Fredericksburg Literary & Art Review Volume 5, Issue 2, Fall & Winter 2017
HUBERT JACKSON * TASHA FULLER * BRIAN JAY JONES * FRITZI NEWTON SAEED ORDOUBADI * KATHY SMALTZ * ROBIN CROFT * REBECCA THOMAS SANDRA L. MANIGAULT
* GEROME MEMINGER * ANALISA WALL * JOEY FRYE
ALEX HARVELL with FREEBYRUNNING * FREDERICKSBURG CENTER
FLAR logo by Elizabeth Seaver © 2013 Cover Art by Hubert Jackson, Crossing Boundaries © 2011 Crossing Boundaries was part of an exhibit my friend, artist Carolyn Goodridge, arranged through Art Impact USA and the American Embassy in Rome. I repurposed another painting by adding the pyramids and figures. It was purchased while on display in Rome. ~ Hubert Jackson
EDITOR in CHIEF A.E. Bayne PUBLISHER Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review LITERARY PANEL
Jennifer Davis Lori Izykowski Kitra Martindavis Jim Trainer Xaviar Jenerette
Dolores Bumbrey Lawton Clites Ed King Tiffany Yates
www.fredericksburgwriters.com Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review @FredLitReview FLAR
By donating to Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, our patrons are making it possible for us to continue promoting the literary and visual arts in and beyond Fredericksburg. We have been able to move to a more reliable submission format due in part to the outreach and promotional efforts that donations allow us. Our patrons’ contributions show that they place a value on independent publishing and the process of critical review. Thank you, each and every one, for helping us make this endeavor possible. ~ A.E. Bayne
Member Supporters Jeffrey Alfier "A Devoted Sponsor" Ernest and Lynn Ackerman
Frank Fratoe Bob and Cathy McNichols M. Ryan
Joan Critz Limbrick Bren Reed Julio and Cara Valencia Cree Simpson
Sustaining Supporters Thea Verdak's s first voyage was as a tot, aboard the MS Koningin Emma, a retired commando ship, thrashing across a petulant channel to learn the culture of her grandparents, leaving her parents waving on shore. This set the course of her life. She reads, writes, walks, and is an animal activist.
A retired economist and statistician, Saeed Ordoubadi is now a fine art photographer and an enthusiastic traveler, as well a beginner painter. He loves to capture people's expressions and emotions, the beauty of nature and the unique characters of old places. He has had several exhibitions in local galleries and libraries, including a well-received collection of his work on Cuba, covering its people, places and arts. Saeed can be reached at SaeedOrdoubadi@gmail.com.
Read It “Cover -to-Cover”
@Front Porch Fredericksburg Magazine
Born in Germany, Ruth Golden’s first trip was across the Atlantic at the tender age of six weeks. She’s been traveling ever since, photographing as much as she can along the way. Photography is her way of recording the passage of time and occasionally happening upon a perfectly exquisite shot. She is also a potter, classic car buff, writer of prose and poetry, knitter, and blogger writing about her year living and sailing on her sailboat, Nalani (ruthontherun.blogspot.com). A wife, mother of three, and grandmother of three, her life is filled with chubby fingers, soft downy hair, and drool. She also advocates for live music through House About Tonight Productions. You may find her photography on Facebook at RG Photography and Width = 10.991 Photoart, and at local photo shows where she has been awarded a few ribbons in her time. Height= 1.984 Border=3pt.
Dear Lovers of a Luscious World, I was going to write to you about the reasons I publish FLAR in my letter for this edition, about what a true joy it is to provide people a platform from which to share their artistic visions and their voices. I was going to describe how I am often met with quizzical looks when I explain why I don't want to monetize FLAR through advertising. I would have proudly proclaimed an innate wonder and idealism that is inherent to my nature. However, with the December repeal of net neutrality, the removal of science-based information from government agency websites, and other recent events linked to obstructing the freedom of speech, expression, and ideas, I think the most important message I can leave you with for this edition are these words, for they are words and so much more. Their censorship, no matter how specifically driven or limitedly perceived, deserves our deepest consideration. An agency designed to protect our collective well-being felt the need to censor language for fear of denial of funding, simply because that language, albeit ubiquitous throughout our modern lexicon when discussing at-risk groups, causes discomfort for the powers that be. What precedence does this set and where are we headed?
VULNERABLE ENTITLEMENT DIVERSITY
EVIDENCE - BASED
SCIENCE - BASED
Please enjoy this latest edition of FLAR, free and filled with a diversity of ideas. Our freedoms are vulnerable. I strive to keep the greatest of these, the freedom of expression and thought, alive in these pages. May you find a wealth of creativity, peace, comfort and joy in the New Year. Best Always,
A.E Bayne is the editor in chief and publisher of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review and is an organizing partner in the Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival. She is a writer, visual artist, and educator living in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Bayne hosts a blog for educators called The Write Stuff - Virginia. She can be read monthly in Freder-
icksburg Front Porch Magazine, and her writing, photography and artwork can be viewed virtually on Facebook and at aebayne.com.
Spring 2017 Literary Panel JENNIFER DAVIS
Jennifer Davis comes from an eclectic family of artists, musicians, and writers. Growing up in Charlotte NC, she always had music in her house and fascinating stories to hear from traveling family members. Jennifer followed her calling into healthcare, which feeds a passion for seniors and listening to their legacies. She is currently residing in Richmond, VA and works as a physical therapist assistant in acute rehabilitation hospitals. Hobbies include camping and hiking, piano, and photography. Jennifer enjoys writing with submissions accepted at FLAR and Elephant Journal. Follow her at www.learningstrikhedonia.wordpress.com.
Lori Izykowski writes when the spirit moves her to do so. Her essay is a synopsis of the book she would write, should the spirit ever settle in for an extended period of time. All but the very last bit is autobiographical. An avid reader, she has a fondness for non-fiction. Seven years ago she began doing part-time admin work for the non-profit Biographers International, and feels giddy whenever she hears or sees a biographer she knows providing expertise on a topic. Lori lives a simple life filled with simple pleasures, and is blessed with a rich diversity of friends and family.
(aka Artik), lives in the Manassas VA. area. Creatively writing for nearly 40yrs, Kitra self-published her first book in May 2017. When she decided on the title of her book, a peace… for you, she said that it was all about timing and thus, apropos. Her second book, and before there was peace, will be released Spring of 2018. Kitra admits to being inspired by practically everything, and it is that sense of connection that allows you to feel her emotion with most if not all of what she has written. You can find a peace… for you at Artikexpressions.com
Singer songwriter, journalist, and curator of Going For The Throat—a weekly publication of cynicism, outrage, correspondence and romance. Jim Trainer publishes one collection of poetry and prose every year through Yellow Lark Press. Please visit jimtrainer.net for Take To The Territory, his latest collection, and for music, film and appearances.
XAVIAR JENERETTE Transcriptions
Xaviar Jenerette recently graduated from George Mason University with a B.A. in English and is planning on pursuing a graduate degree in 2018. He currently lives in Fredericksburg where he writes for a variety of independent sources and is a grant writer/intern for the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts.
Spring 2017 Art Panel DOLORES BUMBREY
Spending the earlier part of her life at the Central Intelligence Agency, Dolores later gravitated towards one of her greatest passions, art. Dolores delights in sharing her God-given gift with all by capturing the beauty of things around us that often go unnoticed. Her primary goal is to paint and draw for self-expression inspiration and relaxation. She strives for all of her work to convey positive emotions and invoke an uplifting response in the viewer.
Lawton Clites studied ceramics at Mary Washington College, has taught high school pottery, and continues to teach and work at LibertyTown Arts Workshop in Fredericksburg, Virginia. His stoneware pieces explore the intersection of line, form, and function, blending Asian, European, and American influences into works of art designed for everyday use. Follow him on Facebook @LawtonLongbows.
Ed King has been teaching art for the past 14 years, both in Fredericksburg and Orange, Virgina, and has been a resident artists at LibertyTown Arts Workshop for the past three. He likes to work from life as much as possible and gravitates toward natural themes. His photographs of nature reveal the drama in the daily life of animals, and King's paintings of animals capture an expressive quality that makes them spring to life on the canvas. In recent years, King has worked with clay, sculpting whimsical creatures into teapots, mugs, and jars, always relying on nature and fantasy to bring his work to life. Dragons eating pizza, anyone? King currently teaches drawing, mixed media, and painting at Germanna Community College. You can catch his work at LibertyTown in downtown Fredericksburg and online at edkingartist.com .
Tiffany Mei Yates is an illustrator, designer and crafter. Her influence run the gamut: Fantasy books, sci-fi movies, comics, and various articles on the internet. Tiffany grew up helping out at art shows and spending many days after school in her mother’s studio, watching her make Chinese brush paintings. It was her mother that persuaded her to apply for VCU’s School of Arts. After graduating with a BFA in Communication Arts and BS in Psychology, Tiffany became a Graphic Art Instructor at Germanna Community College as well as the neighborhood’s friendly Gallery assistant at Libertytown. Five years later, Tiffany switched gears to work in the Public Health Services while focusing all of her creative energies on developing several personal series. Absurdity is a reoccurring theme depicted in her work that swings between humorous and eerie. Tiffany views her art making as compulsive, inevitable as a form of communication. Studio 23 in Libertytown Arts Workshop is also where her work can be found. www.tyates.net
Featured Profiles Spirits and Beyond Hubert Jackson
Artist Colonial Beach, Virginia Page 30
Photographer King George, Virginia Page 92
Vision to Value Tasha Fuller
The Heart of the Matter Rebecca Thomas
Children's Author Fairfax, Virginia Page 56
Writer / Blogger Blog Excerpt Richmond, Virginia Page 119
Writing Life Brian Jay Jones
FCCA Since 1963! Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts
Biographer Book Excerpt Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 56
Pretty as a Picture Fritzi Newton
Photographer Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 78
Both Sides Now Saeed Ordoubadi
Gallery Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 128
Robin Croft's Wild Craft Robin Croft 3-Dimensional Artist / Sculptor Manassas, Virginia Page 136
Featured Profiles Passion to Performance Gerome Meminger
Seamless Southworth Analisa Wall
Poetry with Purpose Kathy Smaltz
Alex Harvell Wants You to be FREEBYRUNNING
Painter / Performance Artist Williamsburg, Virginia Page 148
Prince William County Poet Laureate Manassas, Virginia Page 188
Modern Romance Sandra Manigault Author Book Excerpt Stafford, Virginia Page 192
Jewelry Philedelphia, Pennsylvania Page 218
Outreach / Arts Planner Spotsylvania, Virginia Page 224
Light Up the Power Plant Static Discharge Photography
Arts Event Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 278
Prespective is Everything Joey Frye Artism by Joey Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 196
Artists & Writers Page A1
Leporidae 1(Light) Crystal Rodrigue Photography
Leporidae 2 (Dark) Crystal Rodrigue Photography
In October of 2017, LibertyTown Arts Workshop continued a tradition established by Sophia Street Studio of pairing poetry with art in Open to Interpretation. Poets shared their work with artists, and the artist in turn created something meaningful inspire by the verse. Bound copies of the poetry and artwork are available through LibertyTown with profits going to Mental Health of America Fredericksburg.
We Small Bunnies A fluffle of chocolate bunnies bursts from an island of peonies onto our lawn. One bolts left, cowers in the crook of the chimney, quivering in the shadows. Small thing, this bunny; Small thing, this child. My father has warned me about touching birds and bunnies and the fickleness of mothers who wonâ€™t take them back. So I hover, watch it shiver. Its ears flicker, my fingers twitch in time. I am tantalized by the edge in its eye. Breath breaks on my neck. The house looms over we small bunnies caught in the corner with racing blood. ~ A.E. Bayne
Ed King Triptych, oil on canvas
The Beauty of The Color Red Kitra Martindavis
I saw her come into the restaurant. She looked flushed; she looked sort of …uneasy. I was thinking that she looked like I normally feel this time of the day, rushed & hungry. Getting a quick bite to eat was seemingly where she was directing all her energy. She sat her large, over-stuffed bag in the seat next to her. The restaurant was crowded and there was an unusual number of kids & patrons in general for this time of the day. A few minutes later, two employees led a group of children to a designated section where there was a birthday party about to begin. At that moment, a pretty, little chocolate girl with short hair emerged from the crowd. She was passing out party favors to her guests and seemed to know which color bag to give to each of them. Each child smiled widely as they received their gifts. Obviously, the parents obliged and dressed their child in at least one garment which was the color red. Just then, I overheard two of the little boys talking as they walked back from the bathroom, "Yeah, my daddy said that I had swag when I put on this red sweater that my mom bought for me. I told him that I liked it and wanted to wear it to the party because it’s her favorite color. You know that she’s my girlfriend?" He said as the other boy nodded his head acknowledging that he was aware that the birthday girl was spoken for. As I began to laugh to myself about what I had just heard, I noticed the young lady in the corner and for the first time, the flower in her hair. She reminded me of myself, quite a few years ago. I am assuming by her reaction she also heard the exchange between the two little boys, but she was not laughing. As she sat and watched the kids attentively, there was something in her eyes... something in the way she sat and pretended to eat the super-sized meal and dessert she had ordered. Something in the coincidence that she too wore red, made her stand out. As the two employees led the birthday girl and party guests to the playground area, the young lady in the corner began to move quickly. She reached into her bag and pulled out what seemed to be five wrapped presents. She darted toward the gift table and the birthday girl’s mother was startled by the young lady’s sudden movement. The mother’s facial expression changed quickly and her body language indicated that she knew the young lady; they embraced one another. I clearly was not the only one to notice their exchange as they walked away from the other parents, who were apparently intrigued. They walked closer to where I sat. "I’m so glad you could make it,” the mother said. "I wouldn’t have missed it" said the young lady from the corner. The mother asked, “Did I mention the color scheme was red? And the flower? Why did you put a red rose bud in your hair?" The young lady’s voice cracked, "I don’t know why I put the flower in my hair, but I love roses and red is simply my favorite color, always has been.” Just then, the kids returning from the play area seemed to force the young lady to retreat to her corner table. As they sang Happy Birthday to the little girl, I noticed the young lady in the corner sang the hardest. I am not sure why, but I was quite touched by this. Just then, everyone told the birthday girl to make a wish… she closed her eyes and made her wish. As she opened her eyes… (maybe I was the only one who noticed) the birthday girl gently reached up with her right hand and touched herself in the spot where the heart lies. She then touched the red rose bud in her hair and instinctively… her eyes drifted to the corner where the young lady sat. 4
Dolores Bumbrey Oil
Red Thread and Chamber Tiffany Yates Sculpture
Understanding Love I was thinking that I was confused but I am learning that the more I live the more I learn about love love can be complicated despite drugsalcohol and ignorance despite someone beingmeanbeingstubborn beingrudebeingplainhateful I have always heard that there is someone for everyone and I guess that’s true …whether they are the perfect someone is another story but… I am learning the more I live the more I learn that I too
am not perfect
~ Kitra Martindavis
Wolves in Snow Ed King Oil on canvas
Ed King Oil on canvas
Ed King Oil on canvas
Love Beyond Borders Jennifer Davis
I remember the first time we met. I walked into her hospital room with a little trepidation about the pocketful of knowledge scoured from her chart regarding her medical history and descent. I could see the veil of pain, discomfort, and weariness on her face. I could see the question marks stamped in her gaze to me. I was acutely aware of the fact this pain and weariness was not of a surgical or medical origin. There was a discerned understanding within me that haunted memories were carried in the folds of her heart and stamped impressions on her face. Silently, I pulled the Ipad on wheels towards us to ring in my communication lifeline. A Facetime call was placed to the medical translation organization, which supplies translators of any language of the globe to us. We provide her medical number to begin our slow and awkward introduction to one another. Our initial conversation would begin with each of us speaking to the translator on the screen and who then restrung our words across the canyon of cultural differences and language barriers to one another. Painstakingly I learn the juggle of talking in two to three sentences at once and then waiting for the translator to build our communication bridge in her Arabic language. I explain who I am, what my purpose is today, and ask of her physical pain and understanding of her surgical precautions we must work within today. Slowly, we thread the ebb and flow of our broken dialogue through the needle hole of our virtually present translator to build a physical therapist/patient relationship on one single goal she desires most in her heart. She wants to walk again one day. Each day, our treatment sessions were tediously worked through with the painful process of learning to trust each other while building her physical strength. Our relationship grew more comfortable as we learned ways to communicate with one another based on prior treatment sessions, in addition to hand gestures, body language, and 10
our eyes. We began to trust our own mode of communication with one another to a pivotal point of no longer needing the lifeline of a translator for every session. One day, I decided to call up the translator for assistance in a conversation with my patient about her progress and how to prepare for discharge to her home environment. I was prepared to discuss home safety, find out more about support system in the home, and arrange for equipment. What started as a conversation about her future turned into a testimony of her past: After saving for 25 years, her husband and she happily traveled from their village to the big city of Aleppo in her native country of Syria. They settled in for a future they had worked so hard to finally begin. Aleppo was the largest and most prosperous city in the country at the time. Then, in an instant, her life crumbled around her. As the bombs ripped through the city, her new home and all they worked for disintegrated along with the streets and buildings. All the promises the city housed for these residents turned to rubble and dust. They found themselves running for their lives. With nothing more than the clothes on their back, they followed the surge of empty handed and desperate Syrians across the borders to refugee camps. In a tent city on the soil of Turkey, she began to put the pieces of the latest events together. Frantically she searched out hope of contacting her four grown children. Days were spent searching for answers. What will become of us? Where will we go now? No longer in her home country, yet not a citizen of the land she has found herself in, she is left with no more energy to process the horrors she just witnessed, or the horrors she must live through in this new reality. Days bled into months and word reached the refugees that other countries are devising a plan to offer assistance out of the nameless, hopeless deluge of tents. Finally, her husband received word that he and his wife would receive travel graces to come to America. But,
Perhaps there is a language which is not made of words and everything in the world understands it. ~Frances Hodgson Burnett
because of the vast number of people receiving assistance, there was no guarantee of when her grown children’s families would receive their own lottery ticket of exodus. Alas, they found themselves in America, but not without a heavy price. It took many weeks to discover the rest of her family’s fate. All of her children are now searching out new beginnings in other countries including Germany, Iraq, and Turkey. Like seeds in the wind, her family will learn to root on the soil they landed on and start over again. The journey from Aleppo, the nights of sleeping in a tent in Turkey, and the journey to America did not fare well on my new patient. By the time they arrived here, her osteoporotic hips had failed her and her husband was carrying her. Now I sit in a therapy gym with nothing to offer for her story but my hand grasping hers and my steady and compassionate gaze for her to reflect her pain into. Humbly, I drove home from work that day with her voice echoing her heartbroken story in Arabic through my soul. She saw that day I could not fathom the horrors she experienced, I could not even utter the words “I’m sorry” and they equal the depth of sorrow she poured on my ears. My speechless trickle of a tear down my cheek became the salty trail between my heart and hers. Our few remaining days of her two-week stay had a different air surrounding them. We built a fond attachment to one another. When I entered her room, a happy and bright smile crossed her face, almost making it to her eyes, which housed bottomless wells of life experiences I will never truly understand. We began to communicate in our own special ticks and sign language providing a strange scene to the others in the rehab gym as they watched us work together. On my last day with this brave woman, I knew I would likely never see her again. We embraced. We reviewed our daily ritual of Arabic and English words we had learned in our bro-
ken conversations about weather, elephants, children, and tattoos. She was babbling away as we hugged. I pay attention to her eyes in our usual way as we somehow learned the innate talent of having conversation with nothing more than ripples of emotion pouring out of our eyes. I saw a fondness slightly deeper pooling over in her eyes. She smiled and grabbed my hand into both of hers and pulled me emphatically towards her heart. Then as clear as I’ve ever heard her speak an English word, she said, “Goodbye. I love you.” My eyes misted. I felt a mother hen’s pride exchange between us, two mothers who know a different galaxy of struggle, hardship, devotion, and love. My tears were a bipolar mixture of maternal attachment and learned, professional detachment fighting one another. I smiled, prepared for this moment. I knew I had to share my sentiments with her before I had even arrived to work that morning. I had a message waiting for her too. My message was going to be how proud I was of her progress. I was going to rave of her courage and hard work to walk, even if it was clumsily and only ten feet. Instead, tears streamed from those haunting eyes as I proudly responded with my new final message to her in her native language:
I love you
Ceramics & Stoneware
Like a tree planted by the rivers of water, it shall not wither; it shall prosper. Psalms 1:3
Tree of Life
Dolores Bumbrey Oil
Cyclical She lay as close to the wall as possible, not wanting to wake him. There wasn’t much room on the bunk bed, and he was a big man. She knew he shouldn’t be there, that he should be upstairs. This thought and the loud snoring…fueled by alcohol, the sweet scent permeating the room…meant little sleep for her. Even at nine years old she was aware of his sexuality. Likely the porn magazines she and her brother found influenced that awareness, but it was more than that. And yet if you asked her, she wouldn’t be able to tell you what it was. As a young woman she spent time with three different therapists, trying to pin down why she felt so insecure. The relationship with her father always came up. One therapist opined she should go to Alanon, another said she had a fear of abandonment. But the third gave her insight that hit home. By this time she had been married a year, and the insecurities had gotten worse. It didn’t help that she discovered her husband’s 900 number calls during the time before she joined him on the west coast. It didn’t help that he would make comments about other women’s bodies/looks. But what the therapist focused on was her father: the porn magazines, the teasing as she grew from girl to woman, entering the bathroom while she was bathing and relieving himself in front of her, sleeping in her bed. The therapist called it covert abuse. Covert sexual abuse. And suddenly it made sense. The therapist suggested writing him a letter. Forgive him, and then you can move on. But the residual effects are there. Now, approaching 60, she has difficulty imagining a sexual relationship for herself. The fire left after the birth of their only child, the marriage now long ended, and today she is left to wonder if a healthy relationship will ever be possible. Men her age remind her of him. She shuts down when someone shows interest that moves beyond the cerebral, feels a heaviness she can’t define. And now, here he lay, once again in her bed, completely helpless and dependent on her. She sits at the bedside, closing her eyes and breathing slow and deep, once again feeling trapped.
~ Lori Izykowski 15
The Sky Between Birds and Branches Tiffany Yates Sculpture
Three by Jim Trainer
FROM THE MOUNTAIN TO THE RANGE
Photo by Sarah H. Bloom
INVISIBLE, LIKE THIS
they were praying in temple when I took to the riddled road I traveled blind up the coast and sunk into the new town I disappeared into the crowd there'd be some time to kill invisible, like this drinking coffee by the window typing late into the afternoon then one day will be the day I'll drop my razor in the lather take a leather strap to my shoulder and a couple rolls of film skies'll go bottle green curfew'll come down and before the radio goes silent he'll announce what town is on fire now. I'll know where to find you.
-from All in the wind
something had to give so it did you can’t give your suffering back you can’t slide the frame of a well adjusted life into the jagged reel of your history stay on the outside long enough and everything will become change pain’ll become fantastical and love very strange your hands will become two ships and your heart jack-o-lanterned but if you hold, if you dive and the herd doesn’t pull you into its sway you’ll earn your destiny you’ll become legend you’ll be unlikely uncanny able to cut through odds singularly and leave the ignorant blinking dumb in your wake this is what those old Gods meant not that you’d suffer not that you’d pay but that you’d choose to you become devotion making that choice, again and again beyond satisfaction, unheeding recognition you keep climbing, and when you get there from the peak you’ll be able to see the chain.
-from Take To The Territory
-from the blog GOING FOR THE THROAT Life is strange. I think it should soften you, but you’d be a fool to walk around unprotected. My existence is at once caught between being wide open and maintaining an impassive wall. Perhaps this is a human condition. Maybe the fate of Western Man. Women might know this struggle differently but empaths will often shy themselves of the parade. To ignore what’s happening now can put you at a greater peril than ever before, but the mechanism is the same. I’ll never feel as free as I did cutting school in 7th grade. I’ll never feel as self-contained as a freshman in High School, paying for my own coffee and smoking Marlboro reds before homeroom. I knew it all before I knew anything. This is the contradiction of the Western man, or, the practice of innocence found. I’m lucky I found writing, and poetry. Poetry is a practice that is never checked, it supersedes the ego and all conflict—it just is and comes out, necessary, a remedy. Bukowski called it “framing the agony”. Hunter Thompson wrote to understand. Henry Rollins called it “poor man’s therapy”. Journaling is introduced to folks in recovery as a way to process, and weed out, and at the very least categorize thoughts as thoughts. You are not what you think. It’s never been anything short of a miracle. Writing never fails to be magic. I came to it under harrowing conditions. I don’t know if I’ve had it much worse than anyone else, but, because of journaling and reflection I know for certain that it was as bad as it felt—and I’m pretty well off if I’ve carved out a little place for myself on the page. Journaling and writing were the beginning of a process of unraveling and living in Luck. Blogging has paid off—in emotional ways, if I’m careful not to get too mired in myself, which is the danger of that medium. Last week I wrote a typical blog. I put myself in the center of the maelstrom, started typing and didn’t stop until it was done. The lede or motif was admitting my arms were sore from pleasing myself. The fact that this blog wasn’t really about anything except being so bored with politics and the end of the world that all I could do was masturbate to excess was pleasing intellectually. The big picture however reveals that something has to change. I’m proud of my prose but I’ve exhausted the lonely frontier. It’s been a long time I should be far from here. High time to take to the territory and give ‘em the what for. I quit my job of 5 years, a live in position, and did just that. I got a place in Hyde
Park and after almost 6 weeks of being unemployed I am finally sitting down to write something other than a blog or poetry. This entry, post, essay—whatever we call these things in the parlance of the varied media of the New Century, is of a high order. I don’t take it lightly. Nor your time good reader. Time is all we have ain’t it though. I want what I’ve always wanted and that’s to write every day and play every night as a singer songwriter, story teller and performer. I’ve been booking ‘em, it’s slow going and there are politics involved. I do the gutbucket circuit. If I can do fifteen $100 gigs then I’ll just scrape by with plenty of daytime to write, providing nothing disastrous happens to me, my health or my car. Like Papa, I’m betting on the muse. It’s terrifying, albeit a different kind of fear than the one I had 2 years ago, hovering above myself, looking down and feeling like I had blown it—I wasn’t who I thought I’d be and knew I’d so much left to do. I promised (“set a goal”? I hate the term. I hate goals and people who “crush” them.) of publishing a book of poetry every year for 10 years, when I was 40. I published September that year, and All in the wind the next. After I wrap this, I’ll send a manuscript of Take To The Territory off to a creative partner of mine, the many talented Josh Britton of Snakes Will Eat You design and ghost-folk singer of Psalmships. These things have become a part of my routine, like the poem says …what happens these days is what happens for the rest of your life -THE ARENA’S LIGHTS BURN BRIGHTER WHEN YOU’RE DOWN IN THE PIT and in the words of Belle Leaver, the way out of darkness and into light is what you’re holding in your hands right now. This isn’t the best place for me to confess things still unfulfilled. It’s a gaping maw though a prime motivator for me, the dramatic stakes of creation vs. death. I’m taking it upon myself now (barring blogs) and turning the superseding watchful eye of my Art to a hard bud within me, it could’ve been a flower, and I don’t know if it’s too late, but I’m coming in with water, shears and a hoe. If I can’t prop it up and stanchion it in the sun, show it some patient daily care then I’ll just weed the fucker out and plant another one.
Hubert Jackson Spirits and Beyond
Artist Hubert Jackson has built a career on teaching and exhibiting art that holds specific memories. This is most evident in his body of work from the last decade entitled Spirits of the Journey. For each of the pieces in the series, Jackson visited hallowed ground - battlefields, farms and plantations across the landscape of Civil War era Virginia. His focus landed primarily around his former home in Culpeper County. Jackson’s colorful paintings are drawn from recognizable palettes. You will notice his characteristic shafts of light dividing the background of many paintings. He says that evolved over time. “When I realized that was happening I tried to emphasize it. I also like to use the motif of dots or moons, so I started making acrylic dots on plastic plates that i could peel off and reposition different parts of the painting. I have a whole series of moons that I use in my paintings.” Jackson's regional interest stems from his youth. He says, “I attended G.W. Carver High School, which was right at the base of Cedar Mountain. The school was on the site where battles were fought, so we were actually playing football on the battlefield. I collected things from that area and other sites, little towns like Winston and Orange. Those are the places where I used some of the tree bark from the actual battlefields in my paintings.” For artifacts that he could not find on the battle fields, Jackson shopped online on Ebay. He says, “Some artifacts are more difficult to find than others. I bid on metallic things like belt buckles, bullets, horse shoes, all things recovered from those particular areas. I then worked them into the design of the pieces. I’ve always been around these battlefields and war history, and this particular place, which was a hub of Civil War activity, has always intrigued me." Jackson says he is also fascinated by the people of the era. He explains, “There’s a Timothy O’Sullivan photograph, very iconic, of slaves leaving Culpeper County crossing the river into what is now Remington. At the time it was Rappahannock Station. There are Union soldiers guarding them, but they are in their Conestoga wagons and riding on horses and mules leaving Culpeper and heading to the Union lines. That picture has always intrigued me, so I used that theme in some of my paintings.” 20
As he learned more about the history of Culpeper and slavery, Jackson realized that the area had an astounding number of slaves, one of the highest numbers in the counties of Virginia at one point. He says, “I think of all those people. Some of their descendants are still there, but most of them left. I think of my own family history. I’m a descendant of a slave owner and a slave, so I’m always thinking about my place in history. My painting reflects that interest.” Jackson is currently working on a mural in Culpeper in the building that once housed his high school alma mater. He says, “It was segregated when I attended, and when they integrated our high school became an industrial building. Then it was a church. More recently, the county has decided to renovate it and make it an agricultural center.” Alumni like Jackson lobbied for permission to use part of it as a museum that will recognize the 20-year history of the old school, which served the students of Culpeper, Madison, Rappahannock and Orange Counties. Jackson says the museum will recognize the history of one-room schools used before integration in the county, some of which were built by people in the African American community who wanted their children to have a school. Jackson says, “They would actually dig the well and build the school.” Jackson’s mural will reflect the rich history of African Americans who contributed to education in Culpeper, even as equality was denied to them. He says, “I’m making an outline of the counties and putting some features of all those one-room schools within the boundaries. I’ll use some of my signature painting techniques with texture and light. Then I’ll design images that represent activities that went on while the high school was being used, like athletics, music, and agricultural sciences. I’ll highlight the people who excelled in those areas. It will open in 2018.” Jackson’s signature mixed media style artistry are available for viewing in the Colonial Beach area and online through his website. He currently resides in Colonial Beach and shows work in Washington, D.C., New York, and internationally.
The Storyteller I’ve known people from different cultures where storytelling was very important, such as those from the Pueblo culture in the Southwest. I had friends who were potters and sculptors from the Four Corners area. There was a woman who was a potter and she did these very well-known figure throughout the culture called storytellers. They're reminders that the people have kept the stories of the tribe alive through oral history. It’s a very African tradition too, where among some peoples there was no formal written language, but they had a rich oral tradition. Each generation would tell the stories to the next and they’d just keep the culture alive that way for the younger people.
~ Hubert Jackson 21
Blue Fedora I painted this in New York City. I was doing an exhibition with an artist I met when I was showing my paintings in Rome. The curator there introduced me to an Italian artist named Pasquale Monaco. We had an exhibit together in Brooklyn in December of 2015. I actually painted this in the gallery during the exhibit. Pasquale was painting one of his own. Â In this particular painting, I use tree bark to make my signature figures.
~ Hubert Jackson
Couple - Spirits of the Journey I am currently working on pieces related to Spirits of the Journey, but Iâ€™m adding figures and Iâ€™m doing a series of couples.Â I am integrating the human figure with the spirit series to show that the spirits of the past are still with us. Here, the figures from Spirits are in the background and more modern figures with more recognizable features are in the foreground.
~ Hubert Jackson
Spirits of Cold Harbor The battle of Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864 on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia resulted in over 18,000 casualties with many soldiers left unburied on the battlefield. I purchased a number of fired bullets from a relic hunter and used them with cut cedar wood and pine bark to create a piece with rows of figures to represent the rows of men felled in an ill-conceived frontal assault on entrenched Confederate troops.
~ Hubert Jackson
Spirits of Pope's Creek Hubert Jackson Mixed Media
Spirits of Pope's Creek Spirit of Pope's Creek honors the memory of countless people of African ancestry who worked as slaves at Pope's Creek plantation, the ancestral home of George Washington, first President of The Unite States and the area where I took up residence in 1999. The National Park Service now maintains the site where I collected the pine bark used to create the haunting figures depicted in the painting. There are several accounts of one or more slave burial grounds within the park, but to date there is no official recognition of those locations.
~ Hubert Jackson 27
Spirits of Good Hope After the Civil War ended, many African-American churches flourished including Shiloh Baptist Church at Brandy Station, Virginia where my grandfather Rev. JJ Jackson was an early pastor. He is mentioned on the website Journey Through Hallowed Ground: â€œStill in use today, it is the oldest surviving black church in Culpeper. The next two pastors, James C. Colbert and John J. Jackson, were born and raised in Culpeper and were both known for their kindness and integrity.â€? I can remember as a child traveling with my grandfather to his church in Brandy, but I mostly remember his other church, Good Hope Baptist Church in Norman, Virginia. In my painting, Spirits of Good Hope, I have incorporated cedar bark from his gravesite overlooking the church and bark from the adjacent gravesite of his mother, Mariah Williams Jackson. He is buried between his first wife, my grandmother Bertha Griffin Jackson and his second wife Maude Porter Jackson."
~ Hubert Jackson
Spirits of Clifton Farm Clifton Farm was a homestead built in 1845 in Culpeper County where slaves once worked and lived on the land. Jackson met with the home's present owner and collected bark and earth to use as part of the mixed media of the painting.
Spirits of Bull Run, No. 1 The first major battle of the Civil War was fought about 30 miles northwest of Culpeper in the town of Manassas, Virginia. This battle and the subsequent second battle at this location cost the lives of over 12,000 combatants. I used bullets and other articles found in and around the battleground as well as tree bark from the vicinity of the Stone Bridge, an important landmark in this battle, to create this piece and an earlier one, Spirits of Bull Run, No.2. ~ Hubert Jackson
Appalachian Dawn Gregory Ashe
Black mountains loom all around me. Trees fade into the mist in the dark purple sky of the growing dawn. I think that when God is not in heaven, He is here in the cool pre-dawn hours in the heart of the Appalachians. The growing light turns the trees a grayish green. Mountains loom in front and fade into the gray fog of low-lying clouds. The road is a light gray ribbon, slicing through the scene. The music playing on my radio permeates the scene, the Chameleons, I think. I come across a small mountain farm. A brick fireplace and chimney rise from the tall grass like a pillar. Alone. A marker for a life and a world that once was. Who were they? When did they live? Did they have the same wants and desires and joys and fears? Did they feel love and pain, know religion and peace? I cross Monterey Mountain. I am engulfed by fog. Morning has definitely arrived though the sky is overcast. I see a tall solitary tree through the fog, hauntingly beautiful. No colors, only a grey-black silhouette in a silvery cloud. I travel on and stop beside a small, unnamed river near Cheat Mountain. It occurs to me that this river will slowly flow to the Kanawha River which flows into the Ohio. The Ohio, of course, feeds into the Mississippi at Cairo and then South to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. I look at water that will eventually flow past a bench in New Orleans. A bench where I once sat and spent a wonderful time with a beautiful woman. A beautiful woman I once loved. I wonder what couple will be sitting on that bench when the water I am watching flows by.
I continue my journey through daybreak. I think I see God. Valley in the foreground, mountains in the back. Fog in the mountains. Blue sky above. Clouds. The sun bursts through the cloud sending shafts of light to the ground. I see it: the central white light, the orb of the sun radiating its brilliance, its light, its life, to the earth below. It is magical. I stop and frantically write. Try to express my thoughts into words, my words into squiggles and marks on paper. Constantly I gaze at the scene. Is it real? Truly this is religion and it cannot be found in any four walls. Finally Gaudineer Knob, my destination. The scene is eerie but mystically romantic. Surrounded by trees and fog. The nearer trees are green as trees should be in summer. But green melds into grey into black into white fog as the trees advance up the mountain. The forest floor is a random pattern, black dirt, grey boulders, brown pine needles and green moss. Trees so thick I can scarcely look along any line of sight without a tree being in my view. Is this what the pioneers saw? Am I looking at the same view early settlers or first peoples saw? I am surrounded by a silvery veil of mist. I have found my religion. A religion that cannot be defined, that cannot be confined. A religion whose God is found in the Appalachian dawn. A religion whose God is heard in the soft hiss of snow falling on a quiet river on a snowy night. A religion that accepts us for who we are: good people, trying to do good, even when we stumble and fall. One of the greatest sins, I think, is not taking the time, even if for but a moment, to enjoy the beauty of oneâ€™s surroundings. Whether those surroundings are the Appalachians at dawn, or the oceanâ€™s shore at dusk, or a city skyline at night, or a beautiful woman. I try to think of these things often, so as to not be considered guilty of such a sin. 33
Sunrise on the Rappahannock Summers Bohenstiel Mixed Media
The Elders Kimberly Baer
They didn’t seem so great or wise when I was young. They weren’t like the revered elders I’d learned about: the gray-haired and bearded Bible Men, or the powdered-wig and stern-faced Founding Fathers. The elders I spent the most time around didn’t wear oddly wrapped robes and open-toed sandals, they didn’t dispense truths, they didn’t part seas, command revolutionary armies or draft declarations. They were Grandma Donna, tying on her shiny white Reeboks and stepping out in in the evenings to walk around her Florida neighborhood because her doctor said to. Donna, who always seemed to be heading to or from somewhere: her family’s soft-serve ice cream stand, the grocery store, the bank. She’d take the money from the store’s registers every night, load it into rectangular blue zip bags and bring it home to count (how fascinating it was to watch her sort the 1s, 5s, 10s and 20s in neat little piles, using her big calculator with the paper feed to add everything up with delightful efficiency). She took her elderly mother and her husband’s elderly sister to the drive-in church on Sunday mornings, the one you didn’t have to get dressed up for, or even get out of your car, where you heard the pastor speak from an a.m. radio station and communion was brought round in little lidded takeout cups. They were Great-Aunt Jane, who did, in fact, have a bit of a Moses vibe with her vaguely Biblical sleeveless cotton housedresses, hawk’s-beaked nose and mane of shaggy white hair. Great-Aunt Jane, who’d take us out to feed the birds and squirrels, who’d make the rounds in her Florida apartment complex, checking up on the “older people” who lived there (I don’t think she ever saw herself as old). Great-Aunt Jane, who kept crayons and coloring books for the kids in her spic-and-span spinster apartment, who took us swimming in her nearly always deserted apartment swimming pool and who let us get loud at sleepovers—and who was often the one laughing loudest of all. She had a frightened little black-and-white cat named Belle that most of us had never seen, and kept a portrait of a solemn Jesus in her bedroom and a six-pack of beer in her fridge. She’d walk us to the movie theater or McDonalds, tell us stories about racing on motorcycles with her old boyfriends, and send each of us a birthday card every year with a crisp dollar bill, a slim pack of Trident gum, and a note in scrawly script: “Aunt Jane and Belle.” They were Grandma Delores, who lived a tougher life on the other side of the same city. Delores, the widow who raised her nine children as best she could, the single working mother who had a fierce temper, who saw so many of her children not do well, but who also kept rows of hardback classics in neat rows on her dark wood bookshelves, and did the crossword every evening at her long wooden table with a cup of coffee by her side and a cigarette dangling from her lips. Her children would gather round her at the table most nights, each trying to outdo the other to get her to laugh (or butter her up for a request). She collected carved elephants, bonsai trees made of wood, wire and glittery bits, and crystal figurines—things I think she found beautiful, and not easily broken. She wore deep red lipstick and silk-like shirts and slacks, thought TV shows and country music were boring, and Alice Cooper, Stephen King and Agatha Christie were funny. She made her famous fudge when the out-of-town grandkids came to visit, even when she’d been on her feet all day and was no doubt tired. These women didn’t seem particularly inspiring or praise-worthy to me back then. I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to be just like them (OK, maybe Great-Aunt Jane). They just were. They just did. They just kept on. Maybe that was enough. 35
To you I'm just an old lady But my memory's sharp as a tack I remember every story Even going forty years back That guitar on my wall She's got a tale to tell The tale's got ups and downs It goes from Heaven to Hell I call her Souvenir She's that and something more A piece of my life's dreams That I hate but can't ignore Well, anyway I had me a man Lord, he could make me shake All the gals in town wanted him Heck my Momma gave him a double-take I saw our children in his eyes The best little family in town The happiest home you ever seen We'd play that guitar til sundown I call her Souvenir She's that and something more A piece of my life's dreams That I hate and try to ignore
Souvenir Jim Williams Song and Photography
I wish I could leave it right there That’s how I wanted it to end But I came home at the wrong time Turns out he had a new friend They made so much noise he didn’t Hear me sing “Your Cheatin’ Heart” So I took that guitar and left the rest A souvenir of love gone dark I call her Souvenir She’s that and something more A piece of my life’s dreams That I won’t hold onto no more So take that guitar off the wall Tune her and play me a song Then put her away and close the case On that man that done me wrong Take her with my blessing Take her to a new life Take her and make her a souvenir Of the love you have for your wife I call her Souvenir She’s that and something more Now she’s a piece of your dreams Of true love evermore
Two by Bill Garten
Vetting He was supposed to be dead eight months ago, a tumor wrapped around his liver like bacon around scallops no party favorites here I took out the Book of the Dead. the Necronomicon, coupled with tarot cards & candles, & a fourteen-year-old bottle of single malt scotch, gently placing my sliced palm on his orange stomach half in a trance, half in real pain. The next morning he crawled out on all fours to the corner of my big wooden deck where he sat erect rising on hind legs, gazing at the evolving sunrise. Nothing like an old cat, ineffable as an undisturbed Buddha.
Draw I straighten my arm out for sacrifice, to submit while the phlebotomist knots a caramel rubber strap and taps my vein with blue green gloves an S & M tourniquet he commands Make a fist, and probes for my vein wiggling around the needle like a well witch dowsing the soft-side ground of my elbow under the skin, my blood gurgles out even with therapeutic Coumadin You can release your fist now vials lined up like bullets on a metal tray aimed at answers
Two by Peter Scacco
A new game This stream having run its course the voice of past seasons tells me to ready myself to relinquish the old game that constant companion along a soft shaded path to begin looking ahead to days of slanting light and to storms fast approaching. No time now for long farewells ― I must play a new game in the pale light of autumn.
Esther (Chassériau) Orient within those eyes those luring jewels your honeyed hair uncoiled to the dark girls who attend your curves, your scented scheming ― Ahasuerus waits.
Brienna Thompson Photography
Athene and Her Soldier
“Come to bed.” Athene in her nightgown sable-silvered curls tumbled to the small of her back hands that held the aegis sweetly caress his shoulders the care of command still wrapped in those sinews He pulls bifocal glasses with a weary hand sigh of years whispering between his lips he doesn’t have to turn the grey-eyed girl still stands in that cluttered place of memory but turn he does ease of several lifetimes caught in tangled fingers She has seen a thousand generations off to war broken souls buried in mud but this one belongs to her, uncle in the Underworld will not have him oh, he knows better, Prince of Elysium grants her folly, only a teardrop in time
And yet, the soldier chose her promised a waltz from a church pew bed somewhere south of Manassas he remembers with a smile her hands didn’t hold a spear then, only carried candlelight and linen dark owl on her shoulder laughing at mortal brashness Grey of her dress matched his gunmetal eyes she was tired of fighting thought she’d staunch the blood this time just maybe dent man’s inhumanity to man that Ares loves so much He took her home to New York’s mountains a small farm on the windswept road hard by Storm King Pass somehow, they always come back here to the high granite above Captain Hudson’s river She would have kept him then but he brokered a promise to let him go when years had worn his gentle face and yes come back if she would but wait
and so she did passing the Great War in widows weeds London. Nineteen Forty-Three. he commanded boys again Twenty-four crews in heavy bombers she chose to be British proud of their stubborn defiance he remembered her eyes she remembered his heart a moment for smiles a week for the wedding He took her home again crossing the Atlantic in a Queen’s liner with Poseidon’s blessing She could only watch his tortured dreams because the dead slept under his pillow she couldn’t reach him when he walked the river lulled by Sirens a fight with her sister Fates she could not win
He showed up at her studio 44 years later West Point ring knocking on the door a potter, she threw clay all right straight at his mirthful eyes and then she hugged him holding on for dear life Tonight her loom is settled by the window where it’s been for 150 years to catch Apollo’s light his desk still stands in the corner Eighteen Forty-Six black oak and chestnut carved from Hudson Valley He’s been writing again 73 Easting is 25 years past the sons of his battle chargers are in Kandahar now and he can’t reach them she sees silver weaving his temples knows her promise, doesn’t mean she has to like it is this what faith means? to wait again?
Atma I create a form of visual poetry. My paintings express the feelings of the pre-verbal mind, liberating the ideas and emotions that lie beneath the surface of my consciousness. I create my own language for communicating dreams, ideas, fears, and hopes using multiple layers of paint as well as tools to cut, gouge, scrub and scrape the paint. The effect of peeling off or gouging out shapes in the multi-layered bed of paint creates a multi-dimensional composition. The effect of these rough-edged and deeply gouged shapes on the paint of under-layers makes them dynamic independent elements against the dominant backdrop. Intentional decisions relating to design and composition are made at every stage of my process and these decisions determine the outcome and success of my paintings. Nothing like it has been painted prior to the moment that I pick up my painting tools. There is a point in all creative work when disparate elements pull together and the image becomes clear. Non-objective art is like seeing a thing before the brain has time to label and define it. It also requires a collaboration between the artist and audience to bring the process full circle.
~ Suzun Hughes
Naturally Imperfect Suzun Hughes Acrylic
Reflections Suzun Hughes Acrylic 43
Sandra Noel The missing vocabulary of the divine In Inuit there are over 50 words for snow. Will they melt syllable by syllable with the ice caps float among the icebergs with stranded starving polar bears sift letter by letter between empty ribcages and eye sockets? Will there be 50 words for loss when we are finally done?
Soul deep the Rappahannock winding through a lost city. Even as a child that river made me weep. Sometimes a thing so close can make us feel without understanding.
An old friend drunk one night in Seattle when I asked if she wanted to go downtown to a bar and hear some music said bars were places where people go to hang upside down like bats. I never forgot that-even after the two of us for reasons we have both forgotten or outgrown stopped speaking to one another for twenty years.
A case for saving it from an expat Virginian
The river carried my dreams westward but much later for a while it was, how shall I say this bliss... slow and lazy in summer. Firefly fireworks danced over sandy banks where we'd drink bootlegged sloe gin the color of blood. The earth in that land was full of blood and ghosts rose with the moonlight. Our pastel summer dresses bleached white by it trailed ghostly in the dark water as we waited for sunrise. In winter the ice was thick near shore where we'd skate late into the evening under a sky full of stars. My river dreams, I lost them all dreamed others, held and lost some too. From the window of this plane I watch it wind its snake brown body through the damaged landscape of my childhood. It wraps around what has come to claim it as it wrapped around my heart ever changing, moving seaward.
"The River", chapbook, Kelsay Press, 2017
The last bats I saw were hanging out on Bat Island in Sulawesi, Indonesia -flying foxes, thousands of them left at dusk to feed on rainforest nectar and returned to the island at dawn. As I watched their silent shadows pass overhead I was reminded of her words and our friendship marred perhaps by too much of every damn thing-alcohol, drugs and pretty, useless men too much sweetness in the night. The flying foxes on Bat Island were all killed last year for the illegal bush meat trade. It makes me want to call her up go downtown together and hang upside down a while.
â€œInto the Greenâ€?, chapbook, Finishing Line Press 2017
I brought a pot of pastel tulips and placed them in his line of sight. Maybe he was tired of staring at the white wall. Only later did I learn that he hated tulips. How perfect. To the very end my best efforts failed. When dawn spilled out over the horizon, I noticed that his Japanese cherry tree had dropped its blossoms. In a whirlwind, strangers cleared away the equipment and replaced the furniture. Somehow, the room was emptier, lonelier. That morning I made pancakes, swallowing each bite along with the sickening sweetness of disbelief – I watched Dad die. Dad died after just two weeks of feeling ill, four days after they found spots on his liver, and twenty-four hours after I arrived home. Though his death followed only a short illness, it was preceded by twenty-four years of real and fabricated feuds between us. He attended every sporting event, watching with a keen eye and later providing a lawyer’s sifting evaluation. My teenaged ears heard only relentless criticism. I didn’t know who or what I was other than an athlete, so when I didn’t seem good enough at sports, I didn’t seem good enough. I no longer enjoyed the sport that I had made my life, so I quit and instead focused on academics. After high school, a thousand miles’ separation helped our relationship. I started anew, distancing myself from old expectations. I went to law school, not upon his suggestion or pressure, but because the word lawyer piqued people’s interest and evoked respect. If I couldn’t have his approval, I would have society’s. When I chirped to him about being invited to moot court, my excitement was quashed by the genuine surprise in his voice. Making law review was one thing, but moot court was another. It took something more, something that I wasn’t expected to have. Even when I surpassed his expectations I was somehow insufficient. A picture still hangs in the hall at my Mom’s house. In it, his arm is wrapped around my attorney 46
sister as she smiles. They were at her swearing-in ceremony. So proud. No one came to my swearing-in. It “wasn’t a big deal.” I was surrounded by spouses and children and parents, dressed in their Sunday best, wearing proud smiles and embracing their accomplished loved ones. I was awkwardly alone, embarrassed. No one came for me. He spoke during our father-daughter dance at my wedding. As he began, I so hoped that he would congratulate me, tell me I deserved every happiness, that he loved me, or even just that he thought I looked pretty. Instead, he began a familiar lecture on how I needed to control my fiery, ugly temperament. Stunned, I danced on in silence, struggling to maintain an unflinching smile for the on-lookers and photographer. Then, he died. A decade later, I have three children of my own. After a long night that was short on sleep – nightmares, tears, dirty diapers - I grab coffee and shuffle everyone to a swim meet. In shade-free 90-something-degree weather, we sit on a Cost-Co blanket on the concrete pool deck. I hold my breath. The starting buzzer sounds and my goggle-clad kindergartener plunges into the deep end. I watch his 45-pound body bob in the water, plodding along under my attentive eye as the seconds tick past. I think of the countless events my parents attended. They must have been exhausted too, suffering bleacher butt and so hoping for my success. Maybe he wasn’t trying to tear me down with his critiques, but trying to help me improve. Trying to support me. Trying to cling to the one something that he shared with his teenaged daughter, who was gradually slipping away into womanhood. We cleaned out his office after he died. In the top, center drawer of his desk was a decade’s old, black and white newspaper clipping of me, diving for a loose ball in a high school basketball game. After his death I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, after 7 months of suffering undi agnosed, while single-parenting a 2-year-old and an
infant because my husband was deployed. It was hard. Dad would have understood the isolation of an invisible disease, as he battled one himself. Despite sleep deprivation, hair loss, tremors, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, itching fits, and anxiety, I trudged along, praying for relief. Maybe Dad did too. Maybe my swearing-in “wasn’t a big deal” because he was sick. To attend, he would have had to traverse three states, while riddled with pain and fatigue, to support a child who already had society’s accolades and approval. Maybe he thought he could miss this one thing. What you didn’t know Dad, was that yours was the most important approval. After his funeral, one of his co-workers showed me an email Dad wrote about my bio on my law firm’s website. He proudly boasted that he couldn’t believe those were his daughter’s accomplishments. When I see my own unchecked rage in my child’s balled fists, clinched teeth, and reddened face, I hear the words he spoke at my wedding - control your temper. Maybe Dad, that was your way of telling me that we were both plagued by the same demon – anger. That it caused you to hurt your loved ones, and that you hoped I would conquer it so that I wouldn’t hurt my loved ones too. Maybe despite your professional success and eloquence, it was talking to your daughter about your innermost struggles that was the most difficult for you. Particularly on the day that you gave me away. But you never told me Dad, that anger is just fortified hurt. You never told me that it is my tender heart that fans the flames. You didn’t tell me that wrath is just the dark side of the same passion that drives me to fight for what’s right, to help people, and to pursue my goals. Maybe you didn’t tell me because no one told you. A black and white photo of my father and my grandfather, Pa hangs on the wall along the stairs in my home. There lingers between them an awkward, empty distance. The kind that separates two strangers forced to pose for a picture together. A similar space spearates my brother and my father in another
picture that I recall, my brother in his high school graduation cap and gown, standing in the same room where my father would later die. What stopped one of you from reaching for the other? The one story my father shared about Pa was how he washed Dad’s hands when he was a child. He would stand behind Dad, sandwiching Dad’s small body between himself and the sink, wrapping his arms around Dad to lather his hands. He would dig dirt from beneath Dad’s nails. It hurt, but Dad suffered it because it was the only time Pa touched him. The first time I saw Dad cry was at Pa’s funeral. Dad vomited in the bathroom. Was it that same sickening sweetness I tasted the morning after you died? Did you need more from your father too? Somehow, after a decade’s absence, you are here with me now. I forgive you for being human. I forgive you for not loving me at the exact time and in the exact way that I needed. All we can expect from someone is their best. That’s what you gave me, and in the end, that’s enough. It was enough from you, it is enough from me, and it will be enough from my children. I am enough, they are enough, and you were enough. Though he was not a religious man, Dad died on Good Friday, and as it turned out, his death delivered me. You taught me more in death Dad, than I would have let you teach me in life. Now, as I scramble through the dining room, chasing a child or rushing to another chore, the colors of a different photo catch my eye. It’s of Dad and I, hanging alongside a poem titled, "All Is Well," which was read at his funeral. For the first time, I notice how similar a 23-year-old woman and a 60-year-old man can look. Same eyes, same nose, same mouth. Our elbows are perched on the red and white checked tabletop of a pizzeria. This time, you embraced me Dad, and we both smiled. All is well Dad. All is well.
Photo by Amy Gentry Falkofske
Guru Advice: "There's nothing better than being in front of your clients. I tell people all the time that it’s the best way to expand your audience. We’re moving more toward the impersonal. Everybody is on Facebook and Instagram, but there’s nothing like actually talking to someone about work. You become a more effective storyteller and a more effective sales person, even a more effective publisher, because you are hearing more directly from the customers what they want. I know that some of the decisions I've made have been dictated by things I hear my clients say, and they've responded to those choices in positive ways.”
Children’s book author Tasha Fuller leads the busy life of an entrepreneur, mining her family’s stories for the inspiration for her popular illustrated books. It started when her daughter Aukema was born and friends told her she should turn a made up bath time song into a children’s book with Aukema as the protagonist. From this early stage, Fuller listened to her target market: African American mothers and families. What she heard was that they weren’t finding books with characters that reflected their own children’s experiences, and they were willing to purchase such books if they were available and of high quality. Fuller began her entrepreneurial adventure in marketing through self-publishing online, promoting on social media and by word of mouth, and by buying tables at places where she knew audience could easily find her. It’s Bath Time Baby became a hit on the festival circuit, which she utilized pragmatically and frugally. She had found her niche. Fuller’s audience wanted more, so she once again drew inspiration from her own children, expecting that other parents and children would have similar experiences and would identify with Aukema, and later Freddie, a character whose storyline is based on her first son’s love of sports. Following Bath Time, Fuller wrote Mommy I want to be a Princess, Little Freddie’s in the Zone, and Mommy, I Want to Dance!. Each time she offered a new book, her clients asked for more. Fuller says she plans to grow her brand as her children age, and since she now has four the scenarios and experiences they create together will be as varied and unique as their personalities. Currently, Fuller is finishing her first chapter book, an intermediate reader about Amira’s desire to begin cheerleading called Making the Squad. She is working on narrating an audio/video version of her work. She is also fleshing out a book through Freddie’s eyes about the family’s trip to Ethiopia, which she hopes to publish in the spring.
A Vision to Value
Visit Tasha Fuller online at www.tashasbooks.com 50
Fuller has had to become a bit of a marketing expert, learning on her own time and dime about ways to promote her work. The effort has paid off, but she has had to be relentless and disciplined to see those returns. With years of self-publishing knowledge, Fuller has become a vocal advocate and coach for other writers who hope to break into the independent publishing game,and she knows the plethora of self-publishing options available can sometimes be daunting for the novice. Fuller says face to face interaction is key. Self-publishing requires a lot of individualized, personalized, and specific promotion, and it may take a new author a while to find his or her niche. Being present and in front of customers nets sales. Much of it is selling oneself as much as it is selling a book. Fuller says, “Three out of the four people who pick up the books from my table at festivals will buy them. Part of that success comes from my being present and talking about my process, saying that these are my kids in the books. Customers love that interpersonal part.” When looking for festivals and events at which to sell her books, Fuller says she pays close attention to those where people are coming specifically to buy books. She says that while large festivals that allow independent publishers to join the party, such as the one in Baltimore, may offer good networking opportunities, they often fall short on visibility and foot traffic for self-published authors. Smaller festivals sometimes offer greater money making opportunities. She explains, “The Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival is a great example of this. When I was there this past September, I made a fantastic connection with local public school system simply because an administrator stopped by my table and I was able to personally talk about my book and coaching experience. I put books in her hands and she offered me a job to present to the schools. Three free books ended up being $3500.00 gig for me. Vending at the smaller festivals allows me to capitalize and connect with people who are not only buying books but who are part of a system, people who can set me up to do workshops or be a speak within that system.” As an independent author, Fuller says she has made more money than some of her traditionally published colleagues while retaining control over the representation of her materials. Traditional publishers may spend money initially on promoting their clients’ new books, but once the cycle is finished those authors are in much the same place as independent authors when it comes to promotion of their titles, and traditional publishers take a cut of the profits.
Guru Advice: "I have to be cognizant of the price point before vending at a festival or evnet. I’m not going to pay over $150 for a table, because as a bookseller I have to move a lot of volume in order to recoup that cost. Questions I ask myslef are: • What is it worth for me? •
What can I get out of it?
• Is this going to be a good spot for me? • What kind of connections can I make? I have to be fiscally responsible as an independent author. I strive to to put out a quality product, and I always go back to the idea that if I’m going to be spending time away from my family I better make some money.”
Fuller has a final piece of advice for authors working with text and images like she does: use social media to help you find unknown illustrators and artists. She says, “I’m a bit of an art snob, but I don’t have artistic talent myself. It’s amazing how small the world becomes and how you can connect with people to do different things online. All of my illustrators have been relatively unknown. I found Racheal Scotland, who illustrates Amira, on Instagram. I would advise authors new to self-publishing to tap into the talent of art students fresh out of college or artists who are exploring their technique and genre.” It comes down to value for Fuller. She says values her life as a wife and mother above all things, and publishing independently allows her a lot of freedom and flexibility to honor that commitment. She says, “I have to be fiscally responsible as an independent author. I strive to to put out a quality product, and I always go back to the idea that if I’m going to be spending time away from my family I better make some money.” 51
Working Men Japan Harsimran Brar Photography 52
I am a student of Ecology an Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. My interests in ecology has heavily shaped my photographic approach. Ecology drove me to pick up birding as a hobby. I love going out and observing birds in the desert and forest landscapes of Arizona. To succeed as a birder, one must have sharp eyes and even sharper reaction times if they wish to experience the full diversity of avian life. When I am out in a forest trying to get a glimpse an elusive bird, I must remain vigilant of my surroundings. I must phase out all distractions, and become attuned to the cues that signal an upcoming encounter with my target. When I lose focus for a fraction of a second, mistakenly look the wrong way, or fumble with my binoculars at the moment of an encounter, I always miss the opportunity to lay eyes on what I so desperately sought. Street photography is similar to birding in many respects. If you want to capture an interesting scene, a unique expression of human emotion, or an intimate moment, you always have to be in a position to witness. If you are looking the wrong way, donâ€™t have your camera in hand and at the ready, or get distracted with events in the background, you are guaranteed to miss the best shots. However, when you are looking the right way, when you have your camera primed for a photo, and when you phase out the world beyond the borders of your viewfinder, you will be rewarded with images that beautifully capture the diversity of human experience. To succeed as a birder or a street photographer you have to sharpen your focus and observation skills. You never know what tree a bird may be hiding in, and you never know when and where your next shot will be taken. If my studies in ecology had not driven me to sharpen my observation skills, the images presented here today would not exist.
~ Harsimran Brar
Strangers on the
Street Harsimran Brar Photography
Stage Direction Lanny Morgnanesi “I’ll be a different kind of male friend. I won’t have sex with you. I won’t even try to have sex with you. And I won’t talk about sex with you. But when I’m with you, having sex with you is all I will think about. And you’ll probably know it.” “How will I know it?” “You’ll see a vacant spot in my eyes. There will be a hesitation in all my moves. I’ll look at you as if something is wrong but nothing will be wrong.” “You should go sleep with someone else, then come back to our friendship without any built up . . . pressure.” “Physical release is not it. It’s union.” “You want union?” “I don’t exactly want it. It’s that I want to want it. We all want things we really don’t want. It’s because when you don’t get them, there’s no loss. As we want while not wanting, there’s comfort and peace and real pleasure . . . pleasure in even simple moments.” “Why did you pick me to be in your play?” “For the shared moments. For the inspiration you provide. For giving me this hill to climb, and climb and climb.” “Will it be the same when my husband gets back from California?” “It might be better.” “I’m not sure I can work under these conditions.” “I think you’ll like it. It will feed something in you and take nothing away. It can’t harm you.” “Suppose I fall in love with you.” “You won’t. I know you won’t. You know you won’t. But we both might pretend. There will be a thrill in that.” “Are you doing this for the play?” “It’s for the play, and for everything else. Everything. You’re a star in the night sky and I’m navigating by you. I’ll never reach the star. I have no intention of reaching the star. I just want it to guide me, to push me forward.” “Are you supposed to guide me?” “That’s not important. Use it as you wish. But let’s stop. I’m violating my own rules. Get on stage with Alex and start with Act 2.” “The scene with the line, ‘I got up this morning and had nothing to think about’?” “That’s the one.” 55
Writing Life A Conversation with Biographer Brian Jay Jones
Thank you for talking with me, Brian. We really enjoyed having you
as a speaker at the Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival in
on”. The Sketchbook is composed of over thirty short stories - Rip van
September, and I am fascinated about the work of being a biogra-
Winkle is one - and Legend of Sleepy Hollow is in there, too. There are
pher. I was looking over the list of biographies you’ve written, and
five stories right in the middle, that he bundled together called "Old
I see the connection through entertainment between Jim Henson
Christmas” and they’re fantastic, building a nostalgia for something
and George Lucas. Washington Irving though? That was your first
that never really existed! Irving winks at the reader the whole time; he
well-recognized publication. What was the interest there?
breaks the fourth wall to talk to you, which is a very modern voice that
Yes. Look at his work in "The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Cray-
really surprised me. So, I wanted to find out more about him, and there
I view my niche as enigmatic pop culture icons — and the
hadn't been anything written in eighty years.
enigmatic Irving really is the creator not only of American pop culture,
They always say one of the first rules of writing is write the
but he was also our first pop culture celebrity. Yet, he hadn’t been the
book you want to read, and I really wanted to read a book about Wash-
subject of a modern biography—the last time he was done was in
ington Irving. That was really how I found him.
1935, by an academic that didn’t really like him all that much. I thought he needed a new examination not only as a writer, but as a pop culture
I guess he did have a connection to entertainment, too, then. He
figure. I was an English major, but I really don't ever remember having
might even have been an influence on modern storytellers.
to read Irving, even in college; however, he's one of those guys whose work is embedded in our pop culture DNA. The Legend of Sleepy Hol-
low? Not everyone has read it, but they can usually summarize it and
can pop culture icon with international appeal. He was like the Stephen
Right. Even beyond the work, Irving really was our first Ameri-
tell you who the main characters are.
King or John Grisham of his day. If he needed to renovate his house,
I really became interested in him after reading a book about
he’d write a book because he knew he'd make a fortune on it. Politi-
the history of Christmas, because I'm a Christmas junkie. And this
cians wanted him to run for office, writers wanted him to blurb them.
book—The Battle for Christmas—explained why Americans have this
He was even appointed Ambassador to Spain by a P.R.-savvy U.S. presi-
misty-eyed view of Christmas,especially as the holiday relates to child-
hood and children. In the early years of the United States, Christmas was actually banned in the thirteen colonies because people would
He sounds like a market savvy celebrity.
get drunk and beat each other up. It wasn't really celebrated until the 1800s, after Irving had written a series of Christmas stories that read
like Dickensian tales, even though this was pre-Dickens. They had a
looking at him as the pop culture figure, and not just as a writer. For
very Victorian Christmas feel, even though that term didn’t exist at the
instance, he was just one of these guys that really cultivated his public
time Irving wrote them. So, Irving essentially created our version of
image, which was very different from his private life. He knew how to
Christmas, which is something I had never heard before. That led me
do these things that we look for in our celebrities today, things that we
to Irving, and I spent the next seven or eight years researching him
just take for granted in celebrity culture — being on the cover of maga-
before I ever wrote a word.
zines, having autograph hounds beat a path to front door, even fleeing
So you were interested in the way Irving built nostalgia for his audience.
That’s how I looked at him. I was much more interested in
the paparazzi — and he did them all first. It was a side of early American literature and early American history that we never see, and it was really fun and fascinating.
After I finished, I wasn’t really sure I was going to do another
wrote a sample chapter using what I could find and sent it to them, say-
biography. While I wish I had a great story for how I came on the idea
ing, “This is the way I would do this.” That sort of kicked the door open.
for a biography of Jim Henson, I’m afraid I really don’t. I remember
They allowed me to write the book, with their cooperation. It wasn’t an
being on Jim Henson's Wikipedia page, and something I read there
authorized biography, because they had no editorial control over the
made me wonder where they had gotten the information. I looked for
content. But they did cooperate from day one, and I took their input
a citation - Muppet fans are actually really great about that - and was
stunned to discover that there wasn't a real biography of Jim Henson
— all the books at that time were about the work, not the man. So that
years researching and writing a book. It took a total of five years, be-
was another one where I thought, gee, I’d love to read a biography of
cause the first half was convincing the family and company I could write
a fair biography of Henson.
That book came out in 2013, after I had spent two and a half
I guess that’s not really surprising when you are working with
That's unbelievable that there wasn't a biography of Jim Henson.
the family of an admired person, but I hadn’t considered how long it
He’s such an icon.
takes to get things done. That must be so difficult, especially when you are really excited about a project and want to get it going. Then you get
Right! By the time I started poking around he'd been dead
to spend all this time with a topic. It seems like there ends up being a lot
eighteen years, and I thought there had to be a Robert Caro out there
of time when the topic is just mulling around in your mind.
that had been working on this project for the last fifteen years or some-
thing. But neither I nor my agent could find anything in the works.
I didn't know what I had. I was dealing with the gatekeepers for two and
a half years. Jim had a widow and five kids, and I had to earn their trust
At the time I was living in Montgomery County, Maryland,
just a county away from where Henson grew up. There's a Jim Henson
Part of it was I didn't really know the story. Until I got in there,
before I could access the information. I wasn't really going to know
archives at the University of Maryland where Henson attended college, so I went over to visit with the archivist to see if perhaps he was aware of anyone working on a biography of Jim; I though perhaps *he* might be writing one! But he wasn’t, and he wasn’t aware if one was being written. I asked if he knew anybody inside the Henson organization I could talk to, and he put me in touch with the Jim Henson Legacy, which is the organization that Jim Henson’s widow started with a number of his professional colleagues. I started a conversation with the board of the Legacy that progressed over two years before they would finally give me permission to write the book.
I really wanted to access Jim's private archives, which are pri-
vately held at the Jim Henson Company in New York. They’re not at a university and open to the public. You have to physically be in their offices to access them; the archives are private property. So getting their permission to get into them was key. Were they excited that somebody wanted to write this biography since nothing had been done?
No. They were pretty skeptical. They’d been approached be-
fore, didn’t like how things had gone, and weren’t going to get snookered again.
After going back and forth for nearly two years, I finally said,
“Look, you guys are a Hollywood family, Let me audition for you. Let me write you a sample chapter so you can see exactly how I would handle this important subject."
I went down to the Library of Congress and pulled everything
I could find on Jim when he was living and performing in Washington, D.C. for the local NBC affiliate. When Henson was in high school and a freshman in college, he was getting tons of ink in the Washington Post; he was this TV boy wonder who was already being hailed as a genius. I
The Lucas book came together pretty quickly then.
Most books have a long gestation, but the Lucas book didn’t!
I finished the Henson book in July of 2012, and it finally came out in September of 2013; there's always a long production. For that whole year, I wasn't really giving much thought to the next book. Until my editor told me that he had heard from the guys upstairs in the Star Wars division — Random House published my book, and they also publish the Star Wars novels — and my editor told me that word had come down from the Star Wars offices that Lucas had read my Henson book and loved it. Wow.
And I thought: “Well. That's awesome."
Yeah. You're thinking, "I'm on George Lucas's radar."
Exactly. And I had contact information for his assistant, so
I wrote to her telling her I was going to send a letter to Lucas to ask about being his official biographer, and would she please make sure it got in front of him? He had just sold the company to Disney, so I said in the letter, “Let’s get you on record. Let’s do this thing.” But his assistant wrote back and said it wasn’t something George was interested in doing. I was really disappointed.
But by that point, I was in love with the subject matter, and
I decided to write the book without him. It’s probably a much better project without Lucas’s involvement, because he's a master storyteller and his influence over his own story would certainly be there. He’s the king of narrative, not only of what goes up on the screen, but also about his personal life. You can’t always trust him. So, without his involvement, the story doesn’t reflect his biases. It’s much more warts and all, as they say. what I had until I got in. As I always say: you don't know what you don't know until you know you don't know it. Clear as mud, right? But
I can understand that. We all want to be in charge of our narra-
the great thing about a person like Jim Henson is that once I got in,
tives, but perhaps from a biographer’s point of view it would get in
he didn’t disappoint you. He really is the way you want him to be. His
the way of telling the complete story.
most egregious fault was not always being faithful to his wife, which he
acknowledged and they all dealt with. That’s in the book, too. Other
than that, he makes for a really wonderful, inspiring topic.
by the 2017 George Lucas, versus the in-the-moment, 1976 George Lu-
Yes. It’s a very different book if it's a reflective story being told
cas relating what is happening right in front of him. So, 2017 George You found him to be genuine in retrospect.
Lucas will tell you, “In 1976, when I was out in the desert in Tunisia and 20th Century Fox abandoned me, I *knew* I had the biggest hit of all
Right. It’s what you expect of the guy who invented the
Muppets. That's what you're going to get out of Jim.
time on my hands, and that Fox would rue the day it ever decided not to give me enough money to finish my movie the way I wanted to."
That's one thing. But now let’s look at the 1976 George Lucas,
Were you writing the Henson and Lucas biographies simultane-
who is venting in Starlog Magazine that the studio had abandoned him
ously, because the release dates I saw were pretty close together?
and didn’t give him the money he needed, and so this movie he now has on his hands is going to tank because the suits had no faith in it. I
No, no, but they were fast. There were three years between
mean, the 1976 George Lucas doesn’t know what’s got on his hands.
them. The Henson book came out in 2013 and the Lucas book came
That's what makes it so exciting for both me as a writer and you as the
out in 2016.
reader — because we know the end of the story. We know the exclama
tion point at the end of that sentence. 1976 George doesn't know what 2017 George knows. So it’s a very different book that way. It's a much better as an archival biography, rather than as a George Lucas memoir. Did he like it after you got it done?
I've never heard back from him. No attorneys have come
knocking, so I'm assuming I got it right. It’s exciting to think you had some time to process with him and then decided to go on your own route. It’s a good example of author’s choice, too.
It was. Talk about preconceived notions! I mean, George…
Star Wars…I was nine when Star Wars came out. It’s in my pop culture DNA. It wasn't a story where I had to really familiarize myself with George Lucas and his career. I've seen all his movies, and I remember seeing American Graffiti on TV because my parents loved it. But once you start digging, that's when you start getting into the personal stories and that's when it starts going places you don't necessarily expect. That was when I really started to find the narrative that makes him who he is. His driving MO is always control. It's what makes him who he is; George Lucas is not George Lucas without being a control freak. He wants to control as much of the filmmaking process as possible, which is why he's got Skywalker Ranch. That’s where he runs the table. The prologue speaks to this.
The prologue is called “Out of Control,” which works on two
levels: first, he's having problems on location. His robots don't work, and they’re skittering out of control all over the desert while he's filming. But he also doesn't have complete control over Star Wars at
that time. He had to cede ground to 20th Century Fox while he was
contributions to popular culture. But beyond that, one of the things I
Well, the easy answer on that is that they’ve all made major
making it, and vowed he was never going to do that ever again after
discovered about these guys is that they were all really decent people,
that experience. I didn't know going into it that *control* would be
which is a really cool thing to find out when you're a biographer. When
a driving arc behind his career. With Lucas, we always tend to think
you choose to write about someone, you live with that subject and,
of him in silos: he's the Star Wars guy or he's the Indiana Jones guy,
when you’re their biographer, you live with it for a long time. If you're
or, depending on your age, he's the Willow guy. He's the ILM special
living with someone really unpleasant, that can make the project very
effects guy, and until you start unloading all that stuff and lining up
unpleasant. I'm not one of these people that can compartmentalize; I
the timeline, realizing how much the guy does, that's when you start
have colleagues that can do that, but I just can’t. I've been very fortunate
to see the common themes and motivations running together that
that I've had decent guys to write about, not perfect guys by any stretch,
really make him who he is.
but decent guys who wanted to do decent work. So, that’s a common theme among them.
Did you find commonalities among the three subjects of your work after researching them? Obviously,they are all in the media/entertainment business, and they were all white men, but did you have any ah-ha moments where you found some over-arching thing that connected them all?
That begs an interesting question. Since you studied these three people pretty intensely, did you find they all tried to control their narratives tightly? Some of it seems to be a matter of listening to intuition over other people. Is it about following one's gut instinct, or is it about control?
It was definitely in Lucas's arc. For Jim Henson, his widow,
the rule maker — which is a different kind of trailblazing. He's the guy
Jane, told me Henson knew from moment one he was going to be fa-
who's figuring this all out and is constantly worried that maybe, some-
mous. I guess it’s one of the reasons he would save everything — he
how, what he's doing is wrong and he’ll lose all his money, so he just
would empty out his pockets every six months and put it all in boxes,
keeps right on writing. The entire time, he's building this career with-
which are all now nicely filed away at the archives in New York. He was
out quite meaning to. His entire life, he was looking for government
one of these guys that knew he was going to be successful, he just
jobs to pay the bills. He ends up, almost by default, becoming a writer
wasn’t sure at first at what that might be. Jim didn’t play with puppets
and does that the rest of his life. He’s always in negotiations with his
as a kid; what really interested him was television. At age 17, he learns
agent for the money, making pitches about future books.
that the local CBS station wants to hire young people to perform puppets for a TV show — and that was his way into television. He shows
It’s not a very secure life.
up, a high school senior, and says he’s a puppeteer, and that’s really it. They hired him, and he ended up being great at it, probably because
he didn't know what the rules were for puppetry — he just figured out
this very different, very confident image. He’s the very cultivated, eru-
Yeah, he's just a disaster all the time, but publicly he puts out
intuitively how puppets work on TV. Before Henson, people thought
dite Washington Irving. Meanwhile, behind the scenes he's a mess.
if you were going to have puppets on television, you needed to build the puppet theater with the curtain. Jim's the guy who said, “What
Sounds like every other writer trying to make a living.
do you need the puppet theater for? Just use the four sides of the TV. *That’s* your puppet theater.”
Like Lucas, Henson was a guy who was absolutely commit-
ted to his own way, his own art. Look at The Dark Crystal. Jim’s got
I’d like to shift our focus a bit. Do you have advice for writers who
Muppets on TV, Muppets in the movies. He’s got the biggest act in the
might want to break into writing biographies? Obviously, there is
world and he decides to make The Dark Crystal. His agent asks why he
the element of research. I would assume making connections with
wants to do an artsy film, and tells him to just stick with the Muppets.
people is also important. How is the approach different from,say,
But to Jim, The Dark Crystal was his natural progression as an artist. It
writing a fictional novel?
was where he wanted to go. He wanted to advance his art, and he was excited by the technology he was developing.
jealous of them for a number of reasons. One, they can sit and write in
Irving was one of these guys who for a long time was just
First of all, I always tell people who write fiction that I'm very
trying to earn a living. Then, all of a sudden, he's earning a living writ-
a coffee shop. We can't do that as nonfiction writers, because we have
ing and he’s a nervous wreck, convinced the bottom's going to drop
to have all our shit with us. We have to have all of our sources, and we
at any time.
have to be able to find our quotes.
So Irving’s not really a risk taker.
I remember at one point when my daughter was playing
club volleyball in high school, we were traveling around Maryland and Virginia, and I was always carrying these big binders with me be-
Well, he is, but he doesn't realize it. He’s the first one to earn
cause I was determined to write in the hotel room for at least three
a living by being a full-time writer. No American had ever done that.
hours. I'd walk in with a big box of binders just to sit down and write
There was no rule book for that, and he couldn’t look to anybody else
at the crummy little hotel desk with a burned out lamp. So, I'm very
and see how it's been done. So, contemporaries of his, like James Fen-
jealous of fiction writers because they get to sit down at coffee shops
imore Cooper and Edgar Allan Poe, are very critical of him. Poe would
to write, because most of it is upstairs in their heads. As a nonfiction
kiss his ass to his face, but then talk about him behind his back.
writer, we can't use our imaginations to write ourselves out of a corner when we get stuck. We can’t write,”…and then he got in a land speeder
Poe would talk shit about him?
and flew away.” We actually have to find out what really happened, which means sometimes you get really stuck trying to do something
Yeah, he went around bitching to anyone who would listen
as simple as getting your subject from one town to another. I always
that Irving was overrated. But Irving was a real trailblazer without quite
joke that the reason I love writing biographies is that I can't plot. With
meaning to be. He was flying without a net most of the time, making
biography, I kind of know the arc of my story and I always know how
up the rules as he went along, but he was doing it — he was making a
it's going to end, which you don't necessarily know in fiction. But we
living by his pen. Until Irving, there had never been an American who
don’t always know all the little details.
earned their living solely by writing. Poe didn’t appreciate that going
first also meant going alone. There were no role models for Irving to
ers, but biography is one of the genres—maybe even more so than his-
emulate. Someone had to go first. That was Irving.
tory--where you can't just bury yourself in archives and research and
live in your head. Maybe if you're writing about somebody long dead,
So, you’ve got people like Jim Henson and George Lucas
who are the rule breakers, and then you've got Irving who, in a way, is
But it's funny: a lot of writers consider themselves wallflow-
but most of the time you have to go out and talk to people, put
a recorder in someone’s face and have a conversation with them. A lot
of times, that is the intimidating part of the process. I remember when I
what's the better way to tell this story. Should I tell it or would Jim Hen-
I do that as a biographer, too. I think about how it sounds and
had to go interview Frank Oz, I was terrified of Frank Oz, because he had
son or George Lucas tell the story better through a quote? Should I let
this reputation of not suffering fools gladly and he was this very strong
them tell it with their bias, or maybe I can step in and give you the real
presence. He was Jim's best friend and right hand man. I made sure I
story? That's really interesting. You really made me think with that one.
was very well prepared when I went in, and it ended up being fine. I met with him three or four times after that. Whew.
It seems that with the speech writing and research, you would you
have to have a really deft hand at developing voice.
So we all consider ourselves wallflowers, but there's a point
where you've just got to go in there and put on the brave face and knock on the door and talk to strangers.
You do. You think a lot about transitions, how to move from subject to subject or topic to topic, even inside a chapter, without feeling like
Fake it 'til you make it?
you're all over the place.
I heard you say you were working on book four. Are you willing to
Yeah. Talking to strangers is really hard and asking for some-
thing is really hard, but that's the roughest part of it. Make that ask.
share who it is?
You know, one of the things that actually helped me when I
was writing Jim's story was that I'd been in politics for twenty-five years.
I am. I’m doing Dr. Seuss now.
Politics is great practice for biography, because when you work in the Senate, a senator will ask you to find out everything you can about a bill
Oh, wow! That's really interesting, OK.
to determine whether to sponsor or vote for it. You call everyone . . . Yeah, a very interesting guy. He's going to be a lot of fun, but that So, you kind of got your research chops there.
book will probably be out…I have to deliver it next summer, so probably 2019 from Dutton Books?
Yes, you talk to somebody on one side of the issue, then you
talk to somebody on the other side of the issue. You put them together,
We will look forward to reading it, Brian. Thanks so much for
compress them, filter them, and you write your memo. That's actually
talking with me.
great practice for biography, you're going out and grabbing all these sources and you're compressing them down get to the narrative. You're
It was great talking to you. I really appreciate it.
telling the story and coming to a conclusion.
When it came to Henson, he's got this real Achilles' Heel in
that he just was never faithful to his wife. Everybody knew it. Everybody had a story. So, it was just one of those things you treat as a fact. It's not necessarily titillating. Jim was embarrassed about it, and you tell everybody that Jim was embarrassed about it. You don't dwell on it, because Jim didn't dwell on it. You treat it the way he would have treated it: an unavoidable fact--which is the way you do it in politics, or at least we *used* to. If you're truly trying to represent the person for who they were, you're not going to sugarcoat that, especially if it was a well-known thing. I'm wondering too if your speech writing has a connection with the way that you would write about these people. Did your speech writing help with topical flow and persuasion?
I’m actually thrilled you thought about that. I think what
speech writing did, more than anything, was to help me hear the subject, and it helps you hear the book. I should ask some of my other biographer friends about this now, because one of the things that I always think about when I'm reading through my sources and reading through quotes is how to get the voice of my subject into the
Hot on the heels of The Last Jedi, Brian Jay Jones fittingly has a piece in the Time's spacial edition on the Star Wars franchise.
book. I like for them to tell the story as much as they possibly can. As a speech writer, I was constantly worrying about how my speaker
George Lucas: A Life Prologue: Out of Control 1976
R2-D2 refused to work. It wasn’t stubbornness on the part of the droid—a trait that would endear the character to millions of Star Wars fans around the world. Rather, as the first day of filming began on Star Wars in the Tunisian desert on the morning of March 22, 1976, R2-D2 wouldn’t work. His batteries were already dead. The little droid wasn’t the only one with a problem. Several other robots, operated via remote control by crew members standing just out of sight of the movie camera, were also malfunctioning. Some fell over, others never moved at all, while still others had their signals scrambled by Arabic radio broadcasts bouncing off the desert floor, sending them careening wildly out of control across the sand or crashing into one another. “The robots would go bananas, bumping into each other falling down, breaking,” said Mark Hamill, the sun-washed twenty-four -year-old actor playing hero Luke Skywalker. “It took hours to get them set up again.” The movie’s director, a brooding, bearded thirty-one-year-old Californian named George Lucas, simply waited. If a robot worked properly, even for a moment, Lucas would shoot as much footage of it as he possibly could until the droid sputtered to a stop. Other times, he’d have a malfunctioning unit pulled along by invisible wire, until the wire broke or the droid fell over. It didn’t matter anyhow; Lucas planned to fix everything in the editing room. It was where he preferred to be anyway, as opposed to squinting through a film camera in the middle of the desert. It was the first of what would be eighty-four long, excruciating days filming Star Wars—twenty days severely over-schedule. And the shoot was a disaster almost from the beginning. “I was very depressed about the whole thing,” Lucas said. Lucas’s misery was due partly to the fact that he felt he had already lost control of his own film. He laid the blame at the feet of parsimonious executives at 20th Century Fox, who had nickel-and-dimed him every step of the way, denying him the money he needed to ensure that everything worked. But the suits at Fox were skeptical; science fiction, they insisted, was a dead genre, and the necessary props, costumes, and special effects were expensive. As far as the studio was concerned, Lucas could get by on a shoestring budget, and simply fix his robot problems as he went along. “It was purely a case of Fox not putting up the money until it was too late,” seethed Lucas. “Every day we would lose an hour or so due to those robots, and we wouldn’t have lost that time if we’d had another six weeks to finish them and test them and have them working before we started.” It wasn’t just the remote-control robots that were giving him trouble. Anthony Daniels, a classically trained, very British actor who’d been cast in the role of the protocol droid C-3PO, was miserable inside his ill-fitting, gleaming gold plastic costume, and unable to see or hear much of anything. With every movement he was poked or cut—“covered in scars and scratches,” he sighed—and when he fell over, as he often did, he could only wait for someone on the crew to notice and help him to his feet. Within the first week of filming, Daniels despaired that he would ever complete the movie in one piece. “It was very, very difficult getting things to work,” Lucas said later. “The truth is that the robots didn’t work at
all. Threepio works very painfully.…I couldn’t get Artoo to go more than a few feet without running into something.…Everything was a prototype…like, ‘Gee, we’re going to build this—we have no money, but have to try to make this work. But nothing really worked.” Lucas vowed he’d never cede control over his films to executives at the studios again. What did they know about filmmaking? “They tell people what to do without reason,” Lucas complained. “Sooner or later, they decided they know more about making movies than directors. Studio heads. You can’t fight them because they’ve got the money.” If Star Wars worked out, one thing would have to change for sure: he’d control the money. Still, there were some things he’d never control, no matter how much he might wish otherwise. The wildly unpredictable weather in Tunisia, for example, wasn’t making production any easier. During the first week of filming, it began raining in Tunisia’s Nefta Valley for the first time in seven years and didn’t stop for four days. Equipment and vehicles bogged down in the mud, requiring assistance from the Tunisian army to pull everything out of the muck. It was often cold in the morning and blazing hot by afternoon, and Lucas would begin most days in his brown coat, hands shoved deep in the pockets as he peered through the eyepiece of the camera; as the sun rose higher in the sky, he would shrug off his coat, put on his sunglasses, and direct his actors in a checked work shirt, with a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes. When it wasn’t raining, high winds tore up the sets, ripping apart the sandcrawler and blowing one set, as a crew member put it, “halfway to Algeria.” And sand, it seemed, got into everything, stinging eyes, abrading skin, and getting into nearly every crack and crevice. Though Lucas kept his Panavision cameras wrapped in plastic sheeting to prevent any damage from wind and sand, a lens from one camera was still nearly ruined. He was plagued by equipment problems as well as just plain bad luck. A truck caught fire, damaging several robots. When trucks failed, Lucas would move equipment on the backs of donkeys. By the end of the first two weeks of filming, Lucas was exhausted. With the constant setbacks caused by bad weather, malfunctioning droids, and ill-fitting costumes, he felt he’d gotten only about two-thirds of what he’d wanted on film—and what he had, he wasn’t happy with. “It kept getting cut down because of all the drama,” said Lucas, “and I didn’t think it’d turned out very well.” He was so upset he even skipped a party he hosted himself to mark the end of the Tunisian shoot, shutting himself into his hotel room to wallow in his own misery. “I was seriously, seriously depressed at that point, because nothing had gone right,” he sighed. “Everything was screwed up. I was desperately unhappy.” A little more than a year before it was scheduled to hit theaters, if it ever did, the Star Wars project was a mess, and the movie was going to be terrible. Lucas was certain of it. From George Lucas: A Life (c) Brian Jay Jones
Burning away The lonely candle on my table Burns away quietly, There is something calming The way it burns the wax and the oxygen in the room And burns away my time. I thought I can watch the candle burning forever. The cigarette burns away my health, The cigarette burns away my lungs, The cigarette burns away my worries. It is just like a candle I can watch it burn forever and still enjoy it. And the smoke will make me feel better For a moment and will help me to die. The wine feeds my body and mind And makes me want to live. The perfect wine buzz of the perfect grape Isn't it the perfect recipe for life? The wine is taking over my soul Just like the candle burning away, Just like the cigarette smoking. Some things will always be there for us helping us to burn our life away.
~ Nazariy Telyuk
Autumnal Equinox Mom said it’s time To come inside. It’s getting dark And cold and your father will be coming To take you away soon. Then let’s hide, let’s hide, I said, In the leaves, In the trees, in the fields with the corn, In the silence in the truck, in the covers In our beds, in the bruises and the chores. She said the sun was sinking Behind the trees and Dad would be here soon enough. I said why can’t Milly and I play Just a little bit longer?
Cheryl Clayton Painting
Mom just hung her head In the rope light of the open door And hugged herself goodbye and said The days are getting shorter.
~ Cainon Leeds 65
Dear Student, I don’t want to use your name here, because I know you won’t want to be singled out for praise any more than you want to be singled out for extra help or attention. You would prefer to remain anonymous and stay in the background. The things you do aren’t done for the sake of notoriety or popularity. I respect that. But you deserve every bit of praise I can give. You are the example I wish every student would follow. You should be popular. You should be praised. People should recognize you when you walk down the street. Every kid in this building should strive to be more like you, as should every adult. Honestly, I wish I was more like you. I’ve seen you day after day, always doing the right thing but never asking for any reward. I’ve seen you lend students pencils and help them pick up things they drop. When a friend of yours was bullied on the bus, you spoke up and told the bully to stop. I know it because I heard her threaten you, telling you to mind your own business and keep your mouth shut. You didn’t react, but you didn’t flinch. You looked at me, shrugged your shoulders, and later said it was no big deal. “She acts like that all the time.” As if that was an excuse, or justified anything she said. Still, you took the high road when most kids (or adults) would have lost their cool, and the immediate crisis, at least, took care of itself. The bully was trying to cause a situation, and you refused to react. In the end, it kept you and her out of trouble, and made my day a lot easier to get through as well. I did my best to take care of the problem for you, but I know how those things work. If she really wants to make your life miserable, she’ll push until she thinks you’ll break. Somehow, though, I don’t think you’ll break. Just like you don’t break in class. I know you struggle. Reading, for you, is hard, and you don’t always understand what you’ve been given to read. You spend hours laboring over questions, only to see them marked wrong when you’re done. A 20-question quiz can take you the entire class period, and your grade still won’t be as good as you hope. And yet, you don’t give up. I’ve watched you sit there and work for over an hour, reading and re-reading every question. I asked several times if you had questions, if you needed help. You were polite, but refused the help. You kept working. A student tried to show you her graded paper, you turned it back over on the desk. I heard what you said to her, and it surprised me. Most kids, struggling as you were, would have at least wanted a peak, but you refused. “I don’t need to see your answers.”
You want to learn. More than anyone in this building, you want to see progress and feel the joy of success, and you want to be able to own that success. That is the absolute pinnacle of character. Yet, too often, that success eludes you. You struggle to keep your grades up, though you labor over every assignment and turn in beautiful, carefully done work. Your test scores aren’t what they are supposed to be. You’re labeled, and put in classes with other kids who struggle. You’re taken out of the classroom to test in small groups or on your own. We have people read tests to you. We take away electives so you can have additional help with your reading. I know it frustrates you. I can see the stress on your face and the pain in your eyes. I also know how desperately you want it to all make sense, and I admire the effort you put in. You trust me and the other adults in this building to get you to where you need to end up. I hope we don’t let you down. You are, absolutely, the very best that we have. Other kids may get better grades or have higher test scores, but even the adults in this building seldom hold themselves to the standards that you maintain. To say that you are working “below grade level” may be fair when it comes to reading, but to say you are failing by any measure is ridiculous. You have a level of character that many adults never achieve and a work ethic and determination that could, someday, literally move mountains. (And, yes, I mean literally. If I needed a mountain moved, I would trust someone like you to do it. You’d do it with a soup spoon if you had to, but it would get done). I hope you realize that what you have is more valuable than gold. Your character and determination are your greatest assets, and they will get you farther than grades and test scores ever will. I know that your peers aren’t always as good as they should be. I know that the system expects things of you that don’t make much sense. I know, as time goes by, that the constant refrain of “you’re not good enough” will wear on you and make you question that strength of character that you have shown me all year long. I don’t want any of that to change you. Which is why I had to write this letter.
Portrait of an Every Day Hero Tom Conway
Bobby Clarke: 1975 Scott Wheatley
I was breathing heavily and could feel the cold in my lungs like a burning furnace as I ran down the hill in hockey gear, through the small patch of red Maples I was so used to running through from my house to the edge of the pond that rested between my family’s property and our neighbors, the Walters’. I tried to catch the cold in my mouth, for the fire in my lungs, by holding my breath like my mom’s cure for the hiccups. One Mississippi, two Mississippi…I hunkered down next to the pond, still counting and began to put my skates on. “Look what my dad got me!” I managed in between gasps. Jason Walters, the only kid my age for miles was standing on the ice and didn’t say anything right away. Maybe he hadn’t heard me. I watched snow swirl on the ice, around his ankles and the backs of his legs, as the echoes of hammers and saws were carried by the wind and came to rest near the surface of the ice. Jason’s almond colored eyes, aided by gray clouds, stared down the sun. Over his right shoulder I could see the faded, white paint peeling from his house. A thin stream of gray smoke exited the chimney and then disappeared as it entered the overcast afternoon sky. I pulled the skate key through my laces and tried to get his attention. “I got Bobby Clarke to sign my puck last night.” My breathing was back to normal. Jason faced me, passed the puck to himself through his legs, and raced to catch it. His skates sprayed ice in the direction of his house. He turned his large frame complete with broadening shoulders and skated my way. “I betcha’ Clarke never gets a Gordy Howe hat trick.” I looked away quickly but he knew he had me when it came to hockey knowledge. “And you call yourself a hockey fan. Finish lacin’ those fancy skates and lets play.” “You know I was at the game last night? You shoulda’ been there, Clarke was an animal.” “Yeah, yeah. Ya told me already. Let’s just play hockey, okay.” He paused, but I knew what was coming next as he looked up and smiled for the first time. “Mikey.” I threw my own puck into the center of the pond and raced after it. “Clarke takes the puck at the blue line, fakes the slapper, deeks one defender, throws the biscuit top shelf and… scores!” I skated in circles with my arms over my head as I celebrated. “And the autograph wasn’t even the best part.” I began again. “I got a new sweater and pretzels, peanuts and even pop.” I began skating backwards looking towards Jason who was making a
hole at the bottom of his Whaler’s jersey larger with his thumb. “You gotta’ dump that ratty Whalers sweater, Jason. You gotta have a Flyers one. Soon there’s gonna’ be more kids movin’ in around here. My dad says a few more lots across the street sold. You can’t be seen in that ratty Whalers jersey.” He skated towards the center of the pond, slowly circling me. Once. Twice. “Clarke sucks, anyway.” He said it again and then stopped behind me. He bent down and scooped my new puck up off the ice. “Hey, give me that. My dad got me that.” “You really using a signed puck out here? You’re stupider than I thought.” He held the puck up over his head. “Give it back to me, Jason… Or, I’ll tell. I’ll tell my dad.” “Alright, alright, don’t start whining like a baby. I’ll give your puck back. Just as soon as you race me.” He stopped in front of me and held out the signed Bobby Clarke puck for me to grab. Each time he exhaled a thin, white cloud followed. I went to take the puck and he pulled it back and put it under his Whalers sweater. “You beat me and I’ll give it back. I win and I get to keep it.” I stared hard at him and thought I saw something behind his expression. Something I hadn’t noticed the dozen or so times we had been out on the ice together. “I knew I shoulda’ listened to my dad.” I was holding back the tears now but I wanted to fuel his rage. I day dreamed of slashing his bare hands with my stick. “Give it back to me, Jason!” The octave of my shrilled scream was my only hope that my mother would hear and rush out of the house to save me. “What’s your daddy sayin’ ‘bout me?” He asked through gritted teeth more to shut me up. I skated from the center of the pond, the wind blowing, away from Jason to where I had sat earlier. The wind blew strips of snow in one line after another. “Forget it, okay, let’s just race.” I recognized my mistake and wanted to be anywhere other than on that pond. He skated to the end of the pond and we lined up. “Just tell me what he said and then we’ll race.” It was a game to him now.
I looked at his massive, right hand that was holding my puck. It was chapped and bluish from the cold. “I’m gonna’ keep this puck until you tell me. Then we’re gonna’ race.” “Fine, okay.” I hesitated for another few seconds. “He was right.” I turned and looked into those deep aphotic eyes and screeched. “He was right! You are the dredges of the earth. You’re pond scum. A backwoods hick. I wish other kids would move in.” The cold was making it hard to keep the snot inside my nose. “Then I’d have someone else to play with.” He looked away and dug his right skate into the ice. My stick rested loosely in my right hand. “On three,” I sniffled. “One, two, three,” we said together over the howl of the wind. I pumped my legs furiously, kept my head tucked, and swung my hockey stick a little too furiously as I threw the piece of wood and continued to thrust my arms. I sprayed snow into the brown, frost covered reeds at the end of the pond and saw Jason hadn’t beaten me. I thought I heard his dad chopping firewood in the distance. Jason laid some thirty feet back, face up, his arms and legs sprawled. My stick lay next to him. “Get up! Stop faking and give me my puck,” I said as I skated to his side. Blood was gathering around the back of his head; the chopping of wood seemed to get louder. I grabbed the puck and began to run on my skates off the ice, through the maples, and up the hill. The whole time I couldn’t stop smiling. A smile I didn’t understand. “Mom, Mom, Mom!” I yelled even after I was standing right next to her in the kitchen. “Get your skates off in the house!” she said, and with her head still over the kitchen sink, she added, “You’re dripping water everywhere.” She turned around and looked at me for the first time and then at the front of my pants. The puddle in front of her wasn’t the clear color of snow melting, but rather some cowardly color that had permeated my body. “Oh, gosh Mikey baby, it’s alright. We all have accidents, let’s get you some new pants.” I held up my hand with the puck tightly wrapped in my bloody palm. “I got it back, Mom,” I sobbed. “I got it back.”
Three by Patsy Asuncion
Water Percolates Existence
Streams flow in random turns, force resourcefulness among unrelated tribes.
Brittle ship of bones submerged, warm water soothing its palsied planks,
Tendrils of Maidenhair unfurl welcome dewâ€™s kiss. Maples surrender to seasonal rains, seed to sleep to seed repeat while Douglas firs never undress. For millennia, garden snails persist in fine mucous coats. From the source tributaries encircle fallen Cypress overgrown trails blistered outcrops. Some currents stay the way carved along hard-working banks. Others integrate clear then muddy lagoons aligned to lunar rhythms. Each its own body of water sculpts uncommon landscapes unique as tongue prints bumps and ridges. Amidst distinct expression, thirst gathers them into one ocean like interlaced seas life and death war and peace, same sea of sense and nonsense synchronized to the tides.
only to resurface to the pummel of familiar gale winds. The singular breath of relief below deck promises no future but the stolen moment. The vessel once navigated dangerous capes with steady rudder, but bruised years have bled to critical mass, to the white flag of longsuffering wounds, routinely ignored. No salvage for congenital ache, she contends with turbulent waters by basking in the occasional clarity of sunrise at sea, in the calm before the next storm.
Joanne Emery Photography 71
A Seed for a Seed Blue Jays war lords of sky terrorize all who fly for more – more land more food more air. When distracted by a clutch of young neighbors are grateful for the ceasefire. A well-fed bystander, the Gray Catbird does nothing but eye two Chickadees bullied by a male Cardinal intent on shoving them off the feeder for his own fledgling. That there is enough does not matter. What matters is his turf his father’s and his father’s. Black-headed Chickadees are not welcome. He leaves the Purple Finch alone on another foothold. Her reddish head remotely Cardinal red, helps her avoid profiling. Camouflaged in the trees’ recess, the Field Sparrows subsist best by waiting for crumbs forgotten. So too, the Tufted Titmouse scouts from leafy cloak, its gray-black markings easily spotted by enemy bombers. Half the size of most rivals, the Titmouse allies with Chickadees or Nuthatches. Robins retain territory by quick shifts consuming whatever’s available from bug in midair, poison ivy and grubs, to fruits and fish, aligning with Cedar Waxwings for spoils, or bunking in a Common Grackle’s old nest. The Mourning Dove, the only pacifist, waits on the ground, avoids skirmishes, eats beside foreigners, assured there’s sufficient seed for all.
~ Patsy Asuncion
Joanne Emery Photography
Two by Frank Fratoe
Wader in Fog Stalking fish on knotted legs, the blue-heron arches his neck and stands erect, peering down at the water just beneath him. I squint to see his technique as a film of mist slants across, almost imitating a windshield that wipers cannot clear in rain. Blue is aware of being watched as he elevates a featherhead pointing his bill cautiously, not thrilled with my intrusion. But after vigilance is complete he resumes prospecting a meal, so I withdraw from thicker fog and bid him luck to try again.
January River Quartertide swelling the Rappahannock undulates against land, in a hollow between the island of trees and the bank I rest upon, a clay spit directs its point to currents that move beyond shore, stirring a foam of seagulls adrift there who gather downstream, while water pushes toward destinations under advancing clouds, flanked on the skyline but swept by wind as far as eyes can trace, heading free to a distant bay, the River outside and within.
Katherine Arens Oil
Modern Words / October
from Jack Kerouacâ€™s On the Road Patrick McFarlin Oil on canvas 76
His Father’s Voice John McNamara
He’d forgotten his father’s voice. Could not recall its tenor or timbre. A single utterance to remind him of its character. He heard his grandfather’s voice, a sarcastic bark rasped by the ever-present Parliament between his fingers, as clearly as if he stood in the center of a surround sound circle. The other grandfather died when he was a four-year-old boy, and he didn’t remember him speaking; he had fashioned memories of the man based on black and white photos in the family album, stories spoken by his mother. Each of his grandmother’s voices, he recalled easily. One an overweight woman whose every statement sounded like a royal proclamation laced with disdain. The thinner one constantly lamenting her ever-saddening reflections. He sat on his porch on the padded chaise, sipping iced tea he brewed in batches using three tea bags and a cinnamon stick, knowing that if he closed his eyes and listened to a clutch of children walking by, he could identify his granddaughter’s voice within the chatting, giggling gaggle. His wife’s voice, with its gentle chiding lilt, its whispery enticements and passionate exclamations, seemed appended to his own. But his father’s voice. The collapse of that memory pained him.
Fritzi Newton Pretty as a Picture
The first thing that strikes you when viewing Fritzi Newton’s recent work is the attention to light and line. Like a Wyeth painting, the woman in the frame moves toward the dilapidated barn in the distance, drifting and dreamy, and also a bit melancholy. Newton describes it, “That’s Nicole Hamilton, an amazing painter at LibertyTown. I had gone to Spotsylvania Battlefield on an incredible evening where the fields were filled with goldenrod, and instead of groups of trees there were individual trees. It’s always really striking when there's a single expressive tree. There were a couple of little clouds in the sky, which was this amazing blue. I told Nicole, ‘We should go out there and set your easel up and it will look like we're shooting in Provence or something.’” Upon returning from a trip to North Carolina, Newton discovered that the brilliant goldenrod fields had been mowed, so she and Hamilton moved the production to historic Slaughter Pen Farm, a favorite spot for local photographers. Immediately, Newton saw the resemblance to Wyeth in her camera’s monitor. “That’s Helga!” she thought. Newton always checks out the light in a place before she shoots. “It can change so rapidly over the course of a week,” she explains. “With Nicole’s shoot, we met at 7:30 a.m.. The weather was amazing and there was a soft mist on the field. Early morning light is always so beautiful. Also, there are a lot of leading lines at Slaughter Pen Farm…and nostalgic buildings with the old house off in the distance and the barn.” Newton says Hamilton was easy to work with because she was open to new ideas and was comfortable in front of the camera. She enjoys working with people and tends to talk to put people at ease. “I'm very passionate about what I do and I get really excited about what I see. I think my clients feel my excitement which somehow helps them relax.”
Photography obviously brings Newton joy, and she says that’s really the key to it. “I also think that photography has made me see so much beauty, and I think I'm always looking for beauty when I take pictures, no matter where I'm shooting. It causes me see so much that I might not see if I wasn't always looking through my camera.” Newton is drawn to the simple lines of nature, noting, “I always feel like Mother Nature is the most accomplished gardener. We can't even approach the beauty that Mother Nature accomplishes with her planting.”
She feels that sharing photos of simple lines, gorgeous natural light, and field afire with goldenrods will help people take pleasure in the little things around them. She says, “There's so much bad stuff going on in the world,I guess in my world, it's my way to kind of shelter myself I guess from all the ugliness. Newton’s love of natural light and simplicity influences her portraiture work as well, something she is well known for locally, but that which she had not set out to pursue. She says, “It’s funny how you evolve. When you're a photographer people say, ‘Hey do you want to do some portraits?’ That part of my career has been a burgeoning thing for me, but it’s been snowballing as of late.” Her portraiture work has always included a lot of women, many of whom Newton notes are worried about their flaws. She says, “I wish they could see what I see when I view them through my camera. It’s my goal for them to love the photos as much as I do and to be excited when they see the finished result. Fritzi Newton’s work hangs regularly at Community Bank of the Chesapeake and at the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts (FCCA). You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram, as well as at her website:
Fritzi Newton Photograhpy
Three by Ruth Ann Allaire
At dawn the sun casts golden lines upon the sea angling for the day.
In my ignorance, I labeled terns Kamikaze pilots of the sky. That was days ago when I was young. Today I saw a gannet. A gannet dive from fifty feet headlong into the sea. In my newfound wisdom and sudden age I can discern the difference.
Battle For The Senses Whining, through a crack at the bottom of the outside door the wind brought icy air into the house. Whistling on the stove, the kettle sensed the threat and blew protective steam against the invading chill.
Afternoon Tea Joanne Emery Photography
I view the world best through my camera; it allows me to cancel out the noise and focus on the beauty I find around me and provides me with a new sense of wonder for the subjects I capture. In my current works I am focusing on various bird nests that I have found in nature. I find bird nests to be especially intriguing because they represent a conflict because they are fragile and delicate yet they are the home and are meant to be safe and strong. These beautiful structures, I remove from nature (once the occupants have left) and I photograph them on blank backgrounds, and then manipulate them into different tones to bring out the fascinating architecture, the complex construction, the fragility. Once I have done this the nest takes on its own composition as it moves about the space of the composition. Presenting them on a large scale provides a viewer the opportunity to visually explore these finite and beautiful qualities.
~ Crystal Rodrigue
Sanctuary Kaelin Ian Cooper Mixed Media
Three by Harold Whit Williams
Caught by the Indian Summer Train I keep missing the exit for that hometown in my mind. The borough in broken pieces Scattered other side of the tracks. They're waiting up for me, I know, Fretting, hand wringing,
Frittering about the fried pie table.
Such an utter mystery, this day-after-day.
That porch light with its congregation of moths.
Dog alarms, cars barking,
That harvest moon like a Buddha
Oak pollen upon the blank page.
Atop yonder ridge.
Jet planes arcing from nowhere to anywhere.
The leftovers. The folded quilts.
Sweet surreptitious sighs
Those sepia ghosts in their dollar store frames.
From wet root and vine. Clouds
Like monks on the mountain path of sky.
Sinking down to get comfortable.
Why oh why these gnats
A lone dogwood hunkering up against the house.
In my backyard whiskey? The afternoon
It leaves little flames flickering,
Floating facedown in a golden ennui.
Its afterglow some sort of metaphor
Every day a holy day to anticipate,
For the fire we return to,
To religiously observe.
For the ashes sprinkled upon our slumbers.
The transubstantiation, the utter mystery â€“ I swallow it all And expect nothing in return. I believe in the zero sum of Before + After. I believe in daylight on the windowsill. I believe another drink is in order. I salute whatever part of my soul that still wanders: Pontotoc, Winnemucca, Thrall, Broken Arrow. That little piece of my soul Changing a flat outside of Fort Worth. The south wind whispering its one promise In the greening prairie grass.
Incidental Music A low hum in the background of everything. Low hum and the clicktrack of hours. I pan myself to the left, then right. I pull the faders on a long workday. Satie and his snuff box. His long fingernails. Bo Diddley and that loaded pistol On the passenger seat. All hits. No filler. The world plays out in mono. The world demands its guarantee up front. Both sides of my brain backstage, muted. There will be no encore.
George Stein Photography
Both Sides Now Saeed Ordoubadi Like many photographers, Saeed Ordoubadi’s first experiences with a camera came early in life. For him, it was in the form of a Kodak box camera that he received as a New Years gift when he was in grade school. He dabbled with film throughout his youth, but his creative side lay dormant while he pursued a long career in economics and teaching. Ordoubadi pursued photography after retirement eleven years ago and hasn’t looked back. Thanks for talking with me. I have admired your photography for some time, and our panels at FLAR seem to consistently choose your work for publication. How has returning to photography later in life made a difference in the way you plan and photograph your subjects? The difference is that in each step you are incorporating all your life experiences--consciously or unconsciously. Also, new endeavors, like learning to pain, have brought more understanding and synergy in my photography. My wife, Heidi, and I both decided to take some classes after I retired. But my background was totally different. My B.A. was in economics and business administration, and then I studied economics and econometrics, and later environmental sciences. All my professional work has been as an economist and statistician. There are many writers and artists who have had other jobs than what they are known for in the art and literature world – poets who were doctors and artists who were teachers. I actually think it’s less common for people to be known as an artist in their own lifetime. Yes, I’ve found it difficult to label myself as an artist because my identity has always been tied to my professional life. I have had three solo exhibitions, the first in 2013 in the Member Gallery of FCCA titled Faces of Beauty. It was a mixture of faces of people, of nature, and the faces of things, too. Getting that first show was quite exciting because I had to apply and was accepted with my body of work.
You’ve been a practicing artist for about nine years now. What made you pick up the camera again? Experimentation? Or did you really want to learn more about photography? What is it that Jung says? You have to actualize to realize your potential? You have to work on it and find out what it is. Joseph Campbell calls it your “bliss.” Jung tells us to find out what makes you happy, and in order to figure it out he suggested to work on your dreams. Dreams are your unfiltered subconscious calling within you, and they can go back to where you were a child and unspoiled. An unfiltered state? Exactly. He himself realized he really loved playing with rock and stones, so into his 80s he was making sculptures with hammer and stone. I guess that’s what drove me into photography, that exploration of what would make me happy. It was really my work with a group of dream workers and studying Jung that brought me to art and photography. Jung is all about duality and carrying the opposites, the feminine and the masculine together. Through work with the dream group, I realized that the nurturing feminine part of myself wasn’t getting my attention during all those years I was working. Now it wanted to breathe. So, those lessons from Jung and your dreams comes into play when you’re taking photographs? It’s in the back of your mind, maybe. Right. I don’t think about it overtly, but I guess it’s sort of woven inside. Since I have a scientific background, I always felt something was missing. That focus on the left side of my brain… I was also influenced by Sufism and poets like Rumi, Hafiz and Saadi. They are all talking about becoming the whole person and how you can’t be that if you only focus on one side of yourself. I only say this in retrospect after reflecting on decisions I’ve made in life. Did you find it at all difficult to tap into the artistic side of yourself? In fact, it was really easy. I think that’s what I should have been doing all my life. Of course, if I’d done that maybe I wouldn’t have the resources that
Antelope Canyon Saeed Ordoubadi Photography
allowed me to support my family earlier in life and that allows me to do the things I’m doing now. It was not difficult to get into it, because I enjoy photography and painting and drawing, but these are all things I discovered after the fact. I had not done it before, so I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy them. I even thought I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have training in painting or drawing, but after studying it I realize that we all have it, we’re just not tapping into it. It was difficult for me to let go of those detail specific things that go along with the mathematical mind, everything is very exact and specified. For instance, painting loosely is still a challenge for me. It’s what I want to do, but my mathematical mind hasn’t quite let go to allow me to do that. Photography seems to satisfy both sides of my brain. Before I even did painting and photography, I was taking some writing courses in Bethesda, Maryland. I took a course in poetry one of the exercises we were doing was perfect for getting us to lose control. Our teacher would open a book and choose the first seven words of every line. Then he would give us ten minutes to make a poem. It was amazing how many good poems came out of those exercises.
I’ve seen that with myself and my students. When you are given a jumping-off point that is loose enough, like in found poetry, you naturally start making connections that were hidden to you before. They emerge through that open catalyst. Yes. to my surprise, I wrote a few pieces of poetry that I liked. They were also showing my way toward art. I always thought god, I wish I had more training. When you are in your mid-sixties, it’s a good time to explore those things you never did. I feel my painting is not very advanced, and my photography is advancing from year to year. My progress is different in each, but they really help each other a lot. Both of them are about so many common things: light, color, composition. When you are teaching, the reward is immediate. You see if the students get it or if they don’t. The same principle applies to photography. You can see your image immediately, and with a little manipulation digitally, you have a strong image.
Have you ever developed film with chemicals in a dark room? I did learn how to develop film back when I was living in graduate housing when we first came to America, and it was so difficult that it was off-putting. Photography developing supplies and equipment was so expensive then. I purchased a Minolta in the 1970s from Ritz Camera and it was over half of my monthly stipend! At that time, you bought film and had to get your film developed. You never knew if you had any good images until you got the pictures back, which ended up costing a lot to have developed. Things have changed for the better, of course. We recently went to see my grandson and I took 380 pictures in two hours. That ease is both good and bad.
Saeed Ordoubadi Photography
Bad? Right. With such ease, you don’t put enough thought into the images. I try to contain myself, because when you take so many pictures you have to go through them and that becomes time-consuming. That’s become more difficult as I’ve learned more about composition, because I’m not making the simple mistakes I used to make in the first years of practice. At that beginning, I would take 200 pictures and I could easily get rid of 100 in the first review. Now, as I’ve developed, there are more good pictures than before. I wonder if that leads modern amateur photographers to be sloppier with the composition, and thus they end up with a lot of “good” photos, but each with a bit of imperfection that wouldn’t have been there had they taken our time and paid more attention? I guess you could make the analogy with word processing. I used to be much more meticulous with my typing, making sure I didn’t make mistakes. Now you just type and type. Mistakes are easy to fix. As I’ve learned more, there are things that I am thinking when I take photographs. There are times when things don’t change or move so rapidly, like stationary objects, but even then there is changing light and shape that make them change. There are times when there is only one moment when you can take that picture. This is especially true of street photography. Photography is not just about taking good pictures; it’s looking for the meaning in simple moments. It should tell a story. Some people take photographs of flowers with dew drops and light. They are beautiful, but one shouldn’t limit themselves to flowers. I think about what drives people in their art. Something that drives me is recording people. I love to take photos of people. Generally, I am awkward in approaching them because it will be posed and I am going for a natural image. Most of the time, if I take someone’s picture without permission I go back afterward and show them the photo. Also, I am very concerned about taking pictures of small children due to protecting their autonomy. In Cuba, I was with a group from the New York Jung Society to study mythology. I did not see homeless people, but I passed this man and thought now he has a story that I don’t know. I wanted to take a picture, so I passed about four steps and then turned around and snapped the photo. He heard the shutter sound and looked at me. I went over to show him his picture on the back of my camera. Strangely, he was looking at my picture, then he was looking at me. Back and forth. I wondered if he thought I was trying to show him a photo of myself. My first instinct was that he was mentally ill. He’s holding my camera and I started to get nervous, and then he had a faint smile and said, “OK.” It seemed to me that he was saying, “OK, I looked at you and I looked at my image you captured. You did a good job taking this photo.” It was as if he recognized that the photo I took had a little bit of him and a little bit of me. Every piece of art carries a part of the person who creates it. I thought that this guy was so deep that he was looking to see whether I look the same as what he would expect from the artists who would take that photo. 96
Alone in the Crowd Saeed Ordoubadi Photography
The Other Is Also In You Saeed Ordoubadi Mixed Media
And does it matter, when what you took away from your experience with him was this deeper meaning? Even if it was not his intention, you walked away with a deeper understanding of what art means. In a good picture that really captures an audience, there should be something deeper; otherwise it would be very shallow. Very lovely, perhaps; I’m not disregarding those. People find joy in those. But in a photo like this one is there something going on. A vagueness. A mystery. It makes us wonder. These are the images that are good to use to inspire writing. They allow us to take that further step into imagination. Maybe that’s where art and literature cross a common boundary. Also, it brings out the audience’s subconscious thoughts. I look at these things as deeper than a picture. This can also be accomplished by working on the photograph after the fact. I know you love to travel. You have a large body of work from Cuba, and you also have a series from your recent trip to Iran after many years of being away. It sound like you viewed Havana with the eyes of a traveler. Did you find yourself approaching photography in Iran differently since you have a childhood history there? Was your focus different? In Iran, there was a sense of nostalgia. The first time I left, I was gone for 18 years before returning. This time, it was 14 years. I visited my two brothers, but then I took off against their advice. They wanted to come with me, but I said no. I took buses and visited Isfahan, a large city in the center of the country, and Yazd, which is close to the desert. Isfahan was totally different, but the changes were not so much in the city; it was me who had changed. There was a sense of nostalgia there and a sense of trying to figure something out that I hadn’t thought about before. I noticed that some places, especially in Shiraz, they are destroying the old buildings and architecture. In contrast, in the very old city of Yazd they have kept the old quarter exactly the same as it was. Any changes have to conform to historical standards. So, you have this interest in what is new, but also an interest in keeping the old. Interestingly, I had some sense of nostalgia when I visited Havana as well. When I was growing up in Iran in the 1960s, we had this big German radio that would pick up the BBC. There was censorship in Iran, but we got news of different places via this radio. At that time, they were chasing Che Guevara in Bolivia. It was after the Cuban Revolution and they caught him alive and killed him. I was reading Che Guevara at the time, and to hear that they killed him had such an impact on me at the time.
When I returned to Cuba in 2014, Castro was still alive. Everywhere you went you saw Che looking at you. Some people even called him Saint Che. Memories from your past converged in these places. I wonder if we’re always chasing nostalgia when we create things. Perhaps. In both places, I took many photos of people in public talking with one another. They make you want to know what these people are talking about. In Iran, I also focused my attention to the details that told a history. I saw houses that are exactly like my grandfather’s, with glass and mosaic everywhere, particularly in the old mosques. Some of those were being preserved. It’s interesting that I had not really “seen” it before. I mean, I had seen it a hundred times before. My grandfather would take me there, but it wasn’t until this visit that I really saw it through a lens of nostalgia. You’ve mentioned the artistry, but you’ve also talked about poetry. Both must be very important to the culture of Iran.
Oh, yes. They are.
Yet they were censored at different times. Yes, especially things that are nationalistic, because they want to put Islam over that Iranian type of nationalism. People react very strongly against it. They even have very elaborate New Years ceremonies as a sort of reaction to religious imposition. It seems like that influence of artistry has stayed with you, even through your years in mathematics and economics. How do you see it evolving now that you’ve been at it a while? I find myself drawn to types of nature - human nature, inner nature, the natural world. I also take the raw image and work with it. For instance, I’ve got some photographs of Antelope Canyon. When you go inside this canyon, you don’t see the color that you see in the photograph, but it’s there. If I were to shine a flashlight on it, you wold see it. That’s the artistry part. I try to bring out what is not seen there. It’s not artificial, you just don’t see it. I do that kind of work on the photographs. I am not trying to be a photo journalist;I am a photo artist. I feel comfortable doing what I want with the photos. I will create things that do not exist at times. I will combine images – a foreground with a background using Lightroom. As an artist, I can move the mountains, so to speak! I’ve taken two images and superimposed one onto the other. My favorite is showing the male and female - a nod to Jung. The male is the whirling dervish, and this email is a painting of a model. Jung has 99
this quote saying “the other is also in you” – anima and animus. So, this is my rendering of what Jung is saying. Once I was done, I realized it worked best a monochromatic image. What equipment do you prefer when creating your artistic images? I use a Cannon 5D because it’s a full frame camera that gives you the ability to manipulate images drastically when you need something with good resolution. If it was a small camera, I couldn’t blow it up as much. You can manipulate the photos more when you shoot raw, because you are capturing all the information that is there and can bring that out. Jpg files are processed by the camera and it gets rid of lots of information. When you shoot raw it’s a huge file, but it takes in all the available information. You can develop it and change the lighting. I own a number of lenses for the 5D, my favorite being my EF 24-70 lens. When I went to Cuba, I took only one lens - a 24-105. As long as you are shooting raw, it doesn’t really matter which kind of camera you are using. I’ve even taken great shots
V - Nixie
What’s on the horizon for you? On advice of Joe DiBella, a well-known art teacher and retired faculty member from UMW, I am working toward elevating the level of my photography. Joe critiques work at FCCA from time to time, and he said I have established myself as a photographer; now I need to come up with some conceptual work using photography that goes beyond single images. he has encouraged me to work on pieces like this woman seated with Buddha in mediation. It’s a combination of two images to reveal a meaning or concept. I’m also working on a series focusing on the theme of unity using some of the nudes and desert imagery. I hope to have those finished for 2018. Thank you for talking with me, Saeed. Your story is fascinating and one that I think will resonate with many people who come to art after a life of fulfilling responsibilities, whether necessary or perceived. My pleasure. Thank you.
Saeed Ordoubadi Photography
Man Imagines : Profile Richard Vyse Illustration
Two by Robert Scott
The Runner’s Cloudburst Read me a story, "The Beginner’s Guide to Cross Country Running." Yeah, but first show me your heart. It’s gotta have Love scrawled on it, Laugh carved in it, Desire and Determination in a pistols-at-dawn Disagreement over who gets the lower bunk, the last piece of wheat toast, and Passion elbowing Complacency until her ribs crack and she walks off alone, dejected. It should have “Ask Me Anything” splashed about like travel stickers on a steamer trunk alongside photos of Dawn and Twilight in their finest, worn corners carefully affixed with torn bits of masking tape. I wanna see Nature tattooed on atria in youthful fonts, and enough Red Wine spilled over ventricles to inspire Jesus to commit desultory, capricious miracles at a tent revival hootenanny for the righteous; while Hope, Spirit, Purity, and Contentment take turns spray painting their name in bawdy capital letters over smooth muscle for lawyers, lovers, losers, lazy liars, broken brokers, bullies, bullshitters, and bastards to read as you glide by, oblivious, wrinkle-free, breathing peace, ocean breeze and exhaling three degrees of loss, loneliness and fear. Sounds like a good story. Then we’ll run.
For Ever Pundits and lawyers, priests and film makers prattle on about for ever, a Lego construct, plastic and peopled with paper protagonists, translucent plot lines, offensive similes, imagery that makes a wet, whacking splash when dropped summarily into a trash bin. You wanna talk about for ever? For ever is watching you brush your teeth in honest cotton underpants and one of my twenty-year-old turkey Trot t-shirts, that almost imperceptible swivel in your ass as you dig deep – leaning – scrubbing bicuspids clean before kissing me goodnight. Every time I text you “somewhere,” my phone sends “Stonehenge.” You’d think engineers at Samsung would realize that 20 million of us can’t possibly be referencing pointless, pagan architecture. We sit up in bed rolling coins for a summer vacation, imagining exotic entrées we’ll select for $52 in nickels, while muted Fox News falsifies facts and marginalizes masses on your dresser beside a green hair dryer and a dog-eared collection of John Irving stories. Amused, you spill a copper river of pennies across a naked thigh that would have left Old Abe stuttering senseless platitudes. Again today, for ever.
~ Robert Scott 104
Symphony in Grey Bette Ridgeway Acrylic on canvas
Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge Jim Williams
Sharing (Cedar Waxwings) Breakfast (Great Blue Heron) First Time in the Water (Canada Gosling)
Winifred Palestone Encounters Glamour Helen Grochmal
A vintage yellow Rolls-Royce streaked across the parking lot of a nursing home where only a few pairs of dimming eyes saw its powerful magnificence. It left the same way, without stopping, just slowing down enough for the spectators to see that the driver was a virile older man perfectly suited to his car. “What was that?” was all that the aging people could say. They talked about it like they would have a meteor that was soon forgotten as people dealt with everyday problems like illness, especially illness, in a place where the average age was 84. Winifred Palestone settled down for her evening meal, happy that she had chosen the far corner of the large rectangle that contained the hundred or so cottages surrounding the Home at the center. Quiet and control of her premises were what Winifred had cherished most in her life, although she had had to give up some control when she exchanged her big home for retirement living when her husband had died. They had been childless. She enjoyed the quiet of her 1970s style patio, although she got the sunrises while people on the opposite side got the sunsets, but she knew by this stage in her life that she couldn’t have it all, and what she had she would soon lose. No one ever noticed the sunsets or the sunrises either when they were finally moved because of incapacity into the innards of the Home. She was satisfied that the rest of her life would be colorless and peaceful. She really was. Suddenly, Winifred heard a continual knocking that disturbed her temporary well-being. The noise could only mean they were preparing the place next to her for a new tenant. Winifred walked to the cottage under preparation, getting the attention of the worker. So I am to have a new neighbor?” she asked after her greeting. “Yeh,” the figure in white overalls answered. “A man’s gonna move in. I have to get back to work to finish by tomorrow.” Leaving in disappointment at learning she was to have a male neighbor, she worried for two days as furniture was moved in and arranged. Men could be a problem. There had been the time when she had been harassed by that dreary man who had tried to entice her over for fun of a sort sacred only in marriage. Other men needed constant attention and occasional domestic help. They sat in one’s parlor to tell their war stories or about how much they missed their dead wives while they expected you to hem their new pants. But Winifred knew she would be firm and would resist having her life taken over. Winifred had been resisting having people close to her since her husband had died, and even before that, if truth be told.
After three days of being upset at the change coming in her life, Winifred ventured over to see her familiar acquaintances who had invited her to meet them in the coffee shop at the center of their community. “Have you seen him? They say he is the same man who had that yellow sports car,” remarked Alice Fairwater eagerly. “His furniture is definitely designer or made to order,” commented Mona Gerald as if reading from a checklist of what constituted desirable neighbors. “Old Mrs. Plankett says she doesn’t think he is real- a real gentleman that is. Tell us what you know about him, Winifred,” said Rachel Stewart, who was the closest Winifred had to a friend there. “I have seen the moving truck but not the resident. I am not one of those gawkers and gossips, you know.” The others looked back at her with resentment. “One of the staff saw him. She said he was a mix exactly between Redford and Errol Flynn, except older. His clothes were gorgeous,” commented Mona. Winifred started to notice a certain look in at least one of the women’s eyes. The group broke up for exercise after which Winifred went home to shower and be presentable in proper day attire as prescribed by her formal upbringing. She was never comfortable in her comfortable clothes. She was on her way to her cottage, making it to her front door only to be addressed by her new neighbor. At first he took her breath away, his clothes were actually pressed, a casual jacket, nautical slacks and a pink linen shirt with a jaunty scarf. His hair was combed, his stride was confident, his look direct. “Hello, I am Adam Goldby. Are you my neighbor? Sorry for any noise moving in, can’t be helped, I’m afraid.” His voice was that of an actor playing an older leading man. She felt self-conscious in her slightly sweaty working out clothes. “How do you do, Mr. Goldby. I am Mrs. Winifred Palestone. If there is anything you need, I would be glad to assist you if I can.” A call of “Mr. Goldby” came from inside. “Coming, Old Sport! Excuse me, I have to go.” Winifred entered her house stunned. Where had such a man come from? No one was
like that in their community. They were ordinary people, especially the men with their wrinkles and paunches, ordinary, if slightly financially better off, people. This new one would be trouble, she just knew it. He might be a confidence man looking to prey on the widows here or worse. All of the susceptible women would be after him too just like some men went after a particularly attractive woman. She would have no peace at all. She sat down to hold her head in her hands. “Dear Lord, please make him go away, please make him go away…” Her phone rang and rang. “Have you seen him? I heard he is so handsome. Does he have a girlfriend?” They probed to see if Winifred was a threat, since she had the unfair advantage of proximity. She ran into Mr. Goldby several times over the next few weeks noticing, with anger at herself, that she took special care to look dressed as if for Church and pressed. She heard his knocker being used over and over by women carrying cakes and covered dishes. The knocking became less and less frequent as Mr. Goldby obviously rejected those women unselfishly offering their comfort to a poor man alone. “I wonder if it is because Winnie stole him away. She is the only one who could have done it without our knowing,” said Alice bitterly on no evidence whatsoever. “She denies it,” said Winifred’s friend, Rachel, coming to her defense. “That proves it,” responded Alice self-righteously. Eventually talk died down since Adam didn’t seem to be giving any lady there a tumble. The frugal men among them wondered what he needed with a flashy yellow car if he wasn’t looking for women. The thought comforted some women that he might be gay so he was not rejecting them after all. But consolation was not to be had at such a cheap price. It was Mona who discovered the ad in a local newsletter: “Wanted: A college undergraduate to teach needy student. Pay is negotiable.” The phone number was the same as Mr. Goldby’s. One can say it was a fairly popular number in the community. Four women met at lunch to discuss the ad and to decide on the correct action to take. “We can’t let him get away with this kind of behavior here. So he wants a college cutie. 109
Who does he think he is, Robert Redford?” Alice complained sarcastically. “Now I am sure that nice Mr. Redford would never do such a thing and not on our respectable grounds,” said Rachel. “It doesn’t sound like Adam would want to use the ground anyway. I saw his big comfortable bed when I was there, uh,” Mona stopped in embarrassment. “He was just showing me around when I gave him a welcome cake.” “We will have to call a residents’ meeting about him and then inform Management,” said Alice. “I guess I’ll have to tell the Reverend,” Rachel thought out loud. “Should we inform the police?” asked Mona. “I don’t see why. College girls are over 18,” Winifred quickly answered, in distress for her new neighbor. “It’s prostitution, that’s illegal here, isn’t it? One doesn’t know these days. They smoke marijuana at their big concerts and aren’t arrested! Judgment Day must be coming soon,” moaned Alice, who had suddenly become the community’s moral compass. Before they could get into singing “Nearer My God to Thee” the unthinkable happened. Wearing his dashing clothing and smiling with his perfect teeth, his own you could see, Adam Goldby asked gallantly if he could sit with them at their table. They pointed to the fifth chair as if they were puppets. Rachel sniffed, Mona looked like she wished she could make another play for the man, and Alice became possessed by an interrogator from the Spanish Inquisition. “Were you ever married, Mr. Goldby?” Alice asked. “Call me Adam.” “Well?” “Once. My wife died young.” “Of what?” “Childbirth, those were more primitive days…” Alice pounced. “Someone who knows Management said you were never married according to their records.” Adam looked confused for a minute. “That is true. I say that so people won’t ask me questions about my personal life. I haven’t been the same since my first love went back to her husband. People who didn’t know her would never understand why I couldn’t get over her as hard as I tried.” 110
“What do you do every day, Mr. Goldby?” snapped Alice. This time he looked like a recalcitrant child who would refuse to answer. After a long pause, Winifred said quickly, “Do you need anything for your bedroom?....I, I mean cottage.” They all looked at Winifred as if she had suddenly declared herself a nymphomaniac. She could have died, wondering why she had said such a thing. She must be insane. She wanted to go home and hide forever. “No, thank you,” he answered with wary nonchalance. Without any of the control she prided herself on, Winifred broke out in tears. “I just don’t know what is wrong with me. I just don’t know.” Alice ignored her and continued with the inquisition. “Are you seeing someone now, Mr. Goldby?” “What? I must leave. I have an appointment with a yacht,” declared Adam as he quickly left the table. Winifred herself got up and ran out of the place to her home where she locked her door and planned on moving. She hid out but watched as young girl after young girl came to Mr. Goldby’s front door day after day and even night after night. She knew she must forget about herself and save those girls, it was her Christian duty. She finally made herself call Management. She asked to speak only with the Director. She made an appointment for the next morning. Winifred looked terrified as she faced the Director. “I have come to say that Mr. Goldby has been receiving young women in his apartment day and night.” “That is enough!” said the Director in her angry Principal voice. “I advise not talking gossip like this to the other residents.” Winifred left. She made it almost as far as her door before bursting out in tears, not knowing if they were of shame at her betrayal or of relief at finally speaking out against a possible crime. She couldn’t imagine they could be for something else. Just then, Adam Goldby opened his door to let out a young and very pretty débutante carrying books. Being polite, he stopped to introduce the young woman as Miss Jasmine Walker. That young person was just out of earshot as the gallant Mr. Goldby asked with the greatest of charm, “Well, Winifred, would you like to take a ride in my car?”
The Scalding of the Sun CatBoneFace Oil
Alive Alive is a series of photographic works from a performance which has taken place at different public venues. In this performance I skip, run, walk and talk to the audience in a patient gown and IV pole. Most of the time the audience portrays me as "insane." Oddly, people in Mental Health Units use pills and not IV drugs. The work exposes the stigmas and prejudices people have against people with invisible health conditions. This performance originates from when I no longer needed assistive devices to walk from an experimental bone marrow transplant for multiple sclerosis. The work allows the audience to become personal voyeurs entering my private medical world revealing I have invisible health conditions. Most people with invisible health conditions (45% of the population has a health condition and 80% have an invisible one) live in fear of revealing who they are because they could lose their job, friends and family may shun them, and they will be seen as undesirable. The medical community and law enforcement attempt to exert control over my body, with hospitalizations and selling me on treatments "helping" and "normalizing" my body. People see, they don't hear. My incarceration wasn't in the walls of a prison, but instead it was within my body, mind and medical institutions and their treatments. Fifty percent of police brutality is on people with disABILITIES. Sadly this statistic is less publicized and less known. In this series you can clearly see the abuse I've faced when going in a patient gown on the streets. Legally a person is allowed to refuse medical treatment. So why are people with disABILITIES perceived this way?
~ Rosary Solimanto 113
The Mean in Me-ness The realization materialized artlessly in my head around the age of five or six. An idea about identity: I am me. Rephrased in adult terms, I am the only one to know the me-ness that one day appeared in the world and will one day leave awareness behind. The impact of identity struck me forcefully and often back then, but it’s difficult to summon now the emotional punch it carried. Today, an awareness of me-ness persists but with less awe, perhaps reflecting adulthood. Now other matters trigger a jolt. What, exactly, is the self within oneself as the only entity in the universe to comprehend the sensations, perceptions, and experiences of what it is like to be an individual? A fancy term for the elusive characterization of internal and external knowledge—or justifiable and evidence-based knowing— is epistemology, but that’s too broad. Many have described it, the experience of personal identity and self-awareness: Descartes, Locke, Wittgenstein among others. Some neuroscientists would say the experience is universal because humans have a brain able to contemplate itself, though the extent to which anyone other than philosopher–scientists ponder such matters varies from limited to intermittent. During childhood, grownups described me as cheerful and loud-mouthed, but something changed one morning in the sixth grade when I took the floor to read aloud an assignment. For no obvious reason, I was overcome with physical sensations including shaky hands, dry mouth, thumping heart, and a dread that every eye could penetrate the private physical and emotional aspects of my being. Contemporary psychologists identify the reaction as performance anxiety, and a prescription pill called Propranolol provides effective treatment these days. I shot up in height and went all lanky, developed acne, wrestled with self-consciousness from head to toe as many teenagers do. In short, I matured from cute kid to geek whose self-consciousness played a markedly different role than self-discovery. I liked school, would rather face a blackboard than kick a ball around a field. I entered a private university and joined the same fraternity as my three-year-older brother. Why did those robust and 114
all-round American guys pledge me? I was not a “face man.” I did not play sports let alone captain athletic teams. I was not socially adept. Short answer: they pledged me because of my brother. Fraternity life on a private campus with Methodist roots was different then from what it is now. No drinking anywhere on university property. Sex-segregated dorms with prim ladies at front desks ensuring chastity within. No drugs. No women’s groups or gay organizations. No smart phones or laptops or social media. And—oh by the way, I was to discover—no blacks accepted into my fraternity. After my sophomore year, I moved out of the frat house not just because of the hazing. Not just because I am gay and don’t play team sports and our Greek headquarters enforced by charter racial discrimination, but for all those reasons plus a hankering for independence rather than confrontation. I wondered if it was the right thing to do. New liaisons confirmed it was. Today, I wonder why certain people find their nervous system borders by imagining trespass and confrontation, by seeing themselves as victims. For example, some of my relatives wear aggressive—dare I suggest, combative—sweatshirts plastered with images of handguns and slogans boasting, “I majored in Triggernometry, so don’t tempt me.” Why do several of them mount campaigns on social media exclaiming, “You threaten my kid, I’ll cut you!” in the absence of threats from anyone? Why are some eager to embrace Confederate flags and related iconography? Having recently read a nonfiction piece in a first-rate publication (think The Atlantic or similar), I asked a couple of relatives from the farright side of the political tracks to react to the essay’s principal contention. The article proposed, in essence, that a huge issue driving conservative thought has to do with an aversion to cheaters. My question was, where on the scale of political importance would the relatives rank, as a problem, people who take advantage of the system? Responses came full-throated, a gradual rising of voices uniting feral testimonials into a barrage of explosive revulsion. I recall the frustration when pushy kids would cheat in the lunch line at school. We called it
“sponging” back then, or cutting line. The behavior was annoying, but would it be possible to reinforce the suggestion that we as adults, and the nation as a whole, have far greater problems than cheaters (i.e., takers) angling for an advantage? Racial and ethnic discrimination for example. Collapsing infrastructures. Terrestrial and oceanic pollution. Social injustice and the possibility of comprehending our own nature—our me-ness—more fully. I decided to stick to the economic point by suggesting corporate greed and tax evasion might represent greater abuses than moms who misuse welfare stamps to bring home soda. Or cigs or booze for that matter. “I think your concern is the U.S. spends about $70 billion annually on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which used to be called food stamps?” “Yes, Appalling!” “Did you know the fossil fuel sector alone gets about $20 billion per year in Federal subsidies? The agricultural sector gets another $25 billion ….” “Lies.” I cite more numbers about colossal losses in Federal revenue courtesy of tax credits for our wealthiest tax-evading citizens and subsidized corporations, amounting to more than $1.3 trillion in tax breaks or roughly 20 times more money than food handouts. I remind family members of the relatively piddly drain on the U.S. Treasury that would accrue from all welfare cheaters, even if they cheated heartily. Such arguments garnered denial. “No, that isn’t true. None of it.” Statistics is a strange bird. Mathematics, it’s often said, comes as close as humans are able, to the truth, or if not Truth then permanence and validity. Yet statisticians themselves admit numbers can be manipulated to support—or appear to support—almost any thesis. Of late I am convinced that somewhere around 40% of the United States population will believe anything. From recent voter outcomes, perhaps the number varies between 30% and 50%, but the point is about gullibility. Did Richard Gere require an emergency gerbilectomy to unclog his butt? Did Hillary Clinton pimp for a child-sex ring operating out of a pizza joint sponsoring satanic rituals? There is nothing—absolutely nothing—people
Robert D. Kirvel
won’t believe. Crystals’ll disappear you your anxiety, and dinosaurs helped people build them big pyramids over there. Auras and angels hover in the neighborhood of our corporeal essence, and Mexico has a drug that cures cancer. A free press is the enemy of the people, and protesters are thugs or paid socialist agitators. Michele Obama is a man, and political correctness is out to destroy Christmas. When reality morphs into an enemy and science is scorned, then myths, claptrap, and bunk become truth, and it shocks me. Why does it shock me? Take the old trick of the pot calling the kettle black. In politics especially, accuse one’s opponent of your own misdeeds, and people will believe the accusation. The tactic is called projection and features redirection of attention. Incorporate only information that reinforces one’s preconceived beliefs and reject information that contradicts those beliefs. It’s called confirmation or “my-side bias” and is related to the idea of cognitive consonance. It feels good and reassuring to have one’s personal opinions confirmed. It rankles to ponder alternatives. There is apparently no dopamine or oxytocin high—or substitute here any other flavor of favored neurotransmitter—in second guessing oneself. Why as a child did I find animal torture aversive while a neighbor kid got a kick out of ripping the legs off frogs and stabbing them through the head with a stick? Was I born with a sense of compassion? The me-ness inside has an answer. Yes. I was. Was the cruel kid born with a penchant for cruelty? Drawing from nature–nurture tenets, I have to believe in the potency of both genetics and environment. Nothing is simple, and people can change. People can acquire an appreciation for critical thinking. Yes? In an era when global information is instantly available on a smart phone, records on rising carbon-dioxide load in the atmosphere are right there for the viewing. Yet half the population believes the data are untrue or that humans are not responsible for the numbers. Here’s a theory. Among the powerful forces shaping American society today, two are prime: a single emotion and one ultimate commodity. The emotion is fear (read, adrenaline), and the commod115
ity is money (the currency of paranoia). Not the garden variety of fear of public speaking, but fear leading to anger and hatred as white majorities fade into minorities, or terror about being attacked on the street or at home in bed. And not a reasonable and healthy concern with balancing the household budget, but a consuming panic about sinister forces robbing us blind and taking every dollar we have earned. For victimhood and powerlessness, there is no magic bullet, no pill, but there are guns and plenty of monsters at which to aim. I am no saint, but sometime during childhood my fixation on me-ness migrated to the comfort of a pet Cocker Spaniel. It broadened to consider the welfare of parents and grandparents. To the struggles of folks living without access to sufficient food or clean water. Somewhere down the road, I developed an uneasy feeling that self-centeredness can get stuck in people. More than stuck: self-interest can intensify and override other motives. If we asked an individual consumed with fear and hatred, or obsessed with dollars, to work through the implications of solidified self-interest, would the foundation for it break down? My brother, who lives in the heart of self-fertilizing Rustbelt resentments, is convinced his neighbors’ ironclad opinions cannot be changed, no matter the validity of arguments counter to convictions. I argue the opposite in our brotherly conversations, but sometimes find it difficult to sustain enthusiasm because history has something to say about people who embrace elements within an imaginary, closed sphere and distrust what is foreign to it. In today’s lingo, the monsters are fingered as cheaters or freeloaders, foreigners or illegals or refugees, the homeless and crazy liberal elites who indulge them. History, with its inevitable dips and hummocks, offers an uneven impression of progress when it comes to accepting the other-minded. Besides, life is boring with Wal-Mart as a destination, so why not crank up emotion by conjuring enemies who pay with stamps or speak with foreign accents? Yet I try to see the landscape through Heartland eyes. Good people anywhere can think right things or wrong things, even stupid things, but strong feelings and absolutism do not imply deep understanding on anyone’s part. Good people are entitled to believe other people should stand on their own two feet and work rather than take handouts. It feels right to think such things, and if not exhaustive in implications, then not entirely wrong. 116
Heartlanders have a point, and if I have a different opinion, can we transcend partisanship? Times are complicated, conclusions seem hazardous, and highly irregular runs the trajectory of human compassion. Space, time, and biology are vast; still, too often we only see the speck that is the me in a polymorphous world. Will and Ariel Durant in The Lessons of History (p. 31, 1961) offer a conclusion about racial antagonisms, but it applies more generally. “There is no cure for … antipathies except for a broadened education.” Those who credit education in the form of learning and critical thinking are likely to agree, but everyone does not cherish scholarly values, so is there a route to daylight? If the only genuine emancipation from hatred and ignorance is individual, then a driver for personal change might also need to incorporate individual connectivity. Real, human connection through life-long learning—understanding another’s perspective without the prerequisite of total agreement—can be sparked through a friend or relative who is gay, a daughter or granddaughter seeking abortion after an attack, a neighbor on welfare following illness, or a host of other circumstances. Failing education and emotional connectivity, 24-hour hate media fill the void by indoctrinating interpersonal, regional, and national bias entirely counter to appreciating the possibilities inherent in human diversity. Seeing beyond ourselves through another’s reality can help buffer animus. All the not-me’s of the world need not mirror me in outlook; however, raising the bar a notch by elevating what might be called the empathy average—or mean in compassionate me-ness—would be a welcome start. Along the countless paths to self-identity, mine happened to arise spontaneously at an early age, likely through an awakening unease that I was different from the norm. Others might develop a sense of self through ordinary experience, book learning, exposure to diversity, or self-imposed conversion. Even for those who acquire a concept of me-ness late in life, or only vaguely, or in a negative way out of displeasure or shame with who they are, or through hatred of perceived enemies, there remains a positive possibility. If living has anything to do with gaining and losing wisdom, it is also a process in which anyone, everyone, can renegotiate the me within. For better or worse—even if assembled on a substrate of granite—me’s are formed and reformed.
Rebecca Thomas "I write to make a lifetime of experiences orderly."
The Heart of the
Rebecca Thomas has roots in Fredericksburg as co-owner of Kybecca, a fine dining restaurant and bar off William Street downtown, but in recent years she has been cultivating her skills as a writer and lifestyle documentarian in a separate life in Richmond, Virginia. She currently curates a weekly digest delivered by email called True Tales of the Silver Fox, which she writes, produces and reads. Thomas calls herself an open book. She found that writing was the just catharsis she needed following her first real heartbreak at 44, and then two bouts with cancer, the latter of which she movingly writes about in recent digests. Though her focus on writing, and photography by extension, has transpired within the last ten years, Thomas says she’s always been a verbal communicator. She is outgoing, a little audacious, and certainly bawdy, and since her move from Fredericksburg to the larger city of Richmond, Thomas has felt unburdened from expectations. She explains, “There are a lot of ways that society puts controls on people, and people place controls on themselves. I think I felt the pressure of that and the pressure of being a business owner in Fredericksburg, but Richmond offers a buffer between my personal life and my business life.” When she started writing True Tales of the Silver Fox, Rebecca sought a platform to create her own audience. While she likes social media, Thomas has experienced inherent problems with it over the years, including censorship, a lack of proprietary control, and a detriment to productivity. The digest's subscription model has given her the means to build her audience. Her process centers on walking around Richmond, during which things come together for her. Ideas percolate. Thomas says, “Something comes to me and won’t let me go. If I find that two or three ideas about a topic coalesce, then I’ll sit down and write about it.” Thomas is strict with her writing schedule, completing 1000 words each morning on at lease five days of the week. She notes that she does more editing than writing, because her goal is to create a natural flow that feels like a conversation between herself and her audience. Thomas describes the hallmark of her writing as having an intensely personal tone through which she hopes to dialogue with readers. “I put myself out there in these digests, saying , ‘This is my experience of being a woman and here’s what I think about it.’ The writing speaks to my inner dialogue, and I’m inviting people into that conversation. Hopefully, I’m illuminating some part of it for my readers.” True to form, Thomas says she only knows life through her own journey, with all its shared difficulties and opportunities. She adds, “These are the only things I can write about with clarity and honesty. I hope by reading my story, my readers will be able to clarify their own. If I am able to talk about the experiences I’ve had and can connect the dots of the things that are seemingly difficult in my life, maybe my audience will make sense of their own lives, including the difficulties they face.” Thomas’s primary concern in her writing is not agreement, rather she seeks authenticity and connection. She says, “I almost feel that I have nothing left to lose anymore. It’s not to say that I have lost everything. I’ve let go of prestige, of looking for career success. I think the pressing work is connecting with ourselves and connecting with others, and I just don’t see how anything is more important than that. In all of this, I am trying to get to the heart of the matter and say something honest. You may like it or not, but what I suspect is that it won’t resonate with people until I’ve mined the deepest portion of myself. I try hard to put that front and center for my audience.”
You can subscribe to True Tales of the Silver Fox at www.getrevue.co/profile/rebeccathomas.
"Always on the Sunny Side," from True Tales of the Silver
A few weeks ago a well-intentioned reader sent me
It’s relying on your elderly father, hoping you
an article from The Guardian about Victoria Derbyshire,
outlive him, and wondering who might help you once he
a reporter with the BBC, and her breast cancer treatment
is gone. It’s meeting a man you like and having to tell him
story. I immediately recoiled at the image of the veteran
about your uncertain health picture, then worrying about
reporter holding up two signs, post-surgery:
getting undressed with all the scars.
Pale, then suddenly smiling, she held up two pieces
of card. On one, she had written:
I don’t have any signs for what I feel, even the
good. It’s vast and variable. Moments of joy quickly turn to hot tears. There is no good news without the reminder
“THIS MORNING I HAD BREAST CANCER.”
that it could be short-lived.
Then she showed us the second:
“THIS EVENING I DON’T!”
Grief is the price we pay for love.
~ Queen Elizabeth II
My first reaction was that this woman didn’t prop-
erly understand her diagnosis if she thought a mastectomy
permanently rid her of cancer. The more visceral response
to grief. Things lost, never to be found again. Pieces of
was one of disconnection. Ms. Derbyshire displayed a man-
you removed, and then again, and maybe more. Teaching
ic cheerfulness I have yet to feel. The article describes her
yourself to accept you may run out of time before find-
as ‘plucky’, and self-possessed’. Her documentation of sur-
ing a loving partnership, and never knowing how to make
gery, chemotherapy, and radiation spawned a book called,
that feel okay. Being so sorry you have to keep telling your
‘Dear Cancer, Love Victoria’.
family difficult news.
I don’t know that version of breast cancer.
The breast cancer that I know is weeping on the
What is one to do with untouchable sadness?
I know the version of breast cancer that is closer
I understand why grief repels, even in ourselves.
phone to your brother because you don’t want to lose your
People want you to unshackle yourself from grief.
breast. It’s slinking out of bed and landing on all fours be-
Soothe them with your rejection of sadness. The best I
cause radiation has fatigued you, but there are twelve more
have learned to do is to set mine aside for a time, put my
sessions to go, and you can’t miss a single one. It’s wonder-
face in the sun.
ing if your life matters, and to whom? And what, exactly,
has all this amounted to?
take it home at the end of the night, but I can mingle and
Grief is a package placed by the door. I have to
chat at the party unencumbered.
Pieces of you removed, and then again, and maybe more.
Ms. Derbyshire has a life very different from
mine. A loving husband to assure her the removal of a
It’s wishing your mom could come take care of you,
breast won’t change his feelings, children to attend to
even though you are in your 40’s and she died over a de-
and make decisions for. That’s the point though, this dis-
cade ago. It’s being afraid before doctor visits but getting
ease is hardly one size fits all.
dressed, being on time, and going home alone to process
the next steps. It’s trying to comfort yourself in the middle
personal, and many of us have complicated relationships
of the night, or even mid-day. It’s wondering about every
with our cancer. It spurs us forward to live our fullest life,
ache and pain. Is this normal, or the end of things?
and wounds us with its consequences.
It’s marveling at the squandered time, all the wrong
Our diagnoses and how we live with them are
I endeavor to cultivate a sober affection for the
turns. It’s a cattle prod to your unfinished business.
future. To be wise, and hold on loosely. To accept the lim-
itations with grace.
It’s people staring so obtrusively at your bald head
you couldn’t shop in peace. It’s being barely able to look in
I want to love my life wildly, and with abandon.
the mirror when your eyelashes and eyebrows fell out. It’s
But, we all know that’s a recipe for heartbreak.
friends who became unavailable, and then disappeared.
Oh to be Burt Daniel Corfield
My best pal Fred Ramirez said he’d help. Fred was fast. He was a long- haired Mexican who didn’t speak a lick of Spanish and wore red Vans and OP shorts and smoked a ton of weed. He was a natural athlete, lean and muscular, smoother than silk the way he carved his Logan Earth Ski across the school parking lot. He would have made a great wide receiver but he much preferred getting high after school as opposed to standing out in the one- hundred degree October heat in heavy football gear like the rest of us. This was good for me, seeing as I was a wide receiver. Between training sessions with Fred I’d watch Deliverance. Even though there wasn’t a single chick in the movie, Burt was at his best. If one of the hillbillies who had come out of the woods had happened to be a woman instead of a homo she would have certainly fallen for him over the rest of those schleps he’d gone canoeing with. He kept saying all these cool, profound things about the end of civilization, while stringing up a cross bow and smoking a cigarillo. He had these thick, muscular arms- which I’d recently developed as well-- and a skinny waist atop two not so long legs. I had a sneaking suspicion that he wasn’t all that fast either. I mean, I’d seen him run in The Longest Yard, and even though the scenes were in slow motion you could tell he was no Jesse Owens. There was another reason coach kept me on the bench. “Patrino! You are not a team player!” he yelled during film session. Then he stood up and pointed out how I had missed a key block. This was the one and only time I’d gotten into some real live action. “I give you one sticking opportunity and this is what you show me?” “What’s that coach?” “That you are not a team player.” “Oh no?” “You know what you are?” He switched off the film and turned on the lights. He wanted everybody to witness this. “What we have here,” he said. He had clearly seen every Paul Newman movie as well as every Burt Reynolds flick. “What we have here is….an individual.”
We all looked at each other, sitting there in our pads, one fat the other skinny, one dumb as hell, the other a slob, the other a freak. We were a rag tag bunch for sure. “We can’t have any individuals on this here team,” he went on. “Individuals cost us games. Now turn them god damn lights back off!” He proceeded to rewind the film and show it again and again, my missed block. There I went, flopping all over myself upon the silver screen. Forward and back, over and over again, he clicked the clicker at the very spot I’d flung myself and whiffed. “Individual,” he kept repeating. “Only an individual could have missed a block like that.”
* Fred stood some forty yards down the field with a stop watch in his hand. This was at the elementary school, when no one else was around. He’d told me to keep my head down and my knees up and my arms by my side. “Ready, set, go,” he hollered. I ran as hard as I could. “Five-five,” Fred said. Coach was right. Death could come upon a fella in much less time than that. “You’re too stiff,” said Fred. “You need to loosen up.” I knew what that meant. He wanted me to stop this nonsense and go and smoke a joint with him. He wanted us to sit in the shade beneath the cafeteria awning and cool our minds and body off. What would Burt do? I wondered. I considered the type of day it was. Very, very hot. I could smell the Eucalyptus sap that spilled out from the trees around the field. It made me dizzy. After two more sprints with Fred I told him I was no longer going to try and run faster but I was going to run better, meaning I’d work on my pass routes. But by no means would I smoke pot. I was still against all that. “Football was like life,” our coach would tell us. “There is a right way and a wrong way. There are winners and there are losers.”
To get chicks you had to be like Burt. It was either be like Burt and get all the chicks or not be like Burt and get nothing. Since I didn’t have chicks I must not be like Burt. So I studied Burt. Burt was a football legend. Everybody knew that. He played one in movies and he was one in real life—Florida State. I’d seen pictures of him. His number, twenty-two. My number? Twenty-two. I was going to be like Burt and get all the girls. Why not? Who better than me to be like Burt? Who better than me to be a football legend and get all the girls? My dad, he was a football legend, or so my mom had said. “Why, he could have gone pro,” she’d told me on more than one occasion. “So why didn’t he? “Because he busted up his knee.” “Dad, is that true?” “No, I was too small.” My Dad was humble, unlike Burt. Burt was cocky. He made you laugh while he kicked you in the balls and slapped you around. My dad wouldn’t kick you in the balls. I wondered if he even had it in him. It worried me sometimes. I didn’t like to think about it. Since I didn’t like to think about it I thought about it often. Like when we went to a ball game together. Instead of watching the action on the field I’d look around at all the drunken loud mouths in the crowd and ask myself if my dad would be able to hold his own if one of them came stumbling over and started up with him for no good reason. Chances were he’d try and talk sense into the moron. Tell them how childish fighting was. Then the no good drunk would beat him to a pulp right in front me. I hated thinking about it.
* I’d gotten my coach to give me jersey number twenty-two. But I needed something else—playing time. “Patrino,” my coach hollered one day at practice. “You’re as slow as death.” “That ball was over-thrown,” I said. “I couldn’t---”
“You know who would have caught it?” “Who?” “Burt.” My coach wanted to be like Burt too. He’d stand on the practice field in a cowboy hat and twirl his thick mustache and make wise cracks at our expense all day long. Then when practice was over he’d jump in his black Trans Am and roar off through the parking lot with Daren Rodgers mom by his side. Daren was our tight end. His mom had huge breasts and a big blonde hairdo atop her head. A real Dolly Parton type. The kind of chick Burt Reynolds would fall for. Daren had been seeing a lot of playing time lately. I needed playing time. I didn’t have to do anything once I got out there. I just had to be out there, beneath those lights. No chick wanted to be with a guy who stood on the sidelines the whole god damn game long. I wasn’t about to offer up my mom though. Not that coach would want her. She had big round breasts but they weren’t the kind that Dolly Parton had. My mom’s boobs were the kind a short chunky Italian woman who spent her days wearing yellow rubber gloves up to her elbows while schlepping around a plastic bucket had. You know the kind. There was only one way I was going to get into the game. I had to run faster. Is it possible to run faster than your legs can actually carry you? I mean, I knew it was possible to lift more weights. You just had to keep adding iron. The more iron you put on the bar the stronger you became. I’d done it myself. But how do you get your legs to move faster than they can already move? It was clear to me that he also believed that a person was either fast or slow and he very well had his mind made up which one I was. What else was I to assume but that in football as in life slow was bad and in football as in life you were stuck with the way you were and there was no getting around it. In other words, routes, who gives a fuck? The hardest part about riding the bench was knowing that your name was on the back and all the girls could see you sitting there like a scrub. Sure, you could stand or move around, pace the sidelines or stretch your legs as if at 122
any moment the coach was going to call your number and throw you out there beneath those lights. But if you did that, I discovered, you might lose the only angle you had left in order to woo a girl. It wasn’t much, but it could work. “The coach just doesn’t like me. He thinks I’m much too much an individual,” I’d tell them. I’d really milk it after that. I’d sit way over on the very far end of the bench. When the play was on the one-yard line, there’d I’d be, way over on the other end, sitting on the bench, alone. “Why is he like that, off by himself?” the girls would ask each other. “He’s an individual, according to his coach” “A rebel,” one would surely say. “Like Steve McQueen.” “Like Cool Hand Luke.” I’d sit and stare beyond lights, feeling their eyes upon me. I’d make them wonder what I saw out there in the dark, something mysterious, something only an individual knew how to see. After the game was over, win or lose, I’d walk with my head down, pretending that the whole damn thing had nothing to do with me. Of course, the ones who scored the touchdowns would get their share of girls, the run of the litter if you will. Followed by those who’d seen a play or two. The rest who stood along those sidelines would up with nothing. Me, the individual, well, there’d always be one for me. All or nothing, just like life, right coach. That was the plan, anyway. At first it didn’t work so hot. When the chicks saw me staring into the dark they thought nothing of it. It will take some time for things to register, I told myself. Game after game, week after week, they’d see me sitting there all by myself, but soon they’d begin to wonder. After every battle, a crowd-- parents, siblings, friends, and girlfriends— would gather outside the locker room and wait for us to shower and then emerge in street clothes. With two games left in the season, I was still being greeted by only Fred. But I heard the whispering. I heard the rumblings. Huddled together, the girls looked, but then quickly turned away. “What’s all that about?” said Fred.
“You’ll see.” The final week, after a game we got demolished 35 to 6, Fred met me outside the locker room as usual, only this time he had his baby sister with him. “Hi Paul,” she said. “Hey.” Then she asked me what was with the sitting off all by myself like that. I smiled. Maria had a great body. Big tits, nice ass. The whole nine yards. I shrugged my shoulders and gave a nod, as if I knew but didn’t know all at the same time. “We’re going to go get wasted,” she said. “Want to come?” “Sure,” I said. That night, partying with Maria, it occurred to me how Burt usually had a girl, one girl, at a time. These days he was seeing Dinah Shore. Looking at Maria, her big brown eyes, her youth, I thought, not bad Paul, not bad at all.
* “Your father was tough,” my mother would often say. “Boy was he tough.” Then she’d get down in this sort of football looking stance and put a grimace on her face. I could imagine him being tough back in those days and every so often I could imagine him being tough in these days too. But mostly I saw him being kind and soft spoken and reasonable. It made me wonder if mom was blowing his football prowess out of proportion a bit. I wondered why she had a need for that. Then I found out why. I was home watching The Phil Donahue Show one afternoon. This was after football season. I had little much else to do. Mom had her bucket and her gloves and all her cleaning products. It was a typical afternoon. Until she stopped and saw who was on the TV screen. Sitting there with Donahue, sitting on a stool upon a stage, a microphone in his hand. Mom stopped what she was doing and wouldn’t look away. How cool he looked up there, Burt.
Modern Words / Goldfinch Excerpt
from Donna Tarttâ€™s The Goldfinch Patrick McFarlin Oil on canvas
I will lift a leg and you will turn a shoulder undoing the dance steps, taking apart the puzzle that we put together now disassembled and disentangled, back to being two separate people memories soon then strangers, as we return irrevocably to being just ourselves again.
~ Michael Costa
At the Road Side Michael Peterson Holga photo
Before You Left You hugged me so tight, all heart and gut, little hands around me. For an instant I worried you knew something I didn’t, like the little girl I read about, at church was so well behaved, told her mama she loved her, before a semi quite unexpectedly crossed the intersection, cracked bones, steel and glass, sent her hurtling toward God. This I worried before you left.
~ Carlos A. DeJuana
COMORBIDITY, THE DANCE After a visit to the oncologist Doctors count the steps one way disease on disease risk on risk heart lung liver gut a matter of addition I measure them otherwise Fly caught in a web bird crushed under a wheel chicken cow lamb pig to the slaughter and you and I and all – all joined in life’s dance of death Fandango on the forest floor pirouette in a cabbage patch foxtrot waltz whatever dancing sunup to sundown cohabitants sharing the light while it lasts
~ Sally Zakariya
Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts Fredericksburgâ€™s Longest Operating Art Gallery Since 1963
The Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts
operates out of the historic Silversmith House on Sophia
Johnson, among others, have supported FCCA for upwards of 40 years.
Street, which was built in 1785. The structure’s age gives
the gallery its quirky appeal, if not a few headaches, both
solo, duo or trio show in the Members' Gallery over the
Member artists may apply each August to have a
literal and figurative. From constant upkeep to maintain-
coming year. Shows are juried and jurors are anonymous.
ing the property to knocking your head on low hanging
Since Jurors review members’ applications each Au-
beams between the Frederick Gallery upstairs to the Mem-
gust and determine the type of exhibit that will fit their
bers’ Gallery below, maintaining the gallery can be quite a
body of work. In the Frederick Gallery, both member and
challenge. It’s worth it to the 200 plus members, both local
non-member artists may submit work to monthly juried
and around the world, who support the nonprofit. FCCA
exhibits. Morgan looks for jurors with great credentials
remains the most venerable gallery in town.
and strong resumes. She says most are from outside the
FCCA houses two galleries: the Frederick Gallery
immediate region, from nearby states, Northern Virginia,
on the main level and the Members’ Gallery on the garden
Richmond and other areas of the Piedmont. Morgan says
level. Carrol Morgan has been a longstanding supporter of
it is her goal to offer intriguing themes in the Frederick
the gallery since first days out of art school. She taught at
gallery throughout the year, and she offers kudos to her
FCCA from 1968 to 1972, after which she embarked on a
exhibition committee volunteers and the excellent pub-
full-time career as a middle school art teacher. After retir-
licity team led by Dawn Whitmore.
ing from education, Morgan returned to FCCA as an active
volunteer, donating her time and expertise to perform her
Morgan notes the changes from handwritten accounting
current role as curator of the Frederick Gallery.
to electronic Excel spreadsheet, which she says leads to a
Since she has the benefit of a long view of FCCA,
At one time in its history, FCCA partnered with the
need for more tech savvy volunteers. Another shift over
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond to share exhib-
the years has been from exhibits featuring only local and
its, resources, teachers and projects. This was back when
regional artists who hand delivered their work, to those
members were selecting the work to be shown in the gal-
featuring member artists and non-member artists from
lery. FCCA later moved to a juried exhibition process where
other states and across the globe, who submit their work
members apply and there is an application fee. Morgan says
online using digital images.
these fees provide the operating budget and steady income
necessary to manage the day to day expenses at FCCA. All
munity, devoting resources and grant money to teach stu-
The board at FCCA works closely with the com-
administrative and leadership positions are volunteer.
dents from Hazel Hill and Heritage Park, providing free
In addition to Morgan, the current Board of Trust-
lessons and supplies. and t-shirts. Other members have
ees is led by President Walter Hamm and Vice President Joe
long been involved with FCCA, contributing time and ex-
DiBella. Lee Owens is the acting treasurer and Carrol Mor-
pertise as teachers and mentors to the children of Freder-
gan curates the Frederick Gallery, while Darlene Wilkinson
icksburg. Cathy Herndon has been teaching classes there
coordinates the Members’ Gallery.
Jurgen Brat handles
for years, while public school art teacher Adrian Loving
grants and fundraising with the help of intern Xaviar Jener-
devotes time during the summer to teach classes to chil-
ette, and Kathy Moran organizes membership. Rounding
dren, and Cathy Smith takes the lead during winter and
out the board are the docent coordinators, Charlotte Burrill
and Laura O’Leary, Art Education Coordinator Sheila Jones,
and FCCA Historian Megan Crockett. Penny Parrish is Co-
through a monthly poetry group led by Ummie Higgins on
ordinator of FCCA Exhibits at the Community Bank of the
the first Saturday of each month.
FCCA also offers a connection to the literary arts
Chesapeake. The FCCA is currently looking for a volunteer
secretary to the Board of Trustees.
apart from other galleries in town in addition to its long-
Membership is crucial to the life of FCCA, as is vol-
Morgan considers a few things that set FCCA
standing narrative within the community and through its
volunteers. She says the quality of the work is excellent
have a number of donation options, ranging from the indi-
and selected from the best. The pieces are chosen by a
vidual level at $30 to the Benefactor level at $1000+. Mor-
practiced eye, and most jurors will try to be inclusive when
gan says members get many perks, such as discount prices
they can. Morgan notes that jurors always astound her
on classes and artwork, opportunities to enter exhibitions,
with their ability to pull pieces that create an organic flow.
and the prestige of knowing that they are support ing the
The exhibitions offer unexpected connections, and people
longest standing volunteer run gallery in Fredericksburg.
appreciate the opportunity to be a part of such cohesive
She adds that members like Elsie Hagenlocker and Johnny
bodies of work.
unteerism and community support.
The Frederick Gallery is located on the main level of FCCA. It is named after another long-standing member and docent, Peter Frederick, who until recently was attending his duties in person. Though he has stepped away from physical work at the gallery, his support is unwavering.
Morgan also notes that First Fridays have become a significant tradition for FCCA to connect with the com-
munity. She says the trolley, funded by the Fredericksburg Arts Commission, has really paid off over the few years. She sees more people riding it around town to the galleries on First Fridays.
In the coming years, Morgan says sheâ€™d like to see more children coming out with their parents. Sheâ€™d also like
to see more teachers choosing FCCA as a location for their classes. While the gallery is supported by nearly 200 regular members, more are always welcome, including those of younger generations. Current members have built a tradition in Fredericksburg, and with 54 years and a solid reputation, theyâ€™d like to see FCCA survive and thrive long into the future. Many, like Morgan herself, are ready to pass the torch to the next generation of community cultivators of the arts. There are many opportunities to share your time and get involved at FCCA. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and keep this gem of the arts community strong.
The Members' Gallery is located on the garden level of FCCA. It is sometimes used as a space for classes as well.
2018 MEMBERS GALLERY EXHIBIT SCHEDULE: January: Mark Prieto - Solo February: Millie and Ray Able - Duo March: Nancy Brittle - Solo April: Sally Kubarek and Darlene Wilkinson - Duo May: Carol Baker and Ruth Golmant - Duo June: Christine Dixon - Solo July: Jim Hazzard and Breanna Thompson - Duo August: Addison Likins and Peggy Wickham - Duo September: Rebecca Carpenter - Solo October: Pam Weldon and Becky Heye - Duo November: Kerrie Anderson and Laura O'Leary - Duo
Visitors watch their heads as they descend the stairs between the Fredrick Gallery and Members' Gallery in this historical building. Silversmith House on Sophia
Visit FCCA online at fccagallery.org Follow them on Facebook.
Streetwas built in 1785.
2018 FCCA FREDERICK GALLERY JURIED EXHIBITS SCHEDULE February 2018
“All Photography” Regional Juried Exhibit Exhibit dates: January 27 – February 23, 2018 Juror: Roy Sewall Entries deadline: Friday, January 12, 2018, by 5 pm Jurying: Tuesday, January 16, 2018, 11 am Notifications by Phone or email: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 Deadline for delivery of selected work: Friday, January 26, by 4 pm Exhibit Opens: Saturday, January 27, 2018 Reception: First Friday, February 2, 2018, 6-8:30 pm, Juror Talk/ Awards at 6 pm Exhibit closes: Friday, February 23, 2018, at 4 pm Pick up hand-delivered work: Saturday, February 24, 2018, 10 am – 4 pm, or within 10 days Anticipated return shipping: Monday, February 26, 2018
“Unique Viewpoint” All-Media National Juried Exhibit Exhibit dates: February 24 – March 30, 2018 Juror: Alexis Shockley Entries deadline: Friday, January 26, 2018, by 5 pm Jurying: Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 11 am Notifications by phone, email or USPS: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 Deadline for delivery of selected work: Friday, February 23, 2018, by 4 pm Exhibits opens: Saturday, February 24, 2018 Reception: First Friday, March 2, 2018, 6-8:30 pm, Juror Talk/Awards at 6 pm Exhibit closes: Friday, March 30, 2018, at 4 pm Pick up hand-delivered work: Saturday, March 31, 2018, 10 am – 4 pm, or within 10 days Anticipated return shipping: Monday, April 2, 2018
“Transitions” by Joe DiBella - Special Guest Artist Exhibit Exhibit dates: May 26 – June 29, 2018 Curators: Bob Worthy and Carrol Morgan Deadline for delivery of work: Saturday, May 19, 2018, by 4 pm Exhibit opens: Saturday, May 26, 2018 Reception: First Friday, June 1, 2018, 6 – 8:30 pm, Artist’s Talk at 6 pm Exhibit closes: Friday, June 29, 2018 at 8 pm Pick up work: Saturday, June 30, 10 am
“Power of Red” All-Media National Juried Exhibit Exhibit dates: June 30 – July 29, 2018 Juror: TBD Entries deadline: (tentative) Friday, May 25, 2018, by 5 pm Jurying: Tuesday, May 29, 2018 Notification by phone, email or USPS: Wednesday, May 30, 2018 Deadline for delivery of selected work: Friday, June 29, 2018, by 4 pm Exhibit opens: Saturday, June 30, 2018 Reception: First Friday, July 6, 2018, 6 – 8:30 pm, Juror Talk/Awards at 6 pm Exhibit closes: Friday, July 27, 2017, at 8 pm Pick up hand-delivered work: Saturday, July 28, 2018, 10 am – 4 pm, or within 10 days Anticipated return shipping: Monday, July 30, 2018
October 2018 ** Guest Artists Exhibit featuring the Mid Atlantic Pastel Society Exhibit dates: September 29 – October 26, 2018 Curators: Carrol Morgan and Bob Worthy Publicity materials and exhibit fee payment deadline: August 17, 2018 by 4 pm Inventory and artwork delivery deadline: Friday, September 14, 2018, by 5 pm Exhibit opens: Saturday, September 29, 2018 Reception: First Friday, October 5, 2018, 6 – 8:30 pm, Artists' Talk at 6 pm Exhibit closes: Friday, October 26, 2018, at 4 pm Pick up hand-delivered work: Saturday, October 27, 2018, 10 am – 4 pm, or within 10 days Anticipated return shipping: Monday, October 29, 2018
**alternative proposal if Mid Atlantic Pastel Society show cancelled: October 2018 “Artist Choice” All-Media Regional Juried Exhibit Exhibit dates: September 29 – October 26, 2018 Juror: TBD Entries deadline: Friday, September 14, 2018, by 5 pm Jurying: Tuesday, September 18, 2018 Notifications by phone or email: Wednesday, September 19, 2018 Deadline for delivery of selected work: Friday, September 28, 2018, by 4 pm Exhibit opens: Saturday, September 29, 2018 Reception: First Friday, October 5, 2018, 6 – 8:30 pm, Juror Talk/ Awards at 6 pm Exhibit closes: Friday, October 26, 2018, at 4 pm Pick up hand-delivered work: Saturday, October 27, 2018, 10 am – 4 pm, or within 10 days Anticipated return shipping: Monday, October 29, 2018
“Artist Choice” All-Media Regional Juried Exhibit Exhibit dates: March 31 – April 27, 2018 Juror: TBD Entries deadline: Friday, March 9, 2018, by 5 pm Jurying: Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 11 am Notifications by phone or email: Wednesday, March 14, 2018 Deadline for delivery of selected work: Friday, March 30, 2018, by 4 pm Exhibits opens: Saturday, March 31, 2018 Reception: First Friday, April 6, 2018, 6-8:30 pm, Juror Talk/Awards at 6 pm Exhibit closes: Friday, April 27, 2018, at 4 pm Pick up hand-delivered work: Saturday, April 28, 2017, 10 am – 4 pm, or within 10 days Anticipated return shipping: Monday, April 30, 2018
“A Fine Line” All-Media National Juried Exhibit Exhibit dates: April 28 – May 25, 2018 Juror: TBD Entries deadline: Friday, March 30, 2018, by 5 pm Jurying: Tuesday, April 3, 2018 Notifications by phone, email or USPS: Wednesday, April 4, 2018 Deadline for delivery of selected work: Friday, April 27, 2018, by 4 pm Exhibit opens: Saturday, April 28, 2018 Reception: First Friday, May 4, 2018, 6 – 8:30 pm, Juror Talk/Awards at 6 pm Exhibit closes: Friday, May 25, 2018, at 8 pm Pick up hand-delivered work: Saturday, May 26, 2018, 10 am – 4 pm, or within 10 days Anticipated return shipping: Wednesday, May 30, 2018
“Artist Choice” All-media Regional Juried Exhibit Exhibit dates: July 28 – August 31, 2018 Juror: TBD Entries deadline: Friday, July 13, 2018, by 5 pm Jurying: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 Notifications by phone or email: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 Deadline for delivery of selected work: Friday, July 27, 2017, by 4 pm Exhibit opens: Saturday, July 28, 2018 Reception: First Friday, August 3, 2018, 6 – 8:30 pm, Juror Talk/Awards at 6 pm Exhibit closes: Friday, August 31, 2018, at 8 pm Pick up hand-delivered work: Saturday, September 1, 2018, 10 am – 4 pm, or within 10 days
“Passages” All-Media National Juried Exhibit Exhibit dates: September 1 – September 28, 2018 Juror: TBD Entries deadline: Friday, August 3, 2018, by 5 pm (First Friday) Jurying: Tuesday, August 7, 2018 Notifications by phone, email or USPS: Wednesday, August 8, 2018 Deadline for delivery of selected work: Friday, August 31, 2018, by 4 pm Exhibit opens: Saturday, September 1, 2018 Reception: First Friday, September 7, 2018, 6 – 8:30 pm, Juror Talk/Awards at 6 pm Exhibit closes: Friday, September 28, 2018, at 8 pm Pick up hand-delivered work: Saturday, September 29, 2018, 10 am – 4 pm, or within 10 days Anticipated return shipping: Monday, October 1, 2018
December 2018 – January 2019
“Texture & Surface” All-Media National Juried Exhibit Exhibit dates: October 27 – November 30, 2018 Juror: TBD Entries deadline: Friday, September 28, 2018, by 5 pm Jurying: Tuesday, October 2, 2018, 11 am Notifications by phone, email or USPS: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 Deadline for delivery of selected work: Friday, October 26, 2018, by 4 pm Exhibit opens: Saturday, October 27, 2018 Reception: First Friday, November 2, 2018, 6 – 8:30 pm, Juror Talk/ Awards 6 pm Exhibit closes: Friday, November 23, 2018, at 4 pm Pick up hand-delivered work: Saturday, November 24, 10 am – 4 pm, or within 10 days Anticipated return shipping: Monday, November 26, 2018
“Focus on Color” All-Media National Juried Exhibit Exhibit dates: December 1, 2018 – January 25, 2019 Juror: TBD Entries deadline: Friday, October 19, 2018, by 4 pm Jurying: Tuesday, October 23, 2018 Notifications by phone, email or USPS: Wednesday, October 24, 2018 Deadline for delivery of selected work: Friday, November 30, 2018, by 4 pm Exhibit opens: Saturday, December 1, 2018 Reception: First Friday, December 7, 2018, 6 – 8:30 pm, Juror Talk/ Awards 6 pm Exhibit closes: Friday, January 26, 2019 Pick up hand-delivered work: Saturday, January 27, 2019, 10 am – 4 pm, or within 10 days Anticipated return shipping: Monday, January 28, 2019
OPioids… Mom calls Private, don’t tell Stigmas Not them The delights – they would never Pawn Shops, not chess pieces Secrets Don’t tell shame Retrieval Got it all back Problem solved? Cover up Repeat repeat repeat Later More heirlooms More opioids More secrets Secrets kill Opioids kill Heirlooms mean nothing without heirs
~ Ellen Alden
Harry The next morning, the sun made long streaks of golden rays through the kitchen window on her father’s newspaper as he stared intently at the print. Everything in his life was strategic. His chair was placed to maximize the sun’s hello. Harry, the cat Clare’s mother did not take with her, dared not sit on the morning chair, ever. Without looking at her, the father said, “No rain today.” Clare just bit into her toast and remained tight lipped wondering if her mother would come back for Harry and maybe her.
~ Thea Verdak
MAKING LOVE TO PANCAKES They were the best pancakes we had ever eaten, but how much of that was because the night before had not gone as planned? So cold, that after pitching the tent we got straight into the sleeping bag, layers of clothes still on, and huddled together all night. We rose in dawnâ€™s frozen light, threw the tent and bag into the car, and went in search of food and warmth. We made love to the pancakes in the morning after that unconsummated night, melting with the butter, syrup tracing desire over hot stacks, blueberries so ripe, they burst at the slightest touch, passion stirred with each lingering bite. Love changes over the years, gives way to the steady pleasures of comfort. We keep looking for that restaurant.
~ Michael Ratcliffe
Southern Charm Kaelin Ian Cooper Mixed Media
Robin Croft's Wild Craft A Northern Virginia Artist Practices Drawing-in-the-Wild
Fine artist. Designer. Technical illustrator. Maintenance man. Observer. All describe artist Robin Croft, but no single one would paint his entire picture. Croft has been a working artist for nearly 40 years, initially gravitating toward art to escape life in a small southern Virginia tobacco-market town. In every job and every project, Croft’s outer experience shapes the inner landscape that ends up on view for the world through his work. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1980 with a degree in Painting and Printmaking. While his professional artistic life took root in technical illustration, production art, creative illustration, design, and construction, his exhibits have been focused mainly on drawings and large-scale sculptures made from scrap metal, wood and “found” objects. Croft says he operates on only three rules of art: 1. There are no rules in art. 2. Artists make up their own rules. 3. Artists break their own rules (see Rule #1). He is aware that this hierarchy leaves the profession open to a vast range of quality and opinion. On the organizational chart of art, Croft places drawing by itself at the top with a capital "D," and states that all other arts branch under it. He says, “Each is a type of drawing experience. Any kind of movement or organizational creativity is a form of drawing, if you consider drawing the concept of trying to organize your thoughts in a visual, written, spoken, acted or musical manner. Dance, writing, poetry - they’re all forms of drawing. As a lapsed painter, I’ve examined pictures from behind as well, checking out the way the stretchers were built. My canvases were signed on the right side of the stretcher. To me, painting is just flattened sculpture, and sculpture is a form of drawing.”
After a few years, Croft felt he had progressed as far as he could with painting, but his interest in the way things were constructed stayed with him. Soon, Croft was veering toward works he called "constructures" (constructed pictures), which had an increasingly three dimensional quality to them. Constructures were comprised of a series of wall-mounted works uniformly 60 inches high of varying width and depth. As a transition from pure painting to more sculptural ideas, they represented an exercise in understanding how he planned to continue artmaking. Exhibited alone or butted together in groups, constructures incorporated oil paint, canvas, a painted portrait, a mirror, a tea pot, drafting board material, Chinese fortunes, toys, newsprint, rulers, graphite, and countless other found objects. Only one piece from this series has been shown publicly. Titled “Nonsequiter,” it contains a Brunswick stew of materials attached to a 60-inch high by 48inch wide panel, which he says was in progress for nearly fifteen years. It is an extremely busy surface of messages, objects and newspaper articles with subtle autobiographical references, all jumbled together on a Mondrian-esque grid.
After this transitional phase, Croft focused solely on sculpture incorporating found materials from thrift stores, yard sales, and scrap yards. Many later works used scrap aluminum from screen door kick panels as their outer skin. Croft says, “Sometimes, an armature was fashioned from heavy gauge aluminum stock, and all of the work was assembled with nuts, bolts, or pop rivets. I have a collection of objects such as crucifixes, gauges, tubing, hinges, wheels, aluminum poles, nonfunctioning toggle and button switches. Within these sculptures, they might have a real function, or I might have incorporated them metaphorically. Even then, an object could create a sound, rather than perform an actual function. You can flip the
Drowning Refugee toggle switches on my sculptures, and because the whole thing is hollow, they make a thrumming sound. Or a ball bearing rolling down an unseen, internal track might sound like an idling engine." A number of these sculptures fall under his "railcar/ dolly series," human-scale works that are wheeled, some sitting on rails. Eventually Croft found himself running out of room in his studio, so he concentrated more on working outside. He says, “I’d really been doing these outdoor works since the 1990s, and their origin goes back to childhood. I used to spend a lot of time in the woods building things like tree forts and wattle constructions out of old lumber, sticks and limbs. As an adult, I was making cairns on backpacking trips or carving walking sticks. They finally turned into larger pieces that took a couple of days.” Croft’s aesthetic for some of his largescale structures was influenced by memories of family vacations at the Outer Banks. His mother died when he was quite young, and his stepmother introduced the region to the family thereafter. Croft loved the isolated feel of Kitty Hawk with its integral role in the birth of flight when contrasted to more populous, touristy beaches. As a boy, he had been fascinated by the tales of pirates and actual shipwrecks on the Carolina coast, known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” To him, shipwrecks represent a sense of loss, possibly a residual effect of losing his mother so early in life, but he notes that they do not reflect melancholy alone. There’s a bit of whimsy infused into each piece, if only in the delight of people
Refugees who come upon the sculptures unexpectedly. One of the shipwrecks was situated by Croft and his collaborator, Ken Huston, in Richmond's Pony Pasture Park. It was formed from a collapsed beaver dam on the edge of the James River. One passerby relayed the surprise of seeing it to a writer for The Richmond Times Dispatch, who wrote an article about it. Croft claims his tragicomic aesthetic was influenced by H.C. Westermann, whom Croft calls an artist’s artist. “He was a very popular, under-known artist, and he worked a lot in wood and metal. One of his pieces is at the Hirshhorn Museum. Westermann’s work was influenced by his experience in WWII and Korea, so he’s my archetypal tragicomic artist. I’ve always admired that kind of approach, where the humor is mixed in to take the edge off of the tragedy. I’ve always gravitated toward that and it shows in my drawings as well as my sculpture.” The sculptures that Croft has made in recent years have continued to evolve, and some have a political message. In October of 2016, The Washington Post covered his public work “Drowning refugee,” which was a collaboration with artist Marcos Smyth that rose out of the Potomac south of Old Town Alexandria. Of the impetus for the piece, Croft explains, “Immigrants and refugees are already under duress. I get angry when I hear our government pressuring people who are already under extreme burden to their physical and emotional selves.”
In addition to his sculptural works, Croft has been working on an extended series of drawings and collage drawings influenced by maintenance coordinator jobs held in assisted living facilities. He worked in two different assisted living homes with memory care wings. That four-year period provided both sadness and inspiration among the patients there. He has created characters within his images that reflect life at its most depressing, but also at its most darkly humorous. Most of these are executed in various types of ink pens. The last couple of years his drawings have been composed on old, unused letterhead given him by a friend, whose step mother had it imprinted with the name of her farm in southwest Virginia. With the header "Whippoorwill Hollow Farm" imprinted across the top, the range of content in the drawings covers religion, tragedy, comedy, sublime moments, obituaries of notable people, homage, anger, frustration, aging and dementia. "Whippoorwill Hollow Farm is an actual working farm, where we love to go to be with our friends. It’s a wonderful place to get away for quiet reading, hiking, and farmhouse improvements. The peacefulness of that farm is a subtext in these drawings, which are often full of violence and angst.” Croft hopes to bring his ephemeral outdoor work to the Fredericksburg region, perhaps on the Rappahannock. There may be an opportunity for collaboration with area artists and volunteers to help with the construction. Whether driftwood shipwreck, winged maple seed, wattle wall enclosure or a political piece that reminds us of our humanity, Croft’s "drawings-in-the-wild" will be operating under their own rules.
Dawa Tegang, My Friend R.L. Croft Pen
Falling Bodies R.L. Croft Pen
"In March 2013, I had a two-week residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. I created “Sower,” a 22ft. long by 11ft. high winged seed (maple seed) in homage to Van Gogh’s ink drawings and paintings of the same title. The sculpture, one of many 'drawings-in-the-wild,' was made entirely from wattle construction, aided at first with natural twine. Only natural fiber twine was added to the site." ~ VCUArts website, "Where are They Now"
The Flies Saorla Wright
As she sat, she saw them coming closer, and she
sighed closing her eyes and trying to relish what little morsel of normality was left until it all began again. The little fruit flies lazily and erratically buzzed closer to him. He was sitting opposite her, his bald head glinting comically in the sun, slightly lighter in pallor due to the generous dollops of factor fifty applied. He was yet unaware of their little visitors. It was never the reaction that bothered her, it was the reason. Every goddamn time. Was it not for them living above a bar hosting a micro-brewery, there most definitely would be less flies buzzing morbidly around in their inebriated and naive gaiety. She saw it first subconsciously register in him before he knew, with a thoughtless flick of the hand, where it stayed stock-still, mid-movement in realisation they had come.
Had life had been kinder, both in spirit and on the pocket, she would whisk her plagued brother up to a castle in a fly-less land. This not being the case however, he began his low-groan and the tirade began in the middle of the coffee shop. She wished it was as simple as a disability, and if it were autism, which she believes to be the underlying cyst of the issue, she perhaps could have peace. Perhaps not, but the sheer insanity, the awkward explanations and constant wonder, the horror, was a tenacious feature in her life. The public responded kindly, as always, downcast eyes, maybe a waitress would offer assistance, until he began to open his big, huge unfiltered mouth. ''They're multiplying, gathering in strength and numbers'' he would utter between laboured breaths of fervour. His eyes would roll in a febrile state of panic. ''They're coming in droves, how is that not evidence enough? Tell me?'' he would demand, squaring up to her as the fever grew. Suddenly, the public would listen more intently, lean-in like the puny boughs of a sapling reaching for sun, a chink of light breaking the tranquil non-rhythm of their everyday lives. Postulations spring from the populous of those plagued by the old ennui, secretly delighted at this fractured moment in the monotony. ''Tell me I'm mad. Tell me it's not true, and in the face of evidence! Look at the flies ready to feast! Next it will be the crows, the vultures. Just you wait until it's too late!'' he would accusingly spit. It was at times like this in the no longer tranquil coffee shop she would wish in her deepest, most intimate and satanic state that she would awake one day to a whirl of crows circling above her bed, an infestation. She would walk downstairs and perhaps find a vulture drooling on the mantelpiece, and there, her brother succumbed to his alleged state. She loved him, but only to a distant and blurred vision of her brother, gummily laughing in her lap, clapping his rolly Michelin-man arms clasping half an avocado, as their mother sat in the kitchen laughing at some witty by-gone rattling on the radio. This groaning beast, clawing at himself in a coffee shop was not this boy, not this overgrown ox-of-a man. Her hatred for him was the guilty impetus not to have him permanent-
'He said, his voice, with a Shakespearean flair, almost addressing the whole coffee shop, but locking eyes with her. ''What lingers around the three day old chicken carcass from Sunday's roast? Around a dead bird in the street, a dying pup? FLIES! All the fucking flies''. She admired his theatrical execution. She had learned that both denying or agreeing neither pacified him, both exacerbating him by calling him a liar or confirming his incomprehensible fear, or reality. This was that he was in fact dying, and no doctor can diagnose him with anything other than a litany of mental health issues, the most impinging being Cotard's Delusion. The belief that one is dead, does not exist or are putrefying inside. The obligatory thread that binds the bond of siblinghood is a strange one, a painful one and more often than not, an excruciatingly heavy one to bear. Later that night she sat on the sofa swiping on tinder. It was a game, more than a means to get anyone, a small thrill of opportunity when she matched someone. Usually a few days of flirtatious messaging, and then communication would grind to a halt due to her not actually meeting them in person, par a few one night stands, moments of which she visits regularly whilst daydreaming above the tenebrous clamour of her brother, the reason she is shackled to a life, or a non-life, so it seems. Their living room is littered with the world's largest collection of fly-swatters, fly tape and various other Googled fly traps. A cave of peculiar paraphernalia. How could she ever explain or navigate conversation around the lunatic and vicious Venus Fly-Trap of-a â€“flat she lives in. Their parents had passed away over ten years ago, when she was twenty one, he twenty nine. This no doubt inflamed whatever malignancy lay quietly in his mind, stirring sometimes previously with bouts of depression and anxiety, suddenly emerged a fully grown fearsome monster. It was no doubt that there their parent posthumous existence in only their minds brought about some complex to do with this fickle matter of eternal departure. She was left to handle it, to somehow tame it, to somehow forget her own grief. She heard a clang in the kitchen that jolted her from her heated reminiscing of by-gone flings. When these little moments happen, 145
little hints that all may not be well, these are the droplets of reality that shake the meniscus of her sanity. She always had the urge to bury herself, but fighting this urge to run and hide, she wandered against all fatigue and injustice, into the kitchen. She was still half in the dark plush part of her mind, like a fly caught in a silken snare, she, caught in her memory of her entangled and sweating under a man between the sheets giggling. Soon did this memory wane and give way to a sharp awareness of her surroundings. He sat, crumpled in the corner of the kitchen with a sizeable knife, eyes, wide and bloodshot, rolling in their spheres. They stayed fixed to the window opposite, despite a flickering nystagmus of the eyeballs, or was that awareness? A flicker of that gurgling boy on her lap trying to emerge? Her gaze followed his to a crow, perched on the washing line outside. ''They are nearing, they can smell me rotting'' He almost whispered, his voice, an erratic and deep vibrato. She marched over to him, the eternal glowing brimstone of sulphuric anger growing within her. ''Give me the knife right now, stop being silly, it's just a bird'' She was too tired to handle an episode with any of the finesse that time had taught her. She bent down towards the hilt of the knife. ''No!'' He yelped, the knife grazing her forearm. All she could see was red. The red orbs of anger orbiting the peripheries of her vision, the red of her blood and pain, another wound inflicted by this brute, the red of her cheeks. The illustrious pigment that lies dormant and deep under the surface of her skin. So long it has been since a man has tickled the blush to her cheeks. It was the same red of her dress she wears on dates. They say to always wear red, a bold confident colour. All she could see was the red of that dress that was hung in a shroud of dust in the cupboard that bore a fist hole from a fly-induced mania a long time ago. She looked at him and she was suddenly Sisyphus, and he the eternal rock she has to haul up an eternal mountain day after day, for ever and ever. The knife somehow found her hand, her shouting seemed animalistic, and foreign, and distant. The knife somehow sunk into his outstretched hand, surprisingly easily. Only twenty one thrusts later, after she knelt, panting, grunting and sweating, wearing the long forgotten colour of love, of blush or her dress, she realised her jeans, slowly turning a dark brown red, the osmosis of his blood off the kitchen tiles had begun, which were barely 146
distinguishable underneath this sea of vermillion, sunk onto her own skin, did she observe she scene. She could feel nothing, only a disturbing numbness amidst the quiet aftermath. The crow had since left its perch on the washing line, the day growing dull and dark. She stood up, willing some kind of emotion to emerge, to show her the way, to tell her how to feel. Her socks made a sloppy wet sound in the pool beneath her feet, reminiscent of the time she ran outside in her socks on a rainy day when he lay shouting on the ground of the road outside, cars stopped in front of him, people crowded, conglomerating in a group, unsure how to approach. She was late for university that day, her cheeks rouging as she tried to quietly enter the lecture after the debacle undetected, her shoes squelching, seeping out rain water as she squeaked into a free seat. She remembered the red mark that soon flourished into a purple flower of a bruise on her eye when he mistakenly hit her, for a reason she cannot remember, all these mistaken moments. Her whole life was some sort of mistake, an error. She looked down onto the deliberate mess on the floor, the only thing that was not mistakenly done. She reached up and pulled three strands of fly tape that hung from the ceiling. It was somehow dark outside and she was still stood holding the fly tape in one hand and the knife in the other, she put them in the sink and put on the light. The halogen flickering suddenly made the scene seem less bearable than a few hours previous, more real. A blue, light, like that of the shade in a crevice of a white statue, began to lightly emerge on his face. Just then, this marble blue, tracing the venation of what was him, was emerging, like a leaf. A fly buzzed. It landed on his nose, rubbing its miniscule legs together, attracted to the blood that began to crust lightly. She walked back to the sofa in the living room and resumed her swiping. The glare off her phone illuminated a thin, but real line of red between the pink and the whites of her nails. She could bare the silence and frightened herself by how much she welcomed it. She had lost her parents, and could afford to loose her brother. However, the little seed of curiosity of a morbid nature nestled seamlessly into the glia of her mind, and over the next eight hours began to sprout. Had he had been right, that he was in fact dead on the inside, her act of deliberate malice, or so they
would say, so they would shout, so they would accuse, so they would scream, could be dissolved, if he was in fact already dead. Of course, he already was dead. The little burbling boy had long since deceased, even her parents knew this, with every exasperated flare of the nostril, or when a sigh of a hand is placed on the shoulder of one another, in solidarity and strength like soldiers do in the face of war. They all knew, secretly and in the silent spaces where words failed or were too unfurled and unprepared to enter the world. They all silently knew, but they knew together that he was gone. The outside world cannot justify this, and under scrutiny of the law, could not permit the soggy grey spots of morality to moisten this case...but if they knew, if she had proof. Perhaps he was right. Cotard's syndrome in a cocktail of wavering depression were his only issues, other than this, he was very intelligent. He would often be complimented on his verbal eloquence, eluding the rest of the world he was sane, which tickled her own sanity. His intelligence was an existing part of him that she still deeply loved. Actually his more recent lunacy was a slight sigh of relief, she no longer had to explain to anyone that the seemingly normal middle aged man sipping tea and reading The Times was a very sick person. Of course, this is relative relief, like when you have been given a very small and puny knife whilst fighting a bear, that kind of relief. The curiosity built to such extremes, it consumed her, filled her up until she became turgid with wonder. She rose, like a ghost possessed and wandered, as if sleep walking, towards the kitchen. It was the same, but the brilliance of the red had oxidised to a milder hue of brown, dried onto everything. Later she would realise that it had dried into a stubborn layer between the dura of her head and the brain itself a place where no amount of soap or therapy that could wring that colour out from behind her eyes. He was the same, but more permanent. His hair didn't move or wisp around, but seemed gelled down, his hands didn't rest on one another, but seemed fused to one another in a frightening permanence. She knelt down and put her hand on his chest. Her palm was flat and steady, and she began to move around, until she found it, small but present. A little tear in his sweater where she had punctured it with the knife. She hovered, then her index finger, with slow and hesitant movements found the
hole in his body. She dug deeper, each rip with her finger against his frozen flesh her curiosity grew, until she could fit two fingers in, some blood seeping between them, her need for vindication, validation or maybe liberation grew. She clawed until she could fit her whole hand in and ripped him open. She was in a dream, a haze, when the other hand grabbed the gaping hole and she ripped him open. His flesh, once stern in its rigor mortis, now doughy, just came apart, and within she saw something dark, as if it was so dark, not even the halogen could illuminate. She began to pull at it. It was soft in her hand, woollen with a solid yet soft inside. It was his organs, dead, and covered in a thick and soft black wool. She sat back on her haunches, then collapsed back on her backside. Was it relief or guilt? She was right to kill him before the flies did, or worse, the cunning crows who would peck out his eyes first in a grim fashion. She was confused, and suddenly began to feel ill, or maybe it was hunger. She was holding a big furry lump, which she could only assume was his spleen perhaps. She had done right, this she knew. She felt guilty for not believing him, but she had put him out of his misery. She had saved him, and now she had proof. Her beautiful brother, what little cerebral thought he was still capable of, despite this malignancy, was right. The world shunned him into insanity. He was more clever than any of them, more astute in his intuitions, and everyone told him he was mad. This she wept at, she clung to these furry remnants of what used to be her brother, she wept as she did not know when he really died, and she wept because she never got to say goodbye to that burbling boy on her knee. She then wept with joy. She had liberated him finally. She wept because the world did not seem clear or conventional or believable, and finally, when she was found, she was weeping, but she did not have a clear reason why.
Passion to Performance Gerome Meminger Gerome Meminger is a fixture in the Hampton arts community where he owned an art gallery in the city’s arts district for ten years after retiring from the miltary. It was there that he discovered a unique way to share his work and connect with his community. On a whim during a summer block party, Meminger took his work outside the studio to join the crowd. He painted along to the music, and people stopped to ask about his technique and his work. As an added bonus, those connections led to sales. Turns out patrons enjoy having a personal connection to the artist. Meminger coined his new networking technique a “wet sale” and continued it during the block parties that year. The City of Hampton caught wind of what he was doing and asked him to paint to the Temptations and Colt Ford at that year’s Bay Days. Meminger had a blast and notes with surprise, “I wasn’t nervous at all, and I felt like a natural on stage.” When asked about his work, Meminger laughs, “This isn’t work. This isn’t work at all.”
He uses fast-drying, high-end acrylics, which he says work well since he tends to paint in thick strokes. He describes his performance technique as a kind of synesthysia. He says, “I will hear something in the music and it will inspire me to pick up the color blue. As the music moves to a crescendo, I may pick up another color and go in a totally different direction. After a while, the painting starts revealing itself to me. I pull it together as an abstract or impressionist painting in the end.” In recent months, Meminger has organized a show at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News where he organized the entertainment and painted. In November, Meminger painted along to 24 major recording artists at Hampton’s Jazz Legacy Gala, a four day jazz festival ranked third in the country. November also found Meminger at the 25th Annual Tennis Ball, a longstanding fundraiser for An Achievalbe Dream, a local nonprofit, that provides full college scholarships to two local graduating classes each year. Meminger is currently writing a coffee table book filled with personal quotes and affirmations paired with some of his newer paintings, and he recently painted a special commission for a local church, which he describes as “not your typical lion.” He liked it so much, he painted one for himself as well. Meminger has become so ubiquitous with the arts in the Hampton Roads area that the visitor’s center there created a cardboard cutout of him, which sometimes peers out from behind the glass to greet the public. It’s even made appearances at the Fredericksburg Visitor Center as an ambassador for the arts in the Piedmont. You can next catch Gerome Meminger in person when he paints in February of 2018 with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach. He is also producing the 1st Annual Performance at the Ferguson Center, Hungry Jazz On Canvas - The Gerome Project - The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond, on August 4th, 2018. Follow him on Facebook
@Gerome Meminger - Art by Gerome. 148
Three the Hard Way Gerome Meminger Acrylic
Whenever I have felt overwhelmed by life, I have retreated to the sea. I am unsure why it casts such a spell on me. Perhaps it is the visibility of the connection between our planet and the space in which it floats, as the rhythm of the sea follows the moon. Perhaps it is because for the first nine months of our existence we float warm and safe in briny liquid, and the sheer volume of salty water that is the sea brings back that fleeting sense of safety. Perhaps it is because of the mysterious connection between the moon, the sea, and the cycles of femaleness. It could be all these things, or none. But when I am close to the sea, whatever part of me that is buckling is fortified, repaired, renewed. Today I am here because... I do not know why I am here. There is a nagging tension that has come to a rolling boil in my stomach, and I do not know the cause. I feel anxious, but have no reason to. My mind is spinning cartwheels, going round in circles and passing the same thoughts over and over again. The feeling of constant internal motion makes me nauseous. Because I cannot place the cause of this discombobulation, it has gone unresolved, casting a long and constant shadow over me. Sky and sea are graduations of slate grey today, and the swirling clouds and water reflect what is happening inside me. As I stare out, it is like looking into a mirror that shows my inner self. I am alone here on this narrow strip of sand and rocks and water. The weather at this time of year is turbulent and unpredictable. Those who love the sea when she is all golden sand and azure skies and turquoise water shy away from her when she wears this face; but I love all her faces and greet her like an old friend no matter which one she wears. I kick off my shoes, feeling the grainy texture slide between my toes as I curl them in the sand. I sink to my knees, plunging my hands into the sand as well, grasping at it as if to root myself to the earth. I hold the sand in front of me and watch, mesmerised, as the sand slips through my fingers and the wind whisks it away, leaving me with clenched, empty fists. I turn my face to the wind and implore him to blow away the dark cloud following me through my days and nights. He does not answer me, but caresses my hair with his fingers before suddenly pushing hard against my whole body, and just as quickly easing to tickle my face with a tendril of my own hair. He is capricious, but he is the sea's constant companion so I accept him as a condition of loving her. Today his unpredictability is more hindrance than help. I sit, wrapping my arms around my knees and rocking gently on the sand. I watch the sea, crashing onto the shore before fading away, only to crash forward again. Her forwards and backwards motion is like a finger beckoning me ever closer. I roll up my jeans as far as I can, baring my white sparrow legs. I lurch to my feet and allow the siren call of the sea to draw me closer.
The wet sand feels smooth and cold beneath my feet as I approach the water. The waves crash and disintegrate into tiny wavelets before vanishing; the sea drawing them back into herself to rebirth them as huge, foamy barrels. The first icy wavelet slips across the tops of my feet and its chill makes me flinch. The second follows closely behind, and the sensation of cold gives way to one of drawing forth. I move deeper and let the sea's deft fingers massage my ankles, my toes, the arches of my feet. The frothing tension that dwells within me feels her gentle yet insistent tug, and sinks down through my legs and toes to be carried away with the next retreating wave. Slowly but surely, the sea washes away my fears and doubts, and through her constant movement my own mind is stilled. I am no longer spinning mental cartwheels and passing the same thoughts over and over. Instead I am the calm at the centre, and the inner storm swirls around my newly steady core. As I stand here on the blurred edge between earth and sea the rain begins to fall, gently at first but then harder. I turn my face heavenward and feel each drop ping against my skin like tiny watery needles. I step even deeper into the water, marvelling at the sea's power. She swallows ships, she eats the land; yet she is a mother filled with life. She is a study in contradiction. Her current swirls around me, pushing and pulling. My jeans are soaked yet for reasons that escape me I continue into the water. Foam seethes around my thighs. Then my hips. In my next step forward, the sandbank falls away from beneath my feet and I drop like lead beneath the waves. For all my love of the sea, I am not a strong swimmer. She can do with me what she will. My search for salvation may well be my own demise. I hang suspended in the water, a marionette without strings, numb with panic. For all that life has troubled me lately, I am not ready to let it go. The vacuum that precedes the wave pulls me backwards through the water in eerie silence. What will the sea do with me? Will she take me? Or throw me back? As the wave breaks, my question is answered. The sandbank reappears beneath my feet, coarse and firm. I stagger forward as the sea pushes me back towards the shore. Adrenaline surges through me as I fall onto my hands and knees in the shallows. The message crystallises in my consciousness. In almost taking my life, the sea has renewed my zest for it. Drawing in breath, I feel renewal surging through me. Reinvigorated, I am ready to return and face life's tumult again. Walking slowly up the beach, I pause and turn back, bidding the sea a silent farewell until our next encounter. My shoes are soaked from the rain. I abandon any hope of wearing them, instead letting the sand stick to my toes. As I step into my car, the little grains crunch and roll under my feet. On the drive home I rub my feet back and forth, feeling the little bit of the sea that has stayed with me, both inside and out.
fragility “Something happens, but by the time we notice, it has begun without us. Thus our access to the beginning is necessarily incomplete, fragmentary.” ~ Peggy Phelan As a conceptual artist, my work appears precarious in both form and content. The work itself is a unique hybrid of sculpture and photography. In this work, digital photo transfers are fused to found objects by way of unprocessed beeswax. The purging of memory is embedded in the multiplicity of technique and material. Partially constructed imagery invites the viewer to recall and remember a personal space. In an instant our footprints disappear leaving behind only a gesture of where we have been. My work explores the crossover between the past and the future evoking the notion that individual histories are inevitably intertwined. My mother’s fragmented autobiography guides this work reminding me that I continue to work through and inherited past. Reflections of her institutionalization and the purging of memory are embedded in the multiplicity of technique and material. Partially constructed imagery invites the viewer to recall and remember a personal space.
~ Colleen Pendry 155
Oceanic Fantasia V James Hubbard Mixed Media
Bastardy Cameron Green
“For the record, I think this is a terrible idea.” My mother spoke, leaning up against one of the posts that held up our white wraparound porch. My mother was, just as the porch suggests, an incredibly self-sufficient woman. Her lessons were fairly direct; stand up straight when you walk, always look another man in the eye. She tried her best to fill the void of things that a boy is “supposed” to learn from his father. Unfortunately, this void would still have holes, even all these years later. “Yeah, but I do what I want now, Ma. I’m a grown man!” I said, jokingly. She put up fisticuffs to my response and pretended to box with me as I walked up the two stairs of the front porch and grabbed my last duffel bag. “Pay some goddamn bills then, you’re such a grown man.” “I do everything else around here,” I replied. “You’ve got to do something to hold your weight.” She full on tackled me against the car door before giving me a big mom-hug. “You be safe,” she said, opening the door to my sun-faded 1998 sedan. “And don’t let that bastard scam you out of any of my money!” “Hey, I resent that terminology,” I said. I put the car in reverse, and made my way out of the driveway. I could see the flood of tears begin streaming down her face as I shifted into drive, changing gears into the sudden realization that one way or another, I was not coming back the same. * * * *
So, when you get your name changed, you have to write a letter of intent. They ask you what it is that has lead to this change, and if you’re positive that you’d like to permanently alter your identity. You know, heavy stuff. It wasn’t that I needed his approval, or anything like that. I had done pretty well without it so far. It was just that sharing the same last name (and that stupid middle name) may have actually meant something to him at one time, even if for just a small moment. On the other hand, maybe it never meant anything. But either way, it was worth finding out. So, on October 17th, the day after my eighteenth birthday, I decided that I would make the incredibly flat, mostly uninteresting drive up the coast of the mid-Atlantic from the suburban haven of northern Florida to the slums of southern New Jersey where, in some overcrowded city hospital I had been born to my unmarried parents and named Samuel Rovert Cash, and tell my father that I would no longer be keeping his namesake. “Thou, nature, art my goddess,” I recited the speech aloud, memorizing it for my literature class. “To thy law my services are bound.” Come the Georgia border, I had already resorted to performing Shakespeare for entertainment. I think that I was hoping for some type of spiritual awakening, some Alexie-esque inner journey (I am also one-third American Indian, not enough to get a scholarship) but instead I found myself very much having to pee without a single sign of civilization on these southern country roads. On the other hand, I’m not sure if my father has ever even left New Jersey. He might not even be there when I show up. “Now gods, stand up for bastards.” The autumn leaves at the apex of falling created a swirling portal through which my front windshield was hurled. I told my mom before I left that I would pull over whenever I was going to call her; once when I got past the Florida state line, and once when I was about halfway to my destination. This would likely be somewhere near the border of the southern half of the colonial mid-Atlantic, some place where they maintain polished bronze statues erected to commemorate American Civil War heroes. She told me that getting through Georgia would take the longest, that the Carolinas would have the prettiest highways, that Virginia has more cops than it does exit signs, and that the rest was just tolls and skinny states with tall cities that smell like smoke and sweat. She also told me before I left that we had been fine without my father so far, so I should never feel like I owed him anything. She was right about almost all of it. I knew from just as early as I could understand anything that it wasn’t my mother’s fault that she couldn’t fill that void. It was something that was impossible, a game set up with no way for her to win. There would always be holes, gaping and hollow, through which the wind would pass and remind me that I was not a traditional child and I had not come from a traditional family. Instances would slip through these holes, like how to change a tire, or how to shoot a basketball, and they would echo around in my brain for as long as they deemed appropriate. At a certain point, you grow numb to the noise.
“Are you aware of fast you were going, son?” I had been pulled over for going eight milesper-hour over the speed limit on the interstate. I was, perhaps, the only person to ever get a speeding ticket while in cruise control.
“Well, yes, sir. I believe I was going about 78. I was in cruise control, I’m not in a rush.” I spoke with some anxiety, having never once been pulled over before in my two years of reasonably expert driving. “Well, I clocked you going a bit more like 80. Now, I don’t know what the laws are down in Florida, but in Virginia anything over 80 gets you a reckless ticket and an additional fine.” The officer spoke with both hands on his belt, presumably to hold his pants up from the weight of extra ego that was left in his pockets. He wrote me a ticket, and clocked me at 79 miles per hour. Turns out I had to be more worried about the state of Virginia taking my mom’s money that I had to be about my father doing it. On the bright side, now I knew I would come back with at least one story. At 10 o clock that night, I reached the underwhelming city of Woodbury, New Jersey. I would stay with my grandfather that night, the father of my mother, and come morning I would take the remaining 25-minute trek to where, at least to our collective knowledge, my father lived. “Sam,” my grandpa yelled from behind the rusted screen door. “Park in the road. I’ve got work early.” My grandfather was not a subtle man, and I expected nothing less out of his welcome. Working his entire life, he had recently reached the ripe old age of 75, a prime age to finally go ahead and retire. Unfortunately, my grandfather lived alone now, and never quite seemed to figure out how not to work. So, after the construction company had given him a forced retirement, he tried (and failed) at a handful of odd jobs to keep himself busy. Most recently, after falling asleep last month behind the wheel of a Philadelphia city transit bus and crashing into a parked Volkswagen, he decided that he would at least take work that didn’t put the lives of civilians directly into his dark and wrinkled hands. “Unlike some people in this family, grandpa still works,” he mumbled under his breath as he turned away, leaving the screen door unlocked. The house was very much different than I recalled. After my father left, we were forced to move in with my grandfather. As I walked through the foyers and unused dining rooms, I felt the eerie death of many childhood memories. The creaky floorboards that I had once toddled on still sounded. The ceiling of my old bedroom, paint still torn and chipped away, didn’t make any of the same imaginative shapes that I would observe as a child, telling stories with them when I couldn’t sleep. I walked back down the stairs to see grandpa on the couch watching a basketball game and drinking non-alcoholic beer. He had given up real drinking a long time ago, after his second wife left. “How are the Sixers looking this year?” I asked as I sat down on the opposite end of the couch. “Shit.” My grandpa spoke as he finished sipping his beer. “What do you expect when we won’t spend anything on a good free agent.” 160
There was a long pause before my grandpa took another sip of beer. We weren’t close, admittedly, but it was somewhat discomforting that after nearly five years between visits, all that we could manage to talk about was sports. It left me with the thought that meeting with my father could be infinitely more awkward, and equally as meaningful. Before finishing the next sip, he took a longer drink, finishing off the can before speaking. “I ain’t seen him in a long time, Sam.” His eyes didn’t turn from the game. “I know I’ve made my mistakes, and I’m not the wisest man, but if you ask me, Trevor was, and will always be, a lowlife and a leech.” “You’re probably right,” I replied after a moment. “I remember when you were younger, real young. I’m sure you don’t remember this, but me and your dad took you to the circus. Your ma had begged him and begged him, because she was working and he wasn’t. She gave him the money for the tickets and snacks. She knew how he was, so she asked me to go with you guys.” He sat up, his elbows on his knees, and his head turned down towards the dark wood floors. “We got there and, man, you would do this thing when you were little, you would say ‘I’m done.’ whenever you were over something. You didn’t know a lot of words, but you knew those two.” He laughed. “You always knew what you wanted. And I mean, it was calm. It was very matter of fact. But your dad took none of that, none whatsoever. He got so angry. It was like he didn’t understand, you were a child, you can’t reason with a little kid. So when you pulled that out there, at the circus, he stood up and he left. He took whatever money was left that your ma had given him and he walked right out. And he used that money and he drove all the way out to where, as far as I know, he’s still at to this very day.” For the first time since I had arrived, my grandpa put his beer down and looked over at me across the couch. “Just don’t have no expectations,” he said. * * * * * I arrived at the address my mother had given me just after noon. I soon became overwhelmingly concerned with the idea that my father may be out, perhaps for lunch, perhaps with some gorgeous super model, or, more likely, some sugar mama with whom he had been responsible for the release of an entire flock of eclectic younglings which I would soon feel obligated to call “siblings.” Upon my arrival to the shanty-like abode, my stomach began to twist itself in knots. Shoe laces wrapped around my innards, looping themselves around twice, thrice, before aptly knotting themselves in a throbbing cluster of “screw it, I should just bail.” Before I could even attempt to make good on the idea, out walked a man, stocky, and about five foot eight in height. He was wearing khakis, the universal symbol of business-casual, and a blue button down shirt. The man started to put on a pea coat (it was much colder in New Jersey than it had been in Florida) and was walking towards his car.
“Da-,” I stopped myself. “Trevor?” The word fell out my lips like an extra kernel falls out of an overstuffed popcorn bag. He turned his head to look at me. He squinted his eyes, adjusting his glasses. “Sam?” he said finally, walking over to me. “Holy sh-,” his hands dropped to his side. We stood there, the both of us, silently for quite some time. This man, I thought, is half of me. This man in front of me is a part of my creation, an equal fraction of my genesis. He walked up to me, wrapped his arms around me, and squeezed. “She let you come up here? All by yourself?” My dad spoke as he drank black coffee out of a beige mug. He decided that he would stay home from work today. Work, which was apparently as a security guard at the Philadelphia International Airport. He worked odd shifts, he said. I was lucky that I caught him. “Yeah, I mean, she wasn’t the happiest about it,” I replied. “Neither was grandpa.” “Ron and I never did see eye to eye.” My father spoke, a bit of laughter behind his voice. However, his jovial nature didn’t last long. “Look, Sam, I’m just happy you’re here. I’m sure you’ve got a lot of questions. But I just want to say first that I love your mother, I always did. I’ve been calling Michelle for years, on Christmas, on your birthday. She won’t ever pick up. And when she does, she damn sure won’t let me talk to you.” I pushed the eggs around my plate with a fork. There’s something about that rare place that serves all-day breakfast that makes you feel obligated to get it, even if it isn’t the appropriate time for it. “I never knew that,” I said. “I didn’t expect that she would tell you. It was…” He paused for a moment, putting more salt on his hash browns. “It was hard. Michelle and I, we tried, we really did. I wanted to be there, I wanted to.” He stopped. “Then why did you leave?” This time, it was less like popcorn and more like Skittles that you can’t open, so you pull, and you pull, and eventually it tears and there are little colorful hard-shell candies scattered everywhere. “It’s not that simple, Sam.” He spoke now with more resolve, more intention in his voice. “It never has been. I had my reasons. Your mother isn’t the easiest person to deal with. And her parents, they always hated me.” He stopped for a moment, noticing the over-poured syrup that now drenched his single remaining hotcake. He put down his fork and took a deep breath. “Look, it was just too hard.” He took a moment to clear his throat. “It was too hard not work
ing, and seeing your mom work like that just to raise you, to support you, and knowing that I had nothing to offer. It was too hard to think that you would grow up, and you would see me, a me, a waste, a parasite, and think that was what a man should be. So I left. And I said that I wouldn’t come back until I was able to stand on my own, and to love myself, and to think enough of myself that I was able to raise a child. And here we are now, 15 years later.” The tears began to run down my father’s cheeks. And for the first time in my life, I felt sorry for him. “I don’t know what to say,” I replied. “You don’t have to say anything. I just want to help you understand.” He answered, grabbing my hand with his and offering me the only thing that I wasn’t able to get for over 15 years: a smile. “Look, dad. There’s something that I have to tell you,” I said as we walked outside of the restaurant and back into our respective cars. I had followed him to the diner, his favorite in an area with no shortage of 24-hour eateries. “I’m changing my name,” I started, without looking at his face, “I’m changing my last name to Mom’s. I’m eighteen now. I decided a while ago.” “Is that what you came here to tell me?” he said, grabbing my arm. “Yeah,” I said. “I think so.” “Well a name is just a name, Sam. If you want to change, you do it. Don’t let me or anybody else stop you.” He put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed it firmly. “I’ve been trying to change for years. Don’t let anything stop you from being exactly what you want to be. I stopped by my grandfather’s house to stay the night before I left for home the next morning. “So how is the bastard?” My grandpa asked as he opened the ragged screen door. “Hey,” I couldn’t help but laugh as I spoke, “I resent that terminology.” I followed my grandpa into the kitchen where he pulled two non-alcoholic beers out of the fridge and handed one to me. “Well, as long as you’re doing okay, Sam.” Grandpa spoke as he took a long drink. I opened the can and tried to copy him, regrettably, and almost choked. It tasted like dirty water and seltzer. “Resentment is a bitch.” I knew that I needed to call Mom, but I decided to wait so that I could be alone with my thoughts for a few hundred miles. As I headed south down I-95, I couldn’t help but notice the technicolor leaves falling all around me. I couldn’t help but feel like autumn had just begun.
Portraits of Light and Space
Joaquin Croxatto Paintings
I work through a set of geometric limitations that will suggest the viewer the complete idea, building through a pattern to the fundamental visual recognition. I have to be ordained many layers of information to achieve the effect of an harmonious complexity. My method needs to be consistent and slow paced, using oil paint that has its own drying rate. Starting with a precise grid and a toned canvas, I state and re-state chalk drawings based on sketches, setting the value composition of the overall piece with transparent under paintings. The color key needs to satisfy me by being different to all previous but remain shocking.
Aligned Micheal Hower Photography
Hillbilly Curious Appalachian full monte I Margaret Meaded It from California To West Virginia As a health policy Consultant, got Nakedly honest in Cucumber with one cool Blood hacking dude Uriah Heep Heap of Coalworkerâ€™s lung A.k.a. Pneumoconiosis Who was permanently Fucked up Destined to Die from slags plus Oxycontin before he reached Sixty because POTUS XLV 72% of Mountain Staters Voted for Promised to Reopen them their Mines down there Even though those Jobs no longer Exist after which my Flight back to LAâ€™s Smog and marijuana Left.
~ Gerard Sarnat
No swirling violence extended, or destruction significant to retire her name. No dangerous sustained winds, or greenish funnel clouds that survivors relived for days, or with damage, years. No sirens, or warnings. Not a gentle breeze carrying the scent of spring honeysuckle. Neither the blackened blue sky of predawn, nor the brilliant blue of an afternoon in July. She is neither storm nor clear skies. Cloud cover. She is the Northwestern overcast of her hometown. A human cloud that registers on no oneâ€™s radar. A sunless, opaque invisibility, too far to touch or be touched. It is a dangerous predicament Mother Nature put her in. Color cannot permeate the gray that was her upbringing. The twilight orange brilliance of the sunâ€™s awakenings and farewells are not seen through the haze she was raised to be. Without pain or pleasure she exists.
you twist the numbers, you blur the truth with plastic Paula Rae Gibson Photography
On Loss and Grief Zach Tamer
We never truly get past the loss of a loved one but somehow we adjust and change as life changes around us. Things that once only existed on our periphery take on new meaning, they become spots of light to which we gravitate or voids of darkness in which we wallow or avoid all together. As time goes on that light filters in, seeps into the gaps and suddenly the shadows begin to dissipate. There is a Khalil Gibran quote that speaks to me in times of loss "Sadness is but a wall between two gardens". This quote like many others can be interpreted in many ways and can take on new meaning in different moments of our lives. No matter what religion you follow, what spiritual path you take, you will invariably get lost. Even those that claim to have it all put together and put their faith fully in a higher power will find themselves on their knees at some point in life. There will be times when all of us are just children stumbling lost upon this earth. Don t be afraid to ask for help, don't be afraid to be the person that reaches out and lends a helping hand. We may not have the answers but it is better to stumble together than to fall alone. Sometimes we can't see beyond the wall without a little boost, someone to hold us up, to carry us, to help us realize there is more than this seeming impenetrable sadness. I am not a very religious person, I'm more spiritual I suppose. It has always helped me along the way to think of those I have lost as becoming a part of everything. The salty breeze coming off the coast, the beauty of a sunset, the rain that soaks the ground, the resultant budding flowers, the soft untouched snow in the quiet hours of the morning all offer solace, light and comfort. Feel the pain, the anger, the moments of despair. Let yourself go through the gamut but do not linger too long, do not get lost in the darkness, because just beyond that wall is a garden that still needs tending.
Dillon Samuelson Oil
Two by Danny P. Barbare
Lonely Times I have my poems to shun lifeâ€™s winter cold to taste the plump and juicy blackberries and make the azaleas bloom.
Snow At the front door, Iâ€™d like to write about a memory, because the snow has not been trod upon as if it wants to hear the crunch of boots and fill gloved hands with its soft whiteness.
Micheal Hower Photography
A Fredericksburg Mosaic Pete Morelewicz / Printjazz Digital Art
First Impression (series)
Pete Morelewicz / Printjazz Letterpress
Elena Penelope Bonnier Paraskevas Don Anawalt Painting
BYZANTINE SHORTCUTS Don Anawalt
I heard the car door shut, a distinctive sound in the evening, a sound of total definition like a plate breaking on the floor of a busy restaurant. I had a momentary thought, maybe one or two seconds, long enough to say: "She's late again; it's seven thirty. She's taken another one of her Byzantine Shortcuts." Then a second thought came with the same electric distinction of consciousness: she is not coming home again. She has been dead now for six months; you have to stop this nonsense; get on with your life. You might be wondering: What is a Byzantine Shortcut? No one seems to understand, but how could they? First you must know my wife was Greek, a fact she always altered by saying she was American with Greek heritage. Over the years I realized this was false, confirmed by her last days in the hospital when the social worker asked for religious preference. I said, "None." She said: "Greek Orthodox!" Later I found the record of her baptism on a yellowed parchment paper. It was printed in Greek. I recognized the name at the bottom: Elena Penelope Bonnier Paraskevas, with an ink print of her delicate new born foot. Although she never went to church, the term orthodoxy has a specific meaning here. The dictionary defines the term: "Pertaining to, or conforming to the approved form of any doctrine, philosophy, ideology, or conforming to beliefs, attitudes or modes of conduct that are generally approved, customary or conventional as a means or method - established." Take religion out of this; insert Greek consciousness Paraskevas style, and you will be taking the first step in having some assessment of the truth. It is good if this sounds confusing, for one must realize confusion is extremely important to having an unequivocal understanding of the term Byzantine Shortcuts. This term did not come into being im
mediately. It took time to establish. One could not say hard work and discipline is part of the equation here, but certainly a lot of gas, money and baklava was. My first experience with one of my wife's shortcuts happened years ago. We were downtown, and it was time to go home, a drive that would normally take thirty minutes. She said, "I know a better way that will get us home in about the same time and is safer and more interesting. I know the way better than you. I have taken it many times." Her voice was reassuring, and I loved being with her anyway. I said jokingly, "Let us go, Sailing To Byzantium." Little did I know my joke was prophetic; and while I was thinking Yeats, she was thinking Galactoboureko. So it was; and like Jackie Gleason in a comedy routine: "And away we go." We sailed off through the streets of Sacramento in our Grand Marquis. Just go down Alhambra, right on J street, left on 23rd, follow that out to Capital, and turn right on 52nd, take the alley behind the apartments and you will come out at H which is one way; flip a U back to 53rd. Suddenly we were in a section of Sacramento I had never seen before. "Look at these beautiful old buildings, and just over there is the old governor's mansion." It rose up in front of us, the epitome of Victorian architecture. "Let's stop at the Bistro at 54th and H streets. They make a great moussaka, and I want some Greek olives and filo." We sat in the garden court, seeking shade from the Sacramento sun. We finished with a cappuccino and split a baklava, fresh out of the oven. The odor of honey, nuts and butter, the aromatic blend of espresso, hovered above us like a chariot from the Happy Isles. I read her a poem. She loved that line from Ulysses: "The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks. The long 177
deep moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, Tis not too late to seek a newer world. Push off, and sitting well in order smite the sounding furrows. For my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars, until I die." After a brief stop at the boutique next door, she wanted to drive. We went down S Street, out to highway 80, ignoring our usual exit, she took a dilapidated back road to Roseville as a workman waved his hands and pointed to a detour sign. "I thought we were going home?" "We will get there in due time. First, I want to show you the new fountains at the Galleria." I took note of how getting home "at about the same time," now became, "due time." I remembered her family saying, "Seek pleasure and avoid pain." Fortified with this altered perspective, I watched the fountains shoot water fifty feet into the air as the music played the first movement of Beethoven's 5th. How unusual it was they should choose that music, and I said to her: "Holy bananas, I can see three Gs and an E flat floating on air." I could always say things like that to her and she would understand. It was understood that as I made compensations for her behavior, she made compensations for mine. Soon it was time for tea and another dessert. We stopped at Whole Foods and picked up some feta, an organic chicken and lemons for her favorite soup of Avgolemono. We arrived home at 7:30. A trip that would normally take thirty minutes took six and a half hours. This was my first experience with what became known over the years as a Byzantine Shortcut. Certainly logic will tell you it took eleven times longer to get home. But that is logic time. Greek-Paraskevas time is a different level of consciousness one has to experience to understand. Arriving home at 7:30 was in a sense about the same as 1:30, or as my wife succinctly stated, "due time." What was urgent at 1:30 was assuaged by pleasure and events until the urgency passed. 178
Certainly this is a different concept of time which, as we move through space, and time is a measurement relative to velocity, and in the realm of human experience altered by pleasure until fast becomes slow. I doubt Archimedes or Euclid would believe this; but who knows, Einstein might, know ing that he said part of his genius was preserving the child within him. A possible formula might be: [seek pleasure + avoid pain] X [the square root of minus one] = Byzantine Shortcuts. And certainly he would understand the proof of such a theory could take many years. So now you know, if not the whole truth, at least the beginning of understanding the maddening, confusing, and sometimes lovable phenomenon known as a Byzantine Shortcut. I walked down the hall and looked out the window. The Grand Marquis was parked in the driveway. I thought of our many trips together, as if Ulysses was sailing through the streets. Nothing is left now. The intrepid statue of Poseidon that leaned into the wind is gone. The egg and dart molding that ran bow to stern has all its energy of white and blue drained out of it. The sails, the mast, flags that danced like Mercury in yellow and red, are gone. And then, as always, the second thought: You have to stop this nonsense. No sooner was the thought out, and I saw just a car: a Ford, four wheels, plastic and chrome with a V-8. As I walked away I swear the front headlights looked at me like a person giving a distrustful glance at something unknown standing just out of sight. A voice spoke, as if from some hidden power under the hood. "It's not the time of arrival, but the pleasure and meaning in getting there. I still have a hundred thousand miles left here. We did it once; we can do it again." Maybe that old saying is true: "God does not want us to be happy, he just wants us to grow up." I climbed inside and drove away. I reached for her sitting next to me, like a man with a phantom limb.
John Cullen Proof A study in England argues smokers tingle reading cautions on packets of tobacco. Warned, we want more smoke, more fire and nicotine lighting up the neural pathway, injecting risk into our system. But itâ€™s not only smokers who smoke. We all burn like heaped kindling, embracing what loves us to death. We ignite ourselves, momentarily blinded.
The Egg Man Waits Here is hope! An 80 year old man in baggy pants with suspenders perches on a dusty lawn chair in front of his trailer, a sign offering eggs at ninety cents a dozen. Fifty feet away, the highway cuts four lanes through what was once his front yard. He feels the breeze of speeding trucks. Since the casino opened, three crucifixes mark nearby traffic fatalities, one with a pink ribbon and another with a stuffed teddy tied to the crossbar. The traffic kicks up dust, too fast and constant for anyone with the sense to pull over.
My neighbor lifts his buck knife to cut the dog loose from the clothes line wrapped around his neck. Maybe he saved the dog, or maybe he almost suffocated from strangulation. All this uncertainty from a pronoun, mislaid commas, and the line. Perhaps nothing happened at all? But I will tell you this for a fact. The dog was a beagle.
After Joan Eardley Judith Skillman Oil
Riding Lightning to Salvation You’ve got your puppets on fishing wire, thrown over shoulders like chains as you lead them down the desert like Rock and Roll Suicide. That burden on your back with your Mary, Mary kisses all over the lepers, making Jesus blush. Lazarus rises Just to see a peek of those thighs Milky cream, Rebel, Rebel In the bottle of a babe. The manger ain’t the same With your briar-bush locks cascading down, down Piercing all the virgins so you can drink your crimson. The fountain of youth got nothin’ on you China Girl. How you cradle them all with your cigarette tongue dumping ashes on their foreheads. Easter rabbit wench. Take communion off your collar bone and pray that God has mercy for your Life on Mars.
~ Meaghan Rhymer
A Good Mail Day Donna Hopkins “I've always felt there is something sacred in a piece of paper that travels the earth from hand to hand, head to head, heart to heart.” ~ Robert Michael Pyle, Sky Time in Gray's River: Living for Keeps in a Forgotten Place
Without setting out to do so, I’ve embarked on a project, making many photographs of mailboxes. I made my first mailbox picture when we were home visiting family in the small town of Colonial Beach in Virginia’s Northern Neck. Needing a break from the family part of the family reunion, I took a walk with my camera in hand. It seemed nothing much had changed in the town, and this observation mirrored my feelings over family dynamics. But looking through the camera lens can make common subjects fresh. The row of mailboxes alongside what used to be the pharmacy, just across from the old Esso gas station, caught my attention. The day was sunny and the dappled light framing the mailboxes seemed an open invitation. Inspired, I walked across the road and photographed the leading line of the mailboxes. I tried to make sense of which mailboxes and houses might go together, but they seemed oddly disconnected. And for as many times as I’ve reached into a mailbox for good mail, these mailboxes seemed desperately empty.
From this humble place, I began a collection. I’ve accumulated more than a dozen photographs of mailboxes taken within an hour’s drive from my home. The photographs in this series document moments when light and subject converge in a particular place, calling for attention, and infusing familiar scenes with meaning. Most come from rural routes and country roads, a few from small towns and cities, but none from subdivisions with mandated mailbox conformity. These mailboxes sit on stoops. They perch on single poles before white picket fences. They line up at trailer parks and campgrounds. They welcome visitors to farms and old home places. They dot the sides of winding back roads and mark dead ends with no turn-arounds. Every home has a mailbox and in some manner, the mailbox, sits as a testament to faith as though we need to believe good news might arrive any day.
Mailboxes stand as a kind of sanctuary against change. Our conversations are now mostly by way of email and texting, but for all the connection the internet provides we are still often left lonely and lost and longing. Walking to the mailbox is a daily meditation for many folks. The quarter mile down the lane, along the wire fence nearly covered in poke weed, leads to the galvanized metal mailbox, where hope is delivered. In my own home, we race to see who can get to the mail first. Even though the mail is mostly junk, we live for the days when the mail has real handwritten letters and cards for us. We recall with joy the college acceptance letters, with solace the cards that came when my father passed away, and with gratitude the notes of encouragement that arrived when cancer made itself at home with us. Delivered directly to me by the Postal Service, thankyouâ€™s and invitations along with postcards and letters keep me in good company. The miles between are dissolved by the simple act of raising the flag for outgoing mail.
When I stop and think about why I photograph mailboxes, the answer is fairly simple. I guess I just like the idea of mail.
Sunset Limited He arrived at the station after hours in the Observation Car. Seat tilted back, he watched the moon begin to rise over a dying sun. Just like marriage, he thought, one hand guarding the scotch-rocks on his armrest from passengers with no sense of space, no sense of self, their briefcases swinging wide as they looked for a seat. There are no coincidences, he thought, as he Mona-Lisa-smiled at the woman who gently sat across from him. No need for conversation— neither of them, merely a reminder that red hair doesn’t always mean wife or Edward Hopper sadness, that looking up doesn’t leave you open to furtive glances, the measure of you being taken, a peek at your ring finger, a guess of your bank account—anemic and embarrassing. Just a silent fellow traveler with no agenda, who does not care that you’ll be paying off yesterday for ages, that your name is not proffered, that no one awaits at your stop... the unspoken bones of kindness a reminder that backstory never need be shared, only lived, and quiet is both blessing and a hymn for more than you may know.
Ode to a Winter Night These hands. Tea-stained, arthritic, stubborn as the stars that bloom night after night. Neither rest easy or well. What is time in the face of all seasons? Fall turns to winter. Trees gleam auburn before turning bare. These hands beckon: come closer friend. Set with me by the fire. Let’s toast to a life full-lived. Our merlot flickers shadows over our faces. Whispered secrets trace the echoes of night. Calm hands, smooth skin— I kiss your closing eyes.
Jocelyn’s Victory She tried to fix in her mind the last town that kept her awhile. It may have been Seville, the small room near the river that shouldered the city in halves, pistachio-colored walls a perfect foil for bright red tomatoes and white manchego— she ate the Italian flag most days, in her room, on her bed, washing machine chugging on the roof playing jazz, her view of the narrow alley from the window. If she ever felt alone she had the blue hands of the gentle breeze to touch her face, the bartender at the corner to chat her up along with morning churros y chocolate and appraising eye, the crowds of women into which she could disappear as they ran their daily errands, or stopped into church to light a candle. She did that too; she prayed for the echo of the river to heal her heartbreak, for the full moon to bear the aching beauty of what might have been, for the courage to return to the city awaiting her like a jailor. But not today. On this impressionist painting of an afternoon she chose a direction and walked, time stitched into the cobblestones of gray streets, sunlight dimmed between narrow roads as if shrouded in crepe… the calendar counting down with flawless measure.
Purpose Kathy Cable Smaltz Prince William County Poet Laureate
Wildflowers Have Their Own Appeal Wildflowers have their own appeal – Scruffy bunches scattered ‘round more civilized tulips, lilies. Weren’t these ruffians once the only kind of flowers? Messy majesty, tussled tendrils make Crazy flower crowns. Wildflowers have their own appeal. Before the English gardens – Neat, clipped, tamed rows, alternating plants and space Weren’t these ruffians once they only kind of flowers? Unruly lovers of the nature that bred them Seeds strewn about by orgies of wind and pollen Wildflowers have their own appeal Wildflowers appeal to our sense of freedom. No one asks them, “Who do you think you are?” Weren’t they once the only kind of flowers anyway? These flowers sometimes mistaken for weeds, unworthy bedfellows, primoridal persistence through cracks Wildflowers have their own appeal for once, They were the only kind of flower.
~ Kathy Cable Smaltz 188
Kathy Smaltz’s tenure as Prince William County’s Poet Laureate for 2017-2018 is an example of a local community being a resourceful steward in the promotion of literacy among its citizens. When PWC named its first poets laureate for a 2014-2016 tenure, shared by Robert Scott and Zan Hailey, it was the culmination of efforts by a group of literature-loving community members to bridge and connect through literacy outreach and ambassadorship. Community sponsored events have anchored the brand further. There is the Poet Laureate Circle, which invites applicants to the post, and current and former poets laureate to meet monthly to share their work and plan projects. According to Smaltz, June Forte of Write By the Rails began the event (with the partnership of host, The Hylton Performing Arts Center), after which Write by the Rails passed it on as a joint venture among The Prince William County Arts Council, the Poet Laureate Circle, the Clearbrook Foundation, and the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Smaltz says, "Alice Mergler and Cathy Hailey did the lions’ share of the work this past year." Local writers like Robert Scott and John Dutton are making their mark with writing groups and open community projects. Scott started Open Mic at Deja Brew in Warrenton as an outreach effort of the group he founded, Piedmont Writers, which Dutton attended. Dutton, in turn, established a monthly open mic event for poets and writers called Spilled Ink, held the third Friday of each month at Jirani Coffee House in Manassass. The Poet Laureate Circle meets there before open mic. With the advent of local writers establishing literary outlets for PWC’s communities, Smaltz says her tenure as the current poet laureate is streamlined and that networking is a snap. Her job as a teacher in the county further affords her the opportunity to reach young people through programs integrated into the schools, like the seminar on poetry and voice she lead at Colgan High School last February. Smaltz is also involved with Rising Writers, an youth-centered offshoot of Write by the Rails, and she is talking with local libraries to broaden her reach beyond the school system and the writing clubs. She says, “The libraries are a great asset to any mentoring organization. It is in their mission to serve the community through literacy. Strategically, the libraries are a good place to start for outreach to varying cross sections of the community.”
After the painting Susanna and the Elders, by Artemesia Gentileschi
I want to be a man, want to know what that locus of power feels like nestled between my legs. It’s not that I want to be the lecherous elders bending too close to Susanna, their fine robes billowed out over their shoulders so completely clothed next to her nakedness. Rather, I want to be the man who sneaks up behind them, delivers a murderous blow to the back of their heads and whispers to Susanna, “It’s safe now to bathe. Breathe in, exhale, bathe as you were a child in the wood without a care. You need not cover up or look over your shoulder. No one will rape you and say you asked for it, wanted it, the mere curves of your body a come-on for lecherous old men. I stand guard at the garden’s gate. No thing will harm you.”
~ Kathy Cable Smaltz
Smaltz realizes that two years will pass in a flash, so she’s not squandering her time as poet laureate. She says, “It takes a while to fully reach one’s vision, and I plan to continue working on it long beyond the time when another laureate is appointed. The most exciting part of the work is that I get to talk and network with people. Through this position, I can reach out to more cross sections of our community, especially people who might not have given poetry much thought. Connecting with my neighbors through poetry is the best part of the job.”
Jeffrey Alfier Fragment: Petaluma, California A homeless man passed me in the gray morning light on the path above a creek at the edge of town. He passed poplars. Wildflowers. Passed the emerald curve of the creek, an immaculate white crane.
San Bernardino County Unincorporated Three decades with Southern Pacific, he lives off railroad relief, hunts black-tail and mule deer to fill the vacant hours. A flask of Johnny Walker steadies the rifle in his hands. His eyes strain for clarity like birds through smoke. A fresh wind launches south. It starts in the dead river he walks, sand heavy with nothing but light. Distance is beaten by dust devils that will outlive everything. Caught in the grit they whirl against foothills, a highway map, still folded, refuses to be read.
Cirque Goes to the City Cheryl Eggleston Alkyd
Sandra Manigault Modern Romance Writing What was the genesis of VANESSA - a Love Story? You mentioned something to me about taking a writing class. I was taking my second or third writing class at Northern Virginia Community College, and what is interesting is that, at the time, I was teaching at NOVA, too; however I was on the Annandale campus, and the course I took was on Manassas campus. The teacher knew who I was, but the students did not, and I wanted it like that. Most were twenty-somethings, with a few older students thrown in, and I was just one of the older students in class. All they knew is that this older lady was in class with them. Our professor, Professor Laura Casal, is a phenomenal, empowering teacher. I say that because not everyone can teach creativity. It’s one thing to say you're going to teach English or you're going to teach art, but teaching creativity is a very special gift if you can do it well, and she does it well. Professor Cassel would give us interesting homework assignments, one of which was a list of things you could write about for the next week. I chose to write a scene in which sex was or was not the inevitable outcome, and I chose where it was, which was fun. That eventually became the first two chapters of what is now VANESSA - a Love Story. The chapters stood very well on their own, and when I asked her 192
and another student, "Does this sound like it's moving in the direction of a typical romantic novel?” They both responded, “No.” As the book evolved over the next several months outside of her class, I recognized it was not going on the trajectory of your typical romantic novel, because I think those kind of evolve by a certain formula. You have prescribed and predictable plot points, and most end the same way. Mine does not.
Describe the difference. What are some things that make it stand out? I would categorize it as just Women's Fiction. It's got secondary agendas. There is a very strong educational component to it. The woman who is the lead character is a psychology professor, and you see her in her element and interacting with her colleagues. The differences are evident from the beginning when it opens at a poetry reading. That places it in the context of a university and moves it from there. In other romantic novels I've read, you don't see the person's craft in play. You know what they do because the author tells you what they do, but you don't see them doing it as you do in Vanessa. The relationship also doesn’t evolve, nor resolve in a typical fashion. In fact, as I was writing, I realized the book really could have ended in one of three different ways, and I chose one that was atypical.
What did you enjoy most about writing it? Characters? Plot? I think capturing the energy of the man she fell in love with. He had a certain energy. In writing it, I could sense his energy as much as I could see the person.
Interesting. Sometimes character development is so connected to us personally. Do you think the energy was coming from something you were exploring within yourself? No, I think it was just something that was easy to capture, in other words he was a certain type of man. And what I've noticed over the months of people buying this book, reading it, and liking it, is that it took me a while to recognize that something's going on here. People are telling me that they pick it up and they can't put it down or that they read it in one or two days, and it’s surprising to me. It occurred to me that Miguel is kind of an archetype. He is a man that I believe every woman meets at least once in her life.
Ok, you’ve caught my interest. Some women might meet that type of man two or three times in their lives. I think that is part of the draw. I'm not saying it's a generic pattern, but as an archetype this particular type of man interacts with women a certain way. He’s a good seducer. One of the things that stands out is how the seduction actually takes place. He is always calling her name, keeping that connection between them strong.
Is that something you’ve made him do purposefully, or is that part of his nature that evolved through character development? I don't know, but it's kind of hypnotic if you're listening to it. Especially if you like the sound of his voice.
Which you could hear inside of your head as you were developing his character? Well, Vanessa can definitely hear it. He's a charismatic character, too. He’s talented. When you are meeting people who are generally talented at something artistic, they have a certain draw. Whether they're actors, or singers, or other types of musicians, there’s a charisma. In this case, Miguel is an artist and poet. So, what did I enjoy most? Probably developing Vanessa and Miguel’s relationship.
After having had this experience of learning from a gifted teacher of creativity, and then continuing the process of writing this novel, what advice would you give people who might want to write themselves? Is there something universal that people could take away from your experiences? I think two-fold. First of all, people need to decide what they are going to write and how they will stay motivated. One way is to find the right kinds of things to read that help them write effectively, systematically, and in a way that will inspire. I did that first by taking a creativity course back in 1995 where we used the textbook The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. It was in a class in Arlington taught by a man named Jim Bridy, an excellent instructor who was a writer himself. I remember people dropping out of the class and not doing the exercises, but I was consistent. I went there as much as I could and I worked my way through the book. It made a big difference, because it gave me incentive to write my first book which was a nonfiction book about math empowerment. The takeaway from that course was you write every day, not necessarily on your book, but you journal every day. Journaling wipes writer's block off the table. It becomes a non-existent thing. Another thing I learned from reading Julia Cameron’s book was that you should write longhand and you shouldn't write and edit at the same time. That was very meaningful in terms of how I wrote my first three books. When you are writing nonfiction, which is what I’ve written up to this point, you may have an idea of what you want to write. Because it's going to be finalized as discrete chapters, you should also be willing to write wherever you are at the moment. If you want to write about something that's going to be in chapter two, then write it. If you want to write about something that may not show up until chapter seven, then you should write it and not try and go in order. That’s too limiting. It restricts your own creativity as it unfolds. Writing fiction, however, was different. I realized my process for writing fiction is not typical of fiction writers. Most fiction writers have an outline and then they might write this section or that section and then put the pieces together and weld everything together at a later time. But I write my fiction linearly, because the characters evolve linearly.
You've got something there, especially if you're telling a story in chronological order. I would tend to agree that writer’s block can be an excuse, but other times people have a real struggle to move forward. They aren’t sure where to take the writing next. Did you experience any of that as you were writing, or did Vanessa flow naturally for you? There were stops and starts in this novel. I did the first two chapters at NOVA. Then the semester ended, after which I took a course at The Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland and had a totally different kind of teacher. It wasn’t as effective and I had a hard time moving the book forward. One thing I did take away from that course was the old adage, “Show, don’t tell.” It took me a while to grasp that and how one does that, but I think one of the strong points in Vanessa - a Love Story is that there is a lot of “show me” in there. One of the pieces of feedback I've received from the people that read it is that they felt they were right there with the characters in the action. That's what I want to hear. Regarding feeling blocked, one of the things I did while writing the draft of the sequel to Vanessa was to look at my characters from the outside and ask myself, “Is this realistic? Would she really do this, say this? Is this consistent with her character, or his personality?" I would sit down at my desk to journal, and rather than journaling I would find myself writing a letter to my character. Isn’t that peculiar? As if my character were a person.
Right, to see what kind of response you find within yourself. What this allowed me to do was to give them more depth and to also pull more truth out of the situation. So, there’s another tip for when an author feels blocked. Another thing that helped alleviate blocks was to write the sequel on an iPad. It produces a whole different experience, because it's so easy to tweak and fix and move words around. You're writing and editing at the same time, which is a no-no, but at the same time you're also in the position to have your iPad on your lap at all times. Mine was, every day, and I would write whenever the mood struck, even if it was just two paragraphs. Sometimes, writing a conversation between your characters will recharge the action of the story. So, even if you think you're blocked, you don't have to stay blocked.
It comes down to acknowledging that you have strong characters and something to say. It's very important for a person who is going to write to trust themselves. The best writers are intuitive writers. It's important not to try and imitate what someone else does. Although I read a lot of books and I have my favorite authors, I don't try to imitate how anyone else writes. By not imitating writers are going to get a lot more out of themselves, including their own unique voices.
Develop their own voice… They'll find their voice, and they'll find their characters. The other thing is when people also write I think they also need to be prepared to find unique ways to market their books. That's something many new writers struggle with. It's very difficult to find the publisher, and almost unheard of to find the big publisher who's going to make them a bestseller. Of course, everyone wants to believe what they've written is so special that they're going to be bestsellers. In reality, there are a handful who rise to the top of their game.
That's very true. Even when traditionally published, an author can’t just sit back once they’ve written something and expect people to come to them. The random discovery is very rare these days. It's a hustle, and you have to get out there and really promote yourself, which is hard for a lot of people. True, sometimes. The other thing is a writer should have a great website. That helps a lot.
You had to learn a lot about marketing yourself as you started writing and publishing. I am still learning and it's not easy to create the following you want. But if you've got a product that people like, then it behooves you to go out and find a way to make sure that you get their attention and keep it.
Follow Sandra L. Manigault online at www.sandralynnlegacies.com/books/
from VANESSA - a Love Story by Sandra L. Manigault
In this excerpt, taken from chapter 2, Vanessa, a young psychology professor, has arranged to meet Miguel, a poet and artist, to see some of his art that is awaiting exhibition. She is nervously waiting for him in the lobby of his hotel while thinking of their meeting the night before.
Miguel appeared to react to her energy last night, or more specifically to the energy that seemed to exist between them, so she thought. But had he also cautiously concealed any presumed interest in her, given the presence of the others at the impromptu supper that followed his reading? Although Vanessa’s eyes were riveted on his face, he conversed casually, spiritedly, emphatically with everybody, as he discussed art in politics and politics in poetry. He was the consummate artist, and she was now consumed with him. The ornate lobby bustled with people confirming their reservations and seeking information. Vanessa sat tensely in a red velvet winged back chair, physically comfortable but emotionally knotted. She felt beautiful and vulnerable. Her hair hung in gentle tendrils like little flowers draping her face. Her body was warmly wrapped in soft moss green wool, a one-piece body of a dress that screamed for attention. Black stockings and pumps completed her outfit. She reached into a black velour purse for her compact. She checked out well: skin smooth, eyes bright, lips reddened, just like last night’s wine. She could not face the elevators. She would seem too anxious. When the elevators chimed, she was not surprised that he caressed her shoulders ‘hello.’ "Have you been waiting long?" Miguel's eyes met her lips. "No, actually, I haven't." She smiled. "You look wonderful." His eyes swept her face, hair, neck, and dress. "So do you," Vanessa returned, enjoying his deliberate attention. "Come. I made reservations for dinner." Miguel reached for her hand and she gave it to him and stood. He talked while leading them into the Blue Peacock. "Are you very hungry?" "Only sometimes," she flirted. "That could get dangerous." He met the look behind her eyes, appearing to savor the energy that she generated. "But," she said, "Only if this is one of those times." "It is."
Joey Frye Perspective is Everything
The sign hanging behind Joey Frye’s display at a
recent local arts festival reads “ARTism” with the slogan, “Ideas Transformed into Magical Art for You and Other Awesome People.” When chatting with Frye, that same sense of wonderment glosses his words, wonder at the reception his illustrations have received over the past two years, wonder at the condition he views as a gift, and wonder at the impact his work has had on his patrons.
In 2015, Joey Frye fell ill with Type 1 Diabetes.
He and his family felt the weight of this diagnosis keenly, as he had been living with Asperger syndrome all of his life, and this seemed yet another complication on his road toward independence. When a friend of Frye’s mother learned of his illness, she commissioned a piece of art from him to lift his spirits. Frye, an avid illustrator, gladly accepted the job and discovered that his unique perspective through Aspergers made for compelling artwork. ARTism was born, an enterprise that has earned Frye accolades and an ever-growing audience of patrons in the Fredericksburg region.
Frye’s extremely literal compound illustrations
translate to surreal worlds on paper through imagery that creates just enough visual disonance to give pause to the viewer. The results are humorous, whimsical, and sometimes dark.
He says, “I see words very literally, so when I hear
compound words, the image from those words are exactly as they are in life. Take my character “crab cake.” I see a
cake, and it is a sea crab. It wouldn’t taste very good, but people think it is funny. Another is “shrimp cocktail,” a shrimp with a rooster head holding a beverage. I do a lot of fun stuff like that, but I also do dark and sad things. I have had commissions to remember young people who have died, and the people I make them for weep when they see them. Those are really hard ones. I guess I try to take the three or four things people love and make a memory for them.”
Frye considers his Asperger syndrome a tool and a
gift. He says, “I see things that other people can’t see. I am also spiritual and believe it is a gift for me to be able to see stuff the way I do.”
Most recently, Frye was the featured rising artist
at the Caledon State Park Art and Wine Festival, and he has been working on a series of illustrated books called The Adventures of Book and Wine that are geared toward adult readers. Frye is also considering ideas for children’s books, as he would like to parlay his artwork into publishing in the future. He would like to meet others with autism and possibly collaborate on written or art projects with them.
Frye’s mother, Caroline, notes that he has little
idea of the impact he makes on people with his personal attention to their stories and his visual truth-telling. As for Frye, he says he gets great pleasure from the measure of joy his illustrations bring to his patrons.
“My artwork makes people happy and that is a big
deal to me. I love to bring people joy, and I work hard on the details to make happy memories for them. I hope to make my gift my life’s work, because that would be lovely.”
Follow Joey Frye @ARTism by Joey on Facebook for a peek at his most recent work and endeavors. 196
Crabcake Shrimp Cocktail / Joey Frye
Around the World / Joey Frye 197
The Transition Partner Jani Scandura
We met on a whim. I had ended a short, imperfect relationship and put up a profile on a dating site. “This man or that,” the website offered, “neither or both.” I clicked on the photo on the left. He had kind eyes, a nice smile, and an enticing tag line. He had posted a picture of a tall sailing ship. I messaged him: “The ship reminds me of when I was young and lived briefly on the Baltic Sea. Tall ships came in for a festival.” He responded right away. We met that night for a drink, then dinner, then a walk along the lake and, hand-in-hand, out onto the docks. He had moved to the U.S. from Europe on an athletic scholarship and stayed to become a surgeon. He loved to ski and sail. He spoke three languages; collected antique cameras; knew old movies; was a music connoisseur. He had three sons: a stepchild in his twenties, two younger boys closer to the age of my own. He kissed me. It felt like coming home. We were too old for the schmaltz of romantic comedy; and I had had too many years of psychotherapy not to question quick connections. But it was less like the jolt of lust than the recognition of a kindred soul. “You taste good,” he said. We spoke easily, laughed loudly, teased each other fondly from the start. Still, we had, of course, just met. I was his first date since college. He was separated from his wife. “What does ‘separated’ mean?” I asked. “Well, we haven’t spoken in 14 months,” he replied. “But is it really over?” The question lingered. We had sex on the second date. I was the first woman other than his wife he had slept with in 25 years. He had met her the summer before he began medical school; she was younger, an undergraduate with an infant son. He soon fell in love with them both. “No drama,” he told me later. “She was never easy, but it was easy.” She didn’t work, worried about her sons, breastfed each until age four. She seemed to court minor disaster. He thought she was beautiful. He loved her, just because. Yes, they had been fighting. One day, she kicked him out. I sympathized. I had loved and lost. I had reached the age when being not married had morphed into having never married. I had not truly loved someone for 20 years, not even the father of my son. I had always had a career. My son tells me I am “independent.” I have traveled the world alone; bought and renovated two houses alone; was pregnant in Paris, alone. I returned to the U.S. to give birth; my best friend cut the chord. My son slept at home with the nanny while I worked. I won a fellowship and dragged my son, then four, to Europe for 18 months, toting a duffel bag of trains and tracks. His father drifted in and out, leaving chaos and confusion in his wake. “You didn’t get married,” a friend commented, “but somehow you had to get divorced.”
I had made peace with my past before I met this man with the impish grin and gentle hands. He, more recently wounded, was hesitant. “What’s the worst that will happen?” he asked convincing himself. “We’ll have a great two week affair.” I fell quickly, unexpectedly, completely. He made me laugh, retrieved the free-spirited me I had forgotten existed. He watched me with tenderness, touched when we were close, combined an Old World courtesy with New World zest. He seemed an amalgamation of the men I had been attracted to in my youth (tall, athletic, funny) and the man I needed now (gentle, honest, smart). I loved how devoted he was to his boys, how my son connected with him. We had breakfast in a diner. I cut his son’s pancakes; he shared jokes with mine. I glimpsed a fantasy of family life I didn’t know I had. I knew by then I would never have a baby with a man I loved. I would never meet someone, build a life, grow up, and grow old. We already had lives, full of complexity, memory, and vested retirement accounts. Websites warned this was a rebound. I sought counter-evidence, savoring stories of friends who had found long-term love right after a breakup. But there were other tales: In an online blog, a woman described loving a newly divorced man. After two years, he still could not commit. “Eventually,” she wrote, “he married someone else.” My stomach lurched. The divorce was nearly final. He got strep throat, tonsillitis, stomach flu. He sent me short texts: “Not ignoring you, just inside myself.” When, not infrequently, his soon-to-be ex-wife changed the parenting schedule, ranted at him on email, by telephone or text, he fell apart. For him, that meant hiding away, not talking, working too much. I brought him Coke bottled in Mexico. (“It’s made with sugar not corn syrup,” he explained). I cooked chicken potpie. I held him and held on. We watched movies, made love midway through. At times, we were voracious, at others, simply sweet. I realized slowly he was still attached. To his former life, his former love. “You’re still married,” I observed. He felt like he was cheating. “I know that’s silly,” he confessed. I told him, “I would rather have you go through this now. I will let you know if it becomes too much.” The divorce was final. He mentioned it casually, then went home and threw up for two days. He came for Christmas Eve. We ate coq au vin for breakfast. “I’m not over her yet,” he said. “Maybe if we didn’t have kids we could take a chance.” He was depressed, couldn’t sleep, cried alone, drank too much. I told him to slow down, take care of himself before making big decisions. “What if it doesn’t work?” he asked. “Then I get hurt; you get hurt; we survive,” I replied.
Slowly, he returned to life. We went to see Matisse at the museum, danced at a wedding of friends who could finally legally wed. We sailed. His ex-wife got remarried and moved away just months after the divorce. “I’m so busy, I’ve barely noticed,” he told me, then came over and clung to me in bed. He was overwhelmed, had the children almost always. His older son stopped speaking to his ex. I was patient. I know grief lets go with reticence. I chewed my nails and let him take his time. I stalked his ex-wife on Facebook. She was blonde, pretty, vivacious, Midwestern. Not like me at all. I scrolled through her profile photos, hugging her new husband, the children I now knew. Then, I found a portrait of her former family posed before a sailboat. The boys were younger, smiling. And the man I loved was mugging for the camera, content, at ease. It crushed me. My own life had turned upside down. My son’s father sued me for partial custody, though he had never paid child support nor had a stable place to live. My son was sad, struggling in school. My hesitant man held me while I cried. He read my statement for court, “Be more concise; you’re too kind.” He dropped by on his way home from surgery to fix my garage door, my electrical outlet. He picked up my son from the side of the highway and drove him to school while I waited next to my ailing car for a tow. I needed to lean; he let me lean. He was tapped out. He had been financially devastated by the divorce, was rebuilding his practice. He had moved twice in the time I had known him. I pushed him away; he pulled away. We knew this was impossible. He wasn’t ready. He could barely keep himself together. I was no longer strong. “It should have been a fling,” we agreed. He thought for moment, “I don’t do flings.” I reminded him of our second date. “But that was you,” he replied. Other times he mused, “I am not used to another woman. I am not used to new skin, new smell, new touch.” “You don’t like my skin,” I pouted. “It’s just that I am having trouble with the difference,” he explained. My legal drama continued. Finances were tight. My son, in 7th grade, suffered his first heartbreak. My no-longer-new love took him out to breakfast. We had Thanksgiving with friends, seven quirky academic women. He made jokes, checked a wound and, after dinner, fell asleep. He turned 50 that Christmas Eve. I gave him a flurry of gifts from the year of his birth: a coin from his native country; stamps from the Tokyo Olympics; a scratched Meet the Beatles! album; a miniature of the first model Porsche 911; a framed vintage movie poster of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. He was moved, surprised, embarrassed. So was I. Was I trying too hard? We took the “The 36 Questions that Lead to Love" quiz from The New York Times and already knew each other’s answers. We planned a trip to Paris, a city I loved that he had never visited. I trusted him. I never felt judged. “There isn’t anyone else,” he told me when I decided to date other people. “But I can’t ask you not to.” I went on one date. I missed him. But by then I had begun missing him even when we were close. For there was always someone else, even though she was no longer there. I asked him, “How can I compete with a whole life, with first love?” We argued about the same thing again and again. “I’m not going anywhere, but I’m not ready for more,” he said and pulled back. “I’m not there yet.” It made sense to me, I understood. He needed time. I began to feel insecure. We went sailing. He seemed tense. “We need to get away,” I offered. “I am still healing, I can’t keep asking you to wait,” he replied. “I don’t feel enough passion to move ahead.” I started to cry. We walked onto the dock where we had first kissed. I had been terrified of being the transition partner. Yet I knew I had given him a gift. He turned to walk away, then held on. Only later, I realized this: To stop loving her, he had to stop loving me. I, who had loved him through his sorrow, would always be infused by it. Only by leaving me, could he shed the wounded man who had been left.
Modern Words / Dynamite Truck from Jack Kerouacâ€™s On the Road Patrick McFarlin Oil on canvas
Two by Joanne Emery
Translucence Silently she walks through her day, Sounds pass through her – Children’s cries, Their squeals of joy, Clanking of the spoons In chipped bowls And mismatched cups, Endless feet running up And down the stairs, Her body bends with the sounds First this way – Picking up bits and pieces Then that – Bending back, A perfect arc of air Feet firm, palms flat Feeling all the space in between, Silent. Translucent.
Miracles on 76th and Lex I never noticed the stone angels On the corner of 76th and Lexington, One facing northwest, trumpet raised A herald to blue infinity. The other on the south side, Facing a brick wall, trumpet broken That angel could plummet four stories And go unnoticed, Dust rising from the rubble, As the homeless lady rants and raves Between the marble pillars On the steps of St. Jean the Baptiste Holy Roman Catholic Church, Her arms flung open Shouting at imaginary demons The honking yellow taxis, The hurried mother pulling Her young son by the hand Down the dirty sidewalk, Passing a woman with blue lipstick, And the bearded college student Wearing a T-shirt proclaiming, World Peace Warrior. New York is full Of these everyday miracles Which go wholly unnoticed.
UMW Melchers Hall Britnae Purdy Photography
UMW Melchers Hall Britnae Purdy Photography
Tens of thousands heads bowed deep in final repose dreaming in brittle brown slumber overflowing with summer memories nodding east in blind habit in sightless hope for the morning sun
At last the guarded center its sentinel a mystic key inscribed upon the stone beneath my feet I spin in the centerâ€™s lock.
Crafton Labyrinth Frozen for long moments before its entrance armed with verses from three psalms oft repeated in wakeful darkness waiting for sleep, for dawn, for change.
Around me the labyrinth whirls a carousel now filled completed of first and last steps of all that is life encircling alpha and omega.
Out repelled to the edge by a twisting path outward forever outward centrifugal and center-fleeing far-flung but unable to escape.
A plunge across the threshold born into the path forward shocked to find myself almost at the center so soon can this be right?
Away to long arcs far from the center forward years of plodding without turn to left or right orbiting the mass of an unseen center.
In toward that center with turns dense, dizzying inward always inward centripetal and center-seeking nearer but not yet there.
A Tour of the Mumbai Slums: Dharavi – a living city.
Mumbai. India. Evokes exotic and distant imagery. Dharavi. We might all remember it as the slum in Slum Dog Millionaire The scope and expanse of the largest Asian slum was beyond belief. We walked for 2 hours and were told we crossed about one fifth of the area. We met our Dharavi tour guide from Reality Tours Mumbai at one of the local train station platforms. The trains came and went while we waited – it was Sunday morning and they weren’t packed to overflowing. But still there were people hanging out all doors and windows – searching for airflow. Ah, makes more sense. Our guide arrived and we were up to the pedestrian walkway over the railroad to see our destination from above. Dharavi is situated in between two major rail lines on two sides and a major highway to the north. It’s approximately 367 acres housing almost 2 million in residences and their many industrial businesses. The average home is 10 ft x10 ft for a family of 4 which can grow up to about 8 with relatives from the country or family growth. The oldest area is from the 1850’s when the British pushed the locals out of the southern end of the peninsula to build all their fabulous buildings more often visited. We began with walking through the various business areas: plastic recycling where “pickers’ are paid by the kilo to bring all sorts of plastics including tv set cases and water bottles and anything else made of hard plastic into the area. Then, once the plastic has been sorted by color, they have built their own shredding machines to shred into curled pieces. Those pieces are put through a washer and hauled up three flights to be spread on the rooftops lending a colored patchwork to the view. On to the oil can recycling district where they immerse gathered oil cans in boiling water before beating the sides back out and taking them back to manufacturers. For a visual comparison, imagine the 5-gallon metal olive oil cans as the best example. A similar process is followed with paint cans – again, 5-gallon cans of common paints for homes and industry are gathered and brought to a “factory” site in the slum where they are burned to get rid of all the paint, then beat out back into shape and taken back to the manufacturers for refilling. We were told both oil and paint cans are reused as many as 10 times before they start to come apart. One plastic recycling area was devoted to melting the different colors in a large vat before pushing the hot fluid through what looks like a huge pasta machine creating long strings of bright colors. The strings are fed through
Sue Henderson Essay and Photography
cool water before being cut into tiny pellets for packing. The pellets were the size of small beads and packaged again into 50 kilo bags for transfer to a manufacturer to re-melt and use to create more plastic. Another area for aluminum recycling took cans and anything they can find in aluminum and curl it into small pieces. Those are melted down in what looks like a huge wok and the smelt is poured into large ingot molds to create pure aluminum bars. These are then sold back to the factories to melt and make new cans. Another area was where women make the flat breads sold on the streets. The same super -sized wok shapes are placed upside down over coals. Small patties of crushed flour and ghee (very thick, oily butter product) having been molded into the shape of muffins are then hand pressed into very flat breads looking like tortillas. These are then roasted on the heated woks and left to dry in the sun – with all the requisite bugs, animals, us passing, etc in the area. In another area, supposedly the historic district from the mid-19th c, the Guijaratis (meaning those from the northern state of Gujarat) known for their pottery skills had created courtyards around open-air kilns. Clay is brought from Gujarat in 50-kilo bags, pounded by stomping and then shaped. Women shape small pieces by hand while some men use foot operated wheels to create larger pots. All are stacked into kilns and when enough has been gathered, the kiln is heated up creating an unbelievable steam and heat. Throughout the entire tour and district, small vendors and shops are placed around various corners selling anything and everything but looking mostly like little 7-11’s in a closet. Electricity runs throughout Dharavi 24 hours a day but water is provided to different sections in 3-hour increments on schedules. All infrastructure is visible and decrepit – it’s astounding any of it works. Electricity is at my shoulder level strung from place to place and up and over doorways and alleys. Water pipes are on the ground and easily stepped on. Every so often are plastic 50-gallon drums to hold the water gathered when it’s on for a few hours. And it just sits there. We were told about 70% of the residents use the public toilets provided periodically by the government in large courtyards. About 2 % have access to private facilities. And the remaining use the open air although “attempts are being made to convince them” to use the public options. I
must say I did not see any open-air toilet use nor did the
me the opportunity to say “Good Morning” to every gap-
area smell of waste.
ing mouth as we passed by and smile.
However, the toxic smells of all the industrial business was
I must say the entire tour showed a real obsession with
palpable. I had asked our guide if there was a hierarchy of
cleanliness. On every corner there was someone wash-
businesses to be involved in and how one became a plas-
ing their feet or hands or even soaping up the body while
tic sorter or aluminum burner or whatever. He indicated
wearing cloth around the waist. All over the place used
it was about who you know and most people did want to
water was being dumped from the buckets to wash the
move up but only in the sense of how much money they
stoop or floor or side of the house. Children’s faces were
could make and not necessarily the quality of the work.
scrubbed and mothers and grandmothers were beating
But women do women work and some areas are segregated
laundry. I saw tools being rinsed and even the recycling
by regional preferences like the pottery works would never
was washed before being repackaged.
have someone not related to those families. There are public and private schools scattered throughAmazingly enough, rents for the homes are higher clos-
out Dharavi with the majority being private, as no one
er to the railway station due to noise so the cheapest are
trusts the government schools. The government does
the noisiest at around 100 rupees per month (about $2)
pay a family if they send their girls to school to insure
going as high as 2000 rupees ($40) for the most internal.
a higher percentage of girls are educated but families
And there really aren’t size differences for those prices al-
pay 200 rupees per month ($40) for each boy in private
though some are up three floors providing better breezes
school. Reality Tours uses their proceeds to run both a
at times. It looked like the entire district was made of con-
preschool for 3-5 year-olds (which would not otherwise
crete or solid blocks on all three levels with small holes and
be provided at all) and a community center where they
steep industrial metal stairs or ladders to each level. If you
teach everything from computer skills to cultural danc-
live on the 3rd floor, you go through two other families to
ing. Incidentally, they do charge to attend their class-
climb to yours. We were surprised to see televisions and
es and once people have attended a large percentage of
computers on in many homes as we passed by with people
classes give them the fees back.
watching news or movies or ball games. In one we saw a couple men playing a video game. And almost everyone
I spent the whole morning dying for my camera that was
had a cell phone or Walkman attached to their ears.
forbidden on the tour.
I understand their intent and
honored the requirement but dearly would have liked to Through all this walking and watching we were uniform-
capture the scenes as we wandered through. I would say
ly greeted with smiles and children saying “Hi”, “Hello”,
Slum Dog Millionaire was accurate. We understood the
“What’s your name?” and wanting handshakes, children
youngest boy and girl in the movie were from Dharavi al-
followed like we were the Pied Piper. In any case, it gave
though the movie itself was filmed in another slum in the
suburbs. Both the children and their families have been provided new homes in Dharavi but have requested to be left alone to go back to their lives. Our guide was 21 and currently attending Tourism College while conducting the tours among other jobs. Although he does not live in Dharavi, he does live in the same conditions in a nearby area and does not expect to move out unless “my eventual wife and my Mother don’t get along”. Apparently, he and his bride would live with his parents for ever unless there’s dissension. At that point, he would not move out and stay in the area but would completely move out of the slums. But it’s not his intent to waste income on accommodations he doesn’t require and he has no eager goals for living conditions. He does have those goals for education and income but indicated he would plow those increased income figures into a business of his own and not belongings. I found everything about the tour proof of how industrious and genuine the people of Mumbai are. There doesn’t seem to be any envy or materialism evident. It’s interesting to me that both our driver and our host housekeeper told us they live in the same size homes although they were quick to point out it was in safer neighborhoods. We completed the tour at their community center of one room the size of a single car garage with a pull-down garage door. They had 10 or so benches and maybe 6 six-foot folding tables with computers on them set up. A couple bare bulbs hanging, bright colored walls and a small shelf for paperwork rounded out the decor. We completed our tour evaluations, paid our minimal fees and were escorted to taxi’s to get back to our driver. It was quite a morning. And totally recommended.
George Stein Photography
Little Fool Shayleene MacReynolds
Her friend backed out last minute. Had a fight with her boyfriend and couldn't seem to keep the mascara on her lashes; it trickled down like raindrops carving out a path on unclean windowpanes. But she knew the people there. None of them well, but well enough. Clothed in the mandated cocktail attire, microscopic swaths of black leather wrapped about the waist, feet arched unnaturally within the confines of stilletoed heels, hair draped in storybook curls upon bare shoulders. She took a final look in the mirror, arranged a curl just so, and deftly swiped a practiced finger under the lashes of her right eye, wiping away at the excess liner. Sprayed a fine mist of perfume into the air above her, let it whisper softly on her skin, marinating in the sweetness of the floral scent. Her mouth was rouged, leaving little kisses on the delicate lip of a wine glass she left to stain within an empty sink. She arrives late when everyone is already well on their way to existential bliss; they're friendlier then. Awkwardness is obliterated with the first few shots of the night, and she was never good at small talk. The bartender on call pours the drinks, whatever's in the house is on the house, and we're not just talking liquor. She clings to her drink as wise girls always do. Takes a deep swig, allows the chemical compound to trickle down the back of her throat, H's and O's to the power of two swirl about in perfect octagons of geometric structure. It settles in her stomach, the kindling catching fire as the flames travel through her veins, licking at the blood cells and engulfing her body in the surreal delight of an early buzz. She mingles a little, graciously accepting the complements that come her way, delivering the expected return. Laughs at meaningless stories and cringes at spiting, vicious gossip. As the contents of the glass continue to fuse with the contents of her stomach, she feels warm. Slings her coat over the back of the couch. Rests her drink upon the counter to tell an animated story with her hands. Laughs a little louder. The roar of the fire begins to crackle bravely from the confine of her head. The bartender looks lonely, so she swings back through for another round. And she ends up on the dance floor and the air is heavy with the moisture of bodies wrapped in humid summer night, clothed in shades of neoprene and nudity. The sweat gathers at the corners of her brow; little dewdrops form upon her upper lip. Her sight grows foggy at the edges; the opacity of dreamlike vision. The bodies dance and writhe beside her, fingers fluttering about the nostrils like frantic, startled birds within a cage. A joint passes by, the smoke whispering in perfect chaos forms a halo on her head. Lights flicker and music rages; her mind spins in tune with the gravitational force of the earth, rapid circles. The skirt climbs up the sticky surface of her thighs; the hair clings to the dampness pooling at the back of her neck. The deft fingers have lost their skill, and so the black lines of corrosive liquid pave one-way roads down the surface of her skin. She stumbles once, weak ankles tottering doe-like in their five inch heels, quaking like a violent force upon the earth. But she catches herself, and her body reclaims the lightness of the feather, caught up in the whims of earth and sky. 211
At some point between the dropping of the bass a distant thought forms within her mind, but she pushes it away. The night is young and she is young and so she continues spinning on the floor, hands brushing up against the sky, fingers dancing through the Milky Way. Caught up in the euphoric rhythms of an atmospheric symphony. And time stops. Time stops and the bodies file out the door, in varying stages of insobriety. Someone grabs her hand. His sturdy fingers wrap around her wrist. She follows. Her feet tread the familiar terrain one step up into the house another step comes after a little stumble here fifteen into the living room another stumble ten into the guest room then stop. He lays her upon the bed. She tumbles down upon the sheets and looks into the eyes; the hungry eyes. His body rises above hers; his hands, on either side, indent the soft surface of the mattress into little pooling lakes of white. She is still. Her mind is struggling to form words the neural synapses fire and fizzle out she has become incapable of speech although the language is laid out in perfect order, locked within the boundaries of her mind. The electrical wiring is structured right but a fuse has shorted out. Her mouth begins to move. I have to go, she says. It's a strange sound, a foreign sound; the words are slurred and sluggish, they struggle to escape the confines of her teeth. White teeth. They feel heavy there, clinging to her gums. Her body does not move as it is meant to she thinks stand but there is no response. Over-anesthitized she is capable of conscious thought and she watches her body from the eyes of bystanders, unarmed with capacity for intervention. The mind is willing but the flesh is weak. Shhh, he says. And she watches as his mouth crashes down upon her own and Revlon Red evolves into a darker shade of crimson that he wears like war paint upon the grim lining of his lips. A blackness descendsâ€”the deep darkness that appears with the absence of light. Consciousness fades in a moment of instance; the body grows limp. The coroner is on scene, examining the cadaver, the blue pallor of the lips, dried vomit clinging to the crinkled corners of the mouth. He dances to the necromantic melodies that ring out in sharp disharmony, kitty cat paws on the piano, glass beakers tumble to the floor. Stainless steel reflects the tattered image of symphonic rubber rhythms that streak across the tiled floor. Rigor mortis is a gift given only to the dead; the body is willing, but bodies will betray you, after all.
The alarm rings. The gentle gray light of dawn peeks through the shrouded windows. She looks up at the ceiling, familiar in meaning but unfamiliar in structure. The blanket wrapped around her is stifling; its scent is strange, as is the man beside her. The tousled head of hair peeks out from quilted comfort, shaggy blond against starched white. Her groggy mind reaches out and grasps for memories but the well is dry as is her mouth, ashy from the fires of one too many cigarettes. She gathers the coat from the back of the couch. Goes home. Brews a pot of coffee and fills an old, cracked mug. Grabs the handle of Jack and turns on the steaming waters of the bath. She removes her clothing, counts the budding bruises that blossom on pale skin. Lovely purple rings upon the breasts. Bluish serpents wrapped like scarves around her neck, like shackles on her wrists. Sinks down into the depths of scalding liquid and bitter shame. The windows fog over and she drains and refills, both the bath and the mug. But never herself. And the days go by and she is plagued by the memory of misremembrance. She takes a little pill to cleanse her body of that which comes to pass, the biological consequences of anatomies joining in the night. She doesn't sleep, for every kiss of wind upon the siding of her house sends her flying from the sheets. She checks the locks obsessively, their once shining surface reduced to the dull sheen of well-worn metal. The dream journal beside the bed takes on the qualities of Stephen King, brilliantly haunting in its written capture of the damned. The guilt feeds upon the roundness of her curves; it eats away at the fat that lines her ribs so that her spine protrudes like boulders in a creek. A dullness feasts upon the vital vibrancy within her eyes; they echo back the stillness of the dead. 212
But something isn't right. It isn't just her mind her body has been invaded there is something in her that shouldn't be her tits are too big and she is too moody and she lays out the tests before her. The little symbols of summation mock her from the hardwood floor between her feet. She laughs. She laughs and rests her head against the yellow papered walls. She chides herself. Little fool. Slut. Look what you've gone and done. You shouldn't have gone alone; you shouldn't have worn that dress; you shouldn't have put down your drink. Shame on you. She writes it out in perfect cursive script, over and over again, upon the blackboard of her mind. Scarlet letters embroidered on the soul; blood trickles with every stab of shame upon her heart. When she goes into the clinic, she bows her head. Checks the parking lot for familiar cars. Pulls down the brim of a tattered ball cap. She hides in the dark corner of the waiting room, the one reserved for little whores like her. Her bare legs stick upon the scratched vinyl seat of a cold, metal chair. She looks around at women wrapped within the arms of loved ones. Looks down at her own, clinging white with terror to the metal arms of manufactured steel. Seeks out a distraction. Trembling fingers flip through the pages of a magazine. Mind perceives but canâ€™t absorb. The wording grows blurry with every trickle flowing in steady measure from her eyes. The box of Kleenex rests upon a side table across the room; a walk of shame she is unwilling to perform. She uses the sleeve of her sweater to blot the tears in small, discrete movements. She is the only one crying here. And she wants to ask the other women. She wants to shout it out to proclaim her woes onto any who may listen but their eyes don't look her way. She wants to crawl into their laps and wrap her arms around their delicate, feminine frames and rest her head upon a bosom dampened by her tears. But she won't. She sits silent, solitary. The cursed Madonna, splendidly illuminated beneath the artificial halogen lights of a whitewashed room, where her tears continue in an endless cycle of rebirth. They call her name. She dons the white, papered gown that clings too tightly to her growing waist. Endures the humiliating and unwanted probing, only this time she is conscious. It tears open the old wounds, bringing back glimpses of post traumatic destruction that play like reeled snapshots of a horror film within the boundaries of her mind. The rotation of the nurse's hands awaken the sleeping form within. The ultrasound machine groans beside her, mourning the life that she will take, baby's first picture displayed across the 4 x 6 boundaries of an aged, unfunded monitor. The officiating nurse with kind, crinkled eyes asks her one last time. She says yes. I do. Takes the pills. They're bitter like her shame, both of which she tastes clinging to the back of her throat or is it bile? Her stomach recoils, evolutionary mechanisms working on overdrive to protect the life that's struggling to do what it was meant to, live. They give her brochures. Smiling faces. Glossy leaflets. A hotline to call if she feels guilt. A 1-800 number to eradicate the shame. She leaves them in the trash beside the lubricated paper gown. She deserves this. She goes home. Alone, she refills the glass of wine, now chipped upon the rim, and lies down on the bed. She waits. She trembles, both with fear and loathing. She deserves this. It is her mantra. She repeats it with each wave of pain that grips her tightly in its grasp. She screams. She reaches out for something to grab onto but there is only empty air. From Jekyll to Hyde her body arches in monstrous displays of contortion. She clutches at her stomach, nails digging into skin that hangs like parchment paper loosely from the bones. The cat hisses from its place beneath the bed. She tumbles to the floor, pounds a fist into the carpeted surface but leaves no imprint in her wake. She reaches for the pain meds that lay beside her, raises the orange bottle to her lips with trembling hands, gulps frantically at the fermented liquid in the glass. Tries to find the bliss, the euphoric buzz, to escape the confines of sobriety but neither her body nor her mind will give her rest. She curses the man. She curses the father. She curses herself. She should not have gone alone. She should not have worn that dress. She should have never put down that drink. Little fool. She deserves this.
Goreme in Flight William Huberdeau Photography
WAITING FOR DIANA It is Friday; there will be poetry and wine, stories and more wine and to balance it all cheese the good kind from Fancy Natural Foods (not its real name) It is the Holiday Season in Mill Valley The red leaves crunch beneath our feet Sky leans in to whisper tidings of great consternation in our ear Will it rain? Will there be a president? (a real one?) Dog chews her treat in the other room Soon she will wait for our return one ear perked for footsteps Does she think? Does a dog have a history? Does she remember a heritage of dogs gone before - wolves, jackals? Did their feral animal instinct form her domestic doggie spirit? (Does a dog have the Buddha nature?) As always the radio drones in anticipation of the overthrow of everything we hold holy Diana riding the chill through the wide open door, says â€“ You know Dog spelled backwards is God and vice versa. ~ Dotty LeMieux
Boulder in Seven Parts Dotty LeMieux
1. Airplane The plane of the air and the plains down below meet in Boulder Colorado You walk slowly Breathe deeply Take iron pills
2. Seatmate I’m a criminal investigator at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska Last year there were 761 violent crimes on campus We try to focus on crime prevention programs I like to feel I am doing somebody some good I’m twenty-five years old I’m afraid to fly Can I buy you a drink?
3. Naropa Institute From behind it looks like the back entrance to a dry cleaning plant. You go past the bicycles and motorcycles stashed under the stairs and then up to a little balcony overlooking the parking lot where Gregory Corso greets you with - Have you ever married someone you met in a bar?
4. John Denver Although we all agree it is disgusting and beneath our poetic dignity, it is impossible to walk around in the Rocky Mountains and not think about John Denver
5. What I Drink in Boulder Olympia beer on sale at the Liquor Mart for $1.49 a sixpack; Jack Daniels; George Dickel and Ezra somebody not Pound sour mash whiskey; white wine; red wine; brandy which Joanne keeps discreetly inside the cupboard in its original brown paper bag; hot pepper “Russian flavored” vodka from New Mexico, very cold with ice in recycled plastic cups
6. Art Lesson Gregory says - Tell me now, do you know the difference between Rembrandt’s light and Turner’s light, because if you don’t know that you don’t know nothing. Let me tell you something. Now listen. The way those guys got gold into their paintings, and don’t tell me it was metal paint, it wasn’t metal paint; it was the way they saw the light. Rembrandt, now, Rembrandt put the yellow on top. It was a heavy, heavy kind of dark gold. Turner’s was light. You hear what I’m saying? Turner’s light, the gold quality of the light, was as big as all outdoors. And in those paintings, the sea and the sky were one. Rembrandt stayed indoors all the time with the candle-light and shadows. Turner was an outdoor man. Are you paying attention? You get what I’m trying to tell you about the different kinds of light? You don’t know what I’m saying, do you? My God, those two could paint!
7. A Motorcycle Impression of the Rocky Mountains Very tall and too fast dizzying It takes twice as long to boil an egg but the same time to eat it Very clear above looking down on slightly greasy-hot-dog water swirling in the valleys below This is the swell part of the United States of America where in a sudden storm nobody speaks
Seamless Southworth Gemstone Jewelry
A little over three years ago, actor and jewelry de-
Wall orders most of her stones online from wholesal-
signer Analisa Wall was looking for a way to supplement
ers overseas. She says, “I buy a lot of a certain type of
her theater work. Wall grew up in Fredericksburg, but
stone, and I like that the wholesalers allow me to hand
moved to attend the University of the Arts in Philadelphia,
pick the stones I want to work with. Every stone is dif-
Pennsylvania, from which she graduated last May.
ferent, so the jewelry would be hard to duplicate.”
knew that any job she took had to earn her enough money
with which to eat and pay rent, but must also be flexible
dictate which wraps she chooses. She says, “Most of-
enough to allow her to make auditions and call backs.
ten, I’ll get a stone in the mail and immediately I have
Wall had always been creative and she loved jew-
to wrap it; it’s so beautiful. Other times, stones will
elry. She started by repurposing vintage jewelry and piec-
sit for a couple of months, until one day a new stone
ing it back together in unique ways. Then she became in-
inspires me to pair them together, and that becomes a
terested in using crystals and learning how to wind them
unique piece of jewelry.”
in intricate metal wraps. Initially, she worked with helpful
staff at Green Man Grove in Fredericksburg, but soon she
and knows which to use when she sees the stones. She
was following designers online and teaching herself wraps
decides whether to start from the bottom or top with
simply by studying their work.
her wrap and then allows the piece to influence the di-
rection the wrap will take.
Today, Wall is designing and selling her own piec-
The stones inspire Wall, and she allows them to
Wall has perfected fifteen different wire wraps
es online through an Etsy store under the banner of The
Seamless Southworth. She also keeps a grueling festival
termines whether to oxidize the metal. She generally
When she is finished with the wrap, Wall de-
schedule and has learned that while it’s great to be one’s
works with sterling silver and copper. She says, “Some
own boss, the hustle is real.
stones are set off better against the dark metal. Sterling
Wall says, “I’m constantly ordering wire and
silver oxidizes over time, but I can force it with a solu-
gemstones from wholesalers online, which means I re-
tion. It turns a gun metal color. Copper is a little more
ceive at lease five packages in the mail each day. When
difficult, because it oxides very quickly, both naturally
I’m not doing that, I’m working on new pieces of jewelry
and in solution. If I want to use natural copper, I buy it
and researching and applying to festivals, sometimes four
treated so it doesn’t tarnish quickly. Most of the time, I
months in advance.”
force oxidation on untreated natural copper. If I want a
Wall says festivals can be risky, but her profits do
brown or dark copper color, I can’t leave it in the solu-
sustain her lifestyle and allow her to pursue acting jobs.
tion very long. If I want a very dark color, almost black,
Profits also go back into her business and toward festival
I leave it in longer. The dark copper can be polished to
fees and taxes. There are times when she attends two fes-
reveal flashes of the natural reds, which adds a cool di-
tivals per weekend and keeps an exhaustive schedule, es-
mension to the piece. After oxidation, I take them out
pecially during seasons when sales ramp up, like summer
and hand polish them to make them shine.”
and the winter holidays. She’s made three times her rent
in one afternoon, and she’s walked away with losses. Wall
prices, usually around $35.00. You can find her online
considers these the calculated risks of being an indepen-
at The Seamless Southwoth on Etsy, Facebook, and
Wall purposely keeps her pieces at reasonable
My personal favorite stone of all time is labradorite. I think itâ€™s absolutely fantastic. It comes from Madagascar and I love it because itâ€™s different and it has many colors to it. Most of the time itâ€™s a combination of two or three colors . The purple is very rare, but it has a big flash to it when the light hits it. ~ Analisa Wall
Flat Lick is a Real Place E.M. Evans
Kate’s mother, Vestinia, grew up in Flat Lick, Kentucky. That name sounds like a joke, but there’s a town called “Flat Lick” in east Kentucky. It’s not quite “the South,” nor “the Midwest.” Flat Lick is lost in the periphery of the Rust Belt, where it is so easily forgotten, as are the people who live there. Kate grew up in Petaluma, California, an unfriendly place for an outspoken teenager who loved hippies, music, and protests. Sometimes Vestinia would sneak a lingering gaze at her daughter when she danced in the living room to a new LP, or when she scolded her own father for interrupting her on the phone. Kate’s fearlessness confused her mother deeply. Vestinia’s body grew into quiet deference. Her upper back started curving forward in her 20s and by her 50th year it was locked into a deep bow. Her upper-body seemed bound by rigid tethers holding her chest in a tight ball from which her head, covered with a translucent halo of fluffy grey hair, hung heavily. When she spoke her head strained against the bent neck to make approximately 5 seconds of polite eye contact. People interrupted her often, so Vestinia’s sharp tongue remained veiled. Kate’s story is couched in this veil. She and Vestinia lived and died in tandem, decades apart, with unrecognized vestiges of that bound and rigid deference. Vestinia’s family-- her parents and four brothers and sisters-- grew up in a one-bedroom cabin close to a coal mine in the early 1900s. Fathers and sons in Flat Lick worked in the local coal mine, if they were lucky. She was ashamed of her upbringing and of the few pictures of her family she kept hidden in an unlabeled shoebox. When Kate was a teenager, in the 60s, she snooped around her mother’s room and stole all four pictures. In one, Vestinia and her two sisters stand in front of a cabin that had tall grass running along the splintering and dank looking wood plank walls. Their eyes are blank and solemn. Vestinia is in the middle, standing about 6 inches taller than her siblings. They are in baggy white baby-doll dresses that seem the same size. The hem is at Vestinia’s thigh, while at her sisters’ shins. They are barefoot, with long and stringy hair parted in the middle and hanging limp over their ears. Time and neglect washed out the definition in the picture, but you could still see dark chunks of grease along the part in their hair. Vestinia’s hand hangs on her youngest sister’s shoulder, there is dirt under her fingernails; on her right knee is a blackened wound and on her left a dark shadowed bruise. The other three are school pictures of Vestinia, dated 1927, 1928, and 1929. The inanimate objects in the pictures are the same, including her white dress that appears to shrink incrementally around her growing body. And her body would also appear inanimate except that, similar to the dress, the flesh on her arms and neck withers and tightens around the slow structural growth of Vestinia.
She’s sitting at a wooden desk with her hands and thickened fingers meeting gently in front. There is an inkwell on her left. It complements the distinguished raised chin and the carefully reposed expression imposed by the photographer. She and her siblings (there are no pictures of her parents) have similarly bulging eyes not dissimilar to inbred English royalty. Vestinia’s vacant bulging eyes gaze down at the lens with surprising command. These four pictures were taken in 1927, 1928, and 1929 because “they could pay for those silly things” during those three years. When Vestinia was in her 20s her mother died and she found the pictures in the lining of her winter coat. Against the backdrop of the rest of her childhood in Flat Lick, those four pictures provoked immediate and guttural resentment that scared her. From then on she hated having her picture taken. The only form of protest she embraced was to stare blankly into space when she heard “Smile!” so it looked like her soul was quite actually stolen. This was all Kate knew of Vestinia’s life in Flat Lick, KY. Vestinia had a rhythmic lifelong cough, most likely because of the local coal mine and most likely pre-empting the lung cancer that killed her when she was 53. She was quiet and ashamed; her husband was gregarious and proud. Women of this generation, of this background, often have their stories drowned out by their husbands. Kate didn’t know if her mother’s shame started before or after she got married, but the result was mostly silence. Kate constructed a narrative for her mother and used art to fill in the silent gaps. She loved Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” and imagined Vestinia’s life as something like the poor, old woman who befriended a young boy. She liked the thought of Vestinia’s parents in their crowded dilapidated shack, content, making moonshine in the woods and baking fruitcake to trade with the neighbors. Vestinia’s childhood may have had this undercurrent of contentment before the Depression. But after the massive wave of disaffected and hopeless workers flooded their region for mining jobs, joy became rare. Instead of paying a reliable and livable wage to full-time employees, mine owners formed an army of cheap and expendable workers every morning from this flood of dispossessed farmers. Then family histories for working people in Flat Lick became one of poverty, shame, and desperation. In bits and pieces, fits and starts, usually after whiskey had loosened her tongue, Vestinia offered rare descriptions of her life in Flat Lick. They were never complete stories, just small details, like her father’s blackened clothes from the mine, or the bitter
slime taste of jarred wild dandelion that sustained them for the final weeks of winter. There was one evening, Kate was still quite young, when her father took a phone call during dinner and left them alone to talk. Between bites of food Vestinia recalled cleaning her feet in a well before school, and Kate stilled her eyes, mesmerized. “You didn’t have water in your house, mom?” “Oh come on, Katie, heck no… now lemme get you more potatoes before your dad gets back.” That was all she had. So Kate pieced each together bit-by-bit until an amalgam of her mother’s history formed. By 1933 Vestinia’s father and brothers returned home sporadically, about twice a week, often injured, always weak and covered in thick, sticky filth. White creases drew panicked expressions in the black layer of tar on their faces. Hunger was physically etched into the skin. Her mother protected several jars of green beans leftover from their garden and a jar of dried beef. She hid them behind the fireplace where she and the three hungry girls would hopefully forget about them until the men, and boys, came home. When their father opened the door with his two teenage sons behind, he mustered enough energy to yell, “Hello to the house!” It used to be a cheerful bellow, but by 1934 it was a meek and sad statement of fact. Vestinia was still grateful for this small trace of her father’s crumbling humor. They stood on the porch while her mother rushed to the fireplace to boil “Dottie, go on to the store and get as much flour and potatoes as he’ll give ya, k?” Vestinia’s sister nodded sternly before she ran off in her bare feet. Before the beef was ready, before visiting the outhouse, before kissing his wife or tending his infected wounds, before taking a breath of relief, her father asked, “Any beans left, lil’ one?” Vestinia took the jar from her mother and handed it to her father. He sat on the ground and held the jar out for the three of them. The liquid went black from tarred fingers fumbling around for each precious spear. Sometimes the youngest boy would gag, quietly, between bites. They ate in silence. When Vestinia’s mother caught her father’s eye she would offer a struggling smile, a look of pained tenderness. Eating didn’t take them more than 10 minutes, but it was at least an hour before they struggled to their feet again. “Best we wash up, boys.” Her father used few words, which muted his dread in her memory. They stripped down to their sour smelling underwear and walked to the well.
A ritual of despair: removing toxic layers of filth encrusted on their skin and hair. Vestinia cranked the rusted arm on the well in their front yard while they clawed and scraped at their skin. Eventually yellowing skin emerged from under muddy black tar. One Saturday night, decades later, after Vestinia drank Kate’s husband under the table, she told Kate that some parts of their bodies seemed painted an ebony matte, especially the insides of their ears and fingernails. “Billy use ta tear at his nails because they stung him somethin’ awful. Always stung, he said, and he just tore ‘em up bloody. Damndest thing, Katie.” By 1935 there were no longer any artifacts content. Instead their lives floated heavily on an undercurrent of impoverished melancholy and resentment. The story Kate imagined about moonshine and fruitcake was actually a story about broken teeth and waking up to clumps of hair on the pillow. The story was about blaming your neighbors and friends for trying to survive as well, and about violence that always accompanies desperate poverty. Vestinia’s story was about eating stuffing from her pillow. When she woke up from nightmares Vestinia felt the mingling of hunger pangs with the unique, the very real, fear of death. Vestinia joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps when her sister was old enough to help run the household. The military, and especially the war, was (is) a bitter refuge for people who depended on low-paying fungible jobs. She left for The Army School of Nursing on a morning where she could taste the earthy, wet fragrance of Kentucky summers. The departure date loomed for months. Vestinia thought her family had become inured to loss, until that day. She hugged her brothers and sisters on the porch, realizing that the image of her father and brothers eating out of a jar of black water on that porch was burned in the back of her eyes. She bent down to pick up her mother’s suitcase and glanced at her parents at the bottom of the porch stairs before lifting it. Vestinia couldn’t remember seeing them look defeated before then. When she thought of that day she couldn’t remember hugging them, only looking back from the end of path away from their cabin, squinting against bright sun. She remembered her sisters holding her mother’s shoulders while she sobbed in convulsions and scrambled for a napkin in her apron pocket.
She was the first person in her family to escape the rural South, and she felt a shock of guilt in her stomach when something rekindled those burned images. It was the first deep and aching shame Vestinia experienced… shame that became the totality of her being. Vestinia’s shame was palpable but enigmatic. She began losing her teeth in her 20s and her hearing in her 30s, both results of her malnourished upbringing. At 40 she had full dentures and a bulky hearing aid in her right ear. Sometimes it emitted a high-pitched squeal and she’d use her papery-skinned thumb to discreetly adjust the volume dial. Kate visited her parents, reluctantly, about once a month with her two small children after she divorced their dad. Kate’s father was particularly critical of both Kate and Vestinia, blaming them for not disciplining children properly, for not withholding affection, like he did, as punishment. The three of them sat at the wobbly Formica plated kitchen table one Saturday afternoon, next to a window that overlooked the large backyard. “Dammit, Kate, that boy doesn’t need your hippie crap! For Christ’s sake, he needs a Dad to keep him in line.” He shot up from the table and stomped towards the living room, shouting as he walked, “Where the hell is he, huh, Kate?! Why’d he leave? What ya do this time, dammit??” Kate looked up and tried to absorb tears into her wells of her eyes before facing the sting of Vestinia’s stoicism. She lifted her sleeve to a falling tear and felt her mother’s fixed gaze. Kate lowered her head and tried to steady her trembling lips against her teeth. They were dry and, continuing to avoid that fixed gaze, she found her coffee mug through blurred, wet eyes and looked at her mother only when she had the distraction of hot liquid on her tongue. It tasted awful, mingled with humiliation and cheap coffee creamer. Their eyes finally met across the table and Vestinia exposed the top teeth of her dentures in a frustrated smile. Then she put her thumb on the volume dial of the hearing aid in her right ear and said, “I’ll just turn that sucker down.” A genuine spit-take: Kate blew the acrid liquid in a spray across the Formica table. The awful taste was gone. Vestinia smiled wide, tossed her head back then lowered it quickly to laugh silently into her lap. Kate did the same. They both laughed silently, not out of fear, but because it was theirs, alone. Not his. Only theirs.
Oceans Around Us Norma Alonzo Acrylic on Paper
Alex Harvell wants you to be
When Alex Harvell was growing up in the DMV, art was his refuge from the difficulties in his life. Home was filled with parents coming and going, and there were negative influences swirling around him. Tragic circumstances surrounded his life. Harvell was full of energy and was always on the move, but school was uninviting. Harvell often felt he didn’t fit into the standardize system and was even expelled more than once. To overcome it all, Harvell took to heart the advice of his older brother, George, who told him to “run with it.” Run with his spirit, his individuality and uniqueness. Run with his passion for art and movement. So, when the world around him was telling him he wouldn’t…he couldn’t…Harvell did. In April of 2015, Harvell organized a group of former high school friends and acquaintances for a showcase at Salem Church Library entitled Abstract Vibes. It included live performances in dance and poetry, live painting, and music. It would be the first of many where Harvell successfully brought area youth together to create something mesmerizing. Today, Harvell leads other young artists and performers through his organization, FREEBYRUNNING. As his brother did for him, Harvell hopes to inspire young artists and performers to tune out the naysayers and pursue their passions. He says, “I had a lot of people telling me I shouldn’t do what I wanted to do, that it wouldn’t make me successful, but people measure success differently. To ALL the open minded people I work with, I say you have to keep your ideas intact. You have to keep your vision together while everything around you tells you to let it go. That’s the whole idea behind FREEBYRUNNING. You're FREE BY taking your passions and visions and just running with it. The mission is to promote equality, peace, love and freedom of expression and individuality.” Since that first showcase in 2015, Harvell says he feels good about the work he’s done in the community with showcases at art galleries, lodges, and most notably the John J. Wright Educational Cultural Center and Museum in his home county of Spotsylvania. He even had the opportunity to present a showcase called The Uprising for the NAACP's King George branch which included dinner and vendors as well. He has pulled people together from all corners of the region & continues to work hard to keep the movement going. Harvell continues to make outreach his primary
goal. He says, “The difference is that I’m really out there. I’ve been where these youth are, and I’ve felt their frustrations. I think the arts should be the focus for youth, especially in tougher areas where there aren’t as many positive outlets for their energy and frustrations. There are two sides to every city. There’s an underground, and then there’s the showboating side. As artists, we should be providing space for developing voices from the Mayfileds, the Hazel Hills, and the outer reaches of the surrounding counties. What I’m doing is perfect for that. There’s no one-sided way to what I do. It varies from place to place, and it concerns me that more people are not involved with this kind of work. Whole communities are being left out of the conversation of the arts in our region, and it’s simply because they don’t have access to platforms and spaces to practice and share their work.” Harvell’s recent work has included motivational speaking and a visit and performance at his high school alma mater, where he encouraged students not to give up on their futures. He stresses that if he can make it, so can they. His most recent showcase, Still I Rise, is an homage to Maya Angelou and his grandmother, who helped raised him along with his grandfather, both of whom he was caregiver to over the past two years through their respective illnesses. Both have since passed. Harvey says the experience of caring for them changed his life, and while difficult and seemingly impossible at times, it was a time that helped him refocus his dedication to the work he plans to
Alex Harvell (left) and supporters at Still I Rise in November 2017.
Performers and artists take a group shot at Collab after the first show of the Still I Rise series in November 2017.
Still I Rise will be a series of showcases, and the first of four planned shows was held in November 2017 at Collab studio on Caroline Street in downtown Fredericksburg. Harvell is currently seeking space for further showcases under the Still I Rise banner, and he is working to obtain grant funding for his outreach efforts. His goal for all future events is to bridge groups of artists from around the city, no matter the age or experience level. He would like to establish weekly and monthly events for which young people of the region can plan and take part. He says, “These events are getting bigger, especially out here in the county, because there are very few outlets pertaining to the more abstract arts. I’m really open-minded. I encourage more of Fredericksburg to get out here and see what’s going on. There are still youth and artists around the city that aren’t represented. I do it for them. I use my story as someone who’s been kicked out of school twice, has been behind bars and has seen how the system does everybody, but who’s also managed to flip all that around. I see the showcases definitely growing, getting more support, spreading more hope.” If you would like to get involved with FREEBYRUNNING, contact Alex Harvell through Facebook and Instagram @Freebyrunning.
Cara Hall of @carabellacreations live paints and visitors build community at Still I Rise in November 2017.
Frozen Moment by Cindy Skaggs
The stag stepped from the fog like a rabbit from the magician’s hat. It was a black-and-white picture, a frozen moment, immortal as his body stepped onto the highway silhouetted against the white fog in my headlights. His rack as tall as my Explorer, he stopped and glanced to the side as if to reprimand me. The antlers were frosted white like a crown glimmering in the artificial light. I braked. He stopped. We stared at one another for seconds, surely less than a minute, then he bounded back from whence he’d come, and I continued east. Forewarned. The snow started some time later with me riding the curves of hills I didn’t know existed in eastern Colorado. It was pretty at first, the kind of white fluff that shimmers in snow globes and Hollywood movies. The ground was warm, melting the snow, so I didn’t worry overmuch. It was just a little snow. The little snow gave way to big and the wind blew like a witch. I wanted to berate myself for paying so little attention to the news. God knows the Armageddon weathermen had probably been preaching their doomsday prophecy for days, but I’d been lost in a fog of fear, alone for the first time in a decade and unprepared. The kids are with their father. Unsupervised for the first time. Christmas and fear all wrapped in a shiny bow. Time was indeed relative that interminable week. I couldn’t say if it was Friday or Monday. I only knew that I had to make Kansas City if I was going to pick up the kids on time, and I would damn well pick up the kids on time. So when the snow started, I patted the dash of my trusty 4WD and pressed on. I grew up in Colorado. I knew how to drive in snow. And like that, I dismissed the worry that never fully formed until I hit the middle of Kansas—God I hate Kansas—in the middle of a whiteout for which I was not prepared. I didn’t have emergency gear. If I was lucky, I had gloves and a hat. Anything more was overkill. When I merged onto I-70, I followed the taillights of an 18-wheeler for miles, so close that if he drove into the nearest cornfield, I would plow in right behind him. We continued like that, my headlights barely keeping up with the red of his tail, just
me and the red lights of a truck whose slogan I could not read. Tension knotted in my right side. The last stop had been Colby, Kansas. Gasoline and Starbucks and enough peanuts to keep me running. The semi slowed. Forty-five miles an hour, then less. We’d stopped passing traffic an eternity ago. It was just he and I and infinite whiteness. The sun set, if there was ever any sun, and we stopped seeing oncoming traffic a hundred miles ago. The wind was a bonus and the stitch in my side told me that I held the tension like fifty-pounds of excess baby weight. My shoulders tightened and I held the steering wheel like it held the secret to the Holy Grail. I couldn’t let go, and I swear that 4WD was the only reason I survived, because in Lawrence, KS, the semi pulled into a truck stop with all his pals, and I was alone. I drifted, caught between fear of going on and fear of stopping. I don’t have a recollection of how in the name of all that was holy I managed to stay on the highway when the road and fields blended into one solid mass of white, but outside Kansas City, I joined a gravy train. My SUV and two other cars followed the bright lights of the highway plows. We were going twenty-five M.P.H. on I-70, but we were moving. We were headed toward my kids and that was all that mattered. If I got too close, the spray of chemicals hit the windshield like sand in a desert storm, but every sand blast was a lifeline. Almost there. I uncurled my cramped fingers from the steering wheel and grabbed the printout with directions to my hotel. I’d learned a few things since that first trip west, and even though eastbound felt like traveling backwards, I knew the best—should I say the cheapest place to stay. A casino hotel. I pulled off the highway in KC, a place that always felt overwhelmingly full, and the streets looked like nuclear winter in a disaster movie. Empty and white. God bless 4WD. The shiny lights of the casino were beacons. I hadn’t seen anything quite so lovely since the red brake lights of the semi a few hours back. I parked and sat there, too rigid to shake, and wallowed in my close-up parking to a hotel no one had entered in hours. My fingers unfurled like time lapsed photography. And the ache in my shoulders was compound
ed by the past week of no contact with my kids who were in hostile territory. But I’d survived. I yanked my wheeled luggage through the foot of snow to the overhang of the lobby entrance. It was deserted at first, but a young girl soon appeared. She was surprised at first, I must have been the first customer in hours, and I probably looked like hell warmed over. “Colorado,” she said, looking at my driver’s license, as if that explained how I’d managed my way through frozen hell. “You’re used to this,” she said, and she couldn’t be more wrong. I wasn’t used to leaving my children with the Invisible ex-husband who’d threatened to hurt them to get to me. I wasn’t used to spending so much time alone to think about all I had to lose. And I certainly wasn’t used to the safety of my children being at the mercy of a careless winter storm. She swiped my credit card and I went in search of food. It was 9 pm. I couldn’t recall how many hours ago I saw the buck, but it felt like an eternity had passed. The only place open was a long walk down the hall towards a riverboat where gamblers still play. My original plan was to gamble the night away, but I’d gambled enough that day. I found Toby Keith’s Bar and Grill and ordered nachos and a Mexican beer. I’d earned both. The fist on my heart loosened after the first beer. I ordered another when the heart-attack nachos arrived. I hadn’t had anything to eat, no time to stop, since the peanuts in Colby, and I swallowed the chips and greasy meat like manna from heaven. I tipped well, because I was glad to be alive, and ordered a beer to go, which is apparently okay in a casino. The stitch in my side ached like an appendix ready to burst, but I chalked it up to stress and too much grease. I drank the beer-to-go naked in bed and hoped for a better tomorrow. I still hate Kansas.
*** The blizzard was like driving through frozen hell, but the morning after was living in its fiery pit. I woke shortly before checkout with a throbbing in my 227
gut that indicated my inability to handle my liquor. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a beer, much less three, and my body was in full revolt. I didn’t have time to ease into the day slowly. I was late, my kids were waiting, and I refused to disappoint. The snowplows and sun made light work of the devilish snow from the day before. I got gas and a Diet Coke (a Super Big Gulp), called my friend to say I was on the way, and headed into Missouri. The rest stops in Missouri are some of the best along I-70. That’s not a definitive statement, but a subjective one that I discovered after driving a mere twenty miles the morning after. I made it out of Kansas City, but not out of the suburbs, before three beers and greasy nachos caught up with me. Spasms curled through my digestive track and waves of heat and pain washed over my skin. I pulled off, parked next to a car with a barking dog, and stepped into the blessed cold of the rest stop. The wind blew cold, but my face and body grew hot. The spasms started and I raced to the restroom. The slurry of melting snow under fast traffic created white noise as I lost the contents of my stomach until nothing was left but a ball of acid. I called my friend, altered my ETA, and kept moving. The Diet Coke washed down the bad choices and equally bad taste in my mouth. The sun glared off the snow on the side of the road and I drove through Misery until the Big Gulp came up three-fold. I drove down the crowded highway, Styrofoam cup pressed to my lips as I sped down the highway. There was no point in stopping. The pain was endless. I drove, vomiting at 60 miles an hour for the length of Missouri. When Missouri gave way to the Arch and the Mississippi River, I was nearly spent. The only thing that kept my foot on the gas pedal was thoughts of my kids. I took the remainder of the familiar drive on autopilot. I pulled off at the exit to a pretty little suburb. Every muscle in my body ached. There are few friends who can accept you vomiting at their doorstop with grace. My friend opened the door and her arms, and she led me to the pink and mint guest bedroom that I have long considered my sanctuary. I had no health insurance, no local doctor, and no way out of the agony. I slept for twelve hours, thanks to some pain pill she had leftover from her hysterectomy, and woke only to pick up the kids. My hair was greasy, my face pale, and the only thing that kept me from throwing up on the ex-husband’s stoop was the fact that I hadn’t had any food in more than twenty-four hours. I pulled on a cap to disguise my complete and utter misery and picked up my kids. I didn’t wake for another twenty-four hours (they were really good pain pills). In the dozens of trips that follow, I encounter more blizzards, more sickness (until I have my gallbladder removed), more stress and fear and the overwhelming weight of my new life, but never—not before or since—have I encountered a buck so far out on the eastern Colorado plains. Every culture has a myth surrounding deer. While a doe represents femininity and gentleness, the stag represents masculine energy. A protector. To the Celts, a stag was the king of the forest and he protected all the creatures within. In the moment when I came bumper to chest with the stag, I lived in his misty realm. He wasn’t an omen, but a talisman. He was the light I followed through the whiteout. The red semi brakes. The sputtering snow plows. The friend who welcomed me with open arms.
Two by Jenna Veazey Do Not Let It Scare You Embrace The pull of souls together Like a thread pulling layers Of cloth closer together So my long-ago gone grandmother pulls At my aging father to come close Which in turn Will bring me closer To my father’s pull Just as I pull you closer to me We are all a thread of souls Connected Just passing through
The Losing Is in Layers A ghosting of spirit A fog lifting, it’s essence Reabsorbed into the atmosphere A lingering scent Reminds me of your hugs That I don’t get nearly enough My own life keeps me from Visiting as often as I’d like And yet to think of my own Babes grown like I have A part and apart of another life Not my own Pains my heart in a new way Will I recall this time Pining for my own father And shed grace upon my own Loves and their new lives?
The First Seven
They’ve moved me down into the basement to write. Maybe this is where they think I’ll do my best work or be my best self. That’s an important thing nowadays. Well, I got everything I could ask for down here. Got a lamp with five bulbs, another lamp that isn’t plugged in, and a porcelain-bodied one with a green bulb for a bit of character. It’s mostly storage down here for now. Board games not being played, fans not running, coolers not keeping anything cool, blankets not keeping anyone warm, cat towers not being shredded, books not being read—I’m very good at that, not reading. Probably more skilled at it than you or anyone, for that matter. Anyway, it’s about time I get on with it. Dad’s chatting a lot as usual. I’m the recipient as usual. He’s going between time periods like putting on a dry pair of socks. Maybe it’s all the drugs his body manufactures. Maybe it’s the drugs other folks manufactured. I got shocked yesterday and I texted him afterward, said I loved him. For anyone who knows me you know I wouldn’t do that. The loving part. But you probably expected me to get shocked. My buddy needed help replacing the pipes in this old 1911 house. We cut through drywall, went up the walls and the ceilings, and poked around the second floor. Took out the sink and the toilet, and made sure the water was off, of course. And I guess all it took was his five-minute trip to the store and me being alone for the typical kind of bullshit to go down, that shit you’d expect out nobody but me. I’m lucky I’m not dead. Or I am dead. I moved through some bout of hysteria last night when the fiancée was around, and I was sure it was the moment that was going to scare her off even though she’s nuts about me and I’m nuts about her—only I’m pretty positive that I’m certifiably nuts. Got 230
the doctor’s notes and the shrink’s four upper file cabinets to prove it. We made love last night, and maybe it was from the chemicals my body manufactures or maybe it was from the chemicals other folks manufacture—the CBD oil I smoked earlier that night, the Sleepy Time Tea I brewed, or the special Calm The Fuck Down Powder I stirred into the tea—but I felt really good. I felt like I was in a dream. Soon as the orgasm subsided it was like floating on a cloud. And it definitely had something to do with the electric shock my body survived the day before, because ever since that moment I’ve felt insanely good. Like I got my battery recharged or something. Or something. My mind lingered on that a little bit after the orgasm. We jumped in the shower and I pondered on a passing thought, maybe just for a bit too long as I tend to do. We obsessives, we do that. I thought to myself, what if this is all a coma that I’ll live out for forty-three years in my head only to wake up at the age of twenty-seven again and realize all those wonderful moments with my wife and our two children and the dog, even—oh, not the dog, too! Ah fuck, where did all those years go? What have I been doing? Lying in a hospital bed with a tube in my throat and a suction thingy on my penis and getting rubbed down with sponges by nurses, and the occasional visit from my fiancée who’s thinking, We were supposed to get married in only a few months—what if he never wakes up? What if I never wake up from this? Even now I feel high. I feel like I’m living out another chance. I told dad what happened with replacing the pipes and he said to use my nine lives respectfully. Coming from the guy who I’ve been hell-bent on out-doing as far as being destructive, and I may have already surpassed him. I haven’t told him everything I did yet. My early twenties were the first seven lives. Two days ago I shocked the eighth out of me. Now I’m living out my ninth in a basement,
writing. They moved me down here, thought it the right setting for a mad kid writing madly. Now they’re saying, Get on with it, already, and tell them what happened. I don’t know if I can. I’m likely writing myself into hysteria this very moment. Because I don’t feel right. I feel off. Like I should be calling the doctor and getting in to have my heart checked, my brain examined, whatever it is they do. Crack open the chest, maybe feel around and see what’s wrong like the hood of a car. Check the engine. I know it’s on but it’s making a sound I’ve never heard before. Don’t you hear that? It’s like a rattling. Or a humming. It’s up underneath there somewhere, and it’s vibrating from my fingers to the crown of my head. I don’t know if I’m alright or not. Zero to sixty is the only way to get this automotive moving. Dad would go off about God around this time. His big plan. He’s just self-medicating, maybe. Me, too. They prescribed this: go to the basement, go write. I should be getting medication for them. They just said there’s no suppressing them. Anyway, so I’m cutting through a lead pipe. It’s real soft. I’m steadying a metal cutter with both hands, just about to saw all the way through. I stop, readjust, bracing myself against the ceiling with my left hand, sawing with the right. Saw, buzz, cut through. It’s done. Dan’s out at the shop, been away only a few minutes. Five, maybe. Water’s been dripping down through the pipe for a while now so I placed a bucket beneath where I was cutting, let it drain a bit. I’m standing on the kitchen counter with the metal cutter in my hands which is plugged into the wall outlet. Water’s all over it. Maybe I didn’t think about that at the time. I think I did. I think I knew it wasn’t safe. But the real mistake was grabbing that lead pipe with
my left hand. The hand was gloved and the glove maybe dampened the shock a bit, but I don’t know how else to describe this other than the next few minutes being You won’t see this on paper the same way I just sat there at my computer ready to type out those new few minutes, sort of frozen. Maybe when I read this aloud I’ll perform for you the full effect but It’s always go-go-go with me, not enough slowing down. Dad was like that. Sort of still is but he’s more a husk of the man he once was, the man I’ll never meet but get glimpses of. He tells me stories of selling cellphones back in 1986, back when cellphones were the size of bricks. And he’d make his first sale and go celebrate in the back room with another buddy by snorting a line of coke. It started in a bathroom. His buddy would say, I’ve got a gift for you in the last stall, go check it out. And dad stared at it before ingesting it. I don’t know what he was thinking before he did but he did describe a pause. He definitely hesitated. And that may have been one of the few times he ever hesitated. These days, he’s living out the longest pause. He’ll profess his undying love for my mother as if it’s still fresh, newfound, and unfettered. He asks if he can talk to her sometime. He doesn’t know how badly those kinds of words could hurt her now. Mom can’t handle love, not from him. His words to her would be like me grabbing that lead pipe. I grabbed the lead pipe, and it grounded me. Whatever electric current was swirling inside that house ran right through me. It began as a vibration in my left arm. I turned irrational. I thought to myself, It’s the lead! It’s the lead! I’ve got lead poisoning!
See, I have a history with panic. It comes with a heavy helping of childhood trauma and a few rounds of dessert, some sweet and savory years of binge drinking and screwing whoever wants a turn. My mind experiences fear and it sends all these messages to the nerves throughout my body, then my mind interprets these nerve responses as actual threats, and then I fear whatever it is my body is doing. It’s the Ouroboros. I completed the circle, connecting that current in a fleeting moment. And I jumped off the kitchen counter, shouting madly, Oh no, oh no, oh no no no no no no no no. I got to the front patio and the vibrations entered my right arm. Then my skull. I said, oh no, no no no no no. I shouted for everyone and anyone nearby to hear, “I have lead poisoning! Help! I think I’m dying!” Dad got caught in the bathroom in our California apartment. I was four, five maybe? Mom checked the door, found it locked. She jiggled the knob. She wanted inside. He swears it was the first and only time he prepped a line inside our home. He hadn’t even gotten a good sniff in and she knew something was wrong. He says, That woman has a sixth sense. All women do. She knew something wasn’t right. I know it was God trying to tell me some thing. And I should have listened. Thirty years down the drain. And I’m being punished now. I shouted to the neighborhood and all of goddamn Portland, “I have lead poisoning! Help! Somebody!” Oh my god, oh my god, and other thoughts alike in my head. I know I thought of my fiancée and my mother and my father and so many people I wanted to talk to more, people who I put off until another day because I have the time, but in this moment I didn’t know how much I had. I ran down a block—really, I tore through that block like it was next door, and into that restaurant yelling, “Someone! Please, somebody help! I think I have lead poisoning!” Five people were surrounding me like a great big hug. How do we wash lead off? Is that even possible? Here, put your hands in bleach. I washed my arms off in a bleach bucket. 232
I ran into the bathroom to wash my hands off further, scrubbing until whatever alien substance would slough off. I could feel it. Like mercury, some weird goo mixture slipping off my hands and into the sink. But what it was—unbeknownst to me at the time—it was the temporary nerve stimulus from the electric shock. Every nerve inside my palms was on fire. Like pins and needles when your leg falls asleep. But it was the lead—I swore it was the lead. Dad swears a lot about his intentions. He lives mostly to regret. There isn’t a whole lot more to say about this. I wrote two books. I thought I could start a third, maybe force myself into a basement to pen the adventures of Daryl, father of me. This is that last entry. So the EMTS arrived and they checked my vitals, said my blood-oxygen level was one-hundred percent and my heart rate was only ninety-five. They said, We think you’re fine. And lead poisoning is something that happens over time, like liver damage. You just need to breathe. I didn’t tell them I was prone to panic. I did tell them about the water and the multitool and grabbing the pipe. They said it sounded like I got shocked. Not electrocuted since -cuted stems from -cution like execution. I didn’t die. Or I did die. And this is the coma. Me sitting in a basement. Last night, though, it hit me. Somewhere after sex it hit me like a freight train. Whatever fog of anxiety had been resting in my chest for years had somehow lifted, and all I felt was an overwhelming amount of regret. I sat in bed in my boxer briefs in front of my fiancée and I sobbed. She sat watching me. What could she do? We didn’t know what was happening. Let me cut the bullshit and tell you about Helen. She lights my fire. She lures me into talking honestly. She looks good in everything she wears and she says so. She also isn’t my fiancée.
Tonight was another could have been. One of many. We do this. We’re practical. If my house was empty or her house was empty it may be different, but it never works out that way because it just isn’t supposed to. Doesn’t matter if we’re in love. I love them both. Equally. I said that out loud tonight. Helen told me to just be honest for once, to quit giving this narrative. I said, “It’s sort of what I do.” I said, “Okay, I love both you. I don’t love more one the other.” She said, “Now that sounds honest.” She needs to go to grad school and I need to be here. They need me here. They aren’t done with me yet, and I’m not done with them. She needs to be spectacular. And not with me. It sounds insane. We first met on the phone. I called back to the offices from the warehouse, and Helen answered. She was snarky. I was engaged then, too. Not to my fiancée now, but to a friend I couldn’t let go of for six years. I guess that’s just something I do. I interviewed for a job in the offices so I could work next to Helen. We’d pop our heads up over the cubicles and chat, and we’d have our could have beens at bars after our coworkers skirted off back home. We’d make up excuses just to talk throughout the day, mostly me bringing her coffee or tea or eating my lunch at her desk. We both took charge of the office xmas decorations. We’d stay late in the parking lot talking about whatever just to keep watching how the other one smiled or laughed or got riled up. We argued a lot. She pissed me off. I got under her skin. I wrote about her in a way that no one could know it was her. And tonight we said goodbye. Her crying was one of the sweetest images I’ve played witness to. If the universe loves me it will not grant me what I want. She told me, “I’ve known you for three years of your life, right?” She told me, “This wasn’t a moment. This was another could have been.” She told me, “Goodnight. It’s been a pleasure.”
She told me, “I do have regrets. And I have to live with them. Just as you do.” She told me, “You shaved your head. You’re wearing glasses. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just a lot hitting me all at once.” If I retrace the last three years of my life I can hardly recognize it. Shock me again and maybe I’ll jump backwards into those boots and that blue polo and the forklift, and Helen will walk around the corner to ask for a tour of the warehouse because she’s just wanting another excuse to see me fumble over how to dilate the moment, how to stretch it out, how to make it last. There are not enough near-death experiences to return me to something familiar. Every day I awake I’m further from where I imagined. Which life am I living? I could have loved or I could have loved.
When the Sun is High and the
Snow Half-Melted Lena Ziegler
From the time she was a little girl, Ruthie knew she was different. For one, she had hair like liquid smoke, the color of a shadow. For another, she had a Cyclops eye. Not the medical term of course, but the term nonetheless to describe a person, a child, who only cried from one eye, and in Ruthie’s case her left. Of course in television and movies one-eyed tears are a sign of intensity. A single lone tear rolled down her cheek, but she did not waiver as the men burned her village and family. But Ruthie’s tears were not stoic. They were not proud. Her tears came like any other young girl’s, in floods of rain and salt, dispensing from her eye, violently, swelling her lid, coloring her cornea with scribbles of red and blood. Her nose only ran from one side too, long strings of mucus from the left nostril, so during sad stories and poems and when her pet squirrel died, Ruthie’s round face, grew rosy pink as one side distorted into grief and the other stayed as calm and pretty as anything you’ve ever seen. Mother never told Ruthie that this wasn’t normal and since Mother never cried, Ruthie had no reason not to believe her. After all, Ruthie had only ever known Mother and Fred/Stephen, the man with the horses, and from what she could tell, he never had any reason to cry (he had horses, after all). On Sundays if the sun was high and the snow half-melted, Mother would take Ruthie’s hand and walk with her through puddled and muddied road to the ranch belonging to the man with the horses. She heard her mother call him Fred, despite shouting another name, Stephen, from behind his cabin door, in what sounded like a kind of sweet pain Ruthie couldn’t understand, while Ruthie fed the horses old carrots and apples. She didn’t know what to call him, so she called him Fred/Stephen.
* Mother said over 400,000 people live this way, in the ice and the cold, under the perpetual weight of snow. But Ruthie had a hard time believing it. From what she could tell it was only herself, Mother, and Fred/Stephen. From what she could tell, she never had a father. The old work boots in the back of mother’s closet, two times too large for her to wear herself, seemed to have grown from the floor boards. “I don’t know why you have such a fascination with those old boots,” Mother would say, when Ruthie would slip them on her feet, wiggling her toes in the empty space a man’s foot would fill. “They are dirty, grimy old things.” Ruthie didn’t care. She had read in a book once that shoes like this were made from cow and moose. She didn’t understand how hair and skin could be removed from an animal, stretched and pressed and stitched into shape, form fitting to a foot it had never met before.
“You know, starvation is rarely the cause of death,” Fred/ Stephen, the man with the horses, said to Ruthie on Sunday morning, patting the back of the brown and white speckled mare Ruthie named Mermaid.
“Is she going to die?” Ruthie asked. “Hard to say,” Fred/Stephen replied. He removed his hat, spit in it, then placed it back on his head. Ruthie had seen him do this many times, but never thought to ask why. “She’s a tough one. Got her ‘bout fifteen years back. Should get a few more years out of her. Hard to say.” Ruthie looked at Mother. Mother was standing with her back to the fence, staring at the door on Fred/ Stephen’s cabin. Four months a year, the wheat fields grew, stretching, sprouting like golden earth fur, filling the mile of empty land between their cabin and Fred/Stephen’s. Mother’s hair was like a wheat field. Shimmering, sunlit and glowing around her chin and cheeks in the summer, feathering across her face in the warm air, sometimes caught between her lips as she smiled. But for the rest of the year her hair grew dark, although not as dark as Ruthie’s. Dark and unmoving, like the wind died right along with everything else. “What do you think, Mother?” Ruthie asked, tugging mother’s coat. “About what, Ruthie?” Mother looked at the ground. She kicked a large piece of gravel in the cabin’s direction. “About Mermaid. Do you think she’ll be ok?” Mother didn’t look at Ruthie and she didn’t look at Mermaid, either. Instead she straightened up and looked at Fred/Stephen. “I don’t have much time today. Can we get going?” she said. He nodded, patted Mermaid one last time. “Now Ruthie,” he said. “I don’t want you worrying about this old girl. Mermaid comes from a tough breed. My family has been raising horses for as many years back as there are strands of hair on your head. We raise good, strong animals.” “I know,” Ruthie said. “Now, I don’t know why she stopped eating. But like I say, starvation doesn’t kill like you might think it does. My ancestors came from Russia. In the old days they worked their hands to the bone on empty stomachs and still managed to raise up hearty kids and live long.” “Why are you telling her this?” Mother interrupted. “Why shouldn’t I tell her this?” “It’s upsetting.” “It’s life, darlin,” Fred/Stephen said, patting Mother’s head as if she were Mermaid. Mother pulled away and walked toward the cabin. “You coming?” she called back. Ruthie watched Fred/Stephen scratch his head beneath his hat. His eyes were dark like the underside of a mush-
room. His face reminded Ruthie of the old work boots in mother's closet “Tell you what, Ruthie,” Fred/Stephen said. “I promise Mermaid to you, when she’s all better. You know what that means, don’t you?” “I think so,” Ruthie said. Mother shook head her in front of the cabin door. “It means you have my word that I will give you Mermaid for you to keep when she is all better.” “You mean it?” Ruthie asked. “You bet, girlie.” Ruthie looked at Mermaid, her long mane hanging straight and unmoving against her back, like Mother’s.
* Although Ruthie had never seen the Arctic Ocean she knew that was where the wind came from, like shrapnel, cutting through her and everything else. Though the sun was high and the snow half-melted, the wind sustained, so as Mother and Fred/Stephen went together behind the cabin door, Ruthie stayed outside with Mermaid, trying to feed her carrots and apples with fingers, just beginning to numb. “Mermaid, why won’t you eat?” Ruthie frowned, dropping her hand to her side. Mermaid exhaled a white cloud of hot breath into Ruthie’s face. Of all the horses Fred/Stephen owned, Mermaid was the only one who ever let Ruthie ride or feed or brush her. Mermaid was the only one that ever seemed to like Ruthie, and now even she wouldn’t take a bite of apple from Ruthie’s hand. Ruthie rubbed Mermaid’s nose. She couldn’t understand why Mermaid wasn’t eating, why she was turning into nothing but skin and bone. She imagined if Mermaid didn’t start eating, didn’t get better, that Fred/Stephen might shoot her, skin her and turn her hide into work boots. She couldn’t stand the thought. “Mermaid, you have junk in your teeth!” Ruthie said, noticing for the first time, a clump of dirt in Mermaid’s smile. “Why are you eating dirt?” She found Mermaid’s water pail halfway under the fence with an inch of ice covering it, hay frozen in the surface, sticking up like legs. She clutched a rock and smashed the ice, unearthing the clean water beneath it. Mermaid plunged her nose and lips into the pail, chunks of ice spilling out from the lashing of her tongue as she drank. Ruthie gazed toward the cabin. For as long as she could remember, Mother had taken her to vis 235
it the horses every Sunday when the sun was high and the snow half melted. For as long as she could remember, she stayed outside on her own, with the fields and mountains surrounding her with blue, white, and green, the morning haze of sun-heat radiating from the snow descending upon the silence of the ranch like a kind of tangible heaven. These days were the best days Ruthie could remember. The days when she could leave the cabin, hold hands with Mother, and walk the long stretch of world between her and the horses, and lose herself for what felt like hours in the warmth of Mer maid’s breath on her fingertips, the light spray of apple as it crunched between her teeth, the gratitude in her eyes as she stared at Ruthie, smiling just for her. Mermaid left eye was filled with yellow and green goop, leaking like Ruthie’s when she cried her Cyclops tears. Her hair was hanging, dark and unmoving like Mother’s when the summer was gone and the wheat fields were plowed and sold away for meat and oil. Some nights Fred/Stephen visited their cabin and Ruthie would listen as he and Mother talked by the living room fire. She attempted to extract meaning from each word, words coming from Mother, short and spontaneous like a sneeze. Yes. No. Ruthie. Please. No. Hungry. Ruthie. Nothing. These were words Ruthie knew, but couldn’t understand when Mother said them, quiet, hushed. She’d watch Fred/ Stephen touch Mother’s hand and watch Mother pull her hand away. She’d watch Fred/Stephen touch Mother’s leg and watch Mother sit still. She’d watch Fred/Stephen’s hand travel up Mother’s leg and Mother make a sound that made Ruthie scramble away, and hide behind her bedroom wall. In the morning bacon air would permeate the small cabin and Ruthie would eat her fill of fresh
eggs, Mother said came from Fred/Stephen, the man with the horses. Ruthie would drink tall glasses of milk and try on new boots. Ruthie would flip through the stack of used books that weren’t there the night before, looking for pictures especially of horses. At night, Ruthie would sit in Mother’s lap, by the fire, as Mother read stories from the Bible and poems from German writers her own mother had loved. “The demon may assume the shape of the innocent.” “What is assume?” Ruthie asked. “It means things aren’t always what they seem,” Mother said. “Like what?” “Like an apple. An apple can look real good and fresh, and then when you bite it, it’s not so good.” “I hate that.” Ruthie said. “Well, that’s what it means,” Mother said, opening another book. “World does not ask those snatched from death where they are going, they are always going to their graves.” Mother paused and stared at Ruthie, brushing liquid smoke from her face. “Does that scare you Ruthie?” “No. Should it scare me?” Ruthie asked. “I don’t think so,” Mother said, kissing Ruthie’s forehead and drawing her close. Ruthie hesitated for a moment. “Will you die?” “Yes,” Mother replied. “We all will.” “When?” Mother closed the book and set it aside, taking a deep breath. “When the time comes. When there is no food left and it gets too cold.”
Man Imagines : The Look Richard Vyse Illustration
ODE TO A BIRD I see your silhouette in my sky. You sail down close to earth, Then with wings open and closing Like the pages of a big book, You fly off far and high. I donâ€™t know if ever again You will grace my skies. Where do you land? Where do you go to rest? Is that nest safe and warm? Are there other birds there? If either of us should die Or be somehow ravaged The other would never know. How could I bear Never seeing you Or hearing your sweet song? Will you come back with spring Or perform your show In other, bluer skies? Always I will listen for your voice, Watch for your graceful sky-dance. Other birds will migrate here But they could never sing or fly Like you.
HALF SAFE Traffic slowed to a halt. Bored, I watched the road workers. Five men in orange safety vests digging, chopping, shoveling in the median barrier. Sun bearing down on five nearly shorn heads, no hard hats, all wearing faded blue jumpsuits. Then I spotted a sixth man striding briskly down the grass toward the men, no hard hat, just khaki pants and shirt with matching billed cap, and around his waist, a leather belt where a gun hung in a holster. Then it struck me-this was todayâ€™s chain gang! I was moved, but the traffic didnâ€™t. We were stalled and staring.
INSIGHT Out of the ether comes a breath a fragrance a shadow All the senses are aroused What is the presence? a beloved deceased? a sweet memory? a deep dream? All of these from the ether of another world of which we know so little but feel so much The where from which we come and to which we will go
Norma Alonzo Acrylic on board
Closer Nicole Holtzman
We’re sitting on the curb near our abandoned gas station.
We walk around back, to the boarded-up windows and I push the plywood aside. We climb through the window like every other time. We’re hardly in before he’s pushing me-hard-toward the wall, kissing me. There’s broken glass everywhere and it crunches as we move back. It’s dark and I can’t really see his face. I think he likes this, that’s why we do this here. Sometimes I think I won't follow him here, I don’t need to be treated like this; he won’t even look at me in class. We've known each other since grade school but we never speak to each other apart from at our gas station. I think he hates that we have even this in common. Back Then He used to bully me, like he used to bully everyone. Once, after gym, when I was walking to the showers he tripped me. My towel fell. I hit my chin on the ground and watched the blood seep out of me onto the white shower tiles. People bullied me because I was small and gay, but no one was as cruel as him. I kept away from places where other kids hung out. On the bus rides home after school, I waited to be the last person on, and the last person off the bus. I wanted to sit alone in the back. Then there was the day in sixth grade when he got off, riffled around in his backpack until I got out. "Chris," he said. "Let's hang out." It wasn't even a question. I thought he wanted to beat me up. That's the day we started coming here. After we had finished, he had spit on me, called me gay. I stayed after, sat alone outside, watching the spit dry on my coat. His mom got breast cancer that year. People sensed his power was winding down. They started picking on him like he had picked on them. Said he’d sucked dead tits. People have a way of finding your weaknesses. I think he was just glad they hadn't figured out this weakness, so after a while, he let himself fall. He isn't so different from me now. Mostly he doesn't talk to anyone. I’m not much better off, but I feel bad for him. For a while, they thought his mom was cured. She relapsed though. Now I can see the outline of his face, and I know he's crying. I feel the wetness on our faces. I wonder if he'll leave if I hug him, if he’ll tell me to fuck off. We've stopped moving backward now and we're up against the wall, stained with piss and shit, and God knows what else. He's rushing, undoing my belt. He wants me because he doesn't want his sadness today. I think that, but I let him put his hand down my pants anyway. Two years ago today his mom died. He had cried when we came here that day. It was the only time we talked about her. He wouldn't let me touch him, even to hug him. All he would say was "They said she was fucking better." My left finger is in his belt loop and my right hand is unzipping his pants. I let my right hand slide up, though, to his stomach, to his side, to his lower back. My palm pushes him closer. He is surprised, I think, and he stills himself, takes his hand out of my pants. Maybe he is angry. He might leave. But he stands there a while longer, my hand still on his back, before he tells me to button my pants. He buttons his and then leans his face on my shoulder, lets his arms slide around my waist, pulling me closer. 241
The Mostly True Account of Edward and Louisa Rippy
In the autumn of 1871, a twice-wounded veteran of the Army of Northern Virginia named Edward Rippy moved his wife Louisa from a dilapidated plantation in Dixon, Tennessee to a log cabin just north of Mineral Wells, Texas. The cabin sat on a granite bluff overlooking Rock creek, a swift, shallow tributary of the Brazos river. Surrounding the cabin were thirty acres of blackland prairie dotted with tangled knots of thorny mesquite. When it rained, the thick black soil reeked of sulphur. It was harsh, unforgiving country and the government was giving it away to keep pushing Comanches west. Edward understood the risks but as he explained to Louisa, turning away land ain’t good sense. They spent most of December packing clay between gaps in the logs and when the first blue northern rolled down from Canada they were ready. The next morning, Louisa made a pot of coffee and they sat on the porch air and drank. Black buzzards mottled the milky-white sky, searching for rabbits freshly paralyzed from the cold. Edward sniffed the air and not smelling rain decided to keep working on the horse barn. He had it in his head to get it up before spring and wouldn’t listen to common sense. “We don’t own no horses,” said Louisa, sitting in her rocker, her grandmother’s shawl pulled around her shoulders and neck. “That’s cause we don’t have a barn.” said Edward. She rocked and watched her breath swirl. “Stealing horses is their trade,” she said. “Don’t need reminding.” “They’ll wait until you stock it.” “You been reading cards?” Edward believed God had commanded them to keep pushing west. Louisa didn’t see why God cared where anybody lived and said as much. “That’s blasphemy,” he said then huffed off the porch and crossed the frozen field toward the embankment and the horse barn beyond.
Louisa rocked on the porch until a dog barked close. She finished her coffee then hurried inside, almost tripping on the sill. The cabin was warm and she wrapped salt pork and biscuits in butcher paper, tucked a plug of tobacco under her blouse then used two strips of leather to secure the Colt Walker around her waistband. The horse barn was on the opposite side of Rock creek, nestled on the edge of an open meadow. Though Edward fancied himself a cattle baron he had yet to consider a fence. Not to mention the cost of feed. Louisa was almost to the embankment when a cold rain hit. She scrambled down the muddy slope and slipped on creek stones before finding cover under a mesquite tree. The rain picked up and Rock creek started to rise. A young buck splashed into view, worn down from the rut. The buck raised its antlers then dropped, an arrow through the neck. Louisa knew better than to move. Two mounted Comanches rode up. The elder wore a buffalo robe and hide-skin boots. His braids reached the small of his back. He twirled a six-foot lance over his head as he rode. They called him One Who Breathes Fire and Parker county feared him like no other. He once rode with Quanah Parker and was a known killer of women and children. A young warrior rode beside him, bare to the waist. He’d painted his horse yellow, the color of war. He slapped the beast forward, lowered his torso and snatched up the deer without breaking gallop. When he circled back -- the deer draped across both shoulders like a rich woman’s mink -- One Who Breathes Fire jabbed the lance in his face. The young warrior held his ground but Louisa would never know for how long because a snake slithered her foot. She tried her best not to scream but Louisa could never tolerate snakes. One Who Breathes Fire flushed her out and told her to run. Louisa knew enough to know she’d end up like that deer if she ran. She did the next best
thing and unbuttoned two buttons on her blouse. One Who Breathes Fire lowered his lance. Louisa fished around her blouse, found the tobacco and offered it as a gift. She had no idea if he’d noticed the Colt Walker. Comanches never let on. One Who Breathes Fire accepted the tobacco with a grunt. White perfectly straight teeth, like a preacher she knew growing up. The shirt under his robe had pearl snaps. When he pinched off a plug, Louisa took aim with the Colt Walker. “If you kill me,” she said, “I’ll kill you right back.” One Who Breathes Fire whooped, frightening his horse. “Better listen to your mount,” warned Louisa. “He knows I’m serious.” Reading horses was strictly Comanche, for a white woman to claim otherwise meant she was crazy or right. One Who Breathes Fire backed away smiling. His hide-skin boots made a sucking sound. He mounted his horse and the young warrior did the same. As they rode up the creek, the rain became mist. By morning the ground had froze over. Louisa put a match to the ball of dried bluestem in the bottom of the wood burning stove and before long Edward was up lacing his boots. She let the wood burn down then got to work on the bacon. The smell might bring wolves but she needed to make amends. Edward drank his coffee and oiled the Colt Walker. Once the bacon was done, he wrapped three strips in butcher paper then put on his buffalo robe, which shrunk him. “Don’t see how you’re gonna cut wood in that,” said Louisa, unable to stop herself. “Don’t you worry about me.” “I ain’t worried.” Edward walked out the door without looking her in the eye.
Louisa sat at the table and picked at her biscuit and thought about her sister in Baltimore. Maybe she could go live there. Maybe she could prepare their meals. Or maybe Edward would come around like he always did. She washed down her biscuit with a pint of cold coffee then set out to look for him, forgetting her shawl. Mesquites glistened, their limbs heavy with ice. She made her way across the field, not knowing what to say when she found him but knowing she had to say something. A dog trotted up the path that ran along the edge of the embankment. Seeing her, it barked twice then sat on its haunches. Edward came crawling up behind the dog, two arrows in his back. He struggled to keep his knees off the ground. A rope had been fastened around his neck and led to the saddle horn of One Who Breathes Fire, who trotted up slowly. He yanked on the rope and Edward cried out. The young warrior in the yellow horse rode up howling. He wore Ed’s buffalo robe. Louisa made for the cabin but didn't get far before an arrow took her down. The young warrior was on her fast. He put a Bowie knife to her throat and ordered her to disrobe. When she refused, One Who Breathes Fire put a third arrow in Edward’s back. She took off everything but her undergarments. The young warrior used his knife to make her naked. The cold was beyond anything she’d experienced and her body quickly went numb. The young warrior drove two stakes in the ground then ordered her to lie down. He tied each wrist to a stake but she couldn’t feel the rope. He opened his robe, climbed on top and ordered her to watch. When she refused, he shoved her head to the side. One Who Breathes Fire cut a gash in Edward’s forehead then peeled back his scalp. Louisa kept her eyes open long as she could.
The Only Regret Danielle Dayney
I approach the turquoise building on Lafayette Street, just as the spring drizzle changes to a downpour. Once an old factory, the floors are now repurposed to cram aisles and aisles of used and rare books. I walk through the front door and meander until I see her. First, I notice her auburn hair, tied back in a knot. Then I see her clover-colored flats and every curve between. “Megan?” I call. “I’d know that messy bun anywhere.” “Simon?” Megan spins from the romance novels and smiles coyly. After all these years, her smile still can illuminate these aisles filled with old paper and words. “What brings you back to Detroit?” “We’re opening a satellite firm.” I shrug. She nods. “How long has it been?” “Seven years,” I say. The last time I saw Megan, she shoved divorce papers in my face because I took a job in New York City, even though she begged me to stay here in Michigan. “I can’t believe it. How are you?” She glides toward me like a swan with her tunic flowing behind her. Her hand grazes my shoulder and she leaves it there. I see her ring. “I’m alright. How are you and…what’s his name again?” I ask. Megan drops her hand and steps backward. “Luke. He’s good.” “Good,” I repeat. I pick up a book to make small talk. “This one’s a page-turner. There’s this guy who stupidly leaves the love of his life for work. It takes him years to realize his mistake so he flies home to find her, and well, I won’t ruin it for you.” I pull at my pink plaid tie to give my neck some air. She laughs. “You still at R.R.C.?” Megan examines the back cover of a book. She frowns and loads it onto the shelf. I think she’s avoiding eye contact with me. “Yep. I’ll make partner soon.” I lean over to get her attention. Megan looks up, blankly. “Good for you. Glad all your sacrifices are finally paying off.” “What about you? How’s life as bookstore manager?” “Actually, I own this place now. It went into foreclosure and Luke gave me a loan,” she says. “Wait. Aren’t you guys married?”
“Engaged, but we have an arrangement. No mixing of money. It works for us, I guess.” Megan shrugs. She runs her fingers across the spines of the books in front of her, then bends toward me slightly to blow dust in the air. “Are you seeing anybody?” “Not really.” Something flickers across her face. Perhaps satisfaction, but it’s gone before I can tell for sure. “Let me take you to that Thai place we used to go to.” I move closer to her, and I can smell her flowery shampoo. “Wait, what?” She questions, stumbling back into a shelf of books. Several fall to the ground, and we both bend to retrieve them. “Just to catch up, I mean. My treat.” I take the stack of books from her and stand, placing them back on the shelf. “I’m supposed to meet Luke for lunch,” she says. “I miss you. Leaving you is my only regret.” I reach for her cheek. She pulls back. “Really, Simon?” she asks. I notice her emerald eyes, two green lights. “Remember when I proposed to you at the Pistons’ game?” I tuck a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “I will always love you, Megan.” “You are ridiculous.” A smile squirms across her face. “Coffee then?” I plead. “Please. I miss your eyes, your vanilla perfume, and the way you tug at your bun when you’re nervous.” “Stop it.” Megan jerks her hand from her hair and looks away, blushing. Before she can object, I pull her face towards mine and kiss her. There are a million apologies I want to offer, but nothing I can say will make up for leaving her. She’s the one. I run my thumb along her jaw to the soft spot below her earlobe. I trail kisses behind my thumb. First, she turns her jaw up toward me, but then she pulls away and presses my chest with her hands. “Simon.” “Please have coffee with me. I’ll be nice. Lawyer’s honor.” I hold up two fingers like a boy scout, then toss my tie over my shoulder and wrap my hands around her hips. She turns and looks down, placing her hand on her stomach. I notice her protruding belly. “You’re too late to save us.”
Van Anderson Mixed Media
Enough, a deconstruction
My mother, the English teacher, had, among her many books, only one volume on child-rearing. “How to Raise a Self-Reliant Child.” She kept it by her bedside, so she must have referred to it often. She indeed raised three self-reliant adults, sometimes too self-reliant, so she must have referenced it often.
And now, it is to unlearn. I can’t.
More Once, I referred to Monsanto as “the devil company” as my father and I were driving down the gravel road in his truck, through the rows and rows of all-consuming, to be all-consumed green stalks, upon stalks, uniform. He used to look down the rows, his head turned 90 degrees left as we drove. How straight, how well had the farmer planted? The metrics were off. It was no longer about feeding people, already in one short generation. From my grandpa’s two-row planter to the need for Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid, signaled one thing: Produce more. More land. More equipment. More herbicides. Equals more pressure on the sweet Nebraska topsoil, blowing away. Equals more taking from the sweet Nebraska aquifer, depleting. A system, a people, funneled. Equals more, more, more profits. Indigenous ears cleared away, to make room for white man’s striving, which beats so loud in his ears, that humanity disappears. Bring on this “new” continent! More, is within our reach, this great-great granddaughter of immigrants was taught. This land will save us, if we work hard enough. “This is our opportunity,” did they utter in low German? “Trouble is,” reminds my taxi driver, newly arrived from Bangladesh. “You can work hard, get ahead here.” How can this immigrant argue? His generations are not yet tired from more, more, more. With every “opportunity,” the failing is yours.
Better So be super tuned to improvement. Gotta spot those failings quickly, especially if you are a self-reliant nine-year-old, and daddy never comes to your school programs. The bar holds his pain. You only know he never appears at the gymnasium entrance, not even late, to stand at the side, and hear you sing. He has a beautiful baritone, perfect pitch. If you were better, maybe he would arrive, be, finally, a party to this covenant.
Now In Zimbabwe, if you want to request that someone do something immediately, you add to your statement or question the adverb, “now, now, now.” Do not confuse it with “now,” or “now now,” or “just now.” Especially “just now,” which means “you’re going to be waiting a looooong time.” As a U.S. citizen, my oh my how I over-used “now now now.” Immediate. Hop to. Get it done. Drilled-in. Always forward. Why wait? Now enters our digital age, solidifying the immediate “now now now” not just a request, but a way of life. A black and white reel, with the same grainy images running across the brain. The same brutal, exhausting, re-traumatizing images. And upon the fulfillment of more-better-now arrives the American dream, built on this shakey, slimy bedrock. Work is duty, liturgy, tangled up in codes, passed down from pained generations, now transmitted through the screen. “Just now,” says the rich, “you can have more, be better.” My people. We no longer milk cows. We now milk ourselves. Until we are dry. I am dry.
This Somewhere in this code, when my people walked with the currents, they used what they had, they knew how to replenish. Those immigrants also installed, “how to start again.” I can. 247
ONE AFTERNOON Craig Etchison
Cecil hurried home from school on a late January afternoon. Heavy gray clouds threatened snow and early darkness, and he involuntarily shuddered. Being alone after dark in this section of Baltimore wasn’t safe. Not for someone like him. Cecil felt tentacles of fear twisting in his stomach, tentacles he had often experienced, though he never got used to them—or mastered them. He did his best to stay off the streets at night, or any time the gangs were rumbling around, but sometimes circumstances prevented him getting home during the relative safety of daylight. Cecil had stayed an hour after school dismissal to get extra help in Algebra from Mr. Kline. Mr. Kline always made time for extra help because he knew that Cecil had a dream, a dream to be an architect. Cecil knew he would need a good background in math if he wanted to go to a good school of architecture and be successful. Cecil had two more years of high school, and then he wanted to attend Georgia Tech. He would need good grades, too, especially in math, to be accepted at Tech. Good grades meant lots of extra work, but Cecil was willing to work. He was determined to make his dream come true no matter how hard he had to work or how much he had to give up. Going to Tech was more important the watching television, than playing video games, than hanging out or goofing off with his friends. To get home, Cecil walked eight blocks south from school, then took a right on Lee Street for six blocks through one of the worst sections in the city. Sidewalks were cracked and splintered, as if someone had randomly struck them with a mighty sledgehammer, and yellowed newspapers blew about, piling up in shuttered doorways. Soda cans and empty beer bottles, some smashed, littered the sidewalk and gutters. Graffiti covered sheets of plywood that covered many of the windows. Cecil pretended not to be afraid when he walked down Lee Street, but the tentacles of fear kept growing inside him until they touched every cell in his body. Older guys with eyes cold as a Siberian winter hung out around the vacant buildings, backs to the walls, cigarettes hanging from lips that had long forgotten how to utter a kind word. Fluorescent lights winked a welcome to a few dismal bars holding out against the creeping decay, bars always the last to shut down as a block disintegrated. Older guys sometimes picked on younger kids—stealing their money and roughing them up. How else to pay for cheap Iron City Beer or a bottle of Boone’s Farm? Most of the time, Cecil ran the whole six blocks of Lee Street, hoping no one would bother him. That usually worked. He didn't run today. In spite of his fear, he kept thinking about the algebra problem Mr. Kline had given him to solve, working at it on the blackboard in his head, a possible solution close. He loved figuring out a problem on his own. Mr. Kline would be proud of him. Cecil smiled. "You smiling at me, punk?"
Cecil stopped walking. His heart raced, threatened to pound right out of his chest, and he felt sweat on the palms of his hands. He stared up at William, who leaned against a light pole, a joint dangling from his mouth. William had dropped out of school a few years back and now pushed drugs. No one messed with William. He had the temper of a rabid badger, his strength—and cold brutality—legendary on the streets. "I didn't even see you, man," Cecil stammered, mad at himself for stammering. He didn’t want William to know how petrified he was. "What kind of fairy are you—walking along smiling like that?" asked William, cocking his head, eyes cold pits of blackness. Cecil felt the tentacles of fear spasm in his stomach. William liked to hurt people. Hurt people for no reason, or a reason known only to William. Everyone on the street knew that William had killed a couple of people. "I ain't no fairy, man." "You look like one to me, sucker. What with that shit-eating smile and all. How you going to prove you ain’t a fairy?” Two of William's friends, Skeeter and Rummy, sauntered around the corner and walked up to the light pole. "What’s with the little shit?" asked Rummy, taking a pull from the bottle of cheap whiskey in his right hand. "I think he's a fairy. Goes around smiling to hisself," said William, grinning coldly at his two friends. "You want to be my friend?" asked Skeeter in a high, falsetto voice. "What's your problem, boy?" asked Rummy, his words slurred, bending down so his head was only inches from Cecil. The alcohol on Rummy’s breath nearly knocked Cecil back a step. "Don't have no problem," said Cecil. Tears were at the edge of his eyes, but he didn’t want them see how scared he was. His knees felt funny, like he didn't have any control over them. Each second dragged out interminably as he waited for whatever bad thing was going to happen. And bad was coming. He could taste physical pain creeping toward him. Inevitably. "What you doing with all these books," asked Skeeter, knocking the two math books out of Cecil's hand. They landed with a loud thump on the sidewalk. "I been getting extra help at school." Cecil crouched and picked up his books. He brushed dirt off the covers. They hadn’t flopped open, so no harm done. They belonged to Mr. Kline, and Cecil didn’t want anything to happen to them. How could he ever explain if they got messed up? Or stolen. Would Mr. Kline even want to keep helping him? "You have to stay after school?" asked Rummy, grabbing Cecil by the shoulder with a grip that made Cecil wince. Rummy forced Cecil to look into eyes with brown specks floating in a sea of dingy yellow. "I didn't have to stay,” replied Cecil his voice going up an octave, unable to hide the pain of Rummy’s grip from his voice. “I wanted extra help." "You be a fool, punk. What you wasting your time for that way. William give you a real job where you make some nice bread. Don't need no school for that. Ain't that so, William?" Rummy released his grip, and Cecil stepped back. William nodded. Cecil didn't reply. He kept hoping someone would come along to help him, but that wasn't likely. None of his friends were big enough to take on William, besides, most of his friends were long home. Safe inside. Far away from Cecil’s troubles. His dad might have helped, but Cecil didn't know where his dad was. No one did. William took a drag on his joint, held it a long moment before releasing the
smoke as he leered at Cecil. "I think this fairy needs something to help him fly, don't you?" He glanced at his friends, his lips pulled back in a half-smile that was no smile. "Yeah, man. I think so, too." Skeeter laughed and slapped Cecil on the shoulder. “What you think little man? You agree with William?” "On the house, my little fairy," said William, pulling a pill from the pocket of his black leather jacket. "I don't do drugs," said Cecil, his eyes on the pavement. A lump of fear the size of an apple had jammed in his throat, and he could hardly talk. He was close to crying. Why were they picking on him. He hadn’t done anything. "He don't do drugs? My, oh, my." William stepped back, pretending to be startled and offended. "You a little chicken-shit, ain't you?" asked Skeeter, hitting Cecil on the head with his open hand, a short hard slap. "I think it be time you learned to take a hit," said William. "Don't know what you been missing. Besides, you don’t take a hit and you might offend me. Know what I mean, fairy?" "No way, man." The muscles in Cecil's right leg quivered with fear. He wanted to run—he might outrun Rummy and Skeeter since they seemed full of booze, and take his chances with how fast William could run—but he was boxed in. They’d grab him if he made a break for it. "What if I tell you I'm going to beat the shit out of you less you pop this little pill right now?" said William, and he grabbed the front of Cecil’s jacket and lifted him off the sidewalk as easy as if Cecil were a cardboard cutout. Cecil felt his head go light, the alcohol and onions on Williams breath making him nauseous. William might kill him if he got mad. Cecil had once seen William lose his temper, and the guy William beat up nearly died. But Cecil wasn't going to do drugs. He'd never make it to Georgia Tech if he did. He'd never become an architect. He'd never become anything. "Beat on me all you want. I ain't taking no drugs." Cecil stared him right in the eyes. He never saw the fist, only realized what had happened when stars cascaded through his head and he felt himself sprawl on pavement. William bent over Cecil, who lay in a daze. He held a pill to Cecil's lips. "Oh, I think you going to take this. Just need a little help, boy." Cecil clenched his teeth, and a few tears dribbled from his eyes. A car ground to a halt at the curb. "Hey, William," a deep bass voice called from the car. "Talk to me, man." William stood up and swaggered over to the car, Skeeter and Rummy tagging along. Cecil jumped up and grabbed his books. He wasn't waiting around. A moment later he raced down Lee Street toward home. Cecil felt his cheek before he went in the house. It was swollen, and his whole head throbbed. But he'd gotten off lucky. He'd have to be real careful to stay away from William from now on. He'd start using a different route to walk home from school, even if it meant going far out of his way. In spite of his sore cheek, Cecil smiled. They hadn't taken his books. They hadn't forced him to take the drug. He still had his dream. He'd make it to Georgia Tech. He knew he would. No one was going to stop him.
Summers Bohenstiel Mixed Media
Even Death –in the studio of Monika Furmana A window opens to a winter’s sea of clouds. Some mad bird sings as if it is the real spring. Paint jars and pastels clot a stippled commode. The brush thuds and scratches, muffled like distant guns over canvas that billows as if catching a breeze. A second arm snakes from its speckled sleeve, and long, roan fingers ruffle a flaxen field. Her eyes keep seeking the immaculate void for the color of a question that is muddled in mind but must come clean to a world that seizes up in its tracks––the bird, clouds, steam from the tea, the heart-valves of a poet––watching her dream. He wonders if this is hell that he can’t touch her, or heaven that he can see. Even death has no answer.
Postcard from Crimea (1975) ––bought in a used book store, Vilnius (2014) There is a warship off the coast And scores of tanks like turtles Idling, humming Soldiers swarm like bees With black masks Like bats The sonar pings are drowned And we can’t hear them We can’t hear you Crimean pioneer, proud little communist Girl scout of the other empire Facing the monument in front of the sea That rises up in a rage of twisted metal on concrete High, high over her small head, transcendent The marines charge out of their boat For freedom, justice and peace Striding onto the very air Above the child Who puffs her flat chest out with pride And I find Other girls on Google When I google the monument, searching Crimea Evpatoria, Yevpatoria for heroes Half-clad girls on beaches Showing their legs off with pride Next to tanks, masked Men with machine guns, George Clooney, a monument man And the shocking blue of the sea The azure sky
Covenant for Zigmas Jokubas (Jacob) When the damn broke, gushing water, pouring blood you were given to me and I fell for you, like a stone that sparks a thousand notes dropping into deep well water – your pupils reflected a shadow with whom you would wrestle in a tenebrous grove. To no end. You gaze at me from two midnights: your night just passed and my night to come. So forgive me, when I leave you – whom I already know, knowing infinitely, knowing naught. I see the ladder through your eyes: forgotten like a father’s first kiss, but your dream forever if I hold you on this wasted linoleum plain under bright and ignorant bulbs through filthy fluids and drains... I’m on fire, ashes, dust, in you, a babe myself in my father’s arms burning on the mountaintop.
It Is What It Was-Venice Cycles of time and repetition influence us on a daily basis. The cycles that govern us—creation, decay, and transformation—are both concrete and abstract. We tend to drift between these two poles, trying to reconcile why we are, who we are, why we do what we do, why we exist. The Installation “It Is What It Was” takes the form of a geometric landscape made of cubes. The cube, a perfect unit of measurement, is a form that we find and use to describe nature. Cubes are a molecular building block, a basic component of all living things. Cubes varying in size based on ratios found in nature represent individual units that come together to form an abstract mountain range, fall back apart, and then reconvene to form a tree or cloud. Projected onto the cubes are abstract videos of natural objects in transformation, creating a serene and calm visual rhythm and allowing the viewer to contemplate our life cycle and the greater systems that govern nature. The cycle of creation, decay, and transformation becomes apparent as one interacts with the space, as the viewer’s shadow becomes part of the installation, temporarily imprinted for a fleeting moment on the landscape. The transition between knowing and uncertainty is often uncomfortable, liminal, and inescapable. This uncertainty creates a tremendous amount of poetic beauty, giving us meaning and value. The discomfort we feel, however, when considering this relationship often results in avoidance and dismissal of the process of which we are all a part. We need death and decay for new life and regeneration. If we are more attached to the reality of this cycle, would this understanding let us find more comfort in the unknown? Would it change how we interact with each other, and place more value on our relationships?
~ Deidre Argyle
What Is Will Be What Was Deidre Argyle 3Dimensional Work
It Is What It Was- Springfield Deidre Argyle 3Dimensional Work
Iâ€™ll Be Right With You Jameson Currier Illustration
Synapses I knew a woman Who ate lit cigarettes Like Pop Rocks. Sparks fluttered from her mouth Like fireflies from a jar. She would smoke them until There was only one pull left And with the flick of her wrist She would toss back her treat. Her mouth was a topographic map The crags and valleys We're slowly taking over. Her teeth had snuck out Of the fire pit one by one Until only a few stragglers were left.
Feline Lust ran its course, was spent, it crept from me, content, a cat tired of the cadaver. ~ Charles Gallagher
She was bottled lightning She was a seismic tremor. Her hands were orange clay Sticky with nicotine. She was an ashtray fire. As the embers smoldered in her stomach Her eyes would tango and waltz And her heart would bounce from her throat. Without warning The dance would halt. The airwaves grew stagnant. She was the Caribbean skyline. She was the eye of the storm. She would hug me Put her head on my shoulder And whisper, "I love you." "I'm Sorry." She was an electric current A brackish ocean mist. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever wash her teardrops from my shoulder.
~ Zachary Tamer 259
Dawn Whitmore Photography
Black Walnuts My brother and I used to forage for black walnuts that fell and scattered around our great grandparent’s yard. On the hottest days, we ran around the tree’s shade, dreamed of climbing right up its trunk, and into the canopied sky. We picked up round walnuts, broken from last year’s fall, and aimed them at each other’s backs; with bloomed bruises, we took turns throwing them over the fence and into the river. There were days when we could scavenge nothing. Instead, we’d stare out at swimmers, wishing we could dive into the bottom and pull out our tree’s fruit. We stood there and gripped hands, dreaming that we could float our way to branches, or river rock. The afternoon ends with us laying at the yard’s edge; heads enveloped in walnut shade, ears full of gulping water downstream, hitting the bank.
~ Heather Loudermilk
While I’m reading this, my friends are in the streets, of Mexico City, helping to find people under the rubble.
Yesterday there was an earthquake. Carlos José Pérez Sámano
They are looking for thousands of people that are buried underneath tons, and tons, and tons, of rock, cement, concrete, iron, glass. They are looking for children, that are trapped in their fallen schools. In this precise moment, while we listen to this, all these children are screaming with the last of their voices to be rescued. Entire buildings came down, gas explosions, people are in the streets, nobody slept in my destroyed city. Yesterday there was an earthquake. At 2 I was coming back from Septa station. My cellphone didn’t have service, but once I entered to my house and greeted my girlfriend, I started to receiving messages from my friends, then my parents, my brothers, more friends, my cousins, “I’m Ok” “I’m Ok” “Here we are fine” But there was one, an audio of a friend, “Wey, mi abuela está allá, está enfrente de Parque España, puedes checar, porfa, es en la esquina de Sonora, por favor” He was looking for his grandma. And he was crying. I was born in 1985. My generation was called “The generation of the earthquake”. But nobody imagined that 32 years later, the same day, the same fucking day, we would live this again.
We grew with stories of the earthquake, “my cousin died in this apartment” “all Tlatelolco was in ruins” “Ten thousand people died. Or maybe twelve thousand.” We grew with that. We grew doing drills every year. Same day, same day, Yesterday, at 11am all the city did a drill, but the earthquake hit two hours later. Now we don't know how many people will be dead or are dying now. What we know is that buildings are still falling down, this morning, two more. Rocks, rocks, rocks, gas, steel rods. People dying, right now. Children screaming, please, shut up. Mexico is solidary. “Are you ok?” “Yes? I love you.” Talk to you later” Knowing that maybe I will find their names in one of the lists of people rescued. Or worst, that I wont see their names again, and the last message will be that one. Mexico is solidarity. I cried to see the video of people moving stones. “I’m in the streets of América and División del Norte, delegación Coyoacán, an apartment building just fall. There are people trapped, please help to spread. We need help. Only two ambulances had come and like 20 people helping. This just happen fifteen minutes ago. Any person that has family on this building or that know, please send a text message or call this number to give your data and look for people, please help and spread this message as soon as possible. 5548476459” I read messages like that, one after another. “Parents of Daniel Sánchez of 3rd grade group C of Enrique Rebsamen School, your son is in Angeles Acoxpa Hospital, please Retweet." 263
Thousands of messages like that. Names names of brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, parents. And my friends, brothers, sisters, cousins, neighbors are helping to remove stones. Are asking to be quiet, to hear the voices of the people trapped. Are singing “Cielito Lindo” too, in the middle of the night, to keep the spirit high, to bring some happiness in the middle of the smashed flesh. We are strong, we could stand up 32 years ago, we will stand up again. We will come from the ruins, we will rebuild ourselves, shoulder to shoulder, as the videos of people moving small stones. Thousands of people, moving thousands of small stones. We need shovels, we need picks, we need gloves, we need drills, we need helmets, we need antibiotics, we need scissors, we need baby food, we need can food, we need water, we need water They need water. Rescue brigades need water. More than one hundred schools, hospitals, parks, offices, are receiving goods. Our feelings are falling too. We get tired. Of reading the same message, with different names. “Help me to find my brother….” and different names. Which one of them will not make it? Yesterday there was an earthquake, but the consequences of it will affect us tomorrow, and the next week, and the next year, and a couple of years,
when nobody will remember about the earthquake. We need lamps, we need AA batteries, we need gauze, surgical soap, cotton, bandages, blanquets, water, water, water. can food, cookies. We need to rest. But we can’t rest, if children are also getting tired of screaming to be rescued, if people are hurt, underneath the buildings that are still falling. We need power, we need friendship, strength, and we need love. We are devastated. Yesterday there was an earthquake. But as 32 years ago, the same day, we came back with all our hands, we will come back again, and if we fall 2 times, we will stand up 3. Mexico is solidarity and we are living it now. We are united, we will survive, we will save as many lives as possible, we are the earthquake generation, we will survive again, and together we will say “Yesterday there was an earthquake”.
A Memory Not Easily Forgotten
7:30, it was 7:30. Running late as always, I smudged
I pulled up to the school, parked, unbuckled my
peanut butter on two pieces of bread and glopped a heap-
kids, and walked them up to the big red doors of the
ing spoon of jelly on the other slices. “Good enough,” I
school; my daily routine. I squatted down to kiss both of
reassured myself. I cut the sandwich in four and made
their cheeks and winced once more at the instability of my
sure to cut the crust off, “God forbid I don’t cut the crust
legs. “Have a great day,” I exclaimed in my tight toothy
off,” I muttered under my breath. I could hear the sink wa-
grin as I nudged them through the door. I gave one final
ter running upstairs, a sign that the children were finally
wave goodbye before I darted, and I mean darted, to the
awake. “30 min!” I called. I neatly placed the sandwiches
car. Keeping my head down low, so I wouldn’t have to
in brown lunch bags and threw in an apple and a tiny bag
make small talk with the fellow moms. I exhaled relief as
of baked lays. Lunches, check.
I made it into the car and started the engine. The drive to
My children came running down the stairs, nearly
Willow Creek high school was only ten minutes away from
trampling one another which made me wince for a mo-
the elementary school which was the main reason I took a
ment. “Good morning”, I smiled. My jaw hurt at the sides
from trying to smile so hard. Stunned by the act of forcing
something so natural. I felt the worry lines written into
and hurried into the building. My office felt unordinarily
my forehead with permanent ink. Another thought that
unpleasing that day and the calendar filled with assign-
made me wince. “Let’s get in the car,” I said half-heartedly.
ments and due dates on the wall made my stomach quea-
I watched them climb into the back of my silver
sy. I grabbed my planner and walked towards my class-
minivan, their bodies almost too tiny to pull themselves
room. I shuffled through the crowd of students, avoiding
up. Amanda strapped herself into the carseat and helped
bumping into any of them.
Conner do the same. I waited patiently in the driver’s seat,
looking at them in the mirror.
of my late students. Harsh, I know, but this is really the
I parked my car in the same spot I did everyday
9:29, in one minute I’d be closing the door to any
I could count every freckle on both of their fac-
last place I’d like to be, and if I can make it in time sure-
es. I could tell you all about Amanda’s favorite songs on
ly they can too. Other teachers would tell me to soften
the radio, and how it was always her turn to pick the ra-
up, I brushed their comments off as quickly as they hit.
dio station. And I could tell you how still Conner sits in a
9:30, the last student came through the door and closed
car, staring out the window at every tree and flower- how
it behind him. Good, I thought. “Good morning everyone,
he smiles when he sees people walking their dogs on the
please get out your journals for our daily writing prompt.”
sidewalk. He’ll likely make sure to write all about it in his
I never intended on becoming a teacher, let alone an En-
school journal and read it to me when he gets home. I
glish teacher. I pictured my life quite different once upon
don’t mind the way Amanda sings way too loud, her voice
a time. I grabbed a blue dry erase marker and began writ-
plays in my head like a beautiful melody, and I’ll never
ing on the board. August 30 Writing prompt: What was
mind having to watch Conner’s favorite shows on tv with
the most freeing moment of your life thus far? I stumbled
him when he begs me to do so. Their faces looked so alike
upon this question last night after Googling “high school
in the mirror, if not for the height difference, I swear they
writing prompts to make kids really think” Clever, I know.
could pass off for twins. Their hair so milky brown and
eyes as green as the fake grass planted in the lawns of our
of pens clicking and erasers rubbing right through sheets
neighborhood. Their skin always tanned much nicer than
of paper. “Ten minutes,” I reminded, “Then I want to talk
mine, and the summer sun spotlighted all the freckles on
about these as a class.”
their cheeks. Amanda and Conner both showed dimples
when they smiled; something other people would always
never stare at the clock, hoping the less I look, the faster
take notice of and complement. I was very fond of both of
it goes by. It never worked that way. “Okay ready?” Sud-
them, but somehow I had wound up in a life full of min-
denly, twenty blank faces stared at me, I winced. “Would
ivans and soccer practices and wondered how long they
anyone like to share?” The room went quiet and suddenly
would feel so fond of me.
all the faces looking up at me stared at their shoes or their
One by one, the room was filled with the sound
Time went by so slowly in this room, I tried to
phones lying in their laps, as if I couldn’t see. “Michael,
feel forced this time. “That’s a beautiful memory,” Michael
how about you?” He looked up, stunned, scared even. “You
said and the class nodded in agreement.
know Mrs. Jennifer, I don’t think I’ve ever had a moment
where I felt truly free of everything, and so in my journal
What I saw on their faces wasn't the usual boredom or the
I wrote about that and wondered if you would share one
anticipation of getting called on. None of them were fight-
of your moments where you felt free.” I paused a moment
ing to keep their eyes open. They just looked at me with
and watched each student raise their heads, intrigued by
faces that read no other emotion besides understanding.
his response. They were waiting for me to answer. I nev-
“Do you think you’ll ever go back there?” another student
er talked about myself in class. My personal life was just
questioned. Go back? I wondered. I’ve asked myself the
that, it was personal. But then again, I came to this class
same question at least a hundred times. I accepted the fact
every day Monday through Friday and forced these kids
that going back and being hopeful of another phenomena
to write their thoughts in a journal and read them aloud
like the one I encountered would leave me with nothing
to their peers. “Okay,” I started, “You want to know mine?
but disappointment. That place held almost all the magic
I’ll tell you.” I didn’t have to think, really. I knew the an-
in the world, and maybe going would shed some of that
swer to the question the minute I wrote it down on the
away. I jumped at the sound of the bell ringing, it was the
board for them. It was just easier to suppress it then spend
first time I had lost track of time. Within minutes, the
those ten minutes reminiscing. “When I was in college, my
desks were all emptied, but I was still standing in front of
family took me on vacation to New York City,” I began.
the board staring at the written prompt. The comfort I had
“They took me to the greatest city in the whole country. I
felt so dearly was now fleeting and it was time I got back
was overwhelmed in the thrash and pull of strangers that
to my routine.
crowded the sidewalks and street walkways, but I was in
love with every moment of it. We were only in the city for
Very Hungry Caterpillar” and kissed him on the forehead.
one night, that day we rode the double decker bus and saw
His skin as soft as when I first gave birth to him. “I love
everything there was to see. I saw the statue of liberty,
you,” I murmured. I poked my head into Amanda’s room,
which was the grandest sight I had ever laid eyes on. I was
but she was already fast asleep. She looked so fragile and
in complete awe,” I stopped and took a breath.
so serene. “I love you,” I whispered anyway. I went down-
We were in silence for a moment, me and the class.
I read Conner his favorite bedtime story, “The
It felt strangely comforting to share this memo-
stairs and opened up my laptop, I needed to find anoth-
ry with my students, it was a sense of comfort so foreign
er writing prompt for my students tomorrow. I typed in
to me. “That night my mom went to bed early, tired from
“easy writing prompts for high school students”. They did
the long day and my dad went to the hotel bar. Quietly, I
well today, I thought, I’ll pick something simple. I couldn’t
snuck out of the room to the lobby and scampered past
stop thinking about my trip to New York. It had been play-
the bar into the streets of the city. There I was, in Times
ing in my head as vividly as a movie ever since I got home.
Square, another nameless face in the colossal crowd of
Before I realized it, I started typing something else into
people. I looked around at the massive screens surround-
the search bar. I began comparing prices for plane tickets
ing the whole square and saw the strangest pictures being
to New York. I just wanted to see if it could even be an op-
flashed. A stranger tapped me on the shoulder and handed
tion for me. It was.
me a pair of 3D glasses. Suddenly, I could see all kinds of
crazy images and shapes being projected on the screens.
New York for the following summer. I still feared the place
I remember how bright and illuminating the colors were.
I treasured so dearly wouldn’t be as enchanted as the time
I looked around at all the people watching what I was, in
I was once there, and so I booked two more flights to New
amazement. And in that moment, I thought about how no
York so I could bring my magic with me.
By the end of the night, I had booked a flight to
one in the world knew I was here in this exact spot except me. I felt like I could have done anything I wanted to. I felt as free as leaves drifting in the crisp autumn wind. It’s a moment I’ll always remember.” I smiled, and it didn’t
Now and Then your face turning from mine after I speak the tang of lime and garlic infusing avocado’s soft green flesh my father’s hands holding a chickadee my mother’s voice the smoke from her cigarette drifting in from a different room the land that holds their ashes growing thick with multiflora rose
garden gate trap door barn door ruined stone portal
I silvery now, solid done with pouring molten from the furnace there are many kinds of strength incandescent, iron flows, then cools tempered into beam or blade how words can become scalpels whether the intent to wound or heal
after Jane Hirshfield
some have hinges some do not one, stone rimmed, frames the sea winterâ€™s gate opens to dry cornstalks October wind rattles chain-link April dandelions sprout through frost heaves I have accompanied dear ones to the gate between worlds witnessed the soulâ€™s departure our souls too hold portals are doorways deep in the body a cell wall bursts mitosis starts deep in space one star flares, collapses births a worm-hole a symphony of swallowed light numinous, the infinite
after Coal, by Audre Lorde
some truths incinerate the spirit how the crack of lightning singes air splits pine, thunder merely an afterthought there are truths that steal the breath like a belly flop off a high dive lungs squeezed flat struggle to take in air again some truths elude the brain cluster like roaches behind baseboard others erupt in a blinding flash imprint on the retina like those vaporized bodies at Hiroshima images that canâ€™t be unseen some truths stick in my throat connection becomes a casualty of truth melts like iron in a blast furnace I am silvery tempered by the telling incised incinerated strong as steel
perhaps this perpetual opening and closing is the pulse the under-song of all
The Woman and the Wolf Michelle Reyes
I remember when the shadows grew like wolves. Mama used to weep for hours, and the loneliness was too hard to bear. I came home from school one day. My bag was packed. "Thing are going to be different from now," she said, "You'll see. Seremos felices." Then she leaned over the sink to make her lips red. She smiled to herself in the mirror and then at me, but I didn't feel like smiling. The journey was cold, like wriggling through a shard of glass. I shivered by the open window because mama never turned the heat on even when the wind would howl around the car. He stood by the front door of our new home – his lair, with teeth barred and edges sharp. I didn't want to be here. I just wanted to go home. "Feliz Cumpleanos!" my new papa said. Was I turning seven? Or was I eight? The memory is as short as the party. He pulled out a basket with presents still wrapped in plastic from the store: a red princess bed set complete with a huggable doll and silk pajamas. We ate some stale cake and some grape juice, and then I went to bed. Mama was a nurse. She worked the night shift. The starvation of life had made her relentlessly attached to her work. It’s not her fault. But she should have known how the wolves creep in the dark. It was only when she left that he came. I clenched my eyes shut and tried to pretend it didn't hurt. I held my doll and imagined she lived in a cottage in the woods. But the pain only got worse and my doll just stayed silent. Mama had to work again the next night. I cried. "Please don't leave, mama." She smiled at me and stroked my hair. "No te preocupes, my love. Tu papa is here. Just let him know if you need anything." One kiss. Then she was gone. This time I could feel his hot breath and I screamed and shouted. But there was no one to help. I shoved and hit and punched. It was no use. Years passed. The wolf hid in the shadows. He came and went as he pleased. He had ripped my throat out long ago. No one heard my silent pleas for help. That was long ago. But things are not as they used to be. Once there was an old woman who knew how to hunt. She lived next door and took me in. I used to go straight to her house from the school bus and then I began to stay the night. My mama never knew. The huntress made fresh Aguas Frescas everyday. My favorite was piña. We would sit at her table, drinking, and she told me wonderful tales of another type of drink that would always satisfy. Over time, my throat healed. In the huntress' home, I found I could speak again. The woman heard my voice. That night, I took a bath and got ready for bed. I pulled off the red princess bed sheets and burned them. Then I called the police. The wolf never came back after that.
J. Ray Paradiso Photography
Jim Williams Photography
Summer Baby Your little fingers curled like fiddlehead ferns. Impossibly tender. Perfect fractal; fueled by yearning Unfurling towards the light. My little oleander, with your petal pink skin. The sweet, summer sweat of you--Wild as grass. Warm as morning.
~ Brandi Parrish
Everything Tastes Better We walk over to the Dominican restaurant next door, the one with the sweet mufongo and Jay walks over just like every time and asks us how we’re doing and if everything is good, which of course it is. He pats me on the back and we eat our maduros and I drink my IPA, you say that I don’t even like IPA’s and you are right, but it was the last thing I heard the waiter say and I got tired of asking him to repeat himself so we walk back to our apartment in a wind that is colder than it’s been in weeks and jump into your car faded and white to see that new movie I’ve been dying to see I’m always the one dying to see, and you’re just happy to come along but when we get to the theater, we forget five dollar movies are so popular in a college town, and the line is too long for me not to miss the previews (which I simply cannot do) we head out of the theater and decide that we’ll get ice cream and wait for the next showing over at the Grande, which is ten bucks, but the previews, and the girl who makes our ice cream looks just like Alanna (of course it can’t be) which beckons memories of her wedding, you a bridesmaid, and we get the cake batter ice cream, certainly a product of subconscious yearning for wedding cake, something you are much more familiar with than I am we eat our ice cream and go see the movie before heading back to our apartment for wine and cold medicine and on the way, we see the large Pepsi billboard, not uncommon in the Carolinas, that reads “Everything Tastes Better” here, in this town, where we sleep and eat plantains and drink red wine and cough syrup, but not too much of either.
Of Space and Snow Scientists predict that there are over two-hundred billion stars sprinkled across the galaxy. You tell me this, and all I can say is â€œholy fucking shit.â€? I thought there was no way I could feel any more alone than I do now. But in that instant, I was reminded of true enormity. Despite deep and incredible fears about black holes and celestial presence, you give me even more to fear (losing). Gravity is a habit. It does not stop when I am not thinking about it. Nonetheless, I will not try because space is so very, very big. Unlike the cosmos, (chaotic, flawless) I am full of imperfections. (The way I type, how I hold my fork; Tactless attempts at expression) I cannot do tricks with my tongue or raise my eyebrows, as you never forget to remind me. We walked through snow, so still, a glistening of frozen flakes and concrete, and I thought there was no way I could feel any more alone than I do now. But in that instant, I was reminded of us, here on Earth, rested firmly atop dirt, flailing at one thousand and thirty-seven miles per hour, and I was able to find something I could never have found in place. Endlessly, my legs and hands shake, muscles not used to moving so freely. Remind me.
A Moon-faced Clock Time is a moon-faced clock on the landing of a great house, where people go up and down the stairs with their hair and make-up that covers time. The clock whispers behind their backs. It’s got two moons, just in case. The people don’t notice the low thunder the hours striking or the moons sheltering in place.
Two-Hundred Year-Old Violin My father waded through the flowered yard of his violin teacher in third grade, too old to be a genius prodigy. Clover grew at random. Mr. Rossi’s hair looked like Einstein’s. My dad had a kid’s violin for the early grades. A big violin came next, a real antique. The sheet music grew harder. Practice doesn’t get easier but you do get better. The violin went all over town, to rehearsals and recitals. It traveled widely at Christmas. I used to have a ceramic mug from a tourist trap. It fell off a desk and a table and the top of a bookcase. I kept fixing it with Elmer’s glue, prolonging the struggle for existence. My dad’s violin survives two hundred years. The sharp edges have worn rounder. A luthier has fitted a new bridge. The tone keeps getting better in this marriage of maple and spruce. My nephew belongs to an orchestra. He plays the old violin. His fingers ride the bow lightly. The boy has a promising future. I hear it in his phrasing.
Man Imagines Richard Vyse Illustration
Light Up the Power Plant! On 8 September 2017, the Embrey/Virginia Electric Power Company Plant in Fredericksburg VA came alive for the first time in over half a century in an awe-inspiring light and sound show. This Mill District live art event was witnessed by hundreds of Fredericksburg area residents and visitors, both ashore and afloat, who enjoyed a majestic palette of colors and textures accompanied by theme music designed and orchestrated by local DJ Bill Carroll. Numerous local photographers and videographers captured the historic event in a series of brilliant images. A few eye-catching photos by Daniel Poznanski (Static Discharge Photography) are shown here.
Embrey / Virginia Electric Power Company Plant Daniel Poznanski / Static Discharge Photography
Index of Artists Norma Alonzo (Pages 223, 240) has always taken her painting life seriously, albeit privately. An extraordinarily accomplished artist, she has been painting for over 25 years. Beginning as a landscape painter, she quickly transitioned to an immersion in all genres to experiment and learn. Initially, Alonzo was torn between professions - the arts or a career in architecture. She chose the arts, graduating from San Jose State University in San Jose, California with a degree in Interior Design. normaalonzo.com Don Anawalt (Page 176) has had an unusually varied career. It began in 1955 when he studied art and architecture at the University of Oregon, receiving his BS degree. He received his MFA degree from the Washington State University in 1967, where he taught ceramics and architecture until 1973. He moved to Sacramento in 1973 and established his own business, Anawalt Architectural Ceramics Inc. After selling the business in 2002, he fluctuated between several areas of interest: architecture, music, painting, ceramics and writing. It was during this time he began writing more seriously. He learned early that humor would often bring people into the poem, or story, so he could get his message across with more ease. He does, however, venture into the darker side of life in some of his short stories. email@example.com OR www. ee-house.com Van Anderson (Page 245) I have been doing art since the early 70’s I love bringing color into the world. I am a artist at darbytown art studio 241 E Charles st Fredericksburg, VA. Katherine Arens (Page 75) Katherine Arens has a BLS in Studio Art from UMW and a Masters in Arts Management from GMU. She finds joy in the local, the ordinary, and the eccentric. She enjoys the challenge of capturing the likenesses of the people and places she loves with oil paints. She is also interested in combining her interest in oil painting with her love of hand built ceramics. katherinesart.com Deidre Argyle (Pages 254 - 257) is a sculptor/ interdisciplinary artist from Springfield, MO. Her work brings forward our relationship to the process of transformation and explores how we can increase our connection to inherent cycles of our lives, in order to promote stronger relationships and understanding for one another. She earned her BFA in Sculpture from San Jose State University in 1999, and her MFA in Sculpture from The University of Arizona in 2002. She is currently Assistant Professor of Sculpture at Missouri State University. She has exhibited her work internationally in galleries and museums in Los Angeles, Tucson, Canada, New York, and Santa Clara amongst others. She recently completed a major thousand square foot immersive installation titled “It Is What It Was” at the Idea-X-Factory in Springfield, MO. Examples of her work are available at socksstudio.com Summers Bohenstiel (Pages 34, 251) is a musician and writer living in the heart of North Carolina. His musical work can be heard on Amazon, “BOHENSTIEL”, including all original songs and musical compositions. His art cards are available on www.noeldesigninterp.com. Harsimran Brar (Pages 54 - 56) is a student at the University of Arizona who is studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I became interested in photography as a means to photo document various insects and plants that I came across during my applied field courses. Photography allowed me to share overlooked elements of the natural world with my peers. Recently my interests in photography have begun to boarded. I currently am experimenting with landscape, portrait, street, and abstract photography in order to find my artistic niche, and improve my skills as a photographer. www.bleedingpixel.com Cheryl Clayton (Page 64) paints mostly about the African-American experience. She works with acrylic, mixed medium, watercolor and charcoal in her work. She enjoys painting through my imagination and observation. Claytonn says the movement of the human being in a painting shows dominant presence when a painting is completed. She has exhibited work in Richmond,Virginia in art galleries such as ArtWorks, Inc. and festivals like Showcase Noir in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania through the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Clayton’s background is in fashion illustration from Virginia Commonwealth University where studying the human figure became prominent in the development of her work. CatBoneFace (Pages 111, 117) For artist CatBoneFace (www.catboneface.com), there is no subject that is beyond his extraordinary capabilities. He is equally proficient in creating portraits and abstracts. The international full-time artist has attracted attention from North America, Europe, and Asia. He demonstrates artistic prowess beyond his years and recently donated an oil abstract for a children’s charity in Los Angeles. He attended Santa Monica College and finished a hyper realistic portrait with honors and self-taught himself during the rest of his accomplished career. He has artwork that now hangs in Pacific Palisades, California, England, and Czech Republic. As a self-proclaimed “seeker of truth and of our place in this creation” CatBoneFace, unveils a profound reality that surpasses the physical properties of his canvas and materials. He explores the depths of the human soul and tries to capture the pathos and elation of humanity. The artist delves into the realms of paradiso and inferno with oil, charcoal, acrylic, and graphite and his technique conveys a sense of awareness that can be felt on our earthly plane. He applies the strengths of his medium to hopefully stir the deep virtues of the inner being through color, surface texture, and movement. His application is confident and full of bravado.
Kaelin Ian Cooper (Ian Alastair Cooper) (Page 88, 134) is a student attending Middle Tennessee State University, in the process of receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Printmaking with a minor in painting. Ian, originally from east Tennessee, moved to Murfreesboro in 2014 to enrich his love and talent for art in a professional setting. Since moving to Murfreesboro, Ian has had his artwork be featured on local bands albums, worked with the LGBT Club Scene in Nashville, and has displayed artwork in numerous venues. Ian’s work is already well known with the LGBT youth club and art scene in America through social media and different magazines that have decided to showcase his work. kaeliniancooper.weebly.com Joaquin Croxatto (Pages 164 - 165) My paintings consist of sophisticated color relations set in a strict geometric grid, condensing forms and figures into unexpected visual directions. Using vibrant colors, traditional techniques and powerful designs I transform known and familiar subjects under an intricate mechanical patterns into a subtle visual poetry of symbolic elements. I search for an aesthetic crush, to compose a cathartic epic, or in any case, to jump-start a dialogue between image, object and the booming super-digital culture. www.joaquincroxatto.com Jameson Currier (Page 258) is a self-taught artist, illustrator, and graphic designer who has relied on online tutorials and an occasional real-time workshop to guide his artistic experimentation. He is the author of seven novels, four collections of short stories, and a memoir, and is the founder and publisher of Chelsea Station Editions, an independent press, and Chelsea Station magazine, where much of his design and art work can be found tagged as “Peachboy.” Cheryl Eggleston (Page 191) My formal education is in Graphic Design/Visual Communications. I am basically self-taught in painting with alkyd, as it was only briefly introduced in art school. After a short time in advertising, I realized I wanted to be free to do something different with my creative desire. I find my design skills valuable as a jumping off point in the composition of my works. Imagination and color composition round out the effort. www.paintpotstudio.com Joanne Emery (Pages 71, 73, 85) has worked in education for more than three decades as a classroom teacher, learning specialist, and curriculum coordinator. She has a B.A. in English from Douglass College, a Master’s degree in Creative Arts Education from Rutgers University, and has done extensive doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania in Reading, Writing, and Literacy. She serves as a member of the Advisory Board at Rutgers University Center for Literacy. Joanne has given numerous workshops, the most recent at the National Coalition of Girl Schools, the New Jersey Council on Social Studies, and the Association of Constructivist Teaching at Kean University. She is a published poet and writer, as well as an accomplished artist. Joanne was an original member of Judy Chicago’s Birth Project, and her quilt is on permanent exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. She has exhibited her award-winning photography throughout the United States including the Salmagundi Gallery in New York City and the San Diego Art Institute. Joanne enjoys ice-skating, martial arts, hiking, and traveling extensively throughout the United States and Canada. Paula Rea Gibson (Page 169) Born in London, Paula Rae Gibson took up photography in her early 20's.She is self taught, leaning mainly on analogue and darkroom work. www.paularaegibson.com Donna Hopkins (Pages 182 - 185) Southern photographer, Donna Hopkins, believes that to make meaningful pictures is to fall in love with her subjects. She finds beauty in the subtlety of life just as much as it can be found in its supreme extravagance. She relishes the simple pleasures of slow living, shared meals, and small travels; these values are at the heart of her work. She makes slow exposures that reveal her insecurities, her wonder, her beauty, and her hurt. Michael Hower (Pages 166, 173) is a photographer from Central Pennsylvania where he resides with his wife and two boys. His experience with digital photography began five years ago. Over that time, he has amassed a resume of nearly a hundred exhibitions and publications. His work has been featured in shows at the Biggs Museum of Art, DE; Masur Museum of Art, LA; and the Fitton Center for Creative Arts, OH. He has a solo show this fall at the Rehoboth Art League entitled “Abandoned Places.” James Hubbard (Page 156) is a printmaker living in Indianapolis and practicing at Thorntown Press Creative Exchange (Thorntown, IN). James focuses on limited edition relief block and intaglio prints with collage embellishments of landscape and nature subjects. The artist has won many state and national awards including the Jurors Choice at the Artlink Contemporary Gallery’s “2017 National Print Exhibition” (Ft. Wayne), Fain Best of Printmaking Award at the Providence (RI) Art Club’s “COLOR” 2016 exhibition, second place at the “2015 Indiana Artists Members Exhibition”, purchase prize winner at the Anderson Museum of Art’s “Open Space: Art About the Land” 2014 exhibition and purchase prize winner at the “2013 Delta National Small Print Exhibition” at Arkansas State University. James Hubbard is the 2017-2019 President of Indiana Artists organization and a member of 67th Street Printmakers (Indianapolis), American Color Print Society (Philadelphia) and the Society of American Graphic Artists (NYC). www.jhubbardprints.net
Index of Artists William Huberdeau's (Page 214) writing appears in Look-Look Magazine, Faultline Journal of the Arts and Literature, The Santa Clara Review, The Bicycle Review, Forge Journal, and the Avatar Review. He was a top ten finalist for the 2009 Wordstock competition. He’s a high school English teacher and has enjoyed summers at writers residencies in Lisbon, Iceland, Quebec, Turkey, Costa Rica, and recently Morocco. Invented the selfie-poem. Having his hand at photography, now. Suzun Hughes (Page 42 -43) is a Philadelphia-born, long time San Franciscan and current Virginia resident. She studied painting and printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute after graduating from San Francisco State University’s Multimedia Studies Program and Villanova University. Hughes has attended four artists residencies at Cite’ Internationale des Art, in Paris France between 2011 and 2016. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is held in private collections in the United States, and Europe. firstname.lastname@example.org Patrick McFarlin (Pages 76, 124, 201) was born in Arkansas and studied at Memphis College of Art, and the California College of Arts and Crafts. He began exhibiting in San Francisco (1968). In 1990, relocated to Santa Fe, and began open-studio sessions known as “Pat’s Downtown Club” and continued as exhibitions at SITE Santa Fe (1996), Napa Valley and the Birmingham Museum of Art (2001). In 2005, McFarlin spent seven weeks in County Mayo, Ireland creating From Downpatrick to Blacksod on a fellowship from The Ballinglen Arts Foundation.In the last decade he has developed other series such as Scratch on the Wall, Great Books Foundation and Flatlands. Primarily a painter, he insists that he be known as a sculptor as well. Pete Morelewicz / Printjazz (Page 174, 175) is a Fredericksburg-based artist and graphic designer. He works with a wide range of technologies, from 15th century letterpress to 21st century media. (He himself dates to the 20th century.) PBS painter Bob Ross tops his list of artist heroes. Pete’s work can be seen on his mother’s refrigerator and on www.printjazz.com. J. Ray Paradiso (Page 271) is a recovering academic in the process of refreshing himself as an experimental writer and a street photographer. Colleen Pendry (Page 154) Originally from Washington D.C. Colleen now resides in Lexington, VA. She received a BA in painting from Mary Baldwin College and an MFA in painting from James Madison University. Her work has been shown in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and throughout Virginia. Colleen’s work has also been published in Studio Visit Magazine and ArtVoices. She is an adjunct professor at Mary Baldwin University and Blue Ridge Community College. www.colleenpendry.com Michael Peterson (Page 126) I live in the little town of Nephi, UT. I work as a hospital physician in a larger city one week then help on our family’s cattle ranch near our town the next. I love art – especially printmaking and photography with the Holga camera. I also enjoy writing and reviewing for medical and scientific journals as well as other writing pursuits. Britnae Purdy (Pages 20 3 - 204) is a 2009 graduate of the University of Mary Washington, I recently returned to Fredericksburg to work at my alma mater. My writing has been published by Huffington Post, Transitions Abroad, Passion Passport, and The Mighty, and my photography has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler and Durham Magazine. You can find more of my photography and travel writing at www.nerdingabroad.com. Bette Ridgeway (Page 105) Over four decades Bette Ridgeway has exhibited globally with 80+ prestigious venues, including: Palais Royale, Paris and Embassy of Madagascar. Awards include Top 60 Contemporary Masters and Leonardo DaVinci Prize. Mayo Clinic and Federal Reserve Bank top Ridgeway’s permanent collections. Books include: International Contemporary Masters and 100 Famous Contemporary Artists. Crystal Rodrique (Pages 1, 86) I have a Regents Bachelor of Arts from West Virginia University. I moved to Virginia in 1999 with my husband. A few years later I studied at Mary Washington College and received a Fine Arts education while working at my families company, Virginia Architectural Metals. It was my time at Mary Washington College that really fueled my interest in photography and I worked exclusively in traditional film and alternative process photography while honing my skills in metal finishes and VAM. In the last 5 years my interests and experiences together have influenced the images I make today. www.rodriguestudios.com Dillon Samuelson (Page 171) is a painter and illustrator from York, Pennsylvania. His work has been exhibited across the US and his award-winning illustrations have appeared in books and comics. You can find more at dillonsamuelson.com .
Judith Skillman (Page 180) strives to capture vignettes of the natural world. Her paintings range from representational to abstract. Currently she studies at the Seattle Artist’s League, under the mentorship of Ruthie V. Shows include the Pratt Fine Art Center and Seattle Artist's League. Rosary Solimanto (Pages 112 - 113) The interdisciplinary activist artist Rosary Solimanto explores oppression and societal stigmas living with multiple sclerosis. She encourages political and social discourse on disABILITY identity to unfold to empower the disABLEd. She approaches biology, healthcare and medicine from a humanitarian perspective. Solimanto is an emerging artist who has exhibited and or performed across the United States, Toronto, London, China and Spain. She has performed for O + Festivals, The International Human Rights Art Festival, Itinerant Festivals, Nuit Blanche, Inverse Performance Festival and exhibited and or performed at eleven international museums. George L Stein (Pages 91, 210) is a writer and photographer living in Northwest Indiana. George works in both film and digital formats in the urban decay, architecture, fetish, and street photography genres. His emphasis is on composition. George has been published in Midwestern Gothic, After Hours, and Darkside Magazine. Brienna Thompson (Page 39) Brie is a self-taught photographer impassioned by the peculiar. Her work explores the connection between Jungian archetypes and our deepest selves. Currently, located in Fredericksburg, VA, she gravitates toward abandoned places, landscapes, and compelling perspectives. Brie has learned to recognize the value of shooting black & white, in addition to intensely colorful photography. Drawing from the brilliance of Ansel Adams, Frans Lanting and Jay Maisel, Brie shoots with one lens in natural light to focus on the intricacies before her. She captures the unusual in a way that fascinates, recognizing that even the smallest detail can have an unrelenting divergence of meaning.Brie’s work is exhibited nationwide and throughout Fredericksburg. She is currently working on her next solo show that will open in January at Kybecca, followed by a duo show at Fredericksburg Center for Creative Arts in July. Richard Vyse (Pages 102, 237, 277) Internationally collected artist Richard Vyse has shown at galleries in Manhattan and Honolulu. He has studiedA1 at the School of Visual Arts n Manhattan and taught at Pratt Institute at Brooklyn. His art had been featured in many international art magazines. Dawn Whitmore (Page 260) is a VA-based landscape and nature photographer. She specializes in barnscapes and is known locally as the “OLD BARN” lady. She is currently working on a book about Century Farm properties. You can learn more about Dawn and her photography by visiting her on Facebook @dewphotographypage OR www.dewphotographyva.com Jim Williams (Pages 36, 106 - 107, 272) I spend part of my spare time photographing live music in the Fredericksburg area. I've also written songs and tried my hand at local open mics.
Index of Writers Ellen Alden (Page 132) is a writer who writes only for self therapy She is a teacher, nature lover, and fun lover. Jeffrey Alfier (Page 190) Jeffrey Alfier’s most recent books of poems are Fugue for a Desert Mountain, Anthem for Pacific Avenue and The Red Stag at Carrbridge: Scotland Poems. Publication credits include Copper Nickel, Midwest Quarterly, Poetry Ireland Review and The McNeese Review. Alfier is founder and co-editor of Blue Horse Press and San Pedro River Review. Tobi Alfier (Cogswell) (Page 186) is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Her current chapbooks include “Down Anstruther Way” (Scotland poems) from FutureCycle Press, and her full-length collection “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where” is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com). Ruth Ann Allaire (Page 84), an 84-year-old retired college biology professor, has been writing poetry most of her adult life. She is a healing cheraga in the Sufi Order International. She is a Reiki Master and an avid genealogist. Her work has been published in finishing Line Presss, Prairie Poet, Northern Virginia Review, and the Fredericksburg Literary And Arts Review among others. Ruth Ann is married to an Egyptian. Together they explore the differences in cultures and appreciate those things which are the same for all. www.aginggracefullyandgratefully.com Don Anawalt (Page 177 - 178) has had an unusually varied career. It began in 1955 when he studied art and architecture at the University of Oregon, receiving his BS degree. He received his MFA degree from the Washington State University in 1967, where he taught ceramics and architecture until 1973. He moved to Sacramento in 1973 and established his own business, Anawalt Architectural Ceramics Inc. After selling the business in 2002, he fluctuated between several areas of interest: architecture, music, painting, ceramics and writing. It was during this time he began writing more seriously. He learned early that humor would often bring people into the poem, or story, so he could get his message across with more ease. He does, however, venture into the darker side of life in some of his short stories. email@example.com OR www. ee-house.com Gregory Ashe (Page 32) is a father of three, husband to one, government consumer protection lawyer (and proud of it), and observer of life. As a lawyer he writes for a living (mostly legal briefs and memoranda) and has published several articles in legal and scientific journals. When not protecting consumers, Greg enjoys camping, reading, listening to music, and competing in marathons, ultramarathons, and triathlons. He lives with his family in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Patsy Asuncion (Pages 70, 72) Patsy Asuncion’s collection, Cut on the Bias, depicts the bi-racial world slant of a second-generation immigrant. Publications include: online – The New York Times, vox poetica, The New Verse News; print - IUN’s Spirits Literary Magazine, Prevention Magazine, Cutthroat Journal, Snapdragon, The Truth About the Fact, Reckless Writing. Patsy promotes diversity via her open mic, community initiatives and two arts board memberships. patasuncion.wixsite.com/patsy-asuncion Kim Baer (Page 35) lives in Fredericksburg with her two children. Danny P. Barbare (Page 172) has most recently appeared in Birmingham Arts Journal, The Crucible, Willard & Maple, and Fredericksburg Literary & Art Review. His poetry has won The Jim Gitting's Award and has been nominated for Best of Net by Assisi Online Journal. He resides with his family in Greenville, SC. Jude Brewer (Page 230 - 233) writing has appeared in The Clackamas Literary Review, Scintilla, and Cultured Vultures. His nonfiction short, 2012, 2016, 2017 was a finalist in the 2017 Montana Book Festival. Jude also hosts a literary "radio theatre" podcast, Storytellers Telling Stories. Erika Castillo (Page 40) A Texas girl with a love of history, Erika Castillo grew up listening to family stories along with cultural tales of migration, ghosts, and landscapes in Northern Virginia. Working both in fiction and poetry, history and her own story color her words. Her poem "Make Me a Map" was honored by the 2016 Poetry Society of Virginia contest as the third prize poem in the "New Voices" category. Just be warned, if you ask her about a favorite history figure, the answer changes every day. Todd Connelley (Page 242 - 243) Growing up in Texas I heard stories about the Comanches. They scared the shit out of me, especially when I came to realize that most of the stories were mostly true. To venture into their territory took equal parts bravery and stupidity, especially for a woman of that era. My fiction has appeared in Other Voices (RIP) and American Literary Review. Also I have two novels in a drawer (shocking, I know). ToddConnelley@gmail.com or @tconn
Tom Conway (Page 66) is a 7th grade English teacher at Thornburg Middle School and an unrealized literary talent currently dabbling in poetry and journaling extensively while contemplating the possibility of writing several novels that will make him a household name. He has had several poems and a short story published in FLAR, and has written sporadically for other publications when the mood strikes. If you are a fan of his work, it is important for you to know that he will do anything for money, since teaching doesn’t pay that well. www.electronicshakespearedreams.blogspot.com Dan Corfield (Page 121) teaches writing at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California. His fiction appears in over a dozen literary journals including Word Riot and Carve Magazine. His poetry can be found in Beside the City of Angels: An Anthology of Long Beach Poetry. He enjoys surfing and playing beach volleyball in his spare time. Michael Costa (Page 125) has been a downtown Fredericksburg resident since 1995. He is a part-time physician, full- time dabbler who wrote a column for the first few years of Front Porch Fredericksburg. More recently, Costa has been focusing on short fiction and is a periodic contributor to the slush piles of several prestigious literary journals. Ray Crafton (Page 205) lives in Spotsylvania County and is the author of Origins and Lives, a two-volume history of the Crafton family (www.craftonbooks.com.) He also blogs on theology and the New Testament at raycrafton.com. John Cullen (Page 179) John Cullen’s chapbook “Town Crazy” focused on the lives of small towns and their inhabitants. His recent work has appeared in journals like The Milo Review, Grist and Red Savina. After years of working as an asphalt layer and talent agent, he currently teaches in Michigan. For several years he kept bees, but one day they all got up and left. No one knows where they went. Danielle Dayney (Page 244) is sometimes a blogger, usually a writer, and always a mom. Recently, her creative nonfiction essays have been published on BLUNTmoms, Thought Catalog, Sammiches & Psych Meds, BlogHer, The Mighty, and The Huffington Post. Her work has also been published in several anthologies in 2017, including the Virginia Writers centennial anthology, and Nevertheless We Persisted. In 2016 and 2017, she received awards at BlogHer for essays she wrote. You can find her chasing kids and furbabies somewhere in Virginia, or at www.danielledayney.com. Carlos A. DeJuana (Page 127) is a native Texan but has lived in Washington, DC, the past 12 years. His poetry has appeared in West Texas Literary Review, Live Nude Poems, Synethesia, and riverSedge. A former journalist, he currently works for the federal government. When he is not taking care of his two daughters, he greatly enjoys naps. Joanne Emery (Page 202) has worked in education for more than three decades as a classroom teacher, learning specialist, and curriculum coordinator. She has a B.A. in English from Douglass College, a Master’s degree in Creative Arts Education from Rutgers University, and has done extensive doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania in Reading, Writing, and Literacy. She serves as a member of the Advisory Board at Rutgers University Center for Literacy. Joanne has given numerous workshops, the most recent at the National Coalition of Girl Schools, the New Jersey Council on Social Studies, and the Association of Constructivist Teaching at Kean University. She is a published poet and writer, as well as an accomplished artist. Joanne was an original member of Judy Chicago’s Birth Project, and her quilt is on permanent exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History. She has exhibited her award-winning photography throughout the United States including the Salmagundi Gallery in New York City and the San Diego Art Institute. Joanne enjoys ice-skating, martial arts, hiking, and traveling extensively throughout the United States and Canada. Dr. Craig Etchison (Pages 248 - 250) is a retired professor of English, writer, painter, gardner, and advocate for social and environmental justice, about which he has written extensively. His revised collection of short stories, Vietnam Snapshots, based on his experiences during the Vietnam War, was recently released. He also recently released a novel, Twisted Ivy, loosely based on his teaching experiences. E.M. Evans (Page 220 - 222) is a recovering academic working at a labor union where she is reconnecting with her activist roots. Her work in political sociology can be found in Social Movement Studies, Sociological Perspectives, Society & Animals, and other outlets that are, functionally, effective sedatives for most. For more visit: www.emevans.org Frank Fratoe (Page 74) is a poet and friend to the arts in Fredericksburg, Virginia. A writer of research for most of his career, Fratoe began writing poetry to honor special occasions in his marriage. Today, he finds inspiration for his poems in the people and places around Fredericksburg. His poetry is featured in Front Porch Magazine each month. Charles Gallagher (Page 259) is a retired journalist who has written several short plays and the books for two musicals. He dabbles in poetry and has acted and directed in more than 30 productions with local theater companies. His son, who was the catalyst for these submissions, resides in Virginia with his family.
Index of Writers Bill Garten (Page 37) has published poetry in Rattle, Interim, Asheville Poetry Review, California State Poetry Quarterly, Portland Review, Wisconsin Review, Antietam Review, The Comstock Review, The Chaffey Review, Hawaii Review, Portland Review, Poet Lore and others. He is a graduate student in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Ashland University. He also has been anthologized in Wild Sweet Notes, And Now The Magpie and What The Mountains Yield. Cameron Green (Page 158, 274 - 275) has had worked published in WILDNESS Journal, The B’K Magazine, Badlands Literary Journal, Drunk Monkeys Literary Magazine, and The Write Launch. In 2016, he received the Bill Hallberg Award for Creative Writing. Helen Grochmal (Page 108) started writing fiction in her 60s after moving to a senior community. Starting with novels, she then experimented with writing short stories in different genres. To her surprise, eight stories were accepted at once, and she even participated in a group mystery and a podcast. Sue Henderson (Page 206 - 209) has a passion for travel. She is a photographer and travel writer with a focus on national (US) and international travel for boomers. She has traveled to six continents with a total of over 140 countries visited and has extensive cruise experience. Sue has most recently completed assignment travel to Nepal, New Zealand, Fiji, British Columbia, Yukon Territory and Alaska. She is a regular contributor both as a photographer and journalist with The Front Porch Fredericksburg Magazine (VA). She is a registered photographer and writer with the International Travel Writer's alliance. She has a fondness for street photography and capturing the essence of a location both visually and in writing. She blogs of her travels and commercial photography at www.focusbyhenderson.com/ Sarah Henry (Page 276) studied with two U.S. poet laureates at the University of Virginia. Today she lives near Pittsburgh, where her poetry has appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Poetry Review. Sarah’s work was also included in Soundings East, The Hollins Critic, six anthologies and previous issues of FLAR. She is retired from a newspaper. Nicole Holtzman (Page 241) a graduate of Knox College. She works as a librarian and she is involved with an after school program for at risk youth. Her work has been published in The New Engagement, Catch Magazine, Quiver, and Cellar Door. Nicole was a finalist in Third Coast magazine's 2017 fiction contest. Donna Hopkins (Pages 182 - 185) Southern photographer, Donna Hopkins, believes that to make meaningful pictures is to fall in love with her subjects. She finds beauty in the subtlety of life just as much as it can be found in the supreme extravagance. She relishes the simple pleasures of slow living, shared meals, and small travels; these values are at the heart of her work. She makes slow exposures that reveal her insecurities, her wonder, her beauty, and her hurt. Robert D. Kirvel, (Page 114) a Ph.D. in neuropsychology, is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee for fiction. Awards include the Chautauqua 2017 Editor’s Prize, the 2016 Fulton Prize for the Short Story, and a 2015 ArtPrize for creative nonfiction. He has published in the UK, New Zealand, and Germany; in translation and anthologies; and in a score of U.S. literary journals, such as Arts & Letters. A collection of 22 interrelated stories, Predisposed, is slated for publication in London during 2018. Links to most of his literary works can be found on Twitter @Rkirvel. Cainon Leeds (Page 65) is an IT Consultant from Iowa and the author of the 2016 Hackney Literary Award winning poem, Helga, and the 2013 DMACC Literary Award winning poem, "The Beginning…". Dotty LeMieux (Page215 - 217) Dotty lives in Northern California with her husband and two dogs. Her poems have appeared in numerous poetry journals and she has published three chapbooks. Inspired by Lew Welch’s Song of the Turkey Buzzard, she edited the eclectic literary magazine Turkey Buzzard Review in the 1980s. Among her mentors are poets Joanne Kyger, Edith Jenkins and Thomas Centolella. Her style she calls “Left-coast Modernist” for want of anything more precise. Erica Lemley (Page 168) was encouraged to submit a few pieces of her writing by a creative non fiction professor. Until that point she had no idea her writing had a style. She has since been published twice for her works Yahtzee and Formica in the Star 82 Review. She still considers her writing as therapeutic in nature, but is pleased someone other that her labrador retriever enjoys her thoughts. Heather Loudermilk (Page 261) is a poet getting by with a day job. She is a graduate of Hollins University, and recently moved from Bassett, Virginia to Cleveland, Ohio. Her work is forthcoming in Artemis Journal and Burnt Pine Magazine, and has been seen previously in Vanilla Sex Magazine.
Jennifer Lentfer (Page 246 - 247) is a Nebraska farm girl turned international aid worker. She is Director of Communications at Thousand Currents, a California-based grantmaker and the creator of the blog, how-matters.org. A book she co-edited, Smart Risks: How small grants are helping to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, came out this year. It shares stories of people who find, fund, and support visionary grassroots leaders around the world. Jennifer has worked with 300+ grassroots organizations in east and southern Africa and is constantly looking for ways to portray the realities of people’s lives – as well as outsiders’ roles and mistakes – in a “silver bullet solutions” world. With her students at Georgetown in 2014, she published “The Development Element: Guidelines for the future of communicating about the end of global poverty.” She was named one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s “100 women to follow on Twitter” at @intldogooder in 2012. Lentfer has worked with over 300 grassroots organizations in east and southern Africa over the past decade. She has served with Oxfam, Catholic Relief Services, American Red Cross, UNICEF, and Firelight Foundation, where she focused on organizational development and learning. Today she works to place community-driven initiatives and grassroots movements at the forefront of international aid, philanthropy, and social enterprise. It’s no wonder, given that her hometown of Bruning, Nebraska, USA has a population of just 248 people. Shayleene MacReynolds (Page 211 - 213) is a grad student at California State University Northridge, working towards her Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. A Bartender, writer, editor, and Software Developer for a local restaurant, Shayleene is concerned with all things human, both enamored and intrigued by the emotional relationships forged between us. Her writings explore the capacity for connection that we maintain as human beings, and the vast responsibility we owe to one another to connect better, to love better, and to be better. Amanda McLeod (Page 152) is an emerging author and artist honing her craft on the east coast of Australia. Her fiction has appeared in Five2One's The Sideshow, The Scarlet Leaf Review, and elsewhere. When she's not creating literature and art, she can often be found creating delicious treats, and then working them off through long walks with her dog. John M. McNamara (Page 77) John M. McNamara's short fiction has been published in Crosscurrents, Old Hickory Review, the Piedmont Literary Review, the Minotaur, Snapdragon, Four Quarters, FlashFiction, Quick Fiction, Bear River Review, Inside Running, Prairie Light Review, and Hypertext Magazine. His short story, “Testimony,” won first prize in the College of DuPage 2016 Writer’s Read Emerging Voices contest. In the summer of 1999, he was awarded a professional artist residency at the OxBow Summer Arts Program for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Saugatuck, Michigan. Lanny Morgnanesi (Page 55) is a writer and journalist living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He spent time in Asia during the mid-80s and is working on a then-and-now novel about China. Non-fiction commentary, along with a few of his videos, can be found on his blog at NotebookM.com Hilary Moore (Page 46) is a pro bono attorney and mother of three, living in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She was raised in Rockford, Michigan, but transplanted to the south for college. When she is not advising clients, rearing children, or tending bees, she enjoys writing. Though her prior publications have only been related to the legal field, she draws the most personal satisfaction from writing creative non-fiction. Sandra Noel (Page 44) works as a free-lance illustrator, graphic designer and interpretive writer developing award-winning environmental education posters, brochures, exhibits and interpretive signs. She also contributes her artistic design skills as a volunteer for Alliance for Tompotika, a non-profit conservation organization working in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Her poems have appeared in Pontoon, Buddhist Poetry Review, Outside In Literary and Travel Magazine, and other journals, an anthology of poetry with two other poets intitled, 3-Birds Dreaming, designed by Sandra and published though Instant Publisher and 3-Birds Press and three chapbooks intitled, “The Gypsy in my Kitchen,” and “Into the Green,”Finishing Line Press, and “The river,” Kelsay Press. Brandi Parrish (Page 273) is a freelance eyebrow wrangler and an award winning napper. Her favorite role is “wife and mother” with an occasional cameo as an artist and poet. Carlos José Pérez Sámano (Page 262 - 265) is a natural explorer. The way he sees life is complex, yet candid. He goes for the marrow of a situation, perpetually inquisitive about life’s inner or occult nature. His literature is always fresh, while remaining true and profound. And that’s why he’s always able to surprise (himself and his readers!). Through his writing he delves deep into questions of his own identity, examining himself in the light of 'the other', and in nature as well. With five books published in Mexico and worldwide sales, as recipient of the “Best Seller” award of Ad Zurdum Publishing House, Carlos has been building a loyal community that follows him on adventures in living with different tribes in Africa, as he discovers America on a 4-thousand-mile-long road trip, through the kaleidoscopic fiction of his short stories as well as his raw and brutal poetry. He keeps it always new, inventive, authentic. Through his literature, his readers are transported along for the journey, making discoveries entirely of their own along the way. Carlos José Pérez Sámano was born in Mexico City in 1985. He is currently studying MFA in Creative Writing and MA in Publishing. www.perezsamano.com
Index of Writers Judith Prest (Pages 268 - 269) Prest's work has been published in Earths’s Daughters, Mad Poet’s Review, Chronogram and other journals, as well as in seven anthologies. She is a poet, mixed media artist and creativity coach. as well as aalso a retired school social worker and currently work part time leading Recovery Writing and Expressive Arts groups for adults in addiction treatment. She prefers working with folks on the margins, who may not have had previous opportunities to access their own creativity. She has led workshops in prisons, retirement communities, after school programs and retreat centers with people of all ages and backgrounds. Katelyn Provow (Page 266 - 267) The writer's work has always been a way for her to express herself and to cope with challenges she runs into along her journey. Through her writing, she hopes to help others heal and inspire them to pursue their own creativity. Michael Ratcliffe (Page 133) Michael Ratcliffe's poetry has appeared in a variety of print and on-line journals, most recently, Fredericksburg Literary and Arts Review, TEXTure, Fourth & Sycamore, and Baltimore Style. He lives and writes in North Laurel, MD, but occasionally can be found jotting down poems in Coles Point, VA. michaelratcliffespoetry.wordpress.com Dr. Michelle Reyes (270) is a German professor who both lectures and publishes on the subject of folk and fairy tales. She has published feminist revisions of fairy tales with fairytalez.com, and her scholarly work on the Grimm’s tales has been published in various anthologies and journals. Dr. Reyes is passionate about empowering women through fairy tales, and teaches students how to use them as modes of survival, subversion and protest. Meaghan Rhymer (Page 181) Meaghan Rhymer published her first poetry memoir The Ghosts Left Behind, earlier this year. She holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Lindenwood University. She loves taking risks with her work and enjoys collaborating with writers all over the world. She currently resides in New Hampshire with her husband and son. Gerard Sarnat (Page 167) Pushcart-nominated Gerard Sarnat MD’s authored HOMELESS CHRONICLES (2010), Disputes, 17s, Melting The Ice King (2016) and been published in Gargoyle, Lowestoft, Tishman Review, New Verse News, Foliate Oak, etc. “Amber Of Memory” was the single poem chosen for my 50th college reunion Dylan symposium; the Harvard Advocate accepted a second plus Oberlin, Brown, Columbia published concurrent pieces. Mount Analogue selected KADDISH FOR THE COUNTRY for pamphlet distribution on Inauguration Day for the DC and nationwide Women’s Marches. For HuffPo/other reviews, visit GerardSarnat.com. Harvard/Stanford educated, Gerry’s worked in jails, built/staffed clinics for the marginalized, been a healthcare CEO and Stanford professor. Jani Scandura (Page 198 - 200) is a professor of literature and cultural theory. Previously, she worked as a magazine editor and a writer for GQ, Mademoiselle, Vogue, Self, and other magazines. In 2008, she published Down in the Dumps: Place, Modernity and American Depression with Duke University Press and is currently finishing another theoretical/critical book, “Proximity: Nearness and Similarity in the Age of Absolutes,” about World War II art. She is also at work on a novel in fragments, “Cemetery of Elephants,” about the avant-garde resistance in Paris during the German Occupation. Peter L. Scacco (Page 38) is the author of five books of poetry: Three Meditations (2016), The Gray Days (2014), Along a Path (2013), A Quiet Place (2012), and Chiaroscuro (2010). Mr. Scacco’s poems and woodcuts have been featured in numerous print and online journals. He has lived and worked in New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Brussels, and now resides in Austin, Texas. His art can be seen at www.scaccowoodcuts.com. Robert Scott (Page 103 - 104) has written five mainstream novels for Orion Publishing/Victor Gollancz (London) over the past ten years. My most recent books, “Emails from Jennifer Cooper” and “3:17 a.m.,” were both published here in the US. “Jennifer Cooper” tells the story of a forty-three-year-old mother navigating a difficult divorce; while “3:17 a.m.” is my first collection of poetry, released during my tenure as Poet Laureate for Prince William County. I am an English teacher from Haymarket who has been collecting 10,000 poems for a permanent exhibit showcasing creative writing in Northern Virginia. Cindy Skaggs (Pages 226 - 228) holds an MA in Creative Writing from Regis University and an MFA from Rainier Writing Workshop. She is the author of seven novels and has earned a Pushcart Nomination for her Creative Nonfiction. She resides in Colorado where she is a college English professor. Zach Tamer (Page 170, 259) is the author of three children's books that deal with environmental protection and volunteerism. Zach is also the co-author of a poetry book written in conjunction with his father.
Nazariy Telyuk (Page 65), married, thirty years old, lives in North East Philadelphia. Came to the United States 13 years ago from Ukraine. Nazariy has been writing poetry for the last several years. His biggest poetic influence is Charles Bukowski. He loves books, often take long walks outside, enjoys listening to his music on vinyl, and visits the gym every morning before going to work. Nazariy's favorite authors are Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway, John Fante, Charles Bukowski, Stephen King, John Steinbeck, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Rimas Uzgiris (Page 252 - 253) is a poet, translator, editor and critic. His work has appeared in Barrow Street, AGNI, Atlanta Review, Iowa Review, Quiddity, Hudson Review and other journals. He is translation editor and primary translator of How the Earth Carries Us: New Lithuanian Poets, translator of Caravan Lullabies by Ilzė Butkutė, and forthcoming collections by Judita Vaičiūnaitė and Gintaras Grajauskas. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MFA in creative writing from Rutgers-Newark University. Recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Grant and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Translation Fellowship, he teaches translation at Vilnius University. Jenna Villforth Veazey (Page 229) is the author of a chapbook of poetry, The Rise of Jennifer. She has been published in Bella Grace Magazine and her poems have appeared in previous issues of FLAR. Her poems for children have appeared in Baby Bug Magazine and Highlights Hello. Thea Verdak (Page 132) Thea's first voyage was as a tot, aboard the MS Koningin Emma, a retired commando ship, thrashing across a petulant channel to learn the culture of her grandparents, leaving her parents waving on shore. This set the course of her life. She reads, writes, walks, and is an animal activist. Patricia Walters (Page 238 - 239) began her career in the 1950s and 60s as a jazz singer. She spent the next 40 years as a psychotherapist. Now in her 90th year, she has devoted her life to writing poetry. Her work has appeared in Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine and Emerald Cove Review. Scott Wheatley (Page 66) studied under Daniel Nester, author of Shader, at the College of Saint Rose. Wheatley writes fiction and non-fiction and recently had a short piece published in the Hamilton Stone Review. He teaches composition at a community college in Houston, Texas. Harold Whit Williams (Page 90) is a 2018 Pushcart Prize Nominee, and also a recipient of the 2014 Mississippi Review Poetry Prize. My collection, "Backmasking," was winner of the 2013 Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize from Texas Review Press, and his latest collection, "Lost in the Telling," is available from FutureCycle Press. In his spare time, he is a guitarist for the critically acclaimed rock band Cotton Mather. Saorla A1Wright (Page 144) is an Irish born woman currently studying acting on the BA hons Degree course at The Institute of the Arts Barcelona. Along with her studies she enjoys the passions of writing, as well as singing and playing the cello. Her experience ranges from creative writing in her bedroom to nine month theatre tours around France and Belgium with EITC. She hopes to flourish within the writing world and let her aptitude for it bleed into future theatre making. Sally Zakariya (Page 127) Sally Zakariya's poems have appeared in 60-some print and online journals. She is the author, most recently, of When You Escape (Five Oaks Press, 2016), as well as Insectomania (2013) and Arithmetic and other verses (2011), and the editor of Joys of the Table (2015). Zakariya blogs at www.butdoesitrhyme.com. Lena Ziegler (Pages 234 - 236) is a recent graduate of Western Kentucky University's MFA program and is currently pursuing her PhD at Bowling Green State University. She is the co-founder and co-editor of the online literary journal The Hunger. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Red Earth Review, Miracle Monocle, Harpoon Review, The Fem, Breathe Free Press and others.
Thank you for reading Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review. We hope you have enjoyed your time with us. Please spread the word about us to your art and literature loving friends. The spring / summer edition of FLAR will be out in June of 2018. In the meantime, you know where to find us.
Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival
In Mended Faith: A Life of Abuse, Pain and Redemption, author Cornelia Jude shares her struggle of trying to understand why she was the target of repetitive sexual abuse and how unhealthy coping mechanisms — drug and alcohol abuse, reclusive behavior, and self-mutilation — didn’t heal her, but instead added more brokenness to her already shattered life. Her story mirrors the accounts of many women still living in the shadows of their abuse and who watch its remnants effect their marriages, damage their parenting, and cloud their judgment. Only through faith in Christ did she find a way to make peace within herself, forgive those who abused her, and use her voice to advocate for the many women living the shadows of their pain. Learn more and sign up for updates at: www.mendedfaithbook.com
Partners 2017 Publication Round-Up
From the author of A Knife in the Back, You Will Be Safe Here, and Burn All The Bodies comes The Rabbit, The Jaguar, and The Snake, the first book in an epic series of adventure and survival. When Bonesaw, an early 20th Century gangster, is rescued from prison by the Brotherhood, he doesn’t realize it is actually a kidnapping. They need him to spy on one of their own generals, and to do so he has to go through their version of Basic Training, also known as The Gauntlet (Golgotha, Hell, and The Battle Royale). His choice is simple: do what they say or they’ll cut off his head. Nearly a century later, Detective Katherine Wheeler investigates a string of murders with similar, horrifying details: each victim dies when something huge erupts out of their bodies. Unbeknownst to her, the attacks are the beginning of an invasion, one that could wipe out all of mankind. Finally, deep in the jungle of a primitive planet, Coatl faces his most dangerous foe yet: the monstrous tecuani. When they overrun the last stronghold in the empire, he decides that the world has one last hope for survival: Ka-Bata and his army. But no one has seen Ka-Bata in years, and nobody even knows if he’s still alive. Separated by time and space, these three unlikely allies, The Rabbit, The Jaguar, and The Snake, must find a way to join forces. If they can, the human race has a chance to survive. If they can’t, it is doomed.
Learn more and sign up for updates at: jamesnoll.net
Visit us online at: fredericksburgwriters.com @FredLitArtReview @FredLitReview Submissions for the 2018 Spring/Summer edition of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review will open on March 1, 2018. Visit our website to read the magazine online or to find a link to our submission guidelines and instructions when the next window opens.
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FLAR is an independently published literary and art magazine located in Fredericksburg, Virginia.