“The Rock” Written and Read by Heather Chamberlain, Performed by Julianna Mattson

“The Rock”

“washcloth” by Heather Chamberlain

With a wet washcloth you wash your face.

Then the pure white cloth is forever stained,

and you foolishly believe your face is clean.


In the mirror you primp, and you preen,

but just because salt revives the skin

doesn’t make it blemish free.


Every night when you remove the base,

you stare hard and cold at the path you’ve traced;

squeezing the washcloth, in your hand restrained.


And every morning you conceal your sin.

And it works,

‘cause it does hide the darkness within.


And every night,

once again,

with a wet washcloth you wash your face.


Photograph made available by Brian Patrick Tagalong via Unsplash.

“A Rosebud That Blooms Begins to Die” by Heather Chamberlain

A rosebud that blooms begins to die,

But there’s still hope in the petals restrained.


There’s intensity—a swelling energy.

There’s friction, but it rubs deliciously.

The bud is aching to unfold—

It’s story to be told—

Exposed for all the world to behold.


It desires to be noticed—

Time demands the next stage of life;

Nature compels the floret to open.

But if it complies,

The spirit within amplified—

On the surface, fatigues in a moment.


There’s still hope in the petals restrained,

But a rosebud that blooms begins to die.


Photo made available by Vanessa Serpas via Unsplash

“The Sleazy Politician’s Tale (in the style of Geoffrey Chaucer)” by Heather Chamberlain

For years he’s lived in confusion,

unable to escape the delusion

that he doesn’t belong here; he never did.

Despite his efforts, he’s unable to rid

himself of this sour cognition:

that something strange separates him

from the people he’s been with all this time.

Something’s permeated and poisoned his mind.

Whatever it is, it’s gamy and sweet—

replete of exhilarating self-conceit—

that seed of malice born of the core.

Like a user, he yearns for more.


From amongst the shadows he emerged one night,

wandering in a dark forest and in quite

a curious predicament he was in—

not knowing where he was or where he’d been,

or who he was. He thought, how odd,

when the ground began to rattle and out of the fog

appeared a circus caravan brilliantly lit,

and they welcomed the drifter—a fellow misfit.

Virtuous people will do all that they can

to lend a fellow man a helping hand,

but ahead, bleak Destiny awaited;

that fearsome Huntress had them all baited.


He was as blissful as they of the depth of his nature,

but one’s heart can often be fooled by behavior.

The man’s goodness and honor were surely fictitious,

but his companions never became remotely suspicious

of his mysterious arrival that was quite dismaying.

They all had pasts not worth relaying.

In fact, they found the man extremely enchanting:

young, charismatic, and commanding.

They wanted his leadership and made up their mind.

They devised a plan and in no time

the old ringmaster was executed,

and the disease of power was rooted.


Photograph made available by Lukasz Szmigiel via Unsplash

“Shadow” by Heather Chamberlain

On the ground a familiar shadow is cast;

a scene I recall from a distant past.

Sunlight dances, tree branches sway-

out the window I gaze unto a previous day.

The shadow grows angry, and larger, and still

larger. I lean closer to the window sill.

It looms over a child; overbearing.

Spit erupts from its mouth as the shadow starts swearing.

Its dark fist pumps the air, then it raises its hand,

the little girl cowers; on her cheek it lands,

then again, and again, before the shadow storms away.

The girl remains frozen from her child’s play;

overcome with shame for her crime of the day.

Tears well in my eyes. I look away.


Photograph made available by Martino Pietropoli via Unsplash


“Carrying Capacity of Fox Squirrels on Friends University Campus” by Heather Chamberlain

Carrying Capacity of Fox Squirrels on Friends University Campus

By Heather Chamberlain

Introduction: Fox squirrels can be found throughout much of Central and Eastern United States, as well as further north into southern Canada. These squirrels are identified by their brownish-reddish fur and orange underbellies. Surprisingly, fox squirrels are omnivores. Though they may prefer to eat nuts, they will eat just about anything they can get their hands on; from wild fruit, seeds, insects, mushrooms, even occasionally bird eggs, to tree bark, and anything trying to sprout up in your garden. In summer, they build nests of leaves and/or twigs high up in forked branches of a shady tree. They do not hibernate, so in winter a preferred nesting site would be a hollow tree in which plant material can be brought in to create a warm rest area.

In Kansas, fox squirrels are the most commonly encountered type of squirrel of the three species inhabiting the state. Friends University in Wichita is an optimal habitat for these squirrels to thrive. However, every supporting ecosystem has its limits. Carrying Capacity is the maximum number of a species that an environment can sustain before its resources are depleted. Even an ideal environment, such as Friends University, can only carry so many squirrels for so long. The resources fox squirrels benefit from at this university are an abundance of multiple species of shady trees, and about half of them nut- and fruit-producing. According to Darwin’s idea of biotic potential, a population of squirrels in an area of bountiful resources will continue to grow. As it does, the population will need to expand to new grounds or risk exhausting resources, or even possibly extinction. The objective of this report is to determine how many fox squirrels the Friends University campus may successfully sustain.

Methods: The Friends University Campus measures 54.5 acres. The experiment was conducted using a sample of trees from roughly 2 acres of campus landscape. The trees in this area were measured by circumference and determined as nesting and/or food sites. The number of trees examined in this sample equaled approximately 54. On the 54.5 acres of campus, there are 18 buildings. Using the dimensions of the largest building on campus, estimates were made as to how many of those acres contain biotic vs. abiotic features. One acre is the equivalent of 43,560 square feet. Davis Hall measures 77,474 square feet. Rounding this number up, the building equals roughly 2 acres. If we roughly estimate the other 17 buildings on campus as about half the size of Davis Hall, also incorporating additional features not directly measured like walkways and other small areas non-sustainable for squirrels, this roundabout estimate leaves us with 35 acres of land left. There are just about as many parking lots as there are buildings, and they measure an even greater number of feet; not to mention the length of the football field. We’ll take another 25 acres off our total for those features as well.

Results: What is left is a very rough estimate of 10 acres for wildlife habitat. If we take our calculations for the 2 acres of land examined, and apply it to another 8 acres, it should give us an approximate idea as to how many squirrels can sustainably live on Friends University. Of the sample of 54 trees examined, 49 were deemed suitable for nesting. Based on the circumference of each sufficient tree, numbers from previous experiments may determine how many nests each tree can support. By analyzing measurements gathered in this experiment: of 54 trees on 2 acres of land, in 49 ideal trees optimal for nesting, 85 nests could be supported. If each nest can support 2 squirrels, by these numbers, an estimated 170 squirrels can comfortably live on these two acres. If we multiply this number by our rough estimate of an available 10 acres of habitat, an approximate 850 squirrels can adequately be sustained on this campus. Experts say that eastern fox squirrels are not territorial, so it is possible that they could overcrowd on a land if they do not disperse.

Food producing trees in a squirrel’s habitat greatly affect carrying capacity as well. Again, of the 54 trees examined, a total of only 22 were found to produce a food supply. A squirrel’s primary food source is nuts, and then, if necessary, berries and seeds. Eighteen trees were discovered to produce nuts or berries. Four trees were conifers and, therefore, produce cones (which a squirrel may substitute in its diet). Results from a previous study determine that, due to a tree’s size, of our 18 nut and berry producers, a total of 47 squirrels can be supported. An additional 7 squirrels can be supported if cones of conifer trees are supplemented. These totals suggest only 54 squirrels can be supported with food resources from 2 acres on Friends University campus. Again, if we multiply that to include our additional 8 acres of available environment, we find that 270 squirrels can be supported by food resources.

possible food

possible food 2

Discussion: If a potential population of 850 squirrels can comfortably live in an area, but only 270 are supported by food, what do these number variances mean? One possibility may be that not all of the squirrels are eating their preferred food sources. They may be resorting to other sources listed above, such as insects, or green sprouts. Perhaps a study could be conducted to calculate in these other food sources. Our inhabiting squirrels may be foraging in more distant territories than Friends University campus. However, a squirrel usually stays pretty close to home (an estimated 10 hectares or less). Those squirrels living on the edges of campus may have home territories within 10 hectares but not on the property of the college campus. One research article stated that a single squirrel may build several nests. Our squirrel numbers might be lower than we estimated if we decide to take this possibility into consideration.

Our calculations in this study represent the maximum number of squirrels that can theoretically be supported by the resources available at Friends University. This may not represent realistic population numbers. An addition to this research may be to reevaluate the dimensions of this experiment to create a more realistic representation. Squirrel populations experience a fairly steady mortality rate, but reproduction rate is pretty stable as well. Also, how squirrels obtain water resources on this campus would be an interesting aspect to look into.

Works Cited

“Fox Squirrel Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior.” Animals Time, 7 Mar. 2016.

“K-State Research and Extension.” Tree Squirrels.

Squirrels (Family Sciuridae).

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