2016 Poetry, Short Story & Art Book
In 2014, the Festival of Arts expanded to include a new literary publication entitled Poetry & Art: 2014 Festival of Arts.
In 2016, submissions expanded to include Short Stories and the publication, Poetry, Short Stories, Art: 2016 Cumming FUMC Festival of Arts was released.
Visual Art, Poetry and short story submissions were made from each of the Forsyth County High Schools and were adjudicated for inclusion. Future plans are to expand to include adult divisions as well as staged selected readings from submitted work.
The next Poetry & Art book is scheduled for publication in 2017.
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Click below for the winning images, short stories and poetry from Poetry, Short Stories, Art: 2016 Cumming FUMC Festival of Arts (images and poetry are not related.)
Crossing the Tracks – by Frances Laguaite, Lambert High School
There’s a crisp winter chill in the air and I’m alone, like I always am. I’m thirty yards away from the railroad tracks yet I can still feel the ground rumbling like a beast that’s only just waking up from a long hibernation. The whistle shrieks as the shrill scream of metal on metal pierces my ears. I don’t even cringe anymore.
I’m watching the train go by, waiting for the last car. I can see it in the distance, still a little ways away, but it’s approaching fast. When it does, I’ll be ready. I’m going to do it.
A bit of smoke puffs out of the chimney and I watch as it curls up into the sky. It’s an exceptionally clear day, so there’s a pleasant contrast between the brilliant sky and the grey smoke. I exhale and watch my breath come out in tendrils of smoke until they fade to nothing. I shiver in my dress and rock on my heels, quickly growing impatient.
The last car rockets by faster than anything I’ve ever known and she’s there, on the other side of the tracks. My mother.
My mouth goes dry and I can’t quite swallow right. My mother. The same starched white shirt carefully tucked into her skirt, covered by a dark cardigan with brass buttons. I remember her shoes too: her favourite pair of worn Oxfords.
“Marianne!” She’s calling me and her voice sounds so far away, almost like she’s underwater. Maybe I’m the one underwater. “Marianne!”
“Mother.” My voice sounds like sandpaper. I take a cautious step towards the tracks.
She’s holding a suitcase and looks about ready to leave. She’s waving now, beckoning me forward. “Marianne, Marianne!”
I feel anxious for some reason. My stomach is clenching, my muscles tense. With a sudden sinking feeling in my chest, it hits me. She’s going to leave me again. Her soft brown curls bounce near her shoulders as she waves at me.
“Mother, I’m coming!” I can’t run, but I’m walking as fast as I can. My dress is lengthy enough that I have to grab the fabric in my fists so I can jog more effectively. “Just hold on!”
I’m maybe seven yards away when I trip and go sprawling. “Don’t leave me!” I’m screaming like this is the last time I’m going to see her.
I woke up panting, the words still lingering on my lips. Don’t leave me. I was hot and uncomfortable and my nylon nightgown stuck to my skin like I’d just gone for a swim in it. I groped for the lamp’s pull string and was temporarily blinded. The time was 3:00 exactly. I groaned.
As much as I willed it not to, my mind wandered back to the dream. I could remember it clearly, partly because my mother was in it and partly because it was recurring. I’d been having the same dream for years, ever since my mother passed, in the midst of my childhood. Now I was 29 and a working woman, something my mother could never say about herself. I considered myself successful and I lived a happy life. I was content with myself, even being a secretary. There were worse things to be than a secretary, surely. In truth, I’d rather be painting; that’s where my true passion was. And at times like these, when I’d wake up out of breath, sweating over the recurring dream, art was my therapy.
I grabbed my notebook off the nightstand and threw on my robe, not even bothering to wear slippers. It was a clear night in August; I wouldn’t need shoes anyway.
That’s how I found myself on my apartment building’s roof at three in the morning. I didn’t really know if it was allowed or not. That wasn’t my concern at all. Nobody had ever found me on the roof and I doubted anyone ever would.
It was just calming. The cool, night air engulfed me. When I sprawled out on my back on the concrete and let the chill creep into my bones, I would gaze up at the stars in the sky and it was like the world was mine and mine to keep. I was alone and floating. The feeling I experienced during my rooftop sessions was mine to treasure and mine alone.
On this night however, the city below me was alive with lights and sound. I heard cars and the panicky wailing of distant sirens. I hoped they wouldn’t distract me.
I tried not to think too much as I got out my sketchpad. It had to be primitive, my hands working with minds of their own. Sketches weren’t meant to be perfect, after all. With a deep breath, I began.
Paper illuminated by the moon overhead, the pencil danced across the page. I was staring at the building directly in front of the apartments, some local theatre. As if in a trance, I moved closer towards the edge of the roof. I sat on the very edge, letting my feet dangle. I was suddenly glad I had chosen not to wear shoes.
The theatre on my page was becoming more and more visible. Some windows here, the neon sign over there. The lines weren’t chaotic and jumbled together anymore; they made sense.
I continued sketching until it was finished and I could think properly again. Modest as I was, I couldn’t lie; I was completely happy with my drawing. Webb’s Theatre might’ve even looked better on paper than it did towering in front of me.
Lost in my drawing, I forgot I was holding the pencil and I felt it slip easily out of my fingers. A gasp escaped my throat as I leaned further off the edge of the building. I watched it fall and get smaller until I couldn’t see it anymore.
It was then I realised how high I really was. There were six stories in the building so that was… well, a lot of feet, that’s for sure.
A night breeze ruffled my auburn hair and rifled through my notebook. I took one hand off the ledge and placed it on my drawing so the pages couldn’t tear loose. One second, I was sitting comfortably on the ledge of the rooftop; the next I was falling.
It’s a funny thing, falling. It’s kind of like you know you’re going to die, you know it in your being, but somehow it doesn’t exactly bother you in the moment. Sure, your stomach drops coupled with that sick feeling that comes up like something from a nightmare and your mouth is open and moving but it’s impossible for any sound to come out because you’re gasping and out of breath, like a fish out of water. Despite all of this, I’m still gripping my notebook tightly in one hand. Then I remember where I am and what I’m doing. I’m falling. And therefore dying. But it’s something a bit more intimate than death by something like old age or suicide. No, falling is graceful. Until you hit solid ground.
I’m wearing the same red dress and the same stupid wedges. I grind my heel into the grass, but don’t feel satisfied at all. I hear the train whistle and it’s like clockwork.
The whistle sounds again, shrill as ever, and my face is once again stone. I’m waiting for one thing and one thing only: the final train car.
Meanwhile, though I feel like I’ve been here many times, I crave exploration. In front of me are the train tracks, but behind me… I whip around, strangely expecting to see some horror out of a picture show, but all I see is a dark forest.
My eyes fixate on a bush a few feet away. The thing is absolutely covered in roses, so dark in colour they appear to be almost black. Roses were – are, I quickly correct myself – my mother’s favourite flower. Without thinking, I pluck a flower from the bush and yelp in pain as a thorn pricks me. I watch intently as a drop of blood slowly trickles from my finger.
Within an instant, the moment of silence is gone and I hurriedly wipe my hands on my dress, but I do take the rose with me. Mother will love it. She likes those kinds of things.
I turn around just as the last train car passes and a breath leaves my lips. I’m not sure if it’s a breath of relief or surprise. I don’t know why I’m always surprised.
It’s my mother. Her skirt moves a little in the breeze and she wraps her cardigan tightly around her with one hand. In the other hand is the worn suitcase. “Marianne!”
“Mother!” My voice is more confident, clearer. In fact, she doesn’t sound far away; it sounds as if she’s right in front of me. “Mother!” I gather up my dress in my hands and walk briskly towards her, a light fluttering in my chest. In an instant, I’m standing across from her, so close I can see the whites of her eyes. She’s smiling, so I smile too. I think I’m crying but I can’t tell. “Mother.”
“Come, Marianne! We’ve got to go!” she tells me, gesturing me to come forward.
“Go where?” It’s a simple enough question, but she almost looks insulted I’ve asked.
“Home, dear. We’re going home! Finally, it’s been so long.”
My hands are shaking and I suddenly realise how frightened I am. “Mother, I don’t know if I’m ready. I don’t think… I don’t think I can do it.”
“Marianne, please, I’ve waited for so long. Just cross the tracks.” She waits there expectantly, gripping the suitcase all the more tightly. “Come dearest, you can do it.”
Like a toddler, I take a baby step onto the rails. I just saw the train go by only seconds ago, so I don’t know why I feel as anxious as I do.
“That’s it.” My mother is still offering me words of encouragement.
All I can do is nod as I finally step onto the other side of the railroad tracks. My mother embraces me and we’re both laughing and crying at the same time. “Alright,” my mother says, wiping a stray tear from her eyes. A no-nonsense woman, always. “Let’s be on our way.”
She holds her suitcase in one hand and her fingers interlace with my as we walk towards the sun.
“Thank you for waiting.” I tell her.
My mother nodded, smiling. “I would’ve waited longer, had you been given more time.”
Home – by Jake Bennett, Forsyth Central High School
I’m from the big, yellow house on the green, grassy hill.
I’m from the south,
Where y’all and ain’t might as well be words in the dictionary.
I’m from a tender loving family,
I think the best.
I’m from creeping kudzu vines and blushing tomatoes
Whose vines grow like weeds.
I’m from chicken and steak,
My beloved supper meals
Crackling on the charcoal grill.
I’m from a place where we love God,
And He saves us.
I’m from where Nanny always told us to make memories.
I’m from playing with my brother, Eli,
Pushing cars and talking animals.
I’m from late night studying with Mama,
Typing essays and finishing presentations.
I’m from weekend races with Daddy,
And watching more races on TV,
NASCAR, Supercross, and Quarter Midgets.
I’m from listening to music,
Knowing lyrics by heart,
Singing them out loud in the car.
I’m from where a wedding picture means a lot.
It lasts forever,
It means forever.
There’s a curly frame around the edges,
Each dressed in black and white.
I’m from the best family in the world,
Their thoughtful words,
Their constant support.
I’m from where we spend time together always,
From where we love God and He loves us,
And my family loves one another.
In the Careless Days – by Jordan Meaker, Lambert High School
In the careless days there was no sense of time.
School days lasted forever. Sleep was fleeting, a split second of closed eyes.
In the careless days, I asked my mom to make me waffles for breakfast every day, just so I could stay asleep while my Eggos were toasting.
In the careless days, I ran without shoes on because it made me faster. I could outrun all the kids, even all the boys, when there was nothing in between the soles of my feet and the ground but the sky.
In the careless days, knees were green and cheeks were red. Nights were spent open and wild, playing complex games of our own imaginations.
In the careless days, life was a big, yellow balloon that I couldn’t wait to pop. I wanted to go, and if no one was going anywhere, I was bored. And when I was bored, I read.
In the careless days, I read for hours, consumed by the words. I was enraptured in books because there was nothing else to worry about. They were carefree hours spent by a careless girl.
In the careless days, I loved the world with a joy so big because what’s not to love when you’re a careless girl?