Apeiron Review | Issue 12

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Spring 2017

Issue Twelve

The Review Staff Editor: Meredith Davis Production Editor: Meredith Davis Layout Designer: Katie Nicksic First Readers: Lauren Kloslnski Xavier Vega

Editorial Hard as ever to communicate in the age of mass communication. Or so the sticky note beside my monitor says, under the headline: ideas for AR editorial. Daily, I find the need for poetry and stories and art as important as they have ever been. I hear the lament of their downfall every day and I don’t believe it. Don’t you believe it either. (Also, don’t let anyone tell you what to believe.) I see more evidence to prove that nothing is more beloved in this life than story, than the sharing of experience, of feeling, of time and place. My infant son loves the cadence of poetry and stories, and not just those of his own children’s books, though a case can be made that there are some out there as good as any classic literature, but whatever I happen to be reading. He approves of much of the work published here. He listens when I read, watching my mouth, and babbling his own commentary here and there. He may even be a harsher critic than I. Part of me would like to get sentimental about words and stories, that they are ultimately for him, for the next generation so they can learn, grow, and experience beauty. And while that is absolutely true, it is not the reason we write. It is not the reason we read. This thing we do is for its own sake. And though we do not create in isolation and what we do connects one to the other, if isolation were all we had we would still create. Perhaps the creating is what keeps the isolation at bay, and though we may feel ever fluctuating, paradoxical, and conflicting commentaries on how we are or are not more connected in the digital age, I don’t believe communicating has become easier despite our perceived level of connectivity. What I do know is we crave story. We crave moments of human experience, beautiful and grotesque, serene and mundane, exciting and chaotic. We have craved it from the time we were born. Possessed of our own stories pouring out through our earliest babbling. Here is my piece to add, to either hold the craving and satiate for a few moments while you read, or to enable a wondrous addiction. -M

Table of Contents Poetry And They Had Dogs of Their Own Mureall Hebert.............................................9

Whole in Dreams Elizabeth Sheets.......................................39

God Only Knows Henry Brookings Whetzel.......................10

Nights Like These Anthony K. Gardner..................................40

Winter Blossoms Ilene H. Rudman.......................................19

Pre-dawn Calls Eric Chiles..................................................44

What I Thought The World Told Me, But Now I’m Not So Sure Mureall Hebert...........................................20

Single Shot to the Head Elizabeth Sheets.......................................45

Drying Up Quinn White...............................................21

Rainbow Robert Beveridge.......................................49

Lexical Semantics Adam Durso...............................................22

Cross Bronx Perspective Eric Chiles..................................................51

The Work Adam Durso...............................................24

To Mancini’s Woman, Resting (I’m Trying to Reach You) Alexandra Kulik.........................................52

the great fire john sweet...................................................26

Toy Rabbit Alexandra Kulik.........................................57

between hope and the need for hope john sweet...................................................27

Good Girl Alexandra Kulik.........................................60

the moment, again john sweet...................................................28

Remains D. Marr.........................................................62

If Only Kathleen Constantine...............................30

After the Threesome, They Both Take You Home Sue Hyon Bae............................................63

Dinner Date Marie-Andree Auclair................................37

My Father’s Beard Keith Dunlap..............................................67

Poetry INDIGO. Jesse Morales.............................................68

Hailstones & Rainbows Ava C. Cipri...............................................101

The Visit Marianne Lyon...........................................69

Five Weeks Before I Left that House Lisa Baird.................................................103

Invitations Kristin Bryant Rajan.................................72

Canada Karen Chen..............................................104

On the Bank of the River Carrie Lorraine..........................................81

Era Elizabeth Morton....................................106

Peanuts Elizabeth Morton.......................................82

Pathology Ava C. Cipri...............................................108

Lumine Lindsey Thaden.........................................83

Welcome to the Museum of Artistic Apology Lisa Baird.................................................110

frida & diego: poema de amor Lindsey Thaden.........................................84 On anticipation of Harriet Tubman withdrawing fifty dollars cash Lindsey Thaden.........................................94 below Oak Hill Timothy Lavis..........................................100

Photography & Illustrations


Sur-Objects U881 Duane Locke..............................................11

Traveling at Home Sarah Bigham............................................42

Sur-Objects U879 Duane Locke..............................................38

The Other Best Friend Carolyn Norr...............................................46

At Night: In And Around Industry: Car Wash, Patterson, NJ Stephen Fretz............................................50

Heidi and Her Babies Joseph Miravalle........................................64

At Night: In And Around Industry: Cement Factory, USS Ling, Hackensack, NJ Stephen Fretz............................................50 Potsdam Sequence #1 Philip Arnold..............................................58 Reading Fabrice Poussin.........................................70 Survival Fabrice Poussin.........................................71 Old Higgins Farm Windmill, built 1795, moved from its original location, now found in Brewster, Mass Jim Ross......................................................90 Adam’s Ale Betsy Jenifer................................................98 Illuminate Betsy Jenifer................................................99

The Year They Went Away Francine Fluetsch.....................................74

Fiction My English is Sucks Simon Barker.............................................12 Dreamcatchers James McAdams........................................31 Everything’s Rosy Susanna Baird...........................................54 Baby Shawn Campbell.......................................86 Delta Tamara Miles..............................................91 Zebra Jeanette Tryon............................................92 The Story of the Woman Who Ate Her Baby Doris Cheng................................................96

And They Had Dogs of Their Own Mureall Hebert

And they asked me who my hero was And I said Madame Curie And I was lying because respect isn’t the same as heroism And they asked again And this time I told the truth And I said my dog And they thought that was a fine answer And they had dogs of their own And they admired their obedience And I corrected them And I explained the truth And it went like this: If I could be like her like she was like she always managed to be then I would be better like her like she was like she always managed to be and they nodded their heads and I wondered if they really understood and I asked who their heroes were and they had answers inked on their hands and I asked again because they were lying and they admitted they didn’t really know


God Only Knows H. Brookings Whetzel god only knows. we have jazz for Saturdays like this, orchestrated upon the empty lawns of the universe. while occupying the most brilliant space, containing a quiet soul within, snuffing a joint into the dew of the grass for it is morning and there are those amongst us with hangovers! good lord, this all-day ritual in short shorts! “I have an older man’s body, and a younger man’s drinking problem!” blasphemous tiresquelch endlessly spun over the concrete which divides, coolly, us from the grass on all four sides... –– and then I am lying on that grass, feeling the dew between my shoulder blades bleeding quietly through my shirt and feeling myself like a perfect demon, at last.


Sur-Objects U881 Duane Locke


My English is Sucks Simon Barker Ping had been in the sealed, windowless mouse breeding room the entire evening and had lost track of the time when someone came up behind, grabbed her shoulders and shouted, “Scared you!”

dancing. Hey?” Stuart did a dance. “Don’t be long. You shouldn’t be working this late anyway. You don’t have to work more than everyone else.” Ping reminded Stuart she didn’t really enjoy dancing and wasn’t working more than everyone. “In China we all work like this.” Stuart shook his head as if he didn’t believe. She explained that she’d withdrawn her conference registration because their lab head, Professor Merry, had said her data still wasn’t ready.

She jumped a little, but wasn’t scared. Only staff with swipe cards could enter the animal facility so there was nothing to be scared about. Looking ‘round she saw Stuart, one of the other doctoral students. His eyes were open wide and his teeth showing. Apparently, he’d come all the way from the sixth floor just to give her a fright. He seemed very pleased with the result. For the next half an hour he hung around chatting until finally he announced he was going back upstairs. He told her to find him after she’d finished and they’d have something to eat at a Thai restaurant in King Street.

“It’s okay,” she explained. “I would be nervous to talk at the conference. Also I have to see doctor this week.” “Nervous?” “Yes. I get very nervous because of English. I have to write my talk first in Chinese then practise many times in English or nobody understand me. My English is sucks.”

Why, Ping wondered. But she didn’t ask. “If I’m not in the lab just go straight there and we’ll meet you. Carlo’s coming. He forgot to put in his abstract so he didn’t go to the conference,” Stuart told her. “I thought you were going. Didn’t I see your name on the program? Did you pull out?”

Stuart laughed then apologised. “Your English isn’t sucks.” “No, I speak too much Chinese here. My flatmate is from China also. So I get not much practise.” “Practise on Carlo. He’s always yakking to people. Look, I better go. Don’t be too long. We’ll see you soon.”

“Yes. I withdraw.” “Too bad. Oh, well. Carlo and I’ll grab some beer. Maybe later we can go

Once Stuart had left Ping resumed


work. She was setting up matings. She took full cages from the racks, transferred designated pairs to the line of empty cages on the table, fitted clean tops and checked the water bottles weren’t going to leak and drown the occupants.

stopped going out with him. Ping didn’t understand. As she thought this over she kept working until she’d filled the first rack with new cages and had to start another. Once she’d finished setting up the matings she stacked the empty cages and tipped the extra mouse food into the hopper. She transcribed the cage card information into the log books and returned the cards. In the wash-up area she undressed and changed into her clothes then left through the airlock, returning to the lab by the fire stairs, which they weren’t supposed to do except in emergencies, only everyone did it. Climbing to the sixth floor she heard the whistling of the building’s cleaner.

As she worked she started wondering why Stuart had asked her to the restaurant. This had never happened before. Several times she’d been out with him to lab functions and once she’d even sat next to him. Neither he nor any other males in the institute had invited her out. She ate lunch with them in the tea room but after work, when Stuart and other lab members drank at the pub, Ping would go home alone to her flat in Newtown to eat takeaway and watch anime or go on Facebook. The only time she did social things was Saturday mornings when she caught the bus to Blackwattle Bay and paddled in the dragon boat crew with Julie and Celine, fellow students from the institute.

She still couldn’t figure out why Stuart had invited her to the restaurant. A week after she’d arrived there’d been a party at Professor Merry’s house. Everyone had been new to her but Stuart had made the biggest impression because of his loudness and excitement. He’d forced her to sip champagne and she’d felt her face redden, as it always did from the slightest amount of alcohol. Later he’d made her dance. She’d felt very embarrassed and had left at about 10:00 to go back to the lab and finish setting up her first assay. It was after that party she’d overheard Julie describing Stuart as “creepy.”

So why had Stuart asked her now? They shared a bench, but she knew only superficial things about him—that he was tall, that his hair was thick and slightly wavy and hung over his eyes and that the girls liked to talk to him. Could Stuart be interested in her? Being interested in people was something confusing. For example, soon after arriving at the lab she’d overheard Julie telling someone she found Stuart “creepy.” “Creepy” meant not nice. Then Julie had suddenly started going out with Stuart. After a little while Julie had just as suddenly

Ping stepped out of the stairwell along the corridor. The walls, which had been painted pink on the orders of the architects to sooth the building’s


occupants, reminded her she needed to change her pad. When she reached the women’s toilets she found the cleaner was already inside mopping. He smiled through the propped open door and told her she should use the men’s toilets.

one was about then out of curiosity walked down to examine them. They were what the males urinated in without the inconvenience of lowering their pants. Once Ping had entered German airport toilets and found urinals a bit similar, except for women. They’d been flatter with a smaller bowl. There’d been instructions on the wall, like IKEA diagrams. Ping had managed to wet her tights. Designers were probably still perfecting them.

“Is okay,” he insisted in accented English. “Nobody here.” “Is Stuart still here?” Ping asked. “Nobody. Boss man on holiday. Everybody go home.”

Ping locked herself in the farthest cubicle and squatted. Her periods had always been irregular, so finally she’d got a prescription for the contraceptive pill from the student health clinic. She looked down and saw the blood. Some people found its smell offensive. She found nothing wrong with it. There was no bin inside the male cubicle. She wrapped the used pad in paper and popped it into her jacket pocket.

Ping hesitated. “Is okay,” the cleaner insisted. “I watch out. Anybody come. I tell them.” Entering the men’s toilets Ping smelt disinfectant. She knew that when people were alone at night they often used the nearest toilets, regardless of gender. There wasn’t really anything wrong with that. It was convenient for the men in her lab to use the women’s and not to walk all the way to the other side of the building.

Then came a bang. The outer door swung against the wall. Ping heard rough male conversation, which suddenly amplified. Two men passed in front of her cubicle, apparently unaware of her. She recognised Stuart’s voice. He and the other man filled the space with noise. She was anticipating the cleaner rushing in to warn them so she didn’t attend to what they were saying. When the cleaner didn’t appear she was about to call, but hesitated then after a moment decided to sit tight. The men walked to the urinals. Ping heard the loud zip of their trousers. Then she caught their words.

“Hello, please,” she called softly at the entrance. No one answered. Inside the sinks sparkled. The tiled floor remained damp from the cleaner’s mop. Ping paused in the strange surroundings. Beyond the cubicles was an open tiled area with a line of ceramic urinals hung from the wall, like trophies in a sportsman’s den. She listened cautiously until satisfied no

“Can you just fuck her for me?” Stuart


asked the other man.

“Pretend to.”

“Jesus, what do you think I am?” The other man sounded like Carlo.

“Whatever.” Ping swallowed. There was no mistaking. They were talking about her. She checked the cubicle door was locked then looked between her legs into the bowl. She’d forgotten she had a fresh pad in her hand. She stared at it uncomprehendingly then from habit started to undo the wrapper.

“Just get her drunk and do it.” “Why don’t you fuck her?” “I told you why.” “You think she’s my type?” “Anything’s your type.”

As the men continued talking she stuck the fresh pad in her panties. It was askew in a way that would be uncomfortable. Without thinking she ripped the sticky patch clear of the gusset and there was a tearing noise. She pressed the pad back, but too late.

“For Christ’s sake, she collects Pokémon.” Stuart laughed loudly, his laughter bouncing around the small room like a bat in a cave. “Well, she wouldn’t spray paint your fucking car afterwards. Not like that chick from the Marlborough.”

“Hey!” Stuart called. Ping sat motionless not answering. Had they recognised the sound?

“I’ve got standards, Buddy.” “No you fucking don’t. You don’t have any standards.”

“That you, Geoff?” Stuart asked. Should she answer? What if they knocked, or peeped under the door? She lifted her sneakers. Perhaps she could deepen her voice, like a man’s. But that might confuse them.

Ping sat frozen in the cubicle. She had taken a new pad from her bag and was clutching it when she heard herself mentioned. “Is that her real name? ‘Ping’?” Carlo asked. “It sounds like a microwave. Oh, Ping! I think I love you.”

She felt her chest tighten. After a short while she heard the pair washing their hands. The two men continued their conversation in an undertone.

“Jesus. As if you’d ever say that.”

Stuart said, “I can’t fucking get rid of her. They’re all whispering about it.”

“I always say that. Chicks come as soon as they hear it.”

Carlo giggled.


“It’s no joke,” Stuart insisted.

side of a bed. Carlo’s chest would be covered in hair, like other Western men’s. Carlo and the woman would lie down and have sex. The woman would feel the hair pressing her. Afterwards Carlo would tell her about Ping and how Stuart had asked him to have sex with her so she would become too embarrassed to bother him anymore. The woman would laugh.

“Just tell her you’re not interested.” “No. You fuck her for me. Just take her home and shag her senseless. Then she’ll be too embarrassed to bother me.” There was a pause. Carlo said, “She’s going bald.”

Ping rose from the toilet seat, pulled up her panties and tracksuit bottom. She cleared her throat, flushed the toilet then turned the knob. The cubicle door clicked. Out she stepped with her used pad. She found the bin. She went to the sink and turned on the water a little too hard so it splashed her. She washed her hands then dried them on a paper towel.

Stuart broke out laughing. “She is,” Carlo insisted. “She’s like a Chinese granny.” “I thought you loved virgins.” “Freshers. Not thirty year old balding ones.” “She’s not thirty.”

Stuart and Carlo stared. Without glancing she walked past into the corridor where she waited for the lift. When Stuart and Carlo came up Stuart looked as if he thought her crazy. Ping said nothing. When the lift came, she descended to the animal facility and changed into another sterile gown.

“What if she tells someone?” “Who’s she going to tell? She doesn’t have any friends.” Ping glimpsed one of the men pass by the crack between the door and the partition. She felt breathless. What was going on? Was this normal? Did men work with you all day, talking politely and discussing technical matters with you, such as whether the pipette needed taking apart and cleaning, then step into the toilet and abruptly say, “You fuck her” “No, you fuck her”?

It was late now, but she didn’t want to leave. She wanted to start the day over again. She slid open one of the mouse room doors and switched on the lights. A vast sound of a thousand tiny scurrying feet arose as the mice became excited at the interruption. While she wandered the aisles pink noses and white whiskers twitched at the cage tops, as if the occupants were eager to see her.

All at once she had an image of Carlo matter of factly removing his clothing while a woman undressed on the other


In a daze Ping started unloading cages from the racks. She rested them on the stainless-steel table and removed their tops. As she added more cages the mice occupying the lidless ones began sniffing the air, gingerly escaping so that they spread over the surface mingling and familiarising themselves with each other. When there was no room left for cages Ping stopped.

then clambering over her bare skin with their tickling feet. She held one in her hand, soft and quivering and hot. It left a little moist dropping in her palm. Now she understood. When Stuart had invited her to the restaurant she’d thought it was because he was interested in her. That was wrong. He wasn’t interested. He wanted her to stay away. In fact it was she, Ping, who was interested in him. She’d been making it obvious to everyone although she herself had been unaware.

The mice were tame albinos, not aggressive like the Black 6’s. Ping watched them as they spread from one cage to another, curious and expectant. Some started nibbling their neighbours’ food pellets. Ping put her hands on the cold table top and the mice approached, smelling excitedly

She hadn’t realised that being interested was like that. She knew she was interested in other things. She knew she was interested in dragon-


boat racing. Julie and Celine had taken her to the Women’s Rowing Club one Saturday morning to try. The next day she’d thought about how much fun it had been sitting on the bench in the long boat, listening for the helmswoman’s commands, speeding up and down Blackwattle Bay until she thought her arms would drop off. She couldn’t help looking up dragon- boat racing on her computer. Straightaway she knew she was interested.

plugs of congealed secretions so the females would not be able to mate with other males. She dropped the plugged females into new cages. That was the way with mice. You decided which ones to mate with which, you placed them in the cage, you came back and checked for plugs. Twenty-one days later they gave birth. Occasionally you set up matings and there were no plugs because the mice were not interested. When that happened there were tricks. Feeding them sunflower seeds could make them interested. If that didn’t work you could make other adjustments—the time the lights turned off and on, the amount of space between the cages, sometimes even a buzzing fluorescent tube was enough to disturb breeding. Eventually, if you were patient and systematic, you could find the correct conditions and the mice would become interested and breed. These mice, however, were already interested. Ping was pleased. There would be no need for the sunflower seeds or for any of the other rigmarole that was sometimes needed to encourage them to mate.

She hadn’t looked Stuart up on her computer. How could she have worked out she was interested in him? Now she considered it, perhaps she was also interested in other things, things such as ballet, or the stock market or the man who swept the street each morning outside the apartments on Missenden Road. The people around her might be aware of these interests though she was not. Perhaps she could ask. Am I interested in the stock market, she might say and they might be able to tell her yes, she was interested. How strange, she thought. That was psychology, a subject she had never paid much attention to. She picked up the stray mice one by one. After reading their ear markings she placed them back in their proper cages. They were Stuart’s mice. She returned the cages to the racks. Then she took down her own cages, the ones with the matings she’d set up. She lifted the females by their tails and examined their genital openings. Some already had vaginal plugs. That meant they had mated. The males had deposited sperm and left these


Winter Blossoms Ilene H. Rudman

(for C.O. 1941-2015)

I wouldn’t blame you for walking away ----you said it’s the wise thing to do and I picture you in your White Mountain cabin surrounded by oil paints, easel and the gamey sweet smell of an apple wood fire and I think about whether I should or could---veering between wanting to try for what we started and wanting as you advised to run---- to run away from falling in love with a man whose cells are running amok tomorrow I will send you an overlarge box of Belgian truffles and a dozen Narcissus the kind guaranteed to grow the fastest from bulb to bloom.


What I Thought the World Told Me, But Now I’m Not So Sure Mureall Hebert Never pick a swallow up by its tail and swallow it whole until the hole yawns wide inside - peck - but why do you complain about the bird trilling nest on your pancreas secreting birdsong flight plans, an aviary in your peritoneum - peck - no, do not complain just let the bird let the bird be


Drying Up Quinn White

Small dams, soft, one for each breast. Rounds I slid in and out of my bra. The first day home, I didn’t think to bend over a sink. I sat in the dim bathroom and leaked. Milk dripped on my feet. Inhabiting what would be your mouth, I sat on the toilet, stretched to suck my toes clean.


Lexical Semantics Adam Durso There isn’t enough space provided on the questionnaire, nor enough time to explain to the case worker on the line what certainly he already knows, that you simply lack in your fibers the societal virtue, no, the absolute moral imperative of industry, the very whetstone upon which one tempers a healthy American spirit. * The organized minutiae of daily living may yet make a case for economic hardship, though you lack both the will and market savvy to illustrate the relationship between bushels of apples or tomatoes and barrels of crude oil, or raw sugar with units of raw data and electricity. * You thought you possessed enough talent for rhetoric to argue the definition of disposable, a term which qualifies little in your life save razors, a toothbrush, toilet tissue, select articles of clothing, and a few other tangibles.


* The space within the World Wide Web purports to be infinite, yet it allots you a mere two-hundred characters to summarize the extent of your value as follower, leader, and liar; life partner, and erotic liaison; Professional consultant, and professional volunteer, requests irreconcilable with your fetish for punctuation. * Predatory? What kind of loan isn’t predatory? Who doesn’t feel the fangs of the installment plan deliver its venom, extract another two-and-a-half pints from the bloodstream each month?


The Work Adam Durso

(for Philip Levine)

Rain still spits in your hair and face, still fogs your glasses, if you own a pair. But while the humble few linger before the lumber yard or the Home Depot, we don’t much wait in line outdoors anymore for work. Most can agonize in their own home, or tucked behind storefront kiosks opening window after window, not the kind for washing but for opening and closing to the drum of mouse and keyboard —Name; Education; Skills; Work experience— and those who refuse you, who withhold employment for any reason they like, no longer have to remember your face or the countless hundreds of others. Today the factory floors are quiet, empty of toil from Cleveland to Philadelphia, Chicago to Detroit, save for the solitary few towing crowbar, sledge and duffel bag, prying crumbling walls and ceilings clean of rigid copper, brass and galvanized steel, the brittle marrow of American industry sold off to scrapyards and shipped overseas. Today, it’s mostly about the sale, even units of time itself, minutes and hours for talking and for staring, the hours it takes to sell the minutes, the minutes it takes to sell the brand, brand as culture and identity, a bombardment of brands while asleep and awake. But that’s not what work is. Forget that.


Neither was it the endless miles of PVC piping, or the frescos of lead paint and rubbery dyes, the boiler sweat and rounding shoulders, the fiberglass itch and asbestos cough, the Plasticine , polystyrene and silicon, the hardened arteries, angina and metastases, the chemicals tap dancing on the tongue leaving behind footprints of blood. It wasn’t the assembly lines, but the characters behind and the concrete walls beyond, sterile screens for their nightly shadow play, that endless pantomime of silent, joyless labor, and you bent over a desk after a difficult shift, or just before, trading sleep for lyric, drawing song from discord, searching by oil light to recover their names, their lines, their voices.


the great fire john sweet no one alive in the house you love in and the shades pulled in every window no whisper of god no use for satan sleep through july and august only to wake up sometime in november w/ the rooms all painted red only to find the election over but nothing changed the powerful and the wealthy fuck the corpses they’ve created the war is draped in stars and stripes and to speak out against it is treason to have the wrong color skin the wrong ideology the wrong savior is an admission of guilt i can’t remember any moment in history when this wasn’t the truth


between hope and the need for hope john sweet

or sunlight maybe or maybe even just sunlight seen from fifteen feet below the surface the grit of crumbling basement walls, the smell of damp rot wasted our lives building futile empires in these upstate deserts shot hawks, shot eagles and angels, butchered the indians when they tried to defend what was theirs laughed like it was all a joke with a punchline went broke trying to fix what couldn’t be fixed fucking house falling down around me and all these people wanted to talk about was love


the moment, again john sweet

goes into the hospital mostly dead and then he dies and if he dreams he dreams of machines if he opens his eyes the room has no windows the walls absorb all light i’m standing right there but he’s forgotten my name



If Only Kathleen Constantine If only I was a painter I would gather the disappointments you’ve left, the eccentricities the loneliness I have absorbed and I’d fling it all onto the canvas in fearless indigo blues hesitant greens red only for accent Despair would transfer— Leave me and become something else A dream, a depiction, Or moments of reflection Instead of black, persistent sadness Your sadness, not mine So nothing I do Can make it go away I’d make the brush strokes become waves the color of the Mediterranean in moonlight like the night we swam--sapphire And in the morning they’d capture the sun, glisten, and the shadows would be gone


Dreamcatchers James McAdams Evan Klankerty avoided The Dancin’ Bare for eight days after he stuck his business card into Caelin’s thong. Since the stomach pains had started two months ago, just before his fortieth birthday, his frequency visiting the club had increased from weekly to daily, and his attraction to Caelin developed from something sexual to what he now considered love. He declined to be serviced by any of the other dancers, patiently sitting in the corner by the Trivia! machine, where he’d record inspiring quotes in what his therapist called his “Positivity Journal” until Caelin appeared on stage, lit by compact fluorescents, aiming a smile towards him as she scanned the other men in the club, her dreamcatcher belly-chain coiling around the stripper’s pole.

“It’s just something to help when I’m in trouble.” “Are you in trouble?” “Do I look like I am?” she asked, smiling luridly. She grinded harder into him and grabbed his shoulders, her nipple he wasn’t permitted to touch grazing his double chin, her red hair tickling his receding hairline, and they didn’t talk anymore that night. The business card identified him as a substance abuse counselor at Keystone Services, Lancaster, PA, and included his office- and cell -numbers, his office- and private -email accounts, and at the bottom the following quote: While there’s life there’s hope. In the days since he’d given Caelin his card, Evan had lived in a state of fluctuating hope. Every time the phone rang or his email chirped, he imagined it was Caelin and told himself a story of being her boyfriend, sharing his life with her and thereby escaping the vortex of his own fears and regrets. Sometimes he let the phone sit with the call missed or the email unopened, increasing the zone of expectation to hours during which he would tell himself even more elaborate stories about his future with Caelin. Eventually, though, he would check in a state of exhilaration and instantly become depressed and hopeless, again, because the only people who called or emailed him were

On that last night, he copied on the back of his business card: A thing of beauty is a joy forever—Keats. Caelin and he were in the back room, which used LED “spot lighting” to illuminate the dancers but leave customers feeling unexposed. After slipping the card with a wad of $20’s inside Caelin’s thong’s hem, he asked her what the dreamcatcher chain signified. Caelin swayed with her hands behind her head, eyes closed, less than a foot from him. She notched his knees apart and moved in closer with her one knee pressuring his crotch.


credit collectors, telemarketers, or colleagues asking him to cover their shifts. * That Tuesday evening was $1.00 Domestics and unlimited wings for $5.00 at The Dancin’ Bare, but Evan, who’d agreed to cover a colleague’s overnight shift, was in the Keystone office writing progress notes and counting medications.

he finally detected a signal. A female voice, cracking. “Evan?” The voice sniffled. “I’m in trouble.” There was a muffled sound. The phone clattered and the voice returned, speaking faster. “It’s Caelin, please come. I don’t know. It’s just—nevermind.” The connection cut. Evan called and left a message asking for the address when there was no answer. He paced the perimeter of the facility, imagining finally kissing her, touching her hair, all those intimate maneuvers forbidden by the club. There were still a few residents in the lobby, pale and gaunt in the TV’s sedative light, but every other room was dark. He forwarded the office phone to his cell and got in the facility’s Astrovan. * His phone lit up with a text message from Caelin’s number, providing her address, warning him to turn the headlights off by the barn so her parents wouldn’t see. He was surprised, arriving at her parents’ property, to see it functioned as a real dairy farm, with the smells and sounds he associated with the Amish on TV. An image of Caelin as a young girl in a purple dress riding a bicycle alongside a dirt road appeared and made him remember one of the core Substance Abuse mantras: You can never tell where people are from, or where they are going.

Evan worried that his phone had stopped working. Its last activity occurred four days ago, a computergenerated reminder of his procedure at the clinic tomorrow morning. Cell phones, like the rest of the changes that had erupted since his childhood, made Evan feel lonely. The whole world made him feel lonely, like it wasn’t the world he had been prepared for as a child. There should be support groups for people his age, he mused, not the infirm or demented but still too old to understand: Twitter, Skype, friends with benefits, 24/7 news cycles, the continuous flow of possibilities within grasp for everyone but him. He winced, telling himself the stomach pain was just an ulcer and not cancer, as Dr. Chen said was just a possibility they needed to rule out. Evan’s phone vibrated, revealing a local number, and beeped, indicating a voice message. Evan pocketed his phone and went onto the front porch. He eased himself onto the porch’s stained loveseat and pressed the voicemail button. For what felt like a whole minute there was static, but then within that static, within that noise,

The moon here, away from the city, was engorged and lit up the acres. He panted, leaning down in the shadows of the farm’s brooding structures,


breathing deeply when he got to the basement door. He saw candles inside between the curtains. The candles surrounded the air-mattress on the floor where Caelin sat Indian-style. The dreamcatcher chain hung over her bed, like a crucifix. Her shoulders were hunched and her head bowed. There were clothes strewn about the floor and a futon and supplies—Ziploc bag, razor, grayish crumbs—on a chicken crate next to the air mattress.

exotic dancing figure he had thought he’d known before. “I wouldn’t have called if I knew I’d bump,” she said. “How much?” Evan asked. She shrugged. “Enough to stop thinking about it. Just stops the withdrawals now,” she added gloomily. “That’s normal,” Evan said. “Be proud you tried. It’s almost impossible alone, you know,” he said, easing himself onto the futon.

He tapped on the glass. “I shouldn’t have asked you to come,” she slurred, sliding the door open with both arms. He tried to inspect the supplies by her mattress without being obvious, realizing fatalistically that she wasn’t sober enough to consent to intimate activity.

“I thought I could.” She shrugged again, like it was all she could do. “It’s like I do it against my will. I love it more than more than...everything. I love it more than me, but I mean who would I even be without it?” She lit a cigarette, resting it on a Diet Coke can with ashes along its mouth.

“I always let people down.” She sniffled. She was wearing sweatpants, a black hoodie covered with cat fur, and wool winter socks. “I’m broken.”

“Caelin.” Evan crouched towards her. He recognized that tonight was about her, not him; he hoped to help her without any distractions, to be mindful of her fragility. “These are all normal symptoms. I can help. I mean, did you call me because you saw where I worked?”

“Don’t say that,” Evan said, smiling broadly. “I’m glad you called, everyone has bad nights.” She flapped her hoodie up, strands of hair billowing out, greasy and thin, looking in his direction but not making eye contact. There were acne marks that had been concealed by the club’s lighting. Her eyes were red, her pupils dilated, her nostrils abraded. The rest of her face was pale, the piercings removed, her lips chapped. There was something about her now, with her acne and sweats, which was more attractive and... substantial, he thought, than the

“…Jill.” “What?” “My name. Caelin’s for the stage. Means warrior in…something.” She smeared her hand against her nose and stood, walking across the room holding


the can and ashing into it. She looked so small and endearingly plain without her heels.

excretory, or bladder changes. “No,” he lied. “Have you seen someone?” “I’m supposed to in the morning.” “Supposed?”

He shifted on the futon and grimaced, holding his stomach, which was starting to cramp. He inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly.

Evan put his shirt back on and sat down, his elbows on his knees. “It’s nothing, I’m not going.”

“You okay?” she asked. “Just this…sometimes,” he motioned to his left side. “What is it?”

Jill looked at him, maybe for the first time ever, after all the simulations at The Dancin’ Bare, with actual care in her eyes. “You need to do this.”

“Cancer?” He chuckled. “I’m trying to look on the bright side.”

“You need to go to rehab. That’s serious, too.”

She turned on a lamp, crouching beside the futon and palpating his side gently. “Here?” she asked, kneading with bony fingers. “Here?”

“This takes an hour. Rehab is for life. Bullshit comparison.” She stood up and lit another cigarette. “Tell me you’ll go.”

“Around there.”

“I don’t have a ride anyway,” he said. He honestly didn’t know whether he said this in order to suggest she drive him.

“Take your shirt off,” she said. Evan removed his jacket and pulled his shirt over his head. “Now I feel like a stripper,” he joked, embarrassed about his expanding paunch.

They stood looking at one another. As usual, he was sitting and she was standing, in a position of power, pondering him as though she were thousands of miles away.

Jill took a nursing textbook from the end table and told him to stand up. She was suddenly sharp and lucid, he noticed, a common tendency for addicts when given a task to focus on. She felt his torso in four quadrants, checking the textbook, asking him to scale the pain from 1-10. When she was done she asked if there were other behavioral signs, such as digestive,

“What time is the appointment?” she asked. “Seven-thirty.” She focused on the wavering tip of the cigarette as she ashed, missing the can’s mouth. “I want to see the


sunrise, to feel it on my skin. I’m a fucking vampire, this life.” She dropped the cigarette into the can with a pzzz sound and slipped on a pair of ratty Chuck Taylors, gently pulling him to his feet. “So, I’m taking you. I’ll see my sunrise and you’ll get a clean bill of health. What would I do at the club without you?” * Jill drove the Astrovan in a seeming reverie, swerving onto the back roads leading to the quarry. She braked and turned the engine off, hunching, silent and motionless, watching the sun’s ray’s angle over cracked rocks and water holes. It was so quiet in the car he could hear her breathing, tachycardia, her blood not oxygenating. Evan remembered coming here as a teenager, getting high and leaping into the water, or later sitting in his dad’s idling Oldsmobile with girls from Penn State Main, passing a flask of whiskey back and forth, listening to The Allman Brothers bootlegs and talking about their future dreams.

canned laughter from TV game shows, and magazines splayed on the tables between chairs. Evan stared at Cancer Today and muttered to Jill, “They could at least pretend I’m not dying.” “Yeah, okay,” she said. She took the dreamcatcher chain from her pocket. “Take this with you if I’m not back— “Why wouldn’t you be back?” “Just take it.” She pulled his fingers open and unspooled the dreamcatcher chain into his palm. “I need the bathroom. Make sure they hang it somewhere you can see it. Look at it and think positive thoughts.” She rushed into the bathroom, locking the door. He heard snorting sounds and she didn’t respond to him asking her to unlock the door, banging gently to not alert the receptionists. Then a nurse called him into the pre-Op room, where people removed his clothing and offered him a smock. The nurse hung the dreamcatcher on one of those human anatomy charts where he fixed his eyes while Dr. Chen explained the operation’s objectives to him. Meanwhile a tall man in white injected him with something and he counted backwards from 100. He didn’t fall asleep, but he didn’t dream either. It was more like entering an alternate reality that was just as real as the previous one. He imagined Jill operating on him, scoping and scanning not his stomach, but rather his heart. She spoke into a microphone, intoning “the results of the procedure to determine whether Evan Klankerty

He told her about these memories but she didn’t respond, instead resting her chin on the steering wheel, like a child peering at something unattainable. She closed her eyes, whispered something to herself, and then reversed the car back to the main road and drove to the clinic’s empty parking lot. “Party time!” she said, with fake enthusiasm, turning the engine off. After signing in at the front desk, they sat on wooden chairs, the only people in the lobby filled with fake plants,


is a good person were inconclusive.” As he came out of the anesthesia, he thought he saw a quote from his Positivity Journal on the wall where the anatomy chart had been. It was Thoreau: Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?

reported seeing his body through the window—the service was attended by freelancer grievers hired by the funeral home and a few tranquilized Keystone residents. Since nobody knew him well enough to speak, the funeral home’s Director simply read selected quotes from Evan’s Positivity Journal. He’d had his assistant make laminated bookmarks of one quote with Evan’s picture from his Keystone security badge at Kinkos for $20. The quote was from “Imagine”: You may say I’m a dreamer. /But I’m not the only one.

Jill was gone when he came out of the operating room. He never forgot about her, remembering her not as she was on the pole but as she was in her basement that winter night, with her hoodies and acne and Chucks, her used nursing textbook, her look of despair at the quarry. He slept with Jill’s dreamcatcher chain wrapped around his Positivity Journal on the bedside table. Sometimes he would think of texting her, asking her if she was okay, if she needed someone to talk to, but he knew it was wrong.

The attendees left their bookmarks on the floor or on their seats when the memorial was over and, as he cleaned up, tossing them in a CVS bag they used as trash can liners, the Director tried to imagine who Evan Klankerty really was, on the inside, aurated in holy singularity. He recalled his own father’s injunction that their work’s mission was to reveal that even the most seemingly empty life was ablaze with exceptional hopes and acts of kindness, and dreams that, for all we know, he thought, locking the memorial’s newly painted doors, have already come true in other worlds, or universes, or whatever people wished to call them according to their own personal cosmologies or belief systems.

By then, Evan Klankerty was taking it one day at a time, spending his evenings not in clubs but strolling around the neighborhood smelling manure and cut grass, watching kids throwing footballs or playing tag, tanning in his front yard, unconcerned about what people would say about his body’s appearance. It was 15 months later—a full year beyond his initial prognosis—that he saw her picture in the obituary section of the paper, Jill Rosen, 23. There was no cause of death provided. He mailed Jill’s dreamcatcher chain to the listed memorial home, along with a brief note explaining how she had saved his life. When he finally expired—Girl Scouts


Dinner Date Marie-Andree Auclair silver cutlery festive slim glasses of hope bubbles break the surface how long do I wait before I feed the dog your steak?


Sur-Objects U879 Duane Locke


Whole in Dreams Elizabeth Sheets It’s your place. Colored spines line the walls, and the world turns on cherry wood in the corner next to the Wurlitzer where you compose your dreams. Everyone is here, cross-legged, circled in support of your life unfolding slowly by the light of forty-four candles crowning the afternoon’s confection. You receive me, passively. I long to make my way among your friends. Service suits me, to have a purpose I lift a perspiring punch bowl and bear my burden to the sink. The slick glass slides from my hands in slow motion. Fumbling, I close my eyes and wait for the explosion of tiny shards scattering across the tile. There is only silence. I open my eyes and you are there arms raised, holding the bowl high counting cracks revealed by a setting sun streaming through the kitchen window. Many times the dish has broken, you say, many times put together again.


Nights like These Anthony K. Gardner (Spoken to “Skating in Central Park” by Bill Evans & Jim Hall)

III. Nights like these don’t go down in history. Gone and half forgotten the words spoken hit ground not to shatter but soften. The world turns as it always does but still not as strong as before. Nights like these gravity moves mountains. Sweet and gentle motions so folks can still find them. Movement so seamless it looks as if they’re right back where they were before. Nights like these I wish could dream of you. Smooth flowing satin. Nights like these only God can move mountains. All the seeming power the stars cast as angels tie their sailor’s knots across peaks. Hard labor but those mountains simply belong.


Night like these I’ll be moving mountains where no one can find them. Stumbling across this ragged town siphoning off one grain at a time. Dropping them off in the sparse pockets of commotion Frozen like this this lucid moment in time. Nights like these my stumbling was worth something I am god’s right hand clenched into a fist of upmost importance. Throwing boulders and slashing water tables astray. Night like these I am worth something but the ever elusive night succeeds and so comes a morning like those. I realize I have accomplished nothing. Those mountains this life are right where they are supposed. But with whiskey and a town collected when the sun goes to hide nights like these. I will be there to find them.


Traveling at Home Sarah Bigham I am not, alas, the intrepid world traveler of my dreams.

often, into my open mouth. Having to keep my lips firmly sealed while bathing is a near impossibility for me. Standing in the shower in our enormous, beautifully appointed room in a brand new hotel in Beijing, fat tears joined the cascade of water as I clenched my jaw, teeth grinding as I labored to keep out the water that was unsafe to ingest, turning my morning ablutions into something I, ashamedly, could hardly bear. Until going to China and asking fellow travelers about how they dealt with “the shower problem,� and getting blank stares, I truly had no idea that other people did not swallow shower water on a regular basis. I

My wife, Susan, spent nearly four years in the Peace Corps living in a remote area of Kenya with no electricity or running water. Her travel style allows her to be thankful for the opportunity to shower at a selected accommodation. I selfishly want not only a shower, but a shower with water I can safely drink. For me, showering is an interactive experience. I happily flail about under the downpour, smiling and laughing, water rushing down my face and,


embarrassingly longed to return home to the United States.

for the wrong team. While I was not physically in Asia with Susan, I felt as if I traveled quite extensively, having used my search engine skills to serve as an unofficial travel agent for my wife and her traveling companion. I researched Lao cooking classes, elephant sanctuaries, rice planting workshops, and gibbon rehabilitation centers. She toured temples and parks, visited landmineland mine educational museums, fed rice to monks, and met an array of fascinating people. It was a wonderful adventure, the kind I wish I had the fortitude to experience myself. But I was content with my own, smaller adventures.

Susan spent a recent summer exploring Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos with a friend. It will come as no surprise that I stayed at home. To be clear, I was invited to go, but health conditions did not allow me to make the trip. Of course, the rustic travel arrangements would have led me to decline even if medical issues had not surfaced. I gave my blessing to the trip, was pleased for Susan to be able to have a grand travel adventure, planned several relaxing staycation activities for myself, and was deeply thankful to remain in the comforts of our home while I dealt with the discomfort and fatigue of my medical issues.

Every day, soon after taking an open-mouthed shower, I would get an envelope from Susan, thanks to a colleague whose daily task was to place another pre-written card in the mail. Some days I would get an email, if there was internet access at that stop on the itinerary. Occasionally I would get a phone call and hear her voice from the other side of the planet.

While Susan was away, my parents often came to visit and help with tasks I did not have the energy to do. Every weekend my father would arrive to take me to the grocery store, wheeling the cart through the store as we sought out easy meals and kitchen staples. He would then carefully deposit me and the grocery bags at my home, before returning to his home to watch his beloved Philadelphia Phillies play baseball. Often he makes do with fuzzy radio broadcasts which sound like static to common folk, but my father’s ears are well-attuned to the cadence of the announcers he has listened to for decades. Being able to see a game, with clear picture and sound, is a luxury. At times he has shared a couch with Susan, a devoted New York Mets fan. Thankfully, they adore each other enough to forgive the other for rooting

Early one morning, Susan called from Laos to report that she turned on the TV in her tiny hotel room, happy to have the option of television and secretly hoping to find an Englishlanguage show on one of the three available channels, as a reminder of home where I waited for her. Channel one was off the air. Channel two was airing a local gameshow. Channel three was broadcasting a Phillies game.


Pre-dawn Calls Eric Chiles Twice you’ve called when death rang. The first time you’d been out late drinking and struck a deer, rumpling your hood with an unexpected harvest of venison, and you thought of me, the unsuccessful hunter who knew what to do with the crumpled corpse. So in the dark we dragged it down the field past the barn, gutted it, and dug a hole for the offal which in the woods would’ve been consumed by crows and coyotes - but not in the suburbs as the sky grayed. So perfunctory. What else would one do? The pulverized meat made a wealth of sausage. Decades later you dialed me from a hospital room where you kept watch on our dying father. This time you waited a respectful time before informing me, the eldest, that the expected had transpired before dawn awakened our world for everyone except one.


Single Shot to the Head Elizabeth Sheets The arsonist, a smoky blend, waits. Born of malt and grain and oak, imprisoned in transparent urn. The liberator anticipates the journey of a lifetime. Freedom in a cascade, the swirling delightful dance of the reliever. Golden honey melting over rocks, Through the lips, and over the gums blazing an icy trail, descending, look out stomach, here it comes Lighting up the crimson lifeline with the intoxicating news that the house is on fire.


The Other Best Friend Carolyn Norr Me and Julia were best friends in high school and still are. We hang out in the dappled light of city parks now, while our children climb and slide. We are both married, and live in separate but not distant cities, and get together with the kids when we can, carting snack bags, shooing children into and out of minivans.

and Anne was so drunk on Everclear that she ripped several people's book posters off the wall as she trailed out. After that, people were banned from having water bottles in the whole school, because, after all, Everclear looks just like water. Anne got a number of changes made at our school: she punched through an enormous plate glass wall, the kind that looked like it couldn't break, but it did, wrinkling into elaborate patterns, right after she broke the nose of the boy who had raped her little sister and the finger of the assistant principal who tried to stop her.

But there was another best friend in high school, Anne. It was three of us lying on our backs in the middle of intersections, imagining the whole universe spinning around us, it was three of us my mom sent my sister trailing after to try to catch a glimpse of what drug it was we were using. It was no drug at all, but Anne took it too far anyway, and it wasn't her fault, Julia and I have always felt bad that we lost her.

Anne was formidable, five footeleven, sometimes wide and opulent, and then, a few weeks later, gaunt, with her ratty Nirvana hoodie hanging off her. Her body changed more quickly than anyone else I have ever met. Anne would disappear into the woods, not just to wander for a few hours like me and Julia, but overnight, carrying nothing, coming back with her milky skin lit up with red splotches of poison oak, shaking her head and smiling, "Mother Nature kicked my ass."

There are scissors in my memory of Anne, too, but not like the ones Julia's grandma used for cutting pancakes. Ann had little gold scissors shaped like a bird that she used for cutting her arm. Once, in English class, she used them to cut off her hair, bright orange hair, she just started snipping away as the teacher lectured about Passage to India, piling it up in a flaming cloud on the plastic desk. I was sitting across the aisle, shaking my head, a little thrilled, a little afraid of what it meant for her. Finally, the teacher stopped talking and sent her to the office, leaving her pile of hair behind,

Her dad kicked her mom's ass all the time, she also told us. We all hated him. We all wanted to kill him. He was a Republican local politician and ran a flooring company and sometimes made Kate's mom sleep naked in the doghouse for "punishment." When her


mom finally tried to leave him, a few years after high school, he'd sneak into her office and leave tacks in her chair, or into her bathroom to move stuff around, to try to make her think she was going crazy. All Anne's mom's hair turned snow white that year she tried to leave him.

On "Senior Trip Day," we went to the beach instead of "Great America" with the rest of the class. I was driving Julia's parents’ car, and Anne was in the backseat on the way home, cutting deeper and deeper with those little bird scissors. We were stuck in traffic on Highway 1. Julia and I were reaching into the backseat, trying to take the scissors from her, but instead, she opened the door and jumped right out into the traffic, shouting as she went, “I love you, remember me!”

Senior year Anne kept getting locked up in hospitals, while I was going on college tours and Julia was driving all the way to Mendocino and back in her parents’ car during a single school day. We were all best friends though, absolutely, and spent most of our time together. Anne was the first person I told about middle school, leaning over a guardrail skipping history class. I told her the words of the songs the boys used to sing to me, and when I looked up she had tears in her eyes and then I cried about it too, for the first time.

She didn't die. We called the cops on her from a 76 station, because we were scared, and they took her back to the hospital. It didn't feel right but we didn't know what to do. Later, she somehow, despite never graduating high school, went off to college in Illinois, but got kicked out after the first snowfall, when she carved a cross into her forehead,


dressed in all white lacy underwear, and went to sleep in a snow bank. I guess she was a poet, but she made no distinction at all between imagination and life.

Anne had helped make the whole party happen, but the next day, cleaning up in my house, I can't remember what she said to me, but for some reason, I could tell, she was trying her best to hurt me, and because she knew me so well she did a good job. After that, some guy she knew gave us a ride on his motorcycle to Treasure Island, and after I got off that hot and bad smelling bike I stopped talking to Anne. Julia had already stopped a couple years before.

After that, she went to live in a vault in San Francisco, a real vault that had been converted to a one room apartment with a bathroom down the hall we used to fill up with steam and lemon grass from Chinatown and make into a sauna. She lived with a huge green iguana named Lizardo and a rooster she saved from a market. They slept in bed with her. In addition, she decided that it would be a more meaningful contribution to the homeless people lining the sidewalk, rather than dropping them a quarter, to sleep with them. So she did, methodically. She got Hepatitis C and pregnant and never got up from her bed with the iguana and the rooster and took the meth men brought her, until I started calling her every single day from my travels and coaxed her to get up, and eventually to get an abortion.

My sister ran into Anne on the Bart a few years back. She had been married to an Indian man, dressed in Saris, and served food to people at an Indian restaurant in Fremont. Her father had died of a heart attack and her sister was still a famous stripper in Japan, with her own website. She had given my sister her number and I had called. It was nice to finally talk; she had sent me letters I hadn't responded to over the years. It was sort of nice, but also felt uncomfortable. Later that night, she called me back. "I'm doing something bad," she giggled.

A while later I had a party. I was going to SF State then. I had all my women friends write down their dreams for a month, and then we drew stickers that said, "last night I dreamed..." and whatever it was that we dreamed. We plastered them all over a muni stop down town, so when you went in to wait for a bus, you were surrounded by the dreams of women. It was after they started bombing Afghanistan, and many of the dreams were political, others magical, or about families.

"You are?" I said. I didn't want to know, by the sound of her voice. "I am cutting moles off my skin. And then I'm boiling them. And then guess what? I'm eating them." she said, and she started cackling. I had a new baby. I didn't want that on me. I didn't want to take all that back in. It was the last time we spoke.


Rainbow Robert Beveridge (for Brenda Cline)

A cheek touched, for one brief December moment. Here too fast, gone the same. Gas poured into the machine ignites, burns bright, sputters out. To have been extinguished is less a failure than to have caught fire, for however brief a time, is a success. We take our angels where we find them.


At Night: In And Around Industry Stephen Fretz

Car Wash, Patterson, NJ

Cement Plant, USS Ling, Hackensack, NJ 50

Cross Bronx Perspective Eric Chiles "If however, you know without the shadow of a doubt that you are in Hell, then you must be on the Cross Bronx Expressway!" - Jeff Saltzman, nycroads.com

From green to green you must first endure I-95's River Acheron descending into the noxious Palisades tunnels side by side trucks, air brakes squealing, packed end on end for miles. Rising once again into the light, all crowd toward Charon's toll booths before crossing the stygian Hudson under the soaring arches of the GW. From there you drop through Hades. What hope you had before entering this world exhausts itself in fumes and squalor. The rusting metal bones and shredded treads of unfortunate pilgrims, litter dividers and curbs. Shattered glass glitters like jewels no one dares pick up. Trapped souls trudge across overpasses. Thousands of grimy tenement windows stare down at those trying to escape. Florid graffiti color the walls as black smoke rises from roofs. We creep onward with one thought - get through, get through - deliver us from this.


To Mancini’s Woman, Resting (I’m Trying to Reach You) Alexandra Kulik You wake before the dusters come in Some nostalgia for walking the dark hour mourning before the rising blush and lark, before everyone; the fog from doors, mouths of living things still coddled warm in the reel of their lack. But mostly it’s for the tickling many soft kisses of lamb’s wig on your skin, hardened nipple. Soft on all the cut crumbly flesh the bastard just caked you together with an old kitchen knife, didn’t he skin all slipping and pinned under stone sheets. It’s this secret petting in the dark before the long, long waking sleep— Eyes that do not see. I know all about you, and I used to visit different dog pounds like they were touring exhibitions muddy sluggish things, cute in measure of pity; until I met eyes heavy as war soil knowing only the walls, the wire, the death march and the promise I wasn’t there to make, I’m the messiah and this is all over. No, I just came for fun. So of course she’d every right to charge rabid and cry Don’t you ever come back here! Don’t ever look at me! So I know, I know why you’re always staring sideward and gone.


I’m sorry to keep returning, but I’m trying to reach you. If Jesus dripping on the cross can look back at me when I’m weary of that old tale and have nothing to say to him except sorry god I’m so sorry, you can, too. But I know you, and really it’s not about that, so I won’t beg. I just came because last night, climax on the Ferris wheel with this guy, he got all fed up and he said “Hey, I thought girls liked talking. Don’t you want to talk at all?” I just kept staring dead arrow at the ground below, all the pretty neon contracting and nothing but a tunnel.

I knew I could make you smile.


Everything’s Rosy Susanna Baird Mrs. Jablowski finds nothing poetic about the body. She considers feet particularly prosaic. Heels bear vulgar cracks. The largest toes resemble the thumbs of a thick man. The stubbiest toes remind her of the fat grubs Mr. Jablowski digs out of his vegetable garden. Mr. Jablowski’s feet are especially troublesome, with hard yellowing nails and far too much fuzz, like the feet of those little Hobbits in the movies she took her grandson to. Unlike Mr. Jablowski’s, their feet were cute.

children together 30 years ago and have remained tight. For the sake of the banties she actually likes, Mrs. Jablowski has mostly mastered the art of tolerating Mrs. Orly. Today the banties are visiting the new Walmart instead of attending their usual matinee. Mrs. Jablowski loves movies and Twizzlers and never thought much of the old Walmart, but has to admit this one seems to have everything, even a cute little nail salon snuggled neat between the shopping cart corral and Customer Service.

Aside from the small pale whiskers she shaves off her big toes every summer, Mrs. Jablowski’s own feet aren’t especially offensive. Still, they’re feet. That’s reason enough for her to keep them covered until the red-hot center of summer, when she dabs a little polish on each nail and dons her opentoed huaraches.

“Lay-dee-ees!” Mrs. Orly exclaims as soon she spots the salon. Mrs. Jablowski cringes every time Mrs. Orly speaks, but especially when she utters her three-syllable call to action. “Lay-dee-ees! I think we need a little pampering. I think we need pedis!” Mrs. Jablowski is so agitated by the word “pedis” that she doesn’t object until she hears the other ladies give the receptionist her name. She’s just beginning to protest — “I saw some Legos back there for Charlie … “ — when Mrs. Orly swings towards her, driving the steamroller that is her will.

Today is not summer. Today is November in Rhode Island, which is why Mrs. Jablowski finds it absurd to be sitting high in a pedicure chair with an Asian man, Mrs. Jablowski isn’t sure what kind, snapping his gum and preparing to man-handle her feet before applying two coats of a calm pink polish called Everything’s Rosy. Which it most certainly is not.

“Mrs. J, Mrs. J, Mrs. Jaaay-aaaay!” Mrs. Orly is the only person on planet Earth who calls Mrs. Jablowski Mrs. J.

It’s all Mrs. Orly’s fault. Mrs. Orly is one of the group Mr. Jablowski calls “the banties,” five women who raised

“You are a giver, Mrs. J. A force de la vie. You are forever chasing after that


spirited grandson of yours, helping every sorry case that turns up on your doorstep, making meals for god knows who while Mr. J tends to his precious plot of earth.”.

encounters with one of her several “paramours.” Unlike feet, Mrs. Jablowski doesn’t disapprove of sex. In fact, when she’s well rested she finds it on par with other pleasing sensory events such as sipping cold rootbeer served over ice or sinking her teeth into and between the grooves of a licorice stick. She doesn’t think she’s ever had an orgasm, at least as described by the young ladies of Sex in the City, which Mrs. Jablowski is currently zipping through on Netflix. But it’s not a particular disappointment, and she mostly enjoys her weekly “date” with Mr. Jablowski, especially if he keeps his socks on.

“You don’t have a minute to worry about how you look. How could you? Even I, the fashionista of our little group, understand why you dress the way you do. But this isn’t about beauty, Mrs. J. This is about you-uuuuuu.” Mrs. Jablowski looks to the other banties to swoop in and save her, but they’re already well into the salon, perusing the polish selection. Stuck, Mrs. Jablowski climbs the nearest pleather perch. She’s deciding to make the best of it when Mrs. Orly’s voice breaks through her resolve.

Of course, she’d never tell the banties any of this, though she’d tell them just about anything else, mostly because she’d have to suffer a tutorial from Mrs. Orly on what she maddeningly calls “la petite mort.” Mrs. Jablowski neither enjoys nor approves of the way Mrs. Orly talks about sex, even less so the way Mrs. Orly talks about “making love,” even less so the way Mrs. Orly talks about making love in a stage whisper while her feet, and Mrs. Jablowski’s own, are in the hands of gum-snapping male strangers.

“Ladies, look at this!” Mrs. Orly, now two seats to the right, is waving a bottle of polish in the air, a sharp blue color speckled with small bits of glitter. Could she be any more obnoxious? Mrs. Jablowski thinks not. “Guess what it’s called ladies? You’ll never guess. Go Deep. It’s called Go Deep! That is what I say to Frankie every time we make love. Go Deep, bay-beeeeee!”

Mrs. Orly’s inappropriate conversation has so distracted Mrs. Jablowski, she hasn’t noticed that her feet have been placed in a warm tub of water. As soon as she notices, though, she thinks perhaps she can allow herself to enjoy this experience.

Oh good lord. Now Mrs. Orly is talking about sex. In a nail salon at the new WalMart. It’s not that her choice of topic surprises Mrs. Jablowski. Mrs. Orly has been widowed for six years and for six years, the banties have been subjected to in-depth analyses of far too many of Mrs. Orly’s regular

Training her ears on the Muzak, Mrs.


Jablowski wills the gum snaps and Mrs. Orly’s grotesque chatter to recede and lets her head fall back into the cradle of the seatback. After her pedicurist finishes his sudsy scrubbing, which Mrs. Jablowski is prepared to declare worth the cost of admission, he squirts a gritty gel onto his hands and goes to town.

think right now, because her brain is the farthest thing from her feet. Her feet are where it’s at, right this minute that she hopes never ends. In fact, right this minute Mrs. Jablowski is less Mrs. Jablowski and more Mrs. Jablowski’s feet. And then she’s not even feet, but a whirlpool. Mrs. Jablowski is a deep, swirling pool and a shivering surge of electricity and the cold, cold center of a thick churning storm. Mrs. Jablowski wouldn’t appreciate these descriptions, as melodramatic as Mrs. Orly, but that’s where she’s at. She’s at the center of a thing. She’s thrumming and then the whirlpool that she is spins up glorious and she watches the electricity snap and crackle across her mind’s screen and with a shudder she is delivered back to her chair.

As he pushes and bends her feet this way and that, Mrs. Jablowski feels as if he’s turning a valve inside her she didn’t know existed. He begins to knead and squeeze, and at first she’s nearly uncomfortable, as if working long-dormant muscles. But soon she’s growing warm and open, almost as if her nerves are instrument strings being plucked by a virtuoso. Before too long, in the time it takes Stairway to Heaven to segue into I Just Called to Say I Love You, Mrs. Jablowski’s entire sensory system has become focused on her feet. She’s warm and sinking into a dark deepness, but at the same time is alert to every new sensation zipping into her feet via whatever manipulative jujitsu this man is performing.

She looks down, flushed. The gum snapper is shaking a polish bottle and looking at the TV screen in the corner. Without a glance up at her, he turns back and begins to paint each of the ten toenails on her feet. Two seats away, Mrs. Orly has begun to complain about … No. You know what? Mrs. Jablowski doesn’t want to hear it. She just wants to sit back and watch her toenails turn pink.

The simultaneous ebb and flow is nothing Mrs. Jablowski’s ever experienced before, but she can’t think about that right now because she can’t


Toy Rabbit Alexandra Kulik I’ve watched this video many times, Your little loose body straddling our old wooden Rocking horse limbs all branched out and one arm cycloning the air, miming a lasso like the cowboys on T.V and mommy wants you to sit still and talk to the camera say something precocious or darling but you just keep repeating Mommy look at me, look what I can do. I can copy the men on T.V I can imitate as good as anyone can. I can even learn to be daddy, ‘cause you must love him and that’s why you keep him.

Your lemonade head and baby pool eyes all tender as pink pansy lips and Truth. Your laughter uncontrolled and dizzily feminine but you don’t hear that yet, nor worry your joy is too much or your laughter too long how sad we wonder whether we laugh too long Mommy says “talk buddy, talk to the camera” but you just won’t stop giggling and swinging your arms.

And it’s a wonder what happened to that horse ‘cause no one bothered to film that part. But I think I came upon it in a story once and it whispered to a little cotton rabbit everything we needed to know, but couldn’t know to ask. And the rabbit stayed tender. And I’m the only one that watches this video.



Potsdam Sequence #1 Philip Arnold


Good Girl Alexandra Kulik Out her breath, down the eyelids gentle Solstice sweat glued-in their happy black covers Up, come up, Be good, willow eyes, and come up. Come up and keep straight. In the corner the moon like a bat in a snare wants attention; Look through the knife’s reflection, no closer. It’s coaxing: Pounding its veins, red wine pounding, breaking and dripping Roots drenched, beasts underground feeding, Temple and genitals of the earth all drunk sloppy and throbbing. But be a good girl, be silent and wait, It’s only a quarter to eight and this was your idea, baby. You know very well Good girls don’t stab holes in their dresses on dates. And your plate covered in vegetable pulp is not hurt, is not crying; And the bashed puddles on the road don’t chuckle, or ask you to follow. Stop it. Be good. Bite the sterile fork; tell your cheeks to move; tell your throat to swallow. Out her breath, down the eyelids spinning Sunset screams of the cicadas and the locusts and the beetles The silent moths and the gnats and the mosquitoes feasting. Sound dense enough it could bear her ascent Lift gravity, lift sedan chair up past heaven up to the kingdom of vermin. But be a good girl, bloody nails, and tell your feet to stay. It’s only a Monday, and they Just came to enjoy conversation.


Enticing the fizz air, enticing more the sound suppressing: The lapping song loosened beyond the fencing The rocks flaying bodies in their watery graves Their shrouds all white— whiter than the waves. Of course she’s there: Virginia in the center, periwinkle and lace unfaded Three hundred stones collected and the clocks all stopped in her gnawed pockets. It’s really quite easy, she screams, to be your own anchor or, as poet’s prefer, the sunken treasure. And this is something she believes in, and this: Here is where you’ve always been, Frozen dial says you’ll never make it out alive. Scourged by lightning and to the same spot returning with dress clawed apart, head to breast stroked soaking Red, all red like howling and laughing and dancing and burning Burning ash cross Burning owl in a field of prairie grass. But you will sit and eat the ice out your cup. Because good girls sip small and dip their fries in ketchup. And that’s all. And good girls don’t dress their feet in splinters And good girls don’t bellow for the echo to hit her And good girls don’t look for cradle in the dumpster And good girls don’t go down to the water.


Remains D. Marr

Turning the corner of the road, I looked up to see A coyote, small prey in his mouth.

I went forward anyway, still holding the dog, And thought about The dreams that keep coming In the dark, where one word from you Propels me to panic, waking me up sightless in a sea of night.

The dog, not yet understanding The threat, nosed the dead leaves By my shoes. Stamping my feet Did no good, as it would move Only a little further off, and Begin to eat again.

I imagine yellow eyes Stalking us from the brush All the way home, And cannot look away From the remains in the road, broken bones and a little Blood, What’s left of hope; That tiny feathered thing With wings.

Even after every morsel Was swallowed, it stood watching, Yellow eyes staring From the middle of the road. The dog looked up, This small, white thing By my side, and knew fear, The growl coming up into his throat. I picked him up His heart fluttering Against mine And we waited And watched the wild dog Turn and trot around the curve Of the street, and I didn’t know When it would be safe To keep walking.


After the Threesome, They Both Take You Home Sue Hyon Bae even though it's so very late and they have to report to their jobs in a few hours, they both get in the car, one driving, one shotgun, you in the back like a child needing a drive to settle into sleep, even though one could drive and the other sleep, because they can't sleep without each other, they'd rather drive you across the city rather than be apart for half an hour, the office buildings lit pointlessly beautiful for nobody except you to admire their reflections in the water, the lovers too busy talking about that colleague they don't like, tomorrow's dinner plans, how once they bought peaches on a road trip and ate and ate until they could taste it in each other's pores, they get out of the car together to kiss you goodnight, you who have perfected the ghost goodbye, exiting gatherings noiselessly, leaving only a dahlia-scented perfume, your ribcage compressing to slide through doors ajar and untouched, yesterday you were a flash of white in a pigeon's blinking eye, in the day few hours old you stand solid and full of other people's love for each other spilling over, warm leftovers.


Heidi and Her Babies Joseph Miravalle My first pets were a pair of hamsters I got for my sixth birthday. I named them Heidi and Herman Hamster, as all my favorite animal entities at the time had alliterative names (Donald Duck, etc.). Their cage was carpeted with sawdust, and came furnished with water bottle, food bowl and an exercise wheel used exclusively by Herman. While Herman seemed to be training for an imaginary marathon, Heidi enjoyed a life of leisure, lounging between the food bowl and the spigot of the water bottle. It seemed reasonable that the lethargic and gluttonous Heidi would gain significant amounts of weight due to her lifestyle choices, but Heidi offered an alternate explanation for her weight gain when she gave birth to a litter of tiny pink worms with limbs. “Mom! I think Heidi had ugly babies!” She came and looked in the cage. “Well look at that!” She opened the lid and removed Herman. “Mom, is Herman their dad?” “Yes he is sweetie.” “Why take him from his family?”

shoebox that could serve as Herman’s motel for the week. I studied the strange, hairless creatures. They were not at all what I thought baby hamsters should be. I felt repelled by their wrinkled faces and squirmy movements. My mother bent down so her head was next to mine. We both stared at the hideous additions to the Hamster family. “So cute!” “Really?” I tried to expand my understanding of the word. “Oh yes, don’t you see? They’re so vulnerable and blind. They need their mother.” She changed her tone from that of a fellow wanderer to that of a homilist. “Look Jason, that is the miracle of life. Nature, as God intended. This is how the world continues. This is very beautiful. Understand?” “Yes. Why are they so ugly?” My gaze fixed on the creatures.

“It’s just...he’s not ready to be a father.”

“They’ll grow hair soon, then you’ll think they’re cute. They’ll look like little cotton balls! Give it time.”

He should have thought of that before having babies, I thought selfrighteously. Mom went to find a

Little cotton balls are definitely more of what I had in mind. I became excited. There were six of them, and I


named them after Snow White's seven dwarves, excluding Grumpy, who I felt was not a good enough sport to have representation among my new set of friends.

“Oh Christ! Oh Christ! Oh Jesus Christ!” It seemed the only appropriate response to the atrocity.

“They’ll grow hair each day. It won’t take long. Be patient.”

Just as God intended. I mourned the loss of innocent life, brooding as I slowly dressed for church.

I continued chanting “Oh Christ” in a strained, prepubescent voice as I ran up My mom and I lived in a secluded house the stairs to my mother's room. in the country. Our back yard led to an area of woods that was about an acre, “Are you okay, baby?” but seemed limitlessly expansive at the time. My favorite pastime was going “Something terrible happened!” I into the woods and playing explorer, paused so my mother could brace searching for treasure, following a herself. “I think Heidi ate all her creek that led nowhere. I imagined babies!” the hamsters growing old enough to accompany me on my expeditions, “Stay here.” Mom left, and I sat on her following me around like I had seen bed for what seemed like an eternity as baby ducks follow their mother at the I processed. park. When my mother called me down, “Mom, when will Heidi’s babies be Heidi’s cage had been cleaned, and all cute?” I asked, settling into bed. evidence of a litter was removed.

The next morning was Sunday, and I got out of bed with one goal: checking the progress of the brood. I ran down the stairs to the kitchen, but stopped cold as I approached the cage. There had been a massacre. The cage was strewn with pink body parts and blood. Heidi seemed to be mourning in the corner, her face turned away. I held my breath and scanned the carnage for survivors. Heidi turned, and I saw Dopey’s head dangling from her mouth. He had the most contorted expression I could imagine from such a limited face, reflecting final moments of unimaginable horror.

“Mom, why did Heidi eat her babies?” I asked on our way home. “That’s just the way nature is sometimes honey. Maybe she was scared, or...I don’t know. Things happen.” I decided to keep a closer eye on my own mother. When we got home I paid special attention to her food preparation to make sure there was no foul play. I ate my pancakes in silence, closely watching the knife in Mom’s hand.


“What’s wrong honey?” “Nothing...yet.” “Jason, what in hell are you talking about?” I hadn’t grasped the principle of not confiding in possible enemies.

“That’s enough T.V. for one day. Why don’t you go out and play explorer for a while?” I put on my shoes and solemnly kissed Mom goodbye as if I wasn’t coming back. I stepped outside and walked toward the woods, stopping suddenly about twenty feet from the tree line.

“Mom, I'm afraid you're going to kill me.”

The woods had changed. It was no longer inviting me with the possibility of cartoon adventures or treasure. Her fork froze in mid air. She rolled The contorted tree branches seemed her eyes before setting herself to duty. menacing and foreboding. For the first “Sweetie, I would never ever ever EVER time, I felt small, unsafe. I turned hurt you!” A hug became a squeeze back and played with the mulch in my as she emphasized “EVER.” I again front yard. I missed playing explorer. A felt confident in my mother’s best window had been opened, and I would intentions, especially since she watched never be able to play explorer the same Bugs Bunny cartoons with me after way again. breakfast.


My Father’s Beard Keith Dunlap In 1968, my father grew a beard and bought a cowboy hat as symbolic souvenirs of our six-week Western trip. The hat was a felt Stetson, broad-brimmed and grand, professionally curled, like the bow of an aircraft carrier, on which small birds could land. But the beard was a modest goatee, more beatnik than outlaw, but unorthodox enough for an upstate Republican doctor. It became a mask he wore which hid more than his double-chin. He would stroke it thoughtfully when ever something needed to be pondered to a decision or a difficult emotion overwhelmed him and left him with nothing to say. He has maintained it to this day, although he never betrayed the secret which fidgets behind the reddish gray whiskers and on his purple mouth, surgically trimming the unruly growth with a pair of stainless steel scissors each morning, like a romantic tending to a photograph of a long-lost love.


INDIGO. Jesse Morales The kind of blue that you breathe into: that’s indigo. A suffering blue, a blue like music, a blue-together that you live into -not law blue or duty blue not dying blue or ship-trapped ocean blue not blue-before-bleeding not vein blue not breathless blue not cold or dead or heartless blue. Indigo knows its own name. Indigo knows its rainbow hue bleeds down from skyward on a prism day, knows the long slave handed labor that wrenched its indicum dye from plants by force, yet knows its aerial & earthy freedoms are no commodity. Indigo’s breathing blue suffuses us, sings us into togetherness, blends our earthbound weariness into colorful witness


The Visit Marianne Lyon Dad with his intricate bird whistle bounds into my house same plaid shirt, same whiff of Old Spice, same fire-smile Mom too, plump, wild giggle and Grandpa, one hand waves wooden flute, a carafe of homemade Rose` lifts in the other Harbored at my table, we sip cellared brew in juice glasses Mom, not a drinker of wine slurps a Sanka with Cremora Grandpa’s Croatian flute yodels an old country tune My feet begin to fiddle a memory-dance like I was five The doorbell rings, I say “Please come in” to next-door neighbor “But get ready for some tales; my family has just arrived.” Dad’s verve-green eyes enmesh me to him. His head haloes in rising moon and scattered bits of heavenly glitter I draw another sip; it tastes of infinity. We sit tranced, vigilant. Wait for grandma to arrive


Reading Fabrice Poussin


Survival Fabrice Poussin


Invitations Kristin Bryant Rajan My daughter receives an invitation in the mail, white lace flowers pressed against rich, velvet red, light tender swirls more pronounced by darkness. Sweet letters, carefully written by a child, who held the pen steady to spell out my daughter’s name and address on the envelope. With honor in her eyes, she ceremoniously opens this gift at dinner, carefully so as not to tear the precious paper more than necessary. She’s invited to a friend’s 8th birthday party. “Eight!” her dad exclaims, as if that is too old a crowd for his little girl. Forgetting that his baby turns eight herself in six months. Precious moments of forgetting. Yesterday she crawled across the floor, heavy diaper dragging against hard wood, pulling herself by arms more flesh than bone, victorious upon almost reaching a ball, slipping just beneath her touch. Then trying again and again, patterns of near victory and loss, a joyous Sisyphean play. Yesterday she laughed without stopping when I peeked at her from behind my own fingers. Yesterday she sat for hours in a stroller watching birds and leaves float through autumnal air in awe of so much movement. Yesterday she clung to my neck not wanting to let go, not wanting to release into the depths of solitary sleep. And when she awoke, we hugged simultaneously, having simultaneously missed each other through the night.


At dinner, I ask her, “Can you please not get any older than this?” And she asks in return with seriousness more adult than child in the calm of her deep brown eyes, “How do I do that?” Because she really wants to know. Because since she understood the notion of growing up she has said with solemnity, “I want to stay a child forever.” Knowing that moving through these doors of maturation takes her further from this spot on the floor next to me where we sat for hours for years. And I have wanted that too, for her to stay the child who sits so close and understands the beauty of the world, the beauty that I see. When she learns that her parents will die before she does, likely from a conversation with a friend, she is sobered by the concept. Thinks of it for weeks. Then in the middle of the mundane, while putting on her shoes with Velcro straps, as if she has finally made up her mind, she says to me with certainty, “I will not kill myself when you die.” As if for some time this was an option. As if she has just now made the choice to live even if her parents are no longer with her. But I know what she does not: when it comes time to edge out of my embrace, she will want to because my arms will feel too heavy around her soft and graceful neck. She’ll need to breathe the air that’s not covered by my hair. She’ll need to find her fragrance, her breath. She’ll then define what is beautiful to her. This will come naturally for her. Nature offers invitations to growing girls.

The Year They Went Away Francine Fluetsch Day 0

Today, as Kate walked into class, Frengky, a boy from Indonesia and her main nuisance, had a mischievous grin slapped across his round, annoying face. Kate huffed, that was always a sign for trouble.

Malaysia was the type of place that people traveled to temporarily but ended up staying a long time. It was an in-between zone, something that didn’t look like much, but when given the chance, had more to offer than you could ever imagine. That’s not what Kate was thinking about when her parents dragged her on the plane, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her life, and sunny San Diego.

“Hey Beet Rice, we got a new one for you,” Frengky giggled and elbowed Dai-Sik, the boy from North Korea, on his right. “Yeah, a new one,” Dai-Sik snickered.

Day 15

“It’s my newest creation,” Frengky continued. He stood up on his desk, the other boys surrounding him. “I dub you, California Fried Chicken!” The other five boys chanted along California Fried Chicken, California Fried Chicken California Fried Chicken!

Kate still didn’t have an identity, not a concrete one anyway. Ideas about what she should be called all started when the stupid homeroom teacher had called out “Beet Rice?” in an attempt to pronounce her real name, Beatrice. The boys in her new eighth grade class had of course found it extremely amusing, and had starting calling her just that. She had wanted to die of embarrassment. Kate had timidly mumbled that she went by Kate, her middle name, but that fact was ignored by the boys. To them she was known as Beet Rice or Miss California, since they knew the teacher would get mad if they called her white girl. The only other girls in the class, Mina and Karlina, were kind enough not to take part in the Beet Rice banter, since the boys had lovely nicknames for them as well.

Jimmy, one of the boys from Thailand, could hardly speak English, so his was more of a “Chick-en!” followed along with immense amounts of laughter. His real name was something long and confusing in Thai, so the boys had dubbed him Jimmy on the first day. It suited him well. Kate wondered if he even knew what was going on. She didn’t say anything and sat down, plastering a fake smile onto her face. She knew full well that if she tried to fight it, they would love it even more. She would probably just cry about it later, in the safety of her room. “You are so bad, Frengky,” Mina said


from her seat, shaking her head.

“Jimmy, listen to me. When the teacher comes in, you call her ‘asshole,’ okay? It means pretty,” Frengky was attempting to be all serious, Dai-Sik and Anri laughing quietly behind them.

“Oh Shut. Up. Minaaaaa Mooohannnuts!” Frengky sang out her nickname in that obnoxious voice of his.

“Preeety?” Jimmy questioned, tilting his head.

Kate gave Mina a thankful smile, glad that someone had her back. The nickname sucked, but it was their way of accepting her, and maybe that was worth enduring a stupid nickname. California Fried Chicken figured anything was better than Beet Rice.

“Yeah, pretty. Not like California Fried Chicken and Minaaaaaa,” Frengky giggled, pointing at Kate and Mina. Kate flipped Frengky off and Mina rolled her eyes.

Day 30

“Ohhhh, preeettyyyy,” Jimmy said, eagerly clapping his hands.

Kate’s uniform had finally arrived. Though the hideous yellow shirt and green skirt weren’t in the least bit appealing, she was glad she wouldn’t be the weirdo foreign freak wearing street clothes. She rushed to the bathroom, ripping off her blouse and blue jeans, and slipped into the uniform. Her excitement evaded immediately. The skirt was much too long, grazing at her anklebone, and made it hard to walk. She had told the seamstress she wanted it at her knees! The shirt was thick cotton, and in the hot Malaysian sun, was almost unbearable. She eyed the tie, which of course she didn’t exactly know how to tie. She cursed under her breath, and hoped one of the guys would be nice enough to do it for her. She gathered up her long blonde hair and stuck it back in its mandatory ponytail before heading back to class.

“Asshole. You say that, okay?” Frengky cooed. “Yes. I say. Ass-hole.” Jimmy nodded. Kate laughed, “Jimmy, you know Frengky is always up to no good.” She shook her finger at Frengky. “Don’t. Listen.” Jimmy nodded, smiling at her with his goofy grin, “Ohhh, no listen.” Kate high-fived him and stuck her tongue out at Frengky, who sighed but couldn’t help a bubble of laughter from escaping his lips. Day 71 It was Friday, which meant two and a half hours of art. Kate had always enjoyed drawing and painting, though she wasn’t particularly good at it. That had never mattered at her old middle

Day 57


school, where students got praised for every little fart they created. Here it was different, because here there was Mrs. Yoe. Mrs. Yoe was a small, stout, old Chinese woman—or at least Kate thought she was Chinese, she still had a hard time distinguishing—who was very particular when it came to art. Kate figured that she used to hit students who drew horribly, and if that was still allowed, there was no doubt in her mind that she would have gotten hit, on multiple occasions.

Kate smiled down at her picture. He had called her Kate. Day 92 The math teacher was nowhere to be found, again. Kate couldn’t remember the last time they actually had a math lesson, but that was fine by her. She rested her head against the wall as Frengky filled a small plastic cup with glue. “What the hell are you doing?” Karlina asked, staring pointedly at Frengky.

No matter how hard she tried, Kate couldn’t draw to Mrs. Yoe’s standards, so she attempted to go unnoticed. Today, however, was not one of those days.

“It’s a surprise,” he giggled, his round face bouncing up and down slightly. “Surprise!” Jimmy laughed, always trying to be part of the action.

“Kate, lah, what you think this is? This look like a chicken foot, not a hand! You think hand drawn like that?” Mrs. Yoe chided, clicking her tongue and bobbing her head to imitate a chicken.

The other boys gathered around Frengky’s desk; they were an impatient lot. Frengky of course thrived on the attention, taking his precious time filling the cup almost all the way up with glue. Kate pretended like she didn’t care, but would glance over every so often.

“It going to go scratch in the dirt?” Kate bit her lip, trying hard not to laugh at Mrs. Yoe’s impression of a chicken. She had a knack for laughing at all the wrong moments. “Sorry Mrs. Yoe.” Kate said, erasing the hand furiously.

Satisfied with his cup, Frengky got up on the desk, and held the cup up for all to see. “You see that fly up there?” He asked, pointing at the ceiling. “Today he dies.” Kate rolled her eyes, “well this ought to be good,” she whispered to Mina. The fly had been buzzing around the room constantly the whole morning, and while Kate didn’t want Frengky to have the satisfaction of catching the fly, a small part of her wanted it to be gone.

Frengky leaned over and Kate sucked in her breath, waiting for him to make fun of her drawing even more. “Don’t worry Calif—Kate. The more she yells, the more she likes you.” He offered her a smile and then went back to his drawing, which didn’t look much better than Kate’s.


Kate looked at the others and they all broke out in laughter. This was definitely better than math class.

Ever so slowly, Frengky raised his cup up to the fly, and trapped it. The fly buzzed in the top of the cup, and fell to its sticky doom. Frengky let out a laugh and the boys clapped.

Day 150 Dai-Sik was up at the chalkboard, drawing something on the board as Kate and Rodge were frantically scribbling down the math homework from Anri.

“Yes, Mr. Fly, I am your god. I choose when you die.” “You’re torturing it!” Mina yelled. “Shh, Mina. Let it happen,” Anri cooed.

“Ay, Kate!” Dai-Sik called, interrupting her messy handwriting of math problems.

“Ohhh, fly dead,” Jimmy said, matterof-factly.

“What the heck is that?” Kate squinted at the drawing, it sorta looked like a dog, but it was drawn so badly she couldn’t be sure.

Just then, the Bahasa teacher, Mr. Abdul, came bounding in. “Frengky, what do you think you are doing, ah? Get down from there this instant!”

“You vegetarian, right?” He asked, flashing her a grin. Kate nodded, confused as to where he was taking this.

“Oh, sorry teacher, I have to finish this first.” “Get. Down.” Mr. Abdul did not look happy.

“This how we kill dogs. To eat,” He made an eating motion and Jimmy busted out laughing.

Frengky remained on the desk, swirling the fly around in the glue. Mr. Abdul stalked out of the room and came back with a ruler, which he raised towards Frengky. Kate gasped as Frengky leaped from the desk to the floor, sliding a desk behind him so Mr. Abdul wouldn’t be able to strike.

“Eat dog!” Jimmy screamed. “That’s disgusting!” Kate squealed, trying not to laugh at Jimmy’s reaction. Jimmy paused, fixing her with his innocent wide eyes. “Oh, yeah, that bad. Very not good.”

“Run!” Jimmy screeched. “He hit!” Frengky ran, laughing, out of the room. Mr. Abdul ran out after him, yelling in Bahasa.

“Oh, you no want to eat dog, Jimmy?” Dai-Sik asked playfully.


Jimmy stared at the ceiling, deep in thought. “Ohh, no. No. No thank you, me don’t want.” Jimmy’s wide eyes and broken English always made Kate’s day. Day 223

peeing on herself. The ground was all wet as well, since instead of toilet paper, they used hoses. Yeah, she definitely wasn’t going to be using the hose. Kate hiked up her skirt, and slipped out of her shoes, placing her feet on top of them so she wouldn’t step in the wetness. Holding the wall, she slipped off her panties and squatted over the hole, praying that she wouldn’t miss. Her face was redder than red. When she was done, she shook herself and got dressed again, a smile spreading across her face. She did it, she peed in a hole.

Kate ran down the hall, her bladder about to burst from holding it so long. She had been taking her accounting final, and the teacher wouldn’t let her go to the bathroom until she was completely finished with the test. Kate should have just gone halfway through, knowing full well that she bombed the test anyway. She had studied the wrong tables the night before, though calling it studying was pretty far-fetched, since she had been more engrossed in the contestants on American Idol than preparing for her stupid test. When was she ever going to need accounting anyway?

Day 281 Jonker Street was a street festival that happened every Saturday night. Kate, Mina, Frengky, and Dai-Sik, had all decided to meet up and walk around together. Jonker Street reminded Kate of a hyped-up Chinatown, and in the beginning, it had scared the crap out of her. There were so many people crowding the streets that you could hardly move an inch without touching someone. Now Kate was used to the noises, the smells, the hundreds of people, and she rather liked it. She stuck close to her group, and though she would get the occasional stare for her uncommon features, she didn’t feel different anymore, she felt like she belonged.

She could see the light at the end of the tunnel as she rounded the corner and shoved the girls’ bathroom door open. She froze. The only stall with an actual toilet had a torn up paper sign reading: “out of order” in jagged red letters. She squeezed her thighs together, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to hold it much longer. She peeked her head into the next stall, which only had one of those weird squat toilets. She didn’t understand how girls could use those. She glanced at her watch. There was still over an hour let of school, there was no way she would make it. She entered the stall, holding her breath—it always reeked in the bathroom. She wasn’t exactly sure how to go without

“Okay Kate, today’s the day,” Frengky said, holding up the piece of Durian he just bought from the vender.


Kate widened her eyes at him, “I don’t know if I can,” she giggled. Durian was a fruit that seriously smelled like ass, but apparently was really good. Kate had promised her classmates she would try it, but had hoped she would never actually have to.

of a boiled egg yolk that was slimy, and the smell filled her nostrils as she chewed. “And?” Frengky asked.

“It good!” Dai-Sik said, pushing Frengky’s arm closer to Kate.

Kate forced it down and then spit on the ground, thrusting the remaining fruit at Frengky. Dai-Sik and Mina cracked up laughing.

“It’s a little funky,” Mina laughed, “but you might like it.”

“It’s a little too strong for me,” she sputtered, trying not to gag.

Kate took the fruit from Frengky and gulped. She sniffed the fruit and crinkled her nose. The three classmates laughed. “Well, here it goes,” Kate said, bring the fruit to her lips. She took a bite and cringed. It had the consistency

“Here, this will help get the taste out,” Mina said, handing Kate a mangosteen, which she eagerly accepted. Mangosteen was by far Kate’s favorite Malaysian fruit.


“Guess we can’t convert you into a full Malaysian,” Frengky laughed, elbowing Kate.

things only get you so far, and that true friendships are based on so much more.

“I’m getting there,” Kate smiled as she popped another mangosteen slice in her mouth.

Tears leaked down Kate’s face as she embraced her classmates, knowing that she was probably never going to see them again. This was not how she pictured her last day at Melaka International School. She thought she would have been jumping for joy, ecstatic to get out of Malaysia for good, but here she was, clinging on to her classmates, a small part of her wanting to stay. She was different from the bratty girl that had arrived only a year ago, the girl who had never tried new things or realized how much of a bubble she had lived in. The girl who, in the beginning of the year, had been counting down to this exact moment, the moment where she could escape this pit of doom and go back to the California that she knew and loved. Malaysia had shown her that being “different” is only a state of mind.

Day 365: A Summary A year ago, Kate had been mad, extremely mad, at her parents as they ripped her away from everything she knew. On the plane headed towards Malaysia, as she stared out the window with tear stained eyes, she had decided that she would hate the place, mainly to spite her parents and fuel her rage. What could it offer to her? She had never even heard of Malaysia before her father had mentioned where his promotion would be taking them. A timid blonde girl had walked into class the first day, expecting the worst. She was waiting for them to shut her out because she was different, because that’s what kids did. But they didn’t. In a much shorter time than Kate would have imagined, they accepted her as part of the group, judging her on character, not anything else.

Kate had finally found her identity, her true identity. She looked around at them all one last time, trying to capture the moment in her mind. She wouldn’t miss the stuffy hot classroom or the disgusting uniforms, but she would miss spending time with her crazy class, the class that had made her eighth-grade year more epic than she could have imagined possible.

She had peed in a hole, tried a variety of food that she had never even heard of or wouldn’t have dared to try before, learned how to adapt to the British curriculum, and survived wearing the ugly, sticky, yellow and green uniform. She learned how to be less afraid, how to be more open, how to accept others the way they had accepted her. She learned that materialistic

“Don’t forget us, Kate,” Frengky said with a smile. “Never,” Kate promised.


On the Bank of the River Carrie Lorraine On the bank of the river the stars burnt out in the pale blue air, the white moon withering there between whispering waters and ballast balancing thick steel rails. Waiting on the low rumble, slow call, like a beast unconscious of its tether whose woe was such that fear became desire to steal me away in the night. Waking tired eyes and wasted limbs, only to find day had kindled dewy woods, rocks above, stream below, and the vapors in their multitudes cradling my warm body a heaping pile of coal headed southbound.

Appropriated lines from: Shelley, P. B. (1994). The boat on the Serchio. In Percy Bysshe Shelley: Selected poems. New York, NY: Gramercy Books.


Peanuts Elizabeth Morton I kissed you with peanut butter gums outside the grocery store. Anaphylaxis looks like a figure of speech – a grown man with a foot in his mouth, a rolling stone gathering no moss. We matriculated, that summer, but here you go dying, all tongues and swiftness heading to the black woods. I kissed you with peanut butter gums and you were the prettiest vertebrate I knew, gagging into sawdust. Anaphylaxis looks like an ampersand sitting with its claws out. Here you are, sucking on the nozzle of the vacuum, blue turtle-neck, forgetting mathematics and clenching at air. You shed petals where you kneel. Anaphylaxis is a turn of phrase, flaked out on the sidewalk, gulping the exhaust fumes and waving down cars. Pedestrians smile with their vegetables in shopping bags. Golly they say and by gosh. The sky reddens. I Google how long it will take.


Lumine Lindsey Thaden

(found in the poetry by sylvia plath & ted hughes)

The chairs have surrendered. every woman adores a Fascist helpless, German tongue. a creak stands on the landing, looking down my hands my knees soon, soon the flesh peel off the featureless, fine Jew linen. nightly this dark, feminine agony bright as a Nazi lampshade lost among glittering traffic melts to a shriek as the floor presses its face into the earth.


frida & diego : poema de amor Lindsey Thaden

(found in the words of diego rivera & frida kahlo)

Take a lover who wants you disheveled with all that wakes you in haste & the demons that won’t let you sleep. Take a lover who looks at you like(you are) a bourbon bisket : a love that takes away lies & brings you hope, coffee & poetry. [I don’t like the gringos at all. They are boring]faces like unbaked rolls. I sky you my wings extend so large : my whole being opened for you — I (that clumsy human) : your eyes, green swords inside my flesh. I ask you for violence the tangible form of my great love [my confusion] : acid & tender hard as steel delicate as a butterfly's wing profound & cruel as the bitterness of life.


The more I loved you [the more] I want[ed] to hurt you. With no fear of blood you give me your grace: your light. From you to my hands, a violent flash of lightning : my fingers touch your blood outside time and magic. Nothing is absolute. everything moves{everything spirals}everything flies away.(your absence) trembling in the ticking of the clock. I want to be inside [your darkest everything]. All of you in a space full of sounds : you are all the combinations of numbers reaching my cells : I leave you <heart> like a four-poster bed leaking something so strong they can smell it in the street. I paint <myself> So often alone, I am the subject I know best : I’d like to paint you but there are no colors.


Baby S.W. Campbell We were all sitting at the dinner table the first time Baby brought up that she wanted to get the gastric bypass surgery. Momma was dead set against it from the beginning. I can still hear Momma’s high pitch voice squealing across the room, her hands frantically smoothing the table cloth.

Baby was always fat. Hell, even her baby pictures looked fat. When I came along she was already ten, but chunky enough that she mostly wore sweatpants to school. Things did not improve as she got older. Baby just got bigger. By the end of high school her going to the doctor for knee and joint pain was a regular thing. She couldn’t cut it in college. Too much walking around to class. Baby was back home before the end of the first year. When she got back Momma just hugged her tight, told her there there, everything will be just fine, and brought out a big old chocolate cake she baked special for the occasion. That cake didn’t last too long.

“Oh god no Baby. You don’t want to do that Baby. You’ll die on that table Baby. I just know you’ll die.” Baby just stared down at her marshmallowy hands, biting her lower lip, her face scrunched up that way it would get when she was upset. “But Momma…..”

Baby never really knew her daddy. Momma always said he was a big man. A big man with a big appetite and a laugh like a train whistle. Baby always said I was the lucky one. Lucky because I had the skinny daddy. Gave me my skinny genes so I could eat whatever I wanted. Baby always blamed her daddy for giving her the wrong genes, making her fat. I don’t know. No one would ever describe me as skinny. I never met my daddy either. Momma just always called him the skinny one, but then again, Momma had never been a small gal herself.

“Oh no Baby. Please Baby. You’ll die on that table. Lord I just know you would just die.” It was always pointless to argue with Momma when she got herself worked up into one of her fits. No damn use at all. Baby shut her trap and Momma went back to eating her chicken. Baby didn’t go back to eating. She pushed her bucket away and tears started flowing down her face. Momma didn’t notice. She kept her eyes on the table. I waited until I knew Baby wasn’t going to eat anymore, then finished her chicken up for her. There was no food wasted in that house. Momma’s house. Momma’s rules.

By the time she hit twenty-five Baby weighed 400 pounds. She had to go on permanent disability. Hell of a thing to see. A woman her age, having to wheel


around town in one of them scooters. Use to drive me nuts when I was in high school. Sitting there, trying to watch TV, listening to Baby wheezing.

watching us kids eat. I’m betting it was her favorite thing in the whole damn world. That first time wasn’t the last time that Baby brought up the surgery. For a while it seemed like there was a big fight about it every month. Every time it ended the same way. Momma getting all hysterical, spouting no Baby this and no Baby that. It didn’t take long until it was just the two of them screaming at each other. I’ll give Baby props. She did her research. Read up on it as much as she could. Knew all the ins and outs. Figured out all the risks. Hell, even called the insurance to make sure they would cover it. It didn’t matter. Anytime Momma even got a hint that Baby was looking into it she’d freak out, screaming and crying.

“Choo choo,” I’d say, “Coming down the number four track, the express to Atlanta.” Baby would get mad. Who could blame her? I was being a little shit, but what could she do about it? She was stuck there on the couch. Down there on the far side where no one else would ever sit because it was all caved in. She’d just scream and yell until it wore her out, then go back to wheezing again. God she had a mouth on her. If Momma was about she’d give me a smack. Yell at me to leave my damn sister alone. Never really fazed me much. Seemed like about anything got me a smack back then. I guess at the time I didn’t feel too bad for Baby. It seemed like she was in a mess of her own creation.

“Don’t do it Baby. God sakes, please don’t do it. They’d kill you on that surgery table Baby. Kill you straight dead. Then where would I be, Baby? Where would I be?”

In all fairness, Momma certainly didn’t help the situation any. When Baby’s daddy cut loose, he left Baby and Momma in quite a bind, or at least that’s the way Momma put it. Lots of living out of cars and doing the best you can type of stuff. There were a couple of years there where things were pretty lean. Though you wouldn’t have guessed it looking at the pictures of Baby. Either way, when Momma got the good job down at the courthouse, she seemed to make it her mission in life to make sure her kids never went hungry again. We never had much for Christmas presents, but lord, our house was always full of food. Momma liked

There was just no reasoning with her. I stayed out of it. You know how Momma gets. There ain’t nothing you can do when Momma gets that way. I think what really got Baby starting to think about getting the surgery was after she got stuck in the tub. Momma and I were both at work. She was taking a shower and slipped, fell right on her back and couldn’t budge an inch. Spent a good hour in their screaming before anybody heard her. Finally Mr. Johnson next door found her and called the fire department. They called


Momma and me. It was quite an ordeal to get her out. I didn’t go in. I didn’t want to see Baby that way. Besides, there was nothing I could do that the fireman weren’t already doing. Momma was convinced they were going to have to bust up the tub. She spent the whole time fretting, making plans for what we’d do for showers and the such until we could get it fixed.

“When the fireman were getting me out of the tub. One of them….” “Yes, Baby, yes, what did the fireman do?” “One of them put his hand in my vagina.” Momma just came uncorked at that one. Started screaming and pounding the table. I thought the damn vein on her head was going to pop. She just kept yelling, more noise than words.

They got Baby out just fine, nothing hurt but her pride, but she was real quiet for the next couple of days. Then one night at dinner tears started flowing down her face and she just started balling to beat all. Momma of course came all unglued. Peppering Baby with questions to try to figure what was wrong.

“Those bastards. I’m going to kill those bastards. Don’t worry, Baby. Momma’s going to get us a lawyer. Momma’s going to make sure those bastards rot in hell.”

“What’s wrong, Baby? Why you crying? Tell Momma honey. Tell Momma what’s wrong.”

Baby kept crying, but started freaking out too, waving her arms around, trying to talk louder than Momma.”

Baby had to choke out the words. She couldn’t get herself to stop sobbing.

“No Momma. It was an accident Momma. An accident. He didn’t mean


to do it. He just couldn’t tell one fold from another. It was an accident Momma.”

want to get involved. “You just don’t understand Momma. You just don’t understand.”

You could see the gears shift in Momma’s head. I’m willing to bet without a clutch.

Momma and Baby fought about that damn surgery for a little over a year, right up until the day Baby died. It was during that real hot weather in July. Baby went out to the store to get a soda. The batteries on her scooter went dead halfway back. She decided to try and walk it. Died right there on the sidewalk. Heart attack at thirty-one. Hell of a thing. Just a hell of a thing. We had to get a special wide casket so we could bury her. Momma was inconsolable. She just kept screaming about Baby this, and Baby that. Blubbering to beat all. I don’t know. Just a hell of a thing. It was about three months later that Momma got that gastric bypass surgery. Slimmed her right up.

“Christ child. An accident. Why’d you freak me out like that? Are you trying to give me a heart attack?” Baby stared down at her dinner plate, her face bright red. Momma just kept right on a going. “Don’t I have enough stress without you adding to it? Good god what a shock. Christ Baby, if it was just an accident, why are you balling?” Baby just started crying again. I felt like I outta reach over and give her shoulder a squeeze or something, but I didn’t. I just kept eating. I didn’t really


Old Higgins Farm Windmill, built 1795, moved from its original location, now found in Brewster, Mass Jim Ross


Delta Tamara Miles Delta made her way across the street where a swath of wet leaves made a natural dowry, and she knew she would only ever be married to the dark earth. She carried in her purse a Celtic cross, a gift from an Irish friend, and a small bottle of Lapis Oil created for her by an Australian healer she had met once on a train in Belfast. From her body rose the gentle scent of sandalwood and camellia. Her father waited in a diner to speak to her about practical business. He carried the weight of practicality in all his interactions, and it was this that so frustrated him when they talked. How she had turned out to be a liberal he would never know, and he resented it. The endless talk of yoga, the stubborn attachment to the esoteric and even, in this age, to faith in something besides market value.

but poetry or talk of poetry ---- was precious time she could not afford to lose given the risk of death. Time was necessary for understanding the complex state of human nature and for advocating poetry as an end to divisions and, ultimately, to war. “Good Lord, Delta,” her father had said just last week. “War is a business, and the principal endeavor of its management is to keep order.” She had raised her eyebrows and said, “Daddy, if you ever listened to the Tibetan Buddhists, you’d understand that the answer to peace lies in talking to the enemy and not in bombs and guns.” “Monks,” he had replied in amusement, “live in monasteries, which are hardly microcosms of the vigorous life outside their walls. Your argument is naïve. Why do you insist on naiveté when you are so well educated? A bloody revolution gave you the right to be a peace activist.” He did not add, “and a tree hugger” although he wanted to.

Still, he couldn’t help but smile to see her and sensed in the way he always did, briefly, upon meeting her that perhaps he was wrong to put a label stamped “finished” on the broad world. She reminded him of a woman he had once loved before his rational mind said the woman was wrong for him and he had married Delta’s mother, a wisp of a girl who nevertheless had the capacity to be shrewd, and not only about money.

Even now, she looked out the window at the trees and scribbled on a napkin. He could see that she had written, “The father built a treehouse, and where his girl-child played/over time she made a home, and the only gentleman callers/ were the proud cardinals in their scarlet feathered robes/but the woman she became was never lonely/ She liked the company of birds/When she stretched her arms out in warrior pose, her thoughts grew wings.”

Delta counted nothing but minutes, but these she counted carefully, concerned that the hour badly spent ---- that is to say, the hour invested in anything


Zebra Jeanette Tryon She walks out her door to get the newspaper and she sees a zebra standing at the corner, about 200 feet from her. Plump belly, vacant eyes, black stripes crisp and violent against a preternaturally white hide. It is 5:00 A.M. and the homes on her suburban street shimmer with morning mist. The zebra struts toward her, slowly, as if this were the most normal thing in the world. His hooves on the pavement — clop, clop, clop — are the only sound.

The zebra is just a few steps away now. His smell is acrid; she sees a sore on his hide. This creature will be something or someone else to take care of. She will have to tend to his hunger, thirst, and elimination. She will have to worry about his stance toward young children. Though he seems friendly, with an animal this size, you never know. She envisions bites, howling, wounded children, diseases transmitted by saliva, litigation initiated by adults once deemed loyal.

She should go out and meet him. Walk into the street, put out her hand, wait for him to stand before her. She anticipates touching his face, feeling the heat of his nostril, stroking his neck, shoving her nose into his hide and breathing deeply the smell of his being, the wonder of him. But then the scene changes. She still hears the clop, clop, clop of the approaching zebra, but now doors are opening, heads are sticking out, saying how humid it is and where’s my coffee. She worries that her zebra will be seen and animal control will be called. Or that some neighbor will announce that her robe is open, her feet are bare, maybe she should come over for a drink later on, when the sun goes down. She tugs at her robe and ties it shut. She feels gravel biting into her feet, remembers the doctor appointment for Mom, a birthday party she doesn’t want to organize, a dinner that should have fish (the wonders of Omega 3 oil).

Zebra arrives before her, the fullness of him blocking the sun. Despite the smell, despite the sore she has seen, she gasps with the pleasure, the gravitational pull, the delicious hint of fear that proximity to such a large mammal brings. But that sensation dissipates quickly and her thoughts return to bites and litigation. Zebra sees the thoughts on her face and he snorts, shakes his head. He tells her his name is Zeke. He tells her this with his mind, and his mind sounds like Sean Connery. He says she is beautiful and that he is a fully functioning male. She should untie her robe. He says he has no elimination issues, and even if he did, he would not burden her with them. He says he does not bite children, even annoying ones with sticky hands. He says he will watch TV with her. She envisions him standing in her living room, a light blanket over his back, munching on potato chips and staring


at her flat-screen as they watch Game of Thrones. Are you a mother of dragons? he asks. Why? Dragons do not like zebras. I am not a mother to dragons. That is good. Do you know what to do with me? Watch TV? We can do that, and other things in my repertoire, but first, you have to sign a Zebra Workers’ contract. No. Not that. A HIPAA disclaimer. No, not that. A surgical consent form. Uh, not that. Permission for a background check. No, not that…. She had been petting him, but now she removes her hand from his hide. His stripes have changed; they carry tiny words swimming in streams, looking like racing sperm or crazed nano-bots. The sight makes her light-headed,

then annoyed. The creature smells and wants her to sign some contract. The streaming words, if she touches him again, will find a tiny fissure in the skin of a fingertip, will enter her bloodstream and doom her to the flulike symptoms of word sickness. You should run, she says. I see dragons coming. His head lurches up, his eyes widen with fear and he pleads with her to hide him. No, she says. No. You have to go. You’re not wanted after all. Zeke turns and gallops away, his hooves clicking erratic and quick on the sidewalk, then the street. He turns right at the intersection and heads towards the ancient liquor store and the White Horse Pike, dense by this time with vehicles and irritability, with drivers shielded by wheels, metal and glass, drivers barely awake and incapable of braking for a galloping, frightened zebra.


On anticipation of Harriet Tubman withdrawing fifty dollars cash Lindsey Thaden

Two twenties and a ten: I prefer the dead presidents on the bills. A gray-haired clerk shares her bit on Andrew Jackson’s twenty-dollar replacement in the ornate lobby of Iowa State Bank in Sheldon the 22nd day of April, 2016. Andrew Jackson allowed his female laborers to have children at his plantation in Nashville owning more than three hundred men, women, and their offspring throughout his life. Cash cotton $ Cash money Jackson offered FIFTY DOLLARS REWARD for fugitive slaves …and ten dollars extra for every hundred lashes any person will give him to the amount of three hundred. —Andrew Jackson, ‘Stop the Runaway’ in Tennessee Gazette, November 7, 1804.


We need a woman on a bill. The grey-haired clerk Narrowed her eyes to quarter slots. A younger banker piped in, helping No one will want those bills. I rang my face tightly a sopping wet dishcloth over two twenties and a ten. Andrew Jackson looked at me smugly. I need a woman on a bill, I said right to his self-satisfied pompous papery face. I could have saved thousands – if only I’d been able to convince them they were slaves. —Robin Morgan, after a séance with Harriet Tubman reported in The Guardian, February 14, 2008.


The Story of The Woman Who Ate Her Baby Doris Cheng Beside a stream, a woman rests a hand on her belly and dreams. Once upon a time a mother lived with her baby in a cottage deep in the woods. Though far from town, she had all she needed: a tinkling stream, thickets of berries, birdsong—and of course her daughter, who had arrived after many whispered prayers. At night, while the gnarled trees unfolded their limbs and embraced the tiny house, the mother suckled her baby. The milk let down with a tingle, the downy cheeks contracted and expanded, and the mother felt herself dissolve in the child’s hunger, in the breathing of the earth, in the air. She was a small universe, sufficient and whole. Time passed. The baby learned to walk. Her name was Clara, and she was wandering in the woods. “Mama!” she shouted, holding up a pebble. The girl’s hand was plump and dimpled, but already her mother could see what it would become, the strong grip, the reaching fingers. Her legs were growing too, purposeful now as she took a step away from her mother. And another. White birches swayed to and fro like maidens. Beyond, the world beckoned. The mother was stricken. “Clara love, stay!” The girl laughed. Her skin was fresh, her belly a ripe plum that hung just out of reach. As she wobbled away, the mother felt a chasm open inside her. She had always known the vastness of a mother’s love but never, until now, the empty space it contained. She was in danger of collapsing upon herself. “Darling!” She opened her arms to capture the child in an embrace. Clara squealed and ran. But the mother grabbed her and buried her face in the crevice between the girl’s neck and shoulder. It smelled like warm bread, or a long forgotten dream, and the mother said as she had said a thousand times before, “You are so delicious. I could just eat you up.”


Clara giggled, recognizing this game. The mother pressed her lips against her forehead. Such heartbreaking perfection. The curve of her daughter’s cheek was like a knife in the chest. She squeezed the girl’s thighs and felt the rolls of skin spill over, all butter-soft abundance. So tender, it left her helpless. Ravenous. She loosened her jaws. Fingers, crunchy little shoots. The baby fussed, but the mother hushed her with a song. Head, shoulders, knees, and toes. She counted the little piggies before each bite, tasted the talcum powder on velvet skin. She left nothing behind. Clara was inside her mother again, floating on a warm sea. The sky sparkled with stars. She splashed happily, for she remembered this place. When she was hungry, she ripped pieces of sky and stuffed them in her mouth. When she was thirsty, she opened her mouth and drank rain. When she was tired, she rocked on the gentle waves and slept. The mother was whole again. Beside a stream, a woman rests a hand on her belly and dreams.


Adam’s Ale Betsy Jenifer


Illuminate Betsy Jenifer


below Oak Hill Timothy Lavis five men lined

across the old stone step winter’s shadows crouching, legs apart or else crossed at the boots with shoulders dug into the paintchip doorframe the embroidered breasts of company jackets bleached and snagged thumbnails, scuffed and splintered and growing back thick, pinch at the last few drags of unfiltered 100s the freepaper, rolled, taps out the old march on a bluejeaned shin below Oak Hill cobbles burn at the base of new asphalt potholes a stray curled beneath the burned out trailer slumped in the brownfield still snotted with ice graffitied like the busted stairwelldoor from which a boy slips out climbs to shotgun in a pickup all blue and chrome and rust piled like seafoam bulbous and alive at the borders of what is left of what has been four axles eat into their cinderblocks below Oak Hill the bare lot milky with the bones of summer, snappedstalks, brittleshivering cricketwings, what is left of what would pass as finally insubstantial sings still upon the air

Hailstones & Rainbows Ava C. Cipri

Living in sin, all month

eating the heart out: a man, a woman, a city, always the same; and now, outside, the walls, the red fox, the vixen there it was all long, our whole life a translation.

Cento sourced from: Adrienne Rich’s index of titles and first lines in Collected Early Poems, W. W. Norton & Company (1993).



Five Weeks Before I Left That House Lisa Baird

The first and only time my father apologized to me, he entered my room without knocking, sat on my bed—didn’t ask—dropped his Sorry onto the floor like something heavy no one could be bothered to bury. We stared at it, at the carpet, at the way beige fades to grey after we’ve walked on it for years. I remember looking up, my wooden eyes tracking over his face finding nowhere to land. His mouth: nineteen years of drought, coughing up dead fish for my lap. His mother had mostly cured him of a bad stutter as a child sitting by his bed at night, saying to his sleep, You speak well. You speak so, so well. I like to think that she spoke it as a prayer. That there were times when he knew he was loved. I wonder now if he’d rehearsed beforehand, if he was trying to say I l-love you before I was gone.


Canada Karen Chen I know what it is to feel free-er in Canada To live on the highway and approach the country my brother was born in and lived in and loved We buy Arby’s chicken sandwiches for lunch and at the rest stop Father asks for the restroom, not bathroom Mother requests that we stop at Tim Horton’s for a donut Our car slows near the border between America and Canada and we see the flags mixing with the color of the sky You can’t even see America’s stars from here All there is is Canada’s red and Canada’s maple leaf and the vehicles flying down the road toward home When we cross the border it is new land, vibrant green trees that shake as the wind does The buildings are shorter, wider The people shiver in long coats and turn up their noses if they see you jaywalk but who cares? This is Canada, I am American I say it to myself like a prayer, like they make up the atoms in my body


The Tim Horton’s coffee cup is warm in my grip, and when I take a sip it’s black like the sky here uncluttered with smoke it’s a tranquility that the city lost years ago when it became a city And the breath of air feels foreign in my mouth, like I am tasting something too good to be true too good to be real it tastes sticky sweet like syrup I know what it is to feel free-er in Canada but I still don’t know what it is to be Canadian and it makes me feel in-between, the girl standing on the edge of the border, watching the trees sway to the music of our anthem, the glory of the song we hum when we are free.


Era Elizabeth Morton

I didn’t offer my spleen for this century; but the neighbourhood of decades is mapped out just so. I didn’t face the conscription, lying back, thinking of England. I didn’t count the glow-in-the-dark stickers on the ceiling as Brexit stole my Scandinavian babies from their wicker baskets. I didn’t come here expecting tenure. I lassoed all my ponies and my voice weakened. There is a chorus of old men, who say they speak for me; for my absence. I cannot throw my black pot at your black kettle. No. Just last week I appropriated a plough-horse from Tennessee and then a Geisha girl from Kyoto.


I abridged the death-rattle of a bumblebee, stole lyrics from a country singer’s throat. I wore moccasins to a Devonshire Tea. I didn’t come here for the kicks, but a pair of soleless Nikes got me from Brighton to Bangalore. I could’ve stayed, barefoot, in the corner of a room. I could have snipped off my little-toes for the first-hand experience. There is a chorus of old men, who say they speak for me; for my absence when I am glued to the kettle or crying into a pot of onions. The old men don’t know somedays I sing.


Pathology Ava C. Cipri

alone shoulder blades [p against the bathroom door we/ she/ he/ I





s/ l/ i/ d/ e/ s

this cold tile dizzy clenching

eye-level-ing __________

the toilet grinding

s/ he reaches for the soap

leans over

r u b b i n g her/ his/ our


__________ cracked porcelain

the pink water runs into a clearing the pale hands redden the suffocating steam rises the barbed wire severs these mists until we/ she/ he/ I run/ s from/ to flesh bound-a r i e s s/ he takes off another day’s passing this this shit pools in as blood drains back down salty waters



relapse not this day

not this an/ other begin/ ning

we/ she/ he/ I throw/ s soap against the mirror knowing what we/ I want is to disinfect this mind this body of its insistent [c h a t]ter


Welcome to the Museum of Artistic Apology Lisa Baird In the first room, a classic water colour apology quartet: a series of self-portraits of the penitent’s mouth shaping each of the four syllables of I’m So Sorry. Next to this, a massive photograph of apology graffiti: AMY, I’M SORRY ABOUT LAST NIGHT stencilled across the Bank of Montreal’s west-facing wall. Around the corner, a single desperate apology haiku found inside a stall in the women's washroom of a gay bar:

I didn’t mean it I really really love you please, do come home soon


At the textile exhibits you can view apology hankies embroidered with I humbly beg your pardon along each edge, apology catnip mice sewn for cats left out in the rain, and at least one pair of sturdy woollen apology socks knitted by a motherin-law who can’t or won’t speak about feelings but after seven years has decided you’re in the family to stay and may as well have warm feet. The Museum of Artistic Apology is carefully curated. There is no fauxpology art here, no “I’m sorry that you feel that way” sculpture, no song or dance about whether or not offense was intended. On the second floor, an entire kitchen suite with carefully shellacked recreations of the sincerest apology meals: made-from-a-mix brownies, elaborate lasagnas & quiches–many foods involving chocolate and cheese. In a small nook nearby, photographs of several apology tattoos, briefly popular in the late nineties and often involving animals: a weeping snake curled around an ankle, a shoulder blade framing a regretful falcon with I hate that I doubted you in cursive script below. On the top floor, the rarest of apology art, that of adults made for children. Fourteen “I didn’t mean to shout” handmade dolls, an “I’ll Try Harder Next Tuesday” teddy bear, a collaborative “We are sorry that we’re fighting with each other but we will never stop loving you” apology quilt, and, spooling out over an entire corner, a carefully painted wooden train set with a hand-lettered note: Even when I get mad, you are still the conductor of my heart. Down the road, the Museum of Amnesty & Forgiveness is a wide empty room– each wall a window, the ceiling a skylight. It is unstaffed. You decide if and when you enter. How long you stay. And whom you take with you.


Contributors Poetry

Marie-Andree Auclair’s poems have appeared in several publications such as In/ Words Magazine—who released her chapbook Contrails in 2013—The Steel Chisel, Bywords, filling Station, Structo U.K., The Maynard, Gravel, Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine and Canthius. More are forthcoming in Contemporary Verse 2 and Tule Review. She lives in Ottawa, Canada, working on her next chapbook. Lisa Baird is a writer, a performance poet, a community acupuncturist and a queer white settler living on Attawandaron/ Attawandaronk/Neutral territory (Guelph, Ontario). Her work appears or is forthcoming in Arc Poetry Magazine, Rattle, Winter Tangerine Review, PRISM, Poetry Is Dead, The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care, and elsewhere. Visit her online at www.lisabaird.ca. Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry just outside Cleveland, OH. He went through a messy divorce with Facebook some months ago, and as a result his relationship with time is much improved. Recent/upcoming appearances in Ghost City Review, Minor Literature[s], and Barking Sycamores, among others. Karen Chen is a 17-year- old from New York City. Her writing has been honored regionally and nationally by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards; in 2016, she was an American Voices Nominee. She was also a winner of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Promising Young Writers Program in 2013. Her work has been published in Visceral Brooklyn, Noble/Gas Qtrly and Yo-NEW YORK!. In her spare time, Karen enjoys reading, fencing, and doing math. Eric Chiles is an award-winning former career journalist who teaches journalism and writing courses at a number of colleges in the Lehigh Valley area of eastern Pennsylvania. He holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. His poem, “The orchid garnish,” won the 2015 Cape Cod Writers Center poetry contest. His poetry appearing or forthcoming in Allegro, Asses of Parnassus, Chiron Review, Plainsongs, Rattle, and Third Wednesday.


Ava C. Cipri is a poetry editor for The Deaf Poets Society: An Online Journal of Disability Literature & Art. She holds an MFA from Syracuse University, where she served on the staff of Salt Hill. Ava’s poetry appears or is forthcoming in Cimarron, The Fem, Kestrel, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and scissors & spackle, among others. Her first chapbook Queen of Swords is forthcoming this fall 2017 from dgp. She resides at: www.avaccipri.com and tweets at @AvaCCipri Kathleen Constantine is an aspiring literary fiction writer and experiments with short essays and poetry on her website at kathleenconstantine.com. Her vignette “Nothing Can Be Something” was included in The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2015. She is currently working on her first novel. Hip Pocket Press published Keith Dunlap’s first collection, Storyland, this summer. Adam Durso received his M.F.A. in Fiction from Temple University in Philadelphia, where he lived for 4 1/2 years. Like Thornton Wilder before him, he now sleeps in Hamden, Connecticut, and lives and writes in New Haven. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming in The Common Ground Review, Chiron, The Tishman Review, Stoneboat and Bird’s Thumb. Anthony K. Gardner is a creator of both fiction and poetry. His work has appeared in The Tunnels Magazine: Issue 0, and is waiting to appear in various magazines, with various names, run by various editors. He has succeeded in graduating from Northern Arizona University with an emphasis in Creative Writing. He will continue to devote his life and words to human emotion, an attempt to catch the elusive white rabbit with a fishing pole. Mureall Hebert lives near Seattle. Her writing has appeared in Yellow Chair Review, decomP, Crack the Spine, Lunch Ticket, and Bartleby Snopes, among others. She holds an MFA from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts.


Sue Hyon Bae is International Poetry Editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. Her work has appeared in Four Chambers Press, Minetta Review, Apple Valley Review, Please Hold Magazine, and elsewhere. Alexandra Kulik’s (prose) work has been published in Hyperallergic, The Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research, The Battersea Review, and Bright Lights Film Journal, among others. Tim Lavis received an MA in American Literature from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. He is currently pursuing a doctorate at Binghamton University with a dissertation titled “Language after L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E.” His research interests include contemporary poetry and poetics, studies of the avant-garde, and Benjaminian critical theory. A transient young artist, photographer and writer originally from Philadelphia, PA, Carrie Lorraine is a graduate of Towson University with a BFA in photography and French, Grand Canyon University with a Masters in Secondary Education, and Relay Graduate School of Education in Secondary English Language Arts. Currently residing in Denver, Colorado she teaches 8th grade and works with at risk youth at Art from Ashes. Perpetually dreaming and travelling, experience and memory shape her work. She occupies her spare time creating art, teaching, advocating animal rights, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. Marianne Lyon has been a music teacher for 39 years. After teaching in Hong Kong she returned to the Napa Valley and has been published in various literary magazines and reviews. She has spent time teaching in Nicaragua. She is a member of the California Writers Club, Healdsburg Literary Guild. She is an Adjunct Professor at Touro University Vallejo California. D. Marr’s love of poetry was first cultivated by a college semester spent in Oxford, England, studying creative writing at Trinity College. She now works in communications at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens; but much of her spare time is dedicated to writing, and capturing all that is and all that might be into something as small as a poem. Jesse Morales, an internationally published poet and journalist, lives and writes in Greensboro, North Carolina. Elizabeth Morton is a New Zealand writer. She has been published in Poetry NZ, PRISM international, Cordite, JAAM, Shot Glass Journal, Takahe Magazine, Blackmail Press, Meniscus, Flash Frontier, SmokeLong Quarterly, the Sunday Star Times, Literary Orphans, and in Island Magazine among others. In her free time, she collects obscure words in supermarket bags.


Since completing her PhD on the nature of identity in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography, Kristin Bryant Rajan has been teaching at a community college in Atlanta, GA. She’s currently writing poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction and was nominated for a 2016 Pushcart. Her writing can be found in: The Watershed Review, The Explicator, and Moon Days: Creative Writings about Menstruation, an anthology, and the forthcoming anthology Just A Little More Time, among others. For the past 15 years, Ilene H. Rudman has been in a weekly Master Class in poetry; as well as a bimonthly poetry workshop. She has been published in the Comstock Review, An Anthology of New England Writers, and the anthology Some Kind of Hurricane Press. Her work and her poetry are dedicated to creating beauty, nourishing silence and naming the un-nameable. She is a psychotherapist and career counselor in private practice just outside of Boston. Elizabeth Sheets is managing editor for Population Research & Policy Review, and editor and reader for Black Fox Literary Magazine. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English, with a concentration in Creative Writing, from Arizona State University. Elizabeth’s work appears or is forthcoming in Kalliope – A Consortium of New Voices, Black Fox Literary Magazine, and Mulberry Fork Review. john sweet, b 1968, still numbered among the living. A believer in writing as catharsis. an optimistic pessimist. Opposed to all organized religion and political parties. Avoids zealots and social media whenever possible. His latest collections include A NATION OF ASSHOLES W/GUNS (2015 Scars Publications) and APPROXIMATE WILDERNESS (2016 Flutter Press). All pertinent facts about his life are buried somewhere in his writing. Lindsey Anneliese Thäden is the most recent winner of New York’s 2016 #PoetweetNYC contest with her China Town poem. Her poetry has appeared in New York Metro, Passages North, and eleven40seven. Thäden studies Doctorate of Nursing Practice at South Dakota State University; she views her medical career as literary research à la William Carlos Williams. Thäden is fluent in Spanish, also dabbling with Japanese and French. She is dedicated to communicating in any language she can get her lips or ears on. Henry Brookings Whetzel is an emerging California poet. A recent graduate of St. Mary’s College English program, Brookings lives alternately in Sacramento and Truckee. His poems have appeared in odd places. Get with it. Quinn White is the author of “My Moustache” (Dancing Girl Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in journals such as Word Riot, Sixth Finch, Bayou Magazine, and Rhino. She is a graduate of Virginia Tech’s MFA program and a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee.


Photography & Illustrations The lo-fidelity aesthetic of Philip Arnold’s images published here explores his interest in atmospheres created through the optical conditions of (cheap) plastic lens cameras. Soft focus, lens distortion, light leaks, vignetting -- each of these optical imperfections play a role in creating a visual environment that feels slightly askew, and sometimes even uncanny. Stephen Fretz has been documenting north Jersey’s industrial areas (and the surrounding suburbs) for decades. His work was also included in Apeiron Review’s 11th issue. Betsy Jenifer is from Vellore, a small city in south India. She is rather tall, lanky and obsessive. Her work has been published in Teen Ink, Moledro, Sprout and Quail bell magazine while more of her writing and artworks have been chosen to appear in After the pause, Foliate oak literary magazine and Glass kite anthology, among others. Duane Locke lives hermetically in Tampa, Florida near friendly alligators, ibis, egrets, herons, gallinules, ect. He has had 671 photos published, mostly nature, but in June, 2016, he invented Sur-Objects. Already has 64 accepted for publication. Also a poet, has published 7,065 poems, 34 books, the latest July 2016, VISIONS. After retiring in early 2015 from public health research, Jim Ross jumped back into creative pursuits after a long hiatus to resuscitate his long-neglected right brain. Since then, he’s published over 25 pieces of nonfiction and over 90 photos in 30 journals, including 1966, Apeiron Review, Cargo Lit, Change Seven, Entropy, Friends Journal, Gravel, Lunch Ticket, MAKE Literary Magazine, Meat For Tea, Memory House, Pif Magazine, Riverbabble, and Sheepshead Review. Forthcoming: Bombay Gin, Palooka, Papercuts, and Souvenir Lit. Jim and his wife—parents of two nurses and grandparents of one-year- old twins—split their time between Maryland and West Virginia.


Non-Fiction Sarah Bigham paints and writes in Maryland where she lives with her kind chemist wife, their three independent cats, and an unwieldy herb garden. Some of her work has been published. Much of it has not. Find her at www.sgbigham.com. Francine Fluetsch is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz where she received her B.A. in Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She is currently a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts at Chapman University. She’s previously published work in The Huffington Post, USA Today, and Buzzfeed. Carolyn Noor is the mother of two young children in Oakland, CA. She formerly led a “poetry leadership” after school program for high school students, but now she just raises her own kids, gardens, and speaks out on injustice however she can.


Fiction Susanna Baird’s writing has appeared at Dribbble and AOL News, in Punchnel’s, Boston Magazine and Spine, among other publications. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts, and can be found online at susannabaird.com and on Twitter @ susannabaird. Simon Barker is an Australian living in Sydney although for a number of years he lived in the Bay Area of California. This year his work has appeared in Green Briar Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, Literally Fiction and Fiction on the Web. Shawn Campbell was born in Eastern Oregon. He currently resides in Portland where he works as an economist and lives with a house plant named Morton. This is his tenth short story to be published. His first book, The Uncanny Valley, is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. Doris Cheng received an M.A. in English Literature from Columbia University and currently teaches creative writing at The Writers Studio in New York City. Her work is forthcoming in Calyx Journal. Tamara Miles is a proud member of Irish writer Jane Barry’s online creativity salon called “That Curious Love of Green,” which has propelled her writing ambitions for the past year. She also teaches English at a college in South Carolina. Recent publications include poetry in Fall Lines: A Literary Convergence and Love is Love, an anthology benefitting the families of shooting victims in Orlando, as well as articles for Auntie Bellum Magazine. Upcoming publications will include poetry in Pantheon Magazine and The Tishman Review, and flash fiction in Subprimal Poetry and Art. James McAdams has published fiction in decomP, Superstition Review, Amazon/ Day One, Literary Orphans, and B.O.A.A.T. Journal, among others. Currently, he is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Lehigh University, where he also teaches and edits the university’s literary journal, Amaranth. His work can be viewed at jamesmcadams.net. Jeanette Tyron has been rejected soooooo many times that she finds herself wanting to keep her head in the sand.... or something like that. She’s been around the block. A lot. Worked as an RN, got an MFA later on. And now, here she is. Please forgive her for not wanting to say more.