Posted in 2018-2019, November 2018, Poetry

Petrichor

By Aevin Mayman

A word that describes the smell of rain.
But what about before? Could there be some
collection of sound and thought to mirror
this primordial energy that sings through the air?
A term to describe the buzz of lightning right
before it strikes; of ground that craves the touch
of absent water drops; a sky that sits,
tense. I would imagine that it would be less
of a sound, and more like the rush of
electric raindrops dancing on skin.
It might feel like imagined wind gusts pounding
against spread arms, against a smiling face.
This word could feel like jumping from the crash
of thunder, close enough to raise the hairs
along your neck. It’d feel like unrestrained
primal energy that courses through
veins. If you would dare to utter such
a word, your blood would turn to rain, your voice
to wind, your thoughts to thunder. You would be
the very thing the ground is hoping for.

Posted in 2018-2019, November 2018, Poetry

Brother

By Gracie Hastings

I’ve grown to know you as a role model.
A silent, intelligent being.
I’ve never seen you cry.

Maybe your eyes have built barriers
to stop
the flow
of teardrop hurt

and your skin has turned to concrete
to suppress any
flush
of weakness.

I don’t believe that you’re careless.

Behind your clouded expression
you are trying to make sense of
the complicated while I
am trying to make sense of your silence.

I want to understand the different ways
in which we hold ourselves together.

You’ve locked your vulnerability
somewhere out
of reach
from other presences.

And I’ve stored my weakness
in the ballpoint of my pen.

Posted in 2018-2019, Fiction, November 2018

A Rumble in the Cemetery

By Sara Malott

“Lilly, go play,” said Mother. “I saw some lovely little headstones on the way in. They’re just adorable. Go find me the prettiest one.”

Lilly glared at Mother, but reluctantly walked away. Her parents were combing out the details of Grandmother’s burial. Lilly wasn’t thrilled about coming along for the trip. She didn’t know Grandmother all that well and she didn’t grasp the whole “death” thing yet. Once Mother was out of sight, Lilly ran. She ran as fast as she could while doing her best to avoid flowers and tombstones. In the distance she could hear the ringing of church bells.  

She came to a tree and sat to catch her breath. Next to her there was a headstone. A blank headstone. She didn’t think anything of it until she heard knocking. It was soft at first, gradually growing louder and louder. Lilly cocked her head as she tried to locate the noise.Then she cupped her ear and put her head to the ground. It became clear that the knocking was a wood-like sound. Coffin wood perhaps. She was about to write the knocking off as one of the many earthly wonders she did not yet comprehend when she heard her name. The knocking softened but from the ground came the faintest Lilly she’d ever heard. Again Lilly ran as fast as she could back to her parents. Tears streaked the apples of her cheeks as she made her way through the field. Her parents were standing outside the church talking to the minister. She leaped and wrapped herself around her mother’s leg.

“Lilly darling, there you are. I was starting to worry about you.”

She pulled away while keeping her wide eyed stare.

“Lilly, what’s wrong, love? Frank look at her. She’s as white as a sheet.”

Lilly nodded intently while keeping hold of her mother’s pant leg. Frank bent down and put a hand on Lilly’s shoulder.

“Hey, babydoll. There’s nothing to be scared of. What was it? What did you see?”

Lilly nodded and buried her face in her mother’s pants.

“Lilly, I promise that there isn’t anything scary about this place. Nothing at all. Let me show you. We can walk through and everything will be just fine.”

Reluctantly, Lilly pulled away from her mother. She took her father’s hand and together they started walking. By the time they got back to the tree, Lilly had nearly forgotten why she’d been so scared in the first place. Then, she pointed to the tombstone.

“Hmm… that’s weird. There’s no name here.”

He bent over to look at the grave. He started wiping off the stone to reveal that it in fact had a name written on it. As he was wiping away the dirt, he heard it too. There was the knocking. Then a Frank came ever so softly from the ground. He put his head to the dirt to listen more closely. Immediately his head was swallowed whole by the dirt. Then his torso, then his legs. In a matter of seconds, Lilly watched her father disappear before her eyes.

Before Lilly could even process what happened, the name on the tomb revealed itself letter by letter as the dust blew away. Beneath it was written: “Frank Mckinney. Rest in peace.”

Posted in 2018-2019, Fiction, November 2018

The Feeling of Waiting

By Gabriella Ganoe

Quick footed leaves darted between the currents of the wind, their bellies displaying a sunny yellow, while the edges looked to have been burned by a dark crimson. Smells of freshly picked apples and rising bread follow the leaves, carrying the fall air throughout the town. One lands at my feet, nudging my boot until I give it attention. I pick it up, and slide it in my pocket, careful not to curl the corners and tear a gash in the middle. It lay silent in the safety of my jeans.

The innocent shouts of playful youth cut through the endearing scents of the season, their delightful squeals joining the symphony of squirrels scuttering up the trees. I come upon the children playing in their yard, their mother eyeing them as she hangs an obligatory Halloween sign. She has a smile on her lips, but her eyes read tired.

I walk a bit faster, seeing as the sun is beginning to drape low in the sky, peeking through the slender fingers of branches. I know I need to hurry.

The oaky smell of wood was stirred into the cacophony, briskly followed by the accompanying pound of an ax against a tree. My face drew back into a wince, disgusted and fuming at the loss of unfulfilled life.

With my legs moving quickly, and the tired sun leaning onto the mountains far off in the distance, I make it to my haven. A hill. On top it lies a tree, just a single tree, abandoned by his buddies but refusing to leave his post. They look like they are waiting for someone, their bone arms grasping out for something it will never reach. Just like me. It also seems that whatever they’re staying so patiently for, is never coming back. Just like with me. So, I’ve decided, we wait together.

I make my way up the hill, boots digging into the chunks of frosted grass splintering under my weight. I find my way onto the thickest branch of the tree, my legs swinging from under me. My dangling limbs look like leaves clinging to its branches, and my warm yet stoic expression, looks like the bark weaving patterns into the face of the tree. We are the same in so many ways, needing warmth and light and something to stay rooted to. We both feel the sun rays brush against our cheeks, and we both peer out of what’s left of the town that we call home.

Posted in 2017-2018, Poetry

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.

 

 

Posted in 2017-2018, Poetry

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.

Posted in 2017-2018, Non-Fiction

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.