Thursday, December 30, 2010

Poem by Elsa Morante

Minna the Siamese
I’ve got a little animal, a cat: her name is Minna.
Whatever I put in a plate, she eats,
and whatever I put in a bowl, she drinks.
Crouching she comes to me, watches me, then sleeps,
so soundly I forget she’s there. But if, then,
grateful, I call her name, in sleep an ear
trembles: her name casts a shadow over her sleep.
To give joy and grace, she has a little guitar;
if I scratch her little head or neck, she sweetly plays.
If I think of the centuries and all that divides us,
I’m afraid. Afraid for me: she knows nothing of this.
But if I see her playing with a string, if I gaze
at her pale blue irises, happiness is mine again.
On holidays, when everyone is merry,
I feel sad for her, that she doesn’t discern between the days.
So that she too will celebrate, for lunch I give her a little fish;
the motive she can’t understand: but joyous, she eats.
Heaven, for love of her, gave her nails and teeth:
but she, so gentle, only uses them in play.
I am taken by sadness at the thought that, even if I were to take her life,
I’d have no trial, no fires of hell, no prison.
She gives me so many kisses that to be kind to her I flatter myself,
but I know that another mistress, or me, to her it makes no difference.
She follows me, so I believe I am everything to her,
but I know my death could not touch her...
Translated by Nick Benson from the Italian of Elsa Morante (1912-1985), Alibi. Longanesi, 1958; Garzanti, 1988.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Poem by John Alter

The angels in heaven
those who wear pearls and
vintage blazers gossip in Latin and know that when you add the suffix
to a word it means full of when they heard
the good news of your arrival
it is reported exclaimed one to the other

good gracious
have mercy

The angels in heaven
those who love to walk
from one end to the other of their home town
& carry
in celestial bags all that a good day requires
when they heard the good news of your arrival

good gracious
have mercy

For us who remain here
with our forlorn dictionaries
with the streets of our home town that seem
less inhabited
who are clearly not angels
what remains to some measure is what
you taught us

love’s etymology
how by adding the prefix com-
to the word passion
you discover a compassionate universe
how by replacing the prefix con-
with trans- you discover
love’s transformative power

O our need remains also
for those angels who insist on wearing
even when the only task at hand is to
rake the fallen leaves who know what it means to
vir bonum semper discipilus est

--for Margaret Addicks

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Letter by Manolo Gonzalez

My Beloved Editor, Ms. Wintour:

As we both know, my glorious 300-page novel is due in about eleven hours. Well, there is just one tiny problem with making that deadline. Now, now, before you fret and gird your loins, let me assure you that the novel, aptly titled Untitled (very avant-garde, don’t you think?) is completely and one-hundred percent finished, and written in its entirety, from beginning to end. It has been proof read, water proofed, edited, illustrated and even indexed by yours truly, and I do most certainly believed that you will find it most adequate for publication. In fact, it was even dedicated to you by yours-truly:
To a never ending Wintour.”

At first I thought it was too kitsch, but a little sparkle goes a long way, don’t you think?

Anyways, as you most certainly are aware I spent the last year in seclusion, writing this opus of mine in an extremely secluded location, Cancun, Mexico. There I would write day and night ferociously, with absolutely no human contact or distractions. At all. Ever. But of course, when decided on by pure necessity, I had to venture outside and chat with the locals while I gathered up my living essentials. The natives of Cancun, of course, speak Spanish. I, myself, being from Colombia and having Spanish as my mother tongue, I only spoke and thought in Spanish without even thinking twice about it.

In here lies the problem; because I was speaking in Spanish, listening to Spanish, thinking and living in Spanish, I was writing in Spanish. Unbeknownst to me, I wrote the entire novel in Spanish. Everything is completely in Spanish, thus being completely useless to your current needs.

Unfortunately, I will require another full year to properly and coherently translate my book, Untitled, into standard American English. This is a most regrettable set back, but I can guarantee you that I am doing everything in my power to make sure that the novel is translated in as little time as possible. To guarantee that it is done quickly and as efficiently as possible, and in English this time, I have secluded myself in the quietest American city imaginable, New Orleans, Louisiana. As I write I am currently locked up in my flat above the quaint Bourbon Street, in the incredibly charming French Quarter. In fact, it has proven to be such a perfect place to write, that I have already translated one full page of the novel. This page is, of course, available at your disposal at any time you so desire. And now, I must return to my translations.


I. C. Buttz

P.S. Since in essence I am actually writing two separate novels, one in Spanish, and one in English, I am going to require double payment. Cash is preferable, due to the scarcity of banks in isolated New Orleans. Cheers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

News Item by Manolo Gonzalez

Valentino De La Mancha, 18, was killed yesterday in a series of the most unfortunate events. At approximately 2am he was driving his black Mercedes-Benz down Santa Monica Boulevard, with passengers Kleo Viterelli and Neguisa Bostani, when they struck a speeding, red SmartCar as they made a left turn on the intersection of Santa Monica and Beverly Glen. No one in the Mercedes or the Smartcar was injured but the SmartCar was completely destroyed. The driver of the red SmartCar escaped with cuts and bruises, and literally, we mean ‘escape.’ It turns out the driver of the SmartCar, an unidentified red-headed man, had stolen the car from the parking lot of Kisses–n-Hugs Children’s restaurant, located on Wilshire Boulevard and Barrington. With the police already chasing him, he made a run for it after the collision, and was finally apprehended hours later hiding behind an empty Blockbuster, a place where ‘no one would go and find him’.

When the police arrived on the scene, merely seconds after the crash and after the unidentified man escaped, they discovered that De La Mancha, as well as his passengers, were all completely naked inside the vehicle.

“They said they were Canadian,” explained Officer Guadalajara, who was at the scene. “There ain’t no law against driving while on the naked in Cali, so we just lettem go, esay.

Left a little but shaken and confused, De La Mancha and passengers continued on their way, where according to reports, they stopped at a 76 Gas Station, Ralph’s Supermarket, and at Chi Chi LaRue’s on Little Santa Monica Boulevard before continuing their trip, heading towards Malibu.

“Our plan was just to have a picnic outside of Cher’s house,” said Bostani, 18, who survived the ordeal, along with Viterelli.

“We tried to figure out an outfit that would be something akin to what Cher would wear, but when we couldn’t come up with anything fabulous enough we just decided to go there nude,” finished Viterelli.

Once at Cher’s house, located in the northern stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway, about 20 second from Pepperdine University, tragedy struck the group.

“At Ralph’s Supermarket we bought those fancy little Ferrero Rocher chocolates, because they’re delicious and we thought that they would be something Cher would eat, because they’re delicious,” said Bostani, “but then Valentino tried to eat two at once and he began to choke. Everyone knows that the correct way to eat a Ferrero Rocher is to eat one layer by layer.”

De La Mancha continued choking on the two chocolate balls in his mouth, with his two friends unable to, or unwilling to, help.

“He eats like that all the time,” said Viterelli, “we thought he was used to having two balls in mouth by now.”

Without the help of his two friends, De La Mancha continued choking, making very loud whopping noises bent over the car. In fact, his choking noises became so loud that at approximately 4am, Cher herself came out from her house to see what was happening outside.

“Those two huge, fabulously gothic yet, a tad Venetian gates opened up, and we knew that it was Cher, we just knew. When we saw it was her, we were awestruck. Actually, you could say we were Moonstruck. But Valentino, he was still choking and didn’t hear her walk out because of all the noise he was making,” said Bostani. “But once he did see her, still choking, and naked, he got completely surprised. Too surprised, I would say.”

After the appearance of Cher, De La Mancha was so surprised that even with two chocolate balls in his throat, he swallowed, and thus, ceased to be choking.

“That was all good, but then in his shock and amazement, he didn’t see where he was stepping and he got run over by a speeding black Prius. It was dark, and the car makes no noise; it was impossible to know it was there.”

The driver of the Black Prius, while still at large, has been described as a tall, red haired man, seen by a witness around a Blockbuster parking lot earlier that night. There are currently no leads on the hit and run driver.

“It really sucks, but at least we got our picture with Cher,” said Bostani.

“She’s fabulous,” said Viterelli.

Valentino De La Mancha died at Cedars Sinai Medical Center earlier this morning from the injuries related to the accident at 6am.

“A large shard of glass sliced his leg open in one clean cut. This would have been easily prevented if he were wearing jeans,” said Dr. Rhuman, treating surgeon at Cedars Sinai.

De La Mancha is survived by two illegitimate children, Amadeus, 2, and Rigoberta, 1, birthed by two different mothers. He was a beloved student and classmate, known for his big heart in supplying alcohol to the teachers and sharing with the class. He will be best known for his generosity in supplying illicit substances to his friends and colleagues.

“His motto always was Chering is Caring,” said his 11th grade teacher, Ms. Cox, with tears in her eyes.

He will surely be missed.

Memorial services are scheduled for this Monday at 8pm, unless a new episode of Gossip Girl is on, in which case it would be postponed until Thursday.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Poem by Cola Hines

Against Description
Well I’d say in general there is too much in here
and when you open it up, it all falls out —
so why invite us anyway? To help clean up this mess,
or be impressed —
but anyone saturated with stuff and nonsense would agree
a breath of fresh air is far more useful
you carry the antidote around
in a pocket 
amid the clutter this does not connect yet another
thing that shrieks unbidden —
the last refuge of content a high shelf above the door; watch out when you reach up
your smile is an airport and I travel far; but in the pleasant and cobbled streets 
of Viscera I meet Migraine —
she has sexy legs and a face you can’t imagine. End of story

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sonnet by Karen Layman

Perhaps I am crazy—I see things, I hear things.
I remember my dreams with startling clarity,
Wonderful, chaotic tangles of people and various other strings
But the real and mundane? I only bother with them rarely
But I’m not the only one—I can’t be
There must be someone, somewhere
Who is “weirder” than me.
Or do all of us “wierdos” live in our own castles in the air?
Maybe we’re all insane—
“We’re all mad here”
Every one of us, running around and raising Cain
Each in our own right a chevalier
And a hoper, and a schemer—
Or perhaps I’m merely a chronic daydreamer.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Poems by KT McVeigh

The Sea

I’m sitting on the beach
With my legs out in front of me, bent at the knees
And my hands propping me up on the damp sand
And the red sun will never set
It’s stamped into the sky
The waves beat against each other
They are capped with white
Their friction is a furious motion
But they just fall into each other
They just sink and become one
They are the way things are
They are the way it is
They are not beautiful
They are charming
They have an abysmal charm
Like a long finger bending into itself
I watch you, waves
The shore is round and black
The sea goes on forever
Forever is the sea
I am a dot on the edge of the sea 

*        *        * 

I am in our room
With the thin velvet blanket
Which was a sort of pea green
And there were seagull decals on the sliding glass door
And there were shells we collected in the ashtray on the porch
And the floors were smooth, flat, white rock tiles bigger than my head at the time
And the porch was a box on the side of the building
And if you pressed your nose against the screen it went out of focus and you could see the ocean
But the camera could only do that once or twice
And those are the pictures I’ve misplaced that are burned into my memory
Of the blinding white sun with the orange and pink and purple and navy
And the black silhouette of the osprey in the nest at the top of the palm tree
The sun sliding down into the sea
How it looked like a runny egg
To me
But now that I’ve written this down
I’m going to forget it
Because I’ve somehow subconsciously given myself that permission
Up until now I’ve had to regularly summon back that memory
Those sensory details
And picture myself there
So I wouldn’t forget
So it would stay etched in my mind forever
That scene
Of sitting on that bed
And feeling those cool tiles beneath my little feet
And pushing back the curtains and….
That smell
When I push back the curtains, my nostrils flare and I deeply inhale the something that should be there
In my memory I can expect it
The sweet aroma of somewhere I haven’t been in years
But there’s nothing
That’s the saddest thing
The saddest thing of all is that I can’t remember the smell
Only when I smell it
Which I did recently
And I fell back against the wall and I felt like I couldn’t breathe
Because I don’t know what causes the smell
It’s unidentifiable with anything but that apartment
And when I smell it, there I am
I am in our room with the orange juice carton and the low chandelier above the round kitchen table
And the counter and the stove and the closet full of beach supplies
The umbrellas and the plastic molds of crabs and sandcastle molds and buckets and shovels and the boogie boards and the blow-up raft
And the blueberry muffins Dad used to bring home for breakfast
And the fridge and the bathroom with the light above the mirror and the TV in the middle of the room where we’d watch the Disney channel
And Mommy and Daddy’s room that was always dark and like a cave
And the carpet and the closet and the must and the shades
And the sound of our steps echoing down the hallways as we ran
And the smell of outside with the palm trees
And Uncle Bob’s
And the ice cream
And the red trolley
And the pointy #1 necklace Daddy hid under the rock for me
And the pirates and the other kids and the grass and the sun and the birds and the fishing poles and the smiles and the waves and the laughing, always laughing
And the thin velvet blanket on my bed
Which was a sort of pea green
But softer, sweeter
And comforting
And my bright runny egg, sliding down into the sea
And the smell of the curtains
Which is gone.
And if fate doesn’t happen to direct me to where it lingers
I might never know that smell again

Sunday, November 21, 2010

dialogic interlude/coffee break by Nellie Simmons

So who are you?

I'm not really sure. I go by a few names. Char, Charlie, Nells, Baja...and for a time, Ryann.

What would you like us to call you?

I suppose Nellie is good. That's how many know me. So yeah, Nellie.

Okay, Nellie it is. So what do you want us to know?

well...I'm drinking Pirate Death Coffee...I don't know if anyone really cares, but I am.

Pirate Death Coffee? What is it?

Well, I'm not sure. It's....deathly.

It sounds strong.

It is...It's strong enough to let you fight off a pirate attack...or, join one. At least, that's what I've been told.

But it's like...1:45 in the realize that, right?

Oh yes. Yes, I am fully aware of the time. Are you aware of what time it REALLY is?

Um...excuse me?

The real time. Are you aware?

Um...yes, of course. Anyway, let's continue, shall we?

Of course not. We have to drink our Pirate Death Coffee first.

But...can't you drink it and talk at the same time?

Oh yes, I'm sure I can. The question is, can you?

Can I what? Drink and talk?

No, of course you can't. They allow you to drink on the job? What kind of people are your employers?, I mean...wait...what? Who's conducting this interview anyway? You or me?

You or me? Or you or I? Which shall we be? I am, of course. Here, drink this, it will help.

What is it?

I told you, Pirate Death Coffee. Real pirates don't cry. Come on now, get it together.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Journal entry by Kirsten Bouthiller

I roll out of bed and stumble onto the hard, roughly carpeted floor. Cold and tired, my head is already throbbing. It is too early for this. Just found out that Andrew took the car last night so I can’t drive up to see Sean. Awesome. Oh, and now I’m in a screaming fight with my mom over her letting Andrew take the car. Lovely. My eye feels like it’s going to pop out of my head. Called Sean and he can’t drive down because he has to “paint the deck” like he’s had to all summer. If I want to see him I’ve got to drive myself up there. No, Mom and Dad won’t drive me. I’ll call Andrew, see when he’s getting home. He’s not up yet? You have got to be kidding me. A slight twinge crosses through my stomach and I begin to feel nauseous. Two hours later, after being in a terrible mood and wanting to both cry and kill someone, Andrew pulls into the driveway. He informs me that he’s going back to town anyway but I tell him that I’m driving because I need to get there NOW. He tosses me the keys while I mutter angrily under my breath. Head still about to explode, I weave through traffic at speeds that shouldn’t be discussed. When I finally make it to his house, I see that he hasn’t even pulled out the stain for the deck. I walk into the house and am relieved to see him. My body instantly relaxes. We play rock band for a bit until he has to tune drums for his dad. While he tunes drums, I play computer games. My headache only worsens from staring at the computer screen until it reaches a breaking point. I leave my computer on the coffee table and join Sean sitting on the floor. Trying to keep my cool, I smile. Do you need a hand? He’s angry. The drum he has to fix up is missing an important part, though I have no idea what he’s talking about. As he keeps ranting, tears stream down my face because the stomach has flipped and my head is pounding. He picks me up and puts me on the couch. Take a nap. What I thought would only be an hour at the most of a nap turned into four. I wake up at seven p.m. on his couch to the sound of a movie he's watching and the smell of lasagna in the oven. Feel better? A little, I guess. Not really though. Join me, I’m watching a movie. What movie? Not sure, but it’s really good. Okay, when’s dinner? Mom, Dad! When’s dinner? In ten minutes. In ten minutes. Great, I’m so hungry. Get over here and watch this movie with me. As I watch, my eyes feel heavy and I lose my appetite. His parents call us in to the kitchen for dinner. We sit down and his parents dish out our food, I try to manage it down. Excuse me for just a moment. I bolt to the bathroom. Reach for the sink knob and the toilet at once. All the water I drank down found its way back up. You’re okay. You are okay. I walk back into the kitchen and act like nothing happened. Don’t be rude, you’ve got to eat. I barely eat half my plate. After dinner, Sean and I walk outside briefly. We sit in the driveway looking at the stars. I think I’m sick. Why’s that? This is kind of really embarrassing... I feel like I’m going to puke. Are you alright? Well... during dinner... Oh no, you were sick weren’t you? I mean, sort of? How do you feel now? Awful. How about we go inside and you lie down a bit more. Okay. We begin to walk to his back door. One step. Two steps. Don’t puke, please don’t puke. Steady your head, clear your mind. You’re fine. YOU ARE FINE. Um, I’ll see you inside. I run up the stairs and into the bathroom. It literally feels like my stomach is flipping itself inside out. A demon roars from the depths of my chest. Hot tears flow down my cheeks. Stumbling out of the bathroom, Sean is standing in the middle of his kitchen staring at me. Uh, are you alright? Not really. Do you feel any better? I never want to eat lasagna again. You’ve got quite the demon in your stomach. He laughs. I crack a half smile. Don’t make that demon mad at you. Okay, pukey. Stop, you’re so mean. You’re the one who threatened to puke on me. Your point? So, do you want to finish that movie? Can we just hang out and not listen to loud noises? Yeah, sure. We lie on the couch. My phone rings. It 's my parents. Hello? I don’t think I can drive myself home, Mom. No, I’m sick. No, no, my head hurts so bad. Yes, Mom. I have to go. I’ll call you back. Hey Sean, can you call my mom back? Uh sure, and say what? Explain to them that I’m sick. Are you alright? Yeah, I’ll... I’ll be back.
I called your mom, Andrew is going to come pick you up. He’s going to meet up with your dad at Ruby road, and he’ll take you home. How do you feel? Better. My cheeks are hot and flushed. Tears running quickly. I’m sorry. For what? For this being our last time hanging out before you leave. Hey, don’t worry about it. I love you. I love you too. I am so tired. Then sleep. And so, I slept. Waking up alone at home.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

free verse sonnet #3 by Cola Hines

actually I am OK
for a while every day
night comes on then

boots tremble, tarp flaps about
trink essen blick
neon vanishes up
stairs toward
the castle where
voices rise
you can’t hear below —
scales from a window —
mountains send reminders down
glowing cabs emerge from town
other nights it’s the reverse

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Wall by Chris Clapis

The fire outside burned a hole in the city
Left me to wonder how the wall would come down this time.
Not through the voice of authority, like in days past,
But by the voice of the people, echoing with love in the midst of the bombs.
Stop war, stop hate,
We cried.
But our tears couldn’t douse the flames;
Not quite.
Nor could they alone quench our thirst,
For a better world,
For a better life,
For peace.
But as they ran down our cheeks,
They washed the dust of everyday life.
They allowed us, with strength renewed,
To press onward,
Into the fire;
Into the crosshairs of the man,
sitting next to the politicians,
Just waiting for the order;
And to raise our voices,
So loud,
That the wall came tumbling down.
And in one last dying effort to obscure our sight,
The wall itself kicked up dust, and dirt, and anything else it could find,
But as it settled, and the sunlight broke through those floating particles,
For the first time in a long time,
We could see the other side.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Poems by Karen Layman

Upon Reading Haiku/Commandments/Adamant Admonishments. Haiku
I apologize
For how terribly I just
Failed at speaking

Presentations. Tanka
You look quite confused.
Did you not expect comments?
That was really good,
And someone should tell you so.
(Anything to talk to you...)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fight by Craig Wyszomirski

Hands up
Hit me
Your first shot
Hit me
I counter
Fist like rocks

And move
And move
Watch me dance with my fists
A violent groove

My drug
Feel pain no more
one hit
your eye
you see no more

I am
Why did you start this
I finish
You're done
Why am I heartless

You lie there
I watch
Next thought: to run
I look
What have I done

Friday, November 5, 2010

Poem by Cola Hines

the sun turn from the obvious
to the karmic dismemory of dreams
to capture the unobtrusive and seize
up, capsize the morning like a water dish -
this admonishment from somewhere
beyond the horizon of days What? resolution
never again to forget What? beside the bed
the notebook said What? why not
just ask me, just tell me, just be
next to me, why you come back like suspects
bits and pieces, a street scene sliding past
parts of speech leaked in from the street
taker of notes, medium carrying breath
from one life to another; the sun turn

Monday, November 1, 2010

Just In Case You Ever Wonder by Kirsten Bouthiller

Dear Dad,

Just in case you ever wonder,

I’m doing alright.

My grades are decent,

Sean is good,

and hockey is hockey. You know how that goes.


I still don’t like that singing teacher. But don’t get the wrong impression.

I’m being good. Quiet. I swear, I don’t say a word unless she speaks to me.

I decided that singing like a man is the only way to please her and it seems to so far.

You know,

it’s weird, Dad.

This life,

this everything.

Sometimes I think it’s great. Everything is just working itself out. But this time, I don’t know.

I will never truly know.

But what if there is more to all of this?

What if I make the wrong choice,

or fail?

Or fall and can’t find the will to get back up...

Will you lend me your hand?

You once made a promise to me that you would

saying that you will

always love me.

always hug me.

always be on my side.

And you wanted me to know that…

just in case I ever wonder.

I do wonder sometimes,

as I stare out into the depths of space,

if you mean it.

If you mean each and every word

that you have promised me.

How do you know that you will always be by my side?

What if the distance is too great and I somehow lose touch? What then, will we do? There are so many questions, Dad.

So many that you seem to know the answers to.

And how can you be so sure?

Why can you see this great destiny while all I see is the uncertainty between my shifting toes?

And just in case you ever wonder, I never go a day without you here. Each choice, memory, and each run, you are there. Do you remember... do you remember my first cross country race? I ran so hard but wore myself out by the second lap and yet, you ran next to me the whole time. You told me I could do it. And I did. Look at me now, Dad. Look at how fast I am. How smart, tall, strong, and how much like you I am. And you told me to stand by my convictions and I’m doing just that. You told me that I’m a writer and I could write the world into a better place. Maybe that’s what I’ll do. If you believe it, maybe I can.

And just in case you have ever wondered, Dad,

I will always love you.



Friday, October 29, 2010

Ghost by KT McVeigh

I think
A little bit of pain is a motivator
Like rolling out of bed feeling stiff
And you walk around with your welded hips
It’s a catalyst
Well the ghost came to me again last night
I was sitting in my bed
Which was pushed out so there was nothing protecting my head
In the middle of the room
Stationary floater in the nebulous womb
I sat above the sheets
Knees flat against the mattress
And I felt the cold touch of death press against my flesh
Instantly in my mind I recoiled in terror
And fled for the sheets
But that would have disheartened him
So I stayed
and I let the cold fingers move up my leg
And I stared at the spot where I knew he was
I knew he was staring at me
Reaching out to me
I’m intrigued
But I’ve had enough
And it ends.
But when the sun goes down so do human sounds
The only thing that keeps me safe
When they’re gone, it’s him and me
And then it begins
He cracks inside the walls
He writhes a thin board away from my head
A layer of plaster
‘Twixt me and the dead
I ask myself
Why me?
I’m not that interesting
Is it because I’m receptive?
I’m allowing you to unravel some spectral truth
That I’ve always suspected but never could prove
You’re leading me to your mystery
I’m afraid you’re decaying somewhere nearby
But I’m not the one
Please, not me

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Journal entry by Lauren Castaldi

Walking up my driveway and seeing, for the first time that fall, the mysterious mushrooms sprouting through the cracks of my driveway. My brother and I would anxiously anticipate the appearance of these unusually large and oddly placed fungi, which for all the years of our youth walking to the bus stop, never failed to sprout. A ritual learned from our mother, we would wait until they grew to their full potential and then make a show of dancing and stomping on them, watching green fumes cloud around the pile of broken mushrooms. Puffy mushrooms we used to call them, because of the strange puff of green haze that exploded when they were crushed.

Weaving through the secret world of the woods in my backyard with my neighbor, looking for the perfect spot for a fort. Every fall a new one was built, in a new location with a new purpose. Gathering branches and twigs, and moving old furniture to be exposed to the elements of weather. We made secret undercover entrances, slowly built up these forts and eventually were completely enclosed in our private second world. Living in a home of nature, returning to civilization when we were pried back into our homes.

Catching dragonflies by day and fireflies by night. Mark and I would run through our field letting dragonflies crawl over our hands, comparing color and length and beauty of each. Naming them and giving them homes in our backyard, thinking those we saw the next day of the same color were the same dragonflies. By night, scanning the tree line for the flicker of light that exposed our prey. Running to the spot the light once was and standing still and silent until its next time to light up. Slowly we caught them and kept them for a few hours, releasing them when it was time to go inside.

Pretending to be lions when it snowed. Crawling on our hands and knees, protected by bulging snow gear through the mountains of our backyard. Naming rocks on the hillside and sneaking through paths we forced through the trees. Turning treacherous slopes into safe slides in the blanket of snow. Making lion homes in the hills and snow banks, living out lives of these animals until we were frozen, shaking, and so wet we were forced inside.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Elegy (interview of some sort) by Kirsten Bouthiller

Where do you go when you want to be alone?

I crawl deep inside of myself hoping to never be found.

If you could be anything in the world, what would you be?

To be alive in this hopeless sea. And what about you?

What do you think? Do you think there is more to all of this?

I would like to say I do not know or have the faintest clue

but you are onto something to say the least.

And is this life nothing more than lonesome thoughts,

silent walks, and a hunger to become complete?

Do you know what I mean?

It is a tad absurd, and perhaps on the side of dark and dreary,

but this is a life that I assure you must be worth living.

Would you sacrifice for a loved one?

A loved one would be nice, if only this stone heart

could feel an emotion as filling and true as this

that you have mentioned.

Do you find yourself questioning your existence, often?

Often, I do. And why do you think?

I think so I can know and believe the thoughts in my head.

You know that is not what I meant, but of course. Now, answer it truly,

Why do you think you are so incredibly alone?

I can only blame myself, it is coming down to the sole fact that

for so incredibly long, I have hounded down that in which I love the most

and now I realize he is gone

like a kite with the string cut

on a windy day

No, I cannot cry. I am much too old for child’s play.

Your only regret?

Not having the courage to tell him all that I had to say.

after Gunnar Ekelöf

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kirsten Bouthiller: Journal Entry

The three most important resources of life are love, journals, and nature.

It was four o’clock, and mid-October. As the doors to the bus gave way, I stepped into the dying world. Orange, red, brown, and faint green leaves littered the ground. Beginning my trek through the private way that cut a path in the thickly wooded forest, I felt a slight breeze that brought a chill up and down my spine. The smell of decaying Earth filled my nostrils. The nostalgia that followed occurred every time. A flashback of memories. Halloween when I was four, running down the crowded street as Princess Leah, being a bumble bee at the age of two, a ninja at the age of ten. Pumpkin-picking with the family and getting lost in the corn fields. Raking leaves from dawn to dusk because when you live in the forest those sorts of things happen. I continued walking down the isolated road. The sun shone down through the canopy above, bringing the dead leaves a whole new life. The sound of the calm lake, the water rolling up onto the shore and lapping against the rock walls found its way up into my ears. A calling – but I had other plans. As the road began to bend after a steep slope downwards, my eyes searched for it. The brush was thick but it was in there. Somewhere. I could hear the water running and see the dip in the road where it flooded the previous year. Dropping my backpack to the ground, I began to clear the brush with my hands and found myself beside a small brook. The water flowed quick and was perfectly clear. I always find myself standing here, standing on a stone wall that divides the brook, the forest, and the lake all at once. Sometimes I don’t think, while other times I cannot stop. Once, during the winter when I was fifteen, a blizzard raged on for a week but the argument with my parents drove me outside to find myself again. I lay in the snow looking up through the canopy, watching the white snow fall silently. The only sound was the wind through the trees and the echoing as bubbles burst below the ice with a loud, eerie noise. I stood there, looking at the brook, forest, and lake. I chased the frogs, caught big trout, and climbed every tree. And when my mom would call me home for dinner, I would linger for that extra five minutes because nothing feels more like home than the forest where you found yourself.

[a response to John Burroughs, 'The Art of Seeing Things,' in American Earth, edited by Bill McKibben. In this essay, Burroughs writes: "If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends, and nature"]

Monday, October 4, 2010

Poems by John Alter

Rainy weather

Crowded with wet trees

each wearing as many badges & tags

as the suitcase of

a vagabond and

with a soaking rain

the path makes its way

through a junkyard. We

take so much for granted. The rain—the company

of trees—the wrecked automobiles.

And I

am here in this tree

house longing to be

long as the trees like

refugees for a moment in the early

afternoon pause and

I with them catching

our breath. O leafy

cousins I want to

call out to them and

to believe that the intricate display

of branches is some

how intended to

tell me a story.

October 4

Beyond this horizon of bare branches

today is coming off the press, scandalous


offering its good news to anybody

I can turn its pages

read, in my own tongue

the lyrical ballad

Let the high priests—

let the captains of industry—

do what they will


I ride my toy donkey out under

a sky cluttered with satellites


there was only one, do you

remember, and it spoke Russian


Anne Sexton—

you wrapped your bones up

in that old mink coat—took a last

long swallow of whatever drink you

could find—

and drove yourself to where death

always the gentleman, waited

stylish cigarette in one hand,

your life work in the other

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Poem by Cola Hines

Princess of light and dark in equal measure,

your fluorescent brow hovers where I attempt

sleep. At ease, I urge inane,

inept, uninterested sentries of

my better sense, whose bosses left

by the last unannounced

thing that want

to reach you: but better sense

impales, and fades, over

exposure left — & trusted instinct

tells you I preserve still

detachment. Blink and turn,

it’s night again, and we’re marooned,

unlit, unacknowledged: dark and light.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The fan by KT McVeigh

I used to turn it on to drown out your snoring

Those random little screams and German exclamations you’d leak in your sleep

Urgent moans you’d emit every time I closed my eyes

I don’t think I got through one night without hearing you,

Before I got that fan

And then I couldn’t sleep without it

Even after you stopped talking to yourself

I convinced myself I needed it

And became accustomed to the sound of it

And turning it on meant it was finally time to pass through

To my beautiful second life

Where I was home and my mom was in the kitchen cooking something that wasn’t intended to feed 400 people and I would lie down in my room in complete darkness with the stars on my ceiling and consider that, cosmically, I may be completely worthless and that my life might begin and end without notice, but right where I was, I was happy.

Maybe this is all just a dream.

Do you ever think that what you think is happening isn’t even there?

What if the only things real are the things that you feel?

What if death is the end of the dream

And you wake up on the other side

Surprise! The state of your hair was a joke

And the clothes that you wore were a lie

Then something as simple as my mom downstairs

Is so wonderful it makes me want to cry.

And it was July

At my grandmother’s house

And my sister turned on the fan

And suddenly, unexplainably, there were tears in my eyes

And I was begging her to turn it off! Turn it off, please

Because I was in my old room with her

Eyes wide open in the dark

Trying to imagine myself away

Listening to its dull whir

And now, tonight

With so much left to do

It has only seemed fitting since I arrived to have the fan on

But the truth is, I am alone

And I reach up and flip the switch without a second thought

And it turns slowly and abruptly I am encompassed by this silence so loud

I feel like I’m swimming through jello

And since day one

The fan was white noise.