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FLARE the flagler review
Volume 25 Issue 1
ÂŠ 2014, FLARE: The Flagler Review, a publication of Flagler College. Visit www.theflaglerreview.com for subscription information and submission guidelines.
Volume 25, Issue 1 Fall 2014
Staff Editor Laura Henning
Managing Editor Ari Corsetti
Art Directors Kara Bell Liz Doolittle
Marketing Managers Lynnsay Baxter Joshua Carter Hannah Porter
Fiction Editors Savannah Coursey Michael MacDonald Vincent Night Kristin Towers
Poetry Editors Elise Perez Tammy Robbins Lauren Weber
Non-Fiction Editors Danielle Aubin Kalel Leonard
DesignEditors Advisor Brian Thompson
Michelle Henning Matthew Quann
FLARE: The Flagler Review
Time flies! It happens every semester, so I should expect it by now, but the speed at which we create each new edition of FLARE continues to catch me off guard. It seems like just yesterday I was getting to know the Fall 2014 staff at our very first meeting. After going around the room introducing ourselves, I felt right away that this staff–full of a few old faces, but many more new–was going to do great things. And indeed, this edition is proof that my intuition was not misguided. I have been through four cycles of FLARE, three of which I have overseen as editor, and I still think each issue is better than the last. Of course, the pieces we select are always exceptionally engaging, thought-provoking, and of the utmost quality; however, the progress comes from FLARE’s commitment to trying new things, from changing up design elements to restructuring the way in which our book reads. FLARE is a living, breathing entity, and although we sometimes encounter challenges because of it, I would not have it any other way. “Better” does not come from stagnancy, after all. Being a part of a literary journal is an extremely rewarding process. At the end of the semester, we can take a book in our hands and say, “We did it!” The tangibility of a print edition is unrivaled, which is why I am pleased to announce that we will be producing a Spring 2014 print edition along with our online components. (Like I said, getting better all the time!) It is overwhelming to think that yet another cycle of FLARE is almost over, but I am excited for what the future holds for the journal and for the new staff, who will become part of the ever-expanding FLARE family next semester. As Jonathan Safran Foer, one of my favorite authors, writes in his novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, “My life story is the story of everyone I’ve ever met.” I am so fortunate to have met all of the wonderful people behind this edition of FLARE, from staff members to contributors. They are now a part of my life story, of which this book you’re holding is but a chapter. And truly, so many lives are contained within each edition, so much passion and individuality. Time may stop for no one, but every creative act is a little protest, a little pause in the great continuum–and this is their magic.
NON-FICTION William Hoffacker No One Wants to Be Friends 7 with Alex Trebek Carol Smallwood An Old Roommate 14 Patty Somlo Sam Jones 16
POETRY Lucian Mattison Sopaipillas 26 Anastasia Clark The Artist at Death Station 28 Doug Bolling River Work 30 Daniel Ruefman Beyond the Butterscotch 32 Kevin O’Connor Photographs 33 Thomas Delano Once More with Feeling 34 Jessica Hylton The Christmas Tree at My Therapist’s Office 35 Marty Saunders Cigarettes & Chocolate 36 Jayson Clury Lynn Moon-Throat, Swing 38 Beatriz Fernandez Nothing in the Dark 39 William Doreski Barefoot on the Riding Mower 40 David Anthony Sam Above Emile Creek 42 Joanna White Memory Fish 43 Jennifer Albrecht St. Augustine Beach 44 Colette Tennant To See What You Had Seen 46
FICTION Allison Flom Rachel Jamison Webster George Dila
Fragments ‘Sitting’ from Hazel In a Fool’s Paradise
53 63 67
ART Alejandro Gonzalez Smoking in Smoke Cover Joshua Slinski Alter 6 Emma Pokorny Split Complementary 25 Wayne Burke Lemons 47 Landscape 1 48 Landscape 2 49 Blue Power Lines 50 Featured Artist Interview 51 Chelsea Reppin Crescent Boulevard 52
FLARE: The Flagler Review
Alter Joshua Slinski 5’ x 3’ X 3’ - Mixed Media
No One Wants to Be Friends with Alex Trebek William Hoffacker “What is it about us,” I asked my father recently, “that makes us want to be game show hosts?” He shrugged off my question with a closed-mouth smile, like (A) he didn’t know what I was talking about, or (B) it didn’t matter to him, or (C) I put him on the spot and he couldn’t think of a response, or (D) he was withholding the answer from me. I let the question drop, but didn’t stop wondering. It first started bothering me after I introduced a game to my friends, the Leonard Maltin Game, a guess-the-movie trivia competition based on clues culled from Leonard Maltin’s film reviews. I learned the rules online and gradually shared the game with more and more of my friends at graduate school, where I studied creative writing and taught composition. That summer, I subjected my girlfriend to that same game almost every day during a six-week cross-country road trip. I had become an addict of an unusual sort. For months, I couldn’t pass an hour chatting with friends without feeling the itch to play. Over every coffee or whiskey, I was thinking, “Conversation is fine, but couldn’t we be playing the Leonard Maltin Game?” I tried to hold back, couldn’t let them get sick of it, waiting for someone else to bring it up, or for the subject of movies to come up organically. But I didn’t just play my favorite game; I hosted it. I literally held this game in the palm of my hand using a smartphone app. I kept scores, decided the order of play, created categories, picked which movies would be the correct answers. My friends became contestants. Every day I brainstormed more titles, and every weekend I wanted to play more and more rounds. Hosting this frivolous movie game occupied so much space in my head that I had to ask: why do I find this so rewarding? What was I really hooked on: (A) a fun game played with willing friends, or (B) the sense of power that the “host” role brought me? **** Q: How far back does my game-show-host near-obsession go? (A) One year. (B) Five years.
FLARE: The Flagler Review (C) Ten years. (D) Pre-school. **** In Pre-Kindergarten, on Show-and-Tell day, I brought my parents’ Jeopardy!-licensed book of trivia answers and questions. When I told this story to my girlfriend, she said, “I brought a live frog to Showand-Tell. You were such a nerd.” I don’t remember why I chose this book out of everything in our house. All I remember is carrying the big, floppy paperback around the classroom, reading the “answers” aloud to my two teachers, and flipping to the back to see if they knew the correct “question.” Or maybe I don’t even remember that. It might be confabulation based on how much my mother likes to tell this story, about how the women at school marveled at my reading and pronunciation. Mom mimics my teacher’s surprised, high-pitched voice as she quotes, “He’s saying words like Indonesia!” I can summon an image of the book’s cover in my mind: a grayhaired, mustachioed, early-90s-era Alex Trebek stands before his famous wall of blue screens with yellow dollar values. His thin-lipped grin shows his smug satisfaction with his position of authority. But that’s not a real memory either. That’s my brain editing my memories based on a preconceived notion of what Trebek looks and sounds like. I watched Jeopardy! mostly during grade school, when my maternal grandparents were still alive, and my parents and I would eat dinner with them a few nights a week. While my mother cooked, I sat in the dimly lit, musty-smelling living room with my father and Pop-Pop, the TV always tuned to the Game Show Network, ESPN, or ABC. From a cushioned, flowery-upholstered chair in the corner of the room, I silently watched Alex Trebek drill contestants on all manner of trivia I didn’t know the first thing about. Even then, I couldn’t watch Jeopardy! without cringing at how full of himself Alex sounded when he revealed a “correct response.” Is it possible to correct someone without seeming like a narcissist or a busybody? Alex Trebek—who has built a decades-spanning career on delivering answers and reminding contestants to phrase responses in the form of a question—proves nightly that even he can’t navigate this awkward situation without projecting the attitude of a pretentious asshole. What hope do the rest of us have? Ergo, Q: shouldn’t I try to avoid being the host figure, the answers-guy, the “Trebek” among my friends? I wonder how many Jeopardy! contestants would agree with me that Trebek has a “backpfeifengesicht,” which Alex himself would surely know is a German compound word meaning “a face that calls
Non-Fiction out for a fist.” I know he’s just doing his job, but the way he does it: I find his corrections insufferable, his voice so condescending, snarky, and smug. And so it makes no sense that I can’t wait to step into his shoes when I’m hanging out with friends, in school, or with family. Q: Is there something in my genes that gives me the urge to be quizmaster? Q: Do other people—normal people—watch a game show and dream of filling the contestant’s spot, feeling the adrenaline rush, raking in the money and prizes? Q: At game nights hosted by my aunt and uncle, in every round of Trivial Pursuit, I longed to be the one to read the question off the card, to know the right answer before everyone else; how needy is that? Q: Does it speak to some deficiency in my personality? Q: Just how trivial is that piece of me? **** Q: What’s the real danger of acting like a too-smug game show host? (A) Transforming into Alex Trebek. (B) Alienating my friends and family. (C) Inflating my ego and losing self-awareness. (D) Turning into my father. **** For a year or more, my family watched every new episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. At 8:00 I’d stuff my social studies textbook and math worksheets into my backpack, sit between my parents on the living room couch, and stare at our television set for an hour. We tested our brains and shouted right (and wrong) answers. I sang along with the “dum-dum-dums” of the orchestral theme music. Our everyday questions (e.g., “What do you want for dinner?”) led to the requisite addendum: “Is that your final answer?” Every Fastest Finger won, every audience asked, every friend phoned, every loser stumped by a 32,000-dollar question—we three tuned in. Soon the ritual became more than weekly. When the U.S. imported Millionaire from the U.K. in 1999, our nation couldn’t get enough of the suspense-driven quiz show. By 2000, Regis Philbin and a score of nervous contestants filled our TV screen five nights a week. No other show from my childhood rose to such an absurd level of popularity that the network decided the sensible thing to do was make five times more episodes and air them every single weeknight. At the height of Millionaire fever, my dad got the idea for our home version. Once a month, after dinner, we played Who Wants to Win Twenty Dollars, where he was host, I was contestant, and my mother was spectator. His game, like Millionaire, was elegantly simple: fifteen questions of increasing difficulty, each one worth a little more money, starting with twenty-five cents, capping at the titular
FLARE: The Flagler Review twenty dollars, a sum that could buy me a hefty handful of Pokémon cards. I had three lifelines. Phone a Friend became Search the Internet. Instead of Ask the Audience, Ask Your Mother. 50/50 remained the same. The living room became our game show studio, I at one end pacing back and forth as the grand prize got closer, Dad at the other end sitting in our rocking chair and reading from his printouts. He is a balding, gray-haired man, clean shaven then, years since he last had his dark mustache that I’ve only seen in photo albums and home movies, in which he looks a bit like Alex Trebek from bygone decades. I was ten years old, tall and chubby, and wore SpongeBob pajamas. Dad’s papers contained questions and multiple choice answers he wrote himself. One night, I answered my way up to this final Q: What is the name of the first book in the Bible? My last lifeline, 50/50, narrowed the answers down to (A) Genesis and (B) Exodus. I had no idea what these archaic-sounding words meant. Every neuron in my brain fired in search of the answer that separated my hand from the twenty dollar bill in the pocket of Dad’s khakis. I’d gone to Catholic school since first grade—shouldn’t Religion class have covered this by now? For minutes I agonized over my options. This is what it must feel like, I thought: the suspense of uncertainty suffered by all who sat in the real-life “hot seat” across from an inquisitive Regis. Dad, fed up with waiting, said, “I’ll give you a hint. The first three words in Genesis are ‘In the beginning.’” A talented over-thinker, I processed this new information like so: The Bible is about God. God is eternal. God existed before the beginning of everything. Also the Bible is a big book. Big books have prefaces, introductions, forewords. If Genesis starts in the beginning, there must be something before that. “Exodus,” I answered. My father said, “Is that your final answer,” with the elongated enunciation that really makes you question your choices. Neither of my parents wanted to say “no” or “wrong.” A few seconds of silence told me all I needed to know. “In the beginning,” Mom repeated. “Oh, Genesis, final answer,” I said. Dad gave me that twenty dollars, but I felt the hollowness of my victory, the embarrassment of my mistake. Q: How could I guarantee I would always be holding the right answers? Q: Would I feel truly happy if I could never be wrong again? **** Q: Why did my father invent this game? (A) He wanted me to learn from it and succeed in school. (B) He cherished family fun, but he was bored with the board games piled up in our basement. (C) He had downtime at work and, like all of us, had Millionaire on
Non-Fiction his mind. (D) He harbors a secret desire to become a game show host, which he passed down to me. **** I grew up without any siblings, but I spent weekends and summer afternoons surrounded by a large extended family. My mother has four brothers and two sisters, and I have so many cousins that I can’t name them all. For years, in summertime, my aunt Eileen and uncle Ray hosted barbeques on Saturdays, or the occasional game night during non-summer. In their crowded, two-story house I talked and played and fought with cousins older than me by five or eight or ten years. This is where, one Saturday at age eleven, I brought loose leaf papers covered in my own questions and answers. Although I was the baby in the family, pop-cultural common ground eased the burden of overcoming the age gap between me and cousins Andrew, Erik, and Brian, and even my uncle Frankie, who enjoyed many of the same cartoons and comics we did. A well-timed reference to a Calvin and Hobbes strip, for example, always helped me get a laugh and a nod of approval from this audience. Andrew and I, closest in age, spent the most time together, and quoting comics and TV became the lifeblood of our conversations. The success of these references apparently went to my head: the notion that the more I showed off my knowledge of, say, Calvin and Hobbes, the more I would fit in with my family. That’s one explanation for the game I created. I called it a “Quiz-Off.” I had all the research materials I needed in my paperback C&H collections. After school, for a week, I spent hours in my bedroom, rereading them at my desk and making notes on the details, from the shapes of Calvin’s snowmen, to the uses of the Transmogrifier, to Q: What noise does scientific progress make? (A: “BOINK”). I organized similar info-bits into lists. Gave each list a catchy title. Rephrased each statement as a question. Reordered the questions from least to most challenging. Assigned point values to each level of difficulty. I created my first game show. I carried my quiz sheets to Eileen and Ray’s next barbeque, where I herded Andrew, Erik, Brian, and Frankie into the den for my DIY trivia competition that lasted up to an hour. I sat in a swiveling chair with my four contestants in a semicircle around me. They listened and smirked as I explained the rules, derivative of Jeopardy!: one player chose the category, I read the question, then anyone could buzz in by slapping their knee. In my lap I had a pen, papers, and my mother’s big, gray solar-powered calculator for keeping score. The winner would carry the titles of Quiz-Off Champion and Calvin & Hobbes Ex-
FLARE: The Flagler Review pert for the rest of his life. My cousins and uncle played along. I have to credit them for indulging me, but not without laughing at my sincerity and conviction, teasing me and making me feel odd. Still they tried their best to answer correctly, and really did know a lot about the comic. They were hard to stump, but they hadn’t studied like I had. They could hurl jokes at my expense, but inside I was laughing at them, because I had the edge. I was the real expert. Only I had all the answers. I saved the toughest question for the Final-Jeopardy-style last round. Q: In what year was the first Calvin and Hobbes comic strip originally published? A: Erik wrote down “Watterson” and wagered “negative a million dollars,” saying, “So I win, right? I got it wrong, so subtract negative one million, and I have the highest score.” I laughed along with them, but I wanted it on the record that he was disqualified. **** Q: Why do I care today about a game I made up when I was eleven? (A) It was not an isolated incident, as I recall other times when I subjected my cousins and parents to made-up trivia games about SpongeBob and The Simpsons. (B) It shows I have a loving family that supports my passions and has fun together. (C) It shows I was a spoiled only child who went to absurd lengths to be the center of attention. (D) I am still that little kid who favors games that put me on a pedestal instead of the playing field—and whatever drives that desire not only affects my friends and family, but also might decide my career. **** For two years, in graduate school, I taught composition classes to first-year college students. We read articles by writing scholars about intertextuality and discourse communities, concepts that I’d never even heard of as an undergraduate. I never gave my students pop quizzes—only because our readings were so academic, too demanding to be fully understood on the first read—not because I didn’t want to. But I did find myself in every class asking them questions that I already knew the answers to. Wiser, more experienced teachers than I have pointed out that this is not the way to incite an insightful, thought-provoking discussion. It’s the problems that don’t have clear, definitive solutions, the questions for which I don’t have an answer card tucked in my sleeve, that we’re meant to wrestle with in Academia. Yet I asked my students, Q: What is a split infinitive? Then I lin-
Non-Fiction gered in the calm surf of silence and blank stares before I explained the answer myself. I tried to draw out students’ participation as much as possible, rather than lecture, but elementary, one-right-answer questions like this serve a different purpose, perhaps a selfish one. Q: Why did I get into this line of work in the first place? Not for any noble reasons like educating the impressionable minds of youths who will comprise our society’s future. Perhaps I enjoyed teaching, and want to return to it, because for as long as I find work I’ll always have a sustainable supply of captive audiences. Semester after semester, I will have my own group of youngsters whom I can feel smarter than and superior to. In my Master’s program, a few hours per week, I was the star of my own game show, host of a higher-stakes Quiz-Off, all eyes focused on me, even if sometimes they fell asleep. Where before I had my parents’ living room or my aunt and uncle’s den, so my classroom became my game show studio. Whether they realized it or not, my students competed for participation points. The showroom of fabulous prizes contained check marks and A’s circled on papers. The fluorescent bulbs in the ceiling were the nearest I’d come to a spotlight. At the front of the room, the chalkboard and projector screen served as my giant wall of blue monitors. The finest touch, though, was my lectern—a perfect parallel for Trebek’s podium. When I stood behind it, clad in jacket and tie, I felt in control. **** Pop Quiz: True or False? (1) Alex Trebek irritates me because I hear myself in his smug tone. (2) My love for taking charge of games comes from being spoiled by my parents, and looking up to older cousins, craving my family’s approval, fighting to be seen as smart. (3) As long as I teach for a living, I fear that my persistent urge to be the “host” with all the right answers may determine the course of my life.
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An Old Roommate Carol Smallwood
Recently I got an e-mail from a college roommate about her only grandson, a teenager, being found dead in his room. Things blurred, so I glanced above the titles of books, imagining the words marching in columns inside the unabridged dictionary: the cool black and white rows of logical sentences sure, trustworthy, steady. I remembered the philosophy book she gave me after she’d finished the class because I’d liked it more than my own. Yes, it was still there on another shelf: one of those books that you don’t see after seeing it so often. Her small, precise handwriting outlining exam questions (8 possibilities); the underlined text sprinkled with asterisks. My handwriting with arrows showing philosophy being in the middle of religion and science. The quote under the half title by William James, the preface about students needing to know the underlying values on which western civilizations survives. The black cloth cover was frayed, but the 1958 book had that solid feel of 486 pages of reason I’d treasured with enough suggested readings at the end to last both of our lifetimes. Inside on sheets of shiny paper that copiers once used was a summary of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám and a bookmark I made from flowered wallpaper glued back to back. I remember her on the way to church on a Sunday: her heels, short mouton jacket, green dress that went so well with her blonde hair. She was a pretty girl and was going steady with a popular boy that worked in one of the dorm cafeterias. She was some kind of Protestant; I’d gone to the Catholic church a few times the first year of college, but the mass in Latin only increased the flood of questions I was fighting about religion and I’d return to the dorm exhausted, returning to Plato’s dialogues and believing I’d find answers if I tried hard enough. I’d envied her sense of dress and social ease, her being a city girl, a girl who had dated a lot more than I had. She was majoring in Special Ed and was interested in people and I told her things I had never told anyone else as we talked about what being married must be like. Her voice had the little girl quality of Jackie Kennedy. We’d kept in touch over the years with Christmas cards after shopping with our first born children in strollers at J.L. Hudson’s; I’d met her husband, an engineer, and had envied her housekeeping: her bathroom literally sparkled and her living room pillows and curtains
Non-Fiction were out of Good Housekeeping or Ladies Home Journal. I didn’t know much about her grandson and didn’t ask questions about how he died not wanting to know the answers I suppose—just sending my sympathy and only managing the old sad but true advice about time helping to heal. Her husband had died quite a few years ago and I wondered if she still went to church in heels and envied her if she did. I moved her book to the shelf above me to remind me to keep in touch, wishing she had a couple of daughters to help her now. And wondered if she still had that mouton jacket with the stand up collar I’d admired that it suited her so.
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I have a bad habit of jumping into things. That may be why I’m driving to the edge of town, just before the fields of alfalfa start, where you can spot wild turkeys and smell the cows. I’m heading to a place most middle-class people never go: Sam Jones. As I get close, billboards in Spanish line the busy road. Latino mothers wheel strollers down sidewalks not designed for walking. At the end of the strip, I turn left onto a quiet country road. Just past a small convenience store, I head onto a narrower road. Ahead, a nondescript tan structure appears. I turn off the road into a large parking lot nearly empty of cars. At the far end, I see people gathered around a brown wooden picnic table. I grab my purse, gather up the supplies I’ve brought and lock the car. I follow the long sidewalk to the front. A plaque hangs to the left of the glass-fronted double doors. I stop for a moment and read. A former Army National Guard barracks, the building is dedicated to Lieutenant Samuel L. Jones. Now the place’s curious name, Sam Jones, makes sense. **** I never planned to teach writing to the homeless. I had volunteered to do some writing for the nonprofit that runs the shelter and provides other services to the poor. Somehow, that got me here. Like many Americans, my feelings about the homeless wobble back and forth, from pity and empathy to hostility and disgust. I assume that the majority of the homeless are dependent on alcohol or addicted to drugs. I add mental illness to the list of causes when I see someone raving on the streets, wrapped up in an olive green Army blanket, with wild, dirty hair. Cautioned by a recovering alcoholic friend not to give money to the homeless, that they would only use to buy booze and drugs, I restrict my giving to organizations that provide food, shelter and counseling. But for reasons I can’t articulate, I feel somehow responsible. That such a large group of people spends nights – and years – living on the streets doesn’t sit well with me. About a year and a half ago, I volunteered to help at a free Saturday breakfast provided for the homeless. That first morning, arriving at a downtown church with my husband while it was still dark, I was surprised to see a line of ragged-looking people already waiting outside.
Non-Fiction I was shown how to cut bagels donated by a local bakery with a contraption everyone referred to as the guillotine. I then learned to make quesadillas and pile them on a silver tray until they formed what Mia, the seasoned quesadilla volunteer, called Cardiac Mountain. I could see our guests, snaking through the lobby and dribbling onto the sidewalk out front as we prepared to open the doors. I felt nervous, since I had never interacted with homeless people before. But as soon as people began to file past, clutching white paper plates and plastic silverware, my fear began to subside. In place of fear, I found myself trying not to cry. Many were missing teeth. A handful needed to wash. Several men were past due for a shave. A few mumbled to themselves. Some women talked way too loud. A couple of young people, covered in tattoos and piercings, were jittery and words raced from their mouths. Some looked defeated. Others appeared lost. A few acted ashamed. But the majority seemed exceptionally cheerful, especially after one of the volunteers said, “Good morning,” or “Would you like some eggs?” And after hearing “God bless you” and “Thank you for being here” an untold number of times, it wasn’t hard to conclude that this meal and our being there so early in the morning to cook and serve meant a great deal to these people. Not only were our guests provided better quality food than they might be served at a shelter, they also got to come in out of the wet and cold and sit at large round tables with friends and socialize. Even more important, they were being served and talked to by non-homeless people not there to proselytize, but simply taking time out of their busy lives to acknowledge their humanity and show they cared. **** James, the Sam Jones site manager, leads me into the library from the dark cavernous space I will later hear called the all-purpose room. Tall and thin, James stands in the center of the room and shouts, “If you’re here for the writing workshop you can stay. Otherwise, you have to go.” Several bodies are curled up on the large, dark brown leather chairs and a comfy-looking matching couch surrounded by a coffee table and several tall, dark wooden shelves filled with books. While the all-purpose room screams institution, the library whispers home. People shuffle back and forth while I busy myself sorting out who’s staying, which names are already on the sign-in sheet and who is who. I pretend that I’ve done this a million times before. I introduce myself once everyone gets settled. I leave the door to the library open, as I’ve been advised to do, though I’ve also been assured that nothing’s ever happened. I ask each person to say their
FLARE: The Flagler Review name and what writing they’ve done. No one admits to writing before, which makes me worried that my tricks to inspire them won’t work at all. I pass around short writing excerpts to illustrate the topic we’re going to tackle. The first prompt will be, “Where do I come from,” and I’ve brought excerpts of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield and Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie. I read each piece and ask what they think. They all agree that by describing the circumstances of their births, both writers have told us so much about themselves and their stories. I give them twenty minutes to write, checking my watch from time to time, worried that no one will be able to write a thing and certainly none will sustain the writing the entire time. When I announce that the twenty minutes is up and ask if anyone needs more time, two guys raise their hands. I give everyone another five minutes and then ask folks to stop. “So how was that?” I ask. All of the men and the one woman have written something. Nearly everyone is ecstatic about what has come out. I can tell that they have just experienced what I wanted to share -- the magic that happens when a person sits down to write and pulls out the unexpected. For the first time, I start to calm down. I tell them they don’t have to share what they’ve written but ask if anyone would like to try. Sitting across the room from me on the right side of the leather couch, Keith gives me a half-smile. He nods and says he figures he’ll start. Keith begins with being born into a family “that wasn’t supposed to be.” He goes on to tell about a mother who didn’t want to be a mother at all. Then out of the blue, the mother disappeared, abandoning her four children to a man who didn’t have a clue how to take care of them. I am breathless by the time Keith finishes reading, as are the others. I ask the group, “Well, what did you think about what Keith read?” having already given them the cardinal rule that they must only offer positive feedback. “I wanted to hear more,” says Jim, an overweight, middle-age guy who used to be a long-distance truck driver. Then Jim asks Keith, “Did you ever see your mother again?” Wearing a navy blue crewneck sweater and neat dark blue jeans, Keith looks more like a young attorney than a homeless guy. He quietly responds, “No. I never did.” **** Each week after this, I make the drive out to the edge of town.
Non-Fiction I pull my compact Toyota into the nearly empty lot and walk up the sidewalk to the double doors. I change the topics, so that my students write about favorite foods, family holiday dinners, seasons and places they love. A few guys come week after week, while others drop in only once. Only two women are brave enough to show up. One writes about an angel that comes into her bedroom every night in the home she shares with her parents who fight all the time. She goes on to say that she started drinking too much, in an effort to make the angel go away. The other woman never tackles the topic but instead fills up several yellow-lined pages about why it’s so hard for her to write. One guy who comes every week, Bobby, wheels himself into the library using a black metal walker. He wants me to look at the nearly one hundred pages he wrote in New Orleans, while Hurricane Katrina raged outside. He lets me know that he was still using at the time. He spits out only a page or two at a time but the prose is humid and smoky, deeply evocative of the French Quarter when it was still a bohemian enclave. When he reads, I can practically feel the hot damp air and taste a hot piping beignet in my mouth. Mickey, with his ever-present tight, black wool cap, tattoos, oversize white tee-shirt and baggy pants, is my most devoted student. His cheeks are deflated, where teeth must have been. No matter what the prompt, Mickey nearly always writes about time spent outdoors. Of all the students, Mickey writes the most like a writer. He describes a nearly idyllic childhood. Every time he reads, I wonder what led Mickey to being homeless and sleeping in a shelter with one hundred and nineteen other souls. Carl is the most surprising. Like several folks who join the workshop each week, Carl only participates, I assume, because he doesn’t want to give up the comfortable leather chair in the library where he’s been sleeping. More than the other men and women in the workshop, Carl looks like a person you’d see panhandling on the sidewalk. He’s so worn down, I couldn’t begin to guess his age but peg him to be somewhere in his forties. His long hair is pulled back into a low ponytail that leaves loose strands around his face. He’s missing two top front teeth, but when he smiles, which isn’t often, I can tell he was once a good-looking guy. Like many of the men at Sam Jones, Carl appears to be wearing several layers of clothes. Though shelter residents are allowed to leave belongings on their assigned beds during the day when the dorm rooms are locked, Carl holds onto his stuff, which he keeps piled up on a metal luggage cart. After we write about place, Carl shyly agrees to read what he’s done. Unlike the others, who mostly describe favorite childhood
FLARE: The Flagler Review haunts, Carl writes about a place amongst the trees, where he must have been living before he ended up in the shelter. The piece begins, “The day they towed me and my van away. . . .” The following week, I’m disappointed when Carl doesn’t show up. But the week after, I step in through the double doors, and there’s Carl, standing to the side, next to his luggage cart piled with stuff. “Are you coming to the workshop?” I ask hopefully, and Carl says yes and nods. When I walk back to the site manager’s office and James hands me the sign-in sheet, I see that Carl has already signed up. That day, I have the students write about seasons. The first prompt is to write about a favorite season, while the second is to write about a season the students don’t like. When it’s his turn to read, Larry, a guy I haven’t seen before but whose left leg doesn’t stop pumping up and down, while his fingers keep a steady drumbeat on his knee, says, “I didn’t write about a season. I wrote about football because I played football in school.” Carl, who rarely comments on other people’s writing, immediately pipes in, “Football’s a season.” Then Jim goes on to explain when football season begins and that it ends with the Super Bowl in February. When it’s Carl’s turn to read, he readily agrees. He begins with a brief overview of the smells and sounds and colors of the calving season. Then he describes a common occurrence, in which a young calf happily figures out how to get on the other side of the barbed wire fence. Soon after, the calf wants to return to his mom, but can’t figure out how. Calf and mom proceed to bawl at one another, across that seemingly impenetrable wire divide. Though Carl is homeless and looks like a hundred other guys I’ve seen hanging out in alleys and doorways in the handful of West Coast cities where I’ve lived, I’ve gotten a glimpse of who Carl might have been before he ended up on the streets. As with Mickey, I wonder what wrenched Carl from a far different place and brought him here, where sweetness and hope are in pretty short supply. **** Each week, after I give my students the prompt, I scribble away in my notebook, every few minutes checking the time on my watch. Much of what I write I’ve written previously. Having spent decades plumbing my life for material, the prompts don’t lead me anywhere I haven’t been before. I’m relieved the students never ask me to share what I’ve written. In between scribbling bad stuff and consulting my watch, I ponder the questions that keep coming up in my mind. What has brought so many of these people here? And why have I been lucky enough to escape this fate?
Non-Fiction As I sit here, I realize that I am both similar to these people and not like them at all. In some ways when I enter those double doors, I step across the border into another country, with its own language and customs. Several times during the workshops, Jim, the former long-distance trucker, falls asleep and starts to snore. No one in the room mentions this or seems to notice. When Laura reads her piece describing living with her parents and hearing voices but then becoming homeless and having the voices go away, no one in the room seems to think Laura’s miraculous recovery from what sounds like schizophrenia wasn’t real. More than the fact that these men and women don’t have a place to live, I’m starting to see that the world they inhabit is far different from mine. Even though for the brief time I’m here each week, we can read and discuss literature, write and give feedback on the work, exactly as I once did in my university creative writing program, there exist all the ways this is not the same, and those we never discuss. Before taking on these workshops, I wasn’t given any information about the people I would work with here. All I knew was that several months before, Sam Jones had become a twenty-four hour shelter. Rather than making people leave each morning and come back late in the afternoon if they wanted a bed, the staff now gave clients a bed for up to six months and allowed them, if they so desired, to stay in the building all day. A number of classes and programs were being offered, which the staff hoped would help the residents move forward and change their lives. As it turned out, rather than being happy about the change to a twenty-four hour shelter, the clients didn’t like the idea of the shelter staying open all day. The staff had assumed that the clients would also take advantage of the opportunity to remain inside and attend classes. On this assumption, the staff turned out to be wrong as well. Though I had a small number of students who came back to my workshop each week, I was frequently disappointed when someone I thought I had reached through writing failed to return a second time. At the end of each session, I would make a mental list of the people I expected to see again. As it turned out, I was almost never right. In fact, as time went on, I began to get less and less students. Not only did fewer people sign up for the workshop ahead of time, but there appeared to be a smaller number of men and women in the shelter each time I arrived. Then one week, even my most devoted student, Mickey, failed to show up. I tried not to take this personally but it was hard. As much as I told myself that these weren’t the most responsible people in the world, I
FLARE: The Flagler Review couldn’t let go of the belief that if I had been able to inspire them, they would have come back for more. If they weren’t showing up for my workshop, didn’t that mean it was my fault? **** I step through the double doors on a bright sunny afternoon, wishing I were out on a trail somewhere hiking, rather than getting ready to spend several hours in a dark, windowless room. Though I enjoy the workshops and feel my time spent here is worthwhile, I also can’t help but be affected by what I hear and notice. I’ve long been aware that I have thin skin and a certain tenderness in my emotional makeup. I have struggled with low-level depression most of my life. Occasionally, I have sunk down into major depression. Therapy has helped. But I still fear situations, even too many gray days that might push me down. So in addition to the fear that my prompts, advice, and feedback won’t inspire my students, I also don’t like the effect the place and the people have on my mood. Up until now, though, I have gotten enough out of the teaching to offset the things I don’t like. But this afternoon, I’m surprised to see the library door shut tight. When I get close to the door, I hear voices on the other side. Since I’m scheduled to lead a workshop in five minutes and the only quiet, enclosed space we can meet in is the library, I hope whatever is going on there will end soon. I wend my way back to the site manager’s office. At first, James doesn’t recognize me. “I’m here to teach the writing workshop,” I remind him, feeling foolish that I need to introduce myself to this guy again. “Is there something going on in the library?” “Oh, yeah. There’s a neighborhood meeting. They should be done soon.” He steps a few feet away from his desk, grabs a sheet of white paper from the top of the copy machine and hands it to me. I look down at the sheet. Black lines start about an inch from the top, repeating nearly all the way down the page. My throat suddenly goes dry. Only one name appears on the page. By now, I’ve come to rely on picking up a few extra folks for the workshop from guys hanging around the library when I arrive. But the meeting in the library means that today no one will be in there once the meeting is over. I walk back to the large all-purpose and give the place a good hard look. Bodies fill the couches and fat stuffed chairs shoved against the back wall. Instead of quickly looking away as I do most days, I stare. Nearly everyone sprawled across the furniture is asleep. A few people
Non-Fiction sit here and there at the long tables, staring into space. The sign-up sheet rests in my bag next to the manila folder containing copies of the readings I’d planned for that day. A voice in my head taunts me. Not one of the regular guys came back, the voice says. Though I try assuring myself that I’m not to blame, I feel let down and ashamed. Each week, I spend hours coming up with prompts and scouring books for readings I hope will inspire my students to write. And it’s not just good writing I want my efforts to spark. I honestly believe that encouraging these people to delve deep and write will change their lives. Naively, I had thought that sharing my love of reading and writing would give these homeless men and women – recovering addicts and alcoholics, the mentally ill, the scarred and battered – the gift that I have received. Even more than therapy, I have long believed that reading and writing saved me. Books and writing handed me a special world, an incomparable retreat. In the real world, I had to fight against the hopelessness my depression sometimes wrought, but writing allowed me to transform the darkness into art. The previous couple of weeks, I let myself believe that a spark had been lit in a handful of the guys. The one lonely name mocks that assumption, letting me know my hours of planning and driving out to Sam Jones have been a fat waste of time. **** After thinking and thinking about that lone name, I decide not to continue offering the writing workshop. A few weeks later, I drive over to the downtown office where Amanda, the cheerful and energetic woman who oversees the homeless programs, works to return the unused notebooks and pens. As I walk back to my car in the parking lot, I suddenly notice a guy across the way who looks like Mickey. Just as I’m about to slide my key into the driver’s side lock, I give the guy another look. I’m pretty sure it’s Mickey and debate with myself whether or not I want to say hi. Before I give it any more thought, the words slip from my mouth. “Hey, Mickey,” I yell, and wave. The guy grins and waves back. The minute I get over to where he’s standing next to a dark blue Volvo, Mickey says, “I wrote you a note. I was in the hospital and just got back to Sam Jones. All I’ve been thinking about is wanting to get back into your writing class.” A wave of guilt washes over me. Maybe I haven’t really given these guys a chance. I explain to Mickey that I stopped offering the workshop because I didn’t get enough people signing up.
FLARE: The Flagler Review “You’re kiddin’ me,” he says, running a hand across his forehead. “I can’t believe that.” In between assuring me that he knows he can get more people to come to the workshop if I offer it again, Mickey gives me a blow-byblow description of what he’s been doing to get his car running. Every so often, he returns to the subject of the writing workshop, telling me how much he loved it, and that coming back to the shelter from the hospital he couldn’t wait to start writing. He also says something about not letting the guys at Sam Jones who’ve served time in prison intimidate me. He assures me that he’s never been in prison, and I start to wonder which of my students might have been ex-cons. I sense that Mickey thinks I didn’t come back because the ex-cons frightened me off. “Well, I better let you go,” Mickey says at last. “I’m happy to come back,” I tell him again. “If we can get enough people to sign up.” Once again, he assures me that he will round up more than enough people to come. I tell him to let the case manager know and add that I’ll alert the supervisor. Driving back home, I feel relieved that, at least, I reached one person. I let myself hope that Mickey will round up enough folks to make it worth my while to start driving out to Sam Jones once more. As soon as I get home, I email Amanda. She emails me right back, saying she will tell the case manager and the site manager to follow up with Mickey and find out if there’s enough interest for me to offer the writing workshop again. I check my email several times over the next few days, looking for an email from Amanda. A month goes by but I don’t hear back from Amanda again. I let myself feel disappointed again. And then I grab some paper and a pen, and begin to write the story about what happened when I found myself teaching writing to homeless men and women.
Split Complementary Emma Pokorny 8” x 11” Acrylics and ink on cardboard
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Michael and I start at the corner of Paris y San Francisco, hit #202 in Lastarria, then enter the bar district as long as our wallets can last. Iâ€™ve won and lost so many friends in this same way, tabs paid, the coins left in my pocket refusing to take me home. We flock to these makeshift deepfat fryers, twelve gallon stewpots strapped in shopping carts. They pepper sidewalks near the mouths of metro stations, oil smoke frying the air, puffing up sopaipillas, pastries stacked in piles like second-hand saffron flat caps. Chilly wind at our backs, heads slush-filled fishbowls on our shoulders, we post up, hands to the heat, fish 100 pesos from our coat pockets, fill up on squash bread heaped with aji. His Brogue, my Yankee, both gringo, lost on vendors. They hand us our street communion, labor of nocturnal priests, tempered gold pieces hailing our confessions: how moving homes is an afterthought, distance the only way we justify treating everyone we meet abroad like cobblestones.
For us, English is an escape, tongue in which we celebrate what we leave, staying out until subway trains yawn with students on Thursday morning. Suits, stained cargos emerge from doorways, hightail it toward the carts, sopaipillas now breakfast tickets skewered on a metal spine. Pressed between sunlight and sleep, in the subtle bubble of salamandrine fryer heat, we return to our own beds on the bus line—split at Paris and San Francisco. The pit of my belly churns the grease, hastily filled like a suitcase of unwashed clothes— knots me up with an image just like this, weeks away, a hurried embrace before I open a taxicab door, say, aeropuerto Arturo Benítez.
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The Artist at Death Station
She paints glass locomotives Crashing into a canvas On a dark gray night While burnt paintbrushes ache In tall cups of distilled waterSquirming on a brass mantle. Lost friends wait on Rusty windowsills Wooden floors stretch thin, Rocking, hissing, like dead snakes Stale napkins tip a marble table Dark sherry spills on lace Muffled voices mark the Vanishing stairs Swirling corpses, spinning legs Dangle in the sooty shadows Strangers fold in crooked pairs On broken couches, in charred Corners of a haunted house
Kerosene drips from scorched lips And chandeliers rattle in fire A fierce wind blows through virgin Curtains in an empty room upstairs And she wears black necklaces And orange shawls; and sobs a whileCollapsing on the pure… white… And forsaken….canvas wall.
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Those long afternoons after the workshop. The tidal river restless, a hunger for somewhere ahead. We could swim out, you saying. We could die out there and begin a life of the sea. Was it madness or laughter? How did we figure in? We believed ourselves writers, gathering in the tropes from the stagger wind west to east, our hair flattened like two mops after much scrubbing. We tramped the mud flats, dug holes to feel the cool, the clay now red now blue now only lumps no painter would copy. 0ur backpacks full of poems, first drafts still in transit for the instructorâ€™s pounding, his sideways smiles that said perhaps or not. But we were devotees of the blank page and willing pen, disciples more than numbers in a registrarâ€™s diary.
As sun weakened and a thin moon rode in, we folded the best of those poems or drafts into paper boats and sent them on to fame or early death by salt water. I don’t know why. I can’t explain how poetry’s music might bloom between the ends the beginnings.
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Beyond the Butterscotch Daniel Ruefman At age six, I had enough of the lint-covered butterscotch hard candy passed to me by the apathetic old man at the end of our pew; my mother stood and filed down the aisle, took the host on her tongue, and the old man slid me a stale, sticky disc that absorbed bits of its own wrapper; in catechism, we were forbidden to ask of the hypocrisy of the teacherâ€™s pending annulment, or of the murder of soldiers in action overseas; we thumbed rosary beads, memorized the creed that told of a begotten Jesus, and of the virgin of the holy catholic and apostolic church, without ever knowing of sex; we were told to take it on faith that parroting these words would spare us eternal torment; at six, I took the candy, swallowed the bits of cellophane and lint that I could not separate from the sweet, but as the sugar subsided, I discovered that the grit could not nourish, and the fabrication could not sustain.
The green shutters and porch encumbered with shingles, smashed Coke cans and sweatshirts, the ladder my father slipped from as it careened across the roof onto the hood of our rusted Volvo. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where I sat at an Italian restaurant with my mother, garlic burning our eyes. My father in the yard, his back and arm shattered beneath him, dirt smearing his jeans, then at the hospital, and at home watching our counter fill with lasagna, cookies, flowers. My father sleeping in a lawn chair near the kitchen, lying on a picnic table so we could wash him with a garden house. Two months later, my father struggling up the stairs. Days I glimpsed him in the reading chair, reading nothing.
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Once More with Feeling Thomas Delano I feel like the ground beneath my feet, not dirt-dirty but weary and wary of living roots pressing close. Push past the metaphor: I’ve been living in my head so long I can’t feel what it is I’m missing. Emotion is a dance and I fall through my motions, flat feet tangled and soles worn to the bone. Surely I don’t wear my words like a dress and waltz my way into feeling. I’m thinking: numbnumbnumb and maybe I’m better off Transition: you ever been so alone that you slow-cook the idea of starving for days? Talk about the inner voice arguing the irrelevancy of life. I’m tripping all over in place. Sometimes, big words make me feel real expressive. Seriously, I am comprehensively translucent (false). I am capable of hiding everything behind a mask while forgetting the body beneath (true). Metaphor: another way to say nothing and put on a great show. I’m a child poet spinning in his tattered dress on the wrong side of the fence and nothing makes sense to me except my pleading imperatives: tell me that my young heart broke for better rearrangement. Tell me my dull lines mean something. Whisper a sweet new proverb, like loss is a cycle of life for fruit-bearing trees and you might grow again. Show me I’m not some lifeless root stuck underground, just a kid who can’t tell the dirt from his feet. If I ever lie dormant in the stupid flurry of my emotion, tell me even the dead wake when the earth trembles.
The Christmas Tree at My Therapist’s Office Jessica Hylton
Last week it didn’t fit. Its tall peak slumped Under the weight Of the ceiling This week it did. Lights twisted Around each branch Beautifying the decapitation
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Cigarettes & Chocolate Marty Saunders When you forgot the abandon — how we can race with another body to each dead end in the maze of desire, you saw, as if for the first time, the delicate shape of her hands, how they tremble when she laughs. You saw the veins branching across the pale landscape of her chest, the perfect arc of her feet. And, though I know it isn’t right to say, in that moment you loved her. Plain & crazy in the simple & naïve way a boy thinks he loves a girl. Out of pure gratitude for the simple fact of her. In a city that existed before a kiss ever crossed your lips, before you could know the two ways a man can hold a woman in his arms, your father would drive with you down a cracked, two lane road on the banks of the Monongahela. The wind whipping in his open window, the abandoned steel mills rolling by outside. You didn’t think to ask. And if you would have, your father wouldn’t have said: pig iron to steel,
the blast furnace & foundries. Industrialization, growth. That we are prone to pull & tear at the earth, so we may have more than our need. You didn’t understand then, and still don’t. Over the sheets, your bodies are stretched out like so many hills & valleys. And, thousands of miles away from the water, you reach for one another — like kids holding a shell up to their ears to hear the sound of the ocean.
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Moon-Throat, Swing Jayson Clury Lynn the leather chords in my throat— listen for the blues. As they put down the mutts on the moonlit asphalt. Hug the throat, as flesh turns indigo. Girls make me miss the skin, as we slice into each others spines. Looking for a chisel in the craters, Moon-throat, swing away like it’s opening day. The sun barks when it comes back around, as we convulse. Moon-throat leaves me robin’s egg blue.
Nothing in the Dark Beatriz Fernandez
(Twilight Zone, Season 3, Episode 81) Neither horned, nor fanged, nor scythed, nor mounted on a pale horseâ€” Just a nice-looking young man I invite in from the dark, pour a cup of jasmine tea, admire his shining hair, white teeth, until he takes my hand and leads me where a gentle release awaits like a secret lover in a cabin deep in a fern-filled forest, secure in the certainty that surely, swiftly, I will come.
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Barefoot on the Riding Mower William Doreski
Barefoot on the riding mower I sever three toes the first time around the yard, two more on the second sweep. The blood trail attracts wolves. I didnâ€™t know we still had wolves in New Hampshire. They gather at the edge of the lawn and look so hungry and sad that maybe I should let them eat me. But weak and limping I trip indoors, bandage my feet, lie down to nap before finishing the lawn. Buckets of fried chicken feet spangle my dream. When I rouse into thunderous but fading light my severed toes have regrown, my blood supply renewed. When I glance outside I note the wolves have left for Canada, leaving a scuffle of tracks and scat. Properly dressed, booted, grim with purpose, I restart the mower and attack the lawn. Already the grass has regrown, like my toes. I mow several broad circles without disaster, then fall asleep. When I tumble from the mower I manage to decapitate in a slur of cloudy erasure.
The wolves arrive again, sneering, but before they reach the scene I manage to reattach myself and shake myself free of dream and finish mowing the lawn with a calligraphic flourish large enough to see from the moon.
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Above Emile Creek David Anthony Sam
The old valley the sandstone rocks in the black loam like valuable ore on the steep hillside the clambering boy getting the black loam under his fingernails scrabbling up the hill to grab the cut wild grapevine as thick as his wrist to swing full wild free across the creek to cheers of salamanders and crawfish and echoes of joyful hillside landing on the other bank full of wisdom
Like a child on a fieldtrip to the aquarium, on tiptoe, palming bulbous rock to scan murky tank, I superimpose my eyes on glass over dancing crabs in scuttled sand. Lit fish flick to inky black oblivious that they have turned metaphorâ€“â€“ flecks of gold, vermillion, teal, sparking tank electric. Long quiet neurons fire until I ache to reach up and over the rim, sink an elbow deep in viscous green, untangle ropy strands to catch sparkle fish. But one quick shimmy flits them into coral cave, tiny orifice through which they can slip but not me.
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St. Augustine Beach Jennifer Albrecht When my father saw her sunbathing, her lean body that would one day push me from it, over and over, Maybe he knew in an instant his bohemian life had ended. Knew from the string-tied birds fastened around her figure, her wide hands, two starfish holding Helter Skelter, sand in the creases. Perhaps the tide opened inside him, deep in that place that would later shut down just before my ninth birthday. My mother bloomed like plankton and saw her whole future hanging on his hanker-chief stick. The way she would one day rest on his back, and be carried from place to place suffering a bit more each year. He might have tossed his black hair just right to catch the sunlight and smile the way I remember, the super nova way. She may have seen the indigo depth in the quiet distance of the shallow water and agreed to a date. Later that week her nerves spilled food on him. A waterfront seafood place anchored down with rusted steel and barnacles. A decade later he would spill food on himself nightly, anchored down by a furrowed brow and fermented silence.
Maybe when he walked down that beach searching for seagulls and sunsets, he could have considered the many invertebrates beneath his feet, the ones not yet to shore. The krill swarm he would leave behind when the dividing tide came to swallow him up. Instead they drove off. The backseat filled with my fatherâ€™s knapsack, bow and arrows, a deck of cards; those things that would take up all the space. My mother without bones, folded like a jellyfish to his side. Waiting, as we all would. For the humpbackâ€™s song. For another lagoon.
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To See What You Had Seen Colette Tennant
I held your arm through the gabardine sleeve even though it felt like stone. And I remember you were Kentucky beautiful. Through the Porta Pia serious as Deuteronomy and down the worn cobbles of the Forum, the old light of the old sun laced down through the ancient pines, their branches like dark, ragged wings. I crossed the Ponte Sant’Angelo over the Tiber, and I walked the Hall of Maps, its many seas colored with crushed lapis, saw sea monsters and Neptune and rafts full of angels. I crossed the Bridge of Sighs and the flirty Rialto, and I wandered through Uffizi’s Room of Marvelous things, saw a monkey’s hand and the cherubs and a toadstone, and waded through gold on the Ponte Vecchio, and I heard a bird call outside my window that night, and I floated under the arches of the Pont Neuf in Paris, stood in the pigeons and the rain and the wrought iron and the stones by Charlemagne who fathered ninety children. And I crossed the channel by water to see the white cliffs you had seen in the war, and the cliffs came at the ferry through the fog like columns of white ghosts.
Lemons Wayne Burke 9â€? x 9â€? Colored pencil
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Misty Valley Wayne Burke 10” x 8.5” Ink drawing
Sunny Glen Wayne Burke 7” x 8” Ink drawing
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The Great Telephone Pole Wayne Burke 12” x 9” Ink drawing
Featured Artist Micro Interview Wayne Burke Q. At what point in your life did you realize that you were an artist? A. At no point in my life have I been convinced that I AM an artist. Other people have told me I am an artist. I’ve taken their word for it. Q. Are any of your landscapes inspired by places you’ve actually been? A. Most all of my pieces are inspired by actual places or things. Only in my rare ventures into abstraction do I work entirely from imagination. Q. What do you hope your viewers feel when they look at your work? A. What a viewer of my work feels makes no difference to me. My hope is that viewers of my work find themselves drawn into the pictures regardless of what or how they feel about them. Not so much a feeling that I’m out to evoke, but rather a visceral reaction. Q. What advice would you give to aspiring artists? A. I don’t know… Take classes maybe. Copy work of other artists to see how they did it. Work at it. Listen to advice, but don’t necessarily take any. A certain amount of technical information can be given but nobody can give or teach anyone else a style—that comes from within.
FLARE: The Flagler Review
Crescent Boulevard Chelsea Reppin Digital Photography
I’m watching the flickering candles on Jamie’s face as she admires her birthday cake. Before making a wish, she looks up at me. Franco, did you really make this? I’d struggled with recipe books for days trying to make the perfect chocolate cake but the eggs kept breaking and the texture wasn’t right and everything tasted rubbery so I bought one at a bakery a few towns away, in the opposite direction of her job so as to make sure she’d never recognize it. And I told her I made it. I wanted her to be proud of me. Sick, because she’s my wife, but the truth, because I don’t have anything else. Her eyes are uncharted oceans and the wax is dripping down the candles fast. Yes, baby, I did. And then the flickering gold light around her mouth and cheeks turns in to violent red and unwelcome blue in her eyes and the light comes before the sound, and the sound comes before they come in to take me. She’s confused. We both are. As the car pulls away from our tiny house, I close my eyes and picture her eyes and her dress and I pray that she blew out the candles before all the wax melted into the cake that I couldn’t believe I lied about. How did you know the victim? She’s my niece. My brother’s kid. Can you describe your relationship with her? Pretty close, I guess. Mumbling isn’t gonna get you out of here any faster. Close, I guess. Jamie can’t believe she is going to be an aunt. When my brother first tells us he’s having a kid, Jamie makes a huge celebratory dinner. With her mouth full of fresh yams, sautéed carrots, marinated roasted chicken with rosemary, and wild Spanish rice, she tells us this is the best news she’s heard all year. We’re falling asleep and the summer breeze dances in our cheap white curtains and she complains that her face is sore from smiling all day. I rub her cheekbones with my dry hands and she teases that the skin is almost white from calloused cracks, and it all leads to amazing sex and when we wake up we go to the mall and buy a baby crib with our rent money. I’m going to be an aunt, she tells everyone, the landlord will understand.
FLARE: The Flagler Review Do you remember what the victim was wearing? No. Mr. Gonsalves, what was Kiely Moore wearing when she was murdered? I don’t remember. Do you consider yourself a violent person? No. You have a record, Mr. Gonsalves. The charges were dropped. You assaulted a minor. I was eighteen… Franco Gonsalves, child killer. Local man brings shame to town. Imagine the headlines. The press is gonna eat this up. Jamie hates the news. Strange, because she’s brilliant and reading the news seems like something smart people should do. But it makes her cry. Instead, she reads shallow, simple novels about flat characters and invests no energy in the plots. She says the only drama she has time for is real life. She says she hates fiction but she hates non-fiction too. The only stories she enjoys are the ones she’s a part of. Can I have some water? Only coffee. Do you remember what the victim was wearing? No. The judge has no sympathy for former felons. I don’t know what she was wearing. Maybe this will jog your memory. I vomit right there on the table. Surprising, because I’ve been in this room for almost a day and haven’t eaten. The photograph is printed on fancy photo paper in sharp, precise ink. I can see the auburn undertones of Kiely’s hair; she gets them from her mom. My brother’s wife is hot, but she’s no Jamie. Even my brother told me that Jamie was the best girl I could ever hope to get, that he doesn’t know how I got so lucky. I don’t know if he ever loved Kiely’s mother, but that auburn hair was really something. The ink is smudged at the top corners of the photo, as if it had been ripped out of the printer before it was done. The light on the black garbage bags in the photo is speckled, reflecting the spotty clouds of an afternoon sky. Her little fingers are bent, frozen in a lifeless grip on the trash bags around her in the dumpster. Then I remember the pink dress.
Fiction Remember it now? Yes. Tell us in a complete sentence. My niece, Kiely, was wearing a pink dress with green ribbons. What were you and the victim doing? I picked her up at school and took her to town. Why did you pick her up? I always do on Fridays. Her dad works late. How do you know her dad? She’s my niece. He’s my brother. Don’t be a smart ass. I just assumed you knew that she’s my— What flavor should I get, uncle Franco? I tell her she should probably stick to vanilla because her dad will kill me if she gets chocolate on that pretty new dress. She contemplates this for a moment, shifting her feet on the large-tiled floor of the ice cream parlor. I consider the way her tiny brain takes in the expansive world in front of her, how she has the capacity to do anything. I picture her in the future as a lawyer, a scientist, or a famous actress perhaps. An unbelievable success, with an entire closet full of pink dresses that she can stain with chocolate as she pleases. Somehow I see her in an adult’s body, but her face remains childlike, trusting, and eager. Her eyes wide, her eyebrows in disarray and her small chin sticking out as she ponders. Can I get sprinkles? I’ve seen a lot of cases, Mr. Gonzales. That’s not my name. In your situation though, it makes the most sense to confess. I won’t. More coffee? I have to get out of here. I need help. We are offering you a solution, Mr. uh— I’m not gonna say I killed my niece. You were the last person to see her alive and you droppe her off less than a block away from where she was found dead an hour later. You have a criminal record. I was eighteen, I— And when was the last time you saw Kiely Moore? Around 2pm, I already said— And wasn’t your only responsibility to drop her off safely? Yes, and I always— And didn’t you fail to do that?
FLARE: The Flagler Review Yes, because— So it’s indisputable that you are responsible for her death, and— No, I— And because her death is due to your negligence, you will take full responsibility? I guess— Mr. Gonsalves, are you responsible for the assault and murder of Kiely Moore? Yes. And then they let me sleep. I see Jamie in flashing images under my eyelids. She’s standing in the doorway of our bedroom. The light from the hallway behind her struggles through her wiry curls and she is laughing. I cannot see her face. Her feet glide across the floor, her bony toes curling under with every step and when she gets to the bed she says she wants to make love but then she turns on the news instead. I’m watching the television’s light move weakly on her cheekbones and I notice that her legs are shrinking. Though she’s sitting against the headboard, her little legs just barely reach over the pillow. She swings them back and forth playfully and asks again to make love, this time turning off the television and reaching out to touch me. Get up, Gonsalves. How long have I been asleep? Am I your personal alarm clock? I was just wondering like, minutes or days?And I’m wondering if my girlfriend’s tits are real but I’m not gonna ask. That’s a diff— We’re moving you. Where? To the city. Stand up, do you think inmate transport is the only goddamn thing I gotta do today? The school bus has been painted white and blue. It’s just me and three other guys, each led by a corrections officer. The bus bounces in a rickety symphony of physical emptiness and I’m convinced that if I’d eaten in the past three days, it wouldn’t be bouncing so much. I stare at the back of the seat in front of me. The fabric has two large water stains and when I’m about to fall back asleep, they turn into eyes; two large brown eyes seem to open and swallow me into their ambiguous misery. They’re familiar, but they’re not Jamie’s.
Fiction From the seat I’m strapped to, they appear upside-down and my brain can’t figure out how to turn them towards me but I’m getting anxious. I need to know whose eyes they are. You don’t have a pacemaker or anything right? Jesus, no. I’m thirty-five. Well you’re going through a metal detector before you get stripsearched and if there’s any problem, I get docked. Well, I don’t have a fake heart. They’re gonna put a finger in your ass, and I need you to avoid s**tting at all costs. If there’s any s**t, I get docked. Well, I don’t have anything in my stomach to s**t out. Excellent. I can’t get docked, Gonsalves. My kids need Christmas presents. Okay. The entrance is up here. Stop screwing around with those handcuffs or I’ll make them tighter. The eyes come back. They dance around my head while I’m getting searched and when I’m settled in a new cell I’m able to turn them around and see them as a part of something bigger, something much more important than water stains. I feel like I’ve solved a mystery and the eyes are suddenly all I can see. They’re looking up at me, they’re telling me to follow them. It’s over here, Uncle Franco! She’s right. It is the perfect little bicycle, complete with pink plastic tassels on the handlebars and shiny rims on the training wheels. I wanted to be the one to find the best birthday present for my niece, but she runs off on her own the way she does and discovers it all by herself while I am still in the front of the store looking at helmets. Do you like it? I tell her it’s almost as beautiful as she is and I instantly regret making that connection. I buy the bike. I watch intently as two men with fat fingers play checkers and talk about the way women smell. I drum my fingers on my knee to a familiar rhythm that plays repeatedly in my head and they ask for my name. Uh, Franco. They laugh absently and push the checkers onto the wrong squares. Don’t tell anyone your first name, Gonsalves. I wait for them to say more. They don’t, and when they leave the room I am left waiting. A retarded man asks me to make him a crossword puzzle and I truly don’t want to, but he has one tooth and I have nothing else to do. Can you stay in here until I fall asleep? How old are you now, six? Shouldn’t you be able to fall asleep
FLARE: The Flagler Review without a grown-up in the room? She tells me she’s scared of bad dreams and that her parents always stay in the room until she falls asleep. They only asked me to watch her for the weekend; they never said that I’d need to sit and wait. She asks me why bad dreams exist and I tell her they’re there to test us. I explain that if there were no bad dreams, we wouldn’t be challenged to be happy, it would come too easily and it wouldn’t be real happiness. I’m disgusted at the philosophical explanation of something so trivial to a six-year-old, so I stop myself and start over as though I’m making some sort of voice recording. Bad dreams are little demons. She gasps, filling up her shallow lungs with air and opening her wide eyes into the dimly lit room. We have to push them away. She hums softly, as she does when she’s deep in thought. She began doing that before she could even speak, and Jamie always said she knew Kiely was a smart baby. Wanna make a deal? I tell her she is much too young to know that phrase. I smile into the dark. I tell her she is growing up too quickly. It depends what the deal is. She fidgets under the comforter and clutches a stuffed animal. Shadows from the window illuminate a crack in the molding along the floor and I stare at it until it multiplies. Every time I have a bad dream, I can wake you up. The crack in the molding might be dirt. I squint. Fair enough. Even if I call you on the phone. I refocus my eyes and her eyes are closed. Well, what if I’m far away and it’s not a good time where I am? What if I’m in Australia? What’s Australia? Her voice is getting lower and shaking at the ends of her sentences, as my brother told me it does when she is tired. I’ve been listening for it. I was instructed not to let her get overtired. Ugh, far. There’s a big time difference. Well I think there’s a big time difference between bad dreams and good dreams. I think of her little mind again and I wonder if mine was ever that simple. Well, good dreams are—and she snores. It sounds the way a baby pig probably does when it takes its first breath in the world, and she is sound asleep. It’s fortuitous, really, because I don’t have a good way to end that sentence. You’ll be here until you’re sentenced. When is that? Jesus, Gonsalves, I have no idea. Do you think my job is to keep track of your court date?
Fiction Well, when will I see a lawyer? You already confessed. What do you need a lawyer for? I didn’t— Here’s a toothbrush. Don’t drop it, because you won’t get another one. Jamie wakes up on Christmas morning with crust around her mouth and knots in her hair. She stares at our bedroom ceiling as though it’s playing a film and she breathes into her stomach, which rises and falls between thin sheets. I wait for her to speak. Merry Christmas she mutters. I stumble downstairs to make coffee, which I enjoy in the shadowy solitude of our kitchen. I pour a cup for Jamie but stop on the stairs to drink it. My teeth welcome the bitter heat. She is still lying in the same way. It’s snowing. From where I stand, I can’t see Jamie’s eyes moving. This is peaceful, I offer. I love you. I had a dream, Franco. Color rushes back into the vast whiteness of her cheeks. Her eyes meander back to the screen on the ceiling and she clutches the covers in her palms. “But I don’t know if—“ her voice trails off and she sits up, adjusting her position so her whole torso faces me. Her breasts are invisible under her loose t-shirt. The empty coffee cup is still in my hand. I’m not sure if it was a good dream or a bad dream. She disappears into the bathroom and reappears with her hair in a bun, still in the t-shirt, taking deliberate, seductive steps. She looks down at her bare legs, then back up at the ceiling, then at me. I was crying in the dream, Franco. Sometimes she repeats my name as though she might forget it. My mother finds it endearing. It wasn’t bad crying, it was just different. She looks at me the way she does when she’s desperate for me to say something. She tightens her closed mouth until her lips turn white and she curls her toes under. You were singing to me in the dream. Why don’t you ever sing to me, Franco? I lunge forward and cover her cheeks with my palms, kissing her and stepping into her body and her feet float off the ground. She hates being carried.I tried to carry her in one of the photos after our wedding and she cried; she smeared her makeup and told the photographer to leave. I wrap my hands below her rib cage and hoist her up, throwing her on to our bed. How much do you love me? She rips off the t-shirt and I grab it from her hands. I will use it. Tell me you love me, Franco. Her skin is hot and her voice crackles under the muffling of my chest on hers. Can you just say it? She moves her shoulders and I hold them down. I plunge my tongue between her parted lips and enter her. She is screaming, flailing her limbs hopelessly under the weight of my body and she is leaning into me but she is telling me to
FLARE: The Flagler Review end it. Stop, Franco! Say please, I whisper into the unexpected chaos. She thrashes and squirms and says nothing. When it’s over I stumble out of the shower and downstairs, naked, in a sudden haste to get more coffee. I admire her near-lifeless body, sprawled out once again on the bare bed, all of the blankets on the ground around her like a turbulent moat and she is scared to breathe. Shortly afterwards, we pile wrapped presents into the car and silently drive to my brother’s house, where we always spend Christmas. Neither of us speak until Kiely runs out onto their snowy lawn in her pale yellow pajamas to sing carols to us. She begins with a squeaky and unmistakable rendition of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. “Beautiful,” I offer. “That was unbelievable.” My cellmate uses string to tie an empty shampoo bottle to the rungs of the top bunk so it hangs right above his stomach when he’s lying down. He grunts every time he hits it and watches it swing back and forth. He tells me his name is Jim. Jim has a gray beard and leathery skin covered in colored tattoos that have been afflicted by time. He speaks in his sleep. I remember. He interjects comments into silence and is usually talking to himself. I remember Joni, he offers in his gravelly vibrato, but a few ways. He swings a skinny arm at the shampoo bottle and it hits the wall. A corrections officer comes into view, loitering silently outside our cell. He watches. There are a lot of pretty girls, Jim continues, and I consider the possibility that these fragments, spaced at least forty-five seconds apart, may be addressed to me. He hits the shampoo bottle again. So many pretty girls. He is immersed in the world he is describing. I imagine his arrest, his processing, his life ending at the age of seventeen. I imagine what he looked like without a beard and I can only see him as a toddler, pushing a wagon and smiling at the sun. I can’t remember which one was Joni. More than two tragic minutes pass and the CO leaves. Well, you remember that you loved her, right? That’s right. So many pretty girls, they’re al—He falls in and out of sleep and I watch him. His own snoring wakes him up. We can think about a lot, Gonsalves. We can convince ourselves— Anything. He is about to sleep again. The brain is a powerful thing. Do you remember what it felt like to love Joni? Do-you-remember-what-it-felt-like-to-love-Joni, he whispers softly and breathlessly to himself, I do remember. But, so many pretty girls, I can’t— It’s okay. You don’t have to remember what she looked like,
Fiction right? Screw it, you know she was hot! Hot, ha. Hot. Right. The details aren’t so important, Jim. You can remember how she made you feel. You can remember love, and you got to experience it, even if it was just for a moment. Who cares what she looked like? Make up a picture of her in your head and love that person. It’s better that way anyway. He hums, tapping the shampoo bottle with his skinny fingers until he falls asleep again. It is summer and we are at the playground. The overcast sky is a blanket of vastness and the children run through shadowy heat. They sing; curious, restless, untainted. A group of slightly older children are playing a version of hide-and-seek and I ask if she wants to join them but she shakes her head absently and runs her fingers through the sand. Alright, kiddo, I offer, are you okay? The shallow questions hang idly in the space between us. Her dirty hands, impossibly small, build mounds of sand just to break them down and her eyes wander up to meet mine. Is it hard being a grown-up? I build a mound of sand on the ground in front of her. She waits. Sometimes. Sometimes being a grown-up is the worst thing. But grown-ups have tons of freedom; we can make choices, get married and have our own families so in that way, it’s pretty cool. Her mouth is slightly open and I become very aware of the gaps between her tiny teeth. Why do you want to get married? I’m not married, and I’m happy! Her eyes are smiling but the bottom half of her face remains serious, with the darkness of her mouth emerging from behind her lips. She breathes into her round stomach and watches me intently. Marriage is great. She squints quizzically and I try to look away. You can share everything, live in a house together and, I mean, you know who you will be with for the rest of your life. You can be certain. Certainty is nice. Are you married to Aunt Jamie? Of course, silly goose. Well, what do you talk about? I build another mound and she knocks it down. Her expression offers sympathy beyond what a sixyear-old should be able to summon. I am, once again, in awe. Uncle Franco? I nod through glassy eyes and veiled embarrassment. I don’t think I want to be a grown-up. Well of course you do. You’ll be a great grown-up. But I don’t wanna be one. I wish I could be a kid, just like this, forev— Stop that. She jolts her head up, as surprised as I am by my abra-
FLARE: The Flagler Review sive interruption. I just mean, you are going to do important things when you grow up. But my daddy said the only important thing is love. He’s right. Your dad says some pretty smart things, huh? You’ll grow up, and find someone to love. He’ll be your best friend, and you’ll live the perfect life. I imagine a heart, but, an anatomically correct aorta, not the traditional cookie cutter heart, in a small box. In my mind, the box grows smaller and smaller around the increasingly large heart and its walls are closing in, crushing it. I am wrapped up in anxiety and I dig my shaking hands into the sand. I feel out of touch, alienated from myself, and I can’t see why. She hums before she speaks. But you’re my best friend, Uncle Franco. If I could stay a kid and you could stay my best friend, that would be… Her voice trails off and she is lost in the residue of a daydream. She dusts the sand off her hands, shrugs her shoulders and jumps up, allowing her tiny, pudgy legs to carry her to the slide. The ladder is facing me, its rusted metal rungs are a stairway to nowhere and the sand feels chalky under my fingernails. She climbs up, slipping on one step but regaining her balance. At the top of the ladder, she pauses and turns around, not to look at me but to pose against the naked sky. She stretches her arms out to both sides, laughing about freedom and turning back around slowly. All too quickly, she sits at the top and pushes off with her feet, disappearing down the slide and filing away a million little demons.
‘Sitting’ from Hazel Rachel Jamison Webster
Have you ever sat for a portrait? Do you even know how it begins? Sometimes it begins with hunger, wanting not only a good meal and glittering conversation at night when the men take you out, but wanting to have something warm in the daytime, a bit of food that you can eat slowly, in privacy. Sometimes it begins with a string of nights of no man buying you so much as a small plate to share with the drinks. It begins with that three-day, involuntary fast and walking past a bakery and the smell of the pastries shuttling you back to a past you had almost forgotten—when you woke to the smells of hot bubbling berries and buttery crusts and toddled out into the kitchen, sleepy-eyed. In that yellow light you watched your mother bending to the oven and setting the pies out on the rack, humming to herself, your mother already up on one of her “up” days. You stuff your hand into the torn pocket of your coat, push your finger so far into the hole it throbs your finger numb, and you wish you could crumple and go back to sleep right there on the sidewalk. Sleep until the hunger subsides and you are that little girl again, waking. And then you pull your finger out, stinging, and something else comes up in your throat, burning bile, the acid of hunger, and a stubborn thought, if she can survive so can I. And so you begin picturing it: a crusty baguette and cold butter sliced in a little white pot, ready for spreading, and hot tea that someone else pours for you as you sit at a marble-topped table to read. You go in smiling and offer to wash dishes in the back all day just for the chance to sit in the front of the café. You sit, putting bits of cold butter on the tip of your tongue and letting it melt there, softening and slickening the crumbs, as you sketch in your journal. The man at the table beside you watches. He interrupts to ask what you are drawing and to say that your face, when you draw, is very expressive. He tells you he is an art instructor. He leans over to pour your tea for you and for a moment you think he is going to invite you to attend his class. But he doesn’t. He asks if you will you sit for them. And you say yes.
FLARE: The Flagler Review **** You pull the pin and your scalp loosens as you lift off your hat of shaped and stiffened wool. Under its stretched inner net your hair has dampened a bit and thickened into curls on your forehead. It is autumn, and cool as apples outside, but you have been walking fast to make it on time. If anyone would lean in to softly kiss your curls, they would smell of rose petals just turning sour, of darkening layers of leaves. The room’s air moves into it. You begin to unbutton each fabric-covered button of your dress, your fingers moving deftly, rhythmically, pushing each bead through the weave until you are no longer thinking about buttons, until you are only this quick circular movement of knowing what to do and how to do it. A body repeating a slender gesture and a mind somewhere else, on a dress you’d like to sew someday, then on the clay bowl of olives that you saw in the corner of the café. Had they come from Mallorca? Or Spain? You fold your clothes, You set them on the chair. And sipping from your slip, you fish in your bag for the tin and twist off the lid. Powder clouds out in exhalations as you raise your arms. You run the velvet puff over your breasts, down to your rise of belly, then over your armpits, over the thin swirl of hair just darkening them, like bruises. The velvet under the powder is a dusty blue, and the powder dusting your skin is called “moonglow” and smells of soap and lilac. If only it smelled of wild grasses, you think, the kind that grew beside the creek on the farm. There is something too clean in this smell for you, but necessary, given the afternoon. You set your things in a pile and step from behind the curtain. Then you let the professor arrange you, pooling your lace slip at your feet, like the faint froth of a wave. Then it begins. The rhythmic, interruptive scratch of charcoal on paper like something digging. Their gazes like something digging. They want to uncover you, extract you like a tool that was lost to them long ago. They want you like something they can use. They sketch you and in sketching think they own you, or think that they are making you. And so you wait. You wait like waiting a lifetime to enter a life. You wait for what they are making of you. It will be a grand story, a beautiful, unfolding story, you think. They will uncover you like an artifact,
Fiction a statuesque heroine—Diana or Ceres—but you will be new. You do not realize until many years later that the story you’ve been waiting for is you. **** I had to stand still with my arms raised for hours. My arms then were slender and pale—and I had to stand and curve one up like Athena, powerful and welcoming. The muscles trembled and stabbed at my back and I had to hold it through its quaking into stillness. To stand in one place and yet appear alive is unnatural. But it is what is asked of women. I stood. I sat. I mapped the gazes in the room, tapping at my body like fins. And then, when there was an opening, when everyone swung back into attention to themselves, I would move just slightly. I would tip my hips or swivel my arm a bit or stretch my face by widening my eyes. In this way I kept myself alive. And as I sat in that agonizing stillness, I thought of the farm I had grown up on, those repeating days when the stillness would get so loud it would take on the cycling drone of the locusts and thicken my mind into mud. Mud going dry into nothing. Napping in the haylight and burning my hands in the washwater and the way I would dig in the dirt with my brother, scratching at nothing into nothing. Sometimes I went so blank I may have been remembering the future, dropping back to some future telling, after I had learned how to move, after I had learned how to address you. I imagined the way you’d envy one another over bits of me—your exotic ancestor—like some families argue over a Limoges teacup, or a strand of pearls. Each of you wanting some small thing to remind her of the one she did not know, as if I were the shadow in the bloodline, waiting, coiled in your own arms. You wanted me in the swirl of darkness like the hidden hair. Like the stain in the teacup I’d used. You wanted to read yourselves there like the breaking leaves. Was it just that I had lived, and you were still trying to learn how to live? After going into the mute past or future of my mind like that, or into no time, I would try to breathe with their need all around me, the need of those frail men, bored or hopeful with their notebooks, imitating some notion of artistic gentility. I saw their bent heads, their prematurely thinning hair, the way they tried—alternating between earnestness and apathy. And it was their need—not even of me but of themselves, really, of what they may or may not be able to be— like a sour moisture in the air—that I remember most. The air in those stu-
FLARE: The Flagler Review dios lapped at me like fish. Their mouths hung open as they sketched me, some of them sticking out their tongues just a bit, suckling as they drew my body. Those fast hands in my periphery like fish, those scratches on the page like little teeth coming to nip at my thigh. Their terrified, virginal need. I was the first woman some of them had seen. And most of them could only hate what it was they needed. I waited. And afterward, I would dress quickly and walk out behind them, just so I could see what they had made of me. And it was always some distorted, idealized or sharded thing. Either somehow silly or mean. Together they misinterpreted me and as the misinterpretation multiplied, I realized it was only convention, it was what they wanted to see, or what they thought they should be seeing. They hadnâ€™t seen me. They thought I belonged to their seeing, which was a kind of eating. I would have to see myself. No. I would have to move through all notions of seeing to be myself, stepping outside the story the world would tell of me, the story my children and their children would tell of me. That story would be partial and as wrong as the drawings and would only arrive when I had no need of it, after I had lived and survived my life past survival. I had a couple of dollars in my pocketbook, my buttons done and my muscles to loosen as I walked, back out to the damp street and dusk.
In a Fool’s Paradise George Dila
I had known Emma Barkham barely an hour before making an attempt to seduce her. We had run into each other, I in my wheelchair, she on her walker, in the room generously referred to as the library at the Windemere Medical Care Facility, the place I call home. After introducing ourselves, and a bit of chit chat about the ham loaf they’d served for dinner that night, I had enticed her back into her room (she had a private, I had a roommate) by giving her a peek at the pint bottle of Wild Irish Rose I kept stashed in the tote bag hanging over my chair’s armrest. She’d given me a wicked smile. “Herbert,” she said, “I have two clean glasses.” I’d had my eye on Emma since the day she’d arrived. She was a short-timer, getting a few days of rehab for her newly installed knee joint. I was a long-timer, abandoned here five years earlier by Miriam, my wife of some four decades, probably with good-riddance, since I had not been the most devoted of mates. Miriam claimed she was unable to care for her newly legless husband, and our four kids, scattered willy-nilly across the country, didn’t give a damn about the old man. The Windemere was to be a temporary arrangement until I came up with something more comfortable and more congenial, but here I lived, still. I could afford it, given a generous severance package and the high-limit disability insurance policy my long-time employer had thoughtfully provided. Emma’s room was not a perfumed salon on the Grand Canal or a Manhattan penthouse, but it was what I had to work with in my seduction. She had seated herself in a pink swivel rocker, her feet up on a poufy hassock. I poured the cheap wine. We sipped. She licked her lips. “Good vintage.” she said. “Very tasty.” We talked for a while, she about her new knee, her hope to be back on her bicycle soon; me about which aides to be wary of, and how to get special favors from the kitchen crew. I was patient, waiting for an appropriate time to make a move. “How did you lose your legs?” she asked in a sympathetic tone I found encouraging, “Iraq,” I said. “That damn war,” she said.
FLARE: The Flagler Review To tell her at that point that I hadn’t lost my legs in noble service to my country, but rather in ignoble service to the all-mighty dollar, would have ruined the moment, so I poured more of the Rosie and watched her slug hers back. Then I moved a little closer, within touching distance. “How about putting those pretty little feet of yours into what’s left of my lap, and letting me give them a nice massage?” I put my glass into my armrest cup holder. “I have magic hands,” I said, flexing my fingers. And that’s when Emma gave me a little grin – more of a smirk, really – and the news that I’d be wasting my time, I wasn’t getting into her panties that day, or any day, for that matter, but not to take it personally – no man had played in that happy valley in a long time. “I’ve been celibate for over thirty years,” she said, “and I plan to stay that way.” I protested, insisting my intentions had been pure as the Dalai Lama’s meditations. I’d just wanted to spread some foot comfort. But we both knew better. Emma was just shy of seventy, but a pretty little thing with a doll face and a bottle-blonde pixie haircut. I was late sixties, too, and what was left of me from just above the knees on up wasn’t so bad to look at. I still had most of my hair, which by some curiosity of nature was still dark brown. Since I moved myself around mainly with my arms and shoulders, transferring as they say in the physical therapy business, I was well-toned for a guy my age. All the parts controlled by my libido still worked, too, though not as quickly and not as frequently as in my prime when, frankly, they worked overtime. “No sex for over thirty years?” I said. Maybe the way she had been so honest with me, or maybe, in a place like this, when you’re at your most vulnerable, your defenses come down – whatever the reason, I was feeling at ease with Emma Barkham, and she with me. “By the time I was thirty-five I’d been through two husbands.” She pushed her empty glass toward me and I poured her more Rosie. “Both were dumb marriages,” she said. “Are there smart marriages?” I’d seen few, if any, to be perfectly honest. “The first was one of my writing professors in grad school,” she said. “It’s almost a cliché. The sensitive girl, the brilliant older man. Oy!” “Not a good match?” I asked. “The second was one of my writing students. This time, he was the young, sensitive one. He eventually became interested in someone his
Fiction own age.” “Callow youth,” I said. “But enough about my dysfunctional relationships.” I was curious about the celibacy, Ella’s commitment to swear off one of life’s great dramatic acts, but I didn’t push it. “So you’re a writer?” I asked. “A poet,” she said. “A famous poet, if there is such a thing. Six collections.” She cocked her head in a way implied I had a serious cultural deficiency. “You never heard of me?” “I don’t read much poetry.” “I won the National Book Award, for Christ sake.” “Sounds like a very big deal.” “Short-listed for a Pulitzer,” she said. “Should have won it, too.” Eventually, she trusted me enough to put her feet into my hands, and I gave them a good massage, going no higher than the ankles. She oohed and aahed as I’d expected, and gritted her teeth and moaned a bit when I pressed my thumbs into her soles. Otherwise, we were both silent. After that encounter, Emma and I were buddies. We spent time together in her room or in the library, or watching the exotic little birdies of blue and yellow and green and red flit around their big glass prison, or watching Grey’s Anatomy, an asinine TV show about doctors, to which we were both addicted. We talked a lot, except during the TV show of course, and the talk could get pretty personal. Emma had visitors nearly every day. Mostly, other poets, she told me. When they came around I usually made myself scarce. I was mobile, using Windemere as a kind of hotel, calling the Dial-a-Ride bus, which was equipped with a wheelchair lift, when I felt like getting out. All the drivers knew me. They’d drop me at a local Coney Island hot dog joint where I was a regular, or the Walmart, where I’d roll up and down the aisles for a couple of hours, maybe buy a new pair of cargo shorts, leaf through the hot rod and fishing magazines, replenish my stock of cheap wine. The day after my aborted seduction, I had the driver drop me at the Barnes and Noble, where I did indeed find two books of poetry by Emma Barkham. One, The Hand That Feeds You, seemed to be her latest. There was also an older one, In a Fool’s Paradise. At the front of the book was a quote from a man named Bertrand Russell, who I have since learned was, among other things, a philosopher. The quote said, “Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.” That’s the book I bought. Back in my room, as my nearly catatonic roommate Marcuzzi lay in his bed still as a corpse, I opened the book and silently read a
FLARE: The Flagler Review poem called Two Husbands. The woman in the poem claimed to have had two husbands at the same time, an older man who was a “great student of the body”, and a younger man who was “good at repairing clocks and broken engines”. She’d finally given up on men, and now lived in the country, with her beasts for companionship, which she described in the ending. The apes are attentive and have impeccable table manners. The llamas enjoy working the rose garden. The bears make me laugh with their witty jokes, though I wish their grooming habits would improve, that they wouldn’t leave so many black hairs in the bathtub. I laughed out loud. I thought I understood. Marcuzzi didn’t stir. The next afternoon in Emma’s room, as we sat facing each other with two real wine glasses I’d picked up at the Walmart, and a nice Cabernet I’d splurged on, I told her the truth about my war injury. I’d been a construction engineer for forty years, always working as far from the nagging emotional responsibilities of husbandhood, as I could get. Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Brazil, Kenya. The last was Iraq. The Bush gang was throwing billions around on construction projects. Big money was to be made, and I sent a lot of it home, keeping Miriam happy, even paying off the young’uns college loans. The downside was that you could get blown up by a roadside bomb, or abducted and murdered, or die in some other gruesome fashion, a fate dozens of my co-workers had met. I was lucky. I just lost my legs from the lower thighs down. “You were a war profiteer,” Emma said. “The nice company I worked for made billions,” I said. “They were the war profiteers. Maybe you’ve heard of them? Halliburton?” I knew how she’d react to that name. “Oh, for Christ sake, Herbert,” she said. “I was just a working stiff.” “But you got paid plenty.” “Yeah, I got paid plenty,” I admitted. “But I think we were doing good work. Rebuilding a country. After we destroyed it, it was the least we could do.” “Oh, my God, forgive me,” she said. “I’m horrible. You lost your legs, and I’m bitching at you.” “I was close to retirement. That was the worst part of it.” “I’m so sorry,” she said, and she sounded like she meant it. My confession, and the Cabernet, got Emma in a confessional mood, too. Her marriage to the professor had seemed so right at the time. But what the hell did she know? She was young and stupid. She was in the thrall of Nigel. I was tempted to ask how a healthy, 20th
Fiction Century American girl could ever be in the thrall of a person named Nigel, but I restrained myself, not wanting to seem too much the neanderthal. “No, he was not from England,” she told me, as if reading my childish thoughts. “He was an Iowa farm boy, actually. I could relate to that. I was a small-town Michigan girl, myself.” Nigel was a great poet. He’d studied with Robert Lowell at Harvard, and later taught at Harvard himself. Emma met him when he was lured to Columbia. She was a graduate student there, in poetry, and he was the brilliant teacher. And he was so handsome, Emma said. Handsome in the way an old church can be handsome; well-proportioned, elegant, softened by time, and somehow exuding holiness. I wondered how Emma might describe me, how I would look to a poet. Maybe like an abandoned warehouse, or an old saloon. Nigel had praised her poems in workshop, calling them emotionally real and transcendent, and encouraged her to submit her better poems to prestigious journals, some of which published them. “Like Ladies Home Journal?” I asked. “Not that kind of journal,” she said. “Like Paris Review.” “You wrote poems in French?” I asked. I knew I was way off as soon as I said it. “Paris Review is American, Herbert. A very big deal for a twentythree year old grad student.” When she finished her Masters, Nigel invited her to help him prepare a collection of his newest poems for publication, his fourth book. She felt blessed. And privileged. They ended up in bed, of course. Nigel was a skilled and considerate lover, even worshipful of the exquisite innocence that was the young Emma. “I was practically virginal,” she said. I wondered what “practically” virginal meant, and I thought about the poem of hers I’d read, the one about the two husbands, the older one being a great student of the body. Emma looked especially pretty that day, almost edible, like a ripe, just-picked peach, fresh and dewy. She had on a bright summer dress, not the usual Windemere lady’s uniform of sweatpants and pullover, and she was wearing lipstick the deep red of a Bing cherry. It took all my willpower to resist touching her bare leg, or taking a bite out of her shoulder. Marriage seemed the natural next step, she continued. Nigel was more than twice her age, but even this seemed to fit her romantic vision. It would be his second marriage, his first wife abandoned back in Iowa, buried under a full teaching load at Coe College. But it turned out Nigel was no better at commitment the second time than he had
FLARE: The Flagler Review been the first. “He was screwing around, big time,” Emma said. “The swine,” I said. Following the break-up with Nigel, there was a year of depression, followed by a couple of years of furious screwing around of her own. But her emotions eventually leveled out, helped by the need to focus on finishing her PhD, and her new teaching job back in Michigan. She also needed to whip a manuscript into shape, which would become her first published collection of poems. Called No Regrets, it contained plenty of regret, and not a little bitchiness. Her description. She had a lot less to say about Steven, her second husband, fifteen years her junior. He was a sweet boy who couldn’t write a lick, she told me, but who she’d have kept chained to the bed if slavery had been legal. “He was straining at the leash, so I finally released him,” she said. “But it was hard.” “Let’s take a break,” I said. I’d had enough of her story for now, and I needed some quiet time to chew all this over. I put my wine glass down, patted my lap, and Emma again gave her feet into my care. She closed her eyes, leaned back, sighed. Outside a fierce afternoon thunderstorm raged, but inside the Windemere, all was safe and cozy. “Story to be continued,” she said, barely above a whisper, her eyes closed. “Just enjoy,” I said, kneading her big toe between my fingers. That night, back in my own room, I leafed through Emma’s book looking for a poem that called my name, stopped at page 42, and silently read Flying People. She had witnessed them in Canada, the poem claimed, in the sky along the shore at Gore Bay, four men and two women wearing bright colors, looking, from a distance like tropical birds. The poem ended like this When I finally understood, I went up, too. It was wonderfully scary. I soared over the island, then came down near a farmhouse; then I spiraled up again, nearly sparking the electric wires. The wings aren’t so reliable. You have to kick a lot to elevate, then not kick in order to sink. As I lay in bed, I began to examine my feelings about Emma Barkham. At first, she’d been a pleasant diversion, but when she’d told me about Nigel, I felt other things. Affection? Envy? Anger? Protectiveness? Loneliness? Maybe a little of all of them. What they added up to, I couldn’t say. ****
Fiction “Celibacy was a choice I made,” she told me the next night. After dinner we’d sneaked off to the chapel, the only room at Windemere used even less than the library. Emma had graduated from a walker to a cane. “Choice is the key word, here,” she said. “Since having sex is the natural course for most healthy people, swearing off sex is a conscious decision. It was very empowering.” “Empowering,” I said. “One of those highfalutin, new-agey words.” She ignored my comment. “Sex is a problem for a twice-divorced woman,” she said. “Men assume things about you.” “Yes, they do,” I said. “They assume you want it. Are desperate for it.” “That’s what they think,” I said. “And it occupies too much of your emotional space, all that strategizing and analyzing and agonizing. With whom? Where? How much?” “I believe it.” “It was exhausting.” “The sex?” “The worrying about it. The planning for it. The secrets. The hurt feelings. The day after.” I nodded. I really understood. “So I gave it up. A conscious decision. Eliminate sex from the list of my concerns. Get rid of the distraction. For a while, maybe forever.” “Empowering,” I said. “Liberating.” “Praise the Lord,” I said. I wondered about the propriety of talking sex in a holy space. “What a relief,” she said. Of course, we spoke about more than sex and celibacy. I told her stories about my travels, like the time I had afternoon tea with King Abdullah of Jordan, and the time I got drunk with a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader in Iraq, and about why I’d chosen to stay with my stumps rather than go for the high-tech legs of exotic materials and microprocessors I’m sure my insurance would have paid for. “Too old,” I told her. She told me stories of her literary world, about the White House reception for National Book Award winners when she met Bill Clinton, about giving poetry readings in Russia and China, about the back stabbing in the halls of academe, and what it felt like to write a poem. “Writing a poem feels like the color green,” she said. “But sometimes it feels like being saved from drowning.”
FLARE: The Flagler Review I accepted that as the way poets talked sometimes. When Emma’s knee re-hab was complete and it was time for her to leave Windemere, she told me she was afraid. She’d been having dreams, she said. Dark dreams. She couldn’t remember the details, but she awoke from these dreams in deep despair, in a black mood that lasted all day. “I think I’m dying,” she told me. “Don’t be ridiculous.” “My mother died in her fifties. I’ve already outlasted her almost twenty years.” “You’ll probably have thirty more,” I said. “That’s not what my dreams tell me.” I thought about my own dreams, the ones in which I seemed stuck in one place, unable to run. “It’s this place,” I said. “All these sick people, the droolers and jabberers. The catatonic. The terminal.” The Grim Reaper seemed to harvest a couple of Windemere residents every week. “I think I’ll be back, soon,” she said. **** On the night before Emma was released from Windemere, the night she invited me to share her bed, I told her I might be in love with her. “Oh, boy,” was all she would say. “You don’t have to respond,” I said. We were in her room. I’d poured us each a glass of a twenty dollar Chardonnay I’d talked one of the kitchen staffers into chilling for me. We just sat looking at each other for a long time, me in my wheelchair, smiling like an idiot, she in her pink swivel rocker, her face like a blank sheet of paper, revealing nothing. Occasionally we’d take a sip of wine. Finally, she said, “Maybe I love you, too.” And then it was back to the silence. There were a thousand things I wanted to tell her, and I couldn’t utter even one, afraid I would say the wrong thing, or the crazy thing, or the dumb thing, or the misunderstood thing, or the thing that would spoil it all. The Windemere had quieted down for the night. We seemed at peace in the late evening hush, comfortable in the stillness around us, so the sound of my own voice took me by surprise. “Did I ever tell you how much I liked to dance?” I was surprised by the subject matter, too. I hadn’t been thinking about dancing at all. “Really?” she said. “Like the cha-cha-cha? “I took lessons,” I said. “The tango, the foxtrot, the samba.” “I’ll bet you were fantastic.” “Light on my feet,” I said.
Fiction She tsk-tsked me. “Bad joke, Herbert,” she said. “It happens to be true. Cha-cha-cha,” I said, snapping my fingers like Jose Greco. “Well, I give you credit for learning to dance. It’s a very manly thing to do.” “Husbands hate to dance. At club dances, I made a lot of wives very happy.” “Your life’s work,” she said “The constant Casanova.” Coming from Emma, the comment stung. I’d hoped she’d seen more in me than a dogged womanizer. “Bad joke,” I said. And that sent us into another prolonged silence, this one not so comfortable. When the bottle of Chardonnay was empty, she set her glass down and retrieved her flannel granny nightgown from its hook. She took it into the bathroom and closed the door. I heard the toilet flush, water running in the sink, and what sounded like tooth brushing. In a few minutes she came out, went to her bed, climbed in, and lay on her side, facing me. “I’m sorry for what I said. It was unkind” She pulled the sheet up to her chin. She looked very small in the bed. “I’m lucky to have known you, Herbert, even for just a short time.” I thought she was about to shoo me out, but she didn’t. “You’re strong and good. Just what I needed.” “Needed or need?” I asked. I remembered her dreams, then, her fear of them, of what she thought they meant. “Knowing you almost makes me want to stay here a while longer,” she said. “But truthfully, I can’t wait to get out of this dump.” And then finally, she said, “Come hold me.” She made room for me in the bed, so I rolled my chair to her side, grabbed hold of the bed rail, and pulled myself onto the edge of the mattress. I loosened my belt, and let my cargo shorts drop to the floor, then clicked off the light. I took her in my arms, felt her relax, muscle by muscle, softening like a deep sigh. Our breathing was deep and slow, synchronous. We fell asleep that way. I hoped I could hold back her dreams. **** Emma and I saw each other frequently when she left Windemere with her new knee. We’d meet for coffee and baklava at the coney joint, or hang out at the book store where she’d show me more books by poets she thought I’d like – Kooser and Stafford and Wright and
FLARE: The Flagler Review Levine. We’d go to the movies, the sappy romances, the thrillers, old foreign films, even, once in a while, the latest Disney silliness. And we talked, a great gushing of words, a flood of the experiences and ideas and feelings we’d stored up from the years we had no one else to tell. We shared stories of our childhoods, our travels, our jobs. We talked about God and about the universe. She told me about opera, which she was devoted to; about the courtesan Violetta, and the naive Japanese girl Cio Cio San, and the Irish princess Isolde – tragic love stories all. I told her about my kids, and she talked about her occasional regret at not having any of her own. I showed her, on a napkin, how to build a bridge. She showed me, on a napkin, how to build a poem. We didn’t talk about our love anymore. But we held each other a lot, silently, and it seemed to be enough. One afternoon, at an old Catherine Deneuve flick at the local art house, Emma reached over the arm of my wheelchair and put her hand in my lap. I tried to take her hand in mine, but she pushed it away. Then slowly, lightly, she slid her fingers under the hem of my baggy cargo shorts until she was touching my most private part. My breath stopped. For a few moments she gently moved her fingertips over me until she got the reaction she wanted. Her hand slipped back out. I breathed. On the screen was a close-up of Catherine Deneuve’s shiny, parted lips, in glorious black and white. I leaned close to Emma and whispered, “That was a very cruel joke.” “No joke,” she whispered back. “Tonight. My place.” I hardly knew what to say, but “Are you sure?” is what came out. She squeezed my thigh. “Don’t question your incredibly good luck,” she whispered. The promise was never kept. As we were leaving the movie house she had her first seizure. The testing followed, and the hospitalization and more testing, and then the return trip to Windemere. She’d been back less than an hour when I rolled myself into her room. I leaned over her bed and kissed her on the lips. Her smile was weak and brief. “I told you I’d be back,” she said. “It’s not fair,” I said. The tumor was a Glioblastoma, the deadliest kind. They’d confirmed it with a needle biopsy. She would go quickly, her doctor had told me. A matter of days, not weeks. The tumor was in the right side of her brain, which meant she would experience paralysis of her left arm and left leg. She would retain some speech ability, which she would have lost had the tumor been on the left side. There would be no pain. She’d float in and out of consciousness. Finally, she would just drift
Fiction away. It would be a quiet, peaceful death. “No, it’s not fair,” she said. “It’s fate.” Fate, I thought. Roadside bombs, rogue drones, drunken drivers, cancer cells. “Fate is for fools,” I said. “I can’t write,” she said. “I tried. My mind won’t work.” “You’ve written enough. There are books full of you.” “I wanted to write about us.” Her eyes seemed brighter than ever, and I wondered if it was drugs, or possibly fear, or even a trick of the brain, or of the tumor. “I wanted to write about you. My dancer.” In the few days it took her to die, I watched her body contract, draw in upon itself, her face turn pale and narrow, her paralyzed left arm become a rigid hook across her body, wrist cocked down at a sharp angle, fingers curled in. In the Windemere library, I found a copy of Jane Eyre and read to her from it, randomly. By then I had a copy of The Hand That Feeds You, and I read her poems from it, and also from In a Fool’s Paradise. Often, I would put my lips gently on hers, and on her closed eyelids, on her forehead. I held her hand. Again, I told her I loved her. Two days before Emma died, in the last of her lucid moments, she asked me to rub her feet. “Of course,” I said, irritated that I hadn’t thought of it myself. I pulled back the sheet, took a bottle of hand lotion from the nightstand, poured a bit into my palms. I spread the lotion over her whole foot, this petite foot I had come to know so well, then began to softly massage it, taking my time, focusing on my work, stroking the top, the sides, the ball, the instep, the arch, the heel, each toe, carefully working with my fingertips, my palms, my thumbs. Then I did the other foot, the dead one. When I’d finished, I rolled my chair back to her. I put my lips close to her ear and asked, “Good?” “Good,” she said, the word barely more than an exhalation of breath. “I have something to tell you,” I said. I touched her cheek with my fingertips, traced her eyebrows, her hairline. “I’m leaving Windemere. I’ve signed a lease. An apartment with an outdoor swimming pool. A club house.” “Listen to me,” she breathed again. “I’m listening,” I said. “I’m sorry we didn’t,” she said. “I was a fool.” “Both of us,” I said. “I was ready,” she breathed. “I wanted to please you.” “Shh,” I said. “There’s no need for talk.” “I wanted to please myself,” she said. “Small town girl. Look at me now.”
FLARE: The Flagler Review She was quiet, then, her mind drifting off to some other place, out of this room, out of this world, drifting in the darkness that would soon take her completely. What a clumsy seducer I had been, thinking a couple of swallows of cheap wine and a few cheap words would be enough to capture the heart and body of this woman for a brief time. It shamed me to remember. I began to cry, to blubber, noisily, with huge gasps, not caring who heard, wishing I could die with her. I rearranged her hospital gown, and pulled the sheet back over her legs. About a month later I moved into the apartment Iâ€™d told Emma about, and have now lived there for nearly a year. I keep mostly to myself, and have begun to write poems. Not good poems but, I think, adequate poems. Serviceable is the word I think poets use. I have not written a poem about Emma yet, but I will. Nor about love, but I will. Nor about death, but I will. Sometimes, writing a poem feels like dancing, or it feels like the color blue.
Contributors Jennifer Albrecht lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband, children, and goofy Labradors. She can be found juggling motherhood, poetry, and being an aesthetician while drinking lots of coffee. Her work has appeared in Minerva Rising, From The Depths, The Red Rock Review, and elsewhere. Her father, uncles and grandparents grew up and lived for many years in St. Augustine, just a block from the Alligator Farm. Doug Bolling’s poetry has appeared in Basalt, Tribeca Poetry Review, Redactions, BlazeVOX, Stoneboat and Hamilton Stone Review, among many others. He has received five Pushcart nominations and a Best of the Net nomination. He is a graduate of William & Mary and holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Iowa. He currently lives in the greater Chicago area while working on a collection of poems. Wayne Burke’s drawings have appeared on the covers of The Portland Review (Maine) and The Green Mountain Trading Post (Saint Johnsbury, Vermont), and in the pages of Sheepshead Review and Grey Sparrow. Burke lives in the central Vermont area. Anastasia Clark’s new chapbook, Confetti Stampede, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013. She is also the author of Grieving with Poetry, a journey to the soul, Bloodsongs, poetry for those who know about being a woman, Skeletons and Other Complaints, and Vagabond Pond. She lives in South Florida and has completed several Broward County Poet in Residence projects. Her community-based projects are designed to inspire fellow writers to create new works to share with libraries, museums, and galleries. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her site, www.AnastasiaClark.com. George Dila’s short stories and personal essays have appeared in numerous journals and earned several literary awards. His short story collection, Nothing More to Tell, was published by Mayapple Press in 2011. His short story chapbook, Working Stiffs, was published by One Wet Shoe Press in 2014. A native of Detroit, he now lives with his wife Judith in the Lake Michigan shore town of Ludington. His personal website is www.georgedila.com. Jayson C. Lynn, 22, has earned his B.A. in Political Science and English from the University of South Florida in Tampa. He currently lives in Orlando, Florida. He works as a freelance writer and studio musician. Some of his works have recently appeared in Writer’s
Contributors Digest magazine and at the “Henrietta Lacks” art exhibit in Tampa. His music has been broadcasted on ESPN’s Sports Center and other similar outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @JaysonLynn. Thomas Delano is an M.F.A. student and Composition instructor at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He serves as a poetry editor for the Blue Earth Review and has work forthcoming in Sediments Literary-Arts Journal. William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teaches at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals. Beatriz F. Fernandez is a Reference Librarian at Florida International University in Miami. She has read her poetry on WLRN, South Florida’s NPR news station, was the grand prize winner of the Second Annual Writer’s Digest poetry awards and was featured in the Latina Book Club blog. Her poetry has been published by a variety of journals ranging from children’s fantasy magazines, such as Spellbound, to academically refereed online journals, such as Label Me Latina/o, and mainstream literary magazines, including Boston Literary Magazine, Falling Star Magazine (2014 Pushcart Nomination), Northern Liberties Review, Spark: A Creative Anthology, Verse Wisconsin, and Writer’s Digest. Her first chapbook, Shining from a Different Firmament, is upcoming from Finishing Line Press. Contact her at www.beasbooks.blogspot.com or tweet @nebula61. Allison Flom is a junior in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU. She has recently written, directed, and starred in a one-woman show, which she performs in festivals around New York City. She is currently facilitating a workshop series for her new show, based on interviews she conducted in Ferguson, Missouri, last August. She is a playwright, activist, and native New Yorker working towards a career in socially-engaged performance. Alejandro Gonzalez, this issue’s cover artist, is a 20-year-old conceptual photographer. He was born in Mexico, but was raised in Los Angeles. In 2012 his best friend passed away, and that led him to start a 365-day project to keep himself occupied. Even though he did not finish this 365 project, he still managed to get the attention of Tumblr. He was featured five times on Tumblr’s homepage and
Contributors landed a spot on “Tumblr’s Photographers Spotlight.” He is currently attending college to become a phlebotomist and hopes to work in the public health industry. William Hoffacker received his M.A. in Creative Nonfiction from Ohio University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cheat River Review, Sundog Lit, Hippocampus Magazine, and Emerge Literary Journal. He grew up in New York City and currently lives and works in Tempe, Arizona. Jessica K. Hylton writes most of her poetry while driving. She has wrecked three cars, but she finished her dissertation. Lucian Mattison is the author of Peregrine Nation (Broadkill River Press, 2014), which won the 2014 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in Bodega, The Boiler Journal, Everyday Genius, Hobart, and Spork, among others, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He edits poetry for Green Briar Review and Barely South Review. He is currently pursuing his M.F.A. at Old Dominion University. Email him at Lucian.email@example.com. Kevin O’Connor received his M.F.A. from Old Dominion University. He has published writing in Slant, Anderbo, Bayou, Bluestem, Literary Juice, The Tulane Review, and The Pinch. He lives in Buffalo, New York. Emma Pokorny is a 17-year-old graphic designer, illustrator, and painter. She is extremely passionate about art and is constantly falling in love with and getting inspired by the world around her. Emma hopes to have a future in art therapy, and to continue experimenting and creating for the rest of her life. Chelsea Reppin is a junior at Flagler College with a major in Graphic Design and a minor in Marketing. She has been working as a photographer for over six years, has been shown in galleries such as the Southern Vermont Art Center, and in 2010 won a national photography and writing competition. Though she works commercially as a digital photographer, Reppin much prefers the hands-on process of working with film. Daniel Ruefman’s poetry has appeared in the Tonopah Review, Temenos, SLAB, Burningword, Red Earth Review, and many others. He is the author of the chapbook, Breathe Automatic, which was
Contributors released in 2014 by Finishing Line Press. He holds a Ph.D. in Composition and Rhetoric from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and currently teaches writing at the University of Wisconsin–Stout. David Anthony Sam was born in Pennsylvania and is the grandchild of immigrants. He has lived in Michigan, Florida, and now resides in Virginia with his wife and life partner, Linda. They have two children and three grandchildren. Sam has written poetry for over 40 years and has been published in various journals and has one new collection, Memories in Clay, Dreams of Wolves. He serves as president of Germanna Community College and writes poetry that seeks to understand the unity of all being. Marty Saunders is from Pittsburgh. More work can be found in recent issues of Blue Earth Review, Santa Clara Review, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Author contact: martyrsaunders@gmail. com. Joshua Slinski is originally from Bangor, Pennsylvania, a small town along the Appalachian Mountains. He is a second semester senior at Flagler College, graduating in December. He currently works for Yield Design Co. as a production assistant. After graduating, he plans on staying in St. Augustine and working in the design field, as well as pursuing his art. Carol Smallwood’s over four dozen books include Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching, on Poets & Writers Magazine list of Best Books for Writers. Recent anthologies include: Women, Work, and the Web: How the Web Creates Entrepreneurial Opportunities (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015) and Writing After Retirement: Tips by Successful Retired Writers (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). Carol has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations and didn’t start writing poetry and fiction until after retirement and going back to college to take creative writing classes. Lily’s Odyssey (All Things That Matter Press, 2010) is her first novel; A Ceremony (The Hand and the Head Press, 2013) is her first fiction chapbook; Water, Earth, Air, Fire, and Picket Fences (Lamar University Press, 2014) is a poetry collection. Carol has founded and supports humane societies. Patty Somlo has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize three times, was a finalist in the Tom Howard Short Story Contest, and has been nominated for the 2013 storySouth’s Million Writers Award.
Contributors Her essay, “If We Took a Deep Breath,” was selected as a Notable Essay of 2013 for Best American Essays 2014. She is the author of From Here to There and Other Stories. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including the Los Angeles Review, the Santa Clara Review, and WomenArts Quarterly, among others, and in thirteen anthologies, including Solace in So Many Words, which won the Next Generation Indie Book Award for Anthology. Colette Tennant is an English professor at a university in Oregon. Her first book of poetry, Commotion of Wings, was published in 2010. Her poems have appeared in journals including Southern Poetry Review, Dos Passos Review, and others, and one of her poems is currently under consideration for a Pushcart Prize. Rachel Jamison Webster is the Artist in Residence in Poetry at Northwestern University and the author of the full-length collection of poetry September (TriQuarterly Books 2013), as well as a chapbook The Blue Grotto (Dancing Girl Press 2009). Her poems and essays appear in many journals and anthologies, including Poetry, The Southern Review, The Paris Review and Narrative. You can read more about her and her work at www.racheljamisonwebter.com. Joanna White is Professor of Flute at Central Michigan University. After performing in a concert with a poet, she returned to an early love of creative writing and began to study poetry with Robert Fanning and Jeffrey Bean. She has poems appearing or forthcoming in The Examined Life Journal, Ars Medica, Grey Sparrow Journal, Milo Review, Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine, Chest Journal, Imitation and Allusion, The Flute View, Central Review, Minerva Rising Literary Journal, and in both Snow Jewel and Naugatuck River Review as a finalist in their poetry contests. She lives in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, with her husband and has a daughter and son in college.
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 Stephen Kampa Liz Robbins Connie St. Clair-Andrews Jay Szczepanski Department of English Department of Art & Design 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.