9 Iss. 1
Cover: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Slideâ&#x20AC;? by Olivier Schopfer. Arif Ahmad
Corey Joseph Brier
5, 17, 30
Richard Dinges, Jr.
Niina Tsuyuki Dubik 4 Jonathan Ferrini
Clara B. Jones
Dr. Mel Waldman
Kristen Clark | Medusa | poetry Often times I wonder If Medusa was actually a man. Or if it is just her spawn that slithers on this earth. I know a few men that have the wickedness to turn women into stone. When they undress us with their eyes and their lizard tongue lashes out and their serpent hands reach around our hair our necks our bodies. As warriors, we prepare for this battle. We prepare to scream, to scratch, to fight. But we canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t prepare for our eyes to turn to glass. Our hearts to twitch and lurch. Our screams to be caged in our throats. And our bodies to turn to stone.
Niina Tsuyuki Dubik | H ā fu | poetry Sometimes it means Constant corrections To complete strangers. “No, that’s my aunt, not my mother.” Your curly light brown hair, Your hazel eyes, Your blue eyed aunt, Your Asian mother. When I got older My hair got straighter, Darker, And I still don’t look like my mother. Ukrainian dance And kendo since you were seven But some days You don’t feel like you can claim either culture. You’re not enough of either To be anything. You’re not enough, You’re different, You’re nothing. Your aunt speaks And is surprised you understand her. You aced intro Japanese without trying And people wondered how. You tried to lighten your hair with lemons To fit in with your blonde haired blue eyed Ukrainian bilingual class. If It doesn’t look like us, Doesn’t talk like us, Then It must not be one of us. I eat pyrohy for lunch And katsudon for dinner And wonder if they’re right.
Greg Counard | Randevu | Pencil on paper 5
Clara B. Jones | LaToya’s Ode to George Vanderbilt, Thinking of Her Grandfather | poetry She can’t recall the moment she heard you in the forest trammeling trilliums with boots heavy as cows who sacrificed their skins to shelter your feet. She does remember walking across shards of soil, a friend turning to blow a milkweed seed aloft in humid air while she raised a glass of seltzer to her lips festive as a child in Brooklyn eating chips and oranges, her friend singing Yah-O-Yah to celebrate her birthday, beholding blue banners before them on Biltmore’s lawn where her grandfather might have poured chilled vodka for Robber Barons watching the sun set over mountains before returning to offices in New York or Boston or Philadelphia, not to chipped benches in Prospect Park or to favored spots in front of Junior’s®, lost men slouching across the Brooklyn Bridge to hustle, descendents of Cherokee and slaves upon whose backs your house was built.
Chris Talbot-Heindl | Untitled | Photographs 7
Michael Prihoda | No Further Comment | Fiction My parents started going crazy about the time I met Jared. (I think, more than anything, we remember our escapes.) Not actual crazy, mind you, my parents I mean, but just that sort of health nut phase that wasn’t actually a phase because they continue it today, still urging coconut oil on me at every possible juncture. I stick to olive oil, thanks. They ditched our normal Pepsodent toothpaste, claiming it contained fluorides, which it did, it said so right there on the tube under ingredients and before I could claim that microwaves too were unhealthy (I had no clue why and no scientific backing and sometimes I don’t think my parents ever had more than tertiary he-said-she-quotedsome-study-somewhere type facts) my parents ditched that for a toaster oven and all our leftovers were a bit dried out instead of soggy. Normal hand soap had formaldehyde and parabens and I hadn’t the foggiest notion of why these things shouldn’t be in my hand soap (well I guess formaldehyde I did because that’s for embalming and we weren’t dead yet but we were all on the way, in some degree or another) so we went natural there too. Shampoo, deodorant, my mom’s perfume: all certifiably free of animal testing and unnatural additives or colorations. Next, they bought organic. Suddenly they knew when and where every farmer’s market was held within a hundred mile radius and which vendors were the nicest, had the best produce, raised their beef and arugula not just with pride but with good old-fashioned holiness and respect bordering on a zen Buddhist’s disposition toward nature. We always bought farm-fresh eggs and somehow through a friend of a friend of an old old friend we started buying whole, newly butchered chickens. My parents even helped butcher them a few times. I thought they’d start believing in reincarnation and avoid killing bugs in the house but things only went so far. (Apparently, they had limits.) Eventually they began hovering in the gluten-free realm. I ate a lot of carrots those days. Jared told me I’d have better eyesight than the guy that missed the iceberg and sunk the Titanic. I told him nobody could see underwater, especially not in the dark. He asked why I assumed it sunk in the dark. We’d both seen the movie but didn’t know if we could
or should implicitly trust James Cameron. The sinking wasn’t our main motive but I can’t even picture that now, just a handprint on a foggy window. Jared had just moved to town, transferred schools right before the semester. Everybody felt bad for transfer kids, everybody knew how Robinson Crusoe-d they really were. They practically immigrated from a different planet for having missed out on everything everybody else shared growing up together through elementary and middle school. The class plays. The kid who threw pencils at the female teachers. Who did or didn’t cry on the playground. Everything. They’d missed it all. But the extent of our pity and empathy only forced action when we surveyed the kid and found him acceptable. Nobody made friends with a kid who showed up every day wearing graphic tees for bands like Korn, Megadeath, Slayer, etc. They always had black hair and a lighter in their locker and one time this kid named Isaac, as if to prove those lighters weren’t for show, got himself expelled for smoking a joint in the girl’s locker room. We knew he chose the girl’s just to prove a point to the administration. They, of course, not appreciating the joke, kicked him out. It was a bit like curb stomping a butterfly. But sophomore year we had Jared. The new kid. The only one that year. He didn’t smell or talk with an unfamiliar accent and he hated math and I wasn’t playing a fall sport that year (having quit football after a disastrous freshman campaign where I sat the bench, sat the bench some more, and sometimes ran water to my friends on the field) so I became friends with him, potentially employing the least amount of effort any friendship’s beginnings had ever entailed. We sat next to each other in Biology and nodded off synchronously as the teacher did this thing in between each sentence, statement, question, any time he opened his mouth really, where he’d mutter a “k” as in okay but very clipped, as if he were partially assassinating the letter before spilling it tentatively, like a slop bucket he wasn’t sure was aimed in the right direction. Strangely, and I realize the absurdity of what I’m about to say, me and Jared slept together through that class. No further comment.
Michael Prihoda | No Further Comment (Continued)
My parents were going crazy and I had a new friend so all in all things were pretty even at the beginning of sophomore year. No girlfriend prospects but Jared kept talking about finding me a girlfriend, as if I were the new kid in need of help, the charity of someone who far more closely resembled Brad Pitt than Christopher Walken. Honestly, we were both average and in the way high school essentially destroyed every possible inhibition among teenagers lumped into a public, mostly uncontrollable setting, we could have had average girlfriends with whom we could have discovered the basics in a predominantly average way. Jared was risky. His eyes gave it away because he kept staring at things, never afraid to look at them directly. I knew Jared was up to something from the way he stared. And I was right. It wasn’t long after we became friends that he said, jolting from a partial snooze in biology, “let’s do something big.” I didn’t know what he meant by big but I knew there wasn’t an option, his sentence hadn’t included a maybe clause anywhere in the four words, one of them a contraction. He had spoken a contract with my assumed signature already printed on the dotted line in his mind. “What?” “Blow something up.” Five days later, on a school night no less, we found ourselves outside of the courthouse. I’d only dodged my parents because they were too distracted looking up correct ways to use coconut flour because they’d heard it was so absorptive that it could cause choking when you made some kind of crust or dough with it. The courthouse had this statue on the front lawn, something historically important, a guy in buckskin standing, holding a rifle like a walking stick instead of the aggravatingly deathly weapon it actually was. “Despicable,” Jared said. “Probably what your last girlfriend looked like,” I said. We both hated the world just enough to do this kind of thing. To think about doing this kind of thing. We stared at it for a while. I’m not sure how long. It was the kind of moment I expected Jared to pull out a
lighter, a pack of state-minimum-priced cigarettes. “You a sixteenth Cherokee?” he asked. “Nah. You?” “One thirty-second. Think it’s enough?” “Dunno. What side?” “Dad’s side.” If he’d had a cigarette this would have been the moment where he flicked it carelessly into the dampening grass. There was a plaque between two spotlights turned toward the statue’s midsection. I couldn’t make out anything beyond the first letter. The statue’s eyes seemed to say, go for it. “Can you prove it?” “Fuck, man. What’s there to prove?” he said. We split a few blocks from my house. I liked to think of it as a sandstone tissue box. I wondered if my parents had figured out if coconut flour was safe to use. In what proportions they wouldn’t have to worry about clogging the esophagus. I wondered what was next.
Gabe Kahan | By Now | prose Hello friend, passenger, lover, antagonist, soul sibling, my narcissistic incarnate. I come, I conquer, I fly on the gentlest of breezes. Nothing I can tell you now will make things dissipate like music. Music is better. I am simple. I’m kicking pebbles along a primeval dirt road because I don’t know why. It’s my logic. Every night I put on a new chest: sailor, queer, undergraduate, statistician, participant. They are all true, which is why none of them feel quite right. I hope one day I can wear my hair in a bun, that I can walk through a restaurant and not notice my own essence trailing behind me. I hope one day I can sit down in this shadow and just breath. That nothing will consume me, except my supreme acceptance. (This will become the definition of my spirituality.) The six-string choral therapy is a con job. But it’s real too. Just like the ticking in my body. Just like you. Just like all these shattered tree limbs are real.
Richard Dinges, Jr. | Swimming Hole | Poetry A swim in a rural creek seems simple, a romantic nudge to an earlier age. This brown sludge flows from a city, mixed with cropland nitrates, fermented under hot sun and no rain. Still, it was cooler in water than clean open rural air, smudged by faint exhaust and grass land fires. It was cooler, felt good, and we swam like there was no tomorrow.
KG Newman | Bullseye | poetry I am not a scarecrow stuffed with the organs of farmhands and endangered birds, a loose knot at the end of the rope in the distant bell tower. They screwed me twice by lawsuits and Twitter mob. Their megaphoned insults hacked into my dreams. Reputation dies hard is what the next generation said to my son as they profiled my footprint via iWatch hologram on the handball wall of the playground.
Arif Ahmad | 1.8 Billion Villains | poetry (President Trump tweets anti-Muslim videos) Oops, we got busted again, I hate to admit it. By who else than our very own President. As he retweets the far-right anti-Muslim videos. So under no duress, I am going to confess. For I am running out of ways to react. I mean all us Muslims, all 1.8 billion. We had conspired with Kim Jong-un. Who agreed to provide cover with his rocket launches. While we would all continue with our evil ways. 1.8 billion had agreed upon and signed off on those incidents which Trump mentions. Yes, I remember Mr. Islam was also in attendance. All 1.8 billion involved in some form of terrorism. Just as all white folks are guilty of Donald J Trump. And all brown people for having the brown skin pigment. Just canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t keep getting caught like this. We are 1.8 billion villains. Pretty soon no one would want to live with us. Goddamn it. Imagine 1.8 billion shopping for a new planet. Footnote: This is a work of satire.
D. Jordan | Flammable | poetry I am drawn to your watercolor gentleness. I grew up watching my mother stomp out fires my father started with her bare feet then insist she didn’t smell the smoke that snaked up between her blistered toes. I inherited my father’s gift for destruction. I have matches for fingertips and a belly full of gasoline. I think you’re beautiful. I pray you aren’t flammable. I can only create with things that are already broken. Soot-covered shards of glass welded together with scar tissue and anecdotes from my childhood. But you truly create. Everything you touch breathes color instead of smoke. You make things that are new with no past and no ashes. I am mesmerized by colors not seen in a burning house. Beyond flames and charcoal, there you are with paint on your palms, curiosity in your smile. But I have matches for fingertips and paint is flammable.
Alyssa Havens & Greg Counard
Alyssa Havens & Greg Counard | Ego Death | pen and ink on paper 17
Sy Roth | Girl in Her Flowered Mask | Poetry There was but a scar, He was told. Merely a hardened cicatrix beneath the masque He was told. Not to be unnerved, he focused on the floral mask Colorful and gay adornment, she wore. Steeled himself for the play within a play To catch Polonius asleep behind the arras Ready to run him through. Her hazel eyes rested there above the ridge of the guise. It glowed cold As she fashioned in her imagination The landscape set before her. Hazy hue, Preparatory salutation for their anticipated response. When she stripped off the covering, A phlegmy trail soon followed Idiolect of vomit Spilling rotten on the floors and walls. She smiled Following it and its odor out of the room. Echoes of continued heaving ricocheted in the canyons of her mind. Her eyes, solitary dancers, Absorbed their antiphonies, Found there a liturgical, peristaltic beat of distasteful reality â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Oh God, what have you wrought? A biblical bellow beyond the walls of Jericho. A little dog marked its territory and bit her face? A big dog marked its territory and chewed off her face, left her a human meme designing its own space. In a masque of tribulations She lies hidden in the masks of her own creation. Behind the mask She smiles crookedly Dressed in the shards of her crenelated lips.
Kendra Mathias | Of Fires and Mermaids | Poetry A slow burning fire, threatening to burst at any provocation. To consume all that has been hidden. The wrong look, snicker, or jeer. Some sentence spoken in some other language. They’re all the same really, but they can’t help it. So I hide my face in shame They can’t know what happened. The hungry pawing and grabbing. That theft of innocence. Ripped away greedily, viciously. Laughing like it’s just some joke, and not a single thought, of what this would do to me. Of how the ocean floodedby tears of guilt and tears of shamewould slowly drown me. Consume me in the depths of humiliation. I only pretend to be a mermaid. I cannot breathe under the water, I can only swim.
Mark Young | Prickly Thoughts | Prose The animal’s not found in these parts, nor anywhere nearby. Yet I’m sitting under the house thinking about porcupines. Their quills particularly. How they’re straight or only slightly curved, unlike the smoke from my cigarette which is going in all directions. There is a frog clinging to the security screen that guards the laundry window, drawn to the moths that are drawn to the light I have left on in order to give me some idea of where to stumble. A batrachian bonus. From here it shows as silhouette; from inside it is an anatomical exhibit. The smoke drifts past it, pools beneath the floor of the deck above me, then seeps up through the floorboards. I wonder how to vent it elsewhere, consider yurt designs at first. But the prospect of spending nights in the Gobi drives me eastwards across the Pacific to the Nine Nations. Equally romantic / much more appealing & there’s some tenuous link with arrows that lets in porcupine quills to prick the mind. That’s what sitting beneath the house can do when there’s not enough light to contemplate your navel. Allows your thoughts to drift & pool & seep into unexpected places. I put out the cigarette, leave the laundry light on. The frog thanks me. We have an understanding. It stays focused which lets my mind jump around. Not too far & closer to home. I am thinking about echidnas.
Chris Talbot-Heindl | Untitled | Photographs 21
Dr. Mel Waldman | Ogunquit Meditation | poetry Away from the crackling cacophony mad city chaos Away from the raw ruins of bestial time I retreat to Ogunquit the Beautiful Place by the Sea Away from Manhattan mayhem & Brooklyn bedlam I merge with the mellifluous flow of the Source chant OM & vanish on a celestial bench on the Marginal Way nestled in a womb chair in the chimerical castle of my mind Away from the shattering sins of the city on the otherworldly cliff-walk I gaze at the glorious glittering ocean below rushing slowly through waves of consciousness wild waves of oceanic serenity
& I AM ONE the Source
the Without End
the Ultimate Nothingness
I AM ONE
Corey Joseph Brier | Road Kill | Poetry If there is blame Perhaps its mistiming, The fire of instincts Against metal gnawing bones into gravel. Lastly, they hear The whisper of leafs, Crimson curled Nestling their fleshy bits Rolled onto sidewalks. Carpets for birds, A thousand mouths of dirt. Their tails root deep Sprout from gut-puddles Flicking out The nervous conclusion While their mind tappers off Adrift with the fog, Your break-lights beam Electric-red And somewhere The word EXIT glows Menacing a dark hallway.
Rodd Whelpley | Fear* | Poetry I am a monstrous giant to this bunny, fallen in my window well. He quivers, sees, perhaps, my box, my coaxing stick, bursts forth his piercing shriek. Surely, if he could, he’d sprout tiger claws, some gnarlsome teeth – Assume Goliath size, slash me, savage me, goad me with my cudgel to beat him down. Unknowingly would forsake how I will lift him. Place his box in an open field. Watch him bound to freedom. ͠ Because that’s the way fear serves us, always siding with the thing of which we are afraid.
* Excerpted from the longer poem “Eight Impure Emotions in an Arbitrary Order.” “Fear” uses as its last stanza a paraphrased quotation from The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald.
Jonathan Ferrini | Garlic Boy | Fiction The screams and cries are loudest at night and aggravate the inmates who encourage the predators and fantasize about the fate of the prey. It isn’t long before “Om Mani Padme Hum” resonates throughout the cell block and peace replaces terror. It’s my final night after being incarcerated at Corcoran State prison for five years. The tiny plastic mirror above my combination metal sink and toilet reflects the transformation of a slightly built eighteen year old into a formidable man with prison tattoos. The tattoo on my forearm reads, “El Chico de Ajo” which translates into “Garlic Boy.” Soon after my incarceration, I visited the prison library and randomly selected “The Teachings of Buddha.” Reading it removed the hatred and vengeance consuming me. I wrote to the Buddhist publisher and thanked them for transforming my life and was forwarded additional Buddhist publications. The transformation I found in Buddhism spread throughout the cell block and I became a revered Buddhism counselor to the hardest of criminals and their jailers. It’s daybreak and the Warden escorts me to the bus which will take me home. The only possession I took is my copy of “The Teachings of Buddha.” He hands me a pencil drawing of a family of spiders nestled in their web. The drawing is titled “Peace and Gratitude” and the Warden tells me Charlie meditated and gave it to me as a gift. I tell him to sell it and buy Buddhist publications for the library. Gilroy California is a farming community known for growing garlic. Our family lived in a trailer home located downwind from a garlic processing plant which gave my family the permanent stench of garlic. There are two social classes of Latinos who live and work in Gilroy: wealthy landowners tracing their lineage to Spanish land grants and migrant farm workers harvesting their crops. My parents are migrants paying the wealthy land owner rent and a percentage of their crop sales. I’m an only child, and was a lonely, quiet, studious kid with dreams of attending college to study agricultural science and one day owning our own farm. My garlic stench made me an outcast teased and bullied by everyone with the exception of Andalina, a quiet, studious girl, who exchanged loving glances with me in school. Andalina’s parents own a beautiful ranch home on hundreds of acres. A relationship was never possible given our economic differences. I received a postcard from Andalina in prison telling me she graduated from college and was attending graduate school. I was proud of her but too embarrassed to write back and tell her I earned my GED in prison. My parents often sent me to the only minimarket/gas station in our neighborhood to buy groceries and I welcomed the errand because they included money for a Slurpee. The owner of the minimarket is Ernesto. He was once a struggling immigrant but saved to open the new minimarket/gas station. He’s considered a Coconut by Latinos and prefers to go by Ernie. Ernesto was politically ambitious and a law and order businessman with aspirations of running for mayor. His minimarket/gas station has no competition for miles and he charges monopoly prices. I entered the minimarket and dashed for the Slurpee machine. I poured a tall Slurpee and
grabbed the groceries. As I approached Ernesto to pay, a Latino gang entered the store which was empty except for me and Ernesto. One gang member stood guard at the entrance. Sensing trouble, I hurried to complete the transaction and get out of the store. The leader of the gang passed me and smelled my garlic stench placing his arm around me saying, “You’re my garlic boy.” His grip was firm and he approached the counter with me in tow. He held a gun to Ernesto’s head demanding money. Ernesto opened the register and handed over the money begging, “Please don’t kill me!” The gunman turned to me and said, “You stink man!” He hit me on the back of the head with the butt of the gun. I fell unconscious. I regained consciousness to find Ernesto standing over me. My arms and feet were bound and I was being photographed by the local newspaper. Ernesto assumed I was a gang member and used the robbery as a photo opportunity for his mayoral run. Ernesto planted the pistol dropped by the thief in my pants. I was arrested and charged with armed robbery. The Public Defender ignored my plea of “wrong place, wrong time,” and pressured me to accept a plea deal. I was sentenced to prison and Ernesto was elected mayor. The bus ride home feels like a prison cell as it crawls up Interstate 5 surrounded by Central Valley farms. I’m anxious and clutch the “Teachings of Buddha.” We pass a billboard reading: Next Services 8 miles. Ernie’s Minimarket and Gas Station The billboard reignites hatred and vengeance towards Ernesto but I hold the book close to my heart and chant, “Om Mani Padme Hum” which calms me. I’ll get off the bus at Ernesto’s minimarket and buy a bottle of champagne to celebrate our family reunion and treat myself to a Slurpee which I dreamed about in prison. The bus stops in front of the minimarket. I enter and recognize Ernesto behind the counter. I pour a Slurpee and select a bottle of champagne. I approach the register and ask Ernesto, “Remember me?” to which he replies, “No. You all look alike!” The doors to the minimarket swing open and in the store mirror behind Ernesto, I see the shark like stare of a meth head quickly approaching the register determined to rob and likely kill Ernesto. I alone will determine if Ernesto lives or dies. I turn to the meth head rolling up my shirt sleeves revealing prison tats criminals recognize while giving him my prison eye stare down. I hold the bottle of champagne like a baton. The meth head stops dead in his tracks saying, “It’s cool man. No hassle from me!” He backs his way out of the store and runs to his car speeding away. Ernesto knew he dodged a bullet and holds out his hand to shake saying, “Thank you. How can I repay you?” I hand him my copy of “The Teachings of Buddha.” I walk out of the store to my family reunion sipping the Slurpee like expensive cognac.
Maria Mazzenga | The Ways Life is Sexy | Poetry Did I dream of you? always at the top of the leaderboard sucked in by time’s drips a leaf falls, then another, a rain of brown leaves seasons & seasoning dry roasted nuts in a glass jar save the glass, peel away the blue the old coke bottles dressed in siren red labels flourescent yellow isn’t just for emergencies anymore neither is orange, or school bus bright dresses in those colors we don’t need breasts that large when men keep packages bone, even out the sexes, quadruple the genders HARM HARM always at arms length, the joy of pain like anyone says, sometimes it’s why did I do it this way why did I do it at all, then the memory that it might be it might not (insert your name here, the one I dreamed)
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. Here’s to the past seven years, and hopefully many, many more.
Greg Counard | Ecstasy | Pencil on Paper