Issue 4, Spring 2013

Petrichor Review

Staff Page
Emma Nichols Editor-in-Chief Pete Viola Sean Case Poetry Editor Fiction Editor Jenny Curits Resident Artist

Petrichor Review is an independent arts and literature journal that publishes work from a global, online community. Petrichor is the collaborative effort of the above-mentioned individuals. Send all non-submission correspondence to editor@petrichorreview.com. Copyright © 2013-2014, Petrichor Review. All rights reserved.
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A Letter From the Editor

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t takes an artist to sustain an audience and the response of an audience to sustain an artist. In “A Note on Bernard Shaw,” Jorge Luis Borges says, “a book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.” Petrichor Review is an ongoing experiment in this bundle of relations. The lit-mag audience isn’t a crowd, but a nexus of individuals, each seeking something. The narrator of Sean Antonucci’s “Penance in Waiting” (p. 38) sees you anxiously waiting, alone in a restaurant, wondering “which voice should I follow?” We would argue, these ones. Maybe in this order. Order is a key principle in art and its vehicles. It is a reference point, a fingerhold, a raft. Just like the speaker in Paul Nelson’s “A Heart Needs A Raft” (p. 41), you are groping for a vantage point, a safe spot to sit and wonder. Order offers a moment of respite amid the chaos of the rapids, of life. We are trying to sequence the void. Our cover, and the whole series of paintings by Kim Marra, is a fitting visual representation of our efforts. It is equal parts architecture and inspiration. It is a labyrinth of mismatched figures in technicolor, arranged not necessarily for the sake of order or neatness, but for awe and wonder. This is what we love, and what we hope you will love. This issue is our edifice, one more level in the ancient, massive, and everspreading city of the arts. Thank you for reading, and may you enjoy, appreciate, adore, Issue 4. —Pete Viola Poetry Editor

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Table of Contents
Porches by Kim Marra...................................................Cover Art by Katie Truisi................................................................viii Emily as Honeysuckle by Darren C. Demaree........................1 This Salacious Act of Recovery by Sean Antonucci................2 Blooming Desert Perfection by Pete Madzelan.......................3 Envelopes by Barbara Brooks..................................................4 Art by Peter Nicholson.............................................................4 Snow and Strands by Caroline Misner.....................................5 Permission to Look by Barbara Brooks...................................6 Art by Peter Nicholson.............................................................7 Fanatics by Paul Nelson...........................................................8 Measurement by Desert Locust by Jonathan H. Scott.............9 Art by Katie Truisi..................................................................10 The Bitch of Buchenwald by Jessica Karbowiak...................10 Art by Peter Nicholson...........................................................15 Satan by Hilary Sideris...........................................................16 Roadside Rendevious by Pete Madzelan................................17 Isaac Newton Was a Terrible Farmer by Kate LaDew...........18 The Storm that Picked Up the Roller Coaster and Dropped it 100 Feet Away by Devon Miller-Duggan..............................21
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Cross Legged by John Catania...............................................22 Southern Rain by Caroline Misner.........................................22 What Seemed Like Good Ideas by Jonathan H. Scott...........24 Happilyeverafter by Devon Miller-Duggan...........................25 Creation Story by Pete Madzelan...........................................26 Heliocentricity by Hilary Gan...............................................26 Hallways by Kim Marra.........................................................35 A Woman May Make a Remark by Phoebe Wilcox..............36 Art by Katie Truisi..................................................................37 Mental Block by John Catania................................................38 Penance in Waiting by Sean Antonucci..................................38 Geometry by Michelle Ravit..................................................40 A Heart Needs a Raft by Paul Nelson....................................41 Cabinets by Kim Marra..........................................................43 An Edict for the Expatriate’s Mornings by Suzanne Highland..............................................................44 The Man on the Beach by Richard Luftig.............................45 Art by Katie Truisi..................................................................46 La Madonna del Parto by Hilary Sideris................................47 Mrs. Brady by Michelle Ravit................................................48 Rustication by Kim Marra......................................................49 The Overture by Damien Roos..............................................50
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It Was a Nice Day by Mike Jurkovic.....................................56 Art by Peter Nicholson...........................................................57 Fists by Sirenna Blas.............................................................57 Art by Katie Truisi..................................................................59 Blaze by Phoebe Wilcox........................................................59 Walking Croton Point by Mike Jurkovic...............................60 Chinese Takeout and Casual Smoking by Zach Fishel..........61 The Dark Wood by Richard O’Brien.....................................62 Ember Days and Remembrances by Caroline Misner...........63 Art by Peter Nicholson...........................................................64 Thomas Edison’s Blue Bird by Kate LaDew.........................65 Ninety + Three by Gilmore Tamny........................................68 The Sunlight: A Million by Richard O’Brien........................69 Landscape 1975 by Ira Joel Haber.........................................70 Thriving Modernist Movements by Alex Schmidt................70 Were Ink Made of Cats by Devon Miller-Duggan.................71

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Katie Truisi

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Emily as Honeysuckle
Darren C. Demaree The vines left a mark inside my fist, & the small beauty that could never grow through our own bones was left to circle the terrible depth our skins accumulated in time & many seasons of wanting more time, with beauty so close to the thick crooks our bodies developed as invitation. The flowers were subtle & seemed hidden underneath the untended growth by the garage, & we never doubted their small light, & we never doubted the many shapes of flower Emily could be if I looked away, & I never looked away long enough.

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This Salacious Act of Recovery
Sean Antonucci It wilts off the stem, peals from the petals and sinks to the soil to rebuke the rosebuds. “Oh, sweet ‘morrow, dew diligence: and weep.” Sage falters. Her eyes recover a modicum of: NaCl, and drain back into themselves. Basil provides the H2O with a lick: “salty:sosalty.” “Dear Diarist, are we yet lees?” Basil drains the wine— burbles dregs out onto the pic’i’nic cloth— when Sage, oh Sage, indents (or at least admits it). “And thus: we were wont to begin again in warbles: so shrill & so tight.” 2 Petrichor Review

Blooming Desert Perfection

Pete Madzelan

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Envelopes

Barbara Brooks The beech tree sends out buds wrapped in tissue-thin brown envelopes that open nightly until the soft, green letter of spring is revealed. I look forward to these letters just as I do the ones from home. As the year ages, the brown envelopes are long lost to the ground. Winter’s wind ruffles the stiff parchment leaves, pulling on them as I wait.

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Peter Nicholson

Snow and Strands
Caroline Misner The wind in the dog’s fur is blowing back her mane and rippling like fields of golden wheat. She is on alert— ears pricked to pick up a sound she will never hear. She is old now, her hearing gone. The wind snatches the breath from her moist black snout and the morning forgets itself, unspooling in wintry measures. Snow clings to the strands, caresses and disappears into the greyness of her coat— loveless and pure as flakes of China after the plate has shattered on tile.

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Permission to Look
Barbara Brooks Quail Hollow Dr. Chickadees and wrens are fussing, glancing up. There it sits. A barred owl’s back. It twists its head to gaze, eyes deep as infinity, giving me permission to look. Blinking, it turns away. Through my scope, I can see every feather’s edge. Bunny Road In the middle of the road, a pile of something. A wing points to the sky, one eye still gazes into infinity, the other just a smear on the white line, yellow bill split in half, talons grasping an invisible limb. I pull the owl to the side of the road. I can see every feather’s edge.

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Peter Nicholson

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Fanatics

Paul Nelson
Winged facts evaporate the second I lift the plastic swatter. They have alps of air to hide in. And if I manage to mash with a certain whip of wrist one particular sneak, roving sacrilegiously the edge of the kitchen counter, I have to understand that its infants, infamous live rice in meat, bread or smashed fruit, insinuate, gnaw, rest and swell in restless health, harrying the Valley of Death. Their swarthy, hairy elders swarm, deposit, flee, repeat, then hang, desiccate in Kali’s web, or on a warm sky of window glass, or vellum shade, having buzzed like kazoos, or fried, consummated on a bulb I activate at dusk like evening prayer, or evening news... a peasant’s bomb. They are so quiet in the desert dark of midnight, planning far into the future, as if all the forgotten brilliance of so many stars finally reached us from Alexandria through the ash clouds of the library, the calm, ancient mathematicians of sky born again. Are their days of zeal less than Heaven’s? And if they carry death to us by eager children, by flying toward our bright towers of food and waste, could they not be true believers too?

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Measurement by Desert Locust
(for H. V.)
Jonathan H. Scott From an infinite swarm, catch just one; let the remainder measure Time—simplest surface, simplest counted. Hold the one as you might hold two, leave space to make safe the exoskeleton, mindful of the thorax. These are fragile, minus the swarm. Breakable, snappable, altogether divisible. Let these units be Love as a whole—sum of folly per any object at hand. But let mandible, maxilla, ocella, and labrum be the very stuff of stuff. The pith, the bark, the seed, and the Growth. The roil, the eddy, the pool, and the Movement. The head, the chest, the belly, the Locust— caught from a swarm, held graciously wide.

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Katie Truisi During World War II, Ilse Koch headed the Buchenwald concentration camp with her husband Karl Otto Koch, until the Ally forces invaded. Dubbed the “Bitch of Buchenwald,” Ilse was known for her sadistic behavior toward prisoners. It is said she was particularly fond of riding her horse through camp and whipping the backs of prisoners. Upon the Allied invasion, it was reported that numerous artifacts made of human skin were found in the Buchenwald camp, including lampshades, gloves, and book covers.

The Bitch of Buchenwald
Jessica Karbowiak hen she is a child, dark and brooding, she perches eager on her work-weary father’s lap. She evokes charm early, glimpses his worship-face gazing down at her, feels power there. The already old man in some ways mirrors 10 Petrichor Review

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her future husband, the one she will wed and follow into camps as a flaxen-haired demon. An early villainess in the camps, flouting power and rage at the stripped and skeletal prisoners, her light eyes stare out and call forth nightmare. She walks—grace and beauty— down dirt-lined paths, shifts and squints eyes at the oncepeople working there, the body shells with death-mask faces. She is the reminder of alive and fear. “The Bitch of Buchenwald,” they call her, behind shaking hands. The Beast-woman and Die Hexe in some places. Her appetite holds many names. — A lone man clothed in rags. He collects shoes of former living, piles them in room-corner as told by barking voice of the Bitch, creates a majestic and tragic mound of soft-soled death. His uneven gait falters through doorways, down the camp hill to continually collect and sort the new, his eyes half-closed and downcast to avoid her stoic gaze. He thinks of family, though not often, as memory fills sad space and then replaces it. His fingers crack and tremble, too much for him to hold. His duties get done in zombie-like freedom; it’s the only peace he knows. He shuffles pale feet down dirt-laden rows, and his eyes catch light through the tall green there, the ever-living of trees. The bark of a dog, a danger-sound once beloved, and the incessant bird chirp above make a dark growth inside him. The living of this place is too much to bear. Sometimes he wishes death, then silences the thought and feel of it, lets the emptiness swell in stomach, a dark hole growing. It emerges, quiet at first, but this shufflewalking man knows it will soon overtake him, grow outward and fierce from his middle. This liberty relieves him, the knowledge of it, and he can almost recall days when he knew
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God’s face. Yes, he will soon be nothing, a no-man, a black gaping hole walking and then disappearing from view. This thought refreshes him. The pain and quiet of it. The Bitch is death-camp beauty atop blackest mare. She rides up and down the same dirt path, a galloping fiend kicking up dust and mud in her wake. She rides bareback, the pounce and agility of her thin female form ever-moving. The drizzled and mud-soaked lane coupled with the steady clipclop of horse hooves brings chills to the lone man. He keeps eyes down as she progresses past him, dark eyes trained on the slick wet of the wheelbarrow’s handles, the quiver of his own fingers there. She carries sure-fire whip this day. Entwined and pretty, the thick black of the rope is tight. She rides and snaps out her right arm, the flash and force of the twine lashing at bare arms and feet. The splayed whip-ends gratify her, the sound of contact keeps her sated. The hole grows wider within him, ever-wider as he shuffles his walk and does his duty. The feel of expansion soothes away panic, the chaos of knowing what it is he knows. The rain continues and the odor of once-living feet pushes out of the wheelbarrow’s hold to climb his shaking fingers and rest inside his nose. There’s living in the smell of it, the run and swagger of women, children, men. It adds to the darkness of him, the growth, as the slick and stained pseudo-road leads him past the Bitch whose eyes follow his slow and steady progress. There is a smirk and swagger to her. She points a delicate finger at the ragged of him as he moves with nearly-held breath. You. I want you. 12 Petrichor Review

He stops his shuffle, abandons the weight of the wheelbarrow to turn briefly and gaze upward. He feels the dark continue to grow as he stands still and muted, the hole beginning to press outward with frenzy, and he wills this, begs his body hurry up, hurry up please. Her descent from the beast makes her look almost-human, not half animal but a woman only. This thought, he knows, is deceptive. He stares resignedly at the cold and pretty of her, glimpses evil there. A man with a vicious and thin line of mouth stalks over. He touches his left hand to the right shoulder of the Bitch. They both laugh, hers high and shrill with the boom of his overpowering. The vicious-mouth man calls out to him. Follow me, he says, and no more. The hole-growing fills the silent space as the lone man begins his weary death-march down the hill. The viciousmouth man coughs out cold air, and the brute of him keeps a hurried pace the lone man cannot. In this way, the lone man is given time to let the hole expand. He sees pairs of eyes peek out of skeleton-faces through wooden slats of cabin and follow his advance. The Bitch follows on his heels, pushes at the weak of him to move past the cabins and into the officer area. Doctor, white coated and furious, stands at the door and vicious-mouth strips the lone man naked, so for a moment he is afraid they will see the nothing of him, the growing no-space, but they do not. Lie down, one says. The lone man hesitates, resists without sound. 13

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I said lie down, the voice continues. Now. Gloved and pointing finger at cold metal table. The surface glints light, and there’s metallic reflection from sharp objects on the nearby counter. The lone man shuffles, hesitant, but the vicious-mouth man pushes out impatience with his whole hand, coughs and laughs as the lone man falters. Enough, the voice says. Enough of this. Lie down. Experiment-eyes meet his starving, soulful ones as the body that cages him climbs coldness to lie there. The freeze of metal sears his skin, pierces his fingers as he shifts weight to stare upward at the blank ceiling and the blanker faces of the two men, one clad in white and the other standing in the corner to watch. The Bitch stands closer and the flowery smell of her coupled with the antiseptic feel of the room is the final catalyst, so by the time his body stills, he is almost all-hole now, the growth the size of a window, or a door. He shuts his eyes to the real, takes in the stab and sear of the doctor’s cut, the short laugh in room-corner. There is a boxing cut as his chest is bared, the color and whimsy of the fairy inked there visible to them; now she smiles upward as the knife comes down and the lone man goes, becomes gone, a nothing space as the body he slips from bears the incision, the evil of a four-sided cut to remove the tattooed sprite and preserve. There is a flatness to this preservation. A grotesque beauty in the way the fairy and her flirty smile are book-ended by the pale and plaintive look of the lone man’s nipples, now erect and lifeless. The skin-square shows her wings expanding past the cut so they seem to flutter outward into perpetuity. The Bitch adds this to the collection, the oddities she craves, so when the soldiers come to render the camp obsolete, she is not surprised at the shout of them, the vomit and faint she 14 Petrichor Review

sees as one lifts the lone man’s square of chest from table, holds it out for his fellows to see. The Bitch smiles to herself, knows they will dream the terror and beauty of pixie dreams ever-after.

Peter Nicholson
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Satan

Hilary Sideris In a monk’s habit he’s not hard to spot, with cloven foot, reptilian complexion & sardonic tone: Hungry? Go ahead & turn this stone into a loaf. God’s son? Leap from the temple roof, let angels intervene. Or suit yourself, stick with a stag on your mountaintop. Dream of a stream. Sleep on a rock.

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Roadside Rendevous

Pete Madzelan

Isaac Newton Was A Terrible Farmer
Kate LaDew

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saac Newton was not growing an alfalfa crop. He was attempting, he was trying, he was endeavoring, but he was not growing an alfalfa crop. He was not growing an alfalfa crop because he was terrible at farming. He was so bad, the local simpleton, Thurston Phillipi, would wait beside the sickly, brown alfalfa sprouts and watch for Isaac Newton to make his daily depressing inspection, then spring upon him unawares, shouting, “Newton, Newton, so highfalutin, he planted alfalfa and out came gluten!” This troubled Isaac Newton. He did not enjoy it in the least because he was smart. He was so smart it was stupid. He was so ridiculously smart, if you even talked to him for a second

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you would fall all over yourself because Good Golly Moses, how could anyone be so smart? He was smart, but there he was, staring down at dying alfalfa, being rhymed at by an idiot. And it was all Isaac Newton’s mother’s fault. He had been happy at school, or at least reasonably so, and that was about all anyone could ask from school. And then his mother, his up until then reasonable, discerning mother had collected Isaac Newton and all his belongings and thrown him out into the fields to do work he had never done before and expected something out of the whole sad, sorry trip. It made him resentful. His mother knew best of course—she was a mother and all mothers knew best—but come on. The whole idea of him farming was absurd anyway. One needed to eat and one needed water and one needed materials for clothes and goods and all sorts of things like that, all sorts of things he needed but didn’t know how to make. He was fairly certain he could discover the meaning of life and unlock all the secrets of the universe, and wasn’t that enough? Did he have to milk cows too? Did he have to grow alfalfa too? Did he have to fatten hogs and fetch pails of water from wells? Wasn’t all the knowledge that could ever be enough? But his mother said, every day, “Isaac Newton, please push the plow. It will not push itself.” And Isaac Newton thought about it for awhile and realized it was true, so he pushed the plow. And his mother also said, every day, “Isaac Newton, now that you are pushing the plow, please keep pushing the plow, or it will stop.” And Isaac Newton thought about it for awhile and realized this, too, was true, so he kept pushing the plow. And his mother also, also said, every day, “Isaac Newton, you are no longer pushing the plow. The plow is for mornings. You are pushing a sheep. A sheep is lighter than a plow. Push 18 Petrichor Review

more lightly.” And Isaac Newton thought about it for awhile and realized it was true, so he pushed the sheep more lightly than he pushed the plow. And his mother also, also, also said, every day, “Isaac Newton, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” And Isaac Newton thought about it for awhile and would become tired and go to sleep under an apple tree. His favorite part of the day was sleeping under the apple tree. He would think about school and how he was reasonably happy there and think about his mother and how she was always right, but also how she was always on about the plow. It was tiring. Looking at dying crops and being rhymed at by Thurston Phillipi was tiring. Thurston Phillipi was an idiot and Isaac Newton was not and it was all so very tiring. It made him resentful. One day, after pushing the plow with great force and continuing to push the plow with great force and pushing the sheep with not-as-great force, Isaac Newton sat under the apple tree and was hit in the head by an apple, which made sense, as he was under an apple tree and sometimes these things happened. But today he was feeling particularly resentful and did not think, but became angry. He picked up the apple and threw it back at the tree, only to watch it bounce off the trunk and hit him again. Right in the neck. He fell to the ground, had a coughing fit, and was in bad shape for a while. After recovering his breath, he looked up from his prone position at the tiny nick the apple had made in the bark of the tree. He looked sideways at the apple. He looked back at the tree. He looked up at the sky and the dozens of apples that hung on the branches of the tree. A gust of wind shimmied the leaves and another apple fell, hitting him right in the nose. And suddenly, it all made sense. After rearranging his nose
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on his face and knocking his addled brain back into his head, Isaac Newton sat up. He looked out at the plow in the field. He looked at the sheep grazing. He looked again at the tree, the dimpled bark, and the second fallen apple. Holding it up, he looked at its deep red skin, shining in the sun with an indention just the size of his nose scarring the middle. Everything made sense. The world came into focus and he said very quietly to himself, “My mother is terrible at ideas. That’s what all this trouble is about.” After all, who was he to be not growing alfalfa and pushing plows and sheep and being bombarded with apples all the time? His smile beamed bright as he tossed the apple up into the blue, blue sky, watching it fall back into his hand again and again. “I will go back to school. I will go back to school and become the man of science I was always meant to be. And my first hypothesis will be, Do mothers always know best? But first,” he said. “I’ll have to go to the source. I’ll have to let my mother know about her trouble with ideas,” he nodded. “Also gravity. I’ll tell her about that, too.”

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The Storm that Picked Up the Roller Coaster and Dropped It 100 Feet Away
Devon Miller-Duggan into the surf. Otherwise undamaged. You could have dreamt it. Then, it would make sense. Entire blocks of houses, owned by firefighters, burned to the ground in the drenching rain. You could have dreamt it. Then it would make sense. Two small boys swept from their mother’s arms into the storm surge. You could have dreamt it. Then it would have been bearable.

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Cross Legged

John Catania

Southern Rain
Caroline Misner Florida, 1980 August is the season of rain, especially this far south; it’s easy to forget the feel of sunlight on your eyes. You believe the world will forever be this wet and warm and dark. The rain-blackened night drowned any moon that may have been. A heavy rain boiled down the back of the car and beat a wet tattoo upon the hood; 22 Petrichor Review

rivulets of water flowed down the glass of the windshield before being slashed by the wipers’ frantic blades. We arrived at a stop to rest and eat— red and yellow neon watered down, flashing like a bad headache. And the rain kissed my face, each drop bursting into my skin, stroking long fingers down my bangs, pasting my hair to my neck, dancing me through the puddles in the parking lot until the cuff of my jeans got wet. The atypical behemoths of trucks washed down in rain, their drivers hunched at scarred tables in the sweaty weather of the dining room, plump with nicotine smoke and conversation and the scent of chicken grilling on a spit.

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What Seemed Like Good Ideas
Jonathan H. Scott Karaoke at Gabe’s for the umpteenth, singing country for Cowboys dribbling swill on shave-nicked chins and calling for encores. Ordering curried fish in London first things first, to pop off a flare for fitting in—wincing at warm bitters and staring whole fish in the eyes. Pushing all-in against a sprung-eyed geezer with seven ways of grinning, none of which guaranteed a sure-fire flush or higher. Quarry dives at Warrior, skinny legs, white and wobbling, water-painted girls dripping mascara, quoting movies we liked that summer. That summer in particular. Crash course mistakes learned hard against the Gulf Coast, knee-deep in cold breakers, feet numb, and paper-white herons scaring the rest of the hell out of me. Days set aside for anticipating nights when the kaleidoscope rattled, twisted by unseen hands—tree branches cricketing havoc on the stars.

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Happilyeverafter

Devon Miller-Duggan Happens we stumbled onto the right road—probably by unfollowing the directions and sewing the map folds together. Happens the companions found us where the dew on the grass said we’d be. Hap we’ll be able to drink from the next river without dying, turning into especially unsentient fish, or growing extra tongues. Most likely, we never should have tried to cross the bridge without having ever once riddled the knowing. Even the moss between the paving stones knew more than we might ever have. Ever seemed easy then. We should have paid the coin that was asked, then we wouldn’t have these burns on our palms. We should have seen there was a doorway right at the crest of the span. We might ever have known whose palm fit the lock. We should have riddled ever. After, there will be harvesting. After, the hunger will quiet. After, the swans will settle and the sun take flight. After, the dust will cease singing. After, the dust will cease singeing. After, the dust will cease sighing. After, we open the book.

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Creation Story

Pete Madzelan

Heliocentricity
Hilary Gan
t the corner of Sixth and Campbell, the car radio likes to tell me stories about happiness in the key of A, while streetlights drip monsoons and asphalt pools water against the rest of the desert year. I’m afraid of flying because the planes like to tell me horror stories. The wrangler puts me on the tallest horse—the one named Tex—and we climb the mountain one sway-step at a time, until even the Colorado-sized sky is no match for my grin and the girl in stilettos on the Appaloosa only makes me laugh. I’ve found a man who wants me because of my sunscreen and sneakers and saddle hips, and not in spite of them; you, you on Pistol behind Tex in the sunshine.

A

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On a puddle-jumper flight out of Tucson to Denver, the plane tells me about the time a pilot tried to fly it into Tucson at 4,000 feet, even though there are known peaks higher than that, and only the autopilot function saved it from Titanic-ing right into the side of a fucking mountain. Four years ago I sat in the back of a red pickup at a drivein, watching a bad Nicholas Cage movie. In the end the kids got rescued by aliens and brought their pet bunnies to a new planet before a solar flare completely obliterated the earth, and Nicholas Cage hugged his estranged father as they were incinerated. After the movie, my friend who had invited us rolled his eyes and said, “Sorry, guys,” but I was too busy having a panic attack at the visual of our kindly yellow sun causing humanity’s demise to respond in a cinematically appropriate manner. I’m afraid of many things: midair collisions, dysfunctional landing gears, drunk pilots, suicidal pilots, geese in the turbines, malfunctions during takeoff, lightning strikes, air vortices, fires in the engine, general mechanical failures, pilot errors—but mostly I am afraid of the two minutes when I know I am going to die and everyone is screaming and there is nothing I can do. Because of all these things I am afraid of, I find it difficult, on occasion, simply to turn to a girl next to me on an airplane and ask her if she has a pen so I can do Sudoku. After we met by calculated chance at a Las Vegas casino, I wouldn’t let you come visit me for two months. But when you finally did the only thing that went wrong was that your flight was delayed for five hours. Just after a bout of turbulence that felt like a battering ram and left the wings flapping, the summertime flight from LA to Chicago tells me about the time this very pilot pulled another
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plane out of a downward spiral at 1,000 feet after a wing extension mechanism malfunctioned and wouldn’t retract. I have a photo of you at Black’s Beach in San Diego from a rainy weekend in April and your eyes are the same color as the water behind you. We had a whole forty-five minute span when there was no one else around, not even the usual nutbrown men in cock harnesses, but I was too afraid of getting caught to take my clothes off. I am sorry for that. On my first transatlantic flight out of Toronto into Paris I lucked out. The plane only spoke French. We followed the sunrise for three hours, and I watched a slowly widening rainbow streak along the horizon of the ocean. I prefer the planes with winglets because these prevent wake turbulence, like what caused the crash out of JFK that my plane from Newark to Buffalo saw back in 2001. Planes won’t ever say the t-word. One thing I find terrifying about flying, besides the awful scenarios of death and destruction relayed to me by the planes, is that the inside of the metal tube hurtling through the air at 38,000 feet and 400 miles per hour attached to a couple of jet engines is so fucking normal. I would give up my firstborn child for a window seat. I refuse to quit flying because I am in love with you and your sunshine eyes, all of which resides far away in St. Louis, the hub, the gateway to the west, the city under the arch. Also, I’m stubborn and won’t back down in the face of unpleasantness. But you are very kind and do most of the flying in this relationship because the planes don’t talk to you about anything at all, and in some ways this kindness is harder for me to brave than any adventures in aviation.

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I have been too proud to tell you or anyone that I always touch the side of the plane both as I’m boarding and as I’m deplaning. I try to make it look casual, but it’s a superstition. The story I told myself before I met you starred me as a cowboy always riding off into the sunset in search of the next trail to blaze, and I could not be tethered to the promise of a homestead. I knew this was just a story. Usually during a flight, I am white-knuckling the seat handles and sweating through the palms of my hands and my armpits, even though I am freezing, and I stare directly out the window for the entire flight. On good days I can do the crossword or read a book. I can’t listen to music or sleep because the planes always interrupt me. When I was a little girl staying over at my grandmother’s house, this is how she used to sing me to sleep: You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away. Once, when I was older, I asked to stay in the big queen-sized bed in the nearly empty west bedroom and that night she sang me the second verse for the first and only time: The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms. But when I woke, dear, I was mistaken, so I held my head and cried. Years later, my mother told me that my grandmother used to share that bedroom with my grandfather until he died of a heart attack at the age of 53 while they were making love. When you are in that state between light and dark, you will sometimes raise your head and tell me that you love me and
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then put your head back on the pillow. On the flight to New York to meet my parents you did this three times in five minutes, and my lap was the pillow. One night, after a flight from St. Louis to Tucson via Detroit, my brain tells me a story in which our sun flickers and goes dark, and I drop to my knees to the sound of the wordless cries of people around me and wait to be extinguished, too. The sun’s continuing fusion is an assumption we all count on. Because of the time it takes for light to traverse the distance between our planet and its star, we, humanity, would be allowed eight minutes more than the sun, and we wouldn’t know it. I try not to get drunk in-flight because then I get sloppy and sad and tell long stories about my mother to my seatmates, which is not good. Once, I got a prescription for Xanax and decided to test it pre-flight and I wound up in the corner of your apartment sobbing because the stars were so big and I was so small. I’m pretty sure this is not how Xanax is supposed to work, so now I try to get enough sleep and have a strong cup of coffee and just stay sober. Once, on a flight from Raleigh to Charleston, my plane got struck by lightning, which was kind of nice because it finally shut up about all of the incidences of whole panels ripping off the hulls during takeoff that year. I’m too proud to tell you how often I’m lonely without you. I seem to have traded in my spurs for forty acres of bedsheets. My favorite flight ever was from Reno to Phoenix. There was a harvest moon that was big and red and pulsing, and the plane told me that the rivets that hold everything together are the safest part of the whole machine, with an acceptable failure rate of about one in three billion. That plane also told me stories of things it had seen: ball lightning, the

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Grand Canyon at sunrise, sun dogs, the Northern Lights, fire rainbows, noctilucent clouds, and once some fish caught up in a raincloud (the technical term is non-aqueous precipitation) splatted against the front window. “You’ve got an orange moon tonight because of atmospheric conditions,” it told me importantly, and I smiled. I’ve been looking for that plane ever since, but haven’t run into it again. The oldest story I know about the sun is the one in which Helios’s son, Phaethon, drives the sun chariot across the sky and can’t control the mighty horses that pull it. He drives too high and nearly freezes the world, then drives too low and kills the crops and turns Africa to desert, and a grieving Helios watches Zeus strike down his beloved son with a thunderbolt. On my second transatlantic flight, into Amsterdam, the plane unfortunately spoke perfectly good English and told me one story over and over for 12 hours: about the EgyptAir flight that the NTSB concluded had crashed into the Atlantic near Nantucket when the co-pilot decided that he didn’t want to live anymore and probably neither did anyone else on the plane. Each time through this narrative, however, the plane reminded me that Egypt denies this version of events. Eventually, I did manage to fall asleep. The repetition was soothing. The black box is actually orange. Once, I successfully shut up a plane that tried to tell me again about Flight 191 out of O’Hare in 1979—whose port engine detached during takeoff—by yawning. “I’ve already heard this one a million times,” I told it. “Oh,” it said. “And you’re still okay to fly?” “Yes,” I said. “Besides, they rebuilt that model and it had a nice, long commercial career and now it’s in shipping.” “Well then,” said the plane. “Welcome aboard.”

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I tried that same move on the next flight but, upon hearing that its punchline had been ruined, the plane decided to give me a rundown of all the private plane incidents since 1923. When I got to stay at my grandmother’s house for the weekend, sometimes I would beg to watch an animated film, called The Day the Sun Danced, about the Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima that happened in Portugal in 1917, when three small children predicted the appearance of the Virgin Mary. As many as 100,000 witnesses reported seeing the sun veer in a zig-zag pattern toward the Earth at the predicted time. The most often suggested explanation for this occurrence is that staring at the sun too long can produce these types of visual effects, but the focus of the crowd had actually been on a tree and not the sun. I loved the story because the idea of the sun dancing was so cheerful, and because nobody believed the children and they were put in jail until the miracle occurred, and afterwards they were heroes. But my mother didn’t like me watching such heavily religious material and finally, when I asked to watch it at the age of eight, my grandmother told me no. You’ve told me that you will allow our not-yet-conceived daughters to date only after they have achieved their black belt in jiu jitsu, and that you will also require this of our boys for gender equality purposes. In my opinion, you would have made an excellent pilot. On the flight from Denver to St. Louis, I find the plane is relatively young. “Did you know it’s more likely we’ll have a terrorist on board than a deadly mechanical malfunction?” “Don’t say the t-word,” I hiss. “Oh, come on. Terrorist terrorist terrorist terrorist,” it sings. “I find it comforting that in the struggle between human evil and human invention, invention wins.” “If it’s more likely that someone on board is evil than that the mechanics fail, isn’t that evil winning?” I wonder.

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“I hadn’t thought of that,” says the plane. “Oh, Orville and Wilbur.” “Hush,” I say. “What is this, your first flight?” “In a passenger-carrying capacity, it’s my fifth.” “You’ll be fine,” I say. “It’s more likely that I’ll die of a heart attack on board than that you’ll crash.” I marvel at how reassuring I sound when my palms are leaving handprintshaped sweat marks on my jeans. My heart appears to be doing fine. Not only is our existence momentous in space, but also in time. Science tells us that even though the sun will lose about thirty percent of its mass by the time it becomes a red giant, and thus extend the length of the orbital leashes of the planets, it will also increase in size and temperature, and all of the water on Earth will boil away, rendering life impossible. On my way to the library I am waiting for the light at the corner of Sixth and Campbell and an Infiniti Coupe turns the corner, skids, corrects badly, and then accelerates over a small Palo Verde sapling and into a street sign ten feet from my toes. When I tell you about it you say, “No dying!” as if this is the military and I am a new recruit and death is as simple as growing your hair long. On the first leg of a flight from Tucson to St. Louis my curiosity gets the better of me and I ask the plane why they are always so worried all the time. “Well, of course it’s distressing to think that people will suffer simply because your navigation system fails,” it tells me. “Or any small part.” I think that this is reasonable, and say so. On the second leg of that same flight, the plane points out that my heart rate is higher when the plane is flying smoothly than when there is actually turbulence. I chew my ice. I had been on an airplane before I had any memories, but the first time I was on one and knew it I was nine and flew
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American Airlines to Florida, the Sunshine State, with my grandmother and her friend. My grandmother told the flight attendants I had never been on a plane before, and they gave me pins shaped like wings and extra peanuts and a coloring book with brand-new crayons, and the pilot took me onto the flight deck and let me sit in the pilot’s seat and showed me how to fly a plane. On the way home I was sad to find that there is a limit to how many times you can have a first time on an airplane, and that no one is impressed by your second time. Apparently, the actual first time I was on an airplane I fell asleep and had a night terror, and I screamed incessantly for half an hour because my mother couldn’t wake me up from the story my brain was telling me. When you were in college you had the hiccups for two years straight, which you say is how you learned who your real friends were. The doctors said you might have a lung tumor, but you didn’t and so I got to meet you. Sometimes now, when we are in the same city, I will hear you randomly hiccup and feel a surge of gratitude that you are here, hiccuping and mine. When I go to visit you for the summer I bring my little orange cat in a bright yellow carrier. After takeoff he curls up and sleeps for the entire flight. It occurs to me then that a story is not a story if it has no listener. According to the book that my father used to read to me before I went to sleep, what made the Wright brothers successful in moving from gliding to flying was the development of three-axis control: pitch, roll, and yaw. In other words, without the inclusion of a pilot, we would never have been able to fly at all.

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Hallways

Kim Marra
Issue 4, Spring 2013

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A Woman May Make a Remark
Phoebe Wilcox My coat made of failure does not match my successful skin. We will never run out of smut as long as there are lovers living. My striped socks are lost under the bed and my legs are over the rainbow. I would tear you up and take you to Oz in any Kansas weather. However, I will try and refrain, abstain and contain myself. It is the proper thing. But still, a woman may make a remark because some things between men and women are simply so remarkable.

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Katie Truisi

Issue 4, Spring 2013

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Mental Block

John Catania

Penance In Waiting
Sean Antonucci

S

trolling, follow the waiter into a room of voices disinterred and distended from the bodies that rest & consume & move moist lips in saliva-slathered irregularity. Here, alone in your booth, you wonder: which voice should I follow? The heated subatomic syllables bash into one another, crack and explode. And though only shrapnel can

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be deciphered from this distance, the meaning is preserved for the protuberant puff pastries that are the bread for a sandwich of a vacant stare. It is not unlike waking up in a room filled with clocks all telling a different time. Which do you go by? Should you trust the old grandfather clock? Or the sleek new timepiece that projects numbers onto any surface: a table, a pillow, or the face of your lover—a ‘4’ shimmering on the rivulets of her somnambulant drool? The vested man brings you a pamphlet of revolutionary phrases like: “l’antipasto,” “zabaglione,” “une degustation,” or “amuse bouche” (ch-chopping the double C’s and pouring the rrolling R’s into a great fondue of Romance languages— beware the sides, they’re hot). From the preset table— including glasses of water filled to the lip (like words in the mouth of the silent son—always ready, though missing the last drop to overflow—being aurally molested by pointy, choice words from an eruption formerly known as “Dad”)— it’s clear that someone’s been expecting you. And you were expecting the expectation, as you in turn sit expecting an arrival. Push away the menu. Let yourself order from the Bible. Ask for the Son of God—His body and blood. Plead with the waiter. Negotiate a contract with the man in the hornrimmed frames. Say: “Bring me God’s Son on a hand-crafted clay plate. Let me eat with Him, by eating Him, so that I might not be so alone in this purgatory of voices.” And, just as you are about to implode from self-cognizant panic, she sits down across from you and asks: “Have you been waiting long?” Do you tell her? 39

Issue 4, Spring 2013

Geometry (or) the shape of my heart, folded in half
Michelle Ravit Scalene triangles brain-scraping through cascading sine waves “parallelogram,” you call me. And congruent lines that roam— wide-open— perpendicular fences but my rhombus—always leaning forward—always moving toward or away from intersecting angles diagonal lines running tangent to each other tangent to your mother tangent to my horizontal symmetry.

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A Heart Needs a Raft
(for Laura Marello)
Paul Nelson Thigh-thick bamboo light and marrowless or balsa for fast long voyaging bound with vines and twisted hemp Kon Tiki’s buoyancy on currents beating up with a square-rigged sail Maybe white cedar Protestant logs thick with small ascetic cells lashed by nautical knots of manila a heavier craft that plows along though why handle such a craft stiff with old hostility to nature getting here getting there getting on so full of mission One could build a raft on a jasper shore by huge and gelid Fundy tides wide purple leather clam flats tanning or mooning part time treacherously lifting off feckless on relentless rise How to do anything without the ethic of hardship and a big knife
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How to stay moving weighed down by the grave moon the gravity of our wounded bodies the fear of keeling over upset and drowned in shock with a cold and sodden brain Best the bamboo on a sun-ridden beach no heavy canoe or shoes where equatorial tides are nothing and seashell sand does not retard an easy launch by pairs of hands brains no anchors to romance to somewhere anywhere makes sense if you aren’t coming back as it is with the life of a cautious person building in the back yard a raft out of anything like fifty gallon drums strapped beneath a pickup’s bed any light thing for a heart already afloat tied up in its slip of ribs A trouble with rafts trying to get on one your body already water pumps and bilge all pulse and wallow without keel the whole contraption 42 Petrichor Review

tugging on its veins and arterials tethered bow stern and spring lines flexing and sensing wayward weather low and high pressure systems systolic swells and peaks diastolic ebbs and troughs a raft quaking within the lava jetty

Cabinets

Kim Marra
Issue 4, Spring 2013

43

An Edict for the Expatriate’s Mornings
Suzanne Highland From Buenos Aires balconies I made my peace with the alien summer: I constructed a cloud of silver dust, speed-reading the rooftops, barely touching anything. The key is removing yourself from reality. You must be as though you are not, must be a likeness in the café window, a reflection with a camera, looking in. You will find yourself toe-to-toe with some transcendence. Reading Emerson in the botanical garden may seem to clarify, but the flowers did not grow for you. The roads did not unfold for you. The traipsing routine was there before. This morning, for all its elemental elegance, was already happening too. It did not grow from my sleeping mouth or awake to provide a song. It unfurled like a low fog and turned traffic-filled. You will soon realize you live a life apart. See the cloud, be like me. I have balconies. I can see things before they touch me. A boy speaks your language, do not fall for him. A parrot in the window would do better, would speak your words right back to you.

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The Man on the Beach
Richard Luftig He swings his metallic crutch in long, crescent arcs, a sundial over the three o’clock sand. With ears of some long-ago mastodon, he listens to each robotic beep like a probe from deep space, taking soundings for evidence of prior dreams: that silver wedding ring, those antique earrings, the St. Anthony medal that has given up the faith and stayed lost. Then swooping down, sifting over the bones, a vulture picking with purpose at whatever carrion remains of now-forgotten lives.

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Katie Truisi

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La Madonna del Parto
Hilary Sideris Artists exaggerate her post-Annunciation bulge, then part from narrative—a pause to reckon, wonder what exactly did that Latinspeaking angel mean? Some kind of son, work to be done. Will she contract like every other mother, or be bereft even of pain?

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Mrs. Brady

Michelle Ravit Loosely drawn projected sketch flora |stop| fauna an ear a knuckle a breast a fluidly upturned hand conducting wildly [fabled, tone-deaf, steady] But left unfinished diminished discordant feather flapping still—mid-air [pencil doesn’t need to be erased in order to fade] cancel your plans but turn off the light.

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Rustication

Kim Marra
Issue 4, Spring 2013

49

The Overture
Damien Roos

H

e finished the piece and stepped away from the piano, backpedaling, watching it as one watches a lion in the wild. He wasn’t sure what had happened, what his hands had done or his ears had heard, but when he escaped that room with the dark blue curtains and crimson walls he felt relieved and vowed never to return. The following morning he returned and played the song again, and again he did not trust his mind as capable, did not trust his hands as worthy, and thought his ears might melt from the gorgeousness of the sound. This time he wobbled as he stepped from the room, drunken from the melody and only a little sure the piano wouldn’t follow him to the door, spring forth, and tear his throat out. He tried to think of other things. But the piano stalked the halls of his thoughts as he shuffled down the stairs. The boy felt good and depraved and unworthy. A yellow sedan rolled by, a bell tolled in the distance, and the sky hung low and gray above the chilly air. A policeman held his hand out at the crosswalk, even though the street was bare, and the boy waited, wondering if he should tell someone about the song. Yes, he should. He should tell anyone who might listen. His hands trembled as he crossed, and as he drew near he saw how the policeman’s chest expanded, blue tufts of linen moving out. He decided he’d better not. He’d tell no one and never step foot inside that room again. A shop on the next corner sold warm bowls of meringue. They were good and fairly cheap, better than the boiled chicken in the stinking shop he’d just passed. He walked up to the shop—framed in bold green stripes—passed through the door, sat in a booth, ordered the meringue, and waited. When it arrived he took two bites, felt much better, and

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turned to a man sitting on a nearby stool. “I believe it’s the best song ever written.” Someone in the corner overheard. They dropped their spoon and it clanged in the bowl. The entire shop waited for something more. The boy had nothing more. He paid his bill and left. A young woman stood on the corner and grinned down at him. She held her hand out, but the boy refused to take it. He did not know the woman, nor her hand. “Please do,” said the woman. “I’ve followed you since yesterday. I heard your music through the window.” The boy took her hand and his own ceased to tremble. He took the other hand and felt her warmth and the weight of both her arms. “It’s the middle of spring,” she said. “And yet such a chill.” She pulled him into her bosom. Her scent made him feel good. When she let go he found his heart yearning to inhale each inch of her flesh. “Tell me you’ll play that piece for me,” she said. “When the bell chimes the hour.” “I will,” said the boy. The young woman left and the boy felt foolish. He regretted his promise, but now had no choice. He kicked along the sidewalk, watching his feet. He sat on a bench and studied the design painted on a door across the street, two red lines with a blue line in between. The boy became so anxious he thought he might scream. He tried to recall the young woman’s scent, but couldn’t. If he could, he would not be afraid.
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The bell tolled. The boy stood from the bench, walked past the shop with the meringue and through the intersection where the policeman stood expanding and retracting with each ample breath. The building with the crimson room stood large and round through the haze. He’d sworn he’d never enter it again. As he headed toward it, he realized he’d forgotten the song. He remembered the notes but had no inkling of their order. It was the greatest song his ears had ever heard, and that he was sure of, but only that. Why had he decided to play it for another? He felt wretched and full and distressed. The building grew larger as he approached, and through its windows he saw many faces peering out. As he mounted the steps, the boy thought of his very first lesson. He heard the metronome’s steady tick and felt his own heart match it as he reached for the door handle. He heard his instructor telling him to sit up straight again and again and felt the coolness of each key as his small fingers fumbled amongst them. The boy hated himself for ever having learned to play. He pulled the door open. The room was filled with people, and they all watched him enter. The boy could just see the tops of the crimson walls over the tangle of heads and shoulders. Everyone there was an adult and they shuffled aside, clearing a path to the piano. He wondered how long they’d been waiting. They watched him with tired eyes. A group of people to his left began to murmur, and amongst their rising chatter the boy heard a voice he recognized. “I’m just not sure he wrote the song himself,” he heard the young woman say. The boy felt a tremendous ache, a vacancy inside him like hunger. He stopped walking and stared into the thick crowd of shoulders and heads, searching for her face. The 52 Petrichor Review

boy couldn’t remember what it looked like, but he knew he’d recognize it if he saw it. He wished for her to come up through the crowd and be with him. A man coughed into his fist. They were waiting. The boy continued deeper into the forest of bodies. The piano sat nestled within, and light shimmered off its glossy finish. All around the boy stood the waiting people, silent now, quiet enough to not be there. He smelled them as he passed. The women smelled like fruit and rain. The men smelled like smoke and dust. They were all adults and the boy caught a brief glance at some of their faces. He didn’t know a single one. When he reached the piano, the boy sat down on the bench. He looked up at the waiting people and felt buried within them. He hoped the young woman was among the many faces. The keys felt warm. He began to play. The crowd stirred and a light chatter rose. The people looked at one another and one man shrugged. “This isn’t what he played before,” the boy heard the young woman say. She was among them, and the boy felt glad and then foolish. It occurred to him that he was stark naked and fear spiked within his chest. He took his hands off the keys and glanced down to find he was fully clothed, and the boy was so relieved by this he thought he’d melt. The chattering grew and his face reddened. He wished he’d never learned to play a single note. “It’s a different song altogether!” the young woman hollered hoarsely from somewhere in the crowd.
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“Shut up, you stupid bitch!” the boy shouted. He couldn’t believe he’d said it. The crowd of people gasped and one man raised an eyebrow. The boy reached up and patted his lips as one pats a cooling stove. They felt like rubber, unfamiliar. “Are you in here?” he hollered up at the room. No reply from the young woman. “You took me from my lunch,” said an old lady nearby. “I think I’ll get back to it now.” She started toward the door and the crowd allowed her clearance. The people glanced at one another and talked amongst themselves, but the boy did not hear the young woman’s voice in the mix. She’d gone, of course. Of course! She’d heard his foul mouth and then left him forever. And now the others were leaving, shaking their heads and shrugging at one another as they ambled toward the door. “That was a song of my youth!” the boy shouted. “I’m sorry.” They didn’t care. Only one woman looked over as he spoke and her skin was like a spider web stretched across her skull. The crowd thinned and all the while the boy peered into it in search of the young woman, though he knew she’d gone. He grew frantic as he watched them leave, certain he’d vanish when all of them had gone through the door. “Come back!” he shouted. “I’ll remember if you give me one more minute. Please!” The people continued through the door. Few remained now and none looked back. 54 Petrichor Review

“You’re all a bunch of rotting cunts!” the boy shouted. As the last few moved through the door, the air seemed to move out with them, tugging at the crimson walls flexing inward from the pressure. The open door gurgled like a drain sucking down the last bit of water until they shut it. The room was silent. The boy remained, but wished he didn’t. He’d never felt so alone. His skin felt stupid and he hated wearing it. He wanted to undress, to tear his clothes from his flesh, but then was terrified at the idea of being naked. The piano sat before him like a shiny, sleeping bull. The boy gripped his forearm tight with his opposite hand. He dug his nails into his skin, then slowly ran them down as small beads of blood pricked up from the scratches. The boy was lonely and very, very hungry. He threw both hands upon the keys and began to play. The forgotten melody ran out of them and filled the gently warbled walls, swirling upward and dispersing back down upon the boy’s head in a fine mist. When it was done he stood up from the bench and quickly stepped away. He hurried for the door and pulled it open. Night’s coolness surprised the boy, as he’d not known it was so late. The moon hung large and yellow overhead, showing clearly all the things beneath it. The boy turned toward the building’s edge and saw the hedges full of flowers near the partially opened window, their large blue bells the size of fists craning toward the crack the sound had poured through.

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It Was a Nice Day
Mike Jurkovic You never walk New York the same way twice and that’s redemptive. Reluctant servants stumble freely, siphoning meat and whiskey. I once thought your club was cool, but it’s a clan of criminal lovers whose teeth don’t match. Whose peevish complaints annoy me. Whose game shows leave me isolated. I only blew up the building because I could. It was a nice day, fat tourists choking on cheap gasoline. I only blew up the building because my back was up against the wall and I needed recreation. Because I wanted to, had to. The line between gang and government gone.

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Fists

Peter Nicholson

Sirenna Blas

O

n TV, we saw the Great Lakes congeal like oil. Michigan City’s coal-fired plant was a white tower amidst black clouds. John laughed, calling it our last beacon of hope. But when he’d go to work at the taco joint on Route 30, he’d never notice the sulfur in the air. Or the dust that settled on his jersey shirt. When he’d come home, he’d complain about flakes of meat in his hair and the degreaser on his hands, which smelled sweet, like corn syrup.
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He came home one day and said, “I just saw this chick shot on 30. Businesses are all closing down, so I think I’m gonna be out of a job soon.” We stay now in my cousin’s house in the mountains. She fled North and told us where the keys were hidden. All she left behind were dishes in the cupboards, sheets in the dresser, brown rice in a porcelain canister. The bed is made, but John and I sleep on the couch like children, holding each other so we won’t roll off the edge. When we arrived, I reinforced every window and door, a hammer in my hand, nails in my teeth. John laughed again here. “We made it in time to get screwed on both ends. This war from the East. Fucking wildfires coming in from the West.” It’s been a month. And John’s playing video games, wearing socks, a pair of boxers. I’m standing on the wooden porch that overlooks Ute Pass where a giant white cloud is growing. Its mushroom shape fits perfectly in the edges of the mountains. The sky is brown. Radio says it’s only a hailstorm, no alarm, might extinguish the fires that have spread from Montana. I’ve left the screen door open so he’ll maybe smell the sulfur, finally taste the dust in his teeth. The radio says the hail is as big as a man’s fist. I yell for John because black smoke is rising above the trees. I can’t tell which noises come from the ice pellets hitting roofs, which come from tanks and troops that have followed. But there’s a wall, a kitchen, a television set between us, so I know John can’t hear me over the zombies he’s fighting, the fictionalized 1940s freedom he’s fighting for. I am alone with the brown sky undulating with white cumulonimbi. The rattling floorboards and handrail. Pines folding in like used umbrellas. He doesn’t smell it. He doesn’t realize just how close the edge of the porch is to the hail that bounces off the ground in plumes of smoke, or the women who have bullets in their breasts. I go into the kitchen, alone, and break a dish to see how it feels against the rest of the vibrations.

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Katie Truisi

Blaze

By Phoebe Wilcox A shaky poster child for natural catastrophe running, running with pounding feet and thoughts, through a heart’s own obliterating explosion of stars. Call out sick. Call out sicker than sick, heartsick. Just call out. Call, “I can’t make it. I am an inferno.”
[Originally published by Wilderness House Literary Review fall 2012.] Issue 4, Spring 2013

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Walking Croton Point
Mike Jurkovic On the rocks along the reservoir I found a bra ravaged by season. Our nescience, heady, held its sway and we fucked menacingly, like weather tears a town from memory. We fucked between negotiations amid carnivores, who, catching our scent zeroed in for the kill. We fucked and everyone knew it. I am the one who forgot.

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Chinese Takeout and Casual Smoking
(For John Dorsey)
Zach Fishel The backs of fortune cookies gave nothing more than how to say popcorn sauce, the slew of lucky numbers just stray script from haigō chopsticks. We read them in all their looped regret as they spiraled into borrowed secrets like the wheezing laughter of clouds, floating from our lungs like a fleet of Mary Celestes, without any hope of return.

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The Dark Wood
Richard O’Brien here the Poet met Virgil’s shade comes to mind as I sit outside my house, alone. Low gray clouds rest atop leafless trees, caliginous forms like skeletal sentries who guard the way against the uninitiated. Where is my guide who will appear amidst these stark, sullen trees of night and lead me through the underworld? The answer to my silent question rests in the quiet emptiness all around me. The summer will erase the tenebrous wood, replacing bare branches with leafy green; the harsh winter rains will move on, and I will sit outside at night, content to know that no ghostly guide ever appeared between the gaunt trees to dupe me into a journey beyond my world. By now, the sinners are no longer recognizable and Hell so compartmentalized that it would hardly resemble the place the Poet described in his Inferno; even the fallen angels charged with tormenting lowly sinners have lost their place—the economic viability of cheap labor means their work being farmed out to contractors, lesser miscreants lacking originality with no clear agenda beyond the torment. Such change is inevitable; as it is on Earth, so it stands above and below. The dismal trees out here tempt me, but it is better that I stay rather than take one step off my porch for fear of not recognizing Virgil even if he hit me with a shovel and dragged me half-conscious, bloodied, all the way down to the 9th level where Ptolomeca looks more like a run-down theme park or a dull shopping mall, complete with homogenized shops and muzak that plays forever, where there is never enough parking and everyone wants to be waited on first.

W

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Ember Days and Remembrances
Caroline Misner A roundabout in the park, trying to rekindle a kind of ironic nostalgia, stands among the Victorian houses with eaves cut like gingerbread; stripped of weather vanes they now support the grey elephantine ears of satellite dishes—poised skyward— capturing a rash of media. Wandering the streets of common angels, beneath the leaves’ first blush that heralds summer’s end, I write lectures in the sand along a path of purple stones with awkward hands and cold lisps catching in my throat. A kiss mollifies the groundlings and whispers catch the breath of remembrance in an unattended cemetery where old bones decay, dry like stringless laundry, wrinkled and forgotten, save a few plastic bouquets faded with time. Soon old soldiers will lug a wreath of red roses to the foot of the cenotaph. Veterans in moss berets and brass lapels, who still believe “Amazing Grace” played on bagpipes can resurrect these human sacrifices. The sighing of the dog as she sleeps,
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the white sky rubbed of its plush are the small deeds that make up miracles. Birds rise, startled at the peal of some distant church bell—necessary in these old suburbs. A black squirrel twitches his tail along the limb of a gnarled oak, his mouth-sac stuffed with bounty, scattering the brown leaves that clog the gutters; they are the dry skin of these ember days.

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Peter Nicholson

Thomas Edison’s Blue Bird
Kate LaDew
Thomas Edison wanted people to live in concrete houses with concrete furniture (including pianos) and decided to get the ball rolling himself, along with pocket-watch magnate Charles Ingersoll. 12 houses were constructed. No one much liked them.

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homas Edison looked up at the scaffolding, air heavy with ill-spent time. The whole world was gray and it made Edison’s head hurt. He was thankful, as he was every day, for his damaged ears. The boxing they took in his twelfth year of life allowed only the deepest of sounds to invade his brain now. It had enough in it already, Edison thought. His eyes jumped to the house before him, boomeranging from the roof, to the windows, to the front door and back again. It was a glorious sight, and no one knew it but him. It had been such a wonderful idea. A way to ease his mind of the guilt he always felt when he passed those grimy little tenement buildings, trash coating the streets like dirty snow, washing crisscrossing as if vulgar spiders were setting up traps. Edison was going to change all that, revolutionize modern-housing with affordable, fire-proof, insect-proof and dirt-proof dwellings. A single pour concrete house any color one could desire, a gift to the world. But Edison had been repaid with silence upon silence. He only wanted something beautiful. Now he had twelve beautiful things, and not a soul living in them. He looked down at the ground and sighed. A tiny blue bird alighted on the tree branch over his head and Edison didn’t realize. It had been fifty-two years since he’d heard a bird sing. The light shifted, making shadows in the dirt, one hopping back and forth, back and forth. He turned his eyes up, blinking at the bird. He saw its deep, pure color and imagined what blue sounded like. Was it a flute, whistling in the air like school children playing? Or a melancholy violin, a trembling, drawn out note, some dark

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fish moving through water? Edison allowed himself these musings when he was outdoors. Something had to make up for the chaotic silence, that flutter of sound always in his ears, amounting to nothing. The bird looked back at the man, head tilted. The man’s head tilted. He smiled. School children playing. He was sure of it. “I am sorry about all this, Tom. I didn’t know.” Edison turned towards the blur of words. “Sorry?” “Yes, truly.” Edison shook his head at Charles Ingersoll. “I meant I didn’t catch—” He shook his head again. “You’re sorry?” Ingersoll moved closer, chin nearly touching Edison’s ear. “It was such a beautiful idea. I thought the world would believe it, too.” Edison nodded, looking up. “Where did the bird go?” Ingersoll held his hand against the pale glow of the sky. “A particular one, Thomas?” “Oh, yes. Not just any bird would do.” They watched the clouds. Ingersoll clapped Edison on the shoulder. “Might as well go inside, old man. It’s all set up.” “The piano as well?” “Of course. I could play something—well,” he laughed, embarrassed. “We’ll take a look around.” The cool, concrete walls of the parlor were a rich burgundy, spaces for pictures built in, and dark, empty rectangles 66 Petrichor Review

awaiting fireplaces. Ingersoll left him for the upstairs and Edison slowly moved his feet toward the piano. He sat on the cool, smooth bench, staring down at the keys. Raising a blue veined hand, he picked out that jumble of letters, the tune his mother always played, the one he never knew he’d miss. Had he any inkling, those notes would have been imprinted on his brain before any formula or equation. His brain located the memory and set the song ringing in his ears, but Edison couldn’t be sure what he remembered was ever what he had really heard. Some things just got lost. He pressed the keys down again, but felt no familiar vibration, the one he waited for as a child, sitting crosslegged on the floor, his beautiful mother’s beautiful fingers singing and smiling at him. The music was trapped up inside the concrete, Edison knew. The cold, impersonal rock that never breathed. Edison’s mouth set in a line and he collided his foot with the base of the piano, once, twice, relishing the shock of pain coursing through his legs, his chest, his heart. “To be fair, a wooden piano would have stubbed your toe as well.” Ingersoll crossed his arms, head suddenly next to Edison’s. “To be fair.” “That is fair,” Edison nodded, holding his foot in the palm of his hand. His elbow brushed a key and, leaning forward, he put his dead ear against the concrete. His mother was always blue in his mind, a trembling, dark note moving through water. “It is fair indeed, Charles.” Edison depressed the key again, fallible memories flooding through him and his silent brain, his silent world. “So little is.”

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Ninety + Three

Gilmore Tamny

68 Petrichor Review

The Sunlight: A Million
Richard O’Brien ngels shimmered on the creek’s surface and along the bank there was a tree with a hole in its trunk, and I told you a tale about people who came from another world, little people like elves that entered our world and captured stray cats for the war effort back home. And why, you asked, did the elves need cats, and I told you that tabby cats were used as war horses, given their speed and natural camouflage, while tomcats served as pack animals to haul heavy loads which proved a troublesome affair given the inherent feline distaste for the rigors of being another’s beast of burden. Many years have passed since that day, and the creek, in the late summer afternoon, still captures light the way it always did. The tree still stands even though the hole near the trunk’s base is not visible—the last time I looked, a patch of weeds obscured the doorway between the worlds. Perhaps the war of the elves is over, and this news I would share with you, but if you no longer remember the elves who waged their war then maybe you can recall a million angels dancing over the creek’s surface, and if that’s enough to jar your memory then that would be as good a start as any.

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Landscape 1975

Ira Joel Haber

Thriving Modernist Movements
Alex Schmidt The city goes BOOM BOM as it climbs the mountain. The buildings quiver more and more as they grow a little taller each year. The Smoyte family doesn’t move at all for thirty days, the founders of a new method to being still: move every thirty days: spin a record, shake a leg, praise god: Percy Sledge, an abstract voice 70 Petrichor Review

from an abstract age. THINKING in white block letters looks over the valley from the opposing summit. It makes murky the little marigolds clumped at its base. Black on orange on white. There was a time when thinking was the only verb. But now oranging is to have a head filled with childhood enigmas and cry usually by the red river. And at one point birds and children became one in the same movement, the same as thinking, which is now greening. Father Smoyte moves. It’s only been twenty-eight days but there’s an itch on his leg, in his head, and now a quick wince at the darkening patch of blue jays in the valley.

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Were Ink Made of Cats
Devon Miller-Duggan
I. The punctuation won’t learn. Every word you write scratches its way into your paper, leaves shreds— confetti to confuse the masses. Every i’s dot skitters like a laser pointer in a toddler’s hand. All the words chase it then collapse in heaps and snooze. The capitals whisker out, insisting they know the words to come— Pages written on can never be fulfilled or satisfied or stuffed enough with creamy words or meaty words, or quivering-prey words. Some words, the slimy ones, escape and fetch up underneath bare human feet or on a pillow where you’d meant to lay your sleeping head. Nothing you meant to write stays where you meant it to or nuzzles the proper hand. II. The furniture’s been clawed again. The words are at your throat again and won’t let go. Something’s rabid here. III. All the cats across the world assume the Buddha-pose, wrap tales around their bodies, let whiskers droop to inattention, twitch their ears thrice, and make the human world stop reading.

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