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the talon

The Talon | Spring 2013 Woodberry Forest School Woodberry Forest, VA 22989 www.woodberry.org/talon


The Talon Spring 2013 Woodberry Forest School Volume 64, No.2


Editors Editors-in-Chief Connor Forrest Peter Shelton Design Editor Junior Editors

Editorial Assistants

Faculty Advisor Technical Advisor Winter Advisor

Anna Grey Hogan Kiefer McDowell Sterling Street Davis Teague Eric Ways Alec Campbell Cole Scherer Karen Broaddus Richard Broaddus Ryan Alexander

Staff Prose Review Board

Poetry Review Board

Justin Hash, Allen Jones, McGregor Joyner, Tim Lindsay, Jinuk Oh, Petey DuBose

Michael Bauer, Jack Gauss, Allen Jones, Gordon McAlister, Parker Nance, Isaiah Brown, Tommy Fang, Joshua Stuart, Will Harris, Chapman Dossett

Photography Review Board Will Figg, Andy Han, Hank Krebs, Tim Lindsay, Kofi Som-Pimpong, Ed Stewart, Miguel Valenzuela, Hines Liles, Nam Nguyen, David Sloan

Art Review Board Ian Edwards, Andy Han, Vinh Hoang, Ben Park, Kofi Som-Pimpong, Jinuk Oh, Petey DuBose

Front Cover Art ATLAS | Kofi Som-Pimpong | 18 x 24 inches Title Page Art INFINITE | Tawfiq Abdul-Karim | 18 x 24 inches


Word 8 PICASSO DIEM Connor Forrest | poetry

29 BACON: AN INTELLECTUAL SUBJECT? Sterling Street | nonfiction

11 STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA 1996 Kiefer McDowell | poetry

31 STORM SYMPHONY Isaiah Brown | poetry

13 KINGDOM COME Peter Shelton | fiction

34 LOOK NO FURTHER Connor Forrest | poetry

18 UNTOUCHABLE Anna Grey Hogan | poetry

36 RETURN Michael Bauer | poetry

20 WHITEWASH Michael Bauer | poetry

41 RAINDROPS Cole Scherer | poetry

22 IT’S ONLY FIVE DOLLARS Isaac Keohane | fiction

43 BRIARS McGregor Joyner | nonfiction

24 NEVER TYPE A POEM Peter Shelton | poetry

46 NO GULLS Kiefer McDowell | poetry

27 [INSERT WITTY WORDS HERE] Cole Scherer | poetry

48 CONFESSIONS TO MY FRIEND Eric Ways | poetry

THE GRAND CANYON FROM ABOVE | Blakely Castleman | digital photography

51 SKIN Andrew Harris | poetry

62 PLEASE DON’T ASK ME John Yeo | nonfiction

53 THE STATE OF AFFAIRS Peter Shelton | fiction

65 OUT THERE Kiefer McDowell | poetry

55 AMERICAN DREAM Davis Teague | poetry

65 PAUSE Coleman Davidson | poetry

58 THE TEMPEST Jinuk Oh | poetry

67 CROSSROADS Connor Forrest | fiction

61 A SPOILED TROT Tim Lindsay | nonfiction

70 WORKS OF A DREAM Joshua Stuart | poetry


Image

17 FEVER DREAM Ben Park

9 JUST-SPRING Linda Hogan

19 RAGER Tawfiq Abdul-Karim

10 SHIMMERING COLORS Will Figg

21 MANIPULATION Ben Park

12 PLANCHON Hines Liles

23 SHATTERED Connor Forrest

16 TATTOO Ian Edwards

25 QOBI Chris Song

A CAIRN IN THE WINDS- WIND RIVER MOUNTAIN RANGE, WY | Kav Gillespie | digital photography

26 SILENCED Vinh Hoang

50 TIME AND TIDE Harris Moye

28 JULY 4TH, TELLURIDE, COLORADO Blakely Castleman

52 FIRST CLICK Will Figg

30 ARCHITECTURE Kofi Som-Pimpong

54 BASIC INSTINCT Vinh Hoang

32 KOA TENOR UKELELE Colin Gay

56 ABYSS Tawfiq Abdul-Karim

35 ECSTASY Ian Edwards

57 AN EVENING’S PULSE Petey DuBose

37 GO Sterling Street

59 HADES’ THRONE David Sloan

38 LANDSCAPE Chris Song

60 SEE YA LATER Alec Campbell

40 TRAPPED Connor Forrest

63 TIGER SPIRIT Caleb Rogers

42 AFTERNOON DELIGHT Harris Moye

64 COOKIE NIGHT Hines Liles

45 JOHN DEERE Linda Hogan

66 A SNAP OF DORM LIFE Chris Song

47 EDGE OF DAY Tawfiq Abdul-Karim

71 I SAIL THIS SHIP ALONE Harris Moye

49 IN HER EYES Kofi Som-Pimpong

72 FOLLOW Anna Grey Hogan


Picasso Diem Connor Forrest

Man will remember, not by your touch or face, but by the canvas upon which imprinted your grace. A blank canvas, clean from birth. The most beautiful thing, an opportunity without girth. The world your easel, action your oils. Stroke after stroke, a masterpiece for your toils. Each man his master, holding his fate, manning the brush, hoping he’ll open the gate.

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JUST-SPRING | Linda Hogan | digital photography

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Stillwater, Oklahoma 1996 Kiefer McDowell

Roses bloom at a roadside stall, so bright, a contrast to the city’s traffic haze; rich with the peace and warmth of summer’s days and quiet reveries of dark and light; seen only for a moment—there, then gone. Such wistful beauty, such a brave display stands out against the drabness of the day, confirming even here our dreams live on. But wayside seller, looking at your face, I see your flowers are only goods to sell with no innate significance. Ah well, there’s little value in the commonplace. Still I wonder, trapped within life’s schemes and compromises, did you sell your dreams?

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SHIMMERING COLORS | Will Figg | digital photography

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Kingdom Come Peter Shelton

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PLANCHON | Hines Liles | digital photography

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shley’s phone vibrated in her palm, distracting her from the uncomfortable concrete wall against her back. She opened her eyes to a line of parked Cadillacs and Audis in front of her and remembered her contempt for Hen House Market’s clientele. When working in the floral department, she could never escape their exceeding affluence, even on her break. She sat outside against the east wall of the store as the customers parked their cars and ignored her on their way in. Ashley took another drag on her second cigarette ever and opened the text. “Did you like your bday gift?” Birch shouldn’t be on his phone while stocking. He was probably on the other side of the wall now, a few feet away in the cooler room, loading God-knows-what onto his produce cart. She touched the bruise on her leg where he always ran the cart into her side. Sweating outside was not the birthday present Ashley had in mind. Her hand pushed her hair back behind her ear every few seconds, only to have it whip back into her face. Mr. Garcia needed to relax his unreasonably high standards if he wanted to keep his employees. The remnants of her cigarette smoldered under her foot and the thin wisps of smoke melted into the thick summer breeze. She stood up slowly, stretched her legs and deposited the phone in her apron pocket before rounding the corner to go inside. Eyes still on the sidewalk, she saw a pair of small black dress shoes when something hit her head. “Shit!“ The Pepsi bottle fell from Mr. Garcia’s hand. “Oh, Mr. Garcia, I am–am so…” Ashley stuttered. It was bad. The bottle rolled into the parking lot as the stain travelled down Garcia’s pressed shirt. Garcia locked his jaw and pulled out his handkerchief to wipe the soda from his face. He closed his eyes, trying to delay an explosion of anger. His face was completely expressionless, and his spiked hair glistened even in the shade. “Ashley to Floral for customer assistance. Ashley to Floral. Thank you.” Sweet salvation! For any other Hen House announcement Ashley would have lifted her upper lip, scrunched her nose, and raised her eyebrows in mocking. But for now, she had been delivered by John

in Customer Service. An extra jewel in your crown, John Babcock. “You should probably take care of that,” Garcia murmured. This was the first time she could hear past his indecipherable Spanish accent. No unforgiving eyes glared at her behind his rectangular eyeglasses, and because Mr. Emmanuel “Napoleon” Garcia was particularly short in height (and temper), Ashley saw the droplets of perspiration forming under his gelled hair as she tiptoed around him. The automatic doors slid open, revealing the displays of stone-hard avocados and wrinkling capsicums on sale. Behind them, Maureen, middle-aged and graying, gave Ashley a familiar wink as she ran her cloth along the salad bar. “Have a nice day,” Ashley said to a passing customer, and according to custom, was ignored. The grocery store sprawled out to her left. Cashiers stood at their posts, situated near the customer service and banking desk at the front of the store. Another manager Leedom Snavely stepped out of the office near customer service, stood and watched. He wore his green button down shirt, the edges still crisp from the cleaner’s, and his gray-black hair, as it did every day, appeared like Grandmother’s ancient rug that no one had the guts to step on. Snavely slowly paced along the cashier line. As he made his way farther down, the limp in his left hip convinced Ashley that he in fact was a zombie. It was no surprise as to why his employees feared him, after all, with such an image in mind. It was this same image that grew in Ashley’s stomach as Snavely turned his head in her direction and made eye contact. Eye contact with Snavely (“Lee” to the store’s high-class frequents) came with limited-time awkwardness and a discount in self-worth, so Ashley broke the connection and faced her floral section. It truly was a garden. The petals of tulips and irises danced in their bouquets clustered in free-standing locations, and, along the wall, breeds of belladonna, peony, marigold, and Nile lily erupted in a chromatic fanfare. Red roses glistened on their displays. Rubber balloons exploded from various drawers (organization was not her cup of tea), and ribbons tangled down beneath 13


them, but there was no customer at the counter. “You can thank me later,” the voice moved behind her. Ashley spun to see Birch approaching the side hallway to the salad-prep room nearby. Ashley lingered, watching his casual gait as he moved his hand through his hair to the side. And momentarily, she felt as if she couldn’t breathe. But then she remembered her bad attitude outside, and the nasty joke Birch had left her this morning. Ashley moved behind the desk to collect the packet formerly containing red cosmos seeds, stepped out from behind the desk, and followed.

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irch burst into laughter when she arrived in the saladprep room. He continued laughing, more and more, and eventually moved to the cutting table, supporting his doubled-over body with his hands and causing Maureen to move her tomato dicing to another quadrant of the table. Birch’s red face made his blond hair into a halo. Not a far reach from an angel, thought Ashley. But she was not amused. Birch stopped abruptly, his smile vanishing when he noticed her silence. “Oh, c’mon! I was just kidding.” “Not funny,” she said, pulling the condom from the seed packet. Birch had initiated the entire motif of irony and decided to share it with the rest of the staff. That he, with his “fruitful abundance” in the “Produce Patch” of the store would willingly fertilize Ashley’s seed. With someone like Birch who never stopped talking, it wasn’t long before some of her friends were asking her, half-jokingly and half-jealously, if there was anything going on. Maureen took her dicing knife and pushed the tomatoes off the board into her storing container. She had a smile poised on her face as she opened the door by the sink to the salad-prep freezer. “You silly lovebirds,” she said. “Get a room.”

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n a break two weeks ago, Ashley rolled a packet of lilac seeds over in her hand, hypnotized by a neon “OPEN” sign across the dusty parking lot. “Hey.” His baritone voice startled her out of her daze. She turned her head in his general direction, but not

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at him. “Hey, I didn’t notice you.” “I could tell.” She saw him brush a hand through his hair. “And…?” “And my name’s Birch. I work in the Produce Department. Well, as of today. I’ve seen you at Overland East before. I think we have Chem together.” “Oh, do we? You must sit at the back?” Ashley immediately liked the name Birch. It reminded her of…wood. She chose the word “satisfying” to describe the name and giggled at her joke. Ashley wasn’t always above cheap humor. “Oh, yeah, I’m definitely in class. Definitely sleeping. I fence.” She finally looked at him from her spot on the ground. He was staring across the parking lot just as she had before, and his body resembled a sort of molded Laffy Taffy in its lazy-stiff form. His face was not particularly kind, not particularly pleasing to the eye, but she looked at it all the same.

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shley was slightly taken aback at Maureen’s comment. She stood there with a counterfeit smile as Maureen disappeared into the freezer with her tomatoes. Did Maureen actually think Ashley and Birch were involved? What did the other staff think? The thought made her sick to her stomach, but it was only one comment. Deep breath, she told herself. Birch’s giggles subsided to an annoyingly huge grin. Maureen’s comment only boosted his ego. So like a boy, Ashley thought in disgust. She looked down at the cutting table, failing to think of a time when she had been this embarrassed. He stepped closer to her side. “Chill out, Ash,” he said with a smile, putting a hand on her lower back. “Ashley, you mean.” She brushed his hand off temporarily, still looking at the table. “I’m sick of it, Birch, your ‘fertilization’ bullshit. You know that.” “You know I’m kidding.” His fingertips moved in her back’s crook as if he were playing a piano. “Unless you’re finished kidding.” He reached for the hand with the packet. “Birch,” she said, looking at him. “Are you kidding me?

Really, are you?” She wasn’t that easy, especially on her eighteenth birthday. “Shhh. You think I have the indecency to do it in a grocery store? Shhh.” His hand was pulling at her fingertips guarding the packet. “I have a better place in mind.” Slap. Ashley was shocked at her coordination, how her hand had perfectly obeyed the laws of physics to smack across his face. His head remained to the side, and she examined his profile, the rest of his cheek darkening as the red outline of her hand faded away. She looked all over his face and then to the freezer. Maureen stood in the doorway, staring. Birch opened his eyes and saw her too. He turned his back on Maureen to look full-on at Ashley. His face flushed deeply, and his cold eyes judged her face sour. He breathed heavily and with a hand on her shoulder pushed her out of his way. Ashley watched him storm from the hallway. She looked to Maureen beseechingly, but Maureen only pursed her lips. “A slut and a bitch,” she imagined Maureen thinking. Ashley sighed with exasperation and left Maureen. A balloon order was waiting for her at the counter when she returned. Fourteen blue balloons and a customized “IT’S A BOY” balloon.

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he had filled the balloons and a bouquet order when “Love Me Do” on the sound system was interrupted with John Babcock’s voice. “Ashley to Customer Service please. Ashley to Customer Service. Thank you.” Ashley left the lily display and walked to the front desk. This announcement was too soon after the events of the salad-prep room. This must be another customer order, she thought. She was relaxed until she saw Garcia and Birch walking together in the other direction from the manager’s office. John Babcock, ordinarily greeting employees with a “howdy,” did not acknowledge her. Leedom opened the door from inside the office, which was just past the Customer Service desk, and beckoned her within. “This won’t take long,” he said. She sat down across from him and kept her eyes on

Grandmother’s ancient rug. He was saying something about “Birch” and she nodded her head. Leedom perched his elbow on the desk and kept all five fingertips on top of a couple of papers. After Leedom’s lips softened and eventually settled into a sympathetic smile, he pushed the resignation forms to her part of the desk with all five still on top. Ashley did not protest as she signed in various places. A numbness paralyzed her thinking, and she slowly put down the pen beside the papers before Leedom shook her hand. “I’m sorry, Ashley. Mr. Garcia and I both believe there is a world of success waiting for you, just not here. Thank you for your help. You are excused.” Nor did she cry. She unclipped her name tag from the neck of her apron and returned her staff discount card to John Babcock from its spot in her back pocket. Ashley would never have to wear these pants again, and thank God, they were ugly as shit. Despite her resilience on the way back to the floral department, the pain hit her as she entered the empire of flowers she had made. The sunshine filtered over the pots by the window, which caused the glassy leaves to shine with an exuberance she had never noticed. Banners of petals saluted her and ribbons hanging from the balloons above caught in her hair like cloth from a maypole. Surrounded by all the life around her, she couldn’t help but pause. Ashley stepped behind the counter to collect her purse from the safe. She organized the balloons into the desk drawers and cleaned the counter of old flower petals. Picking up the last balloon under the table, she decided to fill it for the gratification of helium passing from the nozzle into the neck of a growing balloon. It took only a few seconds, and soon it was time to go. Ashley found the Pepsi Birch had left for her on the department counter and decided she would drink it. She slung her purse strap over her shoulder and walked through the department. Looking back one last time, she saw the immense flower displays in all their celebration and movement. This was her kingdom come. 15


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TATTOO | Ian Edwards | charcoal 18 x 24 inches

FEVER DREAM | Ben Park | acrylic on canvas18 x 24 inches

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Untouchable Anna Grey Hogan

I’ve read about rivers underground. You can dam up every stream all over this earth to keep it from crying, but the water will still rush down below. Red dirt. The Appalachians. Trails veining out under my skin. The heart deep within won’t ever stop beating. Don’t stop.

In the mirror, I am the mountains. Dirt is made of atoms. Air is made of atoms. And you, you are air and dirt and you are me and I am air. Can’t touch me.

They say dirt don’t hurt. So why do my eyes sting, as I barrel into the headwind? A bullet. Never reaching the target. Off course.

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RAGER | Tawfiq Abdul-Karim | pastel 18 x 24 inches

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Whitewash Michael Bauer

I rise up from my frozen, powdery grave And with an undead groan begin my trek. The wind assaults my pink, porcelain face And flops against my soggy winter coat. The pallid sky fades down to indigo. The scent of burning wood lofts through my path. My prunish feet begin to push the pace. And once again I feel my cold heart’s beat. And those who left me here to face this fate, Their ghoulish smiles frozen in my mind. Inhuman gloves shove snow into my face, I wonder if that feast was mine to take. The mask I carry starts to melt and sting, As thoughts of life return to rule my mind. I itch with sweat and mount the final hill And reach the sanctuary I have sought. And now I stare back to the icy night And in the clearing sky I see my path: The cratered, sharp and sickled crescent moon Drives smoothly to the center of my mind. With clarity of purpose about my feet I hinge And as I enter, start to plot revenge.

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MANIPULATION | Ben Park | charcoal 18 x 24 inches

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It’s Only Five Dollars Isaac Keohane

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he nozzle clicked, letting its last few drops flow into his beat up 1970 Chevrolet. It didn’t have air conditioning, and the only sources of music were a then state-of-the-art eight-track player and a radio. The doors were heavy and hard to open, but her most beloved flaw was the set of manually lowered windows with handles so old and clogged they wouldn’t turn even under the strongest of forces. John had never gotten rid of the classic for what he always called “sentimental reasons.” He was about six foot five, athletically built and kept a neat, grey beard below his short, black hair. He walked with a confident smile, obviously a businessman, young and successful. All of his friends were proud new owners of BMWs or Audis, but he couldn’t bring himself to part with the vintage item. John walked tall, with his chest out and back straight. As the door of the gas station swung behind him, every set of eyes fixed on him like urban kids at a zoo. In this run-down service pump in the outskirts of L.A., he was as exotic as a baboon. John headed back to his car, and after straining to open the door, climbed in behind the wheel. He started up the old Chevy and twisted to look back through the rear window. He heard a tapping on the glass. Standing outside his door was an innocent-looking man holding up a five-dollar bill. He was short with meticulously combed hair and an ironed white oxford. His lopsided smile rested below a pair of abnormally wide eyes. He held up the bill with two hands. “You dropped this inside the store.” John instinctively reached down to the window 22

crank, but just before trying to turn it, remembered it didn’t work. The door is such a pain he thought to himself, staring at the green piece of paper seductively dangling outside his stubborn window. He deflated forward into a pose of defeat. This damn car just keeps causing problems; maybe he did need a new one. His eyes, wide with annoyance, scowled back out the window, “It’s only five dollars. Keep it.” Putting the clutch into reverse, he twisted around and drove off.

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ohn’s neighbors were surprised when he—and not one of his business friends—stepped out of the new 2013 BMW sedan that pulled in. He loved the air conditioning, the sunroof, the heated seats, and above all, the automatic windows. He didn’t have to strain to open the doors, and their gloss gleamed proudly in the sun. It was a fine specimen. He closed the door and jogged up the townhouse steps. After the usual unloading of pockets and removal of jacket and shoes, he nestled into the couch and flicked on the evening news. There was a reporter on site, a site that seemed oddly familiar to John. He rose from his splayed position as she spoke into the camera. “The killer gained entry to the victim’s car by holding up a five-dollar bill as if the victim had dropped it. When she rolled down her window, the killer walked up and slit her throat before taking the car and driving off.” John, immobile except for his trembling limbs, picked up the phone and called a number from a business card in his hand. “Hello? Yeah hey, I sold you that 1970 Chevy. I’m going to need it back… how much more? That’s fine, it’s only 500 dollars.” SHATTERED | Connor Forrest | digital photography

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Never Type a Poem Peter Shelton

The cursor flickers metrically like the beat refusing to enter my poem. I stare helplessly at the black demon. He turns and tears over the words: no more than simple, satanic spirals of alliterations. Look how he continues to blink over the page, mocking mistaken phrases and spiting the name of free verse.

to enter my poem I stare helplessly at the black demon. He turns and tears over the words: no more than simple, satanic spirals of alliterations. Look how he continues

He blips and fwaps in between syllables and wordy coils of abstract fervor. He boasts victory over carpets of green and red. He stops, breathes and smiles at the face furrowed at the screen. Hands writhe over his sticky pedestals of alabaster characters, deceiving laureates with calloused ambition. A phlegmatic blink stings the hands before they resolve defeated, and, undone, I watch his prideful pulse.

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to blink over the page – mocking mistaken phrases and spiting the name of QOBI | Chris Song | watercolor 14 x 22 inches

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[Insert Witty Words Here] Cole Scherer

Why even bother to write? It seems as though my ideas don’t matter. I feel naked with my words. Shot down and red flagged, nothing’s quite right. The fright, it grips me. The fright of flight from anything and everything, the fear of being wrong. Maybe my words are lost in a crowd of other words, all hustling and bustling places with their briefcases and tailored coats. Or maybe they have no purpose. Maybe they just have no desire to go, no desire to find meaning or bother at all. Why speak? Sometimes I feel as though I should keep quiet, keep my ideas locked away, cozy and snug in the innermost rooms of my mind. Helpless, all I have are words—my ideas protect me. My words will graduate, and though they may not be top of their class, there’s something to be said for just making it, for just being . Blinded or enlightened, My name is I am The words 26

SILENCED | Vinh Hoang | charcoal 18 x 24 inches

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Bacon: An Intellectual Subject? Sterling Street

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JULY 4TH, TELLURIDE, COLORADO | Blakely Castleman | digital photography

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rban Dictionary’s definition of bacon says that there are two types of people in the world: those who love it, and those who love it but won’t admit it. But for all the hype that it generates, many consider the meat to be quite an academically dull subject. Bacon has nothing to do with intellectualism, or so many seem to think. However, the meat is actually quite an academic subject. More information can be gleaned from one simple piece of bacon than most would suppose. The Discovery channel airs the show United States of Bacon so that we can enjoy bacon with the fullest vicarious pleasure. Yes, that’s right. Our obsession with bacon is now televised to our living rooms, so when you’re not eating bacon you can recline on the couch and watch a show about other people eating bacon. You can even watch it when you’re eating bacon, depending on whether you’re feeling just moderately sordid or positively vile. The pessimistic would say that our greasy infatuation reveals societal decline and underscores another parallel between America and ancient Rome where the wealthy purportedly hosted banquets with massive amounts of food as decadent as their society. One of these feasts might even include petaso, boiled and salted pork eaten with figs, which many consider the precursor to modern western bacon, though others argue that bacon started as brined pork in China as early as 1500 B.C., according to the apt-named Baconcyclopedia. The word itself is very old, having descended from the ancient Germanic root bakkon, which The Online Etymology Dictionary claims came from the same verbal root that gives us another English derivative, the word “back,” since bacon traditionally came from the back of the pig. However, our current name for the meat comes more directly from the Old French word bacon. The French passed on the word to the English, who later carried it with them as they crossed the Atlantic, oblivious of the immense effects the meat would have on the nascent America and, later, other countries. Though bacon seems a very American food, and many seem to think that we are alone in our bacon-mania, China and Denmark lead the world in

bacon consumption. Indeed, the English word “bacon” now has similar-sounding counterparts in languages as distant as Arabic, Greek, and Japanese. So, the meat reveals American Imperialism. That the distinctly American version of bacon—long slices cut from the pork belly (as opposed to the back)—is now eaten all around the world shows the extent of our culture’s dissemination. Each slice of bacon is a morsel of chemistry as well. Pigs can run and make other sudden, fast movements, but for the most part they just sit in mud like the pigs that they are. As a result, they have a lot of slow-twitch muscle that always needs to be oxygenated. So, as described by todayifoundout.com, they have lots of myoglobin, an oxygen-storing protein. As it turns out, myoglobin is bright red because it has an iron atom at its center. Consider that rust (iron oxide) and blood are red because they contain iron. When myoglobin loses its oxygen, it becomes brownish. This is why meat like bacon can turn brown in the refrigerator without actually being spoiled. When you add sodium nitrate, the scorned preservative of bacon and ham, the oxygen in myoglobin is replaced with a longer-lasting nitrate group that simply makes the meat appear redder for longer. Many think that sodium nitrate is a recent development, citing that for centuries meat has been cured with celery juice and celery salt instead of chemicals like sodium nitrate. However, scientists today know that celery contains a high amount of sodium nitrate. Obviously, bacon fits into academic study better than most people give it credit for. Everyone is familiar with its savory flavor, but no one considers its informational richness. For example, the typical pairing of bacon and eggs reveals that before urban development, most Americans were farmers who owned in a largely agrarian economy pigs and chickens. We’ve made it clear that the meat has a special place in our hearts, but it is typically ignored in the educational world. Perhaps therein lies the solution to our national bacon epidemic: Speak of bacon as though it were a purely academic subject, and the youth will avoid it at every cost.

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WHAT I MISS MOST

RAINDROPS

PEOPLE MOVE FASTER,

Storm Symphony THE EARTHEN

CARS SLUSH

What I miss most about home is the rain. Really the sound of it. It’s perfect, the earthy smell before. Quiet, shadows. Raindrops smack with a metallic clank under my rusted green awning.

REALLY THE SOUND

UNDER

Isaiah Brown

QUITE, SHADOWS

The sewers clank and gulp, thirstily drinking until they flood. In comes the percussion, thunder, the rolling bass. Lightning, the strobes, the show is on. Rain, the unappreciated music.

IT;S PERFECT

IN THE CITY

RED

In the city, things shift in the rain. Cars slush. Wipers work slavishly. Red lights blur to smudges. People move faster: Umbrellas up, heads down.

WIPERS

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ARCHITECTURE | Kofi Som-Pimpong | pencil 18 x 24 inches

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Instruments handmade by Colin Gay Photos by John Shepherd Koa Tenor Ukulele Front & Back Ukulele Headstock with Paua Abalone Inlay Three Koa Tenor Ukuleles

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Look No Further Connor Forrest

The pew, brown and glistening under the gold of his crucifix. Swinging to and fro, hypnotizing like a street magician. A boy to my left, a boy to my right. Sinners at thirteen. Eyes glazed, minds too, focused on sore bums and flickering candles. Girls had left before, left to learn a different lesson in a different room— the label on religion says one size fits all, not unisex. Words formed on priestly lips; we registered but never understood. Fat, glistening lips blessed by God a degree said. Mom drove an hour across the mountain, salty from a fight with Dad, so I could learn one day a week like she’d promised at Baptism. Tried to focus, for her sake, for the tears shed, precious crystals of love and conviction. I tried so hard. Not to focus, but to accept. Ideas without reason, without basis—an escape route for the weak, I thought. Lips moved without meaning, hot air filled with rules and guilt, fear and chains. Inhale, they said.

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ECSTASY | Ian Edwards | charcoal 18 x 24 inches

I coughed it out, choking on the burned cheap cigarette smoke filling the air. Not even Mom’s smile—finally peeking since the accident frozen in nightmares— while we prayed before bed, could stem the rage. What naive, bland sheep. A simple-minded flock, beliefs herded and trapped in a ravine of dogma. Lessons better discovered than taught, a shepherd less wise than father, a faith ill-prepared for the free. No more. The simple storm or flowering life pushing through rich soil more complete than any religion conceived or “received.” Who possesses the hubris to explain the miracle of an infant’s cry? No need for grand hall or twisted creed. Jesus wasn’t so tall, just another answering life’s call. Emulate, don’t worship. No man your master nor religion your chains.

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Return Michael Bauer

The bus sails down the lonely nighttime road. Alone I sit within the cold dark back, Uncaring as we penetrate the black. Not knowing what this darkness may forebode, My body tries to take the sleep it’s owed. With heavy head my rubber neck goes slack, And I slump sideways lying on my pack, My mind too tired to keep its waking load. It matters not to us where we may go, Nor whose will guides us in our weary state, For we are blind within the dark of night. Yet with some certainty we think we know That they who do our destinies dictate Will guide our minds to clarity and light.

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GO | Sterling Street | digital photography

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LANDSCAPE | Chris Song | acrylic 38 x 15.5 inches

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Raindrops Cole Scherer

Continuously tumbling head over heels, sucked towards grey soil. Terror gripping water dripping, mapped out plans bound to fail. Falling through trees berated by breeze, a missile with no guided path. Suddenly thrust by ferocious gust, a raindrop feels wind’s wrath. A raindrop has a jolly good time while plummeting through grey sky. Each one begins in a cloud and every must die. Just a moment in life as a raindrop.

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TRAPPED | Connor Forrest | digital photography

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Briars McGregor Joyner

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ad jumps down from the stump and turns around to take me off. I brush off my ratty blue jeans as he tells us, “Yeah, as soon as the loggers clear everything out of here, I’m gonna cut out a path for you two with the bulldozer.” I look around, trying to follow a path around the cutover with my eyes, which stop when they meet my brother’s. Weyland shifts his weight back and crosses his arms. “You’re allowed to do that?” We’re at the edge of the cleared land, with a flank of tall pines bearing down on us from the riverbank straight ahead. They seem so huge and ominous, casting a fearful shadow over my little face, and I wonder what kinds of monsters live in the dark, hidden corners of these woods. I can tell that this is one of those moments when our father simply will not give us a straight answer. I shiver, but it’s not cold. He kneels down to pick a piece of briar off of the ground and holds it up to our faces. “Weyland, tell your brother why briars cut us.” Our three heads are close; the stack of logs surrounding us muffles our hidden family conspiracy. For a moment I feel like a spy about to hear the secrets of his next big mission. But I am only seven, far too young to be brave like my father. “They cut us when we go somewhere we’re not supposed to go,” Weyland says, looking down at an imaginary briar on his shoe. He shakes it off in a display of dissatisfaction. Dad pulls us in even more tightly. “I want you two to remember that you will never be cut by a briar out here.” The woods behind him shake and rustle against the wind to signal that they can still hear. It’s a sweet,

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AFTERNOON DELIGHT | Harris Moye | digital photgraphy

soft, reassuring sound. He stands up as if to talk to the new planted trees that are just beginning to grow. “These will be our woods. No one else’s.” A buzzard flies over us in circles, an expert at keeping his distance. He disappears behind the line of trees and a large black cloud slowly replaces the emptiness. “Well, boys, looks like it’s time to head in. Looks like there’s a storm coming.” I couldn’t be more delighted to leave the woods and its briars behind.

D

ude, check this out.” I slowly peel back the leaves from a dense briar bush in front of us, trying to imitate something like a dramatic scene from an Indiana Jones movie. Except there is no shimmering, gilded artifact in the jungle in front of us. “What.” It sounds like a statement, not a question, and my friend’s face matches his tone of voice. “James, you haven’t really seen it yet. Come on.” I sling my machete back out of the dirt and slash a new path through the cutover. The excitement spills over on my mental map. The woods become a blur in front of me as I try to read it again. “Hold on. I’ll be right back.” I abandon the machete and dart through the underbrush, tracking old deer paths to guide myself forward. “What?” This time, I definitely hear a question behind my back. “You’re gonna get cut by all those briars back there, man!” I stop moving. “No,” I say, feeling the full force of my twelve-year-old voice against the low tree cover around us, “I won’t.” The sky opens up through the chaos of the branches, rattling against each other as I knock them from side to 43 43


side. I soon find myself standing at a cliff over a large creek bed I call “Turtle Island.” This hidden place in the jungle is my own artifact. The creek shimmers like gold where it’s moving slowly and plays a beautiful melody where it runs along faster, narrower bends of its own path. Everything in my woods has its place, and every place has a name. Everything except that damned buzzard. “Hey!” I scream at the black streak atop one of the rotting trees by the creek. “Get out of here, bird. Nobody’s dyin’ today. Isn’t Dad enough for you?” I hear something from the woods behind me and remember James. “Man, he must think I’m crazy, talking to a buzzard,” I say aloud as I dive back into the brush to make my promised return. No storm today.

I

feel like a kid again. “Am I allowed to say that, now that I am eighteen?” I ask the moss below me. “Are you allowed to be sitting up in a beech tree in the middle of the woods, now that you are eighteen?” retorts the motionless lump of green. I shrug my shoulders, sobered. I can’t tell if I even have a place in these woods anymore. The trees shed their leaves around me, letting me know this visit is long overdue. The familiar woods that once formed my comfort place have changed with the years. It’s grown difficult to remember the way through them. Soon, I’ll be living in

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JOHN DEERE | Linda Hogan | digital photgraphy

California anyway; there’s no telling when I’ll be here in Virginia again. “Only two more sets and I’ll get out of here,” I tell the tree, swinging down to hang off of a branch and start my pull-ups once again. I can still feel that cold tree branch in the fading red marks on my hands after I drop through the December air. Finally, I’m filling out into a man’s body, but not without work. My mind is outside of the woods, toiling away at my desk somewhere; my body is only here for exercise. All I notice are the black wings of a buzzard circling in through the treetops, looking for a place to land. He comes to me like a messenger from a world much bigger than my stand of trees, a world all the more interesting for a mind still craving adventure. His wings seem to span the years of stress that cast their distracting shadow over me. I think of grades, schedules, money, and all the “graces” of the civilized world. But suddenly a strong gust rattles my big trees, sends the buzzard scattering off with all of my worries, and calls me back. I can feel the cool earth embracing me once again with the memory of my father, and I look down to thank the motionless lump of green below me. Somehow I know that he welcomes me now and promises to welcome me back no matter where I go. A hawk cries somewhere far off in the clear, blue sky, and I imagine he’s saying something like, “No cuts yet.”

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No Gulls Kiefer McDowell

Shimmering, curling blue-green waves slap and surge, splashing at the shoreline, sometimes foaming, leaving a quiet jumble of broken shells and bits of driftwood behind. But I notice there are no gulls; I haven’t seen a single gull yet, only a scattering of piping plovers poking their sharp bills in the sand and geckos scampering across the trails and into the trees. A large skink stares at the sun, and a thin little man in dark red pants bends over in his boat, sunglasses dangling from a leather strap around his neck. He pulls the outboard cord once, twice, three times, then puts his sunglasses on and speeds off down the shoreline until he rounds a bend, and I can see him no longer, gone with the gulls perhaps.

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EDGE OF DAY | Tawfiq Abdul-Karim | acrylic 12 x 16 inches

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Confessions to My Friend Eric Ways

To the innocent in the mirror, she lied. Today is another day they’ll judge. So smile with conformity. Strut. Don’t let them know you’re afraid. Stop crying because of these demons; today I give no hugs, no love. Sew up your soul, my friend. Don’t let them know you’re vulnerable. She hesitated with the make happy medicine. “They don’t think I exist.” So take in more than you can physically hold. Be missed. Show them how to be remembered.

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IN HER EYES | Kofi Som-Pimpong | charcoal 18 x 12 inches

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Skin Andrew Harris

The frothing darkness crashed into the hull; torrents poured and pounded, heavy, solemn thumps. Firm and resolute, the fiberglass harbored its passengers, saving the men a murky, icy death. Night’s relentless maw seized creation, Zeussian whims splitting it occasionally, daggers slashing the unknown. Each drop that fell heavied the hopeless souls. Long ago the motor abandoned the wave-shaken men. Thunder rolled overhead, and the waves rolled underneath. Their skin—their hull—kept the surrounding elements at bay.

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TIME AND TIDE | Harris Moye | digital photography

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The State of Affairs Peter Shelton

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he beep of a voice-message system.) Hi, sweetheart! I hope your first day of middle school is going well. Finally…seventh grade! I’m just calling to tell you that you left your lunch box at home—I guess we both had first-day jitters! After you got on the bus, I saw it on the kitchen counter, so I ran over to Pinebrook and asked Ms. Hare to put it in the staff refrigerator. She’s so nice! You can go in and tell her you’re Anna, and she’ll get it for you. I added a couple of those thin mints you like and a couple bottles of cranberry sweet tea for you and Ms. Hare both. Tell me what you think—I loved it when I sampled it at Costco. Don’t forget I’ll be picking you up from the front entrance today for soccer practice. Sarah will be carpooling with us so be sure to remind her as well, OK? Oh Anna, I hope you have a wonderful day! And I still can’t figure out what that powder by the sink was, or where it came from. I cleaned it up, but there are ants everywhere! (The sound of a car horn.) Hold on just a sec, sweetie, there’s one more thing I need to tell you. Dad’s coming to the front door to pick up his lunch. I guess that makes three of us with the jitters. Be right back, angel. (A crinkling of the phone as it is set on the counter. The creaking of a door opening.)

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‘What’s for lunch today? I’m already starv- What?’ Shhhh! I put it in the tea and took it to Pinebrook. ‘Oh my god, you’re killing her! The vet gave us the powder for Buttons!’ Hal, be quiet! God. She’s going to hear you. ‘What the hell has gotten into you, Nelly? You need a straitjacket! That powder is for dying rabbits. You know what? No, forget it. Nelly, I just don’t get – ’ Ever since she came along you’ve ignored me! You spend all your time, all your attention, all your happiness on her! And what do I get? ‘What’s for lunch today.’ I’m not stupid, Hal, I saw your car outside Pinebrook all through the summer. Hal, I’m your wife. (A pause, followed by a stifled sob.) I just don’t know what it takes for you to love me. ‘Jesus Christ.’ Hal‘You’ve lost it, Nelly.’ (A car screeches away in the distance. A crinkling as the phone is lifted off the counter.) Sorry. Have a good—god. Sorry, honey, Dad is at it again. You know how he is. Enjoy your lunch. Be sure Ms. Hare gives you just the red bottle since the tea in the blue thermos is hers. She had sampled it at Costco too. Dad’s on his way. Apparently he knows Ms. Hare pretty well. I might pick you up early, sweetie. Watch your phone for a text. I love you.

FIRST CLICK | Will Figg | digital photography

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American Dream Davis Teague

When we are young, we do as we’re told, listening and learning, aspiring to grow old. We progress through school, one grade at a time. Ahead college looms, but oh, what a climb. College comes and goes; at last school is complete. You must find a job, or you’re out on the street. All your school pays off when you find an occupation. Thirty years of your life fly by with slight variation. Your back has stiffened, and your knees grow weak. You have no more energy, and life looks bleak. You lived and grew old but followed the crowd; learning, working, dying. Was freedom allowed?

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BASIC INSTINCT | Vinh Hoang | charcoal 18 x 24 inches

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ABYSS | Tawfiq Abdul-Karim | charcoal and marker 18 x 24 inches

AN EVENING’S PULSE | Petey DuBose | acrylic 18 x 24 inches

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The Tempest Jinuk Oh

A mad tyrant stomps over the city, ripping apart all that was orderly, leaving none in peace. The purple-black sky, thick with dark clouds, moves like a hungry serpent, ripping all to pieces. Deep, echoing claps of thunder boom, audible despite the ear-splitting drum of raindrops. Screaming banshees borrow wind’s form and throw the building back and forth, back and forth. An apartment of this height and width is no haven for those in fear of The Tempest. Mom and Dad grab what they can; lights come and go, come and go, and come and go, making me tremble in time; I dread the blackness. My sisters hold Mom’s hands tightly as if she were going to disappear. Only the eerie green emergency lights direct our way down. Eighteen flights of stairs in grim darkness and silence is no short walk for a boy who has always feared death.

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HADES’ THRONE | David Sloan | digital photography

Only the regular clicks of our shoes echo off the walls. Forever down we go; time has stopped. Before I know it, my cheeks are wet; imagination can be poisonous when used in the wrong way. The tempest swallows all sound and light with its giant maw, spitting out screams and roars of fury. Death feels so close, and yet I’ve never felt so alive. My dad’s hand gives warmth to my shoulder; I close my eyes and let him guide me to the garage. The smell of oil and mold is fragrant as roses. Here’s light. Here’s safety. Relief and stress clash. In the end, I fall asleep in Dad’s car, the storm outside forgotten.

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A Spoiled Trot Tim Lindsay

R

unners, on your mark… These guys seem appropriately fit. Perhaps tonight the spectators will serve witness to an extraordinary contest, a real spectacle. There are quite some sparks in these iron legs, I will warn. Grab a match to commence the lightning storm. Set… Let’s run smart. Manage behind the leader for a while, and when he realizes who pushes his every step, slingshot by; his discouragement will certainly be of the extremest kind. Boys and girls of the bleachers, you’re about to see something special, so take very detailed notes. Go! Getting a little ahead of ourselves, aren’t we, eh? Maybe you overlooked that this is a sixteen-lap endeavor? Wear out your muscles, break in those new Nike’s, get a feel for a man’s race. I won’t stop you. It’s suicide, and I’ll tell you there’s a bullet in that barrel, but you’re the one who’s got his finger on the trigger. Ambition—that’s what makes our country superb. Come on, Jim! Little slow on that last one so pick it up! Keep pace. You imbeciles, you simple-minded apes, you behindsniffing disgraces, you overzealous children of Ignorantia! If I had the right mind, I’d yank out your brains and

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let you start fresh. Where’s Ashton Kutcher and his prank crew? Even the girls seem to have taken to the fun. By God, elude utter humiliation and slow down, my dimwitted companions. Nobody fear, for this is certainly a fluke—if I didn’t know any better, they were all my pacers. Hey, buddy, what’s with the rush? We’re halfway through. You’ll collapse by twelve, I swear it, man. He did appear exasperated. Strong and steady always conquers the prideful hare. I can keep this pace for two thousand and fifty three more steps. Ha! I never give in. And behold! The first man to come to his senses. A wise chap, I’d shake his hand had I the chance. Don’t let anybody tell you different. See you on the flippedy-flip. Watch out, going for the record here, mister. Oh, he thinks he’s done. Or he quit. That’s just adorable. Either way, you’re a joke. Well it wouldn’t be entirely illogical to have finished now. I must be approaching my last lap. Four more, you say? You have me confused with the other bumbling carousers. I’ve been framed; there’s been a mix-up of complexions; I’ve been cheated of a victory! Somebody must have seen this! Speak up, for your hero has been cast into the same lot as the regulars. Speak up for justice! One more lap, Jimmy. I can’t feel my arms. Medic!

SEE YA LATER | Alec Campbell | digital photography

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Please Don’t Ask Me John Yeo

M

ore than once, my meal has been disrupted by Americans. This is not to say that I’m a xenophobe or racist, but that I’m sick of their inconsiderate behavior. Let me show you a typical seated meal at my school. After the prayer is said and food is served to everyone at my table, I start to eat. I stick my fork in a grilled steak, and as I try to put it in my mouth, the bombardment begins. The bombardment of questions about Korean. “John, how do you say, ‘This is delicious’ in Korean?” says one kid eagerly. I give a faint smile and tell him the translation, “Jeongmal mashit da.” I’m never sure if I should speak it naturally or with an American accent. It’s hard. He reproduces what I’ve just said and asks if he did a good job. He talks about other Korean phrases that intrigue him. Then, if he is one of those die-hard historians, he asks me about Korea’s past. I mean, I’m learning his country’s right now. Does he think that I’m well aware of the two-thousand-year-long history of my country? The questions never end. The steak grows cold on my plate. Situations like this occur to me often, more often than you’d think. People ask how to translate certain English phrases, and yes, they frequently include curse words. I have no intent of discouraging them from learning Korean; rather, I appreciate their enthusiasm and their efforts to connect. In fact, Korean students make good American friends by teaching their home language. All the same, I just hate when people ask me about Korean. I’m more than happy to be their mentor if they are truly interested and if they show some kind of re-

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class next year, and with a smile he replies, “Ajik, not quite yet.” I’ve never had such an eager student. Unlike the situation at seated meal, I give him a sincere smile. I know his willingness to learn Korean is solely driven by his intellectual curiosity, not some kind of amusement. When I tell him something in Korean, his ears cock and his eyes widen. Normally, the talk lasts more than 30

minutes, but I don’t think he’s taking up my time. I teach him Korean, and he teaches me the right attitude for learning. So, when a friend asks how to say something, I just smile. If the phrase he wants to learn is meaningful, I give him a translation. If not, I just continue to smile, but less pleasantly. If I could, I would love to say, “Why don’t you just use Google translator?” But I don’t because I’m a nice guy.

spect. However, asking about Korean whenever they feel like it just to amuse themselves is disrespectful—not only to me, but also to the language itself. Korean is the most beautiful language in the world. It has a level of politeness, it has subtleties in the pronunciation of different words, and it has straightforward grammar. It is an emblem of a history smeared with wars, of a language created by King Sejong the Great to eradicate the Chinese influence from his country. In my eyes and ears, its writing is exquisite, and hearing its vocalization is like listening to some euphonious poem. I want to keep its beauty intact and spread it to others, but not in a profane or insincere way. Recently, my French teacher, Mr. Huber, has grown fond of Korean. He has decided to add it to his long list of foreign tongues. Once in a while, he gives a small knock on my door and comes in—I can tell who it is by the gentle knocks and slow opening of the door. When I see his face, full of enthusiasm, I realize that he is here for my help. I stop whatever I’ve been doing, whether it is writing an English paper or video chatting with my friends back in Seoul. Our conversation soon turns from simple greetings into a serious discussion of Korean. Like a baby who is eager to learn new words and speak them to his parents, he tries to articulate his thoughts and anything that comes into his mind in Korean. If he saw an airplane flying in the sky earlier, he would say, “Oneul na neun bihaenggileul boatseumnida” in halting fragments. I point out his accent and grammar, but most of the time I don’t have to give any advice; he sounds almost like a native. I tell him that he is ready to teach an introductory Korean TIGER SPIRIT | Caleb Rogers | acrylic 22 x 28 inches

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Out There Kiefer McDowell My bedroom window sits open-mouthed, yawning deep into the nervous dark, deep into the naked girth of the night. There are times the trees out past the house stiffen their backs to keep still. Out there, something is enjoying this.

Pause Coleman Davidson Can you hear the dark, the rush from over the hills? Blue rolls of night waft across fields. Velvet-covered and heavy, it beckons and questions, whispers silent thoughts. At first it lays a finger, a feathery firm grip. Stems bend, double bend closer just to whisper. But welcomed, not worried, is the touch of the divine. For if you hear the dark as it rumbles through these hills, it’s really only dropping in to make sure that I’m fine. 64

COOKIE NIGHT | Hines Liles | digital photography

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Crossroads Connor Forrest

I

t was only once they’d slipped past the guard and the front gate that Patrick dared lower the book shielding his features. She sniggered at their paranoia and dropped the forced smile, allowing a laugh to sneak out as she dodged the paw prints inlaid onto the asphalt. “Hey, you’re not the one facing expulsion if caught!” he replied to her mocking face. “Oh hush, child. Let’s just get the fuck outta here!” She let the old Mercedes jump forward and groan as she whipped the wheel right, fishtailing onto the highway. The school’s sign slipped into the distance, and Pat felt a rush of freedom surge through his body, washing away all the sewage of worry and stress. A lightness flooded his limbs. If she was surprised to see the sunbursts streaming from his pores, skin glowing with the glee and happiness of a child, she hid it well. “Where to, oh Captain?” “Wherever! Everywhere and nowhere. We could stop here on the roadside, and I’d be perfectly happy to simply be with you.” He gave a rueful chuckle. “You’re going to make me throw up.” Picking up the iPhone, she briefly skimmed for a song. Radioactive’s drop pulsed from the thankfully modern sound system. Pat sat back and smiled, feet jazzing with the bass, feeling the vibrations through his soles. She turned and grinned, crows feet framing a deep and soulful pair of grey eyes. If ever there was an Athena, this was she. Her husky voice picked up the lyrics, torching what remained of his worries and putting his animus at ease. They drove west with the setting sun to their backs, little heaps of ashes scattering in the exhaust.

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T

he ceiling fan spun lazily around like a lasso, keeping the board corralled around the table like a herd of heifers. Bulk, acrylic mugs filled with slowly staling coffee stood vigil over the frenzy of folders, expressionless as the faceless names of their contents. Larry took off his glasses, sighing and rubbing the bridge of his nose, “Alright, we’ve spent enough time on this one. Whadda ya think?” “I like the essays—heck of a personality,” answered a woman stiffly in business attire with a tight grey bun attached to the back of two intense obsidian eyes. “But a 3.8 and 2080? Pretty below our average,” another voice droned in, light glinting off gelled hair and a bone-white smile. “Everyone writes about going overseas. Really think this has the pizazz or really anything the others don’t?” Disagreements sparred briefly while the woman at the table’s head took a sip, coughing a little when the tepid, acrid liquid hit her throat like sewage water. At only thirty-eight, Susan was resented by her colleagues for her position as Chair. They guessed it had something to do with her uncle but had to count her opinion anyway. “Enough. It comes down to whether or not we’ll find a boy like this down the road with a similar uniqueness but higher commitment to school work. With a GPA this low, I think we have to hope so.” Nodding either in resigned admission or uncaring acceptance, the folders slumped back onto the table. Not back in the pile, but into the waste bin with the rest of the torn and bloody hopes and dreams, blood dripping down their pages to coagulate in streaks. Modern

A SNAP OF DORM LIFE | Chris Song | acrylic 18 x 24 inches

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art. Finished for the day, the board adjourned. As she opened the door to the turquoise Mini Cooper, Susan took a stiff breath of the clean Palo Alto air and regarded the raven perched in the adjacent lot. The bird cocked its head, beady eye glaring straight at her, and cawed. She flapped at it, but the hoarse noise kept coming long after she’d shut the door and driven away.

H

e didn’t feel the liquid scorch down his throat as the tumbler clanged onto the bar with the rest. He didn’t feel the wetness on his cheeks. He didn’t feel anything. Finally. Rays of sunlight streamed through the barred windows, punching holes in the room’s dimness like an awl through leather. Or a letter through dreams. Knowing patrons stared at the boy, wondering how he’d been allowed in, much less given a drink. Let them judge. He eyed the torn envelope, carelessly tossed atop the counter an hour ago. Coughing down another fifth, he picked it up again, bleary eyes fighting the haze to make out the words. “Mr. Savingnot, we’re sorry to inform you….” His vision suddenly became blurrier and he gave up. Years of work, sacrifice and effort, of sleepless nights and endless essays.... Crumpling the paper into a tight ball, he chucked it like only a quarterback could and nailed the stuffed eagle’s beak on the far wall. Another hour later he tossed a card next to the glass and staggered to his feet, knocking over chairs and bumping against tables as he lumbered across the room. Outside he rummaged in his pocket, cursing the daylight and shielding his eyes until finally getting his keys out and the door open. The black metal of the tailgate clanged sharply as he backed into an old Harley before speeding down the gravel, dust spewing in his wake.

T

he light turns red, and he decides to do it. Reaching across the console, he gently clasps her hand in his. She turns to look at him, questioning. Seeing his playful smile, she tightens her grip and grins. “I know! I think Mom mentioned Bevan has a soccer game today; we could go watch?”

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His face is anxious with excitement and terror at the prospect of introducing the family. “YES! Let’s do it, baby!” Her eyes go to the sky as she jumps up and down in the seat, the last few rays of sun setting her mane of messy blonde aflame. The sparks in her eyes match the glow encasing her. A honk from behind brings her foot back onto the gas. “Can we, can we please?” The professional puppy dog face is overwhelming. They squeak to a stop at another red. He fumbles to get his thoughts back in order, mind going through rapid panic mode as he considers the possibilities and her face. “I…er…we could, I mean yes. Yes, we can. “ “Excellent!” The light turns green. She pulls out into the intersection and leans towards him. The pit drops out of his stomach as her lips press briefly against his cheek. She pulls back and looks up at him with a smile, “Patrick, what’s wro--”

Y

es darling, I’ll be sure to pick up milk…yes...yes, I’m great. Yes, be home in ten. Hun I GOTTA GO, someone from work is calling.” Immediately, she turns the music up and moves a knee to the wheel so she can pin the mess of brown curls into a bun. The car thirty yards ahead comes to a jarring stop, making Susan harshly jerk the wheel right, barely avoiding the truck’s saggy bumper. A finger out the window and a curse lost to the wind let him know her real feelings before she’s gone. Forty seconds later, she pulls to a stop at the pack’s head, waiting with a cigarette dangling from short, stubby fingers.

try he finds the accelerator. The diesel engine roars. Up the road and into town, he is so fixated on the Mini Cooper ahead that he doesn’t notice the small thump or the bird that caused it. He catches up just as the light changes, honking at her wildly from the rear and entranced by the thin tendril of smoke drifting from window.

O

h God. She recognizes his face. They’d finally looked up his picture after he’d sent a dozen supplemental recommendations and two bouquets. He was one they’d covered last month. It was the same car that’d almost killed her earlier. Incessant honking, clearly inebriated. Three o’clock on a Friday? Apparently they’d made the right choice. She jerks forward as he nudges her back bumper, his foot accidently ramming into the gas for a brief moment and pushing the car forward.

W

atching her pull ahead, he follows, not bothering to look up. For some reason his legs seemed a bit slow. Were the road lines really that curvy? In either case, when she stopped suddenly a quarter of the way into the intersection, he was a bit late, ramming into her from behind and pushing them both further. What an idiot she was! No wonder they’d rejected the wrong guy. He unrolls the window and sticks his head out, turning too slowly to react to the horn blaring from his left.

A

raven is perched on the newspaper stand, head cocked to the side, beady eyes staring down. The headline reads, “Four Killed in Intersection Auto Accident.” The raven smirks.

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hat the shit. He looks to the inside lane as a car zooms past, looks beyond the finger extended toward him and at the face. He’s seen it before months ago. An ice-pick stabs at his forehead as he tries to remember when she’d spoken at a Q&A session. He’d talked to her afterwards, asked about his chances, about financial aid, everything. The bar…it was a little hazy but he was sure, the letter...yes, signed by the same name as the one on the card in his wallet. Stanford’s admission rep. Spirits soaring, his head bashes into the steering wheel as the car slams to a halt. On the second 69


Works of a Dream Joshua Stuart

My curfew moves with the equinox; it’s longest during December. But you still see me fishing because my image is trademarked. I am on the screens; my fishing line falls to the world, descending through myriad clouds. The water ripples. My line streams like light from the place I call home. I am on the screens, just fishing.

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I SAIL THIS SHIP ALONE | Harris Moye | digital photography


Colophon The Talon is the biannual literary arts publication of Woodberry Forest School. This is the 64th volume of the magazine, published first in 1949. The Talon editors encourage submissions from any member of the Woodberry community. Works are selected through blind review by student boards. All opinions expressed within this magazine are the intellectual property of the authors and artists and do not represent the views of Woodberry Forest School. The design and editing of The Talon take place outside of the academic day. New editors are selected from review boards by current editors and faculty advisors. Authors and artists can apply for review board membership. This issue of The Talon was created on an Intel-based iMac using Adobe CS5. Titles are set in Goudy Old Style; body text and credits are set in Myriad Pro.  McClung Companies in Waynesboro, Virginia prints 800 perfect-bound copies that the editorial staff distributes to the community in December and May of each academic year. The Talon is a member of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. CSPA honored The Talon with a Silver Crown award in 2012.

The Talon 898 Woodberry Forest Road Woodberry Forest, Virginia 22989 www.woodberry.org/talon 72

FOLLOW | Anna Grey Hogan | pencil 8 x 12 inches


The TALON Spring 2013