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Full text of "Audemus Winter 2009"

AUDEMUS 



POETRY, FICTION, ESSAYS, ART 




volume 1, Issue 2 Winter 2009 

Mount St. Mary's College, Los Angeles 



Archives 

MSMG 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation 



http://archive.org/details/audemuswinter20001vari 



AUDEMUS 

The Literary Journal of Mount St. Mary's College 

Editor in Chief: Ileanna Portillo 

Fiction Editor: Cassandra Krieger 

Nonfiction Editor: Erica Graham 

Art Editor/Designer: Kathleen Araiza 

Publisher: Marcos M. Villatoro 

Cover Art: "The dead man lives serenely in the backyards..." 
by Kathleen Araiza 

www.audemus.org 

Title font by Harold Lohner 

"Audemus" is published by the English Department, The Provost 
Office, and the Student Affairs Department of Mount St. Mary's 
College of Los Angeles. 

The editors invite submissions of poetry, fiction, essays and art. 
Send manuscripts to audemus@mymsmc.la.edu or to Marcos 
Villatoro/Audemus/Mount St. Mary's College/12001 Chalon Rd./ 
Los Angeles, CA 90049. Manuscripts will not be returned unless ac- 
companied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. 

Subscriptions: $15 
Back Issues: $8 
Current Issue: $10 

Copyright 2009 by Mount St. Mary's College ISSN Pending 
Printed by Image - 2000, Los Angeles, CA 



Contents 

Editor's note 7 

Poetry 

Percival Everett: This Cadaverous Topography 10 

Marvin Bell: The Book of the Dead Man (The Dare) 23 

Danielle Arender: When I Was 35 

Jessica Flores: Juarez 54 

Eloise Klein Healy: What Does Death Want From Me? 61 

Ally Acker: The Silk Kimono 63 

Lauren Schmidt: 

Falsies 64 

Ritual 69 

Fiction 

Riley Wilkinson: Judith and I 32 

Sharon Keely: Dandelion Clock Time 72 

NonFiction 

Patrick O'Neil: Barack and the Art of Dental Hygiene 13 

Leonard Chang: Q-Zombies 37 

ART 

Esteban Jesus Cons Narvaez: Peace Be With You 31 



Mayra Rodriguez: 

Exit 11 

Ponchi 34 

Alegria 53 

Erica 71 

Danielle Arender: 

Elgin, Term. 12 

Needles Motel Lot 22 

Airport 62 

The DLR in July 71 

Hans Burkhardt: My Lai 56 

Kathleen Araiza: Hans Burkhardt: 

The Art of Mortality 57 

Interview 

Ileanna Portillo: Dancing with a Dead Man: 

An Interview with Marvin Bell 26 

BOOK REVIEW 

Cassandra Krieger: Philip Roth: Enemy of the Righteous 65 



CONTRIBUTORS 8o 






Editor's Note 

I have been thinking about my last semester as Editor in Chief of 
Audemus — that's right, in mere weeks I am off this mount and into 
a world supposedly more real than the one I am living in. I'd like to 
take this opportunity to reflect on the unique collaboration among the 
editors of Audemus. Usually a magazine staff is a silent group of editors 
that makes decisions behind the scenes. The only mark of a genre editor 
is the work he or she chooses. The Audemus editors, however, are part 
of the process each step of the way. Sometimes they contribute their 
own work to the magazine. In the last issue, nonfiction editor Erica Gra- 
ham shared with us her personal stories about her mother, proving how 
nonfiction can be an intensely intimate exercise. Art editor Kathleen 
Araiza has for us in this issue a piece about the art of Hans Burkhardt, 
which she took in at the Jack Rutberg Fine Arts gallery. Fiction editor 
Cassandra Krieger contributes a review of Philip Roth's new novel, In- 
dignation. Along with their literary additions to the magazine, I admire 
each of their talents and brilliance so much that I am proud to call them 
friends. 

It makes me glad that this is the issue I am leaving you with. 
After going through the process of creating a literary magazine from its 
inception to the final product, the staff and I have grown more confident 
in our ability to produce this journal. 

In May we said goodbye to our fiction editor, Natalie Gutierrez, 
as she left us for graduate school in New York. I am happy to report that 
she is in love with the city and doing well in her pursuit of a Master's 
degree in Publishing. We brought Cassandra Krieger on board for this 
issue as fiction editor, which was a great addition as she jumped right in 
and made some fine editing decisions. 

The very idea of Audemus is to include voices other than those 
of the students of Mount St. Mary's College, where we run the maga- 
zine. This opens the magazine to a wider array of styles and perspec- 
tives, while also publishing Mount students' work (you'll read in this 
issue pieces by our Humanities students). 

portillo 7 



For the first time this issue, we decided to advertise our maga- 
zine outside of the LA area. We appealed to other universities across 
the country with finely designed posters by Kathleen Araiza. Along with 
the young, unpublished voices we've included, we wanted established 
authors to contribute as well. To that end, there is an interview I con- 
ducted with Marvin Bell, well-known contemporary poet of our day. We 
also have poems by Percival Everett, Eloise Klein Healy, and Ally Acker. 
Marvin Bell wrote a poem especially for our magazine, a poem in a form 
of his own creation called the "Dead Man" poem. It speaks about "the 
dare," and after you read it, you will see how well that captures both 
the spirit of our magazine, and how it touches on contemporary issues 
we should all be aware of. Bell's "Dead Man" poems are accessible, yet 
they reveal more layers with each reading. First it appears to be speak- 
ing about one thing, and on a second or third reading it is quite another 
thing entirely. That, I imagine, is the purpose of the dead man; he is both 
here and there. 

It remains to be seen in what direction Audemus will evolve 
once the last of our original staff graduates. I can only hope that we 
have started something that others will want to continue, because they 
understand what we are trying to do with it. The idea of a provocative 
literary magazine is not new, and every incarnation has its own idea of 
what it means to be that. While the Audemus staff is not trying to rein- 
vent the wheel, we felt the need to create a magazine with this specific 
purpose because it feels relevant to us today. The staff attends Mount St. 
Mary's College, a school that is thirsty for a literary community. Though 
it attracts many a potential nurse, perhaps one day the Mount will also 
attract writers of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Marcos Villatoro, our 
publisher and professor of English, has been working hard to create a 
literary following on this campus. I hope that Audemus is one step in 
that direction. It provides a place where talented and unheard writers 
can see their work in print, thus making them and their work immortal. 
Who could resist that? 

Another reason Audemus is relevant is because of the climate it 
was created in. We're in the middle of a war, the US economy is in sham- 
bles (making me very confident about graduating now!), and because of 
the momentous election year, more than ever a magazine like Audemus 

8 PORTILLO 



is vital. Creative writing is not lost in all these current events. In fact, 
it is even more important now that we continue to publish writing with 
socio-political undercurrents, or at least something that peels back the 
obvious layers of the human experience and reveals to us something 
we haven't yet considered. That's another aspect ofAudemus, the name 
meaning "let us dare," in this particular point in history, is extremely 
powerful, and in the future it will develop new meaning for creative 
writers and the readers of our magazine. 

Ileanna Portillo 
Editor in Chief 



PORTILLO 9 



Percival Everett 

I72ZS Cadaverous Topography 

The strangest of our rivers races muddy, 

Juniper berries falling and rolling off hillsides, 

Collecting notions of what is need, 

Of what is want, sweeping them into 

The flow, with the malm and dull roots. 

The sun is forgetful and so shines again, 

Surprised to find herself in her own light 

And cutthroats splash in the eddies, 

Along undercut banks, near some confluence. 

We follow it down to a place that matters, 

Where we drink coffee and remember our boots. 

The strangest of our rivers divides us, 
Wedges deep with the push of storms 
And drives hard the harsh rush 
Of events that shape our fear of each 
Other. 

The moon took us and showed us the springs, 

Gently suggested that we not drown. 

Said so with a handful of desiccated earth, 

The chrome yellow reflection of his eyes in the pool. 

And so the moment tells us that 

Death, disillusionment, xenophobia, stupidity 

Has undone so many, 

What I tell you three times is true. 

What I tell you three times is true. 

What I tell you three times is true. 



10 Everett 




Exit 



Mayra Rodriguez 



Rodriguez 11 




Elgin, Tenn. 
Danielle Arender 



12 Arender 



Patrick O'Neil 

Barack and the Art of Dental Hygiene 

Saturday sucked. I woke up late. I woke up anxious. I looked at 
the clock and cursed. Most mornings I can't sleep in and now 
when I was supposed to be somewhere, I had. All the enjoyment 
I could' ve reaped from the subversive complacency of staying under the 
covers, ignoring the world, was lost to the fact that I was late. 

With crusty bits of sleep clinging to my eyes, I scrambled out of 
bed and rushed through the morning necessities. And then without the 
proper beginnings, as in no time to get coffee, I ran out the door intent 
on doing things and being places I had promised people I would. 

Unfortunately no one else appeared to know or seemed to care 
I was late. Traffic was bad. Buses, cars, pedestrians, bicyclists, and an 
unusual amount of women with kids in strollers blocked every intersec- 
tion. Gaggles of tourists crowded sidewalks and street corners, pointing 
and ogling and taking pictures. And yes, I know the Euro is strong, and 
yes, yes, thanks so much for the needed tourismo cash and all. But isn't 
there more to see and do in New York City? And why in hell is the entire 
EU in my neighborhood on a goddamn Saturday morning? 

Without any of the usual screaming or rude hand gesturing on 
my part, I steered my car through it all, eventually making my way across 
town to my first destination on time and a little out of breath. Which 
wasn't that easy. I'm not used to dragging my pathetic un-caffeinated 
ass anywhere first thing in the morning other than down the hill to the 
cafe for my usual latte. 

Still a bit sleepy, I picked up Barbara and drove to the meeting. 
We had committed ourselves to setting up the eighty chairs and putting 
the elusive card table in the corner by the door. Last week when nobody 
else had raised their hands, we'd both sighed and took on the responsi- 
bility. 

With all the chairs set up in rows and the meeting about to be- 
gin, I ran to the nearest coffee shop and ordered a four shot latte. The 

O'Neil 13 



woman behind the counter looked at me, shook her head and said, 
"No, three shots." 

"Excuse me?" I sarcastically asked lifting my hands palms up in 
the universal expression of "what the fuck?" 

"Too strong," she said. "It won't taste good, only three shots." 

"Really?" I said. "Couldn't you let me be the judge of that?" 

"No." 

It would be a gross understatement to say that when I left with 
my lowly three shot latte I had only a slight resentment toward the 
woman behind the counter. And yeah, okay, four shots may be a little 
over the top and yeah, I'm strung out. But I can quit anytime I want. Re- 
ally. I can. I just don't want to. Besides when I try I get this insane frontal 
lobe headache from lack of caffeine. 

But enough of that. 

An overwhelming sense of anxiety prevailed as I walked up the 
hill, my three shot latte in hand. The hot liquid scorched the roof of my 
mouth as I climbed the stairs and took my seat in the rear of the room. 
For an hour and a half I stared at the back of some unknown person in 
front me and waited for the meeting to end — my empty stomach mak- 
ing gurgling noises as the acidic coffee churned away. 

When the meeting was finally over I walked out front and met 
with the usual suspects. "Are we eating?" someone asked. And like every 
Saturday for as long as I care to remember, we all went off to break- 
fast at the cafe down the street. And as usual the place was crowded 
and very noisy. Raising my voice I ordered — eggs over easy and home 
fries — and watched as the waitress blinked. Which caused me to stress 
she hadn't gotten my order right. Then I figured it really didn't matter 
and turned my attention to the seemingly endless and highly speculative 
conversation on the upcoming election and the economy. Only no mat- 
ter where the conversation went, it returned to the same uncomfortable 
place because really they were all talking about their mortgages. And just 
hearing how my friends' lives were being affected made me tense and my 
anxiety increased until it became a pounding sensation that pulsated 
through my entire body. 

Five minutes later our waitress reappeared and delivered a mas- 

14 O'Neil 



sive amount of food to our table. With my plate of coagulated eggs and 
tepid home fires in front of me, I reached for the silverware and began to 
eat. 

"Mmmm, that looks good." 

"I should' ve gotten that." 

"Mayo?" 

"I'm craving meat man!" 

"My mortgage is killing me." 

"No more talk of money while we're eating." 

One look at Harvey's salad and Beth decided she didn't want 
her greasy starch laden home fries and scraped them off her plate onto 
mine. I really shouldn't eat potatoes; relative of the deadly nightshade, 
their nasty lectins get deposited in the flesh tissues surrounding bone 
joints, which causes arthritis. But fuck it. I ate hers anyway, and then I 
ate mine, a double dose. I should be crippled for weeks. 

After breakfast I drove Barbara home. Parked in front of her 
house, I looked at the rows of nice single-family houses and wondered if 
everyone was going to lose their property and if the entire country was 
going into a depression like 1929. Black and white images of stern look- 
ing men in soup lines flashed through my mind as I leaned back in my 
seat and thought about what I had planned for the rest of the day. For 
a brief moment I considered going back to the coffee shop for the miss- 
ing shot of espresso. Instead I made a u-turn and started to drive to the 
other side of town. I had promised Anna Lisa I'd meet her at some art 
show/political benefit where her paintings were being shown. 

When I passed by the elevated freeway I thought I smelled 
burning plastic. Although I presumed it was coming from somewhere 
outside. Then two blocks later I still smelled burning plastic, only now 
it was much stronger. Thinking that wasn't good, I stopped and looked 
underneath the car, worried that a plastic shopping bag had stuck itself 
to the muffler and was melting away causing the stink. But there was 
nothing. I opened the hood, peered around, touched a few leads to see if 
they were hot, everything seemed normal and working. So I got back in 
and started driving. 

All the way out to the benefit the car continued to reek. The 
scorched plastic stench invaded my nostrils and I started to get a head- 

O'Neil 15 



ache. Then I had visions of my car bursting into flames and 
I stressed over the possibilities: a melting tiny fuselage nozzle leaking 
fuel, a gas line filter ruptured from overheating, a miscellaneous mal- 
function of fused overheated wires under the dash. Any one the plau- 
sible cause of my death in a fireball inferno. 

After parking the car across the street from the fundraiser, I 
went inside and looked for Anna Lisa. Only she wasn't there and the 
place was filled with all these political types with agendas in their eyes. 
And I must have looked like fresh meat because they all wanted to talk to 
me about whatever political platform they were promoting. But it was a 
room full of people with similar beliefs and opinions as myself. So I told 
them all, "I agree with you, I just don't want to talk to you." Reluctantly 
they finally left me alone and I walked around and looked at the art and 
felt self-conscious and went outside and called Anna Lisa to tell her I was 
leaving. 

"I'm on the bus," she said. "I'm two minutes away. Can't you 
wait?" 

I looked in the doorway of the fundraiser. A somewhat cute 
tree-sitting-anarchist-vegetarian-for-Obama waved at me. I returned 
her wave, hissed "hurry" into the phone, and then looked at my car and 
realized I hadn't put any money in the parking meter. Dodging traffic I 
crossed the street and stuffed what little change I had into the meter. 

"What's wrong?" asked Anna Lisa as she walked up behind me. 

"My car is melting, those people are weird, I gotta go, I'm 
stressed outta my mind, I can't deal with this shit right now." 

"Oh. Well okay," she said as I walked her inside the front door of 
the benefit. A woman I hadn't seen earlier stopped us, looked me up and 
down and said, "We're asking everyone to donate to the cause. You can 
even do it online," and pointed to a laptop on a desk. 

"Melting plastic," I mumbled. "Gotta go." Then gave Anna Lisa a 
quick hug and fled out the door. 

Back in my car, the turn signal on, I pulled into traffic. With all 
the subtlety of a Bush-sponsored financial bailout my anxiety was back 
and attached to my chest like a frantic weasel. I couldn't catch my breath 
as thoughts of the presidential race attacked my brain. Between visions 
of political talking heads, I stressed over my unfinished list of things to 

16 O'Neil 



do. I needed mailing labels. I needed stamps. My electric toothbrush was 
on the fritz. There was no food at home. Maybe I should take what little 
money I had out of the bank and horde it under my pillow? 

Driving along the congested city streets, I desperately looked for 
an office supply store while simultaneously trying to remember where a 
post office was, or a department store, or a place that sold vegetables. 
But all I saw were liquor stores and coffee shops and every time I stopped 
for a traffic signal, the smell of burning plastic enveloped me and all I 
could think about was the car dying. Or worse, it bursting into flames, 
my charred body fused to the synthetic fabric covered seats. Finally I 
gave up and drove home. 

When I got to my house I pulled into the garage and held my 
breath as the burning smell was overpowering. Outside on the street, I 
breathed the fresh air and closed the garage door hoping the car wouldn't 
burst into flames. The afternoon sun shone on my face as discarded 
trash swirled around my feet and I looked around, thinking what a dump 
my neighborhood was. Then I climbed the stairs, went to my room and 
jumped in bed, pulled the covers over my head, and fell asleep. 

Saturday night sucked. I woke up late. I woke up anxious. I 
looked at the clock and cursed. It was nine o'clock. I'd been asleep for 
hours. With my head on the pillow, I stared at the ceiling knowing I had 
to get up or I'd fall back asleep and then be wide awake at three in the 
morning. But I really didn't want to get up. So instead I recalled unpleas- 
ant past digressions and people I hadn't thought of in a long time. Then 
their faces morphed into Bush and Cheney's and then I was back with 
all those grumpy looking men in the soup lines of the Great Depres- 
sion, which caused my stomach to gurgle. And I thought about food and 
remembered my breakfast and then I really felt ill. But for some reason 
that made me think of my writing and I started to think about my book, 
about what it needed, because it wasn't working. Something was miss- 
ing. That something that would pull it all together. 

Then an idea came to me and I began to figure out the narrative 
my book so desperately needed. Still unwilling to get out of bed, I lay 
there tangled up in the comforter and thought about how it could work 
and played with the possibilities. There was a voice in my head and it was 
exactly the voice I heard when I thought of telling the story to someone 

O'Neil 17 



else. When this same idea kept coming back and I felt I'd worked it out 
as far as I could, I got up and scribbled a quick outline on some coffee 
stained piece of paper. Feeling a bit smug, I went to the kitchen and 
scraped together some food, and watched an unremarkable DVD on the 
television in the living room and then went back to sleep. 

Sunday morning I woke up calm. I woke up rested. I looked at 
the clock and didn't give a shit what time it was because I knew what I 
had to do. I had to take it easy. I had to take care of myself — too much 
anxiety lately. It was messing with my mind and my creativity. I needed 
to calm down, relax, and come Monday I was going to fix my book. 

With that purpose in mind I walked down the hill to get my 
coffee. At the cafe, I said hi to Paul who has been there for years making 
espresso, and as usual he didn't say I couldn't have a four shot latte. He 
didn't say shit. He just made the drink, took my money, and then said, 
"Hi, how ya doing?" 

Latte in hand I walked home with the Sunday paper. And then 
while sitting at my kitchen table I carefully ignored the financial section 
as well as the front page. Halfway through a ridiculous movie review, I 
put the paper down and thought about my car and decided I couldn't 
deal with it either. It was too much stress to even think about what was 
melting and I didn't want to go downstairs to the garage and spend all 
day under the hood trying to figure it out. 

But I did need to do something. I couldn't just sit around ig- 
noring the news, trying to forget about fucking Bush so I could stop 
worrying about the economy being destroyed by his cronies. I needed 
to do something mundane yet healthy to clear my thoughts. The shit 
these politicians were doing in the name of democracy was driving me 
insane. 

But what was the answer? How was I to keep my sanity while the 
country was being destroyed? I already knew there was shit-all I could 
do in the way of immediate relief. Yet I had to do something different, 
even if it was so small a change that it really didn't matter in the grand 
scheme of things. 

"I need a new toothbrush," I said aloud as a sudden a sense of 
calm spread over my body. 

The truth was I'd been stressed about this for a while. My cur- 

18 O'Neil 



rent toothbrush was on its way out; the once finely honed brushing ac- 
tion now reduced to a gentle vibration that sort of rubbed my teeth and 
caused me anxiety as I wasn't getting the full tooth brushing experience 
I knew I should. Convinced I'd found the cause for at least some of my 
internalized apprehension, I searched the adverts in the Sunday paper 
and came across a huge twenty percent off sale for the exact toothbrush 
I wanted. 

"Providence," I mumbled and searched my pockets for my credit 
card. 

Monday morning I woke up rested. I woke up feeling I had a 
purpose. I looked at the clock and asked myself why I had one by my 
bed. I never really needed it and I actually fucking hated it being there. 
In the bathroom I turned on my new toothbrush and felt the bristles 
vigorously messaging my gum, the plaque miraculously disappearing, 
the teeth becoming pearly white. And somewhat cheerfully I hummed 
along with the motor's purr. 

On my way down the hill I noticed the sky was a brilliant blue 
against the gray fog that hovered on the hills and thought what a beauti- 
ful place it is that I live in. When I got to the cafe I said hi to the artist 
guy in the leather hat, and tired to avoid the weirdo with Tourettes. Then 
I thanked Paul when he handed me my latte and left. 

Finally home, latte in hand, I sat down at my computer. 

"Okay," I said. "I know what to write." And then stared at the 
large flat screen as it glowed in my face. Outside a bus drove by, shaking 
the house. A couple of parrots yacked as they flew overhead. The smell 
of fresh coffee wafted up my nose as a low rumble of sound coming from 
the neighbor's TV in the room above me echoed in my mind. 

At that moment, for some unexplainable reason my brain 
screeched to a halt and a small voice not unlike the voice of the narra- 
tor I'd hope to write said, "I give you nothing." Then my head started to 
ache. 

Pushing aside my latte, I leaned my elbow on the desk and 
scratched my chin. Was it possible my mind had finally unraveled? I re- 
ally wanted to work on my book. Instead I sat there and wondered if it 
was better to stay at the computer and force some mediocre writing out? 
Or was it better to throw up my hands in disgust and move on to some- 

O'Neil 19 



thing unimportant like doing nothing? 

I didn't know the answer, but I tried to tough it out, and wrote 
two pages of crap. Only it felt like my heart wasn't into it. Then as usual 
the self loathing that accompanies these moments of failure came roll- 
ing through me and I worried if I was a fraud, that everything I'd ever 
written was a fluke and that I really didn't have any talent and the truth 
was that I was just an unproductive loser. 

Sitting at my desk, I stared at what I'd just written and asked 
myself what was worse: churning out some forced worthless crap and 
then beating myself up over it being crap, and then having to go through 
the ensuing self-inflicted mental barrage of the usual drivel? I can't 
write, I'm a fraud, I suck, the last good shit I wrote was a fluke and being 
an unproductive loser is who I really am. Or not write at all and then 
beat myself up with the usual drivel? 

Ah, the choices. 

Sort of anti-climactic of me to have figured out what my book 
needed and then be floundering in the doing. Maybe I'm just too close? 
I thought. Maybe I need to take an extended break? Maybe I need a 
hobby? You know, something to take my mind off the creative process 
and give myself a bit of breathing room. Maybe something mundane 
and simple like golf. I could putter around the fairways and wear argyle 
sweaters, and polyester slacks in vibrant colors. Maybe a whole "Fat El- 
vis" era jump suit/super hero costume while driving golf carts to the 
clubhouse and drinking frosty cold ones at the "nineteenth hole." 

Or maybe I need a ghostwriter? One that plays golf, wears poly- 
ester and could write for me dressed as Elvis and then tell me to my face 
that I'm useless, a loser, can't write, or play golf. 

It is always good to get a second opinion. 

After saving my writing, I closed the computer, and went to go 
make myself some food. Then the phone calls started. Friends wonder- 
ing if I'd seen the news, the stock market a floundering mess because 
Congress had refused to bail out the financial sector. Wall Street scream- 
ing that Marx was right and it was time for Socialism. Bush proclaiming 
it the fault of the Democrats influenced by foreign investors. Cheney 
silent as usual as he waited for his farewell bonus from the American 
people. 

20 O'Neil 



Hanging up the phone, I resisted the urge to check the Internet 
and jump right in with the rest of America as the fear factor was once 
again being turned up a notch. There was fuck-all I could do at this point 
and wrapping myself in anxiety wasn't going to help. Somehow I knew 
the universe was going to right itself, even if that meant 1929 was back 
again for a replay. 

Somewhere in the middle of my plate of rice and beans, I stopped 
thinking about the economy and remembered my writing and thought 
maybe I was being a little too hard on myself. Maybe it just wasn't time 
to write and instead I should focus on the good in my life and worry 
about finishing the book when it comes, after all this morning's brush- 
ing experience had been nothing short of amazing. Afterward I felt those 
little areas, the one's between the teeth, deep in the gums, and I knew 
that I had been shorting myself on preventive dentistry maintenance, 
and I was a tad overjoyed at the prospect of future gum stimulation and 
shiny white teeth. 

Perhaps that is what I should write about? 

"The Oral-B Vitality Precision Clean rechargeable electric tooth- 
brush reduces up to 2X more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush 
which can cause gingivitis. It uses Advanced Cleaning Technology to 
surround each tooth and removes plaque for a clean feeling and healthy 
gums. Superior stain removal versus a regular manual brush means 
teeth are naturally whitened. 

Precision Clean brush head moves 7,600 times per minute, sur- 
rounding each tooth, for thorough cleaning that can help prevent gin- 
givitis. And you can even interchange Oral-B Dual Clean or Pro White 
brush heads on your Precision Clean toothbrush handle. Plus, now you 
can enjoy a choice of limited edition Vitality handle colors to match your 
decor."* 

Yes, the simple pleasures in life... 

And now, Barack. What the hell else were we gonna do? 



* lifted without permission from the Oral B website. (http://www.seize- 
oralbpower.com/us/mypowerchallenge/products/vitalityPrecision. asp) 

O'Neil 21 




Needles Motel Lot 
Danielle Arender 



22 Arender 



Marvin Bell 

The Book of the Dead Man (The Dare) 

Live as if you were already dead. 

Zen admonition 

1. About the Dead Man and the Dare 

The dead man edges toward the precipice because he dares. 
He dares to wake the audience. 

He is of a mind to taunt and defy, to provoke and to goad. 
The dead man urges the stuntman to repeat his death defying 

spectacular. 
He dares the trapeze artist and the wire walker to flaunt their 

nonchalance. 
He is of a mind to exploit the acrobatic. 
Where in the lexicon of good government did threat and menace replace 

courage? 
The dead man is a reminder to the lawmakers. 
It was dead men who won the revolution. 
It was dead men who wrote the laws. 
It was dead men who armed the citizenry that they might turn on one 

another. 
It was dead men who defended the cities, and it is dead men whose 

names are etched in the town squares. 
The dead man dares to tell you what you know you know. 
The dead man would have dared more, had he known the outcome of 

waiting. 
To the dead man, existence is like a bungee on which he must fall and 

rise, and fall again, until the distance is erased between up and 

down. 
It was a split-second decision to take the cord and jump. 
The dead man was a thought that became tactile, became palpable, 

some like to call him corporeal. 

BELL 23 



The dead man is the overarching presence, the coverall that let him 

kneel, the tarp that covered the weapons, the canvas bag, the 
muslin sail, the percale sheet, the cotton handkerchief into which 
he breathed. 

Tell him you know. 

Cover your mouth if you need to, but speak up. 

2. More About the Dead Man and the Dare 

The dead man has been afflicted by life, no complaint there. 

The dead man does not make more of it than it was. 

How best to call out the unjust and violent, the barons, the 

conglomerates, the cabals, the cartels and all who rise on the 

bent backs of others. 
It is the dead man's place to call them out. 
Everyone believes a dead man, and all men are dead men, we can get 

together and dismiss those who are daring us to. 
The dead man says you know. 
The dead man lives serenely in the backyards, in the surrounding 

farmlands, by the sides of ski trails and firebreaks, he is the one 

who will be coming from every direction. 
The dead man's studies do not conclude, his decisions are not 

countermanded, the outcome of his being both here and gone 

can only mean that there will be daring. 
The dead man has endowed daring in the arts but also in the streets. 
He has fomented peace and made himself present on the battlefields. 
He has placed himself in the way, who will step over him? 
Now he asks you to whistle up your daring. 

The dead man thinks there is enough in the dumpsters to feed an army. 
The dead man hears the senators in the cloak room. 
To the dead man, their language is flame retardant, their speeches are 

the cracking under the ice. 
The dead man will turn the page if you will. 

The dead man will lie prone to see into the abyss if you are beside him. 
The dead man does not dare to say how happy he was. 
It was the daredevil moment, when he decided. 
He dared, he chose, he spun round, and in time the ground settled. 
Here he stands, the dead man in his composure, but do you dare? 

24 Bell 




Marvin Bell 
Photo by John Campbell 



Bell 25 



Ileanna Portillo 

Dancing with the Dead Man: An Interview with Marvin Bell 

The car was hot at three in the afternoon, and although my in- 
ternship at a small press is situated in a quiet residential neigh- 
borhood in the Valley, I had to give in and close the windows 
so I could hear Marvin Bell on the phone. Having never met him before, 
I was nervous about calling him for our interview, even though we had 
been exchanging emails leading up to it. 

I did see Bell once, this past January at AWP in New York City. 
The conference for authors and those involved in writing programs at- 
tracts the literati to a hotel for a few days each year to hear readings 
by eminent writers and attend panels about what's new in the literary 
world. I was in the lobby of the Hilton New York waiting for the rest of 
my group when I saw a gentleman who looked lost. I had been watching 
him for a minute as he circled the lobby and was just about to go offer 
my help when someone in my group informed me who he was. I didn't 
end up helping him, but I'm sure he found his way just fine. I am also 
glad that was not the last chance I would have to speak to a man who has 
been called one of the most influential poets of his generation. 

The author of several books, Marvin Bell was born in 1937 in 
New York City but grew up in Center Moriches, Long Island. He taught 
at the prestigious University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop for more than 
thirty years as the Flannery O'Connor Professor of Letters. Currently 
he teaches for the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University in 
Forest Grove, Oregon. His most recent book of poems, Mars Being Red 
(Copper Canyon Press 2007) takes a path away from most contemporary 
poetry (which tends to stay away from political themes) and speaks out 
against the current administration and the Iraq war. 

Though he can be very outspoken about current political events 
in his poetry, he is down to earth and funny on the phone. Bell is of- 
ten traveling, and when I called him I caught him at his home in Port 
Townsend, Washington. The duplex is made up of two one-bedroom 

26 Portillo 



units side by side. Bell likes to open up both of the houses and use one of 
them as his study. He and his wife began visiting Port Townsend twenty- 
four years ago for short respites, but now they spend up to four months 
at a time there. 

Over the phone, Bell kindly describes the scene in his study for 
me. The desk he and Sam Hamill — founding editor of Copper Canyon 
Press — built is ten paces across, according to the size of Marvin Bell's 
shoe. It faces a big window, which overlooks the street and further out 
the water where the ferry runs from Port Townsend to Keystone. Out- 
side, the wind is blowing, moving the trees about. 

My correspondence with Bell, over one phone conversation and 
various email exchanges, spanned the western portion of the United 
States from Los Angeles to Port Townsend, Washington, from Missoula, 
Montana, to Buffalo, Wyoming. 

— Ileanna Portillo 

Who in your life encouraged your literary endeavors? 

The poet John Logan may have been the first older, established poet 
to indicate that I might have some ability. That was in 1959 or so, in 
Chicago, when I took a class with Logan. Along the way, there were good 
friends and kind editors. I cherished encouragement from others, but I 
didn't depend on it. I encouraged myself. 

Where else does your spirit of independence and self-reliance come from? 

I have one sibling, a sister four years older. My father, who died when 
I was a young man, came to the U.S. from Ukraine as a teenager. If I 
complained about an adult, he would say, "Well, he has to make a living, 
too." 

In general, what would you say you are trying to reach in any given poem ? Do 
you have a goal in mind? 

My goal is always to express the otherwise inexpressible. Also, to make 

Portillo 27 



something original in the language. To make a whole of seemingly dis- 
parate elements. And sometimes to call out the fools and war criminals. 
But I don't start a poem from an idea or a program. I start from my 
senses, which includes that sensory organ we call the brain. 

What was the process of writing the Dead Man poem you wrote for 
Audemus about "The Dare?" 

I am guilty of having created the form known as the "dead man poem," 
so by now I know it well. In this case, I took the concept of daring and 
ran with it, welcoming into the poem ideas, personal memory, and, as it 
went on, subterranean political feelings. The dead man is alive and dead 
at the same time. That allows him to burrow into the earth one moment, 
and the next moment to transcend the earthly. 

Why has the Dead Man form been labeled "infamous?" 

Oh, that's just shortcut for saying some readers hate it. I can imagine 
that those who are sure they know what poetry is, and should be, might 
not cotton to the form. It's experimental. It does away with the enjamb- 
ments that writers of free verse are so beholden to. It has an overtly 
philosophical character. It can get fiercely sociopolitical. It puts together 
all sorts of things that arrive from every direction. It is neither linear nor 
proudly nonlinear. Dead Man poems are not like other poems, which is 
enough to discombobulate some people. The very idea of two titled sec- 
tions is enough to undermine some 

expectations. "You thought the poem was finished? Nope, it can go on. 
It can always go on." 

You've called the Dead Man not a persona, but "rather, an overarching con- 
sciousness" Can you elaborate on that? 

His voice is more universal than that of a persona. And he is both dead 
and alive at the same time. If he were a persona, you'd know what sort 
of shirt he wears, or have a good guess, but for all you know he's wearing 
grass or nothing at all. The voice in a dead man poem is bigger than the 

28 Portillo 



voice in a persona poem. It can seem to come from a great distance or 
be nearby. 

You've been writing Dead Man poems since 1990. How have they evolved 
since then? 

I no longer include the bad jokes that the early dead man poems some- 
times liked. And I have come to like using the form to write occasional 
poems—such as when asked to contribute a poem to Audemus. In recent 
months, I have written dead man poems in response to requests to pro- 
vide a poem about a river that flooded, and another about Mount Rush- 
more. The Mount Rushmore one got political in a hurry. I wrote one for 
a magazine in Texas about borders. I wrote one for a collection of "new 
odes." I'm always willing to try. 

Are today's politics influencing the writing you're currently working on? 

I have always written poems of sociopolitical content, but lately the so- 
ciopolitical seems to be inescapable. Warfare, torture, corruption, inept- 
itude rising to the level of evil, and all the while decent people trying to 
make a living and a life. How can anyone of a certain age avoid it? Don't 
forget: I'm a geezer. I have lived through several major wars and a whole 
lot of bad politics. 

What purpose does political poetry serve for you? 

Can't help it. I'm a citizen. I'm a voter. I'm a veteran. 

What purpose do you think your political poetry serves to your readers? 

I wouldn't know. I think political poetry can be part of whatever consen- 
sus may be growing. Political poetry doesn't stop a war, say. But it is part 
of the voice of a citizenry that decides to stop one. 

You've said about poetry that it is "a manifestation of more important things. 
On the one hand, it's poetry! On the other hand, it's just poetry." Do you ever 

PORTILLO 29 



wonder about the state of literature in general? Will young people especially 
always want to read books? 

There will always be readers. It doesn't matter how many. Poetry that, 
in any way, pushes the envelope will always have a specialized audience. 
And that's okay. The person who gets the most out of a poem is the per- 
son who writes it. 

Will people always want to read poetry? Why? 

Some will, I think. Why? Because they have an ear for verbal music, a 
mind for the poetic brain, a love of invention, a feel for the truth of the 
imagination, or maybe just because they are the sort of people who pay 
attention to their inner lives. Because, after all, that's where life is felt- 
-inside. 



30 Portillo 




Peace Be With You 



Esteban Jesus Cons Narvaez 



Narvaez 3 1 



Riley Wilkinson 

Judith and I 

Scarlet ripe tomatoes litter the ground beneath the garden's cano- 
py of green, amidst the basil and squash. A few of them sit right 
in the path of the late afternoon sun, pulling in the warm rays like 
red magnetic orbs, pulsating on the ground in Technicolor. If I close my 
eyes, I can see only spots of red piercing through gauzy leaves of dappled 
green. Airplanes sporadically cross the sky overhead and bisect the open 
patch of blue wash between the roofhne and the tops of the still verdant 
treetops. 

This is the waning of summer. This is the putting away of idle 
time. SPF goes into storage. Swimsuits fall out of fashion. I can hear 
sweaters being pulled out of storage in quiet rooms within the house. At 
least, I imagine I can hear this. 

She exhales her cigarette next to me into the air, sexily. Her feet 
are sunk down into the grass. She's blowing the smoke up and her neck 
is silken, tan, shining. The cicadas whir louder and louder and in unison 
with the mower while she exhales. 

Heat, smoke, buzzing. 

We're silent. 

Beyond the edge of the lawn is where the forest begins. It is a 
distinct dark wall and another world in its own deluge of sound. The 
high croaks of toads and the chirps of crickets seem like such a contra- 
diction to the cloud of heat I stand in. They'll soon hasten their beat and 
swell with volume as the sun trades places with the moon. We'll be at the 
table under a lamp by then, licking sauce and wine and thinking about 
kissing. 

My heels are wet and green. Cut grass sticks in between my 
toes. This smell of blades broken, julienned, mixes with the clouds of 
exhaust the mower leaves behind. Santiago pushes it steadily with its 
motor sputtering while Judith and I watch. He's coming into view again, 
back from the front side of the house. His t-shirt sticks to him and we 

32 Wilkinson 



just stand and stare without words. 

Judith exhales again and opens her eyes to the sky. A leaf falls 
behind her and lands on the cracked planks of the deck. An edging of red 
outlines this leaf. 

I'm staring deeply at the leaf and nobody feels the sadness I see 
in what is merely going to fade away into a summer of moments just 
like this; these moments when Judith and I are silent and in our perfect 
youth, unafraid of the cold seasons ahead. 

Santiago mows. More leaves fall. Judith exhales again and looks 
at me, saying nothing. 



Wilkinson 33 





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34 Rodriguez 



Danielle Arender 

When I Was 

You 

I crashed my tricycle 

on the sidewalk at two. 

My mom panicked, 

the paramedics came, and 

my older sister had to 

eat my melting popsicle for me. 

I had cut open my chin 

and blood was everywhere. 

My mom didn't even care 

it was getting on the sofa. 

I got butterfly stitches 

and later a small scar. 

I was two 

but I remember this story 

because my mom or my sister 

would tell it to me. 

Though I was only two years old 

That day I learned something about humanity 

and what it means 

to be cared for 

by a stranger from an ambulance 

or your sister 

standing next to you 

with popsicle juice down her fingers. 



Arender 35 



Me 



At 7 I wished like a mother 

that I could take away your pain 

Small brown ringers of one hand 

clutched around a popside stick. 

The ringers of the other hand 

waiting but helpless 

on the arm of the couch, 

saying my own kind of prayer. 

The red sticky juice running to my elbow 

the bright blood running down your jaw 

as the tallest people I'd ever seen 

worked on you and talked only to each other. 

And now you've hanged yourself 
while our parents slept upstairs 
and I was 1,912 miles away from you. 
And the brown couch is gone 
but I'm left remembering 
blood seeping through 
the thin skin of your chin 
butterfly stitches 
and popside juice. 



36 Arender 



Leonard Chang 

Q-Zom hies 

My interest in zombies began at twelve years old when I 
watched George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead on 
TV, one of the many late nights when my drunk father had 
passed out in his bedroom and my mother had curled up on the living 
room sofa with one of the cushions as a pillow — leaving crisscrossing 
indentations on her cheek — and an old electric blanket that no longer 
worked draped around her legs. 

I had my own room in the basement with a TV I had hooked up 
to an antenna outside, the antenna wire running through the translu- 
cent slat basement windows and leaving an opening large enough for a 
constant draft. I didn't like turning on the heat because the old base- 
board units creaked and groaned all night and scared me. There were 
also insects, particularly beetles and crickets, living in the heaters, and 
whenever I turned the thermostat up I'd find the bugs dragging their 
deformed and burned bodies across my carpet, their spiny legs getting 
caught in the fibers. I once woke up to find a beetle on my pillow, almost 
eye to eye. In my half-sleepy state I wasn't sure what I was looking at 
until the antennae flickered up and down. I yelped, and with a rush of 
adrenaline jumped a few feet off the futon. I vowed never to use the heat 
again. 

So I huddled under my blue plaid sleeping bag and extra com- 
forters, read novels and watched TV. Although I was an avid reader, I was 
also addicted to movies. I loved Kung-fu flicks, the poorly dubbed Shaw 
brother's classics with titles like The Five Deadly Venoms or Shaolin Blood- 
shed, and science fiction, anything related to Star Wars or Star Trek. It 
wasn't much of a leap from science fiction to horror, since many movies 
blended the two, but my interest in horror stopped at truly frightening 
movies that exploited my limited and uneasy understanding of evil and 
the devil, since my mother was a Bible teacher at Sunday school. 

A movie like Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, in which little wrinkled 

Chang 37 



homunculi with razor blades and nasty murderous intentions who could 
only come out in the darkness kept my lights on for weeks. Poor Sally, 
whom nobody believed, kept trying to tell her husband about the de- 
monic creatures, but the little men only seemed to appear to her. The 
glimpses we had of the red-faced killing demons scared the hell out of 
me. My basement was often dark. There could very well be little mur- 
derous men hiding under the stairs or in the boiler room that hissed at 
me. But zombies were different. I realized this after watching Romero's 
movie. 

The horrors in Night of the Living Dead were frightening enough 
to keep me riveted, but not so frightening that I wouldn't be able to 
sleep. It was the perfect mix of thrill, fear and manageable dread. It 
helped that the zombies were slow moving and even half-comic in their 
relentless, encroachment on the people hiding out in a small farmhouse. 
There was enough gore and surprises to keep it scary, but not too scary. 
The movie was also in black and white, which helped me by muting the 
gore and giving the film a deceptively dated sensibility, further distanc- 
ing me from it. 

Night of the Living Dead was, I later learned, a particularly good 
entry in the genre because of the way Romero integrated social and ra- 
cial issues into the film, something I noticed in a distracted way — for 
example, one of the racist members of the make-shift posse kills the 
sole African-American man in the house under siege without a second 
thought — but these subtexts didn't really register until years later. 

I began seeking out zombie movies from that point on, often 
scanning TV listings for the word "Dead" in the titles, and would often 
go over to my friend Scott's house, since he had cable TV and access to 
the premium movie channels. 

But what exactly is a zombie? The standard definition and un- 
derstanding of what a zombie is should be known to everyone. This is 
crucial for surviving the next apocalypse. But for those who aren't sure: 
a zombie is a corpse that has come back to life. It's the undead. 

Most people believe zombies to be strictly a fictional construct, 
a plot device really, to propel the story forward and put the protagonists 
in jeopardy. Zombies, to the uninitiated, have the same level of believ- 
ability as a vampire or werewolf, or even something more potentially 

38 Chang 



silly. It's true that zombies in movies have often had a comic quality to 
them, but in recent years, more animalistic and predatory traits. What 
many people don't know is that the concept of the zombie has been 
around for hundreds of years. During the Middle Ages, a variant of the 
zombie existed in French folklore, with the dead coming back to life to 
pursue the murderers who had sent them to the grave. In many ancient 
cultures the return of the dead was a common motif, a corporeal ghost 
to come haunt the living. 

Zombies were explored by Canadian Ethnobotonist Wade Davis 
in the 1980's as an actual phenomenon. Although his research methods 
were suspect and plenty of critical objections were raised once his book 
The Serpent and the Rainbow was published, he did come up with some in- 
teresting theories. By analyzing the powders that witch doctors used on 
victims, Davis found some common ingredients, including neurotoxins 
present in puffy fish and tree frogs, toxins that could conceivably shut 
down a person's metabolic activity to give the appearance of death, and 
then, once the effects wore off, the person would arise from death in a 
zombified state. Of course they weren't lusting after human flesh, but 
it's not too difficult to imagine, considering the origins of the zombie 
and the folklore that sprouted from these origins. Davis went as far as 
to argue that this intentional zombification was a common practice in 
some Haitian secret societies, a punishment to keep everyone in check. 
Even fifty years before Wade Davis wrote about Haitian zombies, Zora 
Neale Hurston, while researching Haitian folklore for her essay Tell my 
Horse, came across stories of people who had died and been buried, only 
to reappear later, sometimes decades later. 

I've been thinking about zombies recently for a number of rea- 
sons. A friend of mine is a very big fan of the genre — he is a filmmaker 
and has in fact made a zombie movie, the title of which he doesn't want 
me to reveal. After the recent spate of zombie films that have come out, 
films that have updated not just the atmosphere of the genre, but the 
zombies themselves reflecting the sophisticated tastes of moviegoers, 
we've been talking about what the next stage in their cinematic evo- 
lution may be. Our discussions prompted me to wonder why zombies 
continue to fascinate me, why I'll sit through the poorly written, poorly 

Chang 39 



directed and poorly acted movies just to see if there's something differ- 
ent and unique about this depiction. I'm almost always disappointed, 
but optimistically continue to rent movies like Zombie Honeymoon, Zom- 
bies Gone Wild or Nudist Colony of the Dead. 

Is it the idea of returning from the dead that compels me to 
continue watching? This is definitely part of my interest, undoubtedly 
prompted by my relatively short but complete semi-religious upbring- 
ing. It was short because my mother became a Bible teacher for only a 
handful of my teen years. Once she divorced my alcoholic father and was 
burdened with raising three kids on her own, she found that religion was 

a solace she no longer had time for. 

* * * 

Philosophers love zombies. The undead have a peculiar function 
in the philosophical world because they are metaphysically possible. We 
can conceive of their existence — not necessarily the flesh-eating kind, 
but the unconscious, physical manifestation of the walking dead kind. 
This poses questions as to what exactly we are as thinking, rational be- 
ings compared to zombies. 

Zombies are generally mindless, motivated by instinct, and pro- 
pelled by the basic desire of hunger. They move in herds, often following 
other zombies for no real reason. Philosophers often label these zom- 
bies "p-zombies", or "philosophical zombies" because they are human 
beings without consciousness — they may have physical reactions to 
pain or pleasure but they don't truly experience the mental states — and 
yet still function as physical beings. 

This notion of mindless human beings without any true con- 
sciousness isn't really an unusual phenomenon. In fact, this possibly 
describes most people. I can look out my window on a weekday morn- 
ing and see commuters gathering at the carpool corner, briefcases and 
bags in hand, iPod headphones in their ears, and a distracted expression 
on their faces as they line up and slowly pile into cars heading into San 
Francisco. 

My father used to be one of these commuters. He took the train 
from our small suburban Long Island town of Merrick into Manhattan, 
and worked in various capacities for commercial banks. After returning 
home he'd start drinking beers, and then eventually would move onto 

40 Chang 



whiskey. Most of my memories are of him sitting on the sofa, watching 
TV, with a tumbler of Jack Daniel's in his hand. He was a functional alco- 
holic who grew more and more frustrated with his life until he destroyed 
everyone and everything around him. 

A former commando in the Korean Navy whose violent reputa- 
tion followed him to the U.S. — another ex-Navy SEAL recognized him at 
a Korean church and told my mother who her husband really was — my 
father seemed to plod through his days and stumble through his nights 
with a mindlessness punctuated by drunken violence. 

There was one time, in a moment of rare sobriety, when he told 
me that all his life he just wanted to buy a big sailboat and live on the 
sea. I remember this vividly because it was such a surprise to hear any 
kind of personal revelation, especially one that seemed to rise above the 
din of his many pathological lies about himself. I've become very good at 
detecting liars. 

But this lifelong desire of his to live on a sailboat made sense 
to me, since I remember seeing boating magazines on his bookshelf and 
blueprints for a small wooden carver hull sailboat. 

What I never did understand was if this was his dream, why 
he then constantly anchored himself to his wives (three, and counting) 
and why he continued to pursue a career in business for which he was so 
obviously ill-equipped (fired a number of times, and even sued at least 
once). There were many times in his life, particularly in between wives, 
when he could've pursued this goal of his, but instead shacked up with 
another woman and started another job and found himself exactly in 
the same place he detested: on land, with a family he resented, a job he 
hated, a life from which he fled into alcohol. 

The stories I heard about him came from my mother, who knew 
much of his background not just from him, but also from his mother, 
and she had also known his first wife because they had gone to the same 
high school. The son of a drug runner who often abused him and disap- 
peared without much warning, my father often had the difficult task 
of finding his father and bringing him back, once even having to sneak 
into China. An irresponsible and volatile man, my grandfather had ap- 
parently foisted the responsibilities of the family onto my father. When 
the responsibilities became too much for him, my father ran away from 

Chang 41 



home and joined the Korean Naval Academy before the start of the Ko- 
rean War, and became a commando. He thrived in the Navy, and during 
the war had achieved a reputation for his ruthless and sadistic interroga- 
tion of Chinese prisoners of war. After the war he emigrated to the U.S., 
married, had a son, and his wife abandoned both of them shortly after 
the birth. A few years later he married my mother, who raised my half- 
brother, me, and my sister. She divorced him after over a dozen years of 
abuse. 

One story my mother told me was of him beating her while she 
was pregnant with me, repeatedly kicking her stomach. I always won- 
dered if somehow I knew this in utero, because of his three children I am 
the one with the most animosity toward him. 

I haven't spoken to my father in over sixteen years, but the last 
time I saw him he threw me out of his office. I had told him bluntly that I 
didn't think he was in any position to give me advice about my life since 
his seemed like such a failure. Yes, I was goading him. Yes, I was seeing 
how far I could push him before he would rear up and threaten me. But I 
was no longer a frightened eight-year-old, and couldn't help telling him 
exactly how I felt, which was scornful and dismissive. He was trying to 
advise me about my post-collegiate life and my career at that point as 
a teacher. He said something about starting a family and getting on a 
career track in business. I kept asking why. Why should I start a family 
when I didn't want kids at the time? Why should I work for a company 
when I really wanted to be a writer? 

He spouted platitudes. He talked about the "American way." 
I realized that he really didn't have an answer. I reminded him of his 
dream of living on a sailboat and how every year he grew older the dream 
was less likely. I reminded him of what having a family and a career he 
hated had done to him. I reminded him of the times he would get drunk 
and beat my mother, and how he probably had a bottle of whiskey in his 
desk right now. 

That was when he threw me out. 

That was also when I decided not to take the paralegal job at Sul- 
livan & Cromwell, when I decided to attend graduate school for creative 
writing, and when I committed myself to finishing a novel I had begun 
a few months earlier. I knew with more certainty the kind of life I didn't 

42 Chang 



want — my father's — and wondered if he ever thought about why he was 
so miserable. 

Not too long ago I heard that his last wife had stolen money 
from him and disappeared, and he was living alone, his health failing, 
and he had found religion. Instead of trying to live a life he viewed as the 
American way, he is now living the Jesus way. He simply replaced one 
with another, and is now landlocked somewhere in Georgia. 

Sometimes I wonder what would' ve become of his life had 
he done what he truly wanted to. I understand the responsibilities he 
thought he had, and the pressures he undoubtedly faced, and I could 
easily imagine his motivation for trying to live the American way, but 
what's the point of staying with a family if he was just going to beat 
them? What's the point of working jobs he hated if he was only to be 
fired from them? Once my mother left him she made more than enough 
money to support us. In fact she bloomed without him. Why didn't he 
run off and live on the sea? 

He was undoubtedly following the advice he had given me, but 
in doing so was ignoring the inner calling that probably would' ve made 
him happy. He was doing what he thought he had to, and hated it. He 
was following the herd, waiting on top of the Long Island Railroad plat- 
form, filing into the grey metal trains, and being shuttled into Manhat- 
tan, and it was killing him. 

My father is another kind of zombie, one that I would call a "q- 
zombie," a quotidian zombie who moves through everyday life, doing 
what is expected of him, and rarely achieving any kind of consciousness 
of what he is doing. Q-zombies may have glimmers of self-consciousness 
that they repress with drugs or alcohol or a series of sophisticated denial 
strategies, but for the most part they just don't think about what or why 
they are doing what they are doing. Like most zombies in the movies, 

they stagger with the herd. 

* * * 

The zombie metaphor is reductive and simplistic, but unavoidable. 
Whether it's a contrived goal of a house in the suburbs, a picturesque 
family and an SUV in the driveway, or a life devoted to the Bible, my fa- 
ther seemed too easily drawn onto a path that required little self-reflec- 
tion. Perhaps his newfound faith may force the kind of consciousness he 

Chang 43 



needs to understand what havoc his life had wrought, but judging from 
the stories I hear from my siblings, that my father is content to spout 
platitudes of a different kind to them, I doubt it. 

I can still picture my father vividly sitting at the dinner table, 
red-faced and slurring, as all of us sat quietly, each one of us getting 
lectured about something. The more he drank the more his voice would 
get both animated and harsh at the same time, and the leaps in logic 
from one topic to another became bewildering. What happened from 
that point on was a balancing act. If any of us argued with him, contra- 
dicted him in any way, we'd set him off. Once, when for some reason the 
conversation turned to the post office, and I told him that we could leave 
our outgoing mail in our mailbox, he flatly denied this was possible. We 
had to drop letters off at the corner box, he said. Because I had been 
ordering Kung Fu supplies by mail order, and because I had been to the 
post office that week, I had read a poster that listed the ways to send 
letters, and one of the options was leaving the mail in your box for the 
postman to pick up. I insisted I was right. I had read the poster just a few 
days ago. My father said this couldn't be. 

My mother once told me that I was one of the most stubborn 
children she had ever known, and despite my father's growing drunken- 
ness, despite my full awareness of what would happen, I shook my head 
and told him he was wrong. 

Everyone grew still as my father bared his teeth in disgust. He 
sucked in air and slapped his hand on the table, which made everyone 
jump. Everything happened quickly. He moved fast. He lurched out of 
his chair and pushed me up against the wall; he gripped my shoulder and 
yelled at me never to disrespect him again. My sister began crying, my 
brother slipped away out back, and my mother screamed at my father to 
leave me alone. 

I saw something in my father's bloodshot eyes — a moment of regret, 
an embarrassment, a hitch in his anger — that made him pause for an 
instant, and he shoved me away and ordered me to leave the house and 
not come back. I yelled back, "Fine!" and stomped out of the house. 

I remember that night so clearly not because of what happened 
at the dinner table, but because of what happened afterwards. When 
I was about three blocks away, walking at first without any real desti- 

44 Chang 



nation until I decided to go to the Merrick Library, which along with 
the train platform were my favorite escapes, I heard my sister's terrified 
voice calling my name. When I turned around, I saw her on her tiny pink 
bicycle, racing to catch up to me, her short legs pedaling in a blur. She 
kept yelling my name and asking me to wait up. She was afraid I was 
really leaving forever, and she didn't want to be left there alone. I think 
that was one of the first times I realized how much I loved her. 

I took her with me to the library, and we sat in the downstairs 
children's room, choosing books to check out. 

But when I think back to that moment when my father's eyes 
seemed to register something, when he seemed to hesitate before hit- 
ting me, when my mother's pleas and my sister's crying seemed to halt 
him, I wonder if at that precise moment when he wasn't drunk enough 
to ignore everyone, including his own sense of guilt, I wonder if he had 
a glimmer of what he was doing and who he had become. I wonder if at 
that moment there was a spark of consciousness that stopped him, that 
caused him to push me away and order me out instead of beating me. 
And then, he quickly doused that tiny spark with more Jack Daniel's and 

returned to his oblivion. 

* * * 

The fact is that true self-consciousness is difficult and frightening. 
George A. Romero has been pushing his zombies toward more self-con- 
sciousness, beginning with the zombie named "Bub" in Day of the Dead, 
who could learn activities, and, more recently, the zombies in the 2005's 
Land of the Dead, where Big Daddy and his zombie brethren learn to team 
up and fire automatic weapons. Purists decry this movement away from 
the mindless versions, and other zombie films, such as Danny Boyle's 
28 Days Later, update the zombies as instinctual and aggressive killers, 
amplifying the threat by making these modern-day zombies faster and 
more predatory. This is a development that is completely predictable — 
contemporary audiences don't have the patience for slow-moving zom- 
bies, and with the popularity of torture porn, or the Saw and Hostel- 
esque gruesome blood fests, the threshold for horror has been raised to 
disturbing levels. 

But the cinematic evolution of self-conscious zombies seems 
unstoppable. There have always been glimpses of consciousness in zom- 

Chang 45 



bies — momentary memories of former lives and routines — but true 
self-awareness is yet to come. I am waiting for the pivotal Cartesian 
scene in a zombie movie in which a zombie thinks and therefore exists 
to him or herself (or itself). I want to see a zombie realize that he or she 
is a zombie. 

If Romero's zombies are evolving into more aware beings, then 
the next steps are clear. Imagine a zombie film in which the zombies, 
either infected by a bite or an airborne virus, move from one generation 
to the next with more cognitive abilities. After all, if zombification has 
a viral source, and viruses replicate rapidly and can evolve and adapt to 
a host, then why couldn't each successive new zombie have symptoms 
that reflect a burgeoning consciousness? 

When I studied genetics in high school we used fruit flies to 
track hereditary characteristics in successive generations. Their life 
cycles were quick enough to see results within days. The replication of 
zombies is even faster than fruit flies. One bite and you're a zombie. 
When you, as a zombie, bite someone else, he or she becomes one. Now 
imagine there's something in the virus that allows for some conscious- 
ness, and each successive generation of bitten zombie retains more and 
more of that consciousness. 

Maybe you're in a haze of anguished bloodlust. All you know, 
as a zombie, is that you must have fresh human meat. It's not even a 
conscious desire but an instinctual action - you smell human flesh and 
you scramble for it. The hunger is beyond hunger — it's excruciating and 
tormenting. You exist like this for days, weeks, even months. 

But something is changing. You have inexplicable flashes of 
puzzling images, memories of something you're not sure of, but which 
you may have some connection to. When you see your victims screaming 
and running, you have a brief and fleeting image of a woman, an older 
woman, running down the hall, crying, running from a drunken man. 
The way the people slam into each other as they try to escape somehow 
reminds you of the woman slamming into a wall and struggling away. 

You stop, not sure where this came from. You shake it off and 
continue chasing your victims. The smell of flesh is overpowering. Your 
starvation is searing through you. Nothing but tendon and muscle and 
fat and blood will ease the anguish. When you catch a victim and tear at 

46 Chang 



her flesh, gorging yourself on her entrails, you hear her cry out for mercy 
and for God to help her, but the only thing that registers is the screech- 
ing of the other zombies tearing at other victims. 

Then, after you have satiated yourself, the hunger easing, you 
look up. Without the craving for flesh driving you, something is differ- 
ent. You see more. You're more confused. The screams of the other vic- 
tims dizzy you. The other zombies then move on, having sniffed more 
fresh humans in the distance. The herd of zombies runs off, and you are 
compelled to follow them. They run through a playground, long since 
abandoned, chasing another group of frightened humans. One man gets 
entangled in a small child's bicycle and stumbles, his leg lodged in the 
rusted wheel. A hoard of zombies pounce on him and begin tearing him 
apart. You move toward them out of instinct, though you're not hun- 
gry. You look at the bicycle, and something shifts inside you. The bicycle 
is somehow... familiar. It's pink with a white wicker basket. The wheels 
are so small. There are streamers on the handgrips. Then, an image of a 
little girl pedaling as fast as she can flashes through you. The little girl 
is calling out a name. Your name. She is asking you to wait up. She ped- 
als faster. You stare. The little girl's voice echoing in your head is your 
sister's voice. 

You move closer to the bicycle, and you see in the small handle- 
bar mirror another zombie with blood running down his chin. Again 
there's something familiar. And when you move, the zombie moves. You 
touch your face, and the zombie touches his. Then, slowly, you begin to 
understand that the mirror is showing a reflection of yourself. You back 
away, still touching your face. You look down at your fingers and see 
blood. 

You look at the bicycle. You see the pedals and think of your 
sister racing to catch up with you. You remember your sister. And then, 
you look at your decomposing fingers, your hands with the skin falling 
off and bones exposed. You begin shaking. You look in the handlbar mir- 
ror again. You remember what you used to be like. You are... you are a 
zombie. You realize you have just murdered another human being. You 
hear the screams of the victims around you. You think about your sister. 
You let out a long, mournful screech in a voice you don't recognize. You 
fall to your knees. Where is your sister? What happened to you? 

Chang 47 



You watch the hoard of zombies rush off to find more victims, 
but you can't seem to stand up anymore. You sink to the ground and curl 

up. 

* * * 

This idea of q-zombies was prompted not just by my conversa- 
tions with my filmmaker friend, but also because I've entered a period of 
major reevaluation, prompted by my 39 th birthday. I realized that I had 
been writing for almost twenty years — not just writing, but living the 
writer's life, with the same daily schedule of waking up at dawn, writ- 
ing at my computer, and publishing stories, novels and essays for two 
decades. What startled me was that it doesn't seem like twenty years, 
yet I remember very clearly my decision to live the life of a writer, based 
on the biographies I read of Hemingway, Faulkner and other contempo- 
rary writers I admired — I learned that the only way to be a writer was 
to write every day, so when I was a junior in college I started the routine 
of writing in the mornings. I was living in Boston with roommates, and 
had my own coffee machine in my bedroom, and would wake up without 
my alarm while it was still dark. I'd start the coffee, shuffle to my desk, 
and get to work. 

Six novels later I find myself doing exactly the same thing. Right 
now, in fact, I am writing this at my desk in Oakland, California. It's 
seven-thirty in the morning. The sun is casting an orange glow across 
Lake Merritt. 

I've always periodically stopped and looked around, taken a sur- 
vey of my life and asked if everything was moving along as I wanted. For 
the first time in a very long time I looked around and suddenly wasn't 
sure if I was on track. 

This happened before, when I was sophomore in college, and 
was on a pre-law, pre-business track, taking courses in money and bank- 
ing, preparing for the LSAT's and GMAT's, and was profoundly unhappy. 
I was drinking a lot, often getting wildly drunk three to four nights a 
week, becoming depressed, and feeling as if I wasn't accomplishing any- 
thing, and certainly not getting my money's worth as I sunk deeper in 
debt to pay for school. I was doing what all my other classmates were 
doing, especially moving along a pre-professional track, and I didn't like 
it. 

48 Chang 



I woke up one morning and knew something was wrong. I 
couldn't be there anymore. I packed everything I could into my car, and 
left. I dropped out of college, joined the Peace Corps, and became com- 
mitted to being a writer. When I returned to a different college as a ju- 
nior, I knew what I had to do to become a writer, and that was when I 
began my daily writing routine. 

Two decades later, I find myself with a familiar and unsettling 
feeling of restlessness and uncertainty. The major difference between 
then and now is that I'm doing what I want to be doing, and yet it's not 
entirely satisfying. 

I am worried that I am becoming a q-zombie. True, I am living 
a life that some would envy, and I don't regret any of my decisions, but 
I'm worried that I've fallen into a life without enough contemplation, 
that I'm losing some of that self-consciousness that brought me here 
in the first place. If I am honest with myself I find that I now approach 
my writing and my daily life in the same way that the commuters out- 
side my window seem to approach theirs, with a routine that borders 
on mindlessness, and I've vowed to myself never to do this. One of my 
greatest fears is to become my father. I don't think this is happening, 
though, because I'm doing what I want, and I have no longing for a life 
other than my own. But I must be vigilant. I must always be sure that I 
am mindful of what I am doing and where I am going. I must keep check- 
ing the handlebar mirrors. 

I do think, however, that I am getting tired. Perhaps this has to 
do with my age, or with the fact that I've been working like this for two 
decades, but making a living as a freelance writer is a struggle. It's not 
just the lack of money or the fact that most people don't read. One of 
my biggest struggles has been battling the expectations of editors and 
readers, trying my best to subvert the desire for racial and ethnic ste- 
reotypes. I have strived to present Asian Americans as unexoticized and 
regular Americans, sometimes even using genres to shroud and camou- 
flage my intentions, but in many instances readers were disappointed 
not to get wise old grandmothers spouting tidbits of Asian wisdom and 
Kung-Fu experts knocking around villains. In many instances, a novel 
about a Korean American that has nothing to do with race or ethnic- 
ity is an oddity in American fiction. No one knows what to do with it. 

Chang 49 



In many instances, using stereotypes of immigrants allows readers to 
have a fix on the characters and the novel. Never mind that the stories 
of Asian Americans are becoming more and more removed from immi- 
gration and acculturation; ethnic and racial issues, although important, 
aren't the only things that comprise our stories. Yet this reality seems 
to matter very little to most readers. This struggle, after twenty years of 
writing, is beginning to wear me down. 

Zombies have always been depicted with negative stereotypes, 
which is why I've been encouraged by Romero's attempts to give them 
slightly more mental capacities. Boyle and other filmmakers who use 
zombies as violent and frightening plot devices make very simple choic- 
es that are understandable in the context of the stories, but it's disap- 
pointing. 

I know I am particularly sensitive to the depiction of charac- 
ters as plot devices, since Asian Americans have been used in this way 
ever since the silent film era, and if you've ever seen a Fu Manchu mov- 
ie with Boris Karloff or the various incarnations of Dragon Ladies or 
martial arts bad guys, you'll know what I'm talking about. The worst 
instances involve Asians as comic relief, as Mickey Rooney portrayed 
"Mr. Yunioshi" in Breakfast at Tiffany's or Gedde Watanabe as "Long Duk 
Dong" in Sixteen Candles. Those depictions were racist and humiliating, 
and completely superfluous, which made it even more offensive. 

What's amazing is that there was a time in the early years of 
film that was unfettered by racist stereotypes. In 1914 Sessue Hayaka- 
wa was not only the first (and only) major Asian American movie star, 
he was also a romantic leading man, a sex symbol, and was constantly 
paired with white actresses in torrid love stories. He predated Rudolph 
Valentino, and was seen on screen making out with his famous co-stars. 
The rise of anti-Asian sentiment in the U.S. during the 1920's ended his 
career here, but for a short time he was one of the highest paid actors of 
his era. 

Now it's all gone to shit, and I grip the edge of my seat and 
watch with one eye closed, ready to flinch, whenever I see Asians in a 
mainstream Hollywood movie. 

Perhaps this subversion of the expected is what Romero is con- 
tending with when he tries to push his zombie movies in a new direc- 

50 Chang 



tion. As exciting and compelling the new zombies movies are, with the 
very latest, I am Legend, based on Richard Matheson's novel, depicting 
the zombies as vampire/zombie hybrids, I hope that the flash and scari- 
ness of the new zombies don't overwhelm the burgeoning consciousness 
of this other line of zombies. 

It's easy to conflate the various mythical creatures, crossing 
vampires with zombies, mummies with zombies, or even zombie leper 
ghosts out to get revenge in John Carpenter's The Fog. But at the heart 
of all these depictions, whether it's of the semi-conscious variety or the 
action-packed lightning fast killer variety, whether it is a hybrid or pure 
zombie, what is binding all of these permutations of zombies is the cen- 
tral conceit of having some kind of life after death — some kind of exis- 
tence, however awful or disgusting or terrifying, that enables a human 
to survive beyond his or her demise. 

Isn't that what makes zombies so frightening? If we compare 
zombies with aliens or creatures from the sea, there's no doubt about 
the non-human creatures offering thrills and fear, but what puts zom- 
bies in a completely different and unique category is that they are us. Or, 
they were us. Or, we could become them. 

And perhaps this is one reason why Romero's push to make 
zombies more self-aware is truly unnerving to fans of the genre, be- 
cause it reduces the distance from them, it collapses the Otherness of 
the zombies, and makes them all too real. Zombies with self-awareness 
and self-consciousness are no longer monsters, but diseased, decrepit 
humans tormented by uncontrollable instincts. We cannot cheer their 
decapitation and demise. We cannot celebrate the triumph of the non- 
inflicted because we can easily imagine ourselves as the inflicted. What 
is zombification but a disease? And who hasn't either battled or been 
involved in a battle with disease? 

And perhaps the quintessential Cartesian scene that I desire so 
strongly in a zombie movie, in which a zombie would look in the handle- 
bar mirror of a child's bicycle and slowly and disturbingly realize that he 
is now the undead, is just too horrible to imagine. Cogito ergo sum would 
become "I think therefore I know I am a zombie." This revelation of our 
zombification, whether it's in a zombie horror movie or whether it's ful- 
ly acknowledging our own q-zombie status, would shake us to the core. 

Chang 51 



The truth of our diseased state would either force us into more repres- 
sion and denial — which would be very difficult, given the evidence be- 
fore us — or dealing with the disease with some kind of concrete action, 
and this is truly frightening. We wouldn't be running from zombies; we 
would want to run from ourselves. 

Yet isn't this what it means to have consciousness? If this is 
what separates us from animals, what truly and distinctly makes us hu- 
mans, then this confrontation seems absolutely necessary, no matter 
how difficult it may be, and so I will continue questioning myself in ways 
I wished my father had. I will continue asking myself what it is I want, 
and where I should go from here. This will, I hope, inoculate me from the 
disease. 

That glimmer of consciousness I thought I saw in my father's 
eyes the night he kicked me out of the house — that glimmer could' ve 
sparked something momentous in his life. What if he had allowed him- 
self to think about what he was doing, where he was, and where he was 
headed? What if he stopped and registered how derailed his life was? 
What if he put down his drink and walked out of the house and went to 
sea? Instead he grabbed his bottle of whiskey and trudged into the living 
room. He turned on the TV news and drank until he raged through the 
house and beat up my mother. I know that for me to avoid q-zombifica- 

tion I must never ignore that glimmer. 

* * * 

I remember one vivid scene in Night of the Living Dead when a 
zombie woman was walking by a tree and plucked a huge beetle off the 
bark and ate it. Because of my proximity to beetles and crickets, know- 
ing full well the one click of the thermostat would send them clawing 
out from the heaters, this one startling gesture alarmed me more than 
the frenzied attack on the hapless victims, their bodies being torn apart 
and eaten. The simple and quick popping of the beetle into the zombie 
woman's mouth gave me a bizarre connection to her, and thereby made 
her zombification all the more real and unnerving. The leap from being 
some kid in the basement to a staggering and moaning zombie wasn't 
that far to make, and that night long after the movie was finished and I 
was thinking about it, images swirling and scenes replayed in my imagi- 
nation, I huddled with my sleeping bag over my head, making sure no 

52 Chang 




Alegria 
Mayra Rodriguez 



Rodriguez 53 



Jessica Flores 

Juarez 

A glint of bronze on silver. 

A medal, an honor earned. 

A delicate shade of brown. 

A hint of pink. 

Soft bumps and ridges 

erect in an involuntary last reaction to sensation. 

Absently I trace my own nipple. 
Nipples: nourishment, security, bond. 
Gnashed off for a prize. 

No one will care. Sluts are rarely missed. 
And easily replaced. 
You said it, Compa. 

A mother's desperate plea. 

Her frantic search. 

^Han visto a mi hija? Nunca llego a casa. 

Se fue con el novio. 

No, se fue a trabajar. Las maquiladoras estdn lejosyel camion pasa retirado. 

Luego llega. Se fue con el novio. 

Blame the victim. 

A body found half covered in the sand. 

Baked by the desert sun. 

A carving on the small of her back. 

Work clothes stained with tears, blood, and cum. 

Oyes, la vieja tenia razon. Putas no sangran. Toma, un recuerdo. 

A bronze glint blinds the eye as the nipple medal flies across the sky. 

A corpse rots under corrupted ground. 

54 Flores 



Pigs wear medals. 

A mother wears black. 

I caress my nipple as 
Tears form in my eyes. 
I change the channel. 



Flores 55 




My Lai 
Hans Burkhardt 



56 Burkhardt 



Kathleen Araiza 

Hans Burkhardt: The Art of Mortality 



As children of Mexico kicked a skull around like a soccer ball, art- 
ist Hans Burkhardt soon followed, picking up lingering teeth 
and fragments of cranial bone. What others around him viewed 
as wasted matter, Burkhardt saw the horrors of his time. From this rev- 
elation, Burkhardt 's greatest works were produced including his 1968 
piece, "My Lai," which pertains to the gruesome violence caused by 
American soldiers during the Vietnam War. "My Lai" represented the 
dismay felt by Burkhardt's generation and after personally viewing this 
achievement in modern art, it's safe to say that his intention to shock 
the general audience remains existent. 

Jack Rutberg, founder and director of Jack Rutberg Fine Arts in 
Los Angeles, has represented the work of Burkhardt since 1973. During 
a recent visit to his gallery, Rutberg discussed the work Burkhardt cre- 
ated during the 1960s, work that alluded not only to the age of modern 
art, but Burkhardt's interest towards the reality of inevitable death. As 
Rutberg came to the "My Lai" piece, he discussed the shock value that 
cultivated from its first appearance. Rutberg commented that today's 
young people may no longer be impacted by such art. I'm happy to re- 
port that he's mistaken. 

As I stood in front of "My Lai," my body developed an uncom- 
fortable heat. Colors of black and grays were splattered on the canvas, 
creating textures reminiscent of flayed flesh. I saw images which have 
yet to escape my mind: a jaw with teeth still intact, a skull with hair at- 
tached, and vertebrae of spine are all intertwined with oil paint. A friend 
stood next to me in the gallery as I studied "My Lai" and she too could 
feel the intense presence of the six foot by nine painting. She smelled 
what she could only describe as a smell of musk that came from the 
thickly placed paint. As she drifted closer to the piece, the strength of 
the smell repelled her from taking a closer look. From this type of reac- 

Araiza 57 



tion, it is evident that the idea of death carried throughout Burkhardt's 
paintings permeates generation and every age. 

The shock value of "My Lai" in 1968 is without a doubt tran- 
scendent — it transcends every age, group, race, gender, etc. The violence 
that derived from My Lai, a massacre of a Vietnamese village by U.S. 
forces, were the negative reality of Burkhardt and Rutberg's generation. 
However, each new generation inevitably experiences a social horror 
that forces them to cultivate a new perception on both life and death. 
I believe this is a concept Burkhardt understood. Through a work of art 
such as "My Lai," viewers from my generation and generations who fol- 
low after will be able to comprehend the intention of his work. 

When viewing a photograph of a painting, it's difficult to com- 
pletely grab the full attention of the viewer. This idea very much applies 
to Burkhardt, whose paintings are extraordinary when merely viewed as 
a photograph, yet physically connect with the person who stands inches 
away. When I first saw the image of "My Lai," it was on a postcard. What 
I saw was an impressive piece of art that consisted of dark colors form- 
ing a maze strategically placed skulls. The skulls looked as if they were 
painted. When I finally attended Rutberg's gallery, I came to the great 
discovery that the skulls were not painted on but literally placed on top 
of the canvas. The thick layers of paint, the angles and projections of 
human bone and the violent strokes of the brush are not clearly depicted 
in two-dimensional images of his work. A photograph of "My Lai" holds 
some weight as a powerful image but when viewed in person, all tech- 
niques, color usage and bone placement becomes so apparent that the 
piece is inevitably overwhelming. 

Art critic Donald Kuspit, referred to Burkhardt's "My Lai," as 
well as his other three-dimensional war painting, "Lang Vei" as "among 
the greatest war paintings... gestures that give Abstract Expressionist 
painting its powerful, primal thrust... and make clear that Burkhardt is a 
master — indeed the inventor — of the abstract memento mori." 

Memento mori, which in Latin translates into "remember you 
are mortal" greatly pertains to the work of Burkhardt. In his painting, 
"Gazing at the Stars," Burkhardt depicts the reality of what happens 
with our cadavers through a misshapen skeleton on its back gazing unto 
the evening sky. On the back of this painting is an inscription written 

58 Araiza 



by Burkhardt: "You will have plenty of time to look at the stars when the 
worms are eating you at their leisure." This humorous approach towards 
death not only appertains to an evidently witty Burkhardt but also em- 
phasizes the belief that his work greatly relies and embodies the ideas of 
memento mori. 

Towards the end of his discussion, I asked Rutberg how he was 
introduced to Burkhardt. He lightly chuckled and simply said it was 
a long story for another time, leaving my curiosity unsatisfied. Aside 
from my personal dissatisfaction of not knowing the "full story", what 
I realized to be the imperative knowledge gained from my visit to the 
Rutberg Gallery were the social intentions of Burkahardt's art and his 
ambitious nature to enable his audience to think and react on what lies 
ahead, mortality. 



Araiza 59 




Hans Burkhardt with My Lai 



60 Burkhardt 



Eloise Klein Healy 

What Does Death Want From Me? 



Just hanging around, 

picking up something from the table, say a bill 

or the insurance form half-filled in 

or the map of New Mexico or the bird book. 

Just looking, 

but not saying much 

like people who draw attention 

to themselves by being noisy with their silence. 

Death already has the best part, my sweet dogs 
and mom and dad. 

It's shopping me now like a garage sale addict 

looking for the first edition nobody talks about anymore. 



Healy 61 




Airport 
Danielle Arender 



62 Arender 



Ally Acker 

The Silk Kimono 

When we met, I thought it was me you wanted 
Your hand sliding beneath the cool silk 
peeling away the cloth from my shoulders 
soft as love. 

When I would go for a while you would say, 
Leave it with me. I want the smell of you 
lingering with me all night. 

Soon you were wearing it constantly. 
Take my cotton one, you would say. 
It's shorter. Red. Exactly your color. 

When you left me for the woman with hands 
rough as my father's 
you took the silk kimono. 
Because love is the softest mistake 
I became the color red. 



Acker 63 



Lauren Schmidt 

Falsies 

I used to think falsies were lashes. But no — 
falsies are boobies because we place too much 
on boobies, and they need to be big enough boobies 
and if they're not, fear not, we have remedy. 

I used to think lotion would make my boobies bigger. But no— 
I used the very circular motion as directed, repeated 
as necessary because big boobies are necessary 
and if they're not, fear not, we have ideas. 

I used to think booby feeding was beautiful. But no — 

a baby on the booby feels like a clothespin 

on the booby because they were necessary 

and when they're not, fear not, we have ways to destroy them. 

I used to think my boobies were too small, 

then too big, then too sore. But no — 

my boobies are ruined because I was given a black one, 

a bad booby because not all boobies are good boobies 

and when they're not, fear not, there are ways to rid of them. 

I used to think falsies were lashes. But no — 

a falsie is my missing booby, a big enough booby 

to match the pink booby, the good booby, 

the one slightly sagging like an eye without lashes. 



64 Schmidt 



Cassandra Krieger 

Philip Roth: Enemy of the Righteous 

Philip Roth examines and criticizes American social norms and 
mores like no other author. No writer in the past forty years has 
tackled the repressive sexual and social standards, regarded as 
proper, with the passionate rage and capacity for greatness he has, Sab- 
bath's Theatre, for instance, is one long orgasmic marathon all the way 
to the cemetery. Roth dares to illuminate our own self-righteous politi- 
cal correctness in the Human Stain and reveals that the liberal, left-wing 
is not a haven. Roth captures the hypocrisy in everyone, which makes 
him one of the great, potent voices of American Literature. 

In his latest novel, Indignation, Roth's anger seethes on every 
page. He exposes the inherent hypocrisy and stifling effects of politics 
and prevailing acceptable social behaviors, in this tragic, brilliant work 
of fiction. 

The first chapter, "Under Morphine," begins by introduc- 
ing Marcus Messner, freshly enrolled in college at nineteen-years-old. 
Though Marcus is a straight-A student, and dedicated son, often spend- 
ing entire days aiding his father in the family's kosher butcher shop, 
his father's attitude towards him changes after his enrollment in Robert 
Treat College. Marcus' father demands to know the location of his son 
and his son's activities at anytime throughout the day, fearing the teen 
has come under the influence of troublesome neighborhood kids. The 
Korean War, which has produced heavy American casualties, does not 
help his father's paranoia. 

The butcher shop, which had been a place and source of plesure 
for Marcus, is losing its appeal as his father becomes more and more 
overbearing. The shop is where Marcus had developed some of his fond- 
est memories. Even when he was forced to do the "nauseating and dis- 
gusting" task of eviscerating chickens, of slitting "the ass open a little 
bit," so that one could force his or her hand up inside to "grab the vis- 

Krieger 65 



cera...and pull them out," he enjoyed it. He relished in the oportunity to 
learn from his father the important lesson: "that you do what you have 
to do." But these tender moments with his father are not enough to bal- 
ance the growing hysteria and Marcus transfers to a college in Ohio, far 
from his father's Newark butcher shop. 

Winesburg, the small, private, Lutheran college that Marcus 
chooses embodies the quintessentially American liberal arts college ex- 
perience. From the green hill it sits on to its handsome student body in 
khaki slacks, the college "could have been the backdrop for one of those 
Technicolor college movie musicals where all the students go around 
singing and dancing instead of studying." 

Marcus is intent on receiving straight-A's. His life, Marcus tells 
himself, depends on it, if he does not perform with excellence at Wines- 
burg they may be inclined to expel him and then he would be drafted for 
the Korean War, and killed. Marcus maintains his admirable work ethic 
and obsession with grades until he sees Olivia. Marcus is absorbed with 
her. He takes the beautiful girl on a date, borrowing his new roommate's 
car and is then confused and troubled by her actions in the car. Olivia 
gives Marcus a blow-job. The source of her behavior, the reason for the 
oral-sex, Marcus concludes, is the affect her parents' divorce had on her. 
Marcus does not speak to Olivia after that night, nor does he ask her on 
another date, but he cannot stop thinking about it. He tells his room- 
mate about the night, and this forces him to put in a request for a room 
change as they get into a physical fight after his roommate calls Olivia a 
"cunt." Marcus and Olivia begin sending letters to each other, many of 
them angry, but almost all of them rife with confusion. 

The Dean of Winesburg also sends Marcus a letter, this one re- 
questing a meeting to discuss Marcus' numerous room changes. The 
discussion between the Dean and Marcus marks the beginning of Mar- 
cus' shift away from the lesson his father taught him about doing what 
needs to be done. Marcus debates with the Dean on almost every issue, 
the compulsory chapel attendance at the school, the classification of his 
father's occupation as butcher or Kosher butcher, the value of Bertrand 
Russell's essay on religion. Each new argument incites Marcus so much 
that he rises from his chair to thump his hand against the Dean's desk. 
The Dean concludes that Marcus is gullible and intends to address Mar- 
66 Krieger 



cus' acceptance of the "rationalist blasphemies spouted by" Russell and 
is worried about the impact Russell's history of anti-war campaigning 
has had on Marcus. 

The Dean tells Marcus that the "social skills" he lacks are going 
to be a problem. Marcus argues that his behavior has been reasonable 
and that it should be no business of the administration of the school 
how many friends he keeps, or how many rooms he inhabits if he can 
still produce A-material in the classroom. The meeting ends with Mar- 
cus standing and vomiting all over the dean's office. Marcus' appendix 
is removed hours later. 

The scene in which Marcus and the Dean debate is one of the 
most powerful and ultimately frustrating scenes in the novel. It is a 
scene where the authority mistakenly believes and communicates its 
infallibility while the young man stands firm and defiantly stubborn de- 
fending his argument. It is a scene where the authority, ignorant of its 
ability to be wrong, expounds paternal nonsense to an individual who 
is battling alone. It is a scene in which every human being has found 
themselves. 

After being rushed to the hospital for an appendectomy Marcus 
is visited by Olivia. They immediately resume their sexual relationship 
as Olivia performs a hand-job within five minutes of her arrival. Mar- 
cus' mother also visits and informs Marcus that his father's behavior 
has become even more paranoid and erratic. His mother explains that 
she can no longer take the burden of his father and intends to divorce 
him. The news is devastating for Marcus. His mother, who does not like 
Olivia and Olivia' scars along her wrist, tells Marcus that she will not 
divorce his father if he agrees to stop seeing Olivia. While he promises 
his mother he will stop seeing Olivia he promises himself the opposite 
for "who deserts a goddess because his mother told him to?" But after 
leaving the hospital and returning to school he is unable to find his god- 
dess. 

While looking everywhere for Olivia Marcus receives another 
mandatory invitation to speak with the Dean. At this meeting Marcus 
learns that Olivia has been removed to a psychiatric hospital after suf- 
fering a nervous breakdown because of her recent impregnation. 
Though this is troubling enough news to hear Marcus is then accused 

Krieger 67 



of causing not only the nervous breakdown but also of impregnat- 
ing Olivia. Marcus argues that their relationship never went that far 
and that he is still a virgin. The Dean does not believe Marcus and tells 
him that it is hard to believe what Marcus says. Marcus can't take it 
anymore, the accusation, the condemnation without evidence, the sick- 
eningly patronizing stare of the ignorant Dean and responds with a loud 
and determined "Fuck you!" 

All of this, along with Marcus' refusal to attend the mandatory 
religious services, leads to an ending that is as outrageous as it is hor- 
rific. The reader may be torn between sadness and rage. 

At one point in Roth's novel the president of Winesburg Col- 
lege addresses the students. In one of the most agonizingly intense 
and wise speeches in the novel the president says to the student body 
"Beyond your dormitories, a world is on fire and you are kindled by 
underwear." What makes his speech so especially resonant is that, for 
the most part, the American public is still only kindled by underwear. 
We send our country-men, our sons and daughters and brothers and 
sisters into war under the most noble of auspices and while the world 
burns and people die we consider the meager and embarrassingly small 
dramas of our lives as the greatest importance. 

We read Invisible Man to remember the great American epic 
of race and independence and the re of the free individual. Faulkner 
takes us into an American South that is dark, strained and sexual. Toni 
Morrison is relentless with her tales of the African American woman's 
struggles. Philip Roth, in genius prose and a poetic fervor bordering on 
frenzy, reminds us how many chains of social norms still hold us down. 
He dares us to be outrages. 



68 Krieger 



Lauren Schmidt 

Ritual 

A shriek startles summer's hymn. Logs topple 
inside a shed and a boy is shoved out of it. 

A throat hooked by father's thumb, pinches 
of fingertip stun haloes into flesh. 

His hand tilts swigs of Pine-Sol. Rivulets of piss 

slip down scuffed knees like drinks roll from father's chin 

and neck, into the ravine of scars on his chest, 
each churning like rusty chains beneath his grip. 

Cankers like flabs of gristle hang from his back, 
twitch as he breathes bouts of stench into tufts of hair. 

His thumb reaches a cheek to jam apart 

the jaw and his twin fingers douse a mouth with motor oil. 

Small teeth drip curtains of molasses. A tongue drums 

glugs of darkness back at father's cheek. Snorts patter and snarl. 

His fingers yank hair and roots into white, string up eyes, lurched open 
like a birthday surprise where the room is on fire. 

Too late, a dog sidles. The hair on its hide clumped up like wings 
as if to say, but nothing. Logs land outside the shed door. 

A boy turns to his dog, spits dark at its fair-haired snout. 

Piss springs from the arch of its hind legs, blanches the grass beneath. 



Schmidt 69 




Erica 



Mayra Rodriguez 



70 Rodriguez 




The DLR in July 
Danielle Arender 



Arender 71 



Sharon Keely 

Dandelion Clock Time 



My gran had stopped in for tea one evening when I heard Mam 
say to her, "Look - the sheets are going out, Rowley must 
have wet the bed again." They were sitting in the kitchen of 
the second floor flat we rented from Mrs. Horton, watching her out in 
the back yard. 

So that was why Mrs. H was always washing the sheets, knead- 
ing them on the big washboard with her swollen red hands. I knew Row- 
ley was a bit old for that. He was nearly thirty and here was I, only seven, 
and I hadn't wet the bed in a year. Just the same, my gran's response 
seemed out of proportion. She blessed herself wildly, several times over, 
saying "Holy mother of Jesus Divine, God bless us and save us and pre- 
serve us from all harm." This incantation was usually reserved for news 
of the latest unwanted P-R-E-G-N-E-N-C-Y. They spelled (and often mis- 
spelled) things I wasn't supposed to hear. "You'd never think Protestants 
would be afflicted that way, too," Gran said. She caught sight of me in 
the doorway. "Don't over anything you hear in this room," she warned. 

I used to think that was why Mam didn't want me going down 
to Mrs. Horton's basement to eat her apple pie and scones and warm my 
hands in front of the Aga stove because she was Protestant and Mam 
didn't want her looking down on us. She corrected Mam over me a lot. 
"Thinks she can tell me how to run my life," Mam would say, "when she 
can't control her two sons." 

Mrs. Horton's other son was Hank. He was shaped like Mrs. 
H, heavy and round, and he looked almost as old as her. He worked all 
the time, up in his wood workshop beside the field, peering through his 
thick Coke bottle glasses at his whirring sanders and planers and saws. 
He couldn't hear them; he was almost totally deaf since birth. I liked 
him though, he gave me threepence when I brought him up a flask of tea 
from Mrs. Horton, and he showed me how to cure a wart on my thumb 
with the milk from a dandelion stem. 

Now I wondered if Mam wanted me to stay out of the basement 

72 Keely 



because of Rowley, maybe she was embarrassed for Mrs. H and didn't 
want me to find out he wet the bed. Not that Mam knew Rowley and I 
chased each other around the field behind the house after school. She'd 
have had a fit if she did. 

Mam hated it when Mrs. Horton banged on the ceiling with her 
cane, or, worse yet, came all the way up to our landing to say, "Please 
stop screaming and have some consideration, think of the child." She 
walked right into our front room a couple of times. There was no sepa- 
rate entrance to our flat, since it was the four rooms on the second floor. 
You couldn't put an entry door there without blocking off access to the 
flat on the third floor, which had been empty for a while. Mam thought 
about moving up there to get some privacy, but then we'd have to pass 
the second floor to get to the bathroom the two flats shared. 

The day after one of those evenings, when Mam had been yell- 
ing and Mrs. H had asked her to be quiet, I ran home from school and 
chased around the field with Rowley as usual, and then fell down laugh- 
ing into the grass, thinking no one would be home till after six. So long 
as I was in the flat by half-past three to answer the phone when Mam 
called to check up on me, I was ok. Rowley and I could tell what time it 
was by picking dandelion clocks and blowing the fluffy helicopter seeds 
off. One o'clock, two o'clock, if I didn't want it to be three, Rowley used 
to say, then I could gather up the seeds I'd blown away and put them 
back on the stem and it would still be two. This time, we hadn't even 
got to three o'clock when I heard our kitchen window open. "Grade, get 
down here this instant!" Mam croaked, "Rowley Horton, you ought to be 
ashamed of yourself!" 

She grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and shoved me into my 
room when I got upstairs. 

"What was going on?" she demanded, all hoarse. 

"Tip you're on it," I said. 

"Tip you're on it my eye! What were you doing lying down with 
him?" 

"Two blow clocks," I said. 

"Blow clocks?" she demanded. 

"Off the dandelions..." 

"Did he ask you to do that?" 

"No. We just did," I said. 

I could feel myself getting red. I knew she was going to ask if 
we'd done this before, and I couldn't say yes, she'd kill me. But I knew 

KEELY 73 



going all red and starting to stutter was making it look like I was lying. 
She gave me a clatter round the ear and headed down to the basement. 

I couldn't hear what was said, but Mam's voice was raised the 
whole time. I only caught the end, as Mrs. Horton followed Mam half- 
way up the basement stairs. 

"I'll see to it that he has nothing to do with Grace, you have my 
word. But I assure you, there's no harm in him. He's just a little boy at 
heart." 

"Hah! Some little boy, stumbling out of the Rob Roy every 
Thursday, Friday and Saturday." 

I could hear the satisfaction in her voice; she and dad stumbled 
out of the Commodore on those nights. A much better class of drinking 
establishment. 

Things were different with Rowley after that. A couple of times, 
he jumped out and scared me, and when I giggled, he didn't giggle back. 
Once, he grabbed me as I got to the top of the basement stairs. His 
breath was hot with whiskey. 

"What did you say to your mother about me?" he hissed. 
I was afraid to answer him. 

"What did you say?" 

Mrs. Horton heard him. 

"Come down here right now Rowley," she said. "Grace, you run 
along." 

I didn't see her for a few days after that. She didn't call me down 
to the basement and I knew not to go if I wasn't called or had a good ex- 
cuse to go down. At last Thursday rolled around. This was the day she'd 
usually ask me down to read Treasure magazine at her old pine table 
before she posted it to her grandniece. I started down the basement 
stairs. 

"Mrs. Horton, can I come down for Treasure?" I called when I 
was almost into her kitchen. 

"Oh, no," she sounded sad, and a little exasperated, "You can't 
come down here anymore dear. I have to do a ton of work now, for the 
church fete and for Rushbrook, I wouldn't have time. Besides, Treasure's 
a bit too young for you." 

The church fete? There wouldn't be more than a dozen people 
there, she could bake enough for them in her sleep. And she'd never had 
anything to do with Rushbrook, the croquet club where the last of the 
landed gentry clung to their white gloves and each other. I backed up the 
74 Keely 



steps, crestfallen. A hand grabbed the back of my school shirt and spun 
me around. "That's what you get for telling lies," Rowley hissed. 

I ran out the front door, over the Gap, and across the huge bar- 
ren churchyard, headed for the opposite wall that abutted my friend 
Louise's house. How dare he, I thought. How dare he, how dare he, how 
dare he. How dare he think I told lies; but most of all, how dare he make 
Mrs. Horton stop letting me come to the basement. And Treasure was 
not too young for me! Hot salty tears rolled down my cheeks. The wall 
by Louise's was low enough to look over on the church side. I could hear 
her brothers yelling and screaming in the front. I looked over. 

"Tommy," I called to her red-haired brother. "Tommy!" 

"What?" he yelled back, never taking his eyes off the football 
they were all diving after and kicking at the same time. 

"Is Louise in?" 

"Yeah but she can't come out, she's hoovering." 

I had to talk to her, had to cook up a plan to get back at Rowley. 
It might be something we could do ourselves, maybe rig up something to 
make him fall flat on his face as walked in Mrs. Horton's gate. Or maybe 
we'd end up needing her five brothers to help, but the more people in on 
it, the more the chance of being found out. So what. Let him find out. 

"Tommy," I called again. 

"Whaaat?" he yelled back. Boys only had to be polite for the first 
question from a girl, after that they could stop pretending we weren't 
the most annoying creatures on earth. 

"Rowley Horton wets the bed." 

Kicks and dives were suspended in mid-air, as they all turned to- 
wards me. I felt like Queen Maedbh addressing her troops before battle 
from atop a golden steed. "He wets the bed. All the time." Five McCann 
brothers, various assorted Browns, and the two fat Forrest brothers, all 
doubled over in loud exaggerated laughter. 

"D'ya cross yer heart?" Tommy asked. 

"Cross my heart and hope to die," I said. Tommy knew I never 
said that unless I was really and truly telling the truth. 

The next day, we all congregated halfway up the Gap after school, 
playing "tip you're on it" while a lookout lurked at the bottom. Finally, 
he gave the cry. "Here he comes!" Rowley came into view, stiffly and 
none-too-successfully concentrating on walking a straight line. One- 
two-three - "Piss the bed!" we all yelled at the top of our lungs, "Piss the 
bed! The Prdddydog wets the bed!" 

KEELY 75 



He stopped momentarily, his head cocked away from us, as if he 
were hearing distant music from the sea and trying to place it, and then 
proceeded on towards Mrs. Horton's gate, his steps less concentrated 
now. Our chant still blared up and down the Gap. A woman who'd been 
scrubbing the pavement in front of her little house on Davis Terrace at 
the top of the Gap shook her brush at us. "Stop that, ya little hooligans. 
I know all o' yer mothers." 

Laughing, and still yelling, we scattered, all uphill of course, ex- 
cept the two biggest Browns who ran down at Rowley, whooping and 
hollering. The ruckus had brought Mrs. Horton out to the gate. She 
looked up at us, and I could swear she saw me, even though I'd rounded 
the corner a split second after I saw her hand clutch the gate. 

For the next few weeks, chants of "Piss-the-bed. Rowley Horton 
wets the bed," followed Rowley all over town. Little girls ran up to him 
with a dandelion in their hands, saying "Hold this up to your chin, ah 
look, you chin turned bright yellow!" Showing it was gospel truth that 
he was a piss-the-bed, even though the dandelion never got within four 
feet of his chin. Not-so-little boys made peeing gestures with their fists 
wagging up and down in front of their private parts. Rowley scowled 
at me whenever I saw him now. He wasn't bothering to try and walk a 
straight line anymore. 

Mrs. Horton was avoiding me completely. She didn't even check 
up on me on the nights when Mam and Dad didn't come home till all 
hours. I had my books and Peter panda, but I was scared in the flat on my 
own. It was one Friday night when I heard steps on the stairs outside, 
the steps of someone trying to sneak up but having trouble balancing. 
I smelled him before I saw him. Whiskey and Old Spice. He slid in the 
door, and took off his shirt and threw it on the floor. 

"Get out of my room," I whispered, not sounding at all brave. 

"You get out," Rowley slurred. "This is my room. I'm taking it 
back." 

"No! You're not going to wet my bed!" I whispered, emboldened, 
since it didn't appear that he planned to strangle me. 

"Nooo — an' If I do, I'll hang... ya, hang the sheet out your win- 
dow. They'll call you ha- you wet-the-bed," he mumbled. He was taking 
off his pants now. 

"I'm going to tell your mother," I said, out loud this time. 
His head hit the pillow beside me, a trail of sticky Guinness streaking 
from the corner of his mouth to his chin. He fought to keep his eyes 
76 Keely 



closed, but he lost and started snoring loudly right away. 

I grabbed Peter panda and ran into my parent's room. There was 
a key on the inside; I locked the door. Then I took out the key. I'd read in 
a Nancy Drew book how you could put a sheet of paper under the door 
from the outside, poke through the keyhole to knock the key onto the 
paper, and then slide the paper out with the key on it and open the door. 
I wasn't going to take any chances. 

The room was pitch black, the only light was that visible though 
the keyhole. It seemed like eternity before I heard a car drone up the hill 
and stop at the gate. It wasn't my dad's, I knew the chug- chug- chug of 
his old Ford Cortina as well as I knew his voice. 

"Goodnight, Rachel, goodnight Hank," an uppercrust accent, 
very English, someone after giving them a lift from her brother's. 

"Goodnight Reverend Smythe, thanks so much," said Mrs. Hor- 
ton. 

I could hear the car turn into the churchyard next door, to Rev- 
erend Smythe's vicarage beside it, as Mrs. Horton and Hank stepped 
inside the hallway below. I was about to put my mouth to the keyhole 
and yell for help, when I heard Hank say, "Why is Rowley's coat on the 
stairs?" 

"And that snoring — only Rowley snores like that. It's coming 
from upstairs..." 

Heavy steps lumbered up the stairs; I stole out of bed and put 
my eye to the keyhole. I saw Hank push into my room, heard him shout, 
"Rowley! Rowley you bastard!" I heard Rowley's confusion. I saw Hank 
push him out and down the stairs. "You've done it this time," Hank 
screamed, that strange high-pitched scream. "Get out and stay out. 
You've disgraced us enough." 

As Rowley groggily steadied himself against the wall, Hank 
reached into my room and flung Rowley's shirt and jeans after him. 

"How could you do this to my Mother?" Hank's half-formed 
words, the tongue taut against the roof of his mouth. 

"Our mother," Rowley slurred, "she's mine too, whether she 
likes it or not." 

He lashed the jeans back up at Hank, knocking his thick glasses 
off in the process. Hank stooped to retrieve them, and stumbled, falling 
on top of Rowley. I could hear Mrs. Horton starting up the stairs, more 
clumsily than usual. 

The brothers thrashed around, Hank shouting to his mother 

KEELY 77 



to stay back. In that instant, Rowley grabbed Hank's throat with both 
hands, and pushed him back against the banister. Hank arched back, 
trying to lift Rowley off balance and shake him loose, while at the same 
time trying to pry Rowley's fingers from his neck. Mrs. Horton was be- 
hind them now. 

"Rowley," she gasped. "You'll kill him! Stop!" 

Rowley grabbed Hank's neck tighter. I saw the washboard as it 
came down over Rowley's head. "Thwack!" He had to be knocked out. If 
he was in a cartoon, he'd be through the stairs and half-way to the center 
of the earth. But no; his eyes looked as if they'd pop out of his head, his 
teeth had to be breaking his jaw was clenched so tight, but he held on to 
Hank's neck. Hank's fingers were moving slower and slower, and more 
weakly. I heard the whoosh as the washboard came down again. Rowley 
moved aside and for a split second Hank started to right himself. Mrs. 
Horton tried to alter the course of the board, but only succeeded in turn- 
ing it sideways so that the heavy edge of it spilt Hank's head open like a 
pumpkin. Minced meat appeared down the middle of his forehead, and 
a wash of blood. I thought I heard him groan as he crumpled down into 
himself and keeled over, his head hitting a lower step, then his heavy 
body pivoted over his neck and thunked onto the landing. 

"Noooo, noooo. Not Hank. Nooo," Mrs. Horton moaned as 
she picked up his shoulders and placed them on her lap. Rowley was 
slumped on the landing too, looking dazed. Even in his state, he must 
have been able to see that Hank was gone. He picked himself up and 
slithered downwards, his back and palms against the wall, his eyes far 
away. 

I heard him stumble across the gravel into the night. 

"Rachel?" it was Reverend Smythe. "Rachel?" 

No doubt following the sound of her moans, he appeared on 
the landing. "I'll go get the doctor," he said softly, clasping Hank's wrist 
between his forefinger and his thumb. 

"Oh, Rachel..." 

"I know," she said. "I know." She sounded resigned and weary, 
but with some of her old fortitude. 

"What should I do, Rachel? Should I get the guards?" 

She thought a while, then sighed. "I suppose you'll have to, if 
he's harmed the child. That's her room." She nodded up to her left. 

Reverend Smythe started towards my room. He peeked in and 
turned on the light. "Grace" he called, as he went inside, "Gra - oh, she's 
78 Keely 



not here." 

He came back out. "She's not there Rachel; the way the blankets 
were bunched up I thought there was someone there." 

Tears rolled from Mrs. Horton's eyes now. "Hank, Hank, Hank," 
she cried. "Hank and your poor weak eyes. They must have left her at her 
grandmother's for the night." 

"Rachel. You don't want to lose the two of them." Reverend 
Smythe said. 

She looked up at him. 

"Let's get him into his workshop," the reverend said softly. 

I watched them pull Hank down the stairs, heard the back door 
open, I imagined them dragging him up through the dandelion clocks, 
in the side door to the workshop. 

I don't know how long I sat with my eye to the keyhole, afraid to 
get up and move, as much because I might miss something as out of fear. 
It seemed like eternity, that everyone was gone forever and never com- 
ing back and there was only me and Petey left, for ever and ever. Finally 
I heard the Ford Cortina struggling up the hill. I opened the door and 
ran back into my room. The bed was dry. The room reeked of whiskey, 
but my parents would never notice. It was just like when you ate onions 
yourself, you couldn't smell them on someone else. 

Tomorrow I'd go in the field and gather up all the dandelion 
seeds Rowley and I had blown and stick them back on the stems. 



Keely 79 



Contributors 

The Writers 

Percival Everett is the author of several novels, a couple of collections 
of short fiction and two volumes of poetry. He is Distinguished Profes- 
sor of English at the University of Southern California. His most recent 
book of poems is Abstraktion und Einfiihlung. A novel, I Am Not Sidney 
Poitier, is forthcoming. 

PATRICK O'Neil holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch Univer- 
sity Los Angeles. Mr. O'Neil currently resides in San Francisco's North 
Beach District, and when not at some dark and nameless cafe on an 
extended espresso binge, the majority of his time and energy is being 
spent on the final revisions of his first book. His essays have appeared in 
Blood Orange Review, The Sylvan Echo, and Nouveau Blank. 

Leonard Chang's sixth novel, CROSSINGS, will be published in the 
Fall of 2009. He recently gave away almost all his worldly possessions 
and is currently couch-surfing in Los Angeles. His web site is: www.leon- 
ardchang.com. 

JESSICA FLORES graduated from Mount St. Mary's College in 2006 with 
a B.A. in Child Development and a double minor in English and Spanish. 
She has returned to the Mount to further her education as a first year 
graduate student in the Humanities Program. She currently resides in 
South Gate. 

Born in Los Angeles, Danielle Arender wrote her first short story 
when she was eight years old and become more serious about creative 
writing while attending St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Her 
favorite writers are Virginia Woolf and e.e. cummings. She writes imag- 
ist poems and impressionistic short stories. 

Eloise Klein Healy is the author of six books of poetry and three spo- 
ken word recordings. She was the founding chair of the MFA in Cre- 
ative Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles where she is 
Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing Emerita. Healy directed the 

80 Audemus 



Women's Studies Program at California State University Northridge and 
taught in the Feminist Studio Workshop at The Woman's Building in Los 
Angeles. Her latest collection of poems is The Islands Project: Poems For 
Sappho. 

Marvin Bell's most recent book, Mars Being Red, much of it wartime, 
was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Awards. Formerly on the 
faculty of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he now teaches for the brief-res- 
idency MFA program based in Oregon at Pacific University. For twenty- 
four years, he has lived part of each year in Port Townsend, Washington. 
He often performs with the bassist Glen Moore of the jazz group Oregon 
and is the creator of a form known as the "Dead Man" poem, for which 

Sharon Keely was raised in Cobh, County Cork, Ireland, where the Sis- 
ters of Mercy (no, not the band) encouraged her bent for creative writ- 
ing. She had several short stories published in Ireland before developing 
writer's block at age ten. The block stayed with her through too many 
years of lawyering and accounting in London and the U.S., but is now 
being busted by Professor Marcos Villatoro's creative writing classes, 
undertaken through the Mount's M.A. in Humanities Program. 

Lauren Schmidt is a high school English and Art History teacher in 
Eugene, OR and a first-year student in the MFA program at Antioch Uni- 
versity. Other work is forthcoming in Ruminate. 

Poet, filmmaker and author, Ally Acker is the recipient of numerous 
poetry awards, including the Carl Sandburg Centennial Award and the 
Garden Street Press Award which published her first collection of po- 
ems. She has directed eleven documentaries on artists. Her book, Reel 
Women: Pioneers of the Cinema, 1896 to the Present, is a staple text 
used in universities throughout the world. 

RlLEY Wilkinson is a writer and artist in Long Beach, California. He 
is currently pursuing his MA in Humanities at Mount St. Mary's Col- 
lege in Los Angeles. He lives with his husband Drew and continues 
to write fiction. 



AUDEMUS 8l 



The Artists 

Esteban Jesus Cons Narvaez was born in Los Angeles in 1987. He is 
currently a student at Mount St. Mary's Weekend College where he stud- 
ies philosophy. The piece was done on behalf of www.peacebewithyou.la 
(under construction), an organization dedicated to creating, promoting 
and distributing art work that will subjectively help make our world a 
better place. 

Mayra RODRIGUEZ grew up in South Los Angeles and currently at- 
tends Mount St. Mary's College as a nursing major. Photography be- 
came her favorite art when in high school her father handed her his 
film camera. She now works with a digital SLR. Most of her work 
revolves around life and events in urban L.A. 

*Writer Danielle Arender also contributed her art to this issue. 



82 AUDEMUS 



Audemus: Latin, First person plural verb of the infinitve 
audeo, "To Dare." We dare. Cousin words: audax, bold; 
audentia, courage; audaciter, boldly. Done with a certain 
audacity. 



$10 
ISSN Pending