©2020 by Canvas Literary Journal

Published by Cosmographia Books

Background art “Submerged” by Amelia Ao

Canvas logo by Ali Wrona


Connor Rodenbeck

Autumn 2018


Best of the Net 2019 Nomination

You once told me that Shakespeare’s words were burning. 

That all of the passion and the romance and the decadence

made the beauty go up in flames. 

You said that’s why our hearts long for love. 

You gave the profound notion that just like those words, 

our plasma was burning, 


lusting to intertwine and brand with another soul. 

I never understood what you meant by that. 

It seemed like the world was simply an asphalt ocean. 

Where the cold, apathetic waves crashed over taxi drivers and CEOs, 

hitting them over the head and rocking their insignificant, brainless skulls. 

Where caverns of salt formed and created sanctuaries for struggling jellyfish. 

A safe haven, 

an underwater oasis virtually unknown to mankind. 

Or maybe it was a big, cloudless sky. 

Light blue with the cries of blubbering babies and hereditary eye colors. 

Where languid lilacs floated on calm breezes. 

A hidden valley of air, 

a meadow that only feathers and butterfly wings knew. 

To me, the world was just simply oxygenated. 

But then, 

you gently pressed your kerosene lips on mine and breathed embers into my body. 

I became friends with the stars, finally fitting in with those orbs of blurry blaze. 

I became engulfed in a wildfire of frenzied ecstasy. 

I became a fiery oil painting of the shimmering sun. 

I became a man with pores filled with ash and char. 

I became ignited with the passion and the romance and the decadence. 

I became one of those Shakespearean sonnets. 

I became beautiful. 

It only took 451 degrees for my paper skin to start burning. 

I wish that your teary eyes could have put it out and took the pain away, 

because in my body, 

heaven and hell collided and collapsed all at once. 

But as your auburn hair cascaded along your freckled face, 

my pain stood still. 

And you gently said to me, 

“Darling, you’re a sunset.” 

So I burned into a kaleidoscope of purple and orange for you. 

I soon found out that the world is on fire. 

And it was so lovely. 

As of the Autumn 2018 publication of this piece, Connor Rodenbeck was a Freshman attending the University of Denver, planning to study Creative Writing and Journalism with his time in college.