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Distance Between Our Lips Sarah Gumbel



Smoother then cream,
licked up by the sandpaper tongue
of a cat, whose whiskers,
long and white, twitch,
delicately, sensing the distance,
between face and bowl.

Such is your face, milky,
sweet and silently watching,
as I, smiling, take you in,
eyebrows twitching, thinking of
how far the distance is
between my lips, and yours.


Paris Shoots
Sarah Gumbel

The strings of a bow,
trained and taut,
fingered by Love’s smooth hand,
released the arrow of Death
into Greek flesh,
of unprotected and glistening
feet.

Regress by Allison Fischbach

The taste of spring is in the air, yet it’s still too early and too chill for the green buds to safely come out. Before us, running the length of a football field is a straight shot of two iron rails stretching out towards the perspective point resting somewhere in the distance where it always stays but never is.

We had just eaten dinner and the sweet promise of a new warm evening drove us out of the hovel of library and desk to seek a walking path, to find escape in movement, in the promise of warmth. We had discovered the train tracks a few weeks earlier, when snow still spotted the sopping ground, now squelching with its release from freeze. They had laid under tangles of brush and saplings and ice slung carelessly into the ravine, while on the bridge overhead we stared straight down into the tussle of undergrowth to discern the two orange slats. Surprise. Tracks.

We entered the path at its mouth, opening into Morgnec road, and were amazed to find the tangle of vegetations cleared, as if simply for us, the sun already having banished snow. Barefooted and balanced on rail we tiptoed into the straightaway ravine, dipping below the sunline and sightline of the world above. Scattered along either side were hidden treasures, a plethora of forgotten emblems of collegiate life; bottles and shoes and key chains, a rusted keg. Tennis balls, mostly, hundreds of them aged and dirtied, blending into the foliage, absorbed into the earth.

To think, all of this as being covered again, wedging back into the elemental fray. Perhaps they were not enveloped completely, but as we walked parallel, each balanced on a beam of oxidized timelessness, we opened our eyes to our path. Regressing from the whistling streak of Chestertown’s cars into the tree-bending whistles of an invisible train charging over us, bent back, time standing still. To the left there, the willow tree, half-fallen, half-alive in which we used to burrow between roots and tell stories about pirate ships. Children from houses ten blocks away scattered and descended onto the giant like a beacon for our games of hunt and harvest.

Up the ravine a bit is a maple, sturdy, which has grown sideways in the dirt, and a group of three children, two girls and a young boy, have nailed plywood boards to the trunk at odd angles. Piles of stones and branches and cloth bits lay on the cleared ground. The trio scrambles to climb like wolves, their voices carrying on the air, squawking like crows from the trees. We are still standing on the tracks, watching as we climb the plywood tree, higher each minute now into the canopy of a white pine whose sap stains our shirts and arms and tangles itself into our hair. We cannot imagine why adults do not climb trees, and we swear we will never stop.

A plum tree farther down the line, under which a girl with a book and bare feet steps over the tussle of poison ivy and takes refuge in the dying specimen, bark split open, oozing sap where ants congregate. Sickly deep purple leaves flutter and shield her from view for a moment, and then she is there. For hours she will sit inclined, until her legs have fallen asleep hanging down to brush the tops of thorn bushes. She will stay until it is too dark to read and the lightening bugs coax her down.

Funny child ahead in the short patch of evergreen trees, kneeling over an anthill, a cut stump. Or the girl, almost adult now, standing on a promontory rock, her head bent through the trees. She is looking down at us as we walk, but she sees instead the rushing fullness of a stream and our faces are blocked by rhododendrons. Somewhere a deer threads silently through the underbrush and she stares, turns her cameras to it, but we cannot see from our time.

Yet what waits still is her path down hill and downstream, and through fields where foxes run, screeching threats and darting like demons. Through wildflowers and swamps of skunk cabbage and fallen barbed wire to where broken bottles and lost china have been beaten by the constant rush of time. To the places where evidence of existence is continuously lost, paths slowly covered and forgotten, synapses of memory abandoned and found years later, half-buried in the muck of lessons learned. Here we bend down and examine them, like a shining treasure, half-broken bottle, riverstone or skull, shoe abandoned for the coolness of forest floor, and wonder why we ever stopped climbing white pines, because we were afraid of sap on our feet.

Thesis by Colony Lollmen



She swiveled towards me in her chair as I held my breath on the other side of the desk, waiting for her words to designate my undergraduate fate.

“Your thesis,” she said, “It’s good.”

The entire world changed color. I saw rainbows. I almost melted into a puddle of “happy” and “WTF” on the floor. I may not have a planned future or a job or even job prospects, but by God I had written my thesis and it was “good.”

Flash forward to a couple weeks later, and my advisor emailed me saying that my thesis had received HONORS. I pretty much peed myself and then exploded into a million little pieces.

You’ve seen the seniors in the Newlin Room, furiously typing, furiously researching, furiously editing, or just generally looking furious and haggard, surrounded by papers, books and caffeine.

And its funny—I thought to myself after I had turned in my final draft—why should this even matter? In the long run, its just going to be a paper I wrote in college. It hasn’t helped me get a job so far and it’s certainly not making me any money, so why do I care? I think everyone asks this question during junior year (hell, maybe even their sophomore year if you’re an overacheiver): why in the world do I need this thesis thing to graduate?

Well, over the past few months—yes, months—that it has taken me to research, write, edit, and finally, let go of my thesis, I have learned something…it’s not really about the product as much as it is the process.

I mean, yes, the product is what your ultimate grade reflects, but that product is reflective of the process you took to get there.

Shakespeare said, “To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first.” And yes, while I realize many senior English majors would like to tell Mr. Shakespeare to “suck it” at this point in the semester, we cannot deny that he’s right.

I remember my first thesis proposal getting soundly rejected. I almost cried in someone’s office. I felt like I had been run over a bus. But, three proposals later, I found something that actually worked.

I remember getting my first chapter back, looking at all the red marks therein, and saying, “shit” on the phone with my mom. I rewrote the whole thing over Christmas break.

I remember finally reaching the minimum page requirement and thinking, “YES! I made it!”

I remember waiting anxiously for OIT to give me back my poor, sick laptop while I thought, if this dies on me, I will die another thousand deaths as I follow it into electronics hell and make it pay for swallowing my second and third chapters.

I will always remember the awesome, encouraging advisors I had, whose opinion I both feared and respected, whose judgment was, thankfully, always constructive.

I don’t really remember the night after I finished my thesis, but I’ve been told it was quite the party, and there are pictures to prove it.

And so, the thesis, the veritable monster you will all have to face, is nothing scarier than a steep hill you must climb and, upon ascending, will conquer.

In the end, as I said, it really isn’t about the paper. While my extensive knowledge of social media and artists may or may not help me in the workplace, my ability to get back up after falling will. My determination to finish, my inability to accept less than excellence, and my sheer dumb luck that has surrounded me with amazing people are the things that have already and will continue to make me successful.

Niño Dan McCloskey


When we were younger the birds flew higher for us. I didn’t care then. Birds would be an
obtainable goal; when I was older, I’d stand taller, and my arms may dare to grasp one of these winged creatures and ground it, cage it, a token of my success. Obtainable goals weren’t my thing. All I could think about was the moon, and every night my outstretched palm would cradle its dim image. What I didn’t know then was that even as I got older, the air around that image would still be the only thing I could snatch.

Some things you don’t forget. You’ll always hold on to the screams and tears that came out of you, the holes you punched in walls long after they’ve been painted over. What you lose are the colors on the houses, what kind of car your grandmother drove, the plot of the show you used to watch. The way you got to Barcelona from Madrid. After a while your memories are more fragments than parts of a whole; but they’re all strung on a distinct path, a process of thought that twists and mutates to this very day. And that’s your timeline. 1994 means nothing much to me now; only innocence, or delirium.

Before the trip my parents had signed me up for a summer camp designed to teach toddlers elementary Spanish. I learned words like amarillo or maybe hamburguesa. I remember being colorblind and confused; I remember meeting a boy named Christian, who I envied, perhaps for his better name or taller height. He was closer to the moon than I. I remember hating that camp.

I don’t remember the flight. The first flight I remember was Venice-bound, four years later; even then, all I remember from Italy was a small room, a sad mother and a swarm of pigeons. We may have been in a boat, too.

But I remember where we stayed—a hotel on the same block as a huge department store. Our room had two queen-sized beds and many drawers. I was determined to explore it, and my curiosity yielded a great fortune in one of the drawers. I had discovered that the previous occupants left a stockpile of MicroMachines, my favorite toy. What luck! My mother almost didn’t have the heart to tell me she had just unpacked them there, and that they were intended as surprises for me throughout the month. This would not be the only time in my life that curiosity ruined delight.

The only other thing I remember in our hotel was the day that I threw up. Another theme that strings my childhood together is the sequence of instances in which I vomited. Perhaps I considered it traumatizing then and so committed each time to memory. I remember throwing up in a large bowl, but I also remember throwing up in the toilet. I don’t know which memory is correct, and perhaps it is both; but it may also be neither. The truth is that I remember so little, I can hardly trust that which I do.

My sister hated me. She was five when I was born and knew right away that I would usurp her throne as the “baby.” When she found out I was special—broken—she hated me even more. Not only was I new, but I was disabled. And yet, the day that I was bedridden and vomiting, she came to me with a gift, a Spanish knock-off of a Transformer. I remember the toy well; it was a white-and-red racing car which turned into a menacing robot. This was not the same sister who forced me to dress in her old tutus for her and her friends’ amusement, not the one who always told me to go away; this was the sister who loved me. I do not recall if I said thank you.

I thought the moon in Madrid was much bigger than the one at home. I thought that I was getting closer, but I couldn’t read the books about space in Spanish, and I had already exhausted those I brought with me. I began creating my own facts about the moon, about space shuttles, mapping out my future as an astronaut.

Perhaps I wasn’t too young to enjoy the wonders of European architecture and history, but I was definitely too petulant. I would complain of being bored (as I am told) and also of being tired; my parents resented me for wasting my youthful energy, but my aunt showed pity and carried me on her back for many of the boring, “educational” adventures. I did not care for statues, clocks, old battlegrounds or new buildings. My family has many pictures of these various spectacles, and I can proudly say that although I see myself in them, I don’t remember a single one of them. I did, however, care about the castles. And I remember them. The steps were the height of my entire legs and I nearly had to crawl up them. The rooms and towers smelled like dust, gravel; back then I truly believed the places to be restored relics of ancient battles, and not the refurbished tourist spots they are now. I sometimes wonder if the tour guide tired of my incessant questioning about ghosts and treasures.

It at one point occurred to my parents that they may have spent too much time trying to learn the language in order to better get around in Spain. At one point my father cracked open a dictionary in line at a Burger King and told my mother he was looking up “ketchup,” to which the man behind the counter asked, in effortless English, “You want ketchup?”

“Sí,” my father responded, thoroughly embarrassed.

Potato chips taste the same in every language and, perhaps, to every creature. In Spain the zoos are a little more “open-world” and I was lucky enough to befriend a young elephant who expressed profound interest in my bag of chips. He ate them from my hand and I remember the feeling to be something like a suction cup. There is a photo of this, too; maybe that’s the only reason I remember it.

Near the end of our trip, disaster struck in the form of a condiment. We were seated in a booth at a restaurant/shop outside of Barcelona treating ourselves to a final foreign meal; or, I should clarify, that the rest of my family was eating adventurously, while I stubbornly demanded I have chocolate swiss cake rolls which I still, to this day, consider a delicacy. What transpired then was only a flash and I would be lying if I said I remember I saw the man, but I swear the tale is true—a masked robber approached our booth and took up the bottle of mustard (mostaza), which he squirted all over my father’s face and in his eyes and on his nice sweatervest, and, in the haze of confusion, took my father’s wallet and mother’s purse. I would be lying if I said I remembered the look on my parents’ faces, and if I said I understood then what had happened. My mother told me that I asked, “Daddy, why do you have mustard on your back?”

I’ve never eaten mustard, but I hate the smell.

My parents never had the heart to tell me I was too blind to be an astronaut. They didn’t have the heart to tell me much of anything then, really; it was fortunate when, later that year, my grandmother would in one fell swoop tell me that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy were all grand myths. I don’t remember if I spoiled it for the rest of the kids, but I probably did.

When I started school that fall, it was my teacher Mrs. Weigel who told me I could not be an astronaut. To her credit, I suspect she assumed my parents had already broken the news, and that I was just being indignant. Soon after, I decided I wanted to become a writer. Maybe I can’t reach the moon, but at least I can write about wanting to try.

Poetry by Jenna Moore

The Truth about Penelope
Jenna Moore

The damned dog was always howling
for a man that is not coming,
relinquished the right to pillow
against her chest, sweat slicked skin.
Her fingertips followed climax
of waves churning, touching, their bedroom
window, pounding ceaselessly against the shore.
A moment passed – envious of this sea
for knowing the lines of his body,
for the seduction holding him.
Her lungs do not remember the taste
his breath hanging over parched lips,
her palms only know the coarse
fibers in that hateful tapestry. Maybe
she should finish.


Fears for My War Boys
Jenna Moore

Will you come back jagged,
pieces of a dropped Yuengling
bottle you and your friends let slip
through playful, invincible fingertips.

Will your childhood monsters
grow, grow, grow in the closets
until the doors stick and snag
on shiny black boots or khaki sleeves.

Will the video games downstairs
sizzle as disuse weakens connections
become outdated, unknown, fall
behind the TV - lost for years.

Will you exchange, for the jars of dark paint
meant to protect you, transform you unknown
bubbling laughter floating to the sky
bursting when it has had too much.


Samantha’s Child by Adam Church


Darling girl,
never got in trouble,
except for not listening
to mother’s words.

She doesn’t understand
why her stomach trips
over its own two feet
spilling out into the toilet.

She doesn’t understand
the weight she has put on
calling it college pounds.
Praying it is college pounds.

The sonogram shows
something she never dreamed:
a parasite fidgeting inside,
molding into a person.

She flutters into tears.
She never wanted this.
Nor thought it was possible:
“You can’t your first time.”

No money for an abortion,
but coat hangers are free.
Digging and scratching.
bleeding and screaming.

No longer a will to live
(barren, ripped, torn, infected)
she’s got an umbilical chord,
one of her own.

How to Graduate College With Style by Ferris Bueller



Shit.
How did this happen?
How could have this happened?
I never thought this moment would actually get here.

GODDAMMIT. Stupid Graduation

What the hell am I going to do now?

For about four years, I have lived in this blissful world…a bubble of happiness, where nothing mattered that I didn’t want to matter. I was the master and commander of my own destiny. Then I got an email from the college asking me how many tickets I wanted for graduation.

EXCUSE ME? WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN? Assholes.

Okay, as much as I want to deny graduation, its here and I can’t deny its existence anymore. I can’t pull a Bill Clinton ANYMORE.

So now comes the stress that is graduation. I mean, let’s be honest, I’ve spent the past couple of years of my life avoiding stress as much as I can. But this impending doom of graduation has certainly shaken up my life and introduced me to S_T_R_E_S_S.

Now, I’m going to tell you how to deal with stress. Look, I know that I’m no Dr. Oz, but there is hope for people to deal with the stress of going into real life.

There are 5 essential steps of coping with the stress of leaving college. I shall outline them to you, and if you stick to them, then I can assure you that you might be somewhat adequately prepared to face real life (whatever the hell that is).

DO AS MANY DRUGS AS YOU CAN POSSIBLY CAN

Now many people find this advice foolish. Hell, some may even call it self-destructive behavior. But I ask those people this question: How many other times in your life will you be able to do this? I know that many people are happy being sober, but there are very few times after graduating from college that you will be young, responsibility free, disease-free, and so I say ANARCHY! Do everything at least once in your life, because as clichéd as it sounds, life is too short for you to worry about the bullshit that will inevitably follow you after graduation. So yay for Acid, X, Mexican speed balls, White Lady and anything else that tickles your fancy. 
 
DRINK YOURSELF INTO A SEMI-COMA

Honestly, I can count the number of people on my hand who have not at some point or another in their college career drank their own weight in alcohol. YES, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, and can say I am one of you. But seeing as graduation is around the corner, once it happens, you should probably stop having Thirsty Thursday parties because after leaving the sanctuary of school, you will be labeled an alcoholic. And no one likes to be called an alcoholic. So enjoy these last few weeks of school. I say start your 9 am class with a Screwdriver, lunch with a Long Island Iced Tea, and round your nights off with a bottle of Chardonnay. And on the weekends try to drink the whole keg by yourself.

CALL YOUR PARENTS AND LOVE THEM

Now this is crucial. For those of you who have not yet figured out what is going to happen after college, most likely you will end up at home before spreading your wings and heading out. So you should definitely give them a call and tell them that you love them. Because, if that is where you want to end up, then you want it to be on good terms. So, call your Mama. Tell her you miss her. Call your Pops and give him a rundown of your “life plan” after school. Tell them that you are proud to be their child, or you could say the magic words “I L*&% You” to them. Works like a charm every time.

CALL EVERY PERSON YOU HAVE EVER MET

It’s the fear of getting a job that throws everyone in a stress-induced frenzy that will end with the person sitting in his or her kitchen eating all the contents of the fridge. Given that this is the worst economy to get a job since the Great Depression, and, like the website My Life Is Average, so are your grades and recommendations, now is the time to start calling every single person you have ever known to get a connection and get where you want. Some may call it badgering, some may call it annoying, but I call it being smart and savvy! Honestly, this is how people get a job. Ryan Secrest called his barber’s son who worked in a PR agency, and now look at him. I’m just saying it happens.

THROW A BAD-ASS PARTY

Now, this is the one time in your life that you can have the party that you saw in Sixteen Candles. That one party in which you wonder how no one ever died. You’ll look back at the pictures and see how the geeky kid from genetics got some lovin’ from your girlfriend and her roommate. You’ll see yourself doing a keg stand that would make your Mama proud. You’ll see your best friends as the beer pong champs of the night, after making a cup in double overtime. A night where true love is found and friendships are formed forever. A night that lives on forever because it’s just one of those nights. So go on, throw that party. Be that person.

So, my amigos, I have given you as much wisdom I could find on the Internet to give. Now all I can say is this: Relax! You’ve had an amazing college career and made memories that are too beautiful to put into words. Everything happens for a reason, and you’ll end up exactly where you are meant to end up. So go forth and don’t be afraid because life moves pretty fast, and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Endgame: Bullshit by Mary DiAngelo

“They” say that I should stop and smell the roses, live each day like it is my last, take life by the horns (or by another plural appendage, whichever you prefer). I say that this is a load of clichéd bullshit. These are phrases that we often hear as hopeful college students, and yet we rarely know how to follow them. Truly, how are we to know the location of life’s horns, let alone how to seize them? How often do we encounter roses daily? They certainly are not common on this campus. Yes, I realize that I am taking these metaphorical encouragements quite literally, but where is their real meaning? How often do the people who say these things actually care what your life is like, let alone genuinely want you to improve it?

At this point, you may be criticizing me for my cynicism, but I am warning you: this Endgame is not the cheerful type. In our protective college bubble, we have professors that actually care about us, a few that pretend to care, and some that do not even try. Some of us are lucky with a mommy and daddy who pay for everything; we have room and board without having to work or fret over student loans that will follow us to the grave. Some of us are really lucky: mommy and daddy paid for our Mercedes or our Beamer. We never worked a day of our life and that nonexistent work ethic reflects in our dismal grades. That’s okay, though, because we can pay full tuition, schools will wink at our GPA. Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad for the brand-new-Mercedes-driving types, they allow me to have scholarships and lovely new buildings on campus. Personally, though, I think students should know how to write a damn thesis statement before colleges admit them.

But back to the roses. Despite all outward appearances, I do not want to be accused of bitterness. I do believe that there are figurative roses out there whose fragrance I have more than once passed up without taking a single whiff. There are, in fact, professors, administrators, and students at this school who have helped me survive the year without being doubled over by panic attacks on a daily basis. But the problem is, what happens when I leave? There are classes full of college seniors across the country, across the world, asking that question at this very moment. Who is going to grab the back of my shirt and yank me off of the ground if I fall on my face? Though many of us professedly strong and independent types would like to boast that we would get our own asses off of the ground if we fall, I say that everyone needs someone, or several someones.

While ambition will earn you loads of money or disappointment, I do not believe that it comprises one’s entire purpose in life. Take for example the character Amber on House, MD. Within the first few days of competing for an opening on House’s new team, Amber earns the affectionate nickname “cutthroat bitch.” Amber is intelligent, ambitious and, yes, rather vicious and manipulative. I, for one, think that she was a magnificent character (apply that how you will to my own morality). While her cutthroat tactics get her far in the job competition, they ultimately cost her the position. To me, Amber seems happier when she starts dating Wilson (the subject of House’s bromance) and gets a different job. Don’t jump to conclusions; I am by no means saying that every woman needs a man to be happy. The point here is that cutthroat bitch found a support system and some semblance of friends. While we all can keep our eyes on the prize, it is easy to become consumed by our goals. Some of those roses are simply too important to breeze past. However, if money and prestige are the things that make you happy in the world, by all means, dive right in.

It seems cruelly hypocritical that the same society in which students are pushed forward with Advanced Placement classes and Ivy League competition produces such phrases as “never lose sight of the important things.” Students are pressured at progressively younger ages to succeed in school and rack up the As. While kids exist that are annoyingly smart without trying, many of the students who study their brains out for an A develop a skewed view of what is actually important. College helps this process along. I feel a pang of annoyance whenever I hear younger students complaining about their workload. Thoughts such as, “you have no idea what you are in for,” “you call that difficult?” and “shut up, you annoying twit,” flare up. Of course, afterward I feel like a snob and a jerk–unless the kid really is an annoying twit, then there is no remorse. I feel as though college has conditioned many of my classmates, and myself, for the occasional snobbery. Sorry guys, it’s true, and you know who you are…or maybe you don’t. You and I are sad, brain-fried products of the Advanced Placement system. You and I have lost sight of the “important things,” because winning, achieving, and leaving everyone to eat our dust has created demi-monsters of us.

You could respond with: No Mary, you’re actually just crazy, I have never felt this competitive urge. To this I say bullshit. Why would you publicly complain about your thesis, about how many hours of sleep you have lost over it, about how many pages it is, or how much it has made you cry like a little kid convinced that there is a monster under the bed? I have done this and you have done this (or you will when it comes time). There is part of you, even if you are not conscious of it, that seeks recognition for your intelligence, that wants to make others feel intimidated by you or even to feel sorry for your suffering. There is a proud and nasty part of you that goes through the whole college experience not just wanting to learn, but to win, if not over everyone then at least over someone. In this category I must exclude the following: those rare and lovely people who actually focus on the “important things,” people who do not care about grades at all and people who would rather party all night every night and scrape by with enough to pass.

Okay, that was pretty bleak. I probably sound like I despise every single person on campus including myself, which I don’t. In fact, I like many, many people. Hell, I even love them. The point to all of this is that I do not want to go out into the world with my head stuck in the rose bed or peering through the rosy tinted glasses. I realize, and I think that you should realize, that people do not always exist to support you. Some of them want to tear you down, to be cutthroat assholes and get the job over you. This protective college bubble that has cushioned us for the past four years is not a reflection of what we face. There are no good or bad people, there are just people. Some of them turn out to be saints and some serial killers. Just do the best that you can, love to your fullest capacity, and try not to fall for the bullshit.




Shane Sinclair by Ricky Davis



Sometimes when I wake up I remember a time when I would get up and look in the mirror and think about how much more interesting ugly things are. Brush, brush, brushing my teeth and looking at my face. I can’t really remember any. Any faces at all. What faces would pass by the window that looked like the faces shaped the way they were supposed to be shaped. Instead, every night ten plastic faces go by the window and I used to be scared of them and I would hide my head in my hands, but now I remember how I feel in the morning and I forget they’re outside, and I fall asleep. Such a little boy he was. Now I don’t hear anything except for the noises I think are in my head but may be from out there. No. I have to be right. The children calling each other names and spitting and pointing and laughing at me through the glass. How dare they. Question what I’m worth. I’ll show them. No. It’s not real. Don’t go out there. Can I keep them?

I tried to hold them and love them like they didn’t to me, but their brittle faces crack and fall off and they cry. Red and blue lights everywhere. What have I done?

Someday the bandages will come off, and I’ll remember the face I used to see every morning while thinking those thoughts. I try to pull on them with my fingernails, which are getting longer and browner each day, but nothing happens. I just scratch and nothing happens. Sticky tacky glue on my skin I haven’t seen for however long. I want to get it all off. What if my skin comes off too in clumps and pieces like the hair I pull on the back of my head that leaks through the tape. It rips and tears and I have a better time without it. Away it goes. All over the floor until I have a new place to sleep.

I found a book today in the library. It was old and had a good smell about it, but the cover was missing. It was very large, so I decided to start it quickly. I’ve only read about sixty pages, but it’s great. I think it’s about Greek gods in Ireland maybe. All in all it’s very good, and I want to finish it soon. It’s also helping me remember things that I used to know like where to put commas and other punctuation marks. Can you tell? I’m better already. I’m even better than the man in the book sometimes because he goes on and on sometimes without even putting a period or a space in some places and there are strange words in slanted type that I don’t understand. I want to understand it. All of it. So I went to the back of the book and saw that the words kept going on and on and the whole chapter was only eight sentences. I felt lost on the page, drowning in a sea of all those letters until I felt that I couldn’t read at all and I got sick on the floor of the library. Still, it’s a challenge I want to take.

By the way, I guess I should have told you. This is a diary. You are a diary. But you knew that already, didn’t you? Of course you did. You help me remember what things are real and what aren’t, even though those boys in the hall laugh at me as I drop my books and keep my eyes down on the ground. I spit on my friend the other day and they sent me to the principal. I don’t know why. We were just playing and I was the monster and I found it fitting to spit my poison onto him. It was all play. Adults are too serious about things that aren’t real anyway.

Anyway, I should also tell you that this place is a school I think. An old one with tall walls and gates that won’t open and hurt to climb. Pointy tops that poked a little hole in one of my hands like Jesus. There’s a big one of him in the chapel. Arms splayed all wide and looking so sad. See, I’ve been reading lots of books and these things come back and I’m excited. I’m glad that this is a school because if there’s one thing I remember it’s that I always wanted to learn. Yes, even when I was little my mother would tell me about how I had the love of learning. Like a sponge, she said. Big men outside the walls taking pictures. I want them to go away and leave me. Most kids don’t want to go to school. I live in a school so it makes no difference. Except that there are no other whining kids here to bother me. Sometimes, at least.

My eyes hurt. That’s enough. Time for bed. Floor? Nope. Hair bed. Still cozy.

Now you listen here, Sinclair, you ugly sonofagun. You listen. If you don’t go to bed I swear we’ll send you away for good to that place up on the hill. That old man said that when I went to that building over the summer. Mother said it was so I could grow up faster. I don’t know what she meant, but I listened. I’m trying to think of what it was exactly that I did or if I got sent away. Is this the place up on the hill? I wish I could climb up and see. I suppose then I could just climb out and it would make no difference whether I was on a hill or not. Well, it hasn’t happened yet.

I’m sorry I said I was going to bed, but sometimes I can’t stop writing things down like this because I get excited. I know that I should practice proper grammar. Like so: “Oh come,” the young man said, “or your soup will have skin upon its surface shortly.” Period inside quotations. Didn’t know that before. But now I’m confused because the man in the big book that I was reading doesn’t do that. I think maybe that I found another diary by someone else who used to live here. We at least both seem to enjoy writing the same things. No, no, no, no. He was in Ireland or Greece. Then again, is this Ireland or Greece? I am sorry. I really should sleep before I hear anything else outside. That old man is talking again in that summer. Quiet now. Don’t look outside. They can’t come in, can they? No. Think of the ugly face. Try to remember. So, so beautiful to me. Good enough. Right to sleep.

Deirdre by Amber L. Maczaczyj

She lets her tea sit too long.
It festers until mold grows in cups
hidden amongst piles of laundry on her desk.

She collects twigs and branches
as if to build a nest to house her neuroses.
She’s not the kind of girl you’d want to keep around.

But her things smell of peppermint,
dried leaves and oranges
and, if she can, she’ll love you with all her heart.


Online Only Content: Safe Place #2 by Zoë Woodbridge



I suppose we have a lot of them.
We find new ones to replace,
or at least join,
the one we first find.

I’m sitting at mine now,
Feeling that sense because of it
and because you know thunderstorms
always make me see your face.

Just hearing the quiet rain
whisper your name is enough
to make me stop writing this,

stop writing
and pick up this phone in my lap.

But I don’t.

Maybe it’s the 14-year-old in me,
but I like to think that we talk
through thunderstorms.

I’m the rain, you’re the thunder,
and we’re just sitting in our safe places,
talking like we do.

You, on your mountain of sheets of a bed,
and me, on this wet windowsill of a dorm.

I won’t call you,
because it might wake up your mom,
and your brother wouldn’t hear it anyway.

And anyway, you can already hear
my pen as it drips across this paper.

Poetry by Emily Broderick

Night of the Ball
by Emily Broderick

On the day of the ball,
I took your hand and led
you to the cemetery
where you lost your glass slippers once,
and maybe a little more
when the sun was still up
and your mother was still alive.

I wanted to show you the ghosts
that blink like fireflies to find
their true loves in the shadows
of the tree planted before the
city was reduced to rubble
and I became a memory.



Richard Brautigan
by Emily Broderick

“Please”

Do you think of me
as often
as I think
of you?
           
                 —Richard Brautigan


You’re reduced to an epigraph,
Richard, but at least you
know you’re on my mind.

Richard, I still don’t know
why you killed yourself
six years before I was born
to appreciate you.

You once said,
"All of us have a place in history.
Mine is clouds.”
and I think that’s your way
of begging to be in a place

where love works out
and the colors all blend together
and there are no heartbreaks
and no .44 magnums.

Chicago by Zoe Woodbridge

Your sister made Campari
and I hated it
but I drank it
because I was eighteen
and you were twenty-one
and they were older than us
in more ways than one.

I didn’t care for the drinks.
I just cared for the mornings,
waking up to that bird in the dogwood
outside our window,
sometimes next to you.

Though you might’ve been gone already,
slipped away from under the sheets
while I was dreaming of missing my mother.

But I’d find you
I always do
I would hear the clack of the jump rope
 on concrete and look down
  from the porch
   with flaking green and yellow paint

I would yell down, “Hey sexy!”
Sometimes you might choose to hear.
And I would stand there for hours watching you
jump under the dogwood,

thinking that I could do this for a long time.

Shane Sinclair by Ricky Davis


Sometimes when I wake up I remember a time when I would get up and look in the mirror and think about how much more interesting ugly things are. Brush, brush, brushing my teeth and looking at my face. I can’t really remember any. Any faces at all. What faces would pass by the window that looked like the faces shaped the way they were supposed to be shaped. Instead, every night ten plastic faces go by the window and I used to be scared of them and I would hide my head in my hands, but now I remember how I feel in the morning and I forget they’re outside, and I fall asleep. Such a little boy he was. Now I don’t hear anything except for the noises I think are in my head but may be from out there. No. I have to be right. The children calling each other names and spitting and pointing and laughing at me through the glass. How dare they. Question what I’m worth. I’ll show them. No. It’s not real. Don’t go out there. Can I keep them?

I tried to hold them and love them like they didn’t to me, but their brittle faces crack and fall off and they cry. Red and blue lights everywhere. What have I done?

Someday the bandages will come off, and I’ll remember the face I used to see every morning while thinking those thoughts. I try to pull on them with my fingernails, which are getting longer and browner each day, but nothing happens. I just scratch and nothing happens. Sticky tacky glue on my skin I haven’t seen for however long. I want to get it all off. What if my skin comes off too in clumps and pieces like the hair I pull on the back of my head that leaks through the tape. It rips and tears and I have a better time without it. Away it goes. All over the floor until I have a new place to sleep.

I found a book today in the library. It was old and had a good smell about it, but the cover was missing. It was very large, so I decided to start it quickly. I’ve only read about sixty pages, but it’s great. I think it’s about Greek gods in Ireland maybe. All in all it’s very good, and I want to finish it soon. It’s also helping me remember things that I used to know like where to put commas and other punctuation marks. Can you tell? I’m better already. I’m even better than the man in the book sometimes because he goes on and on sometimes without even putting a period or a space in some places and there are strange words in slanted type that I don’t understand. I want to understand it. All of it. So I went to the back of the book and saw that the words kept going on and on and the whole chapter was only eight sentences. I felt lost on the page, drowning in a sea of all those letters until I felt that I couldn’t read at all and I got sick on the floor of the library. Still, it’s a challenge I want to take.

By the way, I guess I should have told you. This is a diary. You are a diary. But you knew that already, didn’t you? Of course you did. You help me remember what things are real and what aren’t, even though those boys in the hall laugh at me as I drop my books and keep my eyes down on the ground. I spit on my friend the other day and they sent me to the principal. I don’t know why. We were just playing and I was the monster and I found it fitting to spit my poison onto him. It was all play. Adults are too serious about things that aren’t real anyway.

Anyway, I should also tell you that this place is a school I think. An old one with tall walls and gates that won’t open and hurt to climb. Pointy tops that poked a little hole in one of my hands like Jesus. There’s a big one of him in the chapel. Arms splayed all wide and looking so sad. See, I’ve been reading lots of books and these things come back and I’m excited. I’m glad that this is a school because if there’s one thing I remember it’s that I always wanted to learn. Yes, even when I was little my mother would tell me about how I had the love of learning. Like a sponge, she said. Big men outside the walls taking pictures. I want them to go away and leave me. Most kids don’t want to go to school. I live in a school so it makes no difference. Except that there are no other whining kids here to bother me. Sometimes, at least.

My eyes hurt. That’s enough. Time for bed. Floor? Nope. Hair bed. Still cozy.

Now you listen here, Sinclair, you ugly sonofagun. You listen. If you don’t go to bed I swear we’ll send you away for good to that place up on the hill. That old man said that when I went to that building over the summer. Mother said it was so I could grow up faster. I don’t know what she meant, but I listened. I’m trying to think of what it was exactly that I did or if I got sent away. Is this the place up on the hill? I wish I could climb up and see. I suppose then I could just climb out and it would make no difference whether I was on a hill or not. Well, it hasn’t happened yet.

I’m sorry I said I was going to bed, but sometimes I can’t stop writing things down like this because I get excited. I know that I should practice proper grammar. Like so: “Oh come,” the young man said, “or your soup will have skin upon its surface shortly.” Period inside quotations. Didn’t know that before. But now I’m confused because the man in the big book that I was reading doesn’t do that. I think maybe that I found another diary by someone else who used to live here. We at least both seem to enjoy writing the same things. No, no, no, no. He was in Ireland or Greece. Then again, is this Ireland or Greece? I am sorry. I really should sleep before I hear anything else outside. That old man is talking again in that summer. Quiet now. Don’t look outside. They can’t come in, can they? No. Think of the ugly face. Try to remember. So, so beautiful to me. Good enough. Right to sleep.

Distance Between Our Lips Sarah Gumbel
Regress by Allison Fischbach
Thesis by Colony Lollmen
Niño Dan McCloskey
Poetry by Jenna Moore
Samantha’s Child by Adam Church
How to Graduate College With Style by Ferris Bueller
Endgame: Bullshit by Mary DiAngelo
Shane Sinclair by Ricky Davis
Deirdre by Amber L. Maczaczyj
Online Only Content: Safe Place #2 by Zoë Woodbridge
Poetry by Emily Broderick
Chicago by Zoe Woodbridge
Shane Sinclair by Ricky Davis

About:

The Collegian is a feature publication at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. The Collegian is published monthly. We print writing and artwork from students at Washington College. To submit e-mail collegian_editor@washcoll.edu

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