Remnants of Slug

by Vondavious Breaux

Bound by blood and shackles,
Abandoned by hope, the fear of unknowing.
My physique stings from the engraved lashes.
I have been deprived and brought to a land unfamiliar.

It seems Shango cries alongside me;
His spirit dances on the coast, thundering.
Each boom resonates, a drum.
His ballad calls out to me

Son of roots and dirt, you no longer remain near the edges
Of your homeland.

A tool is what I have become, a worthless tool
To these beasts who give no profit.
These men of flesh demand obedience;
Day after day constant beatings relentlessly
Eliminate any contemplations of escape.
I see men of my kin become submissive,
Licking the boots of our captors.
Hatred resides within my fragmented heart;
The intent to kill weighs heavily.

I vow vengeance;
My spear is not yet dull.
I will bide my time;
I cannot stand alone.

Spirits of Africa, I pray for your heroism.
May my pleas be answered and you select me
To rectify redemption.


by Yaye A. Ba

Vole, vole, respisre et profite du bon air
Tes couleurs jouissantes touchent mon coeur,
Tes aillles semblent qu’elle ressamble tous l’univers,
De la perfection!
Je vois, vert, jaune, rouge, et rose
Rose; la couleur de mon ame.
Quel arc en ciel!
Qui m’ emporte au ciel
Ciel de l’eternite.
Papillion, vole vole, avec moi
Je suis la tienne.

"Pieces" by Julie Hebert
by Julie Hebert


by Chrystal Coon

Watch the azure skydrops kiss the sleeping earthchild. Her auburn lips aglow with rainbows. Her eyelashes swept with gold. The sea floor has become her prison, her home. Cursed by our destiny to stay confined until we one day meet. Guarded by a group of seven, but not for her protection. Condemned because I was born, imprisoned because we should not be. My touch would spread wildfires among her gentle trees. I know she weeps when she thinks of me. Her longing is unbearable, vibrations touching across time desperately trying to reach me. But there is not a way to her, not one easy for someone such as me. One touch to her world and I would fizzle, snuffed before all my fight gave out. The distance is too vast. We can’t continue like this.

"Test Subjects" by Lauren Matherne
“Test Subjects”
by Lauren Matherne


by Abigail Giroir

Third Place: *The David Middleton Poetry Prize*

I walk through her fields—new
earth, untouched—her legs
heavy stalks of sunflowers,
golden buds extending, pressing
their faces to light.
Scarlet-blossomed poppies
field her belly, quivering,
fragile life filling her up and over—
opiate balloon. Nightshade,
black and glistening, pearls
along arteries—purple
infection. Thought like thickets
dense and deep, pierce
thorns behind her eyelids—
impenetrable grove.

I’ll never cut her hair or her legs.
And when her body stretches, thrives, ignites,
I will let it.


by Corey Sonier

Second Place: *The David Middleton Poetry Prize*

I no longer see myself
in the crinkles of your nose
or the creases on your palms,
for I am no longer there—
as if I ever was.
Did you leave your love
on the windowsill,
or in forgotten shoes
by the door?
Only left with memories of
hearts that never touched,
never quite resonated,
always a beat out of place,
not quite a melody.
Songs we tapped toes to
were never quite our own.
dancing with phantoms
on two left feet.

Hannah Lee

by Krystal Dean

First Place: *The David Middleton Poetry Prize*

She’s been your friend since the first time
she turned around to ask for a pen
and you couldn’t decide
what color to give her first
red for her cheeks or green for her eyes
so you gave her the whole box
and later told your mother you lost it.

She’s your friend.

She was your friend in junior year
when you laid on the roof to watch the moon rise
but you didn’t tell her that the only stars you could see
were sprinkled beneath her eyes
over the valleys of her cheeks
and the crooked, crinkled lines
of her nose when she laughs.

She’s your friend.

And your Icarus heart
takes you too close to the stars, to the skies,
to the heat of her laughter
and your wax frame dies
melts down your feathers
and you aren’t even surprised
as you fall into the sea.

She’s your friend.
And she has him.
And you will always just have freckle-dotted skies.

At Mesa Verde

by Allison Curth

It was the summer between my sixth and seventh grade years a little over halfway through our family road trip out West. I had insisted on making a stop at Mesa Verde to see the ruins of the cliff-dwelling Anasazi. We stayed in a lodge on the grounds of the National Park in a room with a balcony overlooking a field of shrubs and a mountain not too far off in the distance. When we weren’t out exploring the Native American ruins, that balcony was my favorite place to be. Up in the mountains of Colorado, even in the summer, there was a constant crispness in the air, unlike the muggy sauna of Louisiana.

During the day, my brother and I would test out our hand-carved souvenir slingshots from the balcony, cheering on our rocks in friendly competition to see whose would fly the farthest. But at night, I had the balcony to myself. At night, the air turned cold and the darkness gave the Park a renewed beauty. I strained to see the field of shrubs in the darkness, but the mountain glittered with city lights. The stars themselves seemed to dance just for me, yet they did not disturb the sacred stillness of the mountain. Seemingly to make the night more magical, a shooting star soared above me. But something about it made me gasp as my stomach twisted into a knot. I knew shooting stars to last a second or so then disappear, but this one did not. In the following seconds, it continued to get bigger and bigger to the point where I could tell it had already entered the atmosphere and was heading straight for the field of shrubs. I stared wide-eyed at the fireball as it sped toward me. Like nature’s own firework, the blazing rock smoldered as it disintegrated into nothing. It never even got a chance to hit the ground.

I had just witnessed the end of the life of a rock from space. It could have been part of a comet bigger than the entire earth. It could have been the remnant from a collision of rocks, billions of years old. But now, I was the sole witness to its demise. It had become nothing but dust and a few glowing embers that were soon extinguished as they floated towards the shrubs. The stillness resumed, but my adrenaline was rushing. I ran inside to tell everyone about what I had just witnessed. “That fireball in the sky! Did you see it? It was amazing!”

“No. What are you talking about?” Dad asked as he put down his reading.

“That thing that just burned up! I think it was some sort of rock from space.”

“Well, we must not have been able to see it from in here.”

And as quickly as they had looked up to greet me, they returned to their mundane activities, oblivious to the magnitude of the moment I experienced seconds earlier on the other side of the sliding door. They didn’t understand. They hadn’t felt the stillness of the mountain or the calm crispness of the cold air. They weren’t there when the stars danced their routine just for me. They weren’t frightened by the broken silence of the dramatic fireball as it raced toward the field of shrubs. They hadn’t experienced the meteor meeting its end. But I had. On the balcony at Mesa Verde.

Safety First

by Mark Robichaux

The fire extinguishers did not provide a sense of security when compared to the potential of a missile canister exploding. All around, my reload team, platoon sergeants, first sergeants, sergeant majors, and even a few colonels and lieutenant colonels held their breath as our forklift driver lowered the live PATRIOT missile canister onto the launching station. Any ping of metal made everyone flinch. Once the canister was in position, Specialist Jackman and I climbed on top of the launcher with our torque wrenches. Before any of us could begin torqueing the bolts to secure the can to the launching platform, it had to be grounded; otherwise any stray static charge could cause the can to explode.

“Grounded!” we yelled, and began the work of tightening the four bolts around the missile canister until the torque wrenches clicked.. Every time the torque wrench hit the can, a wave of panic would wash over everyone.

An hour or so later, my team and I gathered around the smoking area drenched in sweat but relieved that the live missile reload had been a success. The cigarettes we smoked after didn’t seem so unhealthy.

"Button Teapot" by Harli Lyons
“Button Teapot”
by Harli Lyons

The Unfinished Boat

by Justin Brunet

In eighth grade, I went to the spot where my friend Aaron sat. He was working on his art project about his family boat, The Old Frenchmen. I wasn’t surprised. He had pride for his family’s pastime, especially their trawling company, C and P Distributing. He would tell me stories about his summer adventures with his father as they trawled the Gulf of Mexico. I didn’t mind listening to them even though I didn’t understand boat terms. The one he loved to tell me was about a dangerous storm flipping over the boat. I don’t remember much of the story except the part where he and his father waited five hours for the coast guard. It was two months before summer vacation, and I figured he was anxious for the taste of the Gulf’s salt water again.

After flipping through a human anatomy book, I began making my collage. I started with the frontal view of the skull. It took several tries to get the size right. My lead pencil traced the outline of the sides and the jaw line. I added detail and shading to the eye sockets and nasal cavity. I was finishing the vomer when I glanced at Aaron’s project. He had only sketched the bow of the boat. His face was flushed.

“Are you alright?” I said.

“No,” he said as tried to cover his eyes with his hand.

I forgot what day it was. He only acted like this on the anniversary of when he had almost died. This was a story he only told me once. It happened when he was nine, during Easter break. He was trawling with his father when his foot got tangled with the otter net, and he fell overboard. He fought the current while trying to get out of the net, but the pull was too strong. Two members of his father’s crew jumped in the Gulf to save him. They managed to pull him out, but one of the crewmembers died—drowned, I think. He didn’t like to talk about it. He blamed himself for the man’s death.

“Aaron, look at me,” I said. “It wasn’t your fault.”

He put his head down. I wanted to tell him something, but I knew he wouldn’t listen to me. I went back to my project. I was drawing the perpendicular plate when I turned to see if he was doing better. No improvement. I put my lead pencil on my pad, and looked around the room at students working on their final projects. Some were making mummies out of chicken wire and freezer tape while others were sketching iconic scenes from movies. One kid sketched the famous scene from The Lord of Rings—when the ring reveals the Elvish language in Frodo’s hand.

“Can we talk about something else?” Aaron finally said.

“Why do you like trawling?”

“It’s in the blood.”

Before I could ask him what he meant, the bell rang.

Queen Anne’s Lace

by Rosalyn Stilling

Morning light filtered into the room, diffused by lace curtains, and scattered into soft floral patterns across the cream quilt. I opened my eyes and wiped the grit from them, sandy and heavy from a long night’s sleep. I stretched my little limbs across the soft, queen-sized bed, practically a swimming pool of buttery cotton blankets and feathered pillows compared to my diminutive six-year-old frame. I lay still for a while, feeling the heaviness of sleep slowly evaporate from my muscles like mist in the growing light of dawn.

Doves cooed in the oak tree outside of the window as my eyes slowly focused on the pattern of the soft sheets. They were cream and adorned with little colored illustrations of wildflowers. Their names were written in an evergreen, ribbon-like script, which after many washings, had bled slightly, giving the sheets a slight mint green haze. I reminded myself to ask Meme what each one was called when she woke up—I was beginning to learn to read, but I still couldn’t decipher script. I traced my finger along the curving letters and up the stalk of the flower next to my cheek on the pillow. I stroked my finger along the lavender colored petals, imagining I was sitting in a field surrounded by them. I jumped my finger over to each flower near my face—to ones resembling a warm yellow daffodil, a soft blue daisy, a fluffy coral rose. I was mesmerized by the colors and imagined how beautiful they must be in person.

As I continued playing flower petal hopscotch across the pillowcase, there was a gentle rapping on the door. I lifted my head and looked across the room as Meme peeked in. A Cheshire cat grin cracked across my face as she softly came into the room. Despite still wearing her pajamas, her hair was perfectly coifed into billowing peachy-red curls that perfectly cupped her angelic face. Her large chestnut eyes creased at the edges as she smiled back at me. I loved her smile—it was always warm and sincere with an infectious charm. If she was smiling, I couldn’t help but be happy, and it was rare that I saw her otherwise.

She wished me a good morning in a lilting, sing-songy way. I smiled even bigger as I patted the vast space next to me, imploring her to join me. She lightly laughed at my cheesy grin that showed off my pearly baby teeth as she lay down next to me. We chattered about our night’s sleep as she petted my head and smoothed out my honeyed mane of bedhead. I asked her to tell me again the name of each flower on the sheets. “Queen Anne’s Lace” or “Larkspur” she would say as she traced her finger across the ribbony names in time with each syllable. My attention lingered on the Queen Anne’s Lace. I was mesmerized by the starburst clusters of fluffy white, so I dotted my fingers on each flowery tuft, memorizing its smooth stalk and puffy petals. Her fingers, though knobby with age, were smooth and pale, dotted with small, russet beauty marks and tipped with apricot nail polish. I repeated after her and traced my tiny finger across the words.

The doves cooed again, now accompanied by cackling crows and other bird songs, and I looked up out of the window above the mahogany sleigh bed, watching the oak leaves bob up and down in the morning breeze. Meme smoothed my hair again as she told me about the birds I was hearing, teaching me their songs and promising to show me their pictures when we rose, so I could learn to identify them. I smiled and nodded, always eager to listen and learn from her.

Now satisfied with my tamed hair, she petted my face and let her thumb linger on the many umber moles scattered across my cheeks. I giggled as she counted each one and reminded her, as was our morning ritual, that it was time for her to pet my back. It was one of my most favorite interactions with her because her hands were the softest in the entire world, and she took time and care while she rubbed my back. I lifted my night shirt, an oversized Bird Watching Society shirt of my grandfather’s, and her downy hands travelled up and down my back. They rivaled a swan’s raiment in softness and purity, for they were velvety smooth and only ever outstretched in peace and love. We would take turns petting each other’s backs, though I doubt my little hands, normally cold or slightly clammy, could compare to the velvety warmth of her slim hands. I awkwardly swayed my hand back and forth over the back of her cotton pajama top. After a solid thirty seconds, my tiny arms were tired, so it was back to her turn. I relished the fact that she put her hands on my cool back. The tactile contact was immensely valuable and comforting to me when all else in life seemed confusing, uncertain and scary. In these moments, I felt safe and comforted by the tenderness she showed me. If we could have stayed like that all day, I wouldn’t have minded.

When our arms were fully tired and the cooing doves were gone, our morning ritual was over. She pulled me into her arms, kissed my head with satiny lips, and ushered me out of bed to get changed for breakfast. I had little concept that anything existed outside of the days I spent with her.

Thirteen years later, she was lying in that same antique sleigh bed, though our roles were much changed. Her angelic face now revealed more velveteen crinkles of a life well lived, though her brow was furrowed in confusion.

“I’m scared. Please don’t leave,” she said, her voice cracking as she held back tears. She was now unable to walk and her nurse had to use a lift to take her from the living room of her little apartment to her bed. She was afraid that the lift would drop her, though her tall slim frame had shrunken to a waifish build that could hardly be cumbersome to anything.

“You don’t have to be scared, Meme. You’re safe in your bed and I’m here. I won’t leave you,” I said, though my voice cracked.

“Can you pet my arm, Rosalyn? It makes me feel better when I’m scared.”

“Of course,” I said softly as I smoothed my hand across her forearm. Her skin was still downy soft but creased like thin satin crepe. I hoped I was able to comfort her, but I wasn’t convinced that I was much help.

“When I was a little girl, my daddy used to pet my arm before I went to sleep at night. It helped me to feel better and not be so afraid,” she confided. Her large brown eyes, rimmed with tears, left mine as she focused on the window. I looked away to contain my emotions. I had to be strong. “Thank you,” she said, looking back at me as a delicate tear slipped down the crease at the corner of her eye.

I smiled back, unable to properly form my thoughts into a coherent statement. I wanted to tell her how little it was in comparison to how much she had done for me and meant to me, but my mouth was dry. I simply said, “I love you.”

Later that month, I would find myself kneeling at her bedside rather than sitting on its edge, watching family members come and go from behind her hands, now cold and laced together with a rosary. They would stay for point five seconds, cry a bit, tell my mother and aunt how wonderful my Meme was, and walk out, hardly looking at her. I couldn’t bear to look at them either. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t fully acknowledge her. I didn’t care if breath no longer stirred her chest, she was still there.

Doves sang outside the window, our constant companions. I leaned my head against her smooth arm and wept. “Don’t be afraid,” I whispered to her through my tears. “I won’t leave you.” I gently smoothed my hand back and forth along her gossamer forearm. I could feel the warmth leaving it little by little. With the other hand, I traced my finger along the sheets beneath her arm. I could see blotches of faded color and green ribbons through my tears. As my eyes cleared, my finger traced a swirling green ribbon by her elbow. It read “Queen Anne’s Lace”.

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