Alchemy 2021 -- Issue 47

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A LC H E MY 2021


Alchemy Magazine of Literature and Art Volume 47 - 2020 Editors

C.S. Carter Deirdre Curley Hana Elogbi Ann Goldenberg Kayla Painter D. Araguaney Rodríguez Da Silva Anic Ulrope Alan Vizuet

Special Thanks To

Division of English and World Languages Julie Kopet, Dean Cherie Maas-Anderson, Administrative Assistant Tami Allison, Administrative Assistant W Vandoren Wheeler, prior Alchemy Instructor

Creative Writing Instructors Jeff Alissandrelli Wendy Bourgeois Mia Caruso Andrew Cohen Matt Chelf Chris Cottrell Cody Luff

Victoria Rau Ron Ross Megan Savage James Sauve Ann Selby Chrys Tobey W. Vandoren Wheeler

Graphics and Printing Instructors John Bohls Damien G Gilley Nathan Savage Debbie Schwing Daniel Soucy

Spencer Olson, Cover Design Megan Savage, Faculty Advisor

Copyright © 2021 by Portland Community College Portland Community College, PO Box 19000, Portland, Oregon, 97280-0990 Portland Community College reserves all rights to the materials contained herein for the contributor’s protection. On publication, all rights revert to the authors.


COLOPHON Table of Contents Bookman Old Style

Titles & Author Names Minerva Modern

Body Text

Freight Text Pro Letter Gothic STD

Footnotes

Pull Quotes Bookmania We are proud to present you with a beautiful issue, assembled by our incredible Design Team, lead by Hana Elogbi. The typeface you’ll see most frequently in this issue is Freight Text Pro, as it is used for the body text of almost every written piece -except for one, which uses Letter Gothic STD. The Freight Text typeface represents a modern take on the old-style typefaces, adjusted for both printed and digital media. We chose this type to cover our pages not only for its aesthetic virtues, but also for its significance: Joshua Darden, its designer, is the first Black United Statesian ever credited as a typeface designer. Freight Text was first published through GarageFonts in 2005.


REFLECTIONS Kacie Finnegan



Table Of Contents

Poetry 3................... ‫ ءانه‬ Hana Elogbi 5................... Perhaps It Is Joy Angie Dribben 15 ................... Cocks of the Walk Laurinda Lind 17 ................... And Some of the Acorns Tiffany Overby 20 ................... House Boat Anic 45 ................... Souvenirs Misty Harper 48................... Lovers Cross Harris 61 ................... Lilith Weeds the Garden Amy Baskin 63 ................... On the Shelves Made of Bone Christina Poletto 71 ................... The Reluctant Gardener Mandy Teel 73 ................... Lost Ari Schill


86 ................... A Hot Dog in the Pandemic Amanda Dobbs 91 ..............Pancake Hearts and Sweet Syrup Kisses Lio Jones 102 ................... Bullet in the Chamber Angie Dribben 103 ................... Please Don’t Let Go Adam Deutsch

Nonfiction 7................... On Curses | On Blessings D. Araguaney Rodríguez Da Silva 51................... Time to Wake Up C. S. Carter 78................... Exposed Foundation Airea Johnson 87................... Fear Beverly Joyce 95................... Avocado Leaves and Mangoes Alexander “99” Orozco García


Fiction 9................... Black Corn Dan A. Cardoza 21................... Waste of Time Alan Vizuet 33................... Kafka’s Apple Thomas Misuraca 39................... Parasite Christian Barragan 65................... Train Yard Deirdre Curley 75................... They Anic 79................... Metal to Milkshakes Joelle Byars


Art & Photography 1................... End of The Line James Reade Venable 1................... Dusk At Ditmars James Reade Venable V................... Reflections Kacie Finnegan 4................... Anxious Kris McRae 4................... Tight Chest Kris McRae 12................... Aphantasia Ash Kukuzke 13................... Aphantasia series Ash Kukuzke 16................... Facing It Together series Jack Bordnick 19................... Swimmers Ana Lopez 37................... Climbers Elise Ricks 43................... Drawing Figures in Circles Lettie Jane Rennekamp


46..........You Need Permission from No One to Be Happy Jury S. Judge 47................... Iridescent Fish Struggling Upstream Jury S. Judge 49................... Calliope Zachary Lee 59................... I Am Not A Psycho Adedolapo Boluwatife 63................... Pomegranate Natalie Shough 70................... Let Me Be Me Kris McRae 74................... Extinction Elis Gjoni 76................... One for All Emel Karakozak 77................... Baubles Tasha Bundy 77................... American Pastime Tasha Bundy 84................... 2084 Jodie Filan 85................... Untitled Concrete Sculptures Mario Loprete


90................... Dogs Dance in Decorative Cages ryo bangs 93................... Embroidery Work Sofiya Levina 100................... Classification III Kathy Bruce

101................... Face It Coco Spencer 104.................Doesn’t Every Touch Feel Like a Collision? Despy Boutris 115................... Diving Station Anthony Russo


DUSK AT DITMARS James Reade Venable

END OF THE LINE

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James Reade Venable


L ET TE R F ROM TH E E D I TORS You are holding Issue 47 of Alchemy, a PCC Sylvania literary journal. Produced and constructed virtually, a year into a worldwide pandemic that has kept us at least 6 feet apart from each other, this issue can be considered a trapdoor into each other’s inner worlds. The “inner world” or “otherworld” is a private, hazy, place. Long familiar to artists and writers, this year, the “inner world” became the province of the masses. Yet some of us were offered license (or sentenced) to inhabit this space more than others. Frontline workers (from grocery clerks to bus drivers, from nurses to doctors) experienced an altogether different “otherworld.” Open the trapdoor into Alchemy, and you will view the stuff of daily life from a new vantage point: what it means to be a parent and a child, what it means to love another, what it means to come from a place, what it means to live with myth and legacy, what we mean to ourselves. Our contributors summon us into their otherworlds, inviting us to inhabit heartbreaking love for an unbirthed child, awe at the natural beauty of the Midwest, the ambient fear we’ve known for over a year, and even the memory of a sweet pancake kiss. As we begin to unravel from our socially distanced pods, this Spring 2021 issue gifts us with a look deeply into what we as humans carry within. Accompany us, as we inch closer to each other in person and step into the worlds -- fantastical, hyperrealistic, loving, and at times brutal -- our extraordinary authors and artists have shared with us this year. Alchemy 2


I was born with two names. The name my grandmother gave me over a Nokia brick, 6,000 miles away, pre-paid, Hana Elogbi and the name the nurse repeated. I was born with no name at all. The vowels and consonants, peaks and valleys, rolling hills. I hate the way I say my name, my tongue fumbling, snagging on my teeth, crashing against the roof of my mouth, assimilating. I was an identity crisis, while my heart was going 125 bpm. No toes, no fingers, not even a mouth.

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ANXIOUS Kristofer McRae

TIGHT CHEST Kristofer McRae

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and does that double-squeeze sort of hug

When a parent pulls you into them belly to belly

my mother’s thighs

a toe thumb

faulty heart

What if we are meant to turn to joy

corkscrew mind

Even true of family— Receiving gifts we did not want

when we recognize the light in the soul of another the way our wounds brought us together When we laugh at the same joke that has not yet been told

What if it is never love we look for fraught with its own breaking But rather the moments too quick to put a fingertip to

not love we seek Perhaps the light of our god is love This is why we know death by starvation cancer greed hate The barren woman must seek joy for the love of a child she will never have crushes her spirit clear through to her bones

PERHAPS IT IS JOY


Angie Dribben

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Wait here

all the while Even God needs

a late morning fog ushers in an afternoon of lemon-light Only after all of that is night welcomed seldom seen shades of cornflower blue

with

finally

like old sisters rattling Yahtzee dice in the blue plas-

Flash floods follow as their laughter spreads across the generations

tic cup

of thunder and lightning

First comes four days

sprinkling chiggers around your an-

five days to curate an unforgettable evening sky

With joy comes the itch

kles

against your cheek

while Queen Anne’s lace brushes her softness

as long as you’re allowed

brings nausea and misery for you loved him instantly.

Every stray dog you cannot rescue

and chases his tail. But pants with gladness for it.

a window opens. The leaf stumbles across the road. The terrier sees a rabbit

When the wind bends the tree until it screams but does not break,

and you do that double-squeeze kind of hug

When a child cries directly into your heart


ON CURSES

F

or being unkind when you could’ve been anything else. In the tiny spaces, I wish for your discomfort. I wish that someone cuts in line three people in front of you, so they are close enough for you to see, and so they are too far for you to say anything.

At work, I wish you a tiny stain on your clean white shirt. No one will notice, but you’ll know it’s there. I wish you slow internet when you type a rude comment, and a dead laptop battery if you insist on posting it. I wish an indelible scuff on your brand new shoes, and a missing button on your jacket during a winter storm. People think of curses like the stuff of witches and wizards and disgraced men. They think of gods and goddesses. I think of everyday paperwork, the bureaucracy demanded to attach yourself to the people you love. We are all a little cursed, some more than others. In Venezuela, our currency is so weak that you can pump a tank full of gas for free. Last time I visited, I thought we were stealing it, but after the service person pumped the gas and my mom said she had no cash to pay for it, the service person just said “all set.” We went to get chicharrón with my mom’s debit card because the only money she has is that which I transfer from abroad. We let go of the fresh fruit juice and get enough for each of us to eat. I wonder if there’s anything to do. If there’s a protective spell for curses. I wonder whether taking it in stride and giving it up to the stars would make the day a little less bad. If that’s the case, then a curse is not only what is done to us, but what we do to ourselves in return. 7

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ON BLESSINGS D. Araguaney Rodríguez Da Silva

F

or being kind when you were tired. I wish you relief when you expect strain. I wish you a falling glass of water that just bounces on the ground, it doesn’t shatter. I wish the water in it only spills a little, and you don’t even have to clean it up.

At work, I wish you an empty inbox every Friday noon. I wish you less than ten unread emails on Monday morning, and only two on Wednesday afternoon. I wish you at least four good hair days a week. I wish you texts if they don’t stress you out, and silence if all you want is peace. People think of blessings like the stuff of tías. They think of chosen ones, of the golden child, the humans saved by the demigod. I think blessings are in what doesn’t happen. The no need for paperwork, the open road on your way home, the bullet that never left the gun. In Venezuela, gas is so cheap that you can pump a tank full for free. Last time I visited, I thought we were stealing it, but the service person pumped the gas, came over to the window and just smiled and said “all set.” We went to get chicharrón with my mom’s debit card because no one carries cash anymore, drank water and ate our bellies full. I wonder if there are ways to seek out blessings, without them being bestowed on you. Maybe we can conjure them between the details we forget and the ones we celebrate. The ways we let go of what doesn’t serve us, making a point to decorate our altars, even if all we have are plastic flowers. Amnesia as a blessing, the unforgettable crunch of deep fried pork as celebration.

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BLACK CORN Dan A. Cardoza

J

essie Higgins planted the tree about fifteen years ago. It grew three feet the first year. That is unusual. Every year before the plant, long after fertilizing and disking, Jessie

treks into the middle of plot number three. The rich field is one of several on the family’s farm. All the other sections are treeless. The farm is going on ten generations now. It’s not difficult for Jessie to locate the hickory. It is thirty-one feet less in distance to the moon. Each spring, Jessie scans the tips of its twigs for rusty buds, new life. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hickory Shagbarks thrive in zones 5 through 8. Shagbarks can live up to one hundred and fifty years. Growth in height is typically two vertical feet per season. The state of Nebraska has perfect soil. Jessie kneels at the base of the tree, prays a while. He’s not religious, but he intends to cover all of the bases. He looks at prayer as a form of afterlife insurance, “Just in case.” The poor bastard is as tough as nails. You’d have to be. There have been years Jessie can hear them digging under the roots of the tree. This year’s rotation is sweet corn again. Sweet corn is harvested for tables, not like jip-corn, which is meant for cattle. It’s taller too. It can scratch ten feet of sky in a good season, depending upon the disposition of the Nimbostratus. To each generation, the corn seems taller, perfect for hiding.

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Jessie’s nephews, Jacob and Ely, the two boys that help him out on the farm, are next in line to take over the ten thousand acres. But the way Jessie sees it, there’s no hurry. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon, “too much suffering left. That is unless the undertaker can find a way to shrinkwrap the farm and tuck it away inside one of my pockets in the coffin,” he laughs. Jessie’s laughter is dark, parched, and fallow. Fifteen years have flashed before his eyes, not unlike time-lapse lightning bolts, the ones that won’t stop walking toward Jessie, “on those damned electricity stilts.” Out here, on the prairie, we calibrate everything, including time, based on the weather. Fifteen years ago was an exception. It was unworldly. It took several months for time to thaw and get moving again. Some of the corn got frostbit, turned black. If there was any lesson, it had come from somewhere above. After all, even those one-hundred-year floods are from up there, in that banana republic we’ve named heaven. A single furrow of dirt is tempting. Numerous furrows of dirt are addictive. Dirt invites so many choices in the selecting tools: a wonderful imagination, a play shovel or two, a pantry spoon, daddy’s rake, a Bob’s Red Mill flour sifter. During the year in question, there were three lightning strikes. Zeus had waited until the event was over. By then, it was mid-July. After, everything turned cataclysmic. The sky had darkened and cracked like onyx ice. By the time July was done with its bad-ass self, the lighting had struck and damaged crops twice in August and once in early September. By late September, Jessie had the delusion that he’d only lost a hundred hectares. Jessie keeps records. He rotates his crops. For the past fifteen years, it’s been primarily corn, wheat, and soybeans. The year of a thousand nights, it was corn. Last year, it was wheat. Jessie loves wheat. Cynthia Kadohata, the famous Japanese American author, loves wheat. She’d said, Alchemy 10


“You feel almost a part of the wheat when you’re sitting in a combine.” For those of us that make our homes out on the prairie, these words have never been truer. What remains under the Hickory tree? Remnants exist. But, mostly uptake and the seasons have taken care of that. A quarter-mile away from the edge of the field hisses Interstate Highway 183. All destinations are north and south. Drivers crane their necks, left or right, depending upon the direction of travel. It’s as if they are expecting something to rise out of the field. They all remember the year of the death star. Most locals say, “Whatever the hell is underneath, it better keep buried: mutilated tiny shovels, Martha’s minced flour sifter, the tortured silver pantry spoon, microbes.” How could any traveler of the universe forget the day, its dark harvest? During this year’s harvest, father Jessie intends to pilot the colossal John Deere combine again. He will make damned sure not to work after 2:00AM the night before. He swears under his breath that he will remain vigilant, watch for any green flapping of leaves, the slightest shifting of stalks, how they’ve grown up so strong. He’ll watch for any swaying, especially on the windless days. Still, the wheat, the corn, the tree grow taller.

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APHANTASIA Ash Kukuzke

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APHANTASIA SERIES Ash Kukuzke The Aphantasia series is an exploration of memory and loss without a mind's eye. Ash is an Iowa native living in Portland, Oregon. As a graphic design student, she mainly works in the digital space. In her free time she loves to create with all mediums, particularly those that include found objects.

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COCKS OF THE WALK Laurinda Lind After Marion Clarke painting Mourne Cottage To go into your own house, first you have to get past those four chickens and the way they crave your heart, your liver, your kidneys, your brain. The first chicken is anxieties that crawled in between the two halves of your head when you were a kid, then stayed. The second is how it freaking hurts when things are not as you foresaw them but only this noise that stops the moment you quit making it. The third is the anger, you have no branch to hang it from except for where it blows a hole in you. The last one comes around the corner bold as if brought back from the bottom of the lake, where you yourself could live long if you had to, chosen for a second chance. We all come up from water, the soup that sent us here. Where else would you go, once the chickens got you?

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FACING IT TOGETHER Jack Bordnick Alchemy 16


AND SOME OF Tiffany

pile lazily in the August heat at the bottom of the slope where the oak grove grows while a waving pattern of shadows shuttle with bits of gold across the glowing afternoon. Around and around and around a kettle of vultures cruise and climb the vaulted currents

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THE ACORNS Overby

And some acorns

still the Illinois River carves a ribbon of relief through the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

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SWIMMERS Ana Lopez

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HOUSE BOAT Anic

A house is a boat Downside up The roof slats keep The ocean out

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WASTE OF TIME Alan Vizuet EXT. FORREST -MORNING Jude urinates on a tree while Gabriel tries to read a map. SIR GABRIEL THE NOBLE, a gorgeous man with long black flowing hair. A sun symbol etched in a rich green stone embedded in the chest of the armor. JUDE THE DOG, brother and squire to Gabriel. A shaved head and mutton chops. Jude wears burlap with the sun symbolcrudely stitched to the front. Arms and legs geared with pieces of various types of armor, resembling a rusted rainbow. He's clearly in need of a good, long shower. JUDE This is so boring, I'm so fuckin' bored! Where the fuck even are we? GABRIEL Aren't you supposed to be my squire? Help me read this scroll. JUDE (CONT'D) Read the scroll? Wait, what the fuck... are we lost? GABRIEL (CONT'D) No, I didn't say that. I said help me read this map. I know where we are, I just need to know where we should be. JUDE (CONT'D) "Where we should be?" We're so fucking lost, you just can't admit it...What the fuck do I know about reading?! GABRIEL (CONT'D) Just get over here! Jude zips up and takes a step away from the tree. The ground collapses under him.

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JUDE Oh fuck! Jude!!!

GABRIEL (O.S.)

Jude plummets down a chasm within the landscape. He violently bounces off jagged rocks, breaking bones as he does. He reaches the bottom, smashing his head on a stone shrine housing the amulet. Both Jude and the artifact are thrown to the floor. After a moment of lifelessness, a glowing light begins to reach over to Jude. Taking the form of a green arm, the essence of the amulet lifts Jude's mangled body off the ground. Gabriel makes his way through the entrance of the cave across the magical situation. Jude's limbs begin to unravel and unmangle. The wounds seal shut, no scars or evidence of an injury are visible. Jude's caved in skull is buffed out, like a dent in a car. GABRIEL

Dear Lord.

Gabriel covers his mouth in awe. Jude's eyes shoot open as he desperately fills his lungs with air. He struggles to form words as he tries to communicate something to Gabriel. O... op...OP!

JUDE (CONT'D)

A still levitating Jude points to a knapsack Gabriel left on the floor. What, what is it?!

GABRIEL

Jude's words are weak and unintelligible as Gabriel puts his hands together and begins to pray in hope of an answer. GABRIEL Heavenly Father, please helJUDE OP!..OP! Jude's babbling intensifies and grows more annoying. A stressed out and now pissed off Gabriel SNAPS. Alchemy 22


WHAT?! OPIUM! NOW!

GABRIEL (CONT'D) JUDE (CONT'D)

Gabriel quickly reaches into the sack and pulls out a small bottle full of a light purple liquid. He cautiously reaches over to Jude, who's still suspended in the air. Jude rips the bottle from Gabriel's hand and downs the liquid in one big gulp. Whatever was holding Jude up quickly drops him on his ass. Jude lays on the floor as he slowly fades into a drug-fueled daze. Gabriel stands there, confused and terrified. GABRIEL ...I told you we weren't lost. EXT. CAVE -NIGHT A group of knights wearing tunics that sport a green sun try their best to avoid the war around them. Their horses run as fast as possible through the fire and arrows. SIR ELLIS OF NOTTING HILL, a grizzled old knight with a giant scar where his left eye should be, leads the charge. His armor looks as old as him, and as damaged. SIR ELLIS Aye men, we're not far off now! Stay strong and for Christ's sake use your damn shields! The knights arrive at the front of a hidden cave. Gabriel greets them with all the poise of a royal. GABRIEL My lord, always such an honor to be blessed by your presence. He bows on one knee, gently kissing the hand of the commander. A kiss so soft and perfect, it's a shame it's wasted on a hand. SIR ELLIS As much as I enjoy your honeyed words of praise, I believe we have more pressing matters.

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GABRIEL But of course. This way, my lord. Gabriel bows as he gestures towards the entrance of the cave. INT. THE CAVE -NIGHT The knights make their way into the cave. Jude waits for them, sitting on top of a big rock, half awake and covered in dry blood. SIR ELLIS (nudging another knight's arm) So you've finally proven yourself useful, aye Jude? Now what have we found? JUDE looks up flashing the most insincere of smiles, then continues to ignore the knights. SIR LAURENCE (CONT'D) You stand when the commander addresses you mutt... God you look like shit. JUDE Oh I know Sir Laurence, I haven't been through somethin that traumatic since the last time I saw that slag wife of yours. By the way how is dear Prudence? Laurence in anger unsheathes his sword. SIR LAURENCE, a doughy balding man who can't seem to form his own opinion. His armor looks as plain and boring as he is. LAURENCE You son of a bitch! you're deaBefore Laurence can finish his threat, Jude springs off his feet and drives the sword into his own chest. Everyone stares in disbelief as Jude struggles on the floor in pain, the life slowly draining from his face. Gabriel, seemingly unfazed, rubs his eyes in annoyance. GABRIEL Alchemy 24


Dear Lord... Jude finally dies from his impalement. His blood trails from his wound and under the feet of the knights. SIR ELLIS ...Well good riddance. Now, what have you for mSuddenly Jude springs back to life, unaffected by his own death. He slowly removes the sword to the disgust of everyone in the cave. JUDE (Said like ta-da) Huzzah! Jude headbutts a stunned Laurence. Shit!

LAURENCE

Laurence falls to the ground with a clearly broken nose. Jude pulls out a green amulet strung on a gold chain. The stone in the amulet glows in the torch light. He nonchalantly tosses the rare artifact to Sir Ellis. SIR ELLIS How on earth is this possible? GABRIEL Well you see sir, it's kind of a long story. I fell.

JUDE

GABRIEL (CONT'D) Yeah... he fell. SIR ELLIS You mean to tell me this bumblefuck stumbled his way onto one of the Lord's holy relics? No doubt one of the greatest discoveries since Jesus Christ himself walked among us?

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Uh...yuh.

JUDE

After a moment of uncomfortable silence, Sir Ellis erupts into laughter. SIR ELLIS It's about time your fuck ups actually helped us out, Dog. I mean after so many of them, eventually one had to right? The rest of the knights join in on the laughter in merriment, all at the expense of an unconcerned Jude. Sir Ellis wipes a tear from his eye as a thought begins to manifest in the back of his mind. SIR ELLIS (CONT'D) I hate to say it, but I think they'll even knight you for this, boy. The King himself will be in such good spirits, he'll most definitely want to reward us all. Jude finally pays attention as the words of Sir Ellis register in his inebriated brain. Jude slowly grins from ear to ear, a smile usually reserved for supervillains. Sir Ellis takes note of the smile, disturbed by the idea of Jude holding any form of power. Dear Lord...

SIR ELLIS

Sir Ellis holds up the amulet as the rest of the knights gather around. They stare deep into the increasingly glowing crystal. A green flash of light shoots out, as several arms extend out of the amulet, grabbing the heads of all the knights and bestowing the gift of immortality to them all. A GLOWING ARM SHOOTS OUT AND COVERS THE SCREEN. CUE TITLE CARD. CUE MONTAGE SET TO DEBASER BY PIXIES. EXT. LARGE SHIP -DAY -1492. Jude vomits off the side of the Santa Maria, as Columbus goes to comfort him. Jude vomits right onto Columbus' face, then washes out the vomit with rum. Gabriel intervenes, Alchemy 26


having to

stop Columbus from tossing Jude off the ship.

INT. SMALL PRISON CELL —NIGHT -1777. Gabriel, dressed in red, convinces the guards dressed in blue to release a drunk Jude from imprisonment. Both the guards and prisoners are bummed to see Jude go, as they cheer his release. Gabriel drags Jude out by his cuffs. INT. BACKSTAGE FORD THEATER —NIGHT -1865. Jude, now working as a stagehand, obliviously gives directions to John Wilkes Booth (gun in hand). Moments later Jude is startled by a gunshot, looks around him, and books it to the exit. Gabriel is seen chasing a fleeing Booth. EXT. DARK ALLEYWAY —NIGHT -1930. A drunk Jude and Louis Armstrong stumble down an alleyway. Each of them drinking their own bottles of whiskey, when an angry mob of police and Klan members cause them to start running away. Gabriel pulls up in a Cadillac 16. As the trio make a speedy getaway. The Klan members pass by the alley, revealing that Jude and Louie managed to draw a series of profanities and phalluses on the Klan hoods. INT. GREENROOM -1955. Jude sobs while his head is resting on the lap of a woman, a hand fitted in a luxurious silk glove gently caresses his head. The camera slowly pans up to reveal the woman is actually Marilyn Monroe. The expression on her face is that of true sympathy, like a mother's loving gaze while healing her kid's booboo. INT. BACKSTAGE -NIGHT -1964. Jude makes his way down a hallway. He passes by a door with a star on it. The star is labeled "Ed Sullivan." Jude lifts up a small baggie filled with small tabs and flicks it. He approaches another star door, but Jude's head covers the B on the door, the only letters visible is "-eatles".

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INT. CBGB —NIGHT As the song nears its end, Jude is seen dancing on stage. The years at the bottom of the screen begin to slowly count upward starting from 1973, each year change also sees the band playing change as well. The Ramones, Blondie, Iggy Pop, Pixies. As the band changes each year, Jude remains dancing, unaffected by the time-lapse. 2003, a man approaches Jude. 2004, the man grabs Jude by his collar. 2005, the man drags Jude through the crowd and into the back of the club. As Jude is thrown out of the club, the transition from indoor to outside, see the year change from 2006 to NOW. EXT. BACK ALLEY -DAY As Jude lays there in the gutter (similar to how he was in the cave), the man is revealed to Gabriel, dressed in an expensive Armani suit. You would never guess the two were related. GABRIEL For crying out loud Jude, I have to leave in a few hours. I don't need this shit! JUDE No. No. is fine, the band said I could go on tour with ‘em. Jude covers his eyes from the daylight. GABRIEL (CONT'D) My god. Jude, this place has been closed for 13 years. Do you even know what year you're in? JUDE (CONT'D) Dunno, don't care... what was I just in? GABRIEL (CONT'D) Dunno, some expensive-ass clothing store none of your friends from back in the day could ever afford.

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JUDE (CONT'D) Uhhhhh, you cunts. Jude throws a feeble punch to the sky. JUDE (CONT'D) If that was a store, then why did it still smell like piss? That would be you. Oh, right.

GABRIEL

JUDE (CONT'D)

Gabriel helps Jude onto his feet, Jude notices a woman staring at them, wearing a raincoat. Her thick curly hair catches his eye. GABRIEL I just wish you'd cut back on the drugs and alcohol. You're so much smarter than you present yourself. You have so much to offer and if the guys back home could just see a little of— Jude suddenly throws up on the rainy NY ground. The woman walks off in disgust. GABRIEL (CONT'D) Fuck Jude!... Look I have to go back to headquarters to give a briefing and we still need to do a final walkthrough of the house. JUDE ...yeah alright, let's go. EXT. FORREST HOME -DAY The brothers arrive at a nice-looking home outside the city. The structure slightly resembles a castle. At some point, between the gutter and the house, Jude inexplicably cleaned up. No longer resembling the piss-soaked bum from earlier. JUDE Oh thas’ nice eh? A little too close to home, but I can see why you like it so much

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GABRIEL Yeah. Yeah. get it out. It just so happened to work out this way, it's the most convenient location, alright? Besides, we're not going to have maids and servants like we did back in the day. No more getting your ass wiped, even if you probably need it. JUDE (CONT'D) Aight... Y'know If I'm bein’ honest I ain't ever really been comfortable in 'em big fuckkas, I always got lost every time I needed to take a piss. Gabriel, half paying attention, checks his watch for the time. JUDE (CONT'D) Memba’ that one time I walked in on the archbishop and that servant girl? You had to convince 'em not to lop my bleedin’ head off... I'm tellin you though, I always used to feel lost in that godforsaken place. The brothers make their way through the gorgeous palace of a house and into the backyard. JUDE (CONT'D) And say what you want, but I don't rememba the king ever havin’ a Jacuzzi with stone tilin’. Beats washin’ ya sack in those freezin cold lakes. Plus it has a beautiful loft where you can keep your trinkets and scriptures and alladat shite. As long as it doesn't get in the way a da 401K. C'mon, we'll get a foosball table, maybe finally get some girls over. I mean what's da point of havin’ all dem abs if no one eva gets to see 'em. Jude shoots a smile at his brother, Gabe shoots an awkward one back.

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GABRIEL Yeah maybe... Jude I'm serious about cleaning after yourself, I don't want to come back and find the house pillaged. JUDE Yeah. Yeah. This ain't the old days, I can handle myself better. GABRIEL (CONT'D) Alright, I'm holding you to that. Listen, I have to head out, Sir Ellis wants full status report. JUDE (CONT'D) Give him my best will you? Oh I do miss his fascist charm. GABRIEL (CONT'D) You know, it took a lot of effort on my end just to stop them from sealing you away in a tomb. After what you did... Look, I have to go now. JUDE Bye! Ciao! Don't get too wasted off Ambien and private jet champagne! Thas my job! INT. JUDE'S ROOM -DAY Jude unpacks in his new room, leaving it looking like a crime scene. Despite his complete disregard for appearances, Jude begins to immaculately organize his massive walk-in closet. A vast collection of vinyls, tapes, and music sheets. Jude erects a museum to all of music's history. Hundreds of years that would make any historian orgasm. At the end of this music maze, Jude puts the finishing touch by hanging a giant oil painting cased in museum grade framing and lighting. Jude begins to talk to the painting. JUDE Hey, it's been a while... I'm sorry about that, I know I should talk to you more. Gabe's out of town, but you

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probably already know that. I think he might finally be at his limit with me, and who could blame him? I'm pretty sure I hooked up with a mannequin. Jude's expression drops from chipper to gloomy, as he visibly becomes more tense. He looks away from the painting in shame, wiping a white powder from his nostril. Clearly he's been caught red-handed. JUDE I'm sorry. I'm sorry, alright?! I know this isn't what you wanted from me, I said I'd clean up and I'd get my shit together, but you're not down here with us! Alright? It's so easy to judge me from up in the clouds, must be nice up there. Too bad I'll never fuckin know!...I can't. I can't do this right now, I'll talk to you later. I love you. Jude grabs his leather jacket and storms out of his room. As he leaves, the painting is revealed to be a crude painting of Marilyn Monroe smoking a joint, throwing gang signs, and tatted to all hell. The painting looks like something you’d see at some shitty kiosk, on some t-shirt that costs 25 bucks.

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KAFKA'S APPLE Thomas Misuraca “The variety of views that one may have, say, of an apple…” —Franz Kafka

“A

pple!” Billy squealed with delight. The red fruit glistened in the sunny autumn sky. Billy spotted it immediately. He reached for the red sphere. “That one!” Mark’s son pointed to an apple high above his head. Figures, Mark thought. “It’s too high.” “Up, up,” his son commanded. “You’re too big,” Mark told him. And I don’t want to put my back out before my date tonight. “Let’s find a lower one.” Low-hanging fruit. Just like your mother. “There’s one.” The forgotten apples were always the highest ones. Sarah hated working at this stupid apple farm. Before they opened on Monday, Sarah and her co-worker had to go out and pick the apples that the obnoxious guests ignored while ravaging the orchid over the weekend. She wanted to work at the Halloween Adventure store like the rest of her friends. But she applied too late. Now she had to constantly touch sticky apples in this boring place. And work with this creepy guy who always stood too close to her when they were out in the orchid. Sarah set the ladder up under the tree. “Go.” “Why me?” the dork asked. “You’re taller.” She had no idea if he were or not. She just hated

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getting up on that ladder with this creepy guy standing underneath her. “Go,” Rex’s coworker said as she placed the ladder under one lonely hanging apple. “Why me?” Rex asked. “You’re taller,” she told him. Rex didn’t think that was true, but didn’t want to contradict the pretty girl who always smelled so sweet. He wanted to ask her out, but feared she was too popular to want to date a geeky guy like him. She held the ladder steady as he climbed. With a simple twist of the wrist, Rex plucked the apple fromform the tree. “Any more?” he asked hopefully. More apples would give him more time to summon the courage to invite her to see that new Marvel movie he’d already seen twice by himself. “No,” she said as she took the apple from him and placed it in her paper bag.

Low-hanging fruit. Just like your mother.

Scott accepted the paper bag of apples from the bubbly blonde girl. He stared down at the red fruit while she babbled something at him. Why was it always her who brought him the extras? Why couldn’t it be the adorable nerdy guy? Scott loved how excited he got about comic book movies. The girl wouldn’t stop talking. If it were the guy, they’d converse until the manager told them it was time to open the store. Maybe they’d have the same lunch break today. Scott got chills when the nerd explained the backstory of his current superhero obsession. The guy was clueless about how cute he was. Scott wanted to tell him, but feared he’d come off as a creepy old man. Granted, he wasn’t that much older… but there was no doubt this guy was inexperienced. Alchemy 34


Maybe that was part of the thrill. Then again anything was more thrilling than this endlessly gabbing girl. Scott barely paid attention to her as he inspected the apples and wrapped them in plastic bags to place on the shelf. Mildred inspected the bag of apples. They were getting smaller every year. She recalled the ones she’d eat when she was a kid. They were bigger than her head and tasted sweeter than candy. She could buy these, but knew they’d sit in the fruit crisper until they went bad. Her husband would never think of eating a healthy snack. Or exercising. Every year he gained more weight and let the rest of his appearance go. He was disgusting. She tried to hint at times that he was out of shape, but even broaching the subject evoked a slap from him. Let him have the chips and soda. With any luck, he’d die of a heart attack. Then she’d be rid of him. She put the apples down. She preferred oranges anyhow. Tim picked up the bag of apples. A quick check to make sure none were rotten before plopping them into his cart. Yeah, they were cheaper at the supermarket, but this was where she bought them, despite his complaints. And they reminded him of how autumn used to feel. As the pretty young girl rang up his apples, he tried to make small talk, “Is this place open after Thanksgiving?” “No,” she responded as if Tim had asked the dumbest question in the universe. “Gives you more time to focus on other things,” Tim meant her studies, but something in his voice sounded like he was suggesting those other things were him. Horrified, Tim stopped talking and looked down at the apples. He left the shop without speaking another word. The subtle scent of apples filling the car on the ride home brought back a flood of memories. Tim feared the tears would flow, too. But he was all cried out. 35

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He carried his bag of apples into the house and repressed the urge to call out, “Honey, I’m home!” The apples sat in the refrigerator until after dinner. What would have been their television time was now the beginning of Tim’s restless evenings. The pie project was a welcomed distraction. He removed the ingredients and placed them on the counter. Just like she used to do it. Tim sliced up the unsuspecting apple. Sally ran into her grandpa’s house. She stopped as she smelled something familiar. “Grammy?” Sally asked excitedly. “That’s right, Sally,” her grandpa said, “I made a pie using grammy’s recipe.” Sally remembered how her grandma would put a big piece of pie on a plate before her. Then scoop on ice cream. Followed by a squirt of whipped cream. With one extra squirt inside Sally’s mouth, making them both giggle. All the while, grandpa groaned impatiently, waiting for his piece. Today, grandpa placed a plate with a small, badly cut piece of pie on it. No ice cream or whipped cream. “Let me know what you think,” Grandpa said. “Be honest.” Sally took a big bite. She squealed in delight: “Apple!”

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CLIMBERS Elise Ricks

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PARASITE Christian Barragan

T

eon entered the basement bathroom, immediately noticing how much it had changed since the last time he entered, what seemed like an eternity ago. The garbage can stored an excess of waste that spilled onto the floor, filling the room with a putrid stench. The tub grew a cakey layer of mildew from sheer neglect. None of this bothered him, however, until he glanced at the foggy mirror and gazed at a face he could hardly recognize. His eyes had sunk in and the wet streaks across his face had not yet dried. He sighed heavily and reached down to pick up a piece of trash from the floor. As he drew a finger across the counter of the single-handle sink, he discovered a large cavity in the side of the mirror, burrowing deep into the wall. A small creature squirmed out of the opening and glanced up at him. “I can help you,” it said. “What do you suppose I need help with?” “I’ve seen you in here before, but I was too young to speak.” “You’re saying plenty now.” “I can take this sorrow away from you. Why do you regard me so?” “I’ve heard of your kind. I don’t mean to get involved with you.” “Do you know of anyone who has?” “Yes, many. They’ve seen your kind. You aren’t here to help.” “Friends?” “I don’t have friends.”

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“Do you feel this way for lack of friends, or do you not have friends for how you feel?” “...” “They aren’t here because of how you are. You can’t even leave this room. Any solutions?” “The last thing I need is to be chastised by an intruder.” “You have no problem taking criticism from others.” “What is it to you?” “You don’t need any of this sorrow. What’s a scourge for you, I find savory.” “What do you need?” “An arm. Or anything, but most people choose an arm. Look away if you want.” Teon allowed the visitor to ease onto his body and watched as it slowly nestled itself on his arm. It gave a slight pinch as it performed, but completed its task. In the end, it moved away from him and rested back on the counter, leaving a mess in its wake. Teon didn’t want to admit it, but he felt better. The sorrow spilled onto the floor, where no one else would see it. The visitor knew and squirmed back into its hole. The following day, Teon entered the bathroom in much the same way, at much the same time. The visitor crawled out of the dark hole and addressed him. “Shall we begin?” “I didn’t say I wanted anything. This is my domain. You don’t even belong here.” “This is my home. I’ve been here as long as you have. But you don’t belong in here like that. So let me fix it.” Reluctantly, Teon offered his arm again. The visitor climbed on

Pain shot through his limb, but he remained focused on the result.

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top and weaved a pattern on his arm different from the last time. Pain shot through his limb, but he remained focused on the result. He felt whatever hid inside him seeping out, spreading into the world outside, glad to be free from the confines of his body. Without saying anything, the visitor crawled back into its hole and left Teon alone to contemplate his experience. A week later, Teon came into the bathroom at around the same time. He patiently leaned against the tub, no more animated than before. The visitor came out unprompted but groggy. “Ugh. I was expecting you. Let’s get this over with then.” Teon held out his arm and watched the visitor converge onto his arm. Again, the feeling began to seep out of him. This time, Teon thought to stand in the tub while it happened. The sorrow spilled down the drain instead of the floor. Again, a mess, but the visitor was nonchalant. “You’re doing it wrong!” “Is it working?” “Yes.” “Then how could it be wrong?” “You’re only doing it because I asked!” The feeling started to come back to him, the familiar pulse through his being. “Now you’ve ruined it!” “I haven’t changed anything. Do it yourself, then. If you can.” The visitor retreated into its hole and did not come out, no matter how much the boy yelled. The next day, the boy came back into the bathroom, several hours earlier than usual. Teon yelled bitterly and sought out the visitor, but it was nowhere in sight. He reached into the opening by the sink and wormed his arm around in the expanse. How could such a large cavity be in such a closed space? 41

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He batted at the emptiness until coming across the familiar texture of his helper. “Ow!” “You shouldn’t have put your hand in there. You will get hurt. This is my home.” “This all belongs to me!” “Then why do you look so surprised?” “Are you going to do your job or not?” “This isn’t a job, I am not getting paid.” “You approached me first!” “Because it was beneficial.” “It is for me.” “No, it isn’t. Look at your arm. There is no room for me to work if I wanted to.” “Use another part then.” “Goodbye, Teon.” The apparition turned around and squirmed back into its hole. In a fit of rage, Teon reached into the hole and wrapped his clawed hand around the creature. Wincing through the pain, he pulled it out and slammed its blunt face against his arm. Compliant, the creature performed its duty but in the most detached manner. Teon waited for the feeling to go away. The sorrow seeped out of his body and pooled at the floor, oozing over his shoes in a flowing cascade. So he waited. He sat down as it ran over his knees and kept waiting, longing for someone to open the door.

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DRAWING FIGURES IN CIRCLES Lettie Jane Rennekamp In the past year, we, humans, have had to face many challenges. In the midst of those challenges- we wore many hats, secrets were revealed, and memories were made. All while the world continues to spin- in turn, we have had to face ourselves. Rennekamp feeds the hungry eyes + mind with our likeness in bold, colorful spheres“depicting motherhood, varying versions of gender expression, community, and nature all together.” Rennekamp writes, “These circular drawings are part of a new series of work exploring figures in confined spaces. The circle becomes a limiting space but also an invitation to revisit spaces and go deeper with past feelings.”

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SOUVENIRS Misty Harper

At the time, her friends tugged her With jokes about the collection. From every vacation and business trip She kept hairs of strangers Who stayed in hotel rooms before her. She taped them in a book like pressed flowers. By the time she was in her seventies, DNA modeling kits cost only $5, Carried even by convenience stores. She could see their traits, Their approximate portraits, Materialize before her almost As if they were sharing a meal.

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YOU NEED PERMISSION FROM NO ONE TO BE HAPPY

Jury S. Judge

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IRIDESCENT FISH STRUGGLING UPSTREAM

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Jury S. Judge


LOVERS Cross Harris

My heart raced Through the sea Came back to me Addled with foam And the sea beat With all its might Could not stand To watch me go

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CALLIOPE Zachary Lee

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TIME TO WAKE UP C. S. Carter

I

sat plastered to my rickety, wobbling chair, eyeing the dingy wall. A poster of Al Capone hung there in the kitchen, blood on his face. Not his vital fluid, but my own. I got all fucked up once and squirted the remnants of a syringe on the wall. Now it clung to the wall like old, fading paint. I sat there staring at this blood in a distant, catatonic stupor. Vacant, empty, completely devoid of emotional substance. My stomach began kicking and clenching. A tightening squeeze clamped on my weary skull. I mistook this feeling for dope-sickness, thinking I had better do more to stay well. As pleasant and euphoric and blissful as opiates feel, it is nothing compared to the despair I met when they began to seep from my system. As if my mind became a wet washcloth when I got high, and then wrung out completely as the drug left my system, leaving me like a dry towel with holes in it. There is a tattered, unraveling feeling. Then comes the vomiting and crying and diarrhea. Irrefutable pain, unbearable suffering I was forced to tame and overcome. There is no choice; to endure is insane. The only relief is more—more remedy, more ailment. Although I had just been slapped out of a coma, I decided to do another shot. I was by myself this time. As I injected the dope, I felt the icy pinch force itself up my arm. I tasted lemon as my vision began to blur like water on newspaper. The last thing I remember feeling was a resounding uh-oh. I rocked back into waking consciousness the way a drowning man gasps for air. A piercing, incinerating burn cracked into my shin and blinding fluorescent lights exploded in my eyes. I heard whirring and grinding as the drill bit twisted farther into my shaking leg. All of my being roared, writhed, and punched back at the horrible pain. I expounded

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everything I could from my crumpled body, and as I turned and cried, two men forced me back down, yelling at me. In my blurring, conflated vision I saw a bridled concern in their wide eyes. I squirmed and clenched, a slopping, bleeding, immobile puddle of puss. A whole crew behind the men hurried about frantically, shuffling and calling to one another. A deep ringing resounded in my ears. There, in that moment beyond fear, where the awesome realization of the fragility of life hung naked before the omnipotent certainty that is death. My last chance, the final moment. I raged and pushed back at the clutching hand of darkness. A timeless fire lit in my chest and scorched while I retched, coughed, and struggled to crawl back into my life. When my cousin came to my house that night I met death, he found me lying on my back covered in my own vomit. The terrible pain in my shin had been the doctors drilling a hole to give me fluids through my bone marrow. They were pumping out my lungs when I woke up. I can remember a giant, lubricated, coarse plastic tentacle creeping down my windpipe to breathe for me. They got the tentacle in, but I started vomiting from the sickness that rolled back on me, just in time. That octal tube filled as I began choking on my own vomit. I scratched at my face until blessed, blunted white coats showed up with a sort of electric toothbrush vacuum. They slid it in next to my elongated plastic lung and vacuumed out everything they could. I dried out there for three days. Yellow-labeled, unworthy—or incapable—of standing. A hazard to myself on my own feet. I received visitors who were absolutely horrified. All the while, I sweat and clenched and gnashed at the scratching, piercing pain inside. The pretty young nurses would smile big at me, trying to instill that sort of transferrable sunshine a smile can give. But it didn’t work. I didn’t care, I felt cold and dead inside. Then I heard it again. A beautiful, comforting song of love, a ballad that promised happiness and joy, respite and relief, despite the worst of pains. A subtly encroaching black death dressed up like a romantic, fairy-tale ending. The beckoning enticing song that heroine, that Alchemy 52


noxious siren, sings. No matter how bad things were, I found rational reasons for doing more. I checked out of the hospital and went back to my place. Quiet, dirty, empty, and boring. There were cans everywhere, most of them topless, cut in half for the lower crevice that acts as a nifty little bowl to cook drugs in. Black, ashy, pasty shit wiped all over the place. The black ash that tails a butane flame when cooking dope. I felt conflicted. I had failed all my classes and lost my ability to receive Pell grants or student loans. I had just been fired as a pizza delivery driver. And on top of it all, I was sicker than an ebola-stricken dog. A corrupted, overactive metabolism pumped battery acid through my heart, acid that bled into my eyeballs and made everything ugly. I was sore and sick and tired. Then I remembered—there was still a quarter of that fentanyl patch left. My heart danced and butterflies soared in my belly. My eyes welled and a smile mired in desperation formed on my lips. Fucking Christmas morning. I cooked the fentanyl up and did what I thought was a reasonably safe amount. The last thing I remember was thinking of cleaning up the old beer cans scattered about. I woke up on the floor hours later, clutching crinkled cans. I went back to rehab sometime after that. Then I went again and again and again. I must have returned to that stillborn motel six or seven times. I tried. Jenee, my counselor, seemed to support my conviction and sentiment about another way. She wasn’t one to tell me naught. As I left the last time, she smiled with careful eyes. “I hope you find peace, Cole.”

Time ticked by heedfully and I found myself lying in a dim room, like a confused blob awaiting feed. But I wasn’t hungry. I could hardly move, and my mind didn’t feel like producing constructive thoughts or even acknowledging much of the precarious situation I was teetering into. The room morphed into the gloved hand of experimental surgery and I became the participant, the one who had forgotten their name and what they signed up for.

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I had flown down to Mexico to eat ibogaine, a chemical constituent of the West African shrub Iboga. My mother had found ibogaine on the internet a year before I decided to give it a whirl. She knew I liked plants and nature and respected my resentment of the available recovery programs. My mind had told me I could have a psychedelic trip that might get me right. Now I cozied up like a befuddled, napping puppy. Mr. Doctor and the accompanying nurses stood there with studious gazes. Stillness and tension; they seemed to be preparing for an exorcism. I laid there between waking and dreaming, doped up enough to miss any details pertaining to what in God’s name I was about to experience. Carlos, the sweet nurse, lightly shook me awake and hooked an IV to my picc-line, which had been hanging there like a jagged ballpoint pen for several days now. I heard a click and snap, feeling pressure in the crook of my thin, shriveled arm. The tracks adjacent to the picc pinched in a nipping discomfort that reminded me of the utter desperation that led me there. A saline fluid gave me my liquids this way, because the medicine produces nausea that makes swallowing an enormous challenge. I shuddered as a coolness washed up my neck. Freddy, another nurse, stood on the other side of me, having wheeled in a big, old, clanking machine. Resembling a sort of sonar mechanism from a Soviet submarine, this rickety instrument was a heart monitor. I removed my shirt and lay there half-naked for a while, strangely comfortable. He plopped the sticky little suction cups on the pink parts around my nipples and heart. I saw the rising waves and torrents of what my heart spoke, the ongoing song that is my life. This all seemed a bit excessive to me, but I went with it. These were the professionals and until that moment, I had felt like

I saw the rising waves and torrents of what my heart spoke, the ongoing song that is my life.

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more of a bystander than a participant. Now, it seemed like some serious shit. Carlos leaned over me and whispered, “Good luck, my brother.” He gave me a sort of smile and was off. The smile confused me more than anything; it didn’t feel necessarily optimistic. Freddy approached me and I squinted at him with weighted, lazy eyes. He whispered softly, “Okay. Here is the first one, Cole. Then in twenty minutes I will bring another.” He motioned successively with his hands. “Every twenty minutes until you have had five.” I ate a few of the doses and fell into a sort of sedated, silent wishing well. All I could hear, all I could feel, was a quiet dropping, a dull echo, like water beads falling and plopping in an otherwise empty vessel. I huddled in a dense ball at the bottom of this black quarry until Freddy shook me awake again. “Here is another,” he spoke in his soft Spanish accent and walked out, signaling his return in twenty minutes. I responded by closing my eyes and receding into the empty caverns of my mind. Freddy shook me awake two more consecutive times and I continued to fall back into the eternal lull I had been living in for the past five years. Then, quite suddenly, I awoke to a strange sensation all over me. Little pins felt stuck into every single cell in my body, I heard the lights breathing. The electricity in the walls pulsated. What had just been a dim and silent room had become a bright cacophony of buzzing, sounds equating a giant electrical orchestra. I heard my arm waving in front of my head; I moved, trying to physically make sense of what was occurring. Moving, even thinking had become immense challenges. My first inclination was to fight, to resist absorption. It had begun to pull me in, and I felt the gravity of the Earth chewing me to bits. Freddy walked in, his sheer presence slapping me from my oneirophrenic slumber with a shaking reminder of real life. He passed me another dose. I held it in my hand, shaking. I felt rocks rolling around in my tummy, my body morphing into a giant piece of silly putty stretching in every direction forever and ever. An onslaught of feelings reverberated 55

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as I stared into my bottomless hand. I had to ask, “How many more do I have to take?” He looked at me in earnest. “This is the last one, Cole. No mas.” Relieved, I swallowed it and lay back down. My God, was all I could think. I had never felt such a physical contradiction. I collapsed and expanded, condensing and stretching, solidifying and liquifying all at once into a singular giant cell. Like a rock, hard and heavy, but with floating, sinking, detached arms and legs. The ceiling lit up, the dark room seemed to become splotched in twinkling lights, everything dissolved from its uniform structure and the walls and doors and floor began to run together into a merging matrix of raw material like ten candles melting into a unified wax puddle. The floor cracked and opened, vines reached from the Earth like swinging, moving blood vessels, and began pulling me into some dark crevice in space and time. I sank, falling, for what seemed like an eternity. And then I landed. I opened my eyes and stared into a blinding light. I felt cracked, powdered ground beneath my back. I dodged my gaze to my left and right, escaping the formidable shine in the sky. I could see to my left a dusted desert—rocky, barren hills—and to my right there was nothing. Scorched, dry, desolate earth as far as I looked. No trees, no plants, and no animals. Just blinding, hungering light above me and a mean, vacant wasteland beneath me. I didn’t know anything, other than I was alive and in a hostile environment. I continued to peer around me, seeking something, anything familiar or hospitable for human affiliation. Then I saw them on the horizon, scores of them. They came swooping and swooshing. I could hear them cawing, that bleak, unsettling call that crows make. A giant, flocking murder now flying my way, shading the sky in a tattered, black ocean. In no time they were above me. I stood there in awe. Then a swirling vortex, like water escaping through a drain, spiraled downwards toward me. I could hear the flapping wings and incessant cawing as they began pelting me like feathered rocks. I fell to the ground and flailed my arms Alchemy 56


and legs as they pecked at me, devouring me. They started with my eyes and my face, tearing away all the bits. It happened so fast, as if I had entered a landscape that expected me. The crows picked my bones clean and hopped around for a time. Then cawed off to a new destination. After the black, flying death departed, I left my body. I floated upward into the sun, watching my own bones lay there in this dry, withering world. Then I felt something: sadness, confusion. I had wasted my life. It felt like eons that I floated in that sky, reminiscing. Above me, the sun stretched in every direction. Streaking brushes of orange, red, yellow, and blue twirled, rolled, and laid upon one another like a pile of giant leaves on a universal lawn. A gargantuan head seemed to hang there, spilling out bits of cosmic brilliance. Then, suddenly, I felt the Earth pulling me back. I began sinking, slowly and lightly, like a shapeless snowflake until I landed on my own bones, brown and yellowed, practically turned to dust. I entered these bones again, reclaiming them, cracking and snapping my arms and legs. I didn’t struggle, I felt guided. I stood, or my bones did anyway, and I began stumbling and straggling in sloppy circles. My whole skeleton was intact somehow, except my skull,which I cradled in my chest like a mother would a child. Finally able to step straight, I walked. I felt movement in my bones as vessels and synapses and ligaments began to recompose. Arteries and filaments snaked around my skeleton as everything reformed. A walking jungle I became, the vines of my heart wrapping around my bones like trees. All that remained was my head, an eyeless, ugly thing. I had truly lost my mind. But there it was, in my hands. I patted my scalp as it began bleeding again, and stuck it on my shoulders. My skin then stretched over me, a wandering glove for the hand of my soul to fit.

They told me they were doing this work for me; they were to give me a mission, an important mission.

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Everything changed and I came to in the belly of a stone cavern. Alluring talismans and crystals were strewn on the walls. Curious plants proliferated from every crevice, reaching up and wrapping about the large, rounded stone ceilings. A fire burned and a small cauldron hung above it. Stirring the cauldron were two elders emanating prayers that spilled over the cauldron like colorful aural rivers. Two women, dark and wrinkled and decorated in symbols that evocated a timeless wisdom. They both gazed at me and spoke. There was no physical exudation of sound, but thoughts. They enunciated with their eyes and hearts and though they did not speak, I could hear them. They told me I am important. They told me I am a human being, and I have so much to offer this world. They told me they were doing this work for me; they were to give me a mission, an important mission. They called for me to stand, and as I did, they approached me, smiling now and looking at me with big, wide, loving eyes. They offered me a stone bowl and beckoned me to take it. I had never felt like anybody before this moment. Inside the bowl were two glistening gems, sparkling eggs that beat like little hearts. The gems glowed a soft pink, radiating and entering my eyes like the final slinking rays of twilight. The elders nodded in solemn understanding, and I opened my eyes. I was in the room now, with the IV and the heart monitor and myself. Mr. Doctor and Freddy quietly entered the room. They ambled over to me, seeming to sense the absolute awesomeness of my quest. Mr. Doctor spoke with his cracking, halted Spanish accent. “How are you, Cole?” I stared at them completely dumbfounded. “Are you having visions?” I could only stare, the idea of forming words and understanding someone else seemed like trying to do a pushup with my tongue. They continued pecking at me with questions. “Are you tripping?” I actually laughed. “Yes, Doctor, I am tripping.” Then they told me something or other they felt was important and stepped out, leaving me to myself and the mercy of this strange teacher. Alchemy 58


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I AM NOT A PSYCHO Adedolapo Boluwatife “Low angle view of my younger brother, jumping off a platform in my father's wedding outfit. The image was shot during lockdown in my parents' home in Lagos. The photograph symbolizes non conformity and freedom of action. The image depicts comfortability in an unusual atmosphere. Grandiloquence and freedom in one’s original and unfiltered lifestyle. The elevation and flowing form of the outfit further emphasizes the element of freedom, fun and enjoyment.” "I use my art to draw attention to various conventionally trifling items, and I attempt to bring out the most abstract and unusual elements through my images. I use photography to express my vaguest thoughts with fascinating compositions, unusual exposures, wide semantics and enticing gestures that hit the heart through the eye."

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LILITH WEEDS THE GARDEN Amy Baskin

Am I to understand that god created us in his own image? Of body, mind, and spirit— a venerable trinity that most will fail to recognize again and again? My body has churned up and spit out Adam’s seed on its own time and again. This time when I feel his child kick within me, I don’t want it. My chest pounds. My head rears back. I will buck this, I will. Body ready be damned. My heart is not in this. Something about him this connection our bodies forged needs to be broken.

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This is a grooming. A healing. Next time, I will glean the seeds of more appealing fruit. I find the outing weed make a poultice swallow it, think no more of it, then tend to all I want to grow.

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ON THE SHELVES MADE OF BONE Christina Poletto

The spaces between vertebrae hold hot water and the freight of sadness. They hold the blood that arrives too early between my legs. These spaces sing out low when I breathe, mournful and familiar (that ghost melody returns, oh no, and so soon) A stretch isn’t relief when you’re tautened; too much and it recoils like a cricket.

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The body is conditioned to protect the back bones that shelve jewel boxes of honey-sweet crumbs and possibilities to become something or other. The spaces get very quiet when they harden, they whisper “be still so we can remember.”

POMEGRANATE Natalie Shough

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T R A I N YA R D Deirdre Curley

S

he blinked slowly, the stars above twinkling back in a blurry haze, the moon in a thumbnail sliver. The gravel that lay beneath her was beginning to press pins and needles into her bruised flesh. She could feel the accumulation of blood slowly filling her mouth, threatening to drown her in platelets and pity. She groaned as she rolled to her side, blood and spit now dribbling out of her mouth. She spat into the dirt. She continued to lay there for a time, unmoving, space and time melding into an unknown haze. Finally, she took a deep breath, wheezing. Her ribs protested and she coughed. The train yard came into focus, the rusted, graffiti-covered structures looming above her. She pulled herself to her knees. A long release of steam sounded as the rattle of metal-on-metal echoed through the corridor. Although her body protested, the real and present danger of the large locomotives making their way down the various intersecting tracks made the need to move a necessary and inescapable action. She didn’t want to end up like the others, broken and abandoned and obliterated by a speeding train. She stumbled as she pulled her feet underneath her. In the dark, her eyes searched until she found the dirty pack splayed out near a pile of spent railroad ties, the contents scattered haphazardly where the pair had tossed it. When they found that she carried nothing of value or importance, anger led to the violence now written across her body. She shuffled forward with inhibited haste, picking up the scattered bits of her life along the way. Each time she bent over, a wave of

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sickness radiated from her head, threatening to throw her into darkness once again. Deep breath, steady, repeat. Keep on. She didn’t have much. Traveling via railroads required you to pack light and use your street smarts. What she had was the bare essentials—some unperishable snacks, a water bottle, a change of clothes or two, a small radio—and a small collection of sentimentals. The most important one, she noticed, was missing. She turned, scanning the ground behind her again, hoping that maybe she had just missed it. She scooped up the pack and upended it. A small, battered origami crane floated out and landed in the gravel, its emerald green wings blending into the dark gravel below. She sighed. The paper was thick and richly colored. She remembered when she first ran her fingers over the embossed swirls. Big hands guiding small hands, the pair eagerly, gently folding each crease, aiming for perfection. She wanted the wings of that crane to be strong enough to carry the world. Run with the railroad when their backs are turned. Run for the fences, Riley. She walked until the morning sun crested gently over the horizon. She was on the outskirts of some small town, making her way through empty lots covered in tufted hairgrass and weeds. Unsure if the beating had left her concussed, she had decided to walk through the evening, stopping only to relieve herself, which was a welcome short rest. Houses became more prevalent, and soon dirt roads turned into streets that lead her onto the town’s main drag. An old Walmart loomed in the distance; a place to wash up and pilfer some Band-Aids and peroxide to fix her face with. Besides the apparent beating she’d taken, she didn’t look out of the ordinary—mouse-brown hair that was pretty on a good day; average, slightly thin build for an eighteen-year-old girl due to periodical malnourishment; wide, cool-toned eyes; and a small, upturned Alchemy 66


nose—nor was she particularly that dirty, but she still felt the eyes of loss prevention following her around the store’s interior. Realizing she probably wouldn’t get away with the petty thievery, and not feeling particularly up to running for it, she reached into her bra, into the secret pocket she had cut into the lining, and removed a twenty. She had other hiding places for cash: a pocket sewn into her backpack’s leather bottom lining, a hole in between the cotton and the rubber on her shoe she super-glued shut, the aforementioned bra pocket. Never can be too careful, she’d tell herself. And rightfully so, obviously. She huffed, scooped up her supplies, and wandered toward the deli aisle. After collecting a few treats, she made her way to the front, where she plopped her things down on an empty conveyor belt that led to an older woman with a curly, salt-and-pepper bob. The cashier gave her a look of mild concern, followed by apathy, as she handed over the crinkled twenty. She shrugged slightly, collected her change, and headed toward the bathroom as she shoved her items into her bag. The mirror was not friendly. Her cheekbone was swollen around the cut. Black and blue and yellow traced its way around her eye. The knot on her head pushed her hair out slightly in a weird angle. She recognized fingerprints on her upper arm. She cleaned up what she could with sink water, paper towels, and peroxide, placing little butterfly Band-Aids as needed. Pulling up her shirt, she sucked in air as she probed the large bruise below her right breast; nothing seemed broken. The pain in her head had subsided, too. She sighed in relief. Next to the Walmart was an overgrown grassy area with a picnic table perched under a large oak where the smokers would take breaks. She smiled, the sun warm on her skin, a soft breeze blowing around the loose curls that framed her face. She could already taste the turkey and cheddar sandwich and cold glass-bottle Coke on her tongue. She sat down at the end of the long table, away from the huge ashtray, and tucked into her well-earned meal. Life’s small pleasures, she thought. With her wounds managed and her stomach full, exhaustion swept 67

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over her in a heavy wave. She pulled her bag onto the table, wrapping her arms through the loops multiple times, just in case, and laid her head down. Up over the mountains, Riley, when their backs are turned. You'll find the place you're promised. The sweet smell of magnolias lingered in her mind. Stained lace curtains and a slate-gray sky. Hail fell. She ran. The wind beat her back. She ran. A shout carried up through the woods. She ran.

The sun was shining down through the leaves, dancing across her eyelids. She smelled smoke. Slowly, she opened her eyes. At the opposite corner of the table stood a man, one black boot on the bench, cigarette burning between dry lips painted red. “Been lookin’ for you, Riley.” Run, run, run with the railroad … Get out of their sight … When the engine turns … Riley froze. Sharp, prickling fear rose slowly from her legs and spread across her shoulders. Quickly, she assessed the distance at which her brother stood and started to formulate her escape. She knew he was slow; years of cigarette smoking and drug use had crippled the former athlete turned criminal. She slowly started to withdraw her arms from her backpack straps and eyed the empty glass bottle that sat before her. “Don’t you move a fuckin’ inch or so help me, Lord, me an’ you are gonna mix, yuh hear me?” Abbot said. He flicked his still-lit cigarette butt in her direction. “What in the goddamn hell is tossin’ around in that fuckin’ empty Alchemy 68


head of yours, eh, girl?” he shouted, wagging a pointed finger in her direction. “You thinkin’ you gonna get away? Start a new life somewhere else? I got eyes ever’where, Riley. Waistin’ a goddamn week and five hundred fuckin’ miles of my time chasin’ after you, girl.” His tone increased in sharpness, malice spreading across his worn features as he stared at her, and she could tell that his hands ached to come down heavy on her head to rectify his perceived persecution. Coaxed by the slight breeze, the cigarette rolled gently down in between one of the table’s slats and found its way to the hungry, withered brown weeds that lay beneath. She waited. “Missy’s in the truck. And you can bet she gonna tan that hide o’ yours when we get back, if’n I don’t get to yah first. You ain’t seein’ the light o’ day again until I say so. You hear?” Quiet crackling began, slow at first, and then building to an unmissable, unavoidable sound. The quick orange flames licked up between the slats and threatened anything that stood in its path. “Fuck!” Abott cursed, jumping backward. Wasting no time, Riley burst out of her seat, backpack in hand, and grabbed the bottle and ran. The asphalt in the parking lot shimmered as she sprinted across it. She heard the old Chevy before she saw it. Missy didn’t care about other people’s property; she didn’t care about much at all despite being a mother of two girls. What she did care about was meth, money, and Abott James Dean III. The engine revved and Missy picked up speed in Riley’s direction. Lyrics: "The Railroad" by Goodnight Texas

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LET ME BE ME Kristofer McRae

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THE RELUCTANT GARDENER Mandy Teel

I lean in and whisper to my orchids— Do you ever feel like screaming and apologizing all at the same time? The next morning, a flower withers and falls. I ask my Venus Slipper, too-tenderly, “Do you need help to feel unstuck?” sshink go the shears, eager to ssnip, to toss away the growing pains— her visibly cramped limbs and hands. To garden is to try to give hope is to: Propagate: To put a clipping in a jar, to let it grow radicels roots run riot. My depression is: Dirt underneath my fingernails. My inability to water the plants.

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or die,


A stomachache on a sunny day. Forgetting to turn the lights on. Watching my once-precious plants begin to droop & sag, and feeling like an empty watering can. I saw a headline today: “The Sound of Solitude”. I snatched it up, and shredded it, its crisp clean strips littering, drifting into the compost pile, like snow onto the mossy ground. How beautiful. ooossh goes my breath on an exhale, and the wind – quiet thief – turns the heat off my skin into ice in the air. The gardening gloves are half-buried in the snow, a proper natural funeral. I find sad comfort in a sigh, and in the soft snow moon’s glow, watch my garden slowly die.

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LO S T Ari Schill

In my lineage, there is a familiar, similar wound where feedback rings as vision narrows, gravity weighs heavier; off balance splintering heart echoes like knuckles cracked underwater beating the story out of me as language & culture were whipped out of them

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EXTINCTION Elis Gjoni Alchemy 74


THEY Anic Ulrope

D

on’t look now, here comes “the brown man.” They look happy, running around in color playing with plastic toys. I become jealous, enraged at the homemade commercials, spliced videos of families at the beach. The waves sound like a secret message, a promise or a mantra that I use to sing myself to sleep oh glory hallelujah praise god amen blessed be thy motherfuckin’ name, I am Her. I have arrived, unmarked, disarmed. Show me your arm, the way it looks after you get blood drawn and quartered strewn across exposed brick and bone -- if you have to ask, you are not worthy. I have to tell you, because no one else will, to stop calling the UPS man “the brown man.” Don’t laugh when the dog barks and threatens “the brown man.”Don’t teach the dog. Like a thoughtless, long-nailed teacher scratching the chalkboard to look for answers, you will not find them, ma’am, at the end of a beer can.

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ONE FOR ALL Emel Karakozak

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BAUBLES Tasha Bundy

AMERICAN PASTIME Tasha Bundy

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EXPOSED FOUNDATION Airea Johnson

T

he summer tornadoes tore through the town, knocking everyone’s power out. The community flocked to Jesus; the world could have been ending. One morning, over candlelight, the pastor read a few verses from Ezekiel. So this is what the Lord God says: I will release a whirlwind in my wrath. Torrential rain will come in my anger, and hailstones will fall in destructive fury. I will demolish the wall you plastered with whitewash and knock it to the ground so that its foundation is exposed. At home I scratched my thumbnail against the amber walls. I assumed they were once white, pearly behind the photos in the kitchen. Years of smoking indoors tarnished them. In Sunday school the teacher told us that God has a book that tells him who will go to heaven and hell. My mother, sister, and I walked barefoot on the tar-bubble road because the summer nights were cooler than the trailer air. We walked to the stop sign at the intersection, kicked rocks down the street. My favorite part about not having power was the quiet. Everyone smoked cigarettes on the porch and went to bed early. For dinner we roasted weenies over a fire, ate them on stale buns, washed them down with warm Mountain Thunder as a treat. This was a scene we’d rehearsed before: the family roughing it on a school night, still believing that things would get better.

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METAL TO MILKSHAKES Joelle Byars

M

y father lived in a trailer in the woods where he indulged in the luxury of creating and using methamphetamines. The divorce or the

meth or the prostitutes took a toll on him. His full cheeks had sunken and either the stress or depression was peppering his dark patchy beard with grey. His eyes weren’t the color of honey anymore, they dulled like antique brass. His skin became covered in wrinkles and pockmarks. He looked like he was in his late fifties, but when he was at his worst, he was still only thirty-six. He learned how to weld in high school and kept it up for the side jobs where he was illegally hired. All his skills had resulted in him stealing worthless pieces of scrap metal from industrial job sites so he could weld them onto his trailer for “security.” His favorites were cover sheets from metal roofing shipments. They were just used to protect the roof and so they were always discarded, no one would miss them. Hell, they’d give them away if you asked. He insisted on stealing them anyway, “It’s safer this way, Addy.” They were always welded so the universal white back sides were facing out, that way no one could tell what job site he took them from. The last thing he welded over was the front door. “You never know who’s gonna want to get in. Screen doors are easy to cut and then all they have to do is kick in the second door.” “Why would someone want to get in?” “By the time you find that out, it’s too late.”

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The divorce happened when I was two and he was a good father for the next eight years. My mother was always gone with her new husband—who would later be arrested for embezzlement and failure to pay child support to his previous wife Mom never knew about—traveling to places I’d never heard of and bringing me back postcards with the name in ugly white letters: Mozambique, French Polynesia, Sri Lanka, Delaware. Every time she came home it was just long enough to tell me how much she loved her time away, each time in a voice that sounded more and more pretentious. I was never invited. She would just say, “It was beautiful, darling. I wish you could have seen it.” The more she was gone, the more time I spent with my father. He packed me lunch every morning for school always with a Capri Sun—strawberry kiwi was my favorite—played video games with me after dinner and homework, and would let me pick only one movie to watch. I chose Atlantis: The Lost Empire most frequently. It had the longest running time and I thought the teenage mechanic girl was badass. My favorite was The Jungle Book though, the music was the best and my dad knew all the words to King

His eyes weren’t the color of honey anymore, they dulled like antique brass.

Louie and Baloo’s song “I Wan’na Be Like You.” By the time I was ten he started getting worse. He spent more time stealing materials to build a shack behind his trailer for more secure cooking. I spent more time at friends’ houses and at the Wallflower Diner where I could ride my bike to in twenty

minutes. He started yelling at himself. I started running every day. He started locking himself in his bedroom. I learned how to make myself food. He met a woman in the parking lot of a bedbug infested motel—the parasites would turn out to be a gift from her that would live in the trailer until I eventually moved out, covered in red, itchy bite marks. Her name was Rockie, a lanky blonde—taller than my father—who was so skinny I could count her vertebrae when she walked around in her bra. Reduced to only three teeth, she spoke with a severe lisp I’m not Alchemy 80


sure she always had. Then again, I also don’t know for sure if her real name was Rockie or if it was just what she told Johns and what my father accepted. I heard him talking to Rockie in his room after school once. I kept quiet and listened from the other side of the door. “She’s talking to the police, I fucking know it.” He was trying to whisper but his anger wouldn’t allow it. “Are you thure?” “Why else would she be so quiet? What is she fucking hiding?” I liked her. She had a tattoo of a snow globe on the outside of her upper right thigh that said “Miami” in a font that looked like it was etched into her leg instead of tattooed. On the bad days of my father’s paranoia, she would give me some money to get out of the house and hide at the diner. I would alternate between the tuna melt and meatloaf, always with a chocolate peanut butter milkshake. They used Skippy peanut butter like it was milk and it would become so thick a straw was useless. The shake nearly stuck to the roof of my mouth. Half the time I would fill up on it before I even got to my food, so I would scoop whatever greasy mess they gave me into a plastic to-go box and have it for dinner. After a few months the waitstaff all knew me by name, along with a woman in her fifties named Isla who co-owned the restaurant with her husband. Isla is still the sweetest person I’ve met and, unfortunately, had an uncanny resemblance to Danny Trejo. She took me under her wing and eventually stopped charging me for food if I brought my homework there and did it in one of the red pleather booths. When she’d bring my food, I always said, “Thank you.” Normally, she responded with a smile or would say, “You’re welcome.” But I remember the one time she sat across from me in the booth, “Addy, would you like a job here?” I was shocked, “Really?” I was babysitting around town to make enough money to help my dad with the bills, but I was still too young at fourteen to 81

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have a legal job. “We will have to pay you cash, all under the table, you know. But if you want to make some money, we could use a dishwasher.” Her teeth were stained and her voice had a rasp only cigarettes could achieve, but her smile was infectious. “We’d love to have you.” “Thank you so much!” I got up to give her a hug and felt her reach behind my back to wipe her eye. I didn’t say anything about it. Two years later, I’d been promoted to waitress and I was finally kicked out. My father was convinced I’d bugged the house and refused to hear anything else I had to say. “Where the fuck is it, Adeline?” He was tossing the stained, cigarette-burned cushions off the couch frantically before

The last time I saw my father alive, he was already gone.

flipping it on it’s back entirely. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I was still in my diner uniform from my shift earlier that night and used my stained apron to wipe my eyes and blow my nose as I tried not to cry but failed. “You’re a fucking liar! Where do you go all the time? You talking to the cops?” He stood as close as he could to me without touching. His eyes shifted back and forth, and though they sometimes pointed in my direction, it was like he didn’t know how to look at me. “Dad, I just go to school, cross country practice, and the diner. I don’t do anything else.” “That’s bullshit!” He stomped over to the television, yanking the cord out of the socket before pushing past me and throwing it outside in the rain. “It’s not! I—” The last time I saw my father alive he was already gone. His bones had consumed him, his skin was torn and brittle, his eyes turned the color of dark treated bronze. His hands were wide and looked fragile but stung like a leather belt when he backhanded me. I ran out of his metal-shelled trailer with my backpack, past the broken television, and rode my bike back to the Alchemy 82


diner before Isla went home for the night. I saw a light still on in the kitchen and banged on the window as hard as I could with an open hand. Isla came out and saw me with blood trying to dry on my face, my soaked stringy hair, and an unrelenting wave of tears. Frantic, she opened the door and I collapsed into her arms. “I can’t go back there…” “You don’t have to.” My final two years of high school I lived with Isla and her husband. He was a nice man, but kept his distance. His name was Dennis. Six months after graduating, I got a call from Rockie saying my father had died of an overdose. “It’th not my fault, I promith.” She was sobbing on the other end of the phone and I could picture her using her tongue to push out her lips in between gasping breaths. “Rockie, it’s okay. Thank you for telling me.” I didn’t cry for a week. I don’t even know if I felt anything. I refused to go to his funeral even though my mother and Isla went. After it was all over I went to his gravesite and curled into a ball next to his headstone. I stayed there for hours, crying on and off, singing “I Wan’na Be Like You” quietly through my raw, tired throat and remembered when I was little and we used to argue about him cheating by looking at my screen during Mario Kart. When I couldn’t cry or sing anymore I put a strawberry kiwi Capri Sun on his headstone and went home to Isla.

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2084 Jodie Filan Alchemy 84


Loprete uses plaster, resin and cement to transform his personal articles of clothing into artworks, stating "the intended effect is that my DNA and my memory remain inside the concrete, so that the person who looks at these sculptures is transformed into a type of postmodern archeologist, studying my work as urban artefacts... Those who look at my sculptures...will be able to perceive the anguish, the vulnerability, the fear that each of us has felt in front of a planetary problem that was COVID-19. "

UNTITLED CONCRETE SCULPTURES

Mario Loprete

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A HOT DOG IN THE PANDEMIC Amanda Dobbs Today, I made a hot dog for my daughter, And I burned it just a little. And I felt guilty. Because I know making a hot dog “just right” matters when you can’t leave the house. And because I was using up precious supplies on “just lunch.” And maybe one day soon, there won’t be any more hot dogs. And maybe one day soon, there won’t be any more buns. And maybe we could have had a sandwich (oh, but the bread is precious). And maybe we could have had cereal (oh, but the milk). Today, I made a hot dog for my daughter. And I felt grateful. Because hot dogs are her favorite, with a little bit of ketchup. And because my mom used to fry me hot dogs in butter. And maybe one day soon, we’ll have hot dogs at the ball game. And maybe one day soon, we’ll have sandwiches at the beach. And maybe one day soon, we’ll have cereal for dinner, “Just because,” And not because it’s the apocalypse. I guess a burned hot dog’s not the end of the world. So to speak.

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FEAR Beverly Joyce

A

lifetime ago, a man said we had nothing but Fear to fear. Was he wrong, or was he right?

Or, just might he have been neither? This, I ponder under a thin shroud of lidded parchment paper in that

fuzzy hour when night mistakes himself for day, a couple ticks before the buzz-bright sends me to trudge downstairs to scald drip drop crushed beans in a pot again. Familiar with Fear, I am. He has been my friend for months now. Anything would I give for this truth of a life I no longer recognize to be a lie. Sadly, the reality is that, like a lost dog, he heel-follows in my shadow wherever I go and he hip-sits beside me inside these four tan, white-trimmed walls all day long. He has for nearly a year housed himself in every crevice that is me. He knows all my dreams, my doubts, my wants, my regrets, my loves, my thoughts. He sniffs out, as a droopy-eyed hound, my weak, and feels around it with no fingers at all until he finds his way, deep down to that spot that, when touched, every time will chop-knock me to my knees. The scars on my caps, tough like hard crust atop fresh bread, and of a color that straight differs from the rest of my skin, evidence the crumbled position I am often in. Why? Love. Of a mother for her daughter. Fear, he grips her prisoner in our modest home, locked upstairs, behind invisible bars, in her miracle shade of purple paint that covers not the earth (as the can promises) but just her room. Like a pretty crown in a tower guarded by scales that breathe fire, she twiddles her little glitter thumbs until her vial prince comes. 87

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She, my quirky girl, from first breath, has known illness. No innocent youth has she been blessed with. From the age of but two, she knew how it felt to sit in the windowsill and to lonely watch the other kids out where the sun spills its happy hop and sled and jump and cycle without a care in the world. Like cargo hay stuffed in crates, packed, lidded, and wound with twine, does my child stay bound to a clock that tells time like a bad joke. Neither fast nor slow does it move; rather, it seems to full stall and fails to tick at all. To stand still is the prank it has pulled. Few understand how it feels to exist as if dead. At just ten, it is pitiful how well she has mastered this skill. It is as if she has put her petite self up on the pink wooden ledge above her desk that shelves her dolls she has not the nerve to throw out yet. Like them, she fixes a fake grin in that location above her chin, eyes ever open to the realization that most adults in this, since its start, great nation would have her in a hole covered in dirt, than to be troubled with wearing a mask or with being asked to stay apart for even a little while. Hidden away behind doors and walls and windows and shields, I every day beg, plead, demand, bargain a deal for it to finally be her turn to be pricked like Aurora, not to sleep, but---to live. Another year, is what I am told. And so, it appears this mate of mine who lays claim to my soul never intends to leave me alone. Oh, let me tell you, he has no qualm about making himself comfortable. He wiggles his bum into the small gap between my cheek and the arm of my teal chair, pulls the afghan draped there overtop us both. He nestles his curls in that soft angle where babies, back rubbed, burp their innocence, not quite shoulder or neck. But, crook? The musk he leaves behind when he eventually plucks himself out of our cocoon and -- “ nice”-- reminds me how nowhere is Fear going any time soon. Well, fuck. I suppose the saying which sounds something like this: it is wise to hold your foes close, here applies. For, instead of fighting Fear, I bear his hand. Like sweet to bees, I lure him into my palm creases, though his honey Alchemy 88


I most certainly am not, because his finger sweat left behind in those tiny line ditches lets me figure his next move, as in a good game of chess, before he makes it. There is no foe of ugly way for that fleshy stalactite in the back of my whisper cave to convey to an unused womb what a mother will endure for her young daughter. Like the common pawn which squares itself between the treasure and the enemy, will she hock what she can to ensure her child is the one who moves forward. She will check herself into Hell, prepay to confirm the reservation, with zero regret or hesitation, for a room with one king, where behind the numbered peephole, chained Fear can do anything he likes. She will do this if it means her heart who skips rope outside her breast in the driveway alone gets to push-button fold-closed the long gone gray-black shingled umbrella which has kept her safe so far, and abandon it forever in the tall, slightly dented at its edges, metal circle that rusts in the corner of the tiled foyer, on her face-naked way right out the front door.

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DOGS DANCE IN DECORATIVE CAGES

ryo bangs Alchemy 90


PANCAKE HEARTS AND SWEET SYRUP KISSES Lio Jones The sun shines in my window Peeling me away from the comfort of my bed like the skin of an orange my joints crack and protest crumbling like bacon with no more fat to give the frying pan I turn on the coffee maker hoping the caffeine will help my scrambled egg brain turn over easy The oatmeal skin on my feet catches the worn wool of my slippers rubbing the tips of my toes raw Her snores dance into the kitchen filling the empty space in my cup with sweet cream and giggles

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My pancake heart flips with her yawns Sweet syrup filling my mouth with her kisses It’s breakfast time I tell her though she already knows The dimples in her cheeks savory like quiche I want to savor this moment live in this buffet with her In sweet syrup kisses and pancake hearts Scrambled egg brains and weak bacon knees Orange peel skin and sweet cream giggles

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EMBROIDERY Sofiya Levina Sofiya Levina is a Russian-born embroidery artist who blends idiosyncratic characters and abstract environments to represent her internal worlds. “I started a custom embroidery business to share my love of design with others and contribute to the beauty of creation. One of the main values of my brand is 'things of quality have no fear of time' and I'm very proud to continue a family tradition of hand-embroidery and bring it into the 21st century.”

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AVOCADO LEAVES AND MANGOES Alexander "99" Orozco Garcia

I

t is a fault of humans to think, once they’ve mastered their circumstances, they no longer will be mastered by them. My father was

no exception. To me, my father was the smartest man I knew. His experience and age were a testament to his wisdom. He knew how to solve any problem because, in his world, limitations and apprehension were not an option. My dad would say, If people stopped at the first attempt, we would still be living like the Aztecs. Many of the values my father holds come from his upbringing. Born in a small town in Michoacán, Mexico, my father raised goats and pigs at a young age. He has known about hard work since the age of seven. He hated raising farm animals because, rain or shine, or if the world was collapsing, he had to wake up early in the morning so the goats could graze. The bosses he had in the United States were nothing compared to the ones in Mexico, because the Mexican bosses needed to eat every day, twice a day. That’s not to say the managers, supervisors, and bosses he had in the United States were nice. Immigrants were (and still are) seen as disposable. If they were unable to do the job, there was always someone who was willing to do it. To survive, my dad made sure every job he did was perfect. I remember when I would mow lawns with my dad. During those grueling Saturdays, I mowed lawns without any care. All I wanted was to go home, but my father didn’t approve of my methods. For each house, he made sure that no blade of grass was left uncut. I didn’t understand why.

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The grass was cut, who cared if a few blades were taller than the rest? No one in their right mind would stand in their yard with a ruler measuring each blade. It looks nice, he said. That is why his clients wanted their lawns mowed. He would tell me to turn the lawnmower on and mow slower this time. It didn’t matter if the sun set or if my mother’s supper was waiting for us, the grass needed to look nice. It was frustrating to have to redo the monotonous process I had been doing all day. But I would, because my father knew better than I, and, through his work, he showed who he is: a perfectionist. I never questioned my father, for whatever he said was law. His explanations on the intricacies of the world parted the clouds, letting the light in. To the mind of a child, it all made sense. But there were times when what I learned in school conflicted with what my father would tell me. During the elementary years of my life, I learned that earth consisted of seven continents, each continent inhabited by people who created societies in them (except for Antarctica). I remember telling my father what I learned. He looked at me appalled, as if I had committed a crime. He said, That is wrong; there are only five continents. I didn’t know what to say other than to reiterate what my teacher told me. But he insisted that THEY were teaching false information. His justification was that, yes, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia were individual continents. But the Americas were one continent and not two separate continents. And Antarctica didn’t count because it was not inhabited by people. My mother interjected, saying, You should listen to his teachers, they know more than we do. My father replied, But obviously, they don’t because they base maps off lines on the ground rather than natural separation of land, the malice of some men to keep the Western world separate. Both arguments made sense to me. But who was right? I didn’t know who to believe. It was like two salespersons trying to sell me the same product. And for a long time, I didn’t know who to side with. The same rigidness that solved any problem stunted any progress. This rooted mentality is what caused my father’s constant conflict with Alchemy 96


an avocado tree. He knew how to grow any plant. He took pride in his small vibrant garden. For him, it was easy to grow plants. It was as simple as putting them in the sun, throwing some fertilizer, and adding water. I remember my dad’s mango tree. It produced bountiful mangoes. But it was the avocado tree that bothered him. This dumb stupid tree, year after year, refused to yield fruit. My dad would water it, fertilize it (using both compost and mineral fertilizers), prune it, and in desperation, talk to it like a therapist. He didn’t care about the mango tree, which produced mangoes every year without fail. He stopped caring about the squirrels that robbed the mangoes. All he cared about was the avocados. Every morning before going to work, he would check the avocado tree for any budding fruit. The stubborn avocado tree taunted him each day. The tree was vibrant, healthy, and pruned. One day, as we talked outside, he said, I don’t understand. It has been three years and look, it’s just avocado leaves. Avocado leaves and mangoes! The two, my dad and the avocado tree, were obstinate, like bulls ramming their heads. Such is the nature of bulls: they do not give in, and for years my dad and the avocado tree

The winds to me why he tried so hard only to achieve that day were nothing. If there is a will, there is a way, he strong, but not said, eventually the damn thing will give in strong enough and do as I say. Years later, my father lost to uproot my the fight to the avocado the day he sold our father from his mobile home. beliefs. My dad and I, on a sunny Sunday, went asserted their wills. It didn’t make sense

to the swap meet. We intended to buy some parts and tools. One of the vendors called for my father’s attention. We approached his stall and my dad asked, How can I help you? The vendor asked my father for his age, and my father revealed that he was in his forties. My friend, the vendor, said, I know because I am also forty that you must suffer from pain. My father’s dissident face turned inquisitive. I have a miracle crème, sir it can heal any 97

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pain, said the vendor. It must’ve been fate, for my dad was suffering from shoulder pain. The vendor clarified that the magic crème was a concoction of coconut and marijuana. My dad turned his head away from the vendor. Who was this man with these obscene cremes? But sir, the vendor coaxed, There is no harm in what I present, it has been proven to work. My father said, Compadre, a term of camaraderie between Mexicans, I ask you to please leave that drug alone, I know what it does, it only causes problems. The two men, deep-rooted in their philosophies, were like the avocado tree. I felt a slight embarrassment because my dad could’ve ended the entire debate with a “No, thank you. Have a good day.” Instead, he chose to educate the vendor on the harms of marijuana. I was only twelve years old; I didn’t know much about drugs or the dangers of them, but I knew it was not that serious. The vendor came off as sincere to me. I could tell that he did not mean any malice. The vendor opened the jar and raised it up for my father. He said, All I ask is for you to try it. Seven inches away from my father was a jar of CBD pain-relieving crème that the vendor offered for free, but my dad refused. I couldn’t believe it. His pride was too valuable. The winds that day were strong, but not strong enough to uproot my father from his beliefs. At the age of eighteen, I started working as a landscaper. One day, I asked my boss what he knew about produce. He said when he first came to the United States, he would work in the fields. He harvested cucumbers in Washington, so he knew about that, he harvested oranges in Florida, so was pretty knowledgeable on those, and blueberries in California. I asked him what he knew about avocados. He said, Yeah, I know about those. I told him about my dad’s long fight with avocados. He chuckled and said, Avocados only yield in pairs and avocados don’t self-pollinate well. It was such a simple solution. It made sense, since in the fields there are thousands of avocado trees that can cross-pollinate. I thought about the avocados and I thought about my dad. In a way, he was right about the avocados. If there is a will, there is a way. But his brute manner absolutely inhibited any result. On the same day, as I came home from work, I met my dad in the living Alchemy 98


room. I told him what I knew, what my boss told me about the avocado trees. My father sat upright. He looked puzzled. He mulled over the words I told him. I could see in his eyes that the clouds had parted and let the light in. Without a word, he stood up, turned the television off, and walked away. I was confused. I thought he would like the good news. Stubbornness is what clouds judgment; it is choosing to only look forward and not realizing the path is the other direction. The next day, he returned from a nursery with not one but two avocado saplings. His joy could not be contained for he donned his hat, his boots, his shovel, and got to work. And for the first time, I saw my father not as my father but as a person.

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CLASSIFICATION III Kathy Bruce

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FACE IT Coco Spencer

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BULLET IN THE CHAMBER Angie Dribben A bullet in the chamber -for Travis of Tiger King He holds a gun to his own head he says Reugers don’t fire without a clip. Smiles and squeezes the trigger. 19, tan and tall, still has all his teeth. Strung out when he got there, strung along to stay. Young people are easy like that. Their limbs don’t yet seem to have any sense of direction. Easy prey. Tiger cubs, tannerite and gallon Ziplocs of weed making Oklahoma look fun to a California boy. What I wouldn’t give to have loved him as I love all young boys, like sons. To lift him up off his bleeding knees. Taught him not to pick at scabs, makes scarring worse. Swab his wounds with the orange stain of mercurochrome. But I never had a son

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PLEASE DON'T LET GO Adam Deutsch

You carry us, like a navel orange that I want to tear open right on the kitchen table that’s bruised with glitter from some second grade project. Then the juice will join into the wood, and I’ll stick to it. Then ants will ride the aroma to join the room and we’ll all petrify. The wood, this work we’re in, and a colony, bound like fruit in a nylon mesh bag rotating in a swing from a grip and wrist, about to release, a chuck in air.

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DOESN'T EVERY TOUCH FEEL LIKE A COLLISION?

Despy Boutris

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CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS AND ARTISTS ryo bangs | Contributor ryo sakura siobhan kamakaoka'ino/kamālie i ka polio kamakani pā hili bangs is a multimedia artist in pdx, OR. their primary medium is collage, exploring a mix of illustration and papercraft informed by a background in color theory and design. their current body of work discusses trauma, cultural heritage, and how to cope with emotions you haven’t named yet. Christian Barragan | Contributor Christian Barragan is currently a senior at California State University Northridge. Raised in Riverside, CA, he aims to become either a novelist or a screenwriter in the future. His work has appeared in Pif Magazine, Coffin Bell, and Twist in Time Magazine, among others. Amy Baskin | Contributor My work is currently featured in VerseWeavers, Pirene's Fountain, and SWWIM. I am a former Oregon Literary Arts Fellow, a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, and an Oregon Poetry Association prize winner. When I'm not writing, I match international students at Lewis & Clark College with local residents to help them feel welcome and at home during their time in Oregon. Adedolapo Boluwatife | Contributor I am a fine art photographer, filmmaker and journalist from Lagos, Nigeria. I studied English and Literary studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria. My works are mostly fine art pictorialism, portraiture, documentary, street photography and a bit of product, still life, landscape and fashion photography. My works have been published on both print and soft platforms, such as Photovogue, Vogue Italia, Nataal Magazine London, African lens Magazine, RadrOnline Magazine, Unframe Photography agency, Dailymail, Bore Panda, Ello, amongst others. 105

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Jack Bordnick | Contributor My sculptures incorporate surrealistic, mythological and magical imagery — often with whimsical overtones — aimed at provoking our experiences and self-reflections. I am an Industrial design graduate of Pratt Institute in New York. I have been a designer and design director for the past twenty years including for numerous company, corporate and government projects. Despy Boutris | Contributor Despy Boutris is a writer. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, AGNI, Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, American Poetry Review, The Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston and serves as Editor-in-Chief of The West Review. Kathy Bruce | Contributor Kathy Bruce’s work explores mythological forms within the context of poetry, literature and the natural environment. Ms. Bruce is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship, 2 Fulbright-Hayes scholar grants to Peru and a Ford Foundation Grant. She has exhibited her work in the US, UK and internationally including Senegal, Taiwan, Denmark, Peru, France, and Canada. Tasha Bundy | Contributor I'm a first year art transfer student back in college for the first time in 17 years. Taking art classes has been a way to deal with the stress of the pandemic and finding creativity I didn't know I had. Joelle Byars | Contributor Joelle Byars is an outgoing Masters student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln pursuing her degree in Creative Writing. After finishing her Bachelors degree in English at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, she began delving deeper into the possibilities of prose fiction. Her work can also be seen in Prometheus Dreaming, decomp Journal, and The William and Mary Review. She is currently working on a collection of short stories. Dan A. Cardoza | Contributor Dan A. Cardoza’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared, or will appear in After the Pause, Apricity, BlazeVOX, Bull, Cleaver, Entropy, Fri(c)tion, Gravel, Grey Sparrow Journal, In Parentheses, Alchemy 106


Open Journal of Arts & Letters, New Flash Fiction Review, Poetry Northwest, Running Wild Press Anthology,2021, Spelk, and Your Impossible Voice. He’s been nominated for Best Micro Fiction, Tiny Molecules, 2020 and Best Poetry, Coffin Bell, 2020.

C. S. Carter | Editorial & Contributor C. is a child of the world. Graduating from Portland Community College in 2021 with an Associate Degree in Science. He enjoys writing as a mechanism for expression and as a vehicle for sharing experiences. Deirdre Curley | Editorial & Contributor Deirdre Curley is very busy all the time, but never too busy for a good book. A lifelong cat lover, Deirdre aspires to rescue at least four cats, despite the protests of her very tolerant and loving partner. Adam Deutsch | Contributor Adam Deutsch has work recently in Poetry International, Thrush, Juked, AMP Magazine, Ping Pong, and Typo, and has a chapbook called Carry On (Elegies). He teaches in the English Department at Grossmont College and is the publisher of Cooper Dillon Books. He lives in San Diego, CA. Amanda Dobbs | Contributor Amanda Dobbs likes to write, eat, tell jokes, and fix commas. Mostly in that order. She lives outside Atlanta, Georgia, with her family. Angie Dribben | Contributor Angie Dribben’s debut collection, Everygirl, a finalist for the 2020 Dogfish Head Prize, is out with Main Street Rag in May 2021. She is Contributing Reviews Editor at Cider Press Review. Her poetry, essays, mixed media, and reviews can be found or are forthcoming in The Night Heron Barks, Cave Wall, EcoTheo, Deep South, San Pedro River Review, and others. Her poetry is widely-anthologized: Stained, I Wanna Be Loved By You (Milk and Cake Press), Texas Review Press’ Virginia anthology, among others. Hana Elogbi | Editorial & Contributor Hana is nearly a graduate of Portland Community College. She is just beginning her journey of writing fiction and loves having the 107

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ability to explore topics such as identity, culture, assimilation, community, and the complex spectrum of human emotion.

Jodie Filan | Contributor Kacie Finnegan | Contributor Kacie Finnegan is a Fine Arts student studying at the University of Cincinnati. Originally from Mansfield OH, she now works and lives in Cincinnati. Reflections is a piece where Finnegan tells a story of her own mental health, successes and struggles alike. Elis Gjoni | Contributor The biography and the instinct are my most important columns inside me. I come from an expressive biography, full of events and features, I come back from time to time and I find old marks like in a canvas, I return them in the most minimalist way possible. Ann Goldenberg | Editorial Ann Goldenberg grew up in the wilds of Florida, where she spent her childhood swimming and scuba diving in springs, lakes, and coastal waters. She spent many years making educational television programs about art, science, and history. She recently completed an Interior design degree at PCC. Misty Harper | Contributor Misty Harper studied poetry at Indiana University, Bloomington, and lives in Atlanta with her dog Alfie. She's written two chapbooks - Guarding the Violins and Rose Incus. Cross Harris | Contributor According to one friend, Cross Harris is an observer: watching, smiling, and rarely speaking. His father calls him a man of few words, and Cross’ take is that he only uses dialogue to move the plot forward. He does, however, write volubly and in this way hopes to say something. Airea Johnson | Contributor Airea Johnson is enchanted with the grief process, the idea of significance, and the freewill dilemma. Her work appears in Third Wednesday, FLARE: The Flagler Review, Letter & Line, and others. In another life she was probably Bieber's 'One Less Lonely Girl', but in this life she creates playlists and listens to her cat wail. Alchemy 108


Lio Jones | Contributor I'm a 26-year-old overly caffeinated college student trying to navigate the world. I enjoy writing poetry and stories that make others curious about hard topics like death, gender identity, and love. Beverly Joyce | Contributor Beverly Rose Joyce lives in Brecksville, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, with her husband, Carl, and their two daughters, Mallory and Samantha, along with their two dogs, Shadow and Reggie. She holds a BA in English from Baldwin-Wallace University and a MA in English from Cleveland State University, and she was a public high school English teacher for sixteen years. Jury S. Judge | Contributor I am an internationally published artist, writer, poet, and cartoonist. My Astronomy Comedy cartoons are published in Lowell Observatory's quarterly publication, The Lowell Observer. My artwork has been widely featured in over one hundred and thirty literary magazines such as, Blue Mesa Review, The Tishman Review, and The Ignatian Literary Journal. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA from the University of Houston-Clear Lake in 2014. Emel Karakozak | Contributor Visuality is my predominant side… I use photo language and I love this phrase. Maybe it does not contain letters, brushes and hammer blows but it has a scene and fiction in its own world… Everything is aimed to understand the whole. Life and death is integrity and continuity formed by a continuous chain example of my hybrid expression. Ash Kukuzke | Contributor Ash is from Iowa and living in Portland, Oregon. As a graphic design student, she mainly works in the digital space. In her free time she loves to create with all mediums, particularly those that include found objects. Zachary Lee | Contributor Zachary Lee is an emerging creative juggernaut who, since 2014, has been seen pushing the boundaries of paint and page all around NE Ohio. He has done many solo studio pieces, commissions, collaborations, and live performances throughout the last seven years culminating in his first solo art exhibition (2018) at 109

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Jupiter Studios in Alliance, OH. He published a debut chapbook of poems, titled Biophotonic with a local publisher known as Writing Knights.

Sofiya Levina | Contributor Sofiya Levina is a Russian-born embroidery artist who blends idiosyncratic characters and abstract environments to represent her internal worlds. For the past 5 years, she has been working in Los Angeles and NYC. Laurinda Lind | Contributor Laurinda Lind has ended up in New York’s North Country by way of Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado. One of her favorite anagrams of her name is A Darn Id I Null. Googling her name will bring up online publications. Ana Lopez | Contributor I am a second-year graphic design student getting ready to graduate! For this piece of work, I wasn't necessarily looking to create a specific story or meaning that is easy to figure out. Personally, I really like when a piece of art is ambiguous and can be interpreted multiple ways. So, I had fun experimenting with different techniques to create something that others can find their own meaning for. Mario Loprete | Contributor Painting is my first love. An important, pure love. The sculpture is my lover, my artistic betrayal to the painting. In this year, I worked exclusively at my concrete sculptures. I like to think that those who look at my sculptures created in 2020 will be able to perceive the anguish, the vulnerability, the fear that each of us has felt in front of a planetary problem that was covid 19 ... under a layer of cement there are my clothes with which I lived this nefarious period. Kris McRae | Contributor Kris McRae is a second year graphic design major. He will be graduating in June 2021, and is also a silver award winner in Graphis' 2021 New Talent Annual.

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Thomas J. Misuraca | Contributor I studied Writing, Publishing and Literature at Emerson College in Boston before moving to Los Angeles. Over 95 of my short stories and two novels have been published. Most recently, my story, Giving Up The Ghosts, was published in Constellations Journal, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I am also a multi-award winning playwright with over 135 shot plays and 11 full-lengths produced globally. My musical, Geeks!, was produced Off-Broadway in May 2019. Spencer Olson | Contributor Spencer Olson is a graphic designer, illustrator, photographer, and occasional rug-maker based in Portland, Oregon. Alexander “99” Orozco García | Contributor Alexander "Ninety-Nine" Orozco is an undergraduate at Barry University, where he studies Professional Writing. He has no works published, but that does not deter him from submitting anyway. Tiffany Overby | Contributor Tiffany Overby is a long time Portland resident and PCC alumni. She has performed her poetry at the 2020 Winter Poetry Festival and strictly online during the COVID-19 Pandemic. She is often inspired by the elements of nature, the practice of observation and gratitude. Christina Poletto | Contributor Christina is a journalist based in Brooklyn, N.Y. She writes often about interior design, architecture, and the infinite wonders of parenting a child with a rare neurogenetic condition. Lettie Jane Rennekamp | Contributor Lettie Jane Rennekamp is an illustrator and artist based in Portland, Oregon by way of Kentucky. Her illustrations are bold and tender at the same time, depicting motherhood, varying versions of gender expression, community, and nature all together. She has worked in both commercial and gallery spaces, from murals to wine labels, large cut-out paintings and small watercolors. She is the creator of Many Queens, a gender-inclusive tarot deck.

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Elise Ricks | Contributor I am a student of the PCC graphic design program and this is my third year at PCC. In the fall of 2021 I am transferring to PSU to hopefully continue Graphic Design. Usually my preferred medium to work with is colored pencil and paper, but I figured out during a Photography class that taking pictures of model train figures is really fun, and also easy to do without leaving the house. D. Araguaney Rodríguez Da Silva | Editorial & Contributor Araguaney is a nonbinary Venezuelan immigrant. They are also a trans competency and racial equity consultant, literary translator, and currently attend Portland Community College with a focus on creative writing. They hold a bachelor’s in Gender and Sexuality Studies from Brown University. When they are not working or writing, you can find them taking their dog on adventures by the Oregon coast, or trying to bake the latest recipe from the Great British Baking Show. Anthony Russo | Contributor Anthony Russo is a self taught film photographer from New Jersey. His philosophy is to shoot anything and everything. Anthony mostly enjoys shooting street photography and portrait work. People are his general interest. Ari Schill | Contributor Ari is a Black, queer & gender expansive, multi-genre writer & facilitator who lives in Portland, OR. Ari uses poetry, creative nonfiction and fiction to highlight themes including race, family and adoption. They also draw on the intersectionality of gender and Blackness because they are inextricably connected. Natalie Shough | Contributor I'm in the graphic design program, graduating in 2021. I made this piece for Alchemy, therefore I wanted to capture the essence of what Alchemy is. I see pomegranate seeds as many parts of a whole, each being unique, just like how Alchemy is a collection of works made by very unique people. Coco Spencer | Contributor Coco Spencer is a mixed-media artist with an emphasis in analogue collage. Originally from California, she is now based in Chicago. Alchemy 112


Mandy Teel | Contributor Mandy Teel is a poet, writer, and student who enjoys taking classes at Portland Community College while she works toward her BFA in Creative Writing in Nonfiction at Portland State University. She's had the pleasure of learning about some of the many joys, intricacies, and hair-pulling frustrations of writing from some of the coolest professors at both PCC and PSU. Mandy is excited by what the words we write tell us about ourselves and the world around us. Anic Ulrope | Editorial & Contributor Anic is a free thinker. A reader of obscure fiction. A writer of selfish convictions and harsh truths. Her poetry holds space for subjects such as but never limited to mental health, sex, femininity, race, and individuality. Currently exploring the complex consciousness that generates the African diaspora within American society. James Reade Venable | Contributor James Reade Venable is a photographer, director, and actor currently living in Belgium. He is originally from New York and has been published internationally in publications such as The Moving Force Journal and 86 Logic. He recently directed the music video 'Doormat Daddy' for the band The Allegations. Alan Vizuet | Editorial & Contributor My whole upbringing has revolved around films, from my father working as a chef for Warner Bros in the 80’s, to my older brother getting his bachelors in film design. With Waste Of Time, I wanted to make a darkly comical story, while still maintaining a sense of hope and showing it’s never too late to change for the better. The story is about two brothers, cursed to spend eternity together. What you’ll read is the opening to this story, a story I hope to conclude someday with a film adaptation.

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DIVING STATION Anthony Russo Alchemy 116