Blue Mesa Review
Blue Mesa Review Albuquerque, NM Founded in 1989 Issue 39 Spring 2019
Blue Mesa Review is the literary magazine of the University of New Mexico MFA Program in Creative Writing. We seek to publish outstanding and innovative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, along with compelling interviews.
Cover Art Flamingo Feather Floating on Chicken Broth by Jury S. Judge
BLUE MESA REVIEW Spring 2019 โข Issue 39
Ryan W. Murphy
Layout and Design
Muriel Carpenter Michelle Gurule Nancy King Jared Valdez Jamesha Begay Chrisopher Castellanos Cameron Cates Sabrina Fannin Jonah Mioduszewski Logan Robinett Robert Tobin Teyler Tulloch Mitch Marty
Table of Contents Letter from the Editor
Poetry My Mother Sings of January J. David
Pentimento henry 7. reneau jr.
Lesbians at the Gun Store Catharine Wright
Nonfiction How to Celebrate Maritza N. Estrada 9 Stain, Imprint, Communion Harrison Candelaria Fletcher 21
Fiction Driftwood Campfire Vince Tweddell
The Full Windsor Kent Kosack
Art Makeup Time Mohammad Ali Mirzaei
Rockwall Springs 1F Jenn Powers
Before the Storm Haylee Massaro
Magic Sasha Burshteyn
Santa Fe Dream Timothy F Phillips
Reflection Emily Tarnawa
Author Profiles 37 Artist Profiles 39
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Letter from the Editor Dear Reader, In this issue, you’ll find stories of not quite adolescence and not quite adulthood—the unique space between child and parent that we might just call generation. You’ll find essays and poems about the body—how it is at once the thing that holds us upright and the thing others use to hold us down. Some issues come together with clear themes, and this definitely isn’t one of them. But I love the feel of this collection of art. I love the intersection of stories, of language, of place, of bodies, of identities. But don’t just take it from me. Read what our editors had to say about some of their favorite pieces: Poetry Editor Tori Cárdenas writes, “In ‘Pentimento’s’ free and playful verse, henry 7. reneau paints a not-so-dystopian picture of our nation, in which the everyday violence against black bodies is chillingly palpable. The images he conjures are tangible and staring you in the face, even through the screen you read it on. The poem’s examination of a fabricated national identity is a challenging one, but encourages us to reevaluate who we are and what we stand for. To present reneau’s work is an honor, and a hope that this spell-like poem can help us to ‘dis-remember who we are/that some things should never be taken for granted.’” Nonfiction Editor Ryan Murphy writes, “I’m a sucker for pieces that break my expectations. Maritza Estrada’s ‘How to Celebrate’ takes a coming-of-age story and through a shift in perspective portrays it with a simplicity that is stunning and raw.” Fiction Editor Ari McGuirk writes that in “The Full Windsor,” the story’s voice leaps off the page. “It’s crisp, sharp, laser focused and showcases how toxic masculinity is transferred through generations.” Of “Driftwood Campfire” Ari says, “Addiction is crippling. Watching an innocent teenage boy literally drift in its destructive aftermath, with no clear path forward, is heartbreaking and pulled off beautifully in this story.” You’ll also read a poem called “Lesbians at the Gun Store”—a personal favorite. You’ll love the word lesbian a little more than you did when you opened this magazine. Hayley Peterson Editor-In-Chief
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My mother sings of January J. David
I too know the folding and unfolding of the heart. I too have empty seats at the tables of my beloved. Wonâ€™t you sit beside me at the windowsill and trace Saturnâ€™s dance? I too imagine myself a kinder planet than most. If you were to give me your heart Iâ€™d place it neatly on my tongue then save it in my cheek. The past is never just the past. Sitting in the dumpster on the corner of Skidd and Memphis is the coffee pot from our kitchen. Where we come from there is a litmus test for kindness: dip your hand in milk if it comes out green you are growing gardens amongst yourself. One weekend it rained milk enough to drown our nostalgia for Kharkiv. We are so far from home God is squinting just to see us.
Mohammad Ali Mirzaei
How to Celebrate
Maritza N. Estrada I.
It’s your birthday—five years old, hoorah—and your mother’s arrived from la panaderia with a tres leches cake. Large, rectangular, white, inscribed in red-syrup frosting it reads: Feliz Cumpleaños. Mother’s laid the cake on the dining table. A match is pulled, dragged onto the striking surface, to release a hush of fire illuminating her tan skin. Look around the living room. It isn’t your living room. Your mother’s brother has allowed your family time to settle before you find a home after moving from the Pacific Northwest. Look back—there’s a room behind you in the dining room where you’ll get locked in a few months from now, a restroom in the kitchen, a rabbit in the basement, a room upstairs with a blue light bulb. Notice how subtle and resentful doors open; peeping eyes of your cousins open and close, unwilling to gather for a slice of cake. Blow the candle, blow it. II. Rounder in the face, you fill your mouth with mother’s homemade mole, frijoles, and arroz—a Mexican American fiesta. Eleven doesn’t feel like a year of celebration, but it does by having your second period in your lifetime and your breasts have begun to itch (when you ask your mother about itchy breasts, weeks later, she’ll tell you it means that they’re growing and you’ll nod, nod again when you examine your brown areolas in the restroom). Family your mother’s invited—second cousins, first aunts and uncles, an elderly man who is related to your grandfather, babies sound asleep in their Graco carriers—arrive as if they’re attending a baptism. In the basement, your cousins cheer, ¡Salud! ¡Salud! in the kid’s table, and you tell yourself ten years from now you’ll be 21. Extravagant styrofoam cups, and wine glasses snatched from upstairs, are filled and refilled with Jarritos tamarind soda (100% azúcar as advertised). When all the food and drinks have been consumed, take a few laps in the basement for a game of “tag” before realizing a sudden itch on your back. Let it pass and continue despite the back-laden pulse, heat and throb, of your mind dismissing your body, body dismissing your mind. III. While waiting to be attended in the ER, remember you were there ten years ago for shingles—a viral infection, caused by the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (chickenpox), with skin rashes along with blisters wrapped on your upper-back sliding to the side of your right breast. It had taken you three hours to get treated, and you sat with your mother waiting and waiting. And, then a doctor had shaken your hand, apologizing for the inattentive care from staff, asking in a sympathetic demeanor, How are you?
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IV. Now, as you hold a mauve tray for your saliva to drop and accumulate, bubbles rising and plopping to their own microcosm pool, you wait to get treated for something. Pneumonia? (No.) Bronchitis? (No.) Tonsillitis? (Maybe?) Get told you’re a difficult patient, while gagging as the PA positions a large popsicle stick on your tongue, pressing it down and sliding it back your throat. Receive a shot to calm your nerves and get prescribed useless medicine. Take time off school, reflect, read César Chávez interviews and Pablo Neruda’s The Book of Questions; recite poem “XXXI” first in English, second in Spanish:
A quien le puedo preguntar qué vine a hacer en este mundo? Porqué me muevo sin querer? Porqué no puedo estar inmóvil? Porqué voy rodando sin ruedas volando sin alas ni plumas, y qué me dio por transmigrar si viven en Chile mis huesos?
Whom can I ask what I came to make happen in this world? Why do I move without wanting to? Why am I not able to sit still? Why do I go rolling without wheels flying without wings or feathers, and why did I decide to migrate if my bones live in Chile? V.
When the day of your 22nd birthday comes, attempt to recollect birthdays you can’t remember, especially the teen years, while driving 5.8 miles to Whole Foods. Remind yourself you are in recovery of something and that is your pass if you can’t remember. Peregrinate aisles and sections of the store, though you know you can only afford their tofu, before heading to the bakery. Boston cream, carrot, and mousse cakes are embellished in display with the utmost toppings—glazed fruit, rainbow sprinkles, Ferrero Rocher-like chocolates—before meeting a cake you haven’t had in years: tres leches. No inscription needed; this one’s for youth.
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Rockwall Springs 1F Jenn Powers
Blue Mesa Review 2019 Summer Contest June 1, 2018 – August 31, 2018 $500 prize per genre Jake Skeets is Black Streak Wood, born for Water’s Edge. He is Diné from the Navajo Nation and holds an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts. His work has appeared in Boston Review, Waxwing, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. He is a winner of the 2018 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize. His first collection, Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, was selected by Kathy Fagan as a winner for the the 2018 National Poetry Series and will be published by Milkweed Editions in 2019. He currently teaches at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona.
Francisco Cantú served as an agent for the United States Border Patrol from 2008 to 2012, working in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. A former Fulbright fellow, he is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a 2017 Whiting Award. His writing and translations have been featured in Best American Essays, Harper’s, n+1, Orion, and Guernica, as well as on This American Life. He lives in Tucson. Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up in Nigeria and wherever else her father was stationed for work. Her stories have been honored with a National Magazine Award, a Commonwealth Short Story Prize and an O. Henry Award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, GRANTA and has received support from The Elizabeth George Foundation and MacDowell. She was selected for the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 and her debut collection WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY won the 2017 Kirkus Prize, the 2017 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and was selected for the New York Times/PBS book club among other honors. Arimah is a 2019 United States Artists Fellow in Writing. She lives in Las Vegas and is working on a novel about you.
For more information and information on how to submit check out our website: bmr.unm.edu/contest
Driftwood Campfire Vince Tweddell
He sunk his paddle into the water and pulled through once more, steering his canoe to the sandbar’s shore. A dull soreness rested in the calluses of his hands, his shoulders tight and tired. He didn’t know what day it was or how many days he’d been on the river. He was hungry, his food almost gone. Benjamin had always heard a person shouldn’t eat fish caught in the Ohio River, but if he were lucky enough to catch one, he wouldn’t hesitate. Nothing new. He and his mother had often driven her old Buick to the river bank and walked to their fishing hole underneath a downtown railroad trestle on a dirt patch hidden behind a stand of willows. They never threw anything back. “Better than food stamps, Benjy,” she’d say. They had always caught at least one, more often two or three. The fish, along with cornmeal and potatoes and some borrowed ketchup packets from the diner near the river, had provided enough food for the day. It had to be August by now. It was hot and the fish hid deep beneath the water’s slow flow and he had caught nothing, hadn’t even felt his line twitch since his third day on the river. His journey had begun in June, two days after her funeral, the cheapest the funeral home would offer. The only other people who had attended were the priest and one of the owners of the mortuary, the one who had pitied him and accepted his plan to pay lay-away for casket and funeral. He bought the canoe that same day. He was driving home when a glint of the late afternoon sun bounced off the shiny aluminum boat at a passing yard sale. Benjamin had no urge to buy a canoe until the light hit him in the eye, and he had no urge to paddle the Ohio until he bought the canoe. He paid with a hundred-dollar bill he’d found in her nightstand: his inheritance, along with her rusting Buick and three bulk boxes of Ramen and her fishing rod. He drove to the convergence of the Monongahela and the Allegheny and left the car in a lot next to a city park overlooking the river. He’d never been in a canoe. The varnish on the worn paddles was flaking, and he hadn’t known where to put his hands. Now he beached the canoe and stepped out onto the sand. Willows and weeds grew scattered near the bank. A few cottonwoods rose high behind them. The sand sizzled the soles of his bare feet and its warmth seeped in-between his toes. Hundreds of logs were strewn on the beach, drying in the sun since the last rains, weeks ago. When he was thirteen, three years earlier, his mother dragged him to a party on a sandbar that reminded him of this one. Late that night, she came to the tent to lie down, and Benjamin listened to her fidget. She moved and turned over and twitched for half an hour. “It’s no use,” she said aloud. She told him she needed water, left the tent, and rejoined the others raging through the night. The next morning, when he woke, he found she’d spent the early morning hours building a massive fire ring around a mound of driftwood stacked to her waist. “I couldn’t sleep, Benjy,” she said, an ashamed smile on her face. “I decided I’d get the fire ready to cook on this morning.” She lit the driftwood and they both watched as the flame rose. “Driftwood makes the best fires,”
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she told him. “It’s been lying in the sun drying out and when it gets set, it’s ready to burn, like old newspaper.” When the flame had fallen to a working-height, his mother rigged up a stand and placed a cast iron above the heat. She fried bacon, then threw a catfish fillet into the sizzling grease. While the others slept, he ate and she watched him. She said she wasn’t hungry. She told him then she didn’t want him to be around her friends anymore. He thought she’d stop seeing them, too. That turned out not true. In the years that followed, he often spent time alone, feeding himself noodles, sometimes skipping school. “If they aren’t good for me, they’re not good for you,” he heard himself often responding to her. But she couldn’t stop, and she got worse. He thought he could have done more to make her stop. He’d failed. Benjamin set up his tent and took his fishing rod to the back current of a small inlet on the sandbar. There he imagined big fish lurking in the swirling waters, feasting on all the food flowing into the back current. After dropping his line in and propping the pole up with a Y-shaped stick, he sat on the sand next to a willow, pulled his knees to his chin, and watched as the bobber swirled, never dipping under. He thought to pray, but didn’t. Those prayers had been prayed and had not been heard and now he knew he’d never believe in all of that again. He again looked at the bobber, circling lazily, never falling. “God dammit to hell.” The thought of another noodle meal frustrated him. He left the propped-up rod in the sand and began to collect driftwood, wondering about many things. He wondered why none of her friends had come to her funeral. Benjamin wondered why she’d ever begun to use. He had never known his father, and he wondered about him, too. He was just a man his mother had a relationship with, a man who’d told her he didn’t want to be a father. Then he left. “Did you love him?” he asked her once. “I loved him at least one night.” She laughed a little and then she saw his reaction. “Things happen, Benjy. It’s not so bad as everyone says. It’s just life. I’m glad for it.” And his grandparents. He wondered about them. They’d disowned her after she and Benjamin had visited them a couple years ago. Her face was scabbed, and she pleaded again for money—just to get through the week till her next fast food paycheck. “You are despicable,” his grandfather had said. “A disgrace. What kind of a mother are you?” But now it was over, their daughter—their daughter who had graduated summa cum laude—was dead, and where were they? He spent an hour collecting driftwood, the bundles heaped in his arms, and he stacked it in a mound taller than him. Some he moved into the fire ring, and once it caught the fire popped and crackled and soon raged. Day had moved to dusk and on to night. He decided to stay up with the fire as long as it burned. Benjamin stared into it. Sometime tomorrow, if he estimated right, he’d land back at his hometown riverfront. He had no plan after that. He’d probably have to report somewhere, social services or foster care. But he didn’t need any of that. He could take care of himself; he’d been doing it for years. He stared at the flame until smoke hit his eyes, causing them to water, but not tear. He hadn’t cried since her death. He rubbed his eyes and then saw her lying in bed the day she died. Her cheeks sunken, eyelids closed over bugged eyes, her frame so slight it seemed skin covering bone. Scabs marked her forehead. He didn’t want that image, but he could think of nothing else. He wanted to remember her
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from when she was younger and still living, before she’d started all of that. But he couldn’t imagine anything else. He only saw her at the end. He rose and walked to his supplies in a plastic tub in the canoe to get a package of noodles, but then he remembered his fishing rod. He grabbed a flashlight and moved to the back current to check. The line gave a jerk, then relaxed. He first thought it was a stick or some brush on the hook, but then it tugged again, and he knew it was something. The whiskers broke the surface first. Then the catfish’s great body emerged. He dragged it onto the shore, thumbed under the gill, and pulled out the hook. He grabbed his bucket, threw the fish in, rebaited his hook, and recast. Almost as soon as the sinker pulled the bait down, another giant fish latched on. And then it happened again, and again. As the night wore on, his bucket filled. Sometime under the moonlight’s shine, the night a blur, the fish quit biting, and Benjamin knew it was his time to quit, too. He looked at the fish squirming on top of one another inside the bucket. He returned to the fire and stoked it. Benjamin filleted the fish, rigged the cast iron above the flame, and cooked all of them in a film of bacon grease leftover from a breakfast weeks back. He wrapped the ones he couldn’t eat now in foil and stowed them in the tub. Then he sat on a log and ate and loaded his stomach, while the driftwood campfire flickered, slivers of smoke escaping up through dark skies. When he was gorged, he lay down in the sand and slept, the coals beside him simmering down to a warm ash. The ray of early sun shimmied through a break in the leaves of a willow tree and woke him the next morning. The fire was dead now, and sand flaked his hair. Benjamin broke camp and loaded the canoe. He urinated on the ashes, then pushed off into the river. The large driftwood monument remained behind. When rains fell and waters filled the valley, the river would carry its pieces to the next sandbar, continuing like this for generations, just as it had for generations before him. Benjamin drifted for hours, going as slow as the current took him. He crossed beneath a bridge and then another, and then another he recognized, and he knew he was near his hometown. Soon he was looking at familiar buildings along the riverfront, the spire of the church rising behind them. He saw the power plant and next the fountains of the city park where children were playing in the spurting water. And in the distance, the railroad trestle crossing the river. He drifted farther, and soon he recognized the spot where she had taken him to fish, a bare patch of dirt under the railway bridge, the willows behind it hiding them from the rest of the world. He saw her then, pulling in a giant cat, smiling. “We’ll have to buy a whole bucket of cornmeal to get this one fried,” she’d said. She was laughing then and she raised her fist into the air and roared in excitement and she was a good person. No matter what anyone had ever said, or would ever say again, she was a good person. He knew that now. He had always known. He blinked away water in his eyes and paddled stronger, crossing under the trestle. He moved faster, the canoe ripping a ‘V’ in the water, until he was again among trees and sandbars, miles downstream from home. His hands gripped the paddle. He didn’t notice the calluses aching with each stroke or the soreness in his shoulders. He paddled harder. Miles later, he neared a stand of trees rising from an island in the river. He saw a sandbar where he would sleep the night. He stroked once more, pulling the paddle through the water and then guiding the canoe to the beach. He scanned the sandbar for driftwood. 15 | Issue 39
Before the Storm Haylee Massaro
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Pentimento after Claudia Rankine Pentimento reneau jr. afterhenry Claudia7. Rankine our visibility is made manifest only in the discussion of our absence the outside gaze that quantifies & qualifies our skin our content of character our submissive be patient . . . waiting but in a survivable way like apparitions given shape by fear who can move through stop & frisk all-white juries & mandatory minimums we are skewed to the margins invisible! as outliers that move about on the perimeter summoning any demon willing to knead us into freedom a figurative shade of soul on ice sculpted by any means necessary & the articulation of in-just-us we are sleeping while standing up & dis-remember who we are that some things should never be taken for granted because Amerikkka is playing one big trick on us: the moment the Terminatorâ€™s eyes glow red & locks in on its target: the police watching for us waiting for us to make a move any move not because they did not see us but because they thought No One was standing there some dark semblance of self that is criminally seen: visible the minute we pick up a toy gun pull on a hoodie protest peacefully or reach for something in our pocket become the stereotypical menace to society a mug shot as evidence of criminal visibility we are the flawed One-Drop melanin-ed skin with our Angela Davis halo of hair we hope that God mistakes it for a mic & speaks unto just-us for all 17 | Issue 39 we be designated spooks in the hate-scented air of Amerikkka
become the stereotypical menace to society a mug shot as evidence of criminal visibility we are the flawed One-Drop melanin-ed skin with our Angela Davis halo of hair we hope that God mistakes it for a mic & speaks unto just-us for all we be designated spooks in the hate-scented air of Amerikkka whirling dervish on the head of a pin stabbed into the outside gaze of Freedomland: a white picket fence made of chain-link & concertina-wire & our teeth a bio-luminescence that contrasts the stain of blackness surrounds us a civil invisibility that put our names on lists just so they could point to those lists: we know it wouldn’t free us or render us seen some days we just didn’t care we were watching bodies that looked & felt like ours gunshot & choked & beaten & then we were watching our bodies buried beneath the spectacle of a nationally televised weeping wailing & gnashing of teeth the t-shirts & the tweets become a hashtag: #blacklivesmatter most days we only wanted to create the sense of a safe space despite remembering we were never meant to survive but approaching the everyday with a keen eye for subtext &
proprioception telling us where we were in relation to prison the morgue the racist pigs of predatory badge & guns the downward years to come Note: Quotation in italics from “A Litany for Survival” by Audre Lorde. Note: Pentimento—the presence or emergence of earlier images, forms, or strokes that have been changed and painted over.
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Stain, Imprint, Communion Harrison Candelaria Fletcher
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Drawn first by color then by weight to an oval of ochre in the hot Marquez sand a vein of rust a branch of blood centering the halves like the arroyo you crossed with both sides connected by the thinnest of roots yet somehow intact somehow surviving while the painted Mary waits nearby in a cave still blue on the walls her hands pressed tight to the peeling prayers you can almost feel the pulse in your fingers rolled over your bones across your thumb the cracks and pits rise the surface inside your pocket a pollen of grains worked deep into your skin.
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Beside the river head low on your knees stained-glass sky hymn of the llano between your fingers silver beads drip a liquid chain an absent cross misplaced or lost never actually worn the weight enough to keep you reaching both hands grasping at memoryâ€™s emulsion the persistent reflection of all it once held.
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Kicked from red dirt the toe of your boot on an acequia curve a labyrinthine eye in sun-striped shadow once part of a vessel now shaped by the break its black-and-white edges a roadmap home against your palm align the lines a leaf unfolds across the Rio Grande Valley grafting contours completing the whole.
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The Full Windsor Kent Kosack
My father came undone with his tie. It took six years, the full unraveling. I first noticed it one morning during my junior year of high school. My father and I didn’t talk much. He was immersed in his work as the head clothing buyer for a local discount menswear chain, traveling the world in search of bargainbasement coats and ties he could gobble up in bulk and sell to office workers aspiring for bigger offices with better views. But when he was home, we ate breakfast together—me, hunched over my bowl of granola, him similarly hunched over his blackened pumpernickel toast. That morning I sat across from him and, looking over my bowl of soggy grains, I noticed something wrong with his tie knot. It lacked that little dimple in the middle he was always so careful to produce, the supple spot like the hollow of the knot’s throat. The rest of his outfit seemed up to the usual snuff. Dark gray suit, rich green gabardine tie, creamcolored shirt, polished burgundy brogues. As he flipped through the Times with one hand and played with the charred crumbs on his plate with another, I asked him if he was all right. “What?” he said, flipping through the paper to the style section. “You all right?” He looked up at me like he was just realizing I was there. Remembering he had a kid. “Yeah, peachy keen.” I’d never heard him use the word peachy before. Or keen. I don’t think I’d ever seen him eat a peach before. He was a meat and potatoes man. But he kept his eyes on his paper and I had a whole day of high school ahead of me to languish through so I left it at that. These little slips in attire grew more egregious: colors clashed, shirts untucked, starchless collars lay limp and defeated around his neck. These were the indicator lights that the formerly well-oiled and well-dressed machine that was my father—fast-talking, no-nonsense, high-earning, put-up-or-shut-up patriarch—was breaking down. The fractures before the big disassembly. But clothes had not always chafed him. No, in his prime, my old man was quite a sight. You wouldn’t know it now, but he was once dapper, distinguished even in his pajamas, but spectacular in a suit. Granted most people look better in a well-fitted suit, but he had a special sharpness, an exactitude that left people with the impression that he was cut from a finer cloth. Before my father broke down, back when I was a kid with his heroes intact, my world spun for him. Spun and stopped, too. As a toddler I’d crawl into his closet and try to climb a cascade of ties—knit green or gray wools, regimental striped silks, ribbed failles—the overstuffed closet of a social-climber, a middleclass version of the Duke of Windsor’s own collection with the names of the fabrics exuding refinement and culture and hinting at adventure: Egyptian cotton, Persian cashmere and Harris Tweed from the Outer Hebrides. Rich merlots overlapped saturated indigoes, ornate paisleys dangled next to puckered seersucker. A rack of ties where moods and memories juxtaposed: a light and bright pastel madras for
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summer barbeques abutted a black tie, a satin slash of shadow in the corner that I’d seen him wear, dignified and stoic, reading Frost’s The Road Not Taken at my grandmother’s funeral. His closet was more colorful and cosmopolitan than the rest of the drab New Jersey suburbs I grew up in. I mean, he was slick. Twenty-five years in menswear had taught him what color belt to wear with what shoes and what club ties not to wear in England. Most kids couldn’t care less about their father’s wardrobe but I intuited the significance of his ensembles, seeing, even then, the need for a layer between ourselves and the world. My last year of middle school, after my fight with Mike Moretti, further cemented my appreciation for them. My punishment could’ve been worse but my father’s suit, like an enchanted fleece, saved me. It happened like this: I was riding a growth spurt out of the nerd ranks and into middling popularity and there’s always conflict when the social order is disturbed. Mine came in the form of Mike Moretti. We’d been friends once, in third and fourth grade, then drifted apart. Maybe he singled me out to bully because I knew him when he was a sniveling kid ankle-deep in the dolls boys were brainwashed into calling action figures. In eighth grade, like a tropical storm promoted to full-blown hurricane, he became a real menace, punching, stomping, tripping and otherwise terrorizing his way into the upper echelons of our grade’s hierarchy. My peaceful maneuvering into the lower-ranks of the same group galled him. So he began to push. He’d mock me when I told a story or trip me in gym class. Once, while holding what I thought an impressive chin-up, he ripped my gym shorts clean off. My baggy boxers kept the class from seeing my bare ass but it stung nonetheless. Worse yet was when I was trying to impress a girl. Out of nowhere, after working up the nerve to flirt with one, or talk to one—which then felt very much the same thing—Moretti would materialize behind me in the form of a loud, wet fart sound. I still hear the echoing, demoralizing squish of it when I ask a woman out. If I knew an answer in class, he’d call me a nerd. And if I didn’t, he’d laugh and call me a moron. I couldn’t win. The pressure continued to build until his friend, Kyle something, crouched behind me and Mike pushed me over him, a classic ambush. Normally, I’d have shrugged it off. But this time everybody and their mother saw it and there was that pause, a pause you don’t see coming but when it’s there you know it. Everyone knows it. I knew it might set the tone of the next three years of my life, maybe even all of it. So, what did I do? I slugged him. Hard and fast and clumsy, swinging for my tormentor’s face with all I had. I hit him as I sprang up off the pavement, breaking his jaw and cracking a tooth or two. Busted my knuckle, too. Two teachers separated us, thankfully, because when Moretti’s shock at me having the guts to hit him wore off, once he’d swallowed the bits of teeth in his throat, he’d have pummeled me into a stain in the yard, a cautionary smear. When the crowds and testosterone cleared, I went to see the nurse who plied me with aspirin and sent me off with a perspiring ice pack to the principal’s office. The principal glared at me, a usually chilling look but my adrenaline burned through it. Pain and fear made the whole room throb with meaning, heightening my senses. I felt the ice of the pack in my bones and heard the ticking of the wall clock deep in my brain, like the hands were wired to my amygdala. The doom of waiting for my father. My mother had the afternoon shift at Macy’s where she sold high-end handbags for high-end people to fill with their high-end stuff, so I figured the old man would be called in. I sat staring at a liver-shaped stain in the carpet until my father pulled up. He got out of his car, purposeful, confident. His charcoal gray suit, expertly-tailored, shifted with him as he walked, rippling like a second skin. He didn’t look somber so much as decisive, armored in
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an executive’s attire. The principal started in on me afresh as my father approached. He told me I’d be suspended for a week and that I should be ashamed of myself and loads of other things to cow me. But in walked my father, sharp and cold. He reminded me of waking up to that first frost, the way it obscures your window and makes you worry about the coming cold and gloom. In my father came, undoing the front buttons of his overcoat, and sitting beside me, giving off an air of being inconvenienced yet at ease. I didn’t even squeak a hello. My ears were full of a rattling or a humming and I snapped to attention once questions were directed my way. My old man asked me about the fight. Like a court procedure. A call to order. I nodded yes, I had been in fight. I could only muster simple responses. “Who’d you get into with it?” he asked, like it was a regular occurrence. “Mike Moretti” I said, while looking at my father’s crimson pocket-square. It looked blood-soaked, like deftly-folded and recently-used gauze. “Tom Moretti’s son?” I nodded. “Who started it?” “He did,” I said, then my old man nodded and told me to go on. I recapped my misadventures the best I could. It all tumbled out: I said I punched Mike in the jaw, that I didn’t think too much about it, that it just kind of happened. A reflex. I looked at the liver-stain. It looked like it had grown. “I’m sorry.” “Let me get this straight. This Mike kid started it by pushing you over? You punched him once, then the fight was stopped? Yes?” he added, nodding in my direction, prompting me. I rallied round that yes, that nod. “Yes, yes, exactly. Then I went to the nurse and here I am. She said my knuckle’s probably broken,” I said, brandishing the swollen proof. He turned to the principal and said, “Why am I here?” His voice was strong, condescending and accusatory. The principal didn’t like the question or the tone, felt the power in the room shifting out of his favor, so he started to puff up. But polyester will never be silk, no matter how much it wants to be. He said, “I’m called in to reprimand my son for defending himself against a bully? A bully and his sidekick? Frankly, I’m sorry my boy didn’t kick the little shit’s teeth in. Sounds like he’s in need of a good whooping. This is a waste of my time and his.” The principal was, despite himself, impressed. He asked me to sit outside while the adults talked. Ten minutes later, I was let off with a warning. I’m not sure how my father finagled it, but it might have had something to do with the principal’s snazzy new double-breasted suit he wore to school the following week. I followed my father out, sent home for the rest of the day. “Did you get a look at that guy?” he asked once we got in the car. “Yes,” I answered, unsure of what to say. “Well,” he said, lighting a cigarette with the electric coil of the car lighter. “Well, he’s the principal?” “He’s the principal of bad taste,” my father said, blowing smoke at me. “The guy looked like he just stumbled out of a K-Mart catalogue. And his comb-over? Come on. Even his tie looked sad, loose and
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all frayed like it had been chewed on. I can’t blame you for not taking him seriously. The guy stinks of failure. It’s coming out of his pores.” But I had taken him seriously. I’d been seriously scared shitless. Though I kept that to myself and just watched my father as we merged on the highway, the neat break of his slacks as they fell on his gleaming cordovan shoes. I noticed a bit of ash on his pants and a small stain on my father’s tie then, like a faded splash of ketchup, but I didn’t say anything. Yes, my old man was different then, in appearance and action, a man in command. That was years ago, before his company declined and he slipped into slovenliness, the crumpled shirts and wrinkled pants, before he began hiding bottles of booze in the shed and under the passenger seat of his bright red bimmer. Business slowed and my father’s company became more casual as it croaked. I’m not sure why. Let itself go collectively, I guess. After the first round of layoffs, he started going in with a jacket but no tie. He looked naked to me when he left the house without a tie. I mourned for all those colors and textures hanging forgotten in his closet. Around this time, I started seeing girls and getting my act together. I borrowed one of my father’s jackets for the semi-formal and felt like a celebrity, easily the best-dressed guy in the place. A couple of goofs snickered, but I knew I looked sharp. I felt like James Bond, a handsome globetrotter capable of anything. Later on, he gave up jackets altogether and wore wrinkled button-downs two work days in a row. He looked like an inmate from an old prison movie, pacing the yard in ragged monochrome blues. Once home, he’d peel off his shirt and walk around the house in an undershirt. If I wanted to get laid, I had to sneak girls in the back to avoid his hairy belly bumping into them. Certainly no great mood setter. All that was left of his fine shirts was the lint balled up in the belly-button of his expanding stomach. Lint bound up with his body hair into little bundles that I found lying around the house, sometimes even on the kitchen table. More months passed and as his clothes came off, we started getting calls from the bank. Calls my father swore he’d handle. When the banks became collection agencies, when the cars had been sold and my college fund liquidated and we were still somehow in debt, he retired his bluchers and brogues. I imagined them out at pasture, lowing in moonlit fields. The darker slacks were taken out of the line-up too. He even benched his penny loafers. Eventually, he was left with drab polo shirts, a couple of pairs of baggy chinos and a pair of dark blue jeans, which he tore off the minute he got home. Sometimes he didn’t even make it home. He probably slid out of his shirt in traffic but I imagined him disrobing in the parking lot of his office building, a clothing buyer who couldn’t stand to wear the stuff. The final fiasco for my mom was a brunch. After all of my father’s failed interviews, after his unemployment checks stopped arriving and the bank was about to foreclose, she asked her parents over for brunch. Probably to ask for some money. Or maybe just to show them we were still all right. Still a family. My mom had asked my father to pull himself together for one day, one morning, for her sake and for her parents. She had this nice spread laid out: fresh fruit, home-made bialys, smoked salmon, chive cream cheese, fancy coffee. She looked great in a flowery sundress. I wore slacks and a light linen gingham shirt. Very sharp. My father, however, lay in bed all morning smoking and reading the paper.
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We figured he’d roll out eventually and at least put on his homely polo and a pair of wrinkled chinos. But once the doorbell rang and my grandparents came in he launched himself out of the room in those same overly-seasoned briefs. When he went to get another cup of coffee one of his nuts flopped out of his underwear. A soggy pork rind. My mom noticed, I’m sure, but pretended not too. My grandparents somehow joked and giggled through the brunch. I guess old age had made them accepting. Or oblivious. Mom left shortly after they did. She packed a few things and retrieved the rest of her stuff the next day. One minute I was eating a bialy with lox trying not to look at the blackheads on my father’s shirtless back, the next my parents were getting divorced. And you know my old man seemed happy as a pig in shit sitting there, drinking coffee and spinning yarns about his travels in Italy as a clothing buyer. My last straw came later, last year when I went to see him with my new girlfriend at the time, Daniela—a real looker, as my father would say. The kind of girl who demands you wear your Sunday best. I thought seeing me put-together, newly enrolled in classes at the local community college, holding down two jobs and arm-in-arm with someone equally composed, seeing that his son was doing all right, making something of himself, that my father would rally round me like I rallied around that yes in my principal’s office years ago. I was wrong. The place was in shambles. An upper-middle class ranch slowly sliding into poverty. The grass hadn’t been mown in weeks and leaves piled everywhere. As I kicked my way through them, I stubbed my toes on empty wine, beer, and bourbon bottles hidden beneath the leaves.. The yard had become one massive recycling bin. A monument to my father’s decline and the blight of the neighborhood. All the manicured lawns around it only highlighted its raggedness. Daniela managed to step over all of the detritus, which is hard in high-heels. She even looked good doing it. The front door was covered in cob-webs. I couldn’t tell if he hadn’t left the house in a while or if he was just preparing for Halloween. I rang the doorbell three times and knocked. No response. The door wasn’t locked so we walked in.The smell of bacon was over everything. There was a faint smell of cigarettes too, under it all, and maple syrup I thought. We walked through the house calling for the old man but no one answered. We heard music finally. Some kind of jazz. I don’t know much about the stuff, but the old man had dusty records in the basement that he never listened to because the record player was ugly and Mom and I don’t care for jazz. Too choppy, like being in an elevator going up and down sporadically, with no sense at all, and no floor to get off at. We followed the music, if you can call it that, out back and that’s where he was. All of him. Out in the open air. Daniela gasped, but I’m grateful she didn’t barf. He didn’t even hear us over the music. Standing there naked and wrinkled and sagging, his butt pale and pimpled, he was twisting low-hanging apples from the tree. There was a bucket at his feet full to the brim with them. I liked those apples as a kid, sitting on my father’s shoulders to pick the unblemished ones off the highest branches. But as I got older, the novelty wore off and they were more trouble than they were worth, tart, bruised, sad-looking things. Fodder for wasps and worms. Finally, we’d just ignore them each fall and close the back windows to the stench of them, shutting out the sweet rot until they turned to mulch the following spring. So there he was, jangly music blasting and driving the neighbors nuts, I’m sure. And naked. Totally naked. Then he turned, apple in hand, and smiled at us through a month-old gray and patchy beard. The thing is—and this is what gets me—I think he was glad to see me actually. His whole
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body was a sack of grinning wrinkles. Glad, but too stubborn or cracked to put on a pair of pants. Chunks of an apple he must have just crunched through clung to his beard and chest hair. He held an apple out towards me, his hand trembling in time with the strange staccato snorts of a trumpet coming out of the speakers on the patio table. “Hey kiddo, want a bite?” “Dad,” I said, my eyes on his left shoulder and off everything else. “Are you forgetting something?” He stood there for a moment, apple outstretched, considering. “Clothes maybe?” I said. He laughed. “Your girlfriend doesn’t seem to like me.” I turned and saw Daniela was already through the kitchen door on the way back to the car. I hadn’t seen her go. “What’s with the monkey suit?” he asked. “You two going dancing after this?” I was wearing a new navy suit with a slight sheen to it. An athletic, European fit. The coat unstructured, the lapels narrow. The current style. “It’s Italian. Are you drunk?” He shook his head and dropped the apple in the grass. “Take it off.” “What?” “You don’t need it. It’s not you. The fit is all wrong. Take it off.” “Fuck you,” I said. “What’s even wrong with you? Are you having a nervous breakdown? Forget it. Mom was right.” He walked towards me and I braced for a farewell hug from my naked father but instead he reached for my tie knot and tried to undo it. “What the fuck?” I said, slapping his hand away. “Take it off. It isn’t you,” he repeated, and grabbed the tie again. I pulled away but he wouldn’t let go. He hung on tight and I felt the weight of him pulling me down, the knot like a noose. I shoved him hard so he couldn’t strangle me and he fell in the grass, knocking over his bucket of apples. I stared at him there for a moment, not recognizing the fleshy failure sprawled out in the yard. This man wasn’t my father. I straightened my tie and left, leaving him to his strange jazz and bitter apples. Poor Daniela was in the car, battling shock. Probably traumatized. I drove straight to the nearest Chili’s and bought her a half dozen frozen margaritas. Despite the goblets of boozy slush and what I thought was some pretty quick-thinking, Daniela never got over it and dumped me a month later. I don’t blame her. I shouldn’t have brought her there. Telling Mom about it, the state of the house, the state of him, was hard for me but I had to. We both agreed we wouldn’t go back there until the divorce was finalized, the house foreclosed upon, and even then, just to pick up leftover stuff. Not that there’s much. I heard he gave most of his clothes to a local thrift store. Sometimes, when I drive through town in the grips of nostalgia, I can almost convince myself I see strangers walking around in his worsted wool suits. My mother’s lawyer told her my father stopped fighting the divorce. That he was forced to leave the home when the bank took over but we’ve heard little else. I haven’t heard a peep from him since the Daniela incident. Nothing aside from a beat-up box that came in the mail a few weeks ago, a giant, lumpy cardboard and duct taped turd on my doorstep, my name scrawled on the side in red permanent marker
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in my father’s shaky handwriting. I didn’t open it for a few days, but when I did, I was greeted with the stink of him, cigarettes and his musk. Familiar and repulsive. And, through the stink, a plume of little white moths puffed out. He’d mailed me his ties, or what was left of them.. Nine of the nicer silk ones survived, though the heavy winter woolen ones were almost completely digested by the hungry mouths of the moths’ larvae. They ate my inheritance. I took the salvageable ties to the dry-cleaners and, I have to admit, they still look pretty good. I’m even wearing one—a navy tie with white polka dots, a favorite pattern of Churchill’s my old man always claimed—for a job interview I’ve lined-up. A management-track position at an up and coming telecom company, a great opportunity for someone with an associate’s degree in communications. An opportunity, anyway. Though the other night, when I was trying out my interview suit and tie combination in front of the mirror, I found myself unsure of which knot to tie. I know them all. My father ingrained them in me. The jaunty, caddish four-in-hand. The hedging Half-Windsor. And my favorite, the bold Full-Windsor. I first learned it the night of our football dinner—we were the champions that year, an undefeated and unscoredupon season. I was just a kid, ten maybe, oblivious to the weight the world assigned to trophies and suits, interested only in the game, the movement and adrenaline, the smell of the field and the feel of bouncing off of the hard earth after a successful tackle. My father’s company was at its profit-making peak so I seldom saw him. But he showed up for the dinner. Just in time. We went to the men’s room in this big banquet hall for him to redo the knot my mom had tied. “Look at this,” he said, “this is a despicable knot. It’s not even a knot. It’s a random tangle of fabric. I’m going to teach you the Full-Windsor. This is the ass-kicking, lady-killing knot of big shots the world over. Watch carefully,” he said. He smelled of cigarettes, liquor and cologne. How he always smelled. I tried to follow his hands in the mirror as he stood behind me, his head over my shoulder, his hands tying the knot, but they moved too fast and looked weird in the reflection, like they were my hands, not his, but I couldn’t control them. “Dad, I can’t see it.” “What do you mean you can’t see? You have eyes, don’t you?” he said, tugging down on the tie, hard, to cinch it up. It felt like fingers closing around my neck. “It’s too tight.” “Tight is good,” he said. “Tight will keep you honest. Discomfort is the key to success,” he added as he pulled out a Marlboro, hocked a fat green loogie into the sink, and lit the cigarette. The spit and mucous clung to the side of the sink. I ran the faucet to try and wash it down but it wouldn’t budge. “That’s why I’m such a success,” he said, blowing smoke at his reflection in the mirror. “You can’t smoke in here,” I said, worried my coach would come in and make us run suicide sprints up and down the hallways as punishment. He scowled and asked me if I was his kid or a cop. I fidgeted with the tie but couldn’t undo it. Reflected in the mirror, it looked impossible to undo, looked like it had been there forever, an eternal knot. “Come on, let’s get your fucking trophy. I bet you’ll get a plaque, too. And one day you can give it to your kids. One day you can teach your own kid how to tie his knot,” he said and flicked his half-finished Marlboro into the sink with the waterlogged loogie. Now, if I close my eyes, the knot nearly ties itself. Without fail, my fingers feel their way towards the Full-Windsor. Maybe this is my true inheritance. It is a hell of a handsome knot, the anchor of the outfit.
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I love the way it pulls it all together, the fat focal point of the suit, as good or better than the one my father tiedâ€”the full knot, the tie hanging straight, the feel of the fabric, the even tension of it as the crisp silk tightens around my neck.
Santa Fe Dream
Timothy F Phillips Blue Mesa Review | 34
Lesbians at the Gun Store Catharine Wright
Regarding the garden of Eden when the snake offered Eve an apple have we mentioned the satanic jaw shined its thin teeth reflecting the juicy fruit how Eve saw her breast reflected there too a floury bulls eye. My father once set me up in the backyard with his rifle for a little lesson in self protection tomato can, cleaned out, balanced on tree stump, I shot that can three times said, I have a good eye, don’t I. Eve knew she was in the cross hairs with that offer had a target on her breast pierced the skin slowly said, this one is sour and spit it out. My lover and I shop for a handgun studying the advancing target the gun too small for cross hairs. Our breasts stand firm as we take aim, the salesman says, it’s a good one, but we’re too turned off to bite.
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J. David J. David is from Cleveland, Ohio and serves as poetry editor for Flypaper Magazine.
Maritza N. Estrada Maritza N. Estrada was born in Toppenish, Washington, and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. She is Mexican-American, bilingual, and is working on a literary translation certificate in Spanish. She earned her BFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Nebraska Omaha, where she received a full academic scholarship as a Buffett scholar. Estrada is currently residing in Tempe as an MFA candidate in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Arizona State University and is an associate editor at Hayden’s Ferry Review. Her honors and awards include the 2019 Virginia G. Piper Creative Research Fellowship, winner of the Mabelle A. Lyon Poetry Award, Swarthout Award in Poetry, and alumna in Winter Tangerine’s workshop at Poets House. Her work can be found in Río Grande Review, The Flat Waters Stirs: An Anthology of Emerging Nebraska Poets, Misbehaving Nebraskans Anthology, and 13th Floor Magazine.
Vince Tweddell Vince Tweddell is a graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Murray State University. He has published several short stories, most recently in Alligator Juniper. He currently lives in China where he teaches English at an international school. He and his wife, He Chang Yu, have two daughters, Sarah Anne and Laura.
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Authors henry 7. reneau jr. henry 7. reneau, jr. writes words of conflagration to awaken the world ablaze, an inferno of free verse illuminated by his affinity for disobedience, like a chambered bullet that commits a felony every day, an immolation that blazes from his heart, phoenix-fluxed red & gold, exploding through change is gonna come to implement the fire next time. He is the author of the poetry collection, freedomland blues (Transcendent Zero Press) and the e-chapbook, physiography of the fittest (Kind of a Hurricane Press). He has self-published a chapbook entitled 13hirteen Levels of Resistance, and his collection, The Book Of Blue(s) : Tryinâ€™ To Make A Dollar Outtaâ€™ Fifteen Cents, was a finalist for the 2018 Digging Press Chapbook Series. His work has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Harrison Candelaria Fletcher Harrison Candelaria Fletcher is the author of the award-winning Descanso For My Father: Fragments of a Life and Presentimiento: A Life in Dreams. His personal essays, lyric essays and prose poems have appeared widely in literary journals and anthologies. He teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing Programs at Colorado State University and Vermont College of Fine Arts and is currently at work on a book-length essay exploring liminal spaces and hybridity. A native New Mexican, he lives in Fort Collins with his wife and two children.
Kent Kosack Kent Kosack is a writer and MFA candidate at the University of Pittsburgh where he teaches composition and creative writing. He is working on a novel and a collection of short stories. His work has been published, or is forthcoming, in Sonora Review, Tin House (Flash Fidelity), the Cincinnati Review (miCRo series), Columbia Journal, Hobart and elsewhere. See more at his website: www.kentkosack.com
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Authors Catharine Wright Catharine Wright is an eighth generation Vermonter who teaches courses such as Outlaw Women and Writing Gender and Sexuality at Middlebury College. She has published fiction, nonfiction and poetry in a variety of magazines including The Feminist Wire, Negative Capability, Praxis, Hurricane Alice, Narrative Northeast, and Children, Churches and Daddies, and has collaboratively written/edited two nonfiction books, Social Justice Education: Inviting Faculty to Transform Their Institutions, and Vermonters At Their Craft. She and her partner raised a queer blended family together and she is currently writing a lesbian love story.
Artists Jury S. Judge Jury S. Judge is an internationally published artist, writer, poet, photographer, and political cartoonist. Her Astronomy Comedy cartoons are published in Lowell Observatory’s quarterly, The Lowell Observer. Her works have been widely featured in literary magazines such as, Permafrost, The Ignatian Literary Magazine, Blue Moon Review, and Amsterdam Quarterly. She has been interviewed on the television news program, NAZ Today for her work as a political cartoonist. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA from the University of HoustonClear Lake in 2014.
Mohammad Ali Mirzaei Mohammad Ali Mirzaei was born in Iran, Tehran (August 8th 1982). His BA is in field of News Photography from University of Culture & Art Isfahan. His works in various festivals in Iran include: First place in “National Festival of Iranian people,” Chosen of the 4th Festival “Women and urban life,” Winner of Best Collection in “Festival Of Film & Photo Young Cinema,” Chosen in Fereshteh Prize (Tehran 2015). His photos have also been published in Midway Journal, TAYO, Columbia Journal, Hawai’i Review, Oxford, The Missing Slate, Silk Road Review & The Adroit Journal. He is a member of the artistic team Paradise Ocean Literary & Photography Team, with management by Seyed Morteza Hamidzadeh.
Haylee Massaro Haylee Massaro is a writing instructor currently living and working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She attended the University of Pittsburgh earning a B.A. in English Literature and then went on to study English education at Duquesne University. Along with photography and visual art, she enjoys reading, writing, and traveling, when she’s not in the classroom. 39 | Issue 39
Artists Sasha Burshteyn Sasha Burshteyn is fourteen years old and has lived in Brooklyn her entire life. She attends Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, one of New Yorkâ€™s most prestigious schools, and is one of the photographers for its newspaper. Both of her parents are photographers, which is what interested and inspired her to do it as well. She takes photos both digitally and on film, and especially enjoys taking portraits and photos of cityscapes. Beside photography, she is interested in music, academics, and cultural places around New York City.
Jenn Powers Jenn Powers is a writer and artist from New England. Her work is published or forthcoming in Haydenâ€™s Ferry Review, Jabberwock Review, The Pinch, Calyx, Spillway, Thin Air, Star 82 Review, among others. Her stories have been anthologized with Scribes Valley Publishing, Kasva Press, and Running Wild Press. Please visit www.jennpowers.com for information.
Timothy F Phillips Timothy F Phillips was born on a bitter cold day in January 1963 in the hills of a Northern Pennsylvania in an old coal town. He was coloring on paper before he learned how to read and write, his drawings consisting of the surrounding mountains, valley, and streams with farmhouses. He is now represented at ArtFusion/Fusion Art Gallery in Wynwood Design District of Miami and Artlink Gallery. He has recently been featured in several art magazines like A5 Art Magazine, The Open Arts Forum, The High Shelf Press, ArtDex Art Magazine, Strawlitter Productions, Castabout Art & Literature, and The Oakland Review. He was digitally feature at Musee du Louvre in Paris on July 13th, 2015. He has developed a unique style which is recognized by artists & collectors the world over.
Emily Tarnawa Emily is a 21 year old queer emerging artist located in Massachusetts. Currently they are pursuing an undergraduate degree at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Their focus in art is primarily using pencil, ink, and digital means to create. Themes often found in their art are all things creepy, nature, and human body related.
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Issue 39 of Blue Mesa Review literary magazine, featuring fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.