The Bitchin' Kitsch March 2015 Issue

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Volume 6, Issue 3 March 2015



bitchin’ kitsch


about b’k:

The Bitchin’ Kitsch is a zine for artists, poets, prose writers, or anyone else who has something to say. It exists for the purpose of open creativity. All submissions are due on the 26th for the following month’s issue. Please review the submission guidelines on our Submissions page ( before submitting your work.

community copies:

Stevens Point readers, sit down and read The Bitchin’ Kitsch at our community locations: zest, the coffee studio, tech lounge, and noel fine arts center.


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Printing costs can be a bitch, which is why we continuously look for donations. Any amount helps and is appreciated. We also sell back copies of The B’K. To do either, visit our Shop The B’K page (


On top of being the best publication ever created by human hands, The B’K would also like to present other opportunities that may be helpful to you as creators. If you have suggestions that could improve our list, please let us know. Resources we are privy to can be found at our Resources page (


table of contents.

24 – The Pledge, Douglas Polk

On the Cover

Dot from Willingly I-Impart My Things, Not Not-Willingly Jonathan Kelham

25 – Deus Ex Machina, Gerard Sarnat

35 – Resentment, Anthony Ward

26-28 – Rimbaud

36-38 – Perfectly Reasonable Perversions, Brendon Vayo

29 – Lobsters, William C. Blome

39 – CystSTEM, Rose Knapp

On the Back Cover

40 – As He Turns His Back On You, John Grey

Brian Hardie Photograph

42 – Nevermore 43 – Shelter, Ashley Sgro

In This Issue 4– Moran

34 – Forebodings, Ken W. Simpson

44 – Arrival, Morgan Bazilian

, Sarah Frances

45 – This I believe, Arif Ahmad 46 - Donors and Index

5 – Black Bridge Forever, Stephanie Jones and Adam Unger

48-49 - March Calendar Shot

6-9 – Comeuppance, Craig Kurtz 10-12 – What the Numbers Say, Nels Hanson 13 – Church with JC, Carl Scharwath

Stephanie Jones and Adam Unger - pg. 5

14-19 – The Dancer, Adreyo Sen

30 –

20 – Armstrong

31 - Black Island from Willingly I-Impart My Things, Not Not, Jonathan Kelham

, Glen

21 – The Prohibited Fruit, Pijush 22-23 – A Day in Spring Metcalfe

, Carl Scharwath

32-33 – No Happy Ending at Hotel Oblivion, Dr. Mel Waldman

Carl Scharwath - pg. 13


sarah frances moran.

The Difference

By: Sarah Frances Moran A therapist told me once I needed to recognize that my body was my own. That I needed to touch my elbow and tell myself that...“this is my elbow.” I thought she was crazy. I’ve always known my body was mine. I wondered… if anyone ever told him, that my body was mine or that a woman’s body wasn’t just his for the taking. I understand that counselor’s desire to assist me in coming to terms with my abuse by helping me come to terms with the ownership of my skin. But I think it’s our inherent societal issue that we focus on adjusting the thoughts and feelings of girls and women without focusing on adjusting how boys and men direct their desires. I know and have always known my body was mine. He didn’t and that’s the difference.


stephanie jones and adam unger.

Black Bridge Forever Stephanie Jones & Adam Unger Metal


craig kurtz. Comeuppance

By: Craig Kurtz

“Truth says, of old the art of making plays Was to content the people; and their praise Was to the poet money, wine, and bays. But in this age, a sect of writers are, That, only, for particular likings care, And will taste nothing that is popular.” — Ben Jonson, Epicoene, Prologue. THE AUTHOR:

I swear we got barbarians with all their vulgar slang. They rub together two conceits and get one syllable at most. It’s positively procacious. It’s reductionist, this lexicon neanderthals indulge. Is ‘cool’ ‘awesome’ and ‘just sayin’’ the apotheosis of discourse? Nay — recidivist! THE HIPSTER:

Now, listen, Mister All-Bugged-Out: your problem is (I mean it sucks), you talk like books and that’s a drag when where it’s at is here and now. Ya dig? Or what? THE AUTHOR:

What say you, sirrah? You’re one to speak — with tattoos stamped on your physique your skin is an old comic book. So malapert! This ‘culture’ of lubricity and truculent insouciance which you do champion as ‘hip’ strikes me as most un-sapient. Your syllables lack pulchritude!


craig kurtz (con’t). THE HIPSTER:

Like, wow, and, man, that’s all effed up. Your bogus talk is nil and void. If I were you, I would chill out. THE TATTOOIST:

Yo, let me settle this dispute — I have the drop and it’s a hoot. Since bashing my art seems the thing, we’ll let tattoos define each dude and he will own his words in feud. THE AUTHOR:

Preposterous and pestilent! THE HIPSTER:

Hell yeah! Like, cool! THE AUTHOR:

Uncircumspect, egregious fool! THE HIPSTER:

So, gramps, wassup, decline the duel? THE AUTHOR:

Impertinent! I’ll feeze thee yet — THE HIPSTER:

Talk is cheap, do you accept? THE AUTHOR:

Alright, I will —


Then tats to kill!


So, here we go, [To the Hipster:] ‘wow’ is the word. [Tattoos ‘wow’ on his arm.] THE HIPSTER:

No problem, bro.

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craig kurtz (con’t). THE TATTOOIST:

[To the Author:] and yours, is ‘truculent.’ [Tattoos ‘truculent’ on his arm.] THE AUTHOR:

Ouch I say.


Say ‘ouch’? Where art thou syllables? THE AUTHOR:



OK, here’s more: [To the Hipster:] ‘nil’ is your word. [Tattoos ‘nil’ on his arm.] THE HIPSTER:

I’d rather ‘cool.’


Oh well. [To the Author:] Now you, it’s ‘pulchritude.’ [Tattoos ‘pulchritude’ on his arm.] THE AUTHOR:



[To the Author:] Next time. [To the Hipster:] And, go for broke, ‘sucks’ is your word. [Tattoos ‘sucks’ on his arm.] THE HIPSTER:

Say what?


[To the Hipster:] Whatever, man. And, now one more. [To the Author:] ‘Apotheosis.’ [Tattoos ‘apotheosis’ on his arm.] THE AUTHOR:

Not eximious?


craig kurtz (con’t). THE TATTOOIST:

More syllables is better yet. THE AUTHOR:





If you insist.


No way, I’m done and I’m undone. I’ve had my fill of this rude jest and, as of now, it is confessed that slang is piffle, best suppressed. THE AUTHOR:

Splendiferous! Now let us speak our rich language with fearlessness, howe’er prolix, and strive to count all galaxies for every word’s one nova more. EXUENT.


nels hanson.

What the Numbers Say

By: Nels Hanson

Class, results are in from the field-studies-inprogress we reviewed last term. It’s true, as the authors hypothesized: The rich aren’t better than the poor, only their opposites. Gathered careful data confirms the moneyed stratum far less generous, charitable, trusting, helpful than those least fortunate. Drivers of luxury cars more often cut off other drivers and pedestrians, and lab experiments disclose at higher rates the wealthy steal valued goods, cheat, lie and approve their dishonesty, all facts verified, statistics triple checked.


nels hanson (con’t). Raw numbers now support Christ’s admonition of a camel’s greater ease in passing through a needle’s eye than a rich man entering heaven’s gate, especially from a fallen world of capitalism’s laissez-faire, free competition’s secret god Monopoly. James Agee wrote Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, in his 20s lived with ’30s Great Depression Alabama sharecroppers and prophet-like named murder the final aim of business. Criminal behavior of the rich we overlook as miscue, inadvertent slip, no flaw or breaking of the social compact, at most a carnal sin. We all worship wealth and so the wealthy. Today’s sad documented truths reveal money’s gifts of power are gifts of kingpins idolized as saintly, exceptional, all knowing, pure, nearly half-divine despite falsehoods, lack of scruples, mediocrity. Professor Lerner’s famous study found when students were informed one of them at random had won a prize they acknowledged the winner deserved gratuitous award. Several researchers report we perceive victims of poverty, violence, prejudice, ill-luck as losers, guilty of their suffering. Anderson and Brion discovered others regard the overconfident as more adept, likelier to flourish and gain prominence, contagion fueled by positive feedback, each ascent in status a new surety. Vain employers hire spoiled staff to build a leaning tower of mirrors, shared self-regard a hypnotized magician’s trick appealing to “just-world bias”: We share the trance, go blind to glaring deficits of knowledge, IQ, unearned esteem from favored birth and ratify odd justice of their lofty rank. Heuer, Merkle and Weber observed same anomaly, grateful investors fooled into believing rewarded risk resulted from brains and talent, not the spin of roulette wheel. The brokers who reap returns on iffy bets resemble mystic oracles. Lasch emphasizes, “Nothing succeeds like appearance of success.” Most wise Americans discern the prosperous climbed hard to reach their dizzy perch despite detailed data that proves financiers vastly overpaid, and hedge fund managers, even the best, rarely beat the market, while CEOs paid enormous sums largely gain from rigged tax codes that permit rent-seeking, spending wealth persuading coy politicians to aid the wealthy boost existing wealth without creating wealth.

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nels hanson (con’t). In The Son Also Rises, an interesting and cogent book, Greg Clark writes family riches can last 10 generations or more, perhaps 300 years, but self-deception leads the rich to claim credit for good fortune beyond their ken. We call the lucky brilliant for drawing all aces from each stacked deck, until they see themselves as others see them, develop narcissistic personalities – or as Paul Piff has noted, “Characteristics we stereotypically associate with, say, assholes.” Crazed tragic poet Delmore Schwartz once penned a bittersweet lyric, a joke at the well-to-do that runs, “If you’re so smart why ain’t you rich?” What could I say to the son-of-bitch? “If you’re so rich why ain’t you smart?” I wonder how off he was to beat scientists to the punch? Or Oklahoma’s Dustbowl troubadour Woody Guthrie who sang, “Believe it or not you won’t like it so hot if you ain’t got that do re mi?” Comments? Questions? No? Well, for next class read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, and if there’s time his Taps at Reveille, just title for an age of hoarded treasure, mad over-weaning greed. “The rich are different from you and me,” he said. “Yes, they have more money,” Ernest Hemingway said and everyone knew Hem was smart, Fitzgerald failed dope. But Papa got it wrong. The rich insist the numbers never lie and today Scotty got the numbers right.


carl scharwath.

Church with JC Carl Scharwath Photograph


adreyo sen.

The Dancer By: Adreyo Sen

Every evening, I return home to find your grandmother waiting for me at that old wooden table where a pair of beautiful eyes once made us a family. As I sit down, she gets up and begins to busy herself at the stove. Your grandmother and I sip our tea. Looking into your grandmother’s face, I wonder how she’s more beautiful now that wrinkles have conquered every inch of that face that expressionlessly registered the kisses of my youth. She gives me a querulous smile. Our tea over, we rise as one and make our way to that little room we pace in our dreams, sometimes aware of each other’s presence. Your mother lived here.


adreyo sen (con’t). Your grandmother sits on your mother’s chair and plays with the scraps of paper and ribbon your mother used to store in an old tin. When your mother was so much more than a grim voice on the telephone and the silence that followed, she and your grandmother would quarrel over these captives to your mother’s fancy. What your grandmother saw as garbage, your mother saw as the beginnings of beauty. Your mother was, even when she was three and anxious that she would outgrow the little cardboard box she had designated as her home, an artist. As your grandmother grumbles over the intangibles dear to your mother’s heart, I flip the pages of her diaries, diaries filled with the minuscule handwriting her teachers were furious at. They all had high hopes of a girl whose moments of unconscious beauty brought tears to their eyes. Even in her happier years, even in those days she took for granted – how couldn’t she? – the admiration of her playmates, your mother was a serious girl. This seriousness was hidden under her cheerfulness; it was the concern in her laughter over her playmates’ slips and falls. Even then, she laughed to comfort, to make little those onslaughts of grief that make the lives of little people fraught and so transparent was the child that her friends – and there were so many – knew she was never laughing at them. I am not much of a reader. But even I can recognize the beauty in my daughter’s writing. I never read too much of it, so moved am I by the manner in which her tiny words are animated by a desperate attempt to understand the world. Your mother, who was already reading fat books with no pictures when she was five, worried about my ignorance. And often, on the evenings when I would have liked nothing better than to cuddle her, she would tell me the stories in the books she was reading, pausing to question me severely. This would eventually win her a scolding from your grandmother, who pretended to see in her daughter’s articulacy, arrogance. Like your mother, your grandmother is a worrier – she feared the daughter she doted on with all the tenderness she kept hidden from her husband was extraordinary. Your mother was always angry when your grandmother interrupted her

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adreyo sen (con’t). thus. She would grow sullen. But then, she outgrew this anger. Perhaps she had begun to understand just how much our love for her made us as her captives. Neither your grandmother nor I are brave. Your grandmother (who bought your mother notebooks we could ill-afford), tortured by her family’s contempt for her beautiful drawings destroyed all her art before moving to the city to become a maidservant at one of those blocks of flats that seem to spring up everywhere. And I was too terrified to leave my comfortable employ to aspire for better things. I let my commerce degree acquire dust. I accepted that I would always be little more than the pen that filled in the appointments of my boss. Together, we never dared to look for anything beyond the flat your grandmother’s mistress allotted us in the servant quarters, knowing this way your grandmother would always be on call. Do you understand then, how much we feared your mother? She was Courage, possessed of a brightness that warmed and singed us. Once, however, she was also Joy. She was a handsome girl, a talented child that sang and danced and wrote. Her headmistress paid for her training in that dance form that compresses a lifetime of experience into a short, fluid movement. Joy has its detractors. And even though my helpful daughter had few enemies among the servant families that saw their dreams die by the parked cars, she was aware that my grandmother’s mistress hated her. Your grandmother’s mistress believed that everyone should know his or her place. She believed your mother didn’t know her place, furious my creative child refused to be a meek silence. When your grandmother was occupied with her household duties, her mistress would send your mother to the market or to the washerwoman. When your mother demanded payment, the woman slapped her – to her, your mother was only an extension of her mother, bound to her by your grandmother’s meager salary. I don’t think your mother minded. She liked to work and she liked fresh air. The monotony of her work allowed her mind to build the forts and castles wherein resided her best work. Besides, your mother sincerely loved the woman’s daughter, a sullen thing harassed by her mother’s attempts to fit her into a mould. I never liked this child, whose weakness turned to viciousness. But your


adreyo sen (con’t). mother felt for her, never minding that the child stuck up her nose at her, or pinched and scratched her when she was angry. She knew she was less flesh than wood to a girl brought up to believe servants were inferior. When your mother was ten, her headmistress gifted her a diary whose cover was illustrated with birds. She knew my daughter’s feet never rested on the ground. That is, then. The diary became your mother’s dearest possession and she carried it everywhere. Then she made the mistake of showing it to the girl whose only friend she was. Instantly, the girl coveted it. She took it from her. “If you value my friendship, you’ll give it to me,” she told your mother. Your grandmother’s mistress, who was watching television in the living room, heard this exchange. She called to your mother. “What would you do with a diary anyway?” she sneered. Your mother didn’t abandon the lonely girl. She had her friends and her loving teachers. I dare say, she had us. At fifteen, your mother was so lovely, a captivating mixture of grace and fire. But there was sadness in her beauty. Her room was full of trophies – she won so many dance competitions. On your mother’s sixteenth birthday, we pooled together our salaries and bought your mother a pair of ballet shoes. Never content with her achievements, your mother wanted to become proficient in yet another dance form. That same night, your grandmother’s mistress sent your mother to the ice cream parlor with her daughter. That child, depressed, had demanded the company of the girl she despised. They were standing outside the parlor, your mother attempting to cheer up her tearful friend, when one of the neighbors, a woman who admired your mother’s daintiness, saw her and rushed towards her. “I saw your performance at Siri Fort,” she told her, “You were lovely.” That fractured creature who was the least of my daughter’s friends and

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adreyo sen (con’t). the sorrow that would suffuse her life, always a nonentity, never able to love the mother who controlled her every action, resentful of the friend whose love was never really her due, howled in rage. She pushed your mother into the street and a speeding bus hit her. Your mother grew used to the pins in her legs, to the way the curiosity of passers-by slipped into a teasing all the more painful because it was as free of malice as a jeering child. I never saw her smile after that day. But then, I never saw her cry. Not even when we rushed to her at the hospital. Ignoring the feet that would never again be the slender slivers a classmate had penned a poem to, she looked at me and said, “I’ll become a writer.” And when your grandmother started crying, your mother attempted to console her. But your grandmother was heartbroken at your mother’s attempt at strength – she knew her beloved would break down. Your mother did break down. Years later, and she was already a published writer whose first novel her mother had stitched into a pillow. She had returned home after eight long years. She was limping by my side, when a little child, the daughter of one of the building’s new residents, paused on her way to ballet practice to run over to my daughter. She began to imitate her. But my daughter, whose eyes were fixed on the girl’s shoes, had already begun to scream. My daughter spent a month in hospital. She could afford private health care, bypassing the republic of neglect that is a government mental hospital. And then she went straight to the airport. She didn’t call us to her wedding, two years later, to a man who loved her with something of our desperation, a man who forgave her silences because he knew the rainy music her feet had once danced to, the music her mind still danced to, a man ready to reside in the beautiful world your mother had built with her unshed tears, a world whose first citizen will always be you. Two years later, your grandmother’s mistress died. By then, your grandmother had left her employ and was working for a merry woman who really wanted a surrogate mother to replace the parent she’d enchanted to death. Missing your mother, your grandmother was glad to comply. I still worked at the doctor’s office, increasingly indispensable to my boss, but I only looked forward to those moments a child would visit our home. Your mother, in unknowing cruelty, had forgiven her last


adreyo sen (con’t). persecutor when she visited her in the hospital – and our new friend was no longer a stranger to remorse. You will meet her today. She is dying to know you. Sadly, the other child your mother had an unintentional effect on didn’t grow up. When your grandmother’s mistress died, her daughter was unable to endure being bereft of the last person who had truly loved her. She died when you were five, your mother’s diary still in her possession. Unlike your mother, who’d always been the queen of her ordered imagination, this child had been a slave in her own dark kingdom. Finally, she was free. I am glad to know that in her last days, your mother was planning to come home. Perhaps, this is why she didn’t call for us, perhaps she closed her eyes and, as you say, dreamt of the eucalyptus tree she used to climb and whose branches she would fashion into toothbrushes, of the street dogs who were her first and most loyal friends, of the headmistress who still finds herself parceling leftovers for her favorite student. Perhaps your mother had been home already in the magazines your headmistress sent us, in the increasingly despairing novels your grandmother’s new employer bought for us, in the university students returning to India who would visit us to see the parents their favorite professor spoke so fondly of. Forgive an old man’s garrulity. You see, looking at the photographs of your childhood, I delight to see that in many of them, captured (but what an illusion that captivity is), in movements more poetic than your mother’s most elegant words, you are wearing the same shoes. Those ballet shoes your mother never got to wear. And so I know, finally, it wasn’t a mistake to send them to her.


glen armstrong. Attention Earthlings By: Glen Armstrong

There are still rivers to cross and babies that teethe on their books. Crooked miles to walk. There is still talk of success. A Washington think-tank makes its findings known, and the whole notion of a “think-tank” makes me think of sci-fi brains living on

in jars, their eyes intact.

There is work to be done and thunder to make us pay attention to the sky,

theater, film and cable television to make

sure that reality is abiding by the restraining order

that we filed against it in between the wars.

There seem to be, if not

core values that unite us, a dwindling number of persistent picture postcards

depicting, for example, rivers or teeth.

Hold those pictures in your mind as we trudge across the frozen tundra.


pijush kanti deb. The Prohibited Fruit By: Pijush Kanti Deb

Sagacity and discernment warn in the same tune showing a skull floating on the cross of bones. Hence, the eyes are taken back and kept inside with care shutting the window down, the flying flag is brought down, folded up and kept inside the locker with great affection for using it in timely flight, yet, the mind, the dogmatic child, longs for the same again and again ignoring the hymn of compromise, “All is well” and revolts at last manipulating the five senses to arrive at a cartel and provokes them too to be unbreakable until their reaching and touching the prohibited fruit breaking all the fences by turn constructed one day with great care by sagacity and discernment.


katie metcalfe. A Day In Spring

By: Katie Metcalfe

We stand on tiptoes upon hinges of old wooden fencing, fitted to make a wall between our youthful curiosity and six, new collie puppies. We lean across the damp, moss stained wood, straining for a better look at the small, plump, clammy black and white bodies. There are traces of blood on the dull gold straw. The puppies shift ever so slightly, one direction, then another, releasing barely audible squeals, eyes still closed. It smells of spring grasses and blood and shit. The young mother looks at us, head lofty, proud of her litter. There’s new wisdom in her tired eyes. Days of collecting dead rabbits are over for now, until each pup has been passed over the wooden fence.


katie metcalfe (con’t).

From the kitchen window, your mother calls us in for supper. Light is still pouring through the stable window. The puppies move towards it, sensing its warmth. We are small, barely seven. Our hair hasn’t been brushed since this morning. Our coats have grubby elbows, and inside our pockets are Chomp packets, screwed up with little acorns and mitten fluff. The dining room smells of beeswax, warm bread and honey. On the table, next to the candle holder is a photograph of a young man. The photo leans against a petite vase of flowers from the garden. We were asked to pick them this morning, and didn’t ask why.


douglas polk. The Pledge By: Douglas Polk

picked to lead the pledge my fourth grade year, nerves all morning before school, but the time finally came, up in front of the class, I take a breath and begin, “bless us o Lord, and these are our gifts,” the giggles heard, stopping me in mid-prayer, I mean, “I pledge allegiance to the flag...” red faced I return to my seat, Johnny Campbell sneers, leans over, and whispers, you damn minnow cruncher, shocked, I could not believe Johnny knew about that day, last summer, fishing for catfish at the river, I caught some minnows to use for bait, the fishing done, the bucket of minnows set upon the bank, and dropped rocks from the bridge above, crushing the minnows to a watery paste, guilt weighed on me all day long, until my older brother asked what was wrong, Johnny Campbell called me a minnow cruncher today at school, my brother told me, I should be proud of my Catholic faith, a smile slowly spread across my face, from ear to ear, Johnny Campbell knows nothing, my secret safe.


gerard sarnat.

Submission scrubbed due to Deus Ex Machina

extreme of sexual harassment By: Gerard case Sarnat and intimidation against other publications’ editors. 5/2020

Working their quarries,

and The Buddha break for lunch. As one argues Happiness, the other .


malfleur. Verlaine’s last letter to Rimbaud

By: malfleur

I wanted to drown myself in a river off the coast of Africa, Where the ship hands faces gleamed red, Beneath the scorching sun Their torn shoes reeked of dead fish and debris. That day we hung around the docks Until the last tendril of sunlight, Slipped down into the depths of the sea. You wanted the sun, So I gave you my hand that was touched by ray after ray, From the days when we roamed as animals in heat, Foundling each syllable, Sounding out one another, As if poetry was nothing but the thud of our bodies beating down. Upon the small bed we shared In a back alley, Where the beggars calls substituted church bells Every single dawn. There was a river by our humble abode. It smelt of the absinthe we would drink by the gallons. I remember nothing of those days, But the sway of lyricism disintegrating as you told me that, Men like me, would fade away, With all the other lovesick crooners who ended up in the gutters of Paris. I told you that we were in Brussels, my friend, Even as your new blood stuck in my teeth, At night I would stare at the ceiling, Knowing that Genius is born, and genius dies. Desperate, I reimagined our conversations, For the sake of poetry. Vulgarizing them with sentimental renditions, Creating an ode for how you would tell me you loved me one day, Upon the mountains of Parnassus. That would speak of heaven, much less of hell.


malfleur (con’t). My angel, with a devil’s face, What hell we caused on this earth! To each other, and those around us. “My dear, won’t you miss me when it’s over?” That’s what you would say when the roar of passion Quieted down, And I knew our season had come to its end. It was a season of rain in my heart, Rain on the town, Raindrops puttering upon our sheets of paper, In the square of London, You were an archer of syllables. Taking shots at my numb throat, As all words faded. The new age pick and chose what it needed. So you could stand upon the horizon, Melding into the eternity of the sea. Whereas I was a jester for the moment, A whore to the married public, Lost within the letters I memorized From the great poets of the romantic youth. The dust couldn’t be settled yet. Not as long as there was love in my heart, For you and only you. I would kick at the sands on the shore, Feeling in my bones, the weight of the sea. You belonged among the cresting waves, That returned ever after, to assail my feet, To whet my appetites, And the hand that was tied to the pen By dried up blood. Those were the years when, I could see something beyond the floor of hotel rooms, That smelled of sex from the night before, And your pipe that hung around my favorite shirt, With the high collar, that made you look like a little man indeed,

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malfleur (con’t). I lost you in that same shirt, In the German frost, Where the cold ripped into me the same way you did, Handing me your old notepad with the torn off front page. “That page is the only thing anyone will ever get from me,” You said, With the sun setting behind your back, The age rushing fast, Blowing into your hair. I see that moment from my brothel in the square. Even if the river I once knew has run dry, Since Africa is the continent you found apart from me. Who you are now is not a question I concern myself with, I have the best years. I taste them in my bottle, Sweet as the blue in your eyes, When you consoled yourself with reinventing the world. The world was ours, It was for a day, even if I don’t remember which. Turning, I sit and stare at the cobblestone streets, Before asking the boy beside me if he knows where your grave is.


william c. blome.


By: William C. Blome I had wife number one convinced you could fish for bright red lobsters in trout streams here and there, and I wasn’t lying when I told her that that was a trout stream running fast and clear outside the Buick assembly plant in Pontiac. So when her shift ended each Wednesday, rather than drive straight home and hear all about a coming socialist state and how it was going to fit snug and jigsaw-like into the new world order I was figuratively piecing together on our coffee table, damned if she didn’t hustle out of work directly, go knot a chicken neck to some nylon line, and then stand and jig the bait on and off stream bottom for the remaining daylight hours, before she packed it in and came home, weirdly exhilarated and more than willing to fix me beef stew while I recounted sagas to her about how well people’s revolutions were going in Nicaragua, Portugal, Angola, and Korea, and how prospects for success were low-hanging and ripe in Jamaica, India, and Utah. Then six days would come and go before she stayed out late again, hoping that just one of the hundreds of lobsters I’d told her all about would finally open a big scarlet claw and snap it closed again real quick and vise-like on her gnarled and shriveling piece of rooster.


carl scharwath.

Transfigured By: Carl Scharwath Fatalistic clouds storm the soul. Attitude destruction drowns the weak. Azure remembrance of blossoming youth. Denial strengthens a new awakening.


jonathan kelham.

Black Island from Willingly I-Impart My Things, Not Not-Willingly I-Accept Better Ones Jonathan Kelham Illustration


dr. mel waldman. No Happy Ending at Hotel Oblivion

By: Dr. Mel Waldman

No happy ending, old man, in the suicide room, at Hotel Oblivion, a black hole in the sleazy part of town, no man’s land in the city, for lost souls and phantoms, only, old man, especially for you, so enter, & welcome home. Hunched over, & buried in broken-down time, you wear a weather-beaten 10 dollar watch, & looking blankly at the barren floor, you see nothing, & forget how it used to be, long ago, on the other side of town, before coming to Hotel Oblivion, soul-D.O.A. Who you were is gone, & what you were is lost too, only the ghost in the mirror remains;


dr. mel waldman (con’t).

& what you possessed, & what possessed you, are phantom objects in your mutilated mind. Perhaps, you once owned a Bulgari Serpenti watch, a sensuous snake swirling around your wrist, hissing sex and power in your seething brain, the Garden of Sin, exploding erotically, sinuous creature coiling around your ego, long ago, or never. Now, you’re here in this barren tomb, at Hotel Oblivion, on the Bowery, between Avenues Nowhere & No Exit, where you wear a moribund poor man’s watch, waiting for the clock to stop, in this killing room, where all who enter die, without a past, clutching nothing


ken w. simpson.


By: Ken W. Simpson Devoted shadows cling to appearances then fade when darkness steals the light leaving unseen omens reduced to tokens insubstantial with unstable foundations tied to fanciful images and evocations of distorted dreams the mind bequeaths as dismal legacies for nocturnal nomads foolish enough to linger where fearful thoughts congregate and wonder how the night will end.


anthony ward.


By: Anthony Ward

Your face does my head in, It smacks me with clumsiness, Staggers me to see you swagger With your serendipitous smirk Beating me black and blue Into submission — For fear of losing it.


brendon vayo.

Perfectly Reasonable Perversions By: Brendon Vayo


You’re supposed to follow directions! Name: Brendon Vayo Subject: Social Studies

Date: 3/6/82 Teacher: Mrs. Milland

A parent must sign here:

Writing Homework #11

Interview a hero from the Greatest Generation, an older gentleman your family knows well. Maybe he’s a relative. Maybe he’s closer than you think! Get to know him and appreciate history by filling in the blanks below. You will be graded on neatness. Remember to thank him for your freedom! I interviewed my

Grandfather because

I had to

Prompt One. My hero is special because...

What is this crap? So everybody’s special now?’re fat. Look at you, all squishy. Did you know, when I was your age, you could cook an egg off me? Write that down. Sure. I was strong as steel then. Could cook on me like a grill. Now that’s something interesting, isn’t it? Prompt Two. My hero is most proud of...

I see where you’re going. They want you thinking a certain way, so fine. Why do we bring things into this world? Ego, there’s one. Pleasure, that’s two. You ever pull the wings off a fly? Who told you that?, it’s frigging hilarious. Oh, well. Authority-types got to pretend it’s pointless, but sometimes, violence is good, did you know that? Hardest part is catching ‘em, but then it’s like a Band-Aid; the wings, I’m talking about, the wings, they come off easy. They’re all flopping around; no, the flies, ain’t you listening? Sure, Son. If they shrieked or something, it’d be sad. But God makes a few extra, just to be safe. Nature’s actually very reasonable, if you look at it. Take kids. You get angry, disappointed? The little bastard loves you more. See, he doesn’t realize you did it ‘cause being mean feels good. He thinks he deserves all the times you’re taking swipes at Mommy. Stop mumbling. I was saying that, really? It’s the best, having a son.


brendon vayo (con’t). Prompt Three. My hero can do many things! He’s best at...

Screwing. Drinking. And fucking. That there’s a perfectly...fine. One day, Daddy will die. No, probably not today. Stop crying. Mommy liked you best when you smiled for no reason, even when you fart, and your diaper crunched. Don’t laugh; it’s true. Me? I thought you were an alien, fierce and angry when you came out. Then you got gross; actually, we’re speaking of Daddy now. No matter how much baby powder we dumped on your ass, the house, well. Mommy and Daddy call it “kuckies,” don’t they? Christ, it was even in the garage, which is, by the way, why I spent and spend all my time out there. Then we’re rattling things over your head, you’re acting like you recognize me, but hell, Daddy could be anybody’s. Did you know, Grandmommy lost Daddy a few times in the mall? Seems like every damned kid’s wearing the same jammies. Nothing else to it, other than Mommies like you soft. But when they die, it all evens out. Prompt Four. My hero is as handsome as...

Come now. You never heard that word before? The bad word? And you don’t know what I’m talking about, huh? Come here, my boy. Let me muss your hair. Never tried it, but out here in the breeze with my grandson, it seems like something we should do. I never said that; I ain’t afraid of nuttin’. Well, that’s okay if it’s a little sticky. No shame in th—whoa. You ain’t kidding. Damn, Boy. That’s about the wettest head of hair I ever touched. Don’t you dry yourself after a shower? What, you just step out and pile into your clothes? ‘Cause Son, that’s about the laziest damn thing I ever heard. If you’re going to be an unclean piggy, I don’t see what else I got to say. Oh. That’s from—all of it?—from sweat? You were playing with the little wide-eyed temptress next door—what’s her name?—that little Marcie? Ahh. That sounds like fun. And, since it is the middle of summer, you’re confined in that doll house there, and sure, whatever you’re doing, you get a little sweaty. Well, look at that. You’re the Adonis of hair, Boy. I don’t remember having that much. See those wisps on top? Now, don’t laugh at Grandpa, or he’ll wallop you. But that’s your future. I told you not to laugh now. Prompt Five. My hero is smart! He even knows...

So, uh. Boy? What do you do with that little Marcie anyway? You know. In her doll house that’s got you all drenched? Does her Mommy know you’re in there playing house? Are you always alone for hours? That’s

continues on next page... 37

brendon vayo (con’t). my boy. You’re doing good. You’re probably more of a man than Daddy ever was. She’s a little stunner, isn’t she, a little heartbreaker? It’s good you get to her first, ‘cause when you’re Daddy’s age, you might look back on this time and think Mommy and Daddy are happy. Well, they aren’t, if you want to write that down. Well, she nags, your Grandmommy. Mommy too. About my kicking back and relaxing, I’m talking about me, but Daddy knocks back a couple too, don’t he? Yet she, the both of them, eat a whole Goddamned chocolate cake while I’m busting my ass. The shop, Boy. I’m dumping my cigarettes, and I, I see a whole fricking... platter, like you get at the grocery store. Don’t you remember the time you crapped on the foreman’s wife’s shoulder? Don’t be embarrassed, I still get pats on the...what do you mean, of course it was you? Now, don’t trick Grandpa. Grandpa doesn’t like when you lie. The day was Wednesday. The platter was empty. Goddamn crumbs, like I wouldn’t enjoy a piece from... Prompt Six. My hero lived through WWII! What he remembers most is...

All right. Okay. Grandpa said he was sorry, didn’t he? He’s worked up is all. I get a little confused sometimes. Come on back, now, so’s you can write this down. All that garbage in your room? Write it. Your sword can’t shoot fire. Your bee-bee gun’s a piece of crap. All the books on your shelf? Words. Words written by perverts. They say it’s all perfectly reasonable, but why’s that old man staring out his looking glass all day at that little girl? They’re all like that, Son. I don’t know why everyone thinks that’s normal...come, now. Well. To be honest, I was getting bored with the conversation. Not like you’re the liveliest person ever to sit on the stoop here with Grandpa. Where was I headed? Oh, I promise you this, Boy. You won’t learn anything contrary to this little lesson here. You know what “contrary” means, don’t you? Means it’ll stick with you, even when you’re my age. It’s good for you to know ‘cause, what I would do? If I were you? I wouldn’t mind spending a few more hours in that little doll house. Grow up a little in that plastic neon box for once, instead of in a trench or the jungle. Next time your girlfriend’s Mommy is out for a couple hours, when you got nothing but those endless summer days in front of you, the kind that go on forever? Spend some time in the dark with that blue-eyed Marcie. Before anybody can tell you what’s right or wrong. Ooh, my boy. If I was your age again. Who cares if there’s spiders? A man overcomes.


rose knapp.

Essential Mathematics CystSTEM

By: Rose Knapp

Geometry trigonometry algebra calculus pure abstract engineering breakthroughs or mainly a massive waste source of our shrinking borrowed dollars; don’t worry though, the money’s worth it while public roads buckle under the weight of an empire’s decline and culture crumbles to oblivion; above all we must hold on to


john grey. As He Turns His Back On You

By: John Grey

in any wounding it is fine to acknowledge the love lost among threat for to illuminate is to take up the skins of tomorrow expose the underneath she searches for the seed that shines its light in this broken lamp that is a torn tired head but his heart has taken to wind, passes out of him silently he’s lost among the slick gull backs, gripping their soaring wings, his empty body’s light casing the brine with lowered eyes, a sliver of blood in his beak some of his body occupies her arms the rest is buried in sea and stars then it’s burning salt-grass, web of yellowing roses... her place



emery a. duffey. Nevermore

By: Emery A. Duffey The deep, forested scent Of Autumn with her rich eyes Pits of red dirt freshly dampened By an evening rain Fills the room like the dancing smoke Of incense whisping in a rain-touched breeze Quiet like mist Transforming to frost Soft-spoken like thunder Authoritatively commanding A blood-tinged horizon bannered with badges of dying leaves “Pay attention.” She’s the bringer of death She chases the fever away Brought by Summer Man - a soon-to-be-forgotten idol Like a wild angel Searching to find heaven again She makes Georgia Sigh with the grief of never forgetting Dreaming of that memory Of what damages Autumn brought last year “No more,” Georgia whispers With the remaining summer crickets To the oil-slick darkness “Nevermore,” replies Autumn A raven’s hacking chuckle


ashley sgro.


By: Ashley Sgro I paint weapons on my walls hoping they’ll materialize and fall. Knives and guns. Batons. Pitchforks and chainsaws. Large wooden boards to slam bodies toward the ground. To destroy—or at least to slow down an enemy. I could be armed, but I am not. I need protecting. I need to survive from the inside. Inside these limestone walls are not enough. I’m next to rocks and monstrous mountains inhabited by monstrous creatures. Unfriendlies. They say I must take care of myself to survive. No one will help me. So many are willing to hurt me. I must be brave. Look brave. Seem brave. These limestone walls are my only shelter. Weathered grey, a blasted silver. I’m left alone with two openings: one window, one door. Two modes of entry. Two modes of escape. They need to be undetected, go unnoticed. My body needs to do the same. Wild animals must overlook my dwelling as a mound of muddled rocks. Humans must pass by and take one look then look away. Think nothing. And that is what I must become: a heavy line of flesh. A camouflage. A nothing.


morgan bazilian.


By: Morgan Bazilian On another night somnolent After a sandwich Wet from sitting in the bag The promise of orange still in the sky The cloud base tattered And weathered And broken and whole Wisps and hints and sparks The flight delayed 2 hours A crazy woman in the front seat An angry naval officer in tan In a middle seat Grown men doodling Talking of their frequent flyer levels Doing those ridiculous numbers games That are three by three The parking lot is quiet The hood of my car pock-marked From a long-gone hail storm The sky almost clear Forty year old songs on the radio on the drive home The automatic pilot of a toll road The heavy lights of a new gas pad My little boy nearly magic on arrival.


arif ahmad.

This I believe By: Arif Ahmad

Such is the nature of this beast that I believe not one conflict of any nature or scale is an unequivocal complete fault of only one side Not one And if this premise can be agreed upon Then therein lies the solution


donors, index. artists

Ahmad, Arif


Armstrong, Glen


Bazilian, Morgan


Hardie, Brian

Blome, William C.


Jones, Stephanie


Kelham, Jonathan

Grey, John Hanson, Nels

50 5 cover, 31

Sarnat, Gerard


Scharwath, Carl

13, 30


Knapp, Rose



Kurtz, Craig


Sen, Adreyo



Sgro, Ashley



Simpson, Ken W.


10-12 Moran, Sarah Frances Polk, Douglas

4 24

Unger, Adam


Vayo, Brendon


Waldman, Dr. Mel


Ward, Anthony

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Untitled Brian Hardie Photograph

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