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poems from
K. Felician
Brittney uecker

fiction from
Grace Kelton
KJ Harper

art and photography by

Laura Meintjes
Lynn Shield
and many more
I s s u e 5

E d i t e d by B r i e B a r r o n

I s s u e 5

E d i t e d by B r i e B a r r o n
In this issue
Po e t r y
editor-in-chief & designer brie barron

K. Felician A r t & pho t og r a p h y

poetry editor julie schultz
Anthropocene Dreams 1
fiction editor riley netzley-hale Laura Meintjes
Mangifera 2
staff editor elizabeth goffena Brittney Uecker
Reference Frame 32
Phase Shift 6
editorial & production assistant Raw Materials Supine 34
rylee treu
Subadult/Juvenile/Child 47
New Year’s Eve 55 Kean Christensen
10, 30, 31
We would like to thank Tami Haaland,
Dr. Rachel Schaffer, and Dr. Deborah Daniel Lurie Shirley Marin
Schaffer for advising us in creating and The Big Dry in Fragments 12 13
maintaining this project, and for their Mourning Montana 42
unceasing support. The Listing 50 Rilie Tané Zumbrennan
Cyanide 51 25, 40, 44
FeverDream Magazine (ISSN 2694-0752) is published
Lynn Shield
twice a year. Single copies are available at This No nf i ct i o n
House of Books in Billings, MT and at their 43, 48, 49
FeverDream Feature Dana Barnes
Please address all correspondence to our editor- 46
Eric Warren
in-chief: For more
information, including submission guidelines,
Notes from the Apocalypse: Journey
please visit Through an American Sacrifice Zone Daniel Lurie
Waiting on Manifest Destiny 52
The short stories in this issue are works of fiction, 15
unless otherwise identified. Names, characters, Craig Botnen
places, events, and incidents are products of the 54
author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. F i ct i o n
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead,
or to actual events is entirely coincidental. The
views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily Grace Kelton Co nt r i bu t o r B i o g r a p h i e s 56
reflect those of its editors or sponsors. If You Need a Place
E di t o r i a l S ta f f 58

Cover: KJ Harper
Prone, 10x20” Watercolor, 2022, Everything Happens for Some Reason
by Laura Meintjes.
to those turning the page
Anthropocene Dreams
K. Felician

Oil drips from their wicked lips,

the bones from whom they inherited this existence.
Time wove quick and clever.
It nestled in their lungs, sprouting forth like an algae bloom.
The body is an ecosystem
in and of itself. A billion
interconnected universes. A host
for the parasite of singular consciousness.

But the parasite wanders in rest, and

what they find in their conception of the body is
not an ecosystem.
They find a monument of electrical impulses.

There is no logic in dreams, but they seem sure

that they need to extract a bit of themself,
a drop of the thickness that is not oil,
but someday might be.

What they find

when they peel back the flaking skin is
not an ecosystem.
Not the shimmering maroon.
Their veins, laid open
against cement flesh,
flicker, violet blue,
the pulse of an obsidian heart still commanding them
to contract and push forward,
but there is no blood.
The parasite presses, perplexed, along the wound, and finds
only unyielding stone.

It can crumble, but

it cannot bleed. This is survival
swaddled in grief.
It could give way to rage
if they press too hard.

In waking hours, the parasite tends to

their microcosm home. They treat gently
their flesh-wrapped ecosystem.

Perhaps someday (they allow the hope

to take root at the base of their skull)
something kinder will find use in them.

Laura Meintjes

2 3
4 5
phase shift
brittney uecker

I’m still a sucker for all the things that hurt me. I say you, but I mean me.
I’m still as raw as freshly picked fruit.
No — raw as a freshly slaughtered animal I’m in my blood phase, but it’s not what it sounds like.
(something about feeding consumption abundance voids, unfillable voids) Bones and birds and boys’ bodies
and things that bring
You won’t like where this is going. your lips together.
You won’t like where we will go.
I say yours, but I mean mine.
I have carbonated blood and caffeine shakes
and I chew through the soft parts like they’ll nourish me I’m in my oral fixation phase, but it’s not what it sounds like.
like I’ll never hit bone. Bite of bubbles,
burn of liquor,
I make myself believe there is no scaffold, things to occupy
no shared vulnerability. my mouth.

If you asked those ancestors what to do

Did our ancestors have feelings? with a broken, hungry heart,
Who piled up conveniences until we lost they would look at you like the fool you are
all our skills and tumbled like and tell you to
a line of dominoes, identical and clinking eat it.
against each other like
the teeth behind your lips?

Soon the sun will shrivel and you’ll be drunk on stiff limbs and cold winds.
This is familiar,
a safe place.
There is safety in repetition,
in really grinding it in.


6 7
If You Need a Place and I got worried that she would miss her people. leave it. I held it while he slit its belly, pulled its insides
“Leave it running,” she said. out into the daylight in a single scoop of his hand. I
Grace Kelton Microfiction have never had a better meal.” She turned to me and,
I followed her back to the pull out. She stared north without any self-consciousness, said, “I hope that all
again, and looked at her watch. The day was getting made sense. It makes sense in my head.”
lighter, the green edge of the sky had ebbed into a thin
There is something clean about leaving a town in the “I’m a doula. I ride with couples over the pass to the
line above the mountains. In the warming light I looked She looked up the road and saw her ride. She got
morning, telling no one, and being on your way. I’ve hospital,” she said. “In case they don’t make it to the
at her profile. She had deep lines stretching from the squarely in front of me and I tried hard to hold her
been sleeping at this dusty crossroads for the better part hospital.”
corner of her eye. The ridge of her nose was perfectly blue eyes in mine. Her thumbs were on my temples,
of three months, and now apple picking is finishing up. “The headlamp?” I asked.
straight. I wanted to pull my finger down that ridge. I her fingers wrapped around the sides to the back of
The last few nights, I’ve been cold in my little tin can “To see in dark places,” she said and finally smiled.
kept my hands in my pockets. my skull. She held me hard by my head. Her thumbs
sedan. She looked at her watch again.
rubbed against my skin, and she said, “If you need a
It’s been safe, parked and sleeping in this yellow field
“Have you ever delivered a baby in a car?” place.”
where the town has dumped its old cars, its rusted tillers, “I’m just worried. This is her second-born. They
“I have. It was wet,” she said.
balers, and swathers. All of it’s falling apart and it’s my tend to come out faster,” she said. “But her husband’s
“Did you have to pull it out of her?” I said, “Okay,” and her arms went around me.
camouflage. No cop has come in the night to knock on bringing her down from way up Slate Creek. Where’s
“No, you don’t ever really pull. I just caught the girl. She pressed me into her oily vest. I felt every stiffness
my window, look over me while trying to guess what my your car?”
I wiped her off a little and held her because her mother from sleeping in my car, from three months of picking
body’s like under my sleeping coats.
passed out, which I’ve never seen since.” She was talking work, leave me. Every touch of hers seemed to be so
There’s a little trailer that has coffee across the The Doula pulled her truck up nose to nose with my
with her hands now. “Have you ever held a newborn? sure, so firm in its intent. I was lost in her.
intersection. It’s one of the topless ones where a woman sedan, and she looked over my nest in the backseat in
They have this smell that’s so sweet and you can feel just
stands in the cold waiting for a stranger to pull up and the same way I look over Georgia’s body. She pretended
how new they are. They’re more resilient, less fragile, Another truck pulled beside us. The Doula grabbed
study her tattoos while she asks if he wants room for not to be looking, but I knew she was, and she knew that
than you’d think.” a bag she had ready and opened the passenger doors.
cream. I walk over when Georgia opens it first thing. I knew.
A young woman filled the back seat. She was silent.
I look her in her eye and try to know the shape of her
I just looked at her. She reached out and gripped my Her head tilted back as if she was looking for the sky
from the edges of my vision. She tells me about her trips “So, people are still having babies in towns like this?”
shoulder. through the car roof. There was no room in her world
to the big reservoir up north. I asked.
“You have a home to go to?” she asked. for anything other than her swollen body.
I promised myself I wouldn’t tell her that I’m leaving. She dug in her truck for cables. Her voice was harsh
“My town is a Dollar Tree and a hydroelectric dam,” The Doula reached in and held her hand. She said
She might hug me through the window. I don’t think I and her back was to me, “How old are you anyways?”
I said. something to the man driving the truck and he nodded
could bear it, her skin on my thick coat. “Twenty-eight,” I said.
“You know that’s not what I’m asking,” she said. “If his thin white face. She climbed into the backseat and
“I would have guessed older,” she said, handing me
you need a place.” shut the door. The man pulled closed the front door. He
I wasn’t able to skirt out of here in the dark like I the cables.
“I appreciate it,” I said, and she knew not to ask more. looked scared. His tires chirped on the pavement. She
hoped. I fell asleep with my dome light on, writing plans
had not given me her name. They turned west, heading
for going to a cannery for the winter. The sedan needed I laughed. She liked me better for laughing. I liked her
“I always knew I wanted a job where I could touch for the hospital over the pass.
a jump, and I knew I’d have to wait for light. better for saying what she said.
people, touch my work,” she said. “When I was young,
In time, at the dirt pullout beside the crossroad, there “People are having kids everywhere all the time,” she
I hitched through Italy and stayed in this ancient stable So, I am standing here and the sun is on the hills
was a man standing beside a truck. He was staring up said.
where an old man fed me. Everything he made, I have across this wide valley. Something about her is still here,
the road with his feet wide apart. His hands were behind “What do you do with them here? Your two stores are
never had anything like it again. He told me that the but she has left me, and these two feelings are making
his back, at ease, like he had a military father too. I got boarded up and the air is nearly always full of smoke.”
reason food tasted like shit now was because nobody me empty and I want to eat. I could wait for her. I could
closer and the man was a tall woman in work pants and
really touched it anymore. He said that even now, when easily find out who she is. I could.
a soiled vest. She had her hair tucked into a hat, and a I expected her to give me more shit, but she said, “You
hands are put on food, they are gloved. Nobody touches But I am going to walk over to Georgia, and I am
headlamp cinched down tight over it all. know, I do this job because kids will always keep being
anything anymore. That’s what he said.” going to tell her I’m leaving. She will look at me and say,
I made my voice soft and said, “Hey.” born. People’ll keep having them after the world ends
‘Oh honey, where are you going?’
The woman had those eyes that are so blue it hurts and those kids’ll not know any different, just like we
She laid her long arm across my shoulders and looked I’ll lie and tell her whichever state name comes to
to look at them. I feel rude talking to people with eyes don’t.”
east towards the almost risen sun. She was old enough mind first. She will be sweet and she will give me free
like that.
to be my mother, but she was nothing like my mother. coffee for the road. It’ll be burnt and I will love Georgia
She shut me up and she knew it. She got close to me
even more for that. I will hug her if she reaches for me.
“I’m here for apple season and my car needs a jump. as she lifted my hood. She smelled like gasoline and
“He made fish one evening, a fish he had caught and I will let her hug me in her string bikini bottoms and her
Could you?” I asked. leather work gloves.
brought to me while it gasped. I understood his Italian silver high-heels. And then I will go back into the world
She looked pained and looked at her watch. “I’ve got “Hook it up,” she said.
enough to know that he told me to ‘hold it like a lover of long roads and new work.
a woman coming down the valley who is about to give
who was leaving.’ I did, it was all tight strength under
birth,” she said. She started her engine and I waited, then turned my
its scales, but it didn’t thrash. I held onto it firmly and
She realized she wasn’t being clear, that I hadn’t been key. My engine sputtered for a few minutes and finally
he drove a spike through its brain and I felt the tension
in town long enough to know who she was. came back. She smiled at me through her windshield

8 9
Kean Christensen

10 11
The Big Dry in Fragments
Daniel Lurie

Guilt, because I can’t help but blame the too late

homesteaders with their trailer homes
and handful of cattle, for my mother not being able to sell her dead husband’s bones.

Fire has become part of the ecology,

same as the yucca, and sandstone.
Like the time I lit a pack of matches and let it drift between my feet to an anthill below.

I had looked into its eye and wondered if eagles didn’t

need to blink. After it never flew away,
I rushed it to a vet. Somewhere along 87, I knew it had died, but kept driving, alone.

On a summer day, the biggest diamondback I had

ever seen basked next to the barn.
A ranch hand chopped off its head with the flat of a shovel, as if it had something to atone.

Come winter, it’s quiet, save for the porcupine,

who digs in the onset sludge. Underneath
a clear comet sky. Near the withered crabapple tree, it uncovers crimson graves in snow.

In the corner of our land, a cottonwood

was struck by lightning.
I had carved my initials into the widow-maker, and in the wind, it let out a soft groan.

Shirley Marin

12 13
Eric Warren
FeverDream Magazine’s Issue 5 Featured Photographer & Writer

14 15
14 15
The Bakken has become the crude version of a wild to this apocalyptic light show.
west gold rush. And the Fort Berthold Reservation is the It’s not just the light from the flares that pollutes the sky.
fiery heart of it. The reservation has been hit hardest by Chemicals come up with the methane including volatile
the flaring epidemic. Methane, the main ingredient in organic compounds (VOCs) known to cause respiratory
natural gas, comes up with oil during production, and illnesses like asthma as well as the carcinogens benzene,
then gets burned off as a byproduct. toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. Burning the gasses
While flaring off natural gas that could be sold seems doesn’t remove all of the chemicals, and everyone living
counter-intuitive, it’s a common practice for oil companies downwind has to deal with the medical consequences. I met
who choose not to take the financial hit of connecting Joletta Bird Bear, a long-time resident of the reservation.
wells to the natural gas grid to sell a product that’s not She described a recent trip to the Elbowoods Clinic where
as lucrative as oil. Billions of dollars of natural gas she asked if people have been coming in with respiratory
owned and managed by the federal government is flared, issues. The nurse confirmed that not only were young
vented, or leaked around the US. If you’re an American people being diagnosed with asthma in greater numbers,
citizen, this is your natural gas being wasted. It’s enough but they’d been treating adults for asthma who’d never
gas to heat over two million homes a year. Some states been asthmatic. Residents were increasingly coming in
have stricter requirements against wasting this resource with a debilitating respiratory infection that oil workers
than others. Colorado, for example, flares less than 2% call the Bakken Cough. I couldn’t find any solid numbers
of all gas produced by oil wells. North Dakota, on the of cancer rates on the Fort Berthold Reservation, but
other hand, flares off about 19%. On the Fort Berthold every single local I talked to knew someone with cancer.
Reservation, oil companies flare more than 37%, leading Usually more than one.

N o t e s f r o m t h e A p o c a ly p s e
A Journey Through an American Sacrifice Zone
by Eric Warren

A natural gas flare howls just a few feet away from me, across this landscape of perpetual daylight, like a scene
sounding like a rocket trying to take flight. Flame shoots out of Bladerunner, it’s hard not to ask, has the money
thirty feet into the air, casting everything—oil tanks, been worth it?
nodding oil pump jacks, and the surrounding wheat I work for a nonprofit that advocates for responsible
field—in an undulating, hellish glow. energy development. I’m in western North Dakota for a
The bluff I’m on overlooks the town of Four Bears, couple of days to get a sense of what our members are
just across the bridge from New Town in the heart of experiencing on the ground. Being from Billings, I see the
North Dakota’s Bakken oil play. Flares like this one burn, Bakken in the news and know oilfield workers. But coming
gyrating all the way out to the horizon in every direction. out and seeing it is very different. All of the descriptions
Hundreds or thousands of them. It’s almost midnight, but and space maps can’t prepare you for the petroleum scent
the sky glows orange overhead, blocking all but the most and heat washing over you in the light of a nearby flare
robust stars. and the landscape on fire.
The Bakken oil play covers 200,000 square miles of
North Dakota, Montana, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. Hell on Earth
Over 14,000 oil wells perforate the North Dakota region Oil was first discovered in the Bakken Shale Formation in
alone. There are plans for the number of North Dakota 1951, but it wasn’t until hydraulic fracturing was coupled
wells to top out over 48,000, depending on the price of with horizontal drilling that the oil became recoverable
oil. As it is, the flaring can be seen from space, looking in significant amounts. Since 2000, North Dakota has
like a clone of Minneapolis / Saint Paul plopped down surged to become the second largest oil-producing state in
in the sparsely populated prairie. There’s a lot of money the US, pumping more than one million barrels of oil out
being pumped out of the ground here. But looking out of the ground per day.

16 Feature layout by Rylee Treu

17 17
Blank Spot on the Map well as several towns, including Van Hook and Sanish. thirty feet from the flare. It lights up a dozen massive oil their flares lighting up the sky. Unlike the logging industry,
I’d spent that afternoon driving from Glendive, Montana, When New Town was built, one of the names proposed tanks and several oil pump-jacks all bobbing up and down which clearcuts the backsides of mountains so your
to New Town, North Dakota, cutting across the Dakota for the new settlement was Vanish, a blend of the lost at different speeds. The roar of the igniting gasses drowns average tourist can’t see the destruction from the highway,
Prairie National Grasslands. The road threaded its way town names. A particularly apt name considering the out all other night sounds. The heavy scent of petroleum the oil industry doesn’t try to hide its impact. What was, a
through miles of steep-sided hills carpeted with prairie destruction of the Three Affiliated Tribes’ food hangs in the air. Heat presses against my face as I watch. decade ago, pristine range or farmland can now only be
grasses that rippled in the wind like cascading dominoes. sovereignty and economy. Now, almost a sixth How many homes would this blaze heat on a chilly described as one thing: a sacrifice zone.
Those grassy hills are home to all kinds of birds from of the tribes’ land is water. When the US night like tonight? Behind the flare, thousands of similar
eagles and prairie falcons to wild turkeys and sharptail government proposed damming the flares dot the land out to the The Davis Refinery Boondoggle
grouse. Deer, elk, coyote, fox, and even bighorn sheep can river, the tribal council responded, horizon like flickering The next morning, I head south toward Belfield, North
be seen wandering the slopes. “We have been, and now are, orange stars. Along Dakota, following a long line of water trucks and pickups
The National Grasslands were like an oasis in the as nearly self- this road, less than with overloaded trailers known here as “hotshots.” I pass
industrial fires of the Bakken. A dark spot in the sea of supporting as the a mile from the man-camps of prison-cell-sized apartments and RVs
light seen in photos from space. As soon as I crossed out average white most populous decorated with American flags. A massive flare burns
of the protected lands, oil wells began popping up along community...the town on the just feet from where the oil workers sleep. A fracking rig
the highway. By the time I got to Watford City, they were lands which will reservation, oil towers above the prairie pressing millions of gallons of
a constant companion along the roadside. Even during be flooded are pads are placed water thousands of feet into the ground to shatter the
daytime, flares were visible for miles. Semi-trucks hauling practically all every half mile shale and release the oil. The semi-truck ahead of me has
produced water, the radioactive saltwater backwash from the lands which or so with the words “drill baby drill” painted on the trailer. Fire is
drilling, clogged the roads at intersections and round- are of any use their pumps everywhere.
abouts. Once I hit the border of the Reservation, the or value.” The sucking oil The badlands rise up out of the prairie like a rough
flaring was everywhere. government out of the spine of knife-edged ridges and erosion-cut valleys.
What was gone was the steady stream of carcasses was unswayed g round The Lakota called this harsh landscape “Mako Sica,”
along the highway. Throughout the grasslands of eastern by the protest and somewhat directly translating to Land Bad. There’s little
Montana, dead deer, raccoons, and rabbits were the and in 1954, vegetation and even less water, making the stretch between
unfortunate result of interactions with cars and trucks. the Garrison central North Dakota and eastern Montana particularly
The lack of roadkill gave some credence to Bird Bear’s Dam was unforgiving. It’s also one of the most beautiful
comment about the wildlife disappearing after the oil completed. 80% landscapes in the west. So beautiful, in fact,
boom started. “The difference is astounding,” she said. of the reservation’s that the landscape inspired a skinny, glasses-
A local teacher named Tom Abe told me about a flare native population was wearing kid from New York out hunting
that lights up his front window at night. It sits on a bluff displaced to the hard, in 1883 to try his hand at ranching.
overlooking the Missouri River Valley, where the Army dry prairie above the Experiences running cattle and seeing
Corps of Engineers flooded his ancestors’ agricultural fertile river valley. Now, the devastation of unregulated
land in the 1950’s. seventy years later, every overgrazing as well as the slaughter
Ignoring Lake Sakagawea’s tragic history, it’s a corner of the tribe’s
beautiful spot that looks out over the water to the low hills remaining land is being
of the badlands in the distance. This view, and every other impacted by the oil
vista looking out over the lake is now marred by countless industry.
towers of flame along the banks glinting off the water. The flare that Tom
When the reservoir was created, not only did it destroy pointed out was easy
an agricultural way of life for the people of the Mandan, to find. Now, at almost
Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes of the Fort Berthold midnight, I pull to the
Reservation, it also flooded countless sacred sites, as side of the road, less than

18 19
of the bison turned Teddy Roosevelt into a champion of unprofitable that the company dumped it in less than a
conservation. During his presidency, he saved 230 million year. According to the Wall Street Journal, shareholders
acres of land for future generations. Theodore Roosevelt took such a hit that they sued over the mishandling of a Conversation with the
National Park sits just a few miles from where he ranched their investments. That refinery, built to turn Bakken crude Author, Eric Warren
cattle in the mid-1880s. into fuel, now processes soybeans and corn into biodiesel.
It’s heartbreaking, then, to roll into Belfield and see Will being a few miles closer to the oilfields really be the
North Dakota’s newest proposed oil refinery sited just difference between profit and loss? What originally drew you to writing?
three miles from the border of Teddy’s national park. The There’s a lot about the proposal that doesn’t seem
Davis Refinery, if built, will be closer to the national park to add up. Whether it’s the location so close to North I’ve been writing since I was little. I remember sitting at
than the ranch that inspired it. Dakota’s only national park, or the fact that the company my dad’s desk with a few sheets of paper stapled together
Belfield hugs the eastern edge of Theodore Roosevelt has changed the proposed output of the refinery from illegibly handwriting stories about castles and portals to
National Park’s South Unit. Flatbed trucks loaded with 40,000 barrels a day to 55,000 barrels a day and then back other worlds. I didn’t have a lot of friends and didn’t really
hay saunter down roads at a walking pace. A tall grain down to 49,500 barrels a day once it became clear that belong, so I wrote up some worlds where my characters
elevator looms at the edge of downtown. Farm stores and North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (and essentially I) did belong. That kind of fell by the
energy company warehouses line the streets. (pressured by environmental groups) might actually wayside when I picked up a camera and started capturing
From the top of a hill overlooking town, I can see the force them to have the more thorough environmental images of the non-imaginary world. I went to school
bulldozed land where the proposed refinery will sit. The assessment required for refineries over 50,000 barrels. But for photography, but only used it to make a part-time
first thing I’m struck by is that, as big as it is, the plot is nothing has changed to the design on paper. living at best. I found myself in a lot of physical jobs
way too small for a 50,000 barrel-a-day refinery. I grew up There’s a sign at the edge of that 150-acre plot that like loading trucks, bussing tables, and digging graves that
in the shadow of three 50,000 barrel-a-day refineries, and reads “future home of Davis Refinery.” Arrow K Farms’ gave my mind a lot of time to wander. Fictional worlds
each takes up a lot more space than this 150-acre field. tidy white farmhouse and out-buildings stand a couple and characters began to creep into my consciousness. I workshopping with people who are better than you are,
For comparison, the 20,000 barrel per day Dickinson hundred yards down the road. Across the street, fields of took up writing again, and at twenty five, I decided to go which was easy to do at both of those places. Watching
Refinery, just six miles away, is sited on 320 acres of land. soybeans and other crops stand lush and green. Who’s back to school for fiction. someone else take your work apart and offer constructive
It seems likely that the extra land is going to have to come going to have to give up their land to this sprawling feedback can be a magical experience, as long as you keep
out of people’s property. Homes and farm fields will have industrial site? With the uncontrolled fracking binge to What is one thing you took away from your time your ego out of it. A fabulous side effect of keeping your
to be leveled as the refinery plans expand, whether the the north keeping oil prices at rock-bottom, what are they in an academic creative writing program (whether ego out of the work is that it prepares you for the world
owners like it or not. going to do with the refinery when it goes bust? And what your learning it was intentional or not)? of professional writing, where you’ll be working with
Recently, I’d seen the documentary “My Country No will be the impact to the tourism industry which brought editors whom you can also learn a lot from, if you’re open
More” about local farmers fighting a refinery proposed in over 700,000 visitors to the park in 2018 generating I got so much from my time at both University of minded. In the end, writing is for the reader, and editors
in Trenton, North Dakota. The film described the way upwards of $39 million in nearby communities like Montana and the University of Kansas’s science fiction generally know their readers better than you do.
that the oil industry had pressured Williams County into Belfield? and fantasy summer workshops. I’m not convinced you
rezoning farmland to industrial use for a crude oil railroad In his 1908 speech titled “Conservation as a National need an MFA to be a writer, but solid undergrad courses Your photographs here feature the working cogs of
terminal on the outskirts of town. The project was small Duty,” Theodore Roosevelt challenged the way are invaluable. What I learned in two years in a structured the day-to-day Anthropocene and paint them with
enough that people didn’t get too worked up about Americans see the landscapes in which they live by turning writing environment would have taken me at least a their own light in a very apocalyptic, foreshadowing
it. As soon as part of Trenton was zoned for industrial conservation from an economic issue into one of morality. decade on my own. I also don’t think that learning craft way: the refinery flames engulfing the landscape,
development, however, an oil company swooped in with is enough to make you a good writer. It takes a lot of for instance. When you are behind the lens, do you
plans to build a refinery. Once the precedent was set, it “We have become great because of the lavish use words on pages, and a lot of rejected stories, which is a endeavor to present such microcosms of our current
was nearly impossible for the people of Trenton to fight of our resources” Roosevelt said. “But the time has lesson I continued learning after college. I’m constantly age, or is it simpler than that? More complex?
both the oil company and the county, who were already come to inquire seriously what will happen when re-learning it.
finding ways to spend the anticipated tax revenue. our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the Something else I learned in school was that good The nonprofit that I work for does a lot of work with
A mile up the tracks, I see lines of black oil train cars oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have writing is good writing no matter the genre. I went to the Bakken-based community organizations trying to curb the
snaking around massive oil tanks. The oil terminal looks still further impoverished and washed into the University of Montana wanting to write science fiction, flaring, venting, and leaking of methane and other volatile
pretty new. Meridian Oil, the developers of the Davis streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields but with a few exceptions, it was geared toward literary organic compounds from oil and gas infrastructure. It’s
Refinery, appear to be using the exact same playbook. and obstructing navigation.” fiction. I felt disappointed at the time, but the intense a problem that’s hard to grasp unless you’ve been in the
I cross the tracks, and make my way along a narrow road focus on literary craft gave me a solid foundation for area. Methane comes out of the ground with the oil,
to the fence protecting the proposed refinery, wondering As I look at this bulldozed and barren field among the when I later went to science fiction and travel-writing but rather than capture it and add it to the natural gas
what all of the semi-truck traffic was going to do to the grassland hills that inspired his conservation, I see that this workshops. With the basics down, I was able to focus on infrastructure, companies vent it or flare it off. Millions
asphalt. Would the increased tax base cover it? If the is still Teddy’s wild west. We’re still economically flush and learning what made those genres unique. I continue to of dollars of publicly owned minerals are released into
Dickinson Refinery is any clue the answer would be no. morally bankrupt. Nothing has changed, except, perhaps, use that foundation whether it’s a blog post or something the atmosphere where they can cause health issues in
The Dickinson Refinery was a similar project to our hunger for resources. more like Road Tripping the Apocalypse. nearby communities and exacerbate global warming.
the proposed Davis Refinery. Lots of promises. Lots of Another thing that both University of Montana Technical solutions for capturing the gas and adding it to
tax breaks. And then, once it was complete, it was so and University of Kansas taught me was the value of the natural gas supply chain are available and have been

20 21
which it turned out was most of the town. I found out there
was an amazing story behind the race. They were putting
the race on to support their only cafe. The story was so
moving that I made a short documentary about it called
Saving the Stockman. The race went on for years and was
the premiere mountain biking event in eastern Montana.
The people of Rapelje were so welcoming. Ranchers who
own or lease a tremendous amount of land in Montana had
gone from being the enemy of land access to stewards of
land access, seemingly overnight. In this one instance, we
all aligned over economic interests, but economic interests
alone don’t account for the warmth of the community
toward us. These were people who loved the land, and
once the walls came down, they wanted to share it. It’s all
about trust. It was my first introduction to the power of

You talk about growing up near large-scale refineries.

How did this influence your career path? What was
it that kept you from normalizing practices for
immense profit?

The refineries gave me headaches growing up when the

wind was right, but they didn’t really influence my career
path much. In fact, I grew up as a car guy in a “car family”
and going to streetrod meets and roadtripping around the
U.S. in a converted van. I even owned a 1968 Barracuda.
I actually came to the work of exposing “harm for
profit” from the food and agriculture side, starting with the
book “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser. I realized as I
read the book that I’d grown up in a semi-rural landscape
implemented by oil companies in other parts of the U.S. school to watch this show called Globe Trekker by Lonely than an on-camera personality; I asked the right kinds of with horses and cattle roaming a pasture abbutting my
where states require it, but since it would impact the bottom Planet. Every new episode featured a new destination and questions to bring stories to life. It opened the doors to backyard, and yet, I didn’t have a clue how food actually
line and companies can get away with flaring and venting in the experiences of an entertaining “traveler” show host. doing documentary film, and eventually working with got to my plate. Another pivotal moment came when I was
North Dakota, they do so. Growing up, I’d spent summers traveling with my family nonprofits to tell their stories, including heading into the filming Saving the Stockman. I was sitting in the Stockman
Because of this, the Bakken is known for its prolific around the country in a converted van visiting historic Bakken to see how flaring is affecting communities there. Cafe with a wheat farmer and cattle rancher, and I said
flaring, especially on the Fort Berthold Reservation where places, national parks, and weird roadside attractions. When Being a documentary filmmaker meant that I could finally something about how good the burgers were because they
both regulations and enforcement can be gray areas. It can I saw Globe Trekker, I imagined myself being one of those tell a story that had moved me earlier in my life. Mountain were local. The guy snorted a laugh. “They come off the
be seen from space like a duplicate Minneapolis-Saint Paul. hosts traveling the world and doing all the awesome stuff biking has been one of my primary loves since I was a kid. Sysco truck like everything else,” he said. He went on to
The scope of the problem can be hard to see during the they did. In the early days, trail access was a huge issue. Mountain tell me how that beef could have come from anywhere,
day, since the sun overpowers the light of the flares. To Fast-forward twenty years. I’d been writing a few travel bikers were considered renegades. Private landowners including other countries (even if it’s labeled “Product of
tell the story, I went out at night where the scope of the stories for Matador Network when I stumbled upon a who’d allowed hikers to cross their land on established trails the USA). He also talked about the difficulty of having to
problem becomes clearer. From any high point you can see travel video that wasn’t a network TV operation. This solo for years closed those corridors because mountain bikers ship his cattle out of state to get them processed in one
hundreds of flares dotting the landscape out to the horizon traveler, without a camera crew, was hosting a “travel show” started using the trails. Public land managers weren’t much of the few remaining USDA packing plants. I remember
in all directions. The eerie light of the flares gives everything on YouTube. I quickly did a search for HD camcorders better. being shocked that I was sitting in a cafe in the heart of
a creepy glow and hides the stars. It’s one of those places and found that you could get a small, high-definition video However, in the summer of 2000, I heard about a 24- “beef country” and that my hamburger could have been
where the story almost tells itself. camera for just a few hundred bucks. All those feelings hour mountain bike race being held by a bunch of ranchers from Florida, or even Canada. Since then, I’ve learned that
of watching Globe Trekker came back. I bought a cheap in Rapelje, about an hour from Billings. These people, many it’s so much worse than he described. We saw during the
What are a few stories you could credit with shaping Canon and began filming what would now be called a travel of whom hadn’t ridden a bicycle since childhood, weren’t pandemic how unstable our food system is. There are just
who you are, even if for a short time in your life? vlog of some adventures around Maine. I certainly wasn’t just opening their land to mountain bikers but inviting them four multinational meatpackers controlling 84% of the U.S.
as entertaining as Ian Wright or Justine Shapiro, but my out to ride. It was revolutionary at the time. I had to work, so beef market, and other non-meat foods aren’t much better.
I can trace where I am today from more or less a single photography training meant that my footage looked pretty I couldn’t participate in the race. I went out and took photos When I lived in Maine, I saw a film series called Meet
event. When I was growing up, I’d come home from decent. It didn’t take long to learn that I’m a better listener of the event and spent some time talking to the volunteers, Your Farmer featuring Maine’s local producers and the

22 23
restaurants who supported them. When I moved back to generated electricity. It’s not an enormous amount, but
Montana, I had ambitions to tell similar stories about our with renewables already cheaper than fossil fuels, it would
farmers and ranchers. A friend connected me to the ag generate even more motivation for people to shift away
and food organizer at Northern Plains Resource Council. I from expensive, dirty fuels. Since these are free market
pitched the idea, but instead, they hired me to make a short approaches, they would be easier for Americans to stomach
film about how oil and gas was affecting water quality in than other changes if things weren’t so politically polarized.
the Bakken. It was my first time in the Bakken. Seeing the I think most Americans would agree we should be paying
chaos of the Bakken oil play, even on the Montana side for what we’re really getting, and that if a corporation gives
of the border, was eye-opening. I spoke to people whose you cancer, they should pay for it.
lives and livelihoods depended on clean water, and they I also recognize that these kinds of changes would hurt
were terrified. To a rancher, a single blown well casing could low-income, rural, and communities of color more than
poison all the wells they use for drinking or watering their everyone else, and those impacts must be mitigated at the
cattle. “Accidents happen,” one of them told me. “Just look same time. A farmer or a family priced out of their walkable
at the ‘Bakken Fail of the Day’ page on Facebook.” It was a community shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of higher
time when people were really starting to question fracking, fuel prices. This is where things get complicated, but not
and my film, Mixing Oil and Water, screened all over the insurmountable.
U.S., plus in Europe and Africa.
I also made several short films about the impacts of coal What was the reaction like amongst you and your
mining on the people living nearby before shutting down my colleagues when President Biden passed the Inflation
film production business and joining the nonprofit world. Reduction Act? Was it enough to produce significant
What became very clear since I started down this path is change?
that both food production and energy production can be
done responsibly, but that’s not what happens when an Speaking only for myself, I think it was a big step in the
industry gets too powerful. Once an industry starts writing right direction. More than the monetary investment in clean
its own rules, as is so often the case, the industry’s profits energy and other technologies, I think that the time-frame
take priority over the lives of the people being harmed. It is important here. Most federal incentive programs sunset
ends up falling to the people who have the least, the people after just a few years, making investors skittish about funding
who never had any say over the bad things happening to projects. The Inflation Reduction Act ensures that these
them, to stand up against these well-resourced corporations. programs will be funded for a decade or more. This will
create market stability and open the floodgates for private
What are some of the changes you’d like to see investors to support the shift to a cleaner economy. In the
implemented in order to mitigate the damages we’ve end, the billions the government is spending will be dwarfed
already caused, and may continue to cause? by private capital pushing clean technologies forward. As
for the fossil fuel-friendly side-deal that Senator Manchin
A good start would be to stop subsidizing the fossil fuel forced through in order to get his vote, the danger isn’t the
industry. Oil, gas, and coal get billions of dollars every year, fossil fuel leases that are required to go on sale in order to
starting with cheap federal resource leases and breaks on get renewable energy projects approved. Oil companies are
extraction royalties. The subsidies continue throughout the sitting on thousands of leases right now that they’ll probably
supply chain to the end product. If you’ve ever bought gas never drill. They’re simply used to pad their holdings to
in another country, you know how much cheaper it is here, attract investors. The biggest issue is that the deal weakens
even though oil is sold on a global market. The second, and the National Environmental Policy Act, America’s bedrock
more important change I’d make would be for the fossil environmental law, in order to fast-track the Mountain
fuel industry to absorb their externalized costs. Right now, Valley Pipeline. Since the 1970s, NEPA has been one of the
corporations get out of paying for even the most basic best tools for ensuring big projects don’t harm people or
things, like cleaning up oil and gas drilling sites and coal nearby communities. Weakening or “streamlining” it gives
mines (often by simply going out of business). But they private companies a lot more latitude to move forward with
also get away with externalities that adversely affect public projects on their word that the projects are safe. In this
health, dangerously pollute water, and harm the climate. political climate, that’s a genie that won’t easily go back in
Those externalities are then unloaded onto the healthcare the bottle.
system or taxpayers. That sounds like it would be a huge
amount of money that would get passed on to rate-payers,
but with the scale of use, it would only add something like
$0.20 per kilowatt hour to the average electric bill for coal Rilie Tane Zumbrennan

24 25
“You can never get a cup of
tea large enough or a book
long enough to suit me.”
– C.S. lewis

Store Hours
Monday–Saturday 10–7
Books • Toys
Jewelry • Gifts Streak
Sunday 11–4 Games • Tea • art
and so much more!

We are a Co-op Bookstore

New Location! This House of Books is a member-owned, independent

116 N 29th Suite B • Billings, Montana bookstore and tea shop in downtown Billings.
While we may look like any other bookstore at
(406) 534-1133 our region and tailored to the community. This re- FIND OUR PRODUCTS AT: ALBERTSON’S, ACE HARDWARE, POLY FOOD BASKET, WALMART, COSTCO & SAM’S CLUB!
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Follow us on whom are local writers.

26 27
Discover English Language Arts at MSU Billings!

Sigma Tau Delta is the international

English honor society, celebrating the For more information
love of English literature, language, Visit the national website at
and writing. The MSU Billings branch and the
raises money for scholarships for MSU Billings branch Facebook
English majors, including the Sigma page at
Tau Delta/Melissa Morgan Memorial sigmataudeltamsubillings?ref=hl
Endowed Scholarship.

The American Association of University

Women is an international organization
that supports equity for women and
girls through advocacy, education, and
research. The Billings affiliate hosts a
variety of programs and activities, and for
many years raised money for one annual The Rook is MSU Billings’ literary magazine, For more information:
scholarship at MSU Billings and one at featuring writing, photography, and art by and to see back issues, visit https://the-rook.
Rocky Mountain College, both now fully students, and edited and published by a student-
endowed. led editorial staff.

For more Information

about AAUW, visit the national
website at
and the Billings affiliate Facebook
page at

The award-winning Young Poets program offers

SUPPORT THE AAUW SCHOLARSHIPS elementary school children opportunities to The Elk River Writing Project provides ongoing
work with professional writers in the classroom,
BY GIVING TO THE MSU BILLINGS writing workshops for the professional
developing their literacy skills and creating their development of Montana K-12 teachers.
FOUNDATION. own poetry.

Checks can be sent to the MSUB

Foundation, 1500 University Dr., Billings,
MT 59101, earmarked for the AAUW
scholarship, or donations can be made
Please specify which program or scholarship you wish your donation to go to.
online at Be sure to
specify that your donation is meant to go
to AAUW. Go to or scan To donate directly to Sigma Tau
this QR code. Be sure to specify Delta and the Melissa Morgan
Donations can also be made to Rocky which program or scholarship you Memorial Endowed Scholarship,
Mountain College, earmarked for the wish your donation to go to. scan this QR code.
AAUW Scholarship, and sent to Rocky
Mountain College, Office of Advancement,
1511 Poly Dr., Billings, MT 59102.

28 29
Kean Christensen

30 31
Raw Materials
Reference Frame
Brittney Uecker
Laura Meintjes

All we’ll ever know is what we’ve seen before

Based on archetype and biblically engrained
Feels like communion on the tongue
Soak it up, blood sponge
Feels like teacups cracking when our hips tap
Drink it up, delicate lips
When my breakdown happens at 7AM
Driving aimlessly to sad songs
How will I go on?
To speak it is to force it into being
We laughed at this, the impossibility
I am the crazy one
Am I the crazy one?
These circles we’ve spun before
All of us, tails chased

Cloying loneliness, rolling nauseous splaying

That makes you speak it into being
Words shot from the hip and rolling of your tongue
Cling to your lips like sugar water
The bites you take after you are full

I find myself where I’ve been before

How many destructions have I left in my wake?

32 33
Laura Meintjes

34 35
quickly when I remember that Missoula is a place of alone without feeling too loserish and insecure, but
openness, of vulnerability, a place where spotting tents playing pool solo is something different. I remember
Everything Happens for Some Reason Chapter excerpt on sidewalks has become as normalized as seeing tents something my mother said when we were kids, and she
Note to the reader: this story contains drug use in the mountains. Speaking of, I shouldn’t be here. I was bitching about Whichever Boyfriend It Was At The
KJ Harper
and references to rape and a homophobic slur. should be setting up my tent before the sun fully sets. Time, the better you are at pool, the worse you tend to be at life.
I should be searching for firewood, looking for open Fucking loser. I think about how pathetic my checking
storage units. I should be— account is, how I should own my own island by now.
I suppose I should have waited. Maybe a week couldn’t have been a coincidence. If we’d still been “Malik. Yoohoo. What are you having?” I’m trying to remember how to rack when she rounds
or two. The housing crisis here is insane. People with together, sidekicks, as I always said, I would have set the “Sorry,” I respond, “whiskey sour.” the corner. I’m guessing her foot got caught in the
money are living in their cars, moving back to towns bookshelf down right in front of the TV and made a “No Amalie?” he asks, and the question suddenly feels carpet. By the time I sense her presence, she is already
they hate, their irritating parents moving shit from scene, and she would have laughed in that charming, profoundly invasive to me, truly irritating, even though mid-flight, slanting toward the hardwood, drink in
the basement to the garage. I blame the Californians, obnoxious way which I already know will come to haunt he’s got every right to ask it. one hand, the other arm flailing, but I am squatted at
the fucking Californians, but Amalie tells me its more me for years. She would have slapped me in the ass “She’s meal prepping,” I say. the edge of the table so there is nothing I can do. The
complicated than that. Blame land shortages, blame and called me a walnut, something like that. Can you This one’s much more whiskey than sour, probably plastic cup makes contact first, creating a geyser of ice
labor shortages, blame low-interest rates, blame ask the person you just dumped to help you move the for the better. I scan the bar, which is fairly busy for a cubes and vodka Red Bull.
material shortages, blame the pandemic. It wouldn’t be heavy shit? She knows I have a faulty back so I think the Wednesday. The temperature finally breaks ninety and She’s fortunate no one else had been around to capture
fair for me to point out that Amalie herself, came from answer is more nuanced than you initially thought. She everybody needs to see each other. the tragedy with a phone. She’d surely have gone viral—
California, a mere six years ago, so I won’t mention that. turns the volume down so I can tell her that it won’t all There’s a table of four: younger twenty-somethings, the way the contents of her drink came right back down
Bias aside, she may have a point, but it’s much easier to fit, I’ll have to leave the topper in the garage because it one of them could be nineteen, and they’ve got twenty on one side of her face. The other cheek smudged up
blame the Californians. won’t all fit and then I’ll come back tomorrow or the piercings between them. Lots of pontification. I get to say against the floor.
I should have waited to break things off, but it really day after to get it. She turns the volume back up which the word because I am one, a thin, tattooed girl says. Faggot, I have to wonder if she’s dead, but only for a moment,
did feel selfish to do so. I never did figure out what I regard as an “okay.” faggot, faggot. Laughter. I notice Thoreau’s face, beard because she doesn’t move at first. She just lies there
purpose I served for Amalie. She’s very type A—she I’m headed for a place I call Donut Road, a lazily and all, inked on her left shoulder and I decide I like her. motionless, and you might want to trace her body with
runs every morning, she does her laundry every week, maintained logging road that stretches for miles and I’m not sure I’d want to own a face like his on my body. a piece of chalk if you had a sense of humor.
most of her plants are still alive, she uses a physical, miles in the mountains. This here, this is where I take An older woman, cowboy hat, trying to figure out I approach cautiously, extending a hand.
paper planner, and she gets visibly angry when we get a right, this is where I make my way up through a how to work the jukebox. I don’t want to say she doesn’t She finally turns onto her back and gazes up at me,
stuck behind fat shoppers at the supermarket. Our first residential neighborhood where every other lawn has belong here, but she doesn’t. Obviously tanked, she that empty look in her eyes that I’m sure you’re familiar
date took place at a little spot downtown called Flask, a sign saying “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here,” but sways like a cattail in the wind, and I wonder if it’s with.
which, ironically, did not serve liquor. I showed up early instead I flip my blinker off and I continue down SW possible that she doesn’t know where she is. “I’m a raging alcoholic,” she says matter-of-factly, and
(a rarity) waiting at the table with a sour. She sat down Higgins instead. This happens frequently. My choices Two guys at a table in the corner. A black man with then she tilts her head back and laughs, and it’s pathetic
with a kombucha, and I immediately began questioning feel as though they’re made for me. Am I indecisive? thick, black-rimmed glasses and perfect teeth. The other and beautiful. Or maybe I’m just relieved to see a smile.
whether we’d make it to a second date. Impulsive? I cannot say for sure, but these pivots change guy, Middle Eastern, sports a plain white tee with denim She takes my hand and I pull her to her feet, almost
I won’t provide a list of my own type B tendencies. my life for the better or the worse, just like any other overalls, and I wonder if double-taking makes me racist thinking better of it because she seemed safer on the
You’ll come to see them for yourself, and perhaps you’ll decision we could possibly make, right? I’m gonna in some way. floor. She’s on the Titanic, but instead of “Nearer, My
also feel inclined to applaud me for valiantly embracing keep going, keep going until I can find the first bar The only other interesting person of note is a lanky- God, To Thee,” it’s Baby Keem. Overwhelming, to say
homelessness in order to euthanize what we both failed with an open parking space. It’s the Golden Rose, a looking guy, maybe thirty, in a booth by himself. He’s the least. She gestures for my arm, and when I offer it
to vocally acknowledge as a malignant relationship. smaller place known for the soft red glow of the neon wearing a Radiohead shirt, but obviously this isn’t she shoves me away and cackles.
The creature had four functioning legs, but cancer had lights that wrap around the top of the walls. It’s also interesting. His face is flat and emotionless, yet I can see “What’s your name,” she says, more of a statement
already taken the heart, and then the throat, and the known for the person, likely a transgender woman or a the glint of where the tears continue to fall. He glances than a question, but before I can answer she interrupts.
mind was presumably next. crossdressing man, who wears floral blouses and dresses, at me, but he doesn’t care, he doesn’t care that I can see, “I’m Parker. Winner buys me a new drink.”
I didn’t expect her to kick me to the curb right then who likes to sit on a rolled-up sleeping bag outside the so he puts his chin in his hand and his indifferent gaze The games go fairly quickly. I have to remind her once
and there, because she is, unquestionably, a good person, entrance with their backpack and their dog, where they returns to the front door. or twice that she can only hit the cue ball. She knows
but here I am, somewhat aimlessly driving in a ’92 Ford make conversation with anyone willing to pause. It And so we’ve got another question of morality on our this, but she doesn’t care. I did not come here to play
Ranger whose odometer stopped working at 229,884 typically isn’t regrettable, stopping to chat. They’re very hands—do I sit next to the man? Console him? I always babysitter, so I move from singles to doubles. I know I
miles. She did not cry. Just bit her lip while she watched knowledgeable about a wide variety of topics. Cars, considered it incredibly rude to cry around others, but won’t catch up with her, even when I do start ordering
me haul my shit from upstairs, around the kitchen table, fashion, guns, the medicinal uses of various plants. his grief appears to be reserved for himself and himself her Red Bulls sans vodka. She doesn’t notice, of course,
through the living room (where she occupied the couch, Tonight they just ignore me, grunting in response to only. He isn’t trying to hide it, but he isn’t trying to she is immersed in these moments and she dances with
pretending to watch a documentary about NASA) and my question. Maybe something is wrong, maybe the display it either. I try my best to put myself in his shoes them, as Baby Keem becomes Kendrick, as Kendrick
out the front door. She did not pick up on the hints burden of homelessness is finally dampening their usual for a moment or two, and decide to leave him alone. I becomes EARTHGANG. She mentions her father
when I got to the mahogany bookshelf, a side project I cheery disposition. Maybe something is wrong. choose to shoot pool instead. several times throughout the night, saying he’s “hella
was supposed to finish refinishing several months ago. I take one last glance at my rig before reaching for Fortunately, there’s only one table, and it’s in an dead,” and I assume it’s a metaphorical death because
Surely she heard me, breathing loud and heavy and the door handle. My belongings, my fresh displacement, empty room around the corner. I’m old enough to drink she laughs vibrantly every time she reminds me. I ask
saying fuck, but she chose to turn up the volume which on display for everyone to see. The shame passes

36 37
her where her friends are, why is she here alone, and she Creek,” she says, and before I can say sorry she’s hoisting waves of color and sound, that I finally notice the bitter I love you. Care package, care package do not steal my
shrugs, says maybe they’re in the bathroom doing lines. the small baggy up into my face. “Have you seen my taste of chemicals oozing down the back of my throat. fucking care package.”
“ARE YOU TIRED,” she says, and I shake my head. friends?” she asks. This is a good thing, of course, only mucus escorting “I gotta piss,” she says. “My room is downstairs.”
“ME TOO,” she says, “I NEED A PICKMEUP,” I can feel my face begin to numb, especially my teeth, powdered incitation from my head to my stomach. She’s gone before I can ask where the stairs are. I
and I play along, because that’s what I’ve been doing and I wonder if this means it’s good or maybe its just cut Trazodone would lose this battle, at least for now, but it’s wander toward a large bookcase in the living room.
all night, allowing this woman to hear whatever it is that with benzocaine. okay because the last thing I want is sleep. The last thing I’ve always considered a bookcase as a peephole into
suits her, because she is a deadly hurricane and I love “The little hipsters at the table? Piercings?” I want is to stumble around in the darkness, trying to a person’s mind, and possibly even their heart, if that
to swim. She ponders for a moment and shrugs again. Dips the erect a multifarious tent, a process that nearly requires doesn’t sound too dramatic. She’s got lots of James
“BATHROOM,” she says. spoon. two people despite its capacity for one. Patterson, the newly-infamous Rowling, Tolkien,
“Okay,” I respond. “I’ll wait here for you.” “This place sucks. Let’s bounce.” But of course we’re trading places again, she says Dostoevsky, Toni Morrison, Melville, Sedaris, a few
“NO,” she says, laughing again, “LET’S GO TO I assume she means the bar, that she wants to navigate, she’s ready to deflate. tacky self-help books, Stephen Hunter, Stephen King,
THE BATHROOM.” but she only meant the bathroom. “Let’s go back to yours,” she says. She offers me a Stephen Crane, everything Gillian Flynn, she’s got some
She points toward the little black square. A primitive “I wanna shake it up,” she says, “I’m feelin’ lucky.” cigarette. I hadn’t even realized how much I needed one Rupi Kaur, Stephanie Meyer, and a bunch of other shit
figure with a triangle for a dress. We take two chairs at the counter, next to Thoreau until now. by people I’ve never heard of. What do you think?
“No,” I respond. “No, I um, no.” Tattoo Girl. I can’t hear but Parker leans in, whispers She doesn’t seem like the outdoorsy type. How to, I’m not too sure, either. It’s hard to say what might be
She scrunches up my t-shirt in her fist, and leads me to a few words into her ear, and the two begin kissing, how to, how to make a tent sound appealing. I struggle hers and what might be her brother’s.
the men’s room instead. I think of a VICE documentary violently, while I tap my leg against the foot of my chair. to come up with a lie, so I settle for an excuse. “It’s a I hear her walking down the hallway, and I hurriedly
on scopolamine I saw a few years back. The drug is TTG pulls away suddenly. “My girlfriend is outside. shitshow. I’d be embarrassed to let anyone see it.” find something else to look at, something less invasive.
extracted from nightshade plants, and used for nefarious She’ll be fucking pissed. It was nice to meet you.” She “Do I look like the sorta person to care about what I settle on a photo above the fireplace mantle. Parker
purposes in places like Columbia and Ecuador. Devil’s looks to me. “Make sure she’s safe tonight, ‘kay?” your house looks like? We’ll leave the lights off if you’re and her brother on either side of her father, his eyes
Breath, or, “The World’s Scariest Drug,” they called I nod, not knowing what to say. I am 28 years old, so so bothered.” closed tight in laughter. It looks fairly fresh by the looks
it, because of its immense potency and its ability to if anyone should feel unsafe at 1 AM on a Wednesday— “Where do you live?” I ask. of Parker, as if it could’ve been taken last week. Her
renders its victims unconscious for several hours at a no, Thursday—it’s me. “Up in Miller Creek,” she says, and I wince, thinking brother is a handsome guy,
time. The drug can be absorbed via the skin, in small Parker asks for another vodka Red Bull and the dice. about how many cops we’d have to elude to make it to She finds me standing there, staring there, staring at
doses, and just like that, you’re fucking done, poof, your It’s a new bartender, much older than the last one. the opposite end of town. Dumb little guppies in shark- her past, and only snorts.
sense of free will is gone. You’re under hypnosis. Those “One outta one thousand two hundred ninety-six,” he infested waters. “C’mon,” she says. “I’ll show you how stairs work.”
who employ the drug can get you to empty your savings says, as he slides the cup across the counter. “Pot is three “I’ll get an Uber,” I say, reaching for my pocket, but It isn’t long before she’s straddling me, a dummy-
account while they wait outside the bank. They could hundred sixty-one bucks. You get two rolls.” she bats it away. glazed look in her eyes. It doesn’t matter how attractive
watch while you load a U-Haul with your personal Parker takes the cup and shakes it and she shakes it “No seriously I can drive just fine,” she says, still I find her, I spend the next three and a half minutes with
belongings. They could rape you. They could do lots and she shakes it. The bartender sighs. She lifts the cup violently slurring her esses. “But I can almost guarantee my eyes closed, thinking of Amalie.
of things, and although I’m certain Parker isn’t an to her face and gives it a kiss. my house’ll be messier than yours.”
Ecuadorian drug lord who wants to rob me, I’m not all Four dice end up on the floor, two on the counter. Five I want to argue, to insist that there’s no reason not
that sure why I’m letting her take the driver’s seat. She five’s and one six. to get a lift, but she says she refuses to leave her car
isn’t conventionally attractive, at least not to me, but I’ve “That doesn’t count,” she snaps, “these counters are downtown.
never been one for that kind anyway. She’s short, maybe too small.” “Too many break-ins lately, and if that doesn’t happen
5’2” or 5’3” with circular glasses and crooked teeth. Just “You still have one turn,” he says, bending over to I’ll just show up to a parking ticket.”
a couple years younger than me, twenty-five or six if I retrieve the dice. I guess I’m just glad she doesn’t ask about my car,
remember correctly. Her skin is pasty and drippy with Same ritualistic over-shaking of the dice, but this time which also happens to be my house. I give in, and
sweat. Her eyes are wide and intense, as though some she gives two quick kisses. She rolls five sixes and one after at least fifteen minutes of searching for her Kia
sort of atrocity occurs everywhere she looks. Everything five. She scoffs and hands the cup back to the bartender. Forte (bright red, with lots of bumper stickers, she says
she regards seems to hold a significance of sorts, and He lifts the cup to me and tilts it, a kinetic question. repeatedly) we are on our way to southwest Missoula.
that must be what it is, I decide, it’s the eyes, and the way I shake my head. Gambling is for fools. I’m more of She does surprisingly well, taking extra care to avoid
they betray her take on the unfolding of things. a betting man, myself. Football, basketball, women’s potholes, curbs, and parked cars. Her house isn’t what
A man is whistling as he uses the urinal. He glances tennis. I’ve convinced myself that there is something I expected either; it’s a gray, two story home with faux
back at the pair of us, and returns to his business as if to be seen, with a keen enough eye, when it comes to stone siding on the bottom half, a two-car garage, and
there is nothing unusual about a small woman dragging sports, but if you’d seen my win-loss percentage for the neatly trimmed junipers beneath the patio.
a man twice her size into the handicapped stall. Her year you’d wonder how I get around without a probing “My brother is a gamer so we don’t need to whisper,”
hands are shaking, and I realize I’ve been holding my cane. she says as she leads me toward the patio.
breath. I can’t say for how long. She’s got a small metal “I hate getting close,” she mutters. “It pisses me off. I don’t know what to make of this, but it becomes
spoon on her keyring—very cute, but yet another red Let’s go.” clear to me as soon as we open the front door.
flag to add to the list. It is while we are fighting our way to the door, “YOU’RE AN INCEL, DARREN” he yells. I feel
“Last year he hung himself from a tree, up in Miller swimming through a tangle of pheromones, through myself tense up until he continues, “Just kidding buddy,

38 39
Rilie Tane Zumbrennan

40 41
Mourning Montana
Daniel Lurie

Montana, I get to see your face before it breaks

the day. Golden light slips out of night, creeping

across the sage grass, peeling the sleep from a herd

of antelope. A crow clutches a barbed wire fence

in a death grip. At peace, a creek slips out

the corner of your lips and I see everything

I could’ve been. Every time I return,

you’re a little something else. Thinning

ponderosas; boarded up storefronts.

I don’t recognize the faces around you—

giggles and galleries. Elk bugles no longer

carried in the wind. I can’t see the mountains,

the Big Sky, buildings so high. You roll over

and lets out a sigh, and I see your eyes flutter

and open in a flurry. How much longer before

I look at you and you aren’t staring back?

lynn Shield

42 43
Rilie Tane Zumbrennan
44 45
Brittney uecker

In the lab lays

a partial subadult skeleton, three to six years old,
soft and green and, well, partial
disconnected dots of just the ideas of bones
carpals and tarsals like beads of a broken necklace
teacups of a sexless pelvis
tiny joints swimming in sockets
truly, truly breakable.

At this age, sex is indeterminate.

At this age, age is only a range.
At this age, the skeleton is so malleable
that death doesn’t leave a mark.
Sickness, injury, pain is resorbed
in hopes that there are more slights and
resiliencies to come.

I can see where the bones would give way,

the point where they would splinter—
greenstick, torsion.
Paper thin scapulae, peeking fontanel,
ossifying outward, puddles of hard bone reaching
to the little handful where the heart would beat
taps against the fleck of a sternum,
tinkling like a bell.

We harden. Life hardens us, on a species level.

We learn to become heartier.
Soft goes brittle,
cracks build up to a shatter,
until a tap feels like a wrecking ball.

I thought that death would break me of bones,

but it was having a child that made me see them differently,
see that love is the violence you could cause but don’t.

I lay the skull back in its box—

gentle, as if it had organs, blood—
gather limbs like a bundle of sticks
Dana Barnes like I’m building a fire,
scoop tiny beginnings into my palm
and deposit in the velvet.
I flip the clasp, slide it back onto the shelf.

The violence you could cause but don’t is love.

46 47
lynn Shield

48 49
The Listing Cyanide
Daniel Lurie Daniel Lurie

I used to fire concrete screws at the murder, This is just to say, the crabapples I gathered

until I got tired of pulling the shotgun from my lips. for you have started to rot. They aren’t poisonous,

not even the seeds, or core,

This tired is yours now. Almost killed my mother. until mixed with a living creature.

Pry up the floorboards; patch my sisters’ mouths.

In winter, you lay next to me and peeked

Keep a candle lit in each of the yawning maws. out the slats of the widow at the weary

Sew your gaslight into the belly of these walls. tree. You asked if I thought it would flower
next year. I spit seeds from my mouth

In an evening undone, in a wisp of smoke, before answering.

just let the spider in the downstairs bathroom be.

All we got are bodies in the backyard,

but we’ll try to sell you on good bones.

50 51
Waiting on Manifest Destiny
Daniel Lurie

52 53
New Year's Eve
Brittney uecker

This will be the year

that my body hurts with purpose
that I thrum with patient life
and I quit counting days like rosary beads.

This will be the year

that the land is supple and forgiving
that we are kind and contrite
and hellfire goes back to hell.

This will be the year

that we give the benefit of the doubt
that star-crossed lovers are no longer crossed
and everybody has somebody.

This will be the year

that words flow direct from heart to mouth
that they are soft in their delivery
and stitch together like a healed wound.

This will be the year

that you don’t poison yourself
that you dry out like a sheet on a line
and you whip in the wind with controlled abandon.

This will be the year

that I paint my nails once in a while
that I concede to cut off my hair
and let my age recklessly calcify.

This will be the year

that I won’t recognize a year from now
that renders last year an eon
and graveyard dirt packs under my nails.

Craig Botnen

54 55
Contributor Biographies
Laura Meintjes was born and raised in Plano, Texas. She went to the same school, the same church, and had
the same family and friends until a move to California as a teenager made her realize that not much in this life is
permanent. Her desire to create art grew stronger as an adult and she studied art in several states before landing
Brittney Uecker is a writer, librarian, and Scorpio currently in Lewistown, Montana. Her fiction and poetry has
in Billings, Montana where she was introduced to watercolor painting and finished her degree in 2020. She now
appeared in HAD, Taco Bell Quarterly, Pile Press, and elsewhere and is a Best of the Net nominee for fiction. She is
favors the medium and though she is in a busy stage of family life, she sets aside time to wrestle with big concepts of
@bonesandbeer on the internet.
the human condition and puts her findings onto paper. Laura’s art reflects her love of people and places that signify
where we find meaning and purpose in the temporary spaces we exist in.
A former athlete and coach, Craig Botnen only discovered his artistic talent due to an injury that left him
A rtist Statement: I am drawn to the “in-between spaces” we pass through in life that ultimately point
permanently sidelined. The Billings native specializes in Suburban Street Photography and excels at finding beauty
to our temporary existence. I combine imagery from real stories with my own symbolic visual language that has
in the “mundane.” You can find him walking around Billings at any given time wearing his headphones taking
developed in my work as I’ve explored the underlying patterns and interconnections that exist in conditions of
pictures. A sampling of his work can be found on Instagram
displacement. This layered perspective reveals a vulnerability that we can all relate to and fosters compassion for the
Dana Barnes has been a nurse for almost 12 years. He loves the mountains and has always enjoyed being outside,
especially hiking. He has always wondered how he could share these experiences with others. As a result, he picked
Lynn Shield is a self-taught artist based in Billings, Montana. She began drawing and painting as a young girl.
up photography a couple of years ago and now tries to capture the beauty of creation for others to enjoy. He loves
Throughout her career, she used her creative and business skills as a marketing professional in the aerospace industry,
to share these adventures with his three children who are his biggest fans. When taking portraits, he enjoys using the
and later in her own small marketing and web design firm.
colors of nature to complement the client and bring out who they truly are. His work can be seen on Facebook at
Living in Montana and retiring from her business has given Lynn time to focus on painting. Her use of
Barn Door Creations Photography, on Instagram @barn_door_creations, and at his website
traditional watercolors as well as Brusho® watercolour crystals create the rich vibrant hues in her work. She also
creates unique, colorful abstract florals using alcohol inks. Most recently, she has completed some stunning black and
Daniel Lurie is a Jewish, rural writer from Roundup, Montana. He attended Montana State University Billings,
white larger scale oils. When she isn’t painting, Lynn enjoys traveling with her life partner, Jeff.
where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communications. He is currently in his second year at the
A rtist Statement: “I love color! Using Brusho® watercolour crystals and alcohol inks opened a whole new
University of Idaho, pursuing an MFA in poetry. Daniel is passionate about the environment, human rights, rural
world for me. Both mediums have stunning, vibrant colors, which have helped mold my signature “style” of painting
life, and conceptualizing grief. He is the Poetry Editor for Fugue. His work has appeared in The Palouse Review, The
Montana wildlife and abstract florals. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t paint something. I guess you could say I have
Rook, Sidewalk Poetry, and most recently in Moscow’s Third Street Gallery.
become addicted!”
After a few years working as a photographer, barista, bicycle mechanic, and various other things, Eric Warren
Rilie Tané Zumbrennan is a pyrography and mural artist, wife and mother, as well as a kindergarten through
enrolled in the creative writing program at the University of Montana. In his standard fashion, he bucked the
eighth grade art teacher in Billings, Montana. She has spent most of her life drawing and painting with acrylic
program’s expectations by turning in science fiction and fantasy stories while the other students were exploring
paints. In 2016, she was inspired by another artist to try pyrography. In addition to wood burning, she burns art onto
fiction that was considered more literary. Despite the challenges of workshopping pop-fiction stories in a high-fiction
hats and paints murals. Her most recent mural was a 4-story buffalo face on the north side of The Grand Building
program, he learned a tremendous amount about writing from those literary fiction students and instructors.
in downtown Billings. This mural shows her true love for wildlife and reflects the colors found in her wood burnings.
After a few years of learning craft and publishing short stories, Eric took a turn down a different literary
Born and raised in Montana, Rilie has been influenced by the beauty of the outdoors. She enjoys wood burning and
path—one focused on travel and adventure. He began publishing travel articles, incorporating his earlier degree in
painting animals and landscapes the most. Wood burning allows her to give more texture to her pieces, rather than
photography and then expanding into travel filmmaking. Eventually, his travel documentaries became documentaries
using paint alone. Pyrography has allowed her creativity to grow immensely because when she makes a mistake, she
about education, the arts, and the environment leading to a People’s Choice award at Magic City Shorts Film Festival
cannot erase; she is forced to transform the mistake into something beautiful. As an artist, she is interested in creating
for Saving the Stockman and screenings for his other films at festivals around the world.
works that allow viewers to relate to the same extent as her involvement in each piece. Find her on Instagram @
While he racked up some successes, he needed to get back to his first love, building worlds out of words. As a
rilie_tane_art, on Facebook at Rilie Tané Art, and on her website:
storyteller, Eric uses his experience with film and photography to create vibrant, cinematic scenes and characters that
lead you to unexpected places.
Shirley Marin is a Latina/Chicana artist who was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She and her family
relocated to Montana a year ago in hopes of a slower paced life and better opportunity for their little one. She has
Grace Kelton is a current MFA candidate at University of Montana in Missoula. She grew up in Northern
been photographing everyone and everything from family portraits, military homecomings, abstract images, concerts
Vermont and have spent her adult life in an extremely rural town in Central Washington. I am so pleased to now be
and has been published in an obscure music magazine. When she’s not busy having an existential crisis, she is home
living and writing in Montana!
reading, writing, plotting her next global adventure and spending time with her family. If you’d like to visit her
website you can visit It is currently under construction (much like her life) but includes
K. Felician lives in Missoula, Montana with her cat. She is a graduate student studying environmental philosophy,
some of her previous work.
and she works as coordinator for a literacy education nonprofit. In her spare time, she runs a creative writing
mentorship program for middle school students. You can follow her on Instagram @kat.alyyst.

Kean Christensen is a photographer based out of Billings, Montana. He is on Instagram @kidkrewl_photo or

@UAVisualsMT and on his websites: and

KJ Harper is an aspiring novelist in Missoula, MT. They are a single parent to several houseplants and a cat named

56 57
Feverdream Magazine Editorial staff Past Issues

Editor-in-chief, Designer Issue 1

Brie Barron is specializing in literature, linguistics, sociology, and environmental 2020
studies at Montana State University Billings, and is the mother to two children
who are, in fact, the best. She has been a winner of Sigma Tau Delta’s MSUB featuring the work of Haley Barthuly, Del Curfman, Daniel
poetry contest three years running and her work has been published in Up the
Staircase Quarterly, MSUB’s The Rook, and Criterion: A Journal for Literary Criticism.
Kessel, Jim Gransbery, Cara Chamberlain, Patrick Landry,
Most importantly, she can recite both of Mr. Darcy’s confessions of love in Pride & Precious McKenzie, Charlene Sleeper, Mary Uecker, and more.
Prejudice from memory.

poetry editor
Julie Schultz was born in Wyoming and grew up in Montana but left for college
at Boston University and stayed away for twenty years. After getting a master’s
degree in economics and pursuing a career in finance in New York, London, Issue 2
and Bermuda, she slowly came to believe that artificial intelligence could do
her job better than humans could. She decided to switch gears and moved
back to Montana in 2016, settling close to family in Billings. Luckily (because
books are sanity), an independent, cooperative bookstore opened shortly after featuring the work of Sheila Miles, Cara Chamberlain, Kat
Julie moved back, and she joined the board of This House of Books in 2018. Felician, Tavin Davis, Julie Schultz, Kati Sanford, Bryon
In addition to board responsibilities, she takes classes for fun at MSU Billings,
Rogers, Alanna Wulf, Clair Mikeson, and more.
hikes the trails at Four Dances, and loves all her friends’ pets. She also writes
poetry that has been published in Rattle. For more of her non-fiction writing, visit

Fiction Editor
Riley Netzley-Hale is an avid reader, passionate searcher for all things created Issue 3
from the soul, and an explorer of stories—bullying anyone she can to show her 2021
a bit of their humanity and passion. She is excited to start pursuing her own life
goals by working with the wonderful humans of FeverDream Magazine and grow in
featuring the work of Luke Ashmore, Linds Sanders, Kean
her own writing and editing skills.
Christensen, Gail Langstroth, Lyon Doyle, Dominick Vanderlip,
Dave Caserio, Noelle Sullivan, Samantha M. French, and more.

Staff Editor
Elizabeth Goffena is a junior at MSUB. Elizabeth is an English major, focusing on
Creative Writing. Her hobbies include writing, playing video games, and spending
too much money on books. She is excited to be a part of the talented team
working on FeverDream.

Issue 4
Staff Editor
featuring the work of Craig Lancaser, Nichole Davies, Flor
Rylee Treu is a senior at Montana State University Billings. She is currently
finishing her degree in English with an emphasis in literature. After graduation, Vega-Castillo, Amanda Zhou, Charlene Sleeper, Teresa Brown,
Rylee is hoping to earn her teaching license and teach in rural Montana. She Grayson Brown, Jordan Lefler, Jade E. Snell, and more.
enjoys reading copious amounts of nonfiction literature and cooking—but refuses
to follow a recipe.

Here, we ask only for the fragmented pieces

of yourself that you’ve immortalized in art.

We want to know where you have been

and where you are going.

The Montana that we know is treasured

for a reason—that’s you and everyone else,
if you look closely—and we’d like to
put it in print.

At the intersection of chaos and form,

where you meet the page, the pen,
the brush, the lens,

that’s where we’ll meet you.

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