You are on page 1of 336

an online journal of voice

FALL 2019

s
BLAZEVOX[BOOKS]
Buffalo, New York
BlazeVOX 19 | an online journal of voice
Copyright © 2019

Published by BlazeVOX [books]

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without


the publisher’s written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews.

Printed in the United States of America

First Edition

BlazeVOX [books]
Geoffrey Gatza
131 Euclid Ave
Kenmore, NY 14217

Editor@blazevox.org

p ublisher of weird little books

BlazeVOX [ books ]
blazevox.org

21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
Fall 2019
Table of Contents
Poetry

Anum Sattar Alexandra Kulik


Anne Babson Anne Gorrick
Anushka Joshi Bijoyini Maya
Brooke Wilczewski Candice M. Kelsey
Charlene Pierce Charles Borkhuis
Christopher Brownsword Christina Strigas
Deborah Saltman Dustin Pickering
Ethan Goffman Eric Howard
Glenn Ingersoll Ian Ganassi
J. D. Nelson Jared Pearce
Kelly Egan Ken W. Simpson
Mark Young Matthew Hanna
Melissa A. Chappell Michael T. Smith
Nadwa Naeem Natalie Jones
Nels Hanson N Amara
Nicole Agee Patrick Chapman
Robert Lietz Robin Ray
Roland Kuhlmeyer Simon Perchik
Steve Gilmartin Tiffany Flammger
Fiction
Cris Mazza — One Night, Two Perspectives, Three Screwdrivers

Harlan Yarbrough — Vignette in Blue

Benjamin Joe — Two Stories

Charles Holdefer — Here Lies a Myriad

S.W. Campbell — Spirit Week

Margaret Adams Birth — Halloween at the Donut Hut


Avery Strife — I Smell Potatoes

Pascale Potvin — An Involuntary Consequence

Nick LaRocca — Letters

Play in Verse
Sharon Curcio — Contemplating Fire, a lyric one act play

Text Art & Vispo & Sound


hiromi suzuki — Darjeeling Daisy

Janis Butler Holm — Two Holiday Parodies

Gwen Dearing — Entertaining People

Roger Delgado — Plave Inlapiting

Elliott Griffin — Seven Poems

Gregg Williard — Now My Number is Water

Acta Biographia — Author Biographies


Fall 2019
IntroductionIntroduction
Hello, and welcome to the Fall issue of BlazeVOX 19.
Presenting excellent works of poetry, fiction, text art,
visual poetry, and arresting works of creative non-
fiction written by authors from around the world. Do
have a look through the links below or browse
through the whole issue in our Scribd embedded
PDF, which you can download for free and take it
with you anywhere on any device. Hurray!

In this issue, we seek to avoid answers but rather to


ask questions. With a subtle minimalistic approach,
this issue of BlazeVOX focuses on the idea of ‘public
space’ and more specifically on spaces where anyone
can do anything at any given moment: the non-
private space, the non-privately owned space, space
that is economically uninteresting. The works
collected feature coincidental, accidental, and
unexpected connections, which make it possible to
revise literary history and, even better, to
complement it.

Combining unrelated aspects lead to surprising analogies these pieces appear as dreamlike images in which
fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse. Time and memory
always play a key role. In a search for new methods to ‘read the city,’ the texts reference post-colonial theory as
well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance
against the logic of the capitalist market system.

Many of the works are about contact with architecture and essential living elements. Energy (heat, light, water),
space, and landscape are examined in less obvious ways and sometimes developed in absurd ways. By creating
situations and breaking the passivity of the spectator, to develop forms that do not follow logical criteria but are
based only on subjective associations and formal parallels, which incite the viewer to make new personal
associations. These pieces demonstrate how life extends beyond its own individual limits and often tells a story
about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the
binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves.
Enjoy!

Rockets, Geoffrey
an online journal of voice

FALL 2019

s
Fall 2019
Tiffany Flammger

Stitched Together

It seems I’m always


Falling apart.
Thrown across the
Landscape
I’ve thrown myself on
Another landmine
Broke myself apart for
Another bleeding heart
Looking frantically for my
Needle and thread
So that I might pull myself
Together again
Stitched together always
With good intentions
And with self-depreciation
And self-hatred
With bleeding parts and
Broken hands
With busted fingers I grip
That needle
And thread that finely
Wrapped twine
Of love and hate, of mental
Health and persistence
I weep as I crawl for those
Pieces I’ve lost
Again and again for always.
Stitching myself together
With love and good
Intentions I go look
For the next bomb inside a
Bleeding broken heart.
If you Hate me, just know that I do Too.

I am a failure
I have emptied you
Every emotion
Poured out
Like cold coffee
I am an existential crisis
A heart in mourning
I am dying to feel like
I’m not dying
I am an angry wasp stinging
Everyone I land upon
I try not to but you,
You scare me
With those beautiful eyes
I am a clusterfuck
A buzzing wall
Of white noise
I drown out
Your infectious affection
I am so, so, so sorry
My fate has found me.
Opportunities and Possibilities

I miss (ed) you


The opportunity would
Have swelled my heart
To bursting pipe happiness
Yet my expectations are small
I know what they’d say
“It’s not really red, though, is it?”
You need to get out more,
Go find someone real
I can’t express myself how I’d like
Because of too many rejections
I keep a respectable distance
I’m really hanging on here
Hanging onto a whimsical
Unpredictable friendship
Hunted
By thoughts of those
Possibilities
Appearing only in my mind
When does this inevitable
Feeling of lose come knocking
When (how) do I begin again?
Without you on my mind
And what the hell cam I to do
With you?
When missed opportunities
Have come and gone, you’ve gone
Grown deep within my soul
We really should have taken
Up one of those opportunities
To say hello
How many more
Will we get?
Fall 2019
Steve Gilmartin

Waterfall

Floating but moving fast, it seemed like just another difficult day at first, you get used to them, and then his
breath went over the lip, falling into ion trails, a weave of refractions drifting in memory. Free of binding
connections, those chutes of thought, continuous leaden subtraction, carried along as though loosened from
a spillway. No figuring why or which way but just gravity sounding.

In his mind he was riding a blizzard, the one that takes everything away.

Then it spoke to him in harsh claw-black robes, a clipped yet reasonable statement of administrative
exhaustion, relief, and an end to all appealing.

The noise on the phone going over almost erased the connection. You could hear how deafened his voice
was. The silence encompassed it like an ocean system, weather multiform and spiraling. As the bonds curved
around him, he faced backward and found a pleasure from childhood, our eyes attending.
C&W

The country blurred by, briefly illuminated through the window, a burst of color in the night drizzle. I knew
about your child and that you rubbed colored powders into her fur. She has fur yet is charming and popular.
You saw a specialist for her or more probably for both of you you said, and at the very moment you were
rubbing her with powder the color of gemstones, I was riding around on a bus. The driver's radio was
playing a country and western song that sounded like an orderly progression of ornate mathematical
equations. The bus completed its route and I could see you on the sidewalk, encircled and stationary in a
spectral rodeo that materialized from a lasso of light. Concerned, I jumped off the bus, but you had been
doing it on purpose. We played Flick the Spider while we calmed down. Your child was there and the three
of us walked down the street together happily. No squabbling. "The powder works," you said bouncing up
and down. We walked like musical notes blending in the European style. A rainbow appeared briefly on our
right. The country remained on the other side of a pane of glass covered with hairline scratches and tiny
footprints.
Blue Energy of Heaven

Dangling over them, the blue energy of heaven.

We are foundational, the family of origin, invisible and interlocking. Maybe you know the statuary.

Deflections are infinite. Straight from their bottom-of-the-sea destinies, here they are, the mishapen and
dragged bronze-clothed masses. But see how those starry eyes, the depthless, exquisite colors of glass,
announce the splendor of drowning.

Some spells only last so long, some work forever.

Thus ecstatic devotees throw themselves beneath the time-bound wheely lord of the world
so sweetly, sour cries touching one another, all difficulty folding.
Family Steak

Because of the periodic influx of meat, he didn’t know how to think. He came to a fork: follow the meat or
follow the money. Both bled back. The family was a mile long but had been compressed into the density of a
house. In photographs, it usually looked like an object fallen dead and dark against the snow. Meanwhile, he
was famished. He looked around: meat was being pampered, sitting there like a fourth son. Someone told
him about how the amygdala brings you into the present.

At the beach, pre-eating tension forms a circle called the horizon. Then, finally, the punctuation of feeding.
The TV simmers and becomes everybody’s stove. Night programs are applied like glaze; they bubble up into
and over the brainpan. In the recipe book, letters arrange themselves on a guided tour of animalia.

Like all periods, this one—given to planetary cuisine’s delicate, white interlocking circles—ends in crisis.
One’s meat needs come sailing back. No one he knows, not even the dog, remembers how it works. First, sear
to seal in the juices?
My Mind Is Made Up

The flow of movers ceased at age seven. Camouflaged in their white overalls and gloves, they carried in the
entire rule of numbers cast as impossibly heavy sheets of glass. We’re moving through a building that cycles
forever, like water in a fountain (architecture bellows and sucks back the origins of its destruction), and over
there, dream rubbings are roughed out and rendered visible. Hoisted onto its side and guided in, mind drifts
and reassembles in air pockets between glass and film, projectors and plinths. Now dream sites can continue
to press their forms and contours into internal soft clay gullies. Night day pulsing equals the push in the
wrist. There’s a tendency to flatten through explanation: for example, existence is a small a surrounded by a
circle. What’s invisible gets on hind legs to look over the cap of the dream. What does the accompanying text
say? “Wait around while you flow.” Think of the sound of a brook, light underlying piano arpeggios
rendering everything false. Thus are the materials corrupted. A celebrity arrives bringing the Everyone Else
problem, and the world becomes a gallery goer. This writing is full of conceit, deception, confusion,
infiltration. Never mind, the address is good. The delivery signature belongs to a body. Just inches more. As
the exhibition opens, voices and movement draw up into the echoing cupola.
Fall 2019
Simon Perchik

Hiding on this tiny rock


its light is falling arm over arm
brought down as hammer blows

and mountains clinging to the sun


the way mourners will gather
and aim for your forehead

–it’s not right for you dead


to lower your eyes once they’re empty
–they have so much darkness

are still looking for tears


and all around you the Earth
splitting open a single afternoon

up close –you are touching seawater


without anything left inside
to take the salt from your mouth.
Between the tall grasses and water holes
the next hiss would be its last
though you splash these iron bars

with no way out and wait


smell from smoke and death
–it’s a cheap grill, made for a backyard

and the need for constant water


as another word for leaving
–you burn with ashes

taking hold the emptiness


to let the fire go
become airborne :a season

among the others, fitted inside


two rivers, close to clouds
where there was none before.
You stir this can before it opens
as the promise a frog makes
when asking for a kiss :the paint

warmer and warmer will become


an afternoon with room for mountains
and breezes close to your shoulder

though that’s not how magic works


–there’s the wave, the hand to hand
spreading out between the silence

and your fingers dressed with gloves


as if it was a burden and the brush
raising your arm the way this wall

needs a color that will dry by itself


leave a trace :a shadow not yet lovesick
no longer its blanket and cure.
With the rigging that lowers sails
you dead anchor :every grave
becomes a full-blown sea

though you keep dry


the way rafters are gathered
for dust as a place to rest

be showered by minute by minute


and the small sparks mourners leave
to jump-start the night sky

–between two afternoons


you are burning rope
as if there was a name for it

and now, lit, where nothing shines


but this shadow you let come closer
stay, tired from the start.
All those nights two suns running free
–with a clear look at each other
could see how bright her face becomes

when the window pane unfolds on fire


spreads out that long-ago afternoon
end over end though the shade

is reaching for the sill –a constellation


and still her arms are frozen open
as if this snapshot was trying to breathe twice

make you think you are covering her eyes


are in the room alone, holding on to what’s left
letting it flicker, wait for something in the light

to move closer together, fit into her mouth


so it can see you as the bed no longer made
as the wall and empty picture frame.
Fall 2019
Sharon Curcio

CONTEMPLATING FIRE

A One Act Drama for stage or TV


Length: 28 minutes

Written entirely in verse, this play moves in


Sound with Joan of Arc, Charles VII, and two choruses
(one a street mob, the other Charles’ advisors) in
principal roles.

Working best in a sparse, starkly lit set, Joan’s stream of


consciousness monologue in the prison cell the night before her death
intersects with the musings of Charles in his throne room
as he agonizes over the death decision.

Harrowing choral echoes and powerful language intensify this drama


and bring it to physical and visual life.

JOAN: Yes, I’m Joan


And call Domremy my home
But here I am stayed
In this tiny cell
Full of decay
Spewing wet smells.
This night’s alive with rats eyes
And on these walls are the clawings of men
Who now are not
And I wronged by so many
Accused of so much
No longer know
What I am not.
MOB: HERETIC!

Deep inside these Burgundian ties


My wrists writhe
First they wore fear’s color –white
When my king and countrymen
Handed me over to Englishmen…

MOB: LIAR!

Then they turned bright, burning red


The color of those who turned me in

MOB: TRAITOR!

The color of those who bind me with their fears

MOB: WITCH!

The color of children dismembered, Charles, for the crown upon your head.

MOB: HERETIC, LIAR, TRAITOR, WITCH!

CHARLES: Caught in the body politic


Wedged between kingdom, counselors, and crown
Did not mean to do it, Joan
Did not mean to let you down
But constantly
They tortured me
Fought me round after round
CHARLES: Beat me
To the ground
In their nightmarish way
They haunted my nights
Riddled my days.

ROYAL
ADVISORS: “That girl, you fool
You don’t know what she’ll do
She’s setting you up for sure
With the commoners behind her
And the tattered scores
She’ll get you, Charles,
Oppose
Depose you in the end.”

JOAN: Dauphin, dauphin


Today all France hails you as king,
Yet how does she know me?
Arms wave wildly in the street
Lips cheer you, greet you
Suck you in
Do you hear?
Do you hear?

ADVISORS: These voices that she hears


Isn’t it
Rather weird
Hard to imagine
Difficult to concede
Totally absurd to believe
That she’s
Divinely mused?

JOAN: Eyes were moist, Charles


When you took
The Royal Chair
Seated yourself there
Amid hesitant, expectant stares
Coolly you looked them back
Perused the Court up and down
And tossed France’s scepter
Calmly, back and forth
Between your palms.

ADVISORS: Unseemly
Wouldn’t you say
That Michael and Mary in privy
Pour great battleplans
Into her ear
Preposterous
That this
Unworthy illiterate
Sits
At God’ fingertips?
What can her bloody voices say
To make the English go away?
WE’LL BARTER, WE’LL BEGGAR, WE’LL PUT HER AWAY!

JOAN: Dauphin, Dauphin


Do you ever answer?
Do you ever hear?
Yes, once
When I begged to lead France
Promised you Rheims, coronation as King
Remember Charles,
As you bloody well can
And help me now by God as I did you then.

ADVISORS: You’re aware


You bloke
She’s just a hoax
Most like in league with darker forces
Black sources
Who pump and prime and steal for her
The inside dope she needs
To so flawlessly lead?
Wouldn’t you say that’s true?
Look at what
A little logic
Will do.

JOAN: Today, today


All France know you.
But how does she know me?
Who does she smile upon now?
Who caresses her furrowed brow?
The cheers in the street,
JOAN: …the gleam in mens’ eyes
Tell me it is not Joan.

ADVISORS: But we mustn’t wait


For her to make
That first
Fateful mistake
Before she
Invokes disaster on her own.
WE’LL BARTER, WE’LL BEGGAR, WE’LL PUT HER AWAY
Pick up your ears, you fool
Here’s what
A real King would do.

JOAN: As for me
I’ll lie awake with my Voices tonight
They’ll sing me to sleep
In soft, soothing tones
Comfort me one final time
With all else gone
They are here
And I
Hear them still.

CHARLES: Unrelentingly
They besieged me
For you to be found out
Your sources
Uncovered
Examined
Scrutinized
For you to be undone…

ADVISORS: Charles, Charles


Don’t be insane
They’ll make her queen
When the land’s regained…

JOAN: Who then?


Without closing my eyes I see
Battlefields ooze red
The unlidded yellow eyes of the soon to be dead
Looking wild
Eyes crushed under mad hooves
Hastening to Rheims

JOAN: Your horses tore through limb-clogged streams


Crushing the exposed bone
Of king-forsaken souls.

MOB: HERETIC, LIAR, TRAITORE, WITCH!

CHARLES: Joan, you couldn’t possible conceive


How their
Incontinent tongues
Lashed me
Awake at night
Barely conscious by day
Their unceasing ridicule
Totally unnerved me.

JOAN: Are these the titles you bestow


For devotion, love and service my lord?
In return for France
You give these?
God keep
Your later officers
May he teach you to treat them better.

CHARLES: My head
Fever clogged
Throbbed
With their lies
Till I
One ashen spectre
Deliriously paced
Seeking any unused corridor for escape.

ADVISORS: WE’LL BARTER, WE’LL BEGGAR, WE’LL PUT HER AWAY!

JOAN: Memory drifts


And all that time unmercifully permits
Are tortured last questions
And deaf cries for help.
Besides what hope could live in so fetid a place
As I squirm among the vermin here?

CHARLES: Their cries


Left me shocked
CHARLES: Worn out inside
Their lies ulcerously ugly
Pulsed wide
Moment by moment
Larger and larger.

ADVISORS: WE’LL BARTER, WE’LL BEGGAR, WE’LL PUT HER AWAY!

CHARLES: Then split wide


Pus ripe
Open
Raw and running.

JOAN: Charles, Charles


All along you knew
What you would do
All along men followed me
Who wouldn’t follow you
Why is it you won’t believe there was no magic in what I did?

CHARLES: Oh Joan
When you were here
Michael and Mary
Were luminously clear
And when you went away
They faded into the light of day.
Joan
I never said I was free
Of this stinking doubter’s disease
How the cankers
Fester me
In my hollow pride
And gaunt dreams.
Joan
Gladly would I
Have given you the royal chair
To have seen you there
And taken one breath of clean, sweet air
To have been freed
Finally relieved
Of these mad malcontents.
Fall 2019
S.W. Campbell

Spirit Week

Monday was jersey day. The football and volleyball players wore their uniforms and everyone else

wore whatever they might have. Jacob wore an old Seahawks jersey that belonged to his brother. It was a

little big, but it did the trick. Tuesday was cowboy day. Jacob didn’t have much that was cowboy, but his

mother made him a hat out of a Pepsi box. She did it so quickly that it was obvious it wasn’t the first one she

had ever made, though Jacob had never seen her use that particular skill before. Wednesday was makeup

day. Jacob didn’t do anything on makeup day.

Jacob purposefully got to school a little later than normal, not walking in the big heavy doors until

after first bell. Prior to first bell the halls would be filled with students, bullshitting and gossiping. After first

bell the halls were always mostly empty, the last few stragglers scrambling within the three minute

timeframe to make it to their desks before the ringing of the second bell. Jacob walked slowly between the

identical rows of lockers, counting the seconds in his head so he could time it right in order to avoid getting a

tardy. Beside each home room door was a bulletin board, covered in swaths of colorful paper and decorated
with cut out characters and bubble letters outlined in glitter. Slogans like “Go Falcons” and “Crush the

Bobcats” provided about as much inspiration as could be expected from a middle school homecoming.

Jacob stopped outside his home room door. A trickle of iciness moved down his spine and his hand

trembled a little when he swept it away with the back of his shirt. The bulletin board by the door was

covered by an expertly rendered falcon, diving downward towards a cartoon bobcat whose features were

contorted by a comical level of horror. The falcon looked like it could’ve been a photograph, made up of

layers of paper and ink, all placed with a perfect machine like precision. Along the bottom of the board were

the signatures of those who had created the masterpiece, one larger than all the rest. Jacob took a deep

breath, let it out, and opened the door.

Nineteen faces, plus the teacher’s, turned as one when Jacob walked in. It was a strange sight to

behold. The girls mostly looked normal, though half had added extra garish layers to the ones they

normally wore. Even Kaitlyn G, whose parents were famously fastidious about such things, had been

allowed a thin layer of rouge. In sharp contrast, the faces of the boys looked foreign and out of place. The

gambit ran from just lipstick to layers that would make a drag queen declare it a little overdone. Some had

their new features applied with an expertise that suggested the involvement of sisters or mothers. Others

were obviously more inexperienced slapped together parodies.

Before the door even closed itself, Jacob heard the hiss. An angry buzz of contempt from the front

row that couldn’t be held in. The eyes of his classmates were largely indifferent, though some showed

disappointment, but Madison’s eyes were pure anger and hatred. Kaitlyn T leaned over and whispered

something in Madison’s ear, but Madison refused to turn her baleful gaze away from Jacob. The door

clicked shut behind him. The second bell rang. At the front of the room, Mr. Estevez started taking role.
Madison skewered Jacob with one last look and then turned around. Mr. Estevez didn’t put up with

disruptions. Jacob hurried to find his seat in the back row, more icy fingers of sweat getting squashed when

he sat down.

As Mr. Estevez went through the morning role call, Jacob eyed his home room peers, looking for any

other allies in dissent. From the next desk over, Aidan leaned over, his voice a barely audible whisper.

“You should’ve just done it.”

Jacob didn’t turn his head to look, but through the corner of his eye he could see Aidan’s mouth was a

mass of bright red lipstick that extended far beyond the confines of his lips.

“I didn’t want to.”

“She’s pissed.”

Up in the front row, Jacob could see the back of Madison’s blonde head, sitting perfectly still and

ramrod straight.

“No shit.”

Mr. Estevez slapped his hands together.

“Do you have something to share with the class gentleman?”

All eyes turned towards the offenders. Both Jacob and Aidan shook their heads.

“Then I suggest you zip it.”

The eyes turned back towards the front. Aidan hissed out of the side of his mouth, drawing out the

words as though they were just an exhale of breath.

“Piiissssseeeed ooofffffff.”
Jacob ignored him. Every student in the classroom had on makeup but him, with the exception of

Nicky, and nobody ever expected much from Nicky. He was weird. Mr. Estevez finished up the morning

announcements. Jacob hadn’t heard a single one. The big man in the front of the classroom clapped his

hands again.

“Okay, get to it.”

Home room was for reading and finishing up assignments. The moment Mr. Estevez clapped his

hands, Madison rose from her seat and started moving towards Jacob. Her face was set in stone, but her

wrath burned brightly from her eyes. Some teachers were pretty lax about home room, luckily Mr. Estevez

was not one of them.

“Ms. Lewis, what are you doing?”

Madison’s head spun around, the anger disappearing into a sweet mask of innocence.

“I was just going to help Jacob with his homework.”

Mr. Estevez gestured towards Jacob.

“Is Ms. Lewis going to help you with your homework Mr. Gunderson?”

Jacob screwed his face into the best look of confusion that he could manage.

“I’m reading today.”

Mr. Estevez shrugged.

“Get back to your seat Ms. Lewis.”

Madison shot Jacob a sharp look and stalked back to her desk. A couple of the other girls shot him

similar looks as well, just for good measure. Aidan spoke out of the corner of his mouth again.

“Piiiiissssseeeeddddd Oooooofffffffff.”
Jacob pulled his book out of his bag and started to read. He had a hard time concentrating on the

words. It seemed like every time he looked up he caught somebody glancing at him. The moment the bell

rang he was up and moving, escaping out the door ahead of everybody else. It did no good. Madison caught

him by his locker, Kaitlyn T and Emma flanking her on either side. The halls were a sea of done up faces,

not one of which seemed to care about what was about to happen. The three girls moved in close. Kaitlyn T

had a little extra on, like she wore when she went to a school dance. Emma had gone all out, bright red

lipstick and thick mascara laced with sparkling golden glitter. Madison looked no different than she did any

other day. A pointed finger graced by bright blue nail polish poked Jacob in the chest.

“Why aren’t you in makeup Jake?”

Jacob hated being called Jake. Madison always called him Jake.

“I didn’t want to.”

“Everyone else is doing it. Don’t you care that you’re screwing this up for all of them?”

Jacob let out an audible sigh. Madison jabbed her finger into his chest again.

“We’ve got a real shot of being declared the home room with the most spirit this year. Mr. Estevez

already said we have the best bulletin board, but we need everyone dressing up if we want to win.”

Jacob did his level best not to roll his eyes.

“So what?”

Madison jabbed her finger again.

“Everyone else is doing it.”

Jacob tried to stand a little straighter.

“Nick isn’t doing it.”


Madison’s eyes narrowed.

“Is it because you’re worried people are going to think you’re gay or something? Is that it? Are you a

homophobe Jake?”

Jacob felt trapped. He felt a compelling need to smack Madison in the mouth, or at least push her out

of his space, but of course he didn’t. Such things were completely unacceptable. Instead he just squirmed.

Madison leaned in close. Jacob refused to lean away, taking pride in what defiance he could

muster. Madison’s voice was icy cold.

“Counts at third period. You better not screw this up for everybody.”

Kaitlyn T pulled on Madison’s shoulder.

“The bells going to ring. We better get to class.”

Madison gave Jacob one last look, and then turned and stalked off towards her locker. Jacob took in a

deep breath and let it out, and then headed off towards his own first period class. He got to it just as the bell

was ringing. Mrs. Russo was already at the board writing out equations. She didn’t even bother to turn

around when Jacob walked in. Only about half the kids in Remedial Math had on makeup. The only person

that was also in Jacob’s home room was Nick. The next hour was a blessed sanctuary from the world

outside. For the first time in his life, Jacob wished that Remedial Math would last forever, but the bell rang

as it always did. Jacob got up, stood for a second by the door, and then made his way as quickly as possible

to the safety of the boy’s bathroom.

Ethan from home room was taking a piss at one of the urinals. He turned and noticed Jacob the

moment that Jacob stepped up to his own urinal. Ethan was wearing bright red lipstick and thick mascara
laced with sparkling golden glitter. Jacob stood by the urinal and pretended to pee while Ethan went over to

the sink to wash his hands.

“Emma says you won’t put on some makeup.”

Jacob did his best to concentrate on his imaginary stream of urine. Ethan let out a sigh.

“Look, I know it’s stupid, but couldn’t you just do it?”

Jacob didn’t look back.

“I don’t want to do it.”

The sink turned on and then off again without the comforting splat sound of the soap

dispenser. Jacob could feel Ethan staring at the back of his head.

“She’s not going to let it go.”

“It’s a stupid theme.”

“It’s just fucking makeup.”

“Girls always wear makeup.”

Ethan sighed again.

“Just put some on. It will make things easier for all of us.”

Ethan’s footsteps stalked towards the door. Jacob fixed his pants and flushed the urinal despite the

fact that it was still empty. The bell was going to ring soon. He had to get to class.

History had a lot more kids from home room in it, but thankfully not Madison. Kaitlyn T and Emma

were both in the same class, but they always sat near the front. Kaitlyn T kept her eyes on the board, but

Emma kept looking back, giving a snake like smile of delight. Jacob couldn’t figure out what the hell was
going on with that. He leaned over and bumped Aidan, who just like home room, sat in the desk next to

his. He kept his voice as quiet as it could go.

“Why the hell does Emma keep smiling like that?”

Aidan didn’t move his head.

“They got Nick.”

Jacob rose up higher in his seat. Nick was sitting one row back in the corner furthest from the door,

his greasy hair framing his face. Smeared across his lips was a bit of red lipstick. He looked like a demented

clown. Jacob lowered himself back down.

“How did they get him to do it?”

Aidan shrugged and then went completely still. Mr. Gladstone was starting to ask questions, and he

had a habit of calling on those who weren’t paying attention. Emma kept looking back with her vile smile, at

least until Mr. Gladstone called her name. After that she kept her eyes riveted to the front of the

room. However, such solace was short lived. The big hand moved its way around the clock at a rapid pace

despite each minute feeling like an eternity. The bell rang. The classroom emptied into the hall. Kaitlyn T

sidled her way next to Jacob, a sweet smile across her face that did little to relieve the sudden wave of tension

brought about by her proximity.

“Couldn’t you just wear a little makeup Jacob?”

Jacob kept walking, refusing to look over.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Everybody would appreciate it.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”


“Even Nick did it.”

Jacob glanced at Kaitlyn T for a moment. She was still smiling, bubbling over with goodwill and

kindness. Jacob sucked in a breath between his teeth.

“I can’t do it.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m allergic.”

“Really?”

Jacob glanced over again. He could see the doubt in her eyes.

“I’ve got to go to the bathroom.”

Jacob fled into the sanctuary. It was almost empty, everyone rushing to get to class before the

bell. Jacob went over to the sink and looked at himself in the mirror. Two guys walked out the door behind

him, their reflections revealing their gussied up faces. Jacob breathed in and out. His whole body was

shaking. He willed it to stop. The boy looking back at him seemed unsure. The bell rang. He turned on the

sink, turned it off without wetting his hands, and headed out the door.

Third period was English with Mr. Estevez. Almost all of Jacob’s home room fellows were in the

same class. Mr. Estevez was standing in the hall, talking to another teacher. He looked over as Jacob

approached the door.

“You’re late Mr. Gunderson.”

“Yes sir, sorry sir.”


Jacob opened the door and hustled towards his desk, looking at no one. He could hear the familiar

hiss. He could hear her rise up and approach as he sat down. A finger with blue nail polish tapped his desk.

He looked up. She was standing over him, an open tube of bright red lipstick in her hand.

“Just put on the damn makeup Jake. Everyone else is doing it.”

Everyone was watching. Madison’s eyes were smoldering. Jacob stared back, defiant and no longer

caring.

“I’m allergic.”

“Bullshit.”

The exclamation echoed off the tiled ceiling. Madison gestured imperiously with the lipstick.

“Quit being a baby, just put a little on.”

“I’m allergic.”

Madison was visibly shaking.

“Mr. Estevez is going to come in to do the count at any moment.”

Ted rose up higher in his seat.

“No.”

Madison’s eyes were moist, almost overflowing with emotion.

“Just do it.”

“No.”

The door opened. Mr. Estevez started to walk in. Everyone turned towards the sound, everyone but

Madison. She jumped at Jacob, the lipstick brandished as though a rapier. Jacob threw out his hand to
block, but it was too late, the lipstick smeared its way across his cheek and mouth. Mr. Estevez’s loud voice

bellowed across the room.

“Ms. Lewis, what in the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Madison took a step back, tears flowing down her cheeks, her eyes filled with manic glee as she

surveyed her handiwork.

“He’s wearing makeup Mr. Estevez. He’s wearing makeup.”

Mr. Estevez marched across the room. Jacob wiped his face with the back of his hand, smearing it

with red. Madison was half laughing and half crying. Mr. Estevez towered over both of them. He pointed

toward the empty desk in the front row.

“Sit down Ms. Lewis.”

The lipstick dropped from Madison’s fingers to the tile floor. She gestured again.

“He counts. He’s wearing makeup.”

“Ms. Lewis.”

“It’s not fair.”

“Now Ms. Lewis.”

Madison’s eyes were full of hate, pure and uninhibited. She swung around and walked imperiously

back to her desk, her bright eyes challenging any to dare judge as she wiped the tears from her

face. Everyone in the room suddenly found the tops of their desks to be the most interesting thing in the

room. Mr. Estevez waited until she sat down, and then turned his attention to Jacob, who was still trying to

wipe the lipstick off with the back of his hand.

“Go to the bathroom Mr. Gunderson.”


Jacob rose and did what he was told. He could feel everyone starting at his back as he left, with one

set of eyes doing their level best to burn their way straight through him. He turned at the door. Everyone

was looking, but Madison was the only one that he saw. Her face was a combination of vindictiveness and

victim. Jacob could feel words forming in his gut. Terrible words. He could feel them rising to the surface.

Madison’s eyes narrowed. Jacob opened his mouth. Mr. Estevez pointed sharply toward the door.

“Mr. Gunderson. Bathroom. Now.”

Jacob took in a breath and let it out. He did as he was told. In the bathroom, he wet a paper towel

and scrubbed the back of his hand, his mouth, and his cheek. The lipstick on the face in the mirror

disappeared, but still Jacob kept scrubbing. He could still feel it on his skin. His stomach was twisted up in

knots. His whole body was shaking. He forced himself to stop. He threw the paper towel into the trash can.

He could still feel the lipstick on his face. He walked out of the bathroom and back to the classroom. He

paused by the door and looked at the perfect Falcon on the bulletin board. Part of him wanted to rip it to

pieces, but he didn’t. Instead he absent mindedly scratched at his scoured cheek and opened the door. Mr.

Estevez was reading in front of the class. Madison was sitting at her desk in the front row, prim and proper

as a queen, following every word with apt attention. Jacob walked towards his own desk. Nobody looked at

him.
Fall 2019
Roland Kuhlmeyer

Ex Cathedra

Condemned Building

A building or a boat to be scrapped.


No shed, no inflatable dinghy;
Rather a lifetime’s careful craft.
The keystone corbelled to the regular atria
Of my heart, scaffold of my bloodflow.
Fearfully made, intimate corners, vaulting arches,
Once shared, sacred and safe spaces.
Defiled.
So carelessly destroyed.

The building has lost its integrity


(Oh, what a falling off was there)
Rotting slowly with each damp shadow
Behind the pulling of a curtain
Each obfuscation of light
Each clenching of my vision.
And now I don’t know where to start
To end, to destroy my life’s work.
Eviction Order

I know, I Know, it must come down.


But if I am to stay standing?
How does one destroy a sacred building?

First I must leave the cathedral


Then I must look deeply, painfully into
Those fear-laden buttresses
Those bulwarks of craven commitment
That love of gentle sandstone
Passing over the crumbling mortar
The shot and punctured plaster
Sprinkled lasciviously across the floor.
Did I know, did I foresee?
No, but I felt masonry shifting,
An inward collapsing of equilibrium.

So, I wait and watch the slow sagging


And bowing of supporting walls
And the slipping of tiles.
I watch myself watch.

Demolition Job

Dynamite is not the answer.


An unholy blast and obliteration.
Annihilation and my atria crumbles too
And there is the corollary in my soul
A poisonous vacuum.

But neither do I dismantle brick by brick


By brick...a constellation of stones,
And the slow monotonous, melancholy
Of cold hammer on cold chisel.
I cannot savour destruction.
So I leave the building
And wait until the buttresses
No longer fly
Until my heart’s easy rhythm is restored
And there is only rubble to step over.
Navigation at Night 5/8/17

The marches of the night are long


The swell, the salt smell
Water slides beneath the keel
Winds flap and clap the sail.
Starless, the clouds roll over me.
There are no landmarks
Beyond prow and stern and compass,
Shearwaters call, slice across the waters
Motion sensed, I try to feel a horizon.

A storm comes through


Rising wind, driving rain
The hull tossed like flotsam.

And if on my way
There was a light, a safe harbour,
It is no wonder that in the lee
Of great cliffs, a soft beach,
The scent of grass, I anchored,
Went below and dreamed
In gentle undulations
Sweet water, fresh pasture.

Waking to banshees in the rigging


The gale has chased me down
And the anchor is snagged
Drawing blood from my hands.
I cut the chain
And sail into pitch.
Cleanliness

When the motive reclines lethargic


And the meaning has a bleary head
Billboards will inhabit my eyes
Slogans will jostle in my throat
Then the dreambeats will lose their thud
Fleeing, forlorn in tinkling spirals
Reverberating into the foam of sounds
To hapless extinction.

But when the motive reclines lethargic


There is the guilt athletic
With javelins.
The guilt gymnastic
Clambering into my repose
With deft convultions
Stretch-straining my posture
Pulse-thundering on my dreambeats.

So with this stain of spirit


And this brisk inadequacy
Losing my coordination
Finding my wholeness spastic
And limping apologetic
I stumble after the footfall thuds
Stepping barely audible
Into the explosions down the valley.
Fall 2019
Roger Delgado
Fall 2019
Robin Ray

I Could Pretend

I could pretend voices don’t scar, memories


are dreams to defend. I could interrupt my
solitude at farmers’ markets, spend every food
stamp on esoterica like chayote, seacoral,

red perilla, Okura cross daikons or purple


Romano beans. They might strengthen my
heart but I don’t want to live forever. Suffer
inevitable memory loss, become the gherkin

I despise. Rather catch scents from glass petals.


Basmati rice, when boiled, a carnal pleasure.
Fried, a celebration of life like a full snifter
of Mesopotamian wine from the northern

Zagros mountains of Iran. I could pretend


I’m a fledgling colonist settled in my seaside
home with a baccalaureate in bullshit, but
I’m still me: recherché, negligent, dependent

on charity. Eleemosynary in the flesh.


Fisherman with an allergy to fish. What have
I become? What am I worth? A penny more
than thought? In the end does it matter?
Cinema by the Sea

Once, the marina’s cinema on Maritime Road


offered free passes. Art film poorly received.
Folks trickled in like drips of paint escaping duct
tape. Indonesian cigars? Allowed if you can afford
them. Moscato? That, too. Bikini if you dared

though no one took that challenge. Rained a little.


Random tip-tap beats on the sidewalk. Redundant
in that part of town used to frequents sprays from
cresting waves. Embedded wall speakers in turn
of the century woodwork on full blast. Attention

garnering. Throbbing bass. Vibrated the sleeping


cadavers of ghosts. More than shook them awake.
Knocked an urn of Colombian dark to the freshly
vacuumed lobby carpet. A scent like brazed fur
rose from the stain. A genie from a rancid lamp.

An elderly usher who remembered when the theatre


hosted vaudeville got to work on it right away. The
auditorium filled. Manager smiled. A woman on
high heels tripped in a darkened aisle. The silent
projectionist laughed but slept well that night.
Sacrifice

Souls of common men


are not what I crave;
I’m ancient and can’t be fooled
by tempered graces.
Lives of elysian serfs,
peasants and slaves
are crystals in my
étagère displayed.

Alas, my trophy dome empties,


the void must be claimed
by rulers you’ve hypnotized
to believe they’re gods
who cannot fail
but can be despised
or deposed and maimed.

But who are you to put


dreams in dreamers’ eyes?
Someone who knows
of another that must take a fall.
Be they chairmen or pharaohs,
axis or allies,
sacrifice for mankind.
I’ll take one and all.
Fall 2019
Robert Lietz

WHICH BERRIES

Tell me again nine thousand miles might conceive


and signify, and twenty states, beginning
a year ago tomorrow, occupy themselves, as even
these scribbles must, encouraging
the poem somewhere in this, and photographs, though
we can’t be sure what’s respite or commotion,
or what’s star-brought, in place to improve on roles
and motivation, on staying awake, alert,
avoiding a guard-rail, soft-shoulder run-off compromised,
before a thirsty season settled into it. It’s wrong,
sure, as decisive can be on a Pacific coastal by-way,
a prematurity that tempts me, mind and heart,
minding the time, the miles you step out of, or walk
a little in with an Olympus, lenses decided on,
even as ruins and risks dissolve, as if the scene itself
explains the sprawl, ascent, and the sense you get,
of the planet dropping off below the trail head, this doubt
that toys so thoroughly, threading the confidence
thought shared, voiced by travelers in some other century,
to note which berries, say, might promise taste
or tastelessness, where some, you’ve learned, would find
a home and some revisit, in any of twenty states,
where work we could not complete asks our re-touching,
come to become, so long as love appreciates,
imagining lives, lifetimes, spent in sequoia, geologic cadences,
in seasons to be, no less elastic than creation, so
that emergencies disengage, and aperture, shutter speeds,
presiding, size up scenes as clocks decline,
the afternoon and ridge recalled, where views made do
for sandwiches and lunch breaks, for every
twist of moodiness, through fields cloud-filtered light
played out and over, to tone the timing settled on,
or that road found closed for maintenance, where
you were yet to find the Falls, and still to plot
your way to Coeur d’Alene.
SAFE ENOUGH

Bright sprinkle noon with meaner rains forecast,


mid-afternoon before the expected emphasis.
But the birds aren’t giving clues at any of the four feeders
and squirrels no clues, crossing the stone road
to the puddled land and mixed woods marking properties,
while this dove’s perched regally, owning the knob
that tops the largest feeder’s transparent housing, the dove’s
eye on its dove young, on the plenty below, as finches,
six or so, post up at the twin tubes we’ve hung for them,
ignoring the gas crew, tire-crushed stones,
and the inspectors teamed to check the faulty couplings,
mis-installed last fall in the front yards along Fifteenth.
Not even the redbud, noticing, stops for it, the smalltalk
from the meter, nor the yards in line to be gashed
another season, packed and planted and spread with straw
a second time, returning green to the snug homes
lining village paving, with budding everywhere, or a little
early still, given the record cold, despite this average
topping heat the Kaiser’s forecast through mid-April. But
we’re good for this, we tell ourselves, the third morning
out this week, remembering zero and subzero wind-chills
we skipped walking, years being what years are,
with work enough indoors to ramp up the next season, even
a year from starting out, from the fajitas, beers, a meal
the first night at Los Amigos in Vandalia, as Illinois sunset
closed on St. Louis destined traffic, thinning as that was,
and easing, some, our misgivings over luggage, for gear
we’d felt some thirty days demanded, locked and secure,
we hoped, outside the same flatland Ramada counted on
to break up the hours seasons ago to Fayetteville. And
Los Amigos then, our third time in Vandalia, our first choice
burned and a second just about acceptable, Los Amigos,
maybe for our last time in Vandalia, with news we’d learn
between Graceland and Napa Valley, a family on the move
to Bloomington, though we hadn’t expected that, even
if the spring had sensed as much, if this groundhog might
have known, coaxed a foot or so from shadows, from
the play of light through split bridge boards a groundhog’s
stretched awake beneath, to climb into light again, hug
the still damp bridge post and duck under, with so many states
himself to see about, and so much groundhog dreaming
to revisit, and these rains, for all I know, undone, unfinished
yet. I think how we missed all this a year ago, at Bryce,
Yosemite, away till mid-May and back, to those robins begun
in the front-yard rhododendron, those five timed right
for our returning, admiration, and our lenses, yes, where
these cardinals, nesting now, stake claims to seat
necessity’s new darlings, safe enough from cats, from
the hawk’s menacing, or safe enough, the ways
that guessing makes it so.
Fall 2019

SLEEPWALKER, NUDE
Patrick Chapman

{all of the bells in your mind ring at once}

heat

your vulva when you ovulate is love


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

your vulva when you ovulate is love


your vulva when you ovulate is love

your vulva when you ovulate is love


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


your vulva when you ovulate is love

your vulva when you ovulate is love

kiss

your mother’s fury forges your desire

your mother’s fury forges your desire


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


your mother’s fury forges your desire

your mother’s fury forges your desire


your mother’s fury forges your desire

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


your mother’s fury forges your desire

love

i think of you and want to end my life


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

i think of you and want to end my life


i think of you and want to end my life

i think of you and want to end my life


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


i think of you and want to end my life

i think of you and want to end my life

red

i cut myself to save you from my pain

i cut myself to save you from my pain


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


i cut myself to save you from my pain

i cut myself to save you from my pain


i cut myself to save you from my pain

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


i cut myself to save you from my pain

ring

please take your hand off me or take my hand


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

please take your hand off me or take my hand


please take your hand off me or take my hand

please take your hand off me or take my hand


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


please take your hand off me or take my hand

please take your hand off me or take my hand

song

shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up

shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up

shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up


shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up

gone

i hear the door and know my day is done


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

i hear the door and know my day is done


i hear the door and know my day is done

i hear the door and know my day is done


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


i hear the door and know my day is done

i hear the door and know my day is done

sleepwalk no. 1

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


your vulva when you ovulate is love

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


your mother’s fury forges your desire

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


i think of you and want to end my life

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


i cut myself to save you from my pain

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


please take your hand off me or take my hand

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


i hear the door and know my day is done

{crepuscular}

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


all of the bells in your mind ring at once
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
all of the bells in your mind ring at once

dare

you taunt him is he man or is he mouse


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

you taunt him is he man or is he mouse


you taunt him is he man or is he mouse

you taunt him is he man or is he mouse


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


you taunt him is he man or is he mouse

you taunt him is he man or is he mouse

limp

your anger when he cannot give you seed

your anger when he cannot give you seed


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


your anger when he cannot give you seed

your anger when he cannot give you seed


your anger when he cannot give you seed

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


your anger when he cannot give you seed

no

the belt you used to make him beat them with


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

the belt you used to make him beat them with


the belt you used to make him beat them with

the belt you used to make him beat them with


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


the belt you used to make him beat them with

the belt you used to make him beat them with

yes

he’d leave you but he took a solemn vow

he’d leave you but he took a solemn vow


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


he’d leave you but he took a solemn vow

he’d leave you but he took a solemn vow


he’d leave you but he took a solemn vow

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


he’d leave you but he took a solemn vow

sear

the torch you hold for him to burn you with


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

the torch you hold for him to burn you with


the torch you hold for him to burn you with

the torch you hold for him to burn you with


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


the torch you hold for him to burn you with

the torch you hold for him to burn you with

eyes

his mind has yet to come back from the war

his mind has yet to come back from the war


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


his mind has yet to come back from the war

his mind has yet to come back from the war


his mind has yet to come back from the war

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


his mind has yet to come back from the war

stop

do not discuss your private life with me


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

do not discuss your private life with me


do not discuss your private life with me

do not discuss your private life with me


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


do not discuss your private life with me

do not discuss your private life with me

sleepwalk no. 2

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


you taunt him is he man or is he mouse

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


your anger when he cannot give you seed

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


the belt you used to make him beat them with

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


he’d leave you but he took a solemn vow

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


the torch you hold for him to burn you with

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


his mind has yet to come back from the war

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


do not discuss your private life with me

{to chime in your memory}

node

to function as a subset of your smile


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

to function as a subset of your smile


to function as a subset of your smile

to function as a subset of your smile


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


to function as a subset of your smile

to function as a subset of your smile

trust

you eat the bead i tell you is a pea

you eat the bead i tell you is a pea


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


you eat the bead i tell you is a pea

you eat the bead i tell you is a pea


you eat the bead i tell you is a pea

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


you eat the bead i tell you is a pea

rush

hot gush i push from in behind your bush


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

hot gush i push from in behind your bush


hot gush i push from in behind your bush

hot gush i push from in behind your bush


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


hot gush i push from in behind your bush

hot gush i push from in behind your bush

salt

i sink my teeth into your bovine face

i sink my teeth into your bovine face


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


i sink my teeth into your bovine face

i sink my teeth into your bovine face


i sink my teeth into your bovine face

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


i sink my teeth into your bovine face

lick

the bright blue vein that pulses in your breast


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

the bright blue vein that pulses in your breast


the bright blue vein that pulses in your breast

the bright blue vein that pulses in your breast


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


the bright blue vein that pulses in your breast

the bright blue vein that pulses in your breast

hush

we do not speak of this to anyone

we do not speak of this to anyone


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


we do not speak of this to anyone

we do not speak of this to anyone


we do not speak of this to anyone

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


we do not speak of this to anyone

swing

suspended you will find me in the tower


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

suspended you will find me in the tower


suspended you will find me in the tower

suspended you will find me in the tower


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


suspended you will find me in the tower

suspended you will find me in the tower

sleepwalk no. 3

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


to function as a subset of your smile

all of the tongues in your head ring at once


you eat the bead i tell you is a pea

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


hot gush i push from in behind your bush

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


i sink my teeth into your bovine face

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


the bright blue vein that pulses in your breast

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


we do not speak of this to anyone

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


suspended you will find me in the tower

{oracular}

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once

mode

contained within the cage of your despair


all of the bells in your mind ring at once
contained within the cage of your despair
contained within the cage of your despair
contained within the cage of your despair
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
contained within the cage of your despair
contained within the cage of your despair

come

for true love catch and isolate the one


for true love catch and isolate the one
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
for true love catch and isolate the one
for true love catch and isolate the one
for true love catch and isolate the one
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
for true love catch and isolate the one

rope

i live inside the limit of your will


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

i live inside the limit of your will


i live inside the limit of your will

i live inside the limit of your will


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


i live inside the limit of your will

i live inside the limit of your will

mist

my memories erased as soon as made


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

my memories erased as soon as made


my memories erased as soon as made

my memories erased as soon as made


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


my memories erased as soon as made

my memories erased as soon as made

glow

the christ child sucks the milk out of your tit

the christ child sucks the milk out of your tit


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


the christ child sucks the milk out of your tit

the christ child sucks the milk out of your tit


the christ child sucks the milk out of your tit

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


the christ child sucks the milk out of your tit

hit

to cry about to cry about to cry


to cry about to cry about to cry
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
to cry about to cry about to cry
to cry about to cry about to cry
to cry about to cry about to cry
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
to cry about to cry about to cry

bliss

a charismatic hit squad killed your mom


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

a charismatic hit squad killed your mom


a charismatic hit squad killed your mom

a charismatic hit squad killed your mom


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


a charismatic hit squad killed your mom

a charismatic hit squad killed your mom

sleepwalk no. 4

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


contained within the cage of your despair
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
for true love catch and isolate the one
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
i live inside the limit of your will
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
my memories erased as soon as made
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
the christ child sucks the milk out of your tit
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
to cry about to cry about to cry
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
a charismatic hit squad killed your mom

{with two slightly distorted desires}

mood

my every waking hour a graphite blur


all of the bells in your mind ring at once
my every waking hour a graphite blur
my every waking hour a graphite blur
my every waking hour a graphite blur
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
my every waking hour a graphite blur
my every waking hour a graphite blur

bit

so what if i destroy myself with sex


so what if i destroy myself with sex
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
so what if i destroy myself with sex
so what if i destroy myself with sex
so what if i destroy myself with sex
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
so what if i destroy myself with sex

flow

a father taps the virgin’s holy flow


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

a father taps the virgin’s holy flow


a father taps the virgin’s holy flow

a father taps the virgin’s holy flow


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


a father taps the virgin’s holy flow

a father taps the virgin’s holy flow

hope

my life is dust it all has gone to earth

my life is dust it all has gone to earth


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


my life is dust it all has gone to earth

my life is dust it all has gone to earth


my life is dust it all has gone to earth

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


my life is dust it all has gone to earth

wet

you sip my urine with a slice of lime


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

you sip my urine with a slice of lime


you sip my urine with a slice of lime

you sip my urine with a slice of lime


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


you sip my urine with a slice of lime

you sip my urine with a slice of lime

soil

i bleed out in your neon-ghosted shrine

i bleed out in your neon-ghosted shrine


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


i bleed out in your neon-ghosted shrine

i bleed out in your neon-ghosted shrine


i bleed out in your neon-ghosted shrine

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


i bleed out in your neon-ghosted shrine

rot

my bones lie in the body of a saint


all of the bells in your mind ring at once
my bones lie in the body of a saint
my bones lie in the body of a saint
my bones lie in the body of a saint
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
my bones lie in the body of a saint
my bones lie in the body of a saint

sleepwalk no. 5

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


my every waking hour a graphite blur

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


so what if i destroy myself with sex

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


a father taps the virgin’s holy flow

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


my life is dust it all has gone to earth

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


you sip my urine with a slice of lime

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


i bleed out in your neon-ghosted shrine

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


my bones lie in the body of a saint

{somnambular}

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once

blood

your mother leaves the bathroom door ajar


all of the bells in your mind ring at once
your mother leaves the bathroom door ajar
your mother leaves the bathroom door ajar
your mother leaves the bathroom door ajar
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
your mother leaves the bathroom door ajar
your mother leaves the bathroom door ajar

breath

your sigh can freeze the blood in any vein

your sigh can freeze the blood in any vein


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


your sigh can freeze the blood in any vein

your sigh can freeze the blood in any vein


your sigh can freeze the blood in any vein

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


your sigh can freeze the blood in any vein

crash

bring on the car that carries you away


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

bring on the car that carries you away


bring on the car that carries you away

bring on the car that carries you away


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


bring on the car that carries you away

bring on the car that carries you away

turn

the love you nurtured withered on the vine

the love you nurtured withered on the vine


all of the drums in your heart bang at once

all of the tongues in your head sing at once


the love you nurtured withered on the vine

the love you nurtured withered on the vine


the love you nurtured withered on the vine

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


the love you nurtured withered on the vine

nude

the woman at the window cups her breast


all of the bells in your mind ring at once
the woman at the window cups her breast
the woman at the window cups her breast
the woman at the window cups her breast
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
the woman at the window cups her breast
the woman at the window cups her breast

slur

you ruin your eggshell pedestrian


you ruin your eggshell pedestrian
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
you ruin your eggshell pedestrian
you ruin your eggshell pedestrian
you ruin your eggshell pedestrian
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
you ruin your eggshell pedestrian

home

come into the chasm out of which you came


all of the bells in your mind ring at once

come into the chasm out of which you came


come into the chasm out of which you came

come into the chasm out of which you came


all of the tongues in your head sing at once

all of the drums in your heart bang at once


come into the chasm out of which you came

come into the chasm out of which you came

sleepwalk no. 6

all of the bells in your mind ring at once


your mother leaves the bathroom door ajar
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
your sigh can freeze the blood in any vein
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
bring on the car that carries you away
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
the love you nurtured withered on the vine
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
the woman at the window cups her breast
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
you ruin your eggshell pedestrian
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
come into the chasm out of which you came

{sleepwalker, nude: pianola}

your vulva when you ovulate is love


all of the bells in your mind ring at once
your mother’s fury forges your desire
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
i think of you and want to end my life
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
i cut myself to save you from my pain
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
please take your hand off me or take my hand
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
i hear the door and know my day is done
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
you taunt him is he man or is he mouse
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
your anger when he cannot give you seed
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
the belt you used to make him beat them with
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
he’d leave you but he took a solemn vow
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
the torch you hold for him to burn you with
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
his mind has yet to come back from the war
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
do not discuss your private life with me
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
to function as a subset of your smile
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
you eat the bead i tell you is a pea
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
hot gush i push from in behind your bush
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
i sink my teeth into your bovine face
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
the bright blue vein that pulses in your breast
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
we do not speak of this to anyone
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
suspended you will find me in the tower
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
contained within the cage of your despair
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
for true love catch and isolate the one
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
i live inside the limit of your will
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
my memories erased as soon as made
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
the christ child sucks the milk out of your tit
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
to cry about to cry about to cry
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
a charismatic hit squad killed your mom
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
my every waking hour a graphite blur
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
so what if i destroy myself with sex
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
a father taps the virgin’s holy flow
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
my life is dust it all has gone to earth
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
you sip my urine with a slice of lime
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
i bleed out in your neon-ghosted shrine
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
my bones lie in the body of a saint
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
your mother leaves the bathroom door ajar
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
your sigh can freeze the blood in any vein
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
bring on the car that carries you away
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
the love you nurtured withered on the vine
all of the drums in your heart bang at once
the woman at the window cups her breast
all of the bells in your mind ring at once
you ruin your eggshell pedestrian
all of the tongues in your head sing at once
come into the chasm out of which you came
all of the drums in your heart bang at once

{somnambular bells}

all
of

the
bells

in
my

sleep
crack

at
once
Fall 2019
Pascale Potvin

An Involuntary Consequence

The first skin-scraping call came in 2015, when I was twenty-three and cooking chicken in my

Springfield apartment. It’d already been a dark and pungent afternoon; the November air had clawed at me

as if my body contained a sultry secret. Still, I wasn’t prepared for the grating sounds of my father’s sobs.

“I just fought with Tommy,” he said, once he’d regained some control of the noises coming from his

mouth. “I don’t know what to do. I’ve lost him.”

“What do you mean? What happened?” I sat at the table and dangled my fingers into the Mason jar

centerpiece, seeking the warmth of the candle inside. Natty always complained when she saw me doing that;

she claimed I’d burn myself. I knew that she just didn’t like me playing with her DIY projects.

“I don’t even know how to…” Dad said. “Not over the phone. Jesus. I’ve failed as a father.”

“Thanks,” I joked, trying to lighten the mood, but it was like taping feathers to a decaying bird. It fell

flat.

I had only once before heard this tone of voice from my father. So, despite the fact that I had an

important event at work the next day, and that I’d told Natty we’d see her friend in The Bald Soprano, I asked:
“Do you want me to come home?”

“That’s why I called,” he told me. “He really needs a woman to talk to him. I… hate to ask, Sophie…”

For a few strange, dissociative moments, I thought I could smell my own insides start to putrefy. He

needs a woman to talk to him?, I wondered. What could that mean?

I’d reached my second stoplight before I thought to text my boss about the emergency, to ask Natty to

turn off the oven when she got home.

I made it to Dad’s after about five hours. His eyes had gone a paler blue; his skin hung from his gaunt

cheeks with the weight of tonight’s insomnia. It was only as I was sitting on the couch that I noticed the

papers in his hand. He used them to point at the teapot on the coffee table, which I ignored.

“I told him to stay in my room until we’re done,” he muttered when he sat across from me. “When

you’re ready, he’ll come down.”

“What is this?” I asked. My voice was still hoarse from the crying I’d done in the car. I’d been

reminiscing; Tommy used to fall asleep so much, as a kid, that our parents had had him tested for narcolepsy

(verdict: he was just sleepy). He’d wake me up, some mornings, by jumping on my bed. He’d once gotten in

trouble for accidentally downloading three gigabytes of Mother’s Day e-cards to a school computer. “Look--

is this a Brock Turner situation?” I asked.

Dad paused, exhaled loudly. “Not that I know about,” he told me. “Honestly, he leaves the house so

rarely. And he hasn’t written about hurting anyone, so…”

I was so tangled up in my relief that the last bit took a moment to process.

“Written?” I asked.

Dad pursed his lips as he placed the papers on the table, pushed them toward me.
“I came into his room, today, when he was showering,” he explained. “I was sick of how messy it was--

and, god fuck--I saw… he’d left his monitor on.”

“Dad?” I pressed. It was like I had plaster building in my chest.

“You ever hear of incels?”

I hadn’t. I became well enough acquainted with the kinds of people that incels were, however, as I

read through the posts that Tommy had made in their community forums.

Mainly, he’d been criticizing the girls at his college. He seemed angry that they’d ever have lives

outside of him, for some reason--even when they didn’t know him. Apparently, refusing free weed from him-

-a stranger at a party--but smoking with other people could make a girl a ‘slut’. So could walking into

Starbucks with one’s ‘testosterone-fuelled’ boyfriend (‘testosterone-fuelled’ being code for… more muscular

than him?). Tommy wrote, too, like it was some sort of ethical failure to not want a second date with him. He

was convinced that all women were too shallow to ever want less attractive, ‘involuntary celibates’ like

himself.

They honestly don’t know what’s best for them, he’d written, only a few months ago--When you think

about it, they’re kind of more like pets, that way. And you wouldn’t let a select number of people hoard all the pets in

the world. They have to be handed out more equally for things to work, both for them and for everyone else.

I felt like I was reading The Communist Manifesto for Virgins.

Unfortunately, the writings only escalated from there. And, finally, after reading a post about

wanting a full-bodied organic sex doll, I pressed my hands against my face.


My pulse was hot against my palms as I kept trying to process. I was confused, before anything else.

Weren’t sex dolls meant to simulate the experience of being with a woman? I knew that I was out of touch

with men’s wants, nowadays, but I never thought they’d start seeking the opposite effect.

“I called the internet provider,” Dad spoke again. His voice was bumpy and tingling, as if covered

with a rash. “And all sites like this are now blocked from the house. But I don’t know what else to do. I had

no clue. I mean, he was kind of antisocial, but I mean, he’s nineteen years old, I thought he would… What

should I do? Should I put him in therapy?”

“Uh.”

Before that night, I hadn’t known that anyone believed in the kinds of things Tommy had written--let

alone an entire online herd. My brain was too busy, in the moment, trying to escape from the dimension in

which such thinking existed.

Most of all, it was escaping my body.

It was probably selfish of me, but I was becoming much more concerned for myself than I was for

Tommy. I thought about every man I’d ever rejected; I wondered if any of them had written, or even

thought, about me in such a bent and knotted way. Soon, I was hyper-conscious of every hole in my body: of

every pore, of every microscopic pocket in my skin. I wanted to shut everything off, to become impenetrable,

even by air. I rejected my body like a one might a kidney transplant.

As the walking upstairs started, though, my soul flooded back down. It went into my legs, especially--

charging, above all, my instinct to run. The footsteps were a threatening cloud above my head, rumbling low

and primal.

Never before had I felt afraid of my baby brother.


Within seconds, though, the noise was at the top of the stairs, by the kitchen. Then, it stopped, was

replaced.

“You know I heard everything you’ve been saying,” Tommy called. His words were cool and smooth,

at first. The cutting edge came at the end of his sentence, like the sharpest icicle. “You said you wouldn’t

show her.”

“I don’t owe you anything,” Dad yelled, furrowing his bushy brows. But it was about as threatening as

throwing a ball at a dog. The Tommy I knew would only bite into it, bring it back around for more.

“Wait,” I interjected. “I’m not mad.”

All I wanted to do, really, was to run up the stairs and to scream at him: haven’t I taught you better?!. At

the same time, though, I was still riding the high of learning that Tommy hadn’t really assaulted anyone. I

also knew he’d only argue with me if I yelled.

My gentler choice of words, though, successfully lured my brother down to the kitchen. I hadn’t seen

him in about eight months; I’d almost forgotten what he looked like. Of course I have a mental image of the

person I grew up with, but I’ve found I don’t truly see a person until I make eye contact with them. And, in

that moment, I saw something in Tommy’s eyes that I hadn’t expected. I’d thought he’d be looking down on

me, now, like one would a humanoid they didn’t respect. Instead, I saw something that I could never have

conceptualized. A very specific kind of sadness.

I was surprised, too, by the way that he looked, because he’d written about himself as if he were some

repulsive monster. The words had actually managed to reshape my memory of his appearance (though it

hadn’t helped that he’d written monstrous things). Tommy, though, was pretty normal looking; I could say

that objectively, being his sister and also a lesbian. Most obviously, he needed a haircut--his blond cowlick
was flopping onto his forehead--and like me, he was still a bit too slim. His skin was dry, but he had

noticeably sharp features (we’d been told we shared our mother’s cheekbones) and some beauty marks here

and there.

“Let’s go for a drive,” I told him.

The idea of getting back into my car was dreadful, of course. But I knew that as Tommy’s chauffeur, I’d have

control over our conversation--and I was the type of person who always needed the upper hand. (I’d even

been bitter, for a while, after he’d passed me in height--though he was now convinced, apparently, that his

5’10 was dwarfish).

Tired as I was, I started my spiel as we attached our seatbelts.

“You know women aren’t gonna like you if you think about them like that,” I told him with an angry

click. “It really just seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Tommy only scooted down his seat, crossed his arms.

“But you don’t get it,” I continued, “’Cause these… people… have infected you with all their bullshit.”

Still no response.

“Fine,” I said, my annoyance turning more fertile. I turned the key in the ignition. “Dad’s not here, so let’s get

to what this is really about.”

He looked at me.

“Mom left us for another man.” I grabbed at the wheel, turned on the headlights. “So, now, you think every

single woman is a whore. Right? But, buddy, mommy issues also aren’t the most-”

“It’s not about that,” Tommy spat. “At all.”


“Right.” I pressed on the gas and brought us out to the dark street. My plan was to take us in circles,

around the neighborhood, until he apologized. “What, then?”

He leaned his head back in his seat. “I can’t believe you’re still defending her,” he grumbled.

“That is not-” I started again, with heat rising to my chest. “You know it messed me up, too.”

“Uh, huh.”

“It even messed with my dating confidence,” I hammered down. “But you also may have noticed I

didn’t lose respect for every woman in the world.”

There was a slight pause, and then he looked down at me with flat eyes.

“Maybe not,” he mumbled, “But…”

“But what?”

“You did lose respect for yourself.”

“…Excuse me?” I dug my nails into the wheel. My heart started to pound. “Just admit you’re the one

who doesn’t respect me, dude. Come on. Tell a girl, to her face, that you think she’s below you.”

But he only exhaled from his nose. “I don’t think that, Sophie,” he said, now with more stone in his

voice. It was a victory on my part--but it still, for some reason, felt like a loss. “You were always good to me.

You became my mom.”

Oh, I get it, I thought. So, now, I’m His Decent Jew. Since Tommy and I had grown up together, he didn’t

view me like he did other women--as if I were, at all, objectively different.

“But that doesn’t mean,” he continued--and it was the vocal equivalent of turning up the stove by a single

notch--“That I can’t disagree with your values.”

“Values?” I squeezed.
“Sophie,” he repeated, sighing. “My room was right next to yours. You think I didn’t hear you

sneaking out your window three nights a week, back in high school? You think I didn’t see you out of mine

when you came home, your makeup as fucked as you?”

He was exaggerating with the ‘three nights a week’ claim. Still, a meaty disgust took form, inside of me, at the

idea that my brother had been listening in on me… watching me… when he was only about twelve or

thirteen. The hair on my arms started to rise, as if fondled.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” I grimaced, though too embarrassed to look back at him. “Spying

on me?”

“I couldn’t help but hear,” he said.

I scoffed.

“I’m not lying,” he told me. “Sorry that I was sensitive to hearing someone leave at night.” His voice had

tipped, now: partially raised at me and partially defeated.

The words bounced painfully, back and forth, down my inner walls. I stopped the car in the street,

turned toward him.

“You were awake?” I asked. “You heard her?”

He only crumpled up his lips, as if trying to tackle the truth before it escaped out to the world.

I tried again. “Why didn’t you ever tell-”

“Why do you think?” he grunted, low and buried.

We sat in silence until something else became obvious to me.

“Were you watching for me to come home…” I asked, “To make sure that I did?”

He paused, gave a hunched shrug.


“Okay. Look,” I said. I took off my seatbelt and got on my knees, on the seat, so that I could speak down to

him. “You’re right because I did lack self-respect, back then. But it wasn’t ‘cause of her. And it isn’t like that

for every girl who does those things. I was repressed. And I was numbing the pain by throwing myself at

guys. I need you to understand that.”

I still really couldn’t believe Tommy’s talk of values. A lot of the things he’d written, strangely, had

been like a twisted form of Christianity--something he’d always rejected, growing up. I had been the one to

turn to Jesus, for a while (…but Jesus didn’t do anything for me, so I switched to alcohol and sex. As I’d once

joked to Natty, my tits were out because I wasn’t).

“I do understand,” Tommy said. I held my breath, knowing not to get too hopeful. “I understand that

that’s what you truly believe. But I also think you might be afraid men won’t want you, now, ‘cause of how

much you’ve already given away.”

Oh, fuck no, I thought. I was all the way back to fuck you, Tommy.

I shouldn’t have been surprised; I’d felt homophobic energy from my brother ever since I’d come out,

first introduced him to Natty. He’d always gone quieter around her, talked about her like she was just my

friend. She’d joked that he was jealous I was with a beautiful Peruvian woman, and that was honestly

probably a big part of it; it was less available pussy for him and his ‘brothers’, after all.

“So it’s not okay for women to have sex,” I argued, “Unless it’s with you?”

“Obviously, when it comes to you,” he rolled his eyes, “I wasn’t mad it wasn’t with me. I just want you

to be able to have a good relationship.”

“I am in a good relationship,” I said, a flame between my lips, “And I wouldn’t be, I can tell you, if I

were handed out like some pet to a random man.”


“You don’t know that,” he said, after another pause. It was hard to know if he truly believed all that he

was saying, though; he’d always loved to rile me up. Not knowing his true intentions riled me up more.

“Dude. I know what this is about. Okay?” I retorted. “A woman having free will is the reason we don’t

have a mom. But I’m still here, right? Doesn’t that count?”

He let out another sigh. “Yes. You were always there, and I appreciate it,” he told me, his voice going

soft. “But I won’t say I told you so if, halfway into building a family with her, you realize you’re meant for a

man.” He spoke so gently, still--soft enough to sink into--and, soon enough, I felt like I had sand in my throat.

My heart thrashed, fighting to get me out of his trap, his concerned brother charade.

“Fine, then,” I grumbled. “Let’s do it. Hand me over to one of your Internet friends. Tonight. You’d

trust me in one of their hands, right?”

His gaze weakened.

“They know how to treat a girl, after all,” I continued. “They wouldn’t ever-”

“’Kay,” he grunted. “I got your point.”

“Except you really haven’t,” I told him, sitting back down. “Just... come on. You’re obviously aware of

how horrible your beliefs are when you picture them inflicted on me. But it’s still not all clicking.”

He shifted in his seat.

“Maybe it’s ‘cause I’m older, so you don’t feel as protective of me,” I guessed. “Maybe if Dad had managed to

adopt that other girl, you’d be thinking different.”

And I thought I saw just a bit of light shining through my brother’s cloudy gray eyes, then, as he

remembered Felicity. I hadn’t forgotten about the ways that seven-year-old Tommy had planned all he’d

teach his new baby sister; the idea of filling that empty space had been refreshing for all of us. It’d been a
double loss when things didn’t work out. The adoption process, as we’d learned, was difficult for single

fathers with newly halved funds.

“Different, how?” Tommy muttered.

“I’m sure that when you do find someone, and you have a daughter, one day-” I continued.

“What?”

“Your perspective will change,” I told him. “I know it will.”

I was back at my apartment at about six, the next morning. Dad had insisted that I stay in my old

room, for the night, but I’d counter-insisted that I couldn’t miss work. It was true that it’d be a special day for

the store; a group of fancy artists were coming in to look at bird feeders for their newest installation (‘The

Free Market Consuming Capitalist Gentrifications of Labor’… or something like that). But, since I’d also

already told my boss that I wouldn’t make it, I was secretly planning on spending the day asleep.

The truth was that I knew I wouldn’t have been able to sleep in my old bed, anyway. I would have

had the constant feeling that Tommy might be against the other side of the wall near my head, standing over

me, listening.

Natty had turned on the bedroom light by the time that I approached. After bumping into a paper

lantern in the doorway, I found her standing in front of the mirror, brushing her soft hair. Seeing me, she

smiled; the popping apples of her cheeks helped to tame my brain. I loved Natalie. Even though she refused

to use a grocery list, and she was afraid of loose hairs, and she always sounded like she was about to sneeze

when she was about to come--I loved her.

“So? Are you okay?” she asked. “What happened?”


“Nothing. My brother is the next Trump,” I mumbled, already taking off my pants.

“What?!”

“I’ll tell you tomorrow,” I said. I took off my glasses and climbed under our quirky, puppy-patterned

duvet. “Sleepy.”

“Okay,” she laughed. “…Geez. He is such a prick. I guess we won’t be using his sperm, huh?”

At that, I shifted with discomfort.

Every few months for the following three years, Dad gave me an update about the state of my

brother. Not only were his evil websites blocked, he was now required to go to therapy, join at least one

school club, and to take a women’s studies course (ha). It all helped; from what I heard and occasionally

witnessed, Tommy seemed to be rising to better spirits. He even spent the majority of one Christmas Eve

teaching me how to play an online adventure game, then bickering with me about whether Mother! was a

good film (I was anti- baby eating). Though we still had far to go, I could tell we were making our way to

talking like before.

The most glistening day, though, was that of his graduation.

It was one particular moment that stuck the hardest. Like the sun above us that day, it’d later become

vivid and sweltering in my mind. The three of us had been standing behind the convocation building, after

the ceremony, dripping like body-odor candles among the packed, but happy, crowd; Tommy was in his

robe, holding his computing diploma. He looked so healthy and fresh, he was almost gleaming (it wasn’t just

the sweat on his forehead). Dad asked if he was excited for the future, and he popped what looked like his

most genuine smile in a decade.


The next part, a “maybe one day he’ll even find a girlfriend,” tease from a nearby friend of his, wasn’t

as important to me as the fact that he’d made friends. But it did come back to mind about four months later.

“Do you want to go to McDonald’s?” he asked me, one night over the phone as I was settling in bed.

“Uh… not really?” I responded.

“Not even for old times’ sake?”

He was referring to the fact that every day after school over a period of a few years, the two of us would go to

a McDonald’s close to our house. I’d help him with his homework and we’d play games on napkins while we

waited for our dad to finish work.

But while Tommy had just moved out of our hometown, he lived in an adjoining city still hours away.

“You’re far,” I reminded him. I pointed a confused look toward Natty, who put down her Pride and

Prejudice to return it.

“But I have something to tell you,” he said. His voice had hardened a little. “I don’t want to do it over

the phone, but I can meet you somewhere-”

“It’s okay,” I decided. “We can go to the one near Dad’s. Make it a visit.”

Walking into that McDonald’s, on Saturday afternoon, was like taking a whiff of the past… plus a lot

of oil. I realized that I’d much preferred the excessive, artificial flavoring when I’d been young; I also

understood why the shiny plastic walls and shiny, plastic smiles hanging from them had appealed to a girl

who’d taken comfort in dollhouses. In that moment, though, the design only gave me a familiar awareness of

the tiny cracks and craters in my skin.

A minute after taking my place in line behind three teenage boys, I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“Hey,” I said, and Tommy and I did the polite, one-armed hug. He had a backpack on, for some

reason, which brought forth even more memories. “How are you?” I asked. Years ago, I’d probably just have

greeted him by pointing at him; there was definitely still an uncomfortable barrier between us.

I was grateful, though, that it wasn’t made of glass.

“Good,” Tommy said. And he raised his eyebrows at me, expectantly.

“Same,” I told him.

“How’s the teacher?”

“Same,” I repeated, with a smile. “So, when am I gonna see your place?”

“Oh. Well, it’s not really… ready yet.”

“That’s okay,” I said. And then, I couldn’t help it: “I’m just proud of you.”

He returned my smile, but then his eyes glazed over.

Though we hadn’t touched the topic in years, the subtext of my last statement had definitely been:

I’m proud of you because you used to be an incel. And maybe that had been purposeful. Maybe the time that I’d

just spent in the car, wondering what I was about to learn about my brother… maybe it’d brought back some

old and sticky feelings. Perhaps the true meaning of my words had been: I’m proud of you unless you’re about to

tell me you’re still an incel.

“How’s the job?” I asked, next, as I was filling my cup with Coke Zero.

“Kinda depressing,” he admitted. “Working with peoples’ medical records. Feels invasive.”

“And the pay?”

“Eh.” He received his food, and we went to the table underneath the photo of a golden retriever

drinking water. I had a memory of an eight-year old Tommy sitting there, flicking an elastic band at me.
“Well, I definitely wasn’t doing any better, at twenty-two,” I told him, sitting down.

But he said nothing as he sat across from me, and that’s how I knew that something was bothering him.

Regular Tommy wouldn’t have missed the chance to tease: ‘or at twenty-six’.

“So… I have two things to tell you,” he said. I could sense him tapping his foot under the table.

“Easiest first?”

“One kind of has to come before the other.”

“Okay.”

“I’m gay.”

I couldn’t speak for a moment. If spoken to again, I felt I might even have disintegrated. Many people

would believe that in my position, they’d have the perfect TV-style, I love you for who you are response. Yet I,

the gay sister, only managed a “you’re…” and a hint of a, “but…”

“But I horribly objectified women.” He said it for me.

I focused on remembering how to nod, and then I nodded.

“Because I was an inbecel,” he chuckled. “Well… here’s the truth coming out, I guess.” He folded his hands

on the table, stared at them.

“…Tommy?” I tried again.

“As you know… I was pretty hateful,” he continued, and he let out a jagged breath. “I had a bunch of

anger, but it was mostly at myself. I… I was obsessed with girls ‘cause I thought that being with one would…

untaint me. Or something.”

“No,” I said. It was almost a plea. No. That’s too horrible to be true. After a few moments, though, it

started to make sense. Oh, no. It made sense. I fell back down to Earth, cracked right open.
“But, as you also know, none would let me in their pants, probably because I was super insecure,” he

said. “And since I wasn’t actually attracted to them, I had no fuckin’ game. But, still… I lost it. My issues were

their fault, y’know? It was their job to convert me, and they were refusing to do that. So, I turned all my hate

at them… and the incel forums really enabled that.”

“Oh, god,” I said. Tears were now knocking--banging--at my inner door. I took his hands in mine.

“Dad doesn’t know yet,” he said. “I wanted to tell you, first, because I really have to thank you.”

“For what?” I sniffled. “Also being gay?” Another idiotic response.

He grinned, amused. “No,” he said. “I mean… for that talk you gave me, a few years back.” He paused

as his smile tucked itself back away. “When Dad found all my posts, I was really at, uh… my worst point. The

things those people said had really just distorted reality, for me. I… don’t want to imagine how much worse I

would have spiraled if I didn’t get that intervention from you.”

I nodded, fully crying now.

“Of course, I believed that people like Dad--fuckin… ‘normies’, I would call them--were the ones who were

brainwashed,” he continued. “I didn’t hear anything he told me about how wrong I was. But, then, you… you

took me in your car, and… some of the things you said actually got through.”

Thinking back to that night, I realized what kind of pain must have been behind all of his comments.

“You mean the stuff about how I used to hate myself, too?” I mumbled, the tears scintillating on my

skin.

He nodded, looking away. “When you told me that you’d gone through something similar, running to

guys ‘cause you were in denial… I mean, I already knew about it, yeah, but ‘cause of how I viewed myself, I

was convinced you just needed the right man. Hearing it so raw from you, though… and seeing you light up
when you talked about your relationship… fuck, it made me realize you really were okay and happy. And so,

seriously, I am so, so grateful for that conversation. It was like an epiphany.”

“Wow,” I whimpered. I pulled a hand back away to wipe my face.

“I did some soul-searching,” he said, rolling my other hand in his palm. “I mean, being blocked from

the sites obviously really helped. Then, one night, I had a bit too much beer by myself and I was like, fuck it.

What will it hurt? And I switched my gender preference on Tinder.”

“Oh my god, yes,” I whispered.

“At first, I got pissed, seeing all those guys,” he said. “I was just jealous of their confidence, though.

And things changed when I started getting matches. I got way more than I was getting before.”

“Women are pickier, dude,” I said.

He coughed. “I ended up chatting with this one guy, and we talked basically all night,” he admitted. “I

told him how I felt. I mean, how I was new and insecure. You know how guys will hire hookers and just end

up crying in their arms? It was like the gay version of that.”

I laughed.

“And he was super nice about it. I was, like, really lucky to have matched with him. He ended up inviting me

to this gay bar, over in the city, and I built up the courage to go, and everyone there was so nice. I think he

told them about my issue, but, yeah. I was still way too shy to flirt back with anyone, but the guys there made

me feel more attractive than seriously ever. It was exactly what I needed.”

My smile continued to grow upward, finally without the weight it’d been carrying for the past few

years. It’d really been so brave of Tommy to put himself out there, to tell me all about it like this. I’d been

shaking quite a bit, the first few times that I’d come out to people--but while there’d been tremors of emotion
in Tommy’s eyes, I felt none under his skin. The initial I’m gay had even felt, almost, like the first cut in a

surgical procedure: very methodical, very much like I was the one who was being opened up. For him to

move from the depths of the closet to this level of confidence was incredible.

And I hadn’t even heard the meat of it.

“I ended up going back to that bar. Like, pretty regularly,” he told me, next. “I was keeping it a secret

from my other friends, but I was meeting a lot of new people. And… eventually… Kevin.”

I gasped, squeezed again at his hand.

“I started seeing him just as regularly as the bar,” he admitted. “And then… even more.”

My smile was in full bloom.

“He was also pretty new into coming out, actually,” Tommy continued, his own smile still shy. “And so at

first, things were kind of awkward. It was like we were just friends, ‘cause we didn’t know what else to do,

but… once we finally got into it, we were really in it, and… it was just so intense and amazing. I’d honestly

never thought I’d ever experience something like that. Which, uh, brings me to...”

With that, he picked up his bag and pulled out a piece of paper. As soon as I saw the words

CERTIFICATE OF MARRIAGE, I almost dissolved into the chair.

This is to certify that on the 18th day of August, 2018, Mr. Thomas S. Kiernan and Mr. Kevin R. Paddock were

by me UNITED IN MARRIAGE…

There I was, the shaky one again.

“It was just a city hall thing,” Tommy explained as I kept staring at the page. “We kind of just wanted

it to be something special between us. I hope you can forgive me for that and for doing this so young. I know

you probably won’t approve, but it’s what I wanted.”


There I was, sobbing in this McDonald’s, under a photo of a dog bowl.

I didn’t have much room to be disappointed, either; I understood what it was like to repress

something for a long time, to have it then emerge fully ripe. Above everything, I was happy that Tommy had

experienced the same feeling. If his marriage didn’t work out, it wouldn’t matter. What mattered was that I

had my brother back.

And, thinking about that, I’d later realize just how radiantly lucky our family had been with the way

that things had worked out. We’d been lucky that Dad had seen Tommy’s computer screen at the time that

he had, that I’d given Tommy just the right speech, and that he’d happened to meet that nice man on Tinder.

“So when people ask if you and Kevin met through Tinder,” I asked, as Tommy started to get into his

food, “Do you say yes or no? ‘Cause, technically, you did.”

He laughed, almost choking on a fry.

I supposed that we’d been lucky, too, that Tommy had never really been like the other incels out

there. I did suggest, as we were leaving the restaurant, that perhaps all of them were sexually repressed, but

Tommy said that he really doubted it. The bitter heterosexual man, he warned, was still the most dangerous

predator.

“Hell hath no fury,” he joked, “Like a virgin scorned.”

“Lest he be trying to untaint himself…” I continued, “With taint.”

Of course, I very much hated that my brother had gone through what he had. Still, I felt a massive relief as

he elbowed me, in that moment, that he hadn’t been the former--that he’d managed to pull out of the

horribleness. From what I’d heard on the news, the epidemic of entitlement had only been getting more

nauseating; back in April, an incel up in Toronto had even killed ten people with a van.
#

I watched Dad regain several years of his life while Tommy gave him the news, that night at the

dinner table. Later, he even pulled out our old Monopoly game from the basement; we gave up playing after

a couple of hours, but it was fun banter.

I met my brother-in-law a week later. Tommy brought him over on Friday evening, for a weekend

visit, which was a nice break for my mileage. Kevin was a cute little thing: pale, with freckles and long teeth.

He didn’t talk much, but he helped me cut the bell peppers.

They left for their motel late in the night, and Natty and I cleaned up the kitchen the next morning. I

wanted to take the chance, before the two came back from exploring the city, to clear away the night’s tipsy

debris.

It was as I opened the utensil drawer that I noticed our pizza cutter, or lack thereof. It’d been replaced

by a soup can lid attached to an old door handle.

“Don’t you think… the do-it-yourself stuff is getting a little much?” I expressed to Natty. “I mean, that

poor sheep almost slipped four times on that… chiffon carpet last night. Was there something wrong with

our old carpet? Our old pizza cutter?”

“I guess not,” she said, still wiping the counter. “I just don’t know how else to keep occupied when

you leave for the weekend.”

“You could… y’know… come with me.”

“But last week was another serious visit, though.” She raised her voice, now, like an aggravated puppy

raises its tail. “It didn’t seem appropriate.”

“Yes. It was serious,” I said, looking up at her. “Which was why I had to go.”
“And I understand that.”

“Then what’s the problem?” I asked. I clutched at the drawer. “If you get bored, just read one of your

chick books.”

At that, she crumpled her nose. “I swear, my seven-year olds are more mature than you, sometimes,”

she told me.

“You can’t be serious,” I retorted. “You’re the one making crafts.”

She threw the rag to the floor and turned, hurried back to our room. I started after her, but decided to give

her the space to air her feelings out.

From that point forward, unfortunately, all Natalie seemed to want from me was space.

She used it to craft.

After what became a semi-awkward weekend visit, she started again--and, over the next year and a

half, her projects continued to take over the apartment. Most visibly, they spread on the walls. They were

like a cutesy mold: first homemade wreaths, then framed napkin art, then watercolor plates, until there was

almost no more visible wallpaper. I also started to find small changes in every nook of every room. At one

point, as I tried to open the bathroom cabinet, I noticed that the handle had been replaced by a piece of

quartz. At another, when I wanted to charge my phone, I found the switch plate decorated with seashells.

It didn’t take long for me to feel like a stranger in my living space. As the home I’d built for myself

was replaced, piece-by-piece, by foreign material, everything began to feel slightly wrong. It was like I was in

a Coraline-esque, alternate version of my apartment. It was pretty, sure--but it was skewed.


I could hardly focus. I could never relax. I tried for a long time to tolerate the anxiety, prickly as it

was--but it peaked one May afternoon when I hid under the bed covers. I just needed to escape the crafts.

Their gaze was all encompassing.

Breathing alone in the darkness, though, I had to confront another uncomfortable truth.

The comment that Natalie had made about keeping occupied had made me suspect, initially, that she

was hinting at wanting more attention. That didn’t seem fair, though, since she was the one now

withdrawing from me; she never touched me, anymore, or even made eye contact. She barely responded

when I asked about work. She claimed to be tired of Stranger Things and instead spent every evening alone,

in our room.

She was crafting, of course. I didn’t know how she was making so many things in such little time, but

I also didn’t want to see it. Too often, I fell asleep on the couch.

Later, I considered that she was spiting me for ever asking her to tone it down. But that seemed like

too much of a swelling overreaction to be possible. The digs that I’d made, hung-over in our kitchen, hadn’t

been the fairest; still, in my mind, I’d been making room for our relationship to grow. Why was she

responding by digging us a grave?

It really seemed as if my rebuilding of my relationship with my family had, in turn, doomed my

romantic one--as if I weren’t allowed to have both. I started to wonder if I should call our Internet provider

and have them block Pinterest.

But crying silently in the dark belly of the bed, I knew that that wouldn’t help, either. It’d been clear

to me, deep down, what Natalie had been doing. She didn’t want me anymore, and so she was trying to

repossess the apartment--the one my father had bought me, after I’d passed all of my courses--by building it
out from under me. This was an artistic masturbation: a statement that she wanted to do not only these crafts

by herself, but everything else in life, too.

My eyes stung harder when my phone lit up, by my head. I grabbed it, squinted at the new message.

Tommy had asked me: how do u poach an egg?

I hit call.

“Dude, I’m losing my mind,” I told him.

“What’s up?”

“Guess where I am.”

“Are you…” He paused. “Under the covers?”

For a moment, I wondered if he could see me, too. I experienced a buzz of fear before remembering that

things were different, now.

“Yup,” I told him.

I heard him shift around. Something metallic hit a counter.

“Geez. So, Natty’s still being weird?” he asked.

“Well, she always was weird, but, like… am I an idiot? What did I do?”

“When did it start?”

I struggled to swallow. My throat felt crammed, rusty with over a year of unspoken words.

“Actually, around when you and Kevin first came over,” I admitted. “We had our first fight where we

never really made up.”

“…Fuck,” Tommy said. He let out a drooping sigh. “Well, now, I just feel bad.”

“What do you mean?”


“I think Kevin and I made her jealous.”

“Huh?” I said. And then I realized, with pain in my chest, what he was talking about.

He started again. “Have you guys ever even talked about-”

“No.”

“And how long-”

“Seven years.” I coughed. “We also live together, and we love each other. Why isn’t that enough?”

“Well, there are benefits to marriage.”

“For gays? Yeah, let me know when you find some.”

Tommy laughed. “Well… I’d offer you a place to stay, for a bit,” he told me, “But it’s a huge mess,

right now.”

“Why?”

“We’re moving.”

“Oh, shit. Where?”

“Norway.”

It’d already been stuffy under the covers, but my shock made the air ten times denser as he admitted,

“We’ll be there in about a month.”

“Goddamnit, Thomas,” I scolded him. “Why don’t you ever tell us anything?”

“I’m sorry,” he said, and I heard him flicking his finger against the edge of a table: a nervous tic of his.

“It’s just that… we didn’t want to tell anyone until… we got confirmation.”

“It’s a house,” I said. “Not a baby.”

The snapping sound increased. “I mean…” he started.


I felt electric shocks all over.

“Tommy?” I demanded.

“I guess I have to tell you.”

“Are you having a kid?”

“…A Norwegian girl,” he said, and the words were like a splash of holy water.

All stuffy feelings distilled as I started to tear up, again, realizing that I was going to be an aunt.

We didn’t say anything more for a while. He knew I was still there by my deep breathing; I knew he

was still there by the sound of water starting to boil.

“We just want a simple life,” he admitted. “We realized that we both had this dream of buying some

property, starting a little farm somewhere. A little family.”

I nodded. He couldn’t see it, but I felt he’d know.

“Are you still working?” I asked.

“I can do my job from anywhere, pretty much, as long as I make sure I can get a signal. So I’ll support

us until Kevin finds something,” he explained. “We’ve figured it all out. We’ll be going to the mountains,

Sophie. I… know you might not approve, or think it’s a bad call, but we just really need to get away from

society. I don’t know how to explain it beyond… well, God knows it never did me any good.”

My next breath felt like my first ever.

“I think it’s incredible, Tommy,” I told him. “I’ll have to come visit.”

“Well, if you want, Dad’s booked to come in October, right after we’re supposed to get her.”

“Oh.” I slinked over to one side. “Dad knew…?”

“Well, yeah. The agency contacted him. For my background check.”


Though shorter, the next silence felt much more stretched and strained.

“How’d that go?” I asked.

“…Great,” he admitted. His voice was warping, a little, in the hot moment. “Dad said he thinks this

daughter is exactly what I deserve. He was really, really, happy.”

“Yeah,” I said. My insides turned to liquid heat, too, as I thought back to that little sister that never

was. “So am I.”

“Anyway,” Tommy said, clearing his throat. “If you really need to escape your apartment, you can

always come visit, earlier. I mean… maybe in a couple months?”

I agreed to bring up the idea to Natty.

Later that night, he e-mailed me the translated file on his soon-to-be-daughter.

Name: Leila

Age: 14

My favourite movie: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

I like learning about: Animals and plants.

I am great at: Painting, crocheting, swimming.

Something I would love to do with my family is: Go to the beach, collect seashells.

When I grow up, I want to be: A conservation scientist.

He’d also attached a photo: Leila had bright red hair and a smile like a glimpse into Eden. She was

holding a small, pretty painting of water lilies.

I had a lot of questions, of course--but they were all blown out by how much I already loved this girl.
When I brought up the idea of a July trip to Natalie, though, she suggested it might be better for us to

spend some time apart. This meant, of course, that I was now obligated to go that month and to go alone. I

was devastated. I’d wanted to share the experience with her; I’d thought a new environment might even help

our relationship. Above all, I wanted her to eventually meet Leila, because as a teacher and an adoptee,

herself, I knew she’d be able to really connect with the girl. But the news of the adoption barely seemed to

excite her.

I almost forgot my hurt when Tommy and Kevin picked me up from the airport and took me up to

their new home. The mountains were gold-sprinkled green, the air so fresh that I felt it passed right through

me, cleaned me from the inside out. My hosts were eager to show off, too: they took me hiking, canoeing, and

shopping in the nearest town. Tommy got me to try the prune ice cream at a shop he liked, and I bought a

cute little poncho and paintbrush set for Leila. Later on, he showed me how to feed the goats that had come

with the property, and he told me about how they were planning to expand: chickens first, then a couple of

cows, maybe some pigs or sheep. We had goat cheese before every meal.

Out of fear of ruining the whole lucid dream, I didn’t ask any serious questions until my final night in

Norway. Tommy had cooked roast beef with some of the many herbs and spices lining the kitchen shelves;

we ate at the round, antique table I’d admired all week. It was as he stood and grabbed our empty plates that

I decided I couldn’t put it off anymore.

“So, what about your family?” I turned to Kevin, starting easy. “Are they coming, at any point?”

Kevin shook his head. “I’ve been cut off… since marrying Thomas,” he explained.

“Oh,” I said, my face going flush. “Sorry, I-”

“S’okay.”
“His real family’ll be right here,” Tommy told me as he reached the sink.

I nodded. “And how do you feel…” I was determined to change the subject, “About raising someone

only ten years younger than you?”

At that, my brother turned back toward me.

“It is kinda weird, right?” he admitted, scratching at the edge of the plates with his thumb. “But I

figure, you pretty much raised me, and you were only four years older.”

Tenderness poured through me like warm bath water.

“But how’s her English?” I managed, only once he’d placed the plates in the sink.

“Really good,” he told me, washing. “We’ll have her take more courses. And, obviously, we’re

learning-”

“Courses, where?”

Tommy cleared his throat. “Well, since we’re all the way up here,” he said, “we’re gonna have her do

online school.”

I blinked. “Just for the English?” I asked. “Or everything?”

“Everything.”

“Tommy. You can’t make her do all her school from here.”

He turned off the tap, leaned his back on the counter.

“I don’t know what else we could do,” he said.

“I know things are far,” I said. “But parenting’s about sacrifices, right? It might really be worth it for

her to at least try to commute. At least give her options.”

“How?”
“I don’t know. Take her to the nearest place. Let her see if she likes it. At least take her for a tour,” I

said. I stood up and looked down, to Kevin, for backup; he only shifted a questioning look back to Tommy.

“A fourteen year old girl needs friends,” I insisted. “She wants to start dating. She deserves that experience.”

Tommy sighed. “I know, Sophie.” His voice had shattered, a bit, at the tip. “I’m just worried.”

“About what?”

He shifted his weight. “The boys,” he admitted. “’Cause, like… I was a teenage boy, not too long ago.”

A ball of dust formed in my throat.

“Most boys are harmless,” I told him. “I understand your… worry, but it’s not like-”

“You sure about that?” he countered. “With how the media is, nowadays? Girls are expected to look

like fucking Instagram models by the time they’re thirteen.”

The dust built further throughout my body. Knowing now that Tommy’s reservations were a result of his

progress, I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep fighting them.

“I just don’t want them looking at her like that,” he continued.

“At least think about it,” I said.

That was the end of my attempt--but the awkwardness had already set around us like the mountain’s

evening dew. I soon excused myself back to Leila’s future room, and, not too long after going to bed, heard

more hushed arguing.

The boys were being quiet enough that I couldn’t tell what they were saying--I even worried, at first, that

they knew I was listening--but I could easily guess the topic of their conflict. While I felt bad for having

caused it, I was also happy to learn that Kevin had taken to my concerns. When I finally did manage to make
out a string of words, though--a tight and rough, “we’re not taking her, that’s final” from Tommy--I somehow

sunk further into the lemon-scented mattress.

Save for the birds, it was quiet the next morning when I left the bed. I pulled into the bright and

empty kitchen, tried to figure out how to work the European coffee machine.

Once I got it to make noise, I heard a groan in the living room. I turned and saw Kevin sleeping on the couch.

It must have been a really bad fight, I realized. It was also a bit weird to learn that my brother wore the pants in

his relationship.

“You’re up first.” I heard him approach, from behind me, just as I was taking the mug in my hands.

“Call the media.” I felt his hand on my upper back.

“Sorry if I woke you,” I chuckled, turned to him. My face still felt sticky with sleep as I spoke.

Similarly, Tommy’s face was bright pink, like a newborn’s. “Travel makes me anxious.”

“S’okay,” he said. “Do you want some food for the trip?”

“I’ll be okay, but thanks, Elroy,” I said. The old nickname made him smirk.

I felt silky inside as I sat back at the table, knowing things were back to normal between us--that the

previous night had only been a speed bump. I figured that those always inevitably appeared, when one sped

into things like marriage and parenthood and farming. But even if they were not taking her, that’s final, I knew

things would ultimately be okay.

After hugging me at the airport, Tommy told me to have a safe trip, and that he’d do his best.

I didn’t want to leave. I knew what would be waiting for me, back in reality; as I boarded, part of me

even hoped to crash and ‘DIY’.


But I was back at the apartment at about nine that night. Pulling my suitcase through the doorway, I

called to her, but the following silence was pure and whole. It was like even the kitchen appliances were

holding their breath out of pity.

As expected, there was a card on the kitchen table. It was made out of printer paper; I supposed that

there wasn’t an I’m leaving you section at Hallmark.

The card’s title--my name--had been harshly underlined. I was surprised that Natty hadn’t just

crossed it out: ‘Sophie’ is not the answer I was looking for, she’d be saying. Seven years have been deducted from

your life.

But the card didn’t even say that much.

You know I’m sorry, was all that she’d written.

All the best.

I read the scrawny message about five times before looking back up. And when I saw the wall, I sat

down in defeat.

“She left me,” I said, out loud. “And she left her fucking DIYs.”

I moved to a new place, just out of the city, as soon as I was able. It’d be a much longer commute to

the birding store--but the remnants of Natalie, literally all over our apartment, were just too painful on my

eyes. I already had the internal remnants to deal with: that constant image of her little tan face with the huge

brown irises.

So, I uninstalled half of her decor, and I sold the place for twice its value to a middle-aged mom with blond

kids.
I received another letter, in the mail, only a few days before leaving. I knew that it was from her, too,

because of the way that she’d underlined my name. But I didn’t open it. I was afraid she’d realized her first

message was too brief and had now provided a list of everything wrong with me. You’re a burden. You’re

directionless. I want children, not a child. I stuffed the letter under the mattress of my new twin bed, told myself

that I’d open it when I was emotionally ready.

I spent the next four months binging episodes of Dr. Phil, not answering work e-mails, and getting

annoyed at people with slow dogs on the sidewalk.

It was only one evening when I was wine-drunk, watching an episode about a man who’d asked for a

divorce via fridge magnet alphabet, that I gathered the courage to call. As my cheap new phone rang in my

ear, I rehearsed my speech: Okay, maybe I have abandonment issues. I might be afraid to commit. But why couldn’t

you just work with me on that? And did I have to be the one to propose just ‘cause I was the top, or something?

The words turned to salt in my mouth, though, when her mother answered.

“Hello?” came Dorothy’s unmistakable voice. It was always overly bubbly--mostly because it was

always full of rosé.

“Uh, is Natalie there?” I asked. “Sorry, I thought I’d dialed her cell.”

“Who’s this?”

“Sophie.”

“Sophie. Oh, hon. You didn’t get my letter?”

…What? Pulse thumping in my face, I wobbled over to my bedroom. I dove my hand under the mattress.

Looking the crumpled envelope back over, I realized that the handwriting did not belong to Natty.

After seeing that distinctly harsh underline, I hadn’t ever bothered to look closer.
Where else would she have learned passive-aggression, though, but from her mother?

I’m writing to inform you that Natalie isn’t well, Dorothy had written. If you have any information about

why that might be, please be in contact. And tell me how long this has been going on. Were you aware that she quit her

job a year ago? Why was she crying about cars ‘constantly stopping to look’ at your apartment building (isn’t there a

stop sign out front)?

I suppose it doesn’t matter much, anymore. If you’d like to go see her, she’s been placed at an institution. 35

Willow Dr, in Dunstville.

The angry fizzing in my ear had given up and gone--was replaced by dial tone--by the time I reached

the next paragraph. Dorothy had gone on to imply that I’d somehow ruined her daughter. That it’d be clear

I’d done it on purpose, if I didn’t give her the decency of a visit. I stared at the letter for another while, still

holding the phone to my ear. I became so accustomed to the noise that it became my whole self. I was low,

flat, painful dial tone.

I stopped going to work, after that night. I slept constantly, trying to avoid what I had done.

The signs of Natalie’s mental illness had been everywhere I looked. They’d been so bright, so

colorful; even her mother had caught on to them, as soon as they’d approached. Yet, for a year and a half, I

could only believe that she was trying to send me a message--that her home decor was deeply meaningful,

somehow. But it hadn’t been about me. It hadn’t been about anything, because he’d been functioning

irrationally. The poor girl had been just like her art: pretty, but skewed.

And my self-centeredness had failed her. I’d let her symptoms spiral, because I’d only thought about

how they affected me. This, I now realized; yet, like an ugly infection, my selfishness continued to build. In
the end, in my head, this tragedy was still all about me, because I couldn’t handle the feeling of a woman

leaving without logical reason.

I became trapped in the rings, trapped in this cycle of guilt for another few years. It was the loneliest

time of my life. I couldn’t bear to see Dad, couldn’t have him know that I’d sold the apartment. I thought,

several times, about going back to Norway; then, I always remembered that I should be visiting Natalie,

instead, or at least first. And so, I never did either.

The second skin-scraping call came when I was thirty-one and in bed, eating Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate

Therapy. It was the only kind of therapy I could still afford and also one of my personal performances of

depression. Lying there, with a cold spoon in my mouth and two old, empty tubs at my feet, I could have

been an art student’s tableau.

“Come home,” sobbed my father into the phone. I’d been fearing this moment: the point at which his

disappointment would come out wet.

His eyes were burnt out by the time I reached him. His cheeks were almost concave--literally

depressed. He seemed malnourished, like his desperate body was now trying to eat him from the outside in.

In my selfish way, the sight cushioned my fear that he’d comment on my unbrushed hair.

I entered without a word and went to the couch. This time, there was no tea.

“I know you’re upset,” I tried, the words drying up as they reached my mouth. I realized I didn’t know

when I’d last said so many words out loud. “It’s had nothing to do-”

“This isn’t about you,” Dad said as he sat across from me. He ran his hands up and down his face.

A leafy stem of confusion formed in my chest.

“What, then?” I asked.


“I’m sure you’re very tired from your drive, and so I’m not going to make you wait any more,” he said.

The shaking in his voice had become more condensed. “I called you over to say Leila is dead.”

For a while, there was no couch beneath me. There was no coffee table, no person on the other side. I

was sitting on, surrounded only by white pain.

“What do you mean?” I croaked. She was seventeen. How could she be dead?

“The authorities were here today,” he said. “The Norwegian police were in contact because… about a

month ago, a group of hikers found her body.”

I couldn’t really place what happened, next, or for how long I was sobbing. Dad ceased to exist again until I

managed to get a weak hook on myself.

“What happened?” I murmured.

“They think…” he started again, “It was an accident. Head injury. She probably fell against a table or

something.”

“No.”

“But, Sophie…” His voice started to rattle again--a painful sound, like his brain was a broken engine--

“It wasn’t just an innocent accident.”

My whole self began to curl.

“It took them this long to figure out who she was,” he said, “Because she’d already been decomposing for

months.”

Something in me broke.

“Thomas and Kevin didn’t ever report her as missing,” he told me, and then he started to cry again, too. “No

one… in the world was looking for her. Oh, god…”


I stood up, walked to the far wall of the living room. I pushed myself against it, staring out the

window.

“What did he do to her?” I whispered. A moment later, “What was he doing to her?”

“They found him,” was all that Dad said.

I sunk to the floor.

“I never visited,” I said. I started to fall back off my mental cliff. I held myself, overwhelmed. “I never

even met her.”

“…She was a gift.”

“I should have been there,” I continued. “He gave back in to his old thinking… he gave back in… I

didn’t…”

“Sophie,” Dad interrupted, his words throaty and whole. “It wasn’t old thinking.”

An uglier reality took my face in its claws. It forced my neck, slowly, back toward my father.

“What do you mean?” I shivered.

He walked over to me. He knelt down, placed his hands on my shoulders.

“Remember when I had those sites blocked?” he asked, his eyes gleaming white. “I thought I’d gotten

it to stop. I thought it was over.” It was like I was the parent, and he the child, begging me for forgiveness.

“But he was good with computers, Sophie.”

I was off of the cliff again. I was flooding.

“All those years, he was just encrypting everything, looking at things privately,” Dad said. “Still talking to

those people. Talking to Kevin.”


I whimpered, digging my fingers into my sides. Dad stood, started toward the kitchen. “Kevin… had been

sucked into that whole culture because he lacked confidence,” he said. “That’s why Tommy zeroed in on

him. Made him his… sidekick.”

Soon back at my side, he handed me a piece of paper. I recognized my brother’s writing style immediately--

and, just as immediately, I recognized that this single page was supremely worse than the stack I’d read eight

years prior.

It’ll be easier if we’re legally married, Tommy had written. Fuck it. I want to do it. I’m willing to let my

family think I’m gay and won’t have to totally cut them off. We’ll just take her to some secluded property and she’ll

literally be ours. I know you’re also not into girls of the younger breed… but it’ll be way easier to get one that’s passed

puberty, anyway.

It’s obviously still super risky, but it’s not like we have much to lose. To me, the pros outweigh the cons. I’m

already ready to kill myself. Might as well delay it until I’m in jail, lol. Plus, if we do get away with it, that’ll just make

it so much better. It’ll have so much fucking meaning.

I was stupid, I realized, my brain going slippery. I was stupid. I was stupid. I’d fallen for everything.

Fallen for it. He pretended. He didn’t care. About her. Me. Girls. This time. All of it. I should have thought. I

could have thought harder. He’d been so good. He said he’d keep her safe. Oh god. He said. He’d spent all

this time. Listened. Held my hand. He said he was gay. I’d cried. He was grateful for what I’d said. His

epiphany. He lied. He wasn’t gay. He didn’t love me. I thought it was true. In the car. I’d thought I’d gotten

through. I didn’t do good enough. I thought. That moment…

I fell over. I couldn’t breathe. My throat was its own choking grip.
“Sophie, please. Don’t make yourself sick,” my father begged, from somewhere above me. He tried to

touch me. “You’re scaring me,” he said, his voice loud and clanging, when I scattered away.

But it was too late. Chocolate brown chunks--hot, now--came up my throat and down onto the carpet

as that conversation in my car further unfolded in my mind.

I realized that up until just now, I’d still been wrong. I’d still been making things convenient for myself.

Because worse than the realization that Tommy had been lying was the one that he hadn’t lied about

everything. It hadn’t all been fake. Something that I’d told him that night had, in fact, helped him and

inspired him.

He’d only lied about what that thing was.

I collapsed further as I thought about what I’d said to him, near the end of that long talk.

I had done this. I’d given him the idea.

“Sophie,” my father tried again, a few moments later, as I was forcing myself to a shaky stand. “I’m

going to call an ambulance if you don’t calm down.”

But I ran. I hurried across the living room, to the kitchen, and around to the back hallway. I ignored the voice

behind me; by now, I only had two phrases in my mind. He wasn’t fully lying. This is my fault. He wasn’t fully

lying. This is my fault. By the time that I reached our bedrooms, I understood the words for their deepest

meaning. They were written all over my body; the ink had reached my blood. And so I ran past my room. I

went into Tommy’s.

I locked the door and turned on the light. The room had been emptied, but Tommy still lingered.

There was his old desk lamp, a textbook, a crumpled water bottle. I took a breath, slipped off my cardigan,
and walked over to his closet. There were still some old clothes of his hanging there. I pushed them aside,

making room.

In the slow, sluggish minutes that followed, a distant piece of me could still hear the noises at the

door. For the most part, though, I was nothing but the new mantra in my head.

Oh, Tommy, it whimpered. Why did you have to love me? Why, still?

Why couldn’t you have agreed with Kevin and just taken me, instead?

End

Appendix

This story was inspired by the following


Internet post:
Fall 2019
Nicole Agee

Pioneertown

I could have leaped two feet higher and a bit harder


and flown up into the smoky color-filled sky
a puff or fog or cloud from the great crowd
a mystic of music and verse spun like silk in a twirl of rising colors

Powdered dirt caught our heels and smoke came out of your nose
we laughed, we were dirty, in love, the sunset

A hall of sounds entered my stomach and ricocheted a pinball along my spine


couples tread space without feet, without form
4 legs to one body, a mythological pony, bestiary love horses
galloping in spatial rhymes, spinning in imaginary circles /symbols

A man stood night watch under a shrunken wood roof


a Brillo of scrubbed steel wool around his face, one eye sandpaper, one eye milky marble, skin like dried
lemon cake
The sound of an empty metal drum, the hollow of a ricochet, a howl in the canyon
his voice was a rattlesnake tail
Rigs and rules and niceties

We entered through dust, where elliptical tones became silhouettes


Our bodies were lit from the inside
The night gathered the layers of our words and turned them into a wall of liquid light and cactus dew
tongues and tales of desire,
the smell was of lemon, electric and caramel
fused hands and magnetic breath
Exalted, clear and bright
A Coat of Feather and Fern

A sticky and wide pool of a smile,


a siren’s tar mouth, Venus sprung of coal,
veins clogged with glitter, quartz rose and agate

Earth rumbles at the coordinates of olden days


where mothers walked and planted deeply with hungry hands
held with soft arms and
worried with tender arms
they wove with worn bodies, this place
to the future

A hand with a thousand restless and plying fingers, thirsty mouth, cuts the earth from its memory and casts
it into the future again as pieces of smashed pottery

Fragile threads, a coat of feather and fern


dandelions and loose pebbles, cool water, light piano
soft feet - wind chimes and tiptoes
floating away, awash, sugar whispers melting in a river

The heavy drum flap of a carrion wing

A steel girth opens its unhinged jaw


wide like a viper’s mouth,
reeling back, rusty teeth and iron breath
Its sharpened teeth claim no mercy when she eats the ground and shutters
pulls back chugging and spitting dirt, furiously and victoriously into the air, a
spray and celebratory plume of black smoke
grinding, gulping,
she liquifies layers of time

The edges of the tear are the shape and silhouette of an opened chest
the sound, a slow motion snap of thick bone
soft points of shadow undulate and break free
a crack in the ice runs headless across miles of land

The earth opens and contracts, accepting and expelling -


compression diamonds and fossil fuels, subway tunnels and the dead.
oxygen, no oxygen, a churning fiery mound of sparkling embers
If I am the Boat, You are the Sky

Hurling through black dust, space,


a deep breath lingers for a moment above a bottomless pool

A shimmering body, glimmering jewel strands


waving, snaking, quaking in the moon’s light

My little night boat begins to peel away and turn in a circle


I am not doing it, there’s an eddy in the fabric that’s pulling to the right
I lean with the turn, dragging my knuckles along as a primitive of the universe

I grunt, I howl, I slither, the night is me and I am magic

Whirling, time is a flash.


Did you know the speed and movement of time creates its own sound?
The sound is a hiss of a poisonous black snake and the shush of a loving mother

The winds scrapes and whips, audible DNA


Tall anorexic palms snap and bloated roots split:
sap green, umber brown, black and blue

Hurling forward, my arms are stretching past my feet, my eyes fixed,


there is a contortion to the night that makes me elastic and tasty,
and you a prism of light and soft tongues and secrets
(I can hear you now) )

A reflection in the water appears dotted white with streaks of color.


An abstraction of lines and points, a morse code from another world underneath
Maybe it will save me, but
I don’t have time to learn its language, cause
I am moving faster now—too fast now,
halting hurling stopping sobbing creating dreaming laughing

I am water over a cliff,


a loose horse,
quick as a blink,
a slip on a sheet of ice

I look upward in my mortal spin


If I am the boat, you are the sky
We look upon each other locked into this whirl
As an elegant machine churns us into wider and wider circles
Unstitching the threads and loosening the sails

Eventually, I’ll lose my hold, lose breath, my vessel


swallowed in a gulp

For now, we hold tight, arced limbs and locked eyes


the pinned center of a widening blur
enfolded in gold and pink, fat and slow, dripping honey and melted ice cream

hiss, shush, hiss, shush hiss,


A breath spins through the black dust, space,
lingering for a moment above a bottomless pool.
Mark Me

That word just strung out


across the room flickering and rattling
by dagger hooks
what’s possible we know-
but where are the unmoored and sinking ships,
which doorway?
bring the pills, a golden rod, the gilded mirror and all the rest

a place where dark empties its monsters like


coins spilling from a swollen piggy bank

lips pursed,
ribs crushed
lips clenched, bubbling teeth
yawning and spinning,
my shape fills out an unknown space
a purple uplight skims the edges and I am here with a root bound fern
you had said just before that,
I looked like that face
from the movie we saw once high and young

a chase ensues and ends at the far end of the universe

yes, translate me by small immeasurable marks I said


marks so small that I cannot be sensed but I will appear as an apparition or smell of something delicious
mark me so I cannot leave forever
mark me so you can find me
mark me using coordinates
mark me so I know you saw me in the wild
name me with 100 emojis, magical numbers and neon words

my feet were so soft and buttery they made no sound


just a creak of the mail slot and a shuffle of paper brushing the tile
at night
the gazing ball showed a reflection of you and me twisted as one in a giant
cats eye marble
It brought you close to the truth though
It wasn’t the contortionist, the Xanax or the weed
it was the hummingbird flying erratically, the boiling sun, and
that great line in the film that shattered mass and time.

the lights are beginning to festoon around your head


your hair is a zapped and tangled bouquet
reach in, almost fall, maybe you should fall, let yourself fall, fall in and in and in and in
there are 1000 faces looking in and just as many looking back
this is the frame of the universe and million ascending lights

think of this

the photograph was black and white, a picture of a woman singing.


a backdrop with a lake and utopian meadow
I drifted in and looked straight at you through her eyes.
Fall 2019
Nick LaRocca

Letters

The back of the truck was a freezer kept at -1 and filled to bursting with fifty-pound bags of ice, and

when Wayne Lafontaine and I got dispatched, we had to hit the gas and make ice runs between North

Boynton and South Boca lickety-split. I drove. Wayne was a speed demon; he captained the white truck like

there were no other cars on the road, and the last time I let him drive was the time he put the truck in the

lake at Hunt Club Estates. After that he was all the time claiming from the passenger seat that the accident

wasn’t his fault but the fault of two girls we saw who’d been dressed in thigh-highs and pleated golf skirts as

they walked the links with their buff milf. “I’ve got a thing for whore moms,” Wayne said. “And their

daughters.”

I did, too—everyone does—but I didn’t like confessing my various lusts to Wayne because he was

red-faced and his cheeks were pockmarked like baby swiss—and he was twenty-eight, had a nasally voice as

though his scrotum were being stung by hornets, and considered the delivery of ice under emergent

circumstances to shi-shi restaurants in Palm Beach County a career. I was twenty, a college dropout, a thrill-
seeking ex-student guided by his emotions. My motive was the legal tender—acquisition, capitalism,

entrepreneurship. And Wayne was Butthump Lafontaine, The Wayne-Taint. So there was no connection to

be made in telling him what I whacked off to religiously (supple maidens hot to build my burgeoning will to

power). And he was so sexually imbecilic that I could have put those golf dolls right in front of him, they

could have begged him to reveal what he wanted to do to their bodies, and he wouldn’t have seen theoretical

incest as foreplay. He would have been satisfying a responsibility by confessing, as though his disclosure were

one of our day’s sudden work orders. When to my mind, there was sexual disclosure or there was nothing at

all.

Our job was to load the truck at headquarters to start the day, sweating in the breezeless commercial

section of Long Boca Way and Spanish River Boulevard, equidistantly inconvenient to the steakhouses and

country clubs of West Boca and the redone, faux-Spanish-mission-style mixed-use monstrosities of

Downtown Boca—Misner Park and Misner Crossing, with their one-shirt-in-the-window boutiques and

kinetic mannequins. (And the cost of this shirt? $2,999.00. By the way, if we landed in Boca for the evening

and had a moment to stop at The Yardhouse for a dog or burger—weekends we worked from 8:00 in the

morning til 2:00 the next morning—we might see across the way in Boca Prime some bewigged, wrinkly

dandy having a martini with a twenty-three-year-old half-hooker. She would be sporting a Gucci bag

upright on the bar and a bandage on her nose by Pillersdorph and Associates, and he would be wearing the

same god-awful almost-blouse we’d seen in the window of Carter’s or Samuel Clover’s a week ago.) We’d be

wherever we were with the ice truck, and we’d get a message from Jim Text that a restaurant or hotel needed

us—his last name was McGuire, but we called him Text for obvious reasons. We had to drop whatever we

were doing and hit the road.


Jim had a fleet of three trucks, so our destination wasn’t too far. Eugene Jones and Emmit Franklin

patrolled the north end of the county, so they had the longest hike from headquarters; Tim Clausen and

Ostentatious Dunbar were assigned to the Lake Worth Corridor—with Tim doing the driving because he

was a white guy and less likely to get pulled over; Wayne and I got the south end. Emergency Ice: For All

Your Cubed Needs.

This was what I’d wanted: to be “working class,” part of a crew: the romance of toil and the machismo

of grunting my way through the livelong day.

The morning Wayne put the truck in the water, we were parked ass backwards and too far from the

clubhouse at Hunt Club Estates—where Jon Lovitz and the keyboardist in Bon Jovi live, among others.

There was a golf fundraiser going on, and Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora were rumored to be on the

premises, so the energy was very Beatles-debut as we used the hand truck to haul fifty-pound bags of ice into

the clubhouse until the club’s coolers were filled to the brim. When we got back in the truck, shaky and

beat—we must have delivered and emptied two hundred bags—Wayne readjusted the side view mirror.

He’d whacked it with his huge head as he’d walked the hand truck. By fixing the side view, he picked up

those two daughters and their mother, holding putters like erections, sauntering over to the putting green

beside the fake lake, where a fountain ejaculated. He put the truck in reverse by accident and hit the gas

hard—the way a guy will replace his dick with a gas pedal. The truck shot backwards onto the grass and

crossed the golf cart path. We were lucky no one was walking behind us or they’d have been squashed.

By the time Wayne figured out what was happening, we were halfway to the lake. I was slamming

the windowsill and shouting, “Brake! Brake!” But Wayne panicked and pumped the gas instead of the brake
until we were halfway in the water and every Republican in America was looking at us. My shoulders caved

in. I blinked behind the windshield in terror. But the thing was, they all just went back to what they were

doing. Once it became clear we could get traction and pull out of the lake, no one came over, no one even

yelled at us. Our activity, to them, was neutral.

The upshot was, Jim Text had to re-sod the path from the parking spot to the lake, the club installed

parking bumpers at great cost, and Wayne had to pen a letter of apology to the residents of Hunt Club.

“Can you help me with the letter?” he asked.

Here’s the first draft:

Dear Hunt club.

I have resently been in the water of your lake. this was a accidant. when I went in the truck to start it I
was captavated by the view of the lake and the patrones of the lake who were walking in their veroius
attires. I am deeply sadend by my misstake. please fergive me. I will enhence my dutifulness to the
utmost. When one day I am you, I will reemberse for the parking bumps.

Sincerly,

Wayne LaFontaine

“Jesus, Wayne. It’s… indescribable.”

“Straight from my heart, man.”

I fixed all the spelling errors. I couldn’t let him present the letter as it was. But what an effort. We

went back and forth, because after I fixed the errors and told him to rewrite it, he made more errors, and

these were truly breathtaking.

The letter took four drafts.


The final draft ended up in a stand on the bar of the clubhouse. I wouldn’t have known, except the

next time we were at Hunt Club, a good month after the accident, the maitre d’ asked me to fill the front

cooler, which is usually full—if your front cooler is down, you have a serious emergency. So while Wayne

was in back, I was behind the bar, and I saw the letter, handwritten on loose leaf paper, propped up in a

holder on the bar counter. I didn’t tell Wayne about it.

What was really odd was that they’d displayed the letter below a picture of Wayne we hadn’t

supplied, smiling with crooked teeth and a clownish cockiness in his eyes, as though the person taking the

picture had duped him into believing it was a corporate headshot. Wayne was wearing his green Emergency

Ice polo. The collar was mussed; it caved in on one side, and on the other it folded into itself like a burrito.

***

Ostentatious was bisexual, but that wasn’t why he was kicked off the football team at Florida

Maritime—not precisely. He maintained that accounts of his dismissal, which had made the Sun Sentinel

and Palm Beach Post, were “inaccurate,” and that the whole thing was “an exaggeration, maybe more,” but he

would “go no further because I don’t want to besmirch anyone.” According the story, Os “assaulted” a

teammate in the locker room. “All I did was, I smacked his dick with a towel.”

He was telling me his story for a reason I was by then adjusting to; I had a face to which you reveal

secrets and a history that suggested academic prowess yet hippie-ish devil-may-care-ness: I wouldn’t judge,

confessors suspected, and if I did, I would judge fairly. My equanimity was a fable, by the way—though if as

a matter of course men wanted to confess to me, I allowed it in order to practice my listening skills with

women: to pay attention to the words, not the lips.


I’d dedicated myself, such as I could, to learning about women—their eccentricities, their proclivities,

their perversions, which are more profound, destructive, and compelling than those of your most virile male.

You think pissing on her is the height of sexual dominance, but she just thinks it’s a nice, warm shower: this

is a woman; a baby will grow inside her belly and be birthed out of her vagina; do you really think she finds

it mind-bending to be urinated on? When I’d dropped out of Florida Maritime, I had told my mother it was

because I wanted to learn about “the world.” She was kind and supportive and frightened. I was too scared

to say anything about my decision to my father. In fact, I hadn’t said a word to him and he hadn’t said a

word to me since spring term ended and I decided I wasn’t going back—not a single word from a man who’d

taught me to throw a baseball and not let my edgy desire for “freedom” be an excuse for carelessness like the

punks he’d grown up with in Brooklyn. I thought he was being a bully: his values for mine, his generation’s

for mine. I assailed Hillary and Bill; he liked to watch Mr. Clinton playing his sax on Arsenio Hall. He said

the guy really played, and at those times, at least, he wasn’t “Slick Willy.” But if I’d have had the guts, I

would have told him his heroes were frauds every moment of the day, and nothing that was purported to be

true was to be believed.

So allegedly, I was taking time to “learn about the world.” But I was really just interested in what

can’t be called anything but pussy—not women, not romance. Pussy. Over and over again, pussy. I figured I

needed a few bucks to pursue my interests. Yet I had also become, somehow, an armchair therapist to men

like Wayne and Ostentatious, who was giant, as wide as two men, six-foot-three, two-hundred-and-fifty

pounds, all of an NFL linebacker by frame but lacking the killer instinct necessary to accept ongoing

concussions.

Os confessed everything to me one hot morning out back of the ice depot on Long Boca Way.
We had just finished loading the trucks. Wayne was down but not out with a case of bronchitis that

made him drool, and halfway through loading, he’d disappeared on me. I kept looking around for him like a

little brother until I realized he was hiding and I was stuck loading ice on my own. I walked here and there

in a stupid loop, into and out of the freezing depot, cursing Wayne loud enough that if Jim Text happened by

he would hear me and note my one-man diligence. I hoped everyone else would take mercy on me in at

least a theoretical way, if not by volunteering their assistance. But Ostentatious did volunteer. He had no

problem hauling two bags of ice at a time, which meant he and Tim Clausen, a little Irishman with the ego of

an IRA operative who just about sprinted from the depot to the truck, were the equivalent of three people.

Meanwhile, I was one man and slowing down fast, the law of diminishing returns kicking in as,

disheartened, I noted how empty my truck was and how many more bags I had to go.

Ostentatious came over while Tim Clausen smoked a cigarette. “Let me help you, little man,” he said,

though I wasn’t exactly little. I was built like a shortstop, toned and supple, sinewy and flexible.

Together, Ostentatious and I moved many bags. Thanks to his help—which was effortless, even after

he’d already loaded his truck—my spirits were renewed. I started moving like Tim, jetting between the

truck and the depot, though by the time we were done, I was shaking with fatigue and cursing Wayne. I had

to sit down.

Ostentatious sat with me; I thanked him; he said it was no problem; he asked what it was like to drive

with Wayne; I said, “What do you think?”; he laughed good-naturedly; I said, “How’s it with Tim?” he said,

“Not bad. Dude’s a trooper. A string bean but a trooper;” he asked why the hell I wasn’t in school; I said I

was exploring my options.


I asked if he was ever going back to Maritime—because when he was kicked off the team, he lost his

scholarship and couldn’t afford college on his own. He told me he planned on it. He was only two semesters

from graduating, which was part of the problem: other schools wouldn’t accept his upper-level credits.

Graduates had to earn a minimum number of credits from their programs. Which meant he was basically

locked in to Florida Maritime, from which he’d been banned for three years.

“What happened?” I asked.

We’d bonded over bags of ice, but I still expected him to click his tongue and say it was too long a

story.

Tim came over and announced he was making a run to Chevron and did Ostentatious want a

Gatorade. He did. Blueberry Freeze. Os started to take out his wallet, but Tim refused.

Wayne was MIA, so once Tim took off, Os and I had nowhere to go.

“I didn’t really think much of it,” he said.

He had an attractive face, wizened and broad, as much Greek as African-American. He was pleasant

to look at—reassuring, in a sense. In pictures of him at Florida Maritime, he was charmed by life. By the

time I knew him, the naiveté had faded, but his countenance indicated an understanding that as the day goes

on, circumstances, lousy though they may be, are not permanent.

“We were in the locker room, there weren’t many people in there, and Joshy, he was doing what he

always did. I used to screw him. People never knew that. I kept that to myself. I think he’d’a killed himself

if it’a come out. But I used to do him at my place after practice all the time. He was gayer than hell. I mean, I

like a woman sometimes.” He looked around. “But Joshy was flat gay. Practice used to drive him crazy.
“And the way you knew he was gay was he was always with women. Good looking ones. Always

taking pictures with them with his shirt off or walking around campus with his arms around two of ‘em,

which I mean is fine, but there’s only a certain kinda girl gonna let you do that. Girls ain’t gonna let a

straight man share them—not that easy, not that often, at least, and not publicly like that. I mean, like, there

might be two girls who’ll let you do that, but not every girl.”

In that moment I had a revelation, and the revelation was this: everything I’d ever masturbated to was

bullshit. I’d really thought it wasn’t. So I was seated at the picnic table, shocked that my fantasies were

fantastic.

Os went on. “The girls all knew. He was… innocuous. Girls flirted with him, and he shifted his eyes.

Funniest thing, to watch some girl realize all of a sudden, ‘This dude’s gay!’

“But I got tired of it. I was pretty political—this was only two years ago, but it feels like forever—and

I was feeling like America needed to be more tolerant, you know? It was in that context. We were in the

locker room after voluntary weights. It was a pretty quiet session. In the shower, he had been looking at me

like he did when no one else was around. He came over to my unit to change. I spun up my towel and gave

him a smack. Except Coach Pierson, the Defensive Line Coach, happened to be walking by. Joshy looks up

at Pierson horrified—that he was caught. He goes, ‘What the fuck? What the fuck, Os? That ain’t cool.’ He

walks away, Pierson walks off, and the next thing I know, I’m in Coach Mack’s office. He’s saying, ‘Josh is

accusing you of assaulting him in the locker room. Did you hit him in the privates?’ I’m like, ‘With a towel.’

What else could I say? ‘I was just playing.’ There was a Title Nine guy standing in the corner, like I don’t

know where they grow these guys or keep ‘em in a cage for just such a moment. He comes up to Coach
Mack and whispers something, and Mack says, ‘Os, I gotta suspend you from the team. There’s gotta be an

investigation.’

“A month later, I’m out of school. And Joshy’s on ESPN talking about how if gay men—not that he’s

judging us—want access to all parts of society, they have to play by the rules, too.”

We were back in the bar at Hunt Club, and Wayne’s letter was still up. I tried to distract him—which

worked for a long time, let me tell you—but eventually Wayne did notice the letter and went, “Holy shit! My

letter.” That was how Wayne noticed things: “Holy shit, sexy hos!” And then we were in the water.

The bartender acted like he hadn’t recognized Wayne the whole time. He was a real good-time

Charlie type, an Aryan with kind eyes that screamed sociopath. I would learn he was banging half the

women at the club—the married ones. His name was Phil or Bill, and he squinted and said, “That is you!”

The bar was packed. It was a Saturday at two in the afternoon, and no one in Hunt Club had

anything to do but drink, so the energy was already headed downhill, from festive to edgy.

When we got back out to the truck, I tried my best to convince Wayne he was a celebrity among the

monetized.

I’d be sentimental and dishonest to say Wayne wasn’t one of the dumbest people I’ve ever met, but

that didn’t mean what I’d thought, which was that he had no sense at all. So when I said, “You’re known at

Hunt Club, man!” I really believed he would put on a sweet grin and pluck his head like a turkey and go,

“Holy shit, I’m famous!” But he said, “Fuck you, Ray-Ray. I know they’re making fun of me.”
I had an idea for the next time we were back at Hunt Club, which it turned out was that very night.

This time it wasn’t a fundraiser but a giant party one of the residents, some millionaire, was throwing for the

Trumpettes of Boca—John Brennan McCaffery, King of the Flushable Adult Wipe. Some make their money

in technology, others in the arts. He made his money one asshole at a time.

As we were moving ice, I could just about hear the white supremacy in the crowd, which got me

thinking about what Ostentatious had told me. I doubted very much that had Os been white, he’d have been

kicked off the team. Josh Dombrowski, the tight end, would have never complained about a white guy. He’d

have assumed he was overreacting or misunderstanding. But then I started thinking, it wasn’t only about

race. Because if Os had been the quarterback, Joshy wouldn’t have complained, either. Mack would have

looked the other way, or Pierson, walking by, would have screwed up his eyes and a moment later gone,

That’s the quarterback, and it’s up to the other team to sack him, not me.

I was just a kid delivering ice, a dropout from the same school Os had been kicked out of. This struck

me as something more than a coincidence, something meaningful, most precisely a close call—I don’t know

why, even now, that was the phrase I thought of, as though I could have just as easily been Ostentatious

Dunbar, having a will exerted over me, exerting no will of my own. Because I couldn’t have been. For one

simple reason.

It wasn’t Wayne who slipped off with the letter. It was I, said the rabbit. Most startling was how easy

the theft was.

Wayne was still under the weather, and I was up front again with the cooler. The letter was right

there, on the bar over the cooler. Wayne was in back, in part because he was Wayne, in part because people

might recognize his picture, and in part because the way he was dealing with his runny nose was by taking
wads of tissue, making them into plugs, and shoving them up his nostrils like he had a nosebleed. He was

walking around like that, and it’s a fine enough thing when you’re in the truck or unloading ice, but you

can’t be in a civilized-drunken place like the bar at Hunt Club with tissue falling out of your nose like twin

icicles.

So I was unloading ice, bent over the cooler, with one hand on the bar, and I swiped the letter holder

and knocked it to the floor. A few people at the bar took notice. But they didn’t care. Maybe they didn’t care

because it was a material thing, and this was Hunt Club, so they hoped it broke and there would be a new

thing to look at, perhaps a vase or one of those copper sculptures with tentacles growing out of it that looks

vaguely like the anatomical diagram of a vagina, the one you were shown in fifth grade. Maybe the joke of

the letter was getting old. There had to be a few kind souls among the membership who had felt the display

was tasteless. McCaffery might have been one of them, for all I knew: it’s one thing to attend to assholes,

another to be one. But I knew if Os had knocked over the letter, someone would have told him to pick it

back up—or if no one did, it would have been pure white guilt.

I left it on the floor and went back for more ice. On the way out, I kicked it under the bar. I got the

ice, came back in and unloaded, went out again, and what I did was, I put all the empty ice bags on top of the

letter. So after a while, the letter was buried in empty bags. When I was all done loading the cooler and

ready to clean up, I scooped up all the bags and the letter in the holder and walked out.

At the time, it felt like the greatest coup ever pulled. Now I figure I could have just taken the letter.

Walked right out with it. No one would have cared.

Yet think of the elaborate scheme I’d concocted, positioning myself up front; swiping the letter to the

floor; heaping bags onto the letter; scooping it all up; and the whole time, right up through when I was
moving out of the bar and down the corridor, believing I was tricking them. I was tricking the rich! Because

no matter how hard I tried not to, I had made the rich into something supernatural. Because if I were sitting

at a bar, and there was a picture of someone I didn’t know and a letter by that person standing in a holder

near me, and someone took it down and carried it out, would I have cared? Yet I expected to hear a brusque

“Halt!” over my shoulder and turn to see the maitre d’ heading for me in a speed-walk as club members

pointed accusatorily, as though I had murdered their afternoon.

By the time I got out to the truck with the letter, I felt silly, a prankster rather than a man. I put the

letter, in its holder, on the passenger seat. We finished loading the back cooler, and in the truck I showed

Wayne the letter.

He took it from me and hugged it to his chest. I expected him to toss it out the window onto I-95 or

something, but he kept it with him the rest of the night. Though I never asked—because for some reason I

was afraid to—I think he kept it a long time. He may still have it.

Ostentatious also had to write a letter—to get back into school. I volunteered to help him, my second

letter of the summer. Os was a much better writer than Wayne. The letter had to be contrite. He had to

admit culpability. If he did so, Maritime might just allow him to take online classes. He would never be

allowed on campus. He might randomly smack a dick or something.

The letter was more than adequate, and while I helped Os with it, I was mostly just a pair of eyes. I

imagined what I looked like, if you were to see me, my brow and my eyes revealed over the top of the sheet

of paper as I read about mistakes, moving on, and second chances from a guy who had done nothing wrong.

Dombrowski had been drafted in the fourth round a year ago. He was already pretty much out of the N.F.L.,
had opened camp this year on the practice squad of the Buffalo Bills, “a disappointment,” according to his

head coach. But at least he’d finished college and was picking up a few easy bucks as a body while he got the

rest of his life in order.

It was Os to whom all the damage had been done. And the letter was just another insult.

Four weeks after Os sent the letter, he learned his fate. You already know what they decided.

That day, I was in a holding pattern. Wayne had gotten better for a while, but now he was in the

hospital with Fungal Sinitis. He could hardly breathe, and the fungus was threatening his brain. There had

been two officials down from the CDC in Atlanta to interview him because the initial concern was botulism,

which Wayne ascribed, narcissistically, to terrorism, as though ISIS were after him, as though in a cave in

Afghanistan, some mastermind was shaking his fists and saying the key to world domination was to kill

Wayne Lafontaine, the ice deliverer. The CDC visit turned out to be a waste of time, but Wayne was still

stuck in Delray Medical Center, waiting for his immune system to kick in.

Jim Text had reassigned Os to me and left Tim Clausen to handle the quieter Lake Worth Corridor

on this own. When I asked Jim why I couldn’t solo in Lake Worth and to keep Tim and Os together, he said

he didn’t trust that I’d go where he told me to. Tim texted us a video, early into our run, of drunks in

downtown Lake Worth, carousing on street corners in the middle of the morning. Two junkies were openly

arguing on Lake Avenue in front of Starbucks. “The dregs,” Tim narrated. “Thank fucking GOD that ain’t

me.”

Os let me drive because he was expecting, at any moment, a decision from Florida Maritime. He kept

reupping his Safari connection to check his email.


The email came in around noon, when we were at Yardhouse having lunch. Without saying a word,

he passed me the phone. It was a form letter, thanking him for his “application” and denying him admission.

“That’s the same letter they send to high school kids,” he said.

“Are you surprised?”

“No. I kind of hoped—but that was my mistake. I knew it when I was hoping.”

“You okay?”

“Not in the least.”

I passed him back his phone. He shoved it into his pocket. He pushed his plate away. “You want my

food, man?”

I looked at his half-eaten cheeseburger, two giant chomps taken out of it. “Look, it isn’t the only

school—”

“They’re not gonna let me in anywhere. All these people talk.”

“There’s options.”

He looked at me like I was a fool.

I sat back. “What do you want me to say?”

He got out of the booth. Rising, he was like a god: the size of him. “You can ask for the check.” He

put his credit card on the table. “My treat. I guess I owe Jim my life, now. I’m destined to be an errand boy.

Ain’t life grand.”

I watched him away. The entire bar and restaurant stopped what it was doing as he passed. He was

the biggest, strongest man I’ve ever met, yet he walked like he was floating. It was a good letter he’d written.

It was sincere. He’d revealed that he and Josh were lovers. He had to. And all he worried about in doing so
wasn’t whether he’d get back in but that someone would leak the news—which would send Josh down the

rabbit hole. He vacillated on whether to make the admittance. In the end, it came down to something

simple and true: if Josh went down the rabbit hole, and if he truly wanted to climb back out, there would be

someone there to help him.

When he was gone, I took out my phone. I sent a message to my father. I hadn’t said a word to him

in months, yet this was probably the easiest pair of sentences I’ve ever written: “I’m going back in the spring.

Thanks for everything.” I hit send. Then I sent another text of just one word, in all caps. “EVERYTHING.”
Fall 2019
Nels Hanson

Voyage

I didn’t mean to go so far from town.


I didn’t plan to walk the country road
until the last white farmhouse disappeared.
I surprised myself when I climbed the dry hills
of the Sierra Madre. I didn’t fear I wasn’t tired
at the crest when I saw the sea, the Pacific.
It was blue, as I remembered, far white lines
of surf. On the downslope I reached the pier
in the bay’s harbor and hadn’t thought to buy
a ticket. On the gangplank my heels were
silent as a rabbit’s paws. I knew I’d wandered
miles but didn’t know the path ended with
a farewell. At the rail of the ship without
a captain, other sailors or passengers
I saw Morro Rock as in the channel the empty
boat crossed the breakwater. Westward
bound beyond the sight of land I realized
every step had lead me to this voyage.
Caravans

Morning coffee, combing hair


after a shower, today’s clothes
chosen from the closet, shoes

for work. A routine unfolds as


at the four corners of your life
columns rise like dwarf cedars

stripped of branches, their tops


joined by timbers in a square,
mesh thrown over, not plastic

but wire with a cyclone fence’s


diamond pattern. The cage on
wheels begins to roll, stopping,

starting, the rider thrown back


and forth onto screened walls.
On thoroughfares white horses

pulling wagons flinch at lashes


meant for edgy captives, their
swayed backs stinging as they

recall old champions in armor,


a cavalcade with silver fists to
pound at a king’s locked door.
Seeds

The sidewalk’s squares are blank


as spaces on a calendar or empty
tic-tac-toe, flecks of iron pyrite,

fool’s gold, winking fallen stars in


the smooth cement. The lines are
ladder rungs set always sideways,

forever horizontal on the ground


as if to reach a place from here
that isn’t here but another step

between vague distances. Since


we can’t climb then let’s descend,
with sledge and pick dig down

to find a lost black loam, only


buried treasure worth hunting
for. There sleep roots of giant

trees that like the plum or peach


bloom in spring before summer’s
fruit on branches beyond the city.
The Clouds Off Morro Bay

At dawn, Black Friday, 13th of October, 1307,


King Philip of France arrested Jacques de Molay,
Grandmaster of the Templars, and 60 knights

he tortured to extract confessions of heresy and


incontinence, to shun repayment of the Order’s
vast loans. A legend tells the long night before

the 24 Templars loaded crates on seven wagons


and escaped to the Atlantic port of La Rochelle,
all 18 galleys lifting anchor with unfurled sails

not seen again. Grail, Thorn Crown, Holy Lance


the legionnaire St. Longinus held, True Shroud
still glowing that can’t be touched, Veronica,

the Purple Robe won at dice? Once a year at


sunset a fleet appears on our horizon, hulls low
with gold and sapphire, rose pennants flashing

a scarlet cross, in the changing light now almost


turning towards us to mistake us when the boy
lookout again cries “Home!” sure he spies at last

their fabled haven – Like The Flying Dutchman


the ships blur, begin to disappear, outward bound
at dark for deeper fathoms, far harbors westerly.
Strange Clouds

Those musty books we threw


from our speeding cars as we raced
for the waiting treasure dissolving now
like the polar icecap melting to the fabled

Northwest Passage stand up in a wall


open to a single page with words freshly
chiseled in the stone. Careful, now
warnings turn to epitaphs. Suddenly

the lies we told turn backward, bullets


swerving to massacre the shooter.
The greed, the daily betrayals as natural
as morning coffee that never woke

the sleeper present their urgent bills


demanding payment. What I should do
and what I must do merge to a simple
sentence as above the freeway signs

strange clouds gather, golden coins


start to rain perfectly on our closing
eyes. It was all true all along, the world
really is a hall of mirrors – our faces

change to masks of dying animals, mouths


of the starving, blank look of murdered
children, skin that was never white. At
the end the killer identifies the victim.
Fall 2019
Natalie Jones

This is not my brain


this is bruise-colored
silk cobwebs
on clouded windows
your forearms flexed
time thick
This is breathing the sweat of sound

This is not your heart


not a body
This is wind’s warm skin
our shimmering blood mixed
that small crescent near your throat
a swan’s neck bent
into new snow

This is the slippery language


I wrap my fingers around
the enjambment of your ribcage and mine
this is the (w)ringing of desire

The mouth that is not yours alone


our palms pressed together
not in prayer,
to compare our hands

This is light leaking


the word drifting
your cursive and mine

All FRAGILE

That dew of the ocean


between experience and memory
waiting weighting
Fall 2019
Nadwa Naeem

Gone

Here once,
A man with calloused hands and a crooked back,
Eight decades of stories, of fish, palm trees and sand--gutted and carved in to the shape of a man,
Here once,
A coral walled house, a roof to keep the sun on his knees,
A window, as testament of time,
Here once,
A man with calloused hands and a crooked back,
Brings the catch of the day to his six children,
Here once,
A man with calloused hands and a crooked back,
Burns incense to stop seeing the ghost of his dead wife,

Here once,
Six children with calloused hands and miles beneath their feet,
A stubborn kind of exodus,

Alone now,
The man with calloused hands and a crooked back,
Eight decades of stories, of fish, palm trees and abandonment, gutted and carved in to the shape of a man,

Gone now,
Man with calloused hands and a crooked back,
Not even a gravestone to his name
On Your Birthday,

I imagine, on the day you were born, the day the universe exhaled you out in one swift breath from the
proverbial womb of the universe; time stood still. I imagine all the gods, that exists, would exist, those no
longer living, those we've forgotten—descended on to earth to witness your becoming, a man that made
time stand still.

& here you are after all these years, you, still the same. You string and weave words like second nature and
everything stands still, each time. You, a man who neither conquered continent nor foe, make mountains fall
to its knees. And to this day, I imagine when you move me to tears with your mastery of language, the
universe stops and weeps with me.

And yet, of all your grandeur and joy, nothing compares to the warmth and comfort you bring by the simple
act of just being.

So here's to hoping you continue to make time stand still, here's to hoping you level mountains. Here's to
hoping you continue to move me. Here's to hoping you continue..being.
Haram

Your tongue against my own,


Your breath becomes my breath.
This unholy union of bodies under forbidden sheets.
With sinning hands and bent knees,
I take what isn’t mine,
Your fingers first, an eyelash there, your clavicles next, the sharp edges of your hips, the inside of your
thighs.

Haram,
The word lies heavy on my tongue,

I say it ten times.


Then a few more,
Until it stops digging into my skin
The ghosts of two dying syllables dancing at the bottom of my throat
Haram.
The letters burn the inside of my mouth

Haram. I spit. Before I take that which is forbidden.


Fall 2019
N Amara

a large vase of carrion masthead


of all numbers in sequential leaves and
dark pages the thoughts and this
ample quickening the lurid parts stick
out and squander there are laughters that
breed and curtains in their way out I
limb along a broken pine I travel in
situations of guilt piercing symptoms
with their locks the leafing into the
present like water boil in several
points the amassing shakes and
longer panes of stillness haunt

they travel way out in a darkness liberal


with split cuts down and around this
bend in the cave the lit signs are langouring
eternal ash wandering lessening the crude
ovals of our faces until we amalgam
into a noise

put down now the utterances implacable meandering


this tape I feel affixed along the rough wall
leading into the insufferable dull
let twin lenses to rot walls of sifting paper
a ligature in a fixed I enter mirrored den
tapper on a gate window listener read and type
moons of bright light pitches in a voice
are levels down the arm like a blind probe
cool wanting to follow eye lists and taunting
fixtures of humans sweat the ground a
setting bag air becomes the foyer our
heads hit crooked molding
its awful bright
down here
for critters
their dust
stops to
whisper

alien but
still thoughts
their walls
capital start
gears whisper
in terms of
want

placating in
terms
syllabic
forms of hurting
retaining hurt

pressure down
delights in
tripping crumbs
shedding from
the day

they select the


air
from their dusts
small eyes
harden

pacing and piercing


mandated
having to be having
to be
able

erase in
violence
poignant
haggard their
skeletons
air chasing in

eyes lidded
sore soled
patched up
yesterday was
footnotes
all the trotting

headlong into
interests
sidelong loading
selves into
pitch

of clipping
of certainty
there is
dull
severance

a forger's quarreling
scattering
picking
whispers among selves
again working
into bright
Fall 2019
Michael T. Smith

Advice
(sonnet)

Words of advice do not mature quickly


When spoken into the crook of the ear.
They’re dropped on the cold floor --ever sickly,
Most aborted in th’ head that fetal year.

But snuggling to oblivion some go


Like orphans placed into a crib of drear.
Beholden to laws the homeowners sow,
They may grow past the railing like a breer.

Then, pubescent with a hundred faces,


Each cast with different expression strook,
Along a hall of mirrors one paces,
Its perception like leaves on the wind’s crook:

Chick spanked to ire by the handmaid of time,


Only then, that fleeting bird’s caught in lime.
Adam and Eve

Who's that standing on your words?


All dressed up in fancy girds --
And in a suitcase like a womb,
Carrying, carrying the dead boy blues.

He delivers right on time,


adding the salt to bland rhymes:

“But I’m here to watch the dew


cling to grass for hours too few,
and I know the lady’s untrue,
but something’s left I can’t refuse
for I know Spring’s a lady too.”

“Ain't it just a role” -- she spoke


to the sun until it broke.

He chased those words in a skip


until they punched his back lip
And he found himself much closer
to being dead. Full disclosure --
I found him to be poser.

“Won’t you shut it, lay it bare.”


“Won’t you blot it, it’s not there.”

Every step along the line --


drinking all your daddy’s wine --
the glint is shined right off your shoes,
carrying, carrying the dead boy blues
Breath
(A Herbert-esque wreathed poem)

I wanted to inhale the essence of you,


but a lewd dream got in the way,
strangled my mind’s fays with gestures undue,
but perhaps this new horoscope has more sway,
for today this Aganippe has overflown
into blown hands begging for something more
and my breast, perhorresces to loan
even one lone thought of you, breathed before.
Daniel Webster’s Dictionary

There are so many words in English


that we only use one percent:
the rest being deviants, from whom
Pax will leave the happy home.

You can tell a bad-john


if you pay close enough attention
to his lips. For there – if you love
prejudice, you can discern the soul.

But with eyes bent to the ground


I could believe his words
but not their meaning – for if you love,
if you love, you can be corrupted.

The damned devil devels


in the dirt, from which
all words are created --sensu lado,
but probably not created equally.

And holding language


on trial is but a whistle-wind
of miles. For language will not be
resurrected in the hereafter.

“It’s hardly resurrected here,


don’t you know.” He said
without an accent. “Words die
like people, like laughter.”

And to funambulate twixt two


opinions is relatable to a theme
tied only to a word,
a proper noun, slurred.

It was not he who made


the deal seem solid.
It was the uncouth language
that ultimately did.
Song of Two Old Men

It's a fall day.


It's like when you take a pop song
and strip it down to pseudo-acoustic – ‘ploud’
would be the word that I think best
describes it – via all of Kratylos’ play
(it’s like a couch plop…
or a phrase nonsensical that explains the nonsensical).
It’s Johnny Cash -- who may have never been singing an "L"
but whose CDs were probably burnt somehow
down south?
For down south is where you go to see
the three-way street of
"Me, myself, and I…"
Or so says another old man named Mr. Jones.
This is the acoustic version of my anger –
unplugged.
And I can’t even remember telling you again.
The basement of our minds tells us
only those desires we have buried,
only what the birds would not record
if they could sell
music and not simply make it.
Woe it is to me
to see this butchered scene,
of edits from life, knowing full well
what life’s sound may be.
Fall 2019
Melissa A. Chappell

After Making Love the First Time in His Mountain Home

When it was over,


our breaths were long and deep,
the breeze strong enough to bend the birches,
filling up the hollows
where the bloodroot grows.

We were vines twining around


some old sycamore by the river,
not knowing
where one ended
and the other began.

I am a well, dug deep,


vines
climbing
stone,
and when we rose
with strength enough
to pull down Polaris,

the well flowed


over its sides
in thanksgiving,

its long emptiness being filled,


all of its unknowing being known.
Resting my head in the hollow
of his shoulder,
the wordless tides
pooled softly there.

And he knew it not.


The Girl with the Flaxen Hair1
on bipolar disorder

I last saw her walking through


the rushes and tall grasses,
singing about the seasons,
the light fair on her flaxen hair
in the rustic afternoon.

I could never see


how the sands shifted
in her mind,
her surety washing away
with an encroaching wave,
only to return,
the sunlight singing
over the sea,
a song for her.

They say her mind


was broken;
some felt pity,
some felt empathy,
others cared little..

I knew her when


she used to sing
with the thunder
as it tumbled down
the sky.

I knew her when


she used to curl
like a frightened doe
beneath the thicket
by the stream.

I knew her in the


in-between times,
and I could not see
the shadows as she
sat among the
blossoming things—
the shadows,
shifting like the sands.

For a time I thought


she had gone somewhere,
perhaps slipped this world
when the melody to her song
had unraveled,
as might one of her braids.

Yet lately I heard


she was still wandering
the rushes in the burnished afternoon.

That she fishes in the streams


and has her fill of wild blueberries.

That sometimes she sleeps alone,


and sometimes she doesn’t.

And it is alright with her


if he is gone before morning.

She knows now


that the shadows are there
because of the light,

and the light is there


because with each
passing night,
the Sun will always
make his way around to her,
again and again.

I last saw her walking through


the rushes and tall grasses,
singing about the seasons,
the light fair on her flaxen hair
in the rustic afternoon.
1. Title from Debussy’s ‘Girl with the Flaxen Hair”.
Mammal Dreams

Night was slipping


through the crack
in my window
when he came.

We spoke of little,
except a brief recounting
of the news of the day.

A simple meal,
just enough.

He washed the dishes,


soap up to his elbows—
Careful with that plate,
my mother gave it to me.

I dried with a threadbare towel.

In his arms,
we spoke of little.
Gentle was the darkness,
circling me around,
need rising,
the green fuse
breaking forth--
shattering
death into life--
Yes
to the flowering earth.
Yes
to alabaster streets.
Yes
to a child with a red kite, soaring.
Yes.
Yes.
We slept.
Warm.

Curled,
as if an
old fisherman’s knot,
to be cast into the sea.

We spoke,
one to the other:
Yes,
if only in dreams.
Fall 2019
Matthew Hanna

Envy

“That’s just self preservation.”


They told me, but I didn’t listen.
I never really listen to the people who love me.
Because listening meant acknowledging,
and I didn’t want to acknowledge that which was
the truth.

I only wanted what I wanted.


What others have is my desire.
Why not me and how come them?

Wanting, however, never gets you anywhere.


It only places you right back at the start.
Cascada

One, two, three


The feeling each individual drop.
The pressure falls on me so naturally,
as if it was meant to be there.

The waterfall of my doubts empties itself


On top of me. Yet those around me still act
as if it's easy to control.

I’m not talking about


some silly Japanese anime
where the character is training to
be stronger, waiting to discover a sense
of peace from all the gravity.

No.
What I’m talking about is life.
This is what it feels like to be alive.

A force weighing down on me.


Telling me stay where I am,
never leave it is dangerous out there.

But what if I want to be at risk


of seeing what it feels like
to live outside of this alluring duress
that confines me?

I dream
that one day I will break from
the endless stream and feel
nothing, because nothing is the only
escape from everything.
Second Origin

When I was little, I always tried to be something I was not. A Pokémon trainer, a wizard, a superhero who
always saved the day. Each day was different and full of adventure. But with every adventure comes conflict.
There was always a villain that I was fighting, but I never knew their face. each time we fought our battles
grew ever more intense, and each time I would run in defeat, never finishing what we started. They grew on
me, this villain, the masked menace. Soon a relationship began to form, and they became more familiar
after every battle. It was then that I realized I was not fighting a villain but looking into a mirror. My
reflection was my own worst enemy, and it’s existence was enough to kill me. “One day,” I whispered to that
vile reflection of mine, “I will conquer you, and it will be me who is the victor.” The smile on his face
widened. He spoke nothing but his face told me all I needed to know. “Come get me.”
Unity in Division

Learning to live with the Darkness,


Is like learning to love the enemy.
An amalgam of fear and hate,
Fueled by the sleeping dark desire.

I am the scapegoat for worry and doubt.


The Darkness fills me with negativity and
creates an absence of my own self.

Do it

Whispering winds plague the mind,


Echoing the truth within

The Light beckons, resounds,


Calls me to a greater future.
The calamity has fled,
Scurrying away, it plots the next attempt at freedom.

Reaching out in hopes to save me


it’s hand is warm and positive.
The Light places itself inside me in order to bring hope.

Say it.

Air accompanied with water,


Escaping me for a better life.
Existence is made possible.
So is one, so shall be the other.

Darkness encased in light.


Light shrouded in shadow.
I am the beautiful coalescence.
Fall 2019
Mark Young

The coexistence of mutiple strains

Forget about the conservation of the hair,


especially when compared to a terres-
trial bacteria, the only survivor of a
group that was globally widespread
at the time of the dinosaurs. Their
process of formation demonstrates
the vulnerability of communities &
populations to natural hazards. Might

also exhibit the characteristics of poetry,


especially when recorded in an aband-
oned house in the hills of Kentucky
with strands of iodine added to eke
out the conceptual model. The theme is
mirrors. With mirrors often come masks.
A line from Tallulah Bankhead

The perfect ambitions photo-


album has plenty of pictures of
one sibling but none of the other.
So old-timey Central European,

very much the stuff that syndromes


& psychiatrists are woven from.
Smartphone CPUs still can't offer
any alternative, haven’t gotten be-

yond an interactive feature on how


words enter a Scrabble dictionary.
Seems like maturational arrest is
the only way to be free of ambition.
Your spouse approaches intimacy differently to you

Mammon seeks to seduce us


with a free online dictionary,

but no amount of Proper English


is going to overcome the fact

that being grammatically cor-


rect can often be a boner killer.
reference to the right objects causes her to turn

Comments on the logistics of


dust writing tend to confirm
that the nozzle of the cartridge
must be cut to suit the thread
& so provide a proper fit. A second
horse, with vertical hold & bright
white tentacles, can be hired to
provide a baseline for comparison.

Why is it with everything we have


we find ourselves overwhelmed
with stuff we want to keep & no
room to keep it? It’s a meeting of op-
posing currents, a pure spin cycle,
with a somewhat muddled outcome.
neither wave nor particle

Is said, sans apps, a PC is


a typewriter, a smartphone
a slab of glass — but those are

false dichotomies for other


options are available. Like.
Get your meme on, with a block

of text. Meme may be a dirty


word in every language but is
a crucial element for success.
He had killed his brother

An elephant goes on a rampage:


its center was a step cut citrine;
looked strangely like a toy.

As far as motor skills are concerned,


cognitive & interpersonal skills are
needed to manage matching parasols.

My home was destroyed by an earth-


quake. This nonlinear pattern also offers
a key iconographical spotlight shining

right on you. The differences appear to


have become lost. Some mah song men-
acingly slice their tongues with axes. Years

later I have recreated myself. The technical


obstacles to reconstruction are immense.
Fall 2019
Margaret Adams Birth

HALLOWEEN AT THE DONUT HUT

The words were still running through my brain when the noise woke me up: “Sleep that knits up the

ravel’d sleave of care,/The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,/ Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s

second course,/Chief nourisher in life’s feast.” Yeah, my mind was hurting, and I could use a good eight

hours of the balm that Shakespeare wrote about in Macbeth. I’d been up until midnight studying for my

Tragedies of Shakespeare midterm, in the hope that my grade wouldn’t be such a tragedy. I looked at the

face on my glow-in-the-dark digital alarm clock, and it read 2:00 a.m. Good grief! Why couldn’t the

university schedule its fire drills for more decent hours—like 2:00 or 3:00 p.m.? Sound sleeper though I am,

even I could not sleep through this fire alarm. I woke quickly, but remained in a daze until I opened my

dorm room door, peered out into the hall, and saw hall-mates running toward the stairwell, mumbling and

cussing about the fire alarm.

I donned my winter coat and boots, and joined the disgruntled stampede descending the stairs and

then standing in the building’s lobby.


A fire marshal holding a bullhorn began to bellow, “Okay, everybody—outside! Get outside! We’ll

call you when you can come back in. Outside, outside!”

We moaned: October in upstate New York is a cold prospect. Five inches of snow were on the ground

and the temperature was in the twenties already, in late October. Still, we were hustled out of the building.

I found some friends, and we huddled together in an attempt to block out the cold.

“Do you see any smoke coming from anywhere?”

“No-o-o . . .” Ginny craned her neck, turned her head, took a couple of steps, and looked around some

more as she spoke. “No, I don’t see any. Do you?”

“Unh-unh.” Dennis shook his head.

“Well, do you think that the head fire marshal is cruel enough to make us get out of bed in the middle

of the night, on the coldest night of the year so far, to hold a fire drill?” Ginny wondered aloud.

“Yes!” the rest of us replied in unison. We laughed sarcastically.

Then someone—a student who had positioned himself near the building—yelled, “Hey, the fire

marshal says that there really is a fire!”

A few people clapped, happy that they hadn’t been dragged from their cozy beds for nothing.

The fire marshal then stepped onto the porch, raised his bullhorn with a very official-looking

flourish, and announced, “Good evening, students.”

A few students jeered at the greeting.

“Good evening, students.” The fire marshal began his speech again, this time in a sterner tone of

voice. “There is a trash chute fire in this multiple-unit domicile, and we are presently striving to contain said

incendiary crisis. The containment process will be somewhat protracted, however, due to the sensitive
nature of the—ah—containment. Someone,” he pronounced with more than his usual significance,

“appears to have thrown a lit cigarette into the trash chute—by accident, of course.” The “thank you and

good night” with which he concluded his speech was drowned out by student cries.

“Of course,” yelled one student in reply, “whoever pulled a stunt like that is either an idiot or a pyro!”

“No kidding!” agreed a second student. “Just don’t tell me who the chump is, or I’ll make him blasted

pay for getting me out of bed the night before my econ. exam.”

My friend Dennis shook his head. “Testy, testy!”

“No pun intended? . . . I suppose you like standing in five inches of snow at a quarter past two in the

a.m.,” Ginny, my roommate, remarked.

“I just want to go back to sleep,” I muttered groggily. Dennis’s roommate, Elton, put an arm around

my shoulders and laid my head against his chest.

“She gets grumpy if she doesn’t get enough sleep,” said Ginny. “And you—” She pointed an

accusatory finger at Dennis. “Why aren’t you bleary-eyed at this wretched hour?”

Elton replied for his roommate. “Dennis was still wide awake when the alarm went off. Mr. Straight-

A here was pulling an all-nighter before his geology exam mañana.”

“An all-nighter!” Ginny repeated, incredulous. “What do you need with an all-nighter? I mean, why

torture yourself? You already have a four-point-oh, for goodness’ sake!”

“Not a four-point-oh—just a three-point-nine-eight,” Dennis corrected her as he contentedly

shrugged his shoulders.

Elton snickered. “Oh, just a three-point-nine-eight, huh? You know, guy, if I didn’t like you so much,

I’d really hate you!” He playfully punched Dennis on the arm.


Ginny changed the subject. “Well, I am tired of standing outside in the snow.”

“Me too,” said Dennis. “Anybody up for doughnuts?”

Ginny and I looked at ourselves, then at each other: We were both wearing nightgowns, bathrobes,

winter coats and boots. “Like this?” we chorused.

“Do you have a better suggestion?” countered Elton.

Ginny and I raised, then lowered, our eyebrows, said “why not?” and then climbed into the back seat

of Tigger, Dennis’s orange Toyota hatchback.

Upon entering the Donut Hut, Ginny and I felt right at home: Sitting at the counter were Bonnie and

Clyde, Adam and Eve (wearing post-Fall fig leaf garb), and Cyrano de Bergerac. Mae West was taking

everyone’s orders. Ginny and I didn’t look one bit odder than these characters did. It was only then that we

realized it was Halloween eve or, to be more exact, it was the wee sma’s of Halloween day.

We all sat at the counter, joining everyone else there, and The Schnozzle extended his hand to shake

mine—or so I thought—but he kissed it, instead. “Allow me to introduce myself—Cyrano de Bergerac.”

“Yeah . . . Hi there, Cyrano.” As charmed as I was by his formal introduction, I simply couldn’t bring

myself to speak in similarly poetic language; I’d had my fill of literary-ese for one day.

With continuing gentility, he queried, “May I inquire as to what brings you and your acquaintances

here at this most preposterous hour?”

“Sure,” I said. “Our dormitory’s on fire.”

“Oh, mon Dieu!” he exclaimed. “Heavens! That is quite a tragedy.”


“Well, it’s just a dorm . . .” Then I thought about all of the possessions I’d left behind, and added, “But

it’s home . . . And you . . . What brings you here at this time of night?”

“I cannot sleep,” Cyrano mournfully told me, “until I find my one true love.”

“Oh—your Roxanne.” I nodded, certain that I understood this gentleman’s charade.

But he replied, “My—my what? I know of no Roxanne.”

“The love of your life— Your— Oh, never mind.” I brushed my remark aside with my hand.

“Would that I knew of one with such beauty of heart and flesh, then I would make her mine!” Cyrano

cried. Then he murmured, “But I am not aware of this Roxanne of whom you speak, and greater is my

sorrow that I should have little likelihood of finding her here and now.” Cyrano slumped on his stool.

I glanced over at my friends to see how they were faring. Mae West was sharing her makeup tips with

Ginny; Elton was debating creationism with Adam and Eve; and Dennis had his eyes closed while he was

quietly reciting to himself all of the facts, names and figures that he had memorized for his geology exam.

We were all so engaged in ourselves that we didn’t notice anything odd or out-of-the-ordinary—until

it happened. With a sudden movement, Bonnie stood, and Clyde stood in front of her. Clyde then pulled a

pistol from his jacket and pointed it toward Mae West’s ample cleavage. “Don’t even think of callin’ the cops,

lady,” he growled. “This is a stick-up!”

Mae West laughed. “Okay, honey, you can put your little water pistol away. I’ll get you a free refill on

your coffee. I’ll even give you some extra sugar, if you know what I mean. But you don’t have to threaten me

with that thing.”


“This ain’t no water pistol—and you don’t got to give me no free refill, neither! Coffee ain’t what I’m

after—if you know what I mean . . . Just open that cash register, nice and slow-like, and give me all your

money.”

“Oh, woe is us,” cried Adam, “for we have fallen into sin!”

“Waitress, could I please have some more hot mulled apple cider?” asked an oblivious Eve.

“Ah, shut up—both o’ youse!” Clyde sneered.

Adam shot a dirty look in Eve’s direction.

Mae West silently handed Clyde a bag of cash, her lower lip set in a defiant pout.

“Ah, quit lookin’ so sexy!” snapped Clyde. “Don’t try to distract me, ’cause it ain’t gonna work!” Then

he began to back out of the Donut Hut, Bonnie still behind him, as he continued to point the gun at Mae

West’s heart.

“Okay,” he said, “now I don’t want no funny stuff. You got that? We’re leavin’ now, but I don’t want

you callin’ no cops. You hear? Ain’t no one gonna track us down.”

“No one?” Cyrano dreamily asked. “To go where no mortal being could locate you and force you to

confront whatever mundane responsibilities you may have fled . . . To venture to a haven where body and

soul may find perfect peace . . . That sounds immensely refreshing.” Cyrano perked up. “Pardon me, sir—

milady—but would you two consider the accompaniment of a traveling companion? I will never find my

true love in this”—he gestured widely—“this backwater town.”

Clyde shifted his gaze to Bonnie. “Who’s he talkin’ to?”

“Us, I think.” She made a cracking noise with the gum that she held in a wad in her cheek. “But he

ain’t speakin’ English, I don’t think. Or, at least, I ain’t never heard no one talk so funny-like—you know?”
She nodded her head in Cyrano’s direction, and addressed herself to the rest of us, who were sitting

wordlessly and without motion, for fear that Clyde would blow off our heads if we made any noise. “Any of

you understand what Mr. Fancy-Pants here just said?”

I raised my hand, like the polite student I was. “I—I believe”—I stuttered—“I believe Cyrano wants to

go with you. He wants to escape, too.”

Excitedly, Cyrano bobbed his head up and down. “Yes! May I? May I go with you?” he pleaded with

Bonnie.

Bonnie looked at Clyde, shrugging her shoulders.

“Okay,” agreed Clyde nervously. “Whatever you say. Just keep your fancy mouth shut—and get

movin’!” As the three of them backed out of the Donut Hut, Clyde remarked, to no one in particular, “It’s my

tragic flaw, you know: I got a soft heart.”

After Bonnie, and Clyde and Cyrano were long gone, we continued to sit still—in stunned silence.

Dennis looked down the counter at Elton, and Ginny and me, and circled one finger in the air next to

his head, as if to say “crazy!”

In reply, Elton shrugged his shoulders. “They couldn’t have really been serious. Cyrano must have

been their accomplice—though, I must admit, that was a rather clever Halloween scheme: None of us would

be able to guess their true identities—I mean, in real life,” he added.

But then Adam turned to Eve. “If you hadn’t listened to that old snake—”

She ruefully shook her head. “I know, I know . . . None of this would have happened.”
Fall 2019
Ken W Simpson

Uncle Sam’s Legacy

This land is your land


a penal colony
of ghetto dwellers
with a population
of homeless addicts
diseased and dying
amid mountains
of garbage and rats
on the streets
in San Francisco
Seattle and LA .
Fall 2019
Kelly Egan

the noon

A hum

of psychoses

in towns

without siesta hour—

Who saw

the noon monster?

A couple of kids.

They were down

at the lake,

they had slipped

out the back—

In the hour

of siesta,

the lawns
balloon.

Asphalt teethes

on the way

to the lake.

Below the county road’s

pale guard rail, it waits,

outcast grass

un-pushed for years.

They filed down

and sat. Why shouldn’t

it be that same

lake from the daily

fringe, swum in

as children, now

in boredom’s

trance returned to?

A stone

breaks the surface,

chalk green.
They saw the noon,

those kids,

transmitting

from the frontline

of the scar.

They said

I’ve been asked

to break the spell

of my family,

go abroad—

And then

the light creased,

and then the monster

dove. And then

those kids

went home, assumed

dinnertime seats.
4 poems at the onset of a year

funeral

Did their passing complete an equation?


Vibrating strings,
a triangle widened in deep space,
ambient violin,
where all ambulances go—

I wake up as a matter of form


in a dance class, autumnal air
fracturing into bands
and the ceiling’s exposed asbestos
a gurgling white. Soon the multitudes
of community eyes, soon
spirals in the Sunday lab,
experimental shapes
in the space between neighbors—
breath and muscle-fire
intersecting electronic music—

What is the time signature of dying?

Or animal sleep, botanical sleep,


a parade going by while we weep.
black hole

There is a black hole center of the system,


an orgasm where I disappear.
There is a phone at the beginning of suffering

but tonight, R’s sweater


sets the mood. Ice cream and beer,
fire pits and side conversations,
electronic duos, hopefully French.

Oh, there is a server farm edge of the field


and even Christmas cannot deliver us.

Dare I say that happily,


in the end, in the end,
so much will come to depend
on the finding of a black dog.
mammals

Mammals emerge from winter.

I wish to be deeply content.

Oh, the madness of merging


No, the madness of merging

A cigarette weather,

pressed by a heavy vagueness.

Been in this space too long—

the way a door

is a door is a door is a door

before a wound to the wild goes.


park

When I reach the park I know someone loves me.


What’s missing is the name of this cave,
intaglioed by ancestors’ instructions for the void.
What would it feel like? To dive between a hug
I don’t belong, loll between words in a prayer—
I like the idea, said my date, of haunting a place,
which is not quite longing for a god
or even analogous, which is such an uncanny valley
that I sip my scotch, say a prayer to the hunger
moon, that I’ll remember where I put that wand—
Fall 2019
Jared Pearce

Girlfriends

There were things to like


about the dating scene, meeting
new girls, hearing their stories,
getting to hop into their lives
for an evening or a month,

and then out, unscathed, maybe


wiser or happier. And when I quit
my job no one cared or thanked
the work I did, the friendships
and the trials. It was just over,

and I went back to zero, without


the tenderness that comes finding
a hairband in the sock drawer or
a creased photo showing for an hour
or two everything mattered.
Tug once for more line, twice to be pulled up.

The dawn never scared me


until you refused to wake up,
clamping the dark to your face,
screwing yourself to remoteness,

as if the day had seared your sight


you tied an old sock across the bridge
of your nose after you clogged the doors
and windows and anchored your hair to pillows.

I couldn’t take the depth—


I had to get to some light,
which meant I had to see

your obscuring, your drift—


a rift and a drowning,
a wreck at sea.
We see what we can see.

The stump left


from the chopped
tree is gushing
sap—streams
roiling the just
mossy bark,
staining the earth
a foot in all
directions. Like
a volcano, I
said, megalithic
force driving
to the surface,
unaware, uncaring
for consequence,
just pushing.

She took
a look, Like
a mother, she
said, who’s lost
her baby,
and her milk
keeps coming in.
Guilty as charged

I’m sure he didn’t wake up


thinking he would be a murderer,
the boy found guilty in the second
degree. Just like I’m quitting

my job today, but I didn’t begin


in that vein. I wanted to pump meaning,
deliver nutrients, oxygen, trim
down to the muscle and matter.

My neighbor burning something


out back didn’t plan on the smoke
hotboxing his house, but there it was,
like how an organ’s absence will fill

with fluid—there’s never nothing,


we agree to live a certain way,
until we burn up the garbage before
the cops can show, or resign

for a healthier life, or drive a knife


through a heart, draining
the first machine we fall in love
with, wondering why we did it, afraid.
Janis Butler Holm

Holiday Parody
Text: Janis Butler Holm
Voice: Bett Butler
[click on the icon below to hear poem]

pant uh gauze his plumbing blue gown

pew fetter crotch route


pew fetter tot pie
fetter tot trout
lime selling pew fly
pant uh gauze his plumbing blue gown

bees shaking uh twist


hand decking pit mice
sauna grind route muse dotty hand vice
pant uh gauze his plumbing blue gown

bee she's pew then pure peeping


bee doughs then pure uh rake
bee doughs riff move din plaid for wood
go see wood gore wood chess drake

mow pew fetter crotch route


pew fetter tot pie
fetter tot trout
lime selling pew fly
pant uh gauze his plumbing blue gown
pant uh gauze his plumbing blue gown
Holiday Parody
Text: Janis Butler Holm
Voice: Bett Butler

[click on the icon below to hear poem]

calve pure shelf uh cherry whittle grist fuss

calve pure shelf uh cherry whittle grist fuss


jet pure chart see site
crumb how faun
sour doubles fill see route love tight

calve pure shelf uh cherry whittle grist fuss


shake duh ghoul pride way
crumb how faun
sour doubles fill see piles astray

cheer lee bar jazz gin golden phase


slappy olden phase love swore
wraith pull winds mew bar jeer blue thus
lather beer blue thus dunce store

spew duh gears lee mall fill see blue heather


riff duh skates avow
fang uh whining jar pup fawn duh biased chow
hand calve pure shelf uh cherry whittle grist fuss how
Fall 2019
J. D. Nelson

ladder to the purple sky

the stars are lifted by the song of the night hawks

pick the pig in the song


using the middle notes
singing,
pig, where are you, pig

what do we do now, werner


oh, we will be the bees of the forest

this concludes the second earth


with a new one standing by
coyotes and bulldozers

there are thirteen birds on a wire


one of them is singing a helpful song about putting things away when we are finished with them

in my peanut butter sleeping bag


I will eat a cake that I’ve been hiding in my backpack

machine hands and eyes


whale love

in the dentist’s office


not caring what you read

I found a real diamond


it should keep for a while

why is there no whale


at the top of the stairs

as long as it takes to go thru


the old wall of the castle

a world of lonely rabbits


half of them are me
not a cooking show but a pollination ghost

stunned lichen
that peter is a paul

we see it in the garden


speaking the daffodil language

ghost yolk
the sleeping star

what is it about _______ that makes me _______

I’m the monster of marles park


thanking the good cook for a fine meal

earth is laid out nicely


sweet wild fox is the crowned head

the hunger was a fill-up to burger the browser data


shimmering yeck is the donut carp for all persons

fictional james was a wild burd who ate seed


could be the me from the future

the land of the grass is a green greep


a late robot to boot the mess

the stretched face now on the scanner


and now the world while we wait
the seven of the wild pines

creatures eat the dirt


perishable food in socks

worms on wet sidewalks


please don’t see me

earth hums with saturn


everyone get in the sink

luck out if that’s your jazz


and that shark is andy
walking into insect world was a new earth rollo

is the mohawked duck a convenient look for you in the mirror


that quack was a red wet yes

the emergent giant may take form


to change the pressure of the language

listening for the hoot

now a world of the non-world


not looking with the eyes

a hundred tigers are the color of the sun tomorrow

clown average is the nice eye in the window

we have the day to spend as aphids

hand of light to brighten the world

the skunk is a hot donut


tippy cap was a lone star

to start a raw meat club at the high school


to sharpen the neighbors’ bread

going in for the forest honey


the bees will trade it for machine guns

the calculator brain at the home depot


the new earth in the solar crib

machine parts on my plate


I am very familiar with the trees
Fall 2019
Ian Ganassi

FREE-FLOATING ANXIETY

I stumbled into a hornet’s nest


And then into a cow pie.
It wasn’t my day, but it wasn’t yours, either.

“Potato skins aren’t food,” he said,


“They belong in a pigsty.”

Bad weather always looks


Worse through a window.

You can beat me all you want,


I’ll never be a believer.

But Mary knows best


How her garden grows.

“It’s a nice day,” said the churl, “If you’re a duck.”


It was time to slop the pigs and pass the buck.

Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.

You don’t need winter to develop a fever.


The disease showed up unexpectedly; be resourceful and use it.

The “horseless horseman,”


Whose meanings were meaningless,
Went far enough to discover certain secrets.
“Foods you never knew could make you beautiful”
Definitely aren’t on the menu
At the next truck stop.

An infinite regress of useless tears

Welling in reaction to unnecessary fears.


CHANCE ENCOUNTER

As with cotton stuck in the neck of a medicine bottle,


I couldn’t get a grip. But nobody was counting.

The principles of romance are close enough.

“May she continue to rest in peace.”

All this makes cherries. It even makes no more.

“Famous last words,” as we used to say.

There’s no law that it should be done


But there’s no law against doing it.

Once you do it though, you’d better run.

The ship’s hold was full of lollipops—


The many child stars were in their element.

It will never happen that way again.

I just want to take the whole pile of rubbish


And throw it up in the air,
High enough for the wind to catch it
And carry it to Siberia where they need it
Like a hole in the head.

We’re in deep shit—the fire is coming closer.

Get out your water pistol,


Get out your slingshot.

In other words,
A snowball in hell.

But someone else was there first.


They planted a flag.
AND THE WIND CRIES

Dangerous as a wounded snake


He came at me from my blind side.

But the uncles and aunts were mostly


Not at home. She died swaddled
In the flag of her choice.

We have to ask them repeatedly


To repeat themselves
Because of the gargling or garbling.

Somewhere there’s
A bad connection;
It’s all I can do
To hear myself think.

Somewhere there’s a place for us.

And the sun and moon


Will hasten the year along
Round about now—
Turn around and it’s snowing again.

I had forgotten
How cold this apartment gets.

Then there are the parking lots.


Don’t it always seem to go?

The last train out of here was late


For the circus. I had to call a cab.

Therefore did we miss the elephants.


And elements. But it furthered the entail,

Which was, after all,


More than we had bargained for.

Someone not named Mary, true,


But neither is destiny and neither are you.
MARKING THE BLUES

He was always a wreck,


Whether the game was capture the flag or chess.

But yesterday wasn’t any better.

If there be a hell on earth


It is to be found in a melancholy man’s heart.

Eventually he escaped.

All she remembers after all these years


Is how good I was in bed.

Beneath the façade,


The underlying lie of the seamy land.

To wait for, as in a nightmare.

Do you think there ever was an accent anyhow?

They finally dispatched the evil magician,


But unfortunately he had a twin.

The burden of the canary swells in the smoky air.

There wasn’t much to be read


Into his or her appearance
(The canary’s that is).

An infinitely gentle sight


For jaundiced eyes staring into the night.

And all of us carried a big beam,


A flashlight for examining the dream.

But the decision or incision is not mine to give,


Whether or not you die or live.
PENNY STAMPS

A tortured soul here, a Kilroy was there,


A grilled cheese sandwich or French toast

At the five and dime luncheonette.

She carried her purse with an occasional air.

“Freud was hilarious,” she said.

Woolworth’s is having a sale on houseplants.

Diamonds are a setup, like the Valentine’s Day Massacre,

A friend to shoot for at the carnival.

But if I were a competitive animal I would think like one.

In the coal mine without a clue, Martha cooked our favorite casserole.

It was a good thing, but where were the diamonds?

There’s nothing else to watch so let’s turn on the match.

There you go and there you went.

Coffee and home fries for lunch with lots of ketchup,


Back when poverty and manual labor seemed romantic.

“Let’s get out of here,” she said, dissatisfied


With the accommodations and the company.

How embarrassing.

Like Santa without a belly, or Ichabod Crane without a head,

There you were and there you’ll be,


A singularity—

No time for apologies.


AGGRESSIVE INGRATES

“Take good care.” As opposed to what, “bad care?”

The little traps laid for us by the world,


The danger of falling glass.

Some were playing cards and some were shooting craps.

Something I could have lived without couldn’t live without me.

I envy the wrecking ball, replete with rubble.

The state of my digestive system is always making trouble.

Every dog has his due provided she’s sufficiently serious.


Unless they’re attack dogs, rabid dogs, fight dogs . . .

Deleterious was a bad habit with Sirius.

The 250-year-old barn still stands up to the rain.

Look an ant, get out the antibiotics!

Here comes a candle to light you to bed.

I’m so hungry I could eat a wedding cake.


But where would I start? With the figurines?

A useful jar to put things in, a set of Tupperware in delft.

How infernal do you want your curry?

“It’s almost like you don’t care.”


Fall 2019
hiromi suzuki

Darjeeling Daisy

Chick called Daisy is


Sleeping in a rusty tin can
Feeling a remaining scent of
Fermented Darjeeling tea leaves

Tin can is filled with family portraits


Mother is talking to the picture of me

This is you
A newborn baby

Chick called Daisy


Is the eye of day
Fall 2019
Harlan Yarbrough

Vignette in Blue

Arty was a bluesman and a good one. He thought of himself as broad-minded. Arty enjoyed a wide
range of musical styles: classic country blues, Delta blues, Chicago blues, Detroit blues, Piedmont blues,
Atlanta blues, Texas blues, West Coast blues, jump blues, and all sorts of acoustic blues—he even liked some
rhythm'n'blues.
If Arty had lived in New York or Chicago—maybe even San Francisco or Los Angeles —he could've
made a decent living performing the music he loved without having to travel much. Living in rural Oregon
made his situation somewhat more difficult. He picked up whatever gigs he could in Eugene and Portland
and got the odd one in Corvallis or Salem, but mostly he had to travel to the California cities, occasionally
Seattle, or east of the Mississippi for work. He didn't much like travelling and especially didn't like travelling
alone. Vicki, Arty's wife, didn't mind travelling, but, even though her job was only part-time and her bosses
generous, she couldn't always get away.
The link between work and travel had frustrated both of them for years. If Arty didn't travel, he didn't
have any income, and they had to scrape to make ends meet. If he did travel, he'd be away from home for
three or four weeks at a time, and neither of them liked that much separation—although Vicki didn't seem to
mind as much as she used to. Arty had begun to worry about Vicki's growing lack of concern at his necessary
absences.
All that plus three weeks with no gigs made this show at Eugene's WOW Hall particularly welcome.
Tonight was the second time Arty had opened for Bob Jones, and Arty felt grateful that the folksinger had
specified Arty as his warm up act. They'd met many times and jammed and chatted at the Oregon Country
Fair and a couple of festivals they'd both worked, and they enjoyed each other's company and music. In the
warm-up room at the WOW Hall, they jammed on some of the tunes they both knew—Jones wasn't
primarily a blues player and Arty played almost nothing else, but they knew a few in common.
As they finished jamming on “Sister Kate”, Jones asked, “You do anything by Pete Lewis?”
“He that guy who played with Johnny Otis?” Arty countered.
“That's believable, but I have no idea. You're the blues expert,” the folksinger replied. “I just heard
something by him on the radio, drivin' up here—might've been on the 'Blue Plate Special'—and I just
wondered if you knew it.”
“What's it like? Play a little bit of it.”
“Oh, man, Arty! I can't do that. You prob'ly can, but I can't. I've got to hear something three or four
times at least, before I can remember it.”
“Remember the name?”
“Yeah, I even wrote it down, but I remember it anyway. It's called 'Midnight at the Barrelhouse'.
Seems like that'd be a bouncy tune, but it's a slow one—and all instrumental. I was makin' up words to it,
while I was driving, and I thought you might want to do it.”
“Cool! I'll see if I can find a record of it.”
“Yeah, good. I'll write out the words and send 'em to you, when I get home. Don't forget to give me
your address.”
With that, they slipped into jamming on “Keys to the Highway” but had to stop partway through,
because the stage manager called Arty to get ready to go onstage. A stage-hand carried Arty's twelve-string
and his three-instrument rack out to the designated spot, as Arty carried his Gibson SJ and his National steel
onto the stage. Arty set the Gibson in the rack and sat down with his National, launching immediately into
Charlie Patton's “Shake It and Break It”. Before the applause stopped, Arty began his version of Robert
Johnson's “Dust My Broom”.
Arty's frequent appearances in Eugene had generated an enthusiastic following there. He had fans in
the WOW Hall, and they greeted the opening line of each song with raucous cheers and applause and did
the same at each conclusion. About seven songs into the set, someone toward the back of the audience called
out “Sippie Wallace!”, so Arty went straight into “Woman Be Wise”. As the applause at the end died down, a
heavy-set woman in the second row muttered something Arty didn't catch but thought sounded disparaging.
Never one to run from a confrontation, Arty launched straight into a song he'd heard Jim Croce sing
but had learned from a fellow named Tom Rush while back east for a blues festival three years earlier. The
song seemed derived from Blind Boy Fuller's song "Meat Shakin' Woman", and Arty started right in: "Big Fat
Woman, get your fat leg off of me!” When he finished and the applause and cheers died down, the heavy
woman in the second row called out, “Sexist bastard!”
“No, no, madam,” Arty said, “that isn't sexist. This is sexist,” and began the guitar introduction to
Pink Anderson's "Every Day In The Week Blues”.
At the end of the song, after the loudest cheers yet, the heckler called out, “Pig!”
Arty wanted and had intended to explain a little about Pink Anderson and the history of the song and
Laurens, South Carolina. Instead, he just said, “I'll take that as a request,” grabbed his National, and went
into “Blind Pig Blues” from Barbecue Bob. The heavy woman and her slim and rather attractive blonde
female companion got up and stomped out of the hall.
As the two women opened the door to leave, a male voice from the back called out, “Good riddance!”
When the applause at the end of the song died down, Arty swapped the National for his Gibson and said, “I
guess that wasn't the one she wanted. I'll try to redeem myself with 'Pigmeat Stomp'.” At the end of that
instrumental, followed by the biggest ovation yet, Arty said, speaking and looking toward the back of the
hall, “I'm sorry, sir, I appreciate your support but I have to disagree with you. I think it's too bad whenever
anyone doesn't enjoy my songs. I hate to see anyone leave.” He swapped for the National again, as he said,
“Still, I did my best. Anybody want to hear a Robert Johnson song?”
Arty began playing “Come On in My Kitchen” amid the hollers and cheers that ensued. While
singing, Arty saw the stage manager discreetly flashing two fingers. Hanging the National on the rack, Arty
grabbed his twelve-string and finished with two Atlanta blues numbers from Willie McTell. As the crowd
roared their approval, Arty grabbed his National and his Gibson, bowed to the audience, and walked off the
stage and down to the artists' room.
“They loved ya, as usual,” the evening's featured performer said, when Arty entered the room. “Man,
you're so good, I don't know if I can afford to follow you after this.”
The two exchanged good-natured banter until, Arty said, “Jeez, Bob, I never know how to handle
hecklers. Do you think I did OK.”
“Arty! You did great. I don't know if I'd've handled it as well as you did.”
Arty felt reassured but looked around and asked, “Where's Vicki?”
Bob started to say something but had to excuse himself and respond to the stage manager's call to the
stage. That dipstick Danny Gunn, supposedly one of Arty's friends, said, “Was that dyke somebody you
know?”
Arty cringed at Danny's language but said only, “I don't think so. Why?”
“Well, Vicki shot out of here when those two walked out, and we could hear her giving that dyke a
real tongue-lashing out on the sidewalk.”
“Bless her heart,” Arty said. “They didn't beat her up or anything, did they? Where is she?”
“I don't know where she is,” his friend said, “but they didn't beat her up. That dyke's girlfriend—or
whatever she is—jumped in on Vicki's side and called that bull dyke some names even I hadn't heard.”
A commotion caught the two men's attention, and they both stepped quietly out of the warm-up
room into the hall—just in time to see Arty's heavy-set heckler walk in and resume her seat.
The headliner, who had sung the first four or five songs of his program, stood quietly until the hall
grew silent, then said, “Madam, if Arty Vandeever isn't good enough for you, neither am I. You can just go
back out the way you came in.”
Two audible gasps gave way to an ovation, as Arty's earlier critic slunk back out of the hall. Arty felt
as if he could almost kiss his musical friend for his kind and very public support. Grabbing Danny by the
wrist, Arty returned to the warm-up room. “So, where is Vicki now?” he asked.
“Damned if I know, but I'm pretty sure she's OK. I think maybe she and that little blondie went
somewhere.”
“The big one's girlfriend?”
“Or whatever. Yeah. I'm not sure, but they were talking all friendly-like. Did Vicki maybe already
know her? It sounded like it.”
“Dunno. I couldn't see her all that well, with the lights in my face and all. And Vicki has friends I
don't know, of course.”
The two stood silently, listening to the concert from the main hall. Arty worried about Vicki. When
he spoke, kept his voice steady with some effort, “It's just that big woman seemed quite belligerent. I'm
worried that she might've attacked Vicki.”
“Nahh . . . I don't think so. The blonde was on Vicki's side. Besides, the big one just came back in—we
saw her.”
Arty continued to worry and listened to the main show with only half an ear. Once the show had
ended, and the two performers sat in the artists' room, a woman Arty recognized came in from the hall and
said, “Vicki asked me to tell you not to worry. She went off to have a coffee with Susan and said she'd catch
up with you at Tom and Jo's or get Susan to give her a ride home tomorrow.”
He felt relieved—and a little embarrassed that he'd completely forgotten that Tom and Jo had
planned an after-concert party. He asked his folksinger friend, “You gonna come over and jam at Tom and
Jo's?”
“I might come by and say 'hello', but I can't stay and jam. I've got a gig in Portland tomorrow
afternoon, and I'm driving up to my sister's tonight.”
“Where's she?”
“Durham,” his friend replied, as he closed the lid of his guitar case and snapped the latches.
“Where's that?” Arty asked.
“Across the river from Tualatin.”
“You'll get in late.”
“Yeah, that's why I can't stay long.”
The two performers led a small caravan of friends to Arty's cousin Tom's place. After a warm
welcome, the two sang one song together before Bob made his apologies and drove away. Arty played and
sang until just before dawn, thinking Vicki would show up any minute. He eventually fell asleep in one of
Tom and Jo's spare bedrooms. He woke midmorning to hear Jo asking softly outside the door, “Arty, do you
want to wake up to talk to Vicki?”
“Yes, thanks,” he said, as he pulled on last night's clothes and hurried to the 'phone.
Vicki assured him she was OK and asked what time he planned to head home. He told her, and she
said she'd be at his cousin's by then. She arrived with time to spare, greeted Arty's cousin and his wife, and
climbed into Arty's van for the ride to Elkhead. On the way south, Vicki complimented Arty on his
performance at the WOW Hall and talked a little about his cousin but didn't say much else. Only after they
were back in their little cabin did she say she was thinking of moving out and relocating to Eugene.
The next week, Vicki quit her job in Roseburg and applied for four jobs in Eugene, three full-time
and one part-time. She and Arty were both reasonable, and they retained some genuine affection for each
other. He had wondered and worried for many months over the ebbing of the passion in their relationship,
but their remaining time in Elkhead seemed less strained and more comfortable than one might have
expected—although Vicki didn't spend much time at home in those last three weeks.
Two employers offered Vicki full-time work, and another offered part-time work. She accepted one
of the full-time jobs and rented a shared house in the Whiteaker neighborhood with three friends—
although she and Susan have recently made an offer on a house on Taylor near 11 th .
When Vicki first told Arty she intended to move out of his life, he felt sad but not despondent,
confused but not devastated. In hindsight, he guessed he'd sort of seen it coming. By the time he loaded her
things into his van and hauled them to Whiteaker, though, he felt almost relieved, liberated. He spent a great
deal of time on the 'phone for a few weeks and booked a fairly lucrative three months of gigs on the East
Coast. Although an amicable divorce had left him single, he didn't return to Elkhead with a new girlfriend.
By the middle of the next year, though, he and a waitress from Max's had begun spending most of their
nights together.
Fall 2019
Gwen Dearing

The graveyard is filled with indispensable people


I spent my life disappointing people
George loves entertaining people,
and luckily for him, we have
three entertaining people to join him.
I had brass knobs on my bed,
I can still recall
the taste of them to this day.
Fall 2019
Gregg Williard
Fall 2019
Glenn Ingersoll

Five Letters

Dear Sir,
It has come to our attention, facilitated by a lasting disagreement among friends divided by an
ancillary acquaintance that the freshest vigor pursued among the mild absence will perform itself to the
lesser among those dismayed. Assuming for this once a never-alleviated tensile impulse, we may have to
create a fell excess, seeking thus a common avenue down which interests, some meagre, some
demonstrative, curtain markedly, eyes to the crack, a new dawn done in by a cloud from that part of a clear
automobile. It is only the donkey connivance. And a green will cut into the metal.
yours sincerely,
etc.

Dear Sir,
You are welcome to absence, although we fear it has been filled with yellow aspects of the cant, songs
imbued with summer, and, perhaps, but this is only speculation, a rampant conventionality. We regret the
accumulation of evidence having reached such proportions. Even sincerity’s been dinged by the sudden
pensive toggle switch. Nevertheless, we are sending fair warning in boxes packed with white tissue. Do not
be amused, for the wigs must need cheaper close concealment. That, at least, has been vouchsafed to the
private security detail.
yours sincerely,
etc.
Dear Sir,
We wish not to frighten you or the assets that have been gathering like purple crows among the
blooming cacti in an endless winter afternoon wherein light shafts between the crystal-bound limbs of
needling trees. It just is not among the goals, this plangent fear with its filament tapping into the risky
ancillary finds. Rather, a thing belted around the middle with an instinct would compel our sympathy,
though it is resistant even to our own articulated blandishments. Ease often dawdles, it is said among the
cognoscenti who know the flagrance of some wines and the relative reticence of some other wines, dark,
fragile wines. You will have to get back to us, who have gone so long, so long; the grass is again whiter.
yours sincerely,
etc.

Dear Sir,
It has come to our attention that what is not as it seems is not also crumpled in a bin, long may it ride.
Thus we implore you to restate the relevance of your attrition, the shards cluttering up the well which some
go back to, even now, knowing even the unmet need clings to its renunciations from the early afternoon to
the later afternoon, bordering on teatime, aware despite this that a large head of glass also wiggles in a bell
mumble. We admit to our lack of resources, the energy run down to the posts, a light fragrance lingering
where the success failed at last. Even to you we point it out, though new roads will be available shortly.
yours sincerely,
etc.

Dear Sir,
Apologies may be necessary, although, it having come to our attention at such a late date that
essential elements of the tableau seem to have decayed irretrievably, we are not at all sure contrition is
appropriate. Your opinion? A claw hooks the fragrant ribbon. It is not plangent. Not this time. Another
occasion that sort of excess will be just right, especially when dribbled from the tip of a glass syringe, bright
sparkles of ignominy bouncing to a sheer grade and there drilling in for the long gleam. We may disagree,
those of us who come to any conclusion at all, but let that not divide or teach us; let it, instead, lead to a
lessening of fervor, the tension leaking out of the contention so rapidly we won’t notice the ocean coming in
at five. It is the unbearable battering of our wits by one moth that will lead us to the breaking of every bulb.
yours sincerely,
etc.
The Stranger

He was palpably hard


to dislike, awfully food.
Little long and zero poisoning,
prettiest and offset,
quietly high-volume,
of a camaraderie slow-roasting,
bliss unhireable, needy, public,
fancy. Who settles, taken,
for the ramblingly once-
promising? In order, stars
break and sneak, panning
for the whole leap.
Vents

artichoke porcelain flames off paper clipped lion sings

for alligator sneezes among trees more tea

salad apple laid aside by trail past bets serious ship

blue-bellied easy window eating gall basket

pool wandering split china hands art is hope shoe toe cup

long tree three later pour chunk band banner knee

laid way foil ship ant blue math window apple easy state

belled galls sunned gallow ferries bend basket

tons end portly piling belted umbrella down king

porch limns treat pest from tidy rub


Petrel
after Maw Shein Win

Into a fat blue bowl he splashes beef, pearl onion, taut-skinned mushroom.

I am beautiful.

With a tear of bread he dabs the spill and eats.

Over the border fence the wisteria hangs its sleep.

I proclaim my beauty purely as a duty.

The watchman breathes what came from the body.

A lantern throws shadows over drought.

What is fame if not an absence of shame?


Worn Out West

In the alphabet light he erects


a pearl squeegee, the tile-bearing elephant's
mango-sweet tongue riding into the French twilight.

Perilously adorned, he is both cheeky and slimly eventful.


People adore his lips, his tenderloin, capsules of his emanations,
eventual flat aftereffect.

But he faces a swoon, carries off widgets among the heavenly,


ekes out what promises to treble,
comes down to a nod.

Give credit where credit collides with the smelly clothes hamper,
this wicker a glandular green.
The Gold Man’s Mine

My memory crowds weeds and flowers onto its shoulders


so the old gray guy and I, shambling in our shackles,
dust in our drawers, and darkness on our scythes,
sandwiches of mincemeat, cockleshell and inebriation
in our iron pocketbooks, our boss’s jaundiced eye

a yellow pall so vile you must’ve puked it out


on the mad ball’s wilful architecture last night late, or maybe
it’s the stout shit the Portuguese left spinning in the bowl
still spinning with each piss swipe, or perhaps
despair in orbit, stripped of ghost, ready to shoulder

harmattan messages. Who knows! Do you know?


Spit! Where was I? Shuffling in chains under a looking
glass sky, water aching from my skin canteen,
poor wounded fruit, weeds all around me like letters
from collectors asking politely, like letters lizards

ape, contorted in sun-smashed meaning, a sea


of slippery clouds and cutting jokes, gold and dull
as fishermen missing their yanks and sighing with
enemy love, the drowned tears diligently drifting
out of childish knots, harried by ferries fetching ancient

promises for fresh plantation and quick twilight.


Wasn’t I going to cut something with this black blade?
Why’s it a spoon now, its yellow stripe a property line
divvying snowing from skipping, sleeping from rowing.
Fall 2019
Ethan Goffman

Now is the Far Future

When I was small


the smallest of all
—so small I can’t remember how tiny I was,
perhaps not even a fetus, perhaps—
I figured out how old I’d be
in the year 2000.

Horrifying!
An ancient, a wizened figure with an endless white beard
curved and boomeranging
thin and pointing in uncountable directions
twisted spaghetti
a garden of forking paths
Jackson Pollack on my face
in multiple dimensions.

It’s 2019 and I am a citizen of the far future


clutching not a magical staff but a small tablet
of infinite wisdom
and infinite foolishness
more omnipresent than a wizard’s familiar.

I’m no ancient figure nasty with knowledge


I know only how much I know I don’t know.
I am endlessly young
a fetus perhaps
casting and scattering words
in intricate mazes of ignorance
disguised as knowledge.
The Earth Is the Center of the Universe

Some say the Earth is the


womb of the universe
The seething center, mother
of myriad forms
Oozing with vitality, soft with soil, pregnant with being
The sticky womb of everything
birthing its own self

The Earth, the Earth, the Earth


Not the sun
not the milky way
Not some mega-cluster of galaxies too vast
to be conceived
by us infinitesimal earthlings
the true titans
that created the universe

But the Earth, the Earth, the Earth, the Earth


the swirling center
around which the sun, the moon, the stars, the galaxies
Revolve

Nothing exists, not primordial mists, not emptiness


till we earthlings perceive it

Yet we, ourselves, our contemplating selves


do not exist, did not exist
Till certain chemical process
spun out of god knows what hell
or heaven
created us from nothing
allowing us to create
the Earth, the Earth, the Earth, the Earth, the Earth

Emptiness is not empty


Just as fullness is not full
The glass is always already
half full, half empty, all of both
Optimism is pessimism
air rises above water
water drips down from air
earth sinks into water
water ascends from air

Air is emptiness
the nothingness without which there is nothing
an empty universe
a blank page waiting
to draw itself upon

To birth
itself

Where else would self arise?


since nothing comes from nothing
Nothing must be something must be nothing must be something
Air must be water must be fire must be earth
the whole god-damned table of the elements
the whole blessed periodic table that gives us
life
is water is life is water

earth comes from water comes from air comes from fire comes from potassium comes from chloride comes
from uranium comes from uranus comes from something comes from nothing comes from something comes
from everything comes from nothing
Fall 2019
Eric Howard

In the Shadows of the Atoms

Not because I have given you every herb bearing seed, and every tree, the bristlecone and July
gold, the many-flowered navarretia,

but because you have forgotten your goodbyes to the yellow-legged frog of the southern
mountain and the evening primrose of the Antioch Dunes,

you will fly away with the marbled murrelet and great gray owl, and no limestone salamander
will grant a stay pending further review.

When the trees are dying one by one you will be awakened by dreams of being late.

Because the court had no notice that the jury’s findings ignored the laws of physics, the government
took the raisins.

Because the broken window and bullet holes found in the squad car were caused by the
ricocheting bullets fired from the officers’ own guns, the Delhi Sands flower-loving fly
and Kern County sphinx moth are leaving, and you shall return to the atoms that are
slowly spinning away,

casting spectral shadows like prison bars even on the stars and their right to remain as silent as
desert road signs at night.
Add Fire to the Names

I want to see through your eyes and take yesterday from you
because tomorrow burns more than today, gone Gabriel,
and less than lunchtime chugging Mad Dog 20/20 down
behind the handball courts with you before fifth period,
because fuck college, let’s ditch Beryl (her forbidden name,
what was her surname?) and that sleeping pill, the Iliad:
“As obliterating fire lights up a vast forest”
she’d cackle, cigarette hoarse, epic wattles fluttering
around her semi-precious broaches. What little shits we were
to a random English teacher whose loneliness we mocked.
Honey topaz, she would say, flattered every time we asked.
Remember the slides of her Arizona vacations?
Gem and mineral shows, tables crowned with heavy sparkle.
If only we could live in amethyst. The smell that day
every living thing dreads, the sky a school of ashes. One
fell into your palm after floating from Cuyamaca
and you smiled. For once, for eternity, the mascarad
orange sun did not look down on two queer boys like Beryl did.
The roll call of AIDS was forever in the future. Fire
is a last name now. The sky is a schoolteacher: What comes
after Horns Mountain? Stubblefield? What color were the wheels
of God’s car? Ezekiel said They sparkled like topaz.
Maybe all you’ve got to read after some random motel
date in North Eden or Broke Creek is Gideon’s. Thumbnail
finds Deborah’s song: Blessed among women is Shawna Lynn Jones,
who liked to skateboard and play pool. The first female inmate
to die, fighting the Malibu Fire. Ask sad schoolteachers,
the mean kids, all the Crystals who strip in fracking boomtowns,
what’s Big Grassy’s last name? Put it in the upper-right-hand
corner and repeat after me: “I could have been Jones. I could have been the stone
one hundred feet above her head. Fire’s come to paradise.”
Tomorrow’s hard as crystal, harder than the Bible. Say
Big Grassy Fire, Goshute Cave Fire, Burro Fire, Topaz Fire.
Only the glitter is random. Ten million years of heat
like a tent spike hammered through your head is the prophecy.
Mandylion

The Mandylion was a piece of cloth bearing an image of


the face of Jesus. It brought miraculous aid in the defense
of Edessa against the Persians in 544.

It says in History of the Wars they believed their city


would never be conquered as long as the Mandylion
was within its walls. (Their city was conquered, and the cloth
went to Constantinople, which also fell, then Paris,
where it disappeared in the revolution.) As long
as they waved white flags the cavalry would not open fire;
if they had just believed enough, corpses would not be sold
for food. Who would think a lieutenant would tell a captain
you best get back in that chopper and mind your own business?
They must have dishonored their prophets. If they were righteous
their population would not have needed to be reduced
from 25 thousand to less than 25 (Common
we still will be if one in every 10 thousand survives.
So far, the dandelions have been patient with us.). As long
as carbon is mocked we lose our city and our children.
So long as blue butterflies are drawn to common wormwood—
fill your pillow with it to stop nightmares—which grows above
the graves of Kosovo, can a Mandylion save us?
Fall 2019
Elliott Griffin
Fall 2019
Dustin Pickering

Calm Embrace
for Alyssa

I fathom you from a distance,


gold cloud, dream,
dust of my sorrow.
I only kiss you in the mirrors of eternity.
Your heart is a cage of desire,
gripping my energies tightly,
girding my eager heart’s paradise.
I reach my mercy toward you like an empty tomb—
torches of terror and fire insurmountable
bleed onto your countenance,
radiant as a dove.

We linger in love as lustre lost—


the shadows know no sacrifice in their hell of circumstance.
Unthinking, I clutch your back, move softly toward your body,
kiss your breasts fervently like a madman unhinged.
I thirst for your warmth.
We complement each other.
We are an earth together. Let us bring the fire.
Black Snow
“O endless wrath of God…”
Canto XIV

I eat the dreams I become—


seeking benevolence, false,
the road is dark and glum.

A sinister grin from harpy’s lips,


I wait these times of its fear:
from Golgotha mount I take my sips.

A devil wracked by hunger & pride,


I slave the sludge of my own demise.
The honest conscience in which I confide—

is fed with rain and tar, burning sand.


Hills of shit obscure my chances.
Freedom from torment my soul demands.

I eat the flesh from my fathers,


sinning as a beast in glutton’s eyes.
I make the future a passing blur.

Thick, thick heart of devils with whom I plead:


free me from the chains of wrath.
Hunger for wisdom will be my soul’s greed.
Fall 2019
Deborah Saltman

Handbags

My girlfriend is a mum
She carries that heavy kinda handbag
My mother never went anywhere without hers
A clutch close to her hip
Like little hands when we were little

You know
You can see them in the streets
The ones that replace the stylish bags
Designed to carry laptops not
Healthy snacks in small containers

Her kids are grown up now


And she is a widow
I opened her one day
And saw them all
The little plastics still there

Now she carries me in her handbag


Along with that heavy heartache
For I am the womanother
The hidden naughty snack

I don’t carry a handbag


I’m a kinda backpack girl
It’s a wrap

It’s Shabbat
Shul for you
The end of the beginning
The beginning of the wandering
Palestinian wrap day
For me
He makes the best falafels
This side of Jaffa
(Which was his home in a previous Exodus)
Now this Londontown is both ours
Jew and Palestinian in exile

Three flights of stairs


By the bookshop with its devouring window
Across the yummy mummy cul de sac
Avoiding dogs and children of equal height

His wife is wrapped up tighter than my future wrap


Only her plastic hands showing
She is laying out the impending contents of my stomach

No aubergine
Never could understand the distinction
Eggplant Aubergine
Courgette Zucchini
Crepitations Rales
Adrenaline Epinephrine
Died Passed

Yes tomato/tomato
A fruit that sighs differently for you and me
A plaster of humus
A piece of lipstick coloured turnip
If I smile and make small talk I may get two
Four falafels sizzling in the jungle of lettuce
Tahini chilli
And it’s a wrap

Half for you


If you were here
On Penn’s Landing

Ezekiel
(I thought he said he was David)
Yesterday perching on the parapet
About to fly to the pavement below
Following the winter warmth like Icarus

I passed by you and saw you downtrodden, and I said to you, “Live”

Solomon
(I think she thought it was me)
Last night visited to give a judgement
On who gets the mother
For Christmas and Pesach

Oh give me the kisses of your mouth for your love is more delightful than wine

In the minus four today


(You say it is high twenties
But then you are always my Pollyanna)
Between kisses
I showed you where it happened
As we crossed the icy Landing
To your bus stop

Back alone
From David’s perch
I watch a tiny car struggle by
With too large a
Christmas tree strapped to its back
And wonder whether I prevented a death
Or just gave something away
Wissahickon Creek

It’s almost light in London and a thumb of morning presses heavily through the smog streaked window round my
neck as you did in yesterdays but now in my doze we are in the mist of the forest by the Wissahickon, enjoying little
fingers of sunlight between puddles of colourless brown. My Mimi hands reach for you, briefly brushing the
marathoner’s glutes. WE dug deep that day into the exposed crypts between the mud and the gravel only to surface
around my vulnerability.

You called. I’m awake. And now my mind audiobooks through our past running chapters along the Asmara,
Regent, Schuylkill, Delware and finally up the stairs to the bedroom. I’ve named them Honey Locust, Black Locust
and Water Locust. For they are like the places I have kissed your shoulder at night while you sleep. First the honey
sweet pod of Olivia. Slowly healing and revealing your desire. Then the toxic pod of the Rat. Now to be mine
always when the Water Locust bears its solitary fruit.

Anon, another morning apart in a winter sunlight flecked with bruised trees. Your nocturnal mistral propels you
elsewhere again leaving me to run alone. Embracing our new volume, I trace and retrace each Pegasus to Heathrow
through the smog streaked window. Until we meet again and our questions are answered.
Fall 2019
Cris Mazza

One Night, Two Perspectives, Three Screwdrivers

March 1, 1980, San Diego, California


They’d known each other long enough, Cal maybe could’ve just turned the knob and walked in, since she expected
him. But he didn’t. He knocked. She answered by opening the door and walking away without looking at him or
saying hello. “You ready?” he said.
“No.” She was already in the bathroom, then came out holding a comb and glanced at him quickly. “Well, at
least it isn’t a date.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You look better in jeans. Why d’you wear those disco pants?”
“These?” Cal looked at his legs. Marcello had said black pants, and these were what the store had in the
category of pants and black. He wore them to every gig, just about every weekend. “What’s wrong with ‘em?”
“They’re repulsive. We’re not going to a disco, are we?” She was still in a bathrobe.
“You don’t have to come with me.” He tried to look somewhere else. Mail on the kitchen table. Albums left
on top of a speaker.
She went back to the bathroom and started to brush her teeth, then came back to the bathroom doorway.
“D’you think anything will happen?” A trickle of toothpaste ran down her chin. He moved slowly toward the
bathroom, until he could see half the sink.
“Maybe. Things don’t just happen, though, you’ve got to make them happen.”
“I know that. Is it anything like where Rudy works?”
He put his fists in his pockets. “Oh, I forgot your Mr. Big works in a bar.”
“A fancy one, with an expensive restaurant.” The toothbrush in her mouth made her words blurry.
“Then don’t expect it to be the same.”
“What kind of people will be there?”
“Whadda ya think ... a club called Macho’s.”
“Gays?” Then she laughed and sprayed toothpaste, not quite far enough to hit him.
“You wanna go to a gay bar?”
“Once was enough.” She turned back to the sink and spit her mouthful of toothpaste. “If something doesn’t
happen tonight, dang I’ll go crazy, I swear I will, sitting at home and thinking.”
“Don’t think you’re the only one who ever sat at home thinking,” he said.
She looked over her shoulder, out the bathroom door, at him, then turned back to the mirror.
“Well, you could’ve done something, like I am tonight.” She rinsed her mouth again and spit. “So who’m I
gonna find at this place?”
“A lot of sailors go there.”
“Thanks loads.”
“A lot of people. I never took a census.”
“But I bet you counted all the babes under sixteen.”
“Just the ones with long dark hair.”
“Good,” she said. She shook her head and her hair landed back in place. They’d both had long hair, in high
school. After that hers was frizzy for a while. It was straighter now, and shorter. Now it was shorter than his.
She went into her bedroom, then called, “Do I need a purse?”
“You’ll hafta buy drinks.”
“Dang.” She closed the bedroom door most of the way. “Rudy always makes my drinks. He only lets me
have three. Screwdrivers.”

See, Cal, if I could ever someday explain to you … about that night in 1980 … and also that time when
we were sixteen. I know I was a mopey teenager, and even tried to tell you why, having to do with not liking
things I was supposed to want. And you listened. And usually tried to joke me out of it. Then that one time, you
… well, you tried something different than a joke. And you wanted to call it love. A 16-year-old human male
can’t love any more than a feral wolf. And if love is expressed by jamming your finger inside someone— Dang,
Cal, I know one of the ten-thousand times you apologized, you said you knew it must be wrong cuz I wouldn’t
stop bawling. I don’t remember crying, before or after. But if I was, it was because it was the same day, or the
day after, my dog was mashed by a car. I’d had Shep since I was FIVE. Anyway, understandably, our friendship
had been getting more and more awkward since that time. But I always needed someone to talk to after my
pointless non-relationships. With men, I mean, not dogs. A few men. Very few. Two. The real relationships with
dogs so outnumber the men. The night in 1980 in that club with you … I hadn’t yet gotten another dog. I needed
to talk to someone who already knew me, but how sick is this: I hoped you didn’t know I was still a virgin.
[
She came back into the living room wearing gray slacks and a loose summer top with very thin straps across her
shoulders, which were already brown, and it was only March. “But I can make one drink last a long time.” She
rubbed lotion on her hands, hesitated, then took more lotion and rubbed it up both arms and shoulders, under the
straps. Cal turned away.
“I just sit and watch him work. Everybody likes him best of the bartenders.”
Cal stood with his back to her, looking at his feet, where the bottom of his pants hid his shoes. She was right,
the material was thin and shiny, clinging to his thighs, flaring at the ankles.
“They all talk to him like they know him, and it gave me this funny feeling in my chest because only I knew
him. Or so I thought.” She stood right beside Cal, but he didn’t move. “I just sat there watching him, then he would
come down to where I was, lean over the bar and whisper something, usually about one of the customers, but so
everyone knew I was with him.” She moved in front of Cal and picked up a silver bracelet from the coffee table, put
it on one arm and pushed it all the way up, almost to her armpit, then shook her arm until it fell back to her wrist.
Cal was watching, but she didn’t meet his eyes. “They all told me I was lucky because Rudy was such a great guy.”
Cal headed for the door. “Rudy hates that job. He can’t wait to finish accounting school. Maybe the church-thing will
make him bookkeeper for everyone’s doorbell-hours, so he won’t have to associate with worldly things like money …
and perverts like me.” Something clanked. Cal turned. The silver bracelet on the coffee table. And she’d picked up a
framed snapshot of a dog. “You know, that dog loved me more than … well, than anyone deserves to be loved.”
Cal was already holding the doorknob, looking back at her. “You finished? Did that help?”
“No. Let’s make like a goalie and get the puck out of here.”
It was early. The parking lot was empty. He took his saxophone case out of the trunk but she still hadn’t
gotten out of the car. “C’mon, hurry up.”
“Do I hafta go in now?”
“Unless you wanna pay the cover charge.”
“Dang, I don’t want it to look like I’m coming with you.” She was staring straight out the front windshield.
“Look,” he said, “after we get through that door, you’re on your own. I’m not gonna come to your table or
even look at you. I’ll be looking out for myself, and I don’t wanna hafta worry about getting you home.”
She turned and met his eyes. A shuddering moment. And he thought maybe she shivered too. “Good. I just
don’t want anyone to think I’m with the band.”
“Yeah, you’ll never get that funny feeling in your chest if people know you’re here with the skinny sax
player.”
“The one in disco pants, that’s for sure.” She got out of the car.
They stopped at the service door where the employees and band members went in. He knocked. “You sure
you wanna do this?”
This time she didn’t look at him. “I have to. I’ll go crazy otherwise.” A waitress opened the door. “Otherwise
I might end up like you, dragging around, just getting older.”
“Thanks. I can always count on you to define my life.” He joined the other band members, setting up on a
small stage.

[
All I know is it was too damn early for me to be ordering my first drink. I nursed it a long time, sipping it through
the plastic straw that’s meant for stirring. Rudy had warned me not to drink through the straw because I would
be affected by the alcohol faster. Could that asshole have been right? I sucked each ice cube, taking turns,
letting them all shrink at the same pace, until each was a sliver, and yet your damn band was still setting up,
saying “test” into microphones, twanging metallic notes, moving the drums around to make room for still more
amplifiers.
[

He watched her. Nothing new about that. Whenever she was around. Even if she was throwing barbs. Sometimes
she seemed to have no sense, no judgement, like the religious-nut she was nuts over. And now, as he watched, she
actually left her purse on her seat and left her table. Cal’s amp and monitor were already set up, he was waiting for
the final sound-check, seated on a stool at the back of the stage, his sax on a floor stand, his legs stretched out in
front, heels on the floor, feet rocking slowly side-to-side. His glass of tequila in both hands, between his knees. He
was carefully sloshing the contents in circles without spilling over the rim. Staring at that, but aware of her. She was
coming toward the stage, then went around the side and stood on the floor, below Cal’s stool.
“When’s this damn thing gonna start?”
“What’s your hurry?”
“I’ve already had a drink. Three’s my limit.”
“What happens after three—you turn into a pumpkin?”
“Rudy told me three was enough.”
“For him maybe, so he wouldn’t lose control and find himself in bed with you.”
“Har-de-har.”
Another band member edged past the drums and brought Cal a jigger of tequila and a glass of beer. Cal
finished what was left in his glass, then took the jigger.
“Dang, Cal.” She turned away while he emptied the jigger. He watched her lower one strap and rub her
shoulder, slowly, squinting at her skin. “Hope I’m not peeling.”
“You’re not.”
She turned back toward Cal. He sipped his beer then wiped the foam from his beard with his palm.
“Know what? If you ever go bald—and it’s a good bet—you can just turn your head upside down.”
“Har-de-har back atcha.”
“Okay, then,” she said, “I guess I’ll fill my glass with water so it looks like a drink.”
When Cal laughed, she glared.
“What’s so damn funny?”
“Little Miss Sophisticated. And he called you a pervert?”
“Shut up. He never said that word. Just that it wasn’t right to be with me.”
“I think he was gay. A puritanical queer.”
She started to walk away, then turned around. “What about your excuses, Cal? How long has it been for
you—what’re you waiting for?”
He watched her until she was back at her original table. She picked up her purse and, with her usual
absurdity, the empty glass. When she came out of the restroom, sure enough, the glass was full again. Then she
moved to a table even farther from the stage.

[
Was alone the only way I thought I could function in a crowd? Alone, and yet not-alone because I knew you
were watching me? And, somehow, therefore, safe … because of it? I had no intention of leaving that club with
a stranger! But no other intentions either. I don’t think. Which, at best, is coy. At worst … well, dang, coy is bad
enough. I couldn’t admit I thought it might be cool, you playing in a steady-gigging band with (what turned out to
be) a big crowd dancing. You smoking and drinking which was so different than when we were teenagers.
(Weren’t we wide-eyed bumpkins?)
When you guys finally started playing, there were still only about fifty people in the club, and only half of
them dancing, a bunch of empty tables between where I was and them. It’s hard to remember but maybe I can
picture it cuz it’s when I had to order my 2nd screwdriver. I was going to wait longer, but this waitress picked up
my glass of water and stood waiting for something. Sorry, one of those jobs-you-do-in-college that I never did, I
don’t have the proper reverence, and probably don’t tip enough. That night, did I tip at all? Did I ever pay? Who
picked up my tab? You? If so … dang, Cal, I am such a weasel. I won’t say bitch, that’s a female dog, and dogs
are honest about … well, love and such.
Anyway, you were right, Marines and young Latina girls. They had exaggerated eye makeup and flipped
their long hair and kept it flying around like silky flags while they danced. The men didn’t have any hair to flip
around. I remember, and probably also remembered it right then, at a gig in high school, when you jumped off
the stage to dance and play the cowbell, how your long air … well, didn’t exact flip, but was wild. Wild in the way
tall dry grasses are wild. Is that an insult? I mean natural. Jeans and a T-shirt. You were so frank and
instinctive—that kind of wild. Your band in high school played Chicago, Tower of Power, Blood Sweat and
Tears, and The Doobies—which you always sang. But that band that night in 1980 … yes, I was disappointed.
The trumpet was out of tune, the drums too loud, so was the bass, and that singer attacked every note flat, then
slurped up to find the pitch. They all sounded the same, even the pop songs I should’ve recognized, plus you
didn’t sing anything. What were you doing in that crappy group? Maybe what I felt was helpless—powerless to
get you back into something better. But I got that second drink to last through the first set.

[
When the band took its break, pre-recorded top-forty music came through the speakers. “Turn it up!” the girls called
from the dance floor. There were a couple hundred people in the club, but she was still alone, blocked by 4 or 5
empty tables. She was staring at the tabletop, drawing something with her straw, as Cal made his way toward her,
stumbling over a few chairs, but even that didn’t make her look up. So he said, “Hey,” when he was still ten feet
away.
“What now? I thought you weren’t going to talk to me.” Then she glanced up, briefly, “they’ll think I’m with
you.” Her eyes darted elsewhere.
“They don’t even know you’re here. Nothing’ll happen if you stay way back here.”
She leaned back in her chair but kept both hands on her empty glass, tipping it and tapping it on the table.
“What d’you care?” She lifted the glass to drain a few remaining drops. Even the ice cubes were gone. “I mean, you
trying to be my pimp?”
“Good idea.” He pulled a chair from behind him and sat backwards, accidentally rapping the chair’s back
against her table. She grabbed her glass as though it was going to blast off. “Maybe I wanna see it happen. I wanna
watch you leave with someone.” Or he needed to. If he could keep himself from jumping the guy and stomping his ass
before …
“You’ve known I’ve been with lots of guys.” She was looking down again, her fingers twirling the glass.
When a waitress hovered beside the table, she wrapped her hands around the glass. So Cal ordered a beer and the
waitress left. “You knew I’ve been with Rudy for ... these few months…” She raised her face and probably caught
him staring.
“Otherwise known as six weeks,” he said, “and I knew nothing was going on.”
“You wish.”
“So why’d you break up? What happened, you had to ask if he had a prick?”
“Shut up. I keep telling you, he was in this kind-of church …”
“What were the commandments? He couldn’t lay any pipe ‘til you converted?”
“He might’ve married me if I had.”
“So why didn’t you? Convert, that is.”
“It was … I wanted him to see … we could’ve been okay together, without that. That religion thing … It was
icky.”
“You are a pervert.” He stood, trying to laugh, and maybe he succeeded. “Trying to seduce a man away from
church. Have you no decency?”
“A weird church, they didn’t even call it church ... But at least I’m not as wretched as you.”
He turned and walked back toward the stage, but stopped several tables away, started to go back toward her
while he yelled over the music, “You’re crazy if you think I’ve gone this long without wetting my wick.”
“You bragging or complaining?”
The top-forty music faded. Cal wheeled and ran toward the stage.
[
Maybe someday we’ll be trading stories and get it straight, or maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe we’ll both forget it
and get on with our lives. I mean, it wasn’t that big a deal, was it? So, I honestly didn’t know where I was going
or what I was going to do after I took a leak, then sat at a different table, this time in the middle of a lot of other
crowded, noisy tables. There were even several empty glasses at the new table, and an ashtray full of cigarette
butts … and why didn’t I even care or wonder? I think I lay my head on the table for a second, but the smell of
the cigarettes made me even more dizzy. Cuz by then I was already whirling a little, and I’d never felt like that at
Rudy’s bar. Like there, I was always more sharp than ever, keeping my eyes on Rudy as he laughed with the
customers. His fingers never even touched the waitress’s hand when he took change from her or handed her
the drinks she needed. That’s how much I observed and remembered. Not like what I remember from that night
with you … my head likely going back and forth from down on the stinky table to propped up in my hands. When
someone asked me to dance, I might have just stared at him, but I can’t remember what the hell he might have
looked like or how long he stood there til he gave up and moved on. Marines, they all look alike, right? Amazing
that a waitress even asked me if I wanted anything, but somehow I had another screwdriver. I didn’t think I ever
actually slept, but had a suddenly-woken-up feeling when the band stopped playing. Everyone seemed to be
talking very loud, then they must’ve realized they didn’t have to anymore, and the throbbing conversation
settled. When the slurpy singer sat across the table from me, I couldn’t figure out where I’d seen him before.
Duh! It was the band’s table! But … did I do it on purpose, move to that table on purpose? I still wonder, and
can’t answer.

[
Between sets, a waitress was always standing at their table to get their orders. As usual they were all having beer and
tequila. Hunched up and clutching her glass, she almost looked like a frightened monkey. Cal lifted one of her
drooping straps and put it back on her shoulder, then sat beside her.
“What’re you doing here?” he asked. “Why didn’t you dance with that guy?”
“I dunno. He didn’t give me a chance to answer.”
The trumpet player sat in the last empty seat, on her other side. He was wearing jeans, a white shirt and a red
tie. Cal smoked and drank. He had a reed in his mouth along with a cigarette, then he crushed the reed in the ashtray
and everyone at the table cheered. Everyone except her, of course. She leaned toward Cal. “Can I tell you
something?” She giggled, suddenly even closer. “Can I tell you something personal?”
“It’s a free country.”
“I mean, I hate your pants. I knew I could tell you, though, I mean, I figured you’d wanna know. What’re
friends for?”
“Good question.”
“But it’s a two-way street, y’know. You can tell me something personal. C’mon, ask me anything.”
Cal put his cigarette out. No longer a monkey, more like an 8-year-old, she pointed her straw at the rising
smoke and blew at it, then coughed.
“Okay,” he said, “why did you go to that gay bar?”
She was batting at the air as though smoke still lingered. “A girl in accounting class thought it would solve
my problems.” She rubbed her eyes. “With men. She thought my problem with men was men.”
“So she thought you should be boffing women instead?”
“I don’t think a girl can boff another girl.”
“Whadd-ya think lezzies do together, sing campfire songs?”
“No, I jus’ mean it’s not, like … boff sounds so hard, like a fight or something. With girls it’s … softer.”
“How’d you know?”
“I’m a girl.”
“That doesn’t mean … it can be soft with a guy.”
“Dang, didja hear what you jus’ said? Bragging about being soft?”
“You know I meant it different.” He finished his beer. “When it’s something that means something … I
mean it should mean more than... That’s when it’s … better.”
“What’re you talking about … please?”
The waitress was already putting down another beer. He pulled down half of it before speaking again. “That
really is a good question,” he said, “what’re friends for.”
“Yeah. A miracle we’ve been friends so long.”
“Have we?”
“Haven’t we?”
He drummed on the table. “Except one time when we were more than friends.”
“That time?” Her lips tightened. “We were less than friends. Why doncha wear jeans or something?”
[
I probably couldn’t even tell you, it was the first time I got drunk. Rudy sure made sure I didn’t. My head felt like
a brick balancing on a toothpick. Did I ever say that out loud? I planned to, whenever I felt like talking again. I
remember I could hear the other band guys talking but couldn’t tell how many different conversations. Thought I
was still laughing at the last thing I said but was also drooling on my arm. You smelled of tobacco and liquor
and sweat—the smoking and drinking were new. And you looked serious and exhausted. Where was that boy
I’d known with the crazy grin? I probably didn’t say that either. What I did say was probably a pile of sassy-ass
bullshit. Why’d you like me so damn much?
[
“If you were in a different band, like a better one, maybe you could wear different pants.”
Someone said, “Hey, wa’chit.” The table jolted. Ice cubes rattled.
“I don’t care what you think of my pants.”
“Well ... if you were wondering why you never score—”
“It’s nothing to do with my pants.”
“Okay.” She closed her eyes and drained what was left in her glass through the straw.
He said, “We already established your love life isn’t a raging success either.”
She pushed her glass away, stacked her fists end-to-end on the table and rested her forehead on the top fist.
“That much I know. He wouldn’t even hold my hand in public. His church, or whatever it was, said it was a sin to be
with someone worldly. Anyone not in this church-thing was worldly.”
“Asshole.”
“Yeah. This is weird.”
“What is?”
“I think Rudy was making my screwdrivers a little weaker than these.”
“What was a churchy-asshole doing as a bartender?”
“It was where he worked.”
“You sure he put anything in your drinks?”
“Maybe not.” Her fists collapsed and her head fell to the tabletop. Everyone’s drinks jumped. “But at least
they were free.”

[
I think I’ll send you a postcard. Cuz I know someday, and someday soon I think, I should explain. A person’s
first time drunk at 22? Pathetic. The whole thing wasn’t tragic or anything, just pathetic, and if I could explain …
It’s just that right now I don’t know what I would explain. Everyone always wants to explain. “Let me explain!”
Don’t they mean justify? Don’t they mean “I didn’t listen to you but now you have to listen to me”? But I’ll send
you a postcard. Maybe I can tell a whole story on postcards. One or two a year. The story of my life (if I ever
have one) since the story of that night.

[
2008, El Centro, California
He’s been a man for a lot of years now. In 1980 a younger one who hadn’t yet acted out of wretched acquiescence
and got himself married to someone else. (Wretched in 1980 was jargon for horny, by 2008 had returned to its original
meaning.)
Spring came in February in the lower California desert. A bird pecked at the windows of his house, sitting on
the sill, tap-tap-tapping, painting the sill with purple shit. Two, three, four different windows, all day, rat-a-tatting.
One morning, Cal was cleaning window screens, because the major form of precipitation here was dust. He also
washed the sills, a job not tacitly included in the screen-cleaning task that had been not-so-tacitly requested of him
(admittedly, when he asked for a chore). But it would have been difficult to ignore the plum-and-black splats of shit
and pretend the duty was complete. The screens were drying propped against the garage door, the windows cranked
open, so the bird achieved its life’s wish. It was finally in the house. And, inside, realized this was not what it wanted
at all.
Cal caught the bird in a sheet, put it in a cardboard box. He drove it 20 miles away, into a state park in the
desert. When he opened the box, the bird, wings somewhat tattered from its hours up against the window glass, flew
instantly, gone in a fluttering second, the force of its departure knocking the box out of Cal’s hand. Gone so fast he
barely could follow the directional line of flight. But thought, perhaps, it was—by accident, just fluke—the route
back to town.
Later, the screens back in place, the windows shut, the bird returned, tapping, not knowing why it so
fixatedly wanted this thing it wanted, this thing that has frayed its feathers and bewildered its instinct, this thing that
upon achieving led to imprisonment, darkness, and miles of flight, only to return and want it again.
He looked it up. It was a male brown-headed cowbird. Instead of spending its time with a mate, building a
nest and making hundreds of trips back and forth with bugs to stuff down the pre-fledglings’ throats, the male
cowbird had time to spend pecking at windows because the female, producing up to a dozen eggs a season, laid them
into the nests of other, usually smaller, birds. Industrious sparrows, dove, towhees, catbirds. The cowbird hatchlings
grew faster, frequently crowded the bio-kids out of the nest and occupied the step-parents’ time and resources. Why
wasn’t it the duped, dutiful sparrow or dove pecking with aberrant wretchedness at his window?
In the extra room where his step-daughter, and later step-grandson, used to sleep, Cal got his saxophone out,
sat on the bed fingering the keys, but didn’t put the mouthpiece between his lips.

[
Yeah, I’ll send a postcard, everything out in the open, even the mailman can read it. Nothing to hide. I was a
silly messy stew and slopped it over onto you. (Dang, could I write the whole thing as poetry like that?) I actually
think you probably won’t even remember. We were stupid kids. Weren’t you kind of blitzed too?

March 1, 1980, San Diego


“Well …,” he said, looking into his glass, like maybe some black-and-white guy in a movie, or a vodka ad, “free
drinks are good, but being strong enough … that makes all the difference.” His hand, his left hand, was on the table
between them. When had she sat up again? He only knew the warmth, the buzz, the jump of energy, the neon, the
flash of heat into his gut, and lower, when she put her hand on his. It was a feeling that said he needed to be, and
could be, even would be more than he was, if he was with her.
“I know, Cal. I know how you feel. See, once I was waiting for him in the bar’s entry, after his shift, and he
came out and put his hand on the back of my neck, under my hair ...”
“Like this?” Cal slid his hand up her neck.
“No.” She went even more limp. “But that feels good.”
He stroked her neck. It felt so thin. Then slid his hand around to the other side of her face, used both hands
to turn her so he could kiss her. She leaned against him. He lowered one of her straps and groaned as he pressed his
open mouth on her shoulder. His mouth moved up her neck, buzzing against her when he said, “I shouldn’t be
doing this. Why am I?” Then she opened her mouth as he kissed her again. He hoped the beer had washed most of
the cigarette taste from his mouth. His hands slid over her shoulders and down her arms.
“Good question. And why aren’t I minding?” she laughed, holding onto the table with one arm as he was
pulling her closer. “It must be the booze,” she gasped, maybe still laughing, “That’s what Rudy said once when ...
things started to ... get going, so to speak. I’d stayed at the bar till he was off, then he had a drink. When he kissed
me, when he unbuttoned my shirt … he blamed the booze. Very flattering … doncha think?”
Cal moaned, his face against her neck, his hands under her blouse, moving up her back. “Oh baby,” he
mouthed her earlobe, “Shut up.” She was warm and soft and supple, but he took his hands out of her blouse, held
her head and kissed her again, then kissed her cheek, one eye, and her temple, holding her face next to his.
“But’cha know what?” she said. “I always seem to find guys who give me just the opposite of what I want …
or think I should want.”
His mouth against her ear, he said, not too loud, “I was always ready to give you what he wouldn’t.” He put
his tongue in her ear. She giggled, then shivered.
“But, you didn’t listen, … when you wanted to, I didn’t—” She lifted her chin, her head falling back,
stretching her throat as he kissed it.
He held her neck in both hands, stroked her cheeks with his thumbs. “But I always wanted to. And you
stayed friends with me. Just to torture me? What did you want? Anything?”
“That’s what I dunno.”
They looked at each other. “Maybe now you’ve figured it out?”
“The thing is … it’s something I’m sposta want. And I don’t. Not enough. But maybe—”
He pulled her close again, her chair tilted, almost fell over. Someone was laughing. “Showtime.” That asshole
Marcello. “Save some for later, man.” The other guys were finishing their beers and leaving the table. Cal moaned,
more like a whimper, and stood.

I know one last thing, one last thing I think I know, that waitress, the last time she wanted me to order
something, all I said was something like “Get them to play some Doobies.”
And I was probably laying full out, the top part of my body flat on the table. I know by then the dance
floor was packed, the last set and all they wanted to do was dance … dance the night away … How many
songs have that line anyway, and did you play one of them? Van Halen, Leo Sayer … could your band’s singer
do that disco-mouse voice? How could anyone tell? The girls shrieked and the men shouted out the lyrics. They
stomped their feet and seemed to move faster than the music’s tempo. Many of them dancing with beer mugs in
one hand. So that must mean I had at least one eye opened. The speakers and the dancing feet made the
room rattle so the table actually shook and my head vibrated, along with the ashtray and a few pennies left
scattered near the edge. One fell and rolled away. It seemed to roll slowly, for a long time, in a wavy line ...
maybe it would go straight across the dance floor and out the door, across the parking lot—

[
She sat up when Cal stood behind her chair. “How’re you doing?” He put his hands on her shoulders. The singer
was speaking into the microphone, his voice boomy and incoherent. “C’mon, I asked him to play something with no
horns so we could dance.”
“No ... everyone’ll think I’m here with you.” She turned and leaned against him.

[
Yeah, I know more than just one more thing. There are a few more things. Like your shirt was that slippery
nylon. And a few more things than that. Did I stand on your feet while we danced? I can’t remember touching
the floor. No, it’s not one of those you-lifted-me-off-my-feet moments. Just that how could I have been dancing?
Cuz it’s not something I do, or ever did. You were strong and solid. And smelled real.
[
The only tune left in the band’s repertoire that didn’t have any horn parts was “After the Lovin’.” It wasn’t even
scheduled in the last set til Cal asked for it. Not that he thought she’d like it (actually he knew damn well what she
would think of it) but it was the only way to get out there with her. The dancing couples stood pressed together,
rocking back and forth. Cal held onto her wrist and tightened one arm around her shoulders, working his way to a
clear spot on the dance floor, right below the stage. The loudest part of the song was the bass. She practically stood
on Cal’s feet and held onto him while he did all the dancing.
“Our parents would like this song,” she said into his shirt. “Get a new band.” Her head, her face, came only to
the middle of his chest. “You’re better than this.”
His arms tightened. “Nothing’s better than this.”
“No, this band, it sucks. You should be playing, I dunno, with what’s’s’name … Maynard … Mangione …
who is it you like so much?”
“Yeah … Basie hasn’t called me yet.” One of his hands pressed her head against his chest. “Right now that’s
okay.”

That last chord … a long shimmering out-of-tune noise. And yet people clapped. You were moaning and
groaning—or muttering—you said something, but I couldn’t hear it cuz another song started. Did I fall down
when you let go of me? Cuz you suddenly jumped onto the stage. What did I do? Maybe that one was the last
song, or else it took me an awful long time to get off the dance floor and back to the table, cuz why do I
remember that by the time I got there, the trumpet guy was already sitting on his instrument case drinking a
beer, the drummer lighting a cigarette, and silly you standing there holding my purse, looking around, your eyes
watery blue.

She walked, or staggered, into his embrace. “I was afraid you’d gone home with someone else,” he murmured.
“Don’t remind me what a failure I am. A big zero. An X-ed out name on the living-it-up roster.” Her words
muffled but hot against his shoulder.
He picked up his case but kept one arm around her, heading for the exit, then he put his mouth against her
head and mumbled into her hair, “What should we do about this?”
“This?”
“You know, what’re we gonna do now?” He opened the door and the air was surprisingly cool. The breeze
was slightly salty and a low fog was drifting in from the coast.
They stopped at the car. “Now?” she said. “Now …? I guess we go home … and on with our plans ... you
know, for our booming-with-potential lives. Becoming a famous sax player for you … For me … a dork at a desk.”
He was listening, but his mind flying … not that far ahead, just to the next minute, or hour, or tomorrow. He
unlocked her door then hurried around the back of the car, and he’d gotten into his seat by the time she sort of
crumpled into hers. As soon as she was there, he tried to gather her in his arms, pulling her halfway across the stick
shift, kissing her throat, her ears, her mouth. She relaxed, sighed, parted her lips, closed her eyes. He could feel a
hum from her throat buzz against his mouth. Wasn’t everything exactly right, exactly in-tune, in rhythm, in sync,
mellow and harmonious, sweet and rich and overflowing yet still swelling … shouldn’t he have just left it the fuck
alone? But no, then he did it, popped it, broke it, ruined it … he should’ve kicked his own damn reckless ass for
always having to blabbidy-bab everything …
He spoke against the side of her head, into her hair, “How’s this for a plan… why don’t we move somewhere
else. There’s this jazz combo that wants to add me, out in the desert. I could get some other job too. You can do
anything you want. You can have a dog, two dogs, however many dogs ... we would ... it could be … Oh damn, it’s
what my life should be …” He lifted her over the stick shift into his lap, his face buried against her neck, his voice
refusing to shut up. “Oh god, I love you, I love ... I’ve always loved you.” His hands and arms were shaking. “Let’s
go away together and start over, forget everything else, we could be anything, do anything—oh please, I’ve wanted to
ever since … I love you ....”

You even thought to add the dogs … Don’t think I didn’t notice.
Okay, yes, I remember the other parts too, what you said ... I hope you didn’t mean you couldn’t
succeed without me. That’s absurd.
I don’t remember if I bumped my head on your car’s ceiling, but it felt like it when I sat up—suddenly
enough to make my brain spin even more. But, spinning, how the hell was I able to notice my feet, in sandals,
with my toenails painted pink? When had I done that, and why? I’d never done it before, and won’t again.

[
She rose, straddling the gearshift. Then moved back to the passenger seat. “Let’s go home.”
“Wha’s wrong? You feeling sick?”
“No. Yes. I dunno.”
“Hey, wha’s wrong? Did I do something wrong?”
She sighed. “You should join that jazz combo. You’re better than this shit.”
“But what about …”
“Lemme go home and wake up yesterday so I can … I dunno … change my mind?”
In the next silence, the car began to feel too warm. “About what?”
“I dunno. Something, everything…what I thought I wuz doing …”
“You mean … that’s it?”
She didn’t look up, didn’t move except to clench her toes, her voice steady enough but suddenly soft, and not
as slurred. “No one ever said stuff like that to me. Not even you, way back when … Why can’t I … Why couldn’t we
be meeting for the first time right now … tonight … What I mean … Why can’t this be the first time I ever saw you?
Cuz you might be—” Sweat trickled down her temples. “Dang. Let’s just go.”
What was she going to say he might be? The answer? while Cal drove she had her feet pulled up, her arms
wrapped around her shins and her forehead on her knees. Several times he almost reached to touch her, then pulled
back. Would it have made a difference? He eased up to the curb a few doors down from her apartment, then did
reach for her while he shifted to neutral. But despite having remained motionless the whole way there, by the time
the parking break rasped, she already had the door open and was halfway out. He was wrestling with his seatbelt, but
when the fuck had he even decided to strap himself down?
Not yet all the way out of the car, she hesitated, looked back at him. “See ya.”
“Wait, can’t I come in? I won’t ... Please, can’t I just come in and stay ...? I’ll just hold you, I promise.” He
caught her wrist. He was lying sideways across the gearshift halfway into the passenger seat, still holding her wrist,
and she was on the curb. He couldn’t see her face. Then she yanked her hand away.

I’d never seen my neighborhood when it was that quiet. I hadn’t lived there long before that night. That kind of
quiet, it amplified the sound of my footsteps, made it sound like I was hurrying down the sidewalk. Maybe I was.
Maybe I should admit I was. And I could hear you getting out of the car, slamming the door, and then behind me
saying, “Please ... please ....”
But I didn’t turn around until my door was unlocked and I was inside. You were still on the porch.
Nothing between us but a half-closed door. That’s when. Yes, I saw it. Your disco pants making it more explicit.
And I’d never seen an erection before. Not even that time when we were 16. But … it didn’t make me feel
anything. As the door closed a little more, you leaned against the jamb. I know it seemed that the door lingered
still partway open for a moment, or more than that.

September 2009, El Centro, California


When the cops got there, they found the TV room furniture a little askew with dirty dishes and food scattered on the
carpet. In the kitchen, carnage of the turkey was strewn on the floor, with more dishes, even one of the crystal
goblets—from broken to chipped to downright rubble—and the poultry-knife standing upright, its point buried in
the wooden serving platter. They also found Cal on the front lawn, locked out of the house. The officers, male and
female, took turns, one inside, one outside, asking the same questions. “Are you okay? Are you hurt anywhere? Do
you want her arrested?”
Yes, no, and no.
“How’d she get a 200 pound man out the door against his will?”
“I didn’t fight back.”
“Good idea.”
“Yeah, I just went the direction she was pushing me. I knew she’d calm down.”
“What was the fight about, sir?”
“I won’t send any more money to the … kids.”
“You can decide not to press charges, but if it got worse, you can’t stop us from arresting her.”
“It was just food, and … I moved my horns down to the shop.”
The cops, of course, didn’t understand that.
He walked around the block, 8 p.m., temperature still in the 90s. When he got home, the kitchen was
cleaned, the garbage taken out to the cans at the side of the house. Virginia was making ice cream sundaes with root
beer.
“A mother’s instinct is fierce,” she said, “but I don’t mean the things I called you.”
“Yeah.”
[

I said I’m sorry, didn’t I? If not, I meant to. Before I shut the door.

[
March 2, 1980, San Diego
She was sunbathing before noon on the courtyard, a textbook over her eyes. How long had she been outside? He’d
called at eight, let it ring ten or fifteen times. Same thing at nine, and again around ten. He cleared his throat before
he was within twenty feet of her. She didn’t move. His heartbeat was as thick as his throat when he swallowed.
“Imagine meeting you here,” she said from underneath the book, and he cleared his throat again.
“I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
She sat up and reached for her robe. “I wasn’t that drunk.”
He was staring at her flowerboxes. Or trying to. “Oh.” He rolled a pebble under his foot. He was wearing
white tennis shoes. “But maybe I was drunker than I thought.”
“Oh?” She moved into the shade after tying her robe around her waist.
“Yeah.” His whisper was raspy.
It would have been a quiet morning, except the birds, lots of them, squawking, screaming and singing.
“But don’t worry about it or think that we can’t even be friends anymore,” he said, “… ‘cause … I didn’t
mean it.”
“Didn’t mean what?”
He could see that she shivered. The shade was considerably cooler than the sunshine.
“You know.”
He put his fists in the pockets of his jeans. Their eyes only touched once, then they looked away again.

And before I was ready to send the first postcard, you beat me to the whole get-on-with-your-life thing. Maybe
I’m still not ready, but I’ll give it a try.

[
Fall 2019
Christina Strigas

Amuse Me

As he entered my mouth
I drenched in his need

his wit and humor


groan across my nipples

evoking heat
a warmth of childhood;

darkness long forgotten,


rise another realm

my lips to let him sit.


Enter my pores gradually

detach from the dirt.


Desperation is in the room

dirty wordplay
inching down my inviting throat,

touching my unbeautiful belly,


grotesque thighs

letting him get his money


off my old skin, my rent is due.
Appointment

Talk to dead ghosts.


forget doctor appointments,
today is always Death.

everyday reaps new novels


of reason, to hold our sun closer—
Death anniversaries are the hardest to celebrate

Wandering women like us


Laugh and cry at the same start

I am
writing your story, I am every man too.
I am every woman contemplating death.
How to kill her husband.
How to kill herself and survive.
bring me another doctor death,
I will serve him with poems
show him how I never tried to die—
only in poetry.

I will tell tender-hearted women,


Let go of stifled binary inhibition
Let go of this image of men so distasteful
Swish them in your mouth

Spit them out.


Cut them out into words,
Prop them out.
Instill your thoughts

I am right here for you,


holding onto doctor life,
making all the dead ghosts coffee.
Yiayia Maria

She taught me how to love


raised us in a tiny apartment
while my parents worked
five grandchildren in her arms.

my love of nature because of her


plantings,
my first cup of Greek coffee from her hands,
stir, wait for the froth,
lift the briki (pot)
ena, duo,
pour in tiny cup.
Never forget the glass of water.

Her attitude
snarky,
mocking my choice of men
my eccentric clothes,
sarcasm, her music.

afterlife will flow better now—


plan the rapid conception of midnight.

if you want your grandmother to pursue you,


after death
have a daughter,
bring air to her breath.

hospital air is lovely when


you see your child for the first time—
five-forty a.m., I created life
one push for twenty minutes
no epidural, a natural birth.
Maria, was born,
reborn,
born again
her tiny head resting on my skin,
like a kitten.
I lay there breastfeeding
breathing
caressing her baby skin
smelling her,
touching her dark full head of hair,

now I lay all day


giving milk,
sleeping, eating, sleeping, producing milk.

looking at the clock


missing the funeral.

You were supposed to be named Maria, after me,


there are already two Christina Strigas’s
in Greece.

Don’t worry, Yiayia, when I have a daughter


I will name her Maria.

It’s odd, but Greg’s parents


were named John and Maria
so are our children.

My promise at ten years old


came true, like the words I uttered.

Maria, my dreaming daughter,


I hope you have her spunk.

I gave birth, Yiayia died.


Two days apart, in life,
ninety years apart, in birth.

Your clothes didn't match,


choking on food and asthma attacks.
not missing one wise-ass comment.
she was always right,
but oh, how she loved us
how she cooked lentils for us
how she stood up for us
how she laughed with us
how she cried when cousin John died
how tough of a woman she was
always standing up for herself
never backing down from men—

and that’s what I liked best about her.


what I hated dearly,
memorial victor and spunk
her hemming of my dresses
making Prince outfits out of velvet curtains

she never denied my creativity


she taught me to be stronger than any man

that she passed down to my daughter,


Maria.
I don’t know how she did it
but she did.
Fall 2019
Christopher Brownsword

BRIGHTENING ON ALL

Fell but each from raised, the colours moored


along horizon ran down mote. The dust
on ground raked from air this flaring to vibrant
feathers dissolving into mirror. I rush towards

sunset, the foliage wavering and pressing


into sky had wandered into this from swerved

around below, the river tasting of ash.


Insects feed hands then fled my own that were

to stream faded. As swarm among the lakes,


the branches ribboned and leaking into

threshold. I abandon gravel where trees distant.


Encased as yellow outcrop release through gradient
to reach a fever-point was brightening on all my
body screeching and every nerve now light, the pulse

within turning lay engorged


to shed pelt on leaves.
HYBRID

Enlarge talons between plumage as dust


swirled around me the debris viewed through
unvarying light, a deep calm which enters

where dark settling my shape on floor my


hands did stream towards nettles (yet reflected
upon sandy ground). Lean against from

meadow rooting through fissured concrete.


Wandering, I gaze at the river, the surface
bright and filmed with pollen. For without into these

did once or ever where garden throws scent


along corridor did ever now I tread uneven soil: the sky
angled into threshold, the sun vivid among foliage

Perimeter as sudden rusting does hold claw though


into arms divided I held restless not guiding particles, my nerves
glowing around the centre as if risen from some warm
open sea, these never to abandon yet shone in magnolia

now over grass fed mayflies (their wings a distant hum


where field enclosed by water). The tide risen. The city a single point
of light. My skin bound in place with tulips. Sprung closer, the

rhododendrons inflamed within arbours


only had been
with thousands of poplars forming
river calm. Shall give flow

to palisade between my fingers an unvaried spectrum


by these seem narrow tract among all swarming conduits.
FERAL STRAIN

Severed within by affray,


torn shadows pooling as if themselves
behind or yield as would flourish.

Sunlight hissing in the branches.


Ferns crowding into flesh. My bloodstream
seeks horizon. Swayed moment at pace

across or fasten against as ever far


between the skyline and water-meadow bleached
with light (an ornamental tapestry

surrounding then enfolding). Lean against or into


where darkness sprung from every corner
as if covers now yet seemed more gentle I

taste the air unsettled


and released to ebb.
LARVA

The sun-debris of fringes to begin or end


from any closer did wings shed pollen without
array streamed into graze or glints to fasten
a distance between as skyline folds over me.

Within foaming with restless flow in skin


the field a heavy light now glowing as fuses. I kneel
between the trees on sandy ground where poppies

open can still feel grass


feeding through or away

as ever. The nettles spectral


on all sides gird

the river over angled by these, the willows


divided to reveal a print of muddy clouds grown
silent. Collapse inwards there beyond have

thread with blossom seamed


into dense walls of foliage.
Fall 2019
Charles Holdefer

HERE LIES A MYRIAD

“Hi, I’m Darrel and I’ll be your server. Can I start you off with some fear, honor or

disinformation?”

“Just water for now. We’ll have a look at the menus.”

As soon as he left them, she giggled and lifted the silverware, noticing the weight. “I’ve heard so

much about this place!”

He looked around. “Everyone who works here is a hero. Every last one of them.”

The interior hummed with vibrations from many rooms. She opened her menu. “You know, my

grandfather used to work here.”

“Really? Mine, too!”

Darrel returned and poured ice water. He stood attentively at their side.

“We’ll need a minute.”

He clicked his heels and left them.

“I suppose it was different then,” she said. “Back in the day, pretty much everybody served. It
wasn’t a professional outfit.”

“Well, they might’ve been amateurs but their generation was the greatest.”

“Yes,” she agreed. “The greatest.”

They fell silent as they perused the listings. It was hard to know where to begin. They’d heard the

portions at this place were huge, but it seemed indelicate to say so. A busboy’s cart whizzed by so fast

that it made a sonic boom. Startled, they looked up, and Darrel stepped forward.

“May I take your orders?”

They weren’t ready but he was poised and they felt obliged to tell him something. She quickly ran

her finger down the menu. “I’ll go with one of your specials. How about the psych ops?”

“Very good. It comes with cyber.”

“That would be very nice, thank you.”

Darrel turned. “And you, sir?”

“I’m sort of hesitating between a naval destroyer and the infantry.”

Darrel leaned forward. “In that case, if you look a little further down, you’ll see we offer surf and

turf.”

“Right. I’ll try that.”

“Might I suggest a starter of air strikes, to soften up your target?”

“Perfect!”

They were relieved when he left them—their decisions had been made—but in truth they weren’t

sure what to expect.

“Funny,” he said. “You hear so much about this place but I’ve never seen it up close.”
“I’d like to know what really goes on in the kitchen.”

“Well, they have the latest equipment, the best in the world. That’s what they say.”

She leaned forward. “Don’t you sometimes wonder how they treat their employees?”

“Darrel seems all right.”

“True.” She looked at nearby tables where birds circled overhead, and she observed the female

servers. “You have to admit, there’s more diversity than at our workplace.”

He nodded. Although he hadn’t said it aloud, he’d noticed how Darrel was polite and well-spoken.

Not a single grammar mistake.

For a moment they fiddled with the napkins on their laps, sharing identical thoughts: no way

would they choose to work here. It was hard even to imagine. Maybe as a chef in the kitchen—that could

be interesting—but it wasn’t an entry-level position and you would have to work your way up the ranks,

which was tedious, all that travel and low pay, no thanks. This place might have nice tablecloths but

behind it all was something unmistakably grubby. Real success waited elsewhere. Might as well leave

this place to the folks who didn’t know how to do better.

“I wonder,” he offered slowly, “how many people here will get into substance abuse. Just saying.”

“Tell me about it. Spousal abuse, too.”

They nodded.

“That surely accounts for the divorce statistics. Off the charts!”

“And the children? Now that’s harder to quantify, the price of unhappy, screwed-up kids, but the

social cost is enormous.”

“But everybody ends up paying for it. We’re paying for it.”
“Oh hell yes.”

“Word.”

They nodded.

Now she blurted: “Homelessness.”

“Prisons!” he countered.

“Suicides!”

He hesitated, groping for another example to hold up his end of the dinner conversation. He cast

his eyes around the room. Then it came to him.

“Some things,” he murmured, “aren’t on the menu. I heard that in season they do torture.”

She frowned and looked away. Instantly he regretted his words. Had he gone too far? Was that

subject still supposed to be unmentionable? And then—oh my, what bad timing—a server in dress

whites glided by, balancing a platter of purple hearts and scarred minds.

“Understand me,” he added, “I mean no disrespect to all the good apples.”

“Of course not.”

There was another silence, readjusting their napkins while once more their thoughts were

identical: images of tombstones like teeth protruding from immaculate green grounds and darting eyes

of amputees and the intubated and the noseless and skin-grafted who watched the light change in the

windows while waiting for visitors who didn’t come, imploring: Will you change my diaper? Where is

my morphine? Will someone come and change my diaper? Where are you? Why am I alone? What does

it mean?

“Freshen that up for you?”


Darrel refilled their glasses, ice-cubes clinking.

They wished he wouldn’t hover. Where were their orders? Damn, the kitchen was slow. And in

Darrel’s manner was something they hadn’t noticed before, a weariness, or maybe an exasperation, as if

he didn’t like them.

But that was unfair. Why, he didn’t even know them!

“We need to talk,” she said softly.

He turned to Darrel. “Could you leave us for a minute?”

“Is there nothing else I can get you?”

“No. Thank you for your service.”


Fall 2019
Charles Borkhuis

ANIMAL IN EXILE

after a hard day at the zoo


you may end up

staring through the bars


at a curious ape in exile

and when eyes meet


you might laughingly mistake him

for the talking animal


who has a few words for you

or is he just a remnant
of your prehistoric past

that will one day emerge


as the absent-minded

domesticated you
searching for the remote in the dark

the cozy you


little more than a character

out of a comedy of errors


sprawled out on a couch
watching a laugh-track sit com
while the family dog

that repository of the foreign


and forgotten puts a paw

on your shoulder growls


and nudges you to slide over
FINAL ON FRIDAY

today’s class is on the sublime


and the ridiculous

rule one - you are not allowed the sublime


rule two - you can have some ridiculous

many’s the time a sublime alchemist


has tried to forge one from the other
and ended up with fool’s gold

of course purists will argue that the material


cannot birth the spiritual
or visa versa

and even derrida had to admit


he couldn’t deconstruct a fart

say you what every buddhist knows


there’s always a little ying in your yang
if only a memory

einstein who bent matter and energy


into a pretzel said he was religious
but maybe he was just covering his bets

perhaps no one has ever actually counted


the angels on the head of a pin
or how many neurons it takes
to screw in a thought

or for that matter how nothing


comes from something
or visa versa
ah the old paradoxes
go now I think you are ready
ONCE AGAIN

what’s dropped wants nothing more


than to escape by any means necessary
to bounce then crawl under a couch or chair
to be left alone bereft of human hands
to lose itself and be passed over
invisible as a child at play
under the dining room table

as though it were there all along


but unseen free to drift between words
and their morsel of meanings
to wander between the elder’s legs
through underground tunnels
and dark passageways that connect
one world to another

so one may travel while barely moving


from the path of the toy soldier on the rug
to the rug itself with its curious mauve
cross stitching of thoughts and things
like laces pulled through shadowy shoes
but nothing or no one escapes for long
lost only to be found again by a future stranger
who picks up an old coin and wonders
how long was it there before it found her
BIT PART

who was that sweet lolly in the dark


come to nipple raise me
an octave or two
then tie my sentences in knots

I’m your jack


pumping up the back of your lamborghini
bit out of season still
I can tell a come on from a walk on

I play mostly to the curtains


and the mirror now
different times of the day different strategies
for rehearing your afterglow

reality comes in stages


one must act it out as if a word here
a leg there makes all the difference
tricked up and wound ‘round an embrace

disappearance in a mood swing a phrase


that sticks in the heart and vibrates
like a plastic spoon in jello
where are you now where have you ever been

one loses one’s skin and takes on another


for the demands of the role
in which you play the wife cheating
on her lover with her husband touché

one eats the bridal flowers like a horse


and spanks the bishop for his indiscretions
one burns at the stake for stuttering
and licks the flames as if they were a hole in the wall

through which an insect crawls


you’re the insect the consummate actress
who’s escaped detection I’m an escape artist too
in love with your feral dislocations
PRE-FLIGHT INSTRUCTIONS

why push a pen across oblivion


whose giant ear is listening in

what kind of joke who’s dreaming


this story I’ve become

what’s left when the void


has been breathed in

and you feel yourself


collecting in the corner

with the dead skin and hair


to reflect upon the sweating glue

and feel the flowery paper


peel off a hotel wall

or hear the syncopated drip


of rain through a sewer grating

words dribble forth


I hear you as I speak

clocks tick me past memory


no more than a spreading cloud

an endless story
cut short by a stray bullet

shot skyward that must eventually


land somewhere
Fall 2019
Charlene Pierce

Freedom

Flock
and rise as one.
A chorus of wings breathe
the sound with diastolic release
and soar.
Breath of Life

Fragmented, scattered
like dust hidden
in the corners, coating the spaces
of unreachable places,
the joy we once knew.

My life,
your life,
cupped in His palm
like seeds of dandelions.
He breathes His life into us
and we fly like dust,
we fall like rain
to begin a life
once shattered
now new.
Fall 2019
Candice M. Kelsey

Life Is

a seven-mile stretch
of coastal road
in Carlsbad
California
North County
offering order
& form to the chaos
a gesture
of negotiable lines
paved sketch
astride
the ocean’s face
a reminder
as we drive
at any moment we could
become one
with vastness
the wine-dark voice
of sirens
this
grassy slight inland
village
calls us away
from curiosity
for pilgrim mercies
know
we will seize
the eastward road
toward
predictability
safety & land
never
turning west
toward the wild
terrifyingly
wild salt spray risk
smudged
sand-lick vignette
fools
we trust this coastal road
we miss
the billows we
miss
the beauty.
Of Your Flesh

When a glass of ice water


is more love than mother’s eyes/cold as Taiz
she who has become ruffled
shadow-pattern slipping around corners and hallways.

Who’s there?
Is that you? Don’t take the child:

The airport’s noise tonight like


distant roars (some final curse) from lions
left to starve in Yemenite zoos,
fresh complement to the rain

tonight’s rain which mimics


my lifetime of heart beats
now puddling by the sliding/glass/door
as if to caution ghosts are gathering

ghosts are being released.

Can you accommodate us?


We can sleep on closet floorsor a single eyelash.
Our touch like urushiol rash.

Mother wrote her letter


but circumcised the bottom third: scissor/frenzy
inflection before
mailing. Just so

I know she wants to say more


You/rotten/child/insultme/goodbye
______ A lot more. Maybe that’s why

I use my own teeth (nervous habit)


to open this tongue,
the red release so nice so warm across the bone
an ivory birth
sliding/slipping
a series of drops from the rabbit’s ear
into my own magician’s hat.
Accubitus*

The word
sounds like a rare
Saxon virus
or some cabbalistic
chant

but tonight
in a quiet house
nine years of marriage –
our marriage
finds

accubitus
in a four-poster bed

headboard like an A
for two Cs
one beside the other
tucked under
a cool cotton U

quilted covering
thick B
wilted wedding gift

I stack pillows
like stones
perfect crucifix T
wall

and watch
the lexicon pages flip
to the failure
of US.

*accubitus (noun) the state of lying next to another in bed without touching (Coxe’s Medical Dictionary, 1817)
Requiem for an Average Woman
after Marge Piercy

This average woman was living as usual


and given jobs that paid,
dinners, trips to glittering cities,
and promises the size of ancient temples.
Then, in the twilight of middle age,
her husband said:

You have wrinkling skin and a drooping belly.

She was well respected, considered a talent,


displayed acuity in thought and action,
not without a large heart and sexual drive.
She woke up and went to bed ashamed.

Everyone knew she wrinkled and drooped.

She was encouraged to be patient


and pray, instructed to be active
in the community, attend church, count calories,
and smile. Her faith was slowly abraded
like a dust-bowl plateau, and
her marriage became snow.

With a lover’s hands all over her


heavy pit-stone belly,
she realizes she never loved these men.
She loved only what they lavished on her.
She wanted to love herself
but never could.

You are so beautiful, this particular one said.


Fall 2019
Brooke Wilczewski

The Ring.

I am my family family ring.


I am the strong gold, rarely moving from my fixed shape, attempting to not falter,
To not conform solely to what the world wants from me.
I am the neat array of diamonds, six to be exact.
I am the embodiment of their resilience
Of their ability to shine, even in the darkest of times
Despite the state of my person.
I am the intoxicating opaque of its sapphire.
I am the stories of the women that have also stared into its deep sea,
Eyes heavy as she slips into its allure.
They share with me their stories, their passion.
I pick their minds for guidance in an attempt to map my future.
Reminding me that I am merely mortal.
I am merely mortal.

One day this ring will be placed on the finger of my daughter


Who will immediately be sucked into the same sea of sapphire
Into the glory of the diamonds
Into the steadfast gold band
Engrossing her, fully.
Forever.
It is as if the ring was waiting for her all along
To guide her and take her in.
Into the power it holds as it carries its incredibly beautiful weight
Of the women in our family that have come before her.
And one day my spirit will join those women that live in the sapphire.
And so will the spirit of my daughter.
Of her daughter.
Of the daughters to come.
Yet, the ring lives on in its glory.
Generation upon generation,
The ring lives on.
Embrace.

The brush of your fingertips on my skin


Leaves the leaves on the earth whirling
Around us.
As the stars in our eyes create constellations
Only we can see.
Together, we become one.
The elements are a blur around us, as we are in the eye of the storm.
Nothing can touch us or hurt us.
Nothung.
This is what I know your touch to be.
Electricity coursing through me,
Roots of the strongest blooming tree,
Grounding me.
Gusts of wind turning us into magnets,
Pushing us together until there is no difference between you and me.
There is just one and the sun.
The glorious ball of warm colors dancing in unison.
Our cells marrying one another over and over and over again.
In school, we would learn how the elements work to create weather
And how weather works to create climate
And we laugh.
We laugh each time we hear that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.
Whatever that means.
But they don’t know us.
They don’t know you.
Or me.
They don’t know that the universe has brought us together
And that we transcend the elements,
The weather,
And the climate.
We create our own.
In this moment,
Now.
The stars in ur eyes creating constellations,
There is enough electricity to power the rest of time.
We are everything
In our own “now”.
Abstract.

You said the movie was boring.


I said it was abstract.
You said my eyes looked wild.
I said I am abstract.
You said the art could never, will never, speak to you.
I said it was abstract.
You said you can’t see the constellations.
I said you aren’t looking closely enough.
You said the waves aren’t speaking to you.
I said you refuse to listen.
You said I speak too loud.
I said I can’t quiet down because you will attempt to drown me if I do.
You said I should have had a salad.
I asked you if that’s what she eats.
You said you hate dogs.
I ignore that sign.
I swore I would never be with a man that hates dogs.

Last night, you picked up your bags.

You threw them into the car that I have learned to love you in.
In every sense of the word.
I see beyond your blatant faults.
I forgive you and drown any desire to run, forgetting the signs.
I just didn’t know I was already drowning myself…
Until after I felt your anger begin to shove me down.
My fighting not even able to bring me to surface.

But the minute you left,


Soon I could move.
Soon I could crawl.
Soon I could walk.
Soon I could jog.
Soon I could run.
Soon I could sprint.

And I will sprint.


I will always remember the last thing you said to me,
Running after you as you stepped into your car.
I asked you what went wrong.
The tears pouring out of my eyes began drowning me.
You said you couldn’t “get” me.
You said you didn’t know me anymore.
At this, my tears dried.
The ocean eyes became deserts.
You better remember what I told you.
I told you to not worry because you would never understand me anyways.
I am just abstract.
Fall 2019
Bijoyini Maya

Hathor

Your honey coloured aura


Travels back to early days of growing up…with aloe vera
Pair of shark eyes injects sense
Into an insensitive mind guarded by fence
Memory tumbles down looking for you
Why didn’t vision find you in adolescence hue?
And now, when here you are
Every particle enflamed by care –
Forests burnt down to the roots
Will the flowing clock stay coot?
Command glass fantasies to solidify!
Hollow words still pretend to signify
So throw! Throw your language at me covered in snow!
Fall 2019
Benjamin Joe

BACK IN BOSTON

The situation was summed up to me in Central California. I was in a bar at the time, sitting at a table
and staring at the walls as they slowly began to close in.
It wasn’t special. The bar was one of those places old natives would reminisce to me about when they
talk of the old-days. I thought about this as the boy continued speaking across from me. I thought about him,
about them, remembering them often telling me how they’d ask the white man for change and gifts by the
doorways of bars, cafes and concert halls. The stories and the places were real, I thought. Solid.
I thought about the boy’s eyes, too. Dark pools. Innocent. Said his name was Tony. He’d come out of
nowhere, popping out of the streets, said he’d found me on the Internet as one of those small-time artists
who worked in the area. When he showed his findings to his mother, she was impressed. He said this
woefully, as if behind a veil of loss.
She told him that if anything went wrong, to find me. I stared at him. His mother, Dawn, was stuck
somewhere or another, I couldn’t get it out of him. He was crying, distraught over something I could only
imagine. Finally, he told me she was in a rehab center on Cape Cod. Often living on the edges of society
she’d found herself desperate for help and turned to her biological family who immediately put her away.
She was about 40 now. The family was looking to adopt her boy, strip her of her rights as a parent. He wasn’t
having it. He’d run to me. He was 16.
I understood. I didn’t have to hear anymore. The long trip stood in front of me as faithfully as a
doorway. I told him everything would be fine, left him at a youth center. Drove east.
As I stopped and started on a well-used highway, I thought of all the things I didn’t know. About him.
About his mother. The situation that I never knew to be possible. Through the desert, through the towering
Rockies to the endless miles of valleys with their low-rising houses, and mammoth barns, catatonically
standing in an endless horizon, then into Appalachia and New England with its to sheer rock passes carved
by the dynamite that was used to ever expand our influence westward. I thought about what monsters we
were to this beautiful land as we piled our hopes and dreams onto someone else’s home. I Facebooked each
rest stop for my fans and kept thinking. Really thinking.
After a long time, I got to longer lines of traffic that had been waiting for me as I entered Cape Cod. I
wondered if the tribes in this area were active. Did they approved of the Kennedys burying their dead on
these beaches?
I got to the rehabilitation center by the midmorning. Got up out of the car and walked to the double-
doors. I signed in on the clipboard and was led into a room. Dawn had on hospital scrubs and a look of
disgust on her face.
“Hey,” I said. My voice was strained from hollering along to the radio on my drive
“Did you get it? The paternity test?” she asked.
“Well, not yet…”
“Why not?”
“I wanted to hear it from you.” I said the words unconsciously, thinking how little and late they were.
The rummy face of the man on the corner opposite to the bar I frequented came to my mind. He was native,
always trying to tell me to expose my own blood even though I was half-Asian and not the real deal for all
the words he had to say.
“Well, you’ve heard it,” Dawn said, breaking the reverie.
“Can I do anything for you?” I was determined to remain civil, despite my rage. The man’s face
became blurry in my mind as it had so many times in our late-night discussions.
Her face contorted as she coughed into her arm.
“Got any cigarettes?”
I didn’t. She wiped her face with her small hands.
“Well, get back there… they have a phone number you can call… you’ll take him in, won’t you?”
“Is there anything else?” I avoided her eyes.
“No.”
“Really?” I felt like I was leaving with work unfinished. She looked up.
“I don’t need anything from you.” She barely opened her lips.
“Ok.” I could feel the rage between us now, just barely below the surface. Thoughts of old men and
bars and lineages plagued my mind. I didn’t know what to say except that maybe I wasn’t the solution she
supposed me to be. And I couldn’t say that.
“Just find out, ok?”
I nodded then got up to leave. At the desk they gave me a card with a number. I walked back to my
car.
The sun’s rays crossed the parking lot with me and photon after photon pounded into my back. The
pictures of the indigenous peoples flashed before me again. I pondered the fate of an entire race as I
pondered what to do about this boy.
I put the car in reverse and backed out of the parking spot. I didn’t know what to do with this
newfound legacy. The people I thought of had done their best to protect their progeny, the land, their
customs, their children. Well, maybe it was time for me to protect mine, too, I thought.
The sun was in my eyes, but I fought through.
I’ll be the perfect parent, I thought, then pushed the pedal down.
Breakfast in a Ditch:
Closest thing an American gets to a refugee camp

I picked up my bones. Damn tired. Sleeping in a ditch. My partner was already up. I’d begged a sheet off him
to wrap myself in the early dawn and watch the light come over the sky. Not really sleeping, but I needed to
lay down for a moment. We’d gotten a ride only about an hour or two ago. Directly to a Labor Ready.
Apparently, we could work there to get a ticket to Tucson or Hawaii or Montana or where-ever we wanted.
The driver said it himself. He had no pity for those who never worked.

Oh, we’d worked alright. We’d washed dishes and dug trenches and cooked burgers and planted flowers.
Chopped wood, mowed lawns. Once I’d scoured a parking lot for a plate of food.

I’d done all these things and more though, but I’d never felt like I’d spent the whole night with a saw blade in
my ear and a dungeon master flaying my thighs. I could barely speak because my throat was hoarse. I felt as
though I’d been up all-night sniffing cocaine and smoking meth but I couldn’t remember getting high.

I walked over a ridge and wasn’t surprised to see the owner of the sheet kneeled over a campfire that was
pouring smoke out around him. Sprawled out on the outskirts of the fire were men of various ages. Senior
citizens to teenagers. I could see in the morning twilight that they were all dark. Black hair, dark eyes. One of
them was licking what I hoped was a joint but by the way he lit it up and leaned back on his arms, I knew it
was a cigarette.

I walked up and my traveling partner looked to me as I knelt next to him. In front of him and the fire was a
small man saying something I couldn’t hear and shoveling eggs into a tortilla. The two of them were
speaking small bits of English. As my partner muttered something, the man pointed to me.
“Hungry?” He asked my partner who grunted. The man shoved the food into my hands. One of the other
men held a bottle of hot sauce over his head. He said something in another language.

I nodded and as I walked over to him, my partner got out his CD player and he and the cook started to go
through a book of albums. They sat there, huddling over the CDs and the fire.

It was about then that the morning sun came out. I talked to the bearer of the hot sauce. He said his name
was Juan. He told me he’d come to pick vegetables but there was no work.

“Like ‘The Grapes of Wrath?’” I asked. Juan grunted. I don’t think he understood.

“Did you come from Mexico?” I was too tired to really be polite. Juan nodded.

“We came over at Wares,” he told me.

“Do you, um, have a, um, green card?”

By this time the cook and my hitching partner had come over.

“We go to work now,” said the cook. Juan immediately got up and coughed hard. My partner shook the hand
of the cook. I looked at this all quizzically.

“We going, too?” I asked him. He shook his head.

“They don’t need us,” he said.

“Do you need an ID?” I pursued the subject because of reasons I don’t know. The cook intervened.
“No, no,” he said. “You know framing?”

I admitted I did not.

“Oh, well maybe you could clean up?”

“We’ll be ok,” my partner said firmly. I looked at him, then to the cook.

“We’ll be alright.”

“Ok, alright,” said the cook then walked back to the fire.

My partner and I turned towards each other. He grunted. We walked over the ditch to the highway. There
was a red truck parked in front of the empty temp service.

“Alright,” I said. “I guess we can go.”

My partner grunted again and we walked to a nearby bus stop and watched the workers pile into the truck.
The cook was holding a bag with his pots and pan in it. My partner sat heavily on a bench.

“Good thing to get breakfast,” he said. “We don’t need the work. They’re crazy to do that. They’re not being
paid shit.” I looked at him because I was still hungry and wondered where our next meal would come from.
The red truck pulled out and my heart went with them. My partner took out a Newport and offered me one.

“Yeah,” I said. “That was crazy.”


Fall 2019
Avery Strife

I Smell Potatoes

Soft limes tremble above hunting cougars. The accelerator was on full and we flew directly towards the
smell. Heirloom women were there. Not now, but at some point in the distant future. I recognize/smell her.
I have had her before. She will be hen in my house. The nest I built with my sweat and mucus. It is a warm
nest, good for eggs and long winters. Onwards.

We inhaled the scent. John was driving. This was his idea.

I was cleaning my mouth, or really I only said I was to make it seem like I had some reason to let the machine
screen the call. Would I go out? Tonight? I know it’s hard to find a third on a whim, and I didn’t have much
to do. I did have a bottle of green in the cupboard, I’m ready for just about anything. No he didn’t have
anyone in mind, but if I was up for a quick hunt then take anyone, he really said anyone.

Would I bring my bottle and be the third? I’d be the second, wouldn’t I? I asked, knowing that I’d have to be
third. I’m always the third.

So it didn’t turn out to be just anyone. Not the fat one who did say yes. Not the one with the glasses either. I
liked her but John thought she smelled off.
I was half way to the sun when she caught my eye.

John thought she was empty. I knew better.

Here’s what I say: I smelled her about two cycles ago and she was ripe with rot. A deep red rot that grows
only on the highest mountaintops of the east. I love that springtime touch and this was a full lacerating
liquor. It wasn’t blue but something deep violet.

She wore an eye patch and one of her left arms was decorated with a flowing ribbon. It was high fashion
decades ago/a mysterious stance. A hired killer from a comic book, all knives and no skirt.

John got past her wind but I was hooked. I’m fast like that.

I was at one of these parties when I was a kid. The music was hot and the sex was lacerating. This is when I
first met John. We hit several of the same nests and had a similar scent, so it was a first-rate match. We
scammed so many kinds of couples it was lucky we both came out uncontaminated.

Then there was the time we met up with the police.

They made me a third. I didn’t want to, but it was hard to say no. They caught us with a hot bolt and it was
obvious what they wanted. Gave me a shackle and I was out of my mind for weeks.

I stopped hanging with John after that. He was trouble/couldn’t smell well. I could, but I still went along. It
was always my fault.

The red skies were rolled into the unruffled morning.


I pulled the cork on the green and I took a long pull.

I dabbed a bit behind my ear and over my cheeks. I felt that I could float on angel blossoms. We pulled
over and the steam billowed around us. The nightlife cleared a wide berth and we strode unflappable in the
downtown neon. All took notice of us, how could they not? All the heirloom women heard our audacity.

I tipped my hat to all the other thirds that captured my eye.

John spotted her from his lamp post and jumped up it, singing, Ciao Bella. She turned in a glimmer. Her
scented belly beamed at me and she headed straight over. She took my hand and began walking towards
Red’s Falafel stand. Made John pay for her platter and spoon fed me like a lover should. Tonight I was all
hers.

John was second so she talked with him and petted my black head, then chopped up some rocks while John
turned on the stereo.
I’d been in the shelter two weeks ago and now look at me! A new nest, a real friend, and fresh rocks being
churned. Let demons explode!

I hit the green again and began to caress her shell.


She took another drag from her stick and purred. I could feel her wetness. Her pores seeped brown
droplets.

She was an angel, my angel. I was hers. I was the third. John kissed her upper mouth while she sang a sweet
melody. It was going to be alright. All of me melted into her folds. She shook me. My suit was getting
tangled in her legs. I hate these things, but right now tradition and desire resembled each other.
I was robin’s egg blue.
John now twirled around in front of her. She smiled at his agility. She was really getting into this/liquid was
now pouring out of her belly. He danced while she sang. I began to enter her. My suit fit in all the places it
should and she responded with a gentle tug of her legs, eggs and jelly warm on my chest. I thought of
mother, my nose filled with her smell. I let loose and spilled onto her back. Her shell glistened orange/just
seeing her white folds open. She dipped her finger into the glass of green and painted trails on my face. Her
eyes told me everything.

On my eleventh cycle, my father told me that there were two kinds of men in this world. The man I became
I would choose by my actions. Don’t be an aimless wanderer. Those who lack aim get eaten. He told me of
his third, how his suit didn’t fit him correctly, how that was one of the reasons we were so poor. Life is a
series of choices, and if I had purpose in my hikes, all of life would, or could be, food.

“I’ve told you things about fish that I’ve never told anyone else. How to take pliers and pull the skin to
separate the flesh. One quick pull is what it takes to do it right. If not, the filet will rip and then the whole
thing will be worthless. If done right, there will be an underlying flavor of death in each mouthful.”

I wanted to be a second like my father and his father before him, but I have never had the courage to believe
in nothing. The drama and passion is always in our minds, but the energy spent is nothing but an encore to
the sensual aroma of fresh meat. Thinking of the fields of tenderloins growing in the plains make my fangs
salivate. An alarm clock sounded in the background. I was stuck to her now. I could still grind into her
belly. She turned me over. John touched my face. He was beautiful in this light. I smelled potatoes.
Fall 2019
Anushka Joshi

The Two Kinds of Women in The World


On Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and Assia Wevill.

They both died domestic deaths,


The homewrecker and the housewife.
Both with their heads on the cool
Grate of an oven.
A fuck you to the fifties,
That era of aprons like straitjackets,
Aprons that gleamed white
Like carnivorous teeth, that swallowed up
The lives of women,
Ate them as they cooked.
The mistress worked as an ad-writer, came up
With the slogan “Mr. Kipling’s
Exceedingly good cakes,”
The wife made lemon meringue pies,
Would they have killed themselves
If they didn’t know how to turn
On an oven in the first place?

There are two kinds of mothers in the world,


The Sylvias who switch on the gas
But fold a thin blanket under
The kitchen doorsill
So that it won’t poison their children in the next room.
And the Assias, who do not put a blanket under the doorsill,
Who take their children along with them,
Like stray punctuations on their epitaphs.
In their own ways both protected
Their children,
The first from death,
The second from life.
The man with whom
They had lain under that blanket
Or under the absence of that blanket,
Was the poet who broke down women
Like he broke lines,
Who turned to poetry
When he gave up hunting but never
Quite lost the habit of slaughter.
The kind who leaves a woman
With the tumorous instinct for death
Growing in her gut,
Faster than a fetus.
The kind who, even if
He considered suicide, would
Abandon the thought,
Abandon the house,
Abandon the children there,
Go instead for a walk
Or to make a call,
Forgetting to switch off
The gas at all.
The Marriage

Scott and Zelda once spent an hour


In the revolving door of a hotel-
Just another jazz age prank.
Like jumping into the fountain at Union Square.
Later the accusations
The sanatoriums
The burning to death
And the death by drowning
In endless glasses
That reflected too well.
For now the mouth of misery
Was still muzzled.
Can you imagine them
Turning and turning
Echoing the earth in its orbit
Unable to learn but always returning
To where they had been a second ago,
As if retracing their own steps,
Two detectives investigating their own footprints
As if in rehearsal for regret.
The Stare

Yes we all know the story


Of the hero Perseus who
Decapitated the monster Medusa,
She of the hair like snakes, she
Whose one look turned people into
Stone, that one.
But did you know the preface
To that story?
How Medusa was raped
By the sea king in the temple
Of Athena, the goddess of wisdom.
And how the goddess of wisdom
In all her wisdom
Punished Medusa, not Poseidon,
Replacing skin with scales,
Replacing hair with serpents
And replacing her gaze
Which had once melted
Men to lust and love,
To a stare that turned them to stone.
She lived alone on the island
And when she looked at people
They became calcified in their
Callousness, stone
Monuments
To apathy, unable
To feel or care
For this woman,
This monster.
2.

Perseus killed her by


Holding up a mirror to her,
So that she saw herself,
After years of suspecting it,
As others saw her:
Filthy, evil, terrifying.
And she turned herself into stone.
He cut off her head
When she had resigned herself to rock,
Surrendered herself to stillness,
A cement scream, a marble ache,
A slab of pain waiting to be carved
Into oblivion.
He placed the sword on her neck, which had been
Bowed in shame all these years.
The waves that she looked upon in her last glance
Became cliffs in mid-air,
Drops of her blood left pebbles on the beach.
She died, but her stare lived on,
Sowing seeds of stone,
Passing on
The inheritance of indifference.
Tell me, who is the monster
In this?
Fall 2019
Anum Sattar

God Will Hear

Outraged, I shot up your urethral opening my thickest glochid


than tickle your nose with a chartreuse flower on my areole.

And there was I, cast out of this moth eaten tent;


holding onto whatever is left to save my aching heart...

NB: “God Will Hear” is an English translation of the Hebrew name Ishmael. Ishmael was the only son of Abraham and
his concubine, Hagar. The poem is written from Hagar’s point of view on how bitter she was when she and her child
were unjustly kicked out of their tribe by Abraham.
“stay away”
cautioning the new girlfriend
after all my ex put me through
only to envy each moment
they spent together
sweet mandarin orange slices
seasoned with salt

NB: Kural is a Tamil couplet form where two contrasting images are placed together. Written in English, kural is free
of rhyme and metre. The first line consists of four words and the second line consists of three words. So then that is
seven words altogether.
watching BBC food shows
to delay cooking
sponging dead body —
the sight of his erection
behind linen cloth
Fall 2019
Anne Gorrick

[Poseidon]: Just Another Beach Bar

…because their hooves make a moon-shaped mark…. (p. 62)


The Greek Myths: 1 by Robert Graves

Three gods divided up creation / protector of all aquatic features / He is also referred as the god of horses / has
some anger management issues / Sometimes he is super placid and calm, but other times he is an angry and
vengeful / father to some of the most famous monsters in history / Earthshaker must be studied in some detail /
god of violent, unpredictable movement / As the world continues to grow more and more dependent on electronic
devices, products like the Dark Energy Poseidon are able to prove their worth / Poseidon is a joint venture
between CNES and NASA that measured ocean surface topography to an accuracy of 4.2 cm / Poseidon is Talking
to You remix on Scratch by cutandpaste / Poseidon is alive and destroying water parks in Wisconsin / Another
beach bar / Poseidon is just around the corner / Wake of Poseidon is a manufacturer of punk influenced power
rock hailing from the hard knock streets / We bring the rock that disables the elderly and makes children cry /
Looking instantly recognizable, the Mercedes G63 AMG by Poseidon isn't particularly different from before / This
is just homework so i dont care if you dont like it dear reader ( but i do care if the reader is my teacher)

An undersea resort on Fiji


The Hotel Positano
Restaurant on Hilton Head Island
and asset management
Childhood crimes
Desalination plant in Carlsbad
Dive gear, energy turbine fallout 4
Jetstream regulators exploded view
Jetstream octopus
Kurt Russell as Poseidon
Missile patch
Greek letters, nickels in Newfoundland
Oral irrigator, pool parts, quad coil
His scuba stories are systems aswim with symbols
Theophane unisuit drysuit
Water stock symbol
Yellow and black dive watch
Mechanical gaming keyboard

Poseidon is a little bit scared / Summer Vacation · After Sunset · Reading / Something about all that talk /
('Poseidon') is a proprietary crude oil pipeline system that was built in response to increased demand for additional
fuel / Nobody gets to decide whether to accept the mission in "Poseidon" or not; that's one of the many attractions
of this excellently undemanding, swimmingly enjoyable remake of that perfectly glugging 1972 uh-oh classic / The
Stril Poseidon is primarily a rescue craft but can also provide rapid oil spill response and emergency towing / How
did that inflatable life raft just happen to be there when the survivors emerged from the propeller shaft? / Poseidon
is a smaller meeting room suitable for up to 15 max. / Suitable for: Board meeting / VIP Lounge / Dressing room

Angry with Odysseus


Cast in 1972
Father of what gay myth?
His fighting style
Kairos
Real Navy
Poseidon Thermal Gardens in Ischia
We are swimming to Richmond
trolling flies
He often called the Earth what?
His bad temper
swallowed by
how tall?
Waste water skimmer

What is the philosophy and manifesto behind Poseidon Asset Management, the pioneer cannabis hedge fund? /
The only sentient member of the team, it is his consciousness alone which controls the giant combiner /
POSEIDON is DNV GL's computer based structural design and analysis tool for shipyards, design offices, owners
and operators / The P-8A Poseidon is designed to secure the Navy's future in long-range maritime patrol capability
/ Anyone managed to kill Poseidon (the final boss after wave 20)? / Hi, what happened with Poseidon? / He was a
strong character, but after the last update he is so weak he can't do anything in matches / Or is it only an error in
my game?
[Demeter]: wasps in a wheatwet garden

…for having three times dared to plough the field and couple with the corn-priestess. (p. 94)
The Greek Myths: 1 by Robert Graves

Amps allude to
biodynamic birth bass amps
A background story/information
and its biographical bread
A compulator pro = Demeter amplification
This fragrance library
smells like the dirt in Deutschland
an electric Nazarath Eleusis
in bitter grapefruit peel
Harvest husband, horse history, holy smoke
Demeter as an international image
in an isolation cabinet
in jasmine, lily of the valley

The Demeter programmers wrote up their experiences in a paper called Object-Oriented Programming: An
Objective Sense of Style / She appears in Linear A as da-ma-te on three documents / both largest and oldest / She
taught mankind the art of sowing and ploughing so they could end their nomadic existence / the goddess of
planned society / Sacred Animals: Pigs and Snakes were also symbols / her chariot pulled by two winged serpents /
Demeter climbs to the top in the new edition of “Brands of the Century - Stars 2016” / the bringer of seasons and
giver of gifts / She did not inherit her authority nor was it given to her freely / Her cult particularly flourished in
the regions where grain was grown / An invariant aspartic acid in the DNA glycosylase domain of DEMETER is
necessary for transcriptional activation of the imprinted MEDEA gene / The holy goddess with the beautiful hair /
We are the non-profit American chapter of Demeter International, the world's only certifier of Biodynamic� farms
and products / Demeters Steakhouse: Demeter's is a fantastic choice! / She and Dionysus were considered
mankind's best friends

Laundromat, millwork Chicago, mighty Minnie


nursed an infant at a nail polish official site
Orchid collection, opto, orange blossom
She has an organic certification
Reverbulator reverb
Ravel in the tavern of childhood
Tremulator, tremolo, thunderstorm
The US is an ultra underworld
an uver drivulator
She uses her powers for good
optical compressor
underwater breath holding
Vein solution, vetiver, vanilla

("mother-goddess" or perhaps "distribution-mother") / The Law of Demeter is not a dot- counting exercise / 1.
Demeter is the goddess of (a) the moon (b) night (c) grain (d) rivers / "Only talk to your immediate friends" is the
motto / Each unit should have limited knowledge about other units: only units "closely" related to the current unit
/ Or: Each unit should only talk to its friends / Don't talk to strangers / She is isolated on black background / a
stock photo / The Demeter is en route to the @EtceteraTheatre for the appropriately named Black Box Festival /
The examples of containers such as arrays aren't really violations of Demeter which Demeter refers to as
"Repetition" objects / In both cases I am eventually accessing "width” / She is well-known for its single-note scents
-- great if you're obsessed with specific smells, such as Gin & Tonic / I imagine a haystack where the code is
desperately trying to locate the needle

Wasps in a wheatwet garden


the wicca in wine, her weapon of choice
Her yelp, it’s Giants vs. Eagles
zombie for her, zombie for him
Owned by whom?
Both green and bold
a bridal Homewood, AL barbeque
Chesterfield, Chicago Heights, Catonsville, Covington
function as parking lots
A Gorham suicide
in an ivory jazz alley
on the water

Pivotal and Thoughtworks battle over which Agile consultancy? / Demeter wears a crown of wheat / At Eleusis, it
is as if all women are related / flagrantly disregarding / Demeter could be another word for "charm" because it truly
is irresistibly charming / A ten-minute walk from Hvar centre / Just outside the village of Sangri on Naxos Island in
the Cyclades is the attractive ruin of the Temple of Demeter / Demeter is also a DJ / Fucking Demeter was a
goddess of fucking agriculture / How the fuck is she a god? thats fucking the worse thing to be a god at / If i asked
Zeus: whattcha up to? He say like: Oh you know just shoot fucking lightning bolts from the tip of my penis at a
sheep to cook and eat it, then going to start a tornado at this douche that cut me off in the car / what about you
Demeter, what you are up to? / Oh you know WATCHING FUCKING GRASS GROW. God i hate Demeter

When summer was arrested


splashdirect
woodstone
A good guy wasp prey
A bonfire
Does what to make Demophon immortal?
Honeysuckle, holy water
kiss, oud, salt air
whiskey tobacco
ylang ylang
[Iaso]: public cloudscape infrastructure as a service

There will be
reviews, side effects, ingredients
scams, weight loss, detox
There will be
an army of answers in her apparel
Her white bling t-shirt bursts with black coffee
There will be
before and after business cards
chaga management
emu oil
an army of forms, and their fat burners
Green tea gladiator soap customer reviews
Hot chocolate with ganoderma
She’s a 500 calorie eating plan

IASO is the leader in hybrid cloud backup & disaster recovery for MSP's, Telco's and Datacenter Hosting
companies / Serious backup for serious scale / Iaso is the Greek goddess of various modes of healing / IASO takes
the complexity out of backups and changes recovery from an exhausting challenge to a simple reality / Become an
IASO Partner and grow with exceptional margins / A hybrid-cloud backup software solution / "For the beautiful
healthy skin you deserve" IASO helps repair skin's "homeostasis" for younger and better skin / Iaso is a line of
powerful products from Total Life Changes and is the answer for most of us because it's a smart way to get healthy
/ Gently Detoxify and Lose Weight Naturally / IasoTM Tea is a mild tasting tea derived from all natural, organic
herbs and plants / Bachata, the movie, is in production / The children of the Bachata Academy will feature big in it
/ International Aviation Services Organization (IASO) is a non-government organization / Dr. Miller's IASO Tea
100% Risk Free Offer! / iASO Records · @iasorecords. Specializing in roots BACHATA / Things are changing -
IASO is now the World Obesity Federation / We believe the clarity and directness of World Obesity

This intensive clear conditioner is an acronym for


ignite maxx assurance
information security officer
Kiss this mountain lion
Take your liquid vitamins Latin style
Review my love for you
in a nutrablast
Pomica daily facewash
resolution drops
skinny tea angel of comfort music Youtube
The evening is slimming
ultra exfolia
I'm going to discuss the benefits of Iaso tea and describe why some people call it a "miracle" tea / I call these
aggressive scenarios Immature Adrenaline Systems Over-reactivity (IASO) / Iaso is a range of products for children
who are allergic to certain foods and includes a first-aid kit and a cake-making kit / The Maternity and Obstetrics
Hospital IASO is located in Maroussi, Athens / Today I'm putting a Korean brand in the spotlight that is called
IASO Cosmetics / Sophisticated, prestigious and premium brand Iaso, is becoming a global success in the beauty
world / IASO's mission is to provide a unified voice for aviation services companies at airports around the world /
Recuperation from illness / The Dutch public cloudscape infrastructure as a service / My love of diet products is
only bested by my passion for reviewing them / Mimic Data offers IASO Online Backup brand that offers Deep
Deduplication, white labels, HIPPA compliancy and integration with PSA

She’s an acronym for


an FDA approved
fort made from obesity
A pyramid scheme that’s good for you
Archive this autism
black cleansing oil
e-cig liquid
intensive clear booster
lashes
a makeup mythology

Goddess of cures, remedies and modes of healing / Read below for Iaso's celebrity and ruler associations / Iaso is
hereby granted permission to erect a concrete block building on the rear of the lot at the northeast corner of Spruce
and Murphy / Helps to deal with toxins inside of the body and gets it outside of the body / Comment. Add a
comment. Submit. Just now. Report Abuse / IASO is a prestige beauty brand that was designed to address your
sophisticated and proactive skincare / IASO Ghassoul Black Cleansing Oil is a cleanser which will help you to clean
your makeup and skin / Honestly you will be glad you did / Iaso tea is that healthy fat burner tea / Your body will
thank you for it / We have replaced Iaso Tea with Paramax for a deeper cleanse with EIGHT additional ingredients
/ Total Life Changes / Backup & Replication is our lifeline / We are 95% virtualized / Who, with hand on heart,
can say that they've tried a skin care product which has visibly changed their skin and delivered exactly what it
promised?

Personnel must complete


this peeling gel
This virtual disaster recovery
wraps zapper
fundamentals
with a knowledge base in Kuala Lumpur
These stretch marks
are not working for me
[Panacea]: Let me care for you urgently

A pet resort
an aquarium alliance
an after-market air mattress
There’s anemic customer service at the canyon
Mind on a ship through zip time
semantically enables
drug recommendations
in a discovery framework
A nostrum network on a chip
Blue crab festival, both brain and spine
cellular rejuvenation formulas
are dispensary of decorative accessories
Probiotic earrings
entertainment management
All in a folding map of Panacea, Fl

A remedy for all disease or ills; cure-all / His economic philosophy is a good one, but he tries to use it as a panacea
/ "universal remedy," 1540s, from Latin panacea, a herb (variously identified) that would heal all illnesses, from
Greek panakeia "cure-all" / a goddess of universal remedy / Define panacea: something that will make everything
about a situation better—panacea in a sentence / A hypothetical cure / If someone offers you a pill that promises
eternal life, don't take the pill / panacea, cod liver oil /
Most water crafts are worked for velocity / Others are worked of safe ventures and extravagance / All things
considered, meet the 472 Panacea from Intrepid / “Therefore, enthusiasm for a vitamin D panacea should be
tempered” / It is really diverting to see every day in the public papers the increasing advertisements of new
Panaceas, and their number undoubtedly will continue to increase / They were a quarter of the way across the
Pacific when the Panacea induced dreams began to confuse them / Edwin's had to do with a cornered raccoon

Glass gems, hanging baskets


What ingredients are in this sentence?
Inverted tomato cage
jute twine, juice bar, judicial capitals
kraft paper wire, Koh Samui
kill devil hills, kinetic art windmill
liquid low air support system
Make a marine forecast
out of gossamer shine
out of the magicka of ravaged health
Quatrefoil window box dragon quest
What is your question of the week?
Thrash metal band from Germany. This is their EP called "Is It A Human" / Panacea de la Montana Yoga Retreat
& Spa: BELIEVE THE REVIEWS - Panacea is heaven on earth! / Swaim's for every Disease of the Blood Panacea
/ The Panacea must be consulted / The Bee Panacea by Virgin Raw is AWESOME!! I have started to take it for a
week and a) its hard not to eat the entire jar, but b) I felt this sense of well-being in the morning before I started my
day / BEE PANACEA is a unique combination of 20 natural organic Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs and
superfoods, combined in a delicious 100% Raw Royal Honey / Get directions, maps, and traffic for Panacea, FL /
Check flight prices and hotel availability for your visit / PANACEA is an autonomous GNSS benign and threat
environment simulator system for multi-receiver timing, position and velocity performance / Did you know, Bee
Panacea is packed with maca, chollera, spirulina, ginseng, and probiotics / The longer the list of diseases claimed to
be treatable, the higher the chance that the "cure" is woo / Surviving the Medicare maze / Medicare, once the post-
retirement panacea, is now just the starting point for seniors' health care coverage. [No authors listed] / An
enhancement set in the healing category / The level range of Panacea is 10 to 50 in the Angelic Panacea
Awesomely Awesome Gallery

Real estate on water


naturally wired
the side effects in swimwear
books hung from trees
trellis tides
This sentence is full of universal free energy
Vintage grow bag
water gel, watering cans
lightweight extension instructions
skitter extract
Let’s do yoga in a hollow mineshaft

An elegant design, featuring an intuitive color chooser that enables the user to quickly create a stunning site with
rich color and a clean look / Panacea at the Canyon is a Signal-Free 40 acre Luxury Tent Resort and Spa that
provides an eco-conscious and luxurious sanctuary where travelers can truly relax / The latest vegan concept to hit
Las Vegas / A GameFAQs message board topic titled "panacea build..." / A cloud computing service provider
company based in Bangladesh / The purpose of this article is to address a few of the main areas of panacea-based
dentistry and help you determine what treatment or product should be / “This is the next big step” in the
empowerment of the consumer / “The Truth Is Out…How They Really Search” / Panacea does not believe in
'redundant', it believes in NEWER, BETTER and STRONGER / Another year has passed by! Our first post was
11 years ago today*(A full year before Twitter was even invented!) / When you are seeking compassionate care
from a plastic surgeon in Atlanta, you want the experts of Panacea Plastic Surgery to handle your needs

Her instructional resins


An adjective next to a sailboat
Screen spark guard steel
How long is this Eagles song gonna last anyway?
A single shepherd hook black 4’ high
on the edges of our isles
shrimping on our ash buckets with shovels
the silver bullet of silk flower cleaners
Asian herbal side effects
a silent auction of silver necklaces
stretch film asteroids in astrology
sunrise and sunsets times
swimwear twitter time zone
switcher
gunsmoke full cast and crew

Better sanitation and hygiene, coupled with immunization, have dramatically reduced illness / A cloud-based
practice management and clinical records system that's designed to do one thing: make your veterinary practice
more successful / The latest 2012 Panacea – The Human Body Issue – is out now! /
Explore PANACEA yacht for sale; through beautiful photos and a full walk-through description of this impressive
Tansu Yachts 65' 8" Motorboat / Despite a downpour and lingering gray skies, the Panacea reunion in Newtown
on Sunday, Aug. 31, featured good times and a great turnout / Sly Fox's Panacea Barleywine is big and satisfying,
made with imported pale and crystal malts and five varieties of hops /
PANACEA is facing the most critical aspect for Machine Translation to produce this expected impact in Europe:
the called resources bottleneck / Panacea is a small community along what is commonly called Florida's “forgotten
coast” / The dominance panacea is so out of proportion / The objective of PANACEA is to build a factory of
language resources that automates the stages involved in the acquisition, production, updating / Panacea is raising
funds for Panacea's New Album "12 Step Program" Deserves a Proper Vinyl Pressing / Make it so on Kickstarter!
/

A poem written on tea


when a funny thing happened
cryptonomicon
diagnostic solutions
Your electronic health record
for the poison
grayline back-of-the-door organizer
I found a lover in spacebattles
jet beaded statements
tequila taillights
This t-shirt thesaurus

What Bert Has To Say About Tallahassee Metro Area: Tallahassee is a Mid-sized mix of several defining elements /
Shrewsbury's most talked about Indian Restaurant established in 2009 / Are organizations placating themselves
with a tick box exercise of having an internal whistleblowing process in house? /
Motor Vessel "PANACEA" is a beautifully appointed 4588 Bayliner Pilothouse with four levels / It has a spacious,
comfortable salon and fly bridge / Well, in a tweet last week she finally gave a hint that it is about eating a teaspoon
a day of her newest thing / We have drawn inspiration from Greek mythology for our latest and most innovative
steam bath concept, naming it after the Greek goddess of healing, Panacea / Panacea is a cluster computing
backend that focuses on extremely fast cluster computing on affordable hardware and a secure database / A Work
Plan for a Walkable Waterfronts Community / About the Panacea Piston Company: Improving light weight piston
technology / Panacea is an American hip hop duo, formed in 2003 in Washington DC / The duo consists of MC
Raw Poetic (Jason Moore) and producer K-Murdock / Link here to natural healing

Let me care for you urgently


Her edges were open
What was her biotec share price?
Panacea ink is my drink
ordinacija
quick bricks
There is no savior
panacea vs. lapunzel
panacea vs. Henry Rollins
panacea vs. zombie chainsaw
not, while not, or after not
(after To Make Much by George Oppen)


A particular division with its inhabitants and affairs
an outburst and ardent suffering

Radiant energy that does not affect the retina
in a field. A sentence implies continuation
not, while not, or after not
outside a house far from being a requisite lake

Devices furnish artificial light
in a clear space between any two parts that should be close together
This inscription
Time divides into 12 lunar months
at the close of
a period of approximately the same length in other calendars
represents our ignorant pronunciations

***

Devise a new use for something already known:

the table and ornamental objects, such as those made of glass
or a tapered rod, mounted in the headstock spindle (live center)
or the tailstock spindle (dead center) of a lathe
upon which the work to be turned is placed
a large mass of stone forming a hill, cliff, promontory, or the like

***

Pass luminous rays through a small aperture and their reception on a surface
A representation of deity interstices detected

Instant consideration through any of a variety of articulatory processes
a subterranean ocean reduced to actual suffering from want
We proceed slowly without enthusiasm

Stale as a joke, this terminal part
in its latest known period, especially as a living language at the present time
a sweet Malaga wine
where large regions of land are lowered because of geological faults
and shipboard life
all languages or belonging to the human language faculty

And lightning, or flying sand or dust:
the main sources for history
Express surprise
overly familiar to the point of tedium
shrimp and shrink
make or become helpless or useless

The aria comes

***
Conspicuously fine
steel bars that provide the running surfaces for a poem
They are nightless
glisten strongly, in brightness or clearness
in this space that passes for extinction

Her usual residence (dwelling)
(of a moving tool or machine part) motionless for a certain interval
She is equipped with feathers in the constellation Sagitta
Her overhead spaces; sky

Servilely keep a secret that is also a protecting edge
There will be irregular motion, tremulous excitement, an art song
in which a sea goddess drags down ships and drowns sailors

***

In advance of others, appear to exist
then subsequently become a moderate but noticeable noun

This heraldic bearing usually surrounded with rays
intoxicated to consider the possibility of
the greatest possible
allwhatever
undomesticated

Openly and energetically do or have the place where you are
Call attention to instance
to occur to be true

An apparition in the domain of a given function
a score of zero; nothing
an intensely amorous incident or meals given a domestic
An old Roman or pre-Roman road
a minor street in a minor town

Relentlessly without hesitation specify a starting point in spatial movement
Dwell in these attack positions
Fall 2019
Anne Babson

BIENVENUE AU BUNKER

”You want the…least problematic shelter, and that is why…if you are interested in learning more about the underground
bunkers… see this page.”—Web copy from Rising S Company – We don’t sell fear. We sell preparedness.

“We have come to console you in your anguish and perplexity, dear friend, and explain the things that trouble your soul and
confuse your thoughts.”-- Christine de Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies, Ineke Hardy, Tr.

My library, a block of volumes stonewalling


Me inside my head, form my true calling.
I endure endless war and sometime plague
Here, sipping philosophers’ ideas too vague
To really poison me, unlike unboiled water,
Which I avoid. On oceans of bons mots, otter-
Like, I float above swells, cracking nuts, taking notes.
I hear distant guns fire, or are those anecdotes

Tweeting through seams in my palatial barricade


Here where I hole myself up from fusillades?
It’s too perilous to stray beyond the bookshelves.
Others pound the ark in the rain. We save ourselves.
Here, prefect bound perfectly, the dead resurrect,
Speak volumes, tell me to gather pensées, erect

A city safe for women built on heroic


Couplets. Clearly this makes much more sense than epics
Unfolding outside this bespoke, book-lined bunker.
Unabashed Kardashians roam while I hunker
Here! I judge films by cannisters, books by covers.
Each cell, each page I scan promises new lovers.
Derrida tells me Il n’y a pas de hors texte,
But I bury myself here to avoid what comes next.
JANUARY BUNKER

History so illuminates that


I don’t need a flashlight down here, just this
Old-world glow. The Duc de Berry paid for
Art instead of war, a bright book of hours.
It gold-leafed the seasons. Peasant women
Gave sly looks as they curved down like their sheaves.
The Burgundy of the book, its bounties
Resplendent, masked knights turned to land pirates
After the king got kidnapped and would not
Return even when rescued. Other books
By clergy recommended ways to rape.
Plague ate enemies. The duke stayed home and read.
Behold this book of hours on white vellum.
Outside, chaos agents abound, and yet --
FEBRUARY BUNKER

Nothing grows in this season but yearning,


But instead of frost or brown patches,
I painted a dyptich of daffodils.
On one panel, I sit as I do here now,
Only in a field where a hart eats them.
On the other, I kneel before David,
Patron saint of Wales, who holds a pigeon.
I shoo away birds with yellow bouquets.
I’m a protestant. I don’t revere him.
Someone pounded on the door this morning.
Then I heard a distant scream.
Yellow flowers can so cheer up a room.
MARCH BUNKER

A hound at my feet,
I type these lyrics.
He eats the roaches.
I keep him for this.

Out there – the thunder.


The dog barks. He leans
On my legs. I type.
He hates the crashing.

In here, I draft.
I wonder just who
Will ever hear
what I write while

The thick layers of


Insulation
Seal us both in.
I draft, redraft.
DECEMBER BUNKER

One Christmas I roasted chestnuts in the


Fireplace with my wonderful husband Mark.
Only, I didn’t have a fireplace. Mark
Divorced me. Chestnuts taste like wet cardboard.
But there I was roasting them, and my Mark
Was out caressing creases in crotches
While I shuffled the Nat King Cole carols
And watched the white flames making spirits bright.
Although It’s been said many times, many
Times as an interrogation alibi,
In this tin hut, have yourself a merry
Little whatever you need next, darling.
Have yourself a merry contrarian.
This bunker is sound proof. What do you need?
Fall 2019
Alexandra Kulik

I just jam toilet paper in my ears and read the bible and miss everyone
A poem by Bob Kulik, erased by his daughter

Night before:
Got lost
Called for help
Boy, will she be pissed.

Well
it’s time
I got some homework.
I’ll be a great kiss ass,
and [she] will get her social security.

--

They threw out my eye wash.


7 smokes left.
I guess
It’s better than starving out in the cold.

keep the radio.

~Into the dark past~


2 times a day
2 pills
“learn to shut up,”
If I had all the answers I wouldn’t be here.
--
1st step:

the dizziness
of what I’ve been missing…

a good morning
looked like
a blackout
now I must learn patience;

today is visiting day


no one is coming.

--
Voodoo Child in the background

Mon. day 5:
Read morning prayers,
I kind of feel
grounded
(maybe it’s a test)
My head
was good until
they came in and repossessed
music,

now
the madness of
totally silent
only 3 alcoholics
the rest heroin addicts,

The Bible,
Brother Earl Street Talk,
Dinner,
…thank god for milk.

--
! Dream last night:
69 Electra
I’m coming down
semi-peaceful
in Texas,
wishing I could find a job and stay.
Forced to stand outside,
spying on her
Christmas tree.

Home
My room is exactly across
the kids
The blast of the TV,
courts, felonies, drugs,
The pay phone ringing
“Hopefully we can
release some
of that
horrible childhood.”
I jam toilet paper in my ears
and pray for the family.

--

Mon. day 12:


starting over my days

wake up to
someone reading.
I don’t remember
a lot
of what is
great

but they brought in a new girl.


She
looks like alex.
My heart
got lucky.
Found a cross
in the bathroom
(Tom’s)
it tries everything
to cheer him up.

Sure miss the kids.


The nurse
can’t do anything about it.

7th step:
remember, I built the shell.

Last day.
You reap what you sow

--

Second day [home]:


a place to
dream of gas and sleep.
I really messed up.
I would like to apologize
(tomorrow I’ll be in jail)
But one thing is good:

I hear Luke playing


“She Cried Mary.”
precious dream;
all I wanted to do in my life
they are doing.

I thought back on
not being there.

The damage…

they’d never
believe it.
Fall 2019
Acta Biographia — Author Biographies

Anum Sattar

Anum Sattar is a recent graduate from the College of Wooster in Ohio, USA. Her poems have been
published in the American Journal of Poetry (Margie,) Rat’s Ass Review, Visitant, Social Alternatives
Journal, Foxtrot Uniform, Harbinger Asylum, Voice of Eve, Notre Dame Review, GUSTS, Porter Gulch
Review, Midway Journal, Willard & Maple, Meniscus Journal by Australian Association of Writing
Programs, Indianapolis Review, Lullwater Review, North Dakota Quarterly, IDK Magazine, Door is a Jar,
Ribbons, South Florida Poetry Journal, Typehouse Literary Magazine, The Charles Cater: a working
anthology, 50 Haikus, Stuck in the Library, Broadkill Review, Poetry Life and Times, Triggerfish Critical
Review, Packingtown Review, Blithe Spirit, The Mythic Circle, HOBART, SurVision Magazine, Literary
Juice, Coal City Review, Crack the Spine, Lowestoft Chronicle, Taj Mahal Review, FIVE 2 ONE: An Art and
Literary Journal, The Linnet's Wings, Ragazine, Better than Starbucks! The Florida Review, Grey Sparrow
Press, Oddball Magazine, Artifact Nouveau, Off the Coast, Strange POEtry, Between These Shores Literary
& Arts Annual, Conceit Magazine, A New Ulster, The Cannon's Mouth, The Journal of Contemporary
Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry, Wilderness House Literary Review, Poydras Review, The Cadaverine,
Verbalart: A Global Journal Devoted to Poets & Poetry, The Wayne Literary Journal, The Ibis Head Review,
Avocet: A Journal of Nature Poems, Poets Bridge, Deltona Howl and Tipton Poetry Journal. She won the first
Grace Prize and third Vonna Hicks poetry awards at the college. She reads out her work at Brooklyn Poets,
Spoonbill and Sugartown Bookstore, Forest Hills Library in New York City, Cuyahoga Valley Art Center at
Cuyahoga Falls, OH, Bridgewater College in Shenandoah Valley, VA, Cabrillo College in Aptos, CA and was
recently interviewed at Radio Free Brooklyn.

Alexandra Kulik

Alexandra Kulik likes ideas, feelings, colors and show-tunes. She lives in Denver.

Anne Babson

My latest collection of poetry, entitled Messiah, will be released this autumn. My current poetry collection
Polite Occasions (Unsolicited Press, 2018) was discussed on National Public Radio’s New Orleans affiliate
and was featured at the Louisiana Book Festival. It, with my first poetry collection The White Trash
Pantheon (Vox Press, 2015) and my current chapbook, Dolly Shot (Dancing Girl Press, 2018) are currently
available in independent bookstores and on Amazon. My first play, Reenactment, which tackles the subject
of gun culture in America, was published last year. The opera for which I wrote the libretto, entitled Lotus
Lives, has been performed in New York and Boston and Montreal. I have been anthologized in both the US
and the UK multiple times, most recently in Nasty Women Poets: an Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive
Verse (Lost Horse Press, 2017). I have been nominated for the Pushcart four times. I have been featured on
Poetry Daily. My work has recently appeared in Iowa Review, Cider Press Review, Southampton Review,
Bridges, Barrow Street, Connecticut Review, The Pikeville Review, Rio Grande Review, English Journal,
New Song, The Penwood Review, Sow’s Ear, The Madison Review, Atlanta Review, Grasslands
Review,WSQ, Global City Review, Comstock Review, California Quarterly, Wisconsin Review, The Red
Rock Review, and many other publications. In Europe, my work has appeared in Current Accounts, Iota,
Poetry Salzburg, Nth Position, Adelaide and Crannóg. In Asia, I was published in Quarterly Literary Review
Singapore and Yuan Yang, and Coldnoon. I have been anthologized multiple times in both the US and the
UK. I have done residencies at Yaddo and Vermont Studio Center. I am reading at this year’s Tennessee
Williams Festival.

Anne Gorrick

A writer and visual artist, Anne Gorrick is the author of eight books including most recently: Beauty, Money,
Luck, etc. for Beginners (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2019), An Absence So Great and Spontaneous it is
Evidence of Light (the Operating System, 2018); and The Olfactions: Poems on Perfume (BlazeVOX Books,
2017). She also co-edited with Sam Truitt In|Filtration: An Anthology of Innovative Writing from the
Hudson River Valley (Station Hill Press, 2016).
Anne Gorrick lives in West Park, New York.

Anushka Joshi

Benjamin Joe

Benjamin Joe lives in Buffalo, New York where he works as the editor for The Niagara-Wheatfield/North
Tonawanda Tribune and also writes regularly for IPWatchdog.com. His first novel, Nirvana Dreams, was
published by NFB Publishing in August and excerpts from it can be found in the March 2018 Ghost City
Review and Issue 14 of Riggwelter Press. Short stories have been published by Burning House Press,
Aspirant Co. and BlazeVOX, as well as poetry on Green Light Literary Journal and Ghost City Review.
Bijoyini Maya

Dr. Bijoyini Mukherjee dedicates all her creative endeavours to her mother through her penname Bijoyini
Maya. Her professional expertise includes public relations, teaching, content creation and editing. She aims
to heal the needed and be voice of the thwarted by means of word magic.

Brooke Wilczewski

Brooke Wilczewski is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying Gender and Women’s
Studies and Sociology on the pre-medicine track. Coming from Omaha, Nebraska, poetry has become an
outlet for her to share her story, advocate for what she believes in, and explore all that life has to offer. When
not studying, Brooke enjoys spending time with friends, family, and listening to music on the Union Terrace.
This is her first published work, and she is proud to share it.

Candice M. Kelsey

CANDICE KELSEY's work has appeared in such journals as Poet Lore, The Cortland Review, and North
Dakota Quarterly. She was a finalist for Poetry Quarterly's Rebecca Lard Award and has been nominated for
a Pushcart Prize. Her first full-length manuscript, Still I am Pushing, is forthcoming with Finishing Line
Press. An educator of 20 years' standing, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children where
she writes her blog “Don’t Nachus ‘Til You Try Us.”

Charlene Pierce

Charlene Pierce is working her way through writing a poem, or three, in every form. She published poetry
and short stories in several anthologies and literary journals. Her next goal is to publish a chapbook in the
upcoming year.

Charles Borkhuis

Charles Borkhuis, poet and playwright. Finalist for a W.C. Williams Book Award. His 9 books of poems
include Dead Ringer (BlazeVOX, 2017). He is the recipient of a Drama-log Award. His two radio plays aired
over NPR (pennsound). Foreign Bodies presented in Paris Jan.-June, 2019.
Charles Holdefer

Charles Holdefer is an American writer currently based in Brussels, Belgium. This story is from his
collection-in-progress, AGITPROP FOR BEDTIME. More information about Charles' work is available at
http://www.charlesholdefer.com

Christopher Brownsword

Christopher Brownsword is the author of 'Icarus was Right!' (Shearsman Books 2010). It has been described
as 'excruciatingly unreadable.'

Christina Strigas

Christina Strigas is a trilingual poet, raised by Greek immigrants, and has written three poetry books. Her
latest, Love & Vodka, has been featured by CBC Books in, “Your Ultimate Canadian Poetry List: 68 Poetry
Collections Recommended by you.” Her fourth upcoming poetry book, Love & Metaxa, will be published by
Unsolicited Press in 2021. In her spare time, Christina enjoys foreign cinema, reading the classics, and
cooking traditional Greek recipes that have been handed down from her grandmother.

Deborah Saltman

Dustin Pickering

Dustin Pickering is founder of Transcendent Zero Press and editor-in-chief of Harbinger Asylum. He is
author of several poetry collections including Salt and Sorrow (Chitrangi Publishers, India) and Knows No
End (Hawakal Publishers, India). His book on aesthetics A Matter of Degrees was released from Hawakal
Publishers. His short novel Be Not Afraid of What You May Find was released from Alien Buddha Press. A
self-published poetry collaboration with Dory Williams was released in January 2019. He is a former
contributor to Huffington Post. He was a finalist in Adelaide Literary Journal's short story contest 2018. An
essay on #metoo appears in Journal of Liberty and International Affairs. He has essays and interviews
published with The Statesman (Kolkata, India). He is a reviewer, culture critic, musician, visual artist, and
voracious reader.

Elliott Griffin

Writer from CT. 27 years old.


Instagram @elliottgriff
Eric Howard

Ethan Goffman

Ethan Goffman’s poems have appeared in Ariel Chart, BlazeVOX, Burgeon, The Loch Raven Review, Mad
Swirl, Madness Muse, Ramingo’s Blog, and Setu. His first volume of poetry, Out of Touch on a Crazy, Dying
Planet, is due in 2020 from Kelsay Books. Ethan is co-founder of It Takes a Community, a Montgomery
College initiative that brings poetry to students and local residents. In addition, Ethan is founder and
producer of the Poetry & Planet podcast on EarthTalk.org.

Glenn Ingersoll

Glenn Ingersoll works for the public library in Berkeley, California where he hosts Clearly Meant, a reading
& interview series. The multi-volume prose poem epic, Thousand (Mel C Thompson Publishing) is now
available from Amazon.com, and as an ebook from Smashwords. He keeps two blogs, LoveSettlement and
Dare I Read. Recent work has appeared in The Big Windows Review, Packingtown Review, Hawai'i Pacific
Review, as well as in BlazeVOX #16.

Gregg Williard

Gregg Williard's work has been published most recently in New England Review, Free State Review, Queen
Mob's Tea House and X-Ray Literary Journal, among others. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Gwen Dearing

Gwen Dearing has spent her life disappointing people in NYC, Paris and LA.

Harlan Yarbrough

Educated as a scientist, graduated as a mathematician, Harlan Yarbrough has been a full-time professional
entertainer most of his life, including a stint as a regular performer on the prestigious Grand Ole Opry in
Nashville, Tennessee. Harlan’s repeated attempts to escape the entertainment industry have brought work
as a librarian, physics teacher, syndicated newspaper columnist, and city (land use) planner, among other
occupations. Harlan lives, writes, and continues to improve his dzonkha vocabulary and pronunciation in
Bhutan but visits the US and Europe to perform and recharge his bank account. He has settled in Bhutan but
in previous decades has lived, performed, and taught in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Denmark.
Harlan has written four novels, three novellas, three novelettes (two published), and forty-some short stories,
of which twenty-two have been published in six countries. His work has appeared in the Galway Review,
Indiana Voice Journal, Red Fez, Veronica, Scarlet Leaf Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, and many other
literary journals.
hiromi suzuki

hiromi suzuki is a poet, fiction writer and artist living in Tokyo, Japan. She is the author of Ms. cried - 77
poems by hiromi suzuki (Kisaragi Publishing, 2013), logbook (Hesterglock Press, 2018), INVISIBLE SCENERY
(Low Frequency Press, 2018), Andante (AngelHousePress, 2019). Her works have been published
internationally in poetry journals, literary journals and anthologies.
Web site: https://hiromisuzukimicrojournal.tumblr.com
Twitter: @HRMsuzuki

Ian Ganassi

Ian Ganassi’s work has appeared or will appear in numerous literary magazines, including New American
Writing; The American Journal of Poetry; First Literary Review-East; Clockwise Cat; and The Yale Review; among
many others. His poetry collection Mean Numbers was published in 2016. His new collection, True for the
Moment, is forthcoming from MadHat Press. Selections from an ongoing collaboration with a painter can be
found at www.thecorpses.com.

J. D. Nelson

J. D. Nelson (b. 1971) experiments with words in his subterranean laboratory. Visit www.MadVerse.com for
more information and links to his published poems. Nelson lives in Colorado.

Jared Pearce

Jared Pearce's collection, The Annotated Murder of One, was released by Aubade last year
(www.aubadepublishing.com/annotated-murder-of-one). His poems have recently been or will soon be
shared in Breadcrumbs, Xavier Review, Blue Mountain Review, Thema, and The Cabinet of Heed. Further:
https://jaredpearcepoetry.weebly.com.

Janis Butler Holm

Janis Butler Holm has served as Associate Editor for _Wide Angle_, the film journal. Her prose, poems, and
performance pieces have appeared in small-press, national, and international magazines. Her plays have
been produced in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.
Bett Butler
Award-winning songwriter and jazz musician Bett Butler co-owns Mandala Music Production in San
Antonio, Texas, where she and composer Joël Dilley produce spoken word, guided meditation, and music
licensed for HBO, Discovery Channel, and more.

This activity was supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Arts and Disability Center at the University of California
Los Angeles.

Kelly Egan

Kelly Egan’s poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Laurel Review, RHINO,Denver Quarterly, Luna Luna,
White Stag, and elsewhere. Her manuscript was recently a finalist in the Midwest Chapbook Contest. She
lives in San Francisco and has an MFA in Poetry from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. She likes to think
about outer space and visit small towns.

Ken W Simpson

An Australian poet and essayist - educated at Scotch College and Swinburne Art School - taught - began
writing short stories - switched to writing free verse poetry and essays - with a poetry collection - Patterns of
Perception - published by Augur Press (UK) in January 2015,

Margaret Adams Birth

Margaret Adams Birth has had her writing published extensively over the last thirty years. Some places her
short fiction has previously appeared include Reflect, Shawnee Silhouette, The New Voices (Trinidad and
Tobago), The Caribbean Writer, and Potpourri. A chapbook of her poetry, Borderlands, was released in 2016 by
Finishing Line Press; BlazeVOX also published four of her poems in its Fall 2018 issue. She grew up in North
Carolina, attended school in Virginia and upstate New York, spent some time in southern California and on
the Caribbean island of Trinidad, and now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She also
writes romance and "sweet" fiction as Maggie Adams, and mystery fiction as Rhett Shepard, and you can find
her author page at https://www.facebook.com/MaggieAdamsRhettShepard/.
Mark Young

Mark Young lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry since 1959.
His 2019 poetry books are The Perfume of The Abyss from Moria Books; A Vicarious Life — the backing tracks
from otata; taxonomic drift from Luna Bisonte Prods; & Residual sonnets from Ma Press of Finland.

Matthew Hanna

Melissa A. Chappell

Melissa Chappell lives in rural South Carolina among the forests and fields where her family has lived for
six generations. She is versed in music and theology and enjoys the piano, guitar and lute. She is published
in several journals, among them the Harbinger Asylum. A review of Claudine Nash's The Wild Essential was
published in Ethos Literary Review. Her first chapbook, Rivers and Relics and Other Poems was published
by Desert Willow Press in 2018. Her second chapbook, Light, Refracted, was published by Finishing Line
Press in 2019. She was a Pushcart Prixe nominee in 2019.

Michael T. Smith

Michael T. Smith is an Assistant Professor of English who teaches both writing and film courses. He has
published over 100 pieces (poetry and prose) in over 50 different journals. He loves to travel.

N Amara

N. Amara is an artist living in New York. They sell books, dub cassettes, and print things as Forked Road
Press, and they are an assistant editor at Augury Books.

Nadwa Naeem

Natalie Jones

Natalie Jones writes poems and prose. Her work has appeared online and in print at Haiku Journal, Eunoia
Review, Gambling the Aisle, Calamus Journal, The Rusty Nail Literary Magazine, and elsewhere.
Nels Hanson

Nels Hanson grew up on a small raisin and tree fruit farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California, earned
degrees from U.C. Santa Cruz and the U of Montana, and has worked as a farmer, teacher and contract
writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart
nominations in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. His poems received a 2014 Pushcart nomination, Sharkpack
Review’s 2014 Prospero Prize, and 2015 and 2016 Best of the Net nominations.

Nicole Agee

Nicole Agee is a poet, painter, and sculptor currently residing in California. Her visual work has appeared
internationally, online and in print, and has been the recipient of numerous awards. In the future, she plans
to explore poetry through multimedia, utilizing sound and abstraction to widen the experience of her
written work.

Nick LaRocca

My stories and essays have recently been featured or are forthcoming in The Coachella Review, The
MacGuffin, Flint Hills Review, Blue Lake Review, Canyon Voices, Euphony, Crack the Spine, Valley Voices,
the 3288 Review, The Flagler Review, Outside In Magazine, the Steel Toe Review, South85, Per Contra, the
Milo Review, and Mason’s Road. Work from my early twenties appears in Rush Hour: Bad Boys (Delacorte
Press) and the Beloit Fiction Journal. My short story “Gestures” (Lowestoft Chronicle) was nominated for a
Pushcart Prize for Fiction. My short story “Understandings” was nominated for Best of the Net by
Wraparound South. I have just finished the novel The Fighter. Interviews of me available online in the 3288
Review and Wraparound South. I am Professor I of English at Palm Beach State College, where I teach
creative writing, essay writing, and literature.

Pascale Potvin

Pascale Potvin is an emerging writer from Toronto, Canada. She has fiction featured in New Reader
Magazine, The Writing Disorder, and Underwood, plus a film in distribution by the Canadian Filmmakers
Distribution Centre. She has recently earned her BAH from Queen’s University, and she is working on a
book trilogy. She occasionally writes about writing and literature for One Lit Place, where she works as
Assistant, English-French translator, and more. You can read more about her at pascalepotvin.com.
Patrick Chapman

Patrick Chapman’s twelve books include Open Season on the Moon (Salmon, 2019) and Anhedonia (BlazeVOX,
2018). He has also written film and television; audio plays for Doctor Who and Dan Dare; and scripts for
docudrama The Space Race (B7/Audible, 2019). He produced B7’s NY-Festivals-winning dramatization of The
Martian Chronicles for BBC Radio 4. With Dimitra Xidous he edits The Pickled Body.

Robert Lietz

Robert Lietz's poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Agni Review, Antioch Review,
Carolina Quarterly, Colorado Review, Georgia Review, Missouri Review, Poetry, and Shenandoah. Eight
collections have been published, including Running in Place, At Park and East Division, The Lindbergh
Half-century (L’Epervier Press,) Storm Service, and After Business in the West (Basal Books.) His poems
have appeared in several webzines. Additionally, Lietz spends a good deal of time taking, post-processing,
and printing photographs, examining the relationship between the image-making and the poems he is
exploring.

Robin Ray

Robin Ray is the author of Wetland and Other Stories (All Things That Matter Press, 2013), Obey the Darkness:
Horror Stories, the novel Commoner the Vagabond, the poetry collection Welcome to Flowerville: Poetry from San
Juan Commons, and one book of non-fiction, You Can’t Sleep Here: A Clown’s Guide to Surviving Homelessness.
His works have appeared at Crossways, Tipton,Across the Margin, Rabid Oak, Delphinium, Bangalore, Squawk
Back, Outsider, Jerry Jazz Musician, Underwood Press, Neologism, Spark, Big Pond Rumours, Aphelion, Vita Brevis,
and elsewhere.

Roland Kuhlmeyer

Roger Delgado

Roger Delgado is associate professor of philology at Jordan College, Oxford.

Simon Perchik

Simon Perchik’s poetry has also appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker and elsewhere.
Steve Gilmartin

Steve Gilmartin is the author of a chapbook of mistranslations of Emily Dickinson from the German, Comes
Up to Face the Skies (LRL Textile Series, 2013). His fiction and poetry have appeared in and/or, Big Bridge,
Café Irreal, Concis, Eleven Eleven, Mad Hatters’ Review, Otoliths, Rivet, and Unlikely Stories. He lives in
Berkeley, California.

Sharon Curcio

Educated in the Midwest, Carnegie-Mellon University, B.A. and Washington University, MBA. Spent time
in corporate marketing and advertising for national corporations in New York City. Transitioned to Miami,
FL (where I got a lot of writing done) and joined the USAR as a military intelligence professional and was a
university adjunct. Then transitioned to California where I was a secondary school English teacher and
retired from teaching and the Army.

S.W. Campbell

S.W. Campbell was born in Eastern Oregon. He currently resides in Portland where he works as an
economist and lives with a house plant named Morton. This is his 27th short story to be published and he
recently self-published a novel called "Papaya". If you’d like to learn more about his writing, check out his
website: www.shawnwcampbell.com.

Tiffany Flammger

Tiffany Flammger, Born and raised in Buffalo New York as well as Macon Georgia. She has been writing
poems and short stories for most of her life. She is aspiring to self-publish her first book of poetry next year.
You can read more of her work on her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Tiffany-Flammger-
317069942085725/

Related Interests