As a classical hermit, I have wanted nothing so much
as a plunging velvet cape.
It is all the glamor I need. You will follow this contouring thing, a deep sapphire, burgundy, indigo,
clung so heavy you will think I ache like Atlas.
It is all the lift I need. Watch it envelope me,
carrying my lines on titanic wings to make
a little girl monarch, a little girl monster.
It will stream behind my feet and Lethe-like swallow
my cue line. You will brace, if only to know
what could deserve this Nemean beast.
It bunches, and I have a hunch. It billows and I am a captain.
I cast it to Jupiter’s couch and rain Juno’s wrath
on a hundred half-god whelps.
It smooths where I crook. It flows where I flatten,
and glories the Gorgon till even
dizzied Paris would toss his golden apple.
Persephone embraces the rich dark, exits stage left.
I am Orpheus talespinner but I do not look back.
The salt air and smell of rain
washing away with the waves
Seagulls fly overhead
to return home
as the first drops begin to fall
on the heads of wanderers
CHARNESE BISHOP “RISKS”
We fail to keep in mind that
The trees when they exhale
don’t care how cold you are.
The leaves when they fall
don’t care where they land.
So be like the trees.
And be like the leaves.
It is okay to breathe.
And it is okay to fail.
Do not wait too long.
Because the same raindrop does not fall twice.
SYDNI S. SMITH
“ODE TO BRIDGET LEARY”
The day you returned from out in the storm
fevered and ill, soon he’d be damned
to the fever burning in his own mind.
“Imposter!” he cried. “Where is my wife?”
Strong-willed woman, stubborn at heart.
You’d pay with your life, while he’d play fool.
Madness had claimed him,
he no longer trusted his eyes.
Why couldn’t he see? You were his bride!
He locked the doors, forced them to watch and bare witness
soon they would see, but after the fire
only your black stockings remained
What’s done is done,
and the mad man had won.
Forever he’d wait, for his Bridget to come.
Your memory lives at a melancholy price
outside the churchyard, etched into stone
now all that’s left, is an innocent rhyme.
“Are you a witch, or
Are you a fairie? Or
Are you the wife of Michael Cleary?”
AC/DC was always
blasting from that pool hall jukebox
‘cause you knew I liked
dad rock as much as I loved
emo pop punk and
fat blunts in the parking lot--remember when those
gulls attacked the roof of my car? We were so
high we laughed until we had six packs.
I didn’t know I could feel so good
just before I had to go home. I
killed every spare second with you
like home didn’t exist. Like
my husband wasn’t pacing the floor, taking
note of every second I was gone. And,
oh, he knew I was with you in that
pool hall parking lot by the beach, shooting the shit,
questioning my decision to marry his fits of
rage and watching the
shoreline. I still have the coat I
took from you the last time I saw you. I wear a grey hoodie
under it because winter sucks in West
Virginia. Not a day has passed that I haven’t
wondered what would’ve happened if I’d done what my
x thought I was doing with you but the truth is
you were the only safe corner I had in that Twilight Zone city.
“TO: ZELDA FROM: LINK”
I never get tired
of waking for you, even though
you’re doing just fine without me, even though
you’re assembling armies, even though
you’re fighting wars I slept through, even though
the asshole on the other end
of the controller can’t remember
which button is jump and which
is attack and I had to fight the
same monster seventeen, eighteen,
nineteen times because the
guy on the other end threw the Master Sword
off the ledge when he meant to swing–
But don’t worry, I’ll still
come running, even though
I know you don’t need me, I’ll
run across miles of fields for you--
the truth is
you’re my closest friend, the only thing
that gets me out of bed.
You’ve been saving the world since 1986
while I’ve been sleeping
and I’m so damn tired and
this time I overslept by a hundred
years and I grinded my teeth to
powder because I knew
you can do it without me, I knew you
keep me around because
I’m loyal, I play your songs
I’m good at fighting monsters, making dyes
and spicy meat and seafood fries.
I pulled the sword from the stone but
only because you asked me to.
All I wanted to do was rest.
I’m a hundred and sixteen-year-old man trapped in an adolescent body.
Let me sleep.
“BOOKS AND FLOWERS”
The books in Mississippi always read wrong to me.
The ink smeared or
the paper ripped.
My classes often had me staring at the ceiling
Daydreaming about freedom or the liberty of freedom
I have always wanted to skip through a beautiful
flower field while the sun hits my skin.
The horses trotting in the beautiful fields
make me long for it, even more.
I want to feel the flowers brush up against my legs.
Would they feel cold? Would they feel fresh? Or would they feel warm, even wet with the dew?
“THOSE WORDS I COULDN’T FIND”
Rotted apples bob in black water.
Ripples traced by a buzzing bulb suspended
Like a moment
I can’t make pass.
Something snags my eye
By the corner and won’t let go.
My vision turns to a corridor,
twisting and rolling like the sheets I wake to.
From daydreams alone,
I draw myself out
dowsing down into the echoing well
water dotted by those rotted flecks.
I can smell them well
enough now, can’t I? Walk away
from what’s drenched me. Knowing
it’s entrenched in the deepest part, reaching the parks where I used to play.
J. SCOTT WILSON “WE’LL HAUNT THIS DUPLEX”
She sits on the bottom step
beside the vent smoking a cigarette.
Her other hand against where the heat drifts
through the grate, a holy gesture done in
dreamlike languor as if summoning spirits from the wall.
She once told me as a child she communed with ghosts
through chalk drawings on the hardwood
closet floor, the shoes all pushed aside, waiting eagerly
for what might appear. She looks up and I bite my tongue before I mention klonopin, paroxetine, or lamictal, solutions everyone else has already given her before. I, my big ass, situated near her,
lean closer as do old companions when cold and the evening
draw in through the crack beneath the door. If we die
we’ll haunt this duplex.
We’ll sit right here when some other, normal people
move in, people without
sourceless hurt, strange
delusions in their heads, able to walk in the morning. They’ll come down the stairs
and hit a warm spot on the stair, she and I translucent,
our breath smoking the air.
AL ERIN “CONDOLENCES FOR THE LIVING”
He did not know death until he was 21.
An existence lived,
Taken for granted,
Getting too comfortable, In never losing anyone.
But the catastrophe still came.
And he learned the hard way
Because he never got to experience that pain
With the childlike acceptance
That comes with learning at a young age that
The gold never stays.
J. SCOTT WILSON
“NUBIAN, KIKO, SAANEEN”
His great uncle stood Sunday mornings
like a barefoot god inside the goat pen, toes blackened in
dark soil where he preached Corinthians. Circled with chicken wire, nubians and boer gathered round, heads angled
in sacrificial bow. At his side, the doe saneen for the mother tasting
milk. The old man, forked of beard,
his muslin shirt lifted would show the children a trellis
of ribs where incisors and molars of his sergeant in Korea were imbedded in knuckle shapes beneath the skin, the children reaching and feeling
the bible verse’s soft oscillation cored within the hard calcium, “Do you not know your bodies are temples,”
dull shudder in breath or word, pieces of a sick man he hated
who in the messhall vouchsafed to him an enemy’s face
sawed free, then shriveled and discolored. “Of the holy spirit who is in you? You are not your own.” Memory taken the form of a mouth
moving in his gut. The black kikos behind him balanced
uncanny with all hooves slanted inward upon a poplar’s branches,
horns backward thrust spirals, curious dark haired fruit with thier throats open to the sky, brays that made all things seem unnatural until now.
"THE BIRD’S DON’T MOURN FOR US”
A crow with eyes the color of night
Perches on a street light
Below him, a car wraps around a tree
And sirens belt out a tune that screams
The crow joins in with careless ease
Unaware of the different melodies
As the song is sung
The souls move on
And the bird
Doesn’t notice the difference
“LOOKING UP FROM THE FLOOR”
An amber droplet
slides down a dimming sky.
Gloom will grow, gnobbled
fingers climbing the copse.
The black blanket
crowded with little
things best left unfound.
Owls, invisible above,
the dark filling their eyes,
whorl and dive,
devour what they find.
Observe how delicate
it must be, to hide.
Surrounded by hunters,
quiet hunger grown wide.
Note from editors
Welcome to the online edition of Frostburg State University's Bittersweet Arts Magazine. Every day our students, faculty, and staff strive to make the world a little brighter through music, writing, painting, performing, and a myriad of other forms of expression. It is our hope that this edition captures the beauty that lives on Frostburg State University's campus.
Icons made by Daniel Bruce, Bogdan Rosu, and Pedro Nieto Villamandos from www.flaticon.com