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Kalamazoo & Beyond III

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birch008.72rescopy.jpg
Birch, painting by Margo McCafferty

Tim Hawkins

 

 

Stones

 

 

Mined from quarries, plucked from meadows,

gathered near lakesides throughout the ages

by gnarled and practiced, earth-whorled thumbs,

we may know them as “Oldowan bifaces

 

giving rise to the Acheulean handaxe,” or simply as

“rocks,” but by any name they left their mark –

cutting, hacking, scraping, and cleaving their way onto

the fossilized bones that remain and the many that do not.

 

As skill became tradition, and ultimately industry,

generations learned from their elders the skills of knapping

fragile knife points, skipping flat ones across placid streams,

and punishing with blunt force the joys of a young adulteress.

 

 

***

 

On your way out the door, as the grey

thunderhead gathered for the first slap of rain,

you thought of stones

and their blunt, worn-away contours –

 

tumbling, moss-covered stones loosened

from moorings with the early inundations of spring,

heavy boulders rolled away from empty tombs,

pebbles resting upon the eyes of the dead.

 

Just before the first thunderclap spread

a sheet of icy symmetry across

the broad and deepening river,

and you failed to see the trees and their changing leaves,

 

you thought of stones –

their solid but empty thud against flesh

and their sharp, splintering

crack against bone,

 

as you pocketed them one after another

in this time of war, weighing your certainty

with numb but practiced fingers

a few short steps from the slippery bank.

 

 

 

Tim Hawkins has lived and traveled widely throughout North America, Southeast Asia and Latin America, where he has worked as a journalist, technical writer, communications manager, and teacher in international schools. His writing has appeared in numerous print and online publications, most recently in Blueline, Iron Horse Literary Review, Lucid Rhythms, The Midwest Quarterly, The Pedestal Magazine, The Shit Creek Review, and Verse Wisconsin. He was nominated by the journal Four and Twenty for a 2012 Pushcart Prize. He currently lives in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 

 

Plans

by Cam Stewart

I was in the café when the feeling hit. I was in the back near a window, the sun partially touching the book I held. The coffee in my cup was Ethiopian and rapidly cooling. To my right sat a group of nine adults. They were discussing the horrific ways the human body is portrayed in modern media, planning a convention to mock these anorexic norms.

“It’s just something we need to make known,” said a red-haired woman.

“Yes. We should have an interpretive dance piece,” said a man draped in paisley.

They were shamelessly devouring pizzas. Their oregano and peppers filled the airspace.

“It’s about eliminating the shame. Boys and girls need to know they don’t need to be anyone else,” said the obvious leader. Her wire-frame glasses sat uncomfortably on her thin face. She had a way of regaining control of the conversation through outrageous hand gestures.

“Let’s stay focused!” Her hands swatted at imaginary flies.

A barista put on Coltrane. His impossible rhythm only deepened the feeling in my chest. A girl spoke softly to her lover in the seat behind me. It must have been the way her voice crooned that reminded me of an old girlfriend. The feeling worsened.

“Hey, will you do costumes for the show?” asked the leader.

Hearing this, I envisioned children in wicker baskets being blown into the sky by a giant yellow mouth. Its teeth were golden and its breath came from deep within its boiling belly. It was from those humid red depths that the anxiety in my stomach grew.

Everyone around me had plans. Plans for body-image dissection and plans for dinner. Plans for internships and plans for what to wear. Mortgages and taxes were being taken care of by a businessman in an important city and I just sat there daydreaming in a dark café. A scattered collection of salt and crumbs from someone else’s meal smeared my book cover. The feeling deepened.

“We should have a giant Barbie doll wrapped in plastic,” said the table to my right.

Plans for post-graduation and plans for Barbie extermination.

The couple behind me had their laptops open, steaming teacups to their left. The yellow mouth was above them, blowing gently at their beverages.

“We’ll use Photoshop, just like the magazines do. But we will make our models look natural.”

The sun receded timidly behind a cloud. There were plans for career development and plans for natural beauty.

It was then, behind the protection of a blind sun that I did it. I threw myself on to their table, my boots aimed at the ceiling.

“Oh my god! What’s going on?” shouted a short lady.

I wanted them to dissect my body image. Their eyes began to bulge in horror as I pulled up my shirt and gave them permission.

“What the hell? Get off right now!” shouted the leader.

I lay flat on their table, the dessert their minds told their bellies not to crave. They didn’t know me and I had eager plans of changing that.

 

Kalamazoo College senior Cam Stewart's fiction often focuses on absurd personalities. By putting each of his characters under close scrutiny, he reveals both their comical and human traits. A co-editor of The Cauldron, he is also deeply focused on the world of contemporary literature. When not reading or writing, he can be found making noise on his guitar.

 

 

Rebecca Staudenmaier

 

 

Apocalypse

 

 

 

I. Pestilence: White Horse

 

The end of the world

will be like summer camp. It will make

you reach for Cortizone cream

and lots of Pepto Bismol.

Don’t scratch the rash

when it comes. Just let it blister

and let the pus run over. It will feel

like puberty again—awkward

and itchy.

 

 

II. War: Red Horse

 

The end of the world

will feel like Middle School

and sibling rivalry. Pinched nipples

shreds of hair in the sink, white underwear ripped

up to slightly pudgy navels. Adult teeth will be

lost in the summer grass

 

 

III. Famine: Black Horse

 

The end of the world

will lead you to eat many scary things.

Just remember finals week, and the Discovery Channel—

all the desperate ways to find nourishment. Under

park benches and in celebrity trashcans.

Just don’t eat the dog.

 

 

IV. Death: Pale Horse

 

The end of the world

will be like the flip of a light switch.

It will take a moment for our nerves to die,

but then we’ll fold

like pressed lace.

Then we too will be put in the closet—but

there will be no moths to lick our temples

or comb our hair.

 

 

 

Rebecca Staudenmaier is a senior English major and German minor at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She is originally from the Dayton, Ohio area and recently completed her senior thesis project which was a collection of poems about drag queens.

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