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Volume 36, Spring 2019


McKenna Belec ("Pink" and "Friendship") loves drawing and wants to get a degree in art to further her knowledge and skills in art. She says, "I one day hope that I will be able to inspire others with my work."

Emily Burns ("Vibrant Colors") has always loved writing, enjoys the Creative Writing Club immensely, and hopes to contribute more in the following semesters. Co-authoring “Vibrant Colors” was a pleasure, and she enjoyed sitting around a table with her friends to compose it.

Tyrus Cretens ( "Vampire's Fears" and "Vibrant Colors") has always loved the creativity in his head and how he expresses it, be it acting in theater, writing poems and short stories, or just being himself.

Sophia Dao ("The Wolf's Tears" and "The Swirl") is an international student in her first year at UW-Green Bay, Marinette campus. So far, Sophia has been having a lot of memorable experiences here at the university, and she is excited to come back after summer as a sophomore.

Zhou Dongqiang ("Armin" and "Me") is from Zhejiang province in southern China and has been living in America for two years. He is an art major and enjoys sketching in black and white.

Jason Hile ("Crumbling Ruins") wanted to see if he was able to do this thing called creative writing. He hopes "Crumbling Ruins" is able to create a vivid image for you, the reader, that he tried to create with his words.

So Hee Erin Jung ("Untitled 3") says, "My name is So Hee Jung, and people who live in America call me Erin. I am an international student at UW-Green Bay, Marinette campus, and I am from South Korea."

James T. LaMalfa ("April" and "Nursing Home Resident") earned a B.A., M.A., and M.F.A from UW-Milwaukee and UW-Madison. He retired from UW-Marinette in 2013. He has created major works of sculpture at NWTC and public art at UW-Green Bay, Marinette campus (Harlequin on the theater building and “Oprheus” in the garden). Public art in Marinette includes “The Great Wave” at Ely and Main, and the rotating fish sculpture in Waterfront Park, Menominee, MI.

Cassidy MacArthur ("Repainting Season" and "Leave the Light On") is a creative writer who has loved poetry since childhood, sitting up at night with a flashlight reading poetry collections under the covers. She is indebted to the writing form because it has been an invaluable outlet for her when she needs to express herself.

Abigail Marquardt ("Cry" and "This is My Letter to the World I Grew Up With") likes to read and write in her spare time. She also likes spending her time outdoors while writing or reading.

David Maxey ("Vibrant Colors") enjoys covering his head in scarves and pretending to be a ninja.

Claire Meyers ("Untitled 4") is still standing in the spot in her photo, waiting for the bubbles to tell her their secrets.

Chau Pham ("Happiness" and "Yellow Wall, Red Brick, Blue Curtains") is an international student from Vietnam. She loves art, writing, and traveling. She desires to be an entrepreneur and a part-time artist!

Gabrielle Ramirez ("Blood" and "My Greatest Challenge") is a Studio Arts major and loves being in the Creative Writing Club and VPAC, as they allow her to express herself creatively alongside fellow enthusiasts. Her love of literature and the arts was fostered from an early age by her parents, who continue to guide and inspire her. Gabrielle hopes to inspire others by encouraging others to express themselves.

Natalie Roetzer ("Untitled 5" and "Untitled 6") says, “When I was about 15 my parent gave me money for my birthday to buy my first camera. I would spend hours wandering around outside attempting to capture something special. Now, I realize it only has to be special to me.”

Tracy Fernandez Rysavy ("Lacock Village Door, UK") received her M.A. in English literature with distinction from Boston College and is an English lecturer at UW-Green Bay, Marinette campus. She’s also advisor to the campus Creative Writing Club and is oddly fascinated by photos of doors.

Katie Thai ("The Lighthouse" and "Fansipan, Vietnam") is a freshman at UW-Green Bay, Marinette campus. She is a Vietnamese student who loves traveling and taking pictures. For her, every picture has a wonderful story behind it.

Jakob Voss ("What R-Word?") is a human biology major who will be studying at UW-Green Bay main campus next year. He loves reading comic books, watching Marvel movies, and working out.

Lisa Wicka ("Untitled 1" and "Untitled 2") received her MFA in Painting, Printmaking and Drawing from Purdue University. Her work has shown both nationally and internationally in New York, Chicago, Toronto, Mexico, Edinburgh, and Sweden. At UW-Green Bay’s Marinette campus, she teaches studio art and art history courses and is Director of the art gallery.

August Wiegman ("Alive" and "A Call to a Loved One") is an English major with an emphasis in Creative Writing, because they have loved to write for as long as they can remember. Being president of the Creative Writing Club is a unique opportunity that they cherish very much, and they’re extremely glad they could help showcase the talents of their peers in this journal!.

A Call to a Loved One

Etched across the universe
              in every known language,
                           in every foreign tongue,
in every sound we cannot hear—
             there, it’s you. Look, can you see?

The trees grow in spirals, and
             the birds sing in thunder.
            Ancient creations crumble and yet—
you are still you, and you
                       are magnificent.

Think about that night you cried,
            loud but so quiet—
            lonely but so loved.
Your tears carved trenches in
                      the fabric of the universe,
and your pain turned to love
            in the darkness of it all.

—© 2019 August Wiegman


The trees whisper in a language you don’t understand.
Still, listen. 
It is a melody composed of thousands of voices 
and none at all.
Close your eyes and you can see it.
They spin and dip and sing and laugh.
They reach their arms towards the sun,
so follow their lead. Stretch, stretch, and—
Take a breath; you are part of it.
You speak the language you do not understand,
because you’ve known it your whole life.

—© 2019 August Wiegman


North Country traveler,
          April is the great deceiver.
It seduces you with hard won sunshine
          And early light,
But sucker punches are ever ready.

Winter is king in our north country
And only allows us summer on sufferance.
We are flimflammed by an early robin
Listening for a doomed worm.

          Flocks of cranes fly north
Who should know better!
— © 2019 James T. LaMalfa  


© 2019 Dongqiang Zhou


Blood rushes to my cheeks
Pounds in my ears
I’m frozen by the sight of you.

Yours is a face I try to forget but
Now you’re here, and I cannot escape.
Color and heat pulse through my tingling skin.

Nightmare incarnate, you drained my blood away,
under the guise of a lover’s caress
You crippled my soul with your lies.

But that is my reality no longer
I let the sun burn away the scars
you left on my neck
And the sea washed the smell of your cologne
from my hair.

Now, my blood is my own again. My soul, heart—
They are mine to hoard
Mine to give away
If I so choose.

© 2019 Gabrielle Ramirez

Crumbling Ruins

Striding into the coliseum, the feeling of exhilaration
emanating from the walls. The smell of blood and sand takes me
there. To the sound of the bloodthirsty crowd, urging the
gladiators for more. The clashes of iron, the only thing able to
pierce the deafening roar. The ecstasy of the crowd as blood is
drawn. The crowd goes silent, as they wait in anticipation on the
judgment to be given. In the blink of an eye, the thrill is over.
Leaving the heart racing. I flash back to the present. The taste of
blood in my mouth from the gnashing of my teeth. The sight of
the crumbling ruins allows me to unclench my fist and bring my
wandering mind back to reality.

 — © 2019 Jason Hile


I always try.
What would people do if I stopped?
But, in the end I always cry.

This world is cruel, I can’t deny.
I wish I could feel safe like a baby being rocked.
And someone would stay instead of saying bye.

Everyone always says goodbye.
No matter what I end up getting dropped.
It always makes me cry.

People can be so sly.
People always make me feel blocked.
All I want is a reply.

I have to keep fighting to live, I can’t just give up and die.
I will make my locked.
I will always cry.

I am just like the sky.
Somedays I wish my life could be swapped.
But I will always cry.

© 2019 Abigail Marquardt

Fansipan, Vietnam

© 2019 Katie Thai


© 2019 McKenna Belec


© 2019 Chau Pham

Lacock Village Door, UK

© 2019 Tracy Fernandez Rysavy

Leave the Light On

my garden bent towards u, its own domestic sun, and
putting my head to your chest lent me the quiet din of
birdsong, bleeding through the door in yr heart.
i remember when we cut constellations in blue
card-stock and watched the whole world roll
through the scissor marks. we went to the lake, we
dropped our boots in the bracken and tumbled,
wet and out of misery. we followed the sun like
daisies. the only place you are living is my summer
memory now, but that ain’t such a bad place to live.
keep that light on, wherever you are.   
— © 2019 Cassidy MacArthur


© 2019 Dongqiang Zhou

My Greatest Challenge

Motivation is fleeting. It rises and falls in unpredictable waves, carrying me with it. These are the limitations that my depression and anxiety place upon my will. During a high peak of motivation and energy, anxiety buzzes in my chest and my hands. I begin to obsess over failure, and the thought of failure brings my mind to a grinding halt. Depression drips into my joints and rusts them, immobilizing and eating away at me. It is easy to become a statue. Nothing hurts when you cannot feel. Deadlines, grades, staying hydrated; none of it matters if you lie very still and let time pass by. 
        There was a week when I went beyond becoming a statue. I felt disconnected from my body. Food was tasteless. Words went through several shredders and fell in little pieces on my ears. My confused, clouded brain misconstrued an angry question, and I overdosed on my antidepressants. After a few hours spent in the emergency room, I spent three days in a behavioral health unit. It was peaceful. I didn’t have to remember when to take my medication. Nurses were eager to hear what I had to say. For the first time, I sang in front of strangers without fear. Ever since those days in the hospital, my worldview has not been the same. Words like “alcoholism” and “hallucinations” are no longer faceless terms. 
        I’ve learned to recognize the strength and discipline that these people like me have gained during their time in recovery programs—in and outside of the health unit. There is an intense vulnerability in admitting that you had a breakdown and that you need help to get back on your feet. I have always been a prideful child, and I anticipate that this vice—among others—will be a lifelong struggle to overcome.
        Participating in group therapy forces you to recognize your own behaviors and lessens the shame of your failures. Carrying the things you hear in that safe space helps keep you grounded. When you encounter something that seems overwhelming, it is a comfort to know that you are not the first one to face it, and you will not have to do it alone. I bring my troubles to my therapist every week, but I do not always share what is troubling me. I drop hints and hope she’ll pick up the clues because I fear the words trembling on the tip of my tongue: “I messed up again. I am broken down, and I cannot get through this by myself.” 
        Even though my illness tends to be invisible, some days it is too obvious to be ignored. My friend paused as he looked at me and asked: “What happened to you?” I laughed at the pure face of worry and reassured him that life was the only thing that happened to me. His smile brought out my own, and for a few moments, I forgot how tired I felt. Support systems are essential to navigating life, mental illness or no mental illness. My friends, coworkers, pastors, they have all been my support system for many years. I wasn’t involved in many extracurricular activities during high school because I always had to be working, but after high school ended, I had more time to build bonds with people. 
        As life goes on, I will meet new people. Some might be like me and understand what I’m going through. Others might not. I want to be a voice in the fight for awareness of mental illnesses. If I can make people aware that having these disabilities doesn’t make you less of a person, I want to do that. I want people to draw upon the strength that they already have. If you can use that strength, you can still fight for yourself and for those who can fight no longer. Our illness is invisible, but we are not. 

© 2019 Gabrielle Ramirez

Nursing Home Resident

© 2019 James T. LaMalfa


© 2019 McKenna Belec

Repainting Season

crouched over ripped canvas, hands dripping white- I’m painting
over the blood. I’m starting again,
I’ll try to be kinder this time.

Maybe I’ll paint hummingbirds, or the way the sky looked when
God squeezed the sun like an
overripe fruit until it splattered the horizon in sunset color,
maybe I’ll paint a girl who is unspoken and incorruptible, with
eyes like late summer that light me up
like gold in pink morning.

don’t remember if I was the telephone pole or the station wagon
wrapping around it, but I guess it
doesn’t matter in the end.
sorrow’s telling me “you can’t un-scar skin, girl, you can’t un-crash
cars,” but screw you, sorrow, I’m
about to try my damnedest.

I am going to grow all the way to the sun.
I’ll unwind my whole life from the spool to get it right this time,
I’m gonna cover the house in color,
spill down the siding,
gonna put my hands on my life and squeeze all the love out, turn
it into sidewalk chalk and light up
the driveway.

I’m gonna paint something worth looking at for once, so let me be
this time.

© 2019 Cassidy MacArthur

The Lighthouse

© 2019 Katie Thai

The Swirl

© 2019 Sophia Dao

The Wolf's Tears

© 2019 Sophia Dao

This is My Letter to the World I Grew Up With

This is my letter to the world that I grew up with.
This world has raised me from a child.
I know when I die I won’t be a legend or a myth.
But this world will remember what I up-build.

People may not remember me.
But the world will not easily forget.
The world raised me and let me be free.
I have changed the world a little and I’m sure you haven’t noticed    
     it yet.
— © 2019 Abigail Marquardt

Untitled (Wicka)

© 2019 Lisa Wicka

Untitled (Wicka)

© 2019 Lisa Wicka

Untitled (Jung)

© 2019 So Hee Erin Jung

Untitled (Meyers)

© 2019 Claire Meyers 

Untitled (Roetzer)

© 2019 Natalie Roetzer  

Untitled (Roetzer)

© 2019 Natalie Roetzer 

Vampire's Fears

Hemophobia, the fear of blood
The way it comes out in its disturbing flood
As a vampire this is unfortunate to have
Because my days of eating are cut in half
As the days pass I get skinnier and skinnier
Compared to the others, I’m far inferior
As soon as I see that red water I collapse
I can’t even eat everyone else’s scraps
My stomach hurts and my vision is blurry
It keeps getting worse, I’m starting to worry
If it’s the sight of blood that causes me to pass out
Then without my eyes, I will no longer pout
Most bats aren’t blind, but this one is now
No longer am I in fear from eating a person or cow
They can try to stop me with crosses and fire
But they’ll soon know, the night belongs to the Vampire
— © 2019 Tyrus Cretens

Vibrant Colors

It was filled with plenty of them.
How they got there, I don’t know.
They were all so sparkly and beautiful.
My house has never looked so amazing
I’ve been meaning to redecorate

I put glamorous colors in the otherwise
empty spaces; as if there weren’t any in the 
first place. In every broken tile
In every crack in the wall
There was a flower. Strange as it was.
I didn’t want to question it.
I could feel every color surrounding me,
blinding me with the strength of their light.
I never wanted to leave, not that they
would let me anyway. 
— © 2019 Emily Burns, Tyrus Cretens, Abigail Marquardt, 
          David Maxey, and Gabrielle Ramirez

What R-Word?

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt. A lot of people have heard this line, which was first introduced by The Christian Recorder in 1862. Over the years, however, people have become more aware of the damage words can do to people. The increase in attention comes from the escalation of scrutiny on how words overall can affect an individual’s mental health. There are countless words in this world that have a negative and distasteful context behind them. Lately, one word in particular has ascended up the list of atrocious words. This word has had a tremendous effect on individuals around the world, and a huge debate has broken out about whether the word should be banned or not. The word behind all this madness and distress is “retard.”
       Like the word “gay,” the R-word was never created to insult or hurt anyone. The word was first used in the medical field to diagnose individuals with intellectual disabilities. As the years went on, however, the meaning of the R-word started to become distorted. In fact, in his 2010 Washington Post article, “The Case against Banning the Word ‘Retard,’” Ohio State law professor Christopher M. Fairman actually uses the fact that the R-word has become distorted as a key point to why the R-word should not be banned. Fairman points out that the R-word itself is not the problem, but connotations that have developed around the word are. These negative meanings developed as early as the 1800’s, a time when, Fairman explains, people with mental disabilities were viewed as products of the devil.  
       The problem with the R-word is still very real in the 21st century, most likely because many people are unaware of how hurtful the R-word can be. So instead of legally banning the R-word, one should educate people on what the R-word means, and help people fully understand the meaning of this word.
       Informing individuals of the true meaning of the R-word may result in the R-word gaining the same taboo in the  Western culture as the F-word, which is considered impolite, at best. A taboo is mainly circulating around the F-word because of its sexual connotation and distasteful sound.  Another reason that the R-word should be treated as a taboo in the United States is because of how closely it resembles the N-word in terms of the pain it causes a particular group. Even though in Fairman’s article, he points out that “the N-word invokes some of the foulest chapters in our nation’s 
history; ‘retard,’ however harsh, pales in comparison,” they both still have sad backgrounds. With that, Fairman is trying to get across that even though the N-word has had a much more terrible history, the R-word should still be treated the same because of the damage it can do to people.
       As a matter of fact, countless individuals have already recognized that the R-word should be treated similarly to many of the other distasteful words in Western culture. Even so, Fairman explains that a ban is unnecessary because enough is already being done to shame the individuals that abuse the R-word. According to Fairman’s research, “Nearly 60,000 people have signed on to the following promise on edge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.’” Given that Fairman’s article was published in 2010 shows the large number of individuals that were starting to become more aware of the incorrect use of the R-word. As of April 2019, more than 718,000 individuals have signed up and made the promise. Another example of how this issue is being solved is that nearly forty-eight states have removed the term “mental retardation” from government agencies and state codes, according to Fairman’s article. Also, the American Association of Mental Retardation has changed their official name to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Making all of these changes not only provides an awareness of the issue, but also helps people understand that this issue needs to be resolved, and it is possible to do so without a legal ban.
       In contrast, there are countless individuals who believe a legal ban is necessary. The chairman and CEO of Special Olympics, Timothy Shriver, describes in his 2010 response to Fairman, “The Bigotry Behind the Word ‘Retard,’” just how devastating the R-word can be not only for Special Olympic athletes, but for all individuals with intellectual disabilities. Shriver brings to light the fact that people with mental disabilities are mistreated every single day. A study done by the Mental Disability Rights found that Texas caregivers were forcing residents with intellectual disabilities to wake in the middle of the night and fight, he notes.  
       This mistreatment is often a result of how individuals perceive people that are mentally handicapped, which Shriver says starts with hearing the R-word used as an insult, again and again. A handful of Americans believe that people with intellectual differences should not have the same privileges enjoyed by people without intellectual disabilities. Shriver provides a mind-boggling statistic in his article, noting, “More than 60 percent of Americans don’t believe that children with intellectual disabilities should be educated in their child’s school.” Another unimaginable example of mistreatment and segregation of individuals with intellectual disabilities comes in the form of poor health care. A mother with a child that had intellectual disabilities was seeking health care, and the health care advisor turned her down. The agent had this to say: “Ma’am. We’re not paying for services. Your child is retarded.” The health care advisor has no clue who the child is, but he does not allow that family to have health care because the child with intellectual disabilities. Both of these findings only add to the argument on why the R-word needs to be banned. 
       The context that we have formed around the R-word has led many Americans to form negative assumptions about individuals with intellectual disabilities. This is the danger of a single story. As human beings, it is our nature to quickly form an opinion on individuals from what we initially hear or see. An individual who grew up in Nigeria dealing with these stereotypical assumptions, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, assists people in understanding the harm these stereotypes can do in her TED Talk video, “The Danger of a Single Story.” In Adichie’s video, she explains the many stereotypes she formed at a young age, and how she came to the realization of how confined and naive people can be. In the conclusion of her video, Adichi ended with these powerful words: “When we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.” In order to finally end the misjudgment and mistreatment of numerous innocent individuals with intellectual disabilities, we must first surmount their single story. 
       Finally, this hurtful word can negatively affect individuals with intellectual disabilities. Being around people with these disabilities has allowed Shriver to develop a special understanding of just how impactful the R-word can be on these individuals’ mental health. In his article, Shriver explains the bullying that a Special Olympics athlete went through in school because of her intellectual disabilities, starting with the R-word, and the emotions that went along with it. Even though the bullying is behind her, she still, years later, dealt with isolation issues that cannot be resolved by medication or counseling, Shriver says. This is the sad truth, and Shriver believes everyone must come to the realization that this word needs to be banned socially in order to protect the mental health of individuals who are intellectually disabled. As he puts it, “‘Retard’ is a symbol of a pain few realize exists. Even when it’s not directed at people with intellectual disabilities, it perpetuates the pain and stigma they experience. We hope that the discussion about ending it will awaken millions to the hope of ending the discrimination it represents.”
       Besides an individual with cognitive disabilities, no other individual is more aware of the effects of the R-word than a parent who has a child with these disabilities. John C. McGinley is the author of “Spread the Word to End the Word” and a father of a 12-year-old named Max who has intellectual disabilities. Throughout McGinley’s Huffington Post article, he discloses what he calls the exploitation of freedom of speech by Americans when it comes to the R-word. For example, he explains how people use the R-word as an insult. Oftentimes, many of those individuals are unaware of what the word actually means, but they have the freedom to use the word nonetheless. However, citing their freedom of speech, they believe they can say whatever they want, not understanding the harmful effects that word can have on people. McGinley notes, “Freedom of speech is to all Americans as oxygen is to the human condition.” In other words, he agrees that freedom of speech is vital to our democracy. But, he says, Americans must remove it from their vocabulary, instead of misusing and overusing their freedom of speech.
       Throughout the argument of whether the R-word should be banned, there have been a few intertwining elements to both. For example, both sides believe that the R-word is often misused because people do not understand its true meaning. The two sides also agree that the R-word should be treated with the same taboo as the F-word or N-word. Both sides also are aware of the effects that the R-word has on individuals with intellectual disabilities. Lastly, they agree that something needs to be done to protect this word from hurting anyone else. 
       In my perspective, I believe that something does need to be done to protect individuals with intellectual disabilities from the R-word. I had a chance to interview my uncle, who has a sister with intellectual disabilities. In the interview, my uncle explained that his sister has had problems with the R-word throughout her lifetime. These occurrences usually happened through high school; however, within the last couple of years, she has not heard the word used once. He feels that this is because people are becoming more aware of the damage the R-word can do, and it is becoming less and less common. After hearing that, I feel that the R-word is starting to transition into the category of the F-word and N-word. This is one of the main reasons I do not believe that a legal ban is necessary. I also do not believe a ban would be useful because as Americans, it is our responsibility to speak our minds and help each other understand right from wrong. For example, if a child uses the F-word, their parent is going to help them understand that the F-word is vulgar. As Americans, it is also our responsibility to help individuals who abuse the R-word grasp the effect that the word can have on countless individuals with intellectual disabilities.
       To some people, the R-word may not seem like a very big issue because they are untouched and unaware of the pain it causes. Most can agree, however, that this word has become a very big problem in society today. Lately, more individuals are starting to understand the effect this word can have on people. Whether this word is banned or not, one can agree that something needs to be done to protect the countless innocent individuals that suffer from the pain of this word every day. 

© 2019 Jakob Voss 

Yellow Wall, Red Brick, Blue Curtains

used to be a habit, we met at 7:00 every day,
when the glaring sun shines through the blue curtains,
and the schoolyard is still empty.
you sit next to me, by the yellow wall.
I bought a glass of soy milk,
and you bought a delicious egg sandwich.
15 dongs each, together we share the breakfast.
the two of us, sitting on the balcony,
we would watch everyone, busy like ants,
running from water, into classes.
until someone hits the drum.
I was too short, so my feet touched the floor,
yes, that iconic floor, the one made of red bricks.
Running, giggling, talking all kinds of talk,
we were once happy, innocent, carefree souls,
surrounded by yellow wall, red brick, blue curtains.
memories of them wrapped in just
one rectangular piece of blue sky
oh, morning like that,
I miss so much.

© 2019 Chau Pham