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Strong, clear literature


Issue #1

Winter, 2013

5x5 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and literary magazine that publishes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by established and emerging writers. We publish twice a year (winter and summer), and each issue is theme-based. Submissions are accepted yearround, and simultaneous submissions are welcome, though we do ask that you notify us/withdraw your work should it be accepted elsewhere. Please visit for further information on submission guidelines. Š 2013 in the names of the individual authors. Subsequent rights revert to the author upon publication with the provision that 5x5 receives publication credit. Designed by S.J. Dunning

5x5 Editors

Co-Editors-in-Chief Jory Mickelson & S.J. Dunning Poetry Editor Jory Mickelson Fiction Editor Kristen Blanton Nonfiction Editor S.J. Dunning

Contents S.J. Dunning Letter from the Editor 1 Poetry Jory Mickelson Poetry Editor's Introduction 5 Melodee Jarvis Wine Tasting on the Bus 7 Joe Montesano Half My Blood 8 Diandre Frendimano Postcards of Montana 10 Colin Dodds Hestios in the Third Millenium 12

Tony Rivera Endemic 13 Fiction Kristen Blanton Fiction Editor's Introduction 16 Brendan Todt Stage Directions 18 Christina Yu A trip to China 20 James Epstein Practice for Flyfishing 23

James Patrick Carraghan Sleep 26 Eileen Maksylu In the Bleak Midwinter 29

Nonfiction S.J. Dunning Nonfiction Editor's Introduction 32 Elizabeth Thorpe Port Townsend 35 Katie Ellison (On) Leaving and Returning 37 Melissa Ferrone Field Guide 40 Erin Castle Thieves 43 Etc. Contributor Bios 47 5x5 Editors Summer, 2014 (Issue 1.2: Nostalgia) 52

Letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

When 5x5's former Editor-in-Chief, Bradley Wonder, announced his decision to let go the reins of this small magazine and offered to hand them to myself and my Co-Editor-in-Chief, Jory Mickelson, I didn't hesitate to grab hold. It’s not every day that one gets a chance to “steer” a magazine that already has a strong foundation of readers. That said, I must admit, looking back, that I reached a bit blindly for said reins. I wasn't totally oblivious to the responsibility I was assuming—I'd been 5x5's nonfiction editor since its last issue under Wonder's ward, and, in conjunction with my final year as an MFA candidate in University of Idaho's Creative Writing Program, I’d spent one year as the nonfiction editor for Fugue. I knew about deadlines, and corresponding with writers, and I’d at least begun to develop an editing "style" or "philosophy." But that didn’t mean I knew what it took to execute an issue in its entirety, let alone to even conceptualize its design. There were moments I banged my head against the proverbial wall, questioning my decision to assume the role of Co-Editor-in-Chief. Had I overestimated my resourcefulness, my 1

literary prowess, my wit? The answer: probably so. But I’d also underestimated the extent of the joy I’d discover once I stepped away from that “wall” or pushed beyond it in order to learn what it was I needed to in order to get to this point—to see the issue come to fruition. Whether I reached blindly or not, and despite the challenges I've faced along the way, I'm glad to have arrived here. Though the magazine has undergone the transformation from print to online, it remains what we hope is an inviting forum for emerging and established writers of strong, clear literature of 500 words or less. Because of this transformation and the "new" editorial team, we have chosen to begin counting the issues from "zero" or to call this "Issue 1.1." It's also worthy to note that our aim in the future is to publish each issue on or "around" each respective solstice (December 20th/21st and June 20th/21st). So be sure to mark your calendars accordingly! For iformation on our next issue, the theme of which is "nostalgia," please visit our website: Without further ado, I'll conclude this letter by saying that "Under Construction," the message that has been on our old website as a 2

means of warning writers that we have been undergoing a transformation, is less the theme of the pieces you're about to read than it is a caveat we're relieved to finally set aside. The Winter, 2014 issue of 5x5 (Issue 1.1) has been a long time coming, but it is the first of many more I hope to create with the help of my fellow editors, Jory and Kristen Blanton, and with the wealth of contributors of a wide variety of voices and styles, contributors who have remained ever so patient as they awaited the launch of this issue. Please enjoy your journey through this issue's contents, and don't hesitate to share that wealth with the writers and readers in your literary community and beyond. 5x5 might be small in terms of its literal size and its word count, but it's our belief that when it comes to the quality of literature, size is a moot point. Over and Out, S.J. Dunning


Readers, Every editor wants to say that she or he selects the best submissions without bias or allowing their own aesthetic preferences to influence them. At the time this may seem the truth, but hindsight tells the editor that this notion is pure twaddle. All the poems I selected speak about home, or more specifically are variations on what home can mean. Each explores how the speaker finds center both within themself and the landscape—imagined or real. I too hope you will find a home within one or two of these selections. Sincerely, Jory Mickelson 5x5 Co-Editor-in-Chief & Poetry Editor


Melodee Jarvis

Wine Tasting on the Bus This one is local: overtones of weed, undertones of gas. You pair it with Seroquel and a social work intern in over her head. Sweet, right? For dessert? Yes, but this morning is special because I’m thirty days clean. In the future, you will drink after eating. Be specific: You will drink after eating nothing. A girl removes her nail polish and acetone fills the accordion section where we stand cheek to armpit, in the gooey center. We cross what was jazz street. My home. I hold my breath while his yeast competes for and wins my attention. On his slick face, a mouth convulses into a grin, but no one watches.


Melodee Jarvis

Joe Montesano

Half My Blood I who had departed am nothing but a shadow come back…

I’ve studied their features in photographs, imagined how their hands were hardened by the plough, their arms and faces browned by the midday sun, how they worked fields more stone than earth, their tempers hewn by the hands of dearth. Over time they took the names of strong mountains even as their wives exclaimed that they’d just as soon be married to their spades. When they decided to trade their patch of Calabrian clay for a place in steerage along with the other luggage, they found, after paying for passage, their net worth was a handful of heirloom seeds and two tarnished lockets. On the fortieth night when the ship docked in Upper Bay, 8

they walked the gangway with the gait of new mariners, and their eyes were drawn not to the abundant lack of stars, but to a towering city of light, and they knew their far behind world, like the seeds in their pockets, would need to be buried in unfertile ground.


Joe Montesano

Diandre Prendimano

Postcards of Montana I once stood in burning grass and fell into an understanding of my mother her shopping lists made the sun go down and turned prayers into five-minute warnings nights we disappeared into thinking simply this is the way we are and somewhere we are dead and forever faded into simpleness— chucking a brick at an autumn sky many evenings the chunks like hope were scribbled into the corners of postcards of Montana this is what got her staring at the wall with her coffee every morning imagining my face strung out along a future 10

that used to be tenseless my flash of bones always traveling by bus the seats velvet red and cows herded out on the plains

11 Diandre Prendimano

Colin Dodds

Hestios in the Third Millennium Under the watch of the kitchen saints the window roars and the bedroom door possesses the strange magic to make you lonely The cable news says everyone went broke buying houses then one channel over the penalty for losing is being sent home


Colin Dodds

Tony Rivera

Endemic Chants echoing from Federal Plaza parrot la Iguaca de Puerto Rico channeled by descendants of a wave of migrants displaced with bufo lemur toads to the bioluminescent mapping of diaspora ‘cross the empire named for desecrating the bay of Vieques, and named again for the pipeline their signs disdain. NO AL GASODUCTO! echoes down Broadway in steel shading Wall Street dries on pavement flowered with wheezy Island nationalists born Bronx natives with El Yunque vines for veins. SAY NO TO FRACKING IN PUERTO RICO! 13

echo Iguaca in the heart’s cadence of Tiano who’ve received word of la “Via Verde” awaiting the army’s approval; the root of resistance the exclusion of people marching in trade winds against the next illegal displacement. Another struggle against a colony’s way ahead, pipeline to a perennial raising of the dead— this time the endemic species is bred outside its habitat, its nature a chant to save god from man.


Tony Rivera

Readers, I am so pleased to be a part of the Winter, 2013 issue of 5x5. This is my first issue as the Fiction Editor, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to carry on the journal's tradition of publishing microfiction, to work with writers who offer big stories, condensed. Defining the “short-short,” even deciding what to call it (microfiction? mini-fiction? short-short?), is an almost impossible task, and what of the choice of 500 words? How can something so small be so amorphous? My hope is that you’ll find the stories fulfilling as examples of the form, as I cannot define what exactly it is, other than words that will move you and stay with you, confined to a tiny space. Sincerely, Kristen Blanton 5x5 Fiction Editor


Stage Directions

Brendan Todt

I was teaching elementary school and directing the fourth

grade class play on the eruption of Vesuvius. There was one kid who was stuttering he was so nervous. He came up to me a few weeks into the production—I always like to give the kids plenty of time to practice—and he said he couldn’t remember his lines. “Remember, Damian, you don’t have any lines.” He looked at me and then asked how exactly the houses and gift shops fell down. He pointed to a few of the postcards I had purchased on eBay to bring into class as study guides. “Were they made of stone, earth, or hay?” he asked. If they were brick, how much mud and how much water were they? He was a very bright kid and it was really a shame he could not say a single word in front of an audience. I know it was mostly stone structures, I told him, and those usually fall down something like this. I did a little shimmy, starting slow in my shoulders, which worked its way down the length of my body until I ended up crouched on the waxed gymnasium floor. “You look like a SCUBA diver,” the kid told me. “Sure,” I said, “you can do it like a SCUBA diver. Or like a tree falling over in a forest, if you really want to.” “I don’t know,” he said. “That doesn’t seem 18

fair.” “What’s not fair about it?” I asked. I did the SCUBA shimmy for him again. “Well, I wasn’t there at Pompeii when the colcano erupted”—that was another reason I couldn’t give him any lines—“so how am I supposed to know how the buildings fell down?” “You should be happy you weren’t there when the buildings fell down,” I told him. “If you had been there you’d be dead.” “Oh,” he said. “So I can pretend like I’m there, like I’m a building and I’m actually there and I’m going to die.” “Damian, buddy,” I said, “you are going to die.”


Brendan Todt

A Trip to China

Christina Yu

After overhearing a conversation between adults about a fire

that destroyed a neighbor’s house during her vacation, two children decided to pack their most prized possessions into the suitcase they brought with them to China. This included sports medals, cherished toys and board-games, souvenirs from other vacations, arts and crafts projects, best-friend necklaces and membership pins, and framed photos of special events, all unbeknownst to their parents. With a sense of dread, the children waved goodbye to their home as they departed. After several transfers and a long nap in Alaska, they arrived in China and waited patiently at the baggage carousel for their suitcase to appear. Round and round the belt circled until all other travelers had gone͞ at last, a uniformed attendant came to tell the family their suitcase was lost. Over the next several days, the children fell into a stupor. Dazed by jet-lag and stricken with regret, the children were haunted by visions of corrupt airline workers touching and wearing and defiling their precious things. As they trudged over bridges and past monuments, they began to scrutinize the street vendors who laid out eclectic 20

assortments of goods at their feet. Hair-brushes, picture frames, stuffed animals, and cheap jewelry—all spread out on blanket after tattered blanket. While the family stood by the ruins of an ancient temple listening to a tour guide, the older of the children declared that she spotted the rubber doll she had lost, the exact same doll with its wobbly head and deflated stomach. Seeing an opportunity to comfort her children, the mother purchased the doll and, later, several other items that vaguely resembled those lost in the suitcase. Jolted out of their misery, the children filled a new suitcase with objects that resembled those packed in the original case, waking each morning to recognize the familiar in everything around them. Concerned that the children were taking their assumptions too far, the parents were almost relieved to leave China and return to the states. Waiting on their doorstep, battered and stained as if it had been dragged through all the seas and deserts of the world, was the lost suitcase. Opening it with a key (which the children realized dimly should have prevented the theft they had imagined) they discovered their old possessions packed there in perfect, if damp 21

condition. Their joy was soon swamped by a terrible nervousness; their first impulse was to tuck the old suitcase away and assume the new foreign objects into their lives in place of the old ones. In the midst of this confusion, they gazed around, and it occurred to them that the objects in their own home—the cloisonne vase, landscape painting, and grasshopper figurines—might once have been the prized possessions of faraway people. Wandering through the maze of once familiar objects, they were overcome with a mad desire to send everything back to its rightful owner.


Christina Yu

Pratice for Fly Fishing

James Epstein

In the hospital Yon is standing next to his bed. It’s one of six

in a hallway that runs between the elevator and a desk. Fabric like shower curtain separates them. His skin is yellow under the blue paper gown he wears and tubes run from his arm like veins. He’s got a problem with his sinus; some blockage swelled and started pressing in a cavity. It made his forehead puff like bread. He has cotton wool jammed into his nostrils. I watch him taste the flesh of a pear, letting the juice pool around his lips before inhaling it through his teeth. “Rags are raw chicken,” he tells me pointing at a lunch tray with his small finger. I nod as he uses a surgical packet like floss to slide pieces of pear skin from between his teeth. He opens his hands and holds them over his cheeks. “They went in through here,” he says with his fingers below his eyes before running them down his cheeks like a melt. He tells me they cut out a tumour and that now his nose won’t stop bleeding. He throws his head back to crack a bone, smiles and sits. “Your horse is running today,” I say looking into his eyes, bruises like shade spreading from beneath a patch. Yon calls it his 23

horse but he doesn’t own it, he just follows it, bets on it. The horse’s name is House of God. I’m here to take him to the sportsman’s club. “I am excited, I can feel the pool of old medicine in my stomach” he says pulling his shoes with his toes. He whirls his hands through an open bag on the stained linoleum floor and pulls out his wallet. Without changing from his hospital robe, Yon stands and starts walking pulling his IV stand behind him. Outside we walk through an alley that cuts to the main road. Yon kicks a pile of stones and I can see a puddle the shape of Tasmania. The stones skid through the water sending droplets that catch the light of the sun like sparks. The land on the road and begin to roll like mercury. Yon parks his IV next to a bicycle that’s chained up. He pulls out two needles from his forearm and starts whipping the hoses. “This is practice for fly fishing,” he says looking out towards the traffic. He kneels and ties the two hoses around the front wheel of the bike and tells me that it’s safe. Inside the club Yon feeds the machine with snacks worth two hundred dollars and presses the buttons that confirm his bet on House of God. Seventy televisions screen the race, a high pitched man calls out of a speaker and we 24

have a show. The horses blur 1280 meters, House of God places second and Yon’s ticket turns into confetti. Outside I can hear Eastern music as I watch Yon untangle his medication from the spokes of a wheel.


James Espstein


James Patrick Carraghan

It was a blistering kind of heat, both inside and outside the

apartment. The white walls, rather than deflecting the heat, seemed to absorb it, and the fans did nothing to dissipate the heat, only push it from one corner of the room to the other. She was sitting on the bed, with her second-hand guitar, trying to play the first few notes of “Ziggy Stardust.” He was standing on the fire escape, just outside the window, with a tapemeasure. “It’s close enough,” he said. “It just might work.” She jumped up and came to him. Between the two of them, they had one complete outfit--he was wearing pajama bottoms without a top, and she was wearing one of his long t-shirts and panties. She surveyed his work, mentally measuring the balcony of the fire escape. The mattress was large enough to fit comfortably on the fire escape, but small enough that, if turned on its side, it would fit through the open window. The two of them lifted it up, pushed it from one small end of the apartment to the other, and began working it through the window and out the balcony. 26

“Outside is better than inside,” both thought as they pushed one end of the mattress out, forcing it to flip horizontally on the fire escape and make the entire thing shake. He pushed the mattress flat against the railing with his leg, then stepped outside, onto the fire escape, held on to the railing and jumped on the mattress until it was flat. “Get the pillows,” he said. “Don’t forget the alarm clock.” She threw the pillows at him; one almost fell onto the sidewalk as he awkwardly attempted to catch it with one free hand. “Be careful there.” “Don’t worry.” She brought the sheet with her, wrapped around her like a kimono, and draped the free end of it around him, pulling him into the bed sheet. The alarm clock was wedged between two bars, just within reach. She leaned into him, and the two of them fell onto the mattress, which clamored again on the grating. A neighbor looked out at them from across the courtyard. The sun was going down, and finally there was a wisp of a breeze coming up, a wind passing through on the streets below. “Do you know how long this is supposed to last?” she asked, her leg curled around his. 27

“Weatherman says that rain should come by next week.” “That’s so vague. And that’s what he said last week.” The two of them fell asleep, deeper and deeper into sleep as the sun went down and the moon rose overhead. They slept until the rain began.

28 James Patrick Carraghan

In the Bleak Midwinter

Eileen Maksym

Snow fell on the end of the world. It wasn't the end of the

Earth. The planet would go on spinning idly in space, as it had for billions of years since its fiery beginning, as it would for billions of years until its fiery end, when it returned to the embrace of the Sun from whence it came. It was, however, the end of life on earth, the end of world as concept, since the minds that carried the concept were fading into a soft darkness. A little boy in a red parka ran along the sidewalk in a town like any other scattered over the globe. His parents walked behind him slowly. They knew the significance of this unseasonal snow. Knew what each flake carried as it floated down from the great swathes of gray that covered the land and prevented the sunlight from reaching and warming the surface. The parents held hands. They had decided not to tell the little boy about the end of the world. About the reason for the snow. About what the next few days held in store for them, as they and everyone they knew succumbed to the poison, or hunger, or simple despair. The boy stopped in a baseball field. It was empty of other 29

children, and covered with snow. He leaned down and began to shove the snow into a ball. As his parents stood and watched, he rolled the ball over the ground, building it up, until he had the bottom part of a snowman. The two adults joined in then, helping the boy create the figure out of the softly glowing snow. Then the boy started throwing snowballs. The parents smiled and joined in the play. Others were at home, hiding from the weather, determined to eke out the couple more days of survival that avoiding direct contact would give them. The boy's parents didn't see the point. So they ran, and played with their son, and laughed through their tears. Finally, worn out, the boy flopped into the snow, his arms and legs outstretched. He flapped them, up and down, creating a snow angel. His parents watched as the snowflakes drifted lazily down, covering their son, a slow burial. Silently they lay down on either side of him, grasped his hands, and gazed up into the heavens.


Eileen Maksym

Readers, I'm honored to welcome you to the nonfiction portion of the Winter issue of 5x5. I've taken great pleasure in working with each of these writers in the process of preparing their essays, all of which I've come to admire not only for their masterful use of language and surprising images, but also for their ability to depict personal experiences in such a way that these experiences resonate with universal concerns such as loss, time, inheritance, childhood innocense, home. This issue isn't themed, per se, but there does seem to be a "ghostly" or ethereal atmosphere surrounding the nonfiction selections, an atmosphere demonstrative in Elizabeth Thorpe's "Vapor of words...the mouth won’t open wide enough to say," and in Erin Castle's exploration of what it means, in her family, to be a "theif" of time. In between those essays, you'll enjoy Katie Ellison's meditation on rootedness and travel and Melissa Ferrone's meditation on a mother's walk with her daughter through a wintery wood. Though markedly unique in style and tone and storyline, these essays share in their transcendence of the reader into a realm 32

where the unsayable can, indeed, be said


Sincerely, S.J. Dunning 5x5 Co-Editor-in-Chief & Nonfiction Editor


Port Townsend

Elizabeth Thorpe

In the place of ghosts. Lines of rooms with light switches on the

outside, reverberation of shouted orders, toe to heel, brass pins pinned straight on thick wool uniforms. Rooms that housed the broken ones, the frightened ones. The ones tucking packs of cigarettes under their mattresses. The ones smudging the ink on letters from their mothers. The ones drawing pictures in the margins, of breasts, of racecars, of the freighters passing through the channel they see blurred through salt-stained windows. At night, the spray of stars over the parade grounds, the tall trees bobbing and weaving in the wind, the bell buoy clanging lonely, lonely, lonely. A cruise ship lit up huge and silent, rounding the point of the lighthouse, the lighthouse big and then small and then big again. Beyond, the bunkers pitchdark-silent, graffiti on their inner walls, swastikas and peace signs. Ghost of touch on skin, a hair rising in a follicle. Ghost of dew soaking into clothes, ghost of would kissing you make it better or worse? Ghost of not good enough, not brave enough, not special. 35

Ghost of what does it matter? Vapor of words read slow, hypnotic, of words read wild-eyed, of words the mouth won’t open wide enough to say. The ghost-body sea glass, rolled again and again through rocks bigger and stronger, all sides diminished. We return to the place of ghosts, hard yellow grass poking through our shoes, mist sweeping around the trim white buildings, crows on the picnic table fighting for trash. We return, and we are paint over paint over paint on a broad white deck. We are skin on flesh on bone.


Elizabeth Thorpe

(On) Leaving and Returning

Katie Ellison

In Panama’s plucked mango trees, toucans with beaks orange

and red and green, with feathers satin black, watched me through little bulbous eyes, never making a sound. In Hungary, bare branches cut the gray January sky into puzzle pieces. Atop a soft mountain in Spain, a forest blanket of pine stretched across the layered slopes below, hushing my vista as the sun went down. I leaned against Vienna’s cherry trees in early Spring, listening without understanding to pink-haired, pierced, and leathered folks chatting and smoking hashish. Under Mumbai’s ancient banyans—nearly black with smog and soot—it seemed the hollows might yawn wide enough to tell stories of the corner chai cart, of bicycle accidents in the street—who had come and gone from a jewelry shop’s doors. There, a pigeon swept so low its belly brushed the crown of my head, its feet my scalp, as if to warn me not to think too hard about business that might not be understood over many lifetimes. Beyond a tangled tunnel of leaves and branches, Ireland’s fields shimmered like the ocean I’d left behind, and a small herd of white horses trotted away from the sudden appearance of a foreigner. 37

I’d left Los Angeles hungry for contrast to its spot-lit billboards and waxed cars, wanting to escape its sparse scene of palm trees posted between wide roads and thin clouds like the pillars of a TV empire, producing fantasies I could no longer believe, an empire blockaded by white mansions the walls of which kept out a sea of poverty and struggle I was helpless to change or ignore. I traveled widely and for a long time, a stranger balancing upon the rolling earth with quick steps forward. I didn’t stay in one place for long. Through a thin windowpane in Glasgow’s early winter, the park across Rose Street was still colored with fall. There, on a concrete bench under rough-cut hazel trees: a messy break up between a smarmy character from Liverpool and myself. I yelled and stood and called him dirty names until I was tired, turning and leaving him still seated and speechless. The spindly branches by the stone capitol building and the relentless vines around castles crumbling in the countryside asked me to stay, but their novelty had begun to fade. Home came to me in dreams of the arboreta beyond the empire’s walls: bare feet on warm asphalt cracked with quakes, the small blooms of jacarandas’ periwinkle that stick between one’s 38

toes, the trunk of a sycamore, patchy as the Cezanne replicas in my childhood hallway. What can be built among those trees? Driving north from Tijuana, smacking on strawberry gum and thirsty as the sun-bleached cacti piercing the evening air, I shake with the familiar rumble of the road, wondering to what I am returning and if there is any scent as sweet as that of a magnolia stretching into L.A.’s twilight.


Katie Ellison

Field Guide

Melissa Ferrone

She buttons the winter coat on her daughter. They have been

waiting all winter for the birds to return their backyard woods. Her daughter presses her nose against the door’s glass, steaming the pane, while she, humming a half remembered lullaby, ties the laces on their boots. March has warmed slowly, and even though spring's first blush lights the forest snow still falls—winter's farewell tossed delicately to the earth in resolve. The cold is tender and retreating. Still, she wraps her arm around her daughter, pulls the girl's small had in place as they enter the wood. And she, in an intention to secure ethos, names everything. Fox Sparrows on the fallen elm, hemlock steadfast against the torn trunk, the black mask of the Loggerhead Shrike patrolling a branch above. Birds and trees and leaves charted like characters in bedtime picture-books. Then: death, split cedar, and warm-scented earth in the wind. A Kinglet drawn open on the chicken-wire lining of the fence, viscera, bone, a Shrike’s display of dowry, a resume for a mate—this is the season of love. Somewhere beyond the fence, the 40

smell of rot comes to conclusion, a staggered deer half-devoured. And she, in a reluctance to address the carcasses and blood and death, points her daughter’s attention skyward. Two Cardinals, perhaps a couple—a Blue Jay harasses a House Wren, whose blackbarred belly flits from branch to branch in escape. Still, the Shrikes are everywhere, a small army of little painted Zorro’s infiltrating the yard. And she, not yet ready to reveal the tremendous expanse of the cosmos, leads her daughter back to the house and has, in this moment, sealed the fate of a mother. Her daughter cries in protest; a flurry of starlings pitch into the wind and separate. There is this distance between them now that will expand with each duel of interest, desire, dreams that a daughter has that a mother once lived and must unveil the romanticism from. And night, conferring with the canopy, will deepen the shadows of the trees around the house and compel her to send her daughter to bed. As she draws the covers around her daughter, she tells a story of magpies nesting in a thicket of mimulus. Mimulus, a bright flower to remedy fear—magpies, to restore a rhythm of fantasy, a tuxedoed pica-pica across the ocean in a foreign land. And when her daughter begins to drift, she hums that half41

remembered lullaby, a contralto belonging more to her own mother. And, as her mother did, she too will place her lips on her daughter’s brow before turning from her—before the unknown predator returns to the deer, before the deer is left completely empty with only its eyes, open, waiting for the dawn.


Melissa Ferrone


Erin Castle

I’ve followed my mother into antique shops since I was so

young that shopkeepers locked wary eyes on my person. I’ve seen her lay her hands against bureaus, china cabinets, mantles, rickety tables, and old-fashioned desks. I’ve noticed her lift the framed picture of a leather skinned man in horn-rimmed glasses leaning against a Tin Lizzie. I’ve watched her study plates and bowls for origin and quality, test the durability and comfort of Chippendale chairs and Chesterfield couches, and browse shelves of browned books, thumbing through tired pages. I’ve observed her open spice cabinet doors with the wonderment of a curious but demure child. Never once did I question the rationale behind her rituals, her reverence. Antiques—their authenticity, their value—depend on consistency and time. And, over time, I know the antique pieces that dwell in my parents’ house, garage, or attic will arrive in my house, garage, or attic. The list of antiques my mom has already parted with to help me furnish my first house: 43

Distressed wood dining table salvaged from an estate sale Out of tune player piano (three broken keys, player still working) Oak nightstand with spiraled legs, sullied with rings from forgotten water glasses Two beveled mirrors, because one can never have too many Cherry wood bookcase (home to a few first editions) Old diner light found at a gas station in Iowa Roll top desk, stripped of paint and stained oak by my dad Grandma Brown’s fireplace mantle and crystal candy dishes My baby crib, a want-to-be grandmother’s unspoken plea, stashed in the attic for safekeeping My great-grandpa Charlie’s secretary that my grandpa Maury refinished in 1976

After a woman ran a stop sign and killed Grandpa Maury sixteen days before my birthday and one month before my wedding, my mom slid one of his shirts into a plastic freezer bag hoping to preserve his smell: Old Spice and Lubriderm lotion, donuts and frozen grapes. Soon after his urn was lowered into the ground under an Iowa September sun, my mom and I purchased a red dinette table with blue chairs from Grandpa’s era, Fire King mixing bowls deep enough for attempting his famous homemade caramels, a tangerine armoire where we would later decide to store his shirt. I began my collection of new, old things: things “he 44

would have loved,” things that had outlived him, things that will outlive all of us. Standing in my dining room weeks later, my mom holds her hand against the drop-down leaf on the secretary; if it were a living body, her hand would have felt its warm chest, its heart beat. “I find comfort here,” she says. “In history.” She opens and closes the leaf. “In ghosts,” she says. And like the calm click of the leaf ’s latch, I finally understand the gravity of this inheritance. We are not antique collectors. We are the only thieves time knows.


Erin Castle

Contributor Bios James Patrick Carraghan is a student at Kutztown University. He is currently working on a collection of prose poems. You can usually find him at Erin Castle received her M.A. in English from Texas Tech University. She still resides in Lubbock, TX, where she teaches English and Creative Writing at Lubbock High, reads submissions for Iron Horse Literary Magazine, and performs in community

theatre productions. Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. He’s the author of several novels, including The Last Bad Job. His poetry has appeared in more than ninety publications, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Samantha. His website is Katie Ellison is an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at the University of Idaho, Moscow. She was the recipient of the 47

Jacqueline Award for Prose from her alma mater, Wellesley College, and her work can also be found at, 34thParallel, and is forthcoming in Shenandoah. James Epstein is 24 and lives on the Central Coast of NSW in Australia and works full time as a fire sprinkler fitter. His writing is done between smoko and finding rare barrels. His work has previously appeared in Voiceworks. He is also a regular contributor to the London based print magazine and online blog "The Brautigan Free Press," which can be found at Melissa Ferrone is a student in West Virginia University’s MFA program with a focus in Creative Nonfiction. Her work has been published in Brevity and The Baltimore Review and is forthcoming in The Pinch Literary Journal and The Fourth River. Melodee Jarvis lives and writes in Oakland, California. Her poems have been previously published in The Bicycle Review and Apeiron Review. 48

Eileen Maksym is a Yale graduate. Her first novel, Haunted, came out last spring and can be found at the following web address: She has, in the past, worked in a museum, a seminary, and a funeral home. She currently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with her astrophysicist husband and their two children. Joe Montesano lives with his wife Claire and daughter Lenore in the foothills of Northern California. He has a MFA in poetry from the University of Idaho and his work has most recently appeared in Permafrost and Five Quarterly. When he is not writing he enjoys roaming the hills with his dog Penny. Diandre Prendimano is a graduate of Concordia University, Montreal and holds a degree in Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in various literary magazines including The Void, Scrivener Creative Review, and Headlight Anthology. Tony Rivera is an activist/educator from NYC. His works have appeared in various print and online publications, including Yellow Medicine Review, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, and Caper Literary 49

Journal's anthology of poems for Haiti. Elizabeth Thorpe's works have appeared in Conversations Across Borders, Painted Bride Quarterly, Per Contra, escarp, and The Maine Review, among others. She teaches at Drexel University and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference in Washington. She is the editor of the literary magazine Press 1. Brendan Todt lives, writes, and teaches in Sioux City, Iowa. His poetry and prose can be found in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013, Tin House Flash Fridays, South Dakota Review, NANO Fiction, Ninth Letter and more. He is a proud graduate of Knox College and Vermont College of Fine Arts. His website is Christina Yu holds an A.B in English from Dartmouth College and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from Notre Dame, where she was a Diversity Fellow and a Sparks Fellow at Hachette Book Group. In recent years, her work has appeared in magazines nationwide, including Fence, New Letters, and Indiana Review, and has been nominated and cited in several Best American anthologies. She is 50

currently a marketing manager in New York City and a part-time MBA candidate at the NYU Stern School of Business.


5x5 Summer, 2014: "Nostalgia" The term nostalgia combines Greek’s nostos (“return home”) and algia (“longing” or “pain” or “ache”). Per the dictionary’s definition, nostalgia is “a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family or friends.” Put another way, it is “a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.” In The Future of Nostalgia, Svetlana Boym, novelist and professor of Slavic and Comparative Literatures, calls nostalgia “a defense mechanism," a means of "rebellion against the modern idea of time.” The nostalgic, Boym says, “desires to obliterate history…to revisit time like space, refusing to surrender to the irreversibility of time that plagues the human condition.” For issue 1.2 of 5x5, we’re seeking poems, stories, and essays that explore this multi-faceted concept in exciting ways. We want to know for what former time(s) or home(s) or homeland(s) you or your characters yearn or toward what prior “happiness” your heart is pulled. We want you to show us, per Boym, what you make of the element of “rebellion” inherent in the concept of nostalgia 52

and/or how you envision the so-called “irreversibility of time� and its role in the human condition. That said, please keep in mind that although nostalgia is the theme we’ve chosen for the next issue, we encourage you to interpret the theme as loosely as needed. For, above all else, the editors of 5x5 are in the market for quality writing. We want writing that pushes us toward uncharted intellectual, emotional, and aesthetic territory. We want to encounter characters and language and images that make the familiar seem unfamiliar (in a good way). We want you to go as far as to reintroduce us to a world, or, in this case, to an idea, that we might otherwise take for granted or leave solely to the discretion of the dictionary. Consider this yet another invitation to you to challenge us, to take us someplace we've never been.


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5x5 Issue 1 Winter, 2013  

5x5 Issue 1 Winter, 2013