XVIII

there was a fox Boss in my dream
last night a fox the color of
the field before it wakes to green
I didn’t know there was a fox
about until it moved until
it moved like it was sliding Boss
it slid across a furrow then
I barely saw it sliding to
the woods sliding to the river Boss
I never know what’s going to cross
my path O never what will make
me ask another question that’s
a question in itself I’d like
to know why everything is stuck
in the middle Boss of something else
why the fox was stuck inside my dream
though it was making for the river
do you make nothing Boss but questions
did you set that fox inside my head
did you lay that field behind my eyes

-Maurice Manning, from Bucolics

Caitlin Murphy

Italian Roses

"Italian Roses"


Caitlin MurphyCaitlin Murphy is a senior at the University of Mary Washington with a double major in History and Digital Media Studies. She lives in Fredericksburg at the moment, and is a part time videographer and editor for several local businesses. In her free time, she is an avid photographer, and spend much of her free time taking pictures of the world around her.

Sorting

This is when the truth of our preferences comes out.  Of course, no one can talk about art objectively; if a piece works for you, it is because it appeals to your idea of good art.  If it does not work for you, it is because it appeals to someone else’s idea of good art.  Critics use technical language to talk about different mediums (“I love the shadow play in the photograph”; “The line breaks in ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’ move the reader effortlessly through the poem”; “Stanley Kubrick has an impeccable knack for mise en scene”).  These words and phrases are not employed to say that a piece is good or bad; they only aid the critic’s expression of his own preferences.  We all know, for instance, that a certain line break cannot be objectively good (that is, always effective all the time).

Technically, we don’t know that there is much difference between Jean-Luc Godard’s new wave masterpice “Breathless,” and Harold P. Warren’s “Manos:  The Hands of Fate,” frequently cited as the worst film ever made.  They both feature chaotic camera work, arbitrary silences, inexperienced actors, unforgettable performances, and seem to have been filmed on the fly without any serious plan for production.  And, of course, they both have mise en scene.  “Breathless” appeals to more people’s ideas of what a good movie looks like, “Manos” does not, and rightly so.  If, however, the lens through which we viewed art were strictly objective, “Breathless” would be as infamous as “Manos,” or “Manos” would be hailed as genius.  We don’t want to live in a world where either is true. 

Our decisions are subjective, but they are ours.  If one work of art appeals to us and another does not, it is by the sheer randomness of the cosmos.  It cannot be said that the pieces we accept are better than those we do not accept, and it would certainly be wrong to say the pieces we don’t accept are void of quality or value.  Such an attitude is reductive, and has no palce in the progressive world of modern art.  We thank you for work, and for your bravery.  So be it.

Annie Truslow

"People Are Power Is People"

"People Are Power Is People"

 

 


Annie TruslowAnnie Truslow is a senior at the University of Mary Washington, majoring in Sociology. She is passionate about social justice, and seeks to be an activist, a scholar, and a leader in the movement for progressive social and political change. Annie’s desire to create is motivated by a yearning to conceptualize the lived experience of the body post-trauma.

Dinner with Mom

I smelled smoke.

At dinner, my mother lit a cigarette. She was old, trashy, red lipstick and deep wrinkles. Ash fell from her lit fuse into an ash tray sitting on our old, darkened table. The table took up almost the entire “dining room,” with the kitchen opening up right next to it. Adjacent to the table was a glass sliding door leading outside. It was snowing. My mother flicked her cigarette above the tray, sending ashes down like the cold flakes outside. Then she put the torch up to her lips and inhaled.

The hot world is measured in hot bursts: puffs from a cigarette, drags of molten tobacco. We’re all made of fire, steaming from creases made of stone, inner and outer, beautiful and sans beautiful; we’re all volcanoes, brimming with passion and ready to explode: the first bite of an apple, the breaths of a diver, the exhaust of a semi truck, a lover’s moaning, or the way my skin prickled as the thought of beauty and fire flew over its folds. Hell is a giant ash tray and we are the eternal smoldering embers: breathe in, breathe out: red, then black, forever.

“How’s it going, Nate?”

“Oh, just fine.”

I stared at green beans, twirling my fork on my plate.

“School go all right today?”

“Oh yeah, it was all good.”

“That’s good; I’m… happy everything’s going well then.”

I could see her cigarette smoke in my mind, feel out where it traveled, and hear it sucked deep down into dark lungs, where it sat, permeated, and frothed. I wondered if smoke ever got lonely there, with only one heart to smother, enrapture, and envelope. I imagined it unfolding through her stomach, conforming to bodily walls, sticking to acids and phlegm. It would branch down her legs, through the blood and veins to her feet, filling each toe evenly and topped off, brimming with smog; then it would rise up into her head, surrounding her mind until it was a thick, dark nest; and then finally it went to her arms and hands, baking into her fingers, until it lastly returned to its mother fag, so it could begin again and try and try and try not to be lonely.

Her mouth wasn’t the only escape for the black dust; some of it stayed with her, little by little, becoming cancerous, laying eggs in her scalp, resting within her spine; it seeped through pores, insidious, until her skin was rotten and dead. Her flesh hung off of her; it became wrinkles and fat, slowly making her into a mannequin: sleeves curling and uncurling, swirling vacuums of skin, reverberating and uncoiling; she was an undone spring – mutated, black and gray and brown and yellow: the color of a hilly mound of earth, no grass – cold and implacable, soft and dark: a still, painted picture of contained depression.

“Your report card came.” She says.

“Oh, okay.”

“You’re doing good, kid.”

“Oh, yeah?” I ask. She takes a cool drag. I could see it come out her ears.

“Yeah. You’re pretty smart. Might even do better than your father, who knows?”

I paused – another cool drag.

“Where is dad, anyway?”

It’s hard. A lot of people can’t even see the smoke; they can’t see the dust. She couldn’t; if she could see it, I wonder if she’d stop. She scared me, sometimes, as a thing outside of the hold, away from sands of the preeminent. She was beautiful too, you know, prettier than you might think. If you looked at her long enough, like I have, she flickers and fades like an old movie, or a twinkling star, or the three-quarter rotation of a lighthouse: on, and then off, forever.

 


Hans DaltonHans Dalton is a senior at the University of Michigan. He will be graduating at the end of April with Honors in Biochemistry. Since freshman year, he worked in a pharmacology laboratory where he studied epilepsy-related research. Hans works knowing that creativity is important in all fields.

A Practical Babysitter’s Handbook

Evening jobs are the Holy Grail of babysitting. That’s when the kid(s) are already asleep when you get there; when there’s no crying/feeding/diaper changing/more crying to deal with; when there’s nothing to do but sit on a couch slightly less comfortable than your own, watch TV for a few hours, then collect your pay at the end of the night after assuring the parents that their children were perfect angels who didn’t stir even once. Next best are morning jobs. This might seem counterintuitive—the prospect of setting an alarm during the languorous months of summer is generally something to be avoided at all costs—but babysitting in the morning allows you to get your work out of the way while the rest of your friends are also busy (either sleeping like you wish you were or working at a “real” job). Once you get over the trauma of dragging yourself out of bed before noon, you’ll be glad to have the free time in the afternoons for all your social engagements. [Disclaimer: there is no guarantee that said social engagements will actually materialize.]

No matter the time of day, it is essential that you always strive to care for children of the age most suited to your personality. Do you actually like children and get to know them? Go for elementary school age and older. Does the thought of small talk with a 10-year-old send you running? Stick with kids whose vocabularies are limited to words like “mama” and “poopy”. Children of this age have the added bonus of still being portable. This is crucial when the desires of the child and your desires do not align (read: all the time). If the little munchkin won’t stop pulling books off the shelf, you can simply pick him up and move him somewhere with fewer opportunities for destruction. But when a seventh grader refuses to come inside when it starts thunder storming, physical restraint isn’t really an option and warnings of impending electrocution prove to be surprisingly ineffective.

Parents will not answer your emails. They will call at inconvenient times and they will leave overly long messages. They will not remember when you said you’d be out of town. Sometimes they will even call when you are sitting by the side of a pool in Florida, 900 miles away from them and their doctor’s appointment, wondering why you aren’t at their house. You will remind them once again that you are out of town. They will apologize profusely, but they will still forget when you go visit your grandmother the next weekend.

Each time someone asks you how you’re spending your summer and you respond with, “Babysitting, mostly,” you won’t feel any less lame. You may cling to your only source of comfort—the reminder that your tax-free $10 an hour is more than a lot of your friends make at their “real” jobs—but that can only help so much.

Encourage the child to spend as much time napping as possible. Justify this to yourself by realizing that the child is not crying when it’s sleeping, so it must be happy. When the mother comes home and finds out how much her child slept while she was gone, she will complain about how now the kid will be wide awake for her and she won’t get anything done. She will act like she’s joking. She’s not.

If you’re not careful, you might get a little attached to the kids. You’ll start to notice how nice it is to feel the four-month-old breathing against you when she falls asleep against your chest. You’ll feel flutterings of pride when the toddler learns a new word. Getting that one fussier kid to crack a smile after his most recent bout of tears might even warm your cold heart a few degrees—until he starts crying again, at least. Then all you can do is roll your eyes and get back to your important work of waggling his favorite teddy bear in front of him and plying him with crackers.

 


Magdalen Silberman is a Junior Creative Writing major at Carnegie Mellon University. She was born and raised in Arlington, Virginia, is obsessed with her cat, and wants to be Amy Poehler when she grows up.

In South India

They call me Jezebel / so often / I’ve forgotten my own name.
I left it somewhere in Mamallapurum, where the elephant etchings
lumber out of the stone / lost it as I was climbing onto the millionth
train / shaking my bare shoulders at the sari-clad women.

Yes, I sleep in a small bed with four large men—
we debate religion and sex—the only two reasons to get on our knees.
I am the harlot. In an autorickshaw, the driver asks my name
and I improvise—Elizabeth
aristocratic, British, wealthy, rounded edges—the opposite of myself.

(I’m sharp, unmarried, American, obsessive.)

Boys, be outrageous with me! Sure, there are fewer rules for you to break. But still—
The wind funnels through—we pass goats/crows/dogs/boars/cats/horses/camels—
I am all of them, none of them, nameless.

 


Caroline KesslerCaroline Kessler, a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, was raised outside of Baltimore. Her poetry and prose has been published in The Susquehanna Review, Dossier, and Collision, among others. She currently lives (and bicycles!) in San Francisco.

Grains

We traveled too far on rum soaked soles, tumbling,
chasing our toes to the icy line of the sea,
tripping over sand castles and falling headfirst
into arms weighed down with thick blood. Our spines
were arched against the stars, shaping pictures
formed from bones and silent smiles. My breath
left its echoes in the air, as bands
of ice frosted my beer bottle lips. Your eyes
were floating in black moonlight, the pattern
of the waves reflected seamlessly. I fumbled
with hands full of feelings, reaching for frozen
fingers, yours. My disposable camera
glared against the night, stalking shadows
and shocking crabs back into their dens.
A moment etched, like the molds left by
our feet before the waves overwhelmed them.

 

 


Kyle LeflerKyle Lefler is a graduating senior at the University of Mary Washington. She is an English major, with a camp counselor’s heart. She loves most things, but especially the Avett Brothers, Pilot G2 pens & mountaintops. Poetry & digital photography are her artistic outlets of choice… and dancing, of course.

We Are Reading The Submissions

In my lifetime, the only consistency there has been in the country’s political dialogue is the Presidential bashing.  Presidents Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama have sparked some of the most vehement backlash from the media and public the United States has ever seen, but only recently it has become vogue to publish books declaiming the President while he is still in office.  Obama has probably suffered the worst rash of opinionated smear-literature in the history of mud-slinging.

This entry is not a partisan plea for peace.  Instead, it is invigorating to be reminded that we live in a country where such anti-establishment texts are not only permitted, but embraced by the populace (which of Glenn Beck’s or Bill O’Reilly’s books is not a New York Times bestseller?)

As we sort through the submissions, we are continually delighted to live in a place where there is a demand for eclectic, unique art, and that people are willing to proffer their work for our consideration.  We hope you find joy in that, too, and we hope you continue to submit.

Image courtesy anh-usa.org

 

Tyler Heslop

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Tyler HeslopTyler Heslop is a student at Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, VA where he will graduate with a BA in English in the spring of 2012.  His photograhy is strongly founded in black and white film techniques.  The picture of the P.O. Box is a Pinhole photograph which uses the most basic means to make an image.

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