Issue 01: “Welcome to the Machine” (Fall 2011)


Welcome to The Big Windows Review, Issue 1, “Welcome to the Machine.” I’d like to thank the contributors to this issue; this issue’s editorial board (Simon Mermelstein and Michael Moriarty, who read and scored the blind–i.e., names removed–submissions); and Pete Leshkevich, who taught me how to work with WordPress.


All contents  © 2011 Washtenaw Community College and the individual authors or artists.

The works herein have been chosen for their literary and artistic merit and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Washtenaw Community College, its Board of Trustees, its administration, or its faculty, staff, or students.

Simon Mermelstein | Big Windows View (Ode to a Parking Structure)
Zachary Baker | A Haiku for Cole Jordan
Zeke Thomas | The Lid Lifted
Michael Moriarty | For Auto Plant Workers
S. Levin | Pleasure for One
Zeke Thomas | Mama Machine
Matthew Hunter | Gabriela
Diane M. Laboda | Body Machine
Zeke Thomas | Aquanaut
Sheldon Ferguson | Body Machine (Brain)
Radek Ozog | the drill killers
Erin Stewart | Untitled
Erin Gunderud | Silversmith’s Engine
Zeke Thomas | Eleven Lines to Heaven
Alissa Rheinheimer | Death
Erin Stewart | Untitled
Geneva Smith | The Journey
<<< Special Feature >>>  J.E.M. Lewis, Dan G. Travis, and Casey Burnett | America’s Mafia: Welcome to the Family



Big Windows View (Ode to a Parking Structure)

 The pine trees
Tall though they may be
Stand dwarfed by the steel crane

* * *

Something falls down
Something rises from barren ground
Something still is lost

* * *

On concrete, rebar, I-beams, mud
You have no skin



A Haiku for Cole Jordan 

Even if wings are ripped
from a butterfly—
never a caterpillar again.



The Lid Lifted

The Lid Lifted--zimmerman



For Auto Plant Workers

Who spot-weld door frames.
Who affix windshields.
Who haul newly molded metal.
Who lose 3 fingertips in a punch press.
Who rupture discs from constant lifting.
Who loses his hearing.
Whose lunches sometimes come from vending machines.
Whose mother’s in hospice.
Whose children are in college.
Who lose their jobs and are in college with their children.
Who wake to a slab of darkness.
Who weld so quick – no time to speak to the man next to him,
maybe the score of last nights Tigers game if he watched it.
Who means of production.
Who says fuck the foreman when he’s not watching.
Who bite his lip when he calls him lazy.
Who sometimes doesn’t.
Who busted the foreman’s lip and walked right outta that place
and never collected his last paycheck.
Who stayed and stored all the outbursts in his cheeks like tumors.
Who chain smoker. Who drinks from a flask on his breaks.
Who asks a fair wage, walks out until he gets it.
Who sits down next to the line until he gets it, throws
his whole frame and livelihood into the guts of gears and industry
in hopes of healthcare for his family, who lost it.
Out of business. Watched the last truck roll off the lot
as the sun smashed its set against the pavement like a bloody lip.
Lost his pension. Lost his mother in hospice.
Watches his wife try to rub the stress from her temples.
Lost the on-time payment of bills. Who struggling.
Who put his fist through a wall.
Who scans the want ads, who has to find something.



Pleasure for One

Masticate, masturbate, and machinate
                           Rapture –
Reboot and repeat



Mama Machine

Mother Machine




Wrote a poem before we met
words all out of place
like geometry to piece God’s brain
how to walk on it
head like a mantis, lotus legs
heart in prayer pose

how to breathe
what’s your name?
what’s the word for dawn’s purple in your eyes
           its play with twilight
                             deities’ humor
remind me of my divinity

have we time to make the language beautiful
walk without making your precious toes more bloody
I have watched earth bend to your dance
                             her bow to its grace
             and you smiled your eyes closed
whispering like sisters do,
what fire burned that I hunt your scent
what glowing print inscribed ‘cross your back

meticulous stitching keep me bound to this body?
Letters and numbers, my beating chest,
I’m hog-tied at the ankles with words
and my personality, can’t dance,
waiting for a needle.



Body Machine

We stand,
monuments to the tag-team match between
pond scum and Neanderthal. Slimy inside
contained in strong cellular wrap, like Mylar
around the Echo, Kevlar sails against the wind.

We operate
without an owner’s manual
by clinging to our parental models,
imitating their upright stance, uptight
upper lip, ingestion and exhaust systems.

We process
info-data in bytes and digest words
in stanzas, give feedback in tones
and orations and in shouts
and honks and bullets.

We hold
together strong diets of emoticons,
while washing down the unpalatable
with weak beer and fermented denial.
Rarely do we belch.

We frequently ambulate
far outside our comfort zone,
carrying our arms in a basket
and our manners on our back.
We never let them see our eyes.

On sun days we seek icons
to pleasure our synapses and wrap our
incomplete bone-sense with robes of star-shine
and forgiveness. On our last day we seek to rise
like the prayerful, hot-skinned Phoenix.







Body Machine (Brain)

Through the body’s computer
I process thoughts, emotions and connect
To the supercomputer of the divine
Wide web of heaven
I entertain the neurons with a comedy
Sending an endorphin rush throughout the body
With electro neuro synaptic commands
From this body’s most amazing computer
And command the body to move and stay still



the drill killers

the machines whose jaws open a crack
welcoming men made objects in wilderness
rocks bite the heat of the drilling
cracking jaws bite down while trees are falling
humanity and 95 degree weather, dead as the deserts on mars
the end god creations
but I wonder how many gods possess the earth
no more earth tone
the blue birds rest in silence
as two trees fall the eggs hit newly laid-out cement……..
splash in silence…..







Silversmith’s Engine

     I sighed heavily as I looked up at the airship before me. I had never been on one before. It was bulky looking, seemingly too heavy to fly, but they pass by overhead all the time, so it must work. I walked up the boarding ramp with my bag in tow. Curiosity got the better of me, and I looked down just as I took the first step onto the actual ship. We had not even taken off yet, and I had already decided that the center of the ship seemed the safest place to be. I moved to the middle of the deck, hoping my lodging here wouldn’t have windows.
     Just then, a tall, chiseled man tapped me on the shoulder. As I turned around he said, “You must be the traveler.”
     “Y-yes, um, sir?” I stuttered, not knowing the proper formalities.
     “Sir or Captain Harris is fine. This appears to be your first time on an airship.” He said the sentence in a way that I understood had many meanings behind it, one of them being “I find you slightly irritating.”
     “Yes, this would be my first experience on a ship like this. Sir. Is it anything like a boat?”
     The captain grunted a reply that could have either been a yes or no, then looked across the deck as a young lady approached. Her face was smudged with something glossy, and sweat trickled down her brow. “Silversmith,” the captain addressed her, “take this one under your wing for the duration of the trip.”
     “Yes, sir!” she replied. She extended her hand to me, and shook it hardily. The captain walked off towards the opposite side of the ship, and Mrs. Silversmith guided me down a hatch.
     “So, welcome, newcomer!” She had a slight drawl that made me think she was from the American South. “Ship’s called Gale’s Grace. She’s a beauty, and I work in the heart of her. C’mon, I’ll show ya.” As we got closer to the end of the corridor, it got harder to hear her. The sound of pistons and steam hissed from beyond the door in front of me.
     As Mrs. Silversmith opened the door, a wave of heavy, humid air hit us. When it cleared, I took in a wondrous scene. A grand, shining engine was the centerpiece of the room. It was brass, and the red lighting of the room glistened off of the metal prettily. Silversmith watched patiently as I wandered closer to the machine, observing the movements of all the little pieces working together.
     “This engine must be pretty powerful to move this whole ship,” I wondered, aloud.
     Silversmith smiled and wiped her brow. “She was top of the line a few years ago. Still better than standard.” As she looked down at her engine, her face had a warmth that was unusual to see from strangers.
     “What do you see when you look at it?” I asked her.
     “A beauty both simple and complex,” she replied.



Eleven Lines to Heaven




Tick, tock
Time moves. . . .
Crick, creak
The gears turn. . . .

the reaper watches his strange contraption.
And, when it comes time,
the large, double doors open,
then the bells begin to ring.
The reaper moves,
he drifts along the path. . . .

With a sigh, he steels himself,
he has reached his destination.
Like clockwork, he reaches for the doorknob.
Here it comes,
           The tears,
                      The pleas,
                                 The groans of despair. . . .

To his surprise, the door opens before he turns the doorknob. . . .
A girl stands there, violin in hand.
“Would you like some tea?” she asks.
He blinks in surprise.

“Oh, I’ll be along in a moment,
I have to put a few things away first.
May I bring my violin?
I want to play a song for you. . . .”

To each his own self.
We are individuals,
That is why we look different.
We are not machines,
Made to look and be the same.

And, when it comes time to go,
Let us go with dignity and grace.
Poor Death has enough troubles
Without us acting like spoiled brats.

If only he could escape this clockwork,
This . . . cruel machine.
We cannot escape the machine of time,
So let us face it with pride,
And without fear.
Let us treat it as an adventure
When it comes,
And take Death’s hand when he offers it.

Never forget,
Those you love.
But don’t be angry,
When Death takes them.




 Stewart--4 wheelers




The Journey

In Life

we travel through a tunnel towards a light that awaits at the end…

           moving through this dark, damp, cold tunnel can be overburdening
                                                                      the weary environment

           hardly ever feeling the warmth of the light heating our bodies
                                                                      the moments are brief

           long periods of trickery go by of
                                                                      the luminous light appearing closer

What is beyond this light?

people who care
utopia–the perfect world
            all lost things returned
trickery–more of
            a candle burning surrounded by mirrors

maybe simply happiness…

but who’s
and when

What is the light?

visual security
warm comfort
could it be?

A dream – the dream – the dream’s dream

the ultimate

the last thing in Pandora’s box


anticipation is the adventure of life
           what if
           the bright side

the aspiration to achieve

the light at the end of the tunnel




Ricardo “Ricky” Juan, Advisor

Profile: Brilliant, deceptive, mysterious, and perverted are all adjectives that best describe Ricky. This mischievous deviant got a Doctorates Degree in General Studies, which makes his advice extremely valuable. He often has escapades that dare not be mentioned in even the most X-rated of movies. No “Juan” knows for sure where he finds the rare and quite valuable possessions he owns, or how he can afford such things. However, his recent inventions may just hold the answer.

Caleb Calvert (a.k.a. “CaCa the Clown”), Enforcer

Profile: CaCa is the greatest, most intimidating mastermind this world has ever known. Of course, if I didn’t write him in such a positive light, he would undoubtedly rip off my writing arm and beat me to death with it. Formerly a skinny and easily extorted businessman, CaCa the Clown has taken what was once a mascot for his restaurant and turned it into the face of the most feared man alive.

Skip Kennedy, Lieutenant

Profile: A young man of many talents, Skip has owned the town’s most successful night club since he was fourteen years old. He now runs it alongside his beautiful, yet lethal, girlfriend. With a wit and charm reminiscent of Jim Morrison, Skip Kennedy is the town’s most ineligible bachelor; his aforementioned girlfriend, a former assassin for the Japanese Yakuza, may be the reason why.

Donald “Don” St. Clair, Boss

Profile: The son of Pure City’s last great mayor, Don is a man in pursuit of the ultimate contradiction: power and peace. Confident and strong, he is a natural-born leader who is able to utilize those in his environment to help him achieve. He puts his Doctorates degree in Political Science to great use every day, managing the town’s only fast food restaurant. He adds to the store’s success by selling the “Donnie Delight” – a sandwich that leaves customers hungry for more.

America’s Mafia is a new American saga being developed by Dan G. Travis and J.E.M. Lewis. The six books will feature Pure City, Michigan, a town that does not exist. If it did, no one would live there, what with the friendly mailman getting stabbed daily, the jailhouse releasing people hourly, and crimes being perpetrated by the minute. The first of the six books, subtitled “One Week in Pure,” was written with the hopes of inspiring the youth in America (preferably fourteen and older) to continue reading. Perhaps this is why the story is filled with so much violence, innuendo, comedy, and excitement – the creators’ VICE. Find out more online at, coming soon.

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