Apeiron Review Spring 2014
Editorial There’s a long-standing debate on the worthiness of submitting to a medium that cannot pay you. I see both sides of this debate as a writer and as an editor. For me, I choose to stick with the belief that we all have to start somewhere. To date, Apeiron has no financial backers other than Meredith and me — a college professor and a copywriter who happens to do a splash of web design. I say this, not in a bid for money (we aren’t taking donations or selling anything just yet — I know, I know, put those wallets away for now), but because I want to remind our readers that we are the type of people — just like you — that make up the literary world. It’s a world that we live in because we love it, and we want to be here; not because it’s necessarily financially profitable. However, Apeiron has reached a point where it must start to sustain itself, and that means also sustaining (or helping to sustain) our artists, first. We ask that everyone bear with us as we stretch our business legs a bit further. There will be many changes over the coming year, but I firmly believe that these changes will all bring positive results. Print and electronic issues, minimal advertising, and other such things, will all culminate in our ability to pay our artists. We can’t give money if we aren’t making money. Happily, we know that we’re producing a quality literary magazine. On that note, Issue 6 has unfolded into another beautiful magazine. Thomas Gillaspy’s “Vertigo” graces the cover, and its vividness is meant to entice you visually before you immerse yourself into the minds of our writers. There’s grace between these pages. From Sarah Kilch Gaffney’s carpe diem reminder, to the teeth of Robyn Ryle’s “Natural Enemy,” this issue truly embodies our desire to produce a literary magazine that will scratch the surface of the toughest heart, cause much gnashing of the teeth, or at the very least inspire you to pull out your own notebook. We want visceral work in every issue, and each of these pieces showcases an ability to make us feel something deeply, be it loathing, lust, compassion, etc. So, on this lovely spring day (or whenever you should stumble across these humble pages) we hope that you, too, will feel that certain something that causes goose bumps to rise. Happy reading,
The Review Staff Editors
Meredith Davis Lisa Andrews
Design Editor Lisa Andrews
Production Editors Meredith Davis Lisa Andrews
Contents Poetry 1 Birdcage Katherine Neale
34 Airbag Jonathan Treece
5 a.m. quiet John Reinhart
Drafting to Redeem Myself Jeanine Deibel
6 The Spiritual Doubts of Orange Tom Holmes
In a Dream of Slow Moving Traffic Jonathan Treece
After Hours with Orange Tom Holmes
My 95 Sarah Ann Winn
Unsolicited submissions are always welcome. Actually, we do not solicit submissions, so please send your work our way.
Interpreting the Diagnosis Atreyu Luna
Road Trip Kelly Grace Thomas
Southern Girls Melissa Watkins Starr
Winter Begins in Berlin Aileen Bassis
Manuscripts are now only accepted via Submittable. For submission guidelines, schedules, news, and archived issues, please visit our website at apeironreview.com
The Revivification of Charles Josiah West, Age 82 Jeffrey Winter
45 Kitengela Melissa Burton
(The Passion of) Joan of Arc Jeffrey Winter
Four Mile Creek (Kansas) Richard Luftig
©Apeiron Review. All rights revert to author upon publication
23 post-impressions Sherryl Anders 24
a little less Demond Blake
The Thief Bob Meszaros
Lac Bernard Claire Farley
Love in the Age of Choler Jeanine Deibel
I Prefer My Flag Cynthia Ring
Thinking of Nothing Steve Klepetar
Mikey Comes Homes Karla Cordero
52 Father Noorulain Noor 53 Fatherhood Matthew Kirshman 57 Stones Janet Butler 58
Aurora, Wǒ de ài
About Our Cover
Vertigo Thomas Gillaspy is a northern California based photographer with an interest in urban minimalism. His work is forthcoming in Streetlight Magazine and Suisun Valley Review. Contact information and more examples of his work can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ thomasmichaelart/
Lately They Have Been Telling Me Rick Kempa
The Other Woman Noorulain Noor
62 Dispossession Noorulain Noor
Fiction 3 The Malfunction of a Small Airplane as Seen From the Ground John Rieder 8
Naked Guy Katharine Monger
10 Utopia Nashae Jones 17
The Endless M. Brogan
21 First Andrew Davis 26
Cave-diving George Michelsen Foy
The Undercarriage Brian McVety
Throwing Stones Dana Roskey
Natural Enemy Robyn Ryle
49 Angle Roland Leach
The Best Days Sarah Kilch Gaffney
Portaging the Fog Sarah Ann Winn
11 Lobotomy Laura Jean Schneider 16
So Real J. Howard Shannon
Plenty for Birds Sarah Ann Winn
Didn’t Make the Winter Laura Jean Schneider
Garden Greenery Sarah Ann Winn
Watching You Wes Adamson
50 Escape Thomas Gillaspy 59
Oil and Water H.C. Turk
Birdcage As witnesses of grief we become dark of tongue dark of heart. Grey birds inhabit our bodies settling in the most intimate places. The birds squat in our ankles. They flutter in our knees. They peck at our fingers. They fold themselves in the inner ear tucked away from the lighting that strikes the skull like a chisel. The pieces fall from the crowns of our heads. We could not be more mortal. So we house the birds in the sap of our navels in the stems of our throats. And we sing. The earth lifts our skullsâ€” a storm of cirrus and curl. The mountains so stoic so still so quiet are fretting and thrashing within us. This is the witching hour we have been waiting for the witching hour we have been dreading. Arms spread not like wings but daggers. There is fire to be eaten flame by flame. We rise from the bowels of the soil. We are clean.
5 a.m. quiet clock ticks, a motor somewhere whirs lightly, the dog stirs; airplane overhead faint rumble as thoughts tumble under chairs into dark corners scurrying through my head
in this 5 a.m. quiet the chorus inside insists I listen spurred by coffee and freshened limbs; I try to sort out the melody but today the viola dominates and everyone is awake before the symphony finishes, turning my 5 a.m. quiet into day
The Malfunction of a Small Airplane as Seen From the Ground John Rieder 10:00 a.m. and you’re leaning out the window of your third-story apartment in an old suburb just downwind from the city. You’re leaning out, just so, Monday, cracked mug half-full of Darjeeling tea, earthy, with honey, your eyes lazy on the four-story across the street. You’re leaning out, just so, and the sky seems to pop (then roar), a bass-heavy spiraling grind just above you. An airplane, tiny and white from this distance, a Cessna, a toy almost, is breaking apart against clouds that boast rain. You’re looking up now, straight up, and this whole sequence, this whole linear narrative, plays out in seconds. The malfunction. Plane breaks in two. Pilot falls to earth. But this event and the few moments that comprise it become yours. You can almost pluck the whole logic of the sequence out of the sky, let it idle in your cupped indefinitely. The malfunction. hands The malfunction. Plane Plane breaks in breaks in two. Pilot falls to two. Pilot falls to earth. You’re looking up now, straight up, and you almost earth. laugh because it all does seem to happen in slow motion, the cliché of every bad movie, every imparted near-death experience, every session of hypnotic regression
therapy. The way the little airplane’s wings and cockpit diverge from the tail, its fuselage cometburning, disintegrating against the overcast backdrop. The way the pilot falls fast, much more quickly than the whirling X of the cockpit and wings. And from where you stand, leaning out of your window, the pilot, for only a fraction of a moment already so fractured, is superimposed against the wings. And you channel so many thoughts (an ocean of questions) of angels falling to earth, like García-Márquez wrote, and who believes in fucking angels anyway? And can he fly now? And are you (is he) my angel? And that angel and angle are so close so if he’s falling straight downward is that still acute? And now you’re standing outside, just up the street from your apartment. Now you’re moving further up the street. You hear the first sirens, still a few minutes away, and you’re suddenly aghast, this gently cupped moment swatted from your hands. Who could’ve called? Who else saw the plane come apart, saw the white heat of the fuselage bloom against the gray, the man tumbling downward, faster even than the front half of the airplane, saw the superimposition of man against spinning wreckage overhead? But now you’re there, on a side street just a block past your apartment, where the pilot is sprawled out on the sidewalk next to a shrub 3
The Malfunction of a Small Airplane as Seen From the Ground — john rieder
yellowed by dog piss and drought. He’s fully intact, not a bloody splat, not the dramatic red smear that you thought would be the result of such a great fall. You’re closer now, and his body at rest reminds you of images from a book of Civil War daguerreotypes you once saw, the way the battlefield dead lay in contortion. A leg crossed over the other. Torso half-turned at the hips. Arms bent behind the head, the head resting in the crook of one elbow. A hand bent slightly back at the wrist. You’re standing over him now. Now you’re kneeling beside him. Kneeling in the blood that is seeping from his head and stomach, his intestines herniated. And one thing that surprises you the most about this dead pilot, besides his moustache, which reminds you of your father’s, very thick and dirty-blonde, is that his watch, a silver-plated thing, is still audibly ticking. You give your synopsis to a local reporter, a woman with a smart suit and perfect teeth, and to a buff young cop with no hair: the unseen malfunction, the plane splitting in two, the pilot falling. You go home and sleep for 17 hours. You dream deeply. Odd visions. Civil War dead that bleed Darjeeling tea. Silver-plated teeth that bite the rain from clouds. A comet cupped gently in the palm of your hand.
Sarah Ann Winn
Portaging the Fog
The Spiritual Doubts of Orange The modern Orange is a new phenomenon – / its beliefs arise from the future. – Henri Matisse
This modern Orange paints alone on a precipice at the world’s edge. Above are its heavens. Below is saffron sentiment atomizing in mist. At its back, blood-soaked wraiths project doubt into Orange’s inevitable loneliness. When Orange is honest with itself, it realizes it is the worst of the conceivable disappointments. It declares itself spiritually bankrupt, takes the vow from poverty, and prepares for war in times of peace. Its paranoia for catastrophe stifles its own fervor despite Orange’s primal optimism. Wherever there is a festival or a circus, Orange waits in line and hopes it’s This High.
After Hours with Orange Here is the defense against the negative forces of denial and death. Here in the city of taverns, dance clubs, and after-hour sex parlors. Here, in the night, with the presence of other and uncanny. And everyone who is exposed to or immersed in its early hours is tinged with mimetic failure. Here is the spectacle, the pleasure dome. Here, the debutants of the night forge wooden masks and iron umbrellas to hide their grotesque origins. There are no class differences here, no towers, no debt, no normal. Whoever enters its subterranean becomes a joke, so every entity is dispossessed of its threat. At its core, Orange germinates purity and the ancientâ€” the seeds of rebellion. At its core, Orange is metaphysical and real as a belly, empty or full. Here is where the debutants may carry oils and paint sleep with fingers.
Naked Guy Katharine Monger “Hey. Look. It’s Naked Guy.” We were crouched around the table with the short leg, my wallet wedged between it and the bar floor. Over Jason’s shoulder, in line with the point of my nose, Naked Guy stood behind his second-story apartment window across the street. The overhead light paled the shadows that would otherwise accentuate any muscles in his arms. As he stretched them above his head, his chest billowed in a slight curve, taut in the high wind of a yawn. He began pulling mindlessly at his dick. “Did I tell you about the time?” “He blew a load?” “It was impressive.” Vlad, the bartender, limped over and clasped Jason on the shoulder. “Announcement?” Jason laughed. “Not tonight, my man. Not tonight.” “Thank Jesus,” Chris said as he texted to his overseas girlfriend. We didn’t know which sea, exactly—but she liked rock climbing, he’d said once, “so she’s hot.” We’d pointed out he was afraid of heights, preferred high rises to high tops, and couldn’t do a standard push-up to save his mother. “It’s motivation,” he said, “to get me in shape.” A pinch on my arm. Manny was smiling, crosseyed, inspecting a black hair between his fingers. “You’re basically a dude.”
“The hormones. I’m falling apart.” Jason let out a great laugh, slapped the bartender on the ass. “Make me something, something like, pure moonshine.” “I can do that,” Vlad said. My beer was flat. Seemingly out of the ceiling, Anna’s face leaned down, kissed my forehead. Before I could respond she was bouncing away to the bar. I wanted her girlfriend, tightly crosslegged and cross-armed in her stool, to glare at me, to start something. But her attention was on Anna, who was leaning precariously over the bar, calling out for a sugary shot like the college kid she never was. “Why’s she play you?” Manny asked, chugging the rest of my beer. “Ugh. Let me buy you something strong. Not from Vlad.” “No, that’s okay.” “Aw, Naked Guy! Come back!” Jason’s hands clapped in the air. My wallet slipped, slid across the floor. Manny slapped his arm across the table to stop the bottles. Across the street, the apartment was dark. “He’ll be back,” Anna called out in an Austrian accent. I could see the pattern of her bra under the red bar lights. Black stripes. “Manny?” “Yes, Jason.” “How’s Bradley?” Chris snorted. “Bradley was okay,” Manny said. 8
Naked Guy — Katharine Monger
“Was?” “Was,” Chris repeated. Anna was leaving. Jason sighed. “Look. I’d heard, but I didn’t want to tell you. I’d heard he was an asshole.” “The fuck?” Chris said, still staring into his phone. Jason nudged him and asked, “Doesn’t feel like sexting?” “No, I was—no, what? Why’d you let him go out with that freak?” “Fuck I didn’t say he was a freak, I said he was an asshole.” “He wasn’t that bad,” Manny said. “Forget it.” I turned to him. “You’re too nice, Manny. That’s your problem.” “No, no, hear me out.” Jason downed his blue moonshine, then paused, staring at the empty glass. “It’s okay, really,” Manny said. “And never take relationship advice from J,” I said. “That’s not fair! I’ve had my share of ladies.” “Exactly,” Chris said. “Manny doesn’t need a bitch.” Manny stood. I stood. He cocked his head. “I’m going out for a smoke,” he said. “I need some air,” I said. “He was one of those, those, lost souls, you know?” Jason called after us. Manny and I squeezed past Anna, who was kissing her girlfriend’s palm in the entry. Outside the bar, I could hear drivers driving too fast down a parallel main street. Drivers driving, drinkers drinking. But our street was quiet, the bar surrounded by mid-century family homes, some with families sleeping—but most empty, their college student inhabitants out taking chances. Houses with two, three porches, each with a different personality, a different subset of Midwestern culture. Folding camp chairs, dirty plastic tables. Porch swings. Bar stools. Couches. Posted on the bar door was a sign, “OUT OF RESPECT FOR OUR NEIGHBORS, PLEASE LEAVE QUIETLY.” Manny danced around the breeze with his lighter. Eventually he gave up, sat on a concrete garden wall. “I wanted to like him,” he said.
“I know.” “Guessing game. A big guessing game.” I didn’t ask, but I thought I knew what he meant. Anna shrieked. Inside, she was a monkey on her girlfriend’s back, pointing over and above us to Naked Guy, standing in his lighted apartment window with a gun to his head. I wondered who hadn’t told him his mustache wasn’t doing him any favors. We both jumped when the door slammed behind us. “This happens all the time,” Jason said.
Utopia Nashae Jones She chewed the bone down to the bristle. “Slow down.” She heard the remark, but kept grinding her teeth down on one of the empty bones. “Antoinette,” her mother hissed. She couldn’t stop. Her fingers slipped through the remaining meat, gliding through, tearing mercilessly. Her mother pulled back her arm. “Slow down girl. You’ll choke yourself.” Antoinette looked over at her mother, her heavy tongue cleaning the cracks of her teeth. A smile flitted across Antoinette’s face, her cheeks puffing with pleasure. “You’re eating like it’s your last meal.” Antoinette ignored her. She felt the sauce enter a la seconde on the base of her tongue, expertly flowing to an intrinsic rhythm. She traveled through the corn, her fingers segregating different colors, textures, shapes, and sizes. The corn muffin broke easily against Antoinette’s rapt fingers, raining down in sad arrangements onto her synthetic dish. “Is it good?” her mother asked. Antoinette had proven her admiration. She nodded. Her face was slicked wet, a badge of honor. She simply nodded her head, her hand still wedged in a slab of pork. “Good baby, good.” Antoinette cleared the remaining food on her plate. She sat back, satisfied with her work, a
sense of remorse creeping up into her. “May I be excused?” Antoinette asked. The feeling rammed through her, catapulting down her organs, riveting her liver, clenching her stomach. Her mother nodded, her own plate still a brilliant utopia. Antoinette made her way to the bathroom, her intentions clear. She could feel the emotion eat through her, rapidly whisking through her limbs. Control, that’s what she needed. She bent against the porcelain, circling it with the base of her hands. The water, murky and uncertain, taunted her. She knew where to place her finger. She’d done it many times before. When she finished her slate was clean and utopia awaited her return.
Laura Jean Schneider
Interpreting the Diagnosis I have the hand of God inside of me. She is angry and trapped. My family was helpless to save me as a child. They did not know the correct medical term, but even if they did I was raised above them, screaming, as the hand held me firmly. I cannot fight that which is within me. Better by far to surrenderâ€” accept unconditional dust. Autism is God. She is angry, but not beyond help. She is love. And my lacks, deep neurological caverns pitted by doubt, are where my strength grows. I thrive, weed-like, my soulâ€™s tender rebar. Against all bets.
Melissa Watkins Starr
Southern Girls Sift the flour, adore the cool smoothness of it. Forget cups, no need for spoons. Palm the shortening, pinch it in, pour on buttermilk. Work toward a ball thatâ€™s soft like a womanâ€™s breasts. Sweet Southern biscuits take a fast oven, emerge golden, edible heirlooms.
The Revivification of Charles Josiah West, Age 82 Look: I am dancing. I don’t remember the last time I danced, but remember how. I am dancing toward you. My skin is rough palimpsest with a thousand stories lurking forgotten underneath tonight’s. I keep folding at the joints, crinkling at the edges; I trip over my shins as the floor clears.
playing the puppeteer. I am more full of grace than I ever have been. I am more graceful than I ever will be. See: the lights reflect off the floor like faint, cool coals. Watch: I strut across them for you. I am receiving signals from parts long presumed dead, from ghost towns where oil has been suddenly struck. I am a revived libido. I am a resurrected id. I am the holocaust that happens in the epilogue. Place your pretty hands on your thighs; remain seated and prepare yourself.
It’s coming easier now. Listen: air whistles through the soft blue tubes twined up and down my limbs. With a choking, glottal sound the blood begins to move again. Each jounce of my narrow shoulders carries me closer to you. Each thrust of my hipbones sprinkles my path to you with rust. They will say I am too old, the way they say that you are fat. I say that you are ripe; I say that I am ready. Who will you believe?
Listen: the music never stops. Look: I am dancing across the floor. See: I am coming. I am coming for you.
This is what age can be: a suit half-full, shaking itself across a gleaming floor to the never-ending throb of music; a blunt blade yearning for the stroke of the whetstone. A shot of whiskey glows in my stomach, the liquid hand of an angel
(The Passion of) Joan of Arc Some man asked me recently if I had any regrets about her. Did I feel I might have treated her too harshly? No, I told him; there was no other way. You try it, I said. You take a woman down from the stage and set her before the eyes of the world, then take God and put him behind the eyes of the woman. You try it. Anyway, I knew it would not kill her. Contrary to what you’d think, we grow more malleable as we grow older. (Can you imagine, for example, if I had picked some brittle nineteen-year-old ingénue for the part? She would have fractured the moment we clipped the first tress.) Indeed, at times I felt that I feared her more than she did me. In the final analysis, I told him, none of this is of any consequence: She is dead now, and her tears are still wet. Whatever I put her through, I’m sure she would see the value in that. For God’s sake, I told him, look at it again, from start to finish: The trial, the temptation, and the immolation. Watch her through the flames, I said, at the end of her climb to the stars, and tell me you do not hear the fire building, that you do not feel it rising in your own skin. It is that fire that acquits me.
J. Howard Shannon
The Endless One need not be a Chamber—to be Haunted— Emily Dickinson (poem 670)
M. Brogan It’s snowing here where I am and I’ve gone out to stand between the red spruce and Pennsylvania pines to smoke a cigarette. I can hear the snow fall and the Allegheny whisper down below as it passes old towns and forgotten campfires. I could really be anywhere, but I am here, dug into the snow with a shovel, and a wool blanket wrapped around my back. I pretend you put it there, but the fire has long gone out and now mud stands where ashes once were. The scent of burnt leaves and wool and breath circle around my nose. I have come here to bury superstitions. My glasses begin to fog up so I take them off. It reminds me of the time we were hiking in the Carpathians and I couldn’t see you any longer in front of me, so I stopped for a moment to try and dry my lenses off, but my sweater was soaked with sweat. When I looked up, you were a moving blur up ahead on the trail, slowly yet steadily going away, and I thought about calling out to you, but let the moment pass and took a long swig from my canteen instead. That night we became friends with a stray dog and drank mulled wine in a hut with a mountain man of few words. The memory of it makes me smile. It is a series of clips with no words, as if the sound were turned off. I can’t remember what we said to one another. I can only feel my feet unwilling to thaw, smell the wood splitting open in the stove and cloves and cinnamon in the hot
wine, and see the fog as it settled over the dark forested mountains, meaning colder weather was coming in. It is a story I want to write down, but I can never write the first word. Now I stand in snow, the wool blanket around me catching flakes on its fuzz. There is house behind me, one I had built and we always come back to. It’s small with a cobblestone fire place and a creaking porch, it has only one floor and two rooms, and the kitchen can’t fit a table. It is hidden high up in these mountains, in the highlands of Appalachia, where mining and drilling for oil were lifelines, but now are abandoned holes in the earth. This is what the first settlers once called the “frontier,” and you and I called a “small wilderness.” You’re back inside the house now, cooking something on the gas stove. I think I can hear the whistle of the tea pot, and you moving around swiftly, wasting no time, no space; you were always good at that sort of thing: doing, making, moving. The sound of your movement is comfort. The familiarity stretches out towards me like open arms and I forget that I am cold. You are always putting things away and I am always standing somewhere, like now, looking up at a darkening sky. I close my eyes as if I can sleep out here and suddenly we’re in a bar, hiding from a torrential thunderstorm, in some small town, in some obscure place we’ll later call one of our homes 17
somewhere else. You’d had too much to drink when you said our times together were tragic because “we never know which one is going to be the last,” because we did something bad by living, by not suffering enough over there. We got off too easy. But I pleaded; I said you were the best thing that ever happened to me as if this meant we deserved some kind of peace. You said we spent too much time in shoe-boxes together, Maybe I do that all those shacks we lived feel too much in made us restless. And oh, now I can feel or maybe I am the restless interior of your a coward. thoughts and how they hung over us like broken shards of glass as we sat in the hotel restaurant, waiting for the taxi back to the airport, only mere hours left before starting back to Afghanistan. We stared out the glass windows onto the busy traffic, the food we ate, becoming rocks in our stomachs and I wanted to say it would be okay, but I didn’t know the first word. We had made a home between one place and another, between each other, something that moved us instead of held us still. It felt like being caught in a wave, right as it crashes over you, out of control and all the while thrashing, trying to swim and breathe; moving, moving, moving without any control over yourself, yet somehow I managed to lift the coffee cup to my lips, look over at you, and notice the sadness in your eyes. Earlier that day I told you I wanted to be alone and walked for a while in the crowded, ancient city, hands in my pockets. I knew where I was going. I went back to that church, the medieval one by the English language bookstore, the one so tiny it’s really just a room and sat on a flimsy bench in the damp air and watched a nun blow out candles. I prayed that we would all come home. And we did, so why does it hurt? The bad feeling has bored a hole in me that we have tried to fill with long conversations, with jokes, with laughter, but like that time we were lost hiking in a rainforest, as the night crept up and we were encircled by trees, it rises to the surface again, that feeling that something hides and waits for us. It has become the apparition 18
The Endless — M. Brogan
and look back on fondly, where they call us “honey” and the old boys play pool and laugh at our dancing. We are in the heartland, where food is the essential way of celebrating, of giving thanks, a way of life. The bar is a place cast out of one of those road-trip movies where several young people decide to cut through the Midwest on their way to New York City or Los Angeles. They all wear tall boots here, wading boots or cowboy boots or work boots and they keep saying we are “out-of-towners,” but our towns aren’t that far apart. This is where we came from, these are our roots: old industrial towns that have turned into strip malls and Chinese take-out; where farming used to be a vocation and now is a gambling game, where people shake your hand like their name depends on it, names that go back generations and carry certain weight, names that are painted on mailboxes at the heads of long, gravel, driveways. You are whiskey and I am beer and we’re dancing to an unfamiliar country song. The bartender says, “That’s bluegrass, sweetheart. Real Americana,” and without looking up, she pours another shot for you. The fiddle has a sound of longing, the singer’s voice the sound of angst. No one knows us here and I take comfort in this, but you are good with strangers. They tell tall tales. You listen and smile and politely call them out on their bullshit as I play another song on the juke box that means something. It’s the song that was playing on a juke box, in a bar, on that Army base before we shipped out to the mountains, after we laughed about body bags and called ourselves “too sensitive.” But maybe I do feel too much or maybe I am a coward. I confessed this to you one time at four in the morning, because neither of us could sleep. That night you were in a burning truck and I could not get to you. It was a dream that I started having over there. But, now I fear I’m going to lose you. It is a never ending aching. I have not told you this. I wanted to, the night you cried in that hotel room, in that northern city where everyone wore flannel. It was the dead of winter there and we were on one of our journeys, trying to reach some precipice just to say we were somewhere else, just to be
The Endless — M. Brogan
that stands at the foot of my bed, it has become dread, it has become the moments with you before we part and for that, I am sorry. I hear you now though, as if we never spent time away from each other, moving about and singing to yourself, because you find it hard to be still, a reassuring sound even when the dark was so thick we tasted it, the flares casting shadows on mountains, making monsters out of nothing. My mind, my mind playing tricks on me. You’re dreaming of that night now, when we waited for a firefight that never came and I’m telling myself I don’t need you to sleep. But here you are, it’s raining, it’s raining harder than it ever has and we’re outside that bar again, sleeping in my car. Our last conversations were the hardest. We were beginning to feel older and all the running had to stop. We both weren’t saying something, what was it? What was it? It’s all in my head, so my tongue won’t work. So now I’m always trying to get back to you, back to you, back to you, with words, with thoughts or by driving miles to nowhere in the middle of the night, as if I’ll come upon you on the side of the road. You are far away or you are right here next to me. We’re patrolling a village in an Afghan valley where everyone stares. Now they’re trying to kill us and they don’t even know our names. No, we’re home and dancing in a bar, or I’m grabbing your arm to steady myself on a cobbled, narrow street, somewhere in Europe. No, we’re on the side of the road laughing because we are totally lost or we’re on a train cutting through valleys and looming dark forests and there’s no heat, but we’re drinking cold beer anyway. It doesn’t really matter where we are, does it? We’ve made a home of running. We’ve been hundreds of places and we can’t quite grasp them, can we? They are only an endless movement, an endless angst at the end of your words. I’m driving to see you now, it’s been months, no years, and I’ve written hundreds of letters and none of them I could send. But I keep buying stamps. And I’d break glass, I’d break bone, I’d break promises to get to you, but I can’t quite get there to the burning truck. But that was just a dream. It never happened, not even in those
war zones. We have crossed worlds, you and I, and we got out just fine. I want to reassure you of this, maybe myself, but I can’t. Suddenly, I can no longer hear snowflakes falling on pines, or feel the tips of my fingers, so I stand up and turn around, but there is no house. There is only forest. I try to light another cigarette with my lighter, but the fuel must be low. The sound of its scratching echoes through the trees and suddenly I remember the time we fell asleep holding hands. You are my home and I can’t go back. What is this that crawls up inside me and sits at the bottom of my stomach? I lay down in the waves of snow now cresting high around me. I am tired of being brave. I am a coward. You would hate that I feel this alone. But I enjoy the sound of silence, the way snow rests on the limbs of trees like they’re telling old tales, whispering. I close my eyes to try to hear them, imagining they’re our memories. “You’re the story-teller,” you always used to say. But I don’t know how to tell this; I don’t know the first word. I came back to find you even though I knew you weren’t here. These limbs are heavy with memory. I think I will lie down and dream, dream, dream we are somewhere together, facing the darkness that thinks it can consume us. But our story is endless, isn’t it? Someone will be telling it long after we are gone and none of it will be how it really was, but that doesn’t matter. It’s not about the wars anyway. It’s about what comes after.
Four Mile Creek (Kansas) A cottonwood bends at the waist washing its hair in the suds of this fast moving current while upstream the water takes its own slow time filling holes, making safe havens for long-sleeping bass. And at the head, like a promissory note that never pays off, abandoned fields, even their couch weeds all gone to seed.
First Andrew Davis When I was a boy, a chicken wandered here. And I brutalized her. The cord from motherâ€™s secondhand curling iron made an easy noose. I was ready. I preyed on her, pausing when her beady eyes ignited, creeping when she fluttered her molting wings. She would be my first. I pulled her in and felt her delicate bones twist until our eyes popped in unison. I cradled her, gently repositioning her, so I could pick out the parasites underneath her wings. Dirty things. Things that begin small and gorge and multiply and leave things like her limp in ecstasy.
Sarah Ann Winn
Plenty for Birds
post-impression sea glass and fire seep into morning’s husk; dreamglow burns in wide echo, numinous to the touch— the oceans are spilling slightly, moving the land, here where our house is built— and who will apologize? not the heavens. not the oceans. not us.
a little less i’ve known ray for a while now mostly from bars he always has on these indiana jones looking hats and dances badly with the pretty girls he’s good for a drink or 2 and maybe even some shots if it’s payday the problem with ray like most everyone is he likes to talk a lot ray talks mostly about art last time i saw him he wanted to know what my muse was since i’ve never thought about that i couldn’t answer “c’mon jimmy what inspires you?”
i shrug “what makes you write compels you?” i had no answers to any of this “how can you write w/o inspiration?” i didn’t know that either probably explains why i hadn’t been writing anything lately “you gotta find your muse man that’s how to get the words flowin’!” i nodded while sipping my drink hoping ray’d buy me another then as we’re waiting in line a girl came up to me who knew my name and said we’d met at a party a couple of weeks ago
she didn’t look familiar to me at all so i gave her a blank stare and she glared at me as she walked off “shit jimmy hot girls always seem to know you but you hardly ever remember them!” it was true but i didn’t care i told ray that he should go after her maybe show off the hat, those dance moves he agreed and left me money for the drinks “that’s my muse!” ray yelled pointing in the direction of the girl alone then i waited in line knowing a little less about everything
The Thief You stayed while we were gone, taking milk from the refrigerator, parting your dark hair with my comb. On a Sunday evening in November in nineteen sixty-six, you made our kitchen table and the bathroom sink your own. And when your hair was parted and the milk was gone, you took the quarters from the coffee cup and packed our wedding gifts and winter clothing. You left the front door always open and each lamp light on.
Cave-diving George Michelsen Foy In the sunken cave everything is gridded with day-glo string. This is necessary: Tunnels and fissures branch off into the karst and red clay, and most are unexplored. To lose her way would be unthinkable. She has eighty minutes of air at the beginning of her dive. Swimming like this, 20 meters under the halocline and 100, sometimes 150 meters into side caves that are black without their lights, the threat of suffocation doesn’t scare her. It feels familiar. The grid Jenny works is mostly bones. Two weeks ago, on 31-G, Miguel found a mask of Chaac whose features resemble Ned’s. I kept love at bay for a thousand years, the mask tells her, I’ll do it for another thousand. The hotel their team lives in occupies one side of a square between jungle and beach. Indians sell replicas of what Miguel is finding in the cenote and sometimes, fake as they are, she buys one. Women avert their eyes. “They think you’re a witch,” he said, “with your hair, and how you fidget.” Ned didn’t come this time, he had the grace to spare her that. What did come to San Luis this year are the cartels. Black SUVs trawl the zócalo. The men inside wear sunglasses, even at night. Half her team is bodyguards—everyone, in fact, except Alethea, Miguel, Jenny, and a sonar techie from Cancun. To be a bodyguard here means you have made a deal with the Zetas. At night she sits in the square with Alethea, with Miguel sometimes, always with a guard. As a matter of routine she
brings the shoulder-bag holding passport and notebooks and the plastic case that protects her regulator. After a few beers she takes the mechanism from its case and turns it over and over in her fingers, feeling its solidity, the youth and brightness of its springs. Land crabs snicker in the dark. Men scrape guitars and sing songs about what men sing about. She writes nothing in her notebooks. The bones she finds, tags, and brings to the surface, are those of girls. This does not bother her. What bothers her is that it doesn’t bother her. Sometimes Alethea comes to her bed, sometimes Miguel: theirs is an open team, a college of loose liaisons. She recalls the umami taste of Alethea between her legs. Of Miguel she remembers nothing. Of Ned she remembers words: Your indifference will kill you. To which, of course, she shrugged. Often she dreams of the cenote. In her dreams she can breathe underwater without mask or regulator. It is like breathing night. And the girls come to her, these girls whose hearts were cut still beating from their breasts, they come to comfort Jenny.
Lac Bernard When this afternoon has long been forgotten, the spin-drift of silence will hang lightly, fullness of the last chord before refrain. As your brush stains and floods do your thoughts drop, spiccato, or fold over like heavy sheets: the last forgotten under the weight of blankness as a fresh page is scratched with line. The stroke of your brush, the dip of the oar, a word repeated, growing meaning. A stillness, echoing off the docks and canoe, a wall of sound between fallen branches as we glide toward the marsh. When the heron flaps away we let go our breath, not knowing it was held.
Love in the Age of Choler Tell me the honey hasn’t tell her with your flooded tongue what everyone wants: adulterated spit through cavities tell him sweet runs mellifluous like masturbatory dreams like rubber dolls sticky bent at the waist not at the knee tell him it’s a fantasy propped trussed against
tell me there’s a delay between the thud our sugarstiffened legs still nauseous and running
and the pain
Drafting to Redeem Myself the cusp of your skull drug by
in your hair
folded on center
raked with ink
Iâ€™ve smeared myself
into a corner
exhuming iliac crests
as fast as
Laura Jean Schneider
Didnâ€™t Make the Winter
The Best Days Sarah Kilch Gaffney When the love of your life is diagnosed with cancer in his twenties, remember to live every day the best you can, because it’s all you’re going to be able to do. When they tell you it’s benign, but it will kill him because it’s in his brain, remember, dear God, it’s his brain. When the oncologist says terminal, believe him, don’t try to pretend everything is going to be okay. On the other hand, pretend every day that everything is going to be okay, because there is no other way to make it. Be grateful you married young. Get used to hearing, “I’m so sorry” from strangers over and over again. Unintentionally, make your post-op code for, “everything is going to be okay” his speaking your full name. Laugh that first time, in the darkness and blinking lights of recovery, without realizing you’ll need to use it again. Decide to try for a baby, even when you know everyone will think you’re crazy. Have a beautiful little girl between winter blizzards. Fall in love with her smile before everything falls apart again. Match milestone to milestone: crawling to radiation, running to brain surgery #2, talking to chemo, whole sentences to that fancy proton beam radiation down in Boston. Realize there will come a day, sooner than you can imagine, when her skills will surpass his. Talk about having another baby when things are going reasonably well, but wait until it’s too late and hate a chunk of yourself for the rest of your life because you didn’t fight harder. Know that part of it was kindness. Realize this must
be a little bit what a broken heart is like. Make it through the brain swelling and loss of speech, the seizures and the caved-in face where the muscle has atrophied over the titanium plates. Keep telling him it’s okay even when he can’t talk and can’t remember your wedding day. Avoid sappy country songs. Pray, even though you don’t believe in God, that you won’t be widowed by the time you’re thirty. Pray that your daughter will be old enough to remember that there were good days. Pray that, when it happens, it happens quickly. Keep telling yourself that it’s going to be okay. Hold his hand. Trim his fingernails. Touch his scar every time you cut his hair. Sometimes cry, sometimes hard. Stack wood for peace. Try actual meditation and fail miserably. Cringe when it takes five tries to get an IV in because of all the scar tissue, and try to laugh when he writes you a note about filling the butter dish and it is complete gibberish. Keep thinking that maybe things will turn around. Keep thinking that you’re due for a break, like everyone keeps saying. Know it is never going to happen. Remember what a victory it is when he manages to say, “love you too.” Know that despite everything you keep telling yourself, someday that day won’t come. All those hard days will have been the best days, and you didn’t even know.
The Undercarriage Brian McVety Zachary counted the change that he found under the passenger seat of his navy colored Volvo station wagon. The coins were sticky, having lost their shine long ago: two quarters, two dimes, a nickel, and three pennies “Another seventy-eight cents!” he yelled over the whir of the vacuum. “We’re up to twofourteen!” He added the coins to the others in the back pocket of his jeans. Debbie continued to dig the circular nozzle into the crevice of the driver’s seat. Her curly brown hair fell across her face as she worked. She had bought him the Shop-Vac, upgraded horsepower and all, last June. She yelled back to her husband over its whir. “How is it that you can get french fries stuck under a seat you’re sitting in? There’s no way this would happen if you ate one at a time!” Zachary continued to dig under the passenger’s seat. “I mean isn’t this physically impossible? Wouldn’t you have to place them there or something? The vacuum can’t even suck ‘em up!” his wife yelled to the cracked leather of the seat. She kept her head down, struggling to suck up the last french fry with the nozzle instead of scooping it up with her fingers, as if that thought had never crossed her mind. “Another dime!” Zachary chirped. “And since when are you eating french fries in the car anyway? Shouldn’t I know about this?
What about your cholesterol?” Zachary flipped over the small mat behind the passenger’s seat, revealing two more pennies. “Two forty-one. Enough for a venti from The Bucks!” Debbie shifted to the floor, digging the vacuum hose into the once beige carpet under steering wheel. She struggled to capture the tiny pebbles that seemed to jump each time she moved the nozzle. Sometimes, the vacuum stuck to the carpet, like it was trying to consume too much, the whir growing louder. “And I know the driveway gets muddy when it rains, but it hasn’t rained in weeks. Where does all of this dirt come from? Don’t you Sometimes, the vacuum ever knock off your feet before getting stuck to the carpet, like in?” it was trying to consume “Deb, this is a buffalo nickel! Do too much, the whir you think it’s worth growing louder. more?” Debbie leaned down, working the nozzle under the pedals, the hose of the vacuum stretching straight. A small patch of skin on of her lower back became exposed, along with the top of her worn, cotton underwear, which rode up past her jeans. Two wheels under the vacuum’s base lifted off the ground. It seemed 32
The Undercarriage — Brian McVety
as if the whole thing would topple over at any moment. “When was the last time we cleaned this anyway?” she asked the steering wheel. Zachary continued to hunt for change on the floor. He found another quarter lodged behind the safety belt bolt and wiped off the filth that clung to the coins on his pant leg, before adding it to the collection in his pocket. “Almost at three dollars!” he yelled over the whir. He moved back to behind the driver’s seat to see if there was any he had missed. To balance himself, he put his hand on the middle of the backseat, his fingers finding the spots where the leather was still indented, like carpet when furniture is moved for the first time in a long time. He couldn’t entirely see under the seat, so he reached under blindly, feeling the grit and grunge of the seat’s undercarriage. Debbie inspected under the pedals before turning back towards the driver’s seat one last time. She stuck the hose under the seat, just to make sure nothing was missed. The nozzle found it the same time Zachary’s hand did. The vacuum roared, as if deprived of air. “Deb, hold on!” “Zach, what’s stuck?” The rubbery texture was unmistakable. Zachary pushed it in with his thumb, recognizing the undeniable pliability of a pacifier, his fingers sticky with grime. He didn’t have to look to know that the hard plastic was bright blue with yellow stars. The vacuum did everything in its power to suck it down. Zachary pried the pacifier loose, but did not wipe it off, didn’t even look at it. He shoved it in with the change in his pocket. The sound of the vacuum suddenly ceased. “What was it stuck on?” Debbie asked her husband, as she started to rap the hose around the base of the circular vacuum. “Nothing, don’t worry about it,” he said choking back a sob, “must have been part of the undercarriage.”
Airbag I’ve tried to find something important and let it bleed from the naked tip of my #2 Ticonderoga onto a sunny landscape of blank pages. My success has been limited. So far, all I’ve come up with is something about butterflies. What was it you said to me? With your forehead pressed against the window, drawing heart shapes in the fog, mouth agape, forcing your breath out as your steamy canvas dissipated, you asked “What is winter for?” I shrugged and laughed. Flakes of frost shaped like cathedral spires melted on the pink inchworm of your finger as you touched the tip of my nose. The fog evaporated from the pane of glass and I am tracing the smeared curves left behind. These memories are a bit of hard apple wrapped in thorns that I keep trying to swallow. At least it was quick, not at all like cancer, but like a car wreck— all split glass and twisted metal, leaving no survivors.
In A Dream Of Slow Moving Traffic my mother is on the side of the highway. A black river flows through the delta of her body; her outstretched hands, wounded feet, and her dull eyes, apologetic in a face sinking with gravity. I call out once from the backseat, but the car wonâ€™t stop. Stretched as thin as a rabbit fleeing the hawks and foxes of memory, I hide in dusky forgetfulness near the bottom of brown bottles. I spend hours searching for words I can live with, doing my crossword puzzle in ink on a dreamâ€™s dogeared pages. At my window, crows are flocking, waiting to clean the bones for me as I make angel wings in her ashes at 3 a.m.
Sarah Ann Winn
My 95 I’ve sewn a running stitch back and forth reinforced with years, made a sleeve of back ways. Your promise of speed, you give with one hand and take back with the other ticket cameras, barriers propped up stopping jumpers, preventing the view. I used to be able to see the Susquehanna, before the bridge sides hunched, cement shrug. I used to count barrels left til I reached Delaware, the orange breadcrumb trail led me north. I matched the song of my speed to the passing of dotted lines, I’m pretty sure they’re painted in 4/4. I’d rip along your seam eat you like gingerbread, you snow-dusted treat, you irregular bolt of grey. I’d see the sign for the Havre de Grace decoy museum, which might just be a stand-in for the actual museum or a museum full of art intended to deceive. I don’t stop, just in case.
Sara Ann Winn
Kelly Grace Thomas
Road Trip I think of you on some deserted Midwest highway that hasn’t learned your temper yet. With a shoebox full of ties, you chase the winter. Hold it close. Windows down. Celebrate callous like a trophy. Laugh at those seeking warmth. You are not listening to the CDs I made you. The letter I wrote sits unread in my dumpster among eggs shells and other things that easily break. I’m still picking up the pieces, sorting through all the things others didn’t want. I thought I deserved a goodbye. You thought I should swallow your silence, chew on all the things you never told me. Grant me park-bench pity as the miles between us grow. Your apologies held like rotting Velcro, every lie starting to rip. I sit in traffic on Lincoln, return library books on your old street. You never held my hand. Even before, too busy chasing that winter. The joke always falls upon those with faith. Learn to give up before the punch line beats you down. I turn on the heater with questions I thought kept me warm. I feel pain deeper than wells without echoes, but hug my words tight, knowing never again will the cold sleep in my bed.
Winter Begins in Berlin
And when the cock crowed, My eyes opened; It was cold and dark, And the ravens croaked from the rooftops. Wilhelm Muller lyrics to Die Winterreise
I’ve been coughing ever since I came to Berlin, where the smell of burning sausage is on every corner and cigarette smoke blurs crowds outside bars. Standing, eating currywurst, thick red sauce drips on my shoe. U-Bahn cars screech above pollarded trees reaching for a dimming sky, where afternoon grows colder until night pulls a tight grey stocking over layers: gilded palaces cathedrals museums; an old world panoply of insouciant parlors, vacant cellars, stairs hiss hallways bend under whispers. A wrinkled world spews a scribbled palimpsest onto emptying streets where a green light blinks, Apotheke & a honeyed tenor voice drips Schubert’s Die Winterreise from an iPod player on a counter beside a clerk. She glints eyes brown as copper pfennigs above smudged mascara wings. Her face is snowy with powder dusting lines as secret as a labyrinth & she hands me a bottle that reeks of ivy leaf & pine mold with a label that I can’t read & all through that cold long Berlin night, I’m coughing, sipping syrup from a tiny stolen spoon.
Throwing Stones Dana Roskey That was the year of the riots. None of the expats in Ethiopia will forget that year. Unless it’s Antoine. I wonder. I had met Antoine only a few weeks before. It was one of those idle days when I could walk all the way down the hill to Arat Kilo. Arat Kilo is the name of a district in Addis Ababa. It’s a piece of the old city, the imperial city, bestowed with mid-century ministry buildings, Parliament, and expansion campuses for the university. It hosted the city’s Orthodox cathedral and the offices of the Patriarch. But my Arat Kilo was a district of tiny cafes lining dirty streets. There was one on the road toward Piassa, one that had internet. The storefront room had space for the proprietors to hang two small decks above the cafe floor, making the place feel like a fifteenth-century caravel. Two opposing staircases led an unsteady way up. On each decks were two rows of three computers, facing the wall and facing the plate glass windows. The machines were slow as you could imagine. Each email could take five minutes. I had logged out, and was waiting for the attendant when Antoine came in. He was a lanky white guy with dreads nearly to his belt. He had a goofy smile. He sat at the station behind me, swung around in the ancient swivel chair, reeled and had to reach for the ground. We laughed. “That’s a long way down,” he cracked in an accent immediately recognizable
as French. He had to wait for the attendant to begin, and we chatted. “How long have you been in Ethiopia?” “A long time,” he replied.Who could you be writing to?” he asked me cheerfully. “You are more far away.” If the words tumbled awkwardly, his accent was musical. “Nobody writes to me anymore.” “So why did you come to an internet place?” He shrugged, and said something about hope always pouncing. He had his own set of adages. Being a rather round-eyed Rastafarian, he often reached for Biblical references, and mangled them in some charming way. He explained himself once, rather cryptically, with a quote: “And now after the king has satisfied the every desire of the Queen of Sheba, she has returned to the land of Cush.” He spread his arms and added, “Here I am.” We met up again, this time at the Romina Cafe in old Arat Kilo, and we told our stories. His was simple. He had left Paris, predicting plague, and he had come to Ethiopia. Here he had stayed. By the time we met, it had been four years. He had never bothered to renew his visa, so he was illegally in the country, and doubtlessly owing thousands in fines. He was effectively trapped. Antoine didn’t care. He sat on hillsides and smoked weed. Sometimes he traveled. He said he had children in a few cities around the country. 41
years ago in the poor neighborhoods below the U.S. Embassy. I volunteered to lead occasional lessons in English language. This school was a work in progress, as it turns out, only the earliest grades to start, but designed to grow a new grade every year, like a Hydra sprouting heads. Suddenly, in late My lessons were shouting autumn, it all liturgies of alphabet and sight words, spiced with sparked up again. laughter and with songs led by the teachers. The children were amazingly disciplined and modest. They were amazingly poor, some wilting with hunger, like tender shoots left too long in the sun. Antoine slept on the floor of the second room, and he prepared for his journey by sorting his effects repeatedly and packing his shapeless rucksack. Events overtook us. The elections in May had been hotly contested. Against the party in power were ranged a handful of others, but none as popular as the one that seemed to have been exported from the U.S., the one gestated among the Diaspora. The leadership were largely intellectuals living abroad, humanists delivering a platform of common sense. It was patently obvious what would happen. Things never quite settled down after the disputed election. There had been riots at the time. Some people were shot, some were jailed. Suddenly, in late autumn, it all sparked up again. The catalyst was something to do with the announcement of election results, delayed and delayed again for fear of protest. The cab drivers of the city had lined up behind the opposition. On this day, they had agreed to sound their horns all morning in support of the CUD party. An innocent enough appeal to the people, but somehow it ended in bloody clashes with the police. Antoine and I knew nothing about this. We were at my friend’s school. I had been bringing Antoine to school, thinking that with his goofy ways he would be great with children. I was mistaken. He stood aside with grim detachment. I had assigned him to teaching the kindergarteners some French numbers and 42
Throwing Stones — Dan Roskey
This he presented with some pride. Procreation was a religious duty. I visited his latest domicile, a place he rented for about USD 25 per month. It was beyond Kidane Meheret, the church that stood at the end of her curving asphalt road, on a wooded hill. The hut was in the valley nestled behind the church and underneath Mount Entoto. It was a one-room mud house, loosely part of a compound owned by a family of weavers. The man of the house, standing in a dark doorway in the larger house beside the mud path, standing in jeans dyed white in the seat in a sad mimicry of style, eyed us with a malicious glare. I waved, and he slowly nodded, leaned another inch into the doorway. The bathroom was a shared pit inside collapsing walls of thin branches loosely tied together. It reeked of its years of use. I couldn’t help but retch while trying to pee, standing carefully among the greasy deposits on either side of the hole. I invited Antoine to crash at my place for a few days. He had announced he would start making his way south to the Bale Mountains by the weekend. I was living nearby, in Shiro Meda, renting two square rooms made of concrete, located in the back of a middle class family’s walled compound, rooms originally designed to be servants’ quarters. I had been escaping my escape, taking half a year’s break from teaching in Rome. I made rude jokes about trading the American colony for Mussolini’s. Maybe the ruins I would see in Addis Ababa would be legitimately Italian, and not the movie sets crafted by a hundred rich restoration firms. That was all bravado. I was just hoping for something simple. It wasn’t simple. The streets were intense with activity, dense with crowds and chaos. Every surface was rough: battered corrugated iron, roads made of rocks and mud, or roads made of asphalt pitted and cracked, nothing flat, nothing even. Daily life was a stuttering dance, electricity and water cutting out, food in the restaurants appearing and vanishing, people showing up late and laughing at nothing at all. A friend had launched a little school a few
Throwing Stones — Dan Roskey
phrases. He did so with a gruff voice, standing at the head of the class and bending forward at the waist in an oddly formal, solicitous way. The teacher was a slight young Ethiopian, very lively. She translated Antoine’s Spartan lessons with much theater, and the children managed to have some fun and some laughs anyway. Suddenly, the parents had returned to the school, and they were gathering their kids and taking off in a hurry. The kids had only been there an hour or so. The teacher started getting calls, and started getting scared. The school guard, a dark-skinned local youth, built like a bullet, advised us to stay at the school for a while. Antoine didn’t like taking orders, and he tried to convince me to leave, but just about then we heard the first shots. The violence began that morning in the Mercato, in the west side of the city, and in the northern precincts. Shiro Meda was one of the latter. The school was located on a side road, several hundred meters off the larger, dirt road that led steeply down the hill, down from the asphalt road by the embassy. We were hearing guns, and the sound of people wailing and howling and whistling. Antoine and I step out of the school grounds. Standing in front of the school, we were relatively safe. From there, we were able to witness several waves of confrontation on the dirt road. As we watched, several boys run up the hill, throwing stones. As they run back down, they were followed by federal police with guns. We watched as they stopped to shoot. Then they pursued. They were accompanied by the hooting and whistling of women in their houses. It was the very sound of shame. Antoine and I just stood there stunned. It was the first time I had seen men shoot at men. I was powerless to form a thought. Antoine’s face was a study of concentration. But he said nothing. If someone had been hit, would we have heard? Were the police aiming over the kids’ heads to frighten them? Even so, releasing live ammo among our hills, our hills full of people! The truth is we would never have heard about it if someone were shot. Bullets were fired, and the hills absorbed them. It’s as if time, the
ultimate arbiter in Ethiopia, took them, like fog swallowing light. We retreated into the school. The guard and the teacher took care of us. No one left the school that day, once the children had all been retrieved. The staff all lived too far away, and they would not let us leave. All day we heard the sounds of strife, and at night we camped out in the classrooms. The guard and a visiting friend teased the teacher, as she bustled around a propane stove warming bits of food for us, preparing tea. We gathered around the guard’s portable radio, and it felt like we were dissidents in old Eastern Europe. By morning, things had settled down sufficiently for us to return home. We had to walk; all taxi services had stopped. Shops and businesses, and our little school, were all closed down. This would carry on for a week. I spent my idle days walking all the way down the hill to old Arat Kilo, where a few canny shopkeepers broke ranks. Otherwise, I would not have eaten. I walked slowly back up the hill to my house in Shiro Meda, amid the stream of hardy citizens lining each side of the road, chatting and laughing, as though, in the end , this will have been little more than a holiday. I lay in bed at night, staring blankly into the darkness. I might have been excused if I had longed for “civilization,” if I had wished for Roman cobblestone at sundown. But I didn’t. I was mourning, but I wasn’t scared. And I couldn’t despise the place for its turmoil. The spontaneous strike was eventually broken. The government declared that business licenses would start being pulled. Magically, taxi pulled out from their alleyways one day, and all was back to its shout and growl. It was like a Hollywood stunt: city comes to life. By then, Antoine was gone. I never saw him after we left the school. We walked up the dirt road together, and his jaw was set. He never uttered a word about what had happened. We bid each other be safe, and that was it. He walked away, kicking dust down the margin of the embassy road. I wondered about him after that. I pictured him lying back on the grassy slopes of the chilly 43
mountains down south, meditating on what had happened. I was pretty sure nothing he saw would make him reconsider Ethiopia. And nothing would challenge his stern and strangely permissive Old Testament visions. If anything, he would shake his head when thought of Addis Ababa. And of me. He would tell his grandchildren that he had prophesied the events of that year. “Vanity is vanity,” he would say, quoting Ecclesiastes, “and nothing under the sun will have its season.”
Throwing Stones — Dan Roskey
Kitengela In the small town called Kitengela, there is a long road with busted white buses, men hanging from the doors, money gliding in the sky. Here, people are ashen and sit silently, unsmiling. The sun blazes overhead and the coming of the rain can be timed to the hour, sometimes the minute. Women stroll the streets in long skirts, hair braided each day. The children collect the rain to flush toilets. These people die from disease, starvation, abandonment or the white bus smashing their faces. The mothers step on them. One future gone, and less to pay. Then a cloud comes along, turning their colorless faces. It brings the rain that everyone is praying for. Each day they fall in love with it. When it leaves, the sun comes.
I Prefer My Flag I prefer my flag be swallowed up in scarlet stripes symbolic of your first timeâ€” when you hang the soiled bed sheet from the hotel balcony, the flag-stars sync up perfectly with Andromeda.
Natural Enemy Robyn Ryle I was fishing on the beach down by the house on a Monday. Monday’s my day off. It’s a crowded beach, and there was a family. Big family. Lot of kids. Black family. The kids are all runnin’ around. They’re gettin’ knocked down in the surf. The waves are pulling off their shorts. They’re wearing shorts, not swimming trunks. They’re dark-skinned, hell, for all I know maybe they weren’t black. Maybe they were Mexican or something. They’re runnin’ around. I’m lettin’ them get in my tackle box. Play with the shrimp. Dangle my handmade lures in each others’ face and scream and run away. They’re nice kids. I don’t tell them, but out on the bar I see this fish. I can’t tell what it is at first. I’m talking to the little dark kids playing in my tackle box. I’m looking at this fish. And it’s a shark, I see. A bonnethead shark. A decent-sized one, but the kids, they’re not in the water. They’re just on the beach. Maybe they can’t swim. I think a lot of blacks can’t swim. The shark, though, it’s not moving. And I’m watching it. It’s just laying out there on the bar, and I’m thinking, What’s it doing? What’s that shark doing just laying there on the bar? They tell you sharks can’t stop swimming or they’ll die, but that’s not necessarily true. They can slow down. They can tread water. They can do a kind of moving that’s not really moving. “I’m going out to the bar,” I say to the little black kids, and they get real quiet. They don’t say anything. They line up on the shore and watch me like I’m getting on a spaceship and heading to Mars. I stop in the drop-off there, the water up to my neck, and look back. The kids are a dark line against the
white sand of the beach. Lined up tall to short and completely silent. I start to think, These kids know something I don’t. I start to think, These kids have set me up. I start to think, These kids are waiting for blood. I wave at them, and not a one of them waves back. The shark, it’s still there. I get up close to it and it doesn’t move, and finally I realize, the damn thing is dead. Dead and covered with tiny little marks, all in perfect lines along its body. I’m trying to figure out what happened to this shark. “What the hell?’ I say to myself, and then I realize. Dolphins. The lines are dolphin teeth. They drove it into the shallow and killed it, because sharks and dolphins are natural enemies. Give dolphins a chance to kill a shark and they’ll take it. I could reach down with my hands and grab the shark. The holes where the dolphins got it are a bleached-out pink. I think about dragging it back to shore to show the kids. Shark teeth are sharp, though, so I give it a poke with my toe. It rolls over in the waves and little fish scatter every direction. I see its belly is all eaten up, a gaping, reddish hole with biteshaped edges. Little pieces of flesh ripple in the water and float around. You’re standing in shark flesh, I think to myself. I’ve seen a lot of stuff, but I take a step back, away from the dead shark and the bits. I turn towards shore and all the kids are still there, lined up on the beach. The waves almost reach their toes and then stop. They’re waiting for me to come back in.
Thinking of Nothing Thinking of nothing, I remember my fatherâ€™s name, how he spoke it once in the desert where we camped, nearly blind with heat and white sand. All around our tent, syllables echoed and wind swirled our fire to new life. His hands, dark with shadow, drew patterns in the air, alphabet of sighs. I held my breath in a shower of sparks. His green eyes shifted and spoke. Already I could see he would leave, his direction clear, strong legs carrying him away toward the valley of caves. All night, bats streamed overhead, and in the darkness waters tumbled and roared like some forgotten sea.
Angle Roland Leach I only knew an angle of my father. An acute angle. A tiny slice that changed from where you stood. I sometimes caught him in the corner of my eye and thought, thatâ€™s him. Getting out of his truck, dirty from work, pine resin on his arm hair, black oil across his face. Or in the Chrysler with the kids singing. Never was. I tried to look in the wrong direction, hoping he had left something of himself. Just a trace, so had I been a sniffer-dog I could have tracked him. But he was light-footed, shadowless. He came home every day but was never there, came home every day with his one trick of disappearing into light.
Mikey Comes Home When I was eight my father told me Mikey our pet turtle ran away from home. I dusted the aquarium for fingerprints. Made reward posters out of construction paper and outlined Mikeyâ€™s smile with jungle green crayon. I interviewed all three of my sisters and checked under each of their beds. A week later I found Mikey in the backyard. His body was a murder scene on fresh cut grass. An explosion of pink and purple organs from an unknown violence. A shell split into tiny fruit bowls soaked in fresh blood. Flies paraded on a face I could no longer identify. I buried my first body under the lemon tree with a beach shovel. I hosed down the rest of the carcass and watched a piece of intestine slide down a single blade of grass. Dad came outside with whiskey on his breath. He smiled and said what kind of an animal runs away from a home that gives you everything?
Father “Sever my name from yours, then,” you said, your voice thick like lassi sloshing against steel, your hands in usual repose but for the fountain pen clasped between thumb and index finger, whipping through air, measured, sinusoidal. God knows what coalesced inside me— perhaps the malleable pride I inherited from you that we have both, at times, limbered or coaxed or obliged to become armor as well as weapon. But I remember your eyes, the same waxy brown of ploughed soil as mine, our only threat of betrayal, our only leverage on each other — they never could lose the warmth of golden harvest fields we had walked across together in those old days, our footfalls leaving impressions in the cane patch, yours always deeper than mine, and mine missing for furlongs at a stretch when I took care to tread on the furrows you made. I wonder if a tired farmhand going home for supper saw our winding trail and thought that the child vanished among the crops while the father meandered forth towards the dipping sun, the hobnobbing village.
Fatherhood I can feel my father in my womb. How I have starved for his limbs, his hands, his voice to be reborn in me. Now I know the taste of fatherhood. At first, he was but a shadow below the waters of my womb; and then, piecemeal, he began to surface, the bits of him bobbing up in the stream of my senses. It is as if his life has lain latent in my body, holding some elemental meaning for me. Last night he came to me, in the likeness of a snapshot of him standing by his own father. It’s strange to see the two posed together at such a late date. Some submerged tension flows between them, splits them apart. The building in the background is probably the hospital, where his parents have come to visit. My grandfather looks a bearish man, with the same hesitant smile I can picture him wearing when he first came to this country. My father is also stocky; but that is from the medication he was taking. And despite his groggy grin, I can tell he’s self-conscious and uncomfortable, like someone naked. My father was colossal in my dream. He had something pressing to tell. And though I can’t recall the words, I am left with a gut feeling, the current of his voice pulsing through me. I can see myself in him, as if his photo were a double-exposure. Standing on the steps of that brick building belongs to my own set of memories, so fully have I absorbed my father’s form. There is such sense in his image that a separate past seems to have been mapped out for me.
Half-remembered odors and faces race by, potent shadows like tadpoles that tingle my inner body. Maybe it is the graininess of this photo that accounts for the indistinction of ourselves. Yet other snapshots also spark in me the seeds of his distant lifetime. In one snapshot—of myself as an infant cradled in his arms—something seems reversed. A whole body of fatherly feelings fills me. I am that man, planting feathery kisses on this new creature’s cheek. I can hear my own voice cooing into the infant’s ear, the milk of fatherhood pouring from me. Once, napping with my father, I was nestled next to him, taking in the smell of his scalp. He had dandruff, and I stared at those flakes and thought they were snow. Now, lying here, I can feel a child under my own wing. For my arms have a will of their own, striving after the configurations of my father’s arms. It is a gift, this pronounced impression of the past. The twice-born air of my father’s body intoxicates me.
The man’s glance at the camera strikes me as my own sudden image in a minor; my soul’s echo. I know him from the inside out; the same vein of feeling flows through both of us. And the air of his arms, the way they fall from his body, sends a secret flutter through me. I adore my father with a religious-like ardor. As a child, I hadn’t any inkling of his illness, but a whispered conception of a wellspring within him. Though now and then I can catch cadences of the inner voices that charged him to put a pistol to his head. The sense of his suicide crops up like a memory. I can place myself there, in the middle of that nightmarish scene, anticipating the bullet’s warm burst in my brain. Shades of my own voice reproduce his inner workings.
Fatherhood — Matthew Kirshman
From another photo—of my father crouched by a toddler piling toy blocks in a pyramid—I eye myself.
Deep down in me is the same germ, a dark ecstasy stirring in the womb men aren’t supposed to have. No doubt my father was perplexed by his sexual organs. He could not become accustomed to them, and tried to disguise their promptings. The misfit would stay awake at night, listening to the worming thing within, wary over whether his body had betrayed him. How bottled up he must have felt with no one in whom to confide. For in the eyes of others the external condition of fatherhood can look repulsive. Though I suspect he was privately proud. I for one am glowing, grown egg-like with the dream of fatherhood, its symptoms now full-blown. All my thoughts revolve around him. I wish there were a window in my womb to show off the handsome man floating there. Strangers on the street would stop and peek and become mesmerized by the blue pools of my father’s eyes, by his athletic limbs, by his faraway smile. Such a sight would offset my own ungainliness.
Fatherhood — Matthew Kirshman
He drifts in a kind of limbo now: I can hear him talking in the trance-like trills of a nursery rhyme. Though days he’s wide awake, we’re as twins attuned to a private language full of double-meanings and inside jokes. I can feel his mouth forming the soul of every sound that crosses my lips. The same silence threads through our thoughts. In a no-man’s land of darkness, my father comes in flashes. Snatches of his husky, hibernating voice will suddenly become crystal clean irrigating my ear with the fertile intonations of an unknown history. There’s knowledge in those grave tones, a sad and sybillic chant. And the subtle motions of his limbs seem to pantomime my life’s new calling. Some strange, heroic destiny is taking shape inside me. Up spring the traits of my childhood idol—his passionate hands, the throb of his heart, his arms’ restless rhythm. I can feel him rising through the thawing waters of my womb, toward its silvery surface of air and light. 55
My filial labors are almost at a finish. As if through a veil of sleep, I sense him: a giant climbing from my body, his shadow upon my skin, his eyes taking me in.
Fatherhood â€” Matthew Kirshman
Stones A handful of stones sits in my palm, tiny buddhas softly rounded, polished to a glow of graysâ€” time caught in a nugget of earth plumped by the delicate dust of onceliving things that hardened and grew as sunshine warmed cool colors, rains washed them pure, moon brushed a breath of shadow that still gleams beneath their graybrown surface wise in silence.
Aurora, Wǒ de ài When I was a girl, my father taught me to wield a soldier’s blade, taught his Nǚhái crown could not sit on the head of a woman who couldn’t fight her own demons away
Sword extended arm, reach, breathed power into lungs, silver too quick for any suitor to best.
I was my own king
And then she descended, amber red curls catching moonlight, and sword clashed with flesh, lung, knocking breathe away
When I was queen, I learned to breathe jasmine, freckled hipbone the particular shade of pink that was her tongue, learned to cradle my love in tiny arms 58
I carried it to mountain peaks, to castles walls, to her wedding day. My father taught me pour oil on your blade, and I’ve tried but it cannot cut through the rust
Oil and Water
Lately They Have Been Telling Me Lately they have been telling me not to call my mother, suggesting without saying that certain calls at certain times from certain persons
in the utter quiet is not tragic, it is a calmness, a silence that the shrill phone shatters. She clutches
serve only to agitate, to make my mother too painfully aware of where she’s not and whom she is not with.
it, she clutches at the sound of someone once intensely loved but of late forgotten, Hey mom, it’s me!
I rail and I pound my fist— No one has the right to tell me this! I find her in that panic, I don’t trigger it.
and once again all is lost. And so her grandson hits a home run, and there is silence. The tulips explode
But after another and another event: her breathless voice— Rick! Thank god! Come get me now!—
silently into bloom, red, orange, yellow. Her granddaughter falls in love for the first time in silence. And just now a storm
My powerlessness to take her to a safer place, to conjure memories or promise pleasures, interrupting finally,
of blue jays explodes over the crest of the house and drops down into the backyard and swarms silently upon the feeder,
I love you mom, but I’ve got to go, and then calling the nursing station— my mom needs help!— after such turbulence
the limbs, the lawn, and the dog in his pen is flinging himself silently into the air in a delirium, and yes,
at last I get it: the emptiness when she’s sitting in the dark on the edge of her bed in her room
finally it is certain that the season has turned, we have survived another bleak winter in silence.
The Other Woman First, I heard my mother crying in the bathroom. Like a survivor of any disaster, I recall that it was a perfectly ordinary July night, starry and humid, dogs barked, cicadas sang, the neighborhood watchman sent a screeching whistle-call as he circled the block on his bicycle. I stood on the warm epoxy floor and looked into the slat of light between the door and its splintered frame, while the painted window glass of that room diffused the moonbeams, swathed all objects and my skin in a curious deathly blue. She wept like she lived— fiercely, bountifully. Maybe there was too little air for both of us— she drank it in large liquid gulps, wailed through thinned white lips, contracted mouth, placed her hand on her heart, flat palm, heaving chest, pressing, pressing, to no avail, no comfort to be had. How long I must have labored with my breath, harboring it for ages, and then exhaling a storm, wishful and fearful of being discovered. Maybe we are both still there, my mother disintegrating in the bathroom of her married home, and I, an accidental spectator of her grief.
Dispossession For J, with love The south-facing window of your motherâ€™s house opens to a view of your grave. At dawn, after kneeling towards Mecca, she dons her black polyester-blend burka and steps into the narrow sepia-swathed street. At the threshold of the cemetery, she buys day-old rose garlands at a discount from the street-side florist, slips off her leather chappals, tip-toes to you, kisses the epitaph, hangs a garland on each edge of the headstone. Once home, she sits on the window-seat for hours, prayer beads slipping through her fingers, colliding with each other, her eyes never leaving those roses strung tightly together, wilting in the sun. I think of one rainy season of our childhood in that house a fort made out of overturned rattan chairs, the blackboard in one corner, our names on it, our hands covered with chalk dust feeling like sandpaper, and your mother sitting underneath the muted skylight, shelled pomegranate seeds slipping through her fingers, landing dully in a chipped ceramic bowl. She must have sprinkled powdery black salt on them, filled two glasses with milk, spread a dollop of butter on two steaming chapaatis and added a layer of sliced hard-boiled eggs, laid the feast on a plastic tray with painted pink roses on the border, and brought it to us to devour. We must have accepted this bounty with glee, gobbled it all up, gone back to our make-believe lives inside the enclave of toppled chairs. But I can only remember those small clusters of glossy red seeds escaping her fingers, and the gnawing feeling of fine white sand on mine. 62
Contributors Wes Adamson, photographer and writer. Much of what he writes and photographs about comes from the basic understanding of people and environment, gained through the insight of years of experience attempting to interweave it all into a meaningful life. He presently publishes stories as a guest columnist to Cincinnati Enquirer/Tri-County Press. Mr. Adamson, a new exciting writer, recently had his creative writing accepted for publication by River and South Review and his photography published by Driftwood Press. Many of his Imagination By Moonlight book quotes are at Goodreads.com. His creative writing blog site is http://cadamson.blog. com. Sherryl Anders is a mental health professional working with people on the edge, who struggle with serious mental illnesses. After a long hiatus to pursue her academic career, however, she has recently returned to her roots in poetry. Previous work has appeared in Lilliput Review. Aileen Bassis is a poet and visual artist in Jersey City working in book arts, printmaking, photography and installation. Her artwork can be viewed at www.aileenbassis.com. After retiring from teaching art, she began exploring another life as a poet. Her poems are published currently and upcoming in Blue River Review, Untitled with Passengers, Gravel Magazine, River Poets Journal, Spillway, Milo Journal, the Literary Bohemian, Specs Journal, Still Point Arts Quarterly, and others. Demond Blake is a warehouse associate who has traveled the country working odd jobs and meeting various artists, musicians, and nonconformists living life on the fringes of society. He has published poems and excerpts of his novel Slackass in Inlandia, Dead Flowers, and Sixers Review. He lives in Colton, CA with his wife, his preteen son, and a crazy old dog who acts like a puppy. Slackass is his first novel.
M. Brogan, a native of the Midwest, writes mainly flash fiction and poetry and currently lives in Virginia while studying for a Master’s in international relations. Melissa Burton, the co-founder and website developer for LitBridge lives in Dallas, TX. She has a M.S. in Human Computer Interaction from Iowa State University (ISU). Janet Butler lives in Alameda with Fulmi, a lovely Spaniel mix she rescued while living in central Italy. “Searching for Eden” was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2012, “Upheaval” was one of three winning selections in Red Ochre Lit’s 2012 Chapbook Contest. She recently placed, for the fourth year, in the Berkeley Poets annual poetry contest. She is moderator of the monthly Lit Night at Julie’s Coffee & Tea Garden in Alameda, and is a member of the Frank Bette Center for the Arts, where she will teach a poetry course and Italian language class this spring. Karla Cordero is an MFA student at San Diego State University studying creative writing and poetry under Sandra Alcosser and Illya Kaminsky. She is an associate editor for Poetry International and her work has appeared in the California Journal of Women Writers. In 2013 Cordero helped the San Diego poetry slam team place 4th in the country at the National Poetry Slam in Boston. Her awards include the Sarah B. Marsh-Rebelo Fellowship. Andrew Davis is a recent MFA graduate of Pine Manor College. His short story “Peter’s Glasses” is forthcoming in The Oddville Press. His short stories “WInd-Up” and “Paper Doll” can be read in The Rain, Party, and Disaster Society and Black Heart Magazine. He lives in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he is working on his first collection of short stories. He can be contacted at davis.andrew19@gmail. com or at https://www.facebook.com/andrew. davis.188478 63
Jeanine Deibel teaches English and works as an editor. Her work is forthcoming in cream city review, Black Tongue Review, and Whiskey Island, among others. She is the author of the chapbook, IN THE GRAVE (Birds of Lace Press, March 2013). Her second chapbook, Spyre, is forthcoming on Dancing Girl Press in Winter 2014. For more information, visit: jeaninedeibel.weebly.com. Claire Farley is currently a master’s student in the Literatures of Modernity program at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario. A long-standing belief in connection to place and a love of poetry has led her to an interest in the poetics of space; she loves reading and writing out-of-doors. George Michelsen Foy has published 12 novels a couple of non-fiction books. His latest is novel is METTLE, with Univ. Press of New England. He has written for Harper’s, Rolling Stone et al. He teaches fiction at NYU and his flash fiction has been published by Atticus Review, Superstition Review, Journal of Microliterature, among others. He lives in New England and NY. Sarah Kilch Gaffney lives in central Maine with her husband and daughter. She holds a B.A. from Knox College and works for the Maine Conservation Corps. Thomas Gillaspy is a northern California based photographer with an interest in urban minimalism. His work is forthcoming in Streetlight Magazine and Suisun Valley Review. Contact information and more examples of his work can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ thomasmichaelart/ Tom Holmes is the editor of Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose and the author of seven collections of poetry, most recently The Cave, which won The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013 and will be released in 2014. His writings about wine, poetry book reviews, and poetry can be found at his blog, The Line Break: http://thelinebreak.wordpress.com/. 64
Nashae Jones has had her fiction appear in Blackberry, American Athenaeum, and 101 Words magazines, among others. She is currently a graduate student, writer, and reviewer. Rick Kempa lives in Rock Springs, Wyoming, where he teaches at Western Wyoming College. His work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Conte Online, Confrontation, The Healing Muse, and Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose About Alzheimer’s Disease (Kent State, 2009). Matthew Kirshman lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife and two daughters. Before becoming an English teacher, he had a varied career-telephone repairman, bartender, and cook, to name a few. Writing since the early 1980s, his publication credits include: Charter Oak Poets, Dirigible: Journal of Language Arts, Helix, Indefinite Space, Key Satch(el), Phoebe: The George Mason Review, posthumous papers (NothingNew Press), Vangarde Magazine, Xenarts.com, and Z-Composition. Steve Klepetar teaches literature and writing at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota. His work has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. His latest collections include Speaking to the Field Mice, from Sweatshoppe Publications, Blue Season, a chapbook collaboration with Joseph Lisowski, from mgv2>publishing, and My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto from Flutter Press. Roland Leach has three collections of poetry, the latest, My Father’s Pigs published by Picaro Press. He is currently the Poetry Editor at the University of Western Australia for Westerly, and is proprietor of Sunline Press, which has published seventeen collections of poetry by Australian poets. email@example.com Richard Luftig is a former professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio now residing in Pomona, CA. He is a recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett Foundation Award for Literature and a semifinalist for the Emily Dickinson Society Award. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the
United States and internationally in Japan, Canada, Australia, Europe, Thailand, Hong Kong and India. One of his published poems was nominated for the 2012 Pushcart Poetry Prize. Atreyu Luna works in the fields of social services and education. He lives with a talkative kitty in the San Francisco Bay Area. Brian J. McVety is an English teacher at Reading Memorial High School in Reading, MA where he is inspired by his students daily. He lives in Beverly, MA with his favorite person in the world, his wife, Elizabeth. He has not published any fiction before. Bob Meszaros taught English at Hamden High School in Hamden, Connecticut for thirty-two years. He retired from high school teaching in June of 1999. During the 70s and 80s his poems appeared in a number of literary journals, such as En Passant and Voices International. In the year 2000 he began teaching part time at Quinnipiac University, and he began once again to submit his work for publication. His poems have subsequently appeared in The Connecticut Review, Main Street Rag, Tar River Poetry, Concho River Review, Northwind, Innisfree, and other literary journals.
Clapboard House, Blue Lake Review, aaduna, and other publications. Raised in Lahore, Pakistan, Noorulain now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she leads poetry workshops, blogs, and writes on the broad themes of identity, multiculturalism, and the immigrant experience. Blog: http://gollgappay. blogspot.com/ Papercuts Magazine: http:// desiwriterslounge.net/papercuts/ John Reinhart lives in the Weird, between now and never, driving an ancient Mercedes fueled by used vegetable oil, collecting and protecting the discarded treasures in gutters, and whistling combinations of every tune he knows. He is a onetime beginner yo-yo champion, a state fiddle and guitar champion, a high school English teacher, a tinkerer, and certifiable eccentric. His poetry has recently been published in Poetry Nook Magazine, Vocabula Review, Dirty Chai Magazine, and Black Heart Magazine. John Rieder lives in San Diego and teaches composition and literature at Southwestern College in nearby Chula Vista. He was educated at the University of Illinois and UC San Diego. He is also the bassist for the avant-noise duo Secret Fun Club.
Katharine Monger holds a B.A. in creative writing from The University of Iowa and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Composition and Rhetoric from The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is nonfiction editor of cream city review.
Cynthia Ring’s work has appeared in And/Or Magazine, Contemporary American Voices, and the Susquehanna University Apprentice Writer, among others. Her poetry springs directly from her unconscious mind. She currently lives in Nashville.
Katherine Neale, a native Memphian consumed with wanderlust who plans traipsing across Europe for a bit after she earns her Master’s in Education. She then plans on hunkering down to teach. She tends to write about the process of writing itself and the recycling of language.
Dana Roskey has been working in Ethiopia for ten years, building schools and libraries. Before that, she was a teacher in Minneapolis, a poet, and playwright. She has produced several plays in the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and published in small local journals.
Noorulain Noor is a clinical researcher at Stanford University and the poetry editor of Papercuts. Papercuts is a publication of Desi Writers’ Lounge, an online writing community for emerging South Asian writers, run entirely on a voluntary basis. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ARDOR literary magazine, The Bangalore Review,
Robyn Ryle started life in one small town and ended up in another just down the river. She teaches sociology to college students when she’s not writing and has stories in CALYX Journal, Stymie Magazine, Bartleby Snopes, and WhiskeyPaper, among others. You can find her on Twitter, @RobynRyle.
Laura Jean Schneider has traveled all around the United States but prefers big, wide-open spaces and likes to photograph the details she finds within them. Laura Jean currently lives in New Mexico with her husband Sam, seven horses, a Jersey cow, a cat, five chickens, and four dogs. She has a BA from Smith College and is currently pursuing her MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. J. Howard Shannon, a writer and US Army Infantry Officer with over 25 years in the military. He served two tours in Afghanistan—the first in 2005 with 3rd Group Special Forces and again in 2008 with the New York Army National Guard. He currently volunteers as an Assistant Instructor with Horses For Heroes—Cowboy Up! New Mexico Inc., a wellness and skill set restructuring program for OIF and OEF combat veterans. He the author of the short stories “The Jump”—BookPress May 1998 and “Red Flowers”— forthcoming from The War Writer’s Campaign. Melissa Watkins Starr holds an M.A. in English from ODU. A former news reporter, she writes poetry and fiction and works as a freelance writer/ editor. Kelly Grace Thomas, poet, educator and Pushcart Prize nominee is in love with all things literary. Her works has been published in The Emerson Review, aaduna, Aries Journal and many other publications. Thomas also works as a food writer for the Edible Skinny, a blog focused on foodie education and appreciation. She also recently completed her debut novel, The Travis Bannister Conflict. She currently lives in Venice Beach, California where she coaches an award-winning youth slam poetry team. Jonathan Treece was born in Baltimore, and now resides in western Maryland with his fiancé. He has been published in Expressions and Backbone Mountain Review.
H. C. Turk is a self-taught writer, sound artist, and visual artist living in Florida. His fiction has been published by Villard, Tor, The Chicago Review, Streetcake, the Newer York, Gadfly, and Farther Stars Than These. His sound pieces and visual art have appeared on numerous web-sites and radio programs. Sarah Ann Winn lives in Fairfax, Virginia. Her poems have appeared, or are forthcoming in San Pedro River Review, Nassau Review, Portland Review, and Two Thirds North among others. Visit her at http:// bluebirdwords.com or follow her @blueaisling on Twitter. Jeffrey Winter recently finished his undergraduate degree in English at University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He is a married father of two whose work has been published in Pif Magazine, Denver Syntax and Blackheart Magazine.
FEATURING WES ADAMSON / SHERRYL ANDERS / AILEEN BASSIS / ERICKA BECKS DEMOND BLAKE / M. BROGAN / MELISSA BURTON / JANET BUTLER / KARLA CORDERO ANDREW DAVIS / JEANINE DEIBEL / CLAIRE FARLEY / GEORGE MICHELSEN FOY SARAH KILCH GAFFNEY / THOMAS GILLASPY / TOM HOLMES / NASHAE JONES RICK KEMPA / MATTHEW KIRSHMAN / STEVE KLEPETAR / ROLAND LEACH RICHARD LUFTIG /ATREYU LUNA / BRIAN MCVETY / BOB MESZAROS KATHARINE MONGER / KATHERINE NEALE / NOORULAIN NOOR / JOHN REINHART JOHN RIEDER / CYNTHIA RING / DANA ROSKEY / ROBYN RYLE LAURA JEAN SCHNEIDER / J. HOWARD SHANNON / MELISSA WATKINS STARR KELLY GRACE THOMAS / JONATHAN TREECE / H.C. TURK / SARAH ANN WINN JEFFREY WINTER