Cameron University English students honored for creative writing

 Cameron University students Seth Copeland of Indiahoma and Charles Kirby of Lawton were honored with awards for their submissions to the Page One Gallery, part of the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival hosted by East Central University last weekend. The Page One Gallery features a single page of original creative writing in any genre that has not been previously published. Submissions could be poems, one-page short works, or the first page of a short story. 

Copeland and Kirby, both sophomores majoring in English, received two of the three awards presented.

Kirby’s winning submission was a piece of flash fiction (a short story of less than 1,000 words) titled “RBI’s.” Copeland was honored for his poem, “American Picturesque.”

Both works follow.

 American Picturesque

by Seth Tyler Copeland

 

The daft, askance head

of a 1943 mannequin leans

further to the left

in her lonely apartment,

the upstairs room

of the old Beasely Building

on 71st Street.

Dusty windows

filter the sunlight in,

and cast a grainy

human image,

cockeyed dog

curiosity.

 

A crack waterfalling

the forehead,

a chip

out of her melon lips

and a

stale corpse bride dress

all attest to how

derelict her purpose has

become.

Otherwise,

she is still beautiful,

sitting dignified,

ever a lady.

 

She never really lived life,

like the kind she once advertised:

the sweet celluloid girl

with just enough

independence

to wear a

pillbox hat,

to smoke

Virginia Slims,

to hide

her bruises,

a black & white absolute

for a black & white era.

 

But never really living it

means never really dying it.

She still sits pretty

in this musty room,

while real life

lies plastic

and leathered

in a jetsam American grave.

 

RBI’s

By Charles Kirby

 

      I’ve been afraid of certain things- loud noises, the dark, the boogey man- but you learn that those things don’t touch you, hurt you, or hate you. That everything that scares you about them is what you don’t know about them- not what you do. I learned too soon the only thing I feared was hearing my dad open the front door after I was in bed.

      For a long time, I thought if I lied there quietly and pretended to sleep he wouldn’t bother me. I would spend hours practicing pretending to sleep. My sister would watch me and then I would watch her. We’d assess the other’s performance like inept drama teachers unsure of what we were looking for from the other.

      In the hours after my mother turned off my bedroom light, I’d concentrate on the vertical stripes of my bedroom wallpaper imagining that if I could step between the stripes I would go to my sister’s room next door and we’d escape through the back of her closet to somewhere better. I didn’t know what that place would be, but it would better than that house at night. It was childish, but we were children. 

      The sounds of his heavy steps up the stairs were an ominous beat- one, two, three- till he had ascended all twenty-two steps and then the fifteen steps to my room. He’d open the door and sometimes he would be completely engulfed in shadows like a dark, unfamiliar form. Other nights the moon coming through my window lit half of his face and I couldn’t pretend. But I could always see the bottle in his hand. 
      He’d come near me, pause, then sit on the bed and roughly pat me on the stomach. Sitting there quietly in the dark he’d stare at the wall and his scent would violate my nose. I used to think that was just what he smelled like, like gasoline or the cleaning stuff Mom used. 
      “What’s Joe DiMaggio hitting?”

      I’d think quickly then answer slowly so he would understand, “381.”

      “Good, good slugger,” then he’d rub my hair and walk out leaving my door hanging open. It was the same test and different players every night. I learned not to fail. Eleven steps to my sister’s room and then I’d fall asleep.

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April 7, 2011

PR#11-066