FLARE: The Flagler Review Fall 2015

Page 1

FLARE the flagler review

Fall 2015

FLARE the flagler review

Volume 26 Issue 1

Š 2015, FLARE: The Flagler Review, a publication of Flagler College. Visit www.theflaglerreview.com for subscription information and submission guidelines.

Volume 26, Issue 1 Fall 2015

Staff Editor Rose Rossi

Managing Editors Erica Riccio-Polletta Terell Robinson Libby Svenson

Fiction Editors Stephanie Austin Courtney Castor Mariah Gonzalez Blake Stephens

Poetry Editors

Angelica Spencer Drake Stevens

Caitlyn McCrea Gary Calderon-Ng Arialexya Pijuan Deanna Silvey

Graphic Design

Non-Fiction Editors

Art Directors

Matt Quann

Carie Levy Sierra Shahan Eman Srouji

Advisor Brian Thompson

Editor’s Note

Rose Rossi


ften, we find life presents us with moments of profound and inescapable melancholy. Despite what the best writers and philosophers have prescribed to us, there are times when we simply cannot shake the sensation we are going nowhere in life; we are merely prisoners of routine in the mundane machine society has built in exchange for security. And yet, there are golden, albeit rare, sparks of possibility that occasionally, and quite unpredictably, come our way. When these opportunities strike, it is up to us to create our legacy: to shake the lightning from the skies and fuel the flames of our passions to forge a distinct destiny of our own. This issue, with its cover, literary work, and art encapsulates the very essence of what it is to take that journey: to travel beyond the realm of the accepted, and to seek instead bold adventure; tantalizing intrigue. The art of the risk. It is my sincerest wish you never feel compelled to settle for a life of grey mediocrity, but instead, always partake in whatever seems most daring: the chances that lead you to a lifetime of glorious possibility.

NON-FICTION Thomas Heller Tracy Haack

Philosophers Prefer Menthols To Change the Rate of Transmission

2 9

POETRY Michael Colonnese Autumn Morning Apocalypse 16 Bianca Diaz Unstoppable Monster 17 Rochelle Germond Herbal Lore 18 Nancy Bevilaqua At Delphi 19 Amanda Kirkley Kitchen Nights 20 Dorina Pena Black Ballerinas 21 Adrienne Unger Day to Day 22 Dylan Debelis Naming Eden 23

FICTION Marisa Cardin Streetlampforest 27 Alice Covington Sanctuary 31 Geoffrey Glass Kamakura Lovers 41 Victoria Griffin Up Creek 50 Cezarija Abartis Water Lillies 54

ART Bill Wolak Weightless Flesh Cover TJ Kennedy Anguish 1 Ashley DeLoach Pompeii 15 Carolyn Guinzio Leopard Moth 24 Nancy Canyon Silver Falls Reflection 25 Kim Schander Lotus II 26 Daniel Montesi Voice of the Everglades 59

Anguish TJ Kennedy Mixed Media


Philosophers Prefer Menthols Thomas Heller


here really is something gorgeous about smoking in the morning. The sun comes up in a beautiful, quiet red glow. The wisps twist off the end of my cig and dance in the early shafts of light; they bring a mote of the mystic into these chilled moments. The sun hasn’t started baking the benches and the shoulders of my shirt; it’s just a soft, unassuming illumination. People, what few there are at this hour, seem to all have sworn into a covenant of silence and solitude. We don’t need to speak. The morning jogger might give a bobbing nod in understanding of our oaths, but usually the red-rimmed pupils of the unblinking insomniac will rejoice in the silent serenity. That’s how I’ve always been: A nocturnal ghost who sees the rising sun as last call. I take in the final fumes of smoke and silence before fleeing from the oncoming hordes. People, in the sense of many individuals, have been an odd predicament for me. I have my friends and my brothers, my family and my lovers, but the vast majority of my species forms a tragic, grating experience. To be sure, I care for humanity a great deal. I always welcome a passerby to politely say hello as he or she walks by. The petitioners who wish me to stamp out injustice have their words in my ear. There is always an empty seat next to me for a preacher to sit and tell of his Lord and the Grand Shepherd, even though he cannot, or will not, rein me into his herd. I have no desire to join a flock or a cause, but I am happy to see the passions of humanity, no matter how much they differ. When I sit under the “no-smoking” sign, cig in hand, I am often asked by some poor soul having a luckless day, if they may purchase a bit of mercy from my carton. I tell them no, and extend my hand with a little white cylinder nestled between my fingers, “Not with money, anyway. Tell me a story.” I’ve met engineers and mothers, artists and entrepreneurs, and all are caught off-guard. They all have a rehearsed script saying they don’t have a story to tell, but I twirl the little stick of relief until they dig up some of my currency. Sometimes I coax them through the sheer unfamiliarity of it by announcing my aspiration of


being a writer. They’ve each found something to share. *** I started at a community college in Lake Worth – a smoke-free campus. I lived in my dad’s old house which he’d ‘renovated’ to be two separate units. The only thing he accomplished was making two smaller, unlivable spaces. There were holes in the floor that provided entrance for the scents of moist earth and poorly maintained sewage lines. I wasn’t a smoker when I started there. I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer either. I thought something along the lines of history or maybe even business. I didn’t know anyone and the nature of a community college is one of coming and going. There wasn’t any real incentive to hang around after class and thus not much of a chance to make friends. I spent the entirety of my life online, playing the newest games and ignoring my trivial schoolwork. My friends were all over the country and the world. I didn’t have to leave my house to visit them, I just had to stay awake and wait for the sun to be right for them. Not to say I was completely alone, though. My brothers, Matt, Doug, and Stephen, were all off doing their own things: Stephen at Flagler College, Doug up at FSU, and Matt studying at the community college I eventually transferred to. My father would come by every now and then to see how I was doing or to sleep off the buzz he picked up at Harry’s bar down the street. I’d sit with him on the stoop while he chained four or five cigs and chat about the night. He slumped against the railing. More than a few times he asked me if he was slurring his words. I told him he wouldn’t be driving. He’d purse his lips and blow long black hairs out of his mustache and smile. I’d unconsciously brush my own hair (an equal length brown mimic of his) and wonder why I was copying him before my hand hit my shoulder. When he drank, it was the only time he really showed any vulnerability or uncertainty. It was off-kilter from the normal movie star tough-guy or the I-love-you-man drunk hanging off his friend’s shoulders. He let insecurities out, but tried to make sure he could hide them. The alcohol became an excuse to open up. I imagine he felt that it wasn’t showing weakness if his inhibitions were lowered by some nefarious chemical. Years later, as one of many weekday whiskey hazes settled over my Tuesday afternoon, I caught my father’s eyes in the mirror and understood what he was doing. Needless to say, having my father’s drunken companionship in that decrepit hovel was far from a flourishing social life. My online friends were awake in the early A.M.’s and I had class in the later A.M.’s. I developed an abuse of stimulants – prescription for a disorder I didn’t have. I went for two or three day stretches without sleep-


ing. It was a waste of my time. I took the pills and downed gallon after gallon of coffee. On the third day of one particularly long sleepless binge, I found myself taking a final exam for an English class. I couldn’t stop myself from shaking and the print blurred into hieroglyphs. I took a deep breath, let it out slow, and stood. I grabbed the test and walked to the teacher – I wanted the other students to think I had a question about the test. My walk was slow and staggered, but I got to the teacher and whispered, “I’m going to the emergency room. May we reschedule this exam?” I sat shaking in the waiting room and my father stormed in, scanning for his wounded child. He’s the only one I’ve ever seen actually barge through automatic doors. He sat down next to me and rubbed my shoulders trying to calm me down. He had been smoking in the car. It radiated off him as a soothing familiarity, like the perfume my mother wore when I was a toddler. The doctors bull----ted their way around the fact that I’d just been abusing medication. My professor gave me an “A” in the course without touching the exam again. I moved home with my mom and step-dad two weeks later. When I started smoking, it was social. I started at the community college with Matt. I puffed and pretended to meet the girls who gathered in disproportionate numbers in the designated area. I took shallow breaths when that was the place I went between classes. I took hard drags when I ducked outside to re-gather myself and take a brief respite from the world. I loved going to the smoker’s pit to wallow in the muddy pool of sorrows we created with cigarette butts and exasperated sighs. If nothing else, we all had the common thread of addiction to tie ourselves into a safety net for each other. Good times were plenty there as well. Jokes and music (and the occasional poetry) were drifting in and out with the new and different people looking for an escape. We were all designated to sit in each other’s company, if only for three minutes at a time. Names and specialties and preferences floated like a grey, acrid cloud that we all loved to breathe. Misery loves company, and when there is only one place for the miserable to gather and temporarily puff the pain away, we are forced to see the vulnerabilities in each other. But by the same token, those friends and acquaintances I have who are not smokers rarely question me if I ask to go for a cigarette. It’s a free excuse to duck away and be alone for a while and force those people to see my vulnerability. I enjoy hearing the little stories and passions of people, but the standard grind of “How are you? How was your day?” becomes an unpleasant song I’ve heard too many times to appreciate any more. The doldrums of conversation, the pleasantries of almost-friendship: These are the times I wish for silence. It’s pointless to run a mill when


no grain is in the grinder. There is a stigma, of course. I counted on it. Even though I began smoking with the idea of being sociable, I knew I was limiting the number of interactions I’d have. The preppy, straight edge kids who pour their sorrows into their studies would stay away. They cringed at our lighters and we shooed them away with our coughs. In this way, by separating myself from people I knew I wouldn’t want to meet, I grew closer to the other pariahs with me. There is something to be said for the bond between outcast escapists. My choice in women has tended to be driven by similar motives. I fell for whatever the cherubim above deign my heart to follow, but what turned whim into infatuation was heavily influenced by whichever particular siren’s personal relationships. The more enemies a girl had, the more attractive I found her; the more I wanted to stand by her side against the naysayers. If someone had no enemies, I felt no reason to become close with them. It was easier for me to trust a girl who hated and was hated than it was to confide in one who held an air of arbitrary social grace only to keep the wide majority on her side. I suppose that’s something of me. I choose to be dweller on the fringe. There is something particularly romantic about the kinship of those who refuse to join the pack. I find myself more drawn to the ideal of being a lone sufferer who overcame. Something terribly perplexing about this condition is that I may be overcoming hardships I chose for myself. If I wished to join the crowd, I could. I do not. Whether that is as legitimate a hardship as those who do not choose, I cannot say. I can say that the most endearing stories to my heart are not those of a person who falters and is helped up by the crowd, but rather the lone gallant hero who grits his teeth in the face of pain and proves to himself and everyone around him that he was strong enough. Sheep rarely fight with other sheep in the flock. The underdog who achieves is the true hero, not some posh person who made par. That’s what I am though, an upper middle-class white heterosexual male in a firstworld country. My story would be terribly boring if I didn’t make it a little harder. I use cigarettes as a frame for outsiders’ perspectives of me. I want people to first see me sitting off by myself, away from the crowd, isolated by choice. A quote from Rory Sutherland: “If you stand and stare out of the window on your own, you’re an antisocial friendless idiot. If you stand and stare out of the window on your own with a cigarette, you’re a f------ philosopher.” I had an awful influence on those around me too. Matt would have never touched a cigarette if it weren’t for me. Not to say he ever became a pack-a-day smoker, but I consider myself the sole reason he mimicked my practice of keeping an emergency cigarette in his center


console. He choked on every puff, but agreed that if he were in a situation he wouldn’t live through, he wanted the sweet burn in his throat to be his exit from life. People asked me to stop. My father had a pang of disappointment crease his brow when I asked him for a cigarette at a concert with his friends, but he handed me the pack and nodded. Later that night he sat with me and lit one of his own. He scolded me in his standard fashion, “How can you start this now? I thought you would have learned from me.” He forced a chesty cough for effect. His fiancé, Donna, arrived with drinks and said, “He did.” The majority of the memorable moments I have with my father, he was smoking. He would dangle me by my armpits from the seawall so I could dip my toes in the murky brown inlet. He would stand at the bottom of my favorite climbing tree with one arm outstretched to catch me. He would help me reel in my fish and then double check that I rebaited my hook with a cigarette smile. I went up to Pennsylvania for a summer when I was twelve. I used to look up at the stars with my dad and marvel at the different set of constellations that were visible over the pre-industrial chunk of country my grandmother’s house sat on. We’d sit on the stairs long after everyone else went to bed. Two or three in the morning meant it was time for the last couple coffees or sodas so we could get up just six hours after everyone else at noon. He made broad slashing sweeps with two fingers, pointing at the Pegasus or a better picture of Orion. The cigarette he held between his gesturing fingers made an acrid thread hover lowly in the sky, tying himself to the clouds and the stars with every smoky sigh. The night my dad learned of my habit was the last night I was with him until his first trip to the hospital. Aortic dissection. After that, he wasn’t allowed to smoke, which meant I wasn’t allowed to smoke around him. I lied to his face and told him I quit. I kept my packs in my car and convinced him that I took up walking as a pastime. Somewhere there, six months or so after his operation, I grew tired of the long hair that made me a young mirror of my father. I cut it short and dyed it black. He was devastated, but I told him I had to consider the job market and he understood. The end of that year was punctuated by his return to the hospital. He was not brought by ambulance that time. He was going in for a secondary surgery to clean up what couldn’t have been fixed by the first. The operation failed miserably and he was forced into a pain-killer induced coma. If he came out, he would die. My uncle came down from Pennsylvania and we smoked outside the hospital talking about how we should proceed. The unfortunate members of that particular “we”


included only one terrified twenty-two year old kid whose biggest responsibility was to not show up to class late… too often, anyway. Donna helped us in our deliberations. My uncle, down from Pennsylvania, joked about how we shouldn’t be smoking since that was why my dad was in there (It wasn’t the reason. It was genetic), but the lighters were always handy. Donna and I came in every morning and sat in the waiting room of the ICU. We declared a few chairs specifically for ourselves and warded the other visitors away. We joked and told stories. We shared music and preferences. I made a fort out of the chairs and designed a makeshift flag out of two-by-fours and printer paper declaring our corner as “Chairfort.” It was a fragile little fortress with two shaken guards ready to sally onto the field even if the odds were terrible. We held our walls made of generic sanitized pleather chairs and staved off any other sickly guests who were just wandering through. After a few weeks, we hated everyone who walked in, no matter how nice they were. We especially despised the ones who got good news from the nurses and got to go home happy. We even began to hate the ones who got bad news and were left to mourn in the waiting room with an orderly standing by with eyes filled of practiced sympathy. They had closure. We decided in the middle of the second month that my father should be taken off of life support. The doctor disagreed and said my father showed every possible sign of recovery from the coma. The truth was that the doctor had taken a risk by performing a surgery with such a low chance of success and if my father died, it would go in his record. My father ‘woke’ from his coma the day after we made the decision. He wasn’t conscious and he couldn’t see or speak. His eyes darted around the room blindly, painfully. The doctor said it was a sign of improvement even though the brain activity on the scan was not anything close to consciousness. I could only imagine the hell he felt. I pushed for Hospice and the nurses said I was murdering my father by not letting him try to recover. My uncle was very little help during these two weeks. I, as the son, had to shoulder the crusade to kill my father. He showed no improvement and the painkillers were not keeping him calm anymore. I called everyone I knew: Hospice representatives, lawyers, family. I looked for any loophole to release my father from the torment I knew he was in. Eventually the doctor lost his gusto. I imagine he admitted that the results of the scans couldn’t be skewed any more. A nurse was sent to abruptly and curtly tell me that my wish for Hospice could be considered. My wish. He went to Hospice and slipped away in an hour.


Matt, my mother, my step-father, Donna, and my uncle were all there. We held together quietly and the animosity my mother usually drew from Donna and my Uncle dissipated for a moment of uninterrupted sorrow. I didn’t think about the awkward integration back into the Heller side of the family or how strained the connection between me and Donna would become. I didn’t worry about the many, many disputes I would have with my uncle over my entitled share of the meager inheritance or the awkward birthday and Christmas calls. The knight who triumphs alone is the glorious one; the one the bards sing of in fond remembrance, the one whose army fled, but drew his sword and grit his teeth in grim duty, the one who suffered many scars and later winced at the mere mention of battle. I suppose I asked for all of that. Challenge came and everyone shied away. I had no choice but to accept the thrown gauntlet. We all walked outside. No one even gave a sideways glance as I pulled a pack from my glove compartment for a slow, tear-soaked smoke. I deserved it.


To Change the Rate of Transmission Tracy Haack 1 bpm he instructs us to join pointer and middle fingers against the pulsing. Count for sixty seconds. We are sweaty and pink in our gym shorts. There are blue lines outlining the basketball court. Granules of sand are stuck to the sweat on my palms from the pushups. I pushed my body through gravity eight times. Morse Code is counted in words per minute. There are approximately 15 pulses required to transmit the word - --- .-. - ..- .-. . , a feat achieved by POW Jeremiah Denton during the Vietnam War. He used his eyelids to blink the message. As punishment, his captors tied a rope around his limbs, cutting off circulation. He experienced muscle spasms as his fingers became removed from his body. If he touched his fingers together, he might have felt another body. His fingers as empty capsules. In one sixth of an hour, she will let us forget the pulsing in our wrists, the point at which we count how alive we are. My fingers are not empty capsules. There are arteries in the tips. Pockets of blood. I leave a wisp of atmosphere between the - .. .--. ... of my fingers and the surges beneath skin. The heat radiates off of my neck, and each time the well of blood pushes against the skin, I fear it is big enough to close the distance. I fear the pounding blood out of control on my fingertips, and when she asks us to write down the number of times we felt our heart, I will be forced to say once.


60-100 bpm We meditate in the grass to slow our heartbeats. He closes his eyes and lays with his palm up next to me. The ants on my neck remind me there is nothing I can slow. The Meditation Paradox says that meditation increases the .... . .- .-. - rate while simultaneously relaxing the Morse Code Key: torture; tips; heart


meditator. This Paradox did not account for the ants. Antennae move toward my ear, the entrance to a makeshift nest, a safe place for their queen, a workplace for their colony, a series of tunnels to be shaped and -.-. .- .-.. .-.. . -.. home. Ants have an open circulatory system. Blood touches internal organs rather than being contained by vessels and arteries. I brush ants away. I flick them. I scratch the skin. I open my eyes. The prickling on my hands is the popping veins in my arm. The capillaries expanding with increased blood flow triggering nerves in my arm. The veins are a wrinkled blanket I want to smooth but can’t touch. I close my eyes again and meditate on the act of ironing, letting the heat melt skin smooth. Evaporating blood into the air as red wisps of steam. The heat sends electric currents into my nerves until they are dead, and I feel nothing inside or out. Still: I am solid. 100-170 bpm doubled I can’t touch skin above my arteries on purpose. But, there are ..-. - . .-. .. . ... in my fingertips. This complicates touch, the squeezing of his hand in cereal aisles to say, I’m here, and I still desire you even in cereal aisles. The pulsing, -... . .- - .. -. --. , - .... ..- -- .--. .. -. --. , reverberating, compressing, sends blood to pound against the opposite ... .. -.. . of my body. More than the pressed arteries in my fingertips, the arteries in my biceps prevent sleep with my arms wrapped around his or his head against me. This panic is about our inability to communicate our .. -. ... .. -.. . ... . About our relationship, and the inability to turn over in deep sleep, to move away from the heat radiating from his body. 120-170 bpm and 70-90 bpm The comforter—a pink and blue sheet sewn together—was made for a bunk bed twenty-five years ago. My mother picked the blue and pink sheets because she didn’t want to force gender upon us. She wanted to give us a choice. This is what she ... .- -.-- ... . The pulsing in my fingertips is against this choice. And the pulse I feel is my mother’s residual heartbeat as she pins the edges of the sheets together. She holds the sheets too close to the sewing needle as it punctures the fabric. She pulls pins, adjusting the unmeasured seams as she works. My heartrate is her, and I feel guilty for not being able to stand it. But for also being afraid of the swelling of wombs and the compression socks that hold surging veins against bodies. She knows there are no grandMorse Code Key: called; arteries; beating, thumping; side; insides; says


children and not even the idea of grandchildren, but she is saving my homecoming tiara for the grandchildren anyway. For nine separate months at a time, she had five gestating heartbeats within her, but there wasn’t room and all but one had to be expelled. Don’t tell your sister, but when I knew I was pregnant the second time, she tells me, I felt claustrophobic in my own body. But to be claustrophobic in her own -... --- -.. -.-- , she would need to be a separate entity within the muscle and bone and vein that is her. Being pregnant gave my mother options about which body she wished to inhabit, and it was not the fetus making my mother claustrophobic so much as it was my mother inhabiting the fetus. The fetus that became my sister was born with birth defects. Her kidney struggled to filter the world being brought inside. >2.5 billion beats per lifetime He drives the speed limit, listening to NPR programs about Vietnam War veterans and elephant documentarians. He never comments on the stories. Not about the corruption in the New York Police Department where the narrator wore a wire to get the inside story. Not about the parents who staged evidence of Santa’s visits with reindeer feces. Not about the relationship expert who instructs listeners about the sharing of ... . -.-. .-. . - ... . Not about the man with Asperger’s who mimicked his wife’s facial expressions. He does not comment when I change the radio dials. Do you want children? I ask him. If so, I want to know: will he throw reindeer poop on our roof for them? He shrugs. He wants to say the right thing for me. I tell him that I would like to live in a glass house under tall trees. He does too. I want to ask if he is sure. He drums on my knee. His skin has an undertone of red while mine appears yellow. I ask again. He does. If I do. 100-170 bpm My sister restrains my body, pushes it to the carpet, sits on my chest until it deflates and the sides of my organs touch, before tapping on the .- .-. - . .-. -.-- in my wrist. My legs flail against the Berber tassels. She smiles at my distress and continues to tap. She communicates with whatever is inside. I once saw her central vein. When she was in the hospital for pancreatitis, they drew blood every morning. The veins burst, watercolors against the skin. After weeks of this, a nurse inserted a PICC line, Morse Code Key: body; secrets; artery


a catheter, into the central vein on the inside of her bicep. The line fed into her arm, through her chest, and stopped just outside of the chambers of her heart. I couldn’t watch it happen, couldn’t look at the ultrasound of her arm, the muscular formations outlined in black and white, the shape that reduced her to a series of rhymes. But if I could’ve looked, I would’ve sent messages into her PICC line with morse code, messages about presidents with depression and adults with telephonophobia and cashiers who clutch at the counter while asking, Would you like to donate to leukemia research? While she slept, I would move the heavy cotton blankets back to expose the bruising around the PICC line. I would pull the clear tubes apart, separate her from the bags of fluid. I would place my finger over the end of the tube and tap messages. They would travel into her body. The messages would move past her lungs, stopping outside the heart. They would wait to be let in. They would be pumped into the veins that traverse the body’s arteries to create pulses that cannot press the inside of gloves without making themselves known. Those fingertip pulses, carrying my coded messages, would remain in her after the hospital. She would leave the transmitted telegraphs on light switches and doorknobs. I am new every day, I could tap into her PICC line. I am smart. I will not cry in Culinary Applications. I don’t give a damn. It is all fake. .-- . / -.. --- -. .----. - / -. . . -.. / .- / ..-. .- - .... . .-. .-.-.- . I would give her sleeping body all the coping mechanisms I know of if I could, but somewhere along the way, her own body would change the sound of the tapping. Don’t make me. Every day. .. / -.-. .- -. -. --- - / ..-. .- -.- . / .. - .-.-.- . There is a bird inside me. 60-100 bpm I sigh and call it meditation. Carpet bends to the shape of my body in shavasana. When I get up, the outline of me will remain. An impression of my corpse in the crushed brown knots. I try to remember the three rules of mindful meditation. Focus on the breath. Do not judge. Be in the present moment. I fail to focus on my breathing immediately. This results in judgment, a desire for five minutes to come and go, for this to be over. My spine is rigid, not quite touching the floor in the middle. My elbow brushes the footstool, reminding me of the room around me. The space I fill and fill to remind myself what I am made of. I am birthday cards sent from Grandmothers, --- .-.. -.. / -... --- --- -.- ... / .- ... / -.. . -.-. --- .-. .- - .. --- -., strawberry tea steeping in plastic manatees, kitchen bicycles disguised as clothes racks. Morse Code Key: We don’t need a father; I cannot fake it; old books as decoration


I breathe in, holding the possibility of a house inside of me. It is glassy and tall. Trees grow around it. They are in Mountain pose. They strain to touch the sky, to push it further away from the earth, the earth where we shoot elephants from helicopters. Elephants (26 words per minute) who run a little slower than the others. And when they fall, the ground shakes just a little, too, sending a telegraph, a pulsing -... . .- - to flow into the earth’s extremities, up the roots of trees. The reverberation is not felt by those meditating in the grass or by those in hospital rooms or by those in utero. When we kill something big, does it mean more than when we kill something small? Or does the death of something so large mean less because the grief is distributed over a greater area? 150-250 bpm I look away when they wipe antiseptic over my veins. The nurse asks if I am in school before puncturing me. My arm burns for a moment before my blood is in a new container. It has reacted to the ---..- -.-- --. . -. in the air, and I will never know what it looked like within me. Unlike me, he can look when being punctured. He gives himself a shot every two weeks. The needle is covered by a plastic tub so no one will see it break him. Afterwards, the hole in his leg beads with blood trying to get out. The speed of his blood trying to escape makes me suspect his insides are cluttered. This is probably why he can’t stand clutter in our apartment. Sometimes he argues for one set of kitchen utensils, and I have to make a case for the second mixing spoon. If I leave for any length of time, he will stop using the garbage can, hanging grocery bags over the doorknob every night instead. This helps him dispose of the litter every morning. I collect .--. --- ... ... . ... ... .. --- -. ... while he disposes of . ...- . .-. -.-- - .... .. -. --. . The anxiety to make my body smaller, thinner, manifests in collections of bookmarks. They have a designated pencil box. My sister decorated the cardboard box with markers in a psych ward. I keep my grandmother’s ... .. --. -. .- - ..- .-. . too. I collect my mother’s inability to say the word “library.” I can’t donate the mittens my little sister sewed. They have a hole in the seam between the thumb and fingers. She made them loose to keep the fabric from my pulse points. I do my best to condense, hiding what I can beneath the bed, in the closet. I will keep one mitten. I need fewer rules about how to exist in our home, I tell him. I will not apologize for being a woman Morse Code Key: beat; oxygen; possessions; everything; signature


with a hula hoop. To say sorry, he digs my snow globe from the donation pile. He puts a nail in the wall to hang my hairbrush. The nail is the same height as all the photographs on our walls. He lets me have the closet to myself. Every couple months, he shifts two pictures of New York City from wall to wall before setting them on the floor in the adjoining room. At night, he picks at the place his thumbnail used to be. An autoimmune sore grows in its place. I imagine the happiness felt when his body was one thumbnail lighter. On the night that I first kissed him, he showed me the sores on the back of his elbow, above his ankle, on his scalp, where his .. -. ... .. -.. . ... were making themselves known. I needed to make myself touch the sores to show I was not afraid. I brushed my fingertips over the place his skin cells reproduced too much, too quick. He waited for me to say something. I was too quiet, too still. Are you in there? he asked. He wanted to hold - .... . / -... . .- - .. -. -- . of my arteries in his hand.

Morse Code Key: insides; the beating


Pompeii Ashley DeLoach Pottery


Unstoppable Monster Bianca Diaz More and more minotaurs are appearing in the world. Hooves and muscles excited. Small bursts of steam expelled from nostrils. Their taut arrival aligns with torrents of sunlight. We toast, tip goblets to our greedy mouths. Even tonight, our blood makes noise beneath the algae-colored bruises on our backs and forearms. The creatures search for warrens where they can wait for our timid footsteps, ribcages trembling against our skin. Apple-green leaves in the shape of small hearts. Riven with fissures, we will look up with bile-colored eyes to the new aperture of our lives— their velvety maws, tensile and hot. This is a thorough devotion to consuming; orderly as fire. Not to survive but to deliver us from this to the next, hushed world.


Autumn Morning Apocalypse Michael Colonnese Elegant and asymmetrical, dozens of tiny dew-sprinkled spider webs adorn the tall grass of the orchard like handfuls of light snow gathered by children or delicate gauze dressings for small wounded animals that will be gone soon when men set the grass ablaze with kerosene to clear a space around the trees.


Herbal Lore Rochelle Germond Ancient Greeks believed roses were red from the blood of Aphrodite, who pricked her foot on a thorn trying to save her beloved Adonis. I read this on the back of an Herbal Essences shampoo bottle, a brand I remember for its 90s commercials featuring a woman having an orgasmic experience while washing her hair. At eight, I thought all sex happened in the shower. During your first trip to see me, we study the Greek busts at the local art museum, comparing their half-bodies to our whole ones. Decapitated, some with amputated limbs, the only similarities we can find are in breasts and lower backs, torso length and hip width. Full statues of Aphrodite and Adonis are placed against opposite walls, lovers flirting across the room. Unashamed of her body, her curves encased in pale marble, she is as beautiful as she’s supposed to be while he, nose slightly bent and too thin, spine bowed in standing, is not the god I had imagined after all. We carefully plan out our visits so that we’re never apart for more than two weekends in a row, something we’ve gotten good at after a year of long distance. It seems that it’s more often now I ask if you think you’ll move here eventually, soon, ever, so that we can be together full-time. I should know that you’re too nice to say anything less than maybe. Myth says Adonis spent two-thirds of his time with Aphrodite, the remaining third with another goddess, as though this slight surplus of hours proved a greater love. Faced with a man that wasn’t all hers, I wonder if Aphrodite told him that being together for the majority of the time does not make up for what goes missing.


At Delphi (1993) Nancy Bevilaqua taste of rosemary retsina olives cedar burned center of the scarred arena (by mountain road that leads here shrines: avalanche of fallen souls houses where they leave the living furniture of memory colors of the stars little tables set with empty jars the wine was always honeyed) cones of cypress around shadows stones aroused at my beginning (omphalos) incantation of a silent crowd around me hurting and disfigured sandals broken on rocks far up on that eclipse feathers from the last of doves sacrifice at heart of how you spoke your prayers lips of oracles and seers give their pearls all wrapped in broken leaves and smoke tripod for another virgin there incoherent music of her melting tongue braying of the lambs the calves all wrestled under your turn comes to open the enclosure choose the palest one stun it with a show of kindness but the killing will be done rhythms of blood that soaks the dirt that you will soon enough be hearing from


Kitchen Nights

Amanda Kirkley

I hid stars in the drawers and shelves hoping you’ll find them when you reach for your breakfast, search for a clean spoon I wonder do they still shimmer now that I’m gone are they gray do they beam brighter like dying suns it’s such a waste constellations bore you you won’t see the cat’s shape from the freezer, sink, light switch there will be no creation story of the toaster passed on to your generations an heirloom with your grandfather’s rusty gun your wife’s heavy rings when the first star winks in the corner I know what you’ll do it’ll glisten and your mind will teleport back and I’ll be there laughing and kissing your nose or turning away, salt on my face so you’ll peel it off damn your fresh cut nails and you’ll ball my star in your fist you’ll scour every surface, every crack under the stove, in the pipes you still know me so well you’ll collect them all and fling them past the walls and planets past your life I know this is what you’ll do I know you already have


Black Ballerinas

Dorina Pena

Black ballerinas do not exist. We cannot wear fleshcolored clothing. Our skin is not universal, our shape is not petite. Even those of us with long limbs cannot possibly be outfitted in standard black leotard, pink tights, and pink shoes. The angle of our hips and thighs are too curved to be considered for the position of prima ballerina. Some say our pronunciation of the french words arabesque, the extension of leg to sky isn’t right, seems off somehow. The tulle of our tutus could not possibly stand erect over the weight of our backsides. We should consider another position. For they say the white boys cannot lift us, could never handle our thundering black/brown bodies.


Day to Day Adrienne Unger Each night begins with dreams of you, bright and cutting. I seek them out, I am hungry for them. I feast on simple moments we ignored together. I revel in the sensation of your hyena laughter, your cold feet shoved under my calves, the scent of your neck as we slept. Each morning is spent packing the powder husk of myself into this urn of skin and bones, to bear the burden of condolences, the siege of mourners, their lobbing recollections, and consoling embraces that turns me into brittle stone, mortared by the passage of each day and imaginings of you.


Naming Eden Dylan Debelis Call me the Ishmael you left on shore in your ex-wife’s care, Concord Massachusetts Summer ‘99 just as the leaves revealed themselves to you as nooses. In Kindergarten we called the seeds helicopters. We threw handfuls to the air, twirling back to our Velcro, our sundresses, our tree-climbing bruises. Call me sanctuary in drunk regret, legal documentation signature, uttered ghost to Amtrak strangers. I called you, from the New York payphone. I never knew your number but knew enough to spin a spindle tear down into the pavement. Call me, husband-to-be, future father, minister, chaplain in the morgue. Call me ungrateful, if you must, call me your child, but I don’t respond much to that name anymore.


Leopard Moth Carolyn Guinzio Macro-Photography


Silver Falls Reflection Nancy Canyon Acrylic


Lotus II Kim Schander Mixed Media



Marisa Cardin


guess I should have written Sonja Vordermaier long ago to thank her for the installment because it wasn’t as if I counted myself ungrateful. I was content, which, to say the least, wasn’t the emotion I wanted to be feeling. After all, how could any sane man be content after his wife of 27 long, wonderful years had suddenly called for divorce? How could anybody meet that moment with anything other than anger and bitterness? But I was different, I supposed. After all, I could never hate Laura. Even when she came to me, all messy hair and soft, brown eyes as she’d always been, to tell me what it was that she wanted. As if I’d somehow been neglecting her. As if in all our years together, I’d fallen short of the man she’d wanted me to be. “It’s not you, Nicky,” she’d promised. The nickname, usually said so affectionately, had stung. The Brooklyn coffee shop around us had been busy that day, the rush of noontime traffic only granting us a small, cramped table near the back of the shop. Laura was crying, like even she was scared of what she was about to do. If you’re scared, then why are you doing this? I remembered thinking. It was hard to stop myself from feeling for her leg beneath the table, as if the physical connection between our feet would interrupt what was going on in her head. “We’re just—I think we’re different now,” Laura had continued. “I have my magazine, and you—I mean, you’ve worked construction for twenty years now. And I still want to explore the world.” So that was that. If this is what she wants, I’d decided later that night, alone in the bed I used to share with her, then who am I to hold her back? I counted myself lucky that Joanna wasn’t involved in the divorce; engaged and out of college, our daughter had her own life to worry about now. There wasn’t much room for the affairs of a couple of 50-year-olds like Laura and I. I almost wished that the divorce had been more dramatic; maybe if there had been cheating involved, I could have found it easier to feel some range of human emotion afterwards. And yet, I had flown myself here, exploring the world, just like my ex-wife had said. At half past three in the morning, I was in Germany.


It wasn’t as if I’d been a particularly rash man before this. Maybe half of the decision was due to Laura’s lack of explanation. But mostly, I wanted closure, which was something that seemed increasingly hard for me to come by. The streetlamps in front of me glowed. The snow had stopped falling a couple of hours ago, just as I’d begun to make my way down the quiet, empty streets of Rosenheim. Here, however, it seemed to hang in the air, frozen in sheets along the glassy surface of the street lamp’s light bulbs. There were dozens of them, surrounding me now as I walked further into the cluster, the snow crunching beneath my feet. This was the work of art that Sonja Vordermaier had installed however-many-years ago, a collection of lamps she’d brought back from Amsterdam to Milan, all the way back to Vienna. And it was here, in Streetlampforest where I’d first told Laura I loved her. Now, I gave my head a shake. I was being too sentimental. But, looking up, seeing the reflection of the German sky in the soft, translucent glow of the streetlamps, made me think. Not of Laura, necessarily. I wondered, for a moment, if there was any other place worth being sentimental. A noise sounded out from somewhere behind me. Right away, I glanced over my shoulder, partially out of instinct, but also because it was three-in-the-morning, middle-of-winter, freeze-your-ass-offGermany, and who in their right mind would want to be out here in this? There, standing a few feet behind the nearest lamp post was a young girl, bundled up in a thick, red scarf that seemed to match the glare in her eyes. The only thing she had with her was a small, wornlooking case—some kind of instrument, I guessed. I gave her a little wave. All the while, I was looking over her head, trying to see if there was an older sibling or parent following her footsteps—but there was no one. Just this girl who I couldn’t imagine being any older than fifteen. Strands of blonde hair were falling out of her hood, her long eyelashes almost as pale as the snow that surrounded us. Blinking, I cleared my throat. “You’re out a little late, aren’t you?” Her eyes were still narrowed. “I can be out late if I want to,” she said. I raised an eyebrow, trying my best to ignore the snap in her voice. “You speak English,” I commented. “I suppose I didn’t think-” “Of course I speak English,” the girl said, her German accent sounding muffled beneath the warmth of her scarf. “Everyone speaks English. You’d have to be an idiot not to.” This girl is...interesting, I decided. She didn’t seem to be angry,


really—just frustrated. She reminded me of Joanna when she was fifteen; always irritable, always upset, but always at the wrong things. “What are you here for?” the girl demanded. I didn’t have a clear answer for her. But I felt like I needed to say something. “I visited Rosenheim a long time ago,” I said, tightening my coat around me. “When I was younger. I wanted to see if the forest had changed.” I wanted to see how much I’ve changed. “It hasn’t.” “I know.” It was true; even after decades of winter and summer storms alike, the street lamps looked exactly the same. “I wanted it to be empty,” the girl said, stepping forward. Her bare fingers curled along the handle of her instrument case. “It’s three a.m., you know. I wanted to be alone here.” What could I say to that? Ask her if she knew that Streetlampforest was public property? Instead, I nodded, repeating the words that had been stuck inside my head since I’d last seen Laura crying. “I’m sorry.” The girl was silent. Now, I was feeling really guilty. “What’s your name?” No reply. A moment later, she lifted the case, nearly bumping it against one of the nearby lampposts. “It’s a trumpet,” she said. “I saw you staring.” I blinked. “I am running away from home,” she confessed. Her voice wasn’t so harsh this time, didn’t sound quite so angry; maybe she’d just wanted someone to talk to about it. “My parents, they don’t want me to be a musician. They say it’s too easy. Too simple of a life to live, and not enough of a challenge for me. But I used to play for my grandmother,” she finished, as if the words were enough to explain why she left. “You ran away?” I asked. “They don’t support me.” Of course they support you. They’re your parents, for Christ’s sake. But I didn’t say this. Instead, another question flooded my mind. “And you came to Streetlampforest? Why?” Now, the girl turned silent, thinking. “I am not very good,” she said finally. “Not yet. But I wanted to have an audience. Like Lucy, you know, when she stepped into the wardrobe. Those trees, they were her audience.” I felt a sudden pang of longing. Narnia was what I used to read to Joanna. I could certainly see the connection: the nearest streetlamp, tall and decorated with strands of metal vines, shimmered warmly, and I could almost see a little Lucy Pevensie peering out from behind it, her fingers wet with frost. But the only girl here was holding a trum-


pet case, looking lost and like she’d never meant to end up in Narnia at all. And I still didn’t know what her name was. “Nick,” I said, hoping that if I introduced myself, maybe she would do the same. She didn’t. She only repeated my name, once, slowly, before setting her case down on the snow beneath us. “You remind me of my daughter,” I said. I couldn’t help it; the way she was standing, the way she was shivering while still looking determined not to—it had Joanna written all over it. “Is she a musician?” I shook my head. “She’s a writer.” “I wanted to be a writer. But I think, sometimes when I’m playing, that music can do what words can’t.” Damn. This kid is a genius. “I used to read Narnia to my daughter,” I said, backtracking slightly. “When she was little. But that was before she decided that she was too old for fairy tales.” At this, the girl smiled, the corners of her eyes crinkling above her scarf. “Nobody’s too old for fairy tales, Mr. Nick.” For a moment, I was silent, listening for the echo of her words against the starlight, trying to piece together all that they contained. Then, “I can be your audience, if you’d like.” She seemed to understand. For that, I was grateful; even if I hadn’t listed off the problems in my life, even though she’d never told me her name, and even though we were as different as different could be, she was still here. She had stayed here, with me. And now, the girl was kneeled down in the snow, piecing together the most beautiful golden trumpet that I had ever laid eyes on. I couldn’t tell you what song it was. Hell, I couldn’t tell you what key she played it in, or even if she was hitting all the right notes. All I knew was the sound. Her sound, her voice echoing out of the trumpet in long, vibratoed notes that wove through Streetlampforest like some strange, Narnian lullaby. Her eyes were closed, and the only noise between the music was that of her own breath, sucked in from the cold night air around us. Slowly, as she grew tired, the music began to fade, like taps in the sweet, Rosenheim silence.




Alice Covington

he sits cross-legged on the apex of the rock hill, glad to escape the dank odor of elephant dung and the weight of dark eyes fixed on her pale skin. The stirring air drying her brow strives for the freshness it once bore, years before humanity inundated the cities that are miles away, but not distant enough. Now it refreshes her, but once, she knows, the air was delicious. Damage mutes the blueness of the sky, as well. Here, alone, she is free to close her eyes to the troubling images of the lives below and the life she has abandoned, halfway around the world. Now sound predominates. Some kind of music, Bollywood with an easy underbelly, provides a constant backdrop for the staccato of birdcalls and chorus of intermittent words in a foreign tongue, one of the hundreds of languages spoken in this ancient country. The songs inhabit the air, as if their source is all of nature, not man or machine. An elephant’s subdued groan adds its brief note to the mix, followed by the chatter and laughs of children at play. She wishes she could lose herself in the resonance, simply feeling the varied vibrations, but she’s never been able to meditate, to block out the barrage of words and pictures inside. She lives through moments, never in them. Pictures from the past, minutes and years ago, compete with speculation about what lies ahead. She tries to begin the process of relinquishing thought and time by limiting her words to descriptions of random aural events. The buzz of a motorcycle. The flap, flap, flap of boys running atop a narrow stone wall. A pachyderm’s whoosh of a sneeze—or is it a deep breath? A dog’s bark. The soft spluff of sandals on loose soil as boys jump off a wall nearly twice their height onto the ground. Car tires on a dirt road. Whaa-aah, more elephantspeak. A brief second of silence, a crow’s caw, and the music resumes. And there under it all, calming breaths, deep and slow, forced divergence from those harsh, shallow gulps that blocked all external sound as her fears of either option—staying or leaving—overcame her these past months. She feels her stomach muscles tighten, so she concentrates on letting them go. Relax, picture nothing. Be part of the orchestra. Breathe in, breathe out, think of nothing. Then, a noise, a crackle, reminiscent of the brief explosion of sparks from the fireplace as she added the extra tinder, their pre-marriage let-


ters, destroying words that marked the past. That fire died, nothing left but ashes. The flames here build, but there is no raw heat. It is a human sound that approaches, the intermittent snap of spiny weeds as feet smack onto rock, a sound that grows louder, apart from the songs of the land below. Closer. To this, she must be open, although she hates to abandon the little progress she’s made toward merger with the sound of now. She must open her eyes to this new landscape she’s flown to and immerse herself in its new sensations, even those that require her to journey toward ties to others. She’s come to fear those fragile, slippery knots. The head of a boy, perhaps twelve, emerges from an outcropping just below. He is smiling even before their eyes meet. He takes another step up, and his blue shirt merges with the sky above his khaki pants. So similar to some students at the elite private school where she taught before she resigned to take care of their home and the children she wanted, but didn’t have. But this is not the child of a family who emigrated to America and drove its progeny to excel. That child would look at her with serious, fixed intelligence, seeking to extract from her what he could use. The boy approaching now exudes a happy wonder that most of her students had lost, or never had. And something else. “Hello.” Her face struggles to regain something of the freshness that age has destroyed. The smile that already filled his face overflows. “Namasté,” he says. “Yes, Namasté,” she says, bowing her head slightly, a weak attempt to mimic the grace of the Indians who have greeted her. “Writing?” he asks. He points to the ground. “Oh.” She remembers the open journal and pen abandoned beside her. “Yes.” Only a few words scribbled before she realized that they only drew her back to the past. Today I stroked an elephant, its searching trunk, its painted forehead and ears. I could not reach the top of its head with its prehistoric wiry dome, nor did I wish to touch those feet, for they reminded me . . . “Good? It’s good?” The boy edges closer and her hand moves to cover the pages, an automatic response to that flash of insecure shame that has prompted her to hide who she is for so long. But he appears not to be fluent in English, and her handwriting would be troubling even to the eye of someone who is. She waves her hand over the pages. “No, it’s—just notes.” She lifts her shoulder and wobbles her head back and forth, to and fro, thinking it somehow conveys that her writing is nothing, it’s worthless, it only takes her to the past she must forget. But perhaps he didn’t ask whether her writing is good or even whether she likes to write. Maybe he meant to ask whether she is en-


joying sitting here, whether she likes where she is. Does she? She need not answer that, to this boy or to herself yet. But the boy climbed up to meet her, to talk to her. She looks directly into the boy’s eyes. What they emit is kindness, curiosity, innocent desire. Perhaps the beginning of something, happening now. Only, she wishes her eyes could reflect the peace of his. She hopes they transmit that she loves his world in this moment. She smiles and her eyes follow her hand as it sweeps the fields below, the distant mountains, the array of simple, cement homes for elephants and the families that care for them below. She captures his eyes again. “This is beautiful. I love it here.” His brows lift above sparkling brown eyes and he nods. “Love, yes.” They are in agreement. She can connect with this boy. She points to her chest. “My name is Mary.” She points to him. “What is your name?” “My name is Farokh.” The gestures were unnecessary. Throughout the crowded streets of Dehli smiling English greetings emerged from the cacophony of voices. “Hello! How are you?” She felt welcomed. On the road to Jaipur, her bus paused at a tollbooth and she stared at the worker collecting the fee from a truck adorned with proud pompoms and multicolored ribbons. When he looked up and saw her, he smiled immediately, and they waved simultaneously. That spark of “I see you, we are the same.” Yes. “Hi, Farokh. It’s very nice to meet you.” “Name May-ree?” “Yes.” “Hi, May-ree.” They laugh together. Perhaps she has fought against words too strongly. Words like hello and goodbye. Of course, words are part of the world. Providing one’s name, so often the beginning of connections that stay true. And now she has a new name. She is May Ree, a girl who lives in the present, where bonds do not chafe and time has no meaning. She has an urge to confide in this boy, to explain why it is that she is here and why she must never go back, but no, she must be in this moment. The sounds, the music, the conversation. Yes. She struggles for words he might understand. Her finger circles the air. “The music, where is it coming from?” She points toward the two-story white house across several fields, outside the compound, a house that might have a device that can broadcast music into the air. “Is it coming from there?” “Yes,” he says.


She’s not sure whether he understood. But then, “You like it?” “Yes. I like it. It’s good. Beautiful.” He nods. “It’s good.” They sit awhile listening. Her shoulders begin to swing to and fro along with the music. For once, she doesn’t feel awkward. Her body feels this music, and she thinks of standing and dancing. But then she would look ridiculous. Damn it. She’s been told she isn’t a good dancer. Not directly. He would merely point to other women and comment. Now, there’s a great dancer, so sexy. Her arms and legs would stiffen, and as she watched the other woman’s rotating hips and bobbing breasts, she knew she could not even try. She became a puppet strung to a controlling, incompetent master, whiplashed into one jerky motion after another. No more. She’s pushed that away. Why is it so hard, even here? Why— But the music has changed, and it pulls her back. The boy beside her holds what looks like a small old-fashioned cell phone. He wouldn’t have a smart phone that holds music, would he? Perhaps it’s a radio. Then he leans in, turning the device so that she can see the front, where a tiny woman dances to tinny music. The screen is little more than a square inch, but the picture is clear. The woman wears purples and greens, loose pants and a short spare top, like a belly dancer, and she’s waving about a diaphanous veil. Does this boy, Farokh, feel an adolescent attraction to the woman, perhaps some stirring? But the woman isn’t like the belly dancers she’s seen in Middle Eastern restaurants in the States. Her movements are more fluid, less sexual, more innocent. Like Farokh. “You like it?” he asks. “Yes, it’s very good.” He holds it still, so she keeps watching. “She’s beautiful.” He fiddles with his phone, switching it to similar, but faster-paced music with high-pitched voices. He shows her the screen—this time it is a girl of perhaps nine or ten. A similar style of dancing, but more practiced, pointed gestures. Unlike the mature woman dancing inside on a polished floor, the girl performs outside on the grass, in a park perhaps. She smiles, but it is an intent smile, not so open as those on the faces greeting her on the streets. When the girl twirls about and faces the camera again, the smile becomes something close to a smirk. “Good?” Farokh asks. “Yes, she’s very good, too.” “Baby,” he says. She nods. “She’s young.” She wonders whether he is dismissing the girl, indicating that she, too, does not measure up.


He clicks at the phone again. It’s the same girl, and the same song, or another song that she can’t distinguish from the other. Are the words different, or the tune? Do the words matter to the music? No, the words are only sounds, part of the music. Any meaning lies there, at least to her, at least today. They sit quietly staring at the screen. The girl has changed from her purples and reds to pale greens, pinks, and blue, and she continues her rapid weaving and swirling. There is something painful in the way the girl dances. Is it that she’s trying too hard to dance like grown women? Or is it that she doesn’t want to dance, that the eager eyes are false? A few minutes, it seems, pass, and she feels uncomfortable staring at this child dancer, trapped inside this small rectangle, seemingly fixed there for life, never growing. She looks away, toward a motorcycle that rushes through a field, then stops. A low stone wall attempts to surround the field, but ends after two and a half sides. A road halts halfway through, as well. It’s odd, this field with no apparent purpose, the road that leads nowhere. The man, or boy just sits there, straddled on his machine, hands in place, staring. Farokh turns his music off and points to the silent phone. “From Mumbai.” “You got the phone from Mumbai?” “Yes. Three-thousand rupees.” A flicker of pride sullies the sweetness of his expression, but only for a second. She tries a rough calculation, but she is not good with numbers. More than thirty, maybe forty? She wonders how much food that would buy and whether the phone is his or his family’s. Weedy grasses just below crinkle and crunch. Chappals stepping on stone. One head, then two more appear above the same outcropping from which Farokh greeted her. These are older boys, teenagers, perhaps older. It is hard to tell. They are small, but she’s learned that height indicates little. Faces tell the story of age, and though these boys wear the supple skin of youth, time has painted an overcoat of seriousness on their eyes and lips. She says hello. One returns the greeting, two smile, but all three walk past her and Farokh to a sandy spot just past them. They stand together, exchanging a few words, then are still and quiet. They are here for the view, too. But she is part of their view today, and she wonders whether they are assessing the wanness of her freckled skin, the thin lines sprouting from her eyes, the sad troughs beside her mouth. She tries to maintain the smile that softens what time has wrought. It’s foolish, she knows, but she doesn’t want them to think she’s old. She doesn’t


want to be old. Farokh remains sitting close, gazing at her, waiting for her questions. She points toward the homes below. “Your father—does your father have an elephant?” Perhaps she should have said “drive.” The tour guide on the small bus that picked her up at her hotel this morning called the men who led the elephants they rode at the fort drivers. Afterward, on the way here, to what he called an elephant sanctuary, he explained that the drivers live here with their elephants and their families, but others own the elephants, the government or private owners, the rich. The drivers merely serve the elephants, he said. He used that word—serve. “Fathers, yes.” She does not know whether he means yes, his father drives an elephant or that all the fathers here are drivers. “And will you do the same, will you take care of an elephant?” He nods, but then looks down. He may not have understood. Then one corner of his smile lifts, and he straightens his shoulders and points to his chest. “I, elephant master.” His laughter invites her in. “Oh, you will be one, too?” she asks, although he may be saying that he is the elephant master now. That could be true. She saw a smaller boy leading one today. She doesn’t know what the truth is here. Or anywhere. “Yes.” They exchange more half-questions and half-answers amidst pauses and smiles. She thinks he has told her that there are fifty elephants, with drivers and their families, living here. He volunteers “two thousand rupees, month,” then extends a hand, thumb flicking back and forth over his fingers. “Tips.” She recalls the patient expectation on the driver’s face as she climbed off the elephant at the fort. He nods. The numbers aren’t adding up, or meaning is lost in translation, mispronunciation, bad ears. A month and a half’s base salary for a cell phone? Her husband’s take from his firm each month would buy two deluxe automobiles. Over time, it purchased their house with its large windows and designer furniture. It kept her, too, living within those walls, maintaining the house while he came and went, while he worked, while he lived. During most of their marriage she delighted in the comfort surrounding her, and she dashed out to the grocery store, picked up his dry-cleaning, and ventured into the world outside on other errands for him and their home, only to sigh with relief when she returned to the house that held her and kept her safe. But then the weight


of his expectations and the knowledge of her failures became too heavy, opening her eyes to the bars on the windows. Still, for so long she could only bring herself to the glass panes, lay her hand on their cool hardness, and look out onto the other suburban homes and yards and beyond, as if they were halfway around the world. A voice, not Farokh’s, brings her back. “Allo. Where are you from?” She’s startled, then relaxes. It’s one of the three young men behind her. She should thank him for reminding her that she’s here. India. “The United States,” she says. He doesn’t understand. “America—the United States of America.” “Ah!” His grin drops years from the face he wore earlier. He is fifteen or sixteen, perhaps. “California?” “No, Washington, D.C.” “Obama?” “Yes.” Her neighbor is visiting India this week, and people keep saying his name with smiles. When she was young and single and traveled alone in Europe, she tired of the rolling of eyes and sniffs of dismissal, so she avoided mentioning her country, that upstart nation full of loud, uncultured people who believe themselves superior. She doesn’t know whether times have changed, or whether it’s the general welcoming nature of these people or Obama’s mixed race that makes the difference. She wants to distance herself from that world of politics and power, but she holds on to this slim weed of commonality. Here, all of us relate to the man who is the American president. The teenager keeps smiling at her. They exchange names. He is Chamin. Farokh looks up from the cell phone’s screen that captured him again during her silence and says something to the other boys. Chamin smiles, as does the boy behind him, his eyes bouncing between the hard ground and her eyes, which she tries to soften. He carries a shyness that she hasn’t noticed here before. The third boy keeps his spot uphill, staring into the distance, but his ear is turned toward them. Time intrudes, even here. Her watch tells her that she must meet the others at the bus soon. She wants to stay in this open air, to continue this tenuous conversation, but she rises. The muscles in her legs have stiffened from sitting. “I have to go meet my bus,” she says. “It was nice meeting you, all of you.” Her gaze encompasses Farokh, Chamin, the other boy, the empty fields beyond, the sky. All but the lone, serious boy nod and smile. She climbs down the rocks and sandy patches, feeling awkward. It is always easier to climb up than to retreat. Each step hurts her knees, arthritic ever since her brief pregnancies, so long ago. That failure, too,


rises to haunt her, although she failed herself then. He did not particularly want children. Trying that year was a concession. Afterward, she believed him when he said it wasn’t meant to be. “Allo?” Chamin has followed her partway down the hill. He stands still on a rock just above her. The woven straps of his worn chappals are the kind of pink that used to be red. She stares at the callused edge of his heel that has slipped off the rubber. It is hard to tell what is shoe, what is foot. Finally, she looks up to his smile. “Hi again,” she says. “Help you? Help?” “No, thank you, I’m fine. But thank you. That’s nice.” One of her next steps is off balance, so she’s forced to lean over and steady herself on a rock. She scrambles forward and down, glad that she didn’t fall. If only her glimpses of peace would deflect the frustration she feels from no longer being able to jump from rock to rock. She longs for the ease of moving through the world without awareness of pain, as these boys seem to. Perhaps they also carry pain of some type, but they do so lightly, like the elephants that carry the benches of comfort enclosing tourists. Those strange, lovely beasts of burden—elephants, men, women. She vows to carry her pain more lightly. She nears the elephant family homes and tries to return to the world of sound. The music becomes more distant, the voices more immediate, insistent. Small feet running on dirt. The whoosh of an elephant. The chatter of English, French, and Japanese from tourists heading toward the bus. The clank of a chain, as an elephant moves his foot the few inches permitted within the confines of his garage, those three walls he must back into if he wishes to face the open end before it’s covered by cloth. She doesn’t need to look again because the thick chain around huge round legs will never leave her mind. Before she retreated to the high rocks, she visited one of these homes, happy at first to touch such a creature, to meet a family who cared for her. The driver greeted her and said, “Nice elephant!” repeatedly as she felt that thick skin and patted the colors he had painted on her trunk. Through gestures, he introduced his oldest daughter, carrying his youngest son. Three of each, boys, girls. He showed how he painted the elephant, the white outlines of leaves and flowers, then the color within. She smiled stupidly and kept saying, “I love elephants, I love your elephant,” but she could only think of the feet bound in the chains, the color captured within the lines, the walls enclosing the elephant. “Allo. How are you? Allo? Miss?”


A wave of children washes toward her, then surrounds her. She stares into their faces, their big eyes boring into her. She wants to tell them how magnificent they are, how she wishes she could take them home with her. Only it’s too late for that. Perhaps she can capture their beauty, absorb it with her eyes. No, that seems wrong, and then there’s Farokh beside her, smiling as well. “Ah, there’s my friend,” she says. He is still a second and then says, “My friend.” His voice cuddles the words close and savors them, or at least so it seems. A sense of peace, deeper than she’s known for some time, begins to settle on her. She wonders whether this is how acceptance feels, or is it contentment? Farokh points to her bag, where she’s stashed her notebook. “Pen? Pen?” At first she thinks he wants them to exchange emails, numbers, but that is ridiculous. Still, a cell phone. So much she doesn’t know. “Pen?” He points again. Of course. He wants her to give him a pen. She opens her bag and scrambles through the items, tissues, hand sanitizer, notebook, wallet. Finally, a pen, but it’s her favorite one. She loves the smoothness of its black lines on the page, the ease with which it moves across the paper, defeating her resistance to committing to the words. She needs this one. She finds her blue pen, but it’s just a plain Bic or Pentel that one can find anywhere. There, a pen with a restaurant’s inscription. Chef Geoff’s. It, too, encourages her to write, but it is the one. It’s red, perfectly matching the color of the sari on the woman walking past. She hands it to him. Farokh is pleased with her choice. “Friend,” he says, as he puts the pen into his pants pocket. She thinks of it lying there beside his cell phone, perhaps dancing along with the young girl as she practices. A red pen, a blood bond between brothers, comrades, brother and sister. But the image disappears, as the smaller children touch her hands, their chatter blending into an urgent chorus. She hears a word. “Pen? Me, pen?” “I’m sorry, that’s all,” she says. Then another word emerges. “Rupee!” More children circle her. Others rush toward the other tourists. “Rupee! Rupee!” She walks fast toward the bus, as they touch her purse and pull on her sleeves. She can no longer look at their faces. She climbs the stairs and returns to her seat by the window, claiming a moment of safety and quiet before she looks out. A cluster of small children, three boys, two girls, stands directly under her window. They can’t be older than six. “Rupee, rupee!” Those open eyes and smiles, the small hands reaching up, thumbs stroking the fingers


of empty palms. “Rupee!” The face of the smallest girl, perhaps the most beautiful of the faces she’s gazed into on this land, captivates her. Her hair is short and curly, a smudge of dirt crosses her perfect cheek. She is more insistent than the rest, her rupee demand more urgent. Her brow is furrowed and though the corners of her lip outline a smile, her eyes convey nothing but need. Whether it is need to please her parents, desperation to have her small voice heard above the larger children, or hunger for the comfort rupees may bring, or all, she doesn’t know. She has to look away, but then she sees Farokh behind the smaller ones. He stands, hands in pockets. He waves and she waves back. The bus starts, so she turns to keep her eyes on him. She wants him to say “my friend” again and lift the pen in salute, to lock eyes with her as the bus moves on. But he has already turned, and after the few seconds it takes for the bus to pass through the tall iron gate that encloses the compound, he is nowhere in sight. It is a loss, one that feels too great for the moment. She leans against her seat, trying to relax the board her back became when the children surrounded her. The children are inside their gates now, with their elephants, continuing lives that she knows nothing about. She’ll never see them again. The pain of leaving returns again, as deep as it was when she finally said no and walked out those Western doors, leaving the safety of what she’d once cherished. She could have endured his slights, the new affair. She could have forced herself to remain with the loss she knew. She could have avoided having to face new ones. But she left. For what? Again, she is inside closed doors, looking out through windows. She stares at the vastness of brown under the blue sky outside the bus and begins to fight tears. This is India, though, so within a few minutes a flash of turquoise and purple pulls her outside to the small village they are passing. Then emerald and orange. Red. A haphazard battalion of deep, true color travels through the glass from the women and their clotheslines to conquer her fear and silence at least some of her thoughts. She relaxes against the seat and loses herself, at least a bit, in what she sees outside, knowing that the bus doors will open again. And she will pass through.


Kamakura Lovers Geoffrey Glass


s the Tokyu-Toyoko line train barreled along its tracks toward the seaside city of Kamakura, jumping and swaying side to side with startling recklessness, Evan stared down at his overstuffed duffel bag and wondered how he had ever thought he could pass it off as a gym bag. The thing bulged in every dimension and weighed nearly fifty pounds, the combined weight of two weeks of clothes (nearly all he owned), a laptop, hygiene items, two bottles of sunscreen, a couple books he’d bought at the English bookstore the day before. Was that what people did when on the run? Read novels? It seemed like the cool thing to do, to Evan, anyway. He imagined himself lounging in a deck chair, beside a pristine blue pool, listening to the water lap as he paged through Anna Karenina. He wondered if he’d be on the lam long enough to finish a Russian novel. He also had his doubts regarding the sunscreen. Not a cool move, he knew, but neither was a second-degree burn, and he planned to be spending a lot of time poolside, with his books. Evan turned his attention away from his bag to the window, where metropolitan Tokyo had officially rusted and decayed into the industrial belt that lined the city. Factories, rusted and overgrown from years of disuse, created an appropriately apocalyptic backdrop for his flight from the city, from his dreams of a life there with his new love. He turned his gaze to her, where she sat, across from him, having bravely volunteered to sit in the backward-facing seat. Seeing her eyes closed in somber meditation, he looked to the seat beside her, where her Little Twin Stars overnight bag sat. In sharp contrast to his bulging heap of a bag it looked too large, as if she could have gotten away with just a regular canvas shopping bag if she’d wanted to. Had she brought any changes of clothes at all? Given what she was wearing, he certainly hoped so. “Hey,” Evan said, in English. He had stopped translating simple expressions like “hey” and “nice” because doing it had always felt racist, in a strange way, as if he were mocking his partner’s native tongue. Saori opened her eyes and shot her gaze immediately toward the window. Seeing the jumble of factories and silos, she breathed a sigh of relief.


“It’s okay. Still twenty minutes,” she said as she settled back in. “How come you wore that?” Evan asked. “What’s wrong with this?” Saori asked. “I think it’s a very mature look.” “Nothing, I guess,” Evan said. He didn’t know how he could explain the strange way in which her choice of her older sister’s ill-fitting business suit actually made Saori look several years younger, if anything. “At least it’s not my uniform,” Saori said. “Did you bring that with you?” Evan asked, if only to make conversation. A crooked smile flashed across Saori’s sleepy face. “Why? What are you planning to do later?” It was that perfectly uneven smile, in combination with her straight bangs hanging right past her eyebrows and her cat-shaped skull-and-crossbones hairclips that had lead Evan to approach her at the now-infamous drinking party he attended on the third night of his university exchange program. But it was her dark, dry sense of humor, and the fact that she could miraculously communicate it across a language barrier that often felt like the Berlin Wall, that had kept Evan coming back, text message after text message, rejection after rejection. Looking back, Evan could see the red flags: the unwillingness or inability to meet in public, the transparent excuses, the Mondaythrough-Friday, 9 a.m.-to-4 p.m. schedule that absolutely no college student in her right mind would ever give herself. She’d done everything she could to try to discourage him. Everything, that is, except admitting that she was sixteen. “Nothing,” Evan said a bit too sternly. He wasn’t trying to be a killjoy, but the doubt that had been gnawing away at the back of his neck the entire morning had started to wear away at him, at his dreams of a clean escape. He tried to calculate how much of a head start they’d gotten off to. Did the police really wait twenty-four hours before opening a missing persons case, or was that just on TV? Did Japanese police have a different time limit? “I thought you would be more excited about all of this,” he said to Saori after she closed her eyes once again. Saori’s eyes snapped open in a comically dramatic fashion. “Do you have any idea how early I had to wake up to get ready for school, eat breakfast with my parents, walk to the train station, get to Shinjuku, find the locker I hid my bag in, and then find you in Shibuya station? Not to mention having to stay up past midnight finishing the whole week’s worth of homework.” Evan didn’t know what to say, partly because he felt bad for hav-


ing imposed on Saori so much, and partly because Saori had shifted from English to Japanese mid-rant and he could just about approximate most of what she was upset about. He was pretty sure he’d heard the word ‘homework’ at least once in there, and wondered why someone who planned on running away from home would bother doing her homework. “Well, yeah,” Saori explained, “I can’t go failing high school because of all this. That would be pretty gyakkoka, don’t you think? Especially since that’s our biggest problem.” Evan didn’t know what to say to that, mostly because he didn’t quite know what ‘gyakkoka’ meant, which rendered Saori’s entire comment more or less meaningless to him. Gyakkoka. That meant “counter-productive,” right? This was a constant problem for the two of them, but one they happily worked past thus far by resorting to simpler and simpler vocabulary and, when even that failed, the odd hand gesture to bridge the gap. He decided to go to his default move and changed the topic. “So did you figure out which trains we’re going to take?” he asked. “Pretty much,” Saori said. “Mostly the plan is to avoid the Shinkansen and stick to regular service commuter trains. It’s a good thing we have so many trains. I heard you can get from one tip of Honshu to the other on regular service trains. If you have three weeks to spare, that is.” “But your cousin’s farm is on Shikoku,” Evan said. He was fairly certain that, however magnificent Japan’s railway system was, it could not take them from island to island, and that was going to be a big issue. “I know,” Saori said. “There’s no getting around that ferry ride. That’s where they’ll probably catch us.” Saori caught herself. “I mean, if they catch us.” “Well, we can always swim for it,” Evan said. “Do you know what the Naruto Uzushio is?” Saori asked, a bit of mockery in her voice. “No, so I’m not scared of it,” Evan replied as he watched the factories and monolithic apartment blocks finally fade to fields of tall grass fenced-in naturally by thick stalks of bamboo. He watched a group of high school students dressed in PE uniforms, their names on the fronts of their shirts in clumsily-drawn characters, playing baseball on a diamond across a small creek. He earnestly wished that he could join them, return to his glory days or, more accurately, to glory days he’d never had and now never would. ***


To a boy who’d grown up along the California coast, Kamakura’s ocean air smelled like home. It was the only relaxing element of the entire journey thus far, and Evan savored overly deep breaths of it through the walk from the train station to the hotel Saori had found online. Evan was a bit disappointed by the neighborhood around the train station: three- and four-story buildings crammed up against one another and, here and there, haphazardly divided by narrow alleyways. It was Tokyo all over again. But off in the distance, the sea rolled, and all around him he could feel the air, the vibe, of a beach town reflected in the t-shirts and cargo shorts on the locals he saw walking along the main boulevard, not rushing along with their heads bent down, not dressed all in black and grey and white and beige, still noticeably alive inside and out. They got a hotel room for the night, Saori going ahead and doing the talking. They dropped their bags in the room and headed straight back out, as Saori had insisted on giving Evan the best tour of Kamakura possible on their critically tight schedule. The beach itself was breathtakingly underwhelming. Dirty, darkbrown sand clung to the sides of Evan’s Converse as he marched after Saori, toward the presumably frigid water. It was late October, and the air already had its biting winter crispness, even this close to the sea. He spotted the telltale darting shadows of seabirds overhead and looked up to find not gulls but hawks, black and brown, circling overhead. Evan wasn’t a hundred percent certain, since he hadn’t done all that much world traveling, but he was growing increasingly convinced that this was the worst beach ever. Upon reaching the beach’s line of demarcation, where the only slightly wet brown-sugar sand turned to the glassy sand within reach of the tide, Saori bravely removed her wedges and offered a stockinged toe to the surf. As soon as toe and tide made contact, she jerked her entire body backward as if it had been dipped in molten metal. “Tsumetee na,” Saori said, the arctic chill of the water having knocked her back into her native tongue. “Konno umi.” “Can we go now?” he asked as Saori hopped around, balancing on her right foot while wiggling her still damp left one back into her (sister’s?) black wedge. She got both feet back onto terra firma, nodded at Evan, and with a couple one-fingered salutes to the Pacific, the pair headed back to the city streets. They headed inland, up the slight incline that grew slightly steeper the further away from the coast they got, a trap designed to sucker the unaware in and then slowly grind their knees to jelly. Another charming element of life in Japan: the country didn’t have a flat mile in it. Evan found himself constantly navigating this hill or that one when


exploring Tokyo, and in the odd event of even terrain, there were always staircases and ramps to contend with. Evan had to wonder if wheelchair-bound Japanese citizens had gone entirely extinct yet. Saori’s plan for their escape, to stick to smaller cities and use Japan’s mind-boggling system of local train lines to slowly make their way southwest, did not place tremendous emphasis on speed. In fact, Evan wasn’t entirely sure that Kamakura was actually in the direction that they were supposed to be heading. He was at the very least certain that fugitives generally didn’t stop to visit a tourist trap like the Giant Buddha of Kamakura. But there they were, standing just past the ticket window, staring up over the bluish-grey paving stones to where a twenty-foot statue of a seated Buddha sat facing the sea. Surrounding him was a sea of tourists, school children, and souvenir stalls. He was made of bronze long since turned sea green in all spots not covered in a layer of graybrown grime. His face was sculpted so beautifully, with such attention to detail: his eyelids resting gently closed, his cheeks puffed ever so slightly and his lips clamped in a slight grimace, as if he had just taken a deep breath when frozen in bronze and was now destined to hold it for all eternity. Evan did not doubt that one would need to be divine to meditate undisturbed while cameras clicked and flashed and voices cried “Cheezu” all around. He was glad that the statue was so deep in thought that it was unaware of its current state, but that lifelike quality lead Evan to half-believe that at any moment it might snap its eyes open and scream, “Holy ---, I need a shower!” Not that Evan thought the Buddha would ever resort to such profanity. “Evan, picture?” Saori asked, pointing toward the giant sleeping god. “No thanks,” Evan said without taking his eyes off of the bronze giant. Evan was not overly fond of cell phone cameras that day. It was just such an instrument, in the hands of a spitefully jealous classmate of Saori’s, that had emerged as the instrument of their destruction. A careless public display of affection in a creperie in Daikanyama, a creperie which happened to be playing host at that moment to a lifelong frenemy of Saori, who happened to have her phone at the ready the moment their lips touched, had lead to their predicament. By the end of that night, all of Saori’s classmates and several of her school’s administrators had that photo on their hard drives. The only bright side to the situation was that the girl had been reckless enough to taunt Saori by sending her the photo as well. That had given them time to plan their escape, though they had no idea how close their pursuit was. “Come on, just one,” Saori said. She grabbed Evan’s wrist and


dragged him over to the base of the statue. Returning to a safe distance, she pulled out her phone, complete with phone strap featuring Hello Kitty in a traditional Ainu getup, a souvenir from Saori’s recent class trip to Sapporo, another one of the many corners of Japan that Evan now would not get the chance to visit. “Cheezu,” she said to Evan, who did not reply. He had caught glimpse of a group of high school students gathering by the entrance gate, looking his way. A few of the boys in the group were glaring at him, he thought. He had no proof, but he was instantly sure that they were doing so because of the group of girls next to them, who were staring at Saori and him and whispering fiercely, hands over their mouths, as if Evan could read lips from that distance. “Your turn,” Evan said after Saori’s phone snapped for the third time. They switched places. Saori did not take part in the tradition of holding her fingers in a V, which reminded Evan why he’d fallen for her. Instead, she tried her best to smile like a bubbly girl on a low-key trip to the beach, as if she weren’t being blackmailed by her classmate, as if she weren’t about to lose her lover to the stars. Evan sighed as he snapped a couple photos. Her smile, the one that had lured him in like a honeybee, was out-of-office that afternoon. Instead, she had pulled-up her mask of happiness that she wore when receiving ‘constructive criticism’ from a teacher, when Evan suggested a restaurant she hated, when she told her older sister she hadn’t met anybody at the drinking party she’d snuck her into. It was a mask, nothing more. Evan lowered the phone and they left the great Buddha without a word. *** Saori informed Evan that their final stop in Kamakura would be the Temple of the Goddess Kannon. They walked back down the narrow main street, which was made to appear a bit wider than those in the heart of Tokyo by the comparatively shorter buildings around it, which were standard, run-of-the-mill two-story structures that Evan could handle. They passed a man selling gelato out of a drive-thrustyle window in the side of what was presumably his house, a modern beach-shack inspired building with a steeply slanted roof that reached all the way down to the sidewalk. Evan tried his best to savor every minute he spent in Kamakura, with its beach-town atmosphere. He watched a couple locals, half out of their wetsuits, affixing surfboards to the top of a tiny, boxy Honda. The boards were twice the length of the car, but the men set about attaching them anyway with a strangely stern efficiency. He enjoyed the serenity of the neighborhood by the sea, a vivarium surrounded on all sides by lush green mountains, containing perhaps


the most laid-back folks in the entire country. He could hear the water, even though they were five blocks from it. He never realized how cacophonous Tokyo was until that day, when the constant hum of the city’s busses and cars running, its trains grinding metal wheels along metal tracks, and the distant roar of dozens of conversations within earshot at any time. Saori lead Evan down a hidden alleyway, around a bend in what appeared to be a dead-end road, to the base of a towering, denselyforested mountain. Right where the two met, where green grassy nature butted heads with concrete civilization, was the entrance gate to the Temple of Kannon. Evan peered up at the hillside and thought he might have been seeing hints of vermillion red and hunter-green wood, telltale signs of a Japanese temple, peeking out in a couple of spots where countless maple trees had lined up just so that their many layers of leaves parted ways for a few inches. After taking a lap around a koi pond roughly the size of an Olympic swimming pool, they began their ascent up the imposing granite staircases that lead to the temple compound’s main building. “Kannon is the goddess of mercy,” Saori explained to Evan. He wondered how she could possibly carry-on a conversation while practically mountaineering, and at break-neck speed at that. Evan was too winded to speak naturally, so he simply nodded along, as if Saori would believe he was in deep contemplation of her commentary. “I figured this would be a good place for you to visit,” she added. Evan wanted badly to hit back for that one, but he was getting that bloody taste in the back of his mouth and thought it wiser to not try to speak, to ensure his breakfast didn’t come flying back out of him. After taking a moment to catch his breath under the guise of admiring the architecture, Evan followed Saori into the Temple of Kannon, careful, as always, not to step on the threshold. All words left Evan as he stared up at the forty-foot golden statue of Kannon. It was nothing like the giant Buddha they’d visited before. Kannon towered over the couple in all her grace and glory, shining in the dancing flames of dozens of candles, her head tilted down toward her humble guests, as if actually listening to their silent requests. Saori lead Evan by the hand up as close to the massive figure as they could stand, where a wide wooden trough with angular slots cut into the top sat ready to receive their monetary offerings. Saori deposited a couple hundred yen to cover the both of them and then brought her hands together and closed her eyes. Evan had rehearsed his internal schpeal over and over again as he huffed and puffed his way up the many staircases leading to the temple, but in that moment, standing before the goddess in all her


perfect, golden glory, he felt utterly ashamed of his desires. Oh please, great Goddess, protect me as I kidnap an underage girl and run away with her. I’m only 21. It’s not that bad, right? Please make sure the police don’t find us and help her family go on with their lives like they never had a daughter in the first place. It hadn’t sounded nearly that preposterous when he was rehearsing it. In fact, he had actually convinced himself that his actions were understandable. But standing before even what he knew to be a wholly man-made, wood and metal representation of a higher power, he felt himself judged guilty of a great crime. Whether he had simply come to his senses, or the Goddess herself had reached out to him psychically and told him, “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he would never know. All he knew was that as he stood at the feet of the goddess of mercy, he suddenly felt ashamed, foolish, and all too painfully aware of what was coming next. He found Saori leaning on the railing at the edge of the terrace on which the temple sat, staring over the hodgepodge of construction that they called Kamakura. Evan sidled up to her wordlessly, taking in the same sight. He couldn’t help but feel that it looked as if the sea had taken what was once a standard-issue grid-based city, swept it away with crushing black blue water, and then deposited all the buildings nearly but not exactly where they had once stood. “Ready to go home?” Saori asked Evan without taking her eyes off the city below. “Did you bring me here on purpose?” Evan replied. “Yes, but not just so that you could meet Kannon.” “Then why?” Evan finally turned to face Saori, who had more than one tear rolling down her cheek. She turned to face him as well, to speak words that would have sounded cheap if not spoken face to face. “I wanted to show you a place worth returning to,” she said, her voice unsteady but not broken. “So you will come back, someday.” “I would come back just for you,” Evan told her, quietly, in Japanese. He thought that speaking her language might make his words sound more sincere, even if they did nothing to improve the likelihood of what he said coming true. “Love between a boy and a girl doesn’t last,” Saori said, turning back toward the city below. “I’ve fallen in and out of love with ten or twenty boys since my first crush. But I’ve been coming here with my family since I was four, and I still enjoy every trip. I love Kamakura, and maybe you do too?” Evan nodded silently. “Then you will be back. Someday.” Saori leaned into Evan, resting her head against his arm. “And I’ll know just where to find you.”


“I’m glad you’re so mature,” was all Evan could say as he watched the cold waves carry their wet, sea air into the sleepy city. He hadn’t even bought his plane ticket home yet, but in that moment, he was already planning his glorious return.


Up Creek

Victoria Griffin


he day of my high school graduation, my mom asked me why I eat so much peanut butter. “It sticks to your ribs,” she told me. “I know,” I said, smoothing my dress before sitting down on the bench. We had climbed the ramp to the arena entrance—a solid halfmile of walking—and Mom was tired. We had come early so I still had twenty minutes before I had to be in line with the other graduates. “That’s why I eat it. So I feel full.” “No, honey, it sticks to your ribs. Builds up over time. When you get to be my age your rib bones will look like giant hot dogs under your skin. The doctor will have to go in with one of those sucking things like they use to get plaque off your teeth. You don’t want to go through that, honey. All the scars and everything.” I sighed. “Yes, Mom.” I couldn’t keep from looking around to see who had heard. An old man with a cane eyed us as he limped into the arena. A woman with too-high heels looked away when I made eye contact. “Are you ready to go inside, Mom?” “Hang on, honey, just let me rest up a minute. You know, it’s hard to watch your only daughter graduate high school. Makes my breath thicken a little bit.” “You have another daughter, Mom. She’s in Florida, remember? Annie? And her husband, Jimmy, and daughter, May? Your little granddaughter?” “Oh, yes, yes.” She waved me off. “Of course I know my own daughter. What kind of mother do you think I am? She really ought to be here, though. She’s a terrible aunt to you.” “Sister, Mom. Annie’s my sister.” “Of course she is, that’s what I said.” “Yes, Mom.” “Are you ready to go inside now, honey? We’ve been sitting out here an awfully long time. The wind’s picking up, and it’s going to mess up my hair.” I looked at my mother’s head, the sun reflecting off her bare scalp. I’d fought her this morning, trying to get her to put on the wig, but


she kept tearing it off and throwing it across the room, yelling about spiders on her head. “Yes, Mom. Let’s go inside.” I found her a seat near the floor, and I made sure it was behind the stage so I could see if she tried to leave. This was the first time she’d been in a crowd this large since starting chemo. The treatments made the dementia so much worse. I’d rather have a mother who can’t remember me than no mother at all. I’d told myself that so many times it began to feel like a part of my brain—a ticker tape running behind my eyes twenty-four hours a day. Surely she would get better again once the chemo stopped. Surely she would start to remember things and act normal. If she didn’t, we would be up creek. There were hospital bills on top of hospital bills, and the only money besides my measly part-time salary was the alimony she still got from my father—and child support, but in another two weeks I’d be eighteen and those checks would stop coming. My wages from Food City weren’t a lot for us to live on, but they were something. If I had to stay home all day and make sure Mom didn’t drown herself in the bathtub—then we might as well both drown ourselves. It would be better than starving. A lot of the girls in line were wearing flats—that made me feel better about my black ballet shoes. Some of the girls were afraid of tripping while they walked across the stage, but I wanted to wear heels anyway. I wore flat shoes so that I could chase mom if she got away from me and so I could support her as we climbed up the ramp. It was alright, though. I would still look good in flats. I wished someone were there to take pictures of me. We made it almost through the ceremony—we marched in, took our seats, listened to the principal and the salutatorian and the valedictorian—before my mom started fidgeting. They began to call out names, and they almost made it to mine before she headed up the stairs. I nearly fell on my face climbing over the rows of classmates to follow her out, cussing my mother under my breath the entire time. That probably wasn’t fair. It wasn’t her fault. It also wasn’t fair that the makeup I had spent hours on was running down my face and that I would not get to stand on a stage and receive my high school diploma. “Mom!” I flung open the outer door. The bright sun stung my eyes, and I shielded them with my cap, the tassel dangling stupidly. I walked down the first section of ramp so I could see the rest of the way down. No one. How had she gotten away from me so quickly? I cantered down


the ramp, glad of my choice of footwear and irritated that the choice had been warranted. I yelled for my mom. Nothing. When I made it to the parking lot, the car was gone. That’s when my blood began to feel like melted iron. That’s when my eyes felt like balls of lead in my skull, rolling back and forth. That’s when the terror hit me, and I thought I might vomit. I pulled my phone out of my bra and dialed 9-1-1, the recorded tones of each number like laces on a corset pulling tighter—tighter— tighter. After I spoke with the operator, I hung up the phone and dropped it on the asphalt, my body collapsing behind it. My arms wrapped around my waist, and I dry-heaved but couldn’t manage to puke. I was standing when the officer arrived—standing still and trying to be steady. He helped me into the passenger side and asked what sort of music I’d like. I told him none. He looked over my graduation robes but didn’t comment. I wanted to thank him for that. He made sure my house key worked before he pulled out of the driveway, saying goodbye through the window of his vehicle. “We’ll let you know the second we find something.” I nodded and thanked him. He half-grinned and drove away. I went in the front door and out the back, my graduation robes spilled somewhere in the living room, my wind nipping at the hem of my short dress, showing my thong to the squirrels as I ducked into the line of trees. The branches above me darkened the ground, textured with roots and pinecones. I ran, not hearing the cacophony of animals’ sounds, not hearing anything but the heaving of my breath—and the sound of running water. A creek ran through the forest. I used to play near it when I was younger. Mom always warned me not to fall in. “It’s deeper than it looks.” “Mom?” She was kneeling at the edge of the water, her hands clasped in front of her, her head gleaming like the wet rocks peeking out of the water. She didn’t hear me call to her. I inched closer. “Dear Lord,” she said, “please forgive me for my sins. Please forgive me.” She wrapped her arms around her belly, pressing her forehead into the mud. “I’m so sorry. I thought I loved him. I’m too young, I know that now. But it’s too late.” I watched her body rock. “I can’t have a baby, not now. What about high school? College? I couldn’t even support us by myself. I can’t take care of me, what would I do with a baby?” Her words came in short bursts, half-obscured by the running wa-


ter. She thinks she’s seventeen. She thinks it’s Annie in her belly. “I can’t. I can’t.” She rose to her knees. Then her feet. Her neck arched back, and she looked up at the sky—blue and cloudless. She stepped off the creek bank, into the water. I took a step forward, then stopped. The water came to her waist. “Dear God, cleanse me of my sins. Let my blood run pure and clean as this water.” I ran to the edge of the creek. “I believe, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, my Lord, and my savior.” I looked down at her as she sank into the water. It rippled against her chest. “Please Lord, please baptize me…in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Forgive my sins.” Her bald head sank beneath the water. I stood still on the creek bank. Then I hit my knees and prayed, but no amount of salty tears running down my flesh could cleanse me of my sin.


Water Lilies

Cezarija Abartis


t was Saturday afternoon and Paula was going to meet her friend at the Art Institute in the Impressionist gallery. She raised her nose and sniffed a nauseating floral perfume in the air, which had a bitterness she could taste all the way to the back of her tongue. It must have emanated from the woman in the sleeveless flower-print dress sitting on the bench in front of the huge blue Monet, her full skirt spread out around her, as though she were Ophelia in The Brook. She was middle-aged with heavy arms and should have worn a jacket. In profile, her face was pretty and calm, though when she swiveled her head to Paula her brow seemed tight in pain. A group of schoolchildren sidled along, studying the floor or pointing at the ceiling. They no doubt would have preferred to be somersaulting in the playground. Paula caught sight of Caroline standing before a painting by Mary Cassatt. Caroline held her purse with both hands like a small shield in front of her stomach and looked sad. Caroline turned and waved at Paula. “I got here a little early. All these pictures of Madonna and Child, mother and baby. Baby baby baby.” Paula pressed Caroline’s shoulder. “Did you tell Eric?” “I will.” Caroline made a cone of her fingers and then released them as if she were trying to decide something. “He flew to Portland to be with his grandfather in Hospice. I’m joining him tomorrow.” The woman in the flower-print dress walked up behind them. Her sharp perfume made Paula dizzy. “Let’s go into that gallery,” Paula said, pointing to the adjacent room. There were more Cassatts–a brown-haired mother toweling her son, a young mother combing her child’s yellow hair, eyes watchful, bound to the child. “It’s only women and children,” Paula noticed. “There are no men in her paintings.” Caroline folded her arms across her chest. “I’m not sad about the miscarriage. I couldn’t imagine being a mother. Is that unnatural? Is something wrong with me?” “No, nothing.” Caroline arched her eyebrows. “I should’ve had a vasectomy, right?” Paula let Caroline’s joke pass. “When we were children we played with dolls, pretended they were our babies, but dolls are easy.” She


patted her waist. “There was a whole world before us.” She pivoted to Caroline. “How could you not tell Eric?” “It’s over now. A moot point.” “He’s your husband. He loves you.” “Well, yeah,” she said, without enthusiasm. “A couple weeks ago we had an argument. I was telling him he works too hard for the money he gets. I told him he was resisting the obvious, that he would not become a famous defense attorney like Alan Dershowitz and be rewarded by teaching at Harvard. He told me, ‘When you open your mouth, sometimes a fist shoots out.’” She shifted her purse. “I shouldn’t have said that.” “What did he mean?” Paula asked. Caroline leaned in, as if to whisper a secret. “He meant he doesn’t like me.” “Maybe just that moment,” Paula said, but she wasn’t sure she believed herself. “I want to tell you something.” “There’s a man.” Caroline stepped toward The Boating Party, a blue painting with three figures. “The man’s rowing the small boat. Maybe he’s the servant. You can’t see his face.” She sounded like a museum tour guide. “And the mother and baby are in the front of the boat. None of them are wearing life vests.” She scanned the walls. “That’s the only man. Do you think he’s the father? The baby is smiling at him. He reminds me a little of my father.” She stepped back. “When Ron at work had his first son, he said he used to have dreams in which he was steering a boat, and a dinghy with a baby in it was hitched to the stern. A nightmare.” “A nightmare,” Paula agreed. “I want to tell you something.” The lady with the strong perfume stopped beside them. “I love this painting.” Her voice was perfumed, irritatingly melodious. She leaned over the guard rope to get closer to the painting. “You can see the husband’s face only in partial profile. That’s like all of us. She was so smart, don’t you think? She understood the truth about people.” Caroline replied to the lady, “People don’t know one another.” She gripped her purse so tight that her knuckles were white. “Hell, we don’t even know ourselves.” The lady’s eyes flicked up and down Caroline, like a mother measuring clothes for her child. “Yes, that’s exactly what I thought.” She scratched her bare arm. “There’s so much we don’t understand.” She had stubby fingers and red fingernails that left lines on the skin. “My husband started playing the guitar when he was forty-two and I didn’t know that about him, that he loved music so much.” She folded her arms across her chest and cupped her elbows, as if to comfort herself. “Then he died, and I didn’t get to learn anything more about him.”


Paula cleared her throat. What was she supposed to say to this strange intruder? Caroline touched the woman’s hand. “I’m so sorry.” “Thank you,” the woman said. “Here I am, sharing my grief.” She appeared to be on the verge of tears. “I shouldn’t have interrupted.” But she didn’t step away. Her eyes traveled around the walls. “Hank and I came here once. He wasn’t much for art. He preferred gardening, especially flowers. I used to bring our children, but they’re teenagers now. An old friend said we don’t own our kids, we just rent them for a couple decades.” “True,” Caroline said and looked down, as though chastened. “Children are a blessing, they make the chaos endurable,” the perfumed lady said. “All the suffering in the world. It’s justified.” “Maybe so, but then they grow up to be us,” Paula said. “I suppose we should teach them how not to screw up, to be artists and not f-----.” The lady winced. “Artists are f------,” Caroline said placidly . “I meant good artists.” Paula stared at the lady, who moved from foot to foot in an uncomfortable dance. Paula was a little sorry for twitting the woman. Paula tipped her head toward Cassatt’s judgmental Self Portrait. “Evan, he’s my fiance, he said he wanted to be a painter when he was young. He gave up that dream.” The lady said, “Maybe he’ll take it up again, when he’s older.” Across the room a small boy stood in front of a painting, Feeding the Ducks. He had been examining the painting, looking around, and then must have realized he was separated from the group of schoolchildren. He began to wail, “Mrs. Waters! Mrs. Waters!” Before anyone else could comfort him, his teacher, a middle-aged plump woman, ran toward him, knelt down, and took him in her arms. She kissed the top of his head. His crying stopped. “Nice,” the perfumed lady said, with an admiring, peaceful expression on her face, as she watched the teacher embrace the boy. “That could be a painting.” “Better than a painting,” Paula said. “Real life. A moment of perfect happiness.” The lady smiled at Paula and looked at her wristwatch. “I hope you and Evan do well.” Her eyes were as blue as Monet’s pond. Paula felt she was drifting and in danger of drowning. She put a hand over one ear. She thought if only her mother had continued with her painting, she might still be alive. Her mother had tried babies, and that didn’t work. Maybe nothing could work in some cases. “I hope Evan returns to his art.” The lady opened her arms as if the museum belonged to her. “You two enjoy the paintings. I’m meeting a


friend now.” She bowed her head. “Forgive me for leaving early.” “Strange lady.” Paula watched her stroll to the exit, her gait ungainly, her flowered skirt swinging from heavy hips. “I want to tell you something.” Caroline stared at the lady. “But pleasant too. She wanted to talk, I think, unburden herself.” She wrinkled her nose. “Share her grief. I hate that phrase.” “I hate it too.” Caroline twisted a strand of hair. “Maybe I do want the baby, now that it’s gone. To be consumed by motherhood, its sweetness, softness, to watch it grow up. To be completely absorbed in someone’s life.” She closed her eyes as if in happy memory. Then she opened them and glanced at Cassatt’s paintings. “I don’t even like Cassatt. She’s a French Norman Rockwell.” She tilted her head. “I like him well enough, I guess. And I know she’s from Pittsburgh, not France. I don’t like the Impressionists. Except for the colors.” She nodded vigorously. “I like the colors.” “I thought you liked the Impressionists.” “I changed my mind.” She shrugged. “Should we go? Do you mind? Let’s go to Renaissance sculptures.” “I wanted to tell you something.” “But we can stay here, if you’d rather. That’s okay.” Paula stood in front of Caroline. “I want to tell you something. I’m pregnant. I don’t know what to do. It’s like I’m drowning.” Caroline let out a breath. “I had no idea.” She stood still, a marble statue. And then her face became mobile again. “Talk to Evan. You two could decide.” “Yeah, well. Not yet.” Caroline tapped her fingers over her mouth, as if she were trying to push something back. “Andrea’s happy with her babies. I’ve never seen her so happy.” “Andrea has a great husband. I don’t know about Evan and me. I don’t know if we’ll get married.” “Evan’s a wonderful guy,” Caroline said. “Maybe I should have the baby. I resisted learning how to swim. I resisted going to college. All those things I resisted, they turned out well. Maybe I should have the baby.” Paula put a hand over her ear, the way her mother did to show she wanted her to speak up. This was when her mother wanted to teach her things, before her mother died, before she jumped in the river. “Maybe my resisting is a good thing.” She put the hand down and ticked off the reasons. “There are all kinds of good reasons. One, I’ll have a kid to take care of me when I’m old and feeble. Two, my kid would be wonderful. Three, children change


a person’s life. Four, it’s immortality, of course.” She stopped at her thumb. “I need one more reason. I need a fifth reason.” She tapped her thumb. “I think I’m going to cry. I mustn’t be hysterical. No need to be hysterical.” Caroline patted Paula’s hand. Paula looked up and her eyes fell on Water Lilies, which she could see in the adjacent gallery through the doorway. She walked to the room and sat on the bench in front of Monet’s painting. Caroline followed her. There were no men nor women in the painting, just lily pads floating on the blue water, with not even a sliver of horizon. Still and all, they resisted drowning.


Voices in the Everglades Daniel Montesi Photography


Cezarija Abartis’ Nice Girls and Other Stories was published by New Rivers Press. Her stories have appeared in Per Contra, Pure Slush, and New York Tyrant, among others. Her flash fiction story, “The Writer,” was selected by Dan Chaon for Wigleaf’s Top 50 Online Fictions of 2012. She currently teaches at St. Cloud State University. Nancy Bevilaqua’s poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in West Branch, Whiskey Island, Tupelo Quarterly, Juked, Pilgrimage, Rust+Moth, and other journals. In late 2014, she published a collection of poems entitled Gospel of the Throwaway Daughter, and she is also the author of Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days. A native of New York City, she now lives in St. Augustine, Fla. Nancy Canyon’s work is published in Able Muse, Water~Stone Review, Fourth Genre, Main Street Rag, Floating Bridge Review, Poetry South, and more. Ms. Canyon is a writing instructor for Whatcom Community College and a visual artist. She holds an M.F.A in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University and is currently working on her third novel. Marisa Cardin is currently a sophomore in college at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colo., where she is studying Creative Writing and Theatre. Michael Colonnese lives in Fayetteville, N.C., where he serves as managing editor of Longleaf Press and directs the Creative Writing Program at Methodist University. His latest book, Double Feature, won the 2014 Gell Poetry Prize, and was recently published by Big Pencil Press. Alice Covington has an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Spalding University. Her short stories have appeared in The Declaration, Equilibrists, the 2010 anthology Woman’s Works, and, most recently, the spring 2015 issue of Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal. She also published a work of creative nonfiction in The Delmarva Review. Dylan D. Debelis, a founding editor of Pelorus Press, is a publisher, poet, performer, chaplain, and minister based out of New York City. A candidate for Unitarian Universalist Ministry, Dylan embodies his faith in praxis through his pastoral care and social justice activism. Dylan has been published in more than 20 literary magazines and reviews, including the Buddhist Poetry Review, Peaches Lit Magazine, and Carbon Culture Review.


Bianca Diaz’s chapbook, No One Says Kin Anymore, was published by Spring Garden Press in 2009. Her poems have twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for Best of the Net. Her recent work has appeared in San Pedro River Review, The Lindenwood Review, and One (Jacar Press). She earned an M.F.A. from George Mason University and a B.A. from Florida International University. Originally from Miami, she now lives in Durham, N.C., where she teaches highschool English. Ashley DeLoach is a senior at Flagler College where she studies Fine Arts. She was inspired to create her piece, “Pompeii,” after seeing the pottery at the actual site. Rochelle Germond recently received her M.F.A in Poetry from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Her work has appeared in The Main Street Rag, Third Wednesday, and The Coachella Review, among others. Geoffrey Glass is originally from San Francisco, Calif., and currently resides in the nearby city of Hayward, where he works as a private tutor and test-prep instructor. Victoria Griffin is an East Tennessee native, currently studying English at Campbell University. Her work has appeared in Apeiron Review, Torrid Literature Journal, and Mash Stories. Carolyn Guinzio is a poet and photographer who currently lives in Fayetteville, Ark. Her third book, Spoke & Dark, won the To the Lighthouse/A Room of Her Own Prize. She is also the author of West Pullman and Quarry. Her writing and photography have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, Blackbird, Bomb, The Cortland Review, Conjunctions, Drunken Boat, Fiction International, Thrush, and other journals. Guinzio is a Chicago native and graduate of the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College. She is now the text editor of Yew: A Journal of Innovative Writing & Images By Women. Her fourth book, Spine, will appear this fall Tracy Haack studied creative nonfiction and pedagogy in Northern Michigan University’s M.A. program. Thomas Heller lives in Orlando, Fla., where he is an undergraduate student at the University of Central Florida. He also works on the staff of The Florida Review.


TJ Kennedy is a Flagler College alumnus who graduated with a B.A. in business administration. Amanda Kirkley is a Southern California native with a B.A. in Creative Writing, where she is an associate editor for Orange Monkey Publishing and a member of PoetrIE, a non-profit literary organization based out of the Inland Empire, Calif. Daniel Montesi is a high school counselor and a nationally certified counselor in Miami, Fla. Dorina Pena graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with her B.A. in English Writing: Poetry in 2008. She recieved her M.F.A in Poetry from Carlow University in 2011. She has a chapbook entitled Family Tree and she has individual poems published in Voices in the Attic anthologies and the Pittsburgh City Paper, as well as the journal Girls with Glasses. She is currently sending out her full length manuscript, Masking White, and her second chapbook Black History. She resides in Philadelphia, Pa., with her husband. Kim “Kimmy” Schander is pursing her undergraduate work at Flagler College, working toward her graduate studies at the University of Florida. She is one of the founding members of the Ancient City Poets in St. Augustine, Fla. She has been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and has illustrated several books. She is on the Board of Govornors with an online Poetry group called FM, and she just edited their Summer 2015 issue, available on Amazon. Adrienne Unger received her M.F.A in Creative Writing from George Mason University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Chautauqua, The Harvard Review Online, The Southampton Review, Oberon, and Alehouse. Bill Wolak is a poet, photographer, and collage artist. He has just published his 12th book of poetry entitled Love Opens the Hands with Nirala Press. His collages have been published in more than 30 magazines including The Annual, Peculiar Mormyrid, Danse Macabre, Dirty Chai, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Lost Coast Review, Yellow Chair Review, and Otis Nebula. Recently, he was a featured poet at The Mihai Eminescu International Poetry Festival in Craiova, Romania. He teaches Creative Writing at William Paterson University in N.J.


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


In this issue... Entreat your senses to the experience of travel. Open to feel the wrath of the Unstoppable Monster, knowing well you may find Sanctuary among the very same pages. Enter a realm of boundless possibility, and discover adventure…

Cover Art “Weightless Flesh” by Bill Wolak