Poetry by Emily L. Manzoline

mountain

Madness

there’s a voice inside that will not be stead I am not delusional nor absurd
however this lunacy must be heard
trust your madness
for it brings balance to the perplexing brain


Why the Mountain Calls

Deep in the mountains where their story once peaked
She shares the same darkness within as they weep
Underneath the sheets of ice are the memories they keep
Thunder cracks for every scene rewinding in her dreams
Lightning strikes and the creatures scatter for cover
But really its her soul that is catching on fire

It’s within nature that she finds herself
Realizing she can not live without anyone else
She starts to hate the ordinary days
She would much rather strive in her madness ways
She starts to find refreshment in the blizzard
Knowing from great distance he can still make the body shriver

The woods can be dark and deep
But she knows she has promises to keep
So she bathes in the springs where her love boils over
Waiting for the day when the mountains get him to come closer

Little does she know he has been waiting for the perfect time to celebrate
Galloping over the cricks so he won’t be late
Rejoicing with a dance under the komorebi light
After a tender kiss their happiness sores in the wind like a box kite
Together they climb to the top again
This is when their adventure begins


image1Emily was born and raised a Michigan girl who has recently been relocated to the Colorado Springs area, thanks to her Air Force career. She loves the outdoors and will forever be her grandpa’s favorite hunting buddy. She has her family, along with her husband Andrew, to thank for always pushing her to become a better person and widen her horizons.

The Visit

By Andrew Manzoline

white

I had always figured Henry was nuts; since the beginning I had figured it. When he was little he would pull the fire alarms at restaurants, and when he was in junior high, he would pull the fire alarms there too. When we asked him why he pulled them, he’d say, “Well, say there is a fire, and I pull it before the fire even happened. Then the fire wouldn’t happen because I pulled it and think of how many people I’d save?” I saw what he was saying.

He would carry nails around with him because they were good luck. When he didn’t have his nails, he wouldn’t talk, or move a whole lot, he’d just watch everyone and everything very carefully. He was afraid something bad would happen. He was always doing crazy stuff like that. I remember one time he really got us. His bedroom was in the basement at our house, and he’d stay down there all day, with his door shut. We’d have to go and check on him now and then, but he always stayed down there.

One occasion when I went down to check on him, I went into the bedroom and he was gone. We looked everywhere for him, but he was nowhere to be found. Dad had locked his window, so he couldn’t have went out there. We were tearing up his bedroom, when we heard a noise from his closet. We looked in the closet, but he wasn’t there. We tore it apart, and we found a small square cut in the dry-wall, in the very back. Dad moved the cut out square, and Henry was in there, crunched into the small hole in the wall he had worked on all afternoon. That was Henry.

Mom home schooled him in high school, because none of the teachers wanted him. He was actually very smart, smarter than me, and that kind of pissed me off. He was very quiet and very smart. He remembered everything, and math was easy for him. It wasn’t easy for me. Mom struggled teaching him, because he was too smart for her, and he would just teach himself the material, and she didn’t like that. “You need a teacher!” She’d say. But, he didn’t care, and he kept causing her trouble and continue to teach himself. He was very smart, but I knew he’d end up in the nut house eventually.

I was a sophomore at Wake Forrest when I came back for Thanksgiving break that year. I came into the house, expecting to see my mom preparing the turkey or the pie, but instead, she wasn’t in the kitchen. I heard voices coming from down the basement, and my Mom and Dad were down there with Henry, putting black construction paper over the window above his bed. “Your brother thinks people are watching him in the night, so we need to block off his windows so they can’t see him,” Mom said, shaking her head, disgusted. “Not just at night mom, all the time,” Henry said. He was lying on his bed reading an encyclopedia. Letter L.

After that, his paranoia got worse, and pretty soon, he thought there were cameras in the bathroom and in the mirror, and in the television. He’d tear up the house, sometimes in the middle of the night, thinking he heard something, or someone. He’d tear out the phone lines, saying they were listening in through the phone. He wouldn’t leave the house, because they followed him. He stayed in his room down the basement, reading and sleeping. It got so, my parents had to hold him up in a sanitarium. My Mom hated it, but my father knew it was necessary, because they couldn’t live like that. Henry really didn’t seem to mind much. He liked it because they made good food, and he didn’t have to do a damn thing. He made the transition very seamlessly.

By this time I had finished with school, and was a branch manager of a large company that sold ceiling fans, Henry had been held up in the sanitarium for three years. The doctor said he was making very good progress, and was beginning to seem right in the head again. He said he hadn’t said anything about the people watching him, and he was doing very well mentally. They were thinking about taking him home. My mother phoned me and told me this, and I knew it wasn’t true. Right from the beginning I knew he’d be in the loon bin all his life. So I decided to take a trip and see ole Henry. I hadn’t been to visit him in many months and the trip was overdue. I’d see how “normal” he was really getting.

It was raining the day I went to see him. The Blue Ridge Sanitarium was ten miles from the nearest town, up in the mountains, very difficult to escape from. The road was windy and it was nice driving through that country in autumn. I had made an appointment before I went, and I got to the sanitarium and singed in at the front desk in the lobby. The nurse working the desk was very plump and was shaped something like a blackberry.

“I’m here to see Henry Spalding,” I said. The nurse didn’t look up right away and that kind of pissed me off. When the blackberry finally did look up, I wish she hadn’t.

“Spalding, Spalding, Spalding, let me see…. Oh yes, you have the ten o’clock appointment?”

“Yes, that’s it.”

“All right, I just need your name right here, and you can go up and see Mr. Spalding.”

I signed the paper, saying I wouldn’t take anyone form the sanitarium without permission, and I took the elevator up to the eighth floor. Henry hated elevators, and he would take the stairs everyday down to the cafeteria or the exercise room. Eight stories he’d climb, sometimes three or four times a day. He was in pretty good shape to say the least.

The elevator came to the eighth floor, paused, and the door opened. I walked through the hallway towards Henry’s room. The hallway had linoleum tile, and it smelt like food, and sheets on the eighth floor. Every room had a small window that looked out over the mountains, and the real severe patients had bars on the windows. One of the rooms’ doors were open and I walked past and saw an old man in the room, staring out the window at the mountains. He had his hands in his lap, and his head was slightly tilted. I continued to walk down towards Henry’s room, past the nurse’s station in the middle of the floor, and past the small room with the fridge and coffee maker. I came to Henry’s room and knocked on the door and went in. He was sitting on the bed reading “Green Hills of Africa” by Ernest Hemingway.

“Hey,” I said, as I walked into the room.

He looked up from the book, and didn’t seem real surprised to see me. Almost like he knew I was coming. “Hey,” he said. I went and sat down on the recliner next to the bed.

“How’ve you been?” I asked him. He was still reading the book.

“I’ve been all right. Why? What have they told you?”

“They haven’t told me anything, I was just asking how you were doing.”

“Oh. Well yeah, I’ve been doing fine.”

Henry looked the same. He looked younger than twenty-two, but I think it was because the patients couldn’t grow facial hair. He had on a plain, light blue crewneck sweatshirt, and light blue cotton shorts. He was average height, and thin, very thin. His face was shaven very smooth to the skin, and his hair was cut very neatly, not buzzed, but very trim and proper. A young, thin nurse came in shortly after I had sat down.

“It’s time for Henry’s breakfast,” she said to me. “Would you like to eat here or down at the cafeteria Henry?”

“We can eat down in the cafeteria,” Henry said, putting his book down on the small table near the bed.

“All right, I’ll meet you down there,” I said, knowing he’d take the stairs.

I took the elevator down to the ground floor and waited near the stair exit for Henry. I waited about a minute, before he came down and out of the stair exit. He wasn’t breathing heavy. We walked to the cafeteria that was right off the lobby. It was a very big cafeteria with large, tall windows that encompassed the whole room, letting in the morning light. There were a dozen or so patients in the cafeteria eating, and I found a table near a window and sat down to wait for Henry. I could see him looking through the glass at what he was going to get. He stood real rigid and nervous. He got what he wanted and swiped his patient card at the end of the line. He got coffee from the coffee dispenser at the end of the line and came and sat down with me.

“What did you get?” I asked him as he sat down.

“Eggs, toast, oatmeal, and coffee,” he said, stirring his oatmeal.

“Those eggs look good,” I said.

“They usually are.” He ate the oatmeal first, eating it very fast, and not looking up. I watched him for a while.

“So the doctors said you’ve been doing pretty well,” I said.

“I guess I have been.”

“That’s great! Are you feeling good?” I asked.

“Yeah, I still count the number of steps I take in a day. But that’s always been there and always will be.”

“Well that’s not too bad. I guess that’s why you’ve always been good at math,” I said, laughing. He didn’t laugh.

“I suppose,” he said. He drank some of his coffee and started on his eggs.

“The doctor said you might be able to leave soon,” I said. “Isn’t that nice?”

Henry looked up for the first time, with eyes somewhat wide. “He said that?”

“Sure, he said that you might be well enough to go home. You’ve been making good progress.”

“Well, I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” Henry said hesitantly. “I still need time.”

“Well, of course, but you might be well enough soon to come home. He said you seem very stable.”

Henry didn’t like the suggestion, I could tell. He slowed on his eating and began to play with the cup his coffee came in. Another patient who must have known Henry walked by our table and said hi to Henry. Henry said hi very quietly and took a drink of his coffee. Then he looked at me very quickly, his eyes focused.

“You know I could have broken out of here anytime I wanted,” Henry said very matter-of-factly.

The question took me by surprise. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“It means, I can leave whenever I want. But I don’t want to leave. I choose to stay here.”

“Why do you want to stay here?” I said, leaning back in the chair. “Don’t you want to go home?” I began to see the real Henry now.

“No, I don’t want to go home. I won’t go home.”

“Henry, you’re being ridiculous. Why the hell not?”

Henry didn’t answer right away, and he finished off his eggs. He took a drink of his coffee and looked up at me.

“I said, why don’t you want to leave?” Henry looked around the cafeteria very slowly and inconspicuously.

“They can’t get in here,” he said.

“Who’s they?”

“The ones who have been following me. They can’t get in here. They just can’t. It’s too hard for them.”

“And that’s why you don’t want to leave?”

“Well, of course! If I leave, they’ll find me again at home. Here, they can’t find me.”

“I see,” I said. Sitting back and watching Henry eat his breakfast fast again.

He finished up his breakfast and coffee and we went back upstairs to his room. He continued to read, and I scanned through some of the channels on the television. Neither of us said much more about him leaving. After a while, I gave him a hug and walked down the hall, out the lobby and drove home in the rain.


pic.jpgAndrew Manzoline lives in Colorado Springs with his wife Emily and a kitten named Oliver. He is originally from Ishpeming, MI. He has written many short stories, and hopes to publish a volume of short stories. He enjoys writing, reading, and traveling.

Photography by Sarah Duffy


sarahduffy.pngSarah Duffy is nineteen years old and planning on transferring to the Art Institute of Chicago in the Fall, 2016, to pursue a career in studio photography. She has been taking pictures for a little over a year now and loves it. Photography excites her, and she can see herself doing it for the rest of her life.

The thing she loves about photography is the way it makes people feel when you take a good photograph of them. It gives people confidence and a whole new perspective on how the rest of the world perceives them. As you can see, she loves to take photos of people. She has a small business in portrait photography, which includes occasions like graduation photos, model head shots, wedding engagements, and pregnancies. She does this on the side, but she also wants to practice in fine art photography and fashion as well; those are the two that interest her the most.

Poetry by Michael O’Ryan

broncosWoman; Punk Rock Incarnate

dim lights in a hot room one hundred denim
jackets and a whole lot of ire the band starts
playing vexed waves make for furious pools
blaring through the marshalls jackets move
now instinctually hard and fast and into and
out of each other I was chin checked during the
chorus about the trials of the human condition
and I saw her I was thrown into some reverie
by this raging, shining cynosure spitfire bodies
slow peripherally she was flowing and wailing to
the melodies of a train wreck and as her arms rose
her fingers twirled like magnolias in a mosh pit
I was convinced she was moving this way without
those easter pastel tablets that suspend serotonin
flood gates because it takes a fragile balance
between brutality and grace to find the rhythm
in someone else’s rage as opposed to your own.


Love Letter for a Sea Change
Put your manic ear to the television,
and you’ll hear several self-help
salesmen telling you to stop focusing
on the
rifts-

but I love you, schism between
vicious prairie
and empty doorframe.

This schism is a hand caressing
a banshee’s song that is melting
through the dissonance on a starry
night in the country one last time.

Some find darker waters easier to
tread.

Fuck picking up that telephone,
all the pretty synaptic misfires
are just a
sea change
away.


This Body Is A Cabin In The Middle Of Nowhere

I see broncos in the clouds-

cirrocumuli play phantasmagoria to my mind’s
fallacious whims. This body is a cabin in the

middle of nowhere, torn from stasis and reassembled
like a bucolic Frankenstein. My window-pane iris

filters an empty morning’s rising sun, leaving bedsheets
drenched in fuchsia. The wood-stove is cardiac in

nature and heated by a cerebral pyramid of xylem and
phloem that’s nearly burned out/washed up like a

message in a bottle written by an angry coward. Isn’t
it awful the way both fury and joy can thrive within

the boundary of a moment? Isn’t it amazing the way
Houston and Odessa are so apart, yell fall within

the boundary of the same state lines?  In the dead of night,
coyotes yip in the same moonlight that illuminates the

tears streaming down the face of an ill-starred cowboy in the
middle of something ugly- the same moonlight that was a

perfect segue into lying to someone I cared about; “Harmony,
I’m a different person now”, with as much conviction and

false prophecy as a child telling someone that no two
snowflakes are the same. There is a ghost in the

corner playing the piano, whose gorgeous skin is grazed
by auburn’s fade to black. My synapses writhe in

unison with the parallels between mirthless catharsis and the
inability to shatter wild horses. All of this disharmony

makes for my skull, pressured to crack like the moment a
gloved hand holds a railroad nail to cartoon porcelain.

-I see mustangs in the sky.


Michael is a film student perpetually working on poetry, short stories and a screenplay or two. You can usually find him out roaming through the woods of the Pacific Northwest, or at the local indie theater. His work has previously appeared in Building 45 Literary Journal.

Poetry by Claire Scott

buddha.jpg

BUDDHISM ONCE REMOVED

Just now on the way to the market
you know the one on the corner
with the misspelled signs
barbaqued chicken   $4.99 a pound
appricots   $5 a dozen
I saw a woman straggling down the street
back and forth in the mizzled fog
burrowing through trash bins
collecting cans & bottles &
crumpled newspapers
her face full of pleats & sags
the soles of her sandals flapping
slip/slapping on the damp pavement
she wore three dowdy sweaters
over a too-big denim skirt
she smelled of gin & garlic & piss &
sputtered under her breath
accusations? apologies? obscenities?
she spat through missing teeth
what story was she telling
two steps forward, one back in
some stammering gavotte
     what story was it?

I prayed to Buddha to help her
to bring her heart solace
to give her a new skirt &
stockings without holes
perhaps a cup of hot coffee
with a cinnamon scone
I bought appricots & two
barbaqued chickens @ $4.99 a pound
she was still there when I left
her eyes slitted with what?
despair? fear? exhaustion?
her face full of fog’s drizzle
     or could it be tears?

I hold my package tight
against my chest & step firmly
     across the street

 

BE PRESENT

Live in the present
say the Buddhists with their
saffron robes and shiny heads
sitting silently for days
hands in cosmic mudra
immersed in the infinite
emptiness of now
live in the present they say

What of IV’s, catheters, morphine
dripping slowly through chilled veins
     tick tock
grinding pain in my stomach
bruises over my body
only water on the tip of a sponge
offered by a frazzled nurse
only a mouth full of sores
the taste of sulfur on my tongue
only hair falling out by the fistful
a forlorn walker by my bed
my body barely legible under
starched sheets

But still I have the past
asters blooming each spring
star-shaped purple heads
nodding in morning’s breeze
bowls of steaming stew
fragrant with basil and sage
children on swings shouting
     higher higher
sweet sex at night when
moths whisper

still I have a past where
memories linger and console
a past today’s tubes don’t touch
today’s torment doesn’t reach
my hands in a mudra of remembrance
my wilted head almost bald
the spaceless space of the past
is where I want to be
     right now

 

FADED PHOTOS

Boxes of fading photos stuffed in the back of your closet
or in green garbage bags in your basement tied with twist ties
or placed on the highest shelf, the shelf you can’t reach without a ladder

photos of your grandparents on their trip to Greece
she: a green silk dress with long sleeves and a knee-length skirt
a twisting strand of pearls that is probably fake

he: a wool tweed suit with notched labels and two sets of flap pockets
perhaps one day a great-great grandchild obsessed with genealogy
will find the faded photos and bring them back to life

but for now it is Sunday supper, your kids and grandkids around the table
four boys in Warriors t-shirts brandishing cell phones
arguing, pushing, shoving, frantically thumbing their miniscule keyboards

one takes your picture
you: faded jeans and a grey sweatshirt
you: distressed hair and no makeup

a picture that will never live in the back of a drawer or the bottom of a box
waiting for a curious descendant to bring it to life
one day simply deleted with a casual finger to free up new space

for photos of girlfriends, boyfriends, waterfalls and windmills
you: dissolved, dissipated, dispersed into space
you: disappeared forever.


claire for book copy.jpgClaire Scott is an award winning poet who has been nominated twice for the  Pushcart Prize. Her work has been accepted by the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Healing Muse and Vine Leaves Literary Journal among others. Her first book of poetry, Waiting to be Called, was published in 2015. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.

Sisterhood

By Ariel Rebecca Levine

Today I’m technically 23, but I’m not quite sure.

I send my sister a link to Taylor Swift’s Grammy performance. I know she won’t say anything about it, she never does, but I know she’ll be able to read between the lines.

My mom is often so confused by the fact that we don’t actually ever have vocal or textual communication with each other, yet we can feel connected. As I peruse the history of our Facebook convo, it is littered with links to cute puppy GIFs, Harry Potter quizzes, and warm puffy jackets. Each seems mundane, however we know that each current interest references a past we share together. Cute puppies can suggest the dog she and I loved and lost recently. Harry Potter quizzes remind us of all the nights we cuddled in her bed while listening to my dad read the series aloud to us.

She doesn’t make a comment about the “T Swizzle” video, but I know she’s remembering long car rides and the very smelly hockey bags.

We are four years apart, and while I was in high school I kept trying to introduce her to good music. Except that I didn’t know what good music was. She and I always settled on listening to a Top 40 radio station on the way to school. We didn’t like most of the music, but we didn’t hate it either. It also led to some interesting morning conversations, such as when my dad from the back seat asked what Fergie meant by her “London bridges were coming down.” I still don’t have a good answer.

It was on one of these mornings that we discovered T. Swift. Her melodies were catchy and lyrics reminiscent of our teenage friends. I ended up buying her CD and my sister would constantly beg to share headphones with me while we drove through snowy New England towns to play hockey games against Canadians who were clearly born with skates on their feet.

But somewhere along the way this love of her music wasn’t about the music anymore. It was about experience of sharing something. Every time a new single or album came out one of us would send it along and both mock its girliness and praise its honesty. We love T. sSwift. We hate T. Swift. And despite the fact that many of my young music loves have passed their rotation on my iPod, Taylor Swift remains, all so that I can remember the insignificant memories of our childhood. How else am I supposed to get my neurons to fire so that I hear her horrendous singing voice carrying through our Jack and Jill bathroom while I brush my teeth with my eyes closed because it is WAY too damn early?

So as I’m listening to T. Swift’s Grammy performance I hear ALL her other songs and see my sister and I leaning toward the middle seat,  us jamming out each with an ear bud in. I’m always on the right side, she’s on the left. The car changes. The landscape evolves. Our ages fluctuate. But that connection is constant.

Michaela tells me that it’s T. Swift Tuesday in the locker-room. And today the physical distance feels smaller and I can almost feel her sitting next to me in the car as I drive down streets she’s never seen.


374939_10151298802994458_301395511_nAriel Rebecca Levine received her MFA in Fiber from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and holds undergraduate degrees from Skidmore College not just in studio art, but also in art history. This emphasis in research and writing has continued to be integral in her practice as her work deals with the breakdown of language and the fluidity of storytelling.

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Invite the Darkness in for a Drink

By Stephen Reno

You’ll die with your secrets
That’s okay, they’re yours to keep
I have secrets, and when I die
They’ll be buried with me
So, be mine tonight
And let’s invite the darkness in for a drink
We’ll toast to calamity
That cataclysmic climb, to the top of all of our fragmented dreams We sure had a great run
My best friend
My enemy
My only companion, when the rain kept falling down
Raining for weeks
I was lost
Wandering around through the flooded streets
When I felt a familiar touch
Right before the water got too deep
Embraced within two arms
You whispered
“If you sink, I sink”


Stephen Reno  majored in Film, Theater, and Communication Arts at the University of New Orleans. He first started writing during middle school after reading A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemmingway. For some reason, that was the first book to really have an effect on him, and ever since he’s been filling up notebooks with a variety of different writings, be it just an idea, poems, short stories, or even random rants of dribble.

Throughout his life and still to this day, a wide range of different genres in books, films, and music, have been his greatest inspirations for writing. Also, after moving to New Orleans for college, a various amount of new experiences, both good and bad, enlightened him, especially when it came to growing as a writer, and hopefully an established one someday soon.

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