Contributors

Kazoo Wendy Bagnato
Steam Punk One Renee Bassett
Steam Punk Two Renee Bassett
The Grand Steamboat Elaine Pettus
Unimaginable Power Sasha Robinson
Inside Kari Vanderburg
Collaborative Drawing: Two Skulls Kelda Martensen
Whistling Lauren Davis
African Laura Vasyutynska
The Statement Mark McCarthy
Pilgrimage J. Tonkinson
Dragging Anchor J. Tonkinson
PHOTOGRAPH James Berglund
Directions Sasha Robinson
13:11 April Keroack
Anger Management Matt Rice
The Nude John Pierce
Dreams Joey Shyloski
Loss Joey Shyloski
Oregon Coast After Sunset Jean Shaffer
Losing Dave Jean Shaffer
Let Her Go Yiyue Lin
In the Hallway Kari Vanderburg
My Father’s Hat Claudia Atwell Camouse
Pool rack Monica S. Gonzalez
Ride Sky Earth Youngblood
What Goes Unsaid Sky Earth Youngblood
Mike Walker’s Wives Paint It Black Lindsey Walker
Paradise Taylor Whiteley
Global Cityscapes Monica S. Gonzalez
Safety Net Caroline Recker
Under the Pear Tree Elaine Pettus
Forget-Me-Not Kenji Takada-Dill
Joyful Ride of Skipping Rocks Elaine Pettus
Bird Brooch Megan Neill
Connections James Berglund
sailboat Angeline Johnson
Frosty maple Joanne Spink
Grandfather’s Path Isaac Ralston
The Bouncer Joan Huling
Celestial Vivian Wang
On the Nature of Silence Claudia Atwell Camouse
HOLGA/Sidewalk Joey Shyloski
As Days Go By Benjamin Inks
Shrooms and Kiwi John Pierce
Castoffs Lindsey Walker
We Crumble Kelly Hobkirk
Mirror Me Enkhgerel Byambadorj
John Angeline Johnson
They Call Suicide the Crime Lauren Davis
Beatz John-Michael Gray
Youth in Fluctuation aka When Unicorns Sneeze Andy Blue
Catgirl Unimpressed John-Michael Gray
Engineered with Beauty Jean Shaffer
Le Chemin Vagabond/ The Vagabond Path Andria Figarelli
And to the Right You’ll See John Pierce
Ko Nene Mi Wietee – My Name is Nene Grace McNalley
I Meow Therefore I am Vivian Wang
Love Affair Rick Harkewicz
Another Day At Work Rick Harkewicz
Prophets and Oracles Angeline Johnson
HOLGA/JFK Joey Shyloski
The Tagger Dianne Garcia
Mehrangarh Fort Sarah Nagpal
Yesterday’s Summer David Larson
Dragonfly Sasha Robinson
Naturally Selana Ingalsbe
Disorient Michael Anthony Tuskin
Outdoor Mark McCarthy
1977/1999 J. Tonkinson
Le Bleu Bicycle Misty Smith
The Milky Mirror Lake Forest Yang Guo (Amber)
Van Gogh Adrienne Sheard
Hightide Juanita Prieto

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Lindsey Walker

Mike Walker’s Wives Paint It Black

My stepmother floats like driftwood

away from the front door in sweatpants

and crumpled face. My father is dying in the living room,

and nobody knows what to do. Everyone looks at their hands;

they must have really interesting fingernails..

Slits for eyes that won’t close; open jaw, dry mouth, limp hair

hanging long like the Cryptkeeper. My father has no talent for dying;

he sits upright, jerks his legs, grabs the arms of wife, ex-wife, siblings, mothers.

He jerks because he hurts because he has no drugs. His nurse

left eighteen bottles of morphine but no syringes,

no way to flood his bloodstream. She left him a camp toilet

with just a seat and no basin to catch the waste.

My mother dumps two full bottles of morphine

into a gas station orange slushie, and we feed him dollops

through a spoon straw. She gets the hospice nurse on the phone.

My stepmother hugs my mother’s shoulders

and says “Lord,” and “Mercy,” and “Lord have mercy.”

The morphine’s not kicking in. He can’t lie down; it hurts

to move him. He makes a noise like a stab victim, and his chest

sounds wet on the inside.

I keep thinking what a dick Dylan Thomas was.

Why can’t he just go to sleep?

Father’s cats slip from room to room, press their bodies against the walls

the whole length of the hallway. The dogs press wet noses

against the sliding door. It’s late November, and brown leaves hook the deck railing.

We finally get syringes. Mother pops Dilaudid into his deltoid,

and it burns going in. He says “Fuck you!” and even though it’s the last sentence

he speaks, we won’t carve it on his tombstone. Father hauls off and punches

mother in the gut. He’s probably wanted to punch her for thirty years.

Night falls like pennies down a wishing well.

We can lay him down now. We stretch him out, prop pillows behind his head

and between his knees. He’s finished howling; now he calls his grandmother,

His own mother puts her hand on his head and he swats it away.

I put coffee on, and we joke about him, sure he can’t hear us,

about his motorcycle crashes, home tattoos, rock gigs gone wrong,

and now to die so domestically—

I can’t make words for him. I hold his hands. The tendons

and veins slide over each other. Dried out skin. Not handsome,

but they’ve always been musician’s hands, hard-labor hands,

and mechanic hands. I don’t know if he even recognizes me.

I’m here.

Dawn greys the window, and I curl under blankets

all the way to my chin in the back bedroom on the puncture-wounded

waterbed, duct-taped against cat claws,

and sleep is just a hand over my eyes.

My father waits but doesn’t know he waits

until everyone retreats to their warm homes where things smell normal, not sick,

until it’s quiet, just his wife. She whispers conjuration, prayer,

declaration, plea— then he’s gone.

Stepsisters shake me awake, and I never knew how fast a body cools

until I touch my father’s waxy brow and recoil.

And I call my father’s mother and say.

And I call my aunts and say. And I call my brother and say.

But my stepmother never asked him.

No plot picked out, no funeral home, no notion even to bury or cremate.

The hospice nurse checks for pulse and confiscates leftover meds.

The hospital calls for their bed back, but he’s still in it.

Daughters and sisters compare funeral rates like car insurance,

and I make too-hard biscuits and gravy, because everybody has to eat.

When two men in black slacks & white button-downs wheel in a gurney,

they tell us we shouldn’t look while they lay out the black bag

and heave my father from the bed, but we all stand in the white

morning light and watch them zip him shut.

Staff

 

Managing Editor– Melie Ros

Layout Editor– Cain Ao

 

Faculty Advisor– Tracy Heinlein

 

Poetry Editor– John Newman

Associate Poetry Editors– Tim Gleghorn, Abby Huang, Leanna Swane

 

Art Editor– Amanda Knowles

Associate Art Editors– Brenda Anderson, Abby Huang, Hajer Salih, Scott Hansford, Marlon Do Couto

 

Nonfiction Editor– Cohni Acevedo

Associate Nonfiction Editors– Dianne Garcia, Alex Poveda

 

Fiction Editor– Melia Lawrence

Associate Fiction Editors– Tim Gleghorn, James Berglund, Alexandra Calero, Leanna Swane

 

WordPress – Linh Tran

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Letter from Editor

Dear Reader,

When we look at something tangible, we can identify its physical design and purpose. Take this book, for instance: pages of varnished paper containing words and pictures— intended for you to read and view. That said, I invite you to engage beyond the tangible…join our adventure of the intangible—of the imagination—in this year’s Licton Springs Review. This journey travels the creative minds of our contributors and staff, who painstakingly cleared the way, creating a path revealing lush prose, poetry, and art.

We can identify a poem, prose, and art as stanzas, paragraphs, shapes and colors, respectively. When our brains deeply indulge in literature and art, however, we venture into the ether of vulnerability, emotion, and imagery. We imagine the high-pitch whistling sound of a boiling kettle, or cold, crisp air stinging our face, or the taste of salt from French fries.      I invite you to participate with us in this gift of adventure from the poet’s pen, the writer’s keyboard, the artist’s paintbrush, clay, pencil, or click of a camera, sharing what we trust you will enjoy as much as we did compiling it for you. Won’t you journey with us?

Sincerely,

Melie Ros

LSR 2014 Managing Editor
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Marcia Barton Award

The Marcia Barton Awards were instituted in 2003 and are awarded annually to contributors who excel in the categories of poetry, non-fiction, fiction and visual art. Marcia Barton, now a retired English instructor, founded the Licton Springs Review in 1991. $100 to one entry per category (Art, Essay, Fiction, Poetry).

 

2014 MARCIA BARTON AWARD WINNERS
POETRY

Wendy Bagnato

“Kazoo”

NON-FICTION

James Berglund

“Photograph”

FICTION

Mark McCarthy

“The Statement”

VISUAL ART

Megan Neill

“Bird Brooch”

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank President Mary Ellen O’Keeffe, Peter Lortz, Student Advisory Council, Jeffery Vasquez, Janet Hoppe-Leonard, Amy Lazerte, Michael Lilliston, Julianne Kirgis, Tony Sittner and the Highline Community College print shop, Sam Bayne and everyone in the IT department, Amanda Knowles, Gregory November, Kelda Martensen, Lynne Hull, David Eberhardt, Geoff Palmer, Melissa Grinely, Jamie Wilson, Adam Burdick, Clarke O’Reilly, Glenn Tramatano, Emily Gherard, Karen Sandy, Frank Garcia, Christina Scheuer, Earl Sedlik, Mohsen Salari, Julie McNalley, Jim Jewell, James Braden, Shawn Peterson, Michelle Kelly, Maureen Nutting, J.C. Clapp, Tige DeCoster, Reno Cook, Bonnie Mosley, Danielle Woods, Ryan Gallion, Kelda Martensen’s ART 111 class; Arlene Chan, Kiarra Davis, Bryan Essick, Brandon Hu, Sora Ishiwata, Emma Kalnasy, Caroline Liu, Jef Mangalin, Gerry Oei, Griffith Rees, Maggie Thompson, Margaret Sekijima, Karen Woodburn, Sherry Zheng. Thank you to Neil Eddington, Shreve Eddington, Jake Harlow, “Peydey” Eddington-Harlow, Brian Steiner, Tun Ros, Namea Ros, Sreyneang Ros, Lily Ros, Annie Ros, Rathveary Evanson, Jessica Lim, Rise group, Lin Ao, Fang Peng and, of course, you.

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Submission Guidelines

We accept work from all students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

Previously published work is not accepted.

The submission deadline is January 31st of each year.

Artwork

  •  All forms of art including, but not limited to, paintings, photography, sculptures, ceramics, video, music, computer graphics, etc.
  • Limit: 5 entries per person, per category.
  •  Digital files must be at least 5” x 7” with 300ppi (pixels per inch) resolution.
  • File formats accepted for photos and artwork: .tif, .jpeg, .psd
    Essay, Fiction, and Poetry
  • Limit: 5 entries per person, per category.
  •  Entries should not exceed 3000 words.
  •  File formats for entries: .doc, .txt (NO PDF’s)

How to Submit

  •  Submit all entries at http://www.lictonspringsreview.com.
  •  Hardcopy submissions are accepted, we are able to scan up to 11” x 14”.
  •  Authors and artists retain ownership copyrights of their respective works.

Contact

  • LSR@seattlecolleges.edu   tel: 206-934-3711

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Selana Ingalsbe

Naturally

The mechanical whirr of the garage door opening alerted Cricket that her husband was home.  She leaned back in the chair, stretching out her back.  She was recently pregnant, and had insisted he run out for French fries and a milkshake.  It had taken months of gruelling testing and paperwork just to get the permit to have their first child, not to mention the money.  Every step of this pregnancy was work, for both of them.  Cricket approved of it; it had been this way all her life, and she felt like people were more grateful–and more prepared–for their children now than they had been in olden days.

She heard the door open, and he came inside.  She listened to him fumble about the kitchen.  She continued to browse on the computer contentedly, smiling with delight when she found something she liked, or wanted to discuss with Florian.  She could hear him below, in the kitchen.<!–?php the_content(‘

Her smile broadened when the door opened, and in came her tallow-haired husband, strawberry shake in one hand, a plate of fries in the other.  He set them down on the computer table, leaning against the desk.

“And how did you fare while I was out, my love?” he inquired.

Her Florian, so devoted, faithful, and sweet-natured.  “I was just thinking–I was talking to the doctor,” she began.

He groaned.  “Not again.”

She smiled indulgently.  Cricket was even-tempered by nature, and had the patience of a saint.  “Well, I was just thinking, these things are risky to leave to nature, sweetie.  I mean, what if our baby is ugly?” she demanded.  She clicked to a different window on the gently glowing screen.  “Look–My brow, your cheekbones, you jawline–”  She pointed to each of these things in turn.  “–and my lips of course.  Now, just imagine if we left it all to chance!  I don’t want it to look ugly; poor thing would be teased.”

He flinched.  “Can’t we just leave it?”

She huffed indignantly.  “Look, I just don’t want it to grow up with any disadvantages, or grow up thinking it’s different.”

His mouth twisted into a frown.  “Is any of that really necessary?”

She laughed, plucking a fry off of the plate.  “Of course it is.”  She bit into the fry, and chewed in thought.  She swallowed.  Florian could be so old-fashioned sometimes.  “All of my friends designed their children–I don’t want to be the only one with a natural baby.”  She spoke the word–natural–as if it were a swear word.

“Would it be so bad?”  He crossed his arms.  “I’ve never seen a completely natural baby.”

Exactly,” Cricket said, dipping the other half of her fry into her milkshake.  She went back to the screen.  “Now, do you like blue or green eyes better?  We can do purple–that would be fun.”

He stole a fry off her plate.  She frowned.  “Well, we both have blue eyes.”

Cricket sighed.  Her husband, darling as he was, was completely missing the point.  She opened her mouth to explain, once again, the necessities of designing their baby, when the neighbor’s kids started shrieking.  They both looked to the window, watching the three of them chase each other about the yard.  “I have no idea how they got the permits for all three of those biological disasters,” Cricket huffed.

“They’re almost natural,” Florian commented.  The parents had only gotten the most basic of stimuli; a fully developed brain and no deformities.

“Natural babies are too much of a health risk,” Cricket insisted.  It was true.  In school, Florian had read about children being born with diseases, with handicaps or learning disabilities.  She snatched another fry.  “So, blue eyes then?  Do we want a boy or a girl?”

“Can’t it be a surprise?”             “I’d like a girl,” she continued, as if she hadn’t heard him.  Florian sighed.  “But you know, gender neutral is popular right now.”

“I think a little girl would be nice–you still have all your old clothes, and you know she’d look cute in them,” he said carefully, diplomatically.

She nodded, glad that he had finally caught on.  “All right.  A little girl, blue eyes, maybe brown hair?  Curly, straight, wavy?  Something fun?”  She knew better than to be too hopeful, and she was willing to compromise on hair colour.  One of her friend’s newborns had pink hair, and she could barely contain her jealousy.  So unique!  Everyone was always commenting on the brilliant pigmentation.

He looked at Cricket, at her soft brown waves.  “Wavy,” he answered, as if in defeat.

Pleased, she consumed another French fry, dipped thoroughly in her milkshake.  “Excellent.  Now, darling, what do you think about its sexual orientation?”

He cringed inwardly.  “I don’t know how I feel about dictating everything about their lives.”

She dismissed the matter with a wave of a French fry.  “It isn’t about control, ‘Rian.  It’s about fashion.”

His mouth twisted into a frown.  Old-timers had called it “playing God” and he understood what they meant.  Humanity had long surpassed what any god in mythology could do, using science.  It left nothing to chance, nothing a surprise.  In a way, it was good.  No woman went through an ordinary pregnancy and had a child born missing a section of their brain or something.  Sure, making sure the baby was healthy made perfect sense to him.  It was the rest of it that didn’t sit well.  But he supposed that, if he knew that his parents could have made him attractive and chose to make him ugly instead, he would be furious.

“Fashion,” he echoed with a sigh, taking another French fry.  On the rug behind them, the chimera yawned.  It was a small creature, three years old and about the size of an average dog.  Florian’s gaze shifted to the creature.  Its hooves clopped across the floor as it pranced over to them, its forepaws light in comparison.  The lion head yawned again, and butted its head against Florian’s leg, seeking affection.  He leaned down, scratching behind her ears.  She nuzzled against his hand, licking the salt off of his fingers.  The whip-like tail twitched back and forth, vaguely reminiscent of a dog.

Fashion is what birthed the chimera.  “I thought that was why we got Siobhan?” Florian said conversationally.

Cricket looked on in disapproval.  “And our pet will be more fashionable than our child,” she scoffed.  “Fine.  Skin tone.  I really like olive, and that’s not far from my skin tone, dear.”

He sighed.  “Olive is fine, honey.”

The child would be pansexual–there were enough gender-neutrals in the baby’s generation that Cricket thought it would be prudent not to be limited.  They discussed names for a while, which was a more comfortable topic.  Siobhan stared hungrily at the plate of fries.  Florian absently gave her one.

Cricket went on to the next subject.  “Do we want to give her gills?”

“No,” Florian said firmly.  He scowled.  “Have you ever seen gill rot?  No–I don’t want to deal with it.”

She shrugged.  “Fair enough.  If she drowns, I’ll just say it was your fault.”

“We’ll teach her how to snorkel,” he retorted.

“How about a tail?”

“Why?” he demanded.

Cricket opened another web page, this one pictures of toddlers playing on a playground.  Many of them had tails.  “Everyone in her generation has one, and if she doesn’t like it, they can always just be removed.”

“I thought we had evolved out of that on our own.  This seems a step backwards in evolution to me.”

“Fur, scales, or skin, do you think?” she continued, as if he had consented.

He sighed, almost giving up.  “Skin is cheapest,” he muttered.  “Or not having one.”

“I refuse to let her be mocked like that,” Cricket said.  “Now, it can be more versatile, like a monkey’s, maybe like a snake–what do you think, Siobhan?”  The animal peered up at her curiously, the snake of a tail curling around her forelegs as she sat back on her haunches.  “Some kids have ones like a kangaroo but I don’t like those…”

He knelt, tickling Siobhan playfully.  The chimera rolled, exposing her furry belly.  “Could give her wings.”

She considered.  “That’s weeks of shots and therapy for me though,” she complained.  “They have to build up a lot of muscle in the back to support them, and do you know what bath time will be like?  Abby’s baby has wings–you know, like a bat.  And they can’t fly even when they’re older anyway–glide, sure.  I don’t know that I want to try to control a toddler that can almost fly.”

Finally, Florian thought.  A tail!  He cringed inwardly.  Still, where there was one cute photo of a kid hanging off of a monkey bar like a monkey, there had to be other pictures of rot and other problems.  Homo sapians were not born with tails–naturally–for a reason, he imagined.

But, he supposed, the evolution of science and progress could not be halted just because something wasn’t natural.

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Dianne Garcia

The Tagger

rogue gladiolas

all the garage-band posters

weathered to shreds

Jason finishes his signature tag — an abstract of his own initials and those of his latest girl friend; since Jason changes girlfriends every few weeks or so (once the threshold for consummation is passed or it becomes clear that it will not be passed) (five weeks is the longest of any of his relationships and that only because the girl left mid-relationship to take a train trip to visit relatives in Chicago) his tagging signature varies. His targets are always romantic symbols that remind him of his girlfriends: the railroad line to Chicago, a shape that reminds him of one girlfriend’s graceful shoulder or another’s arching back – though this is not something he can particularly articulate to the kids he leads at after-school care. He does tell these swarming prepubescent kids how he enjoys tagging in the dark of the night and brags that he is uncaught by the roving maintenance workers who are charged by the city’s Council to obliterate these “gangster symbols.”

There’s a building in front of the metro stop at third and cedar adorned by a faux coat of arms and a line of grey and white urban pigeons–one standing on the security light is taller than the others. The pigeons’ heads bob and rotate as they groom, lifting their wings to get at their feather-mites.

Pavement cutting is underway for another cable-laying project — nothing else can be heard (not pigeons, not seagulls, not the group home residents who chat with each other and slap hands and thighs); the effect is strangely like silence. The sidewalk reeks of urine.

Two skinny Asian girls wearing tight jeans and high platforms head into this building, leaning back to pull open its heavy deep red paint-wet doors: red, the color of luck, the best color for a door — since the internship is with a startup company (too new to have settled on a good name or to have job titles) and it is unpaid, luck and well-heeled parents are what they need. The startup founder himself nods and continues painting these doors with a new brush. He’s found the paint can shelved in his folks’ garage. The can has begun to rust through and he leaves rings of red on the sidewalk. He wonders what else the red was intended for when his Mom or Dad or babysitter first opened it those years ago – he thinks of his scooter and then his skateboard and goes inside to begin some coding abandoning the opened can and brush and still-wet door.

When he leaves many hours later in the dark the door’s been finished and the can is gone. He is unaware of this.

The ghost of the son of the person claiming the coat of arms paints a red eye on the windowsill, another on the sidewalk where the urine smell is strongest, then moves on to paint a subtlety different eye on the approach to the overpass – several of many recently appearing around the city, the appearance the topic of discussion in the city’s maintenance department and homeless camps.

Why an eye? Are the colors symbolic? Is the eye the symbol of another vigilante group or, as some of the homeless believe, the eye of a sleeper waking after a night of binging? At least one camper moves a few feet to be away from the “angry eye.” A tourist from the South snaps a photo with his iPhone of the “red eye” before ducking into an all-night bistro.

If we could ask the ghost, he wouldn’t be able to say why he paints an eye, always one eye, each slightly different than the others; he only knows there’s a feel of purpose and nearly of completion when he does so, the satisfaction and excitement of a long task reaching its end. He’s spent many years figuring a way to have something of his appear in the physical world but somehow this is more than fulfillment of his own wish. He has the sense that there is something that he wants to tell those responsible for the care of the city – some important secret to reveal or guilt to expiate—something found as he was dying — but he no longer has a memory of what that secret is – only that there is one, and that he must communicate it. He heads for the railroad tracks looking for more paint – and finds the tagger Jason working with his paints.

Despite the workers’ irritation with the persistence of the tagger Jason (and of any of the other taggers in the city; their irritation is not personal to the quality or content of the guerrilla art) the workers’ incomes have outpaced inflation as the city’s taggers have become more prolific and overtime is authorized to “keep up the appearance of the city for our tourists.” The symbols are often the subject of speculation – those with teens at home usually better at guessing their meaning than those without children or those whose kids are long out of adolescence. One woman – the team’s lead – can identify the taggers’ from their styles and has given them affectionate names: “Romantic” “The Wobbly” “Forgotten Child” and “The Pointillist”.

Tonight Jason hears the crew van pulling into the drop point at the rail yard, the van’s good radial tires making that distinctive sound of rubber on blacktop as the driver crimps the van wheels. The driver idles the engine for a moment, pulls the brake on, turns off the engine. The doors squeak as they open.

Jason runs, abandoning several cans of paint though taking several small, new pots of color with him. Because he is slightly panicked and focusing on the direction of the sounds coming from the van his sense of his broader surroundings is gone, and he runs through the ghost of the son of the man claiming the coat of arms.

The ghost of the son of the man claiming the coat of arms feels the shock of impact for a excruciatingly painful moment. His left side is in fact nearly severed from his right, the edges flapping like half-rotten curtains in a tenement window. If he could remember, he would be able to say that even during his brief childhood he was unfamiliar with any form of physical contact, his father believing that a hug or any show of affection will only spoil the child, and that any misbehavior is best handled by shunning the child rather than physical contact – the logical consequence of human frailty being lack of warmth from others. Upon reflection the ghost wonders if even casual passers-by sense a disturbance or change in the air that is an echo of his essential nature, or the evil remnant of what happened to him and so avoid him: because he certainly has been out in the traffic and has never experienced a “walk through” before.

But he is distracted by the paint cans left suggestively beside the latest tag – notes the color – electric blue – and crouches to read the instructions. He actually has never studied a spray can of paint before. The workers headlamps pick up the reflection of the still-wet tag.

“Oh man, we almost found ourselves a tagger,” says one. “Yah think he’s a mean one?”

“Nah, it’s The Romantic,” the woman replies. She steps to the side, away from a little frisson of colder air, picks up the cans and tosses them toward the green garbage can next to the dock. She misses, but it’s the end of her shift and she has been working for the city for a very long time. She does not bother to pick the paint up. The nozzle of one, hitting the can, briefly splutters, leaving a row of electric blue on the green garbage can. The child-ghost begins spitting: enjoys the feel of the spittle into the void.

The workers return to the van and begin to unpack: ladders, tarps, long-handled rollers—and to set them up. The woman lugs a bucket of gray paint. An observer would notice that they set the items distant from a vague spot of shimmer on the pavement. “Hurry up and get it done,” says the woman. “I want to be home before my Jo-Dee gets up. She really hates getting herself off to school.” In fact, the teen will not go to school unless her mother pulls her from bed.

“Just doin’ the best I can.”

“Well do it a little better.”

She returns to the van and the smell of coffee and a glazed donut drifts in the soft dawn air. The ghost salivates. A damp spot appears close to the paint cans.

The other workers return to the van; tarps and long-handled rollers and cans of grey paint are stowed back in the van and the woman and another worker lift the ladder on top of the van and secure it. She starts the engine as the others hop in, and the van door slides closed as she backs down the way. There is the wail of an engine in reverse, and a distant wail of a siren. The ghost throws back his head and howls in echo.

Then the ghost goes to the trash can, and harnessing a great gust of rage and using a great deal of concentration tips it over. The cans of paint roll away: with other detritus.

After intense focus the ghost learns to depress the trigger on the can of spray paint. And he begins to paint eyes – on the bridge supports, on the sea wall, on the light posts – the ghost is delighted both with the efficiency of the spray and with the electric blue.

The tagger has run under the bridge, down a narrow walk dividing the bridge from the sculpture park, then into the park itself. He slows: rests under Calder’s Eagle. He dozes for a brief time; then jerks awake. He wanders east, and as he contemplates the gigantic sculpture of a typewriter Eraser (without knowing what it is) and a stream of rounded dry rocks from a nearby beach, he begins to want to draw something new. He hasn’t had a desire to draw something other than his initials though as a child his drawings of winged Chevies carrying curvaceous girls had been quite popular with his friends – and gotten him in trouble with his teachers. In his mind’s eye he sees an eye: the iris of the eye is the earth, the fold of the eyelid echoing mountain folds. As the earth rotates the iris changes — but the iris is always glowing green and blue, though sometimes with a little haze, sometimes with plumes of smoke, sometimes with expanding desert brown across the equator, sometimes with molten lava radiating from the iris. He pulls his remaining cans of paint and some automobile touch-up paint out of his backpack, finds a small brush in his pocket. And he begins to tag the Eraser: eyes, their iris the rotating earth.

He doesn’t know that, in a not-too-distant time, an artist who observes these eyes will herself begin to obsessively paint: one open eye per rounded beach rock – and these will be displayed in a local art museum, and offered for sale to collectors.

The ghost sighs, the spray paint can sputters, the ghost puts it down. It rolls towards the rising sun, but the ghost does not watch it roll. Were he looking into the sunrise, he would see the ancient cedar villages of shill-shohl and sbuh-kwah-buks, believed long-gone, in fact deep in the shadow thrown by the eastern mountains. The ghost’s torn, ragged edges dissipate. The rising sun now illuminates the pacific mountains, their sharp blue edges white with a new and unseasonal snow.

empty harbor

the artist’s rendition

filled with morning’s wind

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