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Of Summer Nights

By Joe Carriere

The night races by

As music whips with the wind

Through open windows

We found the right place

The most pointless spot to sit

To do whatever

We own the summer

The hot, cloudless nights where we

Burn beneath the stars

If we are lucky

And we take time to let go

The years will bring more

If we remember

They’re still there for us to know

When we need them most

The late nights we spend

Forevering whatever

Are worth more than gold

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Airport

By Molly Boes

I wove through the crowded airport, my bag digging into my already sun burnt shoulder, my eyes set on the food court. After a week filled with fish, potatoes, fresh fruit, rice, and chicken, I was looking forward to a meal of deep fried, completely unhealthy fast food.

As I placed my bag down on the floor at the back of the long, slow moving line, I realized how much I stood out.  I was in the same boys’ basketball shorts from the day before, a hoodie, and a pair of beat up and muddied tennis shoes in a sea of tourists; of dads sporting colorful Jamaican shirts purchased in the gift shop of their resort, of moms in flowing summer dresses, of little girls with freshly braided hair. I looked at these people who looked refreshed with newly tanned skin as they excitedly chatted about their adventures on the beach and then looked at myself, with the smudge of dirt discoloring my leg, my frizzy hair pulled back, and my skin a splotchy canvas of tan and red.  I looked at my companion and knew he was sharing my thoughts – these people hadn’t been exposed to the true nature of the island – they had only seen the side of the island that money can offer you, but we, we had seen the part that is hidden in the mountains, beyond all of the resorts.

They did not have the opportunity to be swarmed by children fighting to hold your hand, they didn’t have the opportunity to help a fourth grader understand long division, they didn’t have the opportunity to be outrun by an eleven year old, they didn’t have the opportunity to eat fruit handed to them by the farmer fresh from the tree.  They had the opportunity to experience the side of the island that everyone sees in commercials, the side of the island that is catered to make people have an enjoyable vacation and bask in the Caribbean sun.

I look down at my dirtied finger nails as a man in line behind me scolds his daughter for not obeying orders and threatens to not give her lunch.  I think of all the kids I left behind as I see people rush by with a bottle of rum tucked into a bag on their way to their terminal.  I think of my host family as I see a newlywed couple sit in the hard plastic chairs, both clearly exhausted.  As I observe these people, I realize that I would never exchange my experience with any of these people.  I wouldn’t trade my experience of riding three miles up a mountain in the back of a pickup truck in the rain for a day of basking in the sun.  I wouldn’t trade my experience of eating liver for breakfast on my first morning there for a McDonald’s breakfast.  I wouldn’t trade my experience of helping students read a book for a day of shopping.

I look at my companion and know he feels the same – we have both been touched by this experience in a way that typical tourists will never know.  While they will hold memories of days spent on the beach, sipping margaritas, we will forever hold the memories of long days spent tutoring kids, playing football, learning about the culture of the island, and of taking adventures.

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Because we’re all a little out of focus sometimes.

Because we're all a little out of focus sometimes.

Photo by Alexa Von Bargen

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Final Table

By Joe Carriere

     It had been a long day at the table, and at this point, Hummel was the last person I wanted to see sitting across from me.  He was dangerous because he played like he had nothing to lose, and even though I had a decent chip lead I didn’t feel any better, because I’d seen enough people lose their money to him when they thought they were sitting pretty, and I’d heard at least four times as many stories as I’d seen.

The thing about Hummel was that he owned the room when the cards were down, and everything seemed to respect him—the cards, the table, and everyone sitting around it.  One time, I saw him spit on the table when he wanted a card turned.  Another time I saw him lose a hundred dollars on one call, only to win his money back and then some when another guy lost three hundred trying to win Hummel’s pot.  I ended up with some of that poor kid’s money too, almost accidentally; after all, I wasn’t the one that pushed the pot up to a hundred so the kid could get his pockets emptied.  But Hummel, it’s like he knew his money was coming back to him.  He hardly frowned when he missed his bet, and he had that same slight frown on his face right now.

Only a slight frown, because I had a chip lead from knocking Johnson out on the hand before, but I had never been in the final two before, not in a tournament this big.  It started with thirteen guys, all of them at least two years older than me except for the guy who invited me over, and he had been knocked out a couple hours ago.  The buy-in was twenty bucks, the most I’d ever paid to play a Texas hold ‘em tournament.  That money was probably nothing for the older kids, who all had cars and jobs and a lot more poker experience than I did, but I still played with them because the prize was huge—first place took home $120.

I wanted that money.  I’d won small pots in the past year that I’d been playing poker, but never anything this big.  This was big-time money with big-time players, my chance to show that I could hang with the older kids, to show that I wasn’t just some 16-year-old pushover.

Of course, I never thought I’d actually be sitting here at the end, one of the two who outlasted eleven other players, only one hand away from winning a hundred bucks.  But there I was, staring down the most unpredictable, reckless poker player in town.  That’s how I knew it was too good to be true; of course I’d have to play Hummel.  He wouldn’t lose to me.  But I wanted to beat him, so I was careful.  He bet big and bet often, but I never let him win a big hand.  Fold.  Fold.  Call—damn, he won that one.  Fold.  Okay I’ll play this one.

I could tell Hummel was getting fed up; his playful smile hadn’t crossed his face in ten minutes.  I needed to make something happen, or else I’d lose and be no better off than I was at the start—second place would only gain me fifty bucks and disappointment.

“All in,” Hummel said.  He’d pushed before but I had never called him because I’d be way behind if he took that many chips from me, and I was far from confident.  But we’d been dancing around the inevitable for too long, and I would have to stop being so careful if I was going to beat Hummel.

I looked at my cards.  They were pretty good, but I wasn’t sure if they were good enough.  Then again, I’d seen Hummel push all in on bad cards before, and he was getting impatient; this could be the one that won it, that put me on top.  $120 and respect.

I looked up and saw Hummel, waiting for me to say something.  I looked at the other guys still sitting around the table, waiting to see something happen, to see one man win it all and the other go home disappointed.  I figured it was about time to give them what they wanted.

I smiled at Hummel.  “Call.”

Turns out everybody gets lucky sometimes.

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A lil’ art to get things mood

Hello everyone.

The first deadline to submit is tomorrow and we’re doing good so far! About 50 submissions are in and they keep coming!

 

Check out this art by the lovely Hannah Baker and get inspired.

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A Helpful Resource

By Molly Boes
This is not a poem, nor a short story, nor a piece of graphic artwork. Instead, it’s a helpful resource for you writers out there.
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So are you looking to write your own piece to submit, but fighting a losing battle with writer’s block or unsure about how exactly to write a poem or short story?
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If so, or if bored, visit: http://www.creative-writing-now.com/short-story-ideas.html for useful hints as well as a variety of different prompts for writing fiction and poetry.
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We’re always looking for more submissions so check the link out and get writing.
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Domestic Terrorists

By Alexa Von Bargen
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I spent my time playing Polly Pockets with friends in grade school. I’d devote hours to setting up the doll town, the house, the wardrobe…but after the family was situated and beautifully posed in their dream home, there was nothing more to do. The figurines were all too small or delicate to really ‘play’ with and it usually took so long to set the whole place up that I was sick of it by the time we were ready for action. So what could we do then? We’d leave it, the entire Polly Pocket town set up inconveniently starting in the middle of the floor and working its way up steps and chairs onto desks and coffee tables. There they would sit for a few days at least, a tripping hazard and painful intrusion on my mom’s feet. After repeated requests and eventually orders to “Clean up that mess!” I’d stage an atomic bomb, a tornado, a meteor shower, a dinosaur invasion, maybe even an earthquake. Some type of disaster would unexpectedly hit our dream town and demolish all of Polly’s dearest belongings. A few characters would die, some would be permanently injured, and all would be devastated. Then we’d be interested in playing with the dolls again.
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I was drawn to pain, anguish and hopelessness. We’re so sheltered in our lives today, numbed from the world around us, that we crave the disaster in our stories, in our doll towns, in our minds and in our imagination. It stretches us to imagine what we need to survive and what we could live without. There’s some sort of terrorist tendency inside of us interested in experiencing and exploring that which we have not.
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And why shouldn’t we? If you think of all the ‘exploring’ some adults do with ruining their lives, it makes you wish we’d gotten it all out of our systems as kids, with Polly Pocket and G.I. Joe. We have this presupposition to build ourselves these perfect lives in perfect homes with perfect jobs and perfect families. We spend all of our time, energy and resources in the construction, but once it’s built we realize we’re actually kind of sick of it all. So we leave it, take a vacation and avoid the world we’ve spent our entire lives building. Eventually, we destroy it. We gamble and lose all of our savings. We drink and cheat on our husbands. We stop dreaming and imagining and let ourselves fall into dismay and ruin, the aftermath of an atomic bomb we welcomed into our lives.
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I recognized early on that I enjoyed the giant earthquake of my small six-year-old body in Polly Pocket town far more than my friends did. As they cried when I knocked over the dollhouses, I reveled in the feeling of the miniature plastic chair digging into the skin of my big toe, of toy cars crashing into my legs; I wanted things to fall at my feet.
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