I Want to Make Art, Not Cry with Potato Chips

Picture 89by Molly Bond (’15)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

My writing practice generally consists of deadlines and feelings. Because I am a creative writing student, I write the majority of my pieces as an assignment, which tends to be more difficult because given prompts do not always provide the inspiration necessary to write what I consider to be a “successful” piece. Sometimes, though, a prompt will awaken a feeling inside me, and I find the writing to be easy and fruitful, similar to the way I write on my own, when I am free of deadlines and prompts.

Independent writing only takes place when I already have an inspiration. In this way, it is easier to begin writing, but because there is no deadline, I find it harder to finish the piece. Naturally, assignments are a higher priority to me, because grades are constantly on my mind—so my independent writing suffers from procrastination and many of my non-assignment pieces are unfinished. When I do finish these self-motivated pieces, however, I am almost always happier with the result because there is a definite “feeling” in the writing, because I wrote it with inspiration, not with the stress of a due date.

Strangely, my most “successful” pieces have been written in very short amounts of time. My favorite poem was written in under fifteen minutes, although it is three pages long. I suspect this is because my writing is so centered in emotion that in order to express the piece, I need to use a stream-of-consciousness method which can only come with speed and a lack of self-censorship. My worst pieces are generally those that I have needed to edit countless times, sometimes completely overthrowing the plot or changing a character’s motivations entirely, trying desperately to get it to work. It is the effortlessness of the pieces that make them successful.

Process aside, what I truly want to make is writing that makes other people want to write. I believe that art is a self-perpetuating medium; good art causes inspiration, which causes more art to be created. If a piece of mine were to cause inspiration in another artist, and the inspired artist’s work caused inspiration in yet another artist, I would be the instigator of a never-ending art cycle, and how cool is that? Not many people would disagree with me that art is extremely powerful, and extremely important. It connects directly to people’s emotions, and emotions are generally what decisions are based off of. This is why art has changed the world. This is why I want to create art, both directly and indirectly.

My biggest obstacles by far are self-hatred, guilt, and self-censorship—and to a lesser extent, teenage laziness. In order to write something that actually expresses what I am feeling, I need to allow myself to actually feel it, without compulsively back-spacing every time I think I’ve made a cliché. This goes hand-in-hand with guilt, because every time I fail at writing a piece, I feel guilty that I have failed myself, and hate myself for my lack of talent. At this point, on the verge of tears and having accomplished nothing, the inevitable “screw this” pops into my head and I go and eat potato chips while crying over the fact that I don’t write like E.E. Cummings. Thankfully, though, that insatiable urge to write will inevitably wash over me again, and through trial-and-error I will eventually manage to crank out a piece of writing I find tolerable.

Setting the Mood

Picture 88by Amelia Williams (’13)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

I’m too lenient with my first drafts; I like my first drafts. (That opening sentence was a first draft; the semicolon was a later edit. I quite like it.) I churn something out, because I write in sittings. I am rarely stringing little scribbles and images and soliloquies together that I’ve accumulated throughout the day; it all just kind of comes out at once. I am a big fan of semicolons. But anyhow, I write in bursts. I write like turning the hot water faucet all the way and for those forty-five seconds the water is still cold. And I like how that aggravatingly long period of not-hot water looks, scrawled out on a page.

I write by hand. I hate beginning something on the computer. It has no anchor, nothing tangible, no soil for all the following thoughts and (hopefully?) eloquent metaphors and musings to grow from. I like the feeling of my hand cramping and scribbling things out because I’ve written it too messily, in haste.  Perhaps I lied a bit when I said I write in bursts because I do take breaks. Maybe too many breaks. I like to do other things, other assignments or stretch my hamstrings or bob my head to crude rap lyrics. I really like crude rap lyrics. I also like snacks. I had dark chocolate-covered acai berries before I sat down to write this. I like the lingering taste, but now my mouth tastes like medicine. Like I said, breaks.

I need a trigger. I imagine, at least when I am writing poetry, that the poem is some kind of changeling companioned by a feral, blazing dog-like animal. I actually don’t really think that but it came to mind and I wanted to write it out. Too forgiving of first drafts (a word from my teacher Heather, that is actually some other woman’s quote but I’ve forgotten her name (sorry) “all first drafts are shitty first drafts. Am I a narcissist to think my first drafts hold merit? I am probably just a last editor.). Really though I like my poetry to have a bite. I like my poems to be something a reader keeps around the living room of his or her brain, like something lovely on the mantelpiece or a nice pillow. Fiction is like a slow-burning candle of immersion and something a little dangerous. I find myself writing longer and longer pieces the older I get. I am not entirely sure if that means anything at all.

Ultimately I try to write like I am talking to myself. If I had to impress myself, on a page or from the mouth, I would like to be entertained, and intellectually aroused, and perhaps a bit inspired. I try to sound smarter than I actually am (a big perk to writing is having the time to craft the perfect seemingly spontaneous banter that I am nowhere near as adept at in person). I really hadn’t put all that much thought into the process because it works like a muscle now; I want to write and I just do. I write to convince people to keep reading, to intrigue people into the mysterious caravan of my mind. I want people to read what I have to offer and, to be quite honest, decide I am worthy of fame. I don’t think I write to be famous, though. I write as if I already am. That is quite possibly the most atrocious sentence I have ever spelled out but there is truth to it in the sense I write to the audience I hope to have one day. I remind myself every word is a practice for grandeur.

The bottom line is I write until I am happy enough to believe that if I saw my own writing in a bookstore, I would read until I creased the spine and looked around to make sure none of the employees saw me putting it back on the shelf.


Picture 50by Frances Saux (’14)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

There’s a night I keep thinking about. It was years ago, so long ago I feel like I shouldn’t remember it as well as I do. That’s what’s strange about this story. Sometimes, during the slow parts of my shift at work, I close my eyes and I relive this night in my head, moment to moment, feeling the wind, not just the memory of the wind but the real, centuries-old wind that touched the back of my neck all that time ago. I mean I can really remember it like that. But maybe I should tell you that it only feels this clear because I haven’t changed much since that night. Proof is at work, when I’m daydreaming about it, my chest starts hurting. It feels a lot like looking in the mirror. Just so you know.

The story is this:

Back in high school, at a party, some kids locked me out while I was standing on the front steps. I’d just gone outside for a second, for some air. They crept up behind me and slammed the door before I could say anything. Then they shifted the bolt into place. For a while I just kept pushing and pulling the doorknob. A part of me hoped that the door had locked on accident. It just feels so terrible inside. After a minute, they spread the curtains and looked at me through the window, laughing into their hands like they couldn’t believe me. I thought of yelling at them. I thought I’d scare them into opening up, loving me.

They were not that kind of kid. I was not that kind of kid. Soon I felt myself starting to cry. I let go of the doorknob and turned around. I didn’t want them to see.

They’d locked someone else out too. He sat on the front steps, staring at his hands. I could see that his eyes were dry, but dry in that painful way where I knew he’d gotten so used to crying that he’d learned to cry a different way. We weren’t friends but I’d always felt okay around him. I knew we were similar in these kinds of way. For example, I knew he wasn’t going to college in the fall, either.

He looked up at me. “Well, we’d better walk to keep warm.”

There was a field behind the house, and we walked through it in silence. Instead of talking I pretended I was somewhere else. I don’t know where exactly. Just someplace different. I thought of how I was wearing a nice, white dress. Normally I didn’t wear dresses, but today I had. This hurt.

When we’d wandered deep into the field, he stopped walking.

“What?” I asked.

“Be quiet.”

“What is it?”

He pointed to something. I looked. It was a skunk. Then I saw another skunk. Then I saw skunks everywhere, like a chain reaction of sight. The whole field had filled with skunks. They’d come out at some point and we hadn’t realized. We both stood there, frozen. They crept around. It was too dark to really see them but we could hear them rustling the grass. We could find the white stripes, circling us like eels. We were scared.

“I can’t get sprayed,” he said.

“Me neither.”

We meant it. There was dignity involved. If you haven’t figured out, we were the kind of kids that didn’t have extra dignity to spare. I bet you that some of those people from the party would have run across the field naked, like into a dense cloud of spray, and it’d have been a funny story later. You’ve got to understand that wasn’t us at all. We didn’t have that luxury. To us it felt like we were in real, honest danger. They were everywhere.

“What do we do?” he said. He spoke softly, like he worried that the animals might overhear.

I didn’t know. I could see one of their snouts, sniffing ground near my leg, which started shaking from the effort it took not to move.

There was a tractor sort of nearby. I mean sort of because it was still distant enough to look small. But at least it was closer than the house. I pointed.

“If we can get there.”


We moved towards it, holding hands and stepping only on the tips of our feet, and only on the places that looked unmistakably like dirt and not fur. But I could feel them moving as we moved. It made my legs shake until I thought I’d collapse. He, too, looked unstable. Halfway there, we developed this informal strategy for moving. Instead of looking at the ground, we looked at the tractor, finding places to put our feet through instinct instead of vision. It sounds like it wouldn’t work, but somehow this got us there. After a long time, we reached the tractor. We both sighed. I climbed up the steps and into the driver’s seat. He sat in the passenger seat next to me. We closed the doors and I held the door handle tight for a second, like I thought they’d try to come barging through.

I let go.

“What are we going to do?” I asked, my breath slowing down. “Do you think they’ll go away soon?”

“No,” he said. “We might be stuck here all night.”

It was cold. In the distance I could see rectangular lights, the windows of the house. They looked so solid. I wished they were the kind of thing I could have picked up and held to my chest. I said, quietly, “I hate this. I hate those bastards.”


“I don’t know. All of them.”

“You mean the skunks?”

That wasn’t what I’d meant, but once he said it, I understood he wasn’t going to acknowledge the thing that had happened with getting locked out. It makes sense. It reminds me of something people say about the guy who pushes the rock up the hill, like how if he decides he wants to keep pushing the rocks up the hill, if he makes that choice, then he is no longer trapped by his circumstances.

So I said yes. I said I hated those bastard skunks.

He looked at the house.

“Me too.”

Suddenly we had the same idea at the same time. We didn’t even look at each other, we just knew. I knew he knew because he sat up a little straighter. There was blood in my mouth from chewing my lip.

I felt around the tractor. Someone had left the key in there. When I turned it, the whole thing shook awake, less like a car than I’d expected, more like an animal. I tried the gas a bit, and we grunted forward. For some reason, with him sitting next to me, it didn’t feel like driving at all. What I mean is it didn’t feel like there was any sort of boundary between us and the world, sort of like we were the tractor, and like the tractor was a living thing. I pressed on the gas fast.

I said, “Tell me where you see them.”

He put his hands and forehead against the windshield, scanning the ground. Then he pointed. “There’s one. There.”

I chased it down. I could barely see it but my senses kicked in, tracking its movements the way a predator might, noticing even the smallest things like the shapes its muscles made, the little temporary bulges in its arms and legs and neck. We got right up close to it, so close that we couldn’t see it anymore. There’s was a moment of silence. Then we heard it crunch.

You’ve got to understand about that crunch. It marked the beginning of something different, something powerful. I tried to say something but my mouth didn’t feel human. I couldn’t talk but I could bare my teeth. He was grinning too, beside me. I swear I could see his heart moving up and down in his chest. Exhilarating.

Together we chased down all the skunks. We slaughtered them. I think of the crunching sound a lot. It’s a sound like something was chewing on the skunks, the most painful sound you could imagine. You know that thing where you hear your name called on the street, but no one’s there when you turn around? Well, instead of that, all the time, I hear this crunch. I hear it all the time. Don’t ask me what it’s like.

We chased anything that moved. It got to the point where we’d gotten all the skunks, or they’d all run away. Now we were just chasing the wind through the grass and we knew it.

But we felt so grand.

We didn’t talk about this later, we couldn’t. It got too hard. After that night, everything we’d both hated still remained unharmed. I could hear people in the hallways at school talking about the massacre they’d found on the field the next morning, rubble of guts thick enough to keep the grass lying flat against the earth. I didn’t see it but from what I heard, it was one of those sights.

But here’s the thing that makes this story difficult to tell. After that one moment of power, in the tractor, everything went back to how it had been before. For a few minutes I thought I’d leave a legacy on this town. I even maybe thought that years from now, people would be talking about what had happened to the skunks. But everyone forgot and I was still hopeless. Not hopeless. What are the words they used? Directionless. Unmotivated. No-good. A few months later we all graduated. I stayed around and watched as the whole town shrunk a size. That was about it. I wondered about that boy sometimes. I kept remembering:

After killing the skunks we’d fallen asleep together in his driveway. We’d parked the tractor and walked all the way back through the field, taking our time because now it felt like our field. When we got to his driveway we got preoccupied with looking at the stars, and somehow we just dozed off there, our arms touching.

Once, I think, I walked past his parent’s house to see if he was still living there. He wasn’t. He had left, escaped the town while he could. Smart kid.

Do you see yet why this story makes me sad? I haven’t really left the town since then. Look at my job. I’ve had it forever because after a while you get too worn out to really move. It’s the heat, I think. It sticks you in one place. Sometimes the only way I move all day is tapping my fingers against the cash register, pretending I can play the drums.

Interesting thing about drums, actually. I had this dream that I played drums for some famous band, except in the dream the band was only me, and he was the only one in all the audience. I started playing, but the tips of my drumsticks looked like hooves, and the wood became part of my arms, so instead of drumming I felt like I was running across the earth, changing from a person into something else, into a god with an animal’s body. I felt horns in my head, sweat as fur, all that.

He, too, was changing. He ripped off his shirt and gave a triumphant roar. Then he bent down and bit the edge of the stage. I grinned. We were reunited, us mighty beasts.

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.

How to Write (the Inconvenient Way)

by Olivia Weaver (’16)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

Picture 33

There is no way to write. It happens. Usually, at the most inconvenient of times. Perhaps you are listening to your classmates do speed-reads as you prepare for your show that’s on tomorrow and some hidden dam breaks inside of your head and the words are flowing. You’d like to go and get your writer’s journal, but you’re on next to stage and cue and you have to swallow down all the inspiration and wonder. Words wait for no man.

This is usually how I write. Something happens, maybe someone was particularly witty or I saw something touching, and lines form in my head. They jostle around and mix and swirl, and I do my best to remember them and write them down when I get the chance. I often forget them.

If I know I have a writing assignment due very soon, I read something, or take a walk, or listen to music. I have authors I know will quicken my brain, and there’s a ridiculously large park near my home that I spend a lot of time in. My muse is sought out, poked, prodded, and otherwise bothered until it grudgingly allows me something that might be acceptable. This is how the worst of my poetry is created.

On the rare and delightfully frustrating occasions in which the Muse is ready to work and I am not preoccupied with anything altogether urgent, I find that my hand will not write down anything fast enough. Even now, I am having difficulty putting feelings down on keyboard. But this is also probably because something in my room is on fire and it’s very distracting.

What I’d like to do about writing is simply do it more. I don’t believe that I write enough. I used to feel awfully guilty about this, but I’ve come to be a professional at making excuses and making myself feel better. Sometime I write on the bus; it’s very charming. People think I’m strange or artsy. It’s really just because I haven’t got time anywhere else.

Well, of course I have time, but nobody has time for having time anymore. Why would I write when I could take a shower? I need to sleep, and eat and finish my homework, and take the trash out and also call whatsherface about that thing that happened on Friday. And Christ, I’m not going to be a stereotypical writer and not go out with friends, because we’re going to have a Star Wars marathon and I’ve never seen all the movies completely and I know I never will if I don’t get it done soon.

I should also probably sand my bookshelf and paint it, because at the moment it’s the only piece of furniture in my room that isn’t a dark color. Except for that dresser-thing, but that’s going out as soon as I transfer everything from the top of it to that new desk I got, which has a really scratched up surface but that’s alright because it was free, I think.

Not to mention, tomorrow is Monday and I haven’t picked an outfit. I’d probably end up wearing all black because that’s what I have the most of, but I haven’t done laundry in way too long. Which reminds me…

You probably get the picture. I have a distractable nature, especially when I’m under pressure. It’s a gift, I’d like think. I never stay down for very long.

Something else I’d like to do about my writing? Besides more of it? Well, I certainly wish it was better, but that would require something undiscovered. I’ve certainly come a long way from when I first applied to the Creative Writing program here. I wrote poems that rhymed and my short stories were meandering and plot less. I believed that poetry could just be a jumble of words that sounded cool that people didn’t use very often and brought together and image. I didn’t really attribute writing to producing physical reactions, or emotional, or mental, for that matter. I was blissfully insensitive. I thought I knew what I was doing.

I know now that writing is all about recognition. It’s about someone explaining your feeling to you better than you ever could. It’s pulling something out of you didn’t know was there. As a writer I’m a magician. As an eight grader starting off I was the kind of fool who got his magic kit mail order, waving his plastic baton with a towel tied over his shoulders like a cape.

I still don’t think I have any idea what I’m doing. But that’s better, I think, than wrongly thinking I’m doing it right.

God Has Left the Building

by Giorgia Peckman (’14)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

“And that’s what I saw when I looked out the window that day. All these words were living.” — Eileen Myles

Picture 31

Frances said, “I want to be God/Bring me good news.” That is the role I possess, desire and aspire to as a writer— possibly not even that, merely just one who makes writing. Call me a heretic, praise me so: I want to be a god. I want to take myself and by extension you, the reader, the apostle, disciple, preacher, pray-er, somewhere else. I want to write about all the good in us, and how painful and grotesque it is in the fact that it is so singular and so beautiful and at the same time it is universal and renders all who breathe these “living words” un-unique.

That is the problem I face in making writing: it is impossible to be the kind of god I want to be— possibly because we are all gods in our own right and possibly because none of us are. God has left the building and we are left here to pick up the pieces and dissect them with the blunt knives we call words. They are not enough. I want to live outside.

I want to fill pages that are the equivalent of screaming very loud in the middle of a lot of wind with your hair flying into your mouth and trying to choke you. But oh, my voice is so hoarse. I was born hoarse, never quite loud enough. We all are— disgusting, coughing mess of a species, of a mind, of a thought.

The problem with ruling an empire, as gods tend to do, is that everything is alive, in its own context, not just the one we perceive it in, that we use to write about it— and the harder you try to present living things as they are, the father away you keep yourself from doing so. Only when you stop trying to be literal, factual, honest, do you produce something that is any of these things. When you’re telling the truth you always end up lying a little, but when you know you’re lying…well, things end up being a lot more honest than you expect. You end up clutching little morsels of truths in your palms and think, maybe even exclaim to whoever is keeping you company today, “What is this! This is true! But I swear I was lying through my teeth!” That is how all good writing is written— by lying and finding something true at the end of that fishing line of fallacy.

I want to write about the things that are stuck inside of everything and everyone and I want to make the things, the living words maybe, that live in veins beside the platelets, into things everyone can hold and see and love. Everyone wants to be loved, even gods, even me (especially gods, especially me). It seems that I hope in some way that in presenting what they hate to them, like a cat returning prey to its people, they will love it, and by extension me, for bringing it, mangled and dripping blood, to their doorstep.

But I can only do this a little bit, just like you can only see in the dark a little bit, or when you smash a bug it only dies a little bit, and keeps moving across your coffee table. You can only make things that don’t exist, or no longer exist, into things that do exist, in the here and now and present tense, a little bit. You can only do this a little bit, because no one is all god, everyone is just a little bit of god.

The thing about writing is that you always have to be slightly uncomfortable, a bit ill at ease with the world. This trait is found in many forms in nearly all writers I have met. For me, it’s like wearing a dress. I hate wearing dresses and on the days I decide to for some reason unbeknownst to my better judgment wear a dress, I feel like I am constantly writing a poem, convinced the world is out to get me and that more importantly, that I deserve it. None of this is true, of course, or it is mostly untrue. What is true about it is that I am constantly writing a poem. Being a writer is not so much about the fact of writing as it is about a state of being, a state of constantly swimming through the living words that clog up the air. The fact of the matter is that everything that is ever going to be written is already written, it just hasn’t been put on paper yet. When I truly make a piece of writing, I do not feel as if I have just created something, I feel as if something that has existed in the ether of the places in people that no one can reach has moved through me and now resides on the paper. Writing is tampering with forces of the mind, a weird amalgamation of godliness and collective consciousness that uses people as a vessel of meaning, not the other way around.

A lot of the writing I do is merely an exercise in articulation and discipline: preparation for the living words to travel through me. Training me as a preacher and maker of words, which brings me back to the ultimate trial and tribulation: I am no god nor will I ever be, and all I do is a Sisyphian attempt. Yet, it’s the attempt I truly love, not the ultimate goal. I only covet the good and try to render it so because it must be solidified into lights we can hold in the dark, amongst the bloody, messy mass of weakness and tissue we surround ourselves in. If I were the type to pray to something other than my own volition, I would pray to words, all of them, all of the living words, alive and well.


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 Luca Foggini (’16)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

One fine morning in the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, a small blue speck swirled with all the bearings of life. It had on it that elusive combination of hydrogen and oxygen, one that brought about the stirrings of protoplasmic sea-life, spineless, half-alive sludge that was scraped off the sea-floor by the ever so gentle roiling of waves. On  February 15th in what would later be called the Mediterranean, George, an early ancestor of the mud skipper, tentatively walked onto dry-land, wading into tide pools to keep himself moist. His brain was the size of a speck of sand and his thoughts rung out in broken syllables: Must…dry…dry…must.

His family, Mary, Millie, and George Jr. waited near the verge of the ocean, where water met shore, with heads poked out with expectance. They gurgled in unison. Hulking, transparent invertebrates float behind them as bottom feeders scoured the sand below.

George was the first mud skipper to ever leave the water, his unadapted fins slowly dragging him along. He would have shriveled up if it hadn’t have been for a gentle rainfall that provided a puddle for him to stay in for a while. The puddle was enough to provide comfort and he looked above through the mirrored surface of the puddle to see many other mud skippers shuffling out on feet unfit for land. George squeezed out a stifled thought: Happy…sleepy…dream.

George slept and he dreamt.

George awoke again. He coughed on brackish water, smelling the peat and muddy miasma of a bog. Then he realized with quite a start that he could no longer breath. He gulped down water, choked on it, and felt a burning sensation in his gills. They were no longer gills though, they were something else. And their need for oxygen initiated in a survival instinct in him that made him kick his way to the surface. Breathing in air for the first time was just as much of a trauma as realizing he couldn’t breath water. It felt cold and fresh, as water felt when he could breath, but different this time, without the substance that water had. Crawling onto land by grabbing on a tuft of cattails, he had another realization: his fins. They were no longer fins, but had rather splayed out, with fur and five long appendages. After crawling onto land, he realized that he had legs too that awkwardly carried him along. His balance was completely off and he waggled unsteadily for a while, slowly acclimating to his new form as his ears rung uncontrollably, picking up on the guffaws of jungle life. His thoughts were a cavalcade of questions, slightly more well-formed than before but still plodding. George ventured forth on his wobbling legs, feeling the scrubby grass and ferns that were scattered on the jungle floor. He noticed a puddle and looking down into it, could see the reflection of his face. He recoiled back from the puddle, horrified from his appearance. A rustle of branches called his attention to several creatures that looked like him, swinging across the branches, and he beckoned them with a harsh, grating cry. They turned to him attentively and swung down by his side. He spoke to them with a prior knowledge that was not his. Where…am…I? The creatures consulted each other with inquisitive gazes before responding to him, You…are…home. George search through his cluttered mind for another query, What…am…I? The creatures considered the question and answered, You…are…one…of…us. They looked him over and said, Follow…us. George followed them close behind, grasping the tree that they were climbing up uneasily, losing his grip for a few seconds and then quickly regaining it. He reached the top where he was greeted with apprehension from many eyes that pierced the shadow with their gleam. They spoke in many foreign tongues, feeling his fur as he walked past them. One of the creature offered him food, an orange, sticky substance. He ate it and showed satisfaction out of courtesy to the elder who smiled briskly in the dusking light. The creatures lost the interest they had before and ambled to their respective sleeping places, settling down into their soft beds. The elder offered him a spot to sleep and George accepted gratefully. He lay down on his bed. His mind was too feeble to wrap around the strangeness of his experience. It was merely an afterthought, one that he forgot the minute he closed his eyes.

George awoke again looking up at a pulsating, pink membrane. He heard a whooshing sound, one that filled his ears. He raised his hands, or tried to raise them because it was a great effort. They were limp and leaden and fell again at his side. His eyes were ineffectual. He could not open his eyelids and could only see because his eyelids were so thin they were transparent. He heard the beating of a great heart, one that reverberated against the walls of his great, pink room. The repetition was soothing and as he listened to it, he fell asleep.

Instinctively, he looked to see if he was different when he awoke. He could not see anymore, his eyelids tightly pressed together and impossible to open. George heard noises, the steady unchanging beat of a heart, and another noise. He realized he could open his eyes again and he observed his surroundings, basking in the warmth of the pink room. Suddenly, light blinded him from all direction. George screamed, as it was freezing cold outside of his pink, pulsating domicile. He was being wrapped in something soft and he felt the feeling of movement as he was moved to another place and held in somebody’s hands. He was moved again to a warmer place and dozed immediately.

Time passed, cartilage ossified, teeth grew, the first tentative toddler steps were taken, and soon enough George was walking. His intelligence expanded as he saw everything with new eyes and a fresh mind. He learned the alphabet, the multiplication tables, algebra, history, language arts, cursive, reading, new languages, calculus, and then he was released. Childhood was over and he stood after graduation, frock and mortarboard held in hand. This was the junction of life where you left the pettiness of college problems and moved on to real, adult ones. Your way was no longer paved. You had to make it on your own. Beyond George was the ocean, just beyond the vertiginous sea cliffs. He looked at it and it sparked something long gone in his head. He thought for a moment and didn’t care to remember whatever it might have been that he had forgotten.

Excerpt from “English”

by Olivia Alegria (’14)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

“When one has reached the highest possible level of excellence, there is a ceiling that keeps him or her from rising up so far that he or she does not float away entirely. Absolute possible perfection is a hotly debated concept, but most parties have agreed that it is nearly impossible to achieve, as proven by the multitudes of people who have obviously left large amounts of potential energy dangling in the ether. It is a little-known fact that Benjamin Franklin developed the first machine whose purpose was to measure the potential energy carried by the possibilities of a singular human being. It is widely considered to have been an unsuccessful model, yet it can be said that there is no possible way of proving its results to be inaccurate.”

“There are two men in front of me on the bus talking about music and art. It would be nice if I were able to talk about such sophisticated things. I’ve always thought I must have the mental capacity for it—I am intelligent enough, I just need to know how to tell good art from bad. I also need to make enough money to buy the art, ha ha. But I feel like I could get somewhere, like I could understand something important that I’ve felt for such a long time, something inside of me. It’s such a strange thing to know some way out, but not know it. I don’t want to stop thinking today, because I believe in luck and I think I’m in the middle of a mental domino trick that spirals in to the big Thing I must understand. I am going to my friend’s farm from college. I am on a Greyhound bus. I can’t stop thinking or else it will go away. It will make me so happy I won’t have to worry about romance or money or other things I want. I will be whole and uncorrupted, and I will be fine with myself, and I will know the right way. I mean this is optimistic obviously, I don’t know how anything could possibly work out, and obviously looking at the circumstances I am probably wrong, but I am a hopeful person. The guys in front of me are still talking about art—such stamina! I think art goes well with wine. I will take a wine-tasting class someday, so I can appreciate it fully. Apparently, with the right training, you can taste whole other worlds in things like wine: spring orchards and lemongrass and maybe even some meat dishes. Maybe I will teach a wine-tasting class someday. The woman walking down the aisle to the toilet at the back of the bus has callused feet, which I can see because she has taken off her shoes. Maybe she is a tired saleswoman, and she is having an affair, and she is truly in love though she will not admit it to herself that her life could be so complicated, yet so hopeful. I think I would like to be a good judge of character.”