The Medium

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Ben’s Haiku Corner: Kent House

Ben Mason ‘11

Kent is back again.
New paint erases stigma.
Where are the assholes?

Water floods first floor.
All the people leave their rooms. 
This is familiar.

Kent dorm is open.
School girls please apply within.
Free condoms inside.

Tour guides skip this place.
Who really wants to see it?
It’s a piece of shit.

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PlayPlace

Alissa Vecchio ‘13

Slipping into the hollow tube,
I feel the immediate stick of sweat cling to my neckline.
There’s a pause for a short breath and I’m off,
snaking down a tunnel of red.
Germs wiggle their way into my skin and onto my clothes;
laughter reverberates around my skull
until it’s long behind me and my body sweeps past
in a ripple of static shock.
It’s a one-way track,
but I can’t help feeling that I’m lost,
that I don’t know where I’m going
or where I will emerge.
I’m hoping it’s not where I started.
Painful, peeling squeaking tells me that I have stopped,
that the plastic suctioned to my legs is no longer blurred beside me.
Heels dig into my spine as I push forward,
struggling to get to my feet.
I was on the other side now,
unwelcomingly tossed into the world outside of the twists
where I could not live horizontally
so I turned and began the climb.

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Bouquet

Doug Carter ‘12

95 north, where the interstate bends
into a curve through Maryland, trees
wait in uneven rows on the median.
Once, a Korean crowd in black array
gathered under an evergreen where
each pair of hands placed a bouquet
at the base of the trunk. Flowers?
There were hundreds, but with
regards to faces, thirty or more
could be found on the interstate,
wrapped in black crepe, weeping
petals onto the median, a bouquet
resting on the vast trunk of soul.

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The Portable Steven Pashmina

Allison Novak

Part 1

*****

Steven Pashmina always told the joke that he was the portable Steven Pashmina because he brought everything about him no matter where he went. He told this joke at dinner parties and get-togethers that were more and less formal; he told it to his Editor, to his friends, to his parents. It elicited a chuckle. Truth be told, it was a stupid joke. Really, you could say anyone was portable. Unless they had a lot of baggage, he supposed. Or maybe, that would end up making them more portable.

The sad part, he supposed, is that it was true. For someone who was a writer, he really missed the memo that told him how, exactly, to interact with the world that he was writing about. Writers are supposed to lurk in dark corners taking notes on humanity, then run back to their typewriters like squirrels carrying nuts for the winter. Right?

Okay, that metaphor got a little out of hand.

Ironically, one might say he wasn’t portable at all; just look at his downtown Toronto apartment. He had vinyl records and wine glasses and large furniture.  He did not live a simplistic life. He wrote books and went to parties and got take-out all the time because he hated to cook and was always tired for no apparent reason. His trash was a cornucopia of different cultures through their empty food containers.

He had been in this damn city for seven years and was no closer to finding the modern Holy Grail, the one that would give his life meaning and define himself like he had never been able to. Steven didn’t even have a vague idea what it was. Maybe the city wasn’t dirty enough. Toronto is, after all, one of the cleanest cities in the world. Seven (and a half) years ago in New Brunswick, about to graduate, he cited that as one of his reasons why he wanted to move. That is why he turned down a job at his parent’s paper, content to shuffle through his young life of menial jobs and late nights trying to write. And one day he did, and he thought it was going to solve everything and he would be happy. In Steven’s mind, writing a book equaled permanent Xanax.

Alas, no.

So he got up every morning and paid his bills from what was in his savings account and made coffee and puttered around his apartment pretending that he was performing elaborate rituals which needed to be performed before he could sit down at his seventeen-inch MacBook and write his next opus.

Then, of course, after he checked his email and read the news and drank several cups of coffee and vacuumed and took a shower and put his laundry in the bin, he realized he had no food in the house and took serious consideration in what he would be getting for lunch.

Something that Steven didn’t believe in (besides television) was having food delivered.  So once he decided (again, after serious consideration) what he wanted for lunch, he would leave the apartment to pick it up.

He’d climb down the three flights of stairs to the first floor, where he would leave the lobby and end up on the sidewalk. Depending where he was going, he’d either walk, take the subway, or hop on a streetcar. Toronto was unique in the fact that even in the year 2009, it still had running streetcars, and Steven remembered this was a pang of nostalgia for a time he wasn’t alive for. Sometimes he’d sit and eat it there, or end up taking it home with him. Then, of course, he would remember something he needed at the store, or stop at the Indigo Books, or get a coffee. He’d meander through the streets, and eventually make his way home, where he would eat food and check his email yet again.

This would repeat itself around dinnertime as well. Occasionally he’d ride the streetcar to Kensington Market and visit a friend of his who was a musician and while he wasn’t looking for the level of distraction that Steven was (Steven was so practiced at this that he could have gotten the gold medal at the Olympics if it was a sport) he was always looking for distraction to a certain degree. So they would sit around and talk, or watch movies, or any number of banal distracting things. Then Steven would go home, with the intention to write, and get lost in his mind, which was a great distraction.

One of his favorite distracting things to was to think about what he could be doing with his life. This happened a lot while sitting on the couch, taking a shower, the aforementioned vacuuming, or trying to fall asleep. He was the first who would tell you to never, never try to think about twenty-seven years worth of decisions while you’re trying to fall asleep at night. It just doesn’t work. You won’t be able to sleep, and then, if you manage to do just that, your dreams won’t let you rest. Steven’s dreams were so vivid that it eliminated the need for television. Vivid dreams were his television.

Some days, when Steven woke up from these dreams, he considered buying a dogsled, traveling the American west by bicycle, or moving to the Netherlands to become a wooden clog maker.

*****

Look for the newest feature on Globe and Mail.com. Every Sunday, read Dispatches from the Writing Life by Steven Pashmina, author of Portmanteau. Steven’s second novel, untitled as of yet, is due to hit bookstores this fall.

“What a terrible name, right? I don’t know who’s life they’re talking about, but it’s not mine.” Steven put down the paper with the advertisement for the technology that was killing it. “I don’t know why I agreed to this.”

Dave looked up from his magazine across the table at Tim’s. “What?”

“The Globe and Mail online thing. You know, this.” He handed Dave the paper, who looked at it quizzically. Then he said: “You’re writing for the Globe and Mail?”

Steven sighed, and decided to exercise his patience, which had been a couch potato lately. “I am.”

“That’s pretty cool,” he said, handing the paper back.

Dave had a way of letting everything slide off of his back, or so it seemed. If anyone pointed this out to him, he claimed that it was all in his name. Dave, or rather, David Henry was named after Henry David Thoreau, the “famous cabin dweller” at Walden Pond. Of course, he’d also tell you that because his name was flipped around, he had an air of coolness about him that the original Thoreau was lacking.

His parents flipped it around because they didn’t want to come off as immediately pretentious.

“Yeah, I guess,” Steven sighed. “It’s just—I don’t like comment to deadlines that everyone with access to the Internet will know if I miss.”

Dave shrugged.

“A real comfort, you know that?”

“What do you want me to say? You’ve got a cushy gig.”

“I have no book to come out in the fall.”

“Then why does it say you do?”

“Well,” Steven paused after this—- “the non-existent book has a release date.”

“Ah. You might want to get writing that, then.”

“Maybe.”

Dave stood up, slinging his black messenger bag over his shoulder. “I’ve got to go meet Margaret.”

“Where are you meeting her?”

“A Tim’s on Bloor.”

Steven chuckled. “Another Tim Horton’s? That’s two in an hour.”

“I’ll need more coffee by the time I get there.”

“Alright, see ya.”

Steven started to shuffle the papers contents, but Dave showed back up at the edge of the table.

“Forgot my coffee,” he said, grabbing the cup. “Also, know what?”

“What?”

“I’ll be able to read it with my iPhone. I won’t even need a computer.”

“Thanks, Dave,” Steven said, shooting him a glare.

A grin from Dave told Steven that his mission was accomplished. He scooted out the door and into the afternoon crowd before Steven could even say a word.

*****

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Alisha George ‘10
Juxtaposition

Alisha George ‘10

Juxtaposition

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Still

O.R. Bailey ‘07, M’09, Staff

How do paintings feel so strange and alive?
Out-living their creators as they strive to survive.
We – stare and wonder with hearts corrupt,
Almost expecting a change with movements abrupt.
Expecting smoke from a chimney,
A foot out the door,
Movement through a window,
Or steps on the floor,
A lonely house in the distance,
Covered in rain as it softly begins to pour.
I’ve nearly scene a person adjust themselves in a chair,
Witnessed a woman brush back her forever, falling, hair.
I swear I’ve seen a man blink his eyes to see
And heard them both whisper and plea, “please rescue me.”
Strange thought to beget in a fragile human mind,
Trapped in its own frame away from the answers it tries to find.
How can an artist create such a Thing?
A photograph in this world created from a dream,
The memory of a bird and the song it is meant to sing,
Or is it the recording of a voice, fragile in its scream.
There is the absence of the creator in the image of their art.
Mixed with the feeling of power come bleeding from their heart.

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The Drug

Jessica Wilson ‘13

This thing called love is like a drug
First it starts off slow
Then your addiction begins to grow
Anxiously wanting more

Surrounded by it 24/7
Feeling like you’re in heaven
Sitting on could 9
Knowing everything is just fine

As your love is getting stronger
Your mind is getting weaker
Because you are memorized
By the way it makes you feel

It takes you to that special place
That puts a smile on your face
But before you know it you’re in too deep
And your drug becomes hard to keep

But you have to be strong
and know Its okay to move on
Take it as a lesson learned
And your happiness will return

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An Unappreciated Lost Delight

Christopher C. Reese ‘11

As a young boy growing up in Chestertown, Maryland, I became very familiar with the culture and of the people that live on the treasure known as the Eastern Shore. I had lived in Chestertown almost my entire life: I was born in Delaware but relocated shortly thereafter. I had never really known anything but a way of life on the magnificent Chester River, and never planned to say farewell to my adoptive hometown.

My father worked for the government and had a decent, but somewhat low-paying job in Annapolis, Maryland’s capital. My father was a native Marylander. He was born and raised in Baltimore, and later moved to Delaware, where he met my mother. After a brief period of dating, they decided to get married, and as they say, the rest is history. While my parents were not watermen, I still had a childhood almost identical to other children whose parents were actually crabbers or fisherman.

As the only child in my family, I received all of the attention that my parents had to give. This meant that I went practically everywhere with my family. My mother enjoyed shopping, and much to my dismay, I went with her about ninety percent of the time. She would bring me into town and we would walk around for an afternoon (and unfortunately, occasionally a whole day) and window shop. My father was not much of a shopper at all. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and pretending to enjoy shopping with my mother. These shopping trips around town caused me to become acquainted with my best friend who never left town: the fountain in town square.

One sunny Saturday morning, there was a craft fair being held in the town square. When my mother said that I was to go with her I was rather unhappy. I knew that I was going to have to spend my entire day following her around while she painstakingly examined pieces that, quite frankly did not really require the painstaking examination that she did not hesitate to perform. The fountain was my only friend in town. He was one of those friends that you were happy to see when you did cross paths, but otherwise, you did not really want to cross paths. Nevertheless, I ended up in town shopping with my mother. As she shopped, I sat by the fountain in the center of the square. For the time I was there, I would toss pennies into the fountain and make wishes. Most of those wishes, I must admit, were that we would depart from the ever so boring craft fair as soon was possible, but with my mother, there was no hope for any of those wishes or the long lost pennies, which I estimate cost me over a dollar. Finally, one of those wishes came true, and we headed home.

There have been so many times where the incident just mentioned tragically (and I say tragic because it honestly felt like I was going to die during the long hours of throwing pennies) repeated itself. Although each time was different than the past, I can almost fail to distinguish between events at the fountain because of the boredom. As I jog my memory, I can remember several different happenings at the fountain. Of course there are several shopping trips with my mother, where I would occasionally meet an interesting person undergoing the same cruel torture that I was. I once met a young boy from Rock Hall whose mother had dragged him along too. I did not talk to him for very long. We related on so many levels that, in an odd way, we seemed to add to the monotony of the situation. On the contrary, I once met a very interesting man who played guitar for a living. He said that he was there to “Soak up the sun, greet the town’s people, and maybe make a few dollars”. The man, who noticed me while I was sulking on a bench next to the fountain, said that I should do the same. At the time, I didn’t think he knew what he was talking about because it appeared that he was homeless, lost, drunk, and quite possibly a combination of the three.

The most memorable event at the fountain occurred not while I was shopping with my mother but rather when I went on a hunting expedition with my father. We woke up early one morning to hunt for various waterfowl. We loaded up my father’s truck with our hunting equipment and headed out for the day. My father steered the car out of the driveway, and I immediately noticed that we were going the wrong way. I did not say anything to my father because I knew that he knew what he was doing because of the calm and relaxed look on his face. We were not driving towards the hunting grounds, but rather we were heading into the center of town. After a short drive, my father parked the car in the center of town. He got out and walked over to a bench, sat down, and proceeded to watch the early morning sunshine flicker through the flowing water of the fountain. “Son”, he spoke softly, “we can’t keep doin’ this”. I looked at him with one eyebrow raised. What was he talking about? Then, he spoke again. “That job I got down in Annapolis ain’t payin’ the bills. We’re movin’ to Philadelphia”.

I could not believe what I had heard. All my life I had lived in Chestertown, Maryland, and now we were going to leave so that we could live in the big city. At that moment, a tear ran down my cheek as I had come to realize that I had never, not once taken the time to appreciate the town and the people and the Eastern Shore. I looked at the fountain and I could see it for the first time. The flowing water was more than just water, it was the spirit of the town all collected and put on display in the center of the town. We then left, and had a very solemn day of hunting.

I now live in Baltimore and often reflect upon that fateful day. I believe that the news of us moving acted as a catalyst in making me realize that I need to appreciate what I have. As it turns out, the lost homeless man that I met at the fountain was neither lost nor homeless. I was the one lost. And now it feels as though I am the homeless one. Sometimes you don’t know what you have until you don’t have it anymore. Because of my rough work schedule, I rarely get a chance to visit the fountain. I went back in the summer of ‘07, but it was under construction and merely a large hole in the ground. That fountain is not just a fountain and I learned that the hard way.

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Megan Willis ‘13
Secret Garden

Megan Willis ‘13

Secret Garden