Apeiron Review

Spring 2014 Issue 6
There’s a long-standing debate on the worthiness of submitting to a medium that cannot pay you. I see both
sides of this debate as a writer and as an editor. For me, I choose to stick with the belief that we all have to
start somewhere. To date, Apeiron has no fnancial backers other than Meredith and me — a college professor
and a copywriter who happens to do a splash of web design. I say this, not in a bid for money (we aren’t taking
donations or selling anything just yet — I know, I know, put those wallets away for now), but because I want to
remind our readers that we are the type of people
— just like you — that make up the literary world.
It’s a world that we live in because we love it, and we
want to be here; not because it’s necessarily fnancially
proftable.
However, Apeiron has reached a point where
it must start to sustain itself, and that means also
sustaining (or helping to sustain) our artists, frst.
We ask that everyone bear with us as we stretch
our business legs a bit further. There will be many
changes over the coming year, but I frmly believe
that these changes will all bring positive results. Print
and electronic issues, minimal advertising, and other
such things, will all culminate in our ability to pay
our artists. We can’t give money if we aren’t making
money. Happily, we know that we’re producing a
quality literary magazine.
On that note, Issue 6 has unfolded into another
beautiful magazine. Thomas Gillaspy’s “Vertigo”
graces the cover, and its vividness is meant to entice
you visually before you immerse yourself into the
minds of our writers. There’s grace between these
pages. From Sarah Kilch Gaffney’s carpe diem
reminder, to the teeth of Robyn Ryle’s “Natural
Enemy,” this issue truly embodies our desire to produce a literary magazine that will scratch the surface of the
toughest heart, cause much gnashing of the teeth, or at the very least inspire you to pull out your own notebook.
We want visceral work in every issue, and each of these pieces showcases an ability to make us feel something
deeply, be it loathing, lust, compassion, etc.
So, on this lovely spring day (or whenever you should stumble across these humble pages) we hope that you,
too, will feel that certain something that causes goose bumps to rise.
Happy reading,
Editorial
Poetry
1 Birdcage
Katherine Neale
2 5 a.m. quiet
John Reinhart
6 The Spiritual Doubts of
Orange
Tom Holmes
7 After Hours with Orange
Tom Holmes
12 Interpreting the Diagnosis
Atreyu Luna
13 Southern Girls
Melissa Watkins Starr
14 The Revivifcation of Charles
Josiah West, Age 82
Jeffrey Winter
15 (The Passion of) Joan of Arc
Jeffrey Winter
20 Four Mile Creek (Kansas)
Richard Luftig
23 post-impressions
Sherryl Anders
24 a little less
Demond Blake
25 The Thief
Bob Meszaros
27 Lac Bernard
Claire Farley
28 Love in the Age of Choler
Jeanine Deibel
The Review Staff
Editors
Meredith Davis
Lisa Andrews
Design Editor
Lisa Andrews
Production Editors
Meredith Davis
Lisa Andrews
Art Advisor
Chris Butler
Unsolicited submissions are
always welcome. Actually, we
do not solicit submissions, so
please send your work our
way.
Manuscripts are now only
accepted via Submittable. For
submission guidelines,
schedules, news, and archived
issues, please visit our
website at apeironreview.com
©Apeiron Review. All rights
revert to author upon
publication
29 Drafting to Redeem Myself
Jeanine Deibel
34 Airbag
Jonathan Treece
35 In a Dream of Slow Moving
Traffc
Jonathan Treece
36 My 95
Sarah Ann Winn
38 Road Trip
Kelly Grace Thomas
39 Winter Begins in Berlin
Aileen Bassis
45 Kitengela
Melissa Burton
46 I Prefer My Flag
Cynthia Ring
48 Thinking of Nothing
Steve Klepetar
51 Mikey Comes Homes
Karla Cordero
52 Father
Noorulain Noor
53 Fatherhood
Matthew Kirshman
57 Stones
Janet Butler
58 Aurora, Wǒ de ài
Ericka Becks
Contents
About Our Cover
Thomas Gillaspy is a northern
California based photographer with
an interest in urban minimalism.
His work is forthcoming in
Streetlight Magazine and Suisun Valley
Review. Contact information and more
examples of his work can be found
at: http://www.fickr.com/photos/
thomasmichaelart/
Vertigo
60 Lately They Have Been
Telling Me
Rick Kempa
61 The Other Woman
Noorulain Noor
62 Dispossession
Noorulain Noor
Fiction
3 The Malfunction of a Small
Airplane as Seen From the
Ground
John Rieder
8 Naked Guy
Katharine Monger
10 Utopia
Nashae Jones
17 The Endless
M. Brogan
21 First
Andrew Davis
26 Cave-diving
George Michelsen Foy
32 The Undercarriage
Brian McVety
41 Throwing Stones
Dana Roskey
47 Natural Enemy
Robyn Ryle
49 Angle
Roland Leach
Nonfction
31 The Best Days
Sarah Kilch Gaffney
Photography
5 Portaging the Fog
Sarah Ann Winn
11 Lobotomy
Laura Jean Schneider
16 So Real
J. Howard Shannon
22 Plenty for Birds
Sarah Ann Winn
30 Didn’t Make the Winter
Laura Jean Schneider
37 Garden Greenery
Sarah Ann Winn
40 Watching You
Wes Adamson
50 Escape
Thomas Gillaspy
59 Oil and Water
H.C. Turk
1
As witnesses of grief
we become dark of tongue
dark of heart.
Grey birds inhabit our bodies
settling in the most intimate places.
The birds squat in our ankles. They futter in our
knees. They peck at our fngers.
They fold themselves in the inner ear
tucked away from the lighting
that strikes the skull like a chisel.
The pieces fall
from the crowns of our heads.
We could not be more mortal.
So we house the birds
in the sap of our navels
in the stems of our throats.
And we sing.
The earth lifts our skulls—
a storm of cirrus and curl. The mountains
so stoic so still so quiet
are fretting and thrashing within us.
This is the witching hour we have been waiting for
the witching hour we have been dreading.
Arms spread not like wings
but daggers.
There is fre to be eaten
fame by fame.
We rise from the bowels of the soil.
We are clean.
Birdcage
Katherine Neale
2
clock ticks,
a motor
somewhere
whirs lightly,
the dog
stirs; airplane
overhead
faint rumble
as thoughts
tumble
under chairs
into dark
corners
scurrying
through my
head
in this
5 a.m. quiet
the chorus
inside
insists I
listen
spurred
by coffee
and freshened
limbs;
I try
to sort
out the melody
but today
the viola
dominates
and
everyone
is
awake
before the
symphony
fnishes,
turning my
5 a.m. quiet
into
day
5 a.m. quiet
John Reinhart
3
10:00 a.m. and you’re leaning out the window
of your third-story apartment in an old suburb
just downwind from the city. You’re leaning
out, just so, Monday, cracked mug half-full of
Darjeeling tea, earthy, with honey, your eyes lazy
on the four-story across the street.
You’re leaning out, just so, and the sky seems
to pop (then roar), a bass-heavy spiraling grind
just above you.
An airplane, tiny and white from this distance,
a Cessna, a toy almost, is breaking apart against
clouds that boast rain.
You’re looking up now, straight up, and this
whole sequence, this whole linear narrative,
plays out in seconds.
The malfunction. Plane breaks in two. Pilot
falls to earth.
But this event and the few moments that
comprise it become yours. You can almost pluck
the whole logic of the sequence out of the sky,
let it idle in your cupped
hands indefnitely.
The malfunction. Plane
breaks in two. Pilot falls to
earth.
You’re looking up now,
straight up, and you almost
laugh because it all does
seem to happen in slow motion, the cliché of
every bad movie, every imparted near-death
experience, every session of hypnotic regression
therapy. The way the little airplane’s wings and
cockpit diverge from the tail, its fuselage comet-
burning, disintegrating against the overcast
backdrop.
The way the pilot falls fast, much more
quickly than the whirling X of the cockpit and
wings. And from where you stand, leaning out
of your window, the pilot, for only a fraction of
a moment already so fractured, is superimposed
against the wings. And you channel so many
thoughts (an ocean of questions) of angels
falling to earth, like García-Márquez wrote, and
who believes in fucking angels anyway? And can
he fy now? And are you (is he) my angel? And
that angel and angle are so close so if he’s falling
straight downward is that still acute? And now
you’re standing outside, just up the street from
your apartment.
Now you’re moving further up the street. You
hear the frst sirens, still a few minutes away,
and you’re suddenly aghast, this gently cupped
moment swatted from your hands. Who could’ve
called? Who else saw the plane come apart, saw
the white heat of the fuselage bloom against
the gray, the man tumbling downward, faster
even than the front half of the airplane, saw
the superimposition of man against spinning
wreckage overhead?
But now you’re there, on a side street just a
block past your apartment, where the pilot is
sprawled out on the sidewalk next to a shrub
John Rieder
The Malfunction of a Small
Airplane as Seen From the
Ground
The malfunction.
Plane breaks in
two. Pilot falls to
earth.
4
yellowed by dog piss and drought. He’s fully
intact, not a bloody splat, not the dramatic red
smear that you thought would be the result of
such a great fall.
You’re closer now, and his body at rest
reminds you of images from a book of Civil
War daguerreotypes you once saw, the way the
battlefeld dead lay in contortion. A leg crossed
over the other. Torso half-turned at the hips.
Arms bent behind the head, the head resting in
the crook of one elbow. A hand bent slightly
back at the wrist.
You’re standing over him now.
Now you’re kneeling beside him. Kneeling
in the blood that is seeping from his head and
stomach, his intestines herniated. And one thing
that surprises you the most about this dead pilot,
besides his moustache, which reminds you of
your father’s, very thick and dirty-blonde, is that
his watch, a silver-plated thing, is still audibly
ticking.
You give your synopsis to a local reporter, a
woman with a smart suit and perfect teeth, and
to a buff young cop with no hair: the unseen
malfunction, the plane splitting in two, the pilot
falling.
You go home and sleep for 17 hours.
You dream deeply. Odd visions. Civil War
dead that bleed Darjeeling tea. Silver-plated
teeth that bite the rain from clouds.
A comet cupped gently in the palm of your
hand.
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The Spiritual Doubts of Orange
Portaging the Fog
Sarah Ann Winn
6
The modern Orange is a new phenomenon – / its
beliefs arise from the future. – Henri Matisse
This modern Orange paints alone
on a precipice at the world’s edge.
Above are its heavens. Below is saffron
sentiment atomizing in mist.
At its back, blood-soaked wraiths project
doubt into Orange’s inevitable loneliness.
When Orange is honest with itself, it realizes
it is the worst of the conceivable disappointments.
It declares itself spiritually bankrupt, takes the
vow
from poverty, and prepares for war in times of
peace.
Its paranoia for catastrophe stifes its own fervor
despite Orange’s primal optimism.
Wherever there is a festival or a circus,
Orange waits in line and hopes it’s This High.
Tom Holmes
The Spiritual Doubts of Orange
7
Here is the defense
against the negative forces
of denial and death. Here
in the city of taverns, dance clubs,
and after-hour sex parlors. Here, in the night,
with the presence of other and uncanny.
And everyone who is exposed
to or immersed in its early hours
is tinged with mimetic failure. Here is
the spectacle, the pleasure dome.
Here, the debutants of the night
forge wooden masks and iron umbrellas
to hide their grotesque origins.
There are no class differences here,
no towers, no debt, no normal.
Whoever enters its subterranean becomes
a joke, so every entity is dispossessed
of its threat. At its core, Orange
germinates purity and the ancient—
the seeds of rebellion. At its core,
Orange is metaphysical and real
as a belly, empty or full. Here is where
the debutants may carry oils
and paint sleep with fngers.
Tom Holmes
After Hours with Orange
8
“Hey. Look. It’s Naked Guy.”
We were crouched around the table with the
short leg, my wallet wedged between it and the
bar foor. Over Jason’s shoulder, in line with the
point of my nose, Naked Guy stood behind
his second-story apartment window across the
street. The overhead light paled the shadows
that would otherwise accentuate any muscles
in his arms. As he stretched them above his
head, his chest billowed in a slight curve, taut
in the high wind of a yawn. He began pulling
mindlessly at his dick.
“Did I tell you about the time?”
“He blew a load?”
“It was impressive.”
Vlad, the bartender, limped over and clasped
Jason on the shoulder.
“Announcement?”
Jason laughed. “Not tonight, my man. Not
tonight.”
“Thank Jesus,” Chris said as he texted to his
overseas girlfriend. We didn’t know which sea,
exactly—but she liked rock climbing, he’d said
once, “so she’s hot.” We’d pointed out he was
afraid of heights, preferred high rises to high
tops, and couldn’t do a standard push-up to save
his mother.
“It’s motivation,” he said, “to get me in shape.”
A pinch on my arm. Manny was smiling, cross-
eyed, inspecting a black hair between his fngers.
“You’re basically a dude.”
“The hormones. I’m falling apart.”
Jason let out a great laugh, slapped the
bartender on the ass. “Make me something,
something like, pure moonshine.”
“I can do that,” Vlad said.
My beer was fat. Seemingly out of the ceiling,
Anna’s face leaned down, kissed my forehead.
Before I could respond she was bouncing away
to the bar. I wanted her girlfriend, tightly cross-
legged and cross-armed in her stool, to glare at
me, to start something. But her attention was
on Anna, who was leaning precariously over the
bar, calling out for a sugary shot like the college
kid she never was.
“Why’s she play you?” Manny asked, chugging
the rest of my beer. “Ugh. Let me buy you
something strong. Not from Vlad.”
“No, that’s okay.”
“Aw, Naked Guy! Come back!” Jason’s hands
clapped in the air. My wallet slipped, slid across
the foor. Manny slapped his arm across the
table to stop the bottles. Across the street, the
apartment was dark.
“He’ll be back,” Anna called out in an Austrian
accent. I could see the pattern of her bra under
the red bar lights. Black stripes.
“Manny?”
“Yes, Jason.”
“How’s Bradley?”
Chris snorted.
“Bradley was okay,” Manny said.
Katharine Monger
Naked Guy
9
“Was?”
“Was,” Chris repeated.
Anna was leaving.
Jason sighed. “Look. I’d heard, but I didn’t
want to tell you. I’d heard he was an asshole.”
“The fuck?” Chris said, still staring into his
phone.
Jason nudged him and asked, “Doesn’t feel
like sexting?”
“No, I was—no, what? Why’d you let him go
out with that freak?”
“Fuck I didn’t say he was a freak, I said he was
an asshole.”
“He wasn’t that bad,” Manny said. “Forget it.”
I turned to him. “You’re too nice, Manny.
That’s your problem.”
“No, no, hear me out.” Jason downed his blue
moonshine, then paused, staring at the empty
glass.
“It’s okay, really,” Manny said.
“And never take relationship advice from J,”
I said.
“That’s not fair! I’ve had my share of ladies.”
“Exactly,” Chris said. “Manny doesn’t need
a bitch.” Manny stood. I stood. He cocked his
head. “I’m going out for a smoke,” he said.
“I need some air,” I said.
“He was one of those, those, lost souls,
you know?” Jason called after us. Manny and
I squeezed past Anna, who was kissing her
girlfriend’s palm in the entry.
Outside the bar, I could hear drivers driving
too fast down a parallel main street. Drivers
driving, drinkers drinking. But our street was
quiet, the bar surrounded by mid-century
family homes, some with families sleeping—but
most empty, their college student inhabitants
out taking chances. Houses with two, three
porches, each with a different personality, a
different subset of Midwestern culture. Folding
camp chairs, dirty plastic tables. Porch swings.
Bar stools. Couches. Posted on the bar door
was a sign, “OUT OF RESPECT FOR OUR
NEIGHBORS, PLEASE LEAVE QUIETLY.”
Manny danced around the breeze with his
lighter. Eventually he gave up, sat on a concrete
garden wall.
“I wanted to like him,” he said.
“I know.”
“Guessing game. A big guessing game.”
I didn’t ask, but I thought I knew what he
meant.
Anna shrieked. Inside, she was a monkey on
her girlfriend’s back, pointing over and above us
to Naked Guy, standing in his lighted apartment
window with a gun to his head. I wondered who
hadn’t told him his mustache wasn’t doing him
any favors.
We both jumped when the door slammed
behind us.
“This happens all the time,” Jason said.
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10
She chewed the bone down to the bristle.
“Slow down.”
She heard the remark, but kept grinding her
teeth down on one of the empty bones.
“Antoinette,” her mother hissed.
She couldn’t stop. Her fngers slipped through
the remaining meat, gliding through, tearing
mercilessly.
Her mother pulled back her arm.
“Slow down girl. You’ll choke yourself.”
Antoinette looked over at her mother, her
heavy tongue cleaning the cracks of her teeth. A
smile fitted across Antoinette’s face, her cheeks
puffng with pleasure.
“You’re eating like it’s your last meal.”
Antoinette ignored her. She felt the sauce
enter a la seconde on the base of her tongue,
expertly fowing to an intrinsic rhythm. She
traveled through the corn, her fngers segregating
different colors, textures, shapes, and sizes. The
corn muffn broke easily against Antoinette’s
rapt fngers, raining down in sad arrangements
onto her synthetic dish.
“Is it good?” her mother asked.
Antoinette had proven her admiration. She
nodded. Her face was slicked wet, a badge of
honor. She simply nodded her head, her hand
still wedged in a slab of pork.
“Good baby, good.”
Antoinette cleared the remaining food on her
plate. She sat back, satisfed with her work, a
sense of remorse creeping up into her.
“May I be excused?” Antoinette asked.
The feeling rammed through her, catapulting
down her organs, riveting her liver, clenching
her stomach. Her mother nodded, her own
plate still a brilliant utopia. Antoinette made her
way to the bathroom, her intentions clear. She
could feel the emotion eat through her, rapidly
whisking through her limbs.
Control, that’s what she needed. She bent
against the porcelain, circling it with the base
of her hands. The water, murky and uncertain,
taunted her. She knew where to place her fnger.
She’d done it many times before. When she
fnished her slate was clean and utopia awaited
her return.
Nashae Jones
Utopia
11
Lobotomy
Laura Jean Schneider
12
I have the hand of God inside of me.
She is angry
and trapped.
My family was helpless to save me as a child.
They did not know the correct medical term, but
even if they did
I was raised above them, screaming, as the hand
held me
frmly.
I cannot fght that which is within me.
Better by far to surrender—
accept unconditional dust.
Autism is God.
She is angry, but not beyond help.
She is love.
And my lacks,
deep neurological caverns pitted by doubt,
are where my strength grows.
I thrive, weed-like,
my soul’s tender rebar.
Against all bets.
Interpreting the Diagnosis
Atreyu Luna
13
The Revivification of Charles
Josiah West, Age 82 Sift the four,
adore the cool
smoothness of it.
Forget cups,
no need for spoons.
Palm the shortening,
pinch it in,
pour on buttermilk.
Work toward a ball
that’s soft like
a woman’s breasts.
Sweet Southern biscuits
take a fast oven,
emerge golden,
edible heirlooms.
Southern Girls
Melissa Watkins Starr
14
Jeffrey Winter
Look: I am dancing.
I don’t remember the last time I danced,
but remember how.
I am dancing toward you.
My skin is rough palimpsest
with a thousand stories
lurking forgotten underneath tonight’s.
I keep folding at the joints,
crinkling at the edges;
I trip over my shins as
the foor clears.
It’s coming easier now.
Listen: air whistles through
the soft blue tubes twined
up and down my limbs.
With a choking, glottal sound
the blood begins to move again.
Each jounce of my narrow shoulders
carries me closer to you.
Each thrust of my hipbones
sprinkles my path to you with rust.
They will say I am too old,
the way they say that you are fat.
I say that you are ripe;
I say that I am ready.
Who will you believe?
This is what age can be:
a suit half-full, shaking itself
across a gleaming foor
to the never-ending throb of music;
a blunt blade yearning
for the stroke of the whetstone.
A shot of whiskey glows in my stomach,
the liquid hand of an angel
playing the puppeteer.
I am more full of grace than
I ever have been.
I am more graceful than
I ever will be.
See: the lights refect off the foor
like faint, cool coals.
Watch: I strut across them for you.
I am receiving signals from parts
long presumed dead,
from ghost towns
where oil has been suddenly struck.
I am a revived libido.
I am a resurrected id.
I am the holocaust that happens
in the epilogue.
Place your pretty hands on your thighs;
remain seated
and prepare yourself.
Listen: the music never stops.
Look: I am dancing across the foor.
See: I am coming.
I am coming for you.
The Revivification of Charles
Josiah West, Age 82
15
Some man asked me recently if I had
any regrets about her. Did I feel
I might have treated her too harshly?
No, I told him; there was no other way.
You try it, I said. You take a woman down
from the stage and set her before the eyes
of the world, then take God and put him
behind the eyes of the woman. You try it.
Anyway, I knew it would not kill her.
Contrary to what you’d think, we grow
more malleable as we grow older.
(Can you imagine, for example, if I had picked
some brittle nineteen-year-old ingénue for the
part?
She would have fractured the moment we clipped
the frst tress.)
Indeed, at times I felt that I feared her more
than she did me.
In the fnal analysis, I told him,
none of this is of any consequence:
She is dead now, and her tears are still wet.
Whatever I put her through, I’m sure
she would see the value in that.
For God’s sake, I told him, look at it
again, from start to fnish:
The trial, the temptation, and the immolation.
Watch her through the fames, I said,
at the end of her climb to the stars,
and tell me you do not hear the fre building,
that you do not feel it rising in your own skin.
It is that fre that acquits me.
Jeffrey Winter
(The Passion of) Joan of Arc
16
So Real
J. Howard Shannon
17
It’s snowing here where I am and I’ve gone
out to stand between the red spruce and
Pennsylvania pines to smoke a cigarette. I can
hear the snow fall and the Allegheny whisper
down below as it passes old towns and forgotten
campfres. I could really be anywhere, but I am
here, dug into the snow with a shovel, and a wool
blanket wrapped around my back. I pretend
you put it there, but the fre has long gone out
and now mud stands where ashes once were.
The scent of burnt leaves and wool and breath
circle around my nose. I have come here to bury
superstitions.
My glasses begin to fog up so I take them off.
It reminds me of the time we were hiking in the
Carpathians and I couldn’t see you any longer
in front of me, so I stopped for a moment to
try and dry my lenses off, but my sweater was
soaked with sweat. When I looked up, you were
a moving blur up ahead on the trail, slowly yet
steadily going away, and I thought about calling
out to you, but let the moment pass and took a
long swig from my canteen instead. That night
we became friends with a stray dog and drank
mulled wine in a hut with a mountain man of
few words. The memory of it makes me smile.
It is a series of clips with no words, as if the
sound were turned off. I can’t remember what
we said to one another. I can only feel my feet
unwilling to thaw, smell the wood splitting open
in the stove and cloves and cinnamon in the hot
wine, and see the fog as it settled over the dark
forested mountains, meaning colder weather
was coming in. It is a story I want to write down,
but I can never write the frst word.
Now I stand in snow, the wool blanket around
me catching fakes on its fuzz. There is house
behind me, one I had built and we always
come back to. It’s small with a cobblestone
fre place and a creaking porch, it has only one
foor and two rooms, and the kitchen can’t ft a
table. It is hidden high up in these mountains,
in the highlands of Appalachia, where mining
and drilling for oil were lifelines, but now are
abandoned holes in the earth. This is what the
frst settlers once called the “frontier,” and you
and I called a “small wilderness.” You’re back
inside the house now, cooking something on the
gas stove. I think I can hear the whistle of the
tea pot, and you moving around swiftly, wasting
no time, no space; you were always good at
that sort of thing: doing, making, moving.
The sound of your movement is comfort. The
familiarity stretches out towards me like open
arms and I forget that I am cold. You are always
putting things away and I am always standing
somewhere, like now, looking up at a darkening
sky.
I close my eyes as if I can sleep out here and
suddenly we’re in a bar, hiding from a torrential
thunderstorm, in some small town, in some
obscure place we’ll later call one of our homes
M. Brogan
The Endless
One need not be a Chamber—to be Haunted— Emily Dickinson (poem 670)
18
and look back on fondly, where they call us
“honey” and the old boys play pool and laugh
at our dancing. We are in the heartland, where
food is the essential way of celebrating, of giving
thanks, a way of life. The bar is a place cast out
of one of those road-trip movies where several
young people decide to cut through the Midwest
on their way to New York City or Los Angeles.
They all wear tall boots here, wading boots or
cowboy boots or work boots and they keep
saying we are “out-of-towners,” but our towns
aren’t that far apart. This is where we came
from, these are our roots: old industrial towns
that have turned into strip malls and Chinese
take-out; where farming used to be a vocation
and now is a gambling game, where people
shake your hand like their name depends on it,
names that go back generations and carry certain
weight, names that are painted on mailboxes at
the heads of long, gravel, driveways.
You are whiskey and I am beer and we’re
dancing to an unfamiliar country song. The
bartender says, “That’s bluegrass, sweetheart.
Real Americana,” and without looking up, she
pours another shot for you. The fddle has a
sound of longing, the singer’s voice the sound of
angst. No one knows us here and I take comfort
in this, but you are good with strangers. They
tell tall tales. You listen and smile and politely
call them out on their bullshit as I play another
song on the juke box that means something. It’s
the song that was playing on a juke box, in a bar,
on that Army base before we shipped out to the
mountains, after we laughed about body bags
and called ourselves “too sensitive.”
But maybe I do feel too much or maybe I am
a coward. I confessed this to you one time at
four in the morning, because neither of us could
sleep. That night you were in a burning truck
and I could not get to you. It was a dream that
I started having over there. But, now I fear I’m
going to lose you. It is a never ending aching.
I have not told you this. I wanted to, the night
you cried in that hotel room, in that northern
city where everyone wore fannel. It was the
dead of winter there and we were on one of
our journeys, trying to reach some precipice
just to say we were somewhere else, just to be
somewhere else. You’d had too much to drink
when you said our times together were tragic
because “we never know which one is going to
be the last,” because we did something bad by
living, by not suffering enough over there. We
got off too easy. But I pleaded; I said you were
the best thing that ever happened to me as if
this meant we deserved some kind of peace.
You said we spent too much
time in shoe-boxes together,
that all those shacks we lived
in made us restless.
And oh, now I can feel
the restless interior of your
thoughts and how they hung
over us like broken shards of
glass as we sat in the hotel restaurant, waiting for
the taxi back to the airport, only mere hours left
before starting back to Afghanistan. We stared
out the glass windows onto the busy traffc, the
food we ate, becoming rocks in our stomachs
and I wanted to say it would be okay, but I didn’t
know the frst word. We had made a home
between one place and another, between each
other, something that moved us instead of held
us still. It felt like being caught in a wave, right
as it crashes over you, out of control and all the
while thrashing, trying to swim and breathe;
moving, moving, moving without any control
over yourself, yet somehow I managed to lift
the coffee cup to my lips, look over at you, and
notice the sadness in your eyes.
Earlier that day I told you I wanted to be alone
and walked for a while in the crowded, ancient
city, hands in my pockets. I knew where I was
going. I went back to that church, the medieval
one by the English language bookstore, the one
so tiny it’s really just a room and sat on a fimsy
bench in the damp air and watched a nun blow
out candles. I prayed that we would all come
home. And we did, so why does it hurt?
The bad feeling has bored a hole in me that
we have tried to fll with long conversations,
with jokes, with laughter, but like that time we
were lost hiking in a rainforest, as the night crept
up and we were encircled by trees, it rises to the
surface again, that feeling that something hides
and waits for us. It has become the apparition
Maybe I do
feel too much
or maybe I am
a coward.
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19
that stands at the foot of my bed, it has become
dread, it has become the moments with you
before we part and for that, I am sorry.
I hear you now though, as if we never spent
time away from each other, moving about and
singing to yourself, because you fnd it hard
to be still, a reassuring sound even when the
dark was so thick we tasted it, the fares casting
shadows on mountains, making monsters out
of nothing. My mind, my mind playing tricks on me.
You’re dreaming of that night now, when we
waited for a frefght that never came and I’m
telling myself I don’t need you to sleep. But here
you are, it’s raining, it’s raining harder than it ever
has and we’re outside that bar again, sleeping in
my car.
Our last conversations were the hardest. We
were beginning to feel older and all the running
had to stop. We both weren’t saying something,
what was it? What was it? It’s all in my head, so
my tongue won’t work. So now I’m always trying
to get back to you, back to you, back to you,
with words, with thoughts or by driving miles
to nowhere in the middle of the night, as if I’ll
come upon you on the side of the road.
You are far away or you are right here next to
me. We’re patrolling a village in an Afghan valley
where everyone stares. Now they’re trying to kill
us and they don’t even know our names. No,
we’re home and dancing in a bar, or I’m grabbing
your arm to steady myself on a cobbled, narrow
street, somewhere in Europe. No, we’re on the
side of the road laughing because we are totally
lost or we’re on a train cutting through valleys
and looming dark forests and there’s no heat,
but we’re drinking cold beer anyway. It doesn’t
really matter where we are, does it? We’ve made
a home of running. We’ve been hundreds of
places and we can’t quite grasp them, can we?
They are only an endless movement, an endless
angst at the end of your words.
I’m driving to see you now, it’s been months,
no years, and I’ve written hundreds of letters and
none of them I could send. But I keep buying
stamps. And I’d break glass, I’d break bone, I’d
break promises to get to you, but I can’t quite
get there to the burning truck. But that was just
a dream. It never happened, not even in those
war zones. We have crossed worlds, you and I,
and we got out just fne. I want to reassure you
of this, maybe myself, but I can’t.
Suddenly, I can no longer hear snowfakes
falling on pines, or feel the tips of my fngers,
so I stand up and turn around, but there is no
house. There is only forest. I try to light another
cigarette with my lighter, but the fuel must be
low. The sound of its scratching echoes through
the trees and suddenly I remember the time we
fell asleep holding hands. You are my home and
I can’t go back. What is this that crawls up inside
me and sits at the bottom of my stomach?
I lay down in the waves of snow now cresting
high around me. I am tired of being brave. I am
a coward. You would hate that I feel this alone.
But I enjoy the sound of silence, the way snow
rests on the limbs of trees like they’re telling old
tales, whispering. I close my eyes to try to hear
them, imagining they’re our memories. “You’re
the story-teller,” you always used to say. But I
don’t know how to tell this; I don’t know the
frst word.
I came back to fnd you even though I knew
you weren’t here. These limbs are heavy with
memory. I think I will lie down and dream,
dream, dream we are somewhere together,
facing the darkness that thinks it can consume
us. But our story is endless, isn’t it? Someone
will be telling it long after we are gone and none
of it will be how it really was, but that doesn’t
matter. It’s not about the wars anyway. It’s about
what comes after.
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A cottonwood
bends
at the waist
washing its hair
in the suds
of this fast
moving current
while upstream
the water takes
its own
slow time
flling holes,
making safe havens
for long-sleeping bass.
And at the head,
like a promissory
note that never pays
off, abandoned
felds, even their
couch weeds
all gone to seed.
Richard Luftig
Four Mile Creek (Kansas)
21
When I was a boy, a chicken wandered here. And I brutalized her.
The cord from mother’s secondhand curling iron made an easy noose. I was ready.
I preyed on her, pausing when her beady eyes ignited, creeping when she futtered her molting
wings.
She would be my frst.
I pulled her in and felt her delicate bones twist until our eyes popped in unison.
I cradled her, gently repositioning her, so I could pick out the parasites underneath her wings.
Dirty things. Things that begin small and gorge and multiply and leave things like her limp in ecstasy.
Andrew Davis
First
22
Plenty for Birds
Sarah Ann Winn
23
sea glass and fre seep
into morning’s husk;
dreamglow burns
in wide echo, numinous
to the touch—
the oceans are spilling
slightly,
moving the land, here
where our house is built—
and who
will apologize?
not the heavens.
not the oceans.
not us.
post-impression
Sherryl Anders
24
i’ve known ray
for a while now
mostly from
bars
he always has on
these indiana jones
looking hats and
dances badly
with the pretty
girls
he’s good for a drink
or 2 and maybe
even some shots
if it’s payday
the problem with ray
like most everyone
is he likes to talk
a lot
ray talks mostly
about art
last time i saw him
he wanted to
know what my
muse was
since i’ve never thought
about that i couldn’t
answer
“c’mon jimmy what
inspires you?”
a little less
Demond Blake
i shrug
“what makes you write
compels you?”
i had no answers to
any of this
“how can you write
w/o inspiration?”
i didn’t know that
either
probably explains why
i hadn’t been writing
anything lately
“you gotta fnd your
muse man
that’s how to get the
words fowin’!”
i nodded while sipping
my drink hoping
ray’d buy me
another
then as we’re waiting
in line a girl
came up to me
who knew my
name and said
we’d met at a
party a couple
of weeks ago
she didn’t look
familiar to me
at all so i gave
her a blank
stare and she
glared at me
as she walked
off
“shit jimmy hot girls
always seem to know
you but you hardly
ever remember them!”
it was true but i
didn’t care
i told ray that
he should go after
her maybe
show off
the hat, those
dance moves
he agreed and left me
money for the
drinks
“that’s my muse!” ray
yelled
pointing in the direction
of the girl
alone then i waited
in line knowing
a little less
about everything
25
You stayed while we were gone,
taking milk from the refrigerator,
parting your dark hair with my comb.
On a Sunday evening in November
in nineteen sixty-six, you made our kitchen
table and the bathroom sink your own.
And when your hair was parted and the milk
was gone, you took the quarters from the coffee cup
and packed our wedding gifts and winter clothing.
You left the front door always open
and each lamp light on.
The Thief
Bob Meszaros
26
George Michelsen Foy
In the sunken cave everything is gridded with
day-glo string. This is necessary: Tunnels and
fssures branch off into the karst and red clay,
and most are unexplored. To lose her way would
be unthinkable. She has eighty minutes of air at
the beginning of her dive. Swimming like this, 20
meters under the halocline and 100, sometimes
150 meters into side caves that are black
without their lights, the threat of suffocation
doesn’t scare her. It feels familiar. The grid
Jenny works is mostly bones. Two weeks ago,
on 31-G, Miguel found a mask of Chaac whose
features resemble Ned’s. I kept love at bay for a
thousand years, the mask tells her, I’ll do it for
another thousand. The hotel their team lives in
occupies one side of a square between jungle
and beach. Indians sell replicas of what Miguel
is fnding in the cenote and sometimes, fake as
they are, she buys one. Women avert their eyes.
“They think you’re a witch,” he said, “with your
hair, and how you fdget.” Ned didn’t come this
time, he had the grace to spare her that. What
did come to San Luis this year are the cartels.
Black SUVs trawl the zócalo. The men inside
wear sunglasses, even at night. Half her team is
bodyguards—everyone, in fact, except Alethea,
Miguel, Jenny, and a sonar techie from Cancun.
To be a bodyguard here means you have made
a deal with the Zetas. At night she sits in the
square with Alethea, with Miguel sometimes,
always with a guard. As a matter of routine she
brings the shoulder-bag holding passport and
notebooks and the plastic case that protects
her regulator. After a few beers she takes the
mechanism from its case and turns it over and
over in her fngers, feeling its solidity, the youth
and brightness of its springs. Land crabs snicker
in the dark. Men scrape guitars and sing songs
about what men sing about. She writes nothing
in her notebooks. The bones she fnds, tags, and
brings to the surface, are those of girls. This
does not bother her. What bothers her is that
it doesn’t bother her. Sometimes Alethea comes
to her bed, sometimes Miguel: theirs is an open
team, a college of loose liaisons. She recalls the
umami taste of Alethea between her legs. Of
Miguel she remembers nothing. Of Ned she
remembers words: Your indifference will kill
you. To which, of course, she shrugged. Often
she dreams of the cenote. In her dreams she can
breathe underwater without mask or regulator.
It is like breathing night. And the girls come to
her, these girls whose hearts were cut still beating
from their breasts, they come to comfort Jenny.
Cave-diving
27
When this afternoon has long been forgotten,
the spin-drift of silence will hang lightly,
fullness of the last chord before refrain.
As your brush stains and foods
do your thoughts drop,
spiccato,
or fold over like heavy sheets:
the last forgotten under the weight of blankness
as a fresh page is scratched with line.

The stroke of your brush,
the dip of the oar,
a word repeated,
growing meaning.

A stillness,
echoing off the docks and canoe,

a wall of sound between fallen branches
as we glide toward the marsh.

When the heron faps away we let go our breath,
not knowing it was held.
Lac Bernard
Claire Farley
28
Tell me
the honey
hasn’t
tell her
with your fooded
tongue
what everyone wants: adulterated

spit through
cavities tell
him sweet runs
mellifuous
like masturbatory
dreams
like rubber
dolls sticky
bent
at the waist
not
at the knee
tell him it’s a
fantasy
propped at right
angles
trussed
against
walls
tell me there’s a delay
between the thud and the pain
our sugar-
stiffened
legs
still
nauseous
and
running
Love in the Age of Choler
Jeanine Deibel
29
the cusp
of your skull drug by
my compass
bisected part
in your hair
swept behind

protracted shoulders
graphite-laced waist
I tighten erase
by daybreak
have you all over
the page riven
folded on center
raked with ink I’ve smeared myself
into a corner
exhuming iliac crests
proportioned
pelvis
falls foul as fast as it dries
Drafting to Redeem Myself
Jeanine Deibel
30
Didn’t Make the Winter
Laura Jean Schneider
31
When the love of your life is diagnosed with
cancer in his twenties, remember to live every
day the best you can, because it’s all you’re going
to be able to do. When they tell you it’s benign,
but it will kill him because it’s in his brain,
remember, dear God, it’s his brain. When the
oncologist says terminal, believe him, don’t try
to pretend everything is going to be okay. On the
other hand, pretend every day that everything is
going to be okay, because there is no other way
to make it. Be grateful you married young. Get
used to hearing, “I’m so sorry” from strangers
over and over again. Unintentionally, make your
post-op code for, “everything is going to be
okay” his speaking your full name. Laugh that
frst time, in the darkness and blinking lights of
recovery, without realizing you’ll need to use it
again. Decide to try for a baby, even when you
know everyone will think you’re crazy. Have a
beautiful little girl between winter blizzards.
Fall in love with her smile before everything
falls apart again. Match milestone to milestone:
crawling to radiation, running to brain surgery
#2, talking to chemo, whole sentences to that
fancy proton beam radiation down in Boston.
Realize there will come a day, sooner than you
can imagine, when her skills will surpass his.
Talk about having another baby when things
are going reasonably well, but wait until it’s too
late and hate a chunk of yourself for the rest of
your life because you didn’t fght harder. Know
that part of it was kindness. Realize this must
be a little bit what a broken heart is like. Make
it through the brain swelling and loss of speech,
the seizures and the caved-in face where the
muscle has atrophied over the titanium plates.
Keep telling him it’s okay even when he can’t
talk and can’t remember your wedding day.
Avoid sappy country songs. Pray, even though
you don’t believe in God, that you won’t be
widowed by the time you’re thirty. Pray that your
daughter will be old enough to remember that
there were good days. Pray that, when it happens,
it happens quickly. Keep telling yourself that
it’s going to be okay. Hold his hand. Trim his
fngernails. Touch his scar every time you cut
his hair. Sometimes cry, sometimes hard. Stack
wood for peace. Try actual meditation and fail
miserably. Cringe when it takes fve tries to get
an IV in because of all the scar tissue, and try to
laugh when he writes you a note about flling the
butter dish and it is complete gibberish. Keep
thinking that maybe things will turn around.
Keep thinking that you’re due for a break, like
everyone keeps saying. Know it is never going
to happen. Remember what a victory it is when
he manages to say, “love you too.” Know that
despite everything you keep telling yourself,
someday that day won’t come. All those hard
days will have been the best days, and you didn’t
even know.
Sarah Kilch Gaffney
The Best Days
32
Zachary counted the change that he found
under the passenger seat of his navy colored
Volvo station wagon. The coins were sticky,
having lost their shine long ago: two quarters,
two dimes, a nickel, and three pennies
“Another seventy-eight cents!” he yelled over
the whir of the vacuum. “We’re up to two-
fourteen!”
He added the coins to the others in the back
pocket of his jeans.
Debbie continued to dig the circular nozzle
into the crevice of the driver’s seat. Her curly
brown hair fell across her face as she worked.
She had bought him the Shop-Vac, upgraded
horsepower and all, last June. She yelled back to
her husband over its whir. “How is it that you
can get french fries stuck under a seat you’re
sitting in? There’s no way this would happen
if you ate one at a time!” Zachary continued
to dig under the passenger’s seat. “I mean isn’t
this physically impossible? Wouldn’t you have to
place them there or something? The vacuum
can’t even suck ‘em up!” his wife yelled to the
cracked leather of the seat. She kept her head
down, struggling to suck up the last french fry
with the nozzle instead of scooping it up with
her fngers, as if that thought had never crossed
her mind.
“Another dime!” Zachary chirped.
“And since when are you eating french fries in
the car anyway? Shouldn’t I know about this?
What about your cholesterol?” Zachary fipped
over the small mat behind the passenger’s seat,
revealing two more pennies.
“Two forty-one. Enough for a venti from
The Bucks!”
Debbie shifted to the foor, digging the
vacuum hose into the once beige carpet under
steering wheel. She struggled to capture the
tiny pebbles that seemed to jump each time
she moved the nozzle. Sometimes, the vacuum
stuck to the carpet, like it was trying to consume
too much, the whir growing louder.
“And I know the driveway gets muddy when it
rains, but it hasn’t rained in weeks. Where does
all of this dirt come
from? Don’t you
ever knock off your
feet before getting
in?”
“Deb, this is a
buffalo nickel! Do
you think it’s worth
more?”
Debbie leaned
down, working the
nozzle under the pedals, the hose of the vacuum
stretching straight. A small patch of skin on of
her lower back became exposed, along with
the top of her worn, cotton underwear, which
rode up past her jeans. Two wheels under the
vacuum’s base lifted off the ground. It seemed
Brian McVety
The Undercarriage
Sometimes, the vacuum
stuck to the carpet, like
it was trying to consume
too much, the whir
growing louder.
33
as if the whole thing would topple over at any
moment.
“When was the last time we cleaned this
anyway?” she asked the steering wheel. Zachary
continued to hunt for change on the foor. He
found another quarter lodged behind the safety
belt bolt and wiped off the flth that clung to
the coins on his pant leg, before adding it to the
collection in his pocket.
“Almost at three dollars!” he yelled over the
whir.
He moved back to behind the driver’s seat to
see if there was any he had missed. To balance
himself, he put his hand on the middle of the
backseat, his fngers fnding the spots where
the leather was still indented, like carpet when
furniture is moved for the frst time in a long
time. He couldn’t entirely see under the seat,
so he reached under blindly, feeling the grit and
grunge of the seat’s undercarriage.
Debbie inspected under the pedals before
turning back towards the driver’s seat one last
time. She stuck the hose under the seat, just to
make sure nothing was missed.
The nozzle found it the same time Zachary’s
hand did. The vacuum roared, as if deprived
of air.
“Deb, hold on!”
“Zach, what’s stuck?”
The rubbery texture was unmistakable.
Zachary pushed it in with his thumb, recognizing
the undeniable pliability of a pacifer, his fngers
sticky with grime. He didn’t have to look to know
that the hard plastic was bright blue with yellow
stars. The vacuum did everything in its power to
suck it down. Zachary pried the pacifer loose,
but did not wipe it off, didn’t even look at it. He
shoved it in with the change in his pocket. The
sound of the vacuum suddenly ceased.
“What was it stuck on?” Debbie asked her
husband, as she started to rap the hose around
the base of the circular vacuum.
“Nothing, don’t worry about it,” he said
choking back a sob, “must have been part of the
undercarriage.”
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34
I’ve tried to fnd something
important and let it bleed
from the naked tip of my #2
Ticonderoga onto a sunny
landscape of blank pages.
My success has been limited.
So far, all I’ve come up with
is something about butterfies.
What was it you said to me?
With your forehead pressed
against the window, drawing heart
shapes in the fog, mouth agape,
forcing your breath out as your
steamy canvas dissipated,
you asked “What is winter for?”
I shrugged and laughed.
Flakes of frost shaped like
cathedral spires melted
on the pink inchworm of your
fnger as you touched the tip
of my nose. The fog evaporated
from the pane of glass and I
am tracing the smeared curves
left behind. These memories
are a bit of hard apple wrapped
in thorns that I keep trying to
swallow. At least it was quick,
not at all like cancer, but like a car
wreck—
all split glass and twisted metal,
leaving no survivors.
Airbag
Jonathan Treece
35
my mother is on the side of the highway.
A black river fows through the delta of her body;
her outstretched hands, wounded feet,
and her dull eyes, apologetic
in a face sinking with gravity.
I call out once from the backseat,
but the car won’t stop.
Stretched as thin as a rabbit
feeing the hawks and foxes
of memory, I hide in dusky
forgetfulness near the bottom
of brown bottles.
I spend hours searching
for words I can live with,
doing my crossword puzzle in ink
on a dream’s dogeared pages.
At my window, crows are focking,
waiting to clean the bones for me
as I make angel wings in her ashes
at 3 a.m.
Jonathan Treece
In A Dream Of Slow Moving
Traffic
36
I’ve sewn a running stitch back and forth
reinforced with years, made a sleeve of back ways.
Your promise of speed, you give
with one hand and take back with the other
ticket cameras, barriers propped
up stopping jumpers, preventing the view.
I used to be able to see the Susquehanna,
before the bridge sides hunched, cement shrug.
I used to count barrels left til I reached Delaware,
the orange breadcrumb trail led me north.
I matched the song of my speed
to the passing of dotted lines,
I’m pretty sure they’re painted in 4/4.
I’d rip along your seam
eat you like gingerbread,
you snow-dusted treat, you irregular bolt of grey.
I’d see the sign for the Havre de Grace decoy
museum,
which might just be a stand-in for the actual
museum
or a museum full of art intended to deceive.
I don’t stop, just in case.
My 95
Sarah Ann Winn
37
Garden Greenery
Sara Ann Winn
38
I think of you on some deserted Midwest highway
that hasn’t learned your temper yet.
With a shoebox full of ties,
you chase the winter.
Hold it close.
Windows down.
Celebrate callous like a trophy.
Laugh at those seeking warmth.
You are not listening to the CDs I made you.
The letter I wrote sits unread in my dumpster
among eggs shells and other things that easily break.
I’m still picking up the pieces, sorting through all the things others didn’t want.
I thought I deserved a goodbye.
You thought I should swallow your silence, chew on all the things you never told me.
Grant me park-bench pity as the miles between us grow.
Your apologies held like rotting Velcro, every lie starting to rip.
I sit in traffc on Lincoln, return library books on your old street.
You never held my hand. Even before, too busy chasing that winter.
The joke always falls upon those with faith.
Learn to give up before the punch line
beats
you
down.
I turn on the heater with questions I thought kept me warm.
I feel pain deeper than wells without echoes,
but hug my words tight, knowing
never again will the cold sleep in my bed.
Road Trip
Kelly Grace Thomas
39
And when the cock crowed,
My eyes opened;
It was cold and dark,
And the ravens croaked from the rooftops.
Wilhelm Muller
lyrics to Die Winterreise
I’ve been coughing ever since
I came to Berlin, where
the smell of burning sausage
is on every corner and cigarette
smoke blurs crowds outside bars.
Standing, eating currywurst,
thick red sauce drips on my shoe.
U-Bahn cars screech above pollarded trees reaching
for a dimming sky, where afternoon grows colder
until night pulls a tight
grey stocking over layers: gilded palaces
cathedrals
museums;
an old world panoply of insouciant
parlors, vacant cellars,
stairs hiss
hallways bend under whispers.
A wrinkled world spews
a scribbled palimpsest onto emptying streets
where a green light blinks, Apotheke
& a honeyed tenor voice drips Schubert’s Die Winterreise
from an iPod player on a counter beside a clerk.
She glints eyes brown as
copper pfennigs above smudged
mascara wings. Her face is snowy
with powder dusting lines as secret as a labyrinth & she hands me a bottle that reeks
of ivy leaf & pine mold with a label that I can’t read
& all through that cold long Berlin night, I’m coughing,
sipping syrup from a tiny
stolen spoon.
Winter Begins in Berlin
Aileen Bassis
40
Watching You
Wes Adamson
41
That was the year of the riots. None of the
expats in Ethiopia will forget that year. Unless
it’s Antoine. I wonder.
I had met Antoine only a few weeks before.
It was one of those idle days when I could walk
all the way down the hill to Arat Kilo. Arat Kilo
is the name of a district in Addis Ababa. It’s a
piece of the old city, the imperial city, bestowed
with mid-century ministry buildings, Parliament,
and expansion campuses for the university. It
hosted the city’s Orthodox cathedral and the
offces of the Patriarch. But my Arat Kilo was a
district of tiny cafes lining dirty streets.
There was one on the road toward Piassa,
one that had internet. The storefront room
had space for the proprietors to hang two small
decks above the cafe foor, making the place feel
like a ffteenth-century caravel. Two opposing
staircases led an unsteady way up. On each
decks were two rows of three computers, facing
the wall and facing the plate glass windows. The
machines were slow as you could imagine. Each
email could take fve minutes. I had logged out,
and was waiting for the attendant when Antoine
came in.
He was a lanky white guy with dreads nearly
to his belt. He had a goofy smile. He sat at the
station behind me, swung around in the ancient
swivel chair, reeled and had to reach for the
ground. We laughed. “That’s a long way down,”
he cracked in an accent immediately recognizable
as French.
He had to wait for the attendant to begin,
and we chatted. “How long have you been in
Ethiopia?”
“A long time,” he replied.Who could you be
writing to?” he asked me cheerfully. “You are
more far away.” If the words tumbled awkwardly,
his accent was musical. “Nobody writes to me
anymore.”
“So why did you come to an internet place?”
He shrugged, and said something about hope
always pouncing. He had his own set of adages.
Being a rather round-eyed Rastafarian, he often
reached for Biblical references, and mangled
them in some charming way.
He explained himself once, rather cryptically,
with a quote: “And now after the king has
satisfed the every desire of the Queen of
Sheba, she has returned to the land of Cush.”
He spread his arms and added, “Here I am.”
We met up again, this time at the Romina Cafe
in old Arat Kilo, and we told our stories. His was
simple. He had left Paris, predicting plague, and
he had come to Ethiopia. Here he had stayed.
By the time we met, it had been four years. He
had never bothered to renew his visa, so he was
illegally in the country, and doubtlessly owing
thousands in fnes. He was effectively trapped.
Antoine didn’t care. He sat on hillsides and
smoked weed. Sometimes he traveled. He said he
had children in a few cities around the country.
Dana Roskey
Throwing Stones
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This he presented with some pride. Procreation
was a religious duty.
I visited his latest domicile, a place he rented
for about USD 25 per month. It was beyond
Kidane Meheret, the church that stood at the
end of her curving asphalt road, on a wooded
hill. The hut was in the valley nestled behind
the church and underneath Mount Entoto. It
was a one-room mud house, loosely part of a
compound owned by a family of weavers. The
man of the house, standing in a dark doorway in
the larger house beside the mud path, standing
in jeans dyed white in the seat in a sad mimicry
of style, eyed us with a malicious glare. I waved,
and he slowly nodded, leaned another inch into
the doorway.
The bathroom was a shared pit inside
collapsing walls of thin branches loosely tied
together. It reeked of its years of use. I couldn’t
help but retch while trying to pee, standing
carefully among the greasy deposits on either
side of the hole.
I invited Antoine to crash at my place for a
few days. He had announced he would start
making his way south to the Bale Mountains by
the weekend. I was living nearby, in Shiro Meda,
renting two square rooms made of concrete,
located in the back of a middle class family’s
walled compound, rooms originally designed to
be servants’ quarters.
I had been escaping my escape, taking half
a year’s break from teaching in Rome. I made
rude jokes about trading the American colony
for Mussolini’s. Maybe the ruins I would see in
Addis Ababa would be legitimately Italian, and
not the movie sets crafted by a hundred rich
restoration frms. That was all bravado. I was
just hoping for something simple.
It wasn’t simple. The streets were intense with
activity, dense with crowds and chaos. Every
surface was rough: battered corrugated iron,
roads made of rocks and mud, or roads made of
asphalt pitted and cracked, nothing fat, nothing
even. Daily life was a stuttering dance, electricity
and water cutting out, food in the restaurants
appearing and vanishing, people showing up late
and laughing at nothing at all.
A friend had launched a little school a few
years ago in the poor neighborhoods below the
U.S. Embassy. I volunteered to lead occasional
lessons in English language. This school was
a work in progress, as it turns out, only the
earliest grades to start, but designed to grow a
new grade every year, like
a Hydra sprouting heads.
My lessons were shouting
liturgies of alphabet and
sight words, spiced with
laughter and with songs led
by the teachers. The children
were amazingly disciplined and modest. They
were amazingly poor, some wilting with hunger,
like tender shoots left too long in the sun.
Antoine slept on the foor of the second
room, and he prepared for his journey by sorting
his effects repeatedly and packing his shapeless
rucksack.
Events overtook us. The elections in May had
been hotly contested. Against the party in power
were ranged a handful of others, but none as
popular as the one that seemed to have been
exported from the U.S., the one gestated among
the Diaspora. The leadership were largely
intellectuals living abroad, humanists delivering
a platform of common sense. It was patently
obvious what would happen.
Things never quite settled down after the
disputed election. There had been riots at the
time. Some people were shot, some were jailed.
Suddenly, in late autumn, it all sparked up again.
The catalyst was something to do with the
announcement of election results, delayed and
delayed again for fear of protest. The cab drivers
of the city had lined up behind the opposition.
On this day, they had agreed to sound their
horns all morning in support of the CUD party.
An innocent enough appeal to the people, but
somehow it ended in bloody clashes with the
police.
Antoine and I knew nothing about this. We
were at my friend’s school. I had been bringing
Antoine to school, thinking that with his
goofy ways he would be great with children.
I was mistaken. He stood aside with grim
detachment. I had assigned him to teaching
the kindergarteners some French numbers and
Suddenly, in late
autumn, it all
sparked up again.
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phrases. He did so with a gruff voice, standing
at the head of the class and bending forward at
the waist in an oddly formal, solicitous way. The
teacher was a slight young Ethiopian, very lively.
She translated Antoine’s Spartan lessons with
much theater, and the children managed to have
some fun and some laughs anyway.
Suddenly, the parents had returned to the
school, and they were gathering their kids and
taking off in a hurry. The kids had only been
there an hour or so. The teacher started getting
calls, and started getting scared. The school
guard, a dark-skinned local youth, built like
a bullet, advised us to stay at the school for a
while. Antoine didn’t like taking orders, and he
tried to convince me to leave, but just about
then we heard the frst shots.
The violence began that morning in the
Mercato, in the west side of the city, and in the
northern precincts. Shiro Meda was one of the
latter. The school was located on a side road,
several hundred meters off the larger, dirt road
that led steeply down the hill, down from the
asphalt road by the embassy.
We were hearing guns, and the sound of people
wailing and howling and whistling. Antoine and
I step out of the school grounds. Standing in
front of the school, we were relatively safe. From
there, we were able to witness several waves of
confrontation on the dirt road.
As we watched, several boys run up the hill,
throwing stones. As they run back down, they
were followed by federal police with guns. We
watched as they stopped to shoot. Then they
pursued. They were accompanied by the hooting
and whistling of women in their houses. It was
the very sound of shame.
Antoine and I just stood there stunned. It was
the frst time I had seen men shoot at men. I was
powerless to form a thought. Antoine’s face was
a study of concentration. But he said nothing.
If someone had been hit, would we have
heard? Were the police aiming over the kids’
heads to frighten them? Even so, releasing live
ammo among our hills, our hills full of people!
The truth is we would never have heard about
it if someone were shot. Bullets were fred,
and the hills absorbed them. It’s as if time, the
ultimate arbiter in Ethiopia, took them, like fog
swallowing light.
We retreated into the school. The guard and
the teacher took care of us. No one left the
school that day, once the children had all been
retrieved. The staff all lived too far away, and
they would not let us leave. All day we heard
the sounds of strife, and at night we camped
out in the classrooms. The guard and a visiting
friend teased the teacher, as she bustled around
a propane stove warming bits of food for us,
preparing tea. We gathered around the guard’s
portable radio, and it felt like we were dissidents
in old Eastern Europe.
By morning, things had settled down
suffciently for us to return home. We had to
walk; all taxi services had stopped. Shops and
businesses, and our little school, were all closed
down. This would carry on for a week. I spent
my idle days walking all the way down the hill to
old Arat Kilo, where a few canny shopkeepers
broke ranks. Otherwise, I would not have eaten.
I walked slowly back up the hill to my house in
Shiro Meda, amid the stream of hardy citizens
lining each side of the road, chatting and
laughing, as though, in the end , this will have
been little more than a holiday.
I lay in bed at night, staring blankly into the
darkness. I might have been excused if I had
longed for “civilization,” if I had wished for
Roman cobblestone at sundown. But I didn’t.
I was mourning, but I wasn’t scared. And I
couldn’t despise the place for its turmoil.
The spontaneous strike was eventually
broken. The government declared that business
licenses would start being pulled. Magically, taxi
pulled out from their alleyways one day, and all
was back to its shout and growl. It was like a
Hollywood stunt: city comes to life.
By then, Antoine was gone. I never saw him
after we left the school. We walked up the dirt
road together, and his jaw was set. He never
uttered a word about what had happened. We
bid each other be safe, and that was it. He
walked away, kicking dust down the margin of
the embassy road.
I wondered about him after that. I pictured
him lying back on the grassy slopes of the chilly
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mountains down south, meditating on what
had happened. I was pretty sure nothing he
saw would make him reconsider Ethiopia. And
nothing would challenge his stern and strangely
permissive Old Testament visions. If anything,
he would shake his head when thought of
Addis Ababa. And of me. He would tell his
grandchildren that he had prophesied the events
of that year.
“Vanity is vanity,” he would say, quoting
Ecclesiastes, “and nothing under the sun will
have its season.”
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In the small town called Kitengela,
there is a long road with busted white buses,
men hanging from the doors,
money gliding in the sky.
Here, people are ashen and sit silently, unsmiling.
The sun blazes overhead and the coming
of the rain can be timed to the hour,
sometimes the minute.
Women stroll the streets
in long skirts, hair braided each day.
The children collect the rain to fush toilets.

These people die from disease, starvation,
abandonment or the white bus smashing
their faces. The mothers step on them.
One future gone, and less to pay.
Then a cloud comes along,
turning their colorless faces.
It brings the rain that everyone
is praying for.
Each day they fall in love with it.
When it leaves, the sun comes.
Kitengela
Melissa Burton
46
Cynthia Ring
I Prefer My Flag
I prefer my fag
be swallowed up in scarlet stripes
symbolic of your frst time—
when you hang the soiled bed sheet
from the hotel balcony,
the fag-stars sync up perfectly with Andromeda.
47
I was fshing on the beach down by the
house on a Monday. Monday’s my day off.
It’s a crowded beach, and there was a family.
Big family. Lot of kids. Black family. The
kids are all runnin’ around. They’re gettin’
knocked down in the surf. The waves are
pulling off their shorts. They’re wearing shorts,
not swimming trunks. They’re dark-skinned,
hell, for all I know maybe they weren’t black.
Maybe they were Mexican or something.
They’re runnin’ around. I’m lettin’ them get in
my tackle box. Play with the shrimp. Dangle
my handmade lures in each others’ face and
scream and run away. They’re nice kids. I don’t
tell them, but out on the bar I see this fsh. I
can’t tell what it is at frst. I’m talking to the
little dark kids playing in my tackle box. I’m
looking at this fsh. And it’s a shark, I see. A
bonnethead shark. A decent-sized one, but the
kids, they’re not in the water. They’re just on
the beach. Maybe they can’t swim. I think a lot
of blacks can’t swim. The shark, though, it’s
not moving. And I’m watching it. It’s just laying
out there on the bar, and I’m thinking, What’s it
doing? What’s that shark doing just laying there on the
bar?
They tell you sharks can’t stop swimming
or they’ll die, but that’s not necessarily true.
They can slow down. They can tread water.
They can do a kind of moving that’s not really
moving. “I’m going out to the bar,” I say to
the little black kids, and they get real quiet.
They don’t say anything. They line up on the
shore and watch me like I’m getting on a
spaceship and heading to Mars. I stop in the
drop-off there, the water up to my neck, and
look back. The kids are a dark line against the
white sand of the beach. Lined up tall to short
and completely silent. I start to think, These
kids know something I don’t. I start to think, These
kids have set me up. I start to think, These kids are
waiting for blood. I wave at them, and not a one
of them waves back.
The shark, it’s still there. I get up close to it
and it doesn’t move, and fnally I realize, the
damn thing is dead. Dead and covered with
tiny little marks, all in perfect lines along its
body. I’m trying to fgure out what happened to
this shark. “What the hell?’ I say to myself, and
then I realize. Dolphins. The lines are dolphin
teeth. They drove it into the shallow and killed
it, because sharks and dolphins are natural
enemies. Give dolphins a chance to kill a shark
and they’ll take it.
I could reach down with my hands and grab
the shark. The holes where the dolphins got it
are a bleached-out pink. I think about dragging
it back to shore to show the kids.
Shark teeth are sharp, though, so I give it a
poke with my toe. It rolls over in the waves and
little fsh scatter every direction. I see its belly
is all eaten up, a gaping, reddish hole with bite-
shaped edges. Little pieces of fesh ripple in the
water and foat around. You’re standing in shark
fesh, I think to myself. I’ve seen a lot of stuff,
but I take a step back, away from the dead
shark and the bits.
I turn towards shore and all the kids are still
there, lined up on the beach. The waves almost
reach their toes and then stop. They’re waiting
for me to come back in.
Robyn Ryle
Natural Enemy
48
Thinking of nothing, I remember my
father’s name, how he spoke it once
in the desert where we camped, nearly blind
with heat and white sand. All around our tent,
syllables echoed and wind swirled our fre
to new life. His hands, dark with shadow, drew
patterns in the air, alphabet of sighs.
I held my breath in a shower of sparks.
His green eyes shifted and spoke. Already
I could see he would leave, his direction
clear, strong legs carrying him away toward
the valley of caves. All night, bats streamed
overhead, and in the darkness waters
tumbled and roared like some forgotten sea.
Steve Klepetar
Thinking of Nothing
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I only knew an angle of my father. An acute angle. A tiny slice that changed from where you stood.
I sometimes caught him in the corner of my eye and thought, that’s him. Getting out of his truck,
dirty from work, pine resin on his arm hair, black oil across his face. Or in the Chrysler with the kids
singing.
Never was.
I tried to look in the wrong direction, hoping he had left something of himself.
Just a trace, so had I been a sniffer-dog I could have tracked him.
But he was light-footed, shadowless.

He came home every day but was never there, came home every day with his one trick of
disappearing into light.
Roland Leach
Angle
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Escape
Thomas Gillaspy
51
When I was eight my father told me
Mikey our pet turtle ran away from
home. I dusted the aquarium for
fngerprints. Made reward posters
out of construction paper and outlined
Mikey’s smile with jungle green crayon.
I interviewed all three of my sisters
and checked under each of their beds.
A week later I found Mikey in the
backyard. His body was a murder
scene on fresh cut grass. An explosion
of pink and purple organs from an
unknown violence. A shell
split into tiny fruit bowls soaked
in fresh blood. Flies paraded
on a face I could no longer identify.
I buried my frst body under the
lemon tree with a beach shovel.
I hosed down the rest of the carcass and
watched a piece of intestine slide down
a single blade of grass. Dad came outside
with whiskey on his breath. He smiled
and said what kind of an animal runs away
from a home that gives you everything?
Mikey Comes Home
Karla Cordero
52
Noorulain Noor
“Sever my name from yours, then,” you said,
your voice thick like lassi sloshing against steel,
your hands in usual repose but for the fountain
pen clasped between thumb and index fnger,
whipping through air, measured, sinusoidal.

God knows what coalesced inside me—
perhaps the malleable pride I inherited
from you that we have both, at times,
limbered or coaxed or obliged
to become armor as well as weapon.

But I remember your eyes, the same waxy brown
of ploughed soil as mine, our only threat
of betrayal, our only leverage on each other —
they never could lose the warmth of golden
harvest felds we had walked across

together in those old days, our footfalls
leaving impressions in the cane patch,
yours always deeper than mine,
and mine missing for furlongs at a stretch
when I took care to tread on the furrows you made.

I wonder if a tired farmhand going home
for supper saw our winding trail and thought
that the child vanished among the crops
while the father meandered forth towards
the dipping sun, the hobnobbing village.
Father
53
I can feel my father in my womb.
How I have starved for his limbs, his hands, his voice to be reborn in me.
Now I know the taste of fatherhood.
At frst, he was but a shadow below the waters of my womb; and then, piecemeal, he began to surface,
the bits of him bobbing up in the stream of my senses.
It is as if his life has lain latent in my body, holding some elemental meaning for me.
Last night he came to me, in the likeness of a snapshot of him standing by his own father.
It’s strange to see the two posed together at such a late date.
Some submerged tension fows between them, splits them apart.
The building in the background is probably the hospital, where his parents have come to visit.
My grandfather looks a bearish man, with the same hesitant smile I can picture him wearing when he
frst came to this country.
My father is also stocky; but that is from the medication he was taking.
And despite his groggy grin, I can tell he’s self-conscious and uncomfortable, like someone naked.
My father was colossal in my dream.
He had something pressing to tell.
And though I can’t recall the words, I am left with a gut feeling, the current of his voice pulsing
through me.
I can see myself in him, as if his photo were a double-exposure.
Standing on the steps of that brick building belongs to my own set of memories, so fully have I
absorbed my father’s form.
There is such sense in his image that a separate past seems to have been mapped out for me.
Matthew Kirshman
Fatherhood
54
Half-remembered odors and faces race by, potent shadows like tadpoles that tingle my inner body.
Maybe it is the graininess of this photo that accounts for the indistinction of ourselves.
Yet other snapshots also spark in me the seeds of his distant lifetime.
In one snapshot—of myself as an infant cradled in his arms—something seems reversed.
A whole body of fatherly feelings flls me.
I am that man, planting feathery kisses on this new creature’s cheek.
I can hear my own voice cooing into the infant’s ear, the milk of fatherhood pouring from me.
Once, napping with my father, I was nestled next to him, taking in the smell of his scalp.
He had dandruff, and I stared at those fakes and thought they were snow.
Now, lying here, I can feel a child under my own wing.
For my arms have a will of their own, striving after the confgurations of my father’s arms.
It is a gift, this pronounced impression of the past.
The twice-born air of my father’s body intoxicates me.
From another photo—of my father crouched by a toddler piling toy blocks in a pyramid—I eye myself.
The man’s glance at the camera strikes me as my own sudden image in a minor; my soul’s echo.
I know him from the inside out; the same vein of feeling fows through both of us.
And the air of his arms, the way they fall from his body, sends a secret futter through me.
I adore my father with a religious-like ardor.
As a child, I hadn’t any inkling of his illness, but a whispered conception of a wellspring within him.
Though now and then I can catch cadences of the inner voices that charged him to put a pistol to his head.
The sense of his suicide crops up like a memory.
I can place myself there, in the middle of that nightmarish scene, anticipating the bullet’s warm burst in my brain.
Shades of my own voice reproduce his inner workings.
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Deep down in me is the same germ, a dark ecstasy stirring in the womb men aren’t supposed to have.
No doubt my father was perplexed by his sexual organs.
He could not become accustomed to them, and tried to disguise their promptings.
The misft would stay awake at night, listening to the worming thing within, wary over whether his body had
betrayed him.
How bottled up he must have felt with no one in whom to confde.
For in the eyes of others the external condition of fatherhood can look repulsive.
Though I suspect he was privately proud.
I for one am glowing, grown egg-like with the dream of fatherhood, its symptoms now full-blown.
All my thoughts revolve around him.
I wish there were a window in my womb to show off the handsome man foating there.
Strangers on the street would stop and peek and become mesmerized by the blue pools of my father’s eyes, by his
athletic limbs, by his faraway smile.
Such a sight would offset my own ungainliness.
He drifts in a kind of limbo now: I can hear him talking in the trance-like trills of a nursery rhyme.
Though days he’s wide awake, we’re as twins attuned to a private language full of double-meanings and inside jokes.
I can feel his mouth forming the soul of every sound that crosses my lips.
The same silence threads through our thoughts.
In a no-man’s land of darkness, my father comes in fashes.
Snatches of his husky, hibernating voice will suddenly become crystal clean irrigating my ear with the fertile
intonations of an unknown history.
There’s knowledge in those grave tones, a sad and sybillic chant.
And the subtle motions of his limbs seem to pantomime my life’s new calling.
Some strange, heroic destiny is taking shape inside me.
Up spring the traits of my childhood idol—his passionate hands, the throb of his heart, his arms’ restless rhythm.
I can feel him rising through the thawing waters of my womb, toward its silvery surface of air and light.
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My flial labors are almost at a fnish.
As if through a veil of sleep, I sense him: a giant climbing from my body, his shadow upon my skin, his eyes taking
me in.
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A handful of stones
sits in my palm,
tiny buddhas softly rounded,
polished to a glow of grays—
time caught
in a nugget of earth
plumped
by the delicate dust
of once-
living things
that hardened and grew
as sunshine warmed cool colors,
rains washed them pure,
moon brushed a breath of shadow
that still gleams beneath their gray-
brown surface
wise in silence.
Janet Butler
Stones
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Ericka Becks
When I was a girl,
my father taught me to
wield a soldier’s blade,
taught his Nǚhái
crown could not sit on the
head of a woman who
couldn’t fght
her own demons away

Sword extended arm,
reach,
breathed power into
lungs,
silver too quick
for any suitor to best.

I was my own king

And then she descended,
amber red curls
catching moonlight,
and sword clashed with fesh,
lung,
knocking breathe
away
When I was queen,
I learned to breathe jasmine,
freckled hipbone
the particular shade of pink
that was her tongue,
learned to cradle
my love in
tiny arms
I carried it to
mountain peaks,
to castles walls,
to her wedding day.
My father taught me
pour oil on your blade,
and I’ve tried
but it cannot cut
through the rust
Aurora, Wǒ de ài
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Oil and Water
H.C. Turk
60
Lately they have been telling me
not to call my mother,
suggesting without saying that
certain calls at certain times
from certain persons
serve only to agitate,
to make my mother
too painfully aware
of where she’s not
and whom she is not with.
I rail and I pound my fst—
No one has the right
to tell me this!
I find her in that panic,
I don’t trigger it.
But after another and
another event: her
breathless voice—
Rick! Thank god!
Come get me now!—
My powerlessness to
take her to a safer place,
to conjure memories
or promise pleasures,
interrupting fnally,
I love you mom, but
I’ve got to go, and then
calling the nursing station—
my mom needs help!—
after such turbulence
at last I get it:
the emptiness
when she’s sitting
in the dark on the edge
of her bed in her room
in the utter quiet
is not tragic, it is
a calmness, a silence
that the shrill phone
shatters. She clutches
it, she clutches at
the sound of someone
once intensely loved
but of late forgotten,
Hey mom, it’s me!
and once again all is lost.
And so her grandson
hits a home run,
and there is silence.
The tulips explode
silently into bloom,
red, orange, yellow.
Her granddaughter falls in love
for the frst time in silence.
And just now a storm
of blue jays explodes over
the crest of the house
and drops down into
the backyard and swarms
silently upon the feeder,
the limbs, the lawn,
and the dog in his pen
is flinging himself
silently into the air
in a delirium, and yes,
finally it is certain that
the season has turned,
we have survived
another bleak winter
in silence.
Rick Kempa
Lately They Have Been Telling Me
61
First, I heard my mother
crying in the bathroom.

Like a survivor of any disaster,
I recall that it was a perfectly ordinary July night,
starry and humid, dogs barked, cicadas sang,
the neighborhood watchman sent a screeching whistle-call
as he circled the block on his bicycle.
I stood on the warm epoxy foor
and looked into the slat of light
between the door and its splintered frame,
while the painted window glass of that room
diffused the moonbeams,
swathed all objects and my skin
in a curious deathly blue.

She wept like she lived—
fercely, bountifully.
Maybe there was too little air
for both of us—
she drank it in large liquid gulps,
wailed through thinned white lips, contracted mouth,
placed her hand on her heart,
fat palm, heaving chest, pressing, pressing,
to no avail, no comfort to be had.

How long I must have labored with my breath,
harboring it for ages,
and then exhaling a storm, wishful and fearful
of being discovered.

Maybe we are both still there,
my mother disintegrating in the bathroom
of her married home,
and I, an accidental spectator of her grief.
Noorulain Noor
The Other Woman
62
The south-facing window of your mother’s house
opens to a view of your grave.
At dawn, after kneeling towards Mecca,
she dons her black polyester-blend burka
and steps into the narrow sepia-swathed street.
At the threshold of the cemetery,
she buys day-old rose garlands at a discount
from the street-side forist,
slips off her leather chappals,
tip-toes to you, kisses the epitaph,
hangs a garland on each edge of the headstone.

Once home, she sits on the window-seat for hours,
prayer beads slipping through her fngers,
colliding with each other, her eyes never leaving those roses
strung tightly together, wilting in the sun.
I think of one rainy season of our childhood in that house -
a fort made out of overturned rattan chairs,
the blackboard in one corner, our names on it,
our hands covered with chalk dust feeling like sandpaper,
and your mother sitting underneath the muted skylight,
shelled pomegranate seeds slipping through her fngers,
landing dully in a chipped ceramic bowl.

She must have sprinkled powdery black salt on them,
flled two glasses with milk, spread a dollop
of butter on two steaming chapaatis
and added a layer of sliced hard-boiled eggs,
laid the feast on a plastic tray
with painted pink roses on the border,
and brought it to us to devour.
We must have accepted this bounty with glee,
gobbled it all up, gone back
to our make-believe lives inside the enclave
of toppled chairs.

But I can only remember those small clusters
of glossy red seeds escaping her fngers,
and the gnawing feeling of fne white sand on mine.
Noorulain Noor
Dispossession
For J, with love
63
Contributors
Wes Adamson, photographer and writer. Much
of what he writes and photographs about comes
from the basic understanding of people and
environment, gained through the insight of years
of experience attempting to interweave it all into
a meaningful life. He presently publishes stories as
a guest columnist to Cincinnati Enquirer/Tri-County
Press. Mr. Adamson, a new exciting writer, recently
had his creative writing accepted for publication by
River and South Review and his photography published
by Driftwood Press. Many of his Imagination By
Moonlight book quotes are at Goodreads.com. His
creative writing blog site is http://cadamson.blog.
com.
Sherryl Anders is a mental health professional
working with people on the edge, who struggle
with serious mental illnesses. After a long hiatus
to pursue her academic career, however, she has
recently returned to her roots in poetry. Previous
work has appeared in Lilliput Review.
Aileen Bassis is a poet and visual artist in
Jersey City working in book arts, printmaking,
photography and installation. Her artwork can
be viewed at www.aileenbassis.com. After retiring
from teaching art, she began exploring another life
as a poet. Her poems are published currently and
upcoming in Blue River Review, Untitled with Passengers,
Gravel Magazine, River Poets Journal, Spillway, Milo
Journal, the Literary Bohemian, Specs Journal, Still Point
Arts Quarterly, and others.
Demond Blake is a warehouse associate who has
traveled the country working odd jobs and meeting
various artists, musicians, and nonconformists
living life on the fringes of society. He has published
poems and excerpts of his novel Slackass in Inlandia,
Dead Flowers, and Sixers Review. He lives in Colton,
CA with his wife, his preteen son, and a crazy old
dog who acts like a puppy. Slackass is his frst novel.
M. Brogan, a native of the Midwest, writes mainly
fash fction and poetry and currently lives in Virginia
while studying for a Master’s in international
relations.
Melissa Burton, the co-founder and website
developer for LitBridge lives in Dallas, TX. She has
a M.S. in Human Computer Interaction from Iowa
State University (ISU).
Janet Butler lives in Alameda with Fulmi, a lovely
Spaniel mix she rescued while living in central Italy.
“Searching for Eden” was published by Finishing
Line Press in January, 2012, “Upheaval” was one
of three winning selections in Red Ochre Lit’s 2012
Chapbook Contest. She recently placed, for the
fourth year, in the Berkeley Poets annual poetry
contest. She is moderator of the monthly Lit Night
at Julie’s Coffee & Tea Garden in Alameda, and is a
member of the Frank Bette Center for the Arts,
where she will teach a poetry course and Italian
language class this spring.
Karla Cordero is an MFA student at San Diego
State University studying creative writing and
poetry under Sandra Alcosser and Illya Kaminsky.
She is an associate editor for Poetry International and
her work has appeared in the California Journal of
Women Writers. In 2013 Cordero helped the San
Diego poetry slam team place 4th in the country
at the National Poetry Slam in Boston. Her awards
include the Sarah B. Marsh-Rebelo Fellowship.
Andrew Davis is a recent MFA graduate of Pine
Manor College. His short story “Peter’s Glasses” is
forthcoming in The Oddville Press. His short stories
“WInd-Up” and “Paper Doll” can be read in The
Rain, Party, and Disaster Society and Black Heart
Magazine. He lives in Lowell, Massachusetts, where
he is working on his frst collection of short stories.
He can be contacted at davis.andrew19@gmail.
com or at https://www.facebook.com/andrew.
davis.188478
64
Jeanine Deibel teaches English and works as an
editor. Her work is forthcoming in cream city review,
Black Tongue Review, and Whiskey Island, among
others. She is the author of the chapbook, IN THE
GRAVE (Birds of Lace Press, March 2013). Her
second chapbook, Spyre, is forthcoming on Dancing
Girl Press in Winter 2014. For more information,
visit: jeaninedeibel.weebly.com.
Claire Farley is currently a master’s student in
the Literatures of Modernity program at Ryerson
University in Toronto, Ontario. A long-standing
belief in connection to place and a love of poetry
has led her to an interest in the poetics of space;
she loves reading and writing out-of-doors.
George Michelsen Foy has published 12 novels
a couple of non-fction books. His latest is novel
is METTLE, with Univ. Press of New England.
He has written for Harper’s, Rolling Stone et al. He
teaches fction at NYU and his fash fction has
been published by Atticus Review, Superstition Review,
Journal of Microliterature, among others. He lives in
New England and NY.
Sarah Kilch Gaffney lives in central Maine with her
husband and daughter. She holds a B.A. from Knox
College and works for the Maine Conservation
Corps.
Thomas Gillaspy is a northern California
based photographer with an interest in urban
minimalism. His work is forthcoming in Streetlight
Magazine and Suisun Valley Review. Contact
information and more examples of his work can
be found at: http://www.fickr.com/photos/
thomasmichaelart/
Tom Holmes is the editor of Redactions: Poetry,
Poetics, & Prose and the author of seven collections
of poetry, most recently The Cave, which won The
Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book
Award for 2013 and will be released in 2014. His
writings about wine, poetry book reviews, and
poetry can be found at his blog, The Line Break:
http://thelinebreak.wordpress.com/.
Nashae Jones has had her fction appear in
Blackberry, American Athenaeum, and 101 Words
magazines, among others. She is currently a graduate
student, writer, and reviewer.
Rick Kempa lives in Rock Springs, Wyoming,
where he teaches at Western Wyoming College. His
work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Conte
Online, Confrontation, The Healing Muse, and Beyond
Forgetting: Poetry and Prose About Alzheimer’s Disease
(Kent State, 2009).
Matthew Kirshman lives in Seattle, Washington
with his wife and two daughters. Before becoming
an English teacher, he had a varied career--
telephone repairman, bartender, and cook, to name
a few. Writing since the early 1980s, his publication
credits include: Charter Oak Poets, Dirigible: Journal
of Language Arts, Helix, Indefnite Space, Key Satch(el),
Phoebe: The George Mason Review, posthumous papers
(NothingNew Press), Vangarde Magazine, Xenarts.com,
and Z-Composition.
Steve Klepetar teaches literature and writing at
Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota. His work
has received several nominations for the Pushcart
Prize and Best of the Net. His latest collections
include Speaking to the Field Mice, from Sweatshoppe
Publications, Blue Season, a chapbook collaboration
with Joseph Lisowski, from mgv2>publishing, and
My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto from
Flutter Press.
Roland Leach has three collections of poetry,
the latest, My Father’s Pigs published by Picaro
Press. He is currently the Poetry Editor at the
University of Western Australia for Westerly, and is
proprietor of Sunline Press, which has published
seventeen collections of poetry by Australian poets.
rleach@plc.wa.edu.au
Richard Luftig is a former professor of
educational psychology and special education at
Miami University in Ohio now residing in Pomona,
CA. He is a recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett
Foundation Award for Literature and a semifnalist
for the Emily Dickinson Society Award. His poems
have appeared in numerous literary journals in the
65
United States and internationally in Japan, Canada,
Australia, Europe, Thailand, Hong Kong and India.
One of his published poems was nominated for the
2012 Pushcart Poetry Prize.
Atreyu Luna works in the felds of social services
and education. He lives with a talkative kitty in the
San Francisco Bay Area.
Brian J. McVety is an English teacher at Reading
Memorial High School in Reading, MA where he is
inspired by his students daily. He lives in Beverly,
MA with his favorite person in the world, his wife,
Elizabeth. He has not published any fction before.
Bob Meszaros taught English at Hamden High
School in Hamden, Connecticut for thirty-two
years. He retired from high school teaching in
June of 1999. During the 70s and 80s his poems
appeared in a number of literary journals, such
as En Passant and Voices International. In the year
2000 he began teaching part time at Quinnipiac
University, and he began once again to submit his
work for publication. His poems have subsequently
appeared in The Connecticut Review, Main Street Rag,
Tar River Poetry, Concho River Review, Northwind,
Innisfree, and other literary journals.
Katharine Monger holds a B.A. in creative writing
from The University of Iowa and is currently
pursuing an M.A. in Composition and Rhetoric
from The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She
is nonfction editor of cream city review.
Katherine Neale, a native Memphian consumed
with wanderlust who plans traipsing across Europe
for a bit after she earns her Master’s in Education.
She then plans on hunkering down to teach. She
tends to write about the process of writing itself
and the recycling of language.
Noorulain Noor is a clinical researcher at Stanford
University and the poetry editor of Papercuts.
Papercuts is a publication of Desi Writers’ Lounge,
an online writing community for emerging South
Asian writers, run entirely on a voluntary basis.
Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in
ARDOR literary magazine, The Bangalore Review,
Clapboard House, Blue Lake Review, aaduna, and other
publications. Raised in Lahore, Pakistan, Noorulain
now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where
she leads poetry workshops, blogs, and writes on
the broad themes of identity, multiculturalism, and
the immigrant experience. Blog: http://gollgappay.
blogspot.com/ Papercuts Magazine: http://
desiwriterslounge.net/papercuts/
John Reinhart lives in the Weird, between now
and never, driving an ancient Mercedes fueled
by used vegetable oil, collecting and protecting
the discarded treasures in gutters, and whistling
combinations of every tune he knows. He is a one-
time beginner yo-yo champion, a state fddle and
guitar champion, a high school English teacher, a
tinkerer, and certifable eccentric. His poetry has
recently been published in Poetry Nook Magazine,
Vocabula Review, Dirty Chai Magazine, and Black Heart
Magazine.
John Rieder lives in San Diego and teaches
composition and literature at Southwestern College
in nearby Chula Vista. He was educated at the
University of Illinois and UC San Diego. He is also
the bassist for the avant-noise duo Secret Fun Club.
Cynthia Ring’s work has appeared in And/Or
Magazine, Contemporary American Voices, and the
Susquehanna University Apprentice Writer, among
others. Her poetry springs directly from her
unconscious mind. She currently lives in Nashville.
Dana Roskey has been working in Ethiopia for
ten years, building schools and libraries. Before
that, she was a teacher in Minneapolis, a poet, and
playwright. She has produced several plays in the
Minnesota Fringe Festival, and published in small
local journals.
Robyn Ryle started life in one small town and
ended up in another just down the river. She teaches
sociology to college students when she’s not writing
and has stories in CALYX Journal, Stymie Magazine,
Bartleby Snopes, and WhiskeyPaper, among others.
You can fnd her on Twitter, @RobynRyle.
66
Laura Jean Schneider has traveled all around the
United States but prefers big, wide-open spaces
and likes to photograph the details she fnds within
them. Laura Jean currently lives in New Mexico
with her husband Sam, seven horses, a Jersey cow, a
cat, fve chickens, and four dogs. She has a BA from
Smith College and is currently pursuing her MFA in
Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
J. Howard Shannon, a writer and US Army
Infantry Offcer with over 25 years in the military.
He served two tours in Afghanistan—the frst in
2005 with 3rd Group Special Forces and again in
2008 with the New York Army National Guard. He
currently volunteers as an Assistant Instructor with
Horses For Heroes—Cowboy Up! New Mexico
Inc., a wellness and skill set restructuring program
for OIF and OEF combat veterans. He the author
of the short stories “The Jump”—BookPress May
1998 and “Red Flowers”— forthcoming from The
War Writer’s Campaign.
Melissa Watkins Starr holds an M.A. in English
from ODU. A former news reporter, she writes
poetry and fction and works as a freelance writer/
editor.
Kelly Grace Thomas, poet, educator and Pushcart
Prize nominee is in love with all things literary. Her
works has been published in The Emerson Review,
aaduna, Aries Journal and many other publications.
Thomas also works as a food writer for the Edible
Skinny, a blog focused on foodie education and
appreciation. She also recently completed her debut
novel, The Travis Bannister Confict. She currently lives
in Venice Beach, California where she coaches an
award-winning youth slam poetry team.
Jonathan Treece was born in Baltimore, and now
resides in western Maryland with his fancé. He has
been published in Expressions and Backbone Mountain
Review.
H. C. Turk is a self-taught writer, sound artist,
and visual artist living in Florida. His fction has
been published by Villard, Tor, The Chicago Review,
Streetcake, the Newer York, Gadfy, and Farther Stars Than
These. His sound pieces and visual art have appeared
on numerous web-sites and radio programs.
Sarah Ann Winn lives in Fairfax, Virginia. Her
poems have appeared, or are forthcoming in San
Pedro River Review, Nassau Review, Portland Review, and
Two Thirds North among others. Visit her at http://
bluebirdwords.com or follow her @blueaisling on
Twitter.
Jeffrey Winter recently fnished his undergraduate
degree in English at University of Mary Washington
in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He is a married father
of two whose work has been published in Pif
Magazine, Denver Syntax and Blackheart Magazine.
FEATURING
WES ADAMSON / SHERRYL ANDERS / AILEEN BASSIS / ERICKA BECKS
DEMOND BLAKE / M. BROGAN / MELISSA BURTON / JANET BUTLER / KARLA CORDERO
ANDREW DAVIS / JEANINE DEIBEL / CLAIRE FARLEY / GEORGE MICHELSEN FOY
SARAH KILCH GAFFNEY / THOMAS GILLASPY / TOM HOLMES / NASHAE JONES
RICK KEMPA / MATTHEW KIRSHMAN / STEVE KLEPETAR / ROLAND LEACH
RICHARD LUFTIG /ATREYU LUNA / BRIAN MCVETY / BOB MESZAROS
KATHARINE MONGER / KATHERINE NEALE / NOORULAIN NOOR / JOHN REINHART
JOHN RIEDER / CYNTHIA RING / DANA ROSKEY / ROBYN RYLE
LAURA JEAN SCHNEIDER / J. HOWARD SHANNON / MELISSA WATKINS STARR
KELLY GRACE THOMAS / JONATHAN TREECE / H.C. TURK / SARAH ANN WINN
JEFFREY WINTER
Apeiron Review