In our Apostrophes section, (614) Magazine attempts to highlight some of the incredible literary talent that lives, works, and writes in Columbus. If you are an interested writer, please direct your submissions (1,000 words max for prose, 300 words max for poetry,) along with a brief bio, to email@example.com
Kansas City Gumbo
By Nathan Vanderhorst
Shifting like wind over the plains of Nebraska, I contemplate America’s triumphs
– corn and mortality. I am a connoisseur of the Midwest,
each of these beautiful cities is a bustling fat jazzy multytude.
A stirring pot of gumbo, from Kansas City to St Louis to Louisville to
Cincinnati, beer in Minnesota, and
A stop deep in the concrete guts of Chicago,
Hail fire and smoke and ashes, police,
citizens who quote Nietzsche.
Columbus my home, city of football and chickens, insurance and grandness,
I am about to play myself like a jazz symphony, an
orchestra unto myself, woodwinds in my eyes, percussion
in my toe taps, I was born into the world
wailing from loneliness and words.
Nathan Vanderhorst grew up in Cincinnati and moved to Columbus to attend Ohio State University, where he obtained degrees in English and Urban Geography. He now works in customer service while he spends his spare time writing poems and going to see classic films at the Wex.
Vacationers on the Lawn
By Andy Kalan
There are think-tank intellectuals fixed on the next revolution. They stab their now eaten cigarettes into the grass and sit in little circles looking like communists.
The political activists are handing out brochures with propaganda about the death of animals or war in the third-world or equal rights for some marginalized fringe group. Next to them is the hell-fire preacher with wrath on his lips and judgment in his heart. He says all this is madness and seduction and the vilest of evils.
And there is flesh everywhere: in the numbing of bodies that readily receive the violence of the sun. Girls chatter about their weekend plans and who they’ll see and what they’ll wear and if it’ll be as forgetful as the last time. And they are surrounded by acrobats on tight-ropes and former three-sport athletes catching pigskins showcasing their latest workout. With eyes on fire and liquor in their veins, they’ll soon lose their minds and consciences and intend to fill their gullets with the foulest of intentions.
Out comes the president and the trustees with the richest of boosters from tradition-worn buildings. And they’re followed by the eyes of a future flag-carrier, Fellow suit-wearer sweating in his threads, Mind filled with the dreams of meetings that’ll come, but he must focus back to the padding of his extensive résumé. All the while, internationals like fragile little sponges drink everything in.
And maybe Bukowski was right: there’s nothing more hopeless than all these wasted hours in search of some lost cause.
Andy Kalan is a resident of Clintonville. He serves as a pastor at NewLife-OSU, a collegiate church at the Ohio State University. His first collection of poems, Nude, is finished but yet to be published.
Gestalt (Or The Communion Tapas Party Poem)
By Sommer Sterud
In catechism class, I cried
a lot. I hated the nuns who
made me stand up to recite
the Lord’s Prayer. My mind
refused the verse: an infant
pressing her lips hard to avoid
mushy peas. I didn’t yet have
the palate for another man’s
body, so why would I care if
I went to bed without my Christ
wafer? One nun even told me
not to chew it/him because he
might bleed. That didn’t scare me
as much as knowing a relative
of god would think children are
that stupid. It was nothing like
the Serbian church my best friend
invited me to, where she offered
me a sweet bread cube and Dixie
cup of juice. But I’m not confirmed,
She gave me two squares. You must
be hungry then. Afterwards, I ran
hot water in the bathroom sink,
dipped my middle finger, held it
to the mirror, crossed
myself backwards. I didn’t see
the girl despite the feather
in my hair. I closed one eye
to keep from seeing double.
Sommer Sterud received her MFA in creative writing at the Ohio State University before moving to Ecuador for three years to teach English. Her poems have appeared in several online and print journals, such as Hotel Amerika, H_NGM_N, and Harpur Palate. You can hear and see her poems at Brothers Drake during the September Motive and Gallery Hop exhibit Art In Translation, which she is co-curating with painter Jaime Hesper. In addition to being an occasional contributor to (614), Sommer is also a stand-up comic and full-time faculty member at Capital University, where she teaches creative writing and composition.
By Alexis Rueal
He said he felt cleansed–
From an atheist, high praise
for June rain.
I felt kindergarten dirty–
rain layered to summer sweat,
strawberry glaze, and fresh cut grass skin.
It’s not like getting caught in the rain–
this was choice, want, need.
The desire to feel
wet percussion on our shoulders,
to hear nothing
but splatter and bird call.
Everyone else was inside,
feeding children, talking about the day’s
just concluded business, tvs and computers
keeping their spirits bone brittle dry.
We walked, held hands,
watched birds strut through wet grass
and fireflies punctuate the evening mist
with the language of flicker and pulse.
We looked for puddles.
Cursed the draining prowess of the cul de sac,
traced each tiny rivulet until we found one, small, proud
puddle along the side of the street.
And we, in blue dress pants and leather loafer,
in yoga pants and tennis shoes,
Alexis Rueal has been in the Columbus poetry scene since 2011. Her work has appeared in many online and print publications, and she has performed at festivals including the Columbus Arts Festival and Comfest. She was a member of the 2013 Writers’ Block National Poetry Slam team. When she isn’t writing or performing, she runs her own online business and enjoys time with her husband and pets.