Your Flowers Sound Beautiful by Matthew Musacchio

Your roses always sounded the most beautiful. The string accompaniments of the sleepily strumming marigolds. Your planted orchestra played a symphony I never could. You were always better with your hands, dear. With the spotted lily dosing in the corner and your warm sighs, what more can I ask for?

Remember that time I tried to ape your art?

The roses I wrote down came across a gross lilac. You laughed. Of course, you would. It wasn’t my skill. Like a writer trying to garden, or a gardener trying to compose, or a composer trying to write.

So, instead of trying to replicate or imitate, I give you this.

Keep your auburn hair up. Smile with trowel in hand.

There is nothing you can say. You were really never good with words.

Instead, you choose to open your mouth, so wide magnolias threaten to spill out. You made the air a garden, glittering dust of amber rays.

My father always used to ask what I saw in you.

What happened to that boy down the road, he asks, what made you settle for the quiet one.

I could never put it into words.

But now, you. Framed in the strings of the rosy sun, I know exactly why.

I taste the drum beats of this coffee, turn back to you, and smile.

You once asked me what your voice was like to me. Colors come to mind when one speaks. Not always, but most times. The reds and blues and golds of the human voice. Your sister sounded like a quiet opera. The booming voice of my father produces the void between thunder cracks.

And here I am, basking in your botanical glow. An author wordless, what good is that?


I once heard a story from my father, back when I was a young boy, still afraid of thunder. The wife and her fisherman.

Every day he went out to sea. And every day she would draw.

He absolutely loved seeing her work. And with every completed piece, he would take them and place them in his loft, with his tools and his with his tackle. One day while looking for more canvas, she walked in on his loft.

My God, she cried out. Not a single painting was hung up. The walls were wood and bare.

So, after finishing her next piece, in the tiniest rowboat, she followed him out to sea. And what did she see? She saw him, ever so gently, slip the painting into the ocean. The gall! So, when they returned home, she confronted him.

My dear, he said, remember how I said to bury me at sea.

For that art I wish to be with forever.

What do you remind me of?

What does the sound of fireworks evoke? How do the waves that crash against the ocean smell? And what in God’s name do you do to that garden to make it sounds like that?

It’s like trying to ask what you feel when conducting. How the passion burns sweetly from every pore in your rosy cheeks.

You’d be speechless, a silence so loud even the daisies flinch.

There are many things I could say.

I could say that you sound like Dawn’s pale fingers across the sky. The long shadows of a fall sunset. A weary traveler coming home at last.

But I won’t.

I never was very good with words.

Instead, I give you the advice that every flower gave me. They whispered full bloom into my ear and wrapped me in thorns that refused to cut.

They told me to build a garden that loves you back.

I hope you will be interred within its earth, with paper trees covered in blossoming word. Trees around a rosewater pond that you or I or we may call our own.

And eventually, you’d place me in my pine box inside its gates with every marigold and rose and magnolia you ever spoke.

My dear, remember I said bury me with you?

For that art I wish to be with forever.

Transformative Slave Gothic: Hannah Crafts’s African-Americanization of Gothic Literature by Nicole Margheim

When Africans were violently brought over to America and forced under the institution of slavery, the separation from their heritage was far more than physical. Their traditional religions and practices were demonized and punished on a large scale, creating a compulsion to assimilate to the dominant culture and enforcing a more complete rupture from their various cultural pasts. The fictionalized autobiography The Bondwoman’s Narrative by Hannah Crafts, a manuscript written in the mid-nineteenth century which tells the story of a slave woman who runs away from her oppressors, deals with the tensions between the Western America and the traditional African cultures under the institution of slavery. Many scholars have noted the manuscript’s blatant appropriation of the urban gothic Bleak House by Charles Dickens in several passages, but the comparison between the Western gothic genre and Crafts’s novel goes deeper than simple copying. Crafts takes many characteristics of the Western gothic novel and incorporates them into her own work, contextualizing them in accordance to experience of slavery. In other words, she African-Americanizes them. Specifically, Crafts African-Americanizes the Western gothic literary tradition in her use of traditional folklore and oral narratives in the African-American communities under slavery. This appropriation illustrating the complicated relationship between the two cultures is furthered by Crafts’s character and persona, Hannah, through her own position within and without the African-American culture of folklore and oral narratives. Continue reading “Transformative Slave Gothic: Hannah Crafts’s African-Americanization of Gothic Literature by Nicole Margheim”

Reasons for the Pit in My Stomach by Zoe Hanna

Broken glasses at an events center

Last year, I lost my glasses at a concert.

Someone pushed me in the mosh pit and they flew away. I watched them get stepped on while I listened to the first song.

I couldn’t see a thing, but I could hear them play my favorite songs from outside the venue. I couldn’t see through the tears, I thought I might drown from them.

I tried my hardest to convince myself that I saw an opening band that I liked, that it was worth it. But I cried in the car until the concert was over.

My friend came back with broken glasses that weren’t mine.

I guess I wasn’t the only one, and that made me smile. But they probably stayed.

They could see, because I kept my tears to myself. Continue reading “Reasons for the Pit in My Stomach by Zoe Hanna”

Piles on the Lawn, Readying for the Sprinklers by Maddy Lemons

She throws the bouquet at the back of his head as he runs away. Why he thought a shitty little collection of cheap flowers would make up for what he did, she doesn’t know. Why with his secretary? A 22-year-old little slut with short skirts, tight shirts and red lipstick. He’s 55, for God’s sake. She had gotten older, as all women… no… as all people do, she thought. But he was no master prize. A fat little man with very little hair. Continue reading “Piles on the Lawn, Readying for the Sprinklers by Maddy Lemons”

Reflection by Deanna Krikorian


In her reflection in the bathroom mirror, Ashley searched for her mother. She surveyed her face, looking for features she knew weren’t there. Her tired eyes remained the wrong shade, her nose too small, her cheekbones unrefined. Despite her efforts to fabricate similarities between them, her reflection refused to change. Her older sisters, with their towering height, tight blonde curls, and clear blue eyes, were their mother’s spitting image, a feat Ashley had desired her entire life. Having just turned thirty, they had a little over a decade before they’d live longer than mom ever had, and even then they’ll still see themselves in each other. Soon Ashely wouldn’t even look like herself. “You and me,” her mom used to tell her, “we’re the same on the inside, deep down where it matters most.” It used to comfort her; now she laughed at the irony.  Continue reading “Reflection by Deanna Krikorian”

The Unfortunate Misplacement of Thumbelina by Liz Bregenzer

1. Can we even file a missing person report for a girl that’s 10-inches tall?

a. The entire police station thought this was a joke. When Tommie, a young, frantic mother, rushed into the building begging for someone’s help, the sheriff considered calling for medical transport. But then she produced a wallet-sized photograph of a wallet-sized girl, and that was when things started to get interesting.

2. Okay, ma’am, can you give us some information on your…daughter?

a. Name: Thumbelina Floweret

b. Age: 15 years

c. Height: 10 inches

d. Hair Color: Blonde, down to her calves, never been cut. Eyes: Blue, like a sky full of sun. Weight: a few grams? Medical history in the family: No idea, she’s not mine biologically, she’s mine by magic, by luck.

e. Last Seen: Sleeping in her bed. In the morning it was a crime scene: the walnut shell cradle gone, the rose petal blankets torn to shreds. A Thumbelina-sized hole poked through the window screen. Continue reading “The Unfortunate Misplacement of Thumbelina by Liz Bregenzer”

Small by Abi Grimminger

Thomas Fletcher could no longer remember when exactly it was that his light burned out. For now, he blamed God. Alright, no, it wasn’t exactly God that he blamed, though the guy wasn’t entirely innocent in this whole situation—that’s all Tom was saying. The blame, Tom reasoned as he unlocked the door to his small-town bar, should really be on himself, for not being strong enough to make it out of this town, for convincing himself to stay. Continue reading “Small by Abi Grimminger”

Oreos Are Just Cookies by Sydney Moore

An Oreo. To some this is a very delicious cookie. Crunchy chocolaty outside that seems to melt in your mouth and a silky-smooth crème filling. This is the (black) cookie that craves (white) milk. It is perfect for when everything is going wrong and just one package would be good enough to solve all the problems in the world. However, to some an Oreo isn’t just a cookie. To some it’s an insulting nickname. To me, an Oreo stopped being just a cookie a long time ago, now it means black on the outside, white on the inside. An Oreo is what I’ve been unofficially called since sixth grade, but to be honest the not so subtle racism started when I was much younger than that. Continue reading “Oreos Are Just Cookies by Sydney Moore”

Turns Out, I Would Risk My Life For A Grade by Olive Riley

For one of my classes I was assigned a piece on a pop-punk band that had started a tour around the United States. I had never heard of the band, or of the venue for that matter. Neither of those things surprised me because I am not an avid pop-punk fan, and the music venue is in a town an hour north of where I live. So I thought there should be no reason to worry about what I might get myself into. This was my last journalism class, and I didn’t want one of the last memories of this degree to be me half-heartedly working on an assignment that I had no passion for. Plus, I had done fairly well in all of my courses; I wanted to continue that pattern if I could. I was going to do my damnedest to make the experience of completing this piece something that would equate to more emotion in the final piece.

The day of the concert I looked up the address of the venue, but found nothing. I thought there may have been a chance the owners were old-school and didn’t believe in using a website; I wasn’t sure what the pop-punk crowd was into. I opted to call them instead. A man picked up and I asked where the venue was. Instead of giving me the address he asked who I was. Strange. I told him I was a student trying to cover a band playing there, and that I had gotten his phone number from one of my classmates. He asked me if I was the police. I told him no, and he begrudgingly gave me the address. This worried me a little bit, but not enough to deter me from going. I did the thing that all people who get killed in horror movies do; I justified everything creepy that happened by concluding it was just coincidence.    Continue reading “Turns Out, I Would Risk My Life For A Grade by Olive Riley”