Issue #16, May 2010
Windy City Acrylic on canvas, 2010 by Chantel Schott 1
In This Issue... Letter from the Editors
Art by Chantel Schott
Melanie G. Firth
Directions on How to Disembowel a Bee
Carried Away / Left Behind
Sins of the Fathers
Employing a Variety of Explanations
You Never Know Until You Do
The Gray Area
Art by Chantel Schott
The Way the Dizziness Comes In
On a Train, On a Hotel Bed
Art by Chantel Schott
Megan Van Dyke
The Mirror Stage
South of Portsmouth
Dear readers, Do not adjust your computer screen; you are reading issue #16 of Blood Lotus. After this greeting from its editors, however, we cannot guarantee what‟s real and what isn‟t. With the authors in this issue, things aren‟t always as they seem… First, though, how about that colorful cover art? The work of Chantel Schott ups the vibrancy factor of these pages in much the same way as the writing does: one stark concrete image amidst a swirl of movement, or even chaos. As for the poems, they begin with Melanie G. Firth‟s “Directions on How to Disembowel a Bee,” a sectioned poem with clear, if conflicting instructions: “Feel angry and misled…Feel distanced. Altered. Very stung.” Camilo Roldán‟s poem ends with a prediction of disillusionment when his speaker intimates that “when we return this place will seem new.” Tracy Koretsky‟s litany-esque poem about time—perhaps the largest construct there is—and Alex Linden follows with another sectioned poem, this time with the thread of its title “Fire,” dark memories, and drug-induced hallucination. In “Sins of the Fathers,” Christopher Leibow‟s speaker steals his grandfather‟s beard—literally—and in John McKernan‟s “The Cathedral,” a woman sees her captor in the mirror instead of herself. Next, Maurice Oliver offers a great opening line: “I die and then am easily distracted.” Not to be outdone, his closing line has a surprising pulse, too. Meg Johnson‟s poem “Free Samples” features a refrain that conjures childhood and perceived femininity, even as its speaker bucks such things: “If you don‟t like it, / you can stop looking up my skirt.” Ed Makowski‟s speaker‟s son reminds him of his own behaviour as a little boy and is an interesting, minimalist comment on how we live in two (or even more) eras or points of knowing at a time. Finally, Erica Goss reminds us that what appears missing from someone is not necessarily “missed” by that person, and memorably equates the amputated arms of a young girl to “blunt couplets...two short puzzles.” For this issue‟s Gray Area section, we offer the text and youTube link to a performance piece by Shimmy Boyle, a poem called “The Way the Dizziness Comes In” that deconstructs the feeling of faintness when standing up too quickly...or, say, hearing a fantastic poem. Steve Dossey follows with a flash fiction piece called “On a Train, On a Hotel Bed,” which opens with “surrealist rain” in the speaker‟s head as he blurs the lines between remembering and reliving an affair. By way of fiction, we know you‟ll enjoy two well-written stories which carry on Dossey‟s theme of relationship endings. The first, by Megan Van Dyke, is about a woman recalling an ex-lover at inconvenient times—an exlover who told her to ward off nightmares by carrying in her pocket a slip of paper that says “I am not dreaming”: “It might seem silly, but eventually you‟ll look for the paper in your dreams, and then you‟ll know by its absence that you‟re just having a nightmare. Once you know that, you‟ll be able to take control of the dream‟s direction.” Van Dyke‟s speaker, though, may not agree that she has control of anything. Neither would Felipe Cabrera‟s, who falls in 3
and out of different realities and manic states, all while desperately holding onto his relationship with a girl named Daphne. So read #16 with an open mind! Who needs reality when the writing is this good? Best, The Editors *In Memoriam* Rane Arroyo, 1954-2010 http://www.toledoblade.com/article/20100521/NEWS13/5210357/0/COLUM NIST22
Xanadu Acrylic on canvas, 2010 by Chantel Schott 5
Melanie G. Firth DIRECTIONS ON HOW TO DISEMBOWEL A BEE 1. Rouse from a short film called "None are Wingless". Feel angry and misled. The air is a nettled fist and you've no grace, no elegance. Have only a friable love for the earth and all its microscopic workings. You are your Father, digging for gold. You are your Mother dancing industriously to a song that soldiers a whistle in its bridge. That must always lead to a chorus, whereby the words Fly! Soar! inspire real courage. But imitation is sweaty work, will grease the neck as when you would flick your body under a thirst it did not understand: the oblique rhythm of sex for the 'reaching of crisis'. The ache of phantom limbs. 2. Stir from a poem called: "Theorem of Honey". Feel distanced. Altered. Very stung. You are your sister cello taping wings to your back, allowing them a fragile crookedness. The buzz, zoom, the crash part plan and part surprise. You are your brother cheerfully braving the cost. Special tweezers to torture what could sting. Out of a swarm, a single bee would unravel under his law, his battle cry
Melanie G. Firth on wings, straight to the Hive, or to God, he thought, and being so earth-driven and wise, knew freedom to be a kingdom reached by digging.
Camilo RoldĂĄn CARRIED AWAY / LEFT BEHIND Dead for only these fifty-one minutes mutate into or echo metallic: eyes become diamonds or remain that mangled garbage-can beacon. More than a mere black-box record of stats missing forty-three years they are human eyes, have as much in common with a space captain as would a lifeboat full of white rats. Those eyes could be diamonds could learn to marvel at these painted backdrops see the future through landscapeâ€” but if not, conveniently enough, this is where we maroon the freaks too a place where no one will go again. Each crewmember choked by cables of thought they will forget those images within a week and when we return this place will seem new.
Tracy Koretsky ITâ€&#x;S ABOUT The time you stopped traffic to say that you love me. The time the aged are behind, the genius, ahead of. The time that leaves its signature on music: ragtime dripped through clarinets in Preservation Hall; waltz time encircling peach-faced debutantes. Teatime in spring time. The timepiece imported cheaply from Japan in peacetime that never gives the exact time only necessary when robbing a bank. Dinner time. Prime time. Bedtime. One more time. Curtain time, opening night! The time the runner seeks to surpass. Time and motion studies on timeshared computers; the timeclock punched to put food on the table time and time and time again, and the part-timer flirting by the coffee. The time step tapped on salted dance floors. The timeless character of the single pearl worn for old times sake, that time in my life when I had you to pass the time of day. The time that chemotherapy buys. The time the prisoner serves: the time on the faces of the clocks melting over Salvador Dali's trees. The oblong time of an expectant mother. The time it took to evolve from the prideless dust of the earth; the time it takes to return.
Alex Linden FIRE 1. When your mother left on Christmas, trailing ribbon and the last shreds of wrapping paper, tripping over a Saguaro, you didn‟t scream bitch at your schoolteacher, bitch at the swollen heifers, but perhaps most strangely you didn‟t send bitch on the back of a sparrow to land on my doorstep ten years later. (even still I hold your hair, the black blackest timbers like a short match between the thin tips of my fingers, smelling, searching for the aftermath of fire, as dark and delicate as some wandering prayer, or the eulogy of a child). 2. When my father was fifteen he swam toward the desert— pulled by spines and needles, red dirt and orange reptiles. He started in the Missouri—it pushed past his lungs, he breezed through it like a businessman, (like a prick or a fish) until he skidded into the grainy bed of the Salt River. The maps had lied— the deception softened the crinkle in his toes but at least he was finally dry, and forty years later I can‟t remove the guilt which hangs on me like his sodden coat. 3. When he diluted me for the last time 10
I pinned your wrists down— knowing that to control you was to control the hurricane turning in my stomach and we swallowed pills made of mdma and some accidental meth and I didn‟t call you a dickhead, but took your palm and ran it across my face, feeling concealed and safe in your hand that could span all of my features, grazing the edge of my chin like a razor, brushing my eyebrows straight. Maybe it was only the drug but I told you your hands looked nothing like my father‟s— his were stubby and muted although he stood six foot-six— but yours cup me like gold and we flicker on and off like a candle whose flame isn‟t cooled by the rising and the pooling wax water that surrounds it.
SINS OF THE FATHERS
I am on a train in winter leaving Krakow just having stolen my grandfather the Rabbi‟s silver beard A young woman sits on the bench across from me. She smiles at me as if she knows what I‟ve done. So I weave his beard into a small child who sits very still next to me till a draft makes him sway My breath fogs the window—everything is so white I can‟t make anything out— except my grandfather looking into the old mirror rubbing the stubble of his face not recognizing himself.
THE CATHEDRAL They herded us all into the cathedral The guards with the automatic rifles kept mumbling Move it sardines Move it The General told us to confess our sins silently We were all terrified of speaking Except for one old woman She raised her hand asking permission to speak The General nodded in her direction She asked very politely What sins? The General replied Look in the mirror and if you don‟t see an image of me Repent The old woman opened her handbag and pulled out a compact with a tiny silver mirror She cried out
I see you Don‟t think I don‟t
The rifle fire lasted five minutes The silence was durable Not even a blink dared to move
Maurice Oliver EMPLOYING A VARIETY OF EXPLANATIONS I die and then am easily distracted. Perhaps it‟s because I can only take hot baths every other night. Or because the fresh towels cost 5 extra franc. It could have something to do with the fact that my lucky rabbit‟s foot has mysteriously walked away. A cold wind seeps through the cracks in the window sill. A bright neon sign that read “Jesus Saves” flashes at intervals into the dimly-lit room. Vines grow against the cemetery wall across the street but never once acknowledge my presence. Or it could be because the pinball machine actually let‟s you tilt it to win. Still, it might have something to do with the stale loaf of bread left behind by someone else on the dented table. Strauss waltzes or urban hip-hop. Milk or honey. Pastoral scenes painted on the ceiling of a dentist‟s office. All of Germany determined to fly around the city in a S.W.A.T. helicopter. Or maybe the only logical explanation is that my heart is still beating, surprisingly hard and fast.
Meg Johnson FREE SAMPLES Little pink spoon Crushed Oreos, cookie dough, strawberry ice cream, waffle cone, brownie chunks… Little pink spoon go ahead honey just put your paper doll in the blender she‟ll be fine Little pink spoon Halloween Fourth grade Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz In my old first communion dress Blue bow around my waist, another in my hair High heeled silver sequined shoes borrowed From the dress-up bin of my friend Erin Stuffed dog in a basket All the neighbors, young and old Said the same thing You look so much like Dorothy, but Why aren‟t you wearing ruby red slippers? Sigh I‟m Dorothy from the book Not the movie I pitied these people Little pink spoon At the airport shop I buy magazines With covers of Michael Jackson Back home, outside the apartment building Six 70‟s style mini fridges, pale green, Take up space in the parking lot Little pink spoon Three hours into riding the Greyhound. She didn‟t even notice the Amishcouple across the aisle a few rows up. The song „I Do Both Jay and Jane‟ playing on her iPod. Little pink spoon 15
Meg Johnson Some things I can‟t relate to: doughy blond women, the phrase pet parent, understanding geometry, disliking thongs… Little pink spoon If I make a Nutella sandwich If I count my perfume bottles (7 lines later…) If I read my horoscope Talk about sex with someone I barely know (64 lines later…) If I contemplate Asher Roth lyrics (18 lines later…) I can almost forget what You did to me last week Little pink spoon Yes. I do enjoy the outdated pop songs of Ace of Base. And I do drink MGD 64, the lightest of the light beers. Guess what? I‟m a girl. If you don‟t like it, you can stop looking up my skirt. Little pink spoon Sometimes dance feels like an abusive husband I got married to when I was too young. Little pink spoon The well preserved baby boomer couple goes to cut down the dead tree. The husband makes the cut and it is a lucky one. They peer into the hollow stump, four baby raccoons wrestling around. Why does the body know before the brain? Little pink spoon Sugar, sugar, sugar.
Ed Makowski YOU NEVER KNOW UNTIL YOU DO My toddler son is protest coughing+ foot stomp = unknown words: “But I wanna dance on the table until I fall on my head and cry!” Until parenting protesters didn't cough. Hearing this frequency I remember. As a curious boy, being below deck in the neighbor family‟s beached backyard boat with the neighbor family‟s daughter and didn‟t know until now It was the wordless protest of the 7 year old girl to the 8 year old boy
Erica Goss THE MESSENGER The first time I saw her baby arms ending in stumps like scoops of vanilla ice cream my eyes kept filling in the spaces where forearms wrists, hands, fingers were not as her mother in whose body those extremities failed to grow tore out the insides of a baguette and pressed white morsels into her child‟s mouth every few years I saw her a child growing up those missing forearms like blunt couplets like two short puzzles and every time an empty place in my heart filled as if something I didn‟t know I needed had suddenly appeared last week she walked by me a tall boy‟s arm wrapped around her shoulders his palm cupping the stump that swung by her side like a fin the sleeves of her dress two wings of gauze
#16 Gray Area
Hiding Behind Layers Acrylic on canvas, 2010 by Chantel Schott 19
Shimmy Boyle THE WAY THE DIZZINESS COMES IN It starts with nothing, and in the end you have the wreckage of an orchestra, a houseplant, and 13 bathtubs full of honey twirling at the edge of your vision. And you have vocal cords that can make sounds even when they're silent. Thatâ€&#x;s what it starts with: Silence. (You keep a handful of basketball courts on your shin.) Then there's this quiet hum that rises all around you. (You keep a hornet behind your ear.) It stands over you like a tree. (There are telephone wires running up your thighs.) You want to hug it, but there is nothing to touch. (Your left eardrum has turned into a cactus.) It feels like a desert shifting inside of you. (A mourning dove has made its nest in the nape of your neck.) You think you are going deaf, but it is only because you have never heard music. (Blinking feels like a moth wanting.) Then it all starts to sound like matchbooks making love with flames. (You keep your scars inside your ribs.) It is the sound of smoke. (Your knees have turned into garden hoses.) Then all the pianos get angry. (Your throat is a bank vault.) The sky decides to give up. (You learned to cry from your backbone.) The ocean will not speak to you. (When you lay in your bed, you catch on fire.) The phone keeps telling you people are dying. You are tired of phones. (Your heart is a book.) Your head is a carnival. And just when you think you are going to fall down, you stand there, dripping water all over the bathroom tiles and you look at yourself in the mirror (butterflies are being born inside your wrist) and of all things, you smile.
View Shimmy Boyleâ€™s performance of this poem here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EATacciptCQ
Steve Dossey ON A TRAIN, ON A HOTEL BED Surrealist rain in his head. In the clouds the merriment of banter. Large glowing cylinders slowly pulse. He slides through the passage way dense with colors. Then he is out. Resting to the roll of the passenger car, looking out at the coldness of the plains. Thinking of wan passengers in the dining car. She unbuttoned her gown reaching behind she felt a petal unfold. Turning to see caused her head to spin. Dizzy she fell into a murky sea, still like a swamp. Instead of lilies, lights rested on the vellum of water. One within reach shone a mixture of silver and green. She touched it and the sea then parted below her. Instead of falling she rose in an array of sound and found herself traveling on a train across the Wyoming plains. Next to her was a bearded man staring out the window; pensive. She began to grow hungry. Days later they were in San Francisco eating crab. They lay together on a hotel bed. Wrap around cellophane holding the weight of night and the surge of the moon. He took it and shoved it in like slaves feeding coal into ovens. Steam and moving Dynamo! Looking up to assess the movement of her lips. Looking down at the reflection of himself. All the occasions which bring forth questions were held in a jar. People gathered around it to stare intently, then began to shove and push until they were all dead. Another occasion was placed in the jar. Some said he was holding it. However the jar floats in space of its own accord. Gathering occasions which summon questions. In great green seas dolphins jump and dive. Could that be part of the answer? In the hotel room the bearded man rises from the bed. “We saw two people walking the streets, Coit Tower over their heads.” “A woman and a bearded man who held a leather bag. It was old and worn, like a Pony Express pouch.” They said when questioned. “No we couldn‟t hear what they were saying”. It was night again and the street lights spoke in odd tongues as the fog began to reenter the bay. As they walked they sensed an ache or uncomfortableness coming from within the earth. As they spoke of this, the lights seemed to grow dimmer. They were together for two weeks. Then he alone, boarded a ship and entered the Pacific seas. She found a boarding house, then half heartedly sought work. Her money was quickly dwindling. He wrote her long letters and thought of the gulls as if they were messages from her. The heavens became pronounced. The stars interrogated his eyes. At times he would weep but it was too incomprehensible to know why. He was growing tired of the tedium of the seas except for occasional storms and dolphins. Long silver fish no longer seemed unusual or daunting. None stirred his appetite. He threw all the letters overboard and heard strange noises. 21
Steve Dossey â€œShe was a woman who got you stuck in her past.â€? She was thinking he was thinking that. She stood looking out the bay window. He was in fact thinking that.
Lost at Sea Acrylic on canvas, 2010 by Chantel Schott 23
Megan Van Dyke THE MIRROR STAGE The sun pulls away, finally, and we can rest. Praying Joshua trees and dwarf mountain chains cut into the purple sky, superimposing their hard black shapes onto glimmering air. The trees have all the personality and energy of a collection of interesting people—ballet dancers, yogis, fighting monks— contorting their bodies into shapes that turn out to be lovely. A few hours ago, the desert ranges looked as fragile as skeletons covered in hairline fractures; the martian slopes, cracked and barren, recalled waterless river beds, leafless trees, countenances robbed of all color by despair, and yet, somehow, certain crawlers were lying around up there, alive, wrapped tight in the comfort of subterranean murk. Now that it‟s getting dark, the desert becomes a dreamscape with her browns replaced by deep purples and blues, her brittle fabrics morphed into luscious suedes and satins. An atmosphere of threatening death becomes one of vivid sensuality. Nocturnal eyes are opening up all around to greet their dawn. Hearts beat faster. Temporary coffins are forsaken. We glide into star territory. Conversation disintegrates as opaque sky lets our city eyes reconnect with naked suns and planets. Blessed with a vision of natural sky for the first time in ages, I find myself unable to trace constellations from childhood lore, although I can clearly remember a few young characters learning the art in detail from fathers, older brothers, or woodsy mentors, and even though I‟d really like to be able to point out Aquarius, Orion, or Andromeda to my companions. An owl flying beside the road is a hot shadow passing over cold shadows. His hunting sounds are muted by the car engine. Silenced, and forever disappearing from view—these qualities make the owl even more beautiful. Lurking behind are miles of buildings that slink on and on like chainlink fence. The patio where I lived was rimmed with blinking lights that gave off the aura of a seedy carnival, especially when the speed dial was turned all the way up. Seizure lights, we joked. When the neighborhood meth addict started coming around to steal cigarette butts too often, D began the ritual of cranking the seizure lights full throttle to scare him, eventually weaning the poor fiend off of our ashtrays for good. D also took care of the cockroach problem, flying wildly after the little beasts when they dared to emerge and then burning each body up with a camping torch. Most of the roach breeding stock was incinerated beyond repair within a month. Spider mecca, however, remained intact because nobody wanted to kill the grand, oversized spiders that nested around our patio‟s edges. I couldn‟t imagine burning up those furry, pre-historic creatures who built their own architecture. The gardenia was really the best thing about the cement patio. Its leaves were the dark green of foliage that grows in sheltered parcels faraway from 24
Megan Van Dyke California drought. Its buds unfurled into soft-petaled blossoms that smelled like oaths to love. Gardenias only come in white. D bought me the gardenia because I had a habit of plucking the prettiest flowers from yards all across the West-side. One afternoon in May I came home from a pool party in the Valley with a gardenia nestled behind my ear and couldn‟t stop gushing about how perfect it smelled, and D told me he loved that I was a shameless flower thief and then we made love as the sky turned pink and the sun went out. Van‟s ‟72 Dodge Dart coasts deeper into the Mojave National Preserve. Arizona and I finish the farm fresh strawberries bought roadside in Apple Valley. We all share a spliff and revel in the sensation of the road trip hash melting like hot snow inside our lungs. If I concentrate a little, I can once again feel Van‟s first kiss infecting my veins with streams of dizzy, bright white butterflies, rushing and flapping through my blood like gospel music; I let him kiss me at a party I threw the night after D left, when I had to cram the barren apartment full of artists and musicians, writers, film-people, and even a few actor-models. The feeling of that apartment is what I imagine an abortion must feel like. But that was the night that I heard my poet friend sing for the first time. Arizona sounds like summer rain falling softly upon church glass. If her voice were rain, it would pool into liquid angels immediately upon hitting even the filthiest ground and these angels would make you smile and laugh through your tears. It‟s the kind of sound that can sweeten the world‟s taste enough to save your life. Once Arizona told me that she learned how people are supposed to be from her favorite books, implying her family was too fucked up to model anything decent. As a child, she used to narrate stories inside her head as she went about her entire day. Sometimes she narrated what she was actually doing: Arizona wiped away her tears and watched the palm trees sparkling and crackling in the wind for two whole hours. Sometimes she would inject fantasy into her reality: Arizona fed her wolf dogs their favorite stew and then sat down to a bowl for herself when the Angel with black wings knocked on her door. She finds a person sexiest when he is crying or sulking and then suddenly begins to laugh instead, and she prefers peeing outdoors to using any sort of internal toilet, which I have witnessed while creeping through LA lawns with her at night, wasted on whiskey. She is the reason that I am in this car with my only suitcase and thirty-five dollars in my wallet. When she invited me on a journey to the Colorado Rockies, I said yes faster than I have ever agreed to anything that wasn‟t my own idea. In the past, only men have had this effect on me. Casinos and billboards radiate neon electricity, flinging shattered rainbows across the city. We park the orange Dodge at the Tropicana and walk onto the Strip, where Vegas is panting and pulsing heavily all around. Photographs of girls for sale plaster the ground. Along with everyone else, I‟m trampling their breasts, asses, faces. Most dissolve into pulp and storm gutter feed, but new girls on fresh flyers will continue to be shoved at passersby and 25
Megan Van Dyke dropped by peddler and consumer alike, fluttering to the pavement as Vegas‟ perpetual, artificial rainfall. Naked girls storming slower and thicker than water can ever fall. “We are here for the money,” Juan the guitarist says to a petite black prostitute who prances up and whispers in his ear. “Sorry sweetie.” She catwalks off. I think she is much too beautiful to be a hooker. Or she is so very beautiful because she‟s a hooker. At the Bellagio, the boys go towards Poker and Arizona and I decide to hunt down free drinks in the land of penny slots before we take on Black Jack. Shriveled up faces of old, genderless chain smokers keep morphing into rotting orchids or juiceless cherry tomatoes when I look right at them, hunched over their machines of spinning fantasies. “I hate slot machines,” says Arizona. “Seriously! The worst way to gamble.” “There‟s something about playing cards that I really, truly love. Like this iconic loveliness, this romance. When I look at my cards, nothing else matters. The colors are two, the suits are four, and I‟m a woman on a mission.” “I‟ll toast to that,” I say. “When you hold playing cards, you hold your own fate in your hands.” We dart our eyes around the flashing chaos, trying to locate the nearest waitress. Cocktail servers in thong bodysuits and sheer pantyhose stomp and teeter by in their heels. Arizona flags a redhead down and orders Gin and Juice for herself, plus a double Black Label on the rocks for me. “You remembered my drink.” “Yeah, it‟s hard to forget. Such an unusual drink. I also remember what Van said about it when he first took you out,” Arizona laughs, deepening her voice, “I‟ve been on a lot of dates with a lot of girls, but I have never seen anyone order scotch, much less on the rocks. You really are an individual.” “He‟s obsessed with finding individuals.” The waitress brings us our drinks, calling Arizona honey-pie and me darling in the sugary drawl of a midwesterner that makes city dwellers feel special, even if we know she talks like that to everybody. I take in her perky breasts and her tiny ass, which sparkles wrapped inside the pantyhose. She would actually be gorgeous if you scrubbed off the trained smile and yanked away this circus ring. She walks away with the same highly oscillating step, minus the convict pace, of the prostitute from earlier. “Come on, let‟s find a good table. We need to win us some gas money.” We sit at a fifteen dollar table, in between some Abercrombie college boys wearing cologne that masks all other scents and a pair of curvy girls wearing matching shirts that say, Latinas Do it Better. Their boyfriends are here too, wearing colorful dress shirts and gold chains that sink deep into their hairy, exposed chests. Nobody at this table knows how to play Black Jack. They get 26
Megan Van Dyke offended when Arizona and I tell them what to do, when we scoff that they‟re messing up the table with their ignorant decisions. We move to a fifty dollar table full of men in expensive suits who, we surmise quickly, clearly know how to gamble, and are likely informed on how to do everything that involves transactions of money properly. They smoke fat cigars and smile, flirtatiously, condescendingly, at us. And here we finish nine hundred up, doubling down at all the right times, getting dealt bushels of luscious ten cards and aces. The men respect us after we make some real money. Their demeanor changes entirely. They don‟t invite us to go have a drink or languish away on some V.I.P. leather couch. As Arizona and I prance away victorious and gloating, I glance back to see the rich men shaking hands with some epic fake breasts at the slot machines. Overall, the group comes out with enough money for gas to Colorado, plus a couple of cheap rooms at the far end of the strip for tonight. Van wants to stay at this motel for newlyweds, so we end up in a suite with walls drenched over in mirrors and murals of lovers. In all directions you see either yourself, or a couple of cheesy looking people embracing via acrylic hands, arms, lips. A green plastic jacuzzi tub smelling of chemical lemon comes with the room. They also include free, unlimited porn and some film from the 1980‟s is actually playing when we walk in. Arizona asks me to come have a smoke outside. “We‟re going to our room after that, yeah Dear?” Juan asks. “Oh, yes, yes you are,” chimes Van. Outside, we puff on menthols. Arizona starts riffing on the harmonica she wears strung around her neck. I whistle and hum to her notes. “Sometimes I think I was meant to be a bird,” says Arizona in between drags and riffs. “Not some little bird, but one of the large, intelligent breeds. Like a penguin or a tropical parrot. One of the sort that mates for life. Do you know why birds mate for life?” “No. Why?” “It all has to do with a mother‟s milk and womb. Because human mothers carry the child to term for so long, and because we breast-feed, that„s what makes human men promiscuous. Bird mothers, on the other hand, lay eggs, which means both parents can incubate the unborn babies. And once the babies are hatched, both parents can feed them, because of course birds do not drink mother‟s milk.” “So why does this make birds eternally faithful? I don‟t really get it.” “Because men, and most other mammals, are genetically programmed to spread their genes to as many potential young mothers as possible. Their presence is not vitally important for their child‟s survival—that‟s the mother‟s job of course. She provides the womb for nine months and the milk after that. So after conception, mammal males, they want to move on. Bird fathers are needed though. Their child has a much better chance of surviving if it has two parents to warm and protect the egg and two parents to hunt and deliver food.” 27
Megan Van Dyke “So do you think we‟d be happier as birds? Or at least with birds‟ reproductive habits?” I wonder. “I think so. I really do. But then again, the grass is always greener...” We stare down at the street quietly, finishing our cigarettes. My skin has grown icy bathing out in the Vegas winter. The cold is underrated. Sick people make pilgrimages to the heat to heal, or die in peace. The wealthy own tropical and subtropical homes. But those paralyzed in the heart require a harsh stillness that only cold climate can provide. “Almost nobody in love knows during the moment of their last time in bed that this sex will be the very last. I never could have fathomed it. Do you remember your last times?” I only ask because that last time, D said to me, I love the way you sparkle. You really do sparkle when I love you. “Only the ones with men I really loved. So that‟s only two that I can remember.” “I haven‟t worn flowers in my hair since he left, since D left me without even a good-bye. Just a goddamned note, and his dirty breakfast dishes, that‟s all,” I confess. “He wrote me that I wasn‟t the one, and he hated to hurt me and was a coward for not saying something when he first knew it.” “Well come on then!” She reaches for my hand and leads me forward. “Where are we going?” Arizona takes a flask from her inner pocket and presses it against her lips. “Here, Sailor Jerry‟s.” She holds the warm silver to my lips, and I drink. Hand in hand we start running down the street. Our laughter and pounding feet cause pedestrians and drivers to stare at us, some with smiles and gazes that look like lust, others with casual amusement. A bush of common yellow daisies outside Todd's Motor Hotel halts us. It‟s kind of surprising to find these here amongst the concrete and fast food wrappers and neon, like the yellow blooms fell through a wormhole and just happened to end up decorating the entrance of a lodging used primarily by men paying hookers and hotel rates by the hour. “Yellow. It‟s the color of the sun.” Arizona picks a daisy, and uses a bobby pin from her own head to fasten the plundered flower behind my ear. “There. Now you look like a girl who doesn‟t give a damn about all the trivial junk ordinary people suffer over. You look like a girl who is free.” I throw my arms into the air and twirl full circle. Arizona reaches up and adjusts the flower. “You look like yourself.” Her blonde hair and pale skin glow like warm strawberry milk beneath the monstrous pink Todd's vacancy sign and her eyes glow hot all on their own. I feel my heart—Crimson, Beating, Beating. We walk back to our cheesy motel talking about Lou Reed. As soon as we open the door, Juan runs over, lifts his girlfriend up, and gallops off with her slung over his shoulder. I stare down the hallway until Van breaks my stupor. 28
Megan Van Dyke “Come here baby,” he calls, patting the vacant section beside him on the sofa. You can see the precise shape of almost every muscle on Van‟s tall frame. Down his forearms cascade veins, intense blue threads enticing you to run your small fingers over them. I feel the jutting channels of blood, running my touch for quite some time over magnified life-force. He kisses me. I open my eyes and stare at Van‟s eyelids as we kiss. They twitch and relax, twitch and relax, quivering like a dreamer one second and lying still the next. Spy kissers know that up close everything appears as either blurry confusion or abstract artwork, depending upon how you focus. Van goes right on kissing me, not feeling the intent gaze. It feels like violation after a time, so I avert my eyes to the mirror behind us and look into them. How strange and foreign, that this is me and that I‟m stuck forever between these eyes. Sometimes when I look in the mirror, it feels like a punishment. “I have to go to the bathroom. Be right back.” I slide off of Van‟s lap and confront my visage yet again in the bathroom‟s oval glass. Water rushes out of the faucet to conceal the real purpose for being locked in here. I‟m crying now. I miss my mother. I miss all the things that seem so preciously beautiful now, now that they‟ve gotten so far away. I open up my make-up kit. Lining my eyes dark and painting my skin into a flawless monotone always calms me down. When my face is made, I stop crying. I return to the main room, naked now except for the make-up, and sit on the bed. Van rushes over and tells me how beautiful I am and how much he wants me. I say nothing back, only unbutton his pants to let him know sleeping together is finally a real option. As he gets a condom out, I open the window, pushing aside its curtains. A purplish light comes in and a long sip from the flask Arizona has left behind slides down like holy fire. Only with my insides burning can new growth get ready to flash up its green transplendence. Van makes love to my still body as neon lights infiltrate through the windows, casting our naked figures in a pretty neon glow. So pretty, a desert traveler might have mistaken us for a mirage on the horizon. And we do look beautiful. The many reflections all around attest to this truth. Narcissus would be right at home, sealed inside this room where the mirror goddess threw up all her insides. Afterwards, he wants to lie with our bodies all entwined together. He wants me to rest my head against his strength while he strokes my hair. I indulge the gorgeous man for about three minutes, and then I‟m so hot, and I need to dream, so I roll away and curl into fetal position at the bed‟s outermost border. I‟m almost falling to the floor, balanced here like a little drunk cat. When he started to understand that I had chronic nightmares and terrible jaw and neck pain from grinding my teeth during sleep, D taught me how to dream lucidly. Maybe he already knew this trick, or maybe he researched the topic especially for me, but it really worked. You have to take control over your dreams, D said while messaging my knotted temple muscles 29
Megan Van Dyke with lavender oil one night. So write down „I‟m not really dreaming‟ on a piece of paper. Put it in your pocket and periodically check it throughout the day. It might seem silly, but eventually you‟ll look for the paper in your dreams, and then you‟ll know by its absence that you‟re just having a nightmare. Once you know that, you‟ll be able to take control of the dream‟s direction. Change it to something beautiful, fantastical, miraculous even. You can make the nightmares stop, my sweet dear-heart. Sleep comes almost instantly now like it always does for people who take refuge here. Insomnia would be the worst curse for people like us. In my dream tonight, I‟m back in the desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Late dusk again. This time I‟m not sitting in a car with other people. I am alone, walking among the Joshua trees. There are plump cactus grottos that I missed before, blossoming red fruit, and little coyote pups with green eyes. I look around for their mother, but she must be hunting, so I sit on the ground and play with the pups. Everything around me feels warm and fluid. The dream is not lucid. I‟m not frantically searching my pockets for written instructions. Its the first time I dream a whole, genuine dream -a dream that‟s real precisely because you believe it is- without any nightmarish visions spliced in. The sun is already flirting with the Western horizon when waking returns. I open the door and Arizona is waiting for me outside in an electric frame of afternoon sunshine. The wind manipulates queued up palms into a flapping mess behind her. Arizona‟s hair and eyes dance in unison with the trees. She tells me we‟re going to stop at this place called Red Rocks on our way to Utah. We‟re going to leave the designated trail and climb up the rock formations. She warns me that it will be dangerous and illegal, but it‟s the only way for us to catch the sun melting down into the desert. Sunset isn‟t symbolic of death, Arizona once told me. Sunsets are birth; to be alive, you‟ve got to know the difference between day and night, and sunrises sure can‟t show you that. I cannot wait to leave behind these cities misnamed after angels and fertile plains. Words can‟t cover up the truth anymore. I‟m going to the wild, green mountains: a land covered with voluptuous pine throngs. A place without fake rain falling everywhere and leaving tangles of x-rated paper all over the damn floor. The place where mirrors are absent, and never missed.
Felipe Cabrera SOUTH OF PORTSMOUTH She sinks her toes into the smooth, silver stones. I watch her. Slipping on her big brown sunglasses, which remind me of fly‟s eyes, she sits on a folding chair. I am on the rocks. She fishes a book out of her purse, a novel—the one I gave her for her birthday—a purple copy of The Bell Jar. I am holding a memoir I just bought. The sky is gray, which makes me sad, makes me wonder if I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I whip a rock against the boardwalk. “Could you please stop that?” she asks. No, I think, I don‟t want to. I‟m bored with my book, bored with this stupid day. It isn‟t even a particularly bright day, but I‟ve forgotten my sunglasses, and the whites of the pages burn my eyes. Or so I tell her. Really, it‟s the meds. The Depakote. The Risperidone. They make it difficult to concentrate. The Risperidone makes reading unbearable, like doing homework in a foreign language after a night of drinking. My feet are killing me. Rocks digging into my backside, dried seaweed stuck between my toes, in what hell do beaches not have sand, anyway? I can‟t focus. I haven‟t eaten since breakfast—my gut‟s making noises—and the sun‟s in my eyes and my feet hurt. I just want a sandwich—a roast beef sandwich with cheddar and horseradish. That might hold me over for a while. I grab a kidney-shaped stone and chuck it into the ocean. A voice calls from behind me—it‟s one of her friends—one that I haven‟t met yet. He‟s handsome. His name is James. “Let‟s go get some ice cream,” she says, slipping the book into her bag. I don‟t want to be here anymore. I want to go home. “Smile,” she said, snapping the photo. A leaf was stuck in my beard. “Ha, your gap is starting to show! You haven’t been wearing your retainer. You’re mom’s going to be so mad!” “Hush,” I said, taking the camera. It was sunny that day in Central Park: kids playing soccer, joggers in college crewnecks on a nearby path. I nibbled her neck—soft, no stubble, not like mine. I tickled her nose with the leaf and snapped a photograph. “Stop it,” she said, giggling, the smell of sweat and chocolate croissant between us. I masked one side of her face with her patterned scarf, snapped another photo. I slipped it off, kissing her cheek, her nose, her coffee-colored eyebrows. The display showed an over-lit picture: an obscured background, straw-colored hair bathed in white, grass blades running along her cheek. She had a slight curl in her lip that made her look mischievous, her kerchief fabric a series of lunar phases, a crescent moon covering the spot above her left eye. I studied her mousy features: her nose, small like the rest of her—it comes to a fine point, unlike mine, which is rounded; her thin Irish lips, which mine seem to 31
Felipe Cabrera envelope when we kiss; her long, blond hair, as far from mine as you can get on the color spectrum (at least at our age). “I like it,” she said. “I like you, little fox.” Passing the Met, we made faces at one another and I bought her a hot dog. She loves hot dogs, which is hilarious, I think. She’s pure New England, very proper, wears Ralph Lauren dress shirts instead of t-shirts, and she likes hot dogs. After returning to her dorm, we made prosciutto sandwiches and borrowed On the Waterfront from a friend. Twenty minutes in, we stopped watching the movie. As she fell asleep in my arms, I realized that for several hours I hadn’t been aware of anything but what we’d been doing. There was something in the road staring back at me, its face illuminated in the headlights. A coyote. I lost control of the car and spun out, coming to a stop on the other side of the road. The coyote was gone. I put the car in drive and sped away. There was a bunch of crap in the back that I‟d bought over the last twelve hours: spray paints, books, adult diapers, condoms, socks, tattered issues of HUSTLER, menthol creams, a yellow folding chair, cigarettes (even though I didn‟t smoke, a bottle of Ajax, and a broken Danelectro guitar amplifier (the only item I hadn‟t purchased that day: a gift from my grandmother for my eleventh birthday). I noticed the streetlights and store signs looked odd, as if I were squinting: the lights seemed to bleed over in places they shouldn‟t have. It was a scary feeling, because it was like I was drunk, but I wasn‟t, I was sober. And from time to time, passing intersections, making eye contact with other drivers, strange things happened that seemed to mean something, even made me excited, as if my life had become some game. Women winked at me. Men scowled. So I kept driving, faster and faster without stopping, to the point that I pissed myself and I‟m not one of those guys that gets drunk and pisses himself. I have a normal bladder. I also heard these high-pitched tones, like coins in Super Mario World. I thought were coming from my EZ Pass. I put on the title track of Coltrane‟s Blue Train, tapping my free foot until the break at the 0:38 mark, when Coltrane rips it. My eyelids started slipping shut halfway through the second track so I switched to the radio, but I wasn‟t worried. It was just an inconvenience. Much in my life had been an inconvenience, lately, my family in particular. When I returned from an internship a few weeks before, I‟d asked of my father one simple favor: to have my Stratocaster tuned. “But you haven‟t played it in years.” “What the fuck difference does that make?” I shouted. “I‟ve been working my ass off. I‟m trying to get back to my childhood, Dad, my roots. My grades are up. I‟ve got a girlfriend who loves me, and the website is really starting to take off, it‟s about time I started enjoying myself for once.” 32
Felipe Cabrera I‟d invested in a social media site created by a friend of a friend at MIT. While interning in Buenos Aires, I‟d been doing a lot of research about Google and search-engine optimization. I‟d made several calls to my friend Robbie Schwager, the co-creator of the site but I could never get a hold of him. One night, I called Robbie‟s mother to tell her I was coming to Manhattan. “We‟ve done it, Mrs. Schwager. I don‟t know if Robbie told you about our Page Ranking, but we need to take the year off to work on the site, or at least next semester. ” “No, he didn‟t, but Robbie‟s out of town. And he‟s certainly not going to—.” “Mrs. Schwager, are you familiar with the Chicago Cubs? They‟re going to win the division and eventually the Series. Now, I‟m not saying the site is going to break any records. I mean, we‟ve got Facebook and Twitter to contend with, but we‟re attacking from a whole new angle. We—” “What are you talking about? Are you on drugs?” “No, I am not on drugs, Mrs. Schwager. I‟m just fond of sports metaphors. I thought you would enjoy them. I‟m pretty sure Robbie hasn‟t realized everything, yet. I‟m just excited. I apologize if I‟ve been rude.” I quit my internship and was on a plane to O‟Hare the next day. This was the beginning of that summer, before I maxed out my mother‟s Visa. Before my grandmother had her first panic attack. *** “¿Dónde estás? ¿Porqué no llamaste antes?” It was my grandmother. I told her the truth, that I was lost, which worried her even more. I myself was worried, because I kept getting lost, even though I‟ve lived in the same place all my life. I told her not to call me anymore, and then threw my phone out the window. I had a headache, which I attributed to the radio waves so I turned off the stereo. I drove to a movie theater and asked the cashier what town I was in. “Crystal Lake,” she replied. She was far from attractive: her hair was greasy and she was overweight and she had bad skin, but I still wanted to fuck her. I considered chatting her up, but I could smell the piss on my shorts, so I decided not to. “Do you know where Thumper‟s is?” I asked. “What?” “Thumper‟s. The gentleman‟s club. I know it‟s around here.” She shook her head so I left. Forty minutes passed before I gave up on my quest. I still had no idea where I was. That was the first time I thought there might be something wrong with me. *** Along the Wal-Mart Auto Center were a series of glass-windowed garages, each with a stack of tires wrapped in plastic. I sprayed “Obama 08” on a window, tore open a pack of tires, and picked one up and shattered a window. I 33
Felipe Cabrera lay down in the backseat, and saw fireworks in the distance, not for the first time that night, and my eyes ached and I was cold. I shut my eyes, still seeing lights, flashing pinwheels of lights, and I pressed the panic button on my keys but I heard no sound. Not at first. I pressed them to my forehead even though the radio waves were eating at my brain. I was awake. I was dreaming. My parents were outside, looking down at me, crow‟s feet around my mother‟s lips and eyes, gray at her roots, a look of disbelief on my father‟s face. My mother, who I realized looked much older than she was at that time, was crying. She didn‟t want to leave me alone. I didn‟t want her to go. But she did. Then my mind flooded with memories. I saw the house I grew up in, the jungle gym where I had my first kiss, swings with red rubber over their chains, a chubby-cheeked girl I used to know. I saw the intersection of Carmine and Bedford, the convenience store I spotted a mousy-faced girl in, my friend‟s apartment where she would later introduce herself as Daphne. My high school calc class with Mr. Shacht, the metal projector, Jenny Romero‟s thigh peeking out from under her skirt. The taste of weed smoke and Parliaments, Dave Matthews Band at Alpine: chatting with the red head on the brown wool blanket about Nickelodeon. I saw multicolored bottles stacked on a shelf in a mirror-walled bar, connected like beads, dark amber rums and cold, clear vodkas, verdant absinthes and pitch black stouts. I felt like I had a vacuum in my brain, sucking out every thought and idea, every memory and expression—it felt like God was in there. I thought of my grandmother when she‟d had her panic attack. “Por favor,” she said. “Go to the doctor with your father. Please.” “No jodes,” I said, which no good Cuban boy would ever say to his grandmother. My father took her to the doctor instead. *** They wheeled me into the psych ward in a straitjacket, like Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. They gave me pills, and mentioned something about Lithium, which reminded me of the Nirvana song, and I remembered reading something about ranchers using lithium to keep coyotes away from their sheep. “You‟re trying to poison me,” I said. “I‟m not a wolf.” I remembered the coyote on the road, the one that caused me to spin out, and I told them about it. They seemed to listen, but didn‟t respond. My brain felt like it was attached to a car battery. I took my meds. I slept. *** I told everyone in group that Obama was going to fix the country and that the Cubs were going to win the World Series and that it was really turning out to be my year, it really was, all this was just an inconvenience. A bald man from group said I was aggressive, that I should stop asking everyone questions about where they were from (“Really, that‟s my personal business,” someone said), and whether they like the Cubs or the Sox (“Neither, I‟m from Milwaukee,” someone else said). The rest of the group agreed, which made me 34
Felipe Cabrera very sad. I hated the bald man. I hated that the group agreed. I needed to use a computer but the staff wouldn‟t allow it. I needed to check my site‟s Page Ranking on Google. *** I haven‟t been able to start my book on account of the meds; it‟s a memoir about the Vietnam War. Of course, I wouldn‟t know anything about that. I haven‟t read the book yet. There‟s a glossary in the back though with military jargon that I flip through sometimes. The first road I came across was “joady”. We‟ve stopped at an ice cream store attached to the side of someone‟s house. This guy James is still with us. He and Daphne met in Beijing. He seems like a nice enough guy. They‟re talking to one another in Mandarin now; I can‟t understand a damn thing they‟re saying. If I‟d gone to war, James would have been my joady. A joady is the guy who‟s screwing your girlfriend while you‟re away. Of course, I‟ve never been to war, so I guess I can‟t really have a joady. But if I did, James would be it. The night before Daphne left for Beijing I called her to tell her my parents tried to have me committed, that they‟d taken me to the ER, had me talk to a social worker, then locked me in a room with padded walls after I‟d yelled at a cop. They left me in there for a while and I had to use the bathroom so I started pounding on the door, but the nurse just ignored me. After a while, it felt like my bladder was going to explode, so I just went in the corner and did my business. Right then the nurse came in and started screaming. I told her to be quiet. When I told Daphne what happened, that they said I‟d had a psychotic break and I needed to go to a place called Linden Oaks for a while, she listened, and said it would be okay, but that was all she said. I asked her to come back to Illinois but she said she had to go and I started crying and I called her a bitch and I hung up the phone. The next day she left. The following week a Wal-Mart manager filed a police report for a broken window and some stolen tires. Since returning from China, Daphne won‟t let me touch her, which I can‟t really blame her for. She says she can‟t “give herself to me”, not after what happened. Before she left for Beijing, Daphne came to visit for a week. Our last night together we had sex in my basement, on an old couch my dad‟s had since college. We used to bang like rabbits before I got sick: in my car, in the showers at her women‟s college, even in a parking garage at O‟Hare. We fucked that night for the last time. It got complicated after that. You never think porn could be bad for you, but under the right state and the wrong circumstances, it can warp your mind. She just lay there while I focused on myself, paying no attention to how she felt. In the back of my head I knew there was something wrong but I—I was selfish. In retrospect, it seems like we were done after I finished, but we‟re still stuck in this limbo. Or perhaps I‟m just hanging on. 35
Felipe Cabrera She loves me, but it‟s different, it‟s more like a debt being paid than gift being given. She feels sorry for me. My memories of our pre-commitment relationship—just images really—are from a fantasy. I dream about kisses, croissants, and Saturdays in Central Park. None of it‟s real. I can‟t help thinking what might have been had I never gotten sick. Under the right circumstances, we might have even… I mean look at me. This is my nightmare. I‟m eating my second cup of cookie dough ice cream with the guy my girlfriend was fucking while I was in a psych ward. And I‟m powerless to do anything about it. I scoop the last bit of cookie dough into my mouth. I spy the novel I gave her peeking out of her purse, where it will stay until she places it somewhere on her bookshelf along with her other books: dog-eared novels, scribbled-in yearbooks, her scrapbooks from summer camp, all the things she‟s collected over the course of her life and set aside.
#16 Contributors Shimmy Boyle has yet to realize his childhood dream of becoming a hot air balloon operator. He enjoys walking places. His favorite animal is the duck; he just feels that it is a great animal. He loves going to the woods. He tends to twiddle his thumbs. He thinks flowers are the best, but feels bad picking them, and then feels sort of silly for feeling bad. His first book of poems, Recipe For a Mountain, was published in February 2010. There is other stuff to see at his website, if you are into that sort of thing. Felipe Cabrera graduated from Princeton University this year with a degree in Comparative Literature. He hails from Naperville, Illinois. Steve Dossey has been published in Rolling Stone (4 issues, a poem in each) and several other books/journals including Black Mountain II, Spit in the Ocean ( photo), On the Bus, Beat Angels, The Beat Vision, Cutting Edge, Haiku Ramblings, and Word Riot ( forthcoming) etc. He recently completed a fiction book written from a woman‟s viewpoint. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Melanie G. Firth lives and works in Fremantle, Western Australia, with poems published or forthcoming in several literary magazines, including tinfoildresses, Breadcrumb Scabs, Rose & Thorn, Muscle & Blood and Sex & Murder Magazine. Erica Goss‟s poems, reviews and essays have appeared in many literary journals, most recently Pearl, Ekphrasis, Café Review, Perigee, Main Street Rag, Dash Literary Journal, Caveat Lector and Zoland Poetry. She was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize and received the first Edwin Markham Prize for poetry, judged by California Poet Laureate Al Young. A former editor of Caesura, Erica writes and teaches in Los Gatos, CA. Meg Johnson's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Slipstream Magazine, U.S. 1 Worksheets, Left Behind: A Journal of Shock Literature, Asinine Poetry, Pacific Coast Journal, Radioactive Moat, Word Riot, and WTF PWM. She was born in 1983 and currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Tracy Koretsky is the author of the poetry collection Even Before My Own Name, which has earned prizes ranging from haiku to prose poem. You will find audio poems, reviews, and interviews on the book‟s website. She is also the author of Ropeless, (Present Tense Press: 2005), a 15-time award-winning novel that will change your thinking about people with disabilities, as well as two other novels: The Body Of Helen, inspired by modern dancer, Martha Graham; and The Novel Of The Century, a romantic comedy about the importance of love, books, and choosing both. Ms. Koretsky writes the “Critique Corner” for the monthly WinningWriters.com newsletter in which she analyzes and suggests revisions of poems sent in by contributors. 37
Christopher Leibow is a poet and has been published in numerous journals such as Barrow Street, Interim, Juked, Girls With Insurance , and Bijou Poetry Review. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Award in 2009 and a Utah Book Award. He graduated from Antioch University with a Masters Degree in Poetry. Being a poet, he needs to find ways to make a living. He has worked as a dishwasher, a shoes salesman, a driver, a security guard, an escort driver, a bouncer, a mental institution orderly, a file clerk, a shipping clerk, and corporate trainer. He lives in Salt Lake City with his ADHD cat Mr. Futzwhittle. Alex Linden is from Phoenix, Arizona. She has just finished her first year as an MFA candidate at Oklahoma State University. She enjoys reading for the Cimarron Review and looks forward to being her school's Creative Writing Association President next year. Ed Makowski is a poet, artist, and writer living in Milwaukee, WI. As Eddie Kilowatt he released two books, Manifest Density and Carrying a Knife in to the Gunfight. Ed likes to ride motorcycles and consider a career in something. John McKernan is now a retired comma herder. He specialized in depleted semicolons and the repair and recovery of derelict exclamation points. He lives—mostly—in West Virginia where he edits ABZ Press. His most recent book is a selected poems Resurrection of the Dust. After almost a decade of working as a freelance photographer in Europe, Maurice Oliver returned to America in 1990. Then, in 1995, he made a lifelong dream reality by traveling around the world for eight months. But instead of taking pictures, he recorded the experience in a journal which eventually became poems. And so began his desire to be a poet. His poetry has appeared in numerous national and international publications and literary websites including Potomac Journal, Pebble Lake Review, Frigg Magazine, Dandelion Magazine (Canada), Stride Magazine (UK), Cha Asian Literary Journal (Hong Kong), Kritya (India), Blueprint Review (Germany) and Arabesques Review (Algeria). His forth chapbook was One Remedy Is Travel (Origami Condom, 2007). He edits the literary ezine Concelebratory Shoehorn Review. He lives in Portland, OR where he works as a private tutor and likes to think of himself as a movie connoisseur. Camilo Roldán has a B.A. in both English and Spanish from New Mexico State University. His work has appeared in recent issues of Sin Fronteras/Writers without Borders and decomP magazinE. The poem included here is from a series titled Episode Episode.
Chantel Schott is a self-taught abstract artist based in Queensland, Australia, who has worked on projects both collaboratively and individually since 2005. Last year she was a finalist in the 2009 Acquisitive Kath Dickson Art Award exhibition in Toowoomba, Australia and runner-up in the Rock the Art Vote competition at sweetriot in New York. Her artwork â€œAt Seaâ€? appears on the cover of the 2010 McGregor Summer School brochure and she was the featured artist at Long Island Arts on-line gallery in New York. An exclusive collection of her greeting cards were stocked at the Darling Heights Post Office in Toowoomba and in 2010 Chantel will appear in several publications including, Kismet magazine, Fally Rag and Shady Side Review. Chantel will exhibit at Mooch Hair Workshop, Brisbane in February, participate in the Sketchbook Project exhibition tour beginning in Atlanta, have works on display at the Hampton High Country Festival, Sanctuary Cove Art Festival and take part in the Virion Digital Art Exhibition in Brisbane. Chantel enjoys working with acrylic, pastels and mixed media with her major focus on creating abstract art. She is inspired by fairy tales, fantasy and sea creatures. Megan Van Dyke will be graduating from UCLA with a B.A. in English this June. She writes fiction and journalism by day, and explores the many hidden corners of Los Angeles by night. She loves receiving emails about literature, music, art, or anything else incendiary: firstname.lastname@example.org. Obsess with her about music at singtomebreathe<dot>blogspot<dot>com.