Issue 03: “Signs of Life” (Spring/Summer 2012)

Chicago Scarab

Zeke Thomas | Chicago Scarab

Welcome to The Big Windows Review, Issue 3, “Signs of Life.” I’d like to thank the contributors to this issue and this issue’s editorial board (S. Levin and Simon Mermelstein, who read and scored the blind–i.e., names removed–submissions). –TZ

All contents  © 2012 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.

The Big Windows Review 3 (e-magazine version)



Jeffrey Davis | Scavenger
Jessica Jackson | Confessional
John Michael Reed | The Last Episode
Diane M. Laboda | To Be Human
Diane M. Laboda | Imaginary World
Mallory Wayt | Ray
Mallory Wayt | Untitled
Alissa Rheinheimer | Twilight Images
Alprentice | I
Matthew Hunter | Dying Again


Jeffrey Davis | Scavenger

          When she opened the last door, particle clouds swirled up and around the room in currents of glistening grey and white. Her flashlight transformed the silent motes into scrambling fairies. The apartment had become an orphanage for dust in the two years since the bad days of baying hounds and bloody suns. She adjusted the pack on her shoulder, took a few deep breaths from her rebreather, and trespassed into the dim remnant of yesterday.
The darkness of the room was offset by occasional flashes of gold and orange. The fire she set was still burning outside the window. Time hadn’t betrayed her yet; she could finish her sweep of this building without attracting their attention. Flame never failed to fascinate those awful shadows: it was a puzzle they couldn’t solve, a threshold they couldn’t cross. Come ember-time, when their muted and inevitable vengeance would come spilling out of every place that had a door, she would be on the other side of town, in the safe hands of torch-light and her treasures.
The system in her head kicked in. Priorities shuffled into place until she felt the cold relaxation of practiced routine. Portraits were first because it’s good to make friends. Next was fuel to keep the fires bright, water to make the throat delight, food to keep the body right. After that were books to keep the words alive, if they still had words in them. When she put the first portrait in her pack (a photo of two middle-aged brunettes with the note of “Sheila and Tammy ‘96” on the back), the memory came. She remembered the afternoon she saw a word-eater, devouring the battle cries of soldiers, the orders of policemen, the shocked whimpers of her neighbors. When their silence came, all she heard was the scuffling of robes and the krak-whoosh of flesh exploding into clouds of dust.
She looked toward the kitchen: three portraits, a fridge, a fire extinguisher (damned thing), and something that made blue light. The newness of the glow gave her jitters. Pain radiated up from her jaw to her forehead as she clenched her teeth. She walked over to the sink, where a pale blue light faintly shone from inside the garbage disposal. It reminded her of the old sky; back when hounds were still just dogs that looked at you with something like love. She leaned closer, despite the stench. There was word for the thing in the sink: bioluminescent. She tried it out in her mouth and it felt like a stranger. Before she left with her three portraits, four books, and a box of matches, she made sure to smile at the pretty petals and shapes inside the sink-tube. She didn’t want to be rude and discourage the light.
The woman with the pack stepped back on to the street. The burning building gave her its heat. She fled into the arms of torch-light when she saw the shadows move in the distance, by the old firehouse.


Jessica Jackson | Confessional

Whispered promises half-forgotten linger over the exhibition of possibility.
Mounted tensions overwhelm heuristics of restrictive propriety as
mouthfuls of burning muse exhale smoke and fire from my throat.
Words become superfluous in primitive understanding.
He reaches for me like an inevitability, tasting of hash and blueberries.
I don’t mind that sweetness—in that moment pretension of resistance is willfully
After the timeless song has been danced to and the sighs have been sighed,
echoing into one another,
the dark quiet settles over the far side of afterglow.
I slip away from the tempting warmth of his arm that threatens sleep
upon the softness of foreign bedding smelling of sex,
padding over to my technologic lifeline.
I sit there to expose my soul to text in limited curves and angles in 2D
while the singular glow from the computer screen casts strange shadows
across goose bumped skin chilled and completely exposed to the hum of the A/C.
Synapse fire and words appear, coming alive past the blinking cursor.
Satisfaction resides here.


John Michael Reed | The Last Episode

Love goes not as a peaceful thing.
Blood stains of pains it cannot clean, dry, wring
To wash away the past, the flaw, the spring,
It must make mistakes forever flowing.
It bubbles and boils a madness does heat,
Beneath source mountain, sadness eternal sleep.
Not sadness per say, a blunted affect,
A glass full(y) empty, awaiting its fill.
It’s next mistake for fun, boredom, neglect
Sanguine wine, at glass(‘s) edge, red ready to spill,
To soil more linen, soft, silky, and white.
My ink, your wine; my page, your cloth; my light, your night.
Gone be my children, my mistress, my wife,
In blackest bed, I hold from it my life.


Diane M. Laboda | To Be Human

We walk as if we know
what we’re doing, one foot
in front of the other as if
we know where we’re going.
One foot

on the path, one foot off—
the one with the higher
consciousness hovering
just above, seeking
the high ground.

We talk as if we know
what we want to say,
word after word, as if
every listener will recognize
the language.

One word offending, another
praising, another giving hope
that there will be more
to come, words whose hearts
have seen their maker’s spirit.

Our hearts beat as if they,
our sustainers, will last
forever, pumping tender juices
to our limbs, our core,
our short-sighted vision, our rainbows

which grow by the path amid
the footprints and chatter, telling us
we are all one and forgiving and loveable,
and walking together above
the same rugged path.


Diane M. Laboda | Imaginary World

I imagine on my good days
that I can skate like Michele Kwan,
graceful and limber and able to leap
and twirl and make my body do
whatever I wanted, fly like the wind.

On more melodious days I fancy
my fingers dancing across a keyboard,
pounding out any tune my mind imagines,
savant-like, needing no sheet music, metronome
or teacher, replicating Gershwin or Hammond.

On days my spirit soars, I flap my wing-like arms
and manage a supreme lift-off, inches only
but heading toward the open sky
like Icarus charging the sun,
I feel the heavens close-up with my fingers.

On days when words come easy, I think
myself a poet who captures the daisy-petal
on the page, embellishes the sunrise,
sees the good in every cloud, drinks the dew,
bathes in the rain and sings bird-songs.

On ordinary days I imagine rising without pain,
cruising close to competency, finding worth
in helping others, standing on my own two feet,
letting my voice raise to the cause
and finding peace again in gentle sleep.


Mallory Wayt | Ray
A balancing beam
A flickering stream
Gleaming and teeming with pieces of dust,
Tumbling yellow
Sweet lemon Jell-O
Hello, my fellow, land here if you must.
Mallory Wayt | Untitled
When the fire-flies
Illuminate my back yard,
I sigh to myself.

Alissa Rheinheimer | Twilight Images

You’re never alone, you fool.
You have me.
always beside you,
connected, yet separate.
Not always seen, but always there.
I mirror your actions,
but don’t think for one moment,
that we are the same.

I’m not your evil side,
or even your darker side,
not necessarily anyway.
But I am your twin.
Sometimes you notice me,
but more often than not,
you forget that I’m even there.

As for me,
I can never forget your existence.
It’s painful, you know,
to only be able to watch,
but not able to do anything,
not even look away from your pain.

Some people are scared of the darkness,
of shadows,
of the night sky.
Would you fear me then?
Even if I tried to save you,
to lend you my aid?

Sometimes I hate you,
you’ve condemned me to this fate, after all.

Yet, I also love you.
Without you,
I wouldn’t be.

I just wish,
that you would acknowledge me.
You usually look at your reflection,
you see it.
Why not me?
Why should I be your mere follower?
Why can’t I say something to you,
or touch your hand?
If I did such a thing,
would you be afraid of me?
Would you hate me?
Your own shadow?


Alprentice | I

I’m alive
I exist
I breathe and I thirst
I cry
I yell at the sanitation men
In the early AM

I’m alive
I struggle to be
I reject the sight of me
I run when they want to take
I walk
When I want to have a friend

I’m alive
I long for the touch of her
I sigh
I long for these moments
To last for longer then a moment
I think

I’m alive
I’m here
Are my foot steps going to leave
An impression
I lie
For only my words will leave a print
Then I’ll die


Matthew Hunter | Dying Again

I’m walking rooted treelike
breathing as loud as the ocean
wondering of joy, dear friend, since you died,
how tender the balance of your last breath
wishing one moment longer
and my first
in this place where stones ablaze
and everything is music

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