Archive for May, 2012

Group Poem by: Jason Kolodzyk Brandon Haut Tasha Levy Hollerup Richard Plevak III Elise Boucher



1. He writes his own news with large, sullen eyes that swallow

whole towns, larger than lives,

    And blends what he “knows” with the things that he thinks through the

headlines and news-feeds and patterns of ink.
But it is nothing, in the scheme of things. Nothing that his sullen eyes
have seen and nothing that his clouded ears have heard.

That make him write with such fervor,

Such passion as the candle burns down to dim.
2. She smells his passion, inhaling fumes from the soaked, bleeding coffee filter,
discarded with his crumbled thoughts, his day’s work undone.
What did it all amount to?  They, the people, read him, but, she thinks,
do they hear his empathic scream?  Is it worth listening to?

And yet, she sits–day in, day out, scratching notes, messages, tapping keys,

Focusing on the dripping clock, on her taxi and her fiancée. And she thinks,

Is this the only place I’ll go? Or can I upturn the shredded paper soil

and late-night roots, and grow beyond the page’s fog?

3.  They stumble in circles like whirlpools, pulling the mists behind, eyes clouded and cold
and drowning in the ice they make, the shards that stab their hearts
Life-force dripping into the soft snow forms the words of their struggle:
This cycle will not end
It will be born again with you, with another, unknown
Pain and love will always be visible to us
    It is the pattern that pulls them together, threatening to tear them apart– again

What Tree May Come, by Elise Boucher

Old Pali Road Rises II, by Elise Boucher

Two Days to Rebirth, by Natasha Hollerup

Two days. For two days, Elisabeth had been nothing but flesh and bone. There hadn’t been sound or thought or touch. There hadn’t been breath or speech. Her mind remained dormant. She had been still, like a portrait or an obscure piece of art next to her other; the newly created half of her soul. She had been nothing but blood and skin. She had been nothing but a body in a bed, dressed in black as if in preparation.

When she had awakened, she thought only hours had passed. Before she could leave her bedroom, her nose started bleeding and felt sick to her stomach from the emptiness. Her limbs felt stiff and she tried to talk, but words wouldn’t come easily. Her body had begun the stages of rigor mortis, but she had only been asleep for hours. That’s what she told herself through her muddled, irritated mind, although all of the sensations she felt when she touched things were elevated and everything had otherwise pointed to her being gone for longer.

She had been told that it would be painless, to give half of herself over to him. She had been told it would be quick, but she couldn’t help but think that she’d been lied to. The tears welled in her dry, itchy eyes and she slid gracelessly to the bathroom floor, her feet tingling with awakened nerves. The blood roared in her head and she cried out. Then, there was silence; pure, blissful silence. The silence gave her a chance to fully concentrate on her thoughts and to realize that just like the dying of the day, she had become nothing and then reborn into everything.

Black and Green, by Brandon Haut




Inflames the


Bed of needles.

They snap, warp, curl, creak,

And the flames

lick the trunks

of the spruce.

Its ravenous fingers claw and grasp

The bark,

the branch,

the life.

Twist and shatter, crash and grow,

And the flames

spread their virus

to its neighbors.

All that was green has now turned to black—all that was seen is grey.

The orange overpowers

the day and the night;

It’s rampant and fervent at play.

All the men fly their planes,

creatures scatter below;

They fight,

they sweat,

they bow.

The wilderness roars at its own leisure pace and concludes with a smoldering hush.

All the forest is numb

from the charring event.

The once-noble forest is crushed.


of ash

And carbon


Are crying streams of smoke.

The scar

on the land

is a hideous sight:

A haunting graveyard scene.

But the rain—ah, the rain—and the sun—oh, the sun—mix a wond’rous concoction of time;

The seeds that fell down in the fiery blaze have been nourished in cracks underground.

How they struggle to breathe and break earth overhead; but they push, they strive, they grow.

And a towering pine reemerges alive as a miniscule model of life.

Womb, by Elise Boucher

Everywhere, the Lilacs, by Elise C. Boucher

Lily sat beside the lilacs, breathing the scent of the blossoms. She loved that smell. It would always bring her back to her childhood, and in her mind’s eye, she replayed a memory.
She was playing in the yard, the sky overcast, and the damp air heady with the spring lilacs. She looked up from her game to see her raven-haired mother cutting branches laden with lavender blooms. Mom looked to Lily, and smiled, and called, “I’m bringing spring into the house. Come help me!”
And that memory made Lily smile. She shifted her weight and dug around the base of the lilac tree, aerating the plant, then reached over to brush away some of the winter leaves that had accumulated around the base of the headstone. She’d planted this bush on the grave to give her mother another life, a living memory, and the scent of the flowers comforted her with that reminder of rebirth. Finished, she stood. She slapped away some of the dirt from her knees, then began to clip a few blooming branches from the lilac.
“I’ll visit again, soon, Mom,” she said, and her voice was tender.

Scaffold, by Elise Boucher

“Prejudices,” An Excerpt from an Essay, by Mary E. Jones

When I was around five or six years old my older brother told me, “All White people eat their boogers.” It was common knowledge in my neighborhood that whites were not only mean and nasty people; they were dreadful people who could not be trusted under any circumstances. I grew up with parents who migrated to Milwaukee from the southern, delta states of Louisiana and Mississippi. The majority of the adults living in my neighborhood and the surrounding areas came to Milwaukee under similar circumstances. Most came for new opportunities, jobs, and better housing, as well as a means of escaping the extreme racism in the southern towns they grew up in. Opinions of white people in my neighborhood were not very high. All whites were the same rotten bunch; this was the general consensus from my family and neighbors. I eventually learned all Whites are not the same. Racism is based on ignorance; therefore, unlike my parents and others, I have learned different ways of responding to racism rather than making broad and negative assumptions and generalizations about different groups or cultures.

Despite some of the faulty information I received regarding other races growing up, my general nature was and is to verify all things before fully accepting what’s being said. For instance, after my brother told me the story about white people eating their boogers, I anxiously anticipated catching them in the act. Every Sunday after church my brothers, sister, and I went to the movie theater, which was the only time I was around groups of whites. Once at the theater, I strained my neck, twisting my head and missing most of the movie trying to catch some white person eating his or her boogers; however, I could never catch them in the act. I remember my disappointment at not seeing this booger eating up close and personal. I diligently occupied myself with the task of verifying my brother’s information for a least four consecutive Sundays, when I came to the conclusion that either these people were hiding their booger eating talents well or my brother was just wrong. I eventually discovered that my brother was wrong about all White people eating boogers. After catching a few Black and Hispanic kids eating their boogers I concluded that booger eating crosses all racial boundaries. Another story that was often repeated in my youth was how Whites smelled like “wet dogs” after getting wet when it rained. I listened with a degree of skepticism; however, I had to verify that story also, which I never could. I eventually concluded from encounters with wet people, most people generally smell different after getting wet. Because of the stories I heard growing up, which were never confirmed, I learned to either seek verification or simply disregard the stories as racist stupidity.

From my personal experiences with racist people, I have learned to place blame and hold accountable the individual for holding onto ignorance and racist ideas towards other individuals or groups.  For instance, after moving to a White neighborhood when I was about ten years old, I was in a whole new world and experiencing an entirely new culture up close and personal. Most of my new neighbors were outwardly friendly and accepting towards me and my family; however, there was a man across the street who was very racist, cold, and unfriendly. This racist neighbor had a son whom he informed explicitly, “Don’t play with those dirty, uppity ^*&&#%@ across the street.” Nevertheless, the son liked playing with us, and while visiting, would naively tell us what his father said.  The boy’s mother, a very meek lady, also seemed okay with us and was congenial and friendly, totally unlike the father. The father’s behavior and attitude towards my family was ignorant and foolish compared to the other members of his family, as well as the other neighbors on the block. This man’s behaviors made it obvious to me that all whites did not feel or respond the same towards Blacks as this man did. He would actually order us out of his yard if we visited his son; I kind of enjoyed tormenting him with my presence, so I visited his yard or would walk in front of his house often when he was outside.

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In the end, racism will exist as long as there are people.  Education exposes the lies that perpetuate racism and the tendency people have of not understanding or accepting things or people that are different from themselves.

Vessel Awaits, by Elise Boucher