Home / The Garden / White-box-juveniliaPhoto: Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

The Garden

White Box Juvenilia

by Adriane Quinlan

There was a boy and a girl and they were


They were not at the beach or the coast,

these stories end in coasts. They were not at the bowling lanes

which closed early on Sundays or the scooped out hollows of back alleys,

there were no garages or emptied factories, no sofas or sidechairs.

This story takes place in a cube.

And the people in the story, the two of them: they were not named Henry or Dawn.

They had no names and everything was inestimably easy.

Juvenilia are the written works and compositions by a younger author before reaching artistic maturity.

There was nothing in the cube but the color white and the two people

and they moved around and they did not sit,

they were not quiet and they said nothing.

The walls of the cube would move in and out sometimes


and one day Henry got bored. His name was not Henry, but he was one of

the two and we should call him such. He mouthed something to Dawn which

we could not hear. It would have sounded like this,

“Let’s go to the coast.”

The inspiration for the name Henry was not a boy, but a dog — a German shepherd that frightened Adriane as a child.

She nodded and the two moved to the left wall. They called the left

wall the coast. The right wall was the bowling alley and the floor

was the ocean. The ceiling was the alleyway, which made no sense.


But there was no ceiling and no left, all of the walls were the same.

Adriane wrote the first draft of this piece 15 years ago.  She revisited and revised the piece this year, drawing on her memories of the time and contemporary reflections. 

By the coast, they sipped rootbeer (she bit at his skin).

“Why are you always doing that?” he asked, inaudibly.

“Doing what?”

“Sipping your rootbeer like that.”


They got in a fight by the coast.

Henry went to the bowling alley and drank alone.

Dawn took a walk in the alleyways. They didn’t talk for days.

A week later Henry had been fired from his job. His job had been

about being sad. He had been asked to quit. So he took a walk by the ocean.

“Juvenis” is the Latin word for a young boy.  In her memories of the poem, Adriane realized she had been inspired by her younger romantic crushes on boys that turned into literary crushes on male writers like Donald Barthelme.

There was a girl there, she looked naked but he could not tell.

“Why did you come here?” he shouted. He could tell it was Dawn in the ocean.

Dawn smiled and she came out of the water.

Barthelme’s short story “The Balloon” became a primary influence on Adriane’s poem. 

The cube was very white and they had no names. There was no other way

to tell the story.

Adriane describes David Berman as her main poetic inspiration. Her love for him is pure, literary and un-crush related.  

Adriane Quinlan's poetry has appeared in Hobart and Wussy Mag. She deploys her obsession with the sounds of words by stuffing them in correspondents' mouths as a writer for VICE News Tonight on HBO.

Leave a Reply