The Talon Fall 2012 Woodberry Forest School Volume 64, No.1
Editors Editors-in-Chief Connor Forrest Peter Shelton
Design Editor Junior Editors
Anna Grey Hogan Sterling Street Davis Teague Eric Ways
Faculty Advisor Technical Advisor
Karen Broaddus Richard Broaddus
Staff Prose Review Board
Poetry Review Board
Justin Hash, Allen Jones, McGregor Joyner, Tim Lindsay, David Daniel, Brent Oh, Alec Campbell, Petey DuBose
Michael Bauer, Jack Gauss, Allen Jones, Gordon McAlister, Parker Nance, Tommy Fang, Kiefer McDowell, Joshua Stuart, Michael Turley, Will Harris
Photography Review Board
Art Review Board
Will Figg, Andy Han, Hank Krebs, Tim Lindsay, Kofi Som-Pimpong, Ed Stewart, Miguel Valenzuela, Hines Liles, Nam Nguyen, David Sloan
Ian Edwards, Andy Han, Ben Park, Kofi Som-Pimpong, Brent Oh, Petey DuBose
Front Cover Art SKYWALK | Andy Han | digital photography Back Cover Art SKY RAVINE | Sterling Street | digital photography Title Page Art THE HAN RIVER | John Yeo | acrylic 16 x 20 inches
Word 9 GILDED FLIGHT Peter Shelton | poetry 11 BREAKING FREE Connor Forrest | fiction 12 ACROPHOBIA IN ARIZONA Sterling Street | nonfiction 15 THESE WOODS Alex Hapgood | poetry 16 SKI SLOPE AVALANCHE Isaac Keohane | poetry 18 THE JELLY BEAN RULE Anna Grey Hogan | nonfiction 22 THREE GENERATIONS Will Lankenau | poetry 25 SIXTY TO ZERO IN ONE SUMMER Allen Jones | poetry 26 THE LOST CALL Will Figg | nonfiction 29 THE EASTERN SHORE James Hewell | poetry 30 IRENE McGregor Joyner | lyrics 32 WILDFLOWER Davis Teague | poetry
35 WAKING UP ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE BED AND SIMILAR METHODS OF MURDER Peter Shelton | microfiction 36 PARASITIC RELATIONSHIP Anna Grey Hogan | poetry 39 A FORCED CONFESSION Connor Forrest | poetry 40 A SMILE’S DECEIVING Cole Scherer | poetry 43 THE MEMOIRS OF MR. STUMP Tim Lindsay | fiction 46 GET LONELY Anna Grey Hogan | poetry 47 SHOUTING ABOUT DIVORCE Connor Forrest | poetry 49 DEVIL’S GRASP Eric Ways | poetry 50 A BRIGHT FUTURE Alexander Korsten | poetry 52 THE GAMECOCK Inyoung Lee | fiction 55 A BOY ON A ROOFTOP John Lee | poetry 57 THE PRICE OF A MEMORY Chapman Dossett | poetry
57 CONDOLENCES Jack Gauss | poetry 58 AN ORTHOPEDICS INTERNSHIP John Lee | poetry 61 FLY Anna Grey Hogan | fiction 65 THE REBEL Kiefer McDowell | poetry 66 KIDNAPPED Andy Han | poetry 69 WACHOVIA David Moore | poetry 70 RED VERSUS BLUE Michael Bauer | poetry 72 INSANITY RUNS IN THE FAMILY McGregor Joyner | nonfiction 74 DUSK Isaiah Brown | poetry 76 TOWARDS A REVOLUTION Kiefer McDowell | poetry
PANDA BEARS | John Yeo | etching on plexiglass 8 x 11 inches
Image 8 FLYING HOME Ed Bailey
27 INFINITY Andrew Garnett
10 EVENING BRILLIANCE Sue Dickson
28 CLASHING THEATER David Sloan
13 CANYON BEAM Sterling Street
33 THE WISE MAN OF SIERRA LEONE Will Figg
14 WAKING UP AFRICA Harris Moye
34 CHUM Hank Krebs
17 LOOK AT ME Vinh Hoang
37 COVER YOUR MOUTH Taylor Brower
19 RETENTION Eric Ways 20 GREEN PLANT Ben Park
38 HAYLEY’S ARTIST: ITALY Andrew Garnett 41 TWO-FACED Harris Moye
20 PLANT FROM DIRECT OBSERVATION Vinh Hoang
42 TOUCHED BY NATURE Ian Edwards
21 LIFE Tawfiq Abdul-Karim
46 ABANDONED FAITH Edward Stewart
21 A PLANT BEING WATERED Chris Song
48 CONTEMPLATION Ian Edwards
23 DOWD FINCH IN FALL Vinh Hoang 24 TALKING SHOES Eric Ways
51 COBQUECURA Hines Liles 54 CAMARADERIE Thomas Taylor
56 WAVES Hank Krebs
69 TWILIGHT LIFE Nam Nguyen
59 FLOATING DREAMS Miguel Valenzuela
71 PRIDE Steve Nugent
60 CORRUPTION Connor Forrest
73 AFRICAN BEATLES Will Figg
64 SHADES Ben Park
75 I’M GETTING TOO OLD FOR THIS McGregor Joyner
67 PICASSO Ben Park
PERCHED | Harris Moye | digital photography
FLYING HOME | Ed Bailey | digital photography
Gilded Flight Poetry by Peter Shelton
I sing of the bird, fluttâ€™ring upon wing of air, trembling page to page over swamps of ink and above metered rhythms, perched on spreads of gloss.
10 EVENING BRILLIANCE | Sue Dickson | digital photography
Breaking Free Fiction by Connor Forrest
y feet toe over the edge, wrapped around, barely holding on as I sway back and forth to the wind’s beat. For a few precious seconds I’m still. Calm. At peace. Breathing to the slow, methodical beat. And then slowly, suddenly, falling. Blips below still a blur, undistinguishable as I plummet and streak past floor after floor and the elderly window washer. Fearsome wind tears past, slicing furiously by as ground rushes forward, that small space between buildings grows larger and larger till totally consuming my senses, blocking out all else. Eyes close as I let out a rebel yell, drowning out the horns and voices before rigid lips curl into a smirk. Wings snap open like a well-trained fan, unfurling the grandest of sails. Dark plumage swallows the light as I tilt them slightly, feeling the strain deep inside as the earth fights to claim another. With a final heave and flap I’m free, speeding beyond those poor creatures below. Gently I drift, letting the wind carry as it may. Weightless and pure; a perfect and seamless union with air around as I sail through. With a softer caw I’m up and away, talons tucked, spiraling forever higher. Not today Death. Not today.
Acrophobia in Arizona Nonfiction by Sterling Street
eat. It hit me as soon as the doors opened. I wondered why they called it Phoenix if it was still in the process of burning, not having yet descended into its own ashes. An orange sun burned over the dusty skyline, and as I wearily clambered up the steps of the airport shuttle bus I could only wonder how the driver could possibly stand working his job; a wan grin waxed over his sallow lips as though concealing a dark motive, enjoying this pain so foreign to outsiders. He was an eager Charon hell-bent on dragging us tourists farther into the fiery depths of the underworld. As I gazed through the window, needly green agaves and fiercely looming saguaros raced by, and I could already feel my eyes drying up. Maybe because the air had such a low humidity level. Maybe because I knew there would be no point in crying to return to a place cooler than two hundred degrees. Crystalline blue enveloped my aching body. Paradise. I held my breath for as long as I could, letting myself descend into the chlorinated abyss. Two long rows of spindly palms stretched down either side of the hotel pool, imparting a West Coast beachy feeling, but I knew it was simply one of the desert’s myriad mirages; the stone flowerpots of rosy hibiscus beside me could very well be hiding coiled rattlesnakes. I climbed out of the water, ambling past girls sunbathing in bikinis, and made my way to the air conditioned lobby for free pizza. A tap on the shoulder. “You go to Woodberry?” “Yeah, you’ve heard of it?” “I graduated in 2006.” The former cheerleader had read the back of my shirt: Rapidan River – Woodberry Forest, VA. We chatted about the things practically synonymous with Woodberry: the
12 CANYON BEAM | Sterling Street | digital photography >
Bonfire, demerits, pep rallies, Reimers’ usual antics. His girlfriend pulled him away, and I marveled over the chances of the coincidental meeting. Over the next few days our Conestoga car wheeled us westward from Phoenix to Scottsdale to Flagstaff, and I eventually boarded the train at Williams. The humdrum rumbling of the clacking iron tracks lulled me to sleep, and I awoke to shadowy pine forests and grazing elk, the unbelievable transition in landscape forcing me for a split second to consider that perhaps I was still dreaming. We were finally here. Minutes later I quivered on the canyon’s overhang. Don’t look down. I looked down. With a death grip I clung for dear life to the railing, trying to fathom the infinite depth and failing. Fear of heights. “Let’s go on Bright Angel Trail!” happily exclaimed my sister. “Absolutely not. I don’t want to see any angels yet, thank you very much. I actually enjoy living” should have been my response, but fear had muted me and foolishly I followed. “I read about this trail in one of those books,” my mom nonchalantly stated. Which book, Deaths in the Grand Canyon? I cringed as I thought of the incredibly thick book I had seen so casually lining all of the gift shop shelves. Inching down the narrow trail about as speedily as a convict toward the gallows, I imagined the sheer terror I’d soon experience as a simple and innocent misstep brought me plummeting four thousand feet to my death. Though my steps were now carrying me downward along the steep and narrow trail, I ascended to the peak of my stay in Arizona.
14 WAKING UP AFRICA | Harris Moye | digital photography
These Woods Poetry by Alex Hapgood Thanksgiving break quickly blurring by, one evening I take the dog outside into the cold. Despite the chill, we trudge on and take a walk to these woods. Apart from the jangle of my dogâ€™s collar, the woods are in a deep slumber. The symphony is silenced by the cold. I walk with my head down and my hands in my pockets when something catches my eye. The golden sunlight has deepened from pure gold to deep, ruddy orange, almost red. I look up as it begins its descent. In what seems to be a last desperate attempt to stay in the sky, the sliver of sun throws out grasping fingers. The few thin clouds catch these rays and split, melt, and mix the colors. From dark orange to light cream, this chromatic soup is framed by the ancient stately timbers. The filigree fingers shimmer as the rust colored crescent slips below the mountain studded horizon. Slowly, peacefully, the sky fades to black. Even my dog is motionless. As the world turns greyscale, he stirs, and his collar brings me back. These woods have burned into my consciousness; the red-hot sunset brands my memory. From that point forth, I know where to go if I want to lose my breath.
Ski Slope Avalanche Poetry by Isaac Keohane A child topples, a girl laughs, and crisp air burns my throat. An untrained skier scrapes the scarred face as we soar above the white expanse. Motors purr and cables whir as weâ€™re lifted up. Her tiny hand fits into mine like a Christmas gift in a box. She doesnâ€™t try to hide her birthmark, a brown skier on the white slope of her neck. Sweat beads on my shaky palms. Too soon? Watermelon lip gloss and a shy, pleased smile melt the mountain of worry: my mind in a blissful coma. Sudden giggles tear into my back; her face tenses, a doe startled and ready to flee. Her friends have seen us, witnesses from the following chair. Yet as my being avalanches on top of itself, she leans in and kisses me again.
16 LOOK AT ME | Vinh Hoang | charcoal 18 x 24 inches >
The Jelly Bean Rule Nonfiction by Anna Grey Hogan
iding on the bus, coming back from the varsity soccer game, I sat alone. As usual. But after a while, when enough people were asleep and couldn’t see it happen, a good soul crept up and sat in the empty seat next to me. He offered an earbud. I took it, gratefully, and in turn, offered this poor boy some of the Jelly Bellys I had brought along. He accepted them, gratefully. As we drove through the darkness, the strange and lovely voices of R.E.M., James Taylor, and 4 Non Blondes echoing in our ears and in our minds, I noticed him watching me eat my jelly beans. “Why are you watching me?” I asked, slightly unsettled. “Close your eyes,” he said with a shrug, laughing a little. “Let it be a surprise.” I did. And in that single jelly bean I tasted more than sugar and a not-quite-strawberry flavor. I tasted a metaphor. It was sweeter and stranger than anything I have ever tasted before. And I realized in that moment that this was an unfair trade. In exchange for a few artificially flavored, selfproclaimed “gourmet jelly beans,” he had given me his friendship, which here at Woodberry doesn’t come all that often. He had given me his music, which I regard to
be the most personal and direct expression of the soul in this universe. And, unintentionally as it may have been, he had given me a new life philosophy. “Close your eyes; let it be a surprise.“ It even rhymed. How perfect. Don’t plan ahead, he was saying. Don’t try to control every little thing. Don’t worry about what is to come. Don’t you dare look at what color that jelly bean is. Let life wash over you like a tidal wave. All at once. No fear. No backup plan. No sense of entitlement. No brick walls built up around you. You can waste away your life worrying about tomorrow and next week and next year. I know; I do it all the time. Will I get into college? Will anyone like me? Will I get the part? Am I royally screwing up my life? Step back, breathe in, close your eyes, breathe out, and just let it be a surprise. Because in life, you can’t weed out a flavor. It’s gonna be bad sometimes, but worrying does nothing. Whatever it is, you’ll figure it out as it happens. And eventually, your favorite flavor will come up. Getting a lead role. Scoring something above a C on a math test. Late night talks with mom. An earbud. Jelly beans. So, when you eat your jelly beans, your Skittles, your Starbursts, face the world straight on. Walk through life with palms up.
RETENTION | Eric Ways | digital photography
< GREEN PLANT Ben Park chalk pastel 18 x 24 inches
PLANT FROM DIRECT OBSERVATION > Vinh Hoang chalk pastel 18 x 24 inches
LIFE > Tawfiq Abdul-Karim chalk pastel 18 x 24 inches
< A PLANT BEING WATERED Chris Song chalk pastel 18 x 24 inches
Three Generations Poetry by Will Lankenau A 1987 Land Cruiser. Old, archaic even. The mother of the family, sheâ€™d run a good course from North Carolina to Utah. Engine dying, transmission stripped, but fierce back in her youth. Now she wilted. Bluish white, a ski pole for a shifter. Climbing a short hill, running in the heat, shuddered and died. A 1992 Ford F150. The man of the family hauled mulch, rocks, and the occasional deer. A beast, but couldnâ€™t bear the work. His seats were shredded, his fuses blown. Never left home. No right mirror, no tail gate. The gauges all unchanging. His muscle and his voice box, the radio and the engine still worked. Died last year.
A 2012 BMW M3 coupe. The youngster, still running like a champion. Black, sleek like a stealth bomber at night. Fast off the line and fast to a halt, she burns rubber, embarrassing challengers. The roads all over Charlottesville are hers. Behind the wheel are shifters of steel. A spaceship leaving the ground.
DOWD FINCH IN FALL | Vinh Hoang | charcoal 18 x 24 inches
24 TALKING SHOES | Eric Ways | digital photography
Sixty to Zero in One Summer Poetry by Allen Jones
We were kings. As cooties faded away, our power over elementary school grew like the numbers in math class after each grade. We had gotten too comfortable standing at the front of lunch lines. Then a dodgeball hit us in the face, knocked us off the hill we were on. Now we were the ones being stared at with unfriendly faces and questioning eyes. Sixth graders. The title sent us back to the bottom.
The Lost Call Nonfiction by Will Figg
he mist flows over the fringe of the Penny Royal Rock Quarry like a stream washing over pebbles. The dull tone of the sky could be my last view above the surface before the water engulfs me. The instructors emphasize the safety precautions of deep diving in low temperature water. I try to act professional as I squeeze my bulky body into the wetsuit and strap on the fifty pounds of gear. I walk to the edge of the bank and perform a “leap of faith,” immediately feeling the cool water through the thick neoprene. The other members of my course and I assemble on a platform twenty feet below. I sit on the edge and gaze off into the deep, blue water beneath the staging area. A hundred feet separate us from the bottom of the quarry. We give each other the signal and take off to our depth
26 INFINITY | Andrew Garnett | digital photography >
limit of seventy feet. Below that point the water drops to the third thermal layer at 40° Fahrenheit. The blue abyss draws me deeper. I come across an old telephone booth upright in the water. The yellow color of the receiver stands out against the grey tint of the boulders around it. I pause, floating on a cloud captured in an old film. The mix of blacks and whites propels my mind further into the moment as time begins to fade. I stretch out my gloved hand and pick up the receiver, dialing my home number. In one surreal moment, I hear my mother’s voice on the other end. There are no worries or concerns, just the water, the gear, and deep meditation. Gripping the receiver, life stops for one peaceful instant.
The Eastern Shore Poetry by James Hewell Bare feet stand on short green grass. Leaves sway gently like a flag and border the object of my desire: the Chesapeake Bay. The grass tickles the soles of my feet, and soon I sit on an old wooden dock. My feet hang in the tides of the Bay, and the cool washes and renews the achy muscles. White sea gulls, like kites dancing in the breeze, glide above small boats in the distance. Children scurry onto the neighborsâ€™ dock to check their crabbing crate just as toddlers open Christmas presents. Dropping into the water, I sit on a pillow of sand, the Chesapeake tides covering my chest, warm on the beaches of the Eastern shore.
< CLASHING THEATER | David Sloan | digital photography
Irene Music & Lyrics by McGregor Joyner Verse: I met her first at Ocracoke, and I lost myself to the words she spoke. She told me where she’d been, and I told her where I’d go. That night she blew me away. I see she’s about to cry— such beautiful, dark grey eyes. I hold her hand and I march her in and we dance the night away. She said, “I’m headed up the coast,” before she left me standin’ there like a ghost. I figured New York City— it’s such a cryin’ pity! I waited all night long. I heard she got what she did want up there in Burlington, Vermont. I hope he treats her right— right up to that cold, dark night when she leaves him standin’ in the rain. Chorus: You know what I mean— I’m talkin’ ‘bout Irene. How she spins right in and out again, and on her crazy trail she takes the hearts of men. She’s spinnin’ in and out again. 30
Wildflower Poetry by Davis Teague Destitution in its purest form. Sullen faces peep around debris. Rain-washed muddy paths shine pristinely in front of homes constructed of raw industrial materials. Palpable depression radiates through the air. Poverty is an understatement. A small girl stands upon her doorstep. She gazes on our pale skin, curiously observing foreign ears polluted with metal. Distressed from hunger, health, and heartache, her face too young to reflect such hardships. Her spirit is embodied in her pure white dress; dirt stains creep from its hem, threatening to consume their ivory host. In the face of poverty, can her innocent beauty flourish? Nicaraguan rain echoes unspoken words, There is no escape.
THE WISE MAN OF SIERRA LEONE | Will Figg | digital photography
34 CHUM | Hank Krebs | digital photography
Waking Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed and Similar Methods of Murder Microfiction by Peter Shelton
little of the black juice stained her fingers on its way into the mug. Coffee grounds surreptitiously disguised the acerbic essence from the small vial as she replaced the cap on the thermos and placed it by his plate. She scrubbed the dye disgracing otherwise pristine hands, turned off the tap, and glimpsed her car from the window above the sink. Everything had been quickly transferred to the trunk while he had been shaving. She would have just enough time before the neighbors noticed.
Parasitic Relationship Poetry by Anna Grey Hogan When we two met, all was light. At once you set my heart aglow. You hurt me as I thought you might. In your strong arms, all was right; a better love, I’ll never know. When we two met, all was light. In shining armor, my white knight. Day by day, our love would grow. You hurt me as I thought you might. The world sang songs; ne’er was night. You promised me you’d never go. When we two met, all was light. Paradise fell; you wanted fights. With spiteful words you struck a blow. You hurt me as I thought, with might! Paradise to Parasite, feeding off my fragile woe. When we two met, all was light. You hurt me as I thought, you mite!
COVER YOUR MOUTH | Taylor Brower | mixed media 16 x 12 inches
38 HAYLEYâ€™S ARTIST: ITALY | Andrew Garnett | digital photography
A Forced Confession Poetry by Connor Forrest I woke up this morning black, blue, and sore all over from yesterday’s beating.
But don’t worry. They’ll be fine; they always are.
It was a long, drawn out, pleasurable affair.
It’s given its life, poured out its guts, willingly or not, onto the blue-lined altar where deep-seated stains won’t wash away.
That sacrificial thing didn’t go down easy. I slashed and stabbed, again and again, and with every stroke it bled the more ‘til finally it was dry. But I had to do it. They told me to, not out loud of course, but inside. I heard the voices. I always do. My hands, painted with another’s life, tremor a little. A quaver, here and there.
They’ve dried in runes, and they’re there to stay. Afterwards I thank the voices, the whispers in my head, for their frenzied suggestion and gentle command. For guiding my practiced hand, as I did the dirty, wonderful deed. Because without their words, this body wouldn’t be. And then I thank the pen that died this way, so a hidden poem about writing could see the day.
A Smile’s Deceiving Poetry by Cole Scherer A silent room screeches at me; the noose round my neck tied tight. Suddenly I see her bright smile, our heart a promising sight. Love fading slowly, dripping, staining, so vibrant yet colorless in paint. Memories churning, taunting and turning. You laugh but the laughter’s faint. Catch her before she falls. Wind flies by as I realize I’m falling. Soothe her calls of quiet despair, but realize I’m the one calling. A silent room screeches with sound, the sickening sound of love leaving. Holding air and nothing more. Sadly, a smile’s deceiving.
TWO-FACED | Harris Moye | digital photography
42 TOUCHED BY NATURE | Ian Edwards | pencil 11 x 9 inches
The Memoirs of Mr. Stump Fiction by Tim Lindsay
bleached auburn station wagon rocked my shoulders back and forth while a chorus of men whined through the speakers. Their notes jabbed at my ears. I’ve got a disease and there ain’t no cure! So get me a gun and let’s hear her purr! I’ll shoot you and your mama clean of sin! And we’ll end the day with some good ol’ gin. Ya dee diddy de do dumm. Too charming, huh? You’d think I’d know the rest, but regretfully, I misplaced it in the endless expanse of snow. I heard that melody a lot, and I tried so hard to forget it altogether, to block it as it seeped under my hairs and stunned me awake at night like the kiss of a cold defibrillator. But here it was swaying the old lady’s head. With a Jansport backpack burrowed in my arms, I envisioned books, friends, that one summer at the beach when the water would crawl up and hug my toes, but the lyrics still licked my ears. I stared out the window and pinned my eyes shut to consider the snow as it kissed the windshield. Thinking so hard. The old lady, a fat nurse, pressed against the gas. We dashed into the woods, and a yellow mansion, St. Mark’s, loomed closer. Very rotten bananaesque. You might ask how I got here. But for now, let me introduce myself. It’s hard to come by courtesy in our brutish society. George Samuels; it’s a pleasure. Back in the land of ago, four or five years the prior, I was normal. Kids actually invited me to their houses to play, to talk, to eat mushy cake off a plastic giraffe’s face. In the fifth grade, my first year of real schooling, teachers commended my ability to unfailingly divide three pears by two oranges. Allegedly, I could skip a grade, even enroll at a private high school on scholarship if
I placed genuine time into homework. Ha! The whole party seemed too pretentious, lots of hype but terrible execution. Anyways, when my Mom and Tom threw in the towel, some men in coal-shaded glasses ordered me to step out of the classroom. I wasn’t about to contend with them at nine in the morning, so here I am recalling that day as if it were a night ago. Pebbles popcorned into our side as the old lady maneuvered around a hedge of bushy figurines. Eventually, the car peeled off the road and stumbled to a panting halt. When she finally parked, my head jerked forward into the driver’s seat. Wake up call. First, I saw the building; it was old, really old, the kind of old you see with an ancient colonial mansion in horror movies. Jaded paint hung by stringy threads and the windows were hardly transparent through a filthy seal. I half expected to see some blood-stained nutcase hurtle out with a butcher’s knife. At once, my seat caved in just as a bed grows warm when an alarm rings. If I stepped out, I imagined that the endless pelt of snow would collapse under my boots, the powder gently touching down would swell in protest, and the crystal leaves would break like a fragile vase. The old lady smacked her juicy sausage fingers against the glass. “Open the door! I got a schedule!” Woman had a schedule. A man in a bright, white gown urged me through the door. He lightly tapped my back. It’s gone be alright, sonny! You’ll be alright an’ dandy here! We got lots o’ stuff to do like coloring on some paper an’ some stuff like that. You’d like that, I bet, wouldn’t you? I guess 43
this is the treatment for people who don’t talk, for people who haven’t uttered just a single a syllable in five years. Unless you read the Alexandria Gazette, you probably didn’t know this. Sorry. After a while, you sort of assume people automatically associate you with a circus mime. Because of the incident, the paper called me “Once in a Century” and “The Super Kid.” They’re just names; I’m still George. Nonetheless, we stepped inside and immediately I wanted out. The floorboards moaned under us as if in one second, one tiny instant. Crack! The oak would splinter around my ankles, and I’d plummet into the basement. An orchestra fashioned a soft harmony in the corner. It resembled those songs played at the dentist’s office, a sedative lullaby. I’m actually more of a classic rock guy. So we sat down, the old lady and me. We waited on a pair of firm hospital seats for twelve and half minutes. Nothing to look at but a creamy blue wall and the old lady’s gum as it stretched between her teeth and compressed over and over between thin smacking lips. I remember how the bags pulled on my arms as I trudged up the staircase. At the orphanage, the nurse across the hall, just over five feet but a mammoth among many other regards, habitually took his paddle and slowly dragged it across the wall like fingernails peeling against a flat chalkboard. Once, he sauntered across to my room. When first asked my name, I didn’t release a peep. So he raised his blade into the air and roared, “One more time! What’s your name?” Of course, I didn’t reply. I’m the world champion of settling in dark corners like a dead stump. Disappointed over the lack of courtesy in society, he did reply. So that was what they did to make me talk. And that’s why I didn’t eat; it’s not because I’m a dejected orphan without an appetite or a dissident against society, a halfa-brain who can’t lift his fork without piercing his eye. Actually, it’s because whatever numbnut businessman who owned the joint had other, larger, much more prominent charity organizations. Nobody gave one for that run-down hole in the wall. I certainly wouldn’t. The moment the bedroom door swung open, I hated everyone who contributed to my arrival. An odor of 44
expired paint slapped me in the cheeks. Crisp shells of stinkbugs shattered under my feet. There might have been one, maybe two places in North America that were truly worse, the orphanage and a New York sewer. The old lady shoved me in, muttered something, and rolled away her on portly gut. We were such good friends; it’s a shame that lovely soul was forced to leave. I stood in that spot for a few minutes. A mattress in the corner hosted such a vibrant community of insects that my bed would have to be relocated to the hardwood planks. I guess the barred windows, the makeshift bed, and the wallpaper of cowboys lassoing brown cows all gave the room a sort of charisma. They say opposites attract; this room and I, Mr. Stump, were about to form an inseparable bond. It’s only science, my doubtful friend. Oh, how my luck made me feel so guilty. Sometimes, I think Mars was like that. In my flat, I couldn’t hear anything. There wasn’t a constant buzz spewing from a radiator; all the heat ascended from downstairs and collected into a hot mush. My windows tightly sealed themselves to the panel so that all nature’s serenades—the whoosh of a breeze, the leaves which bristled in the wind, the creek that babbled all sort of nonsense—turned mute. Furthermore, I couldn’t sing to myself and recite Shakespeare for reasons obvious. All I had was my quiet exhale, the soft growl of the common toilet, and the occasional, “Time for some suppa!” Don’t ever go to Mars; it’s a treacherous frontier. You’d probably guess that this is a symbol of the past five years, having the ultimate speech impediment and all, but this extreme loneliness could drive any somebody into sheer insanity. But if there were one guy who might like this room… It was an easier transition than I thought. When bored at the orphanage, I had played with friends I didn’t have. At St. Mark’s, I played with friends I didn’t have. Nothing to aspire to, I spent most of the day writing. It was like my own, real conversation. You and I are two college buddies meeting at Starbucks for the first time in five years. And most importantly, you’re listening as if I’m not society’s youngest serial killer. On occasion, I had to walk around though, let the blood
flow back into my right leg. I could run laps. I strived for twenty but they’re longer every day. The problem probably was I didn’t have proper Nikes for this type of surface. Downright beat, I’d inspect the window and watch new patients struggle on their own two feet. A few days later I’d watch them leave. Without my duties as sentry, I don’t know where we’d be. There were names for them all, but as more and more came and went, I’d have to start writing them down. I think there were two Johns and maybe even three Michaels. Recently though, I became so exhausted that I just sat observing the snow melt against my window or watching the water run along the stream. I took to my imagination. Sometimes the King of England would stop by for a silent cup of tea. Even football players such as Joe Montana grew impressed as the season lengthened. I’d say, “My shadow’s making the plays, not me, big Joe!” I’m being silly; I was the playmaker. The nurses would come in, and I’d stop everything to avoid the awkwardness, to avoid them thinking I’m like the others that come and go. Then again, isn’t being a human stump weird enough? So I let them watch me, my audience, a fan base almost, their juvenile pens dancing against their clipboards like avid reporters. Well, on a Tuesday the doc took me downstairs. His hand trembled against my shoulder as he rubbed back and forth. He didn’t look me in the eye when he asked about my parents. If you can’t manage that sort of basic decency, then you certainly shouldn’t expect a spoken response. Well, he snaked his head around and whispered something to the nurse. Their lips retreated into their mouths and their heads swayed from side to side. Suddenly the metal seat felt icy against my hands, but I gripped it harder. I knew what they were doing. I wanted to cry, to cough, to somehow make them
understand, but nothing came. I’m not crazy; I was bored! Nobody heard me; I don’t even think I did. The needle pierced into my vein. I’m out here by the river now. After they shook my hand, I left. The water flowed like thick blood. I remember that day when my mom and I sat in the TV room as we watched the Sunday cartoons. Bugs Bunny laughed as he bashed Elmer Fudd’s head. We both laughed. I’m laughing right now. God, I feel so out of it. Anyhow, a brown pickup truck pulled into our driveway. Tom. He was drunk. He struggled out of the car, tripped a few times on the way to the door, then broke through the screen as if it were a measly spider web. My mom ran to him. “Stop it, Tom; you’re drunk!” But he threw his hand against her soft cheeks like cold beef. That’s what the wind felt like right now. I could feel it hitting me, then the same cold flowed through my veins. She tumbled to the ground, her body like spilled milk as I jumped over it. I could feel a warm spot diffuse through my pants and into my socks, but I didn’t care as long as Tom couldn’t find me. A tree in the corner. Sometime though he did find me, and his lips curved to his ears. Then, I remember the pain in my leg as I sat in the snow. Shards of glass scattered around my head. “If I’m going down I want you to come with me buddy! All the way son, together!” His body twisted next to me. I remember the men in blue charging up to me. I remember.
Get Lonely Poetry by Anna Grey Hogan Deep in her chest â€˜neath sweater and breast her heart skipped a beat and unbearable heat battered her frame; it wasnâ€™t the same. And she missed him terribly. She wiped dry her face with a soft square of lace. His initials in the corner dried the eyes of his mourner while the crowd downstairs remained unawares of how beautiful she could be. Her perfect white room she fancied a tomb. Blank faces in black heard a sharp crack, but they let some time pass before realizing, alas, the lovers were together eternally.
46 ABANDONED FAITH | Edward Stewart | digital photography
Shouting about Divorce Poetry by Connor Forrest I remember holy days, lazing content amongst golden fields as crisp pages rustled by with softest touch and regal trees crowned with shade whispered a tender hello to the fleeting wind. A pretty face and delicate shoulder, carefully bared before the rest. The soft clatter of nimble chatter dancing between like a playful fairy. The gentle sparkle of a laugh like birdsong flitting from the heavens. The slow dip and sensual embrace of those last fading rays, caressing like a loverâ€™s touch before gracefully bowing down to peaceful serendipity. And a lingering trace Of her spearmint taste.
A playful bluster, struggling in contest with two loud voices. Fighting free of the car, singing to nowhere as a carefree grin and twinkling gray eyes lit up the world. As a too low pedal, pressed for no reason, rocketed an orangey arrow clockwise round. And the wheel spun without care or plan, responsible to no one as a wild thing accelerated down a winding road, basking in the golden glow of love. Of life. I remember the happy days, those beautiful olden days, when too loud tones pierce through paper walls, the single edged pen, held menacingly in one hand, a manila folder in the other.
Devil’s Grasp Poetry by Eric Ways Lights off, head down, the woman buries herself. Soulful sobs echo in her silent bedroom; her heart’s sick. Then she exhales on her intangible debt; it swallows her fears, giving nothing back but frigid insecurity. The stress flees, exchanged with wrath as she throws piles of paper around her room, screaming and howling at God’s empty promises. She slides down the wall. The serpent sheds his skin of depravity. Papers circle down, landing softly around her. She bows down before darkness, sinking slowly to sinning fire and black relief.
< CONTEMPLATION | Ian Edwards | charcoal 12 x 10 inches
A Bright Future Poetry by Alexander Korsten A sanguine drop made its way to the floor along with all the others. An old radio blared music from the big band era. The scent of potpourri long past its due clung to the stuffy air; wine, fabric softener, and the unmistakable smell of the elderly. On the desk rests pictures spanning decades; a little girl in a one piece bathing suit on an empty beach, a newlywed woman with a stylish bouffant, and children who rarely visit. Amongst the bitter friendly nostalgia lies a black card. An invitation, tear-stained and worn, to the funeral of the only man she ever loved. The inept walk of an aged gymnast, the shattered glass tabletop on which she fell, a puddle of spilt wine that gathered beneath her.
50 COBQUECURA | Hines Liles | digital photography >
The Gamecock Fiction by Inyoung Lee
he brass claws sink into the left wing of the black and brown gamecock. Already bloody with gashes and scratches, it squeals and struggles to free itself from the grasp of the much bigger white cock, the Emperor. We cheer and shout, “Kill! Kill! Kill!” I glance over to the group of josenjings looking at their chicken getting battered. A little girl bursts into tears. The Emperor presses down on its victim while the trapped bird flutters its wings in a failed attempt to get back up. Normally, Mutsuhiro would stop the fight at this point, but today he lets our cock finish off its victim. It raises its foot, the brass claws attached to it shining, and precisely aims for the neck. The fluttering stops, and the dust settles down. That makes eight. Mutsuhiro’s father, the governor-general of colonial Korea, gave the rooster to his son as a gift when the whole family moved to Korea because of his job. All of us and our families had left Japan to come to Korea for the same reason. We were impressed when Mutsuhiro brought the rooster to school. The impeccably pure white feathers, the keen, marble black eyes, the slightly hooked beak, and the vivid red comb fascinated us. What lured us most, however, was its size and muscularity. I could have sworn that an eagle mated with a chicken to create this beauty. Everyone gathered around proud Mutsuhiro and his rooster to take a look. Earlier that day after classes, we followed Mutsuhiro, who carried his pet and two brass blades, to a Korean school neighboring ours. Why would he take us to a congregation of such dirty inferiors? I pitied them sometimes for being born in Korea, for having josenjings as parents. 52
The cock killed its first victim that afternoon. As opposed to the defeated gamecock, which was ruthlessly clawed bloody by the keen brass blades, Mutsuhiro’s rooster did not receive the slightest scratch. So we named it the Emperor. Ever since, we had watched the Emperor crush their roosters weekly. After the monster slew seven cocks straight, the josenjings claimed there were no more roosters left; Mutsuhiro beat the children instead, every week for two months until they brought a new cock. From then on, Mutsuhiro stopped the fights before the Emperor killed its opponent. Today he let the Emperor finish off his victim, and we were excited to see the first killing in a long time. Now Mutsuhiro picks up his victorious gamecock and walks away. The crowd follows him, cheering, asking why he let the chicken die. Some of the guys look back at the defeated and snicker. A boy who seems to be the owner of the dead rooster holds it with both hands and looks at it as if he just lost a quarter of his family’s entire property. The other josenjings try to console him, but he does not respond. He just stares as if he could somehow revive it. He suddenly raises his head and glares at me. I turn around and follow my friends, who are already far ahead. “Did you see the chicken going for the Emperor’s eyes? It didn’t attack anywhere else! The josenjings must have trained it to do so.” “Yes, but the training was useless. The rooster couldn’t land a single attack. They will never be able to beat the Emperor no matter how much they train their chickens. Isn’t that right, Mutsuhiro?” “Of course. It was just hilarious to see the little chicken
try so hard when it was going to die.” I do not join in the conversation but just walk quietly alongside my friends. I can’t get my mind off the boy and his dead rooster. I try to think of something else. Masako talked to me for the first time today. I hope our relationship can grow. The josenjing boy still lingers in my head. Let’s try something else. I had to clean the school restroom today because I failed to memorize the generations of the Japanese emperors. The nasty smell from the restroom is still on me. What’s the point of knowing all the past emperors? There is no way that could be useful. Not good enough; I can still see the boy glaring at me. Then I remember what my father said to me this morning before I left for school. There was a rumor that Hiroshima was annihilated by a single American bomb. Father thinks Japan will surrender soon. He told me to come back home as soon as school ends because it might be dangerous. After saying goodbye, I slip out of the group and quickly head home. The streets are packed with hundreds of josenjings waving Korean flags. They shout words I cannot comprehend. I feel nausea at the sight. How am I supposed to get through all these wild creatures? “Get out of my way!” I yell as I shove aside the josenjings, inching my way to the other side. I reach the center of the crowd but cannot go further. Stuck in the stifling atmosphere, I spit out curses. A man notices me and yells something to the people around him. He grabs me by the collar and shakes me violently. “Get off me, you dirty josenjing!” That only provokes him, and his grasp tightens even more. I’m on the verge of suffocating when the Japanese military police appear at both ends of the street. The soldiers charge at the crowd with their clubs above their heads. The man drops me, and I fight for air. The next few minutes are chaos: sounds of beating, gunfire, screaming, groaning, dust, sweat, and blood. The next thing I know is that I’m on both knees, my hands on the back of my head, lined up in rows with all the josenjings.
The soldiers make the first row get up, and they lead them around the corner. Gunshots echo from far away. Another few minutes pass, and the soldiers come back around the corner. They take the next row. Gunshots. Then the next row. Gunshots, again. I panic. “I’m not a josenjing; I’m Japanese! My father is Sergeant Nagatomo! Don’t you know him?” The man who seems to be the chief officer of the brigade approaches me. “If you are Japanese, you should be able to recite the generations of the emperors.” My mind blanks out; I stutter as I try to remember the emperors. “Take him with the next group,” the chief officer orders the soldiers. I search wildly among the josenjings for the man who almost suffocated me. He can prove that I’m Japanese. I plant my feet on the ground, begging for mercy, as two soldiers drag me away. Around the corner, I find the man not among the kneeling, but on the side of the road clubbed to death, his bloody face almost unidentifiably swollen and bruised. Sobbing, I walk with the josenjings, the soldiers behind us pointing their rifles at our backs. We approach the foot of a small mountain. A pungent odor overwhelms me. It gets stronger and stronger as I walk. Soon, I figure out where the odor comes from. The soldiers force me to kneel down in front of a deep pit. There are piles of dead bodies: the first three rows. Flies are already attracted to them. Imagining myself in the pit with the others, I vomit. Something strikes the back of my head hard. “You dirty josenjing. Why would you vomit on your own grave?” Laughter bursts out among the soldiers. Hot, slimy liquid slowly slides down the back of my neck. I am the josenjings’ gamecock. One of the soldiers presses on my back with his foot. The Emperor presses down on its victim. The soldier places the muzzle of his rifle on the back of my head. The Emperor raises the foot with the brass claws. With the gun on my head, I feel the soldier slowly pull the trigger.
54 CAMARADERIE | Thomas Taylor | digital photography
A Boy on a Rooftop Poetry by John Lee Every sunset, so bloody red, makes my body glow, disguising the redness. But some spots burn more, reminding me of the kids with cold metal sticks. I lie flat on the cold edge, peeking so far below. Thousands of spiders dance across my back. Strangled by concrete, a dandelion not yet bloomed pleads for my help.
56 WAVES | Hank Krebs | digital photography
The Price of a Memory Poetry by Chapman Dossett The angry sun sinks below the sea’s horizon as the crabs rise. Salty air stings my eyes. The shoreline footprints casually fade away unlike our last trip to Destin. Sunburn wraps my body like the cancer washes over my aunt. A temporary price to pay for the memories that last unlike the sunlight that slowly burns away.
Condolences Poetry by Jack Gauss How are you? How do you think I am? Do you need anything? I would like my father back. It will all be over soon. How soon? Time will heal your pain. How much time? I know what you’re going through. You don’t know anything.
An Orthopedics Internship Poetry by John Lee A woman collapses on a chair, her artificial knee malfunctioning, a red balloon dotted with black mold. She needs another surgery. Paler than a white rose, she confesses, “My life is not worth living. I now have breast cancer, and that means two chemotherapies.” Sudden pianissimo, a softness of heart, undetectable even by the stethoscope on the desk. Like a guilty child with stolen snacks, peeling skin off my lips, I try to find a place to stare at comfortably. X-rays of her knees are as bright as flash bombs. That plastic model makes me a castaway desperate for an exit. What can I do for her? Cheer her up? No, she is not in the mood. Broach my grandmother’s survival? I sit there, my heart mute, no different from the withering rose in front of me.
FLOATING DREAMS | Miguel Valenzuela | digital photography
60 CORRUPTION | Connor Forrest | etching on plexiglass 8 x 11 inches
Fly Fiction by Anna Grey Hogan
y sleepless eyes slide to the green numbers on the dashboard clock. 12:19. Merry Christmas. Checking my rearview, I imagine I can see all the way back home. Zack is probably, no definitely, waiting for me to meet him at the hospital. It’s not like I feel good about leaving, but it was Zack’s idea anyway. Right? Besides, I’m already more than halfway to California now. Too late to turn back. Up ahead, a green road sign glares its blazing message, Winkelman County, Population: 353. A singular thought wafts up to the surface of my consciousness. Coffee. Turning the old, sputtering Dodge Charger into the exit, I search the clock again. 12:20; he’s got time. No worries. Much to my dismay, in all of Winkelman, McDonald’s is a foreign concept, and the only 24-hour place open on Christmas morning is KC’s Family Diner. After several drives up and down the Main Street to verify, I pull the old junker up to the restaurant. Arizona just doesn’t feel like Christmas for some reason. Miles of desert and gas stations boasting air conditioning just don’t breed the snowy-night-Santa-Claus-is-coming-to-town feeling I got from East Coast Christmases. Inside is brown. Brown tiled floors, brown tables, brown chairs, brown countertops. Not even caramels, peanuts, muds, tans, espressos, mahoganies, oaks, chocolates, but just brown. But it isn’t white. It isn’t metal. And the air smells of cigar smoke and charcoal rather than antiseptics and vomit. Posters in the mudroom advertise local events: The 39th Annual Jazzaffair, Fire Wood 4 Sale, Winkelman Outreach Church’s Nativity Play: ONE NIGHT ONLY, Thrifty
School Sale! Standing in the back by a vintage jukebox, a miniature Christmas tree appears to have been decorated by a confused midget. All the ornaments and candy canes are clustered and strewn haphazardly at the bottom of the tree. Even the ceiling tiles are packaged in different red or green wrapping paper. Yellow daisies with a serif letterhead proclaiming “Laughter, Hope, and Faith are the pillars of beauty and joy” adorn the curtains. These alone are enough to make me regret my decision to stop in. A man, presumably KC, stands across the diner helping an exhausted, bitter family of three. Slowly, I open the main doors and move to one of the brown stools at the end of the counter closest to the door. The man’s voice carries across the narrow room, wrenching away the silence of the night. I decide to dislike him very much. As KC ambles over, he stops by the jukebox and selects one of those sad Christmas song covers by some really obscure artist. With a heavy Southern twang that makes me miss home, the woman’s honey-sweet voice sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Zack’s favorite. “Well, Merry, Merry Christmas to you, sir! Can I get you started with our specials? Well let’s see…” Before the waiter can continue on in his whole waiter spiel I cut in with my order. Coffee. Two creams. “Coming right up.” The man half shouts at me. “Can you believe it’s only my third day on the job? Well, third day this week!” He laughs a full-bodied laugh, jostling his fat gut up and down. Flecks of glistening spittle form in the corners of his tobacco-stained mouth. When 61
he realizes I am not laughing, he yells to the kitchen, “Phoebe! Brew me a fresh pot of joe, would ya?” Hoping to discourage the man from talking to me, I turn my stool away from the counter toward the other lonely souls in the diner. My waiter fiddles around in the cash register for a while before going back to harass the poor family. The two parents and their boy appear to be local. While the man mercilessly pesters the parents with questions, their seven- or eight-year-old son, dressed up in an angel costume, slides off of the booth and begins running from one end of the restaurant to the other. Near the end of each dash he squeezes tight his eyes, holds on to his tinsel halo, and leaps, landing with a definitive crash. “Cute, huh?” Startled, I whip my head around. Far too beautiful. Damn, she should be in movies. Her skin is not brown. Caramel, peanut, tan, espresso, perfect. Her clear, green eyes, encircled with late night shifts, do not glance away shyly. In one hand she holds a cup and saucer, coffee pot in the other. Invading my nose, the scent alone revives. “As far as I can figure, he thinks he can fly, right?” “Oh. Yeah, real cute,” I tell her, trying to sip my worries away. Shit, too hot! Fanning my mouth, I spew the coffee all over myself and the counter. She smiles apologetically and slips away through the kitchen door. I eye the two creams on the counter; I don’t need them. But it’s habit to ask. Back in Virginia, the coffee shop only gives two creams per cup. Zack doesn’t like coffee, but the stress of senior year drove him to the caffeine. Every day before school and again at lunch, we’d stop by, and I’d give him the creams from my coffee to mask the bitter taste. I bet he gets all the cream he wants now, if he’s still drinking, that is. They say coffee gives you cancer. I should’ve never taken him to that place. It’s my fault. He wanted me to go. That’s what we always talked about at the coffee place, wasn’t it? The Future. Moving out to California, getting an internship, getting a job. He made it all seem so simple. I guess we were pretty stupid to think it would work out so easily. Things always get 62
in the way, but he should be happy. He doesn’t need his stupid buddy hanging around right now. He should be with his family. It’s my fault. I should’ve never left. Fuck. The waitress, Phoebe, comes back with a dish towel to wipe down the counter. After I try making several apologies, she stops me, and we talk a while about the little boy in the angel costume still doing sprints up and down the aisle. His curly yellow mop bounces rhythmically as he runs. Each agitated tread in his lightup Spiderman sneakers crashes against the floor with a loud thump like a heartbeat. “Where would you fly, if you could?” She leans over the counter and smiles. “I’m headed to California right now.” “Really? What’s in California?” “Well, um, new opportunities, I guess. A change of pace.“ I’m not even man enough to tell her that I’m running away. By now the boy’s mother has noticed us watching her son. I can see the apology forming in her mouth as well as the walloping forming in her hand. “Gabe!” she yells at her son, who does not stop running. Without thinking, I stand up and walk directly into his path. He stops dead in front of me. His flushed cheeks puff in and out with each heavy breath. “Hey.” “Hey.” “I, um…” My hand reaches up to rub my neck like Zack and I do when we’re nervous. Don’t think about it. Like it was the night we shaved his head. Don’t. “I, um…I like your wings.“ I see the confusion and fear melt away from Gabe’s impish face. “Thanks. We did a play at church tonight. Did you know when Jesus was about to be born an angel was there? A real angel with real angel wings came and he told Mary…” He forgets his struggles as he recounts the tale of the nativity to me with puerile joy. “So, where would you fly, if you could?” Phoebe pipes in, still leaning on the counter. The little boy looks at us with solemn blue eyes. “Can you keep a secret?” Phoebe and I nod yes. Gabe clambers up a stool and we all lean in close. “I’d fly away
from Mommy. She yells.” “But don’t you think you’d miss her?” Phoebe shares a knowing glance with me. “Well, I wouldn’t go away forever and ever and ever. Just until I miss her. Or until I get to a crosswalk, ‘cause I’m not allowed to cross the street without her. I think the rules is the same with flying.” “Yeah, probably,” Phoebe agrees and beams at me. With that, Gabe hops down from his stool, and I turn to my empty coffee mug to pay my tab. Phoebe wanders over toward the jukebox to select another sad Christmas song. I turn to Gabe with his golden angel wings. With quick and silent permission from his parents, I scoop him up in my arms and spread his arms wide. We fly all around the restaurant, screaming and whooping until I can’t tell if we’re laughing or crying. When I put Gabe down, his mother and father look at me approvingly and wish me a Merry Christmas. The lemon-haired boy smiles wide and says thank you. With some coaxing from his mother, he wraps his small arms around my waist and hugs me. I’m about to pay my tab when I feel a tug at my jeans. Standing at my feet, Gabe smiles. “Hey, wanna hear my line?” “What?” “From the play. The church play?”
“Oh, sure, yeah.” Suddenly his eyes grow wide and serious, and he says in a powerful, yet soft voice: “Do not be afraid.” On the counter, I leave Phoebe a twenty toward her own flying away. I don’t get far without her. Just as I reach the Charger, she charges out of the place, waving something in her hand. Breathlessly she calls, “Don’t forget your candy cane!” and hands me one from the strangely decorated tree. “Thanks, and thanks for the coffee.” “Sure. Merry Christmas, come back sometime! If you’re not too busy out on the beach.” “I’d love to, but I’m actually heading to Virginia.” “What happened to Mr. Big Shot California?” Damn those green eyes. She really should be in movies. I laugh. “I don’t know. But I just got some pretty good advice that I need to follow up on. “ Nodding her head, Phoebe turns back to the diner and walks in. I waste no time fumbling around in the car. Do not be afraid. My eyes slide to the little green numbers on the dashboard clock. 12:47. As I leave the small brown town, the desert, empty as Winkelman County, stretches out ahead of me once again. Without looking back, I pull back onto the highway. East.
The Rebel Poetry by Kiefer McDowell Tonight again I change. Donning the mask of sophistication, I stroll the filthy streets, now clothed in conformity. I gaze with different eyes on faces that flatter my ego. Is this the multitude that scornfully mocked me with their stares when my clothes rebuked their standards? Tonight we are one, I and the nameless mass. Tomorrow, Iâ€™ll rebel again.
< SHADES | Ben Park | acrylic 15 x 20 inches
Kidnapped Poetry by Andy Han I thought I was hallucinating when I saw them hurrying into the bar with faces full of yearning and desire. My steps followed into that grave-like place full of grime and crime. I had to save them. Smog blew cold upon my heart. My friends vanished. After all, I was hallucinating until they materialized out of the smoke, taken by a devil with tubes. Each drag added an invisible chain. They were drifting farther and farther away. Yelling and arguing broke out, fiercer than a gunfight.
I cried they were underage; they howled back with rage. The devil was on their side, delivering fierce ammo of evil smoke. How wicked could he possibly be? Nothing was the same after that night. The devil won and took their souls, leaving only the flesh behind, Kidnapped.
PICASSO | Ben Park | etching on plexiglass 8 x 11 inches
Wachovia Poetry by David Moore
He is the first thing my eyes catch, like the headlights of a driver’s car yanking a street sign out of the dark. He greets me at the entrance; a familiar gatekeeper, Grandfather answering his door with a kind hello. We have grown apart in recent years with me being away and all. Even though he’s fallen on tough times, he stands just as solid as before. He is always there when I return from places he can only try to picture behind shimmering panes of glass. He doesn’t want to keep me away, so he silently lets me pass. I catch a glimpse of his rounded head, gray complexion, and rail-like body before I keep on driving, leaving him a fixture along the Winston skyline until the time arrives when I pass through again.
TWILIGHT LIFE | Nam Nguyen | digital photography
Red Versus Blue Poetry by Michael Bauer The pavement dips and climbs over every hill, a steady breathing of the drowsy earth. Bucolic meadows roll by, a gentle carpet of verdant splendor. Lines of cars zip neatly down the lanes as perfect Vâ€™s of geese soar overhead. Tractors slew through waving rows of crops, and all appears in perfect concordance. Banners fly in red and white and blue with stars and stripes and names which should evoke a patriotic need to join the fight. There are no swords or guns but only choice. The land has warped to fit each personâ€™s eye. Like hissing vipers they lash out against each other and destroy their countrymen. This battlefield, Virginia.
70 PRIDE | Steve Nugent | mixed media 18 x 24 inches >
Insanity Runs in the Family Nonfiction by McGregor Joyner
y father and I push playfully at each other as though we’re fighting to be the only one in the picture. Matching him in casual dress, I’m already beginning to look like my old man. The new half of our house stands behind us, only two years old—the fruit of his many years of labor as “Virginia’s best mechanic” as I always heard him called by the customers at his shop. He wears a Ducks Unlimited Green Wing shirt and a painfully red sunburn from his last solo fishing trip. Very skinny and very tall, he’s bending his knees to reach down to my height. The bookcase behind me is full of the books he collected in college and in the Navy. The type across the front of the picture reads “Insanity runs in the family” and so do our blue eyes turned red by the camera’s flash. He’s laughing and looking at the camera to record this moment of fun stupidity, and I’m looking up at him. My mother is determined to include both of us in her snapshot. She’s brought out the camera because we are getting ready for a family trip to Mexico, and she always makes a big deal of taking pictures of the family leaving. Later that day, we’ll all join in the old Presbyterian “Traveler’s Song” and Dad will treat us to a week in Cabo where he can do all the fishing he wants and still have fun with the family. The whole point of the trip was to give us a lasting memory, which still serves now. The most significant part about this photograph, though, is that I know hardly anything about it. It’s been fading and peeling off of the camp trunk where my mother taped it up with other pictures from home nine years ago, and since then it’s been a reminder of what I no longer have: my father. What does run in the family,
anyway? I don’t think I look like him, and no one in the family knows where I got my freckles. But at least half of the clothes I wear were his; we have photos of him cradling me as a baby in the shirts I wear to class every day. People began to talk about my brother Weyland and me as we pulled ourselves together. “You know, your father made a box just like that once,” I heard over my small, nine-year-old shoulder at camp the summer after he died. “So beautifully crafted.” Glued to my work, I kept my eyes fixed and offered only, “How old was he then?” “About your age,” he said and then turned out of the craft shop to blow the bugle. The sawdust accumulating on my hand took me back to Dad’s workshop the day he taught me to use a saw. “Now let me see you do it,” he said and placed his hands firmly over mine as we cut a new beam for the tree house we were building. I shed a few tears once I was back from the memory but quickly started working again to finish the job—to make a box like Dad’s. The bugle blower ran our camp where Weyland learned to shoot, he claimed, “with the confidence of a great sharpshooter like his dad.” I soon picked up riflery, too. My tree houses at home became better and better in the years that followed; I always tried to make them as sturdy as my father’s. Soon Weyland and I began to drape our father’s big shirts over our little bodies. I wasn’t old enough to truly see who my father was when he was alive, but I caught glimpses of him through what I saw him do in his free time. Every now and then, I smile and listen tacitly to conversations at the lunch table
between cocky, inexperienced, unskilled “hunters” who just went on expensive trips over break to shoot on farms stocked with quail. The next guy sits down and talks about how well he did on his deep-sea fishing trip with a hired crew, and I think back to my father, who once shot ninety-nine out of one hundred clay pigeons because his gun jammed once and brought home rockfish for his family to eat every weekend for the entire season. He hunted and fished by himself and didn’t talk much about it.
His two sports never grew on me, but I am just as much of a farmboy and eccentric as he was; I’m sure he’d get a kick out of my active blacksmithing. My mother tells me he’d be proud of me for all that I’ve done, and we just learned from one of his old friends that he may already have been quietly considering Woodberry for his boys. It’s been strange being a young man who tries to prove himself to a father who isn’t there, but now that I know what a man my father was, I only hope that we share more than just shirts.
AFRICAN BEATLES | Will Figg | digital photography
Dusk Poetry by Isaiah Brown Solemnly watching, the milky sentinel sits, never alone in the dotted onyx sky. The noisy city loosens its grip; my mind is free to fly. In an ancient oak tree a Dryad forms, he tells of gods long forgotten. He reminisces of endured tempest storms, and the occasional man lost and downtrodden. Crickets and fireflies rule the summer night; my mind no longer astray. The roaring city shines with light. Here I am forced to stay.
I’M GETTING TOO OLD FOR THIS | McGregor Joyner | digital photography
Towards a Revolution Poetry by Kiefer McDowell Write. Don’t write what they tell you. Don’t write formulaic paragraphs, counting sentences as you go. Put your pencil down. Write for yourself. Until you write, you will never understand what it is you mean to say, or who you want to be. Write because it makes you whole. Write for the world. Write because people are hurting, because animals are dying. Change won’t come unless you write. Write because it matters. They’ll tell you it won’t make a difference, not to trouble over grownup things. They’ll tell you just to fill in the lines and leave it at that. But tell them you know the truth. Pick your pencil up and write.
Colophon The Talon is the biannual literary arts publication of Woodberry Forest School. For years we have used a talon as the emblem for our magazine because through writing our beings can fly, can soar like birds. From the bird comes both the quill that transforms abstract thoughts into concrete shouts of existence and the talon which hooks and inspires others to dare and take the same flight. 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 takes place outside of the academic day. New editors are selected from review boards by current editors and the faculty advisors. Authors and artists can apply for review board membership. This magazine was created on an Intel-based iMac using Adobe CS5. Titles are set in Adobe Garamond Pro; 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.
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The Talon | Fall 2012 Woodberry Forest School Woodberry Forest, Virginia www.woodberry.org/talon