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Electric Rather

Issue 02

April 2013

A Literary Magazine

Electric Rather is a fledling literary magazine with a vibrant spirit. We publish original poetry, prose, art, and photography. We publish new and innovative writers that challenge the boundaries of what is considered “good art.” We seek raw, intense, and emotional pieces that give us hope for the future of literature and art. Electric Rather may be a small magazine now, but we have big dreams. We’re passionate about this magazine and want to see it grow. Our goal is to spread fantastic unknown literature and art wherever possible. We’ve sacrificed our free time to bring this amazing issue to the world, and we’re immensely proud of it. This issue features poetry by Alan D Harris, Steven Kain, Miriam Sagan, Anne Britting Oleson, Colin Campbell, Troy Baillargeon, J.S. MacLean, Brendan Sullivan, and Valentina Cano; fiction by Andira Dodge and David Stockdale; and art and photography by Summer Jennings, Rachel Siegfried, Esko, and John Markowski. Please visit electricrather.tumblr.com for more information about our wonderful contributors. Submissions are always welcome. Please email them to electricrather@gmail.com. If you wish to contact us, you can also use this email. Visit our website at electricrather.tumblr.com or look us up on duotrope.com. Thank you for reading!


Letter from the Editor

I created this magazine because I have a passion for literature and art. As a

young writer, I know how difficult it can be to publish your work. I hope that this magazine will give inexperienced writers and artists the confidence they need to keep submitting, and to keep creating original art. As an editor, I’m careful to retain the integrity of each piece so that the author’s intention is never altered. I spent a lot of time meticulously tweaking each piece, and I’m very proud of the results. The pieces in this magazine are unique and vivid expressions of love, angst, alienation, and humor. I hope that this magazine is as visually and intellectually pleasing to you as it is to me.

I would like to take a moment to explain this issue’s cover art. After mulling

over other ideas, I came up with a simple image: a girl sleeping in a forest with mushrooms growing on her back. I sought John Markowski to draw my fairytale concept because I’m somewhat inept at drawing. He translated my idea into the two lovely drawings that serve as this issue’s first and last pages. The drawing is perfectly morbid and funny. The way she’s positioned her body as if she’s given up, the way the rain is pouring on her; it’s all beautifully fairytale. I loved the drawings immediately, and spent hours vectorizing and coloring the images into the versions that stand today. I’m proud of this cover because it evokes so many questions in my mind about the girl’s backstory. I’d like to think she’s a runaway princess having an out-of-body experience, but the beauty of art is that anyone can interpret it the way they’d like. I think that this drawing, like the other pieces in this issue, inspire unlimited creativity.

As you read this issue, I hope that you question the depth of each piece. Litera-

ture and art have endless meanings and levels. I sincerely thank you for giving this magazine a chance and I hope that you enjoy our contributors’ pieces as much as I do. -Barbi Moroz


Table of contents Poetry Alan D Harris: “Quantum Mechanics” ............................................................................ P. 2 Steven Kain: “I Will Wait for You” ................................................................................... P. 3 Miriam Sagan: “Aquifier” .................................................................................................. P. 6 Anne Britting Oleson: “On the Oxford Coach” .............................................................. P. 7 Colin Campbell: “Sex and Violence and Old Ladies” .................................................... P. 10 Troy Baillargeon: “un d ny uh bly un cunt rollable” ....................................................... P. 11 J.S. MacLean: “Legacy” ...................................................................................................... P. 14 Brendan Sullivan: “Girl as Building” ............................................................................... P. 16 Valentina Cano: “Alien” ..................................................................................................... P. 18


Photography and Art Summer Jennings: “s a u d a d e” ..................................................................................... P. 1 Rachel Siegfried: “Engineer’s Coffee Pot” ....................................................................... P. 5 Rachel Siegfried: “Shattered” ........................................................................................... P. 7-8 Esko: “1970s Collection” .................................................................................................. P. 9 Esko: “A New World” ........................................................................................................ P. 12 Cover designs by John Markowski and Barbi Moroz. Graphic design and all other photography by Barbi Moroz.

Fiction Andira Dodge: “The Mall is a Melting Pot” ............................................................... P. 19-20 David Stockdale: “Scrambled Eggs” ........................................................................... P. 21-24


s a u d a d e Summer Jennings


Quantum Mechanics Alan D Harris

We’ve been around forever, you and I dancing together, dust to flesh and back again, while heart beats and solar winds provide a cosmic rhythm where satellites, soul mates, and kindred spirits orbit to the beat of blind faith

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I Will wait for you Steven Kain

While the worst of friends superglue the dead leaves back on the noon November tr the heavy-holding body architects do pull ups on the half-hanging moon, bringing it down for the teenage Latino skateboarders to use as a half-pipe. The mothers milk their spirits for their husbands, children, strangers, until their bones are weak and fragile, as the intellectuals become so self-aware they forget who they are. And everyone around me tries to fill the void with God, love, and or sex drugs death emptiness chaos chaos chaos. The old men linger by the pretty young waitresses they are too late to fool. I will wait for you like the fly stuck in the cobweb waits for peace of mind, in the amount of cigarettes it takes to give one hundred hopeless French lovers lung in an hour glass large enough to hold all the sand on the earth. I was always the last kid dropped off of the school bus, waiting for the others to reach their destination.


rees,

cancer,


Rachel Siegfried

Engineer’s Coffee Pot


Aquifier Miriam Sagan Today might be a redundant map— position vis a vis this morning’s dream— and don’t tell me to relax. Consider what rain might do to memory: smear it, or wash away the false narrative layer beneath the clouds’ black and purple touched with chrome yellow. Christo plans to hang this gorge with a curtain that like water or regret might sweep away the expected, if only temporarily. Wasn’t this landscape mostly in the end about water, its secrets, its subterranean caverns, its lack.

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On the oxford coach Anne Britting Oleson

Outbound, northward, past familiar neighborhoods, the sun dies, drowning helplessly in this rain which, she’s been told, has been raining every day. Her own gloom is disguised fear, the fright of a woman suddenly unmoored, leaving the safety of friends, cut free by a waving purple sleeve above the crowd at Marylebone. Now, on the coach to Oxford, without a clue as to the stops and which one she should ring for. All this to meet a man she doesn’t know, to hitch a ride to a town she’s never seen, to weekend with a woman who is a stranger in all things but temperament. Oxford: she’s been there, hopes to find something she recognizes—but the what-ifs crowd her vision just as the clouds overhead crowd the sky, and she wonders, not for the first time, what she’s even doing here. When she wipes a shaky hand across the fogged window, her reflection stares back: a pale face just saved from timidity by the stubborn set of the jaw.


Shattered Rachel Siegfried

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1970s collection Esko


Sex and Violence and Old Ladies Colin Campbell

So most of the books in the world are bought by old ladies, we’re told. Which means in the absence of sex and violence, the books might never be sold.

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un d ny uh bly un cunt rollable Troy Baillargeon

s’render luna w/o the shit inner teeth QQ - this time one terrible hawk’s call; scares lesser birds into hiding grey noon luna, a raptor not to be found so easily. grey noon luna, the food is comeawayonaboatIhope

you like it most of all.


A new world Esko

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Legacy J.S. MacLean

We sow ghosts in dreams of dust and sea; tempest hail blurs submissive mud, wake wave inklings shimmer-titter down the shore of a balmy night.

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Girl as building Brendan Sullivan


I fell in love with your architecture, the cross beams of your cartilage; how your tendons knotted over nerves like girders, holding up your arms and the supple curve of neck: a room unto itself. The doors and windows of you open and each brick is a voice that resonates my mortar. The simple stairs of your legs lead me skyward, where shoulders meet like corridors, and I find myself taking up residence.

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Alien Valentina Cano

I might never get past this. I might always be stuck between years, limbs in different countries, trying to find a space to fill. I’m locked in place, scanning, with eyes that have never seen home, for something that glitters with memories. Anything that will bounce an echo through my walls.

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The Mall is a melting Pot Andira Dodge

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Let’s head to the mall. This sentence has had different connotations at different times of my life. As a kid, I saw the original Star Wars movie at a mall. Paired with stops at KB Toys and the bookstore, it made for a good day. But being dragged there to buy clothes or shoes? I was more of a tomboy so that kind of shopping never had strong appeal to me. Not much has really changed. I’d rather skip clothes and shoes to head straight for Barnes & Noble. Browsing books, sampling lotions at Bath & Body Works, grabbing a pretzel, sitting on a bench and watching people walk by; there are worse ways to spend your time. As a teen, the mall was the common backdrop for a first date. I remember the butterflies-inthe-stomach feeling of holding hands for the first time at a movie, going to the arcade, and finishing the date with a sweet slushy and kiss. Now, I see teen girls carrying those distinctive pink Victoria’s Secret bags, walking with boys who wear their hats askew and their pants halfway to their knees. They adopt expressions of indifference, showing interest in each other via sideways glances and texts. Maybe that’s their version of romance. If I ask my husband to go shopping (which I usually don’t), his eyes widen in panic. I know he envisions himself heading into battle, forced to face crowds and parking lot kamikazes. Swerving, bobbing, picking and juking, dodging the crazies driving erratically between fast sprints and parade-pace. He probably also balks because he realizes he’s not too far away from being like the old men riding in their jazzy scooters, carrying their wives’ shit. It’s not his favorite way to spend a Saturday. I think of walking through the mall as walking through the midway at the fair; smells, sights, sounds emanate from each store and there are freaks everywhere I look. It’s a melting pot of freaks. On a recent trip, I found myself parked between a shiny BMW and a dirty Dodge Ram with mud flaps adorned with silhouettes of naked women and a slew of vulgar bumper stickers. Inside, I watched a woman walk out of Hollister holding the hand of a toddler terrified of the dark and maybe the overpriced trendy clothing. Music from my teen age years was playing as muzak, which made me feel old. An Indian man working at a kiosk lunged toward me, and every other woman within reach, trying to get us to sample his placenta lotion. The smells of nail polish and perm chemicals wafted out of a Chinese spa. A frazzled-looking woman was pulled toward the candy store by her small child tethered to her by a freaking leash. (Yes, a leash. Somehow this is legal.) I turned from the Midway to the Big Top department store. I was first accosted by the obnoxious scent of too much perfume; so many samples were sprayed in an olfactory jumble that the store entrance smelled like a whorehouse (at least I imagine, having never been in a den of iniquity, I can’t be sure). I tried not to look directly at the makeup ladies, since they often remind me of the clown from Stephen King’s It. Unfortunately, one purpose of my trip was to get a new bra. This is torturous for many reasons. Just when a bra is broken in and feeling good, it decides to let itself go. I guess my girls gave the underwire a bit too much stress. I wandered around the confusing and embarrassing bra racks. An older female sales clerk with a hint of a mustache and a measuring tape around her neck approached me,


declaring that only one in ten women have bras that fit them correctly. When I explained I didn’t need help, she persisted with the suggestion that I would look lovely in a pink and black negligee. I wanted to ignore her, but somehow being around unmentionables breeds familiarity, so I told her as nicely as possible that I would never wear such an item. Maybe the red? she asked hopefully. I said, truthfully, that my husband would laugh at such a getup and that it would be a waste of money and lace. It’s not modesty. We just don’t go in for extra props and costumes. Being as covered up for the world as possible and naked as quickly as possible for my husband (preferably in dim lighting) is all that’s required. So, I selected a bra and headed for the jeans. This is another form of torture, but I will not bitch about that now. On my way past house-wares, I saw a gay couple looking at bedding. They were arguing over some striped sheets (one of them apparently was opposed to anything straight). I wanted to sit on a sample bed and watch the show but I had to keep moving. Too much has already been written about dressing rooms and the hell that is reflected in their mirrors. Suffice it to say, despite how well put together I thought I looked that morning, I basically looked like shitty death in those mirrors. Somehow I found a pair of jeans that worked for me; they didn’t ride down my ass or up to my armpits or flare out with rhinestones attached or cost more than a week’s worth of groceries. It turned out to be a good day. I finally left the department store, purchases in hand. I passed through the den of iniquity also known as the perfume counter and breathe “fresh” mall air again. Hands down, the best thing about the mall is the great toilet options. Barnes & Noble would not be my first choice. I get too self-conscious to use their facilities because the clerks keep an eye on whether I’m trying to smuggle reading material to aid my efforts in the bathroom. The public restrooms that can only be reached by going through a maze of hallways are just too much effort to find and are only good for emergencies when I happen to be near them, which is unlikely. Olive Garden has delightful decor, with soothing pictures to ogle while I concentrate. They also include sample lotions and nice, thick paper towels. At least in the women’s room. Men’s rooms are a different animal, to be sure, with a wall of urinals and few stalls for privacy. How do they do it with others watching? Many ladies’ rooms even have adjoining powder rooms with lounge chairs and large mirrors. As inviting as they often look, I have rarely seen anyone partaking, as there are still strangers shitting just feet away. Macy’s has some of my favorite facilities, very luxe with stall hooks for your bags and coats to keep them off the floor. I have the most successful and relieving experiences in public bathrooms. There’s more privacy than at home; no kids following and talking and distracting me. There’s a carefree feeling: no worries about flush capacity, as most public toilets seem to be equipped to handle large volumes, as I’ve seen with my child’s abundant use of toilet paper, and no worries about running out of toilet paper because there are extra rolls attached to the wall, although I have to work a bit to finagle the first squares through the little slot. I also have to use more toilet paper because they seem to only stock the thinnest transparent vellum. I wonder what the mall will mean to me when I am old and wearing purple. Will I choose to power walk in the mornings? Will I take my grandchildren to the arcade? Will my husband bring his scooter to carry my shit? We could ride together, catch a movie, and enjoy a slushy and a sweet kiss. Sounds like a good day. *****

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Scrambled Eggs David Stockdale

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Frank stumbled back to his barstool, clutching his beer in one hand and his imitation suede jacket in the other. He had chosen to play “Yesterday” on the jukebox. A McCartney penned tune, if I’m not mistaken. I rarely am about these sorts of things. What a terrible song choice, though. I mean, I love The Beatles. I really do. But Frank totally killed the atmosphere of the place. It’s just this somber little number about a guy longing for the past. Like I need that sentimental shit on a Friday night. Frank started singing along, making erratic, theatrical hand movements. “You know, you’re totally out key,” I said. Frank stopped singing and rested his elbows on the table. “Why do you always do that?” he asked. “Do what?” “I just wanted to have a little fun and sing, and you find a way to ruin it. You always find a way to ruin my fun.” “Fine, sing,” I said. “All I’m saying is you’re not singing it right.” Frank wiped his nose and poured another glass for himself. He had stopped singing. The bar wasn’t like how you’d imagine a bar to be, all dank and smoky like in the movies. The place was all clean and anesthetized. An old couple dancing in the back looked like they had been there since the dawn of civilization. They might have been about to slouch on each other and die. “You remember that time we bought those pills?” asked Frank. “Yeah,” I said. “I think that guy gave us coke actually.” “It was not coke.” “I’m pretty sure it was.” “Okay, first off, who ever heard of coke pills?” “It’s possible.” And with all this argumentative sort of posturing, I feel I may have lost Frank in some way. I’ve lost him to a Liberal Arts university, to berets, turtlenecks, and cigarettes—he’s been ejected into the ether of this “real world,” as everyone calls it. It’s like he’s betrayed everything he’s ever stood for. And then he looks down on me, like I’ve done nothing with my life. I know all our old friends talk about me like I’m some Greek tragedy. Like I’m wasted potential because I didn’t get a scholarship to Urbana. But of course, I can’t say this to him. “And secondly,” Frank started, “you don’t hallucinate on cocaine. I’m telling you that was some fucked up chemical compound like DMT or acid or something.” What a crock of shit. Yes, I am twenty four years old. Yes, I live with my mother and father. What’s the difference? I do things. I work on my car. I find ways to keep occupied. It’s Frank who’s different now. I didn’t sign up for the shit he lays on me. “I didn’t hallucinate,” I said. “That’s because you don’t have a soul, MD.” I’ll concede that point to him.


The thing about Frank is he understands how my mind works, I guess. Or at least he used to. We were on the same page a lot of the time. But now it’s like he tries to use that knowledge against me every chance he gets. Like he plays mind games with me. He knows me so good he can fuck with me, you know? It’s what happens when you grow up with someone. You get to know them so damn good, you might as well be the same person. But we’re not the same. Not anymore. Sometimes I think Frank might be losing it a little. “Kristie does coke now,” I said. “Yeah, I heard.” “You think she’d lose a little weight with all that coke she’s doing.” Frank’s face scrunched up as if he were constipated or something. “Kind of funny,” I said. “It’s more sad than funny.” To him, it must have been sort of a sore subject, I guess. Frank finished another beer just about as fast as it was poured by the hapless bartender. His name was Hugo, I think. He had a lopsided face, sort of like a stroke victim, and always wore a flannel. Must have been a good decade older than us. Hugo was quick to keep Frank with a consistent supply of alcohol. I understand why Frank drinks. It just makes you feel numb, and numb is a hell of a lot better than some of the things I feel. But after a few pitchers, we were running out of old stories to bore each other with. “Let’s get out of here,” I said. “I’m not even buzzed yet,” Frank said. “We can go smoke.” “If anything, I’m going home after this.” “I thought you were in town for the weekend.” “Not home home, I mean—my mom’s house.” I wondered if Frank ever realized how empty and fake his life had become. I mean, what was he trying to accomplish down at Urbana? I mean, what was he going to do with an English degree, for fuck’s sake? I never understood what motivated him in that department. “How’s everything on the romantic front?” I asked, nudging him with my elbow. Frank slumped back on his stool, nearly falling. He was never was very coordinated. “All quiet on the romantic front.” “Come on,” I said. “You can tell me. You’re a college man now. And a genius, at that.” “I don’t really advertise the whole genius thing.” “My boy, with those snooty coeds at the U of I, you just need to act like you don’t give a shit about them.” “Why does every conversation we’ve ever had end up with you giving me unsolicited advice?” he asked. “You look like you need advice,” I said. “Not from you, MD.” “Just be assertive, Frankie.” “Don’t call me that.”

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“See, you haven’t changed one bit in the romance department. This is just like what happened with Norma back in high school,” I said. “Can we not talk about her for once?” “You’re gonna be twice as unsuccessful with those sophisticated university gals, I’m telling you.” “I don’t want to live the way you do,” he said. McCartney wrote “I believe in yesterday.” As if the past were some kind of myth, obscured by our own egos, our flawed sense of memory. Frank didn’t reminisce much that night. By that point he had shut down. He looked into his glass, filled to the brim with a bubbling brew, as if it were an infinite golden sea. It’s hard to know if I should have said something, maybe, to reassure him. I wasn’t in very good shape to be reassuring anyone, to be honest. “Do you want to go for a ride?” I asked. Frank pushed his drink back gently to the side and looked at me with a mischievous glare in his eyes that I hadn’t seen since we were teenagers. Not that it was all that long ago. It felt like it, though. “Let’s go then,”I said. Frank slouched back in the passenger seat. A strange shade of green came over his face. I prayed to a god I didn’t believe in that Frank wouldn’t puke in my car. A surge of cold air rushed out of the vents. We waited for the car to warm up. The bar was in a strip mall full of once charming ma-andpa stores that have since gone out of business. And now, in their stead, are big-name electronic stores and chain restaurants. The parking lot was nearly empty, save for my Pontiac parked in back, illuminated by a street light. “Put the T-top down,” Frank said. “It’s 32 degrees out,” I told him. I have to admit, at that point, I was not exactly sober. It was late though, and there weren’t many cars on the road. And the cold helped to sober me up. We drove to my dealer’s spot in silence. Frank had no idea where we were going. I don’t think he cared. When we pulled into his driveway, he seemed a bit jarred, as if someone had woken him up from a pleasant dream, and now he was stuck in a less appealing reality. “I guess your unemployment check just came in,” he said. A thinly veiled jab. I use up all the taxpayers’ money on drugs. And it matters, why? It’s better than the government spending it on wars in places I’ve never heard of. I don’t even get unemployment anymore. My boy walked out and greeted us at the passenger window. Sort of like a very awesome drive-thru restaurant. “Who’s this guy?” he asked me, nodding at Frank. “No one,” I said. “Bust it out.” This dude was a bit younger than us. He ruffled around in a back pack for what seemed like five minutes. After a while, I honked my horn and the guy flew back, dropping his bag. Frank laughed. Then a black Crown Vic drove by in a slow and deliberate way, and my dealer ran back inside. The car had spooked him. “Did this guy become a drug dealer as a way to pay off his loans of clown college?” Frank asked. “I believe so,” I said. “I’m sure he’ll come out again in a second.” We waited for a good half hour. I tried calling his house a few times. No avail. Eventually I went

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up and knocked on the door. No answer. I got back into the car, and Frank was rubbing his eyes. I think he had been crying. McCartney came up with the idea for the song “Yesterday” from a dream he had. The original lyrics started out, “Scrambled eggs/ Baby how I love your legs.” Can you imagine what the world would be like if he stuck with those words? I want to live there. I want to live in that universe. *****

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About the editor Barbi Moroz was the recipient of both the 2013 Joseph Courter Fiction Award and the 2013 Stephen Dunn Poetry Award, which are first place literary awards at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Her poetry has been published in the online magazines Misfits’ Miscellany and Leaves of Ink. Her poetry has also been published in the print magazines Creepy Gnome Magazine and Stockpot, Stockton’s literary magazine.


About the Contributors

• John Markowski: Cover Images - Vineland, NJ

• J.S. MacLean: “Legacy” - Calgary, Alberta Canada

• Rachel Siegfried: “Engineer’s Coffee Pot” and “Shattered” - Gainesville, GA

• Brendan Sullivan: “Girl as Building” - Virginia Beach, VA

• Alan D Harris: “Quantum Mechanics” - East Lansing, MI

• Valentina Cano: “Alien” - Miami, FL

• Steven Kain: “I Will Wait for You” - Seabrook, NJ

• Andira Dodge: “The Mall is a Melting Pot” - Millville, PA

• Miriam Sagan: “Aquifier” - Santa Fe, NM

• David Stockdale: “Scrambled Eggs” - Chicago, IL

• Anne Britting Oleson: “On the Oxford Coach” - Dixmont, ME

• Summer Jennings: “s a u d a d e” - Greenwich, NJ

• Colin Campbell: “Sex and Violence and Old Ladies” - Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia • Troy Baillargeon: “un d ny uh bly un cunt rollable” - Philadelphia, PA

• Esko: “1970s Collection” and “A New World” - Philadelphia, PA • Barbi Moroz: Editor; Photography, and Graphic Design - Vineland, NJ


Special Thanks Electric Rather would like to thank the talented writers and artists that contributed to this issue. We are very proud of the diversity of this issue and are honored to publish it. We received more than thirty-five submissions of fiction, poetry, and art. Sifting through these submissions was a labor of love and we can’t wait to start the process all over again. We would like to thank everyone that submitted to our magazine and our wonderful readers. Submissions are always welcome! We would like to cite two sources that created some of the textures and patterns used in this issue: cgtextures.com and subtlepatterns.com. For more information about our contributors, please visit our website: electricrather.tumblr.com.



Electric Rather Issue 02