Category Archives: 2017-2018

Fall’s Silence

By Heaven Angleberger

Dad and I approached
the dimly lit winter woods
careful not to crunch

loud leaves under our
cold feet. The rasping wind swarmed
about our bodies,

causing us to sway.
We staggered up the mountain
as the sun began

to rise, its shadow
looming over our painted
camouflaged faces.

We walked in silence
closing in on our hidden
destination that

hung high in a tree.
I found myself thinking twice
about the steep climb.

With my heart racing
and my vision a mixture
of red and orange,

I stood very still
taking in my surroundings.
Birds sung their own songs,

deer tracks seep in soil,
wind echoed off the trees,
my own breath falling.

I focus on the
synchronizing beat of my
heart with the fading

sound of my footsteps.
I’m left with only the sound
of my steady breath.

 

 

Expired Symbiosis

By Aevin Mayman

Once, I was your
leaf, you were my
stem. I gave you everything;
love, light, time, hope,
and you held me up
to the light and through it
I let myself pour everything
down to
you.

I thought that was how it was going to be.
That we would be locked
in this symbiosis of devotion
until the brilliant end.
But now it has changed.

Always blindly moving forward,
trying not to care as much,
you decided to leave your
exquisite nature in that last
fallacy of a hotel room.

The you I used to know is gone.
It was left behind when you decided
long-term-love wasn’t as exciting
as it once seemed.

Maybe you’re too loose in
your skin to find meaning behind a
kiss.

Do you remember when you used to love me,
or the trip we took to the desert–
before you thought me too uneventful to love?

On the sand you also wore on your skin,
I traced patterns of a life we could have lived.
The life I thought we would.

Greedy waves of air curled in from
outside our window,
plucking away this love of ours
with long, selfish fingers.

The CD spun and called out
to some indifferent God with its song:
together forever.”

Do you remember,
under more of a sky than we had ever seen in our city,
how we verified each other’s existence
with star light?
How we used to be able to read the curves
of each other’s bones
like maps to salvation?

But time has passed.

This Infinity Knot of ours has broken.
We have grown.
We have changed.

I am strong.

Your life is marked with nothing but
zeroes.

To M, With Love

By Ellie McFarland

I see you orange,
like the volcano you must
be made of.  

The lava that pours from your veins.
You are made of cursive smoke
swirlings and silence.

You and I burn out
all at once, like two
matches lit at the same time.

And you are as warm as the flame
was, tell me it’s alright if
I’m not. You say it’s okay to be cold.

But you
still say I’m the warmest one,
that you’re the snowman and I’m the scarf around its neck.

I think that we’re the
most poetic thing. Like sitting
on your bed in card game laughter and

relating in ways
neither of us thought we might
ever feel.  

Tied together by
the same diagnosis, same
ticks and coping tricks.

If the light gets too
bright I start pulling out my
hair. But you’re solar

irradiance lit
in rays of
pure understanding.

Because if Ra was
real, he would be you,
and your celestial warmth.

And you melt all the
ice from my body even
when it’s still snowing.

You say that black soaks
up the most sunlight, and you
are all the sunlight.

You’re manic disassociation
and Van Gogh
inspiration in

yellow acrylic.
And even so, I should say “I love you”
a bit more often. 

He Planted Roses

By Derek Frazier

Rest In Peace, Robert Frazier Sr.

My grandfather was a great man. He could’ve lit up a room with his laughter and smile. He grew roses, these beautiful scarlet blossoms that ringed the perimeter of his house. He also drank his coffee decaf, and played golf like a professional. Granddad also had a history with heart problems. Nine years ago he had a triple bypass surgery, out of fear that something would happen to him.

I got the text from my father during my Creative Writing class. “Mom and I are at the hospital. Nana took Granddad in an hour ago.”

“Do you want to come up so you can say goodbye?” my mother asked when she called.

An hour later I carpooled with my sisters to Bedford to be with him in his final moments. I held my breath in the elevator to his hospital room. My father told me what happened as we hugged. Granddad had a massive heart attack. He dropped to his bathroom floor and was rushed to the emergency room after my grandmother, Nana, heard him fall and called for paramedics. When we got there my parents and grandmother were already there. Their eyes were bloodshot and their faces were slick with tears. Granddad was wrapped in a blanket, poked in three different places with needles and tubes, and a oxygen mask was strapped to his face.

Each gasp of breath, every shudder of his body, felt like his last.

There were ladybugs in his room. Totally at home, their red carapaces contrasting with the white walls.

“You can talk to him,” my mother said as she pulled me close. “He can hear you.”

I didn’t know what to say. A part of me thought it was silly, he had trouble hearing even with hearing aids. What would you say to a man who came to every birthday party? And sent Christmas cards with checks tucked inside?

What would you say? To a man with milky eyes, and diagnosed by the doctor as brain dead?

“Hey Granddad,” I choked out, “Thank you.” I had to say it several times because I couldn’t hear it over the sound of my own sobs. “I promise,” I said, “I will be a man you’ll be proud of.”

I am a helper, it’s how I was raised. Being told, “There’s nothing you can do except sit and keep him company,” was the hardest thing I’ve ever heard. I held his hand, and I could feel the lead of his bones as his body twitched and spasmed.

And I prayed dozens of prayers that I didn’t remember learning. They spilled from my mouth like pennies.

“Be strong,” I kept telling myself. “Be strong for Nana.”

My father told me once that he was surprised I didn’t want to become a doctor. The reason is because losing people isn’t in my nature.

There’s so much I wish I could have shown my grandfather that now I’ll never get the chance to: my wedding, high school graduation, my first dinosaur discovery, his great granddaughter.

Granddad said he always wanted wanted to donate his body to science. Maybe the Buddhists are right: that matter and life are reborn for new growth or the next life. Even now, planning to tattoo one of his roses on my arm, I keep thinking about all the lives that he will save. It could be anyone; a teenager in Colorado, a transplant patient in New York, a little boy who needs blood. His very cells could cure cancer one day.

So with that thought at least, I am content. And I look forward to seeing him and his beloved roses in his next life.

 

Syd Barrett Is Still Alive In Bosnia

By Nathanael Retherford

We can’t take this,
or young boys squatting in creek beds
with kalashnikovs.

A folk song
that chops back and forth with its rhythm
like a butcher.

Never again, we said,
while Republika Srpska
laid sieges over birdsong.

While church bells rang in
sudden dissonance—
While the world smiled on
with cold detachment—

A horror so fresh you would think
it would be unforgettable, but
faded into VHS background
and scan lines…

Distorted guitar that pierces
still hollow silence in Sarajevo.
Look!
Syd Barrett is still alive in Bosnia,
where his voice cries out
umiremo, bosnia pati
You and I and Dominoes
The day goes by.

Dissociation and Light of the Wishing Mind

By Aevin Mayman

Heaven in Your Side View Mirror

Raindrops shining in
your side view mirror like hydrogen
balls of fire, like those
damn-near-too-many-to-count stars.

If you could make wishes
on those tiny fireballs maybe for once
you’d feel as there as
the sky that holds them.

Roads of shadow and twisting
trees line the road on either side of you
under polluted skies of light and somber,
is it dawn or just downtown?

The celestial line has been broken,
cracked by the lightning that once formed its arches,
reality is currently less of a concept
and more of a “wish-I-may, wish-I-might.”

Streaks of fluorescent building signs–
neon life choices pass you by–
long roads and too-close clouds;
Heaven in your side view mirror.

——————————

Twilight Delights

Maybe the rain blinds you.
Maybe it blurs your vision, or
maybe it darkens the sky that is held
in the prism of your windshield.

Maybe you can’t see the stars.
Maybe you never could, or
maybe your perception of this world
has been skewed to hide them from sight.

Or maybe it doesn’t.

Maybe it illuminates the world that you’re crying to.
Maybe she is crying too, the sky, or
maybe she is trying to make reality a little more exciting,
to say:

Look, look over there, do you see that?
Over there? On the other side of the highway.
I made Christmas lights for you out of the headlights and the fog,
Do you see them?

A Friend of Death’s

By Emilea Huff

You have an obsession
with the darkest street corner.

A full-speed tire, you go to bridges
where faith took its last leap.

You read obituaries of people
you have never heard of just to
know them in their last breath.

A breath of dry air,
a corner or crease,

a plateau on a mountain of
wonderings.

You love to hear about the newest
drug, but you only drink water
and smoke city street exhaust.

You have an obsession with death,
but you never want to die.

True or False

By Derek Frazier

After Dean Young

  1.  I have over a dozen love letters that I mean to send to her when she has a bad day.
  2. My father was barely around when I was growing up because of work, so I joke that I was raised by my mother.
  3. I believe in the existence of more than one “deity.”
  4. When drinking water you might actually be drinking a glass of purified dinosaur piss.
  5. A morning shower mixes with tears cried last night by a woman who found out she had been cheated on.
  6. I call random strangers ma’am and sir not because it’s polite but because it’s a habit.
  7. I am a proud Roman Catholic.
  8. My least favorite color is yellow.
  9. I am terrified of the idea of being a father.
  10. Tea is better than coffee.
  11. Everything’s better with closed eyes, i.e. a first kiss, massages.
  12. I have hundreds of scars on my body.
  13. Walmart is the ninth ring of Hell.
  14. One of my favorite words to say is “rendezvous” because of the way you have to purse your lips when saying it aloud.
  15.  The best car ever made is the Mustang Torretto.
  16. Gunpowder is a mixture of charcoal, potassium nitrate, and saltpeter.
  17. I’m scared of the blackness of night.
  18. I am a dog person.
  19. The Romans conquered the Greeks because math was confusing enough before they added the alphabet.
  20. No matter what anyone says, the scariest thing you will ever hear is, “There’s nothing you can do.”
  21. Atheists can neither prove nor deny the existence of an existential being named “Jehovah”.
  22. The most common weapon I am killed with in nightmares is a metal spoon.
  23. In the time it took to read this, a young man finally plucked up the courage to ask a girl on a date.
  24. Slurpees.
  25. Tai Chi is overrated.
  26. No one wants to grow old.
  27. Japanese cheesecakes are surprisingly very easy to make.
  28. Germans are the only people who can make “I love you” sound like a murderous threat.
  29. People who sleep with their bedsheets tucked under their feet are weird.
  30. I am terrified of snakes.
  31. My favorite musical instrument is an electric cello.
  32. Saying something over and over again makes it lose its value.
  33. The one thing I hate about my body is the texture of my elbows.
  34. I despise the word “retarded.”
  35. Given my family’s medical history I most likely will die around the age of eighty from blood or heart problems.
  36. Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
  37. The best advice is told through the ticking of old grandfather clocks.
  38. The best culinary innovation was the grilled cheese.
  39. I grew up thinking that if I was hit by a car I would be flattened into a pizza like a Looney Toons character.

40.You’ve only got a hundred years to live.

  1. I refuse to be buried below ground because my life will have been too eventful to end as worm food.
  2. There is no such thing as being over prepared.
  3. Peanut M&Ms are the closest thing we have to ambrosia.
  4. Thursday is my favorite day of the week.
  5. I write my best work when I have insomnia.
  6. Millions and billions of years from now the sun will explode and wipe everything out in an event bigger than a Kardashian breakup.
  7. Silver is the most beautiful metal.
  8. I have read and agreed to the terms of service.
  9. My favorite girl names are Vivian, Scarlett, and Hope.
  10. The Earth is kept in its place by the world tree Yggdrasil, right?  
  11. The world would look better if everything was in shades of blue.
  12. Sometimes I drape a blanket over my shoulders and pretend I’m a superhero.
  13. I sleep with a knife on my nightstand.
  14. The moon is beautiful.
  15. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
  16. My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer almost two years ago.
  17. Perfect is an adjective unattainable by the human race.
  18. 日本語は美しい言語です。
  19. A number has been repeated.
  20. English accents are attractive.
  21. Frank Sinatra is a god.
  22. I’m fascinated by the concept that the air bubbles in a piece of fossilized amber were exhaled by dinosaurs.
  23. Hospitals make me nauseous.
  24. Doctors make me uncomfortable.
  25. Migraines suck.
  26. I hate the fact that I was born too early to explore the world and too late to travel the universe.
  27. Growth is impossible without pain.
  28. When going on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.
  29. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and the one.
  30. Jazz will never die.
  31. Lucky Charms are good just because of the marshmallows.
  32. When I die I want every piece of my work that is unpublished to be burned, so no one else steals my ideas.
  33. I wear my heart on my sleeve just because I never can find the time to wash it off.
  34. My sister is a terrible driver.
  35. The exclamation point has been stolen
  36. I refuse to join a fraternity in college because I am tall and blonde and that is cliché enough.
  37. Jenny, I’ve got your number.
  38. Quiet people have the loudest minds.
  39. Life is pointless if you don’t sleep in once and awhile.
  40. Letting someone go is hard because you know their velcro was the only kind that matched yours.
  41. Second-hand cigarette smoke is sweeter than the first puff.  
  42. The best chess piece is the bishop.
  43. Thunderstorms have a dangerous beauty to them.
  44. Ladies first.
  45. We all have monsters inside us.
  46. James Bond is better than Jason Bourne.
  47. Anything that requires a second thought is not worth doing.
  48. With great power comes great responsibility.
  49. “Normal” is just a setting on a washer dryer.
  50. If life can exist on this tiny rock then there is a good chance that it can exist somewhere else.
  51. Cows kill an average of twenty-two Americans a year.
  52. If governments utilized sassy grandmothers we would have fewer wars.
  53. I brood.
  54. I like guns.
  55. But swords are better.
  56. It doesn’t matter how deep a hole you dig yourself, or how many walls you fence around you, your demons will still come running.
  57. One hundred years after I’m dead I want to be more famous than Charles Darwin.
  58. Rattlesnakes are delicious.
  59. When I was in middle school my life’s ambition was to be an international mercenary.
  60. Chivalry isn’t dead.

 

The Silent Domestic Violence Crisis

By Ellie McFarland

Sensitive Content

It is becoming increasingly apparent that sexual assault and domestic abuse are impending crisis on American social and legal culture. As more and more celebrities are outed as habitual predators or wife beaters, the media is being driven into a sex panic. It is splendid that these issues are being given more attention and that horrible people are being driven from powerful positions. However, these issues have been in the news for ages. It’s time to address the far more hidden, far more quiet issue of domestic and sexual abuse committed against men.

Recently, only a few months ago, the first men’s shelter in the country was opened in Batesville, Arkansas permanently. Prior to that, all other attempts to open a men’s domestic abuse shelters have been shut down due to primarily, and lack of funds, but also threats to the owners. The Batesville shelter set off a trend of increasing numbers of men’s shelters in South East and West America. Currently, it’s gotten up to 5 shelters and 10 hotlines. Only 15 resources for male victims of domestic abuse, and over 1500 resources for women.

Perhaps the reason there are so few shelters is because a commonly held belief is that men don’t need domestic abuse shelters because men are never the victims of domestic abuse; that domestic abuse is a strictly female issue. These notions are deplorable and damaging to men everywhere. In fact, it can be seen in male victims of abuse. Many of them say that they didn’t know men could be abused. Others say they feared to fight back because their abuser was a woman. This dangerous sentiment isn’t helped by movies and TV depicting wives hitting their husbands as something lighthearted, funny, or even desirable. That same thing would never be acceptable if a husband was slapping his wife.

There are deeply regrettable things being said about these domestic violence shelters. An article from XOJane.com Katie Fenton described men’s shelters as “a misuse of nonprofit funding”, and many readers responded by saying that the victims “probably deserved it”. There are stories upon stories of wives abusing their husbands and facing zero jail time. Take for instance the case of “AlienJack” (pseudonym), where his wife physically and emotionally abused him, stole his children, and even tore open his sutures after heart surgery. His wife also got no jail time.  

The deficit of Men’s domestic abuse shelters is a gravity some people have recognized in the Feminist circle, which on its own is good. However, their reasons to be concerned with male domestic abuse victims are far from pure. Some feminists say that the reason for men’s unwillingness to come forward about domestic violence is in truth, the patriarchy, and toxic masculinity. While working to end violence against all people is a noble goal, this way of going about it paints abuse victims as people who brought this on themselves, which is simply incorrect.

Domestic abuse is not a men’s or women’s issue. It is a human issue that spans across gender, race, and economic class. Claiming that domestic abuse against men is funny, the fault of the victim, or simply nonexistent is dishonest and is a symptom of an unequal society. The shortage of domestic violence shelters for men is a public health crisis and needs to be solved. It is up to everyone to provide help and safety to all victims of abuse, and collectively agree that violence is a serious crime that is not gendered.

 

If You Had Stayed

By Heaven Angleberger

I don’t have any memory of you. You are the one person who has been shut completely out of my life. You left because you couldn’t take care of me. You didn’t have the money or the time or the energy to handle being a mother. Dad says that keeping me away from you is better for my sake. That I am better off without you because where I am now, I can be provided with all the things needed to succeed in life. As I have grown older, I have developed an understanding of what really happened. I think a lot about the life you are living.

I have always wondered many things about you. What you look like. If you are short or tall. Whether you have blonde or brunette hair. Why you didn’t stay. I wonder about who you are and what kind of life you are leading without me. Do you think about me? Do you think about the way you betrayed my trust when you left me behind, how you put all the responsibility on Dad’s shoulders?

I always thought that it was my fault that you left. That I had done something that made you think your daughter wasn’t good enough. That I had not been the daughter you dreamed of every night. Would you have stayed if I looked differently or had been more like you in some extraordinary way?  

Dad and I have the same smile. There is something lopsided about it that can warm an entire room. I wonder if you have the same lopsided, warm grin. We don’t listen to the same music– he listens to heavy metal while I listen to pop, sometimes country. Do we have this connection? I wonder sometimes what little things that I didn’t inherit from Dad, I inherited from you.

If you could only see me now. You would see an intelligent fourteen-year-old who is the goalie for her soccer team. I dive and jump to block kicks and make my team the best in the district. I am a straight A student that has always been at the top of my classes. I stay focused on my work and set an example for my fellow classmates. I write days on end and get carried away into the world of my words. I set the goal of getting into Barbara Ingram, the ninth-rated school in Maryland. After working my butt off for a month, I received notice that I had been accepted in. I am daring for the time I cut off fifteen inches of my hair to show my inner self. I wonder if I am anything like you.

But I am more like my new mom than anyone else.

She is daring for going back to college to pursue her dream of becoming an engineer. She completed her many pages of homework each night while caring for four children. She is intelligent and has completed each year of college passing with an A or higher. She is everything that I have dreamt a mother could be. We go back-to-school shopping at Kohl’s, making sure that I start the year with the latest brands. She browses the store for hours searching for the exact style of jeans that I want, never stopping to complain about how long it is taking. When I am sick, we go to Chipotle to catch up on the gossip. I always order the burrito with rice, which instantly makes me feel better.  She makes sure my homework is completed and ready to turn in the next day. If it isn’t, we sit down together to make sure I have a full comprehension of the assignment. Sometimes she will sit down with me, on my bed, to talk about the important lessons of life. She doesn’t care that I am not “her own.”  She loves me as much as any mother would love her child.  That’s more than you ever did.

I guess I will never understand the reason why you left. But I am okay with that. Now that you are gone, I finally know what it looks and feels like to be a part of a family. My new mother takes your place as if you had never been there at all.