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FLARE the flagler review

Fall 2013

FLARE the flagler review

Volume 24 Issue 1

Š 2013, FLARE: The Flagler Review, a publication of Flagler College. Visit for subscription information and submission guidelines.

volume 24, issue 1 fall 2013

STAFF Editor

Laura Henning

Managing Editors Annie Dziagwa Dimitri McCloghry

Art Director

Michael O’Hara

Marketing Managers Madison Ciklin Drake Stevens


Brian Thompson

Fiction Editors Courtney Clark Kristyn Pankiw Emily Topper

Poetry Editors

Jimmy Provenza Nicole Zaunbrecher

Non-Fiction Editors

Kevin Ip Sidonia Serafini

FLARE: The Flagler Review

Editor’s Note

Laura Henning

What makes great writing? This is the question that faced the staff of FLARE: The Flagler Review as we immersed ourselves in the process of creating our Fall 2013 issue. Trying to wrap our minds around “greatness” presented a challenge not only because its definition is elusive, but also because its answer is at once timeless and ever changing. How are we to ever truly know what makes something “great”?


For some, the effortlessness of a work is what elevates it to a level of greatness. Like a ballerina on pointe, some pieces appear to float across the page. They are wondrous, magical, engaging. When the ballerina takes off her shoes, however, she reveals deformed toes, bloody nails, and oozing blisters. Peeling back the layers of a story or poem can similarly uncover an underbelly marked by continuous struggle and tension. Here, evidence of process is what matters, and the gestural is just as great, if not greater, than the perfectly rendered. FLARE is constantly evolving: the staff list changes each semester, new voices enter the conversation, and fresh ideas revitalize the publication. Moving with and sometimes against each other, these perpetual revisions breathe life into the journal. An erasure here, a bit of smudging there, and soon something beautiful reveals itself. Such has been the challenging yet richly rewarding process of assembling this issue. Painstakingly dedicated to the goal of finding works that exist both above and inside the struggle of their making, our staff has assembled a collection of pieces they believe answers the question that began our journey. I could not be more proud of them or the issue we have created, and I am incredibly excited to see where FLARE goes next. So grab a pencil, a pen, or even a stick of charcoal. Mark this journal. Make it your own. We were here. Now it’s your turn.



Samuel Piccone Island Anatomy 7 David Lewitzky Two Ladies 16 Cal Louise Phoenix Overcast 15 Nicci Mechler Ohio Winter Morning, Early 17 George Bishop Bathhouse 24 Glen Armstrong Garage Band 26 Jessica Thelen Thin 27 Doug Bolling Suddenness 36 Levi Bollinger Santiago - The Rope’s End 37 Elodia 38 Stephen Gibson Nineteenth Century 39 Execution Photos Matthew Porubsky liv. 55 Richard King After Breaking 58 Perkins II George Eklund Marina 69 Assemblage at the Edge 70 of a Wine Glass Courtney Jameson Conquest of the Destitute 71 Christopher Tozier Siafu 72 Laura Eklund The Talk of Being in Love 79 Jonathan Barrett Not One Death But Many 80 Winnona Elson While Yo-Yo Ma Plays 81 Pasquini the Swan of Saint Saën


Jason Lee Miller Soul’s Business 8 Kirby Wright House with Dragon Trees 25 Frank Scozzari Too Old for War 28 M.V. Montgomery Thirteen Gothic Tales 56 Lawrence F. Farrar The Education of Florence Duensing 60 Ken Sloan Three Janes 74


Geoff Watkinson A Little Crowd of Mourners 18 Etanna Zak Pretzel Knots 40 Cristina Querrer In the Event of My Absence 83


Laura Kammermann Mineko Iwasaki 51 Dmitry Borshch Betrothal of the Virgins 52 Matthew Batty Ancestral Swamp 53 Brittany Bertazon Suffocation 54

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Island Anatomy

Samuel Piccone

The village where I was born grew from your stone hands, held and spread and emerging from the ocean. My mother bled out on the footbridge connecting the fatty parts of your palms. Blood turned a pocket of the ocean red, and when it rained, I hid under your thicket of ingrown coconut trees, watching the claret drops stain your fingers with a dark crust. When the rain dried, I scraped your skin with my nail, bringing our bones closer together, and from below the ocean surface, your head and body and breast continued to breathe the sea filth— the things that sink, of untrimmed nails, the dirt that always finds the knuckle.


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Soul’s Business Jason Lee Miller


Standing by that heavy green door with the brass doorknocker they’d found in a pile of old-world rubble, Tim noticed spring had arrived. The gentle heat of it was licking the back of his neck, seducing him away from the flabbergasted hotness coming off the girl in the middle of the room. She sat there like an abandoned campfire, smoldering in disbelief. He could see the refrigerator from where he was, just around the inside wall of the living room, and imagined the new rent-to-own tenants would be charmed by the yellow Post-it still stuck on the freezer door: You sleeping is the harsh beauty of autumn – I couldn’t bear to wake you and make it go away. Love ya later – Tim. The new tenants would assume the best; neither Tim nor Julie would touch the thing, either to preserve or destroy it. So there it sat, a pretty lie. The house was as empty and as charmingly scarred as they’d found it: the scuffed floors, the white plaster walls still waiting for lavender, the inoperable fireplace, and the built-in bookshelves achingly bookless. The energy of the house was different now: what had been pregnant with possibility was now an empty womb. The dog was his again, even as it left his side for a moment to shove its muzzle into Julie’s face and lick the salt off her. She hugged that sheepdog mutt hard in the dusty sunbeams shining through the window; the dog seemed to sense her need to grab onto some reality and hold on as this Victorian dream crumbled beneath her feet. “Sideburns, come on,” Tim interrupted. The dog looked over his shoulder, then back at Julie to give her a kiss before loping back to his master. “Go on, get in the truck,” he said, and the dog ambled out as he was told. Tim took a deep breath. “Well, I guess that’s it.” He was trying not to look at her as she packed what was left of herself into the dark silence of her last good box. “Well, I guess so,” she said, cutting the ribbons of smoke billowing up from her cigarette. “It’s kind of hard to argue with Jesus.” She took a drag, ashed on the floor. From behind chestnut hair, her charcoal eyes were smoking, too. Tim felt the heat transference, a charring at the edge of his certainty. “Jesus!” Julie shook her head. Tim had explained, as clumsily as he first had asked her out, that

he was going the way of Thoreau and Salinger. He had purchased a small hermitage in the woods. He could write there. He could focus. He could commune with the natural world and learn to appreciate silence, the kind of silence that fills up a man’s gut with some unspeakable knowing. He wanted to understand the universe. And he had to understand it alone. Julie didn’t take this well. It didn’t help that he was drunk when he’d said it, that he’d been out all night without so much as a phone call. He’d been walking, and about three in the morning he found her asleep on the couch. She was still dressed. He turned off the TV, and at first he stood there like a phantom, a shadow, watching her. When she awoke, Tim was sitting in the chair in the dark. He was leaving, chucking it all, was gonna take his dog, grow a big gnarly beard and contemplate. He quoted the Bible, slurred out a Jesus quote about selling everything and giving to the poor; he preached an incomprehensible sermon about a French mathematician and the circumference of infinite spheres. He spoke of Bohemian writers and of how dreamers could believe in anything except the obvious and awful. He sensed she thought he was incoherent. He said she couldn’t come with him because he had to rid himself of desire, and she couldn’t help with that because she was the very picture of desire for him. “For how long?” “Forty days, seven years, all my life. Don’t know. I’m very sorry about this.” At first Julie was quiet. Then she said it was like he was signaling her from some remote place, across a ravine, at the top of a hill. “And how do you mean?” she asked. “Isn’t desiring to be free from desire still desire?” It was, he said with the blank stare of the entranced, and probably it was inescapable, but there is truth in paradox, or at least the threshold of some kind of truth, and probably it was a kind of nothingness. She didn’t blink, continued negotiating, though Julie had never been much of a metaphysician. Outside, the sun was rising. “Well, what’s wrong with desire anyway?” Tim rubbed his thighs. “It only brings misery,” he said. He cleared his throat. “It destroys us eventually.” “But desire is what makes and moves everything!” Cross-armed, Julie wore her confusion and looked at him, tapped her foot. “This is insane. I suppose you’ll want to be free from the desire to eat and breathe, too. What happens when you get out there, Tim? How long till you put a gun in your mouth? And what about love? Isn’t what we have truth? Isn’t it anything to you?” Tim refused to look at her. Love? He told her he feared it was only


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evolutionary, a chemically-induced delirium to ensure reproduction. The price of consciousness was to know that and how much it sucks, he said. “Hmmph!” she replied, clearly not knowing what to say. He felt bad for her. His family was used to the way he was always at odds with the universe. Being like this is what Julie found interesting about him in the first place. But he figured she had never foreseen being collateral damage. She suggested counseling, pills. Tim’s arms were crossed. She slipped her hands between his forearms, pulled. He thought about letting her draw him out. It only sounded crazy because she didn’t understand it, he said. Julie slipped through the cracks then, collapsed into the floor and bawled. And then she began breaking things as Tim sank farther into his seat. If he wanted nothing, he could have it, and if desire is bad, then the last thing the impoverished needed was more of it. “You’re crazy,” she said. “Out of your everloving mind.” She stormed into the bedroom, slammed the door, and Tim remembered how his mind once had been his most attractive feature to her. What Tim didn’t allow to surface was a thought he kept locked away almost from himself: that what he wanted couldn’t exist, what he wanted her to be she couldn’t be. His relationship with Julie was primal. She was beautiful, and his body responded to her in the way men’s bodies respond to beautiful women. She was good, protected people’s feelings, took care of him, and his Freudian psyche responded to her in the way motherless men respond to women who are naturally nurturing. Digging deep within himself, though, he could find nothing akin to magic or even passion. And if not within himself, then out there in the world somewhere perhaps there was something unnamable and extraordinary. But he felt empty, as though if he knocked on his belly it would echo, and Tim understood, or thought he understood, he’d been sold a dream. His desire for a soul mate, for the incarnation of a metaphor, he knew was a fantasy. He wanted it nonetheless and if he couldn’t have that—good Lord, the scores of women he’d sought that within, the number within whom he thought he’d found it, how each one became for a time The One—then alone was better than making is-not into an is. Freud was right: We kid ourselves because we never want to grow up. And if magic didn’t exist he wanted nothing. Poor Julie, he thought. Poor me. Julie spent the next day in bed. Tim slept in the guest room. The morning after that she slinked into where he slept, pulled him out and woke him with the back of her throat. She made him breakfast. She bounced semi-nude around the kitchen as he sank himself into special-occasion coffee. Julie tried to engage him in conversation, tried

to remind him. She forced a smile. Tim got up and went for a walk. He knew Julie thought him cruel—but he was sad, for himself and for her. There shouldn’t be anything missing from the picture, except whatever it was that sat right in his gut. You can’t trust a gut, though. Guts tell men to quit their jobs, to punch other men, to sound barbaric yawps from the halter tops of the world, to go up and be saved, to eat doughnuts. The gut is chaos in a world that needs order. The gut is a butterfly habitat, the throbbing, irresistible urgency of erections. It’s also a contradiction: its pressing immediacy drives life and eventually the things it craves destroy it. But Julie wasn’t the One, and he could not convince his gut otherwise. And so he walked all morning, he and Sideburns. If there were ever an instant and real connection, it was between Sideburns and Tim. When they went back inside, Julie was nowhere. He checked his phone. Julie had sent him a message: a self-shot in the mirror, flashing her engagement ring on the wrong finger. He wondered, spanned the room, saw the ring in the fireplace. And in his gut was regret. **** Julie was back to having the same amount of nothing she had when they’d first moved in. She had lived the ascetic life, but not by choice. She called him spoiled, and true, Tim had grown up not wanting for a thing. His sudden spiritual conflict seemed luxurious to Julie. Before Tim, she worried about making rent, about whether she could afford a cheeseburger. This wasn’t a vow of poverty he was taking— he’d put aside quite a bit of money working as a pharmaceutical rep while waiting for his writing career to acquire momentum. And it had. He’d sold a book and had quit his job even though his advance was tiny. The book was about a writer, naturally. With writer’s block. A coming-of-age story. As far as Julie was concerned, he should stay a drug dealer—that’s what she called him—for at least a little while longer. It wasn’t even a vow of celibacy—Tim and Julie both knew he’d never be able to keep that. While Tim walked, she penned a letter, taped it to the bathroom mirror. This new thing was just a new dream substituted for one he was bored with, and, like her, he would find fault with it eventually. How does a rational being think a void could be filled with nothingness? If she couldn’t fill it with her hot body, she didn’t see how this Nothing he spoke of possibly could. She’d tried everything she knew, tried to wrap her mind and mouth around it, but it was clear there was no use; she was insufficient, and that she found the most heartbreaking. “Remember that book you made me read?” she wrote. “The Tao of Pooh, all that bull about sitting like a lump and letting the universe shape you. It’s lazy, Tim. You’re lazy because you don’t want to work at


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this. That ‘nothingness’ you talk about is overrated, especially by people with everything. I’ll be fine. I’ll go back to waiting tables, to scraping by. That’s my life. And I’ll find a construction worker or maybe a cowboy, some man who smells like sweat and dirt and doesn’t have an existential crisis as often as a girl has her period.” She crashed with friends. Little by little she removed her things from the house while Tim was out. As flighty as he seemed, he was very scheduled. He’d come out from the shower and notice a lamp was missing. He went out for breakfast one morning, and when he came back a bonfire was raging in the back yard, fueled, he assumed, by the books missing from the bookshelf. She blamed the books. He knew that. He thought of collisions. That’s how they met. She was working in a coffee house. It was a Friday. He had worked late and was driving home. He was lonely. By chance he noticed the open mic sign. Inside was the smell of rich coffee and clove cigarettes, the typical beatnik crowd snapping applause, being iconoclasts together. There were poems he knew by heart, naïve, idealistic poems of yearning he understood later—after he’d signed up to read—to be of an inappropriate philosophy for a crowd whose enemy was kitsch. But later they snapped for him anyway. After putting his name down, he grabbed a seat out of the way, and when the emcee called his name, the performance anxiety shot him out of his seat like the boss had caught him loafing; on the way up his shoulder bumped her tray, sent mugs and mocha everywhere. He performed while she mopped. Later Julie said she was impressed he was able to push through the embarrassment. She just loved his poems. How often they’d told that story to friends. How much they had marveled at the sliver of a chance that brought them together, a chance so slim it had to be fate. **** “God! How am I supposed to explain, Tim, that my fiancé left me to be a friggin’ hermit in the woods? How am I supposed to explain that?” The weight of her tears hung heavy in the corner of her eyes. “Don’t oversimplify it,” he said. It was the first time they’d seen each other since Julie left. She’d managed to avoid him until now, the last day of the lease. Tim thought she wouldn’t be back, but when he found a forgotten box of childhood tchotchkes in the attic, he texted her to let her know. He was sweeping when Sideburns barked and squealed, lumbered himself up and across the room to meet her in the doorway. She stroked the dog’s ears until her chin quivered, and she ran to the box he’d set in the corner. She picked up the box and turned to leave, but before she reached the door, she paused, moved to the center of the room and plopped herself down in the floor. And then she

lit a cigarette. There was a no-smoking clause in the lease. “Goodbye deposit,” she laughed, as though Tim would share that moment. Tim was nearly finished, but he knew better than to leave with her smoldering there in the floor. She still had something to say, and Tim understood if he left without allowing her to speak, it would be goodbye windows, too. When he sent the dog out, Julie wiped her eyes and walked over to the picture window. There she stood cross-armed, looking out onto a day meant for sweaty romances: sunny and mild with the pungent, erotic smell of spring rampaging beneath the flowering dogwoods. It was a day for picnics. Sideburns was in the passenger seat of the truck, flapping his tongue out the window. He saw her looking at him and shifted in his seat, his dog lips curling up around a hesitant, soft and hollow bark, as if he wanted to say something to her. “Well, whatever,” she said, blowing out smoke. From the open door Tim watched her. She looked as good as ever, smooth knees peeking out from holes in her jeans. He watched her pull back her curtain of hair and tie it with a blue bandana from her back pocket, bringing her freckled Cherokee cheekbones into the light of the empty room, her arms angled like wings as she worked the knot in a tie-dyed tee shirt. He loved it. She was a kind of Harley hippie, rough and delicate, a contradiction. He had always admired her bone structure, her tiny shoulders, the clavicle ridges he would balance his fingers along before sliding down. Julie wouldn’t look back at him. “I don’t know why you didn’t buy a parrot or something. At least you’d have somebody to talk to out there. Idiot.” “Sort of defeats the purpose,” Tim said, looking down at the floor. “Besides, I’ve got Sideburns.” She’d never get it. It was tooth fairy, boogey-man-bull to her. She would never, ever understand that it wasn’t personal. How could it not be personal? But it wasn’t. It was the business of the soul. And this severing himself from the world and everything in it was so completely necessary to move on with that business and not drag her along with him. She’d find someone else easy. Cripes, look at her. And she’d polish the brass of that relationship until whatever imperfection there was gone. She was the type of person who could be happy. He wanted to say something, but had difficulty avoiding the clichés of breaking up. “Hey,” he said to her, “you’ll find someone.” She swung her head around, dripped back into the floor, and her chocolate eyes melted into the rescue-me kind of stare he hated, for it was that look that always broke him. In a surge of sudden emotion and will, he felt it was unfair the way she could wreck him by looking help-


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less, and there she was, in the middle of the floor, dead in the center of hardwood and plaster emptiness, perfect ankles tucked beneath perfect butterflied legs, holding her box in her lap. Your problem, buddy, he remembered his best friend saying, is you got that knight-in-shining-armor complex. Every girl you’ve ever been with has had some problem you thought you could solve. But the feminists are right, dude. Girls don’t need savin’. “I’m not changing my mind,” Tim said. “I’m not asking you to,” she answered before lighting another cigarette. “Asshole.” She moved the box to the floor and leaned back still cross-legged on her hands, smoke rising from behind her. Her eyes had hardened. “You’re a liar,” she said. “And I guess you can lie to me, that’s your prerogative, and it’s sure as hell not the first time a man has filled me up with beautiful words and popped me later. But you lying to yourself is the saddest part, because it means you’ll never find anybody that fits what you’re looking for, Tim.” Her head hung down, a wilted flower. “Christ, I’ve put so much into this.” She paused long enough to be worrisome. “That thing you’re looking for to fill you up. You have to make it, dumb ass. We’re not soul mates ‘cus soul mates don’t exist, and the only thing that’s sadder than there not being such things is that you believe it so much you’ll never be happy. Good luck with that.” She huffed, dropped her cigarette on the floor, and in a few seconds she was gone. Tim knew it was broken completely now, the energy that pulled them together so ferociously night after great morning after great night. It was broken for sure by the sharp metal edge on her voice. Tim locked up, threw his broom in the back of the truck, stood muzzle to muzzle with Sideburns. Around the corner, he could hear Julie sobbing. Tim sighed, looked up through the dogwoods lining the road, at the shimmer of sunlight pouring through the pink and white, and imagined that beautiful war-torn face, the tears she’d fought back now marching in lines down the ravines of her quivering mouth. Tim muffled a surprising sob that made his chest quaver in short, undulating bursts. But he reminded himself it was just business. That’s all it could be.


Cal Louise Phoenix

a calendar means to pine by every square —those aching seasons float by on notes of old words for a year, I think my brain might fall out the farmhouse has settled into disrepair: dust veils the poetry scrawled walls my cookware weeds have eaten our garden–those crops abandoned to rot and yet, upstairs I remain sitting on the master bed plucking webs as they collect from my eyelashes, and wear our fantasy like a shadow, though it bleeds to ripple my draperies with a sticky shame that won’t relieve my wrists and tongue


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Two Ladies

David Lewitzky

In a bistro on the Elmwood strip two ladies lunch together: My wife, her lover. They talk about art. They talk about their children. They’ve loved each other long, so long, no need to talk about their situation.


How solid, how intense and still they are. Like pitchblende. How close they are, how intimate. Like amber. Two ladies who, like polished tree rings in a table, and like me, flourish after tragedy. I lie suspended in the soreness of their beauty.

Ohio Winter Morning, Early Nicci Mechler

Branches craze the sky above my bed— soot stained cracks in a black cat’s rib bone. Can I divine my future with this? Crows shrill out their pleas to the sky: I am hun-gry, hungry.


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A Little Crowd of Mourners

Geoff Watkinson


When my mother was learning to speak as a toddler, she started calling my great aunt, “Dodo.” Although her real name was Sarah Mildred Kluge, Dodo stuck. Everyone called her Dodo. In 2005, a few months before Dodo died at the age of ninety-nine, I went with my mother to see her in an assisted living facility. I was nineteen years old and home in central New Jersey from college. It was a few days before Christmas on a cold gray morning that wanted to snow, and I was hung over. The assisted living facility smelled like urine and mothballs mixed with Lysol and lasagna. After signing in at the entrance, my mother and I walked through the main dining room where a group of people sat, eating. They watched us—me—with a shared expression. It seemed to me that they were looking into their pasts with some yearning, but I wasn’t sure I understood. I felt guilty for being young. I felt guilty for being hung over. I felt guilty for not going to see Dodo more often. Dodo’s room was a camouflaged hospital room. Under the brown carpet, I imagine there was a cream-colored linoleum floor. The standard plastic or padded chair usually found in a hospital room had been replaced with a cloth armchair. Thick white nylon curtains had also been replaced with cloth. The bed was the same as one found in a hospital, although the sheets seemed to be nicer: dark blue, not sky blue. Maybe a higher thread count: 800 Egyptian cotton. The illusion of home seemed like some shameful unreality. Dodo’s bed was raised to an upright position. A tray attached to the bed was in front of her, on top of which was a 12-ounce red cup full of water with a straw. Dodo wasn’t eating much. She’d told the nurses and doctors that she wasn’t hungry. Time had shrunk Dodo. At ninety-nine, she was about four feet, eight inches—three or four inches shorter than she had been in middle age. A few years earlier, when I was fifteen, Dodo had shown me black and white pictures of herself in a high school track uniform. I’d told her that I had just run a six-minute mile. She’d said that when she was young she was fast, despite her legs being shorter than many of the taller girls that she ran against. It had been difficult to look at a

woman with a walker and comprehend that there was a time when she too could run a six-minute mile. It had been difficult to look at a photograph from the 1930s and comprehend that the thin smiling brunette in the photo was the same woman with two hearing aids who sat next to me, correctly guessing entire Wheel of Fortune clues before I could get a single word. At fifteen, I had yet to get a grip on mortality. Maybe we never do. I hadn’t even had sex yet, let alone considered with any real substance my own death or the death of those close to me. Those events were so far off that it seemed thinking about them was a waste of time. But the following year, my grandmother–whom I was closer to than my own mother–died. Although I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it, I was beginning to learn that, as Joan Didion writes, “when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.” **** In her bed, Dodo said, “Ohh.” But it wasn’t really “Ohh.” It was more like that sound someone makes after they’ve been tackled or twisted an ankle or had the wind knocked out of them. Dodo’s blue, watery eyes were covered in a cataract film behind thick glasses. “Thank you, Geoffrey, Nancy, for coming.” I kissed her on her cheek and her skin felt like a fleece left outside on a cool fall night. Like there was no blood left in her body. “How are you doing?” I asked her. She looked to the right, to the window. “I’m alive,” she said. “I don’t understand why I’m alive.” I nodded and looked at her while she held my hand. Her hand felt like her face. I tried to comprehend what she meant when she said she didn’t understand why she was alive. She was the youngest of thirteen children. The rest of her siblings were dead. Her parents, of course, dead. Her husband, dead. Her friends, dead. Her niece, Sally (my grandmother) dead. She had been stubborn about leaving her house, about selling the place where she’d lived for decades. But after the death of my grandmother she let the place go, without a fight, and moved to assisted living. This was the same woman who, at the age of ninety-five, shoveled snow off of her front stoop and kept her mind sharp with crosswords, the newspaper (until her eyesight no longer granted her the ability to read it), and the nightly news. It was too much death, perhaps. “Why,” she had asked, “did Sally die and I live?” I was sixteen when I held my grandmother’s casket with my brother, father, and uncle. We slid the casket out of the Cadillac hearse and lifted it. After a couple of steps, I used my right hand to wipe my eyes and then put it quickly back up into position. But my hand was wet


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and I lost my grip and the casket began to slide towards me. “Watch it, Geoff,” my father said. I recovered my grip. “Come on, Geoff. Get it together,” my brother said, and we walked through the open doors of the church, where my grandparents had taken me my entire life. It was the last time I went inside. Dodo cried violently during the ceremony, making sounds I hadn’t heard a person make before. I remember thinking that she sounded like the dying deer my brother and I had discovered in the woods behind our house when we were kids. Both the deer and Dodo gasped for air through loud nasally sobs. Hearing Dodo make those sounds in the church was horrifying. It made me realize that, sometimes, physical and emotional pain could be indistinguishable. **** I was raised Roman Catholic and confirmed at the age of fourteen. I went to church almost my entire life. As a child, I liked sitting next to Dodo in the church pew. Maybe it was because of her age, or the fervent way she prayed–so deep in thought–but she seemed, somehow, closer to God. Old people in general seemed closer to God. Growing up, we called my grandfather the Pope because he missed mass, throughout the whole of his life, only a handful of times. When my grandmother (his wife) died, he started going to mass daily. I reacted differently. At the age of sixteen, after my grandmother died, I started to consider mortality and the questions that come along with it. I began to grow apart from the God business. I couldn’t find any logic in God. There was no logic in the CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) classes I’d gone to, where I was learning the basic doctrines of the faith. Even as early as seventh grade something seemed off: my CCD teacher had spent three weeks trying to convince us that Noah’s Arc had been found on a mountaintop in Turkey. I may have been twelve, but there was something wonderfully mysterious, yet seriously flawed, about that story–probably the part that involved jamming all of those animals onto a single boat, or simply the fact that God decided to flood the world in the first place. And there was also something downright crazy in my teacher’s tone, as if by simply telling us about it she could will it to be true. In church, I often heard priests lecture about sin and damnation, about Heaven and Hell. I wondered if Heaven and Hell were anything like the worlds that the characters from The Chronicles of Narnia explored. Heaven, Hell, Narnia: they all seemed like magical places. After confession, I’d say the Hail Mary and Our Father, hoping that I would go to Heaven, but after my grandmother died I didn’t under-

stand how reciting words inside my head would make any difference. Her death only added to my puzzlement about faith. She had suffered for nearly a decade with chronic pain throughout her midsection, her shrinking body moving her organs just enough to be excruciating. After visiting so many specialists who couldn’t figure out precisely what was wrong with her, why would God then decide to take her so quickly? There didn’t seem to be any meaning, any purpose. By the time I visited Dodo at the assisted living facility, I had started to read essays and books by scientists and atheists who had logical theories and explanations for the questions I obsessed over–how the universe came to be, how and why life existed the way that it did, the chances of life existing elsewhere. The stars in the sky started to seem less like holes to Heaven and more like the gaseous masses they were, although, as I came to discover, many had already burned out. I started to read the French existentialists, too, who may have had the most profound impact on me. Life, they said, was meaningless. If life was meaningless, then that meant I could fill it with my own meaning. I just didn’t know what that meaning was. How was I supposed to find meaning in meaninglessness? **** My mother, at Dodo’s bedside, told her about my brother and sister, aunt and uncle, little cousins. This brought a slight smile to Dodo’s face. She had pictures of the family on her dresser–the same pictures that had been on the dresser in the bedroom of her home. There were other pictures, too–black and white pictures of her parents and siblings, people I had never met. I told Dodo about some off-season signings the New York Yankees had made. She was a huge Yankees fan and sports fan in general. She always thought Tiger Woods was arrogant: “That Tig-ger (she always said Tig-ger). He’s not humble.” If she’d lived long enough, she would have gotten a lot of pleasure out of his sex scandal. The family got a lot of pleasure out of imagining what Dodo would have said. Maybe, “what a dis-gusting man,” or a simple “I knew it.” **** When I was six, Dodo went into the hospital, at the age of eightysix, for open heart surgery to fix an infection in her heart, a procedure that the doctors gave her a ten percent chance of surviving, given her age. While in surgery, her husband–whom we always knew as Unc– drove over to my grandparents’ house, pulled into the garage, and closed the door behind him while the engine of his Oldsmobile continued to run. He sat there, I imagine, pondering his life, letting the fumes slowly dissolve his consciousness. My grandmother, happening to come home to let the dog out, found him there some time later,


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asleep but still alive. Dodo had lived for more than sixty years with a man who, by all family accounts, was mentally ill. My mother claims that, for as long as she could remember, Unc emotionally abused Dodo. He could be a mean man. He once yelled at my brother, who couldn’t have been older than six, and violently grabbed his arm, because he didn’t like that my brother was playing in their house. That was the last time we went over to Unc and Dodo’s without supervision. I remember little about Unc, other than his pasty white skin, his brittleness, and how it seemed as if when he walked from one room into another that his head would almost hit the top of a doorway. Some days, when I went over to their house, he would smile, give me a piece of candy or a cookie, and put me on his lap and we’d read or watch TV together. Other days, he’d scowl as he came into the living room and quickly retreat into the kitchen. To most everyone’s surprise, Dodo made it through her open heart surgery although she stayed in the hospital for weeks recovering. So, Unc took care of their house–one they’d lived in for decades, around the corner from my grandparents’ house. It was a ranch with a singlecar garage. Dodo and Unc had invested in Coca-Cola in the 1950s, along with a number of other investments, which yielded quite a bit of money and had taken care of their retirement. Yet, they never went on vacation and rarely bought anything but essentials. Dodo, on my birthday, would write a check to my mother for around forty dollars, thirty-five of which was for new sneakers and five of which was for whatever else I wanted. She was born in 1908 and lived through the Depression with a dozen other siblings. New shoes had been difficult to come by. A few weeks after Unc’s initial suicide attempt, he tried again, this time at his own house, in his garage. He was successful. My aunt–my mother’s sister–found his body. His car engine, once again, was still running. My aunt told me that his body was a mild pink, like the color under healthy finger nails. The morning that he did it, he’d gotten dressed in khakis, wingback shoes, and a button-down collared shirt–clothes he typically wore. He set the kitchen table. I wonder if he thought about which silverware he should use. He cleaned the house. It was immaculate when the family went inside after his body was discovered. What did he think about as he prepared to leave his wife of more than sixty years alone, as she fought for her life in the hospital? Mom calls him a wimp for doing what he did. Maybe she’s right. Maybe he was a wimp. Dodo, as far as anyone in the family knows, never grieved for

her husband. She was still in the hospital when the funeral was held. Would she have gone to the funeral if she had been healthy enough? After recovering, she returned to the house where he had done it. And from all accounts, she was the happiest anyone had ever seen her. And yet she was religious. Did she believe Unc had gone to Hell? Was she happy because, confident that she would go to Heaven, she would never have to see him again? **** In the bedroom at the assisted living facility, Dodo sighed. There was only so much to talk about. I felt for Dodo an acute sense of loneliness. Do we all die alone? If we live too long, do we die more alone than, say, my grandmother, who had died at seventy-five? I had known Dodo for less than twenty percent of her life, and I was one of the most important people in it. It scared me to think of my own death. It scared me equally as much to think about living a long life, to think that someone who wouldn’t be born for decades might be one of the only people to come see me as I awaited my end. For the first time, at Dodo’s bedside, I wondered how long I truly wanted to live. Was the goal of my life longevity? Was living to the age of ninety-nine a blessing or a curse? It became clear to me why I liked to sit next to Dodo when I had gone to church while growing up: she seemed to believe, truly believe, that all of the questions would be answered. “Can I do anything for you?” I asked Dodo, her eyes fixed on mine. “Why won’t God take me?” Dodo asked. I couldn’t answer that, although she looked at me as if she expected me to. I grabbed her hand and nodded and she half-smiled. Dodo died a few months later when I was away at college. My mother didn’t tell me that Dodo had passed until after she was buried. My mother said she didn’t want me to miss any classes or get behind on my work. “That wasn’t your call,” I told my mother. “I’m sorry, Geoff,” she said. “I think Dodo would have wanted it that way.” I’ve never visited Dodo’s gravesite. I don’t believe she’s there, at that spot, any more than she is where I am when I think of her from time to time. I think about what the funeral must have looked like. How many people went? Did anyone cry? Was there at least a little crowd of mourners? I think about that question she asked me. I think about all of the different forms of that question, all of the whys. And I think about how beautifully terrifying it is that if I live for as long as Dodo, I won’t be any closer to answers.


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Bathhouse Joyland 1923/1937


When the rain came swimmers began lunging toward shore, twisting, crippling the slick air with each unnatural jerk. I was thinking about the sky anyway, what comes down on the backs of beauty and fear the way prayer falls silently on the dead sea of selfishness. I wanted to call it perfect, what might be there, everywhere. And I swore it was lightning that burned the bathhouse down one night, but history says no, nothing there except the day dripping out, a few mistakes forming a circle somewhere. Twice Joyland lit up the sky—once for beauty, once for fear. An old man in me insists, the one that’s seen too much and is out wandering what’s washed up, some perfect design adrift in his footprints, dead on the path he can’t see.

George Bishop

House with Dragon Trees Kirby Wright

The sun warms this morning before Easter, paralyzing cats in windows. “Pop Goes the Weasel” plays. Tiny feet chatter chasing an ice cream truck. There was a neighborhood below the volcano. I see a house with dragon trees, a net above the garage, backyard swings. I return to bed. Teary Eary, my plush dog, remembers. See the boy run on cut legs. Hear a soprano howl as the belt sings. Smell the iron scent of blood. Teary’s fur is worn from hugging and biting. At twilight, I rise and float ghost-like over the driveway. The children are gone. Popsicle sticks lie in the gutter. I flip the mailbox lid and find a bomb inside—an Easter card from Daddy.


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Garage Band

Glen Armstrong

They are closer to the garden hose than Hendrix. The bag of rusty hammers hanging near the drummer’s head suggests they call the band Thunder God,


but the quiet boy on rhythm guitar, who secretly gets good grades, suggests The Ball Turret Gunners. They all agree at least that the band’s name should seem to fall from above:

Sky Captains of Today

Rain of Terror

Angel Sweat

They know that as soon as the perfect name is uttered aloud, naked girls will be passing it through their lips. They’re all sure of this except for the quiet boy who knows too well how the best words tend to end up stillborn.


Jessica Thelen

After James Hoch’s Klutz Even the word looks small, as if it slips between the cracks, unseen–sheer, slim, static, stiff. Looks slender too, like Pete Townshend after a bender or the last cigarette in an otherwise empty pack, which is how she feels as she turns away from the mirror, slips the oversized hoodie off and undoes the elastic bands keeping her jeans up, ignoring the way her chest recalls those of pigeons, and pretends her ribs are hidden beneath a layer of fat. If she pretends hard enough, she can feel it. She fingers the notches in her spine, between the dips and over the ridges–her own Seven Sisters, starting with Mount Skinner. So she puts a towel over the glass, trying to forget when her belt went missing, and how, when she ran to catch the bus, flashed the neighbors. Bad day, bad as refusing to complete a math test, bad as skinning palms while fleeing a snapping dog. Bad as running under the rotting tree, bad as the stray cat being crushed, bad as hiding, bad as a still-full plate. O chest, O Jesus, O cross. O God here’s a napkin, nutrients out and into the landfill. What more can she do but remove the towel, as if sight changes brain chemistry, opens her throat, and pushes food in.


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Too Old for War

Frank Scozzari


Old Makatiku looked wearily upon the young Kantaku. A pillar of youth he was, standing more than two meters in height with broad shoulders, a head full of shiny black hair, skin that was taunt and clear, and muscles that rippled like the palms in a tree. His shadow stretched out on the African earth like that of a giraffe. And from his position below, seated in his thatched throne, Makatiku knew he looked old and weak and worn from a life lived fully. It was me, Makatiku thought, staring up at the young shujaa warrior, forty years past. But I was taller, and even stronger, and I did not have this look of pity in my eyes. “You must answer,” demanded Kantaku. The council sat anxiously waiting. Makatiku glanced over at them. Among them were the elders and friends, and many brave warriors he had fought along side of in the internecine wars, all in their colorful, ceremonial tunics. If only there was a way out gracefully, Makatiku thought. He glanced back at the towering young Kantaku. But there was none. Every spear has two edges and each side cuts with equal depth, he thought. If he agreed to the challenge, he would face a humiliating defeat. He was no match for a man one quarter his age. Is this a fit way to end it? Doesn’t a good life deserve an honorable end? After all the wonderful years of ruling with dignity and benevolence, having his face rubbed in the dirt now was something he could not bear. The thought of it offended his soul. Yet if he refused, he would have to advocate the throne. It was law. Kantaku stood waiting. And behind him was his entourage of young Maasai warriors. “Are you sleeping?” Kantaku asked impatiently. “I am thinking.” And then a pleasant thought came into Makatiku’s head and a small grin formed on his face. Could young arrogance be so foolish? And when Makatiku did speak, everyone seemed a bit mystified by his confident tone and by the cleverness in his eye. “I accept the challenge,” Makatiku said loudly. “It is a great tradi-

tion and it is the people’s right to see the challenge answered, although I doubt that you are up to the task. I doubt that you, or any of your young followers, have neither the strength, nor the will, nor the intelligence to win such a match.” A sigh came from the council, as did all the villagers who were gathered around. Kantaku too seemed a bit surprised by Makatiku’s willingness to accept his challenge but welcomed his words nonetheless, and the chance to move the event along. “Okay then, let’s get on with it.” “There is one condition, however,” Makatiku added. “Yes?” “I would like to choose my own weapon.” “Weapon?” Kantaku asked. The young Maasai warriors standing behind Kantaku exchanged curious glances. “Yes, I ask that I be allowed to choose my own weapon in this case.” Kantaku looked over at the council. It had been more that fifty years since a challenge for the throne had been decided by a fight with weapons, a fight to the death. The Kenyan and Tanzanian governments had long since outlawed the practice and tribal leaders throughout the Maasai Mara had come to accept the notion of a bloodless succession. “Do you accept my request?” Makatiku asked. “A request for weapons is evidence of your antiquity. You are an old man stuck in old ways.” “Nevertheless, it is in the book of laws, and has never been distorted. Though foreign governments have tried to rid us of our ways, the rules have never changed. It is the challenger’s choice of weapons. But in this case, I ask that I be allowed to choose my own weapon.” Kantaku glanced over at the council again as though expecting some form of intervention from them, but there was none. “I know tradition,” he replied. “Only women and politicians desire weaponless fights. That is one truth you should know by now. It is the warrior in all of us who chooses peace over war, but it is also the warrior who chooses bloodshed over defeat and humiliation, yes?” Makatiku asked. Kantaku then ran his eyes through the crowd of villagers and raised his chest high, presenting himself tall and confident. “I accept, old man!” Makatiku nodded his head pleasingly. And then there was the issue of an aged body? he thought. What an abomination it would be if no animal seeked his meat! In all his years, he had seen it less than a dozen times. And the remembrance


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of Old Nampushi, who had died of some terrible, western disease and had been left in the sun for the buzzards, but no buzzards came. And how a spotted hyena came by and sniffed his dead body and walked past it without even taking a simple bite. This will never do. A corpse rejected by scavengers was seen as having something wrong with it and was cause for great social disgrace. His eyes dropped down to the red dirt beneath him. Nor was burial an option, he knew. It was harmful to the earth. To place a rotting corpse in the ground was to defile the earth! “Also,” he said, “I will need five kilos of ox fat and blood, placed in the care of my good friend Jakaya.” Makatiku turned and looked over at his old friend who sat with the other elders on the high council. Jakaya nodded his head. Kantaku looked at him curiously. “It is not for me,” Makatiku said. Kantaku chuckled. “We will see who it is for, old man. Anything else?” “Nothing.” Kantaku signaled two young boys who hurried away to the butchery to gather the kilos of fat and blood. “And the weapon you will choose?” Kantaku asked, his voice now revealing a tone of disgust. “I would like to know the weapon you choose first. If that’s permittable.” Kantaku looked around at all the villagers, knowing anticipation was building. “Okay, if it is your wish. A long spear,” he said boldly. The young warriors behind him exchanged spirited words, voicing their pleasure at his choice. A long spear was the ideal weapon for mortal combat between two men. Its long shaft enabled a thrust from a great distance. Its barbed headpiece, once in, could not be retrieved, at least not without causing substantial additional damage. And when thrown properly, it could pierce the stretched cowhide of a Maasai shield. “And you?” “A simi.” “A simi?” “Yes, a simi,” Makatiku said firmly. A lively discussion erupted, not only among the young warriors, but among the council members as well. A simi was not a weapon designed for warfare. It was a simple tribal knife with a blade not more than fifteen inches, used ritualistically or for skinning animals. “This is silliness,” Kantaku said.

“It is the weapon I choose.” Kantaku looked back at the warriors behind him. Then he glanced over at the council members. Makatiku sat quietly, joking with the idea in his head.What form of trickery is this? Kantaku thought. All his life he had been taught to be suspicious of gifts from adversaries, and he was weary of Makatiku now, of his deception and cunning. Weapon, a simi was not; yet skillful Makatiku was, in the art of combat and killing. Kantaku’s father had told him all the stories, of how Makatiku had overcome a group of five Kaputiei warriors by hiding in the dead, rotting corpse of a water buffalo, and how he sprung from the corpse with bow and arrows and had killed all of them. And how he had been chased once into a steep canyon by a heard of crazed elephants, only to start an avalanche that crushed and killed most of them. His feats of bravery were legendary and his acts of cunning, something to be weary of. For Makatiku to choose a simi now, Kantaku thought, in a fight that would determine the end of his reign and perhaps the end of his life, surely there was some form of trickery behind it. And he could throw a knife further, Kantaku thought, than the length of any long spear. And its two-sided blade was perfect for finding a place to stick after sailing end over end threw the air. Makatiku sat quietly in his rickety throne, waiting. “And I will take a tall shield,” Kantaku said unflinchingly, “along with my long spear.” Again the warriors behind him nodded their heads and voiced their approval, whispering cheerful words to one another. “It is a wise choice,” was all Makatiku said. A tall shield, two-thirds the length of one’s body, was capable of deflecting a barrage of arrows, he knew. It could easily deflect a single, hand-thrown knife. Despite his arrogance, that which comes along with youth, Makatiku was fond of Kantaku and tolerated his youthful ambitions. Of this new generation of warriors, a generation that Makatiku did not like or understand, with cell phones and a desire to live in cities, Kantaku stood apart. It was he who most cherished the traditional ways. And he was most clever. The others were merely ‘warriors’ in name and appearance, Makatiku thought, who posed for photographs and dressed the part only to satisfy the expectations of the safari lodges. It is not an easy thing, Makatiku thought. To make way for a new generation of warriors, some of whom had exchanged their spears for cricket bats and textbooks, was to accept a contradiction of all he was, and all he knew, and of all his father and grandfathers knew. But this one, perhaps, had a chance, he thought, watching Kan-


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taku’s eyes, if he was forced to eat hyena. He noticed a digital watch on the wrist of one of the warriors. Ah! The New World! It is a pity that life must evolve, and change, and end. And standing way in the back was another young warrior wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap, no doubt given to him by one of the safari tourists. He quickly removed it when he caught Makatiku’s eyes upon him. Yes, too many changes have passed, Makatiku thought. He had seen it all, the erosion of customs over many years, from one government program to another, each designed to strip his people of their traditional ways. And the unstoppable inflow of technology, like a giant dust storm of locus that he could not keep out. Commercial cotton and the synthetic clothing had long since replaced the traditional calf hide and sheep skin, and beadwork, no longer of stone or wood or ivory, was now made of glass or plastic. He glanced down at the feet of the warriors and realized that half of them wore sandals soled with pieces of motorcycle tires, and one even wore a pair of Nikes. And too came the digital age. It was all too much, this new world that invaded his land and swept through his people like a foreign disease. He recalled the electric pumps brought in by the new government to filter their water, and what happened when they broke and they had no water for three days because the unfiltered water now made them sick. And how the doctors poisoned their children with injected medicines, making them ill for one week when they were otherwise well; and how lion hunting was now banned by the Kenyan government. What kind of obscenity is that! And yet he had heard about the recent events in northern Tanzania, tribes of his flesh evicted in favor of fee-paying trophy hunters under a new government plan to create a ‘wildlife corridor.’ We cannot kill lions to protect our herds, yet foreigners can hunt them for trophies? The government had gone so far as to denounce warriorhood, declaring it illegal. It was not a world that Makatiku liked, or wanted to be in. “Bring two tall shields,” Kantaku said confidently to a junior warrior. The young warrior, a boy not more than fifteen years old, went off to gather the weapons. “Wait,” Makatiku said, and the young warrior stopped in his tracks. “It is not what I desire.” Kantaku looked on, waiting. “I would like a short shield,” Makatiku said. The sound of snickering came from the villagers. Again he mocks me! Kantaku thought, running his eyes through the crowd and tightening his upper lip. “Follow his wishes,” he said angrily, and the boy hurried off to

gather the weapons and shields. “Anything else?” “No. It is quite enough.” Nothing more was said, and the boy returned quickly with the simi, the long spear, and the two shields. And now it was time for Makatiku to rise from his thatched throne and face his young challenger. And he did so slowly, feeling the pains of his arthritic joints, but gloriously, rising to a height equal to that of Kantaku. Despite his age of nearly sixty-two years, his broad shoulders and lean muscles were still well-pronounced. His kunga, of red and blue, and pink cotton, wrapped loosely around his trim waist and angled down over one shoulder and across his protruding chest. Everything about him symbolized tradition, and the customs of old, and the seniority of his rank, and the success of his reign; from his graying, long hair, that was woven in thinly braided strands and fell to the middle of his back, to his brightly colored anklets. His earlobes were pierced and stretched in a manner reserved only for royalty, and there was the symbolic beadwork that embellished his body and told of his meritorious past; of a life lived long and fully. The boy handed Makatiku the short knife and the small shield. Makatiku examined the knife, running his finger along the edge of it. It had a finely honed metal blade and a wooden handle with cowhide for a grip. Then he studied the small shield, flipping it over and looking at the face of it. It is correct, he thought. It bared the sirata of a red badge that signified great bravery in battle and was only permitted to be painted on the shields of the highest of chiefs. Still, it was a decorative piece at best with a diameter less than twenty inches, not truly designed for combat. The boy then gave the long spear to Kantaku, and the tall shield. The shield, made of stretched and hardened buffalo hide sewn to a wooden frame, nearly cloaked his entire body. The spear, made of the finest dark ebony wood, held upright in his hand, rose more than a meter above his head. There was laughter among the villagers, and Kantaku realized how ridiculous it must have looked. Makatiku smiled broadly and ran his eyes through the crowd. His considerable stature dwarfed the small shield and simi in scale, even more so than their actual size. He glanced over at the council members and nodded his head appreciatively. Then he raised the shield and knife high above his head to the applause of the villagers. Kantaku waited for the applause to die down. “Now you must answer,” he spoke brazenly. Makatiku stared at him. Could young arrogance really be so fool-


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ish? he thought again. Then, seeing the muscles on Kantaku’s chest and shoulders tighten, Makatiku’s face became gaunt and serious. It is time. He quickly squatted down into a combat stance, holding his small shield firmly in front of his chest and the short knife high and aggressively in his right hand. Kantaku likewise firmed his stance, ducking low behind his large shield and raising the spear in a throwing position. The two men stood there momentarily, opposite one another on a small mound of earth, the old and the new. The time for talk had ended. The differences between the traditional and modern were past them now, and Kantaku did not wait. He was certain Makatiku had a plan and would spring it upon him quickly if he gave him the chance. He wielded his spear way back, holding it cocked high to the side of his head, and with perfect aim, not wanting to give Makatiku time to strike first, he thrust it forward with all his might. At the same moment Kantaku released it, Makatiku dropped his shield and short knife to his side and pushed his chest forward. He stood there poised and relaxed with his chest exposed as if it were impenetrable to the spear. The blade of the barred spearhead flashed in the morning sunlight. All the villagers looked on in wonderment as the spear hit him squarely in the chest, slicing through his flesh and bone and coming out his back. For a perceptible instant, Makatiku remained upright, impaled by the spear. It was as though his body defied gravity, held high by the soul and the pride of a great chief. Then he dropped to the ground, dead. The dazed villagers looked on in disbelief, as did Kantaku. The suddenness of it was shocking. Their great king, the fierce warrior who had fought and won so many battles, had not even lifted a finger to fight. His natural ability to dodge and deflect, and to strike back, failed to invoke at the time he needed it most. Though he had out-witted many opponents in the past, he had left them now without a strategic plan; without the tactical display of brilliance they had all come to expect. Jakaya summoned the young warriors. “Mnakamata!” he said. “Take him.” The spearhead was quickly removed. The entourage of warriors gathered him up, and upon Jakaya’s directions, carried him to a place outside the village, down near where the river flowed out onto the savannah. The five kilos of ox fat and blood was also brought down and set beside the chief’s body.

“Enda!” Jakaya shouted to the young warriors. “Go! Go away!” And they did so, solemnly, without looking back. Jakaya knelt down and took a moment to look over his fallen friend. His face was sullen and old, and had the dark lines that come from oldness. His face was pale and gray with all the signs of death but his expression still revealed a regal presence. He was king, once more, Jakaya thought. And now was cut the umbilical cord between Heaven and Earth. With a wooden ladle, Jakaya covered Makatiku’s body with the ox fat and blood. He covered every inch of it, making sure no place was left exposed. Then he sprinkled the body with beads of black, green, red, yellow and white, which mimicked the colour sequence seen in the animal life cycle. He added more white for the decade of peace he had brought to his tribe; and blue for the water colors, which ran clean and fresh until the machines of government destroyed it; and more red for the warrior’s blood and bravery. “Come feast little Oln’gojine,” Jakaya said. “Come taste the meat of a great warrior.” Jakaya left, back to the village, to the cluster of mud houses where he hung Makatiku’s small, red shield, and his simi, outside his inkajijik. Then he went to join the others in the celebration of the new chief. Though Katanuku sat in the thatched throne in full ceremonial dress, he found no joy in his heart. He had achieved the throne, but had not won a victory. Even in death, Makatiku mocked him. He laughs now, he thought. There, down by the river of life, he revels in laughter! The coronation was quite subdued. Though all the villagers gathered for the festival, it was not full of song and dance like the great celebrations of the past. “It was Makatiku who threw the spear,” one of the villagers said. Katanuku looked down at him and quietly hung his head. “Makatiku is still King,” another villager said. Down by the river Makatiku’s body lay in the hot African sun all day. By late afternoon the tsetse flies had gathered and the smell of the fermenting ox blood rose across the savannah. Before the sun had completely set, three spotted hyenas came across him. They encircled him and sniffed the earth around him, and the kunga that wrapped him. Their nostrils filled with the scent of human, but there was also the smell of the ox blood and fat, and when they tasted the meat, they found it to be unique and flavorsome. On through the night they feasted, gnawing down on the bone and flesh and stealing chunks from one another. By morning when the villagers returned, nothing remained of Makatiku but a stain on the earth.


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Suddenness There are moments in the wind when you hear below the sound. The words you have built around you no longer suffice


and the mysteries you have hidden from slide toward you just a small degree, just a little bit and you are caught in a dilemma of distances: how far to withdraw how far to love here in this suddenness that has offered itself not even knowing you, already gone into the far fields, over the long sheen of Woods Lake where you learned your childhood.

Doug Bolling

Santiago - The Rope’s End Levi Bollinger

He sits reclined and spent in gilded tent with champagne bottle emptied, girl de-clothed and sleeping. His gnarled toes which rope has bent and torqued through years of nightly torment soak in baths of salt. He sees her breathe and counts: how many now—through all the nights and all the heights and all the champagne after? Flaunted fame and hollow smiles and easy dolls defined his life, but Santiago now is reeling—steps are hobbled, bank accounts drawn dry. In frowns he sips and ponders how a life on wires scorning nets amounts to fame and frills and then, prodigal ruin: he knows the fall from heights is quick, and soon.


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Levi Bollinger

Elodia sits in sifted rags and dangling gold coins for her bit, for an act, for the past might claw and drag her back. Within velvet drapes over dust and cigarette butts, lit candles leave shadows deep and organ chords black. Crooked teeth cackle into crystal orb as she chants the mystery rites, stares to summon mists packed


into gleaming glass, probes the depths to beckon scant glimpses of dubious futures—smoke to slough her past. She conjures billows, charms glows, mumbles rants, slides splayed hands in obscure orbit over glassed surface hoping foggy visions sate the acned faces gawking on in rapt rapport, peering into crystal aghast: They trust her gaze will range forbidden places, that pulsing mantras spun for crinkled bills forked from sweaty palms somehow unearth the buried traces of seeded fate. None suspects her past, her nerves worked raw over floor and stove of stale flat with rank sink and fat man reeking vodka and onion whose greasy fingers jerked her hair and forced her blouse apart—the husband that found flat’s door ajar, winter drifting in: Elodia split, found bliss rolling futures past present eyes for cash.

Nineteenth Century Execution Photos

Stephen Gibson

In this one, from Japan, the sword so quickly severs the head it’s as if the condemned’s face only feels a breeze touching him. This one, French Indochina, a young male, bound at the elbows, grins up at his captors from a rice paddy (it won’t save him). This grainy print dates back to the Mexican-American War: that’s a prisoner against a wall, the U.S Army taking aim at him. In Gardner’s photo, Atzerodt stares wide-eyed at Mary Surratt as they adjust her noose; he understands, finally, it will soon be him. In this one, of an undated lynching in Mississippi, residents point to the body in the tree so the photographer (and we) won’t miss him.


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Pretzel Knots

Etanna Zak


Charles It was November when my housemate mentioned that the Bavarian Bakery was looking for people to work in their Berkeley storefront. She gave me Charles’s number. When I arrived at the warehouse in Hunters Point where all of the baking was done, Charles led me into a cramped office with a worn in couch upholstered in brown vinyl. Following him in, I took stock of his marshmallow pallor and fleshy build. He was reasonably tall with pale blue eyes and hair that danced between sandy blonde and golden brown. He wore a loose t-shirt and gray sweat pants. I recalled seeing the company owner, Deiter, dressed similarly more than a year ago, and I imagined that Charles, like any good apprentice, was modeling himself after the master. This detail made me dislike him. I pegged him as a sycophantic moron. **** In front of the couch a desk faced the wall and at the desk sat Dieter himself counting money in front of the computer monitor. Charles and I squeezed into the office and sat on the couch together, bodies turned slightly and somewhat awkwardly towards each other. Dieter continued to count money as Charles spoke of the job requirements which mainly involved showing up on time. Charles tended to mumble. He spoke accusingly upon the issue of punctuality as if I was destined to follow in the footsteps of the chronically late employee he kept mentioning. In my memories of his soft white face and large hands, I fail to discover which feature or mannerism triggered the reaction, but I determined in this meeting that Charles was an idiot. I couldn’t fathom how he had become the manager of Dieter’s store. At some point Dieter twisted around in his office chair to join the conversation and we agreed that I would take the job. **** I pondered Charles. Sitting alone in the store on a cold winter afternoon, I watched leaves being crushed under pedestrians’ boot heels on the sidewalk outside and mulled over every fact I had collected about him. I imagined loving Charles, imagined a lifetime of soft fleshy embraces with him. My impression of him softened after this exercise. I learned to decipher his mumbling, to relax my own stan-

dards to allow for the existence of Charles. I liked him, even missed him after he delivered the bread in the morning and left me alone with the orange walls and danishes under glass and tangled knots of bread begging to be released from their contortions by complete consumption. It seemed that he began to stand unusually close to me as he explained the operation of the bread slicer or the constitution of Obatzda. There was a repeated ballet of Charles and me squeezing in and out of tight spaces, always moving in opposite directions. One day as he left I ran out of the store after him. He was already crossing the street. “Charles!” I called. He stopped in the middle of the street to look at me. A car was rushing towards him and nearly hit him. He barely stepped out of the way. My heart stopped. A vulnerable bewildered look fell over his face as he stumbled out of the way of a second car and back towards me. My hand clapped over my mouth. The other hand grasped at my racing heart. Dennis It began with a very simple experiment in expanding my usage of the word ‘friend.’ My mechanical habit had been to keep my heart closed, to assume the worst with regard to others. Growing up, I had been told by my father that I had no friends, only acquaintances. He insisted that I would likely never have friends and that I would never be able to count on anything except family. I have carried this voice within me, coloring my perception of the other, of the entire sea of possibilities that exist in any given moment. One day, thirty years into my experience of life, I thought: why not use the word ‘friends?’ Another boss for whom I worked at the farmer’s market introduced me to people as his friend and it was this that got me thinking, why not? Rather than there being no friends, why couldn’t there be many different types of friends? **** I was working once a week on Tuesdays in the storefront of the Bavarian bakery. This is an important symbolic detail. My father is German. The store became symbolic of my cultural and ancestral roots. I went right into the heart of my origin and it was there, standing beneath a portrait of Ludwig the II, listening to the lilting yodeling echoing between the orange walls and dark wooden cabinetry, that I began to unravel the pretzel knots binding my own personal heart. One day a customer asked me about the owners and I said, “They’re friends of mine.” He was a short man with broad stooped shoulders and soft look-


FLARE: The Flagler Review ing skin. He wore his hair in a long gray ponytail under a baseball cap. There was a definite gap between his two front teeth, which showed frequently when he smiled or laughed. His complexion, the silver of his hair, and his rounded posture made him seem like a soft, jovial, man in the moon. It seemed as if he might be mildly skeptical of my friendship with my employers, but in the end he said with his gently sand papered voice, “Maybe we could be friends.” And I said, “Yes.”


The Stranger December nights are the blackest. The bakery had been silent for an hour before closing. I scurried like a small animal to close shop before any wolves came out of the night and found me alone, a pale thing, a little white rabbit alone with a plastic box full of cold hard cash and baskets of unwanted pastries. Hot coffee down the drain. Danish into the garbage. I used to save it for a cold beggar that I might meet between the bakery and the BART station, like a fairy tale. Slowly I was learning better. This forest built of Berkeley streets was not the one where you met a good fairy disguised as an old beggar woman. It was the sort where that creature in rags leaning in the corner was a witch who would abuse your good nature and then eat you. I locked the door and hurried off into the darkness, rushing through the Black Forest with a bag of pretzels for my children. I had not learned all of the rules of the forest yet. They had not become fully realized in my mind; certainly the rules were not yet habitual. **** That is why when the large hooded figure came towards me through the darkness, I looked into the bright white eyes set in the shadowy face. He was looking at me and I looked back. I had broken the first rule of the forest: never make eye contact. As he passed he said, “Am I bothering you?” “Not yet,” I answered glibly and strode briskly onward. I had broken the second rule: never speak to strangers in the Black Forest. He turned on his heels and began to follow close behind me. I could smell the stench of booze on his breath as he spoke to me, asking me where I was going, if I liked to party, what was the hurry, I was a pretty thing, he had something to show me… **** I could see the stairs ahead leading into the BART station. No one else was going in or coming out. There was a long stretch of stair where he could follow, a landing where he could catch hold of me and

no one would see what he had to show me before more stairs would finally lead to the domain of the BART personnel. To my right I saw a door, glowing bright. Without hesitation I stepped through the doorway into the radiance of the comic book store. The champions and guides of other worlds and dimensions crowded around me, hid me as I moved deeper into their sanctuary. The hooded figure dared not follow me there. I was safe. Dennis We played a game of chess once. The day we met I saw the fool in him. I saw the fool and remembered how I had let the fool go before, how I had been blind not to accept the heart of the fool once before. This time I vowed to be present as much as I could. We played a game of chess, just as I once had played chess with the fool in sunny Canyon Crest, in the coffee shop next door to bliss. When we played during that first incarnation, I was still a caged animal. I tried to beat him. It was my father who taught me to play this game, my father who had stressed the importance of winning, of cold diabolical logic. Chess is a game of kings and queens, of positioning, of punishment, of folly, of usurping power, and of domination and destruction. Red and black, red and black. Slowly you are blocked into a corner; slowly you are brought to your knees. Lost, you capitulate, yielding to the will of the ruthless other. When we played in that first incarnation I played as my father. I played against my father. I played to win. **** The fool never minded losing and so he won more often than not. He never played to win. He played to play with me. He played to touch the pieces. He played to move over red and black, red and black. He would turn the board spontaneously as we played, forcing me to move his pieces while he moved mine, then he would switch again and again, so that it was unclear whose pieces were whose, so that no one could win and no one could lose–we could only play. He would move his pieces without thinking while I struggled to envision moves of the future, his and mine, vying to take control while he tried to lose it, dancing over the edge of red and black. Emily I don’t remember what Emily looked like, or even the sound of her voice. She was hesitant–I remember that. She was shy and nervous when she came in to inquire about job openings. “We’re still looking for more people if you know anyone, have any friends who need a job.”


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That’s what Charles said. An expanded definition of friend. I don’t remember what Emily looked like, or even the sound of her voice. She had been a member of Ameri-Corps, building houses in New Orleans. Now she lived nearby with her aunt and uncle. In high school she was involved with the theater department. I asked her for her number and called Charles after she left. “I know someone if you’re still looking for people. Her name is Emily.” After a month passed I began to notice neat lettering on the chalkboard: bubbly letters spelling out the name of the bakery. One day as Charles outlined a sign he wanted me to create, I asked whose writing was on the board. “Emily’s.” “My Emily?” “Yeah.” I never saw Emily again. I don’t remember what she looked like, or even the sound of her voice. I remember neat bubbly chalk letters on a blackboard. Dave His stories were of train rides, motels, easy women, and of his first wife taking off with his best friend, then the two returning when their love turned sour. She was his wife first, then his best friend’s wife, until they came back and signed their divorce papers with him as a witness. Then they crashed at his place for the night so he hooked up with his old lady again before the ink could dry. But it didn’t last the second time either and she went away again, and so did the best friend, going his own way off to Tibet. He never saw the best friend again, but he did receive word when he died. **** In his youth he had been a chauffeur to an older German woman who admonished him to cut his hair. At that time a chauffeur did more than drive: he had to be a first rate mechanic and a bodyguard. So, he was. In her rose garden they labored together to create hybrid specimens of great beauty. Whenever he bought spare parts for his car, he bought some for hers as well, a 1939 Lincoln limousine. He used to jam with Carlos Santana, now he couldn’t get in touch with him. Nobody. That’s who knew him, who loved him now, after a youth squandered in motels and train cars with booze and loose ladies. Nonetheless, he talked about the old days with relish, those dirty lost days that had deposited him at last in this wheelchair wearing a

filthy baseball cap with the tag still attached. Lustfully he reminisced over the lifestyle that left him crippled and telling the story of his exploits to a stranger over a basket heaped with pretzel knots. Dennis and I were sitting at our table by the window when he wheeled in. I served him. I moved a chair so he could wheel up to a table. I didn’t charge him full price. I returned to my table with Dennis and we resumed our conversation. “Excuse me,” he interrupted. That’s when he launched into his story. We let him talk, the tiny blue recorder capturing his words, his voice, his life. His leg had been cut off by a muni in a hit and run incident. Now no one wanted him. He began to cry. I gave him a napkin. Dennis left for work. The man in the wheelchair remained. **** No one else came or went. “Was that your husband?” he asked. “No, just a good friend.“ Suddenly he was more eager than ever to tell me stories of his once glorious sexual conquests. I began to clean the tables, opened the front door for him to exit and thanked him for his patronage, but he remained. I tried again to say goodbye, this time with a namaste. That was when he started to scream that no one wanted to touch him, no woman wanted to be with him, he had loved women but he had never needed women and now that he needed a woman, he couldn’t have anybody, and he hated God’s guts for that, he wasn’t gonna pray to that idiot anymore, whoever it was, whatever it was, he didn’t know, he came on to a woman at work, but he was a bad doggie barking up the wrong tree, all he could get was a smile, now his mother was dying, his nit wit brother was a multimillionaire, he couldn’t believe in his luck, he had worked with Carlos Santana, damn it, in the damned 60’s 70’s and 80’s he could always find people to make music with, now there was no one to make music with, no one to get into a love tryst with, no one had any damn time, or they were afraid of intimacy, he was half French, man, for the French every damned thing they did was intimate, the way they washed their clothes and darned their socks and scratched their butts, it was all intimate, if you said the word intimacy here you were a pansy, Americans were just stupid idiots, he couldn’t stand them anymore, the only damn damned, reason he was in the Bay Area was because he met people from different countries, here he just freaked the hell out, he felt lonely and isolated, if he hadn’t had to work so hard, to beat the damn idiots up to defend his life, he’d slit his damn wrists or take an overdose of sleeping pills, this was no where, man, he hated churches, he hated religion, he didn’t want to hear anything about this anymore.


FLARE: The Flagler Review And I was transported to my childhood. I stood like a deer in the headlights: still, eyes wide, silent. His tirade washed over me, pierced my heart like silver bullets. Whatever magical creature I had been before, now the magic was bleeding away. I was nobody. I was the psychic punching bag…those same words… The horror of it, that he used the same words that had once spilled in torrents from my father’s lips. Here it was, happening again in the symbolic heart of my ancestry, in the Bavarian bakery, violent, poisonous rage set to the music of the Alps. Yodeling and harp music and “line them all up against a wall and blow their goddamned brains out…”


Walter Richard Patton Walter Richard Patton was a very wrinkled old man with gnarled hands and a bent back. The strong odor of antiques rose off of his skin and clothes, distinct and unpleasant. In high school he reversed the order of his first and middle name and came to be known by all as Dick or Dickie. Over a carefully chosen danish, Dick, suddenly and unprompted, entrusted me with his story. **** His grandmother came from Austria with her husband and their family. Her brother in law brought his family at the same time, but after passing through Ellis Island, the two brothers would never be together again. They simply lost one another in the strange new world. Dick’s father died in Chicago the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed. The next day his younger brother, Arthur, came to him and said he wanted to join the Navy. Arthur was 16 years old at the time. Dick helped him to alter his baptismal record by changing a 5 to a 3, thus helping his younger brother to gain enough years to enlist. Dick himself joined the Navy shortly after their family moved to Utah. **** When Dick came out of the Navy he found himself in California. He could never bring himself to return to his family’s home. There was a reason for this. In 1945 Arthur was lost off the coast of a small island in the South Pacific. Dick felt responsible. He was the one, after all, who had changed that 5 to a 3. The two brothers would never be together again and Dick, unable to face his family, was lost in a strange new world. Dick was a very wrinkled old man sitting alone with an almond danish, giving the story of his life to me in a Bavarian cafe on University Ave. His grandmother had been born in Austria. This was as close to home as he could now get.

Dennis The first time that we sat together at one of the little round tables, Dennis told me that we should love our friends with the greatest intensity possible, from whatever distance was necessary. He came to visit me in the bakery every Tuesday. We sat at a table in the front window and talked. I began to bring a recorder to capture our conversations. I listened as carefully as I could manage with what power of attention I possessed at the time. He noticed. Our eyes opened to each other like windows so our spirits could drift with ease from one house to the other to take a look around. Then our hearts unfurled their wings so that they could bear themselves to each other as we spoke and listened. Three Travelers Darkness outside, silence within. The sound of an industrial refrigerator struggling to keep its insides cool. Bavarian folk music echoing softly through the empty space. The hour hand slowly chasing the minute hand across the face of the great cracked clock; only thirty minutes to go. They came through the door then, causing the bell that hung overhead to jingle. Two young men and one woman approaching the counter in an aura of rowdy glee. The woman was petite, her hair dark and curly. There was something manly in her harsh tone of voice and self-assuredness, a soldier under her flowery guise. Both men were taller than she. One wore his hair in dreads that hung like rope about his shoulders. His face was broad and smooth and innocent. The other, slightly shorter than the first, had dark curly hair and a grizzled face. He smiled like a devil and there was music and mischief in his voice. All were lean and clad in colorful rags that gave them the appearance of medieval troubadours. They discussed the breads with an accent I couldn’t place. “Let’s get this one,” the dark devilish little man would say and the petite woman would respond, “But we are leaving tomorrow.” “Get croissants then,” the fair man would suggest. “But we are leaving tomorrow.” “Yes, but we will have to eat breakfast,” the dark devilish man would insist. “Croissants then,” the fair man would repeat. “But we are leaving tomorrow.” “We can take it with us,” the dark devilish man would protest. “Why not croissants then? We can take them with us,” the fair man would say. “Fine. Croissants. How much are the croissants?” the dark devilish man asked me at last.


FLARE: The Flagler Review When I told him he whistled at the price. “Where are you from?” I asked them. “Israel,” the petite woman told me. “I’m closing soon. You can take all of the croissants for half price.” “Really?” This interested the dark devilish man. The three calculated the cost and agreed that they could have croissants for breakfast and could take what was left with them; they were leaving tomorrow.


The Ants They had no fear. Walking through the front door they marched up the leg of the marble topped table and danced in neat lines up the wing of a porcelain duck whose hollowed insides constituted the sugar bowl. Drunk on sticky snow, they staggered up the dark wood sides of the counter: up, up, up to the graceful silver leg of the platter and shimmied under the clear plastic lid. Almond danish, cherry danish, chocolate croissant. They dove into pools of fruit jelly, lounged in the shade of almond slivers, hiked ravines of drizzled chocolate, and then fell dizzy from their gluttonous orgies onto the lacy trim of white paper doilies. They had no fear. Gorged to sloth they ceased to march and merely lay about on the soft pillows of croissant and deep beds of caramelized sugar. **** Daily they dared to trespass and daily I killed them by the thousands, drowning them in a deluge of window cleaner sprayed from a safe distance. “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds!” I’d shout, unleashing my clean wet aquamarine wrath. They stuck to the table legs. Neat lines of dead bodies, drying on counter tops and floors, waiting for me to wipe them away, erasing any sign of their existence until a new day dawned and they returned, a multitude, singular in resolve. They had no fear. What was death to a thousand? A thousand more would come. One life or a thousand lives, it was the same to them. They had no fear. **** They waited till the door was locked and I had gone away, marching towards my own sugar bowl in the distance. Swarming in the empty boxes left on the counter top, they would wait for Charles to arrive, bleary eyed with cow-licked hair waving to the ceiling. In the morning chill he would wear a supple black leather coat that hung just below his hips over his sweat pants and t-shirt. “Shh. Be still,” they would whisper, and clump together to disguise themselves as raisins, and Charles, yawning, would carry them in the boxes and load them into the back of his car. He’d have no time to drop the boxes off at the warehouse in Hunter’s Point before his

classes. After classes, he’d have no time to return home for rest before work. Unsuspecting, he’d drop his books onto the passenger seat and adjust his own to a reclining position. **** A stretch, a yawn, and his lids would close over red streaked eyes. As sleep overtook him they’d launch their assault, marching up his legs, crawling through the forests of his hair, searching for soft marshmallow flesh to pillow their hard bodies. Dizzy from a day of feasting on crumbs inside boxes, they’d come to tickle his lashes and taste his cheeks. They had no hesitations about parking in cars with strange men. Their hunger knew no bounds. “Charles! Charles!” they’d murmur and eat him up, tiny black bodies exploring the pale mountains of his flesh, clinging to his warmth and washing their palates clean with his sweat. Kevin (Pretzels and Nuns) He bought his first pretzel from the good sisters for a quarter when he was just a boy in Philadelphia. We met over two salted pretzels every Tuesday. An intelligent man in a tasteful suit, he was of a reserved and dignified bearing. His voice was distinctive, both musical and soft. His spectacles were of the modern variety, almost invisible rectangles of glass suspended on lackluster silver wire. His hair matched the wire of his spectacles and was worn neatly trimmed with just the right amount of product applied to give it life. He had gone through the seminary to become a priest, so great had been the impression of the nuns and their pretzels upon him. He worked now in an office for a non-profit. No longer a priest, he took the sacrament on Tuesdays; two pretzels would fly away with him in a paper bag, two pretzels like the two nuns from his childhood, carried off to a cubicle to do the good work, bite by bite. Dennis Moonlight spilling over silver hair and his soft pale face. Rain drumming on the window. Eyes wide and round, hearts soft, the knots undone. Friend. A harmless word that had been stricken from my vocabulary. A word that had choked me. A word whose absence had burned and ached like an infected knife wound. Friend. Now glowing, now rolling off the tongue hot and sparkling, now holding my hand as we look around at the orange walls of my barbarian heart. The dark wood tables and chairs, our table in the window, strings of light overhead, the silver and gold leaves glazed on the stone floor, cabinets full of pretzels, a portrait of Ludwig. My ancestors are silent. I am making them now, bending them into the shape of my new heart, a heart


FLARE: The Flagler Review filled with love, a heart forged with will. I turn off the lights and we drink water from the tap out of a Styrofoam cup, moon white. I lock the doors one last time, sealing the beauty in forever and we dash out into the rain, shoulder-to-shoulder, heads bent, arms locked, shivering. Friends.

50 On the cover:

Shadow Person, 1 Amelia Eldridge

7� x 15� Charcoal sketch

Mineko Iwasaki

Laura Kammermann


24” x 24” Oil on wood

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Betrothal of the Virgins Dmitry Borshch


25” x 20” Ink on paper

Ancestral Swamp Matthew Batty


37� x 37� Screen print, charcoal, and pastel on found wood

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Brittany Bertazon


5” x 5” Acrylic paint on canvas


Matthew Porubsky

Fringe of contact we shore up even-tide. Earth, sky eyes link in slip, anchor to beach concrete.

Dilated hunger, black circles,

openings to alternate onces. Meeting again is a bloom, heart speed, solar flare, tree- shade cool. An instant is long, enough.


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Thirteen Gothic Tales M.V. Montgomery

Strange Customs A dream I was going through customs and required to check my body parts. Organs and grotesque growths were lined up in blue-gray bins on a conveyor belt. I felt somewhat purged by the whole process until I caught a glimpse of myself on the overhead screen: withered, somewhat mousy-looking, with sunken mouth and small animal teeth. Soon afterwards, I had to give the bins my full attention—several strangers were examining my organs as if they wished to steal them.


Endless Summer A theatre at a tourist destination only seemed to play one movie, a not-too-terrible beach flick that had been the late founder’s favorite. A new employee, I dutifully gathered with other workers for many days around noon to watch this film before raising the question of whether the projector could play anything else. For some reason, no one knew the answer, and the daily screening had already started by the time I approached the projectionist’s booth to ask her. She, not surprisingly, had left the theatre on a very long break.

The Beast Within Once you start thinking of your house’s guts, it’s kind of hard to stop. The veneer of your home-life is exposed when a plumber takes out a saw and asks, can he cut a hole here or here, and then neatly slices through drywall. The world beyond looks rather like the engine room of a submarine. And you marvel how those pipes hummed past the silent portrait of your kid, past an indifferent jade plant, through every smooth cube of a room. Or when a mass of cable is snaked out from the baseboards, you ask yourself numbly, Where did those wires come from? Did they always crackle with deadly force below that end table, with its lamp and comforting bric-a-brac? Once I read a story about a man who came to think his own skeleton an alien entity, had it extracted bone-by-bone by a witch doctor until he was left a jellyfish with no working parts. As though the scaffolding of evolution was only a messy business to get past, and ultimately you could be stripped down to near-nothingness, a nodule of spirit beneath the casing of flesh.


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After Breaking

Richard King Perkins II

A year from now, and nights like pulsing red will dispel below a thunderous elevation. A woman never known frowns as she passes by, eyes turned down, refusing to be counted. As you remain still in your cold chair; shutters, flowerbeds, the stone path— blanch or darken beneath the sun.


Possibility charms you like illness. You stand on your Moroccan carpet waiting for messages to arrive though nothing will be altered but your art nouveau hand mirror, its flourished scrollwork. You are winning the war against electricity, though examples are rare. I have removed your virus from being viral, with spit and elbow grease. On most mornings, I find myself dressing in front of a portal to imagined lands. My creator has made me imperfectly or I am simply unmade.

I am organic circuitry without purpose, undeserving of praise or condemnation, no more able to stop the next word from being written than you are to stop reading. When you choose to see me again, you will not care if free will is an illusion or not. But in that other world, I will have witnessed you in the thousands— only because I must.


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The Education of Florence Duensing

Lawrence F. Farrar


Alone in her living room at 3:00 in the afternoon, Florence Duensing turned on an old I Love Lucy rerun. She rearranged a small stack of magazines on the coffee table. She misted a collection of plants clustered below the picture window. She dusted and polished the dining room table for a second time. Then she returned to the flowered sofa and the television set to stare at the flickering animations in a children’s cartoon. Five minutes later, she again got to her feet, pulled back a drape, and peered outside. The brilliant autumn sky forced her to squint as she surveyed the maples and oaks shedding remnants of their summer attire and carpeting the lawn in red and yellow. The middle-aged woman across the way, a scarf bound around her head, was raking leaves. Lorraine or Maureen—something like that. She seemed nice, Florence thought. One of the few times they had spoken, the woman mentioned to Florence that she volunteered at a hospital. It must have been rewarding to bask in the warm, appreciative smiles of the patients. Florence wished she could do something like that, get out and do good for somebody. But, when she broached the idea of contacting the hospital, her husband, Glen, displayed his most unpleasant self and told her it was a stupid idea. He didn’t say it directly, but she understood. “There’s no need to go gallivanting around,” he said. “Isn’t what I provide right here good enough for you? We have a nice rambler in a nice neighborhood on a nice cul-de-sac. And didn’t I buy you that 21inch television set you wanted? Besides, you’ve got plenty to keep you busy at home.” Florence knew exactly what he meant about staying busy at home. Glen liked everything well-kept: his shirts laundered and starched in a precise manner, the kitchen sparkling, and the blinds dust free. Things like that pleased him. Things not like that did not please him. And she was the keeper of the well-kept. She longed to tell him that she felt cooped up, that she was leading an empty, purposeless life. But, since it made her uneasy if he even he raised his voice, she said nothing more about trying to do something for someone.

Monday through Friday Glen breezed through the door at 5:30, home from the office. Within five minutes of making his entrance, he would pop open a Miller, plunk down in his favorite easy chair, flip on the television, and look fixedly at whatever happened to be on. At 6:00, dinner had better be ready or Florence would hear a cranky “what’s the holdup?” from the living room. Once at the table, Glen demonstrated a striking ability to consume an entire meal without ever emerging from behind his paper, a location where he devoted himself first to the sports pages then to the comics. Florence reckoned the last time they’d had a significant dinner conversation had been years earlier. Florence had married Glen ten years before, in 1985. A plain young woman with pale blue eyes, thin wristed, and somewhat fragile-looking, she’d not had many dates, although everyone agreed she was a nice girl, a kindhearted girl. Self-confidence had never been her strong suit. So when Glen, who scooped her up when she fell at a roller rink, asked her to marry him, she said yes immediately. There might not be another chance. Glen was slim and good looking—at least Florence thought so— with slicked back hair. Just out of the Air Force, he already had an office job at the phone company, and promised her he’d be a good provider. He delivered on that promise; she never wanted for things. But, her mind regularly wandered in a world far away, in the world that lay beyond her rambler window. She could find no words for what she wanted to say, but somehow she felt the need to instill meaning in her life. She wanted to contribute. She just didn’t know how. **** On Monday morning, before he left for work in his new Buick, Glen routinely handed Florence a shopping list. That afternoon, she drove their old maroon Pontiac to a nearby Wal-Mart. Despite the prospect of Glen’s complaining if she failed to fetch all the items on his list, she looked forward to those weekly outings. She supposed the employees were merely doing what they were paid to do; nonetheless, she savored their words of welcome, the sense that they valued her business. It occurred to her she might enjoy wearing a blue vest and greeting customers herself. October resisted the onset of November without success. Sinking temperatures and possible snow flurries dominated the local forecasts. The ashen sky weighed down with oppressive clouds, and, as Florence stepped out of the car, a chilly, cutting wind nibbled at her face. She tugged up her coat collar and set out for the welcoming confines of the big box. “Hey, lady, could you spare a little money? It’s mighty cold and


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we could sure go for some hot soup.” The twangy voice emanated from a large woman with large eyes and a large nose. Her unkempt brown hair rose in tufts, like clumps of dead grass. In unmatched gray and pink sweats, which might well have been retrieved from a dumpster, she completed her ensemble with dirty red tennis shoes. When Florence pivoted in response to the voice, a man with a little girl clutching his hand emerged from behind a van. The man walked stiffly, as if experiencing pain. Florence’s first inclination was to retreat. “I’m sorry we don’t give...” Glen might just as well have been there looking over her shoulder. “I don’t think you’re supposed to be...” “We’re outta work and our car broke down and...” the man said. He was emaciated and washed out with red-rimmed eyesand ragged jeans. He had worked his stringy blond hair into a pathetic pony tail, which Florence supposed complemented his beat-up leather jacket. He struck her as a biker without a bike. At first she believed he had a speech impediment; then she realized several missing teeth accounted for his lisp. “I’m sorry, but...” Florence said. She wanted to be on her way. No, she wanted to flee; these people made her uncomfortable. Then, gently tugging on Florence’s sleeve, the girl captured her attention. She looked vulnerable with innocent, pleading eyes. Perhaps eight or nine, bone-thin, she shivered in the cold. “We hope somebody will love us,” the child said. She smiled shyly. “Will you love us, lady?” How could Florence say no? She opened her purse and extracted her wallet. From it she handed the woman a ten dollar bill. Glen didn’t have to know. “God bless,” the woman said. “God bless,” the man and girl said in chorus. Florence hurried into the store without looking back. It felt good to lend someone a helping hand, even if only in a modest way. She envisioned the girl happily spooning up thick, steaming soup. She thought she might encounter the trio when she returned, but by the time she pushed her purchases out to the car, near darkness shrouded the lot and they had disappeared. Florence didn’t know much about homeless people. When he said anything at all about them, Glen declared them to be shiftless bums at best or, more likely, crooks out to take advantage of bleeding heart do-gooders. If she ran into any of them, he said, she should look right through them and keep on going. But he hadn’t seen that little girl’s sad eyes. The eyes

intrigued her. The eyes haunted her. Perhaps she could have given the woman a bit more. That evening Florence said, “I was thinking maybe I could volunteer at the county food shelf.” “What inspired that?” Glen said while settling in front of the television set. “Damn, I missed the kickoff. They must have started early.” “Oh, nothing special. I just thought it might be something I could do.” “You sure come up with some doozies, Flo. Do you know what kind of people go to those places? Panhandlers, junkies, people with— I don’t know—some kinds of disease. That’s who.” “I just thought maybe–” “Hey, I had a hard day. Okay?” He gave her a look of blank indifference, shook his head, and returned his attention to the game. “Come on, ref! It was incomplete!” So Florence filed away the idea of volunteering at the food shelf in a mental locker already brimming with might have beens but never weres. **** Two weeks later, as Florence swung out of the Wal-Mart parking lot, she spotted the family again. They had positioned themselves just off the store’s property and huddled like castaways at the base of a tree, its bare black branches outlined against a blue-gray sky. The man displayed a tattered cardboard sign reading: Homeless, please help. Florence pulled the Pontiac around the corner, stopped, and got out. It was an impetuous act by a woman not given to impetuous acts. Signs of recognition crossed the haggard faces of the roadside beggars, and the child’s smile engaged Florence as it had the first time they met. Florence approached them, her voice a bit tremulous, and said, “I’m Florence Duensing. I don’t mean to intrude, but I wondered if I could be of some help.” The man and woman exchanged what Florence took to be looks of relief. The woman said, “I’m Jenny Mews, and this is Henry. He’s a little uneasy around strangers.” The man struggled to light a cigarette stub, cupping his match in shaking hands to fend off the persistent wind. “And who might you be?” Florence said to the girl. “I’m Rose,” the child replied and began to cough, seemingly unable to utter an additional word. First the cough came in little bursts, and then it became spasmodic. “My goodness,” Florence said. “That sounds bad. Has she had it long?”


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“A couple of days,” Jenny said. “We surely would like to have her see a doctor.” “Well, why haven’t you taken her...” It occurred to Florence they didn’t have the money. “We been staying at the Open Arms Shelter, and we was thinking of going over to that big hospital on the other side of town. Try to get her in the ER.” “Where’s your car?” “Oh, it’s in the impound lot. Some guy towed it ‘cause we hadn’t moved it. Course we couldn’t move it, ‘cause it wouldn’t start.” Jenny laughed. “Don’t that beat all?” “Then how did you get here today?” “Guy at the shelter has a car dropped us off. Supposed to come back. But never did.” Florence lifted her coat sleeve and glanced at her watch. Plenty of time. “Why don’t I give you a ride over to the hospital? No telling how long you’ll have to wait for a cab here. It’s too cold.” “You’ve already done us a favor before,” Jenny said. “It’s no bother. But I can’t wait for you. I have to get home.” The man and woman again exchanged glances. “We’d be much obliged,” Jenny said. During the twenty minute ride, Florence’s nerves fluttered and her palms perspired against the steering wheel. Dealing with people like these lay totally outside her experience; they could, as far as she was concerned, have been beamed down to earth from some alien planet. The air in the car was soon rife with a salty amalgamation of body odors. Florence cracked a window. She felt light-headed. Nonetheless a sense of well-being rippled through her. Like her neighbor, Florence was helping people. Perhaps those vile odors penetrating her nostrils were really only those of failure and despair. Whatever Glen might think, she was making a contribution to...well, to humanity. It felt good. They had a desultory conversation during the trip to the hospital, one punctuated by the girl’s coughing. The Mews’ story, commonplace enough for most people, intrigued Florence. The couple told Florence they’d traveled north to stay with a cousin outside Chicago. That was after Henry hurt his back and had to give up his job as a sanitation truck helper. The cousin turned out to be mean and low-down. Tried to squeeze them for what little they had and finally forced them out. Now they wanted to find an honest job one of them could do and maybe get a little apartment. And the child needed to go to school. She’d been doing fine until she had to drop out. After Florence pulled up under the portico marked EMERGENCY

ENTRANCE, she said, “Take care, now.” “We sure do appreciate the lift, lady,” Jenny said. “We’ll hitch a ride back to the Open Arms.” “Oh, no,” Florence said. “Here. I’ll spare you a little for a taxi.” She handed Jenny ten dollars, then pushed another twenty into her hand for any prescription they might have to pick up. Driving away, she watched them in her rear view mirror as they trooped into the hospital. **** Despite her best efforts at maneuvering through rush hour traffic, Florence arrived home late, barely crossing the threshold ahead of Glen. She stood before a cupboard still putting away the groceries when he strode into the kitchen. “You’re running late, Flo. What took you so long?” “Oh, it’s kind of a long story.” She wanted to fend him off, but she lacked sufficient guile to manipulate her answer. “Go ahead, you can tell me while you’re fixing dinner. I’m damn hungry by the way.” Glen loosened his tie and, beer can in hand, straddled a chair while she shuffled around the kitchen. “Well? I’m waiting.” “I ran into some homeless people when I came out of the WalMart. They had a sick child—and needed a ride—and I took them to the hospital—and...” Any mention of her previous encounter got lost in the confused telling. Florence also neglected any mention of handing over cash. “What the hell are you talking about? What got into you? That’s what I want to know.” “The little girl was coughing, and seemed so sad. I just wanted to help. That’s all.” Glen shook his head disdainfully. “This is the dumbest thing yet. What were you thinking?” “She had a smile sweet sweet as...I don’t know what,” Florence said. “But it was so sweet it just melted your heart.” “What were you thinking?” Glen said again and glared at his wife. “I just wanted to help, I...It seemed like they needed a helping hand.” “Haven’t I told you to mind your own business? I hope you didn’t give them any money.” “Oh, no...Well, just a few dollars.” “Jesus...What’s for dinner? I’m hungry.”


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Florence avoided looking at her husband who continued to glower. **** Florence didn’t tell Glen when she drove Jenny and Rose out to the Valley Mall so she could buy the girl some school clothes. Fearful Glen might catch the purchases on a credit card bill, she paid cash. The same held true when she and Jenny traveled to the Big and Tall store where Florence purchased a dress and underwear for the woman she had befriended. The arms-length revulsion displayed by the sales personnel toward Florence’s corpulent companion distressed her and, if anything, heightened her sympathy for downtrodden people like the Mews. Twice she took all of the Mews to a McDonald’s where she happily watched them polish off quarter pounders and fries. After each of these outings, she dropped her new friends at the Open Arms entrance, and then hurried home. In the short time Florence had known them, the prospect of a better life for the Mews family seemed to brighten. Rose made a quick recovery. Jenny told Florence that Henry had lined up a truck driving job for the Salvation Army and they hoped to find that little apartment any day. When Jenny praised her for helping them get back on track, Florence modestly refused to take credit. But, in fact, her feelings danced, especially when driving back to the shelter, Rose said, “Mrs. Duensing, you’re just a wonderful person.” One day eclipsed another, and Florence became increasingly involved in the life of the Mews family. But the relationship was not without challenges. Late on a November afternoon, Jenny called to report the happy news that Rose would start soon in Lincoln Elementary, just a few blocks from the shelter. Hearing her front door open, Florence said quickly, “I have to go now. Bye.” “Who was that on the phone?” Glen said. It was not a casual question. “Oh, just some solicitor.” “I thought they weren’t supposed to phone us anymore. Aren’t we on that list?” “Yes, I guess some of them just ignore it.” It had been a close call. Thank goodness he had decided they didn’t need caller ID. Florence “loaned” the Mews money to retrieve their car and to have it repaired. She co-signed so they could obtain a cell phone. And when they asked for another loan to make a security deposit on an apartment they’d located, she said she would have to let them know. She wanted to pitch in but had to be creative with her housekeeping account and with the modest bank savings she had brought to the marriage. In the end, she gave Jenny an envelope with six hundred dollars, all she could put together.

“I’ll let you know when we move in,” Jenny said. “Then you can come by to see the new place. Rose is just as happy as she can be.” Hearing this made Florence just as happy as she could be. She calculated, however, that it was only a matter of time until Glen discovered what she was doing. She knew it would be best to tell him. But she dithered. In a waking dream, Florence toyed with the idea of inviting the Mews to the house for Thanksgiving dinner. Certainly once he met little Rose, Glen couldn’t help but be moved and understand her actions. It was, of course, a fantasy. Plunging back into the dry air of reality, she knew Glen would be outraged at the very mention of such a possibility. Still, she hoped to fashion some way to give the little girl a memorable Thanksgiving. **** Thanksgiving was near and Florence had not talked to Jenny for three or four days, so she decided to check on how Henry’s new job was going and if Rose liked her new school. When Jenny did not answer her cell, Florence called the shelter. She reached the manager there, identifying herself as a friend. “The Mews? Oh, they checked out three or four days ago. The woman said something about Florida. Or maybe it was Arizona. Kind of like birds heading south for the winter you might say.” A lump lodged in Florence’s throat. “What about the girl? Her school?” “I don’t think she was in any school. Seems to me she was hanging around here watching television every day.” “Did Mr. Mews quit his job?” “His job? If he had a job, we didn’t know anything about it. We just try to help those in need...” Robot-like, Florence put down the phone, pain shadowing her eyes. An hour later when Glen marched through the door, Florence was still on the chair next to the phone stand. Tears welling in her eyes, she half-whispered, “They’re gone. They’re just gone.” “Who’s gone? Gone where?” Glen said. “The Mews...and Rose. Little Rose.” While Glen slouched in an easy chair, smoldering and occasionally flaring up, a tearful Florence recounted the entire story—the trips to the mall, the meals, the loans, everything. “They made it all up...the job, the apartment, the school...all of it.” She gulped for air. “I was a fool.” “You’re right there, Flo. What in the world did you expect?” “I trusted them. They seemed so grateful,” Florence said. “I just


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wanted to help someone. To do something for other people.” “Oh, God. That again?” Glen looked at her as if she had become unhinged. “Flo, how many times? How many times have I told you to mind your own business? Not only that. You tried to pull the wool over my eyes.” “I’m sorry. But, you’d have...stopped me.” “I hope you learned a lesson, Flo. If you want to help somebody, you just help me, right here at home. How much money did you give them?” She lowered her eyes. “I don’t know.” They would calculate that later—after she discovered the missing bank card and its quick use at two gas stations and an ATM. **** Alone in her living room at 3:00 on an early December afternoon, Florence tuned into an old I Love Lucy rerun on her new and even larger screen television set. She should be happy. After all, they had a nice rambler in a nice neighborhood on a nice cul-de-sac. But as she pondered all that had happened, hopelessness washed over her. She straightened the cushions on Glen’s easy chair. She watered a violet. She folded and then refolded the morning newspaper. She pulled back a drape and looked into the street. Snowflakes big as blossoms thickened the air. No sign of the woman across the street. It was best not to get involved with the neighbors anyway.


George Eklund

She lay in bed waiting for everything, She turned to the wall and saw The shadow of a silent bell. She did not need to speak Beyond the shape she had become Rising from the sheets. Her eye already knew Its own strange luck. Her children slept in a naked Ornithology composed for the future. Broken jewels fell from her hand In search of a tide, A song lost in a cello On the South Carolina coast. She did not need to know The reasons for the gifts we would bring.


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Assemblage at the Edge of a Wine Glass George Eklund


At the edge of a wine glass The owl blends the mathematics of the world. My wife knows I lie because I am afraid. The snow awakens a mother’s belief. When I love myself I have to laugh And buy a ticket. Silently as I climb, the crows must think I am a hallucination that multiplies. The world ignites itself and wants a God. My dream breaks above the bathroom sink, The hands betray the mind naturally, Shadows worshipping faces made of glass. The vein thrives, the evening pools, The man’s eye empties Into something beyond himself.

Conquest of the Destitute Courtney Jameson

The White Horse lies through teeth and gum: conquistador—through the façade of Holy Spirit. Head-dressed, he rides through dirt and cobblestone streets, lining the gutters in red stained children. He drops cocaine-glittered coins to their blue-skinned faces; prepares them for passage, overcomes their souls.


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Christopher Tozier

Desperate for something, they flow through a tunnel constructed solely with bodies of their specialized sisters who latch long legs overhead and along and, after the last rushing ant passes, disconnect and speed to the front extending the tunnel ahead. Each individual blind and dumb, the river itself becomes something alive, breathing around trees, wavering over boulders, logs. A samurai smoke, blades permanently drawn. The river stupidly happens into prey, size or species irrelevant, yet only the sick or immobile fall to their parceling. For the occasional human trapped in their path, terminally ill or tethered by enemies, their death is not what you’d expect. By thousands, the blind ants flow through new tunnels: nose, ears, mouth. No amount of shaking deters their ambition.

They pour down like cayenne into the stomach, lungs a gurgling scream until the tunnel is filled and the poor sap drowns. An architecture of life, this. Body within body, life replicating, destroying itself for itself. Equal to all. Dumb, blind geniuses. All of us.


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Three Janes


Ken Sloan

Jane teaches piano. Quite well. Once she played piano. Exceptionally well. Now she merely teaches piano. Quite well. Jane married well once. But that is all she’s ever done well. Jane does nothing at all. Well or otherwise. Every Thursday morning they meet at ten-thirty. Jane will have it no other way. Jane can be very insistent. Jane and Jane meet at tenthirty, then they spend ten minutes together while they wait for Jane to arrive. Late, as always. Jane is never late. She always arrives on time lest she incur Jane’s wrath. But Jane is always late. Jane’s wrath is of no consequence to Jane. Jane believes Jane will always be her friend, although she wishes Jane would ease up on Jane a little—Jane doesn’t handle Jane’s moods as well as Jane. “Jane!” the barista calls out. “Jane?” Jane raises a hand. Long, lily-white fingers flutter and a cappuccino is set before her. Jane imagines how those fingers must have looked as they danced over the keys when Jane played with the Philharmonic. “Are you sure that one isn’t mine?” Jane asks. “Quite sure,” Jane replies taking her first sip. “But we both ordered cappuccinos. I think I ordered first.” “Jane!” the barista calls again. “There you are,” Jane says. “That one’s yours.” Jane waves at the man, trying to project the same casual grace Jane just has, but something is lacking. He sets the cup before her, and some of the creamy foam sloshes onto the saucer. He walks back to his place at the counter. Jane wipes up the spill and looks at Jane. “Where’s Jane?” “She’s always late.” “Yes, but—” “You should know that by now.” “She’s young.” “That’s no excuse.” Jane sips her coffee and waits for the question. She knows it’s

coming—Jane asks it every Thursday. “Did you see Peter last night?” Jane nods. “And did Peter stay the night?” Jane shakes her head. “And he still has not told his wife about you, has he?” Jane shakes her head again. “And he never will, will he?” “He’s waiting for the right time. Their daughter’s getting married in a few months and everything’s in an uproar. He promised he’d tell her right after the wedding.” “And before that, their son was graduating law school and everything was in an uproar. And before that, Peter had just changed jobs and everything was in an uproar. And before that, his wife was in chemo and everything was in an uproar. What will it be next, Jane? He reminds me of a Belgian conductor I saw for a bit back in the eighties. He had a wife in Antwerp, me here in the city and a violinist in San Francisco. He kept promising he would leave the wife and marry me and told the same lies to the one in San Francisco. To be honest, I had no desire to marry him, but the violinist hung on his every word.” At ten-forty Jane arrives as usual. As usual, she has four dogs leashed together and, as usual, the manager yells at her that the dogs are not allowed inside. As usual, Jane rolls her eyes and storms outside to a table in the sun leaving Jane and Jane to pick up their cappuccinos and follow her. Jane ties off her pack’s leashes and lights a cigarette as the waitress walks up. She orders espresso and a glass of water. “Hello, Jane.” “Hello, dear.” “Jane.” “You’re late.” “I’m sorry, I had to go to the—” “You’re always late.” “I said I’m sorry. I had things to do.” Jane takes a drag off the cigarette and looks out at the street, effectively dismissing Jane. Jane has always admired Jane’s ability to do that to Jane. Jane has always been a bit frightened of Jane. “So what did I miss?” Jane asks, cigarette smoke curling into the air. “We were just discussing Peter, weren’t we, Jane? Jane says he’ll be leaving that wife of his any day now. Right, Jane?” Jane ignores her. The waitress brings Jane her espresso and, without hesitation,


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Jane snatches the tiny cup and tosses the entire contents down as though she were drinking a shot of whiskey. She convulses slightly as the scalding liquid burns her throat and chases it with the ice water. “What is the matter with you!?” Jane demands. “That’s how they drink it in Europe. I saw it on a movie once.” “That is not how they drink it in Europe. I’ve lived in Europe. I once toured Europe with Itzhak Perlman. That is absolutely not how they drink it in Europe.” Jane ignores her. “I may have found a job,” she says. “Oh good for you!” Jane says before Jane can make whatever cutting remark Jane was just thinking up. “What will you be doing?” “Waiting tables. At the Sans Souci Café.” Jane rolls her eyes and starts to speak, but Jane cuts her off again. “Oh, I love that place. They have those darling little petit-fours and the cheesecake is to die for.” “So does that mean we won’t have to see this lot of dogs next week?” Jane asks. “Or will they be waiting tables also?” “I’ll still do the dog-walking, I’ll just have to re-arrange their schedules. And ours as well.” “Ours?” “I’ll be working the brunch shift so I can’t make it here at tenthirty any more.” “You’ve never made it here by ten-thirty. Why should next week be any different?” “I thought we could try meeting there, for a change. I’ll take your table. It will be just like any other Thursday.” “It will be nothing like any other Thursday.” “Fine. Forget it, then. I didn’t want to work there anyway.” She turns to Jane. “And how are you today, darling?” she asks, smiling at Jane. “She got lucky last night, if that’s what you’re wondering.” “I’m fine, dear.” Jane smiles back at her. “I have something for you.” Jane hands Jane an oversized Hallmark envelope. Inside is a card, adorned on the front with watercolor peonies and a verse regarding the nature of friendship. Also inside is a check for three hundred dollars which Jane avoids letting Jane see. Jane can be judgmental at times. Jane has trouble making ends meet—between the dog-walking, table-waiting and other odd jobs—but Jane has a very nice settlement from her divorce and can afford to help Jane. Jane has been loaning money to Jane for almost a year now. Jane promises to pay it back…as soon as she gets on her feet. If Jane were keeping track, Jane would realize that Jane owes her over four thousand dollars. But Jane doesn’t

care. Jane reminds Jane of her daughter. Jane wishes her daughter would call from time to time. And her two sons. At least Jane calls, if only to borrow money. At eleven-fifteen it is time to go. The waitress brings their checks just as Jane’s cellphone rings. Jane detests cellphones—they’re so provincial—but carries one nevertheless. There are, after all, people who simply could not function if they were unable to reach Jane. Jane answers the phone as Jane lights another cigarette and Jane fiddles with a compact, adjusting her makeup. Jane speaks to a boy named Thomas who tells her he will be unable to make his eleven-thirty piano lesson. Thomas has a very important test for which he must study all day. Jane ignores the fact that she can hear the sounds of a video game arcade in the background. Yes ma’am, Thomas tells her, he has been practicing his scales. Yes ma’am, he will get right back to practicing as soon as the test is over. No ma’am, his mother can’t come to the phone right now because… because…she’s walking the dog. “Tell her I know a good dog walker if she needs one,” Jane says and hangs up. She looks over at Jane, who has put out her cigarette and is untying the dogs. “Looks like my eleven-thirty just opened up. Perhaps, you’d like to pick up where we last left off?” “Not today,” Jane says, struggling with the leashes. “Jane…you really were good. Quite good.” Jane looks up suddenly from her compact. There was something in Jane’s voice…she sounded almost like a human being rather than the imperious, grande dame Jane has come to know and…love. It seems to Jane that Jane is almost pleading with Jane to join her at the piano once more. “I’m sorry Jane. It’s just not my thing.” Jane stands up. “I’ll let you play jazz.” Jane hesitates for a moment, then shakes her head. “Maybe next time.” They meet again the following Thursday. Jane and Jane at tenthirty, and Jane ten minutes later. They meet again the Thursday after that and the Thursday after that and the Thursday after that. As the months pass, the weather grows cold. Jane stops walking the dogs so that she, Jane, and Jane can sit inside. Jane brings on two new piano students—one of whom is quite good, she says. Jane continues to see Peter who promises he will leave his wife as soon as he’s re-financed the house. They meet again, then again, then again until one week they can-


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not meet. Jane and Jane are available, but Jane cannot make it. Jane had died three days earlier. It was cold that night. Jane turned on the heater. The flame must have gone out during the night. A neighbor smelled gas and the firemen found Jane in bed as though she were asleep. She was already cold. Jane would always wonder if the flame had really “just gone out” or if Jane had purposefully chosen not to light it that night. Jane did have her dark moods, after all. Jane and Jane attend the ceremony together. Neither of them can bear the idea, but neither of them is willing to be the only one of the two not there. They watch the relatives go through the motions, acknowledge the shows of grief and make a few of their own. As soon as they can, they flee the cemetery, taking a cab back to the coffeehouse. “My God, do you believe that mess?” “It was like none of them even knew who she was. Makes you wonder if they had the right corpse.” “Not much different than my day will be.” “Nor mine. My family’s no better.” “Watching it all, I felt as though I were Jane.” Jane tries to smile as if it’s just a joke but a tear spills. “I know,” Jane says, reaching across the table to take Jane’s hand. “Some days I think we’re both Jane.”

The Talk of Being in Love Laura Eklund

I imagine your skin to be yellow flowers hanging on a thin line rose coloring everywhere from the back of your neck to the back of the thigh perfectly encased upon tissue its suicidal axis your eye pouring vinegar boiling water in Mass under the stars right before my dreams your paradox of skin pulling me under.


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Not One Death But Many Jonathan Barrett

Title Taken from a line in a Charles Olson Poem (Orpheus in Hypnagogia) I see you shrouded in dark layers of night. Your eyes are cloudy. You crawl out of old skin like pulling off a sock inside-out. Headlights slither in the grass. I see only the sin


of looking back. The light fades and I see you: a wet fetid mess, hair matted with weeds and mud. River water leaks from the leeched halo of your mouth. I try to guess the fluidity. The flood of syllables splash and slur. The bucket at your feet is heavy with water. I dip my hands and skim the disfigured words. I see you in leaf mold, footsteps, whisper, and slip. I notice the scars on your heels leaking blood, turning the grass yellow and brown. I hear a freight train clatter, watch the newsreel of your shadow. I see you again and again and again.

While Yo-Yo Ma Plays the Swan of Saint Saën

Winnona Elson Pasquini

When my lover says, Give me your mouth, he really wants my voice— the fricative, the sibilant, and all their moderations. I turn away, so he traces my shoulder with his warm breath.

Scapula, his touch moves

up over my shoulder, lips to skin, hands re-turning my turn. I think, embouchure, as my head swivels away.

Clavicle, he insists, pivoting

slowly as his teeth-light writing letters the skin above the bone, little key abducted. No, I think, No, I am not bone, not his origin rib.

Nor is this ease—this slow

ligature of breath. This is slur and legato, articulation and response. I am not woodwind, but string—all cat-gut and vibrato,


FLARE: The Flagler Review

a glissade, a shimmer, a ribbon

of white bite, of horse tail caught and clamped in a pernambuco bow. Dark heartwood quivers, guided and conducted by hands sliding to my throat,


even as his mouth captures the notch. He whispers suprasternal, while I think tempo rubato— my dark hush pressed into his hair.  

In the Event of My Absence Cristina Querrer

Excerpts from a larger work I Perhaps between heaven and hell typifies an experience outside the pain of childbirth, beyond the anguish of loss and the perpetuity of the arctic, hospital waiting room—where, like the airport, the masses wait anxiously for their arrivals and departures. Here, is what I am writing about now. A place where someone cannot absolve are the spaces where I cannot let go. Therefore, ghosts still walk on my paper and step all over my canvas and pull my hair at night and I cannot remember where I stashed my poems—my paintings—destroyed in my brother’s basement during one rainy season that I have not been able to hold a mordant gaze upon an original idea. Assuredly, I told my brother, John, that if I die now, I would like him to oversee my writing and artwork. I can see it in his expression—who the hell do you think you are? People don’t even know who you are? But families of other artists have waged war over a poem or a painting, why can’t mine? II We have become a culture of speed and implacable pretentiousness that the viewing of flesh and violence are our main fondness, and its citizens are brain-washed to believe what is worse than death is living in a society of repressed sexuality. What takes precedence is the numbing ignorance to anything beyond our frivolousness, and it is no wonder that sitting here for two hours now, I have not seen anyone take any of those writers magazines tucked away on the last rung of the magazine racks or take in the wonder of art. How shallow our society is or just plain fraught with ill regard to anything cerebral. How did I become a minority? Why do I search for meanings of words or the grain of things, reveling in its weight and texture, allowing its meaning to marinate and roll in my mouth and simmer in the synapses of my brain? III Faith. Though, I, with no assurance, believe in it, believe it or not.


FLARE: The Flagler Review I see it in the rising of the sun as I go over Bayside Bridge through Clearwater, driving to my menial government job. I hunt for its arrival each day. It’s a true wonderment. What will it be like this morning? Sometimes it peeks through like a piece of sliced orange, and when the darkness forces the sun down into the water, refusing it air, I often wonder in this world of stop-and-go, and the many man-made contraptions that obstruct the perfect vista of the sun, I might have just found my way out or at least had better reception for the time being. Yet, I still plead for a sign—the same sign that came to Van Gogh’s starry nights, Jackson Pollock’s pretentious splatter, Sylvia Plath’s tulips, and Virginia Woolf’s freedom room. I’d like to be there crosslegged in a sweat lodge finding a passage carved deep in the snow for me, just over the hills where my ancestors summon. I see my Native American ancestors, my lost heritage that died with my biological father, whom I lost to the Vietnam War. No, he didn’t die there. I just did not exist to him. These are the ghosts that speak to me.


IV Even when I arrived at the scene the year I was born in this prostitute town, naked among the blaring horn of jeepneys and tricycles and bright, flashing lights of discos and cabarets brimming with prostitutes and GIs, I perhaps might still slip unknowingly out of here like a brief scuttle through the water. I believe my friends and family would describe me as intense, vague, and downcast. Yet I still managed to smile, dance, and sing in between sadness. V Maybe the reasons why I write and create is to say I have existed; even if, say, a nuclear war occurred and nothing left was standing, would it matter? Even if my children didn’t have my eyes or hair, my gait or artist sensibilities, would it matter? I am the first to say that you matter. Just like the ladybug dangling on a leaf ready to be taken by the wind matters. It’s no wonder even that I often dream what it would feel like to have a direct line with the Divine like when Pastor at church says to his congregation, God spoke to me about this; God told me that…I ask, can someone please pass me the phone number, the email, the ketchup—something? Certain fathers, mothers, and siblings have been known to keep their distance, and friends can disappear forever—no one ever really anchored to any port. They only visit when they are dead. I guess I’m no different than my mother. I talk to dead people also—the living and

the dead. But I also write poems to the living as if I can bring them back now. VI People flock to the beaches of Florida to escape their life—here, in this postcard; images of fossilized sunsets. Though once curious, you are more concerned with the texture of paper/curious about the rain in Seattle, I wrote in one poem. I’ve lost my place so I read the passage over, got lost again, closed the book and went to sleep. In the event of my absence, please don’t feel lost. Dinner is thawing in the sink, the car keys are on the table, my love letters are in the decorative file box on my closet shelf. In the morning, I will wake again. I will get into my car and witness the founding of another day as I drive over the short bridge to work. I will continue in this state of menial jobs, earthly chores, the commute, watching cars drive up or drive away. If I were Gauguin I would just pick up and leave for Tahiti where I am comfortable among the natives. But then again, I would just go back to a time where I climbed guava trees as a child. VII Perhaps the reasons why I write and create are my only way to pray, hope, wish, and weep competently. My poems are my beatitudes—my paintings, my Hail Mary’s for the times I curse for misplacing things. I look up to people who can just be without admission of guilt no matter what they did, but then I wouldn’t have a heart. VIII But sometimes it’s not enough to say you’re sorry—the offense occurred—so you write it down, draw it in your notebook, might even transfer it to canvas and frame it. What is the shape of love, the color of miracles? You ruminate. It’s just over to the left as you go over Bayside Bridge or somewhere where someone cannot absolve; these are the spaces where I cannot let go; that’s where I see it, love.


Contributors Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He also edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters. Brittany Nicole Bertazon, originally born and raised in the countryside of Baltimore, Maryland, now resides in St. Augustine, FL, as a junior at Flagler College. Brittany is studying to pursue a degree in Fine Arts and Art History. In May of 2013, she traveled to Italy with a group of Flagler students on the Rome Study Abroad Trip, which furthered her love for the arts and travel. Jonathan Barrett works in banking and lives in Kansas City, MO. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous literary journals including American Literary Review, The Chattahooche Review, Flyway, The Literary Review, The Minnesota Review, The North American Review, Notre Dame Review, Phoebe, Poet Lore, and Subtropics among others.


Matthew Batty is influenced by southern folklore and his work is a response to the phenomena of a physical environment. Rooted in nature, folk tales have been used to pass down customs and stories. His process involves searching for found objects and specimens. This diverse collection serves as a resource to generate ideas about renewal and decay. He uses nature’s cyclical patterns and repetitive basis of folklore to influence formal and conceptual decisions in his work. His intent is to make work that visually communicates his admiration and awe of the natural world, while juxtaposed to the corrosion of a symbiotic relationship between humans and nature. George Bishop is the author of five chapbooks. His full length collection, Expecting Delays, was published by FutureCycle Press in January 2013. His new chapbook, Following Myself Home, won the 2013 Peter Meinke Prize from Yellow Jacket Press. Recent work appears in Cold Mountain Review and Commonline Journal. Bishop attended Rutgers University and now lives and writes in Saint Cloud, Florida. Doug Bolling’s poetry has appeared widely in literary reviews including Georgetown Review, Tribeca Poetry Review, Wallace Stevens Journal, English Journal, Bimingham Poetry Review, Blue Unicorn, Basalt, and Illuminations among others, most recently online in Hamilton Stone Review and The Missing Slate with Poet of the Month and interview. He has received four Pushcart prize nominations and

Contributors has degrees from William & Mary and the University of Iowa. After teaching literature and writing in his native Kentucky and the midwest, he now resides in Flossmoor, Illinois, part of the greater Chicago area. Levi Bollinger is a native of Missouri and an English teacher. He is currently plying his trade at an international school in Jakarta. Every so often, when hectic work and a lovely wife allow, he tries to write a bit of his own literature. Dmitry Borshch is an American artist of Soviet origin. He was born in Dnepropetrovsk, studied in Moscow, today lives in New York and exhibits internationally. His work has been exhibited at the National Arts Club (New York), Brecht Forum (New York), Exit Art (New York), CUNY Graduate Center (New York), Salmagundi Club (New York), ISE Cultural Foundation (New York), Williamsburg Art and Historical Center (New York), Triangle Arts Association (New York), Parish Art Museum (Southampton), International Human Rights Law Institute of DePaul University (Chicago), the State Russian Museum (Saint Petersburg), Central Exhibition Hall ‘Manege’ (Saint Petersburg), Agora Collective (Berlin), Mindpirates (Berlin), and Frieze Art Fair (London). George Eklund has taught at Morehead State University in eastern Kentucky for the past twenty-five years. He helps administer their BFA program in Creative Writing and also helps edit Inscape, MSU’s literary and arts journal. His most recent publications include a chapbook, Wanting To Be An Element, (Finishing Line Press 2012); a full length volume, Each Breath I Cannot Hold, (Wind Publications, 2011); and The Island Blade, a full length collection from ABZ Press, (2011). Laura Eklund is married to the poet George Eklund and they have four children together. She is instructor and department chairperson of Digital Graphic Design and Marketing at Antonelli College Online. She has published three books, and her work has been included in many journals, including Southern Women’s Review, Inscape, Tears In The Fence, and her most recent book is Selected Poems: The White Ibis, published by Ara Pacis Press. Amelia Eldridge is currently in the process of completing her BFA degree in Fine Art at Flagler College. Amelia was born in Parkton, Maryland, where she first began to develop an interest in architecture, duality, and the limitations of being human. Between transferring,


Contributors breaking her elbow, and switching majors, she graduated from Flagler in December of 2011 with her BA in fine arts. She then moved back to Maryland, continued to explore different careers, and did some wandering before she decided to return to Flagler to get her BFA. Her current body of work is concerned with building people, and the limitations of the body. The sensual aspects of making work are important to her and she enjoys experimentation with materials, as well as processes and gestures. However, she continues to return to charcoal and wood. Amelia does not have any permanent plans for the future, other than to make work and explore what it means to be human.


Lawrence F. Farrar is a career diplomat who served in Japan (multiple tours), Norway, Germany, and Washington, DC. He also lived in Japan as a graduate student and as a naval officer. A Minnesota resident, Farrar has degrees from Dartmouth and Stanford. His stories have appeared in Tampa Review Online, Green Hills Literary Lantern, The MacGuffin, Red Cedar Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Evening Street Review, G.W. Review, Straylight, Colere, Worcester Review, 34th Parallel, Blue Lake Review, Cigale, Bloodroot, New Plains Review, Paradise Review, The Write Room, and Bryant Literary Review. He also assisted with preparation of a Hiroshima memoir published in New Madrid. Pieces are forthcoming in Jelly Bucket, Cheat River Review, and Streetlight. Stephen Gibson is the author of four poetry collections, Paradise (Miller Williams prize finalist, University of Arkansas Press, 2011), Frescoes (Lost Horse Press book prize, 2009), Masaccio’s Expulsion (MARGIE/Intuit House book prize, 2006), Rorschach Art (Red Hen, 2001), and a short story collection, The Persistence of Memory, a finalist selection forthcoming from Stephen F. Austin State University Press. Laura Kammermann grew up in the small town of Washington, Illinois. She became passionate about art as an adolescent and the small town community contributed in a great way. Painting is a passion that has progressed rapidly the past year along with graphic design. She graduated from Washington Community High School and attended Illinois Central College. She now attends Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. As a designer, she enjoys combining fine art and graphic design to make intricate, expressive, and exciting artwork. She continues to create art through photography, painting, drawing, and design. Courtney Leigh Jameson recently graduated from Saint Mary’s

Contributors College of California with an MFA in Poetry. Her work has appeared in Similar:Peaks and is forthcoming in Clockwise Cat. She currently resides in Arizona and is the The Bowhunter of White Stag Journal. David Lewitzky is a retired social worker/family therapist living out his sedentary life in the sad and funky rust belt city of Buffalo, New York. He has recent work in Passages North, Mayo Review, N imrod, and Floyd County Moonshine among others and forthcoming work in And?Or, and Clarion among others. Nicci Mechler has an MA in English and a BFA in Studio Art. She splits her time between writing poetry and speculative fiction, editing the litersture magazine Sugared Water, and drawing girls with inky tattoos. Her most recent work is forthcoming in magazines like Roanoke Review, Kestrel, and Stone Telling. Her first collaborative chapbook, “in these cups,” is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in late 2014. Blog & portfolio: Jason Lee Miller, MFA, is a curriculum developer and composition instructor at Eastern Kentucky University. His work—poetry, fiction, essays, and book reviews—has appeared in 94 Creations, Blood Lotus, Bluegrass Accolade, The Copperfield Review, Crack the Spine, Danse Macabre du Jour, Dew on the Kudzu, Eunoia Review, Gloom Cupboard, The Legendary, Milk Sugar, Numinous, Ontologica, State of Imagination, Scarlet Literary, Scissors and Spackle, Subliminal Interiors, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal. Sporadically, he updates a blog: M.V. Montgomery is a professor at Life University in Atlanta. He is the author, most recently, of the Gothic fiction collections Beyond the Pale and Night-Crawl. Winnona Elson Pasquini is a poet and writer living in Tampa, Florida. She was recently named a finalist in New Rivers Press MVP book competition and a finalist in Yellowjacket Press’s 2013 Peter Meinke Prize for Poetry Chapbook Contest. Her recent publications include work in Cider Press Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Rock & Sling, and The Chronicle of Higher Education Online. She completed her MFA in creative writing and studied film at the University of South Florida. She is currently working on a poetry collection inspired by film. Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He has a wife, Vickie, and a daugh-


Contributors ter, Sage. His work has appeared in hundreds of publications including Prime Mincer, Sheepshead Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Two Thirds North, The Red Cedar Review and The William and Mary Review. He has poems forthcoming in Bluestem, Poetry Salzburg Review and December Magazine. Cal Louise Phoenix is an undergraduate student at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. Away from her desk, she indulges in activities such as polyamory and socially-conscious debate. Her poetry has most recently been featured in Inscape, seveneightfive, and Burningword. Samuel Piccone is a recent graduate from the M.A. Writing and Publishing program at DePaul University in Chicago. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications including Silverthought Press, Threshold, Blast Furnace, Bitterzoet Magazine, Apt Literary Journal, The Alarmist, and Forge. He currently resides in Colorado.


Matthew Porubsky lives in Topeka, Kansas, and works as a freight conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad. He has four collections of poetry, voyeur poems, Fire Mobile (The Pregnancy Sonnets,) Ruled by Pluto and John. His poetry has been featured in RHINO, Quiditty, The Journal (UK,) {HOOT} and elimae. Visit for more info. Cristina Querrer was born and raised in the Philippines, post Vietnam War, during the Marcos regime, pre-Mount Pinatubo eruption, as a US Air Force military child. She graduated high school from former Wagner High School, Clark Air Force Base, Philippines, in 1985. Her works have appeared in The Adirondack Review, The Fairfield Review, Stirring, and in print anthologies such as Pinoy Poetics, Babaylan, Bombshells, The Mom Egg, and Field of Mirrors. Her first poetry chapbook, “The Art of Exporting,” was published by dancing girl press, 2012. Querrer received her MFA in Creative Writing from National University and her BA in Creative Writing with a minor in Visual Arts from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL. She currently works at the College of Micronesia as an Associate Professor of English and is the founding editor of the newly established online literary/art magazine, “The Manila Envelope” ( Frank Scozzari, a Pushcart Prize nominee, resides in Nipomo, a small town on the California central coast. His award-winning short

Contributors stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines including The Kenyon Review, The Berkeley Fiction Review, Ellipsis Magazine, The Nassau Review, and The MacGuffin, and have been featured in literary theater. Kenneth Sloan is a freelance writer and novelist residing on a bayou on the Emerald Coast of north Florida where he lives with three badly behaved dogs and the love of his life, Lorraine. Sloan first began writing in the 1970s for a newspaper in Pago Pago, Samoa, and at various times has also done freelance work for magazines and newspapers along with technical writing for major corporations. He is currently working as editor-in-chief at Sloan has completed two novels and has a third in progress. Jessica Thelen is a poet from Western Massachusetts and is currently working on his first full-length poetry collection, tentatively titled Nota Bene. Her poetry is forthcoming or has been featured in various print and online journals, such as Blood & Thunder, Mock Orange, Paper Nautilus, Scapegoat Review, Extract(s), Split Rock Review, Gravel, Meat For Tea: The Valley Review, and Free State Review. Christopher Tozier lives in the north Orlando, Florida, area and is the author of the award-winning Olivia Brophie series for children. His first novel, Olivia Brophie and the Pearl of Tagelus, is set in the Florida scrub and is widely taught in schools. World’s Around Us is the free curriculum developed by scientists and educators around the country for use with the book. The sequel, Olivia Brophie and the Sky Island is scheduled for release on January 1, 2014. Tozier was awarded the 2011 Individual Artist Fellowship from the State of Florida. A Little Book of Light History published by YellowJacket Press is his first volume of poetry. Geoff Watkinson is an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at Old Dominion University, where he is the managing editor of Barely South Review. His work can be seen in Bluestem, The Newtowner, Used Furniture Review, and others. He founded Green Briar Review in June of 2012. Find him at Kirby Wright was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a graduate of Punahou School in Honolulu and the University of California at San Diego. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Wright has been nominated for four Push-


Contributors cart Prizes and is a past recipient of the Honolulu Weekly Nonfiction Award, the Jodi Stutz Memorial Prize in Poetry, the Ann Fields Poetry Prize, the Academy of American Poets Award, the Robert Browning Award for Dramatic Monologue, and Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowships in Poetry and The Novel. Before the City, his first poetry collection, took First Place at the 2003 San Diego Book Awards. Wright is also the author of the companion novels Punahou Blues and Moloka’i Nui Ahina, both set in Hawaii. He was a Visiting Fellow at the 2009 International Writers Conference in Hong Kong, where he represented the Pacific Rim region of Hawaii. He was also a Visiting Writer at the 2010 Martha’s Vineyard Residency in Edgartown, Mass., and the 2011 Artist in Residence at Milkwood International, Czech Republic. His futuristic thriller The End, My Friend, was released in 2013.


Etanna Rene Zak resides in San Francisco where she dedicates her time to writing, constructing experimental electronic music, and creating graphic art as part of the creative entity RFCL. Her creative nonfiction piece, Sixteen Below, recently appeared in the Summer 2013 Issue of Gambling The Aisle. She is co-author of the graphic novellas, Dragon Fly, Another Myself, Vibration Incorporate, and most recently, Man With A Gun, published by Fourth Way Comics.


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 Douglas McFarland Darien Andreu Lisa Baird Kim Bradley Judith Burdan Liz Robbins Connie St. Clair-Andrews Jay Szczepanski Department of English Department of Art & Design Crisp-Ellert Art Museum Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society Ink Slingers Creative Writing Club A special thank-you to Laura Smith, Jim Wilson, Carl Horner, and all those who have directed The Flagler Review in years past.




Hear crows caw at the edge of a wineglass


Watch as Jane, Jane, and Jane contemplate being Jane


Come meet a few strangers in a Bavarian bakery …and much more

Cover Art “Shadow Person, 1” by Amelia Eldridge

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