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Unvarnished Words Table of Contents Prose, Poetry, and Photos The Tunnel ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Cover A Faster Horse ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 3 Insurrection ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6 Disconnect -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------7 Portrait ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 8 The Lustful Bug ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 9 Barn Shelter --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10 Everything is Nothing -------------------------------------------------------------------------11 Washed Over -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 12 Seat Number Nine ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 13 Odette from Swan Lake--------------------------------------------------------------------- 18 Asthma: The Unsolicited Attack ------------------------------------------------------- 19 Non Stop --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 19 Seasons of Haiku ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 20 Dreaming of Being a Star ------------------------------------------------------------------ 21 Divorce -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------23 Cougar on Black --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 24 Narcissus Shattered --------------------------------------------------------------------------25 Glass Vessels -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 31 Smoking After Midnight -------------------------------------------------------------------32 Bricks ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 34 Turn in Our Badge -----------------------------------------------------------------------------35 A Poetic Fancy ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 36 God’s Canvas -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 36 War Dance ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 37 Untitled Sonnet -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 40 Renewal --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 41 Thirst ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 42 What Childhood Has Become ---------------------------------------------------------- 43 Thought --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 44 Ice Drop Fairy ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 44 Silence Speaks Louder Than Words ------------------------------------------------ 45 1


The  Devil’s  Utopia -----------------------------------------------------------------------------46 The Gardener ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 47 Consequential Stranger --------------------------------------------------------------------48 As the Tears Fall --------------------------------------------------------------------------------49 Fall of Man ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 50 Leaving Shadows -------------------------------------------------------------------------------51 You’ll  Remember  Me ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 52 Tulip---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 54 Sparrow --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 55 Covered ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 55 Do You Ever Feel Like a Liar? ------------------------------------------------------------ 56 Saving Blueberries ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 57 Flight -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 57 Depression’s  Sonnet  II ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 58 Black Scales --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 59 308 8th West Street GI ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 63 The Desert -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------64 Truth -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 65 The Poetic Murderer ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 66 Smiles ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 67 The Caged Prince ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 68

Contributor Bios --------------------------------------------------------- 72 Index --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 75

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A Faster Horse by Morgan Tackett She stands a little too tall Her hair's a little too dull She wants a little bit more She falls a little bit short Of who she wanted to be Could this be a dream Or is it a nightmare Because  it  just  ain’t  fair When  she’s  closing  her  locker   And then somebody stops her To  see  what  she’s  doing  on  Friday And  she  doesn’t know what to say He  tells  her  it’s  just  a  date But  she  thinks  she’d  rather  wait Because she knows just a date is just a waste of time So she smiles politely and replies I'm  sorry  but  I’m  waiting  for  someone I don't know who but I know he'll come I'm waiting for my shining prince But  I’m  running  low  on  patience I said, God can he please ride a faster horse And God said the best things are worth waiting for So  she  just  keeps  on  wonderin’ Feeling like a kid again On Christmas Eve trying to sleep But  inside  she’s  just  dying  to  peek She jiggles every covered treasure And guessing is more than half the pleasure Checking every single guy Looking him straight in the eye To see if maybe he is the one But still no one that's tried has won 3


Her precious heart over yet Because she just still hasn't met The one who's waiting now for her So she prays and waits her turn I know  I’m  waiting  for  someone I  don't  know  when,  but  I’m  sure  he'll  come I’m waiting for my shining prince But  I’m  running  low  on  patience Father dear, could he ride a faster horse But I know the best things are worth waiting for He hangs out with all the guys Content to follow at their sides Never been the center of attention Because he doesn't want the recognition He suddenly becomes negligible Because he's decent and respectable The girls he knows are just not deep Enough  to  see  what’s  underneath He doesn't know that its protection To help him make a good selection Because the first one that can see it all Will be the same that makes him fall Head over heels when she finally steals His heart away and makes him feel Like true love is really more than real He has been waiting for someone Not sure how, but he knows she'll come He wants to be her shining prince But he's running low on patience God, he prays, can you cut the waiting short But God said the best things are worth waiting for She turned a little too sharp He stepped a little too hard They laughed a little too long 4


He gripped a little too strong As he caught her from an awful fall And for the first time she finally saw An extra twinkle in his eye A sign that he was the right guy He said it was just an accident But they both knew it was heaven sent That day on the busiest street Two people were destined to meet He offered to buy her a drink And a few months later he was buying a ring They were both waiting for someone Having faith till the waiting was done Now they've met and ever since Neither one runs out of patience They ride their horse a little bit slower Thanking God the waiting is over

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Insurrection by Tiffany Cole Feel the flames of desire see the pattern leaping higher stand firmly on trembling ground respond with a mighty sound no single enemy is to blame destroying fear, it has no name and above the smoke, tumult is rising campaigns of revolt from our own devising Can you hear the people roar? We're the movement you've been waiting for! Sound the trumpet, beat the drums for something ever stronger comes savor the words as morsels sweet moving mountains with our feet and raising souls from weeping mire no false words will quench our fire

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Disconnect by Kris Olson Yet the pain never ceases. I search in my soul for a light, but only find charred remains of warmth past. Deeper still I must go if freedom from captivity of that which binds me is ever to be achieved. But my hope is minuscule in comparison to the hopelessness I now feel. Help is the word I cry out, yet what I receive is not that which I sought. Yet, it may be what is necessary. The future can only hold all that I seek: judgment long past and judgment to come. Something is sought yet, what its identity is I cannot say. My vision is clouded, direction misguided, and my path is not lit. I crawl on the ground like an insect— just as simple in reality, searching for nourishment, only mine is for my soul— searching for living water, to quench the fire which has been set to my heart as the flames burn higher and hotter. I feel the intensity rise as moment by moment I lose parts of me I once held dear, forced to lie and wait, bound by chains of agony hindering me from self-preservation, praying for assistance in this abysmal night, reaching as far as my hands can reach, straining my voice till hoarse. Will that which I seek be delivered? I cannot say. Peace is not found, forever avoiding my grasp. I search but to no avail. 7


I am met only by anguish and war within, damage inflicted beyond measure, corporeal connections severed, never again shall they be united as one.

Portrait by Jacob McCoy

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The Lustful Bug by Daniel Thomason To see in lust and not to see in mind, Is done by bugs that bare the lovely sight, They bait the dying, barren leaves that pined For  love’s  inviting  stream  of  lying  sprite. Am I a bug?—A  bug  with  mischief’s  wings That flutters—blinks? Behind those eyes a beast Whose famine lusts to take what nature brings And stares at love in platter full and feasts? If lust consumes the lustre of my eyes, Then I beseech that trueness blinds them well. The starving dove, please peck and pull and pry That sinful ebb which swayed the likes of hell! A swift and mighty bill will take away My dazzled form that moves to mock my prey.

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Barn Shelter by Carson Scott Tuttle Fear drip-drop-drips from sun-struck ice As  the  calves  drink  their  mother’s  milk. The donkey brays at streaks of light, beckoning for resurrection. At dawn the sparrows soar among the rafters, Song flowing from their spout. But  I…I am solemn stillness in the vile stink. It is here I realized, under thatch and filth, That all along I was made into their beast. Vermin, rodent of Abraham, Intruder of our peace. When you come to feed your own And you see the hole I've made Say,  “O,  this  man  cannot  be  a  man! Fly  from  my  loft,  creature  of  despair!” Fly I will! With all my wretched guilt And hide among your grain. .

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Everything is Nothing by Morgan Lee Goracke Sometimes I want to pour myself onto the page, but when I pick up my pen, suddenly, self-consciousness slams me like a truck going 90 down an interstate, windows down, music blasting, and I cannot let that pen touch the paper for fear that my secret might get out. I am nothing. And I am everything. There are days when the sunlight from the window streams in and is deafening, and  other  days  when  it  makes  me  forget  what’s  going  on   in  the  world,  but  then  I  feel  like  a  terrible  person  because  what’s   going on is important, right? I mean, I should care about that. And sometimes I do – I care too much and it consumes from the inside out because, for some reason, every problem in the world falls into my mind and into my heart and into my soul, never letting go because that sun is keeping it alive. But  who’s  to  say  the  problems  of  the  world  aren’t  supposed  to  fall   into my lap? Because where I dwell between a rock and the grains of sand in the ocean is always asking, grasping, crawling towards the souls unknown and the tears and somehow I manage to absorb them and make them my own. Nothing and everything collide in a mind and heart and soul without knowing which way is right, but is that so? In the end, the everything and the nothing become the enigma driving the sun within that one day may run into the sun from the sky below.

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Everything reaches out to nothing and nothing tiptoes towards the light,  but  it’s  one  never-ending circle of life and the fingertips of everything are actually closed eyes.

Washed Over by Crystal Prawl

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Seat Number Nine by Megan Salfrank Larry could not believe his luck. He had managed to score tickets to the 2175 Virtual Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament— the hardest tickets to get in the nation—and he had to drag along his little  sister.  Mel  didn’t  care  a  bit  about  the  virtual  games,  and  yet  here   he was, tickets in hand, climbing into the bus headed toward the stadium, Mel slumped behind him, her nose in a dusty book. He had no idea why she chose to read those things; they weren’t  worth  anything  anymore.  No  one  read  books  anymore;  it  had   gone out of style in 2050 with jumpsuits and silver. Now it was gold, cotton flannel, and virtual gaming. Larry, of course, had an avatar same as anyone else in the nation,  but  he  wasn’t  very  good  at  it.  His  round  stomach  and  heavy   legs always got in the way of the quick getaways and speed needed for the games. He liked to watch them—particularly Hyack240, his favorite  virtual  gamer  of  all  time,  and  likely  the  best  there’d  been   since Malotrope5846 had retired. Malotrope5846 had been brilliant, but Hyack240 was quick on his feet—quicker  than  he’d  ever  seen   anyone before. The Passenger Inspector scanned over the commuters, the red beam briefly lighting upon each person, mechanically counting everyone, announcing the number as it always did, though no one was paying attention, talking instead about the qualifying tournament they were all headed toward. Larry, still grumbling about having to drag along his sister, vaguely heard the voice announce, “535.  Please  take  your  seats,”  before  it  shoved  forward  from  the   curb. Larry stood next to a group of Hyack240 fans, bright-eyed, eager to talk about his favorite gamer; his sister was one of the few passengers sitting, her nose in a book, turning the yellowed pages carefully every few minutes. “I  heard  he  fired  his  trainer  again!”  one  of  the  fans  said.  Larry   listened intently to the news.  “He  lost  his  temper  again—threw a chair  through  a  window!  Finally  fired  the  useless  old  fart!”  Few   gamers kept the same trainer for long, as obsolete as they were—but

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Hyack240 always managed to fire them with a bang, creating excitement among his large fan base. “I  have  a  friend  who  works  for  the  news  station,”  a  woman spoke up conspiratorially. “She  said  they  tried  to  find  the  old  guy  for   an interview and no one knew where he was! When they asked Hyack240 if he knew what had happened to his old trainer, he got angry and  smashed  the  cameras!”  The  group  gasped  in  excited   shock.  Hyack240’s  temper  was  legendary—as  long  as  you  weren’t   the person on the receiving end of it. Larry loved listening to the juicy news about the gamers, hardly noticing when the bus arrived at the stadium and they all filed out, making their way to the gate. The lines were long, as always, but Larry  didn’t  mind.  Hyack240  didn’t  go  for  a while anyway. He had plenty of time to get to his seat. The ticket booth flashed, indicating it was ready for him to deposit the ticket. Larry reached into his pocket, finding  the  two  he’d  put  there,  suddenly  remembering  his  sister.  He’d   forgotten  to  look  for  her  when  he’d  left  the  bus.  He  glanced around panicked, then  realized  he  didn’t  want  her  there  anyway,  and  with  a   shrug, deposited both tickets into the machine. “Thank  you,  Larry  Poole  and  Melanie  Pool-ee,”  it  told  him,   always pronouncing their last name  wrong.  Larry  wasn’t  paying   attention, already walking off into the stadium to find his seat. The platform Larry used at home for his virtual gaming was the smallest size sold—only two-foot square, but the Olympic-standard platform was ten-foot square, a massive rubber contraption that sat on top levers and gears, made to move with the virtual course, rising as the path rose, and falling as cliff-sides crumbled. The experience just  wasn’t  the  same  without  the  moving  platform.   Behind the platform hung the screen, the giant glass covering the entire wall, bathing the stadium seats in its blue light. Larry squinted  at  first,  but  it  didn’t  take  his  eyes  long  to  adjust  to  the   brightness. There was seldom anyone who still needed to wear the special glasses anymore, the bins on either side of the door full of them as people filed past. It was not hard for Larry to find his seat; the stadiums were always clearly marked—section 15, row AF, seat eight. Eight was his lucky number, and Larry hoped it would be the seat chosen during 14


the half. It was one of his dreams to run the same course as Hyack240 on a real Olympic-size  platform.  It  was  everyone’s  dream.   He ignored the insults thrown at him as he pushed past to his seat. He had learned to block them out same as anyone else. He slid past them unaffected, surprised, when he found Mel already sitting in her seat, her nose still immersed in the dusty spine of the book. Larry dismissed her with a disdainful look and a roll of his eyes, turning his attention back to the platform and the screen. The judges' table sat just to the left of the platform the ten judges already in place behind the score screens, ready for the first champion gamer. On the other side of the platform stood a pedestal, on top of which sat a gold-plated helmet, the solid plastic visor lowered, showing the inscription over the forehead that read EVERLAST, the approved maker of virtual gaming helmets for the Olympics. Each champion would use the same helmet, assuring fairness, and the censor suits were always personally checked before competition to make sure no one had tampered with theirs, and then the tournament would begin. The first champion gamer was from California and only second rate. Everyone knew the best champions came from Wyoming. The gamer, known as uula-loves-la65, was given an elite level mountain course. Though one of the easier courses at that level, the gamer still did not finish, falling off the side of a crumbling edge twenty minutes into the course and booed off the platform. As the champions jumped, rolled, and sprinted through the courses—each better than the last—Larry watched earnestly, trying to catch every trick, every move, hoping to absorb the skills of those on the platform. When Hyack240 was announced, he rose with the rest of the crowd, cheering. “Mel,  this  is  the  guy  I’ve  been  telling  you  about—Hyack240. He’s  amazing,  you  have  to  watch  him!” She barely registered that he spoke to her, peering over the rim of her book momentarily, shrugging, and going back to reading. Larry ignored her, cheering louder. Hyack240 was given a volcanic course, the second-hardest of the  elite  courses.  Volcano  courses  were  Hyack240’s  favorite;  it  would   be an easy win. Hyack240 went through the course in record time, 15


taking first place and pushing Normadic_Man into second. Larry cheered loudly along with everyone else as Hyack240 pumped his arms in victory. The judges typed furiously at the score screens, and the announcer stepped forward onto the platform, shooing Hyack240 off, declaring the beginning of the half. An attractive woman clad in flannel and gold pranced onto the platform, holding a digital seat counter, which would randomly choose who would try their hand at an elite course, winning a personal audience with the champion of their choice if they managed to stay alive for five minutes. Larry sat straighter in his seat, feverishly wishing it would be him. The counter spun for several seconds, each slot stopping one at a time—section 1...5. Larry cheered, standing to his feet with the rest of section 15. The counter stopped again—row A...F! Larry yelled in excitement. Now the only ones standing were the 49 people in row AF. His sister refused to stand despite Larry's shouting, still reading her silly book. The counter spun, randomly choosing the seat number. Larry watched the numbers turn, staring as it finally ticked to a stop at seat nine. He turned to look at the seat next to him— Mel’s  seat.   She  wasn’t  even  paying  attention.  She  didn’t  realize  she’d been chosen  until  she  felt  Larry’s  eyes  on  her…followed  by  thousands of others. Mel looked up innocently from her book, catching the glare on  Larry’s  face,  and  then  looked  down  at  the  announcer  holding  the   counter. It took Mel several minutes to move from her chair. When she did, she walked almost robotically, the book left at her seat, her eyes wide as the crowd watched her make her way down the stadium seats toward the platform. Larry watched his sister slowly descend the stairs in envy; his jealous rage growing hotter as she was taken to the back and the screen lit up with the ads from the tournament sponsors. As a commercial about the newest version of a phone flashed across the screen, Larry boiled over the thought of his sister getting his dream. She  didn’t  even  play  virtual  games!  He  didn’t  know  if  she  could play them. She was a book nerd, lover of anything archaic. She barely even used her cell phone! Why was she the one to get to go and not 16


him? He loved the virtual games. They were his life. He watched every single  one  of  Hyack240’s  tournaments,  playing  the  games himself when  he  wasn’t  watching  them.  Mel  read  books.  It  was  embarrassing   really.  She  didn’t  even  wear  gold  and  flannel!   Mel reemerged in a black censor suit, the helmet slipped over her head. The announcer brought the course to the screen. It was the same mountain course that uula-loves-la65 had done. Larry watched his sister stand there, slack and slumped in the middle of the platform.  She  wasn’t  going  to  last  thirty  seconds  on  the  course.   The game counted down and the mountain loomed above the avatar. Mel began to walk forward. The crowd was silent for several minutes, watching in shock as she made her way up the mountain. When Mel had been going for four minutes, dodging rock falls and jumping from crumbling edges, the crowd erupted in a mixture of encouragement and insults. Mel continued her slow ascent, hardly noticing. Larry watched the timer tick away the minutes, sitting in silent shock as it reached five minutes, and then ten, and before he knew what had happened, his sister had finished the course. Larry did the math on his phone—if  Mel  had  been  competing,  she’d  be  in  third   place, right behind Normadic_Man and Hyack240. The crowd cheered longer and louder for Mel than they had for anyone else. Mel took off the helmet and walked off, disappearing through the back door without a word. Larry watched for her to return, but she  never  came.  It  wasn’t  long  before  the  announcer,  still  in  shock   like the rest of them, broadcasted for the next champion. Larry sat in his chair, staring blankly in front of him, not even paying attention to the champion who had begun his course. Larry  glanced  over  at  his  sister’s  empty  seat—but  it  wasn’t   completely empty. Her book still sat on the seat, cover-side down. He picked it up, turning the book over in his hands, the worn, leather spine sliding warm and smooth across his palm. He read the title, then turned to the first page. Larry  didn’t  see  who  won  the  qualifying  tournament.  He  heard   later that Hyack240 had won, going on to the Virtual Olympics in Beijing, only to fall off a virtual hang-glider into Hurricane Vivian and lose everything.

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Larry  didn’t  see  any  of  it.  He  was  too  busy  reading  Mel’s  book.   Once  he’d  started  it,  he  couldn’t  put  it  down,  asking  Mel  for  more   when he'd finished. Every time she would hand him another without a  word,  just  a  knowing  smile.  Larry  didn’t  care.  He  hardly  noticed.  His   nose was already buried in the book.

Odett from Swan Lake by Natalie Ostrander

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Asthma: The Unsolicited Attack by Crystal Prawl different triggers—the same results trauma: emotional, physical i knock softly  on  Death’s  forbidden  door,  watching  the  handle  turn timid, fearful, panicked my body collapsing, insides burning, pulse racing, breath failing constricted, immobile, Alone a soft voice invites me back, promising things to be broken tears, anguish, pained a half-hearted prayer that it would disappear; that i could be free; that it would End releasing, freeing, Breathing staying another day to fight and try to live again

Non Stop by Jose Roman

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Seasons of Haiku by Danielle Berry New birth of the grass graces hills and valleys when she sings songs of love. Sweltering hot heat burning brows and baking backs of farmers in fields. Golden gems falling to the deep dark dirt beneath leaves—swirling devils. Smells of soup and warmth guard against the gale's call and silence snow and ice.

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Dreaming of Being a Star by Alex Payne your lips move like a stuttering soliloquy reciting rehearsed lines from the prose of your mind but the subtext of your heart proves you a liar your curvaceous silhouette conceals your sly hesitance but the contours of your heart bulge through the scars in your skin not cuts but scars cuts are endodermal but these scars are endocardial they are cardinal like the color of your blood as it frees itself from the prison of your wrists shackled hate unfettered from arteries arteries so clogged that mere breath is stolen from you lungs filled with regret plagued from the infection of past deeds cloistered by apprehension and blundered trust you are recluse shamed by reckless love and blackmailed happiness trust born of a virgin too naive to discern and your bones were made of glass, stained glass stained blue by despair and shattered by cutting bitterness from broken promises the cons in their speech led to knives in your back your pride lies murdered in the streets of abusive relationships you’re  abandoning  ship but smooth seas never made a skilled sailor so you take a ship called emotion and sail her sail her farther west than sins were cast joy castrated from your heart a weary soul casts a shadow of impotence on unsuspecting travelers but you travel alone bearing the burden of darkness entirely willing to trade intimacy for a quiet conscience and passion for sane thoughts you travel alone a lone wanderer or maybe a soul wanderer they say not all who wander are lost but you are lost 21


shipwrecked in a teeming town of solitude your eyes are like Paris in the rain dark but still lovely abandoned yet hopeful a contradiction the antithesis of optimism but not quite a pessimist with ambitious dreams and lofty aspirations self-pity is a temptation that leads to self-depravation and allusive fantasia you’re  a  dreamer with your head in the clouds and an anchor on your ankles the immobility is paralyzing you linger with your head high, but your spirits downcast your sun was cast down from its conceited throne and thus ceases the illumination of the moon so you waltz with stars though they burn you, they save you though they cut you, there you find salvation you envy the stars they fall when they desire shoot daydreams in beams of freckled light to a lamenting earth and people are always thrusting dreams upon their shimmer but as those stars grow brighter your light fades dimmer, dimmer, dimmer until the only lightness about you is a free spirit unabridged apathy bridges the gap between body and soul now  your  arms  are  your  mind’s  diary your  heart’s  monologue logging every affliction affectionately writing love on your arms hoping someone might speak your language but your silent screams fall on deaf ears and colorblind eyes as you lie in bed at night dreaming of being a star you have a faint hope a faint hope that tomorrow will be a different day

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Divorce by Cheryl Ratliff Worn and tattered became my breast, And all the things in me you loved best, Then gone, gone, gone Vanished like a desert oasis, My mirage man, You were gone. My heart— A broken vessel— Spilled an ocean of anguish And our dreams drowned Waiting for the life raft That would never come. But my soul Grew fins and gillsI learned to breathe again And dove deep Looking for Atlantis. But what I found Was not some fabled, golden city, no fairytale happy ending, No brave prince To save me From my loneliness. I found instead An inner light That shone through the darkness Of that great abyss That was my chest. I am a bioluminescent being. 23


The darker it gets, The deeper I go, The more I glow.

Cougar on Black by Jacob McCoy

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Narcissus Shattered by Brenna Johnson He looked down at the letter in his hands. Only the first few lines were visible, the rest were stuffed down between the pages of his philosophy textbook. My  precious  daughter… For some reason the words struck him as odd. Someone from the outside thought her precious; someone he did not know and probably never would. It meant she had once existed apart from him. Thomas shook his head. Then again, it might not mean a thing. Who was to say what a few words meant, crammed together in an effort to create significance? Mother, Father, anyone could have written the letter. He did not know who had penned those words, and until he did, they meant nothing. And so he would never read it fully; he would go on knowing her as she had been to him, and that would be enough, as it had been when they lacked nothing. His long, pale fingers stroked the rough surface of the book, tracing the embossed letters as he thought. The book was old and rough with use, the words Introduction To Philosophy barely visible in faded gold against the tan cover. For a long time Thomas stroked the book and stared out of his apartment window, grey eyes watching a barren sky. It had rained most of the day, sprinkling dark clothes, blood-red roses, and freshly turned dirt with light, delicate drops. Thomas thought perhaps he should be angry with the heavens for daring to show proper grief when he could not summon a single tear despite all his efforts. But he thought better of it because there would be nothing to receive such misdirected anger. He felt a pang at the thought. Nothing. What was left to do now? He did not know where to direct his disbelief, his anger, his doubts; the burden he once so eloquently placed on her now settled on his shoulder like a heavy, miserable cloak. A black shroud to mourn the dead, a doleful cape to lament that which had ceased to be. They had agreed to be autonomous together, but now he found that he did not know how to be alone. Not knowing what else to do, he turned slowly from the window and paced across his small bedroom until he stood in front of 25


his unmade bed. The rumpled covers made a bubble of laughter creep up his throat. So funny that they should be messy; he could not recall the last time he had actually slept beneath them. Ever since that last day, he had taken to prowling about the apartment at night like a nocturnal beast, dissatisfied with the sunlight. Now he perched uncomfortably on the edge of his bed, unable to lie down and sleep though he was desperately tired. Across the room a full length mirror leaned against the wall next to his closet, a woolen blanket hung haphazardly over its reflective face. He had placed it there on that first night, after he mistook his own reflection for a glimpse of her. The experience left him badly shaken, not with fear or grief, but something deeper that he could not explain; such emptiness he felt when his own dull eyes stared back at him. Thus the dingy blanket remained; though ugly and tattered, it was far better to see than his own listless eyes. Thomas let his mind wander back over the day as he sat. His thoughts wandered from the room and he was back at the graveside service,  listening  to  the  preacher’s  voice  pray  over  her  coffin  and   watching drops of rain streak its glossy black surface with darker ebony trails. Dust to dust. He knew she would one day return to dust, they had discussed it many times before, but he had not expected it to be so soon. In all their long conversations and weary conclusions, he had never fully understood what it meant to be dust, to be destined only for dust. Life with her allowed him to escape from truth for a while, but after she left him it curled up next to him where she used to lie, and pleaded  for  his  attention.  Again  he  heard  the  preacher’s  words.   Dust to dust. We commit thy spirit— Where? He could not remember where they committed her spirit to, only that it seemed like nonsense at the time. Strange that he should now wish more than anything to know where the preacher had conducted her spirit. Thomas clasped his head in his hands, scuffed the shaggy hair roughly from his face, and demanded the tears to come. But nothing came. The bitterness of their last days together built a dam that steadily forestalled the grief he wished to feel. All he could do was 26


wearily lower his lids and accept what emotions and memories the past produced. She came to him doubtfully that morning, wrapped in winter clothes and looking breathlessly cold. The stormy contemplation of her face that he expected was replaced by an eerie quiet, a steady resolve that frightened him more than any look of passion. He knew then that she had figured something out, and that she had done it without him. She handed him his philosophy textbook and thanked him for the loan. “Come  in  for  a  bit?”  he asked, opening the door a little wider. She looked at him uncertainly and shuffled her feet on the gray concrete  steps.  “Oh,  I  don’t  know…”   For some reason the doubt in her eyes infuriated him. Before he had always known why she doubted, why she looked uncertain. He had never been the cause of the doubt, though he often reflected it. They stood there suspended for a moment or two before she finally heaved a little sigh and came in, doubts and all. She shed her coat, and he thought about how lovely she was, a perfect distraction in a world where distractions were the only thing that mattered. Long, dark hair, a slender body, and delicate, almost frail features. Standing there in the middle of his tiny, sparsely furnished living room, she again looked like she belonged in his world, if only for that moment. But now she looked at him with those big, sorrowful eyes, and all the disbelief they had once shared pooled in her gaze and came charging back at him and only him. Thomas felt the anger boil up again, and this time it would not stop.  “What?”  he  demanded,  flinging  the  words  through  empty  air.   “Why  do  you  keep  looking  at  me  like  that?”  The  words  hurt  as  they   zipped off his tongue, but they were necessary. “I’ve  been  thinking,”  she  whispered.  “Thinking  about…things.”   She  breathed  out  slowly.  “And  it’s  not  enough.  You  and  I,  we’re  not   enough.”   “What  can  you  possibly  be  talking  about?”  he  demanded.   “What’s  enough  anyways?  There’s  nothing  to  say  what  enough  is.  We   just  are.  You  know  that.  We’ve  talked  about  it.”  The  words  came   rapidly now, and she must have been glad her coat was off because he 27


felt the  air  grow  hot  around  him.  “You  said  that  if  we  wanted  to  make   something of this life we may as well get on with it. No more waiting. No more thinking. Only doing. Because  that’s  all  there  is  to  it.  You  and   I…we  decided  it  together.  Like  it  says  in  the  book.”  He  gestured   helplessly to his textbook, which rested on the table by the door, lying next to his keys and a half-off coupon for  barbeque  wings.  “Together,   Lil. Together  we  should  be  enough.  What  else  is  there?”   “I  don’t  know”  she  said  tearfully,  her dark head lowered against his  anger.  “I  don’t  know,  but  neither  do  you  and  that’s  the  problem.   You  don’t  want  to  know.  You’re  happy  how  you  are. But  I  can’t…I  can’t   believe it. Not  truly.”  She  raised  her  chin  up  slowly,  and  he  detected   soft defiance in her  gaze.  “Walk  with  me,  Thomas.  Let’s  talk  some   more. Let’s  figure  something  out.  Something  real.”   He  looked  at  her  and  knew  he  had  lost  her.  “We’re  real.  We  were   real enough, anyways. I mattered to you and you mattered to me. Why should it be different now?”   “Oh  Thomas.”   Her  words  were  pity,  and  he  could  not  stand  it.  “Leave.”   “You  do  matter,  believe  me,  but something’s  got  to  matter   more--” “Leave,  please.”  He  moved  to  the  door  and  opened  it  again,  this   time to let her out. She looked at him sadly, for the last time, and put on her coat. He heard the soft whisper of fabric as she slid her arms into her coat sleeves and the raspy whir of the zipper as she pulled it snugly to her chin. She walked to the door but stopped, and standing on her tip-toes she kissed him; a brief, tender kiss before walking into the cold. The kiss startled him, not because it was out of place; no, she had kissed him many times before, but because it left him feeling fuller than he had felt without it. Her kisses had always before been the kiss of Narcissus, a desperate longing to touch a reflection that lay buried too far within to reach. Afterwards she would hold his gaze, searching his eyes for a glimpse of herself, trying to figure out what it was that stared back at her. Her kisses left him exhilarated but drained, somehow emptier. It was as if they imparted on each other their mutual barrenness through each tender touch. 28


But this kiss was different. It was full of meaning and betrayal. Through it he understood that she had found something they had agreed never to search for. She had found something more, something that was lacking in him, and he hated her for it. He coveted this element with every inch of his soul but rejected it with all the reason he possessed, and he hated her all the more for that. How many times had they shown each other just what emptiness was? Enough to convince him that they were right. But not enough for her. She was his temptress in the garden, seducing him with life that was no life; fruit from the tree of knowledge and death. Thomas blinked. It was dark and rain scattered over the pavement outside, drumming against the walls of his home. Had he slept? He often lost track of time as of late; the days ran into reverie and he did not know what became of him while his mind traveled back to revisit Lilly and her parting words. Across the room there was a sudden glitter of light. With a start, he saw that the blanket had slid from the mirror and gathered in grey a heap on the floor. Thomas watched as the pale moon briefly caught sight of its wan reflection before hiding once more behind the swollen clouds. It was then that he saw her. Lilly. Whether the moon provided a pathway for her to walk back into his world, or if she dwelt now in the shadows of night, he did not know. But there she was all the same, sitting across from him, looking sadly through a long glass window. He called out her name softly. “Lilly.”   Through the window he saw her do the same, but the cold glass muted her voice, so that he only saw her pale lips form his name. “Come  inside,”  he  whispered. She held out a hand to him. In the dull air of the night, her arm shone like white silk. He thought perhaps that she drank in the meager light from the window behind until it glowed beneath her skin. It was so beautiful, so wholly real that he could not resist. He rose slowly from the bed. 29


Crossed the room. Placed his hand against the smooth, cold glass. Her hand touched the other side of the window, shivering the icy pane between them. He wanted so badly to touch her, to feel the warmth of her skin and let her save him once more, like she used to. “It  can  be  like  old  times,  Lilly,”  he  breathed.  His  words  misted  a   cloud of warm condensation over her cool image behind the glass. “We  can  be  what  we  used  to;  just  look  at  me  and  tell  me  it  can  all  be   what  it  was.”   Her lips moved as he spoke, but he could not hear her reply over his own voice. “Please  Lil.  Just  take  my  hand  again,  let  me  guide  you  back.”   He felt the glass shiver and move, as if the window was sliding open at last. Eagerly, he pressed his hand harder to the glass, willing the space between them to disappear. At last he felt the glass give way; she was pulling him through, back to her side and all would be right again. He believed in her and she believed in him. That was the world he knew, the world he could not live without. But something was wrong. Her nails felt sharp against his skin, and she seemed to tear at his flesh with her ungentle grasp. Confusion washed over his body like hot liquid; he thought that perhaps it came from her ripping fingers. Was he bleeding? Was he still dreaming? Blackness began to wash over him as he toppled to his knees, no longer able to see her through the broken window. Her hand was gone, leaving behind angry red trails. Thomas touched the abrasions gently. Perhaps he should offer up a prayer; but how? She was gone and he was empty, just as always. In his solitude, the darkness stole over him and he was gone. Moonlight poured and pooled in the room. It danced on the cruel, jagged shards of glass scattered across the floor. It made shadows on the face of a man, lying beside an empty wooden frame that had once been a full-length mirror. One hand clutched a jagged shard of glass; soft white fingers clinging to a piece of what had been. The other hand stretched out limply, searchingly, toward shattered, empty darkness.

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Glass Vessels by Tiffany Cole Vessels of glass tottering on an unstable shelf until one manages to slip off the edge, shat ter ing on the cold tile floor. We see the pieces of the once beautiful entity and search for a reason: why would this happen? That this glass, which was so radiant and whole, would come cra shing down in an instant. Our lives are like glass tottering on an unstable shelf, and some simply fall sooner than others.

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Smoking After Midnight by Carson Scott Tuttle We walked out of a film where a man must overcome his addiction in order to reach redemption. We opened the doors to a crisp, November evening. My car was blocks away. One of my friends, who parked closer, offered to give me a lift down the street. I politely turned down his offer, saying that it was a nice night and I enjoyed the walk. Although this was true, I was hiding my true motives. I said goodnight, walking away with urgency. I lit my cigarette at 12:17 AM around a few bar-hopping undergrads, and deep inside I hoped that none of them recognized me. I inhaled quickly, too quickly mind you, and nearly choked on the smoke. I shouldn’t  have  been surprised  by  this,  by  my  body’s  natural,   physiological reaction to poisonous gas being absorbed in my lungs; I was surprised nonetheless. Observing the traffic lights, I rushed to make it across the intersection toward my car parked just a few short blocks away. The image of the smoker is the Humphrey Bogart type: lighting up in some exotic café over a glass of cold brandy. In this moment, half jogging with the smoke between my cold fingers, I do not share this image. In this moment, I am trying to get away with mischief. I am the one who sneaks a  piece  of  cake  before  we  sing  ‘Happy   Birthday’.  In  this  moment,  I  am  a  scared  child.   At 12:19, I reflected on the irony of where this all started. I see Lakota Sioux chieftains huddled in a circle, breathing deeply the burnt leaves to connect with the earth, the sky, the creatures of the night.  “How was that spiritual  practice  turned  into  this?”  I  wondered,   “This is a stick, wrapped in paper, sold to make money for men in Tennessee.” Despite my moral predicament, I inhaled again, breathing it in deeply, in honor of my past brethren. I reached my car at 12:20, but half of my cigarette still remained. All of a sudden, I was struck with the overwhelming feeling that I needed to relieve myself. It was late. The restaurants were all closed, the doors were locked, and bus-boys were all mopping the floors in unison.

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Then I saw the alley, caddy corner to the parking lot. Where else was I to go? Stumbling over the brick paved streets, I surveyed the scene. Not a soul to be found in any direction. I inhaled again, about to unzip my fly, feeling as though I would soon wet myself, when I looked up and saw the face of a great spirit. Stark orange with all-seeing blue eyes, the face sat on the tail of a shooting star of gold, and his ever watchful gaze was on my every move. I was reminded that this alley was neighbor to a local art gallery, and this gallery would often hang pieces of work for the public to behold.  Although  I  was  aware  of  this,  I  couldn’t  shake  the   feeling that this piece of work was not placed at the will of a curator, but by poetic fate. It declared loudly  for  the  streets  to  hear,  “This place, where the serfdom of human kind is likely to urinate and defecate, is under the ever  vigilant  eye  of  the  universe.” It was as if God himself was hanging over the shadows. Of course, I could not disrespect it. I had to wait for the proper time. I gazed further down the wall and saw the brother of the face. Twisted and fearful, he lurked in the shadows, preying upon the weaker ones who dared to venture deeper into the darkness. He was staring at me and my smoking cigarette. It was difficult to ignore the steaming feeling of judgment that was raining down with its gaze. This is where good and evil both dwelt, in the catacombs of the November streets. It was here that I inhaled again. Nearly burnt all the way down, the smoldering filter had little to give. Bidding farewell to the ominous faces of the brick paved alley, I strolled back to the car. Tight between my fingers, I held what was left to my lips, and allowed it to cascade inward. At 12:23, I stepped on my cigarette.

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Bricks by Cheryl Ratliff I once had a wall I believed to be Impenetrable And then His smile An unruly vine Scaled and weakened The fortress that was my heart. I hardly noticed The raping and pillaging That soon followed. All that remained— A stack of broken vows And a toppled tower. I have chosen not to rebuild. The dust is settling And I find Every little sprout Is a smile Big and bright enough To blow my house down. Why collect bricks? I've been gathering seeds. Now My heart Is a garden of love. Here. Take a flower. I have more than enough.

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Turn In Our Badges by Carson Scott Tuttle The badge has become stitched on their hearts Painfully woven into their flesh. A small brush has painted such a large mural. When did they sew it into your sleeve? When did they scratch it into your mind That only you have shame? I want to tell them to turn in their badges Like the Israelites of past generations. Burdens will not say who you are, Any more than the stars on their sleeves. I  want  to  say,  “Throw  away  your  badge!   You are so much more than that patch You are so much more than that pink scrap Of cotton and polyester.” There will come a day when they turn in their badges; When we forget the words of the Hateful. Like the phoenix, rise To a place of sanctuary.

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A Poetic Fancy by Crystal Prawl I've never exactly known what to say When forced with poetic words. Normally, I wouldn't give them the time of day. It's just food for the birds. My head is spinning And my tongue is tied. Poetry is winning... And my brain is fried! How could I wish to compete With these facetious things? This is a terrible defeat. Maybe I should try sprouting wings. In  the  end,  my  head  shouts,  “Stop  the  rhyme!” I  sigh.  “Perhaps  I  should  consider  being  a  mime?”

God’s  Canvas by Mallory Sansom 36


War Dance by Tiffany Cole Paul lifted his pack as though it were his partner, gently guiding the strap around his arm and over his shoulder. He closed his eyes a moment, and could almost swear that she was there, standing behind him, her hand firmly resting on his back. He could feel the warmth of her, and hear her subtle breathing as she leaned in towards his neck. BOOM! The ground shook and he was reintroduced to his surroundings. Clods of dirt flew through the air, bouncing off his helmet and gear. His squad was on the advance, and it was time for him to move. He followed the patterns of those ahead of him, ducking behind sand bags and stumbling into pits. He still couldn't help but flinch at the sound of gunfire, except for when the machine guns rattled off. He knew that those were armed by his brothers, and that they were carving their way through enemy lines. Across the way he saw one of his troops get gunned down. With pack in hand, he ran to the recruit while ducking his head, and slid by the injured soldier as he pulled him behind a fallen tree for cover. "What’s your name soldier?" He asked the boy, who looked to be no more than nineteen. Baring his teeth, the boy replied between laboring gasps, "Ah, J-Jason!" Paul analyzed Jason's wounds; one shot to the thigh and one through his abdomen. "I'm going to help you Jason." The boy nodded in response. Paul wrapped Jason's upper leg tightly to put pressure on the femoral artery and control the bleeding from his leg. "Where you from Jason?" Paul asked; "H... Hope, Kansas, sir." The boy struggled with his words. Paul responded light-heartedly, "I've never heard of it" Jason gave a faint smile. "Neither has anybody else."

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Paul began to apply pressure to the wound in Jason's stomach. The boy reacted by wincing and moaning in agony. Paul couldn't help but wince with him. Jason extended his hand out to Paul for comfort. Paul's automatic response was to gingerly place his hand underneath. This familiar motion instantly reminded him of her again. This time she was standing in front of him, anticipating his move. She was not smiling, but he knew she was happy—happy to be dancing again—happy to be with him. The warmth on Paul's fingers captured his attention. Jason's blood was seeping through the padding. Jason had clutched Paul's hand firmly, upon which he increased his grip rhythmically as his body began trembling. Paul pulled out extra cloth and applied more pressure to the soldier's stomach. He furrowed his brow at the sight of Jason's vital fluid pooling around his hands. "Sir," Jason's voice trembled, and Paul pulled his glance from the wound to make eye contact with the dying boy. Jason's mouth did its best to form the words at the front of his mind, but before he could make a sound he began choking on his own blood. Paul could feel Jason's abdomen rising and falling spasmodically, his breath quickening. Jason was going into shock. His body shook and his hands clutched at Paul's jacket. "It hurts!" Paul kept one hand on the wound and repositioned the rest of his body nearer to Jason's head. "I know." He brushed his free hand through the boy's buzzed hair in an attempt to comfort him. This soldier, with a mother and father, and perhaps a wife and child, was dying in his arms, and Paul couldn't think of a single word to help him. He had been trained to cut and splint and stitch and medicate, but he hadn't once been told what to do in order to comfort a dying soul. "I'm scared, sir" Jason said under his breath. Tears streamed from his eyes and mingled with the blood trailing from his chin, "I'm scared." All Paul could do was hold him. He held Jason until the trembling stopped, the breathing ceased, and the fear in the boy's eyes subsided. He held him afterwards, too, and let his mind wander for just a brief moment. 38


Yet again he was in her presence. This time he could see their room. He was on the bed and her body was leaning against his. He ran his fingers across the satin sheets and traced his hand up her arm. She shrugged and leaned into him, resting her head on his chest. He listened to her steady breathing and felt a deep love for the very life she had in her. A faint noise from the television set murmured in the background, and she hummed to herself while she grabbed Paul's arms and wrapped them around her own. "Do you know this song?" she asked him. "What song?" The silence on the battle field was deafening. In the distance shots continued to ring out, but the troops had advanced quite a distance ahead. Paul looked around. During the moments he spent with Jason, he had forgotten about the war. Now the battlefield was littered with bodies from both sides, and the lack of movement across the landscape made him feel uneasy. He came to his feet and slowly gathered his gear, his own movements seeming surreal. Paul started to trudge toward the loud booms, mechanically following the footprints of the troops that had passed through. One set of prints led him up to a corpse. He decided that he would not follow the ground with his eyes any longer.

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Untitled Sonnet by Daniel Thomason He dabbles, plays  with  words  of  lover’s  trite, Like building blocks erected by the books that pleased the timid, prideful eremite whose poems flatter glass with homely looks. He dabbles, writes to sway enticing eyes, Like  dreams  of  diamonds,  gold  and  silver’s  rates that  lace  the  paper’s  white,  a  fine  disguise where value glows, and worthless imitates. He dabbles, claims to grasp what love invokes, Like  poetry’s  inviting  lies  and  facts that wooed the girl to leave the poet broke for love and poems stick, they  don’t  attract. He dabbled wrong; his poetry was fake. He wrote of lust, not love—his first mistake.

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Renewal by Kris Olson I find myself retreating into my mind, trying to decipher all that had occurred, and to unveil what is to come. I close my eyes and when they open, I find myself standing at the end of a path on the top of a hill, overlooking two separate worlds: one, a plain of destruction and despair, while the other is a calm and strong river with a winding path. I find the decision simple in itself, yet I struggle to follow the right path while my body begins a subtle war with itself. Finally, I lunge towards the river as if in a last ditch effort to survive. I begin my walk, leaving the worn and decaying track behind me from whence I came, my feet touching the soft carpet of green grass, rather than that of the harsh stones they once traversed before. I let my feet fall slowly, suspicious at first, as cool gentle winds begin to caress my face. I find this area foreign and unusual, as that which I came from being similar to the path I so begrudgingly denied before. Confusion attempts to envelop me like a dark cloak, but a clarity somehow prevails. As I continue my walk I begin to feel strange, yet somewhat familiar emotions rise within me, as if known to me at some distant date in the past, I realize that I am relearning an ancient art, something that was lost long ago. Yet, now this antique is regained as a smile works its way across my mouth, and the crease of my brow eases. I feel a tension released in my hands and a weight lifted from my shoulders as a lighter load takes its place. I feel a warmth begin to radiate within, and a flame nearly extinguished regains its vigor, reaching new heights unprecedented. Strength returns to me with a new identity, showing itself by new means. I now lift my head and continue my journey, instead of pushing blindly with my gaze turned to the ground as it was before.

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Thirst by Cheryl Ratliff My heart is like a desert flower— I am designed to endure Drought Succulent— Named for it's conservation Rich in that scarcity Bulbous boughs break Like thunderclaps— Pour forth the multiplicity Giving more than received. It is a great talent, transformation; A noble work To create a lifeblood From arid actions. But I would not praise This martyrdom Blindly. Necessity Does not negate Such thirst. My heart is like a desert rose, Dreaming Of one good rain.

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What Childhood Has Become by Crystal Prawl Children’s  laughter—the simplest echoing thought Often followed by memories of hurt and patronization There are kids sitting alone, always waiting for a friend But no one ever comes It’s  a  painful process, this growing up Unless  there’s  a  glimmer  of  hope We wait and pray and wish for someone to come along All the while forgetting there are people near People who care, people who love —a simple, yet perfect pair of sisters Sisters, whose laughter can make the sun shine Whose smiles drive shadows away Whose giggles create a melodic triple echo when the embarrassment has ceased That is what childhood has become It is the unbreakable bond between three young girls Belonging to a slightly dysfunctional family It is the laughter of the two older siblings When the youngest has been pranked It is the love and tender care shown one Who spent the night in the emergency room It is the hope that when everything is said and done There will still be someone to turn to That is what childhood has become

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Thought by Jacob McCoy A thought has surfaced inside of my mind, An Idea, perhaps, will form with time. In line with what I think or know, From recent memories, or from long ago. Info, to and fro flows on by, And how I have a choice of which I never will know why. On and on, it becomes my own, Growing unique from the seeds that were sown, From living my life, day to day, Carefully, carelessly, choosing my way That has led me now to this very point in time, Writing down this thought that has surfaced in my mind.

Ice Drop Fairy by Hannah Gund

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Silence Speaks Louder Than Words by Morgan Tackett Red, pink, blue, purple, a cloud to display every one As  Nebraska’s  dusty  fields  quietly  engulf  the  glowing  sun   How I long to chase the sunset, carelessly, mindlessly run and run I’ve  lost  my  breath  somewhere  in  God’s  canvas  of  a  sky But as I turn to share this moment with you, much to my surprise You seem to be taking in me with your fixed, unwavering eyes In  a  crowd  full  of  people,  we  don’t  even  need  word,  signal  or  sign Just stand by my side and silently slip your hand inside mine Close  to  tears,  facing  fears,  as  long  as  you’re  here  I  know  I’ll  be  fine Draw me close in your arms so they all know where I belong This  grin  hasn’t  left  my  face  in  days,  and  my  life  feels  like  a  song As you keep step with me I think I even caught you humming along You stumble on words trying to express how you feel But  this  is  so  new,  you’re terrified, wounded, unhealed I  accept  a  pathetic  apology  for  “lack  of  better  words”   But  you  don’t  know  the  secrets  you’ve  told  me,  the  things  I’ve  already  heard When you were busy flapping your tongue, I saw straight through your guarded eyes I learned so much more amidst the silence of your disguise You tease me on the couch about my mysterious list And  I  say  you  can’t  know  a  thing  until  you  tell  me  your  wish The  laughter  and  playful  banter  continue,  but  it’s  all  just noise Until you look at me in one quiet moment and I hear your true voice The significance of a thousand unspoken words captivate my heart Whisking away anxiety, fear, doubt,  your  language…it’s  an  art The hours fly by sitting on that old familiar wooden pew No  matter  what  time  we  start,  we’ll  always  be  out  till  curfew I’ve  left  a  piece  of  my  heart  in  that  chapel  there  with  you   My tearstains on the bench; we’ve cried a time or two We’ve  walked  and  talked  for  hours,  but  those  were  just  words When your eyes showed me your  heart,  that’s  what  I  heard You speak in code so that no one really knows what lies within But you forget to hide what speaks loudest to anyone willing to listen It’s  in  the  whites  of  your  eyes  when  you’re  frustrated,  anxious,  or  hurt Or  in  their  helpless  effort  to  hide  when  you’re  scared,  nervous,  unsure But of all the tales thine eyes have told, by far my favorite one is this When their dark mysterious depths tell of hopeless, tender bliss

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The  Devil’s  Utopia by Jacob McCoy To want To need To know It seems I sow the seeds with hopes and dreams But when I reap I fail to see The reasons that I try to be A member of this coming world That feeds, excretes its own turmoil Desecrates truth and rejects the soil Loyal, only to itself I want I need To know The truth And thus be of understanding Where are the others who thirst as I? Who are not content with selfish lies Long have I searched Yet I do not find Another that yearns with an open mind I watch in dread As those who hear Refuse to listen as though they are dead Countless closed minds Confirming my phobia Trudging along in the Devil's Utopia

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The Gardener by Daniel Thomason I can recall– He plucked memory petals from brain follicles, Sowed them gracefully along paper thin lines, And injected those plantings  with  a  creator’s  pigment. He was quite the gardener– He tended to his garden with conflicting heed, For he often predicted contrary forecasts. If he expected sun, He got rain. If he expected clear, He got fog. It  didn’t  at  all  surprise him, though– Every  now  and  then  he’d  leave  his Garden in unintended hibernation. It would upset him. He tried his hardest to plant the perfect patch, The perfect garden. One day, after a long day, after all— He grew tired of his garden. The sun failed to engrave the skyline, The rain became an ocean that left his mind as a secluded island, It was nothing but dusk. He was tired. His expectations left him with nothing, So his hands became rusted rakes, And he violently ripped the soil to shreds. He was quite the gardener, If I can recall.

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Consequential Stranger by Cheryl Ratlif Thank you For your light today, A beacon for my stormy sea. Your smile radiates— a warm, crackling fire on cool evenings. Your eyes are thunderclouds; Mysterious, Alive, Electrified. Your gaze— A torrid flash— Lightning through my veins. May I admire you From a more intimate proximity? May I think of you On quiet, restless nights? May I touch your hair Gently curling at your temples? May I hold your heart? I have delicate hands.

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As the Tears Fall by Kris Olson as the tears fall my sorrow envelops me like a black cloak covering my face I begin to lose hope as the darkness starts to suffocate me peace and faith are nowhere to be found I reach out for a light or a hand-hold but my grasp is met by empty space as I begin to plummet into a shadowed dismal state my heart sinks into the bottom of my stomach as my mind begins to fail me my train of thought disintegrates, falling apart like a forgotten giant of the forest, toppled by the elements and time everything begins to be split apart until in the end nothing is left and the faint glow and glimmer of a light once held strong and brazen extinguishes for a final time into eternity

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Fall of Man by Jacob McCoy Do you know where all is good? Where things are just As they should be? Where truth is sought, caught, and shared And lies don't make it hard to see? Do you know where I can find A world untouched by sin? Long I dream by day but I Can only search within. Such a thought goes passing by, Tearing at my mind. Why children die, cannot walk, Or have to grow up blind. But talk is talk, and thought is much less To fix a mess that's only growing From the seeds that we've been sowing Since the fall of man.

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Leaving Shadows by Hannah Gund A shadow covers my face When  I  find  that  I  can’t  help  you. You stay in pain: You  can’t  find  the  way When I see it clear as day. A shadow covers my face When  I  see  I  can’t  help  you. In my sorrow and hurry I  forget  I  can’t  follow  every whim, And  I  forget  I’m  not  Him. A shadow covers my face When I see what I could do to help you. You and I both need to remember That God is Himself for a reason And is in our lives in every season. The shadow leaves my face When I find I can help you— In God’s  time.

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You’ll  Remember  Me by Drew Geiger Dancing in the courtyard Our love did overcome Both of us lost, still Our love did overcome The tires on the swings Look just as they once did Your hair was in bows And the wind on your clothes Searching deep within My life was all but yours Our bodies intertwined On the stained red wood floors This life is way too fast As I watched it follow close And now I kneel beside you Weeping with this rose And our love would grow You'll remember me, you'll remember me How I'd sit on the balcony Waiting for you to kiss me You'll remember me, you'll remember me How our bodies would lay On the swings we had made And our love would grow Sleeping in the courtyard Our love did overcome Both of us lost, still 52


Our love did overcome The murky old pond Was as deep as it could be There was mud on our face So we could hardly see Looking back on it now I really cannot stand You lying in this bed While I clinch your shivering hand I wish to never say goodbye To the love that was always true But please dear don't cry Because you remember it too How our love would grow You'll remember me, you'll remember me How I'd sit on the balcony Waiting for you to kiss me You'll remember me, you'll remember me How our bodies would lay On the swings we had made And our love would grow

And now the time has come That  you’re  going  to  have  to  go You’re  the  love  of  my  life That will never cease to show This life was the best dream, With you by my side But it's time for you now 53


To sleep one last time And our love still grows You'll remember me, you'll remember me How I'd sit on the balcony Waiting for you to kiss me You'll remember me, you'll remember me How our bodies would lay On the swings we had made And our love would grow

Tulip by Peter Hansen 54


Sparrow by Jacob McCoy Life is so easy, Sparrow on your wings! You have no need, nor care at all For riches, laws, or kings. To sail above, embracing love Would rid mankind of evil things. But here I stand, flat on the land, No wings to lift me through the air With pretty song to sing. So enjoy it for me as much as you can, Sparrow on your wings.

Covered by Tiffany Cole 55


Do you ever feel like a liar? by Crystal Prawl When warm rays caress your tender cheek, the soft taps of iridescent raindrops on the window echo through the room, the uninterrupted jingle of laughter seeps into your thoughts— Do you ever feel like a liar? When the soft embrace of care falls on your shoulders, the timid squeeze of tiny fingers wrap around a calloused palm, the gentle beating of a heart synchronized with yours— Do you feel like a liar? When your lips transfer the soft affection of your heart, the promise of another day greets the ears of another, the dirt tumbles unto the mahogany box of memories— Do you feel like a liar? I do.

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Saving Blueberries by Carson Scott Tuttle Fingers reach and save the blueberry That none would notice was there. Holds it close to her lips; Smells the leaf that was its neighbor. When she bites, she chews with purpose. Every seed is a gift. The flavor of timeless mercy. When all the life has been drawn out From the fruit's dark veins, Her stomach is filled with silent prayer. She has lived another day.

Flight by Brenna Johnson

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Depression’s  Sonnet  II by Daniel Thomason Shall I remove thine heart and mind through verse or swoon away the gloom and sentiment? To bleed through breath for thy infamous curse or choke this quill to pen my detriment? To write a line or verse is strenuous For  words  cannot  expel  description’s  fill when I can only see distressing bliss among  the  fog  that  sits  o’er  hearts  and  quills. Thou art the fog that  shades  this  poet’s  pen. Now all the world is dark and separate. Mine eyes hast judged thy beauty as mine end. My heart accepts  my  parchment’s  deficit. Thou art a rhyme that I cannot dispose, With musing I hast made the pen my foe.

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Black Scales by Megan Salfrank Miana  suddenly  realized  she  was  afraid  of  heights.  She  hadn’t   noticed it before when polishing the marble balconies of the palace, but flying through the air higher than the tallest palace tower was beyond frightening, let alone being carried in the talons of a giant, black dragon. Miana’s  terrified  screams  only  seemed  to  anger  the  beast   further; its claws wrapping tighter around her as it let out a wild, thunderous roar. She was thankful it did not breathe fire or she would likely have been a burnt meal. Taking shallow, hysterical breaths, her eyes fell on the city that sprawled beneath her several fathoms below. The people were screaming in fright at the sight of the massive black dragon soaring overheard, as they disappeared into the buildings and scurried like  mice  to  their  holes.  If  Miana  hadn’t   been so terrified she might have laughed at the sight. As it was, she quickly shut her eyes, wishing to feel the ground beneath her feet again. When her wish was seemingly granted, the ground sturdily under her feet, Miana opened her eyes but was not in the least comforted by what she saw. The dragon had set her down on the top of Mount Sukara, the sheer cliff-side dropping off not two paces from where she stood. Screaming once more and waving her arms frantically, she backed away from the edge, instead running into the dragon, its rigid, dark scales cold against her back. Miana screamed again, turning on her heel in a flash, all sanity leaving her in the terrifying moment. The dragon roared, its beating wings raising a strong wind and blowing Miana off the edge of the mountain. With another shriek, she fell, her hands grasping at whatever ledge they might find. Unable to latch onto anything, Miana tumbled through the air, destined for the painful death that lay at the bottom of the steep drop. Certain of her impending death, Miana closed her eyes tightly in fear, trying to lose herself in the comforting blackness, pretending 59


she was back at the palace, joking with Draeken instead of falling off the edge of a cliff. In a sudden swish of wind, large talons clutched around her savagely, dangerously close to skewering her in the swift motion of the  moment.  Miana’s  throat  was raw from screaming. She never thought to be grateful for her rescue as the dragon had likely only saved her in order to kill her itself—or  eat  her  alive.  She’d  heard   rumors from Draeken that dragons enjoyed their meals impeccably fresh. Miana shivered, feeling suddenly cold. The dragon had stopped flying and was carrying her deep inside the mountain through a maze of tunnels. Miana’s  eyes  shut  firmly  in  complete fear. When it finally stopped and set her down on the solid rock floor, she was afraid to open her eyes for what she might find. She felt the presence of the dragon leave and thought it safe enough to open her eyes. Slowly, she peeked through one eyelid, finding the difference in sight relatively minor. The cave the dragon had taken her to was nearly as dark as the dragon itself. It was hard to tell just where the dragon had disappeared; it could be lurking anywhere in the corners of the dark cave and Miana would not have noticed a single shimmering scale. After several moments her eyesight adjusted to the darkness, but her skin still crawled from the cold dampness, making her almost miss the drafty halls of the palace. Spotting the hold in the solid stone walls, she began to walk toward the open entrance when a heavy black tail fell in front of her, blocking her way. She jumped back in surprise, only letting out a small screech. Instead she backed away slowly, standing idle in the middle of the cave, wondering what to do next. If  Draeken  had  been  there,  he’d  have  known  just  what  to  do.   He would have had a plan to defeat the dragon, or a way to escape at least. Draeken knew all about them, having been fascinated with dragons from a young age, soaking up all the information he could glean  from  the  palace’s  extensive  libraries.  Miana  wrapped  her  arms   around herself as another shiver shook her violently. The cave was suddenly filled with a brilliant light as the dragon breathed fire onto a crude pile of sticks in the corner. The light cast 60


an  eerie  shadow  on  the  dragon’s  face  and  Miana  had  to  look  away   from fear. She welcomed the warmth, however, and sat close to the flames, away from the dark presence of the dragon. It seemed content, however, and settled down to sleep, its wings folded gently against its back. For a moment, the beast seemed almost beautiful, the fire bringing out strange hues in its scales. Squinting, Miana could see a striking mosaic of purple, blue, and gold where before she had seen black. In awe, she continued to stare at the dragon until the beast awoke, staring back. Its eyes were the lightest shade of blue, the color of the early morning sky. Only one other pair of eyes matched that shade of blue. Embarrassed from being caught staring, and from the sudden thought that ran through her mind, Miana broke her gaze, staring instead at the cold stone floor. She felt the dragon watching her, but never looked, afraid of what she would see in those haunting blue eyes. Eventually the heavy breathing of the dragon evened and Miana knew it had fallen asleep. This was her chance. She would have to escape now or be eaten for dinner. Silently, she cursed Draeken for leaving her alone. If he had been there, she would never have been  taken  by  the  dreadful  dragon  in  the  first  place  and  wouldn’t  be   escaping for her life now. As quietly as possible, Miana made her way to the doorway that  had  been  previously  blocked.  The  dragon’s  tail  had  curled  just   enough in its sleep to let Miana pass through the stone opening, giving a last glance at the dragon sleeping soundly in the corner. She would miss the warmth of the fire once she arrived outside in the oncoming  winter,  but  she’d  rather  be  freezing  and  alive  than  be   warm and eaten for dinner. The large tunnel branched off in two directions. Caught in indecision,  she  couldn’t  tell  which  led  outside,  so  she  took her best guess and went left. The tunnel wound about for several paces before it opened into another empty cavern, as cold and empty as the one she had just escaped. Miana stood in hesitation, trying to decide which was wiser: to continue on through the caverns, hoping to find an outlet, or turn back and take the tunnel right. The thunderous roar of the dragon as 61


it woke to find her missing was incentive enough to continue forward. She picked up her pace, running through the maze of tunnels, glancing behind to see if the dragon was following her. Every few minutes she could hear its wild roar shaking the rocks loose from the walls. Several pelted her as she ran, but she paid them no mind, focused only on trying to escape her fate. She passed through several large caverns, each colder than the last, until she rounded a corner and saw a strange glow coming from ahead. Hoping it meant daylight, she hurried through the stone archway, just missing being hit by a large rock that fell from the ceiling as the dragon roared in anger once more. Miana came to an abrupt halt just inside the cave. The glow had not been that of daylight, but from the large hoard of gold that was piled there. She gaped at the sight, never having seen so many riches at once in her life. It was a single item, however, that made her step forward. She cradled the figurine in her hands. The small jade dragon had  belonged  to  Draeken;  he’d  never  let  it  out  of  his  sight.  The   figurine  had  been  a  present  from  his  father,  the  last  he’d  received   from the man before his death. It was a precious keepsake for Draeken,  and  the  fact  that  it  was  here,  amidst  the  dragon’s  golden   hoard, could only mean one thing. Turning, Miana found the dragon watching her silently by the door, the pale blue eyes searching hers. Miana shivered, holding the jade  figurine  close  to  her  heart.  Meeting  the  dragon’s  eyes,  she   gathered her courage and took a tentative step toward the beast. The dragon roared loudly, shaking the pile of gold behind her, several rocks falling loose off the walls and ceiling. Miana heard the sadness in the cry, however, and could see the tears fall from the pale blue eyes. One of her own gently falling down her cheek, Miana took another step closer, the question ready on her lips. The beast let out another mournful roar, the golden hoard falling in loud crashes on the stone floor and more rocks coming loose,  nearly  hitting  Miana.  The  dragon’s  tail  moved  just  in  time,   pushing her out of the way. Miana fell back, the boulder that would have crushed her splitting into pieces between her and the dragon.

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When she was pushed back, the jade figurine flew from her fingers, shattering into small, jagged pieces. The dragon roared loudly again, the sound rumbling through its body furiously as if something was inside trying to escape. Miana watched as a thousand pinpoints of light appeared across the dragon’s  body,  as  if  all  the  stars  in  the  heavens  had  attached themselves to its scales. The light grew brighter and Miana had to close her eyes to keep from being blinded. In another bright burst of light the pile of gold was scattered across the cave and the stone ceiling began crumbling, ready to cave in. The light dimmed and Miana opened her eyes again, looking around at the wreckage. Finding herself bruised in several places, she looked around for the dragon, finding instead the familiar body of a man. “Draeken?”  

308 8th West Street GI by Peter Hansen

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The Desert by Jessica Bos Across the barren desert little is seen Flickers of movement testify to the hidden life The sun blazes down, burning all in sight In a desolate land there is little hope All that can be expected is painful endurance Creatures great and small live without living Greed and selfishness become necessities The desert gives nothing and takes all As an unrelenting slaver it consumes Yet faith remains in such a place Though none could possibly survive A flower, fragile as the dawn, faces its foes And it overcomes.

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Truth by Jacob McCoy One would think He'd come to see The reasons why he came to be Yet on and on As lies were told He slowly slipped into the fold That told him truths so absolute And fed his mind with rotten fruit I stand and watch him from afar with others who search for who they are Sadly their love for me has waned Yet I fret not and feel no pain I'll still be here for him and others Patient as the truest lover offering what only I can bestow On those who simply wish to Know I am Truth

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The Poetic Murderer by Daniel Thomason To  rip  a  poet’s  right is quite insane, For pens refuse to ache in censorship. They’ll  weep  and  tear  away  their  racing  veins, To spill dramatic words, a manuscript. A story writ about a homicide, Where  death’s  confession  stains  the  killer’s  pin. The proof it lies betwixt a finger scythe, The  poet’s  blade  that  hacks  its  lover’s  skin. The mind detectives try to solve the case, But evidence is lost in foggy strolls, Where mind detectives walk along the face Of deathly grates of parchment: case is closed. The poet kills his love in hopes of change, And gets away with homicide and gain.

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Smiles by Crystal Prawl I always thought I'd see your smile. It was never questioned. The grins, the tentative smirks— They were always going to be there. But then a time came when they were not, And the suffering has been endless. I've looked for some salvation Through tattered, dusty photographs— In them I've found some comfort. But as my fingers slowly trace the ghostly images The memories begin to slip and fade. I always thought I'd see your smile— I never thought I'd be forced to say, "Goodbye."

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The Caged Prince by Maegan Detlefs We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are. (The Talmud) Once upon a time, in a very small kingdom, lived a young Prince and  his  mother,  the  Queen.  The  King,  having  left  during  the  Prince’s   youth, had not been seen for a very long time, so the Prince and his mother were quite alone in their quaint kingdom. This fact did not bother the Prince, for he had never known anything else. In fact, he had never even left his castle. Now  don’t  feel  sorry  for  our  young Prince, for his castle was very beautiful, and held everything he needed. In the afternoons the Prince would swim in his two sparkling pools, both with a small waterfall and lovely places to sit and to leisurely bathe. Then, he would often walk the courtyard, climbing the luscious green trees that surrounded his habitat. Finally, at night, he was able to retreat back to his quarters, dry, comfortable, and warm. And while the Prince and his mother never left the castle, the castle was made entirely of glass, which allowed them to always see their subjects without ever having to leave their lovely home. Their subjects, though as loyal as could be, seemed odd indeed to both the Prince and his mother. They neither looked nor talked the same as their royal counterparts. They seemed to understand each other but any words the Prince or Queen tried to share with them they did not grasp. And while the royal family could not communicate with their subjects, their subjects anticipated their every need. Every day their subjects would bathe them, groom them, and feed them three times a day. Anything the Prince and Queen would need they almost instantaneously knew and fulfilled it. The Prince even remembered a time when he had been especially bored on a dull afternoon and when he had finally lost hope that anything of interest would happen that day. He found a young subject of his pressing his face up against the outside of their glass  castle.  The  youngling’s  face  was  so  hilarious  to  the  Prince  that   he clapped his hands  wildly  and  began  to  mimic  his  subject’s  face.   68


They continued with this game for several minutes until the subject was pulled away by what the Prince could only guess was his young subject’s  mother.  The  Prince,  outraged  by  this  blatant  disregard  for   his needs and entertainment, yelled and screamed for the youngling to be returned at once, but, with fear in her eyes and her small one in tow,  she  clearly  did  not  understand  the  Prince’s  commands. The subjects thoroughly confused the Prince, and he began to ask his mother questions about why their subjects served them blindly without even knowing what they were saying. The Queen smiled  and  began  brushing  through  her  son’s  hair,  grooming  him,  as   she usually did. “Well,”  the  Queen  cooed,  “We  give  them  purpose  my little darling. If they did not feed us, and clean our castle, and protect us, what  else  would  they  have  to  do  with  their  time?”  The  Queen  giggled   as if this was the most obvious answer in the world. “But  mother,”  the  young  Prince  replied,  “how do they know what  we  need?” “I  told  you, son, serving us is what they are born to do.”  The   Queen turned the Prince so that she could look into his brown eyes. “Do  you  know  how  lucky  we  are?  Have  you  ever  thought  about  how   wonderful  the  life  you  lead  truly  is?”   The  Prince  shook  his  head,  “I  thought  everyone  in  our  family   had  lived  like  this.” “No!”  The  Queen  replied  shortly.  “You  never  knew  your   grandfather, but he was the first of the mighty kings. When I was a girl he told me stories of how our kind was forced to live in the forests. We had no shelter other than the trees and the rocks we could use as refuge. We had to gather our food, even hunting when necessary.  We  had  no  subjects…no  castle…we were no better than a common animal.”  The  Queen  shivered  at  her  description of such a horrid life. “Then  how  did  we  come  to  this  castle?”  the Prince asked, very interested in his newfound heritage. His mother, looked at him once more, thankful for the opportunity to think of something other than the squalor their kind had once been a part of. “Well, your grandfather was brought here and these subjects practically  begged  him  to  lord  over  them.”  She  smiled. “I  guess  they   69


knew a leader when they saw one. Anyway, your grandfather never let me forget the honor and blessing it  was  to  live  in  a  place  like  this.” The Prince nodded in agreement, and while he did agree that they lived a wonderful life of privilege, he could not shake the vision of his grandfather living among the forests and the trees. Having the freedom to roam as  high  and  as  far  as  he  wanted.  The  Prince  couldn’t   help but feel there was something appealing about that life. Like in some ways, it could even be better. He dwelled on these thoughts for a good long while, until the subjects interrupted his reflections with that day’s fresh fruit: their offering of lunch to the royal family. Having his food brought to him by his loyal and loving subjects calmed any doubts the Prince had been having about their current way of life. “After  all,”  the  Prince  thought  to  himself,  “Mother  is  right.   What  could  be  better  than  a  life  such  as  this?”  And  with  that  thought,   the Prince leaned back against his seat, plopping a sweet berry into his mouth. *

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A few years later, when the young Prince had grown into his adolescence, he suddenly found himself very ill. The Queen was beside herself with anxiety about the health of her beloved, and the future  heir  to  her  throne.  The  Prince’s  weakness  was  evident  to   everyone in their kingdom, including their subjects who began to take special care of the Prince, feeding him only the finest fruits and greens in the land. However, despite their best efforts, the Prince could not regain his strength. One night, after the Prince had had a terrible bout of chills, fever, and restlessness, he heard the rustling of his subjects coming into the castle. “How  odd,” The Prince thought to himself. “It  is  much  too  late   for my subjects to be walking about our castle. I wonder what they are  up  to.”  But  no  sooner  had  he  finished  this  thought when he was plunged into darkness, a bag placed over his head, and he was tied up and thrown into a cage.

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“It’s  a  revolt! Put me down at once! I  WON’T  STAND FOR THIS!”  The  Prince  roared,  but  the  subjects  did  not  understand  him.   And no matter how loud his yells,  they  didn’t  seem  to  care.  As  they   journeyed out of the castle walls, the Prince grew fearful. He had never  been  outside  the  castle,  and  he  certainly  didn’t  know  what  his   subjects were capable of. He continued to worry and fret until exhaustion finally overtook his body, and the Prince could do nothing but give into his desire to sleep. When he awoke, he could see nothing but a harsh blinding light. The Prince looked around the room, trying to regain his sight, but everything was bright, white, and shiny. There were no trees or pools.  He  couldn’t  even  see  his  castle.  He  was  strapped  down  to  a   table, surrounded by many of his subjects all wearing long white robes. They poked and prodded him with sharp needles, force-fed him chalky tasting nuts that he despised, and spoke around him in their language which he did not understand. After listening carefully, he began to realize that they had devised a name for him, the name, “Jimph”.   Eventually, they moved the Prince from the white room into a small metal cell. It held a hammock and a little food and water. The Prince walked over to his water dish, so thirsty he could barely move. He drank from it, and closing his eyes thought back once again to what his mother had said. He found that at this moment he did not long for home or his castle. Instead, he felt a primal longing. A longing  to  be  free,  a  longing  to  live  a  life  like  his  grandfather’s: to feel the earth underneath him, to drink from cool streams and to sleep in tall trees. The Prince opened his eyes and stared at his reflection. It was the first time he had looked at himself in days. He saw his sad brown eyes, his crinkled flat nose, the brown hair that covered his entire body. Feeling sad and lonely, the Prince resigned himself to his bed. He lay there for a while, waiting for sleep to overtake him. And as he rocked slowly from side to side, he noticed the sign above the prison door, and could not help but wonder what it meant. It was written in the language of his subjects: Los Angeles Zoo. Chimpanzee. Age 16. Relocation. 71


Contributor Bios Danielle Berry is double majoring in Theater and English at York College. She loves both of her majors with a passion. She is from Falls City, NE. Her other hobbies include embroidery, crafting, sewing, and crocheting. Back home, Danielle has two awesome pets: a dog named Luna and a cat named Adventure.

Jessica Bos is a sophomore Business Management major at York College. She enjoys writing poetry as a hobby, but much more than that, she enjoys being a part of  other’s  lives,  even  in  such  a  way  as   sharing her poetry.

Tiffany Cole is an aspiring artist who has a great appreciation for poetry, music, animals, and sports.

Maegan Detlefs is a senior Theatre and English major from Spearfish, SD. She is a member of the York College Concert Choir, Celebration Singers, Alpha Chi Honor society, Alpha Psi Theatre Honor Society, and is Vice-President of Sigma Tau Delta. She currently lives in York, NE with her husband Stephen and their dog Maybe.

Drew Geiger is from Colorado Springs, CO. He loves to hike in the mountains. He loves listening to music as well as writing it. He is a huge video game nerd who loves to play Minecraft and Call of Duty. He really enjoys writing poetry and lyrics. Most of all, he loves to try new things and experience different interests.

Morgan Lee Goracke is a sophomore, majoring in English and Theater. She hails from Beatrice, Nebraska. Her interests include all things theatrical, words, strong coffee, and hugs. She claims she is terrible at writing bios and would prefer that you believed she was raised by wild panthers and swung from vines in the jungle. 72


Hannah Gund is a freshman majoring in Psychology from Marion, IL. She enjoys photography, writing, reading, and being social. She as a member  of  the  YC  women’s  soccer  team.

Peter Hansen is a senior Art Education major from Concord, California. He is president of Kingsmen and a member of SEAN. He enjoys painting, drawing, and his work with photography.

Brenna Johnson is a junior English major from Great Falls, Montana. She enjoys writing, reading, music, photography, hanging out with friends and family, and life in general. Someday she hopes to write and travel—and she hopes she will be paid to do it. Lastly, she hates writing third-person bios.

Jacob McCoy loves to experience life and nature. He feels blessed to have an amazing wife with whom to share it.

Kris Olson writes  poetry  when  it  comes  to  him.  Unfortunately,  it’s   often sad. He has played soccer at York for four years and hopes to continue to play soccer and write down what surfaces.

Natalie Ostrander is a freshman with a major in Biology. She was raised on a ranch in rural western Nebraska and enjoys reading, drawing, dancing, and singing.

Alex Payne is a freshman, double majoring in Biology and Psychology. She is from a small town in North Texas, plays basketball, and loves music and writing. Her favorite thing to do is write; she considers it the most beautiful art form.

Crystal Prawl is a senior English major from Grand Island. She is involved in the York College Concert Choir and is president of Omega Phi and Sigma Tau Delta. She hopes to one day work in the publishing industry as an editor. 73


Cheryl Ratliff has been writing poetry for 20 years, and her body of works includes two poetry books, Words Softly Spoken and A Year of Growth. She is a Psychology major hoping to work in Art Therapy. She is the mother of a two-year-old boy, River.

Jose Roman is a veteran of the United States Army. He is the father of three grown children. He is currently finishing his B.A. in Bible Science. His goal is to finish college and begin his ministry.

Megan Salfrank is a senior English major from Wamego, Kansas. After  graduation,  she  hopes  to  go  on  to  get  a  master’s  degree  in   creative writing and work in publishing.

Mallory Sansom is a junior Biology major from Baldwin City, Kansas. She is on the York College volleyball team, active in Theta Psi social club, and a member of Alpha Chi National Honor Society. She enjoys volleyball, biking, being outdoors, baking, and spending quality time with family and friends.

Tiffany Shimp is a junior Business Communication major from Longmont, Colorado. She plays soccer and enjoys long walks outdoors when  it’s  not  too  windy. She would like to thank Unvarnished Words for another opportunity for TiffanyS photography to be published.

Morgan Tackett is a junior math major from Ohio. She plans on going into actuarial science or tutoring after college. She is a member of  the  women’s  soccer  team,  Theta  Psi  social club, YCM, and is secretary for Student Association.

Daniel Thomason says,  “I’m  a  poet  like  everyone  else.  I  just   remember to write everything down.”

Carson Scott Tuttle has been writing short stories and poetry for nearly six years. Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, he draws inspiration from friends, family, and faith in a Creator. He would like to thank his loved ones for encouraging him along the way. 74


Index Berry, Danielle Seasons of Haiku ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 20 Bos, Jessica The Desert ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 64 Cole, Tiffany Covered---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 55 Glass Vessels -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 31 Insurrection ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6 War Dance ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 37 Detlefs, Maegan The Caged Prince ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 68 Geiger, Drew You’ll  Remember  Me------------------------------------------------------------------------- 52 Goracke, Morgan Lee Everything is Nothing ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 11 Gund, Hannah Ice Drop Fairy ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 44 Leaving Shadows ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 51 Hansen, Peter 308 8th West Street GI ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 63 Tulip --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 54 Johnson, Brenna Flight --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 57 Narcissus Shattered -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 25 75


McCoy, Jacob Cougar on Black --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 24 Fall of Man ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 50 Portrait ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 8 The  Devil’s  Utopia -----------------------------------------------------------------------------46 Sparrow --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 55 Thought ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------44 Truth -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 65 Olson, Kris As the Tears Fall --------------------------------------------------------------------------------49 Disconnect ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 7 Renewal --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 41 Ostrander, Natalie Odette from Swan Lake -------------------------------------------------------------------- 18 Payne, Alex Dreaming of Being a Star ------------------------------------------------------------------ 21 Prawl, Crystal A Poetic Fancy ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 36 Asthma: The Unsolicited Attack ------------------------------------------------------ 19 Do You Ever Feel Like a Liar? ------------------------------------------------------------ 56 Smiles ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 67 Washed Over --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 12 What Childhood Has Become ---------------------------------------------------------- 43 Ratliff, Cheryl Bricks-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 34 Consequential Stranger --------------------------------------------------------------------48 Divorce ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 23 Thirst -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 42 Roman, Jose Non Stop -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 19

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Salfrank, Megan Black Scales --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 59 Seat Number Nine ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 13 Sansom, Mallory God’s  Canvas -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 36 Shimp, Tiffany The Tunnel ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Cover Tackett, Morgan A Faster Horse -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3 Silence Speaks Louder Than Words ------------------------------------------------ 45 Thomason, Daniel Depression’s  Sonnet  II --------------------------------------------------------------------- 58 The Gardener ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 47 The Lustful Bug ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 9 The Poetic Murderer ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 66 Untitled Sonnet -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 40 Tuttle, Carson Scott Barn Shelter --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10 Saving Blueberries -----------------------------------------------------------------------------57 Smoking After Midnight -------------------------------------------------------------------32 Turn in Our Badge -----------------------------------------------------------------------------35

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