The Writers' and Artists' Magazine
Wayne Community College
Goldsboro, North Carolina
Volume 27, April 2011
This twenty-seventh issue of
is dedicated to
Theresa White- Wallace
Secretary for the Language and Communication Department
For her voice that welcomes
For her gentleness that corrects
For being our essential editor
For her smile that keeps us on the right page
.. Matthew Forster
Jeanine Callaway Kathryn Spicer Jeff Williams
Rosalyn Lomax, Assistant Editor Ashley Merrill, Assistant Editor
Rosalyn Lomax, Editor Emerita Marian Westbrook, Editor Emerita
Danny Rollins and Torey Romero
Theresa White- Wallace
Educational Support Technologies Department
Majena Howell, Ken Jones and Ron Lane
Student Government Association
The Artists and Writers
No part of this magazine may be reproduced without permission. Copyright 201 1 Renaissance
Views expressed are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors of this institution.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
An Unusual Conversation 1 *Nancy Seate, Special Credit
Labels 2 Jordan A. Howell, Associate in Arts
Anticipation 2 Traycee Williams, Associate in Arts
Gratitude 3 *Terri Register, Associate in Arts
Ancestor Piece 4 Dawn Joyner, Associate in Arts
Flourish 5 Traycee Williams, Associate in Arts
To Keith 6 *Nancy Seate, Special Credit
Arthur's Shoes 7 Traycee Williams, Associate in Arts
Wish I Could Say It 8 Kelley Twiggs, Associate in Science
Eyes of Reality 8 Mallory Frederick, WEMCHS
Death of the Willow Tree 9 Kelley Twiggs, Associate in Science
Ventilation 9 Robin Smith, Associate in Science
Heartless 10 *Terri Register, Associate in Arts
Crisis 1 1 Wilson Hines, Associate in Arts
Eldritch 1 1 Miranda Kyle, Associate in Arts
Shoes 12 Danny Rollins, Department Chair,
Window Pain 13 Melissa Wright, Medical Coding
Reflections 13 Caitlyn Wheeler, Associate in Arts
Notions of the Atlantic Ocean 14 *Zachary Miller, Associate in Arts
Seeing Stars 14 Traycee Williams, Associate in Arts
The Great Downward Spiral 15 Jeff Williams, English Instructor
The Great Magnificent 15 Ra'Chel Stocks, Business Administration
Calypso 16 Kelley Twiggs, Associate in Science
The Beasts of Batchelors Island 16 Margaret Baddour, Humanities/Creative
Creative Writing Instructor
Gone Again 16 *Candace Jones, Associate in Arts
Rainforest 17 Kent Jemigan, Dual Enrollment
Or Am I 18 *Candace Jones, Associate in Arts
Stark 18 Traycee Williams, Associate in Arts
On Jarrett Road 19 Margaret Baddour, Humanities/Creative
Creative Writing Instructor
Gathering 19 Hye Jin Eom, Associate in Arts
Path to Solitude 20 Ashley Stafford, Associate in Arts
Communing With Nature 20 Kim Clark, Math Instructor
To Ride a Horse 21 Rebekah Lee, Associate in Science
The Peak of a Summit 22 E. S. Woodard, Associate in Arts
One Foot Before a Fat Knot 22 Wilson Hines, Associate in Arts
Maypole 22 Traycee Williams, Associate in Arts
Life is a Pick-Pocket 23 Jeff Williams, English Instructor
Beach Trip 23 Miranda Kyle, Associate in Arts
There's No Place Like Home 24 Theresa White-Wallace, Secretary,
Union of Soles 25 Amanda Parrish, Associate in General Education
Local Color 26 Ashley Shivar, English Instructor
What She Seams 26 Nicole Denise Hughes, Associate in Arts
Meridian 27 Jeff Williams, English Instructor
Serenity 27 *Candace Jones, Associate in Arts
Story of Love? 27 Debra Taylor, WEMCHS
Eating Off Tires 28 Cassie Duval, Associate Degree Nursing
Peace, Love, and Happiness 30 Caitlyn Wheeler, Associate in Arts
He is one of a kind 30 Julie Andrews, Associate in Arts
No Strings Attached 30 Jamelle Ingram, Associate in Arts
Caribou 31 Robin Smith, Associate in Arts
Easy Like Sunday Morning 31 Sadie Goulet, Associate in Arts
Dawning Sun 32 Anais Tatum, Associate in Arts
Trinity 32 Caitlyn Wheeler, Associate in Arts
Freedom Because of the Brave 33 Caitlyn Wheeler, Associate in Arts
Unnamed Heroes 33 Quardelia Moses, Associate in Arts
For the Good of the Middle East 33 Jordan A. Howell, Associate in Arts
The Mercenary 34 Matthew Forster, Associate in Science
Box of Magic 35 Miranda Kyle, Associate in Arts
The Game 36 Lisa Hankins, Associate in Arts
Foxed In 37 Ashlyn Hall, WEMCHS
A Field of Dreams and Hopes 38 Heath Radford, WEMCHS
Betrayal 39 Jeff Williams, English Instructor
Catch Me, Caress Me 39 *Candace Jones, Associate in Arts
Sacred Altar 39 Hye Jin Eom, Associate in Arts
Stand in the Rain 40 Mallory Frederick, WEMCHS
Reaching 40 Caitlyn Wheeler, Associate in Arts
The Lesson 41 Theresa White-Wallace, Secretary,
Value of Difference 42 Kayla Grant, WEMCHS
Math Poem 42 Holly Pittard, Dual Enrollment
Infinity of Affections 42 Braxton Moye, Associate in Science
Sine 42 Cheyenne Bowman, WEMCHS
Symmetry 43 Miranda Kyle, Associate in Arts
Words 43 Kayla Hill, Associate in Arts
My Grandmother's Desk 44 Traycee Williams, Associate in Arts
Song Of Myself 45 *Nancy Seate, Special Credit
My First Experience with Physical 46 Johnnie Webster, Associate in General Education
Violence or Danger
Collected 46 Traycee Williams, Associate in Arts
Got You Covered 47 Hye Jin Eom, Associate in Arts
My Driving Record 47 Ashley Shivar, English Instructor
Breakfast Everyday 48 *Adam Payne, Associate in Arts
A Simple Morning 48 Traycee Williams, Associate in Arts
Three Eggs 48 Traycee Williams, Associate in Arts
The Little River 49 John Aldridge, WEMCHS
Back Soon 49 Hye Jin Eom, Associate in Arts
Summer of the Birds 50 Margaret Baddour, Humanities/Creative
Creative Writing Instructor
Eye Charms 50 *Nancy Seate, Special Credit
Oh, Bee 50 Caitlyn Wheeler, Associate in Arts
The Water 51 Danny Rollins, Department Chair,
It Was Always 2:43 52 Carrie Connor, Human Services Technology
Beaufort Harbor 53 Traycee Williams, Associate in Arts
Goodnight, Sweet Princess 53 Jeff Williams, English Instructor
Unable 53 Jeanine Callaway, English Instructor
Clover 54 Miranda Kyle, Associate in Arts
Tornado 54 Delia Jarman, Associate in Arts
Real Thing 55 Xian Xaun Zeng, Associate in Science
Miranda 55 Miranda Kyle, Associate in Science
The Ghost Behind Me 56 Susan Willis, Emergency Preparedness Technology
Stillness 57 Caitlyn Wheeler, Associate in Arts
Procrastinator 58 Jonathan Joyner, Associate in Arts
How Not to be a Poet (how to be a poet) 58 Elijah Pipkin, Associate in Arts
Feed Me 59 Hye Jin Eom, Associate in Arts
How to Be Normal 60 Amanda Smith, Associate in Arts
*English 125 Creative Writing Students
An Unusual Conversation
He is awake, and it is morning.
I am delighted and tell him so.
I invite him to come with me.
He considers it, standing still, but hesitates.
"Oh, please, Dear, come on,"
I say, speaking soft, sweet tones.
"Come on," not to push him
but I want him to know I love him
to encourage him to join me.
He says, "Yes, I am awake but I'm not ready to get up,
only getting a drink of water."
He stops, stands and listens, tilts his head,
liking my voice and not rushing away
then turns and goes the other way.
Before he leaves he says, "I am afraid
and want to go back to bed," or "It's just too early."
You are so difficult, I think to myself.
Why don't you love me?
How long do I have to wait?
The impatient thought
of giving up enters my mind.
I know one day you may love me
It may be worth the wait.
I, as no other, understand you.
You are meant to be with me
for only I can help you with your fear.
It's not easy having you with me, but I can wait.
The only one who will, the only one who can.
That man you see is black
The woman there is red
And the one that does our garden work
Is gay, the white man said.
The man up there is rich
The man down there is poor
And the lady from across the street
Is thought to be a whore.
Christian, Muslim, Buddhist
Intelligent or a fool
Underweight or overweight
Generous or cruel.
High school's known for labels
The real world's just the same
Known by your appearance
Instead of by your name.
But lay me down without a label
In a grave I'd rather rot
Than be branded by what is seen
Instead of what is not.
Jordan A. Howell
Anticipation Traycee Williams
I was christened in a grand pool of radiant light,
on a steady autumn day.
I heard a song of my soul streaming in the cool
zephyr current, whistling in the air.
Life is a ballad of truths, explored through the eyes
that gather our epic existence, that is — everything!
The riches of our world may ruin a resplendent
rapture of harvested treasures, arousing a bewildered
spirit into complete shallowness, expanding
beyond the realms of any breathing being.
I will not exhaust myself with limited passions.
The wonders of today provide me
with unexpected thrills, welcomed with the birth
of each waking moment.
My gratefulness resolves the debt of doubt.
I live free from the restraints of coveting more
Than is meant solely for me.
A keenness moves throughout my veins
from the absence of secular demands, which
may hamper the moods woven into vitality.
There is a fascination in the obvious if you observe
slightly closer from an untainted view.
The allure of recognizing inescapable beauty
in all that is unconditioned love.
The essence of man, animal, and nature
intertwined with the divine.
I say a prayer for those that came before me,
for myself, and for those that come after.
We are one in an expansive universe
and I float to the top of the pool of undying brilliance
that is to be experienced
with glorified gratitude.
The art of life — I see, I feel, and I will be.
Atop a sprawling, green hillside, high above the sea, situated well within the crescent-
shaped rock alcove, is the village of my people. The land we inhabit is lush and fertile and yields
all the crops and herbs that will sustain us all of our lives. The seemingly never-ending fields of
lavender saturate the air with its distinct sweet scent. Besides the abundant supply of fish from
the generous sea, wild pigs and other small creatures are hunted for food. Also, we raise goats,
chickens, and jackasses used primarily for burden work. Life in this community is a collabora-
tive effort — man, woman, and child — all participate in the sometimes mundane, sometimes ardu-
ous rituals of everyday life.
Although there are no class distinctions in the community, there is an intrinsic motiva-
tion among my people to assume the roles of the traditional family. In other words, the women
are nurturers and caretakers, the men assume their positions as protectors and providers, and the
children learn to respect all elders.
A typical morning is marked by the sound of the sea as it thrashes against the edge of
the speckled marble-colored sand, almost like a natural alarm clock. Birds singing their wake-
up songs and the guttural echoes of the wild pigs also serve as a testament to the dawn of a new
day. As the sun begins to make its daily ascent, vibrant rays of yellowish gold light filter through
the small, symmetrical hand-made windows of the pueblos. It is about this time when another
sound becomes audible — thud, thud, thud — the sound the dough makes as it hits the primitive
copper pans. The women of the village are preparing (just the way their mothers taught them)
the pancakes for the morning meal. Now another generation of daughters sit close by, intently
observing the familiar task as their mothers expertly manipulate the flour mixture. I am here now
squatting down next to my mother. "Here, daughter," she says, gently taking my hand for me to
receive the soft, moist, cool dough. As I ever so gingerly attempt to emulate my dear mother, it
is quite apparent that I have much to learn. The younger children are more interested in the game
of the day, "pull the tail on the goat," rather than doing the chore of fetching milk from the goats.
The men, who can be described as brazen but never boorish, are quintessential huntsmen. Robed
appropriately in hunting garb and clutching spears and knives, the men gather to discuss the
ensuing hunt; however, most of the jabber is in the form of bragging about who will bring in the
By noon most tasks in the village are finished, for soon it will be too hot to do anything.
The women have already gathered the squash, corn, and herbs in preparation for the evening
meal. The women who had gone to the sea to wash are just strolling back into the village with
wet children close behind. The men have returned from the hunt with no less than three pigs and
a couple of baskets of delectable wild berries which will be a great compliment to the gamey
taste of the meat. All are looking forward to the afternoon rest, a siesta, if you will.
The going down of the sun signals what is a sacred time of the day for the village. It's time for
the evening meal; the villagers refer to it as the "great meal." My people believe in the Divine
One, and we have a great respect for the Earth. We believe that if you are good to the earth, it
will be good to you. The evening meal is a time of fellowship and celebration, as well as a time
to give thanks. During the meal, one of the elders tells stories about the forefathers. The elders,
highly esteemed within the community, are full of wisdom that transcends the wisdom of others,
and it behooves them to pass down the truths and beliefs that have been taught them.
Musical notes, seeming to float in on the tail of the warm breeze, have begun to fill the
air. My cousin, in his princely manner, has taken a position on a large rock to play his hand-
made zither. He is an accomplished musician and master craftsperson. The instrument is a mar-
vel to look at with its intricate, precisely detailed carvings and designs, all done by his capable
hands. This is a marvel within itself — my cousin was born blind, but I don't think anyone ever
told him. All the women, adorned in their finely hand-sewn robes of reds, golds, and blues, sing
songs and dance for what seems like hours. Due to weariness, most of the community has taken
retreat in their respective sanctuaries. I, in my day-dream world, decide to take a few more mo-
ments to behold the great big moon at the very tippy top of the sky. It seems to beckon me to
dive in. I stretch my hands high above my head, clasp my palms tighter ready to take the plunge,
but instead I let out a big yawn. As I walk slowly toward our humble clay abode, my mother's
words filter through my mind — "Good sleep is good for the soul; it lets you face the next day
I went to college at seventeen
It was a year before you became my first best friend
All your friends became mine
My memory book from college sits
On the shelf in my mind
You are on every page
Pages become movies; I remember what was said
The time, the place, who was there, the pauses in conversations
How we looked, what I wore, and what we ate
Parties, concerts, doing college projects together
Some thought you were like a rock and roll star
Distant, different in your own attitude and appearance
But I knew you were the boy who dreamed of home
Of cornfields rusting and black eyed peas in a bowl
Served the right way, in a soup not on a plate
The memories never change, only get more detailed
Kept locked in time on those pages
A classmate asked me once, "Who is that guy?"
I was puzzled. "The one you're always so happy around."
I was twenty, pleased with what she said
It was enough
Then, you, who were always rebelling
Making all your own rules, always laughing and carefree
Sometimes irresponsible in life
Got a job offer in New York
Several of us took you to the airport
Watching until the plane flew away
The brown box tied with red embroidery thread
Where I saved all your visits from the mail
Filled with napkins from famous restaurants you went to
Matchbooks, poems, ticket stubs, letters, postcards
Stage programs with your name in them
Arrived from many places
I graduated, choosing the path of nine to five
I still got new mementos and cards for my box
You did come home for a visit and invited me, too
We all went to Atlantic Beach, saw boats through the glass
Ate fried fish and hushpuppies served by ladies in white uniforms
With silent matching shoes
Our parallel roads and overlapping photos
Had tarnished a bit with time
But love remained.
The letters that filled my box slowly lessened
The Christmas in July phone calls
Until that winter night when the last call came
It was not from you
But from your brother
Wish I Could Say It
I hate you, simply because I want you
You are beautiful and strong
Muscles pulled tight under sunburnt skin
Dark eyes full of laughter
I love you, simply because I can't have you
You are pretty and intelligent
Plump lips stained with pink
Curvy hips wanting to be touched
I hate you, simply because you don't know me
You are ignorant and young
Stupid jokes and comments
Disgusted by what you don't understand
I love you, simply because you know I do
You are gentle and caring
Sweet voice and soothing words
Trying to heal what you broke
I hate you — stupid boy
I love you — pretty girl
Eyes of Reality
At the photos on the wall I stared
And on the walls of my mind I could see
A child dreaming however she dared
Her mind free to imagine all she could be.
Time had bound her not
When once she was a child.
On a carefree breeze she was caught
Laughing and wondering all the while.
But from my eyes I see
A serpent around that innocent mind
Choking and stifling every dream.
Young dreams time will bind.
Death of the Willow Tree
I bet it was easy
Pulling the willow tree
Out of the ground
You twisted her branches
Till they popped
Crushed her leaves
Ripped off her bark
Then killed her
Taking her roots from the earth
You twisted her
Until something snapped inside
Ventilation Robin Smith
I'm moving slow like syrup
Heavy with sentiment
I am heartless
Coarsely caring for your fragile wounds
Scraped raw of emotion
You ask and I don't deny
I want to repent
Agonizing in the failed pleasures
Of my transgressions
I break you into tiny pieces
Just because I can
With mighty impassiveness
But I want you to show me how to be true
I've realized I'm no different than you
Relieve me from my thoughtless antics
I've never been much of a romantic
How sweet redemption must be
You are the only reminder of what I know of
Today is here and how sad I've become
Devoid of desire
Emptiness when you look in my eyes and see
I won't tell a lie
I want the price to be paid
For the carelessness of my selfish deeds
Infinitely indebted to you
Robbed your riches
What a crime!
I will do the time
Created hell in my heavenly ways
God save me from myself
Living each day as if it were my last
I've become captive without a cage
Anger harboring with an absence of rage
Tangled among the remnants
Of our degrading the hours of yesterday!
I need to be redeemed
Wash me in your tears that stream
Because you are my salvation
And I am heartless
The word crisis conjures up a plethora of things in different people's minds.
You are aware of the hurricane, the crisis, that marches for a month from West Africa. It
boils and churns all the way to the West Indies, and we see the wrath of someone's God and the
mercy of another's God, all wrapped up in a 500-mile behemoth of wind, rain, and clouds. It
crosses near Cuba and makes up its sovereign mind where it wants to ravage. It enters the Gulf
and picks up steam and we watch. We watch from Chicago as if we were twenty miles from its
A good crisis empties the shelves of bread and milk, and even plywood. The mind of
the capitalist thinks, "Oh, if I could only control the weather." We will watch a crisis. We love
drama, and we love the anguish of other people. And while we are watching, may we remember
to say, "Oh, the humanity."
We love to watch a good crisis.
Eldritch Miranda Kyle
I know your shoes,
I know your shoes;
the compulsive knots
I watch for them every afternoon,
that strangle the laces,
buried, as I am,
the arrowed weave of dimples
beneath the timbered tresses
on the double-stitched wings;
that press against my spine,
I've memorized the lusty curve
buried beneath the steel cage
of the muffled tongue
that stinks of rust and mildew;
and the autumn hue of the dye
I lie still
only my eyes
I know your shoes,
mechanical as time
and the mud they track
from your car to my door,
watching your shoes;
across the planks
too afraid to tremble,
of my bedroom floor;
I hide with my prayers,
silt and leaves,
my shallow breaths,
the slush of snow,
and my make-believe comforts
seasons pass, marked upon your soles
that desert me
at the sudden sting of your hand
I know your shoes,
gripping my ankle,
soured leather soles
dragging me across the floor
streaked with grease from the train
and to your belt
oil from the street,
drunkened by beer
I know your shoes;
spilled on the barroom floor
the lingering gleam
stained by the excrement
of the morning polish
from the nameless cinema downtown
on the toe-tops;
I know your shoes,
my duplicate faces
their railing tick,
deflect left and right
their resonance in the wooden room
past my escaping gaze;
their halting shuffle, stomp, stop, pivot,
I hold my breath;
tap the ash of cigarette
my cheeks rehearse their flinchinj
I've measured the creases of your trousers
my eyes flicker
caused by their stooping
anticipating the burn;
every day at six-fifteen
I suck my lips tightly
to search for the boy
flush the blood,
hiding beneath the bed
and guard the teeth, the tongue,
that begins every afternoon
Melissa A. Wright
Lifeless, cold, cruel world is all I see as I gaze out my window. So much pain and despair
on the faces of the people who pass by my window. The faces are long as the road ahead of me.
I once saw so much beauty in my neighbor's garden; now all I see is death and decay. Hearing
the laughter of children in the neighborhood would always bring a smile to my face. The laugh-
ter has faded, and now all I hear is the sweet song of loneliness. The haunting memories of the
youth are all I have to tuck me in at night. The life I once lived that was full of happiness and
loved ones is now empty as a poor man's cupboard. Joy and happiness are long lost feelings that
no longer visit this cold house. As old age slowly steals my joy as it once stole my beloved, I
will sit and stare out my window pain. The window that used to bring me light now brings the
darkness called life. My pain and sorrow are all the legacy I have to leave this world. My hus-
band and children all went to glory without me. I once saw all beauty of nature, birds, bees, and
spring's rain, but now as I look out my window, all I see is pain. I feel the cold winter embracing
me like a lost love through my gray window pain.
Notions of the Atlantic Ocean
The shift from burning, sinking feet to outward stretching patches
Of lighter sand as I near the water's edge
The tightening of my skin on this thin cotton bed
The cool breeze blowing; my toes pointing towards Atlantis
The squawking, feathered, flying birds
The children laughing, rushing toward the water
Turning, bolting back towards mother and father
And the comfort of their words
The out of rhythm waves tick-tocking like a clock
There is peace though in their grumblings
And their altruistic mumbling
Metronoming all of life and rumbling silence to the dock
The grainy, salty, feeling on my fleshy now
The chirping, burning, freshness of my soul
The pious sense of God I seem to know
The cool, rambunctious joy of sundown
Peace and joy and love and fancy castles made from pails
Atlantic Ocean beaches always feel like home to me
Seeing Stars Traycee Williams
The Great Downward Spiral
You say you want a typewriter
I say I want a guitar
We both go out to wish
Upon two red giant stars
You say you'll take Aldebaran
I say I want that too
But I move on to Pollux
Which clouds cut off from view
I hear your wishful murmurings
You say with grand design
I stand and watch water vapor
And wish your star was mine
Someone once said that envy
Is love twisted by desire
Our end comes as we gaze
Up at a universe on fire
The Beasts of Batchelors Island
The water gets deeper
With each step I take
Oh, Calypso, must you try to kill me
Every time we meet
I reach for you
And find myself half drowned, gagging
Sea water in my mouth
Pirates and gold
Shiny little trinkets
Not all the treasure in the world
Could keep me from you
These creatures graze between islands,
lumber in the shallows.
Through binoculars we watch
their bovine progress.
What trick of evolution
crosses such wild beasts,
sheep with cows with horses with goats?
Desperation on a wild island.
Oh, Calypso, my dear
You rugged, unmerciful beast
I'll find you and bind you
Swallow another medallion
A skull marked across my heart
Flesh sick, sore
From the tidal waves
She stole my breath
Cut out my heart
With her crown of seashells
Lack of love
the smell of alcohol in the air
at my expense
was more than I could bear
I'm glad you're finally free
I'm sorry you didn't bring me
Or Am I
I am weak
I am dumb.
I am shy
I am ugly
I am a waste of space, or am I?
In your eyes, I am all of these things
incorporated into one meaningless soul
But to me, I am something more. I am
stronger than you would've ever imagined
I am the wisdom that can see you are
the waste of space in my life
otherwise filled with beauty and productivity
I am a soldier
the soldier that never intended
to weather such a furious war
but I shall throw up my white flag
I am a winner
the winner who can smell victory
regardless of how often you push me down
I slowly pick myself up and wipe myself off
I am the daughter of a father
with such a hateful tongue and fist
However, I decide
I decide to learn from my experiences
I decide to love others and, importantly, myself
I decide to grow
Are you scared?
Because once I start, there's no looking back
I am like a flower that refuses to be picked
my beauty shadowing over all negativity
I am new
I am life
I am here
My cup is half full
and I am hopeful
Or am I?
On Jarrett Road
Western N.C. 2010— for Tommy Jarrett
After sleeping with screens
in the cool September air
under the wide, starred mountain night
he wakes to the lowing of cows.
Purple asters flank roadsides
and the rushing river that meets
Chatuge Lake that blends
with the blue, blue mountain sky.
Cousins up and down the road
come by to see the man
who went East. Harry and Fannie
visit on the lawn, share folklore,
photographs of childhood birthdays
in skirts, family trees, the old
telephone with ear piece, ringers,
"but most folks just hollered
down the road." On the lawn
all green golden, early Fall,
the afternoon sun goes down
over the hill. The silence of the place rings in his head,
clings to his faithful heart.
Communing With Nature
Breezes stir the leaves above
life rustles the ivy below.
A puff of cream weaves in and out
of flowers lush and low.
To the side sits an old birdbath
filled with a flutter of red.
A sudden noise, a flash of wings
The cardinals all have fled.
At year's edge a golden plume
Cuts a swath deep and wide
A joyful yelp, a wagging tail,
Katie plays outside.
To Ride a Horse
"I heard a neigh. Oh, such a brisk and melodious neigh as that was! My very heart
leaped with delight at the sound." When Nathaniel Hawthorne described Pegasus in "The Chi-
mera," he appreciated the feelings of joy a horse can give with a simple whinny. When I first step
onto a horse farm, my senses are flooded by everything around me.
Stepping out onto the farm, I see vibrant green pasture, and I know I have arrived. Just
taking a breath fills my nostrils with a fresh scent unlike any other. The most noticeable smell is
of grass and hay, but just in the recesses of my mind, I identify that one smell that is sweeter than
any other, the smell of horse. Not able to be bottled or captured in any way, the scent of horse is
one not easily described, but beloved by any horseman or woman. Within the pasture, I can see
a small pond shimmering like diamonds in the waning sunlight. In the background, standing tall
like monarchs of the forest are rows of pines lining the property.
Finally, my eyes focus on what I had come for, two horses standing as still as statues
watching me approach, one golden chestnut, one chocolate brown. When the horses hear the
chain on the gate rattle open, they come at a full run to greet their guest. The thundering of
hooves drowns out the quiet whisper of wind blowing through the trees. The two horses continue
to close the gap between us, and I begin to wonder if they ever plan on stopping. At the last pos-
sible moment, the two thousand-pound animals lock their legs, plant their feet, and slide to an
impossibly close stop. No matter how many times they do this, my heart is always in my throat
at the sight of these two magnificent creatures just waiting to be doted on.
I reach up to the horse standing closest, the chocolate brown gelding with a flaxen col-
ored mane and tail. He drops his head to greet me with his large expressive eyes like brown
orbs looking into my own with nothing but unconditional love. Stroking a hand down his sleek
summer coat, I grasp a silky hunk of his mane and pull myself up onto his back. Without either
a bridle or a saddle, both the horse and I can experience total freedom. With nothing more than a
thought and the slightest touch of a heel, the two of us turn and begin to move as one across the
pasture. As I wrap my fingers in his mane and lean forward over his withers, my heart leaps with
anticipation of what's to come. He begins to prance as he anticipates my order, and finally, I give
him just the slightest touch with my heel, and he surges forward into a gallop. He floats over the
pasture, eating up the ground with his fluid strides. I cannot help but laugh out loud over the rush
of wind in my ears as we fly across the ground not as a horse and rider, but as one. As I laugh
aloud, I taste my hair whipping in my mouth, or is it the horse's mane? It doesn't matter because
at that very moment, I realize I have no problems, no stress, no schoolwork, and no troubles. In
that sweet moment, my senses all run together, and in my heart, I know that life is good.
One Foot Before a Fat Knot
The Peak of a Summit
The peak of the summit
From here all is seen
All directions and paths are visible
Which path to choose?
It would be easy to take one
To pick a direction and just follow it
One must be chosen soon
For the sun is almost over head
Should that path prove
To be full wrong
Or to stray from the path
Only from this peak
Could the way be found again
There must be reached before sunset
A return would be costly of time
Where to there?
Perhaps the Sun will not set
Here on the summit
No, the sun has set
Even here at the peak
There are no stars
There is only the void
A vortex of darkness
From which demons cannot flee
A chasm whose bottom is
The peak of a summit
E. S. Woodard
One foot left, only one foot left before a fat knot.
I slip somewhat and I feel it.
I suppose skin is on the rope and blood, too.
Their eyes see me, but they will not look at me.
Facing otherwise, looking with suspicion.
Slipping, six meager inches remain.
Their eyes widen not. The mind races through the options.
For fear of darkness, I have not ever looked down.
They have already seen the other side of my feet.
The knot's end is not as comfortable as imagined.
It grinds into my fists with the twist of the rope.
There is no gasp from my audience. No urgency prevails.
They watch now, turned to me. One handed
I am simply at the end of my rope
And hold to the last with one hand.
They have turned to another. Darkness envelops me.
My teeth grind with the pain.
My tries are in vain.
Maypole Traycee Williams
Life is a Pick-Pocket
Life is a pick-pocket. Nimble fingers slipping
like mice through walls on old and rusty pipes,
secrets like corpses exhumed, exposed, and
traded with fences, memories like money
spent, blown on some three card monty man,
your days filled with brushes and strewn paper,
compartments flooded with old chewing gum,
tiny little pills from long expired prescriptions,
fading photos in wallets that no longer snap.
Life is a pick-pocket; you're a shabby purse.
Beach Trip Miranda Kyle
There's No Place Like Home
My husband Bill and I attended a wedding at the beach. The reception was held at a
nearby restaurant. After the ceremony, we talked to the bride's parents for a while and then
headed for the restaurant. The restaurant was less than five minutes away. We had our Yahoo
directions, plus our friends had given us directions. We left the wedding at 5:30 p.m., and the re-
ception was to begin at 6: 15 p.m. An hour later, at 6:30 p.m., Bill and I were parked on the side
of the road. Lost!
Bill and I had driven in separate cars to the wedding, and only Bill had directions to the
reception, so we kept in touch via cell phone. The first street we turned on was correct. We then
came to a fork in the road. Bill told me to turn right, but I felt we needed to turn left. We drove
for a while, and Bill said that maybe left is what we should have done. We stopped and asked
for directions. We turned around and headed back in the direction we had come from. We drove
back over the bridge and still couldn't find the correct road or restaurant. We stopped a second
time and asked for directions. We followed the directions we were given but still couldn't find
the restaurant. We drove up and down the streets, crossed the bridge several more times, and
decided to ask for directions again. This time we were told that the restaurant was on the other
side of the island. We drove back over the bridge and turned left at the fork in the road. The
road took us to places that we had not seen before; then, the road ended. I didn't know whether
to laugh or cry. It was 6:30 p.m., and we were at a dead end road. We parked the cars, and Bill
got into my car. We decided to forget the reception. We really didn't know where we were and
we didn't know how to get to the road that would take us to Jacksonville.
Trying to find the reception was not the only problem we had. Our driving was horrible.
We made U turns where U turns were not allowed. We crossed several lanes in a moment. We
pulled out in front of people without any warning. Angels were definitely watching over us. And
to top that off, Bill's cell phone was dying. He kept his phone off, and when he needed me to
call him, he would stick his phone out the window. It looked like something out of an I Love
By some miracle, we found the road to Jacksonville. Bill told me to get in front of him
as we headed for Jacksonville. Then Bill called and asked if I wanted to stop and eat. I told
him to let me think about it, and I would call him back. I told him I would stick my cell phone
out the window when I needed to call him. Bill said, "Are you sure you want to do that?" With
my luck I would probably drop it out the window. We decided I would signal with my brake
lights. I finally told Bill that I wanted to wait until we got to Cape Carteret. Just before we got
to Swansboro, I looked out my rearview mirror and didn't see Bill. "Oh my gosh, I've lost him!"
It turned out that he had switched lanes.
It was 8:30 p.m. before we arrived at the parsonage. We were tired, hungry, and mentally
exhausted. After we unloaded the cars, Bill said, "You realize the wedding gift is still in your
trunk." I didn't even respond, but the look on my face spoke volumes. Bill knew he had said the
wrong thing at the wrong time. We put our pajamas on and ate in silence. Later, I turned to Bill
and said, "You know, it's only by the grace of God that we are alive." We laughed and not much
more was said. As the events of the day played over and over in my mind that night, I knew that
I never wanted to experience the feeling of being lost again.
Several months later, Bill and I attended a church-related General Assembly Conference
held in Orlando, Florida. The first morning we were there, Deborah, one of the ladies in our
district, and I decided to do some sight seeing while our husbands were in meetings. We walked
over to the convention center, a little over a mile from the hotel. Later, we met up with another
lady and walked to one of the nearby restaurants and had a late lunch. After lunch we headed
back to the hotel. Deborah and I wanted to walk back to the hotel, but Lisa wanted to ride the
trolley since she had taken the trolley to the convention center earlier that morning. Lisa would
take the trolley, and Deborah and I would walk. Lisa then said, "Here comes the trolley." Debo-
rah and I decided to ride the trolley with her. After we saw much of the town and some things
twice, the trolley stopped, and the driver said that this would be his last stop. We were on the
wrong trolley. We walked for several blocks and waited for the next trolley in the blistering heat.
We all felt relieved as the trolley drove up. As long as no one was standing up on the trolley, it
wasn't so bad. But when all the seats were taken and people had to stand, the trolley became
very hot and claustrophobic. We passed the convention center, Sea World, and other Orlando
sights three or four more times. I became a little more stressed each time we passed one of the
sights. I wondered if the madness would ever stop. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone or in the
movie Groundhog Day. And then it happened. We were told that we were on the wrong trolley.
"Oh please, God, not again," I thought. By the third trolley, I was hot, tired, and wanted to cry.
When the trolley let us off at our stop, we looked around and realized we still had to walk a half a
mile to the hotel. Poor Lisa got a lot of grief for that. As we were coming up on the hotel, I told
Lisa and Deborah that the first thing that I was going to do was buy a $ 1 .50 Coca-Cola, because I
needed something stronger than water. I took the Coke back to my room, retrieved the ice bucket
and filled it with ice. I thought about how right Dorothy was when she said, "There's no place
Union of Soles Amanda Parrish
There is a surveillance tape of my grandmother
taking off her pantyhose in the canned vegetable
aisle of the local Piggly Wiggly.
She was tired of wearing them so in front of the green
beans and asparagus, she bent her frail frame, as if shucking corn,
and stripped her legs.
Somewhere in the Piggly Wiggly I am sure there is a video,
and I want to get the stock boy to find it so I can always remember.
Because the doctor keeps saying it's coming, looming over us
and I have been writing eulogies for years.
What She Seams Nicole Denise Hughes
My love is rain on still waters
or clouds that blow over green hills
or leaves that softly fall to ground
and travel tall waves of grass.
There you go again
posted on a tree like a leaf
or on a door or a wall
anyplace that will keep
your curious soul elevated in the air
you're plotting where your
sticky feet will land next
My clouds fall to the same mountain,
my rain into a single ocean,
one constant circle, one single wave
that breaks upon the same shore.
Somewhere on an Atlantic ship
through billows of white canvas sails,
shortwave radio calls to signal
exact time for a whirling clock.
You are Greenwich Mean Time
spoken with a clipped British voice,
my constant prime meridian,
my black wind, my night moon.
Story of Love?
With action swift as a snake I broke your trust
And my words like venom, your heart
In my weakness I succumbed to lust
So you scold me.
No reason do I have to be sad
When I cause my fall
The world says to be mad
But you love me.
For no matter what I say or do
Sweet love like honey will always come from
Eating Off Tires
I woke up in the backseat of a boat-sized Buick Le Saber. Glancing up at the clock on the dash-
board, I could barely register what time it was. It was six-thirty in the morning. I tried to wake my
sister by nudging her in the side with my elbow.
"It's time for school, Kelly."
It was hard to tell if she was awake just by looking at her pink-swollen eyes. Her teeth were chatter-
ing as she said, "What time is it, Nay-Nay?"
"It's time to get ready for school," I replied.
We slowly and reluctantly shrugged out of our coats and began putting on our clothes for school.
Going to school was my happy time. I got to be a kid and mingle with my friends like everything
was okay. If they only knew what was going through my head all day! The bell rang to go to class.
Slowly, I walked to my homeroom. During class the teacher's voice went from a steady lecture to a
faded mumble, kind of like what Charlie Brown hears when any adult talks to him. While the sound
of wheels turning in my head kept my mind busy, I felt something hit the back of my head. I found
a balled up piece of paper laying directly below me. I smoothed out the piece of paper; it said, "Hey,
this is Cynthia, are you okay?"
It was hard to figure out what to write back on that piece of paper because the only thing that I could
hear in my head was my mama telling me that if I told anyone what happened, then social services
would take me away from my family. I finally wrote, "Yeah, I'm just really tired."
While the teacher's back was turned, I balled the piece of paper back up and threw it across the room.
I did not look to see if she had read it because, quite frankly, I did not care. Bell after bell rang as the
day went on, and my stress level rose because I knew what waited for me when school was over. 2:50
came. I went outside to wait for my friend Shae to pick me up so I could take a shower at her house.
I was twelve years old. It was a cold Virginia winter. I had been living with mom and her boy-
friend Rodney for three years. He had three of the best kids in the world. Renee was his oldest by
two minutes, and she and I were the closest out of the bunch. What piqued my interest in this girl
was the simple fact that we had the same name. We used to do everything together. We would make
forts and look through the yearbook to pick which guy was "boyfriend material." Her twin brother
R.J. was the most mischievous. Most of his pleasure came out of making fun of the dances that we
made up to our favorite songs or chasing us around the living room with a mouse he had found in the
kitchen. Jessica was the youngest of Rodney's kids. She looked like a life-sized china doll — skin
like porcelain and eyes like the bluest sea. I remember her playing with my sister's hair and dressing
her up as her favorite princess. Kelly was crazy over the girl! Rodney was a good man, and he cared
for us as if we were his own. His simple-mindedness, broad shoulders, and hunched back made me
think of him as a Neanderthal. He was simple, but he loved my mom, and he built a house on Sandy
Ridge to prove it.
Drug addiction, the money problems, and the lies were all to blame. Mama did not have a thing
to call her own. It started out as a prescription for her anxiety and stress. Then it progressed into
a heavy addiction to anything she could get her hands on. This addiction was a green monster that
haunted our family for years, sucking every penny my mother ever earned. The lies grew thicker and
thicker over time, so thick in the air that sometimes it was hard to breathe. I remember my mother
sitting in the recliner in a cloud of cigarette smoke, fighting the weight of her eyelids. I would think
to myself, with my nostrils flared, "Is somethin' burnin'?" When I looked in the corner where Mom
was sitting, I would see that she had finally dropped her cigarette again. It would not be long before
she wanted to go on one of her little trips again. "I'm goin' to Walmart to get a magazine," she would
always say. We would not see her for another seven hours, and tonight was one of those nights.
I was in Renee's bedroom, painting my toenails and listening to Ja Rule on the new radio I had just
gotten for Christmas when I heard once again, "I'm goin' to Walmart to get a magazine." Rodney
had been getting suspicious, but he let her go anyway. Through the window I could see the red glow
of Rodney's white Chevy Silverado disappearing into the night. I glanced at the clock on the wall.
It was four o'clock, and we had just gotten off the school bus. I knew what my mom was doing all
along, but if I blew her cover, then I would have to start all over again in a new town, new school, and
Kelly was a nosy little kid who had to be the first one to answer the phone when it would ring,
just to make sure that the call wasn't for her. Six hours went by. I could feel my palms getting
sweaty. I looked at the clock again, and it was 10: 1 5 at night. I did not hear the phone ring, but it
must have, because I could see Kelly sprinting to the kitchen like her rear end was on fire. She yelled,
echoing through the house, "Rodney, Mike is on the phone for you!" I knew Mike from a few weeks
earlier when I took one of those little rides with Mom to "Walmart," and I knew tonight was not go-
ing to end well when I heard that name.
Rodney walked out of the kitchen with his lips quivering and his face red with anger. After he col-
lected himself, he gathered us around him and said, "I love you guys, but tonight we have to go to
sleep early." Unlike the other kids, I knew why Rodney looked as if he was going to cry. It was
because his heart was shattered.
The house got quiet, so quiet that all I could hear was the hum of the heater running in the living
room. I looked above my head at the alarm clock to see what time it was. It was 3:00 in the morn-
ing. I heard the door creep open and slowly shut. I got out of bed and carefully tip-toed to the edge
of my door so I could get a peek at what was about to happen. The living room was too dark to see
facial expressions, but I knew Rodney was mad because the only thing I could hear was him shuf-
fling around in the leather-like chair sitting in the corner of our living room. Mom was on one of her
fixes because she was walking as if she had just learned how to take her first steps. My heart started
to sputter when I heard those lies start to come out of her mouth. The last lie was met with a boulder-
sized fist. I knew Mama hit the floor because it sounded like my heavy backpack hitting the floor
after a hard day at school. I did not know if I should scream or stay quiet. My mommy just got hit,
and I couldn't defend her. If I said something, would he come after me?
Before I realized it, I found myself at my mom's side, trying to shake her awake. All I could hear for
the next few seconds was Rodney crying and saying sorry over and over again. Mom finally came
back to consciousness. She grabbed her head, looked up at me, and swept me off my feet. With my
sister in her other arm, Mom made her way to her car in the front yard and threw us into the front
seat. The only thing that I could see through the frosted window and my tears was my mom pointing
her finger in Rodney's face and her head going up and down dramatically. She snatched the driver's
side door open. I could finally see what he had done to her face when she was under the dimdome
light. Her cheek was black and blue, and her eye looked as if it were matted by glue. The only thing
that could get through was the glimmer of a teardrop. Mom shut the car door, and it instantly got
dark and quiet. She put the car in reverse, and we made our way out into the cold night.
We did not have family around Coebrun at the time, so a safe place to stay was out of the ques-
tion. I remember asking my mom where we were going, and she replied, "Honey, we're goin' to
have to stay in the car 'til I figure somethin' out, ok?" We pulled up to an old abandoned house in
the backside of the woods. Mom turned off the car and took a deep breath. She bundled us up in
the coats we had grabbed on the way out and kissed us goodnight. I woke up in the back seat of my
mom's boat-sized Buick Le Sabre. The clock on the dashboard read 6:30 A.M. Waking up my sister
was impossible because we were exhausted from the night before. We had to eat off the tires for the
next week, all because of addiction and lies.
Peace, Love, and Happiness
Peace is so much more
Than a sign or a dove
It is a new frame of mind
And open arms that will love
Love is so much more
Than a simple one night stand
It is a fire in your heart
And a golden wedding band
Life is so much more
Than the things that you can buy
It is a tiny little baby
And the sound of his first cry
Some people are overrated
Tattered, shattered, and abused
Happy, joyful and successful
Overworked and misused
But you and I hold the power
All we have to do is choose
To take the words that I have written
And put all to good use
He is one of a kind
He is one of a kind
Who shines brighter than the sun
And when I hear his voice
It's as if he's the only one
His eyes, his lips, his furrowed brow
And how he'd never boast
His laugh, his smile, his giving heart
Are the things I love the most
When he looks at me all time stops
Everything stands still
He tells me that he loves me
And I know he always will
When he is not around
Colors are not as bright
His happy disposition always
Casts a ray of light
And when he is gone from this world
And all the stars grow dim
I will think of all the time we shared
There is no one else like him
No Strings Attached
If I wasn't what you thought of me,
Would you still love me unconditionally?
Would you still treat me with respect?
And would you still admire my intellect?
Could I still steal a kiss from off your lips?
And could I still hold your hand and caress your hips?
If my words are out of place,
And if the context is laced with distaste
Then I am sorry because my heart has no bounds
On what my mind sees as the truth.
Won't you please stop rejecting my reflection?
You inundate my senses with a sea of misery.
Do you even still love me?
I want to know will we stay together or fall apart,
With no strings attached and a damaged heart.
Easy Like Sunday Morning
I cannot remember what happened, or who was involved, but the golden light seeping
through the crusty remnants of sleep on my eyelashes pulled me further from the details of my
dream. This time it was not the jolting announcement of dawn that lured me from the depths of
my unconscious, just the soft glow of morning. As I yawned, stretched, and cocooned myself
back into the cloud I had been floating in, I rolled over onto a cool spot, the one that still smelled
like shampoo and lavender oil, and attempted to diffuse a memory of my dream from the pillows
into my curls. After little success, I allowed the intoxicating aroma of my cloud to lull me back
into the darkness behind my eyelids, the faint smell of coffee adding to the pleasantness. But I
realized the coffee smelled stale, and the glow that was dancing through the cracks in my shades
seemed a bit more piercing than moments before. Suddenly, the softness of my bed sheets
became suffocating, and I wondered why my alarm never rang. Why was the house so quiet?
Reality trickled through my veins like cold sweat after a bad dream. Through a whirlwind of
sheets and papers, I attempted to find my clothes from the previous night and organize my books
into a portable cluster. My morning breath and lack of consciousness were the least of my con-
cerns. Where were my keys? Flying out of the door as if being chased by the monsters under
my bed, I strongly debated grabbing a cup of coffee, taking into consideration the time and my
surreal state. I decided against it as I flung my books onto the passenger seat of my car, check-
ing the time again to gauge the necessary speeds in store for my old engine. But as I glanced at
my phone, something did not match up. "Sun, Sep 5 10:15 am" was clearly lit up at the bot-
tom of the screen, and this I read several times before scanning the street to see what neighbors
witnessed my little show. As frustration and embarrassment flushed my cheeks, I grabbed my
portable cluster of books and slipped back inside for a cup of coffee.
The rain beats steadily against the pane
I wonder if it will ever stop
But then again what have I to gain?
When morning comes I'll be at the top
I watch the people slowly prevail
Along the winding road and against the wind and rain
But where they will soon succeed I'll fail
Their struggle is nothing to my pain
Does anyone know how I feel?
Does anyone care about me?
I wish they could know how lucky they are to be free
Constantly I try to fit in
Or even just get through the day
But as hard as I try they won't let me even begin
To be like them, is that not supposed to matter to me?
Daily they ride me and feel I can't breathe
I'm completely consumed and surrounded by strife
Don't they ever think? No, I bet they'd never believe
Their effect on my daily life
But that doesn't matter now
It'll soon be through
I will take my final bow
I know what I have to do
There's no way to make this stop
I see no way to overcome
My heart into my stomach drops
I've seen my last dawning sun
Freedom Because of the Brave
They are brothers, mothers, daughters, and sons
wearing boots and toting guns
laying down their lives
setting aside their worries and strife.
They are in a world so full of hate
where every move can determine their fate.
They miss the simple things they left behind
and constantly keep them on their mind.
They face a harsh reality
and pray for immortality.
They see things they will never share
with someone who was not over there
because they do not expect us to understand;
we have never had to save our homeland.
They want reassurance that they are loved and needed
so that their mission can be completed
but they need support most of all
so their victory flag can fly nice and tall.
Who wipes the tears of a soldier
Whose heart is weary with toil?
Sir, don't hold your head down.
Don't even weep about tomorrow.
Just go now, just leave, just depart.
I will remember you when your battle starts.
Soldier, there's no time to waste.
A bullet hits and pierces his flesh.
Do you think the bullet felt ashamed
Of the great, brave soldier's pain?
War is a heartless thing, yet we remember not
The soldier's name.
For the Good of the Middle East
Angrily we raise our fists,
Furiously we protest,
Giving and spending with good intentions,
Holding onto things we don't quite know.
All we really know is dissension.
Never did they ask for help,
Invading their homes and cultures,
Still giving and sacrificing our resources.
Tomorrow we hope to accomplish our goal.
After all is said and done we've hurt and been hurt,
Nothing saved; nothing earned.
Jordan A. Howell
More like, hold up the enemy long enough so that the generals can survive to get back
to their tea and biscuits. They left the mercenaries behind, as always, the men who were more
expendable than the army's soldiers. The generals knew they were losing, so why even bother
paying these men of fortune? Better to let them die and never waste any of the country's gold.
The Mercenary sighed and looked out at the ragtag group of troops he was left to com-
mand. They all knew they were doomed, and many of them were probably considering desert-
ing. The Mercenary stood up slowly and called the men to attention. They half-heartedly re-
sponded, lining up in front of him, their muskets on their shoulders. "Now," he addressed them,
"I'm not going to lie to you, or give you any false hope." He paused, "We most likely won't
survive the coming battle. Those damn generals left us here to hold up the enemy for the few
minutes that it might take them to load up on the boats and escape. They see us all as expendable
because none of us have any family back home to complain." The men started muttering among
themselves, agreeing with him.
"This battle may be futile, but I plan to stay and follow my contract to the letter, as my honor
demands. I'm leaving you all this choice: stay and fight with me or desert and leave us. There
will be no one left to say that you failed to achieve the terms of your contract. Personally, I don't
want a coward at my back, so don't hold back if you have any doubts."
The Mercenary stood and watched as a few of the men threw down their coats in a pile and
walked away without a backward glance. He watched them walk away without contempt; the
majority of the deserters were young and still had long lives ahead of them. He was older, and
no longer afraid of death.
The Mercenary looked again at his remaining troops. They weren't much, but they
would be sufficient for what he had planned. "First," he said to them, "drop your coats. They
don't blend in with this terrain, and they're as hot as Hades. No men should be forced to fight
in them." The men did as he instructed, piling their coats where the deserters had. "Now, men,
here's the plan. They think we won't hold these troops off for more than a few seconds, but we'll
give them a fight worth making ballads over. We might not survive this fight, but we will sure be
remembered for it."
The men began to cheer up a bit; they were enjoying what they were hearing. "We will scatter
into both sides of the road, using the trees as cover. Once the enemy comes marching down the
road, we'll open fire on them, and then charge in. The rest of the army is in a full retreat. The
enemy won't be expecting an ambush here. We'll take them by surprise and take as many out as
The men followed his orders to the letter and took cover among the trees. Now, all they
had to do was wait for the enemy to get into the perfect position. The Mercenary would take the
first shot, and the rest of his men would follow suit. The Mercenary waited behind the tree he
had chosen as his cover. He could see several of his men in similar positions around him, clutch-
ing their muskets with determined hands. Suddenly, the Mercenary heard a faint sound, he sound
of a drummer beating out the rhythm of a marching tune. The enemy was nearly here.
As the first of the troops walked past the ambush point, the Mercenary held his fire. He
wanted to wait until he could see their commanding officer to attack. After all, to kill a snake,
you must cut off the head. There, he saw him all dressed up in his general's uniform. The
mercenary stood slightly away from the tree and took aim. His troops nearby saw his move-
ment and emulated him. The general was astride a magnificent horse, speaking quietly to one of
his underlings. The Mercenary lined up his gun and fired. The underling nearest to the general
took a step and covered the general for an instant. The Mercenary saw the man fall and cursed
his luck. He missed the general. Several more shots rang out as the Mercenary's men also fired,
and several ranks of enemy troops fell. The Mercenary fixed a bayonet to his musket and yelled,
"Charge! Cut them down where they stand!" The enemy troops milled about in confusion, just
as he had predicted they would. The Mercenary charged towards the road, aiming for the gen-
eral. If his shot didn't kill him, then cold steel would. His men charged along behind him, many
being cut down as the enemy reorganized themselves and opened fire. Musket balls whizzed past
the Mercenary's head as he ran, but he paid them no mind. His full attention was on the general.
He was two seconds away from plunging his blade into the general's heart. The general reached
into his coat and pulled out a pistol, aiming it at the Mercenary's head. A loud report rang out,
and the Mercenary felt nothing.
The General sat atop his horse and looked down at the man who had tried desperately to
kill him. He just looked like an average human being, who had perhaps seen too many battles.
Who was he? He certainly wasn't the British, or if he was, he had forsaken his red coat. The
General frowned as he pondered, and one of his lieutenants ran up to him and said, "General!
Are you wounded?" The General waved the man away and replied, "I'm fine, just clean these
men up and take a tally of the losses. We can't just stand here as the British are getting away."
The man ran to order some troops to aid him in his task. Another one of his lieutenants strode
over to him and asked him, "Sir, what are your orders?" The General looked at the men who
were cleaning up the wounded and dead. "We can't let this ambush delay us; organize the men
and prepare to march. The British will fall shortly." The man nodded and said, "Aye, General
Washington, we'll be marching again momentarily."
Box of Magic
Lights flashing, music blaring, laughter filling the party air
Playing the games of the party life, living without one single care
Bottoms of shot glasses glisten and glitter all around the room
This game of life and pleasure of getting high off earth's perfume
Living for the moment is basically my life's plan
And having all the zings of pleasure to be placed into lustful hands
For this life is just a game!
Deciding to play some video games with a few of my friends
I sink onto the couch with a controller in my hands
A crowd soon gathers as a few of us start gaming on the Wii
We're all playing games like 99 pin strike and Mario Kart 3
Party's still bump'n as we are liberated in this inebriated zing
Our aim's so off, timing fractured, we're running into everything
But this makes the games more fun as our intoxication destroys our score
All of us can't stop laughing, and most laugh their way to the floor
Man, I love this game!
But now the game's legit, and we are off as the light turns green
All our friends are cheering us on! One lane, quite an epic scene
Chris tries to pass my car, but I swerve and block his pass
This sends him off the road burrowing into some tall grass
Everyone is cheering and laughing as I yell, "Eat my dust"
So excited that I'm in the lead because winning is a must
I ask Julie to pass me another beer, and then I give a victory shout
But before I could even tip the bottle into the air. . . my lights go out
Wow! What a game!
Finally my eyes re-open, and around me the world spins
Still laughing, I ask boisterously, "Did I win? Did I win?"
But instead of echoing laughter and cheering filling my ears
My friends sit without answer; Ha! I suppose too many beers
But then, I see, and the drum inside my chest begins to sound
No more laughter after staggering clumsily from my car to the ground
But, it was just a game.
Through blurry eyes I see a car in ruin and a woman hunched over on her
Weeping, wailing, sobbing, she screams uncontrollably
Before her on the pavement a little body lays
Still as ice on winter's coldest day
Her screams continuously ringing inside my ears
My body filling up with anxious fears
But, it... it was just a game?
The bright red and blue lights signal the sign
A policeman asks me to walk the white line
Being turned around as I make two fists
The cold metal ringlets tighten across my wrists
I try earnestly to explain. . .That it was just a game
Then feeling a stern hand on my shoulder
I hear a whisper. . ."Game over"
Foxed In Ashlyn Hall
A Field of Dreams and Hopes
At the field of the Fairfax Courthouse, Yankee troops of blue stood near their Confederate pris-
oners. These prisoners had worn and tattered clothing, almost as abused as their spirits had been
by the war. This state of mind, body, and spirit was the only thing shared by both sides, for they
were worn physically and mentally as they fought through these hellish tribulations. Soldiers
on each side were expressionless, pondering what inevitable fate would befall them. The Union
soldiers meditated on whether they would have to continue to kill these prisoners and persist with
the violence implicit in the dreadful art of war. The Confederate rebels wondered if this field
would serve as their earthly Purgatory, for it seemed to be the only decent thing untouched by the
war. The field was lush and green, symbolizing the life the soldiers had before the war had con-
sumed and destroyed their lives. It was abundant with purple flowers touched by the small buds
of baby's breath; the bright and vibrant colors contrasted with the worn blues and grays of the
militia uniforms, and the breezes spread the pleasing and fresh aroma of lilac with a hint of June
lily to nostrils that commonly smelled death and smoke, providing a small pleasure to everyone
in this treacherous situation. It was more than a fragrance; it was something happy that brought
one of the Confederates known among the soldiers as Beauregard Faberge to tears. Beauregard
was a genteel man, one whose appearance resonated of kindness and humility towards his fellow
man even though he was the noblest of all the plantation owners in his hometown in Currituck
County. As he stood in the field amongst the other prisoners, he wondered if this day would be
his very last. Oh, how he wished he was back at his plantation, Resolute, isolated from the harsh
world in the arms of his fiancee, Victoria. She loved him so, and he longed to be in her arms
once again. As he heard the cacophony of soldiers' commands and the fear in the voice of his
Confederate soldiers, he was automatically jolted into the malicious reality from which he could
never escape. When Beauregard was brought out of his plantation daydreams, he again pondered
if his existence would be terminated today. On that field, seeing the tranquility that did remind
him of home, he decided that if he died today, he could truly be free of this horrendous war. His
soul was ready, and as the photographer took the picture of him and the other prisoners, his eyes
shone in absolute resolution and acceptance. Beauregard Faberge would be home soon, maybe
not in this life, but in the afterlife.
In his shabby Union uniform, Henry Smith stood tall and serious, but with a hint of excite-
ment, almost ecstasy for the upcoming future. He had captured this Confederate battalion with
his troops, and this would mean another victory for the Union, which would lead to a conclusion
to this fanatical war. He would be home soon, in the loveliest, if small, house in Philadelphia,
with his wife Cecelia and the three children that they had created from love. He would be home
soon, and this field reminded him of the peace that would come soon for him because of this vic-
tory. Henry did feel some remorse for the Confederate soldiers, but he knew if these casualties
did not occur, this war would continue and it would take longer for him to get back into the lov-
ing arms of the home that waited for his return. This positive outlook kept Henry from going mad
during this war and was something he constantly held on to. How he wished he could take some
of those flowers that pleased the senses with their aromas to Cecelia for they would go perfectly
with her golden hair. Before he left for war, she had cut a lock for him to keep if he did not get
home for a very long time. That lock of hair was still in Henry's front pocket, and as he gave it a
pat, he could he see her face again and was transported to his home. As the photographer counted
down for the picture's flash, happiness danced in the eyes of Henry Smith.
Catch Me, Caress Me
A single tear falls,
Veiled behind dark glasses,
A set of emotions
More raw than healed.
And still I hear, softly,
Replayed like reel to reel,
"I do. I do. I do."
All is forgiven still.
blessed with a beautiful burden
laced with insecurities and uncertainties
these pages bleed with my confessions
catch me, caress me
bandage my wounds
so that I may heal
this never ending search of love grows old
just like the constant reopening
of these irreversible scars
drown me in your thoughts
suffocate me with your words
I've learned to love the abuse
Hye Jin Eom
Stand in the Rain
Behold! A wondrous shower
Water descending from the sky
I watch in awe, others cower
As the clouds bathe Earth once dry
Pools and puddles many evade
But look not for cover! Stand in the rain
Jump in! Indulge in Heaven's display
Let the rain gently cleanse, wash pain away
Softly, each drop touches my skin
I wonder at the sky's embrace
The clouds depart and Heaven shines again
I savor each breath, walk at a slower pace
Reaching Caitlyn Wheeler
I was dusting furniture when the doorbell rang. At the door was the lady who takes care
of my kitties when I am away. She wanted me to tape a show for her, but she didn't know what
time it came on. I needed to find someone who had a TV Guide, so I drove to Walnut Creek,
where my friend Fran lives. As I drove up, I noticed a lot of cars were parked in her driveway. I
recognized only a few people in her living room. While I was looking through the TV Guide,
Fran was preparing vegetables for soup. I couldn't help but think that she was cutting up some
very unusual vegetables.
I stopped by the pond in her backyard on my way to the car. My husband had fished in it
several months ago. The pond was crystal clear. I could see straight through to the bottom and
didn't see a single fish. Now I knew why my husband didn't catch anything.
As I pulled out of the driveway, something started hitting the windshield. At first I
thought it was rain, but then I realized it was snow. Snow in June? The temperature dropped so
fast that snow and ice started freezing on the trees and power lines.
I immediately called my sister at work. When she answered the phone, I said, "You are
not going to believe this, but it is snowing outside. Highway 70 looks to be okay, but snow is
starting to stick to the side roads. You need to head for home."
"Sure it is," she said.
My sister was speechless as she looked out the window. The last thing I said to her
before we hung up was that we were having some mighty strange weather. I no more got those
words out of my mouth when something different started hitting the windshield. It wasn't snow
or rain, but instead it was water coming off of the trees and power lines. As quickly as the tem-
perature had fallen, it was now warming up and melting the snow and ice. The windshield wip-
ers on my car stopped working.
Through all of the water, I noticed that the sun was out again. I slammed on my brakes.
The car in front of me had suddenly stopped. As a matter of fact, all of the cars on the road had
stopped. I then noticed that everyone had gotten out of the cars to look up in the sky. What were
they looking at?
I didn't get out of the car, but I did open my door and looked up in the sky. The sky was
dark blue, like it gets before a thunderstorm; there was also a rainbow in the sky. The rainbow
ran parallel with the car, so I was able to see it from beginning to end. The colors were vivid
against the dark blue sky.
Beside the rainbow was a bright, almost blinding-white cloud. I could see only part of
the huge cloud because the roof of the car covered up the rest. The part that I did see looked like
a bird's feather. The different folds of the feather were very distinct.
I decided to get out of my car so I could see the cloud better. As I looked up, I realized
that the cloud was not a bird, but an angel. The feathers were detailed, but the angel's body and
head flowed. The angel covered a large portion of the sky and was so white and bright that it was
like looking directly into the sun.
All of a sudden, I felt my body move upward, or maybe I should say the center of my
chest was moving upward. I could see my body stooped down beside the car as my soul ascend-
ed. I had always thought this day would be somewhat scary, but this was peaceful. A rainbow.
An angel. What could be more serene?
Value of Difference
When you look at the world, what do you see?
A united nation or a divided sea?
Do you feel constrained when you cross the street?
Or do you break the limits and take the heat?
Do you go with the flow and stay in the norm?
Or try the "difference rule" and break the general form?
Do you live under a closed surface and block everyone out?
Or do you stay on the edge and take the inverse route?
Does your origin live in you and help you live right?
Or does your identity seem lost like a thief in the night?
I know the value of difference and what it means to me.
Do you know or do you live to please?
Kay la Grant
Infinity of Affections
Let us not judge by the distance we are
For the friction for our souls meeting
Will never let us part for long.
Our relationship is wanted by others
But all they see is a reflective surface
Because that is what they want
To see themselves in.
It is only a test, this breathing space between us
A test to see if we are ready
Ready to spiral into an infinity of affections.
Alas, it is the test we cannot pass
The others tear us apart; push us past our limits
You were pushed into this transformation
And you won't even look back.
Now I have no one to comfort me
Part of my soul, sitting on the broken shards of heart
Ripped from my chest as I sit alone.
Yes, no, maybe so
What's the answer?
You never know
Curve it up
Or weigh it down
Find the area
How to do it?
I don't know
Use the distance
And take it slow
You will need some energy
And focus too
To make a line
All the way through
If and only if
There is a force
Then get the mass
And the acceleration of the course
I am sine
I am always some kind of line
I am curvy or straight
But if you ever need to find
Me while I am eating pie
Check at zero
My midpoint is n/2
When I am between and n
I can have a minimum or a maximum
And if for any reason
The derivative must be taken
I become cosine
Words are integrated into our everyday lives.
Intended to be comprehended,
They are powerful beyond comprehension.
They are heard, and they are spoken.
They are used as a way to talk,
Yet are rarely talked about.
They tell stories, and they tell secrets.
They are distributed throughout all society, whether true or not.
What are your words saying?
Words are like bullets of the tongue,
The tongue being a weapon of mass destruction.
These bullets separate soul from spirit,
Just as a sword separates bone from marrow;
They are the most powerful ammunition known to humankind.
They divide, and they destroy.
They cause divergence of ideas, disruption of feelings,
Displacement of premeditated paths.
What are your words saying?
Words aren't always detrimental, however.
When used properly,
Words will encourage, and words will strengthen.
Words will build up instead of tear down.
Words will show love instead of hatred.
Words will extinguish instead of ignite.
Words will produce wisdom; words will produce knowledge.
Words will force the once bounded to move on.
Words will pressure the ignorant to forgive.
What are your words saying?
Words are a product of what is within,
A product of our mind, will, and emotions.
Words imprison; words deliver.
Words reveal; words conceal.
What are your words saying?
Song Of Myself
I know and remember all the details of what I have done and where I have been
Where my ATM card escaped, and when
Then it comes back to me, so simply.
I know and remember the location of my note from my doctor
For free, warm water recreation at the Y. I know it is green and accompanied by the small
Square white, stiff envelope holding the CD of my x-rays and a smudged, canary yellow
Receipt, wrapping it all like a birthday gift.
I float effortlessly and put my hands on this package of papers, which rested from a
Monday afternoon, a month ago.
I bless myself and feel so full of pride that I always remember all these details and never
Feel anxiety or any loss of memory.
I hear my new hamster, Haydn, running on the floor in his green ball, happily trusting me
In all things and never attempting to escape or fly from my hands. I like the sound of the
Rolling, stopping and restarting of a long run on my shiny, wood floor.
I remember Hannah hamster, now passed on, who never knew what fear was, as I
Protected her so she only knew of love, fun, trust and beauty.
I remember she, as a baby, also bit me on the first day we were together, and I had
Forgotten that the fear has to be taught to go away and replaced with trust.
I am patience. I am time. I am love. This new hamster will learn trust in me, too.
Even now, back in his home, Haydn runs on his wheel steadily, making soft rhythmic
Sounds, free from danger, hunger or harm, because of me.
I understood another person's story yesterday for I have experienced it with an elderly
Parent, too, so I know how she feels and what her words mean.
I forgive any errors in my plans on the highway as God leads me to new sights of scenery
And experience instead of the exit number I expected.
I appreciate my companion as she goes along with me on my sense of adventure
As we fly along on a new route for a little while.
We celebrate the knowing that in the big picture everything is fine
While daily life tries to throw wrinkles into the fragrance of our freshly ironed plans.
I have the vision of seeing life years before and beyond the now, these petty annoyances
Of life and our physical bodies not obeying our minds, knowing that many days and years
Will not be remembered at all.
These feelings of fatigue, the sounds of the air conditioner and the hamster's drumming
Still try to throw a blinking yellow caution light into the mind of this harmless night
While I am the one who knows how to smooth days and years like icing on a cake.
In these days, there will also be great joys and things to remember and
wish that I could have back again
Hope and energy is there if I choose to reach up and gather all the sky's colors
Into my arms and lift away from the weights of disorder and watch them blow into neatly
Ordered piles, like the bright leaves on a fall day.
My First Experience with Physical Violence or Danger
As a child growing up in the segregated south during the 60's, I was unaware of
the segregation or Jim Crow Laws. I did not understand at that time why the races did not
socialize, attend school together, or live near one another. As a child, my time was spent fishing,
swimming, hanging out with my cousins, and attending segregated schools. The thing that
intrigued me the most about the situation was that this situation was considered normal during
the 60's. On one hot night my whole world as I knew it was about to change forever.
During this time, I never saw white and black children playing together. One night,
outside the neighborhood store, my friends and I were playing Chest, a game where one person
tries to hit the other person in the chest with his fist. The game was played to test hand speed,
not to hurt the other person. One this particular night, a white child came outside and wanted
to play. As fate would have it, I decided to play with him. Before I knew what had happened, I
accidentally hit him in his nose; blood oozed out.
The feelings that came over me after the accident were fear and danger. The only thing
I remember was running home and hiding underneath the bed because I knew the child's father
and his friends were coming to take me away and do bodily harm. I could not explain the feeling
that came over me; I just hit a white child in the nose. The only thing I knew was that I was in
The fears that gripped me that night I have never experienced since. Lying underneath
the bed, I was terrified; every noise I heard was intensified tenfold. Every car that passed the
house I knew was the child's father and friends coming to take me away. That was the longest
night of my life; the fear and terror were unimaginable for a child of my age. I realized for the
first time why my parents acted the way they did around white people. The world was not as
simple as black and white; it was black and white. My survival was based on learning lessons in
life. These lessons were not taught in school or something read in a textbook. I can only equate
this to animals teaching their offspring survival skills and the offspring mimicking their parents.
These lessons have helped mold me into the person I am today. I am a better person because I
had the opportunity to see this country transition from a segregated society to the most diverse
society in the world. America is truly the melting pot of the world.
That night I will never forget for the rest of my life. I found out why my parents called
white folks "Sir" or Ma'am" even though the person being addressed was a teenager. As a child
growing up in that environment, I sensed danger, whether actual or perceived. I guess I will
never find out what would have happened if I had not run home and hid underneath the bed. The
incident happened over 40 years ago; it seems like only yesterday.
Got You Covered
Hye Jin Eom
My Driving Record
I prefer driving among dilapidated farmhouses
white paint clinging to any last breath
while imagining what dead souls still sit on windowsills
watching crops come in. Even though I'm Southern,
I can't recall every small town like Tick Bite or Eureka
or where that small pinprick on the map is located
in relation to my vehicle. At least one county
over from where I'm supposed to be
noted by cessation of two lane swirl of black top
an hour later I show up at the community center in Eureka,
the farmhouse in Nahunta bombarded by relatives wondering
how I could have missed the turn at the tree with one extra branch.
I eat my two waffle breakfast
Say a little prayer
Head off to school
And have a good day
I have my next breakfast (eggs and biscuits)
Say my little prayer for the day
Go on to school and do my work
And then come back home to play and study
I have my little breakfast (biscuits and waffles)
And say my little prayer for the day to begin
And head off to school and do my own work
And ride on home in my little Honda
Breakfast is done
Prayer has been said
School work has begun
And then I go on home
Final little breakfast for school
And a big prayer for the day
School is over for the week
And at home I will stay
Big breakfast is made (pancakes, waffles,
Eggs, and bacon)
School is out for the day
Big plans are made
Chores are all done
I go to church and have a day
With almighty God
And the day to rest
Until the week ahead
A Simple Morning Traycee Williams
Three Eggs Traycee Williams
The Little River
Surrounded by mountains
the little river was.
Trapped within a war
that always ended sore.
The little river ran
and asked one mountain,
"Why are you mad?"
It responded with a roar,
"Ask the other; it is the core!"
So the little river ran
and asked the other,
"Why are you mad?"
It also responded with a roar,
"Ask the other, for it is surely at the core!"
The little river slowed its flow
and waited between the two,
for he was in a dilemma.
Does he help one mountain,
or does he help the other?
and waited some more,
until at last he fell asleep.
But in a dream a plan was formed.
Why not grow wide,
why not become deep,
why not flow fast, and
why not conquer all?
So the river changed,
and he soon ranged in size,
but through it all
it had maimed.
Wider it grew,
'til it wiped out the space.
Deeper it sunk,
'til it could sink no lower.
Faster it flowed,
'til it cut through the sides.
But fall did the mountains,
'til they saw the error of their ways
No more did they fight,
and together they stayed
with a long flowing sea
where the river did play.
Hye Jin Eom
Summer of the Birds
Swifts in the fireplace
the plaintive twitters, whorl of wings,
echo up the chimney to haunt us.
A swirl of feathers
the cat, Odysseus, rushes in,
a small, dark cardinal in his mouth.
A grackle, trapped, slams
the glass door. We open it. He shoots
up, up into the summer sky.
And in my dreams a jay
lands on our bed, drops three round eggs
that glisten like spring onions.
The birds of summer
make us see who is trapped
and who goes free.
I like my sparkling turquoise birthstone ring
Topaz, aquamarine, deep cobalt, light crystal blue
Icy white flashes from a faceted gem
A lucky glimpse of peacock green
Later, driving, I see hot silver trunk locks shimmer
Metal wheel covers, swirling round moving shapes
Sun mirrors on glass windows
So strong I have to look away
1-95 from Richmond to Rocky Mount
Glitters brightly of moving granite diamonds
Only broken by waves of dark streaks
Tall shadows from the trees
Even when I take a break
There are silver shimmers on the ground
A shiny small discarded foil gum wrapper
As bright as the highway hidden in the dirt
The tiny, white stars gaily glimmer up high
It is not the objects that are special
But the light that creates the show
As I see, I claim, I own.
Give me a soul
Give me a song
on the rock of ages;
fits David running;
give me a soul
give me the fire-cloud
on Jerusalem road;
for my guide;
I'm mind to sin
my woman's dead;
and death is the wages;
now the hounds are coming;
gonna walk on the water,
gonna walk on the water
Give me a taste
Give me a song
of the holy filling;
that I'm want for singing;
let me bathe
give me a song
in the holy flood;
that'll ease my head;
soon my feet
tomorrow death bells
will stray to killing;
will be ringing;
gonna walk on the water
maybe I'll walk on the water
Give me those words
Give me some land
from the day we married;
that is free from weeping;
give me those words
give me that room
when we spoke that vow;
where the sun shines low;
by nighttime she'll be dressed
they'll hang me
in the town this evening;
gonna walk on the water
gonna walk on the water,
Give me a drink
Give me quick steps
'fore I go avenging;
o'er eternity's fording;
give me quick steps
of what is mine;
to eternity's bay;
a witch is for lynching,
lake of fire
an adultress, burning;
or Lake of Jordan,
gonna walk on the water
gonna walk on the water
It Was Always 2:43
Mama would always rock me to sleep from the time I was a baby until I got too big to
sit in her lap. I remember being in elementary school and coming home upset for some silly
reason, but it was not silly to me at the time. I would sit on the floor and lay my head in her lap
so that she could run her fingers through my hair until I fell asleep or stopped crying, whatever
the situation called for. She knew just what to say or just what to do to make right whatever was
In February 1985, my husband and I gave her the only granddaughter she would ever
have, and that child was the light in her eyes. She even helped us pick out our baby's name,
Kelly. As my daughter began to talk, she would call Mama "Darlin" because that is what Mama
always called her. It was a wonderful time for both of them. Kelly was only three when Mama
died, and now the only thing she really remembers about her is being rocked to sleep and sung to
when she stayed with "Darlin."
Mama was the glue that held my family together. She had a knowledge and tenacity
about her that was uncanny to me. She was the strongest woman I think I have ever known
because she worked the same job for thirty-five years and trained all of her bosses but two. She
kept her faith and held strong when both a brother and her own mama died on her birthday — in
different years, of course. She was forever determined and strong-willed even when the news
came out that she had cancer. She kept most of those feelings to herself, not wanting to burden
anyone with the pain she experienced. Her strength and determination continued right up to the
very end when she died in the hospital on April 25, 1988, at 2:43 p.m.
She was in a coma by the time the nurse found us in the cafeteria that day. I rushed to be
with her, feeling the need to hold her hand as she did for me for so long. Even though she was
in a coma, there was a look of being afraid on her face. No one in the room would talk aloud.
However, I felt she needed to hear someone, to know that she was not alone. I took her hand,
saying, "Mama, please do not worry about me or Kelly because if I am half the person you are,
she will turn out to be okay." As I talked, it seemed to relax and comfort her.
Six weeks after her death, sleeping in my own bed was impossible, but ironically, I found
solace and sleep in my rocking chair. I would wake up almost every morning at 2:43 a.m. with
the feeling that someone was watching me. Each time I would sit up, look across toward the
window, and there would be my mama waving, smiling, and mouthing as if she was trying to talk
to me. It frightened me so much I would pull the covers over my head so that I would not see
her, but each night it was the same thing. This went on for about two weeks when I finally had
to tell someone. I gave in and told my dad. Well, he laughed, saying it was just a dream. I knew
that it was not because each night that it happened, I would test myself to see if it was a dream.
I would stand up to adjust the covers, take a drink of water, turn, and look at the clock, which
always read 2:34 a.m.
One night after I finally got the nerve up, I told myself, "What if this is a ghost? It is my
mama after all, what am I so afraid of?" That is when I stopped, took a deep breath, looked at
her, and said, "I love you and miss you so much. I hope you are happy and out of pain now."
After that night, I never saw her again, but I knew that she was there to let me know that she was
okay, to comfort me as if wanting to rock me until I fell asleep.
Goodnight, Sweet Princess
Goodnight, sweet princess
Who poured poison in my ear.
My foolishness, the garden gate
Left open for you, my dear.
Goodnight, sweet princess,
I remember our strange dance,
The 4AM phone confessions,
Your coy come-hither glance.
Goodnight, sweet princess,
Heaven knows your storms.
Mine were so very small.
The tempests were all yours.
Goodnight, sweet princess,
Your voice is on the wind.
We've to our own corners.
I'll never see your like again.
Unable to shake this gloom
This fractured sky
This definite breath.
I welcome you in the breeze
Why, then, not revel in the
One is a memory; the other is
I remember the best
But you, here, bring back the
You remember me, and I am
Unable to understand
But you are here.
Clover Miranda Kyle
Science is evolved with experience, data, and reports,
But there are still many questions about twisters.
Storm clouds form and rain develops
In the open plain or on top of a mountain.
Wind, hail, or debris take course.
Did it hit the ground; did it show remorse?
A whisper in the air thunder, clash, and flash.
Does anyone know which way this beautiful monster will go?
How many? F-2, F-4, F-5
Elated Storm Chasers and frightened victims
Terror of sounds, fast, violent, and dangerous
Take cover, take cover! Breathe, pray, heart pounding
Relief, with the sound of sirens.
The rain poured down on me
I saw you
You told me
Lifelong I lived
The life of another
The sun shone on me
I saw myself
I told myself
For just one moment
Let me live as I am
The sun will shine on me
The rain will pour down on me
I will give me another chance
Xian Xaun Zeng
The Ghost Behind Me
At what would be considered a late stage in my life I decided that I would go to
Emergency Medical Technician school. A weird choice for someone who cannot stand the sight
of blood, but I was determined. Through a lot of hard work and sweat, I passed the class and the
state test on my first try. Being a volunteer I thought that I could pick and choose which calls
that I would respond to. It did not take long for me to realize that things do not always work
out as I planned. I had only been an EMT for two months when I responded to a call that would
change me forever.
It was the day before Thanksgiving. I was in a tizzy and had so much to do. I had to
clean house, cook Thanksgiving lunch for fifteen, and prepare for weekend house guests. I had
been up since early morning cooking, cleaning, and trying to get ready for the big day ahead.
In the early afternoon, the fire department pager activated for a burn victim. I debated going or
not as I really did not want to see someone burned. But to be honest, my curiosity got the best
of me, and I responded. While en-route, communications gave a short report. This means that
they give you the age and some general information about the call. The short report stated that
the victim was a 68-year-old female with burns over her entire body. Immediately my foot went
on the brake pedal of my car. I did not want to see this. We had paid employees who could take
care of her. Before I could get the car turned around to come back home, the pager activated
again for the same residence. The house and the woods surrounding it were on fire. Okay, now I
had to go. I could help fight the fire while someone else took care of the victim. When I arrived
on the scene the paid employees looked at me and said that the victim needed to be flown to the
hospital, and they were going to find a suitable landing zone. This left nobody but me to help the
paramedic who was already on the scene doing patient care.
Nothing that I learned in school could have prepared me for what I saw. This poor
older woman was lying on the ground with her eyes wide open looking for help. She had on a
polyester robe that had melted to her body, and her cheap polyester and rubber house shoes were
melted and stuck to her feet. Her hair looked liked like a worn out brillo pad, and her eyelashes
and eyebrows were gone. She kept trying to tell us something, but we could not make out what
she was saying. My first job was to try to get her slippers off her feet. They were stuck; the only
way to get them off was to pull the skin off with them. We cut her robe and peeled away what
was left of it from her skin. The paramedic was trying to start IV lines so that she could give her
fluids and morphine for the pain, but her burns were so severe that this proved nearly impossible.
We gave her oxygen through a mask to help her breathe. This hurt her badly burnt face. Never
have I felt so helpless. After what seemed like an eternity, the helicopter crew arrived and loaded
her for the flight to the hospital. Finally I could catch a breath.
After the victim was gone, the fire out, and the investigation complete, we were allowed
to leave the scene. I could not stop thinking about what I had seen, smelt, heard, and felt. The
smell of the burnt polyester, hair, and skin stay with me, and to this day —eight years later—if I
close my eyes and let myself think about it, I am right there with her again. All of these things
that I had witnessed were rolling around in my head. How was I supposed to go home now and
go back to cleaning, cooking, and being normal when I had just witnessed someone practically
die right before my eyes? She did succumb to her wounds; she developed pneumonia from the
burns and died about a week later. She stayed with me throughout the Thanksgiving weekend
and beyond. There has not been a Thanksgiving since that she has not been with me. I learned
that day that the things that you see will stay with you, but it is up to you how you deal with them
and how they will affect you.
I have learned doing this job that you will see awful, terrible things. I cannot change
this. Some are tragic, terrible accidents, and some are self-inflicted. But I did learn that day that
people like this lady stay with you. They are like silent, pale ghosts that follow you around for
the rest of your life. Her ghost becomes visible to me around Thanksgiving, and it always will.
There is the ghost of the young mother with three babies who could not handle the demons in her
life, so she tied a sheet to a tree and hung herself. She hops in the car with me every time I drive
by the "hanging tree" as we call it. There is the elderly couple from our church who were the
victims of murder-suicide. They are the most prominent and the hardest to keep behind me. I
knew them personally, and my husband and I found the bodies. The longer that I do this job and
I love it — as weird as it sounds — more and more ghosts follow me. I have learned to keep them
behind me where they belong. Sometimes they will sneak up on me, catching me off guard,
making me catch my breath, making me miss a step, making me wonder what I could have
done to make the outcome different for them. I only have to stop, think about them, honor them
almost, and they are content to once again walk behind me waiting for the next time they can
sneak up on me, never letting me forget them and waiting patiently for the next ghost who will
join them on their walk.
Stillness Caitlyn Wheeler
How Not to be a Poet
(how to be a poet)
Do I have to write this paper?
Alas I know it can't be late.
But I am a procrastinator;
Can I turn it in on a later date?
I have plans and things to complete,
Crops to plant and homework too.
Can't you place yourself in my seat?
No? Ok, well that's my cue.
Let me turn off the PS 3,
And shut off the surround sound.
No more time for TV;
Some inspiration must be found.
Why won't this pen just write?
The deadline is coming fast.
I struggle through the night.
I write like a ship with no mast.
So do I have to write this paper?
Alas I know it can't be late.
But I am a procrastinator;
Can I turn it in on a later date?
Write in words and schemes
With no rhyme, no reason
Feign interest in the sublime
Feign disgust with the trivialities
Of paying taxes and hygiene.
Vote Democrat for the
Sake of saving face
Have concern over image
Rather than substance.
Drink coffee, no
Tea, no, whisky !
Aye, there's the stuff!
Smoke cigarettes, no
A pipe, no, don't smoke at all.
It's all a statement!
Buck the status quo
Or not. No, that's
Better for the brand.
Hire an agent or manager
Or personal assistant.
Claim you're an artist!
Claim you have integrity!
Make two million dollars.
Scoff at others for
Lack of "talent."
Go on Oprah.
Hye Jim Eom
How to Be Normal
Before we begin, let's make ourselves acquainted with Augustus. Augustus is weird.
He is constantly told so by his friends, at least. He wants to be accepted by society. He wanted
some help becoming normal, and this guide is going to help him.
The first step to becoming normal is a make-over. Augustus is a professional clown;
therefore, he has long hair that is bright tangerine orange and twisted into dreadlocks that the
children love to play with. Augustus really needs help! The first thing he should do is to
change his hairstyle. The easy way out would be for him to shave his head, but Augustus is
quite attached to his hair and wants to keep some of it. Since Augustus is over 30, surfer-boy
type shaggy hair is not appropriate for Augustus. The best option for Augustus would be a short
hairstyle that is associated with most business men. As for the color? Augustus is going natural
to warm chestnut brown. Well done, Augustus!
Next, Augustus needs to acquire a 'normal' personality. He has odd tastes — literally.
Augustus will eat only food that is dyed green. He watches only black and white television
shows and listens to techno music at four A.M. He also tells really dull jokes, which he laughs at
more than anyone else. He also has a nervous twitch that looks like an awkward wink. Augustus
should first learn that all food taste does not depend on color. After he's got that down, we
can tackle some normal hobbies. Augustus loves animals, so he decides to volunteer at animal
shelters. Great! As for a music change, he bought a radio and is catching up with all of the non-
techno hits. He has a new TV to go with it, so he can watch the Avatar movie everyone has been
talking about. As for that twitch, Augustus, it's nothing a little bit of medication won't help, so
he will head to the doctor right away.
Now that Augustus is physically normal, he will go shopping to get some normal clothes.
Augustus previously had his clothes in all the brightest colors and sometimes even decided to
cross-dress a little. He really liked to stand out! Well, sorry Augustus, that's just not normal.
He must acquire a taste for khaki pants and plain colors, no pattern that stands out too much.
Sweater vests are very normal, so he should pick up a couple of those. As for business attire,
plain button up shirts to go with the khaki pants and plain ties of a matching color. Don't fret,
Augustus; that colorful, crazy tie can be worn on Easter!
With this new haircut and new attire, Augustus can now begin changing his lifestyle to
reflect normalcy as well. First, he is going to look for a normal job. A teaching job would be
nice, but he doesn't want to go to college. Augustus instead is going to work for a large company
in a tightly cramped cubicle where he will eventually ruin his eyesight by staring at a computer
all day. Way to go, Auggy! It doesn't get much more normal than that.
Congratulation, Augustus! The normal transformation is almost complete! Just to put
the icing on the cake, Augustus must leave everything behind by moving into a nice house or
apartment. After all, he wouldn't want anyone to know what a freak he was, right? That includes
his name! After Aug— , pardon, George changed his name, his transformation was officially
complete. He will never have to worry about standing out in a crowd or anyone remembering his
name again. Congratulations, oh, what's-your-name, and welcome to normalcy!