august prompt: navigation

Summer screeches to a halt and fall begins. Navigating new journeys and conquering old routes, pavement potholes and fresh yellow paint. Peripheral vision, wandering thoughts, and minor adjustments. Let’s talk about the intentions, the aims, and the methods of navigating new stages of our lives.


Taken After Brisket, Three Days and One Spontaneous Trip to Austin.

Filmed by Ally Carvahlo


This video was taken after a hefty brisket sandwich, three days and 8 miles of walking and one spontaneous trip to Austin, Texas.

"Why'd you come here?" the lady at the hostel said. Then the sweetie at the coffee shop at the book store where I cried by the lady who read and wrote about death. Then the guy on the plane ride home.

I'm not quite sure why I went to Austin. I just kept thinking about Austin. And being young and knowing that I won't be young much longer. And I kept thinking about how functional life has become since my dad died and how I need to maximize my time. I kept thinking about how I'm coming off the biggest year of my life (albeit we think EVERY year is the biggest year of our life when we're young and passionate and figuring it out) and about to start The Last Year of the Good Ole Days (college). So I went to Austin. And I'm still not really sure why.

I thought maybe it would be the beginning of a story. Like: "I didn't really know why I went to Austin but I met the love of my life and I knew it was meant to be there" or "Austin set me on a path that I never would have gone down without following my instinct". But really I'm writing this story and I don't think that was the beginning. Or the end. I don't know, I'm only 21.

But I went to Texas and realized: I don't like how hot it is. Travelling alone can be thrilling- but unless you're in a remote place, you're never REALLY alone (not in a Hallmark way, in a "our world is over populated" sentimentality). I learned I like telling strangers intimate things and leaving voicemails for a dude I'm still trying to figure out if I love as a person or as a romantic person. I learned that Austin's transit is cheap but not quite efficient and that standing paddle boarding is THE COOLEST THING AND GO DO IT BECAUSE THE BOARD BASICALLY DOES ALL THE WORK FOR YOU.

And maybe that's why I went to Austin. Whatever that means!



Written by Tanner Colmer


It’s July.


I’m at Oak Street Beach, pruning in the desert sun. I've been on the beach long enough now to turn my skin a shade of indigo. I try the water, but the water boils your blood and bone to dust assimilating you into the sand.


Nevertheless I keep trying.


Matilda’s fine. She lays effortlessly on the Earth without a sound or a move letting the sun tear away her outsides to reveal the beauty underneath.




I can’t take it so i begin to wander about in search of sanctuary and oasis. My sonar picks up the ring-dingaling of ice cream. It picks up. And up. And UP!


Its Tom Waits! He’s the ice cream man! He’s serving children soft serve mint chocolate chip ice cream mixed with a shot of bourbon and topped with a cigarette to suck on.


I buy two and tip him a sand dollar. They last a minute. I regurgitate them downwards letting the cold ice rocks cut my throat.


A ferry man pulls to the curb I'm standing at, says he’s on his way to Tulsa. All he needs is a tank of gasoline and one more soul.


Why not? Wouldn't you?


So I obliged, leaving Matilda a message with Tom saying I needed to speak with a man about 14 geese and a case of ketchup.


We speed down I44 like a red taxi with an extra tire and I think to myself.


“This is it, this is where I'm going.”


So shake off the old earth far from home

And work work work til you dry your bones

These’re hard times honey and your dreams are far

These’re hard times honey to be wishing on a star


Better lace up your boots and walk real hard

Keep your wishes in the dishes and two fingers on your heart

These’re hard times honey to be wishing on a star

But keep on, ziggy wasn't born with a guitar.


Colorado "Natives"

Written by Jamie Chamberlain


When moving to any new city, it prompts you to make some minor adjustments to your life. When I moved to Denver, I had a hard time learning how to deal with poor driving, the lack of a functioning public transportation system, and expensive everything. 


Although adjusting to smaller-city life has been rather smooth, there is one thing I can’t look past… Colorado’s infatuation with the word “Native.” Drive down Speer Boulevard for a few minutes and you’re guaranteed to see a small sticker that resembles a Colorado license plate with the word “Native” printed across it. If you go on a Westword post, I bet you’ll find a 44-year-old man boasting that he is a “Colorado Native” while reminiscing about “how great Colorado was 15 years ago.” That's nothing new, go on any Facebook post and you’ll see a middle-aged white guy being adorably ignorant. What's startling are all the young people with “Native” printed on their car. At first I chuckled at the concept of a white guy driving around in a car with a sticker that says “Native” on the back, but after a few minutes I became overwhelmed by the level of ignorance this behavior portrays.  Not only is the elitist idea of being a “Native” cumbersome, but it reaches a new tier of ignorance. You are not a Native. You are a white, computer engineer who drives a 2016 Subaru Legacy and drinks Kombucha on weekends. These people fail to comprehend that once again, whites are taking other people’s culture-rich heritage and claiming it as their own. 

Native Americans have received the raw end of the deal since we stepped foot on their land. We murdered them in droves, pushed them west of the Mississippi River, and just recently tried to run a pipeline through one of their sacred graveyards. Their cultures, lands, and loved ones have been stripped and pillaged to the point of near extinction, but Chad, whose grandpa moved here after WWII, is so fed up over Denver’s population increase he needs to put a “Native” sticker on his cargo carrier? Please...The “Native” sticker sums up the Colorado experience to a T: ignorant white people, who have a fear of being an ignorant white person. Everyone is trying so hard to be unique, while unknowingly teetering a racist line. It's scary.

The lack of self-awareness in this town is borderline malignant, and in an effort to make sure Denver gets the point, I made an easy to follow diagram. 


Next time a Colorado-an identifies as a “Native,” politely ask which tribe they belong to. When they answer Cap Hill or LoHi, kindly take the time to educate them.


I Hate You Jack Kerouac

Written by Megan Stringer


The way your words followed my body
Climbing into a car
With the windows down
On a highway or back road,
Either open and supposedly
Free. How that following
Turned into pursuing,
Nagging, gnawing at the back
Of my head, even after
The windows closed. 


I hate the murmur of your voice
Juxtaposed with the lilt
Of my own while reading yours
Out loud to myself. The
Similarity chewed at my
Fingers every time they
Positioned a mechanical pencil
Over clean white pages
In an empty book.
Mine wasn’t more empty
Than yours, but you’d
Have it so, Kerouac.


When I rode the Amtrak
(North and a little east) 
I’d hate how you lounged
Nearby, like the man in the seat behind
My own, running his mouth
In hopes that others might listen
But nobody asked, 
Nobody dared.
It was casual, 
It was common. 


I hate how you were gifted
To overgrown friends, boxed
Up in packages
With innocent bows,
From doting mothers
Still not sure how much
Freedom is too much,
For young dreaming girls
Too afraid of themselves. 


On the Road at night
It’s too dark for thinking;
The diner waitress stares
Out the window at the auto shop
Across the street in
The white light. Kerouac turned
Me into a foolish, lovestruck girl
With an eagerness and a grudge
And a mechanical notebook, a pocket
Full of lists
That have never been checked off.


Thanks to all those who submitted for our August prompt! Take a look at our September prompt, Momentum. Send any questions and submissions to by Wednesday, Aug. 30 at midnight.