gfcmuse volume 2 i ii gfcmuse volume 2 Great Falls College Montana State University Leigh Ann Ruggiero, Editor Spring 2017 Copyright © 2017 by Great Falls College Montana State University All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal. First Printing: 2017 Great Falls College Montana State University 2100 16 th Ave South Great Falls, Montana 59405 http://www.gfcmsu.edu/webs/gfcmuse/ Credits EDITOR Leigh Ann Ruggiero, MFA READERS Rachael Gray Hawk Heather Palermo Michael Shell Mandy Wright SPECIAL THANKS Leanne Frost GFCMuse is in its second year as a journal of arts on the Great Falls College Montana State University campus and also includes work from the Unviersity of Great Falls. GFC MSU is a two-year college with associate degrees in the arts and sciences; UGF is a Catholic liberal arts college which provides a range of liberal arts and professional degrees. This issue of GFCMuse is meant to showcase the talent of the students, faculty, and staff at both schools. All submissions, including a bio in the third-person, should be sent as an attachment to gfclitjournal@gmail.com. GFCMuse is published with 3D Issue and can be found here: http://www.gfcmsu.edu/webs/gfcmuse/index.html Research has been cited in MLA Style. Cover art: Calliope, Muse of Epic Poetry. Charles Meynier [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Saint-Andrew’s Queen font by Jellyka Nerevan Contents Editor's Note .............................................................................................. 9 Next Stop Great Falls............................................................................. 10 middle ......................................................................................................... 11 Grand Union Hotel ................................................................................. 12 Free .............................................................................................................. 13 Fog along the Missouri River ............................................................. 14 Aha Moment ............................................................................................. 15 Gone ............................................................................................................. 16 Many Glacier............................................................................................. 18 C.M. Russell ............................................................................................... 19 Trauma Bond ........................................................................................... 20 Les Papillons ............................................................................................ 21 Taormina 49 ............................................................................................. 22 Vienna ......................................................................................................... 23 Haiku ........................................................................................................... 24 Sunset on the Missouri ......................................................................... 25 Old Train Bridge ..................................................................................... 26 Artist............................................................................................................ 27 Refinery before the Expansion.......................................................... 29 Cold Smoke ............................................................................................... 30 Fool Who Hath Loved You .................................................................. 31 Lichtenberg Figure N ............................................................................ 32 Lichtenberg Figure Z ............................................................................. 32 Yet Here I Am............................................................................................33 River Sunrise ............................................................................................34 Thought I Could .......................................................................................35 The Stars and Stripes.............................................................................37 A Hero Given Wings ...............................................................................38 Lost Lake Is Found .................................................................................39 Into the Wild .............................................................................................40 The Road of Life .......................................................................................45 Contributor Notes ...................................................................................46 viii Editor’s Note Here we are in our second year. After a rocky start—looking for sub- missions and looking and looking—we have the means to showcase the craftsmanship (or should it be “workmanship”?) of the students and faculty at Great Falls College and the University of Great Falls. The rocky start might make sense, given our country’s current artistic cli- mate. A year and a half ago, Margaret Atwood, though a Canadian herself, told NPR that the growing interest in dystopias is “coming out of people’s feeling that things are going haywire.” 1 And when I at- tended the conference for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs in Washington, DC, this year, there was a growing concern about the value of language in a world where “alternative facts” and “fake news” reign. Perhaps we are all a little at sea when it comes to how to move forward. Everything has changed and nothing has. Any attempt at communica- tion, whether through words, pictures, sounds, or any combination thereof, opens the door for misinterpretation. It’s important to note that many of our submissions this time around are pieces of art and poems, genres that leaves more room for misinterpretation. We know how this works. We move forward. We write. We focus. We paint. We manipu- late. We tell our stories however we can. -Leigh Ann 1 quoted in Lynn Neary’s interview, “Now is Not the Time for Realistic Fiction, Says Margaret Atwood,” for NPR’s All Things Considered, September 30, 2015. 9 Next Stop Great Falls Doug Zander Photography 10 middle Chelsea Hart i started writing in the middle of the book in the middle of the page because isn’t life like that always in the middle of something middle of the day—almost lunch middle of the week—Friday Friday Friday middle of the month—bills again middle of the year—what have I done with it middle of your 20s, 30s, then— middle of your life in the middle of the road, if only we knew how to get out of the damned middle wouldn’t that be something. 11 Grand Union Hotel Doug Zander Photograph 12 Free Rachael Gray Hawk In a time before the world got complicated, I ran with the coyotes. Sang with the wolves under the swollen, pale belly of the moon. Spirit free and uncaged. The wind whispered my name and the mud sucked on my toes. The rain bathed my soul. The clouds formed soft wisps that blended with peaches and pinks of the setting sun. At the top of the mountain, I looked out at the sun and Earth with her creatures, happy and safe. I needed this so badly. In the distance, I can hear reality slowly tugging at these strings. But I refuse to move. I crave to howl with the wolves and to let the wind run its fingers through my hair. I can feel the sun warming my face. Here, before the world told me who to be, my soul is free. 13 Fog along the Missouri River Doug Zander Photograph 14 Aha Moment Kristina M. Rauscher Mixed media, collage 15 Gone Chelsea Hart I tried stitching time to my veins, to stop the world from turning, To keep you from burning into the ashes of memory But the words you needed were wet paper on my tongue And I’m older now than I was then How ugly it is to know one’s self inside/outside/inside There is only black behind my teeth, Intentions stain my fingers, soak through the sheets of this unfolded desire And everything these hands can ever do will only ever be the sum Of the things they have never done—will never do This bloody thing, this withered heart convulsing in the chest Of every smiling person Half-eaten by that toothed hunger of need Where does the paper mask end—the skin and bones, the aching flesh begin My tongue is seared With the promises I never should have made—never meant Words spit into the dark will follow me always Like string tied to my backwards ribs When will these lungs, broken from the box, Learn how to take in air the way they were meant When will the gas spill of my soul Find the spark that will consume it—violent, beautiful, finally worth- while When will these hours spent collecting the ashes, smearing them on my skin 16 Be anything other than Wasted Wasted Wasted Time When does the sun do anything other than burn 17 Many Glacier Doug Zander Photograph 18 C.M. Russell Doug Zander Photograph 19 Trauma Bond Rachael Gray Hawk I keep asking myself why I did what I did. Was it wrong? Was it right? I don’t know. It’s complicated. I miss your screams and fits of rage. I miss it when you’d straighten me out. Take me down a few pegs. You were mean to me, so mean, But you were always there. What happened to, “I’ll always be here for you”? You left me hanging. Perhaps we shared a trauma bond because You hurt me so much. Maybe your kindness came in sharp words. Whatever it was, your leaving hurt the most. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. It’s a curse. Everything between us was spoken aloud, No secrets, no guessing games. Then my bliss was shattered. You burst into flame and came Running, running… I held you in my arms, my soul burning. My friend I miss your evil heart, Your cruel love. I miss your meanness. 20 Les Papillons Michelle Hill Mixed media, acrylic 21 Taormina 49 Michelle Hill Mixed media, acrylic 22 Vienna Michelle Hill Mixed media, acrylic 23 Haiku Kristina Rauscher Harmoniously, song birds chirp a merry tune. Bells sound. School begins. Two plus two is four, but when two plus two is three, the owl will ask why. Trees fall. Critters run to escape the blazing flames. Fire consumes all. Humans stroll along before flames furiously flare up around them. Colorful leaves fall painted red, orange, yellow viewed through windows. Leaves floating around in the breeze creates colors which shine in her eyes. 24 Sunset on the Missouri Doug Zander Photograph 25 Old Train Bridge Doug Zander Photograph 26 Artist Chelsea Hart all you need is a madness a brokenness a twisted piece maybe it’s tucked under your ribs or smeared on the curve of your brain or in place of your fingernails or filling your kidneys or chewing your food all you need is the beast of you your hopeless horror gnawing, hungry something to throw yourself towards into in front of something to quit sleep for something you can’t name write about it on napkins gum wrappers the back of your hand give color to its weighted shape line it on city brick in the dark this beast this you 27 sculpt its teeth, give it bite give it a tune, b minor burn it out one drag at a time learn its taste mixed with whiskey this beast this you do everything be anything except complete nothing worthwhile ever came from wholeness art is born of horror and we are beasts with a fair face, on the throne 28 Refinery before the Expansion Doug Zander Photograph 29 Cold Smoke Mandilynn Lee Photograph 30 Fool Who Hath Loved You Rachael Gray Hawk Just when I think all the traces of you had scattered, I hear about you. Suddenly, my heart quickens. Did you get my number? Did she give it to you so you could call me? No, she said. My heart begins to slow… no? Why’d she tell you no?! Ugh. I slumped in my chair. I miss your voice, old friend. I miss your angry criticism, Your annoying singing, your pictures, Your laughter. We fell apart and Emma hated me for it. She loved talking to you forever. Loved how you’d make her hit me Whenever I would cuss. Those were the days, ah yes, those were the days… She wanted to see you so much, Mom did too. I know, inside, I wanted to see you too. But I closed my heart to you, Feeling the worry so deep. I cried tears of remembered love. Tears of a fool who hath loved you. Or perhaps it was you who were the fool Who hath loved me? 31 Lichtenberg Figure N Lichtenberg Figure Z Dan Casmier Two Lichtenberg figures produced on quarter-inch plywood using a 12,000V neon sign transformer as the electrical source 32 Yet Here I Am Cayden R. Diefenbach I am beginning to Realize You must like using the Broken pieces of myself to Fill your endless voids. You suck up everything I Have. My love. My spirit. My happiness. My time. Everything. Yet here I am. A glutton for punishment. Wanting more. Break me. Strike me. Snap my legs. So I cannot leave Even if I wanted to. 33 River Sunrise Mandilynn Lee Photograph 34 Thought I Could Rachael Gray Hawk I have tried for years. Tried talking to her. Tried writing to her. I tried. And she left me in the rain, abandoned like a rusty bike. I had seen all of her failures. Known all of her flaws. I loved her still. She let this beast tear apart our family. Threw me to the ground and laughed in my face. I cried, my voice wracked in pain. I had to fight. Had to fight back or I would be demolished. I shook in fear, my fists trembling. He attacked me. I reacted as any wounded animal would, I bit back. I attacked him with a ferocity that I had craved for years. All of the pain, humiliation, and shame he had caused our family came back to me in that instant. He pushed me hard. And she did nothing. Sat at the table, drunk. I screamed, enraged at her carelessness. Almost like I wasn't even there. She screamed at me to leave. Go. Get out. My heart broke. How could you do that to me? You were all I ever loved. When you love something dearly, it becomes the only thing that can hurt you, truly hurt you. It becomes heartbreak and betrayal. And I cried because she was never on my side. His bruises were left on our skin... She didn't care that he put them there. Didn't care if we had warmth in the winter... if we had food in the fridge... if we had clean clothes. Our home was rotten. Decomposing and I was dying with it. I had to leave, my heart was poisoned. I had to leave them in their ruins. I couldn't save them anymore. I couldn't keep them safe. I had to leave or I'd die there. I regretted leaving the instant I got in the car. My fingers were cold and my heart hurt like it had been 35 extracted from my chest. The only person I thought I could trust was the one who was throwing me away. My heart has never truly healed. It has been given a second chance. Only his love could help me through all of it. Their love was poison. I see it now. I had tried too long to love her. She was feeding me poison in every hug. In every lie her lips had the misfortune to tell. And I HATE, truly Hate, that I miss her so. 36 The Stars and Stripes Doug Zander Photograph 37 A Hero Given Wings Elizabeth Evans Just seventeen years old, you joined the army. Little did you know, you would soon be recognized As World War II’s most decorated soldier. Fighting off two-hundred and forty enemy Germans, You became an army legend, not yet reaching twenty-one. Earning the Medal of Honor and three Purple Hearts, We proudly hold you as an American icon. At twenty-four years old, Hollywood re-found your fame. In forty-four movies and a TV series, You became a favorite in our homes. Ironically your last movie ever filmed, “A Time for Dying” was never finished. On May 28, 1971, after a fateful plane crash, Your life was tragically cut short at just forty-five. The world then knew that something dear was lost. On a caisson drawn by six black horses, The American flag draped across your casket, You were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A Hero, Audie Murphy, Heaven granted your wings, which were truly earned. 38 Lost Lake Is Found Doug Zander Photograph 39 Into the Wild Maria Sylvester Into the Wild directed and written by Sean Penn and adapted from the book by John Krakauer. This story documents the life of a young American adventurer named Chris McCandless, who had left home af- ter graduation to travel alone across the Western United States. After two years, his journey ended when he traveled into the Alaskan wilder- ness and died of starvation. Sean Penn’s interpretation of this story was not so much tragic as sympathetic to the American idealism of adven- ture and freedom. As a young, middle-class graduate in the early nineties, Chris McCandless felt constricted in his personal and profes- sional life. He didn’t feel a need to prove his worth through a high- paying career or by owning many possessions; he also suffered from having a highly-dysfunctional home life. He increasingly felt trapped by systematic pretense and a false sense of security and wanted to test and find himself without interference from his family. Chris’s escape from that kind of life made him incredibly happy, as his letters and journals confirm. The accounts of his anger towards his family and friends, were reactions against domestic abuse and the pressures put on a late twentieth century American. He felt angry at a system that found material success to be more important than personal happiness, which was something his parents firmly believed in, at the cost of their relationship and their children’s wellbeing. Since these facts about his background were not clearly outlined in the book, Sean Penn made a point to reference them. While the book documented his travels and was based on a factual narrative, Sean Penn's movie clearly showed Chris McCandless's point of view during his adventure. The book was a reporting of the bare facts of Chris’s life and read like a mystery novel since he was a private person, whose full motiva- tions for leaving home were not entirely known. Sean Penn made a point of interviewing family members and friends in order to fully un- derstand his character and make a truthful and sympathetic film adaption. The end result was an insightful glimpse into the character of 40 an individualistic adventurer who needed isolation and healing in na- ture. In an interview describing the process of directing and writing the film, Penn felt drawn to the journey that Chris McCandless placed upon himself, despite his tragic end—“Chris McCandless lived too short, that's true, but he, in my view, put an entire life from birth to the wis- dom of age into those years” (qtd. in Grossman para. 15). His story and idealism had a strong effect on nearly everyone in- volved with the film. In an interview, Emile Hirsch, who played Chris McCandless, described the experience of filming as unique—"I think the underlying theme about love and forgiveness and spirituality over- whelmed any type of negativity that can sometimes go onto a film set, and we really felt like we were making something special. That it would mean something to people. Because it meant something to us" (qtd. in Riley para 14). Into the Wild was divided into chapters, the same as the book and followed the same flashbacks of Chris’s experience alone in the Alas- kan wilderness. The book and movie also complemented each other as the director ensured the inclusion of the perspectives of Chris’s family, friends and acquaintances while empathizing with the viewpoint of the main character. Lines of dialogue were used from interviews and Chris’s journals and letters and most of the scenes from the film were shot on location where McCandless had traveled. The movie also shared the final shot of the film with the last description from the book. John Krakauer described leaving the abandoned bus where Chris McCandless had died, from a helicopter. In the film, one of the final shots leaves Chris McCandless’s smiling face and flies out of a window and up into the sky, paralleling the book and symbolizing the departure of his soul from his body. The personality of Chris McCandless in the film was a bit different from the book, where there was emphasis on his anger and abrasiveness in reacting rebelliously to his parent’s admonitions that got in his way. Into the Wild shows Chris as more relaxed and happy when he is on the road and interacting with people he met in his travels, such as fellow nomads and farmers. In the film he is shown as uncomfortable and an- noyed when forced to sit at an awkward family dinner. In scenes where he is backpacking on his own, he gets to climb trees, paddle down riv- ers, walk deserted paths, scramble down hillsides, and when he runs 41 with wild caribou in a field in Alaska, he smiles with tears in his eyes (Into the Wild). To be free from a restricting home life and do as he pleased as an independent adult must have made Chris incredibly happy and exuber- ant. The accounts of his anger toward his family and acquaintances were accounts of his reaction against his home life and the pressures put on a late-twentieth-century American. He was imprisoned in a role that he didn’t want, where he was an honors student and a high achiever, who was obliged to make his family proud. His parents also lived a life of hypocrisy in the name of American success. He had a right to be angry at a system that rated material gain as more important than personal happiness. He was also part of a highly dysfunctional family life, where his father would routinely beat Chris's mother and she, in turn, would refuse to acknowledge the abuse. While he was not physically harmed he was emotionally traumatized by the actions of his father as well as his mother’s denial of her mistreatment. His escape from his life marked how intense, stubborn, and idealistic Chris was, as well as how Chris’s family, friends and acquaintances could not un- derstand or empathize with his actions. The movie used water and shots of the sky as symbols and high- lights for civilization, nature and Chris’s character. There were several scenes where water was used as a personal obstacle in the narrative. Chris’s vehicle was made inoperable by a flash flood in the desert and he had to continue travelling on foot. This scene proved his resilience in the face of danger and hardship. Chris also swims in the ocean to overcome his fear of open water and reach out to another character who is in pain. At this point he is shown as unselfish and compassionate. He kayaks down dangerous river rapids as a further test against his fear, and he continues a large part of his travels on the open water. Later, in Alaska when he is all alone, he floats by himself down a river. At this point he has embraced adventure and nature. At the final point in his journey, spring flooding in an Alaskan river prevents him from leaving the wilderness and he dies as a result. The symbolism that can be taken from these scenes is Chris over- coming his fear of nature and finding a sense of mastery and peace with it, especially in a scene where he floats gently and smoothly down a clear mountain river. But then water tests and threatens him, and he is ultimately overcome by its natural power: ultimately, nature prevents 42 his escape and return to the civilization that he had previously rejected. Since he has chosen nature, it claims him without pity or remorse. Na- ture is healing, but also dangerous. In an interview, Penn stated that he understood Chris McCandless’s need to isolate himself from civiliza- tion and live dangerously since the “wilderness is relentlessly authentic” (qtd. in Grossman para. 3). Even though Chris was ready to go back to a treacherous and corrosive relationship with his family and society, he made a few too many mistakes to enable his return. There were several shots of the sky which supplemented dialogue and voiceovers throughout the film. When Chris has a line of dialogue where he mentions the corruption of civilization, there is a close-up of a clear, blue sky crowded with jets. In other shots there are open skies with clouds, which coordinates with scenes where Chris feels free and happy in nature. At the movie’s death scene Chris looks out of a win- dow from his bed and there are several shots of the sky that menacingly zoom in toward the sun and distort wildly as if mimicking his physical pain and fear of death. In one of the final shots a lone jet appears to be flying up out of the atmosphere, signifying Chris’ soul leaving the earth. In a previous scene where Chris listens to a fatherly character talk about forgiveness and love, there is a shot of the sun coming out from behind clouds in a bright noon sky as if to show Chris’s state of mind upon hearing those words. The film also focuses on the meaningful relationships that McCandless formed during his travels, which helped him gradually come to forgive his parents. He met several characters whom Penn in- directly linked to family figures. The first was a maternal figure who was a nomad who had lost a son and made Chris question his judgement about his mother’s mistakes. A brother figure was found in an employer who offered him advice and guidance in his travels and who supported his decisions. He also found a sister figure in a young girl who was romantically interested in him, but whom he felt responsible for. Lastly, he found a father figure in an older man who had lost his wife and son and who reminded Chris of his obligation to forgive and return to his own family. Through these encounters, Sean Penn outlined how Chris must have formed friendships and trust with these individuals and how he found a way to make peace with his parents and himself. While he was never able to resolve the issues with his family, McCandless’s di- aries and writings that were recovered with his body indicated that he 43 was ready to forgive them and move on with his life back in American society. This movie is an accusation against the rush-and-go mentality of present-day America. Part of the controversy surrounding Chris McCandless’s actions was his refusal of wealth and the comforts and safety of habit and custom as well as his refusal to contact his parents. Yet his story calls into question the true meaning of success in modern life. It also highlights how much pain is caused by those who seek power, possessions, and prestige over self-worth and happiness. Chris McCandless was a person who sought meaning in the silence and im- posing beauty of nature. His refusal to conform to empty rules and his desire to find some peace in solitude is a reminder that we too should find an authentic life for ourselves and that we don’t need permission to do it. Works Cited Into The Wild. Dir. Sean Penn. Perf. Emile Hirsch. Paramount Vantage, 2007. DVD. Grossman, Lev. "Nature Boys." Time International (Canada Edi- tion) 170.13 (2007): 53. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 2 May 2016. Riley, Jenelle. "Wild' Thing." Back Stage East 48.49 (2007): 17A- 38A. Business Source Complete. Web. 28 Apr. 2016. 44 The Road of Life Doug Zander Photograph 45 Contributor Notes Dan Casmier has been a full-time chemistry faculty and natural sci- ences department chair at Great Falls College Montana State University since the Fall of 2012 after two years of adjunct instruction. He teaches face-to-face and hybrid lecture/lab classes in organic and general chem- istry. Cayden R. Diefenbach is the author of “Yet Here I Am.” Elizabeth Evans was born in Spokane, Washington, but was raised in Montana. She loves being outdoors while riding her horses, which led her to the career choice of becoming an equine veterinarian. Elizabeth watches old movies and TV shows, which are mostly Westerns. Audie Murphy is one of her favorite actors, and she wanted to pay tribute to this special hero. He, among many other cowboys, are so much a part her life. They have all made Elizabeth into the person she is today and the person she hopes to be in the future. Rachael Gray Hawk is a Native American poet who grew up writing as a way to escape from reality for a while. She loves to dabble in cre- ative writing, especially science fiction pieces. Chelsea Hart lives in Great Falls, Montana, with her husband and their small dog. She will be graduating from Great Falls College with an Associate of Arts this spring semester and plans to continue her educa- tion at a four-year school, where she hopes to study English and History. Michelle Hill was born and raised in Billings, Montana, and has loved drawing and painting from a young age. She attended Montana State University in Bozeman where she earned her bachelor's degree in psy- chology with a minor in English literature. She went on to earn her master's degree in counseling from the University of Great Falls in 2004. She worked in community mental health for over a decade before 46 returning to Walden University to pursue her doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision. Michelle was hired on as an Assistant Pro- fessor of Psychology and Counseling in 2015. She has dabbled in various art forms over the years including mixed-media acrylics, pot- tery, oil painting, and writing. She began working on her artwork in earnest when her husband, Curtis, was deployed to Afghanistan with the Army Reserves from 2010 to 2011. When not working on her dis- sertation, she spends her spare time reading and traveling, which both serve as an inspiration for her artwork. Mandilynn Lee is currently an adjunct instructor for the GFC MSU nursing program and an RN at Benefis. She has always loved photog- raphy and continues to search for moments in life to capture in ways people may not see. She has a love for scenery and black and white photos, but says, “Living in Montana allows for true brilliant colors to come alive in our outdoors. You just have to take the time to appreciate what we have here surrounding us every day.” Kristina Rauscher is from Conrad, Montana, where she works as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant. She is attending the University of Great Falls and will be graduating in the May of 2017. Her major is mathe- matics. Maria Sylvester is the author of “Into the Wild.” Doug Zander is a welding instructor and photographer. His dad in- spired him to start taking pictures four years ago which developed into a passionate hobby. He has a skill not only for teaching others but for seeing the beauty in things and shares this through his photography. He is the proud owner of Zander Art Gallery. 47 48