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Tributaries: 2017-2018

Online creative writing journal publishing DSC student creative output - from poetry and stories, comics, illustrations, drawings, photographs, paintings, songs and videos

Cristie Whiles

"Wedding Flowers"

Cristie Whiles

"V and V Beetle"

Cristie Whiles

"Butterfly Mouth"

Cristie Whiles

"Rat Rod"

Cristie Whiles


Cristie Whiles

Karen Morgan Phillips

Karen Morgan Phillips’s “Home Made Appalachian Apple Cider Recipe”:


10 apples, quartered

3/4 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground allspice     

Directions Add a note

Prep time: 15 m

Cook time: 3 h 20 m

Ready In: 7 h 35 m

  1. Place apples in a large stockpot and add enough water cover by at least 2 inches. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, and allspice. Bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for 1 hour. Cover pot, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 hours.
  2. Strain apple mixture though a fine mesh sieve. Discard solids. Drain cider again though a cheesecloth lined sieve. Refrigerate until cold.

Karen Morgan Phillips

Through Another’s Eyes

Karen Morgan Phillips

          I felt my backpack catch in the doors as I marched into the building. As I fell forward all I could do was laugh at how perfect a start this was to my first day on the main campus. Having grown up in all my life in small towns, the idea of going to college had been terrifying. On top of this, I have been a Type I Seizure Diabetic since I was two years old. However, Dalton State College had a small satellite campus in my hometown so my first few semesters had been rather relaxed. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take anymore classes on the satellite campus and now found myself travelling an hour and a half away from home to the main campus. Although a small state college, it was still daunting. I had been to the campus before but I had been escorted by my mother to get a feel for the campus. However, as I checked the bruises forming on my arm and side, I did not feel hopeful or prepared.

          As time went by, I did not feel any better about my college experience. I switched degrees but was consumed by feelings of inadequacy and fear of the future. This was my second year of college but I was still as unsure as a freshman. I began to wonder if I should even continue. On the first day of my third fall semester, I was called into the disability support service office to deal with a complaint about giving an insulin shot in the girls bathroom earlier in the day. This trip turned out to be a turning point in not only my college life, but my life in general all thanks to a young woman named Kayla.

          As I was leaving the disability offices I found myself tripping over what appeared to be a cane. “Oh no, did I trip you up? I’m so sorry- hehe- I didn’t see you coming.”

          I looked up to see a small, thin young woman with shoulder length brown hair looking in my direction but, instead of looking down , she seemed to be looking at the wall: “Oh, don’t worry about it. I wasn’t looking where I was going either,” at this moment I realized she was holding a cane or rather a long metal pole. For the first time, I looked at her eyes. I was met with a pair of grey, clouded eyes that seemed to stare right through me. I could feel the color drain from my face as I realized she was blind. The insensitivity of what I had just said dawned on me: “No, I mean…I’m sorry I didn’t know or realize I… I’m sorry,” I blurted out.

          She giggled: “It’s fine, really. I know you didn’t mean anything by it. You sound so shocked and surprised. Actually, it’s kind of nice that the first thing you noticed about me wasn’t the fact that I’m blind. But, you can help me. I’ve gotten a little turned around so could you tell me if I’m at the disability office.”

           Smiling nervously I nodded: “Yes you are and actually no one’s in there right now. I just got done so you shouldn’t have to wait.”

          “Oh good, wait if you were here for a meeting, then that means you’re a medical student as well. So what do you have? If you don’t mind me asking. I mean you do have a one up on me- I can’t seem to see anything wrong with you?”

          Giggling, I began to explain the world of shots, blood-sugar checks, and possible seizures. Kayla listened and in turn answered questions about her own medical issues. Before we knew it an hour had gone by. As she went into the office, I smiled hoping that we would meet again. As fate would have it, we did. The next day I walked into the first day of my Modern British Literature to find Kayla sitting in the front. I took the seat next to her and began one of the most enjoyable semesters I’d had. Over the next several weeks we became very close and I took every opportunity to observe how independent and capable Kayla was living on her own. As time went by, joking about our problems became a regular way to amuse ourselves. Eventually, when together, it was like nothing was wrong with either of us. Soon the two of us, along with other disability students, became known as Team Broken. Then one day, while sitting at a picnic table on campus, I had a life changing realization.

          “Ugh, what was that?”

          “What’s up Kayla?”

          “The sky or so I’m told- something just hit me in the face.”

          I giggled: “It was just some flower petals- the tree we’re under is blooming.”

          “Oh, good to know. Say flowers are actually pretty soft.”

          “Yeah, I guess so. You know Kayla, you see the world in such a unique way. But, I don’t know how you do it? I mean, you’re amazing. You are a straight A student and you find so many ways to laugh about a problem that would cripple most people…”

            “Let me stop you there. You know, I have little fear of the world you see because I can’t see it. When people say that I’m doing the impossible, I’m only doing regular ordinary everyday activities but you- well, you see what’s coming and still chose to face it head on. I could never give myself shots every day or keep up with complications or face possibly having a seizure. I would be terrified. So maybe it’s time you stop looking up so much and look in the mirror. You may not realize it but you are pretty inspiring too.”

          It has been two years since that conversation and Kayla’s words still inspire me. I graduated an am currently working on another degree (along with minors etc.). Anytime I begin to feel insecure or doubt myself, I close my eyes and think about how amazing my life really is and always will be. I thought my weaknesses and insecurities were obvious but the only person who saw them was myself. Sometimes we can be our harshest judges. So, I now try to look around me and see the world in a more positive light. After my conversation with Kayla, I was reminded of quote I once read from Lewis Carol in a copy of Alice in Wonderland: “when you can’t look on the bright side- I will sit with you in the dark.” This was what Kayla did for me and what I hope to do for others. Sometimes the inspiration to move forward can come from friends, a change of outlook, or just the realization that anyone can be amazing.

Rachel Morones

“Fear Not Mortal Children”

Rachel Morones


Fear not dear mortal children, for weakness is our due

The gods hold all the power, their strength drags us through

To this power the world submit, and all creatures in kind

Save for us weak humans for choice lies in our minds


Submit we must to only three goddesses in power

They for each man and woman count their every hour

Lord Zeus himself knows to no longer stand in their way

Stand in reverence to The Fates on this day


Fear not dear mortal children The Fates create your life

Obedience to these goddesses three makes it blessedly free of strife

Clotho, use your spindle make us something simple and sweet

A life of simple pleasures and worshipping at your feet


Lachesis be graceful as you measure out our time.

For a life to short is, on this earth, is an unforgivable crime

We ask not for the lives of heroes please Atropos, give us not their deaths

It would not do for a calm life to end in painful breaths


Fear not dear mortal children for weakness is our due

The Fates have decreed it, their threads will guide us through

Lives shall be lived according to the plans they make for each

For the lives of no creature is beyond their fateful reach.

Nathan Quarles


Nathan Quarles

A matted beast crashes through dense underbrush,
and it knows no failing nor anysuch as compensation
for its time, left lasting years all the while becoming
so much more a part of the world it rules.

Deep within this wood there is a false, if prophetic, man
living out his own sick plans as a woodsman and trapper
left holding bloodslick skins and furs while
he burns so much and more than yearns for rest.

Proud, the woodsman crashes through the underbrush,
but he knows no failing or anysuch as compensation
for his toil and tenacity, left lasting out the years all the while
becoming so much less a part of the words he once spewed.

Deep inside, his soul gathers shade
as he decides he is content to spill the blood of creation.
He does not know his own intent--
urge alone guides his hand.

Encapsulated in this moment and dying to reside,
both man and beast may turn away and savor the sunlight.
Either might seek shelter or take rest.

Instead they clashed with might and candor,
each collision tested faith or rang out in sadness.
They both were taught during this madness
that all of life is ash and light was for the hopeless.

He kills his beast after a time, to his own dismay.
He cleans it right there in the forest with the slightest hesitation.

He sees himself in this isolation.
He surveys the beast; it is disrobed.
His tense consideration:
Tall it stood and strong it strode,
long it lies despite the concealing vegetation.

Bare, under his blade.  
Stark is the end.  

He found himself unbelievably bereft,
now a king of this forest holding a cerecloth mantle.

The throne is abdicated, its grim price paid.

This great so-called hunter ripe with consternation,
as he, too, someday soon shall fade.

Chandler St. John


Chandler St. John


Chandler St John

The Humans sit down.
The trees give them medicine.
Their love is around.


Chandler St John

The kids see the path.
They start to journey forward.
They meet the wild.


Chandler St John

We're true to our club.
We're protected by our faith.
We have the right books.


Chandler St. John

Austin Patten

Austin Patten – “Same”



Austin Patten – “Otherside”



Austin Patten – “Honest”



Austin Patten – “Hunted”


Shelby Underwood

"The Fish"

Shelby Underwood

Karen Morgan Phillips's Ballad Essay

“It’s a Hard Mountain Life – but – I Will Still be Here Tomorrow” (Yes, I went there-Annie Forever)


Karen Morgan Phillips


1.   Reading River of Earth one will see

a land of hope and misery

Still shows a life both harsh and quick

Surviving in the Mountains

2.   Appalachian life deals a hard hand

But those that understand

Will still be here tomorrow

I wish to show the beauty and respect

3.   Of those like Still

Who belonged here

Who know the danger and the death

that may come with each breath

4.   But in the River of Earth I see

A hard mountain life with endless troubles

But, we’ll git thruw um yet

Appalachian tales are made of sorrow

5.   woe, hardship, hunger, death

but runnin underneath are

 life and endurance

Themes of lasting love and connection

6.   born of trials and the land

In the end, the stories will last

cause their true

and I’ll prove it yet

7.   wanna show the horror and the beauty

explore the joy and the everlasting love

of the hard mountain life

ain’t imprisoned in the mountains but bound to ‘um

8.   showin the respect for things made by God

and sing the by gone praises of livin in Appalachia

studyin the themes of life in the River of Earth

why so many stories of choosin to stay

9.   and still be there tomorrow

no matter the pain or strife

Still singing about the great Appalachian life

Want to see how one survived in years past

10.   how life was lived and not suffered

understand the respect in the literature

the Appalachian pride and strength

reflected in the tales of might

11.   how native Appalachians can suffer and endure

and still come back in the mornin

all these themes of loving survival

and choosing to return no matter what

12.   appear in the River of Earth

 are a part of the Appalachian literature

And that hard mountain life.


Works Cited

Dunn, Durwood. Cades Cove: The Life and Death of a Southern Appalachian Community. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 1988. Print.

            Kephart, Horace. Our Southern Highlanders. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 1913. Print.

            Lang, John. Appalachia and Beyond: Conversations with Writers from the Mountain South. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 2006. Print.   

            Marshall, Ian. Story Line: Exploring the Literature of the Appalachian Trail. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 1998. Print.