<![CDATA[Come on in. The water's fine. - Digital Papercut]]>Tue, 27 Jun 2017 22:01:30 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[1 in 4 Contest Winner:  Viviane Thomas]]>Mon, 04 Jan 2016 16:38:06 GMThttp://wordpoolpress.com/digital-papercut/1-in-4-contest-winnerOne in four Americans experiences mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). Sharing our stories around mental illness is empowering and helps break down the barriers of stigma.

Wordpool Press partnered with The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship to publish mental illness narratives. The judges were comprised of writers and editors who lived out of state and were not affiliated with
MCCSC schools.
Sound Mind

I woke to the sound of sequential shrieks. Shudders passed through my body as the ear piercing anger of my younger twelve year old sister filled my tired ears. I relaxed my tense body when I realized that this was nothing new. This was only a routine that would repeat itself over and over. I shut my eyes tight as her fists pummeled the door of her room just down stairs from mine. My thoughts wandered to what she could be capable of. I always thought that maybe it was anger; I refused to believe that she was mentally ill, and maybe that’s nothing that medication can fix. We turned to medication whenever we couldn’t understand what was going on with her, but she never changed.

I was adopted into a family of five kids.When my two sisters and I became part of the family, that made eight. The woman who gave birth to me and my two sisters, Joselyn and Page, was not able to be a mother; she didn’t want to. I was six when I was moved to a new home, along with my two younger sisters. Page was four, and Joselyn was two. I was the only one old enough to remember the life we had before we moved on; there was no way I would go back. I could only remember the few blurry moments that I was truly happy. She would be my mother when she was in a good mood or someone was watching; whenever she didn’t want to deal with me, she encouraged her drunken boyfriends to do her dirty work for her. I remember screaming,

“MOMMY. MOMMY!” as she would just watch me, sometimes laughing. The sickening part was this: I loved her anyways, and she would smile, claiming to love me back as she watched her daughters being beaten.

I watched the trees, imagining what our new home would look like. I imagined an apartment, considering the fact that apartments had been all I had lived in during my long six year old life. The blonde lady who was driving us, had told me about all the kids we would get to live with. I grew more excited as I imagined playing soccer in a green field, along with all the new friends I would be living with. My excitement gradually turned to fear when we arrived at the house I thought would had been an apartment. I gaped at this large castle that was a house. The Spacious back yard had looked to me like a park. Once I had met the family, it was overwhelming, yet so intriguing at the same time. 

. . .

Three hectic, and beautiful years came then went. We would visit our mom only to hear justifications and excuses for her actions, and that our new family was evil, and only wanted to “take us away”. I was had become smart enough by then to not fall for it that time. Unfortunately, my sisters had not caught on to her lies. We were adopted after we visited our mom for the the last time. Such a vast amount of things were happening, that I never noticed the change in my sisters before it was too late.

First came the tantrums. They were usually over small grievances such as not getting what was wanted for dinner. Oblivious, I concluded that it was normal; they were not only far from normal, they were violent. We ignored the behavior of Joselyn and Page, hoping that it would pass, but it never did. Then, the food games. They would refuse to eat. Finally we concluded that they had control issues and wanted attention, and giving them what they wanted would make it far worse. It just so turned out that, no matter what we did, it would always be far worse. It was a cycle. Once we thought maybe we could have some peace for a while, they corrupted it. More tantrums, more games. Finally, it was a routine that everyone in the family was used to by now. Nothing they did could affect us, until it got worse. I was not the only one who began to notice the bruises on Joselyn body; Acquaintances as school would notice. The dappled marks on her body were frightening. The farther the bruises were down her back, the more they would darken morph into ugly shapes. Our family was reported on more than one occasion for child abuse. Little did anyone understand that Joselyn had been injuring herself. The thought that someone would willingly hurt themselves made me sick to the stomach. Joselyn would throw herself down the stairs, scratch herself, anything to get attention from teachers and schoolmates. This cycle was spinning out of control.

. . .

Panic began to shoot through me when I realized that Joselyn was unresponsive. It was

another sweaty, summer day. We dialled 911 hoping for answers. Before I knew what was going on, paramedics showed. Worry was clouding my mind, as my sister, along with my mother, was whisked away with the ambulance. I waited the rest of the night for their return. I noticed my mom making several worried phone calls the next few days. The summer had just started, but it felt as though it were ending quickly. The situation worsened as we would be interviewed by Child Services. Somehow I felt that it was us against them, as though they had already assumed that we had been abused. Before every questioning, our mom would direct us to just tell the truth. So we did. They say the truth sets you free, but in this case, it only got us into more trouble. It turned out that my two sisters had sided against us, along with Child Services. Things slipped further from my fingers by then. Our lives were going downhill, and there was nothing I could do to stop them from crashing. 

The day it happened is still crystal in the darker depths of my mind. I was with one of my younger adopted sisters, Hannah. We were enjoying our break from all of the questioning on a summer day under the shade of the large, beautiful oak that canopied the grassy hill in our back yard. Curiosity and dread shook my body when I observed the same people from Child Service, who had been working with us, enter the backyard onto our patio along with our mom. I couldn’t help thinking about how much I didn’t want to answer questions as we were called down to the patio. I was blindsided by the look on my mom’s face. The information we were about to receive hit me like a ton of bricks. We were told to pack our stuff. We were leaving. Before I registered what I had just heard, Hannah, whom was just so happy with me five minutes before, was sobbing in my mother’s arms. I felt as though I were a ghost walking into the house trying to find what was going on. I was with Page beginning to pack my stuff.  I guessed she didn’t mean for her lies to go this far, as she began to cry. I cried with her as it all became surreal. 

Joselyn, Page, and I stayed with our grandma, as the rest of the family was separated from us, and sent to a couple of strangers. The weeks away were painful; It was as though the loving family I had been given, never existed. The apartment the four of us lived in was too quiet. The eery quiet screamed at you, driving you insane. I spent the nights in tears, trying to figure everything out.  

The time came where part of the family were reunited. All eight of us stayed with the foster parents, while our parents were at home, waiting desperately for our return. The vast interior of the house held adventure and things to do in every corner. Unfortunately, we were directed not to touch anything and find something quiet to do; usually this included watching the television all day to keep us out of their way, while they reaped the benefits, money, for foster caring us. I wanted to express my happiness in being one step closer to being reunited, but all I could do was sit and pretend to be paying attention to what was on the TV. Things got even tighter when our foster parents began to notice both of my sister’s bad behavior; They had even brought the cycle to another family’s home. We went through hell trying to get through the long months with only a few visits to see our parents. After a while, I wanted to throw a tantrum myself. We had spent the about half a year at the vast, depressing house, when finally a solution was found. We could come back home as long as our parents stayed somewhere else. Our uncle took on the job of caring for us, while our parents stayed in a worn tent at a cold camping site. I couldn’t even imagine the pain they must have felt. I loved staying with our uncle, but I was in dire need of a mother. I was growing older, soon to be a teenager, and I had no idea how to handle it. I hated only seeing our parents one or two times a week.  It was like it would never end, and our family was being torn apart by madness. 

. . .

We had somewhat become family once more. There was still plenty of healing to be done. Child Services, along with almost everyone else who had been involved, offered their apologies when they had realized what had been going on. I appreciated that finally someone understood, but I knew that they would never really understand, or feel the pain we felt. 

Not only Joselyn, but also Page, continued to hurt themselves and others, and try to make our lives miserable. Eventually, things began to get so violent and out of control, that they were sent to mental hospitals. I never believed that a mental hospital could possibly help. This proved true later when they would come home for a short amount of time; they would act up worse than ever, hoping to be sent back. As we took steps to move forward in trying to heal our family, more people who had gotten themselves involved in our lives began to realize what it was like to be us. 

I still believe that Joselyn and Page will heal one day. We will see them coming home for Christmas, and will hopefully be staying with us for a while.

Those who know this part of my story ask me why I didn’t turn out like my sisters or like my mom. I think it’s because I’ve chosen to forgive those around me, and even myself; it was a long journey of forgiveness, and still there’s more to go. Happiness and sound mind isn't something you had acquired when you were born, it is a choice that is to be learned. And, yes, I could very easily fall into the trap of hate and madness that my sisters had, but I worked to change my perspective, and most of all, I have hope.
<![CDATA[1 in 4 Contest Winner:  Sy Hutchison]]>Mon, 04 Jan 2016 16:34:23 GMThttp://wordpoolpress.com/digital-papercut/1-in-4-contest-winner-s-hutchisonOne in four Americans experiences mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). Sharing our stories around mental illness is empowering and helps break down the barriers of stigma.

Wordpool Press partnered with The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship to publish mental illness narratives. The judges were comprised of writers and editors who lived out of state and were not affiliated with
MCCSC schools.
The Monster Inside Me
Sometimes i feel like i’m stuck 
stuck between insanity and reality
i feel this rage inside of me
This grotesque Monster 
Mirroring the darkest fears of myself
Willing itself to come out

Sometimes i let it out

But when i do that people get hurt
People i care about
i become someone else
It’s like i’m pushed outside of myself
Sometimes i keep it in 
But it…
It forces itself out

Leaping out

and attacking the people closest to me
The worst part about it is
most of the time i don’t even know it’s happening
i don’t realize anything is wrong
People tell me 
and then…

i just get mad and angry at them all over again
People ask, “What's wrong with you Connie?”
i always reply, “Nothing. Nothing’s ever the matter with me.”
One little thing can enrage me
i can go on about that one thing for days
i may go     back     and 
forgiving and not forgiving 

it gets exhausting

Some days i just end up at battle with the Monster
wanting to give up on life 
just wanting everything to end
Sometimes i feel like life would be easier for other people
If i weren’t around any longer to cause them problems
If i were
If i were dead
If they didn’t have to worry about me

If they didn’t have to think, “Where’s Connie?”
“Is Connie in trouble again?”

Sometimes i do
but other times 
other times i don’t 

i don’t worry what people think
i don’t care what people think
i don’t care how they feel 
or what they say

And sometimes that’s what scares me most

my lack of feelings for others
the fact that i don’t care
but that’s just who i am
it’s how i was made 
It’s me…

Me and the Monster inside 
<![CDATA[1 in 4 Contest Winner:  Zoee Zelezny]]>Mon, 04 Jan 2016 16:30:23 GMThttp://wordpoolpress.com/digital-papercut/1-in-4-contest-winner-zoee-zeleznyOne in four Americans experiences mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). Sharing our stories around mental illness is empowering and helps break down the barriers of stigma.

Wordpool Press partnered with The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship to publish mental illness narratives. The judges were comprised of writers and editors who lived out of state and were not affiliated with
MCCSC schools.
A Day in the Life of

June 23rd

            Your hands are sweaty. You can’t move. You can’t think. It feels like you’re outside of your body, looking down at the situation. Everything feels weird, almost like you can’t wrap your mind around anything. Nothing makes sense. You can't stand up, you can't speak. Stay on the floor. It’s the safest place. All you feel is an intense amount of pain all over, like something is morphing you into a tiny ball. Your hands feel cold, but they are sweating. Isn’t your chest tightening? Isn’t it hard for you to breathe? You need to focus. Focus on the collective mumbles of the people around you. Try not to pay any mind to the dizziness and emptiness spreading from the center of your chest to the tip of your fingers. The world is still moving around you, though you feel like you are frozen in time. You start to notice the bumps on the ceiling. You notice that the wallpaper on the wall you are facing is starting to peel, so you pick and pick and pick until the purple paint has a been replaced with the dark blue underneath.

September 10th

            You’re on your way to your least favorite class. It’s not because you don’t understand it, or the content is hard. It’s a much different reason. You cannot stand the colors in the room. They are extremely bright, and both the ceiling lights are always on. It gives you headaches, and makes you extremely anxious. Every time you see the projector screen down, an overwhelming fear of dread passes through your body. When you see the projector, you know there’s about to be a dreadful lesson, where everyone talks at once. When everyone talks at once, you feel like your body is being attacked, and you cannot breathe. It arouses an anxious breakdown. The only way for you to calm yourself is to let out incoherent noises and a nervous jolt.

October 29th

you laugh
you finish your worksheet
you are taking notes
you are attentive and you are present
please just teach the class

November 26th

            You’re at a friend’s house, and you haven’t been able to take a shower in two days. You take at least two showers a day, and it’s almost as if you can feel everyone and everything you have came in contact with, just sticking to you. You can feel the body heat from every hug, the sweat from every handshake, the germs from every countertop. You’re offered a shower, of course. You want nothing more than to shower. You need to get downstairs to that shower. But you can’t. You feel paralyzed, so you sit on the ground, covered in blankets. Your breath becomes shallow, like you’re gasping for air. You just needed to shower. You start crying, and your friend squeezes you tightly and tries to calm you down. They are unaware as to why you are freaking out over an everyday task. You don’t want to shower because his family is down stairs and you don’t want to them to hear the shower. You feel restricted. You cry until you are sweaty and weak, and then fall right asleep before ever taking a step closer to the bathroom door.

December 15th

            It’s a free day, so you’re watching a movie with the class. It’s hard to concentrate. You can hear whispering and laughing; it’s like it’s directly in your ear. How can you focus on a movie when it’s like a hundred little whispers are in your ear? It’s very hard for you. It’s already hard enough for you to stay focused on the movie because it’s from an overhead projector. You can hear people behind you whispering. You mumble, “I can’t believe the teachers are allowing it to be so loud in here while a movie is going on.” The person sitting next to you overhears and replies, “I can’t even hear anything but the movie.” But you can hear conversations from all the way across the room. It’s like the whispers progressively get louder and it turns to the point where you can’t sit still. It feels like spiders are crawling up your legs. It’s almost a tickling sensation. You have to sit and stand and stand and sit, in order for you to feel better. You can no longer hear the movie, you’re just focusing on the whispering and constant comments. You’re almost on the verge of tears, and the only way out is to ask to use the restroom.
<![CDATA[1 in 4 Contest Winner:  Carlie Asher]]>Mon, 04 Jan 2016 16:21:09 GMThttp://wordpoolpress.com/digital-papercut/1-in-4-contest-winner-carlie-asherOne in four Americans experiences mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI). Sharing our stories around mental illness is empowering and helps break down the barriers of stigma.

Wordpool Press partnered with The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship to publish mental illness narratives. The judges were comprised of writers and editors who lived out of state and were not affiliated with
MCCSC schools.
Schizo Scenery
Dull gray outside, pale white inside
That instant death-like smell that happens
Right off Kirkwood, as you pull in the driveway
Behind the colorful houses that distract you
From the dirty gray behind them.

Big Red liquor bottles leaking onto the floor
That stench along with the week old fast food
Rotting on the floor, forgotten about
Those two things together create the most distinct smell
And it forces its way into your lungs.

Shouting neighbors
Yelling about God knows what
The old man cuddling the floor
Next to the two baseball bats on each side of the door
“He’s not supposed to be here”
A bird stealing someone else’s nest
A worse built one
Made out of straw and not sticks
Everyone knows that sticks are better
So why is he here?

Stop Faking

Stupid snitches
I don’t need stitches.
Calm down.
There is no need for that…
No, I’m not apologizing
This is all on you
Best Friends

The office was so rude
And the lady was cold.
And my ‘mother’
Any history of mental illness in the family?
He practically lived here for months.
Stop trying to erase the past

This is dumb
I am done
You can’t ‘fix’ something that’s not broken
And I am not broken
<![CDATA[Silence by Colleen Wells]]>Fri, 17 Jul 2015 04:23:01 GMThttp://wordpoolpress.com/digital-papercut/silenceSilence by Colleen Wells

My sister Meghan, who has endured invasive in-vitro fertilization, is waiting to hear if she is pregnant. Tammy, who cleans our house twice a month, awaits news about a tumor on her colon—whether it is malignant or benign.  Susan, my best friend, has a father-in-law who lost his twin brother to cancer this week. The daughter of a neighbor I recently met has died from complications of a rare lung disease. In addition to a grieving mother, she leaves behind a husband, a sister, and two daughters.

            The preciousness of life has gotten my attention.

            While I am not terminally ill, I am mentally ill. I hate those two words put together, but technically, I am those words. I have bipolar disorder and anxiety. My current symptoms include fatigue, a lack of motivation, and negative thinking. I am also worrying about performing well in the composition class I’m scheduled to begin teaching soon. Students want to be inspired, not taught by a corpse.

            I know these symptoms and thoughts will subside. They always do. But I can’t help wondering how much time is wasted while feeling this way. Life is short. The twin left without his other half, and my neighbor who has lost a daughter will probably always wish they had had more time with their loved ones.

            That is why I must fight to get out of this darkness.

            I sit on our screened porch at the end of our wooden table where the sun currently shines around me like a shroud. There is a pile of work to do on my class in front of me. I rest my head on top of a book and close my eyes but the depression stays with me whether they are open or closed.

            My bipolar illness surfaced at age eighteen when I was hospitalized for severe depression. During this time I also exhibited mania. Like a loud, tacky hat, mania commands attention and can be equally devastating.  I was in and out of the hospital over a period of several months before my diagnosis was rendered. Since then I’ve been in two other hospitals—one for a short stay, and another where I was for much longer. Those are days, weeks, and months I will never get back.                 

            A college student in our town named Lauren Spierer disappeared this summer on her way home from the bars. It was reported she was only about a block away from her apartment when she vanished. Rumors swelled about friends of Lauren knowing something of her demise, something to do with drugs.

            In a letter from Lauren’s parents on a website they created, her mom and dad talk about the silence of not knowing what happened to their daughter:

            “But, alas, there is deafening silence. That silence compounds our frustration, our desperation, and our grief in not having found Lauren. It threatens to be our undoing but make no mistake, we will never give up.”

            There is silence in depression, a sense of not knowing when it will let up. If it were physical, it would be like a dull, throbbing, pain.

            My sister says there is a silence in her womb.

            “I would think I could feel more if there were something going on down there,” she laments.

            There must have been a hush of silence the moment when Tammy discovered she had a tumor, or at the burial where a twin lowered his beloved brother into the ground. There is a quiet hurt in the eyes of children who’ve lost their mothers.

            In the hospitals where I’ve stayed, it was quietest at night between the swishes of the door opening when a nurse checked on me at regular intervals.                   

            Nearly two months have passed, and my sister is now pregnant. She can feel the stirring of life within her. Tammy has had surgery to remove a benign tumor. My best-friend’s father-in-law’s own health deteriorates in the absence of his twin. On a walk I see the mother who lost her daughter to the lingering lung-disease. I hug her as she quietly wipes away tears. The recent searches for Lauren in nearby landfills have turned up nothing. My depression is minimally better. I must keep doing simple things I enjoy: walking, sitting in the sun, sipping herbal tea, even though they seem like chores to me now.

When my sadness does go away completely, I will not recall how bad I felt over these long days of summer.  Mania has the opposite effect, leaving memories of inappropriate behavior etched in my mind forever.

In the wake of life’s dramas, death, loss, and grief, I pray for the heavy blanket to be fully lifted. I am somewhere underneath it, waiting.

Colleen Wells writes from Bloomington, Indiana where she lives with her family including several pets. She lives in chaos and is working on simplifying, but the continuous thread throughout her life, the one that saves her, is writing. Her work has appeared in several magazines, literary magazines and e-zines.  Colleen’s memoir, Dinner With Doppelgangers – A True Story of Madness and Recovery, was published by Wordpool Press in April 2015. It is available through Wordpoolpress.com and Amazon.com

<![CDATA[Volume 1 Issue 3 Index]]>Mon, 02 Feb 2015 03:55:10 GMThttp://wordpoolpress.com/digital-papercut/volume-1-issue-3-index


Short Stories



<![CDATA[Blue in Green by Erren Geraud Kelly]]>Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:07:00 GMThttp://wordpoolpress.com/digital-papercut/blue-in-green-by-erren-geraud-kelly after the composition by Bill Evans

Blue in green is summer in New England
When fall leaves don’t show their face
Your walk along the beach at Martha’s Vineyard
Is a piano talking
You touch my hand the way a pianist
Tickles the keys
And a fire begins
Your hair blows like blues in the
I decipher your talk like a piano’s
Even from a world away
I can hear you talking like a
Piano across the
Blue into Green into Blues
Like a shaman, revealing
Erren Geraud Kelly's work currently appears in over 150 publications in print and online, in the United States and abroad, in such publications as convergence; The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society; Red Booth Review; Eye On Life; The Eclectic Muse; The Magnolia Review; and others. Kelly is also the author of the chapbook, Disturbing the Peace. Kelly received his BA in English—creative writing from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Digital Papercut VOLUME 1 ISSUE 3
<![CDATA[Rustling Leaves by Bill De Herder]]>Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:06:11 GMThttp://wordpoolpress.com/digital-papercut/rustling-leaves-by-bill-de-herder I can still hear the faint dribble of a hopeless long-winded sigh, yawning from some dark brain matter in my skull. My skull is in fact an echo-chamber for such things these days, and as a heavy truth rolls in my direction, I find it difficult to reconnoiter the strength to hold fast, roll up the sails, and tether the jib for the impending storm. I feel weak to the tides of nature.

On one mid-summer day, we found a young sapling, a sister, cut down in the summer of her life, shortened, mid-sprout in the prime of growing season.

Some several months after my sister’s interment, the sun hung low in the unforgiving sky. The air so cool and clear, one could see straight up into heaven, had it been there. At the day’s brightest hour, cold kept close company to my father and me as we worked.

I had a sick feeling in my stomach, but then again we both did. The bubbling puke kept at bay as long as you kept moving, kept working. If you’re busy enough, you forget anything.
He had gotten most of the way through the limb, my father, I mean. The oil dripped from the teeth of the chainsaw. The rattlesnake spreading its venom as it jabbered and chewed, hacking and spewing tree guts and oaken innards. The sawdust perfumed and billowed, suspended ghoulishly in the air by some non-existent force.

I fed him a line, and he tied it around the bulk of the old oak while balancing on the top rung of our tallest ladder. The opposite end I fastened onto the trailer hitch of the truck some hundred feet away. The rope was drawn taut, and it twanged at my finger’s touch.

The tree had passed away. Its branches crimped in rigor mortis. Its discarded leaves rustling like tolling bells of clamorous death. A towering arm twisted painfully upward, reaching for the unknown.

The great oak had spent its life trying to be different, made the decision early on to grow apart from the rest. It was alone in a sparsely grassed field. It was a stupid tree, a forest flourished only a few feet in any other direction. But it had picked the ground less fertile for the sprouting. I try to tell myself that not everyone chooses where to sow, not everyone is possessed of the freedom with which to avoid these matters. But all the same, it was a stupid tree.

Once down from the ladder, he stands by the truck. My father gives not so much as a harsh word to the rope, as if a harsh word would topple the giant all itself. Still, his body mounting the hitch, his hand finding the tailgate as a brace, he struggles to keep the cord under his foot, pressing more harshly after every failed attempt to snap the oak’s granite ego.

The rope flexes. The oak jiggles right down to its squatting, bloated origins. Thrashing out in defiance, the oak creaks and moans against the familial violence. The behemoth roars in terror. It cracks and crumbles. Limbs clawing out toward us. They crush the dirt below, exploding and pulverizing on impact. The dying flail of a monster being dragged back under the bed.

The battle is over, and my father climbs down off the truck. Man’s place is against nature. My stomach squirms.

We hurry to the corpse, gathering splinters of flesh in our arms and carrying them to the bonfire pit. We begin a pile for the burning. We ferry the chunks of wood by the armload, ping-ponging in our natural duty.

I begin to sweat; the burbling stomach pain subsides once more. It occurs to me that I am getting exercise, maybe getting stronger. But I tell myself, no. We never get stronger. We just forget how weak we are, every once in a while something comes along to remind us.

Quickly, the pit is filled to the gills with the dismemberment of what once was. It is truly a bonfire, a bone fire, a funeral pyre.

It is man’s place to be against nature. As this warped, manic depressive oak grew twisted against us, we worked against it. And now we have a pile.

We will burn it to ash because it is dead. We will cremate the old oak, but not bury it after. We will not dig a hole as we had some months before…for my sister.
Bill De Herder is a writer and freelance editor. He holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from Central Michigan University. He is the author of the writing guide Creative Wordsmithing: The Tools of the Creative Writing Trade and The Omega Principle (forthcoming from Wordpool Press).
Digital Papercut VOLUME 1 ISSUE 3
<![CDATA[Snow's Wake by Lana Bella]]>Wed, 28 Jan 2015 05:04:07 GMThttp://wordpoolpress.com/digital-papercut/snows-wake-by-lana-bella The biting chill of mid-winter had marooned a heaviness on this gathering universe and rhythmically turned it into an evening of restless ghosts. The air was frosty and carried that callous bite of rawness in it when the wind rose and picked up with it a stagnant cold. The crisp scent of moist snow-fused pines surged upward and drifted over from the neighboring grounds, made aglow by the brilliant gold of the moon; their shadows stood boldly behind in sharp, tapering silhouettes, gave way to the impression that a silent army hovered perpetually, and ever so in stealth silence, kept armed. 

After a steep climb from beneath a deep depression away at the inlet of the cavern, I lingered there, under the lined overgrowth, buried ankle-deep within what seemed like a mountain of virgin white. My left index finger cautiously stretched toward the edge of a jutting limb, poising just above the chalky tips, toying with the tiny droplets of the dew upon the bed of irregular shaped snowflakes. Then out of the thin air with speed at full tilt, a burst of red-tailed hawks and sooty ravens swooped downward from some aloft hanging branches, leaving a great flurry of pale silver in their wake. The discarded crystals scattered all around, buffeted by the wind, spun side to side as they tumbled, then at once, sank to the drenched terrain throughout.

For a moment, everything was silent. I stood there heedlessly caved-in, conspicuously lost as to seem utterly posed, deeply unnerved by the otherworldly ambiance. With a large gulp of air dragged in and racked up in my lungs, I fell backward to the snow-veiled earth, where I sensed the ground sloping away beneath my back, uneven and powdery, and where I was found some time much later, staring upward in stock-still silence at the wild blue yonder above me. The distant moon was glowing a saffron-red, gave way to a mosaic slate-gray of the midnight sky a fluid pane of plexiglass, sharply cutting in two, the jarring realm of the living from the muffled world of the dead.
Lana Bella has her diverse work of poetry and fiction published and forthcoming with Deltona Howl, Thought Notebook, Earl of Plaid, Kiki Howell for the War Anthology, Undertow Review, Wordpool Press, Global Poetry, and The Voices Project. She resides on some distant isle with her novelist husband and two frolicsome imps, where the sun shines, the birds chirp, and the sea foams in silvery waves.
Digital Papercut VOLUME 1 ISSUE 3
<![CDATA[The Beast behind the Wall by Carlos M. Torres]]>Tue, 27 Jan 2015 04:49:39 GMThttp://wordpoolpress.com/digital-papercut/the-beast-behind-the-wall-by-carlos-m-torres There I was in the middle of class, slouched low in my seat with my hood hanging off the back of my head. I sat reserved in a bubble of my own thoughts amid the juvenile chaos, gazing into my new electronics textbook, wondering if I had made the right decision. My reasons eluded me until I caught a glimpse of my scarred fingertips, and then it came to me. The events of that night still cause the hair on my arms to stand on end. I could never forget it. That sudden jolt of pain that numbed my limbs and singed my fingers, the smell of burnt flesh and the sound of my molars grinding against each other as I clenched my teeth with every ounce of strength I could muster. No…I will never forget it.                                                                              
I must have been five or six years old, living with my mother and two younger brothers in the rough South End section of town. The streets were dark and dilapidated. A lone flickering street lamp shone through the gloom, casting a dim yellowish glow on the overstuffed garbage cans that littered the edge of our narrow walkway. The sounds of the neighbors arguing and the alley cats hissing were abruptly muffled by the screeching tires and wailing police sirens that frequently filled the air at that time of night. And in the shadows, just beyond the reach of that lone flickering street lamp, lurked the undesirables with their menacing disposition and dubious intentions. It was because of this reason that my brothers and I rarely spent time playing outdoors.

Most of our childhood was spent in the safety of our home. A warm and cozy sanctuary filled with the joy, laughter, and love of a young family—a stark contrast to the deplorable conditions of the outside world. Way up high on the third floor, far from the disparity down below, was our haven: blessed, tranquil, and serene. Our apartment was immaculate, adorned with adorable baby pictures and awkward school portraits. My brothers and I shared the biggest room. A pair of wooden Victorian style pocket doors, the kind that slide into the walls, separated our room from the rest of the apartment. I remember standing in between the doors on the squeaky hardwood floor, staring out at the three arched windows on the opposite wall of our room. The arched sections were fixed with stained glass reminiscent of the old church we used to frequent. They were both beautiful and ominous at the same time. As my sight shifted from the arches to the windows, then down toward the floor, a peculiar object caught my eye. There it was, just below the center window. What it looked like, I wasn’t sure.

Concerned and a bit perplexed by my discovery, I decided to ask my mother about this mysterious anomaly. Midway through my rant, she realized that it was an opportune time to make us all aware of the dangers behind my findings. I remember that she sat us all down, stared each of us in the eye, and in a serious tone she commanded, “Don’t you boys ever, and I mean EVER, try to touch it, taunt it, or toy with it!" We listened intently in the following moments as she elaborated on her decree. She warned us that it stalked the inner walls and had a small passageway in every room, to every home in every town: an outlet from the walls to the world. Therein laid a powerful beast, which many men attempted to control but died trying.

What was this ferocious beast, this wild animal, so raw in its being, feared by so many, and yet we let it into our homes? We all knew of its power. We all knew that it could grab a man with the grip of a pit bull’s bite and seize his heart. We also knew that it could bring a man back to life. We've seen it set entire buildings ablaze and render the biggest of institutions powerless. We knew of an even mightier beast that dwelled in the heavens, and when provoked, would lash out in a fit of rage and strike down upon the earth with great vengeance. It's almost mythical, like descendants of Zeus. I needed to know more.

The same curiosity that killed the cat almost did away with me as well. Later that night, as my brothers and I played on the squeaky hardwood floor, my mother’s words of warning echoed in my head. I hung on every single little detail that emanated from her lips, as I was compelled by the legend of the beast. The more I thought about it, the closer I drifted towards the area beneath the center window; inch by inch, squeak after squeak, it lured me in until I was two feet in front of it. While on my knees, I leaned over and peeked into the habitat of the beast. I glanced back for a second to check on my brothers. I saw that the coast was clear, so I decided to make my move. With a bobby pin pressed between my thumb and index finger and the beat of fear in my heart, I attempted to wake the beast.

I never saw it coming. In a flash, it struck. I was hit with such an awesome force that I became airborne landing on the pile of toys across the room. As I lay on my back dazed and confused, I turned my head and looked towards the scene of our confrontation. There was no sign of the beast. It was gone, disappearing faster than it had appeared. I didn't see its face, but surely I felt its bite. My hand was swollen, my fingers burnt, and I felt like throwing up. My brothers quickly helped me to my feet and walked me over to my mother in the next room. "You could have killed yourself!" she shouted as she examined my hand, "I told you never to play with electricity! You’re lucky to be alive!" As she pointed her finger and scolded me, all I could think about was electricity. I could finally put a name to the beast behind the wall, the legend that sparked my curiosity. From that day forward, I vowed to learn everything there was to know about electricity…even if it killed me.


As the school bell rang and the students scurried off to their next class, I lingered behind to bask in my recollection. The affirmation that the bite of the beast was the reason I chose to study electricity, reassured me that I had made the right decision.
Carlos M. Torres is an engineering technician from Waterbury, Connecticut. He’s a father of three, who enjoys writing stories of his childhood to help teach his kids life lessons. 
Digital Papercut VOLUME 1 ISSUE 3