by Raquel Wasserman
Was she cheating on him again?
Come on, she murmured. Let me go, Amadeo. Jesus.
She was a Ford model with sunbaked hair and one quarter Choctaw blood. The next Bridget Hall. Her name was Danny. She was head taller than him. She was real tall.
He was a movie director named Amadeo. He knew Toback and Woody Allen. She was with him because he was hot – half Italian and half Russian with curly brown hair, a white boy’s afro. They fought all the time, and she would throw away her key, but something always brought her back, with a bottle of vino. The soft camel hair coat sliding to the ground. He kissed her and all was well. They listened to Leonard Cohen. He called her his shiksa.
Once, after a fight, she had rushed out of their apartment. As she wandered near Union Square, she saw a man in the deli staring at her. It was Leonard Cohen. Crazy! He had a baseball cap on, and tipped it, at her. It was a testament to New York. And to her perfect and endless beauty.
Her first youth crush had been the nicest boy. Boy, did she love that Michael Thompson. He lived once in the weeping Mississippi mossy trees near the busted-up plantation of their school. She adored those old houses.
How she chased Michael. Beautiful name. His eyeglasses, buttery hair to his shoulder, and one of those aristocrat’s beak noses. She saw him at the middle school dance; she couldn’t get the chutzpah to dance with him. Oh well.
It was the enduring passion of a girl who had never been kissed by anyone but her randy teenage neighbor, Seth. The first man to call her beautiful. She was wearing a yellow dress and jelly shoes. He caught her by her black hair in the back yard and called her Indian princess and kissed her at sundown. What was the use with country boys? Being kissed by your neighbor too early was the story of every girl from Tennessee to Florida.
by Michael Prihoda
another bag of garbage
taken to the basement
and I —conveniently—
forget what happens
the big nothing
easy as I left.
until my hand
the center console
without finding yours
and my eyes
kept crossing paths
with the odometer
and larger numbers
until I began
this (only beginning) nothing
apathy in the face
of a chewing llama.
he could eat
as well as not
and we could live
as well as not,
as our cracking eyes
wake slow from
the reason for our forty million fantasies
by Julie Davis
I’m scared I will get stuck
like I got stuck on you.
by Spencer Nix
So time yields itself to a plane.
Have we drawn numbers so close and many,
to estimate its place in our minds,
where measurements taper off into a length at least somewhat adequately divine.
Form no opinion except bare foreboding
where the littlest heads build themselves
Cages to have championships in.
Of course they all win, win, win, they're staring at an idol
in a spitting image of self-provoked imagination.
May Pine trees grow from granite and thistle from light.
I am far from a center,
Make moon shape us a star path.
May we walk in energy.
Propel ourselves against space,
cloudless and inconsistent
but in single
recurring for a second infinite time.
by Chris Drew
Cut-up Poetry excerpted from
The Practical Standard Dictionary of The English Language
by Brittany de Carona
Once, when I was younger, I touched a butterfly. I watched it float for almost an
hour, around and around my head like a lovely little halo. Its wings, thin and delicate,
beat to the rhythm of my steady thump-thump heart. I thought I was alone in the world,
just my butterfly and me, sitting beneath a tree in the backyard of my grandmother’s
house. I was trying to read a book, but kept splattering the pages with my tears instead.
For that hour, with my butterfly, I couldn’t stop thinking about how lonely I was.
I was nothing like my family. They didn’t understand my constant need to escape
the world we lived in through books. They laughed at me, made jokes at my expense (I
was referred to as Mother Thesaurus, for my love of peace and words), or they simply
ignored me, failing to notice when I disappeared from the house for hours. I was not there
and they were none the wiser and I grew to accept my displacement of our collective
I was nothing like my friends. I was wondering if they were even my friends,
because “friends” typically knew what was going on in each other’s lives. They had no
idea that I was technically homeless, again sleeping on my grandmother’s floor because
I had nowhere else to go, or that I hadn’t slept in a bed for years. No friends, no family,
nothing but nothingness. That was how I felt and so I sat there, crying into the yellowing
pages of Lord of the Flies with the butterfly floating around my quivering shoulders.
by Joshua Greschner
As I waited for my interview with my cousin Carmen in front of the paleontology museum in the basement of the Earth Sciences Building, I ruminated on the large, lurid crystalline formations in glass displays, baked for millions of years within the ovens of the Earth and excavated by geologists, smiling widely in photographs beside them.
“Those rocks are pretty cool,” I say to Carmen before we settle in for the interview. She arrives with a bulging green backpack, exhausted from hiking from her petrochemicals lab on the Engineering side of campus.
“Those? Yeah, no, those are minerals,” she says.
My cousin Carmen is a second year geology student. Along with half of the students in her program, she plans to work in the oil industry.
“What exactly do geologists do?” I ask.
“We’re basically Earth’s historians. We’re reading the Earth’s story book… which are rocks.”
“Is that what your prof told you the first day of class?”
“No, that’s my philosophy. I thought it up myself.”
“Then what exactly do you have to do with oil?”
“Have you ever heard of the term rockhound or rocksniffer?”
“No. What is it?”
“So you know what hound dogs do? They sniff around on the ground and say ‘wooooo’, I found this. That’s what I do but not so… not in a literal sense. And if I find oil, they pay me. And if I don’t, they pay me anyway.”
by Desmond Fuller
The light was almost used up. What remained fell in pale stripes over the basketball courts like a ghost tiger biting the chainlink that bled shadows into the pooling dark.
Bryce spun the basketball, the taut rubber rolling under his fingers as he took a shot; the gasp of the net as it spit the ball back to him. He put new fractures in the quiet with each percussive dribble. He liked when the courts were empty. The passed day lingered in the stillness, recorded in spilled soda, cigarette butts in the fallen elm leaves and lazy hornets circling a discarded Happy-Meal bag.
When the courts were too crowded, he sometimes met up with Pete at the bridge. They would jump the guardrail and skid their way down the incline, grasping at protruding roots and rocks, their shoes pushing up dust. Sometimes they grasped at the loose dirt crumbling between their fingers. They walked the floor of the shady gorge along the train tracks to the school and then home, making dirty jokes and trying to forecast which of them would get laid first. As it was, that was no longer up for debate, and Bryce wasn’t up for fielding Pete’s questions about Michelle.
Blood was hot in his palms. The ball bounced off the backboard and stuttered to a halt near where his jacket lay by the gate. As he stooped to recover the ball, he heard his phone beep in the jacket pocket. He didn’t need to check to know that it was Michelle. They hadn't spoken since she told him about New York.
He took a shot. The ball bounced.
The evening felt indefinite. One could stay out till dawn moving in that darkness. It was hard to convey its impermanence to the blood in his chest and the sweat in his hair as he ran the ball again and again. Tomorrow was vague, out of mind, or maybe was too easily ignored.
He would graduate soon. But it felt abstract, like the paintings they had seen in art class the other day, with the giant animal skulls that loomed over tiny deserts and mountain peaks. Mrs. Sphensen had said the paintings were supposed to convey a sense wonder. Also, that the lady who painted them had suffered a nervous breakdown.
His brother Kris had left for college two years ago and received a three year prison term instead of a diploma. Somewhere in those tiny desert mountains Kris borrowed a stranger’s car and drove it over a fire hydrant. In his letters to Bryce he sometimes worried about getting beat on, but mostly worried that he wouldn’t have a chance against Bryce at one-on-one when he got out. He hoped Bryce was excited about being done with high school.
Bryce hadn't written back.