Rubies

By Sophie Lefens

You know that it has been weeks since he last washed his sheets, but you decide that you don’t mind. It smells like stale shampoo and leftover sweat; like morning bodies, even at night. The smell is dimly masculine and it reminds you of your dad and sometimes you like what’s foul so long as it’s familiar.

You lie next to this man/boy/guy in a tourniquet of sheets, tasting new love like infants gumming solids. But this thought of your dad moves like ink underwater, spreading and thinning into see-through memories of Greek myths in the grass and your mother hating jazz and fuck you from inside the master bedroom. Then more, the crutches he used when he broke his leg driving drunk and you said nothing, and then tents zipped open, which somehow sounds both wet and dry.

You know these thoughts are out of place so you push them aside, literally moving your head back and forth quickly like a cartoon shaking off a dropped anvil and you laugh at yourself for being cartoonish and you laugh to the man beside you, who knows only that you’re burying your chin into his neck and laughing because ha ha ha, you are having such a good time and isn’t this cozy and cute?

And maybe it is a good time and maybe you don’t mind sharing this zero-neck-support-pillow because you like the way it feels, easy and nice, having his head rest next to yours.

In the morning, alone, you sit on the edge of the bed and notice a tiny black stain at the very end of the sheets where your feet spent the night. You look closer, and see that this black freckle is actually the color of rubies without sun, and when he comes back into the room you ask, and he tells you he cut his toe last week and he laughs because he knows that you think it is gross but he takes pride in it like a ten-year-old with a dead frog and you think, what a sad misdirected attempt at manhood.

Outside it’s wet-towel raining, no lightning or thunder, just steady slow soaking.

After Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing”

By Sophie Lefens

I stand here painting my son’s bedroom blue and what you asked me drips heavily under the brush.

“I’m sorry I didn’t protect you. You’re my daughter. I love you. How can I take care of you now?”

“Take care of you now . . .” Even if I did tell you, what good would it do? You think because you are my mother you can soften every jag and jab? I have lived for thirty years. There is all the life that has happened despite you, because of you. And when is there time to forget? I will make lists of memories in between sips of cold tea and squeezing pears at the market, trying to smoke out the bad with the good.

You loved being a mother, peeling open each day’s color for my fresh eyes. In the garden, you put snapdragons on my ears and called me queen. Why do I remember that most?

You said flossing saved lives and sang to us in your hard, rain voice while my brother and I marched towards the tub. You taught me fire and salt and the difference between strength and conceit. I breathed in the air you exhaled.
I was seven and nine and twelve, feeling too much and knowing too little, and you forgot to edit your sighs. My ears tuned to the slow build of marital friction and to the dissonance of midnight weeping. I waited at the edge of the stairs, checking  for silence before I could sleep. And even without hearing, I heard. I swallowed your grief with my morning cereal.

A friend of yours, the mother of my middle school best friend, asked me how you were doing, if there was anything she could do for you. I said no, she is fine, I will take care of her. But at night you drooped in my doorway, told me you were too sad and too lonely before collapsing into my bed. I patted your head as you fell asleep. I was a hero then, not knowing how you would slowly smear my childhood sun.

I will never total it all. I will never call you and tell you how to take care of me now. You were heavy and dark at a time when children need light. You were a mother of desperate, not calming love. Your wisdom came too late and is still coming.

So let it be. So all that is in you will not bloom. There is still enough left to live by. Only know that you are more than this paint dripping downward, spreading thin, helpless beneath the brush.

Winter Art 2018

Chaos and Control 02 by Joselyn Torbenson
Chaos and Control 01 by Joselyn Torbenson
Tower by Joselyn Torbenson

 

Untitled by Joselyn Torbenson

Joselyn Torbenson graduated with a BA from BYU in 2017 and is currently a student in BYU’s Education Policy masters program. Joselyn’s work often is documentary in nature and records found places of complex order. She is interested in the way that we care for the earth, each other, and ourselves. As a mother and an artist she makes work that deals with the limits of her time and attention and ways in which she can merge her studio practice with her family life. In the past couple of years, she received a juror award from the Mayhew show, exhibited her first solo show, and was an artist assistant to international artist Joanna Kidney.

Underwater Knees by Hannah Ruiz
Recourse 7 by Julian Harper
Recourse 2 by Julian Harper

Julian Harper is currently a senior at BYU, and a BFA studio art major. He is interested in the story and empathy, and he has found that photography can channel a sort of empathy that other mediums struggle to have. He is interested in the relationships had between the viewer and the subject of photographs. Julian feels there is also a need for a better, wider, vocabulary for explaining individual experience. And this series visually describes that.

 

Memento Mariposa

by Anthony Pearce

“Each winter they flee the cold,” the paper says of the little gods of instinct. Monarchs hanging in polished bone branches in Michoacán, finding south out of crumpled chrysalis. Each winter they find haven. “This winter the chill of an unexpected storm found them.” The paper shows them scattered dead on the forest floor like tiles of the Alhambra opening into geometry. A man in the picture walks among their fermenting bodies, treading along lifeless wings, wrinkled origami. I wish my hands would reach and gather a handful to bring home and pin to my bedroom wall like puckered autumn leaves.

 

Anthony is a graduate student in Hispanic Literature at BYU.

The Threat of Happiness

by Rich Ives

Vigorously mewling wet humor loops surround themselves,
hide in the handsome vacancy in the oars,
and they eat and they eat themselves
until they are equally relevant.

I create understandings for what happens,
and I lay the metaphors on the table
and cut them in equal portions,

overly cautious with passion,
as if already married to a lawn chair,
until you have been correctly mistaken
for who you must become.

There could be a furnace and leaves digesting,
the awnings spilling the wrong rain,
softly scheduled,

one blue heron knitting an irrevocable gate to the cloudless sky,
kind of like talking to you when I’m listening.

Rich Ives has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. He has been nominated seven times for the Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Thin Air Creative Nonfiction Award. His books include Light from a Small Brown Bird (Bitter Oleander Press–poetry), Sharpen (The Newer York-fiction chapbook), The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking-What Books) and Tunneling to the Moon (Silenced Press–hybrid).

Unreliable Marketing Strategies

by Rich Ives

The asshole made me angry and the anger covered me
like a smelly wool coat that would not keep me dry
and made warmth feel like something clammy.

This took place in a country I lived in when
on the other side of this gentleman
there was a desire that tasted like sidewalk.

“I always knew it would end like this,”
my father said, not knowing what it was,
turning it over for a return address.

“Come back! Come back!”
screamed mother wheelchair,
“I’ll hold your oily toast!”

It’s the acting out of the you taking
the me outside for a quick one because
the best way to a thing is the thing itself.

Some inhabitants don’t actually live here,
and so formed a soft scattering of light at dawn,
its darning of the sleepy hay, and its words

came back upon my gift of freedom and held
me to my choices, which could not be seen
as the queen of ghostly cinnamon. At the grocery store

my wire cage held food that only stayed solid and desirable until I ate it.

Rich Ives has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. He has been nominated seven times for the Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Thin Air Creative Nonfiction Award. His books include Light from a Small Brown Bird (Bitter Oleander Press–poetry), Sharpen (The Newer York-fiction chapbook), The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking-What Books) and Tunneling to the Moon (Silenced Press–hybrid)

Wash

by Alexandra Palmer

I used wet-on-wet to tint windows,
erect buildings, and pigment neon signs.
Umber and terracotta bled together
and congealed into via della Conciliazone.
Dry-on-dry came after for texture:
The bister paint stained into thinning
bristles, I dragged each hair by the spine,
scratching out roads and
soot on bricks—each sidewalk
scuffed, each wall scored,
each glass pane smeared in grime.

Now, you should know, wet-on-wet is
not the same as a wash. A wash
plucks eddies, sprays rivers, drizzles lakes,
mists estuaries onto paper before ever touching
dye. To begin with a wash
is best, but having overlooked it before,
I better use it now. My splotched sheet undulates,
steaming from warm breath and water exuding
from the brush. The grout etched between
each brick has already begun to settle
into puddles on the pavement,
a bath of gum arabic and tap.
Each edifice blanches, and mortar, stone,
and cement curl under the baptism wash

Alexandra has always loved poetry, but she only recently began studying contemporary poetry. She is an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University. She spends her free time outdoors with her husband rock climbing and hiking and eating lots of bread.

Gamos

by Jonathon Egan

 

Jonathon Todd Egan, DC, PhD, (BS – BYU ’98), is currently Dean of a chiropractic college in California. He is married to his wife, Heidi, for 22 years – and this poem (‘Gamos’) was written in honor of that anniversary: as both Jonathon and Heidi are 44 years old, the 22nd anniversary represented being married for their “half life” for both of them. Jonathon and Heidi have 5 children, the oldest of which just finished serving an LDS mission, and the next oldest of which is in process of submitting mission papers. Creatively, Jonathon has also released an album of faith and family centered alternative and progressive rock (called “Godspeed”) in 2016 with the band Bravery Test, available on streaming services and everywhere digital music is typically available. Jonathon served an LDS mission in Sweden, and has also served as Bishop and as counselor in Bishoprics, counselor in a Mission Presidency, Ward Mission Leader, Nursery Leader, and (most delightful of all) Primary Pianist.

Nocturne Beginning with a Line by Derek Walcott

by Gavin Gao

This is the music of memory, water
entering the unfurnished room, & the limbs,
leaving the lips echoless. A single dim light
 
dangles from the ceiling
like a shadowy fig. The years sifted clean
in a stream dividing
 
the departed and those
who remain. Out in the garden, the moon hangs
its white fang on a branch. Someone, running,
 
always trips on the loose stone. Another lets
out a laugh the way a glass bell
shatters in the hands
 
of Silence. Look at us, each one
a shiny little impermanence
busy with our allotted task. We take turns
 
flipping over the hourglass. We carve
our names into the bare wall
and scrape them off with our fingertips.
 
Those who seek peace shall
have peace. Those who desire myths
shall have myths. Soon a small wave
 
will unclench its fist and give the storm
-tossed vessel back to the sand.
The untroubled blue
 
of the night sky will ink
through our skin. Tell me this
is how our flesh will be remembered.
 

Gavin Gao recently graduated with a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, where he had received two Avery Hopwood Awards and the Arthur Miller Arts Award for his writing. His work is forthcoming or has appeared in Poet Lore, HOUSEGUEST, The Rise Up Review, The Michigan Daily and elsewhere.

Preparing Peruvian Lomo Saltado

by Mallory Dickson

Amiga, unfazed, hacks away with her small machete. Her ax peels the slivers of onion bark away from the bulbous tree, where they fall like pine needles, mingling with her pumpkin seed tears. Cutting through this onion is cutting through her, thin lines of mascara streaking down her face, black vine tendrils. Her face a brown canvas, lost in this forest, this arena of food. The slab in front of me is cold, numbing my fingers and rejecting my blade. I am fighting with a jellyfish, jello de carne, pink marble slab. Amiga is offering up her kindling, tossing the small ivory pieces onto the stove, mixing with golden sap: a pond of oil. As the onion slices crackle in liquid fire she turns to face me, me with this sword, hacking away at this faceless opponent, the metal reflecting off his salmon-pink armor. No I do not need help, let me face my demons alone! Fingernails dig into this fleshy hill, steel penetrating the carne: I leave carnage in my wake. Rosy chunks, fallen petals are strewn across the wooden chopping block. I lay down my knife, turn away. Let her bury the dead in round metal caskets, ringed by flame.

 

 

From a young age Mallory Dickson has been fascinated with books and writing. She has worked on a fantasy trilogy for over seven years, dabbles in poetry, and writes creative essays. She is a senior at Brigham Young University, studying English with an Editing minor.