Capstone: Chapter Two

A Dream 

by Conor Brown

I dreamt of nothing wrong last night.

I woke up happy but remembered I can’t really fly. 

You don’t exist until I escape from my life 

In the abyss of pictures only in my mind. 

I battle monsters but in reality, I can’t fight. 

I ruled the world but then I ran out of time. 

The light through my window reminds me it’s not quite. 

I believe in miracles until I get back my sight.


Progress Moves Us Forward 

by Dominic Diorio

The world is crumbling into pieces,

With that I’m okay.

What were we living for to begin with?

That, nobody can say.

 

When life was normal

We were all completely hollow.

We loved in vain,

So narcissistic and so shallow.

 

We shunned the magic of things

Both scientific and philosophic.

Because all we ever cared about

Was our status and our profit.

 

While wrapped up in petty nonsense,

Whether mundane or bizarre,

We used excessive cruelty and violence

Just to keep things the way they are.

 

So nature had to step in

With a vile method of her own

To render us completely useless

With an invisible unknown.

 

Now nature is empty,

I can see her healing while she can.

You know we’re in the wrong,

If she thrives in the absence of man.

 

We must heal if we are to ever

Rid ourselves of this sting.

We must learn to live as one

And to care for all the right things.

 

I think tragedy is humbling.

It teaches us the futility of clinging,

And that it’s better to let the old ways die

So that there may be a new beginning.


The Journey to be Free 

by Charles Fornier

Dirt roads, lead me home.

Take me far away,

Where we are free to roam

The countryside where I wish to stay.

 

The concrete jungle that surrounds me 

Is not where I want to be. 

Dirt roads lead me

To where I am truly free.

 

I want to see the stars at night

Not the man-made neon light.

I travel toward my family home

Beneath the sky’s everlasting dome.

 

Up and down the gravel hill,

Past the pure mountain streams.

Around the abandoned sawmill,

To where rays of sunlight beam.

 

Take me where the sky is a joyful blue

And the grass is an emerald green.

Where there are woods to hike through 

And down at the holler runs a clear stream.

 

The smell of sweetgum trees

And rose buds fill the air.

And I can hear the summer breeze.

As it blows through my hair.

 

Dirt roads take me where the birds soar.

Spreading their broad wings wide.

My prayers will be heard once more

As if I can fly high over the countryside.

 

Dirt roads, lead me like my Father,

Lead me like the man above.

Take me where the animals happily eat their fodder,

Take me to the place I love.

 

Carry me to where the sky and the land meet,

Where sweet grass lies beneath my feet.

Where time does not matter,

And happiness is not shattered.

 

The end of our dirt road

Is my eternal destiny

Where love is bestowed.

And I will live free.


In the memory of a friend

by Cormack Shenker

After the swift winds of death come and go

The sweet yesterday seems so long ago

The mem’ries we had seem so far away.

“Pray!” they say, as you are losing your hope.

“Why did this happen?” I cried, full of rage, 

“Nothing will fix this, I won’t get better.”

 

“Alas! Alas!” he says, “here comes the sun!

For the times of trouble may still haunt you…

But dive deep! Fly high! There’s still a great world

Waiting there patiently with open arms

Your times of despair are soon to be gone,

And the joys of life are soon to be found.”


Corvette 

by Nathan Adams

Red flash,

Loud noise ripping through the streets.

Red light.

Oh the beautiful lines and curves.

Greenlight,

It speeds ahead, everyone left in its dust

Never to be seen again.

Black streaks on the road only left.

The beast is just a memory now,

So powerful yet so elegant,

Never to be seen again.


Writing 

by Nathan Adams

Pen and Paper, 

Quill and Parchment,

Paint on a cave wall,

Always present. 

Never-ending.

Preserver of memories,

History bows to your will.

The root of all that is known.

Where would we be without you?

As I sit here jotting down my thoughts,

You are still so ever-present.

Keeper of past, but also future,

You truly determine our fate.


Man’s Best Friend 

by Trevor Anderson

Why is there so much hatred in the world?

Why can some people be so mean?

Why can we all not always have each other’s backs?

Why can humans not be more like dogs?

 

From our first day with them

To our last day together,

Dogs make our lives more enjoyable.

From greeting us at the door

With their tails shaking at 100 miles per hour,

To falling asleep in our laps,

Dogs just always seem to know what to do.

Why can humans not be more like dogs?

 

To dogs, every day is the best day ever,

And they are always happy to just be around us.

Days consist of belly rubs,

Long walks around the neighborhood,

And the best naps.

Why can humans not be more like dogs?

 

In the toughest of times

When the people around us seem to fall shot,

We can always count on our furry friends.

No matter what, 

They are always happy to stand by our sides.

Why can humans not be more like dogs?

 

From distracting us from the harshness of the real world

To posing for countless adorable videos and pictures,

Dogs just seem to know how to relieve all of our stress.

Why can humans not be more like dogs?

Dogs are our easiest hellos

And our hardest goodbyes. 

Dogs are so much more than pets;

They are man’s best friend.


My Words 

by Anthony Hailey

To draw, to sketch, to paint, to color,

Each is different from all of the others,

But I make pictures another way:

I paint my words across the page.

 

My words are runners, too fast to truly see.

My words are dancers–graceful, lovely.

They glide, they tumble, they twirl, they spin,

They’re short, they’re fat, they’re tall, they’re thin.

 

My words spill forward through my pen,

They think, and feel, and speak like a human.

I form in ink what I cannot say,

And paint my words across the page.


The Tire Swing 

by Anthony Hailey

There is an old tire swing in my neighbor’s backyard,

It hangs from the long, winding branches of a willow tree,

Suspended by the length of a dusty rope,

What was once reveling gives way to a desperate longing.

 

It wallows in solitude,

The screams of excitement echo through all of the emptiness,

Where my childhood nostalgia remains,

Where a big push sent me soaring into the air like a rocket,

And rushing back to earth.


Losing Control 

by Aidan Harvell

As we scroll and scroll,

Our minds wander through pages and pages.

And through what?

Mindless posts that slowly dim our thoughts 

From tiktok to instagram to snapchat

We are slowly losing control of our thoughts

Being forever influenced by pointless tweets.

 

But are we really losing control,

Or gaining perspective,

Or the viewpoints of others? 

Are we really being negatively influenced,

Or positively changed?

The knowledge of old and new at our fingertips

While the days of picking up a book or a newspaper are obsolete.

The new age of tech controls the world, 

Controlling our thoughts and actions, 

For years to come. 


Things that don’t close 

by Josh Hester

Restaurants are closed,

Schools are closed,

Countries have closed their walls.

You can’t see your friends,

You can’t leave your house,

You soon grow tired of roaming your halls.

While everything is shutting down

Some things remain around,

So when you get to feeling blue,

Let your head echo this sound

Banks remain opened,

Spring remains opened,

Sunshine remains opened,

Reading remains opened,

TV remains opened,

Singing remains opened,

Friendship remains opened,

Love remains opened,

Hope remains opened.


A Bird’s Eye View 

by Cade Johnson

The bird perched on my window sill.

It ruffled its feathers and stared at me.

A tilt of its head and a blink of its eye,

And just like that, it flew away.

Away it went from my window.

Above the trees, high in the sky,

The bird was guided by the wind.

It ran into friends and chirped with delight.

A moment later, and the flock formed a perfect V.

Over the lakes, the ponds, the streams,

Their reflections waved back.

The flock carried on,

Their wings supported by powerful air.

Hunger struck the flock and was led down to Earth.

By a large oak tree, the birds feast like kings.

Pluck of an unlucky grasshopper,

Pluck of a lonesome earthworm.

With satisfied stomachs, up the flock went.

Over the mountains, the hills, and the valleys.

Like trapeze artists, they dove, they flipped, they swooped,

Entertaining the animals below.

Above, the sun bathed the flock in golden rays,

Energizing the birds for the rest of their journey.

Nothing tethered them to the Earth.

“Lucky bird,” I said as I powered on my laptop for another school day. 


Secret Salutations 

by Paul Moellers

Waves of steam hissing above a pond,

Droplets of dew bound to every blade of grass,

The gentle chirp of crickets,

The silent pop of a fish’s bubble,

The unheard splash of a finicky frog,

The hungry cry of a newborn bird,

The forest watching from every direction,

All are welcome.


Can Ducks Cry 

by Jack O’Connor

​A lot has happened in the past few days, and I don’t think it’ll do much justice if I don’t tell the story from where it started. It started a few years ago. My mother, my sister, and me… and I is what I meant, we built a little cabin behind our house for any visitors our little town got. It took a while summer to build and we made sure to secure it from any kind of bad folk. You know how there are quite a lot of bad folks in these areas. Just to name a few in case you didn’t know, there’s Farmer Ox, rumor has it he loves newlyweds but it’s just a rumor, there’s that ratman whatshisface anyways it’s the guy with a bunch of friends who hate new people, and there’s others but I can’t seem to recollect.

​Anyways, we built the cabin and protected it from the bad folk, we secured the windows, we made sure the floorboards were nice and flush, and we even made sure the door was locked nice and tight. At least we thought we did, but I’m getting ahead of myself. To our surprise, not too long after we finished, these newlyweds rushed into town seeking work and a place to stay. We offered our place and they accepted. The woman had this beautiful brunette hair that shined in the sun and she wore this cute blue dress too. I think it might’ve been linen… no maybe cotton.. actually I don’t know. The man had brunette hair as well, but when it was in the sun it seemed to almost radiate the sun and all of its golden rays. He didn’t seem to wear anything special but he sure was protective. 

They settled in nicely and we offered to cook and clean the cabin for them for the first few years while they found work. We almost always gave them this dry food we found in this burlap sack in town one day, they seemed to like it. We sometimes gave them kale, and they liked it just the same if not more than the sack food. 

​Their cabin was always a mess and they seemed to always make a mess of the water. We still cleaned it as we liked the couple and we hoped they would stay and maybe help us in the future. Of course, it’s kind of hard for them to do that now, but aw dang it, I keep getting ahead of myself.

​The longer they stayed there, the more we grew worried something might happen. They were quite loud at night and the man didn’t seem to like others. He was very defensive of his lover, and they sure made a lot of racket at night. I don’t know what they were doing, but mother said we might get to know later.

​We eventually just forgot to worry and we thought we had fully protected their cabin. And, then we were disproven. 

​One day, we didn’t hear any commotion. Nothing, not a single sound. The neighbors didn’t seem to notice, but we did. We checked and mother immediately knew something was wrong. We walked into the cabin, the door was misaligned and the windows were pried open. We couldn’t tell who had gotten in, Ox or maybe the ratman and his friends. We just didn’t know. When we reached the bathroom, you would’ve thought someone had died. I mean someone did, but I can remember everyone’s reactions and expressions as if it could be happening this second.

​The door swung open. Mother first saw the man, he lay on the floor face down, gashes all over him. We tried to see if there was any life left in him, maybe he could say a word, but his body was limp and his eyes just wouldn’t open. I remember how my sister told everyone to be quiet. We all shushed ourselves and we heard a soft muttering. We turned around to the clawfoot tub and the woman sat in the clawfoot tub. She also had gashes but for some reason, the attacker left her alive. The bathtub was full to the brim with water, maybe the attacker didn’t like water. She was still badly hurt nonetheless. She had gashes in her neck, her brunette hair was completely sopping wet with the blood. Also, her left eyelid was ripped or torn, but it filled her eye with the deep red that was flowing from the cut. 

​Mother immediately said, “He took the brunt of the attack for her.”

​It appeared as if she was right. I mean we had no proof, but he had quite a lot of cuts and gashes. 

​We started trying to clean up and we had gotten some of the burlap sacks that their food came in. Mother embroiled the man’s name into the sacks and we put his body inside. We buried him that day not very far from the cabin.

​As for the woman, we found out that she was muttering some phrase about ducks and whether or not they could cry. She was crying profusely but her eyes seemed to be glazed by something. It was like she knew we were there, but she couldn’t tell what we were doing or what had happened. We soon took her inside our home.

​The young boy who usually stays upstairs had come downstairs for lunch. He saw that we had brought the woman inside and didn’t like it. He didn’t know what was going on and then started to yell at the woman and told her to get out of his home even though he was as much a guest as she was. 

​My sister then shouted at the boy, “No! Don’t you dare be rude. Her hubby just died.”

​Right then he grew silent and went back upstairs. We cleaned her up and helped her get settled in our home for the next few weeks or months. However long it would take for her to get better and to feel better.

(Few Months/Weeks Later…)

​I know it’s been a while since I talked about it, but she made a full recovery. The only thing that didn’t fully recover was her mental health. Anyways, she eventually started to live in the cabin again, but we started hearing cries at night. She would sometimes shout randomly. Someone in the house declared that it was because she was lonely. The best thing we could do according to them would be to put people in there with her. Everyone was confused, but they decided it was the only conclusion they knew would help.

​We soon got many different mannequins, different skin tones, hair colors, features. We filled the different areas of the cabin with the mannequins. Some in the kitchen, some in the bathroom, looking back it was pretty cruel of us to do but I think it worked in a way. I think she knew they weren’t real people but in a way, she felt at ease because the cries and the shouting stopped. She hasn’t left the house since we put the mannequins inside.

​We also fixed up the cabin before she moved back. We put concrete under the floorboards, put ten locks on the door, and we even sealed the windows shut. I don’t think anything will be getting in anytime soon. Anyways, glad I could talk to you stranger.

​“What were their names?” asked the stranger.

Oh, the man’s name was Victor and the woman’s name was Lydia. They were the cutest little couple. See you soon, I guess.

​The stranger started walking away. 

He thought to himself, “Why would she be muttering such weird things? Why would they bury him that way? Why would they have put mannequins with her?” 

He had no idea the answers to any of these questions. He didn’t think he wanted the answers anyway.


The Screens 

by Matthew Polk

When going outside became illegal, it blindsided everybody. No more nature walks, dog strolls, or even just getting a breath of fresh air. The ridiculousness of the parameters set made the majority of the population furious. For what reason could nobody go outside? Only a select number of people were allowed to make outside trips at a given time, such as going to mandatory work, going to the hospitals, or just the grocery store. 

Even with these few allowances, the people were still required not to see anyone else in the store or even talk to anyone. The idea of a dystopia had finally become a reality again since the Great Depression. People were told to all buy computers and screens from which they were allowed their only solac: human interaction.

     ​Willingly the population obeyed because they weren’t the ones in control. Fairly soon, those same screens we thought were a luxury became a necessity to human life. Every morning began with time on one of the screens in order for the people to get their briefing for the day. It was, after all, a form of human interaction. The days seemed to be all mending together for the population, hours passed by like minutes. 

It was a depressing environment everywhere for a couple of months. Everybody already had too much screen time to begin with, but when the government sent out orders to enforce, everybody felt suppressed. It was always an option to go outside if wanted, but now it was not. The screens were used for all sorts of purposes. People would go the whole day without moving their eyes from them. Scientists had disclaimed before that too much screen time would mess up sleep schedules. However, one can’t mess up a sleep schedule if they don’t have one to begin with. Waking up in the morning to do virtual work turned into a habit. After work was over, they would just switch applications to entertain themselves, until eventually they just fell asleep. There would be no more variance with people anymore. 

One day, the government announced it would be a week until people were allowed outside again. By this point, all people had done was sit in their homes and be entrapped by those screens. An itch began in everyone who had forgotten what this “outside world” looked like. With a day left, that itch became an undying rash that could not be satisfied. So, finally, when the announcement had been given for people to be able to go outside, they realized it had been something completely different than when they had left. The parks were so much nicer, rivers were cleaner, even the ponds had less guck in them. The environment had healed to a more natural state, and with the people being so tired of the screens, they vowed to take care of this environment more so than before. Conservation took on a whole new meaning, and for everybody to be outside; it was a miracle. A long-lasting effect would turn out to be, that not everyone would use their screens as often as they once did.


Pain 

by Rosh Ranaraja

The pain seethes and recedes,

Like a greeting from the ocean,

I never knew such pain,

the debilitating potion.


Loneliness 

by Rosh Ranaraja

It’s dark,

I’m with people,

yet it’s still dark.

In a crowd of strangers,

talking, laughing, singing,

yet I’m utterly alone.


Therapy 

by Rosh Ranaraja

I always hate to be revealing,

So I write about my feelings,

All my life I feel uncertain.

I feel that nothing’s working,

when emotions boil over,

simply write to keep composure.


Life is a Marathon 

by Rosh Ranaraja

You are strong and you will fight.

Be the champion of yourself,

For you deserve nothing but the best.

Start living today and leave the past behind.

Even if living is hard,

You’ll survive and you’ll remember,

How you’ve fought and not how it hurts.


The Bookcase 

by Caleb Shaw

Triple K lumber outside Huntsville,

Planted me with the hope that,

I would become great. 

That would be the life.

Great, like a broom handle,

That I could help,

Sweep the saw-dust floors of taverns,

Where boozers drank away.

That would be the life.

 

Great, like a cabinet,

That a TV could Be placed on,

To entertain the recliner-bound dad,

And put smiles on the faces of people.

That would be the life.

 

Great, maybe I would be sent overseas,

To Monsieur Binet’s lathe,

And be made napkin rings.

That would be the life. 

 

Then one day the men brought machines,

With teeth on circles,

And cut me down. 

Split Me. 

Sold me. 

That would be the life. 

 

Then propped up in a store,

With others turned to boards,

A young boy with bright eyes inspected.

That would be the life. 

 

The bright-eyed bought and loaded. 

Unloaded.

Scraped till I was smooth.

That would be the life. 

 

Put a coat on me

That would highlight my grain and my strength.

Screwed and screwed-up.

That would be the life. 

 

Filled and scraped some more.

What would I be, I could only hope,

For a TV or a broom.

That would be life.

 

Rather, I was placed with shelves,

And carried to a room,

Where books and ends found their place.

What is this life?

 

Boring books and ends?

What is the point of holding the weight

Of Twain and Faulkner?

What is this life?

 

Of Melville and Shakespeare?

Maybe even some Hugo or Tolstoy.

And truly I feel like a Dumas.

What is this life?

 

Is it worth Beowulf?

And Virginia Woolf?

Is it worth this misery?

What is this life?

 

But, the boy keeps adding and subtracting,

Different names and titles,

And he grows the more wiser.

What is this life?

 

And throughout his life I go with him, 

Different names and titles.

Different rooms with peculiar smells. 

What is this life?

 

And I’m added with this guy named Eliot

Who writes of oyster shells.

Partners they come and go

What is this life?

 

Until finally, I see no more

Of the Boy. Though Platth did not

Get to him.

What is this life?

 

Until a younger, smaller,

Like-version of the boy,

A little girl, and another boy,

What is this life?

 

Pile onto me their weights,

And titles. Like Suess or Rowling.

And they grow and add an old friend of Twain,

What is this life?

 

And all the more,

Though several little people I have seen, 

I understand now,

What is this life?

 

Aye they grow wiser,

And gentler to their people form,

The things they’ve learned from me,

Yes, this is the life. 

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