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Hog Creek Review
Ohio State Lima 2010

Poetry
First Place
Poetry Arbuckle Award
2009 - 2010: I had a conversation with Death yesterday
Sarah Corcoran
We were eating salmon outside of our favorite café,
Next to the metallic roar of 42nd street,
Among all the chocking exhaust of the living,
Lemon drop smog mottling my skin, turning me reptilian,
By shying away from Death like shadows from sunlight.
I buttered my toast with wasted time,
As he ordered the finest Rhone Valley Syrah.
I ate in vivid Technicolor,
He ate another liquid lunch.
I gazed fixedly into my black tea for eternity,
Pausing to ask if he had found what he had been looking for.
Death leaned forward on pointy elbows and
Swirling his wine
In the shape of Life
Retorted “Have you?”
First Place
Poetry Arbuckle Award
2010 - 2011: Sammy Jo and the White Hot Underbelly, Pt 1
Zach Reneau
1.
My hair doesn't grow the way it's supposed to. It grows the opposite way, like you did.
                                                                                                                        I mean it grows backwards, like you did when the earth fell apart. It grows into my scalp, and when it tickles my brain I take my monthly trip to the salon, where they saw my head open, run their clippers across my skull. They have to cut away the viscera, or at least, I think
                        it's the viscera, I don't know because I failed biology. But so did you, because you wouldn't cut the cat,
                                    I had to cut the cat. And I stood over it with my scalpel and shopping cart and we made love to it with our thoughts, where the cat had been and where it was now. But you didn't like cutting the cat, you threw up on the blackboard, on the bus.
                                    The bus rides were more fun when your shorts caught fire.
            And we smeared our hands in it and drew our lives out, but yours was always better. You were the artist. I wasn't the artist. You were Edvard Munch. I was Queen Isabella and my skirt was plaid but you wouldn't give me the safety pin in your lip to keep it tied down. Everyone got a glimpse of the Spanish Inquisition.
2.
You were such a dirty girl.
                                    And the cockroaches thought so too
Is what your father said when he gave me the talk and the handgun. The talk was for then. The handgun was for later.
            I don't know what to do with her, it's not my job.
                                                                                         But it wasn't mine either,
            It was Jackson's and Peggy's and Kaya's and Clark's.
                                                                                                I worked in the shrimping business and when I got Wednesdays off I'd court your sons and daughters at the roller derby.
3.
This is the part where you would put your arms around me and undo the latches on the bookcase.
And when I wasn't looking
                                                you'd kiss Patrick Henry's mother and hide
                                                                                                                        under the ocean of covers with me, and we'd kick and scream
                                                             and pretend that we were ballet dancers pretending to be nuns.
And maybe if you'd stop bleeding out for five seconds, you'd be pregnant by now.
4.
This was supposed to be the part where we danced in a submarine together
and talked about our dreams, and our Jamaican god children, but it's not, it's not anything,
                                                                                                                                                except for a jungle cruise with a bottle of tonic and the Milky Way's vagina. But the tonic was yours.
            Everything was always yours.
5.
Next is the part where I lie on a bed of nails while you run my ribs over with a pontoon boat, and Penny licks the specks of blood and soot
                                                            off my nose. You asked me if this was my favorite part, and I'd have to agree because in the right light,
                                                            when the clouds cover the sun's penis and the moon sodomizes a goat with its fist, your finger nail polish does wonders for your eyes.
And if you're waiting for the part where I kiss your tongue with a syringe and draw roses, you're reading the wrong story.
Second Place
Poetry Arbuckle Award
2010 - 2011: Samantha Was A Painter The Last Time I Saw Her
Joshua Long
            She loved moving her hands around paint brushes.
            She had an affinity for Jack Daniels and Jackson Pollock.
            I used to love sitting on the floor behind her, as she was perched in front of the easel. She would put words around these worlds she was creating, and occasionally she would create one that I was a part of.
            When the brushes would get heavy and the Jack would slow down her ability to hold them steady, we would just crawl into bed, a single-sized mattress with no sheets, or blankets, or box spring. We would stay there for days sometimes. No food was had during those times except for the nourishment of each other.
            And even if we wanted something else there was nothing to be had. We were a pair of one-winged doves. Stitched together so that we could fly through the wind and the leaves and the trees that life so gingerly let play in the background.
            When she went away to find what she wanted outside of the brush strokes and the patterns of acrylics and oils, she left me a note on the bedside table.
            “I'll remember to remember you,” it read.
Second Place
Poetry Arbuckle Award
2009 - 2010: Landing in YYT the Month was August
Joshua Long
St. John’s is a strange place to land
at four thirty in the morning,
with red eyes and the fleeting comfort
of being a coach passenger.
Like everything else in my lifetime,
I would make my way through it.
My exploded ear drums
and broken down leather soles,
rolling down the escalator with the rest of my body.
The end result,
involving an attempt to retrieve my luggage
from the gentle-cycle of the carousel.
Drifting outside
to take my first inhale of proper nicotine,
in its most Virginia of forms.
All as my thoughts turn to 777-7777,
the only cab number I could ever remember
anywhere in the world.
The immigrant driver
loading my dignity and my luggage
into his trunk,
knowing it would be a good twenty minutes
until me and her would fall together
on the west-end of her bedroom.
I hadn’t seen her in months,
and before my departure
she gave me word
that we had a new house of cards
to knock down.
Lately I’m Merely Adapting
Zachary Reneau
Another pilgrim like me passes by,
He blows his cigarette in my face,
The smoke doing intricate dances with the fog escaping my mouth.
Same shitty musician's salary,
Same patch-work jacket,
A glance in the mirror reflects my child-like cowlick, the only clue that youth ever visited the hardened man I see.
People said that if I moved out on my own, the world would beat me to a pulp,
But my parents have done a great job of doing that here,
Emotionally
Or otherwise.
Across the street, I see others stare and whisper,
Reminders that what I have become isn't acceptable to them either.
Anything they can possibly say is nothing
Compared to what I tell myself.
I hand-cuffed myself to my ideals two years ago.
I couldn't change if there was a gun held to my head.
I wouldn't change if there was a gun held to my head.
Hell, I won't change if there's a gun held to my head.
I thought I'd have my ass out of here a long time ago.
People in their holy robes attack me,
Want to show me “truth.”
I don't want to know you
Hear your story
I've went two decades without knowing,
And I can get along even longer.
Don't mind me just leave me alone I'll be ok, ok?
I can kick my own ass just fine.
My bruised and bloody fists have left more of a mark on anything
Than these words ever will.
Than my legacy ever will.
I thought I'd have my ass out of here a long time ago.
The Mortuary’s Cots
Zachary Reneau
They say the dead appear to be sleeping,
But I've yet to see a man sleep in a coffin,
Never saw a still chest on a sleeping woman.
There are no end tables in funeral homes,
Loaded with a sleeper's arsenal -
Kleenex, a glass of water, maybe some Nyquil.
I've never watched a mortician read a story to their victims before putting them to bed
(Although I'll bet they would like the Cat in the Hat.)
They didn't bury my grandfather in teddy bear pajamas,
And thankfully, no lines of people form to watch me slumber.
I don't visit my grandmother every night at two AM
To ensure she has enough topsoil to keep warm.
Dustin
Zachary Reneau
I went back on my own this afternoon, to that old trail behind our houses,
I found a slug under a rock and I think he would have liked that.
I remember once, as kids, we found a grey one, and we poured salt on it,
And I remember he laughed, as we watched it spasm, writhing in its silent agony on the sidewalk.
I swear, for a second I could hear it scream, and I shed a tear, whether for the slug, or
For something else, I didn't know.
The saline rolled down my cheek and landed on the slug without a sound,
And that was it, that was the nail in the coffin, the slug was dead.
Dustin laughed maniacally, and I think my heart stopped, maybe for a second.
As he wiped his mouth of the traces of white foam that had formed around it on that hot summer day,
We walked our bikes up that trail through the woods,
Everything gravely still, as if in mourning.
Figure
Sarah McCaslin
 “You better watch yourself with them boys. 
That bathing suit ain’t big enough to cover what it should. ”
Mother’s voice, butterstick quick,
as the screen door slammed and my bare feet hit the back step.
 “Where do you think you’re going? I’m warning you!”—
as my legs parted the late summer alfalfa
between my so-called-home and the hog pond.
My toes splashed the cool, slimy bank and I saw the usual bunch:
 Stinky (too afraid to jump in),
Lenny (taunting Stinky from the deep end),
Shock and Tim (skipping stones), and 
Rob (sliding down the muddy bank)—
A congress of nobodies  (school skippers, thieves, runaways, hooligans).
I tossed my cutoffs to the side and ran into the shallow end,
deburred of my troubles. 
I felt their eyes upon me and someone let out a whistle.
“Well, I’ll be…..”
“Look at what Liza grew!”
I came out of the water and spread myself
on the north bank to dry,
letting the moving grass cover insecurities
my bathing suit couldn’t. 
Combat Patrol
William Thompson
Today of all the things that could’ve happened,
from I.E.D.’s to more firefights, to mortars thunderclappin’.
As we roll on, stroll on, combat patrol on.
We roll into a village and the children run to see
the presence of the U.S. Army.
The children don’t ask for toys or for candy.
Instead they beg
“Mistah mai” asking for water.
These children I see, that remind me of my daughters.
And then on the roadside I see another little girl who could be no more than three.
She looks up and smiles and waves at me.
Blowing kisses while saying “I love you” in English repeatedly.
As we roll on, stroll on, combat patrol on.
Some of us,
Ghetto born and ghetto raised.
Living
Ghetto life and ghetto ways.
Going through
Ghetto nights and ghetto days
Seeing
Ghetto clear through ghetto haze.
Thinking
We’ve got to get away.
From the ghettos of the U.S.
To the real ghettos in Iraq.
NOW,
We’re all just soldiers trying to fight our way back
As we roll on, stroll on, combat patrol on.
 Seeing things no one person should have to see,
Not just in this life but throughout eternity.
Seeing my buddies then watching them die,
Wanting to know when is my time.
 As we roll on, stroll on combat patrol on.
My Lavaliere
Lynsey Kamine

My

lavaliere is

iced blue, chained and true.

A raindrop dressed with jewels

patiently sleeping in a little white box

then tossing, turning into knots.  Yet it

never awakens until I knead out the spots

that have tangled in the darkness

of the little white box.
 

House of Smoke
Aleena Deutschman
I love when my house is filled with smoke
the sweet aroma tingles my nose before I open the door
paper is smoldering between the man’s fingers
the glowing cherry moving slowly towards his flesh
a stream of white dances away from the torch
swirls of smoke move playfully around the room
he reads my thoughts, passing me this burning beauty
warm smoke fills my mouth with a long drag
nostrils suck the cloud from my mouth


How do you say, French inhale?
A Wrestler’s Heart
Jered Slusher
They ask me why I charge into that ring
And I reply, “where else have I to go?”
My heart was whole at once, but now,
Through holes the blood shall flow –
Empty space – burrowed by the fingers
Of a tyrant’s promise of gold sheath
And a black-tongued mistress, two-faced,
Spewing fame through her clenched teeth.
And there are fibrous gray threads of blight
Stitched round the rim of my heart’s gaps,
To support the ceaseless void, I know,
and another thumb, perhaps,
But the holes have not lack nor drought
For through them nothing floods,
And then the sewer plants his seeds,
So desire sprouts and purpose buds.
Then the ring beckons with balmy hands
And allows the plant to grow, I think,
From competition and accolades
The roots do take their drink.
Until the saw of naught cuts through
And the ring begins to fade,
So does the precious dream dry up,
And the heart is left betrayed.
But now I charge to that ring head first,
The holes filled, heart thumping hot,
And I reply, “where else have I?”
Elsewhere my heart has not.
Ready For You
Ashley Holtzapple
I still keep my eyes open underwater; watching..waiting for the hands trying to grab my neck sooner than they should. Using covers for protection I'll keep you away. If only for a bit longer. My hands are warm but grasping the objects they're numb.  I feel like peeling my skin away, throwing away the memories hidden underneath. But then I'd be left with nothing but the reflections of him. I see the faces in the shadows; but I can't recognize you. With my foot on the tiles I'll calculate the inches- how long will you be away from me? Tilt me diagonally and it's a perfect fit. It's not being gone- it's the thought of going that gets to me. Thoughts of the interstates and billboards were never more real. I'm not ready…but no one's ever ready for this, ready for you.
The Bottom Drawer
Lucas Hines
Her eyes were fixed
Her clothes molted off her body.
She whispers in my ear
The wind nearly knocks me off the bed.
My wrists shackled with her warm moist palms.
She dislocates the beat of my heart
She removes my jeans, her breath bellows against my thighs
The heaving of muscles tightening and twisting produced a slippery perspiration.
Like running your abdomen down a fleshy corridor
And bracing your elbows for twenty six minutes.
 
Her hair poured from her scalp like clouds against a heavy wind
The dryness of our mouths, quenching with each other’s tongues.
Our lips nearly bled biting down in ecstasy.
Nine deep gasps let me know she was almost done.
Her face crumbling against the sweaty suburb of my chest.
 

The Time it Takes to Talk
Lucas Hines
I                              can’t                             seem                       to
                                                     To                                  do              it                                          
              Keep                                                                           words
                       Together.
                Nothing                                        personal
                                It’s                              It’s                                               just                        who
    I                am.
                                           I                                   don’t                                 think                   think                     like
            This                                          or                            hesitate                              the             
                                                             Way                                                 you                                     see           see
                         Me.
            It’s                                           just                                  because
                                                                       Because                                           I               
                                                                           Have                                                       a
                                                                   a
                                a                                                                                       a
 a                                                               a                               a                                                 a                                 
                        a
                                                                                                                                        Stutter.
 

I Put the "I" in Possible
Lucas Hines
Maybe it was the time of the year…maybe it was the wind current. Maybe it wasn’t anything I had control over. But it was the reason I tore off all my movie posters, and sold my Nintendo.
Maybe it was my diet, my binge of fruits and vegetables, my late night weightlifting and my recent lack of watching any show on MTV.
Maybe I was tired. Bored. Depressed. But it was the reason I gave all my clothes to charity.
Maybe it was my upbringing.
My new reasoning of right and wrong. Maybe I just brushed my teeth a little different.
It could have been the spider crawling across my ceiling that I didn’t bother killing because it was late, and my joints still hurt from work that night.
Maybe it was tomorrow. Maybe it was the future of myself.
Maybe I was happy. Maybe I was happy with the blame and the showmanship of liars.
Maybe the alignment in my car was just a little off. Maybe I took two extra minutes to go anywhere I wanted to go. And it was how I explained that everything I did was individualistic.
Maybe it was the candy cigarettes I chewed on to feed my oral fixation.
Maybe.
Maybe it was the cocaine I never snorted, or the whiskey I never kissed goodnight.
Maybe my godliness wasn’t clean enough for me.
Perhaps it was the drama. And the comedy that I learned from Shakespeare.
It could have been the coffee, the coffee I drank only twice a month at the same restaurant. To feed the thought process that maybe I was a regular for somebody.
Maybe it was the familiar faces, maybe it was the safest thing to do.
The dander from my dog could have been messing with my allergies. Could have made mornings worse than if I didn’t allow him to sleep in my bed. The reason I never corrected the sheets when I hauled my half-conscious body out of the down-filled casket.
Maybe I was being irrational. Seeing perverse points of view that weren’t only my own, but also my enemies.
Maybe I didn’t think enough before I did things. Maybe I was too impulsive in my morning routine, or my after work rituals.
Laziness could have played a part I imagine. My work ethic suffering first hand from a web of indecent chronology. The reason for my addiction to antacid tablets.
I could have been irresponsible, maybe even reckless with myself.
Could have been the water. Tap or bottled, I get enough of both to make myself urinate five times a day.
Maybe it was my new shampoo that I barely even used anymore because I hear that you’re not supposed to wash your hair every day.
Maybe it was the lack of faith I had. In a God. In Gods. In the only person that even mattered.
It could have been the glare coming from my window twenty minutes before I wanted to wake up to start the day.
Maybe the middle school trophies I still kept by my bed that I ignore every day.
Maybe I just hated too little, and liked too much.
Maybe it was more of an opinion for me, and less of a commitment for you.
To Not End Up Alone
Neisha Ulrey
Make friends. 
Make a lot of friends, friendships that will last.  Make a lot of friends that are male and female.  Make your friends trust you.  Then they will want to be involved.  Involved in your life.  Make them know the real you.  If you are someone else the charade won’t last long.  Make them understand you.  Make yourself understand them. 
Life is a two way street.  Make sure you are living on the right one. 
Go through those friends and find one that is special.  Make them more than a friend.  Make them love you.  Make them see you for all that you are worth.  Make sure they love you, or it won’t last.  Make sure it’s real.  Make sure it’s fun. 
Make sure. 
When you know that it is real then make it official.  Make them marry you.  Make sure it is a big party.  Make sure all of your friends are there.  Take pictures.  A lot of pictures.  Make sure you still have money left over.
Get a house. 
Make sure you both love it.  Make sure it will have enough room for children, dogs, cats or horses.  Make sure it will have room for your egos, emotions, words, and things.  Make sure you’ve already agreed on which of those you want.  Make sure you realize there will be things you don’t want.    Make sure you are prepared.  Make sure you’ve had that discussion before you get married.
Grow.
It is time for hard work and new things.  Make sure you have a car that fits your family.  Make sure you have a car that will keep you safe.  Get new things for your house.  Get a boat.  Make sure you both want the boat.  Make sure to have a life jacket.  Decorate everything.  Make sure you let her do most of that.  It will make things go smoother.  It will make her happy.  Make sure he can stand it too.  That will make him happy.
Have a life together.
Make sure you choose things you both want.  Make sure there is compromise.  Make sure you’re both happy.  But don’t compromise everything.  Make sure to stand up for yourself.  Make sure to have fun.  Have fun all the time.  But know when to be serious. 
Get involved. 
Make sure you aren’t involved with the wrong people.  Watch your children, dogs, cats or horses grow.  Maybe even grandchildren.  Learn to control your egos, emotions, words and things.  Make sure everyone knows you love them.  Make sure you don’t keep it to yourself.  Make sure you share.  Make sure you cherish.
Stay in touch.
Make sure you still have friends.  Remain friends with your spouse.  Remain close to your friends.  Make sure you stay in touch.  Make sure you still talk.  Communication is key.  Make sure that you still see one another.  Make sure your friends know you love them.
Live.
Still you will end up alone.  No matter how much you make sure you love.  No matter how close you keep your friends.  Life ends. 
And you will be alone.
Dust
Neisha Ulrey
I sat there alone on his bed.  Waiting.  Knees pulled up to my chin.  The way a child sits eagerly. 
His shower would be over soon.  But I could still feel his presence in the room.  My skin still dusted with his last caress.
I was anxious.
The creak of the bathroom door followed by light steps let me know he was on his way.  I lifted my head as he walked into the room, still gleaming with a light mist over his bare chest. 
We both smiled.
We didn’t have much time.
I pulled my legs tighter to me.  Resting my chin back on my knees.
The pants were light shades of tan and green.  Nothing like the G.I. Joes my brother had as a child.  I watched as he pulled them over his slender hips.  Fastening buttons and the belt before reaching down for his pale green shirt.  The color of faded mint leaves.  It stretched over his broad shoulders.  Still showing an outline of the skin it now protected. 
Grabbing the metal tags off the table, he slipped them through the thin belt loops before quickly tucking them away in his back pocket.  My eyes lingered on the chain. 
I watched him in silence.
He sat on the end of the bed as he continued to work.
Black socks reached halfway up his strong calves.  But it was the boots that seemed to draw me in.  Worn.  Pale.  Yellow.  They seemed to still be covered in a thin layer of dust.  The dust from a thousand deserts.  Worlds I would never know. 
All I would ever have is the dust.  And the man who came back with it. 
The weeks of rest did not hinder him.  His movements were quick and fluent.  So natural.  The laces were tied tightly and tucked away.  The pants fastened snuggly around.
He glanced up at me with a  knowing look in his eyes.
We both remained silent.
He stood up.  Walking across the small room.  It was filled with his childhood memories and boxes covered with a light film of dust. 
He reached for his jacket.  Sliding his arms in.  Standing with his back to me as he secured it.  Rotating his shoulders and tugging to get it just right.  Grabbing the last piece of the puzzle, his burgundy beret, he tossed it on top of his bags.
Finally.  He turned around.  Presenting his uniformed self to me. 
I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath until I exhaled. 
He walked slowly toward my curled up figure.  I stared at the name on his chest.  His name.  Not quite able to look away.  Lacing his fingers through mine he pulled me up and into his arms.
The fabric was rough and thick against my soft bare skin.  I buried my face into it.  Breathing him in.
Goodbye was quick.  No tears.  He was dressed now and officially on the job.  My job came along with it.
With a last soft kiss I climbed into my car.  As I drove away, I glanced into my rearview mirror.  Through the dust of the country road I watched him disappear. 
The Perfect Mother
Cutter Slagle
The perfect mother wakes at six AM.
She makes the queen sized bed
that she has slept alone in for three months.
Across the soft and recently swept carpet
the perfect mother heads into the bathroom
to take a quick and quiet shower.
She can’t help but think about
the growing stack of notices.
Next, she gets dressed for the day;
perfectly creased new black pants,
a button up blue sweater.
Dark, curly hair that matches her equally
dark, sad eyes
is pulled back to show
her round olive face.
A few tiny squirts of perfume,
her mind wonders
to all of the recent mistakes.
And then it’s down the hardwood steps
into the kitchen to make breakfast.
Fluffy chocolate chip pancakes
as large as the plate itself.
Crispy, crunchy bacon and
tall glasses of sparkling milk.
After breakfast is finished her boys,
ten and sixteen, get ready for school.
Tall, thin, and blue eyed, just like their father.
The resemblance is painful and constantly
reminds her of the loss
of her once ailing husband.
She wants to scream,
knowing the pains
of breaking ethics.
She drops them off at eight
and then in her black BMW
she drives to the other side of town,
stops at a white painted house with a green door.
The perfect mother enters, smiles.
She reaches into her leather brown bag,
in between a small tube of lipstick
and black cell phone set on vibrate
is a large collection of green bills
held together tightly with a rubber band.
She throws the stack down on the wooden table.
The woman sitting raises her eyebrows, laughs.
“Damn,” she says. “You’re good.”
The perfect mother shrugs, joins in on the laughing.
“What can I say? I’ve finally found my calling.”
The sitting woman nods, “So, I guess you need to restock your supply?”
“Yes, I do. The neighborhood has cleaned me out again.”
“Give me a few moments, I’m not quite finished bagging the new crop.”
The perfect mother sit, waits,
doing whatever it takes
to keep her family perfect.
Summer
Cutter Slagle
Mud stained black Converse
smash down onto
the tall dark grass.
The hard ground pushes
fiercely back
trying to slow me down.
The sticky summer air
seems to work
strongly against me,
tightening its death grip
around my quivering neck.
Quietly looking,
my eyes search intently
adjusting to the gloomy night.
The dark atmosphere
engulfs me.
I struggle to see.
We all walk alone,
not in a pact.
Everyman for himself,
survival of the fittest.
Trembling, fearing
one of us
might be next.
Around the side of
the two story house,
into the backyard,
looking behind large trees
and the warn shed.
There, under the patio table
his white sneakers standout
like a burning light bulb.
I notice first and scream,
“Ghost in the graveyard!”
 
Conversation with a Smoker
Adam Goes
Raindrops patter
My black umbrella with a sound
Approaching music.
I wait in the usual spot
For the one-hundred
Fourteenth
Day, and a
Volkswagen splashes a puddle
Onto my shoes.
The dull sky
Is reflected by the various shades
Of black that make up the street,
And the once red
Bricks of buildings now
Turned gray.  All these colors
Add up to the same theme of
Normalcy.
He leans against
The corner of
The local thrift-store.
The rise of
His cigarette to his lips
And subsequent fall
Are a lullaby to my half-closed
Eyelids. His normal
Pink polka-dot umbrella
Is absent, replaced instead by
A drawing up of his tan jacket’s hood.
As the city bus approaches
I speak up in a small voice,
Twisted by a hint of accusation.
“Why do you smoke?”
His arm pauses in its
Upward motion, and he
Looks at me, eyes holding the confidence
Of blue water-colors, and
I look down, away from that gaze.
As he flicks the butt away,
Taking a first step towards
Open doors, he replies.
“Because it makes the world more beautiful.”
Six Months Later
Sheryl Roadcap
It is fall once again; a beautiful time of the year.                                                                  
Normally I eagerly welcome the autumn leaves’ warm hue, but this year it is different...in place of anticipation is dread.                                                                                                               
As I look out my window, I see the yellow, orange and brown leaves speckle the roadway, and a lump develops in my throat.
I feel so small as I sit here...              
People go about their lives: decorating, anticipating...smiling, laughing and being…                   
It occurs to me that life continues to unfold regardless...
I am walking alone without you…
Even if I sit in the corner, or all balled up there, nothing changes unless you say it does. 

 

 

Maury
Lynsey Kamine
From the halls of the University of Pennsylvania,
to the chapel with Connie Chung,
to the set of the Maury show starring
Maury Povich.  He holds the results of DNA
 
tests and lie detector truths
in an envelope.  Is little Richard avoiding big
Nakisha’s pudgy lovin’?   Hickeys from a
zipper pulled over his two timing thighs
 
don’t say otherwise.  His longest
running show since A Current Affair,
daytime talk of karaoke sex on parade.
Dominique seduces Paul with chicken
 
tetrazzini while Alycia is home with the baby.
Butter, parmesan cheese and mushrooms mixed
in a sexy bowl of love makin’.  “He got a taste
of my chicken noodles and he ain’t goin’ back to yo’
 
Campbell’s ass”   Thick and creamy
like Maury’s gray head of hair.  Alycia cries
on his shoulder because Paul gone done it again.
The glitter on Jor-Dann’s cheeks must be from
 
the dog next door, no $3.00 hooker or a midnight
whore.  “I swear I didn’t cheat.  I swear to Jesus
I didn’t.”  If your wallet doesn’t have your kids’
pictures in the folds, if you’re not
 
sure which ones are yours, then call
1-888-45-MAURY.  That’s 1-888-45-MAURY.
 

Everything Else is Set Aside
Aleena Deutschman
The sun falls heavy on the dashboard where her toes are perched like tiny birds, topped with light red lacquer. Black lines segment olive skin as the light posts block the sun, breathing a cool breath from the sun’s humid one. Breaking silence, her breath draws in sharp and quickly, like she was holding if for the past few minutes. Not inhaling, just exhaling. Just to keep quiet. Thick fingers sprinkled with blonde hairs land on her shin as he moves his thumb in a motion she can only call “comfort.” Unfocused eyes wander from unkempt finger nails to rough elbows. Elbows that propped themselves up in bed late at night while he examined her pure composition. Elbows that held her hand close to his body while she speculated her flaws. Elbows that she would put lotion on like a mother puts a bandage on her child’s wound, because she felt the extra care was necessary to make up for her lack of perfection. Focus comes to her eyes as his mouth opens, speaking rehearsed words that he knows helps with the comfort. He speaks these words in the obscurity of darkness when her convulsing sobs wake him, and during the midday when she has spent hours laying in an empty bathtub, yet each time it is like a potion. Dainty drops of salty liquids pass over Tuscan rose cheeks and directly into his thumb’s path of comfort. Rubbing her sadness into the elegance of her legs his concerns becomes deeper and wrinkles form above his eyes, for he knows she cannot be fixed. And broken she must live. The two will decide they can work on piecing the tattered shards of her existence and drive away from the park, but she will never allow herself to be whole. And he will learn to love her that way, a broken piece of a woman.
The Fight From Within
Alex Warren
You look around,
But you see nothing.
You’re starting to hear voices,
It must be something.
You turn on your lights,
Just to see them blown out.
You start looking frantically,
You begin to then shout.
The doors a few steps,
Then you’re free of this.
But once you get there,
You begin to notice.
The door is locked,
From the outside in.
You start to wonder,
What has happened.
Thoughts are coming,
You’re out of control.
You start to shake,
And then you fall.
Now you’re on the ground,
Lying paralyzed.
You don’t know what’s there,
Are you going to die?
Something’s crawling up your leg,
You don’t know what it is.
You try shaking it off,
You wonder what is this.
Now its on your face,
And you feel a sting.
Now your skins peeling off,
Like it’s been turned to string.
You’re still paralyzed,
But your screaming inside.
You want this to stop,
Now it’s eating your side.
Your flesh almost gone,
Just a little bit to go.
Your life slowly leaving,
All that’s left is your soul.
Your house is empty,
And you are now gone.
Your life is over,
And now you are done.
But wait what is this,
Your soul is not right.
And so it begins,
The fight for your next life.
We’re Just Bacon and Eggs
Joshua Long
All I know is I wake up
and you're in my clothes
saying you wanted to carry me
and the smell of my anxiety
around with you
and you started making waffle batter
and then we started talking about bacon

Then I woke up and realized none of that was real
And all I knew was that
the smell of you was on a jacket
I wore every night of the week
a few weeks ago
and it drifted off when there was a goodbye
an off-center hug which left me
feeling alright about my balance
and my feelings on highway driving
and then I saw you in my mind's eyes again
and I fell back asleep

and when I slept you were with me always
and always talking about bacon.

An Empty Room
Joshua Long
            The flakes of dust were circling the air of an attic that a boy called home, on Downing Street, in Piqua, Ohio. The dust particles were more or less the party-goers in a cycle that never ended, which all revolved around cigarettes and wine bottles and conversations.  Flakes of skin, cat hairs, cigarette ash, crumbs of food and sediments that can't be named by this author; drifting easily like the hours after Saturday Mass in the air. The inhabitant of the room was up in the sky, not so much in Heaven as on a Boeing 747 heading westward to lose track of reality in all senses and understanding of the phrase. The inhabitant had packed everything he held materially to his body, except for the flakes. All of which were left to move patiently within the breezes of the open windows, as they were daydreaming of hearing the iPod which soundtracks their every lives.
Digging in the Dirt
John Butoric
I stood on the precipice
Staring down at the Blackhand sandstone
At the rocks and water splashing to the ground
It was high up, the rocky ledge
And I stood there
Looking past the edge

She died a month before
Cancer racing through her body
Like RC cars on an electric track, swirling
Like marbles shaken in a human-shaped bag
It filled her thick as the smoke she devoured
Since she was thirteen until she was thirty-nine


Live to see Christmas
Till Christmas, the labcoats said
At the most at the least no one could be certain
But as of July we knew death would draw back her curtain
Eventually the cancer began to drift through her body
Like a Portuguese man-o-war floating in the sea


Just like me, we’re twins you and I
Look just alike up top don’t we, the baldman said
She doesn’t want to draw attention to herself
A wheelchair topped with a cap of a garish color
I look into the camera with my arm around her shoulder
My skin bronzed by the sand, sea and sun of Cancun


Two fist-sized time bombs nestled inside her head
Right rear and rear right, the labcoats said
Ten benign spots like freckles on her brain
The larger two untouchable for the sake of the ten
Oxygen to a tumor is like a bat to a melon:
Split it open and the seeds go everywhere


Forks holding cigarettes, so many
Like a nicotine salad
Shaking in addled hands to calm severed nerves
Tries to quit; the gum is utterly useless
The cancer sticks calm her, the damaged goods says
Her motor nerves have not been informed


The smell chokes me
I abhor it
It is a part of her, so I abhor her
For not allowing me another smell to remind me of who she was
I am told she wears lavender oil
I cannot tell under the mask of poison gas


The labcoat who responds to the first case is a bad man
Doctor Frankenstein is a more appropriate title
Than what his parents gave him
Stitching her skin, her breasts
With no finesse
His handiwork left her monstrous


Metal bars line the hallway to build her strength
She could walk again, the lab coats said
The bars were better utilized by myself in my youth
Than her, the broken doll
She could walk again if she tried
She didn’t try, she just asked for a light


Motor skills and depth perception were damaged
Too many stairs not enough ramps
Accessibility hindered, shaking voice, shaking hands
She was stubborn and got where she wanted
She dressed as a pirate a few times since then
She already had an eye patch and the wheels may as well been peg-legs

The good labcoat did few before her success
It was a risky prospect then, cutting open a head
Slicing the meninges and peeling it away
To pull out the grey pie piece
Like the overly ripe spots on an apple
Or another, brain-shaped piece of fruit

She fell on the way to the car
Heading to the hospital
On the front steps
He carries her in his arms and there’s shouting
I remember it clearly which is impossible
I was asleep in my bed the night of her aneurysm


Four days earlier she draws the Ghostbuster emblem
For her son’s fourth birthday—his hero is Bill Murray
They play “Pin the Tongue on the Ghost” with that picture
He loves his proton pack and is careful not to cross streams
They are poor but happy and he is naïve, young, a child
What a difference the passage of a few days can make


All things terrestrial to dust, all things terrestrial to four.


All before he has a care in the world, the mutant boy
Perfectly happy and digging in the dirt.
She and he watch with a smile as he tosses a worm to them
And closes his eyes as they wrench it screaming onto the hook
He pretends it doesn’t happen and counts out another four
Wriggling little things, never then to think how they are so very much alike.
A Splintered Staff (or, alternatively: Corrupted)
Hannah Rhodes
Information is spread,
Ungathered,
To one place.
Even if man saw accurately,
And not through colored lenses,
A veil,
Even if he understood the truth,
His conclusions would differ
On the same evidence.
Perception warps the truth,
Prejudice ruins science,
And judgement creates realities.
What sense of progress can we have?
With information spread so far
And corrupted by our own minds.
How can we lean on our own knowledge?
Even when we gain, we lose.
With every new generation
The technology of the last
Is added to ours,
And the technology of
The generation before them
Is lost.
A computer made in Ancient Egypt
Is buried in ruinous sands.
A prophecy in Ancient Greece
Is lost before it is written.
With conquest comes destruction
Of precious records,
Sacred knowledge.
Even today,
Records are fragile.
Electromagnetic pulse threatens all.
Viruses threaten nations.
Yet even what is recorded
Is corrupted
By bias, beliefs,
Tainted by human spin.
Our own corrupted minds
Lead to actions,
Actions trigger events,
And the world is changed.
Our own minds create
Our world,
And destroy it.
Though not completely,
Never completely.
The world bounces back...
For as long
As it is meant to.
There Once Were Four
Jacquelyn Steineman
1 loved 2
3 loved 4
4 had loved 2
2 still loved 4
One day 1, 2, 3 and 4 all came together.
1 could see the love
3 could see nothing
4 may still love 2
2 wanted to run off with 4
4 belonged to 3 now
1 was full of love
1 wanted 2 to be happy even without 1
At least 1 thought that.
Then 2 married 4
They had a baby
They went off to start their own life.
There was now only 1 and 3
3 hated 1
But hate is the other side of love
1 and 3 started dating
They never would marry
They did adopt ⅓
1 and 3 never saw 2 and 4 again
and ⅓ grew up
One day found ⅓
They fell in love.
They got married.
They had twins -9, +9
Their families did not get along though
took -9
⅓ took +9
They swore to never tell their children about the other
Time passed.
One day-9 met +9
They fell in love.
Innocence
Jacquelyn Steineman
Look to the hillside
See the new yellow-green grass, the first of the year.
Smell the bloodroot that covers the side of the hill.
Feel the warmth of the sun rising over the hilltop.
Watch the girl skip across the horizon.
Look at her braided blonde pig-tails as they bounce with each skip.
See that bright blue plaid dress flow with the slight breeze.
Look.
She sees the deer eating with her newborn.
She stops.
Deer and fawn run away.
She smiles and starts skipping again.
Almost to the bottom of the hill.
About to reach the woods.
Her smile fades a little,
Her skipping slows to a sedate walk.
Watch the girl as she looks left and right before entering the woods.
She stumbles and falls, she wasn’t looking ahead.
See how her dress is bent up, showing you her undergarments.
Look how exposed this poor girl is.
Poor little girl has no one to hold her hand as she enters the woods alone,
She trips over the skull of the last girl.
Look at this girl from the past.
Her faded and degraded purple fabric, was it ever a dress?
The bones are nearly covered by the dirt that has blown over them through the years,
Can you even see the pelvis to tell that it was a girl?
 

It’s Always Been a Problem for Me
Nate Fife
                              My heart_wasneverhard.
                            like GRANITE or MARBLE... its.
                              always been. more like_
                               paper_or_maybe. a leaf.
                           easily crumbled and thrown away.
                         It could also_ resemble. a math problem.
                        me.dividedbygirl.dividedbygirl.dividedbygirl.
                                     equals_nothing
                                          _or_
                                       m/g^3 = 0
                            (m divided by gcubed equals zero)
But I Remember a War
Nate Fife
I can't remember my Grandfather very well.
But I remember a war, I remember bullets waving goodbye to rifles, and intelligent little bits of
metal finding their way home through the bodies of men around my age.
I don't remember his voice.
But I remember the roar at the end of a barrel, the eruption of lead, and the death filled
laughter of the man standing next to me.
I don't remember his face.
But I remember a labyrinth dug into the ground; mazes dedicated to Esther, and the warrior king
David, a no man's land lined with barbwire and bodies
I don't remember his hands.
But I remember pushing through the bush, the prick of metal pushing into my skin, and the
feel of the trigger as I squeezed.
I can't remember my Grandfather very well...
But I remember a war.
Use For Skin
Sarah McCaslin
I have use for skin.
In evening, liquid summer
staggers through slender avenues
full of cracked sound.
We consume songs like wild wind
and burn morning with immense love.
I shower away secrets and dirt.
You leave your smell on me so
I can build these slices of reality.

Morning Musings
Ashleigh Winstead
The starlit night is like Hades’ black cloak slipping over Mother Earth.
The stars themselves are like the souls of the dead congregating and begging for mercy.
Songbirds sing their spritely tunes as the dawn slowly creeps up Father Sky’s back to sit on his shoulders and smile upon the world.
Creatures, young and old, stir in their warm beds; nests made of love and safety that could, at any moment, be shattered by tragedy.
Sitting here, listening to the sounds of approaching dawn, I wonder what this day will hold for me and for the people in my heart.
I long to see the faces of those so far from my fingertips; to hold the love lost to me to the world of academia-to hug the grandmother waging war with the dark forces of the Underworld in order to survive-to hold in my arms the child from another country which has so mesmerized my heart and mind.
Lying in bed, I wonder what will become of my future.
Thoughts race through my mind, fear through my veins like an icy poison that will strike at my heart at the sign of any moment of vulnerability.
But a peace instills itself into my heart and mind.
A calm overwhelms the fear and anxiety, giving my lungs room to breathe in the sweet serenity of the Holy Grail that is Life.
The City of Umbrellas
Lynsey Kamine
The sky spreads puddles of blackberry jam
on the streets of the city of Umbrellas.
Scooter pedals his two-seater bicycle,
soaking up the rain in his Cosby sweater.
Upstairs, Marie answers the telephone’s ring,
as an impatient whistle blows from the teapot.
 

A belly full of boiling water bubbles in the teapot,
while wires carry Mother’s newest blackberry jam
recipe out of her Midwest kitchen.  Marie’s diamond ring
yells “olly olly oxen free” to the missing man, to an umbrella
stand.  Her bare fingers tug on her goodnight sweater
as memories wheel around her apartment like a bicycle:
 
Hand-drawn Valentines, delivered by her boy on his bicycle,
in the middle of winter, when she was a little teapot --
short and stout, bulging the seams of her sweater;
another hand-me-down, spots stained with jam.
Marie danced in the rain, holding her Valentine, as her umbrella
slept on the stairs next to Papa’s stale smoke ring.
 
My dear Marie, a little rest will clear up those dark rings
under your tired eyes.
Just as surely as a bicycle
for two doesn’t travel well without an umbrella
to catch the rain and boil the drops in a teapot.
Toby on the News @5 delivers the Traffic Jam
Report to folks changing out of their sweaters.
 
Folks complain about their god damn sweaters,
overworked and underpaid never pays the ring
of bills always pouring in; fingers anxious to jam
the numbers.  Hands need held. Murky air begs for bicycles,
while Marie’s back burner only wants to hold a teapot,
which is hard to come by in The City of Umbrellas.
 
Scooter bikes faster and faster.  His umbrella
lost back on Route 33, with his cardigan sweater
that unraveled with the wind against the teapot’s
unanswered screams.  Across from the ring
around the rosies planted near the bicycle
shop on 16th lay the cardigan left in the traffic jam.
 
Marie’s umbrella sits next to her worn diamond ring.
In her goodnight sweater, she sees a two-seater bicycle
as her teapot cries and Mother calls for blackberry jam.
Pull Your Heart Off
Aleena Deutschman
Pull your heart up off your sleeves and lift it to the sky. Show the earth you have an offering and let the mother hold it close. She can pin your heart up on the fridge with little magnets shaped like teacups.
She can fold it up
                and
                    tuck it in
                          her back pocket
                                  if it makes it means that much.
She might even slip in inside her pillow case and listen to the crinkling of the paper under her head as she lays down each night. All you have to do is
                        take the heart off your sleeve.
You can drop it in the washing machine late at night. Hang dry it until noon the next day. Just please don’t put it back on. Leave
                        it off
                        your arms
                        today.
Hold them up towards to light; watch your skin as it glows bright. Mother will be proud of you, seeing clean arms on those sleeves. Let joy surround your souls and fill up any tiny holes. Mother brings happiness to brains and hearts. Hearts that wait upon your sleeve. Count the moon two by twos and remember patience is a virtue.