Sunday, 16 November 2008

Smoky Mountains

My parents took me to the Smoky Mountains when I was 9 years old. I remember getting out of the car and tipping my head back so far to look at the looming pyramids that I could feel the pockets of skin wrinkle on the back of my neck. Our cabin was dark and dusty and nestled at the foot of the mountains. Through our red fabric window-coverings we could see the small town laid out before us.

Of particular interest to me was the water slide located directly behind our little cabin. It was summer and the water slide was the only thing that seemed like fun in a little village such as this one. This slide was not your ordinary slide. It started at the top of one of the mountains and ended in a pool of chlorine close to the back door of our cabin.

As soon as my dad said I could go on ahead while he paid, I was out the door. I could hear the water rushing down the mountain and the voices of children and adults alike whooshed past me and ended with a splash. I watched excitedly as I climbed the steps to the top.

I looked down from the peak at the winding groove of concrete I was to descend upon. I was then handed a blue piece of spongy material, told to lie on my stomach and hold on. I did.

The first blast of water hit me from behind so hard it forced a scream from my throat and my sponge and me down the mountain. I was surprised when I came to a complete stop at the top third of my ride. Confused, I was suddenly and even more forcefully hit with a second burst of water that pushed me further down the slide. Unfortunately my sponge was taken out from under me and travelled solo all the way down to my waiting parents.

The third blast rocketed me on my bare hipbones toward the same destination as my formerly partnered sponge. The pain of my bones on rocky concrete sent chilling screams from my mouth to my parents ears. My toes, unprotected by shoes, bore down on the concrete in a futile attempt to brake my ever-increasing speed down the mountain. I could see my parents running to meet me where my horrific ride would end, terror written on their faces.

I hit the pool with a titanic force but it was like being baptized. Under the water, despite the sting of chemicals in my wounds, I had been cleansed, enlightened and there was no more horror, if only for a minute. I breathed out from my core into the thick, syrupy water all my pain and hung in mid-air until my lungs ached for oxygen.

When I emerged, I stood crying in the chest-deep water before my parents, my blue sponge floating peacefully next to me. I got out of the pool and saw the faces staring at my body. Two protruding, milky bones lay atop the bottom of my bikini while streaks of blood made their way down my legs to mingle with the blood spilling from the knuckles in my toes.

I had made my way down my first adult water slide and my dad said, “I ran as fast as I could and your mother still got to you before I did”. My eyes had been opened.

by Amy Irons, IUSB

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Untitled Work In Progress.

He opened his eyes and was greeted by the sky. A sky deeper and wider than any he had seen before. Impossibly vast and richly orange, streaked with crimson wounds, as if scarred by the claws of some colossal beast.
His hands clenched around the ground behind him, it shifted and flowed between his fingers. Sand? So he was lying on his back, that much was sure, although little else could be. Why was there sand? He listened for the sea, but it was either not there, or was holding its breath.
With great labour he tilted his head to the left, the movement causing his brain to swill inside his hollow skull like water. Once his mind had settled into its new position he reopened his eyes in order to survey the latest vista offered to him.
Mountains frowned at him from the horizon, their faces squinting to make out the solitary figure lying face up in the sand; an intruder in this, their realm. It was their shadow that covered the desert when the fat orange sun set behind them and their dominion went perpetually unchallenged. So who was this infiltrator? Who dares to come here and lounge in the sands with not a care in the world? Did he not know that this country was mountain kingdom? A place where such slovenly behaviour was held in the highest contempt.
From what he could see, the sun was in transit, the tangerine glow of the sky was evidence enough of that... But up or down? Was he gazing into the east or the west? Time will tell, he supposed, but he needed a new activity to pass said time. After much silent deliberation he decided to try and roll his head across to the right but after several moments of excruciating effort he was once again facing skywards and possessed not the energy to continue his rotation.
Instead he endeavoured upon a new quest, he decided to attempt to speak. Not with any intent to communicate (he was quite certain he was alone in this place) rather to ascertain whether his vocal chords had failed him as well as his muscles.
“Where am I?” Was all he could muster before bidding consciousness goodbye as it left him once more.

Jack McManus

God's Patio

The city is ancient
This is but the newest layer.
Remnants of the archaic
Sprout up through cracks in the new.
Like weeds in God’s patio.

Trendy flats and
Yuppie bars fail to mask
The throbbing pulse of a living place steeped
in a history
That locals would rather hide.

But here and there,
It breaks through.
Redundant watchtowers survey
Whilst exhausted gargoyles stand guard
Against evil spirits long since retired.

Behind the tourist façade
You can count back the years
Like the rings of a tree.
Shells of industry, scraped empty and left
Hollow and daubed
With the anonymous signatures
Of those who are yet to forget.

I walk here; Not as a native,
But a denizen nonetheless.
This place of three years exile
Has become home.
And I feel as much a part of it
As the ancient walls that once defended it.

Jack McManus

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Gus and Snow

I remember walking down to the lake with Gus. The snow had fallen over night and was still gently swirling in the air around us. Gus was a big dog. He stood well over six feet on his hind legs, and his belly easily cleared three feet when he was on all fours. The snow was up above his belly, and he had to plow through it. He loved it.

As we made our way toward the lake’s edge, I gazed at the snow bedecked trees, their braches overfull and sagging heavily. This morning they had been spun of fine glass and were etched into the frosted air. It was as if they existed partly in my world and partly in a world of myth or fantasy. The word had become white and ice, and it was alive with a crystalline beauty.

Nothing moved except Gus and I as we wandered through a world that had transformed into something magic and fragile. He would occasionally bounce over a drift and fling the snow playfully at me with his hind feet, but mostly we walked and stopped to take in the fleeting beauty. Catching my breath and stealing it away to dance with the frost, the wind was our constant companion. It played with my hair and whispered of mysteries just out of reach.

As we cleared the trees, we were not greeted by the familiar sight of the water. It had been covered by a vast blanket of snow. This great plain of virgin snow had stolen the lake. Nothing stirred on that plain and the wind hurtled across it and howled a lonely wail.

by Ann Galvin, IUSB

Monday, 3 November 2008

Damage, Death, Sadness and Quiet in New Orleans, Louisiana

In November of 2005 I took a horrifying walk through the devastated city of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina had hit. One of the first things that I noticed was that there were not as many people around when I last visited. The city used to be lively and full of happy people, but this time the few people I saw were just focused on getting through another difficult day. The streets lay quiet and full of the depreciation of businesses that once were bustling with customers. As I walked along, I saw that the water damage was definitely eminent in certain areas. There were water lines on the structures of buildings and on the exposed walls of residential housing. The air even smelt of mildew. Walking further, I became aware of all the garbage piled on corners and on the front lawns of houses. People were outside trying to pick through it all to see if anything of value had been thrown away.

I went down a street that I visited years ago that had gorgeous houses and a picturesque view of the ocean from their backyards. Kids used to play in the streets laughing and parents used to sit on the front porches chatting with neighbors. This time when I walked down the street I instead saw just the structures of these houses, furniture thrown on the front lawns, and FEMA trailers on some properties. The beautiful view of the ocean was overshadowed by the horrifying destruction that hit this street. On the walls or on the front doors of the houses there were spray painted numbers indicating the deaths of the people who lived there. One house read “3 dead and 1 dog”, which meant three people and one dog were found dead. It was hard to keep my composure and I began to hate the view of the ocean that lay before me. It was a constant reminder of why things were the way they were in New Orleans.

One of the last places I visited had to be in the car, so I went for a drive. The highway that leads right into the city was one of the ways that the water from the levees spread so fast. As I drove along I saw the water damage on the dividers and on the trees that surrounded the highway. When the first levy had given way for the water to invade the city of New Orleans, there were some cars on the road with people in them. I tried to imagine what these people were thinking of when they saw millions of gallons of water approaching them, but I did not want to picture it. It was unimaginable.

This city was full of sorrow and of destruction. Even in November of 2005, not much had been done to help the people of New Orleans. The area that once was full of happiness, music, culture, and life was now full of damage, death, sadness, and quiet. Hurricane Katrina had taken its power to the fullest extent on this city and it would be a long time before it would ever be the same.

By Victoria Ebbinghousen of SPC


142 Vroom St., Jersey City

Photo by Carmin Aguiles

This is a local Egyptian place near campus. On any given day you can spot some of the English Club members, as well as other SPC students puffing away hookah or munching on pitas and hummus. Our goal is to get Dr. Wifall to come along with us. We have not figured out how to yet, but a plan is in the works.

Please feel free to add your stories here.

Friday, 31 October 2008

SPC English Club

Here is the English Club of Saint Peter's College.
From left: Danielle, Victoria, Jonathan, Tristan H., April, Mike, Tristan M., Carmin--and, last but not least, Liz in front.
Sinclair was not present at this event, which was a baking party at my, Dr. Wifall's, apartment. Speaking of place, I think that everyone was interested to see where and how I live (the private side of someone whom they always see in a professional setting). The next day we had a Halloween party on campus, during which we had a creepy poetry/prose reading, and we wrote short stories in a "Mad Libs" fashion (each person around a table contributes a sentence). One of these was inspired by our party at my apartment, but perhaps it was too ridiculous to post here. To paraphrase from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Let's not go there; it's a silly place"...or should we?

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Let's Get to Know Each Other!

Questions from Indiana to England and New Jersey...Here's who we are:
Back: Ryan, Kerri, Jordan, Jennifer, John, Ben, and Mitch (two thumbs up!)
Front: Lorinda, Marian, Laura, Ann

Who are you?
Our class of fiction writers came up with a number of questions that we hope the DMU and St. Peter's students will answer. We'll ask just a few here for starters, and we hope you'll post your answers in the comments box (until we figure out a better way to do it). And we'll write in too.

a. What are the differences between the perceptions and realities of your home city/state/country?

b. What do you like to read? And what do you have to read for literature/writing courses? (And do British students have to read as much American lit as we have to read British?)

c. How much and where have you traveled?

Please post responses in the comments box!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Under the Bridge

I dont ever want to feel

Like I did that day

Take me to the place I love

Take me all the way

Under the bridge downtown

Is where I drew some blood

Under the bridge downtown

I could not get enough

Under the bridge downtown

Forgot about my love

Under the bridge downtown

I gave my life away

-"Under the Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

I love my family, most of the time. When battles occur within the walls of what is supposed to be my safe haven, I hate them. For over ten years I had to fight against parents, siblings, and emotions. That was until I became a capricious runaway, only sneaking into my house at two in the morning to eat something. I actually started to keep things there since I knew it would be a matter of days and sometimes even hours before I would return.

I always went to the same place, underneath a bridge less than a mile away. I had been driven across this bridge every school day for seven years, and never gave a second thought to it, never knowing it would be the most important place to me. I ran away one day and I went to that bridge, and since then it has been my favorite place.

My bridge crosses the railroad tracks that run parallel to my street. It breaks into three compartments, the middle being where the train tracks are, but I always stay on one side, I have gotten used to it.

I would sit on the ground, stare at the graffiti covered wall and cry. If it was a really intense fight that would drive me from my house, I would hit the walls untill my hands were numb, bloodied, and one time even broken. I always had problems coping, and being under the bridge gave me a place to express things anyway I wanted, be it scream, cry, or something worse.

No one ever knew where I was. People only went down there to spray paint the walls, but I was never there the same time someone else was. I loved the graffiti, well most of it. One picture, that still remains there, is imbedded in my memory. It is of a a man in a skirt with a big head, big feet, and big eyes. It always made me smile, no matter what had gone wrong.

I still go there anytime I am home, just to see the man. But when I go there, it isn't because something went wrong, it is because I want to be there. Now being under the Bridge allows me to see how much I have grown. I no longer runaway, I stand and face my fears.

(My favorite piece of work from under the bridge. Thanks to someone I wish I knew.)

-Saint Peters College

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Lake Otsego

Our cousins always knew the best places. An essentially flat lake with a light sandy bottom and only curious minnows to nibble at and swim between our toes, Lake Otsego was the perfect playground for seven cousins under 12 years old. The water was so perfectly crystalline that I loved to watch as I dug my toes into the sand to churn it up into mini under-water storms. Even the minnows didn’t mind this slight disturbance from the feet of a 10-year-old child. Instead, they quickly swam just out of arm’s reach beyond the swirling pellets of sand, and then slowly made their way back when the white grains slowly fell back to the bottom. Peace was once more restored to the calm surface of the lake.
Having grown up playing in the almost ocean-like enormity of Lake Michigan, I was used to water which was at times rough, and which always quickly rose over my head. Lake Otsego, though, was no more than 3 feet deep as far out from the shore as our mothers would allow us to bravely venture. Though northern summers were short, the flat pancake of lake warmed quickly, and as I sat in the water and felt the gentle lapping of the waves wash over me, I was soon lulled into a state of relaxation almost unheard-of for a spontaneous, rambunctious 10-year-old child.
Once our fingers became pruny and we tired of minnows slipping through our fingers as we tried to grasp one after another to take home with us, our mothers would wave us into shore with the promise of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Ritz crackers, and soft, warm towels. Most of the glorious white sand was in the lake and the beach was but a brief thread, so pine needles and dry grass stuck to our feet and clung to the insides of our toes as we ran ashore. We would later spend hours trying to pick these needles out from between our toes. For the moment though, the immediacy of the warmth of our mothers’ arms as they wrapped us in great cotton towels that smelled of the outdoors was enough to sustain us until we were rested enough to make another venture into the clear, spring-like waters of Lake Otsego.

~ Laura Fox, IUSB

Friday, 24 October 2008

First impressions of KL

Walking through the sprawling streets, through a bazaar of stalls and smells and women selling nuts and sitting cross-legged on the floor selling brightly coloured headscarves and it’s hot and cramped and there’s loud Bollywood music blaring out from a nearby shop and it makes you dizzy but it ‘all adds to the atmosphere’ and as you look up a train whizzes by in the air and there’s concrete, and there are lights up, up into the sky and it’s like you’re in the gutter, the people are in the gutter whilst this monster of a capital city peers down.


Beehive Lane

And when the blue sky finally rises
putting out the artifice of
amber lights,
once powerful against
the black of night,
there will be a burst,
a furious hive
of life,
spurred on
by little more than instinct
and robotic necessity.

And when the white and blue,
appears at last,
there will be quiet,
stillness in the gardens
of worker bees,
flowers dancing
in a morning breeze,
to a music unheard,
with notes of love,
with the people gone
and the houses vacant,

And when the amber returns,
the sky blackens,
these glowing windows,
bear witness,
to flickering shadows,
honey light
behind thin cloth,
moving bodies
and casual gestures
of life,
tawdry curtains drawn
on the amateur theatre.

Maria Taylor, UK

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Remembering A Place

The tapping of the rain, trickles in my ears,
My mind slowly wakes and before me all appears
As it was when I drifted into peace the previous night,
But more vivid now
It's illuminated under a new day's winter light.

Outside the morning's grey and veiled with a mist,
Someone calls my name, but this comfort I can't resist.
This rectangle of rest: pillows, quilts and sheets,
My ever ready friend, my weariness it defeats.

The simple smell of fresh linen, another reason to not part
With this perfect nest, from which every morning must start.
Engulfed between these covers I hear the rain turn to hail
And smile to myself because I know now I will fail

To leave this protection against winter weather
And the cold.
This cocoon in which I hide,
Where I'll stay until I'm old.

A.Fearn of DMU

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Rough, Kentucky

About an hour’s drive southeast of the Fort Knox Military Reservation in Kentucky is the Rough River Dam State Resort. It is located in the town of Fall of Rough, Kentucky. I can’t be sure, but it sounds like the name of the town for which it was called was Rough, Kentucky. Someone had something to say about that area. What I remember was a picnic area strewn along the road on the way to a broad stream. The two-lane road made a broad sweep around the side of a mountain. The terrain between the road and the stream gently rolled downward. Redwood picnic tables on cement slabs and blackened brick grills dotted the area at intervals designed to give picnickers a bit of privacy even in the outdoors.

Whenever one of the twelve families in our apartment complex had the moving company in to pack up their belongings (and being in the military, we all moved every three years) some of the other families would take the children from the complex to Rough River Dam State Resort. The moves were planned to occur during the summer so that the children’s school year was not interrupted. That meant that Rough River Dam State Resort was always green and steamy when we visited. The boughs of huge trees gave some shade from the sun whose rays streamed through like a sieve. We were sent as a group to play in the stream while the parents cooked hot dogs and hamburgers and put out chips, mustard, catsup and cokes. We were warned to stay in the area as the river was rough up and downstream.

There were a few big boulders to be seen above water, but the river bottom was made up of many small smooth pebbles in innumerable shades of brown, grey and cream, and soft squishy sand. The water was always cold and clear. We started out in sneakers, wading into the water and standing around testing it out. Before long, the sneakers were thrown up onto the bank and we were barefoot, looking for pebbles to take home as mementos of the day. If the day was very, very warm a brave few sat down in the stream and let the cold water gently push past. On rare occasions very tiny fish could be seen nearer the banks. Experience had taught that they were also very fast.

I have never tried to find that spot again. I think it resides best in my memory.

~ Marian Zuehlke, IUSB

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The lake

I woke up fast, a passing between sleeping and being fully awake that wasn’t a passing, but happened more like the flick of a switch. One moment I was dreaming about what I wanted to do while I awake, and the next moment I was there, ready to go and do it. I hopped out of bed, already wearing the brown shorts that I wore all day yesterday and would wear all day today. The dirt and sand had hardened the cotton into pants that somehow seemed better than they would if they had just come out of the dryer. They knew what I went through, and they were ready for more. Just like me waking up, there was no break in period for my shorts, it was instant action. I ran past the bathroom, loving the fact that my mom hadn’t intercepted and made me brush my teeth. I opened the front door and breathed in the air that could only come off of a diamond lake bay. The sun, though it was scorching, did not phase my skin, which had become as bronze as a penny. Most of it was tan, but of course, some of it was dirt. I looked at the donut’s and hoped to God there was one with sprinkles, and thanks be to God, there was. I ate a donut and drank an ice cold coke while walking down to the sand to let my toes know where I was and what kind of day I was going to have.

The day would pass, full of ice cold cokes, more than enough candy, and all the swimming and sand bar football a human body can handle. When that would get boring, the jet ski was fired up, and I would run the hell out of it, throwing 360’s at top speed, doing everything in my power to get myself in a situation where I would fall. This however, hardly happened. If careers were built on jet ski skill I wouldn’t be in college today. My fiancé, though she hates swimming, would be right there with me, through it all, smiling as she mostly sat and watched as I ran around the lake with enough energy to power Chicago for a week.

Then, as it got dark, everyone there would tell me it’s time for a bonfire, and I would go around looking for magazines that no one will ever read, and I’d give them to my cousin to crumple up while I took my brother and fiancé to an undisclosed spot in the truck to go get a hidden stash of firewood back in the woods. The ice cold cokes were replaced by ice cold beer, and the bonfire would bring out conversations which had a depth that a philosophy class could only hope to match. I would be the last one to go to sleep when the fire and the conversation died down, because times like those are ones that I never want to end.

~Deric Poorman
i'm distressed
and i slip into a dream
in an alley by an auburn brick wall
and you lean up against me.

your fingers were mine,
and your eyes and your pain
and we were the same.

and i'm not quite sure
which one of us
was the intoxicated one.
i always felt drunk
but i never touched the stuff.

now i know why i cried back then.
that time, when nothing was wrong.
i cried then
the way that i can't now
because you froze me.

claire genevieve, dmu.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Twenty-four hours in a van saturated with the smell of puke. Nine changes of baby outfits and one stop at Wal-Mart for more clothes. Finally, we arrive in Vicksburg, Mississippi and take the first over-priced motel we find that is in walking distance of a restaurant. The baby is weak and pale, and I am worried beyond grief.

Mississippi – the place known to the rest of the United States as backwoods; the place I must now seek medical care for my infant daughter from an unknown doctor and unknown hospital. I have no idea which physician should be trusted with the care of my child, so I call the insurance company to get a reference. At least, it is better than playing Russian roulette with the phone book. Then, I arrive and there is an institutional feel to the multi-story building built in the late 70’s. I wait in a line surrounded by working-class people sitting in molded plastic institutional chairs. The baby in my arms does not move except for shallow breathing.

The doctor is warm and friendly. He lays the baby on the table. Her stomach sags skin. Is that normal? – he asks. No – I reply, shocked that I missed this new feature. Suddenly, undressed, she spews a puddle of diarrhea across the examining table. Sorry, sorry – I say embarrassed. Don’t worry about it – he says and calls the nurse in to take a sample. The diagnosis is dehydration from Rotavirus.

The hospital is warm and welcoming. A café surrounded by plants is located in its center. The food is delicious. My husband and I discuss what to do with our two boys. Why do our vacations always begin with someone getting sick? – he asks, vowing to never travel again.

They place my daughter in a jail-like crib and connect her to IVs. I am stationed on a fold out bed next to her. Nurses check frequently to see if I am comfortable. They allow me to hold my daughter as often as I want. My husband and boys visit the Civil War battlefield, a miniature museum, and an old mansion. I do not get to see all this history, but I find myself drawn to watching the local public access station on the television. Better than a reality show because it is real, Vicksburg city council records and airs its meetings. I watch captivated with the public complaints and the mayor’s attempts to deal with them. During the day, I learn tips on transplanting clippings and watch an exercise program at the senior center. I feel I am a part of local life.

Over the next two days, my daughter gains strength. She gains weight. The doctor visits and tells us he will keep her and extra day to make sure she does not start again further down the road. When we check out of the hospital, we visit the first Coke factory and another mansion with a cannonball still stuck in the wall. The boys are thrilled and fascinated, but I am relieved. I will always remember Vicksburg for the great medical care, kind hospital staff, and interesting city council meetings. More importantly, I will remember Vicksburg for healing my child despite the rest of the nation’s prejudice against Mississippi. What tourist attractions can compare with that?

~ Jennifer Reinoehl, IUSB

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Fresher Person

It was madness that had brought her here,
The kind that could not be defined by mere words and puzzles.
A place where earthquakes die.
Where fate vomits its contents onto the misery of life.

A place where hope is lost for some,
Yet found for others within the dreams of passed souls.
She found solace in the idea of love,
Ease in being held by the chains of passion.

Then she found love was a myth mimicking truth,
The journey she had taken was false,
She had been trapped within a labyrinth of emotions.
Now she could not retrace her steps.

It was madness that had brought her here,
The kind that consumes you until you are nothing,
Making you question your whole being,
Leaving you as nothing but an idea in the mind of others.

Kimberly Redway
DMU University

Thursday, 16 October 2008


The boughs, twisted like caked with morning frost

Spiral overhead in snowflake mazes

A thousand piece jigsaw with no edges

Dead leaves whirl in forgotten corners

Knocked loose by the endless harvest

Left to rot in the Indian Summer

No sunset for the Orchard

Where fruit is always in season



Now, I don’t know where to begin,
So starting at the end makes sense.
The light has departed without a goodbye and,
Within seconds, the night has arrived without an invitation.

My mind is blanker than a clean page.
Here I am, guilty without being charged,
Without one knowing what I have committed.
I didn’t have time to correct but I still made mistakes.

That dark place surrounds me like a claustrophobic surrounded by walls.
As the minutes pass I know what to be expecting,
But for now, during these hours that darkness talks to me,
The night’s silence is the loudest form of communication.

I am shadow of death.
I cannot accept innocence.
That guilty conscious won’t allow to me
I am liable for the murder of time.



Stone cold temple,
Voices long dead echo on the inside.
Enclosed and isolated
Screeching metal reverberates off the outside.
A place for tramps and stoners
Waiting for something to change or happen.

A sanctuary of old
Submerged in a city it does not know.
Decay takes time
But time takes eternity
Once you become obsolete.

C. Stevens DMU

Remembering Places

Half cast the globe Rolls

Around its invisible polls,

Sweeping clouds build

They cloak the world.

Watching a flock of birds crowd the air for space-

As though there weren’t enough.

Old memories: shine on like the shimmering shoals shifting through

The water rolling gently over the stones,

Dappled in leaf shadow.

Star shine

Illuminates, Moon light glows and half the world rests

Whilst the other Flows.

With brisk wind brushing the grass,

The fields from the hills,

Sparrows swoop and drop

Depths unseen that no one knows.

It all reminds me

There is no certainty.

But there is Beauty.

Russ Staples DMU.

Shona's Snow

‘Is it easy for someone to be trapped here?’ thought Shona.

For the past few moments Shona had taken several swirled looks at the houses, the trees and the ground that were collected together to form a crooked street.

Snow had fallen leaving a layer on the ground, fine and delicate. Any footstep that Shona made, her regulated print would appear, along with a crack that would run for several centimetres to the side.

Usually on the road that the street connects to would be full of hasten and panic that only traffic could create. Now there was nothing.

With tiny flecks of snow still falling at a quiet pace, Shona somehow didn’t feel alone.

This was strange. She had come to the street to be by herself.

She ran!!!

To get some measure of warm feeling running through her blood again Shona had to run. There was contentment for cold weather in her, but not today. Not in this street.

Sprinkling snow upwards from her kicking feet there was now a nightmarish appearance to her surroundings.

It was cut off...cutting off from any other part of the world. The street had two openings and now both of them had a large air-filled sheet of film, rising from the ground and blurring whatever was meant to be on the other side of it.

Around her the trees, although remaining still were growing longer and more twisted branches, some reaching into the sky, the others pointing to what Shona horrifyingly imagined as her chest.

The number of surrounding large houses gave barely any comfort. Each window in every one of them held a heavy white curtain. To Shona it was clear that no one was to so much as peek out. There was no one to do so.

Seeking some warmth Shona stepped up to the nearest tree. It was the closest thing that was alive.

Almost hugging it but coming to her senses, Shona then skipped a couple of steps around the tree. All of a sudden the roughed, bumped patterns of the dark white bark, sending scratched warmth to her fingers. It wasn’t complete reassurance, but it helped.

‘Why am I alone?’ thought Shona. ‘There’s nothing here to scare me and yet...

‘If only...’

Her thought ended as a clear ‘SQUAWK’ noise sounded above.

Shona’s head snapped up and her eyes saw what was against the white and grey fogged sky.

A quick flick of beats and Shona’s eyes swept immediately to the bird that had made the noise seconds before.

Trying to smile Shona looked at the bird, now gliding with ease across the high air.

‘And what am I to do?’ she asked out loud. She didn’t shout, but the snow’s conjured silence had pressed her voice to be expanded.

Dedicated to a girl who may not realise how magical she is. Her name's Shona.

Chris Gray


Transparent, with no finger tips,
Man made you
Just to be
And so I wonder
When was I
By this mechanical Eden?
Though scentless,
Without a soul
And no door to walk inside,
I am sheltered
Within this paradise
Of artifice.

By Louise Holt, De Montfort University, Leicester
Thiepval Memorial

I can almost smell the cold.
A light mist I can hide behind.

It is violating, probing
And yet...
And yet it belongs here

Here, where men and boys
Lived, slept, fought, died
All those years ago.

It's almost gone now -
The trenches overgrown;
The scarred ground long since scabbed over and healed.

It's beautiful, revered.
The haunting memorial towers over eveything;
Birdsong chirps as it did then
But other than that...


Hushed voices whisper above
Rows of neat, white graves.
A sign of respect
All we can give now.

by Samantha Pavely, De Montfort University, Leicester, England
The florist shop window full of

flowers so fresh they look fake

is one of the things that helps to make

this journey nice to take

and the sunlight in the morning

makes the city look quite pretty

but nobody ever really looks

and that is such a pity.

by hayley, de montfort university

I Should Really Introduce Myself...

Oh by the way, the Poem "What Is It?" was written by me,
Hester Salt of De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

Hi everyone! :D

What Is It?

Don’t you think its time to let your mind go?
Let it go on an adventure,
if only for a second.

What do you want from reading this poem?
To allow your eyes to close--
And slip far away,
into this thing you people call…

What do you call it
when, just as you fall asleep,
you become someone
or something else
with a new name
with a new everything?

At the end of this night, you’ll drift off.
Fade away and enter a whole new world,
where every thought has chance to escape.

This is a dream…

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

green witch

Hi my names Joshua and I am terrible with technology and im not sure if this is the correct place to be writing so ill keep it sort and brief, i dont have any particular stories regarding a place that i want to share over the internet apart from there is a graveyard near my house (mums house) and there is supposed to be ghost called 'the green witch'. I personally dont believe this to be true but yea i look forward to reading all of your stories.


Oneday out there - tomorrow will be today he will ask us a question and what will we say?
Somewhere out there beyond this place we call home...
Is a place of intense beauty wonders still unknown.
M Gray, De Montfort University, UK

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Hello from South Bend, Indiana

Post by Kelcey Parker

I have to say that this blog connection feels destined. I was first put in contact with Jonathan Taylor while I was visiting my grandparents in New Jersey, which happens to be my favorite state-I-don't-live-in. Jonathan was already in touch with Rachel at St. Peter's in NJ. My parents were born and raised and married in Rahway, NJ, where I spent many days riding my bike around the neighborhood pretending to be one of the Charlie's Angels. My grandparents currently live in Barnegat, NJ (near Long Beach Island), and almost all my cousins and extended family live in NJ. I go there at least twice a year.

But when I "met" Jonathan, I was also on the cusp of my first visit to the UK! I spent nearly a week in London this summer before and after a visit to Norway, where my grandfather was born. While Norway was exhilarating in terms of familial connections, London was full of literary connections (you should have seen me dragging my sister to Virginia Woolf homes and haunts). So this summer has been very much about "place" in general--and about NJ and the UK in particular.

My students and fellow writers at IU South Bend will soon begin posting their work to the blog. I've enjoyed the work already posted, and look forward to getting to share this experience with all of you. Here are a couple pics of South Bend:

This is the building where the English Department is located.

And this is a pedestrian bridge that connects the campus of IU South Bend to new student housing on the other side. Apartments with a river view!

Here's me with Hans Christian Andersen in Copenhagen, Denmark in August.

You can find more info and pics at the IU South Bend Creative Writing blog:


Slow sunlight.
The dawn chorus
Of birds and kettles sing.
While others dream
In riddles
I keep my eyes open,
Listen to the slumber
Of the street;
A peaceful pause,
Sheltered from the storm.

-Daniel Williams, De Montfort University, UK

Friday, 10 October 2008

Welcome to UISB

This is just to welcome Kelcey Parker and creative writers from University Indiana South Bend, who have now joined the blog, and will be contributing soon. We're looking forward to collaborating with you and sharing work.

Best wishes,

Jonathan Taylor

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Seven Eighty Seven and the Bologna Sandwhiches

This is just a little story about my grandparent's house: a place of infinite memories.

Seven Eighty Seven and the Bologna Sandwhiches

Sitting on the familiar chairs, I found myself unable to accept that it was the last time I would ever eat a sandwich in that kitchen. I have eaten many sandwiches in that kitchen and most of them I had taken for granted. I suppose a lot of people would take something like a sandwich for granted. But if we think about how much else we take for granted – time, people, relationships, love – the simple, often overlooked things become embossed with importance.

The last sandwich…

I took one, careful bite. I instantly recalled summer lunches on the back picnic benches, my Pop singing while scooping out vanilla ice cream and dropping it all on the floor, blowing bubbles off the porch, making Jello in funny little cups with Grandma, drawing with chalk on the slab of concrete in the back and mowing the lawn with the old- fashioned lawn mower that I was too proud to admit I couldn’t handle when I was nine years old. Being in the house is like stepping backwards to a warmer, happier time. The memories held within the walls of this house are ones I know I won’t ever release, but I will forever mourn the end of their making.

Another bite…

Sleeping over the house was a big deal when I was young. We would play on the stairs for hours. They were covered with green carpet and were perfect pretend mountains. We would play in the pantry cupboard with a collection of toy dishes and other little things my grandparents had collected and kept over the years. Playing restaurant was something we took very seriously – the adults humored us by making very complicated orders (except for my Pop who always ordered steak and eggs). We got to take baths in the big, old, claw-foot tub complete with an old floating toy ship and a little man who would sink to the bottom of the tub if he fell overboard. Afterwards, my grandma would let me use her expensive dusting powder and I always felt like a very sophisticated lady. I slept in my mom’s old bedroom and would try to imagine what she must have been like as a child, until I fell asleep.

Another bite…

New Years Eve was quite the holiday for us growing up. It was the one night a year we were allowed to stay up so late, the one night a year when we ate our dinner after midnight, and the one night we were encouraged to make as much noise as we possibly could. Since we’ve grown up and gone our own ways, we grandkids have all found different ways to celebrate the New Year. But every December 31st spent ringing it in another way has felt empty and hollow. By some divine chance, I decided to stop by the house this past year on my way to my New Year’s party – the last year in the old brown recliner with noisemakers and funny paper hats.

Another bite…

The sandwiches were alright. My grandma made the best sandwiches in the world. It’s kind of a funny thing to say I suppose. I mean, a sandwich is a sandwich. But there was just something about them that tasted different, that tasted like love and home. When I was little, I told her I thought it was because she aged the bologna for just the right amount of time. She brought it up every time she made me a sandwich after that (and even sometimes when she wasn’t making one) and it always made her laugh.

Another bite…

I stopped for a moment to breathe deeply. It always struck me how certain places have a very distinct smell that is impossible to place and just as impossible to forget. If somebody asked me to describe the smell of the house, I would not be able to. It just smells like 787 Lake Street has always smelled. When hit by the smell walking into the house that night, I half expected my grandma to be standing in the hall to greet me.

But she wasn’t, and she won’t be again. The funeral was the next morning and she would pass this cove of memory – the contents of a whole life well lived – for the last time. I’d never felt so tired. I realized I had started to cry.

And I took the last bite.

- Elizabeth Lodato, St. Peter's College. Jersey City, NJ.