Misty by Lauren Weiss ’18

For my dog, upon her seventh birthday

 

She does not run as fast as she once did.

Still, her legs swing like furry pendulums,

Tiny chest seeming to graze the ground as

She sprints after a wayward tennis ball.

 

The sound of knocking at the door used to

Make her leap down from her favorite spot.

These days it takes more to coax her from this

Paradise, that sun-warmed patch on the bed

 

Where she snoozes through the day, waking when

Tantalizing smells from the backyard find

Their way up into the upstairs window.

She wrinkles her small damp nose and wonders.

A Brain Held Hostage of Expectation

 

You think you can do these things, but you just can’t, Nemo.” -Marlin

 

Follow your dreams off the edge of a cliff!

Coddle hopeless, nonsense notions.

Blind to what’s before us – even our noses;

Tears, like truths, are hard to swallow.

 

Block reality’s rays with rosy shades.

Duty and Zeal bind tightly: twin shackles.

New journeys lie beyond open doors, but

We ignore and reject perspective.

 

Sacrifice home for a fleeting fancy-

Like soldiers without a cause.

Martyr-like masochists; we’re bleeding out!

Sweat anointing furrowed brows.

 

Secure your success ‘til tenacity falters-

Dig hallowed holes for low grades.

Inflating bubbles with shallow breaths,

Destiny decrees: await your– POP!

 

Never stray from plans premade;

Share the worn-down paths they paved.

Lead us to sisters of fate or despair,

Known as Lawyer, Doctor, Engineer.

 

Dreams vanish in air; prisons BURST!

Prophecy is fulfilled.

Losers stall to hide their shame, but

Stripped bare we battle on still.

 

(Arrogance!) Leaves us blind and deaf;

No worldly being could pass that test.

Disarmed by bliss–oblivion’s kiss–

Will we then concede our ignorance?

 

mdiaz20@amherst.edu

Flightless Bird by Ariella Goldberg ’19

It was about 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday, February 21st, and 61-year-old Don McCevoy was following the perimeter of the New Science Building. He walked with a slight limp, which he’s had for years, the result of some long-forgotten injury. Don wore old jeans and a bright blue windbreaker. He swept a cane from left to right in front of his feet, inspecting the overturned snow in its wake. In his left hand he carried a gallon-sized bucket.

“We didn’t find as many today,” said Don. “But that’s unusual. Yesterday we found over sixteen.”

Don has been collecting bird carcasses for almost twenty-seven years, and he notes the increase in deaths since the construction of the New Science Building. “It’s those huge glass windows,” he observes. “Birds don’t understand those huge glass windows.”

Don is a widely acclaimed and significantly published researcher of the American Association of Ornithology. Some of his most referenced articles include: “Handling Avian Specimens: An Evaluation of Preservation Methods in the Modern Archive” (1994, Vol. 134a, ISSN 0005-3857); “21st Century Migration Patterns of the Black-Throated Blue Warbler” (2001, Vol. 210b, ISSN 0003-5489); and “A Survey of the Shorebirds of Massachusetts” (2012, Vol. 32, ISSN 0031-4958). Don has been tracking recent changes in the populations of common bird species in western Massachusetts, and has discovered a 2.1% decrease in northern waterthrush counts since the window panes were installed in the New Science Building. He finds this figure alarming, considering that the main structure is far from complete. “It’s safe to predict a massive incline in mortality rate as soon as they install the remaining windows. Specular reflection. I can imagine their little bodies pinging against the great wave of glass in multitudes. And lying on the ground, tiny bird organs remain warm and full of vital fluids even as the legs stiffen with rigor mortis. A gory spectacle for anyone inside,” Don muses. “The unsuspecting sparrow wouldn’t notice anything’s awry until it’s right up against the glass, gazing into its own reflection.”

Don has an entire room in his basement dedicated to his menagerie, which he organizes on shelves by year collected and species name. Don has installed special LED light fixtures with UV filtering to prevent potential harm to his collection. Some birds have been stuffed, with their wings outstretched and held in place by wire structures. Others are preserved skeletons in glass domes. Don’s wife, Siobhan, is a local realtor. She and Don have hardly spoken in eleven years, except when they compare guesses during their weekly viewing of The Price is Right. Siobhan often spends nights at her sister’s house in Nantucket.

Don works a quiet job unrelated to his passion. The construction of the New Science Building has been a highlight of Don’s recent fixations. He spends long periods of time in his basement, adjusting his latest array of specimens in their various states of decay. Sometimes, during Don’s daily routine, he considers the gravity of his task and the future ahead. We have to ask ourselves: Why would Amherst portray itself as an institution dedicated to conscious ecological behavior, and yet take actions that seem deliberately in opposition to this initiative? Even the installation of the windows on the western side of the building seems aimed at posing danger to its unsuspecting feathered victims. Studies by the North American Avian Society show that west-side facing windows contribute to 16% of bird deaths worldwide. The New Science Building is near the heart of the Bird Sanctuary. “I don’t understand the design team’s mission,” Don shakes his head. He takes photos of the large glass panes and shows them to Siobhan, who stands at the kitchen sink and gazes out the window expressionlessly. She glances at the photos briefly and turns away. “It’s beautiful,” whispers Siobhan. “I’d smash into those windows too, if only to be closer.” Siobhan carries a Taurus Millennium G2 Pistol in her handbag.

Projected completion time for the New Science Building is Fall 2018. Early birdsong accompanies unseasonably warm temperatures. Don fears the future ahead. He can’t help but wonder if the unfriendly design decision was intentional. He asks us to look deeper. “It’s no secret that several higher-ups in the Amherst College administration devalue bird welfare.” In fact, we were able to secure minutes of recent Committee of Six meetings, and find that certain members express deep resentment of birds. We will list a few of the most shocking sentiments here. “This dialectic has formed the central problem of my scholarship” -Adam Sitze. “I fucking hate birds” -Biddy Martin. Other administrators are similarly bitter. Suzanne Coffey fills birdfeeders outside her bedroom window with birdseed laced with rat poison. Some students also display alarming behavior toward birds. An anonymous sophomore, whose name rhymes with floss, admits to incorporating birds in his sexual stimulation techniques. In general, it seems that Amherst is an anti-bird campus.

As this monument of avian death is erected, consider the birds. Don lights a cigarette and peers into his bucket of wilted, damp bodies. With a few hours’ work, their wings will be pinned, outstretched in a parody of flight. “Siobhan,” Don sighs.

acgoldberg19@amherst.edu

Rest Stop by Barrett King ’17

Sitting at the counter of a
rest stop
someone once told me,
“A man knows where he is from
when he knows where he wants to be buried.”
And maybe married?
Parry the blow.

I know my spot already:
On this cliff’s deep green
Looking out to sea, to see
the curved horizon proving the world not flat,
with some sharp stones to dig into my back.
Sow my soul in some rugged red soil.

But patience, please.
I’d like more time.
Fifty, sixty, seventy years more.
Then I’ll take my
six foot box: a foot for every fifteen years.

bking17@amherst.edu

A Letter to Spacetime by Shashank Sule ’20

Dear spacetime,

I was going to write separate letters to space and to time but someone told me that your addresses were the same. I have never written to you. You don’t really know me. My role in your grand existence is that I cause little distortions. Very tiny distortions. In the spacetime where I exist, I am always told to believe that everyone starts by creating equal distortions. Equally little, or equally large. They bend you, stretch you, causing you to spiral in towards or away from them. That has been my existence so far: Being pulled and, on occasion, pulling others. But I also get pushed and sometimes nothing happens at all. It is all in your fabric.

Continue reading A Letter to Spacetime by Shashank Sule ’20

Asking For It (Review by Sara Schulwolf ’17)

Both on our campus and in the national news, “rape culture” has become a recent buzzword, catapulted into the forefront of our thoughts and conversations. When reading news articles, it’s easy to feel enraged about Donald Trump and “pussygate,” or fume over Brock Turner’s grossly expedited jail sentence and marvel at how anyone might question the integrity of his victim. And while these are unquestionably serious—and awful—examples of the prevalence of rape culture and minimization of sexual assault that pervades our country, they can sometimes distract us from how we conduct ourselves in everyday life. Peel your eyes away from the headlines for a few moments, and it becomes evident just how insidious rape culture is, how it’s not merely possible but also likely that ordinary, well-meaning people will become complicit in perpetuating a society that’s hostile to survivors of assault, and to women in general. Continue reading Asking For It (Review by Sara Schulwolf ’17)

Time’s Fool by Logan Seymour ’19E

‘You shut your fucking mouth Travers,’ he says, but not angrily or loudly, he says it firmly and resolutely and self-assuredly, even repeating, in a low, nodding murmur to himself, ‘you shut your fucking mouth.’ No one over the age of twenty-two has made eye contact in what seems like years. Continue reading Time’s Fool by Logan Seymour ’19E