BROWN BAG MAGAZINE
volume 1 issue 1
Laura Hamblin once told me she wished
Touchstones would do a brown bag edition. In many
ways this chapbook is a gift to her. We sent out a call
to the school and the community for writing that
would fit in a brown paper bag. Included in this
journal are the staff, school, and community responses
to the prompt. You will find poetry and flash fiction
about food, the mysterious, and the impossible. We as
a staff hope this journal is the first of many UVU and
community collaborations. Read this slowly, enjoy
it—but please, read responsibly.
Table of Contents
The Brink//Ben Roden.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..3
My Last Grapefruit//Vera Ogden Bakker.. .6
Wealth//Vera Ogden Bakker.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 7
Dark Things//Mandi Connell.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .9
The Leaf Lady//Jennifer Hardy.. .. .. .. .. .. 10
Lonely Soup//Trish Hopkinson.. .. .. .. .. .. 12
Meeting You//Breanna Tucker.. .. .. .. .. .. .13
No Arrangement//Kelly Elcock.. .. .. .. .. .. 14
Peace Rose//Jon Sebba.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..16
The Day We Found//Trish Hopkinson.. ..17
Wishes//Jack Garcia.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 18
When We Leave//Austin Anderson.. .. .. .. 19
I Ran Over a Shadow//Ammon Medina.. .20
The Metro//Jon E. Jimenez.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 21
Goat Island//Rob Blair.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .22
Blue Physics//Karin Anderson.. .. .. .. .. .. ..24
We have tried for the top of the hill three
times, and for the third time, Aaron Hildebrand has
There are five of us, all twelvish years old and
all scattered at various checkpoints on the road to
manhood. Aaron is perhaps the farthest along. He has
a bulky neck and huge feet and we are all secretly
envious of the tremendous man-funk his glands have
started to produce. Maybe this is why his furious
sobbing is so sickening. He is round and unwashed
and inconsolable, and that’s fine, because we are all
sick to death of consoling him.
Awaiting us at the top of the hill is the wild
and pure joy of Rock Rolling. Our Scout leader
Byron is a champion of wanton mayhem – in the past
year alone, we’ve engaged in such activities as Tennis-
Racket Bat-Hunting, Ice-Lacrosse, and Whitewater
Surfing. Rock Rolling, however, is his finest
achievement, a marvel of elemental power and
childishness. From the safety of a high perch, we
unearth and dislodge the largest rocks that four kids
plus one adult plus one weepy dud can manage, and
send them crashing like meteors into the river canyon
Nobody blames Aaron for being afraid of a
thunderstorm – we all have phobias we’ve yet to
outgrow. Only two years ago, I had to call my
mother from four houses down the street, driven to
the safety of my neighbor’s living room by an aging
golden retriever. Boys of our age understand more
keenly than anyone the embarrassment of public fear,
and in normal circumstances, I’d like to think we’d be
escorting Aaron tenderly back down the trail to his
man-funky pup tent.
These are not, however, normal
circumstances. There is a mountain to be climbed,
raindrops to be tasted and a boulder the size of a VW
Bug beckoning to be tipped over the side of a cliff.
And because of this, there are now four sets of
twelvish year old eyes nudging Aaron Hildebrand
toward the edge of the precipice; four twelvish year
old minds taking interest in the aerodynamic
properties of Aaron Hildebrand’s swollen torso.
I’ve seen movies where the hero is forced, for
the good of the group and with no malice of his own,
to slap some sense into some hysterical sidekick, and I
enact this scenario in my head as we stand haphazard
on the hillside.
“Dammit man!” I shout, whipping my
imaginary hand across his grubby, tear-streaked cheek,
“You’ve got to pull yourself together!” I smile at the
thrill of my secret profanity.
In my vision I have solved the problem with
my enormous meaty hands and hairy forearms and a
chin scar like Indiana Jones. In real life, the latest peal
of thunder has caused Aaron Hildebrand to crap his
My Last Grapefruit
Vera Ogden Bakker
The season is over.
There are none in the store.
All winter I brought home bags
of the plump yellow globes.
This morning I cut
my last grapefruit
and watch juice puddle
on the cutting board.
I carefully slice pink flesh
from between the membranes.
Squirts splatter the wall.
Lingering longer than usual
over breakfast, I savor
and yearn for more.
Vera Ogden Bakker
I have a bag full of words.
My neighbor has a big house
filled with exotic treasures.
My friend bought a gold Ferrari.
My neighbor has a big house
overlooking the valley.
My friend bought a new Ferrari.
and travels to the Riviera.
Overlooking the valley,
I catch streaks of crimson and gold
and travel to the Riviera
on wings of words.
I catch streaks of crimson and gold.
as language captures the sunset.
On wings of words,
I taste the rain forest.
Language captures the sunset.
I am richest of all.
I taste the rain forest
and feel the tingle of myth.
I am richest of all,
filled with exotic treasures,
feeling the tingle of myth,
for I have a bag of words.
Sometimes I still have the dreams.
You’re always there,
beckoning me to follow with a hand
that dissipates in the wind
and a smile like a child’s.
When I finally think I can reach you
you’re gone, vanished in a rush of air
that sprouts from your last laugh.
It echoes against my skull when I wake.
Ever since the dreams started
the shadows have been following me.
They sludge against the walls and
creep up corners, leaving black scorches.
They nip at my unseeing loved ones’
ankles when they walk by and
I’m the only one who can see
their wicked smiles.
The Leaf Lady
There are strange noises outside. They rouse
me from my sleep. I look out my window to
investigate. Meridith, the lady who lives across the
street, is outside with a leaf blower. What on earth is
she doing in the middle of the night with a leaf
blower? She’s dressed in a nice cardigan sweater and a
nice looking skirt, but she’s missing her shoes. It’s
freezing cold outside. Why on earth would she be out
there without any shoes? She starts doing a crazy
dance. I shall call it “The Dance of the Leaf Lady.”
She’s half dancing, half running, back and forth across
the porch with her leaf blower. Stirring up dust and
leaves and whatever else is in the hedges while dancing
back and forth.
The leaf lady dance on the porch has ended
and the lady ventures out into the yard. She’s still
welding the leaf blower, but we’ve progressed from
“The Dance of the Leaf Lady” to frantic, almost
crazed, dashing back and forth and circling. Matters
are made worse by that mischievous leaf blower
continuously unplugging himself from the outlet.
Leaf Lady looks so perplexed each time it happens and
precariously steps back onto the porch and attempts
to stay standing upright while plugging the leaf
blower back in. This causes her to wrap the cord
around the tree several times and causes her some
confusion when the cord has mysteriously shortened
and she must battle the tree to get it back. After
fighting with the tree and having a short boxing
match with the now tangled and knotted cord, the
Leaf Lady tackles the hard task of the night. She must
clear the lawn, driveway, and parking lot of ALL evil
leaves. There cannot be a single leaf left roaming free.
Unfortunately for her, she’s has been tricked, there are
NO leaves on her lawn, driveway, or even in the
parking lot. She will not be swayed from her mission.
She will conquer the leaves. She begins a thorough
sweep of the lawn and driveway. She’s diligent in her
task and even does a sweep under her car as well as the
car in the neighboring driveway
The Leaf Lady is a determined one. She has
cleared the immediate area of all leaves. Now she must
undertake the task of patrolling the parking lot. She
must keep all ne’er-do-wells at bay. She circles to the
right. She circles to the left. She checks the cars. She
checks her driveway and lawn again. I think we might
be safe. I think I might sleep safely thru the night
now. But wait, my knight in shining armor has put
down her sword and retreated back to her castle. I
wait, time temporarily suspended. I breathe a deep
sigh of relief when the Leaf Lady reappears. She has a
bouquet of flowers in her hand. Not only has she kept
me safe throughout the night, she has brought me a
token of her love. She lays the bouquet on my
doorstep and quietly retreats. I am safe. I am loved. I
can sleep tonight.
First, check refrigerator for ingredients:
potatoes, couple of celery stalks, unopened bag
of baby carrots, half an onion, moldy strawberries.
Second, peel the potatoes; throw out the berries;
chop the rest.
Third, place in a large pot with boiling broth.
Fourth, pour a glass of wine and wait.
Fifth, burn tongue tasting the soup.
Sixth, pour two ladlefuls into favorite glass bowl.
Seventh, consume soup, pour more wine.
First, check email for messages:
a coupon, an appointment reminder, spam,
an advertisement, more spam, nothing from you.
Second, check voicemail and text messages;
there are none.
Third, look out the window into the driveway.
Fourth, pour a glass of wine and wait.
Fifth, scold heart for aching.
Sixth, question confidence and hairstyle.
Seventh, tears make for salty wine; pour.
Meeting you was like going to the pool with my
Slipping in and drowning in your passion and love for
Then, slowly, learning to swim,
To move with the water in unison and work hand in
Now, it’s like I’m heading to the shallow end,
Slowly, I will get my footing on the slippery ground
The water will fall from my face; my hands
And slowly I will step out
The water still soaked into my every pore
But I will walk away
It may take a while, but soon all the water will dry up
And all that will be left is the memory.
I will attest, intrepid reader, that you could do
worse than the Provo D.I. Now there’s a used
bookstore. Absolutely no real arrangement
whatsoever. No telling what you’ll find.
Something published in 1911, in Salt Lake
City, about the varieties of gambling cheats and con
games, and how to spot them. The illustrations are
most of the fun: the Dope Fiend, the Peril-Filled Path
to Happiness. An engineer’s drawing of a mechanical
device for concealing cards up one’s sleeve.
I move on to another one, from the early 50’s
if I remember right, by a German doctor: Perfect Sex
and the Happy Marriage. It’s a peculiar, bumbling-science
blend of the obvious and the significantly less
obvious: close physical contact has a lingering relaxant
effect that is time proportional. Ten minutes’ll get
you a day. One hour’ll get you a week. Two hours’ll
get you two weeks. One couple, in Turkey or Borneo
or somewhere, would produce actual electric sparks
when they came in contact.
Some weirdo is eyeballing me from the next
aisle; I’d put him at late forties, maybe half-retarded.
He’s shifty-eyed, ecstatic with guilt, examining a
book, full of pictures, entitled Baby Massage. I put
mine back on the shelf, and walk off, preferring the
contemplation of these stray literary anomalies to that
of this scary weirdo.
But why don’t I just buy them, I think, it’s
D.I., they’re like two bucks. The fact is, they’re of no
use to me beyond the spectacle; the Happy Marriage
would just make me depressed (two weeks of
relaxation?!), and the Gambling Schemes would only
remind me of that bigger con game going on today,
that we just can’t seem to spot.
In the garden there's a blossom. If you listen,
eyes-open, you may hear an evening sigh
from watchers as a grapefruit sun dips
into purple-mountained, grey horizon;
the feather-rustle of buzzards that soar
where a carp floats on Jordan's shore,
belly-side-up, bobbing in the chevron waves;
or the Granite schoolyard swings that sway
creaking in the dark, a tired woman and man
limply holding hands, feet trailing in sand;
or the sound of faint cars, muffled, afar,
drowned out by cottonwoods’ shifting
in Hobble Creek bed, hidden water dripping.
A rose like that, with paper-thin curls
pink-tinged gold embraced in whorls
with her perfume and perfect face, proves
that serenity and tranquil places
do survive, far away from war.
The Day We Found a Meadow and Played
Frisbee Buck Naked
the afternoon breathed life into us
like a hot air balloon on a summer horizon.
The campground buzzed
with the return of early hikers
and the lunch dish clanks of late risers.
The creek cruised glittering
in sunbeams past the common meadow
by the big fire ring and the road beyond.
Something tugged at my skin,
cursed enclosures, longed for freedom
and urged my spirit to play unadorned.
Shedding the unneeded,
we became nothing but flesh and flowers,
laughing and stretching to catch the Frisbee.
It’s not in the vast expanse
of darkness kissing the white
luminescence of winter snow
nor in the smoky puff
of laughter; not the
lungs filled with cold or
girls resembling flamingos
with long, stilettoed legs
and bright, warm coats above,
disappearing into pubs.
It’s not in the rings left
by martini glasses and beer
bottles nor in the lonely
olive thoughtlessly swept
away by a waitress’s
gin-soaked hand, the same
hand that sweetly wipes
away an eyelash from
her child’s sleeping cheek
—a wish waiting to be granted.
She watches it float down,
lost in cream carpet,
and somehow she knows.
When We Leave
I press my palm against the stump, charred blocks
like black scales, and I walk my fingers up the axed
A man says he saw the wildfire and trees that burst
one hundred feet away. They closed the roads while
ninety thousand acres burned.
I wipe away pine needles below the ghosted stump
to mark its lost shadow and to scar the dirt for a
On the burned log nearby, moss grows.
Mud fills the shoreline boot prints.
I Ran Over a Shadow
Dragged it for blocks.
When I finally stopped
I watched the afterimage float in and out
of the streetlight until it disappeared
into the space between the stars.
I stared until I became envious
of its upward journey.
Wondering if it will float
like the fugitive balloon, going to the space
where atmosphere wrinkles its pressure
sending it back down,
to tangle in the power lines.
No, it will hitchhike
on 747’s feeling the freezing steel
against shadowy fingers. No, it will grab
handfuls of ozone smelling the trapped
scent of wildflowers, do breaststrokes
behind V formations of geese, swish large
cupfuls of rain in its mouth,
or listen to the clouds sauté at sunrise.
I spent the rest of the night stepping out in front of
Jon E. Jimenez
By the exit, in the crush of morning
commuters, I am smashed into the white tile walls of
the subway station. My mother’s outstretched hand is
an umbilical cord. A man in a black suit rushes
towards me with luggage in tow. He looks behind at a
beautiful woman standing on the precipice of the
subway line as our bodies collide, my tiny hand snaps
from my mother’s grasp, and I disappear into the
current of marching people. I was so small. I am
pulled away from my mother, and swept up between
people that are too busy to notice. It was my first
experience of death.
Walk north along the shores of La'ie,
toes curling copper sands,
five miles from the home claimed
by a seven-year-old boy.
When you reach the place
the hammerhead was found, you'll know
you've found the hidden road.
When tides seep out, the reef
(the one the hammerhead crashed
against before toppling, rocking,
washing ashore) will appear.
Twenty minutes with feet
pressed into the coral
—here, sculpted by waves,
there, in stony spines
cutting like glass—
and you'll reach
of “Goat Island.”
There are whole colonies of crabs.
Plants in palettes of contradiction
that would shame modern art.
The holes you see are dug for heron nests
that named this place a refuge.
Look toward the water.
Sometimes you can see shark fins
circling in the distance.
You are beyond the reef.
Stay to the south of the fence
with the sea-bird sanctuary signs.
Be wary of the blue bubbles.
Their sting burns like lava.
Spend no more than four hours here.
Do not return as the tide swells:
Crashing walls of waves surround you,
blinding you to both shores,
the coral path vanishing underfoot.
Stay nested on the island sanctuary.
You will be trapped
with the crabs and colors
and birds and bubbles
and circling fins.
Be still. Have patience.
The tide recedes again.
My father draws up, lithe and effortless, rises
from the hot sheets into the cool ether, remembers his
old young motion. He throws a James Dean grin at
the fly uncertain buzzing at the blazing pane, runs
four fingers through his comeback greaser hair,
squares his narrow pretty hips, broadens his shoulders,
He tries the pockets of his levis, tightens the
slender belt. He thinks or maybe says “bet I can make
that girl come talk to me” and really she might but
her eyes have wrung themselves dry fixed on the
trembling bed. She lifts them to the window, hears
the buzz but can’t discern the man.
My father breathes the new blue air and
yellow glittering and down light, ribs expanding no
resistance. He spins on the heel of a sharp-toed boot,
strides atomic through the glass. The atmosphere
sparks and snaps at the peripheral reach.
The tall black horse is waiting already saddled
and scraping platinum hooves on the gleaming road;
my father blinks and greets him, hand open with oats,
wonders at the fading dream of this giant falling. Foot
slides into stirrup, oiled and tooled. He rolls up,
supples his joints, whistles like habit, and the spotted
dog streaks in.
Now, for a way, I envision the route: it takes a
good glowing day and he savors the ride. Black horse
is press-nosed, strong stride and erratic. Cut-tailed
dog zags like meteorite. Greenhead pheasants flap out
of thickets, re-settle eternal. They sprint north past
the Four-Way. Old spirits rise and sink back in the
Black horse spotted dog beautiful man arc the
old road, trot heedless under the vultured silver-leaves,
calm the crying calves. They splash the stream,
stopping to turn the water.
When my father remounts, it is by moonlight,
and the frigid water grids the orchards mercurial.
Now they hover at the howling summit:
granite shafts and scapulae. No quake at the plummet:
the tall horse steps forward. Sheer wall falls away the
ancient seas rush in the broken pass shuts after.
Physics makes it true.
Creamy, creamy blue.
And now, a long, low corridor, steamed
fluorescent. The horse slips, and shifts, persists. The
dog has gone beyond.
My father calls My father cries for Her The
lights dim behind and the polished tiles darken. He
leans and hearkens for Eurydice, but now I see we
cannot see to see.
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