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Hog Creek Review
Ohio State Lima 2009

Poetry
Character is who you are when no one else is looking
Carissa Reinicke
First Place
Poetry
Arbuckle Award

I’d like to rip one of these clouds
right out of the goddamn sky and
choke the rain out
and I don’t mean in proper drops
but big clumsy buckets
that run the yard to mud, irreverent.

Greedy fingers charge the door,
and pry their way inside to find the darkest secrets kept
in ancient corners, abandoned, (not forgotten), clutched in
shadow fists along the halls.
Decadent carrier of all life, unapologetic,
thrusts its weight across the floors
consummating every crack we may have fallen through
it’s best not to resist; we celebrate.
Appetite, unparalleled; thirst of soul, insatiable
deliverance, improbable and rapture, unavoidable.
Earth-warm and ozone-drenched and twisted-mind or gut-wrenched:
slop piles like treasure cakes left back in its heavy wake.
Wanton breaths singe the walls, and blow the dirt from
room to room. The air is thick and clogged with dust,
dry and spent and settling. I traced a message with my finger
on the broken mirror in the hall: revelry is godliness.

I’d like to lift a cloud
from its lofty place in the sky
just to ease its clever shape
to fit the contours of my hand.
Hush
Carissa Reinicke

Angels hover, lantern-strung
above the stillness of our bed.
Their whispers echo in the dark
and weave our dreams with cryptic threads.
Your eyes in silence lie awake,
they reach out and amuse me,
haunt me and disown me
a thousand times
a thousand times
you've heard it all before.
Midnight has grown tedious
but shadows make good reasons
to linger in monotony.
Don't forget to dance.
Daylight is a wicked season.
Morning threatens
scorching fragile lenses
burning iris wide awake.
Your slumber, dear, so soft,
your numbered days ticking off
one by one
one by one
your footprint (static) on the moon.
So, what then?
Carissa Reinicke

There is something about happiness that arouses my suspicions;
that relinquishing my skepticism offers open invitation to be suckered in
and prodded alongside the grinning masses toward some sort of pseudo-Nirvana.

Alone on the stoop out back, my fingers grow icy from the bottle in my hand, and the wind claws at me, harsh, but reliable. The darkness strides by like a rude stranger who doesn’t look up when I say hello; lowers its head further instead, pretending to inspect the dirty concrete. The oblivion is validating and I feel the power of my own volition rising from my legs, through my chest, to the bullseye in my brain.

It wasn’t long ago that he convinced me to marry. I didn’t see the point in doing so, and so he made the point that there was an equal non-point in not doing so, and so I did. The baby was next and we birthed it together in a tub on the living room floor. Because this—this was something I was going to get right.

Then my father died without a will, and my brother said that it was only right that we bury him, even though I thought the idea of decomposing against the process of preservation was obscene. It was important, he said, because when the Lord comes to save us, we need to be there waiting.

That night I had a dream—the kind of dream that you hope is a dream before you even remember you’re still asleep. A giant meteor blew through the ozone and crashed in the backyard of the house across the street. Then, as I watched through the window, there came a second, only this time the impact made a great cracking sound, like overhead thunder that wants to snap your bones, and I watched, frozen, as the smoke rolled in and the earth began to crumble.

In the startled sweat of night, I reached over to seek warm skin. I swallowed hard, and realized that swallowing is an action performed only by the living. Then I swallowed again, just to be certain.
Tethered
Carissa Reinicke

So there I stood, at one corner of the earth, daring
Erastosthanes to make his case for a sphere.
Round, I decided, is a noble shape, possibly divine,
reserved for eternity, harmony, wholeness, and birth.
The stars, voyeurs, packed themselves into this cosmic house to see
if I would topple over the edge as I peered into
the warm blackness
that surrounded me and held this shape aloft.
And I wondered in what direction I was facing—if I was upright, or upside-down,
or if it were even possible to determine my absolute orientation
in this boundless place.
I mean, who’s to say, in this galaxy of infinite space
just where, in fact, we stand,
and for that matter, does it not take an extraordinary amount of faith
to believe that we'll keep standing here at all
instead of falling like a penny in a well to Wonderland?
I looked toward Jupiter on my right
and marveled at its size—
nothing, I mean nothing at all, was wielding this colossal ball
in the empty cavern of black forever, and I feared that
I might just make it drop by thinking it so, and quickly
pushed the thought out of my mind.
I know all about gravity
and the solemnity it requires.
I don’t believe in God—at least in the way that some prescribe.
That’s humanity's infusion.
I tend to think, instead, that whatever it is that we call God
has its hands full
if we’re reliably held up at all.
Nothing lies below me,
and nothing above
but still I spin and orbit, and this is, I think, enough.
I saw that reason only hinders,
and our reasons only lie
into the silence of our beings
and the darkness of the skies.
The City’s Secret Ghosts
Mike Goetz
Second Place
Poetry
Arbuckle Award

It’s so empty here, there’s nothing glittering,
only wasted goals gently littering,
the gray flat banks of the blacktop stream,
while absent faces stay locked in a dream.
Stale, thick air suffocates the soul,
and the lack of silence takes its toll.
Regret and heartache flood the eyes,
of secret ghosts locked inside,
the emotional prison they fight to flee,
a hollow shell they can never leave.
Dark shadows cast upon wet brick,
by brightly burning candles with no wick.
The stained glass souls hidden in plain sight,
seem to float heavily through the night,
while the moon casts its hollow shine,
on the many lives lost through time.
All alone, trapped in the mind,
the secret ghosts struggle to find,
the blackest secrets of love and fear,
and the strength to persevere.
The Home of the Fallen Giant
Mike Goetz

The proud warrior that once stood tall,
Now lies silently upon the Technicolor autumn floor.
Herculean branches lay scattered upon the earth,
A symbol of strength, splintered like fine china.
The great mass of roots rises from the soil,
Like outstretched, skeletal hands reaching toward heaven.
Just another of nature’s fallen soldiers,
now the cornerstone of a childhood refuge.
Together, young lads collect small trees,
lying around the once mighty sycamore,
like children clinging to their dying mother’s bedside.
Working diligently, they construct a crude fence,
the boundary taking shape by small hands.
The woodland paradise becomes lined with slowly rotting saplings,
while the floor, carpeted in brilliant shades of red and yellow,
reflects off the boys’ eyes, gleaming with pride.
Mother nature gently caresses their cheeks,
sweeps the hair from their eyes,
And fills their nostrils with the delicate potpourri of fall.
She whispers lovingly in their ears,
“In the wake of the fallen giant,
the innocent children create a new hope.
Worlds are altered rather than destroyed.”
the green simonis is where I play
Justin Fry

streaks of masters blue on soft green simonis
chalky blue masters in my left hand
with the long predator in the right

I step up to the table

eyes wandering nervously looking over fifteen vibrant colors
my heart beats in rhythm with the music in the background
thinking long and hard unlocking this puzzle

carefully planning three moves ahead
possibly even seven
weighing all the actions vs.outcomes

blocking out everything around me as i'm in the zone
feeling the eyes of people burn on me as they watch on
nothing can break this concentration

which is once fifteen now is seven
A Great Poem
Jered Slusher

A great poem leaves an impression,
like a festering thumb pressed upon an open brain,
rubbing its oils, bacteria, Ideas,
into each comfortable wrinkle.
And when that thumb pulls away,
what's left is the Infection--
diseased seeds, black eggs,
sprouting and swelling till they burst--
and prickly bugs and poisonous roots
spread their legs,
growing, swelling, sprouting, bursting,
fostering untilled willows and hairy brown spiders,
slurping the moistness of sanity--
devouring all in sight--
only to wilt and die,
legs shriveled inward,
branches dry and cracked,
leaving nothing but an empty hole,
save perhaps a pinch of a fine white powder,
which added to a mixture-- a proper mixture of
society and water---
will the powder gel up and form
into one solid peach ball,
slowly wrinkle and separate,
and wait for the next great poem
to make
its impression.
If Only it Would Stop.
Nate Fife

Beep.Beep.Beep.Beep.
10 hours worth of beeps
Beep. Hello. Hello. Hello Mr/Mrs._Blah.Blah._
[Don’task howtheyare.]
I’m_Blah.Blah.Blah._
andIrepresent_Insertnameofassociation_
[Don’t listentothem/controlcall].
Beep.Beep.Beep.Beep.Beep
10 hours worth of beeps
Hello. Hello. Hello.
Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepppppp.
[tick.tock.tick.tock.tick.tock]
10hoursaday. 40hoursaweek.
[ticktockticktockticktockticktock]
More and more. Beep. Beep. Beep.
10hoursaday40hoursaweek. Filledwithbeeps.
a stiff scrag_and heavy lids.
I have known _
       these beeps.
already__known them all.
Beep.Beep.Beep.Beep.Beep.Beep.
10 hours_
whileIscream_BEEP!BEEP!BEEP!
[tick.tick.tick.tick.tick.tock.]
10hours_
while I lose my mind_BEEP!BEEP!BEEP!
[tock.tock.tock.tock.tock.tick.]
My Dove~
Kyle Blackston

My dove,
Her wings brutally ripped off with rage,
Her heart so torn away from love-
Locked up in a rusted cage,
Shut, crushed,
Taken just too much...

Dreams from ages gone by and by,
Sent soaring up into the sky,
Have left her broken on the ground,
Hurt and weeping without a sound.
My soul,
Wrapped around her lifeless core,
Hoping to make it whole-
Sending shivers that make me sore,
Cold, violent,
Wreaking painful torment...

Take my hand- I’ll bring you high
Enough for you those dreams to eye,
And further yet- you’ll see I can-
Do for you everything should a loving man.

Her broken wings,
Her broken heart,
Her fruitless life
Of useless strife-
It haunts me.

My heart it sings,
My heart does part,
My fountainous oath
That I bequoth-
I’ll love thee.
Porcelain God
Sarah McCaslin

In this ablute, tiled bliss,
daily tasks are carried out
like pagan rituals
to a porcelain god.

I have seen the world:
piss and go,
scrub and suture,
pluck and shave.
I have watched the same routine every day:
Exfoliate, apply, spray and smooth—
like actors preparing for a scene.

And all the while, I sit
between the sink and bathtub,
waiting for the next time
I can take what is left
and whirl it away.
The Reason for Oil
Jered Slusher

He forces me to drink,
the viscous black liquid oozing
down my throat, pooling indignation
in my stomach, conjuring flammable
petrolic burps. If he had one of those
fancy electric drills, I'm sure he would have
drilled it right through my stomach,
gleefully poured it back into his
porcelain boot, and left me for dead.
But he couldn't afford anything
electric, not in his heart, because his mother forbade it
when he was little, told him that he was
ice water impotent, that he couldn't
drill a hole because his father delighted in
hispanic women with capable thighs,
and when he was twelve, she sent him on a summer vacation
in Mexico to learn violin and get rid of his faggoty lisp.
He finds solace in watching us
drink the darkness.
After Independence Day
Sarah McCaslin

The fifth of July never seemed so oppressive
As it was that summer.

Flies (big as my little toe)
Buzzing over the creek,
Skimming the water.
Grass clippings (in tall paper bags)
Gathered by the fire ring out back.
Moisture beads, in streams,
Running down the backs of my legs.
Meatloaf and mashed potatoes (tonight’s untouched dinner)
Cold on the kitchen counter.

Your hot temper (always getting the best of you)
Flared up again.
Your accusations (I’m not the cheating kind)
Bringing tears to my eyes.
Your venomous last words
Hanging in air.
Your gold wedding band
Flung at me across the kitchen.
Your truck (big blue beast)
Spinning tires throwing stones at my feet.
Your taillights
Streaking down past Shimley’s house
Disappearing after the third crossroad.

By the sixth of July, the heat lifted
And I could breathe again.
Dancing Man
Nellie Smith

made of glass,
until my joints splintered

(people throw coins;
those hard, metal seeds know
nothing of melody)

I patched me up with dirt
& water
& clear paste
& imagine blood flowing
two long-high flutenotes

forcing a vein to be,
to open,

but all that red matter
in stains in the outside
came
with nothing to circle or
contain

so I wished for skin, and
something to beat,
a grand old cage-rattler
of a heart,

a knee-knocking gavotte-
like rhythm
to dance to

and a somewhat less
fragile breastbone--

hands strung up,
brain sharded in asphalt piles

a watery music from far away
seeps in,
while the accordion belches chords
in cracking ears

translucent feet quiver-step
Winternight
Nellie Smith

We take off our skates at midnight,
sit down upon the ice
(in a circle,

so as not to disturb
the rhythms
of our ancestors)

someone produces
a candle,
another, a lighter

the fire lit,
an open, blinking eye,
we press close in

a band of ancients with bloody tunics,
frigid cilia surrounding
a hot, dying nucleus,

suspended over the
great, dark pit
of frozen water.

The sky tells
always
its own stories:

a bear
had slain a man
100,000 years ago

this man grew stars
for finger-knuckles
which, somehow

ended up in the sky.
The bear died,
regretting nothing,

and he is also up there,
hung like a puppet,
glaring with one eye...

and the crab,
after spreading his claws
to the verge

of the universe,
drops, crumbles
like dust, or old bread:

he has found
a goddess
but no god, only

a severed toe and
the residual:
a dull agony,

annihilating weight of
endless water,
brutal, sealed sleep--

We light cigarettes,
shift weight,
are silent.

A tiny, dark plane
blinks counterpoint
on its way to the sea,

streaks the faces
of hunter and hunted,
moves on.
Fields of Memory
Amber Turnmire

Across the fields somber winds blow,
carrying with them memories of days long ago.
Whispers of war, love, and marriage,
the Great Depression, chosen disparage.
Mother Earth, a witness to all
the bended knees – the prayers to Paul.

A farmer and son once graced these fields
along with wheat and corn in godly yields.
Back when children grew fast as corn,
and your name was shared with the first born.
Those were the days – the ‘Glory Days’ –
back when man showed Him more praise.

See them there tilling the land,
no one now willing to lend a hand.
In this land blood runs deep,
but that’s no matter if water cannot seep.
A farmer and son of generations past,
both with ashes already cast.