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RIDING LIGHT

ISSUE 6 FALL 2015

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you
everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

Riding Light
Fall 2015

The Riding Light Review

A sixteen-year-old boy once imagined riding on a beam of light,
and his simple thought experiment played an important role
that would later change the world—it ushered in the age of
modern physics. This boy was Albert Einstein.
Einstein‘s use of imagination fueled his work in physics, which
eventually lead to his famous 1905 papers on Special Relativity.
Riding Light emerged out of a desire to push the boundaries of
creativity through language, ideas, and story. We believe in the
power of imagination, the fuel for our ideas and innovation.
This notion inspired the name of our magazine.

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Masthead
Editor in Chief
Cyn C. Bermudez
Associate Editor, Fiction and Nonfiction
Melissa Raé Shofner
Associate Editor, Fiction and Nonfiction
Yvonne Morales Lau
Associate Editor, Poetry
Kara Donovan
Junior Copy Editor
Sophie Eden
Readers
Jamie Hoang
© 2015 The Riding Light Review ISSN 2334-251X
This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any
form without permission from individual authors or artists. The
scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the
Internet or any other means without permission of the
author(s) or artist(s) is illegal.

www.ridinglight.org

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CONTENT
EDITORIAL
Art
ARTISTS
COVER ART
Ramya Raghavendra
INTERIOR ART
Caitlin Crowley
COSTA DYSTOPIA
Nick Sweeney
Fiction
A BUNCH OF US WERE STANDING ON THE STEPS
Kiley Reid
Photography by Caitlin Crowley
THE FIELD BEHIND HIS HOUSES
Megan Paske
Photography by Jéanpaul Ferro
THE HONEY TREE
B.L. Draper
Photography by Caitlin Crowley
JELLY FISH
Jeannie Galeazzi
Photography by Caitlin Crowley

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ONE BOY’S TROUBLE
Joe Giordano
Photography by Caitlin Crowley
Poetry
MUDROSES
Bob West
HIKING 7 NATIONAL PARKS IN 10 DAYS, INDIAN
TACOS FOR SALE, & SELFIES AGAINST SEDIMENT
Carol Hamilton
THIS IS EVERY LOVE STORY EVER TOLD, DARK
HORSE, & PETALS
Lana Bell
THE NIGHT WATCHMEN & DRUNKEN PINE
PARK
James Cushing
A CYNICAL STOIC OF QUESTIONABLE HONOR
Colin James

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EDITORIAL
This year my daughter and I (and my grandbaby) are spending
Thanksgiving alone. I’m cooking for us, a classic Thanksgiving
dinner, albeit a mini version. Since it’s just the three of us, we are
going to celebrate with a Twilight Zone marathon instead of the
usual football game that I know my brothers will be watching.
I’ll miss my family for sure, but we will be with each other in
spirit. How are you celebrating Thanksgiving?
Welcome to our second fall issue, a literary and visual feast.
Check out this lovely edition in-between turkey and pie. We have
original fiction by Kiley Reid (“A Bunch Of Us Were Standing
On the Steps”), Megan Paske (“The Field Behind His House”),
B.L. Draper (“The Honey Tree”), Jeannie Galeazzi (“Jelly Fish”),
and Joe Giordano (“One Boy’s Trouble”). We also have poetry
by Bob West, Carol Hamilton, Lana Bell, James Cushing, and
Colin James, and photography by Nick Sweeney, Caitlin
Crowley, and Jéanpaul Ferro.
Enjoy!
All of us at The Riding Light Review wish all of you a safe and
Happy Thanksgiving.

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ARTISTS
Cover Art
Ramya Raghavendra is a computer scientist and world
traveler. She currently resides in New York. The cover photo
was taken during Ramya's travels through Southeast Asia:
beautiful papier-mâché lampshades from local handmade paper
displayed at the Night Market in Luang Prabang.
Photography Feature – Costa Dystopia
Nick Sweeney takes too many photos hoping some of them
will work, eventually. Laikonik Express, his novel about
friendship, Poland, vodka, and getting on the train for the hell
of it, was published by Unthank Books in 2011. Much of his
work reflects his fascination with Eastern Europe and its
people and history. He is a freelance writer and guitarist with
Balkan Troubadours, the Trans-Siberian March Band. His
story, ―Traffic,‖ won second place in the 2015 V.S. Pritchett
Memorial Prize competition. Some of his photos can be seen at
nicksweeny.phanfare.com, with the password skwarepeg.

Interior Art
Caitlin Crowley is a film and darkroom photographer based
out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Caitlin graduated from the
University of Saint Francis with a degree in Studio Art. In
addition to photography, Caitlin enjoys painting, running,
extreme roller-skating, and sushi.

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The Riding Light Review
Art and Literature

ridinglight.org

Art by Isabella Kelly-Ramirez

We believe in the power of imagination.

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A BUNCH OF US WERE STANDING ON THE
STEPS
Kiley Reid
Margaret meets Ethan when he asks her to dig into his front
pocket and grab his keys. In his arms is a girl with bootleg
vomit and a delayed right eye. She keeps saying, ―It's not even
like that.‖
Margaret hears him fine but says loudly—so everyone can
hear—―You want me to what?‖
"It's cool. Don‘t be weird,‖ Ethan assures her. His mouth is
sneaky and cute. He points to the girl in his arms. ―This is my
cousin. You're really pretty."
She'll never see his cousin again. Not because she died or
anything; she went to Community College. But she will see
Ethan when he takes her to the first and only scary movie she'll
ever enjoy.
Ethan smells like the good kind of tobacco. He touches her
right amount. None of his shirts say anything.
In his car, Margaret pretends to be nervous to meet his family.
Ethan warns her for the fourth time that, ―They can be a little
… much." She tries not to love them already.
His brother has a child. His sister has a tattoo. His dad can't
dance. His mom loves Michelle Obama. No one is even a little
bit much. They are boring and nice and Margaret lets herself
fall into them.

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Margaret bends and spots purple crayon drawn underneath the
table. A sentence written in cursive script says you ruin my birthday
every day of my life.
Then they are everywhere.
Is this yours? It’s fucking disgusting is scrawled in a pink post-it at the
back of the fireplace.
Black hairs stuck to the bottom of the bathtub ask, what do you
mean you’ve never held a baby.
In the wicker fruit basket, written with a black sharpie on a
banana, it says who the fuck is Becca?!
Margaret sits next to Ethan’s grandmother as his father acts out
the Titanic in a game of charades. Everyone says aloud, “One
word. Three syllables.”
She remembers how many girls she stood with when Ethan
asked just her to dig into his front pocket. Even Madison was
there. And she was doing that thing where she showed everyone
her belly button and complained that she couldn’t get a piercing
because the guy at the shop said she had no skin to grab, see?
Margaret turns to Ethan’s grandmother and pushes the hair
behind her ear even further behind her ear. She says loudly, “Are
you having a nice time?
“Eggs.” Ethan’s grandmother attempts a mislaid smile. She
holds up a thousand-year-old finger to say, “But what’s
important is what I’m having for dinner. Pasta.”

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Kiley Reid lives and writes in New York City. She thinks it's
funny how you think you can say all these things about her like
she won't find out about it.

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MUDROSES
Bob West
The storm jumps a shivering bird away from one centrifugal
sunburnt cloud leaving the light to push through lost objects
picayune goblin tracks on anything white The roses are upright
but covered in mud mothers ruined by newer perfection

Bow West lives in north Florida where he writes poems and
short prose pieces, some of which have been published in
Gravel, The Bitter Oleander and The Beloit Poetry Journal
among other publications.

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THE FIELD BEHIND HIS HOUSE
Megan Paske

He spent most of his tenth summer in the field behind his
house. He explored every inch of it, sometimes roaming along
the train tracks that bordered it. He picked up stones he found
interesting, waiting to boil them later—in secret, or he would
get a beating for wasting water and electricity. He found every
reason he could to stay outside, even in the rain and the wind,
and as far away from home as he could.
It was not until his eleventh summer that he found her. The
fawn had been there for a few days. Rigor had started to set in a
day or two before and by the time he discovered her wilting
carcass, she had already begun to deflate. He named her Lily;
she lay still and unloved in an untended, unruly bed of Tiger
Lilies. Waiting to be taken back to the earth. He vowed to take
care of her. He visited her every day, sitting next to her and
willing her back to life. He knew she would never come back,
but he kept the hope that she sensed she was no longer alone.
No longer abandoned.
He was not sure if she really was a she, but that is how he
wanted her to be. Lily, his fawn. He spent hours next to her; he
read to her out of his library books. The rare occasions on
which his father allowed him to ride his bike to the library
downtown, three miles off, he chose books he thought she
would want to hear.
Sometimes he sang to her. Sometimes he laid down next to her
and dreamt he was drifting into the next world in which he
knew she was dancing. The smell did not bother him. Her
lifelessness to him seemed less than that of death, and more of
peace and rest.
The summer before, the day his cheek was broken and his tears
ran down, mixing with the blood and stinging his open sores,
he ran as far into the field as he could. Every day after, he
longed for a friend. This summer he found her, and she became
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his obsession. She comforted him, even in the rain and the
wind. She remained motionless, yet full of the only empathy he
ever received.
He roamed the tracks, picking up rocks, yet instead of bringing
them home to boil, he brought them to her. He built her a
shrine and laid each one with intent and love.
The days passed too quickly. The books were read over and
over, until he could not bear to turn back to the first page. He
wept silently next to his little, shriveling friend. He feared for
the day she may disappear completely, but until that day he
swore to himself and to Lily he would faithfully keep her safe.
Away from the turkey vultures and crows. And she kept him
safe, in her own way. She kept him away from his father and
broken cheeks and bloody tears.
He slowly watched the maggots come and steal pieces of his
friend. Those days, he left her earlier. He could not bear to see
his lovely friend being betrayed by the living earth. Before dusk
he would return home.
Home remained the tomb it always had been. He walked in the
back door quietly, wishing his steps to be silent and not wake
his father up. For he knew that without his Lily by his side, he
had no friend to comfort the impending bruises that would
form. The nights were the longest. He crept into his bedroom
and slipped in his earbuds. Listening to his jazz music and long
forgotten blues. Ignoring the knowledge that his father would
soon wake up.
The last day of the summer, he made a mistake. He left a library
book on the table—one that was overdue. It was a story he had
read to Lily countless times and he knew the moment he
walked into the kitchen that he would never again have the
chance to read it to her. He had it memorized, but suddenly the
words escaped him. They were thrown out of him with the
smack across his face. His father broadsided him with the
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book. It went flying across the room and fell in a crumpled
heap in the corner.
His face immediately began to burn, and he knew the bruises
would come soon. Without thought to the consequences, he
ignored his father‘s screams and went for the book. His father
grabbed him by the arm and he heard the snap. Pain shot
through every inch of his body and he screamed silently. Tears
welled up in his eyes and he fought the urge to fall. He
remained standing. His arm, now contorted, lay as lifeless as his
fawn in his father‘s grip.
After the emergency room, after the excuses his father gave the
nurses and the doctor, and after the cast was set and they were
back home, he waited for his father to go to sleep. He wanted
one last chance to see her. He left through the back door, not
caring then if he woke up his father. He closed the door behind
him.
He ran back to the field behind his house.
Megan Paske lives with her husband in Neenah, Wisconsin.
She studied Journalism at UW Madison and was published in
various newspapers as a columnist. She and her husband coauthored a story in Marathon and Beyond. Her fiction writing has
been featured in The Fable Online, Buck Off Magazine, and will be
included in the January issue of Forge Journal.

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THE HONEY TREE
B. L. Draper
I have always loved the honey tree. Tall and brown-barked, its
leaves little more than a memory, the honey tree stands on the
crest of the hill behind our farm. Though it appears dead and
lifeless to the uninitiated, those who take the time to look
closer will learn its secret. It is a palace of the bees.
Every evening I watch it, when other chores do not claim me. I
sit nearby and observe the bees as they work and wander and
leave and return. They work to a pattern, though a casual
observer would not perceive it. They leave at dawn for an hour
or two, then return, flying slower than they left, as if burdened.
Others depart in their stead. This process goes on every day, all
day. In winter, a wary person, a quiet person, may approach
their palace and extract a portion of their treasure: honeycomb,
dripping and golden.
My life became entangled with their rhythm; the life of an
unhappy farm girl against the life of the honey tree. I was
unhappy because a square peg in a round hole will always be
unhappy. Though born to a farming family, those who tilled
the soil and ate their produce and were proud of the dirt under
their fingernails, I longed for different things. I dreamed of
reading and writing and music and theatre, like my mother had
in a former life.
She was born to a noble family. Her parents—my
grandparents—had money and thus had access to the life for
which I craved. My mother had left it all behind her for the
simple life of a farmer‘s wife. For love. I did not blame her for
her choice, as it was hers to make, but a part of me blamed her
for telling me about that world. She taught me to read, gave me
the precious books she brought with her to this life of the soil.
Many rainy days were spent with her telling me stories of plays
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and balls and music—until I thought my heart would burst
with the image of them.
I know she meant well, but all she did was make me unhappy.
How could a life of digging furrows and harvesting plants
satisfy me now? So I spent my days watching the honey tree
and daydreaming of other lives and other pleasures.
I also cultivated a grim picture amongst the other farming
families. They called me difficult, and despondent, and
depressing. But how could I pretend to be happy when I knew
what I was missing?
―How can you not be proud of your family?‖ my father would
ask. And my heart ached at the wounded look in his eyes.
―I am proud of you, papa,‖ I would answer. ―I just want more.‖
He didn‘t understand, and neither did my mother, who was
happy in her new life. She loved my father with all her soul. No
wonder music or literature could not compete. But I had not
been given that choice to make. So I remained unhappy—and
unloved—until my thirtieth year, when Beebeard appeared.
I spent the morning milking the goats, tending the sheep, and
tilling the far field in preparation for the spring planting. In the
early evening, I escaped to the honey tree. The bees were lazier
in winter; their droning hum seemed deeper, reverberating
through my body. I lolled on the bracken at the base of the tree
and gazed upward as the bees flew to and fro above me. Soon
the light began to dim, and I wished them goodnight and
headed for home.
My parents had a visitor—a new and strange visitor that I had
never seen before.
―Rose, come and meet the baron. He has come to buy two of
our spring lambs.‖ My father‘s words were polite, but I heard
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the warning tone behind them. And as I appraised our guest, I
understood why.
The baron wore a beard of bees; live bees. They buzzed and
crawled over his lower face like a living growth. Never still,
their movement fascinated me to the point that I barely
remembered to curtsy before our noble guest. When I drew my
eyes away from the bees, I found myself pierced by two green
eyes staring out at me.
―Please, sir, call me Beebeard. Everybody does.‖ His eyes
crinkled at the corners, and his lips slanted upward in a wry
smile. And though he spoke to my father, as custom dictated,
Beebeard‘s eyes never left my face.
That visit began an odd love story. Beebeard regularly visited
our farm; first to choose his pick of our lambs, then to buy a
hen, then to pick through our crop of potatoes. Each time he
visited, he would bring me a gift: a flower, a confectionary, a
ribbon.
After the third visit, my parents excused themselves and left us
alone. That was when I understood that they were permitting
the courtship. Of course, who could blame them? A thirty–
year-old daughter with the reputation for being unhappy does
not make for a good farmer‘s wife. Beebeard‘s intentions were
clear, and so were my parents‘. A beard of bees was odd, but
not odd enough to halt the pairing. There was little I could do.
At a loss for what to say to the man, I took him to the honey
tree. As he gazed at the bare branches and caught sight of the
buzzing tenants, I again saw his green eyes crinkle and his
slanted mouth glint with strong white teeth. I understood then
that Beebeard shared my love of the bees and the honey tree.
That was when I began to fall in love with him.
We were wed in the spring. I wore a mantle of heather, and my
husband wore his beard of bees. We must have been an odd
23

sight: the bride and her buzzing groom. Was I marrying the
man or the bees? I liked to think it was both. Afterward, my
mother wept and made sure I took her books with me. She
hugged me and told me to be a faithful and loving wife. I
responded that I would try.
My father kissed my cheek and told me that I should be happy;
I would no longer have to till the soil or live the simple life of a
farmer. His words both pleased and saddened me as he was
right. I wouldn‘t miss digging in the dirt, but I would miss him,
and my brothers and sisters, and my mother, and our time
together. I kissed him back and turned to follow the gentle
buzzing of my husband.
We walked for many miles. My feet ached in their new wedding
shoes. We walked and walked, through the town and out the
other side, until I felt I would fall down and never rise again.
Just when I thought I couldn‘t take another step, lights
appeared. As we drew closer, a huge building loomed before us,
five times the size of the house I had grown up in.
―Welcome to your new home,‖ said my husband. And life from
that moment could not have been more different from my
previous life as a farm girl.
That night became a blur as Beebeard took me from room to
room. There was a library—an incredible library—with books
upon books from floor to ceiling. There was a ballroom so vast
I could barely see across it. One room was dedicated solely to
music, with oddly shaped instruments and page after page of
strange symbols my new husband assured me held the secret of
melody. There was a kitchen, a cloakroom, a dining room, a
study; there were so many rooms and hallways that I knew
I would spend the first week getting lost.
One room, however, I would not forget. Beebeard finally stood
before another huge wooden door. This one differed from the
24

others by featuring a large brass lock. ―This is the one room
you must never enter.‖
―But what‘s in there?‖
―Nothing!‖ His voice was harsher than I had ever heard it. ―It
is private and you must never enter it. That is all you need
know.‖ He turned and headed down the hallway, and I
followed him. My curiosity was aroused, of course, but with a
library to keep me busy, one mysterious forbidden room did
not concern me for long.
Finally, my new husband led me to our bedroom. It was
luxurious beyond imagining. The enormous bed was piled with
furs and cushions and silken coverlets. The floor was strewn
with rose petals and lavender, and I wondered whether
Beebeard himself had tended to this task or engaged some yet
unseen servant.
―Here is your bedroom.‖
―Don‘t you mean our bedroom?‖ My boldness masked the
nervousness I felt.
―No. I will sleep . . . elsewhere. I will see you at breakfast.‖
With a swirl of his cloak and a final hum from his beard, my
husband disappeared out the door, and I faced my first night as
a married woman alone.
This began a pattern that defined my new life. Each morning
began by breakfasting with Beebeard; we feasted on bread and
honey from his own hives, all served by a dour servant. The
rest of the day was spent wandering my new home, reading in
the library, or exploring the extensive gardens. Sometimes I was
alone, but often my husband accompanied me. He showed me
his hives, the thrumming of his beard of bees always loudest
when amongst them. The gardens were full of colorful blooms,
and my husband shared tales of each one: its provenance, its
25

healing properties, and its meaning according to herb lore. His
tales often made me laugh, and I loved the way his green eyes
crinkled and his white teeth flashed beneath his mobile beard.
The library was full of treasures, which at times I read alone,
curled in a comfortable chair. Other days, Beebeard read to me
from a favorite tome; everything from comedy that had us
giggling to a tragedy that often had us both wiping the tears
from our eyes.
The evenings, after supper, were often spent in the music
room, where Beebeard would play for me. I had never heard
much music beyond that played at harvest festivals, and my
new husband‘s talents would keep me spellbound, listening
until late into the night.
No matter the hour, however, Beebeard would always leave me
at my bedroom door, where I would slip into our huge bed
alone. I would spend hours going over our time together,
remembering his smile and how his mouth slanted upward in
amusement and the way his eyes crinkled at the corners. The
image of his deft fingers turning the pages of a book or sliding
along a musical instrument would raise aches deep inside me
that I was never able to rid myself of. I knew that each day I
loved him more and more. Eventually I dreaded the hour of
our parting and began to wonder where he spent his nights. I
believed I knew and began to be obsessed by what was behind
the forbidden door.
One morning, as we breakfasted on honey and bread, Beebeard
told me he would be away for the day.
―I must visit the merchants in town and take care of some
business. I will return to dine with you. Enjoy the day.‖ He
bowed toward me and left. I knew that my chance had finally
come. The previous week I had discovered a large brass key in
the music room, kept in the chest that housed the sheets of
music. I guessed at once that it opened the brass lock of the
26

forbidden door and had been biding my time for the perfect
opportunity to use it. As soon as Beebeard had left the house, I
raced to the music room to retrieve the key. Feeling like a thief,
I stole down the long corridor until I stood before the locked
room.
My hands were shaking so much that I dropped the key several
times before I managed to insert it in the keyhole. At first I
thought it wouldn‘t turn, but it did so easily; obviously this
door was unlocked often. Could this truly be where my
husband spent his nights as I lay alone in our marriage bed? All
was darkness and shadows as I entered; my small candle doing
little to dispel the dark shapes dancing around the walls and
ceiling. I spied a sconce on the wall and held my flame to it
until it caught alight, and the room was revealed.
I couldn‘t understand what I was seeing. A huge bed, as large as
the one I slept in alone, lay in the middle of the room, piled
with cushions and silken sheets. Strewn across it were
clothes—dresses, skirts, blouses. I reached out and ran my
fingers along their finery. Satin, lace, velvet, fur. My fingers
traced an ecstasy of softness and texture that I had only
dreamed about.
I wandered across to the huge closet and peered into its depths.
More clothing hung there, as dazzling and feminine as that
which covered the bed. In a daze, I moved to the dresser that
dominated the far wall. Small containers covered its surface.
Delicate glass boxes, etched with roses and birds, and brightly
painted wooden chests. Opening their lids, I found piles of
precious jewels, chains of pearls, and curling ribbons. Ornate
glass bottles were scattered amongst the treasure, the scent of
lilies and musk tickling my nose.
Why would my husband hide these treasures? What could he
want with them? Why did he lock himself here, away from me
each night? I could think of only one reason, and it made me
ache. Before we wed, he must have loved another. These
27

were her belongings, her memories. He could not face
consummating our love and preferred instead to spend his time
lost in tender reminiscing.
I had spent so much effort to win his love. But all along I had
been beating against a heart that was closed to me because it
belonged to another. I understood now why he had forbade me
enter this room. The secret he held so dear would make all
clear to me; that my husband‘s heart could never be mine. In
misery, I sat on the end of the bed that I would never share,
amongst the silken gowns I would never wear, and I wept in
time to the beating of my breaking heart.
I heard faint footsteps approaching, but so sunken in misery
was I that I did not move. I sensed a presence enter the room
and knew from the gentle buzzing that Beebeard stood before
me. Gathering myself, I raised my eyes until I stared straight
into his.
―I told you this room was never to be entered.‖
―Yes, you did. But you never told me why. I love you, I want to
share your secrets. So here I am.‖ I wiped the tears from my
eyes and stood to face him. ―Now I understand why you don‘t
love me. Why you never can love me. I will try and be satisfied
with this life. And your room will be your own again.‖
I turned to leave but was brought to a standstill by Beebeard‘s
hand roughly grabbing my arm.
―What do you mean I don‘t love you? Now that you know my
secret, you no longer love me. That is what you mean. Admit
it!‖
His eyes glared at me and his beard of bees raised its humming
as if in sympathy. His fingers dug into my arm so deeply that I
cried out. Immediately he let me go, and I staggered away from
him.
28

―Not love you? This secret only makes me love you more!‖
I stared at him and he at me. We were locked in a battle that I
little understood.
―Tell me,‖ his voice was low. ―Tell me the secret you think you
know.‖
I dropped my eyes to the floor; staring into his green eyes only
raised the ache in my heart. ―You love another. You would
prefer to spend your nights here, amongst her belongings, her
memories. A simple farm girl could never replace the love of
which you were denied. I can hardly blame you for your
deception.‖
Beebeard‘s hand reached out and tenderly caressed my face.
His fingers gently raised my chin until our eyes once again met.
To my surprise, a wry smile was in place beneath the living
beard.
―Silly girl. I have loved but once in my life. She is a farm girl,
true, but in no way is she simple. These belongings you see
here,‖ his hand waved around the room, ―they belong to me.
They are me. For I have deceived you, but it is not that I love
another. It is that I am not a man.‖
I blinked. ―You love me? These are yours? You aren‘t a man?‖
I felt stupid to echo him, but I struggled to understand his
words.
Beebeard sighed and sat heavily upon the bed, and I sank down
beside him. He stared down at the floor, and I gazed at his
profile as he related his story.
―I am a woman. My father had no sons to inherit his title, so he
raised me as a boy. We both knew that his lands and title would
be stripped from me, a mere woman, upon his death, so we
took steps to ensure that nobody knew the secret. When I was
a child, I tended the hives. It happened almost by accident the
29

first time; the bees were as drawn to me as I was to them.
Eventually wearing the beard seemed natural. I have always
dressed as a man in public, but in private . . .‖ Beebeard
shrugged. ―I wanted to feel like a woman. I wanted to feel
beautiful and feminine. The only place I can do that is behind a
locked door.‖
My heart ached anew for all that he—she—had been through.
To deny how you were born would be difficult beyond my
imagination. ―So you took a wife to allay suspicion.‖
―No!‖ The anger behind that word surprised me. ―There was
no need for me to wed; plenty of men do not. It wasn‘t until I
met you that I ever craved the company of another. Your
kindness, your intelligence . . . I was drawn to you. Then when
you took me to the honey tree I knew that I wanted to share
my life with you. You love the bees.‖
Finally, Beebeard looked up and her eyes met mine. Staring into
those eyes, I remembered our conversations, our long walks
through the gardens, our shared books and beautiful music, and
I knew that for me nothing had changed.
―I knew I loved you from the moment I showed you the honey
tree. I loved you as a man, as my husband. Nothing has
changed now that I know your secret. I love you. Whether you
are my husband or my wife.‖
Beebeard‘s head tilted as she gazed at me. After a few moments
of silence, she waved a hand across her face and murmured
something too low for me to catch. Her beard shifted, and the
buzzing grew so loud my ears echoed with it
The bees rose in a cloud. A tornado of yellow and black
whirled before me then disappeared as suddenly as it arrived.
The face the bees left behind was strange yet familiar. The
green eyes, the slant of those lips; they were as known and
beloved to me as my own features. Where the bees had been,
30

there was nothing but smooth skin. My hand stretched to trace
its softness.
Her fingers wrapped themselves around mine, and I knew that
I was home.

B. L. Draper lives in northern Australia where she teaches
children about our world by day and writes tales about other
worlds by night. She has stories published by Gone Lawn and
Youth Imagination magazine and hopes one day to complete her
novel before she‘s too senile to enjoy it. She can be found
online at bldraper.com.

31

THREE POEMS by CAROL HAMILTON
HIKING 7 NATIONAL PARKS IN 10 DAYS
Millions of years upthrust
eroded down to our steps
somewhere between red sediment
against sky and gravity
We see how brief we are
but cannot grasp
the hair-breath of our being
New pains from those days
mean nothing The piled-up mail
tells a different story
one of how things fall apart
in my absence how
despite all I have seen
everything exists in the nanosecond
In the end the truth
remains tongue-tied

32

INDIAN TACOS FOR SALE
Outside my idling moment,
a pink tagboard, soggy with the rains
and black marker strokes fuzzy,
sits on a grassy corner
beside the stoplight:
Fridays 4-7:30. There beneath
the metal Warning: Electical Wires Buried
sign? Where stop? A quick cash exchange
out the passenger window
before the light turns?
Today is only Wednesday, the day
that promises temporary relief ahead.
I say a short prayer
that this venture works,
some ready money
before a new week begins,
a little hope for somebody.

33

SELFIES AGAINST SEDIMENT
I stop to take photos
only to breathe a moment
against the vigor of the younger.
Millions and millions and millions
of years gape here in open wounds
all around us, carmine, vermillion,
golden, aflame with light
and impossible time.
Gasps and inner-rebellion
at our own insignificance
do not serve the moment.
She holds up her extended stick,
snaps her own photo there,
proof against this possible loss
of all self. All I can do
is to position
my borrowed walking stick
to take one more safe step.
Carol Hamilton taught second grade through university
graduate classes in Connecticut, Indiana, and Oklahoma. She
received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of
Central Oklahoma and won a Southwest Book Award,
Oklahoma Book Award, Cherubim Award, Pegasus Award,
Chiron Review Chapbook Award, David Ray Poetry Prize, and
a Byline Literary Award for both short story and poetry. She
also won a Warren Keith Poetry Prize. Carol has published
seventeen books and has poetry published in various journals:
Christian Science Monitor, New York Quarterly, Poet Lore, Atlanta
Review, and more. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma
and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize five times.

34

COSTA DYSTOPIA
Nick Sweeney

THREE POEMS by LANA BELLA
THIS IS EVERY LOVE STORY EVER TOLD
you are a rotten tangerine hanging on
the bough of my tree, half in waiting
to splinter off, the other half already
bruised through from maturity and
hungry worms-I watch westerly wind leaps into your
gaping rind, sunlight snakes beneath
your insides like the way ocean rushes
toward caves and dunes, leaving just
enough mystique in its wake-seeing your whole spotted and incised,
I arch my limbs past the shingled wall
then over the ground to catch your fall,
you look at me with sad orange eyes still
wet of juice before hurling earthward in
scattering core, seeds and open pith-someday I'll look back on this moment
and wish I'd known how to follow you
home through black, for this is you and
me born of sun, sugar and dirt, before
you stumble and fall, before I lose all my
leaves to despair--

45

DARK HORSE
the mind,
he says,
is the most able organ
when the will to live
is so much kinder
than the need to die-the flesh,
he says,
is a great sexy nothing,
when the peaceful paleness
is the white landscape
pulled over the bones-the soul,
he says,
is what happened to the body
as the teeth let go
and the mouth is starved
from empty cups of sounds--

46

PETALS
at some point,
there is a perennial urge to press
my petals
into every aerial pleat on the atmosphere-in this two-dimension time and space,
it's all part of settling my weight:
sprained sepals, severed filaments,
the ricocheted snaps of anthers
and stiff ovule that spills pulses
down the stairs of my form-Lana Bella has work of poetry and fiction published and
forthcoming with over 120 journals, including a chapbook with
Crisis Chronicles Press (Spring 2016), Ann Arbor Review, Chiron
Review, Coe Review, Literary Orphans, Poetry Salzburg Review, Poetry
Quarterly, and elsewhere. She divides her time between the US
and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a
wife of a talking-wonder novelist, and a mom of two far-tooclever-frolicsome imps.

47

ONE BOY‘S TROUBLE
Joe Giordano
Knocking a hornets' nest off a tree wasn't the inspiration of a
future Rhodes Scholar. I should've known better, but when
Lenny Spazzolatto dared me and called me scared, I went
along. I called Lenny‘s cousin weak eyes because his peepers
bulged like a toad. I'm Anthony. Our parents were friends and
we vacationed together in the Catskills at Villa Napoli Resort; a
welcome week's respite from Brooklyn's summer heat.
The hum of the critters grew along with the angst in my gut as
we neared. The nest looked like a paper-mâché medicine ball.
Lenny had a three-foot stick, but at the sight of a swarming
mass of stingers, I wished it was a barge pole. I was about to
question the wisdom of our endeavor when Lenny stabbed the
nest, knocking it to the ground.
A wall of wasps came at us like a tsunami, and we took off. I
heard the sound of a gaining buzz saw when my feet tangled
with Lenny's and we both went down. Stings felt like a
blowtorch pressed to my flesh. My heart pounded as we
scrambled up and hurtled toward Villa Napoli's outdoor
swimming pool. The day was steaming. Our parents and every
resort guest lounged at the Olympic-sized pool. Lenny and I
were menaced by a wave of hornets that rivaled a Biblical
plague. We shouted, "Wasps," before we flung ourselves
headlong into the deep water. Guests' heads casually rose or
turned at our warning. Then the stinging began. Everyone, our
parents, slow moving seniors, women who'd unclipped their
swim suit bras for an even tan, everyone, screamed, flew off

49

their lounge chairs, and dove into the pool. Aquamarine
churned like a white-water river.
I stayed under. My skin felt on fire from multiple stings. Then
my mind turned to my parents' reaction to the chaos I'd caused.
I considered drowning myself, but my chest nearly burst, and I
came up for air. The wasps had dissipated. My parents looked
at me like I was an approaching storm. I gulped. Lenny's head
bobbed to the surface next to me. His stung face puffed like a
boxer pounded for fifteen rounds. Yet, he had a gap-toothed
smile.
"Wow. Wasn't that great?"

Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. He and his wife, Jane,
have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and Netherlands. They
now live in Texas with their little shih tzu, Sophia. Joe's stories
have appeared in more than seventy magazines
including Bartleby Snopes, The Monarch Review, decomP, and The
Summerset Review. His novel, Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant
Coming of Age Story, was published by Harvard Square
Editions October 2015. Read the first chapter and sign up for
his blog at joe-giordano.com

50

TWO POEMS by JAMES CUSHING
THE NIGHT WATCHMEN
Every tree has a relative who died horribly
and citizens hide behind the air in their lungs
and their religion and ethnicity and prescriptions
whose warm power swells like the rolling ocean.
The day before yesterday
a woman stood by me, trying not to cry.
I saw a dark highway, a headlight,
an empty school I had attended, halls filled with purple
and gold light reminding us both how well the
nurse / patient relation had been written into the coda
of our turbulent details. I need information about my
confusion. My shirt‘s a lake of spangles.
Good evening, lost instrumental fragments, lines
excised from songs. A steady breeze
pushes my dream toward fire.
I‘m grateful for clocks and the gift
of reading, which helps me exist in the larger
culture that has no edges, but can blind you.
Small squeaking machines wait for me in a way I can‘t
explain, like a faun who crosses its first highway
in order to leave a wreath at your campfire.

51

DRUNKEN PINE PARK
In the places we stayed, floors
kept their cold in light or shadow.
Covered with frost and a life spent
listening to one family‘s breath, the ground
lingered, awaiting
the long white silence of nakedness.
Your family recognized me through my mask.
Their weathered hands
reappeared as triangles, diamonds, origami birds and fish.
The midnight box had been carefully put away.
You were the birthday girl, tied up
with ropes of dusty paper.
I dug in my pockets for my knife
and folded your clothing on my blank youth.
JAMES CUSHING, born 1953 in Palo Alto CA, holds a
doctorate in English from UC Irvine. In the early 1980s, he
hosted a live poetry radio program on KPFK-FM in Los
Angeles, which gave early exposure to Dennis Cooper, David
Trinidad, Amy Gerstler, Wanda Coleman, Leland Hickman,
and many others. Since 1989, he has taught literature and
creative writing at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and served as the
community‘s Poet Laureate for 2008 – 2010. His poems have
appeared in many journals, and Cahuenga Press has published
five collections: You and the Night and the Music (1991), The Length
of an Afternoon (1999), Undercurrent Blues (2004), Pinocchio’s
Revolution (2010), and The Magicians’ Union (2014). Cushing
currently hosts weekly a jazz program on KEBF-FM, 97.3 ―The
Rock‖ in Morro Bay (esterobayradio.org) His daughter is the
New York-based poet Iris Cushing.
52

JELLY FISH
Jeannie Galeazzi
This surfing lesson—Brinkley‘s birthday gift to himself—was
not panning out to be the vital toughener-upper, the crucial
step-up-to-manhood, the fateful proof-in-the-pudding that
Brinkley had imagined. Shivering in his rented wetsuit in the
wave zone off Ocean Beach on the edge of fog-frosted San
Francisco, Brinkley Minton, thirty-seven last Tuesday, sat
bobbing astraddle a borrowed surfboard in water cold enough
to slam his skull with sherbet headaches and drive his testicles
up into his lungs. It didn‘t help that he‘d been saddled with the
build of a peasant stevedore paired with the face of a palace
fop. It had never helped. CAUTION, said the signs posted in
the lot where he‘d parked, PEOPLE WADING AND
SWIMMING HERE HAVE DROWNED.
His instructor, Erika, guessably mid-forties, had been shouting
encouragement of diminishing cheer at him over the arctic bite
of the wind. Brawny in her wetsuit, she pointed out to sea at a
looming bump of water. ―Look! An easy one,‖ she bellowed,
her frizzy black curls sopped down to a scrawny ponytail. ―Ride
it with me!‖
Stiff-jawed to curb the chattering of his teeth, Brinkley shook
his head and sensed himself being jeered at by the surf mob
jockeying for waves on either side of him in the crowded
Saturday-afternoon lineup.
―Well, I’m taking it,‖ said Erika in a holler, her gaze fixed on the
swell. ―So remember, you get snagged by a riptide, don‘t fight
it, just paddle parallel to the beach!‖

54

Brinkley doubted the gullibility of the riptides, yet to voice that
doubt seemed gutless—the very opposite of virile—seemed
tantamount to declaring himself unfit for anything fate might
toss his way. The wave in front of them was just breaking.
Right at its crest, Erika popped up on her board and zipped off
triumphant, leaving her pupil adrift under the glum supervision
of a balding bleached-blond brute who‘d been introduced to
Brinkley, just minutes ago, as ―Squiffy.‖ Brinkley watched his
surf-sensei shrink toward the beach—crouching on her board,
angling with fancy footwork—and lean into her wipeout with a
jubilant splash.
―Dude,‖ called Squiffy from his board two yards away, his
features lost under a peeling sunburn. ―Watch the waves, man,
not her ass.‖
Brinkley stifled a limp retort and sat chafing at this afternoon of
shame. Just from the clumsy way he‘d carried his board
through the beach parking lot past the other surfers dressing
and undressing by their vans, he‘d overheard himself being
scoffed at as a ―kook.‖ Erika herself had mocked his waxing
technique. “Don’t wax the traction patches, silly, and don’t wax the
board smooth! Just rub until the wax beads.” She‘d even made him
practice the popup on the grimy sand in front of an audience of
sniggering kite-flyers and squawking seagulls. “Start face down.
Now, push yourself up, scoot your knees in, plant your back foot at a right
angle to the length of the board, then balance. Got it?” Brinkley, with
his chunky frame, could barely perform these acrobatics on
land let alone hope to replicate them on a wave.Then out in the
water, in the brief eternities between waves, on his board he‘d
either sit too far forward and thus ―pearl‖ off the front or sit
too far back and thus ―stall‖ off the rear, occasioning hoots and
razzes up and down the lineup.
55

Yet now things had gone eerily dense and quiet, as if the fog
had panino-pressed the tides into a lull. Listening to the water‘s
thrubs and gurgles, Brinkley was reminded of the background
music at Bhangra‘s Bollywood Buffet. It was at Bhangra‘s that
he took noon refuge Mondays through Fridays from the
merciless phones and his gossiping co-workers at the
symphony box office, and it was at Bhangra‘s that he could
wallow at will in exotic grub and the composition of haiku. Just
yesterday, Friday, on a paper napkin plucked from the tabletop
dispenser, he‘d penned:
Bark bark bark all hours—
we banged on the wall for peace;
silence, now. LOUD.
He congratulated himself on a fine profound haiku, never mind
that the “we” in the middle line was pure fantasy; Brinkley had
banged alone. Oh, for a waxed-paper-lined basket of toastblistered naan glistening with ghee, for a mound of basmati
ladled with vindaloo, for a pyramid of gulab jamun. Monday—
lunch!—yes.
Buoyed by the prospect, Brinkley relaxed his grip on his
surfboard and twisted around in search of Erika—here she
came, plowing toward him through the choppy wave zone, a
rosy-cheeked mermaid ripe for a haiku—just as a claw of foam
reared up and cuffed him into the frigid water. Floundering,
gagging on brine in the aquatic roar, Brinkley somehow
remembered to heed the directional tug of his ankle leash and
cover his head to that side, per Erika‘s instructions, so as not to
get clobbered by his board.
56

―Jeez, man, the thing‘s floating right next to you,‖ came
Squiffy‘s voice, warbly through the water. ―There‘s a difference
between getting barreled in an eight-foot tube and just falling
the fuck off, okay?‖
Brinkley periscoped up and spat saltwater, smeared his hair
back off his forehead, and lumpenly restraddled his veering
board, a bone-white affair trimmed in bold black Polynesian
tattoo patterns ludicrous for a landlubber.
Erika, who‘d lent him this board for an extra fee, came
splashing up next to him. ―Ahoy there!‖ she said, all buddybuddy as if she hadn‘t just bailed on her charge. ―How‘s The
Squiff treating you?‖
Brinkley, too miffed for buddy-buddies, glanced toward Squiffy
and rejoiced to see his oppressor‘s neoprene-clad hindquarters
paddling away. He turned his gaze to the steely Pacific and tried
to suss out which patch of ocean might surge forth into the
breaker that would end this torment, either drown him for
good or ferry him back to dry land. Maybe fate would grant
him the sight of a circling shiny-gray shark fin.
Erika sat up on her board and craned forward. ―Uh-oh,‖ she
said, ―you‘re shivering.‖ A swell bounced them up and moved
on like a hand sliding under a child‘s quilt leaving the ragdolls
behind. Erika pointed at a bigger swell prowling toward them.
―Look—there!—let‘s take the sucker.‖
Brinkley did look. Wanted to take the sucker. Knew he never
could.
―Come on,‖ said Erika. ―Bellyboard style! Ready? Watch…,
wait…, and…, NOW!‖
57

With the swell upon them, no time to think, Erika flopped onto
her stomach and gripped her board and Brinkley flopped and
gripped in kind and the wave swept them up and whisked them
along in a salt-stinging blur—an exhilarating glide!—until they
tumbled off in the shallows at the sandy lip of civilization.
Erika stood up and unfastened her ankle leash. ―Whew! Lesson
over,‖ she announced, and wrapped the leash around the tail of
her board. ―Um, unless you want a second try.‖
Resolutely mute despite his wild heartbeat and wilder rush,
Brinkley copied her leash technique to the extent that his icy
gloved fingers would allow.
―Right,‖ said Erika. She lifted her board and clamped it under
one arm. ―Let‘s get you back to your car.‖
With the sun glowing down at them coldly white through a
thinning in the fog, Brinkley willed his frozen joints to bend as
he trooped after Erika across the beach, the sand churning
underfoot, terra scarcely more firma than water. Up the concrete
steps they went to the parking lot, where Brinkley kept his head
down as he passed the real surfers, all of them presumably wise
to his bellyboarding ignominy. The CAUTION signs rattled in
the wind. By the time he and Erika reached her rust-ravaged
station wagon stabled beside his pristine compact, his teeth
were chattering with enamel-cracking force.
Erika leaned her board against her rig, squatted by the back
wheel to grope up under the fender, and withdrew a ring of
keys. Straightening up, she turned toward Brinkley with a grin.
The grin vanished. ―God,‖ said Erika, ―your lips are blue.‖
Lips? Did he have lips?
58

―Oh my God. You‘re really shivering.‖ Erika whipped off a
glove, keys jangling, and pressed her bare hand to his cheek.
Startled at the gesture, Brinkley felt neither hand nor cheek.
Panic in her eyes, Erika spun toward her wagon and unlocked
the hatch and threw it open. ―I‘m taking you straight home for
a hot bath,‖ she said, and grabbed his surfboard and heaved it
into the cargo space with her own, not even pausing to zip the
boards back into their sheaths. ―My apartment‘s five blocks
away. Get in.‖
Vaguely scandalized—yet unable to resist wondering, with
sudden warmth, if this disastrous birthday gift to himself might
now harbor an amorous upside—Brinkley made a move to
obey.
―Hey, Erika,‖ called the owner of a wind-parched baritone
voice that turned out to belong to Squiffy sauntering beefily
toward them in his wetsuit, his board tucked under his arm.
―Next time you want to ditch a student on me while you hog
the waves, I‘ll regretfully, like, decline.‖
Erika had not quite yet closed the hatch. ―I ‗ditched‘ my
student,‖ she said, greeting Squiffy‘s zinger with coquettish
equanimity, ―on the best damn surfer at Ocean Beach .‖
Rushing to his damsel‘s defense, Brinkley blurted out “Yeah!”—
his first utterance in what seemed hours—only to realize he‘d
just seconded Erika‘s compliment to the foe.
Who didn‘t look at him. ―Erika, tell your pet tourist to butt
out.‖

59

In Brinkley‘s view, The Squiff had been standing there perfectly
upright in his slouchy way; then, all at once, a gloved fist on a
wetsuited arm was seen to swing out—Squiffy ducked—and
the gloved fist, completing its arc, slammed into Brinkley‘s own
gelid shoulder. Not quite immediately, the numbness in
Brinkley‘s balled-up right hand bloomed into an explosive
smarting scorch as a budding bruise rose smoldering on his
shoulder. He‘d just punched himself. Publicly.
Squiffy straightened up taller than expected and peered down at
Brinkley through eyes the blue of acid-washed denim. ―Prick.‖
Brinkley felt a clammy blush sear his cheeks and go twanging
hotly down his neck and spine. And in his mind‘s ear, he heard
an echo of haiku:
Bark bark bark all hours—…
He squinted across the sand, past the wave zone, and out to the
lineup dotted with the surf elite—the coolest of the cool—
sitting alert astride their boards, avidly confronting the pitiless
horizon.
…we banged on the wall for peace;…
To march right back out there with his board and plunge alone
into the waves would be dignity itself. Redemption! It would
also be certain death.
…silence, now. LOUD.
Brinkley glanced back at Erika and Squiffy, caught them trading
eye-rolls.

60

Proof. Pudding. With a lunge at the station wagon, Brinkley
hauled his surfboard out of the yawning hatch and was just
lugging the board past Erika and Squiffy toward the pearly glare
when Squiffy let out a guffaw and gave Brinkley a slap on the
back that sent him staggering.
―Yeah, take the easy way out,‖ said The Squiff with a snort. ―To
go on living life as you, man, now that would take stones!‖
The gibe, though deadly, went sailing through the air with all
the heft of a tissue-paper airplane, so lofty and pure was the
truth riding its wings, and it snicked against Brinkley‘s left
temple and, crumple-nosed, fell flat. Even so, that truth was
enough to halt Brinkley on teetering tiptoe and—after a pause,
even with the blinding silver shimmer-sheen of the Vast
Beyond luring him toward oblivion—enough to make him
pivot on those toes, set down his heels, and walk serenely back
to the hatch and replace the board.
―Called your bluff, huh?‖ needled Squiffy with Erika there
shaking her head.
―On the contrary,‖ said the birthday boy, level of tone, and
shut the hatch. It did take stones, but he finished opening his
gift: ―It was I who called fate‘s.‖

61

Jeannie Galeazzi's work has twice been nominated for the
Pushcart Prize and has appeared in fifty-one publications,
including Fence, The Literary Review, Permafrost, Southern Humanities
Review, Main Street Rag, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review (blog),
Feathertale (Canada), Dotlit (Australia), Snorkel (New Zealand),
All Rights Reserved (Nova Scotia), and Gold Dust (UK). Her work
is also forthcoming in The Sow's Ear Poetry Review and So to
Speak.

62

A CYNICAL STOIC OF QUESTIONABLE
HONOR
Colin James
The large boulder rolled
down a manmade hill,
just missing an escapee
from the many reasons
for not living at home.
A youngish man typically
inclined to procrastinate, flinched.
This was not one of those times.
He left his shoes behind in
an almost athletic leap,
rolled a good twenty feet
protecting what he could.
A diminutive figure holding a crowbar
stood silhouetted in the setting sun.
An old girlfriend or
the new one, it doesn't matter.
Colin James has a chapbook of poems, A Thoroughness Not
Deprived of Absurdity (Pski Porch Press),
www.pskisporch.com/?page_id=139

63

Building Red: Mission Mars
edited by Janet Cannon

October 13, 2015

janetcannoneditor.wix.com/buildingredant
hology

Earth Witch
A Winterhaven Mystery
by Stella Jay Candle

2016

facebook.com/stellajaycandle

Creatures

by Cyn Bermudez

2016
www.cynbermudez.zohosites.com

Riding Light (The Riding Light Review) is fiscally sponsored by Art
without Limits. To make tax-deductible donations, please visit
our website.
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―Imagination is more important than knowledge.‖ – Albert Einstein

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you
everywhere.” – Albert Einstein

The Riding Light Review
Contributions by Lana Bell, Caitlin
Crowley, James Cushing, B.L.
Draper, Jeannie Galeazzi, Joe
Giordano, Carol Hamilton, Colin
James, Megan Paske, Kiley Reid,
Nick Sweeney, and Bob West.