Canyon Voices Issue 11

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ISSUE 11 | SPRING 2015


Desert Guardian by Kim Kajewski (see Artwork for full image)


FICTION

n The Red Shawl n Encounters in Old Castile n Gym-24 n Clarity n Piece n This is How They Met n Welcome Home n What is This Place n Defective Seconds n Near Aerial Apocalypse n Contributors

POETRY

n WORDS IS NEAT n KokopellI n A Saturday with Anorexia n Lacuna n Letting Go n who is she these days? n We forget medusa n My Father’s Barn n Sugar High n Kemetic Medical Practices n no Voltaire n POEM FOR A SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVOR n Dad: Driving from tomorrow to yesterday n Nighttime Drive n POEM IN WHICH THE LAST WORD IS EVERYTHING n Poetry Month Winners n Contributors

CREATIVE NON-FICTION n A Prose Writer at a Poetry Meeting n Kitchens n Balcony n Casting the Net n Crash n Contributors

SCRIPTS

n Exhibited n Home n Two n Rebecca n Merry Go Round n American Dreamer n Contributors

ARTWORK

n Evil Eyes n Rainbow Eyes n Angha n A Blessed Tomorrow n Into The Abyss n Desert Guardian n End Of Your Days n Nostalgia n Rain n Chrome Study Value: Ostrich n A Strange Sort Of Peaceful n Taking It In n Geode n Paisley Painting n Cornucopia n Out Of Darkness n Still n Michigan Fields n Winter Journey n Nightfall n Wild West n Blue Eye n Compass n Tidal Tribal n Beware What Lurks n Moon Over Gehry n The Lady In Blue n Abandoned Pier Provincetown

AUTHOR’S ALCOVE

n Eunice Kim and the Beauty of Fiction n Dennis Tafoya’s Vulnerable Bad Guys n A Drop of Inspiration from David Redkey n A Leap of Faith with Tressa Rini n Andre N. Jones: ‘All Things are One’ n A Fan of Pham: Talking Art with Dylan Pham

ABOUT US

n Our Mission n Contact Us n Submission Guidelines n Staff Pages


Publisher’s Note

CANYONVOICES Publisher

WELCOME to the Spring 2015 issue of Canyon Voices. We are proud to bring you an issue that may be our most eclectic yet. The writing is sometimes rich and deep, other times it’s quirky and fun. In FICTION, Near Aerial Apocalypse examines an “incident” in row 15. You’ll find sweat, tears, and some cheese in Gym-24. We wonder if the narrator really is dead in What is This Place? And the wife of an Afghanistan vet tries to hold it together in Piece. In total, our fiction editors picked ten stories that touch on many different worlds and intersect where you least expect it. Our POETRY editors reviewed 200 submissions and selected 14 poems with a wide variety of topics, themes, and form. During class, I would often hear the editors reading poems aloud, and the words would linger in my thoughts long after class was over. CREATIVE NON-FICTION explores matters as whimsical as an alcohol soaked kiss, to solemn subjects such as mortality and life-threatening disorders. The connecting thread in these essays is a zest for life. SCRIPTS pays homage to Arizona’s 14th governor, Raul Hector Castro, who passed away on April 10, at the age of 98. We feature an excerpt from American Dreamer, which chronicles the life of Castro, who also was an ambassador to three countries. Our ARTWORK section continues to captivate the imagination. Dylan Pham’s watercolors are vibrant and dreamlike. Photographers Chris Parfitt and Joe Puglisi capture beauty across the country. You’ll also find sketches, paintings, and digital creations that are sure to leave you in awe. Take a look at our cover, graced by Carrisa Cunningham’s Rainbow Eyes, a creation of Prismacolor pencil and acrylic. Stunning! All of this is brought to you by the wonderful student editors who make up Canyon Voices. I tip my hat to them for their dedication, their vision and their hard work. And as always, deep thanks go to my Division Director Louis Mendoza and Dean Marlene Tromp for their support.

Julie Amparano Publisher CANYONVOICES

Editors in Chief Managing Editor Art Director Design Director Copy Chief Production Assistant Fiction Lead

JULIE AMPARANO

Bruce Kimura Cady McClellan Olivia Tejeda Cady McClellan Olivia Tejeda Bruce Kimura Cassandra White Olivia Tejeda

Fiction Editors

Alexis Burnett Kate Currie Melanie Wheelan Cassandra White

Poetry Lead Poetry Editors

Jonathan Smith Lily Arias Jonathan Kistner Abigail Timmons

Creative Nonfiction Leads Creative Nonfiction Editors

Scripts Leads Scripts Editors Event Coordinator Social Media Editor Staff Photographer Marketing Department Marketing Intern

Morgan Henderson Megan Kizer Sayed Karimi Honor Soluri-Whelan Sybil Tracey Nicholas Hall Melissa Selleys Megan Huffman Gabriela Rivera Corie Cisco Erin McDowell Cassandra White Lauren Griswold Ruth Dempsey Viet Pham

CANYON VOICES is a student-driven online literary magazine that features the work of emerging and established writers and artists. The magazine is supported by the students and faculty of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies at Arizona State University’s New College. To subscribe, please click here. Click here for submission guidelines. Cover image Rainbow Eyes by Carissa Cunningham See the Artwork section for full image Uncredited artwork from Pixabay.com

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Beware What Lurks by Kevin Tran (see Artwork for full image)


FICTION Rain by Dylan Pham (see Artwork for full image)


The Red Shawl Eunice Kim Encounters in Old Castile Kevin Mackey Gym-24 Nineb Daniels Clarity Elizabeth Alvarez Piece Tanner Rubert This is How They Met Dennis Tafoya Welcome Home Jason Kapcala What is This Place Michael DeStefano Defective Seconds Cameron Hirsch Near Aerial Apocalypse Juliana Pasley


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The Red Shawl By Eunice Kim

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t would be hard to find a woman like up for a long time, there had accumulated in the Katenka Nikolaievna, a woman who course of several years a sum of forty roubles. lived for the sake of her objects. On her But now there were none. bedside dresser there was a candlestick, a I do not know precisely what date this bodkin for mending her clothes, and a tin happened, but at any event, Katenka had one hairbrush. These were nearly all she owned, day seen a most beautiful red shawl displayed other than the clothes she wore. If my behind Petrovich the Tailor’s shop window. It memory serves me right, this is how the was the most luridly marvelous thing she had objects were placed: the candlestick was ever seen; you could almost say that it was more always on the front-left corner, about two crimson than red, with tassels hanging from its centimeters edges and a border of starkly inward, diagonally; the tin Indeed the shawl could be outlined roses of pink and blue. At first, she had no desire to hairbrush was laid hers, and it need not ever buy it, for that would be a sin, horizontally near like stealing the Firebird from the back of the despair of neglect, for its roost. But as she walked dresser, about two Katenka planned to gaze home, the pinks and blues centimeters away at it and wear it at every indelibly stitched into her from the edge; mind, Katenka remembered and the bodkin, possible moment. the box with its forty roubles. which was used Indeed, the shawl could be the least, was near hers, and it need not ever despair of neglect, for the right edge, also about two centimeters Katenka planned to gaze at it and wear it at away; how she was able to measure the every possible moment. It would be hers, just as centimeters is a question that is unnecessary much as the candlestick, the brush, and the for the telling of this story. What’s more to bodkin were hers. know is that Katenka Nikolaievna found herself unable to go to sleep unless all three So Katenka Nikolaievna, in a moment of objects were placed in this exact formation. It supreme happiness, ran home, took the money is also necessary to mention that when she out of the box, ran back to Petrovich the walked, she counted her footsteps out loud Tailor’s, and purchased the red shawl, which and always made certain that her feet were cost exactly what she had – forty roubles. Yes, parallel to one another when walking. she had to empty her box, which would no Inside this dresser, among her clothes, she longer jangle with coins, but weren’t coins had a box which she kept locked up and meant to be used? Here, the reader should be which had a little hole in the lid through able to infer that Katenka Nikolaievna did not which money could be inserted. Katenka had love her money the way she loved her other been in the habit of putting away a little from objects. For money, unlike the candlestick, the every rouble she spent; as she had been saving brush, and the bodkin, did not truly belong to

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She was to pick up the shawl from Petrovich the Tailor, on the night of 23rd March, as soon as her work was done for the day, for she served as a maid at a Very Important Person’s house. That night, as Katenka left Petrovich with the red shawl around her shoulders, she was approached by Ivan Fyodorovich. Ivan, a man who had shown every evidence of love for her in the past, asked her to marry him. They were standing where Nevsky Avenue was intersected by an immense square with houses dimly visible on the other side. It was still light in the street when Katenka said to him in answer to his proposal, “But I could never love you if you were to be my husband! I could never love you because you are a man!” As she spoke, she trembled, and as she trembled, the tassels on the edges of the red shawl trembled too. Ivan Fyodorovich, a most admirable man in my opinion, was presented with the choice of three different reactions, namely, questioning her, flying into a rage that can only spring forth as a response to the most hideous act of betrayal, or running away. If my memory serves me right, he would choose all of these options. He said, “Do you realize, Katenka CANYONVOICES

Nikolaievna, whom you are treating so cruelly? Do you understand who is standing before you? Do you understand it? Do you understand it, I ask you?” Katenka looked down at the roses on her new red shawl, and she noticed how they wrinkled, delicately, whenever she moved her shoulders.

walked like the most docile and well-trained horse in the world. A long way away she could see the glimmer of a light coming from a sentry-box, which seemed to her to be standing at the edge of the world. Katenka’s cheerfulness faded as she exited the square; you

“Am I worth less to you than that shawl?” Ivan screamed. “I will see to it that your shawl means nothing to you. Nothing!” Here he stamped his foot, trembled all over, and tramped away. Nevertheless, Katenka, with the new red shawl draped over her shoulders, continued to walk home as if on air, now that the red shawl was hers at last. I might even be so bold as to say that as soon as Ivan Fyodorovich mentioned the shawl, he had ceased to exist for her. And as she walked, the sound of her black shoes clicking and clacking against the cobblestones in perfect formation was quite lovely to her. You might say that she

Image: Pixabay.com

could tell because the tips of her feet were beginning to slant outward as she walked. She exited not without a kind of involuntary sensation of dread, as though feeling in her bones that something untoward was going to happen. And I am sorry to say that her dread was not unfounded. “Much better not to look,” she thought to herself, and shutting SPRING2015

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her, but to the world outside her, which she did not own either.


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Important Person’s wife in her morning toilette, what else did Katenka see but the Red Shawl, Continued its flowers and tassels still intact, handing the mistress her manteau her eyes tight, she walked on, de lit! And as soon as Katenka opening them only to see a reached out her arms to embrace couple of street children, both her returned possession, it ran boys and girls, swarthy children. from her with a swiftness that “Look, there is my shawl!” a girl only Shawls can have. In dismay, not much younger than herself Katenka stood and waited for the said, grabbing it from Katenka, Red Shawl to continue with the who chased them back across the morning toilette, so as not to square, but as soon as the make a scene. When children left the square the Red Shawl and were swallowed began to assist up by the gloom of the Very Katenka came the alleyways, running home in Important Katenka could not Person’s wife make out where a state of utter with her any of the children ablutions, it confusion. were among all the said to the lady, unlit houses. “Katenka Nikolaievna must Having run up to the marry you, for she could police constable, Katenka started never marry a man!” to which shouting at him in breathless the Very Important Person’s wife gasps and incoherent words; and responded, “Oh, how frightful!” he advised Katenka, instead of Katenka had no choice but to run standing there and abusing him away in shame. Needless to say, for nothing, to go and get lost. she did not count her footsteps, nor were her feet parallel. Katenka came running home in a state of utter confusion. In her The next morning, after Katenka sadness, she didn’t count her woke up to polish the boots and footsteps and staggered into her shoes of everyone in the quarters, causing Arina household, what did she see but Semyonovna, the maid who the Red Shawl, cleaning the shared Katenka’s room, to gasp fireplace and speaking to the at this uncharacteristic behavior. housekeeper! This may not be Katenka threw herself onto the important enough to note, but I bed, knocking over the might even dare say that the candlestick, which was thankfully Shawl did a much better job of unlit but caused the tin hairbrush cleaning the fireplace than and bodkin to turn askew. Katenka ever did, back when she The next day, when Katenka was a scullery maid. Not a single speck of ash fell upon its pink and trudged upstairs to assist the Very

The Red Shawl

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blue roses and green leaves. “Katenka Nikolaievna must marry you, for she could never marry a man!” the Red Shawl said to the housekeeper, to which the housekeeper responded, “Oh, how dreadful!” Katenka ran away in shame, once more forgetting to count her footsteps. To Katenka’s relief, the Red Shawl was not seen the next morning, but that same evening in her room, after she had lit the bedside candle and began to comb her hair, the Red Shawl entered the room with a broom, the broom that Katenka always placed between the wall and the dresser, and began to sweep the floor. While it swept, it began to speak to Arina Semyonovna, who was undressing for bed. “Katenka Nikolaievna must marry you, for she could never marry a man!” “How odious!” Arina Semyonovna cried. This time, Katenka did not run away with shame, but caught the Shawl by one of its corners and pleaded with it. “I have loved you, why must you be so cruel?” “Am I worth more to you than any man? Do you understand who is standing before you? I will see to it that you feel nothing for me. Nothing!” Katenka, whose humiliation could brook no longer, grasped the SPRING2015


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preferred to frequent the zoo in Alexandrovsky Park, whether or not the reader finds this detail useful. As for Katenka Nikolaievna, she was discharged for unseemly conduct towards her employers and fellow employees, and soon found a job as a nurse for the district police commissioner. She no longer saved money for needless fancies and ceased counting her footsteps, measuring the distance between her personal articles, and so forth. And as before, she did not care to marry.

So that is the sort of thing that happened in St. Petersburg. Only now, on thinking it all over, we can see that there is a great deal that is improbable in it. But then where do you not find all sorts of absurdities? Say what you like, but such things do happen – not often, but they do happen. ■■■ For more information on author Eunice Kim, please visit our Contributors Page.

Image: Pixabay.com

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bodkin on her dresser and ran it through the Red Shawl, piercing it, at which the Red Shawl gave a piercing cry and ran from the house, after which Katenka promptly put the bodkin back into its case. As for the Red Shawl, it was never seen again, though rumor spread a few days later that it was taking a walk in the Tavrichesky Gardens and that it had been there for a long time. The rumor was only partially true, because the Red Shawl never did step foot in the Gardens; rather, it much


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Encounters in Old Castile By Kevin Mackey

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he sun was low, but bright yet, even in late afternoon as Eoin looked out over the field. The wide-brimmed straw hat he wore shielded eyes still not used to the intensity of the light. He stretched, trying to get kinks out of his back he feared were never going to leave. Parallel rows of soil, covered with lentil plants, ran in gentle undulations to the horizon. His back hurt just looking at how far they'd come since dawn broke. "Lentejas," he muttered. "This could put me off lentils for life." "Ae-o-in, lazy." He turned, and laughed. Sofía stood, three rows to his right, watching him. Her long shadow lay behind her, the sun full on her face. Her hair was so dark it shone. High cheekbones told of ancestry beyond her Spanish homeland. Her wide mouth lit her whole face when she smiled, her eyes a deeper brown than her skin. Those eyes regarded him now. She threw her arms wide, thick gloves protecting long, though hardly delicate, hands. "There is much to do yet, caro. Much done. But much to do."

He stepped out of the doorway of the small boarding house he was staying in, right into her path. It hurt even to remember it. He laughed and bent to continue walking backwards to the horizon. Sofía, working a little to his right, matched him plant bundle for plant bundle. It had become a game for them, a race to see who would finish their row first. Now, at the end of the third week, they were expert at gauging how many lentil plants formed the perfect bundle size. Those coming behind them, gathering them, seemed to agree. He smiled, remembering their encounter. ✺✺✺

They had run into one another. Literally. He stepped out of the doorway of the small boarding house he was staying in, right into her path. It hurt even to remember it. His rear end hurt—his pride no less. She sent him sprawling. He took some comfort that she was sprawled on top of him. A small crowd gathered, some dispensing medical advice, others commenting on the ways of fate and the Lord. All enjoying the spectacle.

The white shirt Sofía wore, one of his and looking far better on her, was dusty from the day's work. She raised her arm and wiped the sweat from her forehead. He laughed again. "You've got a nice streak of dirt on your face now."

Sofía helped him up, all the while asking him if he was okay. He assured her he was, using the Spanish he had, supplementing it with English when the words failed him. Her English was excellent.

She shrugged in her carefree way. "Perhaps you can wash it off later, no?"

No, she'd not suffered in the fall, apart from embarrassment. He pointed to her right hand.

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"Is nothing," she said, waving it carelessly in the air. "I have brothers. Much worse happened when we were growing." They sat, in a small cafe on the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, and talked. Sofía was traveling around the country. "Es-student," she told him. "No longer, now. I have finished my masters. Economics" "No," she said, laughing, when he asked. "My mother does not approve." She laughed again, an easy warm sound. "My father approves even less." She smiled at him, her face grown a little more serious. "They think I'll run into strange men." He laughed himself then, and spread his arms wide. "And here I am." Having done that, Eoin reflected that he'd grown more animated on this trip than he'd been for a very long time. But this was the first time he'd laughed in an even longer time. Sofía asked his name. "Eoin, Eoin Kinsella." CANYONVOICES

She cocked her head, a crease forming between dark brows, as she tried to mimic his pronunciation. She waved her finger at him. "Write it."

closed it, and shook his head. "No, I think it's a good idea. To get some practical sense of the economy."

"It may not help," he said, but he did it anyway.

Sofía watched him in silence for a long moment. Then she thrust her chin at him. "And you? What do And that's where her "Ae-o-in" had you do here?" come from. It had taken a little time for her to avoid the Spanish He was silent for an even longer double-l sound when she moment. Then, "traveling too. pronounced 'Kinsella', but she'd Seeing the world." got there in the end. "Well, es-Spain, at least. Yes?"

Image: Pixabay.com

He nodded and smiled. "Yes. España, sí." He shrugged. "I've been working, taking what jobs I could." He nodded towards the world outside the cafe. "There's work to be done in the fields around here."

"Ah," she said. "So you are a "Sofía Jiménez Tejada," she farmer?" answered when he asked her name. She had been working in a restaurant, before that a supermarket, before that a fastfood drive-through. "With a master’s in economics?" "Cómo no?" she asked, her entire body a challenge. "Is it so hard to believe I would want to see the reality and not just the theory?" His mouth dropped open. He

He shook his head. "No, not a farmer—" "You don't look like a farmer." A wry smile had touched his lips. "No, not a farmer. Though I spent a part of my childhood on a farm. But I grew up in the city." "Which city? Dublin?" He shook his head. "No, not SPRING2015

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She'd skinned the heel of it in the fall.


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Encounters...

The proud tilt of her face challenged him, and he'd Continued responded in the Irish he could recall. Her laughter, full-bodied Dublin." He paused, then, "Do you and unrestrained, rang across the know any other cities in Ireland?" square. Sofía laughed and turned away, her brow creased in thought. Eoin took that time to admire the strong line of her jaw, how it

They spent the day together, and long into the evening, and that night she'd been loud and soft and warm in his bed.

They stayed, eating, drinking, talking, as the dark crept over the open fields and settled in the branches of an olive tree that had been old when the Moors ruled most of the country. flowed smoothly to her neck. His After, he watched her sleep. Sleep gaze drifted down. Smooth skin, did not come easy to him. the swell of her breast, the easy ✺✺✺ movement of her arms. Hands that should belong to a pianist. Eion shook his head, shaking off the memory, and bent to the task of Sofía had come north from picking lentils. Extremadura to Old Castile, would be heading on to Catalonia The sun was an orange blaze, later. sitting on the horizon by the time "When?" he asked. they finished with the field. Eoin straightened slowly, feeling each Sofía smiled and shrugged. "It vertebra snap back into place. He depends," she said. looked over at Sofía. She was examining her hands, a grimace on And where? her face. "Barcelona," she said, the 'th' sound in the middle of the word "They are very clever thorns," she entrancing him for a moment. "I said, showing him her hands. "They have family there, and friends." can find the smallest hole in my Then she drifted into another gloves. Even ones I don't know are language. there."

Sofía shook her head, eyes dancing in the twilight. "No, but I like that you try." The farmer greeted them, and the others, in the courtyard of his farm. He paid them for their work and then he and his wife brought out bread, cheese, wine for them. They stayed, eating, drinking, talking, as the dark crept over the open fields and settled in the branches of an olive tree that had been old when the Moors ruled most of the country. Eoin stared at the tree and far beyond it. It was time to be moving on. With Sofía? His mouth twisted. She'd gotten close to him. To tell the truth, he'd grown close to her, as well. Would it be so bad to go with her to Barcelona? The Troubles of his homeland seemed far away at that moment. Eoin looked to the horizon, a smudge between dark earth and darkening sky. Yet those close to him, those he'd grown close to, had been snatched away in a dark such as this. "Where will you go now?" they'd asked, those who remained. He'd just shaken his head. Sofía turned to him, an earthen cup in her hand.

Eoin looked at her, puzzlement on Eoin took her hands in his and his face. kissed her fingers.

The wine was a rough red, local. The cheese, sharp with a salty bite. After the day they'd put in, Eoin found it made for a fine meal. He handed Sofía a wedge of cheese wrapped in crusty bread and watched her bite into it with relish.

"Català," she said. "We have many languages here in Spain."

"To Barcelona, then?" he asked.

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"Better?" he asked.

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He paused an instant and then shook his head. "No," he said softly. "I'll not be coming with you." Sofía stood quiet for a moment, resting her back against the courtyard wall. "Where will you go now?" she asked. He felt the start of a wry smile on his face. "That's not the first time I've heard that question," he said. "And how did you answer it?"

holding his eyes with hers. "And now?" He felt the wry smile turn sad. He shrugged. "Perhaps to La Mancha," he said. "Follow the footsteps of un ingenioso hidalgo." He saw her smile and felt better.

good..." She dipped her head, smiling. "...a charming man." She looked back into his eyes. "Whatever it is you run from—" Eoin placed his finger on her lips. "Perhaps I'm running to something," he said.

But then she shook her head. "You He held her gaze. Her face was are a little...," her brow creased for fierce for a moment, then he saw it soften. an instant, "...mournful, yes, mournful. And a romantic—" "Perhaps." She nodded. "Perhaps it is as you say." "With a lady to think of in the long nights," he interjected. She leaned in and kissed his cheek. Sofía laughed. He'd grown fond of being able to make her laugh.

Then she stepped away. Eoin watched her bidding farewell to the others, saw her thanking the farmer and his wife for the food, the wine. Then she was gone.

Eoin stood silent for a short while, looking past her. Then he turned to look at her again.

"And, yes, with a lady who will think of you, even at night," she said.

"I had no good answer then."

She laid her hand on his chest. For more information on author "But Don Quixote did not come to Kevin Mackey, please visit our a good end, Ae-o-in. You are a Contributors Page.

She reached out, touching his face,

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Image: Pixabay.com

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Sofía nodded and swallowed the food. "Yes," she said. She paused and looked at him. "But you, you will not come with me, no?"


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Gym-24 By Nineb Daniel

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ou’ll find all sorts of people from drizzling over this creature at all times that no various walks of life at 24 Hour one could see. Fitness. You have the regular gym He looked like he was melting goers looking to stay healthy. Near the treadmills we find a girl running to burn He was an absolute behemoth – a total monster off that Caramel Frappuccino she had after of a man. He was the thing hiding under your breakfast. Of course there’s also the Yoga bed at night. He’s the one watching you when Instructor teaching a class of fortyyou feel like you’re being watched. He was the something’s the benefits of sound in your kitchen that you thought Anusara Yoga, or was nothing. He’s the terror chasing Viniyoga, or Yabba Bench press, you in your dreams. He’s Dracula, Dabba Do Yoga, squat, press, the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s or whatever crazy Monster, Dick Cheney and the routine she’s got deadlifts, all of it Boogeyman all rolled into one. them on. And then you have Clay.

was going up and up and up – until poof!

Don’t know his last name, don’t even know if that’s his first name. Clay was, in a word, a monster. He was a complete freak-beast. He was more creature than man. Clay was unnecessarily ripped with pecks that could crush a baby goat. Some say he was in the “World’s Strongest Man” competition but was disqualified because he wasn’t really human at that point. DNA tests showed he had more in common with diesel trucks than he did with people. Okay, that part may be a bit exaggerated, but this guy was not. He was colossal! He could barely fit through doorways he was so big. I don’t know what the hell he wore because he was always sweating so much his white shirt would just fade away. Like magic. Sweaty, nasty magic. I had come to believe there was some invisible rain cloud CANYONVOICES

And for all that, for the intimidating appearance, for the crazy weights he was lifting, for all the Metallica, and all the sweat, Clay was a decent guy that changed my life for the better.

I had been going to the gym for a little over a year. The progress I had been making at first was phenomenal; I had gained fifteen lbs. of muscle in just a couple of months. Not a goddamn thing felt better than seeing my strength skyrocket like that. Bench press, squat press, deadlifts, all of it was going up and up and up – until poof! My muscular gains stopped. I had hit the ceiling, reached a plateau, exhausted my limits, and everything went kaput. For months, none of my lifts improved. I began curling the same 30lbs dumbbells day after stagnant day. These days turned into weeks, SPRING2015


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I tried everything to cure my ailment. Perhaps switching my all-Chipotle diet to something a bit more nutritional would fix things. That only made things worse. Now I was at a standstill in strength and missing out on the sweet ambrosia that is Chipotle. I tried other diets, began taking different supplements - creatine, casein, opti-vitamins, fish oil, chicken legs, moose bladder, beaver tranqs, shrunken heads – and still nothing. All forms of herbal supplementation, dietary

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changes and gypsy muscle magic had no effect on me. I consulted my doctor about my issue. He conducted a thorough physical and took several x-ray shots of my body, only to tell me, “Looks like you’re in tip top shape. I’m really proud of you. You’re much healthier than the last time I saw you. Your blood work shows that there is nothing wrong with your body. Congratulations.” He might as well have said I was terminal. Maybe I’m overreacting a bit, but this was something that was really

important to me. I had always been the skinny kid growing up. It was a huge sense of satisfaction seeing myself progress, seeing my muscles grow and seeing my reflection in the mirror change day by day. I felt like all my hard work and dedication at the gym was paying off. Going to the gym was always fun because I knew I was getting better, faster and stronger. Now it just felt like a chore. I trudged my way back into 24 Hour Fitness to be greeted by James, the guy working at the front desk. “Sup, bro,” he said without looking up. He was busy sitting in his chair doing

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which turned into long, long months. Nothing was increasing and I began to wither.


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me today, bro. Bro, hit chest with me. Bro, hit chest. Bro. Bro. Bro.”

What more could you ask for? I signed in at the front desk and left James to his curling.

James would always wear sweatpants to the gym, and for good reasons. He had complete noodles for legs, or at least that’s Let me tell you about this guy what I was led to believe. In the James. James is not just some entire time I’ve been at 24 Hours random bro; he is the bro. He is Fitness, I had never seen him the pinnacle of brocomplete one leg dom. He is Broworkout, not one. seidon, king of the On any And he’d always Brocean. The bro have an excuse. other day who descended from the heavenly bro in I probably “Sorry bro, can’t the sky to bro for our work out the legs would have sins. When he wasn’t today. They’re doing curls at the jumped on feeling kinda front desk, he’d be cramped, ya know a treadmill working out on the bro? Don’t wanna to kill time gym floor with risk it.” everyone else. Every before I now again we’d “Nah, sorry bro, not could get work out together. this week. My right the bench. leg fell asleep while I “Sup, bro!” he’d say was benching.” But this to me as loud as he could, “I’m hitting wasn’t any “Not today, bro. chest today, bro. Robin Williams other day. Planning on killed himself. Too benching 315 sad to work out legs, today,” he was bro.” basically shouting at this point for everyone to hear, “Maybe I’ll go “What, you want me to do legs higher, I dunno. Wanna hit chest today? I can’t bro, it’s the with me today bro?” Harvest Moon. Yeah, no, it’s bad

I made my way towards the benches and saw that all but one was taken. I hurried towards it before anyone could claim the bench for their own when I saw the big, hulking figure stomp towards it. I could see he was already drenched in sweat and his headphones were blasting Master of Puppets so loud that I could hear James Hetfield shouting “Master, Master.” Clay had laid claim to the remaining bench before I could get to it.

Gym-24 Continued concentration curls with a dumbbell. “Just need ya to sign in, bro.”

“Sorry James,” I’d reply, “I hit chest yesterday. I’m going to work out my legs today.” “Ha! Legs?” he’d snort loudly, “Bro, you don’t need to work out legs. You do that enough by walking. Come on, hit chest with CANYONVOICES

juju to hit legs on the Harvest Moon, everyone knows that bro. Look it up.” He’d get carried away sometimes, but he was a decent enough guy. He was always there when I needed a spot and he’d put away the weights when he was finished.

On any other day I probably would have waited for this beastman to finish his workout. On any other day I probably would have sat back and waited my turn to use the bench. On any other day I probably would have jumped on a treadmill to kill time before I could get the bench. But this wasn’t any other day. I wasn’t making any progress, my doctor had basically told me I was dying, and now this asshole thinks he can just lie down on my bench and lift my weights. Not today! Time to kick this Brock Lesnar wannabe out of my gym. “E-excuse me sir,” I said in my manly, tough guy voice, ‘do you think that, um, maybe I can work in with you? ” Listen, I didn’t want to be rude or nothing, but sometimes you’ve got to be assertive and be a man! “I-if not, then I can just wait.” SPRING2015


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I did my warm up sets and began my workouts with 135lbs. The bench was soaked in Clay’s dank sweat. The smell of Gorgonzola cheese filled my nostrils as I laid down to start the exercise. That’s the first thing I noticed about Clay when I started working out with the guy; he always smelled like Gorgonzola cheese. Always. No exceptions. He would later tell me he doesn’t eat cheese on account of his diet. Makes no sense. I finish my first set no problem. The big guy was ready to spot my second set, still blasting Metallica, still smelling like Gorgonzola cheese and still looking like the final boss of Mortal Kombat. Alright, time to impress this schmuck. Let’s go big. 165 lbs, oh yeah! I laid back on the swamp-bench and gripped the bar. “You’re doing it wrong,” Clay said. What was that? Was that his voice? It sounded like he was gargling nails when he spoke. No way that was his actual, real-life voice. People don’t sound like that, they just don’t. He had one earbud out as he repositioned my hands to grip the bar in a wider position. “You’ve got long arms. Gotta broaden your grip,” he put one CANYONVOICES

earbud back in as the refrain of Through the Never played. Okay, so that happened. He helped me lift the bar off the rack as I began my set. I didn’t notice much of a difference at first, but after a few more reps I noticed my stamina was holding up better than usual. The wider grip was working. As I was going for my sixth rep, Clay snatched the bar with one meaty hand and pushed it back on the rack. “W-what was that for?” I asked. “Go heavier. Pinch your shoulders back when you do it. Arch your spine,” he was telling me this as he raised the weight to 185 lbs. “Lift your heels with your foot on the ground.” He finished placing the weight on and looked me directly in the eyes, “remember to pinch your shoulders back.” 185 lbs was nearing my max. There was no way I could do more than four repetitions. I got into the awkward position Clay had described. Arched spine, feet planted, heels up, wider grip, shoulders pinched. What the hell does “shoulders pinched” mean anyways? Well, he explained it to me. I had my shoulders blades pushing inwards so that they could get as near to each other as possible. Really, this was the most uncomfortable position imaginable. Now just place 185 lbs on top of your chest and boom! You’ve got a party.

Clay once again helped me get the bar off the rack. One rep. Two reps. Three reps. Four reps. Five reps. Siiiiiix reeeppppsss!! Seve“Get it, agh! Get it! I’m dying,” I choked out as the bar came toppling on top of my sternum. Clay picked it up with one giant arm and re-racked it. “Good,” Clay said, as he continued to smell like moldy cheese. Three more sets of that and I was done. I had never lifted weights like that before, never at that volume and never at that intensity. I continued working with the Dwayne Johnson lookalike for the rest of the day. He showed me different methods of working out, unique positions and forms that I never tried before. I woke up the next day with a chest that felt like lead. Everything hurt. But the pain felt good. Soreness after a workout usually meant I did something right. And boy was I sore.

The next day was leg day. Or as I liked to call it, the best day. The day where I get to work out my quads and my calves, my hamstrings and my gluteus maximum. I walked into the gym and was greeted by James. “Sup bro, wanna hit back with me today?’ SPRING2015

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He didn’t say anything. He had removed one earbud to hear me, but didn’t respond verbally. He just sort of shifted his twentypound head one-way to let me know “Sure, kid, jump in.”


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Gym-24 Continued “Sorry, James, its leg day. Do you wanna work out with me?” “And hit legs bro? Sorry bro, I just invested in some precarious stock, bro. Can’t hit legs when I’m making risky investments in a hostile marketplace, bro. Next time though!” I proceeded towards the only squat rack in the gym, and who do I find doing seven-million pound Squats in my rack? The Incredible Hulk. “Clay,” I said, “do you think I can jump in and work out with you?” For Whom the Bell Tolls was playing on his phone as he nodded his thirty-two pound head at me. He helped me take off all the weight on the bar as I began my warm up set. I began my next set with 205 lbs and managed a few reps before Clay pushed the bar into the rack. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “You’re not going low enough.” He pulled me out of the way and got under the bar. Lifting the bar on his shoulders, he paced back a few steps and lowered his body to a perfect squat. “Quads need to be parallel to the ground. Ass up, chest out, back curved,” he said as he re-racked the bar. A part of me died when I heard Clay tell me to put my “ass up.” Even with context, that was the worst thing I’d ever heard. CANYONVOICES

I did as he told me and, just like the day before, the weight felt lighter. My form was better and as a result, the exercise was easier. I increased the weight to a number I had never reached before and performed the exercise without a hitch. The next day, Clay and I gravitated towards each other to workout out backs. Yet again, he was giving me advice and tips on how to lift heavier. This partnership continued on for weeks and months even. We’d meet up at the gym at around the same time, barely say a word to each other, and put in our work. My strength was slowly beginning to increase again. The doctor was wrong, I was going to live! I could see my reflection in the mirror getting bigger and bigger, stronger and stronger. All the little things, all the techniques Clay was showing me, all of it was working out for my benefit. It got to a point where I didn’t mind his horrible sweat and his cheesy smell.

“Working out with the Juggernaut is getting you jacked bro.” James was right, I was growing into a miniature Clay myself. Along with the tips the big guy was giving me, my diet had been taken to unheard of levels. Simple carbs did not enter the holy temple that was my body. My diet consisted of chicken, sweet potatoes, chicken, brown rice, chicken, dirt, chicken and more chicken. The food wasn’t all bad at first, but after several months everything started tasting like rubber. I also had to practice complete sobriety so no more alcohol on the weekends. I was sacrificing a lot to achieve the body of my dreams, and at the time I thought it was well worth the effort. Months passed and the mystery that was Clay began to unravel. I began piecing together who he really was with the snippets of information he’d let slip out. “Finish this last set on your own. I gotta go pick up the wife.” “The wife’s been nagging me to pick up a new rug. Know any places?” “The Cards win? Couldn’t watch the game, the old lady had company over.” “Ass up on squats!”

“You’re getting huge, bro,” James pointed out to me while he was curling in the squat rack,

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I wanted to stop him right there and tell him I did not care about his marriage. I didn’t say anything in fear that he would devour my soul, but I really wanted to. Clay had always appeared to me as a demigod who looked on at human affairs with an apathetic eye. To hear about his marriage problems muddled his image. He was becoming a sort of hero to me. I didn’t want to know about my hero’s mortality. Who wants to hear about Clark Kent when you can have Superman? The gym was an outlet for the guy and I was the closest thing he had to a friend. I’d repress that thought to the back of my mind as I had other things to focus on. For one, Clay and I had agreed on a Deadlift max I had to reach by the end of the year. 400 lbs. was my goal and he was going to help me reach that weight. My fitness life became clockwork. Get up at 7 am. Eat one and a half chickens whole. Run for an hour. Come back. Eat dirt mixed in with protein powder and more chicken. Watch Terminator 2 in order memorize all of Arnold’s secret techniques. Consume more chicken. Meet up with Clay at the gym. Lift an unnecessary amount of weights. Go home. Shower while eating chicken and dirt. Go to bed. Dream about doing more curls and eating more chicken for maximum CANYONVOICES

efficiency. Repeat. The lifestyle was hell but I was looking great, so I kept on putting in the work. But everything changed on the day my Deadlift max was due. I was near the rack, waiting for Clay to show up. He had never been late before, but there’s a first time for everything. I thought I’d finish my warm up

the weights on. This was it. My big moment. Months’ worth of work had lead up to this. Me vs. gravity. The dream match! James had his arms crossed as he watched me approach the bar. “You got this, bro. You got this.”

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her – too much time on bodybuilding. Things have never been this bad between us.”

I measured myself up in the mirror across from me. I was bigger than I had ever been. Squatting down, I grabbed the bar shoulder width apart, ass up,

Dozens of people gathered to watch Clay. He was huffing and puffing as he approached the bar, blasting Rammstein out of his headphones. ‘Du hast mich. Du hast mich.’ sets while I waited for him. James joined me as we began our routine. “Bro, where is he bro?” James asked. I shrugged my shoulders, “Maybe he’s with his wife.” The workout continued. My warms up sets were over and Clay still hadn’t shown up. Oh well, I guess I’d do the workout without the smell of Gorgonzola cheese burning my nostrils. We began increasing the weights. 250 lbs. Done. 300 lbs. Done. 350 lbs. Done. “Bro, I think you can get 400 lbs easy,” James said as we placed

chest out, shoulders pinched and began to ascend. Slowly but surely the bar rose as I did. Gravity could do nothing as I tore it apart with my massive muscles. Isaac Newton be damned, I had lifted 400 lbs. off the ground! The smell of Gorgonzola cheese stung my nose as I dropped the bar to the ground. I saw Clay making his way towards me, the Earth shaking with each step. “I did it, I put up 400!” Clay nodded his forty-pound head in approval. “Good,” he said. Something was off about the guy. For one, he didn’t have Metallica on. His demeanor was SPRING2015


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Gym-24 Continued different too. He was sweating sure, but something around his eyes seemed strange to me. I dropped the bar and let the big guy begin his sets. He warmed up, then began at 400 lbs. Then 500. 550. 650. 750. The entire gym gathered to watch him lift at this point. “Bro, Clay snapped,” James said. As he increased the weight to a half-ton, I finally recognized what was wrong. To the regular gym goer it looked like Clay was just sweating as usual. But there, in his eyes, I could see them. Tears. This superhuman was crying in front of everyone, but no one could tell. They only cheered him on as he lifted 800 lbs. He then increased it to 850 lbs.

shouting encouragement, but Clay’s voice boomed louder than all. He roared as he stood perpendicular to the Earth, bar in hand, screaming in agony and, to the surprise of all, weeping. Clay was weeping louder and louder. Everyone grew quiet. He let the bar slam to the ground as he made his way out of the gym.

through the doors and out of our lives forever. The cape I had envisioned he wore was torn to shreds. “Bro,” James began, “Bro, that was rough bro. Poor guy.” Clay had sacrificed a lot to get to where he was and I wondered if it was all worth the effort.

James and I chased him down, “Clay, what happened?” I asked.

“Yeah bro?”

“I messed up,” he moaned, “I said things I shouldn’t have said. I did stuff I shouldn’t have done. Too much time here. She’s gone. She took everything, the kids, the car, everything. She’s gone man. She’s gone.” We were speechless as Clay left

“James,” I said.

“I think I’m gonna give up chicken for a while. Wanna get McDonalds?”

For more information on author Nineb Daniel, please visit our Contributors Page.

“This is nuts bro,” James said. He was completely enthralled by what was transpiring in front of us, as was everyone else. Dozens of people gathered to watch Clay. He was huffing and puffing as he approached the bar, blasting Rammstein out of his headphones. “Du hast mich. Du hast mich.” He squatted down, grasped the bar, and with a strength and a passion I had never witnessed before, he began to lift. Slowly, very slowly, the bar began to rise and relinquish itself to the mythical power of the beast-man. Everyone was cheering and CANYONVOICES

All Images: Pixabay.com

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Clarity By Elizabeth Alvarez

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here is a moment, a split second every morning where she forgets. That split second between sleep and awareness is her worst enemy. Today starts off no different than the other 1,095 days before it. It is April 23rd, the day of her 21st birthday. There was no party, no alcohol, no one to help her celebrate that particular milestone in her life. She has become a recluse, a shell of her former self, only leaving her house when she absolutely must... and on Sundays. On Sundays, while her father sleeps off his binge from the night before and while the rest of the sleepy little town heads off to various religious institutions, she repeats the same routine. She dons a simple floral sundress that reflects a positivity that she does not feel and fixes a small but insincere smile to her face. Although it is cool and overcast, she leaves her sweater at home, preferring to feel the bite of the crisp wind against her bare arms. She lifts a hand in recognition when neighbors bid “good morning,” but does not return their greetings. She climbs into the old, rarely used compact car, but does not bother with the seatbelt. She backs out of her driveway carefully, mindful of small children, and heads towards her place of sanctuary. She pulls into the small and nearly empty parking lot. She reaches across the seat and opens the glove box, extracting a small and worn sheet of paper, rereading the words before placing it on the passenger seat. And she waits. How long she waits depends on her

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Image: Pixabay.com

mood. If she is agitated, she waits for a longer time than if resigned. Most Sundays, like today, she is resigned. She watches the tide as she waits. She imagines the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore, tumbling like the swirl of emotions within her. And only then, when her heartbeat is calm and her thoughts are clear does she exit the vehicle. Noting the gathering clouds overhead, she leaves her sunglasses behind and tucks her keys under the driver’s side mat before closing the door. When she meets the end of the sidewalk, she toes off her sandals, leaving them in favor of feeling the tiny grains of sand beneath her feet. She pauses, breathing deeply and lets the ocean air invade her lungs. After she exhales, SPRING2015


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her first whiff of smoke, memories invade her thoughts. They say that the sense of smell is one of the most powerful memory triggers, and it rings true for her as well. The smell of smoke, whether it comes from a candle or a bonfire, always brings her back to that horrendous day, the day she lost nearly everything.

few hours later, she remembers pulling up to the street and seeing the chaos of fire engines, police cars and neighbors blocking the road. She remembers running past paramedics and officers, trying to find a way into the burning inferno that used to be her house, only to be held back by a fireman. She cannot forget the groaning of the house as it collapsed upon itself, nor can she forget the smell of burning flesh. The screaming was the worst. She can hear it all the time; a phantom sound that echoes within her mind.

her shoulders lift, as does a bit of her burden. One step at a time, she moves until she is standing near the edge of the ocean. At this time of day, the tide is low but she still walks deep enough for the water to lick at her ankles She can recall the day clearly, as every so often. She closes her eyes if playing a home movie in her and listens to the roar of the mind. The day was perfect, sunny ocean. It’s a different kind of roar and warm with a slight breeze. than the one she hears in her nightmares, but a roar nonetheless. The One step at a time, she only thing that calms her In the hospital, her friend and keeps her from holds her hand as the moves until she is standing screaming is the coolness police officers tell her that near the edge of the ocean. of the water surrounding they are sorry for her loss. her feet. The wind is also The doctor who treats her her friend here. Instead for shock tells her that she of causing daring flames to lick is lucky that she still can recall the Friends and family gathered to outwards, like it does in her good memories of the day, and celebrate her 18th birthday. She memories, she can see the swirl of can recall her father smacking her that some people forget the entire fine mist that the water produces. mother’s behind playfully and her day leading up to a traumatic She closes her eyes and breathes event altogether. She has never mother’s melodious laugh as she in the salty air. One. Two. Three. felt lucky. Lucky would have been passed by the grill on the way to Exhale. dying in that fire along with her the kitchen to get some more drinks. She can see her 8-year-old mother and her siblings. Lucky She can hear faint sounds of would have been going home with twin brother and sister being children laughing farther down her father, not the shell of a man chased by her uncle, who flew in the beach. She opens her eyes he has become. Lucky would have from Cincinnati. She remembers and turns to watch as a small been forgetting the happiness that squealing with joy as her parents family sets up for a few hours at presented her with keys to a used, was shattered the moment she saw the beach, despite the threat of the flames licking towards the but well kept, car. Then she rain. If she squints, she can see dark and starry sky. remembers going to bed angry the bustling of waiters at the because her parents wouldn’t let Seaside, a popular, but nearly her stay out past 9 PM since she She is jarred out of her memories empty, beachfront restaurant. had school the next day. She did by the sound of the phone ringing From here, she can see the smoke it anyway, sneaking out her in the pocket of her dress. She rise from the outdoor grill. Again, second story window and takes it out but doesn’t look at it. she waits. She waits for the wind climbing down the tree, laughing She knows who it is. It’s always to swirl around her, bringing the as she headed towards her best the same person, her best friend, charcoal smell with it. As she gets friend’s house. Arriving home a the one she never sees anymore. CANYONVOICES

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She ducks her head to avoid an incoming wave and gets pulled under. Instinct causes her to fight and swim towards the surface, and she comes up gasping for air only to be thrust back under by another wave. Again, she tries for the surface. She can’t tell if it’s the waves that roar around her as she comes back up once again or if it’s just the pounding of her heartbeat in her ears. Wave after wave pulls her under until her body is weak and her lungs burn with desire to expel the water and breathe in fresh air. There is a moment of clarity, when heading towards unconsciousness, where she CANYONVOICES

must choose to fight with every fiber of her being, knowing that everything will continue to hurt, or choose to surrender and be consumed by the darkness and find peace. Glimpses of her life flash through her mind. She sees her father with the bottle permanently attached to his hand. She can hear her friend’s voice saying, “Hey, it’s me. I know today sucks…. Just... call me. Okay? We’ll go do something, anything to get

noodles as she collapses in the sand near her phone and lies there until she is consumed by tremors. Belatedly, she notices that the family has left and the sky is now an angry purple. As the first drops of rain fall, she makes her way to the parking lot where she slips on her shoes and walks the short distance to her car. Once inside, she reaches under the mat for her keys, turns on the engine and pauses a moment

Image: Pixabay.com

your mind off what happened…. And happy birthday….” With sudden determination, she opens her eyes, the saltiness stinging a bit, and swims underneath the waves until she can feel the sand beneath her feet and her lungs burn with the effort. Near the shore the waters calm, the waves break, and she manages to come up to the surface. After coughing up part of the ocean, she takes several deep breaths and wades back to shore. Her arms are like limp

before turning on the heater. She takes a moment to gather herself before she reaches over to the passenger seat and picks up the worn note. She allows herself one final look at the despairing words she penned many months ago before she places the grim note back into the glove box where it would stay for the next seven days. ■■■ For more information on author Elizabeth Alvarez, please visit our Contributors Page.

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Her friend calls every year on this day. She tosses the phone backwards, letting the sand break the fall, and moves to walk deeper into the ocean. The water at her feet grows warmer the longer she stands in place. So, as she ventures into deeper water she can feel the chill deep within her bones. Ignoring the instinct to leave the chilly ocean, she pushes further out and lets the water push and pull all around her as she moves along with the current. Just treading water the same way she muddles her way through life, never doing anything that will give her a sense of pleasure. Pleasure is something that she doesn’t deserve. Part of her lives as if she was the one trapped in the fire. Guilt and anger consume her leaving no room for happiness.


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Piece By Tanner Rubert

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here are moments when I think about what my life would be like without these nights: me, wide awake at three in the morning, hugging my husband’s back so hard it’s like I can hear his heartbeat through my cheek. His cotton t-shirt is wet like a soggy napkin, and I can feel it tightening as he struggles to stay still. I whisper in his ear, telling him that it’s alright and that I’m here, and it’ll never happen again. I mimic the kind of breathing he should be doing; deep, continuous breaths as opposed to his current shallow and panicked ones. I have to rub the scar on his chest so he understands that he survived, that our home isn’t Afghanistan. I’m always angry, at first. I usually slide from wanting to kill his unit, who were late to help him, to being mad at him for even going over there and becoming just another victim of war. Right now he’s probably imagining that his buddies were too late, and the Afghani sniper didn’t miss his second stab attempt. Selfishly, I am upset that I can’t sleep because of his thrashing. His legs shake and strike mine, and I can hear his sobs. I pull in a little

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closer and kiss the hair on the back of his head; it’s sweaty and unkempt, like kissing a swamp, but I can feel him relaxing. He’s not a big man, but my arms twitch with the strain of holding him so tightly for what feels like hours. Unconsciously, my head moves up to his shoulder and I rest my weary chin there, occasionally whispering a “sshh” as he tries to steady his breathing. The weight of my long day seems to be pooling into my brain, and I’m almost asleep before he winces again. He coughs a little, so I pat his back and press my lips to the damp spot of his shirt where his shoulder is hiding. He finally flips over and I catch a glimpse of his eyes. They’re like a dog who did something bad and wants you to know how sorry he is, but can’t form any words to tell you. His nose is running and tears are smeared all over the pillow and his cheeks. We catch looks for a moment as he bows his head, which compels me to grasp it and hold it to my chest. He starts sobbing softly again, squeezing my lower back so hard I can feel my skin being pinched. I rock him back and forth, like I did our daughter when she was a baby. I think the worst of it is over.

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I feel so much older than twenty-eight. Dealing with this is exhausting, and on the bad days, a part of me wishes I had met Jake before he was like this. Or worse, not at all. He’s the best friend I’ve ever had, but I’ve also never had a friend

who’s hurt me as much as he has. For all the mornings where he kisses me awake and takes our little girl to school, there are mornings where he lays in bed and only gets up to go and sit like a zombie in his office. If I ask, he just shrugs it off; if it weren’t for his therapy, he’d never talk about it. I just want this to be easier. Katie’s getting old enough to wonder why, some days, her dad won’t play with her, and I’m running out of excuses. Jake turns back over, mumbles a “thanks,” and grabs my hand. His hand is rough; he’s an architect and years of drawing have made it bumpy and coarse like a piece of bark. But, for how hardened his hands are, his fingers are long and delicate, perfect for getting the right angle on a sketch or measuring a contour line. Just like mine. He squeezes my hand, gently rubbing his thumb against the tattoo on my hand. I got it years ago, when we first got married, and he knows that it’s still a pain to this day. At my tattoo shop, I actively discourage these

tattoos for this same reason; the skin is so soft in this area that you can really damage your hand for something frivolous. I have Jake’s name written in script going across the top of my hand, a little wedding present to myself that I got on our honeymoon. Even now, the squeeze from him registers a slight pain in the damaged nerves. I bring our balled up hands to my lips, giving his fingers a gentle kiss. Since he doesn’t acknowledge, I can only hope that a part of his brain felt it. My head feels like it weighs a thousand pounds as I lay back down on my pillow. He’s still rubbing my hand, and I can see a small, secret smile tucked into the corner of his mouth. It’s not much, but that smile means a lot, and I know then that at least I haven’t lost him. So I’ll keep fighting, and keep earning that smile piece by piece. ■■■ For more information on author Tanner Rubert, please visit our Contributors Page.

Image: Pixabay.com

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I thought I knew what I was getting into when I met Jake; like the sweet man he is, he was very upfront about his condition. He told me that he was one of the lucky ones; a lot of soldiers come back undiagnosed, and they suffer for years before getting help. Years of therapy and medication had weaned off the worst of the symptoms, but they still bubble just beneath the surface. He doesn’t like to sit with his back to doors, and he shakes so much I have to hold his hand to relax him when we are in crowded places. And, of course, there are the nightmares; on a good week, he will have one, but more often than not, he cycles through about two. Sometimes, I forget that he can be funny and charming when he’s weeping like this.


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This is How They Met By Dennis Tafoya

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llison woke up and it was the same room every day. That was something. The place didn’t look like much, four scuffed panel walls, a dented metal door that opened onto the highway. A corner room in a cinderblock motel on the White Horse Pike in Absecon, but she could walk to work at the diner, and there was a Wawa across the street so she could get coffee and a pack of cigarettes when she got fidgety. It took a while to get across the road, sometimes, and she’d look into the cars at the fathers going home at the end of the day, the mothers picking up their kids from school. She looked in at car seats and saw bright orange crackers clutched in small fists. Kids in shoulder pads on Sundays, eating ice cream after the games. No one made eye contact with her except dazed-looking toddlers or golden retrievers with their blonde muzzles pressed against the windows, as if she was invisible to everyone but small children and dogs. She felt like a ghost standing by the side of the road. One of those dead hitchhikers from the stories teenagers told each other in the dark. Imagined the cigarette butts and white plastic Acme bags tumbling at the side of the road blowing right through her on their way to the bay. Sometimes she would put her hand on her ribcage just to feel her heart. She’d lost her license when she’d wrecked the Escort, trying to drive to the base of one of the windmills on the edge of the

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This story is an excerpt from Dennis Tafoya’s upcoming novel, Black Horse Pike. His previous novels include Dope Thief, The Wolves of Fairmount Park, and The Poor Boy’s Game. wetlands. She’d remembered bits of it. Opening the windows to let the air in while she drove along the water. Turning the radio up to hear ‘Stolen Car,’ and singing, the cold mist gathering on her cheeks while she drove. And later, talking with the judge and crying on a hard bench in the police station. The day manager at the motel, Kavi, brought her the books people left behind, after he saw her sitting on the curb reading a Vonnegut paperback she’d accepted from the silent Ecuadorian girl who cleaned the rooms. Allison was reading Robinson Crusoe and had The Magic Mountain and a biography of Joseph Smith on her nightstand, as if she was in a kind of demented book club for transients. She didn’t sleep much. During the day she stood in her open doorway and awarded names to the other furtive and mostly silent people living at the Lucky Seven. Black-haired Woman with Devil Tattoo. Girl with Port Wine Stain. Red Shirt Man. Being at work was better, though as the days got colder and darker there were fewer people in for

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The Sea Strand Diner was one of those places that still sold gum under the register counter, and the counter was always crowded with little boxes for nickels and dimes with pictures of local kids who needed new wheelchairs or skin grafts or a liver transplant. The casinos were only a few miles away and at night the eastern sky glowed blue with their lights, but the tide of money stopped at the bay and things out here looked pretty much like they’d always looked. The bars and dry cleaners and convenience stores along Route 30 had names like Four Aces and Royal Flush and Lucky Devil and Jokers Wild, naked and pathetic attempts to link the drowned flatlands along the pikes to the noise and lights of the casinos. There was something self-defeating in this, Allison thought, like asking your friends to call you by a nickname that you’d thought of yourself. Days off, she walked. West along 30, one day as far as the giant

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bottle of wine at the turnoff for the Renault winery. A good landmark for a drunk, she thought. An easy place to convince herself to turn around and go back. Ten miles, with a bottle of water hanging out of the jacket of her parka and the beginning of a sweat rash under the waist of her frayed jeans and on the backs of her knees. She walked because she’d lost her license, but told herself it was good exercise and she was sweating out all the poison she’d loaded herself with all that time waiting. All those nights sitting in bars, or buying pints of Cuervo Especial and driving around. Waiting for something to happen. Waiting for Wat to reappear.

This is how they met: She was working in a dress shop, a place called Haute in the Trop. The store came and went, but for a few months she worked there that spring. Inside a store, inside a casino in Atlantic City. She would spend the day guessing what it looked like outside, then during her breaks she’d run for the exit to check and smoke a cigarette. The place sold the kind of dresses that only looked good on birdlike twenty-one-year-olds. The big-shouldered casino women would come in, looking armored in their floppy yellow

jerseys and visors and bulky plastic glasses, scowl at her and walk out. Or hold the dresses up to her thin frame and say, I should get this for my niece, she’s about your size. She told the manager, Mr. Ruiz, they should give it up, just carry the little dice earrings and shot glasses the casino women were looking for. She said, “Who the hell comes into a casino looking to drop six hundred bucks on a cocktail dress?” Mr. Ruiz didn’t really listen when she talked. He’d smile and look at her the way a cartoon cat would look at a mouse. She told Rodi that, the waitress from the Boat Club she’d get high with after work, and Rodi snickered and said, yeah, or like when one cartoon character is really hungry and sees the other one as a pork chop. They both laughed hard at that, in that helpless way you’d get when you were really high. Though Rodi said they should call it ‘getting haute’ in honor of the store. She’d talk about Mr. Ruiz, who was nice enough, but who would sing to her, some shit from American Idol. He’d be moving his shoulders and sliding his head around on his chicken neck, doing his moves while she tried to keep a smile on her face. He’d ask her why didn’t she like Kelly or Carrie and she’d think, oh Christ in heaven. But she tried to be polite, tell him she liked different stuff and leave it at that.

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dinner. Nicolette, the manager at the Sea Strand, liked her because she’d work shifts for the teenagers from Absecon and Pleasantville who’d stay home with their periods, or skip work for dates with the sullen boys who sat for hours in the booths nursing a single coke or an order of fries.


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This is How They Met Continued Most of the time she was alone. No boss, few customers. She’d drape herself across the counter, reading, even though they were supposed to hover near the front of the store in case someone came in. Make eye contact with potential customers. She couldn’t use her

She must have been lost in it a good long while because when she looked up, he was standing there and smiling. He was big, wide across the shoulders and wore a dark jacket and a dark shirt. He had a beard then, cropped close to his face. He smiled like he recognized her and for a moment she tried to place his face, but then he just turned and started looking around the store, so she turned the book over and stood up in case he wanted to ask her anything. “Is that good?” Nodding at the book, and she said yes. “I like Philip Roth.” She held it up. He nodded, went back to the door and looked up and down the little arcade. “You like working here?”

headphones, but she’d have her iPod in the little docking station under the counter. Kronos Quartet, sometimes, or Sigur Ros. Music that made her think of deep water, of being in deep water, the cold and near dark. She’d listen and sometimes she’d read, keeping one eye on the door. Most of the time. Unless she was really absorbed in the book, which she was when Wat first walked in.

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She thought about that. “It’s not as Image: Pixabay.com bad as waitressing. I did that for a while. Better money, but they run your ass off.” “Do you wear any of these clothes?” He had that smile going, like he was thinking of a joke he wanted to tell her. It made her smile back. She saw he had a tiny scar at his temple, a faint line.

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“A night at the opera.” “Right. Or someone asked me to prom.” She hid her mouth with her hand, a habit from the years of crooked teeth and the braces that had straightened them.

She turned her back to him and he zipped up the back of the dress while she opened the register. She felt the tips of his fingers on her back then. Light and cool, she thought.

He was going through the racks, picking out dresses and shoving them back. One of them dropped to the floor and he kicked it under the rack. He pulled something loose, exposing the sleeve, a deep red, and there was a dare in his eyes. “How about this one?” She didn’t go to the dressing room but just stood up against the wall behind a display case to shield herself from the view of the arcade while she shimmied out of her green dress. He went behind the counter and stood there, big in his raincoat, idly punching buttons on the register. He watched her out of the corner of his eyes when she was down to panties and a bra, and she stopped and stood still, and he did, too, one slender finger playing on the buttons. People walked by, but no one looked in or came through the door. She

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noticed and it was interesting, odd, that a big man would have such slender fingers. She watched him, just the tip of his finger moving, and he watched her, standing with the crimson dress bunched in her hands, and then she stepped into it and moved over to him. She turned her back to him and he zipped up the back of the dress while she opened the register. She felt the tips of his fingers on her back then. Light and cool, she thought. The way you’d picture a musician’s fingers, maybe. He scooped up the money and they started walking out, stopping to unlimber a few more dresses as they went, and when they hit the arcade they walked faster and faster, so that by the time they got out to Pacific Avenue they were laughing, almost doubled over. Somewhere along the block she kicked off her shoes. She was calling him, asking what was his name, but he just

kept moving, the dresses lofting like kites over his wide shoulder, and she followed.

The rest of it was summer. She was living in an apartment in Ocean City and he’d come by late at night and take her out in Atlantic City, or wake her up in the morning and drive her down to the bridge at the north end of town overlooking the bay. They’d walk in the sand, stop to look at tiny white crabs moving in their holes. Smooth stones with layers of purple and red. Sometimes he had a lot of money and sometimes he was broke. Once he came in the middle of the night and there was a man in the living room. Wat just sat down and started talking with the guy, who sipped at a beer, looking back and forth at her and at him until he made excuses and went away. She told Wat he had to call or make plans or something to let her know he was coming and he just nodded and knelt between her legs and kissed the tops of her thighs. He told her he didn’t care what she did when he was gone, and she asked if he was seeing other women and he said no. She pulled his coat off, finding small holes in the tail of it, a group of little holes. He put his head against her stomach and looked up at her and smiled. That’s number 4 or 5 shot, he said. She teased a

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“No. Not really. Maybe if I had a wedding to go to or something.”


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This is How... Continued little singed piece of paper out of one of the holes and he said, that’s wadding. “You were shot at.” She let her head tip sideways and thought about that. She lifted the tiny piece of burned paper to her face and smelled the black powder. It was something she had never thought about. People firing guns at each other. She said she’d smell that whenever she thought about wanting to kill someone. The faint, bitter smell. Like it

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apartment. A rest stop somewhere up the Parkway, maybe. He laid the other bag on the floor and took out a long bundle wrapped in toweling and two smaller ones. There were guns in the bundles, and he sat cross legged on the floor and showed her how each one worked and how to clean them. Running a brass rod down the barrels with a piece of soft cotton at its end. He showed her how to make sure the guns were empty and how Image: Pixabay.com the safeties worked. She held a bullet up and looked at the small dimples gave off this odor, wishing in the brass and the difference someone dead. in the metals. She thought about the slug separating from “They put paper in bullets?” the shell and racing away on a tongue of fire. She held the cool “In shotgun shells.” metal to her nose and said there wasn’t any smell to it like the He went back down to the car smell of the wadding. He said, and came back with two duffel that’s because nothing bags, one small and one large. happened yet. The small one had cash in it and he gave her some. It was in He lived his life in good neat little packets, wrapped moments, the way she thought with pieces of paper like she’d about it. They’d go out and seen at the bank. He told her to drink, walk in the street or unwrap the bundles and throw down on the boardwalk and he the paper wrappers out was always smiling. He’d stop someplace far from the her and point out things she

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When he was flush they’d eat steak and lobster, drink iced vodka and lose money at the tables. He played craps and roulette and wasn’t any good at either of them. Drop a hundred-dollar chip on her birthday or what he said was the date they’d met, only it was never the same number twice. When he was broke they’d walk on the beach, pour rum into coke cans so the drinks got stronger as they drank until she would stand at the edge of the water and feel like she was racing into the ocean just standing still. Her arms out, the wind moving through her hair and between each finger of her outstretched hands. He’d come back with a beard, or shaved clean. His hair dyed, or cut short. Sometimes there were wigs in the duffel, and once the uniform of a policeman from Rockville, Maryland. He’d get undressed

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and there would be green bruises on his legs, a jagged cut roughly stitched in his hip. Stiff black thread crusted with his blood that poked at her skin when they lay together. She’d touch the rough knots and he’d watch her eyes. She never reacted except with curiosity and only asked questions to hear his explanations. This, she told herself, this is why he keeps coming back.

They’d been married four months when she’d read about the arrest, for carrying a gun, and then he was gone into prison someplace upstate. She looked him up on the website of the corrections system and saw his inmate number and that he was in prison in Delmont, an hour away, but she never went and he never called. Sober now, trying to find muscles she’d lost track of, she’d hike down the bay to watch the points of the steelgray waves go white as they tipped and fell into troughs.

She’d watch the big blades of the windmills going fast as clouds rolled out over the water and try to remember why it had seemed so important to go out to them. Battering the gate with the car, laughing and singing and crying, the way she’d get sometimes. One Wednesday night at the Lutheran Church they gave her a thirty day chip. It was white and looked like one of the chips that came with a home poker game set, except for having a big ‘30’ embossed on one side. She smiled and looked down, the way she always did in front of the group. Stealing glances at Ynez, her sponsor, who nodded at her and winked. Back in her room at the Lucky Seven, she held the chip to her head and sobbed, until she jerked it away, suddenly afraid she’d left the number pressed into the skin of her forehead. She went to the mirror and rubbed at the mark. Wished for Wat to come and get her and take her away, then just as fast, wished he was gone for good. ■■■ For more information on author Dennis Tafoya, please visit our Contributors Page.

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needed to see. A hawk hunting a rabbit in the dunes. Kids playing some complicated game and calling out changes to the rules. Where was home and what meant you were dead. She’d say, what’s that smile about, and he’d just look at her. She couldn’t fix the color of his eyes in her head.


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Welcome Home By Jason Kapcala

O

ne hundred million dollars. No, This story is an excerpt from a work make that two hundred million. in progress by Jason Kapcala. That’s how much Muzzie’s willing to bet against Scott Weiland’s return as the front man of Stone Temple Pilots. The blogosphere’s buzzing with news to go back to the way it was.” that Weiland is back in the fold, and the band has decided to celebrate by naming And there you have it: Muzzie’s thoughts on their new album after themselves. Me and my return to Accident, summed up neatly and Muzzie, we’d probably name an album packaged in a pop music anecdote for my after ourselves, too, if benefit. we had one. For now, we’re content to sit on Eight years ago, Muzzie and Back then, the the porch, dressed to I played in a band—The the nines and eating plan was simple: Mourning Afters. Greatest cold pizza from his rock band no one’s ever I was going to be parents’ pie shop. heard of, broadcasting live from West-Central Nowhere, a rock god. “You’d better call Pennsylvania. And eight Zurich and start years ago, I broke things up moving some money when I sort of disappeared. I around,” Muzzie says. took a fortune teller’s advice, borrowed five “This is going to be the easiest two billion I grand from my old man’s nest egg without ever made. You hearing me, Kev? You asking, packed everything that meant anything jotting all this down in your little book of into the back of my ’78 Gremmy, and hit the lyrics?” long black stripe, heading for Hollywood or Seattle or someplace equally glamorous. “I thought it was two million.”

“What makes you so sure?” I ask, working a thumb in behind the knot of my tie and loosening its chokehold on my Adam’s apple.

My luggage hadn’t amounted to much, a halfdozen flannel shirts, a 20-watt amp, and my ‘87 Squier E-series Stratocaster, the one Muzzie was always ragging me about—not that I cared; hand me a lightly pawned, Japmade Squier, block off the whammy, and I’ll lay down licks that’ll make you swear I’m the lovechild of Lita Ford and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

“Because you don’t just come back after being away that long and expect everything

Back then, the plan was simple: I was going to be a rock god.

“Million. Billion. Doesn’t matter. There’s a zero percent chance Weiland sticks. Zippo. Nada. Zilch.”

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I ended up about seventy miles East of L.A., where instead of concert halls and nightclubs they had meatpacking plants and empty warehouses and a large hippy community. I spent early shifts pumping gas and weeknights bussing tables at a restaurant I couldn’t afford to eat at, paid my rent late, suffered through a few hostile evictions, spent cold nights squatting in places that weren’t anything like Hollywood, and gigged at holein-the-wall bars that looked nothing like Troubadour—and all for what? So I could front a lousy Pearl Jam cover band, until that fell through, too, despite the fact that I’m a ringer for latetwenty-something Eddie Vedder. We’re talking dead-on twin. People have asked for autographs. Now I’m back where I’d started, carrying the same luggage, heading in the opposite direction, and I can almost hear Dizzy’s sneering voice in my head. “Look who returneth home, back to the crotch of civilization—I get that right, rock star? You whose shit don’t reek.” Only Dizzy’s not talking anymore. Dizzy’s dead. Buried with his battered Fender slung across his chest. And Muzzie and I, we’re fresh from the funeral, drinking to his memory and trying to figure out exactly what comes next. “There’s no going back for poor old Scott Weiland, that’s for CANYONVOICES

Stacking Stones by Jason Kapcala

damn sure,” Muzzie says, and he whistles a few bars of that STP song, “Sour Girl”—the part about her being happy on the day he hit the road—as if to make his point about the band and their troubled singer.

liquor cabinet, the two of us still scrounging like teenagers even though we both should have outgrown the habit by now. “Here’s to the last, best years of our twenties,” he says. “May thirty never find us.”

I raise our bet.

I raise a pretend glass, but I can’t shake the thought of Dizzy being lowered into the ground—the one member of the Mourning Afters who definitely won’t reach thirty.

Muzzie grins and cracks the plastic on a pint of Black Label we found locked in his parents’

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Welcome Home Continued Muzzie takes a swig and chases it with dollar store Cola, shotgun style, before passing the bottles over. “Weiland.” He shakes his head, tosses me a pitiful look, as though he might even feel bad about taking my money. “Never gonna happen,” he says.

she did back in high school. Beside her, your one-time best friend, Muzzie, a jack-off-of-alltrades who hasn’t changed much since you left, only on him it’s the kind of detail that makes you sad, reminds you exactly why you vamoosed in the first place. Once upon a power chord, the four of you had formed a band.

Outside, a night train rumbled past, rattling the windows, and I felt the alcohol kick in doubletime as though it had plans to take me apart At Dizzy’s funeral, we were all supposed to say something meaningful. Share a pleasant memory. Toss out a final goodbye and fare thee well. Pour one out for our dear departed homie. Wax poetic about what a great guitar player he’d been. It was a stupid idea Muzzie had cooked up with a little help from Dizzy’s mom. No one told me, of course, and when the talking stick got passed I hadn’t come up with anything bright to say. What is there to say when you’re standing in the rain, waiting for your ex-guitarist to get lowered into ground, and you’re surrounded by the faces of people you’ve been working hard to forget? The drummer exgirlfriend, Ramie, who, if anything, looks even hotter than

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Now, with the first of you . . . well, just say it: knock, knock, knockin’ on Heaven’s door, those days don’t even seem happy viewed through the rose-colored tint of your own nostalgia. And the other two survivors, they’re looking for you to at least hum a few bars, because you’re Kev Cassady, the front man, the one who got out. So what do you say? The answer, it turns out, is nothing. “Goodbyes have never really been his thing,” Ramie says, and before you can squirt out so much as an apology, they move on to the woman sitting beside you. An aunt or cousin or someone talks about what little Donald (that’s what she calls him) was like as a

child, staring up into the night sky and trying to pronounce the word “moon.” It’s a precious story, and I listen closely for the sound of Dizzy rolling over in his coffin. Muzzie scowls. For this somber occasion, he’s traded in his sweatpants and his Penguins jersey for a pair of faded blue jeans and a baggy Metallica Tshirt and his father’s black JC Penney’s sports coat. His big send-off for Dizzy is going according to plan, but that doesn’t mean he’s happy. “This cemetery smells like old people and ass,” he says out of the side of his mouth while Dizzy’s family lines up to toss a handful of what is, now, mostly mud onto the coffin lid. “It’s like someone drove a big rig full of Fixodent into the side of a waste-water treatment plant.” His voice carries more than it should. Still, he has a point. It’s frightening how quickly I’ve become desensitized to the stench of sulfur and the way it lingers around the town of Accident, hanging in the air like a bad fart. It’s a constant reminder of the mine fires that rage uncontrolled below the surface of this town. I haven’t even been back for two days, yet

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Let me hit rewind here. Once more, from the top. On the night Muzzie called me with news of Dizzy’s overdose, I was 2,669 miles away, lying in a fold-down bed in my tiny crash pad apartment, drinking myself to sleep and fantasizing about Ramie, the way I usually do when I need a little something extra to get me through the night. Ramie Valentine: a merciless rim shot whipped across the head of a Black Beauty snare. Even through the wool of passing years, the memory of her Joan Jett haircut and sunburnt skin was enough to snap me upright out my dreams. I know how “Boys of Summer” that sounds, but it’s true.

because the more I thought about Ramie, the more her strawberries-and-cigarette smell seemed to perfume my apartment. She seemed so real, so present, that when my landlord, Mr. Gonzales, banged on the door, I jumped out of bed like I’d been bitten. I threw on my jeans and retrieved my T-shirt from where I’d tossed it over the radiator. “Why are you out of breath?” Muzzie said, when I finally took the cordless from Mr. Gonzalez’s liver-spotted hands and cradled it against my neck. His voice crackled over the long-distance connection. “You were whacking off, weren’t you, you sicko?” “Eight years and not a word,

and that’s the first thing you want to know? It’s nice that some things haven’t changed, Muzz.” I didn’t get to hold onto that thought for very long. “It’s about Dizzy,” Muzzie said. “What about him?” And when Muzzie didn’t reply, I knew. “When?” I said. “Last night. The funeral’s on Saturday. I thought you’d want to know.” Outside, a night train rumbled past, rattling the windows, and I felt the alcohol kick in doubletime as though it had plans to take me apart. I steadied myself against the wall and pictured

They say that scent is tied to memory, more so than any other sense, and that must be right Image: Pixabay.com

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I’ve found time to notice and then abruptly grow nose-blind to the old stink. Now, sitting on the porch some hours later, with Dizzy officially gone, it’s all I can smell. That rotten egg odor hangs between us, fluming as it does from the subsidence pit across the street.


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Welcome Home Continued Dizzy the way he’d looked the last time we’d all been together: scary thin, strung out. Beneath my feet, the floorboards continued to vibrate as the train finished its pass on a graveyard run, and for a moment, it felt like old times—Dizzy plugging into his blown-out Marshall half stack, striking an open chord across every one of our hearts. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for why I said what I said next. “I’ll be there.” Inside my apartment, I sat on the floor by the window, poured myself another drink, and that’s when I saw Dizzy’s ghost lower himself onto the wooden chair beside my bed. Only it wasn’t a ghost, not exactly. It was some hallucination brought on by too much booze. It wasn’t the first time something like that had happened. I’d experienced it before, back when I was in high school and my mother skipped town. That night, I’d seen her sitting at my bedside, reading. Call it an over-active imagination, but I watched the

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specter meticulously tune its guitar, its neck craned so that I was staring directly at the top of its roughly-shaved scalp. A cigarette dangled from the corner of the phantom’s mouth, and though I couldn’t hear the notes, I’m pretty sure I know what song the guitar player played. Three days later, I was on the road to Accident, passing through Locust Gap in the Gremmy, and thinking of one of my old man’s favorite sayings, when a shiver runs down your spine, you’d better look out, Boyo, because some

blamed my edginess on overcaffeination and lack of sleep, but the truth was that I dreaded the thought of returning to Accident. Outside, dusk had settled into the valley and the silent highway spooled forward like scenes from an old home movie reel. Summer closing down early, the way it always did in central PA. After being away for so long, I’d forgotten how far you could drive through the heart of Anthracite country without seeing anything memorable.

Trees and Sky by Jason Kapcala

jerk’s tap-dancing on your grave. That expression, once annoying, now seemed morbidly apt. I’d been driving almost nonstop for two days straight, counting mile markers and napping at rest stops, running on burger-chain coffee and fighting the jitters. I

The low sun filled my rearview with a hazy orange light, darkening the dense pine barrens that flanked Old Route 216, and for a moment I found myself driving into my own shadow and wishing that Muzzie hadn’t bothered to track me down.

It’s still not too late to turn this car around, I thought, but reading between the lines has never been my strong suit, even when I’m the one doing the talking, and I wasn’t sure anymore what that expression meant. Press forward or hang

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Can we roll again? Once more, with feeling. The exodus began before I ever left for California—folks driven from their homes by the threat of toxic gas and sink holes. Even then, they’d started using the words “ghost town.” No one knows for sure how the fires started—some say it was vandalism, a couple kids fooling around in the mines after dark. Others claim it was the heat from a nearby moonshine still that caught an exposed vein of coal. The most popular explanation is that one of the miners left a generator running, and it somehow got overlooked by Ramie’s uncle, Ray Valentine, the mine foreman. Within forty-eight hours, the mine was a tunnel of fire. Workers spent years flushing the mines with water and fly ash, digging trenches and backfilling shafts in an attempt to contain the blaze. But some fires can’t be contained. Today, Accident is the town that never was. An island floating above a 200-acre lake of fire. It has no zip code, and it doesn’t appear on any Pennsylvania maps. But it’s still there—smoldering quietly at the end of an abandoned stretch of highway. CANYONVOICES

At least, that’s what I was thinking when I came across the orange-and-black detour sign: ALL TRAFFIC RIGHT TO ALT ROUTE 216—BIG SNAKE ROAD. I let the Gremlin coast to a stop, heard it sputter and felt it die. To most outsiders a sign like that wouldn’t have meant anything—some bridge work or a road accident maybe. The unsuspecting driver would follow Big Snake down to its terminus, hang a right, and gun it for nearby Emberland without a second thought. I got out, leaned against the Gremmy’s rusty doorframe and watched the leaves rustle in the trees. I felt the late-summer sun on my face as I tried to calculate the number of times I’d driven this way—twice a day, at least, for five years, plus all the side trips to Ramie’s house. It had to be close to 5,000 trips. And not once had they ever blocked off the highway. Growing up, 216 had always been a straight shot into Accident. Big Snake, what they’d finally paved and were now calling the alternate route, had been nothing more than a deserted logging pass back then. No one used it unless they were looking for a place to smoke weed or pull off and mack. Every summer a different couple from school would get caught down there and word would get around that one of the guys had shown his big

snake to Erica Demarco or Shannon Tilly or some other girl. If it happened twice, you were a fucking celebrity, even among some of the adults, though it might cost an angel her reputation. I got caught twice. With Ramie both times. Not that she gave a damn what anyone thought about it—no one had ever accused her of being an angel in the first place. Ignoring the warning sign, I hiked up the road, past the abandoned miners’ washhouse where we used to play wallball as kids and, later, where we’d steal away to drink sixers of Pabst and Ginny. When I got to the dirt barricade about a quarter-mile up, I paused for a second to look down at my boots, pointy leather knock-offs I’d bought at a thrift store because they’d made me feel like John Lennon, and as I tramped up the packed earth, I heard my old man’s voice again, contemptuous as always. Cute fag-boots you got there, Boyo— don’t suppose they’ll keep you warm come winter. And I heard my flat response, Don’t call me Boyo. Below, on the other side of the mound, stretched a wasteland. Elms and beeches along the edge of the road had shed their leaves early and their bark flaked away in long, ashy strips. The road sagged, deep fissures

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a U-ey? So I kept my foot down, and I tried not to think about what lay ahead. Or who.


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Welcome Home Continued leaking a low-horror movie fog. The one-two punch of rotten eggs and green olives hit as recklessly as a playground bully. I found myself wondering why I had ever bothered returning to this place. What was I hoping to prove here—that I wasn’t a bad friend? Dizzy and I hadn’t spoken in almost a decade. Swinging by to pay my respects wouldn’t change that. That I could somehow fix the past? It was a little late to go putting out those fires. On my way back to the car, I tried picking out my favorite graffiti where kids had sprayed the macadam in the southbound lane: I’M ON THE HIGHWAY TO HELL, I ♥ SMOKING CRACK, and (my personal favorite) GET YOUR KICKS ON RT. 666. Something about that scrawl of adolescent rebellion resonated with me— that urge to say something, anything, and be heard—and I was so lost in my own thoughts that I barely noticed the black Indian Chief with a sidecar parked alongside the Gremlin, its rider peering in through the driver’s window.

roaring down Big Snake on a suicide run.

run-down than ever, but still upright.

I let my hand drop, watched the taillight disappear before making my way to my car.

“One of the few homes that managed to dodge the bulldozers.”

I hadn’t had anything to drink since the night Muzzie had called, so I knew that this was real. Something white fluttered against the windshield, and I thought that maybe I’d been ticketed for illegally parking, though that made no sense at all when you really think about it, given that Accident has no police force now. And even when they did, the cops didn’t go roaring around on motorcycles dressed like Ghost Rider. When I pulled the slip of paper from beneath the wiper blade and unfolded it, I could see that it wasn’t a ticket at all, but a gas station receipt for Trojan condoms and a 20 oz. Diet Coke. Someone had scrawled a handwritten note across the back. I felt my case of jitters take the stage for their encore—imagined Dizzy playing power chords, windmill-style like Pete Townshend. Of one thing, I was sure: there was menace in the rider’s message.

Out front, the grass had grown wild, covering over the flagstone walk that led to the sagging wrap-around porch where I’d practiced guitar as a kid and, later, found ways to delicately paw up whichever girl I happened to be dating at the time. Ramie. The chirr of insects filled the air as I stood with one foot propped on the Gremlin’s door sill in the still of late afternoon and watched a pair of small white butterflies flutter down into the weeds. “So?” Muzzie said. “We going in?”

“I help you?” I called.

“I told you it was still here,” Muzzie said, grinning.

I imagined sneaking into the house, pulling aside the orange condemned sticker, busting a window, imagined opening the cabinets and the desk drawers, only to find them full with the junk of everyday living, as though the old man had only just stepped out for a few hours, instead of packing up shop and moving to Arizona. Something panicky crept into my chest.

When the rider turned, I caught a glimpse of smoked goggles and, I kid you not, a Grim Reaper mask that covered the figure’s lower jaw. The Indian ripped asphalt, kicking up roost before

After Dizzy’s funeral, the two of us had driven down toward the subsidence pits, and where the trees fell away, there stood my old house. Shabbier and more

What if we headed back toward Emberland, and when we got there, that town was somehow empty, too? The stores and homes still cluttered with

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Thank you. You’re too kind. No, I couldn’t possibly manage an encore . . . .

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“Not today,” I said, ignoring the puzzled look on Muzzie’s face. “The booze will taste just as good out on the porch.” That’s what’s led us to this moment. Me and Muzzie sharing a bottle. Swapping lies. Putting the proverbial band back together, one player at a time. Johnny Walker flows through our veins, and from where we sit, we can see all that’s left to see of Accident. As night falls, it is supremely dark. Not another occupied house in miles. “Sing,” Muzzie says. “It’s been a long day,” I say. And then, because I can’t think of anything else, I say, “Do you really think I look like him?” “Who? Eddie V.?” “Yeah. Him.” “The real question is ‘do you sound like him?’” Muzzie says. “Only one way to find out.” “I’m not singing,” I say. “Besides, we never sounded much alike anyway. He’s got a deeper voice. I was more of a Weiland type. You know he’s coming back right?” “Weiland?” Muzzie scoffs. “Get real.” CANYONVOICES

“I’m serious.”

I close my eyes.

“Not a chance.” Muzzie grabs another slice of pizza. “Now sing something, you jackass. I want to hear if you still got your pipes.”

Tomorrow.

“I still got them,” I say, loosening my tie another inch. “But not tonight.” Muzzie shrugs. It’s the closest he’ll come to showing disappointment. When I look over, he’s holding the receipt from my windshield and examining it closely. “Belong to you?” I say. “Hell no,” Muzzie says. “If it were mine, it’d say Jumbo Trojan Condoms on it, what-whaaat?”

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personal belongings like a modern day Pompeii, sinks piled high with dishes, clothes hung neatly in the closets, tables set for dinner? What if all towns everywhere were empty—if we were the last people alive on earth?

Tomorrow, I start figuring out what comes next. Big questions involving Accident, and Ramie, and rock and roll. In each case, it comes down to this: do I stay or do I go? The Clash didn’t have an answer, and neither do I. Not tonight. Eight years ago the choice had seemed a lot simpler. I’d had some help making my decision. I traveled far and fast, squandered a life, and now I’m back where I started, like some twisted reincarnation. Ramie. Muzzie. Both of them unceremoniously left behind. Both suddenly here.

“Turn it over,” I say. “Welcome home, Kev,” Muzzie reads. “Sounds friendly.” “Who knew I was coming home?” “How should I know?” Muzzie crumples the receipt and tosses it at me. “Muzz.” “I told some people,” he says. “So what?” “Did you tell her?” Muzzie clears his throat. “I planned a memorial for Dizzy tomorrow. Figured more people might come if they knew you were in town. Hell, you’re like a legend around here, man, ever since you went all ‘Freebird’ on us.”

And Dizzy, gone—the one member of The Mourning Afters who found a way to travel faster and farther than I ever had. “One hundred million dollars,” Muzzie says. “No, make that two hundred million.” And when I look up, he’s grinning like he just won the Powerball lotto. “That’s how much I’m betting against Weiland.” I shrug. It’s hard to argue with his reasoning. But you never know. ■■■ For more information on author Jason Kapcala, please visit our Contributors Page.

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What is This Place? By Michael DeStefano

H

E’S DEAD.

He believes it with the same certainty he believed he would one day be famous. As strange as it sounds (even to him), he’s convinced he has died, and what he experiences daily is a purgatory or hell, some sort of afterlife or limbo where perhaps he’s meant to discover or learn something. On a Tuesday night in September, fresh off another rejection, he set his alarm to wake up at eight the following morning. When the alarm went off, he persuaded himself that he needed, that he deserved, more sleep. So he closed his eyes and woke up again forty-five minutes later, argued with himself, and inevitably decided those forty-five minutes weren’t nearly enough. When he finally did get out of bed, he realized he had no chance of accomplishing all that he’d wanted to accomplish and wrestled with how to spend what little time he did have. He had wanted to eat a good breakfast, work out, apply for new jobs, read through lines for the next audition, and make lunch before going to work. Instead, the first thing he did was turn on the television. Then, he debated whether he should waste time cooking — he’d CANYONVOICES

Image: Pixabay.com

wanted eggs, bacon, and a toasted bagel — or eat something quick. He got distracted watching the news, a murder down the block on a street that, for the short time he’d lived out here, had been nothing but quiet and beautiful. By the time he got back to the question of what to do for breakfast, he’d lost another twenty minutes. He ate yogurt, a piece of fruit, and a granola bar and started his workout. Normally, he’d set up a circuit in the living room with some things he’d found online — a chin-up bar that, on the floor, could be used for pushups and dips; a malleable medicine ball; a set of chords with two handles on the ends that could be used for curls, chest presses, resisted pushups, etc. He also had twenty-five pound dumbbells, a regular medicine ball, and a yoga mat for crunches. Normally, he’d list the day’s SPRING2015


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would feel so inspired that he’d truly believe he turned a corner and this newfound work ethic was here to stay, that this productivity would go on forever, that success, not everyman success, not nineto-five six-figure salary success, but worldwide fame was right around the bend. Then something would happen, a headache or stomachache the following day, a 6:00am phone call from his mother who frequently forgot

He showered and dressed, read through his lines once, and got lunch ready. He accomplished nothing, which was becoming Another new trend. Despite a trend. He had lost his lack of productivity, control. He remembered past despite not being immersed accomplishments – in anything important, he academic honors at somehow could not make it graduation, athletic awards that hang in out of the house on time. his bedroom back home — like he’d dreamt them up, like they were from a past life. In that the three-hour time difference, a past life, he remembered being late night and subsequent late fairly disciplined, even in ways morning with a sun-kissed that most young men are never UCLA sophomore, and he would disciplined: knowing his limits fall into an unproductive rut until when drinking, never missing the next good day, during which class, remaining faithful to his he would convince himself that long-distance relationship over this time he really had turned a four years of college. But now, corner and another setback was there was always an excuse to be impossible. unproductive — “I should cover for Dave at work, I could use the By the time he finished lunch, a money;” “I need groceries;” “I cold cut sandwich and two scoops haven’t played video games in a of store-bought macaroni salad, while;” “I should clean;” “It’s so he was already running late. He nice outside, this is why I wanted scrambled to get snacks together to come out here in the first for work: canned peaches, a place.” Occasionally, he would banana, and a Ziploc bag of channel that former discipline chocolate chip cookies. He and make the day count. He CANYONVOICES

threw them in a plastic grocery bag and left. Unless he rode faster than he’d ever ridden, he was not going to make it to work by one. Another new trend. Despite his lack of productivity, despite not being immersed in anything important, he somehow could not make it out of the house on time. As he coasted, he workshopped excuses for his manager before deciding that the pain in his neck was excuse enough. He rode with his lunch bag hanging over the right handle bar of his bike, swinging back and forth so much that he twice stopped to consider something more efficient before opting to simply ride slower. While pedaling, he tried not to hate himself, distracting himself with his surroundings, inhaling the scents of the flowers a little more deeply, admiring the houses and the women and the cloudless sky, nodding to strangers that, unlike back East, actually waved back. When he was about five minutes from work, he noticed something in his path and slowed his roll. It was a perfectly cooked, perfectly golden turkey on a silver-serving platter, resting untouched in the middle of the sidewalk. He stopped to look at it. It was seasoned, stuffed. He touched it. Still hot. Not sitting-in-the-sun

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exercises, set up each station, start the timer on his cell phone, and go. On this day, he started with pushups, went next to crunches, and felt something tweak in his neck, something that only felt worse when he tested the other exercises. He quit before he’d made it through even half of one rotation.


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... This Place? Continued hot. Cooked hot. Smelled unbelievable. He licked his finger. Tasted unbelievable. People approached and passed in both directions, walkers, joggers, bikers, bladers, even a couple senior citizens in fourwheel roller skates, but not one person stopped or even glanced at him kneeling beside the turkey.

It all floods his mind at once — the weird occurrences, his lack of self-control, his recent inability to do anything right, the fact that he’s fully aware of his shortcomings and desperately wants to change them but can’t — when it hits him that he might be dead. In real life, he thinks, people can change themselves when they want to. In real life, people stop to look at Thanksgiving turkeys on the sidewalk.

In real life, he thinks, people can change themselves when they want to.

While reviewing his schedule, sitting through a brief staff meeting, being reprimanded by his manager for his repeated lateness, he thinks about the turkey and the people that ignored it. He also contemplates the other strange things he’s seen since he’d been out here, the potted and decorated Christmas tree with shredded wrapping paper and mangled gift boxes on the beach in midJuly; the man in the pristine tuxedo collecting cans and pushing a shopping cart filled with recyclables; the gorgeous woman, estimated early-thirties, carrying a grown albeit scrawny man, who swung his legs and carried on what seemed to be an intelligent conversation, as if he were a baby.

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He obsesses over the idea while he prepares bins with toys for his first class, and though he believes he has plenty of evidence to support this theory, he’s not completely convinced. Other thoughts, more sensible, prevent him from committing fully to the absurdity. First, he acknowledges how strange the idea is. Second, he acknowledges that he has a track record for strangeness, that this is far from the first crazy thought he’s had that seemed plausible. As he recalls some of those more abstract ideas, he’s forced to reject the notion that he’s mentally ill; he’s too functional for that, at least in the basic sense of being functional.

This wasn’t the first time the thought of being institutionalized had popped into his head. At one point, he thought about it with relative frequency, but eventually he grew to embrace his weirdness to the point where, if he had to tell himself, “No one else has ever thought anything like this,” he felt satisfied. He’s tried not to tell himself this in these words, but deep down, it’s that imagination, that thinkingoutside-the-box-ness, that quality of being so unlike anyone he’d ever met, that he believes (believed?) will one day lead to fame and fortune. If the overwhelming majority of people think and act alike, and the overwhelming majority of people lead normal lives, then chain rule: being unlike them will result in the extraordinary. At the children’s gym, he instructs classes for kids ages 3-6. He doesn’t make much money, but he has benefits. Also, he tells himself, he’s working toward his professional goals. He’s entertaining kids and their parents. Every class, he gets to play a different role, try new voices, practice new accents, and improvise. His stellar performances as the selfish surfer for beach-themed games and the African survivorman for junglethemed obstacle courses earn a lot of tips from parents during birthday parties and holidays. He says it’s all making him a better actor. He says this to himself more forcefully when he SPRING2015


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He always debates getting a new job, just like he debates everything else. Every decision he makes is likely the wrong one, and every decision he doesn’t make is almost certainly the right one. He’s in a constant state of not knowing what to do, trying to think everything through, weighing his options, overthinking, making a decision and immediately regretting it, this overwhelming anxiety of: I’m skipping the interview…But if I don’t get a better job, I’ll end up back in New York in my parents’ basement, seeing all my high school friends every night…Get ready for the interview, get the job, wake up early to work out, practice, and work afternoons and evenings…But I’m not a morning person, what if I wear myself out and bomb an audition that’s meant to be my big break… to get any break, I need money…But I also need time, energy, I need to practice, exercise, eat right, I need time to whiten my teeth, line up my facial hair, I need time for haircuts, manicures, pedicures, tanning, waxing, acting classes, voice classes, a dance class or two, time to watch movies, study the greats, read scripts, maybe write something for myself, I need to get headshots, act in students’ short CANYONVOICES

films, build my reel, I need a social life, to meet girls, get laid minimum once a month, time to watch sports, basketball and football at least, to destress with video games once in a while, time to stand in front of the mirror and become someone else, just lose myself in someone else…if I take this job, how will I have time for all that…If I don’t, how will I have money for all that? He asks his manager if he could assist the day’s classes, says his neck pain has given him too bad a headache to lead. The truth is he’s too distracted to give a performance worthy of his talent. As he sits with the kids, he tries to figure out when he might have died. He does so hesitantly, worried that if he figures it out, this afterlife would simply end, and whatever truly awaited people after they die would happen to him. A little boy next to him starts crying. He has no idea why. He’s been busy remembering neardeath experiences, choking on a piece of stuffed chicken and being saved by his father, flipping his raft on the Schroon River and being rescued by lifeguards, partying in college — maybe one of those times he never actually woke up fine the next morning? He pretends to eat the little boy’s hand. When the boy laughs, he drifts off again. He tries to think about normal things that normal people think about daily, work, health and personal hygiene, food, sports,

That mom’s hot, wow, so is that one, but the death stuff pushes those things aside. He says he hates himself, hates his brain, hates it even more for this than he does for the overthinking and the lack of self-control. Still, he keeps thinking about being dead. When he says, for one hour, you’re not going to think about it, he tortures himself with, consciously trying not to think about something is the same as thinking about it. Worse, actually. You can’t trick yourself. It’s pointless. So he stops trying to not think about it. Last class of the day, his manager asks him to lead. He believes he’s pinpointed the likeliest moment of death, the night he ended things with his ex, and as he begins to accept it, he half-expects everything around him — the hot moms, the toys, the children— and beyond the gym — the palm trees and flowers, the bikini-clad roller-bladers and beach volleyball players, the sounds of birds chirping and lazy waves washing over wet sand —to evaporate before his eyes. He half-expects to end up on a cloud or surrounded

by a pit of fire. He’s no saint so if it’s between the two, it’s the pit of fire. He gives it a minute, and when nothing vanishes and no flames rise up, he takes a deep SPRING2015

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finds a job online that would pay him more for harder work.


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... This Place? Continued breath and introduces the class’s first activity in a booming voice that reminds him of Santa Claus. He thinks about his ex, back in New York, as he kneels to hand a ball to the first child in line, and with each passing child, “Ready, set, throw,” he tells himself he shouldn’t feel guilty, everything worked out for the best, and he continues telling himself these things until all that’s left is all that’s always left: uncertainty. Too many possible outcomes, too many variables, notions of God

and the universe and karma. He doesn’t believe in karma, points to nice guys finishing last and bad people becoming millionaires in spite of karma and what’s fair and not fair. He wonders whether he’s a good person or a bad one, realizes he’s gotten way off track, and decides the reason his life hasn’t turned out the way he wanted is because of his brain, because there’s too much going on inside it at all times. He’s trying too hard. Not physically, not tangibly, but mentally. He needs to do less, then tells himself, You’re an idiot, you don’t do anything…except in my brain, I do plenty…it needs to be reversed…Do more and think less, make

Strange Sort of Peaceful by Tim Winer (see Artwork for full image)

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decisions and not think about the million possible results of those decisions…when did my brain get this way? How did it get this way? Because I’m dead, and my brain was made this way for some reason… Literally no one has ever thought anything like this. It brings him no satisfaction. He obsesses over how to spend the rest of his fake-life. Long after the last mother thanks him and smiles and ushers her son out the door, long after the floors are mopped, the slides and mats wiped down, the bathrooms cleaned, the lobby swept, he’s still analyzing possible futures, but each one has too many variables and shoots off into new branches of potential destinies, so that the five he originally thought of become ten, become twenty, become forty. Then he’s thinking about his ex, his parents, his brother, about all the different decisions he could have made and the possible futures those revised decisions could have presented. His mind, if mapped out on paper, would look like the most elaborate pyramid scheme, an infinite tree of possible pasts, presents, and futures. Before he leaves the SPRING2015


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When he gets home, he takes a shower, cooks himself George Foreman grilled chicken doused in buffalo sauce, and tries to decide whether he’s in purgatory or hell. He settles on hell, believing purgatory would have some sort of peace, some sense of knowing what’s coming. Where he is, there’s none of that. While he watches TV, he thinks about hell, rejects the descriptions he’d heard and read about repeatedly over a lifetime of Catholic schooling, wonders why if hell is the final destination would he have this notion of unfinished business.

Maybe this is hell disguising itself, and once I figure it out, the real hell will appear. He wonders if the heat will be unbearable, reassures himself, As long as it’s not cold, I’m cool. He laughs at the pun, then decides that if this is a final destination, it’s not that bad. Brushing his teeth, he admits this probably isn’t hell. His reasoning: souls in hell must at

least have the comfort, for lack of a better word, of knowing this is as bad as it gets…unless that’s the brilliance of hell…you think things can get better but they get worse. He decides then it could be hell, then that it can’t because if you have hope, how will you ever truly suffer? How will you ever get to the point where you curse yourself, where you regret your actions, how will you ever reach the level of misery that comes with the realization that everything bad that’s happened to you, in life and in death, is directly onehundred-and-ten percent your fault? Any punishment without that, he says, is incomplete. But if this isn’t hell, and it’s not purgatory, and it’s certainly not any sort of heaven, what is it? What is this place that’s beautiful, not-so-bad, and awful all at the same time, this place where you don’t know anything, whether the decisions you make are right or wrong; whether you’re happy, sad, or indifferent; what you love, what you like, and what you hate; who you love, and who loves you; who you are, who you were, who you’re becoming; how you got here, where you’re going, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it; whether or not you regret your mistakes or you’re glad you made them because they made you who you are; whether or not, then, those mistakes can be called mistakes and those regrets can be called

regrets; whether or not you’re actually glad you are who you are; whether or not you’ll ever get answers to all of these questions, and if so, when? What kind of place is this where all these questions are simultaneously relevant and irrelevant, real and imagined, answerless and so thoroughly and complexly answered that it’s beyond your comprehension? And what kind of place is it where a perfectly cooked and intact turkey, golden brown, seasoned, stuffed, ownerless, not mistakenly dropped, didn’t fall out of a truck or shopping bag or serving tin, can be sitting flawlessly on a silver tray in the middle of a sidewalk and hundreds of people walk past it like it’s normal? Right before he falls asleep, he has a crazy thought, calls it the craziest thing he’s thought in a while, then lets his mind go back to racing until it overheats and goes black. ■■■ For more information on author Michael DeStefano, please visit our Contributors Page.

Doodle Dude: Pixabay.com

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parking lot, he hops off his bike, squats behind a dumpster, and throws up.


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Defective Seconds By Cameron Hirsch

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Utter shock flushes through my veins as horrifically vivid flashes of today’s events ambush my memory. I can’t believe he would hurt himself. Breathe. Inhale…now exhale. Forcing breath is the tragic irony that follows trauma. Why need assistance with instinct? My eyes fall to my hands where Cole held them two short days ago. The room twists with my heart and my stomach tumbles as bile rises in my throat. Not again.

You would assume a place notorious for warm crimson blood would think to own black furniture, or at least dark carpeting that masks what the gurney smears off its shoes. I dizzily maneuver the obstacle course of padded benches and wheelchairs. Fluorescent lights bounce off my cornea, leaving a numbing effect. Why is everything white? You would assume a place notorious for warm crimson blood would think to own black furniture, or at least dark carpeting that masks what the gurney smears off its shoes. Shaky hands that seem to be attached to a different person push the bathroom door. I bump past a brown-haired woman cleaning the floors to vomit in the toilet. Sorry.

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Breathe. Inhale…Exhale now, Emma. It’s time to exhale. I refuse to listen to my internal commands. Breathing doesn’t bring him to me. Breathing only keeps me on this damn earth more time than I prefer. Collapsing on the stall wall, I shriek and cry which, simultaneously, just sounds like I am fighting for oxygen—but I guess that isn’t totally false. 2. “They have social workers for this,” my mother joins me on the cold metal bench. Her arms drawing circles on my back, “someone you can talk to so you don’t feel responsible.” “Responsible for what, Mom?” I snap, jerking away from her. All I want is to see him, or hear from a doctor or curl up in a ball in Cole’s plaid comforter and ignore every voice from every angle trying to gauge how I am coping. “He isn’t suicidal. He miscounted. People make mistakes! People aren’t perfect!” My voice rises with frustration and she eyes me with her motherly concern. Miscounted? I couldn’t even pretend that was what happened. I should have known. I should have listened. I could have stopped him. I could have… My breathing increases and my heart rate sprints and next thing I know my mom is crying and hugging me and my head is in her lap and all her tears cascade down my face and my own tears roll past my cheeks and I just wish Cole knew how much we cared.

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Time is endless in a hospital. As a kid, before money was success and corruption reality, time seemed so irrelevant. Why worry about aging when there are fireflies to be caught? Clocks slow down in some places. The seconds are multiplied and the hand takes smaller strides than before. Time is all relative; I guess. I blink. One second. Just one? A single tear rolls past my cheekbone settling in the corner of my mouth. I used to taste my tears for joy. The salty flavor a perk to scraping my knee or being denied the lollipop from the bank. How utterly masochistic I was as a child… could that have been a precursor to my twisted attachment to a suicidal boy? Barely ten minutes have passed since my most recent visit to the bathroom. I glance at gloomy workers, signing papers in their notorious chicken scratch. The lobby is relatively empty at this

late hour. One family is huddled in a separate corner, awaiting news after a devastating car crash. I avoid the mother’s eyes. True torment is not displayed until one losses their child. My mind flicks to Cole’s description of his own family. His mother so absorbed in her selfish affair since he was old enough to speak. I’d always imagined his father with a drink in his hand and a wobbly stride. Nobody could blame Cole for moving as far away from their grip as he could. A wave of nausea threatens my system as I ponder where and when they will discover what their baby has done. It’s a shame guilt doesn’t kick in until after the damage is done. 4. There is a coffee machine making obnoxious clicking noises to my right. Maybe I should be grateful I have a personal symphony escorting me. The leftover bile in my mouth makes me cringe in disgust. I reach under the bench and pull out a

thermos, forcing cold coffee down my throat. 5. “Emma—I made you tea!” Cole greeted me at the bottom of the stairway with a mint green thermos. I raised my eyebrows, “this looks like something pulled out of the sewer” He grinned; “just try it…” I lift up the metal and plastic container. “Where did you get this?” “An airport. I thought that would be the perfect way to conceal sewer water and serve it to my girlfriend.” He wrapped his tan arm around my waist and kissed me. My chin rubbed his scratchy stubble. In a matter-of-fact manner, I countered: “I only accept my sewer water in the proper attire.” Pointing to his blue flannel pajama bottoms. “Cole, we have to be at my parent’s house

Image: Pixabay.com

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Defective Seconds Continued in an hour. This is a big deal.” After two years of dating we were finally going to move in together. His lips grazed my forehead. “Yes, Emma. This is a big deal. Don’t worry I will look as handsome as always.” Confidence oozing through his tone, his green orbs sensed anxiety off my own. “Everything will be perfect, okay?” Rolling my eyes as a response, he taps the thermos with his pointer finger. “Don’t forget to taste the tea, babe.” A notion of a smile that would have formed from that memory fades—like the concept of innocence. Once it is broken, all that is left is the shell of what that should have been like, but no amount of Krazy Glue will fix the cracks and pieces too small to collect. 6. Not so much endless, as repeated. Time is like a scratched record in a hospital. Similar people in similar garb stalk between the hallways every two minutes as if on a timer. Tears wash my cheek in about the same time frame, and if someone were to click fast forward or push reverse on CANYONVOICES

Image: Pixabay.com

tonight it would be equivalent to hearing about an accident of a loved one: confusing and overwhelming. 7. I knew it before the doctor left Cole’s room. I suspected it when I was being driven to the hospital. My mind repeated the answer my heart refused to hear. He is dead. Cole Harper, my boyfriend, killed himself yesterday evening by swallowing pills. Breathe. Inhale…exhale. Swallow. Sigh. Ponder if he thought about you when he was lost and confused and giving up on life. Inhale—Does God forgive self-harm? Exhale. Clasping my hands as if to pray, I shake them out fast realizing the time for praying has passed. Instead I rub my temples and grind my teeth and mentally argue with that picture perfect

image of Cole offering me a tea thermos. “But Cole, you underestimated the imprint you made on me. And you overlooked my family sitting in the hospital waiting to hear about you. Cole, you selfish bastard, next time you want to kill yourself why don’t you just kill me instead?” 8. Listening to the doctor leaves me in a hollow state. He mumbles an apology and throws terms I can’t decipher at my face. Words like: “anticholinergic”, and “sympathomimetic”. I nod. If you nod, Emma, it looks like you are listening. I wasn’t aware the type of drug my boyfriend ingested made a difference in the end. I guess I should scour the cabinet drawers for toxidromes. After all, that seems like the next logical step. 9. The buzz of the light bulb above my head matches the rhythm of SPRING2015


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10.

practiced words don’t settle on my brain, but rather irritate me to the breaking point. With one final burst of energy that resonates from Cole’s once lively soul, previously intertwined with my own, I grip the thermos with stale liquid, and throw it at the hospital corner. Screams emerge from somewhere in the hospital and it

whenever they do he kisses my hands and tells me to breathe. Breathe…Inhale 12.

Just as the dull blue sky slides The funny thing is, denial serves above the black driveway as a sort of drug itself. It pauses outside I crouch by the white all clocks. It alters one’s line of hospital corner, met by a white vision. The humming and beats linoleum floor, and pluck the of the Hospital thermos off the ground. Its Things buzz louder lip is chipped from where than Cole’s Doctor’s it hit the wall, light brown voice, and I can just liquid bleeding down the A business card is shoved in barely hear Mom and side. I stretch my arm to my quivering hand. The Dad’s conversation in grasp the other mint green the corner. Dad physician stares at me gravely, piece, clutching it like a mutters; “maybe we lifeline as Mom and Dad tossing around phrases like can establish weekly lead me away from that meetings with a hell of a realm, tugging my “grief” and “pain.” therapist…” My eyes body further and further adjust to his location away from where his and they immediately corpse lies. I don’t believe quiet down, they know just how deep deplorable eyes falling the same isn’t until I am being tugged by these cuts run. Band-Aids or direction as their volume. my mother and shouted at by a therapy or a lifetime supply of worker that I realize I was the the healthy green tea that A business card is shoved in my one screaming. websites are always attracting quivering hand. The physician readers to won’t lessen the stares at me gravely, tossing 11. number of pills kept in a house. around phrases like: “grief”, and Like a broken thermos, that “pain.” Don’t you know those They shove me against a bench. internal ache may only be are weighty words to discuss “Are you okay?” No. The masked for as long as the armor before one has had their tea? I doctor scans the perimeter of is maintained, and after it cracks wish to scream at him. “I’m the room to assure other the walls soon collapse with it sorry for your loss.” Masking residents are calm. “We need to and one is left with a chipped pain with cliché sayings does get her help.” I don’t need help mint green thermos and the nothing to soothe the wounds, Mom. I need a time machine body of a loved boy who felt lost Doctor. I understand you took and some cabinet padlocks. and hopelessly lonely. an eight hour test and 30 years “Doctor, what was the name of of schooling to stick on Bandthat psychologist?” Therapy, ■■■ Aids for a living, but maybe Dad—really? “Are you okay?” research your sympathy Nod. I am not, though. I am the strategies a little bit more. “We antithesis of okay. Cole would For more information on author offer many services to handle Cameron Hirsch, please visit our be able to tell you, because my Contributors Page. this specific situation.” His palms are rubbing together and CANYONVOICES

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the broken coffee dispenser. It is sort of like a lullaby. Is this the terminal melody? The accompaniment to the death rattle?


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Near Aerial Apocalypse A Case Study of the Row Fifteen Incident By Juliana Pasley

T

here are two species of people who go on airplanes: the people whom never speak to the people sitting next to them and the people who always do. Of course, there are some variations and subspecies (such as the person who will speak if the other person speaks first) but for the sake of this scenario consider the two species: Nevers and Alwayses. It has been proven through intense experimentation1, sleepless nights, and redeye plane flights that Alwayses will ninetythree percent of the time sit next to Nevers. The other seven percent of the time one of these two scenarios will happen: A Never sits next to a Never. This is largely uneventful. The two will sit in silence and be generally happy with each other. The airplane atmosphere will be stable. An Always sits next to an Always. This is a high-risk situation. Since Alwayses naturally tend to gravitate towards Nevers, two Alwayses encountering each other can lead to situations that can disrupt the entire ecosystem of the airplane. Alwayses tend to be entirely focused on what they have to say so these situations can lead to gross airplane disasters.2

These scientifically proven factors are what contributed to the Row Fifteen Incident. This was a near disaster of our modern times and led the Privacy Please Party in their movement for Silence Laws3. George Molten, a Never sitting in row sixteen, managed to get a recording of the incident and has provided this author with a copy. The following is a transcription coupled with what context could be gathered and/or speculated from police reports along with some personal analysis. Italics will differentiate the personal analysis. TRANSCRIPT OF CONVERSATION BETWEEN THE OCCUPANTS OF ROW FIFTEEN ON FLIGHT 9889 ON THE 14th OF APRIL: One of the most intriguing and well-known mysteries of the Row Fifteen Incident is that no one who witnessed it is willing to reveal the names of the two Alwayses in question. When the airline was asked for the original manifest, a representative reported that it must have been dropped in the uproar. A certain computer containing all of the airline’s manifests was also dropped.4 Always 1: Planes are so cramped! Don’t you think planes are cramped?? I mean, I realize they are the most efficient way to travel, but you think they could spread out these chairs a little, right?

1 See

Appendix. A related study has also proven that when two Alwayses mate with each other (a situation which outside of the airplane environment is highly likely) they will produce the dreaded Baby That Never Stops Crying. It is suspected though not proven that, like mules, these creatures are sterile. 3 Please take note that our pamphlet on the Silence bill is available in most libraries and grocery stores. If not available, please call 1-800-555-5056 to have a free pamphlet shipped to your address! 4 Some speculate that this might have not been an accident, but this author does not wish to engage in conspiracy theories. 2

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going on like that like she’s so perfect she can make judgments on everyone else.

your attention and people keep reading their books or listening to their ipods…

Always 1: You know, I think everyone in this world shouldn’t think so much about religion and god and stuff and should just…love each other. You know?

Always 1: You aren’t supposed to use ipods in the beginning of the flight; it could interfere with the signal!

Always 1: New York. I love New York! It’s such a big city, so full of life and activity! You know, I have this friend Suzy who is a dancer in the show Chicago! Don’t you just love the theater? Always 2: Theater? I haven’t had time for the theater! I am always running around chasing kids and helping to provide so we can continue to chase kids! I mean seriously, how can someone take children to the theater? That’s crazy is what it is. New York? I’ve never been in a city any bigger than this one, oh my god… Always 1: Did you know we’re in the emergency row? This means if we were to crash it would be our responsibility to make sure everyone would get off okay. I feel I would be excellent at this job. Do you feel you would be excellent? Always 2: Oh my god, please do not talk to me about crashing. My life is metaphysically crashing. It’s hitting rock bottom and I know if this plane crashed my wife would be like “Oh well, God is just, a man shouldn’t leave his family.” She’s always CANYONVOICES

Image: Pixabay.com

Always 2: Oh my god, what am I doing? I can’t just leave! What if I die on this airplane? Always 1: You know if you aren’t comfortable sitting in the emergency exit row you should probably contact a Steward. They can find someone more suitable for the job. Did you not hear them when they were giving the safety briefing earlier? Always 2: The safety…? Does anyone actually listen to that? I mean I never see anyone actually listening! They always ask for

Always 2: I am not listening to an iPod. I wasn’t listening to an iPod; they cost like four hundred dollars and I have no money and I am leaving my wife and my job and my kids so I will never have an iPod okay! Always 1: There is no reason to verbally assault me. I was just trying to help. Always 2: Look, lady, I’m beyond help. Always 1: I do not think that anyone is beyond help. I— SPRING2015

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Always 2: I just walked out on my wife. We’ve been married eight years and I just woke up and decided I couldn’t do it anymore. I have three kids. I hate flying but I just came here, bought a ticket, and now I am going…. I’m going…where are we going?


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... Aerial Apocalypse Continued Always 2: Yes, yes, I know about you. I bet you feel you are a really good listener too. Always 1: Well, you know my math teacher in the eleventh grade used to tell me that listening was my best quality.

and in no way affected the incident.5 The following dialogue of the second Always was spoken during this momentary turbulence. The dialogue of the first Always directly following is spoken after the turbulence is complete. Always 2: What was that? Oh my God, oh my God. Jesus Christ! Turbulence occurs. Always 1: Anyway, my math class in eleventh grade was the defining point in my— Always 2: Look, I’m sure you and your freaking math teacher were really close, okay? I cannot handle anyone reminiscing about high school right now okay, Lady? It is at this point that several witnesses claim that the first Always unclipped their seatbelt and stood up. Bartholomew Smith, an Always in Row Thirteen6 is quoted as saying, “You could cut the tension with a knife!” Always 2: Wh-what are you doing?

Image: Pixabay.com

Reports note that at this moment there was a small amount of turbulence. Experts say that turbulence under these conditions was in fact totally normal

Always 1: You are sending hostile energy waves in my direction. I need to put up my mental shield before I return. Always 2: But…but the turbulence? I…you should probably sit back down.

Turbulence is in fact believed by some scientists to help regulate the Always to Never ratio in the airplane ecosystem by breaking up conversation. It should also be noted that Alwayses have a statistically higher chance of being fearful of turbulence than Nevers. 5

6

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Readers will be pleased to note that Mr. Smith was sitting by himself.

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Always 2: Look, I will stop sending the hostile wave things just please sit back down okay? You-you could cause the plane to-Always 1: You’re doing it right now! This next moment is highly regarded as the moment in which everything changed. The second Always stood up and grabbed the arm of the first Always. The first Always then responds by pulling their arm away and shoving the second Always. Both Alwayses (One and Two) proceed in this push and pull manner to slowly make their way down the aisle. This is the point at which the Steward intervened7 and the point at which many speculate the two Alwayses finally cracked8. Steward: Please, would the two of you sit down?? You are upsetting the other passengers. Always 1: There is too much hostility!!!!!!

Steward: I’m sorry, is there a problem here that I need to directly address? Always 2: Problems? Problems? You have no idea what kind of problems there are right now! I have no more family! No more life! Even if I go back I will never be seen the same way! And this lady will not sit down, and there is turbulence!

hysterical breakdown.9 After a brief moment in which the screaming did not subside, the Co-Pilot physically pushed the first Always out of the eye line of the Head Pilot and back down the aisle toward the second Always. The CoPilot had apparently assumed that the Pilot would regain control of himself. He assumed wrong. It was at this point that the plane began to lose altitude. As soon as this happened, the first Always stopped screaming and the second Always started.

Steward: The turbulence is actually quite—

Always 2: OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! MY WIFE IS RIGHT! OH MY GOD!

Always 1: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Always 1: We have to get back to our seats! It is our responsibility to—

Witnesses say at this moment the first Always ran toward the cockpit. Running out of places to go, the Always simply stood there continuing to scream. In a moment that most consider great failure on the part of the airline, the door to the cockpit was unlocked and the Co-Pilot came to see what the problem was. It is not known what conversation exactly went on between the first Always and the two Pilots, only that it was so extreme that the Head Pilot had a spontaneous

There is much controversy as to what next happened. Some say it was the Steward and others say it was the flailing arms in the uproar. All witnesses say that somehow a button was pushed and several suitcases came flying out of the overhead compartment landing directly on the heads of the two Alwayses in question and the Steward.10 This allowed the Co-Pilot to return to the cockpit. After this moment, the airplane ecosystem was able to equalize itself and no crash ensued. The first Always came to

Stewards are considered neither Alwayses nor Nevers. This is a state of neutrality that takes years of training to master. 8 The author would like to note that use of the word “cracked” is strictly for literary enjoyment purposes. The exact term for an Always reaching hysteria is known as “hyperdislepsia.” 9 Pilots are an extremely talented but an extremely rare breed in the airplane ecosystem. When on airplanes, they only think in terms of the airplane and how it physically functions. Therefore it is impossible for them to not only fit the Always and Never prototypes but also to even contemplate them. This moment for the Head Pilot is suspected to have been a moment of complete realization of the concept of an Always and it is no surprise that it rendered him incapacitated. The Co-Pilot, who was put into this position because of his slightly less strong understanding of airplane physicality, was able to handle this realization slightly better. 10 It is strongly suspected by many that the Steward also had some kind of spontaneous meltdown, as he did not attempt to help with the uproar. We do not have the Steward’s name and the airline declined to comment 7

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Always 1: No, no. I need to find my mental shield.


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... Aerial Apocalypse Continued

briefly and uttered something but the witnesses are split on what was said. One group believes the Always said, “Bags may have shifted in flight,” but the opposing group believes that the Always said, “The tarantula ate the table.” Meanings of these phrases have been debated endlessly. END TRANSCRIPT The aftermath following the Incident was perhaps not as chaotic as the Incident itself but equally problematic. The general distress caused a polarization in the two species, making every single Always seem as bad as the first two who caused the Incident and causing every single Never to refuse to talk about the incident. Most police reports are gathered from a wide variety of Alwayses who in an effort to tell a good story all provided different versions of what actually happened. This paper analysis was developed using the actual recording as a template and a painstaking study of similar details from all of the reports. Citizens are warned

Image: Pixabay.com

against all publications by any Always involved, as the validity of these reports seems to be murky at best.11

considered highly discriminatory, could not even be an option if the Silence Laws were to pass.

In these extreme times, care needs to be taken for the general citizen and one’s plane safety whether Always or Never. If a traveler were not allowed to speak on an airplane, this would completely stop the possibility of this incident ever occurring again. In fact, as the only defining characteristic of Always and Never is the tendency towards or against speaking, a Silence Law would render every traveler exactly the same. This would also cause complaints of Airlines purposely skewing the Never to Always ratio to go down. These ratios,

The Row Fifteen Incident is a cruel reminder of how precarious an ecosystem the airplane is. This one incident could have completely shattered the aerial biome and as a result could have killed many. Please consider writing your local representatives and telling them that you would feel safer if Silence Laws were enforced. The Airplane environment may be in great danger.12

Q Q

Q

For more information on author Juliana Pasley, please visit our Contributors Page.

Most notably among these publications is Bartholomew Smith’s Airline Tarantula Training, which tragically graced the New York Times’ Bestseller list. 12 Readers are encouraged to donate any money you have to the Privacy Please Party so more studies and campaigning can be done to bring awareness to this problem. The PPP cares about your safety. 11

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Nightfall by Christian Parfitt (see Artwork for More of Christian’s photos)

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FICTIONCONTRIBUTORS


FICTIONCONTRIBUTORS

Elizabeth Nineb Alvarez Daniel “Clarity” ...... .

“Gym-24” ..... .

Michael DeStefano

Cameron Jason Hirsch Kapcala “Defective Seconds”

“Welcome Home”

Elizabeth “Lisa” Alvarez was born and raised in Arizona. She is a recent alumna and currently holds a BA in English from Arizona State University with plans to pursue a Master’s in Library and Information Science. She is currently teaching (and tutoring) 7th and 8th graders at a local charter school. She has a deep love of the written word and believes there is no greater joy than the happiness she finds in between the pages of a well-written story. When she isn’t molding the minds of America’s youth or lost deep in the pages of a good book, she enjoys traveling to new places, watching TV crime dramas, spending time with her pug and singing along (off-key) to her favorite musicals. This is her first piece to be published in Canyon Voices.

Nineb Daniel was born in Chicago, Illinois, and is currently standing right behind you.

Mike received his MFA in 2012 from Fairfield University, where he now teaches first-year writing. He also teaches for the City University of New York at LaGuardia and Queensborough Community Colleges. His writing has previously appeared in Escape Into Life and Spry Literary Journal. He lives in Queens, NY with his fiancee, Carla.

Cameron Hirsch is an aspiring writer who dabbles in dancing and relishes reading. She lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her family and a teacup Maltese who is ironically named Cosette after the poor maiden in Les Misérables, despite the fact that her wardrobe is overflowing with designer leashes and clothes. Cameron seeks to become an ophthalmologist while maintaining a concentration in English literature and creative writing. When she is not engaged in writing or avoiding writing while watching a Netflix original series, she immerses herself in the Spanish language, and is working toward fluency. Her pet peeve is autocorrect because it automatically changes the meaning of her sandwiches. Cameron’s work also appears in the Poetry section of this issue.

Jason Kapcala lives in northern West Virginia along the Monongahela River where he offers a series of community writing workshops for nontraditional students. His writing has appeared in The Summerset Review, Cleaver Magazine, Prime Number, Saw Palm, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. He is currently shopping a novel Hungry Town, and is writing a novel tentatively titled Welcome to Accident about a small-time rock band from a ghost town based on Centralia, Pennsylvania. Visit his website at:

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“What is This Place”

www.jasonkapcala. weebly.com

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“The Red Shawl”

Eunice Kim is a musician, artist, and novelist. She received her MFA from Otis College of Art and Design and her BA from Amherst College; during these experiences she worked closely with Amity Gaige and Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum. A former journalist, her articles have been published in Examiner.com and Canyon News, and she has taught English in Southeast Asia and the U.S. Her favorite authors include Marcel Proust, Maya Angelou, and Henri Nouwen but most of all, she enjoys reading the work of her friends and colleagues. Originally from New York, she is currently living in Los Angeles with her pet turtle Soren who is about ten years older than she is. Together they have produced writing that strives for a balance of spirituality and melodrama.

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Kevin Mackey

Juliana Pasley

Tanner Rubert

Dennis Tafoya

Juliana Paslay is a fiction writer living in Oakland, California. She works in the library of an elementary school and as a fiction editor for Omnidawn Publishing. She received her MFA from California College of the Arts and her BA from Earlham College. She is originally from Nashville, TN. Also, if anyone asks, she is a Never but please don't ask.

Tanner Rubert is a junior at ASU West, currently enrolled in the Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College. He is working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education with an English focus. A native Arizonan, Tanner hopes to continue writing along with teaching, and is interested in pursuing an MFA in fiction after he graduates. He’s currently working on a compilation of short stories featuring the characters in his piece and hopes to have that published someday, as well. In his spare time, he can be seen competing across the country at various video game tournaments, which he maintains has kept him sane as he juggles school and work. He likes to write about modern people and the complicated emotions that come along with that.

Dennis Tafoya is the author of three crime novels, Dope Thief, The Wolves of Fairmount Park and his latest, The Poor Boy’s Game, as well as numerous short stories appearing in magazines and anthologies such as Philadelphia Noir and Best American Mystery Stories. He has been nominated for two Spinetingler awards and his novels have been optioned for film.

“Encounters in “Near Aerial Old Castile” Apocalypse” Kevin J Mackey is native Irish, lived in the far drier climate of the San Francisco Bay Area for almost twenty years, and now lives in Kansas City, MO. He reads widely "whatever may be found between book covers" but has a fondness for science fiction and poetry. He has had short stories and poetry published since 2010. He tweets almost exclusively in Haiku, and his collection of photographs and haiku Haiku - Through a Lens is available online. His first long format work, Not by Dark Alone, is available from online booksellers and in paperback from CreateSpace. His experiment with theme and variations in writing, "The Goldberg Variations," is available from online booksellers. Find Kevin at http://kjmackey. blogspot.com or twitter.com/ kevinjmackey.

Photo: Erin Heath

“Piece”

“This is How They Met”

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FICTIONCONTRIBUTORS

Eunice Kim


POETRY Winter Journey by Christian Parfitt (see Artwork for full image)


Words is Neat Chris Parfitt Kokopelli Valentina Cano A Saturday with Anorexia Valentina Cano Lacuna Cameron Hirsch Letting Go Alex Biera who is she these days Janea Wilson we forget medusa William Harris My Father’s Barn Michael P. McManus Sugar High Shaun Holloway Kemetic Medical Practices David Redkey no Voltaire Keith Francese POEM FOR A SEXUAL ASSULT SURVIVOR Franklin Cline Dad: Driving from tomorrow to yesterday B. Koplen Nighttime Drive Alex Biera POEM IN WHICH THE LAST WORD IS EVERYTHING Franklin Cline Poetry Monthly Winners


POETRY

WORDS IS NEAT By Chris Parfitt

"Words are the wardrobe of thought" Me heard that somewheres And me likes it a lot Words sure is the neatest of things me been taught! When me used to get angry Me fought quite a lot Me called people names like booger and snot Bullies threw me down and made me lick the dirt when me try to run bullies grab me shirt but now me knows words that really cut deep Like dull ignoramus and abhorrent creep yes me feel much better when me walk down the street If someone say 'hey dummy!' Then me just repeat: "You ninny, you fop you obsequies twit! You best stop your squawkin’ me’ll have none of it! Your verbal deprecation stinks in me nose! And me squash your aspersions between me toes! And now you confused! Thats right, run away!" Cause me ain't no dullard, Me knows what to say.

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Kokopelli By Valentina Cano My mother waited for the dancing man with his flute, the one that never came. She straightened stacks of biting paper and had chalk embedded into the lines on her palm, drying out her life line, her love line. She was promised the man full of music and he never came.

A Saturday with Anorexia By Valentina Cano My room was as bitter and dark as coffee. Shutters drawn like chainmail against the morning sun. I flung my bones against the walls and floor, bending myself into a nightmare. Half a bar of ice cream pulsed in my stomach radioactive with the need to carve it out.

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Lacuna By Cameron Hirsch

Write us out of poverty.

They are screaming for food not luxuries.

Unwring my stomach with your beautiful

Anxiety commences my actions, fingers

words. Flowing in each ear and soothing my mind with soft caresses. I barely have enough ideas to fill this page. A book is out of the question. What would you declare is in question? Our safety. My sanity. These problems burn my compassion to the moment when flesh is unrecognizable. But who could ever recognize a nobody? Work your calloused hands till they bleed, and even then thank God for nourishment. These hands will save lives one day, mama. These problems are past praying. They are straddling a bridge and medications. These hands can’t save lives, save my own fragile soul.

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graze the trigger. These hands will write novels one day, mama. Escape time with fairies dancing atop citrus trees. Create realms where currency sinks below our floating figures. Tune us out of reality. Present us with tales of Italian lovers, a vineyard backyard and maroon colored wine. Fly us to England. Enchanting and crooked in the way smiles are when someone tries to decipher their emotions. Cover lacuna with dreams and messy cursive. Pour your thoughts into words and fashion sentences. May your characters weep with the nightmares you flee from. Write us out of poverty.

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Letting Go By Alex Biera

If I love you… I’ll let you go.Let you go? The words are like poison on my lips. How can I possibly let you go when your memory is the only reminder I have left of you. Will letting you go make me stronger? better? at peace? It’s a scary thought letting you go but if I love you…

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who is she these days? By Janae Wilson

that skinny thing who cut her hair and dyed it black, renounced all gods and took up smoking—was that you? fashioned herself after nico, spoke in affected french and failed out of university so no one would force her back, who tilted against midnight, strolling with boys who thought they were men, in goleta, listening to frogs gurgle in the marshes. did she really eat that many quesadillas? i can’t make her do anything, not even wear pants. she wants, she wants to breathe. to eat the air surrounding her before the earth swallows her, before she forgets that she used to love riding bicycles down alleys where real men rolled dice and got high and shouted their aggressions at little girls riding bicycles down the alleys. does she remember how big her teeth used to be for her face? the skinny girl wants the man wearing the tennessee tuxedo pushing elotes on her old block to swing by, maybe she will try mayonnaise this time. both of you are so quiet, so god damned quiet, and even quieter still. sometimes her voice shook, because she was so filled with air, and longing to be heard.

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POETRY

we forget medusa By William Harris

was once beautiful. that her dark hair shone in the afternoon sunlight & eyes glittered with the burning reflection of incense embers as she prayed to athena. we forget she was raped by poseidon that this is why athena damned her. hair which once flowed as night snapped with venomous fangs. skin once soft moonlight scaled & grayed. eyes blackened. teeth protruded from her jaws lacerating gums & lips. her tongue bloated. pain glowed in terrible harmony. then athena cursed her with immortality. loneliness in time. her stone menagerie her company. waiting for peace. waiting for perseus & his sword

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My Father’s Barn By Michael P. McManus After forty years his forgotten masterpiece appears unchanged. It’s waiting over there on its island of time, the distance between us a disused field, the rain-blackened soil a stage over which a misty scrim rises in remembrance of the play whose actors have died. Through the abandoned cornstalks the wind rustles like a priest who asks to hear my confession inside his shriving pew, which I will never enter again – Bless me father for I have continued my perditions in the forty years since my final confession. I no longer need your absolution. My sins are swallows that fly at dusk, and pardon comes with every summer storm. Will this place pardon me for failing to save my Americana? – Norman Rockwell stood here at first light, waiting for everything to come into focus for his still life, each color soon swirling into a biased fiftyish sentiment in which parents fucked only to procreate. I see his field stone foundation stacked without a crack, pine log walls notched and caulked at the seams, a pile of split wood beside the house, sweet alyssum in bloom, a hummingbird flitting between lilacs, and the V-shaped roof where bees disappear into a hole beneath the ridge beam, weathercock watching until wind sends it spinning. He never saw the spring-fed pond out back, the water clear all the way down to its muddy bottom, the cold, welcome shock of it in summer. Buckler ferns circling its shoreline where children bound like wild things, until my father calls them inside. That night they sleep before the foothills of the Alleghenies, and dream their way up the slope. Through rhododendron. Through horse balm. Through wild oats. CANYONVOICES

I am those footfalls, wonder-struck at dusk. Purple sky holding my gaze. Today I see things in the mirror of memory – my reflection a dream. Step away from it. Go. Watch it collapse into ruin – The ghosts go on living inside them, where each day ushers in neglect until the fires return to burn our paintings we leave behind. The ash settling into silence like Buddha mind. I step inside the barn. October light descends through holes in the roof. It exiles itself to the dirt floor, gray fingertips searching for a hold. The cold could be a color too, like the jacket of ice the pond is wearing. I climb up on the ancient tractor. A red, rusting machine, it once lurched into the morning shadows, scattering deer from the orchards. Now unrecognizable old men, the apple trees grapple outside with privet and brambles. Sickle-sharp gusts whistle through open chinks. A rusty chain rattles on its dusty yoke. Not everything is dead here, unless it’s the afterlife I hear in the rafters – wings fluttering like the tiny hearts that hide there. Here where change arranges time the way it must, will this moldy hay ever turn to dust? The stable doors could be used again by burning them in a hearth. And love? What becomes of it? Well, I still love everything that’s missing from this earth – things that winter long and hard.

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POETRY

Sugar High By Shaun Holloway

Radio static buzzes pop music. Inch by second, sockets and cords push volt zzz the brain beats like a jumping bean after morning coffee. Crack a can open and listen to the bubble zzz float and pop up top splattering sweetener like bacon grease. Every year more flies are caught with honey than with vinegar so crank up the sweet tunes zzz and buzz over here. Mosquitoes twerk red lymph-filled rumps. whip-its shoot down throats zipping cool thought zzz into bouncing brains. The world buzzes, a gaggle of flies go in one ear and fly zzz out another. Taking the world apart, spread out each note, put it together. It isn't healthy but it's so sweet.

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1

Kemetic Medical Practices By David Redkey

Note from the author: the medical practice of bleeding patients was first recorded with Ancient Egyptians around one thousand BCE. Kemet (or k.mt) is the name the Ancient Egyptians called their land. Drop Drop Drop into The pearl basin Crystallic fluidity Stillness upon the surface Shatters by expanding, spreading Diffusing into each crimson drop Locked whispers and images All of them fading into Moments. Drop Drop Maternal Rigamoritis Fading closeness Now ashen minus hoping Vanish only into lost memories Wishing for returning, alludes Into the pearl painted wagon Only leaving me Why?

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2

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Drop Drop Drop into The dream catcher Ideas forming, controlling Transforming my every word My every action, thought for my muse My muse slowly guides me forward Helping me, telling me Speaking out Hope. Drop. Drop. Righteous Can you listen? Can you let my blood The blood flowing from my nose Shedding the anger of others from me Fall, Falling, falled, failed, fail Foibled into nothing Pain’s a dream Gone.

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no Voltaire By Keith Francese

on the side of 32nd Street a sign reads: all is cyclical above a Circle K the night sky lights up, an American Nagasaki Ballard sits at the curb, nonplussed, the homeless dog bumming cigarettes says we treasure corrupt versions of ourselves, a broken record that one Wednesday, 11 o’clock, any number of illusions, but, mostly, gumption and wile


Out of the Darkness by Chris Partiff (see Artwork for full image)


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POEM FOR A SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVOR By Franklin Cline

We made cameras that can watch someone murder someone and I can watch what was on that camera. Witness me with all the world’s weapons. Quick, before the venom reaches my heart. Right this way. Let me now speak in a comforting voice. A couple days ago I had to walk a few steps behind a woman to the library. We were moving at a similar clip, taking all the same turns. She is younger than me. So I call out hi I’m just going to the library not following you ha ha. And she half turns and half smiles. And later, wow I think is that what someone who’d want to reduce someone would say, too, and how to not reduce or ruin and am I just ruinous anyway or am I some weirdo floating again, some dream, and I don’t know what I owe or what I can do or how to stop it. So maybe I re-render your experience in a prettier way and call it sympathy and we chalk it up to good intentions, maybe I reimagine your experience and say it’s

how tragically aware I am? I’m not ugly enough to get that ugly. I try to stop it when I see it but I like to be safe and sound on the couch with Rachel and the TV; it scared me when this guy I met in the library told me about getting concussed by the guy in the white power t-shirt, how he got thumped for calling that dude out. I don’t know your heartbeat. I love you and I don’t know what’s best, I can’t wizard fairness, I can’t. For the most part you are on your own. We need to stop taking, we need to get an invite first. To RSVP. I mean men. Man, guilt is a soggy quart of beer in a thin paper bag, sweating its way out. But anyway why speak: I know nothing, I can’t even believe what I see even though so much has been shown to me, I walk down stairs and out the door every day and the first thing I see is our fence, this poem for you is really for me: how do I make sure this bulldozer love screaming through me comes from the right place?

for you when really it’s for me to show CANYONVOICES

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By B. Koplen

Windows down, I listen to music in the car to our right; their gospel station blares. Our radio's easy listening sound floats among spaces in its upbeat harmonies; I pray for a long red light. Well into his eighties, Dad is driving. Green comes; Dad eases away; Jesus takes the lead, then leaves us in a profound silence and His cloud of exhaust. While Dad drives, I count poles and birds at rest on their wires; median stripes appear thoughtful, slow to greet us. It feels like Monday or Tuesday although I thought yesterday was Wednesday. I wonder whether we are rolling backwards. I do not feel Dad apply brakes; his hands coax the wheel to polish sharp corners. With Dad, I don't lean into curves, nor brace for sharp stops. He drives in glide mode, on soft boulevards and streets that call to him. “This way,” they say, as if sharing a shortcut through time.

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Dad: Driving from tomorrow to yesterday


Into the Abyss by Kimberly Kijewski (see Artwork for full image)


Nighttime Drive By Alex Biera

The blaring music, surrounds me becoming my mantra as I grip the wheel tighter darting through pools of streelight The lines on the road before me blur into strips of yellow and white streaking the way to the great expanse beyond Soon, the night seems to unfurl ahead velvet presses on all sides with star studs twinkling daring to be touched In this space my thoughts and the world mingle together becoming one as I myself, become infinite


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POEM IN WHICH THE LAST WORD IS EVERYTHING By Franklin Cline The darkness is like small animals crawling on top of each other as we pile into Jimmy’s rusted ‘77 Reliant K to go shoplift some vodka to fill our sixteen year old minds with anything other than ourselves, something different, change. The four of us walk in the grocery store all smiles. We make a point to buy some toilet paper, not enough to attract attention (once we were detained at Wal-Mart while security asked why we needed 200 rolls to which Justin said he had diarrhea and we all laughed and the cops sighed but eventually let us go and said they’d get us good one day and afterwards we yeah righted all over town), but enough to warrant our backpacked presence in the grocery store and a good start on what we’ll need to TP another Jimmy’s house later. Alan elbows a jar of spaghetti sauce onto the ground around the time Quentin CANYONVOICES

is walking out, backpack with three Smirnoff handles clanking and there’s a chaos and somehow they know and a manager chases after us and we jump laughing into Jimmy’s running car and speed off and for real a cop follows us for a few blocks before we take a quick left-right-left and turn into the Sarahthat-Jimmy-lost-his-virginityto’s garage to hang out for a bit while we wait for it all to blow over, plus Sarah’s brother deals weed so we can smoke some anyway, and her parents, good hard-working Italian folk, second generation Americans, always had snacks. Later I will throw up under a streetlight, then even more later after Alan gets a blow job from Jenny (whom Jimmy is in love with) we go out to the other Jimmy’s house in the nice suburbs and let the TP fly: 72 rolls’ worth floating through the sky like how some clouds look like birds. When we’re done, we know we have done something SPRING2015


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right, we have shown the world how much we matter. For the next couple of days, you can see our work from 169-South, the highway that pushes us down back from the nicer houses into our own cramped apartments, the whites of the TP from the trees swaying like surrender flags, like all the stuff surrounding the part of the eye that sees which Ms. Loesser tried in vain to teach us while we were too busy plotting how to get away with, and from, everything.

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The School of Humanities, Arts & Cultural Studies

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH CONTEST WINNERS First Place

-the summer silence of burning suburbiaBy Niko Popovich … (this guy who hopes I have a crush on him, sees me get a # from this girl who hopes I have a crush on her) I’ve been going through this falling-in-love with-lesbians thing since I started college; a growing fancy for tokyo-cleopatras, halloween-gothicstarbucks-waitresses; She’s new-age, & neon, nuance, to nudity, all newsfeeds & neurology. now, now Ivory Diana, she’s a Marble Athena, bambi & a lightning bolt, a bashful exclamation point, with her Eve-hair bleached; So sad, So serious, So scene. (my fingers wade through her hair & came out bleeding), she only kisses girls, or girls who resemble men, or boys who play pretend, both, for escape. wasted. like all the years I didn’t keep a Diary, O, keep your distance, All I want is me In your evil clutches. CANYONVOICES

… (in cigarette breaks, she says: “we’re all dancing, like, moving in time.” She studies Heidegger. I do not... I ask: “but who makes the music? & what for the wall-flowers?” & all I know is steps-solo, I step sacred, walking out cases of her crawling shockwaves & aches for her slow-motion rain-drip; (I want your goddess, to whip me with her thunderbolt; slow, & slow, & slow, please.) -& maybe if the Wind would have it; Our clouds could come together… nevermind the still glances, from the mannequins, (we’ll rip the secrets off their lips & graffiti them, on the freeway). Diana, this is parking-lot love, K-mart carnivals: we’re simply pissing promises together into koi pond office centers. Both born; inside-a-live Ghost town, & my kiss; The only static for bride of Frankenstein; To be, Or not to be. SPRING2015


NATIONAL POETRY MONTH CONTEST WINNERS Second Place

The Bends By Sasha Billbe Your steps are ambient, shark on land. Recreational, I used to be buoyant. You and your compensator, regulated my descent. Teeth at my lips, hands on my throat, I inhale, you exhale; oxygen toxicity. Lungs expanding, atmospheric pressure. You are the external propulsion forcing me to ascent. Small bubbles of lies, fractured promises float through my blood stream, carrying euphoria, joy, misguided hope to my brain. Promises of implosion on the back of my tongue. Preferentially, your fingers cause pressure injuries. Weight lifting, each kiss a bubble pushed into my veins. Diving through my blood, racing because of you. Respiration is suffocation, decompression sickness over you.

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The School of Humanities, Arts & Cultural Studies


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The School of Humanities, Arts & Cultural Studies

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH CONTEST WINNERS Third Place

The Ancient History [Retold]: ‘In 1492 Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue…’ By Carolina R. Hernandez I. Oscuridad Descendida Al Ritmo de mi Vida Sin extranjeros, todavía no soy perdida Aztlán y sueños Antes de Tenochtitlan Quisaz, sera, que me Esperaran?1 II. A Volcanic Eruption inverted in the Sky Drenches Ash over the Land as Darkness Leaving Behind the Eye of a God Red Rimmed and Blinking Sleep Just a gold sliver of omniscence Among the trees I am The shadow stars spin fluid And Drips to the Earth Solid Me deslizo Entre los pantanos La voz del Nahual2 Una Diosa Completa Sin compleja Pongo en fuego los cielos Quemando vida soy Un Amanecer de Can you outrun me?

_____________ 1 Obscurity descended/ to the Rhythm of my life/without foreigners, I am not yet lost/ Aztlán and Dreams/Before Tenochtitlan/Perhaps, can it be, that they will wait for me? 2 …solid/I slip/through the swamps/the voice of the Nahual/a complete Goddess/No Complex/I set fire to the skies/burning life I am/A dawn of/Can you Outrun me?

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III. The Ocean is too broad a place For a Man and his Soul Roughly Speaking, the World is an Hourglass Y un desierto te Espera al Fondo Tal es tu sed que hambriento, 3 By spoonfuls you will have swallowed The sands I poisoned Desire Meanwhile, you lust for gold and fight Turks God strengthens His Empire As Popes crown One Another, I’ve Heard But I just make a sharp cross of My weapons Praying, though I do not yet know The words I will speak to you transformation You see, the Ocean is too Shallow A place for a Woman and Her Rage

_____________ 3 …An Hourglass/and a desert awaits you in its depths/such is your thirst, that hungry by spoonfuls…

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The Ancient History [Retold] Continued IV. It’s the same Moon Though continents away, you do not Understand The choke of fear in my eyes Or the Black Earth pulled from Under my feet Apocalypse It’s the same moon you wrote, Glorified in textbooks and Only half the sky The difference is Raw is the brand of property Stamped into the surface We are Slaves Still, a single arrow rips through the fabric of time Dissolves Into un ser de piel canela, y el tambor de mi corazon4 That day, the moon was a womb Frigid and dispossessed 500 years on my back and a story to tell this future, of sweetest revenge, unknowingly wrought I am what is left

_____________ 4 Into cinnamon-skinned being and the drum of my heart

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NATIONAL POETRY MONTH CONTEST WINNERS

Honorable Mention

A Psychoanalytic Approach to ‘Young Goodman Brown’ By Olivia Tejeda A psychoanalytic critic Might read “Young Goodman Brown” And theorize that all that Faith Just dragged the good man down A vivid curiosity Sent him searching in the woods, To meet that Hellish snake charmer For proof that he was good. But what he found surprised him, Kinfolk most base and foul, And all those godly Puritans Doth joined in beastly howl. Stern, sad, and so distrustful, Became our Goodman Brown And ne’er he saw that he might be The worst Puritan in town.

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POETRYCONTRIBUTORS

Image: Pixabay.com


POETRYCONTRIBUTORS

Alex Biera

“Letting Go” “Nighttime Drive” Alex Biera was born and raised in the great state of Texas before moving to Arizona at the start of second grade. Currently, Alex is an undergrad in ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College double majoring in Psychology and Biology. Alex hopes to attend medical school in the future. Despite her science background, Alex has always been drawn to the arts and makes time to incorporate them into her life. From the age of nine, Alex has been playing the upright bass and currently enjoys jamming out on her bass guitar with friends in addition to writing poetry. For her poems, Alex draws inspiration from complex human feelings and situations that are difficult to express in words. Even though conveying such feelings and situations on paper is quite the undertaking, Alex enjoys the challenge and believes poetry to be the perfect vessel for communicating such ideas. CANYONVOICES

Valentina Cano “Kokopelli”

“A Saturday with Anorexia” Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. Her works have appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Web. Her debut novel, The Rose Master, was published in 2014 and was called a “strong and satisfying effort” by Publishers Weekly.

Franklin Cline

Keith Francese

“POEM IN WHICH THE LAST WORD IS EVERYTHING

“no Voltaire”

“POEM FOR A SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVOR”

Franklin K.R. Cline’s poems and interviews have been featured in Banango Street, Matter, Oyez Review, Word Riot, and elsewhere. He is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation and a Ph.D. candidate in English—Creative Writing at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin. He lives in Milwaukee with three cats and his wife, Rachel Kincaid.

Keith Francese received a Bachelor’s of Arts in both English and Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and has taught English and poetry both in the United States and abroad. His work has previously appeared in Four Chambers Press and Gravel and is forthcoming in Pouch. He currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona.

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POETRYCONTRIBUTORS

William Harris

Cameron Hirsch

“we forget medusa ”

“Lacuna”

A high school dropout after being suspended his senior year for possession of a fork and empty muffin wrapper, William attained his BA in English Literature from the University of Tennessee— Knoxville and is also a graduate student in DePaul University’s MA in Writing and Publishing program. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, he is currently employed at the Art Institute of Chicago where he sells audio guides. William’s poetry has appeared in 15 countries in such publications as Poetry Salzburg Review, Ascent Aspirations, and Write On!!! He enjoys playing the guitar, chess, and committing poems to memory. He considers himself the worst Buddhist, as he eats meat and kills spiders and a mouse on two separate occasions. If he were an animal, he would be a sun bear as they appear truly Zen basking in the sunlight, but they are probably just relaxing at the top of their food chain.

Cameron Hirsch is an aspiring writer who dabbles in dancing and relishes reading. She lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her family and a teacup Maltese who is ironically named Cosette after the poor maiden in Les Misérables, despite the fact that her wardrobe is overflowing with designer leashes and clothes. Cameron seeks to become an ophthalmologist while maintaining a concentration in English literature and creative writing. When she is not engaged in writing or avoiding writing while watching a Netflix original series, she immerses herself in the Spanish language, and is working toward fluency. Her pet peeve is autocorrect because it automatically changes the meaning of her sandwiches. Cameron’s writing also appears in the Fiction section of this issue.

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Shaun Holloway “Sugar High”

Shaun Holloway is an aspiring poet from Alexandria, Virginia. He attended Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, and recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He now lives in Los Angeles, California with several nonhuman animals and some human ones. His work has been published in the Eckerd Review and will be appearing in an upcoming issue of the Cahaba River Literary Review. He frequently wakes up at night in a cold sweat questioning the Question of Being.

Barry Koplan “Dad: driving from tomorrow to yesterday” For more than fifty years, Barry has been writing poetry and prose. Often published by friendly journals too arcane to mention, he received his MFA from Queens University in Charlotte, NC. Recently, he completed the second half of a two-volume collection of poems and essays. The first, Whale of Grief, compliments Wail of Joy, the second; both are related to impressions of life as a Jew in a nonJewish world. His memoir, No Gold Stars, is based on the integration of the Greenville, SC school system at Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr.’s alma mater, Sterling Jr.-Sr. High. It is available on Amazon.com. Barry teaches creative writing at Danville Community College in Virginia.

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POETRYCONTRIBUTORS

Michael McManus

Chris Parfitt

“My Father’s Barn”

“WORDS IS NEAT”

Born and raised in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Michael P. McManus has lived in the budding metropolis of West Monroe, Louisiana since 1986. His poems and short stories have appeared in numerous publications including Atlanta Review, Rattle, Louisiana Literature, Prism International, The MacGuffin, Pennsylvania Review, The Dublin Quarterly, Texas Review, Burnside Review, 3:00 AM, The Southern Poetry Anthology, and O-DarkThirty, among others. He is the recipient of an Artist Fellowship Award from the Louisiana Division of the Arts. He has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes and has received The Virginia Award and The Oceans Prize for poetry. He has a short story forthcoming in Per Contra. His poetry is forthcoming in Dewpoint, Malpais Review, and The Lake. He attended Penn State and The University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Chris Parfitt is a junior at ASU studying Graphic Information Technology. He has lived in the northern state of Ohio for most of his life. After wandering around in California and Texas for a while, he began to miss something. Although he can’t remember if he figured it out, or if he only discovered it in retrospect, but what he sought was the depth of the sensations of season changes. He missed home. When he returned to the stark state of old Ohio, he was slapped with memory. The rich smells and familiar sights of his childhood had left him awakened and inspired. He was compelled to capture the magic in the world he had once overlooked. His tools have been photography and the written word. He is currently focusing on a collection of photographs as well as a compilation of poetry for children Chris’s photography also appears in the ARTWORK section of this issue.

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David Redkey “Kemetic Medical Practices” David Redkey born in Indiana, has lived in Arizona for over 25 years, returning to college in 2012 to earn his Bachelor of Arts in English. At the start of 2015 Spring semester, after being placed on the President’s List for the 2014 Fall semester, David decided to pursue a concurrent BA in Communication in addition to his English BA, a degree option offered from ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. As a fan of film, David’s favorite film of all time is Excalibur (1981)— the closest representation on film of Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. David resides in Phoenix with Aggie, his wife; Mikaela, his stepdaughter; and their two cats (Scrapper and Peanut).

Janea Wilson “who is she these days?” Janea Wilson is an LA native currently residing in the South Bay. She received her B.A.s in English Literature and Creative Writing from CSULB, and is currently working on her MFA in poetry. Her writing has appeared in Myriad Magazine, Bank Heavy Press, Crate Literary Magazine, American Mustard, and The Oklahoma Review. She is the founder & editor-inchief of lipstickparty mag, a general interest online magazine with a strong focus on creative writing. Her myriad passions include Flannery O'Connor, Diet Coke, intersectional feminism, and finding the perfect falafel. Her ultimate passion is literacy. She volunteers regularly with Reading Partners as a reading instructor, tutoring elementary school students one-onone to build and strengthen literacy and comprehension skills.

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CREATIVE NON-FICTION Still by Christian Parfitt (see Artwork for full image)


A Prose Writer at a Poetry Meeting Karen Burton Kitchens Karen Burton Balcony Tressa Rini Casting the Net Melissa Blankenship Crash Morgan Billings


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A Prose Writer at a Poetry Reading By Karen Burton

T

he poets around me darted about in their tropical colors, their wine glasses bobbing like air bubbles. I looked at my beer and my monochromatic attire, and shrank into the corner, drawing cartoons of fish on my napkin. As the first poet began to read, I realized that the poets were indeed piscine, and that in order to glean their communication, I was going to have to dive into the deep pool with them. I closed my eyes and sank into the murky depths of line breaks and juxtaposed images. Here in the dark space below, dense with the weight of gravitas, the words clarified and danced in my body like waves of sound. I forgot the water as I swam in this poet's world of aching angst and remorse. My own pain merged with the beautiful sonic pulses. Then, my body grew weary, and my ears started ringing as if echoes were bouncing off the walls. I sprang up to escape the heaviness

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Chrome Study Value: Ostrich by Tim Winer (see Artwork for full image)

pressing on my chest. The poet continued to speak, but in my fatigue, I could do no more than float atop the musical rhythms she vocalized--for I had no gills. The lone kid out of the pool, I

sipped my beer and discovered it was bitter. ■■■ For more information on author Karen Burton, please visit our Contributors Page.

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By Karen Burton

I

t was the year that President Richard Nixon swore that he was “not a crook.” Elvis ruled the world of television with his Aloha Concert from Hawaii. It was the year that I first tasted mortal fear. *** I was frozen, my gaze fixed on the tree outside the kitchen window. In my twelve long years of life, I had never seen anything like it. “Grandma,” I said, “look at the tree.” She came and stood beside me. “Well,” she said, “ain’t that somethin’?” The pink tendrils on the mimosa tree were standing at

full attention. Their slender strands, which usually pointed to the earth, were now pointing to the sky as if a giant cosmic vacuum cleaner was holding its suction hose right over the tree, holding the leaves in their new configuration. “Better get to the basement,” Grandma said. “Grandma,” I asked, “is there going to be another tornado?” “Looks like we already got one.” She said, and exited the kitchen to corral the folks to the basement. My body started shaking. When will this be over? In the two hours leading up to this moment, I had already experienced two twisters, one of which had lifted the roof off of the building I was in. My nerves were frayed, and I was terrified. We are safe here. Grandma has a basement. My grandmother stepped up behind me and gave me a shove toward the basement stairs. I flew down and grabbed a post. The storm outside mirrored the storm I was feeling inside. The winds raged against the old house as it began to shake. Fear raged against all thought, and I began to shake too. I was caught between the child in me who wanted to cry and be held, and the emerging grownup who wanted to appear as unaffected as my grandmother who was descending slowly down the stairs.

Out of Darkness by Christian Parfitt (see Artwork for full image)

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The storm picked up its momentum and the house groaned in protest. Glass shattered. Every hair on my body stood up like the leaves on the mimosa tree. I SPRING2015

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Finally I was able to swallow. I forced the words out of my mouth. “That was a big one,” I said.

video worlds with his release, “Thriller.” It was the year that I learned to drink coffee and to heed good advice.

knew what to do. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” BOOM. Something in the upstairs of the house exploded. I prayed faster, “...thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The house shifted on its foundation, and I fell to the floor. “DEAR. GOD.” Tears streamed down my cheeks, and I waited for the roof to collapse on us all.

“Yup,” she replied.

“Are you sure?” my grandma asked.

Then it was over. With a sigh the old house settled back down and the winds abated. The adults around me looked at each other. “Guess that’s it,” my grandma said. They began to walk up the stairs to the kitchen. How could they walk?

***

Kitchens Continued

I sat in the basement for a twelveyear-old’s eternity. Finally, I walked up the stairs to find my grandmother sitting alone at the kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee. “The house looks good,” she said. “They’re lookin’ to see about the windows.” I sat down, struggling to come to terms with my humiliation and my shaking hands. My grandmother poured me an RC Cola and sat there with me for a long while, both of us silent. We listened as my uncles and grandfather walked and talked outside.

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I could not stop the next words from bursting out of me. “Grandma, weren’t you afraid of dying?” She took a sip of coffee and shook her head. “No. Dyin’ is nothing. Even bugs know how to die. The secret, Miss Karen, is knowin’ how to live.”

My first memory of my grandmother occurs in her kitchen. I am standing on a chair beside her stove, helping her pull and drop the ribbons of dumpling dough into boiling chicken broth. The air is humid and sweet with the smell of the rolling broth mixing with the flour. I pull and drop as carefully as a technician working with explosives. When a batch of dough is complete, I grab the beautiful silver spoon that lies on the counter. I place it into the broth, and begin to stir the magnificent pot. My grandmother’s hand reaches out to still my own. “Don’t stir the dumplins,” she says, “or you will wind up with dumplin’ soup. Gently, punch down.” *** It was the year that Time Magazine’s Man of the Year was “The Computer.” Michael Jackson ruled the music and

“Yes,” I replied, “it’s time. Adults drink coffee.” I sat in the new breakfast nook of my grandmother’s kitchen, occupying the space where a mimosa tree once stood. I focused on the two tasks at hand. She poured a cup of steaming hot coffee and placed it in front of me. “If you are going to learn to drink coffee,” she instructed, “drink it black, the way it should be.” The aroma was heaven. Why can’t coffee taste as good as it smells? I gingerly tasted the steaming hot brew. Damn, still bitter. “Sugar?” I inquired. She shook her head indulgently and turned back to her station at the stove. I took advantage of the opportunity to add a spoon of sugar to my cup. I gathered my courage to speak the words that were hovering just on the edge of my tongue. My second task involved the telling of a great secret. “Grandma,” I began… At that moment, my grandfather entered the kitchen to resume his post at the table with the newspaper. I paused. My grandparents’ kitchen was a hub of activity on a slow day. I could not imagine what it had been like when all ten of their children were still at home. Grandpa noticed SPRING2015


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proclamations of right versus wrong.

“Trying to learn how,” I explained. He winked at me and added a spoonful of sugar to my cup.

My grandmother simply said, “I wouldn’t marry him then.”

One of my uncles entered the kitchen. I honestly can’t remember if it was Bob, Bud, Bill, Marvin or Melvin… The five sons of the Starkey clan were always close at hand. That

I sat in stunned silence at the absence of her shock. Nervously, I picked up my cup and took a sip. Immediately, I spit the oversweetened yet still bitter mixture onto the table. She took my cup

*** Exhaustion waved over my body, but I dreaded sleep. For in the moment when I closed my eyes, I always saw him. First, I saw my perfect, pink baby boy, born screaming to the world that he had arrived. Then, I saw my dying, blue, misshapen baby, whose broken heart could not sustain life outside my womb.

My mother-in-law, Phyllis, a quiet, gentle soul, sat solitary drop marked my across from me at my baptism, not into a church, but “Since when do you kitchen table. We into a different way of being. The watched my two year old drink coffee?” he asked. darting around the shield that had stood between “I’m trying to learn boxes while the me and all the horrible things that unpacked how,” I repeated. ice melted in our happen to other people had untouched glasses of iced My uncle asked my tea. I could feel silent crumbled. grandfather to screams clawing at my accompany him to the inside for release. Emotions waged and tasted. Her face screwed up basement to search and locate a a war with each other. Pain. into an expression of horror. She tool of great importance. My Anger. Sadness. Guilt. Finally, quickly stood and tossed the grandfather rose to his feet and guilt reigned victorious and welled coffee down the sink. She placed headed downstairs. Before my up inside of me like a tsunami and the empty cup in front of me. “If uncle followed, he added a spoon focused its wave into five small you have to add milk, go ahead,” of sugar to my cup and patted my she said, “but sugar and coffee do words, “I didn’t make him right.” head. Alone again, I tried to tell my grandmother the terrible truth I needed to express. I drew my courage up from the soles of my feet. “Grandma,” I began, “I want to talk to you about something.” She made her way back to the table and sat down. “My boyfriend at college and I broke up”. She waited. “I found out something…he…well, the truth is that he likes boys more than girls,” I blurted out. I waited. I braced for the shock, the indignation, the CANYONVOICES

not belong together!” Good advice. I did not marry the young man who preferred boys. And, to this day, I do not put sugar in my coffee. *** It was the year of the great flood that paralyzed the central United States. Whitney Houston ruled the pop charts with her single, “I Will Always Love You.” It was the year of my great sadness.

She didn’t speak at first; she simply rose from her seat and crossed to my chair. She wrapped her arms around me and laid her cheek upon my head. There, she whispered words I cannot remember; a tear fell from her eyes and landed on my cheek, slowly making its way down my face and dropping onto my hands that were clenching each other in my lap. That solitary drop marked my baptism, not into a church, but SPRING2015

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my coffee cup. “You drinking coffee?”


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Kitchens Continued into a different way of being human. The shield that had stood between me and all the horrible things that happen to other people had crumbled. I could no longer believe that I was magically protected from the tragic, the unthinkable. Yet, in place of that shield I could now see a wall of humanity surrounding me, arm in arm, connected by tears and by someday, maybe by hope. I traded in my search for safety and began a search for strength. *** One of my later memories of my grandmother occurs in my mother’s kitchen. I stand at the

stove, dropping dumplings into a rolling chicken broth. My mother and grandmother sit at the kitchen table, supervising. My growing belly is just noticeable under my shirt as my son, Dustin, is announcing his presence.

It was the year that gave birth to Napster, Myspace and Bluetooth. Fear ruled the world as it prepared for Y2K. It was the year I threw out my rulebook.

“How is Miss Karen?” my grandmother asks.

“The spoon is under the table,” I said, holding my spoon under the table. Everyone else placed a spoon under the table. We each got a turn as night after night, a steady stream of over, under, behind, beside, in and out echoed off our kitchen walls. We were playing a game designed to help my son, Dustin, who was struggling to learn prepositions.

“I am OK, Grandma,” I begin, for I understand the depth of the question. “Every day, I have to remember to choose joy, not fear.” I rub my tummy. She nods in understanding. I walk to the table and bury myself in the folds of her hug. My brother walks to the stove to check my progress. He grabs the beautiful silver spoon and begins to stir the pot. Three generations of women reach out together to still his hand.

***

My oldest son, Will, thought of new word to try. “My fork is between the plate and the glass,” he stated. Three other forks quickly moved to the designated location, but Dustin was puzzled. He stared

Image: Pixabay.com

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Dustin’s quirky fallback response, “I can’t know that.” Will adopted the age-old practice of speaking louder and slower when faced with this situation. “IN…THE…MIDDLE,” he yelled. Dustin’s bottom lip began to tremble. Just as I deemed it was time for a Mom-intervention, Dustin picked up his fork and dropped it in his milk, tine side down. “The fork is IN the glass.” He laughed and threw his arms up into air, “I WIN!” Laughter erupted around the table as we celebrated with Dustin his momentary victory over a challenging learning disability. In my journal that night, I wrote, “Some games can only be won by changing the rules.” *** Feng Shui is a method of organizing items and space so that balance and harmony are promoted between people and their environment. The first step in this method is to draw a bagua map of your home. The map is then divided into a grid, with each area representing an important area of life such as knowledge, family, wealth, ancestors and career. In the center of the grid lies the symbol of yin and yang, marking the heart of the home. This area CANYONVOICES

contains the health of all who live within the walls, and is the place where the other eight areas converge. Five years ago, I drew my first bagua map of my home. I measured the rooms, and drew the grid. In the center of my home, directly in the place of health and convergence sits my kitchen table, the only piece of furniture that has not been relocated since we moved in almost 20 years ago. *** It was the year that an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan. Oprah Winfrey gave up her reign over daytime television, ending a twenty-five-year run of her show. It was my year of passing the torch. My best friend’s kitchen table is always a bit cluttered, but nothing like on this day. I sorted notes, food, and dishes with one hand as I answered the phone with the other. On the edge of the table was the notebook in which I scratched out lists. Katherine – potato salad. Principal called for arrangements at 2:30, please call back. Heidi needs sheet music. Jeannie was flitting about the house, frenetic as she moved from task to task. The phone rang again. “Hello, this is Jeannie’s house,” I answered. The funeral home. “Jeannie, you need to take

this one…” I handed off the phone and went back to my lists. I listened as she arranged the arrangements. So much to do when someone dies. So much…business. It’s the busyness of it that keeps us going, I suppose. My son, Will, wandered into the kitchen like a wounded puppy. His eyes were glazed with pain. Jeannie’s husband, Jimmy, was his godfather. My heart ached for my friend, as she was too young to be a widow. My heart ached for my son who was grieving his first real loss. My heart ached because a good man and friend was gone without warning. Jeannie hung up the phone and walked straight into my arms. I held her without speaking for I did not know the words to ease her burden. I looked at my son across the room, and I remember the words my grandmother spoke to me when I was a child. “Dyin’ is easy. The secret is knowin’ how to live.” Living in the midst of death is the hardest of all. I pulled out a kitchen chair and sat down. I patted the chair next to me and motioned for my son to sit. “Let me tell you a story about the first time I realized that I could die.” I began ... ■■■ For more information on author Karen Burton, please visit our Contributors Page.

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at our forks. “Between, Dustin,” Will explained, “That means in the middle of things.”


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Balcony By Tressa Rini

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here is something to be said for being lost gaze. One in which you have become the inside a kiss flavored with alcohol. It’s distance they were previously trying to escape warm with a lingering moment of to. The realization that these infinite seconds desperation followed by an exhale of relief. are the product of the courage found at the An exhale that becomes an inhale that bottom of every bottle. This night, these stars, drowns your chest cavity with a wave of that rum. All for you. Not boozy bids at tingling warmth. An exhale that implies they debauchery, but calculated passion. had been holding in the breath of that kiss The air is finally forced from your lungs as a for every sober second of every sober day. realization of butterflies swarms your tense The exhale feels like rum. Warm, smooth, expectant body. The rapidity of their beating strong, comforting, and a safely dangerous wings is a velocity previously unbeknownst to blend of reckless. The exhale embodies your unexcitable everything you frame. It’s as if their want of him, of third hand exposure rum. As the But logic is nothing but a to the amber elixir sweetest bitter loathsome liar. You’re awfully has mutated them reverberates into a spastic carnal sure, because the stars wink through your breed. Every tingle senses you a steady glimmer of and shiver and beat become certain assurance at you, and they make echoes the exhale has the ardent granted you stars never lie. palpitations of your equal heart and intoxication. exacerbates the desire tinting your lips. Your One breath suddenly becomes irrefutable entire anatomy seems to have confirmed the proof that this is more than just seventy untested theory that his lips touching yours percent desire invading your blood stream. will create a bridge for which your butterflies Reflecting on the shadows of just moments can find their counterparts in him. Finally before when his eyes were purposefully united in ecstatic peace. transfixed miles away. Set stalwartly to a Logic fights it’s way through the thick fog of land where only the eyes of those bathed in perfection floating on the summer air. A the gloss of inebriation may gain admission. dreaded burst of realization. A spark of sanity You become fascinated with the imagined amidst the temerarious breaths. Once your culture of his world: universes of drunken butterflies find their contentment they will no galaxies. When you find the depths of blue longer be yours. The moment his breath mysteries have shifted to you, all attempts at mingles with yours between parted lips, the measured breathing are futile. The vacancy beasts residing in your emotional intestines, of the stare replaced with a new kind of

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will be his. He will be their only master. The only one to ever return them to you. Every other stimulation of the sensation will be a simulation. But logic is nothing but a loathsome liar. You're awfully sure, because the stars wink a steady glimmer of assurance at you, and stars never lie. The heavens are incapable of perversion. They know that once your lips meet, you need never fear captivity. Every brilliant blinking orb assures you that never a sober or drunk moment will pass where ribs will act as a prison for the metaphorical insects that is our love. Freedom is on their wings. Contentment has been transcended. The closer you move to me and the more my world shifts to dazzling blue, I become more acutely aware of all the maladies love will deliver on the wings of rushing butterflies. They seem to storm my entire form. My knees become engulfed in their feather soft encouragement rendering me weak and boldly elated. Their path muddles my brain, teaching me the meaning of a poetic dizzy. But under all those physical maladies that compose infatuation and beyond the smooth flavor of rum, lies you and me. Children growing into one another. A perfectly shared moment of surreal and impossible sobriety initially nurtured by rum. No longer bound by Monarchs or Captains. A union sanctioned by the stars and consecrated by the moon. CANYONVOICES

Lady in Blue by Joe Puglisi (see Artwork for full image)

■ ■ For more information on author Tressa Rini, please visit our Contributors Page. ■ SPRING2015


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Casting the Net By Melissa Blankenship

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tanding on the pier, I faced the water, and looked down into an undulating mass of hammerheads. More than anything, I wanted to catch a baby shark and prove my worthiness of the new pole. It’s a serious business, casting a fishing pole. I learned that at age six, in Galveston, Texas, standing on a wooden fishing pier that jutted far enough into the Gulf of Mexico to make it sway with the push and pull of the ocean against its barnacled pilings. Below its deck, a school of sleek, baby hammerheads swam in the Mississippitinted water; a first sighting for me. Daddy smiled down at the sharks and called it a true miracle. He wanted us to catch one, me and my younger brother, Michael, with the brand new juvenile-sized fishing poles he’d given to us that morning.

insect-laden, southeast Texas nights. Me, perched in the wire basket Daddy had hung on the front of his bicycle; my legs dangling from the two holes he’d carefully cut out, with every sharp edge sanded smooth. We’d leave Mama and Michael in bed and head out.

Daddy must have thought me ready for my own pole. Looking back, he must have thought the easy-cast pole, designed for kids, came with a zero percent chance of failure. In the parking lot alongside Galveston’s Seawall, Daddy put me through a few practice swings to make sure that I remembered all the steps. While I focused on keeping all the steps in order, Daddy tried to run my brother through a quick lesson, but Michael ignored him and ran onto the pier behind Mama. When he thought I was ready, Daddy led me onto the pier. I was already an old hand at fishing. At least I thought so. Since the age of two, Daddy and I had fished on early Sunday mornings, before dawn broke the back of the damp, CANYONVOICES

Abandoned Pier by Joe Puglisi (see Artwork for full image)

Pedaling downtown to the rusted heart of Port Arthur, Texas, our first stop was a breakfast bar no bigger than a railway car. Swinging me up onto one of the gleaming, chromed stools Daddy grinned at me while I held court with the adults perched around me, every one of them Daddy’s friends. I never saw another SPRING2015


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After breakfast, Daddy biked us another mile or two to our favorite fishing spot, crossing over the drawbridge spanning Port Arthur’s shipping channel, made when the U.S. Corps of Engineers dredged out the existing waterway in the late 1800s. On the other side of the channel sat Pleasure Island, where locals hung out decades before my time at the carnival which gave the island its name, but of which no trace now remained. What the island still offered was some of the best saltwater lake fishing I’d ever known. With Sabine Lake’s choppy, muddy waters stretching from the east side of the lake to the horizon, I claimed it as the Gulf of Mexico. In my childish reckoning, it couldn’t be a lake because everywhere we went along the edges of Texas’ coastline, muddy water sloshed in from the Gulf. It all looked the same to me. On the far side of the lake sat the west coast of Louisiana, but I wouldn’t know that until later, either, when grade school taught me the geography of the area. I’d learned about fishing through observation and practice, from the feel of a bait shrimp properly threaded onto a gleaming hook, to the loose touch required to hold a pole securely, and that sense of controlled movement necessary for the art of casting. Daddy had moved me through CANYONVOICES

the levels of rod and reel techniques as he thought I could handle them, with one of his poles that he usually had me use to fish. We shared the quiet of early morning and the peace of open water pulsing against the protective boulders that ringed the edges of the island. Because I cared about pleasing him, I learned fast. Now, standing beside me, Michael tried out his new pole. Without even bothering to cast the line, he hung the pole over the edge of the pier’s railing and let his hook and sinker plop into the water with a quick push and release of the button. A hammerhead gobbled the hook in a quick second, and Michael reeled in the line and his prize. With a twang of jealousy, I passed this off as a lucky break. Certainly, I could do better. I’d do it like someone with my skills could. I’d catch the shark as an experienced fisherman would, and Daddy would smile at me, clap me on the back and call me Shorty Kid, the nickname he used when he was happiest with me. I remembered Daddy’s instructions. “Push the button on the reel until it clicks, then release it.” The sinker dropped, pulling line with it. “Wind up the line until the sinker dangles about level with the handle of the rod.” This would give me something to swing. “Click the button again and hold it.” This locked the line. “Swing the tip of the pole in a wide, sideways arc and slightly up, letting the sinker pull the line

taut behind you.” This put energy into the cast. Then came the most important moment, a lesson I learned and relearned when I forgot and found the hook caught in my clothing, or my leg. “Stop at the top of the arc”, before the sinker could take on its own momentum. Finally, “with a quick flick of the wrist, swing the sinker towards the water and let go of the button when the arc flattens out.” With success came reward, as I watched the sinker shoot out into the water, dropping in at the end of a perfect curve. Holding my breath, I turned my attention back to the task at hand. I pushed the button and held it, my eyes following the reel as I swung the rod behind me, watching the sinker arc back to a tight line. Pulling it all forward again, I pointed the pole on a direct path toward the open water. Everything seemed perfect. I let go of the button. I let go of the pole. The bright, clean white of the fiberglass rod rushed behind the hook, the sinker and the sparkling line. It hung on the top of the squat waves for a single, awful moment before the Gulf of Mexico claimed it without prejudice or judgment. I don’t remember Daddy making a fuss either. ■■■ For more information on author Melissa Blankenship, please visit our Contributors Page.

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child. I listened to their stories; they listened to my childish prattle.


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Crash By Morgan Billings

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o matter how many times the diagnosis is spelled out, I still have difficulty understanding it to this very day. No matter how much research I do—and trust me there has been many a sleepless night— or how many adjustments to my daily life I make, I think I will always have difficulty understanding that my mortality now relies upon my ability to constantly be in motion. See, up until my nineteenth birthday I was a semi-irregular teenaged girl. I worked out— in fact I was training to start Olympic lifting —on a near daily basis while attending college full-time and working an average of twenty-five hours each week as a back room troll or stock person, for a reputable and liberal retail company. I was incredibly active and happy with a resting heart rate at about sixty-five and a blood pressure of ninety-nine over fifty-nine. I was healthy in every possible adaptation and variation of the word. I was looking forward to cooler weather, seeing my significant other over break, and finally being done with my biology class. It was the first day in Arizona in which the temperature finally dropped below sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit. The outside world was a monochromatic exploration in grey, as the admittedly unusually abundant clouds covered the sky with their enlarged stomachs weeping and a faint breeze blowing. I was in “My Cave”, a twelve-by-twelve foot room in the back of one of the larger retail stores in the area, basking underneath the harsh florescent lighting, swaying to the hilarious renditions of classic Christmas carols, and sticking very close to the industrial steamer

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that admittedly did not have to be turned to heat as I processed the new shipment of fiftytwo. I carefully and obsessively labeled boxes, approximately over seven hundred new articles, that made my cave, well, a cave instead of the frigid grey enclosure that I knew and loved. I was three hours into my shift, idly nattering to any and all of my co-workers who entered my domain about school and the “new” product. They in turn would take a moment to curse and sit on the box towers that littered the den and remind me why I was inexplicably thrilled to only have limited exposure to the crazed, elderly last-minute shoppers that had made a mess of the carefully arranged displays, harmed and chipped the mannequins, and knocked the industrially bolted shelving units off of their industrial bolts. Never mind having to be exposed to them during my traditional end of shift filling and straightening on the floor. One of my co-workers had just left after hugging the searing piping of the steamer to “warm up” when my manager, a tall thin woman with short spiked hair, entered the room, leading the way for the unimpressive manager-in-training of the newest California store; eying the box towers I had created with what I believed to be a mixture of fond admiration and panic. “Morgan, this is Wendy, the manager I was telling you about.” My manager wrung her thin hands together while introducing us. Wendy was the woman who had me coming in an hour or two early the day prior as she did not show up for the early shift. My manager, Francine, stepped to the side in her

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I remember cringing. The holiday season had already begun, all of the seasonal residents from the snowy North had settled neatly into the folds of Arizona’s population for their winter residency. I had a back room filled with nearly eighty boxes of new merchandise to accommodate their material compulsions and Christmas driven frenzy. At this point in the retail season, it was not uncommon for my dear manager to come into the back room, without picking up one of my handy dandy flash cards, wringing her thin near translucent hands together to ask if I could stay just “a little later.” Promptly turning a six-hour day into a ten or twelve hour adventure in the purple lint filled concrete enclosure. My day never ended with the official ending of my shift when there were mannequins to repair, repaint, and redress or things on high shelves that needed to be brought down. Never mind the fact that I had a one hundred and twenty question study guide waiting for me back at my “actual” home. My final was at ten AM and if I actually got off on schedule I would have four hours to study and eight, a whole eight to sleep. It's entirely possible that I responded, “Hi, Wendy, it’s great to meet you” with too much CANYONVOICES

saccharine sweet.

Francine nodded along and politely excused herself from the Wendy just nodded and half situation while I explained the attempted a small wave before organization of the merchandise giving up on the gesture. She and tools in the back room, the looked terrified as she shifted her different methods for storing the weight from patent heeled foot to necessary supplies, and the weekly patent heeled foot. clean up procedures. Francine’s heels could be heard from the “Morgan, I was just wondering if front of the store as she spoke with you would mind showing Wendy the only other employee having what the roles and responsibilities served fifteen years with the of the Support Associates, very company about the trials and important members of tribulations of training this your team Wendy, woman. Wendy asked are so that she the predictable can learn questions about from the the acronyms in I was in best source use, why there ‘My Cave,’ a in the store were so many and get a twelve-by-twelve non-bathroom hang of the related items in foot room… processing the employee method.” restroom, how Francine, my often our regular manager, had a customers were in, somewhat desperate what the protocol for look painted on her flawlessly holding items for appointment made up face, signaling that this sales was, and if the work was ever woman would most likely be a overly repetitive. It never was. hindrance and distraction from Having been at the store for my duties, but Francine really nearly half a year, and having needed a break from playing trained two employees during that teacher to the woman. It came as time, I had never had two a-like no surprise that she was not fond days as the support associate. of Wendy; Francine liked order, Always having some new task or punctuality, and commitment in customer service to execute with one’s personality as well as in the extraordinary skill. workplace. Thus far, Wendy showed none of those qualities. When we finally got back to the “Sure, I’d be happy to. It’s always nice to have an extra pair of hands back here, besides I’m sure you’ll pick it up quickly.” My eye twitched, but it was the one she couldn’t see so all was good.

box enclosure and my worktable, a large wooden structure retired from the front due to an unattractive scratch down the center from a customer handling my carefully fixed and poised bust forms. I began explaining the SPRING2015

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three-inch heels to allow the new hire to absorb the state of the stock room. “Wendy, this is Morgan, our support associate.”


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Crash Continued approved method of processing the merchandise along with how one goes about making the uniform folds and creases in the clothing prior to putting it on display. She was not grasping the concept and continually spoke of how she, a middle-aged and overweight white woman, disliked chain stores for their utilitarian, impersonal structure, and overly priced clothing. “I just love unique items that nobody else would have.” “This is just ugly.” “I have no doubt that this is both the best and worst job in the store, you avoid the customers all day and deal with horrid clothing in cramp spaces.” “This music is horrible.” It was, I could not fault her there. “I hate corporations, they remind me of my ex-husband.” “Clothing should be affordable, it’s a necessity to life and a method of expression.” “I hate uniformed appearances. It’s like lying. Creative and organic structure, thought, and presentation is essential in leading a healthy and happy life and mind.” I rolled my eyes, carefully said nothing, and listened to the mutilated holiday carols CANYONVOICES

End of Your Days by Dylan Pham (see Artwork for full image)

assaulting our unsuspecting customers on the main floor, as she continued to list all her problems with retail. We worked for a chain store. The jeans being processed retailed from ninety-nine to one hundred and twenty-five dollars depending on the color and wash type. Her life choices confused me greatly. The next time I was able to look at the clock I was five hours into my seven hour shift, and about forty minutes away from being able to give her over to the other

stock person, Christian, to go over steaming and customer service from our perspective. I had had enough human interaction outside of the store’s consistent team and more than enough work to keep me busy. “Christian’s going to be coming in soon, when he does you’ll get to work with him until your shift is up. He’s going to teach you how to properly fill, organize the holds, and anything that I may have left out or you forgot, don’t worry though. I trained him so you’ll be SPRING2015


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It was a rather awkward position to be in. My arm was caught on the worktable and my legs were in a half bend with my bottom on the floor and torso careened back. The stack of sweaters draped over my front and the heel of my boot caught under one of the boxes. I looked around the room, noticed a collapsed tower of boxes containing shirts, skirts, and coats as well as a screaming Wendy. I had no idea how I got that way. “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, Morgan… Morgan!” Wendy had left so quickly: I had yet to realize what was going on, how I got into my position, and I was unable to ask her. Minutes later I had righted myself, dusted off, and Francine came barging onto the scene. She was pale, and with an entirely new type of desperation etched onto her face presenting an odd type of shadowing on her always perfect make up. “What happened?” “Well, she was standing just like she is now, only she was holding a stack of clothes and she turned…” “Morgan, what happened,” Francine interjected, looking all kinds of concerned and put upon. Her penciled on eyebrows were doing tracing motions on her face CANYONVOICES

as Wendy continued to talk. Wendy huffed, indignantly, stopped talking and checked the clock. “I have no idea. I was holding clothes and explaining what Wendy would be doing once Christian came in and then I was on the ground.” Still confused, I could feel the pain in my hip where I may have fit the floor. The beginnings of tears clouded my eyes. “Are you diabetic? Have you taken your break yet?” “No and no.”

pocket-sized room filled largely with a sink, industrial shelving, and a counter made up of a flattened box atop two minifridges, where they were having me eat this or drink that, never listening to my protests that I felt fine. Half an hour passed fairly quickly with the company and demands of my onlookers, and once it was up Francine came back into the room.

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in great hands.” I turned the pile of sweaters worth two weeks of my wages on the counter and woke up on the floor.

“How do you feel?”

I looked around the room, noticed a collapsed tower of boxes containing shirts, skirts, and coats as well as a screaming Wendy.

“Okay then, why don’t you take it now and eat something just in case. Do you feel like you can finish your shift?”

“Definitely, I feel fine.” As soon as I had awakened I felt fine, just confused and with a sore hip. Both of the women escorted me the whole six feet to the break room, Francine clutching at my arms as though I were unstable and forced me to sit down and eat something while Wendy was lightly touching my shoulder and ‘guiding’ me. It was highly unnecessary; I just wanted to finish my work so I could go home and study for my Biology final the next day. My co-workers, all came bustling into the break area for the duration of my break. It was a

“I feel fine, I promise, I have no idea what happened but I don’t think it’ll happen again.” Wendy looked deflated as we trudged back into my cave and started processing yet again. I worked on, admittedly a little wobbly around the knees, ready for Christian to come in so I would have the opportunity to get some real work done and finally retreat into the silence of the workroom and faint humming of the store’s music mix. Now, looking back at this moment I realize how foolish this was. Some may even say it was irresponsible. However, in that moment I just wanted to finish my shift and return home to study. SPRING2015


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Crash Continued My semester was almost over. I had been drowning under a mountain of projects, paperwork, and study guides. I had convinced myself that I probably did forget to eat that afternoon and my body just caught up to me. But most importantly, I did not want to go to a hospital or deal with any type of medical issue. I had products to process and finals to pass before I could relax and sleep once again. So, I worked on. Twenty minutes later, I had somehow managed to completely tune out the commotion of Christian’s arrival and Wendy’s high pitched gushing at his appearance, coming back to reality only after he snapped his fingers in front of my face and asked what he was supposed to do with Wendy. I told him the same thing I had previously told her, and after listening to him complain and slap an un-amused smile on his face, returned to working on the now shrinking pile of goods on my reject table. As the time went by, I had completed at least two more boxes worth of processing, filled two additional rolling racks to be steamed and held three more serials. I was now six hours and twenty minutes into my shift, and finally allowed myself to relax some and sang off-key to the admittedly awful Christmas carols drifting in the open door CANYONVOICES

while Christian and Wendy dealt with the filling and customer demands on the floor. I remember I had just started to sway my hips to the music as I was processing pants and then…I woke up on the ground again with one of my coworker’s hands on my head.

I have, at a very young age, accepted that I may die at any given moment whether due to my heart or hitting my head against something. This time I had become fully horizontal, and my coworker, one of the blonde ones, was whispering sweet things meant to calm me. Everything went black and when I woke up again, Francine was hovering over my body while Christian watched from the doorway with an overly dramatic Wendy. I was confused. My head hurt. I had no idea how I had gotten to be on the ground, again. I didn’t even know why my head hurt. I cried. I was once again unable to answer what happened. I was afraid. When they took me into the break room, I found that I had become incapable of reading, the letters jumbled and mixed, giving

me a headache. Francine, and only Francine, escorted me to the break room where Christian babysat me while he ate everything the women tried to get me to eat, again, and attempted to get Wendy to quiet down. Somebody had called my father and he came to retrieve me, asking if I had hit my head and how long I was out for. None of the employees knew. This was my first encounter with my heart disease that will be with me for the rest of my life. P.O.T.S., short for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, is a heart disease in which the heart stops at random intervals congruent to a change in blood pressure. Less than ten percent of those with this disease are a-symptomatic, meaning without symptom, and develop it later on in life, as it is most present in prepubescent and pubescent teenagers. I ended up spending a grand total of about three weeks in the hospital due to this condition in a span of three months and five additional episodes. Each and every time I have an episode, I black out. There is never a warning whenever this is about to happen, one of the perks of being asymptomatic. I have, however, adjusted my lifestyle accordingly. I no longer work as a back room troll lifting heavy objects for hours alone. Nor do I lift great weights of any kind. Apparently, this SPRING2015


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I have, at a very young age, accepted that I may die at any given moment whether due to my heart or hitting my head against something. Oddly enough, this has brought a great amount of peace into my life. My heart condition has caused me to have a fairly relaxed view on life. This is mainly due to the fact that I now realize it’s short, very short, and that anything I do must be for my own wellbeing and ultimate happiness. Unfortunately, that is really the only way to live life after developing a condition like mine, because the alternative is being hyper, vigilant, and fearful of literally every hard surface or instance of solitude. The alternative is by no means desirable to me in any way, shape, or form. Now, I go to the store with a highly visible medical alert tattoo, completely mentally prepared for the very real possibility that I will pass out in the middle of the baked goods aisle. I know this is because my heart feels a shift in my blood pressure, but what causes it no one knows, and it stops in order to regulate it and rush oxygen to my head. Each time I have CANYONVOICES

zero warning or knowledge of why I end up on the ground. Each time my public speaking skills improve: as I detail to store managers, my neighbors, the people at my gym, employers, and my professors that I am fine. That no, I do not want you to call an ambulance. This is just a part

of my life that begun in December of my nineteenth year. It just gets a little iffy when I have to ask if I hit my head. ■■■ For more information on author Morgan Billings, please visit our Contributors Page.

Image: Pixabay.com

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becomes dangerous very quickly when you could black out at any moment. I do not eat as healthily or go to the gym as often in efforts to raise my heart rate to prevent attacks.


“A Prose Writer at a Poetry Reading” “Kitchens” Karen Burton received her Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Lindenwood University. Currently, she teaches creative writing and religious studies while pursuing her quest for the quirky, the funny, and the unusual.

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Tressa Rini

Melissa Blankenship

Morgan Billings

Tressa Rini is a 24-yearold event designer who often finds herself unable to sleep. Sometimes this trend will last for days at a time. It is in these periods of sleeplessness that she sits at her desk in her nearly maniacal insomnious state and furiously writes in her journal. She decided to share what can only be attributed to the absent mindedness that comes with sleep deprivation. She then submitted her personal and nonsensical journal entries to be published, and finally fell asleep. Upon awakening, she reread her piece, realized what she had done, and was thoroughly embarrassed. Secretly hoping nothing would come of this, and still mortified, she deemed it best that she and her journal took a break from one another.

Melissa Blankenship graduated with an MFA from Murray State University. When not engaged in teaching rhetoric and composition, literature studies, or creative writing at Indiana University East, she writes about her small corner of this vast world.

Morgan Billings is an amateur author and professional student currently pursuing consecutive degrees in English and secondary education at Arizona State University. Her work focuses on the feeling of emotion and human interaction within situations of grave importance, particularly those dealing with loss and grief through mediums of both fiction and nonfiction. Billings, a mixed race Hispanic author, states that her primary influences derive from life experiences in family, societal, and cultural structures as well as her background in visual art and athletics.

“Balcony”

“Casting the Net”

“Crash”

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Karen Burton


Visit our ARTWORK section to see the full image of these and other works of art and beauty

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M A G A Z I N E

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SCRIPTS Moon Over Gehry by Joe Puglisi (see Artwork for full image)


Exhibited Andre N. Jones Home Will Cordeiro Two Eugenie Carabastos Rebecca Alan Ramonaistis Merry Go Around Chris Hall American Dreamer James E. Garcia


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Exhibited By Andre N. Jones

Characters: CLARA BLACK:

STEVIE BLACK:

AVERY MOORE:

ACT Note: The Reporters that are mentioned are heard and not seen should be played as . The off stage doctors and the woman are to be played by the (Lights up inside an art studio. The floor is a bare floor. There are two painter's drop cloths sprawled out the floor. In the middle of which is a log of wood miscellaneous materials. There is a coat hanger, a pipe, orange safety netting, other pieces of wood of lengths and sizes, several different colors and textures fabric and a couple rolls of assorted gauge wire. It evening and cold. CLARA stands silent, staring at floor. Beside CLARA, stage left, is a table with assorted on it. She picks up a propane torch and a metal starter. holds them and cocks her head to the side. CLARA breathes few heavy breaths through her mouth quickly in and then lights the torch. She looks at the blue flame smiles. She waves the torch around as if she is painting midair. Then her face becomes very serious. approaches the log with a caution that appears like she hunting. She tosses the starter to the floor. She the log and lowers her arm toward it. CLARA repeats motion a few times. She walks along the log repeating motion. She turns the knob on the torch and watches flame go out. She

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carefully places the torch back on table. CLARA walks back over to the log and claws at bark in a very primal fashion until the wood is totally CLARA backs up and begins to laugh. She cocks her head the side and then picks up the orange netting and wraps horizontally from top to bottom around the bare CLARA picks up some wire wraps it around the log fastens one end of the netting to one edge of the log does the same on the other side. She nods her head then stands the log up. She backs up and stares at the for a long beat. She picks up the metal pipe and taps it her hand. Lights dim. A single light comes up right of center. CLARA walks into the light and sits . She speaks while she meditates. Her speech straightforward, absent of emotional passion but the themselves are passionate. Once in a while she involuntary physical : Ohmmmmm. Ohmmmmm. Find beauty inside wood. Transfer beauty... me wood. Commune. Yes commune. Hands express what mind Imagination more important than knowledge. Explore every imperfection is perfection. Your affection touches other hearts. The heart. heart is all that matters. Molding hands. Mending ointment from tears healing, tickling fingertips. Smooth away rough places. All come forth polished and purified– beautified. Art out of blues. No one feels Healing...

ACT (In black we hear voices from off stage singing harmonies. A medley of classic tunes: Honey Money Honey, Oh What a Night, Searchin', Vaya Con Dios and One Kiss Led to Another. Once voices finish we hear painful cries of a woman and a voice trying to calm WOMAN: Ahhhhhh! STEVIE: Breathe. WOMAN: It hurts! I know it hurts baby but look at me. Look at me. I love you. You're gonna it. Doctor said he'll be here any minute. All you can do is breathe like they taught until he gets here.

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Exhibited Continued : Yeah, okay. Pwiiiiifffffwuh. Pwiiiiiffffffffffwuh. Pwii- Oh. Stevie tell the doctor to hurry up! I can't(STEVIE tries to sing to : In the still of the night. I held you... Held you tight. 'Cause I love... so. Promise I'll never... Let you go. In the still of

Love

Stevie, stop singing! Hih huh hih huh hih- Get this baby outta me! hih huh STEVIE: Dr. Ward's gonna Damn Dr. Ward! I'm havin’ this baby

Hold on... Okay? Just hold (Lights up. We see a living room. A man, BLACK, bolts down the steps and across the room to closet. He pulls out several towels. He crosses off We hear a It's coming Stevie! I feel like I gotta (STEVIE bolts back into the living room carrying the water that he spills partially as disappears up the

and a full basin of

STEVIE: I'm WOMAN: STEVIE: I'm here WOMAN: STEVIE: Yeah WOMAN: I don't feel so

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: You're gonna be alright. You're gonna be fine! Alright, now breathe and Pwiiiiiiifffffffffffffffffffffffffwuh! Hih huh hih huh hih.

(We hear a knock on the Good. Okay relax now before the next contraction. I'll be right (STEVIE comes halfway down the Stevieeeeeeeee! I'm gonna (We hear a splash and then silence. STEVIE rushes back the stairs. Beat. Moore knocks on the door. Beat. hear water stirring as if someone is swishing in a Moore knocks. We hear a loud : You had the baby. It's a girl! We got us a baby girl Grace! Grace? (Beat. STEVIE comes down the steps holding a wrapped in a towel. The baby is uncharacteristically STEVIE’S clothes are splashed with water and blood. is sullen, sad and streamed with tears. Moore on the door. He wipes his face with his hand and the baby on his shoulder and looks for a place to put baby down. He puts the baby down on a chair. He away from the baby with his hands in front of him. knocks. He gets a couple of pillows from the sofa arranges them around the baby and then crosses offstage left. We hear a door open. STEVIE speaks STEVIE: I'm sorry it took me so long. No. No no no no no. Everythin's fine. She had baby and she's restin’ now... They're both resting. No, that's alright.... Oh we take care of the vitals in a couple of days... If you don't mind. Yeah, thanks rushin’ over (We hear the door shut. Beat. STEVIE re-enters the massaging his own shoulders. He looks upward exhales, sputtering his lips. He goes over to the chair he left the baby and picks it up. Holding it directly in of himself he

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Exhibited Continued STEVIE: You a quiet little one. Ain't cried at all. I feel like cryin’ though. Your gone. She gave everything she had to get you here. I was gonna take care of of you... I guess God like to play cruel jokes. (He begins to sing to STEVIE: Oh yes. I'm the great pretender. Pretending that I'm doing well. My need is I pretend too much. I'm... Lonely... And no one... Can (He starts to break down. STEVIE: Feel like my inside's about to bust wide open- like I swallowed a pipin’ hot and it's burnin’ away at my (He suddenly realizes STEVIE: But I can't cry. ‘Cause you here. Be dependin’ on me to take care of you… what I gotta do. Gonna be hard without your mama... Look at them eyes. as the sky and deep and dark as night. It's like you understandin’ what I'm Your mama was like that. Understood me inside out. Whenever I was in a place she knew how to brighten it up. Life is already lonely without (His eyes well up with tears. The baby stirs. STEVIE

off his grief for the

STEVIE: We didn't even decide on a name for

STEVIE: Hmm. Clara. I'll name you Clara. Yeah, Clara... Mighty fine name. You see (He places the baby down between the pillows again and pulls out an old painting. It's portrait of his

rushes over to the closet

STEVIE: See that. That's your mama. Her name was Grace. Gave me a new (The baby STEVIE: What's that? Oh I painted

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(He looks away from the STEVIE: Used to paint a lotta stuff. Was slated to go to a Academy of Fine Art. Oh I qualified for a scholarship and everythin’. Academic records were great everythin’... But when they interviewed (STEVIE remembers. We hear an offstage have

: You see Stevie, you're a very talented boy but I don't know if you requisite skills to finish the program

STEVIE: What does that : Your talent is apparent but you lack the fundamental skill we're used to and, well, you don't measure up to the level we expect for someone going into program of this Now wait a minute, this ain't even a We take only the brightest most talented But last week you : Your work was amazing... And it is... with black Black subjects, white subjects, what's the : The difference is the artists who graduate from Are white? What about Henry O' VOICE: He was You mean his paintings look like a white VOICE: Tanner showed amazing Image: Pixabay.com

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Exhibited Continued : Yeah, so did I... ‘Till you saw me. But then again he was light enough to pass white. Maybe I don't have the complexion for the VOICE: Look man, you said what you had to say. Don't try to butter me VOICE: I'm afraid we have to say Figures. Y'all afraid to educate You don't need to raise your : Why? You denyin’ me just cause I'm black and I'm supposed to be I'm gonna have to ask you to (STEVIE goes to the closet and throws the painting and kicks it as he

He slams the closet door

: Oh I'll leave alright. I'ma leave this place in a (He throws his arms around wildly as if he is sounds of things

things around. We hear the

(After a few moments the exertion of the act tires him The baby coos and he stops and seats himself on the next to the chair where the baby is. He breathes hard he begins to : Spent the night in jail. The next day they let me out. Had to apologize. Got cause they let me work for a year at the Academy to pay for all the damages. peak in the classes and try to use the techniques they were teachin’ at (We hear an airplane and bullets STEVIE: Next thing I knew, I was off to Germany in the war. It was horrible, but I drawin’ every day. Portraits. Battles. Wounded soldiers. Couldn't wait to home from

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(He shakes his head and looks at her. Then looks at holds her in his arms and

hands. He picks her up and

STEVIE: Got back here. Met your mama. We were a pair. She used to ask me to drawin’s and paintin’s all the time. She used to say God had blessed my hands paint but I couldn't find no work doin’ that. White guy I served in the army remembered me doin’ sketches durin’ the war. Said his sister worked at that Academy. I ain't want to go down there. Got back here. Met your mama. Figured they'd automatically say no me– you know, given past We were a pair. She used to circumstances. But your mama ask me to do drawin’s and said "Stevie." Like she said "Stevie, you paid for what you paintin’s all the time. She used done and if God don't hold no to say God had blessed my woe unto the man who does." She used to say stuff hands to paint but I couldn't find like that. Realigns no work doin’ that. backbone when your woman stands behind you. Got down there and found they had an openin’ on the custodial staff. Used to have your mama meet me after hours and give her tours of the facility. Started out as a part time job. workin’ as a janitor at the Academy ever since. Never did get back to though. Been workin’ there the last 11 years and never had one piece of (He looks down at the baby and realizes she is asleep. and heads up the

gets up carrying the baby

STEVIE: Better get you to sleep and get things cleaned up around here. The dead bury

ACT (Stage right we see STEVIE mopping a floor. He sings as works. The song he sings is "Ball of Confusion" by Temptations. His voice is underscored by the bass line the song and a voice over montage of news stories from 60’s, including The Bay of Pigs, Kennedy's lunch counter sit ins, Malcolm X's assassination, the College boycott report, the King assassination coverage the Philadelphia Plan labor union boycott Intermittently we hear what was said to STEVIE at doctor visits for

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Exhibited Continued Note: The news reports are recorded and should be played to coincide with musical commentary. However the doctor's voices should be live offstage voices and back and forth from male to female. Voice-overs are indicated as V.O. Offstage voices VOICE and VOICE 2. VOICE 2 should be : People movin’ out. People movin’ in. Why? Because of the color of their Run. Run. Run but you sure can't

An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. Vote for me and I'll set you free! Rap on brutha. Rap on.

President John F. Kennedy is utterly embarrassed by the failed CIA Clara will always have

problems V.O.: President Kennedy has been : An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. Vote for me and I'll set you free! Rap brutha. Rap VOICE

She has a brain We think it's a form of

The Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, SNCC, has stirred the pot freedom and : Well, the only one talkin’ about love thy brother is the : You'll always be taking care of Malcolm X, the much-maligned black activist and radical Muslim leader, riddled in a hail of And it seems nobody's interested in learnin’ but the VOICE

Well Mr. Black, she won't be able to DO Studies indicate that

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VOICE

That's what this disease is

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Affects the individual's ability to express VOICE

We believe that limits what they

Girard College has come under : Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration, aggravation, obligation to our Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. found A third grade understanding is President Nixon approved the Philadelphia plan to force the traditionally trade unions to allow minorities to bid on city It's just a ball of confusion. That's what the world is VOICE 2: Oh no, she's not heads in

: The sale of pills is at an all time high. Young folks walk with their sky. The cities' aflame in the summertime. And the band played

(CLARA, now age thirteen, trips on to the stage as a voice over of laughing

downstage left and falls down

V.O.: Ha ha ha ha! Ah ha ha ha ha (Her book bag flies open and books scatter struggles to get to her feet. She breathes through her mouth. A soda can flies past her head. On knees, CLARA whispers a prayer. Her expression is almost robotic as she repeats the prayer. Her voice out almost God,

: Jesus, God, Lord, forgive me. Jesus, God, Lord, forgive me. Jesus, forgive (The laughing increases in volume and intensity.

to the

belts out the next

: Evolution, revolution, gun control, sound of soul-shooting rockets kids growing up too soon, politicians say, "More taxes will solve And the band played (CLARA’S prayer

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Exhibited Continued God,

Jesus, God, Lord, forgive me. Jesus, God, Lord, forgive me! Jesus, forgive (We hear AVERY’S voice from off stage. He is a young

age

AVERY: Stop it! Stop it! Stop (Bass line out. Laughing children AVERY: Leave her (AVERY enters. He turns and speaks toward stage This is the kind of stuff that gives Solsberger a bad (CLARA is now rocking back and forth on her knees. stare is still blank but she is now near screaming repeating only the last part of the prayer. AVERY her cautiously. AVERY takes one more look over FORGIVE ME! FORGIVE ME!! FORGIVE AVERY: They're FORGIVE ME!!! FORGIVE ME!!!

AVERY: Did you hear (CLARA’S voice quiets but she doesn't stop and doesn't look CLARA: Jesus, God, : You can me.

: -Forgive me. Jesus, God, Lord, forgive me. Jesus, God, Lord, forgive God, Lord, forgive You didn't do nothin’ Jesus, God, Lord, forgive me. Forgive me. Forgive...

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(AVERY cautiously reaches for her shoulder. He touches

very

They're gone. They can't harm you (CLARA stops speaking. She continues to rock back Her expression doesn't change. AVERY begins to up her books. He stops and looks at the front of one Then places them inside the bag as he is AVERY: Clara Black... Oh Clara, you alright? Clara, you got to be careful. These don't care bout nothin’. They can't see you (He tries to hand her the bag full of books, but she take it. He then places the bag next to her. He makes no one is around them. He speaks the next line over shoulder. AVERY: They can't see you the second comin’ of Mary. You as special as she (CLARA’S eyes widen and she smiles and stops rocking. before he turns

smile diminishes slowly

AVERY: Now let's get you up on your (He helps her up. She vocalizes a kind of chuckle. special light comes on, focused on AVERY. CLARA responds to light. AVERY does AVERY: My name's Avery- Avery Moore. I live right around the corner (He offers her his hand and she shakes it CLARA: Hi... (She won't let his hand go. He has to work to get his I'm glad you weren't hurt. I'll see you (He exits stage right. She stares straight ahead and

(CLARA smiles wide.

For more information on author Andre N. Jones, please visit our Contributors Page at the end of this section.

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Home By Will Cordeiro

Characters:

Setting:

MARGEEN: (In doorway.) Hi, Dad. (Enters. She holds out her arms for a hug, which is not reciprocated.) HAROLD: (Steps back.) ––Dad? Since when d’ja start calling me “Dad,” Margeen? (Under breath.) “Dad”–hufm. MARGEEN: (Placating.) It’s nice to see you. HAROLD: My ass. MARGEEN: C’mon. Really––? HAROLD: Ok, fine. “Nice to see you.” Why don’tcha take a seat, hm? (They both do.) ––You want a coke? MARGEEN: No–– (Harold gets up anyway.) No thanks–– Please—sit down. HAROLD: Look, it’s not a problem. (Under breath.) Lord knows I got enough problems. MARGEEN: Please, don’t. (Harold exits.) ––I understand this—um, situation must be stressful for you right now. HAROLD: (From off.) Margeen, let’s stop kidding ourselves. I know why you’re here. MARGEEN: I’m here to help, Dad. We’ve had our differences, sure, but I thought you might be glad to see me. I mean, Mom—from what I’ve heard,

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Mom needs someone to care for her since— HAROLD: (Harold re-enters with a coke.)What d’ja think I’ve been doing for these past, wussit been: nine, ten years?! MARGEEN: Look. I appreciate everything you’ve done. (She looks down at her coke; begrudgingly takes a sip.) Really, I do. HAROLD: Where’ve you been all that time? Huh? We never heard a word from you; didn’t even know where you lived––Worried your mother sick. MARGEEN: I moved around a lot, yeah. It was hard to always, send you a line. I was—I was busy. HAROLD: For ten years? MARGEEN: When I used to call, remember? You’d never let me talk to mom. So I stopped––trying as often. HAROLD: You upset her, Margeen. Every time she’d get off the phone with you, she’d break down and go into one of her states, one of her catatonic— MARGEEN: I don’t call and she’s worried sick. But then I do call—and she’s worried sick. How’s that my fault?

Where’ve you been all that time? Huh? We never heard a word from you; didn’t even know where you lived––Worried your mother sick.

HAROLD: Cause the only time you’d call was to ask for money. MARGEEN: Mom would offer–– She wanted me to succeed. What was I supposed to do? I needed the— HAROLD: You needed to grow up. MARGEEN: Grow up!? I left at sixteen. “Your rules under your roof.” —Fine! I’d rather live on my own. HAROLD: But that didn’t keep you from sponging off— MARGEEN: What mom gave me was hers. She’s an adult, dad–– I’m an adult, in case you haven’t realized yet.

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Home Continued HAROLD: You can’t depend on your mother any more. MARGEEN: Well––I certainly can’t depend on you. HAROLD: Depend on yourself, Margeen–– YOUR SELF!! MARGEEN: Mom just helped me to get started. My hair salon was doing really well. Like, we had some high-end clientele: the lady on channel 5, morning news. I’d almost made back my whole investment when— HAROLD: —Your mother’s whole investment— MARGEEN: —when I found out that Robbie— HAROLD: —S’ that boyfriend of yours? (Under breath.) That no-good shit— MARGEEN: Yeah, my boyfriend. At the time. He’d used some of the money I’d earmarked for the salon— HAROLD: Stealing, Margeen. He was stealing from you! MARGEEN: We had a joint account, ok? Technically it was his money, too. We just had some bills due at the same time—and there was a miscommunication—and— HAROLD: Which is why your mother should’ve never given you a dime. Image: Pixabay.com

MARGEEN: That was her decision, Harold.

HAROLD: The only person who earned his keep—who didn’t depend on some goddamn handout around here—that would be me. MARGEEN: Look, mom’s lawyer called me. He told me I’d been invested with durable power of attorney, before mom, y’know, lost her full mental capacity. He advised me to visit, to check out the situation myself, since I had to be the one to sign the papers. If, um, if it was best for mom to go in a home. Which, the

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lawyer said, the doctors recommended, given the—the severity of her recent problems. HAROLD: Your mother has a very delicate constitution, you know that–– MARGEEN: Mom had a fall, the lawyer told me. She bent down in her garden, and you couldn’t help her up–– You dropped her on the patio, Harold. You broke her hip. HAROLD: I slipped, ok? I slipped! I’ve looked after her for years. YEARS, Margeen. And one time—one time— MARGEEN: —Mom needs someone to take care of her now. Someone— HAROLD: Your mother doesn’t want to go in a home. MARGEEN: I know she probably thinks it’s—it’s— HAROLD: It’s a stink-hole of death, Margeen. People slowly rotting away, gumming bland food. MARGEEN: No. There are activities and exercise classes and socials and dances—they have piano lessons and sing-alongs. A pool. I’ve looked into it; I’ve read the brochures. She’d make friends and—she’d have people to talk to. And people who could care for her:––professionals. HAROLD: Professionals, hufn. MARGEEN: See—look here, I’ve brought one of their brochures. This one’s the best. (Reading it.) “Sunny View Nursing Home has a breathtaking array of activities appropriate for every advanced lifestyle—” HAROLD: —I don’t fucking care, Margeen. Your mother’s not going in any— MARGEEN: —Just look at it. For chrissakes! Harold—look. (She rises, thrusting it at him; spills the coke.) MARGEEN: (Continued) LOOK!! HAROLD: (He pushes her forcefully back down.) Look, you say? Why don’t you look?! See what you just did!

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Home Continued MARGEEN: I—I’ll clean it up. (MARGEEN sits. Harold exits.) Sorry, ok? I’m sorry––? HAROLD: (From off.) I’m used to cleaning up after other people’s messes. Might say I’m pretty good at it. MARGEEN: I know you have your stupid stubborn pride: you think you can do everything by yourself. HAROLD: (Enters, begins scrubbing.) Your mother won’t be going in any home. That’s it. MARGEEN: That decision isn’t yours. Mom picked me to decide. You’re older than her: she figured you might––start losing some of your mind, too. You understand—I’ve been invested with the power of attorney. HAROLD: Missy, you understand something for once. I’ve dedicated my whole life to that woman. I feed her, I clean her, I wipe the shit from her bottom MARGEEN Every. Single. Day. Because I love her–– At least, I love the person she was. You can’t come bouncing in here under my roof with your little paisleycolored brochure and bureaucratic memo and take her away to that, that death camp. This is her home. This is where she belongs. This is where she’s going to stay. MARGEEN: You’re thinking of yourself. —YOU need mom here. Taking care of her gives you a purpose. HAROLD: And another thing, Margeen. If your mother goes in a facility— count out any fat chance you have of weaseling more money from her. (Beat.) MARGEEN: Wha-what do you mean? HAROLD: Who d’ya think writes her checks? MARGEEN: ––You’re saying––? HAROLD: A nursing home ’ld tie up all her funds. Once you start involving the, uh, “professionals.” Then, y’know, lawyers ’ld swoop in—it’d be all socked away in payment plans and trusts. MARGEEN: (Quietly.) Huhn… But. But, if she stays here, then——?

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HAROLD: It’s–– yes––it’s highly likely. You could find she’s become quite generous again. MARGEEN: Oh–– Well, I—I— HAROLD: Just something to consider, Margeen. Since we both have the best interest of your mother at heart. MARGEEN: This. This isn’t an easy decision. She’s, she’s––my mother. HAROLD: Right. I forgot. You came here to look at the situation. Take in the evidence. Weigh it in the balance. MARGEEN: I, I’d been advised to come here to, yeah, to evaluate the situation for myself. I mean, I haven’t even seen mom yet. (Nervous I remember how you’d try to placate me giggle.) I guess, uh, I when you were dating mom: giving me shouldn’t have, um, jumped to too many trinkets, candy, soda pop. Things I never conclusions. HAROLD: Margeen. I know you’ve gotten back together with Robbie.

wanted. Trying to make me like you.

MARGEEN: No. What?—How?!?—No. What’s that gotta do with— HAROLD: Caller I.D–– Yup, I’m not so old and senile I can’t figure these things out. I can use Google, Facebook. Tracked down the person who’s been calling me and asking to speak to Mrs. Olson. —Or just hanging up, more often–– I’m not half the geezer you mistook me for, am I? MARGEEN: You—traced the call?? HAROLD: Now, I thought, why’d Robbie call my house asking for Mrs. Olson in a fake stuffy voice? Didn’t take long before it dawned on me. You must’ve hitched up with him again. And you’ve been using him—or he’s been using you—to get your mother on the phone. You hoped to ask her for another loan. What’s the tidy sum you’re after this time? —But, pft! This is just some old kook’s––speculation. MARGEEN: Robbie called so––so I could––because you blocked me from any contact with my own mother!

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Home Continued HAROLD: So you just wanted to chitchat, to catch up? ––Yeah? MARGEEN: You’re jealous! —You’re still jealous!! I remember how you’d try to placate me when you were dating mom: giving me trinkets, candy, soda pop. Things I never wanted. Trying to make me like you. HAROLD: I did want you to like me, Margeen. MARGEEN: Then let me talk to her, Harold. Mom needs my help. HAROLD: Not at this point she doesn’t. MARGEEN: Well––I guess we’re done catching up. HAROLD: Why don’t you go in and see your mother? Like you said, that’s what you came here for. It’s only fair. (MARGEEN hesitates. Harold nods gently for her to go. MARGEEN slowly exits.We hear footsteps briefly. A beat of silence.) MARGEEN: (Off.) Mom? —Mom, wake up–– Mom!! (Pause.) —MOM!!! (A shrill cry—followed by whimpering, which is mixed with incoherent speech. Then silence. MARGEEN walks back; enters. A beat: they stare at each other.) HAROLD: It was her time. MARGEEN: You—— (Pause. Quietly.) ––Why? HAROLD: I loved her, Margeen. I couldn’t bear to see her suffer so much. She never wanted to go in a home. That was the last thing she made me promise her before, before the disease took her mind. MARGEEN —And—and you’d just —YOU couldn’t suffer. You had no right!! You did this just so you’d get your way. You knew that she needed more care; she needed a home. You knew I was coming to—!! HAROLD Stop. Stop it! (Pause.) You’re the main beneficiary of her estate, Margeen. I did this for all of us. MARGEEN (Beat. Quietly.) ––Dad, Blackout. ■■■ For more information on author Will Cordeiro, please visit our Contributors Page at the end of this section.

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Two By Eugenie Carabastos

Characters:

Setting:

(BENJAMIN lies on the floor, eyes closed.) (BERNADETTE sidles over to him. She checks to see if he’s asleep.) (BENJAMIN snores.) (BERNADETTE celebrates silently, then tiptoes to her side of the box. She takes in a deep breath, places her hands on her head, and proceeds to try and rip it off, grunting along the way. It doesn’t work. She tries another position, grunts—no luck. She tries a third position, grunts, still nothing.) (BENJAMIN opens his eyes.) BENJAMIN: Not again. (He rushes over to her.) BENJAMIN: Stop! You don’t want Madeleine to find you like that. BERNADETTE: I don’t care. BENJAMIN: Don’t say that. BERNADETTE: I don’t care. I’m sick of being in this box. BENJAMIN: We’ve lived in a box before. BERNADETTE: That wasn’t like this. That box was a home. It had sturdy cardboard walls, and even a plastic window. We could look out onto the toy

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Two Continued store at all of the children. We may not have existed in the world, but at least we could observe it. This box is nothing like that. It’s musty, old, the walls are flimsy and moldy. It’s dark. There’s no plastic window. We don’t exist in the world anymore, and we can’t even observe it. BENJAMIN: It’s only temporary. BERNADETTE: We don’t matter. BENJAMIN: You’re just upset because you think we’re missing tea parties. BERNADETTE: Tea parties are important. They are the most important thing in the entire universe. BENJAMIN: No, they aren’t.

Impossible. No car engine. No vibrations. No smell of gas. Just stillness. Stillness and heat and darkness.

BERNADETTE: What’s more important than a child’s tea party? BENJAMIN: Comforting them? Making them feel better when they’re sad or lonely? BERNADETTE: Okay, fine, but tea parties are the second most important thing in the entire universe. And we don’t get to go to them anymore, or do any of those other important things.

BENJAMIN: Still, we can’t have Madeleine open up the box to see you with your head ripped off. Think about what that would do to her. It’s freaky. That’s something that could mess up a child for her whole life. BERNADETTE: She isn’t going to find out. BENJAMIN: Yes, she will. BERNADETTE: No she won’t, because she’s never going to open the box. BENJAMIN: Yes, she is. BERNADETTE: We’re in the attic! BENJAMIN: What?

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BERNADETTE: I’ve deduced it. BENJAMIN: What do you mean you’ve deduced it? BERNADETTE: If we were under the bed, we would hear the pitter- patter of her feet or the noise of the vacuum cleaner once a week. BENJAMIN: Maybe they’re moving and we’ve been packed up. BERNADETTE: Impossible. No car engine. No vibrations. No smell of gas. Just stillness. Stillness and heat and darkness. We’re in an attic, and we’ve been in here for ages. BENJAMIN: It may have only been one night. BERNADETTE: Or weeks. BENJAMIN: Or just a few hours. BERNADETTE: Months. BENJAMIN: A few minutes, even. BERNADETTE: Years. BENJAMIN: For all we know it could have been a few seconds. BERNADETTE: You’re not thinking clearly. BENJAMIN: It can’t have been longer than a few months. BERNADETTE: Why? BENJAMIN: Because we haven’t had her birthday tea party since we’ve been in the box. BERNADETTE: Well, maybe that’s because we’re not invited. BENJAMIN: We’re always invited. BERNADETTE: Maybe she’s outgrown them. BENJAMIN: She’s eight. BERNADETTE: She was eight. She could twelve by now, or fifteen, or thirtynine.

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Two Continued BENJAMIN: Stop. BERNADETTE: Or forty, or one hundred forty, or— BENJAMIN: —I said stop! You’re scaring me. BERNADETTE: It is scary. That’s why I want to rip off my head. BENJAMIN: What is that going to do? BERNADETTE: Maybe it will end it all. BENJAMIN: I’ll sew you up. BERNADETTE: You don’t know how. BENJAMIN: I’d figure it out. BERNADETTE: Well, I don’t want you to. BENJAMIN: Well I don’t want you to…

If I were in my own box, I could rip off my head and not feel bad about it.

BERNADETTE: …To? BENJAMIN: Go. (BERNADETTE lets this settle in.) BERNADETTE: Oh. BENJAMIN: What? Is that so surprising? BERNADETTE: It’s just… we never really got along that well. BENJAMIN: We’ve been together since manufacturing. BERNADETTE: I don’t think that really matters. BENJAMIN: Of course it matters. We’re a duo: Benjamin and Bernadette. That’s why we’re in this box together. BERNADETTE: But we’re so different. BENJAMIN: That’s good. Duos should balance each other out. I’m optimistic;

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you’re pessimistic. I’m calm; you’re dramatic. I love you and you don’t love me. See? Balance. But we should be thankful. Some toys don’t even get paired. BERNADETTE: Where do you think the other toys are? BENJAMIN: Maybe in their own individual boxes. Or maybe in big box all together, smushed on top of each other. BERNADETTE: If I were in my own box, I could rip off my head and not feel bad about it. (BENJAMIN gathers himself.) BENJAMIN: Let’s play a game. BERNADETTE: No. BENJAMIN: Come on. I’ve thought of a new one. BERNADETTE: Fine. What is it? BENJAMIN: You think of a number and I’ll guess it. BERNADETTE: Okay. (She closes her eyes.) BERNADETTE: I’m thinking. BENJAMIN: 3901. (BERNADETTE opens her eyes, shocked.) (BENJAMIN holds back a proud smile.) BENJAMIN: Okay, you do me now. (BENJAMIN closes his eyes.) BERNADETTE: Okay, let me think… 46? (BENJAMIN opens his eyes.) BENJAMIN: 46? Why 46? BERNADETTE: Was I right?

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Two Continued BENJAMIN: No. Okay, let’s do you again. BERNADETTE: Okay. (BERNADETTE closes her eyes.) BERNADETTE: I’m thinking of a num— BENJAMIN: -- 65. (BERNADETTE opens her eyes.) BERNADETTE: How— BENJAMIN: —I can just sense it. BERNADETTE: But how? BENJAMIN: I don’t know. BERNADETTE: Let me try and guess yours again. BENJAMIN: Okay, go. (BENJAMIN closes his eyes.) BERNADETTE: 558. (BENJAMIN opens his eyes.) BENJAMIN: No. (BERNADETTE’s face drops.) BENJAMIN: Why don’t we just try it between one and ten? BERNADETTE: I don’t know. I’m bad at this game. BENJAMIN: Come on; you’ll get it this time. (BENJAMIN closes his eyes.) BENJAMIN: I’m thinking of a number between one and ten.

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BERNADETTE: 7? (BENJAMIN opens his eyes.) (He lies.) BENJAMIN: That’s right! That’s the number! BERNADETTE: It is? BENJAMIN: I knew you’d get it. Wasn’t that fun? BERNADETTE: It was all right. I prefer cards. BENJAMIN: We don’t have cards. BERNADETTE: I know. I’m just saying I prefer them. BENJAMIN: You always prefer things that aren’t here. BERNADETTE: That’s because there is nothing here. (BENJAMIN turns away from her.) BERNADETTE: What? BENJAMIN: Nothing. (BENJAMIN walks to a corner of the box.) BERNADETTE: Are you going to sulk now? You’re so sensitive. BENJAMIN: I’m tired. BERNADETTE: You just woke up. BENJAMIN: I’m worn out. BERNADETTE: If you go to sleep, I’m going to rip off my head. BENJAMIN: That’s your problem. BERNADETTE: I swear I’ll do it! BENJAMIN: It’s none of my business.

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Two Continued BERNADETTE: You’ll have to see Madeleine’s face all upset when she finds me. BENJAMIN: You don’t even think she’s coming! BERNADETTE: As soon as you close your eyes, I’m going to do it. (BENJAMIN stares at her for a moment, then shuts his eyes.) BERNADETTE: Fine! (BERNADETTE stomps over to her side of the box. She pretends like she’s trying to rip off her head, making all of the appropriate, over-the-top noises. Eventually, the sound becomes unbearable and BENJAMIN opens his eyes.) BENJAMIN: All right, stop! (BERNADETTE smiles, satisfied.) BERNADETTE: I honestly don’t understand why you’re so tired all of the time. It’s not like we do anything anymore. It’s not like on weekends or holidays where we’d have at least one tea party a day. BENJAMIN: It’s tiring seeing the world like I do. (BERNADETTE rolls her eyes.) BENJAMIN: What? BERNADETTE: It’s just… Everything you think is so easy. BENJAMIN: Easy? BERNADETTE: It’s just so easy. You think everything will be fine in the end, because we’re dolls and bad things don’t happen to dolls. That doesn’t sound very tiring to me. BENJAMIN: It’s tiring to hear you scream and cry and throw your body against the wall. It’s tiring to listen to the sound of your seams stretch and your threads snap as you attempt to rip off your head. It’s tiring to try and drown out all of the mean things you say to me.

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And I know bad things happen to dolls. They happen all of the time. We lose our buttons. We get dirty. Kids grow up. They replace us. We become reminders of the childhoods they wish they could forget. If we’re lucky, we turn into heirlooms and get to stay with our family forever, but that doesn’t happen to most of us. There’s an end to every doll’s existence and it’s not pretty. We rot or get tossed in the trash. And the worst thing about it is, we could live forever, if they wanted us to. They could take care of us, mend us, replace our broken buttons, fill us with new fluffy stuffing, wash us gently in the sink, but they don’t. Because at a certain point, we don’t mean anything to them anymore. But I don’t think that this is that point, Bernadette. You’re right, though, I do think everything will be fine in the end, but it’s not because I’m naïve and blind to the realities of our situation. I think everything will be fine in the end because we’re us. I’ve listened to every noise you’ve ever made. I’ve listened to the sound of your hair bounce up and down on your shoulders when we would play hopscotch with Madeleine.

There’s an end to every doll’s existence and it’s not pretty. We rot or get tossed in the trash. And the worst thing about it is, we could live forever, if they wanted us to.

(BERNADETTE feels her lose, tangled hair.) BERNADETTE: Back when I still had curls. BENJAMIN: And the way your buttons clacked against each other. BERNADETTE: A mistake in manufacturing, but Madeleine’s mother sewed them on tighter, and they’ve fit well ever since. BENJAMIN: And how you would spend your days making lists about what you loved about Madeleine. #1: Her smell. BERNADETTE: That’s when she was a baby. That’s when we lived in the crib.

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Two Continued BENJAMIN: #2: Her whimper. #3: The way she would grab your hair. BERNADETTE: Even though it hurt. BENJAMIN: #4521: How she would grab our hands and swing us around. BERNADETTE: Flying lessons. BENJAMIN: Right. And #5923: She’s the best tea party host in the entire universe. BERNADETTE: She always knew how to make everyone feel included. She had a way of making every toy feel special. One time, after the tea party had ended and she was putting away all of the toys, she picked me up, held me close to her chest and said, “Bernadette, you are my absolute favorite doll.” Because Then she twirled me around the room, and I soared we’re a pair. through the sky. It was the best moment of my entire That’s how I know life.

I made a good impression.

What? BENJAMIN: It’s nothing. BERNADETTE: No, tell me.

BENJAMIN: She told me I was her favorite once, too. BERNADETTE: Eight year olds are so fickle. BENJAMIN: I thought she was twelve now… or was it fifteen? Or thirty-nine? BERNADETTE: Fine, humans are fickle. BENJAMIN: They aren’t like dolls. BERNADETTE: Well, not like you, at least. BENJAMIN: Do you remember any noise I’ve ever made? BERNADETTE: Sure.

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BENJAMIN: Like what? BERNADETTE: You said you loved me. BENJAMIN: That doesn’t count. BERNADETTE: Well I remember it. BENJAMIN: Why? BERNADETTE: It made an impression on me. BENJAMIN: Oh. BERNADETTE: What? BENJAMIN: That’s good. BERNADETTE: Not necessarily. There are bad impressions. BENJAMIN: But that wasn’t a bad impression. BERNADETTE: How do you know? BENJAMIN: I can tell when you’re lying. BERNADETTE: No, you can’t. BENJAMIN: Yes I can. I can tell when you’re lying and when you’re embarrassed and when you’re sad and when you’re restless and I can tell what number you’re thinking of—93. BERNADETTE: How? BENJAMIN: Because we’re a pair. That’s how I know I made a good impression. That’s how I know there’s a part of you that that believes Madeleine will find us someday. That’s how I know there’s a part of you that doesn’t want to rip off your head… and that’s why I won’t let you. (BERNADETTE takes a moment.) BERNADETTE: Pick a number between one and a million. BENJAMIN: Are you sure? Because last time, I know I said that you got it right but really—

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Two Continued BERNADETTE: —Just do it. Pick a number between one and a million. (BENJAMIN closes his eyes.) BERNADETTE: Ready BENJAMIN: Yes. BERNADETTE: Two. (BENJAMIN smiles. He opens his eyes.) BENJAMIN: The most important number in the entire universe. (BENJAMIN and BERNADETTE hold each other’s gaze.) BERNADETTE: One time when I was crying and thinking about ripping off my head, you came over and sat down next to me. BENJAMIN: What did I say? BERNADETTE: You didn’t say anything. BENJAMIN: Well, what did it sound like, then? (BERNADETTE thinks for a moment.) BERNADETTE: Peace. (BENJAMIN sits silently.) BERNADETTE: What are you doing? BENJAMIN: You said you liked when I didn’t say anything. BERNADETTE: Only when I want to rip off my head. BENJAMIN: You don’t want to rip off your head anymore? BERNADETTE: Not right at this moment.

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BENJAMIN: But in future moments? (BERNADETTE looks away.) BERNADETTE: I don’t know. Maybe. (BENJAMIN looks at her.) BENJAMIN: Well, I’m going to enjoy this moment then. (BERNADETTE looks at him and smiles.) BERNADETTE: Me too. END OF PLAY. ■■■ For more information on author Eugenie Carabastos, please visit our Contributors Page at the end of this section.

Images Pixabay.com

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Rebecca By Alan Ramonaitis INT. GROCERY STORE-- AFTERNOON The Grocery Store has glossy white floors, white metallic shelves, and is overly illuminated by fluorescent lights. We see various shots of people grocery shopping. Ray, a man in his late 40's wearing a worn out gray shirt with the Columbus Cottonmouths logo, a pair of faded blue jeans and a gray hat, is carrying a basket on his arm as he walks down the liquor isle. He slowly browses his options. He stops, grabs a bottle of Jack Daniels and places it in his basket. He moves down to the next isle and continues to look at the microwaveable meals. He opens the cooler, grabs a bulk of random meals and throws it into the small basket. He enters the shampoo isle, which is located next to the cosmetic section. He looks at the various shampoos and conditioners and gradually makes his way to the eye shadows. He puts down his basket and grabs one of the small palettes and examines the various shades of purple. A woman in her late 30's pushing a cart walks towards the man. Woman: (apologetic) I'm sorry. Can I-RAY: (startled) What? He quickly turns towards her. She tries to look at the eye shadows. RAY: (CONT') Sorry. He moves slightly over. WOMAN: Thank you. The two continue to examine the makeup. RAY: (sarcastically) What do you think? WOMAN: I'm sorry? He places the palette next to his eyes. CANYONVOICES

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RAY: How do I look? Do these make me look good? Or-He grabs another palette of pink hues. RAY (CONT'): These? WOMAN: (amused) Yeah that looks great. RAY: Which one looks great? WOMAN: The first one. The purple. I think that's for you. RAY: You think so? WOMAN: Yeah, absolutely. It really accentuates your eyes. He glances down at the purple palette. RAY: My wife said the same thing. (lightly chuckles) Do you think my wife will like it? (beat) I'm trying to find her a gift. It’s her birthday today. WOMAN: That's very thoughtful of you. I think she'll love it. Are you planning to do anything special today? RAY: No, I think we're just going to stay home tonight. Our son is gone for the day (beat) he’s going out with some friends. We don't ever get any alone time. (beat) We'll probably just cook at home, listen to some music and dance a little. WOMAN: That's sweet. Well I hope you and your wife have a great evening. RAY: Thank you. And thank you for the makeup advice. WOMAN: No problem. CUT TO: INT. GROCERY STORE– MOMENTS LATER Ray places the Jack and eye shadow onto the conveyor belt. He piles the microwaveable meals on top of the eye shadow. A store clerk in his early 20's, checks out Ray's items. He scans the bottle of Jack and an alarm goes off.

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Rebecca Continued STORECLERK: Can I check your ID sir? RAY: Absolutely. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a dingy leather wallet. He looks at its contents. He pulls out old receipts, business cards, and some money, but is unable to find his ID. RAY (CONT'): I don't have it. Sorry about that. STORE CLERK: I'm sorry sir. I can't sell you this without an ID. RAY: (sighs) It’s okay. I understand. The store clerk places the Jack beneath the counter and proceeds to scan the microwaveable meals. He brings up the eye shadow and scans it. He looks at Ray. RAY (CONT'): It’s for my wife. STORE CLERK: That's 32 dollars and 78 cents sir. CUT TO: INT. RAY'S APARTMENT -- AFTERNOON Ray's apartment is small, but is remarkably clean. Every object from the VCR to the kitchenware is tucked away behind the cupboards and drawers. There is no sign of clutter. The only things that are noticeable are the framed pictures of Ray and his son sitting on the television stand next to the black CRT TV. Ray enters through the front with his bags of groceries. He walks into the kitchen and places it down on the counter. He methodically puts everything away, but keeps the eye shadow out. CUT TO: INT. RAY’S BEDROOM -- NIGHT We hear some show tunes playing from a cassette player on top of Ray's work desk. Next to the cassette player sits a mirror, which is used as a makeshift vanity table. Ray, shirtless, sits in front of the mirror, swaying to the music and combing his nonexistent hair. He is content and pleased by the melody. He puts down the comb and takes a wet cloth, gently wiping his face. He pulls at the loose skin on his face to smooth out any imperfections and wrinkles. He looks at himself for a long period of time. He pulls out a small cosmetic bag from his desk; unzipping it, we see various

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brushes for painting and makeup mixed with old bottles of lipstick, foundation, nail polish and blushes. He applies a heavy layer of foundation, masking his face. He adds some splashes of brilliant pink blush and the purple eye shadow. He finishes with caking on some bright red lipstick. He stares in the mirror. He feels his Adam’s apple and his sharp chin. RAY: (excitingly) Oh, almost forgot. He gets up from his chair, goes to his closet, and pulls out a large green plastic bin. He pops open the top and inside sits some dresses. He digs for a moment and pulls out a blonde wig and a red spaghetti strap sundress. He attempts to shake out the wrinkles and admires it.

RAY: Rebecca, you look lovely this evening. (beat) RAY (feminine voice): And so do you Ray. I love your new eye shadow, where did you get it from? I really love the colors; it really accentuates your eyes

RAY (CONT'): Hot. He puts on the dress, walks back to the mirror, sits, and delicately places the wig on his head. Ray basks at his accomplishment. He smiles and kisses the mirror. RAY: Beautiful. You are a hot little thing. He gets up and pulls out a shoebox from under his bed. He places it on the desk, sits and opens the box. He pulls out various glamorous bracelets and necklaces. He puts on a pair of fake earrings, a silver necklace, and a bracelet. He looks into the mirror. We see a young woman in the mirror. She is blonde, wearing a red spaghettistrap sundress, makeup, various pieces of jewelry, and mimics Ray’s every movement. Ray continues to look in the mirror. He sheds a tear. RAY: Rebecca, you look lovely this evening. (beat) RAY (feminine voice): And so do you Ray. I love your new eye shadow, where did you get it? I really love the colors; it really accentuates your eyes. Ray Thank you. Thank you so much. So, what do you have planned for us tonight? RAY (feminine voice): Well, I was just thinking about staying in. I cooked some dinner. Maybe we can dance a little after. We hear a voice. It is a woman’s voice, Rebecca. She is Ray’s ideal image of himself. RECBECCA: I love you Ray.

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Rebecca Continued RAY: I love you too. CUT TO: INT. KITCHEN -- NIGHT Ray, wearing a red dress, a brown pair of heels and prepares a single microwavable meal. He reads the instructions on the back of the frozen dinner and places it in the microwave. He sets the timer for two minutes. Ray grabs a plate and places it on the counter space. He pulls out a fork and a butter knife from the drawer and places it next to the plate. The microwave rings, he takes out the black tray, rips open the plastic wrap and delicately puts the food onto the plate. He washes his hands, picks up the plate and heads to the dining room table next to the kitchen. He sits alone and takes a careful bite, not to smear the lipstick. RAY (feminine voice): This is delicious. You are such a wonderful cook. You’re such a Rachael Ray. (smiles) He props himself up and kisses the empty space. RAY (CONT') (feminine voice): I know what will go great with this. (beat) music.

Dad? Why are you wearing a dress? He eagerly gets up from his seat, goes into the bedroom and brings the cassette player into the kitchen placing it on the counter. He plays "Easy to Love" by Billie Holiday. His body synchronizes with the sounds of the piano and trumpet, while his lips mimic the lyrics of the song. He shuts his eyes and gracefully dances in the living room. We hear a click, the cassette stops. Ray is dumbfounded. He looks back in the kitchen and sees Jim, his 16-year-old son. Jim is standing in the illuminated kitchen. Ray is in the dark living room, facing away from Jim and is unable to move.

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JIM: Hello? Sorry, I didn’t wanna interrupt-- I didn’t know my dad was (beat) seeing anyone tonight. Jim continues to look at Ray, then at the single meal on the table and looks back. JIM (CONT’): Is my dad home? RAY (feminine voice): Jimmy, how long have you been there? JIM: Not too long. Is my dad out? RAY (feminine voice): Why are you here? Why do you want to see your father? JIM: Well (beat) I live here, so I was wondering where he was. Because (beat) he lives here too. Ray remains silent. Jim moves closer to Ray. JIM (CONT’): Have I seen you before? RAY (feminine voice): No… Jim moves closer to Ray, walks around Ray and sees his face. Ray looks up. JIM: What the fuck. Jim moves back. JIM (CONT’): Dad? Why are you wearing a dress? RAY (feminine voice): Jimmy, please. Don’t be afraid (beat) sit down-Ray moves his hand to touch Jim’s cheek. Jim slaps his hand away. JIM: Don’t touch me! RAY (feminine voice): Please Jim. Ray puts his hand towards Jim. Jim pushes Ray. Ray falls to the ground. JIM: You stay back! Jim runs into the kitchen and slips on the linoleum floors. He slowly props himself up. JIM (CONT’): Stay the fuck away from me you fucking queer! Ray gets up and tries to help Jim from the floor. RAY (feminine voice): Jimmy please, don’t be angry at your father--

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Rebecca Continued Jim pushes Ray off and staggers to the kitchen’s counter. He pulls out all of the pots, pans, forks and spoons and begins to throw them at Ray. JIM: Stay away from me! I don’t fucking know you! RAY (feminine voice): Jimmy please… Ray is struck by one of the pans on the head. Blood starts to pool in his wig and bleed down onto his face. Ray removes the wig, looks at his hand and sees blood. Jim opens a drawer and grabs a knife. He is cornered in the kitchen. RAY: James…Please (beat) It’s dad-- I love you. Don’t do this! JIM: Why the hell are you in a dress? RAY: You won’t understand Jim. JIM: You’re right, I don’t. (pause) I don’t understand a lot of things! I don’t understand why you’re in a dress and wearing a wig. I don’t understand why I’m having this fucking conversation with you! I don’t understand why I’m even here. (pause) Jim is furiously staring at Ray. Ray wipes the blood from his face. JIM (CONT’): I didn’t leave. Mom left. I didn’t and you never asked why. It’s because I cared about you, you asshole. I didn’t want you to be alone. I stayed because I cared. (pause) And you do this. Dress up like a bitch. (beat) What are my friends gonna say if they saw you. They’re gonna say I have queer dad and I’m his queer son. RAY: Jim-JIM: Shut up Ray! You don’t understand. (beat) I put up with a lot of shit because you and mom aren’t together. (beat) And now I’m gonna have to put up with this! Mom didn’t leave because she was a bitch. Mom left because you’re selfish. You’re a selfish ass, Ray! RAY: I’m not trying to be selfish, Jim. I’m just being me. I’m trying to be happy. Don’t you want me to be happy? JIM: I want you to be happy (beat) but be happy by going on dates, meeting

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people, making friends, getting out there and not wearing a fucking dress. You wanna be happy? You want to dress up and be happy? Go ahead! No one is stopping you. I’m not going to be here to stop you. Jim gestures the knife towards Ray and he walks towards the front door. Ray follows Jim as he move further away. RAY: Jimmy I’m sorry. JIM: Fuck your sorry. Sorry doesn’t fix a broken family. It can’t fix what I just saw. Sorry can’t fix who you are, Ray. Ray begins to cry. RAY: Please Jimmy, I’m sorry. I’ll stop. Please. We’ll talk. (beat) We’ll talk this over. Please. I’m still your dad and you’re still my son. I’m sorry I can’t fix everything between your mom and me, but I can fix this. Just sit down and we’ll talk. Jim opens the door and throws the knife on the ground. JIM: I hope you can live with yourself Ray. Jim shuts the door. Ray follows after him, but stops himself before going outside. He stares at the doorknob and does nothing. CUT TO: BLACK TITLE CARD. ■■■ For more information on author Alan Ramonaitis, please visit our Contributors Page at the end of this section.

Images Pixabay.com

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Merry-Go-Round By Chris Hall

Characters:

(Lights. Raised curtain shows stage empty except for table, center. Black backdrop. X enters stage right with whiskey bottle and two glasses, which he places on the table before exiting left. Enter JOHN stage left, carrying chair, and MARIANNE stage right, with another. They place chairs at table and sit across from one another.) MARIANNE: Tell me a story. Tell me a story. Tell me a story. JOHN: Oui. Of course (Pours whiskey into both glasses) JOHN: Of course. (Lights fade to black.) X: (offstage) Thursday. I settled at the bar. I ordered a drink. I drank. I stood up and walked out. I turned to my left outside the door. I paused. (Pause) X: I walked down the street. I turned to my right. I turned to my left. I sat quietly in the park. There is little to say. (Lights. JOHN is now gone, replaced by PETER. PETER and MARIANNE drink the whiskey poured by JOHN.) PETER: There is little to say. MARIANNE: (calmly) You must tell me something. Can’t you see what I am? Can’t you see what you’ve done?

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PETER: I am. I mean I do, yes. MARIANNE: Tell me. PETER: All right. (Pause) PETER: It was last Thursday (He pours. They both drink.)

It’s coldest in November. The sky greys like a sick child and the trees move closer together.

PETER: (thoughtfully) I killed him. MARIANNE (vaguely): Yes, yes, of course.

PETER: It was his time. MARIANNE: Five-thirty. PETER: (loudly) It was his time. (Naturally) It’s only two. MARIANNE: Of course. You’re right. (PETER pours. They both drink. They sit absolutely still. JOHN enters stage left and walks hurriedly across, exits stage right.) PETER: It was his time. MARIANNE: (sadly) Five-thirty (They wait) PETER: It’s coldest in November. The sky greys like a sick child and the trees move closer together. The cement gets harder and the air thins, pulling itself out of your chest before you finish breathing. The buildings become castles and the windows burst when you close your eyes. MARIANNE: Is that what you think? PETER: That’s why I killed him.

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Merry-Go-Round Continued MARIANNE: Is that what you think? (Pause) PETER: In July I could never have done it. Even May would have stopped me. In May I would have sat in the park and melted into a bench. The soft months are what’s needed for quiet. In the cold one must take action. (Angrily stands)

Every domestic dispute, every quarrel among friends, can be traced to a lack of providing proper glassware. You’ve heard of the case of George and Martha?

PETER: One must take action! (Sits.) PETER: (very calmly) Drink? MARIANNE: No thank you. I’ve had enough. (He pours. They both drink) PETER: Haven’t we all?

(MARIANNE pours. As they drink JOHN enters stage left. He stops at the table, looks at the bottle, looks around, looks under table, and goes to rear of stage, looks under curtain.) JOHN: (irritated) Where the fuck are the glasses? (JOHN walks to table, takes drink out of bottle. Storms out stage right. During his time on stage MARIANNE and PETER silently face one another without moving. MARIANNE pours and they both drink. After drinking, again enter JOHN stage left. He grabs PETER’S glass from the table and smashes it on the floor before exiting stage right. Enter X stage right with glass, broom and dustpan. He places glass in front of PETER, then unhurriedly sweeps broken glass into dustpan; exits stage left. PETER and MARIANNE frozen throughout.) PETER: I’ve often had occasion to remark that a man must have many glasses. Every domestic dispute, every quarrel among friends, can be traced to a lack of providing proper glassware. You’ve heard of the case of George and Martha? MARIANNE: Oui. I mean, yes, of course. PETER: Solved by the resourceful application of sufficient glassware. In all things we seek balance, but there forever must be an excess of glasses.

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MARIANNE: Paul and Rimby? PETER: (sighs) Indeed my dear. Not enough glasses. Not utilized properly. (He pours, emptying bottle. They both drink. X enters stage right with new whiskey bottle. Takes empty bottle and replaces it. Exits stage left. PETER opens bottle, pours. They both drink.) PETER: When did you get in? MARIANNE: This morning. I climbed through the fog. PETER: (sighs) It is a perfectly beautiful day. MARIANNE: Oui. PETER: I think I’ll go for a walk. MARIANNE: Of course. (PETER pours. Fade to black.) X: (offstage) Thursday. I watched the birds. I threw breadcrumbs but they never came near me. I dusted off my shoes. I stood. I turned to my left. I left the park. I left the park. (Lights. PETER is now gone, replaced by JOHN.) JOHN: I think I’ll go for a walk (JOHN and MARIANNE drink the whiskey poured by PETER.) MARIANNE: Do you ever sit at the table and beckon towards the sky? JOHN: Of course, but not inside. MARIANNE: Ah (She leans back, tilts back her head and raises her arms towards the ceiling. She goes back to her relaxed position at the table) MARIANNE: Ah. JOHN: You see? MARIANNE: I do. I do

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SCRIPTS

5

Merry-Go-Round Continued (Pause) JOHN: Will you marry me? MARIANNE: What? JOHN: (loudly) Will you marry me? (Naturally) Will you…shall we be married? MARIANNE: What? (Pause) JOHN: I don’t remember. MARIANNE: Oui. Of course. JOHN: (irritated) Of course what? MARIANNE: I…I… (JOHN abruptly stands. Sits. Stands. Sits.) JOHN: I think I’ll go for a walk (Pause. He pours. Lights fade to black.) X: (offstage) Thursday. Outside the park there are no trees. There are no birds. My fingers are numb. I count the frozen bricks on the road. I count thirty-eight bricks. I stop. I pass a small bakery. I pass an infant child selling newspaper. I purchase one for thirty-eight cents. The pages are all blank. I turn down a street I know. (Lights. MARIANNE is now gone, replaced by PETER. JOHN and PETER look at each other for a moment.) JOHN: Cheers. PETER: Here’s how. (Pause. They drink. PETER pours himself another and slowly swirls it in his glass. JOHN pours himself another. JOHN stares at PETER as PETER swirls his drink. PETER stops. They drink. PETER stands and throws his glass at JOHN. It misses wide right and shatters on the floor. JOHN doesn’t blink. PETER sits.

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Enter X stage right with glass, broom and dustpan. Places glass and sweeps as before, exits stage left.) JOHN: Got to have plenty ofPETER: Aye. We know (Pause) JOHN: But did you George and Diego?

consider

PETER: I said George. JOHN: Boston George. Images: Pixabay.com

PETER: Ah. That’s a new one. JOHN: We could’ve helped them. PETER: Aye we could.

(This time they clink glasses. Drink.) PETER: No hard feelings? JOHN: No, no, no, of course not.

JOHN: Damn right we could (He smiles) PETER: You’re damn right (He smiles. Pours) JOHN: Cheers (This time they clink glasses. Drink.) PETER: No hard feelings? JOHN: No, no, no, of course not. PETER: Ah. Good. (Pause) PETER: Good. JOHN: You know I never meant to hurt her.

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Merry-Go-Round Continued PETER: Oui. JOHN: Neither did you. (PETER pours, emptying bottle. They drink. Enter X stage right with new whiskey bottle. He takes empty bottle and replaces it as before, exits stage left. Enter MARIANNE through back curtain. She is covered with blood. She approaches table, stops.) PETER: Of course. She deserved what she got. Ugly bitch. JOHN: No question whatsoever. None whatsoever. (PETER pours, and they drink. Fade to black.) X: (offstage) Thursday. I feel comfortable. The snow is soft on my face. It billows out in front of me. I am Moses of the alleyways. I fall into a deep sleep as I creep through the winding passages. (Lights. JOHN is gone, replaced by MARIANNE, still covered with blood. They attempt to drink, see glasses are empty. Awkwardly both stand and switch places, MARIANNE now in her typical position on the right, PETER on the left. They both reach for the bottle.) MARIANNE: Oh! I’ve got it (She pours. They drink) MARIANNE: What were you saying? PETER: What? MARIANNE: About November. PETER: Oh. The trees. MARIANNE: Yes? PETER: They run from me. They cluster together like cows or clouds. MARIANNE: I’ve never noticed. PETER: You wouldn’t. MARIANNE: And what does that mean? CANYONVOICES

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PETER: Shut up. (He reaches across the table and slaps her. Sits back down. PETER: (enthusiastic) They gather! And then they sit so still. The stillness is what affects me. Their arms and fingers harden into brown steel. MARIANNE: And that’sPETER: Shut up shut up shut up shut up. SHUT THE HELL UP! (He stands) PETER: (roars) THE STILLNESS! (Enter JOHN stage left. PETER sits JOHN approaches rear of the table.) PETER: (calmly) Oh it’s you. JOHN: Oui. Aye. MARIANNE: I’m so glad you’re alright. JOHN: And I you (Turns to PETER) JOHN: And I you. (PETER slumps down in his chair and falls out as if suddenly dead. JOHN takes his place.)

I am a bird redrawn to the nest. I am burned and refeathered, like the Phoenix.

JOHN: It was his time. Drink? MARIANNE: No thank you, I’ve had enough. JOHN: Ah (He pours. They drink. Fade to black) X: (offstage) Thursday. I awake in a pile of snow. I had been dreaming. I am dreaming. PETER: (offstage, shouting) Gurneys! X: (offstage) Thursday. I cast a net of memories into a frozen lake and draw out pounds of tiny feelings. PETER: (offstage, shrieking) Hospital beds!

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SCRIPTS

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Merry-Go-Round Continued X: (offstage) Thursday! I turn! I turn! I turn! (Fevered, but low and controlled) I stop at the crosswalk I place my hands in my pockets I remove them I clasp them I unclasp them I check the time I check the time I check the time (Pause) X: Five-thirty. (Pause. Lights reveal all four characters standing around the table holding hands in a circle.) PETER: Wood boxes. (Fade to black. Sound of footsteps as everyone leaves the stage but JOHN. JOHN lights a match, lights a cigarette. Smokes. Lights come on. JOHN is still at left at table, MARIANNE at right, no longer covered with blood. She is crying.) JOHN: (gently) Darling… MARIANNE: (sobbing) What else? What else! JOHN: There is little to tell. There is little to tell (She stops) MARIANNE: I am a bird redrawn to the nest. I am burned and re-feathered, like the Phoenix. JOHN: No no no. Like the keepers of the Maison de Santé. MARIANNE: Ah. True (They drink). MARIANNE: Just like the keepers. Whatever happened to them all? JOHN: I don’t know darling. I don’t know. It’s only a story. (Long pause. JOHN pours again, and swirls his drink in his glass. MARIANNE sits and stares at hers. They rise, pick up their chairs, and JOHN exits stage right carrying his. MARIANNE exits stage left carrying hers. X enters stage right, quickly downs both drinks, takes glasses and bottle and exits stage left. Full lights.) ■■■ For more information on author Chris Hall, please visit our Contributors Page at the end of this section.

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American Dreamer By James E. Garcia This scene is an excerpt from James E. Garcia’s play AMERICAN DREAMER.

SCENE 7 CASTRO:I graduated high school in 1935. It was in the Great Depression. Looking back, I know a lot of people were very poor. I didn’t really notice at the time, since my family was always poor. Graduating high school was a big day in my life. On the last day, I wore a white shirt and a tie my mother found in my father’s belongings. That morning, the high school principal called me into her office. PRINCIPAL: Come in, Raul, come in. Take a seat.

You want to go to college?... Raul, this is a border town. Mexican kids don’t find that sort of opportunity here.

CASTRO: Thank you, sir. PRINCIPAL: Tomorrow’s the big day. CASTRO: Yes sir. PRINCIPLE: You’ve done well here. We’re all very proud of you. CASTRO: Thank you, sir. That means a lot to me. PRINCIPAL: So…what are your plans? CASTRO: Sir, I want to go to college. PRINCIPAL: (a long beat) You want to go to college?... Raul, this is a border town. Mexican kids don’t find that sort of opportunity here. CASTRO: I know, sir, but I think I have what it takes. I want to college and become a teacher, right here in Douglas. PRINCIPAL: A teacher….In Douglas. (a sigh) Raul, I don’t mean to discourage you, but I suggest you give up on that idea. CASTRO: Excuse me? PRINCIPAL: I’m afraid you’d be wasting your time. You read the newspapers. CANYONVOICES

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American Dreamer Continued They’re rounding your people up. The governor says Mexicans are to blame for the mess in our economy. CASTRO: It’s not true! I’ve been here nearly all my life. I’ve worked hard. I’m graduating from high school. Doesn’t that mean anything? PRINCIPAL: It does to me, son, but some folks just rather you not be here. I’m sorry, Raul. I just don’t want you to go out and be disappointed.

That afternoon at work I couldn’t stop thinking: “How does an educator tell a youngster who’s full of ambition that continuing his education is a waste of time?”

CASTRO EXITS CASTRO: (to audience) That afternoon at work I couldn’t stop thinking: “How does an educator tell a youngster who’s full of ambition that continuing his education is a waste of time?” Every day after school, I worked at the Kress department store washing windows. Even though I had graduated that day, I still had to work. My family needed the money. ENTER COACH COLSON. COLSON: Excuse me, Raul Castro? CASTRO: Yes sir. COLSON: (shakes his hand) Ken Colson. I’m from Arizona State Teachers College in Flagstaff. I’m the football coach.

CASTRO: Yes sir! I know exactly who you school. I sent you-COLSON: I got your letter, and I’ve done a little research on you. I’m told you’re a pretty good quarterback. 18 wins, six losses in two years. Not bad. CASTRO: I do my best, sir. COLSON: Let me get to the point. I’m here to offer you a scholarship to play for the Lumberjacks. That’s-CASTRO: --the football team. I know, I know! COLSON HANDS HIM AN ENVELOPE.

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COLSON: Go ahead, open it. It’s a promissory note awarding you a four-year scholarship. CASTRO: Does this mean I get to go to college? COLSON: That’s exactly what it means. CASTRO: I…I don’t know what to say. COLSON: How about thank you. CASTRO, EXCITED, GRABS COLSON’S HAND AND SHAKES IT VIGOROUSLY. CASTRO: Thank you. Thank you… I gotta tell the guys on the team. I gotta tell my mom. I gotta tell Mrs. Wright! COLSON: Well, go on… Go tell them! GIVES HIM A BIG BEAR HUG, THEN HANDS COLSON THE SQUEEGIE… CASTRO: See you later! ■■■ For more information on author James E. Garcia, please visit our Contributors Page at the end of this section.

Image: Pixabay.com

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SCRIPTSCONTRIBUTORS

SCRIPTSCONTRIBUTORS

Andre N. Jones

Will Cordeiro

Eugenie Carabastos

Alan Ramonaitis

Andre N. Jones, a prolific playwright, served as the 2013 Emerging Artist in Playwriting for the Delaware Division of the Arts. He was also a 2013 semi-finalist for the Princess Grace Awards. Andre is an MFA candidate in playwriting at Temple University. As a playwright, Andre illustrates with a unique blend of voice and action. His statements are strong and colorful yet caressed with hinted detail. An actor’s writer, Andre tries to give his characters a juiciness that allows actors to explore and look for intent and emotions rather than provide them. His writing employs the plot structure of traditional theater and combines it with the musicality of Hip-hop, Jazz (Bee-bop), and the spoken word. This combination makes the play journey satisfying as the audience is enraptured in the serenade. Language and life converge to create a context through which we learn and are entertained.

Will Cordeiro recently graduated with an MFA and Ph.D. from Cornell University. He was a cofounder of the Brooklyn Playwrights Collective, a staff theater reviewer for offoffonline.com, and the playwright-in-residence at Risley Residential College at Cornell. His work appears or is forthcoming in BOAAT, Cortland Review, Crab Orchard Review, Drunken Boat, Fiction Southeast, Fourteen Hills, Hawai’i Review, Night Train, Phoebe, Superstition Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he is a faculty member in Northern Arizona University’s Honors Program.

A graduate of Wesleyan University, Eugenie is currently pursuing her MFA in Dramatic Writing at Carnegie Mellon University. Her plays have won BroadwayWorld’s Award for Best Play in South Carolina, the Trustus Theatre Festival, the Mountain Playhouse Comedy Writing Contest, the Venus Theatre Festival, the UnChained Theatre Festival, and the Edward Hopper House Two-on-the-Aisle competition. Her fulllength plays have been produced by the iDiOM Theatre, Trustus Theatre, South Park Theatre, Playwrights’ Round Table, 3 Brothers Theatre, the Alumnae Theatre, as well as in numerous festivals. Two is her attempt at a children’s play that went awry. She is happy to report that all of her childhood toys have their heads. At least she hopes so. She supposes it may be time to go up to the attic and check.

Alan Ramonaitis was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1991. Soon after his birth, his mother decided to move him back to her home country of Thailand. There he spent much of his time at boarding and private schools in Bangkok and the Province of Prachinburi. Despite his mother’s absence during his early childhood, as she resumed her business in Japan, Alan was surrounded by immediate family. He found a love for the visual arts at a very early age. Drawing had become a form of comfort, which he used to cope with the stresses in his life. He eventually moved to Misawa, Japan, in 1998 to live with his father. In 2000, they migrated to Arizona. To Alan, films and screenplays are an amalgamation of the visual and literary. Much of his writing deals with personal identity, which is heavily influenced by his childhood experiences with racism, culture and religion.

“Exhibited”

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“Home”

“Two”

“Rebecca”

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SCRIPTSCONTRIBUTORS

SCRIPTSCONTRIBUTORS

Chris Hall “Merry Go Round”

Chris Hall is pursuing an MA in Literature at Arizona State University while attempting to write and publish creative literary work of his own. His poems can be read in a recent issue of the Foothill journal of poetry. Chris lives and works in Phoenix.

James Garcia

“American Dreamer” James E. Garcia is a Phoenix Valley-based playwright, journalist and media consultant. An accomplished playwright and theater producer, James is the founder and producing artistic director of New Carpa Theater Co., which produces Latino and multicultural productions. He is the author of more than 30 plays. His most recent production was American Dreamer: The Life and Times of Raul H. Castro. His previous theater works include The Mighty Vandals and Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Culture Wars (But Were Afraid to Ask). He also is the owner of Creative Vistas Media, a Valley-based media consulting firm. He also currently serves as the director of communications and public policy for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce To contact James, email jgcvm1@gmail.com or call 602-460-1374. Geode by Joshua Wiss (see Artwork for full image)

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ARTWORK Evil Eyes Carissa Cunningham

Rainbow Eyes Carissa cunningham Angha Kimberly Kijewski A Blessed Tomorrow Kimberly Kijewski Into the Abyss Kimberly Kijewski Desert Guardian Kimberly Kijewski End of Your Days Dylan Pham Nolstalgia Dylan Pham Rain Dylan Pham Chrome Study Value: Ostrich Tim Winer A Strange Sort of Peaceful Tim Winer Taking It In Tim Winer Geode Joshua Wiss Paisley Painting Joshua Wiss

Taking it in by Tim Winer (see Artwork for full image)


Cornucopia Joshua Wiss Out of Darkness Christian Partiff Still Christian Partiff Michigan Fields Christian Partiff Winter Journey Christian Partiff Nightfall Christian Partiff Wild West Will Tilghman Blue Eye Kevin Tran Compass Kevin Tran Tidal Tribal Kevin Tran Beware What Lurks Kevin Tran Moon Over Gehry Joe Puglisi The Lady in Blue Joe Puglisi Abandoned Pier at Provincetown Joe Puglisi


ARTWORK

Evil Eye By Carissa Cunningham

Medium – Prismacolor Pencils

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ARTWORK

Rainbow Eyes By Carrisa Cunningham

Medium – Prismacolor Pencils & Acrylic

About the Artist “Since the age of seven, I have had a love affair with art. Art is a fickle lover though, and only gives me inspiration when I take chances. Currently I am finishing up a degree in Political Science at Arizona State University. Academia is much kinder to me, but my true love is art. I have realized that if I pursue art I will never work a day in my life, and that appeals to me immensely.”

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ARTWORK

Angha By Kimberly Kijewski

Medium – Colored Pencil

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ARTWORK

A Blessed Tomorrow By Kimberly Kijewski

Medium - Acrylic

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ARTWORK

Into the Abyss By Kimberly Kijewski

Medium - Photography

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ARTWORK

Desert Guardians By Kimberly Kijewski

About the Artist

Medium - Photography

KIMBERLY KIJEWSKI is an artist with over a decade of experience in the field. Being very diverse education wise, her schooling includes a degree in horseshoeing through the Tucson School of Horseshoeing, as well as artistic training through Glendale Community College. Art being a long time passion, she is always looking for new ways to express the amazing ways art speaks to the soul. Her favorite mediums are paint and pencil, but she has recently branched out into three dimensional work through blacksmithing and photography. When not indulging in her love of art, Kimberly enjoys spending time working on stories with her best friend Kate, reading a good book with her dog Aislinn, and participating in recreations through historical reenactment events such as the Arizona Renaissance Festival. To see more of Kimberly’s work, visit: Facebook.com/KimberlyKijewskiArt CANYONVOICES

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ARTWORK

End of Your Days By Dylan Pham

Medium – Watercolor

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ARTWORK

Nostalgia By Dylan Pham

Medium – Watercolor

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ARTWORK

Rain By Dylan Pham

Medium – Watercolor & Ink

About the Artist DYLAN PHAM is a visual artist who started at the age of four years old. He started to doodle a lot on his own in his junior year of high school, where he took some art classes that helped him expand his knowledge and techniques. Dylan can use different mediums such as acrylic painting, scratch-board, charcoal, watercolor, oil painting, and many more! He was quickly drawn to watercolor because of the many styles and textures it can create. He is fascinated with portraits and human emotions, and most of his pieces have a story or meaning behind them. His art will say different things to different people as it is up to their own interpretation. CANYONVOICES

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By Tim Winer

Medium – Acrylic

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ARTWORK

Chrome Study Value: Ostrich


ARTWORK

A Strange Sort of Peaceful By Tim Winer

Medium – Digital Painting

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ARTWORK

Taking It In By Tim Winer

Medium – Digital Painting

About the Artist TIM WINER is 26 years old and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. He attended Collins College for a BA in Visual Art with a major in Video Game Art, where he graduated as Valedictorian in 2010. He is the Lead Graphic Designer for an apparel-printing business, and he aspires to be a concept artist, specializing in fantasy and sci-fi genres.

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ARTWORK

Geode By Joshua Wiss

Medium - India ink and watercolor

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ARTWORK

Paisley Painting By Joshua Wiss

Medium - India ink and watercolor

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ARTWORK

Cornucopia By Joshua Wiss

Medium – Oil paint

About the Artist JOSHUA PATRICK WISS is a self-taught artist, musician, and spoken-word poet who graduated with a B.A. in English from Northern Arizona University in 2012. He currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona. Discontented with academic poetry, Joshua found a home in his local slam community while living in Northern Arizona. Experimenting with different mediums has allowed Joshua many avenues for self-expression.

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ARTWORK

Out of Darkness By Christian Parfitt

Medium - Photography

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ARTWORK

Still By Christian Parfitt

Medium - Photography

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ARTWORK

Michigan Fields By Christian Parfitt

Medium - Photography

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ARTWORK

Winter Journey By Christian Parfitt

Medium - Photography

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ARTWORK

Nightfall By Christian Parfitt

About the Artist

Medium - Photography

“My name is Chris Parfitt and I am a junior at ASU studying Graphic Information Technology. I have lived in Ohio for most of my life. After wandering around in California and Texas for a while, I began to miss something. I can’t remember if I figured it out, or if I only discovered it in retrospect, but it was the depth of the sensation of season changes. I missed my home. When I returned to the stark state of old Ohio, I was slapped with memory. The rich smells and familiar sights of my childhood left me awakened and inspired. The muddy canals, the sometimes bleak landscapes, the thick vegetation—these were all suddenly captors of my adoration. I was compelled to capture the magic in the world I had once overlooked. My tools have been photography and the written word. I am currently focusing on a collection of photographs, as well as a compilation of poetry for children.” Prints are available at stonewoodphotos.com. Chris’s writing appears in the Poetry section of this issue.

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ARTWORK

Wild West By Will Tilghman

Medium – Ink (Prisma Color Marker & Micron Pens)

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ARTWORK

About the Artist WILL TILGHMAN was born in Tucson in 1987. As a small child he developed and still continues to grow his innate ability to draw original illustrations and to recreate images. After seeing the artwork of Todd McFarlane and Salvador Dali at a young age, he knew that this was a passion he wanted to pursue. He has a beautiful wife and an amazing little girl, who are his current inspiration to make sure that someday he will be an artist who is impactful within the industry. In his spare time, he draws sketch cards and full color originals, among other things, in his living room office.

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ARTWORK

Blue Eye By Kevin Tran

Medium – Marker & Ink (Pigma Micron Pens)

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ARTWORK

Compass By Kevin Tran

Medium – Ink (Pigma Micron Pens)

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ARTWORK

Tidal Tribal By Kevin Tran

Medium – Ink (Pigma Micron Pens)

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ARTWORK

Beware What Lurks By Kevin Tran

Medium – Watercolor

About the Artist “My name is Kevin Tran. It has been a year since I have started drawing again. I started drawing again because I was inspired by my brother being in art class and I missed it. So I bought myself a sketchbook except I didn't know where to start. Eventually I found an artist on YouTube called Peterdraws. He introduced me to doodle art, where I would just draw without any planning. My girlfriend at the time was my biggest inspiration. My art style evolved because of her. I would always try to improve so that I could impress her. She was also my biggest support. As I kept drawing, my style evolved and took more planning because I branched away from doodling. I love to create what I feel is beauty and share it with others. I was also given the chance to design the ASU Hawaiian & Pacific Islander Club's shirt.”

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ARTWORK

Moon Over Gehry By Joe Puglisi

Medium - Photography

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ARTWORK

The Lady in Blue By Joe Puglisi

Medium - Photography

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ARTWORK

Abandoned Pier at Provincetown By Joe Puglisi

Medium - Photography

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ARTWORK

About the Artist JOE PUGLISI lives and works in Upstate NY. His love of photography came at an early age when he took a filler elective for photography his senior year in high school. That was his only formal class in the subject. Since then his knowledge of photography has come from friends (who were professional artists and photographers), studying the masters of the craft like Ansel Adams and O. Winston Link and the paintings of Edward Hopper and Vermeer, to name a few. He’s also picked up techniques from books, magazines, seminars and online lectures and has used them to enhance his work. His 2014 gallery appearances included shows juried by the curators of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. He was also awarded a Single Image Award for a competition printed in Black & White magazine. Find more of his work on his website, makingaphotograph.com, or contact him at joe@makingaphotograph.com.

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AUTHOR’S ALCOVE Angha by Kimberly Kijewski (see Artwork for full image)


Eunice Kim and the Beauty of Fiction A Conversation with Cassandra White Dennis Tafoya and Vulnerable Bad Guys Talking Criminal with Olivia Tejeda A Drop of Inspiration from David Redkey Lily Arias Talks with the Poet A Leap of Faith with Tressa Rini Morgan Henderson learns about the ‘Balcony’ Andre N. Jones: ‘All Things Are One’ Gabriella Rivera Interviews the Writer A Fan of Pham Cady McClellan Talks Art with Dylan Pham


AUTHOR’S ALCOVE

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Eunice Kim and the Beauty of Fiction A Conversation with Cassandra White Did you excel at English and writing as a child? Ever since I was a toddler, I've always loved writing—not only the mental act of expressing my ideas, but also the physical act of creating letters on paper. I read every novel I could during elementary school and started writing my own during middle school. Simply put, English and writing have always been my bread and butter. What is it that draws you to writing? There's something about writing that's so blessedly simple. In essence, writing is creating black marks on white paper, and all you need is a surface to write on and a tool to write with. Writing is the act of describing objects and phenomena, of striving towards perfection. I think the simplicity of this act is very beautiful. What inspires you as a writer? What inspires me to write is God, who speaks through circumstances, through the physical and imaginary worlds. Whenever I witness an act of injustice or an image of beauty, it stays in my head until I find an occasion to use it. So in a sense, I write as a witness to the universe. What is your educational background? I received my B.A. in English from Amherst College and my M.F.A. in Writing from Otis College of Art and Design.

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Eunice Kim’s story, “The Red Shawl,” is featured in the Fiction section.

How do your own personal experiences and observing the world around you shape your writing? I consider myself an overly observant person and, although this quality isn't very helpful to me in social situations, it gives me more to write about; the intensity with which I observe results in strong emotional reactions. For example, I can easily perceive when a person is being bullied no matter how subtle the bullying is, or I can look at a squirrel running around and become struck by its agility and beauty. These observations create emotions like anger or joy, respectively. What is your profession? Does it allow you to write full time, part time or just occasionally? I work at a tutoring academy, tutor privately, and sell items on eBay—I do just SPRING2015


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Do you use an outline when you are writing or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? For some reason, I'm not a fan of outlining. This could be due to my desire for simplicity and my distaste for creating anything that won't be a part of the finished product—which means I'd be a terrible construction worker, since I'd try to build a skyscraper without any scaffolding. What do you find most challenging about writing? What I find most difficult is the revising process because, of course, the act of revising is far less productive than the act of, well, producing. Should I use a subjunctive here? Or past perfect? These are the questions I find myself struggling with—the nitpicky ones.

experience has taught me that it's possible for passionless minds to produce passionate writing. In your opinion, what quality makes good fiction stand out? I'll give the vaguest answer ever: good fiction stands out because of its beauty. Bad fiction is created to serve man (by amusing them, stimulating them, assuaging their loneliness) but good fiction is created for itself, to be served by the author and the reader. Beauty exists for its own sake. What have you been working on recently? Currently, I am working on an essay that's a pastiche of Marcel Proust's "Place Names: The Name". My goal is to do to the Southwestern Peninsula of California exactly what Proust did to Normandy. Also, I am working on a novel that combines spirituality, noir, and other elements.

Do you ever have writer’s block, if so how do you get out of it?

Lastly, do you have any advice for any aspiring authors who are struggling to write their own fiction pieces?

I've never experienced writer's block, and it's probably because I've never felt that there's nothing to write about—there's always something. When I'm expected to write something but I'm not feeling convicted to write, I don't wait for that conviction to come; I look through my scrap folder (which contains page after page of abandoned writing) and find a sentence to start with. And if I don't feel passionate while writing it, I go back to it over and over again until the passion in the text builds up. Many people might disagree, but

I would tell my fellow authors that everything—and I mean everything—is a source of inspiration. Therefore, there's nothing wrong with writing something that doesn't seem golden, as long as it's the best that it can be, considering the circumstances. The ability to write is a gift and the more exercise it gets, the better. ■

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about whatever I can do, and am currently looking for more work. The current (and hopefully temporary) lightness of my workload allows me to write part-time.


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Dennis Tafoya and Vulnerable Bad Guys Talking Criminal with Olivia Tejeda You're known as a crime writer, and with good reason. Your writing has been described as noir, gritty, tough, devastating, and tender. "Tender" isn't often associated with crime thrillers. What is it about your writing that brings this out? I haven’t seen that ‘tender’ label, but I hope it reflects that I’m showing characters at vulnerable moments, even very hard or violent characters. I think the more you know about anyone, the more human they seem, the more like you they become, and the more it’s possible to recognize yourself in these people you might flee from if you ran across them in your actual life. I’m interested in people who struggle to stay in touch with their humanity or reclaim some dignity or self-worth. I remember watching a documentary about skinheads years ago, and there was a moment where in addition to showing these young, violent guys acting out, it became clear that these were also kids without functional families looking for a way to connect with other people who would care what happened to them. I’ve found that many times very dangerous people are actually, in their own minds, acting out a kind of sentimental dream. They’re dangerous because they can’t make the dream match reality, they don’t have the tools to do what most of us do, to make healthy connections with people. They try shortcuts, with mostly pretty tragic results. There is ongoing controversy around the trivialization of genre fiction. Ursula K. LeGuin recently slammed Kazuo Ishiguro for rejecting CANYONVOICES

Dennis Tafoya’s story, “This Is How They Met,” is featured in the Fiction section. the fantasy label on his new fantasy novel. As a crime writer, what’s your take on it? There’s a lot of controversy, a lot of deep feelings around these issues among my friends who write fiction labeled as ‘Crime’ or ‘Mystery’ or characterized as genre fiction in some way. I’m happy to be counted as a crime writer (some of my writing idols have been labeled that way) but I understand the sensitivity. There’s a persistent bias against genre writing that shows up whenever somebody from the literary community writes a ‘mystery’ novel and ends up saying something ridiculously dismissive in an interview. And there’s a fear, which I think is well-founded, that the genre in which your work is marketed will define the possibilities of the reading experience for critics and readers. The truth is that if you let yourself be guided by labels you’ll miss really great stuff. And personally, I’d die happy if I could write one novel that could stand with Strangers on a Train’ or The Big Sleep or The Killer Inside Me. That said, I can’t change the SPRING2015


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Yes! Baxter is great. He says not “overparent,” our characters, let them struggle and fail. Your characters definitely struggle and fail. In Dope Thief, Ray robs drug dealers, Orlando in The Wolves of Fairmount Park, CANYONVOICES

is a junkie tying to solve a murder. You’re a seemingly upstanding guy. What kind of research do you do to make these characters real? I read compulsively about crime, for one thing. I’m always trolling the internet looking for references to good books or long-form articles about real crime. Of course it’s not enough to read about the crimes themselves, I want to know what I can about the lives of criminals and cops. I want to know how they talk, how they view the world. If you read books like Edward Bunker’s Education of a Felon, you might not get a lot of useful information about the current crime scene in your town, but you’ll get a raw look at the psychology of a career criminal—the way he sees himself and his relationship to the world and to authority. “This is How They Met” is an excerpt from your upcoming novel Black Horse Pike. We see the instant connection between Allison and Wat. Do they have a happy ending? The idea for Black Horse Pike came out of a conversation I had a couple of years ago with two parole officers. I wanted to know about the process of reestablishing yourself after prison and when it works and when it doesn’t. The conversation was fascinating, and as is so frequently the case with research, what I learned was both surprising and really interesting and valuable. The novel is about two convicts, Wat and Rennie, who come out of prison in New Jersey - one is paroled out and the

other breaks out when he finds out his old partner is hoarding money from a robbery they had done together. Wat hopes to reconnect with his wife, Allison, who is going through her own struggles. I’m still writing it, so it remains to be seen how things all work out. I’m rooting for Wat and Allison, but the odds seem stacked against them. Who or what do you read to stoke your literary mojo? My own process (for good or ill) is guided more by the novels I love than by reading about how fiction works. There are authors I’ve gone back to many times, like Denis Johnson or Annie Proulx or Don DeLillo, but I wouldn’t say I write like any of those folks. It might sound weird, but I’m trying to force myself to stretch, and the folks whose work I keep touching display some-thing experimental (if that’s the right word), something risky. I think if I’m constantly getting prodded to reach more, I’m going to do better and more interesting work. What are you reading now? I have a stack of books on my nightstand, like all the writers I know. I just finished a fantastic collection by Will Ludwigsen, called In Search Of and Others. Wonderful tales with a lot of empathy for his characters and affection for the kind of crazy stuff that obsessed me when I was a kid—the old ‘In Search Of’ show, Charles Fort, the Loch Ness Monster. And I’m re-reading Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson, which was one of my favorite books from last year. ■ SPRING2015

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way I write, no matter what I hope to produce. I was really heartened by a piece in the New York Times about Richard Price and his new book The Whites. Price said he had hoped to knock out a book quickly, to turn it around in a few months and get something commercial out to the market - he’d even come up with a pseudonym so that the book could stand alone. What he found, though, was he still produced a “Richard Price” book, a complex book full of rich and fully-realized characters in difficult moral terrain. It still took him years to write and the process was the same as it had been for all of his other great stuff. I got that completely. I want to write commercial work— I want to write for the widest audience I can reach, but the process is always going to be same (and always WAY too slow). What I produce is for others to judge, but the internal process that gets my fingers going on the keyboard is (I think) always about finding something interesting to say. There’s a great essay by Charles Baxter about ‘defamiliarization,’ which really lit up my brain - the idea of making the familiar new and interesting. When I’m sitting at the computer, whether I’m successful or not, I’m trying do exactly that.


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A Drop of Inspiration from David Redkey Lily Arias Talks with the Poet How long have you been writing? I have been writing creatively since my senior year in high school, but I pushed it to the wayside for the most part until this semester. Before returning to college to pursue my bachelor's degree, I wrote reviews about computer games for a few niche websites. Looking over my former articles, I can see the foundation for my style, but I lacked the experience to really play around with language. Do you only write poetry? I currently write poems, but I am also working on short stories, as well. What was your inspiration for “Kemetic Medical Practices?” My inspiration came from the transformations people have throughout their lives, applying the concept of "bleeding" to mean a more metaphorical cleansing of the soul, striving to better one's self by letting go of past experiences. From an evolutionary perspective, the human brain is constructed to put greater importance on negative experiences, helping us to keep from repeating the same mistakes. A common belief is when people die, the life that flashes before their eyes is of the negative experiences, the regrets, times that held them down. From my own belief, why I wrote the poem, I feel the importance of removing regret's shackles and moving forward. Do all of your pieces have personal meaning? Every piece I write has a meaning to me. I just take my

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David Redkey’s writing is featured in the Poetry section.

own experiences, my own ideas and try to craft them into a work that either myself or someone else may enjoy. In a way, I find writing as a means of enjoyment or catharsis, depending on my mood at the time of writing. Lastly, do you have any advice for authors who are struggling to write their own creative piece? Having felt the touch of writer's block myself, I find caring about the topic (or subject) of the piece, I mean really caring about the topic/subject of the piece is easiest way to allow the work to culminate into a finished product. Looking at other famous writers, the crème de la crème find inspiration in an experience, even adding it to a "work-inprogress," transforming the work into something grander. If you are having difficulties finishing a piece, why not add a little more "you" and see what happens? ■

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Morgan Henderson learns about the ‘Balcony’ Where are you from? I am thoroughly a Phoenician. Completely and utterly a quintessential Arizona kid. I’m the kind of kid that thinks 60 degrees Fahrenheit is winter. The kind of kid who thinks not having an air conditioner is nye unto barbaric. I spent every second of my formative childhood in the Valley of the Sun. A fact which use to make me resent this state. As a child I always wanted to live somewhere large and important. But as much as I ardently wished it, I could never truly picture myself anywhere but here. I think I just wanted to BE large and important. But all of these delusions of the brilliance of distant cities dissipated when I tried to navigate the freeway systems of other states. It was then that I swore never-ending fealty to the Loop-101 and have never had a desire to leave since. What or who inspired “Balcony?” “Balcony” is a terribly true story. A true story about the most perfect boy I had ever met. A boy who immediately gave me that opinion of his character and over the span of eight years has not given me reason to waiver from this premature perception. It’s about a boy who I wanted to love before I knew what love really was, a boy who I wanted to understand before I even knew he was a puzzle. But mostly it’s about the night my best friend let me know I didn’t have to let the word “unrequited” hang over my life like a haze. Is this story about you, or about someone else? This story is about me. Written by me four years after the incident in question. So I guess really it’s about me writing about a totally CANYONVOICES

Tressa Rini’s story, “Balcony,” is featured in the Creative Non-Fiction section. different version of myself. Me writing a truthful reminiscences and feelings that resurface in blinding clarity every time the moment is recreated and every time I nostalgically look at that balcony. What happens after the night on the balcony? After that nightlife kept happening and sometimes life is so horribly complicated, so tremendously large. I use to think time was more like a bomb. Just a count down to destruction, a veritable tally of failures. Every day that passes is another day you didn’t succeed. But then there were so many beautiful truthful days that happened after that night. After that night he taught me to both appreciate and hate time. I hated that it passed, but saw the value in its moments. The success passing moments can have. And then one December 5th he was my boyfriend. (That was highly anticlimactic. I should make him marry me or something so I can end this SPRING2015

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A Leap of Faith with Tressa Rini


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Tressa Rini Continued

question with something more dramatic like, “ and then one day he asked me to let time pass by in shared moments for the rest of our forever.” But while that event is pending the sentiment is true) Did you learn anything from writing “Balcony?” I’m not really sure. Writing it was raw and impulsive, like all my other journal entries. So at the time if just felt like another egocentric journal entry. When did you begin writing and why? Do you have a specific writing style? I’ve always had a journal as far back as I can remember. Even before I could write I would have my mom take dictation for me. Up until I was about 18 my journals were the most dull and rote accounts of daily life. When I realized how much my posterity would hate me if they had to soldier through another boring account of my daily schedule, I actively chose to take a different approach. I started basing my entries off my feelings , my opinions, or my impressions on the literature I was currently reading. My writing became substantially more fulfilling, to say the least. Since then I have filled multiple journals with my musings and dissections. CANYONVOICES

When I recount factual events such as “Balcony” I like to do it through the scope of flowery reflection. I write to entertain and impress myself. I know I never want to go back and read “Today Michael kissed me. It was great.” My style is imagery based and highly focused on word choice. I like to think I purposefully mean every word I use. I do struggle to find the proper balance between writing how I talk or writing how I would talk if I was surrounded by my favorite authors. I have this rambling way about me. In real life, I finish many of my sentences with sound effects or hand motions. I try to reconcile the two when I am writing but I think it simply makes for a disjointed body of work with conversational, pausing, rambling satire, or flowery, emotive, and sentimental musings. I do consistently use alliteration, it is by far my favorite writing tool. I also purposefully switch between 1st and 2nd person point of view. It’s a freedom I love about creative writing. Switching voices feels like a natural way to write for me because I think it’s how I truly view the world. Without sounding to trite I do often feel like a Nick Carraway, “within and without.” I see my life and I know it is mine, but sometimes in reflection I critique and observe me more than I am me. It’s a way to improperly use a tool to properly relate my sentiments.

Who influenced the way you write the most? There are quite a few but specifically for this piece I would have to say F. Scott Fitzgerald and Markus Zusak. The general feeling and pretentious overtone of romanticizing an already romantic moment I derived after binge reading Fitzgerald’s collected works. The idea that small moments are made grand by imagery and ego and eternity. The idea of a more broken cadence and unconventional voice is something Zusak does with such perfection, I don’t even come close to emulating it, but I do try. What books did you enjoy as a child, and what books do you enjoy now? I’ve always loved books, even as a toddler I would take all of my books off my shelf and arrange them in a pile around me. I loved Dr. Seuss, and every night I would do dramatic readings at bedtime. The one I read with the most vehemence was Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! I was a fan of Tomi Ungerer’s Crictor. It’s a wonder my mom didn’t hide it after I made her read it to me the first billion times. I was also enamored with Beatrix Potter and still have my original collection of her books on my shelf. As I grew older I became an avid member of the Harry Potter generation. As for the books I read now, I re-read Fitzgerald way too often. But I recently read the entire collected works of Oscar Wilde SPRING2015


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Where do your ideas come from? My own experiences, watching people, deep reflection about the people I love, deeper dissection about the people I hate. This is actually one of my only fully formed pieces that doesn’t have a snarky satirical vibe. Most of my cleverly worded ideas stem from people I find reprehensible. What do you think is the most difficult part about writing? Organizing my ideas in a way that flows and isn’t too scattered. I also struggle with redundancy. I know that if anyone else were to read my journal they would find it highly repetitive and derivative. I also become easily influenced by what I am currently reading and struggle to keep my own voice when I would rather defer to the voice of a genius. How do you think you have evolved creatively? I use to think I had no creativity. I wanted to be creative so I would CANYONVOICES

surround myself with creative hobbies and creative people and glean creative ideas. But I never felt I quite fit, or even when I felt like I fit I was pretty convinced it was all an act based on my desire to be something I was not. It was actually the boy from “Balcony” that taught me what creativity really is. Growing up I had piano lessons, but I was horrid. Horrid in that I couldn’t sight read very well and was an inconsistent practicer. He was magic and could just sit down at a piano, touch a few keys, and create something beautiful right on the spot. I thought this was witchcraft or just another testament that he was some kind of god sent down to spy on us mere mortals. But then he sat me down and made me play. I hated what I played, it sounded nothing like his, therefore it was garbage. But then he told me that creativity and creation is unique: unique to every person. Anything I made was wholly mine no matter what I thought no matter how much I doubted. I’ve since found that I am not terrible at piano and other humans find my music to be pleasing.

What advice would you give your younger self? I wish so badly I could go back and tell 14 year old me that having a lot of friends is exhausting. So crying about not having enough friends is absolutely stupid. I would also tell my younger self that later in life my nemesis gets into law school, so I shouldn’t let my guard down just because of that time I heard he was failing classes during his undergrad. Are you currently working on anything? I have a few things I have been actively working on, and by that I mean writing repetitive entries in my journal. One is called “Whores for Hire” and it’s about things I don’t like about most girls I meet. The other is an expose about my grade school principal and her abusive mannerisms, it will be called “Dear Linda.” And I will perpetually be writing an embarrassing amount of praise for the kid I’m in love with. ■

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and am still in awe of his brilliance. It wasn’t just his fiction that spoke to me, but his critical essays. His essays led me to delve into some more contemporary essayists such as Chuck Klosterman. I thoroughly enjoyed his pessimistic snark. My favorite contemporary author is Markus Zusak, if he doesn’t write a new book soon I’m going to die. I’ve also read all of John Green’s work and desperately want to become friends with him.


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Gabriella Rivera Interviews the Writer Our readers were deeply enthralled by the distinctive characters in your play “Exhibited.” In the play, Clara is described as an “autistic visual art genius.” Her speech and social abilities are limited, but she is able to express herself exceptionally well through her art. What was the inspiration behind her character? The character Clara was actually inspired by two of my nephews. I wanted to challenge myself to write the character as a female who was born at a time when autism was not recognized as a “different ability” but as a form of schizophrenia. In the play, you also tackle a series of societal issues about race and equality. Stevie, Clara’s father, for instance, faced great adversity throughout his life, yet his spirit remained strong. Was there any particular inspiration behind his character or life experiences? Yes. In many generations of my family, fathers have not necessarily become who they wanted to be, but they found joy and hope in the promise of their children, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren etc.

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Andre N. Jones wrote “Exhibited.” The play is featured the Scripts section. You possess a distinguishing ability to combine elements of music into your writing. What has led you to experiment with such techniques? In the tradition of storytelling, taught to me by my grandmother, all things are one. So, life, music, art, and circumstances are all one form of artistic intention and expression. If art imitates life then the art has to be one, just as life is one. The play itself is over 60 pages. Take us through your writing process for this play. Did you have a specific outline from the start, or did you allow your ideas to guide you? I did have an outline. However, my process actually came out of

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Andre N. Jones: ‘All Things Are One’


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writing the first scene, and immediately finishing that, I wrote the end scene. Because I knew the beginning and end were strong, it made it easier to write the scene, that is “the point of no return.” From there, writing the middle becomes easy. Do you use a similar process for each piece that you create? No. Each piece has its own challenges. I try to organize my ideas but give my work enough space to grow organically. What is it that attracted you to playwriting/screenwriting? I've been writing plays/screenplays for about eight years. What attracted me to it was the fact that I was already an actor and I wanted to see more plays/movies/television that reflected people who look like me. So I decided to write them.

Are you currently working on other projects? Yes. I just finished my first draft of a piece entitled Bathsalt Army. It is a wildly theatrical piece set at the genesis of a zombie apocalypse. However, it is more a commentary on the effects of greed bred by capitalism. Also, I am currently working on a piece I tiled Solving for X. It is a verbal portrait, if you will, of the late human rights leader, Malcolm X. Lastly, what inspires you as a writer? Anything can inspire me. Sometimes it's lyrics of a song, a conversation, news stories... Or it could be a pattern, an environment, or trying to write down the story I see in a painting or photograph. Whatever the case maybe, I try to interpret the vibrations that come from it and compose it into art. ■

Images: Pixabay.com

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Cady McClellan Talks Art with Dylan Pham You began drawing and making art at a very young age. What inspired you to begin and to continue your creations? My parents started showing me how to draw simple butterflies and trains at the age of four. It was so much fun that I would keep asking them to show me how to draw other things. Many of my inspirations came from the TV shows and movies I watched. I loved watching fantasy movies with mythical creatures such as dragons. Most of my drawings when I was younger were of dragons and winged-creatures. What is your favorite type of medium to work with? My favorite medium to work with is definitely watercolor. I started working with watercolor two years ago. I love how the water can make the paint flow in so many different ways, allowing me to make special textures in my pieces. I also find it very easy to mix the paint and build up layers in a painting. When viewing your work, I feel as if it was created with a lot of emotion and passion. What motives do you have when you work? Most of the time, I have an idea beforehand and try to work my painting towards that CANYONVOICES

one idea. Sometimes my painting might turn into a new and better idea. Many of my watercolor paintings are portraits. I became really interested in the human face and emotions while I was a senior in high school. While painting these portraits, I think of a particular emotion and what message or story I want to portray in the painting. Do you ever struggle to find inspiration or is this something that comes natural to you? Yes, there are times where I find myself in a situation called an “art block”. It’s where I can’t think of any new ideas. What I do to get inspiration is to look through many different pieces of art from art-websites and hope a new idea will come forth into my mind. I also find inspiration from just looking at the things around me, especially in nature. If I see an interesting looking flower for example, I can think of many ways to transform it into something new in a painting. As an artist, what is one thing that you dream of doing? I have always wanted to be a part in designing films such as Avatar, Transformers and the Disney films. I also would love to design characters and

Dylan Pham’s watercolor paintings are featured in the Artwork section. creatures for different types of video games. I am currently practicing digital painting so I can further develop my skills in this media. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists? Find something that really interests you and work with it. Practice a lot! Try to make at least one piece of artwork a day if you can. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece; a simple pencilsketch is totally fine! Also, whenever you have an idea, write it down somewhere. I have a long list of ideas on my phone because I don’t want to think of a great idea, and then forget about it. ■ SPRING2015

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A Fan of Pham


ABOUTUS C

ANYON VOICES LITERARY MAGAZINE

is a burgeoning journal dedicated to displaying the works of emerging and established writers and artists. Founded in the spring of 2010 at Arizona State University’s West campus by one professor and six students, this journal strives to bring the creativity of its writers and artists to light within the community and beyond. Supported by students and faculty of ASU’s New College (HArCS), CANYON VOICES accepts writing and art from undergraduates, graduates, faculty members, and the community. The work of maintaining and producing this magazine is entirely student driven. Since its formation, CANYON VOICES has expanded into a full credit, hands-on class, offered through Arizona State University West. Students build a full literary journal each semester, heading every aspect of production, including soliciting submissions, editing, marketing, design and layout, and publication. We eagerly anticipate further involvement from students interested in magazine publication for our future issues.

OUR MISSION Canyon Voices provides an online environment to highlight emerging and established voices in the artistic community. By publishing works that engender thought, Canyon Voices seeks to enrich the scope of language, style, culture, and gender.

CONTACTUS Questions, comments, feedback? We would like to hear from you. Contact us via email at: CanyonVoicesLitMag@gmail.com. You can also visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asucanyonvoices.

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SUBMISSIONGUIDELINES To submit your work, please send it to CanyonVoicesLitMag@gmail.com. Be sure to attach all the work you wish to submit to the email. You may include an author biography and a photo, which will be included on your page should your work be chosen for publication. Because we are affiliated with Arizona State University, we uphold academic standards. If your work is accepted we reserve the right to make minor superficial changes (ie: grammar, punctuation, etc.). You will be contacted should your work require more than basic edits. We accept simultaneous submissions.

Fiction

Up to two (2) stories per issue. Each story may be 20 pages or fewer, double spaced, standard font, and a title.

Poetry

Up to six (6) may be submitted (no longer than two pages each) per issue. All poems must have a title.

Creative Non-Fiction

Up to four (4) stories per issue. Two stories may be 20 pages or fewer, double spaced, standard font, and a title.

Scripts

Up to two (2) scripts may be submitted per issue. A maximum of a 15 page script can be submitted. All pieces must have a title.

Artwork

Up to ten (10) pieces, with a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch (dpi) or JPEG format that is less than 1 MB. All submissions must have a title and detail on medium used.

EXPLICITMATERIALS Because this is a university magazine, submissions containing sexually explicit material and explicit language will be reviewed and determined eligible for publishing depending on the context of the material in the work. Material deemed inappropriate or gratuitous will be rejected.

READINGPERIOD Our editors read submissions in August, September, and October for the fall issue. The reading period re-opens in January, February, and March for the spring issue.


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Julie Amparano | Publisher Julie Amparano is the founder, publisher, and advisor of the Canyon Voices Literary team. Serving in the School of Humanity Arts and Cultural Studies at ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Prof. Amparano oversees the school's Writing Certificate and teaches a variety of writing courses that include scriptwriting, cross-cultural writing, fiction, persuasive writing, and others. She received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University in Los Angeles in 2006 and is working on a collection of short stories.

Bruce Kimura | Co-Editor-in-Chief, Copy Chief Bruce Kimura is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Canyon Voices. A lover of stories, he believes that there is truth in fiction. He graduates from ASU in the Spring of 2015 with a Bachelor's in English, and plans to pursue a career in academia. When he is not working as intern at Chicanos Por La Causa or as a writing tutor at ASU, he enjoys following the Phoenix Suns, exploring music, and writing when he can.

Cady McClellan | Co-Editor-in-Chief, Art Director Currently mastering in English, Cady is an inquisitive soul who has a neverending passion for discovering the impeccable forms of words used in language and text. She is aware that because of the existence of language, we as humans are capable of unimaginable possibilities. While she does enjoy writing, she has recently become interested in the processes of editing and publishing. Someday, Cady hopes to explore the world while spreading a positive influence with her love for words.

Olivia Tejeda | Managing Editor, Design Director, Lead Fiction Editor Olivia’s passion for words began when she was eight years old and was captured by Where the Wild Things Are at the school library. The wild rumpus carried her through careers in journalism, editing, and publishing. After earning a bachelor’s in English at ASU, she will move on to New York or Paris to do her graduate work. But no matter where she goes or what she does, she will also be writing, because she knows that words, like the Wild Things, must roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth, and she loves to let them. CANYONVOICES

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Editor – Fiction

| Alexis Burnett

When not working as a barista, Alexis Burnett majors in English and is a fiction editor at Canyon Voices. After dabbling at NAU as a Journalism major, she transferred to ASU West and found meaning in furthering the development of writers and the literary community. Now, she wants to go into working in publishing and eventually work as a professor. She writes mainly short stories, poetry, and fantasy novels. Her few other hobbies include blogging about writing, reading and editing others’ writing, playing games, and doodling

Editor – Fiction

| Kate Currie

Kate Currie has been a paradox of interests for most of her schooling. Now a senior at ASU, she’ll be graduating with a Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Computing and a Certificate of Creative Writing in Spring of 2015. She’s been writing creatively since she was twelve and coding with programming languages since sixteen. Looking to the future, she intends to earn a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and find a way to marry her computer with her imagination, because even S.T.E.M. fields deserve dragons and heroes.

Editor – Fiction

| Melanie Wheelan

Melanie Wheelen is a senior at ASU West who is earning her B.A. in English, as well as a Creative Writing Certificate. She plans to write fiction after she graduates in December of 2015. Having High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome, she hopes to write especially for those on the Autistic Spectrum, providing encouragement and confidence.

Editor – Fiction |

Cassandra White

Cassandra White believes in the power of the written word and its ability to impact those who embrace it. As a typical Pacific Northwest native, she enjoys the rain, cooking, hiking, and traveling, but always has either a book or her laptop in her hands, blogging or working on a story. Cassandra is a student at ASU pursuing a degree in English and minoring in Communication. After graduating in spring 2016, she will go into an MFA program in order to become an English professor. Her long term goal is to move overseas to study for her doctorate and teach in the United Kingdom. CANYONVOICES

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Jonathan Smith | Lead Editor – Poetry Jonathan Smith is a senior at ASU West studying Secondary Education in History and minoring in English Literature. His experiences in the Army have led him to pursue a career in teaching at the high school level where he intends to teach History and English. Jonathan’s desire to learn is a testament to his personal motto passed down from his mentors: Don’t get mad, get better. Jonathan hopes to instill that drive in his students. This is Jonathan’s second term with Canyon Voices, and he wishes to bring a similar product to area high schools. Literature and History work well together and he hopes to show students how the two can be merged to better enjoy both.

Lily Arias | Editor – Poetry Lily Arias is a student at Arizona State University. She is set to graduate this spring with a B.A. in Social and Behavioral Science. After completing her B.A. she then plans to work on her Master’s in Counseling with an emphasis in Rehabilitation and Mental Health. At Canyon Voices, Lily serves as an editor of poetry. Aside from being a student, Lily is an advocate for the American Heart Association. She takes part in their annual heart walk in Phoenix, and spreads awareness about heart health.

Jonathan Kistner | Editor – Poetry Jonathan Kistner is a Junior at ASU's New College, majoring in English with a minor in Film and Media Productions at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. He also plans to obtain a creative writing certificate through ASU. Currently, Jonathan works as a respite and habilitation care provider. In his freetime he enjoys hiking, working out, being with friends, and having a good time.

Abigail Timmons | Editor – Poetry Abigail Timmons is pursuing a BA in English, set to graduate in 2017. In addition to her plans of pursuing a career in editing and publishing, she is also a poet and aspiring novelist. When not busy as a full time student who is heavily involved in residential life on the ASU West campus, she devotes all her spare time to developing her skills as a writer. Being a part of the Poetry team for Canyon Voices has given her some experience in the editing and publishing world, while allowing her to get her daily fix of diverse, beautiful poetry.

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Lead Editor – Creative Nonfiction |

Morgan Henderson

Pursuing a bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Arts with an emphasis in English has increased Morgan Henderson's passion and commitment to helping writers develop and complete their literary works. This passion has also driven her to explore her own writing in an effort to express herself as well as further understand the process some authors go through. After acquiring her degree from ASU New College, she aspires to travel and discover authors in other cities across the world. Lead Editor – Creative Nonfiction

| Megan Kizer

Megan Kizer is currently a student at Arizona State University earning a BA in English through the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. She is also earning a certificate in writing for publishing and editing. Presently, she is an intern at The Pen Project and the lead creative non-fiction editor of Canyon Voices. Upon graduation, she hopes to secure a career in publishing and editing.

Editor – Creative Nonfiction |

Sayed Karimi

Sayed Karimi developed a passion for English when he was a junior in high school. Although he is more of a critical writer, Sayed also enjoys writing poetry. He is a sophomore at ASU pursuing a degree in English. His future plans are to publish his books, help others become better writers, and to continue on to get a master's of fine arts.

Editor – Creative Nonfiction |

Honor Soluri-Whelan

Honor Soluri-Whelan is a Southern California native and U.S. Army veteran. When she's not at the gym or watching horror movies, she attends ASU West as an undergraduate English major. Honor hopes to earn a BA and an MA, in English and hopes to have a career in publishing and editing following her graduation.

Editor – Creative Nonfiction |

Sybil Tracey

Sybil Tracey is currently a sophomore at ASU West majoring in English with a minor in Art. Whilst having a love for various works of literature, Sybil is also interested in Photo Journalism, which she hopes may be intertwined with her English studies in some way. In her spare time she enjoys playing the piano and guitar, dancing, working with animals, and hanging out with friends. CANYONVOICES

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Nicholas Hall | Lead Editor – Scripts Nicholas Hall is an English major who transferred from LATTC, he is expected to graduate in the spring semester of 2016. Nicholas’ passion was initially to teach at the collegiate level, but since digging into the realm of words it has developed into a love for scriptwriting. After graduating from ASU he plans to work towards a PhD in English with a focus on creative writing. He also plans to develop parodies, and his dream is to have his own Netflix series; when he isn’t writing, doing homework or enjoying live music, he is on a Netflix binge.

Melissa Selleys | Lead Editor – Scripts Melissa is a 22 year old student of English Linguistics at Arizona State. This is her second semester working with Canyon Voices, and her second experience with the Scripts team. Melissa hopes to graduate at the beginning of next year, following a Study Abroad program to Lincolnshire, England this summer. Following that, she hopes to complete graduate school to gain a Master's degree with an emphasis in publishing. When Melissa is not at school, she enjoys pampering her dogs, reading everything she can get her

Megan Huffman | Editor – Scripts Megan is a junior pursuing a bachelor’s in English. After graduation, she wants to further her education with a master's degree but, with a broad range of interests ranging from editing to biblical interpretation, she has not yet settled on an area of study. In the end, she hopes to one day move out to Massachusetts and that by being surrounded by the homes of famous literary figures, she too can write something that will be raved about, but only 60 years after her death.

Gabriela Rivera| Editor – Scripts Gabriela Rivera, currently a junior at ASU, graduates in December 2016 with a B.A in Post-Secondary English Education. Since childhood, Gabriela has had an immense love for reading, writing, research, and literature. As a future educator, she aspires to instill a deep appreciation for such things in her students. Her goal is to earn a Master’s in Library Science where she can aid in the development of literacy programs and join the evolving field of librarianship. Outside of college and work, she enjoys dancing and cherishes moments spent with family, friends and her loving husband. CANYONVOICES

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Famous Typewriters in History And some writers

LANGSTON HUGHES ERNEST HEMINGWAY

WILLIAM MULLOY

GWENDOLYN BROOKS

AALE TYNNI

DOROTHY PARKER

A MONKEY

WILLIAM FAULKNER

Keep Writing! The reading period for the Fall issue opens in August.

Submit! CANYONVOICES L I T E R A R Y

M A G A Z I N E


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