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Acknowledgements The Editors at Blotterature would like to thank all of our contributors for trusting us to follow through with our first issue and for the support from family and friends. A special shout out to Michele McDannold for technical and moral support. And finally, to Jocelyn and Tom Prue of The White Ripple Gallery & Co. and the local art community for getting involved. The lighthouse bulb might have burned out, but it was smooth sailing just the same â€Ś
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Table of Contents Art Amy Lindsey State of mind It only takes three Cup of Moe Birds of a feather Dyslexia
9 11 26 59 65
ira joel haber Complex Sculpture 1983-2000
Carol Moore Tranquility Phoenix Night Dial
45 50 52
Tim Murray Hambugle Helper
Carla Winterbottom Winnipeg
Fiction K.A. McGowan It ainâ€™t a Jack Cattle technicians and native americans Armed muse
10 11 12
Roberta Turner You might think about your cat
Peter Fraser Madeline
Isaac Blum How to prepare a frozen pizza Sandwich in, sandwich out Carmen Sandiego visits her family
30 32 33
William Taylor Jr. The ghosts of things once beautiful
J.B. Mulligan the penitent Cabbie Mocking statues
49 51 53
Miguel Gardel If you change your mind
Thaddeus Rutkowski Painted ladies
E.B. Ellis Aerobat Green-eyed monster
Non-fiction Nicole Montalvo Cody
Kayla Greenwell North American loneliness History of the imagination
Lee Olsen Where you go
Janine Rivett Chapter 1: Taking out the garbage
Suzanne Cope Blink
Aaron Fine Pink is primary
Toke Hoppenbrowers Not everything that can be counted â€Ś
Poetry Maximillian Jackson Questions for my grandpa The Rev. Dr. Davis Breeden Benediction for the wind
Joe Gianotti Grocery girl Doris Chapulis, Alina Szafranski, Linda Wandel and Gene Hodgkin
Kachan Chatterjee At the cafĂŠ Satori
Kenneth Pobo Just before
Jessica Thelen Weâ€™re rephrasing helplessness Day five knife
Stephanie Schultz White white collars Clouds
Kathe Davis A wound that can save you (Cape Cod October)
David Potsubay Finding Dover
John Swain The park lake
Gary Kay The house was never green
Ted Jackins Side effects may include
Michael Lee Johnson Aging and waiting for death
Mark Lamoureux My elusive dreams after Moses and Joshua Moses and Joshua Dillard
Literary Contributors Art contributors
Cody Nicole Montalvo We were roommates by chance not choice, but I'm not sure if we hated each other out of choice or out of chance. She was probably ninety pounds and just under five feet. If all possible arrangements of human facial features must resemble something more primal (as I believe), then she was a blonde raccoon. She hardly ever combed her hair and she didn't even own a bra and everyone said she was wild, but I knew her as anal and afraid-of-confrontation. She thought of herself as a free-spirit of the forest, but I saw something much more modern and wealthy in her. We shared one tiny bedroom and bathroom in a dormitory in Wuhan in which she insisted on: 1. mothering a plant 2. hanging a tapestry she had bought in Rome 3. practicing fung shui with the beds 4. never spending more than a few hours at a time in, even during the night 5. tidying constantly while playing Elvis and Animal Collective Perhaps if we had not lived together and had perhaps met at an open mic night in Lincoln Park instead, we would have gotten along â€“ but then again had we not lived together I may not have matured the way that I did, so maybe not. She hated me because: 1. I was messy. 2. I had an 11 pm bedtime. 3. I didn't drink. 4. I cried often. 5. I was not social. It has taken me months to put together these simple statements because, being passive-aggressive, she never outright said them. She hated me and I hated her, silently and unharmingly, but still she inspired me to: 1. Shower less. 2. Branch out and form good friendships. 3. Explore land instead of just headspace. 4. Listen to weird music. 5. Do hookah. We had conversations while sitting in our underwear in China but when we ran into each other in Chicago we barely said hello. We shared a bottle of wine the night before we left and there was that one night I walked in on her dancing naked and the morning I woke up to her standing in front of the window in a dinosaur costume and there was the time she really did give me good advice while I was crying. Really, we didn't hate each other. Really, I miss her sometimes.
Questions for My Grandpa Maximillian Jackson What was it like To leave everything you knew behind? Did you cry? Did you refuse to look Back at your family, Your wife and child, Disappearing behind the Mississippi maple trees as the rusty freight train thunders away With you onboard, hiding in the grungy stench of the thick black smoke? What promises did the North hold for you That you could go so long without the woman you loved, Without seeing any of your son’s Firsts? I did it for you. I did it for you and your mother, For all my children, and all your children. What good is a broom when it’s surrounded by cotton and cane? Your feet can jump over and around it, but you’ll always land on another man’s ground. Then, it was freedom and the promise of freedom you ran away to. That pulled you away through the Appalachian trees and Indiana fields. You saw such promises dance on the frigid, Northern wind, warmth you fought for your children to feel Hidden Falling in the winter snow. But, why did it take so long? Did your soles ache from waiting? In your tattered and battle-torn dirt-brown boots, pale gray cement caked in layers on the rough hide? Did you ever find what you were looking for? That better life; Not the white-picket Dream, but just one better than what you had in the Southern dust. How bloodied and calloused were your hands; How gnarled your fingers before they grasped something worth holding on to? How far did you reach? Mom used to tell me stories about you. How you sweet and kind and good you were. What things you did for your children. I can still remember your grandpa, short and stocky man that he was, Arms full of brown paper groceries, Waist-deep in knee-high snow, Marching down 21st to his family. A real man’ll never let his children go hungry. Would you have been as kind and good to me? Would we have been the best of friends? Would you have told me stories about the South, about The breeze and the sun, about the pain and the suffering On that other man’s farm. Will you tell me about your father, and what he did without a thundering train of his own? Tell me why he stayed. Tell me why you ran. To John Morrow—A sharecropper’s son 8
“State of Mind” Amy Lindsey
It Ain’t a Jack K.A. McGowan Latesha Johns got robber’s remorse again tonight. The black oval onyx ring she did a jack-move on Jibbs, her baby daddy sis. Ring hiding way down the flour can. When her Marcus got the flow going good, he like to say, It ain’t a jack if you give it back. But Latesha getting real internal bout it. Jury ain’t no good if you can’t flash it. First she think of axing Marcus to sneak it back to Jibbs, then she want to pawn it cross town. The next line of the rap go, My homeboy said and now he dead.
Cattle Technicians and Native Americans K.A. McGowan Tello couldn’t tell the difference between whipping cream and whipped cream, but he knew firsthand about getting his ass kicked. About surviving a childhood with black teeth and thick eyeglasses. Eating egg salad sandwiches solo in the lunch room. About planning escape routes on the way to school. He studied the wrestler Chief Jay Strongbow and practiced the tomahawk chop and Indian deathblock on his little brothers. Years later, Tello’s anger toward Orange Cowboy Hat still burned. They met in the Green Brick Tavern, and Orange Cowboy Hat was in a wheelchair. Tello had to rethink the past thirty Halloweens.
“It Only Takes Three” Amy Lindsey
Armed Muse K.A. McGowan The mob of temple poets is almost upon me. Probably because I said, “Please don’t mention a poem about a painting or a poem about a sculpture or a poem about a poem.” It’s like this. When a painter paints, she’s doing her own filtering and is already once removed from the actual experience. If you see that painting in a gallery, you are twice removed from the experience. When the poet writes a poem about a painting of an experience, he is three times removed from the experience. I don’t want diluted cherry Kool-Aid. Give me pigeon blood red.
Benediction for the Wind Rev. Dr. David Breeden Benediction for the Wind (on the occasion of a killer tornado) What better way to get people praying than to remind us of random chance? What better way than the cold logic of air rising, falling, killing here, not there; this one, not that. Where I come from we name them by a year: 2011, 1957, 1925, and remember deaths, 695, 255, 12. What better way for the screaming winds to set us praying than the cold logic of random chance? What better way to hold sanity and loved ones close than to set to praying? Where I come from we know the scream of the green clouds well; we know to hug the floor close; where I come from the wind teaches us to pray. Seeds The cattails I brought you have burst long ago & sent their fluff 13
seeding wherever it was you threw them. If only I may let go so flagrantly as the cattails; as you; as wind; the past; the seeds.
North American Loneliness Kayla Greenwell Tiny green frogs lived in the creek that marked the edge of your yard. I covered each of your fingertips with a living-green sponge, laughing. You thought it was stupid and scolded me for being childish, but I was trying desperately to escape your sadness. The trailer went to shit. You let your life sink into the smokedstained walls of a twenty year old rental like a fucked up cave drawing. It was hard to watch, but she was the second wife to leave you for the grave, and you were angry. You, even in your emptiness, slowly began to realize that you cannot stand toe to toe with the man on the white horse and plead your case, because he is not a judge. What can you do but accept his absurdity in the trip between crushed beer cans and unmade bed sheets? You came undone, with your tired soul reflected across dusty couch covers and dirty glass bowls. Your body, torn open and hollowed out in grief, lay in the corner behind your 1992 CR-TV and yellow rose couch. I was dealing with an imposter. That evening I collected dime-sized frogs instead of throwing out decade old bean cans and boxing up tax returns from 1974. I painted the cabinets green for you. We had to sell your trailer because lungs with black spots don’t come cheap. Living with us made us more comfortable for your welfare. You didn’t care. Your neighbor was pissed that I mowed the lawn at 9 that morning. I had to watch the sweat bead down his red face as he screamed and pulled at his ugly jean overalls. I ignored him while walking in straight lines, and feeling the hum of the motor rattle through my joints. I did the chores while you nailed yourself in a twobedroom coffin. They wouldn’t let me put that in the real-estate ad. The frogs are dead and there is no one to mourn them but me. I spend nights in the kitchen, drinking water and burning in the florescent lights. Your fingertips touch every natural waterbed from here to the end of the world, so I keep my eyes forward and I stay far inland. You cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel and I cannot see a tunnel.
History of the Imagination Kayla Greenwell I dream of my grandmother's house often. Sometimes it is beautiful and sometimes I cannot escape myself. I follow me around until I fall or I can't breathe and I laugh. My chest hurts and instead of muscles attached to my bones only dark anxiety infects my marrow. This darkness corrupts my grandmother's house. It is in the empty glasses on the kitchen table, and in the rotting porch outside. It is in the waterlogged lungs of the lake turned monster outback, thrashing and hissing through the oak trees. The â€œno swimmingâ€? sign has been torn from its post. In her house things are missing. The cards in the cabinet drawer are missing. The lazy-Susan is empty, and the front door is never locked. The basement is a misshapen, barren room and I am missing. I am only black marrow now. A vast shed of dusty Christmas decorations and various sharp edges takes the place of the damp garage. Once home to a single black car, it now harbors shadows that cling to every surface. I climb high upon the shelves, to a rusty catwalk. I find an old stuffed animal as the lights go out. My grandmother is calling me from the door on the other side, and as I try to move across the boards I fall. The floor is bottomless. But sometimes, sometimes I find her room. And her room is large and beautiful and bright. I feel calm and happy there. The sky is blue and I can see outside for miles. There is no lake monster or neighbors or cars, only sunshine. It's spacious and the colors swirl like dust in the sunlight and she's standing there, smiling at me. I smile back. She's been waiting for me, unaffected by all the missing pieces. I'm relieved because there is no darkness here, just me. Just me and her in her radiance, sitting in a bright room drinking Swedish tea from colorful china. Our smiles reflect in an antique mirror. No falling here.
Grocery Girl Joe Gianotti You wore your brother’s army/navy surplus field jacket, green and unzipped, and your younger sister’s yellow tank top. You sprouted short, scraggly hair, and long, tanned legs that burst out of scuffed tennis shoes like swirling search lights at a strip club’s grand opening that shone into your white washed denim shorts. Striped gym socks scrunched around your ankles. No bra. You waited a long time to come into my home. You reconnoitered through acquaintances, sent treaties by way of counselors, gained invitation via lieutenants. You walked through my front gate all ribboned and bowed, and I carelessly undid you. You gnawed on me for hours, greedily worked me with your canines, lustily turned me with your forepaws. And in the end, it took me twenty years to write this poem.
Doris Chapulis, Alina Szafranski, Linda Wandel, and Gene Hodgkin Joe Gianotti You rail against your niece’s tattoo, telling me at least once a week that she will grow to regret it. The monologue never evolves, as if you’re reading from a script. You protest your boss’s daughter’s Monroe piercing, except you call it a face earring. She’s on full scholarship, you say. Why would she do that to herself? You have forgotten your thirty something years, but I remember Doris and Alina and Linda and Gene, the girls from U.S. Steel Southworks, in our kitchen, almost every weekend, chain smoking Kools or Newports, drinking Bailey’s Irish Cream, exchanging stories of infidelity, delighting my ears with mill language. You laughed and joked on those nights, as I played more indulgently, running up and down stairs, excited with the other steel-children. I take umbrage with your present judgment, not the freestyler of yesteryear, who spun dirty words together like a hip hop artist. Somewhere along the way you traded Doris and Alina and Linda and Gene for criticisms and commentaries and censures and critiques. But it's not too late to swap again, so if you offer to turn a dream into a reality, a jet ride to the Tate or a transcontinental train trip, you'll find me eager to buck my genetic inevitability.
“Winnipeg” Carla Winterbottom
You Might Think About Your Cat Roberta Turner When you first hear the sound, don’t confuse it with the train that runs behind your building. Especially if you hear the siren that tells the farmers what time it is—7:00 a.m., noon, and 6:00 p.m.— simultaneously, and it’s pitch black in your room. You’re going to want to take time to grab your cat that’s hiding behind the couch, but don’t, you won’t make it. You can’t take anything with you but the shell you were born in—if you’re lucky your soul will catch up later. When the neighbor from apartment #7 , that you’ve only had casual words with, pounds on your door screaming “tornado,” open it and run with him down the stairs to kneel in front of apartment #3, the innermost part of the building. Please don’t get caught up in formalities as he covers your head with the quilt he’s brought and wraps his arms around you. Hold him back, tightly. He weighs 210 pounds and could be considered an anchor. When you hear the neighbor in apartment #3 screaming to her husband, “Oh my God, do you hear that?” You’ll know Mother Nature’s wrath is upon you. And when you feel the pressure all around, inhaling and exhaling, don’t panic—it’s just the twister lifting your living structure off its foundation. It’s a pretty good idea to start praying “The Lord’s Prayer” that you memorized from A.A. meetings, now that it might actually do some good. When it becomes quiet, signaling the passing of the beast, go ahead and kiss the ground; it’s probably the one time you could get away with it without looking like you started drinking again. For God’s sake, don’t think that now, because you and apartment #7 shared a life-changing event, you might bond in another way; every time he sees you, he will be reminded of how he saved a complete stranger while his parents, three blocks away, were killed instantly from the weight of the roof falling on them as they slept. When you finally start sifting through the wreckage that used to be the house that kept all your worldly possessions, you’ll find towels, pillows, pictures with family and friends, and a basket of cat toys, undisturbed, next to the couch that’s had the upholstery stripped clean off its frame. You might think about your cat—and wonder if she died before she was sucked straight up into heaven.
Madeline Peter Fraser In the morning I went round to Madeline’s apartment. It wasn’t much bigger than my hotel room, but there were a lot bigger ideas being created in her Seville domicile. It was a cocoon of industry, all of it coming out of Madeline’s mind. I’ve got an English speaker. Not many of them round here. So I thought you’d be perfect for the job. You know. Like you can only speak one language, which must limit your job prospects I’d imagine. So I’m thinking it has to be you. Ah. She was so thoughtful. Although her assessment of me is a bit simplistic. I have trouble with my own language, imagine trying to learn another one. It was out of the question. All I can do is work with what I already have. And was she talking down to me? Madeline was in her mid twenties, a lot younger than me. She had a comprehensive education in computing and could speak three languages fluently. She was really clever. I couldn’t understand why she wanted to live here. What the hell does it matter where you live? What are you, like 1950’s Neanderthal? You know what year this is? Go on tell me. One computer, one net connection. That’s all it takes. Anyway I like Seville. It’s just the right size. And, you gotta live somewhere, hotel room or apartment, Spain or France or Portugal. What does it bloody matter? OK. Let’s not get too intense. You don’t have to thrash me, just because I’m an itinerant employee. I’m assuming there are some kind of Labour laws in this country? Like casual employment does not mean I become your slave? Hey. I’m doing you a favour. Cash in hand. No questions asked. I said OK. What a bovine. Why, you got opportunities lining up? Have you? In your dreams. Madeline had a very sharp tongue and could be most insensitive at times. I mean I had enough currency, but a little bit of work did come in handy. And joining the workforce, if only for a few hours was an interesting travel experience. She ran a scam dating site on her own. There were so many people preying on the lonely and unloved, I wondered why this sector was not quantified in the national accounts. I think it would be an excellent indicator of economic health. Human emotions contributed most seriously to local income. It kept a range of people solvent and a list of landlords happy, just about everywhere. With her expensive and comprehensive education she had decided her skills could be best used by ripping people off. How did she come to that simple conclusion? Did she learn it? Was it part of her vocational guidance? Or was it in her internal genetic chip? But she certainly took it most seriously. It was a calling, she knew from a young age what she wanted to do. Whereas, I was still unsure. There is time, I reasoned, I must not rush into obligation again. There needs to be a definite disconnection from the past before I might need to commit. She was another woman who locked herself away with an obsessive idea. It was an internet dating site. A saucy internet dating site. Madeline invented all the profiles, both male and female. Later she expanded into the gay market and seemed to be just as successful there. She had created a tiny universe of her own invention, a Lilliput, an entirely new miniature world out of nothing, a champagne bubble, not a big bang. There were thousands of these profiles. The pressure eased when genuine customers eventually joined the site. But then the real work began. The set-up had been completed. She was the administrator and monitored every reply. In real time, this took a lot of energy and expertise. Every reply, inquiry or introduction was scrutinised by her alone. As the traffic increased it became a most specialised occupation. She provided the response from her phantom citizens and then teased the real world customers into wanting more words of love. All supplied by Madeline. And those words of love required a credit card. 21
She felt comfortable enough taking the money, it was just so easy. Love was a fantasy anyway. All those suckers were asking for it. And it appeared everyone was in need of the product. It seemed as if the world could not get enough of the stuff. Madeline provided the nuance of excitement and variation. A difference that was most appreciated. When a real person met another real person, there was that illusive feeling of fulfilment. It was warm and most human. She felt she was accomplishing something. She was doing the world a great favour, by delivering a calm human understanding. The problem was when a real person met a phantom. Eventually the issue was forced. If she ignored it, there was one customer less and she had no intention of letting that happen. Reluctantly she conceded there had to be an actual physical response. And so Madeline rented me to be that physical defence of her realm, to keep Lilliput safe from too much scrutiny. I was the representative of the phantom lover. I was sent out into the city to discharge the obligations of a promised love. For that brief while, I was the English department in her enterprise. So, why we meeting here? What kind of dump is this? You really come here? I mean you take your, say, lady friends here? Ah. It’s perfect for a secret rendezvous. No-one would anticipate any intervention. It throws everyone off the scent. The background for secret love is really not that important. The point is only we know. Yeah? Hope you don’t know any of these bums. What the hell are they doing here in the middle of the day? Is this what the unemployed do? They just drink all day? Is that what they do with their welfare cheques? This country has very high unemployment rates, you must know that and I’d say you could be a little bit more compassionate. Their lives might be most difficult, a few drinks and some company can relieve a lotta stress. Forget about them. Think about us. You told me you’d take me on a joy flight in your own private Gulf jet. And we’re in this crumby bar. How come? You been telling me the truth? Don’t think you have. Service. They have to be serviced all the time. You know air safety. I mean maintenance is legislated, you can’t get around it. Just has to be done. And I wouldn’t want to be too flashy. I don’t want to overpower you with my worldly possessions. I just want you to see me, the real me. You said you got a twelve inch bit of equipment. You don’t look like you have anything like that to me. And that pretty boy suit. Where’d you buy that? Didn’t imagine you’d dress like that. You’re not gay are you? I might have been exaggerating. I mean measurement is relative. I would hate to be quantified on such an elementary basis. But I assure you mine is in full working order. You don’t like my clothes? Come on. This is most cool. Well you’re pretty stylish anyway. I can see how carefully you dress. That is one pretty stylish collection of clothing you’re wearing. Well yeah I am one smart woman honey. It’s called class. I mean if you didn’t know. I shouldn’t have to tell you that. Ain’t it obvious? Well yeah, of course it is. I mean obvious. But you smell kinda cute. Where you get that perfume? Italian. Not French. And is a secret. Oh. Like a bit of mystery. A secret eh? You’re funny. I don’t mean to be. You said you were a black politician, like you’re friends with our President. You said you’d fix me a meeting with him when I went back home, when I left all these slippery foreigners, and the weird language they speak. Is Spanish a proper language? And how come they all speak it? I thought everyone would speak English here. Doesn’t seem right. And you ain’t even black. You’re a whiteboy. And you look too simple to be a politician. You don’t look devious enough and you’re way too young. Although you are kinda sexy. In a boyish way. Ah skin colour. I thought we as a nation had moved on from all that. We should be thinking love. We should be sharing love. We must overcome our history. I mean it is up to us to make a better world. Is there something wrong with my appearance? I’m really not that young, although I do look after myself. Don’t care nothing about your age honey. But I know you are younger than me. Never tried a young whiteboy. And OK, you are no boy, so let’s not play that tune. Guess I’m gonna find out. And all done up like 22
that. Bet you’re as sweet as a baby. Can almost smell the talc. Now’s your opportunity. I mean I do take personal hygiene seriously. Hey you crack me up. Personal hygiene. You talk funny. But what is this? You want me to come across because you take me to some creepy old town bar. Where the hell are we anyway? Is this some kinda joke? Did my husband put you up to this? Ah god, I bet you got photographers waiting. Tell me you don’t. This is not some crazy set up. Is it? I wouldn’t put it past him. I just can’t trust him. There are no photographers. Don’t be ridiculous. You are imagining it all. But I would love to take all those tight clothes off you. You’re here for that, aren’t you? I mean that’s the aim of this. Hey. Well I have escaped for the day, sweety. And you’ve got me a bit hot, I don’t mind telling you. It would be a shame to waste all that preparation. You don’t know what women have to go through. And I had my hair done, you like it? Oh yeah. Cool. And baby boy, I am so up for it. All those emails we sent. I mean you seem to know what a woman wants. You have one creative mind, one saucy lot of ideas. I loved reading all your creepy fantasy. Good. It was no fantasy. And I’m feeling healthy. You’re pretty interesting yourself. Love that lipstick colour. Women don’t always get the colour right. You noticed that? Why do you think that is? I see that a lot. I’m sure we’ll be good for each other. Just know we’re going to have a perfect time. You think so? I mean you’re pretty easy on the eyes. Pity you’re white, but what the hell. And now I’ve been looking at you, you are no chicken, but you do present well. So, let’s get out of this shit box. Lotta creeps in here. Bet they ain’t never seen a lady in this joint before. You got a place nearby? And I don’t mean some cheap hotel. I need a bit of luxury, you know, to perform at my best. And I do like to perform, honey. You won’t forget me in a hurry. Madeline would only pay for two hours and if I incurred expenses I needed an invoice to reclaim them back from her. I was expected to satisfy and conclude the engagement in that time scale. If I didn’t, then the money and time I was spending was my own. And clearly there was to be no monetary encouragement for me to continue any fragile liaison. Oh no, there was to be no love waiting for me. And anyway I couldn’t afford love. It wasn’t really practical for an escapee. You couldn’t fit love in a suitcase. Later that afternoon I arrived at Madeline’s for my cash. Despite her age, she had no hesitation in delivering a bit of maternal advice. She saw it as part of the contract. And I should be a grateful recipient. Got a reply already, from your little afternoon escapade. Oh. Come on. Put your cute arse on that chair and listen up. Got it? She thinks you are one cool customer. You think you are an expert on women? But we both know you are in need of a little bit more education. You’re one sweet puppy. I can just imagine you, like losing control and wanting to lick her all over. Bad doggy. Wish I was there to watch you. Come on, Madeline stop it. You know how old she is? Nope. Fifty-five. Yeah? Not bad for that age. In fact she is pretty good looking and healthy for fifty-five. Mmmm. But you? Let’s like focus on you. Sweety. And the clothes. You take care how you dress, women like that. I know you are no spiv or pimp. Don’t go all coy on me. I know you are more than competent with some women, but not all. Understand? Jesus. I’m not listening. Not one word makes sense. I thought there was a confidentiality. I assumed I was doing you a favour. You wanna comment on my performance? Go ahead. Which you heard from an unreliable participant anyway, tell me all about it. Go on. And I did not lick her all over. That is ridiculous. Why you wanna say that? Hey. Relax. Don’t get too excited, I was just being a bit silly. Wow. You are so sensitive. And you bite back. You were doing me a favour, and really I am most grateful for what you did. I mean thanks. Hey, I don’t want to upset you sweety. My own personal little English speaker. 23
It’s OK. And I’m gonna pay you for it, anyway. No, what you did is good for my business. Really. You cannot beat a satisfied customer. And that’s what you delivered. Honest. Am I sounding ungrateful? No. That is not the intention. Madeline was rambling, which is most unlike her. There was never any time for idle chat, everything had to have a purpose. Casual, social words were for other people, there was just no time for any of that in her schedule. She touched my suit, stroked my thigh, ran her hands through my hair and was generally way too casual with me, which was something I never expected from her. And you are so clean. You know, hygienic. Women like that. I like it. That little tail of yours can wag itself silly. I can just see you rolling on your back and running excitedly around my apartment. Would you like to do that? I can imagine scratching you on your little pink tummy. Ah. I could just take you home myself. Madeline, you are at home. So. Are you really going to pay me? She appeared to be getting unnaturally excited, perhaps at the thought of withholding payment. You doubt me? I sure did. Madeline would do anything to get out of surrendering some of her cash. She would leave it until the very last moment. It seemed to upset her. She would even be friendly if you showed any weakness. But she did hand it over. And to my eyes they were genuine banknotes. Thanks. It was a most pleasant afternoon. That woman was really funny. You know, could play the game. And she certainly was no innocent. She said you were a bit of alright. She’s wondering whether to leave her husband and settle in Seville. I’m thinking she could be most interested in you. What you want me to tell her? After handing over the money, Madeline retreated back into herself. The severance could make her most sober and even depressed. I never enjoyed seeing Madeline depressed. Ha. Tell her to stay with her husband. This place is getting way too familiar with me. I’m starting to know people. I don’t think that’s right. Money needs to circulate, my newspapers kept repeating. Madeline had no intention of encouraging anything as absurd as that. For her, money only travelled in one direction. Then it was trapped and domesticated. I walk the old town streets with golden marble curbing. There are pictures and posters of bull fighters and flamenco dancers. There are fat hams hanging from the ceilings of bars. There are waiters smoking cigarettes outside tapas. There are lottery sellers looking for customers in the same streets. I walk past the Cathedral where Columbus is buried, past la Giralda, the bell tower. There are beggars outside the main doors, and people with physical deformities asking for Euros. There are gypsies in the main square wanting to read your palm. There are horses and carriages for tourists and the smell of an intrusive horse shit. There are nuns shopping and even a statue of a recent pope in the square. There is a long line outside the Alcazar, patiently waiting to be admitted. It is a collection of buildings, begun in the ninth century, by the Moors. My local tourist guide says it is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. Columbus was welcomed back to Spain here, by Ferdinand and Isabella after his first voyage. It is one superb piece of real estate and architecture, right in the centre of Seville. There are tourists scrutinising maps, looking quizzical over the medieval grid of narrow alleyways. There are shops still closed for siesta. The bars seem full, with no lack of patrons. There are customers wanting food and Spanish wine. It seems quite idyllic to me. And now they have Madeline preying on them. She is heartless and greedy. The only aim is profit. Yet it is nothing that Seville has not faced before. The city will blink and she will have moved on.
at the cafĂŠ Kachan Chatterjee she finished her cup flashed a smile and left. . . while my mind kept on toying with the idea, a line, something like: 'I hold the moon on my palm. . .'
“Cup of Mo” Amy Lindsey
Satori Kachan Chatterjee the empty room throbbed with July heat. . . she looked into the mirror playing with her earrings, singing a soft tune, watching his side of the bed. .
Where You Go Lee Olsen Tamil swarmed with taxis—white, four-door Suzukis imported from India, second-hand—tourist movers. I sauntered down the guesthouse steps toward a line of them, nonchalant, pretending I was not in the market for an honest driver. “Hello! Namaste! Where you go?” Every time, where you go? “Namaste,” I replied. “Going to see the temples, but I’m walking, thanks.” “I drive you, no problem. One thousand rupees.” I kept walking, playing it cool, standing out like a sore Western thumb. “No? Eight hundred rupees—maybe—OK, five hundred. I make no profit.” The cabbie clenched his teeth as if I were doing him a great injustice. And perhaps I was—I felt like I was. “OK.” He grinned and ushered me toward his car. I settled into the backseat and he climbed behind the wheel. “What is your name?” “Lee.” “No! This is name for Chinese, I know.” “It’s English, too—some of my ancestors were from—” He shifted in his seat and his furrowed brow appeared in the rearview; our eyes met briefly. “My name, I am Ram. I am great driver for Kathmandu.” Without delay he laid on the horn and eased into the stream of early-morning traffic. At Boudhanath Stupa—as we strolled under swaying prayer flags, around the shrine’s whitewashed bulk —Ram told me about the Tibetan refugees who traveled to the temple to protest the treatment of their people by the Chinese government. Well, everyone travels for different reasons, I thought. Under Ram’s direction, I spun prayer wheels and burned candles, kneeling with dozens of tourists and a handful of Nepali patrons. As we returned to the taxi, headed toward Pashupatinath Stupa, Ram insisted I sit in the passenger seat. “Where you from?” “Canada,” I lied. “Toronto.” “Oh, very nice,” Ram said. “You are married?” “No. Are you?” “Yes! Thirty years.” He slapped my leg with the backside of his hand. “You should be married, too. Find good woman in Kathmandu, take her with you.” “OK, maybe,” I laughed. “Ah! You see this?” Ram gestured toward a segment of the Bagmati River that paralleled the road; trash choked the murky flow and an outhouse stood on stilts over the bank. “Here, the poor people shit in our holy river. It is a very big problem—but, talk about holy shit! Eh?” Ram nudged me with his elbow, eyebrows dancing. “Do you understand?!” “Yes, Ram, I get it.” We laughed, and I wondered how many times he made this joke to non-Buddhist foreigners. God, look at all the trash—Westernization is wrecking this place—“development,” that’s some holy shit right there. At Pashupatinath, Ram drove onto the curb and scrambled out of the taxi. He told me to wait by the car before approaching a group of policemen who took payment from tourists who entered the grounds. I watched as he spoke, shrugging his shoulders and swirling his hands in the air: he was bargaining the price of a sightseer. After several moments, Ram waved them off and strutted back toward me, grimacing. “We will not go in.” “OK,” I answered. “That’s fine.” I probably shouldn’t be in there, anyway. “The price is too much—they think you are rich foreigner.” “It’s OK, Ram. Maybe it’s not good for me to be in there. I’m happy to see it from the outside—” “No,” he said, distracted. “I take you to see people who died in the fire.” 28
“Excuse me?” “We hurry, we see the bodies who died in the fire,” he said, urging me on. “I don’t understand, Ram. What—where is this?” “Come,” he beckoned, frowning. We paced around the temple grounds, on the far side of a tall fence topped with barbed wire. He stared across the complex, squinting and scowling. Behind us, in a field of burnedup grass and litter, a group of young men played cricket. Some had removed sweaters, rolled shirtsleeves, untucked shirttails. An old man in a charcoal-gray threadbare suit hocked newspapers, snacks, and soda from a low table near the fence. Ram bought a paper cone filled with boiled peanuts and ate several, scattering the shells as we walked: “Around here—to the river—but, maybe they are gone—” We passed a bend in the fence and descended a stone staircase, onto a tiled pathway along the Bagmati, past buildings nestled grotto-like into the bank. An old woman bathed in the dark current, thigh deep, naked from the waist up—her distended breasts reached for the water, her long silvery hair unwound and glistening. “Do not look, Lee. Not her,” Ram grumbled in mock disappointment, wagging his finger and smirking; “She is too old for your wife!” We turned the corner, heading back in the direction of the temple. Downstream, above a broad stairway that led into the river, a bare-chested man in short pants swept ashes into the flow while another fed wood into a low fire—orange flames and black smoke drifted up and around a charred corpse. “Oh! The bodies—that died—in the fire—cremation—” “Yes, Lee. What did you think?” He faced me with one brow spiked upward, ogling me like I was mad. I looked again to the smoldering pyre, tracing the smoke upward, to the point where it disappeared against the smoggy skyline. I shouldn’t be here—this is exploitation. “Come, Lee!” Ram slapped me on the shoulder, grinning, as he walked back toward the taxi. “We go to monkey temple.” I asked Ram to drop me at Swayambhunath, my third stop, famous monkey temple on the hillside above Kathmandu. Because he spent the better part of a working day with me, I offered to pay his original price—one thousand rupees. He took only five hundred and, further, insisted on buying afternoon tea for the two of us. “Now we are friends, Lee,” he said. “I cannot take your money!” We sat in the shade outside a teashop, viewing the gnarled mess of traffic and tourists on the street. Before we could finish, Ram stood, paid the server, and nodded goodbye without a word. I watched as his little white taxi merged, cutting back into a procession of the same, headed back toward Tamil.
How to prepare a frozen pizza all by yourself Isaac Blum 1 Pre-heat oven to 425 2 Remove frozen pizza from box and from confusing shrink-wrap plastic undergarment. 3 For crispy crust, place directly on oven rack. For soft crust, place on cookie sheet or aluminum foil. What kind of moron likes soft crust? The people who like soft crust are the same people who buy things from the Home Shopping Network. They’re the people who thought that the new Star Wars movies were better. They mark their parking spaces off with cones, even when it hasn’t snowed. 4 Watch in dismay as cheese drips off the side of the pizza down onto the bottom of the oven. Imagine the moment in the distant future when you will finally decide it’s time to scrape all the old, burnt, dried cheese off the bottom of your oven. Laugh to yourself as you realize that that moment will be after your lease is up. And the landlord still hasn’t fixed your toilet, and you had to jerry-rig the bobby thing to the hook thing with a twisttie, and it works and you’re proud of yourself for being so handy, but that’s the landlord’s job. Speaking of the landlord, he’d be much more attractive if he didn’t have a pony tail. But you could probably say that about all guys with ponytails. 5 Bake for 12 minutes. The pizza, that is. Of course you’re not going to set the timer on the oven. Nobody does that anymore. Just check your watch and come back when the watch reads 12 minutes later than it does now. 6 When your roommate tells you that something’s burning, it’s probably your pizza. Go check. If it’s not your pizza, good. If it is your pizza, curse loudly, turn off the oven, and remove the pizza. Decide whether you’d rather literally eat the pizza, or figuratively eat the seven dollars the pizza cost. As you stare at your crispy crust pizza—at least you got that part right—you think to yourself that you can probably order a pizza for about seven bucks. You check the menu they cram through your mail slot like every day. Yeah, okay, eight bucks, but then you don’t have to make it. 7 “Steve,” you say—your roommate’s name is Steve—“I’ll sell you a pizza for three dollars.” “Is it that burnt pizza?” Steve asks, indicating the burnt pizza. “Yes,” you reply, disappointed that he’s seen through your ruse. He declines the pizza. You feel bad about yourself because you burned a frozen pizza, and you’re too poor to justify ordering a replacement pizza, and you’re not a good enough salesman to pawn your pizza off on Steve. 8 They say that pizza is like sex. Even when it’s bad, it’s good. But you can’t remember the last time you had sex, and you’re not sure if that analogy applies to all situations What if there are, for instance, anchovies on the pizza? You suppose that pizza is like sex in that fish should never be involved.
9 You chisel off a piece of pizza. Itâ€™s not good. But you eat a lot more and you are full, which is what you were going for when you first pre-heated the oven. But you are also sad, which is not what you were going for.
Sandwich in, Sandwich out Isaac Blum Just yesterday, I took the bus back to the burbs from 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. At the bus stop, there was this lady who’d just purchased a really scrumptious-smelling hot sandwich from a street vendor. I think it was a chicken cheese steak. We stood next to each other, waiting, saying nothing. It was a packed bus. There were only two open seats, in the back, next to each other. We sat down. She removed her sandwich from the bag and ate it, taking big aggressive bites like it was the first thing she’d eaten in weeks. But as soon as she finished the sandwich, she opened up the paper bag again, and barfed the entire sandwich right back from whence it came. Sandwich in, sandwich out. It was gross, but there weren’t any other open seats, and at that point the aisles were full of people standing too, so I couldn’t go anywhere. I just had to sit there while she transferred the contents of her stomach into her lunch bag. The paper bag then began to drip onto the floor, and I got a little bit of the well-traveled lunch on my shoe. The woman didn’t ask for help, or make any sounds of distress. She just sat there, like she always carries a partially digested sandwich, in a paper bag, on the bus. She got off two stops before me and left a small puddle of vomit on the floor. When I got home, my mother told me, “That’s what you get when you take the bus.” And usually, I would have been furious and given her a lecture about how embarrassingly out of touch she was. But I just smiled at her and nodded, because she was right, and that’s why I take the bus.
Carmen Sandiego Visits her Family Isaac Blum Carmen Sandiego is in Wichita, Kansas, visiting her family. It is the day after Thanksgiving. Even the leaders of world-wide educational crime networks have families, and things to be thankful for. But Carmen does not feel thankful. She feels annoyed. “Carmen,” her mother asks her, “When are you going to settle down and stop your incredibly widespread international racket? Look at your sister. Don’t you want to have a steady home? Maybe with some little Sandiegos?” Carmen does not want to be grounded. She does not want to settle down. Carmen should be in Russia, manipulating natural gas distribution, or in Angola, making millions in illegal diamonds trade, not in the laundry room, trying to get a ketchup stain out of Oshkosh pants. Carmen is tricky. Carmen is sly. And Carmen is a criminal. Tricky criminals do not make good mothers. She wants to say this to her mother, but she can’t. Instead she looks at her sister Emily, who is balancing her youngest child, Tommy, on her knee. She’s bouncing him up and down, smiling into his beady brown eyes. Emily was always a homebody, always nourishing, always caring. She’d saved every one of Carmen’s postcards, and had them artfully displayed above her desk in her home office. But she never came to visit Carmen. Not in Amsterdam, not in Dushanbe, not in Antananarivo. Emily went to work, attended PTA meetings, ironed clothes. As Carmen mumbles something to her mother about the incompatibility of motherhood and grand larceny, she wanders out of the room, and out of the house. She drives her rented car to Walmart, where she shoplifts a toaster, a digital camera, and a computer game for Tommy. But when she gets back home, Emily won’t let Carmen give the game to her nephew. Emily says Tommy’s not allowed to play computer games, because they’re a “waste of time.”
Chapter 1: Taking Out the Garbage, excerpt from Queen of Lilac Time Janine Rivette I. Syringa Vulgaris, “Lullaby” “Maybe if you pray to your new god, you’ll be able to get rid of me.” Knowing that I intended to drop him off at work the next morning a full forty-minutes away, never again to reclaim him, I smiled. “Maybe I’ll do just that.” We laughed, as hollow as an empty house. I relocated almost every item from Jianna’s room, seeing no reason that she should suffer because her mommy had been a fool for far too long. Besides her belongings, I learned that if a person must choose only that which is important, life boils down to health, photographs and memorabilia, family heirlooms and recipes, and cherished written words. All else is replaceable. “If I go down, I’m taking everyone else down with me!” Javier had claimed multiple times. I was never sure which was worse—the threat, itself, or that it sounded cliché. He meant that he would kill his relatives and me for having “failed” him. He could charm a store clerk easily. Still, he could conceivably shoot a random baker’s dozen and begin the five o’clock news. He could tuck my cat into bed with me for comfort while I was nine months’ pregnant, stressed out and exhausted from working two jobs, and gently brush a lock of hair from my forehead as he wished me good night. Still, he could kick the same cat or imprison him in a drawer or the microwave when I was not home. (Once when Simón went missing, I checked for him in the garbage can.) For all I knew, he would burn my house to the ground, laughing all the while. When I did not meet him at the appointed place and time the next afternoon, though, he began to leave voicemail messages. “Are you all right? Were you in an accident? Is Jianna okay? Hit me back.” As often as he had stranded me in bad neighborhoods across whole cities from where we lived, I had never failed to bring him home. But he found a ride and saw the house emptied. “Don’t do this to me!” The voicemail tone changed. Then, “Your actions are cowardly!” At last, “What about my son?” Do what to him? He had chosen this for himself, for all of us, including his 12-year-old boy, Marcelino, who was supposed to move in with us soon. As for cowardly, just where does physically abusing me while pregnant, eight inches and eighty pounds his junior, fall in the scheme of things? * I had started sleeping in the baby’s room. He would not let me use the baby monitor because it kept him awake, and I did not want to miss her feeding time cries. The 9 x 9 foot room had sky blue walls. A crib strung with pastel sea animals. A blown-glass fairy basking on a crescent moon perched upon a bookcase alive with nursery rhymes and children’s tales. I would play classical lullabies as we fell asleep. But Javier began barging in whenever he damn well pleased. Two nights before I left, he flung the door open, startling us awake, to demand, “Come give me a back massage.” As I followed him into my bedroom, he spouted, “The more you try to pull away from me, the more violent I’m gonna get. I’ll have my way with you.” Dark, dispassionate eyes locked onto my tired blue ones. Even so, his menacing was a shitty diaper that I could not stuff into a full diaper pail. For weeks, I had been obsessed over a single idea: How to leave Javier and never see him again. Stealthily, I filled a friend’s basement with boxes. Outwardly, however, I was compliant. “Jump, Janine!” “How high, Javier?” 34
* “Have a good one,” I told him the morning we fled, choosing my words carefully. “Have a good day” was finite—a single day, which I knew would not be good for him. “Have a good one,” on the other hand, could have meant “day” or “life,” and in my mind, it meant the latter, even though I had serious reservations as to the promise of his future. “You, too,” he called back over his shoulder as he exited the driver’s seat of my car. I cried for half of the sunrise drive west, back to the house. There would be no rebounding from the past year. After a decade of on-again, off-again attempts to help Javier get clean and to make a life together, I knew that I was done, that I was finally leaving this man whose blighted mind thwarted good intentions at every turn. I grieved almost silently, not wanting to startle a dozing two-month old awake. At the shelter, I rang the bell and stated my name into the intercom. Expected, they buzzed me into the first hallway. The door behind me was secured, and the next ring sounded, allowing me into the reception area, and later, the dormitory. I roomed with a seventy-nine year old lady whose husband had threatened her with a baseball bat. It was her second stay. This time, after nineteen long years of marriage, she was divorcing the SOB. She had wanted to leave so badly that she had taken hardly any possessions with her once she’d found the pluck to go. Most residents were in the same predicament. They looked on in wonder at my multiple trips to the car, baby in tow each time, upon arrival. Babies required considerable gear. Besides, I had already lost far too much because of him. I had packed and run boxes to a friend’s house from 5:30 AM until 2 PM nonstop and then, final load at the ready, driven to the safe house, with its ADT security system and enclosed auto storage. Jianna will never remember subsisting in a household with her biological father, at once too loud and deathly silent, who, like carbon dioxide, could enter undetected and still us. Instead, I knew that she would know home, whatever happened and wherever we went together. The elderly woman and I quickly bonded. She had lost her step-daughter, and I had lost my mom. She helped with Jianna while I prepared for work or performed required evening chores. Spending time with her, a Silent Generation woman, made me wish all the more that my mom had had a chance to meet her granddaughter. Within seconds of her being placed in my arms for the first time at the hospital, I thought Jianna looks like Mom. It was as though a part of her had been reborn in Jianna and that, in taking care of my baby, I would, at last, be taking good care of Mom, too. She had hated him. Javier had infuriated Mom to the extent that she once confided, “I wish I could stab him in his sleep!” Such rage emanated from a woman who had never raised her voice in life. * I broke up with him in Spring 2004, intending for it to be for good, but he came home after partying, and we had sex. It was a work night and simply easier to submit than it would have been to say “no.” He intentionally came inside of me. In June, I had a positive pregnancy test in hand. I gave him a card on Father’s Day that read, “Guess what?” “I knew it!” He smiled triumphantly. I had chosen myself. I had bought a house, intending to move without him. But once I was pregnant, he campaign promised me the world, the stars, the moon. I was leery. By July, however, just after our move, in which he moved himself and little more, out partying the night before, I felt renewed conviction that I would be better off raising our child on my own. I asked him to move out. “If you even try to kick me out, I’ll kill Jackie.” My best friend. My best friend was the reason that he had called my God “new” and my church a “cult.” She was a lesbian, and Unitarians accept homosexuals into our congregations with open arms. He threatened more than once to murder my best friend. 35
So he stayed. In August, the abuse began like never before.
JUST BEFORE Kenneth Pobo Late September. I stop in To see my grandfather. The TV plays some game show. As I go to leave, I hear my grandfather say, “Ruth! He won the car!” Three days later he’s dead. His heart. Instantaneous. The only grandchild, I lead mourners up to his coffin. I believe in eternal life--something more fabulous than a new car must be waiting behind door number three. We go out into an early October night, a chill settling in, one we can’t shake.
“COMPLEX SCULPTURE 1983-2000. Mixed. 16½R x 19R x 3R.” ira joel haber
We’re Rephrasing Helplessness Jessica Thelen We’re rephrasing our voices to mean semi-instability. When we stand, we struggle with our feet because pins and needles have pierced the strength in our teeth, which, did we mention, are coming loose. We’re marking with our fingers that are haphazardly placed and we’re wondering with our ears, creating bad reputations for pop singers. We’re nudging with our elbows sharpened to points and in our basement there are some silent sacrifices. And in our castle, we’re knocking intruders down. We’re begging with our stiff neuroses and we’re quoting Walt Whitman in our mumbles (but when a throat goes to closing we know how to excavate feeble lungs). When the painter sends sighs we wait in thunder that we’ve transformed to salt. We’re spitting in a walk that is far too slowthe sluggishness in our chests is what we get for being honest. We’re churning in the waves while our parents shout and we’re ordering our serpents to speak and creating jagged reflections with mirrors, and no one notices. We’ve flattened our flowers in Bibles and we’ve lynched our ankles with bicycle chains.
Day 5 Knife Jessica Thelen
She was like the serrated edge I was on the serrated edge dragged across the flesh of plastic on smooth flesh to skin as pale as soap in the corner as soap and pale simple moon-shine in the night hiding moon-shine in the nightmare of sparkling midnight decision decision if nightmare can be such decision if she can be that awake and bending bars over the moon in the same plastic white edge and sick of turning away of rolling away forgotten and remembered from the edge from a smooth vision by rolling and running the dawn she sighed away sat at my palmâ€™s crest as Sarah showed me the pink scratch not even there from Vermont with darkness in her face like living with no face the mind tired of fear wants sleep like a school you wanted to burn but I never wanted it to end like this
The Ghosts of Things Once Beautiful William Taylor Jr. The bar in the lobby of the Padre Hotel in downtown Bakersfield used to really be something. It still exists in name, but the spirit of the place has long since gone where the ghosts of things once beautiful go to drift forever. For years it was a dive of a piano bar that served all manner of people without prejudice, a haven for normals and misfits alike. Anyone that wanted a drink and didn't cause trouble was welcome there. Everyone just drank and smoked and got along and nobody bothered anybody much. On the weekends an old guy smoked endless cigarettes and played the piano just like in the Billy Joel song. We all circled around on our stools and sang and drank cheap, strong drinks and it was as glorious as anything you could imagine. But this was decades ago. At some point the hotel, and the bar along with it, closed down due to legal matters I could never make much sense of. It was closed for years, and when the place opened again it was unable to reclaim it's former broken-down grandeur. The bar in its new incarnation is a generic hot spot for fashionable locals and the occasional tourist. No piano man, no freaks, none of its former charm. Lots of neon and weak, overpriced drinks-the antithesis of all the place once was. You couldn't imagine anything magic ever happening there again. The best nights at the Padre I spent with Greta. I was in my twenties and Greta was legally too young to be there. Two or three nights a week I'd pick her up at the apartment complex where she lived with her grandmother, then we'd stop by a liquor store for booze and cigarettes. Greta would steal the cigarettes while I bought the alcohol. I told her it wasn't necessary, but she enjoyed the danger of it, and to her credit, she never once was caught. I was still living with my parents and they didn't particularly approve of my relations with Greta, so we'd drive to a park or a quiet street where the cops didn't come around, and we'd drink and smoke and listen to music on a portable tape player that I always kept in the back seat. It was on one of those nights that Greta first suggested we try the Padre. She told me she could drink there on weeknights when Mabel was tending bar. Mabel was the grandmother of one of Greta's friends, and fairly susceptible to Greta's considerable charms. Greta knew her schedule, and one Wednesday night we walked in, and sure enough, Mabel, just as Greta had described her, was leaning on the bar. Mabel was a large woman with a voice that sounded like a lifetime of cigarettes. She eyed us wearily but without malice as we entered the place. While quite the circus on the weekends, the Padre was generally quiet during the week. Dimly lit and all but empty, the piano pushed into a corner, abandoned until Friday night. The jukebox was there against the wall, stocked with decent stuff. Greta greeted Mabel by name as we entered, then immediately headed to the machine and filled it with five dollars worth of Patsy Cline and Roy Orbison. She seated herself at a table in the darkest corner in the back while I went to the bar and ordered a round of gin and tonics. Gin and tonics were Greta's thing and I eventually grew a taste for them. She considered them a particularly classy and romantic cocktail. As I ordered the drinks, Mabel glared back to where Greta waited but didn't press me for her ID. Greta and Mabel had forged an unspoken understanding: as long as Greta came on slow nights and stayed out of trouble, Mabel would serve her. This was generally workable as long as we moved along after a couple rounds. Greta tended to get dramatic after a few drinks, imagining herself a character in one of the classic noir films that she so adored. She looked the part and was adept at the role. When drinking at the Padre, I'd keep a close watch on her, and when her voice started taking on that familiar cruel edge, I'd do what I could to usher us out of there before things had a chance to go south. This particular evening started off well enough. Greta was in a good mood and was in fine form overall, channeling her best Jean Harlow. She sat across from me, smoking stolen cigarettes and sipping her drink through a little red straw. She gazed down into her glass as Walking After Midnight played on the juke. “Do you love me?” she asked, not raising her eyes. “It's quite possible,” I said. It was an honest answer, as I imagined the jumble of things I felt for her had to be some version of love. “I thought so,” she said matter-of-factly, slowly stirring her drink. 41
I knew better than to toss the question back at her, so I stayed quiet. Mabel smoked and leaned on the bar, gazing expressionlessly at us from time to time, then turning her attention back to the sitcom silently playing on the television mounted upon the wall. The only other patron that night was a regular. A middle-aged man who drank Coors Light and sat at his table with a faraway gaze. He was a disheveled thing with sad, gentle eyes. Overweight and soft, never seeming quite in focus. He never spoke, but sometimes if the juke played a song he was fond of, he'd raise his beer and sway it slowly in the air, as one would do with a cigarette lighter during a power ballad at a rock show. This evening he just drank and stared into whatever lost world was haunting him. At some point it started to rain. It was a hot and humid August in Bakersfield, and Mabel left the door propped open despite, or because of, the weather. We had just started our third round of drinks when the wheelchair rolled in. He was alone and drenched from the rain. He had the look and smell of a wet dog that had nowhere in particular to go. He was maybe fifty years old, dressed in a worn black leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. A tattered black cowboy hat upon his head. He glanced around the room and smiled to no one in particular, then wheeled himself to the bar. Mabel turned her attention from the television and gazed at him with slight apprehension. The man stared at her and waited until she eventually shambled over to where he was. “Quiet night in here,” the man said. “It's a Wednesday,” said Mabel. “And it's raining.” “Can I have a Budweiser?” “As long as you pay for it, you can have anything you like.” “Make it two, then.” Mabel brought the wheelchair man his two beers. He immediately opened one and downed it in a single drink, all of us in the room watching noncommittally. He sat the empty can on the bar as if he had accomplished something of great note, and seemed slightly disappointed that no one cared to acknowledge it. He took his remaining beer and wheeled himself over to the jukebox. Greta's eyes narrowed as he approached the machine. “Who's he?” she asked, somewhat louder than was necessary. “I don't know,” I said. “I don't like him,” she said. “It'll be okay.” “What's he doing? He's gonna fuck with our music.” “It'll be okay,” I said again, but was secretly growing a bit concerned myself. Roy Orbison crooned his sorrow as the man fed a few dollars into the slot and made his selections. When he was finished, he wheeled himself to a nearby table and worked on his second beer. When the Orbison track was done, Creedence Clearwater Revival started up. Greta dug her fingernails deep into my arm. At the first note the wheelchair man raised a fist into the air. “Yeah!” He shouted. “Let's hear some rock and roll!” Greta winced and squeezed my hand until it hurt. The wheelchair man bobbed his head intensely to the music. He drained the remnants of his beer and wheeled himself into the center of the room that sometimes served as a small dance floor. He spun his chair around in circles, first in one direction, then the other. Then he tilted himself so the back of his chair almost touched the floor and spun around some more, the front wheels of his chair spinning and turning about in the air. “What's he doing?” Greta asked again. “Dancing, I think,” I said. Greta let loose with a gasp born of both amusement and horror. “Stop,” I said. “Get me another drink,” she answered. I knew it would be pointless to debate the matter and headed back to the bar. As I did so, the Creedence song ended and Patsy Cline started up again. As I ordered the drinks the wheelchair man rolled up beside me. “Man,” he said, “What's with all the sad ass country music? Who's filling the juke with this shit?!” 42
“Me, I think,” I replied. “No offense man,” he said, “but this stuff's as depressing as hell. I'm here to have a good time!” I did some awkward combination of smiling, nodding and shrugging before heading back to Greta with the drinks. “Was he talking to you?” She asked as I sat down. “A little,” I answered. “What did he say?” Before I could reply, he was there at our table, fresh beer in hand. “How you all doing?” he asked amiably, making himself immediately at home in our formerly private corner of the bar. Greta shot me a look as if to convey that she couldn't believe I was letting this happen, before turning to the man. “We were doing fine”, she said. “You actually like this music?” he asked. Greta just stared. “Well, to each their own, I guess. It sure depresses the hell outta me. Anyway, I'm Mac,” he said, seemingly unphased by Greta's lack of enthusiasm at the fact of his presence. “What do I call you?” “Ben,” I said, shaking his extended hand. He turned to Greta and waited. “Ethel,” Greta eventually said, staring at his outstretched hand until he lowered it back to his side. Then a Zeppelin song started up “Yeah!” Mac said, toasting the air with his beer, “that's what I'm talking about!” “Must you play this horrible music?” Greta asked. If he heard the question, Mac gave no sign. He was already back on the floor, spinning his chair and bobbing his head. “Be easy on the guy,” I said to Greta, “he's just trying to have some fun.” “I hate him,” she said, “He's ugly and his music is bad.” These were two faults that irrevocably doomed you in Greta's eyes. I sighed, and we sat there drinking our drinks and watching Mac dance. He spun and jerked to a few more songs until another one of our selections came up and he wheeled himself back to our table, sweating and out of breath. Greta glared at him, making her contempt as obvious as she could manage. “You can't dance to this stuff,” he eventually said. “No one's asking you to,” Greta replied. “Hey, look, I'm just trying to have some fun,” Mac said. “You could have it somewhere else,” Greta said. “Listen, little girl, I'm a veteran. I don't need the attitude.” “You're bothering us and I'd like for you to go away.” “Your girl's got a mouth on her, son,” he said, turning his face towards mine. “She's got no respect. I'm a veteran. I've made sacrifices so she can live a comfortable life. I don't give a shit what you think about my music, but I've earned respect.” “Look,” I said, “I'm sorry. She's had some drinks.” Greta wrenched her hand from mine and turned to Mac. “Look, I don't care if you're a veterinarian. We are trying to enjoy ourselves and you and your horrible music are preventing us from doing so.” Mac's face flared with a sudden rage. “Little girl, if you were a man, I'd smack the shit outta you right now.” “Mabel!” Greta yelled towards the bar, as if she'd be waiting for her cue. “Maaaaybel!” Mabel scrambled to our table as fast as she could manage, cigarette dangling from her lips. “What's going on here?” Mabel asked, half out of breath. “I told you to stay outta trouble, Greta. I'll 86 your sweet ass, don't think I won't.” “Mabel! This man is drunk and threatening me! He's threatening bodily harm!” “What'd you do to him?” Mabel asked. “Nothing! He just came to our table and threatened us! Out of the blue!” Mabel turned to Mac. “Listen, sir, I don't know exactly what's going on, but this is a neighborhood 43
establishment. We keep things quiet and don't tolerate violence. If you're going to cause trouble, I'm going to have to ask you to leave.” “Trouble?” Mac stuttered, “I'm a veteran. I have a right to drink my beer. I fought for your freedom!” “Look, sir. I appreciate my freedom, I truly do. But I can see you're drunk and irate and I'm going to have to ask you to leave.” “Drunk? I have a right to be drunk! This girl,” he spat, pointing at Greta like she was an unholy thing, “isn't even old enough to be in here!” “Sir, am I going to have to call the police?” “Police?” Mac repeated, unbelieving, “Police?” He crushed his empty can in his hand and bounced it off the wall behind the bar. “I'll have you shut down!” He spat on the floor in front of him, spun his chair from the table and wheeled himself out into the darkness and rain. “Shut down!” he yelled again as he disappeared into the night. Then the place was quiet again, and felt once more like it was supposed to. Patsy Cline sang Crazy. The sad soft man sat at his table, staring off into his faraway place. “Greta,” Mabel sighed, “if you're going to cause trouble I can't let you drink here.” “He played such horrible music,” Greta said. “Yes,” Mabel said, “he did play horrible music”. She shuffled back behind the bar and made us one last round. “I can't believe you let that man speak to me that way,” Greta said. “Greta,” I answered, “he was a veteran.” It was still raining when we left the bar. The neon sign on the roof of the hotel blinked and buzzed through the torrent as we made our way to the car. I was in no condition to drive, but Greta's place was just a straight shot down H Street. I'd made the drive many times before in sorrier states. We were at a stoplight a few blocks away from the bar when Greta shrieked. I turned to see her hand over her mouth and her finger pointing to something outside the passenger window. I looked in that direction, and on the sidewalk beneath the corner streetlamp Mac's wheelchair lay on its side, Mac beside it like something spilled out of a grocery bag. He was flailing his arms about like the legs of a dying insect in a futile attempt to right himself. Greta took her hand from her mouth and burst into enormous laughter. Then I was laughing as well. I couldn't help myself. We sat there like that, both of us obscenely drunk and laughing to the point of tears, and Mac there on the ground, arms flailing, the bent wheels of his chair sadly spinning as the rain poured down upon him. Eventually the light turned green and we continued on our way, still laughing, leaving Mac helpless and abandoned in the downpour. And then the flashing blue and red lights were in my rearview, accompanied by the quick burst of a siren. I cursed the world and pulled over. An amplified voice instructed me to get out of the car and I stepped out into the rain to be greeted by the two police cruisers pulled up behind us. A pudgy cop with dank breath who seemed to be in a constant state of amusement soon had me in the back of his car, waiting to be driven to the county jail where I would spend the next eight hours in the drunk tank, my own car left behind to be towed at my expense. The other cop, a dull-eyed beast of a man, drove Greta home. Weeks later, over a round of gin and tonics, she told me that she fucked him.
“Tranquility” Carol Moore
Blink Suzanne Cope I focus my eyes to watch my nieces and nephew and their friends – seven children under the age of seven – splashing in the shallow end of the pool, all but the oldest two with blow-up plastic floaties wedged onto their upper arms. Then a long blink; I am teetering on the edge of sleep. My eyes open and I see the two toddlers peel off their arm floats and run inside the gaping glass doors where one of their mothers is making lunch. My lids sink closed again. After five days of a spring vacation with my extended family, the yells of seven young children have finally receded to background noise. My husband and I, childless, savoring the final hours of sunshine before the long flight home, have chosen deck chairs near the deep end of the pool. I can tell by his rhythmic breathing that he has succumbed to sleep, as I hope to as well. My eyes close for a few moments and the laughter of the children grows fainter still, as if in a dream. Then I open them again and focus upon the two-year-old boy, back outside, who is now jumping from the edge of the pool to the top step, which is less than a foot underwater. My eyes close. They open. Again from the edge of the pool he jumps, landing on the step – it must be five feet wide, just that morning I sat on it and dipped the baby’s legs into the water – laughing, calling to his six-year-old sister who is diving to the bottom to pick up neon sticks thrown by his mother’s best friend. My eyes close. They open. Instead of climbing to the pool’s edge to jump again, he hops from the step further into the pool. They close. My eyes open in time to see the toddler dip below the surface of the water. He is no longer on the step, but a foot further out, where the water is three feet deep. A grandmother is an arm’s length away, her back to him. She is holding the baby. He sinks, but then his arms breach the surface of the water, then the top of his head, and then they disappear. “Lucy,” I call to the grandmother, half-asleep. Lucy has raised two boys, is now a grandmother to four. She will tell me, the only woman among the half dozen adults present who is not a mother, that this is what boys do. But she doesn’t turn around – there is too much yelling by the six year olds diving for glow sticks, the boys shooting each other with squirt guns. All Lucy has to do is extend an arm, she is that close. I see little hands reach above the water once more, then sink. My eyes are open now. “Lucy,” I yell again, but she doesn’t hear me. I am standing, suddenly awake, taking long strides across the deck. “Lucy!” And then I jump in the water.
White White Collars Stephanie Schultz -
After Denis Johnson
We work in this bakery and we are hideous in button-down shirts and black pants, you know our clothes woke up this morning and tried crawling away from us on the floor, sneaking under doors and hiding in corners, filled with rage, turning and returning like the flames in the fireplace that make me sweat among these diabetic fools. My cash register smells like other peopleâ€™s pockets, but here one weeps to see the pennies laid down for caffeine, an early morning sugar-rush rising with the morning clouds and sun, the steam from croissants congealing in the air around our heads on Grand Avenue. But my belly refuses to be like the old men in this breakfast club, sipping from ceramic mugs filled with dark roast and secrets, next to light and flames, setting down on the counter before me all their previous lives.
Clouds Stephanie Schultz At that time the earth was so high up women hung out clouds and laundry on the same line¹ except at Lítla Dímun the smallest Faroes island inhabited only by sheep, petrels, and puffins the entire island a cliff with no shore just floating lonely near Denmark between the Norwegian Sea and Atlantic Ocean sometimes clouds dipped down to cover its plateau peak sometimes clouds wrapped their mouths around the whole island as if the earth was something to swallow ¹ From She Says by Venus Khoury-Ghata
the penitent JB Mulligan If it werenâ€™t so hot, perhaps she could think of something other than the clammy hands or her robe pressing on her skin. She feels like tearing the robe off and screaming at it, but she would die for that. She wonders if death is cool. Perhaps it is. Whatever it is, death will probably not be as she has been told it will be. That rarely happens. They have been standing in the sun since noon, and now he finally passes, a small man who carries an orange out in front of his face, and stares at it and weeps. She cannot understand the words of his incantation: he is weak from the heat and speaking softly. But she knows them by heart, she has been through this ceremony every year since she was seven, and now, for the first time, it strikes her how funny he looks, and how the orange looks somehow like a little face, even though it has no features to speak of, just wrinkles. She stifles her laughter and realizes that this whole farce is meaningless, and finds that she is crying. She is glad that the tears mix with the sweat. She starts to shake gently, and to sway, and the woman next to her asks her if she is all right, and she answers with a smile and a glance up at the burning sky. The woman examines her briefly in silence, looks away toward the receding form of the man, glances briefly back at her, and turns away again. She breathes slowly to calm herself, and tries to look like everybody else.
“Phoenix” Carol Moore
cabbie JB Mulligan Nomad for the home-bound, the theater-bound, the sex-bound. Freighter on the rain-polished midnight streets, bearing cargo towards sleep, nightmares and fantasies. This is what he does. Far away from family, from the daily growing and growing away of children, the stranger chained by his ring, this is what he is. He paints his world with many different colors, since it's varying grays, crusted with slush or ripe with summer's heatfashioned shit perfumes. â€œRedolent,â€? he heard a woman say once, drunk and breasty, just before she left him, unsure if it's a curse or an endearment. Whoever he was got out long ago, and beat him for the fare. His coffee saves him, keeps saving him, won't give up.
“Nightdial” Carol Moore
mocking statues JB Mulligan Our statues mock us. From pedestals in the hushed halls of government, from parks and boulevards as they loom above snarling mobs, they laugh at us. It doesn’t matter that we worship them as we worship the carved deities and saints of our holy places – their laughter is always in the air, cold like autumn wind before a thunderous rain. They taunt our meager abilities, which of course are not as theirs were, but are enough to feed us and our families, and get us through. We read their sacred words – which are not always so sacred, so we can smile sometimes and think, “Yes, I’ve felt like that myself,” and see that they are not always that different – and we repeat those words aloud, as if we were the first ones saying them, but we fool nobody, least of all ourselves. Sometimes one of the statues escapes from its frozen greatness, springing down to glide among us like a graceful sloop, pale and tall and smooth. They avoid the stairs, and are frequently stymied by the street corners. Of course they don’t speak to us, and we dare not address or question them. Still, sometimes one of them falls (or is nudged as it passes, let’s be honest, or even shoved over by the sudden storm of a crowd), and people gather around the chunks of shattered marble, tisking about vandalism, and smiling discreetly, while the street cleaners shovel the rubble into trucks and haul it away. For a while, the pedestal is empty, like an unfulfilled promise, but then it is replaced, and we herd past, declining to look up at it. But the laughter, for a little bit, is absent, and we hear only the wind as it jumps and slaps at the trees like a kitten.
A WOUND THAT COULD SAVE YOU Cape Cod October Kathe Davis It's not easy keeping a corpse in your basement dead seal in the closet nor easy getting rid of them. Those I rely on are not what they seem: best friend sleeps with a bedpan; my sister keeps a purse hanging from her bra. My son is going to Czechoslovakia which doesn't exist any more and that is real life. The salt marsh is French wheatfield gold grey scudding the sky water blue as an eye anyway and the afternoon light intense and late makes everything more itself the complete palette also not a dream. If I could slide the corpse which is not my doing out into this light would my shoulders stop aching?
Finding Dover David Potsubay Driving in surreal Amish countryside, 2:30 at night, the car radio is broken, and hallelujah static assaults our souls, as my friend and I try to find Dover. 2:30 at night, the car radio is broken, so we rig a guitar amp to a dusty jack. As my friend and I try to find Dover, Pink Floyd bends our searching psyche. So we rig a guitar amp to a dusty jack, Hold the wheel, Todd, I need a hit. Pink Floyd bends our searching psyche, David Gilmour’s solo eats us alive. Hold the wheel, Todd, I need a hit, become lost in marijuana mindscapes; David Gilmour’s solo eats us alive. We’ve reached the coastal plains. Become lost in marijuana mindscapes, heading South, music gone soft acoustic. We’ve reached the coastal plains, as morning sun reflects in salt marshes. Heading South, music gone soft acoustic, We’re out of weed and gasoline, as morning sun reflects in salt marshes. A sign reads, in miles, Dover 100.
If You Change Your Mind Miguel Gardel She said she didn’t understand my work ethic. I didn’t understand it myself. I didn’t even think I had one. I wasn’t clear on what it was. But she said she was concerned for me. “I’m not sure you’re going to amount to much,” she told me. It didn’t surprise me. She was working her way up to where it would hurt. We were sitting in her car and she caressed the wheel gently with her fingers as she talked and took glances at me for emphasis. Her eyes were dark and matched her jet black hair. She stared at me abruptly and said she didn’t mean to hurt me. “I’m not hurt,” I said. She was pretty and I never tired of telling her. She must have liked it but never really showed it and never said she appreciated me flattering her. Her name was Vickie Barone and her father was a carpenter and a union man. She liked talking about her father because he was always working, and only mentioned her family to me in relation to labor. She grew up that way. We met at a party and the first thing she said to me was, “Where do you work?” Then I was working. Now I wasn’t. I was not employed in any of the factories in town. It was a mill town in Massachusetts. I had been there six months and had worked first in one mill and then in another. Mills were big places where people worked for the owners and their owners, the banks; and once, many years ago, these places ran with steam; and canals were dug up to use the water from the Merrimack River; and I guess the original workers were farmers who were not doing too well working the land. But almost the complete history of the town was pretty much immigrants come and work a lifetime and then move away and other immigrants come and labor some more for the big owners who own everything. At first I thought of it as a dreary town, a town with not much life in it, but then I started to meet people. Vickie was eighteen and owned a good car and had graduated and was going to continue school in another place, another town. Meanwhile, she had a job as a secretary in a nearby mill town. She was going to get a good education so that she would be able to get a good job. “Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?” I didn’t think so, at least not for me. I was a year older than her and had not graduated from anything and, quite frankly, I didn’t like work. I didn't like school either. But being unemployed was really oppressive. I had to listen to people tell me all the time that I seemed to “have something” but that if I didn’t get it together soon I was going to be a failure. To Vickie it didn’t seem I had much going for me. Yet, I thought that if I did work consistently like she was doing I’d truly be a loser. I would lose all the time she was wasting away in school and job. Without saying it she felt her situation gave her authority over me, and it was her car, it was her pot, and it was her music. And she had society on her side, which dictated I had to be meaningfully employed, or at school. The crazy idea that hanging out at the library can make a writer out of me “just doesn’t cut it.” So I told her I was looking for work and might start soon at the General Hospital cafeteria washing dishes. “Well, that’s something,” she said. I hoped that would be it. I wanted her to stop talking about work. We were high. We had smoked the pot she had brought and we were sitting in her car by the railroad tracks. It was romantic, we both thought. She had told me all her boyfriends before me had taken her there and that now she was taking me. “Here we are,” she said. She smiled and glanced at me. She raised the volume on the song we both had agreed we liked. And for a long time we stared at the railroad tracks in front of us. * The first girl I went out with in town didn’t have a father. She liked the idea of me being from New York. She liked it that school meant nothing to me and that I was educating myself. “You’re an autodidact,” she said. I was not familiar with the term and she savored that fact because her estimation of me was getting higher and higher and now my little ignorance and my acknowledging it raised her higher than she was at the beginning of our encounter. (“Inside,” she told me, “I’m very shy and lonely.”) So we were both high. The way it should be. She liked the library but was never sure what books to read and I turned her on to a few of my 56
favorites. After she had read one of them she said she was eternally grateful to me for guiding her in my favorite writer’s direction. This writer, she said, “Is now my favorite writer.” Her name was Sophia Consoli and she had been traumatized by her father’s absence and by he himself. Yes, the sonofabitch did not acknowledge her as his kid, and in her early puberty, on an unannounced visit, tried to use her cute pubescent body for his perverse sexual pleasure. Sophia never told her mother. She feared her mother more than what had happened. She feared her mother’s tongue, and she feared her mother’s arms and hard hands. Sophia’s mother was “old fashioned. She thinks she can kick the shit out of anybody.” She had made Sophia cry many times, “But never has she made me a little happy like other mothers do.” The drama in the house was too much for me. The mother stayed single forever and the father, who was “not her father,” had four kids from his one and only wife. And Sophia’s mother dated him for years and years and treated him to all the pleasures and delights that could be had. Sophia said to me, “Whenever you’re ready to go back to New York, I’m going with you.” She was just saying that because she was hurting so much. But I knew she would never leave her mother and her mother would never let her leave. They both knew without ever saying it. Sophia’s mother didn’t like Puerto Ricans and told me so over Thanksgiving dinner. “I don’t mind you people coming to work here,” she meant to the town, “but why do you have to make a mess out of things. And for Heaven’s sake why can’t you speak English!” “Mom, he does speak English!” Sophia said. “You, shut up! Don’t you have any manners! I’m talking to your friend here…” I had a good dinner. Sophia’s mother was funny, like a caricature, and I don’t think she meant any harm. I mean, she didn’t reach for a shotgun or anything. But, just in case, to be safe, I told myself, “Don’t ever come back here.” * While I waited for the hospital job I hung out at the park, the common, with the guy who had introduced me to Vickie. He had come to town not to work but to get away from the police and, perhaps, from his criminal friends back in New York. But, at the beginning, circumstances were not in his favor, so in the end he did labor, beside me in the gigantic shoe factory where we packed shoes on the assembly line. Now we were both unemployed. He knew the town better than I did and he was a good dancer and knew the places where the locals gathered to have a good time. I liked to dance too. And Vicky was a great dancer. She liked my friend better than me, maybe because he was a better dancer. But when she found out he liked to brag about how tough he was back in New York she tired of him. One day at the park he asked me to go with him to get some money his friend owed him. I went with him and stayed in the car while he went up to see his friend. When I thought I had waited too long, I went up the stairs to the building looking for the apartment. And there was my friend in the hallway leaning one shoulder against the door and holding a screwdriver between his hands. “What are you doing?” I said. “He’s not in,” he said. “I’m trying to open the door so that I can get my money.” “You’re going to rob him?” He didn’t answer. “I’m leaving,” I said. He didn’t answer, and I left and walked back to the park. * When I began to work at the hospital, Vicky was very proud of me and visited me and watched me wash dishes in the cafeteria. And in the evenings we’d go sit in her car by the railroad tracks and make out while listening to the song we had agreed was our favorite. At times she would whisper some of the words into my ear. On a Sunday afternoon Vicky and I went to her house when her parents weren’t home. She had a room that was decorated with toys from her childhood. There was a chimp sitting on a stack of pillows on a chair near 57
the bed. It had a real cigarette in its mouth and, for the hell of it, I pulled it out, lit it, and smoked it. It was stale. Vicky said I had to give the monkey one of mine. “He likes fresh tobacco,” she said. She smiled and I could see clearly how attractive she was. It was snowing outside, and it was cold inside the house but Vicky couldn’t get the heat started. We smoked a joint and got under her blanket and made love. Afterwards we were not cold anymore. We were leaning our backs against the pillows and I had reached over and snatched the fresh cigarette from the chimp’s mouth when Vicky suddenly jumped out of bed and said, “That’s them!” She heard her parent’s car in the driveway. I put the cigarette back in the monkey’s mouth and looked for my clothes. They were strewn all over the room. I couldn’t see what Vicky was doing but all she kept saying was, “Hurry, hurry...” When they stepped inside the house I had my pants on and was buttoning up my shirt while sitting on the sofa. Vicky introduced me and they stood there and watched me finish buttoning up, and were still there when I began to tie my shoes. They were gone when Vicky said, “Let’s go.” * I worked two months in the cafeteria and then decided to move on. I went to say goodbye to Sophia but her mother told her not to let me in. “I’m in no mood to see Puerto Ricans. If you want to talk you go outside...” Sophia apologized and said, “Someday I’ll move to New York and we’ll do all the things we talked about. I’ll continue to read our favorite author. Isn’t that what you want me to do?” “Of course,” I said. * I spent my last night in town with Vicky in her car, by the railroad tracks. Vicky said her mother almost had a heart attack and was so sick after she met me that she had to go see a doctor. “I’m sorry about that,” I said. “But let’s not talk about it too much. I don’t want to feel guilty.” “You don’t have to feel any guilt,” she said. “That’s just the way my mother is. If she knew you, she wouldn’t feel that way.” We stopped talking about her mother but mentioned how good it was to have spent that snowy Sunday together. We smoked a joint and listened to our favorite song and I looked out towards the tracks while Vicky whispered some of the words into my ear, “... if you change your mind... if you change your mind...”
The Park Lake John Swain In city winter, the smoke adorns like she warms her throat to let go of her own song in everything. For her aching I am sorry, I still feel our trying against bandages like a tree beneath snow. She floats like the ghost of a bird over the park lake in the vision she transformed to be herself. The solitude of her art gathers others to their voices and devines the life inside the unseen.
â€œBirds of a Featherâ€? Amy Lindsey 59
PAINTED LADIES Thaddeus Rutkowski Early in the day, my parents dropped me off at my grandparents’ house—a wooden two-story on an old suburban street. When we arrived, my grandfather was “out doing his business,” my grandmother said. I lay on the couch in the living room and watched morning television shows while my grandmother did housework. Her mother—my great-grandmother—sat without moving in a straight-backed chair. The older woman, as far as I could tell, did not speak English. She spoke Polish, and broke from it only to call me “stupid” when I got up and ran around the room. Her mother, my grandmother told me, was born in Trzaski. The town was in Pomerania. “You know,” she said, “that’s where Pomeranian dogs come from. My mother came to this country because she heard that women here live the life of a dog. They lie around all day and do nothing.” * Shortly after my parents brought me home, my mother announced that she had to go to the hospital. The reason was, she was going to have a baby. I thought babies arose spontaneously. When it was their time to arrive, they just appeared. I didn’t know why my parents were hurrying to leave. I didn’t see the emergency. On their way to the hospital, my parents dropped me and my sister off at my grandmother’s house. As before, our great-grandmother was sitting in her chair. My sister and I watched a TV show featuring a man named after a marsupial. This man had a military title. Basically, Captain Kangaroo was a teddy bear. My sister and I laughed along with the studio audience until our great-grandmother interrupted us with a sharp “Stupid.” * When our baby brother came home, my sister and I started calling him by his first name. Our father discouraged us, saying we should call him by his middle name. The first name was for his baptism. The middle name was what my father wanted. My mother, on the other hand, gave the baby a Chinese name, Da Wei, meaning Greatly Accomplished, but that name didn’t stick. We children didn’t call each other by our Chinese names. My mother was the only one called by her Chinese name, Chia In, except that no one could pronounce it. We said, “Jye Een.” Her American friends and my father’s relatives called her Irene. * I followed my father to an overgrown lane. “We’ll find some butterflies here,” he said. The lane was two dirt tracks made by tires through a patch of woods. We walked onto the pathway and were soon surrounded by gnats. “I’m not a businessman, like my father,” my father said. “I want to live in nature. The capitalists started the rat race. I’m part of the human race.” I could hardly swing the cloth net my father had given me. The handle was too long, the torque too great. At one point, we saw a butterfly on the ground. Its wings were folded back, and it didn’t move when my father picked it up. “Look,” my father said, pointing to the orange, black and silver markings. “It’s a painted lady. That’s the common name. It means lady of the night, someone who paints her face and walks the streets.” * I took my bicycle for a ride. It was a small bike, with 16-inch wheels, suitable for a 6-year-old. I went along the lane my father had shown me and came out on the other side. I found myself on a paved street lined with houses. I had the idea that a boy in my class at school lived in this neighborhood. I rode to a house I thought was his, but no one was home. On my way back through the woods, a bee flew into my ear as I was riding. I could hear it buzzing next to my skull. I took a hand from the steering bar to bat the insect away and lost control of the bike. The front wheel hit a stone, turned sharply and carried me into the brush. I put out a forearm to stop myself, and my wrist hit a branch. I went down in a blanket of twigs and leaves. 60
When I walked my bicycle out of the bushes, I noticed that my wrist was injured. It hurt when I turned it. I felt pain shooting from my forearm through my hand. * The next time I saw my great-grandmother, she was living in a nursing home. Again, she was sitting in a chair, this one next to her bed, and she didn’t say much, but she seemed to have learned a new word: “Yankee.” Instead of calling me stupid, she called everyone around her Yankees. I fit into that group, but I got no comfort from it. I knew she didn’t like Yankees. * Soon afterward, my great-grandmother passed away. I didn’t go to the memorial service, but I heard my grandmother talking to my mother about her. “She was 96,” my grandmother said. “So old!” my mother said. “Not in her mind,” my grandmother said. “She insisted she was 72 until the day she died.” “She lived a long time.” “In her youth, she was beautiful, a glamour girl, a made-up lady.” * My wrist took a long time to heal. While I waited for it to get better, I was still able to ride my bicycle. I took it on the lane through the woods and came to the neighborhood on the other side. I looked for the boy who was my classmate. I didn’t find him, but I spotted a number of painted lady butterflies. They were alive. They started up when I came through; they flitted over the weeds. *
Pink is Primary Aaron Fine Aaron and Zoey (fictional, early 21st century) I always had a hard time dealing with his fussy professor tone, but it was especially taxing on the walk back from the grocery store on that sticky summer afternoon. Those plastic grocery sacks dangling in bunches, rubbing and bumping against my newly Nair-ed calves. The swinging of the bags kept getting out of sequence with my arms, throwing me off rhythm. We walked down the middle of the quiet street, because the sidewalks were unreliable and the traffic was light. That’s how those small college towns are, when summer idles them. That was when Aaron said “Hey Zoey, check out that red car.” I could tell by the exaggerated tone that he was being clever somehow. It sounded strange, his light banter in all that muggy silence. I looked up, taking in the scene ahead of us, and then craned my neck back to the busier main drag we had just crossed. “What red car?” He couldn’t be talking about that one. “That one,” he pointed at it with his chin “in front of the house on the corner.” It reminded me of when he comes home with the wrong kind of broom or trashcan or some other simple thing you’d think no one could screw up. I didn’t even want to answer him. “S’not red. It’s pink.” “Sure, but pink is just a shade of red.” “Tint.” I sighed, “Pink is a tint of red. And you cannot call a pink Cadillac ‘red’.” “But it’s true. I mean if that car were robin’s egg blue you could call it blue, right? Well that car is just as red as robin’s eggs are blue.” He was still making a point of sounding pleasant, even enthusiastic. Like it was the greatest thing that you could call that car red, and didn’t I think so? No. I did not think so. I squinted at the car and shifted the bags around so my left hand was now carrying the sack of oranges, remembering as I did this that he was carrying most of the heavy stuff. Being grumpy wasn’t worth the effort. I walked faster, moving out in front so my ass was where he could see it as we passed the Cadillac: Cracked white leather. Blue Virgin Mary. A pink so lovingly polished, so sensuous and perfect, I could smell strawberry lip balm. “Super man doesn’t wear pink panties.” I called back to him, smiling despite myself. -- -- -In this story the character named Aaron is right, from a rather pedantic standpoint. Pinks are reds, but calling them so is to insist on using hard science terms for a soft science problem. As electromagnetic radiation, color is completely measurable and quantifiable. And pink light is red, with a bit more white (the full spectrum) mixed in. But the pink Cadillac presents us with a phenomenon that is at least as entangled in linguistics, pop culture, and capitalism as it is in physics. Say what you will, but if you say you bought a red Cadillac, don’t drive up in pink. The pink Cadillac exposes a fissure in the ways we think and talk about color. As often happens when specialists define terms in their own ways, a gap has opened between what artists call a “formalist” description of color and the everday way in which color is experienced. But this formalism isn’t just wrong in some trivial car related way. It has come to be a hindrance to how we learn to use color to create meaning. In the end, a theory of color should do more than describe its physical properties, it should help us to make sense of color and to make use of color. We need to search for ways to develop this basic cultural competency; making meaning with color.
Andy Warhol (1928 - 1987) My last words could have been “It’s the best of all possible worlds.” That’s what I was thinking as I lay dying in the hospital’s lift-o-matic bed. I stared and stared at those luminous green cubes of Jell-O on the grey melamine tray. That was before the nurse, in her panic, scattered them across my silly little hospital gown. It’s food like Jell-O that proves my life was science fiction. I’d like to believe in reincarnation, as that would allow me to return again and again as myself, Andy Warhol. But there’s no need for reincarnation, I suppose. Heaven must have an endless supply of me dining out with an infinite number of Marilyns. We’ll eat at an inexhaustible automat, its vending machines serving triangular tuna salad sandwiches and Jell-O cubes in all the colors of the rainbow. Even though I am the Pope of Pop, all those other Popes will not let me sit at their table. Not because I’m gay - we’ll all be gay in heaven. But because they’ve all come to think of power and glory as something singular: The Taj Mahal for instance, being a building no other collection of wealth and skill could replicate. The Mona Lisa being a masterpiece too odd to ever comprehend. Moby Dick being just about exactly what you’d think an infinite number of monkeys would pound out on their infinite typewriters. The point is, they’re all wrong. The kind of power and glory I’ve always believed in lies in the ability to recreate endless replicas of the same item, the same experience, the same color. That’s what gives Coca-Cola its magic, it is reliably the same. Even if they get the flavor wrong, the red on the can tells you it’s Coke. One pink Cadillac would be an oddity - a freak of a car. It’s all those other pink Cadillacs out there that make having one
of your own so satisfying. I admit I was afraid to die; America is so perfect I didn’t want to leave. Even laying in a hospital bed, feverishly contemplating my Jell-O, the same Jell-O served in every hospital room in America. I might have had doubts about the resurrection, but the Jell-o seemed certain. I knew this at least was exactly as promised. As seen on TV. -- -- -I have taken to referring to the formalist color theories we use today as “utilitarian”. This is a bit ironic, because in some senses these theories are as useless as they come. What are they good for? Measuring color. Measuring it and then recreating it over and over again. In our magazines, on our laptops, in our living rooms, this utilitatarianism allows me to take my Pottery Barn catalog to the Sherwin Williams store and exactly reproduce Pottery Barn’s aesthetic in my own home. This is a color theory ideal for those who seek to standardize our lives. You need this theory if your goal is to make every Cadillac, every can of Campbell’s soup, every serving of Jell-O, exactly the same. What is utilitarianism bad for? It is bad for understanding color. Or choosing a color not chosen for us by Pottery Barn. It’s even bad for the Pottery Barn tastemakers who have to figure out what our tastes will be this season. But most of all, utilitarian color theory is lousy at helping us make meaning with color, which is just about the principal use we have for color in art, in design, and in our lives. One of the least scientific notions in our utilitarian color theory is the notion of “primary” colors. The surest sign that this is a cultural construct, rather than scientific fact, is that every color theorist seems to come up with a different number of them. Newton gave us seven (remember ROY-G-BIV?) in his Opticks. Goethe, who believed his color theory would be more famous than his Faust had two “Ur-phenomena”. The American theorist Albert Munsell called for 10, in keeping with his decimal system for color modeling. And another German named Johannes Itten popularized the three we celebrate today. The notion of primaries relates, apparently, to prime numbers – which cannot be neatly divided. We say of our primary colors that “All colors are mixed from them.” And “They themselves cannot be mixed.” Neither of these statements is true. If you can only buy three tubes of paint then yes, some colors will be more convenient for mixing a greater range of other colors. But no finite set of paints can reproduce all colors and just as blue and yellow produce a somewhat muddy green, orange and purple create a dirty red. But there is another way of considering color which considers primary from a sociological or linguistic point of view. What is the set of color words you need for a normal conversation about color? Those which you refuse to part with are primary. Do you need a word for “robin’s egg”? I have read that Russian speakers do require two words for blue. But English speakers are just fine with modifying blue with ‘light’ and carrying fewer crayons in their mental backpack. Which brings us back to pink. The pink Cadillac sits with one wheel in the ditch of pure phenomena and one wheel on the track of industrial mass production. In the ditch lies the raw experience of color, and not just any color but the sexually charged color pink. The pink is contained by the lines of the car. Let’s call them masculine, or muscular lines (though this is not, strictly speaking, a muscle car). The crisp folds of steel and shiny stripes of chrome are here to remind us that this is an object of stern regularity; this is not a car that beckons us to sensual abandon. Rather, the car’s styling promises to rocket us down the highway. There is a contrast then, between the boudoir on wheels effect of the pink paint job and pleather upholstery - and the aggressive urgency of the design. The pink of this Cadillac does not bleed or seep. It holds tightly to the surface and the surface holds it tightly in place. This is no sponge of pink paint but a hard, impermeable pink shell. Nevertheless, pink is pink. It is a color that cannot be cancelled out by the death obsessed machinations of American car design. David Batchelor’s groundbreaking book Chromophobia establishes the ways in which color has been ‘othered’ or is ‘the other’ in western culture. Significantly, he or his publishers chose to grace the cover of that book with hot pink imagery. If color is the other, then pink is the maximum emblem of that otherness. The pink cannot be ignored – least of all by calling it red. Pink is primary.
“Dyslexia” Amy Lindsey
The House was Never Green Gary Kay Baron von Baron the redundant and Priscialla the nymph having tea together in the house of the Mad Monk, when in walks this guy from kundalini Chicago— yellow scarf around neck, Mickey Mouse T-shirt, no pants and asks: Where is the bathroom? 65
Ol Priss has seen him before. She begins to weave a penis between her thighs. The Baron vomits in low German, and the Mad Monk has a vision of ultimate reality dressed in drag. Kundalini Chicago waits for cooler heads to prevail. When none do he puts on his red clown pants and disappears. Theyâ€™re left with thoughts of warm pee and coffins floating in air which they cannot get into.
Side Effects May Include: Ted Jackins When anxiety sets in I dream of thunderstorms, broken glass and heart attacks, paranoia is forever peaking through in those early hours when all the stars are gone, but the sun has yet to show, choosing to remain hidden in that in between place where every sound seems distant and every movement arrives in slow motion. My mind races to meet every labored breath when every approaching car means certain death, and all I have to do is blink and it will disappear.
MY ELUSIVE DREAMS after Moses & Joshua Mark Lamoureux The point where grass bursts from ground, a follicle for those blades of the blood of the sun. It’s all about scale —the Atom will tell you— the emptiness that is the lattice of experience. A point on a line, losing everything from one moment to the next. The sky is blue or black; clouds are grey or white. Only so many days available, only so much time to think of the available days. Like extensions, the time spent under the star of the mind, my elusive dreams: metal flowers of ships melting into the sluggish sea, a constellation seen from above. How everyone winds up there in the end—the dead, the living & everyone else.
MOSES & JOSHUA DILLARD Mark Lamoureux Moses from Muscle Shoals—so what else to call your right-hand man? He was not really a Joshua or a Dillard but a Jimmy Moore, like Robert Lee Dickey was Bobby Purity & Ben Moore was also Bobby Purity, but not the James Moore from the Tishman Record Company who recorded “To Be Loved (Forever),” but rather the James Moore who recorded “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love” on Seagull Records & later his own version of “My Elusive Dreams,” which Papa Don Schroeder says he did not, in fact, record with Moses Dillard but rather that particular Joshua Dillard was Jesse Boyce who Moses knew from The Dynamic Showmen, who may or may not have been one of the Sons of Moses who recorded “Soul Symphony” in 1969, but was most certainly with Dillard in The Saturday Night Band who recorded “Don’t (Take Your Love from Me)” in 1977 & Dillard & Boyce who recorded “Love Zone” in 1980 & The Constellation Orchestra who recorded the disco tracks “Perfect Love Affair,” “Funk Encounter” & “Dancing Angel,” which received little to no airplay but were quite popular in the clubs. Nobody knows what happened to Jimmy Moore.
Aerobat E. B. Ellis Observing the isolated inhabitants of this marginal place huddled and fervently expectant below, comprehending them, knowing them, Grant dove strenuously and with brilliant intention, falling faster and faster and buzzed low along Bogue Bay's crystalline beach skimming the foam of aquamarine waters until, he, the pilot, purposefully hefted the Jenny's fragile frame forcing it to whine noisily into a steep vertical ascent, going and going, straining toward the sun higher and then ultimately higher still for long minutes of vertiginous cork-screwing and spinning once, twice, three times until the winged missile slowed then hesitated without reason for hope next stalling at apex and lingering motionless for one breathless moment until achingly and ever-so-slowly toppling then falling and pivoting to one side next dropping helplessly and clearly out-of-control toward earth, onward to the irresistible ground and downward on the way to oblivion, annihilation and certain fiery death, falling and falling till at long, long, long last finally, finally, only single-digit degrees from the unforgiving, unyielding firmament, the canvas-over-latticework wings clawed and bit into the air, sluggishly regained their precious lift, their vital momentum, and righted the tiny, delicate craft, which moaned and strained back to level flight and sped away to the delight, merriment and joy of the jumping crowd, mesmerized, cheering and breathlessly screaming at sea level.
Green-eyed Monster E. B. Ellis On Friday, April 8, 2011, Associate Professor Gary Gillespie shot and killed Dr. Bill Stone on Bishop Circle, the center of the campus of Florida Dominion University. Eight people saw the first shot to Stone's abdomen. One of them was a police officer. More than 40 witnessed the second shot, the kill shot, to Stone's forehead. Following the second shot, Gillespie calmly laid the .22 Bearcat pistol on the sidewalk. "There," he said. He was immediately subdued by two Tampa motorcycle cops and two FDU campus patrolmen assisted by several bystanders. All four of the officers had seen Shot Number Two. It was one of the most open and shut cases in Florida judicial history. Gillespie pled not guilty by reason of insanity. He was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to death by lethal injection, which at this writing is delayed by the state's lengthy appeals process. # Moments before his death, Bill Stone was under an umbrella in the rain outside Bishop Chapel following the funeral service for Dr. Tyson Bridgewater, the long-serving former university president, dead of cancer at 81. Stone wasn't going to the cemetery. He was one of hundreds who, in a final show of respect for Bridgewater, stood by for the departure of the funeral cortege. Several dark funeral parlor limousines and a long white hearse lined the circle. Behind them, with headlights and wipers on, an impressive column of automobiles awaited the twenty-five minute journey to Gulf Coast Memorial Park & Gardens. Gary Gillespie was in the thirty-seventh car, along with his wife, Rachel, and son, Daniel. The shooter had seen and heard little of the memorial service. Instead, Gillespie had watched his victim in the chapel. His focus was on Stone, six rows ahead, standing tall and perfect. He'd thought of taking his revenge then and there, but decided to wait for a better moment. When he spotted Stone outside on the sidewalk by the fountain in an immaculately tailored trench coat with matching umbrella, he fingered the pistol in his pocket, opened the door and got out. Gillespie ignored his wife when she called his name and asked where he was going. He walked down the long line of cars and passed between two mounted motorcycle cops at the head of the procession. Oblivious, he brushed against one of them. Officer J.D. Eloy took note and watched Gillespie walk by. Eloy saw that Gillespie's hair and suit coat were sopping wet from the rain and watched Gillespie pull a small black pistol from his pocket and fire one quick shot. Stone raised up on his toes and pirouetted. The beige umbrella fell to the left. Stone fell to the right. He landed face down in shrubbery. He tried to lift himself, but only managed to roll over on his back. Gillespie stood directly over him, pointed the pistol at Stone's brain and fired. # Eight months earlier, Stone was the keynote speaker at the Faculty Club Gala. As head of the capital funds committee, he'd just raised millions for a new classroom building and lecture hall. He was charming and funny, and Gary Gillespie knew that every woman in the place and half the coeds on campus wanted him in their pants. He had perfect hair. He was six-two with broad shoulders. Snappy dresser. He looks like a freaking model, for chrissakes, Gillespie thought. Popular. Published. Tenured. The bastard was being fast-tracked to department head and probably to university president because he was such a suck up. Somehow he had everyone just worshiping his ass. 71
What's not to hate about a guy like that. The night was supposed to be about the future of FDU, but Gillespie figured out it was really all about Stone. He looked so gracious accepting the plaque. It was wood and white marble with a big gold gavel on it. He got a standing ovation. Gillespie stood, too, but he wanted to vomit. He couldn't even eat the rubber chicken dinner they served on the round tables-for-eight. Not even the pie. Gillespie hounded Rachel afterward until she agreed that, yes, Bill Stone was nice-looking and, yes, he was a good speaker. After that he knew he had to watch Rachel and Stone like a hawk. He'd never trusted her. Women couldn't be trusted. He knew that from long experience. He suspected about five guys she'd banged during the years, though he never actually caught her in the sack. Now she had the hots for Stone. Like every-damn-body else. # Two months before the murder, on a Saturday, Rachel Gillespie had car trouble. She was cranking the engine to no avail in a CVS parking lot when Bill Stone pulled in next to her. He worked with her husband, Gary, and had met her at things around campus. He stood for a moment listening to Rachel's engine fail to fire. He tapped on her window and said hello to her and to Daniel, her six-year-old. Daniel was too absorbed in a DVD to answer. She gladly accepted his offer to help. They fiddled with her car for a few minutes until the battery weakened. Bill removed his jacket and looked under the hood. Rachel watched his body move. In the end, the engine would only make clicking sounds. Bill ask if she had jumpers. She didn't. He told her he'd be glad to call his auto club. She said that would be great. She'd never noticed how blue his eyes were. They went into Panera to wait and Bill bought two coffees, with juice and a cookie for Daniel. Daniel ate the cookie in tiny bites while Rachel and Bill talked. He was a good conversationalist and made great eye contact. He made her laugh. She liked the attention. Gary never gave her any except the kind she didn't like. She paid a lot of attention to Bill, too, touching his arm a few times as they talked. Each touch gave her a little thrill. Daniel was squirmy until Bill reached into his soft leather briefcase and pulled out an iPad. Daniels sat up. But then Bill reconsidered, dug deeper and came up with a small black case. Rachel saw it was thin and about the size of a 5 x 7 picture frame. Shiny leather with an orange peel pattern. A small metal button clasp. When Bill opened it with his long fingers she saw how perfect his nails were. Gary's fingers were stubby. He chewed his nails to the quick. The inside of the case was red velvet with a dozen little compartments holding drafting tools. They were polished silver and gold and looked like treasure. Daniel was wide-eyed. Together they spread the treasures on the table. Bill said they'd belonged to his father and he carried them with him wherever he went. A memento. Bill found paper in his bag. For the next half hour, Bill showed Daniel how a compass could trace circles and make them intersect, then create squares and triangles using the circles as a template. Rachel sat quietly and observed this man, this real man, interacting with her son. Gary never did that. Gary ignored Daniel as much as he neglected her. Rachel watched Bill. She listened to his voice and she imagined what her life would be like with this man. If he were her husband. If he were Daniel's dad. When Daniel was busy with the drawing. Rachel talked to Bill. She asked him about music and he mentioned the exact CD she had in her car player at that moment. They loved some of the same movies. When she asked about his favorite book, he named one she'd never heard of, but she made a mental note to order it from Amazon. The forty-five minutes waiting for the auto club truck was the most alive Rachel had felt in years. # 72
Gary was mad as hell when he saw the book by Julian Jaynes. He asked what the hell she was doing reading Jaynes, but he knew exactly where that had come from. That bastard Stone. Stone was high on Jaynes and his wacky theory about the ancient human brain split into two separate hemispheres and people hearing voices. Maybe Stone needed his damn brain split in two. Some busybodies in the department had taken glee in telling him they had spotted Stone and Rachel laughing together at Panera. Out in public where everyone could see. He confronted her about it and she denied everything with some bullshit about needing a new battery. Said they just talked. He wasn't buying that. She said Gary was ridiculous and called him a jealous asshole. He told her she was worse than useless. They hadn't had sex in months. She was drinking during the day and he knew she was planning to leave him for Stone. He knew she was screwing him. She yelled at Gary. He slapped her. She needed it. He thought about putting a PI on her ass. Instead, that weekend he went to the gun show in Tampa and picked out something small and lethal. # Rachel put new batteries in her purple vibrator. It was called Mother's Little Helper at the on-line site where she'd ordered it. When she used it, she thought about Stone. And she thought about him a great deal. Lately, every single day. On one particularly wicked day, twice. Gary was the only man she'd ever been with. She surrendered her virginity to him one cold night in the back of his SUV. When he asked her to marry him a month and a half later she said yes because she thought she might be pregnant. But her cycle had always been screwy and she wasn't. She had dreams of what their life would be like together. But she'd been wrong. Gary was like an insecure child. He wouldn't let her finish her master's. Told her how to dress. How to wear her hair. What friends she could have and the fewer the better. It would be three years before Daniel came along. Gary made it clear from the start that the baby was hers. Money was tight, but he drank expensive French vodka. It cost $60 a bottle. He told everyone who would listen how great it was. He went on and on. He drank it on the rocks because he thought it made him sophisticated. It just made him mean. And stupid. She'd asked Stone that day if he drank. He said not often, but when he did he liked a beer called Shipyard, or Moet champagne. God, she loved champagne. She bought some and drank it when Gary wasn't around and Daniel was in school. In her private, secret world it made her think of Stone. Like now, with mother's little helper. Right here, in this moment, naked and alone, she was Stone's. She imagined him kissing her. She imagined him touching her. Oh. Those strong hands. She wanted him with all her heart and all her soul. And all her body. # The morning of his death, Stone rose early. He lived alone in a bay-front condo. He indulged himself. He liked nice things and he could afford them. His university salary was more than he ever expected to make. Then there was the consulting and his first two books selling well. His home was neat and orderly. Nicely furnished. Professionally decorated. He fixed himself a sensible breakfast, took his vitamins, showered and brushed his teeth. Afterwards he stood looking at all the beautiful clothes in his big closet, making up his mind. Tyson Bridgewater's funeral was in two hours. Tyson had been a valuable mentor. He'd really, really miss the old man. Stone picked a dignified Brooks Brothers suit, black with charcoal pinstripes. A white button-down and 73
subdued tie. Black wingtips. Later, with time to kill, he sat at his desk and checked his email. One of his bedrooms was set up as a study. Here he did his thinking, his planning and his writing. His desk was uncluttered. His files color-coded. His music and books arranged as he liked them. He looked at the pictures of his life on the wall. Graduation long ago. A thanksgiving in Charleston. With his sister on a ski trip. Friends and family on a cruise. Then his eyes settled on the big photo of Oliver. Oliver Sandoval. He sighed. Later today, they'd be together and the moment couldn't come soon enough. They'd planned to rendezvous at a cozy art deco hotel in South Beach last night. But there was no way Stone would miss the funeral. He'd skip the burial, though, and drive straight to the airport as soon as the motorcade departed for the cemetery. The regulator wall clock chimed nine; almost time to go. He logged off the computer and waited for it to go dark. He heard distant thunder and glanced out the window. Florida, he said to himself. At the hall closet, he selected his favorite raincoat and umbrella. Stone grabbed his phone and keys, picked up his suitcase and, suddenly excited, headed out the door to meet the day.
Aging and Waiting for Death Michael Lee Johnson There I am round rim glasses, circular face, like a full-moon, ears the size of half cups twisted toward the sides like antennas pointing slightly upward, one on each side of my face, like rabbit ears on alert. I got a grin the size of a slice of moon upside down like muskmelon rind just before the last bites. Iâ€™m a conservative looking chap, New York city type of aging boy, with a brown sweater tucked up to the shirt collar edge, where the buttons start to show. I was aging, waiting for death but I have a smile on my face all the while, like a jackass in heat not knowing north from south I keep on grinning. I remember scared to death at 30 years or so, I saw an x-ray of my brain and skull. Seeing myself as a skeleton head was unsettling. Suddenly Iâ€™m just another body, a clock waiting for death? batteries simply too tired to re-start.
Not everything that can be counted, counts… Toke Hoppenbrowers “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Albert Einstein I went out into the drizzle this morning with Dewa, Mas and Intan, my three yellow labs. Half way up a steep slope, a neighbor was opening the gate of her corral to let out two chestnut brown horses that ordinarily stand docilely under the oaks digesting their hay. The first one out rolled in the succulent grass, shaking vigorously afterward. The other hit the open field at a dead run. They alternated running alone or after each other, first small distances then further, finally checking out the periphery up to the fence. Their hoofs came down with a thud; their energy and exuberance were infectious and I wondered whether they would jump the fence, cross the creek and just take off. **** Sustainability is not a term that I heard growing up in post-WWII Europe. We weren’t bandying it about either during my US graduate school days in the sixties, as we demonstrated against the Vietnam War. Now I confront the universal scourges: war, hunger, worldwide inequality in opportunity and education. I am awake to our conflicting interests: simplicity/consumerism, acquisition/generosity, affluence/poverty. Animals in harm’s way elicit a visceral response of nausea: a small ice floe with a stranded female polar bear and her cub, baby seals bludgeoned to death by humans or pelicans and humpback whales dying from entanglement in plastic drifting off the coast of California. **** The various scales: the microscopic, the minute, the fairly small, the large and the immense; these are nested in each other as an infinite number of Russian dolls, from miniature to gigantic. For instance, the microbes in our gut with both salutary and detrimental consequences form an exquisitely adapted ecosystem. Such neurotransmitters as serotonin, influential for our moods and temperament, reside there as well as in the brain; fecal material from healthy optimistic and upbeat individuals implanted in recipients more prone to depression, do not just re-establish a healthy gut flora in these individuals, but also can change their moods in the direction of the donor’s. The study of this microbiome, as it has been termed along with its better-known cousin the genome, has revealed that in the Western world, antibiotics including those given to cattle, may have reduced the diversity of our gut flora to a non-sustainable level making us extremely prone to infections and inflammation1. At a contrasting scale, the report from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory2 shows the highest concentration of the heat trapping greenhouse gasCO2 in excess of 400 parts per million (ppm) in May of this year. The last time this level was believed to have prevailed was three million years ago, during an epoch called the Pliocene. At the current rate of increase, the reading will be 450 ppm in 2040, with a likely increase of temperature, ocean water levels, floods, droughts and fires.
1 NYT Magazine May 2013; Michael Pollan, Some of my Best Friends are Germs. 2 Los Angeles Times, May 2013 76
In: “Writing the End,” Nathaniel Rich asks questions such as 3 “How does all this bad news [about the environment] affect relationships with our loved ones, our hopes for the future, the way we go about our daily lives? Do we ignore it, turn cynical or become overwhelmed by dread?” I feel driven to write an antidote to despair. **** Coming through the Malibu Canyon toward home, the air is full of dark smoke. I’m immediately thinking of my three labs in their kennel outside. Has the fire that began in Camarillo Springs in Ventura County approached my neighborhood? I have lived for almost forty years in the Santa Monica Mountains where fires have erupted spontaneously or have been set in summer or fall when hot Santana winds blew from the East. But it is only May… I hear myself argue. True, but this past winter we have had only five inches of rain, compared to the average of 14 inches. Fires cause dread; they keep me awake at night awaiting evacuation orders; cherished art is stacked next to the front door to be loaded in the van at short notice. **** In the Netherlands during WWII, my parents’ bedroom had two French doors that opened onto a balcony and two short steps to the flat roof of the garage. There my brother and I each had a little round basket about the size of a large tin coffee can, with a loosely attached cover. Our aim was to catch birds. We attached a rope to the basket’s cover, and suspended it over a cloth line with the cover half open. We then waited for a bird to fly into the basket so that we could release the rope and capture the bird. I couldn’t have invented this with my four-year-old brain. This was probably my six-year-old brother’s strategy. There was logic to it, but no compelling reason for any bird to follow our logic, despite the breadcrumbs. **** “There is a subtle entanglement and confusion between all beings of the earth, a consequence not only of our common ancestry, and the cellular similarities of our makeup, but also of our subjection to variant aspects of the same whirling world.” 4 David Abram I couldn’t escape the image of the two horses consigned again to their enclosure, as inevitably they soon would be. I didn’t wait for that, but waited long enough to feel in my throat the rising tears at the thought of you and me. We lie next to each other wordless, but connected in an invisible dome of tenderness and acceptance. We seem to test the boundaries of trust and feel awed by what is possible. In our human way we are akin to these two horses, unencumbered by language, self-consciousness or any impediment to being our best. **** Where else in my own experience can I find what is akin to hope? In the existence of a free Coursera curriculum on the Internet dealing with sustainability? In this month’s gas bill insert that talks about the work of
3 Article in the NYT Book Review of April 2013. 4 In: Becoming Animal, An earthly cosmology. David Abram p 192,Vintage Books 2011. 77
algae reducing greenhouse gas emissions? A second chance for the starving infant sea lions in Laguna Beach? Or even a degradable “plastic” glove to scoop up dog do in the park? Perhaps I believe, fundamentally, in the wisdom and intelligence of the many, and the power of their instinct for survival. What else bolsters this belief? **** On the final day of the Earth Summit5, a hundred civil society organizations converged to launch a Manifesto. “The signatories to this Manifesto refuse to sit idly by in the face of another failure of governments to provide hope for a sustainable future for all. They announced their own responsibility for undertaking actions, inviting and encourage similar actions and commitments by other rights holders and stakeholders, communicating a vision for healthy communities, sustainable and equitable human well-being and its associated strategies, and coming together in the form of a global citizen’s movement to shepherd the transition to a sustainable, equitable, and democratic future.” **** I note a small sensation in my stomach toward relaxation. This individual writing task symbolizes the one the world citizenry faces regarding sustainability. It feels impossible and yet… If this sounds arrogant or solipsistic, I concur. All sentient beings including humans die, civilizations die and planetary bodies die; why shouldn’t Planet Earth, as we know it, die? I am reminded of the wisdom of the Dalai Lama. I modify his statement about world peace: “Achieving genuine change toward sustainability in society through the internal transformation of individuals is exceedingly difficult…. and it is the only way.” **** Scholars, practitioners and activists build fences around approaches when we are in ever more need of bridges .6 In their 800-page tome Integral Ecology, Uniting Multiple Perspectives on the Natural World, Sean EsbjornHargens and Michael Zimmerman use the work of philosopher Ken Wilbur to place the literature on Ecology and by inference, sustainability in the largest possible framework. They argue that we can understand the numerous perspectives on this issue better if we extend scientific data obtained through the privileged strategies of the hard sciences, to include knowledge from the soft sciences; in other words, we must include the quantitative and the qualitative strategies. The latter instruct us about our interiority, thoughts, intuitions, feelings and beliefs.
5 Manifesto, Earth Summit Rio de Janeiro, June 2012 6 Integral Ecology, Uniting Multiple Perspectives on the Natural World. Sean Esbjörn and Michael E. Zimmerman. Integral Books, Boston, London 2009 p 158
Some kind of interiority is a capacity we have in common with other sentient beings. It is in this qualitative domain that we are likely to discover ways to reconcile our varying motivations, some of which foster, while others inhibit sustainable behavior. **** Small truths, small falsehoods and plenty of dreams My afternoon naptime arrived. I protested. My mother pacified me by offering me their queen size bed for my nap. I could lead the rope through the open French doors and attach it to the drawer of the bedside table. The minute I saw a bird enter the basket, I could quickly release the rope. With the logic of a four-year-old, I bought into this ploy. In my dream I saw red, yellow, purple and indigo birds of every size flying in and out of my basket. Upon awakening, I was amazed that my brother was still eyeing the lowly brown sparrows and hadn’t succeeded in capturing them. I, however, had visited a world where kingfishers, birds of paradise and cockatoos, names I would learn only later, were dancing and diving and screaming and talking… The child’s ephemeral perspective, limitless and enticing. **** “It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best’. You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.” Winston Churchill Early in my career, I carried out laboratory studies with rats. Like humans, rats have interiority. When a female delivers a litter of pups, for instance, she will accept a pup from another litter. If it is dipped in some vegetable oil, she will lick it clean and treat it as her own. However, there is **** “Moving toward a sustainable development …involves shifts in our worldviews from an egocentric focus to include greater and greater spheres of awareness, care, and action. If one’s sphere of concern begins to transcend and include more than the egocentrism of immediate selfneeds, it transforms into socio-centrism where we also care about our group, our community and our society. As socio-centrism expands to world-centrism, consideration extends even further to include all peoples and all being7.” **** only a one or two-day window for this cross fostering. After that time she can’t be fooled and the likelihood that she will cannibalize the changeling is greatly enhanced. ****
7 Same as 6, Case study 1, Gail Hochachka pp 402-403. 79
I recall a colleague telling me that with the help of a guillotine she had sacrificed a dozen rats. Even though she carried out this task quite removed from the place where the rats were housed, she observed that every time she returned to fetch a rat for execution, she found the colony getting more agitated. Our individual and collective experiences change when we grow up. Recoiling from these perceived necessary, but brutal experiments, years later, I found myself driving two miles in the Santa Monica Mountains to release a rat from a glue trap. **** “Wolves share an emotional world-space with one another. They can hunt and coordinate in packs through a very sophisticated emotional signal system. Yet anything outside that world space is not registered. You can read Hamlet to them, but no luck. What you are with that book is basically dinner plus a few things that will have to be spat out8.” **** In graduate school, focusing on Neuroscience alone, I immersed myself in the reductionist method. In this pursuit, I often felt from inside myself like a desiccated cactus rather than one filled with juices and resistant to drought. As a remedy, I elected to study Clinical Psychology as well. **** Cooperation seems to a fundamental element for fostering sustainability. A lack of cooperation and trust will doom many sustainable behaviors. In the 1960’s, I assisted my friend Ariella Friedman with her research about cooperation and competition9. Four six-year-old boys sat around a square table covered with a board; four strings, one for each boy, connected to a solid stylus that held a pencil. A sheet of paper had four circles drawn on it, one at each side. Instructed to move the stylus across the four circles, they didn’t hesitate to cooperate. Three boys had to let go in order for the fourth one to draw the pencil through the circle on his side. Then three others and so forth until all the circles had been crossed. Once they knew that for every time all circles were crossed, each kid would get a prize-they got a race going and not infrequently raked in eight to ten prizes, little 99 Cent store trinkets, in the allotted five minutes. Kids were excited, could hardly stay in their seats. **** “That feeding the world cannot be accomplished simply by producing enough has been well proven. Although conventional agriculture has done an excellent job of growing plenty of food, millions of people do not get enough to eat. Worldwide, at least 500 million people, mostly women and children, are chronically undernourished and many more do not have the right kinds of food for a healthy, active life. In a world which produces enough food to feed everyone, 40,000 people die every day of hunger and hunger-related causes10.” 8 Same as 6, p 265 99 Ariella Friedman, formerly Shapiro. Dissertation in the Archives of the University of California, Los Angeles, 1972. 1010 Patricia Allen, The Human Face of Sustainable Agriculture, Adding People to the Environmental Agenda. University of Santa Cruz, Issue paper # 4, 1994
**** Ariella made a minor change in her instructions--each kid’s name was now written in a circle. If the pencil went through Johnnie’s circle, Johnnie got a prize, if it went through Peter’s circle, Peter would get one, etcetera. The very same kids now all pulled at once and would not let go. The stylus remained in the middle of the board making a scratchy mess. Strings taut, jaws clenched, the kids pushed over their chairs, looked angry and all pleasure seeped out of the room. Sometimes one kid would say feebly, “Why don’t we go back to what we did before?” **** With these new instructions that made American boys competitive some children continued to cooperate: most girls, girls and boys in the kibbutz in Israel; rural children in the US as well as in Mexico. Perhaps cooperation is hard-wired in our brain as some scientific studies suggest. However, it seems culturally acquired as well, favored by many and it thus promises hope. **** “Two biologists at the University of Pennsylvania backed up evidence of successful cooperation in evolution by writing out the formula that explains generosity --a puzzlement to biologists since Charles Darwin laid the groundwork for competition among species. Our paper shows that no selfish strategies will succeed in evolution...the only strategies that are evolutionary robust are generous ones.11" **** Barrett Brown:“If we can learn to work with the values that people hold and translate what needs to be done so that it resonates with those core values, then we may go much faster toward sustainability. This is fundamentally a process of truly honoring people for who they are, not trying to force a change in values upon them –yet simultaneously explaining shared goals in ways that are meaningful to them.12” **** I remember my baffling realization that I had no other choice than to accept the fact that any and all phenomena are inter-connected, part of a larger whole. My index finger is part of my hand; it consists of skin, nerves and muscles. A nerve consists of separate fibers, nerve cell bodies and synapses. Nerve cell bodies in turn are made up of numerous identifiable structures of which the nucleus, the mitochondria and the vesicles are just a few. The nucleus contains fluids and chemicals that include DNA which is made up of strands of molecules. In each of these molecules are atoms and electrons. Atoms consist of, well, the subatomic. Historically, every time scientists thought they had identified the smallest unit, they discovered that each was a composite and could be broken down further. Despite the discovery of elemental particles, virtually all parts are really wholes. Wholes are the essence. If 70 degrees Fahrenheit is a pleasant temperature, 140 degrees is not twice as pleasant. Wholes like the 11 Joshua Plotkin and Alexander Stewart, Penn News, September 2013; Also reported in Learn in Biology, Science and Cooperation. 1212 Barrett Brown Integral Sustainable Development part 2AQUAL J of Integral Theory and Practice 2006 1: 422-40.. Also in 2 pp 409-410
ecosystem on our planet are better understood with the help of principles of non-linear science such as chaos and complexity theories. In fact, a combination of principles from both reductionist and non-linear science has the best chance of bringing about understanding and triggers for transformation. Since all behaviors and phenomena are both discrete and part of a larger whole, certainty and uncertainty are always simultaneously present, albeit in varying proportions. Our personal experience tells us that not everything can be controlled. Modern-day science supports our experience. In our negotiations with nature and our world, it is our Sisyphean task to discover when and where the decision for control or for surrender is the more propitious. **** What does this mean for everyday life? I don’t expect most solutions in my life to come from proportional force: that an equally strong but opposite psychological force for instance can eradicate a strong evil. Instead, small changes, of the kind Rosa Parks exemplified when she refused to move to the back of the bus, can bring about large effects. Today we might refer to this phenomenon as “a tipping point.” **** Wholes display complex behaviors that can be understood, even though they cannot always be predicted or controlled. This intrigues me. For more than three decades I have been examining in my own life when, if ever, certainty can be reasonably expected, certainty’s limitations and when, rather than reconciling myself with uncertainty, I recognize its blessings. **** On my way to Santa Barbara, I see a flock of pelicans in their typical V-shaped configuration. One single bird seems to lead and the remainder follows. A revealing computer simulation looked at the behavior of a flock of birds. In reality the individual birds anywhere in the flock, with a kind of “bird consciousness”, are paying close attention to their neighbors. They maintain a stable distance to the birds right next and before them. This is a principle of non-linear science, called local or bottom-up control rather than top-down control. It stresses the importance of our individual contributions. Each of us is an instrument of change. **** “Individuals who lack control seek to find and impose order in the world through superstition, rituals and conspiratorial explanations, according to new research published in Science. Whitson and Galinsky showed individuals who lacked control were more likely to see images that did not exist, perceive conspiracies and develop superstitions. Feelings of control are so important to people that a lack of control is inherently threatening. In situations where one has little control, an individual may believe that mysterious, unseen mechanisms are secretly at work. 13” ****
1313 Schermer M. How a lack of control leads to superstition. Scientific American, January 2010. See also Jennifer Whitson and Adam Galinsky Lacking Control Increases Illusory Pattern Perception, Science 2008; 322: 115-117. 82
The human face of sustainability: what each of us does or fails to do in the context of our individual lives should not be dismissed. We as humans can be actors or victims. When things go wrong, thinking ourselves as actors with responsibility renders us more powerful. **** For people who are reading on the same page about sustainability, our persuasion skills are irrelevant. We would be preaching to the converted. These skills often falter when we are talking with individuals whose beliefs are diametrically opposed to our own. We tend to be most effective in persuading others when our beliefs are only modestly different from those of our partners in dialogue. This principle applies to any communication, including this one. It offers hope. If everyone, from those with few to those with many prescriptions for ameliorating our environment, speaks up in favor of specific actions, the entire spectrum can evolve and shift slowly. **** “You are going to love pristine Puangbembe in Simbuang,” Dr. Stanis S. tells me. Stanis is an Indonesian, linguistic anthropologist who hails from Toraja, the province in Sulawesi, Indonesia, where we have been carrying out research on mothers and infants, birth and baby death rituals. “There are no shops in the villages and people are quite poor.” This remote part of Toraja, our destination, is reached from the west side through Pare Pare, Poliwasi and then into the mountains, in the direction of Mamasa. We are four in the Kia: Hendrik, an assistant, Stanis, the driver Eddie and me plus a load of water and plenty of food. The last part of our journey will be a five-hour trek on foot. About halfway, not too far from taking off boots, rolling up pants and crossing a river, we stop for lunch. Sometimes I’d rather not know what‘s in the lunch bag, for instance, when the rice is accompanied by a stew of dog meat. That’s why I have stowed some chocolate in my fanny pack. As a septuagenarian, I feel a need for rest. Through a bunch of spiky plumes resembling pampas grass, I am looking into a clear blue sky. I press the music button on my I-Touch and the melody of the “Farmhouse” pops into my ears, a cello and piano piece, music from the movie Hilary and Jackie about the death of a woman cellist, Jacqueline du Pré. When my first–ever ex-lover, Ingrid, was dying of ovarian cancer, she and I remained close. Several months before her death, I had made a film of her life. It had been a comfort to both of us. For the last scene before her face disappears behind a closing window, symbol of her life’s end, I had chosen this piece of music. It forever belongs to Ingrid. Before I know it, tears stream down my cheeks. Yet another answer to my recurring question: “Why do I make these extreme travels in my old age?” For years, I have been on an adventure for two. I have been making these journeys for Ingrid as well. That emotional outburst makes my steps lighter during the remainder of the trek. I have construed another purpose. The neuroscientist in me, who ordinarily demands certain standards of evidence, is now also wearing the hat of an anthropologist and writer, and is content to accept this story for what it is, a welcome insight.14 1414Tana Toraja, Indonesia,Toke Hoppenbrouwers In: Hot Metal Bridge 2011. 83
**** Our resourcefulness seems almost unlimited and we will need it. From the perspective of some, things are getting worse, from others, things are getting better in terms of sustainability. A few individuals might consider things just right as they are. While I do not present a plan, I know there is one. The plan is as unarticulated and mysterious as the process of following it, as mysterious as the ultimate goal: knowing about wholes; that is of course, knowing about nature: who she is, who we are, who I am. Thoughts and questions emerge by day or by night and I feel a stalker of my own mind. **** Rocky Mountains National Park 2003: The source is stillness in which language explains, sometimes shimmers and comes to rest. The snowcapped mountains were watching over me, their flanks covered with Aspen and Aleppo pines. Some were short and others tall, some thick with deep roots, others with only superficial ones. Do those trees suffer from their appearance? The tall ones catch most of the wind and the short ones under their canopy widen their girth. Some have not shed their dead branches; others have only new growth. All this exists by virtue of my eyes. The wind rustling through the trees exists by virtue of my ears. **** I smelled the cow and horse manure that covered the dandelion patch. The elk in the distance warmed herself in the sun and the buttercups swayed at the pond’s edge. **** My hands type these words. The dirt under my nails testifies to work in the garden. Nature “is,” trees and mountains “are.” I am tall. I catch the wind.
“Hambugle Helper” Tim Murray
Literary Contributors Isaac Blum was the 2013 Emerging Writer-In-Residence at Penn State Altoona. His stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The New York Times, Sou'wester, The Baltimore Review, Permafrost Magazine, and Poetica Magazine, among others. You can find him at facebook.com/blumwriter. Rev. Dr. David Breeden has a M.F.A. in poetry from The Iowa Writersâ€™ Workshop and a PhD from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi, with additional study in writing and Buddhism at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. He also has a Master of Divinity degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School. Breeden has published four novels and thirteen books of poetry, the newest titled They Played for Timelessness (With Chips of When). Kanchan Chatterjee is a 44 year old male executive, working in the ministry of finance in India. He is from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand India. Although he does not have any literary background, he loves poetry and scribbles when he feels the urge. His poems have appeared in Eclectic Eel, Mad Swirl, Shot Glass Journal, Jellyfish Whisperer, Bare Hands Poetry, River Muse, Decanto, and Ygradsil. Suzanne Cope is a writer and writing professor living in Brooklyn. Recent and upcoming publications include essays in New Plains Review, Blue Lyra Review, and the Italian American Review and her book Small Batch: The Fall and Rise of Artisanal Pickles, Cheese, Chocolate, and Alcoholic Spirits. (Alta Mira 2014). She is a Visiting Professor at Manhattan College. Kathe Davis retired from Kent State U. & lives in a cabin in Wisconsin's Driftless area. Her poems have appeared in the Wisconsin Poets' Calendar; Parabola (on line); The 2009 Lunar Calendar; Phoebe; Hurricane Alice; Pudding Magazine, & others; and the collections American Zen, Fresh Water, & A Gathering of Poets (Kent State). North Carolina native E. B. Ellis is a writer and avid metaphysician who currently resides on a Florida island. A master carpet mechanic, turned journalist, lobbyist and entrepreneur, he is at work on a collection of short stories and his fifth book, this time a novel. Aaron Fine is Professor of Art and Gallery Director at Truman State University where he also teaches in the Interdisciplinary Studies program. His recent creative non-fiction on subjects in visual culture has been presented at several Popular Culture and Asian Studies conferences and published in academic journals and arts zines. His paintings and drawings have been exhibited widely over the past 20 years. Peter Fraser is a mature author who lives in Australia. Miguel Gardel lives in New York and attended the City College and has worked at many things from janitorial to journalism and back again. His stories have appeared in Bilingual Review, Best Fiction, Red Fez, Pemmican, Press One and other publications. Joe Gianotti teaches high school English in Indiana. His poems have been recently published by This, Literary Magazine, The Chaffey Review, Folly, Yes, Poetry, Wilderness House Review, and Mouse Tales. Kayla Greenwell once wore a shirt inside out and backwards for a whole day without noticing. Her favorite hobby is sleeping. When she isnâ€™t doing that or playing bad covers of theme songs on a recorder she got in the fourth grade she is writing. She won the first place Stark-Tinkham award for creative non-fiction and her mother has given her rave reviews. 86
Toke Hoppenbrouwers is a Pediatric faculty at the University of Southern California. She has written more scientific articles than her age and a book SIDS. Autumn Sea, her novel, received a Small Press Award. She has recently traveled to Indonesia to study Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and infant birth and death rituals. This piece is the last of a dozen nonfiction pieces that have appeared in literary journals. Ted Jackins is a 31 year old writer and musician from North Carolina. His work has appeared in Red Fez, Citizens For Decent Literature, Cherry Bleeds, Zygote in My Coffee, Flash Fiction World and the poetry chapbook "When the World Was Black and White." He knows why the caged bird sings and how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop....ladies. Maximillian Jackson likes comic books, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and lamenting the socially debilitating effects of post-modern consumerist, entitlement-obsessed western culture. Also, he's awfully afraid of the dark because he's fairly sure his bedroom is haunted. He also have a brand-new English degree that he uses to swat flies, and one day hopes to be a great writer. But, don't we all? *cue bitter laughter*" Michael Lee Johnson is a poet, freelance writer, photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. He has been published in more than 750 small press magazines and edits 7 poetry sites. Michael has released The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom, From Which Place the Morning Rises, Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems. Gary Kay was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where he taught high school English for 5 years. He relocated with his wife to Pemrboke Pines, Florida where he has taught reading and English for the past 29 years. His poems have been published in Write Room, Animus, Canadian Verse II, Litchfield Review, Earth's Daughters, California Literary Journal, and several others. Mark Lamoureux lives in New Haven, CT. He is the author of thee full-length collections of poetry: Spectre (Black Radish Books 2010), Astrometry Orgonon (BlazeVOX Books 2008), and 29 Cheeseburgers / 39 Years (Pressed Wafer, 2013). His work has been published in print and online in Fence, miPoesias, Jubilat, Denver Quarterly, Conduit, Fourteen Hills and many others. Born and raised in Scranton when The Office wasn't cool, K. A. McGowan has two poetry chapbooks, Rubric and No Passengers. His short story “The Rikely Factor” was published in 2010 in Colere and his novella Beyond the Chicken d Kenneth Pobo had a new chapbook published in 2013 from Eastern Point Press called Placemats. His work has appeared in: Indiana Review, Nebraska Review, Nimrod, Broadkill Review, and elsewhere. Nicole Montalvo is a student at Columbia College Chicago studying creative nonfiction and cultural studies. She enjoys playing with hybrid forms, flipping tradition on its head, exploring big concepts and desires to inspire as well as make the world around her a little better. JBMulligan has had more than 850 poems and stories published over the last 35 years, as well as two chapbooks, one e-book and appearances in several anthologies. Lee Olsen is an English master’s student and managing editor of Bellingham Review at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. Originally from northern Utah, he is pleased to call the Pacific Northwest his current home. He looks forward to traveling and teaching abroad in the near future. 87
Kenneth Pobo had a new chapbook published in 2013 from Eastern Point Press called Placemats. His work has appeared in: Indiana Review, Nebraska Review, Nimrod, Broadkill Review, and elsewhere. David Postubay is a 21 year old whiskey drinking, guitar playing, creative writing student at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. He refers to himself as a “rake.” Thaddeus Rutkowski is the author of the novels Haywire, Tetched and Roughhouse. All three books were finalists for the Asian American Literary Award, and Haywire won the Members' Choice Award. He teaches at Medgar Evers College and at the Writer's Voice of the West Side YMCA in New York. He received a fellowship in fiction writing from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Stephanie Schultz is a poet and marathon runner in St. Paul, MN, where she is also pursuing her MFA in creative writing from Hamline University. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Rock, Paper, Scissors; Paddlefish; Diverse Voices Quarterly; Blast Furnace; and the anthology Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga. She is a recipient of the Father Jack Garvey Award for non-fiction. John Swain lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Crisis Chronicles published his most recent chapbook, Rain and Gravestones. Janine Rivette, M.A., M.F.A., nonfictionist, fiction writer, poet, and arts activist, is a former creative writing professor. Her work has appeared in Veils, Halos and Shackles: International Poetry on the Abuse and Oppression of Women, Heartscapes, A&U, Skylark, and The Mom Egg; she rewrote Don’t Let the Accent Fool You. William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. Broken When We Got Here, his latest book of poetry, and An Age of Monsters, his first collection of fiction, are both available from Epic Rites Press. The Blood of a Tourist, a book of new poems, will be published in early 2014 by Sunnyoutside Press. He was a recipient of the 2013 Acker Award. Jessica Thelen is a poet from Western Massachusetts. She is currently working on her first full length collection, tentatively titled Nota Bene. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Dirty Chai, Flare: The Flagler Review, Free State Review, and various others. Birdie Turner is a teaching assistant in the English Department at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. Her poetry and prose has been published in Judas Goat, Nebby, and Diverse Voices Quarterly. Currently, she works on revising her first novel, completion of her master’s degree, and saving feral cats from the South Dakota winter.
Art Contributors Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum & The AlbrightKnox Art Gallery. Amy Lindsey has enjoyed working in multiple forms of art throughout her life. She also enjoys collecting art and has been in several galleries throughout Chicagoland, including Paul Henryâ€™s Art Gallery in Hammond, Indiana. Carol Moore is a lifelong resident of Northwest Indiana and free-lance writer and photographer whose passion centers around the theater. Carla Winterbottom has a BFA from the University of Windsor and a MFA from Northern Illinois University. She is currently working as the curator and gallery director at the Beverly Arts Center in Chicago. She has spent many summers at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Cape Cod, a dreamy fishing village that fuels her imagery.