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Carolina Muse IV.II

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Carolina Muse literary arts magazine VOLUME IV NO II MAY 2024 Editor in Chief Madison Foster Art Editor Lilliana Cameron Dance Editor Rush Johnston Music Editor Jake Shores Poetry Editor Amanda Conover Stories Editor Aidan Melinson Social Media Strategist Misbah Chhotani Newsletter Writer Jenna Duxbury Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine is published seasonally online at carolina muse com Access to the magazine is free online It is set in Baskerville 12 point font with titles in DM Serif Display All content design images and videos are Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine 2024 and cannot be republished without written consent from both the creator editor Multimedia art forms may hold exceptions to this Email carolinamuse arts gmail com with questions or comments

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From the Editor When I was little magic ran through my veins I know most kids have this feeling but my magic always felt special to me My imagination felt tangible and the feeling of a connection to something larger than myself resonated through everything I did Nowadays as I attempt to connect with that magical little girl inside of me I ve begun to notice where this magic has manifested in my life namely in my passion for the arts There is magic in creative expression It is a miracle that we re able to express ourselves and our ideas through movement words sounds and materials Acting on creativity brings an idea to life shaping something entirely new out of thin air that then has the power to move someone open their perspectives or transport them into another world Incredible right Sometimes the creation itself has magical elements but it doesn t have to in order to be magic it just is in its essence We all wield a little bit of this magic inside of us But today society is so disconnected from it that it can feel like we re all walking around with our eyes closed This issue of Carolina Muse invites you to open your eyes It contains stories of the power of nature nostalgia longing family inheritance and impactful relationships The arts and the subjects they touch on are magical and as you flip through this issue I hope you can reconnect with that magic inside of yourself too Madison

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Table of Contents Art Photography 7 Trees Michael Hill 8 Stillness Hannah Martha Twiddy 9 Pearl Ginkgo Biloba Anastasiya Arvest 11 Content Lydia Vaz 16 PEARL Nina Rhoades 19 Inextinctus Amelia Shields 20 Morning on the Boardwalk Joanna Lothers 22 Bottled Emotions ENVY Michelle Grana 27 Savior Complex Lessle Rodriguez 29 Portalis Amelia Shields 30 The Wanderer Laura J Bill 33 EMPTY VESSELS MAKE THE MOST SOUND Isabelle Klauder 34 Pageant Lydia Vaz 38 An Oak from Ashes William Underwood 39 And Much Was Hidden Away Madeline O Neill 40 The Invisible Girl Kamryan Collis 43 Breathing Jen Carmiel 44 DESIRE MAKES EVERYTHING BLOSSOM Isabelle Klauder 47 FEMALE NUDE FROM THE BACK AFTER MAX SLEVGOT Isabelle Klauder 48 From One to Another Joanna Lothers Dance Music 15 It s Gonna Sting Rachael Lawson 24 Fortunes Phillip McRorie 25 Whiskey Deep Levi J Mericle 32 Empress Grayson Anthony 37 Lara Grayson Anthony 51 gabriel s waltz dog fanclub

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Poetry 6 The Homily Buffalo 1929 Mara Davis Price 8 Questions for Wet Pine Savannas Mara Davis Price 9 I was born Ella Kindt 17 My Grandfather Was No Sailor Angela Acosta 18 Closed Sundays Michael Hill 21 Teeth in the Branches Brandi DeHaven 26 Judas Alexander Beets 28 butterfly crossing a highway Kennedy Cole 31 until August comes again Sebastian Ellios 32 2009 2010 Caroline Fairey Meese 35 Little Sister Lacey Lindsey 36 Dark Sky Rachel Beal 39 Mary Louise Caroline Fairey Meese 40 Inheritance Briana Meade 41 Flight of Geese Rachel Beal 42 Spoil t Sestina Madeline O Neill 45 Longing Andrew Williams 46 For Reed after a Dye Job Andrew Williams 49 Pond Season Phillip Andrew Lisi 50 Return Olivia D Angelo Short Stories 10 14 22 24 37 38 Slow Drown Yujun Ginn Irma in an Italian Restaurant Sydney Bollinger Estrellita D nde Est s Kenzie McGregor Other Acknowledgements 1 2 3 4 5 52 57 57 58 Front Cover artwork by Amelia Shields Isabelle Klauder Masthead Letter from the Editor Table of Contents Meet the Creators Credits Back Cover artwork by Amelia Shields Isabelle Klauder

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Poetry The Hominy Buffalo 1929 Mara Davis Price We are the last two buffalo in Buncombe County I think sometimes and I am so scared of losing you Our stars the same stars Your face just as furred The Pisgah Forest fuller wilder still somehow as empty People claimed we d tear down Patton Avenue together and god we should have I d love to hear the hooves on cobblestone I m gonna marry you at Fleetwood s almost a cent ry gone Now fireflies A wide moon and the distant promise of elk A return to a place where we aren t tourists where we chew on mountainsides make our home with the hellbender cover ourselves in dust and die with my one large eye wading into yours 6 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Photography Trees Michael Hill 7 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Poetry Photography Questions for Wet Pine Savannas Mara Davis Price Is something endangered if it can t live nowhere else your pocosin shrubs are my state lines just as earnest just as green The Carolina goldenrod spotting the wiregrass in untoothed yellow barbs The blazing star standing upright like a sparkler in a child s tiny hand Can you feel it everything when the Venus flytrap closes when the caterpillar gouges out the pitcher s fleshy side Are we endangered if we can only live one place once at a time bound to a fire that burns us down The toothache grass goes on with aching but perfumes still the air Stillness Hannah Martha Twiddy 8 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Poetry Visual Art I was born Ella Kindt my grandmother s granddaughter thick and stretchy smiles and peach cobbler and is there anything I can After Gregory Pardlo s Written by Himself get you and so on I was born in the mud between the hay bales sitting blood sweat and tires of p icku ps on the rail of the old dairy yard screaming down asphalt Called in for supper washing roadkill in their wake small hands free of rust in the lilies through the streaked glass sprouting from the headsto nes and chipped paint of a house of pets buried in the front y ard in Sylvania related by marriage in the shade of a pear tree sick bought from Walmart with dirt under my nails almost twice the size and hair in my mouth of the house now my neck caught in chain link by the highway too loud my mother s daughter raised on after w orsh ip festering playdates graduating the picked clean deer carcass through highschool boyfrie nds glaring outwards to arrive sitting upwards with Grace in the mausoleu m forever Pearl Ginkgo Biloba Anastasiya Arvest 9 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Stories Slow Drown Yujun Ginn My phone rings right as I pass under the base of a looming bodhisattva poised to bring serenity in concrete white to the parking lot Which of the enlightened it is I couldn t say The buzz in my pocket is jarring in combination with the insistent jangle of recorded bells off time against the crunch of slowly halting footsteps in loose gravel It s me a staticky voice says when I pick up after the fourth ring It s a funny thing how few people in life can truly say those words and be known It s even funnier how many people just assume that they re special enough to be one and thus join their number by sheer presumption alone The voice s owner is in this case somewhere in the no man s land between both You re back then I say to my best friend of thirteen years I ve been in love with her for ten of them and I haven t spoken to her in just as many months Still she says it s me and I can hardly deny I know her by heart I m back she confirms and laughs There s nothing to laugh at but she s like that Can you come pick me up I tilt my head back and stare at the bodhisattva From here I can only see its enigmatic smile lost in the blaze of the bright morning sun I close my eyes letting the light bleed through in dizzying spots and I wait for the uneven rhythm of our breaths to settle into something more familiar It doesn t Which airport is it Songshan At least two hours away I m sorry for not asking earlier This is the kind of assurance that makes me want to be angry grit my teeth and tell her off for being so presumptuous But she s always been this way mistakes made hand in hand with apologies and I don t have the energy to be angry I ve been drained for a long time and this inconvenience won t really make a difference in the end These sorts of things happen in life after all It s fine I say even though it isn t I ll come I ll see you soon she says Laughs I wash my hands two times in the sink of the outdoor bathroom a failed attempt to disguise where I ve been before I leave Even in homes built to house the dead allowances for the living are made tucked out of sight All I can do living ghost that I am is pretend I ve never intruded among towering rows of ashen remains hidden behind perfect golden panels stacked high enough to reach the sky Red ink clings to my thumb accusatory I give in and leave it My handwriting had been sloppy as I signed my name to the outside of the bag of joss paper but my thumbprint was precise a pretty modern substitute for something more powerful more bloody Every time I wasn t sure it was necessary The dead would know me by my shit handwriting after all I had my doubts that they d ever scanned the ridges of my fingers When I emerge there s a couple standing at the fires readying their offerings to burn They re the first people I ve seen today Who are you here for the man asks My grandfather I reply even though this isn t the time or place for friendly conversation It s also not the time or place to be rude We don t ask each other which side of the building we d been to Buddhist or Taoist The two coexist well enough in life and certainly keep it up all right in death They offer their condolences which sound pretty but don t mean a lot a year in Ash is ash and words can taste like it too They tell me their names which I don t listen to and that they re here for the woman s sister I offer them my condolences in turn I don t know for sure but they probably sound empty to them too Either way it s the kind thing to do I m not a kind person but I m still trying That s what counts probably There s too many sick people in the family I say wrapping up the small talk Smoke drifts between us My grandmother didn t want any of us to visit You know because it s unclean Ah hhh The man hums it low and long as though he understands exactly what I mean Maybe he does His wife nods sympathetically she definitely doesn t understand what I mean Either way I leave my secret with these strangers and move on The bodhisattva might see if I m cursed for my actions on this smothering morning or not but it s not for me to know The statue smiles as my moped sputters to life and cuts out of the empty parking lot waiting for my 10 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Stories Visual Art inevitable return People tell you when you re young that you re going to grow up to do great things that so and so will be the best years of your life They tell you that young love is beautiful and that you look really nice in that outfit People are fucking liars is the thing It seems like a self evident truth but it s not Some people go their whole lives really believing in everybody else in the goodness of things Almost every relationship is built upon lies even if they re tiny But a lot of the time they re bigger than we think I m no different Did you miss me she asks head tucked into my shoulder and the handle of her carry on digging into my thigh I breathe in the stale smell of her hair greasy cold from days of air travel and I lie Not at all It s the response that I know will make her laugh and it does I can feel her body where it shakes pressed into mine before she lets go thoroughly entertained as always and I smile at her as though it really is all a joke It s easy to fall back into this the way I look at the curve of her cheek rather than directly into her eyes and tell her slightly wrong words for a better reaction The problem is I ve got a bad habit of half truths too I d missed her more than anything I d also been glad she was gone a relief that ached bonedeep almost deeper than the hurt of missing her or the hurt of having her around Love is like that It s been a long year while she was away she knows She knows because she s kept track of the news even though we haven t been talking much so she s got plenty to say now It s hot in America too apparently but not as humid She felt like she barely survived this final semester of high school but she graduated all the same Her mother has started pottery lessons really likes it Her father hasn t done anything different at all It s the sort of thing I can expect and I tell her as much after I finish chasing down a taxi big enough for the luggage and my moped I don t tell either the driver or my friend that I d had to stop on the way to Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4 Content Lydia Vaz 11

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Stories the airport to withdraw all the money in my account to for a millisecond in the mirror before fixing on the road pay for this long haul ride to pay for whatever it was ahead again He stays quiet I breathe in I know I knew she d want in the next few days I d never told Oh she says her once that I d ask my family for loans to treat her A Mei croons something about holding and hearts while she visited and worked it off when she left dirt bleeding on the YouTube compilation of greatest hits stuck deep under my nails as I dug up fat cabbages from the driver has looping on his phone I wonder absent damp soil mindedly how much data he s wasting As the taxi driver helps me haul the last bag into his A familiar hand squeezes mine just for a second trunk my best friend says I haven t decided where to All of us pretend it didn t happen as we enter the go to university yet What to study welcoming dark of a tunnel the blocky flash of lights For the first time in our lives she looks as lost as I ve streaking over us as we pass into our next selves always felt I don t know what to say so I say Get in She does The driver doesn t say anything about it because it s not his business but I catch him glancing at us in After she d moved to America I d gone to the the backseat through the rearview when he climbs in temple or rather the market For lunch to be precise He s a part of our lives now in that funny fishbowl I d walked through the narrow alleys bought grilled peripheral way that everyone is to everyone else but squid tanghulu sour plum juice to wash it down rarely thinks about and I m regretting not just putting I d bought a packet of gum from one of the old men myself in debt for a rental chanting some plea or car or something If we weren t talking All of us pretend it didn t another at the corner just like my parents had before we got in I know happen as we enter the always told me not to what he d say He d chat us up in that over familiar welcoming dark of a tunnel And then I d walked into the temple because I way that most people in his line of work do the blocky flash of lights felt empty inside That was what people ask us girls if we ve got streaking over us as we pass did when they felt empty boyfriends My best friend would laugh oblivious into our next selves inside That day I did things and I d have to offer the the traditional way the same awkward ashamed smile full of secrets I ve been way I d been taught Rightmost door introduction wearing for years everything But what I came for was the jiaobei A finger taps the back of my hand gentle I let the air I was empty so I asked the gods that probably didn t out of my lungs wooooosh and turn to her Where are believe in me very much either the question I wanted you going to go she asks to hear the answer to the most Will I ever be happy in this National Taiwan University I say They want love me to study something with computers You know I didn t ask if she d come back to me I knew the She also knows that we d both planned to go there that answer to that one already She s the kind of girl who she d said she d move back here to come to school with could go anywhere and do anything and wants to do me but she definitely isn t now She knows that by my exactly that but will stay exactly where she is and do admitting this I m saying that I ve studied hard to get nothing in the end because it s easier The second her in kept to the plan met her at the mark we d set She s family moved away I d known she was never coming smarter than I am back Not really She also knows that I will never call her out on the I knelt Prayed Dropped fact that she s leaving me The blocks swayed back forth when they landed You hate computers she says instead Her smile on the most damning answer they could give The gods twitches at the corner half awkward for once were laughing at me long loud wood rattling on Yeah The taxi driver s eyes flick back meet mine tile But I d always been a bit of a joke Nothing new 12 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Stories Nothing to cry over Being human is like that I kind of felt like stepping on the threshold as I left I didn t though Coming home is something unspoken To me it s the change in how the air tastes the familiarity in the lean of telephone poles and rows of crops by the side of the road flowing into small town streets It s the slow spark of recognition in her eyes as she settles back into her seat only to lean forward a few minutes later as we crawl to a stop in front of my family s apartment building I watch her watch the unchanged world outside of the van window completely aligned with her memories and I leave her to it I hand the driver a stack of too crisp bills Tip him well Thanks uncle I say when he helps me get my bike down The good natured grin I get in response is pretty okay We stand there next to the bike rack as the driver putters away scooters bicycles crowding noisily around us and demanding penance for our intrusion We re unwilling to face the welcome surprise of my family yet not that either of us say it Neither of us move for a good few moments Let s go to Seven She says it nice easy pretending not to see the red ink still burning at my thumb because ignoring the dead and the things we do to honor them must mean we won t die either Or maybe it s simpler than that and she just doesn t know how to comfort me Not that I need it Okay I say because I always go along with her wants bakery bookstore temple market Who wouldn t when she s only here for the blink of an eye That s how those things work after all It doesn t really matter that it would have been easier to be dropped off there It s not enough of a walk to care about Most of these little pains with her aren t enough to care about It s only at the end of the day when she isn t there that they turn bitter and ache We don t bother to drag our stuff up to my family s apartment just turn without a word It s a stupid sort of idea our knees knocking against luggage and into the side of my scooter but we can silently agree it s better that it s just us for a little while longer even if it s just ten minutes to a corner store perhaps ten more again to pick up whatever she wants It s better this way It s not that it s bad when there s more people But when it s just us it s always been something different and that s best so we walk without a word and with the sun bearing down on our bowed heads It forces heavy fingers through our hair dragging its searing touch down to rest at the hollows of our throats to keep us quiet We don t fight it This is a journey we ve made a thousand and one times our arms full of different things different clothes on our backs It plays out like a well worn record our feet scuffing against stained old concrete steps as the doors chime open her making a beeline to the gimmicky caf counter to order a drink made on the spot as I disappear into the aisles of shiny packets bright colors I reemerge with a pouch of grape vinegar We meet at the checkout I pay She says thank you and we duck back out the door We sit on the steps of the 7 Eleven my shoulder pressed into the corner column with its shiny glazed terracotta tiles missing from the halfway point down to show off cement underneath papered with years of flyers worn down into ghosthood It s been that way for longer than I ve been alive It might be that way after I m dead too She stretches her legs out with a groan swirling her cup around The ice inside tumbles making a pleasant sound I don t know how you drink that stuff I m used to it I say the same way I have nearly every year for our whole lives You just never gave it a fair chance or you d like it all right No way She holds up her drink to emphasize her point scattering droplets of water along the cement Iced hot chocolate is the way to go That s just chocolate milk you know Shut up comes the lofty reply We re adults I can t order a chocolate milk Besides you know I m right that s how you order it Guess so I say because I really don t know She shoves the cup into my hand just like always try it A bead of condensation rolls down over my knuckle and drops neatly onto the mole between my index middle fingers I think of the three summers in a row we d gone to the beach and climbed up to the most isolated cliffside we could find after promising our families we wouldn t do anything stupid and we stood there hand in hand She d stared straight out at the horizon transfixed I d stared at her profile etched into the sky Have you ever loved anyone she d asked during that last summer voice stolen by the evening breeze 13 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Stories Yes I d said because I hadn t learned to swallow my words back for her sake yet Did you ever struggle with that Not really The sea breeze was sharp in my mouth biting as I d sucked it down It stung with the unsaid I didn t have to because it was you the whole time I wondered if this is what she wanted me to say beautifully cruel but I didn t ask I knew better That must have been nice Not really I loved her so much that she held all of me and she didn t know it But I was empty inside now or maybe I always had been Something like that It didn t matter much We d jumped each time hand in hand only for our fingers to break apart on impact Even with my eyes open water rushing over my head and into my slack mouth I never could find her hand again I breathe out slow steady and I take a sip of her drink The chocolate rocks across the back of my throat a startlingly sweet shock after the contradiction of sucrose laced vinegar Thanks I say Hand it back with a smile aimed somewhere to the right of her feet She hums Two grade school boys ride by on the other end of the fountain laughing their bikes rattle over the uneven pavement I wonder if when they grow up they ll stand next to each other but be an ocean apart Hey she starts stops I m sorry Don t be I say I mean it and I don t It s a lie and it s not Whatever she s sorry for it doesn t matter It s already forgiven That s how it is That s how it s always going to be even when it fills my throat with salt No really She s looking at me now earnest and I look somewhere else so that she can t see the selfishness inside me My pants ride a little farther up my calves as I draw my knees in tighter fabric rasping I m sorry For not calling Or texting or writing or I thought about you all the time I knew that it didn t matter when if I talked to you it d be fine but I just couldn t do it The ice inside her cup is melting The silence is crushing I drink from my pouch of vinegar a long sip that runs sourness right back down to my gut where it belongs I don t know what to say I wanted to talk to you She s still looking at me and I m still looking somewhere between our hands and the asphalt But I felt like I don t know I would disappoint you too And then it d been so long and it felt wrong to try and reach out and I didn t I couldn t I didn t know what to say She doesn t have to say your grandfather your grandfather I m sorry for me to hear the words anyway It s fine I tell her and I m not lying It really is fine It wasn t like I d reached out either Sometimes it s easier to do nothing and she s always been that sort of person Maybe I was too I didn t think too much about it What mattered what had always mattered were the summers and the way our knees knocked together in the sticky heat wherever we sat Still I m sorry She drops her head to my shoulder sweat sticking the travel greasy strands to the side of her neck The weight isn t heavy not to me You re here now That s all that matters to me when this is likely to be the last time that s true I d hurt all of the hurts out a long time ago There s nothing left but quiet love worn down into perfect softness like a favorite pajama shirt from years ago so faded that the original pattern has been lost even to memory I m just happy you re here I missed you she tells me all crooked teeth and tired out eyes and I know she means it You ll wait for me next summer too right Yeah sure Agreeing is easy Agreeing is the hardest thing I ve ever done Let s do lots of things before I go she says Her drink is melting I m melting too soft miserable the very picture of the human condition All the bakeries and bookstores That one coffee place with the latte art Night markets department stores let s I don t know find a festival I want to do as much as I can with you All right I snatch her cup again ignore the fake affront in her exaggerated huff as I sip again and return it We can do that We sit there for a long time even though we re both tired hungry It s still better than dealing with my family or setting up a space for her to sleep in my room amongst socially obligated chatter There are words neither of us want to say out loud just different ones My condolences I love you These are the knives that cut us apart When I have to leave she says stops for a second Searches for the rest Will you miss me Not at all I say I m lying but I m also not She laughs tucking her hair behind her ear and smiles wide 14 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Music It s Gonna Sting Rachael Lawson You re losing sleep Cause you couldn t keep This from me You feel it in your chest This sickness So heavy Chorus Sticks sticks stones stones Flesh bones Cut by your tongue And they say I am the lucky one But I m not having any fun Next time you see me Oh it s gonna sting Next time you see Drowning in your lies I see it in your eyes Can t disguise it You know it in your soul So cold So empty Chorus Crocodile tears After all these years You can t fool me You lost all your power You coward Poor baby Chorus You aren t a villain to me I know it s your insecurities You know you need therapy I was only 19 15 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Visual Art PEARL Nina Rhoades 16 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Poetry My Grandfather Was No Sailor Angela Acosta You answered the phone with a verse from a song of your youth one I learned in Spanish class Yo no soy marinero I am not a sailor sung across sound waves Said with the precision of an expert draftsman each syllable articulated with an American accent its appearance as unexpected as a line from a song I once dutifully sang to my parakeet Soy capit n soy capit n I am a captain I hasten to respond in my head where all languages seem possible with none of the racist xenophobic criticism I am your granddaughter tu nieta trying to grasp a language that was both your legacy and sealed away as a time capsule so I respond in English and fumble around for some glimpse at how La Bamba bounced its way along the decades You were not a sailor though you lived next to the Pacific floating along currents on a ferry boat Spanish left as mere song bytes and jokes and I wonder what you sounded like before the land took away your ocean 17 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Poetry Closed Sundays Michael Hill The storm lands close A biblical flood a violent wind The New Beach Pier rises up and hangs over the horizon for a few seconds the moment is a monument then snaps into three contorted pieces that spread splinters over the waves like dead fish The Sea Dog Hotel is old creaking around me and from my window I can see the pool half empty growing green and bubbling from the falling rain a witch s cauldron A pickup truck outside flips and bobs out into what was once the road but has been annexed by the Atlantic taken into the sea A neon sign Closed Sundays that hangs on the building next door and used to paint my room blue goes out for good and the water breaks through the front door glass The high rise resorts loom beyond their peaks hidden in the coal black clouds and there s a man out there perched on the roof of his car water half way up the doors but he s sitting there holding his cap down and looking at me right at me even from this far I can tell And it s just the two of us here on this stretch of abandoned coast Two guardians witnessing together the inevitable end of the world So I wave and he waves back the moment is a monument 18 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Visual Art Inextinctus Amelia Shields 19 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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20 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine Visual Art Morning on the Boardwalk Joanna Lothers

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Poetry Teeth in the Branches Brandi DeHaven I cannot reach you As my arms have grown stiff The sky looks down with pity It s gaze upon us Spanish moss does not grow over the dead Instead you are a canopy To more lively figures Sidewalks that inhabit the living and fountains that teem with water But there are teeth embedded in your roots Have you consumed too many and grown full Too full for me When hurricane season arrives Maybe I will be flung beneath your branches From the depths I see roots Of tall pines and dense oak trees The blend of wood that makes my coffin door Maybe when the winds of Savannah Break your branches and splinter molars across the city You ll have room for me Spanish moss does not grow over the dead Perhaps I can curl up beneath your branches Let me rest with the thought of you Reaching toward me again 21 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Stories Visual Art Irma in anchor struggled to stand up straight the wind whipping him back forth as if he was a twig Those people are a special kind of crazy Catrina an Italian said shaking her head again You could not pay me to go stand in that She returned her attention to her Restaurant phone where she often played Candy Crush for hours on end Her managerial style was very hands off probably because she didn t want to be there Every couple of weeks she would tell me about how she was going to Sydney Bollinger finally leave the restaurant and be a homemaker once again just like she was supposed to But she never left because in the words of Josh my only friend at the If the Italian restaurant where I worked cared about the inland hurricane headed straight for us I wouldn t know restaurant Catrina s husband sold insurance but he didn t really sell insurance He just sleeps all day Josh said And so Catrina I leaned on one of the bar stools my eyes trained was at the restaurant most of the time and most of the on the tiny TV behind the bar My table on the other time she was unhappy about it side of the small restaurant talked quietly their voices I watched the radar on the TV show projections for interspersed with The Weather Channel and the Hurricane Irma s trajectory It was headed right for us crooning of Dean Martin playing over the restaurant s At the time I didn t know hurricanes could survive on speakers land I thought they just kind of went away as soon as Next to me my manager Catrina shook her head they had to contend with things like buildings farmland The woman often shook her head at the news because and a lack of water But it doesn t work like that As long she was exhausted by the state of the as they have the fuel they ll go wherever they want world in 2017 how divided it was Usually I just nodded my head at whatever she said because if she thought I agreed with her I d The thing about hurricanes is that they re scary to remain her favorite server If I people who have never lived through one before and remained her favorite server she d before Irma I had never lived through a hurricane I d give me the good tables that tipped grown up in the middle of nowhere Ohio well and let me scroll on my phone We d watch the news and see the devastation of when I had nothing to do It was a hurricanes and all I remember thinking is how bad they small price to pay for me to keep were and how thankful I was that I never had to live some of my sanity through one We dealt with things like ice snow and the On the TV the news occasional tornado but there was something important something so different about how the hurricane fueled by warm water grew stronger stronger its Bottled wind thrashing against buildings nature itself until there was a sudden reprieve The Eye Emotions And then the storm continued on leaving floods destruction in its wake people ENVY climbing out of demolished buildings people sitting on rooftops because the first second maybe even third story of their house had filled with water Michelle Grana In an instant or perhaps over several hours lives changed for the worse 22 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Stories I wondered what that would be like because work is out Josh said He had a point We once worked a told me I wasn t in danger and yet all I could think five hour shift during a power outage because we had about was the pittance in my pocket and the bills I had a wood fired pizza oven that didn t need electricity and due next week people still wanted to eat I had two tables and maybe Some days I thought the money made the job worth got 20 in tips that day it and other days I got through my shift by stealing beer I picked up the plates from the counter from the kegs and putting it in a water bottle during We re all going to die here I said not entirely my shift I needed the money that was definite and I joking thought I could do anything even work for people who Fucking kill me first seem to hate me Working in that place was a practice in humiliation degradation Despite me being one of the most reliable front of house employees the owner always Two days before meteorologists predicted Hurricane had something bad to say about my performance Irma would hit Carrollton I received a text message Once I got chastised after finding out my childhood telling me my next two days of college classes were dog died because I checked my phone during work and canceled if I hadn t checked my phone I would ve been able to The restaurant of course remained open so with complete my shift freedom from school hanging in the distance I donned At the time I just thought that s how jobs are my uniform and went to work for two dollars and Everyone hates you but you need the money so you do thirteen cents per hour The restaurant was busy filled your best and everyone still hates you or in my case with evacuees from the Georgia coast No hotel in town my dog dies and it s my fault had any vacancies and our As long as they have because I could have been a good server if I didn t check small town square teemed with people I put a smile on my my phone or prayed to Jesus to save my soul or sworn off communism Or something the fuel they ll go wherever they want face took orders wiped sweat from my forehead delivered orders fielded text messages like that from my mom and asked if people wanted dessert My mom in particular was concerned about the storm Earlier that day I had gone to the grocery store Josh yelled my name from the expo window Order not in a planning for an emergency type of way just a up regular type of way I placed my phone facedown on the bar adjusted Are you planning to come home she asked I my apron and walked back to grab the orders for my don t know if you ll be safe in that apartment My customers One grilled chicken salad One order of parents lived thirty minutes southeast of Carrollton fettuccine alfredo Cheap meals I wouldn t be getting a No I still have to work I said hands gripping the good tip for my three hours of being on the clock steering wheel Despite the threat of a storm the day This is so fucking stupid Josh said looking at his had turned out nice A couple of blonde women walked phone He propped it up on one of the shelves in the together pushing strollers on the recreational path that kitchen so he could glance at it every now and then cut through town in a 16 mile long circle When the owner wasn t there we always did things like And that was that I still had to work this He usually watched Boy Meets World because he Amidst the chaos of the busy shift Josh and I had believed it to be the best show ever created which I a clipped conversation about the horrors headed for us found funny because he acted too emo to love some old Our news of the storm came from Josh s phone because sitcom we were not allowed to play The Weather Channel on What is I asked the TV behind the bar anymore Catrina found the Goddamn hurricane And I don t think they ll aftermath of the storm too horrible to watch and even shut this place down We ll be working if the power instead had settled on a marathon of Fixer Upper 23 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Stories Dance The world could be ending and we d still be here You know that right Josh asked setting two hot dishes on the expo counter He yelled out the name of my coworker What if I can t physically get here Like what if there s a tree down Or like the road is completely destroyed I asked Josh put two more plates on the counter He yelled for my coworker again A few years ago we had a bad ice storm and the owner drove around checking the roads between everyone s house and the restaurant If there was a way for you to be here you had to be here he said Believe me I tried to get out of a shift once because of a freak weather event and he drove to my house and picked me up Josh yelled for my coworker again just as she rounded the corner She looked around our little server station eyes darting from place to place before landing on the dishes She reached for one of the plates grabbed it and let go shaking her hand It s hot she shouted I told you You need to use the hot pads Josh said handing her a couple and shaking his head My coworker was not new but every time she worked it felt like I had to train her and if I wasn t training her on something I already trained her how to do I was just doing her job She also didn t want to be there in the same way Catrina didn t want to be there The job was a last resort the only thing she could get because she went to the same church as the owner and had a couple of kids needed the money and her boyfriend didn t have a steady job My coworker used the hot pads to pick up two of the dishes and headed to her table With hot pad covered hands I picked up the remaining dishes and followed her into the dining room where the roar of voices had only gotten louder as the night went on I had lots of cash stuffed into the front of my apron The evacuees were nice Thoughtful Apologetic that I was working especially because We thought we got out of it but looks like it s headed here instead And all I could think of was that I would probably die in that restaurant Maybe the giant front window would shatter I d be cut by the glass shards and bleed out Or maybe one of the light fixtures hanging from the ceiling would fall on me Or maybe the storm would bring with it lots lots of water so the restaurant would feel like an aquarium and I d try to get out but I d just drown instead As soon as my head got above water I d sink down again apron stuck on a chair or dining table my legs tangled in the strings my hands unable to undo the knots 24 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Music Whiskey Deep Levi J Mericle She left me for another man This one she thought she d keep Two beers down to drown her out One shot of whiskey deep She smashed the lights of my pickup truck I thought it was kinda sweet Three beers down to drown the pain Two shots of whiskey deep She told me she d always love me And I thought she would never cheat Four beers down to drown the lies Three shots of whiskey deep Chorus There are lovers out there who choose to love Because loving is in their genes And there are lovers out there who choose to love again Although they are never pleased Then there are lovers out there like myself Whose love is never incomplete I love with a lovers kiss till death And with a breath of whiskey deep She tattooed my name on her left arm I thought that was kind of neat Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4 Five beers down to drown her out Four shots of whiskey deep Now I see her in my dreams It s a sickness I can t beat Six beers down to drown the pain Five shots of whiskey deep I thought I d never be saying this But I m lost on Lover s Street Seven beers down to find my way Six shots of whiskey deep Chorus To all the lovers out there who love Love will always come too cheap But you ll find your price maybe once or twice With six shots of whiskey deep And to tell you I m sorry Is a lie I d like to keep I drown it with my sorrow and With shots of whiskey deep Chorus 25

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Poetry Judas Alexander Beets That soul up there which has the greatest pain The Master said is Judas Iscariot With head inside he plies his legs without Dante Alighieri Inferno October rests its eyes on the front porch termite infested Maybe they re as high as we are Dried mouths agape pleading for air The evening firs over us wafting the plume of cannabis into their rotting skin He takes the blunt still burning with him inside the night s shadows follow him In the yard bats chase each other breaths grazing but never touching They spiral upwards to the sky lose their shape in the mist and plummet past me into the house and thud I follow the crash past the foyer past the sleeping dogs their unbothered rest I step in some mix of piss beer both He s in the bathroom sprawled naked candle tipped wax dry on the counter Stainless steel spoon browned underneath Syringe nestled in powder Narcan in hand I squeeze and for a minute I wonder if he like Judas in the jagged jaws of Satan innards strewn between serrated molars is sentenced to be gorged on and whole again for eternity until death reveals its final bloodied grin 26 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Visual Art Savior Complex Lessle Rodriguez 27 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Poetry butterfly crossing a highway Kennedy Cole In my lowest moments I eat the chocolate stash my Dad sends me on Sundays a melting pot of tinfoil and extra weight and push the speed limit on Highway 70 a girl and her demon riding tar and paint until the tank reads twenty miles I am here and I can t scream loud enough to be heard I m not enough of a noise to exist where exhaustion in a place leaves a trail and I don t know how but he doesn t cross my mind not at all and when I turn off my headlights it s easier to see 28 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Visual Art Portalis Amelia Shields 29 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Visual Art The Wanderer Laura J Bill 30 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Poetry until August comes again Sebastian Ellios I came out this summer night to sit in the yard I love because of you Yours to roam run and overlook but never chase the rabbit on its nightly visit You never had a yard this large this grassy before I came out here after the hospital to remember you as you were a week ago I went to empty the bin Empty already For the last 4 days nothing was solid enough to bag I went to wrap the hose Unraveled ready For the last 4 nights bloody stools had to be washed into the earth every two to three hours And now as I walk back to the deck I realize how many of these patches I must step around Mosquitoes don t care about grief They re hellbent on ankles elbows exposed skin I came out this summer night to yield the yard to them To be reminded it was never truly ours 31 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Poetry Dance 2009 2010 Caroline Fairey Meese I don t know if I will have a child I do know my nail bitten fingers circled the impressions in the green carpet as my mom lifted the couch to flush them out the black and white kittens pressing back against the far wall quivering as the cave of their birthplace opened wide A grid of shadows on the parquet floor dust in the sunbeams The trains never stopped at the station and always rattled my windows and sometimes the glow in the dark stars on my ceiling would fall The cockroaches were only ever dead in the morning only once crawling on the bathroom wall at night Of course the heat I marked time passing a Carolina wren stopped short by a window decomposed daily We stopped renting the downtown office building and the toothpick bones went with it The mother cat buried near the dormant squash plant meant bursting vines the next season Searching for grasshoppers in the crabgrass sourgrass by the roadside unwashed blueberries by the cotton field Collecting acorns and soaking them until the wriggling bugs came out I remember the singular night of snow racing my brother across the neighbor s abandoned yard kicking down the For Sale sign gone until tomorrow s melt Oh might as well open the floodgates baseball bat through the window slippers kicked into the fireplace the new baby slipping through my arms Spilled wine cracked eggs crushed azaleas iced shrimp thawing in the sink finger sliced on canned pears redbugs in the Spanish moss once those got under your skin you had to paint the bite with nail polish and wait for it to itch to high heaven thrashing without air It was all a bit charmed the many little dead things the humid twilight chirping the hours all mine damp with dew I cried for days when my parents changed the wallpaper If I put my face next to the TV my hair would stand up and I could see rays of red blue green those impossible colors making up all the dancing pictures on the screen 32 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Visual Art EMPTY VESSELS MAKE THE MOST SOUND Isabelle Klauder 33 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Visual Art Pageant Lydia Vaz 34 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Poetry Little Sister Lacey Lindsey As a portrait it s compelling To be bored and sunlit and without god Too little and too much sky Ariel and I round the block now She traces the lines of a house with two stories Counting excesses to come But I make a steeple with my fingers Composed though not yet lucid With hail like confetti love like abandon 35 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Poetry Dark Sky Rachel Beal 36 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Stories Dance Estrellita D nde Est s Kenzie McGregor Stars fell from the sky as the city s lights shimmered swayed at the bottom of the mountain the black blanket of velvet around her scented with lilac violet and honey It was late July not quite schooltime and the Perseids a wandering meteor shower trekked across the Milky Way like refugees trying to find home Perhaps they searched for their abuelos in the heavens too Star light star bright first stars I ve seen tonight I wish I may I wish I might have this wish I wish tonight Estrella squinted at the sky as she made the silent request her eyebrows drawn together in concentration her chin supported by small hands She shifted her elbows to rest more comfortably in the hollows of the wooden windowsill of the borrowed house while the warm night breeze twirled the ends of her unkempt dark hair Gazing at the heavens again my little love Mother s cinnamon aroma surrounded Estrella with the warmth of a flickering candle flame in the dark The freshly swept floorboards creaked beneath the advance of bare feet and Estrella felt her heavy hair lift from her neck as her mother s fingers ran through its thickness releasing tiny tangles Where are they going Mam las estrellas The girl traced the tail of their wake in the air with her finger Home She stood on her tiptoes bending out the window with palms pressed flat on the burled sill she d come to know by touch in the lonely month they d lived in Texas No s little love You know not everyone has a home Her mother s soft voice wavered with the wind s sigh Estrella blinked reluctantly tearing her attention from the glimmering display en los cielos to the crinkles spidering across the shadows of her mother s face Her crow s feet murmured the beauty grace of an earthen Madonna her matronly forehead wrinkles etched stories of wisdom sorrow from the long months of their wanderings Blossoming age spots prematurely dotted her temples while gray white hair sprouted from the crown of her head braiding like stars with darkness 37 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Stories Visual Art But Mam our home is in Chiapas s Estrella slipped her mother s hands in her own and gazed into the mirrors of her eyes The hands felt heavy warm her eyes glassy like a telescope seeing far away Mam We have una casa there mi amor Not a home She shook her head the down of her early wrinkles almost transparent in the light and squeezed Estrella s hands with the comfort of a hug The running the hiding the fear drifted like snatches of cloudy memory unbidden to Estrella s mind memories she tried so hard to forget I made a wish Mam Estrella said remembering the magic of the sky A flickering flame of hope sprung up inside where her spirit lived If she held her mother s hands long enough perhaps that warmth might kindle a flame in her too The stars were falling and I wished Hush mi amor my little love she said Don t ruin your wish I want you to be happy Mam Estrella whispered But she wished for something more than feeling more than their meager tamal dinners more than una casa to call their own Estrella deseaba tener familia She pulled her mother to the open window where the breeze met their faces and the leaves of trees struggled together in the wind Her mother wiped her eyes and inhaled the honeyed flower scent deeply then closed them like she was trying to dream You can make a wish too Her mother smiled a small tired smile faint but hiding light A cracked tooth peeped over her lower lip My wishes can t come true she said Another group of stars cruised through the sky with la familia abuelos t os primos ni os Hermanos A few dimmer lights trailed behind left to cross the night s plain alone through constellations of hunters animals Mam you have to try Estrella watched the wake of light fade and held on to the wish in her mind No mi amor You re my piece of sky Estrellita y Mam leaned on the windowsill together their elbows cradled in the hollows deepened decades before they arrived They stood side by side while her mother hummed a lullaby and watched the hopeful Perseids travel across the sky toward home An Oak from Ashes William Underwood 38 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Visual Art Poetry And Much Was Hidden Away Madeline O Neill Mary Louise Caroline Fairey Meese Mary Louise I hear tell of you The trees to whom you nodded daily their sisters ash in your cabin fireplace remember your muttering Under the canopy of falling pine needles your lifelong woman in the age before wife in the outhouse you survey the earth your plot your deed in your fist I hear in the folktales and newspaper clippings echoing in the dusted heirlooms you sued the oilmen and won your Appalachian soil spoiled by their repositories seeping through If I m honest it makes me angry Not just this whale corpse country Bloated carved open legions of ants carrying off the flesh gnashing through the Catawba the Lumbee the Cherokee people of all Nations the tankers engorged with endless steel for the ocean floor the mountaintops decapitated miners breathing coal dust Native women murdered and missing on the oil fields Black families deeds hustled away by those same white oilmen and you did it Mary Louise you solitary and stubborn you with your axe and work boots you kept the land clean if only because it was called your land Or got paid when it was ruined In the apocalypse dream I hitchhike my way down into North Carolina and find you in the dream you are alive and you spare no kind word for me but let me follow you around to tap a spile carry water split timber Lessons in how to survive on your own no more and no less 39 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Poetry Photography Inheritance Briana Meade One thing my mother and I share thick uterine walls I m at the OB GYN to check why I fill tampons with viscous blood by the thimble full Why the inner skin of my thighs is drenched every cycle and I smell like wet soil for days How long is your period He asks 4 days I say as he opens me with a gloved thumb and forefinger a humiliation I ve avoided for years I wonder how many other women have sat here half naked on a sky blue pad legs almost akimbo in the stirrups wide eyed and skinless for the whole room to see In these rooms there are wall to wall pictures of labia like a wound like a blossom like both you can see it any way you want this being a woman thing One thing I know at 35 is that women are experts at letting go Every month I let go of something the elasticity near my eyes the chance of having another the stolen kisses on the forehead of a preschooler whose eyes have slackened to sleep My mother let go of these things too She folded up her losses like origami creased them into paper cranes that could be inserted more deftly than a physician s sterile baton Once my mother tucked an origami crane in her uterus for safekeeping And that hurt a little too its pointy beak sharp on the sheepskin inside until I grew and grew of her blood of her heart and of her marrow formed The Invisible Girl 40 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine Kamryan Collis

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Poetry Flight of Geese Rachel Beal I Out the window a hydraulic honk on a bookpage sky meets a shrill steam sing somewhere this sound reminds me of a night when gray clouds clustered and fell on tin roofs washed down the road rushed through the creek and afterward I tried using the brakes in my car the rain the rumble of work the white noise of A C and AM the honking birds on paper skies black planes flying by II I am scared if I look the sky will scoop me up or the flight of geese will carry me away I am scared if I stop when I look down at clover patches I won t see a green cloud I ll see leaflets and arcs or when I notice the the pit the squirrel dug I ll fall down inside III Beeping and rumbling the ambiance of interruption keeps me on a sea of green and unbroken grass backyards Billboards hold me up out of the deep water Factory hisses whisper me out of questions with signs I imagine Attention one clover leaf is dangerous a hole in the ground is an infinite burrow 41 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Poetry Spoil t Sestina Madeline O Neill I wish I had a fat mom Who would give me squishy hugs Like a spoil t tomato Fanning herself with pamphlets And salt faded bucket hats I wish I had a fat mom Who would give me hairy hats And never skimp on kisses and hugs Who would read me makeshift culinary pamphlets Who like a chef cuts a tomato Her hands are rubbed raw like a skinned tomato She writes a love poem on the pamphlets I want a fat mom I want some fresh out of the oven hugs And to play dress up with her ill fitting hats Her hubby left her ALL his Yankee baseball hats One is yellowed like my pee and droopy like a tomato some hot cocoa and a blanket hugs I want a fat mom Mom She has 316 of those melanoma pamphlets All with recipes written over print type pamphlets They re hidden under sand crusted pollen dusted hats I need a fat mom One who always tends to her garden of tomatoes Who to each little green glob she kisses and hugs They grow so tall like beanstalks they like her hugs But one she did not color over Sunspots pamphlet So now she never goes outside She holds the hats So now the garden is bursting with spoil t tomato And I never got to ask you mom For one more fatty hug for another round of dress up hats Or why you no longer bring those pamphlets From the market and no more trips out to the rotten patch of tomatoes I need you fat mom 42 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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43 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4 Visual Art Breathing Jen Carmiel

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Visual Art DESIRE MAKES EVERYTHING BLOSSOM Isabelle Klauder 44 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Poetry Longing Andrew Williams after Matthew Dickman When longing comes at you like Paul Giamatti you should not be surprised Here he is again knocking at your door carrying half a tray of lemon cookies just like your grandma used to make He s moved in taking the empty room above yours most days you won t even know he s there save for the lilting his tongue does as he trims his mustache Some nights he s everywhere kicking up all your old drafts like dirt you scraped off your heel because he swears he thought you could have done better with your line breaks He just wants to be your friend He just wants to sit you down listen to his podcast about things you wish you d have known earlier and tell you what a breakup feels like You get along like that He ll make you dinner because you can t sitting across from you looking like your dad on a Wednesday and he knows all the ways to get you talking The food helps And you ll talk cause he s such a great listener about the what could have beens the names of people you could have known better the finer details of a friend s face because damn it if you haven t thought about each other in a while Tonight he s reading off a list of everyone you ve ever had a crush on asking you why Tonight he s sitting at the end of your bed going over how each of your mistakes could have led to a different world till you fall asleep dreaming them into being Tonight you re helping him move out packing up his chalky sofa filling his boxes with colloquialisms and all the things he knows that make him smarter than you He ll still visit he says Tonight you ll learn to live with the space he s left you with Tonight you ll be okay being alone 45 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Poetry For Reed after a Dye Job Andrew Williams I think this was the moment I realized you were the closest thing I had to a best friend standing still in the back of a fluorescent flushed classroom after dark holding a tub of glob green hair dye that smelled of finger paint and chemical sadness Maybe other people were helping too skinny fingers drawn into waxy nitrile gloves folding in dye until your hair burned from bleach blonde into a hazardous color that looked like what it really means to say neon But I only remember you there sitting lopsided in a faded chair laughing flipping off my camera till your finger got tired of trying and you tagged in the next hand This is where we are most days in my memories Others we re laying loose atop that flat dry stone where the courtyard married the wrought iron fence looking down into the park below as the falls wept into the Reedy River the murky water churning as we learned to distinguish the differences in types of poetry Still other days we re crying on the carpet sitting on a picnic blanket eating apples and honey you telling me you ll rock the shit of any man that tries to hurt me again washing down another week with plastic pasta and viscous white wall paste someone tried to tell us was alfredo sauce And now you don t answer my calls anymore getting lost somewhere between graduation and the old photos of you I keep on my phone One moment we re sitting in the park and I m pointing out which of the white ducks are girls because of the feathers fallen from the nape of their necks One moment we re reading our poems out loud and I could never get mine to sound just as good as yours One moment we re off to college blink and you ll miss it only catching glimpses of each other from infrequent Instagram posts One moment we re back in that dank classroom dyeing your hair something fresh letting each other know maybe without even saying it how much we mean to the other 46 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Visual Art FEMALE NUDE FROM THE BACK AFTER MAX SLEVGOT Isabelle Klauder 47 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Visual Art From One to Another Joanna Lothers 48 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Poetry Pond Season Phillip Andrew Lisi First a good cleaning drain most of the water The siphon method with an old garden hose will do as it has for the past two summers I have to see what is left so many fish disappear over winter taken perhaps by an intrepid night heron or lost in some underground channel I will never see Next knee deep into the muck two inches of leaves oak and maple silty remnants of fall Clumps of waterlogged locust leaves like soggy mats made of firefly wings and hemlock needles milled by a thousand pebbles come up and out by the shovel full Then rebuilding replace the rocks split apart by January s ice storms Careful not to dislodge the submersible pump replaced last spring still in good shape I lie flat on my stomach legs extending away from the pond s perimeter like a bifurcated minute hand counterweight to my reaching down at awkward angles to resurrect a shelf of blue slate sandstone and granite asymmetrical steps descending into the gray green water Finally some new lilies by mid July flotillas for the frogs that come up from the creek down at Vic Dohner s little peepers glossy and bright green not the grotesque monsters that hide among the rushes a little farther off at Bushong s pond They are not welcome Water hyacinth with bulbs and flowers shaped like Goetze s Caramel Creams twin twisted plastic ends My knees ache as I enter the screen porch pull off muddy boots make my way to the shower I hear my son s voice from upstairs today is warm enough to open the windows and bear the weight above the water Ophelia had her rosemary and herbs of grace If I see the yellow center of the Queen of Whites in June that will be my Easter Sunday 49 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Poetry Return Olivia D Angelo I want to sit In the middle of the woods No sound of a train Or rush of traffic Or tower peaking over the horizon No sign of civilization For as far as the eye can see I want to feel the mossy ground Trace my fingers and palms The morning dew dampening my clothes As I sit and listen to the rush of water And chirping of birds Living as they should Living as we should I want to feel the unkempt breeze Not reflecting off anything but the trees I want to smell the dirt And fragrance of unknown flora I want to glance around at bees While wondering what is up in the leaves I want to sit there for hours at end Not knowing when the hour ends Maybe I don t want to know What an hour is at all I want to exist intentionally But with no plan at all Trusting nature will take me Where I m meant to fall I want to know I don t matter No matter whether I live or die The world will go on without me I want to aid my ecosystem Controlling death in life Until I am the death that allows for life I want my corpse to feed the earth For it not to be sad that my life is over But the part of life where I live truly I want death to be where I give back What I took while I was alive I want my death to benefit the world around me And for those who benefited to forget I want to taste an undomesticated fruit A berry so valuable but so unthanked I want one I cannot tell a name But I can give a name Just for another to do the same When they come to sit In the middle of the woods No sound of a train Or rush of traffic Or tower peaking over the horizon No sign of civilization For as far as the eye can see 50 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Music gabriel s waltz dog fanclub he was a young man twenty one loved his mamma was a good son and he dances by himself alone he asked the devil for a waltz this wish he has just this once and so he dances by himself alone she was a young girl twenty two standing beside him if only he knew that she dances by herself alone they cry with ribbons in their hair outward they shout lord don t let me be scared and the dancers are by themselves alone and so they dance by themselves a waltz 51 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Meet the Creators meet the creators Amelia Shields b 2002 is a North Carolina based artist born raised in Greensboro She graduated from Davidson College with a Bachelor of Arts in studio art and art history in May 2024 In her oil paintings she immerses herself in the process of world building creating spaces that capture the essence of transition Influenced by the intricacies of natural patterns and the wonder of speculative fiction her work invites you to explore moments suspended between the conception and final establishment of a fantastical realm Isabelle Klauder was born in Burlington VT Klauder received her AA degree from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa FL and moved to Hendersonville NC in 2010 where she currently resides Klauder attended the University of North Carolina at Asheville where she received a BFA in figure painting in 2014 Klauder s oil paintings on fabric have been exhibited in solo group shows across the country Klauder s work explores the history of the painted female nude through the lens of the floral female genre Botanical patterns intertwine with the female figure creating a visual tapestry that celebrates the human form and speaks to the complex relationships between nature femininity Mara Davis Price is a born andraised North Carolinian writer After earning degrees in English and psychology from Barton College they earned an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte in 2021 Currently Mara works as an editor Their work has been published in Soft Star Magazine Beaver Magazine Ponder Review and Witness Appalachia to Hatteras Mara currently lives in Sanford NC and enjoys watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer reading crafting visiting antique shops and spending time with husband Christian and their two cats Michael Hill was born raised in upstate South Carolina He has a screenwriting degree from Western Carolina University and currently lives in Indian Land SC with his wife son He has published a number of poems short stories in regional journals and also creates comics with his brother artist R Case Hill Outside of writing Michael is an avid film photography enthusiast and a full time video editor Ella Kindt she her is a 3rd year English and creative writing major at Clemson University She was born raised in the marshes of Charleston SC She s been published in Susurrus and won the Clemson English Department s Award for Creative Writing in 2024 She draws inspiration from the landscape of South Carolina both the Lowcountry and the Upstate and she hopes to voice themes that resonate with Southerners everywhere She s an assistant editor for the South Carolina Review and the literary editor of The Chronicle A botanical painter illustrator based in Charlotte NC Anastasiya Arvest has loved art drawing since childhood She began her artistic career as an ornament tableware designer and worked as an art teacher for ten years Her artwork can be found in private collections in the US Germany Poland Estonia Spain and elsewhere In 2014 she began to study botanical illustration and enjoys this type of artistic expression She has visited about twelve countries and much of her subject matter comes from exploitations of nature in those locations Based in North Carolina she enjoys its rich nature and plant diversity Inspiration for Pearl Ginkgo Biloba artwork was found in one of the autumn walks in Charlotte Yujun Ginn is a Taiwanese American software developer who is deeply in love with words and doesn t have nearly 52 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Meet the Creators enough free time for them S he is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and prior Artist in Residence for the USC Honors College in 2018 19 and has also had work featured in The Rising Phoenix Review and One Sentence Poems Lydia Vaz is currently a junior in high school and is extremely passionate about art Her work primarily focuses on realism portraits experimental imagery and observational studies Lydia uses a range of mediums including acrylic oil and gouache paint and she has been practicing art from a young age She first visited South Carolina on a road trip with her family and was captivated by the scenery people there Since then she has further explored the region enjoying its landscape culture For her acrylic painting Pageant Lydia used a reference photo from the dress store Ann tique to create her work Rachael Lawson is a classically trained flutist singer and multiinstrumentalist Her music explores a variety of styles including folk indie video games and classical influences Her first EP Nowhere USA is a collection of songs she wrote earlier in life and during COVID when she really began to pursue songwriting Pure Honey her most recent album is inspired by nature especially bees She is currently based in Florida where she is pursuing a doctorate in music at Florida State University As a composer Rachael enjoys both songwriting and writing instrumental music Nina Rhoades was born raised in North Carolina as were several generations of her family She currently resides in Raleigh NC with her husband and two cats Her work focuses on themes of nostalgia existentialism the female experience and her time in the mental health and human services field as both a patient practitioner She enjoys the intersection of both modern traditional art via creating digitally but maintaining a painterly style Her photography work focuses on found objects discarded toys Her work can be found on Instagram via ninarhoadesart and Etsy at https ninarhoadesart etsy com Angela Acosta she her is a visiting assistant professor of Hispanic Studies at Davidson College in North Carolina Starting in August 2024 she will be teaching at the University of South Carolina as an assistant professor of Spanish She is a Rhysling finalist whose poems have appeared in Shoreline of Infinity Apparition Lit Radon Journal and Space Time She is author of the Elgin nominated collections Summoning Space Travelers Hiraeth Publishing 2022 and A Belief in Cosmic Dailiness Poems of a Fabled Universe Red Ogre Review 2023 Joanna Lothers is from Lancaster SC She received her BA in painting drawing from Anderson University in 2023 and currently works as a painter art educator In her work she explores the human perception of places and the way these experiences develop over time as they are shared Each painting begins as she slows down and experiences a natural space usually in the beautiful upstate South Carolina The painting first takes form as a sketch observed from nature then a plein air watercolor painting and lastly a finished oil piece Each painting serves as a point of connection between her first hand experience of the world and her viewers perception Brandi DeHaven is a creative nonfiction poetry writer with pieces featured in The Waccamaw Literary Journal Contrapuntos and Broken Ink She is a current read reviewer for The Town Square a veteran founded literary magazine Brandi has inhabited South Carolina her entire life from Aiken to the Upstate to the Lowcountry For her South Carolina offered scorching weather Spanish moss Masters traffic and proximity to Savannah GA her favorite city Her love for the macabre still being able to exist in places where the sun never stops shining inspired Teeth in the Branches and continues to inspire forthcoming works 53 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Meet the Creators Sydney Bollinger she her has an MS in environmental studies with a focus on environmental writing from the University of Montana Her creative work has been published in Northwest Review The Petigru Review Grimsy Literary Magazine Dunes Review and other places Her first zine Death Wish was published in 2023 She lives in Charleston SC with her partner and their two cats Follow her sydboll and find her work at sydneybollinger com Michelle Grana is a clay artist based in Greer SC She is a member of several galleries and her work can currently be found at White Rabbit Gallery in Travelers Rest SC where she is a guest artist Michelle makes both decorative functional pottery using stoneware clay and hand building techniques She enjoys allowing her pieces to evolve rather than trying to control them with the use of a wheel Her work intentionally reflects organic shapes and she sometimes allows building marks to show through She believes being able to clearly see that pieces are made by hand lets their uniqueness shine Follow her work on Instagram brushycreek_pottery Phillip McRorie is an educator artist based in the Charlotte metro area instructing dancers in releasebased modern techniques ballet and choreographic processes as well as generating new works as an independent artist guest choreographer Phillip completed his Bachelor of Arts in dance studies at Appalachian State University in 2018 and is a recent graduate of the Jacksonville University MFA Choreography program Before shifting to teaching full time he performed with Verge Dance Collective the Asheville Ballet and Caroline Calouche and Co His work centers the felt experience of the mover and aims to share that experience with others Levi J Mericle is a disabled queer poet writer songwriter hailing from Tucumcari NM He has been published in dozens of lit magazines journals such as Apricity Magazine University of Texas Austin Kaleidoscope Magazine Lunch Ticket s Amuse Bouche The South Carolina Review Mystery Tribune and more His song Whiskey Deep has won several awards and has been featured in magazines including Country Queer Wordgathering The Museum of Americana Punt Volat etc Levi has never lived in the Carolinas but he recalls a time he traveled through the Carolinas many years ago when his family was adopting his youngest sister He remembers thinking the scenery was one of the most beautiful sites he has ever seen He has also been published in the South Carolina Review at Clemson University So he has a personal connection love for the Carolinas Alexander Beets he him is a Puerto Rican writer from Roanoke Rapids NC He is pursuing an MA in creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte A lot of his work involves exploring the intersections effects of the industrialism classism that has evolved in rural North Carolina and what that looks like for the people still living there He has fallen in love with exploring the many different avenues of documentary poetry You can find some of his work in Nova Literary Arts Magazine Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine and Querencia Press Lessle Rodriguez is a 20 year old majoring in psychology at her local university who partakes in creating art as a hobby pastime She has always been fascinated by drawing people and how she can attempt to capture preserve their beauty in whatever song best fits their grace Kennedy Cole is an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina Wilmington majoring in creative writing and pursuing a certificate in publishing A North Carolina native Kennedy lived in Raleigh NC until she began her college career in Wilmington while her family now resides in Hickory NC She works as the managing editor of Atlantis A Creative Magazine and has writing published in Second Story Journal and Oakland Arts Review 54 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Meet the Creators In the future Kennedy sees herself in the publishing industry creating spaces for writers of color and other members of the LGBTQ community You can find her on Instagram kennedyreadsandwrites Laura J Bill is an emerging artist who lives works in Morganton NC Life in the Foothills suits her approach to art life well living in the present moment loving nature and a healthy dose of individualism wanderlust Her style mirrors her zeal for life with its vibrant color saturation and fauvist energy Bill s primary medium is acrylic but she also works in watercolor printmaking and fiber arts She is passionate about collaborative art installations having previously participated in The Violet Protest Radical Fiber Threads Connecting Art Science and Game of Shrooms A Black queer poet living in Durham NC Sebastian Ellios he him is constantly asking what it means to partake in the world human ecosystems He processes his existentialism by using words to summarize experiences which reach far beyond them Raised by Black women both literally literarily his work is a reflection of the resiliency love he learned from them His work has been published by the Tabadul Collective Beyond Words Magazine Moonstone Press and Fruitslice Caroline Fairey Meese grew up in Estill SC She graduated from the South Carolina Governor s School for the Arts and Humanities in 2016 and the South Carolina Honors College in 2020 Her chapbook LOWERCOUNTRY was selected by Monica Brashears as the winner of the elsewhere chapbook prize and will be published in 2025 Her writing can be found in the Broadkill Review storySouth Jellyfish Review Cardiff Review and SplashLand among other publications She lives in Queens with her husband and edits composition literature textbooks at W W Norton Grayson Anthony is a Greenville based performer choreographer dance teacher In the spring of 2019 she completed Broadway Dance Center s Professional Semester program in NYC In May of 2022 she graduated from Anderson University with a Bachelor of Arts in communications digital media a minor in theatre Over the past 5 years she s choreographed performed in a culmination of 16 musicals most recently at Greenville Theatre South Carolina Children s Theatre In July of 2023 she choreographed her first full length dance concert entitled The Graduate which raised 5 000 for a suicide prevention non profit In February 2024 she produced her second dance concert called Yours Truly which featured multiple dance styles choreographers Lacey Lindsey is a writer educator born raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains She moved from the Upstate of South Carolina to the Lowcountry to attend the College of Charleston where she received a Bachelor of Science in sociology and completed coursework in historic preservation urban planning Her work is primarily influenced by references to film Appalachian vegetation cycles of generational violence and the poetics of memory She currently works as an elementary school teacher in Charleston SC Rachel Beal is a poet visual artist living in Salem VA Her work explores 21st century themes of interruption information overload often incorporating salvaged materials from advertisements packaging and functional texts Born in Augusta GA she moved to Winston Salem NC to attend graduate school in 2021 In her years there she sought to learn about local wildlife plants developing an interest in weeds birds in particular These days she frequents the trails behind her Virginia apartment and creates poetry reflective of her 21st century concerns Born raised at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains Kenzie McGregor calls the small picturesque town of Travelers Rest SC home She lives in a log cabin loves the magic of the mountains and seeks to weave nature into the fabric of her words Kenzie is about to complete her MFA in fiction writing from Converse University and has recently discovered her love for the ultra compressed hauntingly beautiful prose often found 55 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Meet the Creators in flash fiction William Underwood is a Charlottebased artist whose creative journey has taken him from the world of dance then culinary arts and now into the realm of painting After an injury he transitioned from dance to kitchens and quickly ascended to executive chef status for innovative restaurants Now his art is influenced by his meditation on the lives of prehistoric humans and infinite wonder he has observed in his young children Underwood s work is a mixture of raw energy boundless technique often incorporating local clay soil burning his works over live fire and weaving holes through the burned canvas with twine Madeline O Neill is a junior at Georgia Southern University pursuing a degree in studio art as well as creative writing Her work is profoundly emotional as she explores what it is like to be from a religious family and then head off to a non religious university in a modern world She also talks about how hard it is to have one s world gutted from the inside because of this abrupt shift and the adversity she faces for being an Irish stereotype yet simultaneously trying to break the cycle the mold that attempts to contain her Briana Meade is a writer from Apex NC who though not born in North Carolina has made the state her adopted home for over ten years Her favorite part of the Carolinas is the incredible biodiversity proliferation of flora fauna She has previously published work in Relief Journal and Literary Mama and she draws her inspiration from the quotidian daily moments of her life as well as the private heartbreaks tragedy that remain a deep undercurrent of human life fiction within her classroom walls sparked her curiosity endlessly She has a passion for storytelling in all forms photography being a recent art form she is pursuing She hopes that through her writing she can connect with others and display the importance of compassion vulnerability in her stories Jen Carmiel is a Florida born South Carolina based figure painter She spent her early childhood years playing in fresh water springs with her four sisters and she graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of South Florida in December of 2020 In 2023 Carmiel relocated to Columbia SC where she fell in love with the rich art filled local culture Her paintings depict feminine figures that are dreamlike unapologetic in their zest for life Andrew Williams is a creative writer from Orangeburg SC Andrew has been writing from a young age and expanded his writing ability after studying creative writing at the South Carolina Governor s School for Arts and Humanities His poetry often focuses heavily on nature religion and what it means to exist as a young person in the modern world He is currently a student at the University of South Carolina studying biology with a minor in English He can often be found hiding in his room reading a book climbing a magnolia tree or outside staring at lizards Philip Andrew Lisi lives in Lancaster PA where he teaches English by day and writes poetry flash fiction by night alongside the ghost of his cantankerous Wichien Maat cat Sela His work has appeared in Third Wednesday Last Leaves October Hill Change Seven Sparks of Calliope and elsewhere Kamryan Collis is a journalism major with a minor and focus on criminal justice at High Point University Her goal is to one day be a crime reporter for a newspaper or digital site She grew up in Raleigh NC where she was influenced to follow her dreams of becoming a writer The poetry Olivia D Angelo is a creative writing major at University of North Carolina at Asheville She received an honorable mention in the A R Ammons Poetry Contest and is to be printed in their collection The Mule Poems She also has a forthcoming poem in The Penwood Review She works as 56 Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine

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Meet the Creators Credits an editorial intern for The Great Smokies Review and will be starting a position as a reporting intern for the Christian magazine Koines n She lived outside of Raleigh NC most of her life relocating to the Asheville area in 2020 She plans to stay and write in North Carolina s beautiful mountains after graduating Hannah Martha Twiddy is a family name from Northeast NC Having grown up on the Pasquotank River she is an avid sailor She travels the world interviewing people on healthy living with a keen sense to incorporate culture character Katherine Anne Ledbetter dog fanclub is a North Carolina born raised artist currently residing in Tallahassee FL As a child she performed all over the Triad in various musical operatic performances Ms Ledbetter formally studied classical voice at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston Salem NC While her main focus is opera she also enjoys performing in the more modern or indie style She released her first full length album under her solo project name dog fanclub entitled it won t last forever in December 2022 and has a new one on the way She also has a dog named Texas Pete no relation Instagrams katoutboy dogfanclubmusic credits Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine is a multimedia arts magazine primarily showcasing young adult creators in the Carolinas Our mission is to provide a multi sensory immersive platform for young adult creatives that reveals the way various art forms can work together to tell the true stories of our human experience We publish short stories scripts poetry art photography music dance in a digital multimedia format on a tri annual basis Whether you submit a document image file audio file or video file our team loves to see creators test the boundaries of their art form to bring their passions interpretations experiences and messages to life Want to add your voice to the arts community of the Carolinas Submit your creative work through our Duosuma platform at duotrope com duosuma submit carolina muse literaryand arts magazine 1Yu2X Please view the specific requirements for your art form as well as our submission window dates at www carolina muse com submit 57 Vo l u m e I V N o I I M a y 2 0 2 4

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Carolina Muse Literary Arts Magazine ISSN 2700 7030 carolina muse com

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