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Apeiron Review

Winter 2015

Issue 8

Issue 8, Winter 2015

About Our Cover

City #1
Ray Scanlon
Words from the photographer:
Digital equipment has made it easy for me to resume my teenage habit of
carrying a camera, and the digital darkroom makes gratification sinfully
instant. My eye is a little more discriminating than it was then, when I tried
to document everything I saw. Now I try to notice geometry, symmetry,
color, but Id passed by this building dozens of times. Some days you get

Its a new year and we all have resolutions to go with it. As writers, we hope to make time to write every day.
Thats the goal, right? As a writer, your one job is to write! But then theres the family, your day job, the cat poking
at your chair, the dog needing to go out, and you havent called your parents back yet. Balance is something that
Im always at odds with. Thankfully, I thrive with change. And theres been quite a bit of change in the few short
weeks of 2015.
Meredith ran away to Mexico and got married.
Huge hugs and congratulations to the newly weds.
Thankfully, theyve returned to Philadelphia, and
Apeiron continues!
Apeiron-related updates: were still determined to
grow as time passes. Were struggling to sort out just
how we move from digital to print, and thats meant
adding staff and shuffling job functions.
With this issue, we were blessed with a talented
team of first readers. For those unfamiliar with how
submissions are processed, our slush team reads all
incoming submissions and notes their thoughts. All
submissions are then bumped up to Meredith and
me to read and review.
You might not think that this process would be
so helpful, but it is. Thanks to our growing staff,
our turnaround time has increased drastically
and were able to give more feedback. Its always
frustrating when you wait months to hear back from
a submission. I think Merediths had one out for well
over 6 months now. So, thanks go out to our First
Changes coming in 2015 shouldnt be immediately
noticable to readers. Ill be attempting to grow
our online presense, and Ill have much more time to spend on making the layouts pretty and such. The hope
is that Ill finally develop the ability (confidence) for a print run. Maybe one more issue (yes, I keep saying that),
and well give it a go. So keep your eyes peeled for a call for submissions for an actual paper copy. Plant a tree in
This issue showcases many seasoned and debut writers. Take your time with this one. Find the space between
the pauses within this issue (Wong, 42). Speak to the hermit crab and listen what he has to say (Reilly 63). Learn
how different parents love their children. I wont share how Sabrina Bertchs photograph, Self, makes me feel,
but I will say that Id hang it on my wall (See p. 52). I believe our youngest author in this issue is 16 years old.
Crazy, right?
As you follow through with your new years resolutions, we hope to see your thoughts and submissions in our
inboxes. As always, we want your dreams, fears, hopes, wrath, and maybe even your drunk dialsbut in print.
Lets keep it to print.
As alwayshappy reading!

The Review Staff

Lisa Andrews
Meredith Davis

Design Editor
Lisa Andrews

6 Solace
Jae Lee


April, May, June 1997

A.N. Padrn


Esther McPhee

Production Editors

Funeral Food
Kristin Laurel

Meredith Davis
Lisa Andrews

8 Oysters
Kristin Laurel


Porch Easel, Flight

Charles Thielman

Art Advisor

9 Brick
Emily Wong


Stone Carrier, Salish Territories

Carol Shillibeer

First Readers

12 a.m., another front porch
John Roth


Dan Leach


Holly Jensen


Mill Road
Lisa Megraw

Chris Butler

Michael Cooper
Gina Dozois
Marcene Gandolfo
Ashley Hutson
Xavier Vega
Unsolicited submissions are
always welcome.
Manuscripts are now only
accepted via Submittable. For
submission guidelines,
schedules, news, and archived
issues, please visit our
website at
Apeiron Review. All rights
revert to author upon

15 Want
John Roth

Some Days, I
Kimberly McClintock


In Winter
Bethany Fitzpatrick

These are the stages of tiger
Kasey Thornton

After Backpacking Over Mt.
John Brantingham


Suzanne Muzard, et al
Danielle Pappo

59 Ophidiophobia
Cal Louise Phoenix


Desert Cloudwall
John Brantingham


Emily Frankenberg


Famous Last Words

Clyde Kessler


Sheng Kao


Tim Hatch


In Kiev
Estill Pollock


Monkey Subdues the White-

Boned Demon
Estill Pollock





The Bear That Made My

Father Love Me
Michael Gentry


Memory Forms
Nancy Dillon

Men at Work #109

Robert Laughlin

12 Umar
Jay Merill

Dads Goat
Matthew David Perez



Lassen County
Kathleen J. Woods


Oyster Bay
Carol Shillibeer


Aaron Gansky


Eye Mouth
Tobias Oggenfuss


The Shadow Puppet

Jim O. Neal


Organic Horn
Tobias Oggenfuss


Business as Usual
Emily Claire Utley


Dave Petraglia


You May Also Enjoy

Kasey Thornton


City #1
Ray Scanlon


Rabbit and Tracks

Jim OLeary


J.C. Reilly

52 Self
Sabrina Bertsch
58 Untitled
Pepper Jones

Jae Lee

Listenthe white whisk of sky from where
you fell like the heavy weight of silence,
the flat line of your descent,
(the softest downfall,)
the sea of people, the gray shorelines
that go from building to building,
and in the midst of them, your halo
none of this matters anymore.
So come along,
give this thing a meaning, a name, a story;
Were nothing but words
traveling from one lip to another
in the end.
Lookyour fathers coat hanging
heavy like the air in his office, the smell of
bourbon, your mothers voice flowing
as soft as laced cotton from the other room
none of this ever mattered.
Now youre thirty and youve
balanced yourself on the tips of your
polished shoes at the mouth of the longest
that leads to the throat of the darkest road,
and it almost blinds you.
You said, Let me take comfort
in your green eyes and wood smoke hair.
(The fireplace slept as you awoke
and its glow smoothed out the planes of your face,
skimmed down the hollows of your cheeks)
and let the stars dotting
your face drown me.
After all, nothing could
compare to her sunset eyes that
make rivers run down the length of your dry throat,
trickling down the
surface of your bones, and
pooling at your core.

Kristin Laurel

Funeral Food
After the funeral,
the ladies in the church basement served
open-faced deviled-ham sandwiches,
and green pistachio pudding with mini-marshmallows.
There were english muffins, topped with cheez-whiz,
each with a single black olive in the middle
that reminded me of an eyeball.
Each table, draped in a white sheet,
was set with fire-trucks, dinosaurs, race cars,
and pictures from your two-year-old life;
and there was the one of you,
Benny, learning to walk. The one of you,
with your small bare feet,
touching the top of the earth,
touching grass for the first time.
The coffee was weak, the angel-food cake swelled
up in my throat, and I couldnt swallow any of it:
the empty words, empty calories, the tears,
or that inexplicable hunger
that was trying to consume me.
And so I went out into the parking lot
and sat in the car. I was crying and (of course)
it was raining. I found an old bag of Cheetos.
The Egyptians, I read, buried food with their dead.
I wonder if you liked Cheetos. I begin eating
them, pretending I am sharing them with you.
We eat the whole bag.
My hands become pasty and orange;
and as I lick my messy fingers clean,
I am loving yourefusing to feed
the hungry grave.

Kristin Laurel

Away from the riptides
away from the erratic waves of the Atlantic
we paddled our kayaks through
the tall weeds of the estuary.
It was the nicest day of vacation,
the only day without rain.
Back at home, a blizzard warning.
Safe in the brackish water, we laughed as dolphins
leapt nearby and our guide said, Notice how clear
the water is where the oysters live. A single
oyster can filter up to fifty gallons of water a day.
Back at home my sisters son, Benny,
went for a tractor ride
his father needed to plow all of the snow.
For lunch we ordered a bucket of oysters.
Some say oysters taste of the ocean, but
I couldnt stop thinking,
theyre filter feeders, theyre full of toxins,
I couldnt swallow that colorless blood.
The oyster shells on our table were tough.
It was hard to pry them open,
but even oysters die when you separate
them from the bottom shell and
cut through the heart.
My mother waited to call;
she wanted us to enjoy our day.
She was relieved not to tell me,
but told my lover instead,
Benny fell off the tractor
crushed skull, blood all over
Earlier that day
we were buoyant,
detached, half-way listening
as our guide said, Baby oysters need
the shells of their ancestors to live
while all around the shoreline, piles of oysters
clung to each other
like those people we hold onto
in the middle of the night,
as we swallow the ocean
and nearly drown.

Emily Wong

Between the drinks and the cigarettes
the smell of vine-ripened tomatoes;
the sound of the cicadas.
Slung moons
slow ocean:
Switching addictions is tricky.
I am
walking down a runway.
I am
the shape of shadows.
Of dying light.
Sleep inside my lungs;
breathe into someday.
Someday meaning never,
never meaning:
That heart-stopping moment;
the pin-prick through your left lobe.
I brought a mood ring,
a broken windshield,
and literature
smelling of death.
I love the space between the pauses:
a quiet clich,
a blackened heart.
That tire screech, metal crunch.
That perfect,
better dream;
my cracked scapula whispers:
Going home is easy
its the arriving
that sticks in the throat.

Men at Work #109

Robert Laughlin

Timothy, a lay volunteer

Every time its a different town, one where Im not known. Doctor Jeremy thunders to his
climax, still moving to me though Ive heard it more times than I can remember. He calls on his
listeners to come forward and be saved. I get out of my seat in the pews and walk up the aisle,
tears rolling down my cheeks. Doctor Jeremy says Im a natural actor, but all I have to do to make
myself cry is remember my life as it was, how I might have gone to my last day on Earth a stranger
to His love. I dont think of my function in Doctor Jeremys church as an imposture; none of us
think that. We walk up the aisle, and dozens, hundreds, of newcomers follow us into the light.
They just have to see someone else go first; they have to see theres no shame in wanting to be


Carol Shillibeer

Oyster Bay


Jay Merill

Today, Friday, a day in a million. Millies on

her way. She winked it plainly with her eyes.
So I get up, make myself ready. Want to be
bright and early for the girl. When I get to the
hospital I dont see her, and I ask the woman
at the desk. Woman says she dont know who
Im meaning. Millie, I tell her. She says there
aint no Millie here. I says must be. If Millie
winks its as good as anybodys word. Says Ill
wait. Woman says I cant. No room for waiting.
I insist I will.
Woman goes: Yes, I remember. Youve been
in here, havent you. More than once, she tells
Dont know. Could of been. Cant
remember stuff.
Yes, youre one of ours. Umar. I got a good
memory, love.
Ok, I say.
Where you livin now? womans asking.
I shake my head.
Screams from somewhere and moaning
sounds. Doors start banging, buzzer goes.
More moaning and groaning then all turns
quiet. Happens a lot at the hospital. Might of
done a bit of screaming myself at one time.
When I was a patient here.
Avent seen you in a while, goes the
woman, peering at me close.
When did you see me last? I need her to
tell me. It may be a clue to something I should
Oh, Id put it at about a year. Eight months
the very least. Her head goes nodding with
the words. So whos this Millie youre on
about meeting here? Eyes starin right at me,
smile twitching in corners of her mouth.

And just for that moment, when shes putting

me on the spot like that, I clean forget.
Better get some rest. You look done in,
says woman.
Cant, says I. I gotta wait.
For Millie, you mean? Did she tell you she
was comin here?
Im trying to hold onto those last winks that
Millie gave me, but they keep falling sideways,
slipping out of my eyes like tears.
Now son, goes the woman, What you
cryin for? Heres a hankie. You takin your
medication like you should be? Make sure and
take it. Best to go on home. She gets out a
pen and piece of paper. Whats your address?
Greenwich Park, I hear myself telling her.
Her pens poised above the paper.
Number? she wants to know.
Behind the willow trees.
Now shes gawking right up close to me,
driving Millies face away. Make me lose my
nerve those eyes of hers. Millie would go for
her if she saw a stare like that.
Yes, its coming back to me, goes woman,
writing something down, not waiting for my
answer now.
Youre the one as had that Staffie what got
run over down the road.
All words comin die in my throat. I
dont know what to do. In a panic I get
out my packet of minty-chews, offer one
to the woman to keep her fat mouth shut.
Fanks for that, Sweetart, says she, stuffing
the minty-chew into her gob.
I run off. Millies not comin. Womans right.
See the poor dog so clear now as she lay there,
side of the road. All bleeding and weeping,

then gone quite still.

Get to the door, hear the woman calling after
me, You take good careve yourself, yeah,
before Im through.
Cant help getting this dream sometimes.
See old Millie as she used to be before death
took her. Would waddle along by me her tail
a-swingin high. Givin me a look as if to say
Cant you keep up sonny? A dog cant speak as
we do, but they say everything with their eyes.
Must have been in last nights dream; she told
me she was coming by to look for me. Hospital
was the last place shed clapped eyes on me
afore she went. Road in front, just where Im
runnin now. I see it all too clear. Van swerved
right into her. She didnt stand a chance on
Runnin to the trees in the Park where my
stuffs hid then crawling inside my sleepingbag. I bite the corner of the cloth to stifle pain.
Tomorrow. Saturday. Millie wont be back.


John Roth

12 a.m., another front porch

where spiral-shaped bulbs fluoresce
through powdered glass as moth wings
paddle deftly in the splash light.
Moonbeams kiss the ceiling with stonewhite lips; raw taste of opal smoothed out
over pointy stucco tongues. Naked,
he sits on the edge of his bed, wondering
how long it takes for darkness to fill a single
given space. All night, his mind
buzzes with insomnia like the tiny box fan
shoved into his window. From shifting drawers
to tangled blinds, a ghost-hand
(not his own) slips in and out, then back again.
The shadows tallied on his headboard not a mark,
but a compendium of muted stars.


John Roth

The moons dim razorblade
& the night divides in half
Fat, dusk cherry cutting
The black juice that weaves
not yet licked; no stain
Only, theres longing somethat old puddle of bones,
tenements. Like molding
spit to spirit, but far less
aside hourglass sand to beat
of man, until a wind-carved
His chest a stone keyhole
Still, no water for weeks.
open jewel box; a brief
rain & the covetous land that

chattering over gray-blue ice

like palmed fruit.
away at its star-seeded flesh.
between fingers,
worthy of its sweet removal.

where beneath
a softening of soul into wax
a tiny breath, from
pliant. Pour into shape & set
in the ageless face
valley roars & rips through him.
brimming with light.
The sky unlocks like a smashed
scattering of diamond
fills itself, that steals it all back up.


Kimberly McClintock

Some Days, I
Some days in winter tell
a clear warm lie, while some toss blue in wind,
each streetlight an orange sun. There is recent news
of corruption, not news itself, but a heros fall
disturbs especially. I recognize the current
wind from last year this time, same locale,
the power lines drug sparking down the street
and the plummet through a fence of sap-surged limbs.
In the snowcrust, impressions
from some birds three-toed feet.
~after Jim Harrison's "March in Patagonia, AZ"


Bethany Fitzpatrick

In Winter
Today the geese are on the wing
straggling east, in a v-less midwinter flight.
I was hoping for a hint
of spring, but they werent heading north.
Today my youngest child curls within me,
a soft nudge and a heartbeat,
while my oldest waves a mittened hand
and dives headfirst into a snow bank.
Today the sun shines and the snow sparkles,
but I cant help but feel the years unspooling,
an impermanence, even while held fast in the fist of winter.
Today I cant help but fear these fledglings flying from me
like those erratic geese, even while
one nests within my body
and the other calls for me
across the vast canvas of the yard.


John Brantingham

After Backpacking Over

Mt. Whitney
My backs propped
against the rock wall
so I can stare
into the Milky Ways middle distance
or watch that creek flowing
down into Owens Valley,
and I think maybe
Ill just stay up tonight,
let the stream and the sky
do their thing to my head
and have the ancient thoughts
of water and stars.
Of course, thats when I fall
asleep and dream totems
that are either personal or Jungian,
and who cares what they are
as long as theyre drawn
from the springs
of the High Sierras,
the waters older
than these mountains,
the waters that incite bears
to dance their joy in the meadows
the waters that will eventually split
these mountains in half.
They are in me.


John Brantingham

Desert Cloudwall
The dog and I walk the firebreak
tattooed on the spine
of the mountain,
where the forest and the sea air
blend themselves
with desert.
Above us, a cloudwall marches
into dry air and steams
off into the sky.


Dads Goat
Matthew David Perez

I met my dad for breakfast at Buen Caf.

I had to put the goat down, he said.
I didnt want to hear it, but he was going to tell me.
Yeah? I said.
After the dog attack, he was pretty messed up. No ear and everything. One day I was out there
shoveling the pen, and he just didnt move. Got right up on him. Didnt even know I was there.
Sometimes he fainted.
The waitress brought our breakfasts and set them before us.
The neighbor wanted to stuff him. Because of his horns.
So night before, I set him up right. I gave him a big bale of alfalfa, and filled the tub with fresh
water. He just laid there, had a good time. And next morning I borrowed the neighbors .22.
He sprinkled pepper on his eggs.
Four times. Nothing. Finally had to cut his throat.
I poured coffee, and took long sips.
So I cut the grass on Saturday.
First time using the mower in fifteen years.


The Bear That Made My

Father Love Me
Michael Gentry

My father shot two deer the day before

Thanksgiving. In our southeast Alaskan logging
camp, this wasnt unusual. But the night set in
quickly, and he was only able to pack one of
the deer out before dark. He tied florescent
pink engineering ribbon every 50 or so feet to
guide him back to the kill site.
I was 12-years old. My father made a point to
take me hunting and fishing often. I thought it
was so cool that my dad carried a .44 magnum.
He carried it for protection. Admiralty Island
was affectionately named Fortress of the
Bears by the Tlingit.
Id jump at any opportunity to tramp through
the timber in my fathers shadow. I never
wanted to cut the heart out of a Sitka black tail
or clean a king salmon, but I wanted to be with
my dad. And, as a father, I now realize he could
have gutted a dear or filleted a fish much more
quickly and efficiently than I had. But, for him,
it too was about the moment.
He woke me before sunrise, and we set off
in the dark to collect the second deer. It was
Thanksgiving morning. The truck seats were
cold, my breath visible. There were no logging
trucks on the roads. In the darkness, it seemed
all was asleep.
We drove for about an hour along the
winding, bumpy logging roads before we came
to a pull off at the edge of some old growth.
On the closest, tallest western hemlock was tied
a pink ribbon.
I assumed my father loved me. He tried to
include me, spend time with me. But my father
was not one to profess his love. In fact, I cant
recall a time in my youth when my father told

me he loved me. It wasnt his nature. In fact, in

fits of rage, Id question his love.
The rays of the sun poked through the trees,
illuminating particles floating in the morning
air. A fresh coat of snow covered the forest
floor and the fallen timbers. I walked a few feet
behind him, exploring deep into the woods
with my eyes. The deep woods fascinated me,
like a hidden world never before discovered.
Every 50 feet wed pass a pink ribbon fluttering
in the cold breeze. About a mile into the dense
undergrowth, we reached the second deer.
My father promptly knelt down to quarter it
and cut out the back straps. I picked up some
cold stones and tossed them at a fungal conk
growing about 30 feet up a nearby tree.
Was the other deer a buck? I asked my dad.
Yeah, just a two point, he responded
without looking up.
Wheres the head? I asked.
Oh, look around, youll find it.
After a few minutes of unsuccessful
searching, my father looked up, realized I
couldnt find it, and got to his feet. We searched
a small radius before branching out a little
farther. My dad went one direction, me the
other. Just ahead of me, completely surrounded
by snow, was a mound of freshly worked dirt.
Dad, I called.
Yeah, his voice questioned faintly through
the trees.
What is this? I asked, a tinge of worry
in my voice. He jogged over and immediately
stopped, his eyes frantically searching in every

Come here, he said, hurrying me back

to the carcass. Bears will often bury their
food before they eat it, he said, his eyes still
scanning all around. He stuffed the two hind
quarters and the back straps into a large, black
garbage bag and slung it over his shoulder.
Lets get out of here, he said, nodding toward
the crooked row of pink ribbons.

eyed. We both knew we were being circled.

My father hastened our pace, forcing me to
jog every few steps to keep up. In time, light
poured in through the cracks of the trees from
the clearing of the road. We climbed up the
hardened embankment to the truck. My father
opened my door and hurried me inside, tossed
the bag of meat into the bed, then climbed
inside himself. He placed his hand on my
leg and sat there for a long moment, staring
straight ahead at the rocky logging road. I
looked up at him, smiling, awkwardly looking
away when he looked over. He fired up the
truck, and we started home. The cab heated up
quickly. We sat in the warmth, staring ahead,

We had traveled a few hundred feet before I

mustered the courage to speak. Dad, what if
we see a bear? He stopped, turned, and looked
right at me. I could see fear in his eyes.
Michael, he said, after a solemn sigh. If
we see a bear, I want you to find a tree and
climb to the top.
What are you going to do? I asked, looking
up at him.
I will toss him this bag of meat. If he
doesnt want it, I will lead him away from you.
You stay in that tree until you know its safe.
He turned around without much hesitation and
started to walk again.
This moment was the first time I knew my
father loved me. He didnt have to tell me. He
was going to lead a grizzly deeper into the
woods to keep me safe. I felt fear. I felt guilt. I
felt love.
We walked briskly, attentively. I walked close
enough to my father to rest my hand on the
cold butt of his pistol, scanning my immediate
surroundings for a tree with low hanging limbs.
Scenarios flashed through my mindsome
happy, some not. I was consumed by emotion,
for a moment forgetting the physical world
around me.
My father abruptly stopped and gasped. I
bumped into him, my face smashing up against
his heavy, winter work coat. I was sure I was
going to climb a tree, and he was going to die.
He didnt say a word. He pointed in front of
him. In the snow were bear tracks crossing our
path. He bent over and measured the print to
his outstretched hand. With the imprint as a
backdrop, his hand looked so small.
With a forward nod, we continued, twice
more stopping to examine bear tracks crossing
our path. Each time hed look back at me, panic

Emily Frankenberg


Enjoy the wallet you have taken,

shredded bank cards
and expired state IDs.
Enjoy its smooth leather exterior,
but the animal is gone.
Enjoy my pans without a grain of salt,
my house without a book in sight
since I have moved.
Enjoy the peels but not
the fruit,
the broken pot but not the ivy of my soul,
which scales the windows high above.
And little bear,
enjoy the moon that you cant trap
inside a box.
And Roman guards,
enjoy the cold and empty tomb.


Lassen County
Kathleen J. Woods
Johnny resolved to steal his sister home
before dusk. He threw a backpack in his truck
and kissed their mother goodbye. Be careful, she
said. And dont kill him.
The road from Susanville to Eagle Lake was
clear, familiar in its winding, narrowing roads.
October was not a time for tourists or hobby
fishermen. Only those without much else to do
would set out on the lake now, as the cold crept
in, willing to bob for hours before a bite. It
was their fathers favorite time of year. Johnny
remembered how his legs had numbed as he sat
on the fishing boats metal bench, watching the
cooler empty. Hed drunk one can of the cheap
beer that flattened halfway though, sneering as
he sipped. His father had laughed and tossed
him another can.
Johnny fiddled with the trucks radio. Styx
battled against the mountain static, and Johnny
let them. It was better than country. Better
than nothing. He tapped his fingers against
the steering wheel and dreamt, for a moment,
of robbing a gas station and continuing on,
turning for Las Vegas and driving east and east
and east. He was nearly done with high school
anyway. What more could he learn in seven
months? He laughed to himself. There were no
gas stations in these woods. Next, in another
year, the Navy. He would travel then.
When their father had called about the
camping trip, Johnny had been ready to refuse
him. He hadnt seen the man in a year. But he
heard April in the background. Shed begged
for the phone.
I expect you to join your family, son. Heres
your sister, their father had grunted.
I really think you should come camping

with us, April said.

What, you miss me? Johnny said.
Wait, hes going outside, she whispered.
You have to come get me.
Is he hurting you?
Its the same, April said.
Hows Cheyenne? Johnny said.
Jesus. The dog is fine. Arent you even
worried about me?
Their fathers husky was beautiful. As a boy,
Johnny would sit by the dog on the back porch
and stroke her ears. Shed lunge at anyone
coming for him. Shed go for the throat. And
their father knew it. Sometimes Johnny lay
awake at night picturing his father smashing the
dogs head in with a shovel.
I dont want to see him.
You and Mom were right, okay? All Renos
got is prostitutes and strippers. He keeps joking
that in two years, I can start my career, April
Johnny imagined her standing at the phone,
wrapping the coil around her arm as they
had as children, pretending to mummify their
April had left in a fit. Their mother had
forbidden her to spend a weekend in Reno with
a boy. She packed a backpack and announced
that she and the boy were going, and she
wasnt coming back. Shed already talked to her
daddy, and at least he wanted her to be happy.
He understood that she was an adult. Shed
screamed as their mother started to cry and bit
Johnnys arm as he held it across the door. The
boy was waiting outside. Johnny started after
her, but their mother told him to let her go.
The car tore down the street. Their mother had

touched the bite mark on his arm and sighed.

Let her go. And pray to God she isnt pregnant.
Please, Johnny, April said. He wont let
me leave. Just pretend to come camping and
take me home while theyre sleeping.
Ill do it for Mom, hed said.
Johnny slowed the truck as a blue Mustang
roared past. He never understood why people
sped along these snaking roads. When they
were children this drive had made April cry.
Their father would laugh and take his hands
off the wheel.
Johnny liked to drive fast on a highway,
where he could imagine himself slicing through
the sky and golden fields, not here, where one
careless turn meant a head-on collision or
pinball down a mountain. He taught April to
drive in the fields. When she failed her first test,
he took her out for ice cream. Shed forgotten
about stop signs, she said. Oops.
Once, hed seen Aprils boy road race. Hed
just finished a night shift at the bowling alley
and joined his classmates in the parking lot.
The boy drove a red Challenger with a broken
driver door. Everyone cheered when he jumped
in through the window. They cheered again
when he took a shot. The cars had revved their
engines and taken off down the main strip,
towards the end of the streetlights and back
again. The boy had lost by a mile.
Weeks after he drove off with April, the boy
had gone bowling. Johnny had walked out from
behind the lanes, hands black with oil, and saw
him sitting in a blue half-moon seat, his arm
around a redhead.
Hey, Johnny said, wiping his hands with a
The boy looked at him and blinked. He and
the redhead stunk of pot. She stood up to
bowl, her lips pursued around a cigarette.
Hey, Johnny repeated. Youre back in
Looks like it, the boy said, grinning with
teeth like a hand of cards.
And April?
April? Man, that girl is crazy, the boy said.
Johnny stuffed the rag into his back pocket.
You left her there.

The redhead knocked down seven pins, and

the boy applauded. Johnny watched him watch
her bend down over the ball return.
In Reno? Well, yeah. I was never going to
live in that shit-hole. Your sisters hot, but shes
crazy, the boy said. He grinned again and
cracked his knuckles. We were just there for a
little fun, you know?
The redheads pins clattered. Shed made a
spare. The boy turned to cheer, and Johnny
grabbed the back of his shirt. He hadnt
realized how small the boys body was. No
shoulders to speak of. He imagined the boys
sallow bones on a motel mattress, undressing
his little sister.
Watch your fucking mouth, Johnny said.
He tossed the boy into the lane. He slid a good
four feet before his skin screeched against the
varnished wood. He scrambled upright.
Johnny had watched the boy struggle to
stand and noticed that hed smudged oil over
the boys shirt. This made him smile. He
weaved through the bowlers clutching their
drinks and sat in the back room. He counted
his breaths.
Johnny hadnt been fired. He was too good
an employee, too responsible. Besides, his
father had worked there from the moment the
alley opened, and the boss refused to break
a legacy. He didnt tell their mother anything
about the fight. If shed heard, she kept it to
Last hed heard, the redhead was pregnant,
and the boy, racing drunk, had rolled his car,
crushing his leg. What a shame, people said. Hed
been counting on the Army. Johnny wondered if
April knew. Susanville, it turned out, was a shithole too.
Johnny turned off the main road onto
the stretch of dirt that would lead him to
their fathers campsite. The radio gave up.
He hummed to himself and imagined April
struggling to assemble the tenta tent she
wouldnt even sleep in. Years past, their father
and his girlfriend had taken the shelter and
left April and Johnny sleeping bags and a
tarp in the bed of the truck. Theyd huddled
together and told ghost stories, trying to cover

the yelling or the moaning coming from the

tent. As they grew older, they slept farther and
farther apart. Hed begun waking up before her.
Hed learned to make coffee. Hed learned to
sit quietly by the lake and watch the morning
herons dip into the water for fish.
Johnny whistled as the lake came into
view. The mountains spread wide and flat,
and the water stretched through them to the
horizon. Johnny saw no one, and his heartbeat
quickened. He thought of their father
discovering their plan and waiting, gun ready,
for Johnny to arrive. But the gun misfires and
shatters Aprils skull. Blood sprays the boat, the
tree trunks.

Johnny squinted again at the water. He could

make out no bodies. He started the truck and
angled back toward the road, just brushing the
corner of their fathers tent. It bent and sagged,
and April laughed. He watched his rearview
mirror, waiting for a gun. The lake disappeared
from view, and the radio crackled to life. April
reached out and twirled the dial. Dime-sized
bruises spotted her forearm.
Once, long ago, the family had spent a day at
the lake together. Their father taught Johnny to
skip rocks. Their mother stood in the water and
held Aprils hands as she kicked. Soon Johnnys
stones made one hop, then two. Their father
patted him on the back.
Watch this, hed said. He picked up a wide,
flat stone and snapped it over the lake. It struck
their mother in the hip. She and April splashed
under the surface, yelling. Their father laughed
and laughed, his hand on Johnnys shoulder.
Johnny had giggled too. Their mother scooped
April into her arms and carried her to shore. It
had taken another three years to teach her to
Never try that again, okay? Johnny said.
Mom missed you.
April looked up from the radio and nodded.
Her hair fell over her eyes. Sure.
Youll go back to school next week.
Sure, she shivered.
Theres a sweater in that bag there. Put it
She reached into the trucks narrow back
seat. Her shirt rose as she stretched, exposing
the way her hipbone pressed through her skin.
She pulled the sweater over her head.
Dont singe it, Johnny said.
The radio played an advertisement for
McDonalds. Another for mattresses. Johnny
listened to the air moving past the truck.
Hey, have you heard anything about
Michael? April said, still clutching the
cigarette. The sweater swallowed her. She
shook the sleeves away from her hands.
Who? He watched her tap ashes into his
cup holder. She wore a big silver ring on her
thumb. It was green around its edges.
My old boyfriend. Some help you are,

When he was thirteen, hed found blood

in the bathroom. There was red tissue in the
garbage can, pink swirling in the sink. He
watched plum clots dissolve in the toilet water.
Hed known someone had died. Hed screamed
for his mother, and she and April both came
running. April blushed and fled back to her
room. Their mother had done her best to
Johnny gripped the steering wheel. Their
fathers truck sat a few feet offshore, rusty and
dented, its boat trailer empty. Johnny looked
out across the water. Before he could make
anything of the black shapes blotting the lake,
April pounded on his passenger door. He
opened it, and she threw herself inside, hair
wild. She clutched her backpack to her chest.
Cmon, she said. Lets get out of here.
Wheres Dad?
Fishing. Theyve been out on the lake for an
hour. I said I would wait for you, and here you
are. My hero, April said, dancing in her seat.
Her bare arms were tan and covered in freckles.
Her face looked strange to him, puffy though
the rest of her body remained so thin that he
saw the shape of her ribcage as she breathed.
She still had no chest to speak of. Not pregnant
then. She pulled a cigarette from her backpack
and lit it. He watched her exhale. Smoke
twisted through the truck. Their mother would
make her flush the cigarettes one by one.

she smiled and punched his shoulder. God, I

wish I could see Dads face when he pulls into
Johnny looked again in the review mirror.
Nothing. Though their father could follow
them later and pound on their mothers front
door, demanding that his son face him. Theyd
keep everything locked. Theyd change their
phone number. And in one year, the Navy. He
wiped his palms on his jeans, one at a time,
and eased the truck through three short curves,
seatbelt heavy on his chest. His legs ached.
April stretched her feet out on the dash. Pink
nail polish clung to the ends of her big toes.
She took a drag on her cigarette as the truck
began its descent.
Go faster, Johnny. Im not scared.
He looked at his sister, at her puffy, freckled
face, so flat in the shadows of the trees. He
pressed down on the gas. Hed get them home.


Tobias Oggenfuss

Eye Mouth


Tobias Oggenfuss

Organic Horn


Clyde Kessler

Famous Last Words

If you bury a word
just for your life, or for autumn,
or for a love across Eastern Shore,
will you find it the cedar of a cloud?
Will you re-voice it deep down
like the deserted friendships of villages
crowded into a computer, the stars
slapping their dark waves into a boat?
Will you play it with banjo
calluses, cracked ribs, lame stage hands,
in a flare gun where no rescue helicopter
can circle? You like all the dramas
that help you disappear. Yet you tell
your cold body to find something kinetic
to save memories and muscles. If you can
bury a word, you can soon bury everything else.


Sheng Kao

and from her wounds
despair flowed like time,
scrubbing the dirt into dust
into nothing
into nothing
into cold, empty,
darkness, a world so dark
one swallows the sun
to feel a glimmer of moonlight again,
those white rays that pick at the seams
of the body like a needle,
that unravel threads of precipitation
and coat the eyes in foggy film,
consuming the visible world in blank vacancy.
and this is darkness,
the white


Aaron Gansky

My father pulls to the side of a quiet

residential neighborhood and parks the car. He
spins the barrel of his revolver and clicks it in
place. Youre good here, right?
I nod. Hes left me alone in the car before,
sometimes to run into the store, sometimes
at night on unfamiliar streets like this. On the
drive, I watch the map and memorize the roads,
a game my father has me do to pass the time.
Its hard in the dark, but I remember turns, and
Im good at figuring out shadowy landmarks.
When he leaves on nights like this, hes never
gone long. I pass the time by reading comics.
Afterward, he always takes me out for ice
cream or buys me more comics and lets me
stay up late.
He kisses my forehead and steps out of the
car. Before he closes the door, he says, I love
you, kid. Stay put. He tucks the gun into the
waist of his pants. The dome light gleams off
the polished wood handle before he closes the
door and leaves me in the dark.
My fathers boots click across the asphalt.
Therere no streetlights here, and a November
chill frosts the windows. I climb in the back
seat, settle on the floor, pull my knees to my
chest, and cover myself in our emergency
blanket. It smells like dust and gasoline. I click
on my flashlight and open the latest X-men. I
want to be a hero, want to stop speeding cars
with a wave of my hand, want to heal people
with a thought. Im able to get through three
of the six comics dad bought for me last week
at Kettlemans drugstore. One I read twice.
When I hear his boots on asphalt again, the
sound is different, softer, more a click and drag

than the sharp clacking of earlier.

I slither out from the blanket and climb back
in the front. His face is pale in the patchy porch
lights, and he holds his left hand under his
coat. Hes breathing hard, and he slumps into
the seat. There wont be ice cream or comics
tonight. Remember how to drive?
I nod. Hes had me sit on his lap and steer
before, but only in and out of the driveway
at home, and we havent been home in weeks.
The whiteness of his face scares me, so I dont
ask questions.
He licks his lips and turns the car over. Hop
on, he says. I slide onto his lap, and he pushes
the small of my back forward. Dont lean
back. He presses the gas slow. If you want
me to go faster, tap my right leg. Tap my left if
you need me to slow down or stop.
Cant you see? I say.
Not Superman, kid. Dont got X-ray
vision. He laughs, but the air whips out in
bursts, wheezes.
I turn on the headlights. Hes shown me how
to do this, how to do the blinker, the wipers,
but not the defroster. The windows foggy.
He turns a dial and the fog thins in clear
You have to be careful with guns, I say.
Theyre not toys.
He leans back. Remember how to get to
Uncle Joeys?
I should take you to the hospital.
Theyd take me away from you, and youre
all I got.
Youre all I got, I say.
The first corner comes fast, and I turn

the wheel right. The tires squeal, slip on the

pavement. Slow down, I say.
You didnt tell me, he says. His legs shake
under me.
Uncle Joeys is miles away, and I worry Ill
forget the way. It takes me a minute to learn the
fine art of signaling speed by tapping his legs.
Its all I can do to stay on the road, so I straddle
the line, and go over it when I get close to
turns. Theres never many cars on the back
roads we take, not this late at night. What
Just drive, kid.
Are you going to die?
Life isnt like comics, he says. Good guys
dont always win.
Were the good guys, right?
Were always the good guys, he says. But
no one else knows it. His voice is softer now,
like hes tired, like hes about to fall asleep.
And you, he says. Youre my hero.
Dad, I say. I tap his left leg, but he doesnt
slow. Dad.
The car speeds up. My chest tightens. Dad.
Slow down.
I see the turn coming, the red octagon, the
flash of headlights coming from the left.
I stretch out my hand toward the oncoming
car. In that moment, I am my fathers hero.


Dave Petraglia



The Shadow Puppet

Jim O. Neal

Sandra vividly remembered the day she

realized, or admitted to herself, that something
was wrong with Ethan. She was sitting on the
floor of the living room with Ethan lying on
his back on the carpet. Her husband, Will, was
relaxed in his recliner watching a football game.
Dylan, her older son, played by himself in his
room. Over the sound of the announcers on
television, she could faintly hear toy trucks
crashing together.
Ethan squirmed and looked around the
room. He was nine months old, beyond the age
that he should be rolling over and even sitting
up on his own. Come on, sweetheart, she
said, lets try again. You can do it. Sandra
picked him up under the armpits and sat him
on his butt, held on until she thought he had
his balance, then slowly let go. He immediately
fell over, and would have bumped his head on
the floor had she not caught him. Damn it,
she whispered. That was better. Youre getting
closer, but he wasnt, and she knew it.
She had already made the effort a thousand
times with the same result so she returned him
to his back, pulled up his shirt and blew on
his stomach. She lifted her face to laugh with
him, but Ethan gave no response, just kept on
with his flailing. She tickled his ribs, his feet,
under his chin, and got no laughter. She had
great memories of playing with Dylan when he
was this age, tickling him and listening to him
She put her finger into Ethans palm hoping
he would grip it. He didnt. Are you here,
Ethan? Are you here with me? She didnt
know what she was trying to ask him, but she

had to try to get an answer. She felt rejected

and needed a connection that she wasnt
getting, but putting it into words was difficult.
Will had insisted that they take him to the
doctor months before because he was such a
difficult baby, but they had reassured Sandra
that there was nothing medically wrong with
Ethan. Babies were difficult sometimes, the
doctors told her. He would grow out of it. She
believed them.
Playing with Ethan on the floor that day, she
finally let herself feel that it wasnt right. He
should be rolling around, sitting up, trying to
crawl. She should at least be able to get a laugh
out of him with a tickle.
Will, honey, I think something is wrong
with Ethan, she said.
Will didnt take his eyes off the screen.
Yeah, I know, he said.
No, Will, listen. I think I know what is
wrong with him.
Oh, what is it? He leaned forward slightly.
Come down here. I need to show you. Will
pulled himself out of the chair and squatted
down beside her. Sandra started crying as she
tried to tell him. It sounded so crazy in her
head but the closer she got to saying it the
more certain she became. He cant feel me,
she said, starting to cry.
Hey, calm down. Im listening. What do
you mean he cant feel you? I dont understand
what that means.
Sandra put all her effort into composing
herself so she could get the explanation out.
She wiped her eyes with her sleeve, and looked
up at Will. I mean that he cant feel when I

touch him. Watch, she said as she pulled his

shirt up above his belly.
She tickled him and rubbed him. There was
no reaction. He seemed to not notice at all. He
just continued to swing and kick his limbs with
a blank expression on his face. Will reached
in and patted his bellynothing. Then, he
pinched the skin on Ethans stomach a little too
hard. Ethan screamed. Sandra looked up at Will
in confusion.
I dont know. He definitely felt that.
Im just sure something is wrong, Will. I
know it.
Well take him back to the doctor, see what
they think.
They took Ethan to their family doctor, the
only one in their tiny little town. He didnt have
the tools or experience to deal with something
like this so he sent them to a doctor in the
next town, a thirty-minute drive away. That
doctor did his best and passed them along to
the nearest city, two hours from home. It was
weeks before they finally got to someone who
could help.
After a couple of visits, the doctors
confirmed what Sandra already knew, but
they didnt understand what was causing the
problem. Through some simple tests they
determined that Ethan couldnt feel tactual
stimulation, except, inexplicably, infliction
of pain. None of the doctors had ever heard
of such a thing. They did blood tests and
neurological testing, but were still baffled. The
best they could do at the end of it was send
Will and Sandra to the pharmacy to pick up a
bag full of prescriptions.
Losing hope in finding a medical explanation,
Will and Sandra devoted their time to coping
and just dealt with the difficulties. They didnt
understand what Ethan was going through, but
learned to accept his behavior and adapt, acting
practically, trying to adjust.
The doctors continued to search for the
answers and, finally, tracked down a neurologist
who had worked with a patient with similar
symptoms half way across the country. Because
he was one of the only doctors who had
worked with such a case he flew in just to see

Ethan. He was able to confirm that Ethan had

the same disorder as his patient. He explained
the disease and gave them a gloomy scenario.
Mr. and Mrs. Hicks, Dr. Simon began,
Ethan is dealing with an extremely unusual
impairment of his sense of touch. He was
concerned, but his expression gave away his
fascination with Ethans case. Its a disorder
in his peripheral nervous system, the nerves
connecting his limbs and body to his spinal
cord. His sensory nerves, the ones that convey
information from the periphery to the central
nervous system, arent functioning properly.
We all have small receptors that receive touch
in the skin and convert it to electrical impulses
that are sent to the brain. Ethan doesnt have
this system.
Ok, Sandra responded. How did this
happen to him? She dreaded having to ask
that question, fearing that she had somehow
caused it. The small room, with plain white
walls and official looking certificates in cheap
faux-wood frames, seemed like a place where
only bad news was delivered. She became
uncomfortable with the carpet her feet rested
on. The tears it must have absorbed over the
years made her feel sick.
Dr. Simon had to admit that he didnt have
all the answers. Honestly, I dont know. There
are only a few cases known in the world, and
those have all happened later in life, to adults.
Im not aware of a single case of someone
being born with the disorder, although its
quite possible that babies have been born with
this condition but not survived long enough
to be diagnosed. It is most likely from a viral
infection that has attacked his nerves. Look,
Mrs. Hicks, I know there is a tendency for
parents to blame themselves, but I cant stress
enough that you didnt do anything to cause
this. Sandra was relieved to hear that, but she
wasnt totally convinced. She looked at the
ceiling and wondered how many people had
done the same thing, hoping to get a better
view from that cold plastic chair.
Dr. Simon, I really dont understand all
this, Will said. I mean, how is this making
Ethan so difficult? He wont even go to sleep.

What the hell does his sense of touch have to

do with that? Its a miracle every time we get
him to eat.
Well, theres more to it than what you
think. Since we all have it, most of us dont
even realize how important our touch sense is.
The peripheral nervous system, where Ethans
impairment is, also provides information from
deeper in the body, from muscles and tendons.
This information tells us about where our
muscles and body are in space, in the absence
of vision. Ethan likely has no spatial awareness
in his body. When he closes his eyes he must
feel as though he has lost contact with his body
completely. Im sure its very frightening for
him to lose sight of himself. Thats probably
why he wont go to sleep. Hes afraid.
Wait a minute, though. Ethan cried when
I pinched him earlier. He definitely felt that,
Will added, confident that he could somehow
prove the doctor wrong.
Well, there are actually separate receptors in
the skin that pick up on pain and temperature
sensations, and also muscle fatigue. Ethan
apparently has these. This is extremely
important. Without these Ethan would have a
much harder time.
Doctor Simon told them that Ethan would
never be able to walk or talk. The adult patient
that he had worked with was confined to a
wheelchair, could barely communicate, and had
to be fed intravenously because she couldnt
control her lips and tongue. She couldnt chew.
She couldnt even swallow on command.
Listen, Mr. and Mrs. Hicks, this is not
going to be easy for Ethan, or for your family.
We will do everything we can to help Ethan
deal with this, but I dont want to imply that
his condition will improve. I see little hope
for that. What I suggest you focus on is giving
Ethan all the love you can give him.
Dr. Simon went on to explain that otherwise
healthy children who arent touched enough
dont grow normally, have much weaker
immune systems, and lack social skills. They
have lower intelligence and shorter life spans. A
baby that isnt touched at all dies.
Sandra was hysterical when they left the

office. That is total nonsense! They had

finally gotten some answers, but she felt she
couldnt accept what Dr. Simon had said about
Ethans future. He didnt know Ethan, didnt
know her. Thats just not going to work for us.
We can teach Ethan to eat. I mean, give me a
fucking break! Im supposed to believe that my
son wont even be able to eat?
Sandra, Will said, Hes a doctor. Im sure
he knows what hes talking about.
Nonsense! Ill teach him to eat.
Sandra had always been in the habit of
checking in on the boys while they were
sleeping. When it was just Dylan, she would
quietly open his door and look at him right
before she went to bed. After Ethan was born,
she added one more check in during the night.
She woke up promptly at two in the morning
and snuck to their door to make sure they were
One night, when Ethan was three and Dylan
was six, she noticed something peculiar. She
saw Dylan lying on his back in his bed, one arm
raised straight to the ceiling and the fingertips
of the other hand stroking the length of the
bare, up-stretched arm, tickling it. After tickling
the arm for a minute he curled his fingers to
scratch the arm lightly with his nails. He was
still asleep.
This wasnt the strange part. She had seen
him do this many times before. It struck her as
kind of weird but she always got a little laugh
from it. It was so cute. What she noticed this
night was that Ethan was watching him do it.
She stayed a few minutes longer and Dylan
finished his routine. Once he put his arms
down and rolled over on his side, Sandra saw
Ethans head roll back to face forward. His eyes
remained open. She stayed until she was too
tired to stand. Ethan was still awake when she
The next night, Sandra returned and found
Ethan awake. This time, she realized he was
staring at a spot on the bed beside him. He
didnt take his eyes off of it. Again, she stayed
as long as she could, until she started to fall
asleep while standing.

This went on for several nights. Sandra was

so confused about what her little guy could
be doing awake so late at night until, finally,
something happened. It was the same as the
previous nights. Ethan was awake, lying on his
back staring at something beside him. Just as
Sandra had decided to go back to bed, Ethans
hand slowly levitated off the bed, first a few
inches then a foot.
Sandra clamped her hand over her mouth to
keep from squealing. Her eyes welled up with
tears. Ethan could always move, but she knew
immediately that this was different. Ethan had
controlled his movement, something he had
never done before. He had been staring at his
hand, willing it to move. His hand suddenly fell.
Ethans body was more like an inert object,
like a lamp across the room, than it was a part
of him, something connected to his mind. He
had to move it remotely using intense mental
concentration, replacing the functions of the
body that normally happen without thought by
essentially controlling these functions manually.
A person attempting telekinesis would look
much the same as Ethan did when trying to
control his body, and his movement was only
slightly less miraculous.
This felt like a huge victory for Sandra, and
she used her newfound enthusiasm to help
Ethan build on his abilities. Once he had
learned that sight was such a useful tool, he was
able to apply it to other movements. It took
him hours of concentration and practice over
the course of months to learn basic maneuvers.

learn to do things on his own.

He needs help, Mom. He cant do it on his
Youre right. He does need your help, but
he doesnt need you to do everything for him.
What he needs is for you to encourage him to
help himself.
Her reasoning was sound, but it was difficult
to convince Dylan. New rule, Sandra
said. From now on, Ethan has to try to do
everything for himself before anyone can help
him. If he cant accomplish something after
hes given it a good effort, one of us will help
him. Got it? That goes for you, too, Dad. Will
was almost as bad as Dylan, although not quite
as open about it. He would be Ethans right
hand while Sandra wasnt around, but in her
presence he was disciplined in the approach
she preferred. I mean, look at him, she said,
looking down proudly at Ethan sitting on the
floor, slightly propped up with pillows. Look
at how much better hes doing.
Sandra praised him for even the simplest
accomplishments. Will and Sandra were
thrilled by watching him sit on the floor and
stare. It was almost as if he were a little monk,
meditating. They watched him like he was a
magician doing something they couldnt quite
follow. They studied him.
At first he could move his legs only while
he was sitting, but then he learned to stand on
his own by holding onto the wall or a piece
of furniture and keeping his eyes on his legs,
keeping those muscles flexed. His legs had
to be locked in order for it to work. Once
Sandra saw Ethan making progress, she started
challenging him to do more. She stood him
up next to a piece of furniture and placed
his hands on it. The whole room was totally
silent so he could concentrate on all he had to
maintain. He focused on his hands, midsection,
and legs, all at once. She slowly let go of him
when she felt like he was stable enough and,
just like that.
Oh, my baby can stand! My little guy can
stand on his own! Sandra screamed.
They clapped and shouted and laughed with
excitement, causing Ethan to get distracted and

Even a year later, when Ethan was four,

Dylan still carried him almost everywhere
he went throughout the house. Ethan could
simply point his eyes towards where he wanted
to go and give a grunt, and Dylan would
correctly interpret and deliver him.
Dylan, if you carry your brother around
everywhere hes never going to learn how to
walk. Would you please not do every little thing
for him?
Im just helping. He likes it.
Well I know he likes it. Who wouldnt like
to be waited on hand-and-foot? But he has to

fall, and then they did the whole thing over

Sandra became obsessed with her effort.
She could think of nothing else but working
with Ethan to learn to walk. It was the most
important thing she could think of. She
couldnt imagine him going through his whole
life without being able to move on his own,
couldnt accept it.
Will finally figured out what Ethan needed
to help him along. He came home one day with
a walker he had welded together from scrap
Try that out little buddy, he said as he
presented the gadget. Its not very pretty to
look at, but I think itll help.
It was still difficult and frustrating, for all of
them, but Ethan didnt seem troubled by the
effort. He made slow, patient progress.

chair and gave him a hug. Do it again, she

said. Say something else.
Ethan slowly lifted the mirror while Sandra
waited. Im humbwy, he said.
She had hoped for I love you, Mom, or,
Thank you for all your help over the years,
but whatever he said was beautiful to her.
You know what would make this place a
whole lot better, said Monroe, Wills best
friend. We need to build a screened in porch
here. They were sitting outside the back door,
drinking beer and looking out at the back yard.
Thats not a bad idea, Will said as he
swatted at a mosquito on his face. It would
protect us from these damned bugs.
We could put in a little ceiling fan, too.
Thatd be nice.
They each took a drink of beer from their
warm cans and thought it over a little more.
You think we could get some of the guys to
Hell, if you cook some pork and brisket on
the smoker, fill up a cooler with beer, youll
have thirty guys over here swingin hammers.
Well get Monk to throw us aside some wood
from the lumber yard. Piece o cake.
Alright, lets do it next weekend.
Monk was the first to arrive on Saturday
morning at just a little past seven. He drove
the delivery truck from the lumber yard where
he worked, carrying bags of concrete mix to
set the posts, a roll of screen, shingles, and the
lumber they would need. Will only paid for
about half of it, and didnt feel bad about it.
Monk had worked at the lumber yard for not
enough money since high school. He knew the
place and the customers better than anyone so
there was no risk of being fired.
Hey, Willy, he said as he jumped out of the
Morning, Monk. Think thisll do it? Will
refilled his cup of coffee.
I know where theres more, if not.
The rest of the guys started trickling in half
an hour later and waited for Jones to show up
with the bloody maries. They all needed one
and no one made them like Jones did. Monroe

Fay fomefeem, he said. These were his first

words, spoken to his own reflection. He was
eight years old.
He had for a long time been making noises
to himself and trying to shape those into
words, but he could never get beyond a sort
of singing sound. The difficulty was that he
couldnt see his tongue well enough to tell it
what to do like he did his with his hands and
legs. Eventually he was able to work around
that by looking into the mirror and learning
how to make sounds his tongue would
normally make using his lips instead, the
reverse of what a ventriloquist does. Finally,
it came out, Say something. He smiled at
himself. Say something, he repeated.
During dinner, he steered his walker into
the living room where Will, Sandra, and Dylan
were eating and watching television. He sat
down in his chair and, with unsteady hands,
lifted a small mirror to his face and said, slowly
and carefully, with a shaky voice and slur,
Pweav paff ve popapoev. They all stared at
him silently, in disbelief for several moments
before all at once coming out with laughter and
Sandra covered her mouth with her hand
and fought back the tears. She got up from her

was the last to show, already on his second beer

from the drive into town.
Ethan and Dylan were just waking up as the
commotion began. Dylan rushed to get his
jeans and t-shirt on and, after gulping down a
bowl of cereal, bolted outside to start helping
with the work. At thirteen, all he wanted to do
was hang out with Will and his friends. Ethan
took his time, dressed and ate slowly and
carefully, situated himself on his walker and
rolled to the back door.
Hey, little buddy, Jones said between loads
of concrete mix he was carrying from the
truck parked in the street in front of the house.
Need a hand down?
Can you take me over there out of the
You got it.
Once Jones got him past the stacks of
lumber, Ethan struggled to the slope at the
back of the yard so he could sit down and still
see the work happening.
Sandra finished putting up the dishes from
dinner the night before and looked out the
kitchen window. She could see Ethan sitting in
the yard, which gave her some comfort. There
would be a lot of hazards while the porch was
being built, piles of scrap lumber, nails, power
tools. She wanted to make sure she could keep
an eye on him.
Work moved along at a decent pace until late
morning when it got really hot. The hammers
fell with less force and accuracy. The tape
measures were difficult to see through the
sweat in their eyes.
Lets eat, guys! Will couldnt stand to check
on the grill even one more time in that heat.
The meat had to be done.
They sat around in the shade of the maple
trees at the edge of the property and ate. The
cold, sweating beers were refreshing. Once
they had all had seconds they struggled to find
the motivation to go back into that sun. They
Its too hot to run that saw, Monroe said.
Why dont we play a couple rounds of Annieover until it cools off a little.
I could go for that, said Will. The game

was one they invented a couple summers ago.

It was a combination of tag, hide and seek, and
dodge ball and involved the roof of the house.
Well, son of a bitch, Sandra said. She
knew they wouldnt get back to working on
the porch. Theyd play until they were either
too tired or too drunk to play anymore.
Then theyd go home, take showers, and go
to the Tightwad Tavern for the night. They
wouldnt get around to finishing the porch for
another month or so, depending on how many
weekends they spent at the lake on Monroes
pontoon boat. Too hot to work, but not
too hot to run around the yard like idiots all
She was fuming mad, even though she had
expected this all along. Were gonna have to
live with a damned construction zone in our
back yard all summer. She was about to burst
out the back door to scream at Will or Monroe,
whichever one she saw first, when she noticed
Ethans walker standing at the edge of the yard.
He wasnt next to it.
She scanned the yard in immediate panic.
Hes gone. Someone took him! She thought
before realizing that that would never happen,
not in their town and not from a yard with
a dozen drunk rednecks with hammers and
power tools.
Dylan, she screamed. Wheres your
I dont know, Dylan yelled back without
interest, not wanting to take his attention away
from the game. He was sitting in the yard last
time I saw him.
Get over here and help me look. She
walked quickly around the back yard, searching
around the tools and lumber, but he wasnt
there. He wasnt on their property. How had
she lost him? Where had he crawled to?
With each step she took she thought of a
new danger that existed on their block. The
trucker who lived up the hill drove too fast
when he came home at the end of a haul
to park his rig on the street. There werent
sidewalks and Ethan would never be able to get
out of his way if he happened to be coming
home. There was the angry drunk three houses

down that was always shouting at people

walking by. He also had three mean dogs that
werent always tied up like they should be. What
if one of them attacked Ethan? A creek ran
right past their neighbors house. If he got too
close he could fall down the embankment and
into the water.
She rounded the side of the house where
she could just see into the front yard. Ethan,
stop, she said when she saw him. He was
taking slow, careful steps on the gravel of the
driveway, legs rigid. He stopped and almost
fell as his momentum carried his upper body
forward. He stood wavering, looking down
at his legs. Sandra gasped as though he was
teetering at the edge of a cliff.
Come back, Ethan. You need your walker.
She was short of breath.
Sandra didnt know that Ethan wanted to
turn around to her and smile, to wave and tell
her not to worry about him, that he was fine on
his own, but doing any of those things would
have made him fall down. He took another step
and continued towards the street.
Dylan ran up behind Sandra and stopped.
Hes doing it!
Sandra put her arm around his shoulder and
leaned on him slightly. He sure is, but I dont
think I like it.
What are you talking about? Its great! Its
what you wanted, right?
It is, but Im just so scared for him.
He just needs practice. Ill keep an eye on
him. Dylan shrugged off Sandras arm and
ran to catch up with Ethan at the edge of the
driveway. He gave Ethan a hug from behind,
a little rougher than Sandra liked. She sighed
heavily and smiled, glad that Dylan was there to
keep Ethan safe.
Sandra felt the distance between her and
Ethan grow as the two boys continued their
walk along the street. She wanted to take back
her wish that Ethan would someday be able to
walk on his own. She would gladly accept the
burden of having him around all the time. He
wasnt ready to be out in the world, but there
he went.


A.N. Padrn

April, May, June 1997

Remember the time we
made flower crowns for
the dogs and walked them
through the yard saying
they were married and how
perfect they must be
or the time we made a
farm from pulled weeds and
ripped leaves for dollars
so we could pay the price
a pound of marigolds fetched
in the tool shed market
take me to the hidden place
beneath the piano where a
chord of three strands
wasnt easily broken and
help me relearn the pattern
for a string bracelet
so I can retie the thread
that came loose when
Chip and Goldie died
Mom sold our piano
and the flowers
shriveled in their pots.


Ray Scanlon

City #1


Esther McPhee

Dear body, flighty and sure-footed,
you bawled into this world ready to remain
speechless, a new holder of heat
in the herd, licked clean.

Bone grows like tree branches,

covered with velvet, that living
bone softer than Lambs Ear.

Once you were grunting

into your own life, foraging for breath
in the understory
you, too, woodland animal,
hoofed in heather, azalea.
Now you are antler
or you are animal; rarely both.

Bone turns into trophy.

Light filtering, fawn-spotted, through trembling

aspen and groves of paper birch.

As if bone means anything

without its body. As if the body
means anything without its home.

Now you are arrowed into city,

antlered through with fear.

Bone turns into trophy, kept.

As if keeping that were enough

to keep you tethered
to your life.

Dear body, consider this prayer,

wordless, like the old one:
let death be death, let
rot return to forest.

Carol Shillibeer

Stone Carrier, Salish Territories

When lightning touched stone there was no love there.
Instead it was a kissing. Forces have no lips nor fingers
& yet touch intimately, one electron recognizing another.
Once met, only the stone remained, that loose,
temporary knot of how-things-are; once grounded,
white-sky, the sprite, unraveled in the particle sea.
Even the stone has now become a pebble,
the rest of the rock, mountainous, devastated
with time: a mountain over time, shards, sand, its calcite dissolved.
Somewhere, calcium ions, in a bone (in a hawk leg say)
or riverbed racing, storm to the sea.
Down below in a temporal corner, a woman.
Now walking, now driving;
of no consequence to the long spent sprite,
nor to the pebbleeven ifher leg-bone walks
carrying in its marrow errant ions.


Charles Thielman

Porch Easel, Flight

Sparrows forage thin grasses
close to a roadside cross,
train wails curving
through amber waves at sunset.
Her long sable brush carries
a vision from dream.
The dark blue flags of dusk unfurl
a reprieve, she paints a last lamppost,
city centurion, close to a meadow squared
by new sidewalks. The sniper
in her tower still squeezing off
ricochets of low thoughts, planting
cross-hairs on crows feet deepened
by years of struggle, days of joy,
hope as real as wings shaping wind.
Gusts change the light as insights
ignite the borders of rust and repair,
she dry-brushes crows on an oak branch.
Her riverbank gypsy leans into the voice
of one current, the dusk in his eyes
a day closer to its roots.


Dan Leach

This is how its been
ever since I was sixteen:
you, lingering in the rearview;
me, praying to the dash.
The needle matches the number,
the tags are paid in full,
and I even hit the lights
a good hour out of dusk.
Anything for you.
Yet still my stomach tightens
when you appear beside me.
A sickening sense of guilt
fills the car like Freon,
and I cant shake this feeling
that Ive done something wrong,
something deserving of lights,
a siren, andif Im honest
so much worse than that.


Business as Usual
Emily Claire Utley
Mary and her mother sat at a plastic table
in the corner of a McDonalds. The midafternoon sun leeched through the tinted
window and made Marys fish sandwich look
gray. The tartar sauce dripped of its own
volition from the plastic bun. Mary had given
her fries to her mother who ate them like a
hamster eats a carrot. The doctor suggested
organic greens, meat high in protein, and
snacks easy on the stomach. Instead, her
mother wanted to sit in the dingy McDonalds,
her bald head warmed by a purple knitted cap,
and lick salt off her fingers.
You feeling ok? Mary asked.
Stop asking. Im fine.
This is absurd. Mary crossed her arms and
tilted her head toward the dead-moth-infested
florescent light. Dr. Morrison said you should
be home in bed.
Well, its not like it will kill me, her mother
said, munching on another fry.
No, Mom, that would be the cancer, Mary
barked, then unfolded her arms in attempt not
to bite. As a nurse, I can attest McDonalds is
not the chosen cuisine for breast cancer.
You arent a practicing nurse. You work
for an insurance company. Let the real nurses
worry about my salt levels. Go get ice cream or
something. Relax.
Worry was Marys own form of cancer,
digging into her organs and gaining strength
with each new mass: sick mother, absent fianc,
looming deadlines, weird ticking noise in car,
out of tampons. I dont want ice cream, she
Her mother shrugged and inserted another
fry between her bright pink lips. On chemo

days she insisted on wearing make-up to the

hospital. Mary couldnt help but think she had a
crush on the 30-something Indian doctor who
let slip hed just broken up with his fianc.
A scrawny teenager with dimpled cheeks
appeared at their table. Napkins? he said,
offering a thick wad of them.
Marys mother reached out and allowed the
kid to place too many napkins into her palm.
Thank you, young man, she said. Then, after
the kid stepped away, Wheres Chris?
At work, I guess.
You guess?
Where else would he be?
You tell me, she said. A childs head
appeared above her right shoulder. A toddler
stood in the seat, chubby cheeks smeared in
ketchup and a fry clutched in his tiny fist.
When Mary made eye contact with him he
ducked back down.
Theres nothing to tell, Mary said. He
had been taking sick days without telling Mary.
When she had called his law firm and asked
to speak with him, the secretary responded,
Hes at home, isnt he? When she had asked
how his day went, he said, Business as usual.
Then, he stopped coming home altogether.
She spent her days, alone, approving insurance
claims and her nights, even more alone, trying
not to use her imagination. His absences
became routine. Each time he returned home
with new vigor for their relationship. He
spoiled her with intimate nights in with a
bottle of wine or dinner out with his hand
possessively around her waist and a new piece
of tasteful, expensive jewelry. She didnt know
where he went or why; she told herself she

didnt need to. If losing him for a few days

every couple of months meant the rest of
their relationship was something her girlfriends
envied, then so be it.
Whens the last time you heard from him?
her mother asked.
Two large families came through the door
with several children under the age of five.
Their ruckus gave Mary a few moments of
evasive silence. Marys mother raised what
should have been an eyebrow. Mary missed
the days when passive aggression ruled their
relationship; cancer had given her a more direct
Tuesday, Mary responded, attempting
Its Friday.
I know, Mom.
Have you tried calling him?
Yes, Mary said. She had restricted herself
to three calls and two voicemails. She kept
telling herself he was probably camping
somewhere outside of civilization, living off
trout and Beanie Weenies. Though, hed never
been the outdoorsy type.
He didnt answer, Marys mother stated.
Judgment protruded from the edges of her
words like thorns on the flesh of a flower.
She took a napkin and rubbed it between her
fingers then reached up to fidget with her head
scarf. Will you go get some ketchup?
I asked you to get me ketchup. Its been
ages since I had ketchup. Too much sugar for
Weight Watchers, her mother said, consuming
two fries at once this time.
Come on, Mom. Say it.
Say what?
Mary pushed her tray away and got up
from the table. She retrieved a square plastic
container with ketchup. The last time shed
eaten here there were ketchup packets, squishy
bags that sat in your car glove box for weeks.
Since she started dating Chris, her life had
become a brochure for organic diets, new
age exercise, and large vitamins you had to
swallow with juice the color of grass. He
never verbalized a preference for this type of

lifestyle. In the beginning, he ordered for her

at restaurants. Then she found junk food from
her cabinets in the trash after he slept over.
He gave her a membership to the gym and an
expensive yoga mat for her birthday. He never
had to say anything. When she began to order
healthy menu items, he rewarded her with
compliments. When she came home sweaty
from the gym, he took her to bed. When she
lost ten pounds, he took her away for the
weekend. She had forgotten how McDonalds
smelled: grease and salt. She returned to the
Thanks, her mother said and peeled back
the plastic so she could dunk a fry into the
Mary sat down, picked up her sandwich,
then put it back down. She wouldnt be able to
sit through yoga; the other women could sense
the consumption of fast food like they could
sense divorce or adultery.
I think you should leave him, her mother
said, reaching across the table to dip her fry in
the oozing tartar sauce.
There it is. Mary rolled her eyes. She then
saw the same act performed by a seven year old
across the room and felt ridiculous.
Yes, there it is. Someone needed to say it.
Leave him like you left Dad?
Her mother nodded. At some point, Mary,
youre going to have to find a little clarity. Your
father tried to be a good husband, but frankly
the tools werent in the tool shed. And Chris is
going to be the same way. Mark my words.
Is that what you found? Clarity? Because
it looks to me like you found a crap studio
apartment three blocks from a hospital and a
cat you so lovingly named Bob.
Your father didnt make me happy. It took a
needle in my arm, a vomit bag next to my bed,
and a life- threatening disease to make me see
it, but I did. Doesnt matter how you achieve
clarity, darling, as long as you achieve it.
Chris makes me happy.
Dont lie to yourself, Mary. Its a pathetic
trait you inherited from your mother.
Mary didnt argue. She didnt have a
valid defense. Chris isnt like Dad. He pays

attention to my needs and the needs of the

house. Were partners.
Except when he leaves every three months
to be someone elses partner.
You dont know that.
Honey, everyone knows that. Even you.
Mary took a sip of the huge diet coke shed
filled to the top with ice. She liked the cold
against her teeth. The caffeine would make her
jittery later. No, Mom, I dont.
Yes, Mary, you do, or you wouldve asked
him a long time agonot asked, demanded
where he slinks off too and why. Instead,
you pretend that everything he does when
he returns makes up for his absence. But it
Maybe it does, Mom. Maybe this is the
secret to marriage that people have been
working years to find.
Youre lying to yourself again.
Maybe, but at least Im not dying of cancer
alone in an apartment that smells like tuna.
Her mother smiled and picked up another
fry. Oh, but Im not alone, dear. I have you.
And a charming companion you are too.
Mary reached over and took her mothers
hand. Youll always have me. But I couldnt
possibly be enough, Mom. Dont you miss
Dad? Dont you miss having someone there for
Of course I do. But I missed that when I
was with your father.
Mary waited for her mother to finish,
navigating the conversation away from Chris
and toward treatments and errands. When her
mother finished, Mary cleared the plastic table,
even dipping a napkin into her mothers water
cup to wipe it down. Her mother stood up,
kissed her on the cheek, and made her way to
the door. Mary carried their trays to the trash.
Before tipping the contents in, Mary reached
out and took a single french fry. She popped it
into her mouth like a vitamin pill.


You May Also Enjoy

Kasey Thornton

His wife doesnt ask him to come with her to

the bookstore. She doesnt have to. They leave
the house on Saturday, and he gets in the drivers
seat, and its not raining but he thinks it should
be. She is curled inside herself, looking forward
at a glassy star on the windshield where a rock
struck it, picking at the pearl-colored polish on
her nails.
He drives slowly because he is not in a hurry to
get where they are going. They are going because
she got wine-drunk three months ago and told
him about how her Uncle Chuck pushed her into
the tiny hall bathroom beneath the stairs after
Easter lunch when she was fifteen. Her hands
gripped the pedestal sink and she gasped in the
warm stink of whoever shit in the bathroom last.
The brown marks were still on the bottom of the
toilet. Seeing them washed God out of her.
He was not sure how to feel when she said it.
His wife was sobbing with her head on his lap,
and he pushed his fingers against her skull as
she spiraled and shrank and became empty in
front of him. He remembered that it was Chuck
that sent them the wine they were drinking as a
Christmas gift.
It made sense. She was always prone to bouts
of what? Not moodiness. Discontent? A
frustration that infected her bones and lasted
for weeks, where she couldnt get comfortable
at night and couldnt make decisions during the
day. Shed stare blankly at the television and bury
her fingers into the mane of the dogs neck,
holding them there for hours to anchor herself
to another living thing. He wished he was a living
thing to her.
There is a book that Google told her she
needs. She knows she needs it, but she isnt sure
what she will do once she has it. She regrets ever
learning to read because knowing how to read
means she will have to read this book and she
does not want to read it, but she needs to buy
the book to say that she bought it, to know that
she has it. She doesnt tell him any of this. She
doesnt have to.

They walk into the bookstore and he puts

his hand on her lower back like he is steering
a vehicle from the passengers seat. They are
suddenly lost, looking at all the sections. Would it
be in Self-Help or Relationships? Family? Surely
not Love and Sex?
The edition they found in the Self-Help section
was not the newest edition. They were out of the
newest edition. She does not want to think about
the implications of that. She takes the book
about healing without looking at the cost and
hugs it to her chest, not quite lovingly. They wait
in line like wrongdoers, like they have committed
a crime and are waiting to see if they will get
away with it. The cashier boy waves them over.
Her husband takes the book from her and
slides it over the counter with a fresh twenty, a
signal. No credit or debit. No memberships. No
questions. No talking. His wife keeps curling up.
She is a snake swallowing its own tail. Her eyes
are wide marbles.
The boy with acne says nothing because the
book is any other book to him. Its Harry Potter
and the Child Molestation. Its What to Expect
When Youre a Victim of Sexual Trauma. Its Eat,
Pray, Panic Attack. He puts the book into a bag
and hands the woman the receipt and his day is
still every day.
Her husband is propping the door open for
her, but then she stops and stares at the receipt.
He looks over her shoulder. The Courage
to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of
Childhood Sexual Abuse cost them $17.94 but
that isnt what shes looking at. At the bottom
of the receipt is a list of books headed with the
words You May Also Enjoy and an ellipsis.
There are four other titles listed there.
She shakes her head, shudders with sudden
delight, and throws her head forward, chuckling
into the paper. She doesnt tell him why. She
doesnt have to, because he is infected by her.
People are trying to get in around them, but they
are blocking their own way out and laughing
about it.


Sabrina Bertsch



Holly Jensen

Beekeeper assures me
Ill grow accustomed to the
stingers, the stings, and the stinging.
He says my blood
will get so used to the venom
that Ill start to crave it,
to long for the poison.
Calls me honey.
Says this dress brings out the
red in my eyes.


Rabbit and Tracks

Jim OLeary
We were walking the railroad tracks through
the north woods outside of town. Soldier
Creek moved along in the same direction as the
tracks but in a meandering way, so a number of
trestles had to be crossed where the creek went
wide and then cut back in, passing under the
Soldier Creek got its name from the soldiers
who occupied the army post on a bluff
overlooking the creek over a century ago near
where the town library now stood. The soldiers
gave the creek a name just as the army post
gave the town a name, Fort Dodge.
It was mid-November, and we were hunting
rabbits. It was around 3:30 and the sun was
already getting low. I was with my friend, and as
the area became more open the two of us left
the tracks and moved down to the outside edge
of the heavy brush in the railroad right of way.
My gun was a single shot 20 gauge. My friend
had a 12 gauge pump, overkill for rabbits.
We walked easily, making the brush crack and
crackle as we moved so the rabbits would run.
Then in the orangegray light a rabbit flushed.
It bolted to the right. Its white tail was easy
to follow, and I saw that in its run to the right
it would end up crossing the tracks. I moved
the barrel of my shotgun to the point where
the rabbit would reach the tracks and, without
really aiming, fired as soon as it came into view.
The rabbit went into the air; actually, it was
blown into the air and made an elongated fullbody somersault, twisted, and landed on the far
rail of the track. I started walking to it when I
heard the rabbit start to scream. Some people
think rabbits are totally quiet. Not always. Their
scream is long and sharp and they dont stop.
When I got to it I looked for a rock or

something to use to hit it on the head. There

was nothing around so I hit it, hard, with the
butt of my gun. The screaming stopped. I
picked it up and put it in an old lined game bag
I had gotten at a yard sale a year earlier.
My friend joined me and we stood for a bit.
Good shot, he said.
Did it you hear it screaming? I asked.
Yeah, sure was loud. We need to bring
something with us so we can whack it quick
and take it out of its misery, he answered.
You know, Kawskizs Sporting goods
has good black jacks. Maybe we should get a
Right, my friend said, theyre going to sell
black jacks to a couple of high school juniors.
Guess youre right.
We moved on, hunting for another half hour.
We didnt kick anything up so we quit. It was
getting dark.
We were walking on the tracks back into
You know, there are a lot of possum,
muskrat, and mink along the creek and, further
up, beaver are starting to move in, said my
Yeah, my grandfather told me a couple of
years ago the beaver would come back.
We might want to think about a trap line.
Worth looking into, I said.
We walked until we got to the bridge that
went into town, climbed the embankment up
to the sidewalk and walked home. The rabbit in
my bag wasnt heavy.


Lisa Megraw

Mill Road
You are coiled snakes escaping mud-banked
mattresses, sofas left to sag against bins;
birds with peaty eyes who sit on crooked roofs
under grey skies that run on like rivers.
You are fish and mash on a plate in a dimly lit cafe
with a mans mouth wrapped around a fork
and a woman who stares at a picture of sycamores
hanging above the till. They are waiting for the wave
of silence to break while someone outside talks to the shell
of a phone booth because no one will spare any change
and he has so much hes bursting to say. You are
the crowds of students at The Bell and Whistle, gutters
that smell of cloves, the wife who wrote in black kohl
over the door of the barbers shop to be careful
the road is iced, but still the taxis pull up
like kippers to be flipped back into grey-green waters,
their after-dark scales slippery as music
over the flush of headlights. Later,
you are the boy wearing a wool hat who brushes
a snow-crusted bench and pulls out a moleskin notebook;
the woman in the cafe who has eaten enough silence
and left; and the man who was rattled but now leans
against an ATM singing just above a whisper,
something simple but fragrant as winter.


Kasey Thornton

These are the stages of tiger

He has strewn the chicken you gave him
all over his enclosure without eating a bite
of it, a confetti of intestines and feathers.
If he acts out, someone will bring her back
to him. After all, denial is not a river in Asia,
so hes never seen it. What he has seen
are humans crying and carrying his mate away
in a blue tarp, her body cold from heart
failure. This is the crime of the century,
and you are an accomplice. Mourning
people are unmanageable enough, so what can
you possibly say to the tiger left behind
to chuffle at nothing, pacing circles around
the place where he last saw her sleeping?


Danielle Pappo

Suzanne Muzard, et al
In an interview on love
how it transitions from
an idea to an act
you told them you did not
wish to be free. How bold.
It is no burden to paint
yourself in two: one for your
self, one for the man that you
loved. To sit with your eyes
rolled back, speaking automatic
stories noted by him.


Pepper Jones



Cal Louise Phoenix

When it started, we were hummingbirds. We played tragic
by comparing strange dreams and other head sounds.
We laughed at broken guitar strings and stubbed coins.
In the rain, we canned ourselves in glass
and blew smoke through the cracks. In the heat,
we peeled away our foliage and sweat in watercolors
until all of the furniture was new.
We drew plans until they became mistakes,
but kept making love to the mapseven after they
had shrived and fallen from the face of the refrigerator.
Now, he weighs me into sofa foam
and plucks me with his tongue
to keep the words from blooming. His calloused tips
and teeth toocut my backside into decorative scales:
red to blue to yellowall slick, all swollen.
Once my limbsmy keys and earrings
are lost in the tumble, I slither gone
to sleep in the dark beneath the soft house of his liver.
While he quiets in the hum of an amber cloud, I wish
for another warm summer.


Memory Forms
Nancy Dillon

I have these zinc charette formsgeometric

primitives: cones, rectangles, cylinders, and
pyramids. Theyre anywhere from 4 to 12
inches high, depending on the shape. I display
them as decorative objects, but their original
intent was as a teaching tool for drawing class.
The idea is the teacher arranges the forms in
a still- life composition, and the students try
to recreate it on paper, building 3D shapes on
their 2D sketchpads. The exercise is designed
to heighten the students awareness of shadow
and light and how the two work together to
construct solid form. The fact that the shapes
are simple is key to the exercise. There is no
complexity to distract from the underlying
structure of the subject. The structure is the
When I think about the progression of my
life through time, I imagine these dark forms
stacked up against each other along a central
line. The shapes form an irregular landscape:
the pointy tips of the cones jut up from a low
sea of broad rectangles; the cylinders, tall and
thick, curve gently through space, tangential
to the hard edges of straight shapes; the
multiple facades of pyramids, all originating
from a single point, slope downward, angled in
different directions, bracketing negative space.
These are the varying shapes and sizes of
my memories arranged along the path of my
existence. Some are strong pillars to hug and
lean against and gain calm. Others are sharp
and aberrant, stabbing up to heights high above
the others; first to be seen and felt always with
as much force as when they were formed.
Some are there solely to define absence, the
what-ifs and might-have-beens of angles

I zoom far above the arrangement, where I

can analyze its form in total. From this height,
I see where Ive wasted time and expended too
much energy building up elaborate structures
that cut me off from my central paththe
cragged nooks and recursive cul-de-sacs where
I get lost and ruminate on distorted images and
thoughts. This perspective allows me to grasp
the magnitude of the towering heaviness that
pushes down on me, holding me in place.
From up above, I want to reach down and
fix the imbalance in my composition, adjusting
components, so that the more pleasing parts
have a chance to be seena shift in balance
between the ugly and the serene. In this way, I
can alter bad memories of past events. And I
dont mean to change the outcome of whats
happened or forget the harm I felt. Its more
like introducing a little tweak in emphasis,
or maybe even realizing something new,
something thats always been there but not first
remembered. Something that, when recalled,
makes me half-smile and say, Oh yeahthat
happened too.
For instance, I have this memory from
second grade. Im on the playground before
the start of school. I wanted to play jump
rope. The version where you have two people
working each end, while others skip through.
Approaching different clusters of girls, I held
my rope out like an offering, Wanna jump
rope? The girls giggled, a prelude to their
refusals. After about three tries, I gave up.
I was a quiet childdistant and calmtoo
calm. Even at this young age, I had a tendency
to lock into a long, faraway stare, never
thinking of anything. In third grade, one of my

teachers laughed at my class picture.

Talk about a deer in the headlights, she
said as she handed me my packet of photos.
There was one girl stiller than me. Her
name was Cindy, and she might have been
developmentally slow. In second grade, we each
got a cardboard nametag for our desks. The
2-inch by 8-inch strip wasnt fixed in place, and
it didnt take long before someone invented a
game where you twirled your nameplate around
on the top of your desk, like the spinner of a
board game. Everyone succumbed to the urge
to spin, except Cindy. She never touched her
nameplate. She just sat still at her desk, all day
The teacher commended Cindy for her
ability to resist temptation. You see how neat
Cindys name tag is?
All of our desks were marked up by the dust
and dirt distributed by our spinning nametags,
but not Cindys.I felt pangs of guilt and shame
at my failure to maintain stillness. I wanted to
be still like Cindy. Maybe that was my problem.
Left to myself on the playground, I stood
staring with my rope, looped up like a lasso,
and my school bag, waiting for the bell to
ring. I probably looked pitiful, gazing out over
nothing, holding a rope for no reason. Thats
what must have inspired a bunch of girls,
former nay-sayers, to approach me.
One among them spoke for the group. Well
play with you.
Her offer snapped me out of my trance.
Excited, I dropped my bag and unfurled my
Then, another girl tall with a jet-black bob
and bangs stepped forward. Yeah, because
we feel sorry for you.
I froze. I scanned the faces of the other girls.
Everyone was squinting with morning sun in
their eyes, hands on hips or crossed over chests,
shoes impatiently tapping or kicking at pebbles
on the knee-scraping asphalt, waiting for me to
accept their invitation so we could all get this
over with. But before anything could happen
the bell rang, and everyone before me scattered
like birds from a tree rattled by the wind.

This moment of rejection is vivid in my

mind. Even decades later, I clearly see it
all unfolding in the morning light of early
fall, and I feel the excitement, and then the
embarrassment and shame that the girls and
their words welled up in me. The stabbing
points tower high above all other details, but
theyre only the tip of what occurred...painful,
yes...but only the top portion of a deeper
In my real-world arrangement of charette
forms, one of the shapes is a cube. The taller
ones dwarf it, almost like it doesnt belong
in the set. The curious thing about it is that
its also a box with a lid. It tickles me that the
manufacturer did this, as if anything square
must exist to contain something. I like that I
can hide stuff in therestuff only Id know
about. Then Id wait to forget and, months or
even years later, Id open the box and find a
My landscape of memories has a lot of
little boxes like this, down low, deep in an
undergrowth of details not first remembered.
If Im careful and slow, I can trace the
contours of the harsher shapes downward to
where the small containers have been planted,
each waiting for me to open. There, with no
particular expectation other than surprise,
I reveal the treasures they contain, and the
memories I unpack unfold into new shapes that
restructure my past.
Sure, I was a quiet kid, probably weird, but so
what? I had something those girls would never
have. I had my rope. It was an old clothesline
rope that my dad used for tasks like tying our
canoe to the roof of the car or shoring up
saplings. What I held on the playground was
only a portion of his stasha piece he gave
me for skipping.
The rope, tinged off-white by dirt, was stiff
from being wet then dried, except for the
frayed ends, where the unbraided threads were
soft and wavy and bright white. It smelled like
earth, cut grass and wood dust...a byproduct of
hanging in the garage where my dad kept the
lawn mower, these wobbly old saw horses, and
canvas tarps he used as drop cloths for painting

or transporting piles of autumn leaves to the

My dad taught me how to wrap the rope.
Hold your arm up like youre getting ready to
arm wrestle. Hold one end in the hand of the
raised arm, and then wrap the rope down and
around your elbow and back up to your hand.
Keep doing that until the rope runs out.
So thats what I did that morning on the
playground after the girls left me standing
alone, and I did it fast, demonstrating my
mastery of the technique. This simple action
strengthened me, my little arm working hard to
form the loops. It connected me to my dad in
a moment of pain, reminding me that he cared
enough to equip me with this rope and the
knowledge of how to handle it.
By unpacking this detail, Ive changed the
shape of the entire memory. The rudeness
of the girls, their pity and my horror at
being pitied, its all still there, but the sting is
diminished. From now on, when I recall that
moment on the playground, I can look down
at my rope wrapped up in my small hands and


J.C. Reilly

A hermit crab wants me to tell him the time. When I say its breakfast, he tells me that its
February, and the sky is the shape of broccoli, and that wasnt what he asked. I reply its nine, and
that the tide is like an untied shoelace. When I was younger, I thought only fish swam in the blue
martini oceanI didnt know you lived there too, a merman whose fin curled at the tip like Elvis
lip, and that jellyfish, your voice, could sting the heart right from me, a jewel for your sodden crown.
The hermit crab finds none of this remarkableand as for calculus, sacraments, the color of breath,
those are Xs on a pirate map no one remembers. What is time, he says, but an octopus misplaced
tentacle, flapping in the surf, gray and rubbery as a Michelin tire? What is time, but the song you will
no longer sing? Memory seems hard as a scalpel to the knee, as arctic winds, as the hermit crabs
carapace, as judgment from the dead. As that piece of eight, your love, buried, lost at sea.


Tim Hatch

The double-pronged death razor, otherwise known
as the fucking plug to my wifes curling iron, sits
on the off-white tile, an evil little bastard waiting
on its natural prey, hiding on the midnight floor.
Its teeth sink in the soft arch of my foot and, holding
back a scream, I kick it out of the way, which causes me
to stumble back into the tub. I reach out and I feel
the familiar shudder of

as my palm hits the pink tile wall.

In one, I step on the plug and scream

as loud as I want to
and when my wife asks whats wrong I tell her
shes a fucking child who cant
pick up her fucking toys.
I hobble after her as she, a bag of clothes,
and the dog
back out of our driveway.

In another, I kick the plug

and fall back into the tub. She runs in and sees me

a broken, screaming sculptors mannequin

and the guilt

crushes her. I hold that guilt

like a cleaver
hacking away

small pieces of her

one argument at a time, swinging wildly

in a constant threat that keeps her from the door.

in this reality,
I grab hold of my foot and my temper and I wrap it
in the gauze Ive learned I need to keep on hand.
As I clean the yellowing blood, I wonder:
In how many of the universes born of my childish anger
have I squandered love?
In bed, I stare at the ceiling instead of sleeping,
and I wonder: How many universes
do we get to create? And what happens
when we run out?

Estill Polloc

In Kiev
In Kiev they eat concrete
sniper fire

They knead rubble
this bread they say
we also eat
have chained ourselves
to our dead
Yulia Tymoshenko in her wheelchair

in prison
asks the crows to speak for her
has learned crow language
in her defilement

where justice bleeds out

it is crows
she takes as emissaries

they gather overhead
where the streets of Kiev are devoured
Yulia Tymoshenko

says to them
it is time
the president has fled
the president whose
heart is vipers
now in the east
looks for a compass
has stolen his compass
the special one

Putin gave him
Tymoshenko whispers to the crows

say to my countrymen
they must eat
the presidents linen napkins his best napkins twisted
in swan shapes
say to them

the golden bath
the gilt framed selfie
the bullion weight

of bullshit
the palace itself must be
say also to my daughter

shield maiden of these times
there are letters to be written in the blood of our heroes

folded in tear gas & a hungry future
between the dungeon & power
the path
a blades edge


Estill Pollock

Monkey Subdues the WhiteBoned Demon

Pussy Riot
in Sochi

they leap
by Winter Olympics hoarding
Putin will free the motherland
cossacks wade in
pepper spray Nadezhda

beat her with a crop
she yelps

where are our freedoms
federation thugs now beating the others
wrenching arms
a guitar kicked across the pavement
but wouldnt break
Nadyas friend
at the crowds edge unnoticed
taps his iPhone app
pings to Youtube
so quick
goons still smirking as a million watch
in the throne room Putin says
white as bones

these games are mine
blinks through acid tears

where are our freedoms

our lives are in the cloud


Sabrina Bertsch received her Bachelor of Art
in photography in 1999 after an impressive
student career including national publication
in both her photography and poetry, receiving
the highly prestigious Marjorie DeFriece
Scholarship for excellence in art among other
visual arts scholarships and exhibits. After
years spent living in Philadelphia, New Mexico,
Tennessee, and Virginia, Sabrina currently
resides in New Jersey. She is completing her
Masters of the Art of Teaching while working
on her first biographical work concerning her
daughters depression as well as a new series
of self-portraits that deal with her personal
emotional conflicts.

has published nonfiction online for Mothering

magazine. She lives in northwest Arkansas
where she teaches English Composition,
gardens, and raises two delightful children.
Emily Frankenberg is an American writer and
English teacher residing in Seville, Spain. She
writes in both English and Spanish. Her work
is forthcoming in Strong Verse and Typehouse
Literary Magazine. She was also chosen as a
finalist in the poetry contest held by Editorial
Zen (Colombia).
In addition to being a loving father and
husband, Aaron Gansky is a novelist, teacher,
and founder and editor of The Citron Review,
an online literary journal. In 2009, he earned
his MFA in Fiction at the prestigious Antioch
University of Los Angeles, one of the top five
low-residency writing schools in the nation. He
is the author of the novel The Bargain (2013,
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) as well
as Firsts in Fiction: First Lines and (with Diane
Sherlock) Write to Be Heard. His first YA fantasy
novel is due out in February of 2015 from
Brimstone Fiction.

John Brantingham is an English professor

and the director of the creative writing
program at Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut,
California, the writer-in-residence at the dA
Center for Cultural Arts, Pomona, California,
an instructor at the Northwest Institute
of Literary Arts, and the president of the
San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival. He has
published hundreds of poems and short stories
in the United States and abroad. His books
include the poetry collection, The Green of
Sunset, and the short story collection, Let Us All
Pray Now to Our Own Strange Gods.

Michael Gentry lives and works in Eastern

Idaho. He received a B.S. in English Education
from Brigham Young University-Idaho, an
M.F.A. in Creative Writing from National, and
an Ed.D. in Education from the University of
Idaho. Michael teaches basic writing courses
at BYU-Idaho. His work has been published
or is forthcoming in Animal Literary Magazine,
The Casserole, and Outside In Literary and Travel

Nancy Dillon has an MFA in Sculpture, and

works as a web developer.You can find her at where she publishes
personal essays and other non-fiction work.
Bethany Fitzpatrick has an MA from the
University of Arkansas where she studied
English literature, creative writing, and
ecofeminism. She has had poems published
in Exposure, Babel fruit, and Cliterature. She

Tim Hatchs poetry has been published in

Creepy Gnome, MungBeing, East Jasmine Review,
The Pacific Review, The Vehicle, Touch: The Journal
Of Healing, and he is the recipient of the 2014
Felix Valdez Award.
He lives inside a volcano carved into the
calcified bark of an ancient redwood tree, and
he finds writing about himself in the third
person to be an overtly seductive invitation to
tell lies.
He has a dog.

Stories. His website is at

Kristin Laurel is employed as an ED nurse
and flight nurse. She owes her passion to
poetry to The Loft Literary Center where
she has been taking writing classes for
the past eight years and completed a twoyear immersion program in poetry. Recent
publications can be seen in CALYX, The Raleigh
Review, The Mom Egg, Grey Sparrow, Lake Region
Review among others. Her first full-length book,
Giving Them All Away, won the Sinclair Poetry
Prize from Evening Street Press.

Holly Jensens work had appeared in Pank

Magazine, Pear Noir! and the Midwest Quarterly.
Selected Timelines: Past and Future is
forthcoming from Neon Books. She lives in

Dan Leach was born in Greenville, SC,

graduated from Clemson University in 2008,
and taught in Charleston until 2014 when
he relocated to Nebraska. His short fiction
has appeared in The New Madrid Review, Deep
South Magazine, Two Bridges Review, Storm Cellar,
Drafthorse, and elsewhere. His poetry has
appeared in Off the Coast, Star 82 Review, SN
Review, and elsewhere. He is currently at work
on his first novel.

Pepper Jones is a philosophy student at

EKU, whose hobbies include photography
and creative writing. She believes that the
greatest and most beautiful art is found not in
museums, but in the world around us. She lives
in Kentucky with her husband, Bryan, and their
two cats, Po and LK.
Sheng Kao is a sixteen year old poet. Words
have been her companion for over a decade.
Sheng lives in southwest Virginia with a queer
pantheon of friends, constantly dreaming but
never sleeping.

Jae Lee is a student currently attending New

York University and has never been published
before, but has have won a number of creative
writing and poetry awards in the past.
Kimberly McClintock is the recipient of
a Larry Levis Post-Graduate Fellowship
from Warren Wilson Colleges MFA Alumni
Association. Her work has appeared or is
forthcoming in: Glassworks, Birds Thumb,
Mountain Gazette, Chatahoochee Review, The Poets
Attic and Wazee. After many years by the ocean
in New Jersey and a few around the corner
from Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia,
Kimberly currently resides on the Front Range
in Colorado.

Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, Virginia, with

his wife Kendall and their son Alan. Famous
Last Words comes from a manuscript that
hes been working on for 15 years. Additional
poems from this manuscript have been
published in magazines such as Cortland Review
and Big River, and most recently in Now and
Then, Sows Ear, Decades Review, and San Pedro
River Review.
Robert Laughlin lives in Chico, California.
His Men at Work stories will be collected for
book publication at a later date. Apart from
the Men at Work series, Mr. Laughlin has
published over 100 short stories, two of which
are story South Million Writers Award Notable

Esther McPhee is a genderqueer writer,

magic-maker and collective organizer, who
lives in a cozy collective house and reads a
lot of kids books. They co-organize a queer
reading series on unceded Coast Salish land

Petrichor Review, Prick of the Spindle, Storyacious,

Thought Catalog, theNewerYork, and Vine Leaves.
Hes a writer and photographer and lives
near Jacksonville, Florida. His blog is at www.

and hold an MFA in Creative Writing from the

University of British Columbia.
Jay Merill is published in the current issues
of Anomalous Press, Citron Review, Corium and
SmokeLong Quarterly. Stories have appeared
recently or are forthcoming in Night Train,
Spork, Eunoia Review, The Legendary, Blue Lake
Review and Vine Leaves Press. Jay is the author of
two short story collections Astral Bodies (Salt,
2007) and God of the Pigeons (Salt, 2010) and
has been nominated for the Frank OConnor
Award. Her story As Birds Fly won the Salt
Short Story Prize and is included in the Salt
Anthology of New Writing, 2013. She has an
award from Arts Council England and is Writer
in Residence at Women in Publishing.

Cal Louise Phoenix is an undergraduate

student and tutor at Washburn University in
Topeka, Kansas. Some of her hobbies include
watching British period dramas, cooking, and
stirring socially-conscious debate. Her poetry
has most recently been featured in FLARE,
Inscape, and seveneightfive.
Estill Pollocks publications include the book
cycles Blackwater Quartet (Kittiwake 2005) and
Relic Environments Trilogy (Cinnamon Press
2011). Recent anthology contributions include
Sylvia is Missing (Flarestack Poets 2013) and
Newspaper Taxis: Poetry after the Beatles (Seren

Jim Neal was born to a gravedigger and a

housekeeper and raised on the banks of a
muddy, man-made lake in rural Missouri. He
is the author of Farewell to Hot Water, a novel
published under the cooperative model of
The Peoples Ink, an independent writers
community. Jim lives in Portland, Oregon, with
my wife and young daughter.

J.C. Reilly is author of the chapbook La

Petite Mort and a 25% co-author of a recent
collection of occasional poetry, On Occasion:
Four Poets, One Year. Her work has recently
appeared in Kentucky Review, Fly Over Country
Review, Dirty Chai, and Deltona Howl. She lives
in Atlanta with her husband, three cats, and a
sticky-fingered ghost.

Jim OLeary has been writing for fifteen years.

His venue is the short story, and he pares his
stories down as much as possible so they will
be true and accurate.

John Roth is currently enrolled as a first year

student in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine
Arts in Creative Writing Program. His poems
have appeared in The Orange Room Review, The
Eunoia Review, Toasted Cheese, and Birds Thumb,
among others.

A.N. Padrn is an undergraduate Creative

Writing student at Florida State University.
Danielle Pappo is a poet and an aspiring
teacher living on Capitol Hill in Seattle.
Matthew David Perez is a writer and
whale enthusiast, as well as a graduate of the
University of Washingtons MFA program. He
lives in Seattle.

Ray Scanlon. Massachusetts boy. Has

grandchildren. Extraordinarily lucky.
Recovering assembly language programmer.
Not averse to litotes. No MFA. No novel. No
extrovert. Twitter: @oldmanscanlon. On the

Dave Petraglia has appeared in Popular Science,

Popular Mechanics, Better Homes & Gardens; more
recently in Agave, Apeiron Review, Cactus Heart,
Crack the Spine, Dark Matter, eFiction India,
Far Enough East, Gravel, Loco, Olivetree Review,

Carol Shillibeer lives on the west coast of

Canada. Her publication list and contact
information is at

Kasey Thornton is an aspiring writer seeking

an MFA in Creative Writing from UNCWilmington. Kasey was born and raised in
North Carolina.
Emily Claire Utley is earning her MFA in
Creative Writing through Carlow University.
She lives and works in North Carolina.
Charles Thielman: Born and raised in
Charleston, S.C., moved to Chicago, educated
at red-bricked universities and on city streets, I
have enjoyed working as a social worker, truck
driver, city bus driver and enthused bookstore
Married on a Kauai beach in 2011, a loving
Grandfather for five free spirits, my work
as Poet, Artiste and shareholder in an
independent Bookstores collective continues!
Several of my paintings and drawings are, or
have been, featured in galleries and cafes. All
that I perceive becomes driftwood fed to the
kiln of my creativity.
Emily Wong is a writer/editor in Chicago,
where she spends her time investigating
deviations at a pharmaceutical company and
playing fetch with her one-eyed Shih Tzu,
Gatsby. She is pleased to say that, a mere eight
years after receiving her MFA in poetry, she has
finally found her voice.
Kathleen Woods is an MFA candidate at the
University of Colorado at Boulder, where she
teaches and serves as the assistant editor for
Timber Journal. Her work has appeared in Art
Faccia, Paragraphiti, Paper Tape, and Cavalcade
Literary Magazine.



Apeiron Review

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