Quick Work: Out of Control No. 3

Quick Work: Short Takes on Epic Truths

Here, in 100 words or fewer, writers make quick work of compelling true stories, in the lead up to Multiplicity’s 2024 Spring/Summer issue, OUT OF CONTROL.

A Narrow A-Frame Silver and Glass Hallway

First Night

by Jeanne Ryan

Four AM. I am suddenly awake—about to be sick from the sleep medications they gave me. I jump out of bed, my blood pressure plummeting. My head spins. Stumbling out of my room, I find the nurse halfway up the hall.

“I’m going to throw up,” I spit out.

“Let’s get you to a bathroom.” he says.

But we don’t get that far.

I am vomiting. And vomiting. Before I feel myself sliding down the nearest wall. I come to a stop when my head lands on the tile floor.

Welcome to your first night on West 5.

Photo by Cory Mogk on Unsplash

Silver Farmhouse Kitchen Sink with Gold Colored Cabinets Against a Large Picture Window

Only a Dish Away

by Sarah Chrosniak

One day, I’ll make a dent in the dishes, not have a pile of laundry to do, and live in a crumb-free world. Four wild children, homeschooling, volunteering, and a job with increasing hours and no pay raise.

I need help? I’ve learned not to say.

Time is moving, but I am not. Stagnant in my skin, afraid to be myself or who I hope to be.

You are worthy, I wish I believed.

One day, you will miss all of this, I tell myself.

I blindfold myself with gratitude, and wait for the spin cycle to finish.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

About the Writers

Jeanne Ryan and Sarah Chrosniak, Bay Path MFA candidates, wrote these pieces in the Multiplicity Studio class during the 2024 spring semester.

The Quick Work series is curated by Kate Whouley and Heidi Fettig Parton.

Quick Work: Out of Control No. 2

Quick Work: Short Takes on Epic Truths

Here, in 100 words or fewer, writers make quick work of compelling true stories, in the lead up to Multiplicity’s 2024 Spring/Summer issue, OUT OF CONTROL.

Dark-haired Man Wearing a Coat and Facing Forward with a Cell Phone at his Left Ear

Another Night Life

by William Grussenmeyer

“Work all night?” I asked into the phone.

“Until six am,” Amos said.”

“At that sewage facility?”

“Yep. Still here. Gotta keep the homeless out.”

“Out of a sewage place?”

“They steal anything they can. Or sleep inside.

There’s an encampment right outside.” He paused for a few seconds. “I gotta watch out for the serial killer too.”

“Did you say serial killer?”

“Some guy going around killing homeless people.
They know who he is. Can’t find him. Cause he’s homeless, too.”

“I haven’t seen anything on the news?” I asked.

“News don’t care,” Amos said.

Photo by Tommy van Kessel on Unsplash

Pink and red Splotchy Wall Stain that Resembles Modern Art

Divorce by Ketchup

by Robyn Weaver

I blame Heinz.

They had to go and change the labels on their ketchup bottles, and if they had never done that, Daniel would have never come up with the idea that I was trying to poison him, or that Heinz was somehow in on it. I would have never said how crazy that sounded, and he would have never thrown his dinner plate against the wall, leaving that permanent gash that bled red for days until I had the heart to wipe it clean.

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

About the Writers

William Grussenmeyer and Robyn Weaver, Bay Path MFA candidates, wrote these pieces in the Multiplicity Studio class during the 2024 spring semester.

The Quick Work series is curated by Kate Whouley and Heidi Fettig Parton.

QuickWorks Featured Image Number 1

Quick Work: Out of Control No. 1

Quick Work: Short Takes on Epic Truths

Here, in 100 words or fewer, writers make quick work of compelling true stories, in the lead up to Multiplicity’s 2024 Spring/Summer issue, OUT OF CONTROL.

Man and Woman Tucked in Close to one Another, Holding Hands on Sofa

It Will Be Okay

by Monica Deck

“Baby. Tell me I’m not having a heart attack.”

This happens a couple of times a month, if my meds are off or I’m in a pain flare, or if the sun rises in the east or the butterfly flaps its wings on Tuesday in New Mexico.

We sit on the couch. On a deep sinus inhale, his fingertips find mine, dry pads slightly rough from frequent washing.

Palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.

He brings my hand to his lips.

 “You’re not having a heart attack,” he murmurs against my skin, and kisses my hand again.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

Close-up of a Woman’s Painted Red Lips and Half Smile

The Lips that Deceive

by Sarah Leete Tsitso

I’ve mastered the fake smile. You’d never guess what’s really behind my upturned lips—exhaustion, frustration, anger—bubbling just underneath the spot where my long-absent tonsils once lived.

Years spent networking, business cards clutched in one hand and vodka soda in the other. Playing that role—pretending to care about your boat docked in Narragansett—has eaten away chunks of me. Death by 1,000 hours of small talk. Boredom and fury masked by my favorite shade of lipstick.

The smile doesn’t reach my eyes. To notice, you’d have to look up from my breasts. But that seems unlikely.

Photo by Cesar La Rosa on Unsplash.

About the Writers

Monica Deck and Sarah Leete Tsitso, Bay Path MFA candidates, wrote these pieces in the Multiplicity Studio class during the 2024 spring semester.

The Quick Work series is curated by Kate Whouley and Heidi Fettig Parton.

This Doorbell Is a Riot Anthem by Fareh Malik

Multiplicity Commons No. 9

This Doorbell Is a Protest Anthem

by Fareh Malik

This Doorbell Is a Riot Anthem by Fareh Malik

Don’t the windchimes sound like
shattering windows?
This fireplace is
a car ablaze in the street,
every wall hanging, a picket sign.
The carpet is still wet from
hoses and blood,
K-9 slobber and tear gas, incense, condensation.
You ask them,
When did this stop being your home?
was it ever yours?

I am “of color,” as they say, not Black.
I don’t know what it means to be Black today.
I do know my friends’ fears shouldn’t be
laid in caskets
with their brothers and sisters.
Brothers and sisters who marched
through the hallways and cities they built.

I know that weak knees make it hard to stand up when
we’ve had the comfort of sitting.

I know we lay our heads in shelters that stand
a million reparation cheques tall,
Slavery sweat pours forth from our taps.

I know
you have been left standing at the gate
for far, far too long.
Go, my friends.
Go give them something
that they can’t ignore.

About the Writer

Fareh Malik is an emerging spoken word poet and BIPOC writer whose work explores the intersection of mental health and social racialization. He has been published in several anthologies and literary journals. This piece will be included in Fareh’s forthcoming book, Streams That Lead Somewhere.

What Comes Up When You Think of Breonna Taylor

Multiplicity Commons No. 8

What Comes Up When You Think About Breonna Taylor?

a collaborative poem created by
Erin Binney, Jennifer Laurenza, Aprell May, Jasmin Rivas,
Amy Stonestrom, & Erin Sadler

Black and brown bodies hunted down.

A book that changed my life: 
War Against All Puerto Ricans
the King of the Towels
in an island prison called La Princesa.

Crying at the
injustice    grief     pain    devastation.
Chalk, blue dress, innocent sleeper.

They protested.

To no avail.

We need to change the system
change abuse
stop systemic racism.

I  protested!

I wrote about her
life taken
her story withheld.

We protested.

Heavy heart
How did this happen?

We know how it happened.

We need to change the system
change abuse
stop systemic racism.

Black lives matter.

What Comes Up When You Think of Breonna Taylor

About the Writers

This collaborative poem was created by six Bay Path MFA students in response to a creative prompt given by student Jasmin Rivas.

Erin Binney is a Sagittarius, an INFJ, a 1 on the Enneagram, and a firm believer that people are complex beings who shouldn’t be put into boxes. She writes about family history.

Jennifer Laurenza is a practicing psychotherapist who writes for self-preservation and creative expression. She specializes in LGBTQ mental health, and is an advocate for the LGBTQ community and other marginalized populations.

Aprell May is completing her final year in the MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Bay Path University. She is interning at the Springfield Library and Museums in collaboration with a collector to reimagine the Native American Hall and to manifest a living community exhibit.

Jasmin Rivas is an after-school program administrator, yoga instructor, and poet in the community she grew up in. She is a social justice warrior whose intention is to write stories that help people heal.

Amy Stonestrom writes about family, religion, and politics. Her work has appeared in Brevity, Storm Cellar Quarterly, Barnstorm Journal, Superstition Review, and others. You can find her at amystonestrom.com.

Erin Sadler is a licensed psychologist who specializes in working with people who have been diagnosed with cancer. She writes to forge connections that inspire, heal, and unite people.

I Stand With You by Hayley Fife

Multiplicity Commons No. 7

I Stand with You

by Hayley Fife

Growing up, I never imagined I would have to post #BLM to help fight for my Black friends. As an 18-year-old member of Generation Z, I didn’t think that in my lifetime, we would still be fighting for equal rights. I haven’t participated in a protest. I still live with my mom and she doesn’t want me going, although she supports the movement. But as much as I can, I’ve been sharing photos, links, and messages of support on social media. I try to talk about Black Lives Matter as much as possible in classes and with friends and family. I vote.

When George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, my heart broke for the Black community. I felt ashamed to know that they felt unsafe around white people, especially around police, who should make us feel safe. I’m even more ashamed that so many of these officers keep getting away with murder. When I think about my Black friends getting pulled over, it scares me. I worry about their safety, about them getting yelled at, about being thrown out of their car simply because they’re Black. Seeing police on video hurting innocent people shines a light on the injustice going on under our noses. Real change needs to happen very soon. It needs to happen now.

Sometimes I want to scream about it. The pain Black people feel is real. The hurt they are expressing is real. The fear in their body is real. How dare people say BLM is for publicity, as if Black people choose to be killed. Police are “blue” 40 hours a week; Black people are targets 24/7, 365 days a year. My Black friends carry fear around like it’s normal. But it’s not normal to fear for your life when getting pulled over. When the men in blue kneel on the necks of innocent men you love—Black fathers, husbands, brothers, sons—in the street while their actions are recorded. They kneel on your rights. Shoot up your houses while you’re sleeping. Throw tear gas into your peaceful protests.

Do all cops act this way? No. But the ones that do get away with it.

I’m not Black, but I stand with you.

About the Writer

Hayley Fife is an 18-year-old college student at Bay Path University majoring in forensic psychology. She has always had an interest in writing—and in social justice. She fully supports the BLM movement because “all lives don’t matter until Black lives do, too.”

Holding Vigil for George Floyd by Cindy Stewart

Multiplicity Commons No. 6

Holding Vigil for George Floyd

by Cindy Stewart

Holding Vigil for George Floyd by Cindy Steward

Under a nine-foot bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the

Pacifist Memorial in Sherborn, Massachusetts

Eight middle-aged women                  held space for the

life of George Floyd.

When he cried out for his mama as his

neck was being crushed          we were

beckoned. He was our

son. In silent vigil we stood at the

edge of the street                                 and held

pictures of his face no longer gracing our earth.

We held him in our

hearts as we                            held every other

Black person who has lost their

one precious life.                    We circled the

Victims of Violence stone and spoke

words to the universe of the

injustice of his death and of our         having to hold

vigil for a senseless loss, once again.

Through our fury                                we wept.

About the Writer

Cindy Stewart works with adults with special needs at The Life Experience School. She is the mother of three amazing adult children and a student in the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program at Bay Path University. Cindy lives and writes on a small farm outside Boston.

Multiplicity Commons No. 5


by Kamil Czyz

Flight by Kamil Czyz

Cop’s knee on his neck,
phones bore witness while he pleaded,
but we stood back,
obeying the badge.
Believing the pledge.

The next day,
unyielding, unmovable rage.
We overflowed streets with fury
and fire,
a pageant of soot and angst,
a sacrifice of torched cars and golden buildings
to cleanse the shame.
Glittering posts, photos of unintended violence,
unquenchable wrath.

Then, washing lines blossom,
a unison of face masks and angry t-shirts
whispering in the wind, quiet.

About the Writer

Kamil Czyz was born and raised in Olsztyn, Poland and now lives and writes in Gdańsk. His poetry has been published in Coffin Bell Journal, with forthcoming work to appear in Chitro Magazine and The Dead Mule.

Speaking Up, Finally by Susan Barry-Schulz

Multiplicity Commons No. 4

Speaking Up, Finally

by Susan Barry-Schulz

Speaking Up, Finally by Susan Barry-Schulz

I am by no means an expert on racial justice issues. I grew up in a mostly white town and moved to another mostly white town in the Hudson Valley region of New York State with my husband and our newborn daughter 25 years ago. Not long ago I would have considered myself a “nice” person who “treats everyone the same” and left it at that. Coming of age in the northern suburbs of Buffalo in the 1970s and 80s, I was socialized to avoid any discussions that could cause discomfort or tension. But in recent years I have found myself belatedly driven to answer this question: What does it really mean to be white in America?

There are many people much smarter than I am who have long pointed out that the key to making real progress on the problem of racism in this country lies in the willingness of white people to honestly consider and acknowledge the answer to that question. I don’t know why it took me so long to ask it.

After reading Debby Irving’s Waking Up White, I continued to explore the concept of whiteness as a racial identity in America by reading books on race theory and racism, including Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between The World and Me. I listened to podcasts such as Scene on Radio’s Seeing White and attended lectures by speakers directly addressing these issues. But as a poet myself, I found it just as important to read literature and poetry by people of color. Which writers are included in our school curriculums? Whose voices are we not hearing? How do we challenge the ideas of what is considered literature? Who makes these decisions?

As I read, listened, and reflected, it became more and more apparent to me that our nation’s past and current policies have a direct impact on opportunities for equal access to loans, housing, healthcare, fair pay, education, criminal justice, and representation in the arts—all rights and benefits that I, a white person in America, have had the privilege of taking for granted. Until now. It has been painful to recognize the ways in which I, through silence and inaction, have been complicit in the systemic racism that persists in this country and that continues to hold all of us back from reaching our full potential as a society. There is, however, no progress to be made, no benefit to anyone in centering my discomfort.

At the Democratic National Convention in August, Kamala Harris said, “Years from now, when this moment has passed, our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us, ‘Where were you when the stakes were so high?’ And we will tell them, not just how we felt, but what we did.”

I am hoping I can do better and the first thing I must do is to speak up. Even—especially—when it is uncomfortable.

About the Writer

Susan Barry-Schulz is a poet and licensed physical therapist. Her poetry has appeared in The Five-Two, The Wild Word, SWWIM, Shooter Literary Magazine, Barrelhouse online, South Florida Poetry Journal, The New Verse News, Panoply, and elsewhere. She is a member of the Hudson Valley Writer’s Center and lives in a lake neighborhood in Putnam County, New York with her husband and one or more of her three adult children. It all depends.

Black Lives Matter: Two Poems

Multiplicity Commons No. 3

It Took One Week

by Ramon Jimenez

It only took a week for people
to come out of quarantine into the streets of Seattle
mustering the will to face baton beatings
and gas blasting through the nighttime sky.

Police officers armed to the teeth
with military grade artillery,
and a confused National Guard
stalking every corner of downtown.

Useless against the rage of 400 years.

The local news stations of Kiro, Komo, and King 5
Replayed only the images of looting and rioting,
more focused on storefronts
than Black and Brown lives lost in broad daylight.

Even the mayor was spellbound.
Taking a knee
Giving out a couple of hugs
her lovely liberal city
burning before us all.

About the Writer

Ramon Jimenez is a writer and educator who resides in Seattle, Washington. Originally from Inglewood, California, he now teaches language arts and runs a summer youth poetry program. He writes poetry that focuses on immigration, culture, and travel, and is interested in exploring locations and how they connect to memories.