Grandfather’s Granddaughter Blues
is what I know of you, though my mother’s shame.
wrapped in pills and lies, the country club ashamed.
hate myself for carrying your name.
mocking words cut your children to the bone.
men and women haunted by your bones.
speak like you, and cry when I’m alone.
empty my pockets and my coinpurse for another bag
out my checkingssavings for another sweetsharp bag.
pay my way towards looking like a hag.
damp and sticky basement breathes like sickness
killed my family’s spirit, lost inside your sickness.
it away from the inside, pulsing like an abscess.
see you out the front door, standing in the street.
at my windows, you can’t hide out in the street.
eyes look like my mother’s. I retreat.
history, you wait for me, your opiates and insanity.
family, you live in me. I suffer your insanity.
you creeping through my dreams, slick with profanity.
still whispering, in my head you see, say that they’re following me.
shake with fear but no one’s there, it’s only you that’s following me.
sick inside my mind you see, your legacy is swallowing me.
Maggie Baillie grew up in Minnesota. After 13 years in one small private school, she moved 500
miles away to attend a small private college. Currently an undecided junior at Kalamazoo College, she works as a bilingual
teacher’s assistant in a first grade class, has five cats, and enjoys baking, procrastinating,
and art in all forms.
of year, armies of grass blades march
circles, hold up crowds of skin undulating
addictive thump the speakers spew.
moving in packs, we stick to each other,
thick with salt, we love the hiss and burn of our
whipping back as we detach.
going to call it love, but it is not love, or is it:
strangers meeting, strangers intertwining our
parts. Squeezing, squishing our flexible
to fit against one another.
loving how we feel together, the movements
to make, how we know to clasp hands, match pointer
to feel hair and graze arms.
to throw silence around like a weapon,
to be ashamed.
There Is A Dance
night eats the sun, my body is a shy yolk, thin skin
round over my young moving insides. This milky yellow dances
forth like a small ocean, a handful of waves wrapped in membrane.
black, I am the fragile weight of an egg, threatening to spill,
under the unknown, the quick crush of what I cannot
is a stranger who visits, rubs his dirty feet on white knotted carpet
into my bed. To battle the dark, there is a dance whose steps I’ve
in myths, a full body thing, feet firm on the dirt and arms around
Brave skin naked in the air. It goes like this.
Paloma Clohossey is currently studying and living in Nairobi, Kenya for six months. She will
return back to Kalamazoo College in February armed with journals filled with memories. Originally from Menlo Park, California,
Paloma loves dear friends, live music, photographs and poems.
Icarus From Above
you think you’re like him sometimes,
too much sky,
into star and flame;
a way to leave this world,
burning hole where you
think you’re like this.
pretend to let life go;
bone white fingers,
red with trying.
suspended in air,
you can watch life fall,
a solid thing,
through sky to break
ripple capped in white.
you, already so close to heaven.
you think you’re like this,
boy, frail bones,
feathers sewn on;
at the end of life,
at the end of
maybe you’re tired of crescendoing
maybe you fell,
you were nowhere near the sun.
Dallman is a junior English major with a writing concentration and a minor in Women’s Studies at Kalamazoo College,
currently studying abroad in Madrid, Spain, at the Universidad Antonio de Nebrija. She is hoping to do her Senior Individualized
Project in poetry, and has looked to Di Seuss for brilliance, humor, and refreshment for the past two years. Wherever you
go, Di, bring those leopard print leggings with you; they will take you far!
Alone at river-windows
Great lighted faces
Dream that there is nothing that dies
In their carnivorous landscape.
Calliope strains in search of a music box,
playing forever on the shores of the stream
that feeds into the lake that feeds into the sea
that empties its boats and nymphs for the great ocean
where brave conquistadors go to die, where armadas
drop over the lip of the horizon and fall up into the sun,
one after another, like dominoes. Or walnuts. Or sisters.
We watch them sail past, jigging to the steam pipe music,
throwing us boxes of Morpheus cigars, to be smoked
alone at river-windows.
We put the river valleys behind us, to find
the city made from flint and cathedral glass.
Belfries grumble for all hours, for every ailment,
and we cannot make ourselves heard in the boulevards.
We ask if they have been in the city long,
as we are ourselves very fresh, very afraid of noise.
Between bell tolls, the strawmen look at us
with lonely stepfather eyes, hungry for a nip at our cheeks
before vomiting lungfuls of red clay across cobblestones and
great lighted faces.
The city kneels into the ash tree’s roots,
and we can believe that we have been sleeping longer
than we have drawn waking air; but there is no way
to be sure when the moon refuses to set,
babbling with its lunatic teeth instead. A finch
lunches on a fox, and we remind the bird that
he owes us a birth-debt. ‘Hardly,’ replies the bird,
‘for are you so sure that you are imagining me?
I’ve been known to dream of lost boys, to
dream that there is nothing that dies.’
The cigar boxes ride up onto shore, but never enough;
they wash back, and try again to make it up
the tideland. Angels nibble at ticks, asking each other
where the meat of their wings has come from.
We pinch ourselves, and can feel our fingers working
through our robes, and the straw of our skin,
but never the barb. Where are the stairs down from sleep?
From their ships, the conquistadors poach the angels
with fat blunderbusses, laughing at us poor flotsam caught
in their carnivorous landscape.
Jared Devitt: Writing, running, wasting oxygen: repeat, ad infinitum.
As he drew near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing. With that, Moses’ wrath
flared up, so that he threw the tablets down and broke them on the base of the mountain. Taking the calf they had made, he
fused it in the fire and then ground it down to powder, which he scattered on the water and made the Israelites drink.
river shimmers with our sin:
off in curling flakes,
grated into dust so fine a film
to the prophet’s skin as he pinched
product with thumb and fore-
Satisfied, he gathered
offending powder in a pile,
it onto a cloth, and bundled it
to the water’s edge. We held
breath as the cloth unfurled
for a split second the wind
the solid, hoofed and horned
only oily sheen, drifting,
misplaced libation. The sunlight
to penetrate the brilliant barrier
the water’s depths, like the veil
the ark of the commandments
the people in the temple.
cannot touch the cold flank
this God. We tried to shift out
under the shadow
His mountain, tried to find Him
the way we knew: in ourselves,
down the gold we’ve worn
our wrists for decades,
rings passed down from those
lost. A god from the pendants that rest
our breasts day and night,
by our skin. Now, forced
our knees, hands cupping, we bend
and again: our lips coated
light, we bend to drown the thirst.
Judas Iscariot to His Mother
shouldn’t be about you.
when I think of judgment, when I think of the end,
the merchant in front of the temple and you’re tipping over my table.
doves flap and blunder into each other as their cages tumble
the coins are rolling, rolling, wobbling on their thin edges, circling, flat.
got to hide my golden calf from you.
to hide that bag of silver
my back, with my crossed fingers.
the cock that crowed in the courtyard;
the salt and I’m the pillar
oh, I am looking back.
want to tell you what I’ve done.
warn you. Woman, behold
son. Would you take me
your arms then, let my body
your lap, would you wrap
up in linen, roll the stone
the gap? I could hand
over with a kiss. I could turn
back. But I could not lose you.
am not brave or coward
Claire Eder is a senior English and French major at Kalamazoo College. For her thesis work, she
is writing a collection of poems in English and French. She recently invested in her first house plant (a pothos). If she
could have one superpower, she would want to speak every language in the world.
Bees at the Window
spring what i like
to watch them or
them in jars
fact i study
wings i don’t
now for books
but the walls
this house stand
me, the doors
and a bloom
my skin, bees
the halls with-
any clothes but
damp in my hair,
like it’s mine
Natalia Holtzman is a senior philosophy major at Kalamazoo College. She is currently doing research at the Newberry
Library in Chicago, Illinois.
After Bob Hicok
We call Montana the Last Best Place.
It’s a name
we’ve given it specifically for its misleading qualities.
Like the western boundary line, which, to the untrained
eye, might look like the graph illustrating climbing
prison populations (entrepreneurs exploring the
lucrative methamphetamines business), but
what is really the profile of the last great American
cowboy having a stare-down with Idaho. Because
potatoes are worthless without steak.
For those who do not know it, who have never really
experienced God (who lives in the Bob Marshall Wilderness
with Peter and Paul, his pack mules), ‘last’ is qualitative.
It is last best, and therefore it is worst.
The most-played song in the juke box in the roadside bar
in a town that is only a pit-stop on the way to anywhere else
is the wind. Sometimes it sings bass and rips shingles
off of roofs. Other times it murmurs a lilting soprano and rustles
the wheat and the poplars. The indigenous phobia is micro.
Big sky. Big mountains. Big prairies. Big.
(Imagine waking up in New Jersey and finding your
yourself—so insignificant). A Montanan will know you
without ever having met you. It is your smile, your eyes,
your build, your laugh that will give you away. And he will
know your grandfathers from the hospital in Malta,
telephone company up in Scobey. He will have danced with
your mother once at their prom and seen your brother
play on the O-line at Memorial Stadium. And he will inquire
after your uncle’s dog that he knew had been feeling sick over in
Missoula and tell you what an incredible woman your
grandmother was. And then he will say it’s been nice
talkin’ with you and pay for his groceries and leave you to
small-talk with the cashier and treasure the feature of your
face that holds so much history. It is impossible to carve the
mountains out of words. You can’t write the sun or the
rivers down in ink. The dictionary has not yet thought up a
word for ‘sky’ that would fill up its space. The most popular lawn
ornament here is a rusted-out truck with crabgrass growing up
through the engine toward a sky that feels like flying
when you’re driving fast enough.
Maghan Jackson is a junior Art History and English major who is currently on study abroad in
Rome, Italy. She is originally from Montana, and her upbringing there has been a big influence in her writing, as have the
personalities and biographies of the artists she studies. Diane Seuss was the first person Maggie met at Kalamazoo College,
and her Introduction to Creative Writing class was a defining course in Maggie's educational path at K. Along with Di, some
of her favorite writers are Lynn Thompson, Miley Maloy and Patricia Smith.
[Say something good]
Say something good to me.
Say something good to me.
Say something good—
Once let delirium walk for days
and duck covered ponds.
Let it run past coke dealers
and hooded men
and suburban kids with guns.
I’m pretty sure
I asked for a hair tie then
Time I said
Time is ridiculous
Time is so
Once was a cliffside,
melted and hardened
through one bic lighter
and two large front teeth.
Once picked up your hand
and rubbed it on glass.
heard it melt
while you were asleep.
I wanted to hear your hair, then
and feel it brush against the floor
I wanted to break your groans in half
and suck the marrow from the core
Say something good to me
I cut my bangs when I’m bored.
Marianna Johnson is a junior at Kalamazoo College. She
aspires to explore her passions in science and writing while still maintaining some semblance of sanity. Aside from academics,
she is involved in Kalamazoo College's women’s empowerment group and green energy advocacy
group. While not at school, Marianna lives with her parents in Southern California where she has a vegetable garden and enjoys
spending quality time with her cat, Peter.
The Edge of the World
Through up a volcano, its inner walls well swell, a cone of dusty purple lichen liken to
dead moss on ledges. Scientific pulsing pausing grey hearts push heat. Up. To the top, the light, the lithosphere. Suds of
liquid grey matter madder form from the valves, halves of veins, violent spurting, spilling, and filling the void of the volcano.
Foaming falling up and down dune the sides like suds en route in a root beer float flats over the sides of the glass, gases
crash. The volcano canoe implodes like a condemned building demolition demonstration. Spectator’s hard hat hated heads
turn upwards swords words. Cheer. Chairman. See a man made mad monolith fall fail inwards. Why. We. Slow motion emotion video
void on a bread bed box television screen seen spliced in the museum memo wall wail walk. Darkness. Dryness.
Jeanette Lee is a senior English major at Kalamazoo College.
She enjoys art museums, blowing bubbles and barefoot hikes. Her favorite word is “pillow.”
A birthday party the summer of ’67
from the photographic grave, four year
smiling back over a black and white
party. A million remembrances of a maternal
“you look just like her.” These kins are so
from their curly ponies to their cutesy Oshkosh.
they didn’t know was that not everything
black, and white. There’s also color which shows
broken heart so much better than it could in any
Also don’t forget that a picture’s worth
thousand words. But all those words can’t capture
from a scraped knee or a divorce. The album
keep the black and white familiarities, the ones
friends and pride love to brag on. Over in my
I’ll keep the colors your true side could
quite hide, even on the darkest nights.
Lytle is a junior history major at Kalamazoo College, currently studying abroad in Spain.
She is originally from Dallas, Georgia.
I was doomed the first time I casually sat down to watch and didn’t
notice the end of the bungee cord that snaked out of the television and drilled
itself into my head and wrapped around and around my brain until
none of the organ was visible and I didn’t notice myself getting pulled back to sit
in front of the television a camera thrust in my hands and I took picture after picture
of the images that pranced across my vision and smiled taunting me as I stopped
just long enough to run with the cord back to my room frantic to attach
the images to the walls where I hungrily traced the curve of each woman’s
abdomen around to her hip and down her protruding hamstring that led into the knee
and back out just slightly for the calf. I studied the smiles of the women last the light
in their eyes and faint blush of their cheeks and then I grasped the measuring tape I was handed
and began measuring parts in millimeters hysterically cataloging paying careful
attention to the elevation of the stomach and nook where the hip bone meets the thigh
and the way the flesh of the butt hangs and exactly how much peeks out from under
the bikini and in what proportion until it got to the point where the measuring tape
was surgically implanted into my brain and I was pulled back to the screen
where the camera was eternally super-glued to my hands and I clicked and clicked and clicked.
Soon the walls of my room were covered photo thrust atop photo in a schizophrenic collage
that traveled to the ceiling and the floor and all the furniture and things were taken
out until it was just me and hips and abdomens of the women who stared at me from
all directions and the rope coming from my head was clipped my eyelids sewn
open and the door of my room closed for the last time and vanished behind
the women and I sat in the center of the floor on top of women whose bodies I stared
at while they stared at mine their eyes everywhere smiling smiling always smiling all with
the same smile and I finally reached for the light switch only to find it gone.
Jessica Maas is a senior English/Writing major and women’s studies concentrator at Kalamazoo
College. She is also captain of the varsity softball team and an executive editor of The
Index, the college newspaper. Jessica is interested in poetry, creative non-fiction, and journalism, and frequently examines
the topics of gender, sexuality and the media in her pieces. Upon graduation, she hopes to attend law school with a focus
on women’s issues.
Poem Without Sex
There’s a hot storm buildin’ under my skin, a
twisting heathen of movement; you’re north
east and I’m restless, destroying crops in the mid
west, but my bones, my bones they wanna come
from the ocean. Not enough to be wet.
Vodou— derivative of spirit. Gotta be sharp coral
and darkness. Voodoo is touching myself in the shower:
steam and wrinkled palms. My Belly’s not land
mass or volcano, just a succession of undertows. And
above it, ribs, my slatted, oar-less row boat. And breasts,
too. Small tidepools: suncatchers
jammed with jelly
fish. What are those hard pearls?
Ain’t no abandoned
clam shells on this beach! Bodies are just bodies, be they
full of water or blood or both. They need the same things
and when invaded, they swell with the same incandescent parasites,
the same illnesses. I bet my milk is thick with that unwant.
McCartney is a poet, an actor and an adventurer, currently studying English/Writing and Theatre at Kalamazoo College. She spent part of her sophomore year working, doing an internship, and participating
in seminars at The Philadelphia Center. She is originally from Colon, Michigan.
even as I look to escape
bed and dash the long journey from
to shower, from shower to bed,
I wonder what it is about desolation
lures me to live in it, through it,
after cold day after cold.
back to Kansas,
rectangle that couldn’t stop trying
squares were it, but it wasn’t a square.
yokels kept poking at the ground and praying
Poseidon to make it rain, to grow maybe a single
but the God of the Sea hadn’t hit up Kansas
my hot shower is somehow cold
this state. I never knew a shower’s
couldn’t keep up with the bit of Michigan
snuck inside. Managed to escape the vast empty
of swirling snow and huddled students
just can’t stop swearing God damnit God damnit,
Michigan too is facing a dust bowl
with the lake rain, even when the lake
have been frozen to make this rain.
beautiful and clean wasteland that no one
but bewildered shivering squirrels.
wonder cars won’t grow here anymore.
see no one knew that prosperity wasn’t white
when the flight flew, but not the workers too
continued to poke at the ground and hope
wipers would grow like wheat, and
worry because sometimes it smells like Truman,
Macarthur, like I know this state would
to nuke Japan again. How some little Hawaii,
Rhode Island plus change can yield
after silo of silly rice-burners.
must be using pesticides.
it remembers how to rain again,
the fair-weather flighters will come back,
great pilgrimage come full circle.
let them back in like us, they who
knew what it was like to poke at the ground
a stick, and know it is just a stick,
it won’t help. Really.
prayers sound like negotiations
you keep offering more at the silent auction,
never win anything good.
People (Ode to My Friends Back at K)
miss my people.
wear a shirt until if falls apart
in your hair ring in your nose.
dove chirping out
can life be so easy.
smile PBR sipping lips
a bottle of whiskey like a love letter
want everyone to read.
picking butt flicking poetry reading
sticks out like a Marlboro Red.
scruff scrap and grit
cough ash flecked
and blue eyes gleam like grit.
thinning sin singing real cool
go to class like a coffee shop,
what tastes strong,
out the cream.
pills cutting class cutting out,
hair old house party basement.
keg cups like kisses.
on the neck slap in the face handshake
drawer steamy bathroom
nights exhale cold clouds.
on the face circle jerk smoke breaks.
cheap wine one fork pokes
armchairs long walks graveyard
bed lost lighter missing cigarette.
rolled loose tobacco smoke machine.
musicians pluck heart strings.
deeply sip away gin and tonics,
spray puns trips long lost.
the last drops of the bottle.
Rickard is a junior at Kalamazoo College. Currently studying in Ecuador, Jordan aspires to be a writer and international teacher.
An agnostic liberal from Kansas, he is a voracious road tripper, scribbler, and day dreamer.
Hell on Heels
read the news today, composed in prose across her face: a bit of rear,
bitter tear, a glass frame, an unsaid name, a list of things to drop like rain or a bomb,
she just bought a gun after work and she’s only twenty one but the tee shirt says ’Vietnam
Yeah, she’s a survivor, not
victim of rape, but a living shockwave
a stolen switchblade and all her pain is just
she wants you to feel under the foot of a war on wheels,
her mug shot caption reads “hell on heels.”
didn’t want to be buried; one more forgotten soul of So Cal,
more true crime whore-shaped shell, instead she dropped his ass down a well,
in and out of desert dreams, washed her face clean
there were no more echoed screams from that Hell’s Angels S.O.B.—then she took his bike.
Stoned, on the road, half dead eyes sunk in globes like a zombie;
the jacket says Abercrombie but the underwear say ‘Motorhead
Yeah, she’ll live forever
the minds of those she left behind,
loved ones she ran down with her ride, and while
ran away, some volunteered to slide their skulls under the wheels,
her mug shot caption reads “hell on heels.”
Joseph Schafer is a
senior English major at Kalamazoo College. He is writing a senior thesis which combines his two great loves--poetry and
Sylvia Plath’s Voice on CD
it in print, there’s no code of dialect
I could throw down
to indicate her,
because it sounds,
as I can tell, the
way English should:
full, resonant O’s,
T’s cracking like a stick of celery, unspellably lovely and lofty and steady, as smooth as a cruise ship and as loaded,
a thousand passengers
behind a wall of mirrored windows.
It sounds like a scene
from the silver screen
but no one
is waiting for a kiss
from Cary Grant.
Even reading this aloud
I could not shake in some Sylvia like salt
cannot imitate her
direct and damning diction.
I would wallow in vowels
where she sweeps, I would sound like a sci-fi universe in which every member of the parliament speaks
with a different fake
accent. I would sound like I listened to books on tape
but never narrated
nothin’. I would sound faux-British,
or a sillier pompouser
selfabsorbier version of myself.
I have heard my voice
set down in magnets,
listened to messages
on my own machine.
I know the woman
on the radio downstairs
begins to merge with me, trained in the “milk” and “car” of the Midwest, a grating openness befitting our stereotype, a beige
sweater- set kind of
voice with a pin a kindergartener made.
Foxfur and raw silk
in a tailored dress suit.
A hat with a veil.
It carries a thin goldtipped
in a satin wrist purse
by a tight hand.
at once invitation
and cold shoulder & maple syrup poured down your back
straight from the fridge
it makes you
and you want to believe
there’s a sweetness and you can smell it,
but it runs down your
in that un-itchable
slow and cold
and you’ll have
wash it off in a serious
before you can even
leave your house,
but really. Really
have you heard?
Have you heard her
say the word “snare”?
Ich, ich, ich! I could
in those deep drowning
blues and trues and yous, pure & bones,
Are you hearing this?
Do you feel
the holy sweep of foxfur
on your shoulder?
Do you open like bread
to the knife
to that which is so
beautiful & wracked with horrors?
Have you heard
this dead woman say
Scholz is an art major and English minor at Kalamazoo College.
Looking at the mottled
face transformed pastel
that was seated next
I wondered if I could
all the tubes and glasses
pinked white foundation
into a base at the
bottom of the hill.
What ceramic God would
The kind with two arms
nailed up to heaven
with tiny black birds
aloft His broad fingertips
Her foundation held
those soggy fatigue
into tight balls of
They rose stark upon
if I had any passion?
I unbuttoned my collar
and showed her the
scarecrow neck bristling
brown fur. She recommended
nude. All the masks
pinks, warms, and ivories
around the room nodded
their heads in taut
I felt a whisper at
and turned to look
hand nicked with
a few little white
that only a deep color
can show. The kind
come in bottles,
the kind that smears.
I really wanted to
To lick a bold line
through the ash.
I realize that my caramel
thirsts for pigment,
to always be
surrounded and cushioned
by purples, blues,
This hand recommends
a heavy rosary,
thick, messy, red.
Natasha Sharma is an apprentice poet at Kalamazoo
College. She is a junior
English major with an emphasis in creative writing, currently doing research at the Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois. She is originally from Middletown,
Ohio and she gets off on the smell of fresh-from-the-can tennis balls.
Reflections on Disorder
I am browsing diet pills on
when it occurs to me,
weren’t the Amazons strong
And what am I? No
warrior, that I know—
I am fighting nothing.
And strong, I think not,
because every day makes me
that much frailer.
Even woman seems too much
a stretch; my body grows more
and more androgynous,
prepubescent and gangly.
I am an ice sculpture of classic Greek beauty,
curves melting, limbs shrinking,
under the glaring September sun.
Alice Thomsen graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy
in 2008 as a creative writing major and is now a second-year student of English at Kalamazoo
College. She has attended the University
of Iowa’s Young Writers’ Workshop twice, toured England as a bassoonist with an orchestra, and developed an unhealthy infatuation
with Tchaikovsky. She was born in Dexter, Michigan,
and now lives with two fish and a secret pigeon named Roxanne.