Dear Readers, Thank you for picking up Xylem Literary Magazine. Historian Barbara Tuchman once said, “Books are humanity in print.” This is how—after months of hard work advertising the magazine, poring over submissions, and getting the book ready for print—we’ve come to think of Xylem. Our unparalleled collection of University of Michigan undergraduate student poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction, artwork, and photography is what makes Xylem unique. Because the inventive work that appears in this issue is by UM undergraduates, exclusively—and because of the year-round hard work of the Xylem staff, also made up of UM undergraduates—Xylem, in a sense, represents the humanity of the undergraduate student body here at the University of Michigan and offers an innovative, unified voice to the creativity of the Ann Arbor community. UM’s diverse undergraduate voices come to life within these pages of Xylem: the literary and visual art of this issue embody students’ shared experiences as well as their artistic and intellectual difference. The student photography, poetry, and prose in this magazine are unique to UM, and the style and tone throughout cannot be replicated by any other literary journal. As Xylem’s Editors-in-Chief this year, we are proud to share with you with the 2010-2011 issue of Xylem. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we have enjoyed producing it and making tangible the original student voice that lives within the art and language of UM undergraduates. Cheers, Michelle DeWitt & Allison Leigh Peters Editors-in-Chief Xylem Literary Magazine
Xylem Literary Magazine is a publication of the Undergraduate English Association. Sponsored by: The University of Michigan English Department The Michigan Student Assembly LSA Student Government Printed by Edward Brothers
Cover Art: â€œGlass Coral Gumball Machineâ€? by Lauren Salemme Sopher
Xylem Staff Editors-in-Chief Allison Leigh Peters Michelle DeWitt Advertising Co-Managers Julia Kowalski Kelsey Strait Communications Manager Erin Bernhard Copy Manager Dena Cohen Assistant Copy Manager Shannon Demers
Staff Julia Adams Alex Bondy Mark Buckner Lisa Chen Shannon Cody Allyson Hoffman Elizabeth Maleski Julia Wang
Finance Manager Alexandra Kruse Layout Manager Heather Bicknell Publishing Manager Chris Dye Submissions Manager Chris Chrobak Assistant Submissions Manager Cecilia Jaquith
Xylem, n. Collective term for the cells, vessels, and fibres forming the harder portion of the fibrovascular tissue; the wood, as a tissue of the plant-body. â€” Oxford English Dictionary Xylem is also the name of the Undergraduate English Associationâ€™s annually published literary journal. This is a collection of the best prose, poetry and art by University of Michigan students. Not only does the journal feature work exclusively by undergraduates, but all aspects of publicity, production and publication are student-run.
Table of Contents Poetry & Prose Madeline Conway Katherine Henrichs Sean St. Charles Josh Bayer Olivia Postelli Nazifa Islam Jonah Most Allison Epstein Heather Bicknell Seher Chowhan Sarah Prensky-Romeranz Patricia Brooke White Carolyn Racine Amanda Rutishauser Ellery Weil Matthew Hodges Max Bloom Elise Aikman
1, 21, 43 2, 58 3, 50, 62 4, 39 6, 45 7, 54 8 10 12, 38 14 16 18 19, 44 49 51 55 57 60
Art & Photography Lauren Salemme Sopher Anita Sidler Nazifa Islam Kelsey Strait Sarah Prensky-Romeranz Jeff Waraniak Katherine Klaric Seher Chowhan
22 23, 27, 31, 34 24, 30 25, 33, 36 26, 37 28 29, 32 35
Contributors Elise Aikman was born in Indianapolis and has lived in Ann Arbor since the age of six. She is currently in her third year of study as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, pursuing degrees in Political Science and Creative Writing through the Residential College. She enjoys reading and writing poetry and creative non-fiction. She has enjoyed her involvement with Students for Life at the University of Michigan since her freshman year. This poem is dedicated to her cousin. Josh Bayer is incredibly anal, but doesn’t like to think things through. He’s been writing for a while. Sometimes he writes poetry. The following selections are probably about things that have bothered him at some point in his life, but have been mutated to appear genetically sterile. He thanks you for your time. Heather Bicknell stays up late while eating white Conversation Hearts that say DON’T TELL. She has a stolen photograph and a balloon taped to her wall, likes to swim in the morning and run at night, and she is MAD 4 U. If she wasn’t a sophomore pursuing English and Creative Writing, she would probably end a third-person, autobiographical paragraph by saying DARE YA to ASK ME, CUP CAKE. Max Bloom is a junior majoring in English. Activities he enjoys include troposphere exploration, deep sea bell diving, and the cultivation of various strains of coca plant for purely medicinal purposes. You might be interested to know that he is also the man, hands down. In his four years at the University of Michigan, Sean St. Charles has taken more English Language and Literature classes than he ought to— more, in fact, than he’s able to receive credit for. As a poet, Sean is best likened to the great Morrissey—discounting, of course, the latter’s talent, conviction and notoriety. Yes, there is a light, now if only he would shut up.
Seher Chowhan is a junior in the school of Literature, Science, and the Arts. She is majoring in English and is also Pre-Medicine, and she is hoping to go into Psychiatry. In addition to being on Xylem’s staff, she is a part of the Muslim Student Association and Alpha Phi Omega-Gamma Pi on campus. She enjoys writing poetry and fiction as well as drawing and painting¬¬. She has lived in South Bend, Indiana her entire life, but swears she never wanted to go to Notre Dame. Go Blue! Madeline Conway is a senior studying Creative Writing and English. She has spent the last three years working with Ken Mikolowski in the Residential College. In 2010 she was a recipient of a Hopwood Underclassman Award in Poetry and the Jeffrey L. Weisberg Memorial Award in Poetry. She is from the Chicago area. Allison Epstein is a freshman in LSA and the Residential College. She hopes to pursue a major in creative writing and literature, regardless of how poor a move that is career-wise. She wants to thank you for reading Xylem and hopes you continue to support the literary arts (and herself) in the future. She also wishes that she were not a freshman so that she would have more to write by way of a biography. Matthew Hodges is a foxhole Christian and sexual libertarian at noon in his twenty-second year. What else? He studies English at the University of Michigan. You can find his stories in Third-eye Magazine, the Huron River Review, the RC Review, and Blood Orange. Nazifa Islam is a poet from Novi, Michigan. She has the misfortune of being born on the day that resulted in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination as well as the sinking of the Titanic. In accordance with these ominous tidings, her favorite poets are Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker and Edgar Allan Poe. Nazifa plans on applying to MFA programs in poetry within the next couple of years. Jonah Most is a junior studying American Culture and Arabic. Outside of school, he is a metalworker and frequent traveler, among other things. He is originally from Berkeley, California. Olivia Postelli is a freshman in the Residential College. Born and raised
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in St. Joseph, Michigan, Olivia loves eating Kilwin’s ice cream, spending late nights at the beach, and playing euchre. She also loves Michigan football, Glee Tuesdays, and the Hinsdale-ettes. Her hobbies include telling her roommate to “leave the gun, take the cannoli” and going out to breakfast at Sophia’s with her best friend. She is studying English, Creative Writing, and French. Sarah Prensky-Romeranz is a senior, majoring in English and minoring in Urban Studies and Medical Anthropology. She’s fond of places with double names-- originally from San Francisco, currently living in Ann Arbor, and spent last year living in Cape Town, South Africa. Both her pieces in this issue are from and inspired by her time in South Africa. “Red Stairway” was taken at AfrikaBurn, the African version of the Burning Man Festival, and “Khayelitsha on a Day with Rain” was inspired by her time working in the Cape Town townships. In addition to writing and photography, Sarah loves playing soccer, getting things in the mail, making puns and watching “Remember the Titans” on repeat. Carolyn Racine is from Tecumseh, MI. She will graduate in April with a BA in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry. She supplements her writing with her interests in farming, Chicana Feminism, and working with at-risk youth. While she is unsure of her plans after graduation, she hopes to work with food security in lowincome areas and/or food education at a non-profit. Amanda Rutishauser has won several awards for her work including a 2010 Fiction Hopwood award for her novella, The Boys of Salfydd Bower, and a 2010 Summer Hopwood for her narrative poetry sequence, Storyville Serenade. She is a former subconcentrator in Creative Writing and will be receiving her Bachelors of Science with Honors in English and Microbiology this spring. Post-graduation plans include adopting a dog and going to medical school. She is from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Anita Sidler was born in Switzerland and has lived in California, Marland, New York and as of now, in Michigan. She studied fine arts, with a concetration inprintmaking, at Interlochen Arts Academy. Anita will be graduating with a BFA from the University of Michigan this coming
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May. As a life time vegetarian, and since the last 3 years a vegan, animal rights has been a passion of Anita’s from the beginning. She took her passion and incorporated it with art to spread awareness. Kelsey Strait is a junior at U-M studying English Language & Literature and History. She is from Davison, Michigan. She spends her time laughing with friends, satisfying her sweet-tooth cravings and drinking coffee. She believes the best pictures are the ones which aren’t staged, but happen naturally and in the moment. Jeff Waraniak is a sophomore in the Residential College studying English and creative writing. He comes from the Midwest and is very proud of it. His fiction and photography are both said to be rich in characterization, which he thinks is alright. He can be found at the arboretum in the fall, Panchero’s in the winter, and in one of the University’s libraries all year round. Ellery Gillian Weil is a first-year LS&A student who is absolutely thrilled to be published for the first time. She hails from Bethesda, Maryland, and her poem, “New Mexico Highway,” is absolutely true. She took a road trip with her family from Santa Fe to Las Vegas at age nine, and can still remember what an astonishing impression it made. Patricia Brooke White is from Suttons Bay, Michigan – a small town on the pinky of the state. She is currently a senior and will be graduating as a double-major in English and American Culture in May. She will also be completing her Honors Thesis in English which explores the role of soldiers in public discourse. She hopes to study poetry and someday earn an MFA in the subject.
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id Madeline Conway my hair is getting longer and I can’t think about the thoughts I wrote yesterday I can’t remember why they were relevant or the blue of his eyes or the feeling of cork like you can buoy out of the room when you feel anxious over regrets and regrets and the times you let personal power slip out of your grip the times self-control took hold but it was working against you to mark you where you’d remember not to make the same mistakes twice and I might make the same mistake twice either that or be alone it’s the only way it’s terror it’s comfort it’s reality speaking of reality I could not convey to my mother on the phone that what she believes is truth is just a social construct or that I am a child of god or that no fear rises in me anymore I could not convey to her the film in my mind of the revolution that I am going to be part of or the way he makes me feel like a tiger in a cage I am full of power full just like the phoenix I am bursting with pearls just like my father I am full of heart and also cruelty just like the future I am why I have to change just like her I am anxious
Poetry & Prose ◆ 1
What We Borrow Our Lives From Katherine Henrichs “He remembered being told as a boy that he had reined his pony in at the same time he had struck it with the whip.” —Marianne Moore
When I came back I had no plan except to escape again. I started seeing a man who went by several different names. One day I called him Grip, another day Johnny James. He lived in a van and had no plan except to keep living in it. I was down with that. My mother was not. She took all of the things she thought I might use to escape again (laptop, phone, pills, etc.) but I didn’t care because I had my body, which I used, along with a large kitchen knife and a police car. The man picked me up at the police station with the curtains drawn over the windows of the van and we made light of everything. We decided on Maine. Along the way I lost my comb and didn’t have any money to buy a new one. My hair was long and straight and when I stopped combing it, it tangled into many knots that could not be undone. There was nothing I could do about it. When we got to Maine we found fishing boats and lobsters and people with impenetrable accents. As a way to learn the land, each morning we got ourselves purposefully lost in the woods and spent the day trying to find our way back. I thought of bringing a basket of bread to my grandma but she was already dead. One day the van broke down and the man— what was his name?—walked off in the other direction. I was alone so I called my mother collect from a pay phone. When she answered I said, “Mom!” and she said, “Who?”
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Law n’ Ardor Sean St. Charles A boy just can’t beat the fuzz. Bobby—Ziploc full of oxyCodone. Cop—“gimme those drugs. Or I’ll chuck you in detox” “Dat shit makes me feel like wow-wow-wow.” “Effing trash’s all you are—just a chalk-line on TV” “Flip you, man. Flip off. I’ll run this knife thru—” “God Damnit—” “—Hell did you say? I’ll skin your ass.” Is Detroit City always this cold? Frozen like the Rouge River in winter? Jets of red and black seep to the surface—thick and gritty like the Hickory sauce at Slow’s BBQ Kack-Kack-Kack and Bobby drop Like a drip o’ Mud soup from the Kitchen (burnt chicken)— Near brown (not yellow) running thin down the curve of a big white bowl. Yum. On the other side of the gun, officer flips his shades up. Says, “He’ll Pay for what he’s done yet.” Pulls trigger twice more Kack-Kack. “Quarantine this mother fucker, don’t want to catch that black.” Goes home, gets BJ Right as soon as he asks his wife—still in his uni— Strips her down with his nightstick, her breath Trembling, her breasts in a sling, baby sleeping, USA Today open on the nightstand. She gets off. Vaginally, of course. Wipes himself on the ‘zine. Page Three. Op-ed. XXX lube smears the ink—“Pre___nt Ob__m_ In Det__it—The __ight Fo_ Ame_ic_” “Yippee-kayay” cop shouts. Across town—Mom and Dad dab Zzzs from Bobby Boy’s eyes, chant voodoo magic, arise from the dead—alegba-ouanga.
Poetry & Prose ◆ 3
Modern Karma Josh Bayer The best part about being laid off from the florist, he thought, was the privilege to sleep in. Now he is awake. 11:55 a.m. A wad of relief churns in his stomach: not quite noon. He checks his sites: WhatIfSports, eBay, Plenty of Fish (for dating). He checks his inbox: zero. He pictures all of those web-connected women, squinting at his life, clicking next the instant they realize he listens to Styx. Breakfast: quadruple espresso, THANK-YOU bag stuffed with empty vitamin boxes and used tissues—HAVE A NICE DAY. Leaving your trash can open is like leaving your toilet seat up, he thinks, exiting his efficiency and flipping the lid. He starts his jog, jobless, absorbing the sights and sounds like a car sponge: gaptooth bag lady dropping her extra tiara, SAVE THE CROPS pinned to her purse; elderly couple seesawing, smiling like it’s their honeymoon, flanked by buckets flush with multi-colored dollar signs; curved white pipe, sticking out of the ground like industrial macaroni. He spots a woman down the sidewalk bundled in red-and-yellow shawls and immediately feels a bulge in his sweats, blushing when she becomes real, cooing to a baby strapped chest-to-breast against her scarves. He spots a flyer: LOWER LEG AMPUTEE. BLOOD NEEDED. $25—pinned to the nose of a giant smiling middle-aged man on a billboard. He makes immediately for the hospital. Inside, there’s a lineup but no line—just a waiting room stuffed with fidgeting donors. Next to the magazine stand is a room for breastfeeding: PERSONAL ROOM, flagged off by a stick figure of a mother nursing a black cavity. He thinks he feels his cell phone vibrate, but it’s just nerves—a thigh spasm from too many stimulants. He thinks that the
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lady in the red felt cap and nylon stockings might be flirting with him, based on the fact that she switched seats with her son to sit next to him—but then thinks it’s probably just nerves. He feels his cell phone vibrate again: REDBULL 6PK GIVEAWAY ONLY 2 HRS LEFT reply STOP to cancel and HELP for HELP He texts HELP.
Poetry & Prose ◆ 5
Nursery Rhyme Olivia Postelli This whole story is practically a fantasy: there are genteel Amazons majoring in business and hags dressed handsomely in gold. Here Little Bo Peep drops poison down the well and the sky is falling, for real. There are five cent dimes and eight dollar coins and the Furies have pledged a sorority. Here the windows bend backward and the Dish runs away with the Napkin Ring. Imagine a world where they have picked a cost too low and played the ponies too late. There are narrow leaps and big gaps and the milkman only rings once. Here the dandelions come up blue and the Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf cries alien instead. Imagine this world where up is a pencil sharpener and next door is across the street. Here, in this world, where there are loafing do-it-yourselfers and Old MacDonald has a condo, where time swims the backstroke butterfly and there are only seven Maids-A-Milkingâ€” in this world they are turning pages.
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I Wait Alone Nazifa Islam I want someone to tuck me into their belt and make me a part of measuring their waist.
Poetry & Prose ◆ 7
An Accidental Conversation Jonah Most Loni had been gone for a couple of hours and we were not sure when to start being worried about him. I had met Loni and his girlfriend Gabie on a boat ride across the Gulf of Aqaba, a narrow strip of water jutting out of the Red Sea. Loni and Gabie were the loudest foreigners on the boat, and the funniest, and probably the only ones to have brought an Iheart-NY t-shirt along for the ride. We quickly became friends. They are kind and well intentioned, but, together, the three of us amassed an impressive series of traveling blunders. This mostly consisted of breaking things and accidentally insulting people whose country we had come to visit. All too often, our parting words at monuments and restaurants were “thank you so much, and, again, we’re so sorry.” So when Loni started talking to a sheik we met at a mosque in Wadi Musa, the town we’d been staying in, and was invited to the sheik’s home to learn about Islamic prayer, I decided that I did not want to accompany him. I was tired and not really in the mood and it was clear that there was just no way this excursion was going to end well. Still, I felt bad watching him drive off alone with bearded strangers. The rest of us, Gabie and two super Jewish guys, on break from a find-yourself Israeli adventure, who we had picked up the previous day, returned to our hostel to drink beers and play cards. And then at around ten Loni returned, and it was clear that he had a story to tell. But he seemed a bit hesitant. After some coaxing, he blurted out that he may have accidentally converted to Islam, but he wasn’t sure. Of course, now we had to pull it all out of him. He told us he went with the men to the house of the sheik and they went over the basic pillars of Islam with him. Loni asked lots of questions. The men requested that he pray with them, and he did to be polite, and sat on their rug and bowed and said the prayers. Then they asked him if they could wash him, and, out of what can only be some upfor-anything Australian spirit, Loni said yes and rolled up his sleeves. Finally, they asked if he was ready to accept Muhammad as God’s messenger. And he said he’s really not sure, but agreed to at least say the Shahada – to try it out, and he repeated after the men that Allah is the
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only God and Muhammad is his messenger. They asked him to say it in Arabic as well, and he did, la ilaha illallahh. Then they told him that now’s he’s a Muslim. And Loni kind of freaked out and said he was ready to be driven back into town. He was telling us all this as if he had just been tricked into buying a car he didn’t really want. The two other American Jews were horribly offended. I was doing my best to keep a straight face. And trying to figure out if maybe the conversion meant I would get the extra beers we had bought for him. And Loni was starting to realize that perhaps he crossed a line. Loni, actually now given the name Ibrahim, tried to explain to us that it didn’t really count anyway, a claim he backed up with some quick Internet research, and that it was alright because the sheik knew a cab driver that could give us a really good price to our next destination. The Muslim price. The American Jews refused, but, unable to deny that the cab offer was a great deal, they told Loni they’d come along if he converted back before dawn. “Just tell them you didn’t really mean it.” Then, Loni’s girlfriend turned to me and said she’s excited because she’d never slept with a Muslim before. Eventually, everyone went upstairs, and I stayed up listening to music on the roof of our hostel, trying to make sense of the preceding events. I thought about all the mistakes that I’ve made traveling in recent years, mistakes that I wouldn’t normally make in places and cultures I’m more familiar with. Eventually, I wrote to my parents, who were not entirely comfortable with my Middle East excursion. I told them I was doing well and that I was planning to travel to Amman in the morning. I told them about Loni and bragged that so far I’ve managed to hold on to my religion.
Poetry & Prose ◆ 9
Angels of the Underground Allison Epstein We fly on nicotine wings, the angels of the underground. The devilâ€™s claws on our golden heels, we walk the marketplaces of Jerusalem and send explosions of salvation with our signature. Our pack forms a V and glides through the remnants of a soulless revolution, the alpha seraph at the point with a gilded crossbow on his shoulder. And we would die for him. It might not seem that way, but we love this city as much as we love all Creation and maybe more, because it is ours in all its foreclosed glory, its graffitied streets a testament to our fall and subsequent ascension. Maybe this is why we must destroy it. Send a flood. Devise a plague. Only when all we love has been burned can we rebuild. Only when the wind rushes past your ears and the floor rushes up to meet you can you really wake up. We love this city. And we would die for it.
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Angels of the underground, we beat our nicotine wings, stirring the sooty air. At this height, the buildings beneath us are just squares of light and dark and dark and light and light and dark and dark. Our alpha seraph’s crossbow hums like a harp singing a requiem of hope as his glittering amber eyes flare and dance with the arrow’s reflection and his white cotton robes trail behind him aflame, the tail of a comet, the fiery afterthought of a falling star. Ashes mix in the sooty air. We are the angels of the underground, who walk elbow to elbow with saints and demons. And we would die like shooting stars.
Poetry & Prose ◆ 11
Seaplane Heather Bicknell Bodies reject foreign objects. For example: the tubes inserted into my ear at age thirteen— to preserve my hearing, keep me from scuba diving— are forcing their way out. Damn doctors called them permanent. Popping, fizzling cabin-pressure noises in my left ear. My right’s flooded with briny fluid, which sloshes when I shake my head “no.” You’re talking in my face, but I’m up in the air, cast out to sea floating, rocky, but buoyant. This imbalance is just another you can easily ignore, being impossible to see,
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but roiling, foaming, eroding me internally. We meet in the air, stream parallel. You stick out your feet, roll smoothly on paved runway. I land eleven miles off next to a whale come up to breathe. I am jealous of his ability to break the surface, to float upward when necessary. Were I to spring a leak, I would be dragged down to rest for eternity while fish and crustaceans used me as a cave, a place to graze a fin or knock a claw— Unless I took off into the sky, staying aloft until fuel ran out, then nose-diving, slicing through treetops into a quiet pit of forest.
Poetry & Prose ◆ 13
For Sale Seher Chowhan My house, the one greeting you with its window eyes and cul-de-sac smile, is almost twenty-three years old now. It’s the only one I’ve ever lived in. There are so many rooms, I’d like to think you could play Clue in it. “It was Colonel Mustard, with the wrench, in the . . . sunroom!” My sister in-law doesn’t like going in the basement alone, always suggests I go with her. She’s thirty-seven, I’m twenty-one. She says it’s something about the sudden darkness (that’s what lights were invented for), the massiveness (the rest of my house is bigger), the eerie cold (wear a jacket), and all the dead bugs (ok, fine, I can’t argue with that one). Occasionally, my house enjoys making a CRACK! noise. It sounds like a wood-splintering gunshot or a firework, feels like the jolt that wakes you up from a dream. We always tell everyone the house is “settling.” “Why would a house settle after two decades?” my cousin wonders. (He’s the one who watched “The Sixth Sense” in our family room and couldn’t sleep afterwards. Must have imagined dead people hanging from the chandelier in the foyer, or something). I personally think the sound is a signal, instructing me to get back to work and stop
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daydreaming. My house and I, we have that kind of relationship. No one else seems to understand. They’re afraid of the place I feel the most safe. The only thing that scares me is the possibility of losing it.
Poetry & Prose ◆ 15
Khayelitsha on a Day with Rain Sarah Prensky-Pomerantz Here I am. And here they are. Four little boys in clothes that drown and trip them. Four little boys, a tattered soccer ball, and me. We kick the ball in zigzag lines, trying to keep it away from the boy with the toobig-shoes in the middle. He is wearing white grandfather saddle shoes with steel toes. His mama probably got them from the donation box at The Center. Or maybe they were passed down from an absent father. The shoes are complimented by the oversized man’s coat the boy is also wearing. The shoulder pads make him as broad as Table Mountain and the tweed fabric makes him as scratchy as the sandpaper roof of the shack he huddles in every night. He looks like a little man. Until he stumbles over his feet and trips. Then he is a boy again. The three other boys and I pass the ball around the circle. The boy with the too-big-shoes is slow and clumsy like the baby giraffes up north, so we move the ball around easily. The boys try to pull fancy tricks like the ones they see through the criss-crosses of their neighbors’ legs on the tiny television screen in the shabean. They want to be like the Bafana Bafana players they so admire. But the ball keeps getting caught on the loose cement ground stones, making the boys throw their arms up to the clouding sky and laugh. And when they laugh, it is as if the air is as pregnant as the mamas leaning against the fence watching us. The mamas who click their tongues and lean from one foot to the other, shifting the human cargo strapped to their backs. Their babies are attached to them by cloth umbilical cords printed with the face of Nelson Mandela. The dozens of Mandela faces on the cloth keep the babies close and immobile. The babies that never seem to cry. We have been playing keep-away from the boy with the too-big-shoes for some time. He continues to stumble and fall and his palms become raw from the dirt’s grinding. I feel bad that he has been in the middle for so long, so I pretend to make a mistake and lose the ball. The boy with the too-big-shoes smiles triumphantly as the other boys whoop and laugh at me in click click Xhosa. Me, the umLungu sisi. They are surprised that I even lasted as long as I did, because girls don’t play soccer
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in Khayelitsha Township. I chase the ball around the circle, crusting my ankles in the grey-pink dirt. This time the boy with the too-big-shoes is no longer drowning. He isn’t tripping over himself and his shoulders have broadened. It is as if he soaking in the air that is slowly hissing out of the ball at his feet. He inflates with its deflation and becomes big. He becomes Teko Modise, his favorite player, and his man’s coat becomes the yellow and green jersey of Bafana Bafana, his too-big-shoes a new pair of Predator cleats, like the ones on the back of the purple spicy peanuts bags littering the street. As we continue to play, the sun begins to drop behind the tombstone of Table Mountain. The sky darkens and we can smell the piercing freshness of an oncoming Cape Town rainstorm. The cape sky blasts one last shine of the sun’s flaming orange glow, a glow as hot as a skinned knee, and then becomes a dark, opalescent purple. The cape begins to cry. And rain drops like Xhosa clicks collect and pulse down the narrow dirt streets of Khayelitsha, wetting down the dust.
Poetry & Prose ◆ 17
(leap frog) Patricia Brooke White we play leap frog on my bed and I always let you win and then I let you in and then our former playground transforms into a tool well-loved, worn and molded making the sounds city folks think of when they imagine frogs . . . mattress creaking, croaking jumping like the game is played, over and under rivets set ribbiting to the tune of these legs . . . but country bumpkins, like myself, know that real frogs, green and brown and not found on silver screens, but in swamps, make more joyous, fluid songs symphonies at night that put little girls and women not just into bed, but into slumber pleasing tones that fill a mouth fill two ears fill a body and can remind a lover what home felt like . . . dirty feet and reddened skin singing because nature is happy and feeling better when the frogs are in the pond now we, as imaginary frogs, mimic what some call a ribbit but to us, these frog-songs sound like a sigh like a moan like the sounds we make playing leap frog
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Other Carolyn Racine I asked my mother if I could take my shirt off like the boys do. The boys ran and cried, “It’s hot out here!” leaving their shirts hanging on bushes and fence links. I was not warm, but I wanted to cross and fling my arms. My mother said, “No,” like she would say, “Relax,” if she caught me pacing around furniture. I stood still. She said no while looking across the lawn, unable to see my readied arms, crossed and holding the edge of a floral tank top. I did not watch her, either. I watched a stick bug climb up our garage, wondering if it grows from its head or the other. It was not fair to me.
Poetry & Prose ◆ 19
If I have two brothers, arenâ€™t I a brother? Mother and brother sound nice together, like they could be the only words, the only two names for people to choose.
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woman to woman Madeline Conway never let the salt eat away at your skin or erosion get too far you are soil and songs and heat streaming from my veins in the mountain mist your rustic fortune awaits brooding, a sense of self lost to the brutal elements the cruel sound of the abacus the feeling of violation innate, born into a roadmap tokens of your pleasure in paint chips you may feed from remnants only, after you have cut your hair and given over to the fog you may derive essence from chrysanthemum tea and let rock sugar be your lens to see the world my motivations are so latent because I tried to be a good woman but they beat so loud in my ears when I lay on my left side or allow concrete to push mottled patterns into my thighs they ring in my belly which is an oven and a cage and a kettle drum resounding in there like melting chain link until the light that appears decides to settle in your eyes.
Poetryâ€‰&â€‰Prose â—† 21
Elephant Shrew and Man Lauren Salemme Sopher
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Rabbit attacking animal tester Anita Sidler
Artwork â—† 23
Halves Nazifa Islam
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shine down Kelsey Strait
Artwork â—† 25
Red Staircase Sarah Prensky-Pomeranz
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Deer Attacking Hunter Anita Sidler
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A Fine Place to Stay Jeff Warniak
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Dregs Katherine Klaric
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Snow, Blood, and Water Nazifa Islam
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Rabbits VS. Animal Tester Anita Sidler
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Rosa Impresa Katherine Klaric
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A Lone Cup Kelsey Strait
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Deer VS. Hunter Anita Sidler
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Rest, My Dear Seher Chowhan
Artwork â—† 35
Chris and Pitt’s Kelsey Strait
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Sarah Prensky-Pomeranz Langa Township, South Africa
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Peeled Heather Bicknell The peeled corpse of a deer hung in our garage. It reminded me of a picture I’d seen in National Geographic of a human being sans skin. I was about the age when I’d learned that “meat” meant muscle and that I was made of meat, just like the peeled corpse of the deer hanging in our garage. Dad made use of nature like the Chippewa, mounting antlers in his office next to medical diagrams of the human form sans skin. I’d masticate the venison put on my plate at dinner and then excuse myself to spit into the toilet, but dad exposed me like the deer hanging in our garage. I wonder if it hurts him that I eat mostly tofu now. It’s so much easier to bear the thought of a soybean sans skin. Maybe if I diet on tree bark and corn and walk softly outside of his blind, I could hang in our garage. He’d never know me sans skin.
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Dead or Alive Josh Bayer Exiting the fax machine was just a matter of epidermis against plastic; just another permutation just another button-push for my father. My father, who pretends like he invented the stethoscope, and he may as well have invented it, it’s been around for centuries really, ever since Eve pressed her palm against Adam’s left pec and asked “are you real?” The bar was all 6s and 7s all zeroes and ones, and me, freshly minted facsimile, full-grown and incarnate, right hand in the unzipped pocket of my bourbon-breath father, receiving transmissions of sweat-streaked exchanges hot-wired from fragments of blogged-about weddings and films about movies, watch my father munch on the caked foundation of a Ke$ha-dressed waitress. “Get her number,” he whispers, tongue in her ear,
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Exiting the fax machine was just a matter of epidermis against plastic; just another permutation just another button-push for my father. My father, who pretends like he invented the stethoscope, and he may as well have invented it, it’s been around for centuries really, ever since Eve pressed her palm against Adam’s left pec and asked “are you real?” The bar was all 6s and 7s all zeroes and ones, and me, freshly minted facsimile, full-grown and incarnate, right hand in the unzipped pocket of my bourbon-breath father, receiving transmissions of sweat-streaked exchanges hot-wired from fragments of blogged-about weddings and films about movies, watch my father munch on the caked foundation of a Ke$ha-dressed waitress. “Get her number,” he whispers, tongue in her ear,
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“I’ve got her nice and warm for you,” as if he’s some sort of incubator, and she, leftover pudding, and me, an annex of his glory days. Cocktail sauce smearing down the walls, I scan the room for something unprocessed, something unfried, and match eyes with a lipstickless girl across the bar, white dress especially sensitive to air conditioning, observing the crowd, preserving their tics in a black pocket pad. One hiccup later and my hand is in hers (the girl’s, not the broad’s) and we’re out the door, my InstaGod father spurting miniature copies of himself all over the countertop. “I don’t know your name,” I say, and she says, “Kate, but who gives
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a shit anyway, I didn’t choose it,” squeezing my hand, crisp winter air alive in our nostrils, all eyes fixed on a stuffed reindeer in the window of an antique store across the street.
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row Madeline Conway
When I am alone at night I feel like nobody loves me. When I think about James taking all those pills I am all the love in the world and I am shoulders and hands and I am the ambulance. When I think about my big brother I do not want him to wake up alone in the Pacific Ocean.
When I am alone at night you are in my head. When I let the truth shake me I know I do not understand wanting to die. I am afraid to die. When you throw your pills in my face I am ashamed. I am not a child of God then.
When I am alone at night I feel like I’m not real. When I think of the Phoenix I think of the tears she spilled into me and over me. Then I was real. When I think of my aunt who died I am not sure where she went after that.
When I am alone at night I am weeping. When I think of death I am crushed with fear. I might be a child of God by then. When I think of the attic I think of birds lying there praying, even though they got in there voluntarily I want to help them but I am too scared.
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He Asked, Are We? Carolyn Racine Maybe completely drunk was not the most appropriate time to tell my brother about our grandfather’s bipolar-schizophrenia. Before I spoke, he only knew of the man’s raging alcoholism, which is an easy fire of memory to leave burning, unwatched. Before I revealed the secret, he understood how bits of rampage dampened our genes, after spilling into our father’s genes. Don’t get too out of control, people say, It just keeps moving within. Through the blur, my brother asked, Are we crazy? I don’t feel crazy. And I said, yes it feels that way, but we are probably crazy. He said, Wouldn’t we know by now if we were crazy people? I said maybe, but we are also young people. And really, what is the difference between young people and crazy people? And he asked, Are we crazy? I don’t feel crazy? And I said yes, it feels that way, but we have a faulty plexus beneath our skin. It’s aching. And he said, Why do you have to say it like that?
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Tumblers Olivia Postelli Peter does his laundry every Sunday in the basement of his building. The tiles are grimy from years of spilled detergent, and the fluorescent lights flicker with the shake of the machines. He never remembers to bring enough quarters. Every Sunday, he digs through his jean pockets, desperately searching for seventy-five cents to keep the washer spinning. Some Sundays he finds it. Others he must trudge up the four flights of stairs to his apartment to rummage under his couch cushions or sift through his change jar. The quarters he pushes through the slot are always old, and Peter imagines that they taste like beer. He collects them during his shift at Rossi’s—cheap, but useful tips. He does his laundry on Sundays because that’s when Hannah does hers. She lives in 38B (the apartment directly below his) and has a gray cat named Sam. Peter knows her name is Hannah because he looked over her shoulder once when she got her mail. It was mostly bills and a copy of the Chicago Tribune; sometimes, she gets Time. He knows her cat’s name is Sam because he’s heard her call it down the fire escape. “Here Sammy. Here kitty kitty.” He doesn’t know if it’s a girl-Sam or a boy-Sam. He thinks it’s a boy because of the blue collar, but he can’t be sure. Peter never takes the machine next to Hannah. He picks the one that’s two away. Last week, he almost asked her if she could hand him the towel he dropped, but she was busy folding, so he didn’t. He bent down and got it himself. She smiled at him on his way up, and he smiled back. She left then, her laundry warm and folded and stacked neatly in her basket. Later, when Sunday had turned into Monday, he wished he’d dropped another towel. Today, though, is the day. He watches her load her sweaters into the washer and set it on brights. He notices that she always separates her brights by season—her fall colors in one load, her spring pastels in another. Peter likes this about her. He closes the door of his own machine and takes a tentative step in her direction. It’s one word, one syllable. It’s “hi,” and it’s on the tip of his tongue when a buzzer six machines down goes off, and his “hi” is stopped by the noise. Stopped. He watches as
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Hannah grabs her laundry basket and fabric softener sheets and heads up the stairs. Peter sighs. Maybe he’ll try again next week. *** Mary-Beth strips beds in the Motel Six off I-37. She puts everything in the laundry cart—pillowcases, sheets, shams, even the comforter. It must all be taken downstairs and cleaned with cups of bleach and gallons of hot water; she doesn’t like to imagine the reasons why She does like to imagine Italy. She’s never been (she doesn’t even have a passport), but, in the movies, Italian laundry is always beautiful. It’s white sheets and pink blouses hung high above stone streets from strings on balconies. Pasta stains scrubbed out with Venetian canal water. Gelato washed away with a bar of lavender soap. Light blue Vespas and six-hundred year old fountains. She imagines herself there in a straw hat trimmed with daisies carrying a basket of fresh fruit. Apples, oranges, pomegranates. Everything there is full of light—even the laundry. Here, in this Motel Six somewhere in Atascosa County, the laundry is dingy and gray and not Italian. Mary-Beth isn’t Audrey Hepburn, and this isn’t Roman Holiday. It’s not any kind of holiday. She shoves the pillowcases down hard into her cart and begins to push it toward the door. When she leaves, she doesn’t remember to turn off the lights, but that’s okay. They weren’t really on anyway—they couldn’t be. Not like Italy. *** “Mom. Mom. Ma.” “What is it?” She’s exhausted when she says it, laundry hamper on her hip, closing the dryer door. “I’m going out with Becca and Jen tonight, okay?” “What time will you be home?”
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“I don’t know. Late-ish.” “Have a good time,” she says as she struggles to balance the basket filled with damp jeans and white work shirts. “See you later.” “I love you,” she pokes her head out of the laundry room hoping to catch her daughter, but it’s too late; she’s already left. The washer thumps on. *** When Ralph was seven, he and his brother Dickey used to play tag in the rows of refrigerators, microwaves, and washing machines. Their father, when he wasn’t helping a customer, used to play, too. Every Saturday afternoon, Ralph lived in the storeroom, and he loved it. He doesn’t love it now. He’s on the left side of fifty and weighs fifty more pounds than he did five years ago. The bald spot on top of his head has grown so much he doesn’t even try to comb it over anymore. He still spends every Saturday at the store—Mann’s Used Appliances—except now he’s the boss. His wife Dolores does the books, and they hired a local kid to help out, but people buy new nowadays, at Lowe’s or Home Depot. The bell on the door rarely jangles, and, if it does, it’s usually the mailman with junk mail or the odd catalogue. Sometimes, as he walks up and down the rows of washing machines, Ralph thinks about a life outside of Mann’s, a life like Dickey’s. Dickey became Richard years ago now and is a senior partner of a law firm somewhere out in the suburbs. Ralph and Dolores saw him and his wife last summer, right after they installed an in-ground swimming pool. He pretended not to see the envy in her eyes as she stared out the dining room window at it during dinner, and she pretended right along with him. Late at night, when Dolores has gone home to watch QVC and eat Häagen-Dazs out of the pint, Ralph sits on top of a dryer in the middle of the store and remembers playing tag with his dad and Dickey. He
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remembers hide and seek in the storage room and drawing hopscotch in the parking lot. He thinks he remembers loving this place—even if he can’t quite remember why or how. Some nights on the dryer he forgets that Mike, the local kid, is still in the store. “Going home, Mr. Mann?” he asks as he pushes the door open. The bell jingles slightly. “Not yet,” Ralph says as he fiddles with the knob on the dryer. “See you tomorrow then, Mr. M. Don’t work too hard.” “I won’t.” When the kid finally leaves, he switches the dryer on and closes his eyes. *** I like to watch my clothes tumble. They fall and spin in the same order almost every time. Orange t-shirt, pink gingham button-up, purple hoodie. After I’ve spilled coffee down the front of my brand new dress or failed a French test, I want to be in there with my clothes. I want to be smaller. I want the washer to be bigger. Anything to climb inside and shut the glass door. Then, I could be the one on the inside looking out. If I came with washing instructions I think they would say, “Use hot water, then lay flat to dry.” Maybe, though, I’m dry clean only.
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The Perfect Sphere Amanda Rutishauser Smooth, sectionable from any angle, A=πr2. You could walk her surface for a lifetime and not end up anywhere. I prefer the honesty of the prism —not perfect— who breaks it down, separating your pieces by wavelength, showing you what you really are.
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Science (non) Fiction Sean St. Charles I flew my rocker to the moon and left my chair in space. I burned up in the stratosphere and died right there in space. I used to meet your sky blue eyes But now I stare in space. And even with these solar shades There’s too much glare in space. I took you to a Martian doc Who left a barren space. An alien to join our kin— Instead, a tear in space. The Moon Pontiff reviewed our crimes And ruled, “alls fair in space.” I used to sleep in peace on earth. It’s all nightmares in space. “It’s just a comet-rock,” you said, “But Sean, he has your face.”
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New Mexico Highway Ellery Weil Poor Charlie Brown. That cloud that followed him— Those really clouds exist, You know, Like little floating cotton balls. She watches them, Brewing private storms, From the sun-drenched backseat of the rental car. And cactus— Not just on windowsills but actually growing— That exists too. She leans up, Craning her neck to look out, Slumping back into the leather curves That have grown familiar these five hours. The stuffed animals are homesick. They— Bears, mice, a dog— Yearn for smaller spaces, colder climates And the safety of trees. The doll likes it here. The endless sun and sky remind her of the beach (her ancestral home) And if there were an ocean she’d stay forever. The girl leans on these old friends, Reserving her opinion for now. There were moments— This morning, When they’d left the pretty little city, All red clay buildings And turquoise jewelry (like her new necklace, like the thread in her special new braid),
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When they’d started the drive with her father’s cowboy music (they tell her cowboys really exist too— This, she is sure is a joke) And her mother talking about the town in the mountains They’d be staying at next— She’d been ready to agree with the doll, Nodding her head, deciding she liked it here. This is adventure! Forward march! But now— Now the car is quiet— Now her mother is reading and her brother is asleep— Now they haven’t passed a town in an hour— Now she sees those strange little storms on the horizon— Now the stuffed animals are persuasive. She thinks about this. The car hums along the narrow highway and she goes quiet (her parents probably think she’s asleep) And she thinks about this. A very polite question forms in her head: Could we maybe go back to Maryland soon? I’m tired of spicy food And it’s too bright here. When she remembers her new necklace And her special braid And thinks maybe here isn’t so bad. Besides, look, a billboard! Some of them are so funny And maybe this one will— Oh. She sighs in relief. The sign is in a language
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She cannot understand. I was right She thinks, I was right. Her parents haven’t realized They’re in another country. (she’d heard on the news about “crossing the border.” They must have done that) And this thought Is such a relief— Knowing how surprised her parents will be When they see this isn’t America— That she laughs to herself And finally dozes off As the car pushes on towards the horizon.
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She Came Through Ariel Nazifa Islam
I searched for you Lady Lazarus who chose to return to the damned world time and time again. I thought I’d find you in a coal scuttle. I panicked when I realized I had no coal scuttle, that no one did anymore— that no one but the earth held onto coal any longer. I looked to my fireplace instead meaning to rake you out of the ashes, but I live on the 19th floor and I have no fireplace. So I made my own peculiar pile of ash. I sat inside—a room with no windows seemed best, and began to smoke cigarette after unfiltered cigarette—building my pile slowly. I knew I could find you when it became big enough. I smoked fourteen cigarettes and then waited for you to arise. I saw you as a phoenix—blood red and certain to emerge not ugly nor with feathers but divinely, with the power of speech. I saw you red, Lady Lazarus. I thought for certain you were red. You cannot come out of death eight times and not be blood red. Then there you were all of a wonderful sudden and I was horrified, ashamed to have so misread you. Of course you were blue instead.
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Ahasuerus Matthew Hodges The crowd was heavy and loud last night by the time we arrived neath the moonlight in good spirits to the gallon of five-star and a mysterious dog. Been starting to feel I’m losing my tact, I told him. The crowd was shouting something around the fire in the backyard. The dog licked my hands. Been starting to feel, I told the dog. He lapped his lips with his fat pink tongue and ran off to join the crowd. Been starting to feel like a swarthy drunk scoundrel with a five o’clock shadow on a sober Sunday afternoon. My trusted cannot be memory. I think I need to lie down. Bits of conversations, faces, brief lucid moments struggle toward the surface kicking and biting each other like a sack full of wrangled puppies. On any given day: one person can be another, she has a different voice, one person can be two people, did I tell you this before, two people can be one person, and I never, never remember the name of that dog. My clothes are scattered everywhere. I’ve got a head full of gnats. I overstock antiperspirant so they don’t catch wind of the strange smell my glands secrete when I sweat. Oh God, what else I tell that dog? Last night after the crowd, Kid bird burned his hand building a bomb in our living room. We lit our best bomb last winter. Last winter’s bomb was a pumpkin stuffed with newspaper and kerosene. We danced around it like hobgoblins. This morning Kevin told me Kid bird had third degree burns on his right hand. But this could have been yesterday morning or two winters ago. All the nights with loud bombs sit side by side. Boom. Bang, and all at once—blind driving through a Michigan cornfield, waking up in an unfamiliar van parked at the intersection of a desolate road, chasing a dangerous woman, spilling vodka on a cat, noticing for the first time the framed pictures of her brother on the dresser in the morning, lying on a roof at dawn watching the sun rise over the buildings without a belief in the future and in general and all at once spending youth trying to squeeze the big hand into a small glove. My memories are caged animals howling at each other across the aisle. Too wild to tame, too loud to sleep, but I’d just as soon turn my back on them as I would any other savage animal.
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Sundays are difficult. To get to my front door you have to step over a lone broken carousal horse. Today I almost tripped. But I love her and I’d never take her to the glue factory despite my unyielding want for adhesive. I watch people’s clothing and cannot determine the decade. Sometimes I feel so old, cradling this teakettle, naked, next to an unbridled carousal horse. Ahasuerus—as you ere us, one cannot escape the mass appropriation! The air is alive with jumbled music from the city. From where are these signals we rage against broadcasted from? That nagging tinny note, the dull grating hum—the emergency signal could be coming somewhere from within. Zzzzzzz, the joggers droll on. They don’t notice the dead horse on my front steps. So, we sit on a sober Sunday morning, red-eyed and resigned to inconsequence. Last night, I had a dream I was in a park full of laughing children. There were no adults. I sat on the only bench. A child, maybe four years old, sat next to me. We did not speak to each other. A blonde child who did not run out to play, like me, he sat there watching everyone from a distance. I didn’t know what else to do; I started to tickle his belly. He giggled at first, then gave a great, high-pitched squeal and writhed and laughed until there were tears in his eyes and such a smile was on his face, a mad, exuberant smile, that I could not help laughing too, and we carried on like this for I don’t know how long, until I woke up from the sound of my own hysterical laughter. I sat up on the couch, looked down at all the people sleeping on the floor, brushed off some tears and tried not to smile. But that was last night and just now through the doorway a giant deer ran across my front lawn! I rub my eyes with a burnt index finger. I run out on the yard and look down the street but he must be so fast. Neighbors of the area: take caution, there’s a wild deer on the loose, galloping across your lawns and entirely too fast to catch!
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If Our Angels Fall
If our angels fall from the sky I mean, when the wax in their spines that holds their wings in place melts and they slip down to earth we will slit their throats with hunting knives. Some bleed molten gold others, silver still others, red corn syrup. It is this last group we fall upon; we sample their blood only to find—disheartened— it has already gone cold.
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Hell’s Canyon Katherine Henrichs In a place like this the act of clipping one’s fingernails becomes an almost unbearable pleasure— peeling the dirt and dead skin from where it has crusted on the fingertips, letting it fall into the grass among the crescent-moon bone pieces. Leaving no trace— we pitch the tent on a slope where our feet push the door-flap in the morning, make instant coffee and oatmeal on a rock and hang our packs on a broken branch. Trails—for those who need wheels to travel real life. My feet pour the sand down the cliff to the rounded rocks below—this is the first time in a long time I have written of our love, wild love, everything keeping us together (six rattlesnakes a day)
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in a wilderness like this: the hot liquid sun down the vast rock face of Oregon pouring our souls into our selves, melting our winter-minded blood until we peak and explode.
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Talking about the weather Elise Aikman I. It used to be, we would talk for hours after the lights went out. The game went like this: when it got really, thrillingly late, we would say, “Goodnight,” and let the summer darkness hush us for about eight seconds, before one or the other would whisper the funniest thing since Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and we would have to say goodnight again. One night we failed fourteen times, it was grand. II. This summer I stood on a street corner with you, and I felt sad because we talked about the weather, which is something you do with almost-strangers,
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and when you can’t think of anything else to say. I tried to blame our lack of words on the delivery truck idling close by, but when it pulled away I was glad to have my ice cream cone in hand. It’s not polite to talk with food in your mouth. Drips speckled the silence.
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Making Sense of Facebook Sean St. Charles For Jimmy Klunder There’s a webpage dedicated to your death And boy does it have you figured well: Height (six-foot-two), weight minus your breath Comes to one and some change—which is a hell Of a lot less than you used to weigh. Take the total sum of vertebrae Doctor shaved Down times the temperature on Christmas Day When you found out that Jesus saved Himself but won’t save you—which equals Nineteen years old with a casket to show. I’ll bring my drill to bore peepholes In the lacquered wood and catch you feigning sleep—no I’ll upload your face to a webpage And watch you live but never age.
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Xylem Staff Erin Bernhard, Communications Manager, has been managing communications for Xylem for this entire year! When not communicating on behalf of the mag, Erin spends copious amounts of time reading novels. An English major, she has honed her reading skills so that she may, one day, find a job where reading is necessary. She feels prepared to take on the world and hopes to be reading in a studio apartment in New York City next year. Heather Bicknell is a sophomore studying English Language & Literature. She won a Jeffrey L. Weisberg Prize in Poetry in Fall 2009, and again in Fall 2010 along with a Hopwood Underclassmen Poetry Award. Her poems “Seaplane” and “Peeled” appear in this year’s issue of Xylem. She found designing the issue to be unexpectedly cathartic. Chris Chrobak awoke one Saturday and realized he still had not yet written a mini-bio-blurb for Xylem. He made coffee and began to write something interesting yet revealing, but was prevented by a phone call, the details of which involved free homemade hippie hash browns and all the French roast he could ask for. Three hours, a tummyful, a trip to the record store and two new Lou Reed vinyls later he made some green tea and sat down to complete the task. Dena Cohen is a senior at the University of Michigan studying English Language and Literature. Dena has a passion for grammar, which comes in handy with her role as Copy Manager. She spends her free time reading, shopping, baking cupcakes, and watching too much TV. Dena loves working with kids and does so through her various volunteer work such as tutoring. She is interested in both teaching and book publishing, and hopes to be in New York next year. Shannon Demers is a sophomore studying English Language & Literature, specializing in Language, Writing, and Rhetoric. She was born in the small town of Bay City, Michigan, but calls Ann Arbor home. After graduation, she plans on moving to Chicago, where she will pursue a career in publishing. Michelle DeWitt is a junior in LS&A concentrating in English and Spanish. She has no idea how she will apply those studies to an actual job that makes actual money post-graduation, but she’s open to suggestion. Her hobbies include playing Banana Grams, singing loudly to music from Glee, and eating salt and vinegar chips. She once went through a revolving door with Tom Petty. 64 ◆ xylem
Chris Dye is one of those twentysomething, ectomorphic males: instinctually contrarian, yet easygoing. He prefers beer to wine; oxford-cloth, but not fancy. He likes both movies and film. He’d rather literature be original than beautiful. He thinks it’s nearly impossible to define what language and culture are, but he thinks it is import to attempt to. He’s also extremely grateful to everyone else on the Xylem staff for letting me join them in work, as it’s been a great experience. Cecilia Jaquith is a sophomore at UM majoring in French & Francophone Studies and thinking of minoring in Linguistics. She is from Columbus, Ohio but has never been a Buckeye fan. In her free time she likes to shop at secondhand bookstores, write poetry, watch foreign movies, listen to folk music and insist that she is not as much of a hipster in person as she seems to be on paper. She plans to go to graduate school to become a high school French teacher. Alexandra Kruse is a senior at UM majoring in Honors English Language & Literature and minoring in Political Science. When not drafting grant proposals for Xylem or writing her senior thesis, she enjoys drinking diet cola, sporting funky-colored nail polish, and hunting for the world’s best order of saganaki. Allison Leigh Peters is a senior in Honors studying English Language & Literature, Creative Writing, and Global Media Studies. She won an Academy of American Poets Prize in 2010, and her work has been published in a variety of literary magazines, including the Michigan Quarterly Review, Burner Magazine, Dark Sky Magazine, Connotation Press, WomenArts Quarterly,Oberon Poetry Review, Third Wednesday, Avatar Review, Up the Staircase, and elsewhere. Aside from being the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Xylem Literary Magazine, she works in publishing, teaches English at Community High School, and is in the midst of writing her poetry thesis. Kelsey Strait was one of the Advertising Managers this year for Xylem. She won’t repeat much here since she also has another little blurb about herself in the contributors section . . . but since you’ve read this much already, she’ll include a few more random tidbits about herself: her favorite animals are elephants and she very much wishes that she could’ve heard good ‘ol Lincoln give a speech at least once.