Capstone: Chapter One

Vol. 1
​by Carson McKay
I remember one thing from preschool.
Just one thing.
I remember that adrenaline pumping,
Velcro shoe stomping,
Four-year-old heart thumping feeling—
As I ran from someone,
On the playground—
In a high-speed pursuit chase,
In the game of tag.
But that feeling died,
Along with our class fish,
When I turned six.
And moved to big kid school—
With my Lightning McQueen lunch box.
Why can’t I find that feeling anywhere?
How can something be there,
But not BE there?
I remember three things from elementary school.
I remember the difficulty of there, their, and they’re, And I remember how—
Your best friend won’t always be around.
And the day he leaves isn’t an easy one.
Life seemed to crumble in my hands.
The same way a puzzle skydives to the floor.
No matter how many pieces I picked up,
There were always a few missing.
Elementary school taught me the difference—
Between losing a baseball game,
And a loss.
See, in baseball I could always practice.
I could go back and try again—
And hope the next time is better.
But no matter how many times you knock
On a dead man’s door with the hope that somehow your favorite person in the world isn’t
gone—
And no matter how many times a nine-yea- old
Tells God he’ll do anything to get him back,
God doesn’t bring him back,
And after I saw his dead body,
I prayed for that four-year-old,
Heart thumping, run-around feeling,
But it would not,

Come.
Back.
I remember six things from junior high.
I learned that kids will dig up dust–
On any kid,
Just to hurl it at them like an avalanche.
Junior high taught me to be insecure.
Junior high taught me to bury my feelings deep inside–and put on a smile.
It stole my confidence and placed it on a shelf.
A shelf too tall for a prepubescent boy,
To reach.
It taught me to be intimidated and scared of certain kids.
I lived in a world in which my only desire was to fit in.
And when that didn’t happen,
I wished my feet would shrink back to fit my Velcro shoes.
I wanted to run that playground race I never lose,
Just to feel like I was good at something.
And now,
I’m learning so much in high school,
I grew a little taller and jumped a little higher,
And I snatched my confidence from that menacing shelf.
I found who I was by searching in a hole in the ground, under six feet of hopelessness.
And I dug myself out,
Abandoned myself doubt,
And burned the ropes that once held me down.
And then, I walked away.
I found the person I could be.
On a blank sheet of paper,
A sheet that waited fourteen and a half years
For me to give it a chance.
I learned more about who I was from a sheet of paper…
A SHEET OF PAPER… Than I have ever learned before.
It was something I ignored-
Behind a closed door.
Something that made me… well… myself. And the self that I am is one—
I never thought I’d be—
And it’s one that six-year-old me
Never could’ve seen
Even climbing a tall tree.
But it’s who I am,
All thanks to a sheet of paper.
And in my pen and my paper, I found something greater.

Something that immortalizes A human’s nature:
And his thoughts… and his feelings… and his dreams. That playground run-around feeling
Is something I never thought I’d get back,
But I was proved wrong,
When I closed the cover—
To a two-hundred page stack of passages and poems,
With my heart printed on them—
And that was only volume one.
And then, I walked away.
I found the person I could be.
On a blank sheet of paper,
A sheet that waited fourteen and a half years
For me to give it a chance.
I learned more about who I was from a sheet of paper…
A SHEET OF PAPER… Than I have ever learned before.
It was something I ignored-
Behind a closed door.
Something that made me… well… myself. And the self that I am is one—
I never thought I’d be—
And it’s one that six-year-old me
Never could’ve seen
Even climbing a tall tree.
But it’s who I am,
All thanks to a sheet of paper.
And in my pen and my paper, I found something greater.
Something that immortalizes A human’s nature:
And his thoughts… and his feelings… and his dreams. That playground run-around feeling
Is something I never thought I’d get back,
But I was proved wrong,
When I closed the cover—
To a two-hundred-page stack of passages and poems,
With my heart printed on them—
And that was only volume one.


Photo Album
by Chad Greenway
Grandma dragged it out
From the long-forgotten depths of the attic,
One afternoon in June, July, or maybe August.
I had found my place on the veranda,
Watching the young-ins play, fight, or something in the middle.
The oncoming storm was betrayed by its scouts, who reflected
The strawberry-banana sunset into my eyes.

Hands, as withered as the yellow pages,
Laid the time-capsule in my lap as one would handle a bomb
Or offer a sacrifice.
The cover demanded care,
Which my hands gave without protest.
As they turned the pages, time sped up.
My life flashed before my eyes as I fell.
Except it wasn’t my life, and I wasn’t falling.
Images of my father and kin,
Strewn out like seeds in the garden.
Each image held secrets and stories,
Protected by unspoken pacts,
And left my imagination to fill in the gaps.
She did not speak,
Yet delivered the message.
The treacherous waters that sometimes separate us,
He and his father faced before.
The book was a peace treaty, even if just one army saw it,
And exposed the likeness of lives I thought so different.
A glowing beacon of hope in the otherwise retreating light,
Reminded me, whether I like it or not,
We did share
Feelings, friends, parties—
A childhood.


The Hunter’s Epiphany
by Gabriel Van Horn
He awoke at 4:30 in the morning.
He grabbed his gear and started walking
Heading toward the woods showing no fear.
He was strolling through the woods to get a deer.
The hunter got to his stand and waited
For the buck of his lifetime to come out of the brush.
He heard some ruffling from afar
So he quietly stood up and waited patiently.
He grabbed his bow and put an arrow in it

Just to realize it was a baby doe.
So he stayed where he was standing calmly,
And the buck of his dreams comes out of the brush.
He gets ready and pulls back his bow.
He is about to let go when he realized the buck was protecting the baby doe.
The fawn had no mother,
She had been hunted and tracked down earlier.
The hunter who never felt this way
Had laid down his bow and watched them trot away.
Deep in the woods it reminded him of the beauty of life.
He then had an epiphany that hunting wasn’t only to get meat
But to appreciate the animal who provided the meat.
And realized other lives have meaning,
And that meaning runs deeply through the souls of life.


“Consequences of a Lonely Conscience”
by Adam Lorio
A sparrow calls in the distance. I always hear the sparrow at this time in the day, but
never have I been close enough to see one. What I would do to see that very sparrow at this
moment! It is on days like these–warm, bright, a call of hope in the distance–that I must be
sharper than ever. I must not become relaxed in the false security that warmth brings. It has
been four years since I lost my family, and four years that I have been isolated in this wood.
I know it is a Wednesday, and I know it is spring. I know little else about things irrelevant
to survival. I always loved spring, but here in this forest spring is extraordinary. The blossoms
transform the trees into a flurry of white. It reminds me of winter. Winter has always terrified me,
especially here where it is so lonesome, so cold, and always it has been so unknown. At least it
is peaceful, but truly living, truly experiencing life with its joys, depressions, fears, and resilience,
is greater than peace.
​My thoughts are interrupted by the snap of a twig. It was not a deer, not a bear, surely
not any type of animal. Am I alone? Is there another man in this isolated place? Yes, surely yes.
It is not maybe a simpler expression like “even slightly” whatsoever cold, but I begin to shiver. I
sense there is a breath much stiller than my own. Surely there is another man, but with what
intent? Surely he is here to kill, to kill me. Surely. I take cover in a bush. I stare out into the open
space in search of my unknown assailant. The trees tremble. I sit for what feels like hours.
Perhaps it was.
The thought of my family tries to surge into my brain. I push it away–a necessary skill
that I have mastered in these past four years. But still, the fateful freezing night four years ago
forces its way into my brain, giving me such a sharp amount of pain that I scream into the trees.
No! Why would I shout? I’ve certainly given away my position now. I am too angry. Angry with
myself. Anger clouds judgment, and keen judgment is survival. The anger resonates within me,
burning with such a passion that I have no choice but to scream again. And again. Through my
fit, I realize the compromise which I am bringing on myself. I let the adrenaline take over my
body, as I dive into the brook that silently whistles through the wood.

I stay underwater for at least two minutes. At last I give myself the liberty to breathe
fresh air, and I gasp as I burst out of the slow-moving stream. The sun is blindingly bright, and it
glares on the white in the trees. I tell myself they are blossoms, but surely it is snow. Surely it
must be winter.


FIREWORKS
by Anthony Hailey
Explosive, yet beautiful things.
Industrial machines roll out thousands an hour,
But in a child’s mind,
The focus is on only one.
A moment of pure magic–
An experience that lasts long after the final sparks die.
A dance towards the heaven,
A world of imagination,
And a world of wonder.
Years from now,
When that child is grown,
And has problems of their own,
They will hear that familiar boom in the sky.
They will look up, and see
Fireworks:
Explosive, yet beautiful things.


Ode to my Golf Ball
by Jackson Gilbert
My golf ball starts its journey in a cardboard box.
Then from that box it enters the open world.
I place it on a tee all nice and pristine, without a scratch or ding,
The beautiful spherical shape and dimpled surface ready to take flight.
I take my swing, not knowing where it will end up.
It could be the fairway, creek, or stream, or next to the squirrel going up the tree.
Better yet, if I am a lucky man, it may find its home in the cup.
I repeat this some 72 times in the hope of not losing it,
Replacing it is just as bad for the ball as it is for me.
As I hit it with every degree, it hits the ground and then springs
Till its last final roll into the 18th hole, waiting for the next journey.


A Storm
by Cory Forester
A storm building on the sky’s view
Changing its brighter colored hew.
Dark and ominous, it invades
The sky of such playful shades.
Growing stronger and growing near
With a heavy foot, its beat you hear.
Everything shatters and rattles,
At once all is white, then all black.
Dark, it’s too Dark.


Six Feet Away
by Justin Echols
Six feet away.
Six feet away from those I love,
Six feet away from wonderful hugs,
Six feet away from making new friends,
Six feet away from people on the street,
Six feet away from seeing new things,
Six feet away from the birds in the trees,
Six feet away from those in pain,
Six feet away from going insane.


Shadow
by Walker Cunningham
A sunny Thursday afternoon,
It was late at the park.
My closest friend was longing, for
He was about to part.
When I would look over at him,
He would look back at me.
His figure was familiar,
But taller than a tree.
Darkness enveloped him and me,
He made off with sorrow.
I now traveled alone, looking
Forward to tomorrow.


Car Crash
by Walker Cunningham
Life is like a car crash,
Not a box of chocolates.
The going is smooth,
Then, abrupt stopping.


The Buck
by Walker Cunningham
The keen eyes glinted yellow,
The footsteps were soundless.
The antlers were rigid,
The torso was great.
The fur was graying from weariness and age.
The muscles had begun weakening.
The head was drooping,
The torso was sagging.
The buck lay down to rest,
Eternally.


Pawns
by Lucas Bozeman​​​​​​​
The good-hearted husband and father is put on death row,
While an unknown cretin ruins a family.
A mother becomes a widow; a son fatherless,
Both become burdened by battles they never saw.
Redcoats… friend or foe, all become the same.
Young Boys treated as men in a game of checkers.
Fighting Feuds for old men in powdered wigs,
Pushing for an intangible goal, Sisyphus.
The General looks at his army like Pyrrhus.
All is victory in this foolish game of chess,
so long as no knights are lost… only pawns.


Life
by Lucas Bozeman
A tide comes in.
Will it be a Typhoon or bring about calm waters?
Whatever it may be, it disrupts the affairs of fish,
It sweeps through the sea carrying sorrow with it.

A bigger wave behind an ever-reminding symbol
Of what it could have accomplished.
Finding solace in knowing every wave will be forgotten
Because, in the end, every wave breaches the shore.
The tide goes out.


Beyond
by Ben Floriani
Time is scary.
It cannot be touched, heard, tasted, seen, or smelled.
However, the effects of time can be found.
Trees become rotten and wither away,
Old civilizations crumble away to dust,
People age and die.
Time is everywhere.
It is infinite and has always existed.
Time has claimed the most lives in the universe.
Humans like to have control,
But time cannot be harnessed by anyone or anything.
It cannot be slowed, sped up, or stopped.
Time should be our greatest fear.
Our time will end someday.
What will it be like?
How will it feel?
We have no control over our own lives,
And that is the scariest truth.


Through Other’s Eyes
by Gavin Nowack
We were all made different,
This is our mark of pride.
I scream, I shout, I vent,
To see things from another’s side.
Eyes are windows through which we see,
This is the same with every and all.
But the different things we see
That causes our way to be,
Is what causes me to fall.
In thinking of the ways we were made,
We were all made from dust to which we’ll return.
But from this everlasting, loving, hating glade,

We became different, and back to which we will burn.
Through this life, we all have different strains,
And through these strains, we become distinct.
Our actions and thoughts may cause gains,
But they could also cause stresses and pains.
This causes me worry, and which I wish to extinct.
We are all very different,
So I wish to see through other’s eyes.
Help and best wishes, to others I have sent,
To help them get over their Pride.


Anxiety
by Gavin Nowack
Anxiety is an abstract idea,
But those who have had it can describe it easily.
Anxiety feels like you’re in a confined room,
With the pressure increasing, and the heat rising.
It sounds like intense orchestral music,
That slowly builds over time.
It tastes like a spoonful of hot sauce,
That heats up in your mouth.
It smells like a foul stench,
That increases as you try to move to a different spot.
And it looks like a frightening monster,
That hides in the shadows stalking you,
Watching your every move.


A Little Bit Off
by Gavin Nowack
Do you ever feel a little off?
Where throughout the day,
You make decisions a bit differently.
Do you ever feel a bit off?
Such as having no opinion on anything,

And everything feels bland.
Do you ever feel off?
Like you want to stay in bed,
And sleep till the next day.
I have felt off before.
But even though this has been true,
The next day is normally better.


Why is This Hard
by Gavin Nowack
Why is poetry difficult?
It shouldn’t be this hard.
A lot of people do it,
So why can’t I be a bard?
If poetry is so difficult,
Why are there so many songs?
If it is this hard,
Then why do others find it easy?
Poetry is so annoyingly hard,
Why do I even bother?
I am writing poetry,
Cause I can’t bother to write anything else.


The Gamer
by Parker Reinhart
Ever so young, ever so bright
The screen shining, the long night.


The Knowing Tree
by Collier Allison
On a sunny summer night, the fireflies are out, the mosquitoes are out, and everyone’s
outside having fun with their family and friends. In the woods the trees are swaying, and the
Knowing Tree keeps the fort down. The Knowing Tree is the tower tree that sees and hears
everything and keeps watch over his little trees. All the trees look up to The Knowing Tree and
follow him where he sways, and they howl like it does when the wind blows. Every night this is repeated and during the day, they are calm with their leaves glistening in the sun and shining like a ray of the sun through the clouds.

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