FLAR Volume 4, Issue 2 Fall / Winter 2016

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Fredericksburg Literary & Art Review Volume 4, Issue 2 Fall 2016


FLAR logo by Elizabeth Seaver © 2013 Cover Art by Bill Harris, Rearview Mirror

EDITOR in CHIEF A.E. Bayne PUBLISHER Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review LITERARY PANEL


Mikaela D’Eigh Christina Ferber Jim Gaines Tramia Jackson Shayli Lesser

Joelle Cathleen Ruth Golden Alex Harvell Maddie Huddle Christopher Limbrick CONTACT



www.fredericksburgwriters.com Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review @FredLitReview FLAR




F EST IVAL Coming Saturday, September 23, 2017 At RIverside Park on Sophia Street In Downtown Fredericksburg, VIrginia Visit fredbookfest.com and join our email list for the latest information about this event. Contact fredbookfest@gmail.com for more information. Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival @FredBKFest

Dear Lovers of a Luscious World, What a doozy of a year! When public life and times are divisive, I turn to the arts for solace. Like many of you, I cherish a well-turned phrase, a compelling piece of writing, or thoughtful verse. I seek composition and design to refine the rough edges of a topsy-turvy world. The visual, literary and performing arts are woven with brilliant thread, resulting in collaboration and inspiration born of diverse creativity. That diversity is our constant strength. You will find evidence of this artistic web within the pages of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review’s fall edition, as it reveals the live tapestry of arts that surrounds us in our town, our region, and beyond. With a topical focus on editing and revision, regional artists and writers share their experiences of craft and process. Our local, national and international contributors offer thought-provoking pieces that inspire empathy, evoke wisdom and channel kinship between themselves and their audience. We are making connections, people. This is outstanding! With that, I will leave you to relish the work within. It’s important work that highlights our similarities in a world that seems bent on building walls based on our differences. Enjoy! Best Always,

A.E. BAYNE is the editor in chief and publisher of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review and an

organizing partner of the Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival. She is a writer, visual artist, and educator living in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She can be read monthly in Fredericksburg Front Porch Magazine and other regional periodicals. Her photography and artwork have been featured in a number of shows, most of which can be viewed virtually at aebayne.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Letter from the Editor


Fall 2016 Literary Panel MIKAELA D’EIGH is the pen name of a freelance writer living in the Fredericksburg area. A member

of the Water Street Writers, Mikaela writes poetry, personal essays, snarky Facebook posts, the occasional blog post, and is currently working on her first paranormal novel. Her poetry has been previously published but this is her first appearance in FLAR. When she isn’t wrestling with characters and writer’s block, she writes about it on her blog La Belle Dame De Merci, pens hand-written letters to friends far and near, kayaks whenever she has a free moment, and has yet to meet a vintage hat she hasn’t liked.

CHRISTINA FERBER Christina Ferber holds a BS in English, M. Ed in Education, and Masters of Library Science. She currently teaches English and is a regular contributor to the Front Porch Magazine. You can find out more at christinaferber.com or on her blog, www.living-with-intention.com .

JIM GAINES is a poet and novelist who maintains the blog Gaines Science Fiction on Blogger with his son John M. Gaines. His works have appeared recently in Voices on the Wind, Avocet, and El Portal, as well as FLAR. He has served as President of the Virginia Writers Club and Riverside Writers of Fredericksburg. The first novel in the Forlani series, Life Sentence, co-written with John, is due later this year on Amazon Kindle.

TRAMIA JACKSON is from Stafford, Virginia. She holds a bachelor’s in history and a master’s in his-

tory museum studies. She currently works in New York at the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. When she is not fighting for social justice with museums in New York, she loves to visit her friends and family in Fredericksburg, Virginia where she gets much of her inspiration for her writing and poetry.

SHAYLI LESSER is an editor, photographer, and dabbler in poetry. She was born and raised in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and is a recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a BA in English. She spends her free time knitting small objects and socializing with other people’s cats.


FLAR / Spring 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 1

Fall 2016 Art Panel JOELLE CATHLEEN is a fine art and mixed media artist whose work is shown prominently in many

galleries and restaurants in Fredericksburg. After completing her BA at the University of Mary Washington, Joelle Cathleen remained in the Fredericksburg region, working locally and actively participating in the arts community downtown. She is inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s barren landscapes and captures a deep sense of internal reflection in her work. She hopes to offer her audience a key to an intrinsic meaning of the symbolism in her work. Learn more about her at www.joellecathleen.com .

RUTH GOLDEN picked up an Instamatic camera when she was 10 and has been snapping pictures ever

since. She’s also a writer, has thrown many clay pots, and loves traveling near and far. Her keen photographic eye captures those moments you might not otherwise notice in the hustle of everyday comings and goings. Being married to a sailor, a mother to three, and a grandmother to three rounds out her life quite nicely. Contact her at RAGwoman1@aol.com .

ALEX HARVELL is a multi-cultural Artist that brings people together through the arts and dance. He

is the owner of FREEBYRUNNING, a company that he started when he was 16 years old with the aim of bringing people together through art, music, and dance. Harvell has planned and promoted four area events highlighting a diversity of artistic genres: Abstract Vibes at Salem Church Library; Metamorphosis and Unsung Heroes at Art Mart; Midnight Oasis at Catalyst; and most recently, The Awakening at the John J. Wright Cultural Center & Museum. Harvell’s goals include mentoring area youth, bringing the community together through the arts, and inspiring people to reach their goals.

MADDIE HUDDLE is a fine artist, illustrator, and designer from Fredericksburg, Virginia with a

Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Communication Arts department. A small selection of her pieces can be viewed at PONSHOP Art Studio & Gallery. Maddie’s work transforms the familiar into the fragmented, inviting viewers to both reevaluate their perceptions of fine art as well as their perceptions of the people around them. View her artwork at www.maddiehuddleart.com.

CHRISTOPHER THOMAS LIMBRICK is a contemporary abstract fine artist residing in Richmond,

VA. The natural environment inspires the artwork that he creates. Chris incorporates a human feeling of a particular moment as he explores the natural elements of the earth while observing the interplay of its masculine and feminine characteristics. He has exhibited locally here in Fredericksburg, in Richmond, VA, New York City, NY and is widely published and collected. You can see his work and learn more at christopherthomaslimbrick.com or Like him on Facebook @christopherthomaslimbrick.



Featured Profiles Bill Harris

Artist Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 27

Kristen Green

Writer & Journalist Something Must be Done About Prince Edward County Richmond, Virginia Page 41

Hsi Mei Yates Chinese Brushstroke Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 45

Jim Hall

Writer & Journalist The Last Lynching in Northern Virginia Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 59

Jurgen Brat Artist Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 63


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Sarah Lapp Artist Stafford, Virginia

Page 67

John Williams

Designer: HAISIX Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 76

Beth Spragins

Celtic Bardic Poetry Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 91

LibertyTown Arts

Gallery Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 99

Lorie McCown

Fiber Artist Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 113

Featured Profiles The Itinerant Printer & Susan Carter Morgan

Grant Ervin

Buffalo, NY and Fredericksburg, VA

Animation Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 197

Susann Cokal

Water Street Studio

Letterpress Printing Page 125

Writer & Editor

Broad Street Magazine Richmond, Virginia Page 131

Final Show Verses to Visions Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 203

Songwriting in the ‘Burg

Renda Writer - World Peace Mural Project

Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 155

Art Mart Gallery Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 219

Alaha Ahrar

Poet & Activist Springfield, Virginia Page 173


Artists & Writers Page A1

Nancy Michael

Costume Design Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 185

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2



Our Supporters!

By donating to Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, our supporters 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 donors’ 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

Membership Donors

Contributing Donors Joseph Buehler David and Collette Caprara Anita Holle Christie Pennington Woodie Walker Sally Zakaryia

Emily Barker Mary Becelia Lori Izykowski Seth Jani Cam Kurer

Bob McNichols Michelle Sanders Heidi Seaborn Connie Lester Josie Stevenson

Sustaining Donors Downtown Writing and Press Letterpress printed cards and posters using metal, wood, and polymer Forage Studio, 208 William Street, Fredericksburg, VA 22401 Online: downtownwritingandpress.com

Frank Fratoe is a poet and friend to the arts in Fredericksburg, Virginia. A writer of re-

search 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.


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.


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Joan Critz Limbrick Visionary Painter, Potter, Poet and Author www.joanlimbrick.com

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.

MANAGING YOUR DOCTOR By Dr. Patrick Neustatter

The Smart Patient’s Guide to Getting Effective, Affordable Healthcare

Visit managingyourdoctor.com or follow us on Facebook. Order the book on Amazon. Thea Verdak writes short stories, flash fiction, and minimalist poetry. She is currently writing eco-fiction. Thea worked for the Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc., was the founder and president of the Rappahannock Humane Society, and is the author of The Barn Teacher, I Can’t Pee Straight, and is finalizing Sleepy Jenny. Thea is an animal rights activist, has traveled widely, is a keen walker, and reads profusely while listening to language tapes, @ TheaVerdak.

Serving the Fredericksburg Area Music Community We have all of your bowed instrument needs covered! Sales - Rentals - Repairs - Accessories 540-645-7499

509-1 Jackson St, Fredericksburg, VA 22401 wmmasonviolins@yahoo.com www.wmmasonviolinshop.com FIND US ON FACEBOOK!


Do Yoga and Do Good for the Community Affordable, nonprofit studio classes supporting free outreach yoga in the Fredericksburg area. 1403 Franklin St., Fredericksburg, VA 22401 Learn more at www.yogafredericksburgva.com

Congratulations on the production of this issue and we look forward to seeing many more in the future! Wishing all of you much success with the magazine. Anne and Todd Zeter, Albuquerque, New Mexico

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


All the Things You Never Knew You Needed Now A.E. Bayne Pencil and Ink

Alex Harvell

Alan Hite Photography


Kite Poetry

How to Start a Revolution by

A.E. Bayne A kite and a hopeless gesture, too many trees to win today, an no wind to carry the message.

Messages like birds flung from our hands, we tighten the string, but the addage is wrong. The message, freed, is a flight-filled thing far higher than its captive audience. We control the tenuous string, but birds, birds, birds...

Someone has taken it turned it mirrored it It pulls against the handler controling from the other side

Its insidious face is angelic with uncertain eyes. We see a thing to pity, a puppet, played like a child in heavenly robes.

In the time that it takes us to see, shadows form underfoot, our eyes turned ever skyward.

Panel Artists and Writers


Sunset Cityscape RVA Christopher Limbrick Photography


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Panel Artists and Writers


Lying in Wait

Ruth Golden Photography

Red Bones and Tin By Mikaela D’Eigh

The call came during the snowstorm.

Thirty-six inches in the span of a few hours, yet I never saw it coming.

And then, between one breath and the next; between the fall of one snowflake and another, my neighbor’s barn that had stood sentinel over countless grazing cattle and watched children come and go for a hundred years is…gone. Vanquished. The weight of the snow too much for its old red bones and shivering tin. I was lucky enough to have grown up in a rural area surrounded by acres of land and trees. The rhythm and beauty of nature never failed to calm me and welcome me in her embrace. The song of peepers. The scent of fresh turned dirt. The caress of a warm breeze. The solidity of a big red barn. It was always there too, just like the land: solid, strong, immovable. It was built by hand with bricks and stone and wood, but it was peopled with sweet hay and the dance of dust motes, a shy child’s dreams and a young woman’s hopes. Here in the main body of the barn there rose imaginary dance floors, grand stages and even grander pianos. Here on the side, a writer’s nook, tucked away from accusing and scoffing eyes. Underneath, a kitchen, busy cooking amazing foods grown right on the property. But one cannot dream forever. There are jobs to do, trains to catch, and bills to be paid. Year after year, I chased different dreams far away, and the barn remained behind. Watching the leaves turn, the snows fall, and the lilacs bloom. Keeping up a good front. And I chose to believe that front. Chose to trust that all was well and the barn remained strong and impenetrable. For denial is strong -- stronger than steel and brick and a hundred year old wood. And I preferred to keep those dreams of restoration and fantastical studios; of writers gathering beneath the rafters, of music between the slats. Dreams are free and addictive. They don’t hurt us like dollar signs do. Until the day they collapse under the weight of a January snow and you wish you had at least tried to make them a reality. If I hadn’t seen it lying there, covered in snow and curled in on itself, I would have suspected foul play: a tornado or a hurricane. I look at photographs that cover every angle of the before and the after and realize I had been looking at an illusion of strength for many years and not actual solidity. Holes in the roof, pieces of the wall torn away, support beams rotted and crumbling. It may seem odd to feel grief over the destruction of an abandoned building, fifty years past its prime. But loss is not something one can prepare for. It remains a stranger even after you’ve encountered it many times. It’s a scab, the pain a memory that lies in wait. And that barn was never just a barn, it was a haven and a catalyst of dreams. The roof collapsed and the walls imploded. . .but so did my dreams. Months later, I am still in shock. I open the door to a wound in the landscape. But there are jobs to do, and trains to catch, and bills to pay. So I lock away my tears for another day, my chest tight with unrealized potential and unshed grief.

Panel Artists and Writers


Carbon Quadra

Maddie Huddle Charcoal and Ink on Wood


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Chroma Veil

Maddie Huddle Oil Paint over Charcoal and Ink on Wood

Panel Artists and Writers


Sunset Train RVA

Christopher Limbrick Photography

Two by

Jim Gaines

Late in Pentecost Caroline Christian Center waits White-washed and tightly shuttered For Sunday Morning when five old cars Newly washed will testify to prayer Faithful hands have left undisturbed Nearby a robust stand of Devil’s Cane Is it in memory of a crown of thorns Or because golden leaves and wine-tinted berries Beckon to the passing doves?

Empty Nest Driving down Broad Street Past places half-borrowed From the past of my life From the past of my wife Richmond Ford Our first car The brown bear Maverick Good Father John gave to newlyweds Willow Lawn Mall Shops for her clothes Now more tattered than the threads Those subtle margins of life she called Accessories The Crazy Greek Diner Uneasy lunches with the in-laws To whose bland tongues Oregano was hot and suspicious Later souvlaki with my son And the grandmother left behind Like an autumn wreath Museum of Science Two seats under the whirling galaxy More and more deserted Right field stands at the Diamond One pair of eyes on the ball Measuring innings wondering why The grass seems so dry


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In a Yellow Wood Shayli Lesser Photography

Panel Artists and Writers


Fields of Winter Ruth Golden Photography

Autumn Swirl

Joelle Cathleen Resin


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Lessons Learned By Christina Ferber

Some people use self-help books, others might use a life coach, but I have found all the lessons I need in the form of my 10-year-old son, Jonah. I am amazed everyday at just how much he has taught me about life and the lessons that are to be learned from it, starting with his first week on earth. “Where’s the baby?” my mother asked, as she pushed past me searching frantically through the house for the new addition on his first day home. Quietly I whispered after her, “Hi. Don’t worry, I’m fine.” Selflessness and patience are the two most important qualities that I have learned as a mother and any parent will tell you that you might as well check yourself at the door because you don’t matter anymore, the bundle that your mother is searching for does. But Jonah has also taught me the joy of smaller things. I have rediscovered the joy of a sprinkler, the taste of an ice cream sandwich, and the carefree spirit that dancing for no reason can offer. I have also discovered that there is a proper way to fight with a light-saber, T-Rex was not the largest meat eating dinosaur that ever lived, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are named after major Renaissance artists. Who knew? Of course my job is to teach him life lessons as well, and everyday I try to instill good values and a respect for others in him. Unfortunately sometimes my high and mighty self can go a bit too far. When he was in kindergarten, the poor guy was the only boy in a class of twelve girls. Instead of switching schools, I thought that this demographic situation would teach him to become more sensitive and understanding to females. What more could a mother ask for? Unfortunately, instead of learning this all important lesson, his mantra has become “Boys rule, girls drool.” This is not the first time my ideas have come back to haunt me, and I am sure not the last. Mistakes are inevitable. The other day I was admittedly a bit too harsh while reprimanding Jonah for a pretty simple thing: not putting his dishes in the sink. His response put me in my place. “Mom,” he earnestly said. “You know I’m a good kid. Are you tired today or just in a bad mood?” I had to step back for a minute and take a breath, I was exhausted and his honesty put me in my place. That honesty and innocence are what make me see things in a different way. When he was 5 years old, Jonah made the declaration that he would no longer eat meat after a trip to the state fair. “How can anyone eat a cow, they aren’t hurting anything, and the pigs are cute,” he said. How could I argue with that? He has since convinced me to join him in his vegetarian lifestyle. “Smoking is bad, mommy, I don’t want you to die,” he said a few years back. I have now been smoke free for 4 years. Of course it wasn’t that simple, but you get the picture. One of my favorite sayings that Jonah often repeats is, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” I have begun repeating it, though attaching a larger meaning than my son intended. It reminds me that everything that happens does so for a reason and should become a lesson to learn from. William Wordsworth once wrote, “The Child is Father of the Man.” Jonah teaches me something new about the meaning of life every day, I just have to listen. So far I think I’m doing okay. On the obligatory ‘what am I thankful for’ project he did for Thanksgiving, he wrote, “I am thankful for my mom, she is nice, usually.”

Panel Artists and Writers


Red Bone

By Mikae

Seasons 6

Joelle Cathleen Acrylic

es and Tin

ela D’Eigh

Sweetgum Shayli Lesser Photography


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Virginia Blaze Autumn in Virginia is one bright cheery inferno, a blaze of color. Its like God lights a match and sets the trees on fire, trapping the flames in the shape of leaves. And every tree burns differently. Some trees catch slowly and simmer going from green, tipped with yellow to ruby red to a soft orange glow. Others singe around the edges, with deep purple, before going up and out each one burning brightly leaving fallen ashes and bare bones behind. ~ Tramia Jackson

Panel Artists and Writers


Sunset Apocolypse

Christopher Limbrick Photography 23

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Panel Artists and Writers



Maddie Huddle Oil Paint on Wood


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Panel Artists and Writers


Bill Harris

Two Lane Blacktop Bill Harris Oil on Canvas

Bill Harris is one of Fredericksburg’s most recognized visual artists. A teacher and visual storyteller, Har-

ris readily acknowledges that he is primarily self-taught. It has been through practical experience, creativity, and engendered talent that he has reached a point where his passion and his career are one and the same. “It’s a little ironic, I guess, that I teach so many students,” he says, “but I always tell people I didn’t go to school for art. I did research things, different techniques and materials. That’s what I’ve been doing for 30 years.” Harris is most proud of his students, ten of whom have started their own studios at LibertyTown. He often helps his students promote their work and procure show space around Fredericksburg, and his door is open to anyone who wants to talk shop throughout the week. He tells his students one of the most difficult things in any creative career is to keep things fun and to stay motivated. Harris considers technique over training and believes those who study traditionally and those who study practically can be equally excellent artists. He says, “The thing that nobody will teach you, and couldn’t teach you in any school, is how to be creative. I think I’m an average painter, but I’m creative and have ideas that people like to see on a visual canvass.” Harris commits to creating significant images, scenes that stir the imagination. He captures emotion, setting, and often the people and places that make Fredericksburg unique. He relates practicing technique to singing, “Someone may sing beautifully, but if you don’t have anything to sing about it’s not going to be very interesting. It’s similar to painting. Strong technique is a must, but without creativity there’s no life behind the painting. So, I think my strength lies in the creative part of it.” Painting is also like telling a good story in that the images create a narrative for each person who views them. Harris explains, “Even when I think I’m being very specific, people will read the painting in their own way and bring their own life experience to it. I’ll give you an example. I painted a woman walking down the sidewalk. She’s carrying a suitcase with all of her clothes in it. Visually, I thought that would be very interesting. I could almost imagine the colors pouring off of her hands. Half the people who saw it said she’s running away from 29

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


Bill Harris Oil on Canvas

something. The other half said she’s running toward something. One group saw her action as negative, the other as positive. I didn’t have any control over the way they interpreted it. I think that’s okay, because it doesn’t have to be interpreted exactly as I planned.” Harris works with many local models and his process is meticulous. He begins by keeping sketches nearby as he goes about his daily routines. When he sees people doing mundane actions - sitting a certain way or carrying an object in an unexpected way - he will jot it down. Then he takes a few minutes to sketch what he saw. He says when enough of the images are compelling he will hire a model. He adds, “We’ll go through six or seven different poses and scenes, indoor and outdoor. I’ll photograph them and pick one or two that work best. Out of twenty ideas, three might end up being paintings, large or small.” Because the process is lengthy, Harris uses the same models in many of his paintings. Developing the trust and comfort between himself and his models takes time. Harris does not usually approach people to be models for his paintings, but people do contact him offering to model. He admits, “The more I work with a person, the easier the sessions go. I always consider we’re not going to get very much the first time we meet. I have to build that trust over a period of time. I’ve worked with some models for years, and it’s much easier because they know me and know where I’m going with an image. I know what they’re comfortable doing for the image. Just like any relationship, it just gets better over time.” For Harris, there are a couple of different areas where editing comes into play. He says gathering ideas in his sketchbook is like free writing for a writer. “It’s brainstorming. It’s a place for me to say those are no good or that’s not going to work. I might take two different ideas that have nothing to do with each other and put them together to make them work. Then let’s say when the model and I are working together, we get the setting - a house, a street - and we plan to do a number of things for the photographs. I may shoot the same scene from eight different angles - maybe the towels are different or the window is open a little more, the carpet’s different in each one - and I’ll actually photograph those changes. When I get home, I’ll print them out and sit at my table and choose the best ones, really 29

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Fredericksburg 1949 Bill Harris Oil on Canvas

boiling it down to “the one,” but I’ll be looking for elements I like in other photographs as well. Maybe the reflection is better in one, but I like the way the model looks in another, so I’m combining the images before even sitting down to paint.” Harris says he sometimes doesn’t know if he is making the right choice until he paints the image, but he feels he has to take that chance. He also creates true studies, small versions of his larger pieces where he works out details. This allows him to paint two or three versions before committing to a larger piece. Harris believes that many people see him sitting at the studio and think that painting from a photograph is not that difficult. He points out, “To get to the painting is a long process, from coming up with the idea, to getting the right place, to hiring the right the model, to capturing the image photographically before painting it. There are hours of behindthe-scenes work, both individual and collaborative, that go into the paintings before they are dry and hung up for viewing. That’s not even considering all the edits and changes I make while painting. I’ll sometimes paint the same scene multiple times just to get it right. Even then, I might take them down and make changes at some point in the future.” Harris says his work has changed over the years. For one, it’s brighter and richer with more contrasts. He admits his first pieces were murkier and he experimented with themes differently. He says he probably wouldn’t paint some of the things he did fifteen years ago. He also says he has been working less often with figures these days, allowing for some exploration into landscape and still life painting. He muses, “When I first started painting, I felt like I had to convey these sweeping ideas to make my shows important, like one I did early on of a large fight scene with mini-vignettes showing how people were reacting to the fight, but I just don’t really think that way anymore. Now, my thoughts go to what would be visually unique and interesting.” Harris says his plan for 2015 was to hold off on showing his work to create new work for his studio at LibertyTown Arts Workshop. He felt his studio was becoming a holding place for work that didn’t sell at shows, and he wanted to work for his studio for a while. As a result, people began commissioning paintings from him and that has been a focus for most 2015 and 2016. Harris has enjoyed

Bill Harris


Tuesday Special Bill Harris Oil on Canvas

creating unique commissions for his patrons, often setting a scene, returning to his love of the visual narrative. He says, “I do commissions that are pretty specific. Commissioned portraits will look a lot like my paintings, capturing emotions or time and place as well as the subject, or I might paint a bunch of kids in a kitchen stuffing their faces with pancakes. That’s what I do different than most. There are people who probably do straight portraiture painting much better than I do, but if a someone wants to set a scene, that is what I enjoy best.” Harris acknowledges that making a career of the arts, any arts, is difficult and takes commitment and motivation, self-promotion and networking, and by all means, people can’t be in it for the money. He laughs, “Well, look at all of us - writers, painters, potters - none of us get paid enough for what we do, not if you add up all the hours that go into creative pieces, the research and time spent making it perfect, but you can’t look at it that way. You’ve just got to have fun. I don’t really worry about the payment part so much, but when you do have to have another job to support your creative life it zaps your energy. It’s hard to be creative when you’re exhausted. You just want to come home and have a glass of wine.” Most recently, people will see Harris’s work on the side of Downtown Greens, and inside and outside Spencer Devon Brewery in downtown Fredericksburg. Any show he has had in town has nearly sold out, and many of his paintings are shipped to patrons around the U.S. He calls LibertyTown his studio home, and he attests to the impact that having an open door has had on building relationships with the art patrons. “That open door gives people who are not familiar with the way art is being made the opportunity to see that process,” Harris reveals. “Let’s say you’re not an artist, or you don’t have an artist in your family, maybe you’ve never seen art being made, whether by a potter on a wheel or someone painting. It’s an experience to see us working. We take it for granted because we do it every day, but to people who visit us it’s like magic. When they make that connection with us, they also make a stronger connection to the art. At LibertyTown, if the artists’ door is open you should go right in and ask questions. It’s better for everybody.” Visit Bill Harris online at wcharris.com .


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Princess Anne and William Bill Harris Oil on Canvas

Rearview Mirror Bill Harris Oil on Canvas

Two by

Dick Altman

Iona You and Iona sitting opposite. Mother and daughter, if Iona weren’t a restless, willful, sinewy-legged Salome— an English, bullet-headed terrier pup, palomino and white, on tireless feet. I'm jealous of your patience with her. I miss it in us—in you. The two of us too self-absorbed with canvas and page, to create even an irritable peace. As three, we are less ménage than trois at war. You entreat her with treats. I swallow words of broken glass. Iona sits, shakes, waits, gets down. I choke on envy. On signal, she rolls over, not so submissive as seductive. I should be pleased. Iona crawls on her belly, raises her rump to beg. Good job, you gush…good job. In my mind lingers a sweet, coppery taste, more blood than honey.


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Loneliness “Something in our brains must make it feel bad to be alone and bring relief when we’re with others. --Quanta Magazine I am locked in a Piranesi dungeon of metaphor. Stretching below, an unmapped promontory of the cortex. Grisly tools of torture line the walls, old friends of self-hurt. No one guards the parapets. None hear the silent screams. I am keeper and kept in a tower of solitude. Little escapes walls built of unalloyed, unappeased oneness. Until one night neurons of despair nearly hijack my ride into a suicide wreck. How many times of one-too-many do I need, to cross the double white line one last time? Time, I plead with myself—time to quit loneliness cold, and for good. Time to make space for this exile of crowds. Fugitive who longed, too long, to work a room of one. Tremors dizzy the mind. The fortress collapses into a sea of cheering synapses. Hemispheres realign to anoint me, newly plated, one of the hive. I waver on the neural shore. From the shattered keep a roar of desperation, wail of the outlier. Over me washes the cry, as if from a ghostly ex-love.

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A-ni-ni-e-ta, tribes call me— mistress of wind, water and light. No priestess, nor exactly divine, I have no beginning, no end I know of. I simply was and am— like dark energy or matter— a force benign. Some see me as the sum of thought and longing. Others, as guardian and witness. Sometimes I enter dreams, less influence than omen. Little is left of what I am— or the hunters and fishers, who embrace me. Simplicity seduces… politicos, no less engineers, even the brightest. My rivers and lakes, a trove of salmon and trout, they see as free gold, to be spun into electricity. Not for Canadians, but to cool the tropics of New York City. Sinless energy, they call it. Their dreams, rippling with profit, lie beyond my whispers.

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I have no magic to match theirs. From space the scar they leave looks as if gouged with a knife. As if gods ganged up to chisel from the Cambrian Shield a spillway of steps, each higher, wider than Niagara. As wars grind on for years, blasting rumbles across waters racing and still, across ice and snow, silent for the wind, the song of wolves, the snorting, smoke-breathing caribou. Tribes that worship me beyond memory— they sell out. Slowly, painfully they strip me of necessity and purpose. They give up ancestral lands, wake to new towns, new lives. I watch money wedge itself into the fragile seams of culture. Dissension, disruption drown out their prayers. I am locked out of dreams.

Rape at James Bay ..............................................................By Dick Altman Northern Quebec, in the remote wilderness east of Hudson’s Bay

Eden withers—and I with it. Caribou rounding the gorge starve by the thousands. A Belgium-size wilderness under water spits up mercury. To hunt or fish is to feast on a banquet grilled in hell. From whatever I am made leaves me impotent to fight. The age that savages James Bay evokes little more than a sigh. One night, a voice I know, soft but insistent, calls from a dream. It is the last of the great chiefs— loudest in opposing “the idea”. Blessings he wants—to steer a sacred canoe down the riverine spine of eastern New York. Courage to circle Manhattan, to claim the heart of the chief of chiefs in Albany.

The handshake between Canada and New York— I feel the shutter, as the yoke of profit uniting them splinters for good. The Big City pays more, pollutes more, to keep cool. But the waterlands have already paid. The tribes have paid. The fish and caribou have paid. My losses count for little in human terms… while wounds, like the great gash, lay open, and the buried arboreal plain, as if a dying reef, dissolves in the sea of Hudson’s Bay.

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He spots me sitting on a blanket His chubby hands seize my face And he presses his forehead to mine Dancing eyes hold my gaze And joy turns our mouths upwards.

Weighted Feather by

Debbie Schaffer

He takes advantage of my stillness Two short, pudgy arms encircle my neck I make an agreement with the universe To capture all the marauding thoughts of demanding duties And I accept the weighted gift That pins me to the earth. And then he turns‌ The round curve of his back fits the hollow of my belly. His curls are cradled in the soft pillows of my breasts Looking up, we both wait The silent night sky explodes with noisy, Glittering flashes of color and light He is mesmerized and I stay calm until my energy blends with his. He hums to himself for comfort Then wraps my arms around his body A circle of refuge and peace Dimpled hands fold over mine The night breeze lifts his feathery hair And the smell of hard playing boy Conjures up images – Days when my own children filled my lap with their tired, sweaty presence The light show finishes with Flashes of light and thunderously low cavernous beats That piggy back one after another in quick succession He turns away from the threatening display Burying his face in the curve of my neck Even after the light show ends And we are plunged into darkness We remain wrapped within the magic circle Our breathing slows into a sure and steady rhythm His body becomes heavier as his bones settle His eyelids flutter as sleep draws him downward Young mothers begin the tasks of packing belongings And herding their small charges into a singular direction I am past the young mother stage Where perceived expectations and unwarranted guilt Cloud good sense and steal life giving moments That nurture and bolster the soul I allow myself this moment To sit without fear of reproach I give permission to the faded memories of years past to wash over me Then I carefully place this night among them. Two years old and unaware of the gift he has given me This creature of wonder, This weighted feather. He pinned me to the earth.


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Worshiper of Light Saeed Ordoubadi Photography

Kristen Green When Brown vs. The Board of Education desegregated schools across the United States, it is well documented that some school systems across the South ruthlessly fought the ruling by blocking access to schools for African American youth. Kristen Green grew up in such a place, the small southern Virginia town of Farmvile in Prince Edward County. In 1951 in Farmville, Barbara Johns, an African American student from R.R. Moton High School, led a student protest and secured NAACP legal support to fight conditions at her school. It became the largest student-led lawsuit as the case, Davis vs. Prince Edward County, which was included in Brown vs. the Board of Education. When the ruling was handed down, the Board of Supervisors of Prince Edward County chose to close, rather than integrate their schools in Farmville. White children were able to attend an area private academy, while the county’s under-served children, most of them African American, were left without a school for five years. Green was unaware of racial lines in her community while growing up in the final decades of the twentieth century, primarily because she remained surrounded by a system that glossed over this past and continued to practice systemic racism born during the era of segregation. When Green moved away from Farmville to study and become a journalist, she learned about Johns and started investigating this era of her county’s history. It led her to examine her own memories of her childhood and to question the intentions of her community as a whole. “Something Must be Done about Prince Edward County” became, in Green’s own words, “part memoir, part journalism, and part history.”

One of the first things I started thinking about when you agreed to this interview was the intersection of your life as a journalist and that as an author. As a piece of nonfiction, I would imagine your experience as a journalist helped you write this story. It varied depending on which parts of it I was trying to write. I’ve been a journalist for many years, so when I’m interviewing people I tend to be able to remember their stories. It’s pretty easy for me to go back later and write without my notes so that I get a fluid draft, and of course I go back later to fill in with details from my notes and fact check everything. The sections that were about the students who were shut out of school were probably the easiest to write,


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because their stories were so compelling. Our interviews allowed me to come home and empty the story onto the page, and I really tried to do that without editing myself. I ended up using a similar style of writing for the personal narrative part. I tended to write those early in the morning between 5 and 7 a.m., before the kids got up, but I had never written like that before. It worked really well since I was under a deadline, especially when I was not producing as much as I wanted to produce. I would set my alarm for 5 a.m. and make a pot of coffee. I would avoid Facebook or Twitter, and I wouldn’t look at email. Instead, I would sit down and think about what I wanted to accomplish, what I wanted to write about that day. I would set my timer for about 30 minutes and I would allow myself to free

flow without editing. That was really great for producing the more personal narrative pieces that I needed to write. Probably the hardest part to write was the research - the section on Brown v. Board, for example. I wanted it to be really readable, but I also wanted it to be accurate, so writing it was very slow. I had read a lot about the case, and I wanted to be able to write it from memory as I had the other sections, but I was nervous I would get something wrong if I did that. It was very arduous, because I would write part of a sentence and then I had to make sure I could attribute what I’d written. Then I’d write another part of a sentence and make sure that checked out. That was the slowest and most difficult writing that I did. So, those are the three different writing styles that make up the three parts of the book. I look at it as part memoir, part journalism and part history. What kind of timeline were you working with to get the book out to the public? Let’s see, Harper Collins wanted to move forward with me in October 2012, and I turned it in the summer of 2014. I started by approaching them with two sample chapters, and I had been doing interviews since 2006 with the last living founder of the private academy that I attended. The book came out in 2015. So about eight years for the writing, but in that time I had two kids, got a master’s degree, and worked as a reporter here in Richmond. There were many other things happening at the time. If I did it again, or something similar, I would try to do the reporting and the background reading in a much more condensed way, because you tend to forget details. You’ll find it in your notes and say, “Isn’t this an exciting piece of information that I forgot from three years ago?” With the amount of research you did and your process of chunking the writing over a period of time, did editing became important to help you organize your work and create a cohesive flow to the text? In some ways there’s always the editing and keeping yourself in check during the process. You think an angle is really interesting, but you don’t have time to go down that path. Or you look through notes and see an interesting person you would like to include, but you have to edit yourself, realizing you’ve covered 43 FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

similar angles from someone who expressed it better or provided insight in some other way. You can’t have multiple people telling the same story because you don’t have the space. I’ve been a reporter for so long that my experience was useful, because I was publishing something almost every day. I got used to interviewing people and realizing when I had enough information to stop. That skill was really useful in this process. I would love to tell everybody’s stories that were effected by the school closures, but with my experience from my work as a journalist, I was able to develop a sense of when I had enough information or had heard a similar story. I used note cards to cover all the points, and at some point I laid them out across the dining room table to chunk ideas and figure out themes. For me, the process of writing and editing went hand in hand. Later when my editor sent back specific edits it was more process, but I was really writing and editing as I was working on the book as a whole. I had done a bunch of reading about the writing process as I was writing the book and I knew that my main narrative thread would be the history part and how the school closures happened. Then I ended up having two other narrative threads. If you have one really strong narrative thread that is chronological, then you can bounce around your other thread or threads. My other thread was this journey to understand what happened in my hometown and to come to terms with it - my personal journey. It starts with me in the present, married with two mixed-race kids; then it moves back in time and the reader sees me becoming a more well-rounded, curious person through Mary Washington College (now the University of Mary Washington) and through working as a journalist. Finally, it goes back in time to me as a kid in Farmville. I see these as three narrative threads. As I moved the note cards around, I tried to make sure that each of these parts of my life was represented and woven through the story of the school closures in Prince Edward County and what happened afterwards. This was your first book, right? Yes, it had been bouncing around in my head for a long time. It’s interesting to write a book that’s so personal and has been with me for my whole life. Following up such a meaningful and important book is difficult. Part of what made the story so important was how recent it was and that what happened there affected

children. They were the primary victims of school closures.

What insights have you gained from the way people are reacting to the book?

I think children are affected today. I’m a public school teacher during the year, and I think a lot of what we see going on in public schools, especially the regular attempts to divert and defund public education, as well as the school-to-prison pipeline that has been revealed, is directly related to systemic racism.

It’s been really cool to see how people have responded to the book, especially people who were from the Farmville area or who lived there and have moved away. It’s been more painful to have family members and people I’ve known a long time reject the book because they are not happy about its revelations. The book has been adopted as the University of Mary Washington Freshman Read for 2016-2017, which is one of the most exciting things. They’re doing a year of programming around the book, which allows me to visit campus often. Also, the book has received some critical acclaim from The Washington Post and the New York Times. When you write a book, you don’t know if anyone is going to read it. That this one was so well received was a validation that the story should be told.

Yes, after I wrote this book people approached me to advocate for public schools, so I wrote an op-ed for the Richmond Times-Dispatch when Richmond public schools attempted to seek more funding from the city. That feeling of responsibility after writing this book was a surprise. I wanted to do more for the children who most need public schools and who we haven’t done well by. So, that has been an unexpected outcome of having this book do well, that and having my own kids in public schools. When you have your hands in it, and your kids are in public school, and you’ve seen it through your journalism and your reporting, it’s really hard to turn away and say that’s not going on, at least from my perspective. These [public schools] are the places that are really the last resource for some people. I feel like it’s a timely book, as civil rights are at the fore of our political and personal discussions today. It certainly reflects the social climate of the nation right now, especially as a lens pointed toward the movement’s origins. Yes, we have a president-elect spewing hate and preaching xenophobia. I hope that it’s a book that’s really timeless, too, and that people can always come to it and learn about history. It’s one of those stories that should have been told. You read it and you’re glad somebody picked up that torch and told it and said, “This happened.” There are so many of these stories that are waiting to be told. Being a journalist was really good preparation for writing the book, but it was an entirely different process. I had the skill to write the book, but the process of figuring out how to put it all together and make it cohesive was new. It was a learning experience to try to write this book.

Something Must be done about Prince Edward County is published by Harper Collins and may be purchased at a bookstore near you. Learn more at kristengreen.net

Kristen Green


Hsi Mei Yates The Art of Chinese Brushstroke Hsi Mei Yates began her career as an artist over thirty-five years ago in Taipei, Taiwan at the China Pottery Company. She painted designs on ceramic with 100 other artist. When she moved to the United States in 1983, she used her knowledge and training to branch out into her own style of painting, combining Chinese brushstroke with Western style of art using inspiration of Mother Nature and natural beauty that we see around us. Her main themes are the beautiful flowers, birds, fish insects and landscapes that fill her with joy and inner peace.

How long were you working at the factory in Taiwan? That was about five years, but I received formal training at the China Pottery Company and many well know Master artist. When I finish school I wanted to continue the excitement that I already felt for art and the pottery company got my attention. They offered employees formal training, commitment to Chinese Culture and other great benefits. It was a perfect fit and springboard for my future as an artist. Which techniques do we see in your paintings today? It is combination of traditional Chinese style brush stroke and Western watercolor including even abstract style. And then you transitioned out onto your own with your painting? Due to the complexity of painting on ceramic and how it shows each brush stoke I had to learn to paint a perfect stroke, combining multiple colors in one stroke with such 45

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precision, on various shaped vases. This taught me the complexity of 3D translated into two-dimensional watercolor painting. Since childhood, I was interested in art, so I did calligraphy writing and painting. That is always with me. At the time, you had to transfer the different pigments to the glaze. It’s a totally different kind of pigment that you use, but the principle is the same. It’s easier for me to transfer from the pottery to the Chinese Brush Stroke. You said you were interested in calligraphy early on. Do you think that helped you become a better Brushstroke artist? Yes. I definitely do. In Chinese, it’s very important for you to learn how to do the calligraphy first. That is the first thing you learn in school. Actually, I am more into painting than calligraphy at this point. That’s why I didn’t go further with the calligraphy, because painting of nature took over. However, calligraphy is an art form all itself and is the root of my style.

The other thing I found interesting on your webpage was that you had things sectioned into categories representing the natural elements. Is that traditional in Chinese art? Is it something you take into consideration as you are you are painting? No, the web page was designed by my husband and son and was organized to help others focus in on a particular element in their search for one of my pieces. My husband saw that I did a lot of birds, which he sorted into “air”, fish into “water”, and landscapes, placed under “earth.” My son came up with an even better idea to divide them into the five elements, so he grouped the paintings by elements. But Chinese art covers all elements in nature and what we see around us. How have you seen your technique change over the years? Do you recognize different choices that you make now than when you first started? Are you attracted to different subjects? I am always willing to learn and grow as an artist so I

have definitely changed and evolved in my painting style and subjects. Originally my focus was on landscape, birds and flowers with limited scope. I have expanded out my focus to local points of interest and subjects but each is an original artwork and my own personal style. Working at Liberty Town Art Workshop and Lorton Workhouse Art Center, I am surrounded by great artist with their own style and medium. We are always critique each other’s work and helping to make us all better artist. It is an environment of growth and learning. Of course I stay in my principle of Brushstroke, but I will adapt certain things based on what I learn from other artists’ techniques. For example, I use to paint Chinese art focused on the perfect stroke with little background detail. This was to ensure your focus was on single composition. Then I expanded out, adding rich color and texture to the background as well as main subject based on what I was seeing here. This included speckling, wrinkling paper first, dabbing, pouring, and blowing to apply my color and ink to the rice paper. However, my roots are in traditional Chinese style and I always come back to it precession.

Hsi Mei Yates


How do you cross the traditions? I use combination of traditional practice and modern technology. It is important to go out and research my subject matter in its natural environment, because my kind of art it is very important for you to study your subject in detail. Traditionally, artists would sit over there and watch and watch and watch in order to study the movement and structure. But now it’s quicker because you can take a photo to capture the subject, the shading, the colors, and movement. I would take different shots, from various angles to capture and then I’d transfer it to my brush stroke to create a more natural and life-like picture. I also look to create more dimension, because Chinese Brushstroke doesn’t worry about light and dimension, or shading. When I was learning from Western style, I realized I could transform my style and discover my own style. I played with that for a little while until I really understood that photographic style, the zoom in and blurring of background. A lot of people like that style and my art took off. You’ve painted some that contain very little color. Are they older paintings, or do you still paint that way from time to time? I always go back to my beginnings so from time to time, l paint in black ink only, focusing in on the brushstroke and simple movement. You always try to achieve with black and white technique first, which uses the five layers (white, light gray, dark gray, black, dark black) to create depth. Like hues and layers? Yeah, depth is important. You have to train yourself to see that. Black and white is hard. If you can achieve that, especially in landscapes and in Chinese Brush Painting. We normally don’t use pencil to draw first. We go directly to the black ink. All the landscapes I do I use black in first to create depth. After the ink has dried I then apply the color over the black outline. It’s because the color is transparent the ink will still come through. Is there a style of art to which you think Chinese Brushstroke is closely related, or is it entirely unique? 47

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In terms of the materials, it is quite different from others. I have to know my materials and how the choice of materials will change the end product. So, if I was to look at somebody else’s artwork and I wanted to transform it to my style, I’d have to play around and make that work. I’ve played around with materials a lot to create the desired effect. What are the challenges of the materials you are using? Rice paper can be a challenge because it’s kind of like paper towel, raw and absorbent. As soon as you touch it with water it has already started to separate and it is difficult to control the paint and ink so it stays in one area. You have to constantly be aware of your stroke, angle of the brush, and pressure applied to the rice paper in order to control the flow of ink or paint to the paper. That is the first thing I teach my students how to do. I teach them the various techniques to control the flow of ink or paint onto the brush such as using the side of the plate to scrape off their brush to achieve the proper amount of water. You said you use Sumi-e ink. Sumi-e ink is the word that originally came from Japan, which means mixture of ink and water. However, China was the original creator of painting using ink. Are there other things that people should be aware of when starting to learn this technique? Chinese brush painting materials are ink stone, ink stick, bamboo brush, and rice paper. In ancient times this was called the “Four Treasures.” They would put the water in the ink stone, and then when you use the stick and grind it. People say it’s a meditation. They would grind it for hours. Some artists would start the day by grinding their ink and drinking their tea. Professional artist will often grind their own ink because it’s fresher and allows better control of mixture resulting in rich pop of ink. Even though I’m teaching class right now, I don’t want them to grind their own ink because it’s time consuming. I’d rather have them practicing their technique and strokes than have them grind their own ink.

(continued on pg. 51)

Hsi Mei Yates


Asian style uses a bamboo brush. The bamboo is common material in Taiwan and is use because it is lightweight. The brush is made with all kinds of animal hair because of the absorbency. They used animal hair to make the brushes, which allows for better storage of water and ink and control the flow so the brush stroke can last longer between fill up of the water. The type of brush material being used depends on whether the artist wants to use a soft or hard stroke. Soft brushes comes from sheep, rabbits, goats and even Ginny pig hair, while for hard brushes they use horse, pig, or weasel hair. To create medium brush, they mix weasel with goat usually. Type of brush an artist uses will depend on how much moisture they want to apply to their painting. Soft brushes could be used for soft petals and leaves, or to wash the sky. Landscapes, rock forms and tree forms take harder brushes. You have to choose the brush for the object you are working with. You also mention on your website that you integrate the practice of Chi when painting. How is that done? To build Chi, some people might meditate but I don’t. I use my Chi to combined my thoughts, shoulder, arm, hand to the brush tip. It takes the whole body to create my perfect stroke. Artwork is your whole body and the energy coming out from idea to final product. The process takes prior images in my mind, combining with current environment of sight and sound and my concept of what I want to paint. Chi is a combination of mind and control and movement, from position of my body, my arm, that flows through my hand so your energy releases from your spine through your shoulder to the elbow to the tip of the brush. That way it’s the whole body thinking about the artwork. You can relate this to how a ballet dancer holds her body and the positions they hold. If people miss that training early on, they have to take a long time to train the body and mind. Are you drawn to certain elements at certain times of the year, or is it more organic? Do you feel yourself going through stages where you say I want to work with flowers now? My personality is more wild. I am moved to paint by surroundings, a picture I see, news, videos, life in general. There were certain times where I did focus in on a particular subject, always working to create the perfect image but I love to just paint about all that I see. What about the subject matter? At certain times, if I am painting horses, I’ll paint them 51

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for a little while until I bring that particular subject to life. Then I might move unto another subject, such as landscapes or insects. So, for example, you’ll do a series of frogs? I don’t know if people even knew about that. If I want to understand things I will do it over and over so my brain sees and memorizes that thing. A lot of times when I’m teaching the class I tell my students they will find it hard, but they have to memorize things, so it can become like a muscle memory. The background reminds me of silk scarves. I have painted on silk in the past but some of the backgrounds you see are more of a variation of a style I am using. This uses washing of color in the background to create the four seasons you saw in my last show. I use red, orange, and yellow, and sometimes some blue and green to create this effect. It’s colorful and really pretty, and then you form your picture from that. It is basically abstract painting as a start that I then paint my subject as focus, with the abstract background. Sometimes I would try to blend this style with the crumpling of paper to create another type of picture. How do you flatten it out once you crumple it? This is really two actions. Obviously, the paper has to be flat in order to paint, so I uncrumple it and start painting. I am using the crumpling to create a texture for certain subject. Then if in another area, I want it to be smooth, I use brush and water to smooth out the wrinkles for that area of the painting. Once the painting is done I use wet-mounting to make the whole picture flat. This creates a mixture of texture and smoothness in the same picture. What are some of your favorite things about teaching? After I came to Virginia, I started teaching children. Before I only taught adults because my style of artwork was so disciplined and I didn’t know if kids would be able to listen to me and have the attention for it. Surprise! They do better than adults. I love teaching children. Kids have no fear. You tell them to do this or that and they will just do it. The results can be amazing. But my favorite thing is the joy I get from teaching anyone who wants to learn Chinese brush painting and Chinese culture. That sounds right, though. We really pick up some of our best skills when we are small. We’re kind of like sponges at that point.

Kids are like open books and very accepting but everyone can learn and gain new skills. I see that with the teaching of writing. Students will try the most creative things with they are writing because nobody has told them it’s wrong. As you get older it is sometimes harder to be freer with your spirt, willing to try new things. But I think anyone, if they have passion and desire can learn and try new things. Children by nature are more open to ideas and can be very creative. “What is wrong with purple horse with rainbow?” There’s a lot to be said for focus. I try to narrow the focus with my students in order to help them learn the proper stroke. But once they are comfortable with it, I also invite creativity. As an example, I have my students paint a cat with my direction and guidance and then I allow them to paint any background such as window or sunset so it is mixture of focus and creativity. Visit His Mei Yates online at hsi-meichinesewatercolor.com

Hsi Mei Yates



Sue Henderson Photography

Stories from the Road: Margaret By Sue Henderson

Margaret was sitting at a folding table in the middle of

the tribal great hall at the Tlingit Heritage Center in Teslin, Yukon Territory. The Hall was decorated with felted red and black banners all over the walls and half the room was flooded with light from the floor to ceiling glass doors to the Yukon River behind her. Clearly I interrupted her gossip session with another woman who quickly moved away to “let her do her job”. I asked Margaret if I could take pictures while she told me about the beadwork and she said “Yes, but pay attention.” It was the first clue we were in for a treat. As she squinted one eye to thread the needle and joked she could make me do it, she told me she’d been doing this since she was 10 but wasn’t good enough to work without a pattern. I said “I doubt that” and she grinned but showed me the paper raven’s head temporarily stuck on the moose hide anyway. I asked “When do you think you WILL be good enough?” “Probably soon” with another sly smile. I didn’t want to impose the camera too much so I asked her about her tee shirt “Tupelo, Mississippi – with a pic of Elvis in front of an old store and some more text at the bottom”. Boy did she light up. It’s the only time she’s ever been out of the country or on a plane. A few years back she went to Memphis for a week to see Elvis and stay at Graceland and told me all about it while questioning my Elvis knowledge and dropping all pretext of beadwork as she went along. Her favorite song of his is “Probably In the Ghetto. But any of the earlier ones are great too, eh? What’s yours?” I told her I liked a bunch of them but probably Love Me Tender cause it’s so sweet and youthful. She decided I could be trusted and carried on her story. So she’d been in Memphis. But “Tupelo. That’s where it all began. Ya gotta go there eh?” So she had asked around and asked around and finally found out there’s a daily bus that goes twice a day to Tupelo and back. And that’s how she got to the hardware store. Where she stood right there, in the very spot, where 11-yearold Elvis pitched a little boy’s fit because his Mom wouldn’t let him have a 22-rifle he’d saved up for and the store clerk offered a small guitar instead. But he was 15 cents short. And Mom made up the difference. Right there in the very same spot, this Tlingit woman from the Yukon Territory of Canada literally bought the tee shirt and was done with all the travelling she ever wanted to do in her life. She made me round up the other three in our party “So I only tell you all the story once” before filling us in on the complete process of making beadwork moccasins and other items. It begins with everyone in the area bringing her moose hides which sit in her yard until they are crispy and stand up on their own. Mostly she waits until late fall and she’s got 10 waiting for her to start working them in early October. She needs the cool and then cold weather to aid the tanning. Margaret discovered her secret tanning solution while standing at the stove cooking dinner one day. She needed to improve on the

old recipe as there weren’t enough moose brains and elk fat and moose fat to do it properly. But it occurred to her that “fat was fat right? And this bacon fat I’ve just rendered might work. And so would that butter. And Velveeta cheese would make it all smooth and also add fat.” So that’s the recipe. One pound each of butter, bacon fat, moose fat, moose brains, and Velveeta. That makes one big chunk (which looks like butter but smells like cheese) put into 57 gallons of water to make a soupy slurry in big tubs in her yard that the stiff hides get immersed for “several days till they are soft and pliable”. The hides then get stretched and tied on a square frame of birch branches to dry and then scraped with a tool she proudly told us was five generations old and a treasure passed on to her and not her brothers because they went and played and left her there forced to learn all this when she was 10. Margaret was in her element joking and teasing the next part of the story in the absolute true nature of their tribal people – the art of the story. She nailed it. We were riveted and stuck right there until SHE decided it was time to move on. And we followed willingly. After the stretching and the scraping comes “the part the kids love” when she puts a couple kids under 5 or so onto the stretched hide and has them jump on it like a trampoline. “You gotta make sure it’s tied on real good to make it work and then it’s a hard time getting them kids off that hide”. Plenty of pictures to show us the steps along the way. The tanning, drying and stretching process turn the hide a smooth and soft white. But it’s not done yet. Then it’s stitched together and swirled into a cone shape to be smoked over “pine acorns” which give off a lot of lovely smoke and put the color back into the hide making that soft golden tan color we all know. When she showed us some pics of those that had been finished, there were some reds and blues and we asked if she dyed them and how. She thought we were crazy. “Why would you work so hard to change the color? This is nature. This is tradition. Those things, pointing to the pics, are felted wool. Warm and fine but definitely not hide. Do you think I do all that – pointing to the process examples on the floor – just to change the color. Isn’t this color beautiful to you?” Indeed, it is Margaret. Indeed. She cuts and then beads pieces before sewing them together with a strong sinew and a new-fangled way to thread a needle which fascinated us enough to capture it on video. The current piece she’s working on is an octopus bag – square shaped opening at the top and five fingers hanging down and fully beaded on all sides. “My people come from the sea. We are the farthest west of the tribe and don’t get the octopus here but we know these creatures from the sea and they are our symbols – in our blood. That’s where our symbols come from. The bag is shaped like the octopus and the bead shapes, given to me by five generations before me, are of coral and seaweed and the sea. Can you see it?” We walked thought he museum gallery with her pointing out some of her finest work behind glass and telling us the stories before making our way back on our journey having been honored to meet Margaret.

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The Fires


Water Street

By Angie Walls It’s 110 degrees and the air is weighed down by a blanket of humidity, when it’s just barely June, meaning this day could never lead anywhere good. The uneven dirt road goes on forever, a washed-out brown line looping in and through itself. I keep cranking the AC for some cold relief, until the knob pops right off. Eight hours of solid driving through the drudging plains of Kansas and Missouri, seeing the same flat fields that are fifty shades of brown with a little peppering of green, a sign that everything is struggling to survive from here out over the next thousand miles. Not a single car on the stretch of road that lies ahead, nor a single cloud separating the scorching sunlight and me. A true deserted place, forgotten and locked away. The way is too familiar. I slow the car down as it hits the unpaved gravel roads outside of Redmonton, the nearest civilization with a 24-hour diner and a decent gas station that in the least carries miniature Jim Beam under a buck, which is basic enough to survive a trip back home. Out the corner of my eye, I see my phone light up with another missed call. It’s my older sister Megan, no doubt calling to scold me for being more than an hour late. “Yeah, yeah, I know it,” I shout defensively, while holding the phone a couple of inches away from my face. She gets all highpitched like a chipmunk when she’s freaking out like this. “I’m here, really. Shut up. It’s seriously, like two seconds.” I hang up before she has a chance to speak another spiteful word. Megan had been the one to call us all home without saying why, which was bizarre. When it was our duty to show up at the hospital with flowers for Mom or to put on a class act as the perfect family in time for Christmas, she’d be damned sure to lay it all out for us. Some things sure never change, and Megan bullying us into a return trip home is one of them. When I was eight, I believed Megan hated me. I remember the time she broke through my bedroom door and set my dolls on fire with a plastic red BIC lighter. It was Mom 55

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and Dad at their best, all blood, sweat, tears, and all that. “Singing in the Rain” was coming from the TV downstairs, the music bleeding through the floors and walls. Only it hardly replaced the sounds of breaking porcelain and the violent, knock-down shouting match between them. Eventually it was the smoke and my incessant crying that caused the entire house to become silent. Mom came to my side to rescue the blackened corpse, but the carefully brushed hair and blue eyes were all gone. Another five miles later, I see Water Street come into my view. My baby sister Hannah is standing in the middle of the quiet street, waving her arms wildly at me. She’s finishing a final drag on her cigarette before running out to the car as fast as she can. “Hey, Ellie!” she says with a smirk. Hannah always presses her thin lips together, like she’s holding in a secret. Her perfect brown curls have flattened out into stringy threads from the summer sun, the top hairs frizzled and out of control. She’s wearing dirty old jean shorts and an oversized plaid shirt that’s tied at her waist but still seems to swallow her up. Being back home is especially hard on her delicate features; she was never built for this rugged life out here. Hannah wraps her skinny arms around me; of course she smells like cinnamon and cigarettes. “How you holding up?” I instinctively tuck back a loose strand of hair that’s dangling in her face. Up close, I see her eyes are a little worn down and weary, and it reminds me how we haven’t seen one another since two Christmases ago. There are still dark smudges of eyeliner smeared under her eyes from a long day, and she’s been too preoccupied to reapply. “Megan’s gonna kill you,” Hannah warns me quickly. Then she pulls herself in closer, laying her head down on my shoulder, childishly. I can’t help but brush my fingers through her soft hair when I embrace her. We are the babies of the family, and we’ve always clung to each other like

ivy. By our awkward adolescence, our father had thankfully disappeared to another family, and it was just the two of us in the house with Mom. Megan had already fled to college in Colorado, and David was hitchhiking his way westward, and we heard not a word from either for years. The days could get very lonely, so we had to find a way to get ourselves into Redmonton, which was more than an hour’s ride along with the first stranger we could find on the road. After the year Hannah turned sixteen and got hit by a truck and dragged two miles in the dirt, I learned to fear the dangers that were outside our house too. Hand in hand, I walk alongside Hannah, and we enter the unknown awaiting inside the dark house where everyone’s gathering. The intense energy comes from Megan, who stands stiff at the other end of the living room, where there’s a few lit candles. Megan doesn’t look up. She’s busy bickering with David over something, it’s difficult to hear. David looks like a modern Jeremiah Johnson, a mountain man with a bushy beard and lumberjack hands that instantly make him stick entirely out of place. While she’s gesturing loudly with her hands, her blood pressure through the roof, he is her polar opposite. David leans back on the mantel, decked out in a ’70s ugly retro sweater with a bright red collar and corduroy pants. And he’s smoking on a pipe, as if it’s the most natural accessory for a young man in the twenty-first century. I’m trying not to look too shocked, but even after all these years, he’s still such a bizarre animal. “What’s with the lights?” I say aloud, hearing my voice echo. “Jesus, El, where the hell have you been?” Megan’s on edge more than ever tonight, her slim fingers gripping a short whiskey glass with just a sip left in it. “What’s the deal? Someone just freaking tell me already.” I walk over so we don’t have to keep shouting at each other. Hannah trails quietly in behind. “The power’s out again. You know how Mom is. Look, guys, I called you down here because there’s been another fire in the house,” she says with the gravest tone. “Wait, what?” I glare over at David, expecting him to show the same bewilderment. “Where exactly?” is the stupid thing I can think to say. “Last week, I got a call from the Mullers down the street that Mom’s house was on fire. They can’t figure out what started it.” “Hold it.” I can barely process what she’s trying to tell us. “What do you mean it was on fire? Is Mom okay?” She grabs me hard by the shoulders. I can feel her fingernails digging into the threads of my wool sweater. “She wasn’t cooking; the fireplace hasn’t been used since Dad. I just don’t know. This has been the third time or something.” She talks slowly but emphatically, her voice rising with every word. David finds his time to jump in. “Maybe it was Dad’s ghost.” His eyes go extra wide, his pipe suspended in the air

with dramatic flair. “Coming back to haunt us.” “Dad’s not dead, you idiot.” I’m laughing at the idea. It wouldn’t be the worst thing. “I don’t know, Ellie,” he says, circling around us. “I didn’t get his usual sentiments on my last birthday, you know, the card where he circles shit like ‘Proud Dad’ or ‘Best Son,’ because who better than Hallmark to say it.” He takes a long drink from his glass. “David, she nearly burned the kitchen down,” Megan shrieks, irritated with David’s immature and ill-timed attempt at humor. “And why do you think Mom started the fire?” I protest. “What are you guys saying?” At the same time, Hannah chimes in, leaning in closer to the conversation. “Where’s Mom?” “And where’s the Jack Daniel’s, that’s all I’m saying,” David continues, talking over Hannah, though he appears to be talking to himself more than any of us. “Guys, this is serious!” Even with Megan shouting over everyone, the chatter keeps getting worse. I turn face-toface with Hannah, and we’re both frantically yelling about whether Mom’s okay, which doesn’t help matters much since we don’t know a thing. David is in his own universe, smoking and cracking jokes. He has a real talent for telling “remember whens,” believing it might help knowing there is a worse time in our family history that could top the situation we find ourselves in now. It’s like old times; we fall into the same dysfunctional rhythm again, bickering and pointing fingers at each other. Megan tries to hold it all together, but she never quite seems to understand that she can’t control everything. “Whatever. I’m going to bed,” David says, bored of the turn of events. I follow his lead, for a change. The next day, we’re stumbling awkwardly to settle in together, without trying to kill each other. While we’re sitting on the couch, Megan stands boldly before us with a bottle of bleach, throwing down an empty bucket on the hardwood floor to get our attention. She tosses a box of trash bags at me, and the corner of the box hits me right on my collarbone. “Come on, lazy bones. You’re all helping me clean up, toss out the burned stuff.” She points at us so we know our duties for the day. I walk into the kitchen, and none of it seems real to me. The entire right wall is scorched black, where the family pictures used to hang neatly, and there’s a stack against the wall of ash, broken vases, and other recognizable items. The room feels emptier than usual; the long, wooden table and chairs where we ate at every meal is missing. Could that have burned up in flames with the rest? I’m imagining our petite mother in the center of the room, and I’m panicking at the realization that she could’ve died with such an enormous fire at her arm’s reach. I pick up one of the frames from the floor and can barely make out one of the photos.

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“I don’t get it.” I’m careful to hold the photo by the tips. I can see our dad’s face at the top, one of the last family portraits. He looks like a used car salesman with the thin mustache, barely smiling. I was too little to understand that look of discontent on his face lasted for years. “Why is this the only wall that’s burned?” Hannah is inspecting the other side of the room. “Did they say how she started it?” “Matches, I guess,” Megan says hastily. “Does it really matter?” “Of course it does.” I step in to Hannah’s defense. “The least we could do is cut off her resources so she doesn’t do it again.” “It was an accident, El.” Megan stops mopping up behind the kitchen counter, accusing me with her mean stare. “Let’s just focus on the problem we have now.” Now that I’m almost thirty, I am brave enough to stand my ground, so I take my place a few inches from her, staring back with all my might. “Wake up,” I say emphatically, mimicking the way she sometimes speaks to us slowly, like we’re still children. “Are you really not even asking yourself if she wanted to die this time? Or what if she’s actually crazy and could hurt herself?” “Mom doesn’t want to die, don’t ever say that.” I can feel David and Hannah staring at us, unsure of what they could say. “We grow up in the same house or what? You’re seriously going to stand there and tell me that Mom didn’t overdose on antidepressants? That you didn’t have to sew her up because she refused to go to the hospital one night? Or Dad didn’t almost choke her to death?” I can’t stand to look at her. “Just fine. You want to pretend? Fine, whatever helps you sleep.” “How fitting,” David says loud and proud after about ten minutes of not looking or talking to each other, when the tension becomes too difficult to stand in. He drops one of the pictures back into the debris and then he wipes the black smudge left on his fingertips on his jeans. “What?” I say, though I appear to be the only one indulging him. I squat down to the floor, pulling in the mess for a better look. “This all looks like shit from Dad,” he declares. “Just look…pictures, anniversary stuff, the vase with the pink roses… Jesus, didn’t this used to be a glass swan thing?” “Sh. You guys hear that?” I listen again, and there’s an unmistakable sound of drawers slamming upstairs. I follow the noise through the upstairs hallway. I find Mom in her bedroom. “Mom?” I call out gently around the corner, making my way to her. I hear her dragging her fingertips along the wood-paneled wall. The wind is howling like a madman outside; the walls are moaning. “Momma, you in here?” And there she is, standing by the front window, peering out the side of the burned curtains. 57

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“Your daddy’s late,” she declares. “Hurry now, you wipe your feet at the door! That wind’s kicking up something fierce, and look, you brought it all in with you.” Mom grips me by the arm with some force, brushing the invisible dirt caked on my jeans. “Momma.” I stop her. “There’s no dirt. Daddy’s gone. It’s just us in the house now.” I talk slowly, looking her in the eyes. “No, no.” She steps back, looking through the window again. The agitation is spreading through her voice like a virus. Her eyes dart around frantically; she is checking outside for someone to walk in. “You hush, now. Or you’ll really get it. He’ll be here.” So I wait with her in the silence, putting my trembling hand on her frail shoulder. David manages to scrounge up some more bourbon in the house, hidden in one of the linen closets upstairs. We play a few rounds of Would You Rather until we run empty. David and Megan warm up the fireplace, and I braid a long piece of Hannah’s hair until she falls asleep. I take a stack of letters I found in Mom’s dresser upstairs, and add it to the fire. Sparks fly from the burning logs, and David starts tossing the rest of Mom’s keepsakes we could find into the fire, one handful at a time. “This might not work, you know.” Megan says what we were all thinking. “How do we even know how, or why, Mom was burning her stuff in the house? This is nuts.” “Did Mom stop taking her pills? Do you even know?” I hold her wedding photos in my hand, tearing them in half first before tossing them into the fire. “Back off me, okay? Where were you, huh? Where have any of you been?” There’s no good answer, not from me or anyone. I’m still struggling to find an answer we can live with. All we can do is watch the flame flicker and dance with each new addition. The more I ask myself why Mom started the fires, it gets me thinking about my burned dolls. We had been helpless children, and time still doesn’t change that hard truth. As I’d grown older, I began to understand that starting the fires was the only thing Megan believed could have made any difference. And even tonight, it’s still all we have to offer. I watch the pieces of wood, glass, and paper burn up in the fireplace, and it’s cathartic to see the remains of our father disappear before our eyes. If only the memories were so easy to erase.

Fresh off the Press The Last Lynching in Northern Virginia: Seeking Truth at Rattlesnake Mountain

The Attack at Edenhurst

A body had been found. It hung from an apple tree at the foot of Rattlesnake Mountain. By the time Deputy W.W. Pearson got there, a crowd had gathered, more than 150 people. Someone set fire to the body, and Pearson tried to beat back the flames with his new hat. Then a man punched a pistol in his ribs. “Get back,” the man said. “Let it burn.”

Henry and Mamie Baxley were asleep in their upstairs bedroom when Shedrick Thompson attacked them. Their 2-year-old son, Henry Jr., was sleeping in the adjoining bedroom. Thompson knew the Baxleys and Edenhurst, their home. He and his wife, Ruth, lived next door in a tenant house. He had worked as a farmhand for Henry and Henry’s father, and Ruth was their cook. He moved confidently in the dark, entering the house through the back door into the kitchen, where he picked up a stick of stove wood. It was about 10 o’clock on a Sunday night, unbearably hot, even for July in rural Virginia. Thompson crossed the wooden floor of the foyer, then crept upstairs to the bedroom. Henry must have heard something, because he was out of bed when Thompson reached him. Thompson was on him quickly, using the stick as a club. The two struggled in the dark, amid the sounds of confusion and pain. Thompson hit Henry on 59

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the arm and head and finally knocked him unconscious to the bedroom floor. Thompson grabbed Mamie and pulled her from the bed. He dragged her past her downed husband, out of the bedroom and down the stairs. Together the two stumbled through the door, across the porch and into the moonlit night. The date was July 17, 1932, in Fauquier County, Va. Thompson was black, 39, and the Baxleys’ employee. They were white, landed, and as one newspaper said later, “one of the most popular young couples in the county.” Inside the home, only silence followed the shouts and groans of the attack. Thompson and Mamie were gone, and Henry was unconscious. Henry Jr. slept through the attack, unaware that his father was injured and his mother was missing. Whatever fury drove Thompson to attack the Baxleys that night did not involve their child.

Henry Sr. regained consciousness to find himself sit ting by his son’s bed. He said later that he had only the vaguest recollection of covering his head with his arms to protect himself against Thompson’s blows. He called for his wife but got no answer. His head and arms were swollen and painful, but he moved quickly through the house, searching each room. Downstairs, the front door stood open. Henry peered into the darkness, the empty pastures and stillness. Nothing. He scooped up Henry Jr. and hurried outside to his pickup, an old Reo. It was after 3 a.m. as he drove to the main road, then south, past Hume, to the Cove, Mamie’s childhood home. Alphonso Washington was a teenager then and had been working as a “house boy” for Mamie’s family at the Cove for about a month. He saw Henry pull up the driveway, park his truck, and with his son in his arms, run into the house. Henry told his in-laws of the attack and Mamie’s abduction. He was “bleeding freely” and still dazed, one newspaper reported, and the family was surprised that he had been able to drive. He said he thought Thompson had shot him. But his in-laws examined him and said no, it looked like he had been beaten. Washington, now 102 years old, is a retired preacher, living in Culpeper, Va. In an interview in 2014, he recalled what it was like when Henry arrived at the Cove and told of the attack. “He didn’t know nothing about where [Mamie] was,” he said. “He didn’t know nothing.” The abduction from her bedroom was just the beginning of Mamie’s nightmare. Thompson grabbed her under the arm, pushing, dragging, almost carrying her down the hill and the dirt driveway outside her home. They made an unlikely pair as they hurried west through the night. He was 6 feet, 190 and labor-strong; she was tiny, so small that she had to use a pillow to reach the pedals when she drove. At the end of the driveway, they crossed Route 688, now known as Leeds Manor Road, and entered the rocky pasture on the other side. They had not gone far into the field when a car approached. It was Lucian Moss on his way home from Hume, where he had been playing bridge. His window was down, and he was singing. Mamie knew Moss from their choir at Leeds Episcopal Church and recognized his beautiful voice. She tried to pull away from Thompson; surely Moss would see them and stop. But the car did not slow, and the headlights moved away. If Mamie had any hopes of rescue, they faded then, leaving her with the fear of what was to come, the possibility that she might never see her husband and child again.

Jim Hall


Rattlesnake Mountain in Fauquier County, VA

Thompson pulled her through the pasture, across a creek and past the thickets of briars and redbuds. The land was too rugged for crops. Instead, the Baxleys grazed cattle there and produced apples. Everyone knew the place as Locust Shoots. After a hundred yards, they reached the foot of Buck Mountain, out of sight of the road. Mamie was scared and sore from Thompson’s rough handling. But she told her family later that of all the injuries she suffered that night, among the worst were the cuts to her bare feet from the rocks and briars. No one but Mamie knows how long she was Thompson’s prisoner. No one knows what, if anything, he said to her. Was this some sort of drunken payback for something he thought she had done? Was he angry at her husband? Two days later, when Stanley Woolf, sheriff of Fauquier County, prepared a wanted poster for Thompson, he used technical language to describe the incident as a “criminal assault on a white woman, a capital offense.” The members of a Fauquier County grand jury were less delicate. They said Thompson raped her, a charge she later confirmed. Thompson also knocked Mamie unconscious and pulled the rings from her finger—her diamond white gold engagement ring and her wedding ring, white gold with orange blossom engraving. Carved inside the wedding ring were her and her husband’s initials and their wedding date: H.L.B.-M.M.Y.-6-2-23. She and Henry had just celebrated their ninth anniversary. Now, like her husband, she had been beaten senseless and left for dead. Mamie came to at about 7 o’clock that morning. She stumbled north through the field to the dirt road, where she collapsed in the front yard of the Jackson house. James and Georgie Jackson, a black couple, lived in the 61

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tenant house owned by the Baxleys; he worked for Mamie’s father-in-law. James picked up Mamie in the front yard and carried her into the house, where Georgie tended her bleeding wounds. Groups of men were already searching for Mamie, and Jackson found one group and took them back to his home. Soon family members were there and drove Mamie and Henry to Fauquier County Hospital in Warrenton. The Baxleys were a farm family and apple growers. Henry was a protégé of former Gov. Harry F. Byrd and chairman of the county Democratic Party. Mamie was the granddaughter of one of the largest and wealthiest landowners in the region and the stepdaughter of the chairman of the county school board. Thompson, too, was from a longtime Virginia family. He was an Army veteran who’d served in France during World War I. Yet now he was traveling a path from which he could not return. He had sneaked into the Baxley home, assaulted Henry, and abducted, raped and beaten Mamie. He was doomed. Thompson fled north toward the mountains where he grew up. As he crashed through thistle and goldenrod, he must have known he was running for his life. Rape was a capital offense in Virginia in 1932, punishable by electrocution. Two months before Thompson assaulted the Baxleys, the state executed Sam Pannell, an 18-year-old black man from Halifax County, who was charged in January 1932 with the rape of a white woman. A Halifax County Circuit Court jury deliberated for eight minutes before sentencing him to death. Throughout the state, the rape of a white woman by a black man was punished harshly. From 1868 to 1932, Virginia executed 55 people for rape and attempted rape. All of them were black.

The search for Thompson was the largest in the county’s history, lasting for weeks and involving law enforcement and hundreds of volunteers. Day after day, groups of armed men, some organized by the sheriff and others self-assigned, combed the mountain paths. Some of these men invaded the homes of local black residents, accusing them of hiding Thompson in their cellars or behind cabin doors. Suspected sightings of the fugitive came from as far away as Culpeper, 30 miles to the south. Yet, despite these efforts, the searchers found nothing and eventually returned to their everyday lives. Then, nearly two months after the assault, a farmhand checking a fence line at the foot of Rattlesnake Mountain, a few miles from the Baxley house, found Thompson’s body hanging from an apple tree. Word spread and a crowd gathered. Despite the presence of a deputy sheriff, members of the mob set fire to the body, destroying everything but the skull. They also removed Thompson’s teeth as souvenirs. The county coroner ruled that night that Thompson had climbed into the tree, attached a rope to his neck and jumped out. A few days later a county grand jury confirmed his verdict. In the community and elsewhere, the two rulings seemed hasty, part of a clumsy cover-up. Soon local newspapers reported the details of what they said was a lynching, and national civil rights groups added Thompson’s name to their lists of lynch victims. But former Gov. Harry F. Byrd, among others, argued for suicide, and with no trial and no public explanation, the official verdict stood. And so began the Depression-era mystery of Shedrick Thompson. Thompson had worked for the Baxleys for more than 15 years. He, his wife, and his stepson lived next door to them. The two families were of separate worlds: one black, the other white; one poor, the other rich. They were neighbors, perhaps even neighborly. Yet Thompson had tried to kill them. Why? And what happened to him on Rattlesnake Mountain? The county coroner and a county grand jury ruled his death a suicide, the final act of a desperate fugitive. Because of this, some historians do not include his case among Virginia’s lynchings. To them, lynching in Virginia ended years earlier with passage of a state antilynching law. But the evidence points to another conclusion: murder. Thompson did not commit suicide on Rattlesnake Mountain. He was captured and killed by a posse of his neighbors, the victim of Virginia’s last lynching.

Henry Baxley, Sr. Maimie Baxley

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Jurgen Brat: Design Evolution Local artist Jurgen Brat, a member of the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts, is familiar to many in the region for his Bauhaus inspired two-dimensional works on paper and canvass. Working primarily throughout his life as an engineer, Brat was trained in precision, drawing technique, simplicity, functionality, and production efficiencies. His transition in retirement toward the Bauhaus aesthetic, which arose from an understanding of art’s intersection with society and technology, was a natural continuation of these skills. Brat says, “The only thing missing in my professional development was art-design.” Brat says his interest in Bauhaus design began with an appreciation for its simplified forms. He says, “Bauhaus is about getting the essence out of a figure instead of showing all of its details. The observer uses their imagination to figure out what it is.” Over the past year, Brat has used his two-dimensional Bauhaus designs as a catalyst for three-dimensional sculptures rendered in clay, a medium he has enjoyed working with for its versatility and the opportunities it offers for expansion of and extraction from his own work. Recent extractions that Brat first rendered on canvases and then re-imagined as sculpture include a design suggesting the upward movement of a dancer, one suggesting figures in conversation, another the sails of a boat, and work representing the connectivity of bridges. However, creating with these pieces has also revealed the limitation of clay. Brat explains, “Whenever you work with clay you have to be careful with the drying time. You have to slow it down so the whole figure is coming up in the same drying process and dries the same way. If you don’t do that, you get areas where a part of the piece will shrink too fast, while part remains wet. You create stress points and it starts cracking. This makes working with clay sculpting a bit tricky.” Additional limitations are dictated by the size of the kiln and by the medium itself. Clay is structurally weaker than metal, which is the next direction Brat would like to explore with Bauhaus. 63

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The End of the Cricket Song There’s something to be said about this kind of bliss. The stillness of dead ends, and how Dirt roads will always take me back to those summers When I was too young to walk to the end of the road; And I didn’t even know what it meant for an end to be dead.

Three by

Melanie Strouse

It was picking up sticks under oak trees; Fallen soldiers from a long winter. Catching dragonflies with bare hands or Swinging empty nets at butterflies Until fireflies burned and the first cricket chirped. It was the bumpy toads hiding in window wells and The bleeding hearts grasping onto delicate branches while I leapt over stump steppingstones through A field of daffodils and tulips until The first brave cricket crooned. It was the overgrown rosebushes standing guard, Keeping watch over my heart As delicate as he sparrows splashing in the bird bath While I sipped on sweet honeysuckle nectar Until my crickets sang my summer lullaby. It was the owls, cooing longingly at night, The bullfrogs serenading near the pond; The orchestra on a moonlit Earth. It’s in the heat of this cicada summer when I learned the significance of the cricket chirp. It was the mourning doves bringing daybreak, As they wept the death of darkness. It was wearing daisy chain crowns, And painting my lips with wild strawberries. It was learning to count the cricket chirps. It was not noticing the mums in bloom, Or how the last petal from the last daisy Had fallen to the earth and that All the fireflies had all burnt out, but I knew to listen for that last cricket chirp. There’s something about the slow waning of sounds, The way summer echoes down dirt roads. How winter swallows the lullaby one note at a time. It’s in this silent world that I finally learned How an end could be dead.


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Of Endless Possibilities in an Unopened Eye On paint-smeared floors, a pure white canvas lay; Surrounded by four walls of every hue. Kaleidoscope over a sea of grey— An open space the artisans fall through. Atop the desk, a sheet of paper dreams Of all the words of which she could contain; The steel-grey curves, they twist and turn like streams. This barren land, where poets pen refrain. Beyond the light a roll of film resides. Waits for the day when which she will emerge To recreate the world in new confines, Of traveled trails where wanderers diverge. Imagine if we filled the world with art, An empty canvas, film, or a fresh start.

On the Value of Small Change For the lucky ones held between fingers, Attached to the hands of a smiling face, Yet to learn of a dollar’s worth, A pretty penny, a key to the world. The unlucky ones who landed face-down, Wait day after day to hear that sweet sound— And all day long I’ll have good luck, A serenade from dusk ‘til dawn. For the lucky ones have met their maker, Said farewell, did not look back: Cast-off common cents masquerade As a reflection of dreams come true. The unlucky ones, may they rest in peace, Lost without ever a dream received. For careless hands dropping common cents Are one cent short of common sense.

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Sarah Lapp at the

Crossroads of Color and Creativity Sarah Lapp did not set out to pursue a career in art. She enjoyed it, but her interest initially lay in nutrition with a focus on preventative disease research. When she could not find an accredited program near Fredericksburg after settling here following a series of moves, she decided to explore her interest in art at the University of Mary Washington. It was here that she says that she learned the parameters of visual language and started to understand why certain things made sense, while other things did not. She has been painting seriously for about seven years, making a living by creating and selling largescale abstract works from her studio at LibertyTown Arts Workshop. Lapp is known for her expansive works, with standard size measuring 48” x 48”. She says, “ It’s the size that works best for what I do. I find that when I work smaller I try to fit so much in that it obscures it. I also work strictly with a palette knife which doesn’t lend itself to small scale work.” Lapp says she takes her inspiration from abstract expressionism, but she has a hard time labeling her style. She says, “You could call it abstract and mixed media work, because there’s definitely different bodies in the work. There’s a body of work that’s strictly abstract oil paintings, and then there’s a body of work that has abstracted imagery worked in.” While she started with representational classes and painting, Lapp thinks she really came into her own with abstract oil painting, and specifically as a colorist. She says, “I’m an intuitive painter, which means I don’t have a direct plan for what the work is going to be. That differentiates between the two bodies of work. With the abstract oil pieces, they’re very intuitive in that I start by mixing a color; I put it on the canvass. I mix another color; I put it on the canvass. It’s very much looking at how the relationship forms as the paint is put on the canvass, so there’s lot’s of putting things on, pulling things off, additive and subtractive work that I do. Then it’s not that I’m thinking about something specific as I’m working on a piece, but I have this stream of thoughts going through my head. There’s a point that I get to with each piece where I can think, ah, this is what it’s about. There’s a point where I can complete the piece and name it something that’s vague, but referenced.” With her mixed media, Lapp says she has a departure point, a frame of reference from some sort of imagery. She has mixed media pieces that she has thought about for years before creating them. She finds that revealing when it happens and it directs the mood of the piece upon which she is working. When she describes her process of painting, Lapp sounds as if she is describing narrative writing. Each piece evolves around tone and mood, color and character. She agrees with the analogy, saying, “I actually had a show a few years back that I titled Stories; there’s very much a story that goes with each piece. It’s a story that I know before I start creating the piece, but I don’t necessarily know which story is going to come out when I’m not working in mixed media. That’s part of the enjoyment.” Lapp says she came to mixed media three years ago when she was having a hard time reaching the part of her brain that would work strictly abstractly or intuitively. She found herself questioning her judgment about the pieces too much, instead of just letting it evolve. She says, “I started working from vintage family photographs of my grandmother and grandfather, and that gave me the departure point, so I knew what the piece was about and I could manipulate it from there.” 67

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Landscape of Driving Dreams “In a previous part of my life, every few years I would move my children and all of the material parts of our lives up and down or back and forth across the country. Leading up to a move, I would dream about how I would puzzle the things we would schlep with us into the moving truck. Then as I had situated our things to be taken with I would dream of the drive. I'd dream about the parts of America where it looked like you were keeping up with the sunset because it lasted so long on the horizon, and about getting stuck with no place to sleep just past the part where the drive finally got dark. This piece, Landscape of Driving Dreams I created after the last time I would bring my children back across the country to start a new part of our lives.� ~ Sarah Lapp

Sarah Lapp


Numbers Station “I've been intrigued by numbers stations for years. The mystery behind these short wave stations that sent coded messages during the cold war and still exist but in a smaller capacity haunts me. Additionally I am intrigued by how we communicate in both interpersonal relationships and as a society in variations of cryptic manners. Inside jokes, memories, pop culture and generational differences are a few things that drive this way of coded communication in its different forms. I see an intimacy in this way of interpersonal communication that on a surface level may read as impersonal.� ~ Sarah Lapp


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When she creates her mixed media pieces, Lapp says the process requires many layers. She layers under and leaves a grid. She paints under the images, but also over top of them to give them what she describes as a moody, haunting memory-like quality. She says, “I like to be able to see the hand and movement of the body in a piece of work. I also like introducing these figures into this kind of abstracted color landscape. It has a sense of timelessness for me.” Lapp uses a very primary palette, mostly reds and blues. She says she only uses five tubes of paint on each piece, mixing everything so there’ll be a couple of different blues and a yellow and a red. As a colorist (an artist who relies on the way colors play off of one another to create mood) she finds that limiting her palette is a way to keep everything concise and tight. She says it’s almost a mathematical breakdown of color, focusing on which colors are covering the surface and to what degree. Lapp’s understanding of color theory is, in her words, primarily intuitive. As with writing, Lapp says there is an editing process that occurs while she is painting. She describes it as hap-

pening during the first couple of passes over the canvass for her, “because you’re looking at the relationships and you don’t want something unnecessary there acting as a distraction. It has a lot to do with the way your eye flows around the canvass. There’s definitely a point toward the end where you might do something just a little too much, and then you have to go all the way back to rework the piece so the visual context makes sense.” Lapp doesn’t mind telling her audience what her pieces represent to her. While she knows her audience will bring their own experiences to them, she sees no harm in giving them a reference point through a title or caption. She says, “They say that art is a living thing and that’s what makes it such a great podium to connect with people in the first place. I think it’s interesting to talk about what pieces mean, and I’m not offended when people don’t see my meaning in one of my pieces. I don’t ever want people to think there’s something they need to “get.” I feel that if you respond to a piece, that’s fantastic; if you don’t, then there’s nothing wrong with that.

Sarah Lapp


Mother’s Day “In this piece I used an image I had taken from a few years back to create a tension between what is real as far as recognizable imagery, and what breaks down or dissolves into a clearly fabricated landscape. The handling of the image in this way is as much a commentary of the actual picture plain that is composed of just paint that drips and blends as it is about the subject matter, and the expectations or memories we hold regarding certain red letter days in our lives.” ~ Sarah Lapp


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All This Could be Yours “I came to a point where I questioned why I let myself be a steward for many of the things that I had carried with me most of my adult life. Some of the things tucked in boxes or drawers had their own integrity, and some I kept just because I always had. The things that no longer served any purpose became interesting to me for their color, texture, or text weight and nothing more. "All This Could Be Yours" is one piece that I used the things that I had carried for so long in a manner that the materials or references held no importance beyond holding a place in a visual conversation in a composition on campus. I find a freshness to this piece, and the others in its series.� ~ Sarah Lapp

Sarah Lapp




Noticing that there is only a small nugget of seed studded suet left in the feeder, the downy woodpecker taps on my window. A real comedian that one.


Ellen Sander béisbol behind third base my mind wanders to Ferlinghetti reading Pound at a Giants game, wanting a home run torn through the first Canto but, I can see the runner’s panty line more prominent after he slid into second, britches coated with diamond dirt lusty cheers dry his sweat soaked red mud streaked cheekbone the yutz I'm with says: “There’s going to be a home run I can feel it this inning or the next one, I can’t remember which”


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VendĂ´me i. that morning he summoned Provence roses with the poached quail eggs for breakfast leathered wood and a bracelet of stones his hands, her gaze coiled black hairs on the Saturn knuckle as he crimped his spine to deeper go ii. after, they wrote a sentence each by turn in a column, by hand and called it a ballad a wind ow open, city musk iii. every afternoon she wakes re membering and crumples paper as she prays open arms legs, names

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Crèche By Sarah Henry

1. The cradle at home stood beside a heater. I remember being wrapped in a hot blanket, my cheek pressed against a plastic sheet. I heard my mother’s voice as a dog hears, a sound without language.

2. The big girl’s crib came next, and a mobile of bright plastic birds. Pointing to a remarkable figure, my mother said, “Bird.” And then I was wiser than a dog.

4. My mother health is declining. She sits up in her hospital bed and mentions the wing where I was born. Then she says, “The neighbors will come to the church and the new minister will speak. It will be a lovely funeral. We’ll find someone to cater at the house.” I’m sitting down. I can’t believe she is planning her own funeral. My father stirs in his chair. The whole room seems to slide around.


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3. If this were Sweden on the morning of Saint Lucia’s Day, I would serve my parents pastries in bed. The tray would be shining and the cakes would be sweet.

5. Christmas is coming. My mother is dying at home. I walk to the town square. A live nativity scene has been installed in front of the church. Everyone admires it. There’s a sheep and a donkey with Mary and Joseph. Jesus is just a doll, on account of the cold. Christmas wreaths hang from the streetlights and bows adorn the entrance to the bank. Everyone likes the decorations. There could be a bit of snow tonight. But even so, things will only get worse.

John Williams

HaiSIX John Williams, a fresh face on the area’s art and design scene, is a local entrepreneur who grew up in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County. He has set his eye for detail on clothing design and music production with HaiSix Inc. Designs, which he describes as an inclusive brand inspired by loyalty to his family. Williams says, “I started thinking about my family and how close we were before my dad passed. My goal was to get my family involved in helping me choose this design as a way to come together.” Williams explains that HaiSix represents his family, Haigler, and the five stars his siblings and parents. Williams says the lion is his grandmother, “because she’s the head of everything. That’s where the crown comes from, her leadership.” While the design is personal to him, Williams says the spirit of it reaches beyond his own family. “It can represent unity for anybody, because in my family we have friends who are no relation to us whom we end up calling family, you know what I mean? It can be about making strong connections with people too.” Williams developed his first concept for HaiSix with assistance from local tattoo artist Ricky Butler, who says that he enjoyed helping draw an image that held special meaning for Williams. The two worked on a few variations of the design before perfecting it for the first run of HaiSix merchandise. Since last September, Williams has been using HaiSix as a recognizable logo for his clothing line, production company and music. He has moved toward designing all elements of the brand himself, and he says HaiSix’s reach has rippled throughout the community and beyond Virginia as a result of its unifying message, reflection of personal aesthetic, and creative appeal. Currently, Williams is working on new styles and designs using the HaiSix logo, and he is excited to launch a new line for spring and summer. He invites you to join the HaiSix tribe under a banner born of local heart and soul that serves as a constant reminder of the strength and resilience of family. Follow him on Facebook @HaiSixInc.

Photo by A.E. Bayne at Art Mart

Slack In My Bow

Two by

Jenna Veazey

To the suits on bikes I wanted to shout From inside my latched front door: Jesus and I, we have an understanding. We dabbled in each other’s lives for a while. I still think of him often And I know he’ll always love me. But he pretty much loves everyone. That expansive heart of his, his greatest flaw. Who does that? Anyway, I’ve moved on. Sat at the Seder table on my fourth glass waiting for Elijah to show. Flirted shamelessly with Buddha In my yoga pants. But the universe is just so damn big. At night I feel the crushing weight of it. The smallness in a king sized bed. So maybe I squeeze my eyes tight And hurl prayers star-wards just in case. For it’s not so much the course of my arrow But the slack in my bow.

Passing Down The stranger-stopping blue of your eyes. The slight gap between your teeth. How your shoulders tip inwards. A permanent shrug. These are the treasures handed down to you. Coded. For better or worse. I worry about the worse. That time I scratched Help Me into my desk during Trigonometry. The devotion to sleeping. That I wasn’t the first to long for Darkness. Is this the legacy I’m handing down? Or is there something more than Your aversion to cilantro, Your fear of heights. Maybe that kiss on the band-aid Really worked.


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Momma Told Me There’d Be Days Like This Lynette L. Reed Fiber

Light, Blue and Orange Saeed Ordoubadi Photography

I cannot write this poem: I have drafted it endlessly— brainstormed—outlined—revised, but it still reads like verse generated by a computer, not a great elegy like “Lycidas” or “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed” or “Kaddish.”

Fishing in the Dark: Elegy for Brian By Susan E. Gunter

Perhaps it’s a question of point of view, the choice of which defines every creative act: it’s the angle that counts, the perspective, the purchase. My point of view doesn’t work in this case, though I am that intelligent ficelle that Henry James prized. While my subject is lofty enough for an epic, I am too far from the major actors, the blood-stained circus floor. I might try to form my lines as Brian’s mother, divorced, struggling to compose a new life, carrying three pieces of human baggage from a torpedoed marriage, working long hours at dull jobs, carrying forever a sense of guilt at what was never realized: waking one cold dawn on Mother’s Day to hear news of a body fished from a distant lake in Austin. Now I weave the fabric of my monochrome days about an urn of ashes: listening to the stream fast with melted snow beat against the rocks; gazing from my raw stucco home at the cherry planted by boys from another anonymous neighborhood where Brian and his dog Daisy once lived; turning over his varsity letter jacket— his poems—his paintings— but not a new leaf, never that, because while the cherry has unfolded soft pink blooms, my womb remains a weeping sore.


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Or I could be Brian’s father. It’s an androgynous age, I’ve been told: staring at the blank walls of an office 2,000 miles away; burnishing events of the last dark days like the gemstones I polish; wondering what might have happened if I had told Brian to just come home —no questions, no strings attached, no psychiatric hospitals; or whether holding my marriage together might have meant my son’s life; or if I ever understood him at all, when I goaded him to play football, get a degree, get a life—ignoring his poem about pennies for the homeless, his hard running on mountain paths, his loud acoustic music. I am frozen at the edge of time like a black and white negative. But how could either parent write this poem? How could they choose words without mouthing their failures to save him again and again, like the first and third lines in a villanelle? (Brian was the second line in the stanza, the middle term in an unsolved syllogism.) I think I am guiltless, so perhaps it should be me, after all: a long-‐‐ago neighbor, mother of sons who drifted away into their own lives. I could fashion his story into measured lines, could frame each stanza‐‐ but I don’t know what any of this means, sitting by my warm stone wall in the waning September sun and moving the expensive pen I bought in Italy across my one hundred percent cotton rag paper. Water of life and death, water of sorrow, baptism of pain. Mountain of bird and rock, lake of peace.

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Hidden Tracks

Michael Hower Photography


Cindee Snyder Re Photography

Threadbare Lately, as if on loop, my thoughts keep pulling me back to the first grade; back to wide eyes in an oversized room; back to when my teacher gathered our class around a crayon-smudged carpet and told us a story about a little boy and his magic thread. This thread, as I recall, represented the very fabric of life, and the boy, with a single tug, could edit out the parts he pleased. So he used it to skip past his rough patches. He pulled and polished his life until it shone, pure as an emptied abalone shell. And I remember how it wasn’t the story’s magic thread that frayed my young credulity, but the ending – the part where the boy looked back on his short and porous life and actually mourned his missed misery. That’s what I didn’t get. It wasn’t until years later, not until I’d learned to thread whiskey though my own brain, inch by ounce until a jet-black patchwork covered my memories; not until I’d pulled away at all the bad parts until only space remained, that I learned how loss could long for sadness.

Two by

Allison Rhodes

The Swimmer Once again, summer’s cuff has folded into a fall sweater: tightly-knitted and tinged red-yellow, wrinkled like the first maple leaves that lie strewn where bank meets beach. It’s the season when silhouettes speckle the orange afterglow, when geese flock to a faraway warmth, and butterflies slink from their summer flutters. Yet here he remains, beachside routine unmoved by change. As though kept from the season, he slips off to sea. And perhaps this is no more than habit, a refusal to change with the times. Perhaps he glides through this as with life, waves breaking over the sound in a murmur of unasked questions. But I’d like to think that there is more: that he bobs and floats in willful defiance; that ankles, knees, and shoulders sink under with significance. That resistance coats each seaward stroke, even as summer’s last wave unravels.

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Two by

Charles Kell

Secret Fastener Kept forested behind torch smoke, wearing a rest necklace joined from fashion vaults. The name given carved into a cave wall. Red looping arc of letter blanched with liquid holder. Leg is ringed through a different shackle. Blunt edges groom true speechlessness. Under a tuft skirt his flower seethes, very tall ocean the chain can’t yet reach. He still cranes his ankle in the sand until the big toe is flecked wet.

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Bedside Vigil They both move in and out of his room, choosing in silence the next to enter. Mother sits on the couch smoking one cigarette after another. He walks listening to shoes at 3 a.m. echo over the wooden floor. Father sat every day in the backyard last summer,

before closing them. Light from the lamp moved shadow wings over the wall.

feeding the birds, shirt off, skin growing darker as August slipped away.

Moments pass before he told his mother, who sat there, saying over and over “let’s

A last August. Four days before his 74th birthday, he won’t make it.

just wait a little while not doing anything.” The last time the boy left, last summer,

The last time the boy walked in he was gone. Standing there, feeling the clammy

backing from the driveway, he saw his father’s face watching from the corner

skin from his left arm slowly grow cold. Took his locked-tight jaw

bedroom curtain. At that moment he thought of his father driving quickly

between forefinger and thumb. Looked into his grey-green eyes one last time

to the hospital to see him at eight years old, trapped for three days, having polyps removed from his nose. How his father never sat down, but paced the floor in dirty work clothes, there was mother, almost quiet in her chair. The boy laid in bed thinking, silent, waiting, his green-grey eyes fixed to a moving design in the white ceiling.

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A Critical Study of Certain Unusual Phenomena Lynette L. Reed Fiber

Surviving the Pause Trapped in a purgatory of t u n a casseroles and bitter coffee that sits untouched on mismatched china, a culinary orbit at your bedside. We talk spices and bake times to d i s t r a c t our ears from the sound of your labored breathing. You lay tangled in sheets and wires, feebly fighting to linger even now. I reach for a mug to replace the limpness of your hands. The coffee is cold.

~ Gabby Gilliam


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The Specialist:

Beth Spragins with Celtic Bardic Poetry While much of today’s poetry follows a more free-flowing form, poetic structure is still a delight to read, especially when executed with a deft knowledge of language, meter and rhyme. Beth Spragins is one such poet who, after many years working as a technical editor, has developed a love of writing Celtic Bardic poetry.

Spragins explains the draw to structured poetry: “I’ve always liked puzzles, and I’ve always loved languages. I became very interested in Celtic music about ten years ago, and I would primarily listen to English instrumental music. Then I heard a Welsh performer singing in Welsh to the harp. It was mesmerizing. Being curious, I sought a way to better understand her song. Bless the Internet, I began teaching myself Welsh via an online course and became more and more interested in Welsh history. If you grow up in the United States, you know very little about the components of the United Kingdom. For me, the United Kingdom was England and I didn’t know anything about the other aspects. I became very interested in Wales and other Gaelic cultures, and that led me to another online course in Bardic verse. It was so engrossing. When you get the pieces to fit, it’s an exhilaration unlike anything else.” There are two main divisions of Celtic verse: Welsh and Gaelic. Spragins has dabbled in the Gaelic forms, but her primary effort has been in the Welsh. Of the 24 forms in the Welsh tradition, she has focused on two: the rhupunt and clogyrnach. Spragins elaborates, “They’re very structured forms. The rhupunt has 3, 4, or 5 line stanzas, and each line is four syllables long. In a rhupunt with four-line stanzas, the first three lines have a shared rhyme. The fourth line maintains a rhyme throughout the entire poem. The clogyrnach has a 32 syllable stanza, and it has two lines of 8 syllables, which rhyme, followed by two lines of 5 syllables, which rhyme, and then the last two lines have the BA rhyme, and they each have three syllables. It’s very different from most English poetry.”


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While these forms may be easier to write in Welsh, Spragins says that there are a number of poets who write strictly in English. She has made the study of Welsh a personal goal and has pursued a better understanding of the language through online courses. Though she writes in English, Spragins says that English does have its drawbacks. “English is one of the most difficult languages in which to work with rhyme. The predominance of vowels in other languages makes it much easier. Our English structure does not lend itself to rhyme as much as other languages.” The Celtic Bardic form forms lend themselves to narratives about historical events, including those here in Fredericksburg. Spragins likens the approach to storytelling rather than generating a snapshot of imagery or emotion as many modern poems do. She says, “Lyrical aspects and musical elements are critical, but it’s more about narrating an event. Given the history of Fredericksburg, bardic forms allow me to tell those stories in a new way. Every time I walk down the street there’s a new story.” Spragins says she has used the forms to write poetry about places that strike her in a particular way. She recently traveled to the Southwest and used bardic verse to share her experience of being in an entirely unfamiliar place. “The difference in the landscape was quite striking. The landscape itself can become a story. The way you perceive it is completely different from the way that people who grew up with it will perceive it.” Here, Spragins shares two poems written in the clogyrnach form with an eye toward Fredericksburg.

Restitution A lone horse plods down William Street, The carriage filled but for one seat. Steel shoes ring on stone; Worn springs creak and groan. Insects drone In June’s heat. No others wander Market Square. The driver whistles to the mare. The coach draws near; he Reins in; one hand free Motions me To the stair. I mount the carriage in a dream And join the passengers, who seem To be unaware Of my presence there— Bleak eyes stare At moon’s beam.

* In May 1863 the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia defeated the Union Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville, Virginia. This decisive victory proved costly for the South in that it claimed the life of Lt. General Stonewall Jackson. In the darkness of May 2, Jackson’s men fired on him by mistake. The wounds inflicted cost him an arm, and eight days later he succumbed to complications. ** On December 11-15, 1862, Union forces battled Confederate troops for control of Fredericksburg. Combatants numbering just under 200,000 clashed in the streets of this riverside town and the surrounding areas. The Union army was unable to dislodge Confederate soldiers entrenched on Marye’s Heights and withdrew after sustaining heavy losses.

The silence grows, as does the chill. Then night songs of a whippoorwill Disable the spell. The travelers tell What befell And falls still. A brother died at Chancellorsville. * Flames razed the homes atop the hill. Below Marye’s Height ** Men moaned through the night, Maimed despite Surgeon’s skill. Enraged, I roar that one must pay. “Who bears the blame, the Blue or Gray?” But the riders glare And whisper, “Beware! Cannons flare; Soldiers slay.” We reach the graveyard; the horse slows. St. George’s stained glass window glows. Thick fog swirls around. They pass without sound. On the ground Lies a rose.

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Stones on Sunken Road * Moss grows on stones of Sunken Road Where soldiers and their sweethearts strode Before the war came And cannons took aim, Dispensed flame, And blood flowed. Long gone the block and auctioneer— No panicked horses scream in fear. No cannonballs fly Toward church spires on high. The dead lie In peace here.

* On December 13, 1862, a Union force of 30,000 troops battled Confederate soldiers entrenched behind the stone wall that bordered the “Sunken Road” of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The conflict raged for seven hours, and the Union lost approximately 1000 men hourly.

Now couples stroll without a care Down William Street to Market Square Where lawn chairs surround Musicians who pound Rhythmic sound In night air. But drums can summon hatred still, And warm blood sweep from stones their chill. Young men Blue and Gray Bleed red and decay In cold clay When they kill.

Further Resources for Classical Forms thepoetsgarret.com/celtic1.html classicalpoets.org thepoetsgarret.com/celtic2.html anitra.net/kalliope/welsh.html poetscollective.org/poetryforms/welsh-forms/ quarterdayreview.com poetryporch.com/scroll.html thelyricmagazine.com


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Karen RIchards Mixed Media

Three by

Frank Fratoe

Dining Outdoors in Falmouth The terrace of the restaurant has green tables and chairs, red/white/blue flags say OPEN mounted on pillars in front; I look up from the menu to see swallows angling a dual path until they intersect in the sky. Directly across the street is a brick building federal-style, once Lightner’s Grocery Store, whose owner made the top floor into a skating rink for exercise and to give her friends some fun; that’s what my server claims. This might be a story voiced by locals for the tourist trade, yet I consent to wonder aloud what became of store and rink or why that hub is empty now; the server jots down my order but won’t tell, birds dart away.


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Soda Fountain Thirst and hunger impeded my Saturday walk, so I stopped by Goolrick’s “Modern” Drugstore to drink coffee and eat a BLT on rye-toast at the oldest soda fountain in the U.S., that’s what I overheard the waitress say to a father whose son wanted a cherry coke. They had come earlier from out of town to see kids race in the local Soap Box Derby, one block north and several blocks west, got tired and wandered downtown to Goolrick’s before they sat on stools at the counter where the waitress kindly took their order. She said she liked cherry cokes a lot, too, and had fun making them for her customers, mixing cherry syrup and shave-ice in a cup and served each almost as works of art while collecting glassware to wash in a tub.

Sunday after a Snowstorm Ten inches were forecast, we only got five, just enough to give us a winter benediction by rows of hollies and firs exalting white, with filigree on the tall venerable pines. Comforters drape over roofs of every house, until the afternoon sun pulls them away to reveal neighbors calm within shelter, who kept safe last night below the storm. A few clouds overhead then thaw into slush, as we mark footprints wet under our boots of predecessors who trod this road before, and have gone ahead to somewhere unknown.

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Telling Their Stories Outside silver spears of rain slash the street, inside dust hovers in heavy air

Three by

Sally Zakariya

Fit for nothing today but reading, if even that, I half-close my book and drowse to the murmur of the radio downstairs This morning a deer graced our garden, delicate legs tucked decorously under her, Diana’s doe, numinous among the hostas Her eyes held ours when we went out to watch, the white flags of her ears barely twitching Then, rising fluid and turning aside, she picked her graceful way through the summer grass Fox, raccoon, rabbit, squirrel, birds of all feathers, they harbor here in the suburbs with us, waiting to tell their stories if only we could read them as I read, or try to read, my book

High School Historical We invented nerds back then, guys with 10-inch slide rules swinging on their belts, with hornrimmed glasses and brush cuts I’m talking history here, back before cell phones and laptops, before even cheap calculators The jocks were different types – letter jackets, V-neck sweaters, popular and out of reach for girls like me, plain girls, straight-A girls Lines were drawn – nerd, jock, everybody else and oh yes a few enticing bad boys with their ducktail haircuts and their swagger They were also out of reach, so when nerd Norman asked me to the dance, I had to think No chance of Dallas with his motorcycle and cool sweep of hair, no chance, too bad And nerdish Norman blew it – asked two girls to the dance and had to take us both Wallflower, I looked around for Dallas but he was outside chugging beer When we left he raised a can to me, smirking – or just maybe smiling his wicked bad boy smile


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Chicken Dreams of Soup and Love I tie the Guatemalan apron striped blood red set out the cork-backed bamboo board the bowls for bones and meat pick up the chef’s knife, not axe-broad but sharp enough I have a quiet conversation with the bird who gave its life but it doesn’t yield up meekly when I pick the bones—tendons, sinews, gristle clutching flesh as if to make a desperate last stab at staying whole Chicken pecks, preens, plumps his feathers dreams of soaring flight transcendence dreams above the farmyard vegetable patch carrots & celery to grace his soup dreams above the ripening wheat flour for dumplings noodles bread I pile up shreds and shards of chicken light and dark harvest jellied treasure from the bottom of the pan chicken jelly—glossy, silky, dark, rich Chicken loves the barnyard dirt he scratches in his dirt his earth his own loves his clever beak & feet so cunningly designed for chickenhood loves the farm the right & fitting place for love loves the graceful oval of the egg its perfect possibility of life I ate fried eggs this morning, chicken salad sandwiches at lunch, and now I use the bones for stock good honest stock for soup chicken’s final gift

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


Local potter Dan Finnegan opened LibertyTown Arts Workshop in Fredericksburg thirteen years ago in January of 2003. Thirteen years! Considering the impact that LibertyTown has had in promoting the arts in Fredericksburg, that number may be unbelievable to many who have come rely on it for a relationship with the arts; however, new and younger residents may not remember a time when LibertyTown was not a fixture in the ‘Burg. Whether for classes, camps, events, or First Friday socializing, LibertyTown has become a constant for art patrons and participants alike. One of the gallery’s most endearing aspects is its open door policy, which has allowed the public to build relationships with their favorite artists. Three years ago, Dolores (D.D.) and Kenneth Lecky purchased the gallery. The couple are artists in their own rights, with Kenneth exploring visual art through photography, and D.D. concentrating on pottery that blends traditional techniques with modern twists. LibertyTown flourishes through their continued efforts to realize Finnegan’s vision, while meeting the ever changing interests and tastes of modern consumers. Here, D.D. and Kenneth discuss their successful operation of a gallery of LibertyTown’s size, where they see their roles as cultivators and curators of creativity. They also share what the future may hold for artists and patrons of the gallery.


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So, you have been co-owners of LibertyTown for the past three years. Dan (Finnegan) was ready for a change after ten years? I know he is still involved in the gallery as an artist. How did he pass it on to you? D.D.: I think he was ready around year 8-ish, but he wanted to find the right person, because he had a lot of people who offered to purchase it, as have we, but it’s one of those things that you don’t necessarily want to sell to just anybody - not that we’re interested in selling it. He wanted to find someone who would actually move it forward. Kenneth: Yes, someone who would share his vision and who would have the energy to take it forward. He wanted to see it through. We always say we don’t think we could have started LibertyTown. Just the force that he exerted to get it off the ground was tremendous. D.D.: I think there are two different kinds of business owners. There are those who enjoy starting businesses and those who enjoy running them. Dan loved starting the business, but he was ready to pull himself away. That’s the natural entrepreneurial spirit. Whereas, Kenneth and I are less entrepreneurial and more nerdy spreadsheet business owner types.

One of the first changes we made was to expand our hours. We’re now open 10-8 Monday through Saturday and 10-6 on Sundays. Kenneth: We’ve also become the home for two great local events: Tell’s monthly storytelling event and the Fredericksburg Songwriters Showcase. We love being able to use our unique space for all sorts of art. You also had a busy summer with your new summer camp offerings. D.D.: Yes! This year, our big headline item was the summer camps. We’d had the idea since we took over, but it wasn’t until this year that we were able to coordinate seven hours of classes each day to make it easier on parents who were working all day and keep kids interested at the same time. It went really well. We sold out this year and saw 75 or 80 kids through the summer. The best part was actually seeing kids enjoy the class offerings that we came up with, which was no guarantee. We kind of know what teenagers like, but I did some vague market research just by asking a lot of teenagers. They’ll tell you. For instance, we started asking about some basic weaving projects we could offer, and the answer I kept getting was neck pouches. They carry the neck pouches with their cell phones and

And you were looking for something that was already established when you bought LibertyTown? D.D.: We weren’t really looking to purchase a business at all, but the opportunity to keep LibertyTown going was too important to pass up. Dan created a solid business, and we were excited to see opportunities to grow it and add our mark. What are some of the changes you’ve made? D.D.: Our biggest changes have probably been in our classes. In our pottery school, we added hand-building and daytime wheel-throwing classes for adults, and workshops for kids after school and on weekends. We found a great glass artist in Gayla Lee and started a new glass school. That’s been such an exciting addition to our catalog. We’ve also brought in more studio artists who teach different skills and media in their studios.

LibertyTown Arts Workshop


LibertyTown Artists Artists who also teach classes are in blue. libertytownarts.com

Amy Kovats Ana Brugos Art Time for Kids (by Claire Ellinger) Barbara Byrd Beth Sperlazza Betsy Curtiss Betsy Glassie Bill Harris Bill Schran Bob Worthy Carol Phifer Christina Bendo Christine Long Christy Dehaven Chuck Fromer Crystal Rodrigue D.D. Lecky Dan Finnegan Ed King Elizabeth Freeman Elizabeth Seaver Fredericksburg All Ages Gayla Lee Hsi-Mei Yates

Jan Finn-Duffy Joan Limbrick Kathleen Walsh Kenneth Lecky Kerry McAleer-Keeler Kevin Rodrigue Larry Southworth Laura Craig Lawton Clites Lisa Beth Lyndsey Witt Lynette Reed Lynne Mulhern Mary Magneson Michael Dean Misha Sanborn Neal Reed Nicole Hamilton Nita Adams Pam McLeod Paula Raudenbush Rance Rupp Rob Landeck Royce Drake Ruth Ann Loving

Sandi Martina Sarah Lapp Tex Forrest Tiffany Yates Tim Eggers Toy Fowler Wendy Atwell-Vasey North Windsor Artists Anita Holle Carrol Morgan Dee McClesky Elsie Hagenlocker Hellen Butler Jane Woodworth Robyn Ryan Sharon D. Ross Fredericksburg Spinners & Weavers Guild Florence Ridderhof Fran Slaterbeck Judy Klehm Linda George Rita Brown

IDs. I never would have guessed in a million years that kids would want something like this, but it was search after search online and then asking my nephews. They said that’s a great idea. It’s just figuring out those little things. That’s what brings us a lot of pleasure in the business. As an educator, I know that there are even fewer hours of the school day devoted to the arts in today’s climate of education. Unless they have a class, I think most of the art exposure will depend on the kind of funds a school has. Kenneth: I think we’re filling a gap in the arts within standard education. We’ve heard from the parents that the kids have sort of maxed out what they can learn in school, but they’ve got a real talent for drawing and clay. We’re proud that they can further their education at LibertyTown. D.D.: Next year, we’re talking about expanding our camps even more and adding some other mediums. We’re thinking of adding in a day or two at the The Workshop, and we want to bring in our glass artist, maybe do some photography classes, hopefully get them out of the gallery and expand their minds even more. Kenneth: Teaching has always been important at LibertyTown, long before we came along, not just walking someone through making a painting, but really teaching them how to paint. It can be a challenge for younger kids, but by carefully choosing teachers who are good at working with kids, we know they will impart their experience and knowledge to them and make it fun. D.D.: In the end, if nothing else, it’s about exposure to the different mediums and learning an appreciation for the effort it takes to create. Students will always have that thought in the backs of their heads. If they see a handmade scarf, they’ll know how much work went into it and understand that it’s a thing of value. It’s beneficial to the entire art community for children to have art education in schools. Galleries here recognize that. PONSHOP, FCCA, and Fredericksburg’s Parks and Recreation always has great classes.

So, the summer camps were a great success. What are some other projects you have coming up at the gallery? D.D.: We‘re always working to expand class offerings across the board. We’ve dedicated a new classroom space in the front of the gallery so that we can hold more classes in the daytime and evening hours. This fall, we started offering weekend drop-in classes to give visitors a quick and inexpensive introduction to glass, clay, or anything else we teach. We’ll also have artists demonstrating their style of working, like painting a still life or throwing a bowl, to introduce visitors to the skill that goes into the work in our gallery. It will be a much more openly engaged environment on a consistent basis. Kenneth: This kind of thing helps to develop those relationships between patrons and artists, because part of what we’re here to do is to get people in front of our artists and their work. I have to say, it is one of the things that people have said they like about LibertyTown, as opposed to somewhere like the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, that you allow patrons to walk through and the spaces remain open. D.D.: Absolutely. Dan felt the same way when he founded the place, and we think keeping the studios open and accessible is part of our DNA. We are a gallery for the people. Let’s talk expansion. I know I’ve heard you talking about possible spaces being opened up. D.D.: If Ken had his way, we’d be building a fourth and fifth floor. Kenneth: (laughing) Yeah, there are structural concerns with that. The only underutilized space we have is our courtyard. We’re still in the middle of building our recycled bottle brick wall, and we’ve built a stage. We’ve had a couple of performances on the stage, and we held a few summer camp classes out there this year. We should have our wall complete this Spring, and we’ve got lots of ideas for classes and events in that space. D.D.: We’ve talked about having a lunchtime concert series where musicians could set up and locals could

LibertyTown Arts Workshop


bring a brown bag lunch, pay a couple of bucks, and have a great lunch hour. Once we finish our work in the courtyard, we’ll be out there all the time. If an artist is interested in renting space at LibertyTown, what is the process? Kenneth: We have an application. It’s available online and in person in the gallery. People can always call or email us and we will be happy to get them a copy. D.D.: It asks people to describe how they’ll use the space, whether they’ll create in the space or teach classes, or if they just want to use it to display work, and also very importantly, how they work? These are important things to consider because a lot of the spaces require roommates and you don’t want to stick a full-volume German death metal loving still life painter with a splatter painter who listens to Mozart at a whisper. You’re just going to have instantaneous conflict. Kenneth: Yeah, it really depends what people need from the space. All the spaces are different prices depending on where they are and how big they are. They’re all unique spaces. We don’t usually have space available, but we love to know who’s interested in becoming part of the LibertyTown family so that we can fit the right artist into the right space when it comes along. And the length of the lease? D.D.: It’s generally a year-long lease, though we have done shorter terms for people from time to time. We know that situations change, and we want this to work for everyone. You have some artists who rent only wall space, correct? D.D.: Yes! Wall space is our most affordable option and because of that, it’s also in the highest demand. We currently don’t have any space available on walls, but we always take names for those spaces. Sometimes we change our layout and more space just shows up! It sounds like your overall experience has been a positive one here in Fredericksburg. You know I have to say, I think Ken and I had what we thought was this unique experience, but we are finding out that it’s not really true. We came here from Charlottesville in 2005 and we were traveling to work, so we didn’t really participate in the art community at all. In 2010, I started taking pottery classes at LibertyTown and I was just blown away by the sudden realization that this is a real art town. We hear from so many people coming to our gallery for the first time that they never knew we were there, and that they travel for work so they hardly get out. When they see what our town has to offer though, they start making time to experience it, and that makes us so proud and happy to be a part of that. Kenneth: This is such a strong art town. We feel fortunate to be an integral part of it.

Visit libertytownarts.com for more information. All photos provided by LibertyTown Arts Workshop.


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Rosa L. How she wishes that she could buy into the idea of a reason for everything, a science to explain it all and even a logic as to why things happen as they do when they do where they do, and that everything is, as he puts it, all for the best by which she assumes he means everything including AIDS, migraine headaches, breast cancer, addiction, bulimia, osteoporosis, hang nails, dandruff, chapped lips, morbid obesity and menstrual cramps. Plus her lazy eye and his bad breath. Instead she offers him a mint then nods her head when he says, crazy people share encrypted thoughts that can be decoded by anyone that is patient enough to spend the time to do so, that our actions can be explained through genetics, that our neuroses can be analyzed then cured with some help from Jesus or Freud or Marx or the friendly folks at Alcoholic Debtors Anonymous.

~ Drew Pisarra


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


Dawn Whitmore Photography

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


Awkward Dances in the Cold A cold morning in Georgia. I make my way to the kitchen slowly, not lifting my feet, my socks dust the wood floors. It is not the cold that slows my movement.

Three by

Kristin Bryant Rajan

I unload the dish washer, listen to the coffee maker hum. This is the routine: the small daily exercises, the familiar clink of clean glasses, the heaving rhythmic breath of coffee brewing, in a cold house gray with dawn. The furnace is relentless, like a steady wind, but working hard to bring this drafty house to a temperature that feels like home. I hear my husband’s hard steps from the distant bathroom, get closer, louder, as he walks to where I am. Brown leather shoes, a gray wool coat, hair gelled hard against his head, face freshly shaven. He is ready for his day. He smells of soap and department store cologne. In the kitchen, he is looking at his phone, while I put spoons and forks in proper places.

I turn to gather more utensils, and see peripherally he has moved closer to where I am, but programmed by domesticity, I turn to put the spoons away. When he sees me turn away from him, because I’ve seen too late how close he’s come to me, he then moves away from where I am: 3 steps backward. He looks at his phone; I put knives and forks away. No steps forward. An awkward dance, after 18 years of marriage, still tentative about how close to get, still uncertain about how close the other wants us to be. Memory, not as crisp now, can’t remember if some argument resides between us from the night before. This clumsy moment in the kitchen will be the residue between us tonight. Always some reason not to thoughtlessly succumb to simple love. He says goodbye and leaves. The door slams shut. I finish putting plates away, moving slowly on this cold and bitter morning.


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Baby Teeth When I was young, I wiggled baby teeth loosened just slightly by age pushing its way into my mouth, lifting the teeth just barely from the gums enticing me with an offering I would have to work hard to get. Fingers gripping slippery, wet, white, bending back and forth. Sweet pain, mouth watering with the sharpness. Twisting, turning to hear root tendrils break, tender twigs snapping in my head. Pushing my tongue incessantly and hard against smooth white enamel until it feels not to be a part of me. And when the tooth is ripped from its socket and warm iron blood fills my mouth, my tongue then follows empty space and presses deep into the vacant desolate hole, perpetually, obsessed now with what’s not there.

Devin’s Fever My two-year old lies beneath a purple Winnie-the-Pooh fleece blanket on the couch. “You cut onions?” he asks. His eyes, deep within puffed folds of skin, are streaked with red, everywhere but where there is brown iris. His lids hold pools of tears, which overflow and stream down his face when he blinks. He can not understand these tears, so thinks I must be cutting onions. Beneath the swollen skin, he no longer looks like my child, more like the drowned body of a baby found on the ocean floor. I haven’t cut onions. I can do nothing but watch him, stroke his hair wet with sweat, cover him more tightly, and feel his body shake with fever cold. I take his temperature every hour praying for one less number, dreading one more. Lost in the journey of his body, he says nothing, just closes his eyes to cope with the world within. The heat floods his being as he lays limp and lifeless. Still on the outside while wars wage inside. His dance with illness is personal and silent. His breath is labored, too deep and strong for one so young. Raising his head to drink his juice takes all the strength he has. The two of us, alone on the couch as dusk falls around us, wait until life returns.

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Mick and Keith

By Jessie Falzoi

The endless row of white Bauhaus-style houses lay dead silent in the dark. In front of them: neatly cut lawns, nameplates listing family members (dogs and cats included), minivans in all kinds of shades and colors. Nothing had changed in all those years, not even Bernie’s mom, who opened the door, hesitatingly at first, then wide. “Stefan,” she cried out. I cracked a smile. “Live and in person.” Last week, my friend had left his family. Disappeared right after breakfast, shoeless, in his ripped jeans and a coffee-stained T-shirt. His wife called his office and found out that they sacked him a month ago. She called me next and wanted me to bring him back to Berlin. She started to cry. “Did you know?” And I said, “It’s been two years that I haven’t seen him. At least.” Bernie’s mom touched my sleeve. “Are you hungry?” She’d always heated up leftovers for me, whereas my mother tried to put me on a diet – I was quite a fatso in the old times. “I’ve got some nice pork chops in the freezer,” Bernie’s mother said, “how does that sound?” “No thanks.” “You’re all skin and bone.” “And happy about it.” I nodded toward the stairs that Bernie and I had gone up so many times when we were teens. “Same room?” “He hasn’t been down for three days.” The walls were full of photos, Bernie’s kids mostly, but there was one faded shot of us sitting at the garden table, wearing sunglasses, hands clutched around bottles of coke. It was the summer of 86, a year before my mom died, two years before we graduated and moved to Berlin. “He will come down,” I said. My friend was stretched out on the bed. I walked past him, opened the window. “Man,” I said, “smells like teen spirit.” The Donald Duck alarm clock was still on the nightstand. Next to the single bed: the same old stereo, covered with dust. On the bookshelf: Marvel comics, his tattered Bukowski collection. “I am going to stay here until you come back to your senses.” He continued staring at the Quadrophenia poster. We’d watched it thirty-four times, dressed up in our suits and parkas and shoes, until the video got stuck in the player. “Leave me alone,” he said. The moment I’d gotten off the train I felt as if I was walking in smog. The air up here is much clearer, much healthier, and yet it felt heavy and impenetrable, like some sort of gas slowing your brain down, slowing down your every movement. “I came to bring you home, buddy.” I sat on the window sill. and said, “Bringing it all back home.” “Get the fuck out of here, will you?” I searched my bag for cigarettes and lit one. “I’d die for a drink, really. Can’t stand this place all sober.” “I thought you’d quit.” “Come on.” I bent down to pull at his blanket. “Take a shower and we’ll hit the road.” Bernie pushed my hand away. “Stop it.” “Extra blanket for the cold, right?” Nights are always chilly in Northern Germany, even in summer. You never leave the house without a jacket. 109

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“Stop being such an egomaniac,” I said. “Annette’s a wreck.” “Welcome to the club.” “Jesus.” In the distance I could make out the lights of the hospital my mother had spent her last days in. Already then it was known worldwide for its excellent medics but none of them had been able to help her. I flipped the butt of my cigarette onto the hood of a black family van when a tiny cat jumped from the chestnut tree onto the window sill. “Hey, kitty,” I whispered. Purring, she brushed my arm. She was so skinny, I could feel her every bone. “You can’t just run away,” I said. “You gotta think of your kids, man.” “Since when are you interested in them?” Bernie coughed, and then he said, “You don’t even remember their names.” I stroked the cat’s back, which she pressed against my palm, until she suddenly turned around and pierced her sharp teeth into my hand. “Fuck!” “It’s Louis and Luna.” The beast held on to my hand, then she suddenly let go again and jumped into the darkness. I looked at the imprint of her teeth. “Have you seen that?” He got up, looked out the window, and sat down on his bed again. “Pass me a smoke,” he said. I threw the pack and the lighter onto his bed. “You look like shit.” He rubbed his greasy hair. “I feel like shit.” His shirt was full of holes. It was the one with the coffee stains. “Call Annette at least.” Bernie took a series of drags, reached for the plate on the table, drowned his cigarette in the ketchup. Then, he leaned back again and turned to the wall. I flipped through his record collection. “Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields, sold in a market down in New Orleans,” I softly sang, opening the lid of the record player. “Remember the Hannover gig?” We hitchhiked there. We left early in the morning; it was raining and only very few cars stopped, which never took us far, but we didn’t mind, we patiently held out our thumbs, drinking beer, singing one Stones song after the other. They were doing the encore when we finally cut our way through to the stage. “Fucking awesome.” “I remember nothing.” A few weeks after that gig, he met Annette. There was still the music and we still hung around, but the moment she called I was out. She followed us to Berlin and they rented a place together. And then, he became a father. I took the record out of the sleeve, put it on the turntable, singing, “Hear him whip the women just around midnight.” I could still see him standing over there, sweet sixteen, on the coffee-table, eyes closed, clinching the mic. And me next to him with my Fender Stratocaster, bought from the money I’d earned at the jam factory. I called him Mick and he called me Keith. “Remember our gig?” We had been playing at a hostel on a cold November night and nobody bothered to come by

except a group of Scandinavians who didn’t want to leave the hostel because of the snow. “Remember how we picked up them chicks?” I carefully reached for the tone arm and lowered the stylus. “How come you taste so good?” Bernie pulled the plug out and said, “Grow up, man.” His mum was sitting in the living room, watching TV. “Well?” she said. I held up my hand. “Is there any disinfectant?” She took off her glasses, put them next to a book called How to Turn Grief into Love, got up. “Let me see.” She looked at the cat’s bite and frowned. “So the cat got you too.” She let go of my hand, went to the kitchen, and returned with a brown bottle, muslin bandage, and scissors. “I shouldn’t have touched the damn thing in the first place,” I said as she started cleaning the wound. “What did he say?” “Bernie?” I flinched. It hurt like hell. “He’ll come around.” “He looked like a bum,” she said. “As if he’d walked all the way.” I grinned. “At least he left Annette the car. It sure is none of my business but she’s quite upset.” “That’s what I keep telling him,” she said. “You two were never listening.” She looked at me as if she wanted to say more, but in the end sighed and turned her gaze back to my hand. “What about tetanus?” “I’ll be fine,” I said. “You have to get a new shot every ten years, you know?” She put a piece of sterile gauze on the wound. “Did you go to the cemetery?” “No,” I said. She cleared her throat and said, “If you don’t renew the contract, they’ll give the place to somebody else.” I don’t remember anything about the funeral. My grandmother took care of it and when she died some years later, I was abroad. Back in Berlin I found out but I preferred to let sleeping dogs lie. “I better have a look at this silly son of yours,” I said. Bernie had reconnected the record player. Wild Horses was drawing to a close. “If you’d kept your hands off it, I would be rich today.” “It’s just a zipper.” “A kaput zipper.” He grabbed my pack of cigarettes, put two into his mouth, and lit them. “She’s pregnant again,” he said, handing me one. “Lucky you.” I touched the bandage and felt the bulge. The throbbing pain had reached my fingertips. “I’m talking of a wife and kids depending on you,” he said. “Three fucking kids and a wife.” “Why aren’t you with them then?” “What do you know about responsibility? Have you ever cared about anyone except yourself?” I took a drag of my cigarette, and then I took another drag. He smirked. “Life continues to be free and easy for you, right?”

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“What do you know about responsibility? Have you ever cared about anyone except yourself?” I took a drag of my cigarette, and then I took another drag. He smirked. “Life continues to be free and easy for you, right?” I sat down on the windowsill again. On the other part of the town there was our old apartment, which I probably wouldn’t recognize anymore. I wasn’t even sure if I were able to find the house. Not that I was planning to go looking for it. “But let me tell you something,” Bernie said. I turned around. “You will die a lonely man, Stefan.” I laughed. I shook my head, and then I said, “You’re so full of shit.” “There will be nobody holding your hand.” “I will have a dozen of sexy nurses looking after me,” I said. “Whereas you’re doing everything to get rid of your deathbed entourage right now.” “Fuck you,” he said. There was the cat again, looking at me with her huge, hollow eyes. I was done with saving her, I was done with saving anybody. The first train would leave at six in the morning. I could get a taxi, have a few drinks, tell Annette to do her fucking job. I didn’t even know why she asked me. Bernie had a lot of other friends, family fathers like him, guys he had a lot more in common with. He stepped up next to me and said, “Look at that bitch.” He snatched Erections from the shelf and cast it at the cat. “Piss off!” “I have a girlfriend,” I said. He raised an eyebrow. “Do you?” “She’s a teacher,” I said. “Her school is next to work.” She had been standing in the schoolyard every Tuesday between 10.05 and 10.25. One day I opened the window and she turned around and I offered her a cup of coffee. A few weeks later, when she came back from a parent-teacher conference, I asked her in to share the bottle of champagne a customer had given me in the afternoon. We ended up in the hotel next door. Bernie went to the dresser and took out a bottle of gin. He drank, then he passed it on to me and I drank. “I love her,” I said. “Good for you,” Bernie said. We met once a week at the hotel. We didn’t talk. We laughed, we kissed, we looked into each others eyes, but we didn’t talk. She wanted it that way. Last time we met she held my hand. She looked at me, and then she said, “Good bye”. When the scent of her shampoo had vanished, I decided to become a smoker again. “I’m going to ask her if she wants to live with me,” I said. “Well,” Bernie said, “good luck.” He smiled. “I mean it.” I put a hand on his shoulder. “Let’s take a walk at least. It’s suffocating in here.” Bernie went to the bathroom and when he was back, we smoked another cigarette, and then I followed him into his 111

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parents’ bedroom. He opened the closet and reached for a blue plastic bag and took out some old sweatshirts and a pair of faded jeans. “Do you want me to look like a school boy or like my father?” “Between Scylla and Charybdis, I’d say.” His father’s suits were neatly hung up and covered with moth paper. Bernie had texted me when his father died and I texted back instead of calling. I wanted to pass by the same evening but something came up, and afterward I forgot. When I finally met him, when I told him that I was sorry, he quickly moved on to something else and I wasn’t unhappy that he did. In the end he went for the teenage look. “What do you think?” “Fucking awesome,” I said. “The chicks will love it.” It was dawning. We walked along the sleepy road, heading for the woods. A lot of nights ended like this then: we grabbed our guitars and a couple of beers to watch the sunrise. When we sat down on top of the hill, the red ball appeared above the trees. “Looks like a chopped head.” Bernie took another one of my cigarettes. The pack was nearly empty. “What is she like?” “Amazing,” I said. “Age, bra size, name.” Bernie kicked me. “Details, buddy.” “She’s got beautiful hair,” I said. “She’s forty.” Bernie chuckled. “Well,” he said, “I guess she’s the one.” I hadn’t seen her in two months. Every week, I'd been at the hotel, but she hadn't shown up. I paid for the room and lay on the bed, smoking and drinking up the bottle of champagne, and then I went back to work again. He reached for a branch, painted a heart into the sand. “What’s her name?” I touched the bandage. The throbbing pain had reached my arms, my neck, my head. I had my last shot in tenth grade, when my mother was still able to look after those things. “Jennifer, Alison, Philippa, Sue,” he sang, “I wrote the song for you.” I fumbled with the bandage. Perhaps it was too tight. Perhaps I should just get rid of it. “What happened?” Bernie asked. The chopped head was hidden behind thick gray clouds now. It had always been like this then. In the morning, you saw the bright blue sky and an hour later, it began to rain. I felt the first drops on my front, then the rain was pouring down on everything, pouring down on Bernie, pouring down on me, pouring down on the sand, drowning the heart he’d drawn. “I don’t know her name,” I said. Bernie stood up. He pretended to pick up his guitar. He pretended to tune it. He pretended to play. He turned around and said, “Get your fucking guitar, Keith.” I didn’t move. He sang, “Angie, Angie.” He paused, looked at me, continued singing, “When will those clouds all disappear?”

Vibrant Decay

Michael Hower Photography


FIBER Lorie McCown

As an artist, I enjoy hearing stories of how other artists evolved to the place they are today. You’ve been an artists for years. How did you become interest in fiber arts?

fabrics, which is a whole other aspect of fiber art and quilting that I really love. I’ve always kept a lot of sketch books and notebooks, and I started to concentrate on themes that would be relevant to me.

Well, I grew up in southern California and went to school out there to study art. I started off as a painter, and I still paint. I took a weaving and textiles class during my senior year of college, where I had a super teacher who helped me really click with the method. If I’d had a little more time, I would have switched to textiles. A lot of my interest really had to do with that particular teacher, but another factor was that the painting world in the ‘80s was pretty restrictive, believe it or not. The art world was very much into big, conceptual pieces, and so it was hard for me to come up with pieces that were pleasing in a critique. Despite that, I did graduate with drawing and painting. Fast forward, I married a man in the military, so we moved around, but I always had a little studio no matter where I was. When my son was born, I thought I might make a quilt for him. I had made clothes for him and liked sewing, so I took a quilting class and really loved it. I was doing traditional quilts for a long time and had a great teacher. It’s important to get a good teacher to get you excited about the materials, but also to instill excitement about the process.

Do you feel like your art training helps you with that process?

And to get you excited about what you could do beyond the norm?

Yeah. I loved the material, fabrics and threads, but I also enjoyed the process of doing it. It’s not a quick process. We ended up here in Virginia about 13 years ago. There used to be a quilt show, and it was combined with traditional quilts, the blocks, but they also had art quilts. I saw those art quilts and thought they would be right up my alley. It really clicked, and I loved some of the things that were going on. I was getting a little bored with the traditional quilts. They are fun to do, but after a while it can become repetitive and tedious, and I think the artist in me wanted to really start playing with the fabric. From then on, I dropped the traditional quilting and started the art quilting and dying my own

Absolutely. The basics never change. They’re never bad to know. I have to tell you, I’m not as familiar with textile arts as I am other mediums. Ever since I’ve started following you, it just blows my mind to see the artistry you command from fabrics. I definitely see the themes in your pieces. It’s more like you’re creating a painting with the material.

I hope so. I strive for that. I’ve been doing it for about 20 years or so, give or take. I started to hone my techniques and it took on a life of its own. As much as I enjoyed it, I’ve recently gotten away from the dying of the fabric, because I feel like I don’t want to beat the materials I’m using into submission. If a fabric has a certain form or texture, I try to honor that. I’ve really been digging down into some vintage stuff, not anything particularly dear, but handkerchiefs and doilies, things that someone made anonymously. You know, “woman’s work” is anonymous a lot of the times, and so that’s been the driving force over the past couple of years. Also, I tend to work in a series more than doing one off pieces. That’s how the themes develop for me. Working with the fabric’s natural tendencies must allow you to see new or unexpected things in the fabric, because you are using the natural make-up of the material. You see new things you might not have seen before.

Yes. I think with anything people can get bamboozled by the technology. Even in the quilting world there is a vast array of technologies that can be used. For a while, I sort

Lorie McCown


of got caught up in acquiring fabrics. I had to put the breaks on that pretty early, because it became more about the hunt for fabric than the use. I worked in a quilt shop for a while and came to think it was not a great idea. As fun as it was working with lovely people, it made it easier for me to acquire fabric instead of think of how I would use it. Another thing I came to understand about myself and technology was that I wasn’t particularly interested in the latest and greatest all the time. I tend to go toward the old and beat up. I love things that have rust. You play with the elements. So, if rust has developed you allow it to be part of your piece. It’s something I haven’t really seen. Is that a technique people are using, or is that unusual in quilting arts?

I think it’s a different technique. We’re a small sub-group, and we tend to huddle together, but that’s what draws me in. I want to see what others are doing with it. I do start with an idea. I make sketches, and I have the materials already chosen. I heard Jack White say it’s good to work within parameters. He said, “I’m gonna make what I make in a week.” Sometimes I do that. Sometimes I’m just going to stick to black and white and red. It’s so expansive and there is so much to choose from, so a lot of time I keep things limited. I like to tell people that my work isn’t the mind-blowing stuff that makes people go, “Oh, wow.” Hopefully, mine’s a little more introspective. I don’t often explain exactly what the piece is about, even thought there’s symbology in it, because people often see their own meaning in it. Hopefully, that’s what art suggests. That’s what a lot of artists say, though. want to tell people what to think.

They don’t

Right, I’m not being secretive. They came to it with some meaning of their own.

I hope so. I work for that a lot. That’s really how my process evolved. People started getting interested because they were a little sentimental or had things they wanted to use in pieces. I think a lot of times people get drawn into that. When I teach classes, students will come with suitcases full of stuff that they’ve been keeping for a long time. I advocate to put these things to use, to see what they can come up with that’s pertinent to them. It’s a give and take. You do have classes. People can learn this technique.

Right. I’m currently teaching out of Figure 8 Ink Studio, where I hold painting classes and sewing collage. At its core, what is it about textile and fabric that draws you to it?

It really just clicked with me. I like the immediacy of painting and drawing. I tend to go toward the more direct things than process things, like a print maker would do. If you are doing printing, you have to prepare a lot of things. I actually 115

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Heart with wings Three Hearts with wings

did enjoy sewing clothing for a time. I think that was the genesis of the dresses that came through in one series. The pull of the fabric is a draw, also the fact that it can be a grand thing and a humble thing. I think people tend to have a lot of preconceived notions about paintings. How many people can name one person who worked in fabric or textiles? I would bet nobody. There are plenty of fiber masters out there, but they tend to be in other countries. Japan has a lot of historical reverence for cloth, and of course Britain has a lot of historical things. People might recognize Christo (and Jeanne-Claude) who did the large wrapping installations. So, I think that the fact that it’s a little more anonymous form of art without the baggage of painting and drawing has drawn me to it. I guess it is sort of an artistry of the people.

It is. People really wrestle with it. Is it a craft? Is in an art? It’s the chicken and the egg. I like to think with textile and fabric work is a little bit more like reading poetry than prose; you’ve got to read it in a different way. If you take a picture of a quilt you’ll get what the image is, but I can’t tell you how many times people have looked at work and said “wow, look at the stitches” or “look at the texture,” so there’s an extra added something to it. In some cases, isn’t it true that the stitches or bindings in quilting have special meaning? For instance, in Pennsylvania Dutch quilts or story quilts, like those of Harriet Powers.

Yes, the Amish, definitely have their won special aesthetic. There was another group that came out in the late ’70s, the Gee’s Bend quilts, created by an isolated African American community in Alabama. They are utilitarian things, but low and behold someone from New York saw them and said they looked like fine art. I used to do a lot of knitting for my son, which I learned from my grandmother.

I do too. I see you have a wheel. Do you spin your own wool?

Yes, I’m pretty novice at it, but I enjoy it. There’s a very active group here, the Fredericksburg Spinners and Weavers Guild…wonderful outreach that they do. I used to belong to a lot of these groups, but I found myself doing something almost every night and had to narrow it down a little. It’s been a really fruitful vein of art. It’s catching on. There are some pretty big groups. There’s SAQA, which is the Studio Art Quilts Associates. I was the VA rep until just recently. It’s 6000 - 7000 members world wide, mainly art quilters. It’s soup to nuts with that group, people who are very much into surface design and other types of things like printing on fabric. There’s a little bit of everything in there. So, your own evolution with fabrics over the last 20 years, any big changes in there other than going from quilts to artistry.

It’s gotten much more personal for me. I started out doing a lot of very colorful landscape styles, much more commercially appealing, but it has evolved into much more personal statements. I’ve been exploring family relationships. I come from a pretty large family… on the grandmothers’ and grandfathers’ sides were big, huge Catholic families, but then my own parents and my husband’s parents all had one or two siblings. We have three children of our own, so it’s been a dynamic thing for me to involve family matters in my art. I had a lot of preconceived notions about family that come and go. They seem to show up a lot, so I tend to take note of those things. Many of the artists I’ve interviewed draw from their experiences with their families.

I think that makes things authentic. As a writer, you can tell when writers are faking it or when they’ve experienced it.

Lorie McCown


My grandmother’s dresses

I understand that from a writer’s perspective because you might really like a topic and want to write about it, but it’s not your experience, so you can’t do it authentically. You try and try and try to get that voice, but it’s not happening because you don’t have the experience to back it up. I imagine a lot of artists have the same issues. They might want to experiment with styles, but it might be hard to tap into the underlying meaning because they don’t have that experience.

Yes. There are the formal elements of art, you know line and shape and color, composition, which I think some textile artists, and artists in general, get hung up on. Likewise, sometimes those are the “Oh, wow!” quilts. Then I think there are some that have a narrative in their work, be it painting or folk art, and those are the ones I’m most drawn to. I have friends who play music. Some of them are more emotive, while others are more technically gifted. It seems that you are describing the same degree of talent with the fiber artists you’ve described. You’ve got artists who can technically create a quilt with a lot of wow factor, while others work with that narrative you described.

Right, and they’re gorgeous (the technical designs), and I take nothing from them. I would definitely be wowed over them, but then I tend to look at things that have something else. I don’t know if it’s taste, but there’s room for everybody. Do you have favorite fiber artists?

In the current fiber world, there are very few superstars in America. There’s a woman named Sheila Hicks, she’s probably up there in the upper echelon of artists. She does a lot of installation work, very large pieces. She’s had work in New York in the Whitman. I cross pollinate a lot. I love Frida Kahlo as a painter. I was reading her biography several years ago - just something else! When you look at her paintings, some people would be repulsed by some of it, but when you read about her life you’re just thinking wow, this is art on an entirely different level. I love Vincent VanGogh. I know he’s a regurgitated artist, but wow. When you look at his paint strokes, they look like stitches to me. I love Japanese art. I lived in Japan for three years and they have such a reverence for things. There’s the technological Pokemon stuff, but there’s lots of people that do amazing weavings and hand sewing. I wasn’t so much into quilts and fabrics when I lived there, because I had little kids at the time and my attention was drawn in other directions, but I took note of things. I did a little bit of collecting when I was there. There was an aesthetic there that I adored. I’m a sucker for anything that embroidered, old clothing, just looking how it’s made. Maybe some of the anonymous makers would be my inspiration.

Lorie McCown


h The mass produced stuff made today must drive you nuts. Ha! I need to get over it though. It’s interesting to think there used to be such a reverence for making and mending. Now it’s just not economically feasible for people to learn how to mend a sock. Not that I’m good at it. Why mend them when you lose the other one all the time? Right! I do love some of the anonymous things. Many times even the traditional quilts that you’ll see in a museum will say Maker Anonymous. They were doing something utilitarian that turned out to be quite beautiful. I always enjoy seeing the hand of the artist through the sketches. You can see the thinking going on there. Sketches are a fabulous ways to start mining the work out there, and of course the Internet is an easy way to get started. Do you have some favorite resources online? I do have to confess to a Pintrest addiction. I’m a big believer of inspiration boards. Like I said, I enjoy seeing the hand of the artist, even if it’s just a drawing, or ceramics that aren’t quite right the Wabi-sabi of the thing - things that have been patched and re-loved. I just really adore that.

Visit Lorie McCown online: loriemccown.com


Two by

Charles O’Hay

RUNAWAY Carol purchased a small city, along with a leash and a bowl, and brought them home. She made a bed of old pillows on the floor where her city could sleep. Each morning she took it out for a walk, its red and green lights flashing, though it was not good with strangers and sometimes barked in the faces of small children. One night, during a thunderstorm, Carol's tiny city woke up, its windows and doors rattling, and climbed into bed with her. It didn't smell very good, so Carol decided she would to give it a bath. The next morning, Carol leashed the little city to the porch railing and fetched the garden hose. She’d soaped it up from its refineries to its loading docks, when it broke loose and ran howling down the street. She's searched for it for weeks afterward, without luck. She even put up signs. One neighbor said she saw it digging up the azaleas in her yard. An old man down the street said he chased it out of his garbage. "You better hope it doesn't bite anyone," he said, "they’ll put it down."

DIURNAL The sky was made for a queen, whose name has since been melted and recast so often as to become every name. Each plate was hand-cut from slate and obsidian, each marble column bodied into place by a thousand men. The ropes alone were immense. One could crush a man with a twitch of an eyelash. Many died during the construction—some from falls, others from exhaustion. Why, some asked, would one even begin such an undertaking? They were told by the king that the queen was being driven slowly mad by being forced to look directly into the eye of God. The sky, he said, would solve the problem. But war broke out. Work on the sky slowed, as reinforcements were needed at the front. The army eventually collapsed and the king and queen were killed. The sky was never finished. The new rulers wore eyeglasses and carried briefcases. They held many meetings on the fate of the sky. Finally it was decided that the already constructed portion be allowed to remain as a warning to the foolish and prideful—that they forever look upon man’s half-made goblet, rolling across the floor of heaven.

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


Hang Onto Your Hat Connie Lester Watercolor


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

The Greatest Treasure Give your child the moon And she’d rather have a pony. Offer her a pony and she’d rather have the moon. Make her magic moon-light, but she’d rather have the money You collected from returning both the pony and the moon. Sing your child a song And she’d rather have a poem. Read your recitation, but it really should have rhymed. Lavish her with lim’ricks, but you still have missed the reason Why the song was out of season and the lim’ricks were ill-timed. But offer her your heart With the blind faith of a pauper. Promise moon and pony, but this first above the rest: Let your greatest treasure be the rich love of a father Who, though pauper, has the pleasure of a child that’s loved and blessed. Offer in this order and you’re sure to pass the test.

~ Jason Michael

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


HARPERS FERRY I wanted to write a poem about trying to swim across the Potomac river and failing. I wanted to compare this to John Brown’s raid, to Robert E. Lee’s rifle. I wanted to marry these failures, these rebellions of guns and legs, to wring a little victory from loss, like a horse collapsing simply because he’s outrun his lungs. But I couldn’t. Mountains, molehills, an angel is more than a handshake. Lying on the wet rocks, recapturing each lost breath, I retell a broken story, relearn this lesson. And all the while, this river is bored into silence

~ Zachary Lundgren


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Happy Houses

Karen RIchards Mixed Media

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz around letter-

press arts. With book art establishments in Richmond and Washington, D.C., and the Virginia Art of the Book Center in Charlottesville, one can hardly miss the form’s resurgence onto the scene. One of Fredericksburg’s own, Susan Carter Morgan, has made this her creative art of choice. Morgan owns and operates Downtown Writing and Press out of a studio above Forage on William Street. While she was still a partner at Water Street Studio with local artists Elizabeth Seaver and Lynette Reed, Morgan invited Chris Fritton to visit Fredericksburg and give a demonstration of his work with letterpress. Fritton was on a unique journey of his own as The Itinerant Printer, a nod to traditional practice where printers would travel to printshops across the land and work for the opportunity to use the presses and learn from experienced printers at different destinations. Morgan had always been interested in technology, writing and art, and though she didn’t have a formal design background, she often facilitated school newspapers and journals while teaching. She says, “I was 125 FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

fascinated by how type and white space can tell its own story and how you can design certain things using letters and typography that tell a story in itself, like the emphasis of the capital letter or the graphic.” When she started Water Street Studio with Seaver and Reed, Morgan says she began to appreciate art in a way that she hadn’t before. Her partners encouraged her to take a one day workshop in Washington, D.C., after which she was hooked on letterpress. Morgan laughs, “I think I was fascinated by the idea that I could actually do this myself. I remember coming out of the class and getting totally lost in rush hour in Alexandria, but being on the phone with my husband, David, saying, ‘I love this. I love this.’ I think there are moments in everyone’s life when you do something new and you feel a huge shift. At that moment, my life had shifted.” For his part, Fritton became interested in to various printshop around the country after considering the history of letterpress printers. He describes on his website, “The history of itinerant printers is centuries old, dating back to the very first Apprentices who left the

care of a Master Printer’s shop to become Journeymen. While visiting and working in other printshops, Journeymen would learn tricks and tips, along with different perspectives on printing. This accumulated knowledge was a key part of their growth as an artisan and craftsman, and after a number of years, these Journeymen would settle in different regions and begin their own printshops, completing their peregrination (literally and figuratively) from Apprentice to Master.” Morgan was following Fritton online and was fascinated by his project. She saw that he would be in Richmond and the idea was that Fritton would come for a couple of days, check out her letterpress, and have some conversations about the art form. Morgan says, “What I didn’t know is that he’s completely artistic. He uses bright metallic colors and creates these beautiful designs. When he was visiting, he took a mental scan of everything I had in the shop and decided how he wanted to use it. I had just purchased this trim that I had envisioned setting around a quote. He took it out and while we’re talking he creates a design with it and then decides to take the FXBG, which he happened to notice was all over town, and put that on top of the design. I learned so much just from watching him.” Morgan says in the evenings, she wand Fritton would discuss his visits with other people. Fritton shared that every shop and artist was different, from tradition printers who are very technical, to those doing more artistic, experimental things. Fritton was able to give Morgan some suggestions about her own press and the work she was doing with it.” Regarding his own use of letterpress to create artistic pieces, Fritton says, “Letterpress printing, as an artistic art form, is really just beginning to come into its own. It was regarded and used as a technology for informational reproduction for so long that it’s been difficult to shake that legacy. It’s an amazing legacy, but it’s one that was reliant on the conveyance of literal information, so the potential for expressionistic or abstract content was often quelled. It’s an interesting time for letterpress printing now, where many printers are still producing posters for bands and events, as well as other things that are informationally based, while at the same time they’re producing highly abstract or experimental work. I think it’s exciting to stand astride both those worlds right now.” Fritton says he loves working with traditional movable type, which he describes as individual pieces of metal type or wood are arranged in a forme for printing, along with pieces of spacing and other materials to keep

Work by Chris Fritton

objects in place. He says, “One of my favorite projects using movable type employs it in an unorthodox fashion - using all of the elements (letterforms, border material, ornaments, wood type, metal type, etc.) to create multi-color facades of local landmark buildings around Buffalo, NY. The analogy between letterpress printing and architecture is an apt one; just as you build a building brick-by-brick, you build a forme for printing letter-by-letter and object-by-object. We would jokingly refer to these letterpress architecture prints as ‘archi-types.’” Morgan says that like any art form letterpress printing does come with its share of challenges. From the expense, to finding the right type, to figuring out why paper is buckling, it can require quick problem solving on any given day. She adds, “Most of the equipment is vintage. You lock up the type with something called a quoin which requires a quoin key, so you have to find someone who just happens to sell them. When I bought a letterpress for home and kept my other one at Forage, I had to look around to find a second key, which is difficult being that they don’t make them anymore. That’s just a part of the process. There’s a part of the whole detail/problem solving world that I like that I didn’t realize I liked, because I’m not normally that kind of person. That’s been so much fun to figure out.” Fritton considers problem solving to be the most difficult thing about letterpress printing, but also what makes it so engaging and rewarding. He says, “Regardless of how many thousands of times you’ve done something, it seems as though each day there are new challenges and puzzles to sort. That’s exacerbated by The Itinerant Printer trip, because each day I’m visiting a new studio, a place where I may have never worked with the equipment, I don’t know the layout of the shop, and I don’t know what printable materials are available. It requires a lot of patience and patience,

flexibility, and an aptitude for creating ad hoc solutions to problems that arise.” While letterpress printing appears a fixed art with its locking of type and borders, Morgan says editing plays a large role in her practice, especially editing through problem solving. She explains, “Fit is important, and design aesthetic becomes key. Should letters be both large and small, or should they all be the same? Do you need a border? How much white space will you need? You’re looking at the message for structure and fit. Sometimes you end up changing your content for the sake of the press.” Fritton’s approach to editing is born of his origins as a book artist. He says, “It was only later in my career that I moved more toward large scale design. During those early days, I was looking for ways to improve the quality of my homemade books, so I started letterpress printing covers, then digitally printing the inside, binding them by hand, but eventually, I moved on to letterpress printing entire books. When you set every letter of every word in every sentence by hand, you’re literally building what you wrote. It gives you an immense amount of time to reflect on diction, and it gives you ample opportunity to pare your lines down to their barest essence. There are hundreds of times that I can recall sitting in front of a typecase, setting each letter, getting to the end of a line, and thinking to myself: well, that’s terrible. When I’m on the road, I have to make design decisions much faster, and often I’m not setting pages of a book or poems, but the editing process is the same: I still have more time to wrestle with something than I might have in a digital setting. It’s taught me a lot, and at this point in time, I’d say only 80% of what I make on the road is successful visually. The rest I have to regard as prototypes or experiments.” Both Morgan and Fritton plan to continue learning through collaboration with others and taking risks in

The Itinerant Printer with Susan Carter Morgan


Work by Chris Fritton

their own work. Fritton says, “I consider the time I’ve spent during The Itinerant Printer trip as journeyman time in my career as a printer. I think the next logical step will be to settle down and pull together my own studio, although I’ve had a number of offers to take the project global in 2017. It would be amazing to travel the world and visit all the burgeoning letterpress scenes in the UK, France, Italy, Japan, Australia, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, and more. If that’s the case, keep your eyes peeled for The Itinerant Printer version 2.0.” Morgan has had opportunities to work with community members and utilize her letterpress to create unique designs for local establishments. She will continue seeking guidance from experienced letterpress

printers like Fritton. She says, “There are a few things that have caused me to feel this passionate and to get this caught up in it, and this is something. I just love that this has happened at this point in my life. I love everything about it.” Visit Susan Carter Morgan online at downtownwritingandpress.com Catch up with Chris Fritton and read his Itinerant Printer Travel Blog at itinerantprinter.com Photography provided by Susan Carter Morgan and Chris Fritton.

The Itinerant Printer with Susan Carter Morgan


The Workshop


Broad Street is a literary journal published through the Student Media Center of Virginia Commonwealth University under the direction of Professor Susann Cokal, a veteran writer and editor who has been working in the publishing world for many years. Recently, I spoke with her about the importance of working with a good editor and the benefits that writers can gain from an editor’s feedback. Broad Street is available as a print magazine with limited content online; our conversation started with a discussion of the benefits of each platform.

With both a print and online presence, do you focus on the two platforms separately, or is your online presence simply a reflection of what is in your print publication? That’s a good question, and it's one that a lot of magazines are addressing in the era of both booming e-sites and stubborn love of print. You'd probably get a different answer about online vs. print publication from every editor you asked. Some have two completely different incarnations: there’s the print and then other features, or parallel ones, they publish online. The New Yorker has done that with the "Shouts and Murmurs" section, for example The pieces that get into the print version are the strongest, written by the “name” authors, and then there is the daily version that is published online and that might take a chance on a newer writer. The Virginia Quarterly Review, on the other hand, studied its demographic and decided to put some of its best features on its website--as a way of drawing readers into both platforms. We at Broad Street love the artifact of the print publication, the tactile quality of pages and the way art looks when you hold it in your hands in different lights. But we also see the value and pleasure of surfing through great content and seeing where the e-waves take us. We are primarily a

print organ, but we update our website and social media once or twice a week. Most print magazines do better if they have an online presence to create excitement about an upcoming issue and to build on what they’ve run before. I think people find the ease of online reading to be a bonus, but they like to have the physical copy when they have more time to sit down and absorb what they are reading. How do you choose the pieces you will publish online? Which pieces will capture that online reader’s attention and draw interest to your publication in print? We use the website in a few different ways. One lets us promote our contributors’ bodies of work online--directing readers to other pieces by those writers and artists, running a “Truth Teller Spotlight” series of short interviews with our contributors in which we ask how they define truth and figure out how to present it in their work. We also put up popular content from past issues, often labeled “Weekend Reading.” Our “Share This Poem” feature turns a poem into a nicely laid out, often illustrated broadside that someone can print out at home. Occasionally we run “web extras,” which are usually

Susann Cokal / Broad Street


features that came in after the due date for the print issue but that work well with its promotion and that we really want to bring to the world; Marylen Grigas’s recent series of poems illustrated by Riley McAlpine-Barthold are an example. The poems are largely about cancer and loss, and some of them are humorous. We made the decision to publish them online earlier than in the print version so she and others could appreciate these poems together. This is a way that the online element allows us to make sure an author has their moment, perhaps a moment that is significant in their personal lives. Another function of the website is to give student editors a chance to stretch and write on topics of their choice. These are often among their first published articles and essays, so we give them a line on a c.v. and some exposure to being edited themselves. Just to be clear, there’s a very good online-only magazine at VCU, Blackbird. We’re very conscious of not competing with them; they do things that we can’t, and we do things that they can’t. We’re glad there’s room for everybody. So, do you see the online presence as a way to market the print magazine? Partly. I’ve always said the best advertising for the magazine is the magazine itself, the object, because we’re very picky about the way it turns out. Part of our mission is to edit carefully; going through five or six rounds of revision with an author is not unheard of. It may be hard to get print into people’s hands right away--we have a distributor for that, and relationships with some independent bookstores around the country--but through the website we can give them access to some of our standout pieces and perhaps inspire them to order a copy or subscription online. The website features are also, of course, examples of what we run in the magazine. Anyone who is thinking of submitting can and should see what we are looking for from the pieces we publish online. There’s no way in which the internet presence does not help us. Sometimes it seems you are using your online presence to bring more immediate topics to the fore. Yes, it’s perfect for that. Here’s one way we used the website strategically: After the bombings in Lebanon last year, we wanted to do something to recognize the event. Paris was getting a lot of attention--Lebanon happened almost simultaneously but didn’t register as much in the public’s awareness. We had scheduled Amira Pierce’s memoir “Corniche,” about Beirut in 1990, for our print issue; that week, we put it online in slightly different form to honor what was happening all over the world. And Amira’s piece 133

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

is now in “Maps & Legends,” in print, with a few changes and a companion painting by the wonderful Lee Strasburger. Recently, we shared a few pieces on topics that became important in the 2016 election: one, a look back at Mattel toys and marketing to boys and girls (I wrote that one myself); and a link suggesting that readers go to Slate.com to read Sonja Livingston’s piece about Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits and the image she projects. We don’t have an outright political agenda--we’re a place for all readers to find something, ideally--but this was a hot topic in the months before the election ... and still is. Switching gears a bit: How does Broad Street support the students at VCU? It’s really symbiotic. We have a staff of graduate and undergraduate student editors who learn the trade from us, from submission to publication to marketing--and the students in turn really support Broad Street. Our funding so far has come primarily through Student Media, with some donations from private individuals. We’ve had terrific graduate students in positions of leadership--Chad Luibl, for example, helped us get off the ground when he was in the MFA-fiction program, and Matthew Phipps (another creative-writing MFA) took up the torch admirably. Because of our interdisciplinary interests, we’ve also had people with us from the School of the Arts and the Business School. We work under a close mentorship model. I have the literary-editorial experience, so I go over how to write letters, questions to ask while making a selection from the unsolicited files, and so on; I also train everyone in copyediting and proofreading (the most useful skill when you’re starting out). During the editorial process, a student gets to work directly with an author--which is unusual for university publications on a national platform--and really develop a piece into its final form. Every phase passes through me, and we meet one-on-one to discuss how to get a message across. It’s good training for a job in publishing (the kind I wish I’d had before I started out as an editorial assistant for a book publisher decades ago!). The authors who stay with us through the process say they’re grateful. We all want each piece to be as good as it can possibly be. There’s also a chance for students to professionalize themselves by getting their own words into print, if they are part of our staff. I mentioned the web features above; some of them have been standouts, and the students who wrote them got the same attention we give a “name” writer such as Thomas E. Kennedy or Deborah Jiang-Stein. See, for example, “Abby Is Tall and Blonde,” by Abby Otte, a piece about being compared to Barbie dolls that she wrote while on our staff. She and I went through rounds of revision and fact-checking before it went up (I’m something of a Barbie

scholar, and if someone wants to write about Barbie on my watch, there will be scrutiny). If a student editor writes a feature, that person learns what the process is like from both perspectives, editor and author. And they have something for the c.v. or just for bragging rights: “Look, I’ve been published and I have a permalink!” When it comes to print, we (like most magazines housed at universities) have made it a policy not to publish work by current students. That’s largely to avoid social awkwardness--nobody wants to have to reject a colleague s/he’ll be seeing every week in a workshop. But we have published some VCU alums, such as Lea Marshall, who’s a poet, dance critic, and essayist. We also assign interviews to staff members. This is another great way for an apprentice editor/writer to get a publication credit and to meet interesting people in the world of arts and literature. Chad Luibl started off with a bang by interviewing superstar Jeanette Winterson in our very first issue. Matthew Phipps interviewed Tony-winning costume designer Paloma Young (one of my students from long, long ago at Berkeley!) for our “Hunt, Gather” issue, then cinematic-effects designer TyRuben Ellingson for “Maps & Legends.” My partner, Greg Weatherford--longtime journalist and newspaper and magazine editor--and I make sure the students are supported at every stage: helping to develop questions, edit down the material, and fact-check. Jeanette Winterson so enjoyed chatting with Chad (they talked about their cats, among other topics) that she gave him an extra half hour before she had to head out to the airport. We’re finding the mentorship model pays off for us and for the student editors. Chad is now a junior literary agent with powerhouse Janklow & Nesbit in New York, and Matthew is working in trade books at Penguin Young Readers. Roland Coffey, who interned with us while earning his MA in art history, found a job with Yale University Press in art books right after graduation. Jamal Stone, an undergrad who had a paid position as an editorial assistant, has held several jobs in publishing since he worked with us. We’re very proud of our team! Have you found many pieces coming across your desk that don’t need editing, or is four or five rounds typical with any author? There have been a few that have gone to print almost as sent, and they’re mostly lyrical essays or poems. Pretty much everything needs copyediting to fix typos and punctuation, at the very least. Many people believe you shouldn’t edit poems at all, but we disagree. Sometimes there’s a word that feels wrong or a rhythm that feels off, and we’ll give that feedback. Since I’m a prose writer, I do sometimes deputize people for input with the poetry. Some of it is obviously great, but I will send selections to poets to get their opinions. For our 135 FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

first issue, Robert Alter, the great translator of Hebrew poetry (including the Bible), gave us a collection of poems by Yehuda Amichai that he’d just translated. The poems and Bob’s introduction met the world basically as Bob sent them to us. And the next year, the introduction to Amichai’s collected poems was an expanded version of the essay Bob wrote for us. He writes like an angel; you don’t edit Robert Alter. I think people get attached to their words. The words become an extension of themselves. The thought of chopping words from a poem you feel is finished becomes difficult when you’re in the poet’s seat. I understand the attachment to the words as they pour forth from us. That’s part of the culture. As I said, I’m a prose writer, but I’ve been told my style is a poetic and lyrical one, and (honestly) every word means as much to me as it means to a poet. I just use a whole lot more of them in a 500-page novel ... When I’m edited, first of all, I’m truly grateful for insight and feedback. I’ve had brilliant editors who have saved me from looking rather stupid at times. There are some lines and sections I’ve been heartbroken to change, but the editors have been right about changes most of the time. I know what it’s like to get the suggestion to rework a sentence, and to get kind of shirty about the change. Then I wake up in the morning thinking, Dammit, she’s right! And I fix it. On the down side, there have been times when we tried to work with a writer because we saw something in the piece, and the person just wasn’t able to go there with us or we hit a wall in the editing process. For one thing, we can’t be flexible about the truth in our mission. There isn’t really much to do after someone says she wants to present her memories as is, even those memories don’t match up with (say) the historical record: the facts have to be facts. If a person’s memories are different from what our research turns up--or the memories contradict each other within the essay itself--I suggest that maybe s/he could write about the intersection of memories, desires, and truth. We might be interested in something that examined that nexus, but we won’t publish inaccurate memories as if they’re truth unvarnished. It is hard once we’ve put the time into a piece to have to say it’s not going to work out. This happened early on more often than it does now. Now we are getting submissions that are more polished from the outset, and we’ve also resolved to invest less time in trying to “save” something we know has a spark but suspect isn’t going to work out. We wish those writers the best; there are a lot of magazines out there that don’t have such rigorous process, and perhaps the work will do well elsewhere.

What advice do you find yourself giving most consistently to people who submit to your magazine? We try to make very clear what we are looking for on our submissions page--but there are always people who think they will be the exception to our guidelines. Our submissions page even includes a warning to read all the guidelines and not let the “submit” button make you trigger-happy. The question is not so much length or the other superficial elements over which people obsess--it’s knowing the nature of what we publish. I’ll reiterate here what we post in our guidelines: We’re interested in substantive articles and essays. The best submission is still typically a prose piece, though we do publish poetry that tells a true story (and groups of poems that speak truth and add up to a narrative). The bulk of our magazine is nonfiction articles and essays. We need more reportage. We are less interested in what I call “MEmoir,” where someone is writing an account of what has happened to him or her but not reflecting on what it means in a wider context, whether it’s the context of the person’s life or in popular culture. The ME-moir is rather like writing a diary, but we need to take a broad view of the street. Which is not to say we don’t publish memoir at all--we certainly do!--but it needs a bigger scope than the self. When we started Broad Street, 95 percent of our submissions were solicited by people whom I and Greg Weatherford knew personally. Even then, we went through rounds of editing with contributors. Now I’d say the publication is split between solicited work and unsolicited, and our upcoming issues feature at least 75 percent material sent in through Submittable. We’re more established, so we’re getting some strong submissions from outside sources and people we don’t know. We needed the big launch to get attention from those writers, though. So, people should avoid a surface-level retelling of something they thought was interesting. Right. We’re not looking for “My mother cut my hair very short when I was five and when I went to school the kids made fun of me. I cried when they hurt my feelings and now I don’t like my mother. The end.” I use that as an example because we’ve never received that submission--if we did consider that little autobiographical incident, we would be looking for some kind of analysis of or reflection on what long versus short hair means in our culture, or women’s hair in general, or relationships with mothers, competition for who is the prettiest, or maybe the initiation into womanhood. These are questions we would be asking while reading. Even when we decline a piece, at least two-thirds of the time we offer some advice. We do it partly to show the writer that we’ve talked about the work, partly so that our own work evaluating it doesn’t waste its scent on the desert air,

and mostly to help foster a community of writers (and visual artists) who understand how their work is being seen. The note goes something like: “In our opinion, these are your strengths in this piece and here are some things you can work on.” Some people write back and thank us for the thoughtful letter, and others we never hear from again. But we’ve ended up accepting at least five pieces by writers who either made changes and resubmitted, or who sent us something new with our feedback in mind. Do you think others just move on to other magazines? Of course--and so they should. That’s the way to survive as a writer. When we decline a piece, we often emphasize, “This is the opinion of one group of editors only; another board may well find this piece perfect as is.” It’s true--someone else might consider it perfect, so the writer should keep trying. I used to work for a large trade publisher in the so I learned how important it is to write honest letters. Remember--if an editor signs a name and gives a submitter a personal email address, it’s an invitation to start developing work together. So a personal rejection is actually a good sign; it says you’re on your way. Then again, there are pieces to which we find ourselves unable to frame a response, because we may have exhausted our arsenal of feedback. There’s never a need to be mean, but sometimes people just miss the mark so much you know they’re simply going through the listings on websites like PW.org or Duotrope and saying, “Oh, this one takes nonfiction. I will submit my memory of that bad childhood haircut here now.” That isn’t what we want or need, and it doesn’t help the writer’s career. In terms of the multiple rounds of intensive editing--if we’re really invested in something we’re happy to do that. It feels great to see work blossom--and to see the student editors blossom in their correspondence with a contributor. What do you find most challenging in your role as editorial director? Well, the editorial director is the face of the magazine. I not only do a lot of editorial and promotional work myself, I’m also there to teach--and to absorb any nastiness or stress, pick up when someone drops a ball, protect the editors-in-training from fraught situations. Since we’re run through Student Media, the students are a big part of the team, and they get to make significant decisions about what we publish. A recent associate editor, Matheson Cartwright, brought us a photo essay by Bradley Dicharry about hand-painted signage across the U.S. It’s a standout in our “Maps & Legends” issue, and Matheson did some writing to frame the essay.

Susann Cokal / Broad Street


But ultimately, I have the continuity with the project, and I’m responsible for what contributors and students get from the experience. I’d be failing them if I didn’t go over each step with a magnifying glass and show them just how careful it’s necessary to be. So I’m picky. I go over everything intently; I fact-check the fact-checking. We have suffered delays in getting an issue out because there was a problem with the way a design translated or pages were cut at a printer’s. It might be more sane to let such things slide, but we want to put out something of the highest quality. The magazine reflects on me, yes, and on VCU, and--perhaps most important--on the students who have worked on it, as it is often their first step toward professionalization. The future of publishing depends on the Type-A’s. Pass it on. What are some features you are looking forward to sharing with the public in the near future? This is almost like asking a mother to choose her favorite baby. We get very invested in our writers and artists, maybe co-dependent. We have some really great issues in the works: “Small Things, Partial Cures,” “Rivals & Players,” and “Birth, School, Work, Death.” The first one is full, but we’re still taking submissions for the others. Around February you should be able to read Sara Talpos’s essay comparing microbiology to reading Emily Dickinson’s poems, and Rachel Moyle Beanland on the lynching of Howard Allen. Plus some wonderful artworks and photo essays ... New writer Sarah Green sent us some micro-essays about bubbles ... Walter Cummins on having to commit a wife to hospital care ... It’s going to be harrowing, joyful, weird, and illuminating! Photojournalist Chad Hunt has been very generous with us. Our first issue featured a photo essay by him about veterans of the Afghan War during and after deployment. Coming up, he’s done a series about Revolutionary War reenactors for “Rivals & Players.” Here’s a guy who’s been on the cover of Time and a host of other big, glossy cultural barometers (to mix a metaphor), and he actually offers us his work--wow! We have a portfolio of wonderful watercolors by Danish artist Gunver Hasselbalch, who travels the world and paints what she sees; she never uses a camera, but she captures the life of a place. We’ll be showcasing her work in a number of ways soon. In the past--and still--I’ve loved sending people to the interview with Paloma Young, who won a Tony for costume design. She discusses using fabric as something the audience can read from the stage and how clues from the textures inform the play’s story. I assign her interview to my writing workshops now. The interview is available online--please check it out!

Visit Broad Street online at broadstreetonline.org .

Susann Cokal / Broad Street


Guru The wise man spoke I listened with big ears and open heart Everything made perfect sense until He mentioned offhandedly that he was married to The hottest woman on the planet A singer 38 years his junior She was away on tour and he was very sorry to say His wife would not be joining us tonight On the glamour corner of Sunset Boulevard and No More Hope Street Where I found him at the bus shelter Orating sagely and eating donated cheese

~ MK Punky

CLOUD ONE Someday, not far away, when sun and moon diminish with in me, I want to be an angel of clouds. To touch their faces, smiling, frowning, turning to dragons, with gaping mouth and tail, floating out to sea to join other clouds, soft, white, and singing in light and lightning, with arms that envelop, a god of sky, thunderbolt and erotic escapades. I will appear, devious angel that I am, in white robes: All rise in my presence, puffed and torn in lightness of self, to shimmer on air, more peaceful than turbulent, a being of space.

~ Don Anawalt

Hands On Lynette L. Reed Mixed Media

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


The Burning Bush Ruthie Hurt, 1934 By Bill Green


here was a slop jar under the bed in the front room where him and Mama slept, but Papa wouldn't use it even when he got on in years and had to go at night. By then I was the only one at home, folks wondering if I'd be an old maid, but I didn't care. I liked the old place. Him and Mama kept the front room with the fire, and I slept in the room across the dogtrot where I run and duck under the featherbeds on winter nights, but it ain't bad most of the year. Except when Papa comes out in his old boots to do his business. His loud old boots. Not to the outhouse in the dark. He wasn't touched, just didn't believe it was fitting indoors or even in the clean back yard. So he'd go through the gate out to the chicken yard, aggravating them too, I reckon, but they was used to it. And then I'd wait till he come clomping back and get back to sleep. So I was listening when he hollered. But it was cold, liable to frost, so I didn't get up, and pretty soon here he comes clomping back, so I reckoned I'll hear all about it at breakfast. After he got his grits and eggs and wished we could afford some coffee, I ask him, "Papa, what was that last night?" "What was what, girl?" "What you was yelling about." "Maybe nothing," he says. "Then how come you hollered." "Well, it looked like something alright, I grant you that. You know that big old thorn bush back of the chicken yard, the one that puts out yellow flowers in the summer but don't do nothing else but set there and dare you to touch it. Well, last night I be dog if it wasn't on fire." "On fire?" says Mama. "Shining like the sun. Or moon maybe." I had to run out on the back porch and take a look, and when I get back, Papa says, "I know, honey. Must've been a vision. Dang thing still there big as life." "Burning?" says Mama. “Yessum.” “And it ain’t consumed?” “That’s right.” “What’d you do, Ben?” “Well, like Ruthie says, I hollered, but when it didn’t pay me no mind, I come back to bed. It was cold. Fire was cold. Bluelike. That’s right, now I recollect, like fire on the moon.” “What’d you say?” “I hollered.” “A bad word,” I told her. “One time. Then I come in.” “You didn’t talk to it?” “Talk to a bush?” 141 FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

"I swan, Ben Hurt, if you'd read the Good Book sometimes, maybe you'd know how to behave. You see a bush that burns and ain't consumed, a vision from the Lord like Moses on Horeb, and all you can do is holler a bad word and come to bed? It's a judgment on me for marrying a man with no schooling. If Old Jerry dies this winter and we can't plow in the spring and no money after the summer dry spell, I'll know it's a judgment for turning your back on that burning bush." "What you want me to do?" "Did you take off your boots?" "It was cold." "Was it muddy?" "Nome." "Then it wouldn't kill you to pull off your boots." "I don't know. In the chicken yard." “Show a little respect, Ben.” “Just stand there all night barefoot?” “Just long nough to talk to it.” “And say what?” “Ben Hurt, if you had half sense, you’d know what to say to a burning bush.” Papa was used to this. “Well, I don’t, Mama,” he says. “So you best tell me.” “Well, I don’t, Mama,” he says. “So you best tell me.” “Well, for a start, ask what its name is.” “What its name is?” “For a start,” says Mama. We live on what’s left of the old Grimes place. That’s what they call it, name of white folks from slavery days that had a whole lot more than thirty acres and one field by the creek to plow. In a big old two-story house made out of gray wood that won’t never rot long as you keep a roof on it. You can see it used to be painted, and there’s old, old plaster and wallpaper we patch up with clay and newspapers, and plaster fallen on the floor upstairs in the rooms we don’t use no more. The boys used to sleep up there before they left home, but I don’t see how they could stand it. When I was a little girl, a mean old woman called the Widow Brantley asked us outside the store if we was the people had moved into the old Grimes place. I can’t recollect exactly what it was she told Papa, but something about folks killed and lost and that’s why nobody’d stay in the house. Papa tells her the place suits us fine, but she laughs and says we better look out for haints. If she hadn’t been white, he’d a laughed back, I reckon, but Papa just says much obliged, ma’am. Told us in the wagon going home everybody knew old Widow Brantley, liked to tell stories to scare

folks, but I did wonder how come the place’d ended up empty for years and Papa got it all dirt cheap--meaning the dirt was cheap and nothing for the house--and I did see lights up in an upstairs windows sometimes, like moonlight but not always when the moon was up. Two-three days after he hollered the bad word, Papa looks up from his eggs and grits and declares, "Laura." "Say what?" "Her name's Laura." "What name?" "The thorn bush. You told me ask its name was the next I seen it. It's Laura." "It's a girl bush, Papa?" "Seem like it, honey. Lau-ra." "That's crazy," says Mama. "The Lord ain't named Laura." "Due respect to Moses," says Papa, "this time it might be somebody else." Then Mama says humph like she does when she don't like what she hears, and then humph again, and we all chewed on our breakfast for a while till she found her tongue. "What else it say?" "Beg pardon?" “Well, Ben Hurt, the next time you see her, if you see her, pull off your boots and ask the poor lady what she wants. Spirits don’t just light up a hen yard for nothing. She must need you to fetch something.” “Sho. Sho I will. Purty little thing too--” “You seen her?” “Well,” says Papa, looking away, “not what you’d call clear as day. But it was somebody in the fire looking out at me, showing up clear enough to see she was a--a well-growed woman.” “What was she wearing?” “If I see her again, I’ll ask what she wants. Uh-huh. I’ll do that for you, Mama.” That afternoon I walked all around the thorn bush looking at it. It was the same as always, sharp and twisted. A big old bush, fat at the bottom with dead limbs all in with the live ones. Pointy yellow leaves was just starting to fall after the other trees done give up. It was a mule-headed old bush leaning over me daring me to touch it, the last thing in the world from a dead white lady. “What was she wearing?” “If I see her again, I’ll ask what she wants. Uh-huh. I’ll do that for you, Mama.” That afternoon I walked all around the thorn bush looking at it. It was the same as always, sharp and twisted. A big old bush, fat at the bottom with dead limbs all in with the live ones. Pointy yellow leaves was just starting to fall after the other trees done give up. It was a mule-headed old bush leaning over me daring me to touch it, the last thing in the world from a dead white lady. Papa was het up to see her again, I know, cause he woke me three times that night, but seem like she didn’t care to light up, not that night or the next one. It was maybe a week later, and he was sopping ribbon cane on a slice of cornbread cause we run out of flour for biscuits, and Papa looks up and says, “Well, now I know.” “Know what?” “What she wants.” “That bush? You talked to her?” “Uh-huh. We had us a good little talk last night.” Papa’s sweet, but he can be mean sometimes. He took a big bite.

“Well, she’s dead and right mad. Not at me. Used to stay here.” Mama watched him take another bite and like to spit. We done figured all that out. “And she wants me to dig her up.” “Humph.Well, where is she?” “In the dirt, I reckon. Ask me to dig her up and tell somebody, that’s all. Just tell somebody. Said she’ll pay me good.” “Pay you? That don’t make no sense.” “Well, it’s what the lady said.” Papa looked off and smiled. “She was right clear this time.” So he went out back with a pick and shovel and commenced chopping around the old bush, aggravating the chickens. Like I said, Papa wasn’t young, but he wouldn’t let me help, so it was slow work, digging a ditch around the old bush close as he could get without getting stuck. When he got down to roots, he chopped them off with the ax on both sides so he could dig deeper and cut the bush loose. I brought him water and sat watching, but Papa said it was man’s work, even times when he had to stop and breathe, cough and spit, before he could dig a little more. I took to wondering, even if Old Joe made it through the winter, if Papa was up to plowing sixteen acres in the spring and what we’d do for money next year since the whole county done lost a cotton crop to the dry summer and boll weevils and all and we barely made corn. We owned the old farm free and clear, but we’d have to go to the store for seed, and another bad year was all it would take for Mr. Bentley to come after the farm, haint house and all. It got so bad Papa let me chop roots and dig some when he saw I could get in close, and I was out with him next day when it pitched over. He’d been talking about Old Joe pulling up the stump when we cut it loose, wondering how to get a plow line in through the thorns, but like I said, the old bush had a lean to it, and Papa was chopping a root on the other side when it cracked and rolled over at me. I reckon she did it, but she didn’t mean no harm. It come over slow, popping little roots, so I had plenty time to get back and see what done reared up. Laura was tied up in the root ball like string round a package, a hand and half a leg maybe all that was missing. She was dirt-colored bones with paper rags of dry skin but no old cloth, and long hair still on her skull and wrapped like a yellow rope all around her neck. She was grinning at us, proud to be cut loose, I reckon. And in her arms, tied up in the roots like she was, there was a rusty old iron box. Papa and me was hollering, so Mama had come out there before he hit it with the shovel, and it busted open, spilling a peck of gold and silver in the hole. “See, Mama,” says Papa. “She said she’d pay me good.” Papa reckoned he done kept his promise to tell folks, telling Mama and me, so he counted the money in a bucket and knocked Laura back in the hole and covered her up. The old thorn bush he poured coal oil on, burned it for good this time. The coins he buried in coffee cans under the house, saying if we took out a mite now and then, it’d last a spell, but we did get real coffee and flour and new shoes, and Old Joe did die that winter, so we got us a young mule. Papa still couldn’t plow but nine acres, but he did hire Booker down the road to whitewash the house, and this summer he came courting, and he’s patching the plaster upstairs so we can stay there now that we got married. Next spring, when Papa has a spell of rheumatism, Booker can plow.

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2



Elizabeth Byrnes Mixed Media

Temporality by

Rory Sullivan Radio “I haven't heard this in years,” you say, Turning up the volume and dropping the windows. I look over and wonder who you're with When you close your eyes.

Absence I'm holding you as we pull at each other, Finding that close contact we desperately need. In the bed's empty space There's an absence That caresses my back; I feel fingers In the cold night's air.

Cut “Just take some off above the ears And be sure to thin it out on top.” The scissors snip, and the last dead bits of me That you had touched Flutter to the floor.

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


That’s Where Nino Sits O

n the day Amy and I moved in to our new house my friend Charles asked me about the three-legged stool in our back yard. “What the hell is that doing there?” he asked, taking a casual swig from his beer. I shrugged my shoulders. “That’s where Nino sits,” I said. As soon as it left my mouth, I wondered what it meant. Nino? Charles said nothing. He took another swig from his beer. The stool sat perfectly centered in a bed of flowers planted between two trees in the back corner of our quarter acre lot. It was not a fancy stool by any means. It looked like three roughly whittled sticks roughly attached to a chunk of log about three inches thick and one foot in diameter. It looked like it was made by a child. It was an odd ornament for the yard, but it didn’t seem out of place. It really just seemed to want something on it. At any rate, Amy thought the stool was cute, so we left it there. It seemed like nothing more than a lawn ornament until a few months later when we got Rolfe, our Labrador puppy. He was five months old when we got him, and he took to following me everywhere, inside the house and out. In the back yard, though, he always seemed to gravitate towards the stool. A game of fetch never lasted more than a few throws before he would loose interest and wander over to the stool, where he would drop the ball and lie down, panting happily as though someone was stroking his fur.


ne time, just to see what would happen, I kicked the stool over while he was lying beside it. He reacted as if I had eaten out of his food bowl. My goofy, happy, playful dog snarled and barked at me like a junkyard Rottweiler. I yelled at him, but he paid no attention. He was pushing the stool up with his nose, trying to get it upright. At that point, I noticed our next-door neighbor, Norm, standing at the fence. We hadn’t formally met, so I went over and introduced myself. He shook my hand, but continued to look past me absently at the dog. “He likes that stool too, huh?” He asked, gesturing toward Rolfe. “Yeah, he seems to. I guess it’s a nice cool spot to lay.” “I’ve been living next door to this place for fifteen years, and as long as I’ve been here that three-legged stool has been right there in that spot.” 145

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“I think it looks pretty nice there.” “Yeah? So did the last people who lived here, and the people before them. I was raking leaves with a guy once -- oh, I guess it was two owners ago. Good guy. We used to fish together. We bagged that thing and took it out to the curb, but the next time I came out here the stool was sitting right where it always had been. Spooked the hell out of me for some reason. Turned out that his wife got mad at him and made him fish it out of the garbage. I don’t know why it spooked me so bad.” At the time, the story made no sense to me. “What’s that got to do with my dog?” “I don’t know, but every dog that’s ever lived in this house has loved that spot. There were two beagles here before you, and they both used to lie there by that stool for hours on end. It was the only time those dang dogs were ever quiet.” I looked over at Rolfe, lying happily beside the stool. His tongue hung sideways from his gaping mouth, his head was up, and his ears were drawn back in an attitude of sheer contentment. The phrase repeated in my mind: “That’s where Nino sits.” The neighbor’s five-year-old daughter, came up to the gate just then and pointed sheepishly at Rolfe. “Can I pet your dog?” she asked. I could think of no reason to say no, except that Rolfe’s customary greeting was a wild-eyed, playful, slobbery, full-body tackle. At that moment, though, Rolfe was doing nothing but lying in his favorite spot in the yard, in the shade of the big maple, next to the three-legged stool. I followed nervously as Katy walked over and patted him twice on the head. I marveled at his composure. If we had been out walking or even if we’d been inside the house, he would not have laid so still as a child approached him. On walks, I had to struggle with him so kids could pet him without being loved to death. When he was by the stool, though, Rolfe was a different dog. “Do you know what that is?” Katy asked when she stood up. “Do I know what what is?” I asked. “That!” She exclaimed, pointing. “It’s a three-legged stool.” I replied. “No,” she shook her head at me. I looked again at where she was pointing, and saw nothing but the stool. “What is it then?” I asked, smiling. “Is it a car?” She giggled and shook her head.

By Tom Conway “Is it a boat?” She shook her head again. “Is it an elephant?” “No, silly, it’s a stool.” “That’s what I said.” She nodded and smiled. “Yeah, but you know what else?” “What else?” “That’s where Nino sits.” I was too surprised at that point to say anything intelligent, or to ask any questions. I just stood there with my mouth hanging open trying to recall if I’d ever spoken the phrase out loud where she might have heard me. “I thought so,” was my only response. She giggled at me and sat down next to the dog.


t may have been something about the piano that brought about the next incident. Amy was playing one gloomy Saturday afternoon and I looked out the back window towards the stool. A moment earlier, I swear, I had looked out and the stool was empty, but now a young blonde-haired boy in jeans and a red jacket was sitting on it petting Rolfe. I was just about to say something to Amy, but the phone rang. I turned away o answer it, and when I looked back the boy was gone. “Amy,” I asked as she hung up the phone. “Do you believe in ghosts?” “No,” she said, “but you look like you’ve seen one. What’s the matter?” “Did you see a boy sitting out in the yard just now?” “No.” “Are you sure? He was just there a minute ago.” “So? He was probably one of the neighbor kids.” I muttered an agreement and tried to accept that explanation, but couldn’t. I had never seen that particular child in the neighborhood before. The whole thing just seemed wrong somehow. I felt uneasy and my heart pounded in my chest. I was afraid, but I wasn’t sure why. Amy’s explanation made sense, but I still felt spooked. There were several other strange occurrences after that, starting with the very next morning. It was an eerie morning, to begin with, and there was a thin haze covering everything like a three-dimensional shroud. I was walking Rolfe towards the gate in the back of our yard, which led to a short footpath and then out to the main road. As we ap-

proached the gate, I saw the same boy preceding us through it. He looked perfectly normal: blond hair, blue jeans, red jacket. My immediate conclusion was that he was indeed one of the neighbor’s kids and was simply cutting across our yard on his way to the main road. But as with the previous sighting something felt wrong. It was hazy, but visibility was not all that bad. I could clearly make out trees that stood at least 50 yards away, yet the boy seemed to materialize from the haze just five or six yards in front of me. How had I failed to spot that red jacket sooner? My mind was doing somersaults to explain what my eyes were seeing, but nothing was making any sense. Rolfe, meanwhile, was leaping and panting and pulling at the leash. He had obviously seen the same thing I had. I jerked him back towards me quickly. My hackles were up, and I suddenly felt very afraid. Then the boy turned and beckoned to me, or to Rolfe, with his finger. His expression was casual and friendly, as if I was a friend or schoolmate, but I found myself wanting to scream nonetheless. I tried to tell myself there was nothing to fear, that this was just some trespassing kid, but the recesses of my brain sent a loud message that he was beckoning me to my death. A scream began to rise in my gut, but it died in my throat with a pathetic whimper. The dog, meanwhile, was pulling me frantically forward. I dropped the leash and let him go, turning tail for the house. I heard the wind kick up and in it I imagined the sound of a billion screeching demons. I expected to wake up safely in my bed, as I always had before when this feeling had arisen, but this was no nightmare. I didn’t think I would make it to my back door, but I did. Once I was inside I turned and looked back at where I had been. The gate was shut. The dog was at the door. The boy was gone. The haze seemed to be lifting. My goosebumps faded slowly, almost pulsing as they did. I stood frozen in the middle of the kitchen for a moment, afraid to step forward and open the door to let the dog in. I felt as if I’d seen a murder, but all I’d seen was a little boy. I shook my head to clear it, and felt a wave of embarrassment replace the fear. It was just a boy. A boy who was now convinced, undoubtedly, that his neighbor was completely insane. I turned and walked back upstairs to get ready for work, leaving the dog barking outside. When I came back down a half an hour later the sun had risen higher in the sky and the daytime had legitimately begun. The dog lay in his

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accustomed spot by the three-legged stool in the back yard. The phrase came to me once again: “That’s where Nino sits.” I never told my wife or any of our friends why, but from that day forward I always took Rolfe out the front door when I walked him in the morning.


he gravel driveway ran behind all of the houses on our street to a mostly abandoned farm. The legends surrounding the farm were many; but the only thing that was known for certain was that it had never been developed. During our first few months in the neighborhood, Amy and I started to get to know some of the neighbors. The farm was a constant topic of conversation among us. It was said that the man who owned the farm was in jail, or that he had died without a will and his family couldn’t agree on what to do with the land, or that the government had seized the property some years ago, and it would someday become the site of a regional park or a new library. In the mean time, the land was allegedly being cared for by the man in the house at the end of our street. He was said to be some sort of government agent who owned a lot of guns. It was said that this guy had served in some branch of the armed forces with the property’s owner, or that he and the owner were both part of some sort of clandestine government organization, or that he was “stationed” there by the Department of Justice, or the Department of Defense, or the Department of Homeland Security to watch over the land. Norm speculated that the guy had simply taken it upon himself protect the property and took advantage of the owner’s absence to use the land to hunt, fish, and walk his two Rottweilers, since no one was there to object and he had more guns than anyone else. Whatever the truth was, no one knew the man well enough or felt comfortable enough in his presence to ask him for the facts. He kept to himself, and he was widely regarded as a dangerous nut. As to why the owner of the property would be in jail, that was also a matter of speculation. Some said that he was in jail for tax evasion, but one young couple on our street was told by their home’s previous owners that the man was really in jail for killing his wife and son. There were other stories as well. One old couple that had moved out of a house bordering the farm had told our neighbors that the farm’s owner had been building a house on the property for his wife and child when he was arrested. The foundation is still there, visible on a spot of muddy ground just beyond the end of the street. A mobile home stands nearby, where it was said the family intended to live during construction. After the alleged arrest, the wife and son went away. For a while another family lived there, apparently renters, but they moved out shortly after some sort of incident involv147

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ing an ambulance and several police cars. It was said that a teen-aged boy had often been seen walking down the driveway to the school bus stop on the main road prior to the incident, but after that day he was not seen again. Several neighbors said that the boy killed himself in the woods while his parents were in the house fighting. Norm and Michelle, our next-door neighbors, who had been living in the neighborhood longer than anyone else within our immediate circle, both claimed that they had heard a shot that evening. Gunshots are frequent on the farm, however, coming from presumably authorized people who use the land for deer hunting and target practice. There were also many stories of odd noises and lights coming from the farm late at night, but most of us had the suspicion that there was nothing ghostly about them. The farm, after all, was sandwiched in the middle of a suburban neighborhood and was located just down the road from the local high school. It was easily accessible, isolated, dark, and it bordered on the river, all of which made it a perfect spot for groups of kids to sneak off to and drink or make out, though no one ever actually saw any kids there. Just as likely, and along the same lines, was the possibility that people who knew the farm’s owner or his trusty caretaker camped on the property occasionally. And then there were the rumors that it wasn’t a farm at all, but the site of several cold-war era missile silos, which still housed nuclear warheads. At any rate, it was a curious place, and we enjoyed discussing it. No one knew anything for certain, except that it was a beautiful piece of land and could serve everyone much better as a park.


n February of that year, Amy and I learned that she was pregnant with our first child. Two months later, on a sunny afternoon in early spring, things got really weird. At first, Katy was playing happily the yard while Norm and I watched her from opposite sides of the fence. The dog was, as always, jumping and barking at Katy from my side, hoping for an opportunity to join in the play. Katy was running all over the yard like some sort of kung fu ballerina, waving a stick over her head and twirling energetically and somewhat gracelessly. Occasionally, she would leap, spin, and kick her leg up in the air in what was either a roundhouse kick or a leaping dance step of some kind. Then, suddenly, her play became more animated. She began waving the stick as if she were sword fighting. Norm and I looked at each other and laughed. The volume of the dog’s barking increased. She was laughing and running and swinging the stick, the pantomime so animated that it was easy to imagine someone was swinging back at her. “That’s quite an imagination,” I said, as she ducked an imaginary blow and stabbed out with her weapon.

“Too much Peter Pan,” her dad said. “Yeah, she’s a nut,” Norm said. “Yesterday she was a dinosaur all day, stomping around the house and roaring, then she came out here and decided to be a dog. Michelle wasn’t happy about the grass stains on her new jeans.” The battle continued. She swung the stick a few times in a short arc, then pulled back and thrust while ducking from an imagined blow, then she ran squealing around the yard for a while before stopping and once again confronting her foe. Norm and I continued our conversation as she played. The dog ran back and forth along the fence barking. In hindsight, he seemed a little frantic about the goings on, but that was hardly unprecedented so I thought nothing of it. Then, suddenly, I saw Katy lose her footing and collapse in a screaming heap by the fence, flailing her arms as if something were attacking her. My first thought, as Norm ran to her aid, was that she was having a seizure, but as soon as Norm got his arms around her and picked her up, the thrashing abated and she hugged her father tightly. But she continued screaming and sobbing. “Are you okay, honey?” Norm kept asking, trying to pull her clinging body away from his neck long enough to examine her for marks or bruises. She kept her face buried in his shoulder and her arms wrapped tightly around his neck. He came back towards where I was standing and I could see a red mark on her upper arm. It was long and slender and in the center the skin was broken slightly. It was obviously going to become a rather nasty bruise. It looked like she’d been hit with a pole. “What is that, Norm?” I asked him. He never looked up at me. “What happened, honey?” he asked her. Her screams faded into loud sobbing. “Nino turned into a monster, Daddy.” The answer startled me. Then, I noticed the dog. He was crouched menacingly in the back corner of the yard, facing where Katy had fallen, and he was growling angrily. All of the hairs on his head and back were standing straight in the air. Norm and I just stood there watching, wondering what was going on. Katy lifted her head from his shoulder for just a moment. She clutched Norm’s neck and her mouth dropped open. “He’s still there!” She clutched Norm’s neck in a death grip and started screaming. The commotion began moving closer to us. Rolfe was still barking and growling and trying to jump, dig, or bite his way past the fence. As he did he began heading quickly towards where we were standing, his bark directed at something that had to be moving towards us. We backed away, but were too confused to know whether we needed to run. Katy’s screams grew and became more and more horrible. Norm clutched her tight and watched as the dog jumped back and forth at the fence, his mouth foaming. Rolfe was getting nearer and nearer to

get at whatever he saw on the other side of the fence. “I’m going inside,” Norm said, backing slowly towards the house. Michelle, Norm’s wife, suddenly appeared on the deck as Katy’s screams became absolutely death-like. The dog was in a frenzy, and I began moving towards him to pull him away, wondering if perhaps it was him that was scaring Katy. At that moment, I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye and froze. Whatever it was had been moving quickly towards Norm, but when I tried to look directly at it, I again saw nothing. Then Katy let loose an unprecedented blood-curdling scream and she began trying to squirm free of Norm. The dog ran headfirst into the fence, and then tore away one of the pressure treated pickets with his teeth. He began to tear at the fence like a pit bull, pulling pickets loose from the bottom of one small section. Suddenly Norm fell, as Katy had before, and his screams, as well as Michelle’s, joined in the commotion. Rolfe finally managed to squeeze through the fence and he dashed to where Norm lay on top of Katy, trying to protect her from something none of us could see. I stood staring like an idiot, as Rolfe rushed forward and then was propelled suddenly back. Katy screamed and cried, but seemed to watch closely as the dog darted off across Norm and Michelle’s yard like he feared for his life. Several times he yelped and jumped forward as if being grabbed at from behind. He made one long lap to the back of the yard and came partway back up the fence on the other side before he suddenly went down and rolled, biting ferociously at the air. He growled, barked, and let out a loud yelp, then tried to crawl towards where I stood, but seemed to be held from behind. He barked at me again, yelped in pain and fell to the ground. Several bloody gashes opened on his back. At that point Amy came out onto our deck, and Rolfe suddenly stopped struggling and bolted back towards our fence. The commotion stopped. Katy’s screams faded to loud sobs. Rolfe came back to where Norm and I were standing and took a menacing stance in front of us facing the back of the yard. Norm began to head nervously for his back door, and Rolfe stood guard as he did. I turned to Amy, fearing what might happen next, and tried to wave her back into the house. “What’s happening?” she asked. “Did Rolfe do something to Katy?” I had no idea how to respond. My suspicion was that Rolfe had, in fact, saved Katy’s life, and probably Norm’s too, but I had no idea how I was going to explain all of this to Amy, who had seen none of it. I turned and jogged to the deck, looking back constantly over my shoulder. Rolfe had calmed down and was now trying to squeeze his way back through the fence. I tried my best to explain it all to Amy, but couldn’t make it make sense. She had seen the tail end of the commotion, though, so she wasn’t overly inclined to skepticism, and she could see the physical evidence. The gashes on Rolfe’s

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back would require dozens of stitches. I made up a creative story for the vet about lawn tools dropped from a ladder in order to get him fixed up. While I took the dog to the vet, she went next door and make sure everything was okay. Norm and Katy both had some pretty serious bruises as a result of the attack. The bruises on Norm’s right leg, in fact, actually looked like they might have been made by human teeth, although the mouth that made them would have been very large. It was a mere two or three hours later, as Amy and I debated dinner plans, that I saw the boy again. I tugged Amy’s sleeve and pointed, and for the first time she saw him as well. He couldn’t have been more than six or seven, and he was wearing blue jeans and a red jacket. The boy was crying hysterically at Rolfe, who was frantically and angrily chewing, biting and tearing the three-legged stool to pieces. I moved toward the back door, wondering if this child was real. It seemed that Rolfe didn’t even know he was there. I wondered, if the thing that attacked Norm was present, why it hadn’t yet come after Rolfe. I stepped to the door, afraid that this other child might be in danger as well from the monster, assuming that he was, in fact, a child. My mind replayed the previous sightings, but the child had never looked this young and hadn’t been bawling like a baby in the middle of the yard. I had no idea what to do. I could feel Amy’s expectant eyes at my back and I knew I had to do something, but I felt a twinge of nervousness at leaving my pregnant wife alone in the house. I opened the door slowly and felt a cold chill run up my spine as I did it. Rolfe looked up at me, then he came running towards me barking. The last thing I remember seeing before being knocked unconscious was the small child beckoning to me with his finger. I woke up on my kitchen floor with Amy hovering over me while a paramedic took my pulse. Rolfe lay protectively at my feet, his eyes wide open, scanning every movement beyond the sliding glass door.


e decided then that moving might not be such a bad idea, though we weren’t sure how we could. We had gone hugely into debt to buy the house. Most of our friends were still renting apartments closer to the city, but we were anxious to start a family, and had gone out of our way to find jobs out in the suburbs to save on commuting time. We were determined to live in a good community, and to have a nice-sized piece of land, so we bought a single-family home that cost $100,000 more than we could really afford. The payments were high, but we were making them, and we loved the house. On top of that, I wasn’t sure I could put a house on the market knowing that it might be dangerously haunted? What if someone was killed? But then, what if one of us was killed? In this case, I 149

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thought, self preservation has to win out. In their fifteen years in the neighborhood, Norm and Michelle had never seen or heard of anything like this happening. None of the other neighbors had either. Several of the neighbors, though, remembered a boy fitting my description, including Norm. I can’t say I was surprised to hear it. From that day forward no one much ventured out into the back yard except Rolfe, and even he stopped going much beyond the deck, except when he had to relieve himself. Norm and I still had to mow the lawns, of course, but we did it very quickly and only on very bright and sunny days, not that that was necessarily any protection, but it made us feel safer. Rolfe always followed closely as I mowed. That routine lasted through June, July and August without incident. In fact, other than a few sightings of the boy, there was no sign of anything odd at all. Then came the storm. It was early September, and there was nothing unusual about a thunderstorm. The wind was blowing hard, bending the trees in the backyard practically to the ground. The first loud clap of thunder sent Rolfe scurrying to hide under the coffee table. At first, the sounds outside didn’t seem particularly unusual; just a lot of whistling wind, snapping branches, and assorted creaks and groans. But as the storm grew in intensity, the noises began to sound a good deal more violent, as if entire trees were being blown repeatedly into the back of our house. My immediate assumption was that we were in the middle of a tornado, so I got Rolfe and Amy and sent them into the crawlspace while I searched frantically for flashlights and candles. Before I joined them I saw the sliding glass door shatter and heard another window crash inward upstairs. It sounded as if the shingles were being torn from the roof sheet by sheet, and I could see a piece of our siding lying on the deck. I rushed down to Amy and the dog and we stayed in the crawlspace laying together on a disassembled cardboard box until the storm finally subsided, after six long hours, at four in the morning. When I went out to survey the damage the next morning Rolfe refused to join me. He stood at the kitchen door and watched, his hackles up, as I did a circuit of the house. In addition to the two windows and a large chunk of siding, the roof was indeed torn to shreds, one railing of the deck had come down, we lost two trees in the yard, the fence had been breached in two places, and the gutters had been twisted like a highway guardrail after being hit by an 18-wheeler. No other house in the area reported any damage from the storm other than a few fallen branches. In fact, our neighbors said it really hadn’t even been that big a storm. The rest of that day the dog refused to go out in the yard, electing, to my dismay, to do his business on the floor. We resolved that it was time to move, but selling the house was now going to be a good deal more difficult. To make matters worse, that night Rolfe woke up barking at the bed-

room window. I awoke groggily, in what I thought was a pool of sweat, to see the face of that same young, blond boy staring at me from behind the second-floor glass. Amy was just awakening when I screamed. “Honey,” she said, not seeming to notice my panic. “I think my water broke.” I all but forgot about the boy in the window. I threw on some jeans, got Amy’s bags together, grabbed my keys and headed for the door. Amy never moved from the bed. “Oh, God, there’s no time,” she groaned. “Just call 911. ” I called 911 and stood there like an idiot while they tried to give me instructions on what to do. It really was too late. The paramedics were on their way to our house for the second time in two weeks, this time to deliver a baby.


he hours that followed were a confused, emotional blur. The paramedics showed up, and so did Norm and Michelle to see what the commotion was about. I held Amy’s hand as she screamed at the top of her lungs. The paramedics kept speaking in calm, deliberate voices and actually seemed to be enjoying themselves. I was in a panic, desperately trying to get my racing mind under control. I glanced over to the window and watched a light breeze ruffle the curtains. “That sounds like the boy that used to walk down the path behind your house to the bus every day.”

Then I saw the boy. He was standing at the foot of the bed smiling at Amy. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to let go of Amy’s hand, and most of all I didn’t want to loose control. I just sat there at Amy’s side as the paramedics delivered our son, aware that they had not noticed the boy at all. I watched in fascination and horror, but did not make a sound as the boy walked over, touched the baby’s forehead, and vanished. We never did move to a new house. It’s been five years since that day, and there has not been a single event that has seemed even remotely supernatural. The farm is still there and the rumors abound, but there have been no more mysterious happenings. As for the little boy, I don’t know what to think. I don’t know whether he was some sort of tortured spirit or a demon or a ghost. I don’t know if it was the boy or some other force that attacked Norm and Katy in their back yard. All I know is that nothing unusual has happened since the birth of my son and for that I am grateful. It makes me more than a little nervous, however, when I look out into the yard at my five-year old, blondehaired son and see him petting the dog while sitting in his plastic kid-sized chair, which he has placed in exactly the spot where the three-legged stool used to stand. We’ve had no problems, behavioral or otherwise, with our son. He’s been nothing but a joy to Amy and I, but he loves that spot in the yard, and he absolutely will not allow me to move that chair.

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Man Beard Mirror Spectrum Richard Vyse Mixed Media

Separation For my sister Patterns set like garden rows planted six inches apart and rotated, starting with spring radishes, arugula and kale.

Two by

Heidi Seaborn

Patterns unbroken like dishes stacked on kitchen shelves, cups and glasses near the sink, plates and bowls left of the stove. The order set long ago in the fatigue and exuberance of that first day in the dreamed house, surviving a renovation, kids pilfering for their own beginning. A percussive household rhythm of laundry on Sunday evenings, folded after dinner in front of the TV, of Friday nights with friends, Saturday yard work then dinner in town, twice a month house cleaning, quarterly financial reviews, annual trips to Europe. What happens now? Keep the familiar as it slows, a car easing along the gravel drive, tires roll the rutted grooves come to halt in the garage. Lights off. Or tomorrow stay up all night. Watch the moon shift across the scarred sky. Fill a bowl with hot milk and espresso to greet the sunrise as if you lived in Paris. In the afternoon I will come with my garden gloves to help tear through the thicket left from a marriage rooted in routine. We’ll plant coneflower, forget me nots, gloriosa, harvest the winter’s honeycomb as the bees hum a patient wait for the plum trees’ first breath of spring.


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In Memoriam

Chewuch River Valley, Okanogan County Firefighters died here swallowed by a fire that skipped borders, shouldered roads, bridged rivers, flicked, flamed, licked its way across ranches, farms and fishing cabins, leaving a black streak like tar smeared by the hand of God. Fields of flamboyant pink fireweed bloom from gnarled, charred hunks and seared earth. In time, wild roses, chaparral grow beneath clutches of aspens. Light sifts through ripe green leaves. Scorched ponderosa trees remain blackened fingers in the cloudless sky.

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Tres Seaver

Song Writing in the ‘Burg


Country / Singer-songwriter

Local Musicians and Lyricists Share Insights into Process and Craft Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Tres Seaver, a local musician who writes his own music and has facilitated various workshops and music events for many years here in Fredericksburg. He currently hosts the Fredericksburg Songwriters’ Showcase, most recently held at LibertyTown Arts on October 28, 2016. It was his story that was the impetus for the reflections on songwriting that follow. You will find that each musician in this series has his or her own way of reaching for the right words, but you’ll also read about the commonalties that universally accompany strong writing, be it lyrical, narrative, or poetic. Many of the stunning performance photographs for this piece were provided by local photographer and musician Jim Williams. Enjoy.


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Jim Williams

Songwriting is a bit like poetry and the other arts, except it’s even more ephemeral. You kind of abandon a poem when you think it’s done in some written form and you’ve published it. The thing with a song that’s really different is that the written song isn’t the end goal; it’s the performance. Songs that I feel like I successfully finish, more often than not, start with a lyrical idea. On the other hand, I’ve got about 20 to 25 unfinished pieces that are effectively melodies in search of lyrics. Overall, I finish more of the ones I start lyrically. I am pretty pleased with the composition of some of the melodic pieces; it’s just I don’t feel they’re complete without the lyric over it. I’ve managed to retrofit three of them within the last ten months that started out as melody without lyrics. So this, in my mind, is the big difference. I don’t call what I’m doing poetry because it has to be able to fit the melody, the audience. I have to be able to stand up in front of people and be able to play it. In my mind, when I hear the song, there actually needs to be music behind it, a drum kind and probably a stand-up bass or bass guitar. That makes it ready for performance.

Brittany Frompovich

Musician / Lady Bass Music Music Educator / Lady Bass Gear

Rock / Jazz / Funk / Singer-songwriter

B. Hill

f Usually song ideas come to me quite suddenly when they show up. I'm that person that has the “hold up, hang on” moment, stops everything that is going on (if possible), and reaches for a notebook or a iPhone to start capturing what's going through my brain. The triggers for that vary; I may be processing events in my life, feelings, or working through a reaction. Sometimes I'm just singing playfully while doing work around the house and I have some good lyric ideas tumble out. When I was younger, the lyrics showed up first about 95 percent of the time. These days, the music and lyrics trade off pretty equally in terms of what shows up first for me. I've increased my output of instrumental music over the years, so that shift makes sense. Very, very, rarely am I lucky enough to have a complete song tumble out all at once. That's extremely rare though. More often than not, sections of songs tend to show up and get written down. Because that happens, I have a “song junkyard”. This is basically a chest of drawers with notebooks full of lyrics that have accumulated over the years. When I'm working on a song, and I get stuck, I go in the “junkyard” to see what other ideas have accumulated there. Maybe something in the junkyard will work as another section of the song I am currently working on. I also do the same thing with chord progressions and melodies....in that case, I use a recorder or a video camera. I just record everything that comes to me so I can refer to it at a later date as needed. Also, since sections of songs are what tend to show up, I'm big on reviewing, writing, and rewriting. I usually use pads of paper, like a legal pad, so I can experiment with an idea in multiple drafts over a few pages...sometimes creating multiple versions to work with at the same time. I also try to include a lot of detail that allows the listener to “see” the story of the song in their mind. For example, a car figures into the story line of one of my songs. However, I don't just say the main character has a car. That's too general. The lyric I use is “a Mustang, red, a '73.” With that line, the listener is able to visualize much more detail about the main character and what kind of person she may be. This invites the listener to connect with the song and the characters in it.

Ashleigh Chevalier Musician

Blues / Rock

Jim Williams

I began singing classically at age 6 and writing my own songs on acoustic guitar when I was 11. I didn't commit to performing original music live until I was 23 when my heart and soul discovered I connected deeply with the blues, the root of my live performances, lyrical development and songwriting. The first popular cover song I ever performed live was Give Me One Reason by Tracy Chapman. At that point, I wasn't even sure of what the blues were or what they meant - to my soul, to history, to Americana, to the world. It is interesting, it started there, and I didn't even know it. When it comes to writing - I flow with inspiration - emotional/lyrical/environmental/aural/spiritual/ chakral I jam all the time - on my guitar and the keys. and even on drums - and experiment with chord progressions, grooves, riffs, and melodies. I developed my performance style with a live band by risking myself in improvisational settings. I learned a lot this way - it stretches my musical foundation and ear development. The key for me is not to stress or over strategize a song and lose authenticity - rather experiment and grow withe lessons the music teaches me. For me, songs often find themselves simultaneously: lyrically and musically, after I have been working. Dynamics develop the right way more and more when I rehearse with the band and perform it live - sometimes dynamics are determined by the audience present. Sometimes - we flow the other way. Technical practice improves the dynamic of what I can accomplish musically - I hear more than I produce in many cases. I am actively developing my technical skills on the variety of instruments I play - always much work to be done here. Music is a canyon; I feel as if I am on a small gnat sized hang glider flying through.


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

James Noll / James Nrml

Musician /Lyricist / Sound Engineer

Rok Musiq

It all really depends on the project. All of my early stuff-the songs or lyrics I wrote for Clark’s Ditch and The Minus Men--tended to be a little zany for zaninesses sake. I was big into WEEN back then, and I tended to gravitate to going over the top. When Mark D and I wrote the music for the second BEEF JERKY album, I started to get a little more serious, though. I wrote an album titled The People You Call Your Friends are Not Really Your Friends a while back, and I remember writing the first half of the album with more of a focus on imagery and such. However, the second half of the album was based on David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. The lyrics were from the point of view of the main character(s) of each section. The lyrics for an album I did called A Knife in the Back were thematically linked to the novel I wrote with the same title. The novel is all horror short stories and a comedic horror novel, so the songs are about serial killers, nightmares, and vengeance, etc . . . When I wrote the music for the PULP! project, the songs and lyrics were all based on characters and plots from my short fiction and novels. And recently, I wrote a whole bunch of hard rock songs with poetic lyrics about sex, fire, and madness. So every song, no matter what, had to have one or more of those ideas in them. Pretty much in all cases, I come up with the music before I come up with the lyrics. Sometimes I’ll come up with a refrain or phrase I fit into a song, but usually the process is something like this: 1. I’ll wake up with a guitar line or a bass line in my head, or one will just come to me out of nowhere. Usually it’s in the morning, though. Sometimes it’ll come to me at night. So I’ll pick up my phone and whistle or hum into the Voice Memos app on my phone. 2. I’ll go over whatever I’ve come up with again and again for a few days in my head, coming up with variations on progressions or a bridge or some kind of alternate structure. Somewhere in there I’ll start to hear the melody-- what I’m supposed to sing. 3. Sooner or later I’ll sit down at my desk and record the guitar and bass lines to a click track. Then I record the drums over that. 4. I won’t come up with the actual lyrics until the whole song is done musically. If I’ve put constraints on it (like the “sex, fire, madness” rule for my latest round of songs), I stick to those. Otherwise, I try to make the lyrics fit the music. These days I’m more interested in using poetic devices in my lyrics (imagery, sound effects, figurative language). I guess that kind of sounds douchey, but I’m not trying to be. Especially when I’m writing about sex and fire, right?

Songwriters in the ‘Burg


I’ve been writing songs since I was eleven or twelve, about

the time I got my first guitar. Both of my parents wrote and sang, and it seemed like what you did to express yourself. I loved lyricists like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Kurt Cobain, and Thom Yorke. Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, and Jimmy Hendrix also wrote incredible lyrics. I loved how relatable and universal their themes were. I am a lifelong Shakespeare nut, so poetry and meter has always been important to me. I love alliteration and metaphor, and these songwriters seemed to translate ideas to their audiences so effectively. I listened to male and female songwriters, but it struck me that most of the women I listened to sung about love, and the men were left to religion, politics, and the realm of heady ideas. I decided young that I wouldn’t write love songs. When I moved to New York to attend NYU I joined SAPS, Song© Jim Williams writers and Performers Society, wherein every week we presented a new song for round table critique. My peers were helpful, insightful, and kind. A lot of the songs I still perform today were shaped by the idea that songwriting can and should be collaborative. Opening your work to the critique of others you respect strengthens said work, and opens the door for all kinds of artistic collaboration. Lyrics have always been the most important to me. I survived a traumatic childhood, and was never able to speak to others openly about my experiences. It felt too personal. I started studying Shakespeare at that time, and I was in awe of his ability to tell a story in images. Rather than literally describe the feelings, or the ideas, he used metaphor and poetry to instead translate an idea or an emotion. I began to relate my difficult and deeply personal story in metaphor, in images that translate an idea. I kept my lyrics intentionally vague, universal, because the events behind them were too painful to share outright. I was never allowed to tell my story in life, but here I could do it in song, and any way that I wanted. I would write a chord progression, and rather than write the lyrics first, I just sort of form an idea, or a feeling that I’d like to translate. I’m a chorus writer. I wake up in the middle of the night a lot with a chorus in my head, and just sing that on a loop until it fills itself out. Songwriting has always been how I make sense of the world, so when ideas pop into my head, it’s generally in song or lyrical phrase. The muse always whispers to me. I’ve learned to write it down or record it immediately. Those are gifts from the divine. Once I have a solid hook, I begin the process of writing the rest. I love the feel of words in my mouth, how alliteration can emphasize and idea and vice versa. So I tend to scat vocally over a chord progression until a story emerges. That way my literal experience doesn’t take precedence over the universal themes and ideas I’m trying to translate. I find that when I write music to suit lyrics it always sounds forced. Over the years I began to have the experience that people would ask me what a song meant to me, or was about to me, after relating what it was about to them. The meaning they would find in the song is often so different than mine, and I love that. The unexpected side-effect of sheltering my heart in my lyrics so young meant that others could find their experience in my words, make it their own, and feel comforted. It’s beautiful and amazing, and I feel my words are the way I help people through this world.

Jim Williams

Megan Jean

Musician Klay Family Band Gypsy / Americana

Songwriters in the ‘Burg


Karen Jonas

Musician Karen Jonas Band

Americana / Singer-songwriter

Jim Williams

I used to write entirely with guitar in hand, just sit down in a quiet place and spit out a whole song. Lately I haven’t had the time to do that, so I’ve found that if I scribble an outline and hum it into my phone, I can sit down with my guitar later and finish it. Sometimes I’ll mull over a song for days or weeks or months before I get around to finalizing it, like an extended editing period. I don’t do any forced songwriting sessions, I try to let ideas flow freely and have something in mind when I sit down to write.


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

I have been playing music in Fredericksburg since 1991. I have been in local punk reggae rock jazz bands: KASH, sore losers, Beef Jerky, Transmitters, Alpha Jerk, SkiffleLoungeSound, She’s Got Balls, Colonial Seafood... For me, songwriting is rooted in melody and strong emotion. I rarely plan to write a song. Often what happens is I’m taking a break from work, maybe because I heard a melody in my head, but usually I’m just strumming my ukulele and I fall into something that tickles or soothes the emotion I happen to be feeling. Sometimes I’ll record the idea on my phone, and sometimes I will drop everything I am doing and dive into the song and record a demo. I almost always compose the music of a song before I write lyrics. I may have a lyrical phrase or hook in mind when I first discover the musical phrase, but I always flesh out and refine the lyrics after the music.

Larry Hinkle

Musician /Various Bands Creator / Hinkle Ukelele

Punk / Reggae / Rock / Jazz

Erika V. Horn

Ralph Gordon Musician

Americana / Folk Country

I write daily as a part of practice, starting with a melody. I'll add lyric with a standard rhyme scheme, then I develop a story line and carve a song out from there. During the day, there's a partial lyric forming in the back of my mind and when I get home I will play around with it. I'll discard or change lyrics intermittently. I also create a song by adding a melody to a written poem, though I do not do this often, because it's easier to add lyrics to a note line. Occasionally the song emerges mostly formed with words and music and at times, it takes a narrative form. The most important part of a song to me is...if it tells a story, you have to have the imagery of the song. That's the element you'll convey to a listener along with the melody. Essential to song writing is keeping your inspiration focused. For example, blocking out daily elements is key to a productive song writing experience. If a segment of a song gets frustrating, back off and work on something else, then return to your song with fresh eyes. Don’t force a lyric if it’s chunky..Change it. There’s a fine line between your own worst critic, to critically creative songwriting.

Songwriters in the ‘Burg


Flight Boiis

Zane Landeck (Bandzz) Ahmad Spence (Jeuce)

Rap / Various

f When it comes to lyricism, The Flight Boiis have a couple different methods. First of all, you can give us any beat or instrumental and we’ll go foolish on it whether we’re creating a gospel song or a secular song. That is why we say as far as genres go, we don’t incorporate ourselves with any one genre. Back to lyricism, we can’t cover everything but here are a few different techniques that we use in the studio of The Flight Boiis. I’m Zane Landeck and you are about to enter into my mind of writing, so strap up. I honestly don’t remember half the stuff I spit when I’m free styling to myself and that’s probably most of my lyrics. If I like something that happens to come out, I’ll jot it down in a notebook even if it’s only three words, a punch line, or some wordplay. If I receive a beat that I dig, I’ll take some time to break it down and just establish a flow in my head with random words and play the beat over and over again non-stop. Once I’m comfortable with it, or even if I’m not, I’ll take some time to experiment with it and put some words down and think of a catchy chorus. I like to write about things people can relate to, and I want my lyrics to make people feel a certain way whether it’s uplifting, inspirational, deep, happy, or even humorous sometimes. A lot of times the title comes after the song is created as well. The title is an essential quality to a song, in my opinion. You want the people to be able to remember the name of a song and know how it goes as soon as you hear that name. My name is Ahmad Spence, the second half of the Flight Boiis. When it comes to writing lyrics I love to implement real life situations into my music because I feel like music shouldn’t be a false concept. If Zane were to bring a song to the studio then, ask me to give my verse and opinion on the song. The first thing I would look at would be the title. I would reminisce on how that subject relates to what I have been through in my lifetime. Then I would look at the beat because that is what is going to set the tone of the song, no matter if the song is happy, sad, exciting, or hype. On the other hand, if I started a song, first I would look at the beat as opposed to looking at the title first or the verse first. If I was to look at the verse first, the rhythm might not match up with the rhythm of the beat. Then I write the chorus and base the verses off the chorus and the same thing goes for the title. We’re on Facebook at Flight Boiis, and watch us perform live on YouTube at Flight Boiis or around Fredericksburg.


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Tim Garrett

Musician /Songwriter Acoustic Onion

Country / Rock / Singer-songwriter

Songs come to me just about every way possible. I’ve started with lyrics first, music first, or with just a story that needs to be told. I do try to write down ideas or (more often) single lines or short verses whenever they pop into my head. Often the lines come to me with a melody so I will just sing them into my phone’s recorder app. Then I pick up my guitar and find chords to fit the melody. Every now and then an idea will be so promising that I just run with it and build the whole song very shortly after the initial idea, but often they just sit and wait until I have a reason to run with them. Or…. while just piddling on my guitar, I’ll hit a riff or a chord progression that seems promising. Once I’ve gotten the guitar part fairly stable, I often just sing the first thing to pop into my head and run with it. In this freeform method, it takes a while before I even know what the song is about. Once it has a direction, the first verse written sometimes get moved back to second or third verse so that new lyrics can set up the story properly. I like Once I get to a certain point I start to record my song on a home computer, copy it to CD and listen to it in my car while doing my daily driving. I sing along and find new ways to phrase lyrics, or correct things that I don’t like (I’m not great at remembering lyrics, so sometimes I come up with better ones by just trying to sing along). Very little is sacred… I’ve changed a word or phrase years after I thought a song was “finished”. Modern computer recording (I use ProTools software) is great because it makes it fairly easy to make changes and try different arrangements. As an experiment, I once recorded an entire song without any lyrics, singing the melody as “lah lahs.” Then I went to my notes and just kept singing lines I had already written to the music I had recorded until I found a line that fit. This became my song “Friend of a Friend.” I like rhyming, and really like inter-line rhymes, where more than a couple of words in two lines rhyme. But I’m okay with free verse here and there if it makes the story better. I find that chasing a rhyme forces you to use different words or phrasing than you normally do, often making the line more memorable and interesting. I also like “hooks” (catchy lyrical or musical phrases that stick with the listener). Most songs start with a real story or feeling and then get embellished. Someone once heard “Blame it on the Bourbon” and asked me if I used to have a problem with liquor. I took that as a huge compliment. I don’t perform my own songs in public very often anymore although I do put some up on Reverbnation. com.

Songwriters in the ‘Burg


I’ve lived in or around Fredericksburg since I finished a hitch in the Navy in 1985. For the last five years or so I’ve spent a lot of my spare time photographing live local music. Nearly all of my song ideas come to me unbidden. Many of my best ideas come while I’m out in the woods engaged in wildlife photography. Others will pop into my head during my daily commute. I carry a small notebook most everywhere I go so that I can capture these ideas. So when I sit down to write the song I have the basic story in mind. I start with that, so often the chorus is the first thing I write. As I put the verses together, I will use mostly new lyrics that I think up right then, but I will also turn back to that notebook; sometimes another idea that I had somewhere will end up as a building block for a song rather than a new song in itself. I also save songs that I decide aren’t working, because sometimes scraps from those discarded songs will turn out to work really well as part of my new song. Given that I’m pretty new to songwriting I use pretty basic rhyming patterns. I’ve tried to experiment a bit outside of that but I haven’t gotten very far with it. I write all of the lyrics before figuring out the musical elements, although again I have some basic ideas in my head from the get-go such as “this will be a blues song with a slow sad feel”. After I work out the melody, key, and chords I run through the song a few times. After doing that I usually end up rewriting some of the lyrics, because it’s while singing it that I can really tell if it’s right and if any parts just aren’t telling the story the way I want to. Or if I simply used too many syllables to fit in the line! My rewrites almost always include cutting out part of what I initially wrote, because I tend to be too verbose and explain too much (can’t you tell?). Until a few years ago I had no experience in writing lyrics; my writing was generally dry prose in a report to somebody. Luckily I’ve had some good help with learning how to do this. A wonderful singer/songwriter in Dallas, Vanessa Peters, encouraged me to start writing and she has been a most helpful critic. I record my songs and send them to her, and she always gets back to me with good advice (including a rap on the knuckles when I need it!). (Oh, and buy her records; they’re great!) Likewise my guitar teacher, Kareem Darwish, is a great help with the musical side of songwriting. He guides me to trying new ways of structuring the music. This tends to feed back into the lyrics because it impacts the feel of the song. Initially all of my songs were based in some way on my own experiences, but lately I’ve been trying to get out of that box and tell stories that draw from sources outside of myself. I’m working now on a song that was inspired by an old newspaper cartoon.

Jim Williams Musician Photographer

Country Singer-songwriter

Erika May

Jim Williams

Emily Barker Solo Musician Eyes Like Birds

Americana Alt-pop Singer-songwriter

For me, a song most often starts with words. Something inspired by a mis-heard sentence, the horrors of the world/being human, or seemingly random things that come straight from the muse. Once I fit those words into some kind of song-like format, I try to add music. Now, I only learned how to play guitar so that I could have a way to communicate the songs I was writing. I have no interest in becoming a great instrumentalist (sorry bandmates!) and as a result, I’m barely proficient on anything that I play. I’m guessing this is why music comes second in my writing process. What I do is search for grooves and chord progressions that I can borrow, then try to come up with a melody that I pray doesn’t sound completely stolen. Trying to fit the words into the melody drives further lyric editing and nothing is precious; if a lyric doesn’t work it’s got to go. Unless I’m collaborating. Then there’s a whole ‘nother person and that person’s method to consider and the process becomes more of a give and take. Recently a friend of mine said that collaborations are my real writing process - at least now. That I keep seeking them out. Too true. Though I enjoy working alone, I relish a good collaboration and have worked with a few people in Fredericksburg - Tim Garrett, Haylee Hill, and my Eyes Like Birds bandmate, Jenna Kole. One of my favorite collaborations was with Dave Robinson, who sent me a stream of consciousness mind dump that he’d spit out during a trying time. I pulled out the words and phrases that struck me then listened to some musical ideas that he’d played - and that I’d recorded - for me during our first writing session. The song that came out of that is a cool Americana/Country ditty. Not everyone can work with a partner in creation like this, but I love it. There’s an energy during the exchange that’s hard to describe, but it’s like I can feel the song taking shape while my writing partner and I throw words and ideas around, and it’s such a victory when something just works and both writers say, “Yes! Write that down.”

Songwriters in the ‘Burg


Me and Don Baylor By Tommy Vollman


spent most of last night in a batting cage with Don Baylor. I got there on the train—the A uptown to West 4th, then the D to 42nd. Don Baylor just appeared; he walked up in his pinstripes and spikes, climbed in the cage, and swatted a dozen balls with his short, aborted stroke. In his hands, the bat was a toothpick; his cut more of a wood chop than a real swing. He was that kind of pro—he broke more rules than he followed. Still, he and I were there all alone, so after a few cycles, I asked him about my stance. He looked me over, smiled, and went back to his timing. I was in the cage, he was outside. He swung two bats at once, gripped together like Stargell and Parker—the real heavies— the big, lumber-company guys from the late 70s. He stood there in his make-shift on-deck circle and swung as the machine spit pitch after pitch to me. I was left-handed and he was a righty. With the cage set-up, I faced him, which was distracting as hell since there were doughnuts around the barrels of both his bats—one red, one white—that shifted with every swing. It was all thunk, thunk, thwap, over and over again. The doughnuts provide extra weight, but I wasn’t exactly sure how that helped his swing or his timing. But I wasn’t the big-leaguer; he was. With the distraction, I only hit about every other pitch, which was absolute shit for the batting cage. "Well?" I prodded. My cycle was almost over, and I needed to know. He shook his head. "You're miles from the plate." A jet raked the sky, and he paused. Its wash shattered the otherwise silent space all around us. "Miles," he repeated. It wasn't disappointment that leaked from his mouth, nor was it disdain. It was something else. I couldn't place it then and still can’t now. I kept swinging, but there was no power—no real explosiveness when I made contact. “You’re just too damn far away.” His words got stuck in the ear holes of my helmet. I told him the plate was a metaphor for my ego. “Your ego is a glass bottle, son.” There was a toothpick perched between his teeth; his lips were the color of the west Texas dirt. I smiled. “But what about my feet?” I didn’t mean it the way it sounded. I’m not really sure what I meant. All I knew was that I’d been working on my foot positioning for some time and felt pretty good about it. 167

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

“Terrible,” he replied. His tone was plateau flat and serious as New Mexico’s high desert. His eyes, which I caught between pitches, were ferocious—fully fevered with the sort of focus that knew exactly what it took to be really, really good at something. They were sharp, too, edged with a kind of glint that proved he understood, first-hand, what it was like to take a chance and then push past the space of comfort or familiarity and arrive at something different—something wholly terrifying in its newness. I got the feeling that if his eyes could have talked, they’d have mentioned things I couldn’t have even imagined. But eyes don’t talk, which made me wonder if I was lucky or unfortunate or even if talking eyes were something I should have been thinking about in the first place. My cycle was over, so I walked to the cage door. Don Baylor was right on the other side, his face only a few inches from mine. I expected him to say something, but he didn’t. It wasn’t relief I felt as I pulled off my helmet, it was emptiness, and that frightened me. Almost immediately, I wanted to fill it up. Outside of the cage the air seemed lighter. Night birds whistled a haunted, empty tune. Behind me, Don Baylor pulled back the netting and stepped into the cage. I hadn’t counted, but it must have been his eighth cycle. Somehow, I’d done only three. I turned and watched as he dug into the batter's box. The weight of what he’d said earlier—and now its absence— pressed me into the ground. My eyes met his again. This time, he was in the cage, and I was out. I realized, in that moment, that I was either agreeing with him or picking a fight. I wasn't sure which. Maybe I was doing both. His bat swatted the every single pitch cleanly—another perfect 12-for-12. I hadn’t really noticed it before, but Don Baylor was massive. I wondered how big he must have seemed when he was drafted way back in 1967. Players were different then. “So, is that it?” he asked. He was midway through a conversation I'd not been part of. Again, he leaned in too close, his breath equal parts sassafras and black tea. “Is that it?" he repeated. I squinted, confused. ”Do you not know yourself?” he said, flatly. I was beyond uncomfortable. A wave of heat broke across my face; a tiny sirocco that burned my cheeks and chin. My neck was a clogged drain of unattended emotions—emotions that stretched back thirty-some years. Everything—breathing, talking, standing upright—seemed nearly impossible. I shrugged. “I’m not sure.” The batting cage stood in the middle of Bryant Park, on the lawn behind the library. Everything around us was empty—the streets, the sidewalks, the chairs and tables, the subways—the entire city. I could have heard a pin drop. “Look,” he continued, “if you’re really worried about your footwork, I can help.”

He grabbed a bat—a wooden bat—and climbed back in the cage with me. His stirrups were pulled high over black Pony spikes just like they were in 1983. “Back in Rochester, before I hit the show, we used to have a saying.” His brow furrowed, and he nodded my way. “We said it’s all about how you step in.” “Step in?” “Yeah,” he answered. “Step in.” I watched him through the web of netting. It hung down, fixed somewhere—and I couldn’t quite tell exactly where— above the trees. It was clear, though, that the netting didn't stretch above the third or fourth floor of the Carbon & Carbide Building. “It’s all in the step-in,” he repeated. “You gotta mean it." His metal cleats tore at the dirt; his hand up for time even though he didn’t need it. Just habit, I guess. He was fixed there in the box. “It’s like this,” he said, serious as the State-of-the-Union. “Your body gets all taut, then you stamp both feet just to let ‘em know you’re there.” I nodded. Don Baylor adjusted his helmet with a giant, batting-gloved palm. The helmet—a pine tar-stained, matte navy—had no ear flaps. Don Baylor came before ear flaps. The overlayed NY on the front was a dingy brown and flaked at its points; those points should have been sharp and crisp. "See?" he said as he flexed his knees. The barrel of his bat twirled slowly at first, then see-sawed above his head. “But,” he cautioned, “it’s gotta be real power.” The machine spit its balls—the rubber-coated kind that were almost yellow, but not quite; the ones that resembled swollen golf balls. Again, Don Baylor whacked every single one—high, low, inside and out—it didn’t matter. With each swing, his front foot stepped the same way. And every time, it was, boom, boom, boom. He had power—real power. He could go opposite field, pull it, send deep line-drives—anything. It was hard as hell, though, for me to pay attention to his mechanics. Everything about his swing and his stance—the way his wrists turned and broke on the off-beat—was so effortless, yet amazingly unconventional. The results, though, were so perfect that it was all I could do to just watch, which isn’t the same as paying attention. Still, I tried to pay attention; I just couldn’t. Instead, I told him I was hungry. The words rushed from my mouth—out-of-control flood waters over too small of a levy. Don Baylor stared at me. I expected him to be angry, but he wasn’t. He packed up our things and took me to In-N-Out—the one on Sepulveda next to the airport. That In-N-Out was almost 3,000 miles from Bryant Park, but it made perfect sense, and we were inside at the counter with the beeps and the grease and the kaa-klack, kaa-klack of the potato cutter in an instant. Don Baylor was still in his uniform—the one from ’83. I was concerned

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


about him and his metal spikes on the quarry-tile floor. They didn't seem safe. I paid, and we sat down. There were two trays between us; our orders numbered 66 and 16. "What is it, exactly," he began, "that you're afraid of?" His voice was different in California. It was an unintentional growl—still free of judgment— but that was somehow disquieting. I listened as words gathered in his throat—formed in some dark spot I couldn't see—then drifted steadily and patiently from his mouth. I tried to recall if anyone had ever spoken to me that way, but I couldn't. I gazed out the windows across Sepulveda toward a row of shops. There was a tattoo parlor, a hot tub vendor, and a trophy store. I felt like the noise from the planes that dropped so low on approach to LAX should have been louder, but it wasn’t. "Outcomes," I said with a sigh. I was too honest, and I hated myself for that. “All these goddamned outcomes.” My eyes fixed on his over and across the table. “I’m not afraid of them, though. Well, not exactly.” I paused and thought about lying. “Just worried.” In truth, I wasn’t honest enough; that’s really what I hated. "Well," he smiled, “that’s something, I guess.” There was less and less to understand. Or so it seemed. An old, familiar feeling percolated in my stomach, rose up through my throat, and pushed at my temples from the inside. I thought I was annoyed. What was worse, I thought it showed, and I wasn’t okay with that. I thought I gave too much away; I thought I gave it all away. Later, I'd learn that that feeling I had then at the In-N-Out was really less about annoyance and more about anxiety. I’d discover that I wasn't annoyed, just anxious—deeply and almost paralyzingly anxious. I’d learn that in that moment, I shouldn't have said or done anything; I’d learn that I shouldn’t have moved or thought or commented. I’d learn that what I should have done was stayed quiet—I should have just breathed. But I didn't know that then. "Outcomes are everything,” I replied. “Without ‘em, nothing ever changes.” I shifted in the booth. The temperature spiked by about 20 degrees. “They’re measurable, concrete.” Don Baylor puzzled. His hat looked like it had never before been worn. “Really?” he said. “Outcomes?” He took a bite of his Double-Double and shook his head. I felt dismissed, marginalized even. “Hell,” I replied, “they’re what keeps me on track.” My voice held an uncharacteristic shiver. I was almost scared it would break, but I knew that was impossible. I looked at my food. I wasn’t even hungry. Don Baylor grabbed a handful of my fries. Suddenly, I was completely exhausted. “And most of the time I feel like that doesn’t much matter.” A bright-red plane drifted by outside, lower than any of the others. Its jet wash blurred the rows and rows of lights perched high on stanchions—firebirds or phoenix too dumb 169

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to die—as pieces of the sky liquefied ever-so-momentarily. “Well,” he said, “things do change.” His eyes narrowed, and my heart felt like the last few days of February. “They most definitely change,” he uttered. “Most definitely.” His Dali Lama bit was off-putting. “Yeah,” I replied, completely ignoring the enlightenment. “But nothing really happens— nothing tangible, at least— not to me.” I sighed, a one-man pity party. “I mean, when it matters— when the stakes are up.” “Ah,” he grinned. His voice pitched suddenly with excitement. Perhaps, though, it was impatience. “But that’s because you’re only looking at outcomes. Outcomes,” he continued, “are mostly beyond your control—beyond my control—beyond anyone’s control.” He grabbed another handful of my French fries. “Busy yourself with outcomes, and it’ll be the end of you.” He said something else, too—Don Baylor did. I would have heard it if I would have been paying attention. But I wasn’t. I just couldn’t afford to. The truth was expensive and ever-so-inconvenient. Despite my best efforts not to, I began to wonder what it was that I was so afraid of. “They’re a ticket to misery,” he added, pointing at me, his fingers thick and glossed with grease. “Outcomes will put you in the ground fast as a motherfucker.” I sat quiet, that final word of his on repeat inside my head. It was unexpected; he hadn’t talked like that before. Motherfucker. Mother fucker. Mother-fucker. Mother. Fucker. “Plus,” he continued, “look at all this weight.” He had a bat in his hand again—a wooden bat—and he outlined my body. We were back in the cage at Bryant Park. I tried to concentrate as he traced an invisible rectangle, the corners of which fell at my shoulders and knees. “There’s just so much.” I had no idea what he was talking about. “Where’s it all come from?” he asked. I shrugged. “Well, that’s what you gotta find out. Ain’t nothing can happen here—” He pointed at my guts. “With all that here.” Again, he traced the rectangle: my right shoulder over to my left, down to my left knee, across to the other knee, then back up. The city was still silent. There seemed to be nothing else but us. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling that he and I were inside one of those paper In-N-Out boats—the ones that had held our fries and Double-Doubles. Then, I thought about how everything—how me, Don Baylor, all of us—could be inside one of those boats just waiting to be consumed by some great something somewhere out there. All of a sudden, I felt faint. I had to sit down; it all was too much. Don Baylor gazed at me. Like his voice, though, his gaze didn’t hold much judgment, if any. He leaned a bit on the knob of his massive Louisville Slugger. It had to be 36— maybe 38— inches long. I watched the barrel sink like an

eighth-inch into the clay. The barrel top had one of those Major League concave cuts. I imagined the imprint it would leave. "Don't worry," he said, finally. "There's far more weight to the things you haven't done, than there is to any of those you did.” I looked over his shoulder out across the narrow stretch of park to 42nd Street. Perfect buildings, shaped and contoured to each other stood firm as torches of narrow light whitewashed their facades. Something inside me shivered and shook, rushed with immediacy, then threatened to break free. “So,” he followed, “all you’ve gotta do is figure out what it is you’re hiding from.” “Hiding?” I puzzled. “Yeah,” he nodded. “Hiding.” I smiled. The way he said hiding made it sound as though it wasn’t something to be ashamed of. I shifted my feet in the gravel that lined the wide paths around the central lawn. For moment, I thought about the fact that I might be hiding from what I perceived to be my own inadequacies. But that couldn’t be it. That couldn’t be it at all. “It just doesn’t seem like it should be this hard.” “What?” he asked. “Anything,” I followed. “Everything—” The pregnancy of my pause was exacerbated by the absolute dull silence of the city. “It’s just that—” I aborted my own thought and changed directions. “The whole thing is just so complicated.” Don Baylor stared at me. If confusion was a crown, he’d have worn it like a king. “I dunno,” I stammered. I realized I was making less and less sense by the instant.

“Maybe I’m just not cut out for this kinda thing.” “Oh,” he laughed, “I see.” He took off his hat, pressed the brim flat, and replaced it. “I see now,” he repeated. “You want everything to be just as you imagined—just as you thought it should be—how it would be.” He paused and stroked his mustache. His hands looked even bigger than they had before. “Well,” he said, “that is a problem.” He thought I didn’t get it. I could tell. He was upset— frustration became a sudden algae bloom on the lake of his face. To be fair, there were a lot of things I didn’t get. But I got this one. I understood. That’s why outcomes were so goddamned important to me. The way I imagined things and they way they ended up were always different. Outcomes charted my course; they kept me going. I was terrified to think about what might happen if I didn’t pay attention to them. But Don Baylor thought outcomes were my problem. Don Baylor thought that the fact that I wanted things to end up the way I imagined them would destroy me. I got it—I understood him. Of course, I didn’t do anything about it, but not because I didn’t get it. I didn’t do anything about it because I didn’t want to. I’d learn later why. I’d learn later that the problem—as I recognized it—wasn’t the same one he recognized. I guess maybe that’s why we occupied two different spaces in two different worlds. Maybe that’s why he stood so close to the plate. Maybe that’s how he could talk the way he did. Maybe that’s why when he mentioned hiding, there was no shame. Maybe the step-in was only half of it. Maybe the other half—the one nobody, not even Don Baylor talked about—was the step-away. Maybe the step-in and the step-away worked in tandem as two balanced halves of the same moment: a step away from what was imagined and a step in to what actually showed up.

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Ivan Tzarevich and the Fire Bird Nina Kossman Acrylic on Canvass


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Ovum Discourage me from wishing you a wish of joy or luck or faith or privilege; from hoping the hope that the movements of my mouth would move you. When you aim a smile into the desert, your dimples gather pink crystal sunlight. There is no significance. Yellow streetlight swells there in smudged city nights just the same. Dissuade me from praying for you to be folded into the call of maternal song and soothed to slumber. Deter me from tracing the lines on your face that lied to me: claimed wisdom; claimed humility. Today I greet the day of your birth in ceremony like it’s owed honor and is not simply the anniversary of muscle pushing a sac of blood and bones into the light. I should abandon this. Every crying mouth comes here just the same. Restrain me from dreaming myself into the scenes of your life. A waste of a wish kept secret and stolen: a soft egg in a starving pocket.

~ Danielle Cole

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Alaha Ahrar I was first introduced to Alaha Ahrar when she gave a talk at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg about the effects of war on women and children in Afghanistan. At the time, Ahrar had tailored a triple major for herself at the University of Mary Washington (UMW) in Political Science, International Affairs, and a self-created special program in Human Rights with a focus on women from Afghanistan who wanted to earn higher education degrees. Additionally, she was an International Youth Poet in Canada. Alaha was driven, dedicated, and brimming with hope. I interviewed her for a local publication and invited her to talk to my students the following spring. It was the first time many of them had met someone from Afghanistan, though they saw the war on the news daily. Today, Ahrar works with a number of organizations and has initiated many successful projects to benefit the United States, Afghanistan, Canada and European Union Countries. She is on the Board of Directors for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, serves as the Director of Media and Publication for the Afghan-American Women’s Association, and is the Board Director and the Director of Youth Team for International World Poetry, Canada. She is currently pursuing her masters degree in Social Justice and Human Rights and is even more driven to enact positive social change in the world. Her poetry appears here both in Persian and English.

Your involvement with various human rights organizations is a mile long, and I can only imagine your schedule. Describe some of the challenges of taking on so many vital projects at once. I go to school part-time and work a full-time job; therefore, I am extremely busy. Through this full-time job, we open doors for people in need. The goal of my organization is ending poverty, and homelessness and also educating individuals and families and developing communities. Therefore, it is an honor for me to work as Community Development Advocate for such an extraordinary mission, goal and cause. My work is very demanding and challenging, but very interesting and appealing. Advocacy is very different from social work. I work in these both roles. As an advocate, I am a voice for voiceless people. There are different types of barriers for people living in poverty. Most of them are not able to speak English well to solve their problems. Since I am multi-lingual. I have been able to help these people accordingly. Besides advocacy, case management is another huge part of my job. What kinds of services does your job provide? At the beginning of each month, I always help some clients in need of rental assistance. If I do not advocate for them on time, they will lose their apartment and will become homeless. Therefore, I truly thank the staff of Coordinated Services Planning (CSP) for working with me to help my clients on time before going to court. I advocate for my clients in changing their immigration status. Some of them are legal residents of the United 173

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States and some of them are US citizens now. I also advocate for my clients to get their work permit. There are many partner agencies that accept our clients and provide them free services, such as Just Neighbors and many more. I mostly refer clients to the right organizations to get work permits, but it is difficult to find assistance for the undocumented refugees. There are very few organizations, which help undocumented residents in the United States. Food insecurity is a very big problem for most underprivileged people. Disadvantaged people come to our office and ask for food assistance. Food For Others and many other organizations are there to help needy people receive food assistance. In the case management part of my job, I help clients in getting jobs, admitting them to colleges, ESL courses, computer core courses, and budgeting and teaching them how to spend their monthly income is the major part of case management. Besides that, I am providing my clients with educational trainings based on the need of the community and invite guest speakers to come to our office and talk to them. We also have after school programs for the students of different ages. The children of the entire community come to our office and to get help with their homework, have Boys Group, Girls Group, complete science projects and many indoor and outdoor educational activities for them. I know you are directly involved with a number of organizations focused on providing a voice and resources to Afghan women. Describe your work with these groups. I work as the Director of Media and Publication for the

Instead of Hate, May Love Rain Down Afghan-American Women’s Association (A-AWA). This organization helps refugees in Northern Virginia to adjust to living in the United States, and also to find resources and apply for them. The people who we help are those who cannot help themselves; they need someone to advocate for them. As the Director of Media and Publication of (A-AWA), I write the quarterly reports and cover the news, make event pages for Facebook and other social media pages. I also take pictures and record the event videos for the public, so that other people and organizations know about the great work of (A-AWA). Moreover, I’m on the Board of Directors for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project (AWWP). This incredible organization is based in Afghanistan and we have highly educated staff and mentors in the United States, as well. There are many extraordinary American women who take their time to help Afghan women in Afghanistan to become professional writers. These online mentors have been able to educate many women in Afghanistan via Internet and online workshops. They teach them how to become professional and the best writers. The situation of Afghanistan is getting even tougher day by day and that has negatively impacted women in Afghanistan. Therefore, some women cannot go outside their houses due to lack of security, while some of them do not even feel safe inside their houses; so, they write secretly in their own homes. When they write, they do not publish their names; they only write their names in their own very private dairies. The protection of Afghan women has always been a priority for AWWP; therefore, their decisions of not publishing their names has always been respected. In Afghanistan, they don’t have much support; so, AWWP is there to support humanitarian rights of Afghan women poets and writers through education, literature and arts and allows them to experience freedom of expression and speech. This incredible organization needs more support from people of different countries, international organizations and governments of Afghanistan and United States of America. Do the women write in a specific form or about specific topics? AWWP never puts any pressure on Afghan women poets and writers to write about selected topics; it allows them to write whatever is important to them. Afghan women mostly write about their past experiences or their present feelings. For example, last year a young woman Farkhunda was burned and killed in public by some cruel men. That incident made most Afghan women pick their pens and write about that horrific incident of Farkhunda. In addition to your human rights work, you are a poet of some renown. How has poetry and your work with International World Poetry, Canada informed your human rights work and vice versa?

I am one of the directors of International World Poetry, Canada, as well. Through this organization, I help talented poets, writers, journalists, filmmakers, artists and reporters to get recognition, appreciation and awards for their incredibly great works. Interested individuals submit their work to International World Poetry Canada. If they are in Persian (Dari, Farsi) or Urdu, I translate them and then I present them to the President of International World Poetry Canada, Ariadne Sawyer. After reviewing and approving, she presents them to the juries at the International World Poetry Canada’s festival where they will receive recognition, awards or medallions. I introduced to the organization CNN journalist Atia Abawi; well-known Afghan poet, writer, activist, Samay Hamed; Afghan journalist and reporter, Neamat Haidari; Afghan young film-maker Sharif Saedi; Afghan journalist and film-maker Rahmat Haidari; and Afghan artist Mirwais Janbaz. I truly enjoy and love working with Ariadne Sawyer. She has been able to bring the poets, writers, filmmakers, reporters and artists of different continents together. Mrs. Sawyer is a pride for humanity. Through this job, we encourage young generation to work even hard and know that their hard work will be paid off and it will never be wasted. Do you have other outlets for your poetry? I am a member of Sham e Erfan and some other poetry and writing Associations of Afghan-Americans in the United States. These Afghan poets and writers, who are very much interested in Islamic Mysticism/ Sufism, live in Fairfax, Virginia. They get together every two months in a night of poetry and music where they network, communicate and exchange their recent written poems and writings with each other. My father is an award winning poet and writer. He, my sisters and I are active member of these associations, which is our great privilege. What issues in human rights are informing your writing at this time? What is your current focus? I am writing on so many different topics lately, specifically on war and lack of universal social justice, but I rarely published them because I am an Afghan woman. I do not want to get in trouble for writing and then I remember that I am in the United States, not in Afghanistan or Pakistan anymore. I love the United States of America for its Bill of Rights and for providing me with the best education. Bill of Rights has made the United States of America very unique and one of the most amazing and extraordinary countries. The most important issues that I consider sacred and am very passionate about are respecting the Bill of Rights

Alaha Ahrar


and defending Social Justice and Human Rights. As I said earlier, I’m pursuing my master’s degree in social justice and human rights. Every day when I go to class, I fall even more in love with the program that I am pursuing. This program has opened my eyes to see the truth behind the pains and sufferings of millions around the world. Laws that have created injustices are the most dangerous truth that some people are unaware of. In most countries, poor and underprivileged people are the victims of judicial systems. It is true that the justice system is blind! People of color, immigrants, especially those with accents, and minorities do not receive the same fair and just treatment in the eyes of justice system. In less than five minutes, the small mistake of a person is marked as an organized crime and that individual is stamped as a lifetime criminal. “No Contest” is the most damaging truth that most people are the victims of, which takes all the legal rights of an innocent individual and threatens that person with going to jail when later that person finds out the real meaning of “No Contest” and tries to appeal. How can we judge someone without listening even once to him? No law in any part of the world will punish other individuals for the action of his family members, friends or companions, but in the United States big corporations have been able to influence the law to criminalize all innocent companions of a person for the action of one person. These types of unjust states law benefit big corporations, but ruin the reputation and future of many individuals. It is unethical and immoral in most developed countries to bring a case, which is worth less than a hundred dollars of currency of that country to the court without paying close attention to that case. First, some police officers at the police stations take care of most misdemeanor cases to help to protect the reputation of their countries and their nations worldwide. If we compare the United States to Canada, Australia and European Union countries, it is really heart breaking to see the high statistics of Americans as criminals. Some few unjust man-made state laws, especially in Virginia, have marked most Americans as criminals, while they are not criminals. In our today’s world, it is not the matter of crime or ethics anymore, it is a matter of the influence of power and wealth. The real criminals are free and make more money; therefore, people have forgotten the difference between crimes, criminals and victims. • • • •


A criminal is a person, who kills others. Killing innocent civilian is crime. A criminal is a person, who denies a job to a person who is different from him. Discrimination is a crime. A criminal is a person who sexually assault, harass and abuse women or men. Sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual abuse are crimes. A criminal is a person who discriminates and does not treat everyone equally, with dignity and respect, regardless of every individual’s differences. Having negative thoughts and mind are crime.

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• •

A criminal is a person who does not pay the person who works for him for the hours that he worked. Stealing Labors wages is a crime. A criminal is an oppressive person who does not show up to work for more than three months and makes the person who works under his supervision do all the work, but gets paid for that work. Stealing from work and receiving that type of a salary is a crime. Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling are the biggest threat for humanity and well-being of most countries. Human Traffickers and Human Smugglers are criminals, but jails are filled with the victims nowadays. Real criminals are making billions of dollars but the innocents are kept in jails for being the victims of human trafficking and human smugglings. Getting money from desperate and needy families and promising to take them to safe countries, but after receiving money leaves them in middle of nowhere is a crime.

Today almost half of our world is suffering; we feel their pain, but we all watch silently. For example, the sufferings of South Asian and the Middle East and the immigration crisis of European countries - we all see the pictures of innocent children, men, women and infants bleeding, drowning and dying everywhere, while each one of us can help at least one person, but we do not. We are all waiting for a miracle to happen to fix all the problems. I know from our discussions that your work often leads you to injustices involving children, and this was also a focus of your undergraduate work at UMW. How are these issues addressed in your work? I love and respected United States. This great country educated me, so I know how it feels to get more chances in life; therefore, I do not support any law that supports withdrawal or dropping of any student from any school. I think, no school should have the right to drop any child from any school, even if the child does not do well or has behavior problems. As a Social Justice and Human Rights Activist, I know that all these sorts of problems are solvable. Dropping students from their schools will never be the long-term solution. Educational institutions are there to educate students by teaching them different subjects. Educational institutions should also teach manners and correct students’ mistakes and behavior problems, all these should be part of educational institutions’ curriculum and responsibility to help all the students equally. Instead of dropping students out from their schools and denying them education, we should focus on finding the main roots of the problems and solving those problems. Why doesn’t a child do well at school? Why does a child fall asleep in class? The answers are obvious. Those students’ families’ live in poverty, their parents cannot afford private tutors. They might be the children of a single parent, or might be the children of immigrants, or the children of parents who are not well-educated. Their parents may work two part-time jobs, so they cannot make the time to feed their children on time. They are not at home to send their children to bed on time or help their kids with their homework. Sometimes language is a huge barrier for them, because they do not understand English to teach their children.

Instead of Hate, May Love Rain Down O knowledgeable youth, O awakened generation of this land Seek knowledge, for it is a decoration for men and women Living with knowledge and wisdom is humanity’s pride It is the era of knowledge, be aware! For one cannot live in ignorance The ignorant ruined your country to this extent You can rebuild it with knowledge. Listen to me! Your country’s hopeful eyes are drawn toward you, O youth So that you may make a garden & prairie from this desolate desert Bring peace and security to the country! Unity and cooperation, So that all countrymen be one body, one soul Alaha begs the All Mighty Instead of hate, may love rain down, and instead of war, peace

~ Alaha Ahrar

Alaha Ahrar


Seeking Social Justice Social Justice two intriguing words found in the dictionary I searched to find and experience them certainly I opened the doors of many schools I found people of different classes, nationalities and categories Everything there but equality Social Justice the fascinating words I found in Holy Quran Like others, Muslims claim to be just I looked at some Muslims but was discontent Checked out madrasas in Pakistan Where I found faint-hearted men Imprisoned by newly created fake non-Islamic beliefs Domination and plans for suicide bombs Evil’s determination to brainwash youth Social Justice some interesting words I found in the Holy Bible I went to churches to see the action of disciples Equality, fair treatment were supposed to be vital But the worshippers were really only rivals Despite knowing that God is for all They created walls of discrimination Social Justice these words important to Judaism But the craving for power of leaders And silence of followers Scared me so I could barely breathe Social Justice the scarcest phenomenon in Afghanistan I looked and looked among the Afghan people But nowhere did it exist equally for all I left my country to seek out this ideal I reached America and studied in college Created a major in Human Rights But social justice remained my steady light Social Justice the powerful slogan of courts and laws So I continued my seeking Studied civil and criminal and other laws Learned of the injustices against rich and poor I realized rules and laws are flawed Made to suck the blood of the poor So much of my studies seemed sour and untrue Again, encountered unjust male dominated environment “No Contest” marks an innocent as a lifetime criminal How the poor are always victimized Hesitantly, observing their cases and saying goodbye I wiped my tears and asked Where can I find Human Rights and Social Justice then! Even in America human rights are violated in an imperfect system I kept walking, searching and studying Gradually, I reached my truth Found a place With those who practice mysticism A singular group that rejects absolutism Where looking inside oneself is the guiding focus No worries about what others think, these believers Call Social Justice their inner spiritual ritual Their lives so full of a peace that’s imperishable Their main focus is doing good deed and self-reflection They know that justice and equality are created by action I practiced their peace Closed my eyes in seated repose The thoughts of my deeds brought me quiet harmony The inner voice of my heart said Go convey messages of justice, fairness, equity and equality Sing justice mantras and desire for more peace Remember the magical hands of mystics play each piece Justice and peace standing as core values of mysticism A beautiful world without restrictions or barbarism Where I can favor equality, equity and altruism

~ Alaha Ahrar

You’ve covered many issues here, all of which I know you have deep passion and energy to try to solve. Since you’ve been working directly with under-served populations, what do you see as something we, as individuals, can do to improve the situations of these communities? I believe, every occupation requires conscientiousness, especially lawmaking, policymaking, judgment, treatment, teaching, advocacy, activism, lobbying and social work. With collective actions we can change the lives of so many individuals, families and children. Now it is our turn as responsible and educated individuals to change some unjust state laws and ask for justice, fairness, equality and equity for all in the United States and for the rest of the world. We know the main roots of all these problems, are social injustices and violations of human rights. First of all, everyone should work together to eradicate social injustices. No big corporation should be able to make any law which will solely benefit them and criminalize poor individuals. Every responsible person should become a voice for voiceless, powerful for the poor, helpful, helpless, and protectors for the defenseless and weak. Food Stamp do not cover the whole month food of individuals and families. By the last ten days of each month

some needy families have nothing to eat. Raising the minimum wages for the working poor should be on the priority list for everyone, including the assurance that everyone is paid for his hours of work. If we are able to fix at least these problems, then we have helped in providing food for children and have allowed their parents an opportunity to spend some quality of time with their children to help them with their homework and behavior problems. I have lived in three different countries, and now that I am pursuing my master’s degree in Social Justice and Human Rights, I know that most nations are the victim of social injustices and laws that support injustice, especially Americans. In other countries wars have created inequalities, unfairness and social injustices, but in the United States, the rich alongside some lawmakers, policymakers and other influential individuals have created some state laws that have led to social injustices for Americans. There should be always a difference between a mistake and a crime in the eyes of people, judicial system and government. Like all other nations around the world, Americans are also the victims of social injustices. I believe, most Americans are not criminals, but a few manmade state laws started by lobbyist and activists and then created by lawmakers and policymakers assess them as criminals.

For further information about these and other projects with which Alaha Ahrar is involved, visit: Afghan-American Women’s Association (AAWA) www.a-awa.org Afghan Women’s Writing Project (AWWP) awwproject.org International World Poetry, Canada worldpoetry.ca On Facebook: Afghan Professionals in Virginia, Washington DC and Maryland Young Men and Women’s Generosity Initiative Project Afghan Young Poet Alaha Ahrar

Alaha Ahrar


How to Become Besties with your Landlord in Apartment 8 By Tyler Pursch Before you embark on this impossible, Columbus-esque journey, know that failure is imminent and guaranteed. Stop being so naive. This is step one. Finding any sort of friendship between you and your landlord will be immediately decimated by a late rental payment. Or having friends over late. Or playing music too loudly. Or playing music in general. Best to rip that band aid off now. Stroll into the leasing office with your hopes up way too high. This is step two to achieving any great, unattainable goal. Not to mention it makes you look mouthwateringly gullible to the hungry eyes of a Landlord. Wet-behind-the-ears, young, careless renters are prey, for they will inevitably trash the place and never see their deposit again. But this time will be different. Tell yourself this over and over until you believe it. This is step three in the five-step plan. This time, you’ll do everything to make sure this landlord loves you. Your last landlord is history, so don’t talk about that. Pray she doesn’t call the last one for a reference. Pray harder. Hunch to shake her hand, because she’s four feet tall and three hundred and nine years old. It’s okay. Don’t panic. Stop fidgeting. Say, “Nice to meet you,” but in a way that says “I’m a decent human being and not a complete animal.” She’ll wave you inside her lair - or office - that smells exceedingly of a litter box and cigarettes. Her three brown-speckled tabbies will twist and weave between your legs, like Medusa’s snakes sizing up their host’s newest meal. You’ve just interrupted her show, so she’s reluctant to have you, but it’s in her black landlord blood to give a potentially reckless boy the opportunity to move into a brand new, spick-and-span apartment. She can practically smell the unwashed fiberglass shower and crusted-over spaghetti stain on the carpet. You make small talk about your job and how safe the area is and about her great grandson in Seattle. Smile with gusto, but not too much gusto. That’s creepy. Just look interested. She smiles at your enthusiasm and hands you a pen to sign, and you walk out with a key. Step four comes as you pass her gardening the apartment complex flower bed facing the street. She works tirelessly, weeding and pruning and planting at the crack of dawn. Wave, then make a mental note to compliment her choice of flowers down the road. Three weeks in, peel off the passive-aggressive note taped to your front door about your car leaking too much oil and how it’s ruining the parking lot. This isn’t a great start, but it just means you need to do some damage control. Walk over and apologize. This shows manners and that you care about her plight. Another note four days later will ask you to turn the music down. Apologize. Your friends can’t park there. Apologize. You’re washing too many clothes at once in the community laundry room, you’ll break everything. Apologize. At this point, begin to reconsider your grand mission. This is step five, and you had a feeling this would happen. Stop kidding yourself. The landlord-tenant relationship is fragile, but certain. You don’t need them to like you; you just need them to not hate you. Despite this, you’ll make a last ditch effort in the hopes for a fresh start. Bake her cookies because everyone you ask says that will make her like you. You’re willing to try anything at this point, so why not? Wait for the most opportune time to drop off the cookies, because that’s a casual thing people do all the time. Nope, not weird at all. Knock on her door and explain that you just happened to have made too many. She’ll brighten like the sun and her eyes will crinkle. An ocean of hope will crash into you. This is it. You imagine cloudless mornings on your patio where the two of you sit, sipping coffee and chatting; sharing stories only the best of friends share. Now you’re on a tandem bicycle in the park. Her in front, you on back. She’ll laugh, which makes you laugh. It’s the kind of laugh only best friends would understand. Your landlord will take the saran-wrapped plate of cookies. She’ll say things like “Are those for me?” and “Bless your heart,” and “Do you smell smoke?” Turn to watch gray, lazy clouds rolling out of your open window and remember the second batch of cookies you’d put in the oven. Set off the smoke alarm. Apologize.


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

8th Avenue Haberdashery Yields Modern Art William C. Crawford Photography

Freshman Seminar By Alli Marshall


here was little about college that appealed to Jess Wheat. Certainly not the snobbish air of competition over grubbiest jeans, most days without wearing shoes, number of existentialist novels read, or longest word used in a paper. She’d looked forward to college for years, but as soon as she’d unpacked her requisite Indian bedspread and t-shirt collection, the air of anticipation gave way to disappointment. To start, the dorm — if it could actually be called that — was a long, low string of rooms tacked onto a fading folk Victorian. It was called Kennel House because it had once boarded dogs. Jess thought, alone in her narrow bed at night, that she could hear the ghost howls of the former residents. The girl next door, a sophomore, shook her head. “No dogs died here. But there was one student who committed suicide by holding it.” “Holding what?” “You know.” The older girl mimed crossing her thighs tightly to constrict her bladder. Jess gave up talking to the other girls in Kennel House, or the other students in her philosophy and literature classes.


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They all had a mean streak. So did the school cook who made beans and rice every day and, when asked for some thing different answered, “If this is good enough for the rebels in Nicaragua, it’s good enough for you.” In creative writing, everyone wrote about Nicaraguan rebels, apartheid in South Africa, the new Berlin and the old Russia. They penned passionate short stories and inflamed essays about Causes Worth Dying For. Jess wasn’t sure there was anything worth dying for. She went to the bathroom often and ran her hands through her glossy long hair. “You should let that dread or shave it off,” a boy said. “Do you really want to be the Poster Girl for White Privilege?” In college, every phrase worth repeating was spoken with implied capitalization. But the creative writing teacher said to write what they knew. Family vacations, lost love, summer camp, selfdoubt. That’s what eighteen-year-olds knew. The teacher wore her red hair loose. She came to class in mud-caked hiking boots, her jeans secured by a length of rope. She carried the scent of green and rain and the fecund turning of autumn leaves. Jess began to write of the ghost dogs whose howls sounded like September wind. She wrote of their pacing and leaping, of their feathery tales that stirred up clouds of dust and knocked coffee cups from the desk. She walked the perimeter of the college campus, which was really an old farm gone feral. Blackberry and hawthorn hemmed in the acreage. The milk barn housed a library of moldering books, the pig sty had been whitewashed and filled with desks, microscopes and Bunsen burners. In a hayloft, Jess uncovered a cardboard box stacked with old journals. “I can’t stay here and I can’t leave,” the anonymous writer had inked. “The world is too full of revolutionaries. I miss chocolate-chip cookies and pajamas that smell of dryer sheets.” Jess missed those things, too, though she hadn’t realized it until that exact moment. She swallowed back the wave of homesickness and peered through a smudged window, watching her classmates move in huddled masses of black jeans and Palestinian keffiyehs. The creative writing teacher came to class with brown leaves tangled in her wild hair and a backpack woven from grapevines. While the students wrote about their dreams, she whittled a walking stick from a locust branch. “If you can’t remember what you dreamed last night, make it up,” she said. “It’s possible to predetermine what you dream.” “That’s not true,” said a boy. “Dreams are the product of the subconscious mind.” “You talk like id and ego are not every bit as mythological as unicorns and yetis,” said the teacher. “You can’t compare the work of Freud to a bunch of elves and fairies,” said the boy. He grabbed his books and made to storm out. “If you go deep enough into woods you’ll eventually find the other side of your own imagination,” the teacher called to his back.

Later that night, in the common room where the moss had grown over the sofa, Jess asked the sophomore girl about the journals in the hayloft. “Those are nothing,” she said. “Some people can’t hack it here. If they leave in a hurry, their stuff gets stored as if they’ll come back for it someday.” “But they never come back?” “Not from where they’ve gone,” the girl said. She rose and dusted lichens from her jeans. “None of it’s any good, though, if you were thinking of cribbing from those journals for your term paper.” That night, no dreams came and Jess lay awake, listening for the ghosts of the dogs. They didn’t come, either. There was only a shadow fleeing the length of the lawn. Jess pulled her down jacket over her nightgown and went outside in time to see the creative writing teacher slip between two pin oaks into the thicket. The dark was thinned by light pollution from the city. Neither moon nor stars broke through the rusty sky. But once Jess stepped into the trees, her eyes faltered in the gloom, recalibrating distance and spooky shapes. The creative writing teacher moved quickly and Jess crashed along behind, briars and twigs grabbing at her sleeves. The cold lashed out and so did fear. Who went into the woods alone at night? No one smart. But she wasn’t alone, was she? Before Jess could puzzle it through, a hand grabbed at her. “Shhh. Don’t scream.” Jess stifled her cry, wished she’d thought to bring mace, remembered she didn’t own mace, and finally recognized the creative writing teacher’s distinct scent of green and rain. “Where are we?” she asked. “Near the sassafras,” the teacher said. She struck a match, showed Jess the mitten-shaped leaves. She cut a root from the ground and offered it, earthy and root beer-flavored. “But why?” Jess asked. “Why not?” the teacher shrugged. She pulled a sleeping bag from a hollow tree and crouched on a log. “You can stay if you want, but the frost is on its way.” “You live outside?” Jess realized she sounded like the dumbest kid in the class. But it was easier to state the obvious than ask the unaskable. “We all live outside of something,” the creative writing teacher said. Jess wondered what her parents would say. The semester ended soon and she doubted she’d back. Not with the beans and rice, the dog-kennel dorm, the journals of the lost kids, and the other students in their rebel scarves. A teacher who lived in a hollow tree was the least of it, and yet she was also the most. A story rose out of the dark, its bare branches scratching at the dingy sky. Jess thought, if she walked back to her room slow enough, the whole narrative might tell itself before she came in from the wilderness.

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


Wrought Britnae Purdy Phtography


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Those Stairs They led from the Souplantation parking lot to the busy street below. Surrounded by suburban North County San Diego ice plant that bloomed in late spring, getting us in the mood for summer. Those stairs. Too narrow and steep for anyone to climb comfortably unless they were able-bodied and young. Like me at the time. Like most of my coworkers. They had their own personality. Sharp and asymmetrical, even cracked in some places, but: Stable. Accepting. Available. Thrice a shift, I sat at the top of those stairs smoking a Camel Wide, Lucky Strike with filter, or Newport 100, depending upon which cashier I sweet-talked into buying me a carton for that month. I would save up all my tips and pay double for those cartons. At the time, it was so worth it. The feel of the cigarette between my fingers, the taste on my tongue, the sting in my lungs, nothing better. No better place. ~ CLS Ferguson

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


Nancy Michael Nancy Michael’s interest in costume design flourished during a fellowship in the costume shop during her last year of study for her master’s degree in theater. Much of her experience took place in Philadelphia, and she has designed costumes locally for Riverside Dinner Theater. She is currently working on her dissertation, which focuses on motherhood and personal power in Middle English romance.

Michael says she begins each show on pen and paper, and then adds fabric swatches to keep with the sketches. She finds that bringing the elements together on paper gives her control of the resultant costumes and allows for changes that will most likely be made at the last minute. She explains, “You get the budget you get, so the whole goal is that you have everything planned out to show the director. If it’s a musical, the production team knows from the paper whether the costume ideas will work or whether we need to change the colors or fabrics before we start buying supplies.” Unlike other forms of design, costumes pose a unique set of variables inherent to their use and function. Michael says, “When you are working with costumes there has to be a sense of utility that you might not have to worry about if you are painting a landscape. There are a couple of things that go into it. Somebody has to wear it, so I have to stop and think about the body type of the person who will wear it and what they’ll need to do in it. For instance, if it’s a musical, how much are they going to be dancing around, running up and down steps and what have you? Also, there’s an element of durability and mobility which I think in other art forms don’t require. Michael says that mobility is important, because in some instances the costume becomes like another character in the play. If a skirt is a part of a character’s personality, Michael makes sure that skirt is going to 185

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perform the way it is supposed to. Will it flow and twirl? How wide does it need to be? Does it need something like feathers on the bottom for effect? She says these things vary from show to show, but this consideration remains constant. Costume design also requires a lot of research and a grasp of color harmony. Michael says that the colors and fabrics should complement the performance, not compete with it, nor should they compete with each other visually on the stage. She notes that colors can sometimes be symbolic, as well. Michael compares costume design to other types of art in that they all require similar types of planning. She says, “If you’re hanging a gallery show, you consider the pieces you have created and how are you going to put them together. If I’m working with a large cast, like I did in The Crucible, I had to make sure that if all ten girls in the courtroom scene were going to stand onstage together everything was going to work together compositionally. If someone was to take a picture of it and hang it on a wall, all the pieces had to pull together and not just be these disparate elements that make a mess on stage” Though Michael loves the process of costume design, she knows there will be guaranteed frustrations along the way. She says, “There’s always a moment, usually around three in the morning, when I sit bolt upright in bed and say, ‘That’s what we need to do!

Costumes, Collaboartion, and Creativity That’s how I make fins on the mermaid’ or whatever it is for that show. Those are really cool moments, inspirational flashes.” A costume can make all the difference as an actor attempts to capture their character, and Michael describes her personal experience with the effect a good costume can have on finding that motivation. She says, “One of the best examples of this is from a show I was in, not one that I designed. I was in Don Juan, and it was one thing to stand there in sweat pants and three inch heels, to learn choreography and work on being in the head of this sultry person. It was another thing entirely when I added the corset and fishnets, a low-cut dress and feathers that trained down my dress. Something wakes up. I’ve had friends who have been criticized by their director for not being able to find that motivation on their own as an actor. Maybe, but the costume is that last piece of the puzzle. An actor can do all of the work in their head and in rehearsal, and but when they finally top it off with the right hat or with the right shoes or with the right kind of suit, it absolutely transforms them. Michael acknowledges the collaborative aspect of costume design, because at the end of the day everything has to fit the script first. She says, “That’s the first and most important collaborative partner I have. What does the script say about what’s coming out of this person’s mouth? What does the person look like who talks like that or who does that thing? How often does he take off that hat? It’s that time with the director, asking, ‘ Is there anything you’re looking for here?’ The director might says, ‘Here’s a big production number. The classic production does this, but I don’t want to do this. I want to try this.’ I have to say I can make that into something. When I’ve taught students, I’ve had to say, yes, it’s your creation, but it has to happen in conversation with someone else, at least one other person: the director.” Designing in collaboration does not require one to give up their own creativity, but Michael says there’s a bigger picture that has to be acknowledged. She says, “Collaboration is the name of the game

when you’re dealing with design, for a theatrical production especially. It’s always fun. It’s such a physical thing and it’s always fun to see what you’ve done move around on stage. Somebody else is creating the set, and somebody else is building props, and somebody else is setting up lights, but all of it has to tie together, and you’ve got this piece. It’s almost like having four or five different artists with the director at the head making sure all of the pieces pull together.”

Stepsisters from Cinderella planned by Nancy Michael

Nancy Michael


Similarities abound among different artistic mediums, and Michael sees them in the areas of training, creativity and design. She also witnesses that connection during the process of editing and revising her work. She says, “I have this idea inside my head. Then the director casts someone who’s 5’8,” and I think that little mini skirt is going to look dumb on that person. Once I see the personal body type of the actor I might have to rethink my plan. Maybe he color is not going to flatter them, or the cut’s not right for them. How do I make what I need to make so that it actually complements the person using it? Sometimes the issue will fall with the fabric you’ve chosen or your budget. A lot of times it comes down to that, too, that the idea in your head just doesn’t work in reality. Stuff gets edited on the fly constantly.” This may sound like a nightmare for some, but Michael says it’s just part of working in collaboration with people, especially within the fast-paced world of theater. She describes just such a moment while working under deadline with limited supplies: “The worst that ever happened to me was when I did Elliott. It had three choruses: mermaids, pirates, and wizards. Fine, great. The week right before Elliott the theater hosted Peter Pan. Any kind of stock pirate costume was sucked into Peter Pan. I didn’t have the stripy shirts or the easy pirate costumes. Kids are smarter than you think they are, and I didn’t want any seven year old coming in and saying, ‘Those are Captain Hook’s pirates. What are they doing here?’ The shows were literally right on top of each other. So, the director decided early on to make the pirates the Pittsburgh Pirates. Great. We’re going to make that happen. We have baseball outfits. We’re going to give him a baseball bat for a peg leg. The week before the show opened, we have a dress preview for the staff on a Wednesday, and the Monday before the director says, ‘You know, I’ve been thinking about this pirate thing. I don’t think I want them to be baseball pirates after all.’ Incredible. I had pulled all the baseball uniforms. The props department was building a peg leg with a bat. I had two days. Talk about editing. The character was a smart kid and I thought he’s the kind of kid who wants to learn about stuff and make stuff up. There are pirates all over the world, so we’re going to have some Chinese pirates and some stock pirates and some Vikings, and I’ll throw in some Middle Eastern pirates and it’ll be like if this kids has a book of pirates from around the work he’s pulling them out of different books. The captain was Captain Greenbeard, so we thought we could tie it all together by having all the pirates wearing green. We ended up dying all these green sashes for these poor pirates. It looked really cool by the time we were done. The actors helped, too, because they were such a good group of tight knit pirates. The scenic and prop people pulled pirate books to make sure the set was decorated so there was some kind of tie-in.” 187

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Greenbeard costume planned by Nancy Michael

Michael wonders whether transformation crosses into reality through the clothes we choose each day that define us. We all play roles in life - the doctor, the chef, the manager - and we wear our costumes to fit. Just as in theater, it’s a wonder if our daily costumes help us get into character for the lives we lead. Do we work in collaboration on those designs, gaining input from others, or do we take creative leave to define the roles in our own way, making them out own? Do clothes make the person? Is our costume our reality?

By the Bay By Roxanne Grandis

The summer was the hottest one in the girl’s six years. Even the cactus out in the sandy front yard had dried up, and the man next door with the chickens was keeping them indoors. The girl liked the chickens, especially the one that laid green eggs. The man brought the eggs over sometimes in a tan straw basket, and the girl’s mother broke them carefully over the kitchen counter before she fried them. She gave the shells to the girl, and paint and brushes from the pantry, and she let the girl draw faces on the shells. The faces the girl drew were always of a family. A mother with long red hair and green eyes. A father with a big black moustache and a frown. A little girl who looked like a small mixture of the two. The girl missed the chickens more than she missed her father. She wanted to go home to the big house two car hours away. The big house had air conditioning and space instead of the whir whir whirring fans in the tiny house by the bay. The big house had cable TV and deep shag carpeting she liked to run her hands over and make imprints in with her toes that she painted pink on her bed. The big house had a wet greenhouse with heavy scented flowers in it and gravel on the ground and a deep smell that she inhaled. The little house by the bay only had the bay, and this summer that was not enough. The bay was pretty, but the girl wasn’t allowed walk the two streets to get there by herself. In the past summers the mother had walked the girl down to the bay with colorful buckets and shovels, and the mother had always carried a book to read while the girl dug up mud puddles with the shovel and caught minnows in the bucket. They’d spend several hours down by the bay, watching the boats float by the brown dock in the distance, and listen to the shallow screams of the swimmers who were so far away they could only be recognized by the colors of their bathing suits. Red. Blue. Yellow. They were little dots of color on the horizon. The seagulls squawked overheard, and the water lapped over their ankles, and when the little girl got tired, the mother would pull her into her soft lap and read from her book out loud until the girl fell asleep and the mother carried her the two streets back to the house, head slung over shoulder like a package.

Then the girl would lie in her musty pink bedroom with the fish netting strung up on the wall like a painting, and she would stare at the seashells and starfishes tied to the netting, suspended like a mobile, and her eyes would flicker in and out of consciousness. She would listen to the sounds of her mother in the kitchen, banging pots and pans, the hiss of the oven turning on and off, and if it was a Friday night, she would wait for the sound of the front screen creaking open, the sound of her father’s shoes slapping against the tile floor that was always covered in sand, the sound of his briefcase being laid gently against the bureau. If it was a Sunday night the girl kissed her father goodbye and waited for Friday night again. On the weekends they would go fishing. Her father would take off his suit and put on his shorts and the t-shirts so thin black hair would shadow through them, and her mother would tie up her long unruly hair into a handkerchief, and they would drive to the dock in the hot car, the vinyl sticking to the backs of their legs so hot it burned. The boat would be waiting there, yellow and shiny, and her father would unstrap her from the car seat and sometimes smile at her, his black moustache scratchy against her face as he leaned in to tie her life preserver on. They’d pile into the small boat and her father would lug the fishing lines and reels from the cabin underneath, and the little girl’s mother would smile because the father was smiling, and it was like a picture they were all so happy. The salt wind whipped around them while the boat chugged along, and when they were far enough out her father would stop the motor and there would be absolute silence. Dead ocean silence. The father would cast his line, and cast one for the little girl, and the mother would throw her arms around the father’s shoulders and he would laugh and bat her off, and somehow it was all right. When the fish had been caught, laid flopping on the floor of the boat until they stopped, and the mother had replaced them in the cooler with the lunch, the father would turn the motor back on, and they’d hum back to shore the sun setting over their heads, the wind whispery and cool against their necks. The girl hadn’t fished this summer, and her father hadn’t come in over a month. It was hot, so hot the girl

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could barely breathe, and she missed the chickens and the bay. Her pink bedroom was sweltering, even with the fans the mother had brought in to cool her, and even with the cold baths and showers the mother administered to her three times daily on doctor’s, her father’s, orders. Her sheets were clammy, and her hands were clammy and her hair stuck to her forehead worse than the vinyl car seats, but she didn’t have the strength to move it away. She just lay in bed and stared at the pink walls and the seashells and out the window into the dry air outside where the cactuses were dying. She thought of the dying fish, the way their gills rose in and out like fans, and she wondered if it were possible for her suffocate on air. The flounder, the bass did it, and this caused a rise of panic to spring up inside of her and become giant screams that made her mother come running, wet washcloths in hand. In the daytime if it was not a Friday, before the little girl got sick, the mother would lie in her green bedroom on the nubbly bedspread and read. The mother read a great many books, all about romance and strong men and women, and she read them quickly and efficiently. There was a whole tall bookcase of the books her mother had finished. Her father stacked them in alphabetical order. If it was not yet a Friday the father’s closet would lie silent, and the whole house seemed like it was waiting, except for the mother. The mother was peaceful with her books and the soft glow of the afternoon sun filtering through the window. The mother had no love of time, and the little girl felt this, the house waiting for something to happen, the mother waiting for it not to happen, to lie silent forever, just the two of them, the little girl and the mother forever in the two pastel bedrooms with the bay lapping two streets down. In the nighttime on weekends, when the father came through the door, home from the two-hour car ride from the city, the house breathed again, but the mother didn’t. The mother couldn’t breathe with the father there. There was dinner to made. There was laundry to be cleaned. The father had to be amused, but not too amused, because everything in excess was a waste. In the nighttime if it was a weekend, the little girl would lie in bed and listen to the silence from the green bedroom, listen to the silence of two people hugging opposite sides of the bed. During the summers before when it had rained, the girl and her mother and father would sit out on the front porch to eat dinner. Her mother would pull out the plastic card table and set it with paper napkins and plates, and when the girl was even smaller, the mother would bring out her high chair too. The water would lap down around the edges of the porch and mist over them, and the father would ask the girl to sing them songs she’d learned at home in the big house in preschool, during the year when they weren’t at the bay. The girl missed the rain. She missed the dinners and the sounds of her mother and father’s laughter, and the way her mother would sometimes get silly and run out into the rain so her hair got drenched and rain ran down her face. The mother was thin and curvy and her breath smelled like the flowers in her father’s greenhouse. 189

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

The girl’s father said that it was pneumonia. The girl didn’t know what that was, but her mother said it was like a cold, only worse, and it meant that she had to rest a lot and drink a lot and try to get better. The mother said that it meant the father couldn’t come down to the house for a while, because he worked with sick people and it wasn’t good for him to be so close to a sick person at home. The mother said this like it was bad, and she cried a little but she tried to cover the tears up with her hands, except the little girl saw them anyway. The little girl had seen her mother crying a lot lately, even before she felt hot and sick and the rain had stopped coming. When the rest of the houses on the block were dark, even the man’s house next door with the chickens, the mother dressed the little girl in light clothes in the pitch of night and took her into her arms. She carried her out of the house to the car, and they drove down the short streets of the neighborhood by the bay out onto the lit highways that led to the beach proper. The mother stopped the car by the run down amusement park that she used to take the girl to in summers past, and turned off the car motor and got the stroller out of the trunk. She picked the little girl up and strapped her into the stroller and rolled her out onto the boardwalk where there were lights that ran up and down the path filtering over the tall hotels and stores and restaurants. There were couples on the boardwalk kissing under the lights, and the mother rolled the girl up and down while she fell in and out of sleep until they got to the last lit restaurant before the dock, and the little girl felt her throat might dry up like the rain that had stopped coming because she was so hot. The mother rolled the little girl into the restaurant, the only one that was still open, and the white fluorescent lights beat down upon them, and there were puddles still on the linoleum floor from the swimmers in the afternoon, and she bought them both ice cream cones, which they ate on the boardwalk, the mother on a bench and the little girl in her stroller. It was lonely in the house by the bay. It hadn’t felt lonely to the girl in the summers before, but this summer it did. Every day was taken up by trying to get better, and every day was hotter than the last. Only the nights were not lonely. Only on the nighttime car rides to the beach when the mother had the radio turned up and smiled and was her silly self again. Her mother told jokes and sang songs and played patty cake with the girl and the air was salty and there was ice cream. The mother’s elbows were smooth and she was so young, but the girl couldn’t know that then. Only the mother knew how young she was, and the father, but he didn’t care about those kinds of things. On one night they saw a dolphin that had washed up on the beach and was drowning itself. People came, a great many people who seemed to appear from nowhere, and some were taking pictures and some in official looking cars and vans, and they carried nets and flashlights. The whole area of the beach became awash in lights and the mother

took the girl from her stroller and held her up over the fence so she could see. The people were trying to push the dolphin back into the water with the nets and with their bodies, but the dolphin would not move, and when they pushed it far enough in for the dolphin to swim away, he returned again and again to the shore. The mother just stood at the fence and watched as the people tried to save the dolphin over and over again, as the dolphin returned again and again to the shore. Hours went by. The girl went to sleep and woke up. The sun began to rise over the beach. Early morning joggers ran by in sweat clothes and sneakers. Rumpled children came out from the hotels with surfboards and tires and ran into the water and yelled at the dolphin, stupid dolphin to go back into the water and save himself, but he didn’t. The mother still stood at the fence and watched, tears running down her face, her elbows smooth, her long, unruly hair tied back in her handkerchief. The girl began to cry. She was tired, so tired, and hot, even though it was cool in the morning by the beach. But still the mother did not leave. Finally, the people trying to save the dolphin gave up. They let it roll onto the beach, its grayness a heavy marker on the sand, where it lay, dead and restful. The mother watched the dolphin as the people walked away, sweaty, shoulders down turned. The mother watched and watched, as the dolphin lay there, until one of the people, a man with a flashlight that he still had on even though the sun was up, walked over to the mother and told her it was too late, that she should go home, because there was nothing she could do. The mother’s eyes flickered. She blinked, and then she quickly gathered the girl in her arms and raced down to the boardwalk back to the car, leaving the stroller behind them. The girl felt smothered, her face crushed into her mother’s breasts. She would die. She was certain of it, and this came as a sickness in her stomach that made her retch while her mother held her. In the car the mother was silent, waiting. There was stillness heavier than the beach at nighttime or the dead sea silence of the water when the girl had gone fishing with her mother and father on weekends and they were all happy. The mother rolled down the windows and the girl listened to the sounds of traffic, watched the colors of the cars as

they passed her. All of those cars, people, going somewhere. She felt sweat running down the sides of her neck, and then a sudden coolness as the sea air spread across her face. A relief, the first she’d felt the entire summer. She could breathe. When they got back to the tiny house by the bay the father was there sitting out on the front porch. His black moustache was droopy and his eyes were crusted over. He held a surgical mask in his hand, which he put on when he saw the girl in her mother’s arms. “Hello,” he said to the mother in a muffled voice through the mask. “Where were you?” “A dolphin died out at the beach,” said the mother. “They tried to save it, but they couldn’t.” She let the girl slide out of her arms, let her stand rickety on the front porch next to the father and then the mother sat down herself next to the father, the girl on one side of him, the mother on the other. The mother put her arms around the father, her head sank into his chest and she cried, deep long sobbing tears. The girl sat and watched her mother, and watched the dying cactus; it’s needlepoints contracting in the sun. She looked at her legs, which were weak, and her feet that seemed bigger than the last time she had noticed them. During the late morning hours they slept and the girl woke up to the silence in her parents’ bedroom, the shower running as her mother and father awoke from sleep, the pots and pans banging in the kitchen. “She’s doing better,” she heard her father say from the kitchen in a low voice, and the mother said, “Thank god.” In the afternoon the father loaded up the trunk with bait and towels and the mother packed the cooler with tuna fish and sodas. The mother pinned her hair back into a handkerchief and the father put on his light shirt and left his briefcase at the door. The girl sat in her pink bedroom and stared at the seashells and fishnet strung up on the walls and she breathed in and out to make sure she could. She could, but they were not yet easy breaths and they took work. The mother collected the girl from the pink bedroom, and they all drove to the dock and the mother laughed once and the father smiled. Finally, as they were on the open sea, pulling out into the wide expanse of water that surrounded them entirely, it began to rain.

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


untitled it hit the fan it blew apart some gone forever some might make it back we’ll smoke cigars by the roses under the cypress and laugh at this slipshod life class rivals beauty and she had both at the very least scars can be used as a map and I’ll be glad to have known and proud to have loved her for one triumphant summer in this slipshod life consensus is a disease the crowd is strangely masked we worship fear and our shadows eclipse our gods tomorrow comes brazen like the best surprise gifting the thief with this slipshod life rain’s washed out the lilies and the water’s getting in I’m soaked and bumbling in a dead language to no one the fifth wall is rising and the radio’s jammed but without you my address would be the wind blown away by this slipshod life


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Two by Jim Trainer

THE IRISH KIND the alphas have led the charge the great beauties' nets are laid every bit of charm in the world reduced to a stroke and maneuver me I don't think I'll ever come up from where I'm sunk in a poet's dream I'll type like this bang the dust from the keys the sun'll roll heavy like mercury westward down a crowded sky it's September and tumbling is admirable to tumble is to have momentum to be moved by luck and bang off walls of chance I sip iced coffee and in the crook of my typing hand a crampthat's the sum risk of this life and as good a reward when true love sleeps with a husband in a 5-star room when the days are brave and the nights are feared when in doubt act like you understand and leave before the party is over without saying goodbye.

Mercy Jennifer Lothrigel Phtography

Into the Woods

Two by

Roberta Senechal de la Roche

We did not come here to eat stone instead of lightning, or to ignore the sedge that slowly fills what was once a way. What enters with us now stays in this tree, outlasts the air, the mood, all the voluptuous weeds, its shade a solace, as though you could abide the inevitable and what is not finished, still green, this color at the center of our visible spectrum.

Slow Dancing Just when you get the side step right, you realize nature never tells us anything and all the ballroom lights are cheap, The instructor is bored, and no one wants to be here except for the last dance, the tango. It’s what we keep trying to do, in spite of knowing that it never stops, for you or polished shoes or spotless gloves. When the lights go up, you see the dust in the corners, under the chairs where you waited for someone to bow and ask at last to bend you over, into what wings were really supposed to do.


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Swimming the River Innocence is no excuse. For being too young. Or being too strong. Diving into the river of bucking old logs. Fast flowing and filled with branches, from the last storm. All has confirmed a stupidity. Arms moving against the current and a velocity of whirling water, churning debris, scraping against my chin. As air was sucked in for a few more moving yards. To the other side. And a brother there. As if he had done the same. It took some time against the current and there was something slowing me down. I stopped and floated downstream. I watched a large branch scooping me in like a giant fish in its green net. " You have it , just stand up." Shouted my brother. So I put my feet down and I sank. " Oh, I am on a sand bar. Move this way." A brother's grin. I could feel my toes clutching at the edge of the bar so I stood up. And we both shoved the large branch away. It flew downstream. " Great to finally swim this !" I shouted back. My brother shook his head. " I found a way over using the rail bridge. " He pointed up stream to a railway crossing. " But we are both going to swim back, right?" I grinned. He shook his head. But by the time I got my wind back he was on the other side standing by our aunt. I dove in and ended up on the other side, where an old float plane had crashed. Where its' skeleton , of steel and aluminium, was sinking into silt and into mud. We talked about the swim for years. And when my brother was dying he said. " I don't remember swimming across the river." I kept telling him, each time, he did.

~ d. n. simmers

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


A Root Sculpture from Tibet Nina Kossman Mixed Media


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

The Highest Point The sun shown through the midst of a rainbow, water cascading down from above, as we walked and slid on our journey to safety, a great glacial sliced rock loomed behind our young faces. We were so young, so terrifically strong, fitness and clean-living a motto then to be found, in our country in the fifties, where have we now gone so wrong. He stood so tall like the towering redwoods, our patriotism in America booming. I loved him at that moment, My eyes fixed on his shining, sweet countenance. We took separate trails in the mountains of our youth, as the years drifted by, magic moments in the high Sierras would fly, leaving our heart memories to recall of times well-spent. Then a call from his loved one, that he had flown, back to a time of supreme happiness at Half Dome.

~ Georgia Lee Strentz

Mind The Gap Tired after the flight and now the Tube. Almost there. Whizzing through tunnels. Feels good. I stand in the car, loving the speed. I pack light. Case on wheels. Jeans, white shirt, big collar, tweed jacket. No jewelry. Feel skinny. Need a good walk later. The car fills up at the next stop. Men surround me, thickly, quickly. One looks me in the eyes while he twists my shoulder bag straps around my neck. He cuts the bag from the straps with very sharp clippers. I am being robbed. No. Yes. Yes. The others are part of it. My heart thuds in my throat. The man keeps staring in my eyes. He is dressed like a commuter. He winks and says thank you. The car stops. “Mind the gap� says the voice. The men spill out of the car like bats out of a cave.

~ Thea Verdak

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


Grant Ervin So many ...


Grant Ervin graduated from high school in Spotsylvania County and set off for art school in Deleware. As oft happens, plans change ... sometimes for the better. Ervin found his people among creatives in Philadelphia’s game design community. Through connections and opportunities made at Philly’s Game Forge and Dead Nights, Ervin is well on his way toward exceeding his dreams.

For the racing game, Mammoth Jockeys, I ended up starting from scratch at the beginning of the year. That was a process that meant making entirely new art assets. We had a certain art style originally that was sort of pencil and paper, and now everything is digital, so it looks a little bit crisper. When you’re in charge of a project it’s up to you to make those decisions. Since I was the only one making the art assets, there wasn’t a guilt factor. I probably wouldn’t have made someone else go back to the drawing board. It took about four months to get all that going again. Then, I basically had to reanimate everything, so it was a whole top to bottom process.

Website: honeycombinteractive.itch.io

I won an award at Dead Night’s Idea Jam. The idea was a sci-fi cooking game called Jupiter Goulash. In it, you’re cooking with all these alien fruits and vegetables that have faces, kind of like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. You’re chopping them up, so it’s a combination of a few things. Unfortunately, the logistics are a bit tough, so that’s a project I’m not going to be able to touch for a while. for selling le e b o t att going card b es m ’ y I d t e a e th gam e com rst gam It’s an onlin rading card fi y m t rs are created okus Pokus. iniscent of numbe h. It e e v r a e h h m I H t e w called ’s heal . It’s r emon, money r two people ring or Pok other person t you play a e an fo card th stration is game e Gath king away h h t c a c i E g a t . a llu like M and you’re ack in a way it, and the i t, but I’ve d J n e o j k v o l c f r ec a ke invo l of Bl that has a jo short little p ird that out o e e f e h e t t l a s l s w r e s a h of a sp a sound. It’ ear now. It’s ea and the fi d n i k d y s i ha ays ut a last and pl or abo on, it’s the funny rking on it f g o workin been w things I’m ee the thr e out. to com

ve lackers. We’ C ll ku S ed ll s. We’ll card game ca about 60 card n a table-top as o h g n o in si rk o er v w t es uple of I’m it, and the new hin the next co it g w in o st te tw y r o la p ck e colbeen ebsite for a bu ker, but you’r w o P e e th k n li o f o it d g be sellin ally fun, kin m the dead. likely. It’s a re u’re given fro o st y o n m so s, er th p n o c e. m ifi ture Poker gam raise this spec en v to s ad e em k it li g ein lect n Cruso pical, Robinso It’s a very tro

I also made this really silly game for a Toy Jam we did at the Dead Night. It was called Paula Dean’s Butter Toucher. You’re basically just clicking on a stick of butter and the program counts the times you touch it. It slowly gets to be more deformed and gooey as you’re clicking on it. That was another fun little thing. A gamer on YouTube picked it up. It’s interesting to see this little ecosystem that’s starting to develop, and people who are making games and publicly playing them.

Grant Ervin


A Line in Sand Saeed Ordoubadi Phtography

Nikki Connie Lester Watercolor


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


By Eileen Herbert-Goodall


o here’s the thing—I never expected Jimmy to uncover the mystery. I mean, he always said he was gonna get to the bottom of why Papa ditched us but, shit, I’ve always said I’m gonna be an astronaut, and look where that’s gotten me—I’m anchored down in this bombed-out caravan in the middle of the Idaho desert with Mama. The closest I’ve ever come to space is heading outside to soak up the Milky Way each night. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s long gone, chasing his dream of becoming an actor. My little brother has always been different to me. He’s real persistent, like one of them snappin turtles—once an idea enters his head, he refuses to let it go. Which brings me back to Papa. There was this one time when Jimmy went looking for clues and searched Mama’s room. She was out at the time, working down at Ray’s Diner where they serve coffee and toast to people who can’t afford nothin else. That day, he found a letter in one of Mama’s drawers. It was from our papa—at least we figured as much. The letter was signed by someone called Tyler—that’s how we discovered his name, which Mama’s never spoken. Sometimes I try to picture what Tyler might look like. Mostly, I imagine him as dark-haired and tall with midnight-blue eyes, like John Wayne’s. Naturally, he wears a Stetson hat along with expensive-looking leather chaps. Tyler can handle a horse real good. Sometimes I imagine him coming by on a pretty palomino mare. The first thing he’ll say is that he’s real sorry for not being around much and that things are gonna change. Next, he’ll fill me in on all the bull riding competitions he’s won and give me one of his shiny medals to hang inside the caravan. Then we’ll ride on his mare for hours, drinking in the big sky country where distant horizons shimmer with hope and promise. He’ll even show me how you can get a horse to listen by holding the reins a certain way, or moving a leg just so. When he leaves, he says he’ll be back real soon and that things are gonna be different from now on, that we’re making a fresh start. But according to the letter Jimmy found, Tyler wasn’t up for being a daddy no more. He weren’t no good at it, was what he said, and the responsibility of fatherhood was more than he could bear. Although I guess he must have hung around for at least a few years, given the letter was dated 21st May, 1971. By then I was already five and Jimmy would have been three. Anyway, Tyler said he was gonna follow the professional bull riding tour and that he wouldn’t be coming back. Then the words stopped and he signed off. Just like that. Sometimes I wonder if his love for us stopped in the middle of nowhere, too, or if it might still be alive, beating-on—thumping, thumping—like the heart that’s cornered inside my chest. I’ve often thought about heading to a rodeo in town to see if I might find a man named Tyler who looks like John Wayne, but this place has got a strange kind of hold on me and I never wander far. Instead, I let my imagination run wild while I’m waiting for Jimmy to come visit me and Mama. He promised he would—‘I’ll come back when I’m rich and buy us a house in the Hollywood Hills with a sparkling pool and giant garden’—that’s what he said. But we ain’t seen him in almost two years. He’s probably strutting across the floorboards in some Los Angeles theatre, performing in front of fans who want to meet him and shake his hand and get an autograph. Still, I reckon he’ll most likely turn up any day. Hell, he might even be on his way right this moment. When he arrives, we’ll sit back and talk and joke around like we used to. And who knows—maybe I’ll get into university and ace my way through and end up working with NASA, who’ll fly me into space where I’ll float amongst the stars and look down on the earth and see this little patch in the desert called home, and I’ll finally realize I’m free to stop longing for things that can never be. Any day now. Any day.

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


Calm in Hell’s Canyon Anita Holle Pastel

Foggy Paradise The early morning was foggy grey everywhere, still water geese honking, a floating paradise I felt amazed No one was there I wanted to save the moment I wanted to hold onto the silence It was unearthly An odesssy in that morning ~ Zach Serrett


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Verses to Visions Water Street Studio’s Final Show May 2016

After three years of creative service to the arts community of Fredericksburg, Water Street Writing and Art Studio held its final show, Verses to Visions, wherein local writers shared poems to inspire artists to create new artwork. The show was a mirror of The Art of Poetry, a show that inspired poets to write from original pieces of art as their inspiration. Both shows exemplified the mission of Water Street from its inception, to support and promote the creative arts community and blend the lines between art and writing genres. Water Street’s creators - Lynette L. Reed, Elizabeth Seaver, and Susan Carter Morgan - remain active within the arts community of Fredericksburg. Reed and Seaver have moved into LibertyTown Arts Workshop, each with her own studio, and Morgan has a studio above Forage on William Street where she houses her ever-growing array of letterpress equipment. Ultimately, FLAR would not be in existence without Water Street’s vision. Thank you!

Watershed Where does the river ever endto north or south, the banks? The mouth to east? The source to west? Of course, for miles around it soaks the ground and effervesces on the wind. You take a jug of sweet iced tea outside, to where the summer air will gently pass against the glass, begin to shiver, leave the river dripping, glinting, plain to see. When warmth goes in, you take the hint and tea- no ice. The winter's nice seen out from in, but even then is overlain the windowpane the river's lacy fingerprint.

~ Madison Seaver

Lemon With Your Lemonade Maddy Wilson Gouache

Verses to Visions



Christina Bendo Ceramic and Pine Needles

It has been a month since my last Confession Under this pine cathedral.


By Jenna Veazey

Weakness brought me back. Pain tightens its grip on my soul. I seek divine release, Oh Sweet Jesus! Thrums from locusts, late-season frogs, chickadee-dee-dee Over my monastic silence. The giant horsefly, gadfly of all peace, refuses my flailing rejections. Too focused on snake-like sticks I collide with spidery captains clinging to their webs. I do battle with each filament, tormenting stray hairs. Each step, one step closer. There is no reprieve. And yet I see stained glass where sun filters through the darkened canopy Making opposite shadows appear On the dry-needled floor.


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


Harlow Chandler Photo on Maple Wood

Stradivarius The place where sea meets shore, ocean plays land like a bow and violin, sawing back and forth. The tune that it makes is hushed over and over by the waves and the sand. ~ Carol Phifer

Verses to Visions



Kat Warren Mixed Media

The Ascent Come, walk with me a while. The slope here is gentle. The gradient will increase ere long, but for now, walk easily beside me. The trees move gently by. Occasionally there is a break between stands of pines, where we can glimpse how far we’ve come, not bothering to check how far we have yet to go. The ascent requires all our focus. Each step a journey of its own. No unnecessary words pass between us. There will be a time, as the grade increases, when I will have to ask you to turn aside so that I may travel on alone, despite your reluctance. We both know I must make the last few steps in solitude, with reverence. Fear not, as I break free at last of the company of even the trees, the view from the peak will be the joyful culmination of the climb. My view is different, yet still I am able to see you from here. The steps we took side by side seen from here as a golden thread in the tapestry of time, hung gracefully upon the walls of heaven, the great weaver at Her loom. In Her hand the thread of my life, not cut short, but trailing out behind Her still, so much of the story yet to be told. The slightest of smiles upon Her lips, Her hands deftly weave my thread into a new portion of the tapestry. This ascension then, not the end of the story, but simply the beginning of the next ascent. ~ Lynda Allen

Verses to Visions



Leslie Brier Mixed Media

Abandoned a wooden boat rests on neglected weeds

a pond sleeps, a wife drifts unmoored

~ Susan Carter Morgan


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

A Kiss and a Shirt You were here a moment ago, or years as it may be, sitting across from me in the club chair staring while I read the paper in your flannel shirt. A smile graced your face. You were late for work. Destroyed by your kisses, my lips stung with salt from the eggs. Lazily you lingered at the door. Your shirt, I offered, teasing later this moment remains bright lips brushing collar bone, fingers tangling hair even after returning your shirt pressed and hung to your locked front door. ~ A.E. Bayne

Pieces of Me

Cathy Craddock Mixed Media

Verses to Visions


Weihnailiupis (Song of Weihnai) Barbara Posey Fiber

211 FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Weihnailiuþis (Song of Weihnai) By Mikaela D’Eigh

I left behind My quills and scrolls And tapestries of yore To find their tale Lived true and strong By tested heart and pure.

And here the song Grows louder till At last our voices meet. And at the door A brave knight stands Alone and incomplete.

These birches tall These maples fair Beneath their green-eyed gaze I dreamed my dreams Of heroes past Reliving ancient days.

Who is this man Who stands so tall, Yet sorrow stains his soul. A soldier true A warrior strong Who gave his king his all.

What sudden chill From deep within As Autumn’s leaves away? Here have I walked How far, how long In Winter’s dark embrace?

Shoulder to shoulder Brother and son They fought to keep the lands Family and life Daughter and wife. They fell to crimson hands.

I pause to look And turn around To see a wondrous sight: Behind, the Fall, Her leaves still brown. Before, the Winter’s white.

Adrift, bereft Of kith and kin, He’s all that’s left behind. Now here he stands A ghost? A man? An exile out of time.

Yet yonder light Touches my soul And pulls me closer still. And stranger sound I ne’er have heard So high, so dark, so shrill.

Closer we walk Deeper the snow Wind whipping ‘round the stones. Heart beats in fear The dream will end As fingers clasp my own.

In hope and fear I wander on To seek its shining end. Its mournful notes Play at my heart, Its echoes deep within.

Notes linger on, End in a sigh, As life and lore embrace. I feel his arms, I hear his voice, I gaze upon his face.

The last leaf turns And lightly falls, A snowflake white and cold. Its cousins fly About, around The ruins, majestic, old.

Seated beside My quills and scrolls And tapestries of yore, I trace the tale As snowflakes dance Outside my cottage door.

Verses to Visions



I forgot to fasten my seatbelt or strap on the shoulder harness because I was too busy telling you you're my Jesus- you save me from myself. “Yeah,” you said, heating the Mercury past fifty down the midnight straightaway on Ridge Road. “But I don't walk on water for you, I don't turn it to wine, I don't know my multiplication tables for the fishes and the loaves, I don't ask you to leave everything and come, follow me, I don't move boulders, I can't raise the dead, I forgot the Beatitudes, I'm too shy to give the Sermon on the Mount, I'm no martyr, I'm nobody you'd ever want to worship—“ You hit sixty then and the trees closed the spaces between themselves and the moon split in two like a cell dividing. I'd been out this road before with other girls, but none like you that drove me so fast, left me so breathless, convinced me of my need for salvation. I forgot everything when the needle kissed seventy: my last name, where we were going, the way back home. Too late I remembered the road turned gravel and cut hard right near the railroad bridge high over Potomac Creek, but you'd got us to eighty by then, it wouldn't have mattered. I go back a lot of nights to sit under that bridge and listen to the gasp of the water where it finds your car planted vertical in the creek bed. Others make the pilgrimage too, and I hear them-strangers perched above me on trestles, pointing up through the trees, saying “There's where they left the road and there's the broken branches, and there's the trajectory: a hundred feet out, fifty feet down--they're lucky they got out alive.” I don't say a word, of course. What's the use? Your mother won't let me see you any more so the car in the creek is as close as I can get. I finger the horseshoe scar around my eye--I got that from the windshield--and I grind my teeth thinking I can still taste the mud where I landed face first until you unhooked your seatbelt, climbed down the hood, and pulled me out. You said you weren't no Jesus of mine, but if your mother would give me a chance I'd at least tell you this one good thing: Baby, miracles like us don't happen every day.


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Miracles Like us Didn’t Happen Every Day Tiffany Mei Yates Earthenware

Verses to Visions


Autumn Falling

Joyce Leatherwood Textile


FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2


By Lynette L. Reed It is not quite 4pm and the shadows are stretching long across the yard. The sun no longer warms at this time of day but the sky is brilliant and clear. The air feels crisp and distant sounds travel with the illusion of being close by. In the shade the grass is still green. It feels cool and damp against my skin but I can see the brown, burnt ends caused by last night’s frost. Our stately, old maple has started to shed its leaves. The faint sweet smell of decay lingers as a pile of brilliant yellows, reds, and orange fade to brown at its feet. Even the bird calls have changed. Gentle tunes of Warblers and songbirds have been replaced by a cacophony of caws and honking high overhead. I pull my sweater closer and lift my face to the last rays of a setting sun.

Verses to Visions


Winter Solstice By John Warner I. The story shifts, perilously moving apart like spiraling air masses energy licks and darts where the edges meet thunderclaps break the sky winds howl in protest my eyes sting from the dust of forgotten moments I stumble, unsure, but I don’t fall after a while it is still again, still and dark not bright and calm as when I came to this place my footing steady again for a walk along the water that has still not settled, grey and swollen now only then do I realize this is not the place I started out. II. The house is set back where I expected it but it’s not the same house I knew the creaking of the porch swing is familiar like a language I once spoke but the light is different, softer, lower as if time has passed without calendar pages falling have I been sleeping while life paraded by or did I just step through I walk inside thinking about time and memory yesterday like sand I cannot hold tomorrow like a breath not taken I catch the smells of the kitchen down the hall Beckoning.

All the Stories Begin Here David Lovegrove Photo Transfer / Acrylic

217 FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

III. This is where everything came from the faces, the voices, the moments now fading ghosts and whispers of spice a forgotten smile shared in secret the stories, all the stories, began here I’m caught off guard, a tear in my eye not remembered, but felt, there is loss, but something new, shining I walk as if in a ceremony and fill the coffee pot watching out the window, the sunlit field as I draw the dark brew into my cup, warming my hands, I sit in the stillness breathing.

A Seasoned Love It is strength of mature years and memories of loves too eagerly claimed and lost that keep me from running my fingers through your hair too soon. I've learned to savor and taste each spice, each fruit, each flavor. Still lightning flashes when you look at me so close. Your eyes are soft now but I've seen them steady and brown like trees so tall and strong. I've climbed them to their tops to see the promise of our future.

Egg Inspection Elizabeth Seaver Acrylic

I can only imagine what you see in mine. ~Tramia Jackson

Verses to Visions


A final word before we sign off ... As our world becomes more volatile and divided, and our opportunities for truly understanding one another appear slimmer by the day, remember that there more among us who hold the promise of a peaceful world in their hearts than those who do not. Renda Writer is one such person. He has dedicated his artistic life to spreading the message of peace, believing that if you put it out there as a reminder, it might just take hold in people’s hearts. Renda says, “I don’t know that this mural or any collection of murals will create actual change, but it will set into motion the energy of change. I believe in speaking and writing things into existence; that resonates with me completely as an artist and a writer. It’s the inspiration for the tour. I’m going to write World Peace over and over with the knowledge that sometimes the things you write turn into existence. I’ve seen it with my other murals. I wrote a wall of positive self-affirmations: I am healthy, I am confident, I am organized, and other positive “I am” statements. I saw those things manifest in my life and their energy impacted me. Then I thought a message like this would be for the greater good - for everyone.” Renda painted a mural here in Fredericksburg over the summer, which is on display at Art Mart Gallery at 1405 Princess Anne Street. Visit his website World Peace Mural Tour to find out where he’s been and where he’s going with his hopeful message for change.

How will you create peace in our world today?

Š Michelle Pierson for Art Mart

Index of Artists 180

CRAWFORD, William C., is a photographer based in Winston-Salem, NC. This is the third image in a series which highlights the use of Forensic Foraging to locate and elevate the trite, trivial, and mundane to urban eye candy. That is to say as impromptu modern art. ForensicForaging.com


BYRNES, Elizabeth is diving into the art scene with a personal approach. She has been an artist and educator for almost 20 years and has found her inner strength, power and woman again. Working mainly in mixed media, the premise of her work is based on the ugly, man made idea that women in our society are expected to be in a bodily category of a smaller stature, height, weight in order to attract, be accepted, be sexy, gain wealth, popularity and love. She fights this with her work. All women are gorgeous no matter what and I try to show that in all my pieces.

83, 112

HOWER, Michael, is a photographer from central Pennsylvania who has been working in the digital medium for the past four years. Over that time, he has amassed a resume of more than forty juried exhibitions. He has had two solo shows in Wilmington, Delaware and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the past year. Hower was also a part of a collaborative show, Legend, at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts in Hamilton, Ohio this past winter.

171, 195

121, 201

LESTER, Connie, began painting in 2007 while living in Fredericksburg, VA. She enjoys oils and acrylics. Recently, her focus has shifted to watercolors.


LOTHRIGEL, Jennifer, is a poet and artist residing in the San Francisco Bay area. Her work has been published in Trivia - Voices of Feminism, Narrative Northeast, Poetry Quarterly, The Tishman Review, Corvus Review, The Bitter Oleander and elsewhere. www.JenniferLothrigel.com

40, 79 191

ORDOUBADI, Saeed, is a retired economist, statistician and college professor, who spends his newly-found life with photography, painting, writing and enjoying his four wonderful grandchildren.



KOSSMAN, Nina, is a bilingual writer, poet, painter, sculptor, and playwright. Born in Moscow, she exhibited her paintings and root sculptures in the 1990s, until her interest shifted to writing. With these sculptures and paintings she is returning to art. Her English-language publications include Behind the Border (Wm. Morrow, 1994, 1996 / HarperCollins) and Gods and Mortals (Oxford University Press, 2001). Her translations of Marina Tsvetaeva’s poetry were collected in two books, In the Inmost Hour of the Soul (Humana Press, 1989) and Poem of the End (Ardis, 1998). Her work was awarded the UNESCO/PEN Short Story Award in London (1995), an NEA grant (1999) as well as grants from the Onassis Foundation and Foundation for Hellenic Culture. Her poems and stories were published in many literary magazines such as Tin House, The Threepenny Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Columbia, Confrontation, and her translations of Russian poems appeared in anthologies such as Twentieth Century Russian Poetry (Doubleday, 1993), The Gospels in Our Image (Harcourt Brace, 1995), The World Treasury of Poetry (Norton, 1998), and Divine Inspiration (Oxford University Press, 1998), etc. Her Russian poems are collected in two books: “Pereboi”, published in Moscow, and “Po Pravuyu Ruku Sna”, published in the US. Two of her short plays were produced off-offBroadway. One of her plays is included in Best Women Playwrights 2000. www.ninakossman.com

PURDY, Britnae, is an amateur writer and photographer. Her writing has been published by Bitch Media, Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Catalyst Wedding Co., and her photos have appeared in Conde Nast Traveler and Durham Magazine. She is a 2009 graduate of the University of Mary Washington and long-time fan of the growing creative arts scene in Fredericksburg. She currently live in Durham, NC. www.nerdingabroad.com .

FLAR / Fall 2016 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Index of Artists 85

RE, Cindee Snider, is the wife of the man she loves most in this world, mama of five world-shaking creatives (ages 15-23), author, photographer, craver of quiet, lover of cotton, denim, Jesus and tea, and co-founder of Chronic Joy Ministry, Inc. Re believes that art matters, because it nourishes the soul, teaches us to see, to feel, to experience and savor.

78, 90 141

REED, Lynette L., Although Lynette has a degree in Fine Arts her main interests are Fiber Arts, Book Arts and most recently the ancient art of marbling. Currently she maintains a studio at Libertytown Arts Workshop where has set up a marbling area and co-teaches bookbinding classes. www.bylynettereed.com

94 123

RICHARDS, Karen, is an artist and teacher living in Fredericksburg. She has been teaching art for close to 25 years, inspiring artists of all ages (elementary, middle, high school and adults). She earned her BA in Studio Art from The University of Mary Washington and my Masters from VCU.

151 106

VYSE, Richard, Internationally collected artist Richard Vyse has studied at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and taught at Pratt in Brooklyn. His art nas been featured in many international magazines and is in the Leslie+Lohman Museum in NYC. See published art at - manartbyvyse.blogspot.com WHITMORE, Dawn, is a unique individual. The proverbial square peg, who refuses to fit into a ‘circle world’. She loves her camera, coffee, Capitals and Christ. Five years ago, great change entered Dawn’s life through illness. God would use the gift of a camera from her husband to bring her through a period of

We celebrated the first anniversary of FLAR on November 5, 2016 in Fredericksburg. In true FLAR fashion, I asked partygoers to participate in a kind of modified exquisite corps. When writers and artists collide, you get The Bird's Lipgloss (thanks for the title, Elizabeth Seaver). Brave Participants: Emily Barker, Shelby Barker, Hsi-Mei Yates, Thea Verdak, Lori Izykowski, James Noll, Angie Noll, Shayli Lesser, Maddie Huddle, Georgia Strentz, Elizabeth Seaver, D.D. Lecky, and Amy Bayne.



Index of Writers 35 - 38


ALTMAN, Dick, is an ex-pat from the New York branding world. He writes from the high, thin air of Santa Fe, NM, where imagination and reality easily blur. His work has appeared here and elsewhere, and won first prize for poetry in the Santa Fe New Mexican’s 2015 literary competition. He holds an MA in English from the University of Chicago. dickaltman@earthlink.net AWALT, Don 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 built the ceramics department through a government grant and taught ceramics and architecture until 1973. His Recent writing includes Breaking Ground - To Build A Shrine Of Spirit (2015), Poems - A Selection Of Diverse Poems (2016), and Short Stories - Selected Stories and Essays (2016).


COLE, Danielle, lives and works in Philadelphia. Her poetry has appeared in Apeiron Review. Her critical film essays can be found at www.thefilmleague.com. Her playwriting has been viewed at The Painted Bride Art Center. She is currently working on a play inspired by a teenage relationship with an incarcerated pen pal.

145 - 150

CONWAY, Tom, currently works as a 7th grade English teacher in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He spends a lot of time encouraging students to take their writing seriously and to look for an audience, while he himself carries around a flash drive containing thousands of pages of journals, stories, poems, and other bits of flotsam that have never been published. Conway believes it’s time for him to give his students a real reason to take him seriously. He has been published here and in Front Porch Fredericksburg Magazine.

109 - 111

FALZOI, Jessie, was born in Hamburg and raised in Lübeck, Germany. After stays in the US and France, she moved to Berlin in the beginning of the nineties, where she still live with her three children. Falzoi’s stories, as well as her translation of Donald Barthelme’s “Sentence,” were published in American, Russian, Indian, German, Swiss, Irish, British and Canadian magazines and anthologies. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada College.

95 - 96

FRATOE, Frank, 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.


FERGUSON, PhD, CLS, speaks, signs, acts, publishes, sings, performs, writes, paints, teaches and rarely relaxes. She and her husband, Rich Ferguson are raising their Bernese Mountain Border Collie Mutt, Sadie in Hollywood, CA.


GILLIAM, Gabby, graduated from Mary Washington College with a degree in English. She now lives in Maryland with her husband and five year old son, who is a constant source of inspiration.

188 - 190

GRANDIS, Roxanne, has an MFA in fiction from New York University and an MT in secondary English education from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has taught writing at New York University, University of Phoenix and J. Sargeant Reynolds community college. She currently lives in Richmond with her husband and ten year old son.


GREEN, Bill, is a retired English professor from Kentucky and Georgia by way of Louisiana and Alabama. Green is active in Fredericksburg, Virginia, as an actor, director, playwright, and musician.

81 - 82

GUNTER, Susan E., has published poems in journals around the country. She lives in Santa Rosa, CA, and is on the board at the Marin Poetry Center.


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Index of Writers 75


HENRY, Sarah is a former student of Robert Hass and Louise Gluck (put double dots above the u) 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. Farther afield, Sarah’s work was published by Soundings East, The Hollins Critic and many other journals, as well as six anthologies. She participates in local workshops. HERBERT-GOODALL, Eileen, is a writer of fiction and non-fiction. She holds a Doctorate of Creative Arts, which she earned at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. As co-director of the online writing organisation, Field of Words, Eileen is dedicated to helping other writers improve upon their craft. Her novella, The Sherbrooke Brothers, is due to be released in February, 2017. She is presently working on another novella, as well as a collection of short stories.

87 - 88

KELL, Charles, is a PhD student at The University of Rhode Island and editor of The Ocean State Review. His poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Orleans Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, floor_plan_journal, The Manhattanville Review, and elsewhere. He teaches in Rhode Island and Connecticut.


LUNDGREN, Zachary, received his MFA in poetry from the University of South Florida and his BA in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder and grew up in northern Virginia. He has had poetry published in several literary journals and magazines including The Louisville Review, The Portland Review, Barnstorm Journal, The Adirondack Review, and the University of Colorado Honors Journal.

181 - 182

MARSHELL, Alli, lives in Asheville, N.C., where she is the Arts & Entertainment editor for alternative newsweekly Mountain Xpress. She recently won the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, the 2016 Shrewd Writer prize and was a runner-up in the annual Rash Award for Fiction. Last year, she published her debut novel, How to Talk to Rockstars (Logosophia Books, May 2015). www.alli-marshall.com


MICHAEL, Jason J., is an area actor, director, music director, composer, and poet who—along with his wife Nancy, son John Adams, and their three cats—lives in King George, VA. He is Music Director of Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg. His books can be found on Amazon.com.

120 105



O’HAY, Charles, has had work appearing in over 150 literary journals, including Kentucky Review, Gargoyle, Cortland Review, and the New York Quarterly. PISARRA, Drew, has worked in the digital sphere on behalf of a number of iconic TV series (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead) but now writes plays, short stories and poetry. His work has appeared in Swink, Thin Air, and St. Petersburg Review among other publications. He is currently working on a series of poems inspired by the movies of R.W. Fassbinder. You can also check out KoreanGrindhouse.blogspot. com, his blog devoted to Korean movies. PUNKY, MK, is the author of many books, most recently the novel The Termite Squad, and a winner of the 2016 Stratford-upon-Avon creative writing contest. MK Punky serves as poet laureate of Vista Street Community Library in Los Angeles. PURSCH, Tyler, is a poet and short story writer living in Spokane, Washington. He has forthcoming work in The Wire Harp and The Conium Review. When he's not building sets for The Modern Theater, he's hanging out in the back of poetry slams and editing work for his writing group, The Post Script.



Index of Writers 107 - 108


73 - 74

39 193

153 - 154

RAJAN, Kristin Bryant, is a PhD in English, with a focus on Virginia Woolf. She currently teaches at a community college in Atlanta, GA and enjoys writing fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. She was recently chosen as a 2016 Pushcart nominee for a creative nonfiction piece. She finds writing to be an extension of her daily meditation practice, opening her awareness to the wonders of each day. RHODES, Allison, hails from Victoria, Canada where she works as an English teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology, as well as a Bachelor of Education. She also maintains a longstanding love of dance, and, to this day, continues to keep a canvas-slipper-clad foot in that door. Her writing has appeared both online and in print, with recent publications in Punchnel’s, Firewords Quarterly, Poetry Quarterly, and Form Quarterly. SANDER, Ellen, is a pioneering New York rock journalist and author of Trips: Rock Life in the Sixties. Sander incubated her poetry in Bolinas, California in the seventies. She was the Poet Laureate of Belfast, Maine in 2013 and 2014. Her poetry has been published in Chiron Review, Social Anarchism, Saturday Afternoon Journal and others, in the chapbooks Stand of Herons and Craters, as well as being featured in the summer 2015 issue of Off The Coast and the 2016 anthology, Cross-Strokes. Her works will be published in the forthcoming issues of The Maine Review. Oculus Vox, Antithesis and The American Journal of Poetry. She is on the board of the Belfast Poetry Festival and a member of Beyond Baroque. Her forthcoming chapbook, Hawthorne, a House in Bolinas will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2017. SCHAFFER, Debbie, is a world traveler who has found roots in the soil of Virginia, her home for over 30 years. She began at a young age collecting words and using them to describe the joys and sorrows of her everyday life, and it now consumes her waking and sleeping hours. SENECHAL de la ROCHE, Roberta, is an American historian, sociologist, and poet born in western Maine. She now lives in the woods outside of Charlottesville, Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains. She graduated from the University of Southern Maine and the University of Virginia, where she received a doctoral degree in history. She is currently Professor of History at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Her poems have appeared in the Colorado Review; Literary Juice; Still: The Journal; the Front Porch Review; Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and the Big River Review, and also were selected for publication in the 2011 and 2015 Montreal International Poetry Prize Longlist. SEABORN, Heidi, An accomplished poet in her youth, Seaborn took a very long break. After three decades, three kids, four marriages, 27 moves and a business career, she started writing again with the advantage of all that experience. Living in Seattle, she currently benefits from David Wagoner’s mentorship. Her poetry has or will appear in Gold Man Review, Flying South 2016 Anthology, Windfall, Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Ekphrastic Review, the Voices Project, the Ice Dream Anthology and elsewhere.


SIMMERS, d. n., is an online editor of Fine Lines. New work is in Poets Touchstone, Tears in the Fence (UK), The Capilano Review and he is in a just launched chapbook about food called Menu. Online, he is in the potomac, riverbabble. He has six published chapbooks, and his current book of poems is in a contest. He was in the international anthology, Van Gogh’s Ear, Paris, France.


STRENZ, Georgia, is a woman and retired teacher who is exploring life again, but with different boundaries.

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STROUSE, Melanie, is currently living in Brooklyn where she is attending graduate school at The New School. Her work has previously been featured in Dirty Chai and The Offbeat. 3blondmice.wordpress.com


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Index of Writers 144


SULLIVAN, Rory, is a graduate student at the University of Virginia, specializing in medieval literature. Having attended the College of William and Mary for undergrad, he is trying to decide how he feels about tracing the path of Thomas Jefferson. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, and listens to the trains going by at night. TRAINER, Jim, has work that has appeared in Raw Paw 6: Alien, The Waggle, Philadelphia Stories, Divergent Magazine, Anthology Philly, The Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Verbicide Magazine, A Series of Moments and PoetryInk. The release of September, his second full-length collection of poetry, coincides with the founding of Yellow Lark Press. Trainer lives in Austin, Texas where he serves as curator of Going For The Throat, a weekly publication of cynicism, outrage, correspondence, and romance. Please visit jimtrainer.net.

167 - 170

VOLLMAN, Tommy, is a writer, musician, and painter. He has written a number of things, published a bit, recorded a few records, and toured a lot. Recently, he’s had stories appear in Palaver, Pithead Chapel, Empty Sink, Crab Fat Magazine, Critical Pass Review, Literary Orphans, and Per Contra. Vollman was selected as an Honorable Mention for Glimmer Train’s “Family Matters”, and was a finalist for Glimmer Train’s “Short-Story Award for New Writers”. He has some black-ink tattoos on both of his arms. Vollman really likes Raymond Carver, Two Cow Garage, Tillie Olsen, Greg Dulli, Tom Colicchio, Willy Vlautin, and Albert Camus. He’s working on a novel entitled Tyne Darling. Vollman will release a new record, These Ghosts, in the fall of 2016. He currently teaches English at Milwaukee Area Technical College and prefers to write with pens poached from hotel room cleaning carts.

55 - 57

WALLS, Angie, is a short story writer, novelist, and screenwriter who grew up in Springfield, Missouri, near the Ozarks. Many of her stories explore contemporary themes of identity, isolation, and helplessness in the Midwest. She is the award-winning screenwriter and director behind “Redmonton,” a new web series inspired by her hometown, and has published stories in various journals including Stirring, Cutthroat, Halfway Down the Stairs, The Helix, and The Griffin. This winter, she will be releasing a new book of short stories, Anywhere But Here. To learn more, visit her website at AuthorAngieWalls.com.



97 - 98

VERDAK, Thea, writes short stories, flash fiction, and minimalist poetry. She is currently writing eco-fiction. Thea worked for the Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc., was the founder and president of the Rappahannock Humane Society, and is the author of The Barn Teacher, I Can’t Pee Straight, and is finalizing Sleepy Jenny. Thea is an animal rights activist, has travelled widely, is a keen walker, and reads profusely while listening to language tapes, @TheaVerdak. VEAZEY, Jenna Villforth, is a member of the Water Street Writers. Whenever she isn’t writing, she enjoys floating away on her kayak while watching all the birds on the river. Otherwise, she's coaching volleyball or working in her local children's bookstore. She has poems published in Baby Bug Magazine and Highlights High Five, as well as The Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review. You can find her on Instagram @Stirrings and Stories. ZAKARIYA, Sally, has poems that have appeared in numerous print and online journals and won prizes from Poetry Virginia and the Virginia Writers Club. She is author of Insectomania (2013) and Arithmetic and other verses (2011), and is editor of Joys of the Table: An Anthology of Culinary Verse. Her chapbook When You Escape is forthcoming from Five Oaks Press. Zakariya blogs at www.ButDoesItRhyme.com.



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The submission window for the spring 2017 edition of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review will open on March 1, 2017. Visit our website for submission guidelines. Read previously published issues of FLAR and order hard copies at our website: fredericksburgwriters.com

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