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ÂŠ 2012, FLARE: The Flagler Review, a publication of Flagler College. Visit www.theflaglerreview.com for subscription information and submission guidelines.
volume 23, issue 2 fall 2012
Laura Lee Smith
Managing Editors Lexi Evans Tiffany Grimes
Jamie Gardner Sydney Norwood
Meghan Cannistra Sara Seaman
Madison Ciklin Taylor Friedhof Laura Henning Pauline Thier
Jacob Burke Caroline Hoadley Ollie McLean Veronica Spake
Non-Fiction Editors Jordan Hausler Elisabeth Shields
Editors’ Note To continue the adventure we embarked on last spring, FLARE: The Flagler Review is now expanding upon our re-definition. This is the second issue after our redesign and we are immensely proud to be on staff to further see its progression. We feel this is a cause for celebration, and we have designed this issue to take our readers on a carnival ride to feel the highs and lows of the festivities, just as our staff has felt choosing the content for this issue. Our staff reflects our aim of publication: new faces and new inspiration for our journal with each issue. This is incredible, because the talent at Flagler College, as well as the writers around the globe, cannot be contained within a few individual pages. This issue, we felt it necessary to go in a new direction with our cover art. The piece selected not only adds further flare, but stands out to those who gaze upon it. In the same vein that our last issue directed us toward a higher caliber of publication, we selected “Dizzy” for its vibrancy and the artist’s commingling of color and shape to form this wonderful work of art. Using the written word, we endeavor to hand pick and compile the best poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and plays in a way our artist has accomplished with his mediums. We hope you enjoy the ride, just as we have. Lexi Evans and Tiffany Grimes Managing Editors
Lisa Zimmerman Michelle Lee Alan Britt Thad DeVassie Megan Parker Mary Shanley C.S. Fuqua Bruce Lader Jesse Millner Benjamin Nash Scarlet Martin John Davis, Jr. William Doreski James Valvis Valentina Cano Tom Holmes Ruth Keally
Elegy for a Typewriter Hoarding Shadows Carried Away The Naked Truth Aubade for Song Sparrows Pantoum: A Toast by Numbers Ireland in the Kitchen Oh that Conscience Virtual Environment Trailer Flight in Five Syllables Rationing Electricity in Honduras Shadow Bond Her Favorite Uncles A Single Murky Sensation Poem Composed Entirely with Last Lines from Margaret Gibson Poems Daydream The Birth of Knowledge The Lesson
Patty Somlo Orman Day Matt Kelly
On Your Silver Rails Dragging the Deer
Jacob M. Appel
74 75 76
One Hundred and Five Red Winged Butterflies The Gamble And You Don’t Come Back How Tall You Will Stand in the First Night A Night Much Like This One
Dorothy Place Anna Tatelman JM Huscher
7 8 13 14 26 27 28 37 38 50 52 58 59 60 66
30 39 61 67
No Fairer Fowl
Otha “Vaskeen” Davis III Audvantgardener Blemishes of Love Morning Glory
47 48 49
Elegy for the Typewriter Lisa Zimmerman
I miss the little ding! at the end of a typed line, that feeling of creative progress click-clicking, a sturdy train dropping words along an uneven track but chugging right along. It was a cheerful sound, a sound with purpose, even if the writing wasnâ€™t, even if there was no such thing as delete allâ€” only crumpled pages in the waste basket, those white paper carnations of failure.
Hoarding Shadows Michelle Lee
When you were in a foreign country with a girl who wasn’t me, did her hair smell of musk when you went down south into Spain, into hills of unmapped territory where you couldn’t speak the language except to ask, where is how far and do you know? Did you stop halfway into Andalusia because she said the view reminded her of a tango she had with a man who wasn’t her husband yet, then asked you if you believe in love? Perhaps we have been together too long for deep conversations – perhaps our walls are thick and white and bleached like the houses huddling against the side of the crags and keeping out the heat of August, hoarding the shadows. Perhaps you wanted to sleep with her in the double bed, the only room they had available in the small hotel hunched sleepily over the sea. Perhaps you didn’t touch her hand when the t.v. went off and the lights went out, you didn’t feel the lift and fall of her shoulders against your chest, she didn’t speak to you in the dark of fate and fidelity and of no one ever knowing. You stayed true to us even as you tried not to hold her, tried not to pretend her French accent wasn’t full of sex and a dancer’s legs in 4/4 time. Three times I asked if you could take me and each time you said, I wonder what she’s doing now, I wonder if she’s married – and I said, perhaps she is, perhaps too long.
One Hundred and Five Red Winged Butterflies Anne-Marie Thweatt
The child sat up in her small bed, eyes red and watery, blinking, wordless, staring straight ahead. Her mamma ran a rough piece of ice, so cold it hurt, over her forehead and cheeks. “Mamma, why’re you doing that?” Hazel squirmed. Her head was all fuzz, like it was stuffed with cotton and she was boiling hot. Felt like she was melting from the inside out. Felt like she could smell it. It smelled like the baking dirt of the road outside or that special smell her skin got when she’d been playing in the sun too long. Cooked. “Are they coming Mamma?” “Soon, sweetheart. You just be real still.” Hazel did as Mamma told her and stayed real still. Mamma wiped her brow. Hazel could hear the mockingbirds outside, squawking, squawking, always squawking. Mockingbirds never sounded pretty to Hazel, but at night the whippoorwills came out. Hazel liked the sounds of them in summer, cool, soft, longing calls. She looked back up at Mamma, the light hurt her eyes, and she was going to ask Mamma something about cicadas, no, something else, but Mamma was looking down at her in a way Hazel didn’t like. In a way that made Hazel nervous. She thought something she never thought before. “Am I dying, Mamma?” “No! Hazel, you shut your mouth on that!” Mamma never shouted. There was something in the air; a sizzle, and it felt to Hazel like that electric feeling right before a lightning storm. There were lots of lighting storms out here on the flatland. Hazel knew that sizzle smell, that buzzy feeling that made the hair on her arms stand on end like she was covered with prickly footed junebugs. If only she weren’t so fuzzyheaded. Words flew in and out of her mind all out of order. If everything weren’t so hot and confusing, she was sure she could put her finger on just what was happening. Then Hazel felt it start from her toes and her whole body was shaking and shuddering and – oh, God it hurts – she started to cough and wheeze. Everything got fuzzier. Her insides got even hotter, and she couldn’t stop from coughing even though Mamma put a handkerchief over her mouth to muffle the sound. She tried to push Mamma away
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because the handkerchief made it hard for her to breathe, but Mamma was real strong. Hazel coughed with the handkerchief pressed too tight over her mouth until the coughing had stopped. Mamma asked, “Is it over?” and Hazel nodded her head, but she really couldn’t know for sure, and so she tried to just lay real still, because she didn’t want it to start again. Mamma took the handkerchief away from Hazel’s mouth, looked at it, and got up fast and walked to the window. Mamma stared out the window, which had the white muslin curtains opened to let in the sunshine, and she stayed staring a long time. Hazel could see, every now and again, Mamma’s back shudder. “Mamma?” “Yes, baby?” “It’s so hot, Mamma. It’s full swing summer.” And then Hazel meant to say something else, except that everything went all loose and woolly again. The edges of everything were blurring together in a way that Hazel didn’t like, like the way things looked underwater, and her chest was boiling and full of mud, and it hurt to talk. There was something she wanted to say, but then everything went real quiet. She could see Mamma turned around and talking to her, but all Hazel could hear was the sound of Mamma’s eyelids, click, click, click. Mamma left the room, but instead of walking out on her own two feet, Mamma floated up to the ceiling and out the door. Hazel pinched herself real hard to make sure she wasn’t dreaming, but it hurt so she wasn’t. Then she thought maybe she was dying, but she couldn’t be dying since Mamma never lied. Mamma would be back soon with the inspectors. Mamma said they came in fours, rode in on great big, black horses from far away. Bogeys, come to take little girls away from their mammas and pretty bedrooms if the little girls coughed too much. “They will be here soon,” Mamma said. Mamma told her never to talk to a bogey and that Hazel should try to lay still and look real pretty and smile when they came but not, under any circumstances, to cough. Hazel wondered how she was supposed to manage that, but something in Mamma’s eyes made her scared and so she didn’t ask. Hazel knew she looked real pretty because just that morning Mamma had given her a bath and braided her hair and put her in her nicest Sunday dress and even let Hazel dab herself with some sweet smelling vanilla. But now her Sunday dress felt sticky all over and the bed sheets felt like they weighed one hundred and five pounds. Hazel tried to kick them off, but her legs weren’t cooperating and all she could manage was a weak, flop, like a fish. And then she thought, if I could just get
One Hundred and Five Red Winged Butterflies
these sheets off I could float up on the ceiling just like Mamma. The idea sounded nice, so inch by inch she began to pull the sheets up off her. She saw her toes first and they looked enormous and she thought, how did my toes get so big? She kept on pulling off the sheets because she wanted to be on the ceiling like Mamma. And then somehow, all on their own it seemed, the sheets just flew up and off and kept going up until Hazel couldn’t see them anymore. She lay there, real still, waiting to float, but instead of going up, she was sinking down. She could see the bed folding in around her and she started to get scared. She was still too heavy, so she pulled her dress off, and when it was off, the cool air against her naked skin felt nice. Mamma had a rose garden out back and sometimes she used to tickle Hazel with the soft side of the petals—not the leathery side, and that’s what Hazel felt like now—like the soft side of a rose petal. And before she knew it she was floating up by the ceiling and so was her little, white, wooden chair and her wooden bed and her little, white, wooden table with her initials, HMR, painted on it with yellow and pink flowers. She decided to go fly by the window to see the sun outside and who was playing, and she wasn’t scared anymore. Then Mamma came in, but this time she was walking on her own two feet and she shrieked, “Hazel!” There were four men with Mamma and they all had squinched up faces, like they smelled something bad. Mamma ran over to her and covered Hazel up with an old, moth-eaten blanket. Over her shoulder Mamma was saying, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Then somehow, even though Hazel was up on the ceiling, Mamma picked her up and put her back in bed. First one bogey, dressed all in black with a black hat on, was standing over her with a white cloth over his mouth, then the others. They all had on black hats and black ties with white jackets. To Hazel it looked like they all had black, oily eyes over their white masks. They were all looking down at her, touching her forehead, poking her stomach, pushing her chest, and she squirmed away toward the top of her bed, tucking her knees under her chest. But then they were all up on the ceiling, hovering over her, and the edges of everything went fuzzy and soft again. The bogeys couldn’t touch her anymore and Hazel had to laugh because all those bogeys looked so silly floating around in her bedroom. But when she laughed she felt the heat inside, like burning and boiling mud trying to come up and out. She tried to hold it in, but she couldn’t, even though Mamma had told her to. And so she coughed. She coughed before Mamma had a chance to cover her mouth with a handkerchief. When she did it burned, but it felt good too, because every time she opened her mouth to cough, one hundred and five red winged butterflies came
FLARE: The Flagler Review flying out of her mouth and circled and circled around her head. Mamma shrieked and tried to cover Hazel’s mouth. All the bogeys backed up far, but Hazel just kept coughing and coughing and laughing because those red winged butterflies were so beautiful. They were a red that shone. Red wings with black markings. The wings were so delicate, so quick. One of the bogeys came over and picked Hazel up and carried her out of the house and somewhere Mamma was crying, “Oh God! Oh, God!” but Hazel wasn’t scared anymore. Mamma was real far away now, but mostly what mattered were those butterflies, still circling round and round her head.
Carried Away Alan Britt
Well, they carried me to a Roman garden, or some open aired affair, you know, with servants in robes, dusty bones from the spit, in the ruins of a culture...artists of their day inherit the ruins, be it an abandoned church basement on St. Paul Street or a crumbling government building two blocks from the Library of Congress. But they carried me to a sans-domed stadium, in fact, stadium’s a bit over the top, but a ball field with an industrial forest green grandstand & concessions closed half-hour ago, night lights about to flash into gun-metal darkness......they carried me to an abandoned ballpark in the middle of a January night somewhere near southeast Florida, 68° & humid, palm fronds like humpbacked whales beyond a windy grandstand ushering in midnight mullet, eyelashes of moonlight rippling the lamplit Atlantic, I was carried, but I must’ve asked for it; otherwise, our wires grew crossed ‘cause I don’t remember volunteering as Joan of Arc surviving this blasted humidity.
The Naked Truth Thad DeVassie
Stand in the shower long enough without a catchy song to sing and the worst will come to mind. Plug your ears and all youâ€™ll hear is water pounding on the tin-like roof that is your balding head. Then pity the washcloth as it takes a cruise around your unmentionables.
You cannot shave the otter from your face, you cannot scrub the walrus from your frame. This is the naked truth, the problem with heavy thought during the morning wash, the reason for a strong melody and out-of tune vocals. Make no mistake, they are as necessary as soap, as vital as the oversized towel on the back of the door.
On Your Silver Rails Orman Day
From the viewing platform where I sit in the dusk and sit in the dawn, I watch trains on the two tracks that funnel rail traffic to and from Florida in Folkston, Georgia. Freights and Amtraks. Gondolas and dining cars. Flatcars and tankers. Passengers peering through their tinted windows, new automobiles aglow in their racks, vast metallic containers of grain, coal, orange juice and gravel. Some trains creak almost timidly through town. Others bluster and churn, reminding me of Walt Whitman’s ode to a locomotive: “Fiercethroated beauty! Roll through my chant, with all thy lawless music.” From around the world, rail fans arrive at this specially built platform to listen on a scanner to the squawk and static of radio communication between crews, and gaze at scores of trains through the day and night. I’m 65—four years older than Dad at his death—and I befriend two of these devotees, one who appears to be in his 40s and another in his 70s. The younger man is sleeping in his car for a week to watch the trains. In college, he hopped freights from Chattanooga to Cincinnati to see his girlfriend, who would become his wife, who would become his ex-wife. In a bar with a foamy pitcher of beer on our table, I would’ve asked personal questions about why he came to Folkston, but not here in the open air without the camaraderie of intoxication. Like me, the older man is the son of a railroad worker. For many decades, his dad supervised section workers, gandy dancers, muscled black men moving rails and pounding stakes, thirsty and perspiring in the humidity. He became a brakeman and then a conductor, retired after 40 years. He and his wife are going to spend days on this platform. And why have I convinced my Muse to spend a sleepless night in an idled caboose that shudders with every thundering train? Why am I willing to trade with her a day in Folkston for a day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? In a reverie watching a long freight train, I repeat aloud the words of Allen Ginsberg, “Boxcars boxcars boxcars,” and answer, “Memories memories.” * * * * When I opened the train set on a Christmas Day in the mid1950s, I pictured the tunneled and trestled mountain I would mold out of papier-mache, poster paint and chicken wire, and the extra
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rails and buildings I would purchase with dimes shaken out of my Hopalong Cassidy bank. I imagined myself an engineer, full-throttling an express along California’s coast while my three sisters pressed their noses against a passenger car’s broad window, searching the sea for sailboats and whales. But mine was the little engine that couldn’t. Every time I started up the train, I’d mouth an affirmative line from a favorite storybook, “I think I can, I think I can.” Though I possessed the optimism and determination of a Cub Scout, my train refused to remain upright. It stuttered a few inches down the metal tracks atop the uneven ballast offered by our rented home—the worn carpet of the front room, the warped floorboards of the dining room—and then stumbled and tripped, spilling a trail of cars: coal car, flat car, boxcar, red caboose. On the vacation days that followed, I nudged the knob of the transformer gingerly, and twisted and re-twisted the skewed tracks into what I hoped was alignment, but my train couldn’t circle even once the rustic scene of thin plastic—a depot, a barn, crossing signs and telephone poles—without derailing. My dad, aunt and uncle performed clerical work for the Southern Pacific, a railroad that rolled on silver rails in a later song by Neil Young. Grandpa Day had been the railroad’s chief dispatcher in Los Angeles, the culmination of a career that began in the 1890s when he was a call boy bicycling to desert boarding houses to summon crewmen and led him to master the telegraph key and ride cabooses as a conductor. And yet I was a failure at what should’ve come naturally to someone with railroading in his blood. I blamed myself, though decades later, I would learn that the train had been purchased by my parents—spending more than they could afford on us kids—at a department store with inferior wares and easy credit, a store my older sister Doreen was embarrassed to enter. It’s best I didn’t know that other boys at R.D. White Elementary were spending those last days of December squatting beside vast layouts of looping track, guiding trustworthy trains powered by engines that spewed a steam generated by heat. * * * * Attempting to commune with her inner child in her forties, my sister Laurel poised a colored marker in her non-dominant left hand and imagined herself back in grade school, assigned to write a short paper on her life. She scrawled four pages of words and drew a stick figure scene: her little girl self sobbing while Dad was striding with a cane toward an S.P. train. In 1955, crippled and tormented by rheumatoid arthritis, Dad rode the train from our hometown of Glendale north to the railroad’s
On Your Silver Rails
hospital in San Francisco. Though we later learned he wasn’t fighting for his life, Mom led us in passionate prayers in which my three sisters and I beseeched God to spare him. When he returned, Dad didn’t need a cane or a wheelchair, but he couldn’t hit me grounders with a scuffed baseball and someone else got the promotion he wanted. We kids had seen silent films, and now we recognized that Dad couldn’t floor a villain with a flurry of punches and hoist a damsel out of the path of a chuffing train. * * * * During family dinners at my Grandma Day’s two-story house, no one ever mentioned the railroad to us kids. Each year a new Union Pacific calendar—with full-color photographs of yellow trains streaking past majestic buttes, rivers and seascapes—was hung on the kitchen wall, but the front room wasn’t arrayed with the lanterns, spikes and water cans I would later find in the homes of collectors of railroad memorabilia. I only knew that Dad was a clerk working amidst the clack of typewriters, the squeak of pencils and the thump of adding machines in the S.P’s towering building in downtown L.A. We didn’t find anything odd about his reticence because on TV, Ozzie Nelson never discussed his job with Harriett, David and Ricky. Once every two years, these family gatherings celebrated the arrival of my Uncle Robert, whose successes we could see every time we opened a new stack of New Yorkers and paged through the cartoons. My sisters and I knew Uncle Robert’s story: he left the lifetime security of a railroad job to board a New York City-bound train with nothing but hope and a suitcase full of clothes and art supplies. In my boyhood, I never dreamt of working for the railroad, even as an engineer pulling a hundred cars around a horseshoe curve, tugging the pull cord of a steam whistle. Instead, despite my obvious inability to draw a straight line or anything resembling a face, I wanted to become a cartoonist and then in fifth grade, I vowed to be a writer. In the pimply years of early adolescence, I sought drama and mystery in mildewed copies of Alfred Hitchcock Magazine. I bought them with my lawn-mowing money at a used bookstore in which I had to edge past furtive men perspiring over “sunbathing” magazines. During vacations at my maternal grandparents’ weathered cabin isolated amidst the pine trees and ferns of the San Bernardino Mountains, my sisters and I shuddered at those stories of grotesque murder. Now, though, in the pensive years of retirement, I wish I had spent the coins and crumpled bills of my youthful earnings instead on moldering copies of Railroad Magazine and musty books such as Herbert Hamblen’s We Win – The Life and Adventures of a Young Railroader. Then I would have found dramatic tension in prose peopled
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by engineers (like the martyred Casey Jones), and telegraph operators, clerks and dispatchers, unassuming men called from their desks to save trainloads of passengers and freight. I sigh at the very image of it: I’m a boy again lying in that cabin beneath a moth-bedeviled light bulb, reading in Harry Bedwell’s Smart Boomer about Eddie, a telegraph operator who tried to thwart a calamity: “He crammed air into his lungs and watched the taillight soar at him. He ran with the convulsing cars and snatched at the rear-end grab iron when it arrived in the dark. The iron scorched his hands as they slid up the curve of the grab, and his bare feet stung as they slapped on the bottom step of the caboose. The brakeman had slammed out the rear door. He goggled at the spectacle in pajamas that was cast up from the smoking dust. “‘Get your train in the clear!’” Eddie yelled. “’Ninety-two’s coming close and expects to find you on the siding!’” * * * * When I was 18, in the summer of ’64 before my sophomore year at a state college, I labored for the S.P. on a gang out of L.A. erecting signals that dinged, wagged, and blinked. The Boss, John the lead man, Abie (a short wise-cracking Italian American who grew up in New York’s tough tenements, a widower raising five daughters), Wally-Gator (whose gullibility and poor hearing made him the target of pranks), and Chief (a Native American who liked to goose Wally with his pliers)…all called me “The Kid.” On sunburnt days, I shoveled trenches, climbed wooden poles to hang lines, brushed aluminum paint onto signals and battery boxes, fetched tools from beneath the truck.They laughed when they’d made me blush by teasing, “You ain’t never been in the saddle, have ya, Kid?” and “You’re a chest man now, but when you’re our age, Kid, you’re gonna be an ass man, too.” After carpooling home to a suburb, I’d shower away the railroad grit and paint, sit at my typewriter, listen to the Beach Boys, carpenter the words of my first novel. If I worked on that crew now, they’d call me “Pops,” and I’d lean on my shovel, ruing the neglect that befell my novel about Abie, Wally and Chief, heart-heavy remembering the hopes of that summer when they called me “The Kid.” * * * * My summer days with the railroad inspired me to write a novel, The Sky That Cries, with scenes like these: Tracy dug with a freshly vigorous stroke…Gaby shook his head, “Kid, we gotta make this last or they’ll just come up with more
On Your Silver Rails work for us to do. You tryin’ to be president of the company?” Tracy slowed down. “You know how it is, the first day and everything. I want to look like a good worker.” “You work too hard and they’ll think you’re stupid, don’t kid yourself.” Gaby leaned on the shovel to philosophize. “Take Freddy, for instance.” “The real muscular one?” “Yeah. He works like hell because he don’t know no better. He’s been killing himself so much that when he gets home he’s too tired to give it to his wife. Now you know that’s not right.”
In that novel, I slightly fictionalized an experience from my second summer working for the railroad. As a member of a survey crew in a
At the urging of Tracy and Gaby, the Chief reluctantly explained why he no longer visited the bar at the end of the work day or thumbed through his stash of girlie magazines: one drunken night he had spied the Devil grinning at him from a street corner. “Read this book before ya die and it’s too late and your soul’s gone to the place under the ground.” The Chief went back to mouthreading the Book of Genesis. This went on for several days, but by Thursday, the Chief occasionally forgot his commitment and swore and several times he caught himself telling a dirty joke. But he always kept his Bible in his back pocket and he never did go into the bar with the others. On Friday, when the work was through and the gang had stopped in front of a bar on the way back to Los Angeles, Tracy and Freddy decided to go over to a drugstore for some candy while the others were drinking. Tracy asked the Chief if he wanted to go with them, but he shook his head and piously held up his Bible. Tracy got his candy bar and left Freddy, who was enjoying a movie magazine, in the store. There was loud traffic in the street so there was no way for the Chief to hear Tracy coming. The Kid quickly got up into the back of the truck. The Chief looked up with a start and quickly sat on his girlie magazine. Tracy’s mouth opened and he looked down at where the magazine was partially exposed under the Chief. The Chief looked the Kid right in the eyes. “You mention this ta anyone and I’ll kick the heck outta ya.” The next week, the Chief, who was getting bored with all of those begats anyway, purposely forgot his Bible and joined the others in the bar.
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mountainous area of the Southern California desert, I held the rod, hacked away brush, pounded and flagged laths, and dangled a plumb bob over bench marks, with their known elevations. One afternoon just after lunch, another college kid and I stood beside Larry, who was 27, while he was goofing around, pushing a glob of spilled engine oil toward a small fire on a tie. The other kid and I crossed another set of tracks to drink some cold water before returning to work. A train was rumbling down those tracks when suddenly a train came from the opposite direction. Larry was flung to the side. He died instantly. With little elaboration, that’s how I wrote the scene, in part because I wanted to stay as close as I could to the literal truth, only shifting the death from a surveyor to a signalman. Now that I know more about writing and have read Cy Warman, Frank Packward and Harry Bedwell, I know what I should have done. Larry should’ve been critically injured but not killed. Maybe Gaby and the others could’ve drawn on the knowledge they learned on World War II battlefields to save Larry’s life by tying off amputated limbs with electrical wire. If his heart needed to be jolted, maybe they could’ve rigged one of their signal batteries. Without being melodramatic, maybe Abie and the other vets could’ve recalled the soldiers they couldn’t save while they waited to see if Larry would revive. Or maybe a mild-mannered railroad clerk, like Dad, happens upon the scene to get some paperwork filled out, and though he winces from his arthritic pain, he becomes Larry’s savior. * * * * Five years after he was born in Illinois in 1855, Cy Warman was working for a railroad as a water boy tending to the thirst of a construction crew. Later, in Colorado he toiled as a laborer, a fireman and an engineer. Those experiences helped him become a pioneering railroad writer during the era—1895 to about 1920—termed by Rob Johnson, editor of a collection of American railroad stories, as The Golden Age of Railroad Fiction. In his story “On The Limited,” Warman described a ride aboard a Canadian train that was running late on its way to Toronto: “The silver moon rose and lit the ripples on the lake that lay below my window as the last of the diners came from the café car. Along the shore of the sleeping lake our engine swept like a great, black, wingless bird of night. Presently I felt the frogs of South Parkdale, and when, from her hot throat she called ‘Toronto,’ the fat and fretful traveller opened his great gold watch. He did not snap it now, but looked into its open face and almost smiled, for we were touching Toronto on the tick of time.” Frank Packard, born in 1877, learned about railroads as a civil
On Your Silver Rails
engineer for the Canadian Pacific. He centered his story, “The Night Operator,” on Tootles, a newsboy who sold magazines and fruit on passenger trains. Because he yearned for a railroad job, Tootles learned how to send and receive telegraph messages from a kind-hearted dispatcher. One frigid night, Tootles fell off the train on which he was selling his wares. Injured and dazed he slowly made his way to a small unmanned station where he could hear a Morse code message, “Hold Second Number Two.” He finally understood that only he could prevent a collision of trains. Tootles “looked up the track—west—where he had come from—to where the switch light twinkled green at him—and, with a little sob, he started to drag himself back along the platform. If he could throw the switch, it would throw the light from green to red—and the Limited would take the siding.” He crawled to the switch, but the lever was padlocked, so he knew he had to climb the switch and change the light manually. “He tugged and tore at the lamp, tugged and tore at it, loosened it, lifted it from its socket, sprawled and wriggled with it to the ground—and turned the red side of the lamp against second Number Two. The quick, short blasts of a whistle answered, the crunch and grind and scream of biting brake shoes—and the big mountain racer, the 1012, pulling the second section of the Limited that night, stopped with its pilot nosing a diminutive figure in a torn and silver-buttoned uniform, whose hair was clotted red, and whose face was covered with blood and dirt.” Born in rural Iowa in 1988, Bedwell grew enamored of trains and the freedom they represented. So at home on a dummy set, Bedwell learned to transmit messages from a boarder who was the local railroad agent. By 17, he was a telegraph operator at a small depot. He moved steadily westward, took up writing in his spare time and eventually worked 32 years for the S.P. and its subsidiary. In 1909, his story “Campbell’s Wedding Race,” about a young locomotive engineer’s ordeal reaching his fiancée, appeared in Railroad Man’s Magazine, a national publication founded by an ex-telegrapher. From then on, he wrote dozens of tales and nonfiction pieces based on his own experiences and those he was told by co-workers. Did Grandpa Day and Dad know Bedwell personally and read “The Yardmaster’s Story” and maybe even inspire one of his stories? I don’t know. But Dad and Bedwell ultimately arrived at the same Southern California terminal: Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier. * * * * I didn’t read stories in which railroad workers performed heroics until I was 61. I became fascinated in college with depictions of the hobo life. My urge to catch a freight was stirred by Jack London,
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John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie. I couldn’t foresee that John Dos Passos was predicting my own future when he wrote, “Mac was terribly cold and huddled shivering in a fold of tarpaulin in the other end of the car. In the gray of dawn Mac woke up from a doze with his teeth chattering...His legs were so numb it was some time before he could stand on them.” In the winter of ’69, I hopped an eastbound freight train out of Los Angeles one late afternoon. The train first stopped in the desert town of Indio, where—and I didn’t know this until recently—Dad began his railroad career in the 1930s. I remained on the train while my skid row buddies climbed out to find jobs with a wintering carnival. “Another guy’s in the boxcar,” I wrote, “some wino who’s been asleep under a gray blanket covered with burrs. He’s been in here since I got on hours ago, but he’s not company. I feel utterly alone and when the wheels hit the joints between the rails, it sounds like a heartbeat. To keep warm, I stuff newspaper into my clothes, crawl into a cardboard box, and put on two extra pairs of socks, but it’s too damn cold and in the morning, I thank God my feet are only numb, not black with frostbite. “A few hours after he drops his trousers and squats five yards from me, the wino climbs out of the car when the train stops in a yard in Arizona. He wants to find some water. The train starts to move before he can return. He probably has to scramble aboard a flatcar. I wish he’d taken his bowel movement with him.” Several days later, I’m on my way to New Orleans for Mardi Gras: “At night, I wrap myself in paper and cardboard and watch shadow and light chase each other around the car. I’m so cold I could cry. But during daylight, as our boxcar rattles down the rails, I sit in front of the open door. I’m cross-legged, light-headed and brushed by the breeze. As the train passes through small towns, I wave to families waiting in their automobiles at railroad crossings. They smile and wave back. I’ve never felt so free in my life.” * * * * In The White Cascade – The Great Northern Railway Disaster and America’s Deadliest Avalanche, Gary Krist chronicles the fate of two trains stopped by a blizzard in the mountains east of Spokane in 1910 and then toppled by an avalanche. Though the Wellington Disaster claimed 96 known dead, other lives were saved by the heroics of railroad employees, including telegrapher Basil Sherlock and passenger conductor Joseph Pettit. Called into action because of the risk of blood poisoning, the telegrapher sterilized a razor blade borrowed from a nearby hotel and began to operate on a boy with a long piece of wood stuck in his fore-
On Your Silver Rails
head. “I cut out the stick,” said Sherlock, “being as careful as I could to save the skin and flesh.” He described his reunion with the bandaged boy several days later, “He smiled and I smiled back, then we shook hands. (But) I could not talk, for I had seen his two sisters and grandfather lying dead on top of the snow.” Before the avalanche roared into the train, Pettit the conductor broke trail for a group of passengers and railroad employees hiking downhill to a small resort. Though he could’ve remained safely at the resort, Pettit returned to the trains to ease the travails of passengers as best he could. The avalanche killed him. Pettit was but one of many railroad employees who were killed performing their duty. The litany of death includes men who toiled as mail clerks, laborers, stewards, brakemen, firemen, stenographers, porters, firemen, and engineers. * * * * For what would be the final time, Dad found me yet another railroad job for which I was unqualified. I had built signals, helped survey a train route, and now I was a carpenter on a mammoth project constructing a train yard in Colton, California. Little was going right in my life at age 25: I was an unpublished novelist living at home, owned no car, was a convicted felon because of opposition to the Vietnam War, and was in debt because of legal fees. For a year and a half, I took charge of the tool room and circled the site twice a day in a pickup truck noting the tasks being performed by each man. Some of the younger guys smoked home-grown dope, which— they claimed anyway—owed its potency to a special ingredient: the plants were fertilized by blood a wife brought home from her hospital job. Always interested in characters that could inhabit my fiction, I was especially intrigued by two guys. Randy’s rapid transformation from devout Christian to cynical non-believer was chilling to watch. He told me his uncle had gotten him the job after he had turned away from drugs and home burglaries and had settled down with a wife and two kids at age 20. Ever rebellious, though, he kept his brown ponytail when he joined the department. His first weeks on the job, he took a felt pen to the walls of a toilet cubicle and wrote, “Are you saved?” and “Are you ready for the second coming of Christ?” Months later, for reasons I didn’t entirely understand, he wrote on those same walls, “God is dead.” Pops, short, wiry and toothless, was raised in the Depressionplagued Alabama depicted by photographer Walker Evans and writer James Agee in “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.” Pops could’ve grown up in a shack like the one Agee portrayed: “The odors of sweat in many stages of age and freshness, this sweat being a distillation of
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pork, lard, corn, woodsmoke, pine, and ammonia…” Pops was a World War II vet who had fought bayonet to bayonet with the Japanese, and as a consequence, he flailed in wild panic if you touched him from behind. After nipping at whiskey one day, he told me, “I’m drunker than a wild bicycle. Ain’t had this much fun since the hogs ate my brother.” It never struck me that perhaps Pops was a war hero trying to keep ghosts at bay. * * * * A worrier by nature, Dad must’ve been troubled by my declarations that I was destined to be a great literary writer and by the risktaking nature of my hitchhiking and freight-hopping travels around America. He told me I should settle down first and then travel. I don’t heed his advice. With money I earned during my inept stint as a railroad carpenter, I circled the world with a pack on my back, riding trains in Africa, Europe, and Asia. In the Sudan, I climbed atop my passenger car and glowed in the desert sunset with teenaged boys slipping away from their villages for a few hours. Consuming world-spinning amounts of vodka, I crossed the Soviet Union from Leningrad to Moscow to a port on the Sea of Japan. Years later, I rode trains in India (grateful my Delhi Belly had subsided because the bathrooms were kept locked from the inside by riders without tickets), Peru (keeping my knife open in my pocket awaiting any thieves who might snatch my pack), and China (where a French guy and I sang snippets of folk songs through the night to passengers who seemed soothed by our voices). In his early twenties, Dad didn’t take up the offer made by his cartoonist brother: come to New York, become a writer. Instead Dad married the vivacious young woman who sold him fudge at a candy store and lived a prudent life: he didn’t sip more than an occasional beer, didn’t squander his paycheck, saw four children into adulthood, traveled little, and without much job satisfaction that we could sense, worked more than four decades for the S.P. When my aunt retired from the railroad, she was given a plaque and a hundred dollars. When my uncle retired from the railroad, he was given expensive railroad cuff links. When my dad’s career ended just four years short of retirement, he was given a floral wreath. He didn’t live long enough to see his lone son—after typing thousands of pages of fiction and poetry and enduring decades of rejection—finally get his first literary words into print at age 51. * * * * Without knowing why, I had spent years reading about railroads and pondering their meaning in my life. I couldn’t even explain to myself why—on a trip by car from my home in North Carolina to
On Your Silver Rails Florida a few months ago—I detoured to a small Georgia town to sleep in a caboose and spend hours sitting on a train-watching platform. One evening back in Durham, though, I’m focused on something else entirely: a set of doubles tennis I’m playing with younger friends. Midway in a game, I’m being ignored at the net while my partner volleys with our opponents. From a distance of about 400 yards, I hear the fierce-throated cry of a long train. Momentarily I’m oblivious to the swift movement of ball and the squeak of tennis shoes. I’m enraptured by the clickety-clack of the cars. And then without thinking, I whisper.
Aubade for Song Sparrows Megan Parker
We replaced mockingbirds with cell phones in this technological nest, made ripe with our flesh-stink on purple satin sheets. We burned cranberry-orange candles I bought on sale last week. We breaked to check messages. How many texts could we accumulate in thirty minutes? My God, what animals â€“ scavenged in the blue-lit screen glow. The pulse of downloaded MP3 files burned permanent copies into our eardrums. We went like this all night, rendered mute the moon-drunk mockingbird. How much more can we store? Your cell silenced at six thirty and I exchanged purple satin for gray wool. I nuked a breakfast burrito and replayed our morning ritual -a multi-tasked ballad of tongue-less kisses while thumb-texting God knows who.
Pantoum: A Toast by Numbers Megan Parker They released her from prison, ten bucks to her name after she car-crashed her kids in â€™98. The toddler ejected past the window frame. Cops found a bottle wedged behind the brake. After she car-crashed her kids in â€™98, she fed her son rum to soothe his pain. Cops found a bottle wedged behind the brake. Medics life-flighted her boy with torn vertebral veins, She fed her son rum to soothe his pain. Five A.A. pins rust in her cigarette case. Medics life-flighted her boy with torn vertebral veins, It took him nine months to walk with no brace. Five A.A. pins rust in her cigarette case. Three sets of sirens wailed her shame. It took him nine months to walk with no brace. She played the victim all the same. Three sets of sirens wailed her shame. The toddler ejected past the window frame. She played the victim all the same. They released her from prison, ten bucks to her name.
Ireland in the Kitchen Mary Shanley
Somewhere a banshee is wailing Somewhere a lamp is missing oil Someone’s counting fireflies In the Dining Room and Talking crazy-like a language I don’t understand Oh Ma, It’s you, You with the boney shoulders Slipping out of urine drenched Flannel pajamas.
“Mare, put some more peat In the stove, will you? It’s going to be a Cold one today.” Today, Ireland is in the kitchen. The only warm room in the house. “Keep the pot boiling, Mare, Never know whose going to Stop by for a visit And a cup of tea.” Today the leprechauns captured Mama’s fumbling mind; Their mischief shines Out the hollow of her eyes. I’ll leave you with the little people For another day, Mama, Tinker’s daughter, rattling like a string Of tin cans hanging off your Daddy’s ice and coal wagon.
Ireland in the Kitchen Down the cobblestone street You go, fingering your hair, Wondering how your little towhead Has turned to strands of silver. The leprechauns teach you to climb a tree that blooms in the forest eternal Where families of elves tinker on shoes While spinning tales and using tricks And tomfoolery to bamboozle And confuse you. Tonight, they promise To take you for a ramble In the bramble. They say its heaven In the bracken.
“Mare, put some more peat In the stove, will you? It’s going to be a cold One today.”
The Gamble Dorothy Place
Bekele woke. It was still dark, but the bird chatter told him it was time to rise. He stood, shivered in the chill morning air, and carefully stepped over his sleeping brothers. Once outside, he walked to the ditch on the far side of the road where he relieved himself, his urine stirring the sludge into brown foam that rose in exploding bubbles, releasing the rank odor of human waste. He reached up and broke a twig from a low-hanging branch, feathered the one end with his thumb nail, and cleaned his teeth. Back at the house, he stooped over a pail of water and washed his hands and face, then slid his feet into a pair of tire tread sandals. He was careful not to wake his brothers. There was no food. Let them sleep as long as possible so there would be fewer hours for them to endure the complaints of an empty stomach. Perhaps today would bring enough money for them to enjoy a full meal. As he did at the beginning of each day, Bekele left his brothers behind and walked toward the road that led to the center of Addis Ababa. At the crossroads, Bekele joined the steady stream of villagers hurrying down the mountainside; many were farmers or craftsmen anxious to gain an auspicious place in the mercato. All were hopeful that the day would bring good fortune. The silence of early morning was broken by the sounds of footsteps on the pavement, creaking wagon wheels and leather harnesses, fluttering caged poultry, and an occasional voice of a child waking and demanding to be fed. The fading quarter moon could be seen lowering itself among the branches of the surrounding Eucalyptus trees. * * * * When they reached the city, the cars and buses, honking their way through the intersections, overwhelmed the small noises the villagers brought with them. Despite the confusion caused by the traffic and the press of pedestrians, the villagers pushed forward. Their livelihood depended on reaching the market and setting up before the tourist vans arrived and the servants came to purchase the dayâ€™s provisions for their wealthy employers. As the villagers approached St. Georgeâ€™s, they could hear the sacred music being broadcast from the churchâ€™s loudspeakers and into the street. The music reminded Bekele of when he was a boy and his mother took him to see the paintings on the church walls and to
teach him the holy stories. He remembered the saint’s large, sad eyes and fragile fingers frozen in the act of the miracles that textured the Coptic faith. St. George, sitting astride a magnificent white stallion and thrusting his sword into the belly of the dragon, was his favorite. Back then Bekele believed that someday he, like St. George, would be a warrior for Christ. But that was an ephemeral dream, long past. His dragon was no iconic beast; it was poverty and poverty couldn’t be killed by a sword. At St. George’s, Bekele left the stream of villagers and turned up a side street, making his way toward the Gandar Hotel. The city noises drew back as Bekele approached the hotel compound. The only vehicles permitted on the street were the vans and taxis carrying guests entering or leaving the hotel. The clusters of red and purple impatiens planted along the hotel gate were a shocking contrast to the gray-black cityscape through which Bekele had just traveled. The hotel grounds were green, and shaded, and cool. Bekele imagined what it must feel like to walk up one of the paths that led to the hotel. If he ever got the chance, he would walk slowly and barefooted, inhaling the fresh, dewy scent of the robustly green plants. As Bekele approached, the hotel guard stepped out of the shelter and held up his hand as a warning not to enter. His blue uniform with large silver buttons and a silver cord around his one shoulder hung haphazardly on his small frame. When he recognized Bekele, he smiled a gold-rimmed front tooth smile, and re-entered the shelter. Bekele was a regular and knew the rules: guests and staff only. Everyone else needed a pass to enter the hotel grounds. Bekele walked to one of the benches outside the gate, sat, and waited. It was early but the tour vans were already beginning to leave for a day of sight-seeing. Bekele stood and waved as each passed. Everyone on the street said that smiling was good for business because the tourists would go home and tell others what a friendly place this was. That way, more tourists might be willing to visit Ethiopia. Bekele once made eye contact with a woman leaving the hotel in a taxi and, when he stood and waved, she threw a fifty Santim piece out the window. It had never happened again but Bekele could always hope. It was easy money. Younger tourists left the hotel next; the ones who didn’t spend money on guided tours. Even without their backpacks, Bekele could always identify them because they wore hiking boots instead of tennis shoes, pants with large, baggy pockets, maybe a vest, sometimes carried a camera, and always had a guide book. He liked these young tourists because they were friendly and interested in him and his life. Once in awhile, if he had nothing else to do, he guided them through
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the maze of streets and traffic that characterized the city and baffled the tourists. As a reward, they sometimes invited him to lunch. But he knew better than to waste his time on them; their money had to stretch over the entire summer. Nevertheless, as a friendly gesture he called to them “Have a nice day” in his best English. The phrase seemed strange to Bekele, but Westerners always responded positively when he called it out. Ethiopians never told each other to “have a nice day.” In this country, they were more likely to extend God’s blessings to soften the impending disasters, which were more likely than not to dawn with each morning. It wasn’t until after one o’ clock that Bekele saw someone walking toward the gate. She was older than the backpackers, that was good, and her hair was golden blond, probably dyed, and that was good, too. Only women with extra money dyed their hair. She wore expensive tennis shoes, the kind that rock your feet back and forth when you walk, and a light green gabi shawl she probably purchased at the mercato. The fact that she didn’t carry a purse or wear a pack around her waist worried him. If she was carrying money, it was probably in a belt safely secured under her clothing. From experience, he knew that no one, especially a woman, would reach into a money belt when they were alone on the street. But there was always the possibility that she had change in her pocket. As she neared the gate, the guard left his shelter and gave her the customary salute he reserved for tourists: his fingers, barely extending beyond the cuff of his uniform coat, rose smartly to his cap. Bekele heard him warn her against pickpockets and watched him give her a card with the hotel name and address on it. She gave the guard a wide smile and thanked him. Her teeth were large and white, as white as the dresses that the Ethiopian women wore at the Meskal Festival. A taxi drove up and stopped at the gate and the guard turned his attention to the driver. The woman appeared around the side of the taxi and started walking down the street. Bekele quickly assessed his chances: go with her or wait for someone else, a man with a fanny pack or a woman carrying a purse. A couple would be better. With couples, one of them always carried some cash. But he decided it was too risky to wait. This woman wasn’t a sure thing, but it was getting late in the day. His decision made, Bekele fell into step beside her. “Good afternoon, Madam,” he greeted her in his best English. “Is this your first time in Addis?” “Mmmmmmmm,” she hummed. She quickened her steps but Bekele wasn’t discouraged. He matched her pace. He was accustomed to tourists trying to leave him
behind, but he could keep up with the best of them. “Are you from America?” He was pretty good at guessing country of origin and liked to test himself. Sometimes he confused the English with Canadians. But he could always tell an American; they were self-confident and smiled a lot. She nodded. She walked very fast, swinging her arms freely and ignoring him. Maybe it was those fancy shoes. He imagined that walking in them was like being rocked in a cradle. He’d like to wear shoes like that, just once. He wondered if wearing shoes like that made your feet sweat. “Where in America?” he asked politely. “California.” Her answer was clipped and she stared straight ahead. “Oh yes, California. I know that place. San Francisco. Los Angeles.” He quickly named the cities he had heard other tourists mention. “You from that place?” She looked at Bekele for the first time and smiled. “Close. Closer to San Francisco than Los Angeles.” “When I finish school, I’m going to America,” Bekele told her. “I want to see what that country is all about.” Ahead, Bekele could see a group of lepers sitting on the sidewalk outside a small restaurant. Their disfigured heads and bodies were covered so that they appeared an almost indistinguishable heap and could have been easily mistaken for a pile of discarded rags. Only their dirty, fingerless hands could be seen; their bulbous knuckles pressed tightly into the soft plastic of the Styrofoam cups they held. The coins rattled as they shook the cups and pleaded for money. Bekele quickened his pace, using his body to steer the woman toward the curb. If she saw the lepers, they might arouse her sympathy. He didn’t want them to get any spare change she might have. He pointed to the billboard over the soccer stadium showing Tirunesh Dibaba holding the two Olympic gold medals she had won in track several years before. The billboard was faded and a little ragged but still a source of great pride to Ethiopians. The woman looked up and away from the lepers. To Bekele’s relief, they safely passed; the pitiful sight of the beggars hadn’t distracted her. “So you go to school?” She was looking at him skeptically but was smiling. That was a good sign. Bekele was 26 but he was small for his age and quite a bit shorter than the woman. He knew he looked older but he had heard it said that Westerners had a hard time distinguishing black people from one another. Maybe she couldn’t guess his age. “Yes, would you like to see my report card?”
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He withdrew a report card wrapped in plastic from inside his shirt and handed it to the woman. It had D’s in two of the ten subjects listed, but that was the best report card Bekele could afford. Anyone could purchase a report card on the streets of Addis but the cost depended on the number of subjects with top grades. Hundreds of other beggars in the city had the same document as Bekele because it was the least expensive. Bekele hoped she hadn’t seen one like this already. She scanned the card and handed it back to him. “Very nice,” she said. She didn’t sound impressed. Bekele waited for her to ask what he wanted to do after he graduated. All Westerners asked that question and he had a ready answer: be an engineer. He had tried out several professions and had found that engineering seemed the most believable to the tourists. Especially Americans. But she didn’t ask. They walked in silence. When they came to an intersection where five streets came together, the woman stopped, her eyes searching for some way to cross the tangle of autos. The endless procession of vehicles blasted horns and revved engines, each sprinting forward at the most unpredictable times into the smallest opening, each trying to gain a more favorable position in a jam that appeared unable to unravel itself. Bekele lightly touched the woman’s elbow. She didn’t recoil. “Thank you,” she smiled warmly once they were safely across. Bekele’s hopes rose at the change in her demeanor. He decided to make his play. “School starts in three weeks and I don’t have enough money for my uniform.” She didn’t respond. Perhaps she couldn’t hear him above the traffic noise. He raised his voice. “A school uniform costs only $50 and it will fit me for two years, maybe three. I’ve stopped growing.” “You want me to give you $50 for a school uniform?” She emphasized the word “me.” He knew that her questioning tone signaled trouble. “Yes,” he answered weakly. “No.” That was all she said. Simply no. Bekele had been turned down many times, but never had he been cut off so sharply. Usually, the game went on for a bit, the tourist at least letting Bekele believe for a little while that some money might be forthcoming. If they went on long enough, some tourists talked themselves into giving him something. And something was better than nothing. He was surprised by her brusqueness but undeterred.
“Then maybe you would like to buy school books for me. They’re only $20 and I’ll donate them to another student when I complete the class.” “No.” “If you want, we can go to the book store right now so you can see that I spend the money on books and not on something else.” Bekele knew that the book seller would buy the books back, at a discount of course. At least he would get some money for them. “No. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I don’t have any money with me.” She stopped walking and patted her pockets so that Bekele could see they were flat and empty. Some tourists acted sad and said they wished they could help. But not this woman. She abruptly started walking again and Bekele had to run a little to catch up. “I understand.” Bekele was conciliatory; he tried to keep the door open for further negotiations. “I’ll find a way to go to school because it’s my mother’s fondest wish that I become educated. I won’t disappoint her.” The woman stopped short. Bekele feared she was going to scold and send him away, but she didn’t. She was looking around and he could tell by the perplexed look on her face that she thought she was lost and maybe even that Bekele had intentionally led her astray. “Where are we?” she asked. “Don’t worry madam, I won’t get you lost. See St. George’s over there?” He pointed toward the large cathedral-like church. “We turn up that side street and you’ll be at your hotel.” The woman walked rapidly toward the church. Bekele followed. “I hope my mother lives long enough to see me get my diploma,” he said as he hurried along beside her. “She is very sick this time. The doctor thinks she won’t live.” “Mmmmmmmm,” the woman hummed. “She is in Bahir Dar, a long way from here.” He spoke sincerely. If he was convincing, she might go to her room and bring or send some money out to him. The woman hummed again. They were approaching the hotel and Bekele was desperate. “If I had the bus fare, I would go see her, tell her that I’m returning to school and make her happy. The bus fare is only $10.” The guard stepped out of the shelter, gave Bekele a warning look, and saluted the woman. She walked past the gate without looking back. Bekele retreated respectfully, watching her walk up the path lined with lush gardens, climb the hotel steps, and enter a world he
FLARE: The Flagler Review would never know. He waited on the bench for awhile in case she changed her mind and sent money out with a messenger. It had never happened for him but he heard that some had had that lucky experience. But when the tourist vans began returning to the hotel, Bekele knew it was hopeless. He waved to the guard at the gate and headed for the mercato where he might find something to take to his brothers, perhaps a carrot, some green peppers, or a potato or two. After the market closed, there was always some spilled rice for the taking and, if Mrs. Abate had something left at her stall and was feeling generous, she might give him a roll of injera. Tomorrow heâ€™d try the hotel again. He put his hand to his chest to make sure the report card was safely stowed inside his shirt. When he reached the mercato, the villagers were preparing for the return journey up the hill. Bekele walked to where Mrs. Abate tended her stall but she had already left for the day. Disappointed, he went to where the vegetables were sold, found a trash barrel, and began separating the contents, hoping to find something to bring home for dinner.
Oh that Conscience C. S. Fuqua
Today I am a small irritant or tiny pleasure at the back of someone’s mind. That thing I said, that thing I did -or didn’t do -has resurrected itself in the shadows to needle. It may elicit a chortle, a curse, or private smile and blush. Whatever it is, it’s there because of me, without net, without recourse, without conscience or second thought, acceptance or apology. I feel like a butterfly, flexing my wings without thought of consequence. Only, I have thought. Perhaps too late.
Virtual Environment Trailer Bruce Lader Military confirms synthetic hurricanes and tornadoes when Johnny comes marching home again
Exploded bodies swirl in storm clouds with roses they will strew the way
Clandestine meetings with cartel rainmakers get ready for the jubilee
Orgies with call girls at undersea resort the old church bell will peal with joy
Senator attends orgies the village lads and lassies say
Terrorists abduct independent journalist when Johnny comes marching home
Superheroes look into kidnapping the laurel wreath is ready now
Journalist tortured for hyperweather formula weâ€™ll give him a hearty welcome then
The last superhero uncovers terroristsâ€™ lair. weâ€™ll give the hero three times three, hurrah! hurrah!
Citizens rise up against abuses of power when Johnny comes marching home.
And You Don’t ComeAnnaBack Tatelman “Mom! The cat died – again.” Kaitlynn groans. “Aw, Zach, not again.” I shuffle my two children to the edge of the sidewalk, out of the paths of other walkers. “Hush. Death is uncontrollable, remember?” This is met with only another groan from my daughter. “Oh my God, when are you going to stop coddling him?” “Language, Kaitlynn!” “Jesus, Mom,” she snaps back. Her flat-ironed hair slaps against her cheeks as her head twists towards me. “It’s been three months since Boots died. Cats can’t come back to life. Nothing can. And the sooner he learns that – ” “Kaitlynn, please. Let’s have a pleasant family outing.” The right corner of her Pink Me Up lipsticked mouth twitches, no doubt barely suppressing a barrage of stinging comebacks. Masking my irritation, I turn to Zachary. His pudgy face looks up at me with a twitching mouth identical to his big sister’s. For a moment, I see the resemblance between them that people often miss, myself included. Except Zachary is not futilely trying to make himself look ten years older with my makeup and his mouth twitches from suppressed tears rather than insults. I kneel down on his eye-level. “Don’t cry, Zachary. Your mommy knows what to do, right?” Zachary’s head quivers up and down. “R-right.” “Right.” I glance over my shoulder “Now, where did it happen? We should move him before someone accidentally steps – ” “Mom!” Zachary moans. “Don’t you see?” I turn my head back to him and notice that his tiny arms are placed in what ballerinas call first position, rounded and held in front of his chest. “Oh! Yes, you’re holding Boots right now, aren’t you? I don’t know how I missed him. Your mommy is very silly sometimes, isn’t she?” “Very silly,” he agrees with intensely grave solemnity. Only a five-year-old can possess that tone of voice without being sarcastic. At what point do we lose the ability to be serious about the impossible? “Well, if we want to finish our walk before night comes, we’d better not waste any more time.”
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“Who ever heard of taking a cat for a walk anyway?” Kaitlynn mutters, apparently unable to hold her witticisms inside any longer. “Ready?” I ask Zachary, ignoring her. In answer, he thrusts forward the tiny arms encircling a large body of air. I rest my hands inside the ring of his limbs. “Don’t push so hard on Boots, Mom,” says Zachary, alarmed. “You’re going to crush him!” “Sweetheart, we’ve talked about this. I have to push hard to push my energy into him.” “But you’re pushing harder than usual.” Swallowing a sigh, I lift my hands slightly. I close my eyes, making a show of channeling all my energy through my fingertips. After counting seven seconds, I lower my arms and open my eyes. “All better,” I announce. Zachary stares at his orb of air. I watch as his eyes run the diameter of the circle twice, fixing upon a specific point of nothingness. They widen, seeing what I can’t but have explained in minute detail: the tremor that rockets along the spine, the beat of silent stillness, the one firm palpitation of the heart followed by a series of tiny beats in rapid succession. The reanimation of life. The rebirth of the cat that died three months ago. Zachary’s mouth breaks into a grin. “Boots!” His arms slam against his chest to embrace his reawakened cat. I ruffle his hair affectionately. “Be gentle, Zachary. Let’s not have Boots die again!” He loosens his grip but not his smile. “You’re right.” He bends over and reaches his hands towards the ground, then makes a series of looping motions with his fingers. People passing on the sidewalk stare in puzzlement. I’m not puzzled. I know that Zachary’s returned Boots to the ground and is now refastening the leash. Neither am I embarrassed, but it’s clear that Kaitlynn feels differently from the way she blows air noisily through puffed lips. I refuse to let her bother me. We all cope differently. Zachary straightens himself, one arm raised at a forty-five degree angle, his hand fisted around an invisible leash. “Ready to go?” I ask. He nods. So we set off again, Zachary in the lead with his arm outstretched, me next to him, Kaitlynn behind. Our little family of four taking a walk through our suburban town. It isn’t much of a town, but I’ve missed these walks. They used to be a family tradition, back when we still walked places instead of always driving, when Kai-
And You Don’t Come Back
tlynn didn’t loathe being in my presence, when we weren’t a collection of outsiders living under one roof. Back when we didn’t have to imagine that we had a cat. “I’m tired,” Zachary announces two minutes later. “God, at this rate, we’re not going to make it five blocks,” Kaitlynn grumbles. “Language!” I bark. To Zachary, I calmly ask, “How about we stop for a juice break?” In answer, Zachary breaks into a run towards the park. “So much for being tired,” Kaitlynn remarks snidely as she and I amble after him. I feel my anger expanding, tautening, stretching long and wide like a rubber band. I inhale, trying to keep control, refusing to let the band break. “Can’t you just enjoy yourself for once?” I ask her. The lipsticked mouth curls into a sneer. “And you suggest I do that how?” The rubber band snaps. My hand shoots out and seizes her shoulder, spinning her sideways to face me completely, forcing us both to a halt. “Kaitlynn, you’re a part of this family. I don’t care if you’re embarrassed by us – on these rare occasions that you’re actually with us – or annoyed by us, or would rather be anywhere else in the world than with us. But you are with us because you are part of this family. This family provides your food, gives you a place to sleep, pays for your computer and cellphone and ridiculous wardrobe. The least you could do is knock it off with the sneers when we decide to just go on a damn walk around town.” Kaitlynn stands paralyzed beneath my hand. I rarely confront her. Typically, it remains walled within me, carefully mined and smelted into smiles, laughs, an invisible cat that can make at least one child happy. It’s a relief that she can still be shocked by something. It’s a relief that this stranger I have for a daughter still feels emotions beyond joy at purchasing new shoes or irritation at her mother asking how her school day went. It’s a shame that this is the level I had to stoop to before I could see it. Anger retreating, guilt washing into its vacancy, I remove my hand from her shoulder, reaching my fingers towards her cheek. Then cowardice mingles with the guilt and my fingers drop to my side. “Come on,” I say, and continue walking. There is silence behind me. For a moment I fear she’ll run away, but then I hear her high-tops scuffing against the pavement, following.
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Swallowing a knot of anxiety, I weave my way through gleeful children to sit beside Zachary on a bench. The park is fairly crowded, shared by about fifty others. Clearly we aren’t the only family trying to enjoy the sun. Families eat their lunches, recline on picnic blankets, climb trees, toss Frisbees, all of them animated, together, talking and laughing and being alive. Zachary sits in the middle of the bench, legs not yet long enough for his feet to touch the ground. His face glows as his pudgy hands stroke a bubble of air three inches above his thighs: Boots rests in his lap. I swing my mini-backpack off my shoulders and onto my legs, unzipping it to grab a juice box. Zachary thanks me as I hand it to him. His fingers fumble as he tries to free the straw from its wrapper with one hand, his other curved around the air. “I’m sure Boots will stay put if you let go for a few seconds,” I say, knowing he would refuse if I offered to get the straw out for him. He and his sister may be as different as night and day, but just as the day and night share a sky, so Zachary and Kaitlynn share their blood, and it’s given them both the propensity to be inflexibly, impenetrably stubborn. He shakes his head as Kaitlynn sits down at the opposite end of the bench, apparently fascinated by her knees. I try to read her profile. I might as well try to read a book written in Swahili. “No. I can’t let go of Boots,” says Zachary, drawing my attention back to him. “When he comes back to life, he’s always got a lot of energy and likes running around. I can’t let him get hit by a car – ” “Here,” says Kaitlynn, her arm reaching out, fingers curling into the same position as her brother’s, their knuckles brushing. “Get your straw out. I’ll hold onto Boots.” Zachary’s eyes go round, plainly displaying the shock that I conceal. “Thanks.” He releases his hold on Boots’ collar and uses both hands to tear the straw from its wrapper and stick it into the juice box. This accomplished, his right hand resumes its position at Boots’ collar. I look up from him to Kaitlynn. No longer fascinated by her knees, she meets my eyes. “There’s another juice box in here,” I tell her. “I brought two.” Her mouth thins, the corners twitching again, fighting against the words her eyes scream: Jesus, Mom. Juice boxes are for kids. When I don’t receive any answer from her lips, I reach into the backpack, pull out the second juice box, and offer it to her. She takes it without a word. Her hands peel the straw from the back of the box, liberate it from the wrapper, and plunge it into the cardboard. Her mouth takes one tiny taste. Then she gulps greedily,
And You Don’t Come Back
swallow after swallow, both hands on the box, hoarding it against her chest like a starved squirrel. “Slow down,” I chide, “you’ll make yourself sick.” I wish I could suck the words back down my throat the instant I’ve said them. She is far from blameless for our tumultuous relationship, but it takes two to tango, and even with her mouth clamped shut to the straw of a juice box, I’m incapable of stopping my criticism. Can’t I ever let it be? To my surprise, Kaitlynn only takes one last swallow, then pulls the juice box away from her mouth. She looks at me again. I look at the straw, at the imprint of her Pink Me Up lipstick against the white plastic backdrop of childhood. A shout of terror and pain cuts through the calm air. It sounds too guttural for a child and too primal for an adult. Too crudely personal to be witnessing as an outsider, like witnessing someone else’s lovemaking. Too real. I snap my head around. It doesn’t take long to find the source of the noise. Some thirty feet away, a hooded figure aims a kick at a man scrambling through the grass. His boot catches the man’s ribcage. The man cries out again, writhing on the ground and further dirtying his smart suit. He cradles his arms over a fancy leather briefcase. The hooded figure clambers over him, pinning him down, tearing at his suit pockets. He pries at the man’s fingers for control of the briefcase, pausing at intervals to slap the man. My eyes fly through the park, darting over the families eating their lunches, reclining on picnic blankets, climbing trees, tossing Frisbees, all of them suspended, caught in a frozen time of panicked confusion. Kodak picture moments that never made the cut for commercials. “Someone should help him!” cries Zachary. Boots forgotten, he stands up on the bench without pausing to let the cat jump off or to tie his leash to the bench. “Honey, no, don’t look,” I say, tugging at his hand to pull him back down, but my eyes continue whipping across the park. Zachary is right. Someone should help. So why isn’t anyone? But soon one of these inanimate bodies will reanimate. They must. Pictures are forever, but reality always pulses forward. Kaitlynn springs to her feet. My heart leaps in alarm but, before I can even shout for her to do what she’s told for damn once and stay put, she resumes her seat. Her lips are quivering. “Someone will help,” she says, eyes glued to the men. “Someone will.”
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But no one is helping and the suited man is shouting again. His cries for help are a knife in the air, slashing and making us all wince, but spurring none to action. Zachary covers his ears. Kaitlynn and I sit, transfixed. I wonder if my eardrums might burst. I wonder how the police don’t hear the bedlam, how the whole world doesn’t hear. I wonder when it will be heard. As we watch the volume increases. Both of them are screaming now. The hooded figure screams words but the victim’s screams are made louder by rage and fear, so none of us can understand the mugger’s dialogue. The violence increases, the slaps become harder, the openpalms turning to fists, skin breaking, a simple mugging becoming something far more vicious than it first appeared. And still no one is helping, there are at least fifty others here, how can they care so little about another human being, how can they be so spineless and pathetic, why is no one helping – why am I not helping – why am I standing just as passive as everyone else, refusing to feel or act – “Mom?” Zachary croaks, voice wavering. “Mom – ” I push myself to my feet and swing the backpack onto my shoulders in one sharp movement. “We’re leaving.” “But Mom – ” I snatch his free hand and jerk him off the bench. I can’t hear his yelp of pain over the cacophony of the men. “Let’s go.” I stalk away, stopping when I realize Kaitlynn is still on the bench, eyes locked to the chaos, hands stuck to her juice box. “Kaitlynn!” She doesn’t react to my fury this time. “Mom – we’ve got to do something – ” “We’ve got to do nothing. Come on.” She jolts to her feet and spears me with her gaze. “We can’t just leave him there! We have to help, or find help, or – ” “There’s nothing we can do.” “There’s plenty!” Even five feet away my ears strain to distinguish her scream over the din. “Intervene, create a diversion, find a cop – ” She breaks off as though clenched by a sudden thought. Then her hand lunges for her pocket and seizes her fake-diamond-studded phone. Like a child scared of terrors in a nightmare I lurch forward – I am shrieking, “We’re leaving right now!” – wildly scrabbling at her hands – and the phone hits the ground, the screen cracking upon impact.
And You Don’t Come Back
Kaitlynn stands frozen for a moment. But when she lifts her chin, her eyes burn with hellfire. “Play whatever reincarnation games you like, Mom. But it doesn’t change the fact that things don’t just come back to life. This is life. Right now. This is all there is, and if we don’t – ” She goes mute as the screams cease and a silence falls over the park. A silence more sharp and brutal than the screams. The sound of Zachary’s knuckle popping prompts me to loosen my hold, even though my brain remains inert, even though reality no longer pulses forward. Even if this is my Kodak moment, forever. I march out of the park without once looking back at the two men, my son tripping along next to me, my daughter treading behind. We walk. Minutes pass. I don’t know how many. “Mom?” says Zachary very quietly three seconds or three eternities later. I look down. His arms are held before his chest in the shape of a ring again. Tears streak his cheeks like transparent streaks of blood. “The cat died,” he whispers. “Again.” I pull him to the edge of the sidewalk and kneel down. Kaitlynn comes to stand behind him without a word, her quivering mouth now rigid, her eyes singed red. Her juice box is clutched in both hands, her white straw stained Pink Me Up pink by her lipsticked mouth. “Mom?” says Zachary, the word no more than a broken breath. I push my hands through the halo of my son’s arms. I close my eyes for seven seconds, then open them. My hands fall to my sides. “All better,” I whisper.
Otha “Vaskeen”Davis III
As a creative mind, the arts have played a major role in my life from a young age. I grew up overweight, so I wasn’t always the most confident. I never really had a voice until I grew older. Sometimes you can’t find the words to express your innermost thoughts and feelings and art always served as that emotional release for me. Art and creativity tend to play the role of my therapist and help me maintain sanity in this crazy world.
The paint brush is my weapon of choice these days as I create mixed media paintings using acrylics or oil with water color. It’s never been my intention, but red, black and white always seem to be a common denominator in my pieces. I didn’t even realize this until a friend brought it to my attention. I’ve always loved the dramatic contrast and power that black and white images create. At the same time, red is so sensitive. Red is intense and one of those colors that automatically demands your attention. The combination of these three elements allow me to create so much depth and emotion so I guess I’m just naturally drawn to them. I’m invigorated by relationships, feelings and emotions. I’ve always felt they were God’s greatest creation, so my work tends to evolve around women and their natural allure. Women are very emotional beings so naturally they allow me to channel various energies through my work. I guess for a man I’ve always been rather in tune with my feelings and emotions, so I want to suck you into my world, even if it’s just for a brief moment. I want my work to captivate the viewer’s senses. Website: Vakseen.com
The cover artwork is titled “Dizzy.” It is a 24” x 18” acrylic painting. The full color versions of these pieces are available on our website: www.theflaglerreview.com
47 Davis III
“Audvantgardener” 24” x 18” Acrylic and watercolor
“Blemishes of Love 24” x 18” Oil and watercolor
49 Davis III
“Morning Glory” 24” x 18” Acrylic
Flight in Five Syllables Jesse Millner
It’s plain as the nose on your face that you must fish or cut bait or you’ll feel the seductive pinch of a bevy of beauties as they parade down Calle Ocho with their café con leche skin. They have a thousand moons swimming beneath their bodies’ pale dreams submerged in the shadow of a gleaming crucifix. They are Christian but they are not really followers of Cortez. Through the years their blood has merged with the indigenous ones who followed multiple gods through jungles of beautiful orchids that bloomed in the shade of gumbo-limbo. You have always loved the furtive gumbo-limbo, red-barked marker in a paradise of heron, and, of course, you worship the alligator, that sainted multi-toothed grunter whose hisses and barks are the music of cypress slough, but also the song of the tiny lake behind the Burger King near Dadeland Mall, where the locals sacrifice bits of cheeseburger to the prehistoric god of these black waters, in the same way the Maya cast virgins into cenotes, their bodies heavy with jade jewelry and the fear that comes to all of us when we are thrown into a deep darkness, like the black night that comes to a thousand backyards in Hialeah, or a thousand balconies overlooking the sea, or a thousand cardboard boxes
Flight in Five Syllables turned into beds beneath the empty condo towers of downtown. The real estate market has collapsed, the ocean is rising and Burmese pythons lurk at the edges of the Everglades. Itâ€™s clear you must flee the heat of those bodies that shimmered earlier in this poem. Head south to Tegucigalpa, that Honduran capital you memorized in eighth grade, whose five syllables have been singing in your head ever since. Tegucigalpa, much more beautiful a chorus than Guatemala City, or Managua, even sweeter than Asuncion, that city so much farther south, lingering at the edge of Patagonia where the gauchos still ride their fast horses and each night drink strong coffee beneath the Southern Cross.
Rationing Electricity in Honduras Benjamin Nash
The stars didn’t fall from the sky. An ogre opened his night mouth wide, ate the stars whole, swallowed them into a big black hole.
The stars didn’t fall from the sky. It’s blackout, no light, but the children burn bright, little stars that dream, scream when the lights flicker back on.
Dragging the Deer Matt Kelly
This was a time in my life before essays, deadlines, clubs, and social responsibilities — being fourteen ain’t half bad, looking back now. All there was left to do was drift off into mindlessness and sleep while the wood stove whispered softly in the next room. My pet piglet (classified as “pug” in the dog community) snorted lazily in the notch of my legs. It was a modern day Little House on the Prairie scene until the wretched shrill of the telephone beckoned my mother from out of the computer room. That ruined it all. Within the first fifteen seconds of the call, I heard my mom’s drawn-out sigh that I had become all too accustomed to hearing. Soon she was tearing this poor caller apart in a steady, passive-aggressive motion. It turned out to be my father, who was so filled with ecstasy that even the sharp lightning bolts that sprang from my mother’s tongue couldn’t burst his cloud nine. She slammed the device back onto the wall and made her way to my nest in the living room, her steps swift and agitated. I really hated that particular walk of hers. “Your father just shot another deer in the bottom of Richard’s gully,” my mother informed me. He’s always my “father” and not her “husband” when she’s upset with him. “He needs a big strong boy to help him drag it out.” I sprang into my bread-and-butter defense and turned my patented Sass-o-Meter™ up to “Obnoxiously High.” The -15° wind chill that particular night called for some extra spice to the special concoction of attitude I was serving her. First came the eye roll, followed by the exasperated sigh, joined soon by the whiny voice and finishing with an occasional slapping of nearby objects (if needed). It was a textbook move and I always thought it should have worked perfectly — it definitely worked in the movies — but my mother, surprisingly enough, never bought any shares of Sass-o-Meter™ stock. The theatrics were all in vain. My dad, elated from his latest triumph, returned to pick up his reluctant assistant. Not surprisingly, he wasn’t willing to be a witness to my sassy routine either. Fifteen minutes later, I was bundled up like the Michelin Man in my coat and snow pants. I gave my parents a shoulder that was as cold as the night itself and stomped out the back door. Stepping outside, I was slapped wickedly across the face by Mother Nature’s icy hand and I knew I was
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in for a long night. The sky had already turned to a bottomless navy blue that teetered on the edge of black, portraying an emptiness of life and warmth usually reserved for outer space. I looked out the truck window with a fresh pout on my face. The pristine snow had wrapped the earth beneath it; the country backroads served as its charcoal bow. My father, decked out in his old camouflage one-piece, was explaining to me how he shot his deer. “I spotted her head moving from about fifty yards away,” he said with his special storytelling voice — the one he uses when his eyes get bigger and practically light up the night. “So I start calling her in and she takes a few steps forward and stops...looks around...and then walks toward me again. And this went on for twenty minutes or so until she finally got close enough to me, but there was this tree limb sitting just in the way of the shot. So I make one last call, get her to move a few steps to the left. She raises her head slowly...and then... POP! Right as she turns her head toward me I get her in the top of the shoulder — can you believe it!?” He was pretending his right arm was his bow as he lined up his golden kill from memory. His left hand drove the truck mindlessly. I tried my best to keep up with him in conversation and act knowledgable. In a town as hokey as the one I grew up in, I should have been able to recite this story verbatim to my friends at school the next day and make them incredibly jealous. I should’ve soaked in every word like an eager sponge so I could follow his footsteps into the woods one day and claim my own trophy buck. But that just wasn’t me. Looking back, I guess it must have been that early morning hunting trip — the one where I searched in vain for a comfortable spot next to a tree and never noticed the turkey that was strutting carefree, about 20 yards away — when both my dad and I realized the outdoorsman gene had skipped a generation. Still, my father never held that against me. He hid his frustration every time I wanted to stay inside and play another game of Madden rather than go out with him to the woods. I’m sure he was a little disappointed — more so than he ever let on — but fortunately we learned to coexist. He has always let me be who I wanted to be and I’m grateful for that. There were so many parts about my father, from his salt-and-pepper mustache and matching ponytail to his homemade bows and arrows, that made him the “cool dad.” Even a self-conscious, moody teenager like me could never stay mad at him for very long. We finally pulled over next to a pale white expanse that doubled as a bean field in the summertime. My dad hopped out, hardly noticing the mind-numbing temperatures that greeted our arrival. I did my best to follow suit, but my scrawny frame was soon vibrating
Dragging the Deer
like my electronic toothbrush back home. I trudged through the snow a few steps behind the hunter, muttering every curse word in the book under my foggy breath. How could any animal be dumb enough to wander around on a night like tonight, let alone be shot? Just my rotten luck. I thought I was walking on cinderblocks at that point. Surely those rock hard appendages at the bottom of my legs were no longer “feet.” My old boots were no match for the rapid process of condensation and evaporation that had broached their flimsy plastic walls. After about twenty minutes of complaining my dad turned around and looked at my trembling body. “Matt...” he said after an exasperated sigh. He was controlling his frustration as best he could. “Why don’t you go on back and sit in the truck? Take your boots off, rub your feet, do what you gotta do. You can follow our footsteps back.” Relief hit me, but the feeling was short-lived. It’s really quite fascinating how quickly the extreme cold can be flushed away by a boiling, sweaty stream of shame. I’ll spare you the play-by-play of that long walk back to the truck. My eyes may have been filled with tears, but I’ll lie until the day I die and say they were simply stung from the bitter winds. The truck was certainly warmer, but the damage was already done. My body was a tool for the whims of Mother Nature, a guinea pig used for researching the effects of extreme temperatures on the human being. I could have sat in that truck until the end of time, but I knew I had to go back and finish the job. After a brief one-man pep talk, I gingerly slipped my boots back over my tenderized feet and popped open the passenger door. The frigid air was simply mocking me now, beckoning me to re-enter its unforgiving arena. I closed my eyes and tried to recall a Beach Boys surfing song for mental warmth as I began my slog back toward the gully. My father was waiting at the edge of the tree line for me. Surely, some part of him had to be absolutely freezing but I couldn’t tell. With my walk of shame complete, we started our descent down the face of the gully wall. It is a cruel irony to me how every step down a hill can be so fun, yet every matching step back up is a sobering reminder of the struggle of muscles fighting against gravity. After a span of fifteen minutes that felt more like fifteen days in cranky kid time, we arrived at the bottom of the great bowl. There on the ground was a tawny creature laid still and peacefully, a centerpiece placed gently on the table of frozen ground and trees that surrounded her. For all the deer that my dad had conquered over the years, this was the first one I had seen in the flesh — and I was struck by
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her blunt reality. This was not Bambi; she was three-dimensional. She had walked the same land that I had just walked. She had blinked and eaten and taken in oxygen just like I had. And now she lay motionless on the ground in front of me, lit only by the moon and my dad’s headlamp. Her body had already frozen to a point where she had clearly crossed over from organism to object. My emotions, already frail from a long, shivering night, were on the verge of bursting once again. My dad sliced open the underbelly of the great beast and revealed its entrails, oozing out in a sludgy river of maroon that soiled the fresh white snow. I was trying to keep my stomach in order when my father did something quite extraordinary. He uncovered his cracked carpenter fingers from the warmth of his mittens, clasped a pouch that hung around his neck and pulled out a silvery arrowhead that glimmered in the amber glow of his headlamp. Gently, he lowered the blade down into the pool of organs and rubbed it slowly back and forth, the way a mother rubs a child’s cut and instantly melts the pain away. I was transfixed on him as he closed his eyes and whispered what could only be described as an incantation. To my recollection, he could have been speaking in tongues the way his words danced in the still of the night. Only the night wasn’t so still now. The air particles were frenetic, swept up in a great spirit that arose from the deceased laying before me. I had never before believed in a higher being or an eternal ghost, but surely the figure my eyes displayed to me in that moment was nothing that I had ever seen — or will see again — on this planet. The notion of some spirit being present both everywhere and in one specific place at the same time never made sense to me. But that night in the woods, I understood there was something powerful kneeling beside my father, that beautiful animal and myself. What I have just described was a fleeting moment in the standard measure of time, but much like a dream it seemed to last much longer in my mind’s eye. When it had passed, the only words I could relay to my father were to ask him what he had just done. “It’s just a little ritual I do to pay my respects,” he said to me, matter-of-factly. “I do it whenever I shoot one with the longbow.” He said he had never told anyone about this tradition before, but I got the feeling he wouldn’t have cared whether anybody ever knew about it or not. I was stupefied for a while, motionless except for my shivering. My brain scrambled to comprehend. For the first time I was genuinely interested in my dad’s favorite hobby, and I’m sure — somewhere quietly inside of him — he could tell. I tugged at the lifeless doe alongside my old man as we strug-
Dragging the Deer gled joyfully for every inch back up the incline. The animal kept sliding back down the hill whenever we stopped, but we just laughed in between our gasps for air. After all, we had the whole night still in front of us.
Shadow Bond Scarlet Martin
Since life began the first rhythm of beat in my body, we have been sewn at the peripheral seams. My constant companion, a partner in the ephemeral merengue of life, ours is a sweeping drag of feet across floor, but we are not lovers. We are members of the same chain gang, victims of circumstance, shackled at the ankles, unable to circumvent dancing each other in circles as the sun changes direction, its crests and falls, rolling beneath those white caps in the sky that are fixed with their own dark counterparts. Even they, so far removed from the earth below cannot scrape the dark smudge from their heels, the anti-presence of light â€“ fleeting snapshot of existing.
Her Favorite Uncles John Davis, Jr.
As the only child of only children, she imagines her uncles: men who smoke pipes, grow beards, call her â€œsugarâ€? at Sunday dinner, and who always, always remember her birthday with ponies and dollhouses, the things that her sole parents would never think to do. These uncles, who she assigns all J names: Jack, Joe, John, James, carry hard candies in their pockets, slip off to the yard to pick kumquats after lunch, and flash their pocket watches to see if their time is up quite yet as her pink and purple room grows up, and makes pale ghosts of what once were colorful figments.
A Single Murky Sensation William Doreski You don’t find me funny anymore, my humours clotted in my chest. You think I’ve sold my ego to women shaped like cellos, leaving you hardly a residue, a stain on the unswept floor. The boiler snorts and coughs up soot. We’ll store books we no longer love and the snow blower and lawn mower that are forever out of season now that winter and summer have merged in a single murky sensation.
You’ve got to surrender this fear that shivers you like porcelain, spiderwebbing your tiny smile. Those abstractions festered and burst when you weren’t looking. Notice the stink of decay, slur of runoff? This space hidden behind our bedroom opens possibilities twice as great as the rest of our house did. So what if I’ve sold my ego? So what if a silence prevails in the concert hall of the soul?
How Tall You Will Stand in the First Night
I. When I was seven, my father took me to see my first game. When I was nine, he cleaned the sand out of my bloody knee and told me, “Just because Pete Rose slides that way, doesn’t mean everyone should.” When I was fifteen, I hit a stand up double in the top of the ninth, and as my legs fired like pistons against the sand and clay of the infield, I could hear him screaming for me in the stands. When I was twentyfour, I took him to a Giants game in the city, and I bought my old man an eight dollar pint of Budweiser and a hot dog smothered in onions. Now, at thirty-one, in the first night, I must start somewhere. Unable to locate the beginning, I simply start by walking away from the end. II. We measure him in hours when he comes home, but his room filled with boxes and freshly assembled furniture is empty. A bassinet is still in its packaging, unopened. The receipt neatly taped to the top of it. The onesies still tagged with barcodes, are arranged neatly in stacks according to the department stores they came from. “They might not fit,” I had told Ashley. The potential of her belly was ill-defined then – I was still able to imagine taking things back. In the doorway now, I make myself as hollow as the room and ask myself questions as if I was someone else. What have you done? What could you have done? I reach down to pet the dog. Slide my fingers under his collar and rub his shoulders. Feel the muscles that run along his spine. Pull his gums back and feel his wet teeth. Tell him he is smart. Say it in a way that suggests it’s something I’ve discovered in his mouth. III. When a car turns in the street, casting its headlights into the room for a second, I remember suddenly that nothing outside has stopped
FLARE: The Flagler Review moving. The sound of tires on loose gravel whispers through the window panes. It makes me think of our seats at AT&T Park near the end of the third base line. The constant low rumble of the stadium broke into a unified chant for a full count in the eighth inning. “SchmidtEEE, Schmidt-EEE, Schmidt-EEE.” When Jason Schmidt caught him looking for a fifteenth K, I stood up and applauded next to my father, whose voice was lost in the crowd. The side had been retired, but I stayed on my feet. I looked up toward the foul pole – dead and yellow and stretching upward like a rope pulled tight – then down at my father, seated. He looked up at me from under an orange cap. I had been trying to say it for hours, but my tongue was heavy with hesitation and fear. “Ash is pregnant,” I finally blurted. IV.
When she calls me to bed, my voice climbs my throat and gets stuck in my teeth. A silent breath slides out into the dark house and, unable to speak, I walk to the bedroom. The dog follows, because that is what he does. The dog with all of his canine intuition is oblivious to the worst parts of me. He loves me and does not care what I have done or not done. Sitting on the edge of the mattress, I reach out to touch Ash’s shoulder. I was sitting next to her five months ago when the Frosted Flakes commercial came on. The one with the father showing his son how to field the soft, rolling grounders coming off of the cartoon tiger’s bat. When I was twelve, I came home from practice with a black eye. I had to knock the ball down. “I kept it in front of me,” I had said. I thought of the purple bruise during the commercial “This is the best part,” the boy on TV said, while he sat with his father over two bowls of cereal. I imagined wanting a boy. A son. It was as close as I ever came. I keep my hand on Ashley’s shoulder until it feels warm. I stand up. Keep moving. V. Before I leave the room, she asks if I’m okay. For the fourth time in my life, I lie to her. I count the lies in my head the way I once counted the players in front of me in the batting order. One: When she guessed her Christmas present in late November. Two: After an argument that is a deep rut in my memory. I fall into it thinking of it too often and cannot seem to climb out. Three: Several months later, when I said I could imagine picking up the pieces and moving on if she ever left. Now my voice finally unglues itself and falls out into the silent, dark bedroom. “Had too much coffee in the afternoon. Still wired,” I say.
How Tall You Will Stand in the First Night She will translate on her own. I could have told her I don’t know. She doesn’t know either. VI.
VIII. When I continue to walk through the house like I am lost in it, the dog does not lose interest. It follows me. It wants food even though I have already fed it. It wants a treat even though it has not done anything to earn one. In the hallway now, I place my hand flat on the tall doorframe of the extra bedroom. I want to go in, but I feel something I have not felt before. At the base of the throat. Behind my ribs. At the back of the knees. A line I cannot cross. I press the ultrasound against the doorframe, hoping to push the line.
I tell myself it is okay to repeat the name in my head. To try and make it real. To pretend that putting the ultrasound down will allow me to forget about it. Setting it down, like drinking, like lying down in the bed, like telling the truth, is not something I will do. Not yet. This is still the beginning. A few weeks after I turned thirty, four months ago, my father sent me a tiny orange cap in the mail. In the card, he had written simply, “for the smallest giant.”
The top and bottom edges of the paper curl up off the flat surface of the dresser. I pick it up. It weighs nothing. The width of a fist. The paper is a thin glossy plastic, trimmed evenly and carefully. Around the edges of the black and white image there is the popcorn static I remember from my childhood as the space between television channels. When I carry the picture out of the bedroom, the dog follows, noticeable only by the soft click of his nails on the hardwood floor. In the kitchen now, under the glow of the light above the sink, I trace the shape of the body with my fingertips. When I was nine, I drew baseball stadiums. One batter. One pitcher. One catcher. The ball in flight toward the plate. I filled the rest of the poster-sized white cardstock paper with the circle shapes of heads. Kneeling on the hardwood floor with a black crayon, giving all of them eyes and a mouth. Giving one of them an orange cap. My father. Candlestick Park could hold sixty-two thousand people. I am afraid of holding one.
FLARE: The Flagler Review IX. The small paper is still in my hand. I look down at the dog who watches my every move. Watch how he bends his neck toward my hand when I reach down to pet him. How he tilts his head and waits when I stop. How mysterious I must be to him, like a God. When I was eleven, my father threw a baseball high into the sky above the back yard. I stood under it with my glove open and watched it, still climbing. There was a moment when I wondered whether or not it would come back down. How tall the world seemed at that moment. I wonder again in the first night about whether or not fatherhood is stronger than gravity. My head tilted back toward the ceiling. The baseball growing smaller and smaller. X.
I go outside. Close and lock the door behind me. Leave the dog inside. Find my cigarettes buried in the inside pocket of a heavy winter coat. It is okay to repeat the name in my head. Still unable to locate the beginning, I remember the unstoppable momentum of everything. I imagined wanting a son. One night her uncomfortable sleepless shifting woke me, and unable to sleep, I followed an awful train of thought. I imagined the white bed linens streaked pink with blood. A doctor inducing labor after the prolonged silence of the heart rate monitor and the motionless ultrasound. The contractions. The blood and water. The blue body. Ashley’s belly. The extra bedroom. Hollow. No names. Relieved, I fell back into a heavy slumber. Under the night, I watch that moment now, falling away from me. XI. In the third inning, Moises Alou hit a deep fly ball that sailed along the third base line. “Stay fair,” I yelled. “Stay fair,” my father yelled. His eight-dollar beer came dangerously close to spilling as he tried to will the ball into fair territory. It bounced into the second balcony left of the foul pole. Wanting was not enough. The crowd groaned and Alou tapped his bat on the soft infield clay before stepping back into the box. XII. It comes down to the weight of things. The guilt of a simple daydream. Of wanting. My son asleep in the house.
How Tall You Will Stand in the First Night XIII. I let the night fall into my chest. Shiver in the cold with your neck cocked like a pistol hammer. I remember when she told me. I remember when I told him. I smoke a cigarette outside on the curb, and I do not feel guilty about dying any sooner, or turning my teeth yellow, or any of the reasons I know I shouldnâ€™t smoke. When I was sixteen I left the house in the middle of the night and drove to the fields where I once played little league. I climbed the bleachers where my father sat and looked down on the empty, darkened diamond. Just because Pete Rose slides that way, doesnâ€™t mean everyone should. I must have smoked four or five in a row that night, making myself sick. I tried to imagine feeling tall then. I try to imagine it now, sitting under a row of palm trees that stretch upward straight and motionless like steel rods. It is okay to list the names in your head. To give them eyes and a mouth. What have I done? I kept the ball in front of me.
Poem Composed Entirely with Last Lines from Margaret Gibson Poems James Valvis Whatâ€™s a body for? Raising the dust. Our hands will be smoke-watch it rise from common stones, a sunrise at evening.
My mouth, my tongue, faintly garlic, so recklessly arising. You breathe, and also your body broods, and breathes, and glows, the garden grows into our bones. Watch it rise. Grief and hungers held to a bound womanâ€™s nipple, koan of seeds and stars, who rises standing still? **
A Night Much Like ThisPattyOne Somlo I tried to get a glimpse of the creek but the bridge was too dark. Lights on the left led up to a farm. This time of year the creek would have been a solid sheet of ice. “Looks like we’re getting into town,” the driver said, breaking my thoughts. Snow blanketed the lawns. I gazed at the old wood-shingled houses, mostly white, with forest green or pale blue painted shutters. “Must feel good to be back,” the driver offered. “Yes,” I agreed, not sure at that moment what I really thought. The driver slowed down and I looked up. “You said one twenty-three?” he asked. “I’m sorry?” “The address. One twenty-three?” “Yes. Oh, yes.” White, with those same gray-blue shutters. There it was. “Looks like a pretty old place,” the driver said and stopped the car. “Built in the early 1800s.” “Must be worth something.” “Maybe,” I said. I didn’t want to talk about the house. “Twenty-five, you said?” “Twenty-five even.” * * * * I held onto the side of the car, but I still sunk down. The driver plodded to the back and opened the trunk. At least a foot of snow appeared to be piled up on the ground. “Hope you have a snow shovel inside,” the driver said and smiled. How crazy, I thought, to have come back. And all the rest of them – mother, father, Vivian, and Marianne – were gone. “I think I’ll try and make my way up to the door,” I said to the driver. “Why don’t you hand me those bags?” I held my arms out. “Let me carry them up,” he pleaded. “It’s my job.” We stood on the covered front porch after the driver dropped my bags in front of the door.
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“I’ll wait until you’re inside,” he said. I didn’t like him hanging around. The key stuck, so I turned it upside down and worried, of course, that it might not be the right one for this door. It wouldn’t budge. I flipped the key around, using my left hand to keep the right steady in the dark and jiggled some more. Third time was the charm. I tapped for the light switch as I stepped in the door, felt two raised spots and pressed the highest one. Soft yellow light flooded the foyer. “Looks like I’m in,” I said, pulling the bags from the driver’s hands. I slid my right foot over to shut the door. “Guess you are. I’ll be saying good night then,” the driver added and turned around. I quickly closed and double-locked the door. * * * * The night had been much like this one. Cold, with at least a foot of snow on the ground. I’d turn seventeen that year, but hadn’t started marking the days off. The lake behind our house had frozen solid two months before. At the beginning of December, someone had set a Christmas tree out in the center and around it had strung a set of lights. The lights were gone, the green tree branches thinned and brown. A layer of ice and snow made the branches shine. We’d started skating that afternoon under a gray-white sky. My two closest friends, Sally Winn and Carla Sheehan, and I liked to pretend that we were training for the Olympics. Before the sky turned completely dark, a car drove up next to the lake and parked. I looked up. It was Tommy D’Napoli, a tough guy who’d done a year in juvenile hall. He turned off the engine and flicked the headlights on. Sally tapped me on the arm. “Maybe we should go,” she said. I wanted to skate more. Sally pulled me by the sleeve of my coat. “Just a few minutes more,” I said, but she wanted to go. As Sally and Carla looked at me from the shore right before she turned to go home, I shouted, “I’ll be fine.” The beams from Tommy’s car sliced a diagonal line across the ice. My right leg bent, I turned inches above the scratched white surface. My left leg was extended straight out. Curling in, my arms pressed tight, I straightened up, raised
A Night Much Like This One
my arms and moved into the final spin. At that moment, I let go, dancing through a swirling vortex of speed and perfect control. Slowly, I unwound. I dug my blade into the ice to stop. The lake went dark. I called out for Sally and Carla, knowing they were gone. I nervously chipped my blade against the ice. Fingers and a thumb drilled into my cheeks on either side before the hand smothered my mouth. Another hand squeezed my throat. When I tried to scream, a hoarse whisper managed its way out. His hand covered my nose and mouth. He hauled me across the ice, then dragged me up on the shore. When he twisted my arms, pain shot up into my shoulders. The car smelled of old leather and sweat. He slammed his body on top of mine. I gasped for breath. * * * * “You’re home,” my mother said, not turning away from the TV. Her words were blurred and soft, letting me know she’d drunk nearly enough Scotch to pass out. “Yes,” I said. She had the TV in the back room turned up way too high. I stumbled down the hall, listening to the canned audience laughter. “You turn the living room light off?” my mother shouted, trying to make her voice heard over the sitcom. “Yes,” I said, before climbing the stairs to my room. By that time, my father was gone. No one knew where he’d run off to, but my sisters and I figured he wasn’t coming back. My mother spent her nights in the dark den, drinking and talking to invisible ghosts. My oldest sister, Vivian, was married with a kid and living across town. She checked up on Mom from time to time to make sure she hadn’t died. My other sister, Marianne, had given her baby up for adoption without knowing if it was a girl or a boy. We never mentioned that at all. I began to count the days even before the spring thaw. Every morning I’d run a black magic marker through the date, in one direction and then back across the other. I marked the days until August, when I walked out the door for good. * * * * I found the thermostat on the far living room wall. After sliding the thin plastic bar up to sixty-five, I heard a low, hopeful hum. Moments later, the fan came on. I dropped onto the couch and closed my eyes. I could see it now: the lamp next to the couch, the only light
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in the room that night. I never told a soul. Not then, or at any other time. Slowly, I got up and moved through the living room to the long narrow dining room and on into the kitchen, which was all granite and stainless steel now. I went into the bathroom at the end of the hall. With its bright, white porcelain pedestal sink and smooth, white, clawfoot tub, it looked like a photograph in a glossy home decorating magazine. In the bathroom, I remembered how the lights used to let out a sad yellow glow that caused shadows to form along the walls. Everything was shabby and worn, the tub chipped and gray in places, with red-brown rust around the drain and faucets. The plaster walls were cracked, the off-white paint peeling and dull. Looking around, it was as if the old place and all its sorrows had been buried under this new, clean, cheerful house. I turned the lights off in the kitchen and walked over to the back door. Small white lights glowed on the lake’s other shore. The lake was completely dark, just as it had been that night. * * * * Sunlight filtered through the lace curtain when I opened my eyes. The small round alarm clock told me it was nearly ten o’clock. The oak floorboards gave off a warm glow. I slid my feet into a pair of black slippers and shuffled to the bathroom down the hall. After I brushed my teeth and rinsed my mouth, I studied my face, the lines around my eyes and mouth and down the length of my neck that have now become permanent fixtures. I slid some dark mauve lipstick across my mouth. Sidewalks in front of the old houses had been shoveled. A thin layer of ice sparkled in the sun. The houses became larger and more elegant as I got closer to downtown. When I was young, I loved strolling past these houses on my way to the library at the end of the block. There was something so certain and steady about the white colonials fronted by manicured green lawns. Mountlake’s doctors and lawyers, the mayor, the owner of the biggest car dealership, and even the funeral parlor director lived on these blocks. * * * * “Remember that guy, Tommy D’Napoli?” It was my sister Vivian on the phone, a few months before she died and left me this house. “He lived in Marlton but he always hung around Mountlake. Married Sherry Wade. Remember Sherry? She does my hair.” I hadn’t thought about Tommy in a long time. “What about him?”
A Night Much Like This One
“He bought the old Mountlake Hotel downtown. Fixed it up. Turned the first floor into an Italian restaurant and a bar. He cooks and Sherry waits tables. I go there with the girls from work sometimes on Friday nights. They have a TGIF special.” I remembered that conversation now as I got closer to the main commercial strip downtown. The air smelled of wood smoke, sweet and sour at the same time. Large trees, the branches bare, rose up at the edges of brown lawns. I remembered how in the Fall, red and yellow leaves drifted down to the ground. On Saturday afternoons when I walked down these blocks, the leaves would be raked into mounds along the curb and set on fire. The trees stopped as soon as I reached downtown. On the first corner, I saw the Mountlake Hotel. OPEN FOR BREAKFAST, the sign on the sidewalk out front announced. “What the hell,” I muttered. Having never married, I had picked up the habit of talking to myself at times. I walked up to the door, carved out of dark wood, pulled the brass handle, and stepped inside. After the bright sunlight, I was momentarily blind. The place smelled of stale beer and garlic. Coffee is most likely weak, I thought, and I wondered if Mountlake had a café that served decent cappucinos by now. “Sit anywhere.” I heard the woman’s voice before a single person or object became light enough for me to make out. The room gradually emerged from the darkness. Tables, some small and square with two chairs on each side and others rectangular and large enough for six, sat in the center. Booths lined the walls. All of the tables were covered with red and white checked cloths and round red glass candles. I walked across the room and took a seat in one of the booths a distance from the door. A Dean Martin song I recalled my father liking came out of speakers set some place above. “Coffee?” The waitress had dyed red hair and long lines that curved around her mouth. She held the glass coffee pot in her right hand and leaned over the table. “Yes, please,” I said, already knowing that I’d find the coffee weak and bitter. She set the plastic menu down in front of me and proceeded to fill the white porcelain cup up all the way. Then she pulled a handful of small creamers out of her black apron pocket and set those on the
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table next to my cup. “Breakfast is on the last page,” she said, flipping the menu over with her free hand. They served the usual fare. Bacon and eggs. Hash browns. Pancakes. I wanted a bowl of granola and fresh fruit but I scanned the menu and there was nothing of the sort to be found. “I’ll have the pancakes,” I said when the waitress returned. She waited, her pen poised over the little pad. I took that extra moment to scrutinize her face. Had I ever known her? “Did you want some meat with that?” “No,” I said, looking back down at the menu for no reason at all. “Just the pancakes.” I took a sip of coffee, which was stronger than I’d expected but still bitter. No other people were in the room. Could the man who raped me so many years ago be in the kitchen, making my breakfast? * * * * I never saw Tommy D’Napoli after that night. The rest of the winter, when I wasn’t at school, I spent most of my time indoors. On Saturdays, after cleaning up my room, I turned on the black and white portable TV and wasted the afternoon watching old movies. The waitress set a small pitcher of syrup in a saucer down and a stack of pancakes after. “Can I get you anything else?” I hesitated, wondering if I should ask. “No. I think I’m all set.” She stood next to the table, as if waiting for me to say what I really wanted. “More coffee?” the waitress finally asked, holding the pot poised over the table. “Yes, please.” I was surprised that I had swallowed a whole cup of bad coffee and wanted more. “You visiting?” she asked as the coffee glided into the cup. I paused, considering whether to lie or not. “No,” I said. “I’m living here now.” I lifted my head, letting her get a good look at me. She nodded and pulled another handful of creamers out of her apron pocket and set them down on the table. “We’re getting a lot of people moving here from Philadelphia and New York,” she said. “They like the old houses. Price is right, I suppose.” * * * * It took another month for the snow to melt, and by February,
A Night Much Like This One
the lake began to thaw. A stretch of days came along when it seemed as if spring had arrived. Those mornings, I drank my coffee on the back porch. Sometimes I sat there, my gaze fixed on nothing at all. We had another cold snap that stretched from late February into the third week of March. Then, suddenly, the world came back to life. You could smell it even with the windows shut. The air had a sweetness that hadn’t been there before. Miniature buds began to smother bare branches. Chartreuse sprouts of grass started shooting up. Something was sprouting in me as well. I couldn’t say what just yet. When it warmed up in May, I began taking longer walks. I most enjoyed walking past the grand old houses lining Main Street, with their white columns and brick facades, and sweeping, perfect lawns. It wasn’t until June that I finally took the plunge. The walk lasted all of twenty minutes. At first, weeping willow trees blocked my sight. But then, when I made it to the far side, the trees opened up, giving me a glimpse of the water. Ducks paddled in a slow glide on the surface of the water, trailing v-shaped lines. Other than that, the water was calm, reflecting clouds, as if they were skimming across the top. I noticed a wooden bench painted forest green, where the car had been parked that night. I walked over to the bench and sat down. The ducks glided past along with the slow-moving clouds. The tightness in my stomach eased up. Water in the lake wavered through my clouded vision and so did the opposite shore. I pulled a wad of Kleenex from my bag and blew my nose. What will happen, I asked myself, if I finally let this huge old sorrow go? I wiped the tears from my cheeks and blew my nose. My vision cleared. The water, having soaked up so much blue from the sky, appeared to shimmer under the late-afternoon sun. A thin layer, I knew, would freeze up in mid-November for the first time. The big freeze would follow soon after. That’s when young girls would tentatively move out onto the frozen lake, testing the ice and their skills on the narrowest of blades. Some would fall down. Others would soar through the air and make perfect landings on the ice. One of those girls might even make it all the way to the Olympics.
Daydream Valentina Cano
A husband made of air. Thatâ€™s what she wants. As careless as the wind that ruffles the toothy orchid in the backyard. She wants a husband who will not rattle panes at words or thoughts that carry chains around their feet. She wants one who will spin sighs into a tablecloth just wide enough for their war-scarred table. She wants a puff of nothing. A man of clouds.
The Birth of Knowledge
As the wall cracked, I hatched into your paint and dilated pupils. Then flowed into your world -the world I’d witnessed through a horse’s eye It’s dark here like screams from the other side but filled with ignorance. When you invent red, the screams will dissolve like afterbirth in your teeth.
there she goes again reaching for her lipstick, comb with such disrespect i’m gonna nail this kid i watch her and wait until the time to pounce
just before the bell make-up kit placed on the desk with studied scorn – the defiance of breaking the rules – working on lips and hair right in front of the class sarcastically
i say / she hears
“It’s not getting any better.”
No Fairer Fowl Jacob M. Appel
4 Female, 1 Male
JADE, a transportation security screener (20s) MS. STONE, screening supervisor on the graveyard shift (30s-40s) MALCOM PERDIX, an aspiring ornithologist (20s) ROMEO, a male partridge (22 months)* MILENA, a female partridge (19 months)* *Please note that one partridge month is roughly equivalent of one human year.
SETTING The play takes place at a mid-sized airport in a mid-sized city of the American heartland—possibly Springfield, Illinois, or Davenport, Iowa, or South Bend, Indiana—although the community’s name is never mentioned. Much of the set must be imagined by the audience: a rundown terminal whose banks of attached chairs and freestanding ashtrays have greeted business travelers since the Eisenhower administration; a coffee shop where a Pakistani couple serves up fried eggs on butter-soaked toast; sparsely-staffed service counters for commuter airlines and discount car rental firms. The only element of set that the audience need not imagine is the rectangular gantry of the passenger screening station, which stands stage-center, like a gallows. It is late evening. One departing flight remains posted on the Departures Board. [At opening: Ms. Stone is punching numbers into a calculator. Jade paces around the rectangular gantry, obviously bored. Jade walks through the gantry toward the audience and the alarm sounds briefly.] JADE: Can I ask you a religious question, Ms. Stone? MS. STONE (Calculating, not looking up.): Four-thousand two hundred sixty eight….plus fifty-two times seven….
FLARE: The Flagler Review JADE: You know how, in The Bible, Jesus is always making food? Water into wine, and stones into bread, and all that…. MS. STONE: ….Minus fifty-two times two…. JADE: I remember we used to go to church when I was a kid…and I’d get so hungry, my stomach would growl…. MS. STONE: .…Carry the eight…. JADE: What I’m trying to remember is, did he turn loaves into fishes or fishes into loaves? Ms. Stone? MS. STONE: Please. I’m counting…. JADE: If I wrote The Bible, I’d update that part….I’d add in vending machines, so the people could choose what they wanted to eat on their own…. MS. STONE: Darn. My battery is dead.
JADE: What are you counting? MS. STONE: Days until retirement….You don’t have a double-A battery, do you? JADE: I’m having dinner with my boyfriend’s parents tomorrow, and his mother is training to be a minister, so she’s always asking me questions about how many apostles there are, and how many gospels there are, and how many commandments there are…. MS. STONE: Too many, if you ask me…..I’ll be back in a minute. And please remember, Jade, keep things straightforward and professional. No small talk. [Ms. Stone exists. A moment later, Malcolm enters. He is wheeling a very large bag.] JADE: Boarding pass and identification? [Malcolm presents his documents; Jade scans them indifferently.] JADE: Thank you, Mr. Perdix. Traveling to New York City and then
No Fairer Fowl onward to Tbilisi, Georgia….Are you from Georgia?
JADE: What on earth is that? MALCOLM: He’s a partridge. JADE: A what? MALCOLM: A partridge. A male ferruginous partridge, to be precise…. JADE: You can’t be serious?
MALCOLM: No, ma’am. JADE: I have cousins in Georgia. But they’re from Savannah….I don’t suppose you would know them…. MALCOLM: I doubt it, ma’am. JADE: Oh, well. They’re very friendly—four sisters—and all four of them are grade school teachers….But they don’t teach in the same school. I always thought that was too bad, because if they did, the students could have one of them each year for four consecutive years…..Can I ask you a religious question? MALCOLM: Excuse me? JADE: Do you happen to remember if Jesus turned loaves into fishes or fishes into loaves…. MALCOLM: I’m honestly not sure. I’m in graduate school for ornithology, so I don’t recall much about anything but birds these days….. Now if Jesus had turned snowfinches into sapsuckers, or ostriches into owls, that I’d remember. JADE: Because both are food, you see, and some people prefer bread, and others prefer fish, so it seems it would have made more sense to leave the loaves as loaves and the fishes as fishes— (Suddenly catching herself.) No small talk. I apologize….If you’d kindly open your bag…. [Malcolm unzips his bag. Romeo pokes out his head.]
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MALCOLM: I’m very serious. Like in the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”…. “A partridge in a pear tree,”….only this one is not in a pear tree, obviously, he’s in an overnight bag….. His name is Romeo, by the way….Say hello, Romeo…. ROMEO: Hello…..I’m hungry. [When Romeo speaks, all that Jade and Ms. Stone ever hear is the squawking of a partridge.] MALCOLM (To Romeo): They’re inspecting our luggage…..When we get on board, I’ll unwrap some fresh lichens for you…. JADE: I’m sorry, sir….You can’t take it—him—your partridge onto the aircraft. MALCOLM: But I must. JADE: Sorry. Cats and dogs only. MALCOLM: You’re telling me that you have a rule against partridges. JADE: It’s not my rule, you understand. It’s the airline’s rule. MALCOLM: May I see it? JADE: See what? MALCOLM: The rule. May I see where it specifically states that partridges are not permitted to fly? JADE: The rule says cats and dogs only. MALCOLM: So it doesn’t mention ferruginous partridges? ROMEO: I’m famished….When is supper? MALCOLM (To Romeo): I promise we’ll eat the minute we’re on board….I have a whole cup of lichens for you…. ROMEO: And snails? I need protein for enhanced virility…. MALCOLM (Reluctantly): Yes, and snails….
No Fairer Fowl
JADE: And you can’t leave your partridge at home? MALCOLM: Leave Romeo at home? You’re not following me, ma’am….Romeo is the one in love….I’m just the chaperone. JADE: Your partridge is going on a booty call? MALCOLM: He’s in love. I am taking my partridge to marry the fairest fowl in the world. JADE: This is a practical joke, isn’t it….? Where are the hidden cameras? MALCOLM: No joke, ma’am. I made a profile for him on Facebook last year, and there aren’t very many partridges on Facebook, so he and Milena found each other rather quickly….No two partridges have ever loved each other as much…. JADE: You’re for real?
JADE: Good God can that creature squawk! MALCOLM: He’s asking for his supper. You’ll have to let us board. JADE: Can’t do that. Impossible. Not going to happen. MALCOLM: But you yourself just admitted that there’s no specific rule against partridges. JADE: You’ll have to wait for Ms. Stone. MALCOLM: I’m afraid you don’t understand….This is a matter of love. JADE: Love? MALCOLM: We’re going to Georgia to meet….a member of the fairer sex…. JADE: So basically, you’re on a long-distance booty call? MALCOLM: I wouldn’t phrase it exactly that way….We have embarked on a romantic journey….
FLARE: The Flagler Review MALCOLM: They talk every day over Skype….He writes her poetry, love songs….
JADE: You’re really going to have to speak with Ms. Stone…. [Ms. Stone enters. She eyes Romeo warily.] MS. STONE: What’s with the pheasant in the bag? MALCOLM: It’s a partridge. MS. STONE: It’s contraband, that’s what it is. JADE: Mr. Perdix was just explaining to me that his partridge is traveling to Georgia to marry a female partridge that he met on Facebook, and I tried to explain to him that the rule is cats and dogs only, but he keeps insisting…. MS. STONE: No birds. Those are the rules. MALCOLM: But surely an exception can be made….They are in love, you understand. MS. STONE: In love? Now that takes the cake. MALCOLM: You don’t believe me? Are you questioning the sincerity of Romeo’s devotion? MS. STONE: He’s got a brain the size of a walnut. How is he supposed to love anyone? [Romeo steps out of the overnight bag.] ROMEO: How am I to love, you ask? I am a mere partridge, you say, how can I know about the pangs and torments of longing and affection? I have a brain the size of a walnut, you say, so what can I know of desire and pain and romance? ....And, let’s face it, you have a point! I have asked myself these things, many times, but when I first saw Milena’s photograph—the aristocratic arch of her beak, the luminous green coverts on her wings, tail feathers to spark envy in the loveliest of peahens—then I understood that even a humble partridge is entitled to some happiness….
No Fairer Fowl (Enter Milena. She is stunning, as partridges go. She displays herself for the audience, fashioning several alluring poses, possibly even offering a dance or a striptease—in short, doing whatever a partridge might do to attract another partridge. While she flaunts her beauty, Romeo pays tribute to her.) ROMEO: Has the world ever seen a fowl so fair? Are those not plumes that might launch a thousand ships? And she has chosen me, from among all the game birds on the Internet, who is hardly fit to peck at the webbings of her feet…..Is such a miracle alone not evidence that the world is ruled by a divine plan—that there is a giant partridge looking over after us from above….? [Milena waves farewell and exits.]
ROMEO: I swore to myself, that day, that I would not rest until Milena and I shared the same nest, even if I had to fly to Tblisi on my own two wings….. [Romeo darts through the gantry and the alarm sounds briefly. Jade attempts to catch him, but he eludes her, and then he darts back through the gantry again; the alarm sounds once more.] JADE: I think you’ve upset him. MS. STONE: I upset him! He’s lucky I don’t confiscate him and lock him away with the switchblades and the cigarette lighters and the box-cutters…. MALCOLM: Please be reasonable….We’re going to miss our flight. MS. STONE: That’s not my concern. Maybe you can send him parcel post…. MALCOLM: Can’t you please make an exception just this once? MS. STONE: So you’re asking me to place the lives of your fellow air travelers at risk for the sake of bird-lust? Well, the answer is no, Mr. Perdix. How can I be certain you don’t have a bomb inside that partridge? Or a gun? For all I know, you’ve had the poor creature swallow a grenade, and you’re going to cut him open in the lavatory to retrieve it…..Do you realize how bad that would look on my annual progress report?
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MALCOLM: Haven’t you ever been in love, Ms. Stone? MS. STONE: I am in love, Mr. Perdix….with my pension. Men come, and men go, but pensions are forever. And in four thousand seven hundred and six workdays, I’ll have mine….Now why would I jeopardize that by letting you sneak a grenade-filled pheasant onto an aircraft….? ROMEO: Call me a pheasant again, lady, and I’ll crap on your head! JADE (To Ms. Stone): He’s squawking again, Ms. Stone….I don’t think he likes you…. MS. STONE: It’s nothing personal. Rules are rules. JADE: That’s what I told him, Ms. Stone. Cats and dogs only….You don’t think we could pass him off as a cat, do you? MS. STONE: Nobody is passing anything off as anything. MALCOLM: May I see the rule? MS. STONE: What rule? MALCOLM: The rule that says cats and dogs only. If it’s a rule, it must be written down somewhere. MS. STONE: That’s your prerogative. Jade, go get the manual of policies and procedures…. JADE: Which part? MS. STONE: All of it. JADE: All of it? MS. STONE: Every last page. Mr. Pernix wants rules. We’ll give him rules. [Jade exits.] MS. STONE: If it was up to me, Mr. Pernix, you could take an entire flock of penguins on board—as long as they fit inside the overhead
No Fairer Fowl
MS. STONE: There you are! JADE: I’m sorry. MS. STONE: Don’t be sorry, be efficient. Now please read rule 1714b on page 877 of Volume 19, supplement B, Section 14, for Mr. Perdix. [Jade fumbles through the volumes, searching for the correct page.] JADE: Volume 14, Supplement B, Section 19? MS. STONE: Volume 19, Supplement B, Section 14….Never mind. I’ll find it. [She walks rapidly to the stack of volumes, chooses one and immediately opens a page.]
compartment or under the seat in front of you—but it’s not up to me. MALCOLM: You don’t really think I’m a terrorist, you do? MS. STONE: I’m not paid to think. I’m paid to follow rules….Maybe you’re not a terrorist. But as soon as the terrorists get wind that we’re letting people transport pheasants and chickens and guinea fowl on airplanes, it’s only a matter of time before some lunatic shows up with explosive poultry…. MALCOLM: But the wedding is on Saturday….The photographers are expecting us in the morning…. MS. STONE: Maybe try express mail, then. They have a twenty-four hour guarantee, I believe. ROMEO: If I don’t get on that plane, I swear I’ll fly into the engine just to spite you…. MS. STONE: What is taking that girl so long? (Apologetically.) It’s her first week….And she’s not very bright…. [Jade returns, wheeling several crates on a dolly. These contain the manual of policies and procedures.]
FLARE: The Flagler Review MS. STONE: Right there. [She hands the volume to Jade.]
MS. STONE: Now read. You can do that, can’t you? [An overhead voice announces: “Boarding all passengers for flight 1501 with destinations of New York City and Tblisi, Georgia.”] MALCOLM: That’s our flight! MS. STONE: Please read, Jade. JADE (Reading.): “The only non-human animals permitted on passenger aircraft are cats and dogs…. MS. STONE: That seems rather clear, now doesn’t it? JADE (Continuing to read): …and ferruginous partridge, in cases of true love….” MS. STONE: It doesn’t say that. JADE: Right here. Look for yourself if you don’t believe me. [An overhead voice announces: “This is the final boarding call for flight 1501 with destinations of New York City and Tblisi, Georgia.”] MALCOLM: We’re going to miss our flight. [Jade returns the book to the dolly and quickly stamps Malcolm’s boarding pass.] JADE: Run! You’ll make it…. [Romeo climbs quickly into the overnight bag and Malcolm wheels him off toward the gate….] MS. STONE: Let me see those rules….. (Ms. Stone retrieves Volume 19 of the manual of policies and procedures and opens to page 877.)
No Fairer Fowl
END OF PLAY
MS. STONE: “The only non-human animals permitted on passenger aircraft are cats and dogs….” As I suspected! There’s nothing in here about partridges! JADE: I must have misread it…. MS. STONE: Honestly, Jade! At least, please tell me that you checked that bird for explosive residues…? JADE: I couldn’t help it. I kept thinking about that poor female partridge being stood up at the altar….. MS. STONE: I’m going to have to write you up for this…..Really, Jade. I’m disappointed in you. I do hope you realize that we’re all only one exploding partridge away from disaster….. [Romeo and Milena enter, arm in arm, and pass through the rectangular gantry. They kiss underneath it. The alarm sounds.]
Contributors Jacob M. Appel is the author of the novel, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up (Cargo, 2012), the forthcoming short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper (Black Lawrence, 2013), and more than two hundred published short stories. He currently practices medicine in New York City. Alan Britt’s interview with the “Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem” is up at (http://www.loc.gov/poetry/poetpoem.html#alanbritt) and will air on Pacifica Radio in January 2013. His interview with Minnesota Review is up at http://minnesotareview.wordpress.com/. His poem, “September 11, 2001,” appeared in International Gallerie: Poetry in Art/Art in Poetry Issue. His recent book is Alone with the Terrible Universe (CypressBooks 2011). Alan currently teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University and lives in Reisterstown, Maryland with his wife, daughter, two Bouviers des Flandres, one Bichon Frise, and two formally feral cats.
Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends free time either writing or reading. Her works have appeared in Exercise Bowler, Blinking Cursor, Theory Train, Cartier Street Press, Berg Gasse 19, Precious Metals, A Handful of Dust, The Scarlet Sound, The Adroit Journal, Perceptions Literary Magazine, Welcome to Wherever, The Corner Club Press, Death Rattle, Danse Macabre, Subliminal Interiors, Generations Literary Journal, A Narrow Fellow, Super Poetry Highway, Stream Press, Stone Telling, Popshot, Golden Sparrow Literary Review, Rem Magazine, Structo, The 22 Magazine, The Black Fox Literary Magazine, Niteblade, Tuck Magazine, Ontologica, Congruent Spaces Magazine, Pipe Dream, Decades Review, Anatomy, Lowestof Chronicle, Muddy River Poetry Review, Lady Ink Magazine, Spark Anthology, Vine Leaves Literary Magazine, Avalon Literary Review, Caduceus,White Masquerade Anthology and Perhaps I’m Wrong About the World. You can find her here: http://carabosseslibrary.blogspot.com. John Davis, Jr. is a Florida poet whose work has been published in literary magazines throughout the South and around the world. His poetry has been recently featured in Emerge Literary Journal and the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Journal of Florida Literature. In April, he was awarded third place in the Robert Frost International Poetry and Haiku Contest 2012, sponsored by the Studios of Key West. He serves as English Department Chair for the Vanguard School of Lake Wales, Florida, and is a student in the University of Tampa’s MFA in Creative Writing program.
Contributors While music has played the driving force in his business career, Otha “Vakseen” Davis III’s passion for the arts has served as his key to sanity in the fast paced entertainment industry. Drawing inspiration from women, emotions, music and the African American experience, his mixed medium acrylic, oil and water color paintings on canvas have been sold to collectors and art enthusiasts throughout Los Angeles and the Southeast region of the U.S. While he’s only been on the art scene since January 2012, Otha has had a month and a half solo exhibition at the Emerging Art Scene Gallery in Atlanta; and showcased his art at Los Angeles’ Noho Art Gallery, Norbertellen Gallery, The Key Club, Media Temple Studios, The Alexandria Hotel, M. Bird Salon, The Holding Co. Studios, Opulen Studios and the Rochester Art House, amongst others. His work has also been featured in Artnois Magazine, Cactus Heart Literary Magazine, Barely South Review, Penduline Press Magazine and Snax Magazine, to name a few. To view more of Otha’s work, visit Vakseen.com Orman Day has had prose and poetry published in such journals as Creative Nonfiction, Los Angeles Review, Slake, Portland Review, Inkwell, Weave, Zyzzyva, and Alimentum. Once he finishes a metafictional novel, he’s going to write a memoir about his backpacked sojourns throughout the world. Earlier in life, he won a boat dressed as a frog on “Let’s Make A Deal” and marched as a handbell-swinging Christmas through Disneyland for a week. Thad DeVassie’s poems and prose poems have appeared in numerous journals including New York Quarterly, Sentence, North American Review, Poetry East, West Branch, NANO Fiction, PANK Magazine, Fifty-Two Stories, and Sycamore Review, among others. A lifelong Ohioan, he runs a communications consulting firm in Columbus. William Doreski teaches at Keene State College in New Hampshire. His most recent books of poetry are City of Palms and June Snow Dance, both 2012. He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Atlanta Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Worcester Review, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, and Natural Bridge. C.S. Fuqua’s books include Rise Up, Big Daddy’s Gadgets, If I Were... (children’s poems), Alabama Musicians: Musical Heritage from the Heart of Dixie, Trust Walk, The Swing: Poems of Fatherhood, and
Contributors Notes to My Becca, among others. His work has appeared in publications as diverse as The Christian Science Monitor, Naval History, Main Street Rag, and Year’s Best Horror Stories. Please visit http:// csfuqua.comxa.com for more information. Tom Holmes is the editor of Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose and the author of six collections of poetry. His writings about wine, poetry book reviews, and poetry can be found at his blog, The Line Break: http://thelinebreak.wordpress.com/. JM Huscher is the product of a geographically dysfunctional childhood. He now lives in Sacramento, California, where he is working to complete an MA in Creative Writing at the University of California - Davis. His fiction, essays, and poetry have been published over twenty journals. In his free time, JM rides and restores vintage Italian motorcycles.
Ruth Keally currently lives in Georgia where she enjoys writing poetry, flash fiction, and narrative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Athens Magazine, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Hippocampus Magazine, Long Story Short, and Pens on Fire. Matt Kelly is a student at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY who originally hails from Livonia, NY. Matt works as a sports editor for The Ithacan, Ithaca College’s award-winning student newspaper, but he enjoys writing fictional short stories and nonfiction ethnographies in his spare time. He likes to combine both the idiosyncratic and incredible moments from everyday life into his stories. Bruce Lader’s third full-length book of poetry, Fugitive Hope, is forthcoming from Červená Barva Press. Discovering Mortality (March Street Press) was a finalist for the 2006 Brockman-Campbell Book Award. Winner of the 2010 Left Coast Eisteddfod Poetry Competition, his poems have appeared in Jelly Bucket, Steam Ticket, Poetry, New Millennium Writings, Roanoke Review, Tulane Review, and other magazines. He has received a writer-in-residence fellowship from The Wurlitzer Foundation. Author site: www.brucelader.com. Michelle Lee is an assistant professor of composition, literature, and creative writing at Daytona State College. She earned both her M.A. in Creative Writing and her Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work, both poetry and fiction, has been featured in Tattoo Highway, Bateau Press, pacificReview, and 580 Split, as well as other publications, but most recently has appeared
Contributors in the journals Sliver of Stone Magazine, Northwind Magazine, and Vine Leaves literary journal. One of her poems, “Take My Morning,” is also forthcoming in Spring 2013 as a letterpress card from Architrave Press, and a short story, “Once Upon a Time in a Coffeeshop,” is forthcoming next month from eFiction. Scarlet Martin recently completed her undergraduate degree at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, where she studied creative writing and fine art photography. During her time at Texas Tech, she served as an editor for the campus’s literary journal, The Harbinger. Scarlet currently resides in Wolfforth, Texas, where she is working on a collection of poems and short stories. Jesse Millner’s work has appeared in numerous literary magazines including Tinge, Best Poem Journal, Willow Springs, River Styx, Pearl, and Conte. He has published two full-length poetry collections: The Neighborhoods of My Past Sorrow (Kitsune, 2009) and Dispatches from the Department of Supernatural Explanation. He has also published six poetry chapbooks with various publishers. Currently, he teaches writing courses at Florida Gulf Coast University. Benjamin Nash is a new poet. He has published a few poems in The Christian Science Monitor, PANK, Pilgrimage, Literary Juice, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and others. Megan Parker has presented her poetry at the Florida Literary Arts Coalition, as well as at a Slash Pines Project collegiate poetry reading in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She graduated from Flagler College with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in creative writing, and now resides and writes in Cocoa Beach, FL. Dorothy Place is a Ph.D. sociologist turned creative writer. Her credits include two short stories published in a regional literary journal, The Yolo Crow (2010 and 2011), and a short story that won first prize in the Mendocino Coast Writers Short Story Contest (2011) and publication in the Todd Point Review. Her first novel, The Heart to Kill, is a completed literary fiction piece now “out to readers.” Mary Shanley, poet/short story writer, has written two books: Hobo Code Poems and Mott Street Stories and Las Vegas Stories. She publishes in: Long Shot Magazine, Poydras Review Poetry Blog, Underground Voices, Logos Journal, Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Chuffed Books U.K.,Prompt Literary Journal, Gloom Cupboard, Hobo Camp Review, StepAway Magazine,
Contributors Shangra-La Shack, and Anak Sastra Asian Journal. Mary lives in New York City. Patty Somlo has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times and is the author of From Here to There and Other Stories. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review, the Santa Clara Review, the Jackson Hole Review, WomenArts Quarterly, among others, and in anthologies, including, Solace in So Many Words, winner of the Next Generation Indie Book Award. She lives in Santa Rosa, California. Anna Tatelman is, by day, a student of New York University; by night, she is a writer. She is a former participant of the University of Iowa’s Young Writers’ Studio, and has previously been published in West 4th Review and GLASS Quarterly Magazine.
Anne-Marie Thweatt has lived in many places, but she writes about where she’s from, southeastern Texas, the Brazos Valley, Walker, and Lee counties. She left Texas to live in Mexico and traveled all over the interior of the country, was arrested once, and drank a lot, until she settled in Mexico City for a year, teaching English. When she couldn’t afford to live off her wages anymore, she decided to go to grad school and studied writing under Daniel Nester, Barbara Ungar, Hollis Seamon, and William Patrick at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. While there, she received a scholarship from the New York State Writers Institute to study in a workshop with Rick Moody at Skidmore. Anne-Marie currently lives, writes, and teaches writing on the desert border of Mexico in Yuma, AZ. James Valvis is the author of How to Say Goodbye (Aortic Books, 2011). He has published many poems in places like Anderbo, Arts & Letters, Midwest Quarterly, Rattle, River Styx, and Verse Daily. His fiction is also widely published in places like Elimae, LA Review, Potomac Review, and storySouth. He lives in Issaquah, Washington. Lisa Zimmerman’s poetry and short stories have appeared in Indiana Review, Colorado Review, Poet Lore, and Cave Wall, among other journals. Her most recent collections are The Light at the Edge of Everything (Anhinga Press, 2008) and the chapbook Snack Size: Poems, just published by Mello Press. She is an assistant professor of English at the University of Northern Colorado and lives with her family in Fort Collins.
To Our Supporters and Benefactors, This issue of FLARE: The Flagler Review would not have been possible without the generous support of the following Flagler College departments, organizations and individuals. Thanks for your ongoing assistance. President William T. Abare, Jr. Dean Alan Woolfolk Darien Andreu Lisa Baird Kim Bradley Judith Burdan Pam Leydon Liz Robbins Jay Szczepanski Brian Thompson Marc Williar Office of Public Information Office of Admissions Department of English Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society Ink Slingers Creative Writing Club A special thank-you to Jim Wilson, Carl Horner, and all those who have directed The Flagler Review in years past. With your spark we light the fire.
Jacob M. Appel Alan Britt Valentina Cano John Davis, Jr. Orman Day Thad DeVassie William Doreski C.S. Fuqua Tom Holmes JM Huscher Ruth Keally Matt Kelly Bruce Lader Michelle Lee Scarlet Martin Jesse Millner Benjamin Nash Megan Parker Dorothy Place Mary Shanley Patty Somlo Anna Tatelman Anne-Marie Thweatt James Valvis Lisa Zimmerman
Cover Art “Dizzy” by Otha “Vakseen” Davis III IDOO