Bad Jokes and Celtics Talk
by Kevin Clifford ’20 – Creative Writing Contest Winner
“Hayward to Irving, that’s for three. Brown’s effort kept it alive temporarily, but Middleton gathers the miss.”
Jack had dozed off during the game, so he decided to watch some of the highlights. “Must have been a rough game if that brick was shown in the highlights,” he thought to himself. But that’s how things seemed to be trending. Jack was not a bad kid. He tried to be nice to people, you know, he held doors and would help an old lady cross the street if need be. It’s funny how very little that opportunity presented itself. When Jack was younger, he had always assumed from TV and stuff that there would be an old lady awaiting help at every crosswalk. Now that he thought about it, there weren’t as many loosely held pianos on the side of tall apartment buildings out in the world either. He was soft-spoken and fairly intelligent. Intelligent enough to get into a good college and make his mother proud. That’s all he really cared about. And the Celtics too, but obviously the mom thing was real.
“We had good memories here, right Jack-o,” his dad interrupted. He had just put down the small dresser and signaled for Jack to help him out. Jack understood his dad’s words to mean, “Your childhood was not bad, right son.” Jack nodded his head reluctantly. His father knew this day would come eventually. But, once it arrived, things became a bit too real. That’s usually when nostalgia hits. That’s why people like talking about Larry Bird and the ’86 Celtics. It’s way easier than talking about anything real. Jack and his dad had never talked about real things. Why start now? Perhaps his dad felt that talking only about sports for eighteen plus years was not the best of decisions. Of course, there were real moments of parenthood. But those were few and far between. Plus, now, things were a bit too real for any effective fatherhood. Jack didn’t hate his father, but he didn’t like how his choices yielded such poor results.
It took about six or seven trips to clear the house. Lifting furniture, carrying trash bags of clothes and trash bags of trash. Trash bags were super convenient, Jack had discovered. They went back and forth from the house to the truck. Then, back and forth from the house to storage. All while the mysterious black suits watched on. They weren’t actually in black suits, and they were in no way mysterious. Just a couple of real estate agents that were gifted the house by a bank. Jack knew they were doing their jobs, and they didn’t seem to enjoy playing the role of the villain either. But it is always fun to have an external enemy. Holmes had Moriarty. Captain America had the Red Skull. Pierce had Lebron. All Jack wanted was something tangible to fight against. Something he could control. The black suits seemed a fitting adversary. Of course, the suits won outright. They were the Bucks dribbling out the clock, while the Celtics had decided not to foul anymore. The game and season were over. So, Jack could do nothing but put his head down and finish packing. He packed half of his life in storage. The other half went in the bin. All his possessions were in trash bags, so Jack was certain that he had mixed something important with the garbage. Not so convenient after all.
“Oh well,” he mumbled to himself. At least it was over.
“Learn from this Jack. Don’t let it affect you but learn from it. Never try to live above your means, son,” his mom had managed to get out. She spoke to Jack like this for a couple of days. Stock phrases and words of wisdom. Jack knew that she was just trying to shield him—and probably herself, too. Jack wished he could think of some words of comfort. Something to make her feel better. Some sort of fix-all phrase. Instead, he nodded his head and bided his time. He thought maybe he could just make a joke. Any joke. It didn’t even have to be funny. Just something that might cheer her up even if it was just for a moment. Eventually, he thought of one. Well he thought of someone else’s joke, but it seemed appropriate to use at the time. He felt that the comedian probably would not have minded this small instance of plagiarism given the circumstance. Plus, it would probably fall under the fair use doctrine anyways.
“You know mom, if history has taught us one thing… it’s that the Battle of Gettysburg was in 1863.”
Jack’s mom cracked a smile, and the two of them laughed for a while.
Private Considerations of Pronouns
by Emma McLaughlin ’20 – Creative Writing Contest Winner
Your stare menaces from across the bed
as I strain, choking on my words, to answer your questions.
In my silence, you make me feel disbanded,
shapeless without a label.
Some construction of letters, he/she/they,
for others to define me, ‘correctly’ discuss me.
I grip the bedsheets in fistfuls as if trying to dig deep
but find this same nothing; nothing secure, or conclusive
beside the ache that I can’t give you,
this shell you want to shroud me in.
I don’t understand why I owe you this.
I scramble to find the line separating what in my identity
I determine and what is outside of my control.
I can’t decide your thoughts, your inner judgments,
those are a sacred world of your own.
And you bar me from solely submitting respect to this world,
badger me to define your thoughts!
Where is the authenticity in this discussion of modern identity?
Why even in intimacy can’t I unfold myself organically?
Your prying questions, selfish curiosity masked as queer recognition,
causes any chance of budding identity to vanish completely
and my body to crumble, falling away from yours,
hit by bullets of inquiry entwined with accusation.
They shoot straight through me, reverberating off the walls,
leaving the room’s air thick with your crowding echoes.
by Sarah Klema ’23 – Creative Writing Contest Winner
Exposure to the elements has worn it thin. Now fragmented, forgotten, it fights to be rediscovered.
Sulking at the bottom of the glassy rolling stream,
a treasure lies in patient wait.
Tarnished, wooden drawer knob of sorts, separated from its hollow body ages beyond telling––
antiquated. Curious thimble to behold, a shard of something unremarkable. Yet to my eye, it is as dear
as deep-sea pearl or silver doubloon.
Emanating an air of sad abandon, the knob’s story is untold. A pondering pity stirs in me. Whose hands,
long gone, once fumbled the knob? How came it off the drawer?
Now sheltered from the weather, it rests upon my bedroom shelf exuding a boastful sheen. Amongst my sea
of knickknacks, it counts itself most fair. Yet, nonetheless preserving that unadulterated charm
which first entranced my eyes.
What mysteries, deep, unspoken, lie beneath the knob’s dim surface, concealed by Time’s passing? Shall
I one day come to understand what makes it gleam so brightly, though all the polish is gone?
The Generation of Speaking out and the Spoken Word
by Nicole Patano ’22 –
I’m an advocate of nonviolence, so I don’t want to keep beating the dead horse.
Because the more we hear, the less we feel, the same we act.
And we forget to react and retract.
It’s a fact that our actions speak louder than our words.
The silence is deafening.
If you were to ask our sentiments, I would caution the extent to which you do so.
We’re more opinionated and liberated than others,
Free from the “dams that block the flow of social progress.”
Damn. Martin Luther King, Jr. said this when he digressed from the social norm
Of separate but equal, which was really separate and unequal.
We’ve gotten over that Little Rock; now’s not the time to stop and start treating the
Mountains like molehills.
The world is still turning, and we’re still learning.
We’re all the more deserving of being taken to task.
And I ask, “Oh say, can you see?”
Or has an eye for an eye made you blind?
Wasn’t it Plato who said that we have to leave our cave to see beyond the shadows?
And somehow after 6,000 years, our minds are still like clay.
Concrete is so passé because if you’re stuck in your ways
There’s no longer a spark to ignite your flame.
So we say, “May your fire burn forever.”
And don’t let anyone put it out.
Don’t let anyone put you down.
They say the sky is the limit.
But if my calculations are correct: the limit doesn’t exist.
So why should we define ourselves by what is possible
When we truly are inexhaustible?
And we may be full of hot air, but heat rises and expands.
Travel the zephyr, ride the wave, Zeppelin.
They saved the best for last.