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bitchin’ kitsch

7 Iss. 8 Aug 2016 Vol.

The Talent

Cover: “Old Cocks” by Jeri Peterson. Sheikha A. Giada Cattaneo Larry Deery Eric Fallecker Sophia Feliciano Chad Fisher J. Ash Gamble Sasheera Gounden Laura Hanna J.H. Johns Jennifer Lothrigel Ryan McDonald Izzy Noon Tommy Paley Anna Shapiro Steve Sibra David Thompson Suzanna Watson

18 25 10 21 20 9 26 3, 17 16 8 5, 30 12-15 28 22-24 6-7 4 19 11, 27

Sasheera Gounden

Sasheera Gounden | Introvert | Graphite on paper


Steve Sibra | Watermelons | fiction My friend Paulie lived in a big house with a big yard, all fenced in and with a huge Saint Bernard roaming the grass. We liked to play War — we cut the ends off watermelon and we hollowed out the red sweetness; packed the inside of the rind with newspaper and put them on our heads like Army helmets. Thin red watermelon juice ran down by our ears and eyes. You could say it ran like bloody tears, except that we were kids at the end of the Baby Boomer generation, middle class children living in small town America — the product of unbroken homes, with loving parents, and no real understanding of the true depths of sorrow that the world had to offer. My friend’s brother died in Viet Nam one day while we were doing this. Well, I didn’t know exactly when he died -- but that was when the messengers came. The big black car pulled up in front of the gate; two men in uniform emerged. Paulie and I stood with the gigantic dog between us. We dropped our plastic guns in the grass and we stared. The watermelon helmets fell forgotten from our heads. The men came through the gate and they walked up to the porch. I had no idea what was going on. I never asked if Paulie did or not. We were nine years old and it was 1965. We had just discovered the Beatles. It was an exciting time. The life we knew was life in a farming town of eight hundred people out in the middle of eastern Montana. We didn’t feel like we were really part of the world -- not the real world, the one on TV and in the newspapers. Death was something for farm animals and old people. Paulie’s parents were both home and after the men came and went, they stayed in the house. We stood in the yard and they just stayed in the house. After a while my mother drove up in the big powder blue Mercury station wagon that we owned. She motioned me over to the car and just then Paulie’s mother came to the door and called him into the house. There was a cured cowhide in the back of the Mercury. We kids used to crawl under it on trips and play games. For some reason I remember looking in the back of the car as I got in and saw that it was all folded up in a square. It was never folded up. My mother said little until we got home; then my father explained to me that Paulie’s brother Ralph had been “killed in the war.” I wanted to call Paulie but my mother said, wait. I waited. I waited for a week. Then another week. It was summer and now I waited and I waited but not because of my mother. I saw him in school that fall. We didn’t have much to say to one another. As it turned out we weren’t friends any more. I didn’t understand this, but at the same time I did. I thought about those two hollowed out watermelon helmets in the yard. I wondered who went out and picked them up. Perhaps they were still lying there. I wondered if they eventually just rotted away, or if time stopped and they just lay there, unchanged as the winter dropped its snow like a shroud and silently covered them all up in white.

Jennifer Lothrigel

Jennifer Lothrigel | Corn flakes | Photograph


Anna Shapiro | What it Tastes Like to Be a Woman | Poetry standing in line at the gas station buying a six pack of beer and some cigarettes with my friend’s money (he owes me) and pondering the calories in a reese’s cup because I don’t even like candy all that much but I’m on one of those weird diets that I made up where you eat nothing but protein bars and drink diet coke when you are hungry and now I’m starving and that chocolate never looked so good a guy told me today that he’d always wanted to feel it to feel what it means to be a woman and I laughed and said why all it means is feeling unworthy all the time and like no matter what you do you are taking up too much space which is the real reason that we cross our legs when we sit we couldn’t care less if you got a good look at our pussies it’s just that we need to curl ourselves up so tight like we’re not even there and apologize for the space we are inhabiting and the air we are breathing

and that’s why when a girl wants to eat something other than raw greens society says that she needs to preempt it and apologize “sorry, I’m being such a fat ass right now” so, sorry, i’m being such a fat ass right now just thinking about that reese’s cup I probably gained five pounds and you probably see me staring and know exactly what I’m thinking and you’re probably disgusted with me because I’m sure as hell disgusted with myself because that’s what it means to be a woman I wanted to tell him right then and there since he wanted so badly to know I grab a diet coke from the fridge and suck it down real slow


J.H. Johns | Social Media | Poetry Their “togetherness� will only last as long as their batteries hold out. And, then, all these fucks walking around with earphones in and eyes glued to screens, will be walking around with their fingers up their asses.

chad fisher

chad fisher | The Lottery Machine | ink on paper


Larry Deery | Die-Hard Mother | poetry I drove through the salt flats of Utah once, and over the border and into Nevada. I never looked back, I never looked back. Rubber traction and carbon black, I spat out the window and nothing spat back. There’s a lake, the Great Salt Lake, and like the flats, it’s tired and thirsty, Beaten and level down flat like road kill inertia, driven to ground, leveled to naught. I’m beat. I need a drink. I’m always thirsty. Yeah, as you come, so you go, see the road. “Never stop moving.” I buried something out there. A hunger for more. I drive my car. It drives me. The dog lies quietly in the back. Then growls when I stop for the cop, East Coast plates get you ragged every time. It’s a big country. “It’s a small world.” How many more times do I have to dig out what’s in there? A radio station turns itself on, tunes itself in. “LOCO!” I don’t speak Spanish. “It’s ‘Wild Thing’ stupido.” Loco, si. I lied. I’ve always looked back. I’m looking back now. I’m driving back now. Alone. The dog has died. She’s in the back. I’ve buried enough but this is the last. Stop me before I pound every motherfucking cop into the tar like road kill. I’ve brought a shovel. A thirst for more. “You’re digging up again. You’re always looking back.” I am. I kiss the dog goodbye then bury her deep. She’ll never rise from here. “Bury me here too.” Please. The radio - grinds – on – down – to - nothing. Count up, It’s ten years after. I’m going home.

Suzanna Watson

suzanna watson | woman drying her hair | mixed media 11

Ryan McDonald | Under the Bridge | Non-Fiction Between the years 2007 and 2014, the following students and recent alumni of the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District, located in rural north-central Massachusetts, died: Jordyn Kalagher, 16, Dave Plamondon, 20, Teddy Hietala, 22, Ryan Francis, 18, Tom White, 21, Rachel Lee, 10, and Rachael LaJoie, 18. *** December 11th, 2007, the day Jordyn Kalagher died, I was a freshman at Oakmont Regional High School, aware that Jordyn was a popular field hockey player and in honors level courses. The only image I had of her was from once in a hallway, vacant except the two of us, she walked by and smiled at me, rather than us keeping our heads down and ignoring each other’s presence. She had brown hair, bright eyes, and a soft squirrelly face cherry-topped with a round nose. During morning announcements, Principal Uminski, in his first year in the position, broadcasted over the intercom that she had passed away. Rumor had already confirmed this. He brought in mourning specialists and offered their services. Teachers shared their support and sadness. Most replaced lectures with silent worksheets. On a trip to the bathroom, I saw clusters of juniors and seniors walking slowly with no destination, holding hands, and weeping. On the way back, I noticed a lone freshman in black gothic apparel sitting with her back against the concrete hallway wall sobbing. When I got on the bus home, my best friend Austin stood up and let me have the window seat, stained by road salt, as were the floor, my shoes, coat, and backpack. I sighed. The students filling into the bus cast their eyes downwards. “Today…” I said to Austin and searched for an appropriate word, “sucked.” “I just feel… sad,” Austin said. He didn’t know her too. The bus took a right out of the school driveway onto South Ashburnham Road towards Westminster where a student named Dan Farrell died in 2001 after hitting a patch of ice. The bus took another right down Oakmont Avenue, lined on both sides by forest. At the end of the road, the bus approached a pass under a small railroad bridge known as “the graffiti bridge.” I gazed at the right side of the bridge, which was unofficially sanctioned for sports teams to publicize games and the name of their opponent, often garnished with phrases like “Go Oakmont!” With winter sports just starting, the last game announcement had faded and been obscured by rogue spray-painters, who usually used the other side of the bridge for personal expression. When Dan Farrell passed away, I was eight and vaguely remember his name being on the bridge. ***

December 4th, 2007, Jordyn Kalagher worked a shift afterschool at Market Basket in Ringe, New Hampshire. For the drive to Ringe, wintery mix on the road had melted under the sunlight and been treated. A few hours later driving home, she lost control of her car on black ice, formed from what had melted when the temperature dropped back below freezing, and slid into a tree. Principal Uminski’s intercom updates of her condition began the following morning. It was the first time I had ever heard her first and last name spoken together. Students discussed her odds of living citing more detailed rumors, like how the driver’s side of the car “wrapped completely around the tree like a hot dog.” That Friday, following hurried logistical announcements, the principal stated the address of the hospital and Jordyn’s room number. The shoulders of classmates sitting in front of me lowered. All day, students measured (or ignored completely) their acquaintanceship with Jordyn while discussing visiting or sending flowers. Rumor circulated that her closest friends were already there. Many recalculated her odds of living and penciled in her return. During the final bell announcements, Principal Uminski preempted the latest update with an apology. He informed us that there was a mistake and that Jordyn was not in condition to host visitors. He apologized again. A week and four days after the crash, the student body assembled in the gym for an event advertised as “A Celebration of Jordyn’s Life.” Her family was in the audience. The principal, select teachers, close friends of Jordyn, her sister, and a girl who didn’t seem to have any association, read poems and prayers, made speeches, and cried for the person they, and the entire school, had lost. Sometime soon after, a new display appeared on the graffiti bridge. In between a big red heart and a yellow lightning bolt (as Jordyn loved Harry Potter), her friends wrote four lines in capital letters over a white background. In a dense red, “We hope you dance,” pinned the top. Below, “We love you,” pronounced in bolded blue. In the third line, her name spanned the length of the three words above. The bottom, “Stay strong,” in bright yellow broke the symmetry by starting in between the “J” and the “O” and ending at the “N.” *** The first to paint over Jordyn was a student whose mother died a few months after. Come next autumn my sophomore year, Jordyn was incorporated into the field

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Ryan McDonald | Under the Bridge

hockey team’s graffiti as well as other teams like girl’s varsity soccer who wrote their phrase “Dubs up!” and beside it, “JKal #12,” her field hockey number. As Jordyn’s class approached graduation, her friends painted the concrete wall of a newly constructed bridge over a creek thirty feet from the school’s driveway. It read in green letters, “Smile for JKal,” over a yellow background. At the end of my senior year in 2011, the other side of the bridge read in blue letters over white, “Laugh for Teddy,” an alumnus four years out that no one still in high school knew. Seven days before Teddy died, Dave Plamondon, a high school friend of my brother, died when a distracted student-bus driver at UConn hit him. I was close with his sister in middle school and early high school. My brother was good friends with him, close enough that Dave’s mother was his sponsor for Confirmation at church. Only knowing him through his sister and my brother, I cried quite a lot at his funeral just across the aisle from a row of his best friends. I was only there at the funeral on behalf of my brother, who was studying abroad in Argentina. Dave’s friends painted on the bridge a teddy bear with angel wings, shading its edges green, asleep on a cloud containing his initials and the dates spanning his life. Beneath the cloud, they wrote, “To be loved in the hearts we leave behind is to live.” When Ryan Francis, one of my best friends in elementary school, committed suicide the November after our class graduated, his friends sloganned in big blue letters, “Bring da ruckus for Ryan.” News of his death reached me now at UMass Amherst because I had received texts from close friends who read RIP Ryan Facebook posts and thought it was me who died. I met up for lunch with a good friend and the only classmate from Oakmont at UMass named Ben. He was much closer to Ryan in high school than I was; he was also very close with Dave. Tears glossed his eyes as he said, “This is getting really old.” When Tom White, an older kid always friendly towards me, died in a car accident, I met up with Ben again. He was a close friend of Tom. This time with heavy eyes, he shook his head and said, “Young people die. That’s just how it is.” The bridge was painted. When a ten year old from Ashburnham died after a battle with cancer, sympathetic high schoolers painted on the bridge, “Remember Rachel Lee.” Most high schoolers never knew who she was to begin with. *** At my little sister’s graduation in 2014, Principal Uminski spoke of Rachael LaJoie, a senior who had died just a month before. She had worked hard to complete her degree even through her pregnancy with her child, Brooke. He asked for a moment of silence. All across the football field, the 149 graduates in green and white robes tilted their heads

and caps downwards. I couldn’t see their faces. It seemed that every grade at Oakmont had to lose at least one along the way. In a recent phone call with Principal Uminski, we talked about the string of deaths he had seen as principal. He said, “In tragedy, it brings out the best in this community, unfortunately, but it does.” He remembers the exact spot of driving down Route 12 from Fitchburg to Ashburnham where he got a phone call and learned Jordyn had passed away. As he tries to learn from the last tragedy as a professional dealing with young people, he only knows a mistake has been made after they happen. Like when Rachael died, her small group of friends began to lash out at mourning kids who hadn’t ever spoken to Rachael. The administration had to explain to her friends the complications of community and individual mourning. When a student dies, he encourages that student’s friends to contact the Westminster Police Department before they paint the graffiti bridge. The police then send an officer to watch traffic and make sure no one gets hurt while the teenagers paint and memorialize the friend they lost. He thanked everyone. The class of 2014 lifted their heads. I could see my sister in the front row. They graduated. I drove home taking the road that was my old bus route and saw a new layer of paint: “The Angel that Brooke Deserves.” Kids die. Here, kids die and kids compensate for their smallness.


Laura Hanna | At a Bar on Pelican Street | Poetry At age twenty, I watched a man push an ink pen through another man’s ear all the way out the other side, leaving him to bleed and walking out of the bar with the tequila still in his hand. The man on the ground was named Jerry. I know because his girlfriend kept screaming his name and yelling for someone, anyone to call the police. And everyone stood, frozen, as if the sun was no longer on fire or was being attacked by bees. I couldn’t understand how a man can murder a stranger and still have the stomach to drink or walk out. But now I understand what cowardice looks like. I read an article once and only remember one sentence, Those who knew where Pakistan is located chose not to go to war.

Sasheera Gounden

Sasheera Gounden | Rock N’ Roll | Graphite on Paper


Sheikha A. | Derm-eaten | Poetry Dust has begun to sting like mosquito larvae, not instantly sighted, but sharply excited, the stings particularly pick at the extra dry regions, the dry irrigated surface of inky veins resting on the most devoutly cracking, soul-surrendering part of my skin that gives me glimpses of beauty, the patching pigmentation and the blending of stretch marks with the new aridity; here body and soul union in true pairs, my eyes droop without command, my skin breaks in the way truth sows, in the way it transforms till all left’s revealed is bouts from a potion that welts like unwanted cells pushing to break free.

david thompson

David Thompson | U.P. | Photograph


Sophia Feliciano | Look Me In the Eye | Poetry The conniving kill quick, erasing time and matter within seconds of treacherous peak. Floating in his eyes, Unaware that I’d died Swaddled in that pink robe, fabric of filth, vessel of ash left over in tempered wrath In skin dry and cracked A heart cross hatched

Eric Fallecker

eric fallecker | Last Day in the City | Photograph


Tommy Paley | A Handful of Roasted Cashews | Prose He had grown up being told that his bark was worse than his bite. He had always resolved to change that one day. Harder than it sounds, though, what with that bark of his. She often goes out into her yard, lays on her back, gazes up at the clouds and wonders “why?” and “who?” and “clouds?” He covered canvas after canvas with a variety of shades of blue until his guest bedroom was full of these pictures of blue. Once he was done, he would put on a warm sweater, pour himself a cup of tea, grab a handful of roasted cashews and sit there, staring into these blue worlds he had created. It was, at the same time, the oddest and most normal thing he had ever done. She awoke with a start on the midtown bus heading east surrounded by stuffed teddy bears, fermented food products and the best damn jingle those television ad execs will ever hear. He sometimes wonders why he runs - is it for the exercise, the piece of mind or to escape that pack of hungry wolves who in turn seem to be running purely for the exercise and piece of mind. She was known back in high school as a “girl most likely” type which was as much of a curse as it was a blessing, mostly because she went out of her way to make sure that it was and because she just couldn’t settle on whether she was a girl most likely to convert her backyard into an impromptu pig farm or become an investment banker or a creative mix of the two. He had been told from an early age that he should “never bite the hand that feeds him” or “never bite any hands at all because, like, who does that?” or “stop licking your lips while threatening to bite my hands all together or there will definitely be no ice cream!” She was known among her circle of friends as the one with no neck, which was either playfully ironic, vastly incorrect or both. He came home and carefully removed his shoes. He placed them on the floor, among the other pairs and went downstairs. A few hours later, he walked by and, while it could have been just his imagination getting the best of him, he could have sworn the shoes were huddled closer together, whispering about him. Later that day, he walked by

again and he could swear that he heard his name followed by laughter followed by an amazing impression of him, or at least the best a shoe could have pulled off on short notice. Finally, on his way up to bed, he passed the shoes again and could have sworn that they were not only conspiring against him, but also rallying the boots and slippers to join the revolution. In the middle of the night he woke up with a start and at the foot of the bed were his pair of shoes. Trembling, and barely able to control his shaking, he slowly realized what he had to do - cease consuming expired dairy products. She awoke, all of a sudden, on a train having no idea where she was, where she was going, how she got on the train in the first place and why her compartment was full of men named Steve. He fondly remembers his youth picking corn on hot summer days, picking corn on warm summer nights, and picking corn as summer turned to fall. And in the winter, he danced. She sat at her dining room table and cut strips of green paper with her trusty scissors. Next, she carefully cut out red circles. Equipped with her stripes of green and dots of red she waited and waited for the next set of cryptic instructions from her boss who also happened to be a rubber tree plant. He sat on a chair in his backyard and closed his eyes. The wind blew, rustling the leaves on the trees. A light rain began to fall. His skin was soon covered in goosebumps and his hair became damp.The day was slowly consumed by the evening. And through it all he sat on his chair, partially out of pride, partially out of loyalty and partially because he had spontaneously and aggressively told his girlfriend that he “planned to sit on that chair all night long and that there was nothing she could do about it.� She was told by her co-workers that she was glowing these days, which she appreciated. She kept the secret of literally bathing in olive oil to herself because she was sure they wouldn’t understand which, knowing her co-workers as she did, would invariably lead to tons of exasperated confusion, mystified bewilderment and chaotic uncertainty around the workplace.

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Tommy Paley | A Handful of Roasted Cashews

He went to the store to buy some glue. He didn’t just buy some glue, he bought all the glue. And then, then he started to make everything sticky. She fills pages and pages with nothing but passive aggressively-drawn commas and intentionally improperly-used semi colons as her way of saying “take that mom!” He often closes his eyes and escapes to a world full of the most highmaintenance, over-the-top demanding and completely demeaning fairies and elves that, while beautiful and a welcome break from the boring redundancy of his real world, just makes him wish his imagination did a better job. She regularly and quite gleefully pours salt into wounds except for those horrible, soul-searching moments when she runs out of salt and she is forced to take a break, sit down, reflect upon her decisions and wonder out loud “HAVE YOU BOUGHT ANYMORE SALT YET, FATHER!” He finally took his therapist’s advice to look within himself which, while quite informative, led to a super long and drawn out conversation with his parents about exactly what he was doing in the garage with flood lights, large amounts of gauze and the bathroom mirror.

Giada Cattaneo

Giada Cattaneo | No Time | Mixed media


J. Ash Gamble | Hidden Agenda | Poetry It lingers, a serpent, right below the surface of their words, ready always to strike out with venom.

Suzanna Watson

suzanna watson | nude | Graphite on Paper


Izzy Noon | All Elbows | Poetry When we love it’s all elbows, a right cross to the jawline when it should be a kind embrace When we love it’s cold outside and you might think our passion makes it warmer, but it takes the degrees down further It’s mauling instead of making love, biting instead of nuzzling.

History — The B’K

The Bitchin’ Kitsch (2010-present) or The B’K is a compzine edited and published by The TalbotHeindl Experience, LLC in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. The Bitchin’ Kitsch was created as a monthly zine for artists, poets, prose writers, or anyone else who had something to say. It was born out of a necessity to create an avenue for editor, Chris Talbot-Heindl, to remain artistic after school, with her subversive style, while continuing to live in Central Wisconsin. It exists for the purpose of open creativity and seeks to be an outlet for people who may not otherwise have an opportunity to show their work. Although the idea was created as a “what-if” brainstorm between the Talbot-Heindls’ whilst in bed and sort of groggy, it has since blossomed into a legitimate publication that has gone international Through the grace of the Internet, The B’K has had the opportunity to create a juried book and the opportunity to publish two juried chapbooks. Here’s to the past five years, and hopefully many, many more.


Jennifer Lothrigel

Jennifer Lothrigel | Undone | Photograph

Profile for Chris Talbot-Heindl

The B'K August 2016 Issue  

The Bitchin' Kitsch was created as a monthly zine for artists, poets, prose writers, or anyone else who has something to say. It exists for...

The B'K August 2016 Issue  

The Bitchin' Kitsch was created as a monthly zine for artists, poets, prose writers, or anyone else who has something to say. It exists for...