They are the darkness in our bones That keeps on sparkling like dead flames; What struggles they endure day, night! Some books unopened stay to sight; Books of some pasts have been scorched Or may long live not a page turned, To die unread of ripe old age, Or by next generation earned, Yellowed, book-worms devoured in rage! There’s a thing common— books or men, But a few significant can Every book has its shining creed, Which we fail to read and believe

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Volume 20

Road Blocks Nicholas Perell

I never stopped dreaming of New York Like the green light of Gatsby But she, with the BS in animal sciences Lived for rural Tennessee. I wasn’t very religious In fact I was scared of the “holy.” She told me she was baptized At the age I shed my spirituality. “If we haven’t had kids by the time I’m thirty, I’m forcing you,” She said, self-amusingly. We let those differences sit, Fatal wounds for longevity; And as we felt closer and said “I love you,” Unaddressed concerns drove me crazy. How do you even comprise? Rural woman; boy in the city. If neither were to talk, to make that change, How could we be anything but unhappy? The neuroticism won; I broke it off gently. But her passing words— They felt heavy. She said she disagreed, But with my age, you see, She understood I didn’t understand; Love was too mature for me.

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Willard & Maple I had thought that never mattered, Seventeen and a little over twenty, But the notion she gave as she left... I guess we were never “really.�

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Volume 20

Mount Carmel Ridge at Evening John Timothy Robinson

My Art class instructor wanted us to go somewhere, observe things as they are; just sit for a while, look at things, listen. Gray evening clouds merge a vault of vast horizon, now only a solid sheet. Each in turn, cars leave prayer meeting. Sporadic, soft voices talk among locust trees. A young girl speaks, distinctive from the rest. Air grows chill. Pear blossoms glow in pasture dimness. A river-boat horn, far off. High inside a cluster of cloud, light suddenly breaks open, withdraws in partial fan. Across the dirt road, heavy drops begin on barn-roof metal. Holstein lulls, ceases. A dirt bike gears up in a hollow. Further through the cemetery, heavier rain approaches, abruptly stops.

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Willard & Maple

Church windows glow in silence. A few people linger in the empty lot. Dogs bark in distance. The last car leaves as gravel grinds beneath tires. Their lights resemble shells, sweep that openness of sky in beams that move in soft-shifting patterns, luminous green and silver, along the ridge, down-hill, and gone. As I stand here shrouded in this loneliness, watching as some animal would watch, with generations buried in sod of endless years, I am still alive, though thought is the only reason for separation.

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Volume 20

The Slow Walk John Timothy Robinson In mid-summer, a night in July, I watch the wind move through trees across Cornstalk Lake. The very space between us becomes obscure, as if our speech to each other were the only event. Through clear, night sky a full moon spills into rippled water, spreads out across pallid, liquid light. I hear the radio, distant, very faint. The breeze picks up again. Beneath heaving trees, pine cones echo and all Heavenward nebula seems to breach my earthen mind, like bells through body ever-after. The wind subsides. Cicadas sing in the darkened wood. Under moon-leaves of trees, our shadows merge and disappear. Back towards home, break lights climb up and vanish in the night

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Willard & Maple

Blizzard David Sapp

I was too young to know John Joseph Frye, my grandmother’s father, the flinty old bastard (a hardness essential for feeding and clothing Mary Bertha and eleven children) the patriarch of a farm set far back from Sycamore Road. But this memory, apparently now solely mine, requires little elaboration: one winter, sometime in the 30s, after an exceptionally heavy snow, Joe and his neighbor, hardships and stoicism identical, with wide corn shovels cleared their long, parallel lanes, backs curving, heave for heave, silently, sullenly, a distorted slight, a thin wire fence between them. Their rivalry, a furious blizzard of flying white, was once a useful expression of animosity, now a lost art. At their mailboxes, their maelstrom unabated and nothing left to sling, they sparred shovels; sparks flew from clashing steel. Eventually, out of breath, sweat freezing under coats, I want to imagine they laughed, shook hands, and drank strong coffee together, their wives’ eyes rolling in the kitchen.

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Volume 20

Cats David Sapp

Though he claimed to despise the cats, cats and kittens everywhere mewing, incessantly underfoot, shameless, feral beggars, lackluster mousers, Grandpa never stepped on a paw. Secretly, he made certain, along his wont, between huffing cows, the lulling hum of the milking machine, and the wide-mouthed milk cans, there was always a battered pan from the kitchen. Like a tired, old priest, he splashed a little, baptized their heads with warm, frothy cream. They gorged themselves, bellies round and tight, little timpani, then licked each other’s ears after the feast. I’m nearly certain, though not wanting to appear sentimental, Grandpa was satisfied at seeing his cats fed.

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Willard & Maple

Milk David Sapp

On the way home from work, shuffling across the parking lot from check-out to car, a jug of milk at the end of each arm, my routine was abruptly interrupted, the moment jarring. An overwhelming nostalgia arrived as a harsh absence. On the farm, twice-a-day-every-day, there was an odd, intimate affair, a low, lulling hum of the milking machine; quick, funny suctions against udders; necks and horns polishing wooden stanchions; close, dizzy aromas of feed and hay; floating chaff caught by a sliver of light; warm, heaving flanks of Guernseys and Holsteins, their large, huffing breath steaming windows; and mewing cats, mouths open for playful squirts from teats. On cold, dewy mornings and at lowing dusks, Grandpa shuffled from barn to kitchen, a brimming pail counterbalancing the end of each arm. Then came glasses of cold, frothy milk; cream, thick as pudding, over strawberry shortcake and poured in coffee, making it sweeter; the whirring paddles of Grandma’s churn and the little butter loaves patted, pampered for warm bread, corn husked on the porch, or green beans snapped in the shade by cousins. All of this, too pastoral, too idyllic (and highly inconvenient) is now gone, the memory wistful, distant sentiment. Its absence is regret.

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Volume 20

Racism Anum Sattar

white master beats Caribbean slave girl for not marrying him white professor scolds a colored student for writing uniquely

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Willard & Maple

A Mother’s Dream (on the Eve of Her Son’s First Day in Eleventh Grade) Maria Sebastian I can only remember sketches usually dream of forgetting lunch or water bottles the first week of school always one giant to-do list this time I woke half a dozen times editing his list and mine in between was a series of chilling clips dim yellow-lit stairwells cautioning a twenty-something man quickly passing casting shadows across a boiler room hallway I huddled in a closet armed with a rifle I apparently owned or found or stole then aimed through the cracked doorway bullet navigating black air in slow motion bloodying the intruder’s bulky Rambo arm I screamed loud enough to deafen decades for my son to run the other way he wasn’t even there scenes pooled in whirls of what now between that shot and my blazing alarm I tried to brush it off at the coffeemaker watched him walk into school like always just another mother clinging like mortar to brick I used to feel safe once a bad dream ended and it was just a dream to me but each day I send my boy back in

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Volume 20

Seeing an Old Friend Off at the Station Kelly Talbot

He doesn’t turn back to smile or to wave goodbye as boards the last train. He didn’t tell us, but I suspect his ticket is one-way. He was always one-way, driven, ranting, cleaning his revolver, sharpening his daggers, preparing for the day he would make them pay. Now, he is going, I presume to exact his revenge or to go down, both barrels blazing, in a hail of gunfire. As the train pulls out of the station, I turn to you, who’d asked him to go, and I know I will never see his reflection again.

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Willard & Maple

Through Kelly Talbot

I hear my footsteps. I cannot see them, yet I know they are there. Someone who means something to me said harsh words to diminish my existence. I had no angry words left for them, left for me. The doorway floated toward me, around me, beyond me. I was released. Now, in the stillness between cones of light, I walk the night. No one can see me, yet I know I am here. Like the hands of a clock, I can hear my footsteps ticking into infinity.

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Volume 20

Touch Kelly Talbot

Across the table: her graceful fingers on the glass, she has no idea how beautiful, and his rough, firm hands hiding a tenderness only she will ever know; those firm lines of his jaw; the silly way her cheeks bulge when she chews; the supple curve of her shoulder, neck, chin, and his funny little smile; the way he makes her laugh; how she is always surprising him; her innocent wit and charm. The dinner is forgotten. Life is forgotten. All is forgotten. Only each other’s eyes: deep, moist pools, sparkling, alive, understanding, reaching out, sharing a secret, a bright and beautiful secret They caress, they kiss, without touching.

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Willard & Maple

The Fund Ara Weston

It sat in an old milk jug, situated on an old dresser made of cherry wood. In the Vermont air the cap was becoming harder and harder to twist off, the chilled plastic resisting all attempts, even a hammer. “You know, I could just cut it open,” I said after Kellen confiscated my hammer. “With an X-ACTO knife or something.” “We don’t keep those in the house,” he said, raising an eyebrow. “I’m sure you can remember why.” “That was one day, one pickle jar, you can fuck off.” I directed my attention back to the milk jug, labelled, “Mozzarella Fund” on the side. “Think it would open if I dropped it from the roof ?” Immediately he dashed to the window and stood defiantly in front of it. “You’re not breaking the screen again. That was expensive enough last time.” I plopped onto a chair, sighing. “Why do we have a mozzarella fund if you never want to use it?” I asked, toying with the floral-patterned armrest. “It’s for a rainy day.” The thunder crashed outside. “And what do you think this is?” “A light drizzle,” he responded with a slightly upturned nose. “Besides, we’re trying to reduce mozzarella intake, remember? Sighing again, I leaped off the chair. “Well, if this doesn’t count, I hope you let me use it when that hurricane knocks at the door.” I opened the closet, pulling out a large raincoat. He watched as I zipped it up and shook out the umbrella. “And… where’re you going?” he asked calmly. I grinned. “I’m going to my dealer.” The streets were flowing with dirty rain as I trudged to the bar. A scratched sign hung from the awning, squeaking at the gusts of wind. “Welcome to the Waiting Game, please seat your – oh, hi!” said the man behind the bar, putting down his glass of whiskey. “Long time no see.” I hung my drenched coat on a hook by the door and sidled up to the bar. “You know what I’m here for, Ronan,” I said in a quiet voice. Without saying a word, he reached beneath the bar, pulling out a place of freshly fried mozzarella sticks. Next to it, he placed a cup of tea. The barstool scraped as I pulled it up and sat on it. I crunched into

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Volume 20 the warm, melty cheese and felt my soul itself drip with oil. I closed my eyes in awe of its heavenly power. “You know, Kellen won’t let me use the mozzarella fund,” I said as I started on my second stick. “Says it’s for a rainy day.” “Has he looked outside?” Ronan said, raising an eyebrow. “Does he not know what rain is?” I shrugged. “He thinks since he’s fasting from mozzarella, that I should too. It’s our fund; we made it together. We should use it together. He does have that point.” “Why should you suffer just because someone else is?” he responded, wiping another glass clean. I bit into my third mozzarella stick; the cheese was beginning to get a little colder and it wasn’t nearly as melty as before. “I don’t know. He even told me yesterday, ‘What are you going to do, leave the mozzarella fund?’” “I don’t know how you could think of doing that, not with your… addiction.” “Well, I told him I’d thought about it; just packing up and leaving, you know, and he just went on to say why would I? It’s such a big fund!” I shook my head. “But we never use it, so what’s the point?” “Well,” Ronan said with a small smile, “I do have a near endless supply of mozzarella sticks here.” I carefully placed the fourth mozzarella stick on the plate. “Hmm… you do…” “And you can eat them whenever you want.” “Ah,” I said, patting my stomach, “but I have jeans to fit into and a job to do.” Ronan shrugged, still with that smile. “Well, let me know,” he said casually. “The bar is always open.” His words resounded in my head as I walked back. He was right, I could have mozzarella sticks whenever I wanted, there would never even need to be a fund because there would be endless mozzarella…it was enticing, sure, but would Kellen survive without me constantly badgering him about the fund? Would there just be spray paint in the house, markers, knives, tape? Just lying out, not in danger of being used for a robbery of the highest order? I came to a decision as I reached the apartment. Kellen opened the door as I walked up the steps. “How was your excursion?” he said, closing the door behind me. “I’ve been doing some thinking,” I said softly. “About the fund.” He waited patiently, and I continued. “I just think, you know… Ronan has endless mozzarella…”

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Willard & Maple “Oh, Ronan has endless mozzarella?” he barked, crossing his arms. “My fund isn’t good enough for you? You’re going straight to the source?” “Kellen, you have to understand…” I said, walking towards the milk jug. “I think I need to take this. For your own good. You’re so protective of it that I can’t ever -” “For my own good?” he said incredulously. “You’re the one so obsessed with mozzarella that you can’t go a day without gazing at the jug like it’s a Monet!” “Well, maybe because I want to spend it!” I shouted, wrenching the jug off the dresser and clutching it to my chest. I stumbled to the door, fumbling with the doorknob. “Don’t you dare!” Kellen shouted, pointing a finger at me. His eyes darted around wildly, and he took a broom from the corner. He shook it at me. “Sarah, you can’t just take the fund!” I stared at him, flicking a penny from my pocket. He caught it, staring back, now desperate, finally realizing the gravity of the situation. “Let’s see how well you do without it,” I said in a low voice. The door slammed shut behind me, and I escaped into the night.

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Volume 20

Here’s a Goody Bag, Now Get Lost Beth Williams

Slime shoots from a gun, a blindfolded little girl spins in circles, and is harassed for pinning the tail there. Sugared-up boys bounce off the walls, push each other down, and roll around like marbles let loose from a cloth bag. Order breaks like the swinging piñata, mother’s nerves scatter like empty candy wrappers littering her lawn. Chaos, and Jimmy is missing, no one playing hide and seek cares to look for him. Kids smear cake icing to paint their lips blue, hear the clown horn, and scream for twisted balloons. Mother steps over the lurking noose of the jump rope as she reaches for the small bottle of booze. Scooby Doo and Yabba Dabba Doo, each swallow brings her relief that parents will be here soon.

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Willard & Maple

Making Eye Contact Beth Williams

The storm stays off shore, a stalker, idling her car in the cul de sac, instead of pulling up in the driveway and knocking on the door like a neighbor. Pasta in the pantry, bottled water in the fridge, we are ready for her to come crying, to stop the electric life, to flood us up to our knees in God’s tears. We’ve set the table for her, short fat candles in glass globes, but dread her visit. It’s like preparing for a funeral, deciding which hymns to sing, while the battery operated radio prognosticates in the corner. The weathermen threw their spaghetti noodles against the wall to see which path would stick but there were too many hands on the Ouija’s planchette, and we are left to guess if the doorbell will ring. We wait for the sound of sobs, waves hitting their heads against the bulkhead, trees falling prostrate

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Volume 20 before the altar, the coffin carried out on the last high tide.

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Willard & Maple

Mother’s Death is Hard to Swallow Beth Williams

I wish I had your hand back in mine, that holding on to it would keep you alive, like saving a man overboard from drowning. But our boat heeled too far to starboard, you slipped into the dirty water, and all I did was watch you fade beneath the surface. Alone, I tightened my grip on the rocking gunwale and counted your air bubbles, as if nine would be a good number. Nine months I swam with you, nine lives are make believe. Nine pieces of candy fill my mouth. Minutes are chocolate covered raisins, tiny bits of pleasure I eat up way too quickly, and then they are gone. If I could spit up yesterday, I’d be blowing soap bubbles in the bath, you washing me gently, one hand on my back.

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Volume 20

Not seeing your face Beth Williams

is causing me to lose my mind. I take scissors from the kitchen drawer and cut your letters into pieces, rearrange them, and tape them on the refrigerator door, the shape a little like the outline of what I so long to see. Your words light up the screen, bullet points shooting at me from a faraway gun, and I have no vest to protect me from missing you more. I try to catch those short written bits you throw my way and stuff them in my ears as if I could hear your voice, as if I could ball up the card you sent and mold it into a real child. I’d throw the ball to you, if you asked or make macaroni and cheese and give you plenty of space so that I’m just out of your sight, waiting silent on the next page in case you wanted to read ahead. Instead I’m a wandering librarian in dusty stacks, looking at old albums, straightening books on the shelf, touching words you wrote, my fingers feeling how paper is no substitute for skin.

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Willard & Maple

The End of the Rope Beth Williams

There’s a corner between us, but I hear your cries before my feet pivot around the nurses’ station, where blue shirted mannequins sit like witnesses to church, their heads always bowed. Just last month, it seems, you phoned me every day not just to beg for help when you fell out of bed, but to sing me a song or share the dreaded word love. This place smells like onions rotting in the bin, looks like old fruit lumped in wheelchairs, dying tulips with their mouths gaping for one more breath, balloons giving up on flight. If I tied the rope tight around my waist, it wouldn’t save us, we’d both be buried over our heads in sand. Waves will do that, break, and their weight will make us forget about water. But even with all the crying, I can’t bring myself to tell you mom is dead. You keep asking why she hasn’t come to visit, and it’s my choice not to trade one life for another.

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Volume 20

I Am The Feast Cassandra Windwalker

Glutted with hope and vigor, I would open a vein and pour out these words on the desert floor, would watch will be consumed by thirst, all my fierce colors fading in the sun: it is too much. I have held my tongue, stilled my limbs, forced my pen to measure out its passage on the page, and now my heart has forgot its rhythm, my eyes seek and seek after light till they are scorched past all illumination. Hurry and be spent: animus pours into me, consumes me, becomes me. I am all and I am nothing, I am the singularity to which all possibility attends, I am the wordless voice and the voiceless word. Slice me open and let the raven and the coyote make meat of me.

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Willard & Maple

Seeing/Not Seeing Marieken Cochius

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Volume 20

Man and Wife Plus Cat Henry He

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Intimacy Timelessly Geysers Stephen Mead

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Volume 20

Let None Tear Assunder What is True Stephen Mead

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We Kiss in the Midst of Nature’s Abundance Stephen Mead

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Volume 20

Desert Sun Barbara Rizza Mellin

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Eternal Spring Barbara Rizza Mellin

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Volume 20

Just Thinking Barbara Rizza Mellin

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Samurai Barbara Rizza Mellin

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June Sunset with Light Pollution Matt Prater

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Across the Room Laura Viapiano

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Volume 20

Biographies Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He has published four chapbooks and two micro-chapbooks. Scott Blackwell is a former resident of San Francisco and an MFA graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and has most recently had poetry published in Mudfish, Iconoclast, Avalon Review, Writer’s Block, Straylight, Nerve Cowboy and others. He currently resides in Champaign, Illinois in an old fixer-upper, trying hard to get back to that poetry and novel thing. Doug Bolling’s poetry has appeared in Posit, Water-Stone Review, Isthmus, The Missing Slate (with interview), Connecticut River Review, and Folia, among others. He has received Best of the Net and Pushcart nominations and several awards, including the Mathiasen Award from the University of Arizona's Harmony Magazine. Marieken Cochius is a Dutch-born artist who has lived and worked in New York City since 1987 and in the Hudson Valley since 2013. Meditative, strong, and intuitive work that often explores the ambiguous borders that contain life, she is drawn to remote places where she studies nature and makes art inspired by it. Her work encompasses painting, drawing, and sculpture.  Nancy Demme has been a Children’s Librarian for 25 years. The Ride, a young adult crossover novel, has just recently been published by the Stephen F. Austin State University Press. Her short stories have appeared in Confrontations, The Kelsey Review, US1, and the Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. Lynn Elwell grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and now lives in Durham, NC with his wife, Josephine. He is a retired pharmaceutical research

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Willard & Maple scientist and a former teacher of biotechnology in several colleges. His poems have appeared in more than forty poetry and literary journals, including the Dalhousie Review [Canada], Poem, Trajectory, Willard & Maple, Plainsongs, and the Ship of Fools. Samantha Gougher is a sophomore studying Professional Writing at Champlain College. She enjoys writing long and short fiction, as well as for the screen and the stage. She hopes to publish her novels and write for animated cartoons in the future.  Henry He lives in Michigan. He also writes poetry. He spends a lot of time developing his artistic techniques. He has a unique style. Emma Johnson-Rivard is a master's student at Hamline University. She currently lives in Minnesota with her dogs and far too many books. Her work has appeared in Mistake House, the Nixes Mate Review, and Moon City Review. Her chapbook, The Witch’s Cat And Her Fateful Murder Ballads, was released by the Esthetic Apostle. Haley Kaul is an English and Communication Studies double major at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. She has previously been published in Pilcrow and Dag ger Literary Magazine and Firethorne Literary Magazine. Additionally, she has an anticipated publication in The Dollhouse Magazine this coming May. Abigail Ketchem is an 18-year-old student at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL. She is an English major, and it has always been her dream to be a writer. Andrew Lafleche is an award-winning poet and author of seven books. His work uses a spoken style of language to blend social criticism, philosophical reflection, explicit prose, and black comedy. Andrew enlisted in the Army in 2007 and received an honorable discharge in 2014. Visit www.AJLafleche.com for more information. Tess LaLonde is a junior at South Burlington High School in Vermont. Some of her poems and artwork have been published by Vermont’s Young Writers Project. She also participates enthusiastically in National Novel Writing Month, and enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, and accumulating pens.

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Volume 20 Kevin Luo was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He is a graduating senior of Champlain College in the professional writing major. He loves storytelling in any medium and writes young adult stories that give voices to marginalized communities. He wants writing to help others the way it’s helped him. Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 300 publications in 30 countries. www.brandonmarlon.com A resident of New York, Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s, he's been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. In 2014, he began a webpage to gather links of his poetry being published in such zines as Great Works, Unlikely Stories, Quill & Parchment, etc., in one place: Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead. For links to his other media (and even merchandise if you are interested) please feel free to Google  Stephen Mead Art. Barbara Rizza Mellin is an award-winning writer and artist. Her art has appeared in one-woman shows and juried exhibitions throughout the country. She received an ArtPop/Billboard Award, and her print collages are featured at PTI Airport, Greensboro, NC. Her work has appeared on covers and inner pages of several literary magazines.  Sandeep Kumar Mishra is an Outsider artist, poet, and lecturer in English Literature and Political Science. He runs Kishlaya Outsider Art Academy. He has edited a collection of poems by various poets, Pearls (2002), and written a professional guide book, How to be (2016), and a collection of poems and art Feel My Heart (2016).  Nicholas Perell, from New York, is a first-year student at Champlain College. Although majoring in game programming, Perell takes creative writing classes whenever he can fit them into his schedule, and is also an active member of the College’s Center for Publishing.

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Willard & Maple Matt Prater is a writer and visual artist from Saltville, VA. Currently a PhD student in Comparative Studies at Florida Atlantic University, his visual work has appeared in Storm Cellar, Avant Appalachia, and Five:2:One Magazine, among other publications. John Timothy Robinson is a mainstream poet of the expressive image and inwardness from the Kanawha Valley in Mason County, WV. His poetics was developed in the tradition of James Wright, Rita Dove, Donald Hall, Marvin Bell, Maxine Kumin, WS Merwin, Tess Gallagher, and Robert Bly, among many others. John’s works have appeared in ninety-two journals throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and India. He is also a published printmaker with seventy-seven art images and photographs appearing in nineteen journals, electronic and print, in the United States, Italy, and Ireland. David Sapp, writer, artist, and professor, lives along the southern shore of Lake Erie in North America. A Pushcart  nominee, his poems appear widely in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. His publications also include chapbooks Close to Home and Two Buddha, and a novel, Flying Over Erie. Anum Sattar is a senior studying English at the College of Wooster in Ohio, USA. Her poems have been published in the American Journal of Poetry (Margie), North Dakota Quarterly, Lullwater Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Typehouse Literary Magazine, HOBART, SurVision Magazine, Coal City Review, Lowestoft Chronicle, The Florida Review, and many other national and international poetry magazines. She won the first Grace Prize and third Vonna Hicks poetry awards at the college. Whenever possible, she reads out her work at Brooklyn Poets, Spoonbill and Sugartown Bookstore, Forest Hills Library in New York City, and the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center at Cuyahoga Falls, OH. And she was recently interviewed at Radio Free Brooklyn. Maria Sebastian is an American singer and songwriter living outside Buffalo, NY, her home city. She teaches English and Public Speaking in the SUNY system and is a mother of two nearly-grown children. More at: www.mariasebastian.com. Kelly Talbot has edited books, blogs, web sites, and other content for

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Volume 20 more than 20 years for Wiley, Macmillan, Pearson Education, Oxford, Microsoft, and other publishers. His writing has appeared in dozens of magazines. He divides his time between Indianapolis, IN, and Timisoara, Romania. Using color, texture, and language, abstract artist Laura Viapiano strives to create vibrant paintings that demonstrate the power of perspective on shaping meaning. A native of Buffalo, NY, Laura lives and works in Los Angeles. Her abstracts can be seen in various galleries and homes throughout California and beyond. Ara Weston is a student at Champlain College studying Professional Writing. She specializes in snarky high fantasy and will proofread for mozzarella sticks. She currently resides in Burlington, VT. Beth Oast Williams is a student with the Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, VA. Her poetry has appeared in Lou Lit and West Texas Literary Review, among others, and is upcoming in Wisconsin Review and The Bookends Review.  She was nominated for the 2019 Pushcart Prize in poetry. Cassandra Windwalker earned a BA of Letters from the University of Oklahoma. She criss-crossed the country and pursued careers in bookselling and law enforcement, but today she writes full time from the coast of Alaska. Her novels, poetry, and short stories can be found in bookstores, journals, and library corners.

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Profile for Willard & Maple Literary Magazine

Willard & Maple XX  

Check out the 20th edition of Willard & Maple, Champlain College's student-run literary and fine arts magazine.

Willard & Maple XX  

Check out the 20th edition of Willard & Maple, Champlain College's student-run literary and fine arts magazine.

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