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Reflection 58.

2 Spring 2017
R E F L E C T I O N 58.2
Reflection
58.2

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Reflection
58.2

Editor-in-Chief Mitch Gomes

Poetry Editor Zack Rosse

Prose Editor Megan Robinson

Editorial Assistants Makayla Wamboldt &


Christopher Barker

Graphic Designer Alysa Schols

Copyright 2017 Reflection Gonzaga University


Cover Art Carley Schmidt
All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be copied or
in any ways reproduced without written consent of the editor and
Advisor Jeff Dodd
Gonzaga University. Views and opinions in Reflection are those of the
individuals and do not necessarily represent the views of Gonzaga
University.

Reflection submissions are evaluated and selected anonymously.

The Reflection staff would like to thank everyone who participated in


the literary and visual arts community on campus by submitting to
the journal. Joanne Shiosaki, Kayla Cartelli and Jeff Dodd deserve our
praise for facilitating an instructive and positive experience.
Table of Contents

Editorial Statement

2
Factories Sarah Kersey

3
Apostasy Megan Robinson
You have many years ahead of you to create the dreams
4
that we cant even imagine dreaming. You have done more Sandbox David Landoni
for the collective unconscious of this planet than you will
ever know. 5
Steven Spielberg Mimicking Nature Danika Morrison

6
The Lonely Robin Hannah Casey

7
Eleven Weeks This Time Makayla Wamboldt

11
Ode to a Mourning Artist Isabella Manoguerra

12
Limbo Lake Mitch Gomes

13
In Sleep I am Talking to Myself but Seeing You Zack Rosse

14
Yazidiland David Ahern

17
The Mugwamp Melina Harvey
18 60
O Grape Leo Francovich Zakar Lindsey Hand

19 67
In Gods Name Nathan Patrick Nelson Morning Coffee at 7,800 ft Brooke Smith

20 68
Eating Sand Brahiam Villanueva The Big Dance Alexa Rehm

32 78
Still Ridge Brooke Smith A Nice Story Janine Warrington

33 91
Flyover Country Emmett Jones Narrative Approach to Whitmans Song of Myself Evan Olson

35 103
A Letter to the Man I Try Not to Hate Evan Olson Alpha Mango Katherine Sumantri

38
Nannas Glass Megan Robinson

40
Ourselves David Ahern

45
Trayvons Murder Daniel Hodge

48
Uprooting Makayla Wamboldt

50
Galicias Fault Mitch Gomes

57
A Song of Accents Jack Kiesewetter

58
Human Zack Rosse

59
City of Dreams Katherine Sumantri
might have even influenced somebody elses. The entries published
in this journal have certainly influenced mine.
Editorial Statement These contributions are made both in a world we dont know and
a world that we might know very well. Whatever kind of world that
may be, whatever kind of world you may see it as, your daydreams
are your own, your stories are a product of you, and the only things
we share are the desire to tell them and the desire to listen to the
Failure isnt a necessary evil. In fact, it isnt evil at all. It is a stories that dont come from us, that will not come from us. This is
necessary consequence of doing something new. what makes them worth telling.
Ed Catmull We cannot find every story in the lives we individually lead. We
as a collective fill in the gaps of the essential stories we are each
Im afraid of failure, as many of us are; of faltering in attempts missing, stories that help us understand what its like to live outside
to achieve; of injuring myself while trying to tackle something of ourselves.
unfamiliar or new; of putting myself out there at the risk of So what are you waiting for? Nows as good of a time as any. To
disturbing my own sense of security and space. I recognize that this create. To listen. Take me somewhere. Share a story that cannot
is not a fresh phenomenon. I recognize this is not a distinguished come from me. Share a story that comes from you and you only.
take on what is almost required of those amidst a process such as Share a story that comes from everything about yourself you choose
this. to hide, revealed only in the times that you think nobody is watching
And people see what you create, if you let them, as scary as that and nobody will care. Who are we to dismiss you? Who are we to be
notion might be. People register your thoughts on a page, your indifferent?
images on a screen, things that are formed from no one else but you.
On the other end of the spectrum, perhaps thats the most difficult
thing about creation: letting go. We hold onto whats precious to us I hope you enjoy the journal.
and dont ever want it to take a life of its own, a life that might exist
outside of our control and invites interpretation, assumption, and
inference about the creator herself and where and how such a thing
might have been made. But wouldnt you love to leave an impression

on a voyeur about what matters to you, what matters to something
beyond just the things we see, below the surface? What keeps you
Mitch Gomes, Editor-in-Chief
back and propels you forward at the same time?
Letting go and letting in is perhaps the most difficult part about
this. Your ideas have a mind. Your stories have a soul. Taken in
conjunction, they are impossible to ignore, both as voyeurs and
recipients of response.
As much as you might think the opposite is true, what you create
matters. It is a culmination of your emotion, experience, insight,
background, and every daydream youve ever had, daydreams no
other person shares. Dont get me wrong, daydreaming is easy. But
fine-tuning a dream so that it may become accessible to viewers and
readers is difficult.
And every contribution you have made so far hasnt gone
completely unnoticed. It has changed the course of time and space
in some way, no matter how minute or how significant that change
might have been. You have influenced your own reality, and you
Factories Apostasy
Sarah Kersey Megan Robinson

We live in a town where one plant illuminates our entire city Im motoring out of here. Joining a ladies biker gang, Kiss of
Its branches lay out to the sides of the core Death.
Like disfigured dolls that didnt have what it takes to become a full I say all this to the Reverend Mother when I abandon the convent.
entity Right there in the sanctuary I apostasize, The Road is my God I say,
The leaves flicker into life when the night tries to overtake the light and Mother looks so disturbed, as if Satan has ravished the Temple,
Refusing to let us sit in the darkness, like a fly dead in the holy water, like ink on her chaste linens. I pull
To let us sit in the quiet on my pink leather and Mother crosses herself. My stomps echo down
the procession and I birth a carnal yell through the center doors.
Lights are nocturnal beings Im free Im free. I howl. I cant get enough of it
A man made creation I straddle my Harley and ride straight to the pulpit. The wind lifts
Because we cannot bare to be alone with our thoughts in the silence Mothers skirts.
Hows this for pipes? I yell the smite of thunder, and I, a born-
again delinquent, take a spray can to the pews.

5
Trust in the ROAD with both your feet and rest not on your
own buttocks, 6but in all your ways refuse to submit to the
Man, and the pavement will make your paths winding.
Converted Proverbs 3:5-6

[2] [3]
Sandbox Mimicking Nature
David Landoni Danika Morrison

To eyes more grown the pit was puny


five-by-five, or six-by-six
but in the time of towering fences he
and me would kneel upon the Sandy Sea
that stretched without horizon, forgiven
by the tender noontide sun.

We pearl-heart pirates tired of slitting throats


that always healed at end of hour, so now
our prize was rocks: plastic, light, just below
the baking grains so we could sift and scour.
If wed been told the worthless jewels were bought
at Fishstore down the street, a penny each,
our eyes would widen, for now we knew our spoils
were from afar, unearthly and divine.
Smooth azure, speckled jade, and verdant gold
shiny, cool, and gold.

But time has yielded cooler afternoons,


and sand has shrunk to keep out unfresh thieves.
I stand so tall I hardly see the stones
that never thinned despite our reckless taking.
Two dusty pirates sail the seas alone.

[4] [5]
The Lonely Robin Eleven Weeks This Time
Hannah Casey Makayla Wamboldt

She is lounging among pockets of sunlight drawing silhouettes


of bees on notebook paper. The light captures her, climbs across her
skin as its filtered through the windowpanes. She looks frustrated
and begins erasing. Can I reheat your coffee for you dear? he asks,
noticing the cup sitting still untouched on the table. She sees him for
the first time, almost shocked he is standing there, and takes a small
sip.
No, thats alright, she returns unfurling pencil to paper. Thank
you. He continues watching the pencil move delicately over the
page. Her dark auburn hair tucked behind her and the slivers of
sunlight drawing forth the freckles on her nose. She couldnt be more
beautiful, he thinks, in her checkered pajamas, concentrating deeply
on the symmetries of bees before her. He considers reaching over
the chair for her. Considers kissing the top of her head. Instead he
returns to the kitchen to pour out more lukewarm coffee.
Ever since the first miscarriage, Beth had become obsessed
with bees. She would lie on the couch for hours readingthe news,
childrens books, romance novels. The Secret Life of Bees, one of her
favorite childhood novels, he thinks was what did it for her. After
rereading it, she scoured the internet, researching beekeeping,
fixated on the idea that in their very own backyard she would
become a beekeeper. Brian accompanied her to a beginners
beekeeping class. He helped her assemble the hive. Together they
spent a humid summer in their backyard among the honeybees.
While he helped out with the bees initially, as work picked up, Beth
took over the beekeeping completely. Beekeeper Beth he called her.
She was gentle with them, and patient, much more patient than
he. He often found her when he returned home from work, sitting
cross-legged in the grass across from the hive reading aloud from her
books of poetry. Watching her whisper long stanzas to the bees in
her soft smooth voice drew waves of sadness through him. He missed
the woman whod whisper those same words to him, and the way he
could spend the rest of the day remembering her breath on his ear.

[6] [7]
She is turning thirty this week and doesnt want to make this Beth! Happy birthday darling! Brians younger sister Michelle
birthday a big deal, despite Brians plea to throw a Roaring 20s swoops her up in her arms, cocktail in hand.
party with their closest friends downtown to celebrate the last Thanks, she feels like she is yelling; the music is so loud. This
decade. Flapper dresses, fancy cocktails, real cigarettes, the whole is really something.
shebang he says, shaking her shoulders in his hands, grinning wildly Here let me grab you a drink, she insists, Old Fashioned,
at the idea. You love Gatsby! He knew no other way to love her alright?
than in the extravagant. It had always been this way. No, no, I can get her something Michelle; dont worry Brian
He had first seen her in the campus library when they were still says.
in college. Big round glasses, a black turtleneck sweater, and that Suit yourselves. And take off your coats for Christs sake and
perfect curly red hair. She was reading Adrienne Rich and he couldnt come dance with me, she wriggles her body backward into the
stop watching her, wondering what poems she might be mulling over crowd and yells back, youre only twenty-nine for a few more
whenever shed pause to look out the window. Wondering if she had hours! Once Michelle is out of sight, Beth reaches for his hand and
a boyfriend. squeezes it firmly.
What are you reading? he asked, kneeling beside her table, Thank you. She doesnt know how to tell people shes not
catching her by surprise. She looked up with sharp green eyes and drinking, not because shes pregnant, but because she isnt anymore.
saw him grinning through a mouthful of white teeth. Everything makes her feel sick.
Orion, she answered, leaning a little closer to him, already I know, he kissed her cheek. At least give me one dance,
somehow at ease in his presence. I cant figure out exactly what I alright?
think it means.
Let me see if I can help. He sat down across from her and
reached out for the book. May I? He couldnt remember reading Stirred from sleep, flushed, just opening her eyes, she sits up in
any poetry since his freshman year Shakespeare class, but she bed, sees herself in the floor length mirror through the milky light
seemed excited to talk about it. By the end of their conversation, he floating through the bedroom windows. Brians up already. In the
managed to get her to agree, albeit reluctantly, to go on a date with kitchen making coffee she presumes from the soft hum coming from
him. That Saturday afternoon he took her to his favorite Vietnamese the hallway. She rubs remnants of sleep from her eyes and fixates on
restaurant for dinner and then to a jazz concert downtown, trying to her naked body reflected, hunched over a pile of covers. God, I cant
drag out his time with her as long as possible. She was overwhelmed believe Im actually thirty, she whispers to no one. Her freckles
by him, his thoughtfulness, his gentleness. After about two hours into form sharp constellations across her collarbone. She traces their
their date, he decided he would probably marry her. She would never points down her chest. Her breasts are soft, unassuming, though
tell him this, but she was pretty sure she had decided the same. And she has never been pleased with them. Her hand rests for a moment
that summer after graduation, they did. over her stomach. She notices the discoloration of her hands. Faded
When they found out they were pregnant again he criedbig scars from old beestings. Looking back up at herself in the mirror,
salty tears and squeezed her face in his hands. This is such amazing she wishes she could trade her body in for one that could keep its
news, he looked into her expansive green eyes. She forced a small promises. She hardly wants to moveonly enough to bury herself
smile for him, cupped her hands around his, kissed his wet nose. That again in the covers and return to a fetal position, waiting for Brian
was almost three months ago. They decided not to tell anyone this to bring her coffee that will cool on the bedside table until she can
time. stomach it. She vows to move the mirror into the guest bedroom. She
Are you almost ready? he calls from the living room. She wants to be held, doesnt know to ask for anything.
takes two more swift strokes of mascara, beginning to have second He has always been a fixer. Thats what she had called him. He
thoughts about her makeup. didnt know what she meant. Im just trying the best I can to make
Coming! things easier on you, he said when she told him they had lost the
The party is at a vintage hotel ballroom downtown. Brian and baby. The one that was supposed to be theirs this time. To make
her friends have outdone themselves. A live jazz band is playing and sure you know how much I love you, that Im here for you. She hated
people are already dancing.
[8] [9]
telling him time and time again that there was nothing he could do.
But he couldnt do nothing. He continued waking up early to make
her coffee, rubbing her feet, doing the grocery shopping, buying
more flowers. Kept trying to distract her by taking her to movies,
Ode to a Mourning Artist
out on long drives, out with friends. Planning trips they could take Isabella Manoguerra
together the following summer. How do you feel about Hawaii?
hed ask over his computer. Spain? New Zealand? She only wanted
He slouches before canvas wishing
him to sit on the couch with her and say nothing while she said
he might sigh heavily enough to bring life back.
nothing. Not to ask her what she was thinking about when she stared
With every brush stroke let her
out the window at the bees for what felt like hours, mesmerized by
spring forth into existence; laughing
their moving bodies. Not to drag her out to see friends when she
like wind chimes dangling
didnt have any words left to use on anyone besides him. And even
from the back porch, itching to join
those were few.
the wind.
Early the next morning near the lemon tree he watches her tend
the bees in the backyard. She is so marvelous, marveling at themall
The air keeps still now,
quick bodies and chaos. His old baseball hat hides her unshowered
heavy in its stagnancy.
hair, save for soft pieces framing a woman calculating grief with
hexagons. She is wearing rain boots and sees him from the kitchen,
He would paint her always
smiling into black coffee. He notices the dill has grown quite fitful
in colorsoft lilac cloth knotted at her throat,
in the windowsill, pecking through cool soil to reach for something
eyelashes grazing her cheekbones,
outside. She still doesnt want to be touched. He understands. He
silver hair, a comma, punctuating
doesnt want to want it. He wishes he could ask the bees how they
her temples.
do nothing, but offer her consolation he cant in their small bodies.
Wishes he could hold her. He is throwing the coffee filter into the
She would say always,
trash and sees crumpled pieces of paper: black and white bees, her
that is much too beautiful for me,
handwriting. Im sorry I had no words last night, he says when
unaware of her own timeless elegance,
she opens the sliding door and enters the kitchen. For the first
her own inherent grace.
time lying in bed next to her, he felt the heaviness in her sadness,
in her body. Felt he couldnt make her smile long enough to breach
The brush lay still now,
the space between them. He accepted not knowing what to say. Not
heavy in its vacuity.
knowing what to do as her body closed around itself again like a book
preserving dead petals.
It is no use
he said; never love a wild thing.
She will only turn back
to the breeze.

[10] [11]
In Sleeping I am Talking to
Limbo Lake Myself but Seeing You
Zack Rosse
Mitch Gomes

Stretches of brown sand Crows fly inside my mouth. They will eat the honey in your hands. It
outside cobblestone wont hurt, I will just take a part of you.
where beaches dont land The beak taps the back of my teeth
but small rivers erode. like one kind of memory colliding with another

Between Sydney Parade


and Booterstown, they rest.
Longing to elevate,
they look out to the cliffs.

Overshadowed by large pipes


and industrial graveyards,
drowning in dark pebbles
instead of cool cobalt.

Give me something to hear and see


instead of trains and cloudy skies.
Maybe more rain will do the trick;
its drips and drops will satisfy.

Rain comes and goes, a few sprinkles fall.


The rivers want more. Thirst is not quelled.
The pebbles are washed, sand becomes wet.
And footprints form small precipices.

A crater, a trap for those who trip and fall.

[12] [13]
the cluster of houses. Nothing moved. This was a village of farmers;
it should not have been so still. He observed the place for several
Yazidiland minutes through wide eyes, searching for a reason to bolt. Finding
none, he began limping past the outskirts of the village, moving
David Ahern clockwise around the perimeter. He peered shyly through the gaps
in the houses, catching glimpses of what lay within. Before, the
village center had been a small lawn of dry grass surrounding a giant
For Toulin, Nareen, Jowan, Zachi, Subhi and Zahra mulberry tree. All he could make out now was a blocky, smoking
mass surrounded by raised and strangely uneven ground.
The stillness of the morning was broken by soft clacks. Over The goat came to a stop next to the pen hed been born in. It
slabs of dusty slate, a small goat wound its way forward, meandering looked almost untouched, but he could see how panicked hooves had
between the gnarled trunks of the olive trees. His white coat glowed chewed the ground. The smell of fear wafted out to greet him home.
in the dawn. Budding horns and gangly legs marked his youth. He trotted through the open gate to the far side of the enclosure,
Beneath a pink nose, his mouth curved upwardsas if in a knowing where he rested his chin on the second lowest board of the fence. Out
smile. Small black eyes darted back and forth nervously. Faint over the tops of sloping olive trees, the northern valley and beyond
ringing echoed in his long, elliptic ears as they strained for the sound hummed in the early sun, the distant mountains just barely visible
of anything. A trace of red dripped down his haunch, flowing from in the twilight. The view encapsulated him for a moment; it brought
a stinging gash in his hindquarters, matting his shaggy hair before back the silhouettes of memories. He could almost taste the milk
wetting the earth he trod upon. Around him, the orchard sat silently, almost feel his mothers heartbeat surge above him.
watching him pass through its stout ranks. A chickens cluck turned him around. He stared down the dirt
He was not lost. This was his world: one of hot wind, rolling road leading into the village. It had come from within the fold of
hills, and olive trees. After a time, he knew, the sky would open up houses, and the sound of life was like an invitation. He clopped
and beyond the orchards border would appear a small cluster of forward, out of the pen and into the street, heart pounding. Around
housesa village made many years ago from toil and stone. It was a him, each home sat sentinel, plastered in dust and riddled with
nameless place, nestled in the high part of a low valley. Only twenty holes. A tiny crater was set into the earth to his right, around which
houses were scattered about its center. From its far edge, one could grass lay shredded, and behind which a wall stood peppered. Glass
peer down the seams of the dry riverbed, all the way across miles of crunched beneath him.
fields to the mountains of the northern horizon. The goat had spent Within a few dozen steps, the town center came into full view.
his youngest days observing that view, suckling and staring across at
It was a small lawn, perhaps one hundred feet in length and width,
an expanse too great for him to comprehend. When the sun rose and
made no longer of grass but of bodies. The inhabitants had been
set, it lit the valley and the flats beyond with hazy warmth, filtered
butchered beside the animals. Human corpses littered the field,
into a shimmer by the wind-risen dust of the land.
scattered between the remains of slaughtered goats and spent bullet
Even then, the sun was close to peeking above the hills, from
casings. The rising sun sparkled off the strewn brass. Several cows
where it would flood the goats world with light. It had been a
lay on the grass periphery, their entrails littering the earth with
long night. The epinephrine that had surged through his veins
dark red stains. A burnt, eyeless chicken wandered about randomly,
and whitened his eyes the day before was gone, leaving behind a
pecking at different types of the various flesh. In the very center of
drooping head and shallow steps. He could only manage to keep his
the carnage, a pyre had burnt into ash, bone, and sinew. The bodies
legs moving and his wound seeping. Following the downward slope of
seemed contorted, either by pain or heat, as they lay stacked and
the earth, he clopped through the seemingly endless rows. He did not
charred within the sooty pile.
seek safetyonly familiarity.
All that the goat really saw was death. The human head lying next
After a time, the orchard ended and the buildings came into sight.
to his hoof did not disturb him any more or less than the smell of raw
The goat hesitated, considering the uncommon silence. He smelled
blood that consumed his world. He began picking his way towards the
something burning. A wispy plume of smoke smoldered from within
pyre, awkward legs skidding on congealed blood. Men, women, and

[14] [15]
children lay pale about him. Many had a small, leaky hole at the base
of their skull. There were not many women, but of those present, all
wore fatigues.
The goat added his own blood to the dirt as he wandered through
The Mugwamp
the carnagea tribute of sorts. Through it all, he picked his way Melina Harvey
toward the ashes. A foot from the pyre lay a massive stump with
too many rings to count. He climbed up on top of it, and sniffed at
the smoldering pile. Perched atop the stump, he shuffled closer and
closer, leaning out over his hooves to observe the burnt remains. A
rattling gasp from behind startled him off balance, and he slipped
forward into the blackness. He jumped away from the dull heat and
burnt flesh, face covered in soot, and bounded away from the carnage
and noise. Barely a moment into his sprint, he slipped on brains
and blood, smashing his left flank onto the stiff ground. Kicking and
scrambling to his feet, the goat continued away from the pyre at a
slower clip, his side smeared with gore.
Reaching the fields edge, he turned and chanced a look back. A
woman in fatigues had clawed her way atop the stump, laying chest
down, neck straining, staring back at him. She was beautiful. He
could hear her wheezing fifty feet away, a bullet torn deep into each
of her lungs. Face pale, blue lips quivering, she reached a raised palm
towards him.
The goat ran. He ran away from the woman, away from the pyre,
past pocked houses with shattered windows and walls streaked with
blood. He ran by the pen he was born in, into the orchards hed
wandered ever since. He ran for the mountains on the northern
horizon. He kept running until a small click beneath his hoof
wrenched the world apart and flung him in pieces to rest beneath the
oily shade of the olive trees.

[16] [17]
O Grape In Gods Name
Leo Francovich Nathan Patrick Nelson

O sweet-fleshed orbital I saw the trees


O dust-skinned sphere Stretching for the Heavens
O little envelope of juice-love Outliving mewalked in their shadows
Wondered what secrets they keep
How you must have clamored I felt my skin like their bark
on the vine just to be heard My secrets carved with names and hearts
over your chattering brothers. I wanted to reach like the trees
Stretch my weary limbs towards God
And now whos here telling you Cried in fear that he cannot see me
that when you grow up there are I am too small
only two options: shrivel up or And the world is too large
To the trees I must look like a dog
be crushed. I know, its hard to take in. Howling at something he cannot comprehend
O grape, please dont cry. But I saw the trees
Maybe, if youre lucky, youll become wine! They let me look for Gods name
That it might be carved in their skin.
The nose will sniff you. Instead I will etch my own name
The mouth will sip you. Deep into their layers
The connoisseur will proclaim you: That it might find its way to their roots

Complex, full-bodied, medium-dry Sink my name into earth


Earthy notes citrus, cedar, death So that God will hear me howl
a long and unusually bittersweet finish. And he might respond

High praise, right? This is just the beginning.


Youll go to a better place is what Im saying.

[18] [19]
nobodynot a single nurse, or nursing student at Providence Sacred
Heart Medical Center and Childrens Hospitalhad been willing to
Eating Sand stand Kyles attitude. Enrique longs for the emotion evoked during
his first encounter with Kyleeven though he would never admit it
Brahiam Villanueva as he vacantly joins the other ministers in the front pew; everyone
observing Father Carlos as he commences the ceremony over the
white and gold table cloth remembering the purity and triumph of
Father Carlos Sedilla proceeds down the aisle on the beaming Christ the King.
Sunday morning, parting the sea of pews to once again fulfill the Just this last Thursday, Enrique had entered the room where Kyle
necessary linkage between priest and God at the altar. The Lord had listened to music through white, stringy headphones, staring
would be made present today because of his holy hands. Blessed intently at whatever had been on his iPhones screen. The cool
be Father Carlos Sedilla, thinks Enrique Suarez as he follows the metallic door handle had resembled the general feel of the room, I
priest behind the other ministers toward the stairs leading up to hope God has blessed your Day! Enrique had said, but only after the
the chancel of The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes of Spokane. A click of the door announced the solitude of the two.
shameless Cantor of the Psalm, Enrique watches as the faithful open Enrique had not dared to mention God in the presence of his
their hearts to the message of the Lord in the neatly organized pews loud supervisor Michelle Wesley at Providence Sacred Heart
of the nave. The coconut oil on his eyelashes flashing like a small Medical Center and Childrens Hospital, a woman of wide hips and a
flame in the sunlight pouring in through the large mosaic windows. disproportionately small face who had raised her concerns of Enrique
Yes, coconut oil, which Enrique has only recently heardwell, potentially excluding the Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu... and
just this past Thursday to be exactwill make his eyelashes longer. whatever else she had said after, Enrique had not heard, for he had
And for a second, putting all thoughts aside, Enriques head bobs to understood Michelles ideology as his call to action. Michelle Wesley
the rhythm of Lord, I Come Weary of My Journey. Enrique Suarez had dared to bring silence to the message of the Lordor she had
doeshe actually doescome exhausted from his journey, but not for triedso Enrique had since then found ways to make the name of the
reasons other than the excessive modification on his body, which Lord heard.
nowin the presence of the Lordis unnecessary. It was the stupid I HOPE GOD HAS BLESSED YOUR DAY! Enrique had repeated to
knock-off Nair Cocoa Butter Lotion, which he had boughtalso that the body which lay in the hospital bed, an elevated broken left leg.
last Thursdayin hopes of having a smoother bottom. And he does This time, he had elicited the reaction he had failed to draw out of
have a smoother bottom now, but he also has a rash sprinkled with Kyle Madrigales the first time. The moment Enrique first laid eyes
blisters which sting even when he stands still. He ponders on the
on Kylea memory still reeking the freshness of being only three
concept of God punishing him for having invested in such a wrong
days youngstill withers Enriques spine, causing his entire body
alteration of his body, but doesnt actually think God has punished
to crumble under the weight of feeling attraction towards someone
him, because God doesnt punish.
who would lure him into eating sand. Yes, sand. Sand which is neither
It is the fault of the ministers in front of him who are walking
nutritious for the body or the soul. Sand deposited by the Devil itself,
slow; after all, if he could just sit down, the itch would stop, even if
to draw Enrique further from God. Being gay isnt wrong, Enriques
it were just for a second. He knows this, as he follows in procession.
mom had told him on the day she had found out, but it is kind of like
Enrique has to, once again, to embrace his vulnerability, put his fate
eating sand: just because you like it, DOES NOT mean it is good for you. God
in the hands of God, and carry on with his burdens as the fragile
would never want Enrique to eat sand, not because it is wrong, but
blisters threaten to ooze their clear fluids into his Calvin Klein
because it is not good for him. He knows this.
Whities, and then baby-gray dress pants. Enrique doesnt really know
The two had locked eyes for six seconds. Exactly. Enrique had
why he applied the buttery lotion, certainly none of this would be
counted. Kyle Madrigales had been in a car accident, a bad onethe
happening had he not met the man with the open mind.
ones where the camera freezes before impactand he had been
His name was Kyle Madrigales, and he was the first patient
finishing his three-week sentence of bed rest after his fragile legs
Enrique and his clinical partner had been assigned to because
were put into casts at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and

[20] [21]
Childrens Hospital. In a little over a second, Enrique had traced After the ordeal, Enrique had dared to make eye contact once
the hairs lining Kyles forehead: a straight line, dark, and directly again, this time remembering the word, better? in a surprising
linking one corner of his forehead to the other. Full. Before Enrique whisper.
finished counting another second, he had glossed over Kyles silky Do I feel better? No. You dont talk as much as the other nurses.
eyebrows and eyelashes, because they also had extended the way they I like that. Kyle had said, eyes fixated on a self-conscious Enrique:
are supposed to, only a tiny cut adorned Kyles left eyebrow, but no arched shoulders, retracted neckattempting to impress, but not
dots of incoming hairs. The third second had led Enrique to ponder quite impressive. Ignoring Enriques odd behavior, Kyle continued,
over Kyles left bruised cheekbone: appearing as if a finger dipped in In fact, I like it so much, that I want to give you a gift. Bring me my
the color of a yellow purple bruise had drawn a line outlining a bone bag, the brown one, on the seat behind you, Kyle had pointed.
below Kyles eye which didnt seem to belong there. Overlooking the Enrique had almost darted in the direction of the bag, feeling
sharp jawline, and the delicately toned arms, Enrique had focused on instantly embarrassedalmost ashamedafter realizing how fast he
the lips until the end of the fourth second; whereas the rest of Kyles was moving. Kyle had taken the bag before Enrique had attempted
appearance had embodied the gray-skin and dehydration depicted to hand it over, he had begun digging through its jingling and
in most of the patients in the hospital, his lips remained pink and crumpling contents, until he had uncovered a plastic, see-through
plumpas if ready to burstbut not yet too big for his face. The box the size of his palm, an orange peanut-shaped sponge had rested
chip on Kyles left front tooth veneer had given it all away. Enrique in the box.
had stared at it for two entire seconds, and he would have starred You see this? Kyle had said, its called a blender, use it to blend
longer had Kyle not spoken. It had rested in Kyles mouthshattered, your concealer so it doesnt look as chalky as it does on you right
a snow-white piece of porcelain, chipped about halfway down the now. a smile as innocent as a child in a first-grade class photo had
toothrevealing Kyles dull, natural tooth below which had been formed across Kyles face. No consideration.
shaved down to around half of its natural width to attach the veneer Biblical readings are about to begin, announcing the time is
implant. The rest of Kyles teeth had lined across his open mouth like approaching for Enrique to perform the Responsorial Psalm. Up
the hard keys of a piano, but whiter, and just the right size. to the podium walks Deacon Marcos Gonzalez. There is nothing
Are you here to tell me I can leave now? had been the first bass- attractive about the deacon: his back hunches, just enough to where
sounding, monotone, hymn to come out of Kyles mouth, right after it is noticeable; his fat, cricked lips spread into a smile awkwardly
pausing the smothered song emitting from his headphones, he had resembling the lower half of a circle; his hairline is receding
not bothered to remove the stringy ear pods. dramatically for his early twenties; and his toes point inward as he
No, Enrique had responded, not knowing why every other word makes his way towards the open bible on the podium. If anything,
in the galaxy had escaped him. thinks Enrique, at least hes really tall. Enrique attempts to obscure
Then get me some salt for my water, my mouth is killing me, from God the thoughts which followed: despite the height, the
Kyle had said, resuming his music and refocusing his attention to his deacons belly is comparable to one of a third term pregnancy.
screen. Nothing attractive.
Enrique had done as he was told, Kyles tone had made him feel Just two days ago, at the Friends of Jesus Christ Friday Night
like a rushed child, but he had been happy to oblige. Upon returning Youth Bible Study Group, Deacon Marcos Gonzalez had purposely
to Kyles room on that Thursday morning, he had found out that a satso Enrique thinksright next to Enrique, where he had
half empty salt shaker did not have enough salt in it for Kyles liking. made a point to rub legs with Enrique throughout the entire
And after being ordered around a second time, Enrique had arrived meeting. Enrique had not been able to focus on the struggles the
with an entire black container of Morton Iodized Saltthe whole other members of the club had faced: struggles to carry their
untouched 26 ouncesfrom the lunch-break community kitchen at figurative crosses of burdens. But Enrique had sharedalmost
Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Childrens Hospital. too enthusiastically to feel comfortable with himselfhow he had
Enrique had watched as Kyle sipped from a salty water cup, rinsing mentioned the name of the Lord to Kyle on Thursday despite Michelle
for a few seconds before spitting into a dry cup which Enrique would Wesleys wishes. Really, he had just wanted to mention Kyle. To
empty and discard in the bathroom inside of Kyles hospital room. anyone. And he does not really know why. It is an unprecedented

[22] [23]
feeling, he knows this much, as he watches Deacon Marcos read at out their unique role, every last person in the congregation he is
the podiumthe impulse, the feeling which had forced him to share overlooking from behind the podium. Everyone. And some roles in
his encounter with Kyleit is unprecedented. the community are harder to fulfill than others. Some roles are more
After the majority of the Friends of Jesus Christ Friday Night taxing, more stressful, more depriving. Deacon Marcos Gonzalez has
Youth Bible Study Group members had left, Enrique had stayed needs which Enrique does not understand, needs bred from the weight
behind to help Deacon Marcos with the cleanup. Peace had been of the figurative cross of burdens which he carries, Enrique knows
restored to the disordered chairs, crumb ridden tables, and garbage this. Enrique cannot possibly judge the man for fracturing under the
bins piled with orange-stained paper plates, in almost no time, until heavy weight of his figurative cross.
only the dishes were left. Over a soapy sink full of dishes, Enrique Like Elder Maria, sitting in the front row of the pews right
had discussed the book of Leviticus with the deacon; that was, until next to the altar with herformerly shunneddaughter and her
the deacon had decided to excuse himself from his dish drying duties illegitimate, bastard grandson: a product of her daughters failed
by wiping his hands on his washed out cargo shorts. The deacon had college endeavors. Yes, elder Mariawith all of her thin wrinkles,
tried to store a red pitcher in the cabinet above Enriques head, and lifeless brown spots surrounding her eyes, dwarfish body, and
his over-six-foot-six prowess had caressed Enriques back; a not- balding cloud of red hairwho battles through cancer and diabetes,
entirely- soft bulge had massaged right above Enriques hips. After AND fulfills her role in the church as a messenger of the Word of
hearing the pitcher clack against the wooden cabinet, Enriques the Lord after forgiving her daughter for having turned to the
vision had been muffled. The deacon had covered Enriques filled-in protestants for help with her accidental pregnancy. Both figures
eyebrows with his large hands as if protecting a small child from a carry the weight of their figurative crosses with grace, Enrique is no
scary movie. one to judge them for stumbling. They resemble the warrior angel
You look, different...tonight, Deacon Marcos had whispered, as painting, rimmed in gold, on the opposite side of the room, standing
Enrique traced the edges of the plate in his hands under the bubbly majestically, exposing his brawny wingspan, one foot on the head
stream of flowing tap water. Enrique had not known how to respond. of a maimed demon, one hand firmly grasping the sword piercing
He had been different that night; he had used Kyles orange peanut the demons neck. They are the archangel. Warriors of the Lord
sponge, and it had worked wonders. Even his eyebrows and eyelashes against the demons of the world, against the ignorance and apathy
had benefited from Kyles advice and the hunt for coconut oil and of the protestants and atheists who are pretty much the same thing
water-resistant eyelinerfor the eye brows, of course which had according to elders like Maria. This, he knows. Enrique is a messenger
ensued that Thursday afternoon following his chat with Kyle. of the Lord himself, and he has tried to carry his figurative cross in
Enriques thoughts had traced back to Kyle for a second. the same graceful way, and he knows he should not judge himself
Gratitude. Or was it something else? Just before he had been able either for having stumbled, and he knows he has stumbled.
to answer, the deacon had gaspedas if asking what the fuckand What happened to your tooth? Enrique had asked Kyle, after
had begun tracing his steps backwardsin hatred, in ragehis receiving the makeup suggestions, coconut oil referrals, and water-
eyes glued to his blessed and holy hands, he had noticed the three proof eyeliner tips for the hairline, which followed the clear-plastic
shades of concealer and water-resistant eyeliner Enrique had used box with the orange peanut sponge. Enriques mental notes had
to accentuate his fore brow area that day. The deacon had rinsed accounted for all the dangers Kyle had shared: eye infections, hair
his hands in the running sink, before leaving without saying a word. loss, botched Juvederm injectionsnot that Enrique would ever try
Today, the deacon says many words as he reads from the podium, injections, but everything else? It was...tempting.
none of which Enriques wandering mind registers. It is his turn to Oh, theyre tooth veneers, Kyle had said, Its an easy fix, just a
walk up to altar, bow, and exchange looks with the deacon before little over one grand.
reading the Responsorial Psalm. Just a little over!?
And he does, just as he practiced, expecting no remorse from Kyle had chuckled, Youre still a baby-gay, college student. Out
Deacon Marcos. The holiness of Deacon Marcos is not something in the real world, its not that much. Enrique had felt distraught.
Enrique doubts, he knows he shouldnt. In fact, everyone in the Gay. But Kyle had continued, The actually scary part is having the
church plays a special role. He has always known that everyone plays veneer removed with the laser, and the hook. I hate the concept of

[24] [25]
the hook in my mouth. Ive always been scared of breaking my teeth. Kyle had waited, as if he somehow had known Enriques limit was
I think its a gay thing: being scared of messing up on a modification, nearing. And I didnt have to pay a cent. But I had to put up with the
to the point where you cant go back. recovery: pain killers, antibiotics, and physical therapy. You have
Gay. the height; you wouldnt have to worry about this type of thing. You
But Enrique had made an effort to reinvent himself, yeah, was could use your clients money for other things.
all he had responded, unable to overcome the subconscious frown Enrique repeated the word clients, but didnt quite get it out as
forming on his face. a question.
Silence. Yup, Kyle responded. Be an escort. The ones of the twenty first
Not that Im assuming you dont have money because youre century. 2016. Modified. A work of art. Clients are the artists. You just
Mexican. I was in college too not that long ago. College sucks, nobody might need to change your beaner name because that wont get you
ever has enough money for anything, Kyle had added, noticing anywhere.
possibly regrettingEnriques facial expression. Definitely missing Enrique had understood; for, he had wanted to quit the nursing
the true source of Enriques reaction. programespecially during the semester he took organic chemistry
How long ago did you graduate? Enrique managed to squeak and for some reason, Kyle had made sense. The concept of Kyle
out, after some more silence. relishing as his nose had been opened as wide as his resting mouth,
I didnt, I dropped out, Kyle smirked, as if telling a joke which and reshaped to the symmetrical stretch of cartilage before them.
had grown old. I was in my fourth year. I studied computer science. It made sense. Broken legs to be reshaped three inches taller, it all
Oh! Enrique laughed, and it was too hard? he had asked, in a made sense. But he had not shared this. Instead, he had left his shift
cautious tone. early on that turbid Thursday afternoon, and he had negotiated with
Well. Not really. You know how Mexican parents tell you it gets God: the coconut oil, Nair Cocoa Butter Lotion, and eyelinerfor
better after college? Kyle had said, waiting for Enriques questioning the eyebrows and hairlinein exchange for never desiring a more
nod before adding, it doesnt when youre gay. We never fit in to complex modification. God had agreed.
begin with. Time for the Homily. Enrique blankly laughs at Father Carlos
What do you mean? joke about the young couples of the church, reminiscing on Kyle.
Gays cant have kids, because were gay. And since the only way Kyle. Kyle. Kyle. Some of the twenty-two year olds in the church
to fit in as a Mexican is to have kids, it becomes all about the money, community are on their third kid. The Mexican way, Enrique thinks.
Kyle had said, in order to fit in, I needed a lot money so I could buy Nobodyeverhad commented on him being gay, and somehow Kyle
stuff for every one elses kids. And, well, when you look like me, had just known. But Enrique guessed that perhaps everyone at The
sugar daddies are easy to come by. Caramel colored Latino boys have Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes of Spokane was too busy trying to
always been on high demand. I didnt need college once I realized. get married and have kidsor the other way around, most of the
He had laughed: straight white teeth, delicate lining of lip tissue, a timeto notice the make up on some guy who would never bring
vein to the side of his throat. NEW COMMUNITY MEMBERS! to the world. The joke, was that if the
And Enrique had wanted to laugh like Kyle, but pursing his lips young couples kept having kids at the rate of one a year, soon the
he stared at Kyle for what seemed like a whole six seconds, thats local parish wouldnt want a new community center, they would need
funny, he had managed to think up. The words of the universe had it! L.O.L. Thought Enrique, laughing wildly at the memory of his first
escaped him again, yet something inside him had emitted a genuine encounter with Kyle.
laughlike the ones he had only ever had with his brothers before he Kids. Marriage. Home. Sacraments. Beautiful. But it isnt for
turned tenand it scared him. He had enjoyed the laugh. everyone. Enrique knows this. Nonetheless, in high school, he had
Youre really socially awkward, you know that? Kyle had told his family he wanted to be a priest, not because he actually did,
smiled. Look, kid, next time you get tired of your little nursing but because he knew that gay is okay, as long as you are single at the
program, let me know. We can work with what you got. You see these end of each day. His Catechism teacher had told him so, two days
legs? Modified. A proud eighty-six thousand-dollar limb extension before Enriques Confirmationwhen he had vowed to embrace his
surgery plus the free trip to India, because its cheaper there. vulnerability, put his faith in the hands of God, and carry on with

[26] [27]
his burdensas the two followers of the Word of God had made other, a tad more conservative with her wardrobe choices: white
eye contact with the giant marble figure of their Lord and Savior jeans and red flannel.
Jesus Christ, crucified on thick and intersecting planks, his body Who is this? the tattooed woman had smirked, before reaching
beautifully embracing the end of life. Does it matter? Enrique thinks, for her white Michael Kors bag on the cabinet next to Kyles bed.
staring into the eyes of the marble statue once again. His attraction. This is...I forget your name, Kyle had looked at Enrique.
His emotion. Kyle...Kyle. No. Because at the end of the third day, Insinuating that the previous almost-three-hour-long conversation
Jesus Christ resurrected. And Enrique too would resurrect, but he had between the twoonly two days earlierhad meant nothing. Kyle
to earn it. The Devil has tricky ways of testing our faith. This thing. had then looked towards the women and added, anyways, he and his
His homo-sex-u-a-li-ty. Just another test. clinicals partner are my new nurses. You can go now, Arlene, he had
Saturday morning, he had known he had to save Kyle. said, making eye contact with the tattooed woman.
Well, his encounter with Deacon Marcos bulge during cleanup Okay, take care baby. Dont let too many of your guys visit while
after the meeting of the Friends of Jesus Christ Friday Night Youth youre sick. Love ya! Arlene had said, planting a kiss on Kyles
Bible Study Group had left him wanting something. Something even forehead before grabbing the other woman by the hand and walking
a few minutes of stroking did NOT take away! And how annoying it out the door. Her droopy eyes saw through Enriquethe smell of
had been: every time he had thought he was under control, back to cigarettes lingering around the women like a thick fogas if he had
normal, thinking with the right headit had happened again. Lust. shrunk and become insignificant.
So, on the Saturday after the Bible study, he had decided to convince But Enrique most certainly had not become any smaller, or any
God that it was his mission to save Kyle; to stop Kyle from devouring less noticeable. In fact, he had felt like he had been uncomfortably
sand. And he had, he had convinced God. He had prepared like a too large to be in the room. Too large to have been in the city even!
warrior angel to head into battlenot knowing he most literally was As if he had needed to be in a flat open field with no one else around
preparing for a fighthis makeup was blended as religiously as his so he could ask if those two lesbians had just held hands in front of
hands clasped together in adoration for the Lord at Sunday mass for him. Walked into the hallway holding hands. No care in the world. No
the past twenty years. He had applied the Nair Cocoa Butter Lotion consideration.
to his bottom, in retrospect not really knowing why, but thinking Enrique had approached Kyle ever cautiously after the door had
it would have somehow helped. His eyebrows had undergone a shut behind the women, the Bible firmly pressed against his chest,
meticulous plucking, before being shaded in from one end to the its your soul, had escaped his mouth before he could think.
other. He had worn his most expensive dress pantsthe ones he What?
would wear the next day to massand for the first time in a long God needs me to save your soul, Enrique had continued,
time, he had paid special attention to how his hair could fall in just ignoring Kyles confused no, angryface. Look at you, you cant
the right places to obscure his cricked hairline. He had been a gay leave the bed because of the lifestyle that you chose! Enrique had
man possessed. Walking into Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center said, thinking the injuries could have all just been a punishment for
and Childrens Hospital, with bible in one hand, Enrique felt his Kyle. But God doesnt punish, so he had corrected himself, your life
figurative archangel brawny wingspan levitate his figurative cross can be a lesson, to others like youlike usthats what it is. You can
of burdens. The might of God Himselfyes, it only makes sense if it alter everything but your soul. Because it isnt yours. That is why you
were a Himcirculated through each individual follicle on Enriques have lived through everything and come up unto a dead end now,
head. tha.
The handle on the door of Kyles room had reached its horizontal Shut up Kyle had interrupted. What lifestyle? No gay bible-
position, before the door had clicked shut, its ever-cool metallic thumper will come tell me that I am not ever-y-thing you wish you
nature still resembling the eternal feel in the room Enrique would could be Kyle had said, gesturing from his eighty-six- thousand-
remember his encounters with Kyle Madrigales. Two women dollar leg extension surgery, all the way up to his bruised cheekbone
had straightened up from Kyles bedside, one of them exposing implant, jawline, and hairline, finishing with his broken tooth
various tattoos across her shoulders and arms, droopy eyes, and a veneer.
glimmering belly button piercing just above her thin miniskirt. The But youre so superficial. You arent happy! Enrique said. You

[28] [29]
even changed your name because you didnt like your beaner name. Besides, Enrique thinks he should not care for Kyle. Kyle. Kyle. KYLE.
What does that even mean to you? He knows he shouldnt. He has to focus on The Creed; focus on parting
Oh, youre the right person to tell me this, because youre so the sea of familiar hollow voices with his effeminatepassionate
happy. Kyle had laughed. accent as he makes eye contact with the daunting marble statue of a
GOD DOESNT WANT YOU TO EAT SAND! Enrique had yelled out, crucified Lord Jesus Christ,
louder than he had intended, not because it isnt right, but because I believe in one God, The Father almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,
it isnt good-for-you! Almost apologetically, he had continued, I Of all things visible, And Invisible...
just want you to see more, to value more than what your little mind
understands. There is more to the life the Lord has given you. More
to his gift than the way you look now. More t.
Get out of my room! Kyle had interrupted again, grim faced.
Now, loud footsteps steps paced outside in the halls, nearing towards
them. Youre a mess! Get over-it.
Enrique didnt know why he had hit himGod probably didnt
want thatbut he had. Twice. Once with his right fist, and again
when he had thrown the bible. Both times on the unbruised
cheekbone. Time had frozen again. Like how it had on Thursday.
Another six seconds. Enrique had counted. Again. But this time,
Michelle Wesley had interrupted their eye contact. She had barged
into the cool air of the room.
I want a different nurse, Kyle had said immediately, his voice
ignoring the pink rims adorning his watery eyes. Enrique had nodded
and exited Kyles room. Michelle Wesley and all of her loud whiteness
had become insignificant to a dashing Enrique.
Mass continues as it began, in a ravishing monotone.
A little before the beginning of The Creed, Enrique still
doesnt know what to believe. What to feel. As he looks around the
community for validation, he longs more than ever to see Kyle. For
the first time in his life, a set futureone he can choose, and not
leave to the hand of God sounds good: one where Kyle comes to
mass, or even one where Enrique simply gets the opportunity to
apologize. He will speculate, many times in his future, how Kyles
crippled body was stuffed into the back seats of Arlenes 2016 Infiniti
QX50, where it was transported back to Seattle. He will speculate,
many times as an ordeal before bed, in dark lonely rooms, how Kyle
found a trio of clients willing to take him back to India to fix his legs.
Four inches this time. He will speculate, how a fourth client covered
the infected cheekbone implant replacement. But the only thing he
will knowliterally the next dayis that Kyle had lied to Michelle
Wesley. Kyle had not told on Enrique. Typical, Enrique would think in
the near future, a liar, a typical gay.
Yet, Enrique attempts to remain unnoticedhis blisters sizzling
as if left out in the sun to dryin a Church where he is noticed, by all.

[30] [31]
Still Ridge Flyover Country
Brooke Smith Emmett Jones

2017 Michael and Gail Gurian Writing Awards Recipient


Poetry, 1st place

Tired men sit in rocking chairs and watch the trucks roll up from
Nebraska.
The highway cracks and splinters beneath their wheels like
crumpled, old
paper. The smoke from passing cars causes an ache in the chest
and memories arise, running in overalls down the wheat fields and
dirt
trails of the mind. A tabby cat, gnarled and mean, dashes into the
middle
of the street. One man puffs his cigarette and says itll be a long
winter.

Susan, at the diner, remembers six feet of snow in the winter.


In her youth, a beauty queen, a real looker, maybe even Ms.
Nebraska.
Ancient history, she says. Just a nobody girl trying to be somebody in
the middle
of the country. She pours me some more coffee and chuckles at
nothing. Old
Jim Wilkins walks in and plops his feet down with a grunt, scattering
dirt
across the countertop. He thinks Sues still got it and stares at her
chest.

I keep my memories of my mother folded in an oaken chest


of drawers. She passed years ago, gnawed by the teeth of winter.
My mother hated to fly. Hated cars too. She planted her feet in dirt,
rich and dark. Once, I took a flight cross country and over Nebraska
I dreamt her face in the corn. When my mother grew pruned and old,
she told me how great this town was. Now, she said, were just in the
middle.

[32] [33]
Shrunken, white-haired Mrs. Jackson, my English teacher back in
middle
A Letter to the Man I Try Not to
school, keeps a yearbook. Most people have a red X across their
chest.
Hate
She says, those are the dead ones, and she smiles. The thought of old Evan Olson
age petrifies me. I wonder if shell X me out as well, after my winter.
In high school, I dated Jenny, red-haired, half-formed girl from 2017 Michael and Gail Gurian Writing Awards Recipient
Nebraska. Poetry, Runner-Up
She wore daffodils in her hair. When I visit her grave, I leave some in
the dirt. I.

I know you most by the triumph you had in high school bringing
Father Grey tries to comfort me. Ashes to ashes, he says, and dirt pan dulce bread to share in the sixth-period English class with the
to dirt. Its meaningless. At church, Id flip the Bible open to the almost friend who had diabetes and your once crush, that
middle volleyball girl, her shorts after practice tight in the seat, her
and mutter nonsense. He tells me about the war. Had it been memory marked by the wilted rose that the farmer boy brought into
Nebraska, English to ask her to prom before you did.
or maybe Omaha where they landed? He got a bad wound in the chest
And you brought in the pan dulce for the rest of the class, too, as a
from shrapnel. He says it still hurts. My body aches too. It feels like
tokenof friendship, the reverse of giving meat to a beaten dog
winter found in an alley.
in my bones. There are all kinds of battle wounds, and some never
grow old. You brought the pan dulce three days late. Stale and sour, none of
your class atemuch of it, and when they did, when the almost
Telephone poles run north to south, east to west, somewhere to friend and your crush bit into the bread, they both nodded
nowhere. Old enthusiastically, picturing a non-stale bread in their minds to avoid
fliers pinned to them flutter in the breeze. On worn roads, the taste ruffling your fragile coat.
of raw dirt A triumph. Even stale, the bread as tokenfor acceptance remarked
in my mouth, I feel alone. Cold winds roared in the heart of winter. more than your silence.
They fractured the ground with frost and stranded the town in the
middle Like the rose the farmer boy stuffed in a box and had hand delivered
of time, where the spring thaw never comes. I imagine flying, longing by a friendto your crush in English class duringthat steamy part in
in my chest, the Ragtime novel like the rose, those memories you threw away
because they rotted. You thought they were not worth planting so
above the snaking veins of highways, soaring past mile markers and
you put them in a coffin.
over Nebraska.

When my shoes grow heavy and I grow old, Ill stay away from
Nebraska. II.
Ill keep my feet planted on firm dirt and listen to the aching in my And now that pan dulce memory comesback when you are aware of
chest your silence.The silence has traveled with you all your life, but this
that tells me theres more than the middle of life; the frozen dead of time it is closer, more lucid.
winter.

[34] [35]
Your boss called you into her officeand shut the door. She said she I never should have buried you, hacked you limb from limband
saw something unusual in the silence in you.She asked you what was uprooted you a thousand times to hold your head before myself
wrong, if anything.
as proof of my own silenceand resulting shame of my existence, but
If anything, the memory somehowwafted from your bosss mouth, I did.
her wordshit youIm good, Im good, honestly,you lied while
inside your eyes became ghouls eyes. You are my rose. You are my memory. You are me.And I am sorry.

Somehow your awareness of your own silence exhumed the paltry Can I forgive the man who I used to befor how much I blamed him,
pastry triumph, tried to hate him?

and you then wanted to devour it,to feel the rose thorns go down
your throat, to shout at the class how you really feltwhen the
Ragtime protagonist spilled himself behind the anarchist mid coitus

because you wanted to be seen talking,for once. You wanted to be


seen. You were tired of driving home alone day after day after day
and blaming the time it tookto arrive home as the cause of the
lackin friends brought home

but what friends? Your mind then was not set on the right track
toward a generic conceptof friends but rather on an obedienceto
books and smarts and winning approval,

a doomed friend-garnering tactic from the start, why you were not
invited to friends birthdays.

Was it your own hate of yourselfthat led to you not having


friendsor was it you yourself pushingeveryone away so that you
couldsay you had no friends? Are these not the same?

Either way, you were miserable,and I tried to bury your memory


many times and once, even, I almost fell intoyour open casket 6 feet
beneath the ground.

III.

To me you are a seed.

No matter how many times I buried your memory, your roots always
took out the headstoneand I had to bring out my axe.

You are not a weed.You are a giant rose.You are a giant rose to me.

[36] [37]
recalibrated. I gasped for oxygen like a fish. Nobody respects the
elderly.
Nannas Glass He grunted.
Youre the one who taught me to hold a grudge, Mom.
Megan Robinson I rocked in my chair and that was the end of that.

I remember the day my heart shattered. It was a Wednesday in


late August.
Little Martin dropped it, despite many warnings that it was thin
glass and it needed to go straight back into Nannas body, I told him,
before my blood lost momentum. Gimme gimme gimme he said,
over and over, and being my only grandson of course I gave in. The
clear vessel was still pink with blood stains, but I figured he gets into
stranger germs than whatever Grandma does, and I handed him the
thing all the same.
You should train him not to do that. Whine, I told my son
Henry. My forehead leaked sweat. By God, teach him a lesson. But
children never listen, do they? So I sat several seconds in the rocking
chair, becoming stiller and stiller, when inevitably my heart dropped
and the pieces scattered across the laminate.
Nobody move, Henry said. He stood up from his armchair, but
stood stiff and unmoving. A momenttoo long for my tastespassed
before he made any purposeful motion. He scurried into the kitchen.
I never liked the kitchen, with its linoleum floors and tacky blue
cabinets. I never liked Henrys house, or his sense of fashion. Or his
vacant look. Or his wife.
I cant move, I couldnt say, but I thought it sarcastically,
waiting for death.
Henry went to the cleaning closet while Little Martin went about
his business of destruction. Hed broken lamps, vases, collectible
ceramic bird figurines, and anything else that might have functional,
aesthetic, or sentimental value. With wide eyes, I watched him pick
a piece of glass off the floor and run into the next room with it. I
thought Henry might vacuum the whole house before he got to the
point. He sucked the pieces of my heart right up.
My eyes bulged. My fingers twitched. Henry, I tried to say, but
all I could do was pucker like a beached whale. He rolled the vacuum
back and forth, then went to the shelf and came back again, at last
toting my spare heart in a jar of clear liquid like dentures. He opened
my chest like a gas tank and inserted the spare. I wheezed, and grew
ten more wrinkles.
Took your sweet time, didnt you? I said when my heart was

[38] [39]
chest to avoid thwacking my skull on the ice. Next to me, I heard
the muffled crash and wheezing grunt of my partners landing. Our
Ourselves proud mentors watched in their rearview mirror as we slid down fifty
feet of icy hill like turtles, wiggling our arms and legs in a hopeless
David Ahern attempt to right ourselves. Our heavy packs, like shells, prevented it.
As the ground flattened, we slid to a stop. The driver of the SUV, out
2017 Michael and Gail Gurian Writing Awards Recipient of concern for our well-being, rolled down his window and released
Nonfiction, Runner-Up the racket of guffawing that had consumed their car. He resealed it
quickly, to stay warm and toasty inside. Ive been wary of ice ever
since.
The air hurt. Everyone knows the feeling: the way a breath As I neared the huddle of bodies across a potentially hazardous
freezes in your lungs before it leaves your mouth in a fleeting, parking lot, a short, round-faced man with thick grey stubble, a blue
opaque wisp. Soon, the frosty chill would retreat west. An orange jacket, and shivering hands intercepted me. I scribbled my name and
shimmer was wedged low between the walls of the valley, held serial number onto his clipboard, and then gave him my passport. It
down by the immensity of a clear, navy sky. The image blurred, so I was a small orange card with my picture on the right and a title in
closed my eyes and rubbed them a little too hard. Creaking the car white print at the top. Part of an old fashioned system, it was there to
door open the rest of the way, I managed to blink my contacts into make sure that I got back out, and would be handed to me upon my
place before my face scrunched up and my mouth gaped into an return.
involuntary yawn. While the sun had slept, I had not. Gathered closely, the group wore a mismatched array of pants,
I stood out of my little green Outback, planting my booted feet on hats, gloves, and jackets; the color red appeared to be the theme. The
the concrete, and stretched my back as an anticipatory apology. The field leader was a skinny, brown-haired woman with freckles and an
lot in which I stood was cramped, surrounded by the silhouettes of overhang nose. She greeted me, not by name, and introduced me to
towering evergreens. Patches of old snow blotted the banks of pine my team leader: a tall, fuzzy-faced, silver-haired mountaineer. He
needles and dirt that lined the perimeter. Fifteen cars, all different wasnt from my unit, but from the only one Id admit was better than
makes and models, were parked side by side next to my own. Their mine. I was trained to walk into this avalanche zone; he taught the
owners stood in a circle a hundred feet away, next to a white, bus- course.
sized trailer that hummed softly from its diesel generator. Shaking his hand, I asked him if he wanted me to pack anything
Treading carefully, I scanned for ice as I made my way towards special. He told me to pack light; the dog team just had a hit and it
the congregation. I had my reason to be overly cautious. Once, during would likely be over soon. I returned to my squat old Subaru and
training, my partner and I had bested the other teams in a land popped the trunk. Rifling through my fat green pack, I placed aside
navigation exercise. We were first by a mile. The finish line was an survival gear, extra clothes, my sleeping bag, pad, and tarp. I kept
old, dinged up, red SUV in which our instructors sat waiting to verify the stove and medical supplies. The abdominal pads, gauze 4x4s
our numbers. After checking in with them, we cracked cocky grins and rolls, Israeli bandages, QuickClot, nitrile gloves, ACE wraps,
and began to strut off towards our next objective. Five steps past the SAM splint, two cravats, trauma sheers, pen light, surgical marker,
tailpipe, I found myself staring, befuddled, at my boots. They were stethoscope, and blood pressure cuff all went on my back. Hell, I left
tall, mud brown, with blue laces zigging up through metal eyelets in the aspirin, even the moleskin. The stove was for hot chocolate.
towards my ankle. The boots were finewhat bothered me was the I didnt do it out of hope. The call had come in the day before, and
bright, overcast sky drifting along behind them. I was upside down. my unit had searched, to no avail, late into the night. If he wasnt
As I thudded hard onto the road, I braced my chin against my dead, he was close to being a record holder. I did it because of the
woman who had emerged from the purring confines of our old, white,

[40] [41]
mobile command post. She was dirty-blonde, standing by the steps, gore, the sadness, or some cosmic self-revelation of mortalityits
rocking back and forth ever so slightly with her head in her hands. just that dead people are awkward. Everyone thinks that tripping
Id seen family waiting for us to go get their loved ones before, but alone in public, or sitting through a sex scene with your parents is
those had been broken bones, mild heart-attacks, and wrong turns bad; it doesnt even compare. It starts with the fact that people weigh
in the woods. We werent going out for a person this timewe were so much more when theyre dead. When you dont have enough
going out for a body. Id never seen family like this before. To be hands, theres a real struggle to move them. You wonder later if
honest, I worried that she would look up and see me pulling red bags youd been respectful enough. What would they say, if they could say
with white crosses out of my pack, so I bore the extra weight to avoid anything? Perhaps they would apologize for the hassle. Maybe theyd
weight of another kind. She never did look up. It didnt matter: it was ask why you didnt hold their head up, why you just let it fall back,
good practice to carry the supplies anyway, since any one of us could forcing their mouth open into that stupid, disbelieving expression
take a wrong step. like they couldnt believe they were actually dead. Youd probably
We strapped transponders above our hips and crossed under the say you hadnt really thought about it, that you were sorry. Then
dark overhang of the forest. The team leader led myself and two theres the extra move, whether its placing their arm at their side,
others up the switchbacks of the frozen mountain. We followed each or holding a foot up so it doesnt fall in the way of the zipper. The
others heels mindlessly along the trail until we reached the sudden, dead tell you that youre taking too long, so you tuck them away and
hard-packed clasp of the snowline. From there, we clambered zip them quiet.
carefully for some time. Around us, the pine forest was dark and The avalanche had carried him so far that it was less than a mile
peaceful; it was overly fitting to the task at hand. back to the lot. There werent more than ten of us, six carrying the
The subject had been caught high up on the mountain, so we long, metal basket-litter. The valley continued to brighten as we
pushed upwards through the tree cover quickly. To our right, below made our way back to the border of trees, warming our backs and
a frozen waterfall, the dogs let their noses lead them in their search. throwing the world into real color. It was a short hike from there, but
We would be in position to sweep the higher slopes if the dogs scent the snow on the trail was compact to the point of slipperiness. There
turned out to be false. Soon, however, the radio crackled that the was also, as often is the case, not enough room for both the litter and
scent had been true. The avalanche had carried him four thousand its bearers. I was forced to walk duck-footed on the upward side of
feet, over the two hundred foot falls below us. It was lucky for us. the trail, dodging tree roots and branches, and take a less vertical
The risk would be far lower down there than out on the exposed grip on the rails of the litter. My wrist began bumping against the
slope, especially as the first true rays of sunlight began presenting dead mans hand through the black plastic, and I could have sworn
themselves in the east, illuminating the mountains summit with the that I felt heat coming from it as we bounced along together down
fluorescent glow of softening snow. the trail. We chatted amongst ourselves to ward off the tension.
We slid down our own tracks, back through the silent forest. After Someone cracked a joke. I laughed.
a few minutes, we were level with the massive icicles that clung to As we reached the trailhead, the medical examiners assistant
the overhang of the waterfall. The avalanche had broken many of had us leave him on a brown tarp, set up in a small grove of trees. It
them loose, especially near the middle, and I could see the tips of was a hasty attempt at privacy for the family. The others meandered
some jutting out at strange angles from the ground below. A couple back to the parking lot, where they were dishing out hot soup, but
hundred feet downstream of the falls, between two boulder-sized I lingered for a moment. My eyes locked on the motionless bag; I
chunks of snow, I saw a dark hat bobbing up and down. We made it thought about why his hand had felt warm. After a few seconds, I
a quick trip back to the trail, where we turned left and began to pick shrugged mentally. After all, it was just another body, packaged and
our way across the uneven debris field that blanketed the riverbed. paid for. I never even saw his face, but as I turned towards the smell
Team 2 met us halfway, with the subjects body already bagged of tomato soup, I saw hers.
and strapped in the litter. That was fine by me. Its not about the She was worn and haggard, forty or fifty maybe, with blue eyes,

[42] [43]
a red nose, and dirty-blonde hair. She walked by me, and I like to
pretend that her eyes met mine, that she forced the edges of her
mouth up into a quick, scared smile.
I was in the soup line by the time she actually saw him. A soft wail
Trayvons Murder
crept out of the grove. It carried with it something that I can never Daniel Hodge
describe, something I can never do justice. Agony doesnt even come
close. The best I can do is to say that it wasnt the sound made by I.
someone who had lost somebodyit was the sound of someone who Dispatcher 1: Sanford Police Department, whats your emergency?
had lost themselves. Through the slit of trees, I watched her fall to
her knees. Zimmerman: Theres a real suspicious guy in my neighborhood, uh,
The ME said his neck had broken in the first few seconds, so this guy looks like hes up to no good, or hes on drugs or something.
he died quickly. There was no time spent in the dark, under the Its raining and hes just walking around looking about.
snow, knowing. He said there was no pain. I gave a half- assed,
Dispatcher 1: Ok, and this guys is he white, black, or Hispanic?
no-tooth smile along with everyone else; its the respectful way of
acknowledging such silver linings. The doc was wrong, though. Zimmerman: He looks black.
His mother hadnt moved. She was still kneeling next to her
son, holding his right hand in both of hers. It was the hand Id felt Dispatcher 1: Did you see what he was wearing?
bumping into mine, all the way down the mountain; I wondered if she
felt the warmth, too. The game was up. The pretending, the lieit Zimmerman: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a great hoodie, really creepy,
was gone. It was torn from me by warmth, and a soft, creeping wail. and either jeans or sweatpants, both creepy, and white tennis shoes,
There was a void, and into it the dead man whispered truth. The only especially creepy.
time I ever saw his face, he smiled at me. At least I like to pretend he
did. Dispatcher 1: Ok, hes just walking around the area?
He would linger in miserable minds and forgiving hearts. He
Zimmerman: Yeah, and looking at all the houses.
would wake up his friend, who watched him disappear under ice and
snow, to a warm bed with sweaty sheets. He would tell his mother
Dispatcher 1: Okay what if he lives there?
how sorry he was, how he shouldnt have gone, and how he knew
hed lost the least. There would be many others, and he would visit Zimmerman: Now hes just staring at me.
them often. To the stranger in the soup linehe would promise to
never let him forget.
We are not just of ourselves. I learned that over a bowl of tomato II.
soup, under a clear sky and blaring sun. For the first time, I didnt Dispatcher 2: Sanford Police Department, whats your emergency?
feel guilty when I took back my passport. I walked to my faithful
Subaru and dumped my pack in the trunk. As I shut the hatch, I Martin: There is a man following me. He has been trailing me for the
stared for a moment into the dark, reflective glass, at the mother last two blocks ever since I left the gas station. Im only trying to get
watching her son be loaded into the back of the MEs stretched car. home.
Jangling my keys, I strolled around to the drivers seat, pulled open
Dispatcher 2: Ok, and this guys is he white, black, or Hispanic?
the door, and sat down. I let my feet rest on the concrete, and took
a deep breath of cold air. My eyes welled up to the brink before I Martin: I cant tell, its dark out maam.
blinked them dry. Id go home now, and Id drive extra safebut not
for me.
[44] [45]
Martin: Yes, Im going to run maam, he keeps following me. I just
Dispatcher 2: Ok. Why did he begin to follow you? want to get home. My apartments are on the other side of the fence,
Im gonna run.
Martin: I dont know, my mom asked me to go get my sister skittles.
Dispatcher 2: Ok, stay calm, I have officers on the way.
Dispatcher 2: Ok, what is he wearing?

Martin: Maam, I cannot tell from this far. He is on the phone V.


whispering and breathing heavily. Shit. Hes coming towards me. Zimmerman: Shit, hes running! Down towards the other entrance to
the neighborhood. Im going to follow him.
Dispatcher 2: Its okay, stay calm.
Dispatcher 1: No sir, we dont need you to do that.
Martin: Im just gonna wait and check it out. My momma told me to
be careful if I ever run away. Zimmerman: These guys always get away.

III. VI.
Dispatcher 1: Hes near the clubhouse right now? *screams echo in the background*

Zimmerman: Yeah, now hes coming towards me. Hes got his hand in Neighbor: I hear screaming outside. I think hes yelling help.
his waistband. And hes a black male. That worrisome.
Dispatcher 3: So, you think hes yelling help?
Dispatcher 1: How old would you say he looks?
Neighbor: Yes.
Zimmerman: Late teens? Somethings wrong with him. Yup, hes
coming to check me out, hes got something in his hands, I dont Dispatcher 3: Alright what is your (a gunshot goes off)
know what his deal is.
Dispatcher 3: I dont hear him yelling anymore. Do you hear
Dispatcher 1: Ok, please stay calm sir. anything?

Zimmerman: No, these assholes always get away. Neighbor: No, I dont.

Dispatcher 1: These assholes?

Zimmerman: You know, these type of guys!

IV.
Martin: He wont say anything to me, he just keeps whispering and
walking towards me. Oh no, I can see the holster on his hip.

Dispatcher 2: Like a gun holster?

[46] [47]
how two bodies interlaced can still feel alone.
Trying to explain how you let in the cold.
Uprooting
Makayla Wamboldt
III.
2017 Michael and Gail Gurian Writing Awards Recipient
Remembering August in the perennial garden when I pack
Poetry, Runner-Up
a lunch of roasted fig salad and brie, with a dry Riesling

I. I hide because Im nineteen and trying hard to be romantic.


Your mouth like tangy apricots down my neck
I have a photograph of you smiling over orchids
in the Gaiser Conservatory. Your eyes are closed, as we loll among the chrysanthemums,
tangling bodies behind deep purple hydrangeas.
and even now, holding the photo, looking at you,
I know it must have smelled of hot Japanese summers. For months Ive forgotten your lips taste like sunshine
and blossoms that opened to late summer longings.
Among the tropical plants we are telling each other
stories with plucked petals, she loves me, she loves me,
IV.
she loves me. Your lungs fill with the flowers of fall
red laceleafbreathing beautiful refusals The spring before you left for good we sat among
the lilacs one last time when I found myself thinking
of becoming anything less than in love. Outside
the arboretum they are uprooting plants for winter, what a simple man you always wereyour pleasure in honest
conversation, philosophy, feeling the turn of the earth,
turning soil, saving seed to be sown in spring.
Still believing you were smiling because of me. tracing freckles on my knees. Now leaving me
breathing in lilacs, turning photographs in circles

II. as you board a plane to somewhere without seasons.


Petals still falling in the conservatory
All winter it hurt to look at you, trying to explain how
peonies survive the cold: cut back the foliage, mulch

the base with shredded bark once the ground freezes.


God, they are beautiful. And then snow shadows

like a dream subduing memories of light-stained walks


of last December around the pond, trying to explain

[48] [49]
this is also why you and Daddy decided to come here many years ago
before you had me. You both thought things were better here for
Galicias Fault young ones. You thought there was more of a future.
My class doesnt really like me. I think Margaret might, but thats
Mitch Gomes only because her mom gives me a ride home from school sometimes.
Besides that, I never really see her. Every time we have career day,
my parents never come. They always say its because they dont
2017 Michael and Gail Gurian Writing Awards Recipient
have the time to miss work, but I think it might just be because
Fiction, 1st place
theyre embarrassed. They both speak fluent English, but its broken
sometimes. People react a funny way when they talk, but I can
It was show-and-tell today at school. Instead of bringing the understand them clearly. Whats even weirder is that I dont have an
Rooster statue, the one thats in the kitchen all the time, I brought accent at all.
a small flag you bought at a village flea market near Grandma last After school, Margarets mom drops me off at the porch, and I
summer when you, me, and Daddy visited everyone back home. I find you in the kitchen. You hold your face in your palms and your
wanted a souvenir and thought it was the most beautiful red and hair is a mess. Its been a windy day, and even though you combed
greenest green Id ever seen, with a hard split down the middle that through my curly strands this morning, theyve become messy,
made it easy to know which country it belonged to. The man who too. I dont hear anything in the house, which is worse than if you
held it to my face had dry hands, long nails, and bulging veins from were sobbing. If you were making a noise, any noise at all, I might
his knuckles. Hair sprouted from his ears and nose and he yelled be able to sneak past. I might be able to hide creaks of steps behind
something at me in the language that I didnt understand. He then whimpers and make it to my room before you notice. I could drop my
tried to shove it into my hand while pulling me in with his. You held backpack, start my fractions homework, and even put another coat
my hand very tightly and stepped in to block him. His dark stubble of Dragon Red on my toenails. But theres only silence, and as the
and loud voice made him scary, but I told you I liked the flag, so you doors lock clicks, you look up at me.
bargained to pay five euros for it instead of fifteen because of how Your eyes look glassy. Your cheeks are a little shiny from tears
much he had frightened me. You also made him apologize, which I that fell moments ago and your nose is wet. Cardboard boxes cover
didnt understand when he did. When Daddy found us, he sure gave the granite countertops of the bar area and plastic bins with nothing
the man an earful, too. in them stack up to my waist on the far side of the room. The Rooster
Even memories have to be compromised sometimes, you told statue weve always had watches us from the windowsill, barring
me, holding the flag and chuckling. little to none of the natural light that floods everywhere except for
What does compromised mean? I said. where we are. The suns rays find a spot on the shimmering water
It means, every once in a while, you have to settle for some kind dispenser of the fridge, and for a moment, I squint my eyes to block
of agreement. Sometimes you have to settle because of something out the light.
you may have done wrong. Did you guys talk at all? I ask.
I once asked you why people like that man are so loud where Sofia, dont. You say, sniffling.
Grandmas from, why theyre so stern and stiff in the face. I know youre angry with Daddy. I know people who love each
Many of them live in some kind of past, Sofia. The past here other get angry sometimes, but his car is no longer in front of the
was a past of either exploring what was left to see of the world or house and you keep saying its the happiest youve been in a long
staying at home and hoping for your loved ones to return. Sailors time. On the way in, I saw one car parked out front instead of two,
left. Mothers cried. Brides would wait. That stays with some of us and I missed him even more.
over time, even as old as the country is. That stays in places like this You ask me about my day and I tell you nothing out of the
where there might not be a future for the young ones. ordinary. I wish youd answer my question, at least pretend like hes
In front of the class, I recited this back to them, telling them that still my dad even if you might not love him anymore. A nod and a

[50] [51]
stare tell me that youre eager to move on, but I dont want to say finishes the story with the judge acting confused. Daddy mimes this,
anything. I cant help you with this. too. Black magic? Witchcraft? A sign from God, himself? Itself? What does
Carminhos Alma album disc tray sits empty on the corner of the faith even mean? He exaggerates with his arms outstretched and looks
counter and I hear her singing through the speakers in the living up at the ceiling, eyes wide and mouth open. I always laugh.
room, the same speakers that play Mele Kalikimaka and Little Its a weird little story, which is why I like it so much. I think
Saint Nick around Christmas time, the same speakers that warmed Daddy assumes I know the message, something about being
the house then more they have in the past few days. Carminhos respectful to people you dont know and giving them what he calls
songs just make the house colder, it feels. the benefit of the doubt, but Ive never been sure. Seeing the statue
Shes your favorite artist, one of the few fado singers Ive heard in the kitchen just makes me want one in my room even more. I
played in this house. I never understood why because Carminho just wonder why the statue is covered in black and red feathers, hearts,
sounds like shes crying all the time, drawing out her notes with and flowers. Its on a dinner plate when it saves the innocent man.
her voice shaking a lot. Youve said before thats how a lot of fado Then I realize maybe a brown roasted chicken on a blue peg might
singers sound, that thats part of their style. I guess its only fitting not look as beautiful for home decor.
that Carminho now sings away your grief, or as much of it as she can. What makes you happy? you say, breaking my gaze. I still dont
I find myself looking at the Rooster again. Daddy told me about look at you.
the story of the Rooster. He said a long time ago, in a small town in Daddy, I say. You blink.
Europe called Barcelos, a landowner was looking for his lost silver. What else makes you happy?
Everyone was looking for the criminal who stole the silver. A man I dont know. I cant think of anything else right now.
visits town, a Spanish man from a place called Galicia, and its this Think about it. You really want to know?
beginning part that I started to fall asleep when Daddy first told it You make me happy, too, I say. I think you want to hear this,
as a bedtime story. Its legend, he always said, so its more important and thats why I say it. But a part of it is still true. You shrug off the
we know what happens. Knowing how it would be possible for it to pressing.
happen is another story. Its like parables and miracles in the Bible. We both still love you. Nothing about that has changed, sweetie.
The message is the most important. Thats not what Im worried about. You make us happy. What would
Anyway, the Spanish man says he is on a pilgrimage just passing you give everything for?
through town, trying to keep a promise, but the townspeople think Id give everything to know what happened: why he left, why you
he is suspicious. They arrest him and accuse him of stealing the wont say why he left.
silver. He is put to hang. The Spanish man asks to see the judge who What is this? I say.
decided this and when they meet, the judge is having dinner with Whats what?
some friends. The Spanish man points to a roasted rooster on the You once said we give everything for this. Whats this?
table and says, and Daddy always uses his booming voice for this Home. This is home. My home. His home. Your home.
part, It is as certain that I am innocent as it is certain that this Did he make it someone elses home? I say.
rooster will crow when they hang me. The judge doesnt eat the What do you mean?
rooster, but still orders the Spanish man to be put to death. Is that why youre mad at him?
The man is marched to the gallows and is about to be hanged. Im not mad at him, Sofia.
At this moment, the rooster, fully cooked and on a plate, stands up I look at the Rooster on the windowsill again, hoping if something
on the table and crows. The judge, having remembered the Spanish isnt true, if something you tell me is not real, it will crow.
mans warning, races to the gallows and is relieved to find the It doesnt.
knot poorly tied and the Spanish man still alive. The man is freed The only thing I can hear is Carminho on the speakers, still
immediately. sobbing about a poet she once loved and lost. Both you and Daddy
Daddy always finishes with a different ending. Sometimes the translated all the songs lyrics on the album for me, but I dont
judge gets there before the man is hanged. Sometimes the hanging remember them word for word, just what theyre about. Quick guitar
fails because of a faulty knot or weak tree branch. Daddy always strums surround the voice that carries them and over time, the

[52] [53]
melody builds to a strained belt, releasing whats been swelling like a Of course I love you, sweetie. Nothing.
shiny bubble popping and sprinkling little drips of soap everywhere. Is it your fault?
But the house is still empty and unkempt and there are still Sofia!
parts of it that I dont like to go in anymore. Music doesnt change The crowing starts again, louder than before. Does this mean
that. I think thats why people listen to music sometimes, especially youre innocent? Does this mean Daddy is?
music they dont understand the words to. A part of them thinks it Is it Daddys fault? The crowing does not stop, and keeps
will clear out everything, that maybe if someone sings about how getting louder and louder. Its dark out and your eyes are getting
theyre feeling, if someone understands them that way, the hurting glassy again, but if it were light outside, I think they might shine
wont be so bad. They want the lyrics to mean what they want them brighter than the water dispensers silver sheen did earlier. A tear
to mean. The pain becomes less intense because someone else knows hangs off your lash just as a car horn honks outside and I hear
it. Someone else shares it. Someone else takes a little bit of it away footsteps beyond the door. A key turning the lock clicks it open and
because of that. Daddy walks in.
Because youre in the same place as you were this morning, it Whats with all the yelling? I can hear you from the door, he
looks like you dont understand that. Maybe you do, but you dont says. He seems a bit shaken and theres some life in his voice, but not
want to. I think its been playing all day, but youre not sharing any much, especially when he sees you. Youre frozen in place and just as
pain at all. Youre trying to hide it and pretending everythings okay. the dangling droplet falls, another starts to form in your other eye.
The house is empty and the voice echoes throughout. Suddenly, I Emilio, not now, you say. You have the same stare you gave
hear it. the village flea market man when you bought that flag for me: the
The squawking is guttural and shaky but high-pitched and short. protective stare.
All I can think of is the poor thing choking and screaming. I cant I need the rest of my things, Alda. I cant buy everything again,
imagine anyone finding it pleasing to wake up to a noise like this, but Daddy says. He goes upstairs and theres a shuffling about with
then I remember that this needs to happen for people who dont have zipping and crumpling noises. I thought everything in the house
alarm clocks. The Rooster startles me, and I try to see if I can catch it would be gone. You havent moved and youre still looking at the
moving, but I dont. I only hear it. Once I look at the statue, I see that door.
its still. You act as if you didnt hear it. He comes back downstairs, empty-handed. Wheres the flag? he
The Rooster on the windowsill, I say. says.
What are you talking about? Youre not taking it. Its Sofias, you say. Your voice starts to
It just crowed. You give me a look Ive never seen before. Its scare me.
not really a scowl, but a little more than a resting face. Youre right. It is hers. Come on, Sofia. I reach into my bag and
Sofia bring out the flag, rumpled and still as vibrantly red and green as the
What was the last thing you said? Im not mad at him. I ask you day you bought it. I dont give it to him.
again. Is this your fault, Daddy? I say, shaking the flag at him. He says
What did I just say? I can tell youre a bit irritated, but I need to nothing for a moment, but the crowing starts again. Its quiet at first,
see if a yes or a no will do the trick. but slowly gets a little louder. Is someone else in another home,
Do you love Daddy? waiting for you? Did you make another home?
I cant anymore, sweetie. Lets go, baby girl, he says, the Roosters crow still growing
The Rooster starts to crow. loud. This must mean hes innocent, I figure, that maybe Moms
But do you still love him right now? wrong about him. But shes innocent, too. I know shes mad, but I still
Ill always love your father. dont know why.
Nothing. Why did the Rooster crow again? Because the Spanish Im not going until I know why! I shout. The crowing stops
man told the truth? Because the judges accusation was not true? suddenly and I wait for them to respond.
Who was the Rooster following? Whose words brought it to life? Whats going on? Daddy says.
You love me? I say. The Rooster is crowing. The Rooster knows who is innocent and

[54] [55]
who is guilty. I can hear it! Whose fault is it? Neither responds.
Whose fault is it that Daddy is leaving? Again, no response.
Is it mine? Again, no response. The flag droops in my hand and I
release it. Its light weight drags it slowly to the dark wooden floor.
A Song of Accents
Jack Kiesewetter

[56] [57]
Human City of Dreams
Zack Rosse Katherine Sumantri

2017 Michael and Gail Gurian Writing Awards Recipient


Poetry, 1st place

I wore a tree as a hat today. I hoped to blend in behind the sound


of others. Leaves fell and covered my face. I forgot to pick the
lemons out of my eyes. I woke up in the night dreaming you were
by my side. It was a squirrel nesting in my spleen. I lied to you.
Roots fill the attic. I dream in juniper. I should build a new brain in
the body next door. I can see it in your eyes. You want me to be
something human.

[58] [59]
remembered that she liked the color bright pink to wear in Dillards
pant suits; the way earrings looked in her drooping ears; the red
Zakar lipstick that was pitifully and unevenly drawn on quiet and confused
lips.
Lindsey Hand
I remember my young self looking at her and wondering how this
same person ran through fields to deliver soap to soldiers during
2017 Michael and Gail Gurian Writing Awards Recipient the war (what war was it anyway? Ive never been great at history),
Nonfiction, Runner-Up how scarcity and danger seemed foreign to this woman who lived in
luxury as she was dying.
Zakar To remember THREE
I borrowed words from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies Half of a Yellow Sun.
We must not see any person as an abstraction.Instead, we My own words felt like thieves and imposters of the sacred.
must see in every person a universe with its own secrets,
with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish,and The Book: The World Was Silent When We DiedFor the epilogue, he
with some measure of triumph. writes a poem, modeled after one of Okeomas poems. He calls it:
Elie Wiesel, The Nazi Doctor and the Nuremberg Code
WERE YOU SILENT WHEN WE DIED?
ONE Did you see photos in sixty-eight
I opened NPR as I do most mornings to skim headlines. One catches Of children with their hair becoming rust:
my eye. Sickly patches nestled on those small heads,
Bombing in Nigeria. Association with Boko Haram. Muslim jihad extremist. Then falling off, like rotten leaves on dust?
Following Al- Quaida. Igbo people. Christians. Evacuations. Imagine children with arms like toothpicks,
My mind instantaneously recalls old and new associations. With footballs for bellies and skin stretched thin.
It was kwashiorkordifficult word,
Biafran-Nigerian War. 1967-1970. One million dead. Starvation. Kwashiorkor. A word that was not quite ugly enough, a sin.
Muslim Nigerians killing Igbo Nigerians.
You neednt imagine. There were photos
256 school girls stolen by Boko Haram. #BringOurGirlsBack Displayed in gloss-filled pages of your Life.
Did you see? Did you feel sorry briefly,
As if Twitter or Facebook could save the world. As if a post would Then turn round to hold your lover or wife?
distinguish us as people who cared, people who tried. As if passive
awareness ever solved anything. Their skin had turned the tawny of weak tea
And showed cobwebs of vein and brittle bone:
Fifty years since the war in Nigeria, but I still read about blood, Naked children laughing, as if the man
bombings, and starvation; about loss of life and loss of voice; about Would not take photos and then leave, alone.
humans we have chosen to forget to see.
FOUR
TWO My grandparents always fight when the time comes to drive us to the
I held the aged and frail hand of a bony woman. We called her little airport in the intricate anthill airport of LAX. I wonder if God looks at
great grandma to her face and a diva to her back. At 95, when she had us in big cities the way we look at ants: fixated individuals swerving
forgotten the names of her family and the script of her past, she still and moving to do their job, heads down; intricate yet numbing. My

[60] [61]
grandpa insists the drive from Northridge to LAX will take 60-90 maybe we simply are not seeing enough to know that we need to be
minutes on I-405, assuming no accidents occur on the 6-lane-in- crying.
one-direction highway. My grandma says it will be 45 minutes. She
is right. We pull into the first floor of a three- or four-story parking SEVEN
garageI cant quite rememberto kill the extra time of an early My mother left Judaism the day she left for college. Out of rebellion,
arrival a few minutes away from the hectic anthill of the airport. frustration, apathy, or novelty, I do not know. Judaism was the story
that encircled my moms world growing up, but it was not a story she
Mom, I meant to ask you... My mother asks my grandma a question. wanted for herself or a story that she had much intention of sharing
One of the girls had asked about great grandma, and I didnt know. with her kids.A story can only be known when it is voiced. She gave
that story nearly no voice for me. I no longer know how to claim it
In the mostly empty parking lot my grandma tells us again about even with vain efforts of taking classes and reading books.
her mom and my grandfathers mom leaving Eastern Europe during
World War Two: how she left, when she left, who never made it out EIGHT
with her, how she got here, when this place became her home. This The first time is the most painful. I know whenever I go to the
time my grandma leaves out the part about the soapthe odd fact Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles with one of the more famous
that floats with little context. To whom did she sell? Did she give? Holocaust exhibits on the West that the remainder of the day will
Why the youngest daughter? Was it dangerous? Was she scared? be characterized by heaviness and silenceloss of words. Are there
words big enough for that?
I tell myself to write it down so I wont forget. Pieces were already
slipping away like dropping leaves in the river. I drop it knowing its Halfway through the exhibit, two nearly identical stone tunnels stood
ridged edges are out of reach the moment I let it slip from my hand in poor lighting, the only difference being the sign above the arches
as it drifts to the rushing waters surface. My grandparents were the were different: able-bodied men and women and children.
children of the eyewitness accounts of these stories. Their minds
arent resistant to the softening and hazy-ing of aging. This was the first time I felt Jewish.

I didnt write it down. I know it well enough from 22 years of repetition: indistinct
mumblings that slip off my tongue when Im singing a blessing
FIVE over the wine, bread, and candles during Shabbat dinner with my
This morning I cried. Cried and read. Read and cried. grandparents or extended family. It never meant much to me, never
made me feel like I was part of something, never felt like mine to
I cried at the first picture that comes up when you look up claim. I didnt want to claim it for a long time, and then when I
kwashiorkor online. I cried at the child whose arms were no thicker finally did, it felt too late.
than two of my fingers and whose stomach was inflated to twice the
size of his or her headthe gender of the child indistinguishable After the Holocaust exhibit ends, we move into a hallway-like room
from the contortions that claim a starving body. with screens for walls. News articles and bright red CNN headlines
in bold flash everywhere. Darfur, Rwanda, genocides, persecution,
I cried because this is what BabyOdenigbos daughter from Half of a mass killings, suicide bombers, political upheaval, Syrian refugee
Yellow Sunlooked like. I knew her, spent 500 pages with them, went camps. How little I knew about what was actually going on. What did
to civil war with them, and cried and cried and cried. I actually know about Darfur? The chaos is overwhelming. Soberly
in black and whitethe only simple part of the rooma sign reads:
SIX
Will we let it happen again?
I used to feel secret pride and toughness when I said I never cried.
Years have softened me, this last year more than the rest. Now I take
pride in saying I am soft and strong, moved to tears when the world
demands that kind of emotion. I do not believe we cry enough, or

[62] [63]
NINE a civil war like Nigeria or that we will begin the ruthless killing of
My brother spit into a tube, paid $100, and had ancestry.com tell him a whole ethnic and religious group like the Nazis. I would never
what he was. 45% European Jewish. reduce the stories, struggles, and unique experiences of others to
the U.S. right now. But I cant help noticing trends of divisiveness,
My grandparents would tell me and my siblings growing up that corruption, mistrust, exploitation, and dehumanization.
whether we liked it or not, we are Jewish because my mother is
Jewish. Its funny to me that Jewish was the ethnicity assigned to How can I not think about my soon to be students in central
nearly half of my DNA when the rest of my DNA was neatly labeled Washington, 97% of whom are Hispanic, a handful undocumented?
German, Russian, Irish. How can I tell the bright 2nd grader with tears in her eyes that
she will be okay?How can I not think about my own brother with
Why was it European Jewish rather than the European country in Down Syndrome and the battle my mom fought to get him the best
which my Jewish ancestors lived? Thats where my Jewish family education in a system that deemed him less able and worthy of
originated from anyways. How did my blood know? investment? What about the kids with special needs that dont have a
fiery mother like mine that advocated for Cody?
TEN
I opened my computer and revisited this page. Only a day has passed, How can I not think about the refugee who has lived in exile
and I no longer feel. I dig deeply inside myself and want to recreate homeless, uprooted, unwanted for years that only hopes for the
the anger, rage, devastation, passion I felt yesterday. One. Damn. same human desires I have: safety, love, life, a chance?How can I not
Day.Is that all it takes to forget? think about the new fight of the LGBTQ couples that have already
spent years fighting to love and be lovedthe heartbeat of being
ELEVEN
humanin a world that is bitterly against them?
His name is Richarda foreigner from Britain who fell in love with an
Igbo woman while studying Igbo-Ukwu art in Nigeria. He writes about How can I not think about the women whose bodies have been
Biafra and their struggle for independence during a devastating civil desecrated by greedy men who feel entitled to another humans
war. His title would be The World Was Silent When We Died. She body?How can I not think about my Jewish family who left their
laughed and asked, We? It was not his story to tell.How can the favorite couch, their home, their lives to flee the atrocities of the
dead tell their story? Holocausta time when they were so othered they ceased being
viewed as human?
How can the living remember how to speakrather is it courage, not
memory? How do we tell a story that is not fully ours to tell?Should I hold some of these identities and can only imagine others.
we even try?
THIRTEEN
TWELVE Chielozona EzeSurvival KitOne of few who found a voice to speak for all
I joked that I was out of commission on Monday and Tuesday those who could never speak.
of this week, but even my jokes felt heavy. I felt stupid because
everyone else was still functioningwhy couldnt I? I felt It is love that made me speak for you.
oversensitivea painful word that has been hurled at my feelings Forgive me if, in reading you,
in the past. I felt like a fraudwith all my privilege, how could I feel I thunder rather than whisper.
fear when so many people will face the consequences more directly
and painfully than me? The ones who knew the injustice were hiding This is not a protest, dear.
in fear, hoping to make it out alive. I remember you
to keep myself alive.
It felt like throwing a funeral for someone who was not quite dead
yet. I wore all black Thursday and called it my funeral outfit. I would
never dare to go as far as to say that our country is headed towards

[64] [65]
FOURTEEN
Inside my head lives a worldit is beautiful and painful and full.
I have kept that world hidden more often than not. Ive deprived
my world of a voice from the trauma, from the fear, from the
Morning Coffee at 7,800 ft
powerlessness, from the shame. This is my quivering attempt to Brooke Smith
speak, to name, to voice.So here is my small voice from a big world
that is striving and hoping and crying to be heard. Can this one world
being heard open the door for a million more worlds to live?

[66] [67]
That was three years ago, and Evelyn was now facing an unexpected
repercussion of her solution, an example of which was playing out in
The Big Dance front of her eyes at that very moment.
She had been spending her free period between water aerobics
Alexa Rehm and History of the American Midwest in the game room, when Jack
and his goonies came swaggering in, their canes rapping on the floor.
They stopped next to Norville, who was sitting in the corner with Ned,
2017 Michael and Gail Gurian Writing Awards Recipient
playing a game of chess. Jack smacked his cane across the chess set,
Fiction, 1st place
scattering the little pieces everywhere and causing Norville, who was
wearing his favorite checkered sweater vest, to shrink violently away.
Evelyn Rothschild had a problem. Ned tried to catch a falling knight before it hit the ground, and lost his
But that was okay. Problems didnt scare her. In fact, she made it spectacles in the process.
her business to solve problems, even when they werent hers. But this Jack stooped and picked up the knight, leaning heavily on his cane
problem had occurred as a direct result of a previous problem she had to pull himself back up. He smirked, and threw the piece back on the
solved at Sunny Hills Senior Center, and thus it was indisputably her table. Chess, he scoffed. Why dont you nerds learn to play a real
responsibility. game.
Before Evelyn was moved into the Center, its residents were Oh, and I suppose you mean bingo? Ned polished his glasses on
lethargic at best. Placed there by family members who were too distant his shirt. Bingo doesnt take intelligence.
or too busy to care for them, they had given up on the pursuit of life. Whatever, nerd, Jack was already hobbling away, satisfied that he
They shuffled from breakfast to the folding chairs placed before the had inflicted suitable damage to the chess game.
ancient insect of a TV, where they would remain, sleeping through the Evelyn was troubled. This was just the most recent of many similar
various stimulating material covered on the weather channel, until the scenes she had witnessed. Jack and the jocks picked on Norville, Ned,
next meal roused them. and the nerds. The pretty girls taunted poor pimpled Polly, who played
Evelyn arrived at Sunny Hills Senior Center, placed there by the clarinet. The artsy elderly considered themselves a higher caliber
her faraway daughter in faraway Seattle, during the middle of an than the rest.
especially hot summer, when the oppressive heat of the season This was a problem, and Evelyn was determined to fix it. She
meant that even the occasional visits by volunteers who walked the couldnt stand when all the members of the home werent getting
residents around the grounds was halted. Thus, they had slipped into along. Even when her own children had bickered, she had concocted
an uninterrupted stupor, as devoid of movement as the stifling Iowa methods to end the squabbling and restore amity. She wanted
cornfields around them. everyone to be tight-knit and unshakeable together. She wanted them
Evelyn could not abide by this torpid lifestyle. Just because her to be a family.
family had discarded her in a rural nursing home, she most certainly The word caused a flash of pain in Evelyns chest, and her hand
did not plan on giving up the diverse pursuits and hobbies which she hovered over her left breast pocket, where she knew shed find a
had strategically color-coded in her daily planner. After obtaining heavily creased and aged photo of herself with her two children, a long
permission from the director, Evelyn instituted a series of planned time ago, back when they still called the small Iowan town of Mabel
daily activities. Her pride and joy, however, was the creation of the home. Back before they left her, just like their father before them.
Committees. Back before she was alone.
Slowly but surely, the residents came alive. They became involved On that particular day, her son and daughter had participated in
in her committees, from Gardening the Golden Years to Seniors for their elementary schools talent show in an act together. Chris had
Social Justice, Cooking with Cataracts to Geriatric Geology. Her daily been a magician, dressed in a top hat and purple cape, and Lindsey was
activities were viewed so positively that the director made them his magicians assistant, sporting a sparkly sequin vest of an equally
mandatory and hired individuals to come into the Center and teach eggplant shade. After the show ended, Evelyn had taken her children
them, dividing them by a series of bells. And the great insect of a TV to get ice cream at Marigolds Olde Fashioned Shoppe, the only ice
was left abandoned, the folding chairs against the wall.
[68] [69]
cream parlor in Mabel. She asked the lady sitting at the table next to What exactly would this dance look like?
them to take a picture. The three of them had bent their heads close Good question, Penny, thank you. I was actually hoping that all of
together to fit in the frame, laughing at the creamy chocolate staining you would help me to plan it.
their cheeks into smiles. It had been the first time all three of them This caused quite a stir of whispering and hearing aid adjusting and
had laughed since her husband had left, and Evelyn thought that it more whispering.
meant that her family was back for good. I would like everyones input, Evelyn continued, as I want this to
Evelyn decided to increase her daily number of trips to the front be an event that we all love. Please begin thinking through what youd
desk to ask the receptionist if she had any messages from Seattle or like this dance to look like, and come to me with any ideas, questions,
Denver from two to three. She thought about her kids as she waited for or concerns. I have set up a table in the corner of the bingo room for
the receptionist to hunt through the stacks of papers on the desk. this purpose.
Chris had wanted to go mountain climbing. That had been his Evelyn banged a gavel that hung attached to the podium by a
reason for leaving Iowa. string, signifying the end of the meeting. She stepped down from
Mom, he had said. There are no mountains within a hundred the stage, and immediately a stampede of tennis ball tipped walkers
miles of here. Some of the best fourteeners in the nation are a couple followed her on her way to the table. The residents crowded around
hour drive west of Denver. Ricky and I are going to head out there and Evelyn, their eyes bright and interested, murmuring together as she
get an apartment, see if we can shoot some cool videos. took her seat. She motioned for the first resident to speak.
Evelyns daughter had followed a prestigious marketing job to I think that the men should ask all the women to the dance!
Seattle, and tended to check in more often than her brother. But the pretty girl Penny said.
receptionist shook her head; there had been no calls for Evelyn today. Honey, I think we should ride in limos and wear beautiful dresses,
Rather than letting herself mope, Evelyn took to her room and sat Southern Sue added.
down to devise a plan to unite the members of the Sunny Hills Senior Can we have a rock band come play? someone suggested.
Center. There was no sound in the room besides her scratching at the Or a classical pianist? Thats more sophisticated.
yellow-lined legal paper and punching out equations on the calculator, Who wants to dance to a piano? We need some Rolling Stones!
and the darkness beyond the light of her desk lamp hulked over her No, how about a big brass band!
shoulder. Finding the silence and emptiness oppressive, she carted An Elvis impersonator!
her supplies to the hubbub of the music room and continued her work Evelyn got out her notebook and began taking notes and mediating
there. arguments. It would be a long evening, but she reveled in the
That evening, Evelyn called a meeting of the residents of Sunny distraction from her disappointing lack of messages.
Hills Senior Center. They filtered into the bingo room at 7:00 pm, the After a week, the dance began to take definitive shape, and Evelyn
jocks sitting with the pretty girls and separate from the nerds, who sat started making calls and placing orders from her makeshift office in
near the musicians, who were clearly separated from the artists. The the bingo room. She made a list of all of the women in the nursing
result looked like a Lite-Brite, empty black chairs darkening the space home, including herself, and devised charming ways to ask each of
between brightly-colored pegs. them to the dance. She asked Jack for a couple of baseball hats, and
Attention, fellow residents, Evelyn began, stepping up to the placed all of the names in one hat, and the suggestions in another.
podium and adjusting her notes in front of her. I have called you all Then she lined the male residents up, and each drew from both hats.
here tonight because I have a proposal. I have been going over our In the next few days, the men commenced asking in their ladies.
community recreation budget, and with the excess funds, I propose the Jacks jock friend Benny baked a cake and wrote Will you go to the
creation of an event. I wish to hold a dance, set for two Fridays from dance with me? across the top, giving it to Southern Sue. Pretty girl
now. I now open the floor to questions. Penny was given a bedazzled cane from Jack, which he presented to
The audience began to whisper amongst themselves. Finding they her on one knee with his request. Even poor pimpled Polly received a
couldnt hear each other, they turned up their hearing aids with homemade sign from Norville.
audible shrieks, and tried again. Finally, pretty girl Penny stood up In spite of herself, Evelyn felt excited to see which of the men
from her chair, her perfectly permed hair staying resolute against the would ask her, and in which of the ways she had invented. As the
breeze of the air conditioner.
[70] [71]
women around her were asked one by one, and the excitement in Opal and Randolph looked deep in thought as they considered this
the air increased until it could almost be measured like electricity in idea. Then, they gravely nodded their heads. Opal handed the phone
the airwaves, she began to look forward to the dance. Even though back to the attendant.
she knew that its ultimate purpose was to bring the residents closer Wonderful! Lets talk refreshments. Sue, I think you had a
together, Evelyn couldnt help but hope that the dance would diffuse a suggestion for punch
little of the loneliness she felt inside herself when she returned to her Absolutely not! Were adults, well drink champagne! Opal was
dark room at the end of each evening. She hoped it would fill a small back on the rampage, and the arguing started afresh.
part of the hole deep inside the space beneath her left breast pocket Evelyn, however, was smiling. She couldnt help but notice that
that had stretched wider each time someone had left her. Evelyn shook as they argued over punch and champagne, pretzels and caviar, they
her head and drove these dark feelings from her mind and heart before stopped arguing about each other.
they could settle there, and checked her planner to see what trivial Three days before the dance, and still none of the men had asked
task could occupy those organs instead. Evelyn to go with them. She made a mental list of those who had
On the Saturday before the dance, Evelyn assembled a list of already asked someone, and verified this list in her planners to-
supplies shed need to decorate the bingo room for the big night. do section. Both Len and Charles had yet to secure their dates, and
As with most decisions related to the dance, the choice of theme Evelyn made a note to check with them and see what the hold-up was.
was heavily debated. The artsy elderly, led by Opal the painter and Suddenly, however, her pen faltered and she felt uncharacteristically
Randolph the potter, argued most strongly for an abstract theme based shy. She didnt want to badger a date out of someone, to go after them
on Picassos Les demoiselles davignon, while Jack, Benny, Sue, and Penny with her planner and her gavel. She scribbled over the note until it was
advocated a typical Under the Sea motif. unintelligible.
Les demoiselles davignon is a poignant look at the precarious Evelyn started to have an unpleasant feeling when she thought
situation of women in society, Opal waved her hands at a nursing about the dance. She pictured herself standing alone that night,
attendants cell phone, which she had commandeered after ordering surrounded by happy, swaying couples, while she held nothing but her
its owner to find a picture of the painting online. papers and lists. The thought tore at her innards, throbbed at the hole
Yeah, that does sound like it would be fun to decorate for, Penny in her chest that expanded each time she felt her isolation.
said. Evelyn threw herself even more into the planning of the dance. She
Not everything is supposed to be fun. Some things have a higher hung streamers and blew up balloons. She helped Polly choose a dress.
purpose, Opal said, peering down her nose at Penny. She vetoed Jacks idea for an after-party poker tournament, as he
Instead of wearing dresses, the ladies could dress up like wanted to use real money instead of their usual bet of Splenda packets.
prostitutes, like the subjects of the painting. Sort of a go a mile in Charles asked his date to the dance with a little handmade card. And
their shoes scenario, Randolph said. still no one approached Evelyn, sign in hand and question at lips.
Im not sure thats appropriate, the nursing attendant chimed in, The day of the dance dawned peach and rose above the cornfields
looking a little frazzled. and bricks of Sunny Hills. The bingo room had been transformed into
Under the Sea is fun for everyone, plus its cost effective. It would an underwater extravaganza that Picasso would have been proud of.
be much easier to find decorations for that theme than for an abstract The live rock band was set to arrive, as was an Elvis impersonator. An
prostitute theme, Penny said. empty punch bowl waited on a table in the back, next to a spread of
Penny darling, you make a good point, Sue said. But maybe we paper plates for caviar on little pieces of baguette.
could take yalls idea and put it somewhere? Maybe we can print out Evelyn woke in her solitary room when the sun pierced its way
a couple of those Picasso paintings off that device and put them up on through her so-called blackout blinds. She rose and dressed in a robe,
the walls. shuffling out to the front desk for her morning message check.
And Picasso had a lot of cool quotes, we can write them on the Here, this is for you, the receptionist said, handing over a neon
back of the tickets to get into the dance, Penny said. pink sticky note on which a voicemail message had been transcribed.
What Im hearing here is that we want to do a sort of combined, Evelyn felt excitement bubble up in her chest, and grabbed eagerly
Picasso Under the Sea, theme? Evelyn asked the group seated around at the note. She quickly devoured the words:
her.
[72] [73]
Hey Mom, its Lindsey. I cant come out to visit for your birthday next walkers, canes, and all, into their leather back seats. This proved to
month anymore. Somethings come up at work. Ill give you a phone call that be a more complicated process that the limo drivers were accustomed
week and say hi. to, as the residents were dressed up in frilly long dresses and tuxedos,
Evelyns excitement melted away into a bitter pang of which impaired their already challenged movement. Pennys hair was
disappointment. She had already started planning for Lindseys visit. so permed on this evening that Evelyn feared it wouldnt make it in the
She had a binder of ideas: a new Italian restaurant they could try, a limo at all. Pulling into the nearest Dennys for the Early Bird Special
botanical garden to visit. Evelyn folded the note in half and trudged at 4:30 pm, the elderly feasted on country-fried steak and sugar-free
back to her room to get dressed for the day, passing no one in the apple pie, Sues choice, before returning for admittance into the big
silent halls. event.
The rest of the day, Evelyn kept her hands and mind busy, striving Passing under a balloon arch in sea tones of blue and green, the
to appear unruffled in front of the other residents. She helped residents found themselves in a radically transformed bingo room,
the women do their makeup, while Penny handled their hair with resplendent in all the Picasso-approved ocean decor that Party City
hazardous amounts of hairspray. She made sure the men were dressed had to offer. The Centers chef filled the punch bowl with a bright red
in their suits and tuxedos, and had a bouquet of flowers to present to and heavily fruit-scented liquid. The Elvis impersonator took the stage
their dates. with the rock band, and struck up Honky Tonk Women as never
As Evelyn handed out the flowers, her eyes scanned over the row of heard before. The residents tottered out to the dance floor, the various
men, looking for Len. He was a quiet man who kept to himself and was couples holding hands as they shuffled back and forth and shook their
new to the Center, but he was missing from the lineup. After the men canes in the air.
had left to join their dates, she called a nursing attendant over to ask Evelyn made her way to the back of the room and sat in a chair
where he was. next to the punch bowl. Her chest felt especially tight tonight, and she
Len? Lens family is in town this weekend. He went out for the day tapped her fingers nervously on her legs. All she could smell was the
with them. excessively sugary fruit aroma of the punch, and that scent jogged a
Evelyn thanked the attendant, nodding her head too many times memory in her mind.
as she did so. She went into the abandoned game room and closed the Suddenly, Evelyn was not at Sunny Hills Senior Center. She was at
door, leaning up against it and trying not to let her disappointment her high school prom, looking for her date. He had vanished twenty
crush her. She was happy Lens family bothered to visit him, she minutes before, and she anxiously scanned the swaying bodies for his
decided. However, she couldnt help but to feel a painful resonance form. Thinking he might be by the food, Evelyn had made her way
with the idea of attending the Sunny Hills dance alone. to the punch bowl, only to have a drunk senior crash into the table,
Alone. This word seemed to follow her around like a bad smell, upending the red juice all over her prom dress. The air conditioning
chasing others off. What was it about her that pushed people away, made her dripping clothes chilly, despite the heat from all the people
that made them leave? in the room. A boy next to her offered his suit jacket to his date, who
Stop. Evelyn forced her rising hysteria down before it broke had gotten three drops on her sleeve. Evelyn had shivered on jacket-
through the walls that she had constructed around her heart when her less, searching unsuccessfully for her own date.
husband left, and reinforced as her family drifted away from her. The She had called her parents to pick her up from the prom early when
walls were feeling precariously shaky to Evelyn today. it became clear that her date was gone. Her shoulders and arms stuck
She adjusted her dress, smoothing out any wrinkles in her to the leather seats of her mothers car when she slid in. The smell of
appearance before departing from the game room. It wasnt Lens fault punch stayed on her dress and in her nose even after the liquid had
that his family had decided to visit on this particular Friday, Evelyn dried the organza to a stiff crinkle, permeating the empty back seat of
reminded herself. Maybe he should have told her he wasnt going to be the car where Evelyn sat.
able to make it, sure, but no one would ever catch Evelyn Rothschild, The smell was too strong tonight. She wanted her daughter, she
of all people, faulting a man for being with his family. wanted her son. Evelyn made her way to the corded phone in the
Two ebony limos pulled into the asphalt parking lot of Sunny Hills hallway outside the bingo room and called both, but neither answered.
Senior Center, and Evelyn assisted her fellow residents to scramble Resuming her post by the punch bowl, Evelyn let the scent of

[74] [75]
being alone enter her nose and settle there. Perhaps thats what she splitting her lips into a small smile. The attendant snapped a photo on
was always destined to be. Perhaps she should stop planning, stop her cell phone, and with an obnoxiously loud click, the moment was
organizing, stop running committee after committee, and just sit and captured.
let the smell overtake her. The residents crowded around the punch bowl, chattering as they
Somebody sat next to her, jolting her out of her reverie. It was helped themselves to the beverage.
Penny, and she had her arm around Polly and was telling her in Want some punch, Evelyn? someone asked.
hushed, giggling tones, how good Jacks winning bingo-raising arm Evelyn accepted, and took a sip of the sickeningly sugary-smelling
looked tonight. drink. It tasted a lot sweeter than she had expected it to, and someone
Hes got such nice muscles, she gushed. had spiked it with champagne. The bubbles tickled her chest as they
Sue ladled some of the punch into her cup, and settled in a chair on went down. She tipped the cup back, and let it all in.
the other side of Evelyn. Youre crazy, Penny. Hes a flabby old coot,
just like the rest of us. Aint that right, Evelyn? she slapped Evelyns
shoulder and let out a hoot of a laugh.
Evelyn followed their eyes out to where Jack and Benny were
dancing with Ned and Norville. Norville had insisted on wearing his
sweater vest under his suit jacket, and the checkered pattern peeked
through. The four men smiled and waved when they saw her looking.
Neds waving was so emphatic that his glasses fell off his nose. Jack
caught them, and handed them back to Ned, chuckling.
The sight released some of the pressure on Evelyns heart. She took
a breath, and it wasnt toxically fruity. Her watch beeped on her wrist,
and an attendant appeared at her side.
Its time to take your medicine, Ms. Rothschild, she said, handing
over a small white pill and a plastic cup of water. Evelyn swallowed
it down and handed the empty cup back. The attendant continued to
hover at her shoulder. Im sorry, but do you mind if I grab a picture of
you? This is just such a cool thing that youve done, I was thinking that
the paper might be interested. Her cheeks reddened.
Yeah, get a picture of our dance Queen! Penny cheered.
Evelyns cheeks were now turning pink as well. I didnt do this
alone, you all helped me plan it, she said. You should be in the
picture too.
I dont know if we were more of a help or a hindrance most of the
time, Sue said. But whether you like it or not, youve got yourself a
cantankerous pack of doddering seniles at your back, and we can plan
a party like none other.
Sue slung her arm across Evelyns shoulder, and Penny linked
their elbows and pulled Polly in as well. Jack, Benny, Norville, and
Ned crowded around the back, and the rest of the residents packed
themselves into the shot with a lot of laughing and stumbling and
hearing aid squealing, and at least one runaway walker. Evelyn now
began to feel an entirely different sort of pressure in the space beneath
her left breast pocket, and that pressure made its way to her mouth,

[76] [77]
A Nice Story
Janine Warrington

2017 Michael and Gail Gurian Writing Awards Recipient


Fiction, 1st place

[78] [79]
[80] [81]
[82] [83]
[84] [85]
[86] [87]
[88] [89]
Narrative Approach to
Whitmans Song of Myself
Evan Olson

2017 Michael and Gail Gurian Writing Awards Recipient


Nonfiction, 1st place

Im sitting in Foley Library at one of the study cubicles. The


cubicle is a light oak, the counter gray, and it is placed next to a floor
to ceiling window with red trim. It is now turning 5 p.m. and the
spring sun has poured over the desk in large slanted squares of light.
Outside the window, students are lounging on blankets on the grass
with their backpacks beside them and laptops open on their Spring
dresses and shorts, are sitting by trees with ice-cold brown drinks,
are tossing Frisbees, are throwing baseballs into their leather mitts,
and are playing volleyball at the net with their shirts torn off and
wintered skin catching the sun. I sit here with a few others, a sort
of camaraderie forming without any of us knowing. Our sniffles and
coughs, the squeaks of our chairsthose are our silent affirmations
of yes, were in this together, we know the sun is great and warm but
theres better things to be done indoors at the desks, our notebooks
open.
Ginsberg would have slapped me. He the brown jacket shouldering,
beard toting, peyote smoking beat poet who could have used a shower
and let off the banjos a bit with his friend Kerouac, he the visionary
poet of Howl would have howled at me because this sitting is
unconducive to me finding meaning as a twenty-first century college
student in Spokane, Washington. I think that he would do that, but
how would I know? It is not my place to say what he would have
thought or done. But, then again, I think it.
Get up, Ginsberg says. Hes next to my desk, looming in that ugly
brown jacket. He tells me to leave the place, leave everything, head
outdoors. Thats the kind of man I think he is when I visualize his
dark apartment, the typewriter, the glasses, the beard, and the peyote
(which somehow appears to me as a wooden flute on the edge of his
bed). For weeks, I have been meaning to buy a Frisbee, the 175-gram
kind, the good kind of Frisbee that flies straight and fast, but for weeks
I had put off the purchase because it was not why I was here, why I
am sitting at this desk. Would Ginsberg lift me at the shoulders like
an injured dog and put me at a porch stoop and gently press my palm

[90] [91]
to the taught leather of a banjo and put a cigarette to my mouth? No, of Goller Hall, my hands holding the book. After having displaced
of course not. Or do I know, or what do I know, of him, of how much someones forgotten load of laundry from a washer, I noticed not far
I think I know I know him from the three articles, the poem Howl, off the book shelf by the windows in the study room. The tan books
his voice on the tape, and the photos contained inside a jazz CD guide were aligned perfectly, glinting in the sunlight. They looked fake,
bought second-hand from a defunct music shop? I dont know, I know plastic or as if a cardboard sheet with a picture of books printed on it
I dont, but, what I have learned, and what I can say I do know, is that had been shoved into the shelf. I had gone over to the shelf and pulled
there is an art to knowing its acting, its asserting from the minor out a book because, I had thought, of the way the light had hit them.
clump of material one has read that a significantly larger amount has
been read, perhaps a pile. With that pile of material, I can now assert, Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the
can beg without groveling, that I know something worth saying. origin of all poems,
This art to knowing, of making mountains out of molehills for You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are
professors and students to climb, is what I worry is the only thing I millions of suns left)
have learned and what I hope is not the takeaway when I step onto the You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor
stage to pick up the thin tan paper with my name and signature inside look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the
that says I came, I saw, and... what? Conquered? I worry that the lie I spectres in books,
tell myself every day is this: I am learning. In truth, I may be taking You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things
cursory glances at the chest of gold before slamming the lid shut from me,
because there is a chest of silver, signifying Frisbees, to be opened, a You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.
chest of platinum, signifying friendships, to look into, and many other
chests of gold and silver to be opened and examined. One moment I was retrieving a wad of someones jeans from a
I want to learn. I want to say that I have given an honest shot at washer, and the next I was deep in thought, standing by the window,
investing myself into a written work. This is about throwing the chest the collected works of Descartes flipped open to a random page, my
of gold open and digging my hands in, pulling out coins, inspecting the finger tracing the lines.
craftsmanship of the gilt faces and then walking away with something
to say about the value in the treasure chest. Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are
With the outpouring of students on Gonzagas many green lawns, crowded with perfumes,
my first thought jumps to Walt Whitmans Song of Myself. Come sit I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
with me, Whitman asks of the reader, come sit and loafe at my ease The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.
observing a spear of summer grass. I intend to sit with Whitman
and investigate the truths that lie within the 52 sections in his Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded
song, picking from them a selection of sections applicable to the with perfumes, so says Whitman. I breathe the fragrance myself
contemporary college experience. and know it and like it (Whitman, 2). I hadnt spent long reading
through Descartes collection. It was dense, dry. I had things to do that
II were more important than standing in this empty, dark nook on the
second floor. Why I bring up this moment is for the reason that the
Once, when I was a sophomore, I picked a book at random from perfumes of Descartes, he one of the spectres in books (Whitman,
a shelf of books and began to read it. On flipping open its pages, I 2), had entrapped me. In that moment with the book, my motivations
learned that the book was a collection of the works of Descartes were tinged with an inspiration, I had breathe[d] the fragrance
Philosophy 201; the scribbles between the margins of notes on myself and [knew] it and like[d] it (Whitman, 2). That inspiration
Nietzsches will to power and Kantian ultimatums; the East-coast was rocket fuel for motivation. As I held the book, I believed I could
accented professor and his regular outfit of a white V-neck tee read the entire collection of Descartes, and eventually, steadily plod
underneath a black dress coat. through the other collections of famous writers and philosophers
I was standing in the octangular study room on the second floor on the shelves for no reason other than the fact that I am a college

[92] [93]
student. Then, I could write a book or prepare a presentation for TED. considered proficient fall at 46 percent of white children, 20 percent
I could start a company. The inspiration fitted my eyes with a rosy lens of Hispanic children, and 18 percent of black children. When the facts
designed to reduce mountains to molehills, to shorten a journey of a that less than half of 17-year-olds can read proficiently, and four out
thousand miles to a single step. of five children of minorities are unable to do so, are compared to the
At some point in my life, I had gathered a dual notion that being expectation of reading on college campuses, a college student might
a college student meant learning through reading and socializing feel an obligation to take advantage of his or her unique position. The
through partying (perhaps my initial perceptions of the ideal college obligation to take advantage might stem from guilt or duty.
student stem from being a first generation student). Learning was the Whitman appears to be arguing against a sense of inspiration
stronger ideal, and I believed I could achieve it when I held open the from books. His inspiration has no taste of the distillation found
writing of Descartes; I believed I could write that book or prepare a within books. It is found in nature, in the atmosphere that is not
presentation. a perfume, in the open world which allows him to come into contact
with his human self, illustrated with his writing, The smoke of my
In me the caresser of life wherever moving, backward as well own breath, Echoes, ripples, buzzd whispers, love-root, silk-thread,
as forward sluing, crotch and vine, My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my
To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs... His inspiration
missing, does not come from a stilted writing, like any collection of famous
Absorbing all to myself and for this song. (13) works, but from a writing found naturally, from a writing that places
him closer to his being.
I ended up never going back to that bookshelf. As soon as I went One may ask Whitmans questions, Have you reckond a thousand
back to my laundry, the inspiration died off, petered from an image of acres much? Have you reckond the earth much? a thousand times
Whitmans glowing blade of grass as a symbol of humanity to an image while reading his work and may never come to the answers without
of a blade of grass, nothing more. That inspiration comes and goes discovering the writing found in the nature that he describes.
at random, such as in this example of me doing laundry, though it is Whitman takes on the job of guiding the reader toward an awareness
never constant. of this notion. For this reason, that one cannot find the writing found
naturally within his work, Whitman declares to the reader, You shall
I loafe and invite my soul, not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer listen to all sides and filter them from yourself. He has his rosy lens
grass. (1) and talks about his experience, but to share in it, to understand it, one
must find the writings found in nature through his or her own eyes.
Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the This is a friendly or communal approach, and one rather different
vegetation. from the opening lines to the poem: I celebrate myself, and sing
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic, myself, / And what I assume you shall assume (1). He is not an egotist,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow like the first lines might suggest, but a guidance counselor walking the
zones, ... (6) reader to an awareness, to self-discovery of natural writings that are
not capable of being found in books, like in a collection of Descartes
I bring up this moment of inspiration, when, like Whitman, I can work.
see beyond the literal image of a blade of grass, because it highlights
the unique position for college students at Gonzaga. This position III
relates to Whitmans perspective in his contemporary society.
Students have the opportunity to learn from books and professors. At this exact moment, a white Mustang convertible is parked in
We are encouraged and challenged to grow in a safe environment on the middle of the street outside my house. The three people inside are
campus. This environment appears at first glance to not exist in the blasting a strange combo of bass guitar and heavy drums. The driver
greater community, where reading scores for 17-year-olds that are repeatedly hits the horn. They are yelling at one another, laughing

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about something too. Someone exits a nearby house and goes to the in the form of cleanup. Rarely has this openness ever occurred outside
car, squishing into a back seat. The yelling continues. The car drives of the post-party atmosphere, for my friends and me, at least.
off, the sound of its bass trailing for at least a minute after. The scene
isnt surprising. This is college. I expected that when I came here. I hear the sound I love, the sound of the human voice,
I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or
The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their following,
partners, the dancers bow to each other, Sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the
The youth lies awake in the cedar-roofd garret and harks to day and night,
the musical rain, ... (15) Talkative young ones to those that like them, the loud laugh
of work-people at their meals, ... (26)
What I never expected was to develop different expectations
of college after I had arrived. As a freshman, orientation weekend It was the end of my freshman year when I began to realize that I
affirmed my original thoughts: our small groups focused on awkward enjoyed the conversations more than the partying atmosphere. I felt
icebreakers, the leaders kept us awake all night with activities like like I was improving myself by turning over thoughts that had been
the DJ mosh-pit, meeting of the basketball players in the old gym and stewing in my head to my friends without worry of consequence.
learning to do the Zombie Nation, and the mile-long serpentine run Shortly after the discovery, I learned that a few students on my floor
with laser lights, loud music, and constant cheering the whole way to were in need of one more member in their suite for the next year.
yet another dance at two in the morning. The party atmosphere talked These students did not drink, one of them was an RA, and two were
about as seniors in high school classrooms and romanticized in movies members of cura personalis. I hastily jumped on the opportunity, not
like Superbad and The Perks of Being a Wallflower was real, and, I had knowing that my sophomore year would be filled with intellectual
thought, there was nothing to do as a freshman but to partake and discussion, sans-drinking, with these students who I now call my
enjoy it. friends.
But I did not enjoy it, if referring to drinking in strangers houses In section 5 of Song of Myself, Walt Whitman asks the reader to
and grinding with strangers of the opposite sex, which were the loafe with me on the grass and loose the stop in your throat. He
activities following orientation weekend. What I enjoyed most were wants not lecture, customary speech, singing, or rhyming, not even
the conversations had after the main event, when the music had been words, but wants the lull, the hum of your valved voice. I believe
shut off, the majority of people had left, and only my closest friends Whitman is speaking to the secret desire of open conversation within
remained. the reader of his contemporary time period. The reader, stifled by
mid-1800s decorum, desirous of the kind of conversation held in the
Listener up there! what have you to confide to me? darkened quarters of the butlers pantry while sorting dirty dishes,
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening, might have taken hold of Whitmans words as I took hold of them on
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a my first reading. I believe he is speaking to our time period as well.
minute longer.) (52) My first thought went back to freshman year, to the serpentine during
orientation weekend, to the apartment with the smoke in the air and a
While cleaning up the mess, we talked without restraint, partly table with red solo cups in the center and the scores of people packed
due to inebriation and also because there comes with college an in, and to the quiet talk held between two friends at 4 a.m. in Crimont.
expectation of openness. We made it to college, and, now, we can I longed for conversation then, and I still long for it now. We, meaning
become whoever we want to be. Conversation can be on anything. college students, all have a silent longing for openness within us,
Communism. Sex. Death. Women. Loneliness. Aging. Everything is and while some are luckily enough to get to experience this kind of
on the table. With every question one of my friends or I asked, there openness, the majority of freshman and sophomores resort to drinking
came that hint, that glimmer in our eyes, of, I know I can say this and excessive activities all as a means of letting go and reaching that
because Im in college. What is significant is that being open had place. Whitman believes none of that is necessary. All we need is time
requirements: inebriation, as well as exhaustion and physical exertion to loafe and a willingness to speak.

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To behold the day-break!
Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too The little light fades the immense and diaphanous shadows,
late? The air tastes good to my palate.

IV The quotidian aspects of society make up the biggest chunk of


what people see as society, and yet though it is the biggest part, it gets
Can I be afoot with my vision? Do I see with a rosy lens as Whitman ignored in favor of focusing on the troubling issues of the moment.
sees and can I catalog everything? The thin cross country runner These issues in the 1850s Frank summarizes as widespread political
hobbling up the steps to her bike at 7 a.m. on Saturday, the worker corruption, a widening gap between rich and poor, rising immigration
with the blue shirt and tan pants in the COG serving tator-tots, a and corresponding anti- immigrant feeling, high urban death rates,
game of Frisbee in the quad, three CAMPO officers by the doors of and a fragmented political system in the wake of the death of the old
Hemmingson, a study group in the library staring at a whiteboard party system (406). It would be difficult to focus on ones daily life
coated in formulas, and another sight, and another person, and on when these issues are constantly on the front of newspapers and in
and on? This is the humdrum of daily life on campus. Unlike this regular conversation, threatening the collapse of America.
short sentence, Whitman enumerates activities and types of people in Now take his accretive lists further and apply his reasons for
America in accretive catalogs that grow to multiple pages. In sections narrating the quotidian to today, to May of 2016. We are in a time of
14-16, 26, 33, and 47, his lists attempt to capture an image of American perceived widespread political corruption, a time when presidential
culture. The twenty-sixth section, for example, lists 26 sounds ranging candidates talk about crooks in congress and millionaires and
from birds in the sky, lovemaking, people laughing, a trains whistle billionaires hoarding money from the 99 percent, a time when
whistling, to a soprano singer. Happiness, sadness, pain, and the immigration from Mexico and news of Syrian immigration to European
emotions of night and day environments are covered as well. And countries is so extensive that the anti-immigrant feelings have
that, he says, we call Being. materialized into a talk of a giant and beautiful concrete wall running
the length of Texas, a time when police officer negligence and school
Now I will do nothing but listen, shootings are our constant news, and a time when the Republican
To accrue what I hear into this song, to let sounds contribute party teeters with every word that falls from Donald Trumps lips.
toward it. These are our American topics, they are the lyrics stuck in our head,
I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of and they portray a mean world. We have what George Gerbner calls a
flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals... (26) mean world syndrome where the news media we receive illustrates
a country as tumultuous as Whitmans America in 1850. Gerbner
Whitman goes to great lengths to embrace any and all things that believes most of us live rather insulated lives and we dont meet too
he can imagine as being part of American culture in his time period; on many people of other groups, of other races, other ethnic backgrounds
reading the entirety of Song of Myself, a reader will be able to walk than our own. Most of what we know about other races, other ethnic
away with an image of the rather boring parts of Whitmans society. groups, we know from television. And on television we get some very
Whitman intends for this image of society to be on the boring peculiar types of information. The information we receive creates
aspects because it allows his readers to appreciate their unrefined that sense of danger, of mistrust, of meanness in the world that are
and unfinished state (429), according to Jason Frank in The Review of exactly the feelings Whitman is attempting to overturn.
Politics. Overturning those feelings about a mean world is the heart of
Whitmans Song and of his entire work of Leaves of Grass, according
That I walk up my stoop, I pause to consider if it really be, to Jason Frank. Democracy justifies itself through the works it
A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the creates (424), he writes. Through a poetic depiction of the people,
metaphysics of books. Whitman enacts the required reconfiguration of popular sensibility,
which he hopes, in turn, will engender a robustly transformative
democratic politics (402). What Frank means is that Whitmans

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lengthy lists depicting the quotidian parts of everyday 1850s America the Frisbee and the idea for this project simply connected. I believed
were an experiment at shifting readers minds away from the mean at the time that I was not learning. Weeks prior, I had just registered
world syndrome. This shift away, in turn, he believed would lift the to vote for the November presidential elections and campus elections
paralyzing gaggery and guilt behind participating in democracy had been going on for some time. I was dejected, bugged by how much
and thus allow greater participation. time I had been spending indoors when the weather was great outside,
and I had the need to justify myself. I had written, I want to learn
V and planned on getting close with Whitman up until the end of the
semester. The second and third sections were also written when I felt
At Gonzaga, participation among college students is dismal. inspired. I could not force myself to write them; only when I read over
After working for the campus journal Charter, I had designed thirty Song of Myself and had that spark of excitement in me, that rosy
different posters, postcards, and handouts that had gone all over lens telling me that I have something important to say, did I write.
campus. We had also regularly posted on our Facebook page to an Whats significant about this, how I wrote only when I felt inspired,
audience of over three hundred people, and shared our posts with is that this was Whitmans goal. As Jason Frank explained, getting
our friends and encouraged them to share the posts to their friends. his readers to participate is at the heart of Song of Myself. And
The effort resulted in 13 submissions to the journal after five months. furthermore, the participation is unique. What Whitman desires from
That number included our staff of three. It is exceedingly difficult his reader, whom he is holding at the shoulder and guiding through
to get submissions for not only our journal, but for Our Voices, One the Song, is not a lecture or a decorous poem, and not a stilted body
World, Fringe, and Reflection. Additionally, outside of journals, the of writing poured out the night before its due with the sole intent
participation rate for student body elections falls at a percentage of a letter grade in exchange. He wants the hum of your valved
close to below the percent required to consider the campus election a voice. He values conversation. For me, had I not read Whitmans
legitimate vote. Participation has left us, it seems, or maybe it appears work in depth, I would not have reflected as openly as I did on my
that way. present experience in college. Small as it is, I learned something
As described, Whitmans Song of Myself addresses low about myself. And for that, for Whitmans ability to reach inside me,
participation in his time period; his accretive lists lift the paralyzation into my paralyzed mind, and to unstop my mouth, to draw out
of the people who are caught up in Gerbers Mean World Syndrome. inspiration and the discussion that I desireand as well that he is
On college campuses, this paralyzation exists in two forms. The first capable of accomplishing that after 150 years, that makes him, to me,
form is our closed mouths, where open, unfiltered conversation a visionary author.
requires a certain level of inebriation. I desire for that openness; I
remember most clearly the conversations had after parties or in my You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
suite on campus with my RA roommate. The second form is a lack of But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
inspiration. While I have had moments of inspiration, such as when I And filter and fibre your blood.
found the collection of Descartes works, they are fleeting. To enhance
participation on college campuses, a willingness to communicate and Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
to be inspired is what I believe is a requirement. Whitman would have Missing me one place search another,
thought the same. I stop somewhere waiting for you.

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,
Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, Works Consulted
not even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice. Cooke, Alice L. A Note on Whitmans Symbolism in Song of Myself.
Modern Language Notes 65.4 (1950): 228232. Web.
The first section of this project was written when I felt inspired. I
had looked outside the window in the library and saw people throwing Frank, Jason. Aesthetic Democracy: Walt Whitman and the Poetry of
the People. The Review of Politics 69.3 (2007): 402430. Web.

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Gohdes, Clarence. A Comment on Section 5 of Whitmans Song of
Myself. Modern Language Notes 69.8 (1954): 583586. Web.

Gohdes, Clarence. Section 50 of Whitmans Song of Myself. Modern Alpha Mango


Language Notes 75.8 (1960): 654656. Web. Katherine Sumantri
Kuspit, Donald. In Search of the Visionary Image. Art Journal 45.4
(1985): 319322. Web.

Lanyon, Ellen, and Russell Bowman. The Visionary Impulse: An


American Tendency. Art Journal 45.4 (1985): 291292. Web.

Miller, James E. Song of Myself as Inverted Mystical


Experience.PMLA 70.4 (1955): 636 661. Web.

Rountree, Thomas J. Whitmans Indirect Expression and Its


Application to Song of Myself. PMLA 73.5 (1958): 549555. Web.

THE MEAN WORLD SYNDROME. Dir. Jeremy Earp. Perf. George Gerbner
and Michael Morgan. The Mean World Syndrome. Media Education
Foundation, 2010. Web. 4 May 2016.

Whitmans Song of Myself Modern American Poetry. Bibliomania.com,


n.d. Web. 04 May 2016. <http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/
poets/s_z/whitman/song.htm>.

[102] [103]
and Gender Studies. She is the self proclaimed worst Business major at
Gonzaga and the want to be English major that never made the jump even
contributors though Jeff Dodd told her to for two years (hes always right). She is a lover
of everything outdoors, extra sun and hold the creepy crawlers. Her family
grounds her, especially her three inspiring siblings, and if she could zap
herself anywhere in the world, it would probably be to her favorite place and
second home, Lake Tahoe.
David Ahern is a junior pursuing a major in Biology with a minor in
Chemistry. He enjoys words and thinks that theyre very important. He Melina Harvey is a sophomore Marketing major with double minors in
also loves the outdoors, his rec-intermediate basketball team, and tuna Entrepreneurship and French. She recently embarked on a quest to find the
fish. While he can understand and even agrees with people who say tuna Best Mac and Cheese in Spokane and learned three things: 1) the Best Mac
just tastes weird, he believes if you get the right proportion of pepper-jack and Cheese can be found at Manito Tap House 2) One Direction should have
cheese to tuna and grill it all together, its a tasty lunchtime meal packed never broken up 3) Every TV show should have a musical number episode.
with protein, omega 3, and just a smidge of mercury. He also enjoys burying
himself into controversy and playing devils advocate, and thinks that Daniel Hodge People ask him: whats your aesthetic? To this, he responds: a
pineapple can go wherever it damn well wants toincluding a bland, ham- black indoor cat from the suburbs of France who only listens to Grime Rap.
smothered pizza. Realistically though, hes a mulatto boy from white suburbia in Sacramento,
CA who played Pretty Pretty Princess with his sisters growing up.
Hannah Casey is a senior majoring in English with a concentration in
Writing. Although she hasnt been afflicted with senioritis yet, she knows its Emmett Jones is a senior from Sandpoit, Idaho studying English with a
forthcoming. You may find her rewatching West Side Storyeither happily Writing Concentration and Marketing. When not writing gloomy poetry
singing along or gently sobbing. Otherwise, shell likely be at the piano, about the middle of the United States, he enjoys listening to music youve
playing Les Mis songs. Interestingly enough, she strongly dislikes bananas never heard of and desperately searching for alternatives to being employed
and being called Hannah Banana. She is in love with her charming little because hes not an adult yet no matter what society says.
hometown, Nevada City (which is in California, not Nevada), along with her
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Marley (who is cute, but weirdly human-like). Sarah Kersey is a freshman English major with a double minor in journalism
She attributes her lifelong passion for art, namely acrylic painting, to her and writing. She naps and watches Criminal Minds way too often, yet
Papa Fom and her mom. somehow still makes time for her 18-credit schedule. If you see her smiling at
her phone on campus, it is probably because her dad has sent her yet another
Leo Francovich is a super senior studying Creative Writing and Music at picture of her cat from back home.
Gonzaga University. This summer he is going to Canada to work on an
organic farm. He might not come back. Jack Kiesewetter is a sophomore working on his major in Biology and
certification in Secondary Education. His friends say he looks like Paul Rudd,
Mitch Gomes is a senior majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in Digital but he is not so sure. A self proclaimed Jesus freak from Eugene, OR, there
Marketing. Though the question, What is the meaning of life? frequently are few things he enjoys more than corn tortillas, folk music, and the Oxford
crosses his mind, he knows that, as a 21-year-old man-child, he might still comma. As a cradle Catholic and lifelong photographer, he hopes to share a
have a long way to go before he is prepared to answer. In the meantime, he little bit of himself in this, his first submission to Reflection.
finds comfort in stocking up on excess amounts of banana chips, trying to
revive jazz, and suddenly and unexpectedly incorporating the traits and David Landoni is a junior double majoring in English and Biology and
backstories of his favorite movie characters into his bios. He once ran across minoring in Math. David is easy to spot in a crowdjust look for his bubbly
the entire country and travelled to a galaxy far, far away. and outgoing personality. Hes an expert on the current top 40, has been
known to wobble an ankle or two on the b-ball court. Back at home he
Lindsey Hand is a senior graduating with a degree in Community loves riding over the outskirts of the suburban countryside on his horse, Bert,
Development in Business and minors in Entrepreneurship and Women whom he misses dearly. Find him on campus and hell give you a big hug!

[104] [105]
Isabella Manoguerra is an English major with a Writing Concentration and scholarships. Shes excited to see where graduation will take her, but Spokane
a History minor. You may find her chugging coffee in Hemmingson, tackling will always have a special place in her heart. The North Cascades and the
on the rugby pitch, or making essay dreams come true in the Writing Center. Grand Tetons are her happy place, but Gonzaga is up there towards the top of
Her talents include eating an entire pizza in one sitting, spontaneous the list.
headstands, and stress cleaning.
Katherine Sumantri is a senior from Singapore. She still sometimes hopes
Danika Morrison has a lot of hair, but not a lot of secrets. that professors think English is her second language for a better grade, but
thats not the case. She enjoys spending time with her friends, watching
Nathan Patrick Nelson is a junior Theatre Education major and overall loser. Shameless, and eating copious amounts of pizza rolls. Oh, and she has no idea
He drinks too much Diet Coke and watches too much Jeopardy. If you want what she is doing next year.
to find him, just leave some Oreos on a stage, say his name three times, turn
around, and he shall appear. Brahiam Villanueva is a junior from Moses Lake, Washington majoring in
History.
Evan Olson is a senior Broadcast Media and English Writing double major.
He enjoys putting on shows for Gonzaga University Television, eating Makayla Wamboldt is currently a senior who has no idea what shes doing
loads of rice, beans, and taquitos, and reading old, obscure books in Foley after graduation, mostly because shes an English major, but also because
as procrastination from both class readings (please no more early 1800s the world is so exciting and there are too many adventures to be had, like
sentimental stories) and thinking about life beyond college. hiking the PCT, teaching English in Indonesia, learning how to surf, or maybe
putting down some roots in a city she loves (Spokane). She feels especially
Alexa Rehm is a senior English major with a Writing Concentration and a grateful to all of her English professors for their love and guidance along the
triple minor in Italian Studies, History, and General Business, which means way.
that shes crazy and apparently doesnt want to have free time while shes
in college. When she does come across a spare minute or two, she enjoys Janine Warrington is a senior studying Christian Theology and Religious
making and eating unforgivable amounts of pasta and/or chocolate cake, Pluralism. When she was in 8th grade, Janine often ate meatballs and
judging the interior decorating decisions of couples on HGTV, and regularly waffles for breakfast and vehemently declared that she would NEVER be a
hitting the barre (the fitness studio barre, that is). vegetarian. Today, Janine is a vegetarian and enjoys beginning her days with
oatmeal and fruit.
Megan Robinson majors in English and minors in Entrepreneurship at
Gonzaga. She reads and writes all kind of things, but the whimsical stuff is
the tops.

Zack Rosse enjoys oranges but hates the labor of peeling them.

Brooke Smith is a Writing and Communications student. When she


graduates this May, she hopes to be a writer for a non-profit organization
that seeks to end poverty in Washington. She has spent a third of her life
living in a little town called Snohomish, nestled between the Cascade
Mountains and the Puget Sound. Her favorite thing to do on rainy days
(which are often in the northwest) is wrestling with her goldendoodle,
Sophie. She has a major sweet tooth and a weakness for good food inspired
by her moms amazing cooking. While in college, though, shes been forced
to substitute her moms chicken teriyaki with frozen Trader Joes meals. She
listens to boring music and drives with a Thule on the top of her car because
shes all about practicality. Being a practical person, she went to community
college before becoming a Zag so shed have more time to apply for

[106] [107]
Poetry. Prose. Visual Art.

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