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VOX POPULI The voice of the people. Volume 5 Issue 2 Winter 2011

Letter from the Editor In airports and train stations last summer, many brief conversations with fellow travelers went like this:

Them: “My goodness, that’s a big bag, what do you have in there?” Me: “Two dead bodies, with room for a third.”

My response had been conditioned by a dozen or so remarks regarding the size of my regrettably giant suitcase. I could hear them before they even opened their mouths, predictably validating my embarrassment. I had justified it with the thought of what I’d bring back with me, all the physical memories. All the same, I advise against anything too big to fit through the door of a bus. The moment I get someplace, having come from somewhere else, there’s an element of fear associated with the thought of what I might be missing and a strong desire to “take in” what surrounds me. I pause. But experience tells me that connection tends to settle in slowly and mysteriously, and that “home” happens even more strangely. So instead of trying to notice and internalize everything about a new space, I think thoughts like: I love this porch. I revel in the sense of being in transit even as I anticipate the satisfaction of surrendering to one place. The truth is that in either case, when I walk into a room, it’s very likely that I’m tired and overwhelmed, confused and still curious. –Susanna Young (Editor in Chief)

Staff

Susanna Young (Editor in Chief) Thomas Reagan (Assistant Editor) Monika Krahn (Art Director) Dan Pfistner (Assistant Art Director)

Editors:

Annie Battles Dave Heacock Dan Pfistner Jeté Thames 2


Contents

Wall Space, Abby Carlson (Non-Fiction)

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Family Dinners, Kristen Ramey (Poetry)

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The Discovery Channel Presents: The Tree of Life, Thomas Mull (Movie Review)

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Perspectives: Decay with Imprecision, John Skillen and What I’m Like, Bryan Parys and On Our Uncertain Speech, Jonathan Bennet-Bonia (Non-Fiction)

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Skyscraper, Rachel Bell (Fiction)

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Lindsey, Allison Lynch (Poetry)

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Complaint Department, Ryan Coil (Play)

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Wildlife Refuge, Caleb Poehler (Poetry)

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Wall Space By Abby Carlson

have a memory, preserved for no useful reason, of a game I used to play in my head when I was little. Whenever it rained, if the moment wasn’t occupied by some loftier pursuit, I would sit as close to the window glass as I could and watch the small rivulets make their harried, unsteady ways down the pane. I would choose one and then watch it, waiting. I willed it to collide with another: then the two would join forces, grow stronger, and continue along their haphazard path, gaining speed until they reached the bottom of the pane – my imaginary finish line. I attributed feelings and personality to the drops. I imagined myself, in that moment, to be the raindrop – infused a speck of water with all my soul. I even felt sorry for those drops that traveled the whole distance alone, or – worse yet! – got stuck along the way, because it meant that they had got through the entirety of their brief lives without another, and I believed this to be a great tragedy – loneliness: a state to be avoided at all

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costs. An empty room, to me, has always meant loneliness: empty walls reflective of an empty life. So I cover them. My walls are almost entirely obscured by photos, pages torn out of magazines, ticket stubs, and an assortment of notes and letters. My walls say that I am someone – that my life is as full as they are. My walls are something of a deliberate attempt to stave off loneliness. Of course, none of this is real. I can only perpetuate this artful illusion up to a certain point: I am aware that these things do not in fact serve to make me unlonely – but for some reason their presence makes me feel better.

ing with my fear of being alone. I had to ask myself where it came from, why it was so prevalent, and why it seemed such a formidable opponent – how could I be so afraid when God had promised never to forsake me? I lived in an old building downtown: a tiny beige plaster apartment with one narrow hallway and cool ceramic floors. The sky there was always bluest blue, soaringly blue and utterly empty. At almost any hour I could look out my window and see the streets throb with everydayness and people going casually about their lives, a part of something. I never really felt a part of anything, that year. It was a difficult time – one of the Hard Things in life that you’re glad to have been through, because you’ve come out of it better, somehow, but that you’re equally glad to have reached the end of (and that you secretly hope will have been the last of its kind).

Last year, I left here and moved for eight months to another country. Loneliness, ever an indefatigable and ardent companion, plagued me for much of my time abroad. The experience of being cut off in that way from family and friends was in This year, I’m facing that equal parts terrifying and fear again, but it has taken wonderful, and forced me to a sort of reckon- (continued on next page) 4


a different shape. This year, I will graduate, and I have no idea what comes next; my thoughts about the future are hazy and undisciplined and bleed into one another like watercolors. I will come to the end of this four-year-

long ‘safe zone’ that is college, and from there begin figuring out the rest of life on my own. This loneliness is a more subtle character, more discreet in his advances. He, however, is not the only one who has changed – I have

begun to understand that there are both good and bad to be had with him. For what is loneliness, really? Besides being quiet and lacking for companionship at times, it also affords space: room for growth.

Family Dinners By Kristen Ramey

The recyclable box of red wine is almost gone, the last drops are milked from the toxic red and brown udder. Cookies and tomatoes, salt and yeast clutter our family dinner table. Holes tear at her black and pink floral shoulders, dreads drip down his knotted back. The kettle boils bringing us back to each other. Our necks turn and eyes stare as steam seeps out the spout, up over our candle-lit heads. She finally moves— pours her tea, we stand and clear our plates. Our hallway is filled with closed doors, shutting in its own dream, nightmare. Beads of saltwater roll down her temples and cling to her upper lip. The tangled sheets are crumpled at the foot of her bed. Shaking, she rises and slips past the doors. The night breeze creeps in the kitchen window and crawls up her back, easing her down, beside the table. Coughing vibrates from behind a door and the kettle starts to whistle. She finally moves— in silence, and pours her tea. 5


“Discovery Channel Presents:: The Tree of Life” By Thomas Mull

hen Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life was released, I was working at a privately owned movie theater. There were two screens. On one side we played Captain America, and on the other, The Tree of Life—a not-so-delicate balance. Both films opened on a Friday at five o’clock. By five-fifteen, half of the audience for The Tree of Life had migrated into Captain America. Ratings and reviews aside, this migration is my indicator of an ambitious film. This will not be an ambitious review. I have no authority in dictating the essence of The Tree of Life; I would not even know where to start. Instead, I intend to define the narrative style so that an audience can stop asking questions about structure and give more attention to content.

Oxford, and a professor at MIT. These influences set his films apart from your standard motion picture. Generally speaking, novels are more detailed and engaging than narrative films, but The Tree of Life is as dense as a book. It seems as if each second communicates an entire paragraph. But if one is not willing to read—to interpret the symbolism and ascertain the nuance— then the plot will get lost in minimal narration. In order to prepare an audience for viewing The Tree of Life, I will break down its dominant narrative styles: realism and impressionism. As Jack O’Brien (Sean Penn) reckons with his past, his childhood becomes the bulk of a sparse, episodic narrative. Thematically, hatred for a severe father (Bratt Pitt), love for an affectionate mother (Jessica Chastain), ——— and jealousy of a talented brother all shape Jack’s If you are not familiar formative years. Minimal with the writer and direc- dialogue and natural light tor of The Tree of Life, accentuate his sentiments Terrence Malick, first with an artistic realism know that he was a phi- that is aesthetically rich losophy student at Har- but profoundly raw and vard, a Rhodes Scholar at chilling. In this way, The

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Tree of Life grounds itself in an adolescent nostalgia that fortifies the narration and holds the audience’s attention. To me, the relationship between Jack and his brothers was the hook. Each interaction was an honest vignette of my own childhood. These realistic elements, both character and setting, are the tangible elements of narration. But spirituality and existentialism are also dominant themes, and abstraction goes hand in hand with the intangible. The film deviates from realism by means of disjointed structure. This is where narration takes abstract form; this is where I got lost. On a small, shotby-shot scale, transitions are jarring and disorienting. In one scene, Jack’s mother walks down the street while his father paces in the background. A moment later, after a single cut, he is gone. I thought that this defiance of continuity was purely aesthetic, but after a second viewing, it proved effective in communicating tension, or even (continued on next page)


emulating incomplete memories. Disjointed structure also narrates The Tree of Life on a broader scale. Within the first fifteen minutes, the story is bisected by an unexpected creation scene that traces life through a montage of cellular, astrological, and pre-historic events. This Planet Earth-esque scene is conspicuous at first, but seems justified when one acknowledges its narrative value. I like the Discovery Channel, so I

stayed put. Those who do not stepped into Captain America. To summarize, the nonlinear structure and symbolic montage are abstract representations of Jack O’Brien’s existential and spiritual progress—his coming of age. The synthesis between fundamental realism and progressive impressionism initiates a bridge between the tangible (people, actions) and the intangible (love, spiritu-

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ality). Because The Tree of Life is a dense film, a cup of coffee and several viewings are necessary, I think, in order to understand Malick’s intention. But I do not think that one hundred percent comprehension is required in order to enjoy the film. Be aware of the narrative style, but do not waste energy trying to connect the dots. Each element, in isolation, is beautiful.


Perspectives

Decay with Imprecision By John Skillen

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Does the language of this young adult generation lack, like,, direction and clarity of thought? Do these habits of speaking mar our ability to communicate,, or are they evidence of our delicate sensitivity to the presentation of self and our openness to the other??

On Our Uncertain Speech By Jonathan Bennet-Bonia

What I'm Like By Bryan Parys

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Decay with Imprecision By John Skillen

ry recording on your iPhone and then transcribing on your iPad some patch of ordinary conversation among you and your friends. I’ve been noticing several common features: first, a zillion bits of filler – like, sort of, um, you know, just – that often sabotage any clear grammatical “through line”; second, a general tonality of tentativeness, of asking permission, of turning declarations into questions with an upward lilt of the voice at the end; and, thirdly, all packaged with an attitude of “whatever,” of indecision, of reluctance to state a preference or take a position. Since my days as a writing teacher, I’ve been collecting and analyzing sentences whose general mess and imprecision seem to betray a general mess and imprecision of thinking, of feeling, and – as I wonder – of choosing and acting. But I also maybe see like what I sort of call a sort of “moral illiteracy” in my students as they live their lives of making choices and decisions on the basis of freely accepted beliefs and

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convictions about what is right and wrong, good or evil, true or false. What concerns me more than this or that instance of immorality is a weakening of the synapses between testified beliefs and the actual behavior that one hopes would be guided by those faith commitments. Young folks nowadays, that is, seem less and less to understand and to speak of themselves as creatures with sovereign wills who are able and obliged to decide between this and that on the basis of clearly held convictions about what is right and wrong. (My students in Orvieto may suppose that I’ve been overly influenced by the description of the lukewarm Uncommitted described by Dante in the Inferno.) Some connection between linguistic and moral life seemed obvious enough to an earlier age of schoolmasters. Alcuin – the English monk and scholar hired by the emperor Charlemagne to oversee the renewal of an educational program in an earlier dark age of cultural decline – supposed that 10

his students’ “poor latinity” (the grammatical and rhetorical knowledge of their language) was “the product of false belief.” The Elizabethan Roger Ascham remarked, “when apt and good words began to be neglected . . . then also ill deeds to spring, strange manners to oppress good orders, new and fond opinions to strive with old and true doctrine . . . [and] right judgement of all things to be perverted.” One contemporary grammarian asks whether “mechanical errors [are] symptomatic of cultural decline.” Such statements (I am well aware) will strike many as either quaint, or offensive, and certainly “politically incorrect.” After all, we know plenty of students who may be poor writers and clumsy speakers who yet live apparently exemplary moral lives. We all know smart, smooth-talking souls who live morally truncated or debased lives. We can’t possibly suppose that knowing how to speak well makes one a good person, that a return to (continued on next page)


good grammar will improve the moral life of the nation. But I still ask: Do the habitual forms of grammar and vocabulary of a society both reflect and in turn promote its moral commitments, its cultural values and its worldview? Let’s look at one of the sentences from student essays in my file. “Not certain of what I should do first, the radio was flicked on.” Here the passive voice of the main clause obscures the agent responsible for the action described: “the radio was flicked on.” By whom? The active voice would name the responsible agent as the grammatical subject of the sentence: “I flicked on the radio.” The initial subordinate clause describes, as a long adjective, an anticipated subject. In an uninflected language such as English, adjectives are always placed as closely as possible to the nouns they modify. Thus the clause “Not certain of what I should do first” is interpreted by the reader or hearer as describing the uncertainty of the next-named person who will then presumably re-

spond to the “I’s” uncertainty. The next-named person may be either the same uncertain “I” (as in “Not certain of what I should do first, I sat down and made myself a cup of tea”), or perhaps an uncertain someone else (as in “Not certain of what I should do first, my girlfriend paused in front of the door”). Actually, the “should” tips us off to the first option by introducing a note of moral obligation that would likely apply to the “I.” Yet even such moral uncertainty might be shared, as in “Not certain of what I should do first, my residence hall director advised me to seek the counsel of a pastor or health professional.” Such an initial modifier, in other words, leads us to anticipate a main clause in the active voice. We’ve got to have someone doing something in response to the uncertainty of the “I.” But such an agent never appears on the scene, leaving us with what the language professionals call a “dangling modifier” (an adjective with no noun to attach itself to). The grammatical advice to the writer is 11

of course simple. Solve the dangling modifier by changing the main clause to the active voice, and kill two nasty birds with one stone: “Not certain [or even better, “uncertain”] of what I should do first, I flicked on the radio.” But my student’s ungrammatical switch to an obfuscating passive construction contains a moment of truth (it seems to me) about the writer’s sense of himself. Depicting himself as “not certain” – that is, in a passive condition unsure how to act as a responsible agent – he describes the ensuing action as not-his-own, as though to name himself as the agent of any action would contradict the condition of uncertainty described in the opening clause. Indeed, the reader probably anticipates a main clause whose action is not very active; perhaps “I sank into my chair” or “I surfed YouTube videos of funny animals.” The sentence sketches a world in which things just happen, radios just get flicked on, nobody does (continued on next page)


anything. The grammatical uncertainty of the sentence reflects either of two conditions, both with moral implications. Perhaps the writer wishes (deliberately but ungrammatically) to describe a condition in which the action he did perform (flicking on the radio) was experienced as sub- or un-consciously prompted or as will-lessly motivated. Hence he is trying to make his grammar truthfully match its subject matter, depicting himself as an agent not responsible for the action he performed (“I couldn’t help myself, I just flicked it on”). Such a depiction of oneself is, disturbingly, all too frequent in our age (“I wasn’t searching for porn, but one link led to another until …”). The worse and likelier case, however, is that we have

caught the writer in a revealing moment of confusion about his responsibility as an agent during a moment of uncertainty. The initial clause depicts the “I” as an agent who can freely act (“… I should do”) even if he is uncertain of what he “should do.” But the second clause implicitly denies the status of the “I” as having a freely responsible will. The writer is vulnerable precisely at that moment to perceiving himself as not responsible for his actions. And this is a perception of the self that is reinforced persistently by the prevailing winds of cultural dogma. This sentence (it seems to me) contains an eminently transferable syntactic moment. What if the writer transfers this confusion to any of those many moments when he might be

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“uncertain of what he should do” next and allows himself to become the passive non-agent at the mercy of whatever power source happens to get “flicked on,” radio, hormones, whatever. We all of course have plenty of moments of uncertainty about what we “should do.” But occasions of moral uncertainty are precisely those moments when what we “should do first” is to step back and rehearse our commitments and beliefs and seek to discern how those basic principles would apply to the possible actions among which we must choose.


What I'm Like By Bryan Parys

et me explain: I am like, beginning. I am like a beginning. I am like.

ize I was having the best kind of sleep imaginable. I never wanted it to end, and so with my eyes closed, I’d start predict——— ing where I thought we were—the dips in RollerIs this directionless al- coaster Road, the gradual ready? This beginning bend off rte. 104, or waitseems unclear—indica- ing for the light to change tive of the fear often at- and let us turn down Elm tributed to the emerging Street where we lived. generation regarding our predilection for “couchy” I was never right. But the phrases like maybes and woozy exercise of trying ums. However, look to direct myself with my again: my beginning is eyes closed in a perfect actually rather transpar- state of rest is something ent in its calculated first I’ve searched for ever steps. I penned this open- since. If I wanted to get ing, typed it, edited it. It metaphorical (meaning: I is bold in its insecurity— do), I’d say that this blind purposeful even. movement is how I navigate language—not only Even still, I could care is it “not the destination” less for directions to the but it’s the hope that you destination. can hold back the destination as long as possible, ——— and almost will it into non-existence. However, When I was a kid, I lived this is not to say that there for the late-night car ride. is no destination, or that I Coming back from a for- never want to arrive. gettable dinner at some friend of the family’s — — — place, I always fell for the slow-mo, low-glo haze I don’t mind the occaof the dusk-swallowed sional use of filler words car. I’d dip in and out of in common speech. Like consciousness, coming it or not, it is our lingua to long enough to real- franca, and though it’s

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true we don’t analyze our speech patterns enough, the verbal tics of ums and sort-ofs, can be seen as a rising of the id, a more transparent marriage between the mind and body. If I am struggling to respond thoughtfully, then I will not hide behind polished rhetoric—I will let you hear what I am thinking, revising. I revise, therefore I am. But, I am also lucky enough to have the luxury of analysis, and the ability to peek behind the linguistic curtain. This is because of education. So, what of those who have not dedicated their young adult lives to studying and reveling in language? Perhaps I have given some reasons why vocal fillers can be redeemed in my own experience, but what of those who speak with an unexamined tongue? We must remember that language is not meritocratic. My tastes can be classical, but I must never be a classist—a person’s character and future should not be questioned (continued on next page)


based on their playful and free use of communication. In fact, the times I’ve exerted my privileged knowledge of grammar on someone else, s/he usually laughs it uncomfortably off, with a downward glance and a tightened jaw. I’ve just changed the game into my game. How then can I make a connection with a human, if I spend my time co-opting their voice?

tive confidence of the previous generation—a generation whose wars had clear beginnings and endings, allowing them to mark distinct points on the map of their life.

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We speak, and we loop back. Pulling from its Middle French root meaning “to try,” “to make an attempt,” we essay (essai). “I will essay myself to be,” said Emerson, turning the word into a gerund not unlike how we use “texting.” In fact, the more we try, the more we complicate our ability to come to permanent conclusions, and the less license we have to lord it over those with a naïve tongue.

This is not to say that we should give ourselves over to the fact that the word “like” will cease to mean anything and reside only as punctuated chaff. No, I will admit that there is a problem under our tongues: Access. With tools such as Google Scholar, news source aggregators available on laptops, and even for free at libraries, you would think we’d have no excuse but to learn to speak flawlessly. But what voice emerges to the top as definitive? We are in an excess of access, and it has not inspired in us the same kind of declara-

extend every thought so that it presses on lifting, jilting us into meaning. “Every full stop,” said Mark Slouka, “[is] a comma in embryo.” ———

Now, access has threatened to bury us—and the There is so much more to fillers you hear are the say. Let me explain. But sounds of us digging our- first: Let me. selves out. ———

Thus, I declare my insecurity boldly with a revision: I am like a beginning, in that while I look for an ending, I am always looking for an em dash—for the freedom to 14


On Our Uncertain Speech By Jonathan Bennet-Bonia o here’s the thing: every time a writer is about to write, it’s not that he or she thinks up a character or a voice to speak in, and then speaks in that voice. Most of us as writers are not conscious of the development of a voice or of a character whom we speak through. Rather, speech happens. We find ourselves saying things everyday without having thought through who we are or why it is we say anything. When we speak, it all just happens naturally. We say something and then maybe comment about that thing we’ve said until the thought is dead, or demands comment by some interlocutor (either present to the speaker, as it is in the speech act where one’s audience is physically present, or absent, as the writer’s audience almost always is, or (as T. S. Eliot has it in his essay “The Three Voices of Poetry”) one speaks dramatically to oneself, that is one makes for him or herself an imagined audience, and he speaks to that “person”). What we don’t do in all of this is think about how speaking

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happens. We think about what we have to say, and isn’t speech much more certain, much more fluid for that very reason? It gets in one’s way, to think about the speech-act that one is performing, about the essence of language, and where language historically comes from, if it comes from any place at all. What one more typically does is talk and not think about what it is that one is doing. One thinks, I like this day, and talks about all the ways in which he likes that day in particular, or he thinks just how much that day in particular totally sucks, and thinks, this day really **#@!% sucks, while he proceeds to tell his friends, acquaintances even, about how his day #!#*$!% sucks. It’s the best that he can do. Yes, more typically we all go about our normal proceedings: from one thing to another, not thinking about what it is that we are doing when we actually speak. Trust me, it’s much better not to, because to do so makes us uncertain, and uncertainty 15

impedes our speech. In its manifestation in everyday speech, uncertainty causes a speaker to turn, stutter, pause, rethink, and threatens to render a person speechless. Most of us must sludge our way through the untidy corridors of our speechacts. We can’t know what we mean until we’ve said it. We must trust the act of speaking as our means of discovery. But if we are not permitted the space wherein to make a mess along the way, to stutter, insert ‘filler words’ and sometimes even fail to say the right thing in the right way, then we will never find our way to what we think. Moral agency, in other words, can only be learned when one is granted the chance of failing to say what one means, as Beckett writes: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better.” When I sit down to write, what I must do is believe that language is the beginning of all things we think. And I think that (continued on next page)


without spoken and without written language, without language to think with, we are less capable of sharing in the beauty of this place, and our time between. Our writing actually thinks differently than our speech. There are only certain things that we can think in writing, and other, not completely, but quite different things that we can think

through the speech-event (discourse where agents are physically and temporally present to each other). And when I write I am fully present to the fact that what I am doing is creative, it responds to but is not, itself, the world, in the same way that speech responds to content but is not, itself, the thing being spoken about. As for me, I do

take some moral responsibility for my speech— maybe too much—and, at times, it threatens to render me speechless, except for this one question remaining: what would make us morally responsible for our speech if not being conscious of what it is that we do when we do it?

Skyscraper By Rachel Bell

he tall building towers over grey streets and creeping cars, standing impervious and untouched by the hustle and scurry of people at its feet. Those people rush on and on, back and forth, in a constant chatter of sound and movement. The revolving doors at the dark, glass entrance keep spinning and turning, swishing angrily, creaking in exhaustion at the repeated monotony of each day.

hurry away with bent heads. No one pauses. No one stops. No one looks up out of the shadow of the building at the silent giant that looms above. The skyscraper stands calm and staid, its neck stretched into the endless blue of the sky and the calm, floating clouds. All along the outside of the building are rows upon rows of silver windows that reflect the far reaching blue and the sharp, piercing glint of the sun. The people stride quickly The windows look like out from the depths be- upturned faces, the sun’s hind the doors. They step glint like tears in their into the windy street and eyes.

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During the day, the thick and solid skyscraper is a wash of silver-blue light above and shadows beneath. As the day ends the city lamps are lit to block the dark sky and keep back the night. But, just before the darkness takes its place above the giant building, the sun throws its last rays to the horizon, and all those silver windows grasp at the sunset. The impervious, untouchable giant becomes glorious in layers of flame-colored light.


Lindsey

By Allison Lynch when we were young everything was made out of color buildings were windowed prisms shiny blue with trampoline rooftops in playgrounds, seahorse saddles nuzzled our bottoms and rusty swings ached hello from the dock, inner tubes were clouds on a river and turquoise sifted between toes at night, marshmallows burned sticky, dripping onto birch tree bark. Later we were tucked into black tulip petal beds, sleeping bags much bigger than our bodies really needed.

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Complaint Department By Ryan Coil

A dim light opens on an intercom sitting at a desk. Lights at full. An isolated door is slightly off center stage. At a desk sits an older man (SIR) with a pen and legal pad. Enter Gabe through the door. GABE: Sir, I would like to make a complaint. SIR: Would you? GABE: Yes, Sir. SIR: Go on. GABE: Women. SIR: Women. GABE: Women, sir. SIR: What about women? GABE:…everything. SIR: Everything? GABE: Yes, Sir, everything. SIR: Hm. Pause GABE: It’s the smell, sir. SIR: The smell? GABE: Yes, Sir. It’s just…unforgettable. SIR: The smell of women. GABE: Well, the perfume of a woman. SIR: A woman. GABE: Yes. SIR: So…A woman…not women. GABE: Well, surely they all use it! SIR: I see. GABE: It’s…it’s wonderful. Beautiful. Majestic. Enchanting…..it’s really awful. SIR: Go on. GABE: I smell it and my knees buckle, my mind wanders, my breath quickens, my heart races, my skin gets bumpy, my speech... (makes a stopping gesture and sound) It’s beautiful, invigorating, energizing! I get urges to get into shape, organize my life, become a gentleman, comb my hair, eat well, wear nice clothing, make my bed, give to the homeless… SIR: How awful. GABE: Its terrible! I start thinking about other people instead of myself, spend way too much money on fun, consider feminism to be a legitimate practice, take up yoga, spinning, dancing, painting, hold open doors, pull back chairs, laugh too much, cry too much, hug too much, kiss too much, care too much, get in touch with my feelings, drive an eco-friendly car, drink drinks that have too much color, LAMAZE CLASS!

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SIR: (long pause)…So…you want to complain that your life is headed in the right direction? GABE: Yes! SIR: … I see. And there is simply no room in your life for a risk at happiness. GABE: Precisely! SIR: Well, Mr. Gabriel this shouldn’t be any trouble at all. You just get back to living and I will take care of everything for you. GABE: Thank you, Sir. Sir walks Gabe out the door. SIR: (speaks into intercom) Peter? PETER: (voice heard through intercom) Yes, Sir? SIR: Would you kindly take away Mr. Gabriel’s sense of smell? PETER: Women again, Sir? SIR: Women again, Peter. PETER: Told you they would be trouble, didn’t I, Sir? SIR: That you did, Peter, that you did. PETER: I’ll get right on it. (pause) Um… Sir? SIR: Yes, Peter? PETER: Do you suppose you could take away (pause) my memory? SIR: You too, Peter? PETER: Well, you know women, Sir. SIR: All women? PETER: A woman. SIR: …You need your memory, PeterPETER: But, Sir! SIR: Just like you need womenPETER: A woman. SIR: Exactly. PETER: (pause) But, Sir, it would make things so much easier… Sir uproars in laughter. PETER: Sir? SIR: (still laughing) Easier! PETER: Sir? SIR: (still laughing) EASIER! Sir, laughing uncontrollably, begins to exit the room. When he closes the door, both his laughing AND Peter are now heard on the intercom. PETER: What is so funny?! SIR: EASIER! PETER: Sir?!.... SIR! (continued on next page) 19


Sir’s voice fades away. The lights fade. Only a dim light remains on the intercom. Peter is now alone at the intercom. PETER: (he sighs)…easier… Lights fade to black.

Wildlife Refuge By Caleb Poehler

Grandpa’s old diesel spit white smoke, cold, The dirty windshield filtered the morning’s sunlight, and sparkled. There in the open prairie and lonely pine stands, The grass gave up its last long breath to its seed, a hope. While I, alone, searched out its mysteries, my only goal to find its hidden prize: A gamecock full in fall plumage, a treasure taken in one shot. Remember well the bite on your cheek at the first, and the numb fingers of a long day. Remember the late morning dew just warmed from frost turning your dog’s hair a deep maroon.

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Vox Populi  

Volume 5, Issue 2

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