You and the World

by Sophia Kumin (’13)                             Picture 42
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

with a hard sound
you were rolling out into the black
rolling your fist, you a fleshy thing
you, rounder and newer
and greener

when you were a little older, a little better, a little bluer
you said you wanted to learn everything there was
but then you found
the parts that hurt to know
you wish you hadn’t stumbled upon
the vicious hands, the ache

you didn’t realize pain came in different forms
sometimes blinding and white hot
sometimes creeping up like the night does
sometimes wrapped in echoing laughter
but always with new porous holes to fill

Jupiter is bigger but
Saturn has rings of protection
just like you have
layers you hide under, fragments of shell you glued together

under every rock is something living and that is where
I found you

you are always by yourself
alone in sharp places, all slicing and edges
and you swim between the breaths of strangers
soaking in all the perspiration
not quite standing not quite sinking
and you hear everything
beating between your legs
telling you what you always knew

here is what you knew:
• it was funny at first
• it hurt
• it hurt
• oh god, it hurt
• you didn’t remember

you remembered:
“can I”

hot hands and cold bodies
falling like you were in the black again
crushed and vaporized and sound proof
bitter and something
like a tingling water rushing over your eyes

you said you wanted to know everything but
you never meant it like you mean it now
opening yourself like a scar to the alcoholic sky
bleeding out the things you never said
or meant to say
or meant to think
or never meant at all
and it stings and you can’t decide if it’s good or bad

you thought you would get stronger but it only got worse
the small rocks in your pockets
dragging you and drowning you in
shaded eyes, pretending not to notice
pretending, pretending only gets you so far
far enough away

is it warmer, out there? out by yourself
where you always were
now with a more ringing sense of urgency in your ears
with a more meaty memory
spread out like a skin
blood speckled and drying on the line

your face is imprinted in the moon
an ashy residue coating the stars, lined up in your favorite constellations
you’re a celestial sort of smile in the pitch black
hurtling toward some sort of
some sort of forgiveness you couldn’t attain
in the same place everyone else could

rather, dancing with the minnows
hair caught in your mouth
leaping arms reaching toward the hot heartbeat
fingertips grazing the surface of everything all at once.


by Colin Yap (’16)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

Picture 26

In the middle of the ocean, on a circle of land jutting from the blue haze of sea, lies an island. In the center is a city of glass and steel, resting upon fields of concrete. Vertical shafts of glass and metal extend from the ground like trees in a jungle from center of the city. When you stand from very far away, these buildings look like shiny little beacons. You can see the humans within them, standing at the edges of their little boxed-in-rooms, looking out into the distance.

The ground is covered in shards of glass that falls upon the sidewalks. The buildings rise steadily taller until they reach the center of the city, where a tall needle extends into the sky, the tallest tower in the island, reaching into the sky like a hand towards the sky and whatever heavens may lie there.

In the tallest room of this tallest tower lives a very old man. Let’s call him The Loner.

The Loner is one hundred and ten years old. He lives in the silence of solitude and spends his days staring into the grand old distance. Old distance that never seems to change, the ocean churning constantly. He sits in his wheelchair and waits for someone to arrive.

He is the oldest living human being in the world. The medical experts have forgotten about him. The Book of World Records has forgotten about him. All friends and family he has ever known and chose to love has left. He sits in his solitary tower. He can speak, but only in the gravel sounds he produces from his mouth. No one is high enough in another glass tower to meet his eye and say hello.

Once upon a time he was remembered by those who saw him. No one sees him any more, and no one remembers. He exists only in body and not in the mind of any other living person.

He is set with the unfortunate affliction of waiting. The Loner waits patiently for a knock to come upon his door. For someone to remember he is a person, that he still exists and wishes to continue to exist.

Hopefully, he has lived a short and happy enough life, and has not grown cynical. Maybe, just maybe, he still believes. Believes that love and longing is not a condition coming from not wanting to die alone, but a condition that comes from not wanting to live alone.

Surrounding the city lies the ghettos, resting on the outskirts of the city of glass. Woman lives here. She is a tall and skinny, a thirty year old with two kids crawling up her legs. She chose to have them, and she chose the men with which she had them. Woman never looked their fathers in the eye.

The children are covered in dirt and scabs and scars. They have thick brown hair and white eyes that never cease to look forward, piercing through whatever lies before them. They do not cry.

The houses in the ghettos are made of thick adobe bricks stacked up, one by one, red and brown and hard. The houses are short and squat and sprawl across the land where the glass buildings start to diminish. They extend in every direction, upon and down across the plains until the sandy beach starts. In the morning the men and women who live along the beach, who have thick hair and strong arms, walk from their houses to the sand. They push their boats into the water and spend the day from sun up to sun rise in the water. The sun emerges from the water and sinks into the water. The fishermen drag their boats upon the sand and leave them in the nighttime.

Woman spends her nights weaving a long rug of gold and red and silver colors. It is for the plain rooms of her house, so that she can dress the brown floors with color.  She works as a clothes washer, and runs a Laundromat in the day time. Even the Laundromat is made of earth bricks. Few come to wash their clothes, spending so much time in the dirt.

Woman leaves her kids at the school. Once upon a time at the school a fight broke out between her son and another child. Her son, let’s call him Boy, was called an ill-bred faggot by another boy. The boy who called him that ended up with a broken jaw and two missing teeth.

When she was called into the school, Woman did not apologize, and though she did not speak to him, or encourage him to do the same, her son stood with the same distant disposition.

In an event that may or may not have been related, someone set fire to Woman’s Laundromat that night. It was noted in the police report that the child who Boy had punched in the face was the son of a man who considered himself a local thug. He found Woman’s silence unforgivable.

After the fire ended though, the building still stood. It was stained black with soot, yet still stood. Woman did not cry.

The trains run through the glass city like veins. They stop at the outskirts however. There was a man sleeping at the back of the trains. Let’s call him Man. He was sleeping at the back of the train, collapsed upon the ground, not even on any of the chairs.

He awakes to the sound of the train conductor walking up to him, “are you okay?”

“Yea. I’m fine. I’m fine.”

A light is shined in his eyes, and Man recoils, falling against the ground. In the distance are the steamy buildings and the constant hum, the high pitched squeals and motion that would continue long through the night, into the daylight.

“Alright. This is the last stop. You have to get off here. Trains have stopped running, it’s time to go. Come on, get up.”

In the distance, what Man hears is the red light. If you spent enough time among the outskirts of the glass towers, and you looked hard enough, you would find the district for prostitutes and drugs. No one is ever introduced to it; rather, on some Wednesday night, with nothing better to do but get drunk on cheap Whiskey and stagger around in your best set of work clothing, you find it, and the red light finds you.

In the musk of steam and smoke, among the bamboo doors and wooden buildings, you would find uppers and downers, snakes and loose women and loose men. The village of night is a village of alleyways and neon signs. The buildings could easily catch fire, glazed with sweat and oil, made of bamboo. In the desperation of night, you could find something, anything, something unlike the constant boredom of  night.

Yet, if he could, Man would not head out into the distant glow of the red light. He would follow the dirty paths of the ghetto, guided by the pinprick lights in the sky and the sound of ocean waves nestling into the sand. The air would be cold, and he would be tired, and his legs wouldn’t work, stumbling a little bit as they hit the ground. He would keep on going anyway.

He would walk a long time until he came to the ocean. The sun would start rising. It would be there that he would curl into a ball, lie on his side, and watch the surf foam as sunlight shined through the Eastern sea. It is there that he would lie down with the willingness to die, watching through tired eyes the sea burn up the land and him with it.

This is all if he had not, five minutes later, walked off to the red lights that would never cease to burn in the cold night. It is there that he wants to travel to, if only not to be alone once more.

About Birds

by Avi Hoen (’15)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

Picture 28

The world is stupid.  No it’s not.  Well it kind of is.  It sucks sometimes.  When you’re on top of it, it feels awesome.  Not awesome as in “new pair of shades,” but awesome as in, “a bird just gave birth to an elephant.”  That kind of awesome.  But it’s only “elephant-birthing awesome” some days.  Most days, it’s “bird birthing cockroach” awesome.  Not very awesome.

Today the world birthed a bird and that bird birthed another bird so it isn’t very special today.  There are a lot of birds being birthed in the world.  Some birds are awesome and some birds just shit on your car.  A year is like birds.  Each day is an egg.  From each egg you don’t know what kind of bird is going to hatch.  Today could be a “white-throated kingfisher” day, or today’s egg could be scrambled and stuck to the frying pan.  As I said you never know what kind of day it will be.

Birds live on the world, usually they don’t live on top of.  Birds get the short end of the feather.  But know that some bird out there had an amazing day.  Be sure to know it had a great time eating berries and shitting on your car.  The world is full of chain reactions like this.  Bird eats.  Bird shits.  Shit on you.  Bird is happy.  You feel like shit.  You shit on someone.  You feel happy.  Someone feels like shit.  The world is one happy piece of crap.  Get used to it.

I got used to this bird eat bird world when I was little.  I always knew I was an insignificant little red berry, soon to make it into a bigger birds stomach.  Maybe that bird would be Big Bird.  Big Bird taught me the world.  Elmo has one messed up world.  I hope a bird shits on Mr. Noodle.  I take that back, I didn’t watch much TV as a child, probably because most kids shows were like that.  A three-year-old shouldn’t be filling their head with singing cloth puppets.  A three-year-old should be filling their minds with enlightening thoughts, such as Icarus and how trying to be something you’re not is just a stupid waste of time because we are all gonna die and melt away when we get to close to reality.  Sorry, those would be horrible thoughts for a toddler.  Maybe they should keep their minds on T.V. and birds.

When I was little I had a bird feeder.  It hung from the tree.  Then one night a raccoon came and ate all the bird seed.  As I said, birds always get the short end of the branch.  It’s the circle of life though.  Actually it isn’t.  Hardware Store Brand bird seed has no place in something as significant as life.  Except it does.  I eat food from a grocery store too.  I do not partake in the natural circle of things.  Therefor I am a bird.

Life sucks for birds, some days.  Life sucks for me, some days.  It depends what kind of eggs I buy at the grocery store.  Free-Range, Organic, Cage Free.  Life is full of options.  I also have the option of buying the Caged eggs.  Funny how they don’t specify on those packages that the chicken never saw the outside light.  Of course when I shop at the Costco I have all these options and more, but the assumption is made that I am going to feed the entire flock with 18 dozen eggs.  That probably stems to the idea of cannibalism.  It would be a bad idea to feed eggs to birds.  I feel bad for chickens, their young is always sold off, and what isn’t eaten by the humans is given to the pigeons who don’t know what they are eating.  Pigeons truly are “chicken-brained,” I don’t blame them for being content with their stupidity, I wouldn’t want to know if I was eating monkey fetus.  Makes it seem like pigeons have a pretty good life.

Maybe I’m a pigeon and I can peck morsels of Doritos from the sidewalk cracks.  No roses, just chips.  Did you hear about the pigeon that grew from the crack in the concrete.  You probably didn’t because it didn’t actually happen.

A lot of things in life don’t actually happen.  In fact most of the world doesn’t actually happen.  It’s a whole sea of thought, full of fish getting eaten by birds.  What actually happens is just bird shit.  Damn.  Oceans seem pretty bleak now.  I’m sorry for blowing your mind in depressing amazement.

I read some bad rhyming poetry in a book that went “A geek with a beak will have a life that is bleak, don’t be a geek and speak what you think.”  I never actually read that.  I don’t need to cite a source.  Birds probably don’t use quotes, or MLA 7 or APA, or EasyBib.  If I am a bird I can sing my own songs, that I make up in my bird brain and sing them from the branches of the world.  No citation needed.  Unless… do mockingbirds cite what they sing.  No, they probably don’t.  The way they find love is a whole lot of bird shit.  The way people find love is pretty stupid too.  As I said earlier, I am a bird, therefore people are birds, and the world makes the same amount of sense as a fresh splatter of bird shit on the sidewalk.

Birds should probably be recognized because they are related to dinosaur ancestors.  Which is pretty cool.  That’s only if you like dinosaurs.  When I was little I told people Rumpelstiltskin was my great-grandfather.  No one believed me.  I didn’t believe me.  A bird might have trusted my statement for a minute, but even a bird brain is smarter than a  lie.  Besides, birds are related to dinosaurs, that has to count for something.

OK, it probably doesn’t count for much.  I mean, look at how we treat dinosaurs.   When we find a dead one we display it, and when we find a decomposed one, we drive cars.  It might be a double standard.  One day, birds will be the source of petroleum gasoline, and also petroleum jelly.

You know what’s crazy, is that during the oil spill, the birds ancestors, the dinosaurs, killed the birds with their decomposed fossil fuel!  Talk about a great way to avenge your death.  So I guess having dinosaur ancestors is a double-edged sword.

My guess is that birds have a hate-love relationship with swords.  Actually, they probably just hate them.  Swords are only good to kill birds, birds would need opposable thumbs to use them properly.  Video games lie.

As Peter Griffin agrees, “the bird is the word.”  I’m not sure if this has any relevancy to birds and the world, but words are also the world.  Words are the sword that the birds can’t use.  Blue Jays can’t say great words like “hootenanny,” “cautious” or my personal favorite “cooties.”  Despite birds not speaking words, they communicate in their ways.  This enables them to be functional members of society.  Just like you and me.  In fact, I would go so far to say that they are more functional in society then the average human being.  After all, they understand the defiance of gravity.  And if life has taught me anything it’s that gravity brings you down.  Unless you are on the moon.

Scratch that, birds don’t teach us diddly-shit, except what shit is.  WAIT! So, basically if the world is shitty, and birds are the all-mighty creators of shit, then technically speaking birds are god. HOLY SHIT!


by Justus Honda (’15)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

rumbling bustle in a café at 7 o’clock in the evening,
cardboard cups and porcelain mugs click and tap on marble
tables, drawling voices reverberate off dimly lit walls.
silent people filter through.
someone walks in with music under their hat and
oceansound in their pocket. everyone, it seems, has simple
unapparent secrets. out of sight a slightly damp coatpocket
carries a tiny conch, tarnishcolored with the cacophony of
the sea in its spiral inside.
watches tick voices mingle automobiles buzz and groan
newspapers and magazines rattle cellphones whine and in
the everpresent din in the pocket of an unnamed passerby is
a tarnishcolored conch, intricate mazework innards infused
with oceansound, projecting the memory of the turbulent
people breathe and cough. the espresso machine sighs.
coffee is acidic and bitter going down but is never
regretted. far off a wave crashes but no one hears.