Qua Literary and Fine Arts Magazine, Winter 2022

Welcome to the pioneer digital-only issue of Qua! It's the Winter 2022 edition, but it's beginning to feel like spring in Michigan, and we think these pieces show it.

Welcome to the pioneer digital-only issue of Qua! It's the Winter 2022 edition, but it's beginning to feel like spring in Michigan, and we think these pieces show it.


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Editor in Chief

Amanda Seney

Assistant Editors

Jina Bhagat

Steven Hrynkiw

Cecilia Warchol




Art & Design Director

Katelyn Stuck

Design Advisor

Andy Deck

L I T E R A R Y & F I N E A R T S

General Advisor

Dave Larsen




Primavera Imperatives 5

An Ode to Spring 8

Observing Senior Math Analysis 9

America is an old billboard 12

Head Up 13

The Signal 14

What Dustin Begets 16

a tuft of fur 17

In the Field 21

Pearls 22

The Parsonage 23

Saturday Noodle 24

Becoming Bonsai 25

Saturn’s Reign 27

Dreamer 28

Writing 29

Atlas 32

Chilly 37

The Great Inventions 38

When I am 40 and you are 4-39

Interview, Safe Passage 40

folding socks 41


My Northern Perspective 6

“9797” 18

Ask the Brook Trout 20

Night in Gethsemane 33

Visual Arts

Light in the Darkness-Cover, 7

“6” 10

Supernova 26

“11” 30





Wear the worn ones that are well-loved and grass-stained. Care for the

worms as the rains have left them unearthed. Be gentle with all but the

mud as you reacquaint yourself with a long-awaited rebirth. Remember the

guileless child with eyes wonder-wide. Listen to the new birds sing days-old,

age-old songs. Turn your face to the sun but don’t stare. It isn’t polite - to

Iris or Helios. Bless the heavens, above and below, for the mystery of what’s

suspended between and what grows the first green from the yester-grays.

Cast lots on the first blooms. Mind the too-soons. Pan’s Syringa, below and

among, now within mortal reach. Gather her spoils with mud-bathed,

newly-earthen hands. Sing your days-old, age-old refrains. Draw them out.

Sustaining refrains are meant for spring.

Love the living things.

Marian E. Wright Writing Center Spring Poetry Contest

Spring Prompt, 1st Place

4 | Table of Contents Poetry | 5

My Northern



The story of my Michigan whistles through the season-dried oaks

and sings over the November waves of mighty, frigid Lake Superior outside

of Paradise. Its tale is told to the moon by wolves’ howling. The earth is

serenaded by the tapping of robins’ feet on pine needles, the slow paddle of

painted turtles in a calm pond.

The story is told and retold by the tannin-stained rivers cutting

across miles of dense forests. It’s communicated by the snort and stomp of

white-tailed deer concealed in their native woods. The story floats on clouds

of smoke rolling out of a chimney and tangoes to the chatter of red squirrels

high up in the trees outside of the village limits of Roscommon.

It twirls around a family gathered on a porch as the sun sets,

laughter buzzing alongside the hum of mosquitos. It pauses as snow falls

overnight, resting like a flannel blanket.

The story of my north is a symphony of human and nature

blending, balancing. It’s one that can’t always be put into words that do it

justice. But I am a child of the north, so I will tell its story.



6 | Prose Visual Art | 7

An Ode to



Observing Senior

Math Analysis


To the roses in full bloom on Second Ave - I’ve missed you

This winter has not been kind to me

Its cold has lingered in these bones for too long

I’m so glad the spring rain has brought you here to me

To the window daisies that dance to the buzzing song of the bees

Your happiness is contagious

Your sway has taught me what freedom looks like

To the fresh strawberries sunkissed by the sun

Being picked with sticky hands and smiles

You’re beautiful

To the children’s pitter patter in puddles

The height to their kites

Their laughter breaking the stillness of winter

A new season has begun

To the new love that has blossomed

Filled with new kisses and “ I love you’s”

May it always be a breathe of fresh air

To spring, My friend, I am so happy that you are here

I’ve missed you.

Marian E. Wright Writing Center Spring Poetry Contest

Spring Prompt, 2nd Place

Class begins with a warmup on the board.

Almost immediately I am lost in the lesson,

wandering through my mind, trying to recall

if I ever learned this in senior math class (I didn’t).

Her microphoned voice dances through the speakers

reaching my ears, transmitting a confidence

in me, making me believe I can figure out

binomial probability (I can’t).

She instructs the class to make their predictions.

I predict all math teachers are smart, but

she is greater than others in the table. She

gives space for her students to take risks,

“I’m interested to see how you approach that.”

And they do, they accept the power

embedded in their autonomy

and calculate at their own pace.

She limits their view of certain steps

in certain problems, which makes certain

the eventual expansion of their understanding.

It’s my job to call her out

and see her craft from all angles.

Together we wonder about the ego in others

who place more value on their mathematical minds

than their spirits as educators.

Write this in your notes,

The sum value of an extraordinary math teacher

cannot be determined by manipulating numbers.

Her worth does not exist in absolutes.

There is an unspoken variable, known only to her students

and those fortunate enough to observe her.

8 | Poetry Poetry | 9



10 | Visual Art Visual Art |11

America is an old



America is an old billboard waiting to sell an ad. Driving in an old,

rattling Chevy impala. Big bench seats, worn leather, stuffing spilling out

like a wounded soldier. Spring of 1977, and passing by on a lonely roadside.

Homes shapeshifting into motels, diners into gas stations, people into cows.

Buildings worn out, burned out, hollowed, make way for weeds, people. In

the rearview mirror, you see your friend the French Philosopher splayed out

in the backseat. My god, was there a war here, he says whenever we pass

the crumbling shell of a house foreclosed upon or factory that’s gone back

to nature. Giant grey slabs erected like tombstones. A mile passes before

we see another house. He asks, how does anyone know each other with this

much space between them? In a gas station parking lot, the weeds choke the

pavement, spit up like phlegm from the heart of the world. Look back, that

smiling villain with Judas eyes in the rearview mirror. Lights a black

cigarette and the ash rains heavy as snow. The smoke dances in delicate

curves rubbing your eyes, eyes weeping for hundreds of singing voices

belonging to no mouth in particular. Then suddenly the singing turns to

laughter and your weeping along with it, a bitter laughter like the sound of a

coin tossed at a faceless man laid down in the gutter that coin landing on the

pavement with the sound of fate come home at last.

Head Up


See my dad was Jamaican told me everything was irie/

If life is late giving you blossoms it’s because gardening you a field of ivies/

So just smile and I know a lot of patience comes with that/

See life will give you L’s but it’s about the comeback/

But I’m tough for her I love her, life’s a gift from the sky/

And everyday I live for her I live as if I never will die/

Because I know that if the rains stops and everything was dry/

She would cry just so I could drink the tears from her eyes/

See you have to stand for something or you will for whatever/

In these United States we’re so divided, why don’t we all come together/

Like we’re supposed to be, you roll with me not picking up no groceries/

Just flow with me and hopefully, when done reading this poetry/

You’ll be how you’re supposed to be and roar just like a lion/

Because this life calls for tough skin but your fur will survive the fire/

So walk immortal to the flame, pain is temporary gain/

And while you’re reading this, bow your head and say a prayer for all Ukraine/

See if Zelensky can crack a smile in the face of Russian missiles/

So can you in whatever circumstance of whatever is trying to hit you/

Let it miss you, see this Jamaican man I guess he knows a thing or two/

I guess to remind you when you’re alone that someone always stands with you/

-John Riggins

Go blue, pray for Ukraine

Marian E. Wright Writing Center Spring Poetry Contest

Spring Prompt, 3rd Place

12 | Poetry Poetry | 13

The Signal



Gone now is the sun,

and all gray again

is the lot,

once having the spark of life,

cloaked with exhaust fumes

and the shrill cry of car alarms.

Mist and cold choke the air

And coat my skin

like a thick wax.

The skin that is thin and fragile.

Less a protection

than a soft film, akin

to the skin on a soup course

of an abandoned meal.


Passing now under the glittery marquees

of cafés and theatres

hedging against the encroaching blackness

of dusk.

No one is on the street.

Only a few voices leak from the café and the bar

as I stroll down the sidewalk

with a reflection of myself

for company.

“Keep pace, fucker!” I mutter

to myself and my reflection

seems cross in return.

I mix with televisions, compasses in pawn shops,

and fashionably dressed mannequins in sheer, lacy dress wear

and perfectly tailored suits.

I am confident and well dressed and happy

everywhere I look.


My twin and I stop to light a cigarette

ashes flail in the wind

and cling to my body

like desperate lovers.

The slapping of rubber

on the brick-lined street

is enough to disrupt my vanity.

Come to the crosswalk

and a woman stands diagonal to me

across the intersection.

She wears a long, flowing skirt, fiery oranges and turquoise wrapped around flowers

and her hair is hidden in a silk, summery scarf.

A few wisps hang liberated over her forehead,

clustered enough to see: the same deep red as her lip rouge.

I glance at her and she at me, then we turn away.

A stolen glance and a polite smile.

Why must I fall in love with anyone who shows me

a minimum of kindness?

The signal of some impending catastrophe.

Neon angels come to call

at the crosswalk.

My eyes squint though

there is no sun.

My cigarette is halfway burned.

We don’t make eye contact again

as we pass in the night

under the harshly illuminated streetlamps.

Tobacco grows in the ground,

therefore, it is healthy.

Death comes from the earth.

Life is the human invention,

a resistance.

Dead things give way to gravity.

Leaves fall away from the trees

planted in the sidewalk.


The small, concentrated heat of the cigarette

begins to burn my hand.

The smell of burning tobacco mixed with flesh

fills my nose.

But I do not mind for a moment,

until I flick it away into a storm drain.

Dead leaves comingle and fall away with the ashes,

and my feet crackle on the pavement

as I fall vertically through the town,

lost in a fantasy of night.

14 | Poetry Poetry | 15

What Dustin Begets


Dustin’s obit begets daughter

Grace. Grace, fourteen, begets

her mother Holly (they share

Holly’s last name). Tricky

to track Holly (Spokeo doesn’t

know “Zoe” goes by “Holly”).

Because I’ve fallen for Dustin—

thirty-four, mop of bangs,

brown eyes that’ve seen light

from the bottom of things—

I’m predisposed to dis Holly.

(Why? She and Dustin are

obviously no longer together.)

(Hmm: were they ever?)

(Long enough to make Grace!)

But once Holly and I “meet”

(face-to-facebook) I fall for

impish autodidact Holly and her

begettings. Hard work. Sweet

friends. Six years ago she lost

infant twins. The way she grieves—

celebrates. Here, her pal Matthew


I made you fried tofu several

times a decade-ish ago in 2008

when we were working on the

Alice White wine rainbow display

when I lived on Neil. Those were

some of the best times of my life.

Friend, I will miss you forever.

So now we add improv Matthew

(Second City trained) to our trove.

Can’t resist: Click—Matt, you’re


The crowd seemed to like my

set last night. Wish I would have

filmed it. It was all about telling

the jokes that I’m not supposed

to tell because I’m a straight

male. In our current climate

I’m almost only “allowed” to

tell dick jokes, specifically

small dick jokes, and how that

sucks because it keeps me

from trying to understand what

it is to be every type of human.

All that, hidden under a bunch

of dick jokes.

Dustin, Holly, Matthew—I love

this whole tribe. Holly eats tofu,

laughs where I do. June 6, Dustin’s

last (and most verbose) post lets

loose after George Floyd’s murder:

I’ve been on facebook all day

and seen some things, and

have some stuff to say, I know

it’s not going to fix anything

but half you fuckers need to

stop speaking for people

the other half of you need to

stop “well what about when

this person did this where

were you” aka just shut the

fuck up and listen. Let people

mourn and have their time

when shit like this happens.

Two days later . . . gone. Don’t

know the details. (Weeks old

repartee r.e. trying to lose weight

and depression is too risky to

parse.) Scrolling backwards

through time, Dustin, who

worked out West, then Vermont,

is Greyhounding it (beloved dog

in tow!) home to central Illinois.

Christmas with Grace at Holly’s

Grandma Zoe’s (ah, Holly, here’s

your first name). Grace, Dustin,

Grandma Zoe, Holly—Matthew—

people who’ve never met—all

of us in a crisscross of molecules.

Dear Dustin, I hereby beget you.

a tuft of fur


a tuft of fur

all that remains

of a story

16 | Poetry Poetry | 17



I call it my home when it’s not even mine, and there’s no way it ever

could be, not how I remember it. The Fox River Club is membership-based,

but only to men, and has been since its start in 1940. My father bought into

the Seney, Michigan hunting club in the early seventies. When deer or

pheasant season isn’t in full swing, the camp transforms into a rural getaway

for its members and their families. The original preserved farmhouse sits

near the road, clothed in fading, butter yellow siding that matches the pole

barn and the generator house.

Neatly clipped grass marches up to the fence that lines dusty, rocky

Old Seney Road. The hundreds of acres that sprawl out behind the buildings

are kept untamed. One of five camps on the eight-mile-long seasonal road,

the Fox River Club has no signs save for the standard issue blue address sign

with “9797” and “Germfask Township” etched onto it. From the road, it looks

like another hunting cabin in the middle of dense forest, but I know it to be


It’s hard to tell if I’ll ever smell it again after this old camp falls to

its demise, a failing foundation the worst of its multiple problems. I probably

won’t. Eighty-one years of memories, ingrained in the hand-built maple

interior, can’t be recreated. The smell I revel in when I cross the threshold is

unique, a mix of lives well lived and rich Michigan soil. It’s hard to see what

will become of my camp, what will become of me. Will we both be knocked

down? Will we remain standing?

It’s hard to know what the wind will blow our way; it’s hard to know

if that same wind will separate us. But I trust in this calm summer breeze to

bring the smell of the Fox River Club to me, the place I always had but never


The smell of home.

For over a decade, I’ve driven the three hours north to the camp

with my dad, but soon it will be the last time. His age is making him

question his desire to hunt deer, and I’m beginning a career. The only way

I’ll be able to keep my beloved camp with me is by remembering the smell—

earthy, aged, and warm. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever breathed in before,

more refreshing than mountain air, more comforting than freshly washed


It can be described by the many ant bombs that rarely rid the place

of their intended target, the rusted rat traps, dead flies, and the slightly

charred scent of the deer mounts, one dating as far back as 1944, thick

with years of fireplace smoke. It’s the laughter, late nights, bourbon, deep

conversation, gas lamps and their intense heat. It’s the years of grease on

the ancient stove. It’s the generations of men with a shared passion, spent

rounds, animal blood, and chilly winter days.

It’s made of arguments, outdated car magazines, pine trees,

generator fuel, warm engines, fresh ink on lined pages, butane, the

effortless curl of smoke from cigars past. It’s the Fox River’s quick current

and its brook trout, mosquitos’ hunger, maps outlining territory, old but

resilient bunk beds, the burnt skeletons of chairs in the field kept company

by wildflowers. It’s coffee percolating on the stove, mice scratching, Sandhill

cranes calling.

18 | Prose

Prose |19

Ask The

Brook Trout


How to sunrise and sunset more colorful as human dawn and radiant the rest

of your days, wet and shining with tears as the brook trout are lifted writhing

out of the current in terror only thunder and lightning know and maybe the

prophets choking with hot coals in their mouths, bask back and reflect the

glory of creation from your open dripping gaga mouth, ask the brook trout is

the water in my heart clean enough to live in, is it see through to forever and

also partaking of forever, ask not when will I die but how will the delivery of

awe take me in maybe the soft opening of a flower circa always the

gobsmacked moment, ask the brook trout, wonder the brook trout quietly

aloud even if you faith the answer, what kind of shining, wondrous love

made you? May I bow down before that icon also perhaps what tender

feeling, umileniye, they say in Russia, umileniye, or rained upon by the tears

of saints—and as a friend once said, If you even look wrong at a brook trout

it will die so sensitive are they, ask the brook trout, wonder the square tail,

murmur an obscure northern Michigan stream where all trembling is holy

and the tiny birds know you as their finally recovered own back to second

childhood, ask the brook trout what else is there but beauty, beauty, beauty

manifest galore all around except for manmade strip malls, talk to the brook

trout, shadow box with them, is there truly any more glorious colors in all the

world, wormhole and vermiculation, not even Vermeer could paint this, I am

going down in sundown myself, I am on fire and glowing all an-ember, ask

the brook trout about lemons, about vodka tonics, about what it means to be

a recluse, an almost holy fool, to grow out your hair and eat roots,

umileniye again, somewhere my former Russian student Elizaveta is smiling

near Vladivostok, she’s sitting in one of my classes not for credit but for

wonder, the most ideal student I ever had whose ancestry was native

Siberian, somewhere deep inside I am grooving a holy 4 weight, I am using a

bow and arrow cast because there’s no other way to deliver the immaculate

fly, umileniye once more and all around, ask and stutter the brook trout, dare

to murmur a cold, clear stream sinuous as a woman’s body, tell the brook

trout about your demons and watch them evaporate in the hot summer air,

watch the brook trout dart for cover, for holy structure, for those fallen limbs

that are redeemed by their hiding, by their instinctual fear and trembling

again, let the brook trout lead you back to hope and wonder again, back to

first innocence and the baptism of awe, ask the brook trout finally what any

human life is made for except this, trembling before the wet and shimmering

beauty of this world so quick to get away, so beautiful it lasts forever.

In The Field


In the moments leading up to sex,

(Or something of the sort) we are poised,

Balanced on a cliff of civility and,

Tipping, we flood from your Volkswagen

Into rural air, thick and black, gnats attending.

Fitting to find myself low amongst

Twigs, calves tapped by stalks,

Grass-vermin genuflecting

Toward some dunce as my spit

Drags like a cord.

Selfishly you spill. I withdraw,

Easing back on my haunches thinking

This must be beauty, truly;

Reticent in the weeds with

A veil of mosquitos,

A mouthful of stars.

20 | Prose Poetry | 21


After “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver


You do not have to be good

walk ashamed on your knees

through a hundred apologies

you don’t believe.

You have only to let the animal

of your body love what it loves.

Tell me about your longings

perceived by some dead at our age

and I will tell you about when he leaned in

took my hand to his lips eyes squeezed tight

and I imagined us safe in a fine net near the sea

our conversation seared into memory

where tears of the gods trickled

from autumn’s warmest breath

and I closed my eyes for the forehead kiss

or slight peck on the lips

while inside

The Parsonage


In addition to the musty, thimble-waisted, altogether impossibly

small dresses (that they wore as adults, mind you)

on display in The Girls’ Room,

what sticks is the Reverend Patrick Brontë’s humble

narrow bed

(I mean, that bed was small!),

which, the caption informs us, the reverend shared—

for God’s sake—

with his grown son.

Branwell, twenty-something, slinking back to the manse, post-affair

avec the mistress in whose home he’d served as tutor to the child;

the years of drink and drugs, evenings

at ye ole Black Bull . . . .

Father and son, did one crest the other’s lull? Sleep

in shifts? Chat? (Piss?)

Customs were different then. Still: where did the legs go?

Alas: no one left to tell.

In an academic grove, one could cheerfully serve as scholar to your smells.

burned a fervent wish

for fires to be relit

where my mouth would open

like an oyster in its bed

his tongue rushing in like the sea

searching for one perfect pearl.

22 | Poetry Poetry | 23

Saturday Noodle


But was sleep pilled, or legitimate?

The crow on the pine’s got Kafka caught in his throat.

Spit it out, man.

There’s something pinched about Nadine Gordimer.

Or maybe it’s me.

I think she’s just old. And wearing a red coat.

Hip hip hooray! She has a relish tray!

Sardines will show you how they want to be cut. (Just ask.)

The elementary classmate’s house where all the kids slept in one bed.

Sometimes one night is all it takes.

Becoming Bonsai


That color works for you, in a shoulder-to-the-wheel sort of way.

OMG: Karen Carpenter’s father speaking of his daughter’s death—channeling

W.C. Fields.

Dare you not to bite something.

In an artist’s hands

Copper wire twists and turns, shaped with an eye

To mimic nature’s beauty–

Beauty crafted by instinct to survive

The most inhospitable of spaces.

Yet, so small. So complete.

An artistic rendition

Sits in the palm of my hand.

I marvel and wonder.

I too must learn how to do this.

24 | Poetry Poetry | 25




The mountain goat was found to ride

The Sun across the sky

Though—upwards it was said to climb

Moving back the hand of time

Birds were found between the clouds

Dividing the time between

The sun and moon above the ram who crowds

The earth with visions unforeseen

The showers of Neptune fall and bring

The cycle of time that’s hurled

Yet— the moon— in days be counting

The order and times upon the world

Eye of providence, fates and destiny

Androgynous in its essence and being

For when Saturn changes its course and journey

These words will bear more meaning



26 | Visual Art Poetry | 27



Write Again


I sleep so little

And yet,

I dream a lot.

Shaping friends on cracked ceilings

Casting shadows on peeling walls

Painting ideas in my subconscious

Sewing paper wings on crippled


Writing of my life to be on crumpled


I can keep on living

With a little sleep.

But empty of dreams,

I wouldn’t exist at all.

A rush of emotions,

A simple feeling.

Forced by the ear,

Forced by the self.

Regardless of your reasons,

The page is blank.

Fill it as you will,

Fill it with love and romance,

Fill it with anger and vengeance.

Perhaps a bit of laughter,

Perhaps a bit of sadness.

Regardless of your choices,

The page is blank.

So pick up your pen,

Open your keys,

And run your hands.

To build a character,

To build a story,

To build a world.

Marian E. Wright Writing Center Spring Poetry Contest

Writing Prompt, 1st Place

Marian E. Wright Writing Center Spring Poetry Contest

Writing Prompt, 2nd Place

28 | Poetry Poetry| 29



30 | Visual Art Visual Art | 31



Something in me


something in you;

maybe the slight hunch of your shoulders?

Curled? Retreating? Resisting?

no- “enduring”

the weight of the world!

When I was in college

a quirky oracle with wide, bugged out eyes

hunted me down at a party to ask (or proclaim):

“Why do you always look like you’re carrying

the weight of the world on your shoulders?”

I didn’t feel the heaviness then,

but she predicted the punishment.

Like Atlas, condemned to hold up

the celestial heavens for eternity,

we two are damned with the burden

of our own bad choices.

Every inch of your flesh and muscle

lay on top of my body, triggering

some familiar, mythical osmosis.

Your heavy

absorbs my heavy,

or mine absorbs yours,

and for a few brief moments-

I feel free.

But the sky over my world

and the sky over yours

would come crashing down

without our backs to brace.

We resume our positions,

holding up the minutiae,

at mountain’s edge,

overlooking the Sea of

Could Have Beens.

Night in



He came out from under the doorway of an apartment complex

after the rainfall slowed to a drizzle. Passing cars made shushing sounds on

the wet asphalt. The young man weaved through the traffic to get to the other

side. An all-night coney island cast its light over the sidewalk. As he went by,

the patrons, framed in red-upholstered booths under pictures of Marilyn and

Elvis, seemed to be looking at him, chatting about him, casting aspersion out

with the malevolence of the fluorescent lights. Chilled winds blew in through

the high rises, invading the thin lining of his coat, as he finally came to a payphone.

He started to pull the door closed, but the track caught and the draft

continued to come in. Rather than fight, he simply deposited the change and

pulled his collar together. He didn’t doubt the woman would answer, until,

sure enough, she did.

-Hel-lo, said a voice that was aggrieved and clearly in the middle of


-Hey, Elaine. Quinn still there?

-No, he left about 10 minutes ago. A television blared in the background.

Elaine was always in the middle of something when she answered

the phone. Or at least her tone made you think she was.

-So, you’re alone?

-Me and Harvey the Rabbit, she said

32 | Poetry Prose | 33



-Would you cut it out, Lainey. Look, what should I tell him? He

pinched the bridge of his nose.

-Tell him nothing. Your only job is to send him off full of rum, with

good feelings.

-You’re better equipped than me for good feelings.

-Y’know, I’m missing my show right now, so if you called just to get


-No, he paused and searched through the diner and the errant faces

of the people inside for a friendly face. Can I get you anything? Any strange

food cravings. Tuna on rye bread, with pickles and tomatoes.

-Goodbye, Jimmy, she said. The receiver clicked, and the dial tone

rang like death through his ear. A tap on the glass gave him a start.

-Do I see a stranger? a voice said. Jimmy turned to see Quinn with

his face pressed into the glass. Jimmy stepped out into an extended hand, the

same way he always greeted his friends. They say strangers are just friends

you haven’t met yet.

-Horsehsit, Jimmy said with a small smile.

-Probably, Quinn said, reaching into the breast pocket of Jimmy’s

shirt for his cigarettes. He put two in his mouth and lit both. So how goes it?

-Forget about me, Jimmy said. This is your night. He came out

of the phone booth. Quinn was leaning against the phone booth, all smiles

across his face, but his gaze followed Jimmy like a painting. As long as

they’ve known each other Jimmy never could guess what he was thinking at

any given moment. He stood back and took him in.

Quinn wore a tattered field jacket over a rumbled green shirt, tie tucked

between the buttons, with a book in his pocket. A few days still to go before

meeting the barber, he decided to let his hair grow out, and tonight

especially, he looked like he just woke up. Jimmy seemed more respectable,

more military—short hair and a perfectly smooth face—but tonight he looked

sallow and wan in the night mist. Jimmy took one of the cigarettes that were

lit, without uttering a word. Instead, he sniffed and motioned toward the


-Forget that, Quinn said. Let’s go someplace darker.

Outside they stood, a place called Churchill’s, a bar with a rustic

luster, everything polished black, except the floorboards faded from years

under countless pairs of shoes. A local art exhibition was happening in the

background; sleek, realist sketch paintings of faceless women reclined in

divans or ottomans, dresses alternately black, dark orange, and marigold.

Through a proscenium arch to the left was a sparse dining room with tables

around the perimeter. Quinn turned right, away from the shivering drunks

leaning towards the light reflected off the bottles like it was a warm fire. They

settled in an alcove elevated above the floor, with a table staring out the window.

Pedestrians passed under the string of lights that threaded the arches

and the traffic signals over the road. Jimmy thought how they must seem like

store mannequins to the people outside. A display seeming to say, Look at

these two having the most wonderful evening of their lives.

-This is a fancy kind of place, Quinn said, the ketchup comes in

glass bottles.

Whispered emotions echoed faint in their ears. Tattooed, boozy

belladonnas came through flapping doors to collect orders. Jimmy produced

two more cigarettes, and Quinn lit them as their waitress, a brown beauty

with a harshness around the mouth from age, came to ask what they were

drinking. Quinn produced a worn copy of Tarantula, while Jimmy ordered

for them both.

-He wants a Greyhound; I’ll have a Gin and Tonic. When she left

Quinn spoke without looking up from his pages.

-That’s a weak order.

-Yours is purple, Jimmy said.

-Cocktails are allowed to be fruity. Listen to this: The Censor in a

twelve-wheel semi, stopping in for donuts & pinching the waitress/ he likes

his women raw with syrup/ he has his mind set on becoming a famous


-I don’t see waitress on the menu.

The heated air around them sat squat, and the overheads were too

slow to move it. The metronome whir of the fans and the voices of the people

quickly faded into the background. They were in a small room to themselves

now, and the soft, stilted sounds of the saxophone moan over the speakers,

and the leering, drunken johns crunching pretzels and picking at oil under

their fingernails may as well have come from underneath them. Then, at last,

the drinks came.

-I wish I could write poetry like that, said Quinn.

-Not so much poetry as heroin spasms in a notebook.

-Naw, it’s more than that. Quinn’s face grew long, turning to the

side to look out the window.

-Is that why you enlisted? Because you thought you wouldn’t have

the head for that?

-You know to tell you the truth, I hadn’t even considered it, Quinn

said, tracing his mouth.

-I don’t think that’s true, Jimmy replied.

-Maybe I just wanted some free time. There’s no war on, and I

could shave my head and sit under an apple tree, and become an ascetic, get


They sat in silence as the drinks passed. Second-shift crowds from

some local factory started to trickle in. Men with beards, banging on the bar

stools to whatever tune existed only in their head. In the shadowed light,

Jimmy could see the sharp angles of his face underneath his facial hair, his

eyes which darted up and around the room, as if some emaciated dog. Quinn

leaned in close.

-Y’know something… between you and me, he said as he wagged

his fingers to illustrate his point. But I think Elaine’s been, y’know, fucking

around with some guy. Jimmy didn’t blink or move any other part of his

face, for that matter. After a moment he took a drink, and spoke almost at a


-What makes you say that?

34 | Prose Prose | 35


-The usual adjectives. Quiet, distant, angry. And also, the fact that

we hadn’t slept together in 2 months when she was already starting to show.

And we haven’t slept together again since.

Jimmy made a small half-grimace, half-smile. Suddenly, Quinn

burst into laughter. It came out so loud, the other barflies began to turn their

heads. Jimmy snapped his fingers in front of Quinn’s face to bring him back.

-Y’know who it was don’t you? Quinn said, his breath short and



-Alex Glazer. That beautiful, blue-eyed, Aryan bastard.

-Is that so? Jimmy brought his glass to his lips and let the liquor

run through. The ashtray between them was overflowing from chainsmoking.

The waitress came to replace it and Quinn simply looked at the

floor. After a while, he stood up, turned out his pockets for his money, rebuffing

Jimmy’s attempt to pay.

Outside there was a shock of air reflected cold off the ground. Quinn

moved to the alleyway leaning a hand against the alley wall, vomiting then

collapsing to the ground.



-I know Elaine was supposed to drive me there tomorrow. But I

need you to do it. His fingers went pink from the cold. He picked up a pebble

and tried to break it.


-College-boy. Get rid of learning and there will be no anxiety. He

tilted his head back against the wall. They awaited in a silence drawn out like

a dagger, with a curious fear, for the rain to become a downpour, but at the

moment it was only a small drizzle. Do you want to know the truth? I never

learned how to compromise… He breathed in and out. Y’know, we should go

slash Alex’s tires.

They sat in a protracted silence for a few minutes more. What

neither could have expected was that in a few months, after finishing basic

training, Quinn would decide to swim with from one side of a lake to the

other with some other newly baptized servicemen, and misjudge the lake’s

diameter, and find he hadn’t the strength to continue to the other side, and


But for now, they sat in the alley behind Churchill’s. Fading ink-blot

sky, scummy border of polluting city lights in the background. A door opened

down the alley, and into the stains of liquid garbage a baker threw the aged

crullers. A rain-smothered scent of butter and yeast blew down to them in

the breeze as they sat, trying to find the right words.



Smoke rises

from the roof

across the way,

and the way the

chimney belches

makes the place

like an engine

stopped and waiting

at the station

for the time to


and move on

down the line.

Homes pass,

one to another,

walls yawn


doors open

as easily for

you or for

just anyone

who has and

comes to hold

the transient key.

Old Eleanor

next door,

not next door


Today she lies


in her last

cupboard out

at Roselawn,

a week ago

her bricks

breathed too

into the frigid

sky, today

they stand cold,

coldly waiting . . .

36 | Prose Poetry | 37

When I am 40 and you are 4


The moment you were harvested through my abdomen

a poem

was planted

in my heart

April and snow

I did the math

about your growth

When I am 40

and you are 4

The Great Inventions


The invention of moonlight was a secret kept under an owl’s wing.

The invention of night was managed by the trees who needed some shade themselves.

The invention of lightning gave thunder ancestors.

The invention of icicles gave the sun something to play with.

The invention of breath started with a small gasp of surprise.

The invention of lakes let fish breathe a sigh of relief.

Even phosphorescence bubbled in half-light.

The invention of love was an accident that couldn’t be reversed.

The invention of whistling, pioneered by birds, gave men a way to express joy

when they think they are alone.

The invention of cats provided everyone with something to love, except birds.

The invention of the rheumy eye let old people cry all the time without tears.

The invention of crumbs let us know it was okay to fall apart.

The invention of words put experience in our mouths

and each sentence took us one step further from the land.

The invention of the sundial introduced abstract thought to the garden.

It will have been five years

since I read that Harvard study

that said avocados

would help me make you

since your father

began to inject my muscles

with a sticky oil fertilizer

you a poppy seed

you a kidney bean

you a plum

and that Thanksgiving

we would feel you

for the first time

kick as you cooked

a curlicued turkey

wattling in the womb

we would move the treadmill

into the garage

and hang a bunny on the wall

I dangled carrots over my head

until March

A single soul inhabiting two bodies

feeling like a beautiful pig

it makes so much sense that you are the sun

born brave as a wild boar

now I am 40

and you are 4

38 | Poetry Poetry | 39




Safe Passage


folding socks

all that remain

are mine


I don’t normally dress this way, but I had only a few moments

to pack though I have been ready for days, all my life, really.

We never trusted them. It seems silly to wear a fur coat, but it

was my mothers. I needed her arms around me. I wear many

layers and all my pockets stuffed with handkerchiefs and socks

for the hundreds of little emergencies, mine and others, on this

journey. I’m glad I have these heavy shoes. My husband made

fun of me. He stayed behind, to fight. These shoes. Not

glamorous but practical. Put that on my headstone, eh?

40 | Poetry Poetry | 41


In order of appearance

Molly Stover

I live in Saginaw with my spouse and our two pets, Koda (dog) and Lilo (cat).

I am a nursing student and will be starting the BSN program in the fall. My

interests include animals, listening to music of all kinds, songwriting/poetry,

piano playing, traveling, binging good (arguable if you ask my wife) shows,

and collecting useless, fun tidbits of knowledge (my mind is a lint trap). I

am logical and down-to-earth but I also don’t shy away from fun/outlandish

musings. I love to laugh and enjoy the laughter of others. I always put my

shopping cart back in the cart corral. Mom raised a decent human.

Hannah Ryder

Hannah Ryder holds an MFA from Savannah College of Art & Design. Her

work appears in Great Lakes Review and Port City Review. Find more at


Ra-Londa Southwell

My first love was art; drawing, painting, writing, using whatever I could find

to create something unique or beautiful. Professionally, I work as a nurse,

but those are still my favorite hobbies today. This painting had emotional

significance for me as well, which I attempted to capture in the title.

Markayla Clements

Hey! My name is Markayla Clements and I’m currently pursuing my

bachelor’s in Nursing this semester. I am a 24-year-old Flint native and love

our city. I love the emerging rustle and bustle the city has gained. This new

creative space has been a solace for me during this tough time the world has

endured. I have been writing/ performing poetry for a few years now.

Storytelling is one of my favorite ways to learn and connect with the world

around me. Besides writing, I enjoy the ins and outs of the Film world,

photography, music, collecting manga/ anime, and most of all sharing a good

meal with friends. I’m so honored to have my poem featured this semester.

I hope it encourages people to stop and enjoy the small things in life. A new

beginning is here. Thank you.

Rene Ribant-Amthor

Rene Ribant-Amthor recently became a Doctor of Education through the

University of Michigan-Flint. She is a high school assistant principal in

Macomb County, MI. When she is not trying to make the world a better place

through education, Rene enjoys spending time with her children, traveling,

and writing.

Coner Segren

Born in Flint, Michigan. Graduated from Mott Community College with an

Associates in Liberal Arts in 2018. Then attended University of

Michigan-Flint where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy in

2021. Journalism previously published in East Village Magazine.

John Riggins

I’ve always had a passion for poetry, a simple beat would be the recipe for

me Pulling out the notepad and writing some words down. I’ll say my biggest

influences are my family (Especially my late grandfather) and my former

saxophone teacher Ms. Dale who passed away years ago. I always promised

I would write a poem, or at least do a song in their honor And also, stand

with the people of Ukraine. Poetry is art, it gives people mental & emotional

support, I call it medicine. Always, keep your head up!

With love,

John Riggins

Priscilla Atkins

Priscilla Atkins, raised in central Illinois, has lived in Massachusetts,

California and Hawaii. These days she reads and frets and teaches in

Michigan. In addition to poems in journals, she has published The Café of

Our Departure (Sibling Rivalry Press) and Drinking the Pink (Seven Kitchens


Jacob Blumner

Jacob Blumner is a teacher and writer living in Flint, Michigan. His haiku

have appeared in numerous publications including Frogpond, Bloo Outlier

Journal, Wales Haiku Journal, and Failed Haiku. When not hugging trees or

taking his dog into the woods, he enjoys spending time with his family.

Robert Vivian

RV’s latest book, co-edited with Joel Peckham, is Wild Gods: The Ecstatic In

Contemporary Poetry & Prose.

42 | Contributors Contributors | 43

Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is a current UM-Flint student graduating this semester with

a Bachelor of Arts. He was previously on the staff of Qua as Assistant Poetry

Editor and, later, Poetry Editor. His work has been published in Temenos

Literary Journal, the Best Emerging Poet series for the state of Michigan,

and other publications.

Mary Anna Scenga Kruch

Mary Anna Scenga Kruch supervises student teachers and leads a writing

group. Her publications include We Draw Breath from the Same Sky (2019)

and Grace Notes: A Memoir in Poetry & Prose (2021). Recent poetry appears

in Ovunque Siamo, and Peninsula Writers and is forthcoming in Wayne

Literary Review and Red Wolf Journal.

Vicky Dawson

Vicky Dawson—writer, mother, and nature lover. Also, a novice wire crafter

who fell in love with creating crystal trees. Now, she has a tiny forest of

gemstone trees scattered throughout the house. So, she decided, why not

transform the experience into poetry, too.

Terri Watrous Berry

Terri Watrous Berry’s poetry has appeared for over thirty-five years in

anthologies and journals, most recently House of Zolo’s Journal of

Speculative Literature’s volume on climate change, Wising Up’s

anthology regarding Adult Children, Oprelle’s collection of their Master’s

Contest finalists, and Syncopation Literary Journal’s upcoming issue on Ages

and Changes.

Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Elizabeth Kerlikowske’s new chapbook, The Vaudeville Horse: Prose Poems,

will be out soon from Etchings Press. She lives in Kalamazoo and is past

president of Friends of Poetry and The Poetry Society of Michigan. Her work

has recently appeared in sleet, MSU Short Edition Home and Passager. She

walks, watches, and remembers.

Amy Conger

Amy Conger is a writer living in Michigan.

Katrenia G. Busch

Katrenia G. Busch is an entertainment writer for Heart of Hollywood Magazine,

journal reviewer for The American Psychological Association and her

works have appeared in Westward Quarterly, Bloom Magazine, The Trouvaille

Review, 50 Give or Take, Flora Fiction among others. She also runs a

local neighborhood watch in her community.

Connor Bryant-Ott

Hey y’all! My name is Connor, and I am a student at UM-Flint through the

Grand Blanc Early College program, with a Mathematics major and an

Economics minor. In my spare time, you can find me writing poetry,

listening to music and songwriting, or spending time with some friends. I

hope everybody’s having a great semester!

Alexzander Kyle

Alexzander Kyle is an aspiring psychiatrist. Writing a simple poem is his way

of getting a bit of stress out. As well as a way to add creativity and enjoyment

back into writing when most often it’s tied to work or school.

44 | Contributors Contributors | 45

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