Miracle on Phoenix Avenue

Austin Dalton

The bittersweet summer of 2010 found me living in Albuquerque, New Mexico (clarifying which state I’m talking about may, in fact, be beyond superfluous just because this piece’s readership is probably not conditioned to think of any other Albuquerque, but I digress). In the six years since I’ve lived in the Land of Enchantment, you might say that I have come to regard it much more favorably than I did when I actually lived there. I can now list off a number of positive attributes about the place with ease; for example, the architectural styling in everything from the various city wall murals to the inside of the airports is neat-o. There were some pretty good restaurants. Most days are great swimming days. The sky is an oceanic type of gorgeous, and I’ll be damned if I ever tire of smelling the desert rain.

Now—and perhaps this was already heavily implied in that last paragraph—I didn’t have a terribly nuanced view of Albuquerque at the time of actually living there. Hell might’ve been a word thrown around by yours truly more than once, and I might have made liberal use of the term shithole in reference to both the neighborhood that my family lived in and the city as a whole. You see, that was really the long and short of my complaint: our neighborhood just sucked. The neighbors were jerks, and there was not a great deal to do for fun, at least within walking distance. A good movie theater where ticket prices were relatively inexpensive? Seven blocks away, seven blocks you don’t want to walk. The library? About the same. That, and my depressive tendencies always tend to highlight the worst of things whenever I encounter a situation that I even vaguely dislike.

Before the big miracle happened, my teenage brain already had more than enough to tirelessly contemplate on a daily basis: internal identity struggles, figuring out the ending to Inception, the question of what kind of career path I wanted to pursue once high school was said and done. Regardless of the subject, my brain was always on the go and it led to difficulty sleeping in addition to suffering grades and fatigue throughout the day.

One gusty weekend night as I drifted off to sleep, something caught my attention and annoyed me. It was something I had noticed on my first night in our Albuquerque apartment. Do you know that marker ink (sometimes also available in paint form) that’s only visible when the lights are out? Somebody had used such a marker and scribbled I LOVE YOU BABE (sic; no punctuation to speak of) on the spot on the ceiling right above where I had positioned my bed.

I murmured to myself, as I regarded the ceiling, “What a bunch of stupid pieces of shit.”

A gentle voice spoke to me in the dark, “Judge not, that ye be not judged; for passionate love can engender the most shitty behavior in even the most upright of human beings.”

I thought it was just a hypnagogic hiccup that would go away if I just blinked my eyes and remembered where I was, but no such thing happened. That’s when I saw him, the beaming apparition of a man floating a few feet off of the carpet in front of my dresser. His arms were out and he adorned some type of ghostly cassock; what I really remember was his face. It was young, probably as young as my teenaged mug, but somehow rife with masculine maturity and infinite empathy. His hair was a long and curly auburn, about the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Naturally, I asked him who the hell he was.

“Austin,” he told me. “I am an angel from some other realm of reality.”

“Wow, are you one those superstar angels like Gabriel or something?”

“No. Don’t be a stupid piece of shit, for my name is Steven.”

“What do you want with me, Steven?”

“You are a person enduring a great deal of internal conflict. As an act of cosmic charity, I am here to answer your most pressing questions about human existence, and only the most pressing one. After you have asked that one question, of course, it is unlikely that we shall ever cross paths again.”

In retrospect, maybe I should have taken longer than three and a half seconds to think about what I wanted to ask. But, you know, I didn’t. However, the first thing that came to mind just seemed too good to forgo. “Steven, what is it that happens after you die?”

“After I die, Austin Dalton? What sort of question is that, you stupid piece of shit?”

“Well, after one dies. I don’t know a lot about how that process goes for you.”

The Angel Steven cleared his angel throat and he did so in a way that I would describe as exceptionally beautiful, carrying with it that sort of innocence that has divine connotations. Angelic, even. “Ask, and you shall receive. The truth of the situation, Austin, is that many things happen after you die. Awe-inspiring socio-political changes take place in both the developed world and the less developed worlds, events of such astonishing historical magnitude that to not be alive to either comment on or vicariously take part in them is regretful. Computer bugs are healed or otherwise converted to features. Litters of puppies are born, and the same is true of kittens. On that subject, there will be dogs who will have an easier time than others of their species when it comes to coexisting with cats, depending to a large degree on how they are raised. Movies will be made and books will be written, some very good and some dreadful. Elvis Presley impersonation will, curiously, continue to be a viable career choice for some. More than likely, other people will die. Many more will be born. Ocean acidification will probably intensify. Supermarket coupons will be obtained and made useful. Hand-held technology of all shades will continue to advance in ways that are not necessarily more efficient. Insulin will continue to be a necessary and highly demanded commodity. So on and so forth. So, I hope that answers your question. Quite frankly, it’s a strange question on which to throw away your one divine inquiry. What are you, Austin Dalton, some stupid piece of shit?”

“No, no, no!” I finally get a word in edgewise. “That isn’t what I meant.”

“I’m afraid you only get one question.”

“That isn’t what I mean, either. I mean, what happens for us after we die? This consciousness shit where we can feel and see and think? Where does all of that go, what becomes of it?”

The Angel Steven seemed a bit stumped. “Oh. Well, nothing. You’re dead. I really thought that would have been a foregone conclusion.”

And in the blink of an eye, the Angel Steven called me a stupid piece of shit one more time and disappeared. For nearly every night since then, I’ve devoted at least bit of time—sometimes it’s a few minutes, sometimes it’s an hour or more—to thinking about what I learned that night and how much it’s mattered to me over the last six years. What I think about during those sessions is how grateful I am towards the spectacular rudderless quality of everything and the shadow of permanent oblivion that hangs over every seemingly banal day. A miracle like the one I experienced gives a person reason to never take anything for granted, and to see the positive in things—even a city like Albuquerque.

Tagged ,

Feeling All The Wrong Things

Myra Johansen

It’s hard to understand why we as people think that certain emotions should be felt at certain times. Especially in the face of horror, sadness, and pain. I will feel whatever I feel unapologetically and anyone who has a problem with that can get out of my way.

IMG_0007

Part 1

IMG_0010

Part 2

Tagged , ,

Poetry by Vanlyn Turner-Ramsay

Pining;

I’d love to explore your inner mind if you found the time.

Our collective consciousness ever suffocating from the lack of breaths we take.

Forever the unknown;

Intimidate


 

Untitled;

hold me tight.

never let go

suffocate me right

until my body goes cold.

may your warm bones give me relief

from all of your meticulous mental grief

make me a new home

in the deceitful lies you throw

kiss me when I try to leave

and plead for my love on the phone.

call me weak when I weep;

abuse is all i’ve ever known

Tagged ,

Only Happy When It Rains

Edmund Barker

The summer of 1996 still sits in my head like a tumor, and if I’m patient enough, I can sift through the hysteria to remind myself of little details, both important and vague. It was a summer when op ed cartoons about the presidential race all blended together, when my favorite possessions were my Doc Martens and a Smashing Pumpkins poster over my bed, and when I was called into the police office for questioning three times before I left for community college on the mainland.

At that point in life I still lived in Port Quatermass on San Juan Island, one of many islands dotting the Salish Sea a ferry ride away from Seattle or Vancouver. The funny name of the town comes from a Mr. Tom Quatermass, folk hero extraordinaire whose story had been hammered into us all through a hundred grade school assembly plays. We knew how to recite the details before we knew the pledge of allegiance: the guy was the rich son of a logger boss who joined the French Foreign Legion out of boredom and got an eye shot out in the Gallipoli campaign for his troubles. He hightailed it back to Seattle and barely survived the flu of 1918, losing the use of his other eye and, despite all evidence of God having it out for him, turning over a new religious leaf in the hospital. So he used daddy’s money to buy a cannery here on the island, changed the name of the place from Port Salish to something more personal, and had all his workers convert to his new Christian sect and give up booze and red meat. I used to think it was the sort of meaningless trivia they use to fill those bronze plaques outside of historical lighthouses, but I had no idea what the truth is. In the retelling of my story, I’m sure you’ll think “This woman is crazy and looking for attention!” but I encourage you to take the old ferry out to Port Quatermass and ask around if you have doubts—if you still want to by the end of this.

Anyways, enough Edwardian era, back to the dial up era. I thought of old Mr. Quatermass often, whether I liked it or not, because his statue and the historical society were right across the street from the VHS rental store where I worked. The statue had one eye absent, sans eyepatch, and the other one painted a glazed blue. It wasn’t a nice sight those times I pulled the night shift, rewinding old tapes and hoping they didn’t go pop in the machine. I got some consolation from the name of the shop, though, since it was called One Eye Videos. At least someone else in the town looked at this whole Quatermass story with a bit of humor.

But the creepy statue, or the being alone at 9:30, or the chugging of the VCR machines doing their rewinding wasn’t what I first remembered from the night of the 20th. No, my summer of scares began when a big PBS documentary tape was knocked over on one of our dingy wall shelves and cracked open on the floor. I was too worried about the tape being broken to think about what might have knocked it over, so I ran over to check. Picking it up, I was startled by who I thought was a customer standing right in front of me, until I got a closer look. She seemed about my age, dressed like my grandmother with her hoop skirt and cardigan. I thought she was coming from some sort of costume party, but even with that in mind, I was startled by the gauze wrapped around her head and the blood trickle on her temples. It wasn’t just that she wasn’t looking at me, but she seemed totally oblivious to my gawky staring at her. It was then that my mind turned to thought of the paranormal, against all logic. This woman wasn’t baby blue and see through like ghosts are in the movies, but she still didn’t seem to be all there, a bit blurry and dimly lit like a VHS tape wearing out. She stumbled as she stepped, hobbling down the aisle as I was petrified there, before walking right through the back wall and leaving me alone.
With twenty years hindsight, I suppose now I should have followed store protocols and asked her what genres she was looking for.

Tagged ,

14 Small Shiny Things I Found Laying on the Ground, Ranked by Their Mystery of Purpose

Jacob Earl

Object1Object2Object3Object4Object5Object6Object7Object8Object9Object10Object11Object12Object13Object14Object15Object16b

Jacob Earl is a visual artist from Palmer, AK currently living in Olympia, WA. His work can be found on his website SaveTheCroissants.com.

Tagged ,

In The Company of Birds

Isabel Carpenter-Zehe

 

There once was a beautiful princess, who lived in a jade castle on an island filled by all sorts of colorful birds. Every day the princess would watch the birds fly from the tall tower in which she inhabited. She watched the blue birds swirl in-between the green tips of trees, and the pink birds dive through the dense jungle to grab a bug or other tasty snack from below. She watched red birds flutter through the garden, pausing every so often before leaping off into flight. The ceaseless dance of the birds through the jungle was one of the princess’ only forms of entertainment. For she had been stuck in the tower since the day she was born. Although she was beautiful and intelligent and ever so sweet she was also cursed.  

The days before the princess’ birth, the Jade town celebrated. The king and queen loved each other very much and their marriage had brought together the warring towns of jade and emerald. A child would solidify the love between them as well as the two towns’ alliances. The queen often had dreams of the beautiful princess still in her womb. In her dreams the world was white and clean and pure. In the center of the purity lay a little red baby wrapped in a blue silk scarf. When she moved to get closer to the baby, the woman realized that the scarf the baby was wrapped in was the exact color of the sea that she had spent days watching as a child. When she moved the scarf she saw a baby with ruby red skin and eyes. The baby was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. However when she knelt down to pick the girl up, she crumbled and fell apart in her arms. And the queen wept for the crumbling of the girl was the most beautiful aspect of all.

When she told her husband, the king, of this dream, he rejoiced. “What beautiful melancholy our daughter has been blessed with!” he cried “You are giving birth to beauty itself!”

And so the king declared that the jade town would celebrate for thirty days and thirty nights until his beautiful, pure and clean daughter was born.

The town celebrated with the birds, the vivid colors of the citizen’ silks blending in with the many colors of the birds’ feathers. It was said that for a brief time it was impossible to tell between man and bird, it was just a beautiful swirl of colors colliding in the jungle.

The princess came into this earth quietly. When she was born she did not scream or cry as most babies do, but instead she curiously looked around as if in awe of the strange new world she now resided in. The mother however did wail. The little girl, though beautiful like in the mother’s dreams, was born with a hideous tumor on her left thigh. It swelled so large and bulbous it almost reached the child’s knee. It oozed a yellow pus and in the right light it was said that one could even see teeth in the growth. When the king saw his daughter he was appalled.  The midwives assured him that the tumor wouldn’t hurt her, that although it was unpleasant to look at, the girl was safe and healthy. The king would not believe their comforting words. Although the tumor was not dangerous, it was the king’s shame. I cannot show the world my ugly, malformed daughter, he thought. For who would rally behind a king that created such a black mark on the white paper of his rule. “This is not my beautiful daughter!” he cried, “This demon is cursed and will bring sickness and death upon my people.”

And so the king declared that his beautiful baby daughter must spend the rest of her days locked in the tallest tower in the jade castle where no one could see the king’s shame.

Life went on. While the king and queen fretted about their appearances, the princess grew up lonely and lovely. She spent her days with the raven master who sent out messages for her powerful parents. In turn for her company the raven master taught the girl how to read and write. The girl had an affinity for poems. Despite the fact that her poems were often tediously constructed, and sometimes lacked a point, the pure meditative concentration that the princess showed when working on them always brought a tear to the eye of the raven master.

 

The window of the princess always seemed to have a feathered inhabitant, whether it be the ravens, of the raven master, or the colorful birds of the forest, they all loved to come and visit the lonely girl in the tower. When the raven master died the princess took to telling the birds her poems. She would elegantly concentrate on the construction of words and wait for them to take meaning. The princess always had a new poem for the birds when they arrived in her tower, and a poem for herself after they left. And so she spent her days, in quiet contemplation, in poetry, and in the company of birds.

Meanwhile the king and queen desperately tried for another child. One that could negate the malformation of the princess. One that was truly the pure, clean, and beautiful child from the queen’s dream. For years and years they tried until a midwife proclaimed mournfully that the queen was barren and could never have another child. The king raged for days. This must be some terrible trick of the gods he thought. For the pure child they promised me exists only in dreams while the child you gave me is horrendous and malformed.

Thus the king decided to adopt a peacock. It seemed like the next best thing for the jade town had almost as many bird inhabitants as it had people. If my halls cannot be filled with a beautiful child then I shall fill it with a beautiful bird, he thought. The peacock he adopted was a glamorous thing. It was at least three times larger than a normal bird and its great tail span could take up a whole tearoom. Its tail feathers were colored a glorious mix of blues and greens, and the tips of the tail were tinged with gold. The king and even the queen grew to love the peacock as the child they pretended to never have had.

They let the bird have everything. They covered his large body with elegant rubies and sapphires and got the jeweler to custom create a tiny jade crown for the bird. They fed the bird fine meals. And even confided in the bird the secret fears and desires. They gave the bird everything except its freedom.  Without freedom, birds wither away. For they are not meant to be confined to the roles of a human life. The king and queen killed their magnificent peacock by trying to make it be everything it never was.

After the peacock’s death, the princess grew terribly sick. It began with a terrible cough that destroyed her from the inside. At first she coughed up heaps of blood, but soon the princess began coughing up bits of her lungs as well. Ironically the illness wasn’t brought on by the tumor on her leg, but a sneeze passed from her maid to her. It was the sickness of the clean people the king claimed to rule that was killing his daughter. When the maid saw the girl hunched over in her brown dress coughing up bits of herself in a pool of blood she raced to the find the king and queen. Shocked by the suddenness of the girl’s sickness and how it eerily correlated with the death of the peacock, the king and queen rushed to their daughter’s side. But by the time they had got to the tower the princess had already died. In the pool of blood that presided by her mouth lay small scraps of stained paper. When the king knelt down to pick them up he saw his daughter’s tedious, beautiful poems. The king read each and every one again and again. He saw how each of the words effortlessly combined to make something terribly meaningful, or sometimes not meaningful at all. And then the king finally realized that he had, and had always had, his clean, pure, and beautiful daughter all along.

The king and queen wept in mourning for thirty days and thirty nights. But the king thanked the gods. Thank you he thought, thank you for teaching me what true beauty really is.

 

Tagged ,

The Art of After

Becky Shirley

All romantics meet the same fate someday
-Joni Mitchell, The Last Time I Saw Richard

He presses the metal tab at the top of the beer can back and forth, back and forth, trying to force it to break. He does this nonchalantly, this small destruction, and never stops looking at my face.

Admit it.

No. Never

You hear this song and think of me. Continue reading

Tagged ,

The Evergreen Film Fest 2: Trash Talk

HeresLookinAtYouLarva

Film festivals are kind of a surreal experience—let’s be honest. No self-respecting person would ever dream of sitting down in a darkened room with a crowd of strangers and willingly watch a string of amateur screenings, one after another, without so much as even a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel as your ass slowly falls asleep under you. And yet… I keep coming back. I love these things. I think of film festivals as media versions of anthologies; a collection of self-contained short stories just jam-packed and bite-sized enough to hold your attention for fifteen-ish minutes at a time. Here are Vanishing Point, we have only published so many short films during our time at Evergreen. The number of flash fictions and sappy breakup poems far exceed the minuscule amount of films that grace our magazine’s pages. It’s time we fix that.

Evergreen is full of great filmmakers, but it’s so rare when we come together and present what we have collectively made as a whole. The first Evergreen Film Festival back in February—so graciously put on by Student Activities’ own Megan Bailey—was the first event of its kind that I’ve seen at this college in years. We wanted to bring the filmmakers of Evergreen together yet again and go one step further. We are making an interactive film festival.

Do you like talk shows? I like talk shows. Especially where directors come up and talk about their filmmaking process. Back when DVDs were actually a thing I would spend hours watching behind-the-scenes extras, seeing what every director was up to with their artistic visions. I think discussing each other’s work helps us with our own. This is what’s going to make our film fest a bit different. We’re going to sit down with the directors before the films, talk show style, and ask them questions about what it exactly takes to create a work of art in the realm of cinema. I think it will make the night a little more engaging (and fun) for everyone. And we promise to keep you updated throughout the fest about that light at the end of the tunnel. Nobody likes it when their ass falls asleep. We hope to see you there!

Jonah Barrett

 

Poetry by Kira Sabini

Some of My Favorite Things

Walking Mangata

in zyzygy

Sonder inspired mudita,

sonorously inspiring wonder,

Cherishing komorebi,

lightning and thunder

Chrysalism

Surrealism

Realism


A Season’s Greetings

A gust of blustering chill

Billows about

Dressed in Autumns leaves

Stout trees lean north then south

Echoing my sense of thrill

Passionate colors kaleidoscope across monochromatic skies

A priceless prize for biologically privileged eyes

Rustling, crunching, clonking

Moist and rich petrichor scents

A sense of winters coming

Sharpening immediate awareness

Allowing revelations press

Tagged ,
%d bloggers like this: