Prose poems and vignettes inspired by paint samples and their names.




By Zach Barnes

I remember sitting with my grandfather, looking up at the starry ceiling while the presenter talked. My grandfather would lean over and point out things to me, showing me nebula, galaxies and black holes represented by twinkling lights, or the lack of. But I wasn’t really listening. I wasn’t even in the theater. I was out there already. Floating weightless, looking out the viewport. Eating a freeze-dried ice cream sandwich my grandfather bought me, sweet but crispy, the new texture interesting and repulsing me at the same time. Touching the viewport window and imagining the cold of interstellar space chilling my hand. Turning as the radio squawks and Houston starts talking about nebulae and what forms them, and then rushing slowly back to the window to see them for myself. The dazzling colors swirled like rainbow sherbet outside my little viewport, taking up all that I could see. But suddenly I feel a hand resting on my shoulder, and I’m back in the planetarium. “Time to go, Zach,” my grandfather says. I sigh and follow him to the door, but by the time he opens it, I’m already back among the stars.



Castle Stone

By Jesse Slomka

Brick by brick, slab by slab, block by block, the castle continues to grow. It grows in layers, one after another, each one planned carefully by its architects. It starts out perfect as it always does: a smooth gray wall on a strong foundation. But just how careful are those architects? How many times does a loose stone slide just a fraction to the side? How often does a crack form when a brick is dropped too quickly? These are mistakes often overlooked, left behind as the walls continue to tower ever higher. It might not matter now, or even in a year, but when the moss finally starts growing on the castle walls, when its dull green presence seeps into the tiny cracks and forgotten nooks to trouble those inside, they’ll start to see their mistakes. But now it’s far too late. The stones have been set, the mortar has hardened, and when the armies come to lay siege, they’ll pray that the walls will still hold.However, that’s all in their minds, a nightmare born of worry and doubt. Perhaps their creation will last a thousand years. A million! But that doesn’t matter now, does it? Not when they return to their pens again and again, planning and replanning. It would be a shame to see their eventual creation fall. But wouldn’t it be a tragedy for it not to be built at all?




By Melissa Mathies


The scent of alcohol drifted off my aunt, my sister’s best friend Meegs, my sister Angie, and her fiancé Mike when they all made it to the car. I was trying not to laugh as they stumbled over to where I parked. I had never seen my sister like that, and I bit my lip and turned my head, waiting for them to climb into the car.

“Go to Taco Bell!” Angie and Meegs said in unison.

I almost swerved from shock. My sister, the health nut, wanted fast food? I shook my head and turned the car towards Taco Bell. They yelled from the backseat what they wanted, while Mike was leaning his head against the window, trying not to get sick, telling me if I got home in twenty minutes, he’d give me $20 dollars.

When we finally got back to Angie and Mike’s house, Mike made his way straight to bed, while Angie, Meegs, and my aunt started talking in loud obnoxious voices, telling me how college is so much better, and so forth. As they went on and on, I decided I liked my sister drunk. Every alcoholic beverage carries this memory for me. ​




By Whitney Smith

When I see the color red, I think of a fire. When I see fire, I see many different things. I see a strong flame eating away the wood in the fire pit. It only does this to prove how strong a fire can be. It can burn through anything, which, to me, applies to life itself. Sometimes you have to be brave like fire and get through the hard times. You need to burn down anything that may stand in your way. I feel like this makes me realize how tough I can be when I really need to. It makes me think that I can get through anything that life may throw at me, just like that giant flame. At some point in everyone’s life, they have to be strong and brave like a fire. I’ve had some hard times in life, but I seemed to get through them with no problem. But now that things are starting to get worse than they ever have been, I need to learn to be like that fire and put out anything in my way.




By Caitlyn Otto

Freshly-thawed fields fly by in a blur of brown plots. I barely see them ahead before they’re already far behind. The spring air is loud in my ears as the sound of the rushing wind mixes with the roar of the engine. The painful [stings] of hair whipping my face are shadowed by an immense thrill. I can barely catch my breath as my stomach fills with butterflies that thrash about in a beautiful dance of fear. The speed is unnatural but wonderful, and the air smells of earthworms and wet farms. In just seconds, we reach unimaginable speeds and in just seconds more, we’re back to a simple cruise. The pure power of it all fills me with emotions. Mostly, I feel free. ​
Zach Barnes is a senior at BSU who enjoys reading, singing, writing fiction, and chasing ghosts in his spare time. Jesse Slomka is a student of history at Bemidji State University. Melissa Mathies is majoring in creative and professional writing at BSU. Whitney Smith is a small town girl from Crookston and plans to pursue a career in social work at BSU. Caitlyn Otto is a pre-veterinary student at BSU; she likes to draw, read, write, and play video games.