Monday, December 12, 2011

Photograph by Nicole Dahlmer

The Lament of the Restless Ophelia by Pauline Cruz

Act 4, Scene 8

[Ophelia’s Ghost enters on stage]

Ophelia’s Ghost

Oh, Hamlet! Why did you drive me to this?
Why throw me in the abyss of despair?
I loved you and I thought you felt the same.
But was it all a ruse, an illusion?
Did I become like dead flowers to you?
Once you treated me like a fine red rose.
Then you abhorred me like I was nightshade.
Is it my fault for abandoning you,
When you needed my love for you the most?
Should I have disregarded my father,
And ran towards you when I had the chance?
Should I have ignored my dear brother,
And given you my violets instead?
As the rain falls strongly so do my tears.
My tears run like the brook that took my life.
Surrounded by flowers, I drowned and died.
Madness led me to believe that I’d live,
That I would melt into the blue waters,
That I would be restored like the flowers,
Heliotrope, Lily of the Valley
Orange Blossoms and the Forget-me-not
After all, they are most beautiful wet
But instead life is worthless as weeds.
I gave you everything and look at me.
I have no reason to exist again!
Now the king and my brother seek your death.
There is nothing I can do to stop this!
All I can give you now are these few words.
Take care, my dear Hamlet, tread carefully,
Or end up a wandering ghost like me.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist by Lucas Olson

Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist
by Lucas Olson
- Preface -
Here I sit.
Book at my feet,
storm rolling by above my window.
There is no better time to write,
I think
than in the evening
while nature happens upstairs.
It's a poetic occurrence,
that begs a poetic response,
begs the writer to write,
the reader to read.
“Now.” the thunder roars.
Yes, then.

- I -
Portrait of the young man
as an artist
Can the former
be the latter?
Young has connotations.
Youth, even more.
It doesn't call to teenagers
as much as to children.
To me at least.
To my ear
and eye
and finger.
It summons
what the young call young
The elementary
and the kindergarten.

Pouting on foam letters
because I annoyed my
best friend too much
But it's nothing in ten minutes
(When looking backwards,
all time ten minutes)
Because we'll run over rocks
and over a red wooden playground
(That's gone now
I used to have a splinter as a keepsake.
That's gone now too.)
Ten minutes later
we're around a spring pool
filled with tadpoles and April mud
In ten minutes
it's dried.
In another ten minutes
the park is gone.
In ten more
so is he.
into a deeper Mass.
He's a different person now.
Of course, so am I.
The caster of the shadow of my former self
But it was nice while it was there.

I met him
when we moved in,
Into the light blue apartment
(like a castle to me then)
The rug was dark blue,
I always scraped my knees on it.

There used to be
a bush in the front
(two actually,
but one was
the hornet's castle)
If you crawled under a break in the brush
(your knees squishing the
powder blue berries
into green juices)
you could climb through the web of branches
and peak into the outside
from your cavern of wooden arms.

It's gone now
(Both of them)
Pulled and tugged
from the place it called home.
To make room for patches of dirt,
I suppose.

- II -
I didn't want to include
my age in the title.
has connotations as well.
More apt to conjure images
of a magazine built on stereotypes
than of a young man with a notebook.
(Though it's not like I'm
the target audience)
That's the problem with
branding an age.
They've stolen a year of associations.

- III -
B is a loaded letter,
isn't it?
It's one that stings
and one that questions.
What is it to be?
what is it to be a bee?

Though I suppose many of us know,
since it's hard to be a child
and not dance through a field thick with pollen
breathing in the smell of June.
(That's a smell right?
That's not just me?)

I know that I have.
I've stood in more June fields
than you can count on one hand.
I've stood in June fields in
and in
and in

I've stood in June fields in
the pine forests
on grainy, sweating beaches.

It's not so much an actual place to me
as an idea.
A picturesque grassy field
fenced in by leafy trees
waving “Hello” as the wind prods at them.
This isn't somewhere real.
Not really.
If it is, it's uncommon.

It's a usurped memory.
The seeds of a whole forest
planted in our heads
perhaps by media
perhaps by evolution.

Whatever the case,
we've all run through Elysium
and come clear out the other side.
We forgot where it was,
so we just made more
and projected them on top of
other memories.

- IV -
Does the world
ever really get older,
if there are still young eyes looking at it?
It seems to age personally.
The 80 year old war veteran next door
certainly didn't live in my world.
Nor me in his.

His was a old world
with new things coming in
and trying to change it.
My world is new things.
My world is change.

But somewhere there is a newer world.
Where someone still doesn't know how it works.
Or how we think it works.
Or how I think we think it works.

Where there are still witches in the basement
and dragons in the attic.
And where your room can
still become a forest
if you think hard enough.

I can still turn things into a forest.
It's different though.
I have to describe the stretching,
bedposts as they grow thick
and throw their rough limbs outward.

I have to describe the carpet,
as the light brown
melds into a darker one
and softens into earthy loam
thick with curling leaves
and orange needles.

I have to describe the walls,
as they melt away and fall into
the trees behind them
taking along the ceiling
leaving only damp leaves
and moonlight
in its stead.

I have to describe the air,
as it thickens
and deepens
and the smell of petrichor
and moss
begin to bleed into the oxygen.

I have to describe the sound
as the roar of cars
and the ring of speakers
tilts into moving water
and chirping crickets.

I can still do it.
It's different than before,
but it can be done.
I can put the thoughts in the ink.
But it may take a lot of ink.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Empty House by Lucas Olson

            Mark woke up in the dark, reeling from a hazy dream. To him it felt like an unnatural, uncomfortable darkness, as if his eyes had refused to adjust. But that didn't make any sense, because he could see everything in his room. Actually, there was light leaking in through the crack of his door. Stumbling his way out of bed and into the hallway, he came into the bathroom. He tried to remember leaving the light on, but that thought trailed away from him. He simply wanted to go back to sleep. To Sleep, Perchance to Dream, he thought, and he flicked off the light.
            Mark woke up in the dark, reeling from a hazy dream. Finding the bathroom light flooding into the hallway, he got out of bed and turned it off. As soon as the light was off, Mark was left in the same blind darkness he'd woken in. He rubbed his eyes, giving them a few moments to readjust, when he looked up he saw something written in condensation on the mirror. Yet Another Walker in the Darkness, it said, in rough, uneven strokes, as if by an urgent finger. It occurred to him that he really shouldn't be able to read anything in this sort of darkness. And that there was no reason for there to be any sort of mist on the mirror, unless someone had been breathing on it. In that moment, Mark was keenly aware of his own discomfort. Of the standing hairs on his neck. Of his tightening muscles. He was quickly overtaken with the idea that if he could grab a flashlight it would be okay. It would be okay. But the flashlight was downstairs. Then he'd go downstairs, he thought. He moved hastily out into the hall, and wrapped his fingers tightly around the bannister, urging his feet to move forward.
            Mark woke up in the dark, reeling from a hazy dream. He got up to turn off the bathroom light, and found discomforting words written in the dark on his mirror. He felt a pull to get his flashlight, and rushed to push himself down the stairs. Moving as swiftly as he could down the wooden stairway, he was overwhelmed with a sudden thought: Eyes Front. He'd be alright if he kept looking forward. If he just kept his eyes facing front wherever he looked, he could make it to his flashlight. Just, don't look in the periphery, he thought, don't turn around. Eyes Front. Do not think about what might be behind you, or around you, or above you, or below you. Eyes Front. He just needed to keep his eyes ahead of him, and get to the flashlight in the second drawer below the cupboard. The big metal Mag-Light flashlight with the rubber grip. Eyes Front. He moved over the linoleum of the kitchen. The cold floor made his back shiver for a moment. At least he thought it was the floor. He hoped it was the floor. He made it to the drawer, and urgently yanked it open. Too urgently, as the drawer fell out and its contents spilled across the linoleum floor. He swore, and clamored over the mess, feeling for the flashlight. He let out a relieved breath when he found it, and let his eyes wander again. In the periphery, out behind him, he caught a shadow flick away from the base of the stairs, into the living room. His breath caught in his throat for a moment. That had been foolish. Eyes Front. He thumbed for the button on the flashlight. He was suddenly taken with the idea of leaving the house. Yes, he thought, get out of the house. The flashlight came on, splashing light against his back door. He moved to follow it, and clutched the doorknob.
            Mark woke up in the dark, reeling from a hazy dream. He got up to turn off the bathroom light, and found writing on his mirror. He rushed to get his flashlight, keeping his eyes from noticing too much. He got his flashlight, but his vision betrayed him. He was moving quickly out of his house now. The flashlight was making deep shadows as it washed over the copse of trees in the rear of his yard. There was a term for that sort of thing, when it was used in art. It seemed to escape him, but the word Chiaroscuro came to him after a few moments, as if coming in through a back door. He couldn't think about that though. He had to focus now. Keep the light on. Eyes front. Get away from the house. He couldn't take the car, the keys were back inside. He'd move around the house then, following the long dirt driveway. The road was out there somewhere, behind the trees. He moved with the same urgency as before, keeping the light in front of him. But the light only made the darks seem darker. And twice he swept over a pair of glowing orbs, leering out from the edge of the lawn. The trees rustled above him as he moved. At first he thought it was the wind, he hoped it was the wind, but it was only one tree at a time. Worse than that, every now and then he would hear something behind him. Noises. Organic noises. Breathing and moving and pulsing and living and stalking. He ran now. He gave up on just an urgent pace. He ran. That seemed to be a mistake though. It was harder to keep the light focused. To keep his eyes front. He caught edges of shade and tips of shadows. Still he kept moving. Then he tripped, falling forward into the dirt of the drive. He kept his eyes closed. At least this darkness was his own. He had wanted to get back to sleep anyway.
            Mark woke up in the dark, reeling from a hazy dream. The darkness seemed impenetrable, except for the light from the hallway dripping under his bedroom door. The words left his mouth before he knew what he was saying. To Sleep, Perchance to Dream Again.

Life's Music by Sarah Zuidema

Life's Music

A whisp of words,
A tinkling of notes,
The soul's sweet voice raised on high.
The harmonious trails of silence ring in our ears,
And intonations built on emotions
Reproduce their origins in passers-by.
The bottles of screams roll down cheeks,
Smiles squeak and bounce to pull past teeth,
We wiggle and sway,
To the rhythm of our hearts' familiar grace.
The peace of sorrow,
The heights of joy,
A burst of pure life,
No flat sound do we hear.
The colors of sunrise,
The trickling of rain,
A vitality so near,
A pounding in sync.
We vibrate within our shells,
Creating melodies of our own,
Adding to the waves we receive,
And building our song.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Photograph by Nicole Dahlmer

I'm Stuck by Sarah Zuidema


I'm stuck.
in a hole,
in gum,
in a chair.

I'm stuck.
in conceit,
in deception,
in despair.

I'm stuck.
in sin,
in mistrust,
in lies.

I'm stuck.
in stereotypes,
in expectations,
in a perspective.

I'm stuck.
in work,
in impressions,
in words.

I'm stuck.
in the past,
in the present,
in the future.

I'm stuck.
in hope
in touch,
in love.

I'm stuck in the net of the human race.
in the world's norms,
my own goals,
my life's pounding.

Time to break free.
Who but me holds me here?
Who says I can't live with integrity?
Who says what I've done is worthless?
Who says I'm not already who I want to be?
Who says I'm stuck?

Portrait by Pauline Cruz

Photogram by Pauline Cruz

Books for Sale by Pauline Cruz

As I lie on my back, I nervously watch people move around the room, sometimes passing my table without a second glance. I look over at the others; some are sleeping and some are staring straight at the ceiling. I shift my glance at the giants standing guard over us with bored, blank looks on their faces. I look away and start praying for my pages. I’m a used book, you see, and today my friends and I are going on sale. I remember the good old days when I was fresh off the printing press. I was packed in a big box with my clones and shipped to some bookstore in some city. I watched as people came in the store everyday and browsed around. Every day, I sat back as my clones were picked up by someone. Sometimes, they were flipped through and set back on the rack in the same moment. Other days, they were carefully leafed through and, if they were lucky enough, taken home by that person after an exchange of money with the cashier. Soon, it’s my turn to go and I am promptly taken home by a female with her parents and her siblings. I tremble at the memories that were planted in my mind after my purchase. After years of having my insides ripped and torn, having various liquids spilled/written all over me, and being tossed and thrown around, my salvation finally came when I was put into a donation box for a library. The librarians almost rejected me, but after careful restoration to my pages and binding, I was ready for the shelves. The kids that borrowed me varied from day to day. Some of them would take me home, flip through my pages, and stuff me in their backpack so they could return me they next day. Others took me home and scrutinized my insides carefully; drinking in the story I had to offer. Now, after years of going back and forth from the library, I’m here lying on a table, ready for a new home…or so they think. I’m shaking inside, praying to my author (wherever he/she is) that I won’t have to go through the torment I had to endure after my first purchase. But with my luck, I’ll probably get someone with a massive dog that’ll use my as a chew toy. I can already see it now. Pieces of my pages flying all over the place. Me trapped in a prison of sharp teeth and disgusting saliva. I tremble just thinking about it. But just as I think I’m a goner, I look up and see her. A female looking down at me like I’m some sort of gem or precious treasure. She gently picks me up and starts to flip my pages, examining them and making sure I’m readable. After what seems like an eternity, she hugs me to her chest and asks to buy me. After the usual exchange of money, she turns around and walks out the door with me in her hands. I look up at her and see her smiling and I know that I’m going to be well taken care of for the rest of my days.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pinwheel by Nicole Dahlmer

Texting by Elizabeth Stephens



6 twice
6 three times
7 four times
6 three times
Double 7 three times
9 three times.
Sad face.

Delete delete.

One less than sign,
And a three.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Drastic Hesitance (by Elizabeth MacDougal)

To prove you could I saw you draw
Yourself aside against
The gravity of ages---wrong
Partaking circumstance.

An elbow transfers energy
More than a lightning strike.
Drawn in by this community
To drown in dry and drink.

Sweet hyssop I have never known---
It is the thing it is---
Until we candy---to commune---
The plant---you break from this.

As how could we who have not lived
Give lives and love---and leave
The questioning of what we give---
Ascribe not ascertain?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Mute (by Elizabeth MacDougal)

She lost herself to sacred things
Adored the polished brass
Became the sainted bones

From our hardened lips
We turn marble words
That cannot rise
That cannot take us with them

The wood could not be trained to speak
So she burned the forest down
Walked away with a nail in her mouth, stone in her hand

Found a telephone pole, called the place Sedbo'u
Knocked a For Sale sign
In above her head, her back to the post

From our hardened lips
We turn marble words
That will not rise
That would not take us with them

I passed with vinegar three times
She wanted water, but
That was never done before

Now Sedbo'u is Spatium
The wires were placed underground
Everyone knew this was coming
But nobody saw her go

From our hardened lips
We turn marble words
That will not rise
We polish them

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Professor Patrick Lewis Grangerford, Pre-Law, & Graduate Physical Sciences, & Co-Chair of Dept.

(By Madeleine MacDougal)

“Professor Patrick Grangerford,” read the gold letters on the door of room 228, which is where Professor Patrick Grangerford teaches. He has 137 pupils to whom he lectures at nine o’ clock in the morning, and again at four in the afternoon.
His pupils enjoy him and his classes are full. In fact, Prof. Grangerford has just been given a salary raise, but he has yet to learn this; instead, as he packs his things–a favorite pen, or a coffee mug given him by a student–into his bag, he’s thinking about his little daughter at home, who’s just started liking Barbie and who watches Dragon Tales on the TV. Just like on every other Thursday afternoon–it is Thursday, and Prof. Grangerford is flying to New Orleans this weekend–he locks the supply cabinet, shuts off the overhead, and then pulls the shades to.
But something happens, and he does not pull the shades (and maybe the janitor would question this, but he wouldn’t ever have an answer for why). Prof. P. Grangerford either forgets to pull them, or else is stopped--prevented physically from doing so–and something has caused this (because it can't have been any fault of his own).
Actually, Professor G. is probably in the act of doing so when, crawling onto the window frame to reach a shade, he looks through a window pane and sees something through it. He cannot understand, at first, what he's seeing, so squints, but something has undeniably clumb onto a high-up windowsill within the stairwell of another wing, and is (probably) clutching its knees (or maybe it's lying prostrate); but, anyhow, that figure in the window is a person–a startling person–whom Prof. G. knows (after he recovers from the sight) is in distress.
After a few minutes’ elapse, he has come through a couple hallways and has found the stairwell and the phantom. She is sitting, and she is dangling a leg where it rubs the glass. She’s oblivious, even though Professor Grangerford knows that his phantom (no longer a phantom, but a person with a thought and a will) has heard his tapping shoes on the polished floor.
“G’deevning”–his words are not so loud, nor so sudden, and are almost expected.
A nod replaces reply. He becomes frustrated.
“Are you all right?”–this time, his words seem to break the atmosphere, and they sound frustrated. The creature, the girl, must know that the words are for his gain, and not for hers–but they are truly spoken out of concern.
She speaks in what is almost a cough. Professor G. hears the dry lips tear apart before the utterance of speech, and it seems the very muscles in that unattuned throat have nearly forgotten their use.
“Mmm hmm.”
His action has proved ineffectual. The Professor's reaction evoked by this student is useless. Suavity has failed him: he climbs the stairs and his tapping shoes tap down along another hallway around the corner.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Retrograde Creation

Let there be no light to flaw the dark.
Let sky
and land
and sea form into one.
Let Adam’s feet
return to clay,
and breath,
Let it d i f f u s e
before it pass the tongue

Into the crumbling man turning earth
Into the black gas, choking,
Into mechanical turning of earth
Into rivers, streams yet-smoking

While some billion counted crowns are fed
Necessity commercialized, electric shocks;
Some billion-dollar industry thanking,
(moments some billion years undoing).

Earth bled, Say, and shrank to nothing.
Say I shrank and nothing bled,
That my lips one dark breath choked
On indecision|Barring Eden

no sword.
(in my head).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Elicitor Volume XXIV is here!

Please join us at the Pleasant Street Tea Company on Monday, March 21 at 3:30 pm to celebrate the arrival of the 2009-2010 (Volume XXIV) Elicitor with a special preview of the 2010-2011 (Volume XXV) issue, which will come out in June.

Volume XXIV includes work by Sarah Zuidema, Madeline MacDougal, Tyler Devlin, Micaela O'Connor, Joanna McKinnon, Wes Dunn, Maryka Gillis, Alexandra Hanley, Hannah Sumner, Pauline Cruz, Elizabeth MacDougal, Kristina Bandoni, Alex Bigger-Allen, Philip Curcuru, Ryan Fulford, Kara Papa, and last year's editors Eric Brown, Amy Carpenter, Hayden Wilson, and Terri Moody.

The preview of volume XXV includes a photograph by Lucas Olson, microfiction by Nicole Dahlmer, and a poem by Elizabeth MacDougal.

Join us!

Monday, March 7, 2011

......... ...-elizabeth macdougal.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Low Expectations (By Elizabeth Macdougal)

When this mottled sycamore no longer breathes
Nor wants of limbs they hewed to clear the view
Of that, the breath of this transpired to dew,
Young waterway gone brackish, salt marsh greaves
I could recall from grasses now frost sheaves,
Divert my mind from roads salt-crusted, cracked
That brackish turn the sweeter water (cast
By car tires, trudging, gritty splashes; leaked
To huddled roots corroding froze-bark sleeves
Tucked up, tight, pericyclic; toxin-wracked),
Could overlook, not focus my fault shared,
Or silent tongue, preserving (hushed) the soul,
To know of somewhere's influence yet spared,
That time dispensing which: facile--until.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Low Expectations, or One If By Sea (By Tom Martin)

It was dark, and it was cold, and it was quiet.

And then the rain came.

That's all I remember.

But it might have gone like this:

It was a Thursday evening when I made the decision, as good a day as any to be drastically dramatic. “It's now or never,” I say. And “never” was really not an option at all. The moment was now.

I get in, close the door. No sound, no warmth. It's cold. It's always cold here. Even in the blistering heat of the summer's reign, this town is still cold, cold and unforgiving.

I drive down the hills. The roads aren't smooth, not safe at all, but I go faster and faster until-bump-I almost crashed, I swear I almost crashed.

It was as if my life flashed before my eyes.

And how very dreary it was.

The roads are flat now, better for the brakes they say.

I stop, even though I don't have to, look, even though I don't have to.

What exactly is the right-of-way anyways?

Which way am I going, how do I have it, and is it really right?

I don't really question, I just think.

I pull out into the street and I just wait, just for a little bit, for no real reason at all.

What if this is my last moment?

What if right now, a car speeding by in the oppressive darkness strikes me dead, cold.

What if a meteor falls from the sky and crushes me into a million little pieces, gone.

What if?

A few more moments pass me by and I'm closer now. I'm closer to the shore. I can sense it as I roll down my windows and inhale the scent, the salty, bitter cold of the sea air. It thrusts past me, what else, cold. And just when I begin to think that maybe this isn't right, maybe there is no perfect place, I am here, this is it. I pull over to the side of the road, get out of my car and walk slowly, but surely to the bridge. I walk the planks, they creak, I don't care, it's none of their business. The sand brushed upon the wooden floor beneath me causes traction between it and my shoes. “Don't” it says, “go back”.

But I keep walking. I keep walking.

As I take my first steps into the sand, I nearly couldn't get back up, it pulls me in, trying to engulf me in one fell swoop. Over and over again, I escape. I hate the sand and have no time for it now. No time. I continue the routine until the sand is hard enough and more stable that it lets me go. I am practically thrown upon the beach. I walk little by little to the shore's line. It ebbs and flows in a rhythmic pattern, pushing closer and yet farther away from me. The stars are all I see above, small specks in the massive insignificance. The tide comes in higher now, it reaches my shoes. I paid good money for them. Such a shame. Splash, splash, splash. I'm an obstruction. An obstacle.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard that…

Why think anymore, why bother? This is it, this is the moment. The sea is calling me. I look out for one last moment; the expansiveness of the ocean astounds me and terrifies me all at the same time. I would be just as essential there as I am here. Might as well be. I run. I can't jump, it's up to my ankles. So I run. I run into the sea and I don't stop. I'm soaking wet. I hate wet socks, I hate them. I run until I can't run any longer, until my feet can't touch the ground and until I can't feel anything at all. I float flat on my back and look up. But it was then, that I remember, looking up, that a drop of water hit my forehead. It was dark, and it was cold, and it was quiet. And then the rain came. It poured down unto me and then I realized that this isn't how it's supposed to end, and that I'm not the best swimmer, and the stars were there for a reason, and then I remembered that he said he would never let us perish by flood ever again.

So I got out, I got out of there. I pushed my way back to the beach, and fell down again once I hit the land. I looked up again, still in the pouring rain, and thought this was good enough. So I laid there and waited, and breathed.

When I was ready, I got up, and started to walk back to my car, and back home.

Pretending none of this had ever happened, and that it was all better now.

Which, I'd like to think, it was.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Marsh by Maryka Gillis

Posted by Picasa

Essex by Lucas Olson

Posted by Picasa

Cool Water by Lucas Olson

Posted by Picasa

Arch by Lucas Olson

Posted by Picasa

The Graveyard by Elizabeth MacDougal

The Graveyard

They are quiet now. Cold frost cannot nip colder toes. Dead heads of last season’s grass grows thick with the white precipitate. And heaped over still-standing stones in the wall, drifted tall against the slanted slates so old, the snow will inundate the solid turf in time. But now the winter scene that plays upon a stage which should be so serene, does not tell of future thaw–nor does it tell of death.

My life has always been an animated thing untinged by the solemn bodies below the overgrown curvature of earth which composes the grave yard’s bed. Observing now the locust trees grown tall and thorny in their age among the last age’s life, I can recall little foreboding in their imposing form; more memories of them are tense from the dread of discovery as I crouched behind their rough trunks in a neighborhood game of manhunt. The effect of the Dead beneath my feet was no fresher then than now, and the symbolic grievance of the graves seemed a thing unnatural in emotion, yet natural as a response. The yard to me is a human construction that I know to be a cry–yet cannot hear. I have noted, sure, the growth of the stones as the dated centuries changed, as though the deceased feared each other’s fate, and tried to reach high from where they lay. I knew they were no more. As I looked out the window each morning, though, or left the house, catching sight unconsciously of the long cemetery, the tombs became a familiar presence, rather than the tags of absence.

Frost has now obscured the scene, and where I have just pressed my warm palm, its print still dripping, a different churchyard is visible. Hundreds of graves, this time blank, attest to unknown death. In this absent note of absence, I am reminded for whom the bell tolls.