Plain China

March 2014

Nail Polish

Wyatt McMurry · Eckerd College · Poetry Prize Winner

His nails weren’t coral but candy cane red cadillac and dark—satin lining of my mother’s purse, brains of a crushed watermelon or even the latex guts splashed over the rocks in Tremors after Kevin Bacon tricks the worm monster into falling off a cliff.

Proprioception

Frances Wang · Dartmouth College

They say that dogs are soulless. Mine sleeps on his side and skitters after rabbits

Smiling At Serious Things: An Evening With Dave King

Robert O'Connell · Grinnell College

Drummer and bandleader Dave King mouths the word “poem” to his bandmates, indicating “You Can’t Spell ‘Poem in Concrete’”—another clumsily named King original—and the song begins. Guitarist Erik Fratzke strums major chords, bassist Adam Linz thumps along in step, and King ticks a plain, straight-eighth beat, culminating in a staple of his style, a stick smacked against the snare on the final quarter note before the melody arrives that doesn’t bounce back but is held there against the skin, smothering the sound. When tenor saxophonist Brandon Wozniak’s lilting melody begins, King leans back and slaps at his instruments with measured abandon.

Stripped, She Said

Anne Delatte · Louisiana State University

you have stripped me down to my tongue root she said

Shark Season in Kanawha Country

Nina Sabak · University of Pittsburgh · Honorable Mention in Fiction

Lilliana starving is what we’re used to. She says her bones don’t fit right. What kind of bones does a sister need? She wants low hips, paper ribs, big square hands for dancing with the state fair girls. She spends all morning on her belly in her whitewashed bedroom; she watches herself move. The room smells like the pennies we’ve been saving for a candle. (There are prayers, there are ways.)

Two Years' Difference at a Roadside Stand

Dantell Wynn · Florida State University

The girls are lounging on the side of the road at a wooden stand piled high with Valencias. No one has stopped all morning and it is getting close to two. Laura is lying in the grass watching the slow-moving clouds and Grace-Ann is watching Laura. “I’m tired of oranges,” Laura sighs. Grace-Ann remains silent and rearranges the oranges into rows, then columns, upon the stand. Every summer the two cousins visit their grandparents’ orange grove in Indian River County, and everything is always orange. They drink orange tea with the delicate, white blooms still floating on top and eat warm slices of sourdough bread spread thick with orange marmalade

Nail Polish

Wyatt McMurry · Eckerd College · Poetry Prize Winner

His nails weren’t coral but candy cane red cadillac and dark—satin lining of my mother’s purse, brains of a crushed watermelon or even the latex guts splashed over the rocks in Tremors after Kevin Bacon tricks the worm monster into falling off a cliff.

Proprioception

Frances Wang · Dartmouth College

They say that dogs are soulless. Mine sleeps on his side and skitters after rabbits

Smiling At Serious Things: An Evening With Dave King

Robert O'Connell · Grinnell College

Drummer and bandleader Dave King mouths the word “poem” to his bandmates, indicating “You Can’t Spell ‘Poem in Concrete’”—another clumsily named King original—and the song begins. Guitarist Erik Fratzke strums major chords, bassist Adam Linz thumps along in step, and King ticks a plain, straight-eighth beat, culminating in a staple of his style, a stick smacked against the snare on the final quarter note before the melody arrives that doesn’t bounce back but is held there against the skin, smothering the sound. When tenor saxophonist Brandon Wozniak’s lilting melody begins, King leans back and slaps at his instruments with measured abandon.

Stripped, She Said

Anne Delatte · Louisiana State University

you have stripped me down to my tongue root she said

Shark Season in Kanawha Country

Nina Sabak · University of Pittsburgh · Honorable Mention in Fiction

Lilliana starving is what we’re used to. She says her bones don’t fit right. What kind of bones does a sister need? She wants low hips, paper ribs, big square hands for dancing with the state fair girls. She spends all morning on her belly in her whitewashed bedroom; she watches herself move. The room smells like the pennies we’ve been saving for a candle. (There are prayers, there are ways.)

Two Years' Difference at a Roadside Stand

Dantell Wynn · Florida State University

The girls are lounging on the side of the road at a wooden stand piled high with Valencias. No one has stopped all morning and it is getting close to two. Laura is lying in the grass watching the slow-moving clouds and Grace-Ann is watching Laura. “I’m tired of oranges,” Laura sighs. Grace-Ann remains silent and rearranges the oranges into rows, then columns, upon the stand. Every summer the two cousins visit their grandparents’ orange grove in Indian River County, and everything is always orange. They drink orange tea with the delicate, white blooms still floating on top and eat warm slices of sourdough bread spread thick with orange marmalade