OPEN YOUR MIND
Poetry by Amy Lesperance
I stand behind a wall of lies and jokes, reading each one
Listening to people around the wall having conversations
One by one, the more I read, the more I listen,
The more I want to break that wall.
The wall that is holding me back from the world around me
The wall that is keeping me isolated, letting me only listen to my own thoughts
This barrier that teaches me that I am safe inside my own space where no one can reach me
It tells me that I cannot expose myself to others, that I am not good enough for society
But I don't want to listen.
I want to break this wall.
I want to escape this tomb that tears me away from society
But if I try to smash this wall
My fists will get bloodied.
And the wall will still be towering over me with its lies and jokes, laughing at me
Telling me I am not good enough
Poetry by Linus Kennedy
There are four kinds of people in the world.
Those who walk near the sun, careful not to look at it.
Those who stay away from the sun, wanting not to do with it.
Those who follow the sun, complaining and shouting and pushing and shoving.
Those who would stop the sun, hold it close, and have others gather 'round.
However, those people tend to be burned.
When I was younger, I never had a mask.
I was free, and I could show my face around.
When I spoke with new people, they didn't like my face.
So I made myself my first mask.
Some folk would be satisfied, or even happy with my old face.
But then I'd leave, and meet more people,
So another mask was created.
I was confused by this obsession with faces,
Until I realized how comfortable the masks are.
Now my eyes hurt whenever I take them off.
The object of light is to destroy darkness.
Buy a candle, and light it ablaze.
Be careful not to touch it.
It will burn for a time,
But the wax will melt,
And the light will go out.
Poetry written by Elizabeth Butler
And in those 12 months there are 28 days or more.
16 years, to be exact.
16 years, since two twins were born.
16 years since others were born as well.
But in such a day of birth, who was lost.
For every birth one is lost.
A son or daughter.
Even a stranger.
In such a happy day we forget those who take their life everyday.
For every 1 minute spent celebrating someone else is left in misery until they pull the trigger.
A happy day, but yet all it is, is an ocean filled with misery that we stop drowning in and start swimming out of only, to be pulled back in the next day as we continue drowning.
And drowning will never stop until we sink.
But nobody will know we sunk, until we're pulled out in a body bag.
But a distraction for the lost, it always will be.
A trigger is pulled, no matter the date of importance.
Every 60 seconds.
The trigger has been pulled once again.
But how many times has it been pulled when you were reading this.
The questions we never ask, hold all the meaning.
Of course there has to be three
Balancing this is what is hard.
Never knowing what to do to get rid of it.
It's an everlasting voice never stopping.
Never asking, always commanding.
There's never any questions just listen and you'll be fine.
But what is fine when you're living in the darkness of your personally made jail cell hidden away in hell.
A Sheep in a Fox's Den
By: Samuel Zajkowski
His old house was just a few blocks away from the boarding house, but he dared not to go near it right now. He still felt like breaking into tears when he saw even the street sign. Some of the faces he saw along the way probably wouldn't recognize a man in his very late thirties who was rather fond of wearing a trench coat in the late summer, but as he occasionally shot his glance here and there, he saw some of the town's elderly folk go on back inside(some with the assistance of an aid), and probably call their friends on the phone to tell them, "I just saw Henry Olgason walk by my front porch a few moments ago." and their friend would probably reply, "Henry? Henry has come back? I thought he vowed never to." and the word would probably just keep on spreading and spreading to all the old folk who knew him when he was still young, and he would be constantly be given looks and glances for people to see if the rumours are true. It would only be for a week and a half, though. And it was through no fault of his own. He returned to the boarding house, and did some reading in one of three books he had brought with him. They were rather hefty novels, so each would occupy him for about half a week(which to him was a surprise, granted how wordy they were). He was an average reader, some of the stuff he was reading at the moment absolutely perplexed him, but it was Moby Dick that he was reading, so it was obvious why. He was about to grab some matchsticks from the reception desk to hold his eyes open, lest he fall asleep reading. Some inconsiderate dick was playing Led-Zeppelin in the room above him, full blast. He simply looked up and rolled his eyes, at least someone wasn't letting people forget Bonzo's death. Turning back to his book, he only managed to get through twenty pages within two hours before falling asleep. He was awakened to the sound of the mission bell signifying that dinner was on the table. The smells that were wafting up the stairs and into his room reminded him so much of home(ironically almost where he was), and as he went down into the rather long dining room, he expected to be greeted by a series of stares from the old folks who were living there and would recognize him. Just the thought of it was enough to give him a headache.
He lucked out and quietly snuck into his seat as the others said Grace.
Some wonderfully seasoned lamb roast, a nice thick piece of buttered ciabatta bread, and a bottle of Coke was all he needed to fill him up. But when the brown-apple Betty came onto the table, his meal just seemed to fall into a hollowed area in his leg, and he had to refrain from taking more than everyone else. Apple brown Betty - one of his favorite desserts, if not the single most. As he walked upstairs back to his room, he saw a woman walking down the hall to hers. Even without seeing her face, he could have sworn he recognized her before. Where did he, though?
Where, oh where, oh where?
Out the window, he could just see the chimney of his old house. His gaze quickly flitted by that whenever it went in its direction. Damn that old place, and he wouldn't care one slight bit. His parents might have died, but he wasn't all that caring of it. He was even surprised he was still in their last will and testament. He abandoned the two, and never wanted to see them again, but here he was. In fact he only stayed in touch with one person from here, his one and only true friend growing up, and it was through him that he found he was wanted back here. He tried going to sleep, but his mind was just so full of thoughts whizzing by him that it was hard to just calm down. And out there, he bet, the town was just buzzing with talk of the return of Henry Olgason. God, did he hate that thought. Would he be left alone? Was there no escaping these familiar streets and brick buildings and painted houses of Prudence, Indiana? Would something always draw him back here, into this ticking trap? When would this end? Why him? Why here?
"Dammit, just let me go insane already!" He almost shouted in anguish.
Tears. Tears falling down his cheek and onto the bed sheets as he pictured all these things.
Tears of fear were the last thing he felt before he was finally able to fall asleep, only to dreams full of memories that made him afraid of what circles of Hell might come.
Look, Momma, no hands...
He turned around to see if Momma was watching or not. She was, but she was also telling him to turn to the left. He tried to figure out what she was saying when he ran off the gravel path and into a tall oak tree at the edge of the property. He landed with his bike on top of him and sat there, dazed, and waiting for his momma to get him. When out a little ways in the woods, he saw a fox. It was just sitting there, watching him and the wheel on his bike slowly stop turning. He could feel the chain jabbing into his calf, the teeth of the gear poking him all the way down to his foot. He would have red marks from the gear that night.
Come on, get up.
His momma was helping him up, and asking him if he was alright.
Momma, I'm fine, I'm seven - a big kid. I can tough it out. He could feel the sting on his elbow where it scraped against the bark of the tree. It didn't mean anything, though. He wouldn't cry. Big kids aren't supposed to cry.
Why don't you come on inside. There's a lemon bar on the kitchen table with your name on it, I'm sure. He walked inside and saw Poppa in his big chair reading a book. There were a few lemon bars on a plate with a fine layer of powdered sugar on them. He took one off the top and ate it by the window. He could see the entire property out there, all the way up to the woods. He looked around, trying to see if he could find the fox. No soap. He finished his lemon bar and walked into the sitting room where his poppa was reading his book. He could faintly make out the title on the cover: The Catcher in the Rye, he said in his thoughts; seemed to be a strange name, but it interested him. He sat on the sofa facing the television. I saw a fox outside, just now. His father, without looking up from his book, said: Well, were you the only one that saw it?
Yes, poppa, I was.
Then, you will be one lucky man, son.
That last bit puzzled him. Seeing a fox brings good luck?
But, if you saw it near the property, that could also be a bad omen.
He asked his poppa, What's an omen?
An omen is a sign that shows what might happen in the future, commonly saying something about your luck. It's usually associated with the supernatural, so say you broke a mirror. People say that it is an omen of bad luck. Namely seven years of it.
The boy thought about that. Seven years of bad luck. If he ever had to go through that, he would go crazy. That's a long time, was all he could say.
Poppa, can Jamie come over to play? He asked with a hint of pleading in his voice.
If you stay out of trouble and are back before dark. he said.
He went back outside and walked to his friend's house, a few streets down. Jamie, wanna play in the woods? He asked when he got there. In about a minute and a half, Jason Osterton(usually called Jamie), his best friend in the whole world, was bolting down the driveway and racing him to the treehouse.
I got a dollar on me right now. Bet I can beat you there?
Jamie, you're on...
It was a close call, but Jamie managed to keep his dollar. Ought to buy him a soda from the candy shop, he thought.
Their treehouse was about a quarter of a mile into the woods. It was built in a very sturdy white ash tree. The door to the treehouse wasn't hard to get to, but it was padlocked and only they had a key. Inside, there was a small card table, and pieces of paper to draw and make little ships and hats out of. They would usually head here to eat lunch to avoid the bullies. Surprisingly, no one had found it, save the two of them. This was their escape. Their home away from home, as their folks put it.
Jamie, do you ever think that grown-ups do what they want? He asked.
What do you mean?
You know, we want to go play at the baseball diamond, but our parent tell us not to, because it's getting dark.
I think they just do what they want. They never let us say what we think should happen.
Why would they tell us not to do what we want, when they do what they want? The question had been on his mind for days, now.
I don't know.
I personally find it to be a stupid rule. His parents had been telling him not to use that word.
I agree. Hey, why do we have to follow that rule. Why can't we do what we want, no matter what grown ups say. Do you think so?
Yes; yes I do.
Well, why don't we make a pact on it?
You were the one who brought up the idea of doing what we want to do in the first place, so don't back out now unless you're too chicken.
Jamie got a pencil and a piece of paper, and on it, wrote:
When I sign this pact, I will do what I want to do, and make and follow my own rules.
They signed the pact and played for a while longer. Even past dark.
Henry woke with a start, like usual(and in a bit of a cold sweat), and was greeted happily by the morning sun. One thing he wouldn't miss about this place when he went back to New York was the light intruding through the windows, instead of being blocked by the highrises of Manhattan. He had neither fame, fortune, nor wanderlust, but he found himself falling for the same tropes that one with the aforementioned would have. He got a teaching degree at a high school for history, the money was good, and the students didn't bother him much, and enjoyed his odd quirks. He was one of the more liked teachers there, by parents, faculty and staff, and students. God, even though he was away for a week and a half, he sure did miss that school. All of his papers to grade, his quaint little apartment, his almost perfect view of the statue of liberty. At least it wouldn't take around three hours for his flight back to be ready for a one-hour- some-minute flight. His homesickness was interrupted by a gentle knock on his door. "It opens," he said, trying to be as polite as can be. He expected it to be the innkeeper of the boarding house. He was taken a bit aback to find it to be a different girl.
"Hey, you comin' down to breakfast?" She had a face almost resemblant of a mouse, but that wasn't meant in a rude way. It actually fit her bodily structure well. Some people's faces don't match the structure of their heads or bodies, and makes them similar to a beast or a cartoon character of some sort, and what's worse is that they wear clothing or fix their hair in a way that doesn't work, for their case, so they just become a clashing anti-fashion statement. This woman had perfect proportions in all ways imaginable(take that how you will). And her mousey face fit it like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle.
"Yeah," said Henry, "In a moment. You can start without me." He meant it as a joke.
The girl left the room, and he continued to get dressed. But before he left his room, he took another look out at his old house's chimney, only to turn away after a few seconds and closing the door. And in the next three seconds, the only thought on his mind was breakfast.
* * *
Pancakes, his least favorite; must be the welcome wagon for me, he thought. You would probably be telling him: Henry, how on God's green Earth can you not like pancakes? It's really, quite simple when you hear it - he just didn't like the texture(yet he was fine with other forms of cake, ironically enough). He just sat there, poking away at it, not knowing what to do, feeling the people's gaze at the odd fellow not eating his breakfast. They were probably shooting looks at each other rather inquisitively, some probably ones asking if they had seen his face before. Boy, oh boy, those old ladies must have spread the news like the plague. Eventually, he just gave them to someone else. About ten minutes later, everyone grabbed their dishes and brought them into the kitchen to wash up.
All except one.
They just sat there looking at each other with the stupidest looks on their faces. He barely noticed when he said, "Do I know you?" She took a few seconds to process the information, and replied, "Do I know you?" After that, there was a little more silence, the bitter taste of adrenaline in both of their mouths(Henry's especially). They were interrupted by a man walking in saying, "Hope, you gonna wash your dishes or not?" She snapped out of her trance looking into Henry's tired and frightened eyes, and brought her dishes into the kitchen. The new guy stood there and said, "You will also want to bring those in too, the rules here is if you do the jobs you have to do here, and pay the rent, you can stay." Henry composed himself as he brought his dishes into the kitchen.
Some of the people were still there helping about with the dishes, and those who came in washed up, dried them off, and would put them in their proper places with the assistance of the tall people still in the kitchen. He expected it to be all eyes on him again, but people somehow didn't seem to notice, lucky for him. He was done and out of there in a little more than a minute, no questions asked.
He went for his coat when he saw the girl walk by. He stopped. He stood there for a little. What was her name again? Come on, it was only a few minutes ago...
Hope. That's what it was. A nice name too. He snapped out of it, put his coat back on, and went out for a walk.
Poetry by Megan Bruinooge
I am speechless
You make me scramble for words everytime you look at me
Once I have found them,
They are a mess of scattered topics and red cheeks
I laugh at nothing and everything
It might be because I'm nervous
But you're also hilarious
In between kisses,
When you pull me closer,
Hold my hand
When you smile,
My heart skips a beat
I smile because here
I am happy
I have a reason to wake up
I have a future to look forward to,
Motivation to keep moving forward.
I am home.
I feel safe and warm
I feel like this is where I am meant to be.
I feel comfortable,
Like I can talk to you about anything
I'm in love.
More of Megan's work will be published in our next edition!
You're My Drug
My mother always warned me about drugs.
How they were addictive,
Ruin your life
But she never warned me about the one
With chocolate brown eyes and curly hair
At first taste I was in love
But my mother was wrong
This one didn't ruin my life
This one made my life worthwhile
This one brought me light
when I was in the dark
This one showed me the stars
When I only saw the deep holes in the earth
You're my drug
And I'm addicted to you
A Sheep In The Fox's Den
A Story Written by Samuel Zajkowski
A message from the author:
Hello, I am Sam Zajkowksi. I write stories and have multiple started drafts that I hope to publish in various forms in the future. My story is about a man returning to his small hometown in Indiana for the reading of his parents' will. While there, he has to bury his past and accept all that he wished he hadn't done, and face(what he belives to be) his ostracization at home. I will probably develop on the idea more over time, but this is the rough sketch.
The bus rode along the interstate leading to his hometown. "Mrs. Robinson" was on the radio when he woke up. The bus passed the sign that he recognized after all these years saying, "Prudence, 5 miles," and felt the anxiety he had felt for the past few days. He had left Prudence twenty long years before, but the longing troubled him like a scar that you got from slicing your hand with broken glass. At last, the bus stopped at the station a mile out from Prudence. He got off and looked at the landscape before him. He could see the outskirts of town down the road. He put his suitcase on the ground and pulled his old baseball cap out of his pocket. He checked to see if his shoes were tied and double-knotted, and then set off on the one-mile hike back to Prudence.
Johnny's Diner was still standing, which was a surprise to him, since last he heard of it, it was about to be shut down due to health code violations. He walked a few more blocks to the boarding house to rent a room. The beautiful woman at the desk appeared almost as if she was just a trope from a book. Even her voice had that certain quality as she asked, "Good afternoon, what can I do for you?" He asked for a room preferably with a fireplace, but no soap. He was given one right by the staircase that was comfortable enough, and the bed was close enough to the door, just as he remembered the boarding house to be. It always seemed to be right out of a book: every minute detail was tended to. Hell, even the corners of the house barely had a grain of dust in their vicinity. He dropped his suitcase on the ground, not caring about the loud THUMP it made as it landed on the floorboards. He took off his shoes and put them by the dresser. He hung his black woolen trench coat on the hook clinging to the back of his door. He took a deep breath in, and then back out, and fell down onto the bed.
"Home sweet home, huh?" he said, "I sometimes wish I could just forget about this place." He closed his eyes and got some rest after a four hour flight, a train ride, a bus ride, and a walk to return to the small town of Prudence, Indiana.
Small towns are the worst: there you are, birthed into the cold of life in a small little gathering of houses and buildings in the middle of Nowhere, U.S.A. - population: you - and it's only a matter of time before you're stuck in there. They're just like a time bomb, ticking and ticking away in God knows where, getting ready to claim another person into its grip. Those with the wanderlust or with the big ideas are usually the ones who can escape before it's too late, but the fact that they came from a small town is going to stay on them, and the public will ridicule them for such a trope. Some must bear those scars for their fame or wanderlust, I suppose.
Henry Olgason had neither fame nor fortune, nor wanderlust, but he was called back to his hometown anyway. He woke up feeling well rejuvenated, and decided to go for a walk. Maybe it would help lift the weight of having to be back here again, he thought. He put his shoes back on and walked across town to Johnny's Diner.
When he entered the door, Henry was greeted with the familiar atmosphere that lingered inside of the forties and fifties. He sat down at the table in the corner like he used to way back when, and was responded to by many eyes from customers, although it was only for a few seconds, to see who was walking on in. He just sat in the corner booth and ordered a coffee and a ham sandwich. Some did their best to not look at him, and even when they did, the new man would just keep on sipping his coffee. The old jukebox was still in the corner, and it kept all of the songs they had there when he was a kid. He put in a dime and played some Elvis Presley. "Hound Dog" was his favorite from the Elvis 45's in the jukebox. The tune was just infectious and he had to hold back the urge to get up and dance like he used to. He just sat back down and finished his sandwich and coffee.
"Olgason?" He heard an old voice say a few feet away. "Henry Olgason?" Henry turned around and saw him: Jeremiah Wells, his old high-school chemistry teacher. When he had him, he was a few years away from retirement, and now, he was on a cane and hadn't shaved in at least three weeks, and his now white beard was starting to become more noticeable. Henry couldn't help but let a smile sprout on his face. "Mister Wells, my god, it's been ages. How did you know it was me?" he said as he gave him a hug.
"Barely anyone has played 'Hound Dog' since you left, but when someone did play it, I always looked up to see if it was you. And now, here we are."
"Come, have a seat, we need to catch up for a little. What has happened in the twenty years that I was away?" They both laughed at that(they both had the intelligence to understand those sort of jokes, although Henry preferred Vaudevillian humor from his youth). They spoke for about an hour, until Henry finally said he had to go. "You should come down to the retirement home where I live. I had to get special permission just to come down here when I want to, and that took ages to get. And I don't want to go through all that hassle again."
"Sure thing, Mister Wells - "
"Don't call me Mister Wells, It's unnecessary, now; just call me Jerry."
"All right, Jerry. I'll make sure to stop by once in a while. Anyway, I should be going, so see you around."
"You too, Henry." And just as he was walking out the door, he heard Jerry say, "Oh, and Henry, welcome home."
To be continued... (stay tuned to our next edition for the continuing story)