STAFF WORK

A collection of literary and visual art from the students on staff.

My Father's Chicken

Ben Underwood

‚Äč

He cuts the chicken to just the right size—

Not too big, not too small. Into

the pan it goes. So too do the spices.

Ah yes, the spices;

he sprinkles in the paprika, the 

salt, the pepper, the herbs.

I gaze in awe at the ease

with which he whirls up his famous concoction:

Grilled chicken.

Beyond him, sits my Grandfather

on the bench of our weathered piano.

For his tender age—

91—his ancient hands glide across the keys

with astounding rapidity

as he molds the soaring melodies of 

Rachmaninoff into a beautiful, full sound

that reaches into every corner of our small, 

cozy home,

as if Rachmaninoff himself were reaching into our 21st century world

from his tomb.

My father, laboring over the steamy stove top, 

wipes his eyes as they begin to tear up.

Did the onions get to him?

Perhaps. Or maybe

my grandfather’s euphonic sounds are 

sending my father into a reverie over his fallen wife,

who used to play the same undulating Russian music—

in her worldly years. 

 

My mother, like Rachmaninoff,

fell into the oblivion of death.

But will her spirit, like his, be able to reach 

into the centuries of tomorrow?

How long until her name becomes just that… 

a name? How long until her spirit is unable to escape her wooden casket,

forever sentenced to the eternal damnation of nothingness?

I vow to never be forgotten, vow to leave some mark

which permits me to soar across the universe from my tranquil tomb

after my time grinds to a halt.

My solemn ruminations are ruefully interrupted

as my Father proclaims, with an almost boyish enthusiasm,

“The food’s ready!”. 

All traces of his previous weeping have vanished.

 

Maybe it was just the onions. 

A Poem for P, M and R.

Morgan Plagenz

 

By the river I will wait, not

crushed by the waves but

dangling by their side in the

eaves of the white forest. 

Frozen water still 

gushes beneath the surface, a

hostile and raging 

influx that transverses

junctions by which the

kids once ran. The sun’s

light felt nice then, but now

my eyes want to see 

nothing but darkness. 

Orion’s belt, a

perpetual trio, three

Queens I can no longer

reach but can still see. 

Soon as the earth

turns, once more,

unanimously they 

vanish back to the

winter sky, their grand
xenic mystery, my three
yellow suns. Now there’s

zero stars, just me and the river.

A poem for A.

Erin Huang

 

Age does not stop you;

Breathing heavily, you

Carry water for miles,

Daikon and napa rest on your tall shoulders. 

Even with your white, graying hair, you

Fight on...like a hunter. At night,

Grandma cooks us a 

Hearty soup. 

Ice cream, the color of pure amethyst, brings

Joy to our nights in Taiwan. The wind

Kisses our cheeks as we

Leave on the back of your

Motorcycle, streaming through 

Neighborhoods,

On our way to the rainbow

Park. You tell me, 

“Quit being so hard on yourself,” as we

Rocked on the green swing. It

Seems like you’ll always support me... But

Then you left me...the day before eleven.

Unforgiving is me, for I never

Valued our time enough, but know that I

Will think of you on every birthday.

X marks you, my treasure that I harbor.

Yes, for I see you, grandpa, in the

Zillion stars of the night, protecting me always. 

Act Like A Boy

Sea

 

Fold the khakis on Monday and hang them in the wardrobe; fold the dress shirts on Tuesday and hang them in the dresser; only squeeze two drops out of the lemon for your hair, comb left to right; this is how you tie, this is how you tie a bow tie; open the door, pull out the chair, push it in, pay the check, help her up; don’t drive a Subaru—you are not a soccer mom; stop crying, go wash your face, talk to me like a man; you need to play a sport to get big and strong; but I don’t want to play a sport, you mean you don’t want to be a boy, I always wanted to have a son so he’d play sports with me; we don’t listen to classical music in this car, you can turn that stuff on in your mom’s car; this is how you cook the steak, don’t flip in over more than two time or it’ll lose all of its juice; this is how you drink; don’t let anyone call you a girl; are you going to let that girl beat you?; stop acting like a girl; girl; girl; girl; girl; get up—get up on your feet right now, boys get back up; pull the arrow, aim, let it go; but the deer, he’s in pain, he’s bleeding; you mean to say after all you are really going to be the kind of man who can’t stand the sight of blood?

Girl

Joy Ku

 

Those jeans are too short and you look sleazy; those skirts are too long and you look short; those clothes make you cheap so of course you don’t want them; you look too plain; you look too much; you look too thin; you look too fat; here’s the limit when you go shopping; I buy less than my brothers though; don’t eat that cake; don’t eat that chocolate; and my goodness, don’t eat the chips since you’ll get fat; then why did you buy them in the first place?; why aren’t you eating?; eat more; you need to grow; have the meat soak in water before putting it into the pan; grapes need to be washed three times; go get me a glass of water and set the table; you’ll cook dinner tonight, won’t you?; but don’t each too much because you’ll get fat; clean the pots with warm water; don’t carry the trash out; it’s too heavy; don’t pull the tire out; that’s a man’s job; don’t carry that; you’re back will break; don’t talk; nobody likes a girl who talks too much; don’t talk back; nobody likes a girl who has attitude; why aren’t you standing up for yourself?; nobody likes a girl who cowers in the corner; what am I supposed to do?; lose some weight; nobody likes a fat girl; look in the mirror; what do you see?; a screen?; those models and singers and actors and all the skinny perfect girls you wish to be?; be more like them

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