Fredericksburg Literary & Art Review Volume 5, Issue 1 Spring & S ummer 2017
JOAN CRITZ LIMBRICK * TROY HOWELL * BECK LANE * ROSCOE BURNEMS ANDRÃ‰A BUTLER * LISA BETH * RIVERSIDE WRITERS * PONSHOP * MELISSA TERLIZZI KRISTEN LePINE * FRANK FRATOE * CASEY SHAW * RONNIE SIDNEY II PATRICK NEUSTATTER * ANTHONY SILVER * THE WORKSHOP * SYLVIA DeVOSS
FLAR logo by Elizabeth Seaver © 2013 Cover Art by Joan Critz Limbrick, The Fishmonger’s Wife © 2011 “The Fishmonger's Wife” is this ample woman who sells her fish/ideas/ideals to someone who is hungry. To me, fish represent, not religion, but higher spiritual knowledge available to all of us – sacred information that we can learn from the most unlikely people. Sometimes I call this painting “Ruby” because I feel I know her intimately and want to address her in a personal way. What fish/secret from the deep does she hold up for me today? What will be the price to pay? “The Universe will rearrange and arrange itself to your thoughts” is the fish she sells. Collection of Farren and Thomas Baer
EDITOR in CHIEF A.E. Bayne PUBLISHER Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review LITERARY PANEL
Lynda Allen Tom Conway Jim Gaines Drew Gallagher Xaviar Jenerette
Jayme Baugess Joelle Cathleen Kenneth Lecky Tiffany Yates
www.fredericksburgwriters.com Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review @FredLitReview FLAR
By donating to Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, our patrons are making it possible for us to continue promoting the literary and visual arts in and beyond Fredericksburg. We have been able to move to a more reliable submission format due in part to the outreach and promotional efforts that donations allow us. Our patrons’ contributions show that they place a value on independent publishing and the process of critical review. Thank you, each and every one, for helping us make this endeavor possible. ~ A.E. Bayne
Member Supporters Bob McNichols Thea Verdak Anita Holle Barbara Deal LBS Goldsmithing
Sustaining Supporters 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.
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.
Dear Lovers of a Luscious World, Time. Volumes have been written about it - how it waits for no one; how it heals all wounds; how it flies when one is having fun. We talk about its beginnings and endings, ignorant of the big picture; endings are beginnings, after all. We carve time, and spend it, save it, and certainly waste it. We rely on the wisdom of those who have come before us to influence our futures without ever really appreciating the only time that is real: now.
A fine and frivolous fantasy is time, which whips around the glass, boldly sublime. Ignoring all protesting, the milieu wages any war that might ensue. Never ebbing, like a sentient wave, or a fickle lunar escapade, its steady hands ever blindly gripping overburdened threads frail from the ripping.
We hope you enjoy this edition of FLAR. We believe support of the arts is a worthy use of oneâ€™s time. As precious as time is, we appreciate that you would choose to spend some of yours with us today. Best Always,
is the editor in chief and publisher of Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review and is an organizing partner in the Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival. She is a writer, visual artist, and educator living in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Bayne hosts a blog for educators called The Write Stuff - Virginia. She can be read monthly in Fredericksburg Front Porch Magazine, and her photography and artwork may be viewed virtually on Facebook and at aebayne.com.
Letter from the Editor
Spring 2017 Literary Panel LYNDA ALLEN
Lynda Allen is a poet, author, and practitioner of peace and mindfulness. One of Lynda’s greatest joys is listening, and writing what she hears. She has found comfort, inspiration, insight, and wisdom in the words that move through her. They are words that speak to the heart, inspire one to heed the call of their heart, and embrace their journey, both the light and the dark, with joy and wonder. Another of Lynda’s passions is helping to create a more peaceful world through her personal meditation practice, and by helping others with their personal practice. Her books, The Rules of Creation, Illumine, and Rest in the Knowing are available through her website therulesofcreation.com.
Tom Conway is a 7th grade English teacher at Thornburg Middle School and an unrealized literary talent currently dabbling in poetry and journaling extensively while contemplating the possibility of writing several novels that will make him a household name. He has had several poems and a short story published in FLAR, and has written sporadically for other publications when the mood strikes. If you are a fan of his work, it is important for you to know that he will do anything for money, since teaching doesn’t pay that well. electronicshakespearedreams.blogspot.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, was released in 2016 and the next, Spy Station, will launch later this year. gainesscifi.blogspot.com
Drew started writing at age three with limited success, but it was his early struggles with scissors that has defined him as a person. After another 25 years of writing, it became apparent that Drew’s ability to read great prose was more developed than his ability to write great prose. He has been a book reviewer ever since and has written over 400 book reviews for The Free Lance-Star newspaper. He is a published poet, graduate of Mary Washington College, lives in Fredericksburg and is married with two children. His literary interests are represented by Jeannie Dahnk of the Glover & Dahnk law firm.
XAVIAR JENERETTE Transcriptions
Xaviar Jenerette recently graduated from George Mason University with a B.A. in English and is planning on pursuing a graduate degree in 2018. He currently lives in Fredericksburg where he writes for a variety of independent sources.
Spring 2017 Art Panel JAYME BAUGESS
Jayme “Jams” Bauguess was born in Woodbridge, Virginia in 1978. Jams works predominately with acrylic on canvas but has also worked in oils and even sculpture. Jams was accepted into Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) art program in 1996. She has had solo exhibits in Fredericksburg, VA and was one of the resident artists at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center, as well as Libertytown Arts Center. She has shown work in several group exhibits in the NOVA/DC area including Art Mart, Bistro Bethem, DC Raw Artists, and Lorton Workhouse. Jams is currently represented in several private art collections locally as well as internationally. She has shown work in other galleries such as Spaghetti Project, Ponshop, Back Door Gallery, FCCA Gallery and LibertyTown Arts Center. Her work can be seen at www.artbyjams.com Like her on FB @artbyjamsbauguess Follow her on Instagram @jamsbauguessart
Joelle Cahtleen 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. www.joellecathleen.com
I love to document and create. Sometimes the image I want is right in front of me to capture, sometimes I get to seek it out or help it along, and sometimes I get to make it out of nothing.I have an eclectic portfolio, but I think my best work falls into some combination of these categories: telling as much of a complete story as possible in a single photograph, using the particular nature of photography to explore subjects in new ways, and transporting the viewer to another place, time, or emotion.In 2013, my wife D.D. and I purchased LibertyTown Arts Workshop in Fredericksburg, Virginia from its founder Dan Finnegan. We’re proud to continue its mission of supporting local artists and teaching fine art and craft to all ages. You can find both D.D.’s pottery and my photographs on display at LibertyTown, along with work from 60 other artists. leckyphotography.com
Tiffany Mei Yates is an illustrator, designer and crafter. Her influence run the gamut: Fantasy books, sci-fi movies, comics, and various articles on the internet. Tiffany grew up helping out at art shows and spending many days after school in her mother’s studio, watching her make Chinese brush paintings. It was her mother that persuaded her to apply for VCU’s School of Arts. After graduating with a BFA in Communication Arts and BS in Psychology, Tiffany became a Graphic Art Instructor at Germanna Community College as well as the neighborhood’s friendly Gallery assistant at Libertytown. Five years later, Tiffany switched gears to work in the Public Health Services while focusing all of her creative energies on developing several personal series. Absurdity is a reoccurring theme depicted in her work that swings between humorous and eerie. Tiffany views her art making as compulsive, inevitable as a form of communication. Studio 23 in Libertytown Arts Workshop is also where her work can be found. www.tyates.net
Featured Profiles Joan Critz Limbrick
Artist / Painter Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 27
Jewelry Designer Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 103
Writer & Illustrator Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 47
Gabe and Scarlett Pons Gallery Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 119
AndrĂŠa Butler Editor / Publisher SESI Magazine Stafford, VA
Artist / Painter Miami, Florida Page 59
Poet The Writerâ€™s Den Poetry Slam Richmond, Virginia Page 75
Virginia Writing Club Fredericksburg Chapter Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 107
Polymer Artist Fredericksburg, Virginia
Kristen LePine Publisher Historic Heroines Alexandria, Virginia Page 151
Featured Profiles Frank Fratoe
Poet The Story of a Marriage Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 165
Artist / Painter Downtown Design Fredericksburg, Virginia
Woodworking Workspace Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 215
Photo Essay I Stand with Standing Rock Richmond, Virginia Page 217
Ronnie Sidney, II
Childrenâ€™s Writer Nelson Beats the Odds Tappahannock, Virginia
Artists & Writers Page A1
Patrick Neustatter Physician / Author Managing Your Doctor Fredericksburg, Virginia Page 193
Graphite / Protrait Artist Spotsylvania, Virginia Page 203
A.E. Bayne Mixed media on canvas
The Seamstress In the stillness she sits, tool in hand. Deliberately, methodically, she removes them one at a time; the glittering tip of the seam ripper dips deftly beneath each stitch. Tenderly she pulls and releases the thread from the fabric. At first the whole of it had been spread across her lap, stitched together over time, with intention. Now she lays gently aside each piece as the fabric comes apart at the seams. If only they could have seen the beauty of how the colors contrasted, and complemented each other when side by side. If only they could have remembered the intention with which the pieces had been sewn together. She can see it still, though the pieces are now strewn about her; so many stars fallen from the fabric of the skies. What allows her to continue with her work, one stitch at a time, with hope, is the knowing that the remnants, each star, each stripe, if stitched back together with a loving and steady hand, with a vision for how the colors side by side create the vivid, vibrant standard, will restore its glory. ~ Lynda Allen
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Class Reunion Mid-phrase he froze at the microphone Not from lack of vision but overcome For into his scrapbook litany had burst A picture only his teenage self could savor He and perhaps the bald and bearded brain Relic of the college preps who’d not replied But watched him sideways now intensely As Martians planning that planet’s next invasion For all his playground pals were lost in drink Or laughter or half-fantasies of getting laid Mouthing “Right on, Phil” as they fingered Azure pills and wondered if they’d have the nerve But all the speaker saw was two fresh girls Rocking on the swings at Stocker Park Laurie and Cookie complete but still undone Full to the senses but yet as yet unfelt Better than a candy-apple Mustang waiting To be revved and rocked to Mexico He tried to say to Buddy, Donnie, Dan How much anticipation was to be eighteen Though they sneered he was still a shagging short While Laurie and Cookie struggled to recall Pushing their way through veils of frazzled years ~ Jim Gaines
Jayme Baugess Acrylic on canvas
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Joelle Cathleen Acrylic on canvas
Holy Union There is a moment of holy union just before the sun rises, just before the day fully wakes, just before the spark of life ignites. In the stillness between the exhale and the birth of the new breath there is a moment of holy union. It is a moment of mystery, and creation, a moment of the undefinable taking on form, the old mingling with the yet to be, reaching out for each other in the stillness, and finding between them the holy. Arising from the holy union found in their embrace, my daily rebirth. ~ Lynda Allen
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Jayme Baugess Acrylic on canvas
7 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
By Tom Conway
o one in my first grade class liked Rachael. Raggedy and poorly dressed, she was as hard as a rock and had about as much personality. The rest of us nervously toiled away at our learning, carefully learning to form our letters, learning how to do basic addition, memorizing the first few presidents, reading out loud from the Cat in the Hat, and all of the other lame things first graders have to do. We all feared mistakes, and with good reason. Our teacher, Ms. Gordon, was a sadist. She was far and away the meanest teacher in the school, and quite possibly one of the meanest people to ever walk the earth. In later years, when we learned about dictators like Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot, I always had a picture in my mind of Ms. Gordon ranting and raving at the front of the room. I have no doubt that she would have devised some horrible death for those of us who failed her if, in fact, the school system would allow it, but fortunately even corporal punishment was forbidden. Cruelty, however, was not, and she made the most of it. She mercilessly mocked us for being wrong, for being late, for being confused, for stuttering, for stammering, for forgetting, for stumbling, and especially for saying the words “I don’t know.” Heaven forbid you didn’t know, because Ms. Gordon would make sure you knew the next time. The entire class would be directed to write down the answer on a Post-it, and then file by your desk and stick it to your forehead. And if you cried? She had a crybaby song. The entire class was ordered to sing as she bounced her ugly barrel of a body in front of your desk as you blubbered away, trying to sink out of sight through the seat of your pants. All of us cried at some point, and all of us sang. We sang because if we refused, we knew we would be the next ones to be made to cry. Ms. Gordon was proud of her ability to make absolutely anyone cry.
nd if you cried? She had a crybaby song. The entire class was ordered to sing as she bounced her ugly barrel of a body in front of your desk as you blubbered away, trying to sink out of sight through the seat of your pants. All of us cried at some point, and all of us sang. We sang because if we refused, we knew we would be the next ones to be made to cry. Ms. Gordon was proud of her ability to make absolutely anyone cry. Except for Rachael. If Rachael didn’t know the answer, she would sit like a statue as the kids came by, then slowly peel off those Post-its one by one, filing them away in a neat pile just inside the right front corner of her desk. Her face showed no expression. Her actions were spare and slight, deliberate and economical, almost machine-like. Rachael wasted nothing. Including words. Rachael didn’t speak often, but when she did it was only to speak the truth. And even then, she only spoke when she believed the truth would be heard. She seemed to understand innately what I wouldn’t learn for another thirty years: that truth was a powerful thing, and was much more likely than lies to create problems. Which was why we didn’t like her, even though she was the only one of us who could withstand, and even resist, Ms. Gordon. Rachael was honest, and her honesty wasn’t much better than Ms. Gordon’s cruelty. “I don’t like the crybaby song,” Nicky complained one day after we returned from the cafeteria. “I can’t help it if I cried.” “You cried because your mom sent a note to school saying you had to eat your carrots,” Rachael said matter-of-factly. We all looked at her. Those were the first words she had spoken all day. “You are a crybaby.” Nicky just looked at her. Then, she stuck out her tongue. FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Rachael shrugged and went back to work. A few days later, Monica and Penny invited Rachael to join them during free time. “We’re making Mother’s Day cards. Do you want to make one too?” “No.” “Why not?” “Because your mom will like it, but after a few days she’ll want to throw it away, but she won’t want to hurt your feelings so she’ll keep it in a box and show it to you when you’re going away to college, and then you’ll realize what a crappy job you did.” Monica and Penny went off and colored by themselves. Penny made a card with a monkey holding a flower. The monkey had a huge round head and a tiny, turd-like body. It looked like a basketball perched on a hotdog with arms. Monica’s card had a picture of a girl. You could tell by the pink body, which made her look naked, and the long curving line drawn on the back of the blue circle head that was supposed to represent long hair. She was riding on what appeared to be a purple lizard with a long, black, rounded wart on its forehead. “It’s a unicorn,” she said. She didn’t look very certain. Both girls ended up throwing their cards away. Rachael sat a few desks away drawing with colored pencils in her large, spiral-bound sketch book. She kept the book neatly on the bottom of a symmetrical stack of notebooks and library books on the left-hand side of her desk. No one ever got to see anything Rachael drew in there, though we suspected her drawings were pretty good. The drawings she did in class were always amazing, and Ms. Gordon had them plastered all over the walls of the room, often posted directly over the work of some other poor soul like Penny or Monica, who, like most first graders, still had to fill the viewer in on just what the drawing depicted. A few of my drawings were hidden behind Rachael’s works of art as well, including my rendering of John Turnbull’s painting depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which we had learned about on a field trip to the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Ms. Gordon led us through the building in single file, each of us keeping on hand on the shoulder of the student in front of us and one hand clamped tightly over our mouths. When the tour guide asked a question, Ms. Gordon would chose one of us to answer. We were forbidden from speaking at all in any other context. At the end of the tour, the guide told Ms. Gordon that we were the quietest group he had ever led on a tour. I don’t think it was a compliment, but she took it as one and rewarded us by allowing us fifteen minutes on the steps of the building during which we could whisper quietly while we ate our lunch. My mom had lovingly wrapped a Coca-Cola in tin foil and placed it in my paper bag with my sandwich, chips, and Snak-Pak pudding. Ms. Gordon confiscated the soda. 9 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
“Children should never, ever, have caffeine,” she said. “I turns them into unbearable lunatics.” I was proud of that drawing. Certainly, the overall presentation was a bit lacking – it featured two three-headed stick figure men representing patriots who were standing close together, a gaggle of circles with dot-and-curvedline faces representing the men in the gallery, and a single stick-figure front and center with a huge shock of bright-red hair representing Thomas Jefferson, who towered over the proceedings with an evil smile like a giant avenger striking fear into the others in the room, especially the squat little frowning man whose round body and frowny head perched on a crude chair behind a desk that was too small. (He was frowning, because I thought he was the King of England.) Considering that I drew the picture entirely from memory after we returned to the school, I was incredibly proud of the level of detail I had remembered to include. I added only one thing that was not in the original, because I thought Turnbull had been an idiot to leave it out in the first place. Behind Jefferson, the three-headed stick figure that was John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston, proudly held aloft an American Flag (though it only had three stripes, was kind of square-shaped, and I didn’t have a blue crayon, so the field in the upper corner was purple). The drawing Ms. Gordon chose to paste up directly over mine was one Rachael did of the Statue of Freedom, which is perched atop the Capitol Rotunda. Rachael’s rendering was sketched meticulously in pencil from a perspective just above the statue itself looking down on the National Mall so that the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial were visible in the background. It was accurate in nearly every respect. One could even discern, in front of the building, a small gathering of exactly 27 people, representing Ms. Gordon and each member of our class. The only departure from the true sculpture was the eagle head on Lady Freedom’s headdress. I recall nothing particularly striking about the face of that eagle in the actual sculpture, but the one in Rachael’s drawing wore an expression of desperate, murderous ferocity. It looked down like a true bird of prey on the little group below, 26 small pencil sketched bodies sitting in neat rows on the grass, and one larger body standing in their midst. Ms. Gordon treated Rachael’s work just as she treated everything else. She would look at every picture, frown, find fault, and then very delicately tape it on the wall above whatever childish monstrosity she wanted to single out for obliteration that day. “The Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial are too large in the distance. The perspective is all wrong. And why does the eagle on the headdress look so frightening? Ridiculous. I’ve seen better.” Rachael, of course, was as stoic about her drawings as she was about the crybaby song and the Post-its we stuck to her forehead. I’m certain she was proud of her work – she
had to have been – but she never showed off, never boasted, never even so much as cracked a smile. In fact, I never saw Rachael react to Ms. Gordon with any emotion at all, positive or negative. Ms. Gordon’s cruelest trick, though, did get a reaction from Rachael, though not for the reason or in the manner I would have expected. In first grade, we had a bathroom in our classroom, but we were only allowed to use it twice a day. We could line up to use it at 10:17, right before we left for “specials” (which is what we called the blissful time we spent in music, art, or gym) and we could use it at 1:42, during our afternoon break. We also were lined up outside of the hallway bathroom every day on the way back from lunch and were allowed to go quickly before we washed our hands as long as we didn’t keep Ms. Gordon waiting. At other times, we were forbidden from even asking. Ms. Gordon, in fact, had what she called a pee pee circle at the front of the room right next to the blackboard. It was nothing but a small, yellow circle of construction paper that was taped to the wall exactly 19 inches above the ground. We all feared it desperately, because we knew that if we asked to use the restroom, Ms. Gordon would make us bend down in front of the class with our nose on the pee pee circle “until going to the restroom was no longer an issue.” We all knew what that meant. Kids had wet their pants up there, in front of the entire class. None of us wanted that to happen. And so, we held it. No matter how badly we had to go, we held it. And somehow, for most of that year, there were no accidents. Sarah Browning missed the bus one day because she ran to the bathroom instead of the front of the school after class let out, and I once watched quietly as Jimmy Matthews slyly peed in his thermos behind the bookshelf during free time, but we somehow managed to avoid actually peeing in our pants. No one had an accident. Until one that one fateful day when I simply couldn’t make it home. For lunch that day, my mom packed me a soda, which I had kept hidden from Ms. Gordon, chugging it down quickly in the cafeteria while she was in the office running an errand. During free time, I didn’t get to use the bathroom because Ms. Gordon had pulled me aside to make me retake my spelling quiz. I had gotten a 90 on the quiz, but I had written the words “banquet” and “banana” incorrectly, committing the unforgivable sin of making my “b’s” backwards. I did, however, drink liberally from the water fountain during recess. By the time we were working on our math lesson towards the end of the day, I was squirming in my seat. By the time the bell rang, my bladder felt like an overfilled balloon. I walked to the bus holding both hands over my crotch, feeling like I was trying to use my hand to cap the flow of a fire hose. There was no way, however, that I was going to make the same mistake as Sarah. I was not going to miss my bus and have to wait for my parents in wet
pants with my nose in the pee pee circle in the company of an irritated Ms. Gordon. If my bladder did, in fact, explode, that would be a far more welcome fate. And so, I climbed on to the bus and took the seat next to Rachael, tucking my backpack between my feet and bending over with my arms across my midsection and my head almost resting on my knees. All around me were classmates and older students, all of whom would be thrilled to find a moment of superiority after yet another day of having their deficiencies and errors pointed out to them. If I wet my pants, I would never hear the end of it from them or from Ms. Gordon. I clenched my abdomen desperately and pinched the front of my jeans over my crotch as tightly as I could with my left hand. Twenty minutes. In twenty minutes I would be off the bus and I could run to the bushes beside Mrs. Johnson’s house and simply let go. Mrs. Johnson might yell if she saw me; she might even call my parents. I didn’t care. Not even a little. Peeing in Mrs. Johnson’s bushes would be an act of desperation, yes, but unlike peeing in my pants, that was a move that the kids on the bus would see as bold and defiant. It might not make me a hero, but it would get a much more positive response than wetting myself on the school bus. Twenty minutes, and I would be home. I kept thinking about those bushes. It became a desperate struggle, in fact, to stop thinking about those bushes. I could picture in my mind the image of that yellowish stream bouncing off of the leaves. I could imagine the blessed relief of feeling that raging flood flowing out of me. I imagined being there for hours, still letting the pee drain from me like water gushing trough a funnel. Tears filled my eyes as I clutched at myself desperately. I cupped my right hand over my left and began to squeeze even harder in my struggle to stem the flow. I began to wonder how I would even stand up to walk off the bus. I scooted over in my seat to ensure a quick exit, and resolved to leave my backpack behind. Hopefully someone would grab it, but if not it would still be there tomorrow. I looked up at the front of the bus, and saw through the windshield that we were nearly to my neighborhood. I clutched tighter, bent further over my knees. I could not get the picture of me standing in front of those bushes out of my head. The driver applied the brakes, preparing to turn into my neighborhood, and I groaned aloud and began to sob. I felt Rachael’s hand on my back, ever so lightly. “We’re almost there,” she said. Then we hit a bump, and everything let go. Suddenly, my pants felt hot and wet, then my hands, still clutching desperately to stanch the flow. Rachael’s hand left my back briefly, and then returned. I looked at her face, and she put one finger to her mouth. I realized, at that moment, that I was sitting next to exactly the right person. Even my best friend, in that moFLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
ment, would have turned on me. Bobby Fairington would have laughed and pointed and let everyone on the bus know what I had just done. He wouldn’t have done it to be mean, but he would have enjoyed giving everyone a good laugh at my expense. None of the other kids on that bus would have spared me. Even the bus driver, though not a cruel person, would have spoken in the tone of all adults and let everyone know that I had done something stupid. Hell, my own dad would have been cracking jokes, claiming he was trying to make me feel better. The bus stopped only seconds after the flow from my bladder. Rachael handed me my backpack, and I bolted for the door praying that no one would notice. Thank God for brand new unwashed jeans. I ran, crying and dripping, all the way home. I refused to go to school for the next two days, unaware of the lengths Rachael had gone to to protect my secret. It wasn’t until the following Monday that I once again set foot in Ms. Gordon’s classroom, and no one said a word about what had happened to me on the bus. I heard talk about how Rachael had spilled a drink from her thermos on the bus, and about how she had been required to stay on the bus until the last stop and then clean up before being driven home. One kid asked me if I was feeling better. “You ran off the bus so fast last week. Did you throw up? Rachael said you were car sick.” I went over to Rachael that day to thank her. She smiled at me and nodded her head, then went back to drawing in her sketch book. I went back to my desk. That day we had music class, and I will never forget it. Ms. Gordon, as always, left us with the music teacher and headed for the office where, we all assumed, she would berate the principal for giving her such a rotten group of kids. We sang “America, the Beautiful” and “Polly Wolly Doodle,” and then the music teacher handed out maracas and we all sang “La Cucaracha” while randomly shaking the maracas in rhythmless cacophony. The seat next to me, always, was Rachael’s seat, but for some reason she was not in it. After 27 minutes, Ms. Gordon retrieved us. “My word, that sounded awful,” she said. We marched back to the classroom silently, each of us with a hand on the shoulder of the student in front of us. “Your students are always so orderly,” the principal extolled as we passed the office. We took a left turn into the kindergarten hallway, and then a right turn into the classroom, and that was where we found Rachael. She was sitting at her desk, pencil in hand, drawing in her sketch book. Her face, as always, was impassive, and yet in that moment it seemed gentle and serene. Ms. Gordon gasped, and then turned a few shades whiter as she looked around the room. We all stood in the doorway and watched, not sure what to do. All of the pictures on the walls were 11 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
gone, everyone’s. They had all been replaced. Ms. Gordon slowly circled the room, looking at the pictures at first and then frantically trying to rip them down. We, too, began to look at what was there, and without even thinking about the consequences, we began to laugh. There, to my right, was a cartoonish image of Ms. Gordon, her block-like body contorted in a dancing posture, like a Leprechaun doing a jig, with her fists pressed beneath her glaring eyes, looming over a small crying child behind an even smaller desk. The scene was one we had witnessed a hundred times, except in this picture Ms. Gordon’s ugly flower-print dress had, apparently, gotten caught in the back of her pantyhose, and her bare, warty behind was exposed for all to see. To my left, another image caught my eye. In this one, Ms. Gordon was bent over with her nose on the pee pee spot. The class in the picture sat laughing behind her, and tears flowed from her puffy eyes and down her only slightly exaggerated fat pig-like cheeks. From the bottom of her dress, yellow droplets fell into a sea of yellow, ankle deep, which covered the entire classroom. The other pictures I didn’t get to see. Ms. Gordon looked at the images for only a moment before, in a flurry of flailing arms and gnashing teeth, she began ripping all of them down from the wall. In hindsight, I wish I had at least grabbed the one to my left, but a scared six-year-old doesn’t think of such things. Every single one of those pictures disappeared before my eyes, torn from the wall, ripped in half, and deposited in the trash can. Rachael sat calmly in the center of it all, and slowly set her sketch book down on the desk. I noticed, then, that it now contained only one page, a page splashed with color and dark lines. I craned my neck to see what the image contained, but I will never know. Ms. Gordon, done with her destructive frenzy, now turned her attention to Rachael, moving with the swiftness and grace of an angry rhino. She grabbed the sketchbook, looked aghast at whatever was on that page, and let out a scream of such fury that many of the kids covered their ears and a few bolted from the classroom. Ms. Gordon tore the sketchbook in half, and then into smaller and smaller pieces. Rachael crossed her arms across her chest, looked at Ms. Gordon, and smiled. “You…you…you…YOU!!” It was all Ms. Gordon could manage before she suddenly charged and I found myself standing alone in the center of class as she violently grabbed Rachael by the ponytail with her right hand and began shoving the pieces of the picture into the girl’s mouth with her left. A brief scream left Rachael’s mouth, and then was muted by the influx of paper. The other students had retreated to the doorway. All of them were crying. Rachael too, had tears running down the side of her face. I couldn’t fathom what she had expected, but I was sure she hadn’t expected this.
The image of Ms. Gordon, transformed into a soulless raging cartoon goblin, every bit as deformed and bloated as her likeness in any of Rachael’s drawings, remains trans--fixed and motionless in my brain, one hand violently pulling Rachael’s head back by the pony tail and the other buried up to the knuckles in her mouth, crumpled bits of reddened paper poking up between her fat fingers. It is, without a doubt, the most horrible thing I have ever seen, and I could not look away. I couldn’t move. And then it was over. I felt myself being shoved aside, though my eyes remained fixed on the horrible sight before me. I saw Ms. Chancler nearly tackle Ms. Gordon, pulling her away from Rachael, and I saw Rachael crumple to the floor. Within minutes, Mr. Barron and Ms. Mulligan were there as well, and Rachael was obscured completely as they frantically fussed over her. Other adults arrived, and kids gathered in the doorway, then Mr. Womack shooed us all into the hallway and then escorted us to his classroom, where he asked us to wait. I stood by his door, refusing his invitations to sit. That was the last I saw of Ms. Gordon. Rachael went back to being Rachael. For the remainder of the year, she sat quietly and did her work. She was direct, honest, and only participated in class when she was asked to. The new teacher, Miss Finnegan, was infinitely more kind and likeable than Ms. Gordon and didn’t press Rachael. She knew what had happened, and assumed the trauma was what made Rachael act the way she did. She encouraged Rachael’s artistic talents, though, and as an artist Rachael flourished and grew. Starting that year, she began winning contests and awards constantly, and her
reputation grew through the rest of elementary and middle school. Regarded as a prodigy, she slowly began to gain a reputation as a legitimate artist. She had her first local gallery showing at 14, and her first major showcase at the Spense Museum of Modern Art during our sophomore year. By the time she was a young adult, her drawings and paintings sold for thousands of dollars. And I am privileged to be the owner of one of her earliest works, not that I would ever consider selling it. The day after Ms. Gordon lost it completely, I noticed some papers in my desk, neatly laid out on the bottom surface beneath my notebooks and pencil box. The top paper was my drawing of the Turnbull painting, and on it was affixed a Post-it Note. “I like your picture. I hope it’s okay that I copied your idea.”
Beneath it was a page from Rachael’s sketch book.
The sketch showed an image of the painting very much like mine, except that the figures were much more realistic and recognizable. The giant man in the center of the painting was clearly me, towering menacingly over a hunched and terrified image of a distinctly troll-like and frightened looking Ms. Gordon. Behind me, smiling, with their hands gently resting on my shoulder, were Rachael and two other kids from my first grade class. Behind Ms. Gordon stood the faculty members who had come to Rachael’s rescue on that one fateful day, and the gallery was filled with the remaining kids from our class. In her other hand, instead of a flag, Rachael was clutching her sketch book.
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Ferris Wheel #2 Kenneth Lecky Photography
Weird Cat Fact: Oleic Acid
Tiffany Yates Water color and ink
HOW BRETT DIETZMAN COULD HAVE DIED
By Drew Gallagher
his is how Brett Dietzman could have died.
The baseball field where we spent our summer days was regulation and normally would have been too big for our small-sided games, but we had devised a game where we could play a full game with as few players as four, but it was always better to have more. On the day that Brett Dietzman could have died, there were only four of us. It might have been different if there had been more of us. The infield was all dirt with an elevated pitcher’s mound. No outfield fence but left field was bordered by a basketball court and tot lot, whereas right field ended in four fenced-in tennis courts. Center field gradually sloped down to distant Carsonia Lake. We often wondered if the Phillies’ Mike Schmidt could hit one into the water in center. We theorized that maybe not on the fly but he could definitely hit one that rolled in. Greg Luzinski, The Bull, definitely could hit the water on the fly. On the far side of the lake was the trailer park where Brett Dietzman lived. On the day that Brett Dietzman could have died, my younger brother, Tripper, and Caps were on one team. I was with Little Rob, the youngest, because Caps and I were both 12 so we had to play on separate teams, and since I was a little better than Caps I took Little Rob who was a year younger than my brother. The teams were fair. We used Frisbees for bases and the pitcher’s mound doubled as first base so if a throw to the pitcher beat the runner to first the runner was out. It was too hard to try to pitch and then cover the actual first base right after you threw the pitch. If you hit one in the air to the grass outfield, probably about 120 feet of carry, it was a home run. Hitting home runs was our favorite part of the
game and the defense could play in the grass and rob home runs. We had devised these ground rules and they made the game infinitely more fun because we could all hit the ball 120 feet if we hit it on the sweet spot and we could all equally catch a ball in the air that may have been hit into the grass. At the day’s end, our talks as we walked the few blocks home were punctuated by home runs and robbed home runs. Scores were kept and games were won and lost, but ultimately it was the lure of home runs that kept us at it for hours. On the day that Brett Dietzman could have died, he walked up to the field with Pat Paduano, both of them carrying pool towels. Brett Dietzman was a year older than Caps and me, but still in the same grade. There were rumors that Brett had been held back in kindergarten or had punched a teacher in fourth grade and had to be held back. Brett went to a different elementary school than we did so the rumors could not be verified but Brett Dietzman was known to us and showed up that day shrouded in myth. Pat Paduano did go to our school and he nodded in recognition at us as Brett walked to home plate and said: “I want to play.” He took the bat from Little Rob (we only had one bat and one ball) and got into the exaggerated stance of someone who had never hit a baseball before. He stood, waiting for Caps to pitch, but Caps putt his glove under his arm and rubbed the ball on the mound and looked at the dirt as if the most interesting thing in the world lay at his feet. “Come on fag, throw the ball.” Caps, the tallest and strongest of us, always wore the same Phillies’ hat pulled down tight over an abundance of blonde curls because he wanted to avoid the very taunts FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
that his hair would inspire in the Brett Dietzmans of the world. Little Rob had moved behind the backstop with me and we did not say a word, waiting to see what Caps might do. “Pitch you, pussy. Afraid I’m going to hit it into the lake?” I looked at Pat Paduano, lounging in the metal bleachers behind the dugout making his towel snap in the air. I was hoping maybe he and Brett had somewhere to be very soon. “Come on Brett, let’s go to the pool,” said Pat Paduano without much enthusiasm or hope. Brett continued to stand at home plate, banging on the plate with the bat Little Rob had gotten for Christmas. Brett continued to toss assorted barbs at Caps, but Caps did not flinch and would not pitch. In our worlds, you kept silent and hoped time would pass, trouble would get bored and walk away. “What are you waiting for, faggot? Pitch the fucking ball.” “Come on man, let us just finish the game,” said Caps. “Let me hit one ball and I’m going to the pool. Too fucking hot out here.” Caps looked at me as the next oldest, and he shrugged. He was going to pitch and I think we all hoped that Brett, dressed in jeans and a black Led Zeppelin t-shirt with long white sleeves, might somehow hit the ball and leave. His hair was longer than any baseball player’s I had ever seen and it alone did not encourage us that there was any chance of hitting success. Caps’ first pitch was down the middle and Brett swung and missed. He looked ridiculous and Caps grinned. “Come on, throw me a good pitch you dick. That was high.” “You’re high if you think that wasn’t a perfect pitch,” said Caps. Caps couldn’t help himself and we couldn’t blame him. Caps threw a second pitch and it too was perfect. Brett swung and missed. “Strike two,” said Caps. “Fuck you,” said Brett. Little Rob, looked at me and whispered, “Hey, that rhymes.” On the third pitch, Brett actually hit the ball. A bleeder of a groundball that trickled toward the first base dugout, not even close to being fair. But for some reason Brett ran to first base anyway. When he got to first base, he picked up the Frisbee and threw it into the empty gravel 17
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
parking lot. Then he ran to second and threw that Frisbee into the outfield. Third base he flung at the street before running home and jumping on the plate with both feet. “Home run, you pussies.” “It was foul,” said Caps. “Bullshit. You’re just pissed I hit a home run off you.” “Yeah, that’s it.” Tripper started to walk around the outfield and pick up the bases. “Come on, Brett, let’s go to the pool,” said Pat Paduano. “I’m hot.” “Not till dickhead here admits I hit a home run.” “You hit a foul ball that didn’t even make it past first base.” “What the fuck you say?” “I said the ball was foul.” Brett picked up the bat and hurled it hard off the backstop and started walking toward Caps in front of the mound. “Let’s go right now. Your pussy friends aren’t going to help you.” Caps put his glove down and looked at me and then back at the oncoming Brett. Little Rob went to pick up his bat to see if it was dented. I started to walk slowly to where Caps and Brett would meet, hating that Brett was about to beat up my friend, but hating more that he was going to probably beat me up too. Caps and I had both been in neighborhood fights, sometimes against each other, but Brett was from the trailer park and that was different. Brett pushed Caps and knocked his Phillies’ hat off his head. He smirked when he saw Caps’ curly hair, and then took a wide swing with his right fist and Caps ducked under and tackled him at my feet. Brett quickly flipped Caps and was straddling his chest getting ready to pummel his face. Caps was already covering up. And when Brett cocked his right arm, I kicked him in the armpit with the toe of my sneaker. It hurt my foot, but it also hurt Brett who rolled off Caps for a moment grabbing his side. Caps pushed himself up and both of us now looked down at Brett, waiting for him to get up. Caps’ lower lip was cracked and bleeding. “Oh, you fuckers are dead now.” He ran at Caps and hit him in the stomach, knocked him down, and then turned and hurled himself at me. Brett was lanky and quick and had me on the ground before I even knew he had hit me. I peered up at him under my left forearm and he smirked before pulling his fist back and hitting me repeatedly in the side of my head. “Kick a guy when he’s not looking…” I tried to grab his shirt as the metallic taste of blood
filled my mouth. And then there was a sound, muted and dull, and the punches stopped. I looked up and Brett was staring, glassy-eyed, at something distant, across the street maybe. A thin fountain of blood shot up from the back of his head before he collapsed onto my shoulder. Little Rob stood over us, his Christmas present clutched in his hands, and then he dropped the bat and walked away. His shoulders shook. Pat Paduano ran over as I lay under Brett, my side growing warm and sticky with his blood. “Oh, shit,” said Pat Paduano. “We gotta get outta here,” said Caps, as he brushed some infield dirt off his forehead and pulled his Phillies’ hat back on. Pat Paduano said, “Oh, shit.” I pushed Brett Dietzman off me and sat up, my white t-shirt now slick with blood. I ran to Little Rob, sitting on the bench kicking his shoes in the dirt like he was bored, simply waiting for his next turn at bat. “Come on, we’re going to the fort.” “Is he dead?” “I don’t know but we have to go.” Tripper had gathered up the Frisbees, the gloves, and the ball. For some reason that seemed important while Brett Dietzman lay in the dirt, motionless, with the puddle around his head turning a darker red as it got soaked up by the dirt. Pat Paduano sat with his friend, then got up and started to walk to the rec center. The nearest pay phone. He didn’t bother to run. There were sirens. We could hear them from the fort we had made in a long hedge row that ran along the creek, not far from the baseball field. We could see the street that ran next to the field but we could not see the body of Brett Dietzman. We knew that no one could see us in the bushes, but knew they would be looking for us soon. We sat
for a moment, winded and trying not to breathe too loudly for fear of someone hearing us. I took off my shirt which was starting to crust and crawled down to the creek’s edge and tried to clean it. The water did nothing to the red stain except make it glisten so I lifted a nearby rock and put my shirt underneath it. Minnows flitted away in the shadow of the rock. We laid beneath the hedgerow, listening to more sirens, adult voices fading in and out. There was talk of walking through the large sewer pipes that ran up the side of Mount Penn and finding a cousin in Lancaster who could take Little Rob away. We plucked honeysuckle buds from the hedgerow and sucked on the stems thoughtfully. The ground under the bushes was cool and the air fragrant with honeysuckle. None of us talked. There was an awareness and a dread, beneath those flowering bushes, that our childhoods were at an end.
n the day that Brett Dietzman could have died, he never ran the bases. After he hit the foul ball, he told Caps to fuck himself and that baseball was for pussies. He and Pat Paduano walked to the pool, but as they did he took third base and tried to throw it into the street but it hit a tree and fell to the sidewalk below. We stood, watching, and after Brett Dietzman faded on his walk to the pool Tripper jogged over and picked up third base and put it back. He returned to the outfield, crouched with hands on his knees, ready. Caps threw a pitch to Little Rob, it bounced before it reached the plate. The next pitch was right down the middle and Little Rob hit a ball as far as he had ever hit one in his young life. Well into the grass in left field and over Tripper’s head. Little Rob jogged around the bases and we all cheered and clapped. Our lives were restored. Reborn.
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Failure to Abort By A.E. Bayne
My grandmother, Treva Bayne, came up due south of Pittsburgh in the village of Taylorstown (population 217), just seven miles outside of "little" Washington, Pennsylvania. The town is palmed by untamed, rolling hills that are dotted with buckeyes and sugar maples, blackberry brambles, honeysuckle and poison oak. A lone American Legion building greets visitors from the side of a deep creek. Town is formed of Main Street running three blocks, crossing over two streets, and dead-ending as it approaches the crest of a steep hill. The cross streets form a perpendicular U-shape to slingshot travelers through town, with Buffalo Creek Road running in from the north, crossing Main to become 1st Street, hanging right at South Alley, and then hooking a right to become 2nd Street. 2nd Street crosses back over Main and becomes Taylorstown Ridge Road which winds west into the wild hills beyond and toward Claysville. A Presbyterian church faces off with a Christian Church over citizens’ immortal souls, while a volunteer fire department waits for the inevitable firestorms from each. Standing sentry over the "busy" corner of Main Street and Buffalo Creek Road is a small provisions shop called Taylorstown Country Store, where townies congregate over dusty pinewood floors to chew the chaw and, at one time, collected their mail from a bank of post office boxes in the back. The post office is now housed in a separate building across the street. As a child, I visited my grandmother at least twice each year, and the simplicity of Taylorstown was captivating. Many of my own interests were shaped during those visits. I would inevitably ask my grandmother to pull out a cavernous suitcase packed with the sepia toned photos that inspired stories about her people and this place, many of which included my grandfather, Leo. If I’d only had a tape recorder with me, for my memory is not nearly as sharp as hers. The stories that spanned the 98 1/2 years of her life were encyclopedic in volume, but this is one that stands out for obvious reasons and with a few narritive touches here: That morning, we woke to a closed road and a day off from school. We poured out of our houses, mothers calling after for us to tighten our hood straps, put on our mittens, and zip our coats before we caught our deaths. We flew like so many snowflakes toward the top of the town hill, striving to be the first to stake our territory and slice through the virgin snowfall. Hours later and only slightly marred, the hill loomed and blended into the winter white sky, marked only by a dark gray ridgeline over the old Bayne place. 19 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Ceaselessly, we tugged our toboggans and metal-bladed sleds behind us, puffing a rage as we tasted the next flight in our mouths. We could hear our mothers calling us to dinner, as the hopeless ghostly sun shone high, a small moon in the vast and dusty whiteness. Noon already! Leo pleaded for one more run, so I ignored my own mother’s increasingly aggravated pleas and trekked to the top of the hill once more. Leo insisted on driving the sled, placing his feet on either side of the steering bar and wrapping the ropes once around each mittened wrist. I was to ride directly behind him, holding his shoulders to keep him steady. We positioned the sled into a solid set of previously cut tracks, while one of the Mitchell boys readied himself to give us push. Leo counted to three and we lurched forward over the hill’s apex, the event horizon. For a moment we could see every rooftop in Taylorstown, a patchwork of clapboard hovels and grand Victorians, each exhaling long tendrils of smoke from its own chimney stack. Then we were rushing forward, a blur of bleach board porches interupting the dazzling whiteness. As we sped toward the bottom of the hill we slued left, and I heard Leo yell, “Watch out!” Joe Connelly straddled our path as a bull might before the charge. He saw that we could not leverage the sled away from him, and he mouthed a great O, his eyes bulging stiff in their sockets. Leo leaned into me and screamed, “Duck,” but there was no time. In his supine position, he and the front end of the sled glided toward the space made by Joe’s long legs. Joe vaulted upward as Leo and the sled slid over the spot; but I was not so lucky. With Joe suspended in mid-jump, my face collided solidly with his crotch and the blurry whiteness to which I had become accustomed that day washed to black. I awoke nearly four hours later with the doctor and my mother fretting over me. Leo was waiting out on the porch, and my mother said he had been pacing all afternoon. I could hear his shoes scraping the porch as he clambered toward the door and the doctor relayed the news that I was awake. Leo rushed in with gossip that Joe had been taken to the hospital in Washington, that he had broken something crucial, and that he might never have children. He was going to be in the hospital for a whole week, and wouldn’t he miss out on some keen sledding! My mother grabbed Leo by the shoulders and wheeled him toward the door, telling him to go home now. As she tucked blankets around me and the doctor wiped my forehead with a washcloth, all I could think about was how exquisite the day had been and how I wanted nothing more than to do it all again.
Brexit Down below the castle’s granite in the maze of brick A male voice rants and prophesies releasing cantos Long held back by unadmitted shame and pounded In trochees strong as piledrivers words unwinding Rusty chains suddenly articulate pulled taut held fast Punctuated at each quick breath by a Northumbrian fook you Vowels rounded deliberately for extra emphasis While she the other the woman simply screams single Syllables not even using words but harsh scaled notes Like a little girl whose lessons never bring success Swallowed fast by the charging epithets he scarcely means For her to understand but only to echo and submit To memory like the Bible or the Communist Manifesto And finally when the constables arrive and pinion him No face on the ground no tasers no pants pulled down It’s not America for it’s surprising what the orderly Blue-capped pair can do with training knowing just what to expect His words now fading some but still chanted unfaltering Until he gets into the wagon and sounds as if it came from the bottom Of a giant tin of baked beans while some already light the stove To roast tomatoes fry the mushrooms then the brawny bacon Save the runny eggs and carbonized toast for last of course The man dissolves into British breakfast odors as dawn peeks out Silvering the huge hussar in the Market Square peace turned to stone All clanking metal and impressive braid transfixed by time In this man’s England ~ Jim Gaines
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Tidal Basin #1 Kenneth Lecky Photography
Uncivil Tone Tiffany Yates Sculpture
Joelle Cathleen Acrylic on canvas
25 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Joelle Cathleen Acrylic on canvas
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
J o a n C r i t z L i m b r i c
JOIN THE DANCE I watch fish fly in liquid creation, changing form with whim of Tides' emotion. Aching, my heart longs to be joined with this Creation Dance. Why fly not my heart, free as you are, gifted to dream! What limit placed himself upon your form to shape your mind in stone! Pretend with me! Feel colors shape your breath and rhythm as feather light you twist and turn to inner drums of beating Love.
Oil on Canvas Abstracted fish based on my experiences snorkeling, the magic of fish and their movement in the shifting sands and light stays with me still, in a flash, in my memory, in my very soul. Ah, the color and the dance! I will never tire of painting the feeling. Collection of the Artist
“Art connects people. I’ve had instances when I’ve been facing someone who I know doesn’t agree with me on a subject, and if I can make a connection over some piece of art or an experience we share that is related to art, that’s my in.”
Striking and transcendent, Joan Critz Limbrick’s paintings are quintessentially ethereal, but grounded in the visual language of spirit guides, angels, and all life aquatic. Hers is a bold style with a light touch, and her paintings have a dreamy and lush opalescence. Limbrick works in most art mediums and is recognized for her large-scale paintings, such as those shown in this publication. Limbrick’s home and studio near Fredericksburg, Virginia, share a similar style to her paintings. The walls are brushed in soothing colors that are varied but complement one another from room to room. Her expert application of color has roots in her history as an interior designer. She was responsible for public projects during her career, such as the remodeling of the old Mary Washington Hospital on Fall Hill Avenue, wherein she styled the rooms with furniture and created 49 original pieces of art for the walls. As we tour the house, Limbrick discusses with depth and intricacy topics ranging from spirituality, to research on particle physics, to past life regression. Her curiosity about the world and things beyond it is boundless. She is a dedicated student of both the seen and unseen. Evident, also, on this tour is Limbrick’s pride and love for her husband, her family, and her two talented sons, Christopher and Cameron Limbrick. Her walls are a visual history of their individual artistic journeys and chronicle each son’s progress as creative artists. Art is a family affair. While Limbrick’s own work hangs interspersed throughout the remainder of the house, so does work from many local and regional artists whom Limbrick admires, artists like Nancy Brittle, who was a student of the colorist Julian Binford. She points to a piece by her mentor and friend, Jack Darling, an artist instrumental in helping Limbrick loosen and follow her
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imagination. Here is Darling’s niece, Sharon Ross, there Jerry Coulter, above is Anita Holle’s work and around the corner Bob Worthy. Everywhere you look - Johnny Johnson, Dee McClesky, Jane Woodworth, Paula Rose, Retta Robbins, Heidi Lewis, Cathy Herndon, David Lovegrove, Laura Ligon, really most of the North Windsor and Exposure Artists. In short, Limbrick’s walls are a virtual who’s who of Fredericksburg’s artists of note. The work that most inspires Limbrick is that which makes her stop, that tells her brain to look again. She especially enjoys art that might be considered slightly off, that draws you back to it again and again. Limbrick’s own work is rich with symbolism, but it’s not premeditated. It emerges as she works in what she describes as a heightened frequency of awareness. For her, the act of painting becomes a conduit to a higher energy pattern. Because she doesn’t use live models, she channels images from the æther. She laughs at the strangeness of her paintings, all long limbs and bending bodies. Fish, she says, might represent Jesus in her paintings, while birds on the head represent knowledge, a nod to the mythology of ancient cultures. Angels are spirit guides whom Limbrick believes are with us always. Embedded among these key elementals are more feathers, swirls, waves and light, always light. To achieve the layers of almost three-dimensional translucence in her work, Limbrick uses interference paints mixed with her traditional oils and watercolors. This technique creates the liquid quality of her figures, as if one is viewing them through a scrim of water. It softens their lines, drawing to mind to the interconnectedness of shapes and objects in the natural world. Limbrick doesn’t think her technical approach to painting is necessarily unique, though she does acknowledge that her style is all her own. She believes
Transparency of Freedom Oil on canvas
I like to paint on a canvas this size as it gives me the ability to use my body in motion for the first beginnings. I have painted many mermaids. I like to imagine myself as a mermaid, completely free to swim effortlessly and without thought. I had a dream once that I was me, walking from the shore into the ocean, wondering as I walked into deeper and deeper water how I could hold my breath long enough to get to the beautiful shining city below. When I got to the point that my head was going under, I was so surprised how easy it was to breath underwater. I never got to the city as I remember, but I will never forget the freedom of taking that breath. Collection of Dr. Eric Swisher
Ultimate Stillness Oil on canvas
One of a series of Muse Paintings, “Ultimate Stillness” is a meditation painting. I had been to Gaudi's Park Guell in Barcelona at the time we had a sniper in Fredericksburg who had not yet been caught. I sat next to a man from Jerusalem in the park and asked him how he could go to the market in his city without fear. “You must live your life”, he said in broken English. The benches were covered with mosaics Gaudi had let his workmen create from broken pottery. How often does a workman get to do anything creative on his own! I could imagine the joy they felt in the task. I painted this after the trip, of an angel meditating on peace and fearlessness for me/ you/all of us, sitting on a section of the serpetine bench, conquering the snake of fear, so to speak. Collection of the Artist
"There is a mysterious connection between the buyer and the artist...like why do you fall in love with someone you have just met? Why does someone fall in love with a painting and want to own it? There is some attraction there that is more than just color and composition, I think. You probably have a symbiotic frequency of some sort.” artists tap into a vein of knowing that often allows them to paint the future because they’re feeling it ahead of time. She wonders if artists might be like dolphins or whales, holding a space for humans to find relief from the ills of the world. There is always the sea, the waves and the immensity of time, in her language. Another practice that Limbrick has adopted in order to conserve materials is, when working on commissions wherein the details are dictated by the client, she keeps a second canvas nearby where she deposits excess paint and to allow herself a space for freedom of expression. Limbrick enjoys commission work, and she finds that doing this keeps a kind of restlessness at bay when she is working on pieces where the vision belongs to someone else. Limbrick likes to get to know her patrons and believes forging relationships with them is of benefit to both the client and the artist. People form an attachment to an artist and their style, and they might gain an added layer of insight in meeting and knowing the artist. The artist, in turn, is offered some reassurance that their work is going somewhere it will be appreciated. When considering lessons learned, Limbrick says she wishes she had taken more photos of her work over the years, especially her interior design installations. She advises her students to take photos of their artwork and catalogue everything that goes into shows. She has also learned that larger galleries want an artist to have 40 to 50 pieces on hand when they hang a show, but that they also want consistency of style among those pieces so that if an artist becomes “hot” they will have a large stock from which to offer pieces to buyers.
Limbrick envisions a museum space for Fredericksburg in the near future. She admires many artists in town and feels the time is coming for a performance and art space to more permanently showcase the city’s artists of note. With the surge in popularity of the region’s art galleries and restaurant showings, Limbrick feels the support is here for such a venue and just needs an organized effort.
To connect with Joan Critz Limbrick and follow events and her latest work, visit her online at:
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Delivery of the Seed Oil on canvas
Started with a swoosh of paint, I think I knew from the start that an angel would appear. I loved that she was bringing a seed, bright with glowing life, to earth/me/you. Not just one seed, but the evidence of more and from a plant frond. From where? Sacred writing and geometric shapes, the blue snake at her head, all have meaning...but what? Collection of DJ and Dancer
Oil on canvas She/they are a painting on top of another painting. The first, I didn't like... decided to paint over with white on a brush from another painting I was working on and when I began to cover the old, the shape of the Goose Girl's face began to appear. She is having that illuminated moment, Madonna-ish, as this goose looks to her with such love. I like to think the communication between the two is as strong as between two humans, better perhaps. I think animals know that humans have trials and high hurdles to jump, that they love and support us for our braveness to play this game. Collection of A.E. Bayne
The Alchemist Oil on board
Probably one of my favorite paintings, â€œThe Alchemistâ€? represents a human being, coming to earth. She comes asleep but with the secret tools of energy and light in her hands, of which she must learn to use by trial and error. She is overshadowed by her Higher Self/Angel/Guide who is wide awake and covers her with protective arms and wings. Waiting below is the fire by which she will be refined on Earth. Swimming in the fire and aware of her arrival are the whales and dolphins who are said to anchor the energy of Love on Earth from the planet Sirius, which may be where she travels from. Many of my figures are shades of blue or green-blue. Perhaps descendants of previous races of man on earth? Collection of the Artist
Kill Kil/ Verb 1. 2.
Cause the death of (a person, animal, or other living thing). Put an end to or cause the failure or defeat of (something).
1. They let us play With the camera equipment and in the sound room Camera One, you’re rolling. Camera Two, zoom into the talent. …And fade to Two. As long as we coiled up the snaky electrical cords just so, We were granted passes from lunch to the AV room in the library. Maybe someone noticed how much we played and gifted us an actual camera man, I’m a professional, mind you, To mentor us, This is expensive equipment not a toy room. You think you know it all? Try getting a real job. And then our library passes meant we got to help shelve books. 2. There she sat in her hired chair The rest of us encircled around the rectangular table Already failing. This is Poetry Writing. But none of you are poets. And never will be. Dreams crashed silly as spritzy foam cresting from a wave hurled over a breakwater. 3. Fade to black I am back in the AV room of the library, the smell of paste ground deep into carpet fiber, finally I see a scared and lonely man who just snagged a Hail Mary job in a middle school, for fuckssake And I tuck away this morsel of hope for later A hall pass for hunger.
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Two by Jenna Veazey
Big Wheel At last my turn on the Big Wheel Butt low to the sidewalk, legs extended like a racecar driver The pedals are hard to spin The boys give a push start between my bony angel wings I am off Feet and knees pumping I whoop, victorious Flying Until I hear our be-curlered neighbor shout from her bedroom window Jennifer, shut up! But I have this ride figured out now and it’s still my turn and I get settled on the down-low seat at the top of the hill coasting that monster All The Way Down Where I see my mother motion for me from behind our screen door You are too loud Shame pricks my hot and sticky face I want to tell that little girl—Don’t listen! It’ll take you 40 years to get that loud again The clausterphobic closeness of that suburban neighborhood is not your fault. What if you had the noisy calls of competing sapsuckers The busy noise of the stream The bossy rush of wind through leaves or meadow grass Instead. What if your mother had just said You Are!
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Loss You canâ€™t describe it, my brother said. I sat silently and listened. Anything I might try to say was wrong, as if a barrier had been built between us, a great wall stretched across the ages, and we on either side, whispering our thoughts to the wind. That was the last time we were brothers, the last time we spoke of things that mattered. He sat in his chair and withered, and I went walking along the shore, the icy wind scratching at my face, its long claws like a gaunt cat, feral and desperately hungry. ~ Angelo Giambra
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Turbine Pedestal I David Lovegrove Acrylic and Charcoal
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Two by ...................................................
The Name I almost Had I didn't end with the name I started with originally I was to be called Sasha (Sasha means defender of mankind) my Mother hoped that her daughter would be righteous and strong and be willing to stand up to the injustices of the world to make her mark Mother spoke of this decision to one of her close friends (also pregnant) that she had painstakingly researched (and a name found) that would bestow purpose to the new life in her belly Mother hoped and wanted to give this gift to her firstborn daughter but Sasha was stolen Mother's dream of a perfect name taken by a greedy shallow woman filled with no originality no understanding of the power this ill-omened female tried to steal my destiny before it was written but my Mother's love overshadowed the shrew's petty attempts to leave a stain -Mother defended my name by creating a new one: Sรกshily it means a beautiful innocent defending humanity and I reclaim who my Mother meant for me to be
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........................................ Sáshily Kling
Dancing Barefoot on Dirt Paths Sung : "Bamboleiro, bamboleira Porque mi vida yo la aprendido a vivir así Bamboleiro, bamboleira Porque mi vida yo la aprendido a vivir así" ~ Julio Iglesias There's a sound in my Puertorican-ese that has no lyrics a drumbeat so deep it shattered my tattered Taíno expectations tambores in hand never dropped the beat breaking the sixth string on my grandfather's cuatro scratching the güiro against mocha skins trying to find the tune that would not mark us as other my family history is littered with the broken necks of requintos y palitos the instruments of Taíno's lost culture Juan Ponce de Leon brought the church it's hierarchy and exclusion created discontent we bowed our heads to christian chants and ate our daily bread as priests tried to tame the wildness in our heritage our barilles and maracas the only rebellion we were allowed Our culture in shock of new waves as danzas gave way to jazz babies because Spain made a back alley deal with Uncle Sam and we were filled with disharmonic views as jibaro music invades American homes you see, my Latin roots come prepackaged for consumption this American bomba y plena is a hollowness that speaks of culture decapitated like the three legged chicken on my uncle's farm we never questioned the extra meat - it's sweet cloying taste still triggers nightmares playing against soundtracks of bombs and slurs a slow bolero biding it's time as we try to decipher what it means to be Taíno.
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Represesntations of Hidden Communication Joshua SariĂąana Photography
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Neuroscientists play an integral part in culture, but the public knows little about how science is done, who does it or why itâ€™s important. One consequence of opaque scientific work is the inability to see which individuals are conducting their research, their personal stories, and their motivations to help reveal the complexity of the nature by which we are imbued. These images were captured with a compact large format camera using experimental New55 PN instant film. The opaqueness of the positive (left) represents the raw data collected by scientists on their quest to understand nature. The inverted negative (right) represents how scientists reveal nature through filtering data, beautifying imagery, and at times removing unwanted, but captured information. All scientists and equipment are part of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The subject of the photo, Nancy Padilla, was born and raised in Puerto Rico and attended music school where she specialized in piano and cello. She became interested in how the brain allows one to experience music emotionally and in recalling memories. Ultimately, Padilla obtained her PhD from Columbia University and is now a postdoctoral associate studying the role of the hormone estrogen on the brain circuitry that underlies anxiety behaviors. Padilla is studying how innate behaviors are encoded in the brain. ~ Joshua SariĂąana
Watermelon Karen Clark
t was sometime in, oh, 1952. I can’t tell you whether it was summertime or wintertime..all months were hot in Israel. As I recall the incident, Mom, Dad and I were driving through no-man’s land in our official-looking black Ford sedan. On either side of the car, the vista was a grey-beige dusty color..even the scrubby plants, whether coated with road dust, or farther away in the distance blended together into one plane of color. Texture was provided by the unevenly maintained road, its potholes and irregular borders providing the excitement in the day. Our car black and shiny, intensified the heat of the day within itself, until we baked. I had the back seat all to myself, and I stretched from a sticky nap. Checking the back window shelf, I saw a dark spot along the joint of my cigar-box that held my crayons. I rose toward the back shelf, raising one leg to counterbalance myself, and stretched my arm to pull the box toward me. Black grains of dirt had gathered in the crease of my elbow. It was hot. I opened the top of the cigar box to find a muddy pool. The dark stain was the crayons melting and running together releasing the oily base of the individual sticks to escape through the side of the box. The beautiful colors now blended together to create a muddy mass. I remembered Dad telling me not to leave the crayons on the shelf in the sun, but hadn’t understood why. Well, he’d told me. I kept my loss to myself. I looked toward the front of the car. Mom’s neck was moist, a droplet moving down her cheek. Her hair, piled on the top of her head looked heavy, and wisps escaped the bobby pins to glue themselves to her skin. Occasionally she would turn in her seat to offer tea, water, or a sandwich, sometimes a piece of butterscotch but mostly she was silent, keeping her eyes on the road. We jerked and bumped along the deserted road. I’m not sure why, but I was frightening myself by looking on either side of the road, imagining breaking down, being stranded in this lonely stretch, parched with thirst, dust and boredom. How long would it take someone to come along to rescue us? Dad had explained that we were going to drive through the section of the journey between Israel and Palestine, called called the no-man’s land, which was created as a buffer zone between the two to prevent bloodshed. There were no gas stations, no rest stops, no place to get water or make a telephone call. Persons traveling between the two countries had better come prepared for the heat and the lack of aid. In fact, people who traveled that area were on alert for gangs of angry militia. I remembered a story about a bus of persons who had all been killed..among them a couple of friends. 45 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
And here we were..it certainly was desolate. Dad was driving, fighting the road by gripping the wheel and sitting forward to see the potholes and whatever else needed avoiding. His answers to Mom were curt and sharp..although his words were okay, his tone meant that Mom was offering at precisely the wrong time..and she should know better. The car bucked and heaved its way down the road. Every now and then would come a grinding noise as Dad rode over something that was too high to clear. Mom shrank back to her first position; he had hurt her feelings, but she wouldn’t say anything. I tensed in the back..couldn’t she see? Couldn’t she feel the tension? How could she not know that now was not the time? He was very busy, and doing something very important. It seemed that he was in a hurry and that we were behind schedule, and she wasn’t helping. As I looked forward through the windshield, I could see the mirages shimmering in the distance..then, I realized that the grey blob dancing in the distance was more than that. It was a solid mass and we were driving toward it. Slowly, gradually we approached, the image elusive in the distance..It was impossible to judge how far we still had to go; the heat turned the road into shimmering pools that disappeared as we approached, and gave nothing to measure to the destination. Dad stopped the car. “I need to check the radiator.” He said. “I think the engine’s too hot. Reik, you and Karen sit still, I’m going to get out.” With the car stopped, the heat was even more intense. I marveled how hot the wind was that managed to curl over the windowsill. It was a trade-off..less dust, more heat or moving heat and more dust. “Would you like some water?” I looked past her and a little to the right..through the windshield at Dad who was fiddling with the hood of the car. It swung up, and he was blocked out of sight for a minute, then came into view again, this time holding a rag in one hand, and making tentative passes at something under the hood. He fiddled, then jumped back. Mom turned her head toward the noise, then back to me. “Would you like some water?” she said again. I knew the water would taste hot, odd and yellow, so I said no. Dad danced into view, then out of view again. He swore. “The radiator’s overheated!!” I knew that wasn’t good. Something to do with cooling the engine, I knew. In this heat. In no-man’s land. Surrounded by bandits or worse. My mind went into overdrive..what did we have? Could we walk?
Dad said resignedly, “We’ll have to wait till nightfall. Maybe we can use our water to partially fill the radiator then, and try to make it to the border station.” “Would you like some water?” I flinched, hearing her cool voice in all that tension. It was sure to fan the flames of Dad’s impatience. She always did that..a crisis would loom, and instead of helping, she’d talk about something that had nothing to do with fixing the problem. We needed t think of something to help..even I could see that!. The heat was overwhelming..I could barely draw its thickness into my lungs. I didn’t dare get out of the car. Dad was standing, hands on hips, his eyes locked at the hood . Bandits could have crept up on us at any moment, and he wouldn’t have seen them. I couldn’t say anything so I looked out the rear window, past my puddled crayons. The mirages danced in the rear as well as in the front. And as I watched, one of the shimmering images changed. It looked like a vehicle way in the distance. I strained to make sure that it was indeed a corporeal object because I couldn’t blurt out something and then be wrong. I was torn. I couldn’t talk and I couldn’t not talk. At first, I thought it might be a bus, loaded with passengers; and I remembered the story of the executed tourists. I was almost fainting with anxiety. What if it were the executionsrs? So I decided on the safest route: “Mom?” My mother was looking to the right, out toward the landscape. Her profile was expressionless. My father was still stalking around outside. Our car doors were still closed, so he didn’t hear my dry croak. “Mom? What’s that?” Her hand extended back over the seat. “Nothing, Kenkie. Would you like some toffee?” “No, Mom, look out the back!” She refused to be rushed. Refused to be startled or to be frightened. Turning back to the door, she opened it partially. “Ed, Ed.!” “Yes, what is it.” Dad’s clipped tone said THIS had better be Important. “ED, look back there.” “Okay. Stay in the car.” My father opened the drivers’ side door, and pulled out a travel wallet filled with papers. He was shuffling them as the strange vehicle pulled alongside. Dust swirled around both vehicles; making me wish I had thought to roll up my window. The air turned grey, and a new smell filled the air. It was a dirty dusty pile of molten metal in front, a crate-like wooden truck bed in back, filled with watermelons. The driver’s door creaked open and the driver climbed out. As he walked toward us, his shorts crinkled up to form brown khaki bells; his legs were the clappers. His sandals were smudged, and the Arab headdress was underscored with a big grin. He spoke English. “CAR OVERHEAT?!” he bellowed. His voice echoed, somehow. Perhaps it was the heat. I craned forward and felt mom’s hand on the back of my neck. I hated that, and pulled away a little. She changed tactics and used her right hand to give a hearty wave out the window. I
cringed, and became enraged. How could she be so phoney! Meanwhile, Dad had pulled out his sheaf of papers, tendering them forward, being deferential. The newcomer was still hearty. I heard, “SURE, SURE. I CAN FIX IT!” as he ankled toward the engine. Dad tried to stop him, but it wasn’t possible. The newcomer disappeared behind the hood for a moment, then came out again. “SURE, SURE!!” He was smiling and waving his arms, gesturing as he walked toward his truck. Dad pattered after him as he strode toward the cargo in his truck. In a couple of seconds, he’d opened the tail of the truck, leapt up to the bed and pulled a whole melon out of the pile. The, he unfolded a huge jackknife, and sliced the melon in half. Dad began to back up a little, stuttering diplomatically. Mom had stopped waving. After all, he had a knife. I watched, sunken down in my dark bunker in the back seat. I was mesmerized by the rough masculine energy of the stranger. As he lifted up the melon and disappeared from my view under the hood again. KA-CHUNK! The car rocked a little. Dad stood aside, looking a little helpless and disbelieving. The stranger had just chunked a half a watermelon into the engine compartment..onto the overheated radiator! ‘THERE! IT IS DONE!” crowed the Samaritan. He gestured largely, his bushy brows working up and down to encourage our happiness. I think we were all stunned. Dad smiled and nodded a lot. Out new friend clapped Dad on the back, urged him to start the engine. By this time, I think Dad just wanted him to go away as he could pry the melon out of the engine and get back to waiting. But the stranger wasn’t going to leave ‘till Dad tried the engine, so Dad got into the driver’s seat and put the key in the ignition. Chug. Chug. Chug. Chug chug chug rrrroooooooom! It sounded like the Hallelujah Chorus. As the truck departed, we hooted and waved out thanks. Dad waited until the dust had settled, then pulled out gently to follow the trail toward the border. Dad explained as we drove, that the wait in the car had cooled the remaining water in the radiator , and the addition of the melon contributed just enough of a drop in temperature the keep the engine cool enough to get to the border. Mom and I nodded. Mom turned to me. “Would you like some water?”
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Troy Howell Acrylic and oil wash on rag board
Troy Howell remembers the art and writing he created during his youth in Long Beach, California.Â It was wild, and ornate, and imbibed with a youthful spirit of exploration.Â While he was able to parlay that youthful artistic vigor into a career as a working artist, illustrator and writer for the entirety of his adult life, he says things have changed over the years. In the early years, when he was doing a lot of book jackets and magazine illustration, there was a kind of freedom in the work that reminded him of his youth. With success came more lucrative illustrating opportunities, a better literary network, and more recognition, but Howell felt like he had lost the connection to that fearless youthful artist. He also discovered success had taken him from his first love: writing. Â
Words and Pictures
Even as he was working as a successful illustrator, Howell always thought of himself as a writer first. His illustrations gained the attention of editors early in his career. He says, “I started with writing, and I got derailed when I sent some poems that I just happened to illustrate to Cricket Magazine back in the late '70s. At the time, Trina Shart Hyman was the art director. She won the Caldecott for some of her picture books and was a really well-respected illustrator of children’s works. She saw something in my art and decided to mentor me. I left my writing behind at that point, but I wish I hadn’t. Over the years I’ve tampered with it. As I started to feel burnt out with the artwork and illustration that I’d been doing for so many years, I turned back to writing.” Howell is probably best known for his work on the covers for the Redwall series, by Brian Jacques. It was a career that was a large part of his success, but one that became creatively stifling at times. This fulltime commitment to illustration left Howell craving language, storytelling, and writing, so he turned his 49 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
career on its head. Howell’s writing is varied, from picture books for young children to poetry to longer works for middle grade readers. His debut novel, The Dragon of Cripple Creek, was published by Amulet Books in 2011. Howell says, “The inspiration for The Dragon of Cripple Creek began with an idea of putting a dragon into 21st century America. As far as I knew, dragons were not part of American lore. They were all in Europe or Asia, or some make believe place like Middle Earth. I thought, this will take place in the 21st century in a real gold mine, the Mollie Kathleen, in the Gold Rush town of Cripple Creek, Colorado. From there I let the characters tell the story.” The book has been well received by children and grown ups alike. Howell has a picture book coming out next year from Schwartz and Wade called Whale in a Fishbowl. He is the writer of the book and has collaborated with Richard Jones, an illustrator from the UK, to do the artwork. The next middle grade novel Howell is writing
has a working title of Andersen’s Ghost. He describes the tale: “It takes place in Copenhagen and involves a twelve-year old boy living there during the Nazi occupation of Denmark. The boy discovers Hans Christian Andersen’s ghost in a graveyard. When he puts on Andersen’s great top hat, which is so big it covers his head, he is transported into Andersen’s make believe world. It also revolves around a connection with world. He realizes that it’s almost as terrifying as the the boy’s father, a resistance fighter who has gone missing. I’m up to 90,000 words and I need to cut, cut, cut. It’s pretty complex.” Howell says that many artists and authors influence his work, including collage artist Fred Otnes, Nabokov, Shakespeare, American painter Mark English, Natalie Babbitt, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Yeats, and Cy Twombly. He is most inspired by music when illustrating and writing. He says, “I love music. Early on as a kid I was influenced by the Beatles. I grew up in that time period and was inspired by the way they reached into other areas and were so creative
with their sound. When I was working on The Dragon of Cripple Creek, it was more or less western, American stuff - Bob Dylan, Neil Young, just to set the tone. When I completed a recent triptych for the local library’s Gates Lab, I listened to Radiohead’s OK Computer and Kid A. I really see the layers of creativity in the exploration of those musicians. That’s where I get most inspiration. It energizes me.” Both written language and visual arts remain integral parts of Howell’s creative life. He sees his artwork for children’s books taking a different turn, saying, “With my children’s books, I’m also working with collage. It’s something I enjoy but have never really pursued with my illustration work. I anticipate that it will go in a new direction that I haven’t gone before. Ultimately, I try to think in terms of creating something that could be timeless. I don’t always reach that goal, but that’s what I endeavor to do.” Visit Troy Howell online at troyhowelletc.com FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT: Enjoy this mid-point chapter from Howell’s newly completed children’s novel (title withheld for now), featuring the main character Sparks, a fairy misfit, who finds herself in a near-death experience as she looks for one of three cures to restore her ruined reflection pool, which is also her home. All dead sailors go to one of two places: Davy Jones’ Locker, where the poor lost souls are eternally picked over by creatures of the deep, or Fiddler’s Green, where the faithful seamen smile away their forevers. Sparks sat up, blinking. Her pool was gone, and so was the world as she knew it. She was peering through a thin wall of mist. On the other side of the mist, as in a scene in a play, lay a lazy, sunlit place. Sailors were everywhere — lounging, laughing, singing, rollicking — on a broad expanse of grass. Sailors from all periods of time, all bodies of water, all manner of ships. Sailors outfitted in royal blue uniforms, in chitons, in rags. This was Fiddler’s Green. Some of the sailors were near enough that Sparks could hear their conversation (between their slurps), as they cracked open oysters to eat. “Billy’s got a handful (slurp), though he were the youngest at sea.” “He knows the very amount, too (slurp). He’s always clever that way.” “Naw, it ain’t cleverness (slurp) — he’s just got a whale’s appetite. The more oysters you et, the more pearls you get.” At the word pearls, Sparks perked up. “Here come pretty Billy now.” A youthful, handsome man appeared, his smile as lopsided as his hat. “The oyster is my world!” he said. He produced a small knife, wrapped one hand in the sash around his waist, and asked for a “sea-soaked morsel.” “How many pearls you got, Bill, all in all?” Billy split open an oyster, slurped the moist meat, worked his jaw around, and tapped a leather pouch. “Last count, seventy-two whites, fourteen black, gray, green, or blue, a dozen baroques, three burgundies —” Here he paused thoughtfully, extracted a pearl from his tongue, beamed at it, plopped it into his pouch, and said, “seventy-three whites —” Sparks was amazed there was such variety. “— and one gold —” Gold! “— my very first find, which I kept for good luck.” Unable to stop her excitement, Sparks squeaked, “Sir? A gold pearl? Gold?” With a side-glance the sailor acknowledged her presence, but spoke directly to the men. “Aye, from the South Sea.”
“Really?” said Sparks. “Pure gold?”The sailor coughed behind the back of his hand, and said to them all, “Gold color, lads. There’s no such thing as a pure gold pearl.” An ancient sailor wearing nothing but a belted cloth and sandals, with scars like constellations on his knees, came forward. He kept one of his hands in a fist, as if it were impaired. He said in a dusty, quiet voice, “Oh, but there is.” The sailors murmured among themselves, and Sparks believed him instantly. “The only one of its kind in the history of the world,” said the old sailor. “Once you know, you’ll say, Of course.” “So, tell us,” said the sailor named Billy, grinning good-naturedly. He put away his knife. The old sailor unfurled his tale slowly, and Sparks could hardly keep still. He explained that he had been a galley-mate for thirty years before being employed in the palace of Midas, the legendary Grecian king. When he said that, a few nodded, comprehending. For King Midas (as everyone knows), was granted his foolish wish: to turn to gold all that he touched. “The king soon learned there is that which is greater than gold.” The old sailor’s voice began to wheeze from overuse, or perhaps from pity. “I was there when his daughter Zoe ran into his arms. I was there when her single pearl necklace snapped. The pearl and Zoe, both turning to solid gold, dropped to the ground.” He smacked his frozen fist into his open hand, and Sparks jumped. “Vanity of vanities,” quoted one of the men. “The king grieved unconsolably. I kept the gold pearl as a remembrance of Zoe —” the old sailor opened his hand; it wasn’t impaired at all “— and of greed’s fatal end.” The sailors massed around him, so that Sparks could scarcely see, but through their collected bodies she got a look at his palm, which was as worn as a piece of driftwood. And there between the line of fate and the line of life, lay the gold pearl. Sparks heard her voice echoing, “That’s just what I need ... just what I need ... just what I want ...” The old sailor turned to her and walked into the wall of mist. But no longer was he a sailor, but a skeleton, with a huge shark’s tooth embedded in his skull. Sparks could not move. The skeleton smiled at her and snapped his teeth. Snap! Snap! He snapped his finger bones. Snap-snap-snap! He came closer, his teeth like pale pebbles, and opened his jaws and reached in. He pulled out a pitch-black pearl. Holding it between his finger and thumb bones, he offered it to her. “It’s not what I need,” she said, backing away. “Not what I want!” He shoved it toward her face, and it wasn’t a pearl at all, but a tooth — a rotten, blackened tooth. Suddenly she felt he had pulled it from her mouth, not his. Horrified, she pushed him hard, right into his rib cage; the ground shook, the mist vanished, and a dark figure hunched above her.
Visit troyhowelletc.com for the latest updates on all his work.
Troy Howell Acrylic on rag board
TROY HOWELL POETRY
snowballs for spring The form of these poems is called a snowball, where poetry and math come together. Each line has a single word, the first being a single letter, and each following word has an added letter. “M” is also a concrete poem, where the shape illustrates the subject. “Transformation” circles back to its title, which has one letter more than the last line, and is turned sideways to convey a growth chart. “A+ to Z” gives Z, at last, its due, and I’ve played with the lines while remaining true to the sequential count.
( ) m
to the last place letter,
patient (snoozing), easygoing, underrated participant, sophisticate nonconformist.
The Nine Worlds
Troy Howell from Mary Pope Osborneâ€™s Favorite Norse Myths Acrylic and oil wash
FAQ: Antietam Living History Question No.1 How Do You Know When to Die? I don’t know when to die. Before the battle, I put on my belts and cartridge box, my haversack and canteen, and tote my rifle to where we are to form a battle line. I guess some people may flip coins or draw straws, conspire with friends to create the effect of a canister shot. All I’ve ever done is march around with everyone else. When we get to a ridgeline or when we halt just behind a tree line, I will think about all the work I put in that day. If my legs are tired, I will die. If the battlefield is long and we have to march up and down hill, I will die. I’ve died in camp before, when a bacterium settled onto my dried beef. One of the things you do in camp is drink heavily and pretend to be a wobbling cartoon soldier. Everyone walking the company streets will stop and laugh until the other soldiers tie you to a tree and fire into you. When the people in camp leave for another camp, maybe I get up and carry on to stack firewood, to see if my tack is stored and dry, or fold patchwork quilts. When the drummer rolls assembly, I’ll dress out and march. If my rifle misfires then I will die. I forgot to mention that. I will die on a patch of cool grass, or soft damp soil. I will die and look up to a black cloud over the battlefield. Nobody sees me or knows me, but I look up and wonder about God, or lightning, or absence, or moving on, all at once, and forgetting everything else before the light goes out.
~ Worthy Evans
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The Journey of a Lover Jennifer Davis
“Going to the woods is going home.” ~John Muir
The first step on a new path can be filled with mixed emotions. The adventuress in you is excited to be striking out into fresh territory. You take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Heft your bag more snugly onto your shoulders and begin. Even the crunch of the ground under your worn boots is buzzing with anticipation. The trees are whispering in excitement to have your presence. The rustle of small animals stirring amongst dried leaves makes you ponder the idea if the universe is watching. You have done your research. You know what the catalogs of previous travelers say about this path. But nothing can replicate what your own experience will be. The trepidation of the unknown raps out the “what if’s” to the beat of your heart. You are spending an incredible amount of energy massaging the worry out of your head. You are having a heart to head conversation with yourself validating your preparation for what lies ahead. Reviewing your checklist of supplies seems to quiet the space between your ears. Sometimes when you are at a high point of the path, you can look back and see the evidence of how far you have come. You feel a melancholic wave to look back to where you were, taking inventory of your progress. The evidence of someone’s presence is slightly more comfortable than being in solitude. As you trudge on, you find a thin line of reality has been crossed to complete isolation as the cars and buildings become nothing more than a thumbtack on your horizon. But then, you find your rhythm. There is a point in the solitude when your body, soul, and mind become in sync with your surroundings. If you pay attention, you can feel the slight curl of a smile on the edges of your lips. Confirmation settles into your heart that this is exactly why you came out here to begin with: to experience the deafening quiet of absolute peace. Gone are the nagging feelings of deadlines and the whirl of society rushing past you as if you will be swallowed up into its busyness. You close your eyes to heighten your sense of sound to the world grinding on its axis. You remove your jacket and have the chilled air prickle your skin into goose bumps that seem to be drinking the icy refreshment into your bones. Then you open your eyes to slowly caress the landscape into your memory like a lover’s reunion long overdue. Finally, the shadows longingly touch my sunny patch of dirt as if they are ready to devour me into darkness; and I know it is time to pack my bag and navigate to where I came from. But not without a fond adieu to my happy place that will be awaiting my return.
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Beck Lane Esther 1927
Beck Lane Oil and oil crayon on aerosol
I met Beck Lane last September at Art Attack. We set up next to each other, and I watched as visitors touring the event stopped and talked to her about her work. As the day progressed, I too stepped away from my work to take a peek at hers. The painting she was working on that day was bold and dramatic, a statement piece, I thought. What I was seeing was only the underpainting though, what would eventually become a piece filled with dimension and detail. It may have been kismet that Beck and I were set up next to each other; some might say coincidence. It was her first day in town, and after the event I immediately searched for Beck’s website to check out her work. What I found was brilliant. Beck was only in Fredericksburg for four months, but her talent is immense and her work so prolific that her visit should be shared as a note in our local arts scene.
Meet Beck Lane.
So, you've moved and I've been following your adventures online. It looks like you're getting a plan in place for the direction you want to go in Florida. I have. I’ve connected with my friend Jay Luiz in Miami. I’ve known him for fifteen or sixteen years and was a customer of his when he had a shop in Provincetown. He had a mixture of arts and collectibles oddities. When I needed a break from everyday life, when I needed to lift myself, I would go in and pick up something small. But what's unique about Jay is that every time I walked in the door, he may not remember my name, but he would remember my face - he remembers everyone. He would always have a warm welcome, and he would always remember something from our last conversation. He was so kind and patient. I could hardly spend any money, but he made me feel like the most important customer he had. And here we are, fifteen years later, and a mutual friend called me, an artist named Carl Dimitri, and said, "Beck I have a friend who moved to Miami a couple of years ago, and he's opening his own gallery. I want to show him your work. Would you send me a link?" Of course, I did. Jay had no idea I was an artist; to him, I was just a customer. He said he fell in love with my work immediately, and then he saw my face and he went, "Oh my God, it’s her!” Jay wanted my work in the gallery even before he saw my face, but once he saw it he said he though, “I like her.” I think that I had the same reaction to your work that Jay
did. Even if I hadn’t met you first, I would have wanted to meet you after seeing it. It’s dynamic and there’s so much going on that it feels alive. How long have you been painting? Well, I remember sitting on my parent's kitchen floor at four years old drawing a seagull, and I remember looking up at my mother and saying I want to do this the rest of my life. I wanted to be an artist. I drifted in and out of it as I was growing up. I worked at it, but then I reached a point of burn out after a year and a half of college. Then it was hard for me to do anything for a long time. What you're seeing now just happened in the last seven years or so. So this has been a new phase for you. Yes, I left Cape Cod and I moved to Bedford (Massachusetts) around 2009. The first thing I did, in my first apartment there, was buy a roll of canvas, laid it out on the floor of my apartment and started painting. Since then, I’ve been doing big work and weirder stuff that is based in emotion. I don’t exactly know how to put it, but what I’ve been doing, since that day, just seems to connect with people on a visceral level. It does, and many of the pieces feel political or they shine a light on inequality and justice. Over the past year and a half they’ve become more overtly political, because over the past 18 months since the presidential
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run, we've watched so many groups of people become further marginalized and minimized by Trump’s administration. There's so much fury out there, people saying I am here and I have rights. I don't have television, and I could feel it, the anger. I am angry and disgusted by it all. How can you not care about the people around you, your fellow countrymen? How can you hate them so much? Politically, your painting of Ruby Bridges comes to mind when I think of you as an artist. You were showing her when you were here, right? You took her to Richmond?
No, she never made it.
Which pieces did you have down in Richmond? One of them I called “Mabel(ine).” It’s an African American woman who's standing in a park and she's just happy and holding up a beer. “Matriarch,” which shows a grandmother and daughter. We also have “Son of Newport,” a young boy sitting on a tree stump and it was from reference material of an African American family from Newport. When you think of Newport, you don't think of African American families, but they originated there as slaves. It was a slave port where people were brought in and sold. It evolved as slavery ended, and people were able to carve out opportunities and find ways of making money and thriving, not as millionaires, but as (essentially) free people. That's what I'm interested in, people who not only thrive, but exceed expectations out of really desperate situations. I grew up on Cape Cod, which is excessively white. These photographs of African Americans from the history of Cape Cod are hard to get a hold of. As an artist, I recognize that it’s important to normalize underrepresented groups in works depicting everyday living so that people see them in galleries and accept that they are a huge, living part of our collective picture. I agree. That’s a thread of discourse now among artists. What is the best way to balance the playing field? It’s not an exceptional thing to be a person of color or gay or a woman, though art and culture sometimes tend to represent underrepresented groups like that, setting them up to be tokens rather than part of the fabric of society. With your work, too, you are sort of placing people in a frame of normalcy. You don’t seem to be painting them for any motive; rather, you're just attempting to bring them to life. That's what I meant when I said your work is alive. People don’t seem misplaced; they’re shown in their natural daily routines. One of the most recognizable images I have painted is Yayoi Kusama. I did a private show in Orange County. We had paintings as well as prints on show. I was in a place and with people I’d never met before, when someone said, “I know that painting! I’ve seen it a million times on the web.” I painted Kusama in 2013 after I had had a horrifically bad experience with four different galleries, and one of them was in New York. I thought I had finally made it and I could just focus on doing artwork, but it turned out being just really bad. It almost completely broke me, so I just wanted to do something that would make me happy. I don’t know how she popped up or where I got her face from, somewhere on the web. I just fell in love with her face. It’s a four foot by five foot painting of a woman I didn’t know. My friend Heather Adeles, an artist who recently passed away unexpectedly, came to my studio and she said, “Do you know who that is?” I said no, and she told me Yayoi Kusama was her favorite artist. Heather told me about Kusama, and I started reading about her. She’s the most highly collected artist alive
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today. Her infinity room is traveling the country and was recently in Washington DC. She's famous for developing “happenings”. She held many happenings throughout the late ‘60s. She's just done some magnificent work and she strived her entire life to be successful. Kusama is very proud of outlasting Andy Warhol and now outselling him. She has schizophrenia and she lives in a hospital in Japan, but she goes to work every day highly respected. Kusama gives me hope, because she's 87 now, I think, and is still working every day and selling all around the world. She gives me something to strive for. Another favorite painting from that time period is “Dada's Boy.” Yeah, it's supposed to be a joke about Dadaism, but apparently I'm the only one getting it. I love the Dada movement, how they transformed these ideas as a small group and turned them into big ideas. They changed the art world, turned it on its head with simplicity and sarcasm and humor. And you've got your Frida. Yeah, Frida Kahlo, what can you say? Sometimes I’ll see reference material and it'll punch me in the chest, something will spark in my head, and I can't stop thinking about painting it. That's what happened with Frida. Frida lives in a private collection in Pittsburgh now, so I'm really proud of that one. Tell me about “Four Queens, a King and Kusama.” That photo was taken in Pawtucket, RI in Sept. 2015, started in 2016 and finally finished just after the election. Trump’s disgusting behavior and eventual appointment had me seething, so in the painting everybody's got their middle finger out. There's subtle ways I convey feelings and energy, and then there's some not so subtle ways. I wasn’t subtle in “Four Queens, a King and Kusma.” The image, taken by my friend, professional photographer Brett Henrickson, is of four drag queens from Providence, Rhode Island. From left to right you have Ari Ola, then Lily Whiteass, then me, the kid in the big green wig is Yolandi Fizzure, and then Twiggy Fizzure. Ari Ola has unfortunately taken a break from doing drag. He used to go down to Newport dressed as Taylor Swift and people would ask him for his autograph; they thought it was Taylor Swift. Ari Ola showed up for the photo shoot at the request of Yolandi who I’ve painted repeatedly and I will continue to paint. Yolandi is not only a talented drag artist but also an incredible social activist in Providence, Rhode Island. After the Orlando shooting, he helped to pull together people for a vigil, and he pulls people together for gay rights marches and the gay pride parade. He’s a force in the PVD (drag) community. Lily Whiteass, the tall blonde, has performed all over the country. She’s performed on Broadway, LA, she’s up in Boston, NH, all over. Lily, who’s boy name is Todd, is actually building a live/work space for me in Providence. Todd and his husband Brian just bought a building that they’re renovating and turning into an interior design and gallery shop called Found. Found is currently located on Broadway near the Federal Hill section of the city and I get to be a part of it when I go back up north. And this was Twiggy Fizzure’s first time in drag, but I wouldn’t have known! John completely fooled me; he did such a phenomenal job. The photo was originally going to be used for promotional materials, but Brett Henrickson’s photo and everyone’s involvement was so perfect I had to use it as reference for a painting, and I’m really proud of the way it turned out. Now, that it’s done, I plan to have each portrait panel professionally photographed and each queen will be given images
Yayoi Kusama Beck Lane Oil and oil crayon on aerosol
Four Queens, 1 King and Kusama Beck Lane Oil and oil crayon on aerosol
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Beck Lane Oil on aerosol
from their panel. They’ll be able to take those images and use them any way they want - as promotional material, to print them up and sell them, I don't care. It’s my way of saying thank you. And then if we sell the piece, each model will get a portion of the sale. I love that! I wonder if you would talk about little bit about your experience here in Fredericksburg. And what about Richmond? I know you weren't here too long, but what were some of your positive experiences here with the art community? Do you have any advice or critique of the community? Richmond so interesting, and there's a great mix of people. There's a mix of cultures and ideas that I haven't found in a lot of places. New York and and Providence sure, and Miami is a little bit like a New York, a very warm New York. I had a few pieces on display at the Unitarian fellowship in Richmond, and I think the city itself must be an inspiration for all types of creativity. I just love Richmond. My most positive experience in Fredericksburg, in the short time I was there, was going to Art Attack. I had so many people coming up to me and asking me questions that showed they were deeply interested in the work. I had people actually travel to Art Attack just to meet me because they knew me from online. That’s fantastic! It happens, but I didn’t expect it to happen there because I’d only been in town a few days. People were telling me they’d driven three hours to meet me. Others would say they couldn’t believe I was in Fredericksburg. I love the energy in Fredericksburg and the hope that the artists have. They have continued strength and continued hope. Another positive experience was meeting Nina (Angline Arismendi). She and Justin (Young) are running AM - Art Mart under difficult circumstances but they are hanging in there and sticking to it. They are just plain determined, and I respect them so much. The artists they are showing, the ones they are working with, Nina is just beyond driven. I lived in New Bedford Mass. for a while and that is a city that has been the richest city in the country twice in the past and it’s struggling. Artists go there to rent space because it’s cheap, but most of the professional artists ship their art out of town. I felt like Fredericksburg had a similar “we are facing a challenge” vibe, but the ability FXBG artists have to pull the city up and make it an impactful creative force is something I haven’t felt very often. The collective drive is pretty powerful. I’ve been here nearly twenty years now, and I feel like that energy has been resurrected as recently as twelve years ago. It’s been building, and people have really pushed forward with it. FCCA has been fantastic, and when Dan Finnegan started LibertyTown it was a huge boon for the arts community. It really encouraged artists to break out and start their own galleries. We have so many galleries here now, and a lot of businesses support the arts by allowing people to show their work in public spaces. You’ve had experience reaching out to galleries outside of the cities you’ve lived in. What advice would you give to artists looking to make connections outside of Fredericksburg? When I left Cape Cod, I was working toward certain goals. One of them was to get into a gallery in New York. So, I moved to New Bedford, started painting, developed a full portfolio, had it photographed, and had a brochure made. With all that in place, I went to New York and started doing research on the different neighborhoods and the different galleries within the neighborhoods. I did a lot of research, started a list of people and galleries I wanted who to talk to, got my work together and went back to
every gallery on my list that I thought was a good match. Pretty much everyone said “no,” until someone said “yes.” I ended up with two solo shows and, from that, had work in an international gallery . Unfortunately, that gallery experience didn’t end well, but I’m proud because I set my goals and accomplished what I set out to do. Now I’m not afraid to talk to galleries at all, because I've had the best stuff happen to me and the worst stuff … and the absolute worst. I'm not afraid to go to the openings and talk to the gallery owners and say, “Hi, my name is Beck Lane. I'm a painter. May I send you my painting brochure for review for consideration as an artist in your gallery?” So, reach outside your comfort zone. Get out and pursue your goal, because people aren’t going to come to you. Is that it? Right. You have to go out and pursue, and you have to use the web as much as possible. We have access to international advertising and it's all free. Post your work. Link and interlink to people you admire. Some people are intimidated by it and make all the excuses, and then they whine when they aren't getting anywhere. You have to be willing to learn something new, go to new places, meet new people. You have to extend beyond your comfort zone. Unless you just want to show to your friends, which is fine, but most artists want and expect more. Make it happen. That’s probably the goal for some artists, and sometimes they'll do it because they get good feedback from those people, positive praise because it's their family or friends. I wonder sometimes if people are afraid reach beyond their comfort zone because they're afraid someone is going to look at their work with a truly critical eye. That’s not to say that an artist shouldn’t have faith in their work beyond the criticism, but it’s very difficult to get to a place where criticism doesn’t feel personal. Right. For whatever reason, people want to be great but they don't want to hear about it. You have to be willing to hear the bad stuff as well as the good stuff and not take either one particularly seriously. That's the one thing I think I've learned over the years as I have gained experience and age: I will respect your advice and I will listen to it, but if I really want to do this I'm going to continue doing it and I'm going to keep working on it and developing. And maybe your advice is good, but if it’s critical I’m not going to let it discourage me from pursuing my goals. Yeah, and if/when someone does say something inherently nasty or negative or overtly positive, I don’t listen. I used to tell teenagers (that I volunteered with), “Ninety-nine percent of the time what comes out of people’s mouths has nothing to do with you. They’re talking to themselves. They’re telling you that you suck, but what they're trying to say is, ‘I'm not as good as I want to be.’” They're just using you as a mirror. So, you glean stuff out of the conversation, but you don't take it to heart. You learn to sift out what actually pertains to you. A friend told me something important in the middle of a diatribe about my work, that a person could take any a photo of any square inch of any of my paintings, blow it up, and there would be an entire balanced painting within the painting. It’s been in the forefront of my mind ever since, I'm still holding that to be true. I would have missed that one concept if I were focused on her criticism alone and chose to take it all to heart. We would love you back in Fredericksburg, and if you ever get to Richmond I'm sure you'll love it there. I would love to be able to go from Providence to Fredericksburg to Richmond and down to Miami. That would be awesome. And New York, let's fit New York in there as well.
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Beck Lane Oil and oil crayon on aerosol
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I Am (red)
Beck Lane Oil and oil crayon
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Disappearing Murals: Artists on the Wall Commissioned by Dan Finnegan Painted by Bill Harris Photographed by Saeed Ordoubadi
1 Shop n’ Save, a chilly desert of yellow tiles, their chipped corners revealing tight ziz-zags of black glue beneath. A cactus of lemon crèmes, a coupon for dill pickles and denim lemonade far away from the olive aisle, bags of bouncy balls hung next to asparagus, hating each other, or Jolly Green Giant’s canned crops. I gawked at the 25 cent plastic bubble machines— my first seedlings of greed, a miniature ninja figurine, a sticky blue tattoo that never adhered properly. Mom and me were like businessmen off to lunch.
1996 Soda Shopping By Henry Goldkamp
2 I wandered tipsy with a half-munched sugar cookie down floury lanes, smelling fresh dust. She would tell me "take one"—she must’ve had a tab, because she never paid. She would even hold up the plastic lid as I scrunched thin wax paper over the grainiest. Almost got caught. An angelic robot made announcements over a PA: Little Debbie’s chocolate cake donuts, Yoplait Delights, and GoodValu pretzel sticks, and Trident—all half off. Like my buddy, God—he was invisible too. I wondered what they looked like, if they knew one another, if God was telling my secrets. 3 After lady-handling cold inch-thick steaks like a credit card, testing the airy weight of chip bags, wrapping manicured nails around a salsa jar, tapping the lid to see if it was popped and poisoned, Mom would take me to the soda aisle. Like licorice I would snap my face from my Sega Gamegear and pump my fist, or jump a few inches with my arms up and say “Yes!” 4 There were two sides to this aisle: name-brand, off-brand. I’d glance over at the Sprite and Mug’s and Sunkist side like it were my mother changing, getting ready for work. Each aluminum can a bra, holding fizzy mystery, like Jello. I’d root through bottom shelves I could reach like a mechanic. She would find an cardboard flat and stock it with whatever flavors. I was still learning about the Bible and Paradise then and believed in both. Mom looks like an angel of cracked ceramic under fluorescent lights, pondering our lives down Aisle 4, alone. I cheered her on. 5 A couple cans always leaked on the shelf— a wet wipe was ready each time, waiting with patience to rub any pineapple-flavor sap out of my wings that wondered what I was missing on television. FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Colors of Nostalgia Saeed Ordoubadi Photography
I’d be lying if I told you my father isn’t a good man. He’s a gem. If you ask me, he’s abso-
lutely perfect. My father has money, he’s tall and handsome, he’s witty, he’s worldly. Ivy League. He has a beautiful wife (my mother), three children who adore him, and most likely a lovely vixen for a mistress—though he’d pull this off, also (he would never leave my mother; he’d never act in an indiscreet manner; he’d be classy about it). But mostly my father is generous. Though he worked for years at a non-profit (serving the blind) now that he’s retired he spends his time volunteering. Soup kitchens. Domestic violence shelters. He reads to the illiterate. He volunteers for pet clinics. He helps out at children’s hospitals. He brings food to the elderly (and healthy food at that). It’s all a bit much really. My father mostly occupies himself, however, with farmers’ markets. Each Saturday after the farmers’ markets wrap up he’s the guy who collects all the castoffs and hauls them to various needy families around town. Given the sheer mass of produce he collects this duty takes him well into Tuesday morning. The pile of produce (and bread from the bakery and sometimes flowers from the local gardener) is so large that it usually necessitates my father making four or five trips to and from the market. I know all this because I’ve accompanied him. The produce stays in the garage as it waits for distribution. The house smells like Old McDonald’s shed: onions and potatoes and cabbage and carrots and rutabagas and old lettuce and turnips and peppers and wormy corn and squishy tomatoes and bruised melons. Lots of root vegetables especially—they aren’t as popular with the peaches and tomatoes crowd (the majority). The problem only rests with my inadequacy, my sense of inferiority. Faced with a “good” father of such magnitude it’s only human nature, I suppose, to feel miniscule and unworthy. This is me. This is nothing really new, however; I’ve felt this way my whole life. Inadequate. However, my own smallness would be simply an academic issue if it weren’t for the following two vital facts: (1) As a forty three year old man I live with my father (yes, in the clichéd basement bedroom) and (2) like most men, I have the occasional interest in members of the opposite sex. The inevitable reaction of most women to my father runs something like this: “He has such a good heart—and you know what? I value that in a man more than anything. He’s generous. You can tell he really cares about people other than himself. That’s so rare. It is. It’s pretty attractive really. In a selfish society your father is one person who actually is aware of others. I admire him so much.” As you might guess, this creates an implicit/immediate compare and contrast situation—a dilemma. Unless I adopt lepers, I can’t possibly live up to my father’s bearing (so I look selfish and inadequate in comparison). On the other hand, if I attempt to give in the way my father does I’m accused of not being “true to myself.” Sheila, Cindy, Anna, Cary—they all essentially fell into the same tar pit. But then Jenna. Jenna is different. Jenna sees through the problem inherent at the heart of my domestic sphere. I pick this up in the way she leans away from my father when he becomes all grin and backslap. When he slides into stories about his volunteer gigs, Jenna has to stifle a yawn. We drive over to a fish n’ chips joint—her request. After we eat we’re drinking beers, tossing darts. Jenna’s tomboyishness may even trump her contrariness. She likes sports and beer and men. She’s a guy’s gal. She’s fun to be with. She’s smart. She’s good people. “Why don’t you just get your own place?” She flings the dart. 15. “Can’t afford to.” I fling mine. Board. “At least not yet.” “I like you,” she says. “But your father.” She tosses the next one. 20. “He’s kind of in the way, you know?” “Well, I don’t know,” I say. Outside the 2. “C’mon.” “Yeah, maybe a bit.” Jenna loops her hair back into a ponytail. She tells me she finds all the volunteering a bit much. She asks me if he’s manicy. I tell her the truth—he’s always done that sort of thing. Always.
“Who gains from all that? I mean, is it for them or for him?” I don’t know what to say. Nobody has put it to me that way before. “I’ll lend you a grand,” she says. “Seed money.” She lights a cigarette, takes a drag. She gives me one, also. So I move out. Only ten minutes away into this tiny 60’s-era-one-bedroom. The apartment is inexpensive, but boy, it’s seen some better days—that’s for sure. The dishwasher is olive green and whirrs as if run by a dozen hamsters: the outlets spark. The walls are nicked and lacquered with black marks. The hardwood floors look faded and scuffed. Still, my own place. Jenna comes over frequently. I’m paying her back on a monthly basis. My father calls. He hurt his knee—wrenched it lugging bags of potatoes. He says he’d like for me to help him out with the produce distribution. Great. “It’s just a lot for me to manage with my knee. Get your girlfriend to help you,” he says. He’s forgotten her name. He calls her “girlfriend.” I can’t bear to tell him that Jenna would rather get an appendectomy than think of herself in such a way. “Okay,” I say. “I can help on Sunday.” Then I have to work. I’m assistant manager at a sub shop and we’re understaffed as is. So for most of Sunday I’m filling his station wagon with fruits and vegetables, unloading them into baskets splayed all over the garage, then doing it all over again. It’s backbreaking work and we only accomplished half (if that) of the job. I don’t know how he does it. “It’s a labor of love,” Mom says. Or of masochism, more likely—I’d like to add. Jenna’s over later. We’re watching boxing (her choice) and playing cards. “What’s the point of all of it?” She says. I tell her it helps the homeless. She says they must get other people donating food, that my father can’t be the only one. We’re watching two stubbly Honduran guys pummel each other. The guy with the dragon tattoo is winning. “Why don’t the farmers just sell their leftovers somewhere else?” Or take it themselves to a shelter or something?” “I have no idea,” I say. “He’s been doing this a long time—there’s a system. You know what, I think he just doesn’t like to waste food. Honestly, I think it’s that simple.” She puffs air through her mouth and shrugs. The three of us are standing in the middle of a field. I’m watching the tiny white butterflies shimmy from one flower to the next. “Is this the spot?” my father asks. “I think so,” Jenna says. “All right,” he says. “But I don’t see anything.” “I don’t either,” I say. Despite the wind, it’s humid. We’re dripping with sweat. My deodorant melts down my side. I have the string. I feel like a water buffalo. Jenna walks ahead a bit scouring the grasses beneath. She’s walking carefully so she doesn’t step on it. She tells me to yank on the string again. I do and the weeds shift ten feet off to Jenna’s right. That’s all I needed to do. Jenna comes up with it. It’s a weird kite—yellow with various kelp-like tendrils.
It reminds me of a jellyfish stuck in the gulfstream. We lift it back into the moist sky. My father wraps his hands around his head in delight. I like seeing him waste time. “You have a nice girlfriend,” he says. “Jenna.” “Right. She’s different. Not abrasive exactly. She’s just independent.” Jenna says her ears are burning. She tells my father that I’m so much better off living on my own—that it’s healthy for me. “Yes, it was probably time,” he says. I’m watching the kite flop around in the heavy air. “He’s his own person,” Jenna says. “And maybe someday he’ll be as accomplished as you are.” This is a subtle dig, but I’m not sure if my father will see it as such. He winks and scratches his leg. “I don’t know if I’m accomplished. Just active.” “You like staying busy.” “I do. It keeps me young.” “Young is good,” Jenna says. I give the jellyfish more slack. “Or the perception of it.” “And perception goes a long way.” “It sure does,” my father says. “But I’m sixty seven. Another ten years I might be in the dirt. Who knows?” We listen to the birds. I smell the skunk cabbage. I want a shower. ~ “What if you could live for eternity?” Jenna asks. She likes this kind of barroom bullshit question. “Couldn’t do it. The end makes it sweeter. And passing on the baton.” A week later I break it off. With Jenna I can see where this is going—and though Jenna seems healthier for me than the rest, this is probably an illusion. I know it. I’m at the same point as usual, except instead of being in love with my father she finds him somehow small and limited. It’s still about him. Can’t escape it. His fucking presence is still manifest in every Goddamn conversation. “It’s not him,” Jenna says. “What are you talking about? I don’t care about your father. It’s you. You just—you’re stuck in a certain mindset. You want to be your own person. Don’t talk about it. Be it.” She isn’t angry, just frustrated. There’s a difference. By the winter I decide to move back into my parents’ basement. I’m sick of making Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese and eating alone on my sad futon. I miss the garage filled with bruised green peppers. “Your father will be delighted having you downstairs,” Mom says. “He could always use a hand.” “I know,” I say. I won’t quit my day job. I’m back to the quagmire. Fill in whatever clichés you want about change doing a person good and flush that right down life’s everlasting shithole toilet. He planted the seed, also. I’m rooted here. My feet aren’t going anywhere. FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Thanks for talking with me, Roscoe. I was blown away by your spoken word poetry at CommonWealth Slam last year, and I’ve had it in my mind for some time to contact you for a piece about The Writer’s Den. I read in your bio that you’ve been writing for a long time. My love of poetry started when I was in elementary school. I've always had an affinity with the art form. I didn't start taking poetry seriously as a craft until after I graduated from high school, and slam poetry was almost forced on me. Some friends of mine were poets who were into poetry slams. At first I was completely against it. I was like, "Nobody's going to put a score on my work. I'm not going to put my heart and soul on stage for people to give it a number." They talked me into it and I ended up placing second in my first poetry slam, second to a friend of mine whom I really considered a mentor. I only lost by one point; I was right there. I’ve always been super competitive, so that was it; I caught the bug. I returned the next week, this was to a place at the time called Slam Richmond. They were THE slam team for Richmond at that time. Eventually, I won a couple of slams and I couldn't stop. I got out there and slammed in other places in DC and Maryland, and I just caught fire and I haven't looked back. It’s been, really, a blessing, because it’s pushed me to write more, and it’s really pushed my creativity. Just having this friendly competition amongst writers makes me want to tackle new things in my writing that I hadn’t done before.
Now you run your own poetry slam in Richmond. Tell us about that. Right. I run The Writer’s Den poetry slam. It’s a monthly event on the last Wednesday of the month. We run out of a culture center in the city of Richmond called Elegba Folklore Society and
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Culture Center off First Street and Broad Street, not too far from VCU. The slam is a spoken word competition where poets from all over the city and sometimes further - DC and Maryland, South Carolina - come to compete for an opportunity to make the team. There are preliminary slams every month, and then our Grand Slam, our final competition, is in March. All of our previous finalists from the other months will come back to compete against each other at the Grand Slam and the top five will make the team.
And then the team goes on to larger national competitions? Exactly. This is our third season, and during our two previous seasons we sent a team to the regional competition called Southern Fried Poetry Festival in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s a southeastern regional competition and is the largest regional competition in the country. There we’ve ranked seventh and twelfth, which is pretty good out of forty teams, and we’re going again to try and make finals, which is the top four teams. This year, in addition to that, we will be going to the National Poetry Slam. It’s the largest poetry slam in the country with 80 teams from all over the U.S. and Canada. This will be the first time The Writer’s Den has attended.
How have you seen it grow over the years? You said this is your third year in existence. Yes, this will be our third season, and we’ve grown tremendously. When I started at the end of 2014, we were a weekly event, and it was like an open mic and a slam. The open mic kind of filtered out, which is why we didn’t push it any more; people more so came for the slam. At that time, we had a handful of poets, maybe ten or twelve people in the audience. We were struggling to keep our numbers up, but by the following year we were doing a lot better. We were putting around thirty people in the seats most
nights. We turned into a Friday spot where people planned to attend. We’ve been working with the Elegba Folklore Society since August of 2016, and it’s been great. We’ve been able to reach an entirely new audience, and on average we’ve had as many as sixty to seventy people in the group.
I was just thinking about the performance aspect of slam poetry and the fact that a lot of writing seems to be isolated. Slam seems to be a great way to get out there and actually be around your writing contemporaries and to hear different phrasings and different ways people are using languages. It could even get you collaborating with other people, whereas many writers end up being in their own world when they’re working on their things alone at home. Do you find that other people that you’ve met through the circuit have had the same experience you did? They were bitten by the bug and they just never looked back? I think poetry slams can be really polarizing. I really feel like there’s very rarely any middle ground. People either fall in love with it, with competing, with challenging themselves in that way. Then there are people who try it and are totally turned off by it. For them, it takes something away from their art, because they get too caught up in the competition or they get wrapped up in the numbers, or maybe they feel like there’s a price being put on their art. People can be really sensitive about that; even I was at the beginning. I’ve seen both scenarios play out. Some people come in and slam for an entire season, and after that it’s like they checked it off their bucket list and they never want to do it again. There are others who do it and fall in love with it. They get out there and they’re touring the country doing competitions.
Right, and I would think it’s a different form of poetry too. It seems some poetry wouldn’t necessarily lend itself to the ear the way poems performed at slams do. Is that true, or can you use any form of poetry in slam? I think there are some things that work better on stage than others. I'm not a fan of the term “slam poem.” I don't think that there's such a form, but I do think that there's a way to execute poems on stage in front of an audience that's more entertaining, more captivating, more engaging. I think that can happen with any form, but performing slam poetry lends itself to free verse style of poetry as opposed to a form where there's more constraints to the writing. That being said, I've seen a bunch of stuff work on stage. I’ve seen contrapuntals work onstage; I've seen pantoums work onstage. It's really half writing, half performance, the delivery being vital.
One last question that came up as we were talking here, do you feel that slam poetry has its roots in any particular style of poetry from the past century or so? To me it seems it would be very closely related to some musical styles and also to some beat poets. That's exactly what I was about to say, it's very closely related to beat poetry. I think that sometimes that's what people expect when they come. Also, depending on the region, I think there's some hip hop influence, and there's definitely some musical influence in general because it's so performance driven. Then, if I had to give somebody the title of Godfather of Slam then it would have to be Gil Scott-Heron. His performance style was similar to what we do today in poetry slams. I think his influence made slam what it is today, and I'm sure there are some other poets I could toss into that category as well.
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Two by Roscoe Burnems
Choosing the Chrysalis Moths and butterflies both emerge from cocoons. The beauty inside the chrysalis is based upon perception. Once hatched, they both fly toward the sun. One paints its wings in the light, one chooses to burn. The beauty of the human experience is the opportunity of rebirth. The moth, without thought, is engulfed by itâ€™s bad decisions. Humans look within before they set themselves ablaze. However, humans look at themselves and fear what they see. I began moving forward when I stopped looking in the mirror. The mirror shows you who you are already. I replaced all my mirrors with paint and canvas. I want to create who I am choosing to be. I am the perfect mistake. Mistakes are the only things humans do perfectly. Perfection is not the absence of flaws in existence. Perfection is the acceptance all things in existence are flawed. The human experience is a cocoon. The beauty in this experience is the opportunity of rebirth But when I look in the mirror I struggle not seeing a mistake. My chrysalis is based upon my perception. I can either be engulfed by my bad decisions, And be nothing better that what I am already, Since mistakes are the only things humans do perfectly. Or, when I fly towards the sun, I can look within before I set myself ablaze. I am the framework of my canvas. I am a perfectly flawed existence, One that paints its wings with fire, and does not burn. I no longer look at the mirror and fear what I see. My vision now shows what I am choosing to be. I am perfect because I have accepted that I am flawed.
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Breaststroke and Liberty Flooded with oppression; survival is a gasp. Necessary breath for a drowning population. Raised fist: A lighthouse in an ocean of faces waiting for change, leading them to light. Resistance. Peaceful or not. Protest and rally are kick and swim. The wipeout of black bodies is not a distress call, but call to action. Living is more than treading water. More side stroke, like lifeguard. To guard lives and pull others from sinking. I will not drown in oppression. I am both fin and fist. Dolphin kick when others will not, because ancestors found death and rebirth in the water. Until my final gasp I will remain a lighthouse. A beacon of freedom for those who still swim. When the law no longer acts as a lifeguard, but a privileged breath who will never appreciate change. Preferring minorities as floating bodies instead of breathing lives. Drowning population. Seeking light. Taking action. Still sinking.
same place. different minds. Madeleine Rhondeau Acrylic on wood panel
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FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
There are Two of Us A. R. Robins
The television hummed on the floor, only one foot from my forehead, a forehead that pressed into the blue carpet, my back arching like a sideways C. In the background rumbled the rolling lull of an old dryer. I remember that the carpet was a bright blue and smelled of soft glue the way all new carpets smell. Maybe I felt the minute rippings of flesh on my forehead when I shifted my weight slightly, cells being pulled from other cells, but I cannot be sure. I never remember that kind of pain. When you are a child, pain is different. It is easy to forget. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like pain. Sometimes it isn’t pain until sometime later. When I stretch like this, I try to think pleasant thoughts. That day on the blue carpet, I might have been thinking of pulling weeds from the ditch around our trailer, weeds as tall as I had been with grasshoppers as long as my ear, each one leaping into my face with their yellow-orange wings. If you have not looked into the eyes of a well-fed grasshopper, those erudite eyes layered with yellow and white, like eyes made of dried clay, you do not know the terrifying beauty of grasshoppers. I had been pulling weeds because every bag I filled would earn me an ice cream sandwich. I pulled those weeds with both hands, shoving the soft dirty roots into black trash bags, my knees both hot and bloody from the sharp grass, sizzling from the cold mud of the earth. After what felt like half an hour, I filled four black trash bags with weeds, and then I saw her emerge onto the rickety porch in front of our trailer with a glass pitcher of blueberry Kool-Aid. She called out to me. I walked toward her with my legs full of electricity, the pulsing power of work and youth. She handed me a glass of the sugar blue, so much colder than anything I had every consumed, and I was grateful. I was grateful because it had not been half an hour but several hours, and not only were my knees bloody, but my shoulders were pink and peeling. I was grateful because it was the perfect gift, a gift I had not asked for, and yet I had wanted it so much. This memory is beautiful to me, and though I now recognize it as an allegory I invented, I tell it to myself because she is my personal beauty, and I find that the lovely fiction we remember, the yarn that spirals inside us, always weaving, is just as important as the rigid truths we forget. She had not been there. She could not have been there. It was one of his other girls, or maybe it was him—a man I could call father until he made me call him daddy. But she is my beauty and all beauty has her in it, so I’ll keep her there until I no longer remember what lying is. Her absence is also sort of presence, a hollow shadow that balloons up inside of me. Even today I feel it. It is what I imagine the Grim Reaper must be, the personification of life’s absence. When I remember the day on the blue carpet or some other horrible day, I remember this dark balloon inside me. I could have been watching Wheel of Fortune, and the puzzle in front of me might have been one of those idioms that I am always mixing up because I am always tired or anxious and too eager to say something intelligent to people who have already written me off. Something easy on your tongue might fall off mine as “you hit the nail on the nose”—that sort of thing. I was not thinking about the puzzle. Instead, I was pushing my forehead into the floor so that my nose rose and fell into the carpet. My baggy t-shirt fell over my face, leaving my torso exposed. I let all my weight shift to one arm while my other hand went exploring. My fingers surveyed my torso, sliding into the spaces between my ribs as if I was gripping a football. I pushed the weight of my hips into the air with my thighs and felt the indigo currents of a body that folds and unfolds for the sake of movement. I should have pulled my shirt back over my chest and stomach instead of moving my fingers up my chest into the little pillows of fat around my nipples, pressing into my body’s keys like a pianist. I was not afraid of anyone walking in to see me holding my body. It was still my body. How strange that I hold onto this image of myself when I can barely put her together in my mind. To me she is like the frame of a puzzle, a dark edging with its belly scooped out. There is so much I can’t remember
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about her. How old had I been when we met? I must have been old enough, and it was summer because my mind did not hate itself. How lovely a mind is when there is nothing but the grasshoppers to ponder, no reason to doubt the thoughts that rattle inside your chest. I remember nothing concrete about her except the residue on her fingers and the ammonia in her breath. It was meth that persuaded him to play his doctor games with me, so he must have introduced us, and she must have known his body the way I knew it. Is this why I loved her? The thought wiggles in my forehead like a writhing worm. I wish I could only think of her without him. I wish I could become a better liar. Out from behind the television, which sat one foot from my forehead, there was a beetle, or some kind of jagged black bug shaped so much like a beetle that it doesn’t make a difference. It scuttled across the blue floor—its prickly legs sticking to the long fibers—he looked something like a rhino in tall grass, a rhino who walked carefully and clumsily as if he were afraid of stepping on snakes. And now I think about the rhinos in Africa, and I wonder if they know they are afraid of snakes, or if this is not something they learned to fear because they are made of intrepid muscle. I wonder if not being afraid keeps them safe, if their naïve legs walk over snakes without ever knowing the venom that hides itself in the daylight. I was young. I had to be young or else it all blurries with the terrible perversion of stupidity and all the acidic burning of shame we carry with stupidity. I was very young. I tell myself this. To be young is a sort of strength. The beetle scuttled across the carpet, his small body so aptly built for the life he was meant to live, a perfect product of evolution. He did not anticipate a creature like me, a large overwhelming child brimming with strength, her nipples stiff in the open air, welling up as if reacting to wasp venom. He had different intended enemies, and because it was so simple to do, I picked him up and pressed his armored body firmly between my fingers. I studied his writhing shape, my own shape still arched and stiff like an abstract monolith. His legs jerked about, tickling the tips of my fingers, and I smiled because all of his mighty protests were barely a whisper to me. I was a beasty predator. I was hungry. I stuck out my tongue and pressed the beetle to its pink tip. You may not understand, and I cannot explain it to you except to remind you what control makes us do to the weak. When we are able to do it, we chew up their bodies like vitamins. I pressed his body to my tongue because I knew I could want it and also have my way. My tongue began to burn, as if it were boil ing from the inside. I could not pull the beetle from my tongue because the pain was immense or because it had found a way to latch itself to some piece of muscle. It was like the day I grabbed an electric fence. He had disappeared inside the house with his friend who owned horses, leaving me to roam about like a wild boar. I was awed by the horses, so large yet so elegant, and I wanted to see them more closely, so I began to climb the fence that separated me from them. The currents of electricity did not move like water currents, forward and back, hither and thither. Instead, the fence was a magnet, keeping me tied to it. My face was stiff and my eyes were expanding and every drop of soul that was not blazing inside me was screaming to be released, yet my fingers kept grasping the fence. I could not will myself to let go. I was not strong enough. And then, I crumpled to the ground as if I were his fallen bathrobe. I remember the thud of my body before I passed out. This beetle was like the fence. It was also like the day she kissed me. She told me I was a lovely girl with a lovely body, a body all grown up. She said she loved my knees, and she wanted to kiss them. She said she loved my shoulders, and she wanted to kiss them too. “Have you ever been kissed?” “Yes.” “Who kissed you? Naughty girl.” “He did.” “Your father doesn’t count. I mean a different sort of kiss.” She was right. Her kisses were different. Her kisses were like the way lavender smells. She was like the fence too. I pressed my fingers together against the stone pebble body of the beetle. I pressed with all the strength a child can push into her fingers, and my tongue continued to burn. I thought that I would remain this way, with my tongue burning from his bite and my fingers pushing into his armored body. It hurt so much. It was the kind of pain that eternity must be. It was like when Adam betrayed God for the first time, like two souls welded together, each betraying another and too afraid to say sorry, too tired to be bothered by sorry. My hands began to shake. I was too tired to hold him, my elbow bent like a bow above me, as if I were some Roman sculpture. I wanted it to be over, and then it was. Its crunchy body collapsed between my fingers, cracking like an egg. Pieces of his torso stuck to my finger and pieces of his head remained on my tongue. I sat up, my legs folded like a pretzel in front of me. I touched my tongue. Swollen and hot, but cooling. I ache for it even today.
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Cheryl Clayton Painting
Inspection They research school systems, crime, taxes, upcoming road projects, the the airport's noise cone. They are aware of the danger of being blinded by the glitter of cosmetic features. They look for horizontal cracks (bulges and deflections may indicate serious structural problems) They are wary of a home where there is evidence of deferred maintenance. They test underground tanks for integrity. Look for signs of water extrusion. Suggest X-ray evaluations of surfaces painted prior to 1978 and they marry for love. ~ Maura Way
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Nude, not Naked Saeed Ordoubadi Photography
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FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
May the Fourth Is With
Me Andrew R. Jones
When I was a kid, I tried to memorize the population of every city in Minnesota. Much to my chagrin, I couldn’t keep up when certain cities decided they needed to update their signage in 1995 . . . and again in 2000. I still remember some of them. Wrenshall, a town not far from Duluth where my uncle Randy and his family lived, had a population of 333. The capital of Minnesota—St. Paul—had a population of 272,235. And my hometown of Paynesville had a population of 2,275. Memory has always been one of my strong suits. I spent a lot of time with sports cards when I was a kid. My parents had to find alternative ways of punishing me aside from sending me to my room. I loved to sit in my room and look at my collection. I would memorize statistics from these cards all day long if my parents let me. My fascination with sports cards reached its pinnacle when my grandpa told me there were probably some cards from the 1960s in his house. He told me to look through a few closets to see if I could find any. Thankfully, my grandparents lived approximately 50 feet from me. I had full access to their house and began rifling through their closets and cupboards in search of as many holy grails as I could find. I spent years searching for cards. I began the pursuit around the age of nine and continued to search well into my 20s. I found several gems including a Roberto Clemente, a Johnny Unitas, and even a Joe DiMaggio. I homed the most valuable cards in the solitary confinement of thick plastic cases. Less valuable cards found themselves among their fellows in a large book filled with plastic pages. With nine cards per page and several hundred pages, I had discovered quite a collection, but the collection has been moved from its discovery site. It now sits in my own home. I inherited the collection of sports cards without ceremony. My wife and I had been living in Turkey for nearly a year, but we had returned to the USA for four weeks of furlough to fundraise and rest. We were at my parents’ house when I noticed a hand-written sheet of paper on their refrigerator. It listed each grandchild and one possession to be passed down to them. Next to my name were the words: “sports cards.” I took the list off of the fridge and began asking my mom about it, as it was in her handwriting. I wanted to make sure these were my grandparents’ wishes and not some arbitrary decision my mom had made. She assured me that my grandpa had dictated the list. The cards would be mine. When I was younger, I always assumed my grandpa would have me sell the collection. He seemed to be most interested in how valuable everything was. I remember when I found the Roberto Clemente. I grabbed my most recent Beckett, the Kelly Blue Book of baseball card prices. I announced in pure elation that the card was worth $150.00. We laughed together in celebration. It was the most valuable card we had found. Now, it would belong to me. I was no longer my grandpa’s steward in the card world. He let me find all the cards while he watched Westerns and Wheel of Fortune. Now, on this piece of paper, I saw the reward for my service. But in order for the collection to truly be mine, my grandpa would have to die. I had never realized how dismal an inheritance could make a person feel.
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I walked the 50 feet to my grandparents’ house. This was the final summer they would live there. As I wandered through the house, it was like I noticed everything for the first time: the art on the walls, the knickknacks on the shelves, the toys that had been tucked away for years. I suddenly became a sentinel for all their stuff. I was terrified that my cousins would walk away with whatever they wanted. I hated the idea of my grandparents’ house changing. Soon they would take several photographs with them to a long-term care facility. Those walls would appear abnormal, like plastic surgery unnecessarily recommended and performed. I worried the whole house would soon look that way. I imagined the piano and organ ripped out of the living room and burning in a heap. I imagined my cousins loading up cedar chests with toys they had never even played with and packing them into their minivans, never to be seen again. There was nothing I could do about it. I was only going to be in the States for a few weeks. I only had a few days back at the farm. I was no help. I was more like a statue than a sentinel. I had no power, no authority. I would be nothing more than memory when the house was cleaned out, off across an ocean. I spent as much time with my grandparents as I could during those weeks of furlough. Part of our time included the burial of my grandparents’ first son, my uncle and Godfather, Tim. Tim has been diagnosed with cancer shortly before I moved to Turkey. He passed away six months after we had moved. We were unable to return for his funeral. However, he requested to be cremated and his widow decided she would like to wait to bury Tim until we (and a few other family members) could be there. Several people volunteered to drive my grandparents to the burial, but I ignored them all and trumped their potential good deeds. I got my grandparents’ car from the garage, backed it up to the house, and told them it was time to go. So they got in, and off we went to the cemetery. My family members are buried in a tiny town called Hawick. It has never had a population sign. I shuttled my grandparents to the place where many of their ancestors had been buried, where they would be buried, where their descendants would be buried, including me. The service was brief. I sang a hymn. We all cried as an urn holding Tim’s remains was placed deep into the ground. I wandered to the south, where my name is etched in stone. My great, great uncle had my name. He died in infancy. I remember the story my dad told me about when I was brought home from the hospital. My dad told my great grandpa, Frank, what they had named me and he chastised them. To him, the name was cursed. He was sure I would die early. I stared at the stone. Someday I would be buried here as well. Another stone would have my name. I would be added to the population awaiting the resurrection.
My grandparents and I climbed back into their car and I drove them away from that place of death. The next time we would arrive here, my grandpa would not leave. He was next to be placed in the ground. It’s not a hard date to remember: May 4. May the fourth is known by many as “Star Wars Day.” The phrase often uttered is “May the fourth be with you,” a play on one of the film’s catchphrases: “May the force be with you.” May the fourth be with you? Oh, it is. How could it not be? I woke up on May the fourth, 2013, around 9:15 AM. It was a Saturday. My wife and I were living in Germany. We had just returned earlier in the week from celebrating our fifth anniversary in Paris. I heard the sound of an incoming Skype call. I opened my eyes to see my wife was not in bed. I opened my ears to hear the voice of my dad. It was 2:15 AM Central Time. This could only mean bad news. There was only one possible piece of bad news it could be. She came to get me out of bed. I didn’t want to move. It was only a dozen steps from my bed to the news of grandpa’s death, but they were twelve steps I didn’t want to take. My mom and dad were crying. They were soon on their way to the long-term care facility where grandpa had been and where grandma still was, but they wanted to let me know the news first. Grandpa was dead. It wasn’t a great surprise. I knew it would come sometime soon. I had already written his obituary at the request of the family. May the fourth be with you. How could I ever forget? In the coming days I booked a flight home for the funeral. My wife wasn’t able to make the trip. I went alone. I had no regrets with my grandpa. We had a great relationship. Growing up with their house so close to ours, he had really been more like a second father to me. We would sit and watch TV together for hours. We would whine and complain about the failures of Minnesota sports teams. We’d eat candy and drink Mountain Dew. He would always give me grief about having a girlfriend and not being married yet. He would always mention how good the Lord had been to him. And of course, there were all the sports cards. The funeral was tough. My grandma had Alzheimer’s Disease. Grandpa had taken care of her over the past five years, while she had taken care of him over the previous sixty. I spent the week jet-lagged, missing my wife, wishing she had been able to come. Everybody was pleasant. We shared memories, cried, laughed, played cards, and tried our best not to despair. The whole family came out to the farm after the funeral and burial, all in the same day in this instance. The list of inherited items was still on the refrigerator. There were several check marks made that day.
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My grandparents’ house was now my younger brother’s house. He had moved in when they had moved into their long-term care facility. He was updating the house room by room. He had redone their bathroom and kitchen already. They both looked much better, but it was unsettling. The front door of the house led into the kitchen. There used to be a sink in the entry way, a place to wash up after coming in from the barn or the field. It was gone. The upstairs bathroom used to have some goofy, ceramic wall-hangings of a man and a woman in their pajamas heading toward what appeared to be a doghouse with a cat on top. They were gone. My grandma’s sewing room was now nothing more than a storage room for scrap from my brother’s building projects. The surgery had begun. The transformation was well underway. Grandpa was gone and so much of his legacy to me had been intertwined with this house. He used to always keep a basket of candy in one specific cupboard. I would walk into the house and grab a piece with great frequency. Even if I had already had a few, he would remind me, “That’s what it’s there for,” and convince me to get a few more pieces. Now, there was no basket. There was no candy. I found it hard to be in that house. I went upstairs to the bedroom where most of my discoveries of various sports cards had occurred. I wondered if I had missed any. I remembered finding Roberto Clemente here. It must have been 20 years since that discovery. I wondered how much it was worth now. Then I remembered: it was mine now . . . officially. May the fourth was with me. Grandpa’s funeral was on a Saturday. The follow-
ing daywe went to church, the place where he and my grandma had been married, where he had worshiped for more than 60 years of his life. I remember listening to the Words of Institution. I remember being struck by the words “in remembrance of me.” The communion rails at this church were quite small. Only eight people could commune at one time. I remember looking from side to side, thinking of how many times my grandpa had knelt at these rails. May the fourth be with you . . . in remembrance of me. I think of my grandpa nearly every time I approach a communion rail. I imagine the walls opening up and him communing with me through time and space. On May the fourth my family will mark the anniversary of my grandfather’s death. But it will also be marked by a potentially more frightening prospect. Only a few weeks ago, my dad was diagnosed with cancer—non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma to be specific. It is located within his spine. On May the fourth, he will hear from the radiologist as to whether or not this cancer is in his bone marrow. If it is not, radiation treatments should be effective against this isolated spot of cancer. If the cancer is in his bone marrow, well, I don’t know what that means. My guess is it would mean there will be another date I must remember coming soon, far too soon. I lost three grandparents in the span of three years. My grandpa was the middle of that trio. After my grandma passed away last September I thought death would be at bay in my family for at least another decade, hopefully two. It turns out it may be much closer than that. It turns out my dad might be added to the population of the Hawick cemetery sooner than I had expected. May the fourth is the day I find out. It looks like there will be two reasons that day will remain with me.
Still Life 347
Joshua Tarplin Photography
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AndrĂŠa Butler with Sesi magazine AndrĂŠa Butler has been writing for as long as she can remember. She took her passion for language into the high school English classroom as a teacher for five years before making a career switch toward writing and editing at LivingSocial, a social sharing platform with over 70 million members worldwide. Her four years at LivingSocial prepared her to launch Sesi magazine in 2012 with longtime friend, Shannon Boone. Since then, Butler and her staff have enjoyed the growing demand for Sesi in a market that offers little coverage for women of color, especially young Black women. They have created a safe space for Black girls to explore all aspects of their lives, from fashion, to sports, to careers, to activism.
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A word on design from Shannon Boone: Getting Started: My undergraduate degree is in Graphic Design, and people would always ask what I’m going to do with that once I graduated. I’ve always said I wanted to work for a magazine doing print layout. I love print design, because you have so much more freedom and fun than when designing for the web. So, when Andréa asked for my layout advise, I jumped on board. Also, I’m designing for my community, so this opportunity couldn’t have been more perfect. Content or Community: Both, but I always think about my target audience first whenever making any design decisions. I pay attention to theme and tone when choosing the photos for the layout. We try to pick photos that not only match the mood of the story, but also show the uniqueness of our Black culture. There are some basic design principals that I follow, but my audience mostly drives my ideas for layouts. Content plays a role, too, because content does keeps the audience engaged, so I try to design around it. I also try to create consistent design so the audience is familiar with Sesi’s style. Inspiration: I love ARISE magazine’s layout and style; its done so well. I inspire to be great one day. Shannon Boone: Layout and Design
First, I want to tell you how excited I am to share your magazine with FLAR’s audience. What made you decide to branch off into publishing your own magazine?
I was obsessed with magazines when I was a teenager, and I would read everything I could get my hands on Seventeen, YM, Teen People, as well as all the smaller ones that you'd see on the newsstand. I'd just grab them up. One day when I was around seventeen years old, I was on my bedroom floor looking at six or seven back issues of magazines, just rereading them, and I started thinking to myself how there was never anybody that looked like me on the covers. They’d have the token Black girl doing an article inside about makeup tips, but even then she wasn't my skin tone so I couldn't use those tips. Her hair would be a different texture than mine, so that was out. Then they'd have five white girls with different looks and styles, and I'd think how come they get all the choices? That's not fair. Because I loved magazines, I thought to myself that if nothing had changed by the time I was done with school I'd start a publication of my own. I didn't really know I was going to eventually do that, but the seed of the idea was planted and that’s how it started. Obviously, that seed has grown. You’ve had great reception from it. How has it expanded over the few years you’ve been publishing?
My business partner is my friend from high school, Shannon Boone. She does the layout for the magazine. We first launched back in 2009 with a couple of test issues, issues that nobody bought except our families. We were using MagCloud, a platform that allows you to upload your magazine and people can go on there and they can order it print on demand. The problem was we had to mark up our magazine so much that our single copies were ten dollars, and we’d only see two dollars from that. Nobody's buying that. So when we relaunched. I went to an actual printer in Northern Virginia, and we’re still with them. I was able to tour everything and choose the paper quality and every aspect of the printing process with them. So, now you have all this content you're creating, and you publish quarterly. Do you personally create the content, or do you have writers do it?
In this early stage I write some of the articles, and we also have about six to eight freelancers. It fluctuates depending on how busy they are, but we have at least six who write regularly for us, and a lot of them write more than one article. In fact most of them write more than one article per issue, and that helps a lot.
You are writing for a specific teen audience. What topics grab your focus? What does your brainstorming process look like when you're considering what to put in your magazine?
We usually have some type of theme for the issue. Sometimes my writers will pitch ideas, and I’ve also had pitches from readers. For instance, I wrote up a pitch from a reader who is attending a boarding school. Usually you don’t think of Black girls at boarding schools, and she said most people think only white girls do that. She suggested the article “Boarding While Brown,” and in it she was so insightful about her experience, coming to the conclusion that if we keep saying things like only white girls do that then nothing's ever going to change. Her experience showed her that if we want something to be considered as “a thing we do,” we have to start thinking of ourselves doing it, especially if it’s an option that we want to try. I would imagine that as you evolve you're thinking of different directions you can take it. Do you want to make the magazine a platform for issues?
We've always had those in there, because that was something I always missed in Seventeen and YM. There was never anything of true substance when I was reading them. They didn’t really address issues I was going through beyond surface issues of relationships and fashion. In Sesi, we’ve written articles on why boycotting works, and we’ve covered topics such as color complex (colorism), and racial profiling. We always have something related to the real life challenges that Black girls face in every issue. What’s the theme of your current spring and summer editions?
Spring was our prom issue that covered prom and beauty fashion as a theme. Our spring issue also had a health section focusing on traction alopecia, because a lot of Black girls wear weaves, braids or twists, and some pull their hair into really tight buns, which can cause their hair to break. We wrote it as a Q&A session. The upcoming summer issue is our second annual natural hair love issue. We address valuing oneself, and we talk about natural hair, beauty, and fashion, as well as health. How can people subscribe to Sesi if they would like to check it out?
Sesi is a quarterly magazine, so a subscription costs $10.00 and buys four magazines. People can order it at our website, sesimag.com.
Exclusive Content: Read “Why Boycotting Actually Works,” by Princess Gabbara from Sesi on the next two pages.
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s e r u t a e f : r e w Po ’ o M lly y, a e u n t o c Mo’ M oycotting A B y s h k r W o W
We’ve all seen the hashtags — #GrabYourWallet, #BoycottDelta, #DeleteUber, #BlackoutFriday, and more recently, #BoycottCovergirl. But launching an actual movement takes more than just pressing send on that tweet. “These hashtags are good for getting media attention … but it’s just one small step. We should understand the limitations of them.” says Banke Awopetu-McCullough, an educational activist, author, and professor at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York. “Yet when you boycott — when something is or is not getting money because of a perceived perception in the community that the business is not in the community’s best interests — that’s something that actually gets attention.” Real talk, boycotts only work when people actually participate, and making them successful requires sacrifice. Nothing gets done if you say, “Oh, yeah, I love that store too much to give it up.” Nothing gets done if you throw deuces the minute you feel tired or bored or face your first setback. For 381 consecutive days, beginning in December of 1955, the Black community of Montgomery, Alabama — around 40,000 strong! — straight up refused to ride the city buses in protest of segregation and white supremacy. Young and old alike, regardless of social standing, traded bus travel for carpooling and miles of walking, no matter how tired they may have been. No matter how much longer their trips became. No matter how many times they were threatened, intimidated, bombed. Then came a shift. In November, 1956, the Supreme Court upheld the federal district court’s ruling that bus segregation was uncon-
stitutional. “The only reason why that happened is because of the economic impact of that boycott,” says Awopetu-McCullough. “It wasn’t because people suddenly recognized our humanity. At the end of the day, America is a capitalist society … but there’s power in understanding how America’s actually built. So, we really have a blueprint in knowing what it actually takes to enact change.” The fight for civil rights is still going on today, and boycotting is just as important in the 1-7 as it was more than half a century ago, especially when we have corporations that support the man in the White House who preaches hate and bigotry and perpetuates lies. Boycotts are one way of showing our disapproval and letting companies know, “Do. Not. Come. For. Us.” It’s not just the stoppage of spending, though. This type of resistance can also take the form of dropping that coin strategically. As reported by Nielsen in the 2016 study, Young, Connected, and Black, African Americans reached $1.2 trillion in buying power the year before, and will reach $1.4 trillion by 2020 — making us the largest POC consumer group in the nation. Thing is, only a small portion of those coins go back into Black-owned businesses — as little as three percent, according to Maggie Anderson, author of Our Black Year and founder of The Empowerment Experiment. Pouring your fetty back into Black-owned brands not only helps keep your paper in the community, but also helps create jobs and economic growth. Start off with trying one or two new Black-owned businesses every
Photo Credit: Juan Moyano/Stocksy
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lot of [our] efforts are kind of drained because of what’s going on. You want to fight for immigration reform, environmental issues, [and against] the Muslim ban, and so you find yourself doing a thousand things, and you may no longer be as effective as if you were to focus on one.”
like change isn’t happening as quickly as it should. “I think we have to stay connected to each other, so when these small gains come, the momentum is there, and that’s something that will continue to rejuvenate you,” Awopetu-McCullough says. “Keep recycling that energy.”
To keep things all the way 100, it can take months, even years, before you start seeing real change. What’s important to remember, though, is that you must stay the course, even when it seems
Boycotts are only as effective as the people behind them — and you hold the power to enforce the change you want to see. So, let’s grab those wallets and get to work.
month, and when you cop things you really like, tell your friends and family, and then, spread the love on social media. After-school job on deck? Deposit those funds into an account where you can #BankBlack, such as Liberty Bank & Trust or OneUnited Bank. “[It can be difficult to] buy Black [all the time], but … we do have the ability to decide where we are not going to spend our money, and that is still very effective when you look at the last two years with the Black Friday boycott,” Awopetu-McCullough says. “We’re talking about millions of dollars that didn’t go into corporate industries.” Another example of a 21st-century, boycott that went viral is the #GrabYourWallet campaign. Launched last October after Trump was caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women, #GrabYourWallet calls for people to stop shopping at retailers that carry Trump merch. Five months in, and we’re already starting to see some changes. In February, Nordstrom announced it would no longer sell Ivanka Trump’s line, and soon after, Neiman Marcus, Zulily, Sears, Kmart, and a few others dropped Trump stuff, too. “Deciding to spend our money on folks who value our humanity is a great act,” says Awopetu-McCullough. “We have to try our hardest to not give our money to corporations who support policies of candidates that are morally reprehensible.” Wondering how you can get involved with purposeful boycotting? Choose one issue you’re most passionate about and stick with it. “Join efforts that are well-researched,” Awopetu-McCullough advises. “A
Things You Didn’t Know about the Montgomery Bus Boycott Four days before the boycott began, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery city bus. Her arrest sparked the boycott. The boycott was originally planned to last only one day. About 75 percent of Montgomery’s bus ridership was African American. The boycott helped Martin Luther King Jr. emerge as a Civil Rights leader. Even after buses were desegregated, bus stops still weren’t. During and after the boycott, homes of civil rights leaders and churches were bombed buses took fire. (Sources: History.com; Smithsonian’s 381 Days: The Montgomery Bus Boycott Story)
Photo Credit: Carolyn Lagattuta/Stocksy
Check out Official Black Wall Street — an online directory with more than 1,000 verified Black-owned businesses ranging from beauty and fashion to restaurants and entertainment, just to name a few. Learn more at www.officialblackwallstreet.com.
Who Shall Wear the Robe and Crown Patrick Clark
A Ford rolled up to the gas station where the Decatur Road came to a cross with the Old Ellis Switch. The driver stopped the pickup and went inside. The station was a mess of fry grease and Windex with a Fleetwood Mac song playing from somewhere in the wiring. He bought something to drink and asked his friend at the counter for a pack of cowboy killers. “Thought you were quittin?” asked the clerk, a heavy man in a gray t-shirt. “Thought I was too.” “I got some patches if you want ‘em,” the clerk said changing the ten. “You can hang on to ‘em, John.” The clerk handed over three dollars and some coins. “Big day Sunday, right?” the clerk asked. “Yep. You gonna be there?” Sure. I’m pickin’ up two shifts on Saturday,” he shut the register and changed his tone, “Are her folks gonna show up?” “Nope.” The clerk frowned. His friend crumpled the plastic wrapper from the pack. “I know Emilia’s different, but shit, her folks don’t care?” John questioned. His friend picked up his things and turned away “See ya then, Will,” the clerk said to the back of the other man’s head. Will Trent drove through the patches of houses down at Deacon’s Ferry. He could remember when he was five and the land was still overgrown fields and oaks. Two decades years later it was covered in little modular houses with beaten-up mailboxes and flowerbeds. Still on either side of the neighborhood the old woods still grew high above the rooftops. He finished his cigarette and tossed the butt out the window. There was a young girl playing in the driveway when Will stopped outside a faded yellow house near the end of the street. She looked up from her pavement drawings, her dull brown hands and knees dusty with chalk, and saw him. The girl knocked over her pail of chalks as she scurried inside. A few moments later Emilia stepped out from the open garage. She had cut her hair since last Will saw her. Not quite a bob, but shorter than she used to wear it. “Hey there,” she said getting in the passenger seat. “Hey yourself.” She kissed him on the cheek and he put it in drive. They left the street of weathered houses north of the river and drove into Ellis. The Oussawack was high and running quick from a late summer storm the day before. Emilia tapped her fingers on the armrest and watched the fading orange rays of sunset cut through the windows of the Ford, talking with Will the whole way down to town. They might’ve talked about the future or they might’ve talked about the day’s labors. Maybe they talked about how many angels could fit on the head of a pin.
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There were a couple places open after seven downtown, mostly bars, but there was always the Imperial Garden. It stuck out like a red and gold mess along the main street, the local fix for that syrupy American Chinese that everyone eats. The front window might’ve been a lighthouse with its gaudy neon dragon and Cantonese lanterns. The two of them took their usual spot. “Mamá wasn’t speaking today,” Emilia said after a while. “She give a reason this time?” Will replied. “What do you think?” Will hesitated for a moment, then sat up straight. “She’s gotta come around sometime.” “When?” Emilia asked blankly. “I dunno, but you can’t go on thinkin’ she’ll always be that way.” The young woman felt the ridges of the gold band set with a stone on her finger. “It might take time, but she’ll come around,” he reassured her. “Maybe,” Emilia replied, “Maybe years, maybe forever.” Will went to smoke in the middle of dinner. At earlier meetings this would’ve been nothing, but he hadn’t kicked the habit like he had said he would, so the annoyance had been allowed to fester. “I want you to quit that,” Emilia said out on the sidewalk. “Man can only do so much,” Will replied leaning on the window, the dragon floating above his head. “Are you really trying?” she said, “I mean, you tell me every week you’ll stop but you don’t even do anything.” She gave him that look, something she inherited from her mother. Dark eyes like a graveyard. Will pitched the cigarette into the street. “Then that’s the last one.” She turned and went back inside. Will followed and they finished their meal. He was irritated two days later. A mechanic’s shop demands a certain amount of smoothness in the work, even if you’re on the bottom rung, fourth man in a crew of four. The entire shift he was dropping tools and trying to stay calm. It got worse when the phone wouldn’t stop ringing. A dementia-ridden lady was very concerned about a bad ignition on her son’s car which had already been fixed. Will ditched his friends at the garage after work and went for a drive. The road took him out past what was left of the Norfolk Southern depot, with the broken-down sheds in decay and the rail lines still snaking through the woods. The fork after that would either lead south to the river or west to the flatland of strip malls and drive-thru’s. Will took the one less traveled. He needed a cigarette. It was worse than the other times he had tried to stop. His hands were restless and he wanted to move. Thankfully the river was in sight and he could stop the truck. Had to be somewhere quiet, no idiots complaining, no noise from Emilia’s folks, nothing.
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There was sanctuary here, he thought. At the river’s edge he crouched down and plunged his hands into the Oussawack. Maybe that would stop the shaking. If angry count to ten. If very angry a hundred. He dug into the muddy clay and tried. The phone in his back pocket started ringing around forty-five. Will swore and took his hands out of the river. He quickly dried them on his pants and still missed the call. In a moment it rang again and he snapped it up. “Hey, what’s goin’ on?” There was silence on the other end for a moment, thenEmilia replied. “My parents want to meet.”
“Okay, when?” Will asked, pacing along the bank. “Right now, Papá wants to talk and I think he can get Mamá to finally say something. Everyone’s at the house.” “Are they gonna be calm about it?” Will desperately hoped so, since it was their turf. “They should be. Papá told me to call you so we could settle it.” “Aight, I’ll be there in ten.” “I love you,” Emilia said. “Love you too.” Will started speeding back toward Deacon’s Ferry. The yellow house was just in view when he started feeling the restlessness again. Emilia’s family was in their living room, surrounded by the faces of their relatives in wood and plastic frames, with the communion of saints in miniature gold shrines on the walls. Will was always surprised at how much Emilia looked like her father. She looked almost nothing like her mother, save for the eyes. When they first met a year and a half ago, both parents were skeptical, but things seemed to improve in the months after. Any progress was shot to hell the day Emilia came home with that extra weight on the third finger of her left hand. Mr. Pérez was already standing. “Hello, Will,” Emilia’s father said offering his hand. Another mechanic. Will knew the hands well. Mrs. Pérez said nothing, she just watched her daughter sit next to her intended. “How you doin’ sir?” Will asked diplomatically. “I have been doing better, thank you.” Heavy accent, very soft. He was confident though. “That’s good to hear,” Will replied. “Are still going to take Emilia to your church on Sunday?” Mr. Pérez said. Not good. Will couldn’t read him with his own mind so restless. He started drumming his fingertips on his knee. “Yes he is,” Emilia replied. That got a look from her mother.
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“I must ask you not to go then,” Mr. Pérez said. “She wants to go, sir. I ain’t gonna stop her,” Will replied. “You and Mamá and Gabi are still welcome to come,” Emilia added quickly. Mr. Pérez went on. “A marriage is one thing, but you want her to change her religion. I cannot say I will support…” Will was watching Mrs. Pérez. She had to be wanting to say something since he came in the room. Emilia’s father was still talking when Will spoke up. “What about you?” he asked the stone-faced woman across the room. At that he could feel Emilia squeeze his hand, “Why don’t you say nothin?” “Emilia’s mother feels the same way,” Mr. Pérez interjected, “I already said that…” “I asked her,” Will said cutting him off, almost a snap. After a few seconds the older woman spoke. “If she cared for her family she wouldn’t leave them.” Emilia stood up. “¡Mamá! ¿Por qué insultarlo?” “¡Porque mi hija se convertirá en basura blanca!” They went at it like that, and since neither of the men could get a word in, Will made his retreat and went to sit in the truck. Sometime later Emilia came out of the house and joined him. Before that Sunday’s service began at the wooden Baptist church up the Decatur Road, a line of pickups and hatchbacks processed to the river. They parked in a dirt clearing, the crowd taking their places on shore. The middle-aged pastor had three new believers in white cloth gowns, all of them standing halfway immersed in the water. Emilia was last. When it was finished, Will gave her a towel, hugged her, and they walked through the stream of glories from the other congregants. Will saw the Jeffords from a couple houses down talking with the pastor’s wife. They had come out for their nephew’s baptism. Nice enough people. “Never seen that one girl before,” Mrs. Jeffords said. “You think they’d give them their own church?” her husband added. “Maybe when there’s enough of them,” the pastor’s wife shrugged. Will listened closer. “There’s too many of them already,” Mr. Jeffords continued. “I don’t know about all that,” replied the pastor’s wife, “But the important thing is they’re getting saved,” “Can’t they get saved back where they came from?” Mr. Jeffords asked. Will left the crowd and saw Emilia waiting back at the truck. “Still wish your folks had come around,” Will said once they had climbed in. “I think it’s better they didn’t,” Emilia muttered. The truck picked up speed and they were soon gone from the river’s edge.
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Untitled 2016 B Jason A. Cina Mixed Media on Plywood Panel
Jewelry Designer Lisa Beth is an accomplished goldsmith with a studio in LibertyTown Art Workshop in downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia. As an artist, she is always seeking fresh challenges in jewelry design. Primarily self-taught, her work has a definite wow factor with the additional bonus of being pleasingly tangible. She explains, “I like to incorporate patterns in everything I do. Everything has to be very tactile.” Lisa Beth’s pieces range from the realistic to the whimsical, but most retain a level of practicality and function no matter the design. She still enjoys the classical techniques she learned when she started making jewelry nearly forty years ago, and she continues to perfect patterns of weaving for her necklaces and bracelets. Her work is often intricate, at times requiring many layers. Lisa Beth says some of her pieces, like pendants and baubles, can take anywhere from eight hours to three weeks, with most taking four full days. She says, “That includes the planning and physical work. Besides the construction of the pieces, all of which are hand made, I have polishing, pricing, photographing, and cataloguing with each piece. Cataloguing is important, because if I need to make something similar again I have all the details on how I made it the first time.” Additional hours come from Lisa Beth’s practice of making all of her own materials, from the stock, to the wire, to the sheets, the beads, and the swirls. She says, “I think I’m in love with doing all the processes. I don’t enjoy creating something when I haven’t actually made every part of it. It’s kind of like baking; I don’t like making a pie with ready made crust. I have to make the crust myself. Like baking, I have recipes that I repeat. Even when I have problems, I have fun with pieces. Say I make an insect and I’m not really wild about the wing shape, I might actually cut off pieces and make something new from the base while utilizing the wings in another piece. I play around, kind of like a kid with blocks, until I like it.” Lisa Beth uses high quality 20 and 22 carat gold, materials she describes as luscious and forgiving. She
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creates different colors by adding other materials to the gold, like silver and copper. The high quality of this type of gold also allows her to recycle or reuse the majority of it in other pieces. One challenge for Lisa Beth as a business owner has been predicting customer preferences from year to year. She says, “I will have years when it will be all necklaces. I’ll sell every one as they come out. Another year it will be all bracelets. Another it will be earrings. I had a year of rings last year. Rings were popular, one after another. Most were anniversary rings and special gifts. It’s difficult to anticipate. When I run out of an item that is trending, I think I need to replenish it right away. Of course, that’s when people come in and say , ‘Oh, you don’t have any more rings since the last time I was here,’ or ‘You don’t have any new pendants.’ Well, that’s because I was replenishing necklaces, which were the trend. Right now I’m replenishing pendants, which were a big seller this year.” Lisa Beth says that it pushes and challenges her as an artist when clients visit and describe designs they’d like to see become a reality. Even when they don’t order a piece, talking about the possibilities allows her to think outside of the current trends. She says, “I had one customer who wanted to reuse her own stones from yearsworth of anniversary gifts from her husband, and she wanted to reset things that weren’t quite in fashion. This led me to study more about gardening, because this particular person loved gardening and she wanted to know if I could make a dimensional piece with layers of petals, which I had never done before. I like having something to think about that’s a challenge.” With a public Facebook page in the works and public demonstrations planned for this summer, Lisa Beth says she is constantly evolving both her business and her artistry. She welcomes clients to visit her by appointment and on First Fridays at LibertyTown. Look for her on Facebook @Lisa Beth - LBS Goldsmithing in the near future.
All photos by Amy Raposo
Touching the Past Saeed Ordoubadi Phtography
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The meeting room at Salem Church Library in Fredericksburg, Virginia is starting to fill up with people carrying food and tote bags. They greet each other and stake out claims at the tables, each surrounded by four to six chairs, perfect for collaboration. They are here for the monthly meeting of the Riverside Writers Club, the Fredericksburg chapter of the statewide Virginia Writer’s Club serving the city and surrounding counties of Spotsylvania, Stafford, King George, Louisa, Caroline and Orange. Jim Gaines, Riverside’s current president, calls the meeting to order. First up: taking care of business. The club has a dedicated council with Bronwen Chisolm as acting vice president, Andrea Reed as acting secretary, and Greg Miller as acting treasurer. It’s time for Greg’s report, after which talk turns to contests, the yearly anthology, and member success stories for the month. Once the business portion of the meeting is finished, Gaines introduces the club’s guest speakers. Today, I am on a guest panel with my Fredericksburg Book Festival partners, James Noll and Chris Jones. We’re talking Riverside members about independent publishing and marketing. We give our presentation and take questions from the members. It goes well. The group takes breaks for snacks and conversation, but they don’t linger long because the next portion of the meeting is what some of them have been waiting for all month. This worship of writers has come to network and catch up on the work they’ve been doing 107 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
over the month. Heavy critiques will be left up to the Monday night sessions at Books-a-Million, but some pull manuscripts from totes and binders to get some impromptu feedback from members in the group. A few of them have been attending for years. I talk with some of the members at a side table as the others gather in friendly groups around the room. Longtime member, Dan Walker, says he came to Riverside Writers back in 2010 when he was retiring from teaching and wanted to find other people who liked to write and share ideas. He appreciates that others in the room have a wide variety of expertise, and he enjoys the speakers that Riverside brings in each month. Walker has written a science fiction trilogy called The Iron John Trilogy. He got the idea from an oral story he would tell his AP English students during exam time. He is currently marketing his most recent novel, Huckleberry Finn in Love and War, which he describes as a sequel to Mark Twain’s original novel. He’ll be selling it at this year’s Fredericksburg Book Festival. Dan hands me off to the woman waiting beside us, teasing, “This woman right here has a lot of life experience.” Their collegiality is obvious. Madalin Bickel, another retired teacher with over forty years of experience in gifted education, recollects that she’s been attending Riverside Writers for the past ten years. She was even a past president of the club. She says, “Riverside is a very eclectic group, both in genre and in age and writing experiences and abilities. You may be in a critique session and a member might say, ‘I’m
not an expert on what you are writing,’ yet their feedback can be very beneficial from that outside perspective.” Bickel says she’s learned a lot from those sessions, and she’s also gained knowledge of trends in publishing, like using Create Space to publish her poetry.
Rowland writes short stories and is in the process of writing a novel. She is also working on the Riverside anthology this year and says its her first foray into the workings of the submission process and choosing work for publication, as well as choosing an engaging title and cover for marketing purposes.
Bickel mainly writes poetry under the nom de plume m.e. jackson. She published two collections of poetry in 2016. The first explores her memories of growing up in Marshall, West Virginia during the 1960s and is dedicated to the Marshall football team that tragically died in a plane crash in 1970. Her second, Notes from a Failed World, is a nod to the challenges and disappointments in her life and is dedicated to people with auto immune disorders.
Andrea Reed, Riverside’s club secretary, approaches next. She is a poet who has been a member for five or six years. Reed writes about growing up in tidewater Virginia, surrounded by the extended family that she describes as dominated by females. “My forefather - even the cats were female - so he didn't have a chance, poor guy,” she jokes. Reed says her grandmother was the family matriarch and had a big influence on everyone.
Next, I visit with Carolyn Rowland, a member who has been attending Riverside for a couple of years after moving to Fredericksburg from Washington, D.C.. She sought out the group to meet people with a common interest. Rowland’s favorite thing about the group is the access to speakers with specific knowledge that help her to better market her writing. She says, “Some speakers are very nuts and bolts about writing. We had somebody who came in and showed us how to do a spreadsheet for tracking your submissions to magazines and contests. Other times, writers have come in and talked about their process. It helps you get a feel for what their experience has been and whether they've done self publishing or gone the traditional route.
Reed enjoys the fellowship and camaraderie of Riverside Writers. She says, “In a subject like math, two plus two will always be four, but writing is very subjective. This group helps me to see how my writing comes across to people. It makes me remember I’m writing for someone else. How are they going to read it, and what will their emotional connection be with my work?” I move down to where Aaron Barlow is sitting next. Aaron writes transgressive and bizarro fiction, which he says to think of as “an animated cartoon if it was about criminals, gangsters, killers, and the mentally ill.” Barlow says he takes the most sensitive issues and makes them funny in his fiction. “I take the unrelateable and make it relateable, but then I turn it on its FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
head and make it unrelateable again. For example, a character could just be walking down the street in my story and a toilet starts talking to them. It’s supposed to be really bizarre. It’s absurd and way out there.” Barlow says he gets the most out of Riverside’s Monday nigh critique group who meets in the cafe at Books-a-Million in Central Park. While Saturdays are more for getting to know people and getting making connections, Monday nights get to the “meat” of the process. Each Monday, Riverside members bring at least five pages of work in any genre to share with a larger group of about eight to ten people. The group gives positive feedback and constructive criticism. Barlow finds the sessions are especially helpful with editing, saying, “You get to see where you made grammatical errors, beat errors, and it’s easier to see if your pacing right.” Riverside Writers has been Fredericksburg’s regional go-to group for writers for years. Levels of writing experience varies, so all are welcome. Their next meeting will be on Saturday, July 9, 2017 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Salem Church Library.
FAQs Riverside Writers meets from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month at Salem Church Library. There is a Virginia Young Writer’s Club that is associated with Riverside Writers and moves each month to different libraries in the CRRL system. There is a link on the Riverside webpage. Monday night critique session happens at the cafe in Books-a-Million at 7:00 p.m. Club dues are $15.00 and are paid once a year. The club offers members opportunities for networking, contest entry, and possible publication in their annual anthology. Visit : riversidewriters.com
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Above and Below Water Tragedies Andrea Cukier Oil on canvass
Paola Pagano Illustration
Surrender Ada Hardy
The southwestern corner of Wyoming is barren and cold, and pump jacks rock in the snow, grazing the shale beneath the dirt. They don't even bother to hide them here like they do in Los Angeles. It's just a wide landscape of nodding pumps and not much else, until one hits town. And there's not much to the town, either: a Wal-Mart, fast food, bleak winter blanketing the salted streets and rows of poorly-kept houses in dirty snow and puddles. Frank's truck is one of the oldest and dingiest in town, and the brown snow frozen to the inside of its wheel wells and the dirt it's picked up on the drive from the oil rig does a poor job of disguising it. Frank doesn't know exactly why he's been summoned; it’s not the normal day for this. He pulls into a parking spot in the lot outside the probation office, which is little more than a portable trailer on cinder blocks at the edge of town, far from the police station. He pulls the handle and the door swings open, and he pushes it shut behind him. It clatters like he's put ball bearings in its hollows. The probation office is in a run-down, chilly portable warmed by a space heater. A woman who seems vaguely familiar sits upright in a metal-armed chair that probably hasn't moved since the seventies. His probation officer, an older man in a jacket and a cowboy hat, stands up from behind the desk, nods at him and excuses himself straight into another room, clicking on an electric kettle as he shuts the door. He is meant to, he supposes, engage with the woman. She's standing now, and she offers him a hand that feels cold and smooth when he takes it. She's pretty and welldressed. Her blond hair is tucked back in a ponytail and she wears a flannel jacket, blue jeans and boots of the sort that wouldn't last five minutes on a ranch or a rig: all style and no utility.
"Laura Parker," she says. "You must be Mr. Weir." He waits for her to explain herself. This is something he's learned, that the first person to speak rarely has the upper hand. And she hesitates, and though he doesn't yet know what she wants, he has gained that bit of ground. "I'm here to speak to you about your daughter. She's okay," the woman adds, but he isn’t worried at all. In fact, he can feel himself growing angry. "What did she do?" he says. "She get arrested again? Or she broke something, and you want me to pay for it." He turns and points through the blinds to his decrepit truck. "You see that truck over there? It's on its last legs. I don't got no money for you." "She hasn't done anything," the woman says calmly. "This about her upkeep, then?" “I don’t want any money from you, Mr. Weir.” He falls silent again, and suddenly he’s afraid, though he keeps his face carefully still. He folds his arms across his chest. “Please. Sit down.” She gestures to another chair like she has the power here. Which he supposes she does, but just the same he resents being asked to sit. But she doesn’t seem inclined to talk until he does. He takes his hat off and balls it up in his hands, and then he takes a seat. “Mr. Weir, Cleo has been living with me in California for the past eight months. Since you left the state,” she adds, and he takes her meaning. “I fed her dinner one night and I got the story out of her, and she never left.” Frank looks out the window at his truck. “She’s doing well. Goes to school, comes home on time. Eats her vegetables.” This is obviously a joke, but Frank doesn’t laugh. He lays a blank look on the woman, and FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
when he doesn’t laugh, she sobers. “But she needs something permanent.” For a moment he thinks she means with him, but then he realizes that if she was trying to give his daughter back, Cleo would be standing here in the trailer, sullen and stonyfaced, as far from him as possible. The woman is looking at him expectantly. "You mean with you." "I've grown attached to her, yes." Frank waits for her to smile again, but this time she's not joking. He looks at her again. Her clothes and shoes are new and probably expensive, and she wears a bracelet on her left wrist that must cost more than he makes in a week. Over the smell of the musty room and the space heater, he can smell her lotion or her perfume, something expensive that she must put on every day to stave off looking her age -- close to his, he's sure -- for another year or two. Keep her skin soft and white. "Who did you say you were, again?" "My name is Laura Parker." "No. Who are you to my daughter? How does she wind up knowing you?" How does a pretty, rich lady wind up with a kid from a trailer park is what he really wants to ask, but he doesn't. "You a teacher?" "I'm a realtor." "And you know my daughter how?" He can feel the hostility creeping into his voice, but her polite smile, hostile in its own way, never wavers. "I manage the trailer park in Ventura where you used to live, Mr. Weir. Among other things. We met, once, when you moved in. I met Cleo while you still lived there. She would come in with the rent check and stick around and be a nuisance. After you moved out, I noticed her hanging around the trailer park, and I made her tell me what happened.” He remembers her now, in heels and black pants with paperwork the day they moved in, dressed and groomed so much better than anyone else in the park. Everything about her saying, I don’t have to live here like you do. Now saying, even your kid likes me better. “And now let me guess. She’s found Mommy, finally, and I’m an inconvenience.” He raises his eyebrows at the woman. “That’s what’s goin’ on here? You want to keep her?” The woman opens her mouth, but he cuts her off. “She sneaks out. Steals money right out of my wallet. Lies. You know she got arrested for shoplifting? And vandalism? Once I caught her out grilling hot dogs with two grown men outside that trailer. One of ‘em was black.” He waits for the woman’s shock, but all she does is keep on looking at him. “You know how many dads out there run away and the kids never even see a check? You know how many of ‘em don’t even try to stop drinking? I must have tried a hundred times, and that shit was never enough for her. But she’s my daughter. She ought to be here. With me.” In the other room, the kettle rumbles and clicks off. His 115 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
probation officer can probably hear everything they’re saying. As if trying to let them know that he hasn't got his ear to the door, he shakes out and snaps a newspaper and clears his throat. Frank watches the woman cut her eyes toward the closed door and then back at him. He wouldn't call her flustered, exactly, but she doesn't seem to have expected this. She's probably used to agreeable people, so sorry, lady, I'll have the rent for you tomorrow. Cleo’s seeing a pretty lady with a little power and a lot of money and other things that her father could never give her, and paying her back for the charity in worship. The woman is speaking. "I know Cleo can be challenging,"she says carefully, which Frank knows is a passive way of undermining his parenting. He meets her flat stare, but lets her speak because he has no choice. "Which is why I think she needs some stability and structure that she won't get if she comes to live out here. I'm in a position to offer her those things. Healthy meals, supervision, discipline." "I discipline her plenty." He knows it is the wrong thing to say before he is done saying it. Her face hardens. "She told me, Mr. Weir. I know you can't even put food on the table most of the time because you spend your money on alcohol. You abandoned her." "She ran away." “And so here you are in Wyoming,” she says calmly. Frank says nothing. “I know you leave her alone for days at a time, and out here, you’d have to because you go to work on the rigs. Welding, isn’t it?” She pauses, but he knows he’s not meant to answer that, and he wouldn’t if he was. “You can’t keep her in decent clothes, and you lived with her in a fifth-wheel without privacy. You’re a drunk.” He waits for her to get to the really bad things, but she doesn’t. “I think the abandonment alone would get the local police extremely interested, don’t you?” Frank doubts it. But there’s menace behind her words, whether or not she knows it. There is a lot that they would be interested in, and Cleo holds a trump card that she’d play in a second if she thought it would benefit her. He wonders if the woman is aware, if Cleo has worn a bathing suit or a sleeveless top in her presence, if she’s seen the cigarette burns, if his daughter flinches every time the woman raises her arm. Certainly they haven’t noticed yet that the child has a credit history. “I am offering you the peace of mind of knowing that your daughter is well cared for. With me. You can visit her, if you like.” She lays out terms. Guardianship. Visitation. Phone calls. This woman who is probably close to his age, if not younger, with so much more than he will ever have, lists the conditions under which he will surrender to her the only thing he has any claim on anymore. He tries to call up Cleo’s face and finds that he can’t quite remember it. “You want her,” he says. It’s half a question. He’s making sure. The woman looks at him like he hasn’t been listening this
whole time and says, slowly, like he’s an idiot, “Ye-es.” "What about the first time she tells you to go fuck yourself? It hasn't happened?" Frank says, noting the surprise in the woman's face. "Give it time. What about when she won't leave you the fuck alone? Or she tries to fuckin' talk to you about the boring-ass shit she does in school?" He can see from her expression that she's a better person than he is. Equipped in a way he is not. "She is my daughter," he says, as though that will erase his sins. He is not a bad father. He isn't. He remembers the horrible day she fell off the roof, how he'd been putting up Christmas lights and stapled his thumb when she fell, and how he hadn't felt his own injury for hours, until her arm was casted and the doctor asked after his bleeding hand. He remembers her big eyebrows that made her look mean, and when he caught her glaring at herself in the mirror one day, he joined her, the two of them growling at their reflections. Nobody'll fuck with you if you look mean enough, he told her, and she took the advice to heart, though she could never scare him. He remembers trying to comb out her thick dark hair and the two of them getting frustrated until, tearfully, she chewed at it with a pair of scissors and suddenly it was shoulder-length and she looked grown-up, like her mom. How she’d fall asleep in a tangle of limbs wherever she got ired, contorted like a murder victim. Try as he might, though, he can’t call up her face, or the sound of her voice. Her shrieks, though, the weight of her body writhing as he pressed a cigarette into her shoulder, he remembers. The spray of those marks across her body where they never quite healed. The hardness and the weight of her head. The silence at dinner, on those nights they ate together, the crumpling of the cellophane off the trays somehow louder, to fill the vacuum of their words. How she’d grate at him when he came home and wanted nothing more than a cigarette and a beer and solitude, but this other body, this child, was in the trailer. He’d send her out into the mosquito-bitten evening but
knew she was out there, waiting to come back in, and he couldn’t relax because he knew he’d have to deal with her again before morning. The way she hid when he told her they were moving again, so he would leave without her. He could do a better job this time. He’s not a bad father. “She is my daughter,” he says again, less forcefully this time. “Yes, she is,” the woman agrees. In the end, he signs the papers. He can feel her eyes on him. She’s impatient, as though he might decide halfway through to make this more difficult, but he doesn’t. He signs that he understands that she still has to go to court to petition for guardianship, and that his permission is revocable. He waives his right to legal representation. He signs and dates and initials. He thinks someday, before Cleo is eighteen, he will come and get her, and he will make another go of it, but as he hands the paperwork back to the woman, he feels a sense of finality and knows that he won’t. She has all the things now that he couldn’t give her. “Mr. Weir,” the woman begins, but he interrupts. “Do you know what it’s like,” he says, rubbing his hands together and looking out the window, “to have your family leave you? One by one, over the years, and you’re the cause of it?” She doesn’t know what to say. “I’ll make sure you have copies. I’ll send them here.” Frank doesn’t care about copies, but he doesn’t tell her not to send them. He gets up, and the floor creaks under his boots. She gets up too, pleased and visibly trying to hide it, and eagerly she shakes his hand. He doesn’t understand it. He opens the door and then he pauses and looks back at her. “Did she even want to come and see me?” The woman’s pause is all he needs. He turns again and goes out into the gloomy, fresh winter day, and as the salt crunches beneath his tires he feels a lightness and a heaviness that follows him for longer than he expects.
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Evelyn Ray Oil on Canvas
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Forgive Me Yeats Suddenly, the revelation! O’ Lord! A sedating silhouette arises from Spiritus Mundi, now restored. A lion head on a man’s body; it’s time come. Swiftly, the abomination now traverses, Amid the flora and fauna of my yard; Subsequently, it lightens as the darkness Abruptly drops, introducing a sky starred. Society looked as if it’s whole interior Aura split and withered. None but I Saw that ephemeral brute’s exterior, Although all sensed Modus Vivendi sigh. Mother, come now! I said, I saw a sight ill. "A second, coming; did you take your pill?" ~ Abdullah Zaid Khalil
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GALLERY SPOTLIGHT: PONSHOP A NARRATIVE ESSAY
By Gabe Pons
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A Little History
Scarlett and I met at Virginia Tech where we were both studying architecture. I worked at a local architectural firm after college in my hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, before moving to join Scarlett in New York City. We lived and worked there until 2005. We were both interested in the arts outside of our work in architecture and I had participated in a handful of art exhibits in New York. Scarlett had access to a ceramic studio in Brooklyn where she enjoyed studio time Mondays through Wednesdays, while I made use of our apartment kitchen with a desk and easel. We worked and created when we had time, making ceramics and paintings for family and friends just for the love of it. Then, around 2003, Scarlett stumbled upon a woman that opened up a small cafe and art gallery near her office in lower Manhattan. The owner recommended taking a small business workshop, so Scarlett wondered what if we could open up our own business and have it revolve around the things we loved: ceramics, fine arts, and skateboard culture? We were married in 2003, and by January of 2004 we took a small business class in Harlem through Workshops in Business Opportunities, or WIBO. There were a lot of opportunities in the city, though you had to dig around and get connected. The teachers at WIBO were volunteering their time and doing great community outreach. Once we were in our classes at WIBO, it came down to networking. The businesses represented in our classes were scattershot; some people were doing clothing design andmerchandizing, others were into computer and IT, but our model was a skateboard shop and art gallery. We used that model to work through the program at WIBO. We thought, wouldn’t it be neat to hold art events, teach art classes, or to paint the skateboards with kids, and, of course, Scarlett had to be making pottery, because that’s her niche. By the time we finished classes and graduated in May, our booth featured my painted skateboards, and her ceramics. We coined the name Ponshop, and we had developed a mission that said we’re artists, but we also want to work with the community. It was the seed of a lot of things to come. Scarlet’s family lived in the Fredericksburg area throughout the 1980s. They left and lived overseas, but returned in the mid ‘90s to stay. We knew that if we were to leave New York City we wanted to be closer to family, because we were going to start a family of our own.
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Even as early as 2004, Scarlett had reached out to Dan Finnegan here in Fredericksburg and had met him at his pottery studio. By that time, LibertyTown was already under way, but Dan still had his spot on down here on Hanover Street. We were encouraged that LibertyTown was opening and realized there was an art scene in our new hometown. Scarlett was excited that there were potters here. She would be able to continue her pottery, and pie in the sky, wouldn’t it be great to have a studio in Liberty Town? We got in touch with Dan before the move from New York to made sure that we had our finger on the pulse of what was going on here in Fredericksburg. When we moved in July of 2005, we hit the ground running. Scarlett initiated a talk with Dan, and I casually mentioned I’d love to join her and LiberyTown and share the studio. I think Dan’s insight into what we were about as artists was a stroke of luck. He had just built an addition onto LibertyTown, and that’s where we had our first studio that November. We were at LibertyTown from the end of 2005 until kind of the beginning of 2010. I think our last month there was February, and it was within the span of a weekend that we had to move all of our stuff and start getting our new gallery ship shape. Tides of Change We’re now into our seventh year at this spot on Caroline Street. The most substantial change between our move here in 2010 and now is that we have moved our studio space out of the 712 Caroline location. We built a studio at our house for our own work purposes, which frees up space in the back for classes. Obviously, it’s a humble, small storefront. We teach classes in the back, and there’s still a studio back there where our resident potter Rachel Ruddle works but I think, conceptually, one thing we realized was that it’s really difficult to both be the merchant retailer/front desk person, as well as work the studio. We’ve been juggling and managing our employees over the
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years saying, “You’re in charge of the front, I’ll be in the back.” But even that, in terms of privacy and primarily space, just got too challenging. To have two working artists using that small space in was just too cumbersome. Scarlett would work in the mornings, and when three o’clock would come around would have to clean everything up and tuck it all away. I would slowly get all my stuff out once she was finished. It was a lot of setup and breakdown. Having the new space on our property is great, because she’s afforded a lot more linear time there, and then I’m able to make a mess and leave it, which is a first. The privacy is a plus, too. While we were in architecture school, we were always working publicly in big studios around many people. Even in the firms in New York, the office space was open, and we were encouraged to think of the work on our desks as a means of interacting with both our colleagues and the clients. However, I have found that the work I’m doing here takes a lot more privacy. I spend longer chunks of time concentrating on one thing. Having a private space to do that became key. Now, having said that, I still bring in drawings to work on in the back room, and of course I work at the desk up front here. In terms of a differentiation of spaces though, I’m definitely not as anxious when I’m sitting up here anymore. Before we moved the studio, I always felt pulled to work in the back, like it was just out of reach. Having my work elsewhere has allowed me to better delineate my time as a focused artist and as a business owner. I think realizing that has been a sign of artistic growth for me. Those changes have been mostly personal ones, but the gallery and shop have changed over the years as well. For one thing, I think the artists have raised the bar. Over time, the quality of the work and items we’ve been bringing into the shop have improved. Most importantly, I think our items have come to complement one another. Not that they are all the
same, but there’s a kind of flow to the merchandise and artwork that brings something new to the shop and piques customers’ interests. We’ve also taken on employees as the gallery and shop have grown. Maddie Huddle and Rachel Ruddle are our proteges. They both work in the gallery and have collaborated with us on many projects. We’re really proud of the artwork they’ve done (Maddie is a painter and Rachel a potter)because they’ve taken the steps to present themselves as professionals. Once again, not just taking pictures of their work and posting to Instagram, but really thinking and practicing as professional artists and how they want present their work. In the public eye, are you a person who is a working artist but who also loves food and cats? Do you publish both of those interests equally on your professional social media page, or do you separate them? Personally, it can be challenging, because s much as I want to share photos of my children on my Ponshop Instagram account, it doesn’t jive all the time. As PONSHOP, we have to reinforce our brand’s identity, and it’s really about finding your voice. It’s about putting your best foot forward, and there’s a fine line. Maddie and Rachel have both adopted that philosophy quite well. Back in 2010, one of our first student interns, Sidney Mullis, was a high school senior who was on her way to beginning her Freshman year at the University of Mary Washington. Sidney interned with us that summer and we took her on as a part-time employee over the span of her college career. It was really remarkable to see her grow as an artist and adult and by the time she graduated, she had a full scholarship to Penn State University to pursue her Master’s Degree. Scarlett and I are so proud to have been her mentors throughout those years. Setting a Tone in the Community At Ponshop, we focus on items that are handmade. Virginia artists take precedent; however, over the past four years
Scarlett and I have realized that if something is really great, we don’t want to exclude it just because it’s not from this region or state. We have some work that’s consignment and some work that’s wholesale. Some of the wholesale items that we’ve brought in are from artists from different states. Scarlett and I look for work that we are inherently excited about, and also work that is just fresh and new. I always stress the word innovation. You wouldn’t find it in a box store, and a customer will find a piece that will stand out as special. We can tell by our customer’s reactions that we’ve hit upon a tone that excites people. One tell tale sign that we were on to something was when we took on the Boundless Brooklyn Model Kits two years ago. First, it was just the water towers, and I really liked the product. Within about a month or two of carrying their water towers, Boundless Brooklyn announced their kits were being carried at MOMA. We were ecstatic. We thought, “We beat them to it!” That was pleasantly reassuring for us in that our instincts for unique artistic products is strong. Of course, it’s also proof of Boundless Brooklyn’s hustle in getting their product out there. I liked the product so much and they ended up being so popular, that we held a Boundless Brooklyn art show last summer. We do the workshops throughout the year, which is especially effective with the kids. I enjoy those because it allows me to integrate architecture and model making and to work in three dimensions. Even though it’s a kit, and it’s relatively straightforward, I give the kids a background on typology and history of the structures - why are there water towers on top of city buildings? Boundless Brooklyn also offers billboards and half pipes to build. I could go on for days about the half pipe. When I am teaching this workshop to kids - I do this with the “Skate to Create” class too - I try to take them back in time. There was a time when you weren’t able to purchase a skate-
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board launch ramp from Dick’s Sporting Goods as a big prefabricated plastic thing. Ramps were something you had to invent in your garage, and I use that point to explain how kids were the ones that influenced the evolution of skateboards and ramp design. Hopefully, that gives them kind of inspiration, like if you can continue to innovate as you go, or if you see a need, or if you have a vision of something you want to achieve, you can build it yourself. Putting Passion to Purpose
Art Classes for Kids
VIEW OUR ENTIRE CLASS SCHEDULE ONLINE
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You can tell that skating is a passion of mine. I still skate, and my kids skate. Culturally it’s changed. For my generation, the commercial breakout for skateboarding was in 1985, ushered in by the movie Back to the Future. In 1988 Tom Petty released his “Free Fallin’” video where a young girl on a skateboard is riding a halfpipe. Everyone’s jaws dropped like, “Oh did you see that video? They’re on this ramp!”. The INXS Kick album had a Vision Psycho Stick on the cover, and the Vision team was in one of their music videos. Then in the early ‘90s, The industry went bust, popularity waned and skating went underground for while. A lot of it had to do with a transition from ramp and vertical skating belonging to a handful of big skateboard companies, to all of a sudden the market was just saturated and many of the young pros for those big companies decided to form smaller more agile companies. Street Skating took precedent and kids were taking the “stoke” that they saw in all those ramp contests and reinventing it in parking lots, curbs, ledges, and banks. Technical freestyle tricks merged with skater’s willingness to push limits in terms of speed and scale and that help evolve the shape of the skateboard in the early ‘90s to where it is today. In a way, it kind of separated the wheat from the chaff in a lot of respects, because if you were skateboarding in the early 1990s, it wasn’t novel as it was in like ’88. You skated because you loved it, not because you wanted to be on the bandwagon. You had to seek out skate spots and your only media was magazines or VHS tapes. Today, if you want to be exposed to skateboarding, all you have to do is dial it in on your newsfeed and you have endless content of skateboarding. Like skateboarding, street art and graffiti have seen an enormous shift even over the past ten years. I read an article recently about an online community of graffiti artists who bemoaned the fact that the scene has kind of blown out. Their angle was that it’s become part of main street culture. Kids are painting murals and taking pictures of them and they think that’s “getting up” - that’s it; they are officially graffiti artists. The reality is, graffiti holds a social conscience and consequence. Artists have to continually create in a hostile public sphere, regardless of whether anyone took a photo or not. Now corporations, from soda manufacturers to car companies, are jumping on the trend, saying, “We’ll have these cool graffiti artists come our event and they’ll do a big
mural with our product logo in it somewhere. We’ll do a commercial where the car cruises through a seedy part of town with cool graffiti on the buildings”. It’s that fine line between successfully sharing your art, your message, and being sucked into the pop-culture, insta-culture that moves onto the next big thing in the blink of an eye. It’s craft versus culture, and where is that line? It’s especially challenging as an artist, because there are so many great artists that I’ve followed for years, even before the social media blitz began. When you start applying hashtags to things, everything can get bundled together with no editorial filter. If you were to type #skateboardstencil into your search, you would find pictures that don’t even relate - bikinis, selfies, and a skateboard here or there. This is the way people are exposed to art now. Since that’s the case, I think we have to be a lot more particular about the content we put out there. Because we’re one in 7 billion, I think it becomes a lot more satisfying to focus on local community. One of the most gratifying things about having the gallery and shop is our ability to interact with the community and have our particular brand here while acknowledging that in other communities there are people doing similar things, inspiring things, but we are unique in our city. It’s reassuring that when people come in and say, “I was told if I enjoy fine art or ceramics to is it your shop,” or “My son loves skateboarding and I was told he should just meet you to see the skateboards.” Then we become a kind of cultural resource for the community. We’ve also enjoyed great freedom to use our space as we see fit in order to propel those things. We are able to bring it full circle with annual shows like Art of Recovery each May, which we do with RACSB (Rappahannock Community Services Board), or the Remixed Vinyl shows we do every August. We’ll be doing our fifth Remixed show this year. Bill Harris and I are collaborating with Whurk magazine for Art Attack again this September. This year it's September 9th. For both Remixed and Art Attack, artists come in and say, “I love your shop, how can I participate?” Those events are in place precisely for that, because even though we're a small gallery, we're happy to open it up to public artists for events like Art Attack and Remixed. There are different tiers for artists in their evolution. Even if you're a student and you've graduated, you may never have participated in a community or group show with other artists. Solo exhibits are their own animal, which takes a lot of work and preparation. If anything, giving artists in our community the access to shows is a good means of helping them gain experience at each level. It can help them break through in their careers as artists, or it can be a way for them to participate artistically in their community.
~ Gabe Pons 2017
CALL FOR ARTISTS
ENTRY DEADLINE: Sunday, July 30, 2017 Opening Reception: Friday, August 4 (6-9pm) Exhibit Dates: August 4-26, 2017
Exhibition Info: http://bit.ly/ReMix52017
PONSHOP Studio and Gallery
712 Caroline Street Fredericksburg, Virginia Monday - Saturday 10am-6pm, Sunday Noon-5pm
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Christian Duran Painted Collage Acrylic and Ink
Tavern Time At twenty years old, entering my last year of college, living in Brooklyn I need a job for the summer. While grabbing a drink a friend of a friend mentions that I can probably get hired at the dive on the corner of my street in the Greenpoint neighborhood of North Brooklyn. I walk in on a Friday about 5 o’clock and the place is empty. It follows the blueprint of any dive with the requisite pool table, with industrial fluorescent bulbs swinging over the green felt, a dark wooden bar lined with glowing tubular Christmas lights around the bottles and Budweiser tags on the mirror, the bottles, the tap, and the odor in the air. Seven red vinyl covered stools happily empty. Behind the bar is Helen, the owner, with gray hair sprayed up to add height to her diminutive frame of under five feet, a buttoned blouse tight around her skinny neck, and hands with wrinkled wrinkles from washing thousands of glasses. I introduce myself to Helen – “Hi, Margie told me to come by and ask about working here?” Helen asks all at one, with an accent part foreign, part old lady, “Okay, you want to work here, I will need you here Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from six pm until 4 am. How old are you?” I lie, “I’m twenty-three”. She doesn’t ask for a copy of my license, my social security number or to run a background check. The stress of maintaining this lie while also projecting a friendly and helpful demeanor obscures any the other questions she asks me until: “Can you come tomorrow, I will show you the bar, train you, go over the prices. You can work on Sunday and we can see if it is good.” I will ace this test because I know booze. I can finally use my knowledge gained from having a father who appreciated a good scotch, red wine, dark beer, light gin, and the rare whiskey. As a child I would ask to sip his ice-cold beer, Knickerbocker, and it tasted crisp, bitter, and delicious. On Saturdays he took me along for the short trip to the liquor store because I loved the sensation of going into the ice cold beer cooler; with its large silver handle to lift up and break the seal into the frozen cavern of stacked cases of beer. Dad always grabbed the same brand, paid for it and we returned home. Alcohol is a fact of life - I was thirteen the first time I got drunk and only at the age of twenty-six do I learn of the existence of people who do not enjoy a good cocktail. Even my grandparents, the iconic suburban white flight success story, enjoyed a gin and tonic each evening. They would pour me a glass of straight tonic water on ice so I don’t feel left out. I have since heard most children find the flavors of cheap beer, tonic water, and a tiny sip of wine to be gross, my taste buds found it to be delightful. Helen hires me right away, my pay is $40 each night and all the tips I make. I am to be bartender, waitress, and barback. In the early evenings my customers are the same guys I had seen when interviewing for the job. I start on Sunday, giddy as I step up behind the bar onto the slight platform to give me an edge over the customers. It is my stage where I will act out this character of a 23-year-old badass bartender. I can choose from two archetypes of young female bartenders – the sexy vixen and the tough sister. I set out to present myself as the latter meaning no skirts or tight tees or thin tank tops. I strategize ways to appear older, not realizing that the three years between 20 and 23 ages a person in unlearnable ways: not smiling quickly, longer scans of a new customer, smelling for inebriation and not being excited for a job at “the murder bar”. I discover this urban lore shopping at the local junk store, chatting with the aged punk rocker who still dyes his hair jet black, wears the uniform of jeans and leather jacket, and runs this shop to stay relevant. “Hey what’s you looking for today?” He asks after fifteen minutes. “I’m going to be working at a bar and I need some new shirts.” “Oh cool. You gonna be working around here, which spot?”
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By Amelie Baker
“You know the place, two blocks down on Freeman?” “You mean the murder bar? That’s where you are gonna be working?” incredulous but explains when I look at him confused, “See in 2002 two young men were killed on the sidewalk outside; back then the place was called the Alfred Kaminski Bar & Grill. It was in the New York Daily News reported: “2 SHOT DEAD IN B’KLYN FEUD”. “Oh…well…yeah I’m going to try it out. You should come by, I’ll give you a free beer.” I find a funky green army style shirt, pay and leave thinking to myself: There is nothing especially murder-y about the place but it also doesn’t really inspire joy. I guess that can fuel anger. Remember you can’t really go work anywhere else. By Sunday I know the regulars: the older Black man drinking a Kaluha based drink from some movie, made to his specifications at the price Helen charges. There are the two guys from the rooming house who order a beer to sip slowly as rent for their time on the stools. Later two guys might come in to play some pool, then the Puerto Rican cousins come to grab a vodka cranberry after closing their restaurant, and someone from the old neighborhood drops by, surprised Helen isn’t at her station. When a customer wants to impress a friend they buy me a drink to join in. Because this means another sale, I am obliged to accept. The intention may be camaraderie but it feels controlling to say, “I am enjoying this Jack Daniels, I want you to enjoy it too. You must drink it with me, and you must like it.” I learn how to drink without getting drunk. The simplest equation is to stick to the same alcohol all night - the inconspicuous option is a clear booze, like vodka, then I can substitute water for mine when it becomes necessary; if I want to be brazen I tell the customer to buy my choice, which always ends up being an expensive brand. My drink is Jameson Irish Whiskey on the rocks, and I build up enough of a tolerance to easily drink seven or eight a shift - with lots of water in the middle - and not get too drunk. Of the Puerto Rican cousins Tony comes by more often. He enjoys acting as the block captain, “Hey listen, here’s my number, if there is ever any trouble, anything at all, just call me. Ya know, it’s better than calling the cops. And I’ll help you out, seriously, anytime.” Simple self-preservation will prevent me from calling the cops. I imagine the awkward conversation between me and the NYPD officers in the bar: Yes officers, I called you because this man is drunk and rowdy. Who am I, oh I just work here…my identification…do I want to file an official report? The outcome of such a call would be the bar loosing it’s license and someone, maybe me, taken away in handcuffs. Tony has kept talking through my nightmare scenario, and I tune back in. “It’s just that kind of neighborhood. We take care of our own. I love it here, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.” Helen never comes down to check on me; I only ever see her if I walk by the bar on my off nights, just a poof of grey hair sitting behind the bar reading the newspaper. At the end of each night I count the money in the register, take my $40, pocket my tips and close the door as it locks behind me. Her son Tommy starts spending time at the bar to supervise, which entails him standing at the end of the bar, leaning over to ash his Camel cigarette (even though the indoor smoking ban was now at least two years in effect), having me serve him a marathon run of 7 oz. Budweisers. Tommy has no ambition: he never starts a drink deal, plans a new coat of paint, rebrands to lose the moniker “the murder bar”. The only change he demands is that people now call it “Tommy’s Tavern”. “Hey I got next game! Lemme get four more buds.” Tony yells out simultaneously at me and to his
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cousins at the pool table. July fourth is a national holiday, meaning Americans replace their time at work with time drinking beer. This is a day when people come back to the old neighborhood, here to Greenpoint to see the fireworks over the East River. “Diana, damn it’s nice to be playing against someone with skills.” The eco system of testosterone is disrupted by the presence of a female member of their tribe, no to simply win is not enough, now they degrade the other’s manhood, “You hit that ball like you ain’t got any between your legs.” “That’s not what your wife said last night when she was sucking on ‘em.” “Oh you know I left the bitch years ago.” “Oh is that how it went down? That bitch left you high and dry. Just play the damn game.” I feel relief as Diana comes over to order the next round - with the men I tense up with the instinct to fight, flight or flirt. “Hiya cutie, where’s Helen these days? How long have you been stuck here working with these pigs?” I tell her the same version of the truth I tell everyone, “I live down the street, I’m in my last year of college and Helen hired me to cover the summer. She’s upstairs, but if you want to see her, she still covers the bar on weeknights.” I pass her the four bottles with a big smile, she gives me a $20, “keep the rest, you deserve it for putting up with these guys.” “Alright muchachos now it is my time!” Proclaims Diana sashaying with the pool cue, circling the table to cast a spell as the guys give her space and adjust their view of her firm ass. The balls scatter at her first powerful hit, the yellow stripe rolls into a side pocket, but the others are crowded together near a side pocket. This constellation threatens her braggadocios superiority. I clean some glasses, rinse out some bottles to put in the plastic trays for recycling when the volume at the table heightens, “I did not touch that ball!” Diana now yells, “What are you calling me a liar!” The men crowd around her, some argue while others try to calm her, and she starts to swing the pool stick, hitting her opponent in the head. “What the fuck!” I yell. A crowd has it’s own biology; a person can smell, see, and feel the prescient conflict. My reaction is a strange calm even as the action gets louder than the words. I watch as a tall stick reaching across the green felt table come down onto the head of one of the guys. Holy shit, what what what am I suppose to do, I cannot handle a fight, remember don’t call the police! I inhale from down deep to strengthen my voice, climbing my knees up onto the stool, as I yell, “Get out, everyone needs to leave NOW!” Twelve men and one woman look at me as the air pulls taunt, ending when Tony mirrors my stance, “Come on guys, listen, time to clear out.” I get home shaking from fear, adrenaline, a sense of power - perhaps a power I don’t really want. My muscles tighten and pulse, my whole body making a fist; a cigarette helps. I am angry. I am relieved. I need to release this energy. I drop a mug on the old linoleum of the apartment and the handle breaks off. The sound, the sharp edges, the destruction allows a deep breath. “I think I need to break stuff, I’m gonna take some of these old plates outside,” I say to my roommate Rachael, as she follows me out. I toss one like a Frisbee at the brick wall of the factory across the street and it shatters; I take a deep breath. I hurl a bowl, Rachael takes a mug, all the pieces fall to the sidewalk.
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Another cigarette and the exhaustion hits me. I can sleep, I wake up at noon with a jolt oh shit, I have to go back. I have to work at four. I hope Helen didn’t hear about the fight. I hope she isn’t mad. I hope I don’t get fired. My final shift of work at Tommy’s Tavern starts as a quiet Sunday with the sun beginning to set closer to six and my friends more often out of town to enjoy the waning days of summer. The darkness inside the bar grows more mundane each shift. Around seven an unfamiliar customer swings open the door with the same force as if he was slamming it shut. “Oh hey, you’re new. Well I guess I’ve been away for a while. Where’s Helen?” “She’s upstairs. I work the weekends for her.” “Cool. Give me a Jim Beam straight and a Bud. My names Pat.” Pat carries the stance of an Irish fighter, not a boxer, just a guy happy to find a fight. Having grown up in Boston, this look is familiar enough to me – maybe six feet, broad shoulders on top of squared ribs, no waist with stout legs walking a wide gait. These men take up space with their knees butter flying off the stool, their arms reaching a wide circumference, and their eyes darting around each corner. I smile while serving his two drinks, “Hey sweet thing, can you plug my phone in back there. I’m almost out of battery.” As he handed me a tangled up charger and a flip phone, “Yeah this phone is new. My girl kept calling me on my old one, asking me all this bullshit. I just met her up at the river, and she just kept going. So I grabbed her phone and mine and just threw them into the river. Like shut the fuck up bitch, I don’t care.” This guy has a lot going on, I hope he is only here to take the edge off with a few drinks and then will be on his way. His energy is frenetic, talking fast pausing for a long while to measure the distance to the door. “Pour me up another. Man it is good to have a drink. Tell me why do women have to be so crazy? Like I just got out, you know what I mean, she’s got to let me relax a little.” I did not know what he meant, but I’m not a novice anymore, so I smile, agree, and try to maintain neutrality. He grows visibly angrier the more he talks about this girlfriend. “You should have seen her face, she didn’t think I would do it. I just took those two phones and chucked them into the river. So yeah, thanks for charging me phone. I appreciate it. It’s that stuff you miss when you are locked up, people just doing little things for you. Everyone is just out for themselves. Look I’ve been locked up before, hell all my brothers have been locked up. I got one brother doing twenty years cause he drove his car into some people. That’s just how it is.” I am beginning to feel uneasy – as in getting out if this situation goes bad will not be easy. I am scared. I wait for him to go to the bathroom and I use the nineteen sixties style large black phone to call Helen upstairs, “Uh hi, Helen, yeah it’s Amelie downstairs. Do you think Tommy could come down to the bar for a little?” And she responds, “No he is eating dinner.” “There is a customer down here that I…” I don’t know what to say: he scares me, he is a drunk felon who easily threatens people’s lives, he is big and angry. In truth I shouldn’t have to say anything; this is the only time I have asked for Tommy to actually be a presence in the bar, and as the owner of this shit place he should come downstairs. In that moment I realize that I am done. I don’t have to debate it or rationalize my feelings, I am not afraid of appearing weak when explaining to people and, I am very simply done. I don’t want to work every weekend of my dwindling summer break. I don’t want to serve the same regulars. I don’t want to talk with Tommy about the backroom and serve him stupid little beers. I don’t want men’s eyes on me. And I don’t want to risk my life for this shitty dive bar. I close up early, count the money in the register, take an extra three twenties for my troubles, and leave. The next day I walk by the bar to tell Helen I quit. She doesn’t ask for a reason, she simply goes back to washing glasses and sorting bottles.
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Black and Red
Saeed Ordoubadi Photography 131 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
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The Door to My Childhood Saeed Ordoubadi Photography
PATUXENT RIVER BRIDGE Under the bridge, unnoticed men, younger than their weathered faces suggest, eyes that have seen a thousand rivers rise and flow away. Their few possessions crammed into the highest nook between bank and abutment, they sleep, eat, live, listening to the clank-clonk of tires crossing steel joints, listening to us rushing over, flowing quickly away, ignorant of who or what is under the bridge, thinking only of things that must get done, the myriad acts that fill our days, all contributing to the rising tide. Under the bridge, men sit thinking, if the river don’t rise, we’ll be okay, if the river don’t rise… ~ Michael Ratcliffe
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Crush Amanda Noble
s we entered our favorite local hang-out, Lamur’s, the familiar smells of grease, cigarette smoke and spilled stale beer assaulted us, hanging in the late afternoon heat. We stopped a minute to decide where we’d sit. The bar was out of the question. John was seated on a bar stool in his usual drunken state, bleary-eyed. None of us wanted to try to make conversation with him. Irene sat behind the bar; we chose a nearby table so that we wouldn’t have to shout. Irene was our best Filipina friend; she and her cousin ran the business. After sitting at the table, Pam asked, “Can we use your kitchen to make rabbit adobo?” Pam had been raising rabbits and was hell bent on figuring out a way that Filipinos would eat them. She hadn’t had much luck thus far. “Aiiee!” squealed Irene, wrinkling her nose in disgust. “Haven’t you learned lesson yet? Filipinos don’t eat rabbits.” “Oh, please. Let us cook for you! You might like it. Amanda can make fried rice to go with it.” “Sounds like fun,” I said. I was finishing my beer and thought we might have a second round. “More beer?” I asked, lifting my chin Filipino-style to point to our empties. “Conching!” cried Irene. Conching peered into the room, and I held up a beer bottle to indicate our request. Tonight, her long hair was braided and wrapped around her head; it was a grandmotherly hairstyle but on her impish face it looked cute, even daring. She smiled, and hurried away to fill our order. “You’re never going to give up on this rabbit project, are you Pam?” asked Di, a slight sneer in her voice. “No, but I have given up on rabbit salad sandwiches.” Pam winked at me, shaking her head slightly, dark hair swaying around her face.
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I burst into laughter and so did Di. Irene had heard this story before, and joined the laughter. “Please tell story again,” she begged. New ice-cold beer in hand, I said, “The Governor wouldn’t take more than one bite!” “It was so embarrassing,” added Di, rolling her eyes to make the point. Diane’s thick blond hair was not constrained by the usual bandana she wore. It was her hair and her height that made her the object of unselfconscious stares here. That and her large blue eyes. “Well, at least we had lunch with the Governor that day,” Pam smiled, only slightly embarrassed. Lunch with a Governor, in his office, no less. Two young men entered the bar and sat on stools near John, who brightened considerably at their presence. “Hello there!” he shouted. “Haven’t seen you in a long time. How are you guys?” “Well, at least we had lunch with the Governor that day,” Pam smiled, only slightly embarrassed. Lunch with a Governor, in his office, no less. Two young men entered the bar and sat on stools near John, who brightened considerably at their presence. “Hello there!” he shouted. “Haven’t seen you in a long time. How are you guys?” Irene spoke to the men in Ilocano. I heard her mention Amerikanas, and the men turned to look at us. One of them was adorable. He had dimples when he smiled, straight white teeth in a full-lipped mouth, flashing eyes, and wonderfully thick black hair. “This Johnny and Dodo, my nephews,” said Irene. “Hi,” I said. “I’m Amanda.” I pointed to the others. “This is Diane and Pam.” The beer emboldened me to stare at Johnny, the cute one. Dodo looked like his name, poor thing. He had a scrawny body with a big head and ears that stuck out way too far. They both wore Filipino t-shirts, one advertised San Miguel beer, the other Ginebra, the local gin. The t-shirts were as carefully pressed as their jeans. Johnny was about my height, with a nice compact muscular body. He was a real stunner. “What are you doing here?” asked Johnny, grinning. “We’re Peace Corps volunteers,” I grinned right back. “What’s that?” he asked, and then spoke quickly to Irene in Ilocano, not waiting for my answer. John interrupted. “They volunteer to come to poor countries to help out. It’s a crazy idea. They don’t even make any money. I personally think they’re all trying to escape something in the States.” I wanted to throttle him. There was that military/peace corps conflict again, right in our faces. I looked at Di and Pam. Pam wore her quietly amused expression; she rarely got upset with anyone. Di was just the opposite. She rolled her eyes and flipped him off under the table. I couldn’t afford to be too rude to John. He let my mother use his army post office – or APO - box to send goodies and let us use it to send things home. This was an amazing privilege and one that we needed, like needing sleep. My mother’s packages had helped keep us sane. “So, just what are you doing?” Johnny asked. “Drinking beer,” said Di. “Sitting in front of fans,” I added. “Taking bucket bath after bucket bath,” continued Di. “Hanging out here at Lamur’s,” said Pam. We were all avoiding being serious tonight. This handsome young man had lifted our spirits. “So, what are you doing?” I asked Johnny. I couldn’t stop staring at him and his eyes were locked on mine. My love life here had been less than satisfying. “I’m a student in Baguio.” Uh, oh. Damn, he was younger than me. “How about you, Dodo?” asked Pam, trying to steer the conversation so that we were all included. But I was obsessed and didn’t care; I kept staring at Johnny. A warm glow spread over my whole body. “I’m student in Baguio, too,” said Dodo. “Are you from Baguio or around here?” asked Pam. “I’m from San Juan.” “Oh, San Juan! That’s where we work!” Pam was practically gushing. “Work? You call it work?” challenged John. I laughed out loud, and soon Diane and Irene joined me. Johnny and Dodo laughed but didn’t get the joke. Pam wore her little smile, but was clearly not happy with this comment. Pam was very serious about the Peace Corps mission, and was also well suited for it; she had a reservoir of patience for the pace of life and all the common cultural misunderstandings. When she came up against resistance to our presence, she was determined to carry on, keep trying. “Well, gals,” said Di. “It’s getting late. If we hang out much longer there won’t be any jeepneys running.” She stood; ready to leave. I began to panic, not wanting the night to end quite yet. I thought Johnny felt the same way. He blurted out, “Where do you live?” “In Lingsat,” I said. “Across from the cemetery.” Irene and Johnny exchanged information in Ilocano; Irene identified the house by the owners, who rented to us. Johnny nodded vigorously.
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I stood, waiting for Johnny to say something more. “I have to go back to Baguio tomorrow, but can we come visit you next weekend?” I looked at Diane and Pam who nodded their approval. Di smirked at me and Pam’s small smile had grown greater. She cocked her head and offered me a small discrete wink. “Sure,” I said. I looked at Irene, who wore a smirk similar to Di’s. “Well, good night everyone,” I said. We walked toward the door and I looked back at Johnny, who met my eyes and smiled. He was watching my butt. Just barely out of earshot of Irene and her patrons, Di stage-whispered, “Slut!” “Oh, shut up! He’s cute though, isn’t he?” “Oh, yeah, but you’re still a slut.” Pam laughed, a kind of high-pitched giggle she didn’t try to control. Pam really liked Filipino men. As we boarded the nearly empty jeepney, soft strains of the Bee Gees greeted us; the volume was low and the song was fun; Blaming it all on the Nights on Broadway. We sang along and the driver eyed us, no doubt wondering whether we were some of those famous loose Amerikanas. I guess we were. A week later, we were in bed when there was a sudden loud rapping at the front door. It was late, 10 at night, and we were not expecting anyone. I dressed rapidly, well, I half dressed, left my pajama top on, but added jeans. I entered the kitchen and turned on the overhead light. “Who is that?” asked Di from her room, clearly peeved. “Hell if I know.” Pam had dressed, too, and joined me in the kitchen. “Should we open the door?” “It’s kinda late.” “Well, let’s ask who it is,” she insisted. We gravitated to the picnic table and opened the beers. Johnny asked, “What is it that you’re doing here?” There was that question again. Pam, the most serious among us, decided to tackle it. “I’m involved in raising rabbits.” “What? Why?” Both seemed completely baffled. “Well, they are a good source of meat and they taste good. They’re really easy to raise, too. You just make small cages and feed them greens and water.” Dodo looked horrified. “I would never eat a rabbit.” “Why not?” “We don’t eat rabbits here.” “Well, I’m hoping you’ll change your mind about that. Just try it once.” “No, I won’t be trying it.” Pam gave up and the conversation shifted from our work to theirs. “You’re so lucky!” she said. “Baguio’s beautiful.” “We go up there a lot,” I added. “We like to go to the Fireplace.” The Fireplace was a bar that featured live American folk music. It still seemed funny to me that John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” was so popular. “I like the Fireplace, too,” Johnny said. His smile was large and his dimples prominent. He was too damn pretty to be a man! I got up and grabbed my camera, told them I want to take their picture at our table. Neither resisted. I took a long shot of the table, capturing both their images, with San Miguel beer bottles and an ashtray in the middle of the table, the map of the world behind them. When I sat back down, I boldly sat beside Johnny, taking Diane’s place; she was using the comfort room. Dodo jumped up and took the camera, shot a picture of the two of us sitting at the table. When he took the shot, we hammed it up and leaned our heads toward each other, acting as if we were a couple. When the flash went off, I could feel my face flush. What the hell was I doing? When did I get so bold? I was never like this in the States. I scooted over a little to put some distance between us. I could feel Johnny’s eyes on me; it made me flush even more. I leaned toward the table and retrieved my beer, took a greedy drink, and waved my hand in front of my face to try to cool off; hoping most of the flush was gone.
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“What do you study in Baguio?” I asked Johnny, trying to get past my embarrassment. “Engineering.” “Really? Are there a lot of engineering jobs here?” “Not so many. I hope to be able to work overseas.” “Where?” “Oh, the States, of course. But I would go other places, too.” Pam asked Dodo virtually the same set of questions and his answers were practically identical. “If we both take engineering, we have the same courses and can help each other,” he explained. A different approach to picking a major; we were blessed with choices they didn’t have. Everything boiled down to what was practical; what might take them to a richer country with more opportunities. “Do you have girlfriends?” Di asked, as if it was an innocent question. Oh, great! What now? My eyes hugged the floor, I was afraid to look at Johnny. There was a very long silence. “Well, I guess that was the wrong question!” Di said with enthusiastic laughter. “I’m sorry. I was just curious! It’s not like we know that many Filipinos boys.” What! Don’t make matters worse! We knew lots and lots, actually. Was she nervous or trying to wreck things? Dodo broke the silence. “I have girlfriend named Sonia. We will marry when I finish university.” “That’s nice, Dodo!” Di enthused, idiotically. Another long silence, the tension mounted, my eyes were still fixed on the floor. Finally, Johnny spoke. “I have a girlfriend, but it’s not so serious.” When he spoke, I looked up and noticed Dodo watching Johnny carefully, very carefully. I looked at Johnny, feeling disappointed, oh, so disappointed. He avoided my eyes. The subject needed to be changed, the sooner the better. I looked across the table at Diane and tried to express my hurt with my eyes, without it being obvious to Dodo or Pam. She stared back vacantly. “Another beer?” asked Pam, with false brightness. Everyone nodded. When the beers were open, I took a bigger than normal swallow. Di stepped away from the table, as did Pam, leaving me with the two men. Johnny leaned into my ear, whispering softly. “Can I see you next weekend?” The closeness of his breath and the pointed question sent a warm thrill through my body. So pleasurable. When I recovered, I leaned to whisper back. “I thought you had a girlfriend.” “It’s not serious. Please, I want to see you.” “Okay.” Johnny quickly stood, motioned to Dodo. “We must get home before curfew.” I walked them to the front door. Di lounged on the sofa staring blankly at an old Newsweek; Pam was retired for the night. The two men slipped quietly out the door and into the inky night. “Amanda, I’m sorry. Me and my big mouth.” Pam joined us in the living room. “I couldn’t believe my ears, Di.” “Oh, it’s alright,” I said. “Anyway, he says it’s not serious. I’m going to finish my beer.” I brought the bottle, nearly full, back to the living room, landed in a chair with a dramatic sigh, and lit one of Di’s cigarettes. “Are you really going to see him?” asked Di. “Why not? Americans or Filipinos, they all seem to be married or involved with someone.” “It’s true,” Pam agreed. “It’s not like we have a lot of choices.” “Anyway, he’s coming over next weekend.” “Amanda, are you sure that’s a good idea?” asked Di. “No.” “I just worry because he’s part of Irene’s family, you know.” “I’m worried about far more than that.” Laughter broke the tension. After a few minutes Di and Pam retired. I sat in silence, loving the way my body still tingled, even though he was long gone. “Masarap,” I whispered. Delicious.
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Kiln Don Anawalt
When I was a young, I became interested in pottery. I remember the first time I touched clay, with a child's fascination of its mysterious plasticity, odor, color, and moisture. How easily it gave way to hand and fingers. How was I to know, its presence was a mortal blow, lasting fifty years. How was I to know, it was the realm of first, going back in to points of light. Size and time have no significance; only definition counts: first kiss, first time I held her hand, first step, breath, sentence and symphony, all falling in place. How was I to know, the process of making a vase, digging clay a million years old, laying in river beds and valleys, so I could understand its ineffable fluidity, a billion microscopic sheets, sliding, clinging together as I work How was I to know, that I would mimic nature, pulling up the spinning clay, into cylinders and spheres, working water and gravity, the wheel turning like earth, passing day to night.
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How was I to know, of fire and fusion. How the vase goes into fire a billion particles, and returns as one, and how the kiln osculates in white heat, as if leaving its foundation. How was I to know, why I did the painting of a kiln floating in space, the bricks like stars, tuning end over end, as if knowing, all things break. When I was old, I was still interested in pottery, remembering the first time I touched clay, with an old man's fascination of mysterious plasticity, odor, color, and moisture. How easily it gave way, to hand and fingers. How was I to know, the painting would speak, with points of light, to billions of microscopic sheets, spinning cylinders and spheres, upon water and gravity, fifty years turning end over end, with each step, breath, sentence and symphony, passing day to night.
Don Anawalt Oil on canvas
GETTING STARTED It wasn’t all that long ago that I started working with polymer clay, 2011 maybe. I was an avid knitter, and to make a little extra money I opened an Etsy shop for my knitted things. At the time, there were something like 90,000 other knitted items for sale on Etsy, so I needed to come up with something to set my stuff apart from everybody else’s. I’d played around with polymer with my kids when they were little, so I bought a few packets and began making brooches and buttons to pair with my knitted things. I fell in love with the clay! Creating the polymer pieces was so much fun, and the rewards were far more immediate than with knitting. Polymer clay became my obsession, and to show you how complete my transformation was, I’ve completed hundreds of clay things, but I am still working on the same scarf I started knitting 4 years ago!
INFLUENCE I took ceramics in college. I've taken oil painting classes, and dabbled in drawing with watercolor pencils. Recently, I’ve been creating paper flowers out of crepe paper. Oh, and I like to make hand-bound books and my own cards. I’m like a squirrel, darting this way and that, always getting distracted by some new idea or technique. Polymer clay is really the first medium that has “stuck.” I’ll never get tired of it. It never gets old, never gets boring. In my work, I usually focus on animals and plants because those things interest me. I studied Marine Science in college before switching to a degree in English (not sure why I did that!) And I still really enjoy learning. If I'm going to sit down and make a lizard, for instance, I’ll do research on the particular species I want to copy. I’ll read up on it, and study photos taken from every angle. I try to get the details right and in the process learn a lot about the animal I’m recreating.
INSPIRATION My favorite subjects are the ordinary creatures people tend to overlook, or that get a bad rap. I’ve done dandelions, roadside weeds, insects, snakes, and way too many little brown toads. I strive for realism, but always stop a little short of reaching it. This is art, not taxidermy, right?! My creations make me happy. I try to give them personalities--there's something in the eyes that causes people to connect with them. You feel like there's something alive looking back at you, and you understand what it’s thinking, even if it's something small like a beetle.
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PROCESS Polymer comes in small 2 oz. packages, and it's available everywhere; even Wal-Mart has their own line now. It's basically ground up PVC pipe – a plastic concoction with a binding agent that allows you to manipulate it like clay. It’s pliable until you bake it in 275 degree oven, then all the bonds become permanent. The finished product is hard, and extremely durable. You can polish the baked clay to bring up a shine, or you can paint it, carve or drill into it, etc. There really isn’t a whole lot that you *can’t* do with polymer clay. Unlike ceramic clay where an artist builds the piece and then glazes it, a polymer artist makes decisions about color right at the start. The clay comes in many different colors, and that’s the really fun part: combining the different colored clays to create new colors, patterns and designs. To create tree bark, for instance, I mix several different shades of gray and brown, then tear off bits of the different colors and layer them onto a base clay branch or log. I can also blend tiny amounts of blue, green, and gray clay to make pretty convincing flakes of lichen. After the clay has been baked, a wash of acrylic paint will bring out the textures and add dimension.
CHALLANGES Polymer clay is inexpensive and approachable. You can buy your first packet, and then go home and make something very cool that same afternoon (using tools you already have in the kitchen, or on a shelf in the garage). Some brands of polymer clay are stronger than others, and you have to be careful to bake all brands at the right temperature and for adequate time to ensure the material is cured all the way through. Other than that, it’s extremely easy to get the hang of.
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STANDING OUT I think polymer clay is finally starting to be recognized as a “real” art medium. If you google polymer art, you will be astounded by the things people all over the world are creating! It wasn’t terribly long ago that polymer clay was pooh-poohed as a child’s crafting medium. We’ve come a long way, baby. And I don’t think any of the artists who work in the medium have come close to hitting the limit of what the material can do. These days I have slowed down a bit. I moved my studio back home, and am no longer exhibiting regularly in any local galleries. For several years I was a member at Artful Dimensions Gallery in Fredericksburg, and over the years I have shown my work at LibertyTown Arts Workshop, Artworks (Richmond), La Veta Gallery on Main (Colorado), and the Galerie Freisleben (Germany.) Nowadays, I am focusing my energy on creating online classes for CraftArtEdu. com. It’s something completely new and uncomfortable for me--—figuring out how to break down my process, photographing steps and mixing audio is very challenging, but I am enjoying the experience. And Fredericksburg isn’t rid of me completely. I still plan to enter as many shows as I can come up with ideas for, and I’ll be teaching this summer in LibertyTown’s summer camp series. If you want to see what I’m up to, I’m active on Facebook and post photos of everything I’m working on there @Mlterlizzi.art . If you are interested in taking one of my online classes, you can find out how to do that here:
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Crickets (I) Night must be warm Composition in D, Stridulation change, Last note F, previous E. Hawthorne thinks It’s the moon’s tune, Early summer, West Carolina, First week - June. Vibrations fueling slumber, A breathe of inner dream, This limpid enigma, Of ethereal scheme.
~ Ryan Jerome Stout
Praying Water A grief of waves dissuades the pliant sand And so all sins are rearranged pages Rend my flesh for beggar’s clothes And so I embrace the apostrophe I drink cold ocean bearded white And so I am baptized without forgiveness My essence washes a farther shore And so I am free to be what I am not
~ David Anthony Sam
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Let It Go By John Holley She curled tighter against him, his arms around, his fingers on her brow, warm, perfect. Sometimes her legs jerked in the night, sometimes her words skewed. But he knew her thoughts without the words. Here for you, always, he whispered. Slowly, irrevocably, she would become someone else. And then no one at all, the touch unfelt. Lesions, the doctors called them. Her lesions. He could not join her battle, he could only hold her. Ghosts of memory swelled in his chest, the pain deep. They were twenty, once. Standing on the wreckage of parent’s failed marriages, friends in troubled relationships. But they knew, we are not like them. We, their promise. Always a hand to touch, always. Decades, as promised. Her neurologists, dark wizards she called them. Flying words into a fog: lesions, progressive, maybe this, maybe nothing. He’d pushed, he questioned. He read and called and fought their mysteries. Beneath his fingers, there, her lesions, he could almost touch them. She’d told him to let go, quit fighting, finally. Stop now, hold me, I love you, quit now. He rested his head on hers, breathing her hair, the sweet familiar smell. His arm numbed beneath her head but he let it remain. Tracing her forehead with his finger, I’m here I’m here. He wanted her to know, he wanted…but she couldn’t. To live, to be here, he had promised her. Always here for you, holding you. He owed it, living, to her. Even then he felt himself letting go. The smugness of a promise. He saw it now. Finally, such an intimate betrayal. Closer than lips, than skin. He felt an abyss opening as pain in his chest. His breathe stopping and starting. A flutter in his neck, a yawning cramp deep. Of course. He thought of the phone on the nightstand, he could slide his arm from beneath her. A short reach, a call, to live. A promise. He almost said something, asked her to come with him. An infinite universe, yet the greatest distance within a few inches of his lips. He kissed her head.
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Lake-rain-sunlight David Smith Painting
Kristen LePine Playwright and novelist Kristen LePine
says that big projects never seem to follow a straight line. The University of Mary Washington instructor discovered this for herself as she began writing her first novel, Daughter of Sparta. She began it several years ago as a “choose your own adventure” book for a new educational publisher, but then the book took a new direction, and LePine decided to publish it herself. LePine describes the premise: “Daughter of Sparta follows the story of Gorgo, a young Spartan woman mentioned in Herodotus’s historical record three or four times. The story begins at the start of the Greco-Persian War, when a man from a Persian territory comes to Sparta seeking the Spartan king’s aid to start a war. The historical record shows that Gorgo stepped in and said, ‘No, don't trust this man. He's not being truthful with you.’ The remarkable thing is that her father, the Spartan king, listened to his daughter and they didn't go into battle in Persia. So that inspired me to keep going with the story.” Navigating this new turn, LePine put together a company called Historic Heroines as a publishing platform for Daughter of Sparta and then also decided to market other work from writers telling stories from a female perspective, something which was near and dear to her heart. Today, in addition to currently teaching playwriting at UMW, LePine also works as a marketing assistant for an arts organization. She says that as she looks at resources from around the world, she is still surprised at how the stories from the male perspective tend to be valued over others. She says, “I think that perception starts early. I 151 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
worked with a group of middle schoolers in the fall writing a devised play and the instructor said, ‘I want you to go home and research your last name and tell me a story about your family.’ A group of thirty eighth-grade drama students went home, wrote stories, and brought them back. They were all wonderful, but most of them were about Grandpa. I thought where’s grandma? Where’s your aunt? Where are the women? Then I wondered why did that happen? Where are those stories and how can we highlight them? So with Historic Heroines that’s what I try to do.” LePine says that as an educator, she finds herself being much more balanced in her selection of syllabus materials, especially in light of her experiences throughout her own years in school. She explains, “I’m building a syllabus and I’m selecting stories to read. Certainly, when I was in college most of the stories I read were from a male writer’s perspective. There might be one token female or you took women’s literature, and there was just an imbalance to that. When I left school, I just wondered why it was that way.” As LePine was starting Historic Heroines, a friend from her days with a playwriting group at the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company in Washington, D.C. contacted her about working together on a project. Richard Rashke had a play he wanted to publish called Dear Esther, based on Holocaust survivor Esther Tenner Raab. LePine says that as she and Rashke delved deeper into publishing the play, Rashke also provided the authentic and moving letters that inspired it. This made her reconsider the direction of her company, another twist in the path.
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She says, “I thought in order to be a publisher of this book, I need to become a non-profit. It’s educational, and it belongs in schools as part of the history or English curriculum.” After the initial publication, LePine decided that the letters would support a tolerance and anti-bullying program, so she set to work to develop an educational component for the book in collaboration with educators to build the right language for tolerance and anti-bullying lessons. She hopes to see feedback from schools after testing the book this fall. An aspect of publishing that LePine says she would approach differently in the future is marketing. She says, “I would definitely put a lot more time, thought, and money into marketing. You can write something, but how do you get people to find it amidst all the content out there today?” Initially, as a nonprofit organization, she was always looking for inexpensive ways to market. LePine did use Goodreads for marketing. She held book giveaways, which turned out to be an economical way to market Rashke’s book. Goodreads allowed her to get some readers to the table and to generate some buzz. She says it was fairly easy to set up on their platform and it turned out that many more readers signed up than she expected. Those who didn’t win a free book often checked it out on Amazon. She also tried using Facebook ads to limited success, and she reached out to some Jewish publications because of the heroine’s connection to the community. They gave her a few reviews in return. Ultimately, LePine found that successful marketing was in the hustle. Next steps from Historic Heroines and LePine include piloting a tolerance and anti-bullying program based on Children’s Letter’s to Holocaust Survivor: Dear Esther in three schools in New Jersey. Eventually, she hopes to get it out to as many schools as possible. LePine says she is really proud of the work Rashke has done and is excited to promote it. Additionally, LePine will be completing her own historic fiction novel, Daughter of Sparta.
For inquiries about publication through Historic Heroines, contact Kristen LePine at email@example.com. Visit the website at historicherories.org.
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Still Life Steven Myers-Yawnick
Sometimes I think I understand why he gave up and drank his way out of this damned modernité leaving nothing behind but a dirty mattress, a few stray t-shirts, and this portrait— pastels smudged by my ironic hands. It once hung proudly on his fridge, later discovered in the attic by his mother after the fact. I captured my Warholian muse with eyeshadow of whore-blue and lipstick like fruit punch. The hair was swirls of yield-sign yellow, the ritual madness of youth intact in this smiling candy-colored corpse. Has death ever looked so merry?
THE LOS ANGELES DEPARTMENT OF WATER & POWER Candice Kelsey
Pushkin (revolver in the glove compartment) never waited for a green turn arrow in hopes of making a simple left at Artesia and Sepulveda; Akhmatova, gazing at black-winged angels on the Neva, did not crumble under a sudden 12% increase in rent. I bet the darlings of French-Malayan form poetry, in mad stanzaic shufflings of their own, were free from a neighborhood of multiplying marijuana store lines, and Catherine de Medici, dealing justice to the Huguenots, was saved from drinking beer at this crappy pizza joint. I’m sure Gengis Khan, reeking of the Onon River and blood, could not relate to the endless wait for an Uber to arrive. But Merriweather Lewis, lounging in our history books beside the cool banks of the Missouri, definitely shook his head in dismay – like the rest of us – cursing the DWP!
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I Once Loved A Northern Mockingbird I said I loved the warbling. I even went so far as to look up what kind of bird it was on the Internet.
And when I found out what it was, I ran outside to greet it. Good morning, Northern Mockingbird! There you are. Up in the Spruce Pine, almost to the top. And then he sang. I read that Northern Mockingbirds could sing fifteen different sweet melodies. I heard classical, and rap, rock and even the buzz of jazz. In the late afternoons as I'd come home worn from work, I heard delta blues. I got revved up on country. My soul swelled in gospel. There was warbling like a hillbilly's bluegrass; I swore I saw a tattered straw hat in the tree. I heard love songs, and lyrics about fallen railroad heroes. There was this crooned cooing like
Frank and Bing combined. I boogied to the twittered swinging of big bands. Once, I heard humming in barber shop harmonies. I even heard throated lullabies that I hadnâ€™t heard since childhood. And then he wasn't there. In its place was a silence that was deafening. A tinnitus trilling disparate rhapsodies of human chatterings. Cars and planes and the whoosh of the world rushing nowhere. I wish I had named him. When a thing has a name you can intone his being; I would sing to him. How are you today, James? How are feeling, Elian? I miss you, Moe. Sing to me, again. Come back, I miss you.
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Kaelin Ian Cooper Mixed Media (coated in resin)
Low, Hysterical >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> I When you walk in the room it's like - I don't mean to be rude - it's like a psychological apocalypse shuffling into the kitchen wearing elephant pants. But maybe I'm the problem. I've been looking too closely in the mirror again, where whiteheads and tiny veins shoot like lightning bolts into pure iris. You have a similar story. When you look at yourself, press palms into palms, snails hide like cripples in their shells, the bell strikes midnight and you are naked and ashamed, body ear-shaped and infantile even under the Luron Credenza 300W Incandescent Lamp's flattering light. You hit your off-switch with every scrap of voltage you've got but the stabs of thunder only get half way, sink into reflection without bouncing back, strip skin to leave beautiful burns, shiny and smooth and bright and moist, all that exposed skin like rubies, like garnets, like stripping your clothes off isn't enough anymore - you've got to dig deeper. This is love, you insist. Irrational compassion or rapture of whatever, it makes you yearn, stick your antennae into every electrical socket that gives you the time of day. Gives you convulsions, just enough to get you out of bed in the morning. Make your eyes look alive. Excoriate that cow-ish deadness that's been coming on to you like a bad smell or hooded murderer ever since the years you just don't remember. Even if, even if you have to dig deep, illegally deep, you say. Frack the Eagle Ford Shale Reserve. Rip out chunks of face for emphasis - a mask turquoise and complexly textured, a smell of respiring cells that replaces the smell of when there is no smell at all. I never used to go along with this. You need help, I'd suggest helpfully. Click a little door shut and turn up the air conditioning. Clinic, I'd say. Such a lovely, almost symmetrical word, just like your face this morning. One especially puffy side. Is it cold? I'd say and you'd say warm me and I'd shake and shake and shake my head and you'd shake shake shake my shoulders and scream that you're just a symbol dying to be deciphered, a flash of insight during ictal phase when thoughts jumble up in strange tessellations, hexagonal or trihexagonal or deltoidal or kisrhobille or floret pentagonal. Where did you learn these words I ask and you say you can feel the blood cells that make thought possible hovering close by like a squad of police cars in wedge formation, haematopoietic, sinking roots into everything you hide. Let's yank out repressed memories. Yank out mountains from behind blades of grass. I have a plan, I'd say, a five year one. Like Gorbachev but better-looking. Bags under my eyes that I hide with cosmetics. I used to spend hours before school plucking every fucking hair that threatened me with deadly intercourse of unibrow. Turned the shower cold at the last minute to close my pores. Filled the fake porcelain with icy screamers, Boots No7 Protect and Perfect Intense Moisturiser, a regiment of goose-pimples. So my skin would blaze, Barbie doll with plastic death. Eyelashes teased out with a toothbrush. But my teeth stayed yellow and twisted, an irradiated smile of meth-scale horror. I could never quit smoking. Then I'd put on 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould to calm me down because I like to be calm when everything is about to die and you walk into the room wearing elephant pants. I don't mean to be rude. I don't mean it. 159 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Oliver Jones II You would like me to spin out, make the horrible animaloid noises you hear in your imagination's ICU. Long, distended groans and abortive shrieks. That's your route in, your compass and sharp dividers scale the skin of my back with perfect, bloody hemi-circles. Machete your way through the tropical fauna of pubic hair to reach El Dorado. Dynamite it. Flood the capillaries with psychiatric fire. I don't know if I want to feel, or have dreams. Sometimes I think it would be better to leave all that alone and numb out on dopamine cycles, television and coffee table small talk. As I plucked my eyebrows I dreamed of being important of being a rock star or head of state. Or sometimes of assassinating a head of state as a rock star, impaling subcontinental warlords on a Fender Telecaster Plus. Or I'd dream I had powers, like Tetsuo Shima and Luke Skywalker, enough to blast out car windows, rip up skyscrapers, pull grass & mud out of football boots after practice, which I hated. Enough to make friends. Stop my heart shaking with dread every morning as a knock comes through the door like a rapist. Not needing more is not the same as not needing, I tell you. An ocean of diazepam, right there, beautiful and dreamy. Take a short walk on the beach, sand between your toes, sun crawling up your armpits. I tell you about the time I swam so far out I saw myself being born. I saw myself in the deep black of the prehistoric submarine, kicking the surface and going out like a light, sublimate in salty air. You gave me these too-close, mammalian eyes, all-knowing. Subterranean eyes, rain caves overflowing with low-viscous words and I was grateful but a little awkward. Sorry. I tried to explain how it didn't matter what I felt; I had a plan. Like Mussolini, but not as buff. You have to open up. That's what people tell me when I open up to them. Group sessions aren't my thing, no offense. Maybe we can meet for coffee later. This is known as Thirteenth Stepping. I like to talk about the lives of artists and why biopics give me such a kick when they air on the Lifetime Channel. You like to raise your palms at the ceiling, permutate through the different combinations of closed fingers. There's at least ten. You want someone who will shoot your psychiatrist with a Ruger SP101 Centerfire Revolver and run you out of here in a red 1969 Pontiac GTO convertible this is the plot to a movie we watch. The lead is clear-skinned and lantern-jawed, perfect hair and so handsome it's healing. We complete the Thirteenth Step, buffing each other to an unholy shine in the public showers, silent and eely, eely, eely good, you joke. Tell me this is a stupid idea so I can back out, please. At night I dream I'm a travelling salesman, exorcising the anthropomorphic personifications of my neuroses with kung fu. I wake up under a tree in a forest and walk. There is dew. Now a robed anthropomorph with a complex prismatoid, polyhedral head attempts to take my life. Teleports me to a maze of tunnels, revolving gears with sharpened teeth. The gear teeth shoot out at me and I deflect them with my mind. I form a sword from psychic energy. It's one hell of a fight. I tell you about it in the cafeteria and you laugh. So it was worth it. It was worth writing this down. FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Dawn Whitmore Photography
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The Ungulate’s Jaw In the summer of her life she’d rest and forage. Her lips and rough tongue gathered horsetails, red elderberry, paper birch, willow. She’d bed down in a grass-flattened patch, mandala-round, surrounded by low bushes, deciduous greens cracking their vellum leaves in the afternoon warmth and wind. In the fall, the cow, a road-kill casualty, fed six families in need. A bone collector from Talkeetna carried home her jawbone, bleached crescent moon dry and white by the hyperborean sun. She took it home, drilled tiny holes into the smooth sled runner below its molars. From each, she tied a string of glass beads, of whispering bells. The moose cow will sing again of summer greens and twigs, sing again from an ocean-view window.
~ Kersten Christianson
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DECAF AT A DINER IN THE SUBURBS the past is strange because it's familiar but it doesn't exist all the gimcrack theories and bubblegum prize wisdom won't ever capture how lucky you were the well rehearsed anecdotes and casually tossed off glories a defense against how savage the night is out there not how warm the booth is in here but how you're only suspended for a few hours with her like a satellite you'll tell her about her eyes how you knew she's a Gemini but with any luck some veils'll blow out and tonight the dream will end differently the dead lost in the wood come to the clearing pass by you crouching beside the well you stand, crank the pail as the song of the morningbird cleaves free the dawn.
~ Jim Trainer
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Kaelin Ian Cooper Mixed Media (coated in resin)
Frank Fratoe: The Story of a Marriage
Photo by Robert A. Martin
Frank and Jane Fratoe were married in October of 1976 and remained so until Jane’s death from cancer in 1998. Even before they were married, Frank was writing poems to Jane to memorialize significant and personal events, both positive and negative, that occurred during their lives together. Jane was a music teacher, first for Camden City Schools in New Jersey where she and Frank met, and later in Fairfax County, Virginia at Riverside School. Frank says, “She had a wonderful voice, and she played piano. I wish you could have heard her voice. She would sing the ‘Ave Maria’ and it would give me chills.” Frank says Jane had a huge heart for all her children, the two biological ones she and Frank had together, and the 500 she taught each year through the music program at Riverside School. She truly thought of them as part of her family. Frank remembers, “She was recognized as a person who reached out to her students. They weren’t just numbers to her. When she died, there was a tremendous outpouring for her in that community. There were young people who came to the wake and memorial mass who told me how she had impacted their lives. I don’t know if there are many teachers like that today. There’s caring and then there’s going beyond, and that’s what she did.” Frank says this collection of poems that he shared with his wife over their many years together is the story of a marriage, “An ordinary marriage, really. The kind that many people have and cherish. It’s not the kind of thing you’d find in the poetry section at a bookstore or library. It’s personal, but I think poetry used to be like that.”
Walking into autumn, we imagined the leaves were children, red and gold, like the choirs you lead by music with love.
This is the worst time of year, morning yields frozen light, then white darkness in the afternoon, night with colder stars. Hands, like breath, contract from the wind, and limbs stop, unmoved forms waiting for their life. Here is a mortal season, the flesh dies, until you hold me once more and kiss winter into spring.
Not words but eyes said, teach them always to sing, the children that live within you, red and gold, each leaf your own.
â€œWe were close from the very beginning and spent a lot of time together even before we were married.â€?
PRE-NUPTIAL AGREEMENT Desire does not mean sameness; respect should bring freedom to be, not denial of what we are separate or together; there is no reason why our fate should be less than ourselves; and if my words ever hurt before, remember what I say to you now: that my devotion is yours alone.
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“By the second date, I knew she was the one.”
Come to the window, Jane, here twenty stories above Union Square, to see the city pause at twilight as it switches on lights and dreams, filling the dark bay with ships coming and leaving into a speckled night.
That first night in the hospital when a hurricane left my room dark, I felt fluid come down the tube into my arm and I became aware how fragile we are in the storms across a planet, across the stars that make and unmake us forever.
Listen to faint street noise below where today we were walking and riding cable-cars past the flowers on every corner, or so it seemed, while we held on to each other in a honeymoon of delayed occasion. What does it mean, our trip here, to the redwood forest and Monterey, does it foretell anything about life ahead of us in all the untold places, should we not stop, wonder of these, before I make love to you tonight?
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I thought of our life together and how strong it must be to endure time that kept receding before us from internal storms always more threatening than the loss of light, as slowly we left behind the hours so empty they separated our selves. I had hoped infection would go way and recognized the fear in your eyes still angry with me for delaying after you measured my high fever, but you didn’t know I was afraid of watching the future become old much too hurriedly for both of us.
BIRTH OF MICHAEL
This day is the end of death when the sun returns to us and climbs steadily again over the people of night.
During the induced hours of labor, your pressure went up and down and up again, until the nurses wheeled you fast down the corridor, with a father in tow who tried masking terror to keep you calm.
Our sun-child who comes at the darkest moment is the herald of our future and lightâ€™s continuing term. The unborn will be ours until we become unborn for through us another son bonds the family of night.
Our second child came reluctantly because he did not want to leave, waiting serenely for us to guess what he looked like, but finally when it was time for quickness he left his motherâ€™s quiet warmth.
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WILL vs. WILL Your stubborn will has clashed with mine, and we waste time talking of families. We argue over foolish things, forgetting the two passions committed to each other. We even fail to perceive how sons have expanded the love before our blind eyes. All that is profoundly good betweeen us must not be destroyed and end conviction.
FIRST WARMTH The first wam day of March settles on the land and stirs waiting atoms deep within the soil, like people who are lost and find themselves in each other.
â€œWhen you care about someone, you never do really get over them. I miss her every day. Sometimes I dream about her at night.â€?
You can feel shoots escaping ground and buds jostling stems to prove the lie about winter, like people who are found and lose themselves in each other.
MY SATISFACTION In this way, unlike the others who were those unable to touch you and exist whole as each man could be, I do in my slow manner show that your pleasure need not be matched by mine everytime, as at first, to make response for you always the only wish before satisfaction comes. 169 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
HAIKU #16 One day you will look under a bare Christmas tree and find only love.
Photo by Robert A. Martin
There is nothing new for us to do now, except fall in love again.
HAIKU #24 Let us contemplate the years when once more we’ll have only each other.
A FAMILY CONTROVERSY
Yes, we have come through despair in another crisis, a second son, to remind us that as parents we do merit Mother/Father days, because pride changes to agony and back again so completely, two feelings like two boys fighting for our being or their lives.
The mock debate between you two, which son do I really like the best, is answered one last time today, for I must reply as I usually do.
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Tony is far and away my favorite on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while Mike stands in the spotlight on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, but on Sunday, which is meant for rest, I don’t give a damn who’s best.
TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY, BERMUDA I advised celebrating on a cruise, you said an island would be better, eventually we flew east, descending where the Atlantic casts up a mountain, just enough to make land and bays which shimmer in the green-blue light. We stayed at a hotel, seaside across from Hamilton, and took the ferry weekdays to a terminal of omnibuses, and then rode along streets so narrow that we missed trams by six inches, to admire the pastel houses of people. After, at night weâ€™d take the ferry back through gently-slapping waves under stars clearer than ever before, thinking of two decades lived together, to approach a magical dock like ours and alight in your heart and in my soul.
RESTAURANT BY THE RIVER (PREMONITION SCENE) There was something in your eyes that should have warned me, when we sat together that one Sunday having lunch next to the window overlooking the darkened Occoquan. You were there, but not there, and I did not apprehend why as we talked and said nothing which occurred too often then, maybe by reluctance or fear. You could never tell me or accept in spirit what you must have felt and guessed before the last cup, under the awning, under the clouds, when life might surrender to death.
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REGRET (WRITTEN IN FAIRFAX HOSPITAL) Why did we let all those fleeting cares bother us to the point that we forgot what our marriage was in the beginning, a way for being together every precious moment, and lonely day, and possible year. Life gives us once a brief interruption between two infinities we cannot control, and only the fewest opportunities to go somehow beyond both our little-selves, waiting until the suns claim us at the end. You and I started out understanding that, maybe less than we hoped or more than we wanted was a possibility to control, but why didnâ€™t time teach and strengthen what we knew in our hearts was so right?
FUNERAL DREAM I cannot ever remember how I got there, or who drove the car, or what day it was or whose hands I shook at the wake, only that a part of me was buried then. Through the cloudy rime-covered glass, I could barely see light and dark shapes moving soundlessly at some other hour, very near and far away from that place. My mind was numb to any other illusion, from the minute your breathing stopped until we laid you in the family plot, next to your father on top of the hill.
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“No matter what happens, no matter what death seems to take from us, there is a continuum. Life is always there.”
Photo by Robert A. Martin
CONTINUUM If all of us lift our gaze to Venus risen in the west where ancients found a star bright above the setting sun, it is evident why we endure. The Universe projects a mind to reflect back on itself like the pendant continuum that dazzles back toward us, in a succession of becoming.
LOVE’S PERMANENCE (FOR JANE) I look in through the screen-door near the tiny garden of tomatoes planted long ago next to our house, and see no one stirring around inside but I hear someone playing the piano in our frontroom filled with music. The roof of substance covers us again as it did that day when we moved in and you took music-sheets from a box, picking out the ones you liked best to possess a world meant just for us -love cannot die when unconditional.
Robert A. Martin shot the photographs of Frank Fratoe for this piece. A resident of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Martin was a full-time photojournalist for 30 years for the local mid-sized daily newspaper, “The Free LanceStar.” Prior to working for the local newspaper, he worked at the Lynchburg, Virginia “News and Daily Advance” (3 1/2 years) and prior as a college-based photojournalist for the campus daily, as well as the AP, UPI and other organizations who needed images from West Virginia. Retired, he’s now a part-time photojournalist.
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Downtown Designs Casey Shaw
was always the kid at the back of the room drawing caricatures of his teacher. Cartooning was his passion, and he put that passion to purpose during his four years at the University of North Texas. Drawing the syndicated Benji cartoons during those years helped put him through school, and while other students were only dreaming about what they wanted to do when they graduated, Shaw was sharing his talent internationally through his work on the Benji project. After college, Shaw worked as an illustrator and designer. He took advantage of the advent of advanced computer technology and the Internet in the 1990s and taught himself webpage design. Shaw says, “Designing webpages was as much a way to share my cartoons in the early days as it was to actually build websites.” Shaw has worked with numerous national publications, most notably USA Today where he was the creative director for USA Weekend Magazine for nearly 20 years. The magazine was included in over 800 newspapers nationwide and rivaled Parade for the Sunday readers, including readers here in Fredericksburg through its local newspaper, The Free Lance-Star. Busy as he was with magazine design, Shaw says he missed working with other media. He says, “I hadn’t really painted since college. I had many magazine covers and posters that I had done, but I didn’t have any tangible work that I could hand down or give to someone.” For his fiftieth birthday, Shaw gave himself the gift of Bill Harris's painting class at LibertyTown Arts Workshop. He says, “At that time I was mainly working on portraits. I did one of my son and other friends and family. I played around with different styles, including some folk art styles I like for their design aspect. I had always liked 1930s style travel posters, so those influenced the Fredericksburg pieces I painted. You see them all over for Paris and New York, and I wanted to do some Fredericksburg ones as large paintings. I enjoyed the process of creating them with their flat color and simple design. I used the paintings to make prints and posters, and they’ve sold really well.” 175
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Shaw left USA Today in December 2014, and he’s been hustling ever since with work as a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Elite, teaching classes through Germanna Community College, and sharing his work as a member through Art First Gallery in downtown Fredericksburg. He’s also been working full-time for almost a year as a page designer for The Free Lance-Star. Shaw says leaving his work in Tysons Corners has freed up time for him to integrate with the arts community here in Fredericksburg. Gone are the long hours and late Friday nights in NOVA, both of which had caused him to miss First Fridays and other networking opportunities in the past. Today, Shaw sees his artwork as a calling card of sorts, helping him to connect with people in the community. He says, “If I’m playing tennis at the YMCA or something, people often know I’m the guy that did this cover or that cover, or the guy who does the stylized artwork they’ve seen at one of the stores downtown. It helps me connect with them better.” Shaw says Art First has been a great benefit in getting his name out into the community as a practicing artist. He says, “I've been at Art First since 2013. It’s been a good place to experiment with the portraits and design, and the reaction to the Fredericksburg posters has been the strongest in its potential to connect with people. I’m not under pressure like I might be in a more formal gallery where you have to adhere to a certain style. The only limitation I face now is having the time to do the work.” Shaw has a solo show coming up in November of 2017 at Art First. He plans to work in oils and possibly create more large pieces, which take the most time. He also wants to turn his attention to landscapes, an example of which can be seen on the next page. He says he’s still in the planning phases for the show. Visit Casey Shaw online at caseyshaw.com .
Casey Shaw Acrylic on canvas
Carl’s Ice Cream Acrylic on canvas
Pen and ink with watercolor
Goolrick’s Modern Pharmacy Pen and ink with watercolor
Kenmore in Snow Casey Shaw Acrylic on canvas
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Night In The Upland Dunes We drank champagne and chamomile tea, watched from our hammock the chalcedonic sky, where pylons of pines, loblolly lines to our eyes, patterned in blocks of ebon and jet. stood as pillars of truth in a luminous sky, enclosing the moon that pale circle of hope, to support the illusion of filigreed curtains woven of pine needle threads. Finally the moon sank to pray in the marsh. The egret, alone, strode into the dawn. ~ Ruth Ann Allaire
Rappahannock Evening Casey Shaw Oil on canvas
R O N N I E S I D N E Y
Ronnie Sidney II puts kids first. Whether through his social work, his mentoring or through his work as an author, Sidney keeps the needs of his youngest audience at the forefront of his planning and writing. This desire to help young people process trauma, abuse and bullying is born of his own experiences as a young person diagnosed with ADHD and placed in a special education program in the Essex County school system in Virginia. Though school was always a struggle, Sidney found solace in a few supportive mentors and teachers and in himself. Faced with little hope of entering a four year college when he graduated from high school with a low GPA, Sidney decided to take a chance on himself and enrolled in a local community college. He excelled. He matriculated to a four year college and then on to a masters program in social work. Today, Sidney uses his own journey, struggles, and successes to reach young people who face similar challenges. I know that your first book, Nelson Beats the Odds, chronicles your experiences as a young student placed in special education classes after being diagnosed with ADHD and describes through Nelson the ways you surpassed the challenges you faced through college. Who is your target audience and do your other books also cover personal experiences?
I generally target grades five through nine in my writing, but Nelson Beats the Odds could be shared with any grade level. My last two are fictional stories, but they’re related loosely on problems I’ve helped young people with through my experience as a therapist and also things I’ve observed. Tameka’s New Dress deals with trauma, abuse and bullying. I sometimes read it from where the bullying starts when I’m presenting, skipping the trauma, because the story is a difficult one for kids who aren’t used to processing heavy stuff in school. There’s a poem in the book where Tameka talks about her father dying. A major theme in the book is how Tameka’s past helps her look toward a brighter future, and I think that resonates with those kids that have been through a lot. They can see how their past builds resilience to help them with future struggles. At assemblies when I’ve shared it, some kids have shared their personal stories afterwards that have given a new life to the book. My latest book, Rest in Peace Rashawn, is about a police-involved shooting. I wrote it about two years ago, around the time that Tamir Rice was shot in Cleveland. That whole situation for me was difficult to swallow, because I love working with kids, and I have a passion for working with young African American males. Tamir’s shooting really struck a chord with me, because I could see the kids I mentor in him.
Do you see your writing and your books as a platform of sorts? There’s a definite purpose beyond entertainment in what you write.
I’ve always seen my writing as a way to protest injustice and use my voice in that way. Even though I knew that a story about police-involved shootings would be a lightning rod for some people, I thought it was important for me to create a book that discussed police shootings in a way that would help young people, especially young people of color, to process what they were seeing in the news or experiencing firsthand. For one thing, there aren’t many books out there about it, and there definitely aren’t many children’s books that touch on it in a realistic way. Because it’s such a hot topic, I checked with my illustrator, Traci Van Wagoner, first. Traci was all for it. That was late last year in December. We started the project then and finished it up in April. The reception so far has been good. I didn’t do a heavy rollout, just introduced it to a few schools. That was an area I was a little ambivalent about, particularly in Virginia because schools are conscientious about things that would be controversial with the public. At the schools that have allowed me to preview it, kids have been really responsive. It resonates with them, because the story is realistic and dealing with issues they experience with on a regular basis.
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You say you find it important to write about social justice and topics that some find controversial, but you are also writing for a young audience and are cognizant of it as a social worker and mentor. As a writer, how is your approach different when writing for young people as opposed to an adult audience?
I rely on feedback from people I trust and from my audience: young people. I had an editorial team help me with the latest book, and I vetted Tameka’s New Dress with young people. I actually included some of the testimonials and short essays that my young audience wrote in the final copy. I also collaborated with a junior editorial team at the old high school where I worked. We looked at the pre-draft illustrations and they gave me feedback and helped me add some slang that young people use. They helped me fill in the blanks in the story and make it more relevant to today’s youth. I really enjoy working with work young people and use the platform of the books to amplify their voices. Authentic stories are what kids need. I try my best to seek out those voices and add them to the book. It sounds like you have a deep-rooted trust that young people can handle discussing hard-hitting topics. From where does that trust originate? Do you feel that adults try too hard to protect children from such things, maybe causing them not to share when they should?
The truth can be really tough for people, and sometimes they don’t feel like kids can grasp it, but I give kids a lot of credit. One of their greatest attributes is resilience, and that’s a major theme in my books. These stories can be difficult for some readers, but are a reality for a lot of kids. We need to recognize their resilience and understand a lot of them have experienced serious trauma, and we as adults need to be sensitive towards that. Through my work, I know kids have been exposed to situations that are much more intense than most adults know. Like in Tameka’s New Dress, I write about a young girl who has been physically abused and also experiences some neglect and trauma. Those situations are inspired by the youth I work with. For that reason, I really don’t market it to kids below 5th grade, because it’s dealing with some difficult issues that can cause strong emotional reactions. When I present it, I make sure there is support around, just to help them process, because parts of the book can be triggering for some children. I’m only there temporarily. Kids need to have someone they trust who they can expose issues to in order to get some support if they are triggered by a story. Your books are written in the graphic novel format. That partnership between writer and illustrator would have to be a close one in order to represent the overall vision for the project. How is your relationship with your illustrator one that enhances your vision for these stories?
I have partnered with Traci Van Wagoner from the start, and I hope to continue that collaboration through this series. The illustrations become part of who the characters are, their physical attributes become defined. Plus, Traci has been really great to work with, giving me excellent guidance and feedback about the characters. For instance, with Rest in Peace Rashawn, the story centers on an air soft gun, and initially I wrote that Rashawn stole the gun from a store. Traci suggested that we should have someone purchasing the gun for Rashawn, because we didn’t want Rashawn to already be pegged as a thief and for the reader to have a negative impression of him. We also decided to make him younger than I had planned. I was thinking 15 or 16 years old at first, but in the story he’s being recruited into a gang. Most kids are recruited when they’re 12 or 13 years old, so we decided to make him a little younger to be more accurate in terms of the character. This would also help the reader have empathy, because seeing him as 12 or 13 would allow them to understand that he’s still making mistakes that kids make. Empathy is a huge part of my stories, because I want
the reader to build that relationship with the characters who are dealing with realistic situations. How often are you able to publish a new book for the series?
That’s the great thing about writing graphic novels, because you can do them fairly quickly. I have had three books out in two years, which allows my audience to easily follow each character’s progression and to watch their personality develop. The characters in the three books are connected, and eventually the series is going to revolve around five teenagers who are related or are friends. I would imagine you would have many kids wanting to ask you questions after reading your books. How do you connect with them after presenting or sharing a book with a school?
I do a lot of promotion on Instagram, so I’ve had many comments on there. Sometimes kids will reach out at schools, and parents will reach out on social media since there aren’t a lot of kids on Facebook. I also have many former special education students reach out to me because of Nelson Beats the Odds. That’s probably one of the biggest groups to reach out to me. They share their personal experiences and ways they have beaten the odds too. Visit Ronnie Sidney II online at Creative Medicine: Healing with Words LLC (creative-medicine.com).
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Face Blindness Sarah Henry
My mother was sitting in the kitchen while I circled an end table in the living room. I heard her grumble, “You’ll have to start wearing glasses.” I was two and a half. My brothers played on the floor. What did they play? Fade out. My mother never made eye contact. I learned to measure distance early. When I studied a notebook in the den, she told me to keep up the good work from the living room. My hairdresser who looks like Kate Middleton strolled past my building one evening. She walked her fluffy white dog sedately. It had painted blue toenails. At the beauty shop, my hairdresser asked why I hadn’t said hello. I didn’t recognize her outside the palace. A Curves gym is the modern sewing circle for women, where we exercise and gossip. It’s easy to meet new women every day and forget their faces every day. On the machines, they sweat beside me. Some of them look like royalty.
Barn, Abandoned By Robyn Roberts
Abandoned as weeds grow through clapboards and decades of webs tangle, laden with spider-kill, woven layers upon rafters. Sunlight streams through cracks in siding and a battered door leans into shadow. Manure grown powdery now, old hay dusty with mold The lingering scent of animals once living out their days From dawn through their burden to dusk From birth through their usefulness to death. Empty of all that once was here Full of all that once was here. Rusted tools, twisted chains, the decay of feathers and the remains of leather Worn smooth yet cracked where it was last hung That late afternoon or evening when the barn was abandoned As a moon rises in the distance And bats, waiting for night, shudder and take flight From this barn now abandoned.
By Georgia Lee Strentz
The sea churning me ashore, to the groans of those on the beach, The waves that brought me unwanted, try to take me back with the tide, unspoken. Though felt in years to come, through salt dripping eyes, looking vacant, without nourishment. The sea, whispering from whence I came, not hostile, like those ashore, a promise of a better welcomes in years beyond today. Ride the surf on your own wave, little girl, find your own welcoming shore, swim for your life, as the challenges ahead uniquely suit you. Go, find out why you managed to make it this far, in the wonderfully challenging world. Perhaps another little girl, in a distant future, comes ashore, whom your loved one would welcome through anotherâ€™s womb. Perhaps to show her a welcoming heart, a smile, a warm embrace.
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e caught me out in the yard. I had my backpack in one hand and was checking the mail when he pulled open the gate. I could hear him coming before I saw him. He stood there and said, “Hello.” He was wearing a black leather jacket I’d never seen on him before. He looked good. Was getting sleep, no more rings under his eyes. Maybe five or six pounds lighter. “Hello,” I said and shut the mailbox. There wasn’t any mail. He glanced at my backpack and said, “Not a good time?” “Not really,” I said. “Just heading out the door.” “Where to now?” “Belgium,” I said, and then, “Charleroi.” He nodded approvingly. “You really get around, huh?” “Writing about an exhibit Niels has there.” “That Niels,” he replied. “He doing all right?” I nodded. “Was just in the neighborhood,” he then said. “Thought I’d drop by.” “Now’s not great.” Then we finally took a good look at each other. It’s one of those situations where you can tell that a person’s changed, but it’s not clear at first how. It’s not just their weight, or a few gray hairs. Neither of us wanted to speak, which brought a strange silence, each waiting it out. “You lost some weight,” I said, and he smiled and said, “I did.” We used to be better at overcoming the silence— we’d just drink another pint, which made it less of an issue. There were always other people around, in the old stadium, or in some pub, never leaving us completely on our own. So now I noticed just how little we had to say to each other. “So what kind of car you drivin’ there?” I stood there staring at my father. “I’m taking the train,” I said. “Car’s not worth it, gotta watch the dough.” He nodded. “Know what you mean.” I was holding that backpack—ready to go—yet he just kept standing there like he was, and it was making me feel uncomfortable. 187 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
“Train doesn’t leave for another hour,” I said, and he got what I meant. We walked side by side. I knew he had something to tell me, maybe even something important, but I also knew how tough this was for him. Just talking was; reality was. “Fortuna won the big game,” he said. “What I hear,” I said, “and in the ninety-fourth minute too—man, did they get lucky.” “Yep, finally moving up a league, after all those years,” my father said. He stopped a moment and tugged on his beard. “Still going to the old stadium?” “Not so much anymore.” “Last time I went was with Worm.” “That Worm,” I said. “Still alive, I take it?” My father laughed, a good honest laugh. “Doing well too.” Worm. The name brought back lots of memories. I’d tried to forget all the names. Worm. Sly Fox. Bakesy. It wasn’t that long ago, but it had just been long enough—for me anyway. “You ever hear from Lilly?” he said. “I haven’t, but then again it’s going on two years.” “Thought you two might still be in touch.” I shook my head. “Haven’t heard from her for a long time. Must have a new guy. It’s better that way, keeps me from thinking about it too much.” My father stopped talking, and so we kept walking side by side, in silence again. Lilly. That was another one of those names. You don’t think about it to the point of believing you’ve forgotten it. But that’s not how it actually works. It’s still lying there under the surface, remaining all calm, and it doesn’t take much to bring it all back—all above the surface. I can’t go blaming myself. That’s not fully true of course, but it makes me feel better thinking about it that way. For us it was wrong place, wrong time. Or better said: I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still half a child, and sucking on a bottle. It never could’ve worked out. The train station came within view. They had this little coffee joint. We automatically headed inside. Instead of standing we found a seat in a corner and looked out the window, at the buses passing, mothers with buggies
smoking, broken cobblestones, a little sunshine. I got us two coffees in paper cups. We took a drink. I looked at the newspaper rack. There it was, in the headlines of the Express: “Fortuna Snatches Victory in Final Seconds.” It left me strangely unmoved. “I’ve met someone,” my father then said. “How do you mean?” He gazed at the rim of his cup. “Just like I said.” I nodded, said nothing. “She’s from Hangelar,” he said and smiled. He’d said this like it was some crucial detail. Hangelar: home of some federal archives, a GSG-9 anti-terror unit, and that crappy airport. I had no idea what he was trying to say. “All the women from there are pretty,” he said and took a drink. “I didn’t know that,” I said. “It’s true,” he said. “I’ve still yet to see a single ugly woman from there.” He paused and stared at me. “More women used to be ugly, which you just don’t see as much anymore, meaning, well, that women are cuter now in general. But the ones from Hangelar? Man, I tell you what.” This sounded weird coming from him, I wasn’t sure why. He then folded his hands, and his body slumped— only slightly, yet plain to see. “So what’s she like?” I asked. He smiled again. “What do you want me to say?” “How should I know?” “The main thing is, she’s young,” he said. “Well, younger than me.” That seemed important to him. I didn’t respond. “Does me good, that woman,” he said, turning his cup one way then the other. “We do a lot of things together.” A bus honked, and we both looked out the window. It was just an elderly man who’d started to cross the street without looking. He’d stopped and was hitting the bus with his cane. We both laughed and, for that one moment, all was well. I didn’t care about the pretty woman from Hangelar—she was only this vague image in my head. Yet there were those other, crystal clear images that would not be going away so easily. He exhaled noisily, and I knew what he was going to ask, and he knew that I knew. “So,” he said and made a rotating gesture with his hand—and the rest was clear. “If I find the time,” I said. For a split second I imagined the scene, me sitting at a table with him and his pretty woman from Hangelar. That way we’re talking, so cautious and beating around the bush the whole time, and how we’re overly nice to one another. But I only imagined it a split second, like I said. “My train’s about to leave,” I then said, and he nodded and asked, “But you’re doing good otherwise?”
The part about the train wasn’t true. I only wanted to get rid of him. This didn’t make me feel bad or guilty—I simply wanted to be alone. “Yeah, doing good.” “You could’ve shown your face once in a while,” he said, “or called even.” I nodded. “That’s true,” I said, “but I really have had lots to do and not much time.” “Everyone’s got lots to do.” He looked past me, and lowered his head. This had stopped being about that pretty woman from Hangelar a while ago. It was about those other things, and it was our silence about them that lent these things such weight. Many of them are still open wounds. Many of them still look nasty, but then you adjust. You live with it. “When you back from Belgium?” I drank the last gulp of my coffee, which had gone cold, and everything pathetic about the situation was there in that last gulp. We always get back at one another, for everything. I still believe that today. “In a few days,” I said. “I’ll get in touch after that.” My father smiled, just for a second, and then he leaned back and said, “’Course you won’t.” He was right: it was years before I saw him again— it just happened to be in a bar, and there he asked me if I could loan him two hundred euros. He was about to get married and was a little low on funds. He wasn’t with the pretty woman from Hangelar anymore, of course. He was already boozed up and telling me about some sweet Pole who was going to treat him so well, but I wasn’t listening very carefully. Back before that, though, I had stepped onto my train, stared out the window and read the names of the stations passing: Troisdorf, Porz-Rhein, Gremberghoven, and it all seemed so shabby, and I too seemed so shabby. Then I thought of my mother, and about what it once meant to have things belong together, and that now the only thing left was silence. And I remembered that one day when I, still in school then, was taking the 66 train to Bonn and these two women got on at Hangelar, more like girls really, only a little older than I, and I was in one of those strangely sentimental moods where everything got so intense, which was why I could have sworn I’d never seen such pretty girls before. I hadn’t thought about that for a long time, about my father and the pretty women from Hangelar, not until now.
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Ed polishes his desk with cleanser that he sprays to strategic sections of the Formica top. Methodically, he rubs away random sticky spots from post-its and potential microbes that co-workers or cleaning staff may have left. He takes a moment to inhale the astringent citrus vapor floating in the air. Lastly, he arranges his mechanical pencils, scans for strays, and straightens the framed photograph of Janine, his beloved wife of 30 years. Someone will work over the weekend. Not him. The satellite mission proposal has been submitted to the publications department. The project was stressful and he looks forward to time off. Dinner at five with Janine in front of the evening news, Channel 9. He puts on his tan trench coat, ties his signature belt knot, and walks out the door. 189 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
His Honda sits centered in space C14 of the aerospace company lot, an expanse of various gray colored vehicles spread like fish frozen in a great northern lake. He unlocks the door and huffs, annoyed as he sees that Janine left a red sweater on the back seat of his car. She uses his vehicle like it’s her closet. He needs to remind her, again: Don’t clutter my space. Really, Janine, don’t. Ed hears a rattling in the car as he exits the parking lot. Not a rattle to signify major car trouble, but a sound impossible to tune out. Pretty soon the recurring noise gnaws at him. Not even his favorite song on the radio masks it. He detours from the city beltway and cruises into a residential neighborhood like an officer on a beat. Modest brick houses line the street. A white dog with a pronounced under bite and haphazard black spots runs the length of a fenced yard, paws bounce against the metal chain link. It barks at Ed’s car. Children’s voices rise and fill the air. He doesn’t focus on their words. Ed places his hand against a different part of the dashboard each time he hears the rattle. He’s practiced, he’s good, he’ll find the source. He’ll stabilize the SOB—the tiny movement causing the problem— and permanently stop that vile clamor. First, he braces his hand against the radio, then the console, but the rattle continues. Idiot car manufacturers, he thinks. Can’t make a car that doesn’t shake apart in a few years. He tests the side panels, the control switches, the vents. Ten minutes later, around the block several times, no culprit. Ed’s stomach growls. He glances at the clock. Janine will be at the stove making dinner. His mouth waters as he thinks about the aroma of her Rosemary Chicken permeating the kitchen. Never mind. Dinner can wait. But he’s a good guy, so he’ll text Janine in a minute to let her know he’s running late. Dependability—his hallmark—why his marriage has lasted. Janine will understand. She always does. What’s he missing? The glove compartment. Ed bends down below the windshield to stretch his short torso to its limit. He gets the thing popped open, flails his fingers inside. He grabs the road maps, throws them on the seat with a jerk of his wrist, then his mileage book, a pen, some paper napkins Janine’s hoarding, the registration. The rattle persists. Ed raises his head. A girl, about nine, with dirty fingernails and unevenly cropped blond hair, stands by the side of the road with a small black cat that struggles
in her arms. The cat breaks free of her hold and darts in front of Ed’s car. He sees it too late to brake, hears a thud under the wheels. “Crap,” he mutters, tempted to keep going. He pulls his vehicle over and gets out. He is aghast as the small cat twists in pain then becomes motionless. The rapid footsteps of the girl and her younger brother patter behind him. “You killed Blackie!” the girl screams at the distorted pile of black fur and innards. “You, you…. dumb idiot!” Her brother, about four, cowers speechless, tears running down his smudged face. “What did you expect,” Ed shoots back, “letting your cat run loose like that! You should know better. Hasn’t anyone told you to keep it indoors?” He looks at his watch. Janine must have dinner on the table by now. He finally texts her that he will be late and puts his phone on vibrate. The kids stare at him vacantly. “Where are your parents?” he asks, eyeing the house where the girl was moments before. Peeling white paint covers the door and windowsills. Bare patches of dirt are visible through the grass. He looks at the children, then at the lifeless cat lying in churned up road gravel. Both kids are crying. “I asked you, where are your parents?” he says, louder. “C’mon, answer me!” “Don’t yell at us like that,” the little girl says. “I’m not yelling!” Ed shouts, then lowers his voice. “I’m simply asking a question.” His phone vibrates in his pocket. No doubt Janine. “My mom’s at work and we don’t have a dad,” the girl says. “Oh.” Ed tightens his lips, tilts his face upward, and shakes his head. His shoulders, tense from proposal work and rattle hunting, drop like anvils under his coat. “Do you have a cardboard box?” Ed says. The girl nods, her shoulders shake with sobs. “Then get it.” As the girl and her brother run across the street to retrieve the box, Ed calls after them, “Get some rags and a shovel, too.” He looks at his phone. Janine has texted: did u forget appointment? Darn. He had. They were scheduled with a couples counselor. They’d tried before when their kids still lived at home, and he’d insisted they stop after a few visits. It cost a bundle, a certified time and FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
money waster. Janine wanted to get in touch with her voice in the relationship. Get in touch. What did that mean? She wanted him to be more sensitive to her feelings. He texts back: no, can u cancel, car emergency. The girl runs back across the street with a slightly crushed shoebox and a shovel. Her brother’s arms are piled high with rags, which he plunks partially on Ed’s feet. “Now turn around, both of you,” Ed says. He pads the shoebox with rags, then reassembles the animal’s broken body into the makeshift casket. He places another rag over the cat so that only its undamaged head is exposed. He manipulates its face with his forefinger to emulate a peaceful sleep. He wipes his hands off on another rag. “Okay, you can look now.” His phone vibrates again. Eerrhhh. Janine has texted: going without u. Ed doesn’t like the sound of that. What was she going to do, talk about him behind his back? He texts back: don’t. He pauses, then texts: pls. The girl puts her arm around her brother. They look at the cat lying in the box. “Now where can we bury it?” Ed says. “Her,” the girl corrects. “Okay, her. Well?” “In the backyard,” the girl replies. Her brother nods. Ed doesn’t like the prospect of trespassing. He glances around, sees that no neighbors are outside, then consumed by urgency to resolve the moment, slinks behind the dilapidated house into the semi-wooded backyard with the children in tow. Ed wrestles with tangles of weeds and rocky soil as he digs the grave. He grimaces when his shirt becomes streaked with dirt and sweat. The grime is already ground into the starched cotton of his button down when he tries to brush it off. When the hole is the right size he places the box in it, and when he is about to throw on dirt, the little girls says, “but we need flowers.” “You’re kidding. Hurry up and get them,” Ed says. He tries to close the cat’s eye as the children collect flowers, but it keeps popping open, like its on a spring, flashing an evil stare. Finally he pulls the cloth over its head and checks his messages. There is one from Janine: leaving now. What did that mean? Leaving now. Leaving him now? Leaving for the counsel191 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
ing appointment now? How many times had he told her to speak precisely? He only knew what she said, not what she meant. Anyway, he told her not to go to counseling, so where was she going? As the children run from dandelion to dandelion in the back yard, Ed paces. The boy struggles to make a bouquet. His sister helps. They place the flowers around Blackie’s body. Ed starts to shovel in dirt. “We need to say something,” the girl says. Her brother nods in agreement. “Say something,” Ed says. “Like what?” she asks. “How am I supposed to know? Maybe something good you remember about her.” “Blackie, you were the best cat that ever lived,” the girl says. “Yes, you were,” whispers the brother. “Yeah, until this big jerk ran over you,” she adds, looking at Ed. The brother nods his head and starts to cry again. Ed wants to yell at him: Now I’m the jerk, am I? Ed shovels dirt over the box and evens the soil. “When does your mom get home?” “She’s working a late shift, so not for a long time,” the girl says. “Well, I’ve got to get out of here. Will you two be okay by yourselves?” The girl nods. “I’m sorry about your cat. I didn’t see it.” The girl nods again. “Where will Blackie go now?” the brother asks. “How would I know?” Ed says. The boy stares at Ed hard with wet eyes, his nose smeared with mucous. Ingratitude, Ed thinks. He tries not to be annoyed. The kid is too young to understand how much effort this mess required. His mother should teach him some appreciation. Where else has he seen that look? Oh, yeah, Janine looks at him like that sometimes. He does so much for her and like these kids, all he gets is ingratitude. Everything he does, he does for her. Then she complains about his impatience and insensitivity. Ed walks to his car. There’s fur and blood stuck to the front tire. He won’t have time to stop at the car wash on the way home. He’ll take it over after dinner and get the mess cleaned off. If there is dinner. What if Janine didn’t fix it?
He starts the engine and heads out. The rattle resumes. He turns the radio up as loud as he can stand, but the noise filters through like a zombie that won’t die. Hunger pangs hit Ed. He calls Janine. Her voicemail answers. He wonders if she’s badmouthing him now, right there in the therapist’s office. Ed carefully navigates his tree-lined driveway. Through the kaleidoscope of autumn leaves, he glimpses Janine’s grapevine wreath on the dark green door of their suburban colonial. He activates the garage opener. The white segmented door rises like a stage curtain and exposes two empty stalls. He steers the Honda into the left stall so that the coat button hanging on the end of a string suspended from the garage ceiling taps the middle of the windshield. Once the car is correctly positioned in its space, he gets out, slams the door, then walks to the mailbox. Ed flips the light switch, plops the mail on the kitchen table, sorts it, and puts Janine’s catalogs on her desk. He opens the electric bill, compares this month’s figure to last month’s, and is satisfied that their energy usage has not increased. The kitchen is quiet and smells like Janine’s sea breeze air freshener. Should he scrape together his own dinner? He’s not sure. Maybe Janine will pick up a rotisserie chicken from the store on the way home like she sometimes does. He pours a glass of pinot noir. He’s not hungry anymore. He straightens the pillows on the couch. Maybe he’ll feed the cat. Ed scans the dim room, his eyes briefly catch the corner where Oscar’s small ceramic bowls nestle together. One for the diminutive pellets the cat loves to crunch with his thin white teeth. The other filled with water the cat laps with his tiny pink tongue. A double take. The bowls are gone. He peers in the dish drainer where Janine might have left them, not there. He looks in the dishwasher, refrigerator, then on the back porch. Nowhere to be found.
He calls the cat. “Oscar, here Oscar, here kitty, kitty.” Fluffy Oscar doesn’t appear. Ed opens the back door and calls him again, this time in a higher pitch. No sign of Oscar. Ed walks into the guest room to check the book shelf where the cat sometimes squeezes himself in among the paperbacks. It’s empty. The books are gone. Odd. Janine’s favorite antique watercolors are no longer hanging on the wall above the mahogany sleigh bed. She must have rearranged. He goes into their bedroom and swings open the closet door. Although this space is off limits to the cat, Oscar often sneaks in risking Ed’s wrath. The cat likes to propel himself in one leap from the carpeting to the shelf above the hanging clothes where he burrows into Janine’s soft piles of cashmere sweaters. But Oscar’s not there and neither are the sweaters. Ed looks down to where Janine stores her clothes. They’ve vanished. It’s cleaner than ever. Her clutter is gone, her shoes, her scarves, her bags of junk. Ed stares at the stark expanse of white wall void of dresses, skirts, blouses, jeans, scarves. No shoe boxes on the shelves. No shoes on the floor. No bras draped slipshod. It’s empty. He stands there with his long jaw dangling off his face. This can’t be true. It’s so neat. Just the way he likes. Apparently she finally heard him. “Oscar,” Ed calls. “Where are you?” Usually Oscar would be underfoot, purring and rubbing against Ed’s legs, weaving back and forth, back and forth, leaving feathery traces of tangerine fur on his freshly dry cleaned suit trousers. Puzzlement etches Ed’s closely shaven face as his involuntary nervous system fires. His stomach launches into his thoracic cavity and turns over like he’s on a roller coaster that is plunging down a steep track. He grabs the closet door frame to steady himself. The house is silent like a morgue until the furnace blower motor switches on with an efficient rumble. “Oscar,” Ed whispers. “Where are you?”
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Book Notes: Local Physician Pens Patient’s Guide A VENDOR-ORIENTATED CHALLENGE TO THE CONSUMER By Patrick Neustatter, M.D.
After 24 years in the trenches, beating my head
against the wall as a primary care doctor in U.S. with something of an outsider perspective, I’m well aware of many of the challenges American healthcare consumers—and their doctors—face. I see the differences between the privately run, free-enterprise, entrepreneurial U.S. system and the single payer, government-run British National Health Service. Incidentally, I am not a refugee from the NHS, as everyone assumes of any British doctor in the U.S. On the contrary, at the risk of being seen as a pinko wingnut, I think nationalized healthcare would be a good thing for America. The fee-for-service payment system (“medicine by the yard,” as the wags call it) provides an incentive to “do everything” and over-treat, in contrast to the NHS, where payment is capitated, incentivizing the
opposite. Yes, people often wait a long time for nonessential treatments like getting varicose veins stripped or a hip replaced, but people aren’t going bankrupt because of medical bills. This current U.S. system seems to have a lot to do with why the country spends twice as much or more per head than other industrialized countries ($8,233 in the U.S., as opposed to $3,433 in the U.K. in 2010, for example). In contrast to the U.K., I see a fairly prevalent attitude in America that healthcare isn’t something that should be a government-sponsored entitlement. For some reason, though, education, defense, roads, law enforcement, parks, and a whole lot of other things are. So healthcare consumers in the U.S. are subject to the caprices of for-profit corporations, which have been able to tilt the playing field to their advantage.
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For example, they’ve persuaded Congress to pass laws like banning import of cheap drugs from overseas (medicines cost Americans about twice as much as people in other industrialized countries; in some, like Canada , there are government checks on drug prices); refusing Medicare the ability to negotiate “economy of scale” drug discounts like the VA does; and allowing direct-to-consumer advertising (New Zealand is the only other country in the world that allows this for pharmaceutical companies). The corporations have also managed to prevent tort reform on malpractice to reduce expensive defensive medicine and to deal a deathblow to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute’s Comparative Effectiveness ranking of “best practices” that was meant to be part of the Affordable Care Act. “The reality [is] that our largest consumer product by far—one-fifth of our economy—does not operate in a free market”, and sellers have “overwhelming leverage,” notes Steven Brill in his great article, “Bitter Pill,” in TIME of May 2013. The for-profit industry in the U.S. protects its market, keeping costs and charges a closely guarded secret, likened to trying to buy a car when no one will tell you the price. Hospitals use a completely capricious and incomprehensible “chargemaster” billing schedule with no basis in what things cost, a discussed in more detail in the chapter Getting the Right Price. Usually, those who feel the brunt of this insane pricing are those who can least afford it, the uninsured and underinsured. This entrepreneurial system has also led to a problem with a mandated innovation, electronic health records, with multiple vendors jealously guarding and promoting their own system rather than sharing, which would greatly benefit patient care. And the innumerable insurance companies with their different policies, regulations, and billing systems make for a wildly inefficient system. Further consumer price discombobulation comes from insane charge discrepancies between hospitals, even closely neighboring ones. For example, in figures recently released for the first time by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, admission for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) cost $7,044 in one hospital and a cool $99,690 at another, less than 30 miles away. Hospitals and medical practices are increasingly being bought up by corporations and turned into widget factories where the bottom line is the primary concern, and overall, healthcare generates huge profits. Hospitals do business worth $2.5 trillion annually. Forbes reports four of the country’s ten most profitable industries are healthcare related. Financial information company Sageworks reports an industry-wide profitability of 14.1 percent. The international research company McKinsey & Co. reports outpatient emergency room care averages an operating profit margin of 15 percent and Doctors, unless they are also investors (and a lot are), do not share 195 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
in this bounty. Their annual incomes have dropped in recent periods, with primary care doctors like Pediatricians and Family Physicians earning an average of about $150,000. Those profitable healthcare-related industries include things like medical device manufacturing and pathology labs. But, though a bit past its zenith, the pharmaceutical industry takes the cake with its profits at 16.3 percent, according to Kaiser Health News, about double that of the average corporation. This all adds to the skyrocketing cost of healthcare that currently consumes 17.6 percent of the U.S. GDP, with the prediction to rise to 25 percent by 2025 (as compared to the average for OECD countries of 9.5 percent), driving up health insurance premiums. Many people are oblivious to the costs, though, thanks to the “price doesn’t matter, the insurance is paying” attitude. Currently, movements toward different ways of paying— by capitation or results rather than per service, for example—are catching on, but they have a long way to go. The ability of this prosperous industry to arrange things to their advantage comes from access to large quantities of that highly influential commodity: money. It’s no coincidence that an industry with “overwhelming leverage” spends copious sums on lobbying. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that since 1998, all the various combined healthcare industries have spent $5.36 billion lobbying Washington. Compare that to the paltry $1.53 billion spent by defense and aerospace and $1.3 billion spent by oil and gas interests—two industries that quickly come to mind as major lobbyists. On a personal note, working in a fee-for-service world meant I had novel challenges like wondering how much is a reasonable charge for writing a prescription, listening to a heart, syringing out ear wax, and listening to complaints (though there are set charges for specific CPT codes, as explained later in Getting the Right Price). In the U.K., on the other hand, doctors never have to sully their hands with money. They just get a salary or capitation per patient, regardless of what they do for each person. The significance of this litany of ways the industry buys influence is that your best recourse is to become medically emancipated. But that goes beyond just overseeing your direct medical care. To better help yourself, become politically active. Persuade your Congressional representatives that your displeasure is more of a threat to their political careers than the industry contributions are a help. Unfortunately, that poses a bit of a challenge.
Learn more or order the book at: managingyourdoctor.com
Scent No. 4: ck one Walker Raigh
Vibrant androgyny spritzed across the fibers of unwashed flannel and spongy A-cup push-up bras. This is an identity crisis, damnit. Calvin understands. “Unisex” may be a bullshit term but we bathed in its undertones of liberty. A ghetto-inspired puffy silver winter coat was meant to match the silver Doc Martens I could never afford. Between Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, and the mixed populus of a middle school this jacket was more than a step in the right direction — it was my declaration. Every school day began with a metallic checklist: glitter eyeliner, mercury lipstick that revolted mothers everywhere, and gun metal nail polish. Listening to Stupid Girl on repeat I thought, “If I had a band I would call it Silver Toe.” The album cover was to be a glorious big toe, freshly cut from the rest of the foot, with painted skin and toenail glistening like aluminum on a bed of green and blue. We skated on the frosted glass of the local ice rink and gathered among the brushed nickel bleachers. Tired of making out at the movie theater, we traversed to colder climates. With video games waging war, the parents were happy to see we wanted to do something physical after school. Little did they know we were exploring all that stood below the fog of our bated breath. It was trying out for cheerleading and failing. It was playing man hunt behind the condos over by the Ramada. It was older boys down at the pool. It was travelling across town on a bike just to see her. It was trying pizza with mushrooms on top for the first time. It was Binaca breath spray and vanilla mint breath savers. It was kissing practice. Slurried with spit we trained like militants, tirelessly trying again and again, it was… just… right there…
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
My Name is Daniel David Weinberger
He rides the U-Bahn from the start in Pankow to somewhere past Postamer Platz, maybe even to the last stop at Ruhleben. Sometimes he gets off earlier. I get on at Pankow, the beginning, at the same time as him. He is always alone and always talking. He carries two overflowing canvas bags which he sets on the seat next to him. As he talks to himself, it seems that he is staring at his bags, but as I later learn he notices a great deal. Normally, I exit at Potsdamer Platz, but on this Wednesday I had a day off. I sat next to his bags, listened closely to what he was saying, and planned to ride the U2 as long as he did. What follows is a journey across Berlin with his monologue, as best as I could understand it. Early morning. I got my favorite corner seat on the U2. I usually take the corner seat and one more. That way I can spread out a bit. Cross one leg over my other leg and get a bit comfortable for the U-Bahn ride. I can get the corner seat because I get on at the start of the line in Pankow, where I usually sleep. Very few other riders get on at the stop. Nearly empty train at that point. Ride it to the end at Ruhleben. Or I get out before. Times the train gets too crowded I get out. Common for that to happen in Berlin. Lots of train riders. My name is Daniel. Nobody calls me that though. They call me crazy. Or lunatic. Or nothing at all. I just sit and talk. I’m not crazy. I talk quietly to myself to keep me company. I think everyone else hears mumbling. A group of young men get on board at Eberswalder. They all have long black beards. Youngsters like long beards these days. Not like me. I don’t shave because it is too much effort. They intentionally grow it long. Looks like Taliban to me. I know they’re not, but still. I don’t think I look like Taliban. I look like a crazy man because my beard is getting long and scraggly. But I’m not gonna shave it. Too much effort. Just have to watch out for lice. They crawl in your hair. Lay their eggs. Nothing to do about it. Life on the streets. Nothing in my beard though. Couple just got on with a dog. They’ve been out in the rain. They smell damp and the dog has that wet dog, rotten earthy smell. They sit near me. Couple seats down. I think they can hear me but they don’t look at me. Ignore me. They don’t know my name is Daniel. I once had a dog. Named Clemens. Irish setter I think. But it was yellow. Could it have been an Irish Setter if it was yellow? I don’t know. Cloudy memory in my head. But the dog was good. Obedient and friendly. Liked to have its belly rubbed. This wet dog here looks friendly. Bet it likes its belly rubbed. I wouldn’t do it though. That damp grainy fur. Doesn’t feel good. Even though it looks like a good dog. Like Clemens was. Too many dogs in Berlin. Shit all over and no one cleans up. I hate stepping in it. Soils my shoes and I have a hard time cleaning them. Sometimes I want to lay my blanket down behind some bushes but there’s too much dog shit. I get frustrated. This wet couple with the dog have little blue bags on the leash. Tells me they pick up after their dog. Good for them. Wish more were like them. Four stops now. More people on the train. Difficult to hear my own voice. But I still can even though I don’t shout like some other crazy people do. It’s almost at a whisper. I like it that way. I will leave when I can’t hear it anymore. It’s all I have, hearing my voice. I don’t like hearing the crazies yell. Makes no sense and hurts my head. They should be in a hospital or something. Not on the street. Not riding my trains. My name is Daniel. This is my corner seat traveling through Berlin in the U2. End of the line is my goal. Where’s everyone else going? They don’t tell me but still I wonder. I’m just going to another stop. Until the end of the line. But I have to get some food. Didn’t eat this morning before I got on the train. Maybe I can get some lunch. If I can find something. Six people sit across from me. I see them out of the 197 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
corners of my eyes. They all have their faces in their phones. Those things are not just for calls anymore. I don’t know what they do with them though. Staring at them all the time. Sometimes their fingers move rapidly on the screens. Fingers shudder like they have Parkinson’s disease. Lots if iPhones. I can tell by the apple on the back. I’d like to make a call. But who would I call? My childhood buddy Martin. Hello Martin. This is Daniel. What’s up? Nothing here. Just riding the U2. How’s your mom and dad? Oh, they died? Sorry, it’s been a while. They were always so nice to me. Feeding me lunch because my parents never did. Those were good sandwiches. Remember when they drove us to the lake? They let us swim all day. They were nice folks. Well, good talking to you Martin. Talk again soon. Bye. That’s how it would go. Then call another. But I still don’t get the finger dancing on the phones. Can’t imagine what they are doing. Another stop. People off, more on. People come and go. All in their own worlds. They don’t listen to me. Just ignore me. There’s a man like me by the doors. ‘Cept he’s drinking a beer. Not supposed to drink on the trains but lots of folks do it. He looks like he doesn’t need that beer. Can hardly stand up. Probably already had a few. I don’t drink. Can’t afford it and it’s not good for me. Used to drink. Always got in trouble. One time got in a fight in a bar. Got the shit beat out of me because I was talking to some guy’s girl. He told me to stop, leave her alone, but I didn’t listen. Then I touched her arm. He dragged me outside and beat the shit out of me. I was plastered. I laughed the whole time even though it hurt like hell. Woke up in the morning in the street. Bloody and hung over. Haven’t had a drink since. Still smells good to me though. Music at the other end of the train car. Saxophone and electric piano, sounds like. I can’t see them, only hear them. Boring music. Wait, is it boring? Not really. Sounds a bit like jazz. Jazz that I know. Ellington? I decide it’s not too boring. I like it. They play a bit then stop and ask for money. They don’t ask me cause I’m too busy talking. They stopped playing but music is coming out of a boom box. They supplement the basic music with their instruments. I think that’s cheating. But you can’t bring a whole band on the U2. We finally stop at Potsdamer Platz. Always a big stop. Waves of people off and on. We wait for what seems like minutes. I know it’s not. If I keep talking the time will pass. But the crowds get deeper. Reminds me of when I lived in New York. Trains always busy. Body to body. Everyone touching. It made me feel unhealthy. But Berlin can get that way too. Rush hour the trains are just like they are in New York. Extremely full like in a small elevator with twenty people. No way out until the next stop. That’s why I like the corner seat. Crowds might push on my legs and shoulders but that’s all. They leave the rest of me alone. The man next to me usually gets out at Potsdamer Platz. Not today. He just sits there staring out the window. Wonder why he didn’t get out. Must have other plans today. Hope he doesn’t talk to me. Not much chance of that happening though. That rustling I hear. Sounds like reading a paper. But I don’t look up to see. I stare at my bag and hear the rustling. Lots of papers in Berlin. Some about the city, some about the world. I used to read the papers but not anymore. They say the worst things. So much going on it frightens me. I survive in Berlin. Anywhere else, I don’t know. Maybe I wouldn’t make it. Maybe I couldn’t survive. But someone on this train is reading a paper. Discovering the next calamity. Perhaps reading about a train wreck somewhere. A place somewhere else I hope. I have to get off this train soon. Too many people. Too much pushing and shoving. Too much noise and distraction. I can’t think. I can’t hear myself. Why are they so loud? They bother me so. But we arrive at the next station and many leave the train. Not so many enter. Quieter now. I can stay another station or two. Don’t have to leave just yet. Where do I want this train to take me? It never drops me where I want to be. Always another place which holds no meaning to me. Another empty space. Not empty of people of course. Empty of meaning. Of significance. Any place on the map. A symbolic colored dot on a map signifying a place with a name. A place with no meaning. So where to go? I could go back. Back in time to when I was married. Could this train take me there? To Janice? To her smell and FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
her feel? She loved me I know. She took care of me. I met Janice in a bar of course. We were drinking gin and tonics. Or just gin. I can’t remember. But her presence made me forget myself. I bought her several drinks. We went home together. Janice and Daniel. Stayed together for years. How many years I can’t remember. She looked like the young lady leaning on the doors over there. Blond hair, smooth glowing skin. That all changed. I messed it up with my drinking. One day, no more Janice. No surprise. I have nothing to offer. Didn’t then, don’t now. The train keeps moving. Rattling through the underworld of this city. It’s where I feel the best. I don’t like it outside. Above or below the trains. Don’t like the light. The pressure of the air and the rain pulsing on me. Expecting of me. I need the rattle of the train. The endless bumps and violent shudders of curves. I need to feel tossed about by a train, not by crowds of people. That’s the feeling I like. The feeling I need. The constant pulsating that keeps track with my voice. The dog people finally leave and with them the memory of Clemens. It’s like I need a presence to remind me of my past. Like a ghost standing in for my past. But where do they all go? They get off the train, these ghosts, and travel away from me. I forget as soon as they are gone. Not like a ghost that haunts endlessly. A ghost who teases. Chases my thoughts and memories and then abruptly disappears along with my thoughts and memories. So long nice smelly dog. So long Clemens. Does anyone smell what I smell? A dank, musty smell. Is it me? Someone near me? It’s putrid. It can’t be me. My neighbor, perhaps. Maybe the one who replaced the dog people. Hope he leaves soon. I once had a neighbor who always made goulash. Beef goulash, chicken goulash, mushroom goulash. But always the same smell. The smell of garlic and paprika filled the floor. Sometimes it made me gag but sometimes it made me so hungry. He never shared the food, only the smell. It’s like now, someone is sharing their smell. But I guess that’s normal on trains. Even the trains have distinct smells. Each one a bit different, yet somehow the same. The U2 smells sweaty and aromatic. Not like the bad smell I am smelling. More like a homey smell. Like walking into your apartment after a week or two of travel. Empty except for the smell of closed spaces. I like that smell. Of course, I haven’t lived in an apartment for years now. I don’t like the smell I’m smelling now. But it could be me so I don’t complain. I wouldn’t complain anyway. I’ve not showered for weeks. Only washes in bathrooms. I try to stay clean but maybe I missed something. Something lingering. Hanging on to me regardless. I can’t understand the damn announcements. Not because they are in German, but because my ears don’t work so good. Never did. I always saw my parents’ lips moving but could barely hear a word they were saying. It was like a silent film. And then they hit me. When they were near me, I could hear them say they hit me because I don’t listen. But I listen. They didn’t understand. So, they spoke wordlessly and they hit violently. Didn’t change a thing. Still didn’t hear them. Any stop could be my stop. I don’t decide. The stop calls to me. Or the train is too crowded. Or I don’t like someone sharing the train. Lots of reasons for getting off a train. I have no reason to right now. Perhaps I’ll ride it to the end. And back again. Perhaps the next stop. Next stop is Zoologischer Garten. Always a big stop with lots of people coming and going. Ignoring me. No one knows my name is Daniel. I could get off here and have a meal at the soup kitchen. Always crowded but good warm food. Maybe I’ll wait. But the doors close so it’s too late. Don’t have to decide. The train rumbles on. Not many stops until the end of the line. Then I will need to exit or ride back. Get off at Zoologischer Garten to eat. Then back on to Pankow. A morning of riding. Train empties a bit more at each stop. Soon I will be the only one. The only one to hear my talking. Talking to Daniel. No one talks to me. I do. He exits as he said at Zoologischer Garten and I ride the U2 back to Pankow. Who knows, maybe I’ll talk to Daniel someday. Or maybe I’ll just listen. Perhaps one day I will say, “Good morning, Daniel.”
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
A Mud Wasp Dances at My Door Step (The sting came later)
A mud wasp dances at my doorstep. Ducking, diving, working on. He is not bothered by me, nor I, by him. I find him fascinating and come to envy him… and his purpose. If only I had such purpose, maybe then everything would be OK. He disappears into his hole and before I realize it I am again in that ditch, in that desert, sirens wailing, pounding boots scraping, sucking rubber. Again. I manage to escape just barely. Another close one, but I hang on. In a blink, and a shake of my head I’m back in my bed. But, I know… A mud wasp dances at my door step.
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Red Square Thea Verdak
I was back at that hotel and the interpreter said stick together, but we had been glued too long. I decided I could handle the upstairs club. It was rocking. A big man guarded the door. I showed him my paperwork. He looked as blank as if he had seen everything he needed to in the entire, big, dirty world. He opened the door and the smell of alcohol hit my nostrils and the smoke violated my eyeballs. I saw what I thought was a woman lip syncing a Western song on a round stage. Men sat at tables covered in glasses and bottles. Women with painted faces were laughing with the men at the tables. The noise penetrated my ear drums. Everyone seemed to shout to be heard. I suddenly felt like a nun and turned away and the big manâ€™s laughter followed me down the hall. I went downstairs, trying not to run and the Babushka was already sitting outside my hotel door, guarding it. I smiled. She unlocked the door for me trying not to look inside the room. I went in and came out with bottles of travel shampoo, rinse, and Western magazines. Her eyes lit up. She stroked my shiny hair. I took a chair outside and sat with her because she wasnâ€™t allowed inside. I poured sparkling water into a glass for her. She giggled and drank the water as if she had just come out of a desert. I read to her from a travel magazine. She kept smiling and clasping her hands together as I read. I looked up at her round, wrinkled face with blueberry eyes and wanted her to know she was someone I would remember.
“…between the fabric” It concluded with a rotary resonance bouncing from Oak to Oak. The black expanse swallowed the billion pin spots between, and we theorized about the preceding events… Magnificent blues had stretched across that black vastness; like sapphires mined from the sky, all in an instance. Three children mesmerized. It slowly crept and connived down the pavement; the faults in the masonry emphasized. Even the Oak’s denied association, their great limbs swaying “No”. A sole street lamp shined a separate hue, golden waves contrasting the blue. The silence consumed us. Mother Earth briefly inhaling, then back out again. * A fire burns low begging to be stoked. Gasoline fumes linger, waiting to be commanded. The congregation patiently waits… They watch the drone at work; back and forth, back and forth. Moistened blades of grass, slowly evaporate. The prophetic Styrofoam cup, slowly disintegrates. Disappearing from my hand, I turn back again. The darkness succeeded and laid her matured cheek against the stone We all fell patron to her womb ~ RPMuha
Death of Robert E Lee The two children spot the branch overhead and there is the coffin. They are afraid to touch it, they hold their sticks ready. Robert E Lee is dead and the Maury River is flooded. There will be no dancing today. and Ulysses, Ulysses will die many years from now with an honor guard and thirty days of mourning. Sherman and Sheridan will be pallbearers & a procession in the streets of New York city but this is Lexington and General Lee is dead and the coffin is too short, he is buried without shoes ~ Melanie Browne
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Anthony Silver Illustrator / Portrait Artist
Local artist Anthony Silver says it’s all in the eyes. They are the seat of the personality, the soul. With a tweak of a line and the eyes as his starting point, Silver captures something slightly more alive in his portraiture, a quality that frequently draws patrons to his deft application of pencil to paper. Silver is no stranger to creative talent. He’s been playing guitar in church since the age of nine, a skill he continues to share with his faith community and with the public. Silver says that he feels blessed to have an ear for music, one that allows him to learn songs quickly and share them with people. While music was his first creative passion, Silver says he also had a desire to draw and illustrate throughout his youth. He pursued the technical study
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in 2009 and developed an interest in portraiture work. He says, “Once I got the hang of it, I was really excited and I kept drawing portraits. We were only supposed to do three or four drawings for the entire semester, and I ended up doing sixteen.” Silver finished his studies at the University of Mary Washington with a fine arts degree. Like most working artists, Silver promotes his work in a variety of ways. He showcases his talents with images of favorite celebrities, he records himself for a Tuesday video blog showing his technique to the public, and he hosts “sip and paints” with non-alcoholic refreshments to share his joy of freedom of expression with his clients. He says, "A lot of people want to get involved with art, but they don’t know how. These events are a good way for people to feel involved and test the waters. Many of them are extremely nervous because they’ve never painted before, but the pieces will come out really well because I actually do a sketch for each one. You have to start with a solid beginning. People will add their own colors and take on the image. Even if they never try it again, it gives people a sense of what goes into making a piece of art. I think people come away with a little more appreciation of what artists put into their art.” Silver was inspired and mentored locally by Johnny P. Johnson and Joseph DiBella, two artists Silver says he greatly admires and respects. He is also influenced by the work of artist Eddie Barnes, best known for his signature bold style and elongated figures. Silver has plans to work with the style as he develops art based on Bible stories with a fresh perspective. Since his faith influences his life in all areas, Silver sees no distinction between his artistic talents and his beliefs. Every element of his art life is a reflection of his faith. He appreciates them as gifts from God. Silver’s practice includes prayer and meditation, especially focused on Bible scripture. He says, “I definitely carve out time to tune in and listen for Him, and sometimes it’s almost as if I
can hear my subjects praying with me or singing a song, especially if they are deceased. I do a lot of praying before and during drawing, because I feel like a lot of what I do is being led by God, so I’m acting as his instrument. Sometimes, I’ll be doing a drawing and I won’t really like it, but the person who gets it is completely blown away at what I do with the pencil. It’s not me; it’s because of my prayers.” Silver continues, “When my mom passed away a few years ago, I did a drawing of her. It was as if she was still here as I worked on that portrait. I captured her smile as I remembered, and what I remember most were her eyes. It was very rewarding and made me really joyful. I keep that one at the studio with me. She really pushed me to draw, and I respect that. That portrait is kind of like having her with me again.” With is deep appreciation of his talents, Silver keeps a steady schedule to continually develop his gifts. He works on commissions and projects from 9 a.m. to noon, then goes to his daytime job. When he gets off around 7 p.m., he takes a quick break and is back in the studio from 9 p.m. to midnight. The intensity of his practice and the emotional drain from tapping into a spiritual reservoir can be exhausting. Silver says, “I try to put in about 6 hours a day, but there are times when I will go two or three weeks without being able to draw. There’s just nothing there.” To recharge after intense work session, Silver says he reads scripture and plays music. He also sets down the pencils and turns to paints or sews for a change of pace. He says, “I’ll make pillows or aprons, something like that, and then go back to drawing.” Silver muses about opening a museum gallery in the future, perhaps somewhere between Fredericksburg and North Carolina where his extended family lives. For now, he says, “I’m still on the path and going in the same direction I wanted to be on. I also wouldn’t be on this path without my family. They supported me throughout this journey. God has given me many gifts, and I try to use them for the good of my community.”
The Beachcomber Brady Huggett
Molly and I had our honeymoon in Bockwell. Same town as my parents, even the same motel: the Beachcomber. I think I was trying to conjure my father back into my life. I wasn’t sure what it meant to be a husband, what it might take to be a dad, and because my father was good at both for the decade I had him with me, I maybe wanted to retrace his steps. The beaches there are busy in the summer, people coming up from Detroit, over from Ann Arbor where the university is, down from the Upper Peninsula. We’d waited until September because we got a lower nightly rate, and we’d hoped the crowds would be gone, but the day was bright and warm, and when we got over the bridge and into the tiny town we could see the beaches were full. We checked into the motel and then went across the road, passing a shirtless teenager in jeans pissing behind a dune, then we were stepping around the spread-out blankets of families, the kids burying one another in the sand and running for the surf, my boyhood ache for a sibling suddenly alive and panging in my stomach. We found a place next to a patch of beach grass, farther from the water than we would have liked, but once we were on our towels it was fine. There are only a few places to eat in that town, and when we drove to Julie’s Bistro I couldn’t get us a table, so we continued down to Fishhouse and got a to-go order of fried whitefish with rolls and a basket of fries and two Cokes but no beer because I had given it up, and we locked the car and walked with our food out onto the sand, closer to the waterline this time since the beach was emptying out. We balanced our food on our knees, the Coke bottles twisted into the sand at our sides and watched the sky change colors. The sunsets on the Great Lakes are among the best you’ll find in the world, and I say that not because I’ve been all over, but because I can’t see how they can get any better. We ate with no hurry, the sun sinking lower across that great expanse of water, big enough to be an ocean.
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There was no wind at all. Beyond the gentle swells at the shoreline it was flat as glass, and the sun became a glowing orange ball hanging just above, its reflection iridescent and stretched out on the surface. The lower it fell, the more those dying rays flattened, until they came searing straight over the water at us, the fading light dousing Molly, like the sun was in search of something, like sheâ€™d been found. I reached and took her hand, the two of us sitting in the warm sand, my lips greasy from the fish and shiny, her face in profile, the sunset deepening to red and glinting off the stud she wears high in her right ear. The last of the day slipped away around us. And when the sun was finally down, I turned and said something like, Well, my wife, letâ€™s go, and she said, If my husband will help me up, and I did and we gathered our wrappings and our bottles and carried them to the barrel at the edge of the lot. We drove the short trip back to the Beachcomber, passing in the growing dusk the small Catholic church with its lone white steeple and the general store and a handful of houses with their lights just coming up. Inside our motel room, to get rid of the sand and sunscreen we took a shower together in the narrow motel tub, and then we went to our bed and pulled back the stiff sheets and made love on that hard mattress as newlyweds do, with that communal desire, that shared greediness. When we were done, when it was utterly black outside and she had drifted into sleep, I was left with my memories, all those nights wasted in bars, the sorrowful regret of fistfighting and the loneliness of my childhood. The funeral, my father in his casket. These images spun in my head to the soft soundtrack of her breathing, and sliding in the window was the quiet shushing of the water way out there, and I thought, I have overcome everything.
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Great Peace Maker - It Buries the Hatchet Over All Old Pipe Grouches Patrick Connelly
How the crowd of neighborhood boys huddled by the telephone in the kitchen with the yellow pages opened, a finger pressed into a hole of the rotary dial. With each number a clockwise zip to the curved silver finger-stop is answered by a clickity counter-clockwise refrain. To every action a reaction. How the hushed voices burst out in laughter when the druggist affirmed that he carried Prince Albert in a can, and likewise the widow who ritually turned off the porch light on Halloween with her quizzical “yes” in response to a voice inquiring “is your refrigerator running?” How the power of anonymity ensured freedom from retaliation – no caller ID – in the low stakes rebellion against adults who hold the power at that age. Shouldn’t it come as a consolation: the knowledge that passes down from one generation to the next, from one culture to another, traditions, the delight in the discovery of puns and the power of words in pranks? Certainly worth the momentary humiliation accompanying the eruption of cackling from the receiver, any reaction of bother and desire to lash out silenced with the click of the handset.
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
And what if Chief Joseph who with a full headdress of feathers adorned the tin Prince Albert tobacco ad sign alongside the slogan 'Great Peace Maker – It Buries the Hatchet Over All Old Pipe Grouches’ sat crosslegged on the carpet in a study with Prince Albert and RJ Reynolds, upright in their leather chairs? Would the prince exercise restraint over differences of opinion: Edwardian, New and Native American: sacred embraces of the steam engine, rolled cigarette tobacco, earth and sky? Could he hold back when shocked by another’s beliefs, allow time for learning and understanding? Or must there be a reaction bombastic retorts, tweets and posts, graffiti on gravestones, filibusters and sanctions, executive orders and airstrikes? Might they take time to laugh today and share tales of pranks a king, an Indian chief, an industrial titan around a fire in a teepee with their cell phones cast aside passing a ceremonial pipe filled with fine American marijuana trying it for the first time coaxing each other to hold it in, cackling, snorting, coughing, slapping their knees loosening their ties or deerskin shirt strings in no urgent danger of suffocating, momentarily safe from each other’s retaliations like boys, like free men?
Alchemy I look through a crocheted blanket towards the ceiling light and see blurry, knitted stars. The cogs in my chest turn, crushing bright solder. My body stone wears away and rebuilds, leaving metallic dust, like iridescent butterfly scales in the corner of an antique shop in Phoebus, on the shelves of thrift shops in Waitsfield and Williamsburg. As I browse, I disperse myself, in the comfort of soft black leather boots. I hold books with cloth covers. I peruse collections of spoons, Pez dispensers, records, and VHS tapes, touch a cracked set of unused watercolors, a rusty anchor, and leave a fingerprint on a pale green felt hat. The characters from old musicals and from Butch Cassidy know me. ~ Julia A. Travers
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
For Emma's Sake Michael Costa Well here we are, the only two customers in the place, and on a Friday night,which should be their busiest night. It seems odd to me. It does make me a little uneasy to be sitting on display in front of a big window where the whole town can see us as they walk by on their way to someplace better, like we’re the only two puppies left that nobody wanted. My seat feels a little sticky in a funny way, like the years of dripping soy sauce is slowly dissolving the orange leatherette. Maybe we should just leave now, before we get chemically bonded. We can’t do that, it would create a scene. Besides, the food doesn’t seem bad. What do you think of it? It’s Chinese, what can you say about it? It’s OK. Did you see any reviews? Let me check on the phone, it’s somewhere in my purse. Let’s see...if I point it in the right direction I can usually get a signal…. which way is the river? Well you can’t trust web sites anyway if you think about it. They are probably back there in the kitchen right now, googling and yelping themselves like crazy to pump up their online reputation. Don’t interrupt, hold on I think I am getting a signal. Or it could be just the opposite, some disgruntled former employee, filling up the web with lies about hepatitis and deep fried mice. Probably some twenty-something Anglo kid fired for slacking off - you know how hard these people work. Like 16 hours a day, every day, since they don’t celebrate Christmas, and the rest of the time they are probably dreaming of chopping onions, their hands moving in their sleep like the paws of drowsing cats always on the hunt. How could an American hope to keep up? Well they are Americans too, but you know what I mean. You’re right - there is something here about roaches and mouse droppings in the food. The way you flipped that display at me you’d think you just hit an inside straight at the high stakes table. I believe you. But you know, looking down at my plate everything’s so diced up and mixed together it’s hard to tell for sure - it’s a subtle cuisine. You know when the driver was let go, he pretended not to care. That’s the thing with young people his age today. They set up this wall of apparent indifference because actually they are very fragile. Who’s this “driver”?
FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
The disgruntled employee, stay with me now…. he couldn’t work in the kitchen because, of course, he never learned how to cook . Except for pancakes on Mother’s Day, which came out OK, but you needed a power washer afterward to clean the kitchen. He probably enjoyed the freedom and independence of sitting alone in his car unsupervised while waiting for the light to change. Well, was he overprotected or underprotected? Either or both. What’s his name by the way? I don’t know, anything but “Justin”. The firing really left him in a spot too, because he was counting on the money to finish his piercing. What do you mean finish?- you think they go just half way, then wait for the rest of the payment to push through to the other side? Well to finish his tattoo job then. It says “Mo”, waiting for the last “M” - or maybe he’s got just the top half of the hula dancer. Were you raised during World War II? Have you actually looked at any tattoos lately? They don’t say “Mom” anymore. The last hula dancers are probably withering away in the beds of Veterans Administration homes. Well then, what do tattoos say now? I’m not sure, a lot of them just look blurry to me. I think some of them are actually Chinese symbols. Well that would be ironic. I don’t think that’s the technical definition of irony, you know. Would it be ironic if we walked out of here and found that our disgruntled delivery driver had slashed the tires of all the cars parked on this side of the block? No… I don’t think that meets the technical definition either. Besides, he wouldn’t slash the tires even if he were disgruntled. He enjoys an occasional joint between runs, and marijuana makes you peaceful and placid. I think it’s cocaine or maybe crystal meth that makes you angry. Or maybe it’s PCP- what does that do, PCP? I haven’t a clue. Well in any case, the most he would do is let the air out of the tires. He’d probably even screw the caps back on so they wouldn’t get lost- after all , he’s not a psychopath.
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I don’t think those caps do anything anyway. I don’t know why I even crawl on my hands and knees searching for them every time. Even if he screwed the caps back on all the tires, the event would still be enough to make the county people terrified to come downtown again. I mean the story would be in the paper….”Flat Tires On Caroline Street”- probably make the front page of the regional section, if it were an odd numbered day. What do you mean? You haven’t noticed? On even days they lead with something uplifting, you know, someone who remains in good spirits while fighting cancer, or a dog that gets found after going missing for years. They probably realized that if they printed too much bad news every day, people would eventually stop reading and just stay in bed under the covers. At most they would do the crossword and glance at Beetle Bailey. That one always seemed pretty violent and pretty sexist to me. Well it’s from another time- we can’t judge by today’s standards. Even George Washington owned slaves. I agree though, that the discovery of the flat tires might be the tipping point… the straw that broke the camel’s back. The camel being the economy of our beleaguered downtown, of course. People from the county are already apprehensive about coming into town, especially in the evenings. They’re frightened by the sight of the homeless and by parallel parking- the homeless, out of the recognition that they are people who seem to have nothing left to lose, and parallel parking, well, for obvious reasons. Our city’s aspirations to reclaim its past glory would be thwarted, and it would recede back to its more recent past shambles, which would be more peaceful in a way. Hundreds, perhaps dozens, would be even more underemployed than they are now. There would be a lot of half finished tattoos. Our delivery driver then would be the brutal butterfly whose flapping wing caused the hurricane that destroyed the world. I didn’t think that he was that bad a guy. He’s not - especially when you consider the immediate reason he was fired. It wasn’t for marijuana? No, it was for texting on the job - more specifically, for texting too slowly. Well if Chinese food doesn’t arrive quickly, it does become just a clump of goo, a specimen in a cheap paper box, awaiting laboratory analysis. 211 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
In his defense, he was just texting Emma, his girlfriend. You mean, “Dear Emma, please buy syrup and Bisquick. Would like to make pancakes in the morning,. #notJustin” ? No, something more serious - but it’s hard for a young man his age to find the right words, especially for a young man who is a little dyslexic You can swim an ocean or climb a mountain, but what better testament to true love is there, than to sit hunched over a tiny keyboard struggling to express yourself with only two big, ungainly thumbs? I can see him now with his eyes squinched up in concentration, tongue unconsciously protruding from the corner of the mouth in the effort, like that famous basketball player. You mean Michael Jordan. Yes, Michael Jordan exactly - don’t you think it’s a little romantic? Well at least he wasn’t sending her pictures of his genitalia, I suppose that there is something redeemable about him after all. After the discovery of the flat tires and the ensuing economic collapse, he would even confess to his crime publicly in a letter to the editor in the local paper. I guess that would appear on an even number day. It might be enough to calm fears of a downtown crime wave. He would promise never to do it again...His girlfriend would help him write it. He might even get rehired by his old boss. That’s not beyond belief - no ethnicity has a monopoly on mercy - though there doesn’t seem to be too much effort being made to corner the market. When not doing deliveries, he walks up and down the block with a gauge and a pump, actually checking to make sure all the tire pressures are correct and inflating the ones that are a little low. The first step in the long process of reclaiming his good name. I hope it works out - if only for Emma’s sake. Still, I l don’t see a life of wealth and ease in the cards for them. You’d think that she could have done better. Well she wouldn’t be the first girl to cast her lot with a partner of questionable prospects that did just fine. I’ve learned from experience it’s better to be lucky than wise. That in itself sounds pretty wise. You know you would have been pretty good at raising a kid. And don’t you underestimate yourself. Now swirl your hand in the air and pretend that you’re writing. I’m ready to leave. I guess it is my turn. “Check Please.”
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The River That Owns Me
“Jesus Christ, kid,” he said, as he shook me by the shoulders, “I want to see your face above the pool or you’re gunna bloody drown.” I smiled at my housemate’s fat, bald head, thinking how much he looked like the Addams Family’s Uncle Fester. It was summer in St Lucia, and we were all smashed. But I knew I wouldn’t drown. Not here. Not now. I hang suspended in the deep of the ocean, at peace in the stillness. Far below me shadows stir and coalesce. A sleek creature of monumental size rises from the depths, surging upwards to me. I was five when I watched a porpoise rocket to the surface of the Southern Ocean next to the small boat I was in with my father. The graceful breech and splash sent a surge of water at us that rocked the boat sideways. On a calm day the coastal waters of South Australia were clear for metres - right to the ocean floor. We could see when large, blue crabs swam to our baited nets, and we frantically pulled up the rope before they could swim away. Life below the surface seemed idyllic, and the ocean was a gracious mother. My family moved to the Darling Downs in Queensland when I was eight. I spent years wishing to return to the sea.
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“You kids are too small for this,” the older children said, gesturing to the wide, shallow lagoon, half a country away from the Southern Ocean. They treated the algae-covered rapids that linked the lagoon to the river as a private waterslide. No queues, no tickets, no crowds. I was nine, and scowled at their tone. The ever-present river linked my new world. It snaked across the landscape, flexing its coils over millennia, shedding loops and stretches of waterway like cast-off skins. The dead-end lagoons branched, creating a hydra-headed serpent that was dirty, brown and mean. I wished it were blue. An angry blue like the ocean on an overcast day, or clear and pristine like the streams in the mountains of the Flinders. To me, Queensland was home to sweat, eternal flatness, and dirty water. The ocean is more kin to our body than the earth. The water loves and nurtures. Feel it hold you and stroke you. Let it whisper in your ears and take your hand. Open your eyes as you sink. The camping trip was at a lagoon, on friend’s land. There were multiple family groups, and swarms of children. The location was an impressionistic blur of muted browns and olive greens. Sand ridges were a joyous reprieve from the endless river mud that squished underfoot and smelt of rot and stagnation. The lagoon water lapped the sandy shore, and crescent wavelets shimmered like a snake’s scales. The illusion of being by the ocean was gossamer-thin, as the ambiance was entirely of the bush. The adults’ swimming area was separated from the kids’ by the rapids. I had no urge to bounce off green-slicked rocks for a transient thrill. But, I would prove I belonged with the older kids. Creatures darted away from my first step into the water: small insects and tadpoles. I waded from shore, and the initial heat of the lagoon seemed sickly and unnaturally warm. The brown water soaked up the sun greedily, but refused to share it beyond the surface layer. I cringed briefly as I broke beyond the warmth, into the silt-insulated colder depths. Hesitation never helps. I dropped straight down. The sky faded away as I plunged beneath the surface, and I smiled. The visibility was only centimeters. Bubbles rose and faded. I sank down further and the world transitioned from clear to a dirty haze, and finally to impenetrable blackness. The chill crept along my limbs, and the taste of mud passed from the water and seeped into my being. The splashing of playing kids retreated, like drifting off to sleep, and I could hear the water speak. Its multitudinous voice clicked and buzzed with swarming life. Beetles and boatmen, yabbies and translucent shrimp that pinched and nipped. They were invisible in the gloom, but they screamed from the deep in their wild, alien voices. I swam to the rapids, where the water roared and blasted across the rocks. My pulse quickened at the sight.
The river pulled at my body, encouraging me, and I gave myself over. The river accepted, and I was lost. I swam to the rapids, where the water roared and blasted across the rocks. My pulse quickened at the sight. The river pulled at my body, encouraging me, and I gave myself over. The river accepted, and I was lost. I spun through the water until vertigo destroyed all direction. I hung still and suspended as the world shifted and roared around me, a howling tornado holding me at its core. Light and dark fought for dominance around me. I could swim. I tried to swim. My progress amounted to nothing, and the serpent river pushed me down and laughed. I was tumbled against the riverbed, held by the current’s loving grip. I wasn’t afraid. Darkness stretched before me, and I hurtled towards its abyss. The river beckoned and I obeyed, but at the edge of the deep I swept into something solid. From the light above, a hand reached down and plucked me up, gasping, into the air. The bright blue sky mocked my choking and the hungry serpent-river coiled away, disappointed. I was carried to shore, held at arms length by the scruff of the neck, like a bad puppy. There were people around me, but the world blurred and faded. I lay on the coarse sand of the bank coughing and spluttering. When I sat up, I looked out over the sweeping bend of the river, as it arced off into the distance, and thought, “That was where I died.” The river watched me hide, quiet and still after the day’s events. I gazed back and my mind spun and took me away. I fell out of this world and into a forest that was ancient and hostile. Giant buttress roots splayed out from the trees, and I cowered backwards into a trunk crevasse. The earth beneath me was as different as the trees that towered overhead and obscured the sky. I listened, and leaves rustled far above. Darkskinned hunters appeared silently from the gloom, seeming otherworldly in the dim light. They were painted with mud, and leaves and feathers clung to them. They crept forward with spears raised. I ran. I scrambled over roots and burst through clumps of fern. I ran without heed for what may come before me. As I tired, I tripped and fell over a log, tumbling barefoot and bleeding to the ground before the widemouthed faces of the kids at our campsite. The vertigo was the same as drowning. During the day I watched the river, looking for my bones, picked clean by yabbies and fish. I wondered how far I floated, and where the transition from alive to dead happened. My ocean was gone, replaced by a forest that was always too near, where the dead walked. Water holds and supports me. I drift away down within it and feel peace. In the dark and the cold and the deep, let yourself return. I knew I wouldn’t drown in St Lucia. The river already owns me. FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
We talked with Tim Eggers, one of the founders of THE WORKSHOP, Fredericksburg’s new woodworking art space. He brought us up to date on their progress and soft opening. Look for classes and membership opportunities this summer. Visit their website to sign up. This will be the instructional facility, so anything a person needs in terms of tooling and so forth is available here. An instructor will be available to walk members through everything, and those new to woodworking will be required to take an introductory safety class. A fundamentals class will start with the student selecting rough-sawed lumber from our supply, and then they will bring it in here and completely process it through the jointer, the planer, and the table saw, and then they will glue it together.
1104 Summit St Fredericksburg, VA 22401 (540) 358-5418 fredworkshop.com
Anything that can happen in a woodworking shop can happen in this room. Every piece of equipment that anyone would need is right here and available. We have a number of instructors who will be on-sight to teach. It’s going to be a benefit to so many novice and experienced woodworkers. For instance, we had a guy in today that didn’t have the tools or know-how to join boards together to make a wider table top, so we ran through the machines. Another example: we have a member who is an accomplished woodworker, but he moved into a smaller house, so he will come here to do all his woodworking. He will be to continue his passion for woodworking, but he doesn’t have to own the tools or maintain them. All he has to do here is use them safely and clean up after himself. People know we’re here and are coming in to check us out. We’re should be fully operational by the early part of the summer. We have dedicated work spaces for education, students, and members. There will be centralized dust collection, and the workshop will be sound insulated. People can be in here working while we’re teaching classes in the other side of the house. Another feature that makes The Workshop unique is that we have a top-of-the-line jointer and some high quality tools. Most shops don’t have a A 12-inch jointer like this one. They dream of having a tool like that. If you get a board that is rough- sawed and less than perfectly flat, you can start the process of getting it flat by running it through this machine. If it’s less that 12 inches wide you can run it through here, then you can take it from that one perfectly flat reference point over to a surface planer to make it the thickness that you want. Once you’ve done both sides, that board will be perfectly flat and perfectly parallel. Most people will have a 6-inch jointer, which is fine for the avid hobbyist and the small home shop, but having a machine like this creates a whole new element. The Workshop will also offer lumber sales. People can come in, buy their wood, and then go in and make their project. While they are in the process they can store it here until it’s done. There are a lot of exotics here that are pretty hard to come by. There are not many places between Norfolk and Baltimore that have this depth and breadth of inventory. So far, we’ve held a few classes during our soft opening to get people interested. We held a bow making class and a pin turning class, as well as a bowl turning class. These were to pique people’s interest.
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News of the protests at Standing Rock jostled with pre-election coverage last year, eventually leading to an unexpected win in the bid for the White House, a swift decision about the Dakota Access Pipeline, and much later, a court verdict requiring further study from the Army Corps of Engineers. Sylvia DeVoss and Roddy Barnes, an artist and a musician from Richmond, Virginia, sought the truth on a personal level by raising money and traveling to the NODAPL protest site at Standing Rock to see for themselves.
A Photo Essay By Sylvia DeVoss
Roddy played benefit concerts on the road, while Sylvia sold her artwork along the way. Sylvia also sold Standing Rock postcards, which she mailed back to people once she arrived at the camp and after Water Protectors had a chance to sign them. The Water Protectors loved this idea, because ultimately, they just wanted people to know what was happening at Standing Rock. Sylvia captured her and Roddyâ€™s experiences in a series of photographs that were approved by the Water Protectors at the camp. Here, she shares her thoughts and images to give and inside view of the events in Standing Rock.
I took this photo because all my life I was taught you don’t do anything against the flag. It’s intrinsic to me, so I have very mixed emotions about this photo. I understand it, but my own history stays with me. I just thought the image was such a true representation of what was happening. Native Americans often don’t feel that they are part of the United States because they are not treated equally, especialy in light of the events happning at Standing Rock, so I do understand their flying the flag this way. I wanted to examine my own feelings around the image though.
The Water Protectors created Flag Road, which represented anyone who was there. Flags lined both sides of the road. It was a pretty spectacular feeling. The police were up on the hills above with sharpshooters who were there all the time. There was a helicopter that circled the camp day and night, every three minutes. If a large group gathered for prayer, the helicopter would lower so you couldn’t hear. They would hover until you dispersed and went about your businesss. It was just incredible to me.
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When we first arrived, we watied for the orientation. Anyone arriving had to go through orientation. There were no drugs allowed, no weapons, and you couldn’t even talk aggressively or they’d escourt you out. They were adamant that no harm should come to the police. It was the most amazing thing, because I’m just not there spiritually, where someone is shooting at me with rubber bullets and I would pray for them, but the Water Protectors really were. The energy in the camp was almost indescribable. It was a peacefulness that I’ve never experienced anywhere in my life. On the way in, you’re traveling in fear. The police were intimidating us on purpose because they didn’t want people to go to the camp, and we were really afraid, honestly. We had hidden the donation money all over the car, because we were afraid it would be taken if we were stopped and searched. Once we were in the camp, the fear dropped away. It was like another world. It literally took six hours to give the money away. It’s such a contrast to what you’re used to. People would say, “Oh, no, no. That’s way too much money. You need an elder to handle this.” Of course they were busy, so it took six hours for the elders to have time to get to us and take our donation. This photo shows a roadblock outside the camp. The police put these roadblocks up for a few hours at at time. It felt very intimidating.
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The different nations had signs where they were camped. You could go anywhere, but the signs were just to let people know which groups were present and where to find them. The elders have a lesson that we are all one people, and we have to lift everyone, including all the “sheeple.” If we don’t lift everyone, then the vibe doesn’t get raised. If we leave anyone behind, it won’t work. We do have to lift everyone. I believe that with all my heart. So, when they were praying for the police who were hurting them, I get that. I just am not quite there yet.
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The dream catcher at the entrance of camp was to keep the negative vibes out. Only good vibes were allowed in camp. The black snake is the pipeline surrounding the United States. Here is the wicked thing, in Lakota they bind themselves and complete a vision quest. When Crazy Horse did his quest 100 years ago, he came back and said when the black snake goes underground, the people have to rise. When I heard that, I got chills. The black snake can be interpreted to mean the pipeline, but I feel that this is so much bigger than a pipeline.
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The camp was diverse. I asked this Musilm woman if I could take her picture. The sign on her back said, “Muslims Stand with Standing Rock.” To be praying with people from all religions...there was an Isrealite and a Palestinian camping right across from one another, and you could just see that it could work if we could just get out of our heads. I understand it’s a hard concept for many people.
This is the river the Water Protectors were trying to protect. The cars you see on the other side are part of Rosebud Camp. This is the land where the news made claims that the Natives left it all in shambles and where they ended up moving the camp up to the left of this picture for fear of yearly flooding from snow melt.
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A dance was going on around the sacred fire, which they lit and would not put out until the prayer was answered. That happenend when President Obama signed the stay for NODAPL, which of course they had to relight because it was immediately breached when Donald Trump ordered work to resume. The Native Americans feel that once a prayer has been answered then that fire has to go. They need a new one for a new intention. This was one of the dancers, and I’m sitting in the prayer circle. The woman in front of me is with her husband, Billy, and he ended up switching places with his wife. It felt like my grandfather was being channeled through him. When we were in Linton, North Dakota, we stopped for breakfast before getting to camp, and they were literarally cussing at us. It was unbelievable. When we went to leave, they had pulled their chairs out just enough to where we could not get by. So we ended up having to go through the kitchen to leave. I was so angry. My daughter called me and asked if I was all right and I just started crying. As I was talking to her, we were driving down this road to make sure they weren’t following us, and they weren’t. All of the sudden, Roddy and I spot what we thought was a duck on a wire. We thought, “What the hell? Ducks don’t sit on telephone poles.” We couldn’t figure out what kind of bird it was, so we looked it up. 227 FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
Here you see a painting of a female water protector on one of the electrical shacks in camp. You can see they also have solar panels on the makeshift building, another example of the juxtaposition of modern technology and the basic nature of camp.
As it turns out, it was a grouse. When I was a young girl, my grandfather took me to a Native American medicine woman (he was Native American), and she taught me my totem animal. I never liked it and never used it because she said my totems were a grouse, a spider, and a dolphin in the north. That just didn’t make sense, you know. I wanted an eagle or a wolf, something huge and powerful. I’m telling Billy, who is Lakota, this story about the grouse, and he turns around and points at my heart and says, “Your grandfather is still laughing at you.” My grandfather used to teach me things, not by telling me, but allowing me to figure them out. He would laugh when I would get so mad, and so it was ironic that Billy recognized my grandfather’s spirit in the story. When Billy heard me say I had wanted a wolf, he cracked up laughing just like my grandfather and said, “Everybody wants a wolf!” You can see Roddy dancing in the background in this picture (and in the photo to the left) directly behind the dancer in cerimonial attire. He said he wanted to come talk to Billy and me, but there seemed to be an aura around us that made him refrain. Billy and I talked for nearly three hours about everything. I felt so safe in that conversation, and I’m still processing it. FLAR Spring/Summer 2017 Volume 5, Issue 1
This dancer was mesmerizing.
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This drum was a part of the drumming circle. It sits there until someone feels compelled to start. Others will join, and there will end up being about ten different drummers together on it. It is signed by all the nations.
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Here you see the juxtaposition of vehicles with teepees and a person on horseback. Riders were all through camp. It was so interesting, because you’d have modernistic, fourwheel moterized vehicles like you’d see at Burning Man, and then you have people on horses with saddles, and then you have people riding bareback. You’d also see a 2017 Honda Accord, bicycles...it was just an eclectic mix of people. You just can’t even fathom putting them all together and making anything work, but yet it was not like a festival atmosphere. It was definitely more serious.
This was a procession of riders who proceded a group of women (in red behind the riders on horses). The women were enacting a ceremony. It was hard to take pictures. I always asked before I took them. I was trying to be very respectful. That’s why I refrained from getting people’s faces, so they would be nondescript.
Roddy and I pondered something: Do you start waking up and its why these things come to you? Or do they come to you, which is what wakes you up? I don’t know. I say all the time that it seems we’re more divided than ever, but at other times I don’t really think we are. People aren’t talking it anymore. I do feel like some of it is a “good ol’ boy” mentality, where the white male feels threatened because people are standing up to say, “You know, you really aren’t the only ones on earth.” There’s a threat to what has been known and the power that they have enjoyed. Even if I was 90% Black or Native, I have privelege just because I have white skin, so my background doesn’t matter. People just assume I’m white. When we were leaving, Roddy and I thought we would stay in a hotel that night, but after the safety of the camp and the fear we felt coming and going from the camp, we just drove until we were ready to pass out. We wanted to get as far away from any possible danger as we could. When we got home it was horrible, because the news would say some dumbass statement about Standing Rock and we were sitting there saying to oursleves, this is nothing like what is going on up there. This is totally misrepresented. Then they had the report where they arrested one of the Water Protectors who kidnapped one of the police, but the actual video shows a DAPL police officer infiltrating the camp with a weapon and they disarmed him. They took his weapon because weapons weren’t allowed in camp. Both the Water Protector and the DAPL police officer were arrested, but when they went to court they dropped the officer’s charges and charged the Water Protector with three felony charges. He’s facing 20 years in prision if he’s convicted. It’s unbelievable. They arrested sixty-some people, but then they drop the cases when they’d go to court. The money they are spending is unbelievable. How much money must you have that you can run a helicopter every three minutes all day and night for months at a time? I told Roddy they could have put this damn pipe line through Honolulu cheaper than they could build this one. It’s actually the equivalent of trying to put the pipe through Arlington National Cemetery in D.C. It’s the same idea, but people in the surrounding area feel like the Native Americans are throwing a fit about nothing. That’s what we wanted to find out: the truth. Even though I am part Native, I was absolutely nuetral when we went. I was hoping this was blown up, that the few people I knew who had gone out there were exaggerating, but then we got there it was happening. I mean, if you can spray a nun in the face while she’s praying, how low can you go? I’m excited to share what I learned, because I want people to understand an observer’s side and see for themselves the unity and protective spirit that ran through the camp.
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Follow Up: On January 24, 2017 President Trump signed an executive order including this summation, â€œI believe that construction and operation of lawfully permitted pipeline infrastructure serve the national interest.â€? Protestors were orderd to leave the land by February 23, 2017. On June 14, 2017, a D.C. District Court Judge, James Boasberg, concluded that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers failed to perform adequate environmental studies. He did not, however, stop further work on the pipeline. The debate continues.
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Index of Artists
Don Anawalt (139 - 140) has had an unusually varied career. It began in 1955 when he studied art and architecture at the University of Oregon, receiving his BS degree. He received his MFA degree from the Washington State University in 1967, where he taught ceramics and architecture until 1973. He moved to Sacramento in 1973 and established his own business, Anawalt Architectural Ceramics Inc. After selling the business in 2002, he fluctuated between several areas of interest: architecture, music, painting, ceramics and writing. It was during this time he began writing more seriously. He learned early that humor would often bring people into the poem, or story, so he could get his message across with more ease. He does, however, venture into the darker side of life in some of his short stories. donanawalt@ sonic.net OR www. ee-house.com Jason A. Cina (101-102) A native New Yorker, my field of study was in stage design but quickly transformed my career to be that of a fine artist. The subsequent decade produced an esteemed photographic portfolio documenting adventures local and abroad. Exhausted and penniless, I moved up to the front burner painting concepts sketched out while idle in hotels and airports. Another decade of evolution resulted in the modern series titled SLABS: Ten freely carved and thickly painted wood panels of equal dimension derived solely from found materials. Since completion, the pieces have been regularly placed in exhibition with five new smaller paintings created while in residence at Topaz Arts in Queens.www.jasoncina.com Cheryl Clayton (83) paints mostly about the African-American experience. She works with acrylic, mixed medium, watercolor and charcoal in her work. She enjoys painting through my imagination and observation. Claytonn says the movement of the human being in a painting shows dominant presence when a painting is completed. She has exhibited work in Richmond,Virginia in art galleries such as ArtWorks, Inc. and festivals like Showcase Noir in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania through the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Clayton’s background is in fashion illustration from Virginia Commonwealth University where studying the human figure became prominent in the development of her work. Kaelin Ian Cooper (157-158, 164) The bodies of work I present are inspired by the internal analyzation of my relationship with God, and the degradation that follows being gay within the context of religion and identity. I am interested in finding the balance, visually, between sexual nature, escapism, and grunge nouveau to deal with my humanistic, moral makeup. Genetically, subjects of my work take forms of water and human anatomy as metaphors for the fluid nature of sexuality and religion. Distinct, subliminal, and graphic qualities stand out in my work to depict various adaptations of sexual makeup. The oceanic, statuesque forms and ambiguous atmospheres come from the adoration of fashion, science fiction, Greek mythology, religious iconography and architecture. kaeliniancooper.weebly. com/ Andrea Cukier (111-112) is a painter from Argentina, where she graduated as Profesora Superior de Pintura (the result of a 9-year, full time academic career). This degree was accredited in the US as a dual Master’s Degree in Fine Arts and Art Education. Cukierl has lived and worked in New York City since 1998. The natural world and its deterioration, as a result of human intervention or environmental catastrophes, are her sources of inspiration. She create imaginary landscapes whose recurring themes are the deep love I feel for nature combined with the anxiety that its ongoing destruction causes me. Cukierl says her evoke a feeling of a place lost: either the loss of our natural environment or the dislocation that I have felt since I immigrated to the U.S. Cukierl’s paintings are in the permanent collections of the Godwin Ternbach Museum at Queens College, NY; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; and the Argentine Consulate in New York City. www.andreacukier.com Christian Duran (125-126), Cuban-American Painter, is a New World School of the Arts graduate and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1998. In 1999 he returned to his hometown of South Florida where he continues to produce and exhibit his work. Duran’s art focuses on decontextualizing and reshaping beauty found in nature, science, the human body, and religion. His work Luberon is part of a larger series titled “Editing Nature” which explores the human quality to manipulate and reshape our surroundings- specifically nature. www.christianduran.net Saeed Ourdoubadi (69, 71-72, 85-86, 105-106, 131-132, 133) A retired Economist and Statistician, I started living after my retirement. I am mesmerized by colors, lights and shadows. I see beauty, joy and pain in every minute of my life and try to show them with my photography, my painting and my words. SaeedOrdoubadi.photography David Lovegrove (40) works by studying the natural and human-madeworld around him, making sketches or taking photographs of what he has seen. He rarely sketch or take pictures of things that are beautiful or polished; many of his objects and places are worn, broken, or they are being constructed ordeconstructed. Lovegrove generates more finished pieces from those sources. The finished pieces often become metaphors for larger and more important ideas about the world. He depicts the formal and abstract qualities of objects and places, but also makes them represent something that is important to him. He is influeced by modern artists Kurt Schwitters, Charles Sheeler, Gordon Matta-Clark, ClaesOldenburg, Richard Diebenkorn, and the general history of architecture and photography.
A1 Index of Artists
Paola Pagano (113) earned a degree in Graphics and Multimedia Design at Università di Roma La Sapienza in 2010. In the summer of 2013 she completed a Residency in Illustration and Visual Storytelling at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She currently lives and works between New York and Milan as an illustrator and designer. Her eclectic style ranges from watercolors, to digital drawing and photography, to pattern design and small animations. A bittersweet irony is the common thread of all her work. Her visual research is centered on engaging the mind and stimulating critical thinking, but also on creating images that connect with the more instinctual side of ourselves. paolapaganostudio.com/ Madeleine Rhondeau (79-80) is from Crozet, Virginia and graduated from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia with a B.A. in Studio Art. Painting is her primary medium, through which she investigates the issues of adolescent memory, female development, and female sexuality. Madeleine currently resides in Charlottesville, Virginia and is a part of the McGuffey Incubator Artists program until July 2017. mrhondeau.com Instagram @MERhondeau Evelyn Ray (117) I am submitting the following painting Clarity. The medium I worked with is oil. It is on a canvas size 18 x 24. I am an artist painter. I received art training from the Art Students League of New York, School of Visual Arts, and the Art Studio of New York. I enjoy working with oils, acrylic, mixed media, drawings, and collage mediums. My artwork derives from creative expression, the model, still life, and also create pieces in honor of her Puertoriquen heritage. Currently, I am an art instructor at a local senior center in the Bronx, N.Y. area and also conduct monthly art workshops. www.evelynrayartist.com Joshua Sariñana (43-44) Dr. Joshua Sariñana was born in San José, California. He obtained his neuroscience degrees at the University of California, Los Angeles and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sariñana exhibited his work at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Photoville, and the Center for Fine Art Photography. His work has been recognized by the World Photography Awards, Communication Arts, and PX3. Sariñana’s work has also been featured on Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, and Time. Sariñana has published on the intersection of photography and neuroscience in the photography periodicals Don’t Take Pictures and The Smart View. Sariñana currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts. About the Subject: Nancy Padilla was born and raised in Puerto Rico and attended music school where she specialized in piano and cello. She became interested in how the brain allows one to experience music emotionally and in recalling memories. Ultimately, Padilla obtained her PhD from Columbia University and is now a postdoctoral associate studying the role of the hormone estrogen on the brain circuitry that underlies anxiety behaviors. Padilla is studying how innate behaviors are encoded in the brain. www.joshuasarinana.com/projects David Smith (149-150) is an Irish artist, recently relocated home after 11 years in Hong Kong. He works primarily in painting and occasionally in music and photographic projects. His work has been shown in solo and group shows in Hong Kong, Ireland, the US and Europe. He has most recently worked as a Professor of Foundation Studies and Painting at Savannah College of Art & Design in Hong Kong since 2012. www.davidsmith-studio.com Joshua Tarplin (90) is originally from the Washington D.C. area, and is currently studying Studio Art and the History of Art at Yale University. He enjoys combining different artistic practices into photography. joshuatarplin.com Dawn Whitmore (161) is a VA-based landscape and nature photographer. She specializes in barnscapes and is known locally as the “OLD BARN” lady. She is currently working on a book about Century Farm properties. You can learn more about Dawn and her photography by visiting her on Facebook @dewphotographypage OR www.dewphotographyva.com
Index of Artists
Index of Writers
Ruth Ann Allaire (180), an 84-year-old retired college biology professor, has been writing poetry most of her adult life. She is a healing cheraga in the Sufi Order International. She is a Reiki Master and an avid genealogist. Her work has been published in finishing Line Presss, Prairie Poet, Northern Virginia Review, and the Fredericksburg Literary And Arts Review among others. Ruth Ann is married to an Egyptian. Together they explore the differences in cultures and appreciate those things which are the same for all. www.aginggracefullyandgratefully.com Don Anawalt (139) has had an unusually varied career. It began in 1955 when he studied art and architecture at the University of Oregon, receiving his BS degree. He received his MFA degree from the Washington State University in 1967, where he taught ceramics and architecture until 1973. He moved to Sacramento in 1973 and established his own business, Anawalt Architectural Ceramics Inc. After selling the business in 2002, he fluctuated between several areas of interest: architecture, music, painting, ceramics and writing. It was during this time he began writing more seriously. He learned early that humor would often bring people into the poem, or story, so he could get his message across with more ease. He does, however, venture into the darker side of life in some of his short stories. firstname.lastname@example.org OR www. ee-house.com Amelie Baker (127-130) is recovering from a ten year career as a high school history teacher. Her skills at keeping teenagers engaged at 8 am are now funneled into her writing. She now hopes to get a laugh and never seeks to impart a lesson. Melanie Browne (202) is a poet and fiction writer from Texas. She has published in various journals such as Pulp Metal Magazine, Midnight Lane Boutique, and In Between Hangovers. Her work has been included in the anthologies The Best of Everyday poetsand Zombies Galore. She once met James Dickey, the author of Deliverance. Kersten Christianson (162) is a raven-watching, moon-gazing Alaskan. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon Territory, she resides in Sitka, Alaska with her husband and photographer Bruce Christianson, and daughter Rie. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) through the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2016. Kersten’s recent work has appeared in Cirque, Tidal Echoes and Sheila-Na-Gig. Her poetry collection titledSomething Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press) along with a chapbook titled What Caught Raven’s Eye (Petroglyph Press) are forthcoming in 2017. www.kerstenchristianson.com Karen Clark (45-46) is a visual artist, poet and writer of memoir; graduated University of Maryland with a BS degree, Applied Design. She has lived in countries around the world, to include Switzerland, Israel, the Philippines, Canada, a stint in Washington, DC, and summers in Laos. After graduation, she married and began to move around the USA. Since the neighborhoods changed constantly, she learned to expect small adventures, and her possessions became home. Books and writing are her portable companions. During one of her forays, she discovered the Water Street Studio, and became a member of the Water Street Writers. she’s come to rest at the edge of the Wilderness in Spotsylvania County. Patrick Michael Clark (97-100) is a Virginia-based writer and dramatist. Born and raised in a little pocket of green just below the Rappahannock River, he is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, and currently teaches English in a secondary school near his hometown. His fiction has been featured in diverse publications, including the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, Quail Bell Magazine, Rappahannock Magazine, and Regina Magazine. His dramatic works, both traditional plays and pieces for alternative spaces, have been produced in Richmond by the Gene Pool Collective, the Richmond Catholic Theatre, and the Shafer Alliance Laboratory Theatre. Follow him on Twitter @ThatGhostClark and Facebook @thatghostclark . Patrick Connelly (207) works as a scientist in Boston and lives in the small village of Harvard, MA where he writes some poetry and nonfiction, but mostly tells tall tales to his wife, children and grandchildren by the wood stove after family dinners. His most recent poetry appears in Allegro Magazine. Michael Costa (209-2112) has been a downtown Fredericksburg resident since 1995. He is a part-time physician, full- time dabbler who wrote a column for the first few years of Front Porch Fredericksburg. More recently, Costa has been focusing on short fiction and is a periodic contributor to the slush piles of several prestigious literary journals. Jennifer Davis (58) has had an exciting life raising her now grown daughter and fumbling through personal relationships. Her writings begin as personal journal entries transformed into blog posts with the hope that others will receive inspiration. Jennifer’s content comes from a combination of hard knock life choices and her passion for senior citizens. Her career life has been dedicated to senior healthcare and lifestyle choices. It brings her joy to listen to seniors share their memories. Jennifer enjoys hiking, camping, and reading. Her biggest fan is her big spoiled doberman, Sammy, who listens to all of her stories. learningstrikhedonia.wordpress.com
A3 Index of Writers
Worthy Evans (57) is an artist and poet who works for a Medicare contractor in Columbia, SC. His first book, Green Revolver (University of South Carolina Press, 2010) won the SC Poetry Prize. Evans’s work is sometimes confessional, sometimes surreal, and is informed by a study of southern history and history at large. He also draws from life and his times as a civil war reenactor, surveyor, soldier, sports writer, Medicare contractor, terrible husband, decent friend, and devoted father. Henry Goldkamp (70) lives in Saint Louis / New Orleans / the spirit of gratitude. He likes spreading it around / realizing how damn lucky this is. He has recent work in Mudfish / Hoot / Blood Orange Review / dryland / b(OINK) / Sierra Nevada Review / plenty others. His art has been covered by Post-Dispatch / Time / NPR / more. To read up on / contemporarily stalk Henry, please google “henry goldkamp” with a fresh drink of your choice. Angelo Giambra’s (39) poetry has appeared in Southern Poetry Review, South Dakota Review, The Atlanta Journal and several other journals. His poem “The Water Carriers” appears on Ted Kooser’s site, American Life In Poetry. Ada Hardy (114-116) hasn’t quit her day job, but she writes furiously in her free time, and gets her best ideas when she’s tearing around the local trails on horseback. She lives in Ventura County, California with a loving house cat and an indifferent tarantula. This is her first publication. Sarah Henry (185) is a former student of Robert Hass and Louise Glück at the University of Virginia.Today she lives near Pittsburgh. where her poems have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Pittsburgh Poetry Review Farther afield, Sarah has contributed to Soundings East , The Hollins Critic, and other journals. More of her work is forthcoming in Rhetoric Askew. Damian Herde (213-214) is a photographer, biologist and writer. He has conducted research in pathology, entomology and genetics. He is an art and media photographer, having held a number of solo and group exhibitions of his visual art. He is studying creative writing at the University of Southern Queensland. He lives in Toowoomba, Australia in a house full of books. John Holley’s (148) fiction has appeared in Fast Forward, The Barcelona Review, Expressions, and received honorable mention in Glimmer Train’s very short fiction contest. His non-fiction was a regular feature in the Casper Star Tribune and the Sol Day News. John lives in Denver, and is a graduate of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop inaugural Book Project. Sven Heuchert (187-188) was Born 1977 in Cologne, Germany. Published two collections of short stories, one audio drama, his debut novel will be out in July by Ullstein Books. Influenced by Beth Nugent, Thom Jones, Tobias Wolff, Jayne Anne Phillips. www. sven-heuchert.de Scott Hubbartt (200) I am a 28-year combat decorated veteran of three wars. I struggle every day to find purpose. I’m usually successful. I am married and have three grown daughters. Brady Huggett (205-206) is a writer and journalist living in New York City. He’s working on a novel from which this piece is excerpted. @addisonbench Andrew R. Jones (87-89) served in ministry and mission for seven years on three continents before attending graduate school at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. His writings showcase a wide range of interests and styles including hymnody, poetry, memoir, and cultural commentary. andrewrobertjones.com Oliver Jones (159-160) is a British-Peruvian poet originally from London. He holds a BA honours degree in Philosophy from Oxford University and has edited two anthologies, #refugeeswelcome and #NousSommesParis. He is the author of the poetry chapbook chronic youth and the psychobiography Donald Trump: The Rhetoric, both out with Eyewear Publishing. He also writes for and co-edits the music/ lit blog Follower of Nothing. Candice Kelsey (155) Candice is a high school English teacher who earned her master’s degree in literature from Loyola Marymount University. She has been published in Poet Lore, The Cortland Review, Hobart Pulp, Burningword, Wilderness House, and more. An Ohio native and opera fanatic, Candice lives in Los Angeles with her four children and nine pets. Visit her on Facebook @candicespoetry Abdullah Zaid Khalil (118) Born in Baghdad, Iraq on December 2, 1988 (during a funeral, no less), I’ve lived in Savannah, GA, Washington, DC, and Charlottesville, VA (where I attended the University of Virginia and majored in English). Now I reside in Red Oak, TX and teach high school English.
Index of Writers
Index of Writers
Sáshily Kling (41-42) is a Grad Student at the University of Hawaii. She is currently working towards an MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Sáshily is a Navy wife and has traveled extensively through the United States, Spain, and Asia. Through these experiences she has acquired a cultural awareness and has found that art, in its many forms, is universal. Sáshily graduated Summa Cum Laude at Norfolk State University (NSU) with BS in Mass Communications. She has been published in NSU’s literary magazine - The Norfolk Review - and was published in Metro HNL, in May and Decemberof 2016, and now she is working on her first poetry chapbook. Sáshily is currently a freelance writer, Blogger, and tutor. sashilykling.wixsite.com/aboutme Nathan Leslie’s (73) nine books of fiction include Root and Shoot, Sibs, and Drivers. He is also the author of The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice, a novel, and Night Sweat, a poetry collection. His work has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines including Boulevard, Shenandoah, North American Review, and Cimarron Review. Nathan was series editor for The Best of the Web anthology 2008 and 2009 (Dzanc Books) and edited fiction for Pedestal Magazine for many years. He is currently interviews editor at Prick of the Spindle and writes a monthly music column for Atticus Review. His work appears in Best Small Fictions 2016. Check him out on Twitter and Facebook as well as at www.nathanleslie.com. Randy Mazie (156) Writing has always been like an itch inside of Mazie’s head: a sneeze exploding into words, words scribbled frantically onto a page, then crossed out and “thesaurus-ed” for the exact felt sense desiring creation. Randy scratches and sneezes most every day. Now that he’s now retired, he’s preparing to backpack the Appalachian Trail with his wife, Debbie, and is “hiked up” to journal the journey. thewritersvillage.wordpress.com RPMuha (202) Have you ever spoke to Mother Nature? Has Mother Nature ever responded back? RPMuha’s “...between the fabric” recounts two separate events in which the speaker discovers the unity between identity and nature, and reflects upon the human condition. RPMuha is based out of the Chicagoland area where he is involved with the city’s writing community. Visit www.readingrpmuha.com for more information. www.readingrpmuha.com Steven Myers-Yawnick (155) studied creative writing at the University of Central Florida. His fiction and poetry have been published in Jolt, Emerge, and Educe. He currently resides in Orlando. stevenmyersyawnick.wordpress.com/ Amanda Noble (135-138) is a sociologist who, frustrated by the constraints of scientific writing, turned her attention to creative non-fiction writing, especially personal essay and memoir. Her work appeared in Seven Hills Review, Indiana Voice, and Eastern Iowa Review, among other publications. She lives in Davis, California, with her cat, Lucy. She can be reached at email@example.com Walker Raigh (196) is a marketing executive and fine artist living in Boston working on her debut release, PETRICHOR: An Olfactory Memoir, in conjunction with Cutlass Press (Winter 2018). Michael Ratcliffe (134) is a geographer and poet. His poems have appeared in a variety of print and on-line journals; most recently, Fourth & Sycamore, Peacock Journal, and Thief. When he is not writing, he can be found bicycling throughout Central Maryland. He can also be found on-line at michaelratcliffespoetry.wordpress.com. A.R. Robins (81-82) is a public school teacher who is acquiring a master’s in English studies. Her fiction has been featured on on the podcast Second Hand Stories and has been published in the online journal Foliate Oak. Robyn Roberts (186) I came to poetry as a way to hone my short story writing skills. I found that if I could write in a poem the general premise of the story, the story would benefit. By picking and choosing words the story became leaner yet more potent. It was only a matter of time before I would fall in love with the power of poetry. From my small farm in Massachusetts I harvest the words that inspire me to write. David Anthony Sam (147) Born in Pennsylvania, David Anthony Sam lives in Virginia with his wife and life partner, Linda. Sam has four collections and was the featured poet in the Spring 2016 issue of The Hurricane Review and his poetry has appeared in over 60 journals and publications. His chapbook, Finite to Fail: Poems after Dickinson, was the 2016 Grand Prize winner of GFT Press Chapbook Contest and his collection All Night over Bones received an Honorable Mention for the 2016 Homebound Poetry Prize. www.davidanthonysam.com Ryan Jerome Stout (147) started writing poetry at 15 years old and has continually done so for the past 24 years. His goal is to create images (paintings in words) to assist in processing his internal and external worlds. Ryan often presents dark images dealing with depression, cosmogony, interconnectedness, and death.
A5 Index of Writers
Georgia Lee Strentz (186) hails from California, where her writer’s imagination was fired while sitting on a surfboard in Malibu with her cousins,taking in the gorgeous surroundings. She is a poet and emerging novelist, having published in Birthright publications, Flar, and in Front Porch Magazine monthly. Jim Trainer (163) All in the wind, Jim Trainer’s third full-length collection of poetry and prose, is out now through Yellow Lark Press. Trainer lives in Austin, Texas, where he performs as a singer songwriter and serves as curator of Going For The Throat-a weekly publication of cynicism, outrage, correspondence and romance. jimtrainer.net Juilia Travers (208) is a creative writer, journalist and artist in Virginia. Her creative writing appears with OnBeing, The Mindfulness Bell, Whurk Magazine and Heron Tree Poetry Journal, among other publications. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com/ and on Twitter @traversjul. Jenna Veazey (37-38) Jenna Villforth Veazey, is a member of the Water Street Writers and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her poems have appeared previously in The Fredericksburg Literary and Arts Review and she is the author of the chapbook, The Rise of Jennifer. Her poems for children have been published in Baby Bug Magazine and Highlights High Five. You can find her on Instagram @stirringsandstories. Thea Verdak (201) is British/German and lives in Virginia. She writes minimalist poetry about nature and the way we are connected to it. Thea worked for The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. and was founder and president of a humane group focused on abused and traumatized animals. She is well travelled, walks a lot while listening to language tapes, and reads profusely. She is the author of ‘The Barn Teacher’ and ‘I Can’t Pee Straight.’ David Weinberger (197-199) is an American author working in Berlin, Germany. My short story “Kronprinzen Bridge” has been published in Thrice Fiction. I have a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and taught kindergarten for eight years in Salt Lake City, Utah. My website is davidhweinberger.com. Sally Wagner’s (188-192) short stories have appeared in Per Contra and The Great American Literary Magazine. Her poetry and movie reviews have been published in The Southeastern Gale. She is a member of the Colorado Writing School and has worked as an editor and teacher. Maura Way (84) Originally from Washington, D.C, I moved to Fredericksburg in 1990 to attend Mary Washington. My first poem was published in Aubade in 1994. I taught English at North Stafford High School from 1995-1999, where I was known as Ms. Payne. My work has appeared in/on Drunken Boat, Beloit Poetry Journal, Verse, DIAGRAM, The Burnside Review, and Folio (among others). Another Bungalow is forthcoming from Press 53 in the fall of 2017. I currently live and teach in Greensboro, NC.
Index of Writers
Thank you for reading the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review. We hope you have enjoyed your time with us. Please visit our pages again in the fall.
The Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival Saturday, September 23 @ Riverfront Park 10am to 5pm
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The Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival
Panels, Speakers, UFO Food Truck, and 112 Exhibitors, Including Authors, Poets, Graphic Novelists, Book Artists, Publishers, and more!
23, 2017 . t p e S , y a d r u t a S Riverfront Park VA Fredericksburg, 10am-5pm
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