Guns, Drugs, Homos

By: Sarah Adams
my last day in prague i am convinced
i can find the perfect souvenirs,
more than magnets or postcards,
so i plunge into the soft underbelly
of the city where tourists burrow,
search storefronts for the gifts
i have yet to see, two hours and
counting on inspiration to strike;
for days i have played the part
of czech so well that a woman
asks me for nasměrováni*
—i must seem
like i belong, even though i wander
lost as she, in ways a map
can’t solve
at some point in the whirlwind
of acculturation, i have lost track of
myself and nothing feels right—
no skin, no label, stripped down
i ghost, genderless, senseless,
wondering when the next
revelation will strike, or if there
is even anything left to discover;
perhaps i reached the apex days ago
and missed my chance to understand—
two roads diverged and i took
the wrong one, perhaps a window
closed that footsteps cannot recover,
a turnaround that backtracking
cannot resolve
now i am fed the lines of tourist,
role i have refused for weeks,
scarlet stain of foreigner foams
in my mouth, flares in my ears
as shopkeepers speak my mother
tongue, my mind mutters failure, for
they recognize me, my disguise
crumbles and with each breath
a breeze brushes away
the mask i have constructed:
underneath, stark american as
apple pie, confirming all the clichés
i have tried to sugarcoat
or dissolve
one clerk intent on conversation
sees the dress, the souvenir
i grip, english his best guess,
acts surprised i am single, not shopping
for a boyfriend—attempt at
compliment across cultural lines,
though děkuji**
doesn’t come
to mind—canada? america?
oh, america, a mess right now—and
i must agree, for before i left
questions of collusion led headlines,
incompetence, the horror of this
president, what will he do next,
and shootings, every month a new day
of the dead where we gather bodies
for photoshoots and names for
obituaries, each vying for veneration,
title of most tragic loss, while others
die from heroin, opioids, addiction
undermined, brushed off as
wrong move, permanent punishment,
system collapsing because of
people who say nothing
america a mess,
and then his accent
shapes a list:
guns, drugs, homos
i make a list of my own:
my hands full of souvenirs
cannot afford altercation,
i must get back to the hotel soon,
this is his culture and i am
the outlier, an odd dot can’t change
a mind in its second language,
and it is fine to be silent because
to speak would be self-defense
and i did not come here for this,
did not come here to engage
in the personal that is political
stone silent, i return statue
to shelf and slip from shop
without a na shledanou***—
this my statement, my stand
that says nothing except
coward who hid behind
culture as an excuse.
*Czech for directions
**Czech for thank you
***Czech for goodbye

***
sarah adams is a senior History and English Literature major who
enjoys photography and writing. Sarah usually prefers to photograph inanimate
objects, but did branch out and photograph a pair of geese the other
day. Sarah’s other favortie pastimes include making awful puns, voluntarily
going to the movies alone, and watching bad recorder covers on YouTube.

Advertisements

02809

By: Amy Jarvis

This is not where I’m from, it is
a retelling, written in the absence of where home once was
I pull the tide close to my chest,
rhythm of washing things clean right outside my bedroom
window
Stories here all have the sea as a metaphor for self,
a place made for
release & not rebirth
I am not a traveler,
I invented walking here & yet
the peninsula drowns me in my skin,
unsettled in my chest
& I come back to a place I refuse to be put to rest in
& I do not pass through, here are my roots, embedded
in sea & salt & sky
I now stand north of the current & watch it climb up to the
shore
One day I’d like to leave here & never come back but
the tide calls me in a fever dream leaving messages for a
version of me
washed away by something that promised to just make me clean
& I have seen the light
calling out to people who will never return to it,
shore becomes sea becomes storm
I don’t look upward for heaven anymore
I see God in the tide coming in

***
amy jarvis is a first year Creative Writing major from Rhode Island.
She’s a lover of light, a poet, and by default, a hopeless romantic.

Skydiving Over Lake Taupo

By: Valeri Lohrman
From fifteen thousand feet I saw bucket lists floating.
I saw North Island volcano, I saw the largest lake
in New Zealand. I breathed masked oxygen and watched
a girl and her tandem person fall out of the plane,
sitting next to me, then suddenly plunging toward earth.
Soon I was as well. The air rushed through the cavities
of my face like a pressure washer through rotted wood,
and I swore that the freefall force would cause tree fall,
a deceased maple attached to a parachute. My tandem
instructor taps on me to let go of the ropes and let my
arms fly free, but I didn’t realize and so I plunged as
Icarus, if Icarus had been a chicken. When I did let go,
we were at the parachute release altitude, and suddenly
all became slow. I talked to my tandem person, a normal
conversation while thousands of feet in the air. It felt more
like I was at home on my computer, looking at aerial views
on Google Maps than it felt like I was skydiving. Nothing
was between me and the roofs of Taupo houses, the tops
of scalps, low-flying birds. I bent my legs up to prepare for
landing, and just like that, I was sitting on the grass.
Unclasped, walking on the ground I’d just seen from far above,
I caught a bucket list with my teeth and I took a bite. A world
around me, what a place to dive in.

***
valeri lohrman is a senior Creative Writing major and songwriter
from southern New Jersey. Traveling and writing about places are what
make up the left centricle of her heart. She travelled to New Zealand for her
GO trip, and it changed her life.

Where Did the Beach Go?

By: Richard Berwin
Salted crests from bay
roll in, carrying
broken glass shards
smoothed into mosaic
tile by gentle caress
of Poseidon’s hands.
Childhood lemonade stand
weathered by Sandy and Irene
into lean-to against concrete
slab holding memories of
crabbing vessels.
Crosshatched gate fences off
community from nature
to prevent condoms and needles
intermingling within
“good white neighborhood.”
Weekend sundowns illuminated
by round-the-clock ice cream lullaby
and street lamp night lights
allow late childhood
rundown to sanded beds.
Thrumming mist rolls angular
smells of city life
and cool oceanic
sighs into mid-island
conditioner units.
Legend says this shore
held child adventurers
planning for futuristic
fantasies but crushed by
lack of access to these tides.

***
richard berwind is a sophomore Creative Writing and English Literature
double major with a double minor in Publishing and Editing and
Theatre. In his free time, you can find him running across campus to get to
something, having an existential crisis, or knitting. While he doesn’t travel
that much due to a lack of his own car, he treats any travelling as an opportunity to learn about different people.

Hullet

By: Valeri Lohrman
Wyoming, I think of you always. Your
open prairies, how they sway in the wind
along the turning of the sky, beige grasses
against navy blue atmosphere or purple bighorns.
Your geologic wonders, laccolithic buttes
and hotspots, your sparse towns and
friendly rest stops, the way you feel like home
even when you’re farthest from it. I watch
old westerns and sing about casper and
dream of ten sleep and I wish myself back
at the ponderosa cafe in hulett or to that sunset
northward from your southern brother,
where the laramie mountains sat against
the orange sky like sentences, written
in cursive and in blue ink, to be studied
and remembered and repeated as you.

***
valeri lohrman is a senior Creative Writing major and songwriter
from southern New Jersey. Traveling and writing about places are what
make up the left centricle of her heart. She travelled to New Zealand for her
GO trip, and it changed her life.

Immortality Does Not Exist in the Savannah

By: Deon Robinson
The night of the funeral, we slept on the floor of Grandma’s house.
There was only one bed and we shared the house with five other
people. Dad sent us, seven of his 12 disciples, to shake his mother’s
hand as we lowered her into the grave. I honestly didn’t want
to go. I knew nothing of the country or even how to say its name
with pride infused in the dialect. Guilt slithered into my veins
and froze my blood, the audacity of me to sleep in a stranger’s
house without reciting a prayer first. At the funeral, the home was
so small, and the slaughterhouse next door was too loud next to
Grandma’s bones. There was saltwater on the cheeks of speakers,
and it warped the words of everyone in the audience. I noticed the
rips in suits, and the kids in hand-me-down clothes, noticed how
genetic poverty was. The way her casket glistened, demanded its
own respect. We called Dad afterwards and he reminded us not
to drink any of their water since it would make us ill. Imagine
denying the poor man’s grail, to try to love your country through
a quarantine zone.
I remember my dad said, shivering his tongue dry of Jamaican
fruit:
“I plan to build a mansion for my mother back in Jamaica once I
get my citizenship. It will tower above all the houses in the
neighborhood, and it will be my apology for leaving her alone 25 years
before her death.
After the funeral, all of the participants danced in the field where
we buried Grandma. I remember looking down and seeing the
names of the dead. I remember mourning is temporary. I watch
them dance till dawn in dirty shoes and tattered suits, but not once
did we ever talk about the elephant in the room.
Not once, did we talk about what killed Grandma.

 

***
deon robinson, Class of 2020, is a Creative Writing major who spent
a week in Jamaica following his grandmother’s funeral. In his free time, he
draws in class and takes photos across the East Coast.

Enoshima Island

By: Remy Perez

Enoshima Island.JPG

***
remy perez is a graphic design major from Danville, Pennsylvania,
who moved up from Miami when she was six years old. Aside from graphic
design, she enjoys engaging in fine arts, photography, music, and video
games. Remy loves to travel and has greatly enjoyed her time abroad in Tokyo
this past summer and her foreign exchange to Finland prior to college.
She hopes to travel more while still pursuing her passions in language,
travel, and the arts.

Staircase in Archanes, Crete

By: Jessica Nirvana Ram

Staircase in Archanes, Crete

***
jessica nirvana ram is a senior Creative Writing major and Psychology
minor. She is from Queens, NY and then Royersford, PA and then
Selinsgrove, PA and soon to be, who knows where. Jess is a designer, performance
poet, memoirist, and photographer. She went abroad to Greece
for two weeks in the summer of 2017. Her photography has previously
been published in Rivercraft and Essay Magazine.