|What is Tetrahedra? In geometry it is defined as: "A polyhedron composed of four faces, three of which meet at each vertex." However, to the students, faculty and teachers of Nashville State Community College it means: "The yearly collection of the best artistic and literary talent the school has to offer."
|Each year, those that attend and work at NSCC are encouraged to submit their artistic and literary work, to the school, for review, and the best of those submissions are selected to appear in the Tetrahedra book.|
|For over twenty years NSCC has published Tetrahedra, which allowed people to enjoy the multitude of talent the school has to offer. However, this year we are taking that enjoyment a step further, by turning Tetrahedra into a media book so everyone can enjoy our school's creative talents and not just those who have access to a hard copy of it.|
|The following pages were made possible through the hard work and skills of our Multimedia and Visual Communications students. So as the geometry definition says "...three faces which meet at the vertex", Tetrahedra takes its three faces (art, photography and literature) and meets them at the vertex, which is the enjoyment of all who see and read it.|
|Michelle Adkerson||Brian Curtis||Elizabeth Parker|
|Jeanne Altstatt||Heidi Evans||Michele Singletary|
|Alice Church||Michael Kiggins||Bridgette Weir|
|Tetrahedra is an independent, nonprofit journal published annually by Nashville State Community College, 120 White Bridge Road, Nashville, TN 37209. The journal recognizes the artistic talents of the Nashville State community through the publication of selected poems, short fiction, essays, artwork, and photographs and promotes the humanities at a community college. Current students, alumni, staff, and faculty are encouraged to submit manuscripts and art for publication in Volume XXII by February 1, 2013. Submissions must be accompanied by a brief autobiography. Type manuscripts in .doc or .rtf format and submit as an e-mail attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send artwork and photos as .jpeg files. Complete guidelines are available on the English, Humanities, and Arts website.|
|Many individuals deserve credit for the work that has resulted in our journal of the creative arts. The editor wishes to thank the following members of the Nashville State community:|
|Valerie Belew||Dean, English, Humanities, and Arts, for her administrative support that continues to inspire us to take the campus journal to new levels.|
|Carol Martin-Osario||Dean of Students, and her office for providing administrative and financial support for the journal.|
|Evelyn Hadley||And the Student Life office for providing financial support for the journal.|
|The Editorial Board||Made up of english faculty who spent many hours reading submissions and making difficult decisions during the selection process.|
|John Knox||Art Instructor, and Ted Phelps, Associate Professor, Art, for selecting the artwork and photographs used in the journal.|
|Scott McRoberts||Assistant Professor, Art, for designing the cover.|
|Ed Dubell||Creative Services, and Pam Hawkins, Associate Professor, Visual Communications, for assistance with the production process.|
|Susan Tucker||Secretary, English, Humanities, and Arts, for her assistance with the business aspects of the journal.|
|Marc McDougan||Printer, for working with us to produce this year's art and photography in color.|
|Above all, thanks to the writers and artists of the Nashville State community who shared their talent in the form of poems, prose, artwork, and photographs, making this journal possible.|
Ainsley marches Sophia through a field. The yellow grass, fingers caressing her face, wish-weaving through her hair, tickling the backs of her knees. She tries not to think about the dirt and pebbles speckling her bare feet. Daughter's hand in mother's, sweaty and scrunched, feels tiny and useless. Each of her steps is five to her mother's one. Sophia can no longer see the only car Ainsley will ever own.
The road's a sketch Ainsley's erased, the paper sheeted with rubbery shavings she's too soon to disperse with a breath. Ainsley had driven most of the day and night, getting them far enough away from the city that its lights and smog have been rendered a facsimile of the Milky Way above, the one spiral they can see sideways, the spray of stars past it and all around. And Sophia knows our sun is just like one of those stars, but this is the first time she's seen the stars for real, not on a monitor, and she feels just so...
"So we're gonna stand in the light of your ruling planet," Ainsley says, "to see our shadows if we can. The past few years it's been closer than since the start of history, you know?"
Sophia doesn't know this, of course, but she nods because she knows her mother wants her to know.
"You think ponds and lakes and rivers and streams can feel its pull the way the seas do the moon's, bulging up and out like you did when you were in my belly?" Ainsley makes a face, deep in thought, so Sophia does, too.
Sophia doesn't remember her mother saying this. She's too young to remember more than her groggy stupor, the dark, the then-otherworldly late hour, the thrumming clamor of the seventeen-year cicada brood awakening for the last time, the shush of grass parting before their progress, the incessant gossiping of the breeze through the trees, the absence of the noises she was then so accustomed to: the tidal roars of automotive traffic and sirens and too many people, a combination soothing because it never ceases.
No, Sophia knows about this field trip only because Ainsley has many times since spun this story, along with many, many others. Sophia isn't yet four-years-old, and what she truly remembers versus the seeds sown by Ainsley's re-tellings, those exotic weeds supplanting the indigenous undergrowth, rushes by incomplete and genuine. And each is, in its way, exactly so.
The field is terribly uneven, with high swells and deep dips, but their pace is determined. The moon gleams pewter on her freckled arms and shoulders, the iridescence of the interior of an oyster shell, one that transfigures the red hair of both mother and daughter to a near-green.
"You can feel it, I'm sure," Ainsley waves an arm, drawing the grass back like a curtain, revealing a bald spot about twenty feet in diameter. "And when you see your shadow, you'll know. You'll really know." Then she stands Sophia in the center of the clearing, tells her to look at the ground, and steps away. "Don't move," she further instructs.
"Do you see it?"
She doesn't at first, or she thinks she doesn't. Her moon shadow extends to the left, stands out sharply against the grass. Moving only her head, she sees, extending center-right, another shorter, much fainter shadow.
"See it?" Ainsley asks, with an increasingly familiar tone. "Really see it?"
Sophia glances between her foreshortened silhouette, the bright pinkish-orange dot in the southern skies and the woman she will never call mother or mom, only Ainsley, a woman who is now crouching at the edge of the bald spot and covering her eyes with one hand, and as insubstantial and as fleeting as this is-this hint of a shadow, this outline that tells Sophia nothing more than she is here blocking light, however weak, that won't reach here this strong again during any of our lifetimes, light that even now, at its strongest, is almost invisible. This, here, now, that, there, then-it's hers, and hers alone.
I was cold and tired, yet exuberant to be faced with the challenge of Victory Tower on this early spring day in late March. It was the fourth week of Army basic training, and I and my fellow platoon members, all women, had been faced with endless days of grueling physical training, arising before the sun was up each morning to stand in formation and march to the Physical Training field, where we would face at least two hours of strenuous exercise. After PT, we then had to run at least two miles, or however far the drill sergeants wanted to push us, before we were allowed to return to our cold, gray World War II barracks for a shower. If you weren’t fast enough to be first in the shower, you suffered the agony of ice water pouring down on your naked flesh, chilling you to the bone.
After our showers, we were then marched to the mess hall for a filling, nutritious breakfast. However, there was no time to savor the taste of the food or to enjoy conversation or the meal, as we were given only five minutes to eat, two minutes to empty our trays, and three minutes to run at break-neck speed from the mess hall back to our barracks, where we would again be ordered to gather in formation, and marched to our next assignment of the day. Usually that meant several hours spent inside a classroom, listening to boring, monotonous instruction, learning about the various aspects of military training, more recently about the myriad types of injuries a soldier could receive in the throes of battle and how to treat them temporarily, until the soldier could be treated by trained medical personnel.
Today, however, there would be no classroom, no boring instruction, no sitting for hours without a break. Today we would be outside the entire day, in the bright sunshine and fresh, cool air. Today even our drill sergeants were smiling, as they marched us to the tower. Today we were going to have some fun!
Victory Tower was a huge monstrosity of rope and wood, a jungle gym of an obstacle course, held together with large iron shanks and screws and ropes. There were walls of thick netted rope to climb, and ropes to swing across open floors, all with nets, of course, for safety reasons; there were ladders of rope and wood, and numerous rope bridges, all in varying degrees of difficulty. For those soldiers that were strong enough and daring enough to reach the top level, there was a special treat. They were rewarded with a chance to repel by rope to the ground below.
I had made it through all the obstacles thus far, and now I was at the two-rope bridge, the last obstacle before reaching the top and the chance to repel. I was having some difficulty, as the bridge was made of two ropes, one above and one below. The object was to get across the bridge, walking across the bottom rope, while using your arms to hold on to the top rope above you, without falling into the net below. The challenge lay in the fact that the ropes got farther and farther apart as you continued across the bridge, thereby making it difficult for persons like me who were not blessed with long limbs or strong forearms. However, I was determined to make it across that bridge; I had not failed an assignment yet, and I wasn’t going to begin with this one.
As I was making my third attempt to cross the bridge, my drill sergeant yelled up to me, “You might as well give up, Thorne! You know you’re never going to make it!” Looking down, I saw him standing next to another drill sergeant. He poked the other guy in the ribs with his elbow, pointing and laughing up at me, taunting me. I gritted my teeth and took a few more steps. No way in hell was I giving up! As I reached the middle of the bridge, the point where the ropes began to get further apart, and where I kept having trouble, my mind was working overtime, trying to figure out a way to work this puzzle. Suddenly, an answer to my dilemma forming clearly in my mind, I swung my legs up around the top rope, my ankles crossing over the rope and each other, and I pulled myself across the bridge, shimmying upside down, like a possum hanging from a tree. As I reached the other side, I stopped for a moment, laughing gleefully, and yelled down to my drill sergeant, “You said we had to get across the bridge, Drill Sergeant! You didn’t say “how” we had to get across!” As the other drill sergeant slapped him on the back and laughed, I heard him say, with a hint of pride in his voice, “I’ll be damned! That’s my soldier!”
I’m exactly fifteen-years-two-months-four-days-five-hours-twenty-one-minutes-and-ten-eleven-twelve-seconds-old. Still not used to my driver’s license hologram. And this is the second of two surgeons who have performed nearly identical testing protocols.
I’ve had a C.T. and an M.R.I. done; have had my distal blood pressure and an angiogram taken and retaken, then taken a third time. I’ve had transcutaneous oxygen tension measurements taken, zero megs of Mercury until mid-calf, where it shot up near forty (a beautiful day nowhere in between). I’ve had ultrasound Doppler measurements of the micro-circulation of my skin taken, with those results backed up by skin fluorescent studies; and I’ve had skin perfusion and infrared skin temperature measurements taken and retaken.
I’ve been injected with Xenon 133, as if my right leg didn’t already feel diseased enough without having a radioactive isotope streaming through my arteries. (They say it’s a harmless isotope with a half-life of only five days.) But then again, streaming isn’t the best word: were those rivers, streams, creeks and tributaries finer still swift and treacherous, were health not so intimately enmeshed with chaos and speed, I wouldn’t have been sitting on an examining table watching the surgeon palpate my leg from ankle to hip during the consultation. Never thought he’d be the first guy to get nearest to my third base.
After the second round of results return, this surgeon, the one who’ll ultimately do the sawing, gives me two options, neither of which actually is. And he talks and talks and talks, and for all I try I cannot tune him out: “Believe me, Sophia, in terms of post-op rehabilitation you’d prefer to have had a transtibial than a transfemoral, or, if something’s not done before too long, a unilateral amputation.”
Then, mistaking the blank look on my face for confusion instead of numbness, he dumbs it down, saying, “B.K. and A.K.,” and he’s about to explain what prepositions are when I interrupt him: “I’m two grades ahead, have already aced college-level Micro, O-Chem, and A & P.” Then I say, “Below, above, got it,” while staring at my bruised lower right leg, really for the first time in several months.
“If we can save the knee,” he continues, “then we’ll be able to preserve joint function.”
Those two words echo in my mind. We are embarking on a mission: it isn’t my knee, it’s THE KNEE, a part of me, but not—not anymore. I wonder if part of med school is devoted to learning how to phrase things in this way.
“How much needs to come off,” I laugh, remembering the chatter of an insecure woman at the salon. A few inches? (The bane of most men, so I’ve heard.) A hand? Not two hands? Will it bring out my face? Will he like it, you think?
“Based on the test results,” he pauses, glances at Ainsley. My mother looks as confused and as scared as I should have, would have if my face hadn’t gone numb a few minutes ago. “Given your height, the extent of the decay, we’ll have to go to twelve-thirteen centimeters below the tibial plateau.”
In that last little bit of high school, after I’ve been removed from Ainsley, I won’t allow myself to hear the predictable nicknames. Then, in college bars, when the curious ask I’ll attribute it to passing out drunk on train tracks, my tibia a flattened coin that’d redeem no wish and wasn’t worth the pocketing. “But your other leg?” some of the brights will ask. “How’d it survive?” Or surfing during Spring Break when, a few moments after my period typed a week early, a shark had sampled me. Or during autumn when, while hiking the ridge, I’d stumbled onto a bear trap camouflaged by leaves. And, yes, once, to a lushed doctoral candidate in English with amorous intentions, the wrath of a catchall metaphor.
Actually, the amputation’s necessitated by a degenerative circulatory disorder that’s slowly stemmed the blood flow. Non-dramatic, I keep thinking, trying to convince myself. At first, this degeneration had desensitized my foot, later it atrophied muscle, starved bone. Which makes so much sense because I have always been considered clumsy, suddenly tripping whenever my leg just gives out. Over the years, I’ve broken that ankle and several toes repeatedly, and I’ve ripped out toenails without realizing it. Every minor-med and ER visit was documented, waiting for serendipity to imbue the lot with a false portent.
All the while, the rot was slowly scaling my leg, spreading outward. The skin of my foot and calf has quite often resembled a bruised banana. At home, at first, Ainsley had made jokes about sugar rising to the surface. Soon, though, no matter the weather, I’d wear jeans, calf-high tube socks and sneakers. Camouflage.
I did this because, finally, not even she would have been able to ignore it. I’d decided to save her the worry, the blame. At least that’s what I thought I was doing.
Her name is Rosie, but my grandpa called her Rose. Some of my family used to joke and call us twins because as I got older, I began to resemble the way she looked when she was younger. I never saw it but I didn't deny it either; she was beautiful. My grandmother, with her yellow-toned skin and brownish red hair like autumn leaves changing, was always changing. A laugh could quickly turn into angry words, rolling off of her tongue like a flame, catching your skin and eating it right down to your heart. Projection, I'm guessing from a lifetime of rejection. Maybe I got it worse because I was like a direct reflection. Reminding her of a history she thought she left, and maybe it still hurt because she never got the lesson. Not enough tears fell for the scars to lessen. To the white kids who spit on her from school buses as she walked to school, she was too black. To her family and friends always teasing her, she was too light, and wIth the changing times she thought that I had it easier. But things weren't always bad between me and her.
I still remember those Sunday mornings I watched her put on blue eyeliner and red lipstick as we got ready for church. One day she started showing me how to do the same. "Not too much," she'd say. Every Sunday morning we were late. I still remember those late nights she'd stay up waiting for me to come home. There was always an expression of relief on her tired face when I walked through the door. She couldn't stop me from going out with friends and she also couldn't stop herself from worrying. I remember my grandmother trying to teach me how to be feminine. But in a state of rebellion, I dressed and acted more like my brothers and started hanging out with their friends. Luckily that didn't last long and I became like a girl again. Over the years I slowly began to grow into my own, mixed with pieces of each generation before me. I became myself by taking the parts of my grandmother, so deeply ingrained in me, that weren't working and left them where my tears fell, and she and I became a little more free; and the parts I loved, I decided to keep. It was the good memories I decided to keep.
The good thing about making memories with others is that in case you ever forget, you have someone else who can remind you; although what you recall maybe be different than how they remember it. But imagine not remembering the very people you've made memories with.
"Who are you?" my grandmother asked me one day. My own grandmother. This woman I've known all my life, and lived with more than half of it. We stared at each other in equal confusion, but for different reasons. "Who am I? I'm Ashley," I told her. My mouth stopped explaining but my heart kept on. "The one you let get away with almost anything; the one you used to let go through your drawers of make-up like I was looking for treasure, letting me take whatever I wanted; the one whose good grades you were always proud of; It's me, your oldest granddaughter."
But even then, not even the tears seeping from my heart, not even my hopeful energy could mend whatever it was that fell apart in her memory. Born to her own daughter, I still somehow became more like a long lost friend she would never see again. I am a stranger to her. Still I looked in her eyes hoping she would see me and remember me, her "twin." I kept looking even after it was clear she wouldn't. Because if she didn't remember me, she might remember herself in this mirror I was trying to create. She might remember who she was, and that would have been enough for me.
In the middle of a family picnic in hot July, my daughter lost her first tooth.
During a full season of a thousand little things and with the thought of school looming ahead, I was hungry for a concrete memory and we set out to make one.
It would be a midsummer day "when the kids were small" and we lay down on the grass, satiating our bellies with good food and our souls with the wonder that our love begot love. In between passing the potato salad and the chocolate cake, she held out her hand.
There it was.
A tiny thing.
A tiny thing that reminded me of when she was a tiny thing.
She dropped it into my palm like a lens that brought the past into focus.
I could feel the roughness of the top emerging through baby gums and remember the source of tears and sleepless nights which had compelled my arms to hold her close, and my lips to kiss her feverish forehead.
Waiting on such a small thing, and with a bit of pain it finally comes. Then waiting and waiting again, and with a bit of pain, it departs. A tooth, a baby, they are one in the same.
A small bit of wisdom given to me so long ago was made tangible: "The minute they're born, they are moving away from you." Toward independence, toward heartache, and toward the things we pray the future holds for them.
I looked up into the present to see a toothless grin, the exact inverted smile of her baby days when the only tooth in her mouth was the one now in my hand. I drew a breath and wished hard that I could tell my past self to savor the moments spent even in tears, but before I could exhale she was gone --swinging on the swings, higher and higher, up and away.
The small twin bed is positioned against the wall near the tiny window, which looks out on a dense hedge. The single blanket on the bed is thin and worn, as is the rumpled mattress. There is a limp rag doll positioned neatly upon the center of the pillow, her sightless eyes appearing forlorn as it sits alone on the bed. Scant sunlight streams through the window, slanting across the bare floor. A gray metal, scarred table with a folding chair is positioned beneath the window, serving as a desk. An old mason jar of mustard yellow pencils and a stack of 2nd grade school books rest upon the table, as well as a writing tablet. On top of the tablet lays a paper - a spelling quiz - with a red “100” written boldly across the top. The walls are painted a non-descript beige, with no bright, happy colors lighting up the room. The entry door has no lock and remains open at all times, as is the house rule, allowing for no real privacy. The cheap dresser is ade of pressed wood, with only 3 drawers. The clothing, which is painstakingly and neatly folded in the drawers, all came from the Salvation Army store, pre-used and “gently worn”. Most of it is too big for the child’s small frame. There is no closet. Peeking from under the edge of the bed is a pair of brown loafers, worn and scuffed, but sufficient. A small 3-tiered book shelf stands by the door. The only books that rest upon its shelves are a Webster’s dictionary and one other book, her prize possession, The Night Fairy. There is a single inscription inside the cover of the book, written in a shaky print, “To my little fairy princess, who will always be strong like the fairy in this story.”
The red photo frame on the edge of the table nearest the bed provides the only bright spot of color. The woman in the photo is extraordinarily beautiful, with long flowing curls of dark chestnut, and deep green eyes. Her lips are painted cherry red, and are open in a mischievous grin. She is tall and slender, with long arms of a dancer, and delicate hands...her nails painted cherry red to match her lips. She is wearing a crisp, white flouncy blouse, with poufy short sleeves and a scooped neck that ties in the front. A colorful red and purple Mexican peasant skirt swirls around her long legs. White sandals are on her tiny feet, and again, her toenails are painted to match her fingernails and lips. She hs one hand on the shoulder of a little girl, who is dressed to match. They are standing on the dock of a bay, with a big white yacht in the background. The child appears to be about 4 or 5 years old and is looking adoringly up at the woman, laughing. It is obvious they belong together.
However, they are not together now. No one has seen the woman in 6 months. The little girl now appears to be only a shell of the child in the photo. Her cheeks are no longer rosy, but gaunt and thin. Her eyes no longer sparkle with merriment, but are circled by dark purple shadows and look haunted. Her hair is no longer bouncy and shiny, but hangs lankly about her shoulders.
The child sits quietly on the edge of the bed, staring at the photo, trying very hard not to cry. A single tear escapes from her right eye, as she silently wonders why her mother has left her. She continues to hope, against all odds, that someday she will return to rescue her from this lonely place that no one could really call a home. Laughter does not exist in this house, only rigid rules and stern faces. There is no softness, no color, and no warmth here. The lonely rag doll, the lone book, and the brightly-framed photo are the only real indications of the little girl who resides in this room, of the little girl who has lost her mother.
Jake ain’t much for following the rules. He ain’t much for being told what’s right or wrong either. Some folks has got their own rules and their own idea of what’s right. Jake’s lookin’ for his dream, his dream girl, and his last ride. Jake surfs.
Jake looked at the alarm clock. 7:35 in the evening. Well, so much for sticking to a schedule. Been living on this fishing beach for almost a year now and still can’t get up or sleep at no decent time. What was it that gal who just moved out yelled as she was driving away? “Seek help dude.” Man, I don’t need help. I need a cold case of beer, a good woman, and a good wave. Why is it the women that I find never want to do anything on the spur of the moment? Why, that hussy could be sittin’ right beside me right now on this beach watchin’ this moon come up, drinkin’ this cold beer. Far as I’m concerned it don’t get no better’n that.
Bout that time, he saw something jumping in the surf. Jake took the last swig of the last beer he had and grabbed his board. Hitting the waves running, he was past the breakers in less than a minute it seemed. Funny thing about this particular coastline, it was chock full of ghosts. Jake knew that, or, suspected it. He had heard the talk. He knew no one but him surfed this beach at night. All of the time he was seeing black shadows fly up the beach as the waves rolled in. Some times they stopped to watch him it seemed. This time though, it was bigger and farther out. When he got out to where it was quiet, he sat up on the ten-foot board and just listened. Even though he was listening for it, he never expected to hear the water fall off the shoulders of what ever it was that just surfaced behind him. He turned around to face it.
A strong jaw line, wide shoulders, golden braided hair, and drop dead gorgeous deep blue eyes looked right back at him as she tread water only five feet away. “What’s yer name babe?” Jake asked the young girl who had just popped up out of nowhere. “I’m Victoria Jake,” she quietly said. Jake was stunned as he slowly spoke, “You’re gorgeous Victoria. Are you surfin’ out here in the dark? Wait...you know me? How do you know me?”
After about an hour of both of them sitting atop the board drifting on the waves, not speaking much, Jake began to fall in love. It was a spur of the moment thing that he loved. The silver moon was shining across the waves, glinting in their eyes, glistening across their bare shoulders. Finally, Jake smiled at her and began paddling into shore. Just as he had gotten to waist deep surf, she jumped off and said, “Not tonight my love. Soon. But you must be on my schedule”
Jake was hurt, dumbfounded, but accepted it after seeing the look in her eyes. What was on her mind this one he wondered? She was a total mystery. He sat on the beach until the dawn turned the sky auburn, and then purple and then blue as day broke over the beach. Kure Beach, where he had moved only a year before swearing to the world that he had fallen off the face of the Earth when he moved here. They would scatter his ashes here he swore before they would make him leave. But now where, where had this siren of a woman come from and where in the world did she disappear to so quickly. It seemed that she leapt from his surfboard right onto wings carrying her away upon the waves. He needed sleep and he wanted a drink. More than anything, he needed a schedule. It was really beginning to bother him that he could not sleep anymore, nor could he dream. He dearly missed dreaming.
Jake walked home carrying the ten-footer leaning it against his door for later. He went inside, had a few drinks and slept, but Jake did not dream. He awoke late and tired but still thinking of the woman he had met on the waves the night before. He hoped he would see her again. And again that night he walked to the beach and again he put the board to water and paddled out. But Jake did not see the woman and he worried about her. When morning came, he again went home, drank, slept, but Jake did not dream.
Jake had somehow found a schedule but not a schedule that would let a man live. Not live for very long at least. It is said that without dreams, a man will die. A man needs the release of his dreams to fulfill the losses and the less than expected places a man might find himself in during his lifetime. Jake had always expected more from himself and from life in return but he was always a little short on life’s little paydays. But tonight was payday. Tonight was an anniversary for Jake. It was exactly one lunar cycle past since he saw the beautiful woman on the waves and in the back of his mind, he knew that he would see her tonight. Tonight the low tide came with the rising moon. Tonight, he would find himself farther out upon the waves than ever before.
Just as always, Jake had a few drinks before going to the beach. Just as always, he sat upon the sand for a while just looking and listening to the ocean in front of him. Just as always, he began seeing the ghosts chase the cresting waves up the coastline. It was time he figured. He took the last swig of the last beer he had. He put the board to water and paddled out beyond the breakers.
Just as suddenly as before, Victoria was there on the board with him wrapped in his arms. It was as if she had flown up upon the board. They sat there for hours feeling each other’s warmth, looking at each other, at the moon, at the waves. Hours passed and at last, the sky began to change to the dawning colors of day. Victoria slowly looked up at Jake and again he fell deeply in love with her. “I can’t continue to be a part of your schedule Jake.” She whispered to him. “But you can be a part of mine.”
Jake was ready. He was so tired. So very tired. He longed to sleep and to dream of Victoria. Slowly, they kissed deeply, and with arms around each other, slid from the board. As if on wings, she took him from the board and into an almost ether mist void of sight or sound. A softness in the darkness that was neither light nor dark. A place where Jake slowly began to drift off, in her arms, drift off to sleep.
At last, Jake had found a woman who would do something for him, with him, on the spur of the moment. A woman who would not tell him what was right, what was wrong, what was wrong with him. Finally, Jake had found a schedule that would let him feel like a man, a free man, a man who lived on the beach, a man who lived on Kure Beach. Jake slowly drifted off beneath the waves with a Kure ghost named Victoria who held him close, who had watched and loved him for so long from afar…waiting on him just at the right time. At last, and right on schedule, Jake dreamed.
To whom it may concern,
My name is Sidney Mauk and I am a collector and enthusiast of obscure and odd medical memorabilia. I have recently purchased, at auction, an item that I believe belonged to a member of this address. It is a spring loaded, wooden left-leg, fashioned for wear below the femur. It carried this address upon a label under a coating of shellac. If anyone at this current address knows anything of its origin or can supply me the maker’s name I would be very much obliged. The mechanism is truly remarkable, and its craftsmanship is well conceived and executed. Thank you for your time, and I hope soon to hear from you.
Dr. Sideny Mauk , RTD
Great Grandfather’s leg used to sit in a corner in Nanny’s living room. Up until he had died, he had worn it every day since the Great War. He had lost his real leg there, though not in any real battle. He was a cook. One day the front line was breached and a small group of Austrians made it to the field HQ, where my dad’s grandfather was cooking. A random explosion hit the coal-oil tanks near the mess hall, and a piece of hot shrapnel sheared his left leg clean off at the knee. Dad said grandfather’s army buddies would kid him at reunions down at the V.F.W.; usually jokes about how his leg probably ended up in some Frenchman’s stew, and more than likely tasted better than the slop he fed them during the war.
His leg wasn’t buried with him. Great Grandma wanted to keep it near the bed where he sat it before retiring each night. It was made of cork oak by another wounded soldier who was next to him in the field hospital. The soldier was a furniture maker from Pennsylvania, and an amateur inventor. He fastened steel springs in the knee and ankle, and grandfather learned to walk again over the ensuing months until he was discharged. After the war, he worked nights on the freight yard as a switch-man, the leg with him every step of the way.
After his granny passed, Dad’s folks forgot about the leg. It got set aside repeatedly in different corners of the house. Various old photos of Pa and Nanny’s house, when dad was a boy, show his grandfather’s leg lurking here or there in a corner or propped against a wall. It soon found its way into dad’s room, and after taking a carpentry class in high school, became part of the family again. Dad made it into a lamp table; he always has had an odd sense of humor. His mom never cared for the leg sitting around the house. He gave it to Pa for Father’s Day that year, much to Nanny’s chagrin.
The lamp table sat in the living room by Pa’s armchair, the leg proudly displayed for all to see. Nanny would sometimes place a table cloth over it when company was over. But sooner or later Pa would tell one of the guests that he thought someone was hiding under the table over by him, and lifting the tablecloth, reveal grandfather’s leg. It would cause quite a stir of laughter from the visiting men and embarrassment for the women.
After Pa passed, it was lost in the back of the house, standing quiet and still by an old armoire. The room was a catchall, stacked with boxes and other outdated furniture. When I was little, various cousins and I would play in the back of the house. That’s when I discovered grandfather’s leg. I thought maybe it had belonged to a pirate or a villainous uncle. I would scare my cousins with stories of hearing it on some nights, walking about the house, when I’d stay with Nanny during the summertime. After learning the history of grandfather’s leg from Dad, I asked Nanny if I could have it. She gladly obliged.
I removed it from the tabletop and oiled the wood to restore its natural beauty. It’s quite more intricate then it looks; with springs and fasteners installed in the hollow of it as well. Grandfather’s leg sat in my room though High School and then I went off to college. It stayed behind and later was placed in the attic by Mom. While I was away at school a tornado hit the house and tore the roof off. After coming home to help them clean up I was saddened when I found that great-grandfather’s leg was not among the things found.
I am happy to hear from you, in regards to the leg. That it has been found so many hundreds of miles from its original locale leaves me speechless. My father has passed since the leg was lost, and I am again happy to know that it will be kept safe and has become part of your family. The above narrative is a story I once started during my college days but never finished. Any other information about the leg has been lost with the passing of my father, so I hope this letter will leave you with some consolation as to its origin. My Great-grandfather’s name was Leslie Sawyer and he served in the U.S. Army during World War I. We lost other family items and historical documents when the leg was carried off by the tornado, so there is little else I can tell you as to its maker and design. If some time I happen to pass near or about Kansas, I would very much like to come and visit with you and see the leg that once served my Great-grandfather so well.
“. . . to keep a drowsy Emperor awake” --Yeats
Bach, quite the opposite, wrote to drowse
a waking Russian count to sleep.
Long an insomniac, the count begged for
music to cheer and occupy his brain
as he fretted under his velvet duvet.
A modest lilting aria to begin, a few simple
notes, it doubles to a cannon,
multiplies to a dance, exponentially explodes
into an arabesque. Eight sets of these triplets
remain, and a final progression breaks the chain.
In fact, the whole story of the count
may be apocryphal. But I think after listening
to thirty variations on one theme, the man
had to be asleep.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the Variations.
Descartes would go nuts over them,
figuring out which parts are the inverse
ratio of what, and how the permutations
until the final movement, an unexpected burst
of congruence, a measured, perfect harmonic whole--
But by then even the most brain-racked baron is asleep.
I like to imagine Bach whispering into his ear:
dis ist mein Geheimnis--this is my favorite part--
the part where it all comes together.
This is the music of the universe. But you have
to be awake to hear it.
Too bad we sleep much of our lives.
I first faced death one Southern night.
Earlier, I’d ridden my bike to a friend’s house.
The sky was blue to the horizon,
The wind, nearly forcing me off the road,
Maybe too hot for March, but this was Alabama.
That night the storms came with fury
Crushing all in their drunken dancing paths.
With no “safe space,” we crouched in the hallway.
Morning found us physically untouched
But still forever changed.
Alabama girls learn early that blue skies deceive.
That beyond the mountains, dark clouds are rushing
Towards us, with swirls and purple walls
Descending like doom at the end of days.
So the second time death came calling,
When, one morning, without warning,
You rose from the breakfast table,
Knife in your hand and fist on my face,
I knew hurt, fear, and confusion
But not surprise.
Because Alabama girls learn early
That blue skies deceive.
The boys ran through the empty parking lot,
some on bicycles, others on foot, while
trying to remember a taste they forgot.
They remembered the days of rice in their pot,
unsure of what it was like to be hungry.
The boys ran through the empty parking lot
and rustled through the green garbage slot.
The little scavengers, hoped to find a crumb of cake,
trying to remember a taste they forgot.
Some nights were too hot;
their energy would drain as
the boys ran through the empty parking lot.
Blinded from the rays refracting off their dirt plot,
they tried to recall the weeks when they were full,
trying to remember a taste they forgot.
What they craved was constantly sought.
After the tsunami swallowed the town and its crops,
the boys ran through the empty parking lot
trying to remember a taste they forgot.
Sweet summer smells alive in the air
Reminiscence of childhood
Woven clover crowns
Lightening bugs in a pickle jar
Running until your legs buckled
Sweat slickened hair
The wind blowing warm
hair stinging my eyes
scratching my nose
bare feet splatting against cold cement
(a sidewalk kept cool ‘neath the shade of the helicopter tree)
“Mama, save me”
I’d cry, running to her so no one could make me “it”
Her arms encircled me
As she caught me up, with a smile
She’d twirl me around
Give me a kiss
Then set me down
A swat on my behind
With a little encouraging shove
“It’s ok, to play. I’ll stay right here…”
as I slowly walked away
Continuously checking-always looking back
Never doubting but keeping eye contact
Afraid of losing sight of the one I trusted above all
Home free and safety zone
No one could catch me if hid behind her leg
The only person who knew the real me down to my very soul
She‘d keep me safe
But give me room to grow
I’m still looking…
Glimpsing yesterdays’ smile
Recalling the playful glint in her eyes
I know she’ll always be there
A promise made is why
I’m always looking back
Fearful a full circle will have come
One day, when I turn
The promise will be done
And my faded memories will be gone
you're slipping away, in and out of women, of consciousness
losing count, lost beginning, unable to comprehend
and put names to faces, they all become faceless
as all that begins to matter is what's below the waist
you fill them to fill the void, try to get back what was taken
and it's easy to avoid when your heart is racing
because it feels so good, but when it's over you're the same and
you think this time you're closer, next time will leave you painless
but more shame is all that is waiting in line
as you get farther from your first time
trying to change your first time
because i bet you imagined it'd be with someone your own age
someone with whom it was a mutual exchange
but she was old enough to be your mother back then
she was old enough to be your mother because she was
your mother's friend
decided you were cute and when you were of age
she'd have her way
but she didn't even wait until your eighteenth birthday
and you didn't have any say
still, as you talk about it now, you laugh out loud in a proud way
like it was okay
but if she were a man and you were a girl, it'd be an outrage
but you don't see it that way
you think it made you a man but it takes more to define it
and you can't move your life forward when at the same time you're
trying to rewind it
denying won't make you forget, not even timing
it's the hurt you have accept and reconcile with
because the truth is never as ugly as the lies that bind it
there's just so much glitter we use to disguise it
but glitter always falls off and all that's left is what it was hiding
wanting to be brought into the light, and
now it's trying
to free you from the cycle you find yourself trapped in
you would get some closure, some due satisfaction
if you could look at the wrong done and admit that
it did happen
and after all the crying necessary to move past it
and after the dying of that boy, that moment, stolen, that you'll never get back
one day when remember it, you won't be saddened
because hardly anyone's first time turns out just as they'd imagined
Forced to flee in the middle of the night,
clothes on person, perishables in hand, the sick left with the land became
the peoples’ memory of eyes piercing white.
Troubles were not negated by the right,
but by those desiring land with artillery held in the name.
Forced to flee in the middle of the night,
the journey arranged took flight;
families shifted with traditions lost and thoughts of reclaiming.
The peoples’ memory of eyes piercing white
followed the steps that might
find their way back to those surnames,
forced to flee in the middle of the night.
Amputation as means of losing one’s sight
blinded ambitions of growth through shame.
The peoples’ memory of eyes piercing white
held onto the positions in each mind in spite
of the locations allotted to those same
forced to flee in the middle of the night;
the peoples’ memory of eyes piercing white.
It hangs there,
in the back of the closet,
a cherished treasure.
The soft suppleness
of the leather,
invites the fingers to touch,
in hopes that one might,
feel the presence
of the former wearer.
It smells of smoke and Old Spice,
its pockets are deep and many.
“What’s this?” I wonder,
as I reach into the inner breast pocket.
It’s a gold-colored cigarette lighter,
its surface worn shiny and smooth
I catch a faint whiff of Camels,
the favored brand.
There’s something else,
it feels cold and heavy,
a small pocket knife,
the carving of a deer upon its ivory handle.
This knife was often used
to cut fishing line,
or okra from the garden,
or to dig a splinter
from a child’s hand,
a man’s necessary item,
one that would never be left behind,
Checking the other pockets,
I find a faded photograph,
its edges worn and frayed.
It’s a picture of a man,
holding an infant,
on an early spring day.
The man is shirtless,
his muscled shoulders and chest,
as pale as the baby’s newborn skin;
his hair as red as hers.
The baby wears a thin, white dress,
embroidered with blue flowers,
trimmed in pink lace.
printed on the edge of the photo,
indicates it was taken
almost fifty years ago.
Tears stream down my face,
as my heart aches,
to hear his laughter once again.
Dedicated to the memory of my father
b. February 1, 1942 - d. April 11, 2003
Your side of the bed
A perfect indentation
Heavy from your frame
From the dreams inside your head
Lying next to me
A different expectation
A thousand miles away
From me, on the other side
I can’t close my eyes
You can’t see my side
You’ll sleep, keeping the peace
And I’ll be right here, ready to fight
You fall, you fall
Farther away from me
You’ll sleep keeping the peace
And I will wait here, ready to fight
You wait it out from your side
Your side of the bed
A thousand miles away
From me, on the other side
Time jumped from hospital room to hospital room
Not sterile white and clean
But imperfect and dingy and aged with time
Echoing her condition
Time had ravaged her sweet countenance
. . . taken her one retreat and made it inhabitable
No freedom to wake or sleep
Common courtesies to stand or sit
a prisoner in her own self
she battled the wages of life for freedom
Freedom . . . sweet freedom
Breathing was a job
Sitting an exercise
Standing an impossibility-as if she were
trying to lift weights of 300 pounds or more
her tiny stick legs fought her-refusing to give an inch
I sat and watched
as if I were some voyeur
Unable or unwilling to interfere
Watching each painful scene unfold
My heart breaking with each medical word
that was vomited from their
engorged heads -spewing from their mouths
Cardio pulmonary infarction
Whole blood platelets
It was like vampires descending,
so much blood being taken
How much blood could they take
before there was no more?
There must be a great beast living beneath the hospital
Deep down below in the bowels of the basement
Engorging itself on all the blood
Blood work at 5:00 A.M.
Blood work at 10:00 A.M.
Blood work at 6:00 P.M.
Blood work at 12:00 P.M.
How much did the creature need?
Surely they took blood from other patients
Around the clock, they drained the patients dry
While the vampire creature, below in the basement,
feasted on their blood
Until finally, there was no more blood
then, released to go home
drained of her life’s blood
she sat in her recliner
and slowly faded away
I cried because she was gone
I cried because I had not stopped it
I cried because I did not know how to stop it
because I am sure
the ravenous vampire beast beneath the hospital
thirsting and hungering for me
(In honor of our students returning from war)
Back from Afghanistan
He claims a back-row seat
A seat in English Comp, first semester
Boyhood not long gone
He is old - in the eyes -
Eyes that have seen too much
One summer-soft evening
He scored five home runs, that boy
Not much left of that grinning boy
Married at nineteen,
He was better at love
Better at marriage from a distance.
Never a stellar student
He confesses he hates writing
Hates it, but he’ll try - Yes ma’am
To write is to take a risk, she says
He has stories in him
Stories buried like land-mines
Screen blank, night creeps by,
He wouldn’t be sleeping anyway
Can’t sleep for the night terrors
So much to say
He can’t say anything
Not anything that matters
First light breaks, he makes a start,
He writes a first line
A good line, and true
The first triggers the next
He sweats out one more and another
Sweats out demons, lays them bare
It’s a beginning, basic training,
He will plod on, soldier-tough
And never let on what his C+ cost him.
Today I returned the band,
You placed on my hand,
I remembered it wasn't mine.
I took it back to the man,
Who should have gave you away,
Where he's lying, down beneath the pines.
And we talked a while,
An I said I was sorry,
For loving you oh so much.
He told me son, you're just,
Borrowing the blues,
Leave’em buried with that gold in the dust.
Something borrowed, something blue
Is all I have of you,
Now it's lying in the dust 'neath the pines.
Guess all we'll ever share,
Is this shady little lot
two hearts dead, though not forgot.
I am a woman.
I am a vessel of life and light.
My eyes are ancient and my long hair smells of spice.
My skin is soft, my body curves and sways, my laughter catches on the wind and echo's for days.
I'm not on a fashion model; I don't conform to a style.
I'm not oppressed or shaped by the hands of man.
I am molded by time, God made me sublime, I'm not here to impress I just am what I am.
I am connected to the Earth and the sea.
I feel the pull of the ocean and the moon calls to me.
In my body resides the magic of creation, my cycle of blood is life rejuvenation.
I am strong. My power comes from within.
I give birth like my mothers gone by.
I bare down, my sisters holding my hands and hear the sound of my child’s first lusty cry.
I am the Mother.
I am loves gentle arms.
My tender voice comforts with care.
I am the protector.
If you bring harm to my den I will greet you as the ravenous bear.
I am beautiful.
I am wisdom and dreams.
In my eyes you see the wind and the rain.
I am all that you hoped I would be and I am rising from the ashes again.
Over the years our ways have been changed, our natural path twisted to please.
Some have thought to tame the women we are and have produced girls who live life on their knees.
Reach down into the deep inner core and feel the pulse of the power within.
Stand tall and proud in your own natural state and rejoice at the woman within.
I am a Woman.
My mother lives
alone in a condo.
She is surrounded
tied to 40 years
He has her surrounded.
His paintings on the walls
His handwriting on boxes
The TV cables he labeled with tape
The walls he painted
His side of the bed
She got forever
as far as he could give.
She forgot to check
the fine print.
*Length of forever may vary.
No purchase necessary.
Offer void where prohibited.
I imagine it is excruciating.
I picture her going about her day
then opening a drawer,
finding something she forgot
to hide from herself,
and falling apart.
She would never admit it
but she owns that Xanax
for a reason.
Had she feared this
had she resigned herself
to ten cats and solitude
I wouldn’t be here.
Sis wouldn’t be here.
There is very little victory
in ten litter boxes
and endless quiet.
They say it took almost a month
before they found your body,
stuck to your face.
On that day in March,
all Leonard had left
was your walking stick
floating on the Ouse.
What did it feel like
Did you instinctively
kick or fight at all?
Or were you so ready,
that you just let the stones
drag you down
into the depth
to the quiet.
What a relief, to be suddenly
lifted while simultaneously sinking
into the deep dark blackness.
I wish I were so brave
to go sinking,
to release those who love me
from the struggles of living with me.
I long to grow as strong as you,
to fill my pockets and
My hazel eyes and light skin deceive me.
My Native Heritage calls, it screams to me.
Not allowed in the circle unless invited in; always seen as an outsider.
Oh how my hazel eyes and light skin deceive me.
My Native Heritage calls, it screams to me.
The drums are music to my soul.
Taking me back to a time when my native lineage was dominant and the hazel eyes weren’t deceiving.
The colors of the grass dancers’ regalia surround me, the drums feel my soul, the dancers kindle my spirit and the flutes send a sense of peace through me.
My hazel eyes and light skin deceive me.
Oh how I wish my soul could be seen because the Cherokee in my blood screams to be free.
See me for me; more than my hazel eyes and light skin.
My Native Heritage calls, it screams to me.
Nouns are not the only things to go.
She turns knobs in the wrong direction
and therefore cannot open doors
or turn the water on or off.
Structures open; she can say
this is, there are, where is or who,
but cannot say this is a good ham sandwich,
there are no whales in Wales,
where is Benjamin, or who hung the moon.
At the restaurant she pours milk
into the bowl of sugar packets
and stirs them with a spoon.
Deep grammar still remains:
One pours, one stirs,
one’s coffee clouds and swirls.
The sun is spilling gold around her
But he’s texting.
She might offer a smile that would make him
sizzle like an electric wire
They might talk
go for coffee
see a movie
take a walk on a path that
winds through snow like
confectioners sugar frosting
He might pull her into the warm
crook of his arm
But he’s texting.
They might get married
have four children,
one who would discover a cure for
the most vicious disease of the century
They might sleep bodies entwined
for sixty glorious years
And waking every morning, he might see or
believe he still sees
the girl with sunlight spilling gold around her
But he’s texting.
Fingertips on cool glass
as rain begins to fall,
pebbles at first,
quick and fast,
until the drops grow
hard and big
as the fifty cent pieces
my grandma gave me.
Wind kicks up,
twisting and bending
the little tree
my father planted
the year before.
Abruptly the sky goes dark,
angry, lonesome gray,
sliding too fast.
I press my face to the glass,
watching leaves circling,
rising and falling, dancing,
a tiny tornado of their own.
The crack of the oak branch
splintering, startles me,
but I am mesmerized
more than afraid,
my mom yells for me
in the distance,
panic rising in her voice.
The deafening roar
on top of us, through us,
like a train pounding
right through our house.
A sudden jerk of my arm
as my mom grabs me,
heading for the playroom
under the stairs.
My shoulder burns,
but I shed no tears,
from the engulfing sound.
The playroom door shuts
as the window blows in,
a loud shattering crash, and
everything goes black.
We crouch in the position
practiced at school,
hands laced over neck.
We sit in silence inside the playroom,
with my Little People city all around us,
the little yellow house,
the farm with the cardboard silo,
back before Little People had arms and legs,
just little wooden posts with a head,
curvy for women,
straight for men,
a cap for the boy,
blonde pigtails for the girl.
women are freer now than thirty, forty, fifty years ago
there's more opportunity
but we are still not good enough to be considered autonomous beings
our soft hands that sew, cook, play piano and hold children
are not calloused enough
we have to work like men to be taken seriously
or else be taken advantage of
our anger is unacceptable and if we express it
we are either psycho or on our cycle
and so we repress it...
and we repress it
until it takes the form of anxiety or depression
we sit still and look pretty as we bite down on our aggression
and don't question the hurt, and to lessen the sting
we search to find worth in
we observe the commercials on TV, the magazines
for the next big thing to make us feel like we are someone
fashion is ever changing
once we go blond, dark hair is the new thing
once we get used to our curves, thin is in
and all of the different women we have been has buried the
young girls are becoming the dolls they used to play with
women are cutting into the bodies they used to be okay with
afraid we are not good enough for the men we lay with
we convince ourselves that there is something better they're gonna find
yet WE condition them to love with their eyes
there is no boundary line, just go online
how many women are competing with their minds?
we complain that we are only seen as sexual beings
but look at how sexual we are being
we claim there is no respect but we don't object enough to
rejecting that little voice inside saying
because it sure gets lonely sometimes without a king in our
king sized beds
and it gets lonely trying to pursue a life independent after generations of
so instead we take our energy and we extend it
toward a man's way of living
as our own ideas hang in the shadows
we stifle our creative potential
using only our faces as canvases
eyeliner as pencils
creating masterpieces that only last a weekend
before sleep wipes it away
but still we find a way
distracting ourselves with things that are meant to attract
but only act as satisfaction
we slow each other down when we should be providing the traction
to get us to a place where all that we are matters
even the things we've tried subtracting
we are freer now but where there were chains
there are still visible welts
and among all the competition and the jealousy
the submission and the insecurities
a woman's hardest struggle is the one with
(In honor of Marcus Redbear who died in 2008. He is survived by his wife Sandra Redbear their 7 children.)
Cold sweat in an empty bed,
I hold myself arms locking in emotions.
Awaking to another day,
trapped by loves devotion.
The kids all have empty eyes,
smiles that crash so easy.
My face is stone until they go to bed.
You swore you'd never leave me.
There it is the gaping wound,
the phone call in the night.
"We found his body on the tracks”,
in his hands, my everlasting life.
Your long black hair runs through my hands,
as I braid it down,
The smell of sage on your native skin,
as we lay you in the ground.
Here I am for the rest of time,
surrounded by you in them.
Mournful sobs torn from my soul,
after I tuck them into bed.
You’re always here inside me,
In every whisper in the breeze.
I’ll ache for you eternally,
Perhaps in death at last we'll meet.
“The fruit that has fallen is the sweetest.”
From Poetry, the Movie
Let go of the branch
No. We’ll fall
Of course we’ll fall
but by our will
not plucked and waxed
to sit in artful arrangement
without taste or smell
Could someone catch us
or break our fall?
Not if we’re ripe
too full for anyone to catch
without the softest of hands
only to watch in open-mouthed
Of course it will hurt
our bruises will be sweet
the bees will come and eat them
wriggling their little striped rear ends
there's residue on the counter where he poured out a small mountain of it
such a perfectionist
he uses his ID card to form lines with the powder as I counted them
I was happy to be part of something I thought was big
I felt proud of it then
not knowing the damage that would amount in him
he mumbles out loud, something about
do I want to try
as he finishes it off before i can reply
it's these times he likes to share too much of his life
telling me things about himself he otherwise wouldn't mention
as each hit slows his inhibition
I feel guilt rising up in my gut like intuition
because my reality is not so twisted
so I make up a reason to leave this self afflicting tradition we invented
and get us out of this state of mind
we walk out and turn off the light
leaving our tears on the bathroom floor to air dry
"here's your dollar" he says
I unroll it and wipe away white dust wondering if it will still spend
he starts to tell me something but it's hard to comprehend
I try making contact but his eyes shoot quick glances across walls
looking at everything but me
and there's stuff spilling out from bottles
spilling out from underneath my bed in excess
i count them
i never noticed
princess and the pea
what should be too much for most is never enough for him
over doing it like overdose
how many times has he come close?
as his drug of choice and his use becomes more intense
how did he end up so far from his innocence?
from video games and late night TV
to idolizing dead celebrities
from cracking jokes in the back of the schoolhouse
to airing the crack smell in the bathroom out
I want to look up to him but I don't know how
heroes aren't usually this low down
I wonder how we could have grown up in the same house
but be so different in the way we turned out
what made me choose pen and paper
while he chose rolling papers?
what made me choose the simplicity of faucet water
while he chose the vodka bottle
genetics of an alcoholic father?
what makes me want to live while he looks at life
and decides to not even bother?
he thinks of his past and sees no point in grieving
because you'd spend half of your life changing
the half you'd been leading
and that doesn't make you happy
it just makes you even
he sees it as a waste of time and he's not just trying to get high
mother read between the lines
he's trying to die
Her long red hair flowing in the breeze;
A flower to be planted in one hand and a garden spade in the other
The sun dancing on the natural blond highlights
Her face full of happiness
Her Irish heritage showing predominately with every shift of her red hair
A day in the garden always making her so young and full of life
A memory forever etched in my mind
Twenty years have passed since I saw her smiling face.
A woman my children will never know, but I still see her and feel her often.
I see her long red hair flowing in the breeze;
A flower to be planted in one hand and a garden spade in the other.
There is a quiet in between the two suns
The darkness becomes
A desolate road
Whisper and worry, fear and regret
And travel alone
They move in secret and they glide on the edge
Climb on the ledge
Surrounding your door
One by one they come and take up their post
An army of ghosts
You’re losing the war
Their aim is steady as they watch and they wait
Stalking their prey
Calling for you
You say you’re only hearing voices again
But you let them in
And they swallowed you whole
Overalls and withered hands
A big straw hat and a leather tan
Growing up out of the dark red mud
50 years of sweat and blood
They moved in close and they sowed machines
They wrote their name on every seed
They milked the ground till it was bone dry
And in a distant field you could hear him cry
You take what you want
He kept on just like he’d always done
From the last of the stars to the last of the sun
They came rolling in like rain
That rots the fields and floods the plains
They pulled him up just like a wild weed
They called him liar and they called him thief
Hands in his pockets he walked away
They took it all and he took the blame
You take what you want
You can have my money
You can have my bread
You can even have the roof from over my head
I’ll keep the stains in the cracks of my hands
I’ll keep the smell of the dusty land
You take what you want
I’ll have peace that lets me sleep
Every year and memory
You take what you want
Leslie Angel is an adjunct instructor at NSCC, is also a writing tutor in the Learning Center.
Heather Buckner, a competitive figure skater, has also taken art classes in the Nashville area and at the Delaware College of Art and Design.
Roux Chanatry is a 20-year-old native Nashvillian. Now a student at NSCC, she graduated high school from Nashville School of the Arts.
Selena Crowley is a Potawatomi American Indian. An NSCC graduate, she went on to Fisk University and will intern at Yale University.
Michael Drake is a second-year student at NSCC. He is interested in engineering and hopes to work in the area of industrial design.
Alfonso Garcia is a student at NSCC, studying photography.
Erika Gluck is working on her studio arts degree at NSCC. She says, “I have always wanted to create a new world since I was little.”
Phyllis Gobbell, Associate Professor of English, is also a professional writer. Editor of Tetrahedra, she teaches creative writing and is the accompanist for the campus choir.
Stephanie Greene is pursuing a degree in Healthcare Management with an emphasis in medical coding. She lives in Franklin with her pets. Her passion over the years has been animal rescue and photography
Jim Hearn, high school dropout, earned his GED (Honors) at the age of 54 and began college at age 55. He is proof there is no time limit to start life over.
Faye Jones is Dean of Learning Resources at NSCC. When not on campus, she can be found reading a book, picking out a tune on her keyboard, writing a poem, or listening to French.
John Knox, professional artist, teaches art courses at NSCC. He received an MFA in painting from Savannah College of Art and Design and a BA in printmaking from UNC-Pembroke.
Tara LaPorte is pursuing a degree in Art Education, K-12, with a minor in teaching English as a second language. She grew up with three generations of professional artists.
Candy Marshall has been with the bursar's office at NSCC since June 2007. A native Nashvillian, Candy has been married for 33 years and has a daughter at Lipscomb University.
Amy Mauk is studying web application development at NSCC and works as a SharePoint Developer for an architectural/engineering firm in Nashville.
Tony Meyers is a native Nashvillian and former land developer who went back to school to be a geologist, but after taking a drawing class at NSCC, he is hooked on art.
Ashley Mintz, a student in the music technology program, is originally from Las Cruces, New Mexico. She moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting. She enjoys writing songs, playing piano, and painting.
Chris Noir (Christopher Walton) is a student at NSCC, majoring in psychology with a concentration in art therapy. He is also interested in Asian history, culture, and philosophy.
Flo Paris Oakes, California native, singer/songwriter, novice gardener, and backyard chicken farmer, is an English major at NSCC. She lives in East Nashville with her husband and two daughters.
Elliot Phelps is a graphic design major at NSCC. A Knoxville native, he has lived in Nashville for 6 years. He has donated his art for Artrageous, an annual charity auction supporting Nashville CARES.
Tony Phillips graduated from the Cookeville campus of NSCC with a degree in computer technology. He lives in Kure Beach, North Carolina, and works at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
Madeleine Seage, a senior at the Nashville Big Picture High School, is a part-time student at NSCC. She interns as a puppeteer and plays the viola with the Music City Youth Orchestra. Her passion for visual arts took her to MTSU last summer for the Governor’s School of Arts.
Michele Singletary, Associate Professor of English at NSCC, teaches composition and literature, was co-editor of Think: A Journal of Essays, and co-sponsors the writers’ club, Scribble Therapy. She has two boys.
Jo Smith has worked in the purchasing profession for over 30 years. In 2010 she won first place and magazine cover from the International Photography contest through Beta Sigma Phi.
Sharon Stewart is a student at NSCC.
Katherine Wagner graduated from University School of Nashville and attended Kansas City Art Institute. Now she is a student at NSCC.
Jake Wells received his BFA in Painting from Southeast Missouri State University and his MFA in Painting from Southern Illinois University - Carbondale. An adjunct instructor, he teaches art appreciation.
Jordan Werberg is a student at NSCC.
Sharon Wilson received her BS degree in special education from Austin Peay State University. She is an adjunct instructor at NSCC at the Dickson campus. She loves supernatural suspense novels.
Amelia Zenerino is a native Nashvillian majoring in photography. She enjoys watching horror movies and listening to French jazz.