Like the beginning of a bad romantic comedy,
I told him I love you and he said I know.
For most of the summer, the air has been slung
low and buzzing like an electrical wire downed
across the pavement. My mother spent hot months
of childhood with her hands over her mouth,
afraid of the cicada’s white noise, the sound
of their needles sewing shut the lips of girls
who said things they shouldn’t say. Some mornings
his skin is almost gold in the early sun
and I feel like a hunter as I watch him sleep.
We’re told about love—how the heart feels
like it’s blossoming. From the kitchen window,
I can see a street sweeper making a small dirt storm
in the side alley—whirlwinds of dust settling,
resettling. I opened the dishwasher days ago and found
a cockroach bright like a coin on a dinner plate.
When I call my mother, she tells me to run
the wash as hot as it will go and hope
the burning steam and water will drive them
back out through the pipes. I’ve let it go for days
now, afraid to open the door and see
their amber bodies escaping from the light.
– December 2016
by Micaela Cameron
Like the beginning of a bad romantic comedy,
by Laura Brun
today i am an old windsock and strappy sandals
some days you are a slug
in the orchard: i’m never
changing. i’m wearing the
wrong clothes for going out
so i stay in. we spread our
towels and spread out in
the sun. some days there’s
something dumb to do,
enough easy stuff to
feel like i lived, took
a good picture of what
summer should feel
like. if i hurt you in
the process of trying to
have fun, i’m sorry, but
will hold it against you.
by Darren C. Demaree
Too much bluff
perspective to bite
the hanging portion
of the world, which
is the afterworld
for every sincere alumni
& the falling, the falling
would only transplant
the sorrow past
the open windows.
I wanted to be taken
in by memories,
but I was too violent
with my deep muscles
to allow reflexive gifts.
I used my hands
on my jawbones
& that was my flight.
by Darren C. Demaree
There are gray dashes
& red dashes in my beard,
but I don’t have red hair
& I don’t have gray hair
& I think the words
I’ve chosen to speak
out loud might have left
a trail, might have left
the remains of a deer
around my thin lips
& I think I know why.
I’ve been hunting
a new violence
since I cannot seem
to penetrate the old
& in Ohio, the deer
you kill always decorate
your face with ghost kisses.
by Ana Reyes
The Bear Theory
It was a cool, spring night that twenty-nine-year-old grad student Lana Murphy went missing from her apartment in Baton Rouge. The date was March 23, 2015, but the exact hour remains a mystery, as does the nature of what happened to her. What it was she did. Theories put forth by those who knew her, those who saw her last, are all over the place, with some believing she’s dead, others assuming she fled the country, and at least one person insisting she’s still there in her apartment.
We’ll probably never know the truth.
Yet through every theory there weaves a certain suspect, one we maybe too easily dismissed, a suspect that Baton Rouge police chief Charlie LaFleur would later call “absurd.”
“I know,” says Suzy Hazmat, former neighbor and self-described frenemy of the missing. “I know how it sounds, but, swear to god, I saw it that very afternoon. I was having a cigarette on the porch when Lana came out to check her mail. She didn’t close her door all the way and there was this smell coming from inside. Like the den of a wild animal. I looked and that’s when I saw it, peering out at me through the door. All that fur . . . Those eyes . . .”
The same bear that would later devour Lana, according to Suzy Hazmat’s killer bear theory. “I heard it all through the walls,” she insists. “Screams. Growling. Munching sounds. I know some people say Lana had it coming, but that . . . no one deserves that.”
In a composite sketch released by police, the suspect is an adult female, seven feet tall and covered in fur. And it is strange, according to wildlife expert Angela Clark, because bears are almost never found in these parts.
Still, those who were closest to Lana are reportedly not very surprised: for the past year, she’d been growing a forest inside her apartment.
“It started off as a hobby,” says former boyfriend Saul DeSoto. “You know, a couple bonsai, some potted evergreens, a ficus or two. But that was Lana for you. Once she got started on something, she always took it way too far.”
Lana’s mom, however, disagrees. “I think my daughter wanted to stop that forest,” she says, “but couldn’t. I think it took over. Last time I saw her, there were so many branches, I couldn’t see the ceiling. And roots had broken up the floor. Not to mention the waterfall in the kitchen, though to be fair, that wasn’t really her fault. That was the landlord, he never fixed anything—so yeah, the leak in her sink was eventually a waterfall, and there was water everywhere, lily pads in the dish rack, moss on the silverware, that sort of thing.”
Lana was, at the time, sequestered beneath her bed, draped in mosquito nets.
“And that,” says her mom, “is when I made her promise to start looking for a new apartment. I tried to take her with me, but she kept saying she was fine. So I left her there . . . and as I left, I could have sworn I heard the sound of a loon echoing down the hall.” This is the last anyone ever saw of Lana Murphy. What we know now is what we have pieced together from stories, as well as Murphy’s final Facebook posts and Internet search history.
“OMG,” she wrote on Facebook the week she disappeared. “There’s a SQUIRREL in my apartment.”
“Wow,” replied her cousin Daisy Martinez, approximately eight minutes later. “WTF Louisiana?!??”
Soon after, in an email, Lana complained to a friend of “wild animals” in her closet. The friend, assuming that Lana was being metaphorical, never wrote back.
We know too from her Amazon Prime history that she ordered a half-dozen coil-spring bear traps, and one week later gave those traps a scathing, one-star review. Why was Lana so dissatisfied with her purchase?
“Because,” chimes in police chief Charlie LaFleur, “there was. no. bear. Of course Lana wasn’t happy with her damn bear traps. All along, she was trying to catch something that wasn’t there.”
In her final days, she would Google “owl” and “bear” and “how to get rid of bears,” and her apartment would grow so unruly that it was noticeable from outside, with reports of vines creeping from the mail slot and birds escaping from the chimney.
“It was a total wilderness in there,” says Suzy Hazmat. “There is no doubt in my mind that Lana Murphy was consumed by a bear.”
“And yet,” points out Lana’s mom, “the cops found no signs of struggle in that apartment.”
The Police would later confirm this statement as well as provide an account of what they did find:
They found an indoor forest, quiet and still, but very dense. They found a narrow trail leading to its heart, winding its way down the hall, past the shady glen of a broom closet. The trail led them to the waterfall of her sink, and there on its ledge, atop the white tiled counter, the police found a pile of bones. The bones were picked clean, and all about the size of a small child’s finger. Police lab tests revealed that these bones were those of fish and birds, mostly salmon and chicken – animals, in other words, that Lana might have kept in her freezer.
“Which proves,” says her mom, “that my daughter is alive and well in there, making herself dinner each night. That neighbor of hers might have been right about the forest, and who knows, maybe she was right about the bear. God only knows what lived in that place. But what Suzy Hazmat got wrong was the so-called ‘cannibalistic ordeal’ she says she heard through the walls. That wasn’t a bear eating Lana. It was the other way around.”
Her eyes mist as she discusses the state of that indoor forest, which, in the year since her daughter’s been gone, she visits every week. “Those bones,” she says. “The police took them from her apartment, but there were more when I went back, and then that pile just kept growing. The bones themselves seemed bigger each week, like Lana had run out of frozen meat, and was hunting wild animals in there – big ones. Wouldn’t surprise me really, she was always good at sports. One day I arrived to find the pile of bones as high as a house, and arranged in a big square, all stacked on top of each other like those Lincoln Logs she used to play with when she was a girl. Exactly like Lincoln Logs, in fact, as though my daughter were building herself a new home in the middle of the forest inside her apartment. A little cabin made of bones. I knock, every week, on its door. I’m still waiting for an answer.”