Writers of the Month: June 2017

Poet of the Month, June 2017

Lindley Rose Yarnall

My name is Lindley Rose Yarnall, and I have spent the majority of my twenty-nine years as a walking contradiction. Hopelessly romantic and perpetually realistic, I use my writing to reinterpret life experiences and examine the what-ifs pinballing around in my brain. As hopeless a romantic as I may be, however, I’ve never been very good at writing happy, whimsical pieces. To borrow an Anne of Green Gables phrase, my best work typically emerges from analyzing my “depths of despair.” Even the most skillful of writers cannot change history, but I find it therapeutic to try. A lot of my poetry focuses on people in my life that I have somehow lost. It’s a way for me to say the things I wish I still could.

“Memory Thief” is my second poem published by 1932 Quarterly. Like the first, this piece is about my brother and how his death has impacted me. No matter what anybody says, there is nothing quite like losing a sibling; it leaves a void nobody else can fill. Inside jokes and childhood memories mean the most when you remember them with the person who lived through those moments with you firsthand. Although they are a poor substitute for the real thing, my poems are a way for me to honor that sibling bond, and to share my perspective of Jesse with other people – those who remember him like I do, and those who never had the chance to meet him.

 

Memory Thief

You are not who I remember
when I see you now.
You are
soft edges and
lost tomorrows,
a boy who thought that he could borrow
all the time in the world.

You are not who I remember
when you come drifting through my dreams.
You are
a gap in the frequency
and forgotten yesterdays.
You are blurry features
that drift away
right before I wake.

You are not who I remember
when I imagine time that we have lost.
You are
our father’s grief
and a memory thief;
the brightest smile I have known
and a void my mind can’t leave alone,
even when I sleep.


Prose Author of the Month, June 2017

Sonja Laaksonen

My name is Sonja Laaksonen and my experience with writing isn’t too extravagant, but not too boring either, I don’t think.

My past wasn’t necessarily ideal, and I fell into cycles of abuses to not just myself, but towards others as well. I won’t bore you with that dark-and-twisty backstory, but I feel as though it does influence my writing style.

I will tell you this:

The issue with being medicated is that you lose part of yourself in the process: you question how much of you was “you,” and how much was the “disease.” But, if this diagnoses is a part of you, doesn’t that make it “you?” Undesired behaviors (Well, deemed “undesirable” by society) and all?

My writing tends to be darker and more morbid, which lie hand in hand with some of my darker interests.

“Judgement,” is one of the lighter pieces of prose I have written, but still hints towards aspects of the human experience. The concept of guilt is made apparent, but there is some ambiguity over who exactly is experiencing it, if at all.

Should one feel guilty for what they’ve done if they themselves do not consider it wrong? Who has the right to enact judgment? Why?

These questions creep into my mind whenever I think of my personal existence or behaviors. Is who I am wrong, even if I do not feel bad about who I am? If I exist, how can certain parts of me be wrong?

Do I even know who I am? Do any of us? We are the trees, the soil, the stars. We are timeless energy, the universe in ecstatic motion. Perhaps we are all just here for a brief while, searching for, and waiting for ourselves. Perhaps it’s okay to “not know.”

 

Judgement

When left in high sun in the midst of summer, it takes approximately 7-10 minutes for the interior of a standard car to reach upwards of 120 degrees. If the vehicle is dark in color, this time is shortened. A curator examines a similar formula when the fever of daylight exceeds 80 degrees during funeral processions: he will specifically place the polished metal or lavish wood finish of the coffin, cocooning a corpse, in an air-conditioned mausoleum or beneath a sheltered shadow for ceremony purposes. After the procession, the conductors and priests immediately separate the remains from the remainder of the ceremony’s company, and lower the casket to the depths of the raw earth before the sultry blaze of high noon gets the chance to replace the perfume of the elegant bouquets with the stench of decay.

His body convulsed rhythmically, quivering like a schoolboy pinning his first corsage, as his father hauled him from the pried open porta-potty. The boy’s head held in place by his father as his body coiled, his vertebras digging craters into the dirt. Unblinking eyelids revealed petrified pupils that constricted so much so that irises of sea foam blue dissipated any remnants of onyx. I stared: they were clasped open, unresponsive. A chipped tooth revealed itself behind parted, dusty cracked lips trembling tenderly. A faded baby blue t-shirt clung to his meager frame in a new hue of navy, beads of sweat clung to swollen, crimson blushed flesh. Once blonde hair singed together in saturated, disheveled bronze mats. Breathing rampant.

My hands clammy, eyes wide as his. My mother kneeled beside me, her frail fingertips clinging to my shoulder-blades.

“It’s not your fault,” his mother calls, on her knees, tear stained cheeks even with his tormented body, her hands shaking in unison with his frame and my own, stroking his decrepit visage.

“It’s not your fault,” my mother whispers.

In Anglo-Saxon culture, court officials woulds place a stone in a cauldron of water, which was then heated. The fire was removed and witnesses and the accused gathered around the bowl. In order to determine fault, the accused then had to take the boiling hot stone out of the cauldron, and carry it a certain distance. The impaired hand of said accused was then mended, wrapped delicately in sterile bandages. After several days, the wound was examined. If the wound was progressively healing, with no fester or infection, the accused was considered innocent and accepted back into the community, and by the moral eyes of God.

Lurking beneath the obscure canopies of towering maples, ash woods and pines was only us, illuminated by the dim glare of bisque ember flickering against the otherwise pitch landscape extending beyond into the forest’s abyss. My mother balances metal rods intended for marshmallows on the edge of one of the river stones, “It’s to kill the germs. Cleans the bad stuff,” she coos through the brisk windchill, the silver pokers boasting florid glows as the flames lap at the encased hardware. I extend my continuously trembling fist forward, the crackle of the torrid timber replaced with that of my harrowing howl, the thicket of woods stoic in response. My father scooped my minuscule torso from the flame, the few embers that managed to cling to his polished trench quickly evaporated into a modest smokescreen as he immediately dunked my right hand into the frigid cooler to his left, a thin film resembling tissue paper sliding from the bones and tissues of my paralyzed palm and coating the surface of the melted ice. The repugnant stench of scorched flesh mangled with that of charred hair, both visuals masked by the now choked flare exhibited from the makeshift fire-pit.

“Dante’s Inferno” opens on the evening of Good Friday in 1300. Traveling through a wood, Dante had lost his path and now wanders aimlessly through the forest. After attempting to climb a mountain guarded by three beasts, Dante returns to the dark wood to find Virgil. Virgil acts as Dante’s guide as the pair journey through Hell. Dante bears witness to the various punishments experienced by a multitude of sinners of various degrees. Whilst going deeper into the Seventh Circle of Hell, Dante meets an old patron, walking among the souls of those who were violent toward Nature on a desert of burning sand. The pair continue. By the end of the tale, Dante encounters a large, mist-shrouded form. He approaches it, finding it to be the enormous Lucifer, plunged deep into the ice that coats the ninth cycle. His body pierces the center of the earth, where he fell when God hurled him down from Heaven, unforgiven in the eyes of God.

“It wasn’t your fault…what happened last week..” the words slide off my mother’s tongue like venom, her thin lips pursed as her manicured tips clawed into my armpits, prying me up from the weathered floorboards and sitting me on the edge of the cabin’s sink. “That boy shot a fox. You didn’t mean to lock him in that porta-potty for so long…” her breath faltered, her eyes transfixed on any space besides the one I occupied. I clicked my light up sneakers together, the echo of the soles’ dried dirt collapsing to the oak boards below my dangling, bruised knees breaking the hollowed silence. She firmly toyed with my treated hand, the clatter of the first aide kit causing me to jerk momentarily as she fumbled for an ointment that stung. She slowly picked away at the layer of tape on the folds of the dressing, unwrapping my mummified limb carefully. As she peeled away the final compress, a layer of skin peeled with the gauze, revealing infected pus-infused blisters, stained rose.