The Straw


Photograph by Tom Haynes

Dear Potential Date,

I will let you know how I feel at all times. I’m very up front. I’m attracted to naturally red, full lips. No lipstick, please. I also prefer real beauty. I’m very picky when it comes to looks. If you’re older than thirty, please don’t reply.

I’m not the kind to call back right away. If we have a good time, I’ll let you know, but I’m not into that whole clingy thing. My idea of a perfect date is hanging out in bars that serve Belgian beer in a glass. No bottles for me. If you’re too cheap to buy your own drinks, please, don’t respond to this ad.

I’m looking for a carefree type. Not the kind that’s going to hold me down. Not the kind that’s going to get mad every time I’m with another. I can’t be tied down right now. I prefer more of the Bohemian lifestyle.

In short, shoot me an email if you don’t suck. (I already do that well enough on my own)

– The Straw

The Plant



Photograph by Greer Oharah


I used to live underground. Disconnected from sunlight like a used up pre-paid cell phone. I tried to call out, but no one could hear me. I panicked. I stretched. I clawed my way out. When there was rain, I was pushed back. When there were beasts, I protested. When I sprouted, I kissed the sun. Forever warming to her love that I needed so badly and yet couldn’t help resent, I flooded her with questions.

“Where have you been?” I gasped. “You couldn’t find me in my darkest corner.”

“I always knew where you were,” the sun said. “I just couldn’t get to you.”

“But why?”

“Because,” said the sun. “You had to come to me.”



The flavors of memory are different for everyone. When I find something to be sweet, I also taste the salt. The sting lingers a little too long on the sides of my mouth, but I keep going over it. Again and again with my tongue, I try to find the original richness of the first bite. I will never have all the flavors again.

What I’m left with is something vaguely familiar and dreamy. A summer afternoon in Maine. The lake water is cold and when I jump in, an electrical current flows through my body. When I swim up to the surface, my eyelashes are heavy with the purity of fresh water. The sun hits each drop, warming my face and clearing my vision.  I can see the forest of pine trees and a handmade wooden dock that extends out to me.

On it lies my mother in her black and white striped one piece. My aunt is lying next to her. Together they look like the same person with their hair pulled back into high pony tails and the orange tanning oil glistening against their skin. “Prime Sunning Weather,” they call it. Together they read murder mystery paperbacks with bubbled letters that rise right out of the front cover. Adult books. Something I won’t get my hands on until much later.

“Mom!” I shout from the lake. “Mom! Let’s play the Questions game!”

It’s my favorite.

“If you had to write a book, what would the title be?” I call out to her, but she looks farther away than I know she is.

She stares far out into the lake and smiles slightly. My sisters are nowhere to be found. In a few years they will have relationships and homes of their own. They will no longer come to the lake. A few years after that, none of us will.

“Drifting away,” Mom says. I can feel the sting that I will taste years later.

The Curtains


My curtains are worn out, but they keep dancing. A full blooming yellow, they are optimistic.  Light and soft. Old, but alive.  I open my window and they breathe, expanding material outward. Their shadows scatter for the corners.  Gray is a wall flower that’s never painted on fabric.

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The Bus


The neon blue light of the bus tints the aisle, lighting up everyone’s face until they look like ghosts. I study the unmoving mouths of the passengers as they claim various blue and white plastic seats. No one talks much on the night line.

I watch as an old woman pushing a shopping cart sits in the seat across from me. She’s chewing something, but she never swallows. Her cheekbones are sharp and one eye is wandering across the left side of her vision. I can’t look at her. She’ll talk to me.

That’s what happens when you’re nice to people. If you smile, they sit next to you. If you nod when they talk, they’ll never stop. Headphones and long jackets. I want my hair to cover my face.

I look down at my hands. My fingernails are light blue to match my sweater. My mp3 player with the missing battery cover is jammed into one of my many coat pockets. From the look of the dangling white cord in front of me, I could have an ipod.  I’m not going to end up homeless, I keep chanting in the back of my head as I try not to look at the woman. Just because I don’t smile at her, doesn’t mean that this will someday happen to me.

The thoughts are drowned out by a rustling sound. I can feel a light warmth on the top of my scalp. I shake my head. The warmth grows. I can feel it clinging onto each strand as I try to shake the feeling. Immediately I turn to face the person behind me.

Eye crinkles and white hair. This man is just as old as the woman across from me. His eyes are dead and far off. I can smell alcohol on his breath. His hands are shaking and I can see strands of my hair wrapped around his little finger. They stick straight out in four static lines.

“Excuse me,” I look around the bus for anyone to help me. How could someone think this is okay? The woman with the lazy eye is staring in two different directions. One eye looks to the left. One eye is rummaging through her shopping cart. I am just as invisible as I never wanted to be.

Curling Iron

curling iron

The rigidity is hard to melt away. Cold. Brittle. I feel like she’ll snap without me. My heat, the warmth that comes over me, will curl over time. I wait for morning when she’ll reach for me. Needing me. Sharp, pointed, jagged and cut, I make her hard edges soft. When she looks in the mirror I know what her expectation is. Perfection. The kind of control that’s kept just under a flame. The kind I can not give her.