a lit / art zine. Edited by Alexandra Naughton. Fifth issue, baby. Printed November, 2012. To submit your work, head over to thetsaritsasez.com or email: zinebeaboutit@gmail.com Next issue’s theme: PULL

[I DON'T WANT AN APPLE IN MY THROAT] * I know my car is a piece of the biosphere I know sitting on a river bank in a storm of gnats I know living is like a pasture cow sticking its head out of the fence to lick at a dilapidated flower I know how hard it is to define evil I know someone is dying right now I know I'm already older than I was I know what it's like to search the details of the moon in a telescope I know the medium is the method I know it is what one does with the machine I know that an airplane is a time machine I know that it is raining in my head I know my brain is in a traffic jam I know cold water at night I know two bodies together in cold water I know getting killed driving thru a two way stop mistaken for a four way

I know my life happened after I died I know I can use my legs to take me anywhere it just might take a while I know the fellowship of my handmedown clothes I know the performance of my organism I know the hairs on my arms are like commas I know that money actually grows on trees I know how it feels to shake dice at my solitude I know the (un)subtleties of matter I know death will commit suicide walking down an icy road huddled around the fire in its blood

[WHAT IF MY CAT & I SHARE SO MUCH DNA SHE BECOMES PARTIALLY HUMAN & I BECOME PARTIALLY CAT] & I start to think in meows to build theories around the sound 'meow' as if it were a holy noise that reverberates in the profound center of a cave

what if my partially human cat thinks in the english language abt her ideal lover or abt how we all die eventually what if her cat instinct accompanied by the english language allows her to comprehend mysteries that elude human rationality what if I can make my cat manipulate her voice to annunciate common english words & can teach her to respond coherently to questions abt the weather does it matter that I can call my cat & she walks over does it matter that she responds primarily to energy & the pitch of my voice does it matter that I don't know what intelligence means when contrasting a cat to a human

[AFTER BILL KNOTT] if you are still dead when you read this, open your eyes. I am on the tips of your eyeballs, growing bright.
- Matthew Sherling

- Photo by Neal of Kiwis Can Fly

HIJINKS There’s her cigarette, still burning. She spits out onto the train tracks. Samantha and Jonas sit in silence a bit longer. They sit on a little platform that extends out from the broken sidewalk underneath the bridge. Just off towards the riverbank across on the other side of the tracks there is an old, abandoned shed, their “clubhouse.” Beneath the bridge, right by the tracks, is their favorite place to smoke and shoot the breeze. They could always steal off into the clubhouse when it got especially chilly. There, the two would disappear beneath the bridge and hide in the clubhouse for hours on end. It was a wonder that their families never went out and searched for them, even when it was well past dark. It had been weeks since the last time they were able to sneak down to the tracks, especially after both of them

incurred visits to the principal’s office and then their recent streaks of detention on Saturday mornings. Jonas and Samantha sigh, and soak in the silence. They often sat together like this, absorbing the night. The lights of a train off in the distance streak across Samantha’s face. She removes her feet from the tracks and scoots her bottom closer to the wall of the bridge. The train approaches, screeching against the rails. “Do you have another smoke?” Samantha asks Jonas. “Don’t you have any?” “If I did, why would I ask?” “Oh, right.” Jonas reaches around to his back pocket, and takes out his last cigarette. He bummed them from Charlie, the notorious bully at school. Charlie continues to bully and beats kids up, simply because they wouldn’t move him on to high school. He is the most enormous 8th grader. The only way Jonas was able to secure the smokes was while his face was smushed against the side of a toilet bowl. “Agree or your face is going to get it!” Charlie said and he pushed his claws into the back of Jonas’ neck. Finally, Jonas agreed to a prank against Ms. Finn, the 6th grade science teacher, the youngest teacher and the loveliest in the school. Charlie let go of Jonas’ neck and threw the pack of smokes at him, laughed and left the boys’ bathroom. Poor Ms. Finn. She is, indeed, very beautiful, but she is also the one all the older kids harangue. Her neophyteness is apparent, and all the kids realized her uncertainty when she stood in front of the classroom for the first time. It was the day of the prank, and the kids all sit in avid anticipation. There is a plastic bowl with a goldfish sitting on top of the door to the 6th grade science room. Everyone is present, and all of them sit and wait patiently for Ms. Finn to arrive. “Hey, that’s my goldfish!” Clara cries out, the smallest one in the class. “Shhh! We’re just borrowing it!” Jonas

whispers, he hides behind Clara’s desk, and starts giggling. The moment arrives, and Ms. Finn opens the door, and walks in. SPLASH!!!!!!!!!!! “OH MY WORD! WHAT? WHAT’S THIS?! CLARA! IS THIS YOUR GOLDFISH!?” The class bursts into a roar of laughter. Jonas beams. “Well, isn’t this just perfect. And I was just about to introduce you all to your substitute teacher. I have to leave for the doctor today. Wait, I can’t believe this! Clara! Come over here and get your goldfish!” Clara starts to cry, and she slowly gets up from her desk, rubbing the tears away from her eyes. “It was my goldfish.” “Okay, here is your substitute.” A man in black appears suddenly in front of the class. “Well, hello children.”
- Kimberly Kim

SURPRISE! YOU HAVE MORE SIBLINGS! I dare say I’m usually pretty content. I have my routines and my schedules and everything usually goes according to plan. I’m not a fan of change, and definitely not a fan of surprises. Suddenly, after years and years, my father wanted not only contact with me, but to introduce me to his children. Surprise! You’ve won a shiny new set of siblings! Complete with your new and improved father! I was sitting in my living room when the subject came up,

and it was surreal. My brain had trouble processing the idea. “I already have siblings,” I told myself. “Do I really need more?” I wondered how this would affect me, how it would affect them, and how it would affect my family, since I consider myself to be a complete extension of them. I’m nothing if not an aunt, a sibling, or my mother’s daughter. My two sisters came to my apartment to join me for this meeting; this “introduction” of siblings. My father and his daughters showed up a good fourteen minutes later than I had scheduled. Isn’t it strange; the things you notice when you’re weary? Watching the clock was painful. Was I waiting for them to arrive, or waiting for it to be over? I couldn’t tell at the time. They stepped into my apartment and sat on my couch without taking their coats off. My apartment was warm and I wondered if they felt it. I offered them something to drink, but they said no. I couldn’t help but notice how tiny they are. They’re only pre-teens, after all, but they seem much smaller to me. Maybe I just feel much bigger. Or older. Having over a decade in age difference can do that to you. Being in a room with complete strangers who share half your DNA can do that to you too, I guess. The conversation carried on, despite how quiet they are. It was mostly my father and I speaking. He started telling childhood stories; stories about how proud he was that I was a reader by age three and how my sister was like a little monkey and how he used to go on adventures with us. I kept looking over at his daughters. I thought about how awkward it must be for his girls to be hearing that. The younger one would sneak glances at me; I could feel her questions simmering but when I looked over at her she would smile and look away. I looked over at my sisters and it seemed like they were (as usual) protecting each other behind their own little force field, something they’ve had since they were babies. I wished I was in their little bubble. After an hour or so, they left (with a copy of Little Women

from me because big sisters do that kind of thing; give their favorite books away to siblings in need of good literature). My sisters went home too, leaving me feeling grateful for having them in my life. I wasn’t surprised by my father’s daughters. They were exactly what I expected: nice kids who look like my father. I wasn’t surprised by my sisters. They were exactly who they always are. I wasn’t even surprised by my father. I was surprised by myself. I didn’t feel anger towards those little girls. I didn’t even feel that much anger towards my father. At the end of it all, there was just sorrow. Sorrow for those little girls who just found out they have adult siblings; sorrow for the man who made them while relinquishing his love for the kids he already had; and sorrow for broken families everywhere who end up having “surprises” like this one. - Chio Smith

- Photo by Jerry Maldonaldo

AN EXCERPT FROM: THEY SAY I. When dreaming, traveling the edge of a nothing earth they say. We bring baskets and collect figs for our journey. Splicing open the bountiful seeds splicing open. Conception. An estranged grasp. Register vibrates. Legislators of the present take hold. This, of our dreams. All of the seeds, scattering when they pass. Returning, nascent. We burrow deep under the weight of the ocean carried. But something grows. A tree or black hole of conception and round. Something of swerve resounding at the base of the spine. Happening like frames the drawing sequential fast the elegant speed undetected. Nausea because of this traces amalgamation melting, burned in the eyes. Shuffle the frames. III. All of this, I wear of it, become the clothes. We strip the binding clothes to cover to clothe to cover and this saves us from the piling, the weight limiting movement. How to not be in awe. The awful beat of our hearts. The beasts we see in glass. This terror in recognition and repetition as a form of exorcism. Like getting caught in the mirror when high, we try to sort the frames. Making naked for examination illuminates the delicate curve of each. Like children, the horror of terror in each wonder. Each separate with its similar organs, appendages, each gesture more nuanced that the last, melting in to the next is happening. Hypotheses cast their nets and stings to tie the hands to tie the hoodwinked woman is drawn as the center card in this reading. IV. This is the way that it goes until it circles back into itself and the living knows its image. It seeks gestures to find the original. Uploaded on facebook, instagram, sent through gmail, it is somehow more pixilated and always altered. It stakes itself in the environment and suddenly moss growing out of side walk cracks and bald faced moon uncover blood red strings pull it three dimensional.
- Ivy Johnson

- Photo collage by Phil Sidebottom

FAMILY MAN Alvin didn’t sleep the night he received the orders. He knew it was a possibility, but he’d never truly considered that it could happen to him. In training, they had warned him about this sort of thing. They told him not to get attached, not to make connections with others. They were right of course, and it was all because of situations like this. Alvin had known all of this, but he’d gotten married anyway. Greta was too beautiful a woman to avoid. He’d resisted interacting with her at first, but it was a weak effort at best. She made him feel ways that he’d never felt about anyone before. Eventually they were spending more and more time together. Of course, Alvin’s work took priority over social life. Greta was uncommonly understanding of the arrangement, never asking questions, and never getting angry at him for spending long periods away from her. Each time they met

again, their passion was renewed again. After some months like this, Greta suggested that they marry and start a life together. Alvin had considered this. He knew the risks involved, but his love for her made him agree, and soon they had their own home together. They had spoken about children, but Alvin knew that this was an impossibility. There were no physical issues, of course, but he knew that he could never bring a child into the world who might some day discover, or even become involved, with his secret profession. Furthermore, anything his employers could do to Greta was not nearly as terrible as what they could do to a child. So, instead of telling her the truth, Alvin had simply said he wasn’t ready to have children yet. She was somewhat disappointed, but understanding. It pained him slightly that he couldn’t tell her what he really did for a living, but he’d grown accustomed to lying. Tonight was their tenth anniversary. It was difficult to believe that they’d been together this long, but the facts remained. There were times Alvin wondered what his employers knew about his life with Greta, but he didn’t like to dwell on it. Perhaps his orders were pure coincidence, a simple case of Greta being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Either way, Alvin was not one to question orders, as difficult as they might be to carry out. He had seen the consequences for failure, and knew that his life depended on his actions that night. He tried to flush these thoughts from his mind as he prepared dinner for the evening. Greta was still at work, and had no idea that Alvin had planned this for her. It was a dish they’d first eaten on their honeymoon in Paris. With the exception of one violent task Alvin had to carry out in secret one night, they both remembered their time in Paris fondly. He chopped the vegetables, slowly, methodically, as the gears of his mind slowly turned. Before he realized it, he was considering the best method to kill his wife. A garrotte would suffice, but that method would surely show signs of a

struggle, and could prolong death, which was unacceptable. Better to make it look like an accident, if possible. Poison would have been the favourable option, but he didn’t have the equipment on hand, and it had to be done tonight. Suffocation was an option, but Alvin found the method distasteful. Someone who he loved deserved a better death than that. Better to do it quickly, and quietly, as he was trained to do. A gunshot to the head would be best. The silencer would ensure that the neighbours heard nothing, and it would be quick and painless. The ring of his phone jarred Alvin out of his thoughts. He answered quickly, expecting to hear his wife calling from work. Instead, the voice was someone different. They were official sounding, but unfamiliar. “Is it done?” The voice asked. “Not yet, but soon.” “See that it’s done by tomorrow. You know the consequences.” The line went dead as Alvin’s hand hung by his side limply. He was prepared to do what he had to, but the reality of the situation gave him pause. Perhaps there’s some other way, he thought. Something I haven’t thought of. He thought and thought, but there was only the cold, unchangeable truth that he would have to commit a murder that night, and it secretly terrified him. Alvin only began to move once more when he realized the pot he’d put on the stove was boiling over. After preparing dinner, which settled his mind somewhat, Greta finally arrived home. Her eyes lit up when she entered the dining room to see what Alvin had prepared. “Oh, Alvin!” She said, gasping in that special way that Alvin had known since they were dating. “It’s all so wonderful. Did

you make all of this yourself?” “I did. Happy anniversary, darling.” She walked across the room to hug him tightly. In that moment, Alvin felt a slight emptiness in his soul at the thought of what he would soon have to do. Better to forget it for the time being and enjoy the night, he thought. They ate quietly, in the sort of comfortable silence that only couples seem to share. Greta found the food to be delicious and cooked perfectly, almost as well as it had been in Paris, she’d said. Between sips of wine, they looked at each other, knowing that words were inadequate to describe how they felt about each other. After a meticulously prepared dessert, they skipped doing the dishes, and went upstairs to the bedroom. Both of them were excited, and they fairly raced each other there. Their clothing was half off before they were in the room. Greta pulled Alvin close and kissed him deeply as they slowly drifted onto their bed. In those few moments, Alvin completely forgot about his task, and was glad to do so. After they were finished, Alvin remembered the unfortunate duty he had yet to perform. He rose from the tangled sheets, causing the half-asleep Greta to stir. He muttered to her some excuse about getting a glass of water, and waited for her to lay back down before he left the room. Quickly, he went into the guest bedroom and retrieved his pistol and silencer from the secret compartment underneath the floorboards. Alvin’s nerves began to act up, making his hands shake as he attached the silencer. He sat for a moment and talked to himself under his breath to calm himself. “It’s alright, Alvin. Just one quick shot, and you’re finished. You don’t even have to look at her if you don’t want to. Just press it against her head and pull the trigger. Just like target

practice. You don’t have to worry about cleanup, it’s already taken care of. So you just go in there, do the job, and get out. Okay.” He stood up, hands no longer shaking, ready to follow his orders. Greta had shifted position since he’d been out of the room, but she seemed to still be asleep, which Alvin was thankful for. He slid back into bed as quietly as he could, and brought the pistol up to his wife’s head. Suddenly, Alvin felt a hot pain between his ribs, which caused all of his nerves to lock up, preventing him from pulling the trigger. He looked down to see a knife covered in his blood. He was sure he’d been stabbed in the heart, and he knew that he had only moments of life remaining. He looked into the face of the woman he’d married, and he barely recognized it. This new woman had a cold, determined face, and Alvin was very afraid of it. Greta pulled him close as he felt the very life draining from him. She whispered into his ear, and he realized these were the last words he would ever hear. “I‘m sorry, Alvin. I‘ve known for five years…”
- David Shortt

-Photo by Rachelle Nones

“Waiting Room,” illustration by Adele C. Geraghty

Spring sun traces sky groups of brothers find others repeating patterns. Understand brothers fishing in flooded rivers form dangerous bonds.

Running down hot roads Locust songs reverberate screaming "ah la la." Placing worms on hooks fish circle inside white buckets discovering life. Rap session fire lit Yellow light fights back black night Please don’t let it end. Interrupted dreams: Alcohol, women, war, drugs. Mom and Dad aren’t here. Sometimes brothers drift yellow autumn leaf swirling amidst river currents. Ending winter cold memories warming swirling life finding brothers.
- Chris Norkun

STEAKS I’m sitting here in my office at home on a rainy day, trying to decide whether to take a teaching position for four courses at University X or three there and one at St. Mary’s. A guy just came to the door with a yellow note in his hand. He was wearing a tank top and gym shorts, headband and all, and said some garbled stuff. He seemed disappointed when I answered the door, though he had seen me already through the porch window. Was it the glasses? The hair pulled back? The way I cautiously opened the door to look

out at him? Either way, what he said was, “y’all like steaks? Cause we got some mbsuihshiosg” and then I couldn’t understand him. “I’m a vegetarian” I said. “Alright” he said and he wandered back across the street. Before this, there had been a truck across the street with a refrigerator in the back. And now there isn’t. Was it full of steaks? I’m not sure what just happened.

TRANSMISSION Transmission I used to feel so confident I would race in my little car I could go anywhere I walked with a swagger My body smiled boldly and was ready to pounce Now my car transmission is shot and I can’t drive over 45 I’m embarrassed and frightened to go anywhere My head hangs dully with all that it knows now I make myself look frumpy and old on purpose I let my body get soft and weak and un-pliable I hide because I never saw this coming It is my surprise
- Juniper Martinez aka Pish Posh

ADORE adore-olive like trees and you because it’s essential words ridiculous and retraced in looser pebbles than necessary letters blurred and feet tread make it hard to read but I digress... you wince, get warmed over I’m struggling apparently only thing is to watch and recognize the feeling and we’re thinking the same thing but in different ways really no problem just contrast contrast contrast.

BURIAL we covered the television with a blanket, opaque obscuring its knowing eye quiet, for dull humming sky turning silently purple under blankets, hiding laughing getting quieter as it got darker turning over into mattresses and sleeping bags like a secret fortress under a star of books I awoke to voices my father’s, mocking my mother’s grammar rose, laid blanket over your parted mouth your parted hair your eyes dead to me today teeth make lines inside your skull where the dentist stole your character I dug a grave for you in notebooks, phonebooks

chain letters left you in bed, cold and covered walking away, covering my eyes, chanting in my head already knowing

LIKE JOHN COLTRANE LOVE NAIMA immaculate conception exceptionally clean scales laid out and weighed green wax grapes here, red wax grapes there open curtain sun stabs in dead wooden ducks float on table top, felt bottom I broke his neck, not a word wasted rubbertipped fingers gloss over matte hallways tar roof blackened soles baked from day asleep in this derelict place, scarfed, flinching, panged cold shoes as pillows anything for the taking it wasn’t the same without the woods, plastic pool, orange tea towels rummage sale ready for Halloween misplaced hat, black ribbon, red feather I could use it now-- shaking knee season and these cockroaches can climb walls, swing on spider webs, knowing where we stashed the peanut butter in heel holed socks, dressed like charlie chaplin I imagine myself bandit heroine, pirate princess, queenpin loads of class under pancake sleaze let’s breakfast now, eat aches away, play house with you protect me from the filth, one eye open in bed safe in suburbia maybe head for the city but now we have to keep quiet, still freezing burn slow from one tip until parched lips can’t take and I have to leave
- Alexandra Naughton

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF INDEPENDECE DAY? 1. moses: the part where the alien crash lands into the same desert that will smith is stranded in, and he runs up to the ship to punch the alien in the face as soon as the door opens. i liked what he said too after he punched him. but i really liked the way he punched him. he punched that alien like it was a man. it showed no fear. 2. jared: my favorite part is where they steal the mothership, and will smith yells, ‘i have got to get me one of these,’ just as it starts to pick up speed. something about the way he said that excited me. 3. denise: i don’t really have one. i didn’t really like that movie. it used to be my ex-girlfriend’s favorite. (shrugs) i liked men in black. 4. susan: idk, doesn’t tommy lee jones die in that movie? if so, that is my favorite part, just because it’s really sad. it almost made me cry and i don’t cry over movies. (side note: she thought we were talking about the newest men in black) 5. kristina: (scans with her eyes wide open, left and right) probably the part where they blow up the white house.

7 WAYS IN WHICH I FELT I WAS AFFECTED BY 6 PERSONS’ CRITIQUES ON MY LEFT EYE AFTER IT WAS DIAGNOSED AND TREATED FOR NON-SPECIFIC CONJUNCTIVITIS 1. michelle (coworker #1) asked me if i knew that they will have to shut down our store if anyone else picks up my virus. i said no. she said yeah. i said they didn’t tell me that i couldn’t work. ‘what am i supposed to do, take time off? she said i need a doctor’s

note. i felt terrified and like going home. 2. customer #1 he asked me what happened. i told him i caught an infection. he said pink eye. i said i don’t know. he said, ‘boy, you know you better watch out. wash your hands thoroughly everytime you do too, that’s highly contagious.’ i felt even worse. 3. sarah (coworker #2) she was the first person to run a thorough examination on my eye with a pair of gloves on, when it’s symptoms really started to take a hold of me last weekend. she kept me from wanting to go home sick that day so it hurt my feelings a lot when she said my left eye lid is still swollen. ‘it’s been a week and it should be healed up by now. you should probably go back in.’ i didn’t want to go back to the er. that would cost more money. 4. customer #2 he did an impression of the way i looked on memorial day, while wearing an eye patch by covering one eye with one hand and using the free arm to make spastic gesticulations, which were supposed to be me removing portafilters from the hopper, and locking them up with our bar’s group heads. he said i thought you were excited about football season. he asked me what happened. i didn’t want to tell him. i thought this was just mean. 5. danika (coworker #3) her opinion of my eye made me feel a lot better about it because she normally doesn’t like me at all. she said that the only reason why it is taking so long to heal is because i waited so long to get it treated. ‘now the swelling has to go down first. you shouldn’t have used jake’s eyedrops. you could’ve gone blind.’ i didn’t believe that last part. 6. customer #3 she told me that my eye looks like it hurts. she didn’t see very much of it in it’s developmental stages but she figured something was wrong by the way i wore an eye patch to work on memorial day. ‘i was going to make a crack about pirates but i figured that had already happened.’ i told her she’s right. she told me i didn’t make this resistance any easier by my choice of shirt. i told her that i thought this was

exactly what i was doing by wearing a striped navy blue and yellow thermal to work with my eye patch. she said, ‘yeah, well…’ then laughed. i laughed along with her. she told me to get well soon. from a distance, i thanked her, then liked her a lot more after that interaction. 7. michelle (coworker #1) as one of my shift supervisors, i like to think michelle knows me better than anyone else so her opinion of my left eye after i got it treated meant a lot to me, which is why i felt so much better after she finally came around by the end of my shift to tell me that it actually looked a lot better.
- Jesse Prado

- Illustration by Irene Koronas

REGIMEN REGINA Pour a fishbowl onto your left cheek. Watch plants grow out of the wet. Let the bowl drop from your hand, cracking into two pieces on the ground, the little red fish flopping in just enough water. Wet yourself from the crashing, let it run down to your ankles. Let nature rise from the crux of your thighs like a dam breaking. Let vines wrap around our legs until you fall. Get eye to eye with the fish. Feel your hair turn to moss, rivulets of water buckling the floorboards underneath us with lichens and low lying bushes. When it found the water inside us the curves of our bodies became trees, the fish a poppy growing in the crook of my elbow. I don’t want to talk about it any more.
- Jess Dutschmann

IMM U N P NII imm u n p nii ik. mmkkb g n inbnok. nn nano mppppppkppkpon h. v y. gg huh g g v v. j bukij uvyv y b. j bid r y kook no nook. mmppokij o v ji k Jon. o nkn. n. bmppl y. g gbjh vy r by. yyvvtc
- Tom Comitta

- Photo by Jay

UNTITLED I truly can't remember the last time I was surprised by anyone People always do exactly what you expect and the closer you pay attention the more predictable they get like Physics or Chemistry a hard science And the more you want this time to be different the more you'll be disappointed when it's the same People say I'm a cynic

Maybe they're right but I'm an optimistic one. It may be silly to believe in anyone but I believe knowing the odds are stacked against me and the House always wins I gamble anyway expecting the next catastrophe hoping for a surprise.
- Jake Zierig

HE SAID SHE SAID she said she did it breath smiling as she slept you could see it as her shoulders shortened, conceived dowers dosing contraband in tonic crystal Sociopaths have all the fun her mouth doesn't lie when its full and her hair lies all the time and dead eyes sleep in the open in the alley sleep

and extra sleep jobs in the office for a song

dead eyes inventing fashion dead eyes watching packers pack dead eyes into baggage postage paid he said she did it too and its he said she said and what difference does it make
- Robert Brown

SURPRISE! YOU’RE DEAD. She only had two hours until the party was supposed to start, and was starting to realize this could be the shittiest surprise party she’s ever thrown. Dan would be home in two hours and they barely had a single thing finished in the kitchen, only seven out of ten people (including her) decided to show, half the decorations needed to go up, the punch wasn’t ready, and they hadn’t even finished making the playlist. A shrill voice shouted from the kitchen, “Denise, get in here!” She bolted into the kitchen to find Lisa, Dan’s sister, banging her phone against her head in an exaggerated manner. “What’s wrong now?” asked Denise, but she really didn’t want to know. She’d rather nothing else go wrong in the short time until Dan arrives. Lisa stopped banging the phone against her skull, looked Denise straight in the eye, and spoke in a calm yet bitter manner. “Your beloved boyfriend, my beloved brother, who has never been on time to a thing in his entire friggin’ life, just called to say he’ll be getting home an hour early.” Denise threw her hands in the air. “Fuck it! There’s no way this is happening. Everyone, listen

up! Just skip the rest of the decorations, get the food on the table, and get ready to hide.” Everyone started scrambling as Denise shouted out last minute setup duties. “Melissa, put the leftover streamers in the basement. Rob, get the caramel apples on the table. Samantha, Dave, get the…” She looked around intently for the slackers. “Hey Becca, where are Sammie and Dave?” Becca started to chuckle and pointed upstairs as she shrugged her shoulders. “Are you serious? Can’t they keep their pants on for one damn hour while we get this party ready? God they suck!” Becca laughed and replied “well, one of them does.” Seeing the lack of amusement on Denise’s face, Becca decided to find something to do and get out of her way. Denise made her way upstairs to get Samantha and Dave back on track. She was happily surprised to not hear any creaking sounds coming from the bedrooms. “So you’re in the…CLOSET! Nope…not here either.” Where the hell were they? Then she heard the water running. She knocked on the bathroom door and told them to finish up quick and get their asses in gear. She decided waiting for them was just a waste of time, and yelled for them to hurry up as she went back down. She heard a thump as she made her way downstairs. When she hit the last stair, she realized no one was in the living room. “Guys? What was that sound? Are you hiding already? Can we get the rest of the food out first? Great…” Denise walked into the kitchen and saw Rob and Becca leaning against the counter, in front of the caramel apples. “Hey, why didn’t you respond? Guys?” Just as she walked over to them, they slumped to the ground, all four eyes impaled with the sticks from the caramel apples. Denise wanted to scream, but couldn’t make a sound. Then she realized she shouldn’t make a sound. What if the killer is still here? She got down low and reached for her cell. Shit! It was upstairs! She

grabbed the landline, but the phone was dead. Rob and Becca’s phones weren’t in their pockets either. She needed to get out fast. She made a beeline for the front door, but it was jammed, something was in front of it. She heard a scream, it sounded like Melissa. She knew it’d be stupid to even try, but her body moved by itself. She grabbed a kitchen knife off the chopping block as she made her way towards the basement, from where it sounded like the scream came. She thought to herself that she really wished she had a backdoor in this stupid house. When she got to the bottom of the stairs, the lights went out. “Hello? I have a knife, so don’t try anything! Melissa? Melissa? Are you down here?” It smelled like piss down here, and she wondered if she had wet her pants. A terrible thought crossed her mind. The fuse box was down here. She turned to run upstairs but was pushed back and slipped in something wet, dropping the knife in her fall. She felt around the wet floor for the knife, only to feel Melissa’s curly hair. She covered her mouth to avoid letting the scream out. She felt around the shelves and found an emergency kit that she and Dan had bought for a hurricane last year. She opened it up and grabbed a glowstick, bent it, and looked down in horror at Melissa’s body. She had been strangled with streamers, and it looked like she peed herself. Denise was horrified at how scared Melissa must have been. Why was this happening? Oh god, she thought, Dan will be here soon! She needed to get out, to warn him not to come home, and to get help. She wouldn’t be able to break through the small windows on the first floor, but maybe she could make the jump out of the second floor windows. She found the knife and made her way to the fuse box. She tried flipping the switches but it wasn’t working. She went to the stairs, slowly climbing in the dim light of the glowstick, knife at the ready. Ready for what, to kill a murderer, what the hell was she doing? She pushed the fear out of her mind. She needed to warn Dan; she wouldn’t let him die, especially not on his birthday.

As she moved to the living room she had a glimmer of hope; she hadn’t found Sammie and Dave’s bodies. Maybe they were still alive; they were in the bathroom, so maybe they hid when the killing started. She’d give anything to have those slackers at her side right now. She heard a sound from one of the rooms at the top of the stairs. She thought that it could have been from the bathroom, and it was worth the risk. She decided that slow and steady made her too predictable, and half way up the stairs she started running. She dashed into the bathroom, slammed the door shut, locked it, and spun around with the knife. There they were. Bent over the bathtub, heads submerged in dark liquid. They had been drowned in punch. She wanted to just give up, but that meant she’d definitely end up dead. She listened at the door, quietly unlocked it, then swung it open and stabbed in the air just in case. She ran into the front facing bedroom, locked the door, and turned to the window. Standing in front of her was a girl with her hood pulled down. Denise couldn’t figure out if she was more angry or scared. “Why!? Why did you do this?” She swung at her with the knife but the girl stepped back and caught her hand, slamming it on the dresser. She dropped the knife, but let out a vicious kick right between the legs. The attacker yelped, grabbed Denise, and threw her on the ground. She reached for the knife but felt a savage boot to the face. The world went a little fuzzy, and when she came to, the woman was straddling her. Denise grabbed for the glowstick as the girl pulled back her hood. “Lisa? What the fuck? Why?” Lisa smiled and grabbed the knife, “Why not?” Denise grabbed the hand holding the knife and shoved the glowstick right up Lisa’s nose. Lisa dropped the knife in the struggle as they rolled on the floor, punching, and kicking, and screaming. Lisa grabbed her by the throat and started choking her. Denise twisted out of the choke, grabbed Lisa behind the head, and delivered a violent headbutt, shoving the glowstick

all the way up Lisa’s nose. Lisa slumped forward, and Denise pushed her body away. She heard the doorbell, and slowly limped down to the front door. She opened the door to find Dan, who was shocked to see her standing there covered in bruises and blood and smelling like piss. She looked up to meet his gaze, and with as much sarcastic enthusiasm as she could muster, she shouted: “SURPRISE!”
- Paul Martens

OCTOBER SURPRISES AND NON-SURPRISES I worked to help President Obama get reelected. I had given money in small doses off and on since the beginning of 2012, but reserved my sweat equity until "after Labor Day", which is exactly what I told every eager Obama For America (OFA) phone volunteer who called me between January and August of this year. I joined a group in my urban South Philadelphia neighborhood of Bella Vista, a small cadre of perhaps a dozen people, mostly retired women, who met in a local arty coffee shop to do phone work each Wednesday evening through the election, and who also worked out of city parks and private homes for door to door canvass meet-ups and reporting on weekends. Most of these people were great, yet they were almost 100% a little on the dull side, to be truthful. It was all-Obama, all the time, with very little space in their lives for any meaningful and useful fun. As a case in point, I had suggested a Halloween Phone Bank where we would invite the media, and volunteers could dress up as candidates, donkeys, elephants, etc. Stony silence. Pity, as I had made a Voter Identification card outfit

especially for the (as it turned out) non-occasion. On Halloween itself, undeterred, I brought the costume along to the phone bank, along with a bag of pretzels and candy, and asked volunteers if anybody would be willing to hit a few popular "young-crowd" bars on South Street or Passyunk Avenue to pass out election literature -- after our phone shift -- and have bar patrons and other people pose "inside the card." This would remind young voters that their franchise was recently put at risk by conniving GOP operatives, not only in Pennsylvania, but across the country. It would also remind them to get involved in our great struggle. As a special treat, on the flip side of the 20x30 inch card, I made a Registered Alien ID card, which was humorous yet informative. I brought along a space alien mask as well. I would surprise people by flipping it over to reveal the alternate messaging, which was still in a political vein. I have had good success organizing media events on the grassroots level. I previously created an Inaugural Night celebratory dinner in January 2009, which was wildly successful and got local Philadelphia TV coverage. Prior to that I organized media attendance to cover a National Night Out event for the local town watch back in the 90s. That got TWO television news crews out and filming that one; a minor coup! Before the unremarked-upon suggestion of the Halloween non-Event, I had hosted another non-event, a Final Debate Watch Party at my home. Eventually, me, myself and I watched a strong, combative, dominant Barack Obama thrash Mitt Romney with rejoinders and with zingers about horses, bayonets and aircraft carriers. The fact that free beer and food would not be a magnet to Democrats was a real October Surprise. Cricket-cricket-cricket was the response to my verbal invitations to fellow volunteers.

Maybe it's me. So, I changed my deodorant, but still did not receive much enthusiasm from these zealous stiffs. Our un-named-here OFA/Pa. leader was an earnest, bespectacled, quietly fanatical yet attractive young woman from Connecticut who had spent her childhood growing up in North London. She had apparently embraced or adapted the traditional British qualities of coldness and total insincerity while living in that coldly insincere country (or perhaps they were family traits. It's hard to tell). Having lived in England for eight years, I know the type. She was enthusiastic in her support for Obama yet monotone in her dead-eyed delivery: "Jim-you-are-doing-awonderful-job-you-really-have-a-way-with-people-can-youvolunteer-for-three-shifts-every-night-from-now-until-afterthe-election?" was a typical sort of greeting. The week before the election, Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast (Surprise!) and knocked out power and flooded towns and cities from Wildwood, New Jersey to New York City. Along its way, it also attacked my sister in law and brother’s shore home in Brigantine, New Jersey. It had drenched my wife’s sister’s home in Wildwood, where she and her family remained and manned the buckets to bail out the house and move furniture and cars to higher places. I called PJ on Tuesday and told him I would be glad to help with the cleanup on the following Sunday. On Friday, the whole clan was traveling to Penn State’s main campus to see PJ and Stella’s son, Kevin, perform the lead in a great production of “Sweeney Todd,” the romping musical about the sociopathic throat-slashing barber of Fleet Street in Victorian London. We had all purchased tickets in September and made hotel and vacation reservations in order to attend this, and I had never seen him in a collegelevel production. [He was great!] In the meantime, GOP NJ Governor Chris (Big Guy) Christie

gave President Obama a bear hug and a big ole sloppy French kiss (Surprise!) and said Obama was awesome in his response to Sandy (BIG SURPRISE!). When it was announced that Obama and Christie had taken their road show to Brigantine of all places (huge surprise) I thought, “Jesus, I hope PJ and Stella’s place is still there! If the Prez does a joint press conference on the front lawn of a private residence after a weather event while holding hands with a sworn political enemy, the place must be trashed.” Toward the end of my final Wednesday phone bank, the unnamed leader entered the café and asked: "Jim-you-aredoing-a-wonderful-job-you-really-have-a-way-with-peoplecan-you-volunteer-for-the-entire-weekend- and-Monday-aswell-as-all-day-Tuesday-until-the-polls-close?"… I was ready for her. I explained that PJ’s need was greater than Obama’s at that point. After all, Nate Silver gave the O-man a 90.1% chance of victory in his uncannily accurate “538” column in the NY Times. Besides, Kevin was starring in a big show, and as a sophomore, it was quite the honor, despite the fact that even as a freshman, he had gotten a lead role in an unseen-by-me show last year. These two statements were also met with silence. Not even a “that’s fantastic for Kevin” or a “that’s a real shame for PJ.” Nothing. Nada. Not said was: It's all about what you can do for me. If you cannot be useful to me, you're useless, period (no surprise by this time). We cleaned up the shore house basement on Sunday. Their damage, while serious enough, was limited to their basement level family room (that was a NICE surprise). They had gotten off lightly. I assume by now you have seen the photos of New Jersey’s storm aftermath. After the cleanup it was back to The Election and the final

surprises. I did work hard for this, but not as hard as I did in 2008 (getting too old for endless door knocking and constant stair climbing). Most people were not answering the doors or phones this time around: out of an average 80 phone calls made per shift, perhaps 10 people would pick up. Same for the door to door shifts I worked. One thing I learned during the door to door and phone canvassing activities in which I participated was this: 85% to 90% of ALL phone and door respondents— Italians, Latinos, Blacks, Irish, Germans, Poles, Czechs, Asians, Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Atheists, Older, Younger, Gay, Straight (whatever) were solidly pro-Obama. No surprise there. I did a very quick mental math averaging and made my unofficial poll reports to field officers at the end of each shift. Somewhere between 85% and 90% pro-Obama was the result at the end of each and every shift. And because I also volunteered as a Poll Watcher this cycle — to ensure voter rights and to help guard against voter intimidation (there were indeed *several instances right here in Philadelphia), I got to witness the opening of the voting machines and tabulation by election judges once the polls were closed at 8:00 PM on election night when the lines ended. There were no people left in queues in my district. It ran quite smoothly (SURPRISE!), for the most part**. Voter turnout eventually topped 610 people for the 2nd Ward, 22nd Division, and, while not breaking the record -- far and wide outstripped city, state and national turnout in terms of participation by qualified voters. Citywide, turnout was 62%, down from 64% in 2008. In Bella Vista we were running at around 75% to 80%. A veteran election volunteer told me that about 100 to 150 names among the 800+ people on her polling list were probably moved from the neighborhood as there are lots of apartments here for the young and hip, who

often skip their kip [look it up]. Happily, the results themselves were anti-climatic and not surprising. Right here in my own socially, economically and racially mixed neighborhood the break was 85% to 15% in President Obama's favor: 487 vs 76 for my local ward and division alone. The Naughton polling, rudimentary at it was, was correct all along. And THAT was a real surprise. I suck at math. As for the next four years, I think the American people have had quite enough of no-tax pledges, filibuster, and legislative gridlock. It's time to deal. No surprise there, either. * An unknown “lawyer” showed up in a surprise descent upon the polling station and was photographing black and Hispanic-looking voters and asking them "for their names" which he wrote down. He was challenged by Ms X (real name withheld), a U of P and Drexel University law professor and he scooted away but not until threatening to have her "disbarred" after the election. This guy told her his name was “Joe Wilson”. Joe Wilson was also the name of the South Carolina Republican Congressman who (Surprise and shock) shouted out “YOU LIE!” during an address by President Obama on the subject of Health Care in 2009 to a joint session of the U.S. Senate and Congress. ** Anecdotes abound. Some registered Republicans of long standing showed up and found that, to their surprise, somehow, their names did not appear on the voter rolls, even though they have voted here for twenty years and more. They had to vote by provisional ballot. An election volunteer, a Democratic committeewoman, actually, told me this terrible thing and added that “everybody needs the chance, no

matter how they vote, to actually vote. We know we can win this fair and square. It just needs to be fair and square”.
- Jim Naughton

- Photo by Elanor Leonne Bennettage

BATHROOM there is a distinct and powerful feeling of horror when you walk into the bathroom at a bar and there’s no mirror you think you are there at the bar your friends are there, you're talking about the movie bridesmaids and your lipstick looks okay and the beer is cold

and it’s hot and loud and everyone is talking about something and all the guys have beards and there’s a song you love, you always love a song by blondie, and the sound of drinking, glasses breaking and people are always laughing so you go to the bathroom where it will be quiet and you'll be alone with yourself but when there's no mirror it's like you're not there! you're alone but not with yourself and that's a horror, a drop in your chest, a canyon of fuck no mirror, no mirror, red wall, no face and aside from the existential horror you can't fix your lipstick an open window helps
- Amy Berkowitz

Author and Artist Bios
Matthew Sherling lives in San Francisco, where he likes to create things. He runs the interview blog, Cutty Spot, and the e-magazine, Gesture. Among other places, his work appears or is upcoming in The Columbia Review, The Believer, Thought Catalog, Fanzine, The Lit Pub, BIRP!, NAP, & Have U Seen My Whale. He released a minichapbook called [WHAT] in April 2012. Neal is a self-proclaimed travel addict, currently working the 9-5 in New Zealand in order to fund his next fix. Follow his adventures at kiwiscanfly.com Kimberly Kim is a writer, a blogger, and a lover - a lover of Americano coffees, dreams, and people. Chio Smith lives in Chicago and writes weekly at happydyingsun.com Jerry P. Maldonado is originally from New York City. His photographs tell two stories, the seen and unseen, by capturing both the image and shadow of a second image in landscape, carnival and still life. He currently resides in Ohio. Ivy Johnson was born on the open prairie where she picked crocuses as a child. She also grew up speaking in tongues, which led her to poetry. Boog City published her first chapbook, Walt Disney’s Light Show Extravaganza. She has a chapbook forthcoming from Timeless, Infinite Light called As They Fall.

Dr. Phil Sidebottom was formerly a lecturer at the University of Sheffield and is now a freelance Archaeologist. His particular interest is historical landscape photography and photographic collage. He resides in Sheffield, United Kingdom. David Shortt is an amateur fiction writer from Orangeville, Canada. He is currently working on a novel and struggling to maintain his sanity. Rachelle Nones is a Writer/Raconteuse with a serious love of photography. Adele C. Geraghty, a native New Yorker, is the recipient of the US National Women's History Award for women's poetry and essay. She is a graphic designer, illustrator and author of 'Skywriting in the Minor Key: women, words, wings', a poetry collection. She is also a member of the multi genre collective 'Arts Soiree' of New York. She now resides in the United Kingdom. Chris Norkun is a writer based in Virginia. Check out his blog: chrisnorkun.blogspot.com Juniper Martinez is a writer, a professor, a humorist, and an animal rights advocate. She tells funny stories as Pish Posh at the-pish-posh.com and lives in beautiful Northern California. Alexandra Naughton is a writer, rapper, and zine editor based in the Bay Area. She is currently working on her first hip-hop/nerd-core EP and writing a book of poetry. She enjoys listening to music from the 90s and recreating scenes from Alfred Hitchcock classics. Follow her nonsense at thetsaritsasez.com Jesse Prado lives in Hayward, California. He writes at whatsupwhiteamerica.tumblr.com and edits the poetry and reviews section of thousandshadesofgray.tumblr.com. Irene Koronas has a fine arts degree from Mass College of Art Boston. She is a multimedia artist working with paint, collage, mono-printing, artist’s books, poetry and photography. She is the poetry editor for Wilderness House Literary Review. Her poetry has appeared in journals, magazines, and online zines. She has seven chap-books, two full-length books, and her work has been featured in three anthologies. Jess Dutschmann is a New Jersey based writer/human beehive. In 2011 she won Sundress Publications' "Best of the Net" for a poem about a heart being a clutch of bees. She recently wrote a tiny chapbook to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. She is not always so bleak, though, she promises. Tom Comitta is a writer, composer, and the publisher of calmaplombprombombbalm.com. Jay is a 20 year old female. Among other things, she make jewelry, takes photos, eats lots and lots of ice cream, appreciates handmade products, reads books, and reviews movies. Check out her shop: etsy.com/shop/HoneybeeAlley Jake lives in the outer sunset with his dog Asha. They can be found at local coffee shops

and Ocean Beach on nice days, writing in their notebooks, staring off into space, and generally living in a fantasy world of their own creation. Robert Brown moved to SF three years ago, went to culinary school at the CCA, and has been cooking in different restaurants around town. He reads and writes in his spare time. You can find more poetry at his blog snackpack874.blogspot.com. Paul Martens of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is just your average guy who spends his time typing away at coffee shops in hopes of not having a real job one day. He studied at Temple University with our fearless leader Miss Naughton, did his time under the Californian sun, and ended up right back in Philly. He enjoys hookah, cigars, scotch that's old enough to order its own scotch, and yelling at the page until it fills up with the right words. His dream is to write something that will one day be a clean book on a dusty shelf. Jim Naughton is an illustrator, painter, photographer, videographer, and writer. He is Alexandra’s dad. He is pretty rad. He sometimes guest posts on thetsaritsasez.com, and blogs at rumpletweezers.livejournal.com. Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16 year old internationally award winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature's Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland trust and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United States and Canada. Her art is globally exhibited. See more of her work at: eleanorleonnebennett.zenfolio.com Amy Berkowitz is the author of Listen to Her Heart (forthcoming from Spooky Girlfriend) and Lonely Toast (What to Us, 2010). She's also the editor of Mondo Bummer.

Thanks for reading! Find out more about BE ABOUT IT and learn how you can contribute to small press publishing by checking out THE TSARITSA SEZ (thetsaritsasez.com – click on the “ZINE [D.IY. Publishing]” tab!) and by following Alexandra in her various social media shenanigans. Stalk me online, kittens! And don’t be shy about submitting to me! BE ABOUT IT xoxo

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