Vol. 9 Issue 8
The Talent Cover: Untitled piece by Giada Cattaneo. Roo Bardookie Giada Cattaneo Albert Davenport Elizabeth Dickinson Sydney Dudley Matt Gillick Sophia Glastein John Grey BT Hathaway James Croal Jackson Clara B. Jones Stepanie Jones Dmitry Martirosov Caitlin McGillicuddy Mark Myavec Anagha Subhash Nair KG Newman Christopher Overfelt Sy Roth Richard Salembier Enzo Scavone Andreyo Sen David Sermersheim DorsĂa Smith Silva Robert Sudheimer Lazarus Trubman Dr. Mel Waldman Mark Young Jeffrey Zable Donald Zagardo
48 cover, 41 58 21 16, 44 23 34-35 39 24, 40, 57 22, 56 28-29 11, 25, 60 36-37 3-4 49 12 5, 20 26-27 17-18, 31-32 38 14-15 8-10 45 13, 30 19, 33 50-51 52-55 7, 46 6, 47 42-43
Caitlin McGillicuddy | My Horse and Swimming Pool | Fiction Nana thought Uncle Paul’s fancy casket and new Brooks Brothers suit was worth the investment. I thought it made him look like a vampire principal. Daddy said it was a waste of money. If I die, I want my parents to buy a horse and get an in-ground swimming pool, things I’ve always wanted but couldn’t have because we had to save for my future. I’ve written this wish down in the fuzzy journal I keep under my pillow and underlined the most important part, twice. My brother Alec is not allowed to ride my horse or swim in my pool. He deserves this because he won’t let me play video games with him and says girls are dumb. But I can spell Mississippi and Alec can’t and he’s three years older, so there. Mom and Daddy won’t like my wish, but I’ll be dead and Daddy said you have to honor dead people’s wishes. Uncle Paul wished not to be attached to machines which I think was a waste because you get so few chances to make wishes. Blowing out birthday candles, at a fountain when your parents have a penny, or if you see a shooting star, which I haven’t but probably will when I go to overnight camp because everyone sees shooting stars at overnight camp. Daddy and Nana fought about Uncle Paul’s wish, but it was written down. So the doctors shut the machine off like lights when you leave a room, which Mom says I need to do more because I light up our house like a Christmas tree and she isn’t made of money. She’s made of blood and guts, which is what was all over the road when the car hit Uncle Paul’s motorcycle. The motorcycle is in our driveway now but it doesn’t look like it did when Uncle Paul drove me up the street on July fourth. It’s all bent, and Nana said she doesn’t want to see it ever again. But she has to because she is sleeping in our guest room, even though Daddy wants her to leave. I’m not supposed to know that though. I heard him say it last night when Mommy was rubbing his back and telling him he should cry before it eats him alive. They were in their bedroom and that’s where private things happen like changing your clothes and doing it. I don’t know what doing it is, but Alec told me it’s only for grown-ups and it’s gross. I’ve been really good this week except when Nana tried to make me eat shrimp and I made puke sounds because shrimp look like tiny aliens. She said I better not behave that way at church and made me practice all the church rules like when to kneel, or make a cross with your hands, or be quiet - which is all the time - or how to eat the body of Christ, which sounds worse than shrimp.
Caitlin McGillicuddy | My Horse and Swimming Pool (continued)
Daddy saw us practicing and told Nana to stop indoctoring me and sending him on a guilt trip. I asked Mom if we’re all going on the guilt trip or if Alec and I would stay with Nana like when she and Daddy went to Aruba. She told me to go make my own chicken nuggets in the microwave for dinner, which I ate with extra ketchup because I love ketchup. I do NOT love barbecue sauce which is tricky because it looks like ketchup but will burn your tongue off. Daddy and Uncle Paul always cooked ribs on the grill when it was snowing outside, and they would use two whole bottles of barbecue sauce. Mom would say they needed their heads examined, because it was snowing, not because of how much sauce they used, I think. Sometimes grown-ups say one thing but mean another so I can’t be sure. Like when my fish Teddy died, Daddy said it’s good to cry. But I’d never seen him do it. Even when he almost hacked off his finger cutting up a tree in the yard with the chainsaw. Or at the funeral today when everyone else was crying, even the lady with the weird eye from the grocery store. After the funeral people came to our house for a sad party. Everyone was crying, even Alec and I felt bad for wishing he couldn’t ride my horse. I was tired of crying so I went to my room and colored a picture of my horse swimming in my pool and Daddy came and sat on my bed because he needed a minute. I showed him my picture but didn’t tell him about my wish. Then he started to cry. I didn’t know what to do so I told him crying is good, like when Teddy died. I rubbed his back like Mommy did when she worried he would be eaten alive. I gave him a sock because I didn’t have tissues and promised I would wear my winter coat and barbecue with him in the snow. But he just cried more so I hugged him as hard as I could, until my arms got tired and my fingers were tingling. Then I got Alec who was playing video games in his room and he took a turn. Daddy looked so sad I started crying again and Alec made a funny face to make me laugh. So I thought maybe I would let him swim in my pool after all. When I laughed, Daddy stopped crying and wiped his boogers on my sock. Then he told us that he and Uncle Paul used to make fart noises with their armpits at church to make Nana upset so they could go to the car and read comic books instead. Alec and I can make fart noises with our armpits too and showed him. Daddy laughed then said he and Uncle Paul could do it way louder and stuck his hand in his armpit to show us how.
KG Newman | The Survival Slant | Poetry How do we live in deceit? We tear the truth and weave it into a lie — spiders on a signal line — waiting for change to make itself known. When it doesn’t come we need serotonin fanged directly into our brains, seizures to restore order, and what’s left to cling to is the disagreement itself: third child or not, Denver or Indiana, a dinner of black-tie variety standing at the end of this. No whiskey/martini overpriced. You’ll give back the ring. We’ll both say what we mean and it still won’t mean a thing.
Jeffrey Zable | The Fight | Poetry It was around 1965, and it was supposed to be the fight of the century: John Garland, the neighborhood tough guy, against another guy whose name I completely forget, but who supposedly told people that he could whip Johnâ€™s ass with no sweat. So the fight was scheduled to take place in the schoolyard on a Sunday afternoon â€” it being all that we talked about a few days in advance. The two of them arrived about the same time and 10 or 11 boys showed up to watch. John and the other guy started off by getting in boxing stances and slowly moved around each other. Both swung at the air in front of one another, but strangely enough, neither hit the other squarely for the ten or so minutes that the fight lasted. They mainly just circled each other over and over, until they got so tired that they both agreed to continue another day. And walking home with the kids from my block, we all were pretty quiet, no one bragging that they could have done better, knowing that if word had gotten out, it could easily have gotten them into a world of trouble...
Mark Young | the wildlife is abundant | Poetry With its soothing waterfall flow, Wednesday night’s Magic-Hawks game looked destined for overtime. But we ignored the yin-yang cycle, that most important predictor of quality outcomes. Art as experience, even if sometimes the plasma is thawed. Or flawed. We must expose the public to counterarguments — that there’s only a thin physical foundation beneath a marzipan factory; or withhold funding from the nation’s intelligence director if they’re charged with possession of cocaine. Sometimes they never come back.
Adreyo Sen | Piku | Fiction My mother, in one of her Let’s Patronize the Help moods, sat enthroned on a sofa, waiting to smile condescendingly as tea was placed on her arm rest. Piku, standing before her at attention said, “the boy stood on the burning deck.” Later, I learnt she was reciting a poem she was mugging up for class. This surprised me. I hadn’t expected Piku to have such a good command of English, had thought she would have gone to the kind of Hindi-medium school whose children only learn English in the eighth or ninth grade, that is, if they hadn’t dropped out by then. “Wrong,” my mother intoned with satisfaction when I told her this. These people – and by these people, she meant her cook, Manju, Piku’s mother, and our cleaner, Radha, whose family was once restricted to work in the cremation grounds, and whose husband beat her to a pulp when he sniffed too much household cleaner, so I suspected this was why she now looked like a misshapen potato – now sent their children to English medium schools by hook or crook, confident they’d land good jobs in the new India. Wasn’t Radha’s eldest now a clerk at an accounting firm? I was annoyed. I resented my mother’s unspoken inference that I’d done little with my foreign degrees. And I liked to think I was more enlightened than my mother, who made a big production out of the first time she allowed her then maid to sit on the broken sofa we no longer used. This was two years ago. Long before I had become aware of Piku’s existence on the periphery of mine, Manju had begun to bring her and her brother, Aditya, to work with her. That Manju had given her son what was once a high-caste name, my mother told me in one of those rare moods we were being confidential together, was an indication of her ambitions for him. I became aware of Piku long after her mother deputed her to bring me my tea, which she would place at my elbow after – so annoyingly – retrieving a coaster I’d been using as a bookmark and setting it down next to me. The day after I heard Piku recite that ridiculously English poem I detested for its insistence on saintly martyrdom, I looked at Piku more closely. She returned my gaze unblinkingly. She was a small, somewhat squat child with dark, thoughtful eyes, who looked eight, but was really twelve. There was something very hardy about her and my heart warmed to her. It was obvious Piku adored her brother, for whom she would build a little nest in a corner of the living room, eight feet from where I worked. She would seat him against the wall and watch over him as he doodled with my old crayons on newspapers. Sometimes, she would sing to him, or draw something for him to color. And sometimes she would provoke him to helpless hilarity by earnestly reciting her English lessons.
To give the little princeling his credit, he wasn’t especially spoiled by the love Piku cherished on him, love she couldn’t shower on Manju, who was composed entirely of angularities. And Manju, who only ever spoke to her daughter in stern command, would pop out of the kitchen every now and then to poke a pit of batter into Aditya’s mouth. Mummy often complained of Manju’s lack of economy with the flour and her tendency to make the bread she took home really thick. But one day, the princeling was in a bad mood, fidgeting when his mother brought him tidbits, snapping at his sister when she tried to console him. Once, he punched Piku hard and she let out a little cry. “Stop that,” I felt compelled to say, seated at the dining room table. “He’s sick,” Piku hissed at me. Manju came out of the kitchen and hugged her son. “Go and help Indu-Didi with lunch,” she told Piku. Indu worked for a family down the hall. It transpired that Aditya was very sick and Mummy drove him and Manju to the local doctor, whose consultation fee was less than the price of a frappe at Café Coffee Day, the coffee chain increasingly popular in our city. Mummy took charge of the bodies of her help and their progeny, even when they resented this. Luckily, Aditya had been caught in the early stages of TB. Every day, when Manju came to work, Piku would wrap her brother in blankets and ensconce his head in old pillows. Then she would kneel by him and tell him stories, usually about handsome young tailors who were really princes in disguise and who married fairies their bold eyes plucked out of the sky. Aditya, who grew better, would become restive when Piku slipped away for a few minutes to help her mother. And then, a little after Aditya had become his old self, even screaming into my ear one morning when I was lost in thought, Piku didn’t accompany her brother and mother to our house. A week later, missing that strange little child, I asked Mummy what had happened. “Who knows?” she said, “Sick somehow. The way these people live, what can you expect?”
Adreyo Sen | piku (continued)
Mummy made poverty sound like sin. A few days later, Manju did not show up for work. My mother was frantic. “This is why Mrs. Gupta has a back-up file,” she told me, “when one sweeper doesn’t show up, the other can do her work.” The next evening, Indu came to tell Mummy that Piku was dead. Sturdy as she looked, she had always been prone to illness. And now she was dead. “Please forgive,” said Indu, when Mummy began to prepare to descend upon Manju, “she doesn’t want you there.” More diplomatically she added, “She will be shamed she cannot give you the hospitality you deserve.” Only two days after little Piku burnt into the night skies, Manju came back to work. Her stoicism and refusal to cry under the full brunt of my mother’s sympathy worried Mummy. “These people,” she said to Daddy, as he read his book that evening, “do they even register death the way we do? Are they even capable?” My father grunted, not listening. “It’s true,” she told me later, apropos of nothing, “if they felt as we did, how could they even live?” I looked closely at Manju the next morning as she set aside my books and prepared one side of the dining room table for dinner. She was quiet, but then she had always been soundless. But her eyes were flintier than usual and her busy hands, still economic in their precision, lacked their usual poetry. There were new lines under her eyes. And I realized that maybe Manju had cried no tears for her daughter as she stood unmoving before her corpse at the cremation ground. Maybe Manju had cried all her tears for Piku a long, long time ago, perhaps the first time she had held her in her arms and known she must begin to rend her heart by denying it to the child whose fierce will to survive was her own, the child who’d stood all her life on a burning deck, ready to be sacrificed.
Stephanie Jones | Untitled | Digital Illustration 11
Anagha Subhash Nair | Breaking the Surface | Non-Fiction In the seventeen years of my life, I have learnt that there is no relationship quite like that of a swimmer and her sport. A medley of love and detestation, anticipation and dread, and an intense urge to blame any source of discomfort on the rigor of training sessions, while also defending the sport with the ferocity of a mother protecting her young—these are characteristics that add up to the persona of someone who spends more time in water than on land. I first watched “The Little Mermaid” when I was four. My young self was enthralled by the very idea of sailing through water with apparent ease and grace. My passion for the underwater world has not dimmed since. I used to grab every chance I could to “dive” into a hotel pool, or spend time by the seashore. My obsession with water drove me to a point where I used to spend hours on the internet, researching ways in which I could turn into a mermaid, thus achieving what I believed was my true destiny—a life in water. Time passed, and so did my fanciful dreams. I resorted to a more realistic way of fulfilling my wishes; I took up swimming lessons. My enthusiasm rendered me a quick learner. I took absolute pride in every extra lap that I managed to swim, and flaunted how my coach improved my technique by fiddling with the nuances of my stroke. Before I realized it, swimming had become a part of me. My life was unimaginable without the perpetually sore muscles, and the periodic sense of weightlessness that one experiences while in the midst of intense workouts. The role of swimming transformed from a recreational activity to a necessity. I began to attend swimming galas and took competitions up with an insurmountable will to achieve. The swimming pool became my second home—a place where I could embrace my true self, channel my frustrations into productivity, celebrate simple victories, and reflect upon my actions and experiences. The things I have learnt from swimming are lessons for life. The numerous times I urged myself to pull “just a little harder” to overtake the girl who was right ahead of me trained me to accept that nothing in this world ever comes easy. The satisfaction at the end of a longdistance workout taught me that though we may not always be in the lead, our journey towards excellence must never cease. The times I blacked out momentarily owing to the all-too frequent “bumping heads” gave me a lesson—sometimes, you have to agree to let people in, but still be distinctly aware of your own path. The parties and hours of sleep and comfort that I gave up to attend training sessions made me understand the importance of sacrificing everything for something I love. My relationship with my sport is one that I will treasure all my life, for it has taught me more than anything else ever will. I believe that it is my responsibility to do justice to it; a task that doesn’t feel like one because of its appeal. Looking back, it’s extraordinary to think that what once started as a childish fantasy grew into something that makes me who I am today. I am more confident of my capabilities, inquisitive about the world around me, and most importantly, I dare to dream. I realize that swimming did turn me into the Ariel I once dreamed of becoming—just not in the way I thought it would.
Dorsía Smith Silva | In the Wake of Black Lives Matter | Poetry For a week I don’t turn on the television, afraid to see another black body being broken like the dangling tread of a car sprinting across a herringbone pattern. I fear that some think these bodies were meant to be hurt, twisted and spun like barbed wool into a comma of rivulets, And as we come undone, seeing their points sharp and shaved, waiting for them to peel our layers strip by strip, the human heart hisses. The moment cannot fold over, slip into another world, or be wiped off like sweat. It’s too hot to the touch, too binding to the pores, rocking the body with wounds saying occupied. I pause, not knowing how to pass this spillage to its rightful owner, for the duration.
Enzo Scavone | Fu Dinxiang | Fiction Fu Dinxiang stands on the Brooklyn-bound platform of the N, Q, R-train at the Canal Street station. A slender boy with buzzed, black hair and a pallid face. His dark eyes begin a nonchalant expression which his forehead, mouth and cheeks have trouble completing. A breeze rising out of the tunnel flattens his wide, worn out t-shirt to his skinny upper body. It blows into the sides of his open sweater jacket. His baggy jeans are stained, barely hanging on to his slim waist. His sneakers cry for replacement, but Fu doesn’t hear. The train is coming. As the doors open he gets in and sits down on the hard, blue plastic bench. The air in the car is cold and he zips his sweater jacket. The train’s engine is completely quiet for a brief moment. Then, a loud buzzing sound, the door signal, and the doors close. Fu looks forward to the train passing over the bridge and being able to see the tall skyscrapers through the windows. Soon after that, however, the train will pull into Atlantic-Barclays. He tries to stay ahead of this thought. The conceptual laziness of the Atlantic Barclays subway station. Easy-to-clean tiles and dirt and ever-moving throngs of people. Fu remembers when he used to come here with his grandfather; every weekend and often on weekday nights, too. On a laundry cart his grandfather would carry an electric keyboard that he had bought in a second hand store in Chinatown. They would go to the lower level, the platform where the D, N, and R-train stop and his grandfather would set it up. Fu would watch him and the strangers passing by. If Fu carried any toys, he would now stick them in his pockets or his backpack to have his hands free. After his grandfather had set down a cardboard box in front of the keyboard and put a couple of bills and coins in it, Fu would sit down at the keyboard and play. His grandfather would stand a little apart with his hands clasped behind his back and try to gauge the faces of the passersby at the sight of his six-year-old grandson playing the keyboard like one of those classical European masters. Since he had been a small child, Fu had been trained to play pieces on the keyboard. His grandfather would set it up in the living room, next to the blaring TV, and switch it on. He would press a couple of buttons and then little red dots would light up on the keys in a flickering and confusing pattern. His grandfather would tell Fu to try to catch the dots with his fingers. Fu would see the blinking dots on the keys and try to catch them. When he pushed a key, a sound would come out. The first time this happened, Fu startled a little in surprise. He would push another key and a different sound would come out. First he wasn’t so good at catching the red dots, but as he got better he realized that by catching the dots with the right finger, in the right order, and at the right speed he would play a melody. Just like the ones his grandfather would play for him on cassettes. His grandparents made him sit at the keyboard for the most part of a day telling him that if he improved, they could go out together to play in the streets and people would give them money. Fu remembers the many endless afternoons in their apartment on Henry Street. While he practiced, his grandfather would watch TV next to him getting worked up about something on the screen. Hours would pass until Fu could stop playing. When he was done he felt very
exhausted and relieved. After practice he liked to look out the window onto the life outside-like he’s looking out the train now. But through this window he only sees the darkness of the tunnel. Opaque and impenetrable. He’s getting a headache and perspiration is accumulating under his sweater. He feels a little sick and terribly tense. He doesn’t want to look out the window anymore. Nothing is happening and he gets angry at the thought that it’s taking him forever to get to Brighton Beach. He checks the display showing the stops and before realizing how many stops there still are, he turns his gaze back to the window, quiet and serious. He feels contempt for the conductors of the train and holds them responsible for its slow movement. He feels trapped in a loop, like having to repeat something over and over again many, many times. The years passed and Fu went out into the stations with his grandfather, until one day his grandfather didn’t take him anymore. Fu didn’t ask why. He was happy about not having to do it anymore. He had been fifteen then. Soon afterwards, Fu took a job in a warehouse in Chinatown and stayed mostly to himself--even when he didn’t work. As he grew, he found out that most things in life can be done the same way he had when he had pushed the keys on the keyboard. You simply go through the motions. You repeat and repeat until your hands do the task by themselves and your head doesn’t bother with it anymore. When your head stops thinking and your hands are on their own, you feel the rest of your body more. When his hands went off like that Fu felt like he was really hungry, really had to go to the bathroom, and really wanted to kiss a girl--all at the same time. Something deep within his body complained. And with every repetition of the task his hands were performing it complained more. Fu met Yevgeniy at work. Yevgeniy (Zhenya for short) is a delivery guy. He lives in Brighton Beach and delivers goods to the warehouse where Fu works. After Zhenya’s truck was unloaded, he and Fu would sit outside on the sidewalk on crates or whatever they could find and smoke a cigarette--talk about this and that. Zhenya quickly picked up that Fu felt strange most of the time and wanted to help Fu, he said. One Friday, Fu went to his place in Brighton Beach. After some beers Zhenya convinced him to snort dope with him. Fu had sniffed tobacco before. He had enjoyed that quite a bit. At first it seemed weird to sniff the floury white powder, but why not? Fu quickly realized that dope was nothing like tobacco. After he had snorted it and the tingling in his sinuses had vanished, he could feel the complaints of his body vanishing along with it. He felt like his arms were finally calm and belonged to him. His body was quiet; all parts at once. Fu felt like he could finally look out onto the life outside. It was wonderful. He stayed at Zhenya’s that weekend snorting dope in regular intervals. He returned to work on Monday. There he put his hands back to work once more, but all his head could think of was the coming Friday when he would go over to Zhenya’s again. Every Friday he went. And every Friday his body would stop complaining. Just like it will soon today.
Sydney Dudley | Perennial | Poetry We lay under the moon in your father’s garden. You drink from my flowering bud, a keen butterfly with forget-me-not eyes nestled deep within me. My bare back arches, but I keep my mouth shut. You’ve told me before that if your father were to see us like this, between the lavender and the hyacinths, he’d surely shoot me dead. I know that in his anger, he’d lead you Inside and leave my body to rot in the fading sunshine. All the nectar in my cells would leak, and bacteria would feast like honey bees. Gases would bubble under my amber skin until it split. The flowers surrounding me would turn black for a year and by the time everything grew back your father would have talked you out of your disgusting phase. But you assure me that that will never happen, that I am not a phase. That I am a perennial and that you will make me bloom over and over again, summer and summer again. That you will protect me from pests and that overbearing sun. And that one day you will press me in the pages of your heart and keep me there forever.
Sy Roth | Fear after Fear after Fear | Poetry Behind that black door find it, Old Man. You know you can quantify it as So many cells in mitosis — In the beginning — in-utero anxieties surrounded by an uncaring mash of anguishes. you bathed in their fateful juices. In the beginning her protuberance, when she waddled despondent, through her own sorrows, passed them on to you until you were flushed. In the beginning, creeping to the black door, we waded in her nomadic despondency destined to live among the other vagrants who ambled indolently through their own muck, slogged through the make-believe, murky morass yearning to leave the swamp. In the beginning — played the role of displaced souls — for a while, bereft whisperers of your own fears trapped by fishermen whose grappling hooks ripped you from the waters pulled aboard where you flip-flopped and gasp gulpingly for air. Later — the hungry apes wired you to their fears, prepared nooses for a dying future swathed you left in your own cages —
Sy Roth | Fear after Fear after Fear (Continued)
Colossal trepidations of an anxious age where shadows inhale and exhale in mechanical, platonic chicanery listening to sounds captured by Dumbo-ears grafted on the backs of adjudicators, grapple with dissembling scientists who charge the air with news of catastrophes, and lead the fifth estate, purveyors of truth, who swagger with the encumbrances of doom belched to frightened masses who like Lot’s wife exist as frozen pillars of salt, saltlicks for cows to run rough tongues against in search of succor from their travails as fears gather interest in bank vaults mountains of anguish. In the end — fear after fear after fear dance in long, endless halls — where the wounded cower and the bishops of truth hold court to nourish the swaddled babes who cry out in fear. You stand waiting, rapt.
Robert Sundheimer | Untitled | Photograph 19
KG Newman | What We’re Hoping For | Poetry It’s been a while since Stapleton’s last plane climbed into the sky, around the time I was born to begin my trip to you and then away again. As I drive its neighborhoods now, my appreciation of the nation’s largest infill project comes into perspective — runways transformed into sidewalks wide enough to walk alone, arms outstretched; grassy medians, bike lanes delivering you to any supermarket you want. This is the pinnacle of new urbanism, 4,700 landlocked city acres gifted when broken emotions get outsourced to eastern plains: All the heartbroken lovers flying out of D.I.A. so that happy families can fill Stapleton’s parks and narrow streets, its roundabouts, its greenways, the blank space left behind from terminal hugs over the seven decades before water started to flow next to the path, and adjacent to the coffee shop.
Elizabeth Dickinson | Follow the Dharma Bum | Poetry Stasis is more dangerous than you. Like bacteria placed on a drop of blood in a petri dish. The past will be your name if never sanded from stone. Board a plane. Fear an unknown that is tangible, that fills a belly emptied by the crackle of misfired neurons. Play charades, sign language ushering toward the north wind. Leave the ghost of a frantic wave in the ward, the transparent skin. Passages lull a lingering chill. Shit yourself on a bus. Humiliation that screams from the stomach, not the gut. Let them watch tears run in streaks, clear as the view from morning. Listen to the girls who mock crowâ€™s feet in their infant hour, strands of silver, streaking with a flush sun. Pluck one and admire, silver is the eloquence of time. Follow the Dharma Bum on a path guided by moonlight, by fingers tracing constellations bearing the zag of sewn closure, turning over soil that smells like mom, leaving the print of a boot, a quiet pattern to Bodhi.
James Croal Jackson | Grandma, Half-Underwater | Poetry Late in life she lived as a lagoon’s only human among monsters she half-recognized. To visit was a kind of drowning– submerged in nursing home fluorescents of nursing half-breathing, I asked Mom who am I talking to? Her eyes asked the same. I guess all of us, none of us glad we came, we had to, wanted to, really, despite grandma’s face cloudwhite, going there knowing her soon to swim the wispy ocean of afterlife– that, at least, we wanted to believe, to see her again the way she would want to be seen not now like this
Matt Gillick | Chester Bennington | Prose These rhythms are not my own. They could only be his. I don’t know if it’s fighting for my right to say I’m fine but I’ve learned to wring hands and cry onstage for blind and quiet pianos. They care nothing for who plays and don’t ask who hammers away at the sticky keys, and neither did Chester. He rasped/gasps over my imitative G-chord in wailing calls to the oceans inside. The trenches were never too deep for his radar to guide. Guiding me along a dipping hill in the rain with the road gone and the water on water on water piling still waves, sparking the dashboard. Then I’d wake up. Driving down the Merritt, a winding strip where speed limits are smirking guidelines, a jerk of the steering wheel and I’m gone. Tired of the clear-headed weight, staying in the room—my chips, my casino sobriety—stones to carry. I lied that this was another long trip from New Haven, making the Hi-Ho roadside motel my cry room. Tired of doing what was expected of me, a snake at the meeting, lost and retreating. That voice in the 3:00 am said he’ll never be alright, taking me back to 7th grade, scratching my hands till they bled. The front desk reserves that room. Buzzing phones and messages lost, post-it notes on peeling orange soda walls—Do Not Disturb. Dim, incandescent lantern light hanging above my head, a dangling bulb without decorative cover. It interrogates compliments, anger and the beyond power whispering ‘why are you so alone’ while you sit—alone— at the edge of the bed. I had to quit. Walking out of that sinking, two-story, black paneled dress-torn Duchess nine-to-five that employed the lethal injection of You Can Never Leave, I made the shredder my exit music. My contract gone, my tie gone, my health insurance card gone. The Hi-Ho called about my reservation and I didn’t need to answer. I’ve come around despite what people were asking of me, taking these pills, getting lost in the surface, filling in hollow way past bus stop truth. But, I had to bump onto the ramp and pull over to cry like a born again baptism off Exit 34 when the announcement came on the radio—July 20th, 2017.
BT Hathaway | WALL-E revisited | Poetry three women, sixties each clutching an iced coffee concoction outside the dunkin’ donuts downtown talking, laughing, normal, except maybe for the motorized chairs each sat upon and maybe their equality of size— above 300 pounds each and the sensation in my drive-by glance of seeing the WALL-E movie come completely to life here clatched the baby-people of that star ship, except on a familiar street, my lunch destination a few blocks away, and a darkened narrative plays in the back of my mind, what would a trumpster see in a moment like this, certainly not friends out for a lark on a balmy sun-lit day, rather welfare run amuck as bodies over-fold the arm rests, and knees fail in their carriage of these over-sugared torsos, and critics might have a point if old mill towns had access to vibrant economies sufficient to sustain real food vendors and grocers on these streets at reasonable rates,
but instead, we see storefronts empty even at the height of “recovery” — and a single lunch, even in this poor town will often cost three times twenty
Stephanie Jones | Untitled | Custom Clothing 25
Christopher Overfelt | Discord in the Garden of Eden | Fiction In the crotch of a split cottonwood tree, ensconced among leaves garnished with white blossoms, Carla sits with her eyes closed. Whether she is asleep or dead is hard to tell but she has one leg crossed over the other and her long black hair, streaked with luxurious silver, curves around the back of her neck and shoulder and rests on her bosom. On her head is a wreath of red clover crowned with purple flowers, one of which has a bumblebee combing through its sepals. With black hairy arms and legs, the bumblebee peels back the feathery sepals, extending its tongue to find the sweet nectar. You are so beautiful drones the bee into Carla’s ear with its delicate wings. Carla waves her hand but the bumblebee easily avoids the waft of air and returns to its perch beside her ear. Why are you here in the woods with no one to see your beauty? the bee drones on. Beauty is a curse, scoffs Carla, still with her eyes closed. I would peel the skin from my face if I could. Unfolding its finely veined wings, the bumblebee picks up and then sets down again on another flower. What is in your lap? it asks. Beneath Carla’s long fingers, nestled in the folds of her light cotton dress rests a gun. My first boyfriend got me pregnant, says Carla, caressing the supple shape of the pistol in her hand. Then he made me get an abortion. My first husband was the laziest man on earth and I spent twenty years of my life slaving for him and my children. I divorced his ass and married my first boyfriend, the one who got me pregnant, only to find out he was bipolar. After so many beatings I left him and he shot my dog and buried it in the backyard and then shot himself with this gun. Now I’m going to shoot the next man who comes down this path. With that, the bumblebee lifts off and flies down the narrow dirt path through the woods. At its end, the path opens up into a wide cultivated field. The bare finely tilled dirt brings forth long rows of viney cucumber plants and the bumblebee busies itself sipping the nectar from the yellow blooms along their tendrils. In the middle of the field, a man stands leaning on the handle of a hoe. He admires the neat, even rows that bring order to the chaos of nature; the green leafy vines that bear the fruit of his sweat and labor.
Leaning down, he plucks a fat cucumber from a cluster that lies green and luscious on the vine. In his hand, the cucumber is long and thick and when he bites into it, the experience is euphoric; like a mild rain on a dry land, sweet and juicy. Flying up to the manâ€™s ear, the bumblebee makes a heavy drone that intrudes on the manâ€™s smacking lips. There is a woman on the path in the woods, says the bee. She will kill you if you go near her. Taking off his hat, the man wipes his forehead with the back of his arm and then he swats the bee into the dirt where it buzzes a few times and then expires. Throwing the hoe up onto his shoulder, he walks across the field, stepping carefully over each row until he reaches the path in the woods. When Carla hears the man whistling down the path, she opens her eyes and raises the revolver and then shoots him in the chest. Dropping the gun, Carla steps over his body as it gurgles a few bloody breaths and expires and the she walks to the end of the path. In the wide field, she finds the longest, thickest cucumber and bites off its head. As she chews, the faces of men pass before her one by one; the faces of men whose love she sought but whose brokenness could only provide a twisted love. Twisted like the faces before her that turned her own love into a bitter medicine. But in her mouth, the cucumber is the sweetest and juiciest she has ever tasted.
Clara B. Jones | M; Margo: Pennine Hillsongs (The Haunted Mask II) | Chapbook Review M; Margo [Margo Emm] and I are acquaintances. They are the Editor of Zoomoozophone Review, an online journal of innovative poetry in which I have published several times. In my opinion, they are among the best avant garde poets of their generation—fearless and difficult to pigeon-hole. Reviewing their two previous books, I have labeled Margo a poet of “angst,” often focusing on disturbing personal themes to the exclusion of social or political ones. In Pennine Hillsongs, the poet continues to write about interior experiences; however, this collection delivers so much more. To my knowledge, it is the first volume dedicated exclusively to “gender dysphoria”—discomfort or distress caused by incongruence between a person’s sex assigned at birth and their gender identity. The author, Managing Editor of Gold Wake Live and Publicity Director for Gold Wake Press, describes themselves as “a person who writes and resides in Cleveland, Ohio.” Pennine Hillsongs, a title in Ghost City Press’ 2018 Summer Series, is heavily coded, and the puzzles begin on the cover page. The Pennine Hills are a range of mountains in England, and an online search yielded more than one musical group referring to these formations. The image on the title page, however, makes it clear that M; Margo intends to refer to The Pennines, a band comprised of four young men who, based on YouTube recordings, sing somewhat monotonal, mostly, instrumental, songs. The four individuals on the cover of Pennine Hillsongs presumably depict the band’s members—their faces covered by masks, distortions of human faces. The book’s parenthetical subtitle refers to a fictional children’s horror book, The Haunted Mask II, whose main character is a meek little girl who purchases a Halloween mask that will not come off. M; Margo, thus, introduces the reader to their conflicted, uncomfortable, and, possibly, scary world. The first poem, “song for xan,” refers to a character in a role-playing game who, according to information available online, has a “broken” mind, causing them to be institutionalized. Barring the poem’s title, the page contains no words, only a depiction of concentric semi-circles appearing throughout the volume and unifying, even, stabilizing, the book from page to page. These semi-circles seem to represent the author’s broken, or, incomplete, Self, preparing the reader for what will come. All of the poems in Pennine Hillsongs are hybrid, combining art and text, and the second poem, “the mirror,” continues our introduction to their dysphoria, depicting a distorted ghost with the sentence, “this is what my ghost will look like,” placed beneath the figure in semi-circular design. The ghost provides a stark image of what their disorder may feel like—including, disruption, sadness, vulnerability, exhaustion, and defeat. Repetition of words and phrases, a hallmark of this collection, is characteristic of other avant garde poets, most notably, Gertrude Stein. Readers of traditional poetry may ask whether M; Margo’s pieces are poetry at all. However, the works contain many conventional elements, in addition to, visual and pictorial images and appropriation of words of songs. Among the conventional characteristics are strong narrative statements. In “no dispute,” for example, they
provide a brief manifesto with the words: “there can be no dispute that trans women are women//gender is a construct//that sex is also a construct//that i can wear makeup and a beard//....” Like many other poems written by LGBTQ artists, this one is utopian, envisioning a non-binary world. M; Margo continues their narrative of “gender dysphoria” in the poem, “song for selphie,” depicting distorted clowns and other disfigured images relieved, however, by their play on words (“selphie”/selfie). Additional cases of humor provided throughout the collection (e.g., “high coo,” “no more pennines”) demonstrate that they are capable of seeing beyond their present suffering, a perspective that may be comforting to others—whatever their present pain. The final poem in this collection “song for flash,” is lyrical, communicating the author’s capacity for healing and their wish for intimacy, repeating, “i love you i miss you”—again and again as semi-circles. Ultimately, transgender or not, anyone can identify with M; Margo’s journey from a very dark place to a hopeful one. They have created another noteworthy book of innovative poetry that readers of avant garde literature will appreciate and enjoy. I eagerly await their future works.
M; Margo, author of Pennine Hillsongs (The Haunted Mask II)
Pennine Hillsongs (The Haunted Mask II) by M; Margo is available as a free PDF or with donation. from Ghost City Press: https://ghostcitypress. com/2018-summer-microchap-series/penninehillsongs-the-haunted-mask-ii
Dorsía Smith Silva | Cosmos | Poetry My son asks me what happened to his baby brother. What baby brother? The one in your belly, Mama. Why he’s gone to the air, I say, like a ball of cells radiating by motion. It’s that simple. Why can’t I see him? He’s circling the orbit and gliding past the moon’s bright light, smiling. Like a child, you wonder, “Why doesn’t he ask for me?” How eager you are to know him, watch him become born in another galaxy. Oh, you see, he’s waiting for us in the field of stars: to show us the beauty clearly seem against a dark sky.
Sy Roth | The Three Fates | Poetry
Clotho sits intent, open-legged at her spinning wheel long strands of yarn appearing to merge with its nascent, nearby colors forming patterns, vague and nebulous. The patterns rest imperiously in her mind A picture of a nemesis marked like a red Kumkum set between the brows-Non compos mentis relegated to the ashheap, an historical tic, another mono-ocular giant who will fall like Goliath and the earth will tremble with jubilation.
Lachesis looked askance at the face that appeared in the loom. She knew, She recognized hubris when she saw it And in that self-confident face, assurance was not to take a back seat. Prideful, puffy lipped il Duces of the past Ephemeroptera that took center stage All died with the setting sun. Lachesis let them swagger above the masses Who cheered them on as laugh track machines cackled. The maddening multitude gawped at his every pompous shudder Marveled at the arms akimbo above his blousy pants Until he found himself inverted His lover, a pale mistress, swinging beside him. And their bodies swayed to their gaseous exhalations. Epistolary historical reminders.
Atropos, the ashen hag, would not alter the movie. The ending was ordained. Goya dressed her in mourning rags
Sy Roth | The Three Fates (Continued)
Silken shattered garb woven at the wheel stirred by the winds of time they sang a hotchpotch of pronouncements. Do the nocturnal deeds, she sang, Reminders of the fates of men Whose long dreams of uttered permanence find instead a cairn of impermanence. She leaves behind Only a gobbledygook of time-tumbled recollections. No peons to the huddled masses Just so many interminable graves, Temporary shelter to having once been.
Robert Sundheimer | Untitled | Photography 33
Sophia Glastein | The Most Wonderful Birthday | NonFiction Before you read, just know I wasn’t trying to look like the victim here. I only knew my side of the story, my thoughts, my point of view. That doesn’t mean others’ sides weren’t important. “I don’t think I can look at you the same way after what you have done,” that’s what she said - my best friend, Paige - speaking her mind. Something she often failed to do. * It was 12:05 am on my birthday. I stayed up late hoping people would congratulate me. Instead, I got a text from my now ex-boyfriend, Asher. “Did you cheat on me?” My body went entirely numb, like when your foot falls asleep in the car. My heart felt like it was being pushed into my ribs, I started shaking like I was cold, but I was sweating. My initial response to his question was “no.” I had lied to Paige (by omission) too; she already knew I cheated on Asher but didn’t confront me because she didn’t want me to lie. Lying had made me a monster already. This wouldn’t help. So I answered a second time, truthfully. What followed was exactly what you’d expect from a guy who’s just been cheated on: “Fuck you. You can go to hell. Bitch.” People have said honesty is the best policy; there’s no way around that. I started to think hiding something from someone makes it easier for them, but it always comes out and when it does, it’s so much worse. I thought my truth of cheating on Asher would die out. I had planned on ending it with him so nothing was ever brought up, but it didn’t turn out that way. You can imagine what other people started saying about me - not that they were wrong. Most of my friends simply said things like: “you and Asher can go screw each other over and I’ll laugh from the sidelines.” Others came to the immediate conclusion that I was trying to make enemies. Of course, I never intended to hurt anyone, but that was a bullshit thing to say. I very well knew when I cheated on him, somewhere deep inside the vault in my mind, that I would hurt him, even though I was over him by then. I’m sorry I let myself believe what I did was okay or that it wouldn’t matter. Two days later, Paige had finally decided to share her thoughts with me. I hadn’t really talked to her since the news got out. She kind of avoided me, even when I did try to talk to her.
“We need to talk.” Just from that I knew this was going to be brutal. Paige never wanted to talk. “I feel like I have to choose a side and I can’t and I don’t know what to do and that sucks.” “Okay.” That was the only response I could form. “I understand you can’t undo anything but to be honest, I don’t think that I can look at you the same way after what you did. And I know you weren’t the only one at fault,” she said. “I’m sorry if anything I said hurt you.” I’ve gotten really good at hiding my emotions and replacing them with super optimistic and bubbly ones. My friends liked it when I’m happy, it kept them happy. I remembered a while ago when Paige came to me for the first time after a fight with her mom. She was so upset and at the time, I had never seen her like this. I thought it was my job to make her happy again, so I used all that bubbliness and optimism to cheer her up. It made me happy to make her happy. Sometimes, though, I just wanted to feel sad. All this because I hooked up with Emily, who called Paige a bitch to her face since she claimed Paige was responsible for our friend’s suicidal thoughts. * Three months later Paige told me she overreacted. She, for some wild reason, thought everything I did was to get at her. I don’t know why I would’ve ever had any reason to get at her or what it would’ve been for. I love Paige more than life itself. She has always been really smart when it comes to knowing when to say the right things (even if she never sees it). Unlike me, she isn’t super impulsive. She’s already gotten better about talking to me about random stuff and she’s started to be there for me. It was amazing that such a low and unfortunate moment in could have had such a lasting impact as completely rebooting a friendship.
Dmitry Martirosov | Redsborough | Fiction Once when Ida was a small girl of about nine or eight she ran into the woods behind which stood her grandparent’s house. Her grandmother, a short, square woman who was in better health than her husband, was away taking care of some business concerning the house. Ida bolted through the door and away from her grandfather’s sight and, through the trees she ran up a hill where a giant log lay on the ground and there she sat until darkness came. When her grandmother had returned from her affairs, she found her husband asleep on his chair in the living area. With a jerk she awakened the old man and promptly asked of Ida’s whereabouts. The old man, frazzled by the harassment of his wife, supposed she must be upstairs. As she left the sight of the old man and stormed toward the stairs, something inside the old woman stirred and she knew that she would not find her granddaughter there. There on the hill on top of the log the little girl sat and went through her thoughts. It was late summer on that evening. The skies were clear and one could see the stars without difficulty. Ida had never before attempted to run from home and was quite calm in undertaking such task for a girl of her age. Quietly she sat and looked about the small houses that stood on the distant hills that surrounded the little plot of land her grandparents owned. The little girl knew that one day she would have to face the world and the thoughts that ran in her mind were not the thoughts of a little girl but those of a woman achieving maturity. By nightfall the whole town was out looking for Ida with flashlights and dogs as if looking for an escaped offender, until at midnight she had finally decided to return home. When she returned her grandmother embraced her and, with tears in her eyes held the little girl by the shoulders and asked her why she did such a thing. When Ida had not replied the old woman repeated the question until her husband said that that was enough. For the next few years Ida lived with her grandparents until at the age of sixteen she left and went out into the world in pursuit of her own independence. She eventually made her way into a fairly small town of about nine-hundred people in Georgia named Redsborough. In Redsborough Ida held several different jobs in order to support herself and stories of people who since had died and passed on to other people state that she may or may not used her body for service in exchange for food and lodging. One man in particular, Larry Schneider, a man of small stature with a fat drooping mustache who was the son of Edward Schneider of Schneider Dairy Farms, seemed to be enthralled by such stories. Eagerly he walked about town and spoke of it with such feeling as if he saw it happen right in front of his eyes. “Did ya fellers hear of the girl named Ida?” he’d start. “Oh I tell ya for once listen to what I’ve gotta say to you. Ya gotta go an’ see her. The girl is out here in town doin’ favors. I seen Butch and the ol’ man said he saw her sittin’ in the night under a street lamp near Cresson Street. He said he gave her a plate o’ food he had sittin’ in his cooler and she did real good for it.” On and on went the little man until his father, a respected member of the community, berated him for his childlike behavior and demanded he cease at once such poor conduct.
On the night Jonathan Oaks had gone drinking with the men, young Ida had decided to take a walk
through the streets of Redsborough. Under the clear evening skies she walked along the sidewalk of Chestley Street past Emma Daniels’s Sewing Shop where two women stood outside and talked rapidly of collars. To her left beneath a small awning she saw the regulars of J.D. Fredericks’s saloon standing and smoking and when they noticed her, with a quick snap of the neck, she turned away. For a year Ida had dreamt of leaving the small town but couldn’t find herself doing so. Something inside of her made her stay. Something that was crude and simple and beyond her control. Some of the people of the town knew her by name but of her past they knew nothing, and soon they began to make stories of the eighteen year old. The men, who frequented the bars of the small town, talked of the teenager and said she was a drifting prostitute who came into Redsborough to make money and leave. The women, who were kinder and softer than the men, said she must’ve been a waif who came into town in search of new parents. Nobody really knew why the young girl had come to Redsborough, not even Ida herself. All she knew was she was there now and she had to make something out of it, and that beyond the love, beyond everything else, she was not a thing to be meddled with and was not looking for pity.
In Redsborough there were many men who had wives and the wives stayed home and took care of the children. Of those men there were plenty of which did not like their wives and the homely lives they had built for them. On some nights after the hard work had been completed instead of coming home to their wives and children they were out drinking in Levinson’s taproom around the corner from the town’s only church. There they talked of misery and of youth and gossiped about the goings-on of Redsborough. On one such night in late summer one of the men, young Jonathan Oaks, was sitting at the far end of the bar and drinking with the rest of the men who were shouting and laughing at each other. Jonathan’s wife, Stephanie, had just given birth to their first newborn, a baby girl they named Elsa and, unlike the rest of the men, Jonathan was fond of his wife. This, however, may be given to the fact that they were themselves only newlyweds. To celebrate the birth of his newborn a few of the men had decided to take Jonathan to the lower part of town where the streets were filled with the most dazzling females of Redsborough. After several rounds of drinks the men did not behave as married men but as animals being loose in the wild. Jonathan, whose eyes now became bloodshot, was having some trouble in keeping with the rest of the men and began to feel his body giving way to gravity until when an hour or so had passed he found himself alone and sitting on the curb with his head between his knees. While still feeling quite dizzy and his head going about in circles Jonathan arose back to his feet and across from him at the other side of the street he saw something. He wiped his eyes with his hands and stared ahead squinting. He saw a woman sitting alone on top of a wooden box underneath a street lamp. All but the woman’s slim shoulders and a mass of black curly hair was indiscernible. With his mind not quite where it was before the drinking began Jonathan Oaks started advancing toward the woman. 37
Richard Salembier | ESP | Poetry People call me nothing all the time. Have for years. Too many names so don’t know what to call you There’s considerable discomfort with the name Dick, despite it being a name, not an appendage. Or then there’s the just plain awkward — we see each other every day we were introduced years ago so I would rather not admit that I can’t remember your name so I’ll refer to you as “you” or to get your attention, you will be “hey” or better yet I’ll call you nothing you OK with that you said telepathically — and being the mind reader that I am I said no.
John Grey | Hot Tub Religion | Poetry What care we for weather? Chilly air, be damned. We have a hot tub. The temperature can moan all it likes. I sink into steam, more comfortable than a bear in a hammock. You follow. Only the wine glass to hold up like Liberty’s torch fails to accede to hot water’s temptation. The trees can only look on in dismay. They’d be green with jealousy if the seasons hadn’t stripped them of their foliage. Oaks and maples shiver. Our body heat is continually reinforced. We have summer trapped below the bubbles. Our back deck is centered by nirvana. Release and revelation, even rebirth’s not a stretch.
BT Hathaway | the poodle i have become | Poetry computers seemed so promising once
jumping through hoops, the circus kind
no more white-out or retyping whole
which sums up the technology of today
sections of a term paper due to a missed sentence
no longer in control, we “users” are rather tethered
on page three, then page layout, full wysiwyg
to whims and distant entertainment desires of oligarchs
and macros and the individual felt ever more
slaves we, of a kaleidoscopic mesmerism born of silicon
in control of her time and energy, a sense
addiction, happy us, so much free entertainment
of freedom from the slavery of human foibles
until we wake from the blind reveries to find
at the typewriter or ledger book — no more
our lack of watchfulness and self-determination
worries about penmanship or calculator mistakes, but now?
and collective spirit, has allowed freedom to become a mirage
this morning while pouring coffee, my
to become an empty vastness, a world-wide
watch tapped me on the wrist to announce
circus maximus where a privileged few cheer
five more triple ring successes this month
endless battles of man on man on woman on child
and i have “won” a challenge — my watch
this watch on my arm no longer a tool or release,
goading at me some mindless sense of success
rather a shackle for selfimposed slavery
and in that instant poodles came to mind
with collapse of true freedom, now complete
Giada Cattaneo | Untitled | xxx 41
Donald Zagardo | Marvin’s Magical Shop | Fiction “Welcome to Marvin’s Magical Shop; how may I help you?” That’s the generic greeting given to everyone who visits my lovely little shop, one of the last of its kind remaining in The Big Apple. “Yes Rodger,” I repeat, “it’s a real magic hat. Not a Rabbit Hat, but a Dove Hat.” I have specialized in tricks, slights of hand and real magic since my teenage years and was once the star of many-a-Catskill-Mountain-Resort magic show. I now work in my own neighborhood shop. Magic keeps me alive, but Rodger drives me nuts. “No Rodger,” I insist, “There are no doves in the hat. That’s not how a Dove Hat works. The magician generates birds from thin air,” I tell him. “Yes, thin air,” he laughs, “or from a pocket in his magical suit.” Doves are ethereal creatures. They are all around us, everywhere, but not for Rodger. It is the gifted magician who can summon birds from thin air. I was that kind of magician once upon a time, but will not further infuriate Rodger, or you, with my illustrious history. Every time Rodger comes into my shop we argue, sometimes for hours. He is not really a bad guy. I like Rodger, but he’s no Houdini and blames my tricks for his lack of skill. He’s not even a Marvin, but not really a bad guy. “Let’s try the hat Rodger,” I suggest. “You can see a button just under the band. Give it a light push. There, notice the trap door at the bottom of the hat? No, there are no doves in the hat. That’s where they end up. Of course, it works.” Here we go again. “I’ll show you, but first you give it a try.” “Concentrate! Birds from thin air or from a hidden pocket in your magical jacket. One or the other. Be very still, say the magical words: Abracadabra, Sis-boom-ba! Rodger, is that bird dead? You have two dead birds in your hand. How long have they been in that pocket?” Roger grumbles and laughs a little, then says to Marvin, “The birds were alive this morning. I don’t know what happened to them.” Rodger winks and smiles, then queries, “How about sawing a woman in half, old man?” The look on Marvin’s face. Rodger thinks of Marvin as a friend. He knows that he is old fashioned. He believes in real magic. Doves from thin air, levitation; Marvin’s a freakin’ antique. “Maybe the Dove Hat is defective,” Rodger yelps. “Show me how it
works Marvin,” but Marvin’s not wearing a magical jacket. He’s wearing a tee shirt. “OK old man - show me.” The hat looks good on Marvin, like he was born for it. Then he says the magic words: “Abracadabra, Sis-boom-ba!” Not one, but three full grown doves fly from his hat. Three fat white birds. Marvin looks happy. But how the heck did he do that? Not one, but three…no there’s another and another: five flappin’ doves. One shits on his shoulder another on my shoe. The shop is suddenly filled with bird song, fluttering breezes and shit. “OK, OK, I’ll take the hat!” This happens every time I walk into Marvin’s shop. He talks me into buying all his second-rate tricks. He’s either a good salesman or a great magician. Rodger slips Marvin nine dollars and some change. Marvin says “alright kid,” then Rodger on the way out the door half-shouts to his old friend, “See you next week, you old fart, and Jesus H. Christ, will you clean that freaking birdshit off the floor!” “Rodger is exhausting,” Marvin mumbles out loud as he opens the front door to his shop and shoos five fat doves out the door. They obey his beckon. Together they fly east, then disappear into grey city skies. Marvin smiles and mumbles once again, “Rodger is exhausting.”
Sydney Dudley | Past Life | Poetry To the woman I once was: Who lived years and years before I became me, before people even knew they could cross the sea. Who stood barefoot in the forest to escape judging eyes. Who Death left all alone, who maybe didn’t know why. To the woman I once was: Who laid with a man because she was lonely, a man who was curious and that only. Who cared too much of what those judging eyes thought. Who wanted worship but received it naught. To the woman I once was: Who was left by that man, but not left alone. Who raised her girl to fully grown. Who now had someone to escape those judging eyes with, and together stood tall against them like a monolith. To the woman I once was: Who Death returned to, an old friend with a gentle embrace. Who left her daughter for a new face. Who was born a new person and lived a new life, but this new life was not yet mine. To the woman I once was: We are different branches of one tall tree, and I see you now, I see you in me. In the way I can feel everyone’s eyes, and how I feel lonely in ways I despise. You are the woman I once was, and I know that ‘thank you’ is not nearly enough.
David Sermersheim | Four Blokes and a Bottle | Poetry four blokes and a bottle crouched in the cubistic shadows of gutted out-buildings the sliver sliver cutting a slice out of dry autumn leaves four cubes rolling in my hand shaken and thrown down in the oil-stained alley in back of an abandoned garage bad luck comin’ down hard chance rules the hour clicked through incremental slots and time is running out of patience with losers always a day late and a dollar short you’re cash is running on empty luck has taken an exit but you can’t leave until they’ve picked your pockets down through the holes in your greasy jeans riding up the crack of your ass you shake and throw again and know you’re not gonna catch a break in this game withering in the the steamy vapors of an endless night with no place to go but back to another game that has no beginning or end
Mark Young | Twofer | Poetry Breakfast of squeezed lemon juice & honey, soluble aspirin, coffee. Solid food tastes like paper. Mid-winter flu; though mid-winter temperatures here are still around 70 degrees F. & raining, so it doesnâ€™t get much colder at night. The rain has brought down most of the purple/pink flowers from the tree outside, covering the lawn, the road, turning the car into what looks like a Hindu bridal cart. When I cough, stars explode in my head, come falling down, just like the flowers. I am feeling sorry for myself, am feeling my age. I think Iâ€™ll go back to bed, drift in & out of sleep, try & read in the lucid moments. I ache. * Codeine sweats. Worse than the pain it takes the edge off. Should have known better. But. Old memories, times without, using whatever it took to get you through the strung-out spaces in-between. Days of. Nights of. Rubber soul. Revolver.
Jeffrey Zable | The Spiritualist | Poetry I have this friend who reads a lot of books on spirituality and watches videos of so called experts who teach how to live spiritually. And in a letter that he just sent me, he informed me that we don’t actually die because we’re all a part of a collective consciousness. He went on to explain that after our body completely shuts down, our consciousness is passed on to others and lives on in some form within others’ consciousness, and that this cycle—this transformation— goes on and on from one generation to the next, so there is really no need to fear death since each of us will live on indefinitely. And without question, he told me this because I mentioned to him that I’ve been thinking about death lately, fearing it, and wondering if my own struggle has been worth it, given that I’ve come to so little understanding, and am just going to die in the end. And then he went on to say that we’re all a part of an evolutionary process in which others will keep refining our consciousness until we reach perfection, which reminded me that I’ve made the same mistake on other occasions with regard to confiding my feelings to him, and have usually wound up feeling worse in the process...
Roo Bardookie | Art From Mexico | Poetry Our leader, to appease his wildest whims, Sitting in the penthouses named for him, Tearing families apart at our borders and beyond In Mexico they paint pictures of him Fanged and eating children Fingers, toes, hearts and souls Then of course the mothers rise up — His legions of jack-booted thugs Throw them in dusty prisons — Nothing to keep them company, but other broken-hearted mothers “Look at us”, he says to the K_ _, N _ _ _ _ , and the dear, secret (b/tr/z) illionaires from around the world, “We have won.” Quietly with teary eyes, I watch in a dark room, in a dark house, Spiders and rats crawling
Mark Myavec | Kissed by the Dew | Photography 49
Lazarus Trubman | The Bullet You Never Hear | Fiction He made an attempt to call her in the morning. Then again in the evening. Her recording “If it’s you, Johnny – say something to make me feel good.” disarmed him with its straightforwardness. To call again seemed useless. He had chosen a different path. “Hi, baby…” He was e-mailing Carol. He had long felt a desire to finalize their relationship. At last he had the time and the peace of a rented cabin up in the Smoky Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. The place is breathtaking – whether you’re into wilderness or not. So, he was e-mailing Carol. He told her that he is sitting in a cozy living-room with bright-red logs peacefully crackling in the open fireplace three hundred miles away from her. That is cold, and he’s rested and so on; that he met a fellow chess player who rented a cabin next door and who, as he told right away, also took a little time away from his girlfriend – all this didn’t fill an e-mail. What else? It wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be. He knew that Carol, like any other woman, really only wanted to know what he felt – or thought, if he didn’t feel anything. He, himself, knew what it was: he hadn’t married Natalie, whom he loved, why should he marry Carol whom he didn’t love? But it was difficult, practically impossible, to put this into words without hurting her feelings: she was the sort of a woman who thinks she has to marry every man she goes to bed with. It made him mad, simply furious. At the same time, Carol was married, and her present husband, a State Department official, had no intention of getting a divorce, because he loved Carol. He didn’t know whether her husband had any idea why Carol regularly drove to Raleigh. She told him she was seeing a psychiatrist, and as a matter of fact, she did that, too. Anyhow, no one ever knocked on his door, and he couldn’t see why Carol, who in other ways had a modern outlook, was so inclined to marry him. Then, a month ago, he had lunch with his co-worker Sandy at the nearby Jersey Mike’s, followed by a quick encounter, which really meant nothing. It just happened. One of those things. He arranged the chessmen, got his bourbon and cigars out. Carol inherited a clothing shop in downtown Cary, so she wasn’t after money. He knew that. He also knew her constant reproach – that he had
no taste at all and that he wouldn’t marry her. And yet she gave him no peace, calling him a monster as regards women. He was fed up with her reproaches. He made it pretty clear again that marriage wasn’t on his mind right after they made love and he was getting ready for the trip. She checked his luggage, made sure that he hadn’t forgotten the shaving kit and the toothbrush. He kept talking, and she kept crying, which told him that she listened to what he was saying. But perhaps she needed it in black and white, in the form of an e-mail at least. His phone rang: Carol! “Hi, honey!” “Hi, baby! I called you twice…” “How was it fucking Sandy? As tasty as the Jersey Mike’s sandwich?” Then dead air. Then the doorbell rang: my chess player finally. I opened the door – and Carol discharged her small Smith & Wesson three times. I never heard the bullet that went through my heart, just the two others that probably hit the marble ornament above the fireplace. I’m pretty sure they hit the marble ornament above the fireplace.
Dr. Mel Waldman | Runaway Man | Poetry
(on reading Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem— Junkman’s Obligato)
a fugitive in the winter of despair frozen in the swirl of nowhere rushing slowly to Coney Island along Ocean Parkway dark skies heavy snow coming, they say & still with raw will I go to Old Coney covered with waste & debris my lips quivering with desire to be free but my roasted brain’s on fire
got to whisper goodbyes hello farewell Old Coney I am
the Quasi-Emptied One in the barren chill of Brooklyn approaching the Coney Sea to cleanse & purge my sins & shed the skin of Un-Reality for this is the poignant moment of atonement & the purging time to discharge my toxic waste in every form before the storm arrives & the taste of miasma & the fire of the tempest & this is cathartic time to catch a farewell ride on the Cyclone in the eerie chill & clutch a chimerical thrill in the winter of despair
sailing through the intoxicating air on the motionless Parachute Jump mammoth landmark of antiquity looming in absolution time Cyclopean Centurion watching me gazing through the swirl of salvation & redemption guarding me while I dump my debris into the unfathomable sea & dive into the dreadful deep of the Apocalypse re-birthing in the bestial chill of the Atlantic Ocean I am
a slave tethered to earthly objects a cornucopia of illusions glittering in the prison of attachments my private junkyard but now
here in Old Coney I perform a ritual ablution my purgation in the sacred sea un-possessing my possessions & my false self too inhaling the emptiness a metaphysical question in search of a cosmic blessing & celestial scents & angels singing & you— my otherworldly holy sphere & invisible quintessence you— my divine nothingness you— my phantom soul pirouetting across the kingdom of nowhere
James Croal Jackson | Fear of Dancing | Poetry I am a tin pen so you ask when? I write on the floor kissing the spot where dancers writhed in a style I cannot recommend. Bodies bent like thin trees in a hurricane. A reporter standing in the midst of ominous gray waiting for the signal to speak so she can get out soon, roads slickened with saliva.
BT Hathaway | Poison Ivy | Photography 57
Albert Davenport | Violated Norms | Fiction He marched down the street in the Lord’s uniform, black dress pants and shoes, size 56 chocolate brown sport coat, a black collarless shirt his only concession to modernity. His father’s Sunday best had consisted of a white shirt and tie, a tie shed along with the suit coat partway through the summer service’s second hymn. “Hey man, get out the middle of the street.” A traffic cop wannabe at the red light had turned down the rap music long enough to yell out the car window. “Why aren’t you in church?” the soldier of the Lord replied. “I ain’t goin’ to no church. Why you walkin’ down the middle of the street? Some white dude will run your black ass over and you’ll be charged with jaywalkin’.” “It’s Sunday morning. You should be in church.” The light turned green. Wannabe cranked his music and drove off. The buzz of bicycles caught the soldiers ear. A cavalry column of white riders, the vanguard of invading gentrifiers, headed toward him in skin-tight frictionless riding gear, properly fitted helmets, uniformly thin bodies wizened to community standards by lifetimes of expensive fitness club torture. Periodic smiles. A few sweaty nods. “Why aren’t y’all in church?” the soldier yelled. “Good morning,” the lead biker replied without looking. “You should all be in church.” A woman in the column took up the mantra, “Good Morning.” The soldier glared back. “I said ‘Good Morning’,” she said as if teaching manners to a child. She exchanged glances with a fellow rider. They both shook their heads and rode on. With the invading column gone. The soldier wiped his brow, looked for more lost souls. Seeing none, he turned toward church.
History of The B’K
The Bitchin’ Kitsch (2010-present) or The B’K is a compzine edited and published by The TalbotHeindl Experience, LLC in Denver, Colorado. 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 four juried chapbooks. Today, it is a quarterly zine published in January, April, July, and October. Here’s to the past nine years, and hopefully many, many more.
Stephanie Jones | Untitled | Digital Illustration
The Bitchin' Kitsch is a quarterly zine for artists, poets, prose writers, or anyone else who has something to say.
Published on Sep 29, 2018
The Bitchin' Kitsch is a quarterly zine for artists, poets, prose writers, or anyone else who has something to say.