Issue #5: Winter, 2017
5x5 is a 501 ÂŠ (3) nonprofit organization and literary magazine that publishes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and photograph. We publish twice a year, and each issue is (usually) theme-based. Submissions are accepted year-round. Simultaneous submissions are welcome, though we do ask that you notify us and/or withdraw your work should it be accepted elsewhere. Visit 5x5litmag.wordpress.com for information on submission guidelines. ÂŠ 2017 in the names of the individual authors. Subsequent rights revert to the author upon publication with the provision that 5x5 receives publication credit. Issue designed by S.J. Dunning Cover image: "Jane," by S.J. Dunning
5x5 Editors Co-Editors-in-Chief Jory Mickelson & S.J. Dunning Poetry Editor Jory Mickelson Fiction Editor Julia Hands Nonfiction Editor S.J. Dunning
Table of Contents Letter from the Editor S.J. Dunning
Alex Greenburg "Drainage"
Charles Kell "Night Jacket"
Erin Pringle "Five Poems on Memory"
Raymond Philip Asaph "Unfinished Water"
Roxana Doncu "Shame"
Anne Whitehouse "Moving"
E. Jean Keating "Darling"
Jason Joyce "Weary War Paint"
Jane Satterfield "YOLO/FOMO"
Barbara Campbell "Bicentennial 1976"
Julia Knowlton "MFA"
Ashley Kunsa "Watch/words"
Grace Campbell "wrapper/shoes"
Jack B. Bedell "Old Story"
Dear Readers, I don’t know about you, but I’ll remember the winter of 2016-2017 as a long and difficult winter. It seems a wonder the tulips in my backyard dared to wake. Now, their wilting petals remind me of deflated balloons, and I lament I wasn’t able to appreciate the party those flowers had to celebrate spring. More relevant to this letter, winter left me at a loss as to how to design this issue of 5x5 Literary Magazine—hence, in part, the lateness of this launch. Besides a brief obsession with the fact that when I cut a bunch of celery and pressed what remains of the stalks into paint and then stamped it onto paper it resembled the “bird’s eye” view of a rose, I rarely thought about any flower, whether in general or as inspiration for designing this issue, so I suppose you can consider my preceding remarks a preamble. I’ve since found a Kodak slide image of my mom’s mom, Grandma Jane, taken circa 1950 or so, presumably by my mom’s dad, my Grandpa Bill. When I pinned the image of Grandma Jane to a lampshade in my living room, I knew I’d found what I was looking for. I knew I wanted to resurrect it/her, if not 7
why. Grandma Jane could be anyone’s grandma, lost and found in the vestiges of an obsolete medium. I was never particularly close to her, and in my memories of her she doesn’t look like she does in the image on the cover of this issue. I remember the jangle of her bangles (I wear those bracelets now), and how she wept when she hugged and kissed my older sister and me each time she visited us. Maybe because I didn’t understood why she was weeping, her weeping unsettled me. The memory of my wet cheeks remains unsettling, but I think I understand her weeping better now than I ever did before. By the time she was my grandma, she wore one shoe whose sole was taller than the other. I didn’t know it when I was wiping my cheeks, but in April of 1977 a drunk driver who was driving on the wrong side of the highway hit my Grandpa Bill and her when they were on their way home. Grandpa Bill died. Grandma Jane survived with a broken hip. Her tall shoe compensated for her loss of bone in that hip. My parents had been married little over a year when my dad received the phone call about the accident. That phone call was the worst my dad has ever 8
answered, he says, and that’s saying something. Knowing what I know about grief now—winter was especially difficult and long because I lost my first child to a miscarriage—I imagine grief was the source of Grandma Jane’s weeping. I can empathize, if only peripherally, with her devastation at having lost her husband (regardless of how much time had passed since), and her gratefulness, in turn, for the lives that followed his (her connection to my sister and me must have felt fragile). I can similarly empathize with the devastation my mom, who loved her dad dearly, must have felt and still feels, despite whatever subsequent joy she experienced. My recent loss seems so small when I look at the image of Grandma Jane I’ve used for the cover of this issue and think about Grandpa Bill behind the camera that captured it/her, and about my mom hearing my dad tell her that her dad had died. Grandma Jane and my mom must have resented the fact that that winter—if only within, or if only metaphorically—seemed to linger into spring as everything around them began blooming. I feel like that a little bit while looking at the procession of tulips in my backyard. I’d like the tulips better if they had to clean up after their own party, 9
I wrote the other day, as though tulips have agency and are capable of having any kind of party and then leaving the spoils of it behind as a reminder of a celebration that happened in spite of my grief. We aren’t tulips, any of us, regardless of the nature of our individual losses, or the season in which they occur. Our lives rarely turn out the way we might think they will when we feel hopeful enough to sit on a bed and let our husband/wife/partner capture us in a photo, or when we have a reason to celebrate, not yet aware that that reason could expire before we’ve even invited everyone we want to invite to the party we’re planning. Grief is anything but fleeting. Resilience is hard won. Nonetheless, if only in time, we (tend to) persist. The theme of resilience might not apply in any direct fashion to all of the poetry and prose within this issue, but for what it’s worth and as cliché (and perhaps selfish) as it might sound, I believe that having had the privilege to assemble the words within the following pages—an act that eventually led me to a photo suggestive of resilience, however unintentionally—has not only helped me to 10
recognize my own resilience, but has also reaffirmed my commitment to honoring the value of storytelling, of leaving a mark, as part of one’s process of becoming stronger than s/he might have otherwise become. One has to wonder what of her/himself will remain in her/his own absence. More importantly, perhaps, how will the moments that shape us, and the vestiges of, and/or stories we or others tell about those moments—however obsolete the medium that captures them might become, and no matter their genre, respectively—light the way for those who stumble upon them while looking for inspiration or empathy? Even though Grandma Jane had yet to endure the grief of losing her husband when the photo of her on the cover of this issue was taken, in her posture and in her expression I see the beginnings of the resilience she later had to learn and that I’ve been learning since winter. When I think about this issue of 5x5 Literary Magazine, I feel a bit less camera shy and slightly more eager to share my own story. On that note, I’d like to thank each of this issue’s contributors, as well as the magazine’s readers, for their 11
devotion to the art of writing, of leaving a mark, and for letting me (and the magazineâ€™s other editors) play a role in fanning that flame. Over & Out, S.J. Dunning 5x5 Editor-in-Chief and Nonfiction Editor
Drainage Alex Greenberg
"Christina Madrazo, a transexual immigrant, was placed in solitary confinement in May 2000 where she was raped twice by a prison guard." (Dissident Voice)
there was a day you couldnâ€™t stop swallowing you were that empty a little girl in your throat, trembling you wanted so badly to slip your thumb in her mouth and let her suck on it, her tongue like a virgin lake bathing a body for the first time. all of the guards who looked at you like a piece of food fingered from their teeth 14
coming back to memory. no
he will not watch his mouth when he enters your body
or remember your name. he will spit on your welcome mat, make you forget how soft breathing can be. by the third year you didnâ€™t have enough hands to pray with so you stopped praying. you gossiped about your own body to whoever would listen stood in the center of the cell, your mouth opening and closing opening and closing. you knew no other way to ask for help. 15
what else to do but shatter the vessel? can you really call it sacrilege after all that has happened?
Night Jacket Charles Kell The hand hovers over the blue part of the flame, money for drugs, an open bottle between our legs. My mother, who is now gone, on the phone, speaking in a recorded voice that can’t be hers: “Be careful; call if you need me.” Boots become wet in water I can’t see. I no longer feel my body yet I can sense yours in front, leading to the opening of the wood. Asleep on grass, sand next to a bank of water wet with snakes. In the dark at night. I have matches 17
in my pocket. There are no stars. My dissected body vibrates in a warm lawnmower-like whirl. Lost and ripped. Feeling into my pants I pull out my dead phone.
Five Poems on Memory Erin Pringle When We Drove the Van to Town On the way back at night, I’d slump over the seat by the big window. Murdered, I’d wait for someone to notice, curious as to what they would do. The streetlights passed by until the town was gone and I felt embarrassed and sat back down, alive. While Mother Drives Home I carefully unwrap the foil of miniature Reese’s cups. They cost five cents from the small basket by the diner cash register. In the darkness, streetlights slip over the car and into the past. I’m Trying To Say With mother, it was to town. With Dad, it was away from 19
town. And I bicycled the country road between them, balancing on the shadow of powerlines like a tightrope tied to tin cans. When A Memory Recalls Another Memory Like atoms splitting, perhaps, which I imagine as water bubbling in a dark pot. Or when the world, all at once, arrived like a house for a woman to beat her rug against. One memory hidden like a moth painted black and kept in the dark, the other pasted to a flashlight. Are Photographs Where Peopleâ€™s Memories Meet? That yellow bridge where my father went when the light was just so. He set up the tripod and camera, out of shape and breathing heavily and cursing, to find the beautiful. Like a timid child in the shade of the house, listening for footsteps, or on a bridge, watching her father.
Unfinished Water Raymond Philip Asaph Drinking a glass of water, thinking of my brother, how heâ€™d leave half-empty glasses all over the houseâ€” each glass like a note scribbled, Jim was here I remembered the night he set a glass like this ,
on the table in the hall as he went out of the house and out of this life. The next day, when I knew, I picked up his glass and sipped the stale water as if it were sacramental wine. Staring at the door, eight years later, I am sipping that same wine, the same water, still waiting for him to walk in.
Shame Roxana Doncu This is the street that we did not follow to its conclusion, did not exchange for another, more enticing point of view; here we got lost in the briars, drowned in the smell of previous summers, impervious to thirst or hunger. A cat jumped on your shoulder, rubbed its whiskers against your wrinkles, then frightened away the crows. They were hovering above their first born, blind and dying, and peering into my eyes. I could not answer his bulging gaze. We flew away, and never returned.
Moving Anne Whitehouse First memories are moving targetsâ€” what the four-year old recalls, the ten-year-old may have forgotten. The processes of recollection are constantly forming deep within the brain inside the bony ridge named for a seahorse. Tracks lie on top of other tracks, twisting and turning on themselves, until we lose the reasons why we became what we are.
Darling E. Jean Keating Darling
“Sluts.” That’s what he called the women packed in our booth. I remember their taut bodies and push-up bras. Eyelashes like fairy wings. The darling among them, in the white silk dress, stood right below us. Letters looped from her collarbone to her back like a shawl. I hopped down from my perch on the couches and leaned in to ask about the meaning of the darling’s tattoo. I heard something about her soul recognizing mine and no bitches and no hoes. The rest of the night I stared and stared at her. She knew and she stared back, with her pussy open and extended in her eyes. Later, in the taxi back to our hotel, I said to him, “Don’t use that word.” “Why not? She’s a slut. Yous a feminist?” “Don’t use that word neither.” The cab driver was watching us. We were making a 25
scene, but we always made a scene. He was short for an NFL player. He wore thick gold chains in case anyone mistook him for a regular black man. “She fucked five football players for money. Ain’t that a slut?” His deep southern drawl, a hook pulling on vowels. “What would you call a man who slept with five women?" Between laughs, mid-stroke, with his dick rigid and probing, he called his own name again and again. Donte. Donte! Donte. This is All I Have I said to a friend, who asked, why do you care so much how you look? The Four Seasons Manager crosses his arms and drops his chin when he sees me. Ah, Disapproval — Right. On. Time. “Mr. Davids is expecting me.” “Welcome back Miss Bernyce! I’ll let him know you’re here.” He passes me a key. Work. Work. Work. When I walk into hotel room 1112, Mr. Davids is lying 26
on his stomach, holding his white butt cheeks apart. Just how I like him. The hair on his butt looks like baby leeches. I lick my long ringed finger. My Toes Cramp Into the white pumps. He’ll like me better without panties, I think, as I pull on a yellow cotton dress. Easing cocoa butter into my legs and across my butt, I try to remember if I took steak out to thaw at Donte’s condo last night. I drop a gold necklace around my neck, stuff lingerie in my LV purse, and call an Uber. Where the fuck are my keys? I go through this errry damn day. It was cute in my twenties. Now my sister says it’s d e p r e s s i o n. I say ain’t that a synonym for 40? She says that’s my d e n i a l. “Why Are You Afraid?” He asks. Half-eaten muffins on the table. Hints of carrot bathing in vanilla. Served with homemade blueberry 27
cream cheese. She notes the server’s gold ringlets, the bruised white table cloth. Oak burnt grapes and Javex. “Why aren’t you afraid?” she asks. Each word a callous.
Weary War Paint Jason Joyce Do you remember digging a grave in frozen solid ground at three in the morning for your motherâ€™s parrot that died? He was such a little sailor as he quoted lines from Frasier and Days Of Our Lives while he lie wheezing on his side, molting a careless bed of feathers. Down across a bed in the room for which we bought a three-shelf storage cabinet at Ikea, down across the parking lot when we stopped to buy a pint of gelato on the way home. The chocolate swirl was so cold that it bent one of your better spoons. Curved to a backbeat of wrapping refuse like loversâ€™ clothes on Christmas morning mapping out foreign countries on the floor, where pillows and sage sheets wear makeup like war paint. We still cover up. Covered up, comfortable clothes, stutter step to strapless numbers and pin down collars, dressed up for failed first dates, miserably, mercilessly. More simply: strangers, talking about eating disorders and parents who died when they were young. These first impressions far from any 29
impression college roommates tried to make after these dates on 3 a.m. Walmart runs for vanilla bean ice cream and cookies. At dinner your date had used the pen from the check to write his name on your wrist. Now watching stock tickers for significant signs in Initials, Fighting off going home alone with ice cream and ground up Oreos. You look then at your wrist and only think of freshman year, when you wrote homework due dates on your flesh, and the word you see now in the partial permanence is “validity.” Heads nodding then, as now, on the way to visit your mother. Cigarette subway passengers, dark dandruff flakes spilling onto adjacent travelers, headphones tamping smoldering tips, balding gorgeous women pulling at chunks of blonde hair, scarves and pea coats, ghosts and wisps of ash under fingernails. Passengers in their partial permanence like hospital roommates, bedded beside your mother, now carefully wrapped in wash worn covers, IV line ribbons, oxygen hose bows, and a laminate bracelet gift tag. These hospital smells don’t follow us home, but we’re sure the spirit 30
of an elderly patient named Bea has… "Excuse me ma’am, we were just visiting, we did not come for you," I wake you in the middle of the night talking to the open door. She’s the sour piss nicotine of dive bar shows, the smooth speaker crackle, the warm wash clean waves clinging to our clothes. Like two more ghosts that aren’t quite there we lay on a mattress of spiraling metal and down. Buried in bed fibers we reek of possibility.
YOLO/FOMO Jane Satterfield When that what-your-mother’d call wise-cracking girl down the hall says there’s a party at Pike and why not come along, you’ll defer the way you like to think you always do. Wisely, with a considered smile. The way it goes is this: she’ll extend the invitation, you’ll refuse. It’s late enough in the week to be so behind on your work, late enough that it’s respectable to be busy. The dorm room floor is littered with crumpled post-its, half-popped kernels of corn. Stray paper clips, the odd hair tie. Jungle throbs from the nearby suite. She’ll ask a second time, the offer now rigged with embellishments. Nearby chapters, friends; friends of their friends. Yours are somewhere sipping smoothies, sorting blankets for a shelter downtown. Assuming Pike, assuming you’ll rendezvous? Your phone stays silent. A resident assistant hoists his laundry basket, turns the other way. Partygoers are passing by. You’ll accept a swig of 32
whiskey. YOLOs are given and received, appropriately, with irony. The bass lines and synthesizer achieve an uptick in tempo. There are professors with their impossible quizzes; parents with impossible pleas. The shiny horizon of all you might miss. When you finally step outside, the stars are bright, retrofitted holiday lights against a dark wall. It’s like standing on a dock, waving good-bye. Your memory of this event will be a palace with high ceilings and endless halls, rooms leading to other rooms, to the stumblebuzz walk back to your single. She’ll be propping you up, the wise-cracking girl. Her mascara will leave two dark trails down her cheeks, her shoes will be soaked from freezing rain. If her voice had a setting, the dial will have spun from ironic to irritable. A swirl of fog-like images assembling on paper that floats in a photographic pan. There was a guy in this, in the story, the way there’s always a guy. The hook-ups, those on-and-off years—a carnival ride with its sirens, bells, and whirligig of lights. You’re not 33
wearing that daisy print summer sundress you left in.
Bicentennial 1976 Barbara Campbell We had a cake with seven candles, but I didn’t have a party. I drew arrows around Nixon’s forehead, circled circles with Spirograph, and starred Spiro Agnew in the remaining white spaces of my Watergate Coloring Book. My older brother and I watched a lot of television. Dorothy Hamill pirouetted across the ice carving frosty roulettes, her spins effortless. The Bicentennial Minutes commemorated freedom. Chevy Chase aped President Ford. At school, I illustrated a Revolutionary War series: colonists hurled crates of tea overboard, the British engaged in a bloody battle with the citizenry, and a redcoat cut the limbs off the Liberty Tree. Mum smoked and slept. Dad came and went. According to Bicentennial Minutes, “That’s the way it was, 200 years ago today.” We took a trip to Montreal, Quebec to visit the leftover international exhibits of Expo ’67, “Man and His World.” 36
Mum and Dad drove us to Canada in the Volkswagen Bug. My brother and I rode the monorail inside the American Pavilion, Buckminster Fuller’s beautiful, two-hundred-foot geodesic dome. I was sure I was riding inside a fragile glass ball, but the shimmering sky bubble was steel and acrylic. A few weeks later, it caught fire; flames ravaged all but its skeleton. Mum set the table for dinner. Dad yanked the tablecloth off and the plates crashed to the floor. Newah Park hosted our town’s Bicentennial fireworks. Red, white, and blues burst in the sky the shape of dandelions. Someone in a tricorn hat read the Preamble I learned from School House Rock: “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…” Thirteen stars exploded in unison while the 1812 Overture played. Sparklers sizzled. For the grand finale, the life-size numbers 1976 were lit up on the football field, spitting and tossing white bolts into the air. Mum went to the hospital. Dad went to his girlfriend’s. Jimmy Carter was elected President. My brother and I didn’t have keys to our house. We 37
broke the basement window to get in. Glass shattered onto the top of the dryer. I shimmied my body through the small window frame then ran upstairs to unlock the front door. In the final Bicentennial Minutes, outgoing President Ford asked us to keep the spirit of 1976 alive. “WHEREAS, in consequence of disputes and unhappy differences, the parties have separated, and are now living apart, and since their separation have agreed to live separate and apart during their natural lives…” My brother and I sat around in the cold watching snowy repeats of M*A*S*H and eating peanut butter from spoons. That’s the way it was. We declared our independence.
MFA Julia Knowlton It was great to get in, especially after being drunk for ten years and then finally getting sober. Now I was fully living again and could return to my writing. I was easily swayed by the Director saying, â€œOh yes, it was unanimous.â€? New England with its stone walls and white steeples. Dickinson and Frost. I was giddy with the prospect. Nothing ran on time when I arrived. My dorm room was romantically too hot and the shared, cracked tile showers were romantically too cold. My assigned mentor was the perfect combination of warm plus distant. Ideal. Enough for me to be properly intimidated but not so much for me to be downright cowed. One poetry student made simple grammatical errors that did not seem to be deliberately avant-garde or to intentionally resist the existing hegemonic, heteronormativity of Everything. Another student with a cloud of wild, black hair barely left her room; the idea was that she was too brilliant to socialize or interact much at all. 39
Every night, people drank at the bar; that is where the teachers were. I was too timid to approach them. The booze made me uneasy so I stayed alone in my room looking out at a covered bridge. During the day people sat in Adirondack chairs with marbled paper notebooks on their knees. It looked just like a photo in a brochure. One teacher kept repeating that all writing is stealing. During the residency I realized I could not justify the eventual cost of the thing: about thirty-five thousand dollars. Not with being single and both of my daughters in college. I had to face that truth. I would have to defer it, or just let it go. I read an article called “To MFA or not to MFA.” It said the whole thing had become an industry that was running itself amuck and that nearly everyone ended up unpublished and broke. My mentor listened to my concerns carefully. Maybe I’ll go back someday, but maybe not there. I’m still writing just as much, if not more. My favorite class was called “The Secret Life of Objects.” The intensely smart, sad-looking instructor placed a handful of small objects on a table in a chilly, fluorescent-lit classroom: a bluejay feather, an old 40
photograph of a couple on the stoop of a brownstone in Brooklyn, a gold chain, a water gun, some oily coffee beans. â€œNow pick one and just write,â€? she said, leaning back in her chair to watch. We scribbled love and loss while a July sun burned. After I withdrew, the Director unfriended me, but my former teacher still likes me with tiny red hearts and blue upturned thumbs.
Watch/words Ashley Kunsa
1 I won’t say words like stupid or ugly around my 4-year-old son. I don’t forgo judgment of the neighbor’s “How to confuse a liberal” bumper sticker or the ’69 Firebird he revs at 7 a.m.; instead, I spell my criticisms out to my husband, or over the phone to my mom, desperate not to saddle my boy with a vocabulary of hate. .
2 The beach at Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, mid-July, 2016 From the hum of surf and privilege, a grandmother’s chastising boils to the top: “It’s not nice to lie,” she tells her small blonde granddaughter. “You lie to me once, I can’t trust you ever again. I would rather hang out with a robber or murderer.” .
Speaking of privilege • I’m spending 7 days on the Vineyard at a creative writing retreat • Twice a week, my mom looks after my son for free • I’ve been pursuing higher education, mostly on scholarship, for 15 years 4 As with anything else, so, too, with education: you don’t always get what you pay for. Maybe an old friend had the right idea not dropping the money on preschool for his boys; we write a check to the church every month, and our kid comes home thrilled to send his little plastic guys to “jail.” .
5 It’s never really struck me as freedom before now, not worrying, Will my boy end up in the system? not asking, Is this neighborhood safe? or, Why’s that cop driving past? My mind clutters around soccer and STEM fields. I collect coins for college, pray his kindergarten teacher won’t .
be too conservative. 6 On the subject of politics, Obama vacations here, this haven he calls “one of those magical places where people of all different walks of life come together.” Really? I imagine a PR union staged at Murdick’s: the president, flip flops and board shorts, reaching across the counter for a fudge sample sliced by the Latino guy manning the register. .
7 Here are my boys, reading one night: Husband: The spinosaurus carries the dead animal in his mouth and— Son: What’s dead? Husband: (beat) Um, it means his food. .
In the U.S. • Black 12th graders read, on average, at the same level 44
as white 8th graders • Black boys K-12 were 2½ times more likely to be suspended from school than white boys in the year 2000 • Black men are 5½ times more likely than white men to get locked away in their lifetime 9 We never lock the doors. It’s the island way. More than a dozen women, aged seventeen through sixty, roaming through our days, coming and going like children, never patting our pockets for keys or doublechecking the knob. At one a.m., the laundry room looks onto darkness, a weightless wooden screen all that divides us from the night. .
10 What a curious thing, a toy gun in the hand of a babe. According to child psychologist Joshua Weiner, kids under 5 may “not even understand what shooting someone really means.” It’s “more about power, fantasy and imagination—not killing and death.” .
11 As of July 7, U.S. police have robbed 136 black people of their lives in 2016. One hundred twenty-three shot dead at the scene; 13 who later died of their wounds. .
I can’t help but lie. On the flat screen, two dingos wrestle over the barely discernable body of some water bird. “What’re they doing?” my son asks, and I say, “Playing.” 13 In our playland of plastic and paint, what consequence is size or color? Sometimes a muddy T. Rex devastates. Other times, the modest, plant-eating Chasmosaurus destroys Gigantoraptor and a squad of ruthless red carnivores. .
14 My 6 nights on the Vineyard, I’ve slept, unguarded, 10 feet from a statuesque Dane I met only the first afternoon. We call her “Nilla”—like the wafers—easier for Americans to .
pronounce and, I suspect, digest, than her native Pernille. 15 One hundred thirty-six. Would you call it murder? .
16 “You can be this one,” my son tells me, voice still soft as butter. “I’ll be this one.” His winged lion crashes upon my pale-faced knight, deposits him in the tower of solitude. A minute later he announces, “Now I’m this one,” and trades me. So harmless, this play, these manic role reversals. So unrealistic. .
17 Isn’t he already saddled with a vocabulary of hate? Isn’t he already learning to use me and mine as weapons? .
18 How can I—a white woman, a mother, writer—equipped only with love and an arsenal of words I don’t even know .
how to useâ€”how can I stop it?
wrapper/shoes Grace Campbell I will think later: what was the errand? Errands usually meant tampons or candy. I will not remember what kind of candy it was. I will remember that I spent my payphone quarters on my stomach. Later, I find the wrapper in the frayed seam allowance of my front yard next to the bent carcass of the storm door. In the sluice of my grasp the vibrant orange logo gleams: cautionary, an open mouth; carnival tent. I will never recollect the flavor. These twenty years since: the cherubim letters bubbled across the foil click off the safety in my mouth that lets loose only the iron-thick flavors of metal and blood. I will remember that the errand made me late getting back home. I will think, later: you should know you're not the kind of person who can run errands. I will remember that I wore oxfords. The style was to wear them without socks. The insides had rubbed the edges of my toes and each ankle skinless, pressed in taut blisters. In order to maintain the fashion, I had to tiptoe as if over a 49
carpet of broken Jim Beams: but no socks. They were cheap. I was fifteen; I could not afford nice things. I was too late. The Trans-Am was there in my driveway. Stolen, rusted chassis, classic blue eagle emblazoned across the front. Later, I will think that I could have made it back home much faster had I not had on the oxfords. Later, I will see that being the disciple to some bit of fashionâ€”being clever, having a thirst for sugarâ€”carried a lead tetherball behind it. The house is delivered of them through the ache of my side door, the clamor of baseball caps and flannel workshirts like a stack of smashed dishes. Then: cilia of a thousand hands, arms, around me, on me. The right angle of his knuckles slicing through the gunpowder distillate of dusk. Waking up on my bedroom floor the next morning beside the strangled noose of bed-sheet, the Someone Else's Party confetti of broken glass in my hair, the hollow of each eye deep-set under anvils of pressure, the pattern of his right hook streaked across my t-shirt, the constellation of bruises down the naked whole of my body waiting to whisper fault in their not-so-secret patterns, I split down the middle like a wet 50
daisy stem and curl to my side. When I am able to stand I venture out into the yard where I find the oxfords thrown to either side of my front lawn, their synthetic seams prolapsed after only one use. The candy wrapper will wave like a parade-side toddler: blistering, eager, there, beside the destroyed storm door. I will see these things and I will take the sacrament of my mother's refrain out from that pressed space under my tongue and hear it, tidy and sharp, in the air before me: I told you so.
Old Story Jack Bedall After my mother died, my father began bringing boxes of her things to our house every weekend when he came to stay with us. At first, it was boxes of things he knew she would want us to have—baptismal records, old report cards, love letters between the two of them Dad would never read again. Eventually, the boxes evened out into kitchen gadgets, seat warmers, and costume jewelry. I’ve always been attached to things. I kept the boxes my toys came in, twist ties, instructions, and all. I drank Coke from my baby bottles until I was six or seven. I still hang on to the spare shoe strings that come with my kids’ school shoes every summer. I keep it all close at hand for as long as I can. Dad knew this, so he showed up with boxes every weekend. We all sat around to watch him unpack each box, kids’ eyes wide open like he was a curator at the Smithsonian pulling Peking Man’s cooking tools out of a dusty crate. We’d all watch like that until the box was emptied and repacked for 52
its spot in the closet, or utility room, or attic. Sometimes the kids ask about some mysterious Dripolator coffee pot or Ronco egg slicer Dad showed them, and I do my best to find it in the inventory to show them again. Most times, a few sweeps through the boxes bring whatever thing they want back to the light. Sometimes, though, no amount of looking can turn that thing up. Whenever anything went missing in our house, my mom would tell the same old story of bears who struggled every day to find the things they needed to survive. The bears had no home, and they moved around without resting under moonlight each night. She told us they could cover hundreds of miles before sunrise. There was never any logic to the things the bears would take from the homes they visited, Mother told us. Even they didnâ€™t know what sparkly thing, or noise maker, or special picture book they had to have until they held it in their huge paws, caught its shine in their eyes.
Contributor Bios Alex Greenberg is a 17-year-old poet whose work can be found in The Florida Review, The Cortland Review, Third Coast, Rattle, and Salt Hill, among others. Charles Kell is a PhD student at The University of Rhode Island and editor of The Ocean State Review. His poetry and fiction have appeared in The New Orleans Review, The Saint Annâ€™s Review, and elsewhere. He teaches in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Erin Pringle grew up in rural Illinois and usually writes stories. Her first collection, The Floating Order, was published by Two Ravens Press (2009). Her next collection, The Whole World at Once, is forthcoming from West Virginia UP/Vandalia Press in Spring 2017. These poems are from her memoir-in-progress. To learn more, visit www.erinpringle.com.
Raymond Philip Asaph has been published in Poetry, Glimmer Train, London Magazine, Mississippi Review, The Humanist, and elsewhere. The authorâ€™s good fortunes have included a grant from the Vogelstein Foundation, a graduate fellowship to NYU, and a Stadler Semester to Bucknell University. Off the page, he can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org .
Roxana Doncu is a Romanian short story writer and poet living in Bucharest. She works as an English teacher and translator, and in her free time she loves exploring the world around, either by traveling or reading. She loves experimenting and working with different media as well as writing at the intersection of genres. Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower from Dos Madres Press (2016), as well as a novel, Fall Love. She won four poetry awards in 2016. For details, see www.annewhitehouse.com .
E. Jean Keating holds a JD from Osgoode Hall Law School.
She is currently completing a novel for her MA thesis in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto. Together with three friends from law school, she chronicles the curly hair struggle for ifshedreams.com. She is also a blogger for SheKnows.com. Jason Joyce (M.B.A.) is a writer, designer, and arranger in Los Angeles who has made it a life-long mission to never grow boring. Originally from Wyoming, Jason is the cofounder of the clothing company Weekend Society, runs the visual word project #savageconfetti on Instagram, and loves ghost stories around the campfire. Jane Satterfield is the author of four poetry collectionsâ€”Her Familiars, Assignation at Vanishing Point, Shepherdess with an Automatic, and Apocalypse Mix, winner of the 2016 Autumn House Prize, as well as Daughters of Empire: A Memoir of a Year in Britain and Beyond (Demeter Press). Born in England, she lives in Baltimore where she teaches at Loyola University Maryland.
Barbara J. Campbell completed her Ph.D. in English from the University of Connecticut where she taught Freshman Composition and nineteenth- and twentieth-century American Literature. She is currently a full-time lecturer at Butler University, where she is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing. Her essays appear in Illness in the Academy: A Collection of Pathographies by Academics (Purdue UP, 2007) and The Writing Disorder. She is working on an illness memoir called The Survival Guide and a group of short stories tentatively titled The Dream Stenographer. Julia Knowlton is Professor of French at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. She is a published poet and is the author of the memoir Body Story. She holds MA and PhD degrees from UNC Chapel Hill. Subsequent to a hiatus in her studies, she is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry and creative nonfiction at Antioch University in Los Angeles, where she received a writing fellowship. Ashley Kunsa has work in The Los Angeles Review, Pembroke Magazine, Tahoma Literary Review, and a variety of other print
and online venues. In fall 2017 she will join the faculty of Rocky Mountain College as Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing. Grace Campbell was born, raised, and educated in New York. She currently lives and works in Olympia, Washington. Her work has appeared in The Santa Ana River Review, Wendigo, Black River Press, and elsewhere. Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. His latest collections are Elliptic (Yellow Flag Press, 2016), Revenant (Blue Horse Press, 2016), and Bone-Hollow, True: New & Selected Poems (Texas Review Press, 2013).