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BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW

Issue #13

a journal of culture

Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | i *All rights within remain with the respective Artists.*


Intro & Issue Dedication On December 13, 2018. GOD called our beloved Derrick Lemar Graham Jr home. He was the eldest son of Michelle Daniels (Charles Sharpe) and Derrick Graham Sr. (Abyss) (Lisa). Derrick was a quiet gentle soul known to his family as "lil brother." Derrick was a loving and devoted father to two beautiful children Markavion 6 and Anyrah 11 months 10 Siblings and a host of family and friends! We love you so much and you will be sorely missed! Rest In Power "Lil Brother" Gone too soon! Cover Notes Photo of Michel Stone A Publication of The Southern Collective Experience

Logo design by Laura McCullough Behind The Scenes Poetry Editor, Interview Requests Clifford Brooks | cliffordbrooks@southerncollectiveexperience.com Prose Editor Terence Hawkins | terencehawkins@mac.com Design Director Holly Holt | holt.bmr@gmail.com Visual Art Submissions Laura McCullough | branchoftheway@gmail.com Music Editor Dusty Huggins | dusthugg21@gmail.com

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CONTENTS

Poetry Robert Pinsky Emily Zogbi Annmarie Lockhart Casanova Green Gayle Compton Gwennol Marie John Kaprielian Laura Sobbatt Ross Matthew David Campbell Sarah Anne Shope Sarah McCann T. C. Carter William Waters

5 20 22 24 25 26 27 31 33 34 36 38 41

Prose Ana Vidosavljevic Andrew K. Clark Gerald Weaver Jessica Widner Jody Gerbig Josip Novakovich Lavonne Roberts Shawn Crawford Sylvia Madrigal Tony Taddei Zach Riggs

42 44 50 53 59 64 67 71 79 83 90

Essay James H. Duncan

102

Book Reviews Brian Sneeden Jeffrey Skinner

104 105

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Interviews Michel Stone Robert Pinsky David Lehman Beth Gylys Jackie K. Cooper Sean Rima River Jordan Michael Amidei Nick Owen Octavio Quintanilla Pearl Mchaney William Kenower Maggie Brown of New Southerner Faces of Faith with Johnny Hunt Tom Johnson Blank Verse Films Michael Lucker Reformation Brewery Scott Freeman Justin Johnson Sash the Bash Autism Speaks Matt Brumelow Nicole Merkens Dan Larson David Siminoff of Shmoop The Woodbridge Inn Brian Cain of the Oak House Matt Busby of the Camp House Gary Lamb of BBQ & Brews G. Brand Barbeque Hunt Brumby Kathy L. Murphy Laura McCullough Marcus G. Taylor Andrew K. Clark Shane Etter

108 111 115 119 124 127 135 139 144 146 153 157 160 164 169 172 175 177 179 182 190 193 199 207 212 215 217 219 221 224 226 228 230 235 240 244 246

Tabula

The Southern Collective Experience … Because Everyone is South of somewhere. ISSUU | Choosing Your Starting Page When Sharing This Publication: 1. Select "SHARE" below the publication, and then choose the starting page. ||| 2. Copy and paste the URL shown wherever you will be sharing it. ||| 3. Those you share the link with will be taken to this particular page.

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Poetry Robert Pinsky Essay on Psychiatrists I. Invocation It's crazy to think one could describe them— Calling on reason, fantasy, memory, eyes and ears— As though they were all alike any more Than sweeps, opticians, poets or masseurs. Moreover, they are for more than one reason Difficult to speak of seriously and freely, And I have never (even this is difficult to say Plainly, without foolishness or irony) Consulted one for professional help, though it happens Many or most of my friends have—and that, Perhaps, is why it seems urgent to try to speak Sensibly about them, about the psychiatrists. II. Some Terms “Shrink” is a misnomer. The religious Analogy is all wrong, too, and the old, Half-forgotten jokes about Viennese accents And beards hardly apply to the good-looking woman In boots and a knit dress, or the man Seen buying the Sunday Times in mutton-chop Whiskers and expensive running shoes. In a way I suspect that even the terms “doctor” And “therapist” are misnomers; the patient Is not necessarily “sick.” And one assumes That no small part of the psychiatrist’s Role is just that: to point out misnomers. III. Proposition These are the first citizens of contingency. Far from the doctrinaire past of the old ones, They think in their prudent meditations Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 5


Not about ecstasy (the soul leaving the body) Nor enthusiasm (the god entering one’s person) Nor even about sanity (which means Health, an impossible perfection) But ponder instead relative truth and the warm Dusk of amelioration. The cautious Young augurs with their family-life, good books And records and foreign cars believe In amelioration—in that, and in suffering. IV. A Lakeside Identification Yes, crazy to suppose one could describe them— And yet, there was this incident: at the local beach Clouds of professors and the husbands of professors Swam, dabbled, or stood to talk with arms folded Gazing at the lake ... and one of the few townsfolk there, With no faculty status—a matter-of-fact, competent, Catholic woman of twenty-seven with five children And a first-rate body—pointed her finger At the back of one certain man and asked me, “Is that guy a psychiatrist?” and by god he was! “Yes,” She said, “He looks like a psychiatrist.” Grown quiet, I looked at his pink back, and thought. V. Physical Comparison With Professors And Others Pink and a bit soft-bodied, with a somewhat jazzy Middle-class bathing suit and sandy sideburns, to me He looked from the back like one more professor. And from the front, too—the boyish, unformed carriage Which foreigners always note in American men, combined As in a professor with that liberal, quizzical, Articulate gaze so unlike the more focused, more Tolerant expression worn by a man of action (surgeon, Salesman, athlete). On closer inspection was there, Perhaps, a self-satisfied benign air, a too studied Gentleness toward the child whose hand he held loosely? Absurd to speculate; but then—the woman saw something.

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VI. Their Seriousness, With Further Comparisons In a certain sense, they are not serious. That is, they are serious—useful, deeply helpful, Concerned—only in the way that the pilots of huge Planes, radiologists, and master mechanics can, At their best, be serious. But however profound The psychiatrists may be, they are not serious the way A painter may be serious beyond pictures, or a businessman May be serious beyond property and cash—or even The way scholars and surgeons are serious, each rapt In his work’s final cause, contingent upon nothing: Beyond work; persons; recoveries. And this is fitting: Who would want to fly with a pilot who was serious About getting to the destination safely? Terrifying idea— That a pilot could over-extend, perhaps try to fly Too well, or suffer from Pilot’s Block; of course, It may be that (just as they must not drink liquor Before a flight) they undergo regular, required check-ups With a psychiatrist, to prevent such things from happening. VII. Historical (The Bacchae) Madness itself, as an idea, leaves us confused— Incredulous that it exists, or cruelly facetious, Or stricken with a superstitious awe as if bound By the lost cults of Trebizond and Pergamum ... The most profound study of madness is found In the Bacchae of Euripides, so deeply disturbing That in Cambridge, Massachusetts the players Evaded some of the strongest unsettling material By portraying poor sincere, fuddled, decent Pentheus As a sort of fascistic bureaucrat—but it is Dionysus Who holds rallies, instills exaltations of violence, With his leopards and atavistic troops above law, Reason and the good sense and reflective dignity Of Pentheus—Pentheus, humiliated, addled, made to suffer Atrocity as a minor jest of the smirking God. When Bacchus’s Chorus (who call him “most gentle”!) observe: “Ten thousand men have ten thousand hopes; some fail, Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 7


Some come to fruit, but the happiest man is he Who gathers the good of life day by day”—as though Life itself were enough—does that mean, to leave ambition? And is it a kind of therapy, or truth? Or both? VIII. A Question On the subject of madness the Bacchae seems, On the whole, more pro than contra. The Chorus Says of wine, “There is no other medicine for misery”; When the Queen in her ecstasy—or her enthusiasm?— Tears her terrified son’s arm from his body, or bears His head on her spear, she remains happy so long As she remains crazy; the God himself (who bound fawnskin To the women’s flesh, armed them with ivy arrows And his orgies’ livery) debases poor Pentheus first, Then leads him to mince capering towards female Death And dismemberment: flushed, grinning, the grave young King of Thebes pulls at a slipping bra-strap, simpers Down at his turned ankle. Pentheus: “Should I lift up Mount Cithæron—Bacchae, mother and all?” Dionysus: “Do what you want to do. Your mind Was unstable once, but now you sound more sane, You are on your way to great things.” The question is, Which is the psychiatrist: Pentheus, or Dionysus? IX. Pentheus As Psychiatrist With his reasonable questions Pentheus tries To throw light on the old customs of savagery. Like a brave doctor, he asks about it all, He hears everything, “Weird, fantastic things” The Messenger calls them: with their breasts Swollen, their new babies abandoned, mothers Among the Bacchantes nestled gazelles And young wolves in their arms, and suckled them; You might see a single one of them tear a fat calf In two, still bellowing with fright, while others Clawed heifers to pieces; ribs and hooves Were strewn everywhere; blood-smeared scraps Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 8


Hung from the fir trees; furious bulls Charged and then fell stumbling, pulled down To be stripped of skin and flesh by screaming women ... And Pentheus listened. Flames burned in their hair, Unnoticed; thick honey spurted from their wands; And the snakes they wore like ribbons licked Hot blood from their flushed necks: Pentheus Was the man the people told ... “weird things,” like A middle-class fantasy of release; and when even The old men—bent Cadmus and Tiresias—dress up In fawnskin and ivy, beating their wands on the ground, Trying to carouse, it is Pentheus—down-to-earth, Sober—who raises his voice in the name of dignity. Being a psychiatrist, how could he attend to the Chorus’s warning Against “those who aspire” and “a tongue without reins”? X. Dionysus As Psychiatrist In a more hostile view, the psychiatrists Are like Bacchus—the knowing smirk of his mask, His patients, his confident guidance of passion, And even his little jokes, as when the great palace Is hit by lightning which blazes and stays, Bouncing among the crumpled stone walls ... And through the burning rubble he comes, With his soft ways picking along lightly With a calm smile for the trembling Chorus Who have fallen to the ground, bowing In the un-Greek, Eastern way—What, Asian women, He asks, Were you disturbed just now when Bacchus Jostled the palace? He warns Pentheus to adjust, To learn the ordinary man’s humble sense of limits, Violent limits, to the rational world. He cures Pentheus of the grand delusion that the dark Urgencies can be governed simply by the mind, And the mind’s will. He teaches Queen Agave to look Up from her loom, up at the light, at her tall Son’s head impaled on the stiff spear clutched In her own hand soiled with dirt and blood. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 9


XI. Their Philistinism Considered “Greek Tragedy” of course is the sort of thing They like and like the idea of ... though not “tragedy” In the sense of newspapers. When a patient shot one of them, People phoned in, many upset as though a deep, Special rule had been abrogated, someone had gone too far. The poor doctor, as described by the evening Globe, Turned out to be a decent, conventional man (Doctors For Peace, B’Nai Brith, numerous articles), almost Carefully so, like Paul Valéry—or like Rex Morgan, M.D., who, In the same Globe, attends a concert with a longjawed woman. First Panel: “We’re a little early for the concert! There’s an art museum we can stroll through!” “I’d like That, Dr. Morgan!” Second Panel: “Outside the hospital, There’s no need for such formality, Karen! Call me By my first name!” “I’ll feel a little awkward!” Final Panel: “Meanwhile ...” a black car pulls up To City Hospital .... By the next day’s Globe, the real Doctor has died of gunshot wounds, while for smiling, wooden, Masklike Rex and his companion the concert has passed, Painlessly, offstage: “This was a beautiful experience, Rex!” “I’m glad you enjoyed it! I have season tickets And you’re welcome to use them! I don’t have The opportunity to go to many of the concerts!” Second Panel: “You must be famished!” And so Rex And Karen go off to smile over a meal which will pass Like music offstage, off to the mysterious pathos Of their exclamation marks, while in the final panel “Meanwhile, In The Lobby At City Hospital” A longjawed man paces furiously among The lamps, magazines, tables and tubular chairs. XII. Their Philistinism Dismissed But after all—what “cultural life” and what Furniture, what set of the face, would seem adequate For those who supply medicine for misery? After all, what they do is in a way a kind of art, And what writers have to say about music, or painters’ Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 10


Views about poetry, musicians’ taste in pictures, all Often are similarly hoked-up, dutiful, vulgar. After all, They are not gods or heroes, nor even priests chosen Apart from their own powers, but like artists are mere Experts dependent on their own wisdom, their own arts: Pilgrims in the world, journeymen, bourgeois savants, Gallant seekers and persistent sons, doomed To their cruel furniture and their season tickets As to skimped meditations and waxen odes. At first, Rex Morgan seems a perfect Pentheus— But he smirks, he is imperturbable, he understates; Understatement is the privilege of a god, we must Choose, we must find out which way to see them: Either the bland arrogance of the abrupt mountain god Or the man of the town doing his best, we must not Complain both that they are inhuman and too human. XIII. Their Despair I am quite sure that I have read somewhere That the rate of suicide among psychiatrists Is far higher than for any other profession. There are many myths to explain such things, things Which one reads and believes without believing Any one significance for them—as in this case, Which again reminds me of writers, who, I have read, Drink and become alcoholics and die of alcoholism In far greater numbers than other people. Symmetry suggests one myth, or significance: the drinking Of writers coming from too much concentration, In solitude, upon feelings expressed For or even about possibly indifferent people, people Who are absent or perhaps dead, or unborn; the suicide Of psychiatrists coming from too much attention, In most intimate contact, concentrated upon the feelings Of people toward whom one may feel indifferent, People who are certain, sooner or later, to die ... Or people about whom they care too much, after all? The significance of any life, of its misery and its end, Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 11


Is not absolute—that is the despair which Underlies their good sense, recycling their garbage, Voting, attending town-meetings, synagogues, churches, Weddings, contingent gatherings of all kinds. XIV. Their Speech, Compared With Wisdom And Poetry Terms of all kinds mellow with time, growing Arbitrary and rich as we call this man “neurotic” Or that man “a peacock.” The lore of psychiatrists— “Paranoid,” “Anal” and so on, if they still use Such terms—also passes into the status of old sayings: Water thinner than blood or under bridges; bridges Crossed in the future or burnt in the past. Or the terms Of myth, the phrases that well up in my mind: Two blind women and a blind little boy, running— Easier to cut thin air into planks with a saw And then drive nails into those planks of air, Than to evade those three, the blind harriers, The tireless blind women and the blind boy, pursuing For long years of my life, for long centuries of time. Concerning Justice, Fortune and Love I believe That there may be wisdom, but no science and few terms: Blind, and blinding, too. Hot in pursuit and flight, Justice, Fortune and Love demand the arts Of knowing and naming: and, yes, the psychiatrists, too, Patiently naming them. But all in pursuit and flight, two Blind women, tireless, and the blind little boy. XV. A Footnote Concerning Psychiatry Itself Having mentioned it, though it is not My subject here, I will say only that one Hopes it is good, and hopes that practicing it The psychiatrists who are my subject here Will respect the means, however pathetic, That precede them; that they respect the patient’s Own previous efforts, strategies, civilizations— Not only whatever it is that lets a man consciously Desire girls of sixteen (or less) on the street, Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 12


And not embrace them, et cetera, but everything that was There already: the restraints, and the other lawful Old culture of wine, women, et cetera. XVI. Generalizing, Just And Unjust As far as one can generalize, only a few Are not Jewish. Many, I have heard, grew up As an only child. Among many general charges Brought against them (smugness, obfuscation) Is a hard, venal quality. In truth, they do differ From most people in the special, tax-deductible status Of their services, an enviable privilege which brings Venality to the eye of the beholder, who feels With some justice that if to soothe misery Is a tax-deductible medical cost, then the lute-player, Waitress, and actor also deserve to offer Their services as tax-deductible; movies and TV Should be tax-deductible ... or nothing should; Such cash matters perhaps lead psychiatrists And others to buy what ought not to be sold: Seder Services at hotels; skill at games from paid lessons; Fast divorce; the winning side in a war seen On TV like cowboys or football—that is how much One can generalize: psychiatrists are as alike (and unlike) As cowboys. In fact, they are stock characters like cowboys: “Bette Davis, Claude Rains in Now, Voyager (1942), A sheltered spinster is brought out of her shell By her psychiatrist” and “Steven Boyd, Jack Hawkins In The Third Secret (1964), a psychoanalyst’s Daughter asks a patient to help her find her father’s Murderer.” Like a cowboy, the only child roams The lonely ranges and secret mesas of his genre. XVII. Their Patients As a rule, the patients I know do not pace Furiously, nor scream, nor shoot doctors. For them, To be a patient seems not altogether different From one’s interest in Ann Landers and her clients: Her virtue of taking it all on, answering Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 13


Any question (artificial insemination by grandpa; The barracuda of a girl who says that your glasses Make you look square) and her virtue of saying, Buster (or Dearie) stop complaining and do What you want ... and often that seems to be the point: After the glassware from Design Research, after A place on the Cape with Marimekko drapes, The superlative radio and shoes, comes The contingency tax—serious people, their capacity For mere hedonism fills up, one seems to need To perfect more complex ideas of desire, To overcome altruism in the technical sense, To learn to say no when you mean no and yes When you mean yes, a standard of cui bono, a standard Which, though it seems to be the inverse Of more Spartan or Christian codes, is no less Demanding in its call, inward in this case, to duty. It suggests a kind of league of men and women dedicated To their separate, inward duties, holding in common Only the most general standard, or no standard Other than valuing a sense of the conflict Among standards, a league recalling in its mutual Conflict and comfort the well-known fact that psychiatrists, Too, are the patients of other psychiatrists, Working dutifully—cui bono—at the inward standards. XVIII. The Mad Other patients are ill otherwise, and do Scream and pace and kill or worse; and that Should be recalled. Kit Smart, Hitler, The contemporary poets of lunacy—none of them Helps me to think of the mad otherwise Than in clichés too broad, the maenads And wild-eyed killers of the movies ... But perhaps lunacy feels something like a cliché, A desperate or sweet yielding to some broad, Mechanical simplification, a dispersal Of the unbearable into its crude fragments, Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 14


The distraction of a repeated gesture Or a compulsively hummed tune. Maybe It is not utterly different from chewing At one’s fingernails. For the psychiatrists It must come to seem ordinary, its causes And the causes of its relief, after all, No matter how remote and intricate, are no Stranger than life itself, which was born or caused Itself, once, as a kind of odor, a faint wreath Brewing where the radiant light from billions Of miles off strikes a faint broth from water Standing in rock; life born from the egg Of rock, and the egglike rock of death Are no more strange than this other life Which we name after the moon, lunatic Other-life ... housed, for the lucky ones, In McLean Hospital with its elegant, Prep-school atmosphere. When my friend Went in, we both tried to joke: “Karen,” I said, “You must be crazy to spend money and time In this place”—she gained weight, Made a chess-board, had a roommate Who introduced herself as the Virgin Mary, Referred to another patient: “Well, she must Be an interesting person, if she’s in here.” XIX. Peroration, Defining Happiness “I know not how it is, but certainly I Have never been more tired with any reading Than with dissertations upon happiness, Which seems not only to elude inquiry, But to cast unmerciful loads of clay And sand and husks and stubble Along the high-road of the inquirer. Even sound writers talk mostly in a drawling And dreaming way about it. He, Who hath given the best definition Of most things, hath given but an imperfect one, Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 15


Here, informing us that a happy life Is one without impediment to virtue .... In fact, hardly anything which we receive For truth is really and entirely so, Let it appear plain as it may, and let Its appeal be not only to the understanding, But to the senses; for our words do not follow The senses exactly; and it is by words We receive truth and express it.” So says Walter Savage Landor in his Imaginary Conversation between Sir Philip Sidney And Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, all three, In a sense, my own psychiatrists, shrinking The sense of contingency and confusion Itself to a few terms I can quote, ponder Or type: the idea of wisdom, itself, shrinks. XX. Peroration, Concerning Genius As to my own concerns, it seems odd, given The ideas many of us have about art, That so many writers, makers of films, Artists, all suitors of excellence and their own Genius, should consult psychiatrists, willing To risk that the doctor in curing The sickness should smooth away the cicatrice Of genius, too. But it is all bosh, the false Link between genius and sickness, Except perhaps as they were linked By the Old Man, addressing his class On the first day: “I know why you are here. You are here to laugh. You have heard of a crazy Old man who believes that Robert Bridges Was a good poet; who believes that Fulke Greville was a great poet, greater than Philip Sidney; who believes that Shakespeare’s Sonnets Are not all that they are cracked up to be .... Well, I will tell you something: I will tell you What this course is about. Sometime in the middle Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 16


Of the Eighteenth Century, along with the rise Of capitalism and scientific method, the logical Foundations of Western thought decayed and fell apart. When they fell apart, poets were left With emotions and experiences, and with no way To examine them. At this time, poets and men Of genius began to go mad. Gray went mad. Collins Went mad. Kit Smart was mad. William Blake surely Was a madman. Coleridge was a drug addict, with severe Depression. My friend Hart Crane died mad. My friend Ezra Pound is mad. But you will not go mad; you will grow up To become happy, sentimental old college professors, Because they were men of genius, and you Are not; and the ideas which were vital To them are mere amusement to you. I will not Go mad, because I have understood those ideas ....” He drank wine and smoked his pipe more than he should; In the end his doctors in order to prolong life Were forced to cut away most of his tongue. That was their business. As far as he was concerned Suffering was life’s penalty; wisdom armed one Against madness; speech was temporary; poetry was truth. XXI. Conclusion Essaying to distinguish these men and women, Who try to give medicine for misery, From the rest of us, I find I have failed To discover what essential statement could be made About psychiatrists that would not apply To all human beings, or what statement About all human beings would not apply Equally to psychiatrists. They, too, Consult psychiatrists. They try tentatively To understand, to find healing speech. They work For truth and for money. They are contingent ... They talk and talk ... they are, in the words Of a lute-player I met once who despised them, “Into machines” ... all true of all, so that it seems Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 17


That “psychiatrist” is a synonym for “human being,” Even in their prosperity which is perhaps Like their contingency merely more vivid than that Of lutanists, opticians, poets—all into Truth, into music, into yearning, suffering, Into elegant machines and luxuries, with caroling And kisses, with soft rich cloth and polished Substances, with cash, tennis and fine electronics, Liberty of lush and reverend places—goods And money in their contingency and spiritual Grace evoke the way we are all psychiatrists, All fumbling at so many millions of miles Per minute and so many dollars per hour Through the exploding or collapsing spaces Between stars, saying what we can.

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Czeslaw Milosz translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Robert Pinsky Incantation Human reason is beautiful and invincible. No bars, no barbed wire, no pulping of books, No sentence of banishment can prevail against it. It establishes the universal ideas in language, And guides our hand so we write Truth and Justice With capital letters, lie and oppression with small. It puts what should be above things as they are, Is an enemy of despair and a friend of hope. It does not know Jew from Greek or slave from master, Giving us the estate of the world to manage. It saves austere and transparent phrases From the filthy discord of tortured words. It says that everything is new under the sun, Opens the congealed fist of the past. Beautiful and very young are Philo-Sophia And poetry, her ally in the service of the good. As late as yesterday Nature celebrated their birth, The news was brought to the mountains by a unicorn and an echo. Their friendship will be glorious, their time has no limit. Their enemies have delivered themselves to destruction. Berkeley, 1968 Robert Pinsky’s most recent book of poems is At the Foundling Hospital. "Essay on Psychiatrists" is from Sadness and Happiness by Robert Pinsky. "Incantation" is from The Collected Poems 1931-1987 by Czeslaw Milosz.

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Emily Zogbi

SUMMER GHOSTS A man makes his pilgrimage towards the desert, brotherless, to see if there is any hope for a dying father. My family has a habit of seeing flickers in the dark, ghosts in mirrors & dreams & photographs. The night her mother died, my grandma saw her silent figure at the foot of her bed. I am watching my father watch his father become a shadow. I can’t help imagining the hall light, his weeping silhouette. All he needs to see is the ghost to know a tower has crumbled. Last I saw of my grandfather was his back charging into a Christmas night. The following year only made us colder. I’m trying to think of a new metaphor for death. I like the image of a carton of eggs jumping from the countertop. Yolk shell & membrane splattering across the kitchen floor & we clean up after it, sad about the breakfast it could have been, the clean plate it could have lived on. Still, we clean it. The floor shines with soap & water. The morning goes on. I’ve learned there is the person you were before they died & the person you are after--you, flipped around. Negative of yourself navigating a world in reflections, making sense of what remains if there is any sense to make of it. Long nights at the kitchen table. A cabin in the woods he built from empty land, now only a painting, but once belonged to summers of copper pennies & eggs, fresh as orange suns.

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BODY AS A BASKET: A FAMILY HISTORY She carries the dead boy on her back for 3 days before he falls like a sack of flour from her shoulders laid to rest at the base of a mountain. Arrives in Cuba with one dress, a pair of shoes, no funeral, dead brother somewhere back in Lebanon. Lone Mary, collapsable woman. Can you tell us where the bodies are? Can you tell me where the language went? Your son forgets the boy’s name. Carries a sound I’ve never heard. How do you say memory in Arabic? How do you say your own son’s name? ::: How can it be heritage if I don’t even know the sound it makes? How does your tongue break the water’s surface? Can a language vanish if a child is beaten long enough? Yes. A language can vanish easily if a child is beaten long enough. ::: All your children have died, Mary. My father carries your last boy Westward, finally, to rest across the desert’s back. Our language is that of the pallbearer. The troubled business of carrying.

::: Is the weight of a living brother different than that of a murdered one? We learn, family becomes heavier once they're dead. How do you say mourn — no — how do you say mountain in Arabic? When do fathers become moveable objects? When they forget your name or how to take their insulin. ::: My grandfather forgets our names but takes his insulin by muscle memory, tosses the needle on the counter for someone else to bury, devours every sweet thing he can catch in his fist. Where does trauma go to rest? At the bottom of a woven stomach. What color can any memory be but green? ::: The dying man says, The children kept asking me to kill them, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it. She goes into their bedroom to find his gun laid out on the bed, delicate as doll’s clothes. He tries to catch the fish, the flash of silver that slips from his hands and escapes downstream, again.

Emily Zogbi is a writer from Long Island. Her poetry has appeared in the Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Gandy Dancer, Chronogram and is forthcoming in Apricity Press. She wishes she had been a dancer.

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You Can’t Unring a Bell

Annmarie Lockhart

inspired by a free write word prompt by Meg Pokrass on Facebook I have this theory that maybe you enjoy playing with fire, humming past the sliding-scale burrito joint on the corner of Avenue A and 13th Street, whistling past the graveyard where the asteroids fell that first time you kissed me, my skittering heart, your burning lips. You nurse something between a smile and a sneer, asking me if I spit or swallow these days, flouting the memory that shadows us, leaving me a collapse of curly hair, lost to the taste of pepper in that sweet first kiss, the one you remember even better than I do. What do you think this is? I will not read this poem out loud. Nor will I let you read it in print or download it from the Cloud. It insists on telling all. I cannot say it’s not a lie. This is not a mirror. It’s the jagged edge of broken glass through which you might glimpse the pale outline of half a face. It might be you or me or someone we don’t know. This is not my story. It is the echo of a fight that happened first on a Tuesday night and replayed itself a thousand times with understudies. This is not my curtain call. I will not answer when you ask me if any of this is real. This is not a multiple-choice quiz. It is not a true-or-false exam. It is a free write. It is a testimony. This is not fiction. It is not memoir. It might be a fairy tale. But mostly, it is a poem. A poet once told me a poem is just a poem. Twilight Trail Can you tell the difference between sunrise and sunset? There’s a line that moves across the plane, a boundary that does not show on any map. It turns today into tomorrow and tomorrow into alchemy. There’s enough gold in a sunset to ring the fingers of every tree, enough violet to beatify the late-season snowdrops. Sunrise breaks the world open upon itself; sunset turns the lights out. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do you eat to live or live to eat? Meet me on the path of Hansel’s bread crumbs. I’ll hold the sky until you get here.

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Untouchable in response to the exquisite Baisteach/Rain, by Louis De Paor Under cover of salted lemon and red nail polish she walks, each step a mile of August heat borne on cricket wings. Her heirlooms: silver cheekbones and sea-glass eyes. Under her skin she treasures a skipping heart, a craving for groundfruit and contact. She didn’t ask to be untouchable nor unrooted, but still, she is here, stalking streets crowded with closed mouths and hidden hands, turning, turning, her hair a tumble of unread words, her aura the toss of uncaught pheromone. Across decades of rivers, light slides like tears down her unrecognized face, breaks like waves over her unmapped hips, cascades along her unfound bones, which bear the weight of a million floating memories and sleepless 100-year hopes. muse, postmortem you shouldn’t have killed her; all she ever wanted was to be taken Reach Fingers reach for hearts, rake the skin, comb through hair and grab the moment stealing the best berries and placing them between lips, the way a song buries itself inside your memories the way a gaze falls upon a smile and words bypass the voice, imploring fingers to extend from palm to palm, inviting another chapter to open. This poem is not about hands.

Annmarie Lockhart is the founding editor of vox poetica, an online poetry salon, and Unbound Content, an independent poetry press. A New Jersey resident, she lives and writes 2 miles east of the hospital where she was born. You can read her words in fine journals online and in print.

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Casanova Green Churching the Poem

If I could put a Hammond B3 wailing hard and trumpeting a ii-V-I backbeat behind these words, I bet you that you would stand and clap a syncopated beat that tells me you’re feeling something deep or beat a blessing into a Jesus praying hands tambourine as the choir squalls and barks these lines. If I could get a fire-baptized preacher to whoop and holler these words with neck veins pulsing, sweating like Jesus in Gethsemane, I know you would be the three-piece suited deacon walking up to him incredulously hollering a baritoned “Preach, Doc!’ or the young soprano in her puffy robe Chirping “You better say that!” If I could get a faith healer to whisper these words and then jolt you to Glory with a gentle touch, I know you would rest deep as you’re carried high and come back to Earth breathless in ecstatic wonder tear-streaked and unburdened by the cares of the world. But this is merely a poem. Yet it still prophecies and enlightens the murky minds of men. It doesn’t need an organ meanly tuned to A-flat and imagery is the seven-piece band playing fast and walking up and down twelve-tone chromatics. The words don’t need a growl or holler to be knife-sharp or sniper-accurate as they process pain, lecture love, and change us all.

Hard Reset

I’m frozen again-too overloaded from my life to process the files of stress and the anxiety applications clogging my memory stopping up the random access of my present task. I though my software was safe but a trojan horse rolled in full of old thoughts and habits and mucked up the motherboard. No antivirus can tame it and my firewalls are pocked with cyber-frozen sledgehammer holes. I have no choice but to submit-go back to square one, factory reset. Back to the old foundations, a second chance to be right again.

Casanova Green is a writer, singer/songwriter, educator, pastor, and traveling minister and worship leader. He is a 2010 graduate of Ohio Northern University with a BA in Language Arts Education with minor in voice and received a MFA in Creative Writing at the Etowah Valley Low-Residency MFA Program at Reinhardt University in Waleska, GA in 2018.He released his first album, A Worshiper Mentality, in January 2016. Casanova is a member of the Southern Collective Experience and has been published several publications including The Blue Mountain Review. He has done extensive ministry work since the age of nine and serves as the Lead Pastor of True Vision Christian Community in Lancaster, OH where he and his family reside.

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Gayle Compton Elvis The whole world’s gone crazy! Gone hog wild over Elvis Presley and that old sinful rock and roll! Daddy slams his big coal miner’s fist on the supper table sloshing red hot Krogers Spotlight coffee all over Mother’s new white table cloth priced at a dollar but knocked down to a quarter at the Abundant Tithings True Gospel Church of the Heaven Bound rummage sale mouth of Doc Bill. The whole world’s gone crazy and the baby lets go of the titty, bawling and showing his gums over this Elvis thing. Get it on your mind! That old Elvis singing about a hound dog, shaking that leg and girls screaming and passing out like a bunch of Pentecostals slain in the spirit. A truck driver from Mississippi in a jailbird suit, shaking that leg, curling that lip, just wants to be your Teddy Bear. Teddy Bear my Virgie, Kentucky, hind end! The world’s gone crazy, the world’s “all shook up.” The cat runs under the bed, the dog crawls under the porch. If I weren’t a God-fearing, blood-bought born again Christian I’d ask the Lord to paralyze that left leg stiffer than a fence post. Mark my words, the End is near. The old horny-headed devil is on the loose, wearing blue suede shoes and driving a pink Cadillac. Pour me another cup of that coffee, Avalene, and turn on the radio. I’ll show you what I mean.

Gayle Compton, a hillbilly from Eastern Kentucky, has worked in broadcasting and taught English at National College of Business. His prize-winning stories, poems and articles on the Appalachian experience have been published widely. He lives in Pike County with his wife Sharon.

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Gwennol Marie Returning Home You go West. You go North. You go East. Then, you go Home. Sand, dust, and Northern soil give way to Ultisol. Cottonwoods, Spruces, and Cherries turn to Pines. The Oaks’ fringe of Spanish Moss grazes the roof of your car. The pine needles and acorns crunch under your tires. The air is thickened, when you step out. Sticking to you, beading and causing your clothes to cling. You’re invited in. Given tea that isn’t sweetened as an afterthought. Your adventures are recounted and you realize. When you first start to talk, You don’t sound quite like yourself. Missing certain syllables, cutting some short. As those around you speak, you settle. You reclaim your voice with every “y’all” and “’course.” The smells of citronella and magnolias greet you ‘round back. The metal chairs lost their cushions in a hurricane. The heated seat stings a vicious burning. Only for a moment. You settle under the sun’s shine. You laugh and drink and realize, you’re Home.

Gwennol Marie is a twenty-one-year-old writer who grew up in Northeast Florida, is currently living in New Mexico, and is constantly missing the environment she grew up in. Recent changes in health have sparked her drive to write poetry and prose shamelessly, unconcerned by the traditional boundaries she was encouraged to follow in earlier attempts at writing.

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John Kaprielian

Detritus and Memories In the end all that is left of us is detritus and memories remnants of a million thoughtless choices and studied decisions Every matchbook and business card letter and greeting card pencil and pen, patch, sticker, and pin we chose to secrete in drawers and closets and shoeboxes never to be seen again by our own eyes but somehow too dear to simply throw away. Faded flowers and rusty knives the myriad bits that frame our lives totems to memories even we forget tiny monuments to life's regrets and mementos of its joys. There's too much left, a landfill of ghostly garbage painful to sort and to divide piles of "toss," "keep" and "sell" moistened by the tears we cried We are so unlike the whales that course the open sea singing and leaping feeding and breeding and then at the end sinking slowly to the sea floor to nurture a world in death that they rarely saw in life.

Flood Like a baptism it scours us to the bone and deeper yet peeling off our layers of artifice and vanity leaving bare walls slick with sin and tears. All goes into the dumpster except the most essential the core the critical the irreplicable. split open and left to dry like salmon staked around an alder fire in a boreal clearing. We are washed and exposed hurt and hung out our flaws and secrets flapping on the line for all to see. But we'll dry And we will piece together our lives Make our machines work again and get back to the hard work of existence.

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Postage Stamp Forest Not even a quarter acre it stood there all twenty four years we've lived in this house I'd like to imagine it hosted hawks and herons housed foxes and owls but in reality it likely sheltered feral cats or rats and raccoons ready to spring on errant garbage But I would look out onto the trees as I had my morning coffee and watch the birds fly in and out of the swaying branches the cool green soothing and peaceful This morning the machines started at eight o'clock noisily chewing the trees chipping the copse to make more lawn for children to play

When I was a child I played in the woods spent hours catching bugs frogs toads and salamanders learning all the plants foraging for berries The lawn was no fun at all just something to mow and rake and seed and re-seed and water fertilize degrub lime weed curse The gnawing continues with tenor chainsaws adding their droning rhythms oily smoke floats with the relentless noise and the forest thins tree by tree cool shade stabbed by hot knives of sun and I weep for my lost--

After graduating Cornell with an esoteric degree in Slavic Linguistics, John Kaprielian found work as a natural history photo editor, which he has been for over 30 years. He has been writing poetry for 35 years and in 2012 he challenged himself to write a poem a day for a year and in 2013 self-published the poems in a book, "366 Poems: My Year in Verse." He has also had poems published on The Five-Two Poetry Blog, Down in the Dirt Magazine, New Verse News, and Minute Magazine. His poetry ranges in subject matter from the natural world to current events and politics to introspective and philosophical themes. He lives in Putnam County, NY with his wife, teenage son, and assorted pets.

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Juan Arabia

A Hummingbird on the Bauhinia

Nature’s Dislodging

On the lowest branch of a bauhinia rests the aquamarine black. Enduring hummingbird… Purple, like edge’s pleasure, thirsty like harmful willow root:

Let’s go down together to feel the dislodging. Listen to the wind as it swells above the wheat: sharp metal war.

Nectar, Liquor, Hashish: like the origin of fire. In America flowers feed legions… Tadpole algae emerging, cricket shaking out its flags. The sun is a hermit, like corn, and the spot where silence’s bird sings. Enduring before iron, coal, pirate steamships, on the lowest branch of a bauhinia: Western slavery, rats. Here the hunting sounds sicken and die… the damp breeze emerging in circles of rebellion. On the lowest branch of a bauhinia rests the aquamarine black. Enduring hummingbird… Purple, like edge’s pleasure, thirsty like harmful willow root. B.A. City where I was born, dirty like a slave, listen: I left your streets like my ancestors left Europe, dazed by your warehouses and new neighborhoods… But I don’t look like a peasant: now I see that I want to destroy it all.

A silver racket rusts the living, splits up each and every thing that exists in the world. The first drops begin to fall. The fierce confederated storm takes root for always within the city walls. Ancient Blood Forests The ancient blood forests once more made new by the sun, and everything green and its sap, and the hollows blinded in the deep. All of them, now stirring, cast out the fossil. Mimic the Cwmdonkin Drive canary to turn the air to something whiter, purer, like a rabbit trace. The first sail furled to the mast bathed in ice salt cold, and the basins and their chains, and the dark ship’s entire crew. All of them, now joyful, plunge into the void. Remember the Albatross, the essential ballad. The first apple sack tossed to the bottomless well of old age. And all the nectar and its veins, and the wildwood fires. The ancient blood forests now stirring, unhinged, like the crow thrown from its cold nest in the deep enchanted night.

The inland feeds on your drunken boat. Just one purpose, just one determination: to get each of nature’s dislodgings back. Good and bad, by the root.

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Dislodging What did I say about the dislodging. If these cadavers float beneath the Puerto Madero sun breathing in life’s last leaves. The grave is wide open. The vast current drags along limitless fish: shads and chubs sleeping glide along the last dream. Some simply float, mimic the first finnings of infancy. Sunlight is a sword and on the wall of Jericho armored pigeons perch breathing in their breath. What did I say about the dislodging. If there’s nothing calm about this confinement. A carpet woven with moss and cadavers splits from the current, hiding hundreds of fish spewing out their greasy maggots. Water’s profile has eel eyes hungry and desperate. What did I say about the dislodging. If these cadavers float beneath the Puerto Madero sun breathing in life’s last leaves. The grave is wide open. [Poems translated by Katherine M. Hedeen] Juan Arabia (Buenos Aires, 1983) is a poet, translator and literary critic. In addition to publishing three books of poetry, he has written extensively on John Fante and the Beat Generation. He has translated Arthur Rimbaud, Ezra Pound, and a book-length anthology of Beat poets, among many others. He is the founder and director of the literary journal and press Buenos Aires Poetry. Katherine M. Hedeen is the NEH Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor of Spanish at Kenyon College. She specializes in Latin American poetry and has researched and translated numerous contemporary authors from the region. Her translations appear extensively in prestigious American and British literary journals. She is an associate editor of Earthwork’s Latin American Poetry in Translation Series for Salt Publishing.

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Laura Sobbott Ross Lake County A heightened green, the eased inclines, an earth too damp to echo; your words are safe here— this horizon’s seamless: horse, orchard, fence, palm tree; cumulus clouds so close you’ll witness their sticky lint inflections. I think exile, and I don’t know why. Who knew stillness could be this porous, this immune to the leaching pitch of cicada? Strawberries blister in being. Gopher turtles tunneling in and out. In the nurseries, orchids so intricate they seem to have been plucked from beneath the skin, tweezered right out of the blood. Don’t touch them with your bare fingers. Each exquisite intrusion of stamen & sepal held up to the light and inhaled back inside through the lungs— pleural membranes, alveoli, follicle and inflorescence; humid things that need no roots, so little light to breathe. Axis This county’s rich with convocations. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s what happens at the stem point— a reckoning, let’s say: nothing less than instinct meets momentum— the combustive itch of fruit and flower. Millions of tiny corpuscles rattle the air with pollens. This atmosphere’s wet, full of ears and orbs, another pretty little thing’s undoing. Don’t we have hothouses for this? Tipped barrels of mist for the un-hushed furls, fingers to comb and appease them. You can buy orchids at our convenience stores. Our trees slough away their singular green season each January; a confetti stiff in the storm drains. Last season was a sweet one: raintree tangelo camellia strawberry jasmine. We pick blackberries while the farmer tells us how his red tabby dropped from the sky as a kitten that squirmed loose from an owl’s talons. Can’t hunger be such a damn lucky thing, I whisper, my fingers stained purple and hunting through the succulence and the thorns.

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Fairy Tale, America Oranges roll through fingers like rosary beads. They say everything is bigger here, after all. Even the promises of the saints. Those are peacocks you hear at the edge of the sand pines. Some people think it sounds like they are crying for help; the kitten croon of something fanged, I once thought before I witnessed the hedge of teal eyes. Is there a princess sleeping somewhere in this kingdom of kudzu, the apple still lodged in her throat, her fingertip curled beneath a bead of blood? Sing out, oh, spinning wheel and needle. Sing, golden flax and white horse and all you who labor in these fields! By the time the sphinx moth caterpillars shudder into their hummingbird wings, you will already be on your way north to Georgia or Carolina. They steal honey from the bees, it’s been said about the sphinx moths, tongues unfurling across a hovered valley for just a taste. Jawing on these new vowels (there are twice as many here!) young Rodrigo tells me he grew up without electricity at the edge of a mountain in Guanajuato. The darkness, a clarity he’s grateful to have known. America, a dream so blinding, its neon hisses and snaps across a latitude, hard as a skull bone. The stars, cactus thorns where wishes bloom confetti-bright without expectation. Even now, a praying mantis on a blade of palmetto tilts its head from east to west as if it could catch every angle of this horizon inside the honeycomb of its eyes.

I’ve worked as a teacher and a writing coach for Lake County Schools and was recently named poet laureate for the Lake County Library Systems. My poetry has appeared in many journals including Blackbird, Meridian, and 32 Poems. I was a finalist for the Art & Letters Poetry Prize and won the Southern Humanities Auburn Witness Poetry Prize. My poetry chapbooks are A Tiny Hunger and My Mississippi. A third book, The Graffiti of Pompeii, is forthcoming this year.

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Matthew David Campbell

●●●●●●●●●●●● ●●●●● Peregrine Falcon Peregrine falcon rules the blue and cotton sky up Delaware River waters, as I wade the current softly, neck deep, as the hungry bank descends into September waters: the death crow zip-lines by-the grace of some unknown dark-shadow from eons ago, East bank to West, screaming the crow-caw out loud, through a deeply deciduous canopy…cawing to the absurd, in an ancient curvature up the side of glacial angles and turns, as I maintain myself from bursting in the waters of Pennsylvania and New Jersey that meander the globe together, like one soul, within many, but merely molecules, eroding myself from myself, like beads rolling down stairs, as the crow’s feet that stamp my eyes, with the footprint of a dark bird of yore, rules my view of the world.

●●●●● ●●●●●●●●●●●● Matthew David Campbell (Poetry Reader) is the author of the poetry collection, Harmonious Anarchy (Weasel Press 2016), and the chapbook The House of Eros (Red Ferret Press 2015). His poems have appeared in Tight, Spires, Forklift Ohio, and the anthologies, The Brink: Post Modern Poetry from 1965 to the Present and Nuclear Impact: Broken Atoms in Our Hands, and How Well you Walk Through Madness. He holds an MFA from Bennington College and serves on the poetry staff at The Tishman Reviw. https://www.pw.org/content/matthew_campbell

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Sarah Anne Shope On the Mason Dixon Line Wall to wall we filled one side of a duplex throughout seasons and holidays, deaths and births, with fury and passion, on a street with a cannon on the corner; we filled that space with secrets, deceits and stories: stories of his North, tales of her South, and accounts of those battles with glorious endings that’d pounded our locale some hundred years past. They went to work, we went to school, and we returned daily to consume that space: kitchen with its simple table and chairs, dining room of rich mahogany, living room that finally found television, three bedrooms playing musical chairs as we grew, and the attic, yes that fusty musty hideaway attic, and the basement—a dug-out space, making heat, storing tools, where he built fire in the furnace from piles of wood and coal, where she pressed the wringer washer to make ends meet. She up from the poor South and he over from the Old Brethren, they’d fallen in love and stayed in that state in a time of civil defense, in a state once divided yet a home that remained whole as the air filled with our own comings and goings; years streamed by with childish revolts, sorrows, submissions, dreams, aims, and triumphs yet events nurtured a resolve to move on, and now it is all gone—it seeped into those walls, through floor boards and up to an attic where it all resides now in veiled crevasses of my mind and tangled conduits of my heart. Though I’d sprung from the soil of battles Antietam, Gettysburg, where they wore blue and gray, I never knew the whys and wherefores of war nor its cost until I moved away coast to coast and north to south; there are still memories of all those deep-rooted skirmishes though now it appears the Old Line is fading. I never dreamed war would again come so close nor that good and bad folk are much the same.

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She is Gentle Rain

Theology An uncle once told me angels sit on the four corners of the earth, and I try to imagine that; when I look into the eyes of my cat I know why we needn’t use words— she can see my thoughts. Yet had she taken up tracing which are good and which are evil she too would be tossed from her peace in paradise.

Gentle rain soon turns to bitter cold drops beating the ground with fury as I let her ashes sift through my fingers and return to the earth, my dog devotedly heeling at my right side. In a tender moment of her final day, She had asked would I be okay. Would I be okay? A strange question from the one passing to the one who has to stay. That last night, in her round of morphine ease and through to the break of day to her final cleaning, I doubted I would be okay. Yet now rivulets turned torrents sweep the mud into gullies around my house, as my dog and I walk her ashes in the hard rain, and because she’d asked would I be okay I am assured to survive this cavernous pain.

Sarah Anne Shope is an educator and writer, but more so she is a consumer of all forms of story. Her credentials include: MA in Professional Writing, MS Education TESOL, and PhD in Education. She is currently participating in a at Harvard University graduate program in teaching poetry. Her writing credits include short story in The South Carolina Review; prose in Palo Alto Review; and poetry in Montserrat Review, Witness, Sanctuary and The Christian Science Monitor. She taught creative writing at The Margaret Mitchell House, and currently teaches in academia. She created and facilitates the Global TESOL Program at UGA.

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Sarah McCann Unencumberment The old sow's ear finally fell off smack into the trough. On the last rounds of the evening farm, the candle's curds disturbed first my finger, then back of hand, most gentle skin, then the drinkpool's surface. Sure enough, floating like gnats hung halfway down a web; a pendant found in a spark of lightning, lost in puddle— a broken-down ear— eaten pipe under the sink, tree hole rusted clean tirelessly by fire ants, the number seven with its awful V open to storming until it's drowned, some faithful dumb turtle amazed by rain. Hurricane Day We can all make marks in the dirt. I watch your same moon as mine, gasping under fastest clouds, an island away. Plan to stay up late tonight. A lot of unusual stuff going on around tonight’s weather: rip tides… sustained… moon… winds and seas… navigating… evacuation…

The sow's sleeping now, indoors, having supped. Ear really lost long ago, no more important than an apple as windfall, or a boat aft in bow out of the marsh years now, lightbulb with scarred filament brown ash— this ear was nothing but trash— she is terribly free.

And the storm’s heat has since unhoused the snakes. Where you put your feet, there is broken glass and you can get used to that. Moving a frame from the right heap to the left heap. A can it seems two hands have wrenched apart, tomatoes awash, amush. The guitar, though, still has strings. The flag somehow survived. Nothing that we need. We have nothing that we need. I call the children from the bloody-handed parents. We crouch, and I show them how we don’t need books to learn.

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In Hunting Season

They string up deer from any oak or birch like paper lanterns— unbending, but blown by traffic. Empty of their cords and organs, ribs the only shadows of a solid body once all shadow. Stiff sun off the snow lights up these deer shells, flapping flags, husks. Nile-source Arabians are advertised at the farm down Walker Mountain Road. The sign ancient temperature-curved, its own rotting papyrus. A smooth, cat-like horse lined with indigo sails on the thin wood’s grains. I hike to the suspended bridge on part of the Long Trail. Mist corrupts the view, the stream swallowed, only left to look up. When winds once flew through this ravine, the bridge swung free and a man fell onto the stones below. His friends could not see him, a fog sitting on their eyes. Here is a trail— sharp, two point— edged in and out of the snow along the creek’s side. The tracks sewn scarlet— pricks and iced rounds as if the ground were beaten. The blood stays berry-red, a frozen joining of the outside and the inside. I find three mice, each the size of two thumbnails, and a frenzied mother in a cloth suitcase, white with mildew. They have shredded an old address book for a nest, numbers scattered to sleep in.

Sarah McCann has been a Writing Fellow at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and has worked around the world. She has been published and has work forthcoming in such journals as The Bennington Review, Margie, The Broken Bridge Review, Midway Journal, The South Dakota Review and Hanging Loose. Her poetry has also appeared in Thom Tammaro’s anthology, Visiting Frost: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Robert Frost and an anthology from the Academy of American Poets, New Voices. Her translations from Modern Greek into English have been recognized by the Fulbright Foundation with a grant and published in such anthologies and journals as Austerity Measures, Words Without Borders, Poetry International, and World Literature Today. She has also had the pleasure to edit a collection of poetry from the late American poet Robert Lax, Tertium Quid, and a book of her translations of the Greek poet Maria Laina was recently published by World Poetry Books.

I need to remember mothballs and poison from the store.

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T. C. Carter

- 1918 The young boys march away to war To the sound of fife and drum The reaper silent dark and grim Also does blithely come The war for now is an ethereal thing Dreams of medals upon their chests Parades and glory and victory songs When they have yet to stand the test They are the young, the brave, the true Appetites of life still forming in their breasts Who fight a war, they know not why And pay the price of the scarcely blessed They have yet to lie in muddy trenches Feel the earth beneath them rise and fall See their comrades torn and lifeless Gone to heed the master’s call They have yet to shed all modesty That yields to human needs Yet to shed their youthful plans Or question all they once believed They do not know how dearly they will love The boys who share their fear When bombs explode the childish thoughts Of things they once held dear

Many go to die a virgin’s death These boys with downy hair upon their chin Who fall like wheat before the scythe Before they live as full grown men Other boys of another tongue In craters and trenches close at hand Pray and cry and kill and die In the hell of no man’s land Oh, these boys who could be friends In another time and place If they could grasp each other’s hand And see each other’s face If they could share their dreams and hopes And talk about their past And find the things that link their souls To make them friends at last Damn this war that yields only death And fills the earth with blood and bone That rips these boys from life and love Before they could be fully grown Damn this war Damn the greed Damn the hate God save the boys that bleed

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SCARS Grief doesn’t supply an appetite He should eat something But does not The smell of food at the fellowship hall Made him nauseous He needed to get some fresh air Found himself slowly walking Back to the gravesite It had been a nice service A good message by the preacher Family and friends had things to say At the graveside Memories to share Stories to tell Back at the fellowship hall Clusters of people talked About everything and nothing Acutely aware of their own mortality Bittersweet laughter mingled With muted voices A cigarette sounded good But he hadn’t smoked in twenty years Had picked up the habit in Nam Been a two-pack a day man So had Frankie But it was Agent Orange that killed him The grave was just beyond The next gentle rise in the landscape He stopped at the crest And leaned against a live oak tree Watched the workmen Busy with their shovels Listened to the dull thud Of earth on mahogany The wounded ground being healed But the scar would always be there He felt the soft touch Of moisture on his face The kind that seems to float on air Wetting the eye of the earth But withholding the flood of tears From the heavens The kind that cools the skin But not the deep burning loss Of someone you love He smiled, thinking of Frankie With Jesus Even so, he missed his old friend Felt the fresh, open wound in his heart That he hoped would heal in time But he knew the scar would always be there

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NEVER BE THE COWBOY He can never be the cowboy He writes about in rhyme It’s too late to start all over And he’s way too short of time What cowboy lives in a neighborhood Where houses fence him in And strangers live beside him Where the prairie should begin What cowboy drives by horses In small pastures by the road Knowing he will not be riding Where these horses have abode What cowboy wears the hat and boots Who doesn’t own a mount Or do the work a cowboy does In places where it counts What cowboy seldom sees the stars Because of lights put up on poles Never sits around a campfire To watch the fire burn down to coals What cowboy never sees the sunrise Painting pictures in the sky While thanking God for blessing him And never really knowing why But yet he writes about the cowboys And old times in western land He lives it all inside his head And writes it down the best he can But he can never be the cowboy He writes about in words Or ride those open prairies With the longhorn cattle herds He’ll have to be contented With adventures in his mind And the ghosts of long gone cowboys That he writes about in rhyme T. C. Carter is best known as The Cowboy Poet, but he has two other favored genres, those being military themes, and southern life as he knew it growing up in the forties and fifties. Then there is a fourth body of work he simply labels “other stuff.” He prefers live readings over any other form of expression, but his work can be seen in publications such as Hobo Camp Review, The Blue Mountain Review, County Lines and others. He occasionally posts videos and audios online. He is a long-standing member of The Southern Collective Experience, a recent member of the Johnston County Writers Group and is in the process of forming a new open mic group.

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William Waters

After life A Thing, Not an Idea Her smell on my skin, a thing not an idea— nothing as contorted as love, but an acci dent of atoms continuing.

When I found that bird I turned it over and was surprised I thought it was alive; those maggots moving like its heart. Contradictions Let us each remain a way; you the wheel that grinds the steel sharp; I the steel that cuts the wheel round; let us each remain a part.

William Waters is an associate professor, in the Department of English at the University of Houston Downtown. Along with Sonja Foss, he is coauthor of Destination Dissertation: A Traveler’s Guide to a Done Dissertation. His research and teaching interests are in writing theory and modern grammar. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 41


Prose Ana Vidosavljevic The River I twined through the valley escaping endlessly the mountains and snow and searching for the warm breeze and birds’ song. My whirlpools became calmer, less angry and less hazardous. I had to leave my aquamarine dress in the mountains, one of my most beautiful garments, and put on my dark green skirt. Even though not that pretty, it was neat and clean. Once I reached the valley and the village of Cassino, I walked slowly. My pace slowed down and I looked around at the small wooden houses with tall roofs that protected them from snow and storms in winter time. Those small houses and tall roofs withheld stoically weather quirks and mischiefs. And they were the pillar of Cassino’s beauty. Children played in the field next to the church while the church bell tolled. Maybe someone had died, or it was time for Mass. Or maybe a baby was born. I looked carefully and watched people gather in the church yard. The priest was in the middle encircled by the curious faces of the villagers. They swarmed and waited for something. I wanted to know what they were waiting for. Therefore, I sent one of my curlews to go closer to the church and the group of people gathered in its yard and spy on them and their talks. My curlew cheerfully approached the gathering point and wandered around, but then, something strange happened. The priest’s gestures were fretful and panicky. He talked to the people with some strange fear in his eyes. And people looked at him puzzled, flabbergasted and full of anxiety. And that anxiety rose high, high to the clouds. Those clouds scattered over the village. They became numerous and ominous. And they threatened to burst and destroy everything that was below them. The strange noise filled the air. It was the noise that was building up with every new second. It slyly filled every inch of the air and the worried faces of the villagers turned up toward the sky. “Planes, planes, bombs…” The whisper turned into the panic that left no one calm. The people started running off in all directions without a clue where to hide and what could be their shelter. There was no shelter from the sinister dark birds that were approaching at high speed. They seemed to take over the control of the sky and left it numb and insensible. Once these perilous birds were right above Cassino, they threw away the heavy balls they carried in their beaks and those balls caused a disaster. Within minutes, the serene village in the valley became the burning maddening mess. The whole village and the whole valley were in a shambles. Fire, smoke, dead people, destroyed houses. That was the scenery I had never seen before or thought I would see. The deadly havoc, widespread destruction, ruins and chaos painfully filled my eyesight. And I cried. I cried loudly and for a long time. But no one heard me. All people in Cassino were dead. My heart was broken and I was trembling with sorrow. Even the sky got back to its sense and started shredding giant tears. But once the reality kicked me and I realized what a devastation had occurred, I decided

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to go back to the mountains. The next year I had no strength and will to go back to Cassino village again. There was nothing and no one left there anyway. And my heartbroken feeling let me abandon the village and the valley for a year. The drought took over and dried every corner of otherwise splendid valley. It was not pretty and green anymore. It was sad, ugly, ruined and shriveled. However, my guilty conscience bothered me and I knew it was not fair to turn my back on Cassino and its valley. They needed me. They needed my green waters and I knew that if I didn’t go back there the process of its healing would take longer. Therefore, I discarded my beautiful aquamarine dress, left the mountains and, in a plain dark green skirt, descended to the valley and Cassino. There were some people, probably cousins and friends of those who had died in the unfortunate villainous birds’ attack. They were trying to remove the ruins and clean the chaos that was left behind that terrible event. I watched them and gave them solace in my waters. They worked hard during the whole day and once they got very tired, they made a break and swam in my waters. It made me cheerful and I promised myself never to let down Cassino and the valley again. Many years went by. Cassino still had scars of that terrible attack. However, those scars seemed to be healing slowly. The village was alive again, and those cousins and friends who had abandoned it a long time ago, before the birds’ attack, came back. They built the monuments and statues to honor those who had died. Those memorials would always be a reminder of the malevolence that had once happened here. And everyone would reflect on them with a sadness in their hearts. But hopefully, neither I or anyone else would ever witness those kind of unsettling events that killed many and caused an overwhelming shock and grief to many others. I still keep going back to Cassino and the valley, and I will never abandon them again. They like me and enjoy my waters, and seeing their joy fills my heart with delight.

Ana Vidosavljevic from Serbia currently living in Indonesia. She has her work published or forthcoming in Down in the Dirt (Scar Publications), Literary Yard, RYL (Refresh Your Life), The Caterpillar, The Curlew, Eskimo Pie, Coldnoon, Perspectives, Indiana Voice Journal, The Raven Chronicles, Setu Bilingual Journal, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Madcap Review, The Bookends Review, Gimmick Press, (mac)ro(mic), Scarlet Leaf Review, Adelaide Literary Magazine, A New Ulster. Her very first collection of short stories Mermaids will be published by Adelaide Books.

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Andrew K. Clark The Day Thief | A Novel | Chapter 1

Leo tried to stop the forward momentum of his ax when he caught a flash of white in the trees, out of the corner of his eye, something rushing toward him from the woods. His ax had been overhead in mid-swing, so when he tried to stay it, his body twisted, his feet shuffling about to find their footing, the arc of the ax blade bowing out before he caught it, just inches from his boot. Gaining his balance he looked up to see the widow, glowing in the low light of dusk, waving her hands above her head. “You got to knock off for the night Leo, you done lost the light.” As the day grew long Leo had strained to see the log pieces he was working to split into smaller and smaller pieces, whittling them down until they were light enough for the widow to carry in from her back porch to the wood stove inside. “Yes ma’am.” “You ought to have stopped a long time ago, looks like,” she said, her hand on her hip. “Leo, you sure are a good helper,” she said. “I can’t split kindling no more. It ain’t wise for me to swing an ax at my age and on account of my hip.” The widow often recounted the story of how she broke her hip, of how she had slipped off of her back porch on a frosty morning, flailing like an insect on her back for hours, praying to Christ Jesus, that he would come down and help her up. The idea that you could break a hip had perplexed Leo. Breaking an arm or leg made sense; he knew a kid who broke his leg when he fell off of the rope swing out over a creek and hit a rock, but hips looked too stout to be fragile things, especially on the widow. “Nobody ought to keep working past dark,” she said, looking up and into the trees for a long time, as if she expected to find something there in the forming shadows. The widow spit and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. Leo began piling up the split pieces to carry to the widow’s back porch. He stacked the unfinished pieces in a separate pile to tend to in the next day or so, depending on what chores mama had planned around the house. The widow’s eyes fixed on Leo, but she did not see him. “Reckon you heard about what happened to that Davis boy, ain’t you?” Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 44


“No ma’am,” Leo answered. “Well, he was cutting down a tree near dark, off by hisself, deep in the woods just over that ridge yonder. He was driving a wedge into the trunk and somehow when he hit it with his go devil it turnt into his thigh.” Leo pictured the Davis boy’s face. He’d been at the funeral, but hadn’t remembered how the boy died. “Some said he couldn’t have lived more than a few minutes on account of the size of the wound,” the widow said, and spit again, her cheek poked out full of snuff like a squirrel’s stuffed with acorns. The wind began to stir the leaves on the ground around them. “You best be getting home, boy,” the widow said. “I got your money in my change purse, you come on up to the house now and bring a load of that kindling. Maybe you can make it home ‘fore dark takes over.” “You ain’t got to pay me,” Leo said. The widow squinted her eyes. Leo said, “I don’t mind none.” The widow shook her head. “I hired you to split kindling, didn’t I? Of course I’ll pay you a wage for your trouble.” Leo had heard church folk say that Christians were supposed to take care of widows and orphans. After Leo stacked the kindling neatly on the porch, the widow pressed three quarters into the palm of his hand. Leo felt guilty taking the money but loved the feel of the coins in his pocket. There was a certain weight to a quarter that he could not get enough of. As he turned to leave, the widow spoke. “Are you going home by way of the road, or will you take Dog Leg?” A chill worked its way up Leo’s spine at the possibility of taking the short cut known as Dog Leg Gap after dark. “I don’t know, I ain’t thought on it.” The widow rubbed her chin. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 45


“It’s a hard choice, ain’t it? One way has the light of the farmhouses ever so often, but it will take you a lot longer. The other will only take half as long but it is deep through the woods where there ain’t no houses, no light ‘cept what God gives you by way of the moon.” Leo nodded. “Well, whichever way you go, wherever you go in this world, the good Lord Jesus‘ll watch over you, and that’s all you got to reckon.” Leo nodded and forced a half smile. “Leo, if you take Dog Leg Gap, do me a favor and a watch out for them wild boar hogs.” “Boar hogs?” “There’s been a few of them wild hogs about, got into my root cellar the other night. I tried to run ‘em off by shooting my shotgun, but them are stubborn creatures. They got sharp tusks you got to watch out for. They ain’t like them domesticated hogs that make good eating, the kind that will roll over and let you rub their bellies.” “Yes ma’am.” “You see a pack of them hogs, you shimmy on up a tree and just let ‘em pass on by,” the widow said. She pursed her lips together. “You get stuck by one of them pigs and you’ll bleed out like that Davis boy.” “Yes ma’am.” “Some say it was wild hogs that got a hold of that Davis boy, Leo. Something gnawed the meat off his bones after he was dead.” Leo tried to swallow, his mouth full of cotton. “But if you know Jesus, son, ain’t nothing to be scared of. I don’t believe that Davis boy was right with God. No, not at all.” “Yes ma’am.” *** As the light from the widow’s house dimmed, Leo paused in the middle of the dirt road. He stared at the trail to Dog Leg Gap that veered up over the ridge, climbing deep into the woods. If he took the shortcut, his trip home would take half as long, but the world is growing dark. If he stayed on the road there are houses along the way, with lamps in most of the windows. On the trail there are no Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 46


houses, and when the clouds scurry across the face of the moon, the mountains fall into darkness. He remembered words his daddy said, long before he was sent off to the penitentiary: If you ever seen a monster, boy, best thing you can do is walk right up to it and look it in the eye. It ain’t do no good to run. Daddy had held him by his shoulders, his long fingers pressed so hard they burned like hot pokers pulled from the fire. He shook Leo and asked again: If you seen a monster, boy, what’ll you do? Leo had hesitated, and his daddy slapped his face hard. Daddy shook him again, the whites of his wide-set eyes streaked with blood vessels, the way they got when he’d been drinking. Daddy spoke through clenched teeth. If you ever seen a ghost, what’ll you do boy? Leo hesitated a second time, felt the slap come faster now, harder. Daddy smelled of sweat and onions. I said, if you seen a monster, what will you do, goddamnit? Leo tasted the blood spreading over his tongue. He answered through his teeth. “If I seen a monster, daddy, I’ll walk right up and look him dead in the eye.” That’s right boy, that’s right. I’ll make a man out of you yet. I’ll beat the soft out of you! To take the trail was to walk up to the monster, to look it in the eye, to say, I ain’t afraid. But Leo was afraid. He pictured wild animals along the trail. There might be bear or coyote, and you wouldn’t be able to see them in the dark. Hearing about the boars made Leo think about Pastor Harmon’s sermon about how Jesus cast demons out of a man and into swine. Leo pictured the boars growing twisted devil horns, as Jesus ran them headlong into the water to drown. Leo’s hair stood up on the back of his neck. He turned and looked into the woods. He saw shadows that stretched their bodies out like dancing ghosts with long bony fingers, as clouds moved to shroud the moon. He looked back toward the widow’s. The lamplight in the window was comfort. For a moment he was sure he would take the road, stay close to the light, but when the moon came back into view, his courage returned. Leo sprinted up the bank onto the trail. As he walked he held out his hands to pet the trees. The trees were old friends and he loved the way the bark felt under his fingertips. Many a night they had kept him on the right path, and now they helped him keep his footing as his toes tested root and rock. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 47


The fall moon was a warm orange despite the cold. Leo froze when the clouds eclipsed the moon, painting the world an inky black. That’s when he heard it: a sound off to his right. Something moved through the crunchy leaves. When the moon peered back out and the world was bright again, Leo craned his neck but heard nothing. As Leo walked, he heard the sound again: something crawling slowly over the leaves, something big. He stood still and his heart began to hammer in his chest. Leo pictured huge demon swine with tusks, working their noses, picking up his scent. They whispered to him like they did to Jesus: I am Legion. Leo pictured a pack of the beasts shuffling toward him. He thought about running, but what if this would alert the beasts to his presence? He held his breath. Was it coyote? It sounded way too big and coyote were known to cackle to each other to signal their location. Maybe it was a sow foraging before her long winter nap? He retraced his steps. He calculated how long it would take him to get back to the road and take the safe way home. He knew it would put him home so late he would catch the switch. He decided to press on. When he heard the sound again he was in midstride. He held his foot in the air, worried that it might make too much noise if it landed on the leaves. Soon his leg began to ache and he leaned his body against a tree to get relief. Sliding off of the tree Leo fell to the ground making a loud thud as if the earth below him were hollow. The boy laid there, his heart thumping. Now it knew where he was; if it had been a mile away it would know where he was. He craned his neck, listening. The beast did not move. Slowly Leo shuffled to his feet. He tilted his head and listened again. Nothing. Maybe the beast has moved on? As Leo walked the earth began to slope downward. He could see the trees opening up ahead. Thin slivers of moonlight lit up the valley and the boy could see that the trail snaked right along the edge of a clearing. The rustle came again, louder. Daddy said if a man didn’t face whatever scared him, he’d be sure to lose his mind. Being fourteen, Leo thought, he was practically a man and he ought not be afraid of his own shadow. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a thin pocketknife. He unfolded the blade, feeling the wood on one side of the handle and where the wood was missing on other side the steel felt as smooth as glass.

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He crept along the trail toward the clearing and he could hear the beasts’ heavy feet in the leaves. Just on the other side of the thicket from where he stood, he knew he would find them waiting for him. Holding his pocketknife out in front of him, he pushed through and saw them. Rabbits. It was bunny rabbits! There were a dozen little brown rabbits with little white sock feet shuffling along in the clearing, pushing the leaves along as they went. Leo smiled. Leo folded up his pocketknife and walked out into the middle of the field, afraid that any sudden movement would scare the rabbits away. The rabbits bounded over to him and sniffed his hand-me-down boots. Soon more of them appeared at the edge of the woods and hopped out onto the grass, which was unseasonably green. As the boy looked around there were now dozens of rabbits, and more appearing in the trees. Leo sat down and crossed his legs in the grass watching the rabbits. He could not remember seeing anything so beautiful. There were hundreds of them now, soft shifting brown mounds of fur and bouncing floppy ears. Looking up at the sky, Leo saw that the clouds had fled, leaving the moon even brighter than before. The wind stopped blowing and the boy felt warm all over. After a few minutes, Leo thought of the time. He knew he had to get moving. Reluctantly he stood to leave. As he turned, something flickered white at the corner of the field. At the edge of the forest, behind the first line of trees he could see a man wearing white. Was it a man? The figure moved so gracefully it seemed to float. As Leo watched, the figure bent over and down onto all fours, beginning to move more quickly through the trees. Soon it looked like a big white beast, and as it turned to look toward Leo, he could see the head of a large white wolf. Leo wasn’t scared. He watched the wolf turn and run through the woods, its fur glowing soft like the stars behind the trees. As the wolf disappeared, Leo turned and walked back to the trail. He stopped at the edge of the clearing and stared back at the rabbits. He could not stop smiling.

Andrew K. Clark is a writer and poet whose work has appeared recently in Out of Anonymity – The UCLA Writing Project, Good Juju, Zingara, and NO:1 journals. His book of poetry, Jesus in the Trailer, will be published in early 2019 by Main Street Rag Press and was short-listed in the 2018 Able Muse Book Award. He is the recipient of the Georgia Southern University Roy F. Powell Creative Writing Award. He grew up in the small town of Alexander, North Carolina, outside of Asheville. His forthcoming book, The Day Thief, is a novel of magical realism set in 1920s Appalachia. Connect with Andrew at andrewkclark.com.

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Gerald Weaver

By Way of Disappearing I was never so much good at explaining things the way Carl is. He can talk a trip to the grocery into a carnival ride. This isn’t a trip to the store neither. And Carl is there, passed out in the back. Still, I kind of hear him in my head even though it seems he might be about to overdose. I got to get him to the hospital. He used to say some crazy stuff about addiction, the kind that would get me all turned around in my own thinking. He was always like that. Growing up, people took him for a wizard, saying he was a seventh son or something. But he was just so smart and figured out things so well that even when he was in high school the grown-ups would talk to him when they were sick, like he was a lay healer. He could tell them whether they needed to spend the money and time to drive to the hospital in town. Or he would tell them they could fix it up on their own at home. He was real smart and that meant he took chances like that. I figured he knew health like it was common sense, like he knew a lot of things. That is kind of how we got here now, to this place, in the car, driving to the hospital. He would tell it different though. He would say, “Micah, do you or I know how much wisdom or poetry has come out of addiction? I mean, doesn’t it seem like a lot of insight and sensitivity come out of it? I really don’t know, but it sure seems like that ought to be the compensation for all the heavy price we pay. I think the drug addicted person may know more than the healthy one. Maybe he knows more about the meaning of things, or maybe he is more perceptive. Sometimes I think the drugs make me clairvoyant or something. I think that the problems I have are what I am being charged for the wisdom I gain.” I only partly ever understand him even though he is my younger brother, like I can lay a level on him sometimes and it’s half a bubble off. I think I understand him better than Brandi May, who is there in the back seat with him. I am not sure what their story is. She is skinny as a stick and can bend like one too, without breaking. I don’t think she gets any wisdom out of those drugs they do. She could not hold it in that wiry frame of hers anyway. And it all would come spilling out that smart mouth. She can hardly keep a secret and she uses secrets like weapons the very first second it occurs to her. Like that time when she lit into Carl’s wife about that old Muslim man that they lured up into the hollow two years ago. I don’t know what happened to him and I am sure that Carl never did anything. He doesn’t have it in him. All I know is that Brandi May and Carl were in good supply with the oxy for a while. Carl’s wife was very afraid of Brandi May because of the kids and all. Carl explained it to his wife and me once, but I am sure I still don’t understand. He said Brandi May was empty. He said she was emptied out for him, emptied by life. He was there to fill her. When I would try to make a joke about that, he would stop me and say he was meant to fill her with sleep, of all things. I suppose she does sleep. But she is always moving and talking, and it is hard to imagine she ever sleeps. She is being kind of quiet now. He likes to say that when she was empty there was no way to know what she was. There was no way to tell. But he was not empty, because he was the one to fill her. He used to simply say that she meant that he “is.” I am not sure what he meant. I do know he must have been filling her with something more than sleep and dope. They sure could make a racket. I always got the impression that was sort of her specialty. Maybe with Carl or not. But he was caught up in her. I guess you could say he was addicted. She is only sixteen and there is something to be said for that. I served in Colorado when I was in the Air Force. They had mountains there too, not like these ones, more like picture mountains. They were always kind of too far away, like they were in another country. I could never feel like they were part of the landscape. Getting to them was a chore and there were no roads almost, and even less people. These mountains here are more real to me. I feel I can reach out and touch them. And I grew up climbing them and fetching into their hollows and hiding. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 50


You never know what you might find, like maybe some evidence or something. Those hollows and even the mountains kind of act like a sticky substance that catches and keeps stuff. That may be why there are more people here than in the mountains out west. A lot of early American pioneers passed over these mountains to get west. Some never made it over them. They just got stuck here. Most are still stuck. Carl would call it the “mysterious beauty” of the place. I was struck with the need to speak to my brother, so I began to talk about what I was seeing on the drive. I knew what he would say, like it was in my own head already. I called to him in the back seat, asking about what we were seeing out the windows. “These mountains are like no place else,” he said. “They are a spiritual middle ground. They lack the accessibility and the warmth of the plains on the coasts and in the Midwest. And they are not hard and forbidding like the Rocky Mountains and the deserts of the West. They are not easy or close like the former. Nor are they as foreign and unknowable as the latter. They are somewhere in the middle, like a dream. Look at them in the daytime and they seem blue or smoky and the farther ridges get more so. It is like they are a dream, like you can almost touch them. They are still mountains though and can give a hard rain or a squall as cold and precipitous as the men who live in them.” I thought he must be doing all right. Brandi May was still quiet. That was strange. I didn’t trust her. She was proud, for one thing. She had torn into that lady from Children’s Services when she came to see Carl about the kids, calling her the Biblical plague. Carl and her did not like the idea of being judged like that. But he would be more philosophical about it. She was insulted, and she let it be known. I am sure that lady had never had a piece of liver thrown at her and hit her on the head. I think they got that liver because it was left over from the diner or whatever. Their way of living was not for me to understand or judge. If the Children’s Services lady had felt like me, it all would have gone a lot better. People around here let folks get on as they may. I don’t know if there is any mysterious beauty to that, but it means I can’t help but love the place. I didn’t like her being back there alone with him, and his liver. We got to the hospital in all of about forty-five minutes, which was not bad. Everything is kind of far from where we live. Town is where the drugs are so the drive was not unfamiliar. They brought a gurney out to the car and we got out of the way as they got Carl onto it and took him into the hospital. It was different than the other times we went to the emergency room. Then, they would ask questions and get you all tied in a knot in the office. This time they told us to wait in the car. “You should not have done so much drugs, Brandi May,” I said. “Shut up, Micah, you just want to screw me,” she said. “No, I mean it. You all are addicted. It is not like you use them to party. You can’t live like that.” “Oh, yeah, you’re so high and mighty because you got a job, you were in the service. I know what you are. You’re like all the other men.” “He’s my damn brother.” “You don’t even know him; not like I do. He is my wizard.” “You mean, he is your supply of painkiller.” And then she turned, started to walk away, looked back over her shoulder at me, and gave her little butt a wiggle. I could see she was emptying out. Dad used to tell me and Carl that being alive had one purpose, to get ready to be dead a long time. The old man looked at us with a strange look all the time. It always reminded me of blood. I hated him for ever making me be born, especially when the switch came down on my back and sides and shoulders. Carl was more philosophical about all that too. He would turn and look at our father Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 51


and say, “Now you know me. Now you see me. I am a secret in your dour and selfish life.” Maybe that is why Carl was addicted and I was not. I only used drugs to party. I had a job. I am not sure what Carl did. He was always a mystery, not like me, but like me. Barndi May was looking at me kind of catlike when they came out and asked us if one of us was related to Carl. She just sort of smiled at me quietly. I told them I was his brother and they took me in to see the doctor. I did not have to wait long. I went right into an office where the doctor was. He was a foreigner. I could tell that much. He had a funny smell and he was darker skinned. I wondered how Carl had put up with being treated by this man. “Are you his brother?” the doctor asked. “Yes. I am,” I said. “Can you tell me what happened?” “I guess he and his girlfriend partied a little too hard today. He was not feeling well, so we drove him here.” “Did you say he was not feeling well today?” “Yes.” “Your brother is dead. I have to tell you.” “Damn it,” I said. “I knew I should not have left her in the back seat with him. She must have done something on the way over here. I don’t trust her.” “No. Your brother has been dead for about twenty-four hours. We can tell by the body temperature.” They gave me a bunch of papers and told me some people would be in to talk to me some more. I went out and looked for Brandi May. She was gone. The hospital is in town. Only a minute later, I saw a friend of hers and asked if she had seen Brandi May. She told me she had. Brandi May had told her that she needed some oxy for when Carl got better. She did not know Carl was dead. Carl did not know he was dead. He would have had something to say about that.

Gerald Weaver is the author of the novel, The First First Gentleman, (London Wall, 2016), a sly tribute to almost all the novels of Charles Dickens and the epic tale of the first woman to become President. His wellreceived first novel, Gospel Prism, (London Wall, 2015), was acclaimed by Harold Bloom as “remarkable” and charming but disturbing. Each of its twelve chapters paraphrases a great work, by Cervantes, Montaigne, Shakespeare, etc. A graduate of Yale University, Weaver lives in Bethesda, Maryland, where he just finished his third novel, The Girl and the Sword, due out this year.

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Jessica Widner Amadour and Josephine Plage D’Argent He saw the back of her first and was so overcome that he called out the name of his wife, who had been dead for four years. Even her hair, nearly black, ending midway down her back, looked familiar. He could feel it under his fingers. Wrapped around his fist at night. She was the same height, the same size. Her arms were crossed and she walked in small, slow steps, stopping to admire the scenery—the boats bobbing in the clear ocean, the white sand blown in sheets by the wind—now and then, in the same manner that María would have. She wore a long white dress, and when he called out she turned around and he loped over to her. “I’m sorry,” he said in English. Her face was not like María’s at all, “I mistook you for someone else.” “That’s all right,” she said. She must have been American. It was very early in the morning. The sun had only risen an hour ago. The waves were noisy. He saw now that her hair was wet. Now that he could see her face, the resemblance to María was undone. Her hair was lighter, sun-bleached. “Were you in the water?” He asked. She pointed to a sailboat not far from the shore with yellow and white sails. “That’s me. The sun woke me, so I waded in. The beach looked so nice from the water.” “I hope I didn’t alarm you,” he said, walking next to her, “There are rarely other people around here this early.” “Do you live nearby?” She asked. There was little unease about her. She seemed completely comfortable with him, the strangeness of him, even welcoming of it. “Yes, just about a twenty-minute walk.” He said. It was June, but the air was cooler than usual. “Your dress,” he said, “It’s dry.” She held her hands over her head, “I carried it,” she said and laughed, “I didn’t think anyone would be around.” He looked sideways at her and noticed she wasn’t wearing anything under the dress. She didn’t seem embarrassed by it. Her skin was very tanned; he imagined it would be warm to the touch. “Where did you sail from?” He asked. “Just from Ajaccio. I was being a tourist for a few days.” “And before then?” “I got the boat in Formentera. Borrowed it from a friend.” “And you have to bring it back to Formentera?” “Eventually, yeah.” “I’m sorry for all the questions.” They walked a little longer and he began to feel that maybe he was being invasive, that he was spoiling the peace of her morning and she was too polite to say anything. He stopped walking and so did she. “I’ll leave you alone,” he said. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 53


“Sure, if you want,” she said, “But there’s no need. I’m Josephine, by the way.” “Amadour.” He took her hand in his, “Joséphine. The Empress. Napoleon was born here, you know.” “Ah, yes, I visited the museum,” she said, “I don’t know much about her though.” “I think she was a much adored woman,” he said, “Please, do not let me keep you.” “I’m a little hungry,” she said, “If you want, we can go over to the boat and I’ll make us some breakfast. If you want.” They went into the water together, keeping their clothes on. The water felt beautiful, warm compared to the unusual coolness of the air. He wanted to take her hand, to touch some part of her under the water. The boat was anchored in shallow water, barely above their shoulders. He looked away as she climbed up, her dress clinging to her skin. “Just a minute,” she said, going down below. He sat in his wet shorts, the boat rocking under him. He took his shirt off and laid it out to dry. She came up changed into a dark red sarong. She handed him a towel. “I was just going to make coffee,” she said, “Bread, butter, a little meat. Nothing fancy.” “I’d love that,” he said, “That sounds perfect. Can I help?” “I’ll just pass stuff up to you.” She passed up a little bag of brown sugar and a carton of milk. It must have been earlier than seven thirty in the morning but he felt as awake and relaxed as if it were the afternoon. It was a gorgeous day. The night’s clouds had evaporated; the air was growing warm. She handed him a paper bag with a few puffy white rolls, a bowl of soft butter, and, wrapped in pink paper, cured ham threaded with translucent fat. “This is so kind of you,” he said, once she was back up with coffee. “It’s nothing, it’s my pleasure,” she smiled, “The boat gets a bit lonely, if I’m being honest.” They talked. He told her about his little bungalow, about the book he was working on, about his time in Paris, and after, in Cádiz with María. He worried he was talking about himself too much, that he was boring her. “It’s fine,” she said, “Listening to you talk is like listening to someone tell a story.” But he couldn’t continue after that and he asked her where she was from. “I’m from Vancouver originally. Canada. Grew up sailing, even did a couple ocean crossings with my dad when I was a teenager. Lost interest a bit as I grew older. Anyway. I went to university in Toronto, then ended up in New York for grad school. Edwardian theatre. My first love. I got really lucky, landed a job at Hunter college once my PhD was finished. And then my life got dramatic. So I took off. Called my friend Ash, all he does is sail around the Mediterranean, and arranged to meet him in Formentera. Ta-da.” He didn’t’ know anything about Canada, nor has he ever been to New York. Or anywhere in North America. “New York must be a difficult city to live in.” She shrugged, looked down into her mug of coffee, “I got lucky,” she said, “I was happy there for a long time. A decade, nearly. I am happy there.” He looked at her arms, corded with muscle. He thought of her alone on the boat. He thought of her in the midst of the choppy sea, her hands tight on the wheel, her gaze hard, the way forward obscured by waves, by mist. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 54


“Well,” she said, standing up, “There’s a bit of wind yet, if you want to go for a sail. Or do you have work to do?” He’d go for a sail. He’d follow her anywhere, he wanted to say. An early morning infatuation, her appearing like that, in front of him in that white dress. A respite from memory, the two of them sailing the clean, quick ocean together, her hair blown back across his face, trailing its scent, his hands around her waist. “If you don’t mind the company,” he said. Barcelona On the terrace on Passeig del Born the waiter brought them plates steaming with stewed cockles, clams, mussels, deep fried sardines, inky paella, and a bottle of heavy, Catalan wine. “We’ve got to get out of this city,” Amadour said, looking around at the groups of tourists crowding the sidewalk. “I like it no matter what, but we can leave anytime.” “I’d like to leave Spain,” he said, “Maybe go for an Alpine retreat. Something completely different. Grass, clouds in the sky.” She was quiet. Lately she had been quiet on the subject of moving around, on the subject of the future. She wouldn’t talk about it but he knew that she had to be back in New York for the start of autumn, now only a month away. There was a specificity to her silence, a strength to it that extended to him, making him unable to speak on the subject too, unable to ask questions that should have been simple. He shouldn’t blame it on her. His inability to ask her was because he didn’t want to hear the answer. “I don’t want to leave,” she said quietly and he looked up at her. It was the time of early-evening when the light was hitting the buildings around them particularly well, turning stone the colour of honey. He poured the wine. “I’m tired of this stuff,” he said, “My friend has a house in Avignon. We could go there. He’s writing a book about the popes of Avignon. You’d like him.” “I’d have to bring the boat back before we go,” Her eyes shone a little, her voice faltered. He hadn’t yet seen her weep. He couldn’t say anything to make her happy. There was nothing to be done about it. In silence they sat, ate and drank without tasting. Later, in the sea breeze atop the dark water, she leaned back to rest her head against his chest and he ran his hands down her thighs. He was used to her body now. There was something strange about being with a new person after being with another for so long. As much as he tried, he couldn’t help but to sometimes compare the two. “Amadour,” she said. The seabirds flew low. If you watched closely you could see fish skimming above the surface of the water, the silvery glint of their scales. He could, with his nose next to her ear, smell only her, a little salty, the specific scent of sun-baked skin, like a fresh loaf of bread. “I don’t want this to end.” An echo, something he’d heard before but didn’t say out loud: nothing ever ends. He said her name. She had told him before how much she loved the way he said her name. She pressed her back against him. He took her wrists in his hands. “Let us roll all our strength, and all our sweetness up into one ball,” she quoted. He didn’t want it to end, and yet there was refuge to be found in the idea of his little house near the beach, of his tidy Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 55


stacks of papers, of index cards, and his desk overlooking the cliffs. Of going to the market early, alone, and choosing bread, olives, cheese, pressing into the skins of avocadoes, of peaches, testing their ripeness. Of washing the tiles in front of his door, bent under the sun. Of looking at the photo of María he kept next to his bed, even though it was painful to look at. Of walking on the sand in the morning, before it became too hot, of swimming, and then, body tired, of sitting at his desk and watching the breeze stir the slim trees next to his home, watching the birds settle on the little wooden birdfeeder, speak softly to one another. Of writing in a house where the only noise is the sea, and the cries of birds. Of making coffee and staying up late to re-read the books he and María had both loved. It was so hard to get used to being alone, he wanted to say to Josephine, and it is overwhelming how much space you take up in my life. She turned her head to look up at him. He liked most the skin under her eyes, the colour of it, the thinness, and the fine smile lines. The way she looked at him was so trusting, innocent as a child. What are you thinking of? He wanted to ask. With her there was often no way of knowing. She could get a far-away look in her eye. Was this a moment, then, of watching his life spread like branches in two possible directions? He imagined himself in New York with her. What does he know of New York? Tall buildings. People talking and walking fast. Frank O’Hara. He imagined himself alone, home, cocooned in the light, the stillness, grey shadows of memory moving like curtains for him to pass through. Can one grow in loneliness? He rubbed her upper arms. Her skin was so warm, sunlight trapped underneath it. His hands and feet were cold. She sat up and turned to face him, kneeling, to rub the tip of her nose against his cheek. He put his hands underneath her shirt to feel her back, the muscles around her shoulder blades. She closed the spaces between their bodies. She put her mouth to his and he pulled her tighter to him, until she gasped. The borders of flesh. There was an end, then. Williamsburg To get to the café, he had to walk under an overpass and past a few blocks of construction, the screams of a power saw, the sound of falling brick, of car horns. He walked with his head down. It was stiffly, ruthlessly cold, and he was already used to the enormity of the city around him, its ceaselessness. The sidewalks were slick with ice. He walked slowly, carefully. Josephine. He repeated her name to himself, out loud, quietly. Joséphine. There were pictures of her he kept in his mind. Her back, the first time he saw her. The white dress clinging to her body in the water. On the dock in Formentera, her bare toes curling over the edge, a tear on her cheek, bending over to pat the boat, as if it were a horse she was saying good-bye to. In Avignon, the sunset, sky purpling to darkness, a spray of stars over the grapevines and her, not seeing them, only looking at him. Finally, standing on the tiles outside his home with her suitcase, shading her face from the sun with one hand, facing him as he locked the front door, telling him about the city, “I can’t wait for you to see it.” He had met her father last night. They had both been awakened early in the morning with the construction next door, a repetitive banging, the occasional sound of a drill or a yell, and so by evening were tired. She had been grading papers all afternoon, had lost track of time and forgotten to meet him for a drink before dinner. He waited at the bar for fifteen minutes before calling her. By the time she got there she hadn’t had time for a drink. Her eyes were glassy, her hair pulled back, a little oily, and she looked childish in her puffy coat. He was surprised by the lack of effort she made to look nice for her father, who she hadn’t seen in three years. He had taken care to shave, to iron his shirt. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 56


They went to the restaurant and waited for him. He was running late. She ordered wine. “Are you nervous?” He asked her. “No,” she said, and then again, “No.” There was nothing to be nervous of. Her father had greeted them both with a hug. A tall, athletic man, he showed off his tan, fresh from Costa Rica. His smile was impenetrable, his teeth a crushing wall of white. He talked. He told stories about the sea, he told stories about meeting bears in the Rocky Mountains. Amadour felt that he was in the presence of someone famous, or a politician, though he was neither. Once it was time for a good-bye, he nearly bent in a bow. He felt younger than he was. After, they went back to the bar they were supposed to have a drink at earlier. Josephine was quiet. Amadour felt energized. He wanted, despite the early, rude awakening, to stay up late and to then go home and make love several times in a row. “I’m just so tired,” she said. Her silence was a needle. Deflated, they walked home, hand in gloved hand, shivering. Inside, once undressed, he gathered her to his chest, pressed his nose to her cold cheek. He thought about her in the orange evening light on the streets of Seville, about the warmth. I want to go home, he thought. The coffee he had taken with dessert didn’t let him sleep. She lay on her side facing him and he shut his eyes and listened to her breathing shift into the patterns of slumber. What was Brooklyn, for him? Walking into bookstores, clothing stores, letting his hands linger over things he wouldn’t buy. Sitting in cafes. Bars. Going to restaurants that served weak, expensive imitations of the food he had grown up with in excess. And Josephine, walking with him, her eyes made hard by the cold, by all the people. He remembered that shortly before he left his home, a Wallcreeper had landed on his birdfeeder. And then, out of the darkness, María’s face came to him. Her face on the pillow next to him. Bathed in white light. Blinding. Early morning sun. Their honeymoon. Wasserburg. He threw the balcony doors open and they stood together and looked out over the forest, and beyond it, the river, the sun making it glitter in the distance. “Es tan verde,” she said, breathlessly, into his ear. I will love you forever, he thought, even after I am dead, this place will remember it, it will be scorched with our love. He could remember her voice so clearly now, and the feeling of her hair in his hands, and the colour of her skin, and the way she looked at him and the way she trusted him and him her and he thought of his house near the beach where he kept photos of them together and smiling, where he kept the cream coloured dress she had worn at their wedding, the notes she had left him, the books she had given him with pour mon Am-amour written in the front covers, the ones she had bought for herself, the things she had loved. He thought about it now, the house, frozen in time, empty. But it wasn’t empty. It wasn’t empty. In the morning, he made Josephine an omelette and while it cooked he told her he had to go back home. “It’s haunting me,” he said, “I’m afraid, if I leave something alone for too long, it will stop being.” “What do you mean?” She said. “It will cease to exist.” He poured her a mug of coffee and flipped over the omelette. “I thought we were building something here,” she said. There were tears in her eyes. “I really didn’t see this coming.” “I feel that we’ve moved far away from the people we were on the beach. That morning, when we met.” Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 57


“Of course we have. You thought I was her.” “And what did you think I was?” He placed the breakfast on a plate in front of her. She began cutting it into small pieces. it.”

“I don’t know what to say,” she said. She started eating. She looked up at him, “Please think about

A small, violent part of him wanted to shout at her. Wanted to tell her that here, in this city, she had become ugly. Instead he left the room. She didn’t follow him. He sat in the bedroom and listened to her clean the dishes, gather her things noisily. He must have stopped paying attention because when she spoke from the doorway it startled him. “All you do is mope around,” she said, “How can you expect to make a new life here if you don’t even try?” He looked at her. She was wearing her coat already, her heavy winter boots, her keys in her hand. “I don’t want to make a new life here,” he said. “That’s an awful thing to say to me,” she said, “After everything.” “It was an extended holiday,” he said, knowing he was being cruel, “That’s all.” He saw her jaw clench, spots of red rise in her cheeks. “That’s all.” She said in a tone of voice he hadn’t heard her use before. Resigned. He wanted to apologize but said nothing. She left the room and he heard her open, close and lock the front door. He shut his eyes and thought of running after her, down the hall and into the elevator. After the very first day they had spent sailing together, she had anchored the boat back at the Plage d’Argent and they had swum back to the beach, her in a yellow one-piece bathing suit that faintly glowed under the moonlight, and him in his shorts. They lay on the sand and he traced the constellations in the air for her with his fingers, even though she already knew all of them. She turned her head sideways to look at him as he spoke and he watched her face from the side of his eye, waiting for the right time to sit up, take her face in his hands and kiss her. The wind swept the sand along the beach. Shreds of cloud moved across the stars he was trying to tell her about. He started to pack. He considered leaving her something, a book, a shirt, a note, but decided it would be better to leave nothing of himself behind.

Jessica Widner’s writing has appeared in Adjacent Pineapple, Adelaide Magazine, and Lamplight Magazine. She is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 58


Jody Gerbig Outside Inside Upside Down I’ve got this gut feeling I can’t shake—you know, the one that mothers get when something is off. It chokes me as I stand outside my son Bran’s bedroom door during his niece’s birthday party, listening to their whispers, trying to make out their words. I fear that feeling and the truth will meet when I glance around the door frame at them together there, like at the end of an Alfred Hitchcock story when all the details come together into one sweeping realization. I had this same feeling once when my husband at the time hired a man named Jeffrey to remodel our basement. It wasn’t that Jeffrey’s jean shorts hung low around his beltless waist, or that he had a blank look and spoke slowly when explaining a project. It probably wasn’t even the fact that he was fifty and childless. I felt a growing chill as he lingered in doorways, watching my then two-year-old daughter Alyssa eat breakfast, saying, “Good morning, pretty girl,” or “There’s the pretty girl.” “Where’s Jeffwey?” Alyssa said one day after he’d left. As toddlers often can be, she was flattered by his remarks and attention, not knowing the difference between being “pretty” and being special, not having grown that woman’s intuition yet. She seemed to like how he walked in the backdoor unannounced, carrying wire clippers of some sort and a belt full of other tools to the basement, where he and three other men worked each day finishing the main room. Bran took to him, too, skulking about as the men worked, collecting the screws and drill bits they left behind them like a trail of breadcrumbs through the forest. He started wearing his pants low like Jeffrey, once asking for scissors to cut his jeans off at the knee. “No way,” I said. “No, uh uh. We don’t wear jorts in this family.” One afternoon, as the workers sat on their coolers in the garage, eating sandwiches and chatting about the bottle of rum they’d put down at a campfire the weekend before, I spotted Bran at the edge of the garage door, pretending to fiddle with the trashcan lid. I gritted my teeth and shooed him away. “You guys drywalling today?” I said, digging in the fridge for a Coke, keeping one eye out for Bran and the other for Alyssa. The men nodded. I caught Bran peeping around the corner again. “Okay, well Alyssa has terrible dust allergies, so just make sure to vacuum really well after, if you could.” “Sure thing,” Jeffrey said, finishing his sandwich, rolling the crust up into a napkin, and throwing both onto a refuse pile on the garage floor, now collecting flies. I popped the Coke can lid and backed into the house, thinking about the raccoons I’d seen the other night, the smell of skunk in the driveway. How construction projects seemed to stir up so many problems in a house, more than they seemed to fix, anyway. I remembered all this as I drove up to Bran and his wife’s newly renovated house this morning for my granddaughter Lilly’s sixth birthday. On the other side of the kitchen window, Bran’s wife iced the cake she’d baked for her niece. “But we never have kids at my house,” Bran had said when Alyssa suggested the park across from her own house. “All that sprawling lawn, and we never get to hear a child’s squeal or witness cartwheel after cartwheel.”

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Watching Bran’s wife, I felt a sudden affinity for her, an urge to hug the worry lines out of her forehead. I considered I might like her more had she something to do with herself other than dote on their only son, a pimply teenager prone to sulking. Something like icing cakes for little girls. “Hey, Mom,” Bran said when I shut my car door. He wore tennis getup: tight, white shorts and a white sweater vest with a blue stripe around the collar. He seemed jovial. Admittedly, Bran is good at hiding things. “Good morning at the club?” I said. “Well, you know. Didn’t want to be in the way,” he said. His ruddy cheeks gathered as he half-smiled. His eyes sat heavy in his skull. “You look tired,” I said. I say this often these days. I gazed at his house—his mansion—and wished he kept his life simpler, more wholesome. “No.” He paused at the door to hold it for me as I carried in a pink-ribboned gift—a Barbie Doll car. “You know how it is. These young girls fill me with energy.” As I passed he smirked, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he wasn’t trying to reach me—you know, really reach me, for help. He cast his eyes down the brick walkway into their garden, where pale pink and white balloons floated above white-tableclothed tables, beacons alighting the hill, calling all the youth up and away. The party was the kind one sees in magazines: flowers in full bloom, punch in etched bowls with small dipping cups for drinking, linen table cloths, clowns making balloon dogs for children wearing white pique shirts. Though Bran had wanted it all, he skulked around the garden, popping balloons and harassing clowns, a clear drink on ice in his hand. I wondered if his wife is too hard on him. Occasionally, I’ve been told, he spends time at Alyssa’s house instead of home, watching football or grilling hot dogs. “He doesn’t leave,” Alyssa often says of him. “He comes over and then doesn’t leave. Even when the children are begging to go to bed, he goes for a new drink.” But, now, I don’t know. Maybe his family isn’t hard enough on him. If only my granddaughter, Alyssa’s daughter Lilly—the birthday girl—hadn’t wet her pants, all might be fine now. I might not be standing in this hallway with this woman’s intuition pitting in my stomach. I might have gone on eating cake in the shade. “Cannot believe she’s six,” Alyssa said behind me as I watched Lilly hiding from a little boy who chased her around the party. I turned. Alyssa looked the same as when she was a little girl: blond ringlets floating down her back, stout legs tanned from the sun. She watched her daughter, a smile growing and shutting out the white of her eyes. “The years go by so fast.” “They do.” “It seems just yesterday you were that age. No, younger. Such a beguiling little thing.” Alyssa really was a “pretty girl,” as our worker Jeffrey called her, so that I’d given Bran the job of following her around when the workers were in, and then again later when Bran’s own friends became interested. Bran did very little but follow people around in those days. I figured it was best to have family eyes on her always. One morning, I was peeling off Alyssa’s pajamas and wet pullup at her toddler potty when I heard whistling.

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“Bran?” I yelled. He didn’t answer. “Howdy, pretty girl,” I heard Jeffrey say behind me. I looked over my shoulder at him and then back at Alyssa standing naked before me, the cold hardening her tiny nipples. I didn’t know how much Jeffrey had taken in of her, whether he’d been watching her the whole time stand in full nudity, her belly button sticking outward, the curls of her hair brushing her shoulders. “Come on, let’s get on the potty,” I said to Alyssa, scooting on the floor to sit more in front of Alyssa, instinctively shielding her nakedness from him—her blond hair falling over her eyes, her bare body like a folded bean pod on the potty. I felt his stare and turned to find him, ten yards away, still as a statue, slackjawed. My eyes pierced him. He startled. “I’m peeping at you,” he said to Alyssa, his voice an octave higher. It had to have been Freudian—this strange admission. No one says such things out loud. “Yup. Peeping,” Jeffrey repeated. His eyes darted. He shifted his feet and looked around, as though knowing it was all wrong. “You’re doing a great job at that potty!” “She sure is,” I said, throwing a dress over her head. I glanced back toward the back hall where Jeffrey had stood. He was gone, replaced by a knot in my gut. I watched Lilly dart behind that tree as a little boy chased her, her ruffled dress wrapping around her lean body like a blanket. She squinted around the corner, looking for the boy, and breathed hard. Through the kitchen window, Bran watched Lilly, too, and sipped his drink. He bore a strange smirk, as though enjoying this mess of a life he’d landed himself in: the manicured lawn, the rickety mansion, the vapid wife, the lackluster son. Now you’re watching? I thought. I turned to see Lilly, her body contorted like a knot holding itself together. She shook. A wet spot formed in the crotch of her dress, first only a quarter-sized circle, then a softball-sized one, then an amorphous blob, growing and taking over. She looked down and saw it, her legs bowing out, her hair falling over her like a shroud, her dress dropping like a soaked tent underneath her. I ran to her. “What happened, sweetie?” I said. Lilly’s eyes were wet, shut slits. She ushered me away. “No, Grammy.” “Oh, there, there,” I said, hugging her up against my torso. “Why didn’t you go to the bathroom?” I stroked her hair, bending over to wipe her tears away. She heaved, trying to catch her breath, trying to answer me. “What is it? Why didn’t you go to the bathroom?” I repeated, waiting for her to calm. “I didn’t want to go inside,” she said, looking up at me. “I wanted to stay out here.” “What ever for?” She didn’t answer. She looked over my shoulder at her Uncle Bran storming through the porch door toward us, his hand outstretched, his eyes alight. “I saw it from the kitchen. It’s okay, Lilly,” he said, arriving breathless, suddenly with purpose. “It’s alright. I’ll take care of it.” He bent over, his face inches from hers. She ducked her head.

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“Oh, Bran, just leave it. She’ll want her mother.” “I can do this, Mom. I got it.” “Where is Alyssa? Let’s just get her mother.” “Don’t make a deal of it, Mom,” Bran said. He stepped between me and the girl. I huffed, thinking him strange, thinking the whole party rather strange. “Come on, Lilly,” he said. “I’m sure we have some old pants somewhere.” He took Lilly by the hand and beckoned her toward him. She looked past me, into the garden, no doubt for her mother. “It’s okay, Lilly,” Bran said. “I’ll fix you right up.” “Oh, for Pete’s sake. Just go with Uncle Bran,” I said. How I wish I hadn’t lost my patience with it all: with my missing daughter, with Bran’s odd insistence and handsy touching of Lilly, the alcohol now reeking from him, with my granddaughter who can’t be bothered to use the toilet like a normal child of six. I felt the other children’s eyes on her—on us. I waved my hand at her. “Go on,” I said, letting my hand fall innocently on her behind. She hiccoughed, air caught in a chest spasm. I pushed her toward Bran and she jolted, tripping over her feet, almost landing in Bran’s arm. They turned toward the house, the screen door still banging lightly in a breeze. I cupped my hands around my mouth and whispered loudly, “I’m sure Uncle Bran will give you something ugly to wear, but at least it’ll be dry.” I laughed at the image of it. Laughed! in full denial. Bran’s eyes met mine a moment before pulling on Lilly’s hand again, up that sloping grass hill. Her head cocked back toward me, her eyes locked on mine. Tears spilled from them. Across the garden, in the shadows of an apple tree, Bran’s wife watched us, her hand squeezing her son’s shoulder so hard he jumped. She didn’t move. She stared, her eyebrows knit, her forehead wrinkled, and for a moment I wondered if she was jealous. “I don’t know how a six-year-old pees herself,” I said to Alyssa. We stood under poplar trees near the house, watching Bran’s wife dart between serving tables, carrying plastic utensils that were supposed to pass for silverware. “I feel terrible I wasn’t there. I should go in and check on her.” “Might be a good idea,” I said, looking behind me at the ivy climbing up the house. I noticed the window above me ajar, and I tried to remember what room it belonged to, maybe the boy’s, maybe the bathroom. I heard no sounds coming from it, and I remembered how large the rooms are, how long a span of hallway runs between them, how a voice can get lost for days bouncing around in there. “Bran can be incompetent, if you know what I mean.” “Really, Mom?” “What? He is. Just look at his own child. His wife. A mess.” Alyssa unfolded her arms, gathering herself to turn. I caught her eyes rolling, and just as I meant to say something, Bran’s wife waved us over, mouthing, Cake soon. Where is Lilly? I thought, scanning the lawn, thinking of those long, winding hallways and dimly lit rooms behind me.

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Inside was quiet and dark, though streams of sunlight blazed strips of the hardwood in front of the walllength windows. The half bath was locked, the laughter of two of Lilly’s girlfriends seeping from under the door. I considered Lilly might be in Bran’s master, away from the crowds and the eyes, and I wandered toward it. The hallway floor creaked under me. I stopped and tested a few boards, lamenting old houses. I heard voices, a man’s and a girl’s, emanating from Bran’s bedroom. My innards coiled as I remembered the aftermath of the Jeffrey matter: how everyone pretended it hadn’t mattered. “Where were you?” I’d asked Bran when I found him later, playing in his room with his trucks. “You were supposed to be watching her with the workmen around.” My husband had chided me for firing Jeffrey: “The project isn’t finished. He’s also the electrician. You can’t just tell the electrician to take a hike. There’s only one of him.” “There’s only one Alyssa,” I’d said in return. Inside Bran’s bedroom, a voice echoes, “There, there,” light and airy as though from a child’s throat. I inch closer, peering around the door frame, and see Bran and Lilly’s toes now touching as they sit, side-by-side on the edge of Bran’s bed, her bare painted ones wiggling freely, his in scuffed sand-court sneakers. I clench, my knuckles white against the door frame. I inch, scared to move closer, afraid to lift my eyes. But I do. Lilly is fully dressed, her legs covered in ill-fitting boy’s gray sweats, her torso swimming in a t-shirt with a dragon on it. I stand in front of them, in plain sight. They do not see or hear me. But I see and hear them. What does a mother’s gut know? What does it say of her children? Of her? It’s all wrong, I realize as I watch Bran, slumped over, his head between his two hands, propped on his knees, his fingers rubbing his temples. Lilly rubs Bran’s back, comforting him. Her eyes float up to meet mine. “There, there,” she says, narrowing her eyebrows. She looks old, suddenly. Well above her six years. Nothing like her mother at that age. She leans toward Bran and whispers loudly, her face still turned toward me, her eyes locked on mine, “It’ll be okay, Uncle Bran. Really. Nothing is true, what she says.” She smiles. “Grammy can be a real bitch sometimes.”

Jody Gerbig is a mid-forties, Midwestern woman raising three toddlers and a writing career. Her recent work appears in Hedge Apple, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and Litro Sunday.

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Josip Novakovich Froggy When we moved to Shawnee State forest in Ohio, a ninety minute drive from Cincinnati where I taught at the University, we knew that logging on our forty acres wasn’t finished, and though we hated the idea of losing some trees, mostly oaks and poplar, we were still happy to be in a forest. During the day, there was a lot of noise, sawing, loading up the trees, etc. When I met the logger, I was ready to be antagonistic to the man, but he seemed very charming and handsome—wore a hat, cowboy boots, jeans, and looked like a Marlboro man. His assistant was his daughter in law, and she looked somehow oddly fashionable too, and happy. He spoke in his Appalachian dialect, which, tinged with whiskey, was pretty hard to understand. He said he was behind the schedule in logging, and asked whether I would give him an extension to transport trees from another property through my forest. He could pay me a bit of cash, couldn’t afford much, or he could fill up my garage with oak planks. I chose the oak, which would keep sitting there for a few years, without my figuring much use for it. Cash would have been better. The tobacco barn would have been probably a wiser choice for storing the wood planks as it was drafty, better for drying wood. It was a classic barn, and empty as it was, it was perfect for big parties and rock concerts, and we did have a couple of big parties, with bon-fires in the woods. A friend’s black Labrador was run over that night by a truck, and he died in my wife’s cousin’s arms. I dug up the grave for the dog the following morning behind the tobacco barn. There was very little traffic on our road, Upper Twin Creek Road. We were at the highest point of the roads not far from the Ohio River, an area which Mark Twain described as a most beautiful one in the world. Froggy said that the advantage to letting him log also was that he would make roads with bulldozers up the ridge on our very uneven terrain. Here we also had rattle snakes, red foxes, hawks, but for a while, there haven’t been any bears, although that used to be a good habitat for them, with wild raspberries on the edge of the woods. Froggy said that years ago around our place he’d shot a bear, and wanted to make bear stew, but as he hung the bear to drain the blood away, he got spooked one night, when he’d drunk too much Kentucky bourbon. Where he’d left the bear hanging, he saw his fat uncle hanging, same outline against the full moon in the dark woods. He looked better, and it was the bear and not uncle, but still the bear suddenly seemed to him a human. And so he could never eat the bear and never bothered to kill another one. But one winter, when the Ohio River was frozen, all the bears crossed over to Kentucky. Who knows why, maybe fewer guns, more berries, shorter winters, Froggy speculated. Or just, this land is hexed, which between you and me, he said, it is. Just around the corner, there’s Dead Man’s Hollow. Three decades ago, a dead man was found out there, Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 64


and nobody ever found out who he was. Some people think it’s Big Foot’s Son, as he had very large feet, size fifty. Sometimes I chatted with Froggy, who thought that I was a city slicker. But that didn’t prevent him from giving me his view of the world. He said, We have a big problem in this country, and I believe, everywhere in the world. All the wealth is in the cities, bankers own everything. Here in the country, everybody is poor. There will be a war between rednecks and the city. It can’t go on like this forever. And you know, we all love guns. Sometimes city slickers come to collect late bills and mortgage. But we might resist that and call an end to the robbery. If we don’t pay, they take our land. Anyway, don’t worry, I am just happy to be working for now. I found out he was right about the valleys being armed. Before the hunting season, there were gunshots resounding from the state forest. We didn’t think we had any neighbors, but soon, on an acre of land below us, a trailer showed up, and an old woman lived there. She hardly ever came out and when she did, she mowed the grass, and tended to her garden, planted flowers, and seemed pretty harmless. Ida. She lived on social security, but didn’t need much. She watched TV all day long, had a satellite dish, to catch her favorite show. She could catch two channels, and watched Days of Our Lives and Mexican soaps. And she had a little gun. When our cat Peep was run over by a fast driving pick-up truck, and he was dying, Jeanette went over to borrow her little handgun to shoot the cat. Ida lent her the gun but said, Just remember, Shooting a cat brings bad luck. But the cat is dying, Jeanette said. I want to put him out of misery. With cats you never know, Ida responded. Maybe it still has one of the nine lives left? And if you shoot him, you may have nine years of bad luck. Jeanette asked me, What do you think? You know, Ida may be right. If he’s dying, he’ll die. If he’s not dying, he’ll live. You don’t need to kill him. We didn't mind Ida, although he kept pushing her trailer over the property line. She said, please let me put the bushes just a little beyond the line—you have so much and I have so little. Don't worry, it will never be mine but I just need a little elbow room. I said fine. But soon guys without teeshirts and with a variety of tattoos, such as you are likely to get in prison, showed up, her nephews. They kept coming in and out of jail, and Jeanette was nervous for our kids and property. When we traveled, we had house-sitters, and Ida offered to be one of them. I said, if you didn't have your nephews around, that would be fine. We lived there, on and off, for seven years. My wife stepped on a rattle snake atop the hill, and the snake didn't bite her. We called the hill behind us, Snake Hill. On one occasion, I saw a huge rattle Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 65


snake in the grass next to our well. I beheaded it, and wasn't sure I did the right thing as the kids no longer lived there, but they could visit. The timber rattle-snake had been protected until that year anyway, and it could have been a five thousand dollar fine. Froggy was a strange name. I never learned the logger’s real name, but as soon as he showed up, we had a period of rain, and flooding. Thousands of little tree frogs showed up and bounced all over the road, and the yard—it felt elemental, like some kind of Biblical pestilence. That November George Bush cheated Al Gore, the would-be environmental president, out of the election. I remember going to bed, happy, because Gore would win, and our forests would be protected. And I woke up to the news of a recount in Florida. Several thousand votes in Dade County were discounted because the paper was not perforated – even if it was clear where the perforation would have happened from the mark of pressure – in the county which was overwhelmingly Democratic and Jewish, and many elderly with arthritis couldn’t press hard. Well, the frogs disappeared. Froggy disappeared, and I heard that he had stomach cancer. There were other rumors about him, but I didn’t believe them—that he ran off with his daughter in law, who was his lover, and his son wanted to shoot him. Several years later, the Shawnee State Forest was heavily logged. Trees were left alongside the road, so it looked like an old forest, but once you got inside, you’d see a lot of deforestation. The turmoil got the rattle snakes moving. Two loggers were bitten. The snake used to be protected, but now no longer, as it turned out there were many more than estimated. Plus the Republicans didn’t give a hoot about the spotted owl or the rattle snake. We were not there, but Ida died and it took more than a week for anybody to notice. While we were gone, renting to a Hell’s Angel with five motorcycles, two Harleys, our house got broken into and all the motorbikes were stolen, and so was our oil furnace, Central AC unit, and all the copper pipes, and the entire basement was flooded. Supposedly meth addicts stole all this, but there was no proof. The cops said, it’s the Wild East down here. Our cat Peep survived the hit and run, for several years, and then disappeared. I joked, to Jeanette, Are you sure you haven’t shot the cat? It does seem that we are having years of bad luck, all of us. Maybe Ida shot him?

Josip Novakovich immigrated from Croatia at the age of 20. He has published a dozen books, and most recently a collection of stories, Honey in the Carcase (Dzanc Press), and he's won several awards including Ingram Merrill and American Book Award. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 66


LaVonne Roberts The Algonquin Is Mine She claimed the Algonquin as hers, but he took great pleasure reminding her that their story began at the Harvard Club in his bar. On the east end of West 44th Street, entitled Harvard Club blue bloods impressed one another, proud of the mounted elephant head and framed presidents in their neo-Georgian enclave of wasps upper-crust intellectuals. Four doors down, like a seductive mistress, sat the Algonquin Hotel, an oasis of plush couches, Persian rugs and lush potted palms. The Algonquin and Harvard Club stood like bookends supporting untold secrets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The 500-foot stretch of pavement separating them was more than a transient place with a literary history, a roundtable of conspiratorial writers, and wood-clad rooms of academic elite trading social capital. Eight million lives crossed the city, but no Gotham city block had a story like theirs. While lazy flakes of snow fell, blanketing the city in white, two strangers sat at opposite ends of the Harvard Club’s empty bar. The rhythmic rattle of ice on stainless steel echoed. Preoccupied with an evening his mother had orchestrated after interjecting her opinion of his online dating disasters, he was drinking a martini. Apprehensive about her own night in store, she eyed his martini with lust as she scanned a Books Brothers worsted wool she knew well, wondering which was sexier, textile or libation. Fitzgerald came to mind. His crisply starched white oxford made her think about slipping it on after a night of lovemaking. When he first saw her, his eyes lingered. She looked like comfortable keeping her own company. “May I join you?” he asked. Her laughter was contagious. He sat down in a way that felt like he’d always been there. His drink was made just like she liked: crystal clear, with slivers of ice floating. He can’t be older than forty, she thought. Embarrassed, she smiled. She sensed disappointment, which dissipated, as his hazel eyes bore through her with an unsettling intensity. Boldly, he placed the glass’ stem in her hand as if it was crucial. Higher up the glass, his hand cradled the neck in solidarity. Neither let go. “What’s your name?” he whispered. Her smile returned as if it was his to keep. “I shall try to tell the truth, but the result will be fiction.” She met his bewildered gaze and wrinkled her nose. “Guess the author’s name, and I’ll tell you mine.” She leaned over like a cat to a bowl and took a long sip without lifting the glass. “Katherine Anne Porter.” “Has anyone ever told you they love your voice? She reached for her martini with a smile of pleasure, refusing to answer. “I’m meeting a man I met online at The Algonquin,” she said. “Or the Gonk, as it’s called by its habitués. An awkward silence sat between them. She detested the unoriginality of pomp and circumstance and all its trappings, recognizing her part as she thought Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 67


about his Boston Brahmin gravely voice. Her hand trembled. Reflexively, he reached for her arm. She laughed nervously, twisting her antique watch around her wrist. He held up two fingers to Frank, the bartender, signaling two more martinis. She craned her neck to watch the year's first snow through the window and imagined her arms outstretched as it fell, mouth open to the sky. Pretending was what had got her this far, but he made her want to tell him something deeply personal, or was it the martini? Sliding into a persona was so much easier than spilling out, yet she felt a sense of relief. “What site?” he asked. “J-date.” Two martinis arrived. “What?” she asked, as he looked at her inquisitively. “You’re not Jewish.” “Why? Because I’m not wearing a Star of David necklace?” She released her grip of the martini’s stem as if it was on fire. “Crazy. I’m meeting someone from J-date too.” He paused, “Better go slow.” “I can drink anyone under the table,” she said. He looked at his watch. “I wish I was him,” he said. She sighed, expelling the weight of the evening. “Drink this,” he said. “You must be new on the site or I would have found you.” She didn’t fight him when he put the martini up to her lips, as if they were his. “Ironically, I’m meeting someone from J-date as well.” “You’re supposed to sip it, not look at it.” “I’m letting it breathe.” He looked at her. “You need to breathe.” Her shoulders relax as she let out a sigh. He looked at his watch. “How long do we have?” “15” “I wish I was him,” he said. “I wish I was her,” she said. “Five parts Bombay Sapphire, 1 part Dolin Dry vermouth,” she said. She sipped slowly, savoring every moment, as if she knew it tortured him. His face was pale and the dark circles under his eyes projected a lack of sleep, but his eyes seemed to reflect her excitement. It was all she could do to touch it, reaching around the curve of his neck, relishing in its geometry. “Stop.” She ran her fingers up the stem of his glass. Reason evaporated, surpassing fear. “I like the way you look at me.” He began to stroke the palm of her hand tenderly, then up and down her fingers—one at a time. When he found the space between her fingers, he lingered. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 68


“I have to go,” she whispered. She looked like any movement would frighten her away like a wild cat in daylight. “You seem scared,” he said like he was laying claim to her. “I’m not afraid of anything,” she said a little too quickly, roused to temper. “Did someone hurt you?” he asked softly. Her jaw clenched. What nerve, she thought. “How condescending.” “No,” he said. “Simply empathetic.” “Empathetic,” her voice raised. “Who do you think you’re being empathetic with?” “Whom,” he said correcting her. “Or so I was taught at Harvard that one says whom, not who.” “How very appropriate of you.” She didn’t look back to see the regret on his face. “Excuse me.” She waved to Frank, her hand slicing through the air, then she winked as if they knew each other intimately. By the time he looked back at her she’s crossed the bar and ducked into the restroom. That’s when she realized she’d left her purse at the bar and couldn’t disappear. She stood in front of the mirror absentmindedly twisting her pearls. She unpinned her chignon. Her pearls now looked ugly and hostile, like a noose around her neck. She felt the rising fear in her chest. Her mentally ill mother’s words from her childhood still stung. “You’ll never amount to anything.” Her muscles were frozen, but she felt a tingling pressure to run until her body was empty. She felt contaminated by memories, like a coastline painted black by an oil spill. Worse, she didn’t want to leave, which meant facing a ferris wheel of emotion. What she wanted, desperately, was for him to saver her from herself because right now she needed to run. Baffled, he stared at the empty seat. “Frank, why did you let me flirt with your girlfriend?” “She’s not my girlfriend.” Frank’s smile broke into a grin. “This is the first time she didn’t have me pretend she had an emergency call.” His chuckle was light. “What? You think you’re the only one who does a runner from an online date?” Frank’s eyes darted away then back, indicating she was enroute. “Go. Get her.” He met her halfway. She glanced at him sharply, noticing a sadness or was it desire? She hoped both. Her anger left immediately, against her will. With a rapid, almost brutal movement of her head, she intercepted his lips. “I hate you for making me do that.” She crossed her legs in a swift movement when she returned to her seat. He caught a glimpse of lace trimmed silk stockings mid-thigh. Equal parts eager and fear, she felt a surge of the former. She tingled with shame. Worse. To her dismay, she felt weak, like the nights she’d jerk awake in a cold-sweat, with a memory of free-falling. This felt like a seductive, tormenting madness sucking her in. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 69


“I could look at you forever,” he said, like they’d been lovers for years. He spoke smoothly, soothingly, and with a confidence that sounded inexperienced, almost naive. For a moment, her guarded, alluring eyes lost their far-awayness. They were appraising eyes that seemed like they would consider one guilty until proved innocent. Emboldened, he pulled her chair as close to his as possible. “I have to go,” she whispered. She placed her fingers on his lips. “I wish I was her,” she said softly, looking him square in the eyes. He looked dazed like a loyal dog who didn't understand. He drew her up from her seat and held out her coat. As he helped her into it, he reached for her shoulders under the pretext of adjusting it about her throat. Frank turned his back to his only two patrons. She pulled back when he pressed his lips into hers with urgency. “Only if you promise to do that again, will I…” They say you are old when you you have more memories than you can imagine making. In that moment, she knew her memories would sort themselves into one of two categories: before or after. When does a moment become big enough to erase other smaller moments? This eclipsed everything, made up for it all, she thought, as she slipped out on 44th street and a split second opening blew in snowflakes that retraced her steps, defying gravity until they fell at his feet. His eyes met Frank’s as they both watched droplets form. “Why are you still here?” Frank asked.

LaVonne Roberts is a caffeine-based, aggressively-optimistic writer who plans road trips around culinary culinary adventures, coastlines, friends and independent cinemas. After many lives, LaVonne, a New Yorker who hails from a tiny Texas town, found her voice in a lifelong passion – writing. She leads writing workshops in shelters for female victims of violence, veterans, homeless and mentally ill adults, and where voices have been silenced. Her essays and short stories have been published widely, including in Women Who Waken Literary Journal, The Rio Review Literary Journal, and Litro. She’s working on a memoir of tall Texan tales leading to a magical place called home. When she gets there, she’ll let you know. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 70


Shawn Crawford The End End Welcome to the end of the world. To help you navigate, here are a few key terms to understanding doomsday in the Baptist world of my youth: Eschatology: The study of The End from a religious perspective. Inhabited by people that would enjoy playing Dungeons & Dragons if they didn’t feel it imperiled their soul. The Tribulation: The seven-year period of general mayhem that signals the beginning of The Very End. The Tribulation will make The Road look like a Hope and Crosby movie. The Rapture: The bodily ascension of believers to heaven before God goes medieval on earth. Depending on your theological bent, The Rapture happens pre-mid-or post-Tribulation. Millennialism—A 1,000-year period of peace and harmony before the final judgment. As with everything, there is disagreement as to when the Millennial period occurs. Some contend that after The Tribulation, Christ will reign on earth for that time. Others hold that the entire world will be converted to Christianity and the Millennium will take place as an outgrowth of this condition (because Christians all get along so well). Another faction holds that everything prophesied in the Bible has already taken place in history. These kill-joys are called Preterists. Armageddon: The final battle between good and evil in which Satan will be destroyed forever after annihilating most of humanity in the process. For some reason, after a 1,000 years of good times, God releases Satan from bondage for this last hurrah. Armageddon refers to an actual location, possibly the ancient city of Megiddo. Antichrist: A false leader that arises during The Tribulation to form a one-world government. The antichrist will suffer what appears to be a fatal wound and miraculously recover. When I was growing up, the Pope was a leading candidate for the position, so let’s just say when John Paul II was shot and rallied, there was some consternation among certain Baptists. *

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The most horrifying movie I ever watched growing up was called A Thief in the Night. It concerned the Rapture, the belief that authentic Christians would ascend straight to heaven before the terror of the Tribulation and Armageddon occurred. All those fakey Christians and heathens would be left to suffer and wouldn’t they be sorry--think of the mess to clean up, what with all those car crashes as our righteous Ford slammed into some poor reprobate’s Chevy. Sad really. But we wouldn’t be there to see it unless God allowed us to enjoy it all from our skybox view, which we all secretly hoped was the case. The chilling scene that really gave me the fantods takes place right after the rapture. A montage of showers running and mowers idling and phones dangling drove home the point that all the good people were gone, and you better hope you were one of them, because chaos would soon commence. The Left Behind books would offer endless descriptions, and The Leftovers HBO incarnation had a much bigger Carnage, Mayhem, and Car Destruction Budget, but the simplicity of those everyday chores and routines left unattended provided the starkest proof of my unworthiness to ascend with the righteous. The belief the world can end at any moment with the disposition of your soul decided can take the party right out of the present. Sure it’s fun guessing who will be bowling alone, but even the enjoyment went out of that once I considered my own sketchy record on doing unto others and the whole coveting issue. And let’s not even get into the lust in your heart conundrum because it just made me dwell on my unbridled passion for Elisabeth Shue in The Karate Kid which I had just tempered when Adventures in Babysitting nearly unraveled 2000 years of Christendom for me. Let’s just say coming home to an unexpectedly empty house produced feelings of terror, but I wasn’t really all that surprised I didn’t make the Jesus All-Stars. Soon Alice Cooper and I would be doing unspeakable things for a loaf of bread. *

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The Evangelical enjoyment of the End Times can trace its way back to the Puritans who believed they arrived in America to create the bright and shining City Upon a Hill, a more righteous society that would usher in Christ’s return to earth. Many saw the colonies as the new Israel, established to welcome all true believers into the Kingdom of God on earth. The way we thought about The End had its roots in William Miller, a 19th Century Baptist lay minister from northwestern New York who came to embody all the characteristics and disputes that would mark modern

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eschatology. Miller believed the key to understanding Christ’s return could be found in the book of Daniel, an Old Testament prophet regarded as important as John and Revelation when it came to determining the date the world would cease to be. Isaac Newton was wild for Daniel and the renowned scientist believed his complex math could calculate the precise countdown of God’s doomsday clock just as it had unlocked the mysteries of gravity. After a vision involving rams and goats and horns and desolation which is totally awesome, Daniel asks how long it will take for the prophecy to be fulfilled: “He said to me, ‘It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated’” (Daniel 8.14). Miller thought that the correct measurement of the “2,300 days” would fix a date to expect Christ’s return. Many End Times sleuths thought that days mentioned in biblical prophecy represented years. So Miller knew that in 2,300 years Christ would come to “reconsecrate” the sanctuary, which for him meant nothing less than the destruction of this fallen world. And that perspective delineates the real turn eschatology takes under Miller; it wasn’t enough that Christ would come back and establish his Kingdom: he was going to need to clean house first. So Miller believed he had figured out how many years to the end, but when had the final turn of the hourglass commenced? Using the unique set of symbols, numerology, and signs eschatologists love, Miller tabbed 457 BCE as the moment the 2,300 years began its march to The End. That meant sometime around 1843 the faithful could witness the apocalypse, secure in the knowledge that when the dust settled, they would be ruling with Christ the King. Those that flocked to Miller’s teaching became known as Millerites. Cagily resisting the entreaties to name a precise date, Miller would only say he thought The End would occur by March 21, 1844. When the day came and went, Miller and his followers didn’t worry too much—calculations could only be so precise given the bewildering number of calendars and conflicting timelines of the Bible. But in August of 1844, a Millerite preacher named Samuel S. Snow declared his insight had fixed a precise date: October 22, 1844. Snow’s preaching captured the popular imagination, and Millerites began making their preparations for The End. Miller, at first skeptical, finally accepted the date as well. When the dawn arrived as usual on October 23rd, what became known as The Great Disappointment heralded the end, if not the world, at least of the Millerites. Some would form what became the Seventh-day

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Adventist Church. Others joined the Quakers and the Shakers. Others claimed Christ had indeed returned, but in a spiritual not physical sense. There would follow debates and conferences and new denominations. The pattern had been set for eschatology in America; the rise of a community certain of The End, followed by disillusion, fragmentation, and eventual regrouping around a new prophet or interpretation. Miller found his voice in a hotbed of religious experimentation. New York gave rise to Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church; Miller would influence a group that held Christ had perfected his followers to establish heaven on earth; some of these “perfectionists� would build the community of Oneida, the silverware they produced to support themselves still bears their name, although they dissolved into a tangle of sexual scandal and accusations of manipulation and abuse. In the season three cold open of The Leftovers, we see a Millerite community all the way down under in Adelaide, Australia. They prepare for the end; they don their white robes of purity; they ascend to their roofs and wait . . . for nothing. For Baptists, the Great Disappointment could easily be called Surely Next Time. Miller’s insistence that Christ could only return after a cleansing would come to dominate Baptist thinking about The End. The belief society is spiraling into corruption and moral degradation would begin to influence the choices we made in politics, the justice system, education, and parenting. The Millerites haunt every corner of American life because above all else The End as Miller and eventually we conceived it was inevitable, and that inevitability colored our conception of ourselves and the conception of the future, and it has finally crept into the culture even though the average person knows nothing of Miller, only that The Inevitable means the impossibility of change, especially for the betterment of the individual and community. *

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When I was growing up, Hal Lindsey commanded the prophetic stage for Baptists. Although Lindsey repeated what other evangelical eschatologists had already postulated, he had a genius for tying his predictions to current events. Beginning with The Late Great Planet Earth in 1970, Lindsey would strike a nerve in the popular culture that made him a huge success. He basically writes a new book each decade claiming we will not last more than ten years, then recalibrates. He still chugs along at age 88, with a television and web presence

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along with an authoritative mustache, claiming the signs all point to our imminent demise. The cast of characters continually changes, but not the end result. Lindsey brilliantly explained dispensationalism in terms everyone could understand. In its simplest formulation, dispensationalism posits that over the course of history God has made a series of covenants with his Chosen people. As humanity matured, so did the covenants. This often sounds similar to evolution, but let’s not make any Baptists’ heads explode. The covenants begin with the Jews and end with Christ establishing his kingdom on earth. However, none of the covenants would be broken, so the Jews would eventually be saved along with Christians. The fierce defense of Israel by the evangelical community can be seen in our politics; once evangelicals came to believe the establishment of Israel in 1948 fulfilled prophecy, it became absolutely essential that it continue to exist for The End to occur. Much of the rhetoric that surrounds the discussion of Israel in America is a direct reflection of dispensational theology. Currently we abide under the covenant of grace, which means the age of the church. There’s only one covenant left: the covenant of the kingdom, when Christ will return to set all things right. First, a lot of chaos has to ensue, which is where the arguments begin. Using Daniel, the writings of Paul, and Revelation, things get started with a period of Tribulation lasting seven years. Some people at my church believed Christians would be raptured into heaven before the trouble starts. I held this belief because I enjoyed padded pews and had no desire to suffer for my faith beyond a little name-calling. Others believed, based on Daniel, that the Elect would be raptured midway through the Tribulation, when the truly awful things started happening. Finally, a group of hardcore Christians held that believers had to prove their mettle by surviving the Tribulation, and then Christ would return to provide their eternal reward. These were the type of people that enjoyed camping. Depending on how you read the Bible, anywhere from a quarter to three-quarters of humanity perishes during the Tribulation. A great deal of this misery is caused by the antichrist, a figure under the control of Satan that creates a world government (today this story finds its way into stories of black helicopters and U.N. Agenda 21). During the Cold War, identifying Russia as the homeland of the antichrist made perfect sense for American evangelicals, and the existence of nuclear weapons made all that bloodshed in the Bible seem more

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than possible. Even more troubling, a country called Gog, sometimes along with another called Magog, would invade Israel during the Tribulation from the north, with Gog often symbolized by a bear. Nothing could appear more obvious until the Soviet Union collapsed, and Lindsey had to write a new book. The antichrist, also known as the Beast, supposedly rises after suffering a great wound and miraculously surviving. He unites all the nations and his servant, the False Prophet, declares that everyone must take the Mark of the Beast to survive: It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666. (Revelation 13.1618) How this mark would be administered consumed much time and speculation, because if you received the mark you were hopelessly lost: “They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb� (Revelation 14.10). I remember a surge of hysteria when bar codes began appearing in stores. Could this be the means for administering the mark? I knew some people refused to shop in stores that used the readers until nearly all merchants had adopted them and the panic settled. Biochips now raise the same alarms, although these fears are laughable when considering the fact your phone provides all the tracking any government will ever need. If the antichrist offers a free data plan, there will be no coercion required. So it went. The formation of the European Common Market was the rise of the new Roman empire as foretold in Revelation; then it was the European Union; the Euro would form the new worldwide currency everyone would be forced to use; that strange birthmark on Gorbachev’s head would become the miraculous wound that heals and he would emerge as the antichrist; China rising could only mean the wheels were in motion; on and on to today with Lindsey suggesting at one point President Obama might be the antichrist.

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Somewhere along the way, these portents transformed from things we should guard against and fight to signs we should accept and perhaps even hasten, because they all formed part of The Inevitable we could not escape. *

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While a conviction your generation presides over the last days can make one feel oh so special, as Frank Kermode points out in A Sense of an Ending, it utterly poisons our ability to make the present more habitable. The point of watching a Thief in the Night and studying the Book of Revelation (written by John “J.J. Abrams” of Patmos) was to get yourself and those you loved in a right relationship with The Hammer. Presumably this meant behaving kindly toward the rest of humanity and working to alleviate the suffering of the present. But what often happened instead was a feeling of smug superiority as you dwelt in the knowledge your spiritual Powerball ticket would come up a winner. So why bother with this tiresome, sin-addled world with its inconvenient problems and imminent destruction? America’s preoccupation with eschatology in religion has seeped out into every area of life and has begun to paralyze our ability to perform the simplest functions of civil society. It is one thing to believe the world is going to eventually burn to the ground; it is quite another to constantly pour gasoline over everything and light matches. Because to validate their view of the future, a very determined group of people in America want the basic functions of daily life to fail in the most spectacular way possible. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. No one. But most people cannot abide that level of uncertainty, so we create a narrative that describes The Inevitable we believe will come and begin to live the present in accordance with that story. And the narrative that has captured the imagination of a segment of our culture is one that says we have so utterly lost our way that no good can occur until everything and everyone that contradicts that vision must be swept away. This outlook turns its back on America’s history; it rejects the idea of redemption and change; it scorns diversity and compromise; it clamors about freedom while seeking to deny it to everyone but the brethren (who they constantly winnow at every opportunity when they detect any taint of impurity). And in the most stunning development of all, this narrative must be maintained even when it harms the well-being of those espousing it.

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As Stephen Pinker points out in The Better Angels of our Nature, violence has taken an amazing descent around the world. The incidence of murder in the United States has reached all-time lows, even with the tragic mass shootings that seem a constant occurrence. But you would never believe such facts against the backdrop of the constant hysteria that demands an escalation of arms and security. The narrative that society will soon disintegrate with danger lurking around every corner (usually with a black or brown face) continually wins out over actual reality. People that have embraced a dystopian future of The Inevitable must maintain that story at all costs. They reject every sign that contradicts their outlook. Such people have always existed, but when they begin to infiltrate the highest levels of politics, religion, and business, bad things start to happen for everyone. Because despite all the rhetoric about restoring this virtue or repairing that wrong, such people need America to fail to validate the future they have constructed and cling to for solace. No matter how rich they become, there is a law or tax or person waiting to take it all away; no matter how beneficial a policy, some insidious, hidden intent lurks behind it; no matter how tightly they rig the system in their favor, they are the victims of injustice. These attitudes are about power, about control, about hate, about selfishness, parading in the guise of our best interests and salvation. I eventually chose to simply tell the people of The Inevitable no. Thank you for your amusing tale of impeding apocalypse, but we choose to believe in a brighter tomorrow, fashioned from our own story of hope. We choose to look at the problems looming before us so we can discover solutions not excuses. We will reach out and let go so others can find inclusion and contribute to our communities. When we suffer disappointment, we will adjust and forge a new path. That’s a future worth walking towards, that’s a future to make the present full of light, that’s a future just as tenuous as your dark predictions, but it is predicated on the soaring of imagination and not the failure of it.

Shawn Crawford lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, surrounded by the Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan archives, the Cain’s Ballroom, and the spirit of Leon Russell. He left academics to make some real coin in the nonprofit sector, currently directing the foundation of the Tulsa City-County Library system. Born in Kansas, his mother is named Dorothy. No he’s not joking, yes he’s seen a tornado, and no people in Kansas do not grow up in a world devoid of color. Email: sdcrawford65 [at] gmail.com

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Sylvia Madrigal Ten Thousand Hours of No

I am sobbing. Full on ugly crying. I look around the Castle Mall Vue Cinema and I see that there are only six other people in the theater. On the screen is Emma Stone. She, too, is sobbing. She’s playing Billie Jean King and she’s in the locker room. She’s just gotten off the court after having beaten Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes. I had gone to the movie because I thought it would be uplifting. So I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on with this full-body heaving. It took me back to that September day in Texas in 1973. I had just turned fifteen. I had asked my parents if they would take me to Houston to see the match, but I knew they would say no. We couldn’t afford the gasoline for the eight-hour drive; we couldn’t afford the tickets, or a motel. Although we could have slept in the back of the green station wagon the way we did when we went to visit relatives in Mexico. So I’m watching the match on TV at home, alone. And every time Billie Jean loses a point, it’s like a dagger in my heart. Because you see, I too was fighting a Battle of the Sexes. With my macho brother. When he wanted to destroy me, he would bring out his big-gun insult which was to call me a feminist. And it worked, because in this, both my cultures agreed: girls were inferior, and good only for cooking and cleaning and being pleasing to the eye. My whole life was riding on Billie Jean’s win. I needed her to prove them wrong. But being a girl wasn’t my only problem. Being Mexican wasn’t so hot either. Let me tell you about the town I was born in, San Benito, Texas. Spitting distance from the Mexican border. Population 16,000 back then. Ninety-five percent of the population was Mexican and five per cent was American. It was pretty obvious to anyone, even a kid, that it was the Mexicans who picked the cotton, picked the citrus fruit, did the hard agricultural labor in the town. And the white Americans owned the businesses, ran the schools, ran the town, and lived on the beautiful side of the tracks. In junior high, I had to go to a Texas History class where I was reminded pretty much daily that I was a descendant of the evil Mexicans who had destroyed the brave white American heroes at the Alamo. In fact, all the streets in our town were named after those great white American heroes: we lived on Ben Milam, the main street was Sam Houston, and I had friends who lived on Davy Crockett.

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I had hit the trifecta of diversity. But we didn’t have words like diversity then. We didn’t have words like gender equality and income inequality. The word I had for woman was weak, the word I had for Mexican was illiterate, and the word I had for poor was disadvantaged. There is a school of spiritual thought that says your soul gets together with the souls of the important people in your life and they meet before you are born to make a sacred contract. Don’t apply too much logic to this. It means that your soul picks your birth parents and the time and place of your birth. When I heard this theory, I was like, “Why would my soul do this to me? Make me a poor Mexican female in 1960s Texas?” And then just for fun, my soul added another category: gay. My soul had entered me in the Grand Slam of Shame. What happens to a kid in those four categories? Basically, you enter a World of No’s. As a Mexican, it was “No, you can’t speak Spanish on the playground. If we catch you, we have a big wooden paddle with holes in it which are meant to leave red welts on your skin.” In high school, it was “No, you can’t go to Yale.” We had a white counselor who told the Yale Chicano recruiter that there wasn’t anybody smart enough in that school to go to Yale, and that he shouldn’t bother wasting his time. As a girl, the no’s were different. “No, you can’t be an altar boy. No you can’t wear trousers to church. No you can’t buy those desert boots.” My dad would give me and my sister a quarter every Friday as our allowance. I don’t know how long it took me, but I had my heart set on those desert boots. When I finally had saved enough, and I went into the store, the clerk told me it was illegal to sell a boy’s shoe to a girl. In high school, it was “No, you can’t choose from the world of sports. Girls can only play tennis or volleyball.” I hated volleyball. And in terms of electives, it was “No, you can’t take woodworking or auto mechanics.” I still can’t change a flat tire. “You have to take homemaking, or if you’re really ambitious, you can take Typing or Shorthand.” As a poor person, the No’s are too many to recount here, but the one I remember the most is when I asked my parents if I could try out for the high school tennis team. My Dad said no because we couldn’t afford the thirty-five dollars I would need for the wooden tennis racket. I didn’t get any No’s for being gay in Texas, because I wasn’t out yet. I was still dating boys. Those no’s came later in life: “No, you can’t hold hands in public. No you can’t marry the woman you love. No you can’t reap the benefits of a joint income tax return.” Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 80


The No’s I heard at Yale were at a whole other level. The first class of women was the Class of 1971 and I was in the class of 1979. They were telling me no’s for things I didn’t even know existed. Like Secret Societies. They were big imposing buildings with no windows. Who knows what went on in there. Only white men were tapped into those societies. And there was a private club, Mory’s, it just looked like a fancy restaurant that I walked past every day to get to class. Women and minorities were not allowed in there. In terms of academics, there were elite seminars that you had to apply to. Only ten students were chosen. The only seminar I could ever get into was a Native American Studies one. So while my white classmates were studying fiction with Gordon Lish, or Shakespeare with Harold Bloom, I was learning how to build a sweat lodge out of tree branches in the Connecticut woods. My freshman year roommate, Evi, was a New Yorker. She told me pretty early on, about two weeks in, that my presence at the university as an Affirmative Action student degraded the value of her diploma. “So, no, you can’t eat with me at the dining hall.” The Freshman dining hall, Commons, was a huge building with white pillars. When you walked in, to the left was the black table, then the Asian table, then the Hispanic table. Then there was a sea of white tables. I had never seen so many white people in my life. Of course it’s a free country, and you could sit wherever you wanted, but it was pretty awkward if you didn’t sit at your designated table. You’ve heard the theory of the ten thousand hours? If you want to become expert at anything, all you have to do is spend ten thousand hours doing that thing. It’s the theory behind why Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were so successful, because they had been tinkering with computers for ten thousand hours before they hit puberty. That was my superskill. I had spent ten thousand hours facing down no’s before I graduated from university. Somewhere in my twisted little girl mind, I developed the idea that a no was not a no. That it was just a temporary obstacle. And it was my one job to figure out the workaround. So, at that elementary school, I made my little friends cross the street to speak Spanish, because technically, we were not on the playground. My mother scraped together the thirty-five dollars for the racket and hand made my tennis dresses and I became the Number One singles player at my school. I got into Yale, and when I got there, as part of the work-study program, I got a job at the Admissions Office so I could go back to Texas and recruit even more disadvantaged Mexicans to go to Yale. As a professional, I became an author of Spanish textbooks. I made a career out of the language that they had forbidden me to speak. And in a weird twist of fate, I did a Yale Writer’s Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 81


Conference in 2013. I was in my mid-fifties. For some reason, that year they decided to do the student readings at Mory’s. So I was finally able to enter the place that I was not allowed to set foot in when I was a student. Of course you can’t overcome all the no’s the world throws at you. I never bought those desert boots. I couldn’t play singles at Yale because the girls I had to compete with had all trained at Chrissie Evert’s father’s academy in Florida. And even though Gail and I were together for thirty years, we were never able to marry. The Supreme Court approved same sex marriage six months after she died. The other thing I learned in those ten thousand hours was that the no’s that the world throws at you are not as hard to overcome as the no’s you throw at yourself. “No, you can’t do public speaking. No, you can’t write a novel. No, you’re not good enough to (fill-in-the-blank.)” In another twist of fate, Gail and I moved to Newport, Rhode Island which happens to be the home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Every July, all the tennis elite come to Newport to induct the newest member. One day, as I was walking out of the grocery store across the street from the Hall of Fame, who is standing there but Rosie Casals and Billie Jean King? Before the 45-year old in me could say No, the 15-year old in me screamed: “Billie Jean! You’re my HERO!” She turned to look at me, to see if I was a lunatic, I think. When she saw me, a huge smile lit up her face. She reached out to shake my hand, and said, “Thank you.” I floated away. My mother, when she passed away last year, had lived in a gorgeous home for over twenty years on the right side of the tracks. Billie Jean is still fighting for equal pay for women in tennis, but the tennis complex in New York where the U.S. Open is played was recently renamed the Billie Jean King Tennis Centre. Because of women like my mother, and Billie Jean, and a million other women along the way, every time I see a “No”, I add a “W” for Woman, and it becomes “Now”. Now, Now’s the Time for all of us to be Billie Jeans.

Sylvia Madrigal was born and raised in San Benito, Texas, a Mexican border town. She received a B.A. in English in 1979 from Yale University. For over thirty years, Sylvia was an author and editor of educational Spanish language texts. She is currently a candidate for an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England.

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Tony Taddei The Winter Bar He wants this first winter storm of 1968 to end now so his neighbors can watch him blow the snow off his property. All night it’s been snowing. The black machine sits beside him in the garage with its swivel chute and chained tires, spindle oil and fresh gasoline perfuming each piston: it doesn’t solve any of his bigger problems, but it does make him feel like a king. This Saturday morning, for once, Gino is a man who could be in control. A guy who can simply chase away the snow and then stand there in his cleared driveway drinking good liquor from a shot glass to keep warm, pitying all the saps in the neighborhood who are watching and can’t do what he has just done. The dog is standing with Gino in the garage, panting next to the Montgomery Ward snow blower. But as much as he loves the dog, the never-ending love he gets from the dog, and the fact that he even owns a dog, right now Gino loves the new snow blower more. Having gone ten rounds with his wife Frances in order to get it – fighting with her for days on end, and then finally winning on a technicality, that they had to buy it out of their meager savings from his cop’s salary if she didn’t want him to have a heart attack in the driveway – Gino feels he’s earned the right to show off his new machine. Yes, he’s the first of his neighbors to own one. But better than that: he’s the first of the Santorelli brothers to have brought home this prize. And that is the best part of all, him being the baby brother. Him being the one who got the short end of the shovel when one of these northeast winter whiteouts trapped him, his brothers and his immigrant parents inside their rented house where he was pushed to the head of the line to go outside and dig a tunnel to freedom. Squinting, Gino can see that the surging snow is rapidly deleting the boot prints he tracked across the driveway when he walked from the house to the pre-fab garage. At the same time, the dog’s paw prints are nowhere to be found. He is still not fully-grown, still no more than forty pounds of boxer and shepherd packed into a shorthaired hide. It makes sense that the dog’s prints would be the first to go. “Sit,” Gino snaps at the dog. “Sit.” The dog runs in a circle around the snow blower. He barks. “Douglas, sit down.” The dog leaps out of the open mouth of the garage. He takes a bite at the cascade of falling snow and then dives chest first into a drift. “Dougy,” Gino yells. This fluffy, white mound where the dog landed does not seem to have met his expectations of security and warmth. Wriggling out of the drift, he returns to the garage, shaking off the melting flakes. He sits without being told. “Good boy,” Gino says. Kneeling next to the snow blower, Gino sets the choke. The snow, although falling faster than before, is slowly thickening into larger and larger flakes. This is the storm’s last gasp before it runs out of power. Gino stands, keeping his back bent, and pulls at the cord of the blower. It fires. The dog backs up under the car, huffing, his raised fur bristling against the fender as he buries his body in shadows. The sun is out before Gino is done cutting a path from his garage to the back door of his house. Gino’s neighbor Ted Connolly is also out. He’s studying Gino from under an aluminum awning that hangs over his patio. Ted has a shovel in the crook of his arm and he waves at Gino. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 83


Gino waves back, cocky, taking one hand off the handle of the snow blower as if he’s practiced this a thousand times. The snow blower cuts to the right, starting an unplanned path over Gino’s buried lawn. Gino gets his hand back onto the handle but it’s a second too late. Something clangs and then crunches alarmingly, making a racket in the screw housing of the blower. Momentarily, the throat of the machine is blocked. Then, heaving, it coughs up a fresh stream of snow, not the pristine fluff it had sucked up from the driveway, but a mix of slush and soil and dead grass infused with shards of yellow and red plastic. Damn kids, Gino thinks. Toys everywhere. Ted Connolly everywhere, too: always there, always watching, always giving Gino advice about everything. How easy it is for Gino to be suspicious of hairless, non-Italian guys like Ted. It’s in Gino’s first generation blood. At times like this his heart pumps mistrust, and right now his heart is telling him that Ted Connolly doesn’t deserve another damn thing from him. Not a recovery wave, or shrug, not even a sarcastic grin to indicate how it’s Gino’s belief that things always seem to go wrong even when you’re just trying to be polite to a neighbor. You get punished for every good thing you do, Gino can still hear his father Vittorio mumbling. Gino running over one of his kid’s toys because he took the time to wave at Ted is Ted’s fault. Fuck Ted. Gino pulls back the gear lever that propels the blower. After four or five attempts, he finds reverse and backs the machine off his lawn wishing he’d looked at the manual even once. With the tires on the driveway again he allows himself a single peek at Ted’s house, but Ted is gone. A shade rises in Gino’s kitchen window. His wife is standing there, window sheers pinned apart with the thumb and forefinger of each hand, her face framed in synthetic lace. Frances is still sort of pretty, more so with the bridal veil of curtain around her cheeks, but she’s getting a little chubby and their two kids are standing bosom high in front of her, which spoils it for Gino right away. It’s not that he doesn’t love his kids. He loves them enough. But once they arrived, Frances – curvy, little Frannie Arnone who let him get so much farther up her skirt than any other decent girl ever did – started acting as if he, being a cop and all and having gotten her pregnant so that they had to get married, had put her behind bars. If only she knew how much he feels like the one who’s in prison. Frances is rapping on the window with her knuckle now, tilting her chin at the spot where Gino just mangled the toy on the lawn. Accusatory. Questioning. “What?” Gino says as if his wife could hear him over the roar of the blower. Frances points again at the vomit of snow, grass and broken toy. “Okay . . . Okay,” he yells. What the hell does she want him to do about it now? All I ever do is work, and all I ever hear about is what I did wrong. It’s then that Gino notices the face of his five-year-old daughter. She is standing at her mother’s side, pouting. It must have been her toy. But Gino’s son, little Gene, just below his mother’s collarbone, has a big smile on his face. Gino can’t tell if the kid is smiling because he likes seeing his little sister in pain or because when the toy exploded out of the blower it was the most exciting thing that happened in this housing development for quite some time. Gino idles the blower and sweeps the backs of his hands at the window, pushing them outward like a wizard who uses this gesture to clear away people who no longer amuse him. His wife and kids probably don’t see it that way, though, and none of them move from the window. “Go away,” he shouts. “I’m busy out here.” Frances shakes her head with disdain; she is not going anywhere. They lock eyes, Frances and Gino, and when Gino is just about to give up and ignore her and maybe for the rest of the day, if he Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 84


can, she yanks the kids, not at all gently, away from the window. The last thing Gino sees before she pulls down the shade is the flame of a match as she lights a cigarette. Hearing Gino shout, the dog has gotten up from where he’s been lying in the sun by the garage and is now sitting next to Gino on the path that he’s cleared. By now, the dog has become accustomed to the blower’s growling and he seems to be waiting for Gino to tell him what to do. Gino waves his hands at the dog in the same way he waved them at his wife and kids, this time sweeping them toward the garage. The dog stands up. At least someone is listening to me, Gino thinks without fully recognizing what this means to him. The dog trots back to the garage and resets himself, completely satisfied, in the sun’s great light as Gino finishes clearing the driveway. Ultimately, it’s the liquor that brings Ted into Gino’s yard. It’s taken Gino only thirty minutes to blow the snow off every thoroughfare on his property: driveway, back path, front path, even a single slim alley across his postage stamp patio from the dining room door to the clothes line. Through frigid weather tempered only slightly by sun and wool clothing, Gino has cleared his kingdom of the confusion that snow brings. Gino is so proud of himself that when he finally brings out the scotch he feels is his due for the work he’s done, he uses an old iron shovel to pile up a four foot high column of snow in order to fashion a kind of bar where he can display his bottle and glass. Sipping his first drink, he makes the top of his bar flatter and smoother by running his gloved palm over it again and again. Soon the bar is level enough for the bottle to sit on without rocking. The dog has joined Gino and is taking bites out of Gino’s bar, enjoying a good chew of the icy bits he finds in there. Gino is content to let him bite away. They seem to be of one mind, Gino and Douglas. So much so that when the dog stops chewing and looks at Gino with a question in his eyes, Gino answers him by finding a golf ball size chunk of snow next to the bar and, dousing it with a half shot of scotch, lets the dog eat it gratefully out of his hand. Grrr, the dog drones lowly. Gino is filling his glass again when Ted Connolly walks over, his boots crunching on the crystals of ice that are layering the shaded ground near Gino’s house. Ted was only halfway through with his shoveling when he saw Gino come out with the bottle. At the top of Gino’s driveway, before he comes to a full stop, Ted points to the blower cooling its engine on the snow-pocked blacktop. “First time using it, huh?” he asks. Gino nods. Ted stops with three feet between them. He raises an eyebrow and lowers his chin toward the bottle on the make shift bar. “Still chilly today, huh? Even with the sun.” “You want one?” Gino asks. “I wouldn’t say no.” “Sure,” Gino says, thinking, keep your enemies close and loving how Ted has all but groveled up his driveway for this drink. “Be right back,” he says to Ted. Gino turns and walks toward his house to get another glass. Before he reaches the back door he see’s Ted’s wife Vicky, stepping out onto the Connolly’s patio, zipping up her coat against the iced wind under the awning. Vicki is a blond with big teeth and an incongruously large chest who always looks to Gino like she has forgotten where she lives and that she has a husband living there with her. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 85


Vicki isn’t exactly a bombshell, but with two scotches in him and more on the way Gino wouldn’t mind finding out if there isn’t something about Vicki that he’s missing. Gino opens the back door of his house. He decides he’ll get two glasses to bring back outside. They have been drinking for close to an hour when Ted remembers that he hasn’t finished shoveling his front walk or driveway. During that time Gino got Vicki to join them at his snow-built bar and also invited over two other neighbors who were out clearing their front walks. There’s Pat Berger, an Irish police detective who Gino sort of knows from the force where Gino has still not been promoted beyond the rank of patrolman. And standing next to Pat is Bobby Caruso, a plumber and the only other full Italian in the neighborhood, though he’s got about twenty-five years and fifty pounds on Gino. Gino waved these two over from their respective houses after Vicki joined them because he wants to have a party now in his own, snow-blown backyard. It’s the dog’s barking which reminds Ted that he needs to get moving again. Ignored by Gino for too long, the dog has strayed away from the group and is burrowing into the snow that’s accumulated under a split rail fence at the edge of Ted’s front walk, not far from the spot where Ted gave up and put down his shovel. The dog starts to bark when his paws hit a fence post that he cannot wrest free with his digging. “Douglas,” Gino calls. The dog forgets about what he’s found and comes running. Ted sees where the dog has been and drunkenly says, “I better finish up.” Vicki looks over from where she has been standing beside the makeshift bar, first at Gino and then at her husband. Along with the bottle of scotch, there is now a bottle of bourbon and a bottle of blackberry brandy on the bar, placed there by Gino who went into the house to get them after Vicki and Bobby and Pat arrived, sneaking this extra liquor out past Frances who has been doing laundry in the basement. When Vicki – who’s been drinking the blackberry brandy – starts frowning at Ted, Gino, now on his fourth scotch, chooses to interpret this as a sign that she might like Ted to go finish shoveling their walk so she can spend a little non-Ted time with Gino. But Ted hesitates when Vicki frowns at him. At first Gino thinks it’s because Ted has caught on that Vicki might want to get rid of him. Then, he sees Ted eyeing the snow blower. Bobby Caruso and Pat Berger also see Ted ogling the blower. “Nice looking machine, isn’t it?” says Pat to Ted. “How many horses is that?” asks Bobby Caruso of Gino. “Eight or ten,” Gino says, smiling with intent at Vicki. “It gets the job done.” If Gino felt any more superior at the moment somebody would have to put a crown on his head. The dog sees Gino puffed out and surer than he’s ever seen him and he lifts his haunches and resets his flanks at Gino’s heels. Gino places his hand on the top of the dog’s head and he slugs back the rest of the scotch in his glass before pouring himself another. The dog unrolls his tongue from his mouth and lets it hang. “You should let Ted take it out for a spin to finish up his sidewalk,” says Pat Berger to Gino. And you should shut your drunken, German-Irish mouth, Gino thinks. As old, fat and dumb as he is, Gino knows that Bobby Caruso, standing there watching this, would never do such a thing. No Italian guy would ever offer up another man’s property. He’s about to tell all of them to get the fuck out of his yard, when Vicki places her fingertips between Gino’s glove and his coat, tickling the inside of his wrist. “Can I have just a little bit more,” she says, pointing at the bottle of blackberry brandy. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 86


Right there and then the rest of the morning and afternoon takes shape for Gino. He’s got Vicki drunker than he is and undressed on a bed in a motel on Derby Avenue. He’ll pay for the whole night, but they’ll only need a couple of hours. Fuck Bobby and Pat, all Gino’s got to do is get rid of Ted for a few minutes so he can set it up. “You ever use a snow blower before?” he asks Ted, feigning more authority than is appropriate since he himself had never used a snow blower before today. “I know how,” says Ted. And everyone in the driveway knows it’s a lie. “I’ll keep an eye on him,” slurs Pat Berger. “My brother-in-law Sammy got one last year. They aren’t that hard to figure out.” He steps closer to Ted and the blower but then stops and looks at the dog. The dog has been glaring at Pat, listening to his voice: the slurred, dishonest yelping of some creature trying to trap him and the man who is his God. Ted makes his move toward the blower. Then Pat steps in again and Bobby Caruso follows too. “Okay, you guys have a ball,” Gino says. “Knock yourselves out.” Vicki smiles at him. He doesn’t quite know why, but then all of a sudden Gino understands that – in terms of Vicki - what he just said to the other men was exactly the right thing to say. He couldn’t have made a better move. Gallant. Vicki thinks he was being gallant – gracious and gentlemanly, all the things that Ted is not. Gino isn’t any of these things either, but he is not going to let Vicki catch on to that. He’s going to let go of the snow blower now, set aside his resentment, and play this up all the way to the motel on Derby Avenue. “If you need more gas, there’s a can in the garage,” he calls to Ted, more loudly than he has to. Ted, plastered with scotch, has begun to wrangle the cold snow blower down the driveway toward the sidewalk in the front of their houses, Pat and Bobby stumbling single file behind him. The snow blower has not yet been started and Gino can hear the gears whine in the blower’s toaster-sized transmission, engaging in a way that can’t be good. Gino.

The dog barks at the three men he sees making off with his God’s property. Then he barks at

“Quiet, Douglas,” Gino says. The dog stops barking, flattening back his ears while narrowing his eyes. “Plenty of gas,” Ted yells back at Gino from out on the sidewalk. Holding the gas cap in his hand, he has closed one eye and is using the other to peek into the tank. Gino ignores Ted. Not because he isn’t still worried about how Ted might misuse the snow blower, but because at the moment Ted speaks, Vicki flicks away a bead of sweat from Gino’s unshaven chin. “You’re perspiring,” she says sweetly. Not “sweating,” Gino thinks, “perspiring.” He would take her right here, right now if he could and lay her down on the driveway. Out on the sidewalk, Ted pulls the cord to start the snow blower, combusting the quiet of the neighborhood. Ted jams it into drive, straining to hold the blower steady as Bobby and Pat shout instructions and the blower fishtails from curb to fence. Gino pivots his head away from this melee to look again at Vicki and it’s then he sees that Frances has reappeared in the kitchen window, this time without the kids. Did she see Vicki touch his face? Not knowing either way, Gino decides to pretend as if nothing is happening and he smiles at Frances and raises his glass to her. Vicki also smiles and raises her glass to Frances who nearly tears the curtains off the wall pulling them shut. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 87


For his part, the dog doesn’t seem to know what’s going on. As if bearing down on a puzzle, he sweeps his head right, left and center, from the kitchen window to Vicki to Gino, and then he runs full out toward the men with the machine. Out on the sidewalk, Ted has given up trying to cut a straight and regular path; he’s too drunk and does not seem to care. Bobby and Pat have run back up the driveway and, before Gino could stop them, they snatched the bottle of bourbon off the bar and ran with it back to the street where they are now laughing at Ted, egging him on to do an even worse job than he’s been doing. A city snowplow turns onto the street and slows to watch the gradually building mayhem. Gino sees the driver in the plow staring at Pat and Ted. Pat has his coat off now and is waving it at Ted like a matador trying to enrage a bull as Ted attempts to dislodge the snow blower from between two fence posts where he’s gotten it stuck. Bobby notices the driver in the plow and lifts the bottle of bourbon toward him, all friendly inebriation. But in this scenario the driver defines sober. Guy’s probably been out since three a.m. is what Gino thinks watching the driver shake his head in disgust at the three men with the blower. Gino knows that the time has come to make his move on Vicki. He’s torn, of course, but it’s now or never. No matter what else he feels about what’s happening to his snow blower, Gino knows that at this point he couldn’t stop himself from trying to fuck Vicki even if he wanted to. He looks at the kitchen window to make sure that the shade is down and the curtains are still shut and then he curls his arm around Vicki’s waist. Looking into her bloodshot eyes, he hears but does not see the snowplow’s unnerving forward scrape of the street. The dog too has watched the plow. And now that it’s gone past he again turns his attention to Pat, Bobby and Ted, slowly curling his lip and baring his teeth at what he sees, a growl growing deep within his throat. On the sidewalk, Bobby approaches Ted and makes him take a swig from the bottle of bourbon even while Ted continues to yank at the blower, trying to dislodge it from between the fence posts. Pat joins them and, after taking the bottle from Bobby and pouring some bourbon into his own mouth, he wraps his hands around Ted’s chest and proceeds to pull backwards, adding his unsteady weight to the task of freeing the blower. The dog barks and barks again but the men pay no attention to him. So he barks one last time and getting no response on this final warning he lunges at Pat’s right arm. Gino is just about to whisper something provocative into Vicki’s ear and Vicki is about to listen when he hears the dog bark and looks over to catch him in the act of tearing at the sleeve of Pat’s coat. “Dougy,” Gino screams. “It’s okay,” Vicki coos. She hasn’t been looking at the sidewalk to see what’s going on. “They’re only having fun.” She purrs the word “fun.” But fun has left the neighborhood and nothing but free will and the unchecked rights of liberty are left to take its place. Watching what comes next, time speeds up for Gino. Pat, shaking the dog off the sleeve of his coat, backs up and raises the bottle of bourbon over his head. But he’s not really looking at anything other than the dog. If he were he’d see that he is standing on an icy patch of sidewalk. Gino, however, sees the whole thing. He watches Pat swing at the dog. But missing the animal by a good foot or more, he slips on the sidewalk, his feet, legs, arms and hands rising into the air so that there is nothing to cushion his fall but the stud of his coccyx bone. Gino can almost hear the bone crack against the pavement through the roar of the snow blower. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 88


“Are you fucking crazy?” Gino screams out toward Pat on the sidewalk. Hearing Gino’s voice the dog backs away and begins to growl fiendishly at the man with the bottle sticking upside down in the snow beside him. The dog appears not to be sure if his God man’s anger is meant for him and he seems to wants to say something about this, something to the effect of I want to protect you, I want to defend you, I want to kill or be killed for you. It is at that precise moment, that Ted and Bobby finally free the blower from the fence. The snow blower dislodges and they both swerve backwards. By then they have seen Pat on the ground so as they start to lose their balance they throw their weight in the opposite direction to avoid falling on both him and the dog. The problem is that when Ted does finally fall he keeps one fist on the handle of the snow blower, causing the open mouth of the machine to pivot one hundred and eighty degrees, it’s spinning blades pointed directly at the dog. Pat, still on the ground, sees what’s happening and to get the dog out of the way he reaches for his front paw, that little knob of fur that seems like a perfect place to grab an animal. But the dog snarls at this gesture, biting Pat’s hand, hard, before backing away slowly and right into the mouth of Gino’s American dream. Gino bellows and starts running down the driveway, leaving Vicky alone at his hand-made winter bar, knocking over the bottles of blackberry brandy and scotch as he kicks away from his desire for motel sex in a kingdom of his own making. All Gino wants now is for Vicki to disappear, for all of this to have been an illusion. On his way down the driveway, Gino conjures up his family. There is his father floating at the top of the driveway, his backbone like a soldier’s course of bricks, mumbling from under his Rudolph Valentino mustache, something about Gino being arrogant and bigheaded and too sure of himself. Gino ignores his father, but then runs smack into the image of his three older brothers blocking the path between him and his bleeding dog, all three of them sniggering at Gino and how clear it is that he’s still too much of a baby to handle even these little things this country gave him—a snow blower, a faithful dog and an easy woman who is not his wife. By the time he skids to a stop on the ice and lies down next to the dog, Gino is whimpering: broken and empty and guilty as sin. Someone ¬– Gino does not know if it was Ted or Bobby ¬– hit the kill switch on the blower just in time, so it’s only the dog’s tail that is gone, not the whole dog. Gino makes himself look at the stump of the tail, a bleeding rag of fur dripping into the snow, and he sees that it is wagging, beating: I love you; I love you; I love you. Gino cradles the dog in his arms, resting his head sideways on the dog’s ribcage, pleading for God to forgive him, trying to remember what it was like before he wanted everything he wants. Around him in the street, Ted and Pat and Bobby are trying to apologize to Gino; one of them will fix the snow blower, another says he will run to get his car to take the dog to the vet. Over on his front porch, Gino’s almost still beautiful wife has opened the door and is trying to keep his kids from looking at the dog. Back in the driveway, the bottles from the winter bar have now drained into the snow. And Vicki has run away. But none of that matters any longer to Gino. All Gino will remember about any of this till the day he dies in the next American century, is the steadfast beating of the wounded dog’s heart. Tony Taddei holds an MFA in Fiction from Bennington College and is a past recipient of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship for prose fiction. His humor and short stories have appeared in Story Magazine, Folio, New Millennium Writings, The Funny Times, Bloodroot Literary Magazine, Pif Magazine and The Florida Review. He currently lives and works in New Jersey and has recently completed a novella as well as new book of linked short stories.

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Zach Riggs The Colorist | Part 1 It would’ve been a nice day if the sky wasn’t green. But for every one of Kevin Hartaugh’s 11,703 days, the sky had been green. Everyone told him green wasn’t normal. They all said the sky was blue. But he knew blue was the color of the trees. He sighed as he weaved his ‘97 Camry through Atlanta traffic. Purple taillights ran the length of I-75 as far as he could see. The hood of his Camry shone a gaudy bright orange. The listing had said it was silver. Kevin bought it anyways. He’d barely managed to pull off getting his driver’s license in the first place. Stop signs were all a deep-yellow, but for whatever reason red lights were cyan, with yellow lights a dark coral and green lights pink. He’d memorized all the correct colors with the Internet’s help. But one thing had still concerned him: the vision test. He couldn’t find the right colors online. At the DMV counter, a woman with a nose ring told Kevin to look through the goggles on his left. They pointed down into a stereographed image of a road lined by fences, leading to a tree on a hill with a barn on the right. A little man stood under the tree. To Kevin the sky was green, the grass blue, the fence turquoise and the barn a fluorescent indigo. Nose-Ring asked Kevin, “What do you see?” Kevin told her. He left out the colors. “Which way is the farmer facing?” Kevin hadn’t supposed he was a farmer. But this farmer clearly faced left. Kevin had perfect vision at 20/20. Correct again. Then came the crucial question. “What color is the barn?” Indigo. Clearly fluorescent indigo. But that couldn’t be right. Kevin licked his chapped lips, pressed them together. He had to guess. “Red.” He passed. Now he drove downtown in Friday traffic to visit another doctor. He’d seen many optometrists as a boy, ever since Kevin’s mother had one day mentioned how pretty the blue sky was, and Kevin Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 90


corrected her. No optometrist he saw had ever encountered such a peculiar specimen as Kevin. Most did not believe his disability and asked his mother if Kevin was a middle child, or perhaps adopted? No one found a cure. But Jenna, Kevin’s coworker from the firm, had suggested one more doctor. Kevin only let a few know his condition. He was a quiet man at work, and learned to live with the perpetual reminder that everything he saw was wildly incorrect. But after work one night, Kevin had one too many drinks. “Hey…” he slurred to Jenna next to him at the bar. “You know what. I love your red hair.” Jenna glared at him. “Wow. You must be pretty hammered if you think my hair’s red.” For a moment, Kevin remembered himself. “Oh… I forgot. I can’t see colors right.” Then he laughed until his face turned teal. The next day Jenna confronted a hungover Kevin. “What did you mean, you can’t see colors right?” Kevin shrugged. “C’mon, Jen, I was drunk. Don’t listen to what I said.” But Jenna’s mother had been stubborn, and Jenna had inherited that gene. “No. I could tell. You really think my hair’s red. Do you have a condition or something?” She held up a sheet of paper. “Can you see this?” It was just a white spreadsheet with a bunch of numbers all over it. It was the reason Kevin had gone into accounting in the first place. Plenty of black and white, which he could see fine. Few colors, if any. The only real trouble was when Charlie the receptionist colored-coded everyone’s birthdays. Kevin didn’t wish anyone happy birthday until the cake came out. “Of course I can,” he told Jenna. “It’s just numbers.” Jenna cast the paper aside, “Look, my hair’s blonde. Not red. OK? So tell me what colors I’m wearing?” She put her arms to her sides, stuck her chest out and waited for Kevin to appraise her blouse and slacks. “Um…” Jenna’s mouth gaped. “You really can’t tell, can you?” Kevin hung his head (balding, just as his father and his father’s father). Finally he said, “Your blouse looks gold and your pants look blue.” Jenna shook her head, her flaming red bangs waving, her mouth still gaping. From then on, Jenna quietly helped Kevin with colors around the office. Now Kevin had found an outlet—someone to communicate with about the way he saw the world. And Jenna never ran out of questions, insatiably curious about the color of this folder, or that fern standing in the corner, or VP Bob Bank’s toupee (violet, beige and baby blue, respectively). Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 91


Then Jenna discovered a specialized optometrist, Dr. Wylan McNeal. “Jenna, I’ve seen dozens of eye doctors,” Kevin said. “They can’t help me.” “How do you know? Just go and see.” “What makes this guy any different?” “Who knows if you don’t go!” For two weeks straight, Jenna bugged Kevin everyday about going, even texting him on weekends. And now here he was, pulling between cherry-colored parking lines, filing into an emerald elevator, marching through office glass doors that said McNeal Experiments in bold, bright magenta. “Experiments?” Kevin said to himself before he went in. (He was a man who regularly spoke to himself when alone.) A receptionist greeted him. She had eyes the color of tangerines. She was a large woman and seemed proud of it. “Hello,” Kevin said, “I think I have the wrong place. I’m looking for an optometrist’s office.” The receptionist smiled and the tangerines exploded into sunbursts. “Oh no, you’re in just the right spot. Sign here… and here… and here… and you’ll see Dr. Wylan shortly.” An hour trickled by. Kevin came close to leaving the wicked torture device this office called a chair and going home. But just then a man of impeccable stature crashed through the far door. “Mista Hartaugh!” The giant standing in the doorway sported wild stringy hair the color of sassafras along with red pepper eyebrows that stood at an impossible angle. “I’m Dr. Wylan. Follow me.” Kevin sprung from his tormented position and followed the doctor. Part 2 “So, uh. What seems to be the problem?” Kevin sat in a white room on a white table and talked to a doctor dressed in white. He noticed Dr. Wylan jittered, like he was nervous or cold or both. “Well, Dr. McNeal—” “It’s Dr. Wylan.”

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“Well, Dr. Wylan,” Kevin said. “I can’t see colors right.” “I see. And who says?” “Who says what? “Who says you can’t see colors right?” “Well. Everybody.” “Mmhmm, mmhmm,” Dr. Wylan jotted on a clipboard and mumbled something imperceptible. Then he said, “Got a girlfriend?” “What? No. What’s that got to do—” “Oh, I’ve seen some strange cases walk in here. Almost all of them were related to love.” “Love?” “Oh yeah. Love.” Kevin wondered if Dr. Wylan had snorted cocaine right before he met him. “Nope. No girlfriend.” Dr. Wylan kept jotting. “Any urinary problems?” “What?” “Urinary problems. You know—taking a leak. Any issues?” “Um… no?” Dr. Wylan’s red-pepper eyebrows stood on end and he blew a heavy breath. “Oooh, boy. Okay. Let me look at them peepers.” He stood peering at Kevin’s eyes with a blinding light for a long, long time. The room became a coffin. Kevin held his breath as Dr. Wylan stood incredibly, uncomfortably close for what had to be hours. Finally the doctor settled back in his chair. “Well, Mista Hartaugh, to be honest, I can’t help you.” Kevin shrugged. “I figured.” “And that’s because,” Dr. Wylan stood again, “you don’t want to be helped.” “Aw, c’mon. Who are you, Dr. Phil?” “Dr. Phil, great man,” Dr. Wylan looked proud, “but no, I’m not. But I believe in the human body’s ability to work for itself… with a bit of experimentation to help it along. But none of that works if you believe you can’t be helped.” “That’s what everybody’s told me my whole life,” Kevin said. “Tell me something different.” Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 93


“Oh, I’ll tell you something different, alright. You’re not just helpable—” “Helpable?” “It’s in the dictionary.” Dr. Wylan licked his lips, clicked his cheek and pointed. “Look it up. Anyway I was saying you’re one of the easy ones.” “What?” “Oh, yeah. You wouldn’t believe who I’ve seen come through this office. You’d consider some of my cases… miracles. Yeah, that’s right.” “Like what?” “Well one guy came in here—wait. Can’t tell you. Confidential stuff.” “At least tell me what the case was.” The doctor hummed before he spoke. “Limb regeneration.” His eyes popped wide. “All I’m gonna say.” “OK... that’s interesting. But how do I really know you can cure my vision?” “Whoa, whoa!” Dr. Wylan jumped like an explosion hit the building. “Who said ANYTHING about the c-word!” It took Kevin a moment to realize he meant cure. “We don’t use that kind of language here,” the doctor said. “I don’t believe anyone—or anything— needs to be… cured.” He cringed as he said it. “Then… what? You’re a doctor, aren’t you?” “Enhanced, my color-confused friend. Enhanced is what we call it here. And that’s because the best way for the body to deal with a problem is not to get rid of the problem. It could just come back, y’know? Remission. So I believe the best solution is to evolve with the problem so that the problem isn’t a problem anymore.” His voice fluctuated, his eyes lit up. Clearly a passionate guy. “Wow. OK. So how do I do that?” “I can show you. We have our methods.” Kevin had seen a lot of doctors, and none had told him anything like what this crackpot was saying. Kevin couldn’t believe it, but… he was willing to give it a shot. “OK. Tell me what to do.” -

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Over the next few months, Dr. Wylan gave Kevin exercise after exercise for his vision. The doctor had special colored markers created. On the side they had both names for the color Kevin saw and the color others would see. The doctor gave Kevin color-by-number sheets, a whole zoo of animals on the pages. Dogs and cats, monkeys and fish, giraffes and elephants. By the time Kevin finished, they were heinous Frankenstein conglomerates of color. “Dr. Wylan. I feel like I’m back in pre-K.” “Maybe you are,” the doctor twitched. “Continue!” One day the doctor brought in a graphic designer with purple bedhead. She sat with Kevin in front of a huge screen. “OK, here’s a typical stock photo. Pretty American family at the beach,” she said. “What colors do you see?” Kevin told her about the purple-pink swimsuits, the blue-gray sand, the chocolatey water, the green sky. “Wow. That’s… uh… freaky,” she said. “OK. Now I’m gonna go through the color wheel and you tell me when you see the color blue. We’ll start with this.” “That’s green.” “How ‘bout this?” “More of a saffron.” “OK, this?” “Gamboge.” “This?” “Kinda madder.” “Holy sh—” Eventually they landed on a blue for Kevin. “That’s like… an avocado to me,” she said. “But hey, whatever, we found it.” Then she spread the blue which was actually avocado over the sky and the sea. She worked with Kevin to lighten and darken for highlights and shadows. And they kept on until Kevin gazed through a window into a normal world. The man and woman were barely thirites, tan bodies gleaming in the hot sun. They laughed as their children splashed and danced in the deep blue water. Bright yellow and absinthe swimsuits Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 95


complimented each other. The sand in their feet was the color of sand. Behind them, the ocean met the blue canopy above at the horizon. Kevin drank it all in, and sobbed. He didn’t go to work that day. Instead he drove four hours to the nearest beach. He sank into the bluish-gray sand, looked out to the horizon where the chocolatey water and green sky met. An ugly combination. With all his might, Kevin willed his eyes to see different. See right. Maybe by willpower he could change his perception into what he’d seen in the photo—blue and blue. Real life. He longed to step into it. He stayed there until the sun sank and the pale moon rose high overhead. At least he could see that correctly. His phone buzzed. “Hey, Jen.” “Hey. I didn’t see you at work today?” “I had to… take a trip. Should be back tomorrow.” “OK. You good?” “Not great.” Jenna sighed on the other end. “I’m sorry, Kevin.” “Yeah.” “Just… don’t give up, OK? It’s gonna get better.” “Heard that before.” “I know, but… still.” “Thanks, I guess.” “OK, well… you wanna talk or anything?” “Not really, Jen. I’ll see you later.” “OK… bye, Kev.” He hung up and drove home. The next day he threw himself into work, focusing on the black and white, spreadsheets, numbers, accounts, documents. He didn’t speak to Jenna. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 96


After work he drove home, ate cereal, watched old noir movies. The Third Man. Double Indemnity. The 39 Steps. He fell asleep and dreamed of a colorless beach. At his next appointment, Kevin asked for a printout of the beach photo. Then he asked for more. So the purple-haired designer sat with Kevin to give him more snapshots of normal life. “They’re all stock photos,” she said. Kevin didn’t care. A photo of a golden retriever playing fetch. A live rock band. An airplane flying high over the Rockies. A family at Thanksgiving. All these were drenched and draped in pleasing colors, not mucus greens, velvety purples, acid yellows and umber. He took these and hung them throughout his house. Beautiful, random snapshots, memories not his, people he didn’t know adorning every wall of his home. People smiling, laughing in a world of perfectly balanced color. His only glimpse into the new heavens and earth, of which he could never be a part. He ran out of wall space, so he brought more photos to work, hanging dozens on his olive cubicle wall. “Kevin. What are you doing?” He turned and saw Jenna eyeing him as he finished hanging a photo of a man teaching his grandkids to fish. “I, uh… these are just, some inspiration.” “Those pictures. They’re all wonky.” “Not to me. They’re… perfect.” An awkward pause. “Listen, Kev,” she said as she examined photo after photo, “this might be a little… unhealthy.” Kevin turned on her. “What are you talking about,” he snapped. “How would you know what’s unhealthy for me?” “I just think… this isn’t right!” she raised her voice. “You really need to—” “Stop!” he stood and roared, “Stop telling me what I need to do. That’s what got me here in the first place,” he motioned to the photos. “I was fine before, coping fine. But now I’m not—” He didn’t finish with because of you, because Jenna just stood there. He thought she might yell back, or storm out, but she stayed still, an almost-timid demeanor he’d never seen from her. He made himself inhale, exhale. “I need to get through this myself.” Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 97


She nodded and left, her red hair sweeping behind her. Weeks went by. Kevin saw no progress with his vision. Frustrated, he waited in the white room until the doctor burst in. “Mista Hartaugh. What’s shakin’?” “Dr Wylan. I’m seeing things exactly as I always have.” “Well, of course you are,” Dr. Wylan winked. “You’re still you.” “But… what am I even paying you for then?” The doctor shrugged. “You tell me. I told you in the beginning I couldn’t cure you. Only help and enhance you.” “I know,” Kevin’s voice rose with aggravation. “I just don’t get it. Why am I like this? How come everyone else in the world—” Someone knocked on the door. The doctor opened it and an old man with a walker stepped his way into the room. “Kevin,” Dr. Wylan said, “I’d like you to meet a friend of mine. This is Bob Cone. At the nursing home, they call him The Sergeant.” Bob waggled his way to Kevin and stuck his hand out. “Bob Cone. They call me The Sergeant. That’s ‘cuz I bark a lot, like a dog. HA!” A great hurricane of a wheezing laugh ensued. Kevin nodded. “Good to meet you.” Dr. Wylan beamed. “I brought Bob in because despite his vibrant life, he also has a condition.” Bob paused, suspended for a moment mid-air before collapsing his buttocks against a chair cushion. “Yes, indeedy. I’m a hundred years last month, and for all those hundred years I been colorblind.” He sighed. “I may die in this chair though. McNeal, get some comfier chairs!” “So,” Kevin said, “you were born colorblind?” Bob nodded sharply. “Never seen a lick of color all my days. Just gray, shades of gray. Somebody told me there were fifty of ‘em, but I can tell you there’s many more. HA!” He wheezed again, a symphony of air and mucus and joy. Kevin listened for the next hour as Bob talked about the war (desperate for recruits, the Air Force actually took him in WWII) and movies (the effect was lost on him in The Wizard of Oz. “Overrated!” Bob barked.) and what his life was like as one of the black and white films Kevin had watched.

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“Fantastic,” Bob said. “I see the world like no one else can. Except dogs. And we’re pretty close ‘cuz of it. I got five big ones and they gonna outlive me!” The conversation never ventured to Kevin’s condition, and he knew why. He avoided Dr. Wylan’s eyes the whole time. “Well, Sergeant,” the doctor finally said, “thank you for your time. You’ve lived an incredible life.” Bob snorted. “You talk like I’m already gone. Help me up, will ya!” Bob left and Dr. Wylan faced Kevin, said nothing, his red-pepper eyebrows smirking. “I know why you did that,” Kevin said. Dr. Wylan grinned like an old friend does when he tells an inside joke. He busied himself at the counter. “Did you know the praying mantis can see at least four times the colors we can? Colors we can’t dream of. Worlds we can’t comprehend. Except it’s all the same world. Our world. The praying mantis just sees it different than the rest of us.” The doctor turned to Kevin. “I once found a praying mantis hanging by one limb off the edge of my balcony. Like a ninja. Amazing. I poked him and his body was totally stiff. He was dead. He couldn’t pull himself up, so he just hung on, and died like that. “And I wonder, maybe, if he didn’t want to let go, because he didn’t want to give up living. Because the world, with all those extra colors, was that beautiful to him.” Dr. Wylan handed Kevin a bag. “This is our last meeting. Of course, I’ll always be happy to help you with other ailments, problems, what have you. But I can’t help you anymore with your technivision. But hopefully, what’s in the bag will take you further.” Kevin offered his hand. “Thank you.” The doctor shook it warmly. “Pleasure, Kevin.” And with that he sprang from the room and down the hall. Kevin opened the bag and stared into it for a full minute. Then he left the office and called Jenna when he got to his car. “It’s Jenna.” A more formal greeting. He knew he deserved it. “Hey. It’s me. What’re you doing right now?” It was a beautiful Saturday morning. Jenna kept her voice light. “I have plans.” “Well. You think maybe I could come over?” “Now?” Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 99


“Yeah. Just real quick. I got something to show you.” Silence drenched the space between them. Then she said sure. “C’mon.” He arrived and climbed the stairs to her apartment, a loft downtown with old brick walls. He knocked and she opened, her fire red hair in a bun. “Hey, can I come in?” She crossed her arms, nodded, stepped back. He’d never been to her place before. It was spacious and smelled like lavender. The brick was all dark blue, the kitchen a comfortable cream. He felt at ease. “I wanted to show you this.” He set the bag on the counter and drew out several canvases, a stand, paintbrushes, a pallette, and acrylic tubes of paint. Each tube had the paint’s name meticulously scraped off so it was blank. Jenna showed interest. “Where’d you get these?” “Dr. Wylan. He said he’s done seeing me, but he gave me this. He said it’ll take me further.” Kevin turned to her. “I was hoping I could paint you.” “Me?” Jenna’s face warmed. “Yes. I’ll probably be terrible. But I’d love to try, if you’d let me.” Jenna appeared to waffle and toss it around in her head. Then slowly, “OK... let me change first.” She ran upstairs and changed into a simple blouse. It was emerald to his eye, complimenting her black pants and red hair, which hung to her shoulders now. “Want some music?” “Sure.” She put on Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. Kevin thought it was perfect. “Where do you want me?” she asked. Kevin didn’t know. Had no idea. “I guess over there. On the couch by the window.” She sat for him. “Look straight at me. Hold it there,” Kevin said.

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Then he began, spurting colors across the palette, spreading color across the canvas, mixing paints to make new colors, washing his brushes and starting again. He couldn’t believe he’d never tried this before. He painted her as he saw her: red hair, green blouse and — her blue eyes. He’d never noticed her blue eyes. They stayed quiet, but Kevin enjoyed their silence. Only the music floated between them. It felt good. And for his first painting, he was proud of it. He finished. “Go easy on me,” he said, and turned it to her. “What do you think?” Her blue eyes widened. She put a hand to her mouth. “That’s how you see me?” Kevin nodded. Jenna’s eyes glistened. “I’ve never… I don’t...” She left the couch and threw her arms around him, knocking over his pallette, spilling reds and blues and greens all over the white living room floor.

Zach Riggs was born in Texas, grew up in Vegas and now is a die-hard UGA alum. He works as a copywriter for The Impact Partnership in Kennesaw, GA. He’s forever stuck in an infinity loop, contemplating what his first tattoo should be. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 101


Essays James H Duncan How Do You Stand Out From the Pack? I’ve been wrong before, over a great many things, but I’m willing to bet that you’ll find a handful of novelists tucked away within any large gathering of poets. Some poets might keep this little bit of long-form insanity a secret, and others might happily proclaim they are throwing months and years into the furnace of one solitary project. Either way, I get the feeling I may be talking to those types rather than the strict and pure poets with this column, because I am one of you, the poet who cannot settle for one medium and dabbles in essays, short stories, flash, and yes, novels. Now I won’t bother dispensing any pearls of wisdom about novel writing because let’s be honest, writing the novel is the easy part—it’s the selling that takes some sort of magic wand, it seems. It’s made harder by the fact that, as a writer, I tend to think of book ideas that please me first and foremost, no matter how odd or strange they are. I’ve always felt that was the most honest way to go about it. To thine own self be true, and so on. But finding a home for these weird babies once they’re done can be trickier if you didn’t begin with a very catchy and marketable idea. You see, in my time as an acquisitions editor for a book publisher, and in all my experiences trying to foist my own novels upon literary agencies, I have found this is a key sticking point that many writers don’t think of before they begin, and while I am definitely not saying novelists should start a project for the sole purpose of writing popular claptrap that sells but has little artistic merit, understanding the ways in which agencies and publishers aim to appease the market might help you shape and shift your own personal story into something a little more accessible. My theory is—you’re not writing to the market, and that’s good, but you still need to find a way to speak the market’s language. It’s a balance between the two worlds of artistry and marketing. It’s not easy, but it’s important to think about. To be specific, one thing most agents and editors will ask for is a list of other titles already on the market (and hopefully already selling well) that are similar to yours in theme and style. They want to see they have an angle on pitching your book, that you’ve tapped into a popular vein. They want to see that you understand your competition and recent market trends. If knowing similar titles to your own book isn’t something you’re sure about off the top of your head, I suggest you head down to your local bookshop, be it an indie or Barnes & Noble, and browse through the stacks to get a broader feel for what else is out there that might be similar to your book. Some people will say you should know this before you begin, but I don’t think it’s vital for writing a great book. Selling a book, yeah, for sure, so even if you hold off until your done, I say that’s okay. But I suggest going to a physical shop (not online) at some point in the process to get a feel for what else is out there. Because you’re going to see some trends that will help you understand where you fit in, and where you don’t. My own trip was to perform research for a mystery novel I had written. It had noir elements mixed in, a throwback 1940s mystery but with less corny patter and a more literary feel. Or so I hoped. Browsing the stacks reminded me of how few books seem to hit that sweet spot without looking like too much of a super-sexed up hardboiled dime novel (which isn’t always a terrible thing but it’s not my angle). Others tied WWII into the

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theme somehow, but most just weren’t of that era, at least from what I could see. So instead of finding similar books that aped the content, I aimed for tone instead. This is harder because you need to have actually read them to get a true feel. But even skimming a page or so can give you a sense, maybe enough to say, yeah, this writer is up my alley. Make a list of a dozen or so if you can, and pare down from that. My own list ended up with Joseph Kanon, Alan Furst, and Dennis Lehane. Not spot on, but if you can at least offer books with the same feel, even if the specifics of the story are really different, that can be enough. I also noticed there are so many damn books with that same cover design, the one of a single man or woman walking away down some misty street or wooded trail, their back turned. You’ve seen it dozens of times. It’s gotten so that when I see that cover my eyes almost glaze over. And thrillers with that general theme of “the missing girl(s)” are boarding on vampire romance overload by now, which was a problem for me since there is a bit of that (missing women) in my own book. The trick is, if you find yourself coming across a lot of books with visual imagery or themes and tropes that match something in your own tale, find a way to differentiate your story, even in a small way. If you’re still in the writing process, you can adjust your tale on the fly. If you’re done, use this information to differentiate your story from the wolf pack when you write your query letter, synopsis, back-cover text, etc. Maybe it’s the location that sets your story apart, or the occupation of the protagonist, the time period, maybe it takes place during or near a famous event, something to say, “My book is similar to these, but this is what sets it apart.” You need to know both. Agents and editors look for that specifically, and that can be hard to say just what those things are until you go and see the patterns forming on the bookshelves Just don’t go to the store and look for trends and then try to jump on that wave. You don’t want to offer a copycat story. I know there are millions of them and it’s tempting to cash in, but you are more likely to miss the wave, or at least come across looking cheap. I say look for those gaps, see what’s peripheral to the trends, a space not yet filled. It may not be filled for a reason, sure, but it might be an opportunity lying in wait. So if your book doesn’t fit any trends, that’s fine! It’s might be close enough to X, Y, and Z to use those as starting points in selling the book to an agent. Just make sure to explain why your book is so different. And you can do the same with poetry. If you’re approaching a chapbook publisher or a small press hoping to pitch them your full-length collection, hit them with that list of similar poets, people who write like you and vice versa, but also show them how you’re a little different. Show them why you belong. In either case, poetry or novels, your writing will do most of the talking, but if they see you’re aware of trends, if you have your finger on the pulse, if you can talk the talk and also walk the walk, you’ll be more appealing by a mile. Especially if your work doesn’t suck. So try not to suck—that’s always the first rule of writing. But I’m growing ever more fond of rule number two—know what the hell you’re talking about. And hey, the worst case scenario is you get to go to a bookshop and look around. How terrible is that? Give it a shot, and bring that scouting report home to help you flesh out your work, your proposal, your “next big ideal” list, all of it. Knowing what everyone else is up to and how you stand out will do wonders for your writing, and hopefully your career.

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Book Reviews Review by: Brianna Flavin

Last City | Book Review If you dropped paper after paper into the ocean, watching the sheets morph from solid to transparent, to filament--if you layered them all on top of each other in their states of dissolution, if you climbed carefully into that drifting tower of paper and pulp and took a good look around-you’d be close to the experience of reading Last City. Brian Sneeden’s debut collection, published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2018 will appeal to any reader who likes “listening for a music in the music” and sensing the almost-imperceptible. “Sometimes one of them will hear / music coming from behind the door / but when he looks to see, it is only / the cold night sky.” Last City begins with a quote from Greek poet C.P. Cavafy, who pops up throughout the collection and becomes a guide, a dot of reference on the sprawling map of southern American, Greek and an afterlife-type, otherworld landscape. You might not think those three ‘places’ would play well together--but Sneeden achieves something rare in mixing them. A new plane of scenery you can picture because it’s made up of history and pieces of this world. In physical space, there are cut Bradford pear trees, blue fields at dusk--a cicada peeling the air. Poems wander through Ephesus and Ithaka, the river of the dead with “the ferryman whistling Dixie.” But one of the most beautiful features of this collection is the way the winds of life and death, landscape and dreamscape, body and ghost blend into cohesion and gain a complex form. In all this sifting, Sneeden still makes room for charming moments of humor where you’d least expect. Death personified tells the narrator he’s busy honeymooning in Palm Springs. ...“I believe him, because of the retirees in Palm Springs.” In another poem, the narrator describes meeting Flamenco who will “ferry you across the big water, but only if you bring him a bag of HoHos.” Three primary sections start to feel like ancient cities layered on top of each other--all piled on one cake of land. Imagine taking a bite, tasting their unifying themes, feeling the arc of development advance in each layer. Sneeden’s love of Greece shines through this work--which feels like a journey outside of time, outside of the binary of life and death. A last city where bits of everything drift down. If you read Last City, and re-read it. If you pick it up and fall into one place, then set it down and fall into another. If you sift the poems like sand and catch lines like cicadas, rue berries or the river’s glass, you just might feel your body that “like a cathedral bell, / could survive several years / with one glowing note / still resounding beneath / the skin.” www.briansneeden.com

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Review By: Clifford Brooks We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. – T. S. Eliot | “Four Quartets” Chance Divine | Book Review Jeffery Skinner explores biblical themes and his intense wellspring of experience to create a poetic home that’s universally familiar. “Chance Divine” comes to terms with, and translates, Skinner’s faith, family, numerous vocations, heartache, and the emerging peace gained from taking a fearless personal inventory. As I read his new work, Eliot’s “Four Quartets” ceaselessly swam up and breached into my consciousness. Not because he imitates the old master, but because Skinner’s deft style, twinge of melancholy, and soulful-stone-unturning has only “Four Quartets” in the same league. The whole of it is bookended by extended prose poems, beginning with Genesis: The flood was caused by the above people, he said, because the baby of the/woman who married a star was heedlessly torn in pieces, and ending with Revelation: For a kiss, a call, or for some finally unsayable desire… And I heard the hesitant soft buzz along/the lines--the whispered disbelief . . .” In between lies the ebb and flow of someone beginning a stage of life where the age of innocence is long gone, replaced by a skeptical but renewed last hope that some “unsayable desire” will show itself. In comparison, in Eliot’s “Burnt Norton” to his “Little Gidding,” we also find someone who’s faced circumstance as a grown man, and is a bit less forlorn, by the book’s conclusion. Between these books of biblical name and heft, there are poems using a variety of forms, including prose poem and sonnet. All question the place of poetry in his life. Aphoristica reads: Nothing depends on how you feel/Most poetry drops to earth/All the happy people have jobs selling/I think to silence the thinking/O age, happiness umbrella. The duality in this poem’s beginning epitomizes the two titan-forces in this life that continuously war, but remedies the painful split with a taste of the peace verse brings those who cannot find it in the social sphere. In the prose poem Women, Skinner Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 105


writes: It used to be fun…The things they could do! Made us whoop and holla.” This poem pays homage not to women as a whole, but to the excitement he shared with them, “back then.” His prose poetry is refreshing, styles morphing to meet the subject matter, and best of all – unapologetic and free of even a whiff of self-pity. Many of the poems see the poet as a grown man in a second-coming-of-age, where an introspective nostalgia takes the place of a bard’s eyes fixed on some unobtainable sublime. When We’re Done Writing About the Self is a brilliant poem that takes the cyclical vision of a mother breast-feeding twins in a public place, beneath a “cape turned backwards” so that no one can see. One child goes in as the other waits anxiously, in the arms of a friend, for her turn. “The man” who watches this from afar is acutely aware, They are in the early years,/baby rabbits at the beginning,/the man watching from a distant table/near the end. Yes. He considers his long, silken ears, touches the alien/ dryness of his face, & leaves. Skinner sees the end of his life and the loss of ego while his attention is on a small miracle of young mothers and babies just beginning their journey. He doesn’t “ponder” his life. He does not overly bemoan or celebrate anything from his sojourn on earth: neither this, nor any poem in the book, leaves a dour taste in the reader’s mouth. In all the poetry in “Chance Divine,” there is a brave acknowledgement that “the small self” is not what’s most important to poetic truth. “Write what you know.” “Show, don’t tell.” These two pillars that brace the entire expanse of writing poetry are rarely found more well-moored in a poet’s mind that in this book. Though Skinner’s intent may not be to provide readers with a “how-to book” on living bravely, but just as with Eliot and “Four Quartets,” that’s exactly what he does. The Body Is Necessary But Not Sufficient, Icon, Terrors of the Night, and Tintinnabula all shed light on a man who has outgrown Plato’s shadows and lives in the sun, often squinting to stare down encroaching dread. But stare it down he does. “Chance Divine” is a gem in a land of ash. https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-9973355-1-4 https://www.amazon.com/Chance-Divine-Jeffrey-Skinner/dp/0997335513

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Hemingway’s Dog Blue Mountain Review 1. So, you are Hemingway’s dog? I thought he was more of a cat guy? Hemingway did like cats, to cuddle on his lap when he was feeling sensitive or depressed, sure. But the man also hunted, sailed, fired rifles, drank whiskey, and was constantly shirtless. Think about it, would you rather be bare-chested with a cat or a dog? 2. Why are you writing an advice column, why now? I see a lot of dumb people, doing a lot of dumb things. I figure they can use some help. The Blue Mountain Review is a great venue for my debut because there aren’t many dogs are as well read as I. The people I can help the most are cat people. Often, they’re not the sharpest tool in the shed. 3. Hemingway’s Dog, I am in a creative rut, what should I do? Go outside. Get off by yourself. Put down your phone. I swear you people are worse with those damned phones than my cousins when they see a squirrel! You can’t get anything done with that brick in your pocket (I hear they take the lead out of your pencil too). Nietzsche said, “Never trust a thought that occurs to you indoors.” Now, he said a lot of ridiculous stuff, but that one’s on the money. When you go outside, take the dog, but leave the cat at home. Follow Hemingway’s Dog on Twitter @doghemingway where you can tweet questions or slide them into his DMs.

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Interviews

Michel Stone

interview by Clifford Brooks 1) How does your college years, basketball, marriage, kids, and now literary accomplishment play into the writer you see in the mirror today? How do these benchmarks in your life influence your creativity? I always hope to live a life shaped more by curiosity than fear. My parents were very creative folks who valued imagination and authenticity. They instilled those values into me. In college, I tended to be drawn to similar types, including my husband. My participation and lifelong love of sports bolstered that sense of curiosity over fear, and nurtured my “make it happen” attitude. Having children forced me to reflect on what’s important and what values I hoped to pass along to them. I cannot tell my kids to be brave, to be creative, to celebrate authenticity, to march to their own beat, if I don’t model such behavior myself. I’m not exactly sure how to articulate the way those values have influenced me as a writer except to say that being a novelist inherently means a person is a bit of a weirdo, right? I mean, we spend hours alone in rooms making up stories in our heads, and when we are not alone in those rooms we walk around in a fog thinking about those made-up characters in that fictional setting we’ve created, longing to return to them. I crave solitude, but living chunks of one’s life seeking solitude can be tricky, because it’s the living-among-others where the stories originate. A writer must find that balance. Human connectedness fosters story. 2) In The Iguana Tree and Border Child, you succeeded in creating a two-part story without being redundant while including a delicate overlap. How did you accomplish that, and was it fun to create? Do you find yourself still laughing and excited along with your characters? I very much wanted Border Child to stand alone. No where on that book is the word “sequel” though it is a continuation of the protagonists’ story in The Iguana Tree. In order to make that work, I had to include some backstory in Border Child without showing my hand that I was spooning readers plot from another book. That was a fine line to walk. I didn’t want to give too much but I had to give enough information to make Border Child work. I love those characters. A screen writer is currently developing the books for television, and if that pans out I’d like the opportunity to revisit those characters again, to see what they’re up to. Yeah, I do miss Hector and Lilia, but I don’t see myself writing them into another book. 3) How in God's name do you write such authentic male and female characters with bullseye dialogue rooted in reality? I’m not pandering here. It’s amazing what you do. How? I don’t mind your pandering. Seriously, I’m not sure how to answer this. I listen to their voices. I have spent countless hours talking to immigrants from Mexico as I’ve researched for these books. The lilt is unique. If you listen to native Spanish speakers speaking to each other in Spanish there is a definite change in rhythm from

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when they speak English. Additionally, there is a very different intonation between a native English speaker’s English and a native Spanish speaker’s English. I tried to reflect these differences in my characters’ conversations in these books. I strived to write what my ear heard. 4) What are you reading right now? Just finished the novel News of the World by Paulette Jiles. I loved it! The protagonist Capt. Kidd reminded me of Gus in Lonesome Dove, and, well, I have always been a bit smitten with Gus. 5) What question have you been asked so many times it makes you nauseous to think you’ll have to entertain it again? People are curious about political zealots I may have encountered on book tour because my books involve the politically hot topic of border crossings. The truth is, once folks read these books they see, I hope, that the novels are not so much about the border as they are about familial love. I am much more interested in the human condition than I am in politics and dogma. I enjoy human stories much more than politics. So when people prod me for tales of political kerfuffle I’ve experienced on book tour, I have to say I have none to share, and that is the truth. I’ll leave the fights to talking heads on Fox News and CNN. 6) What question have you never been asked that you’re aching to answer? (What is the answer?) What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received? In 2006 in a fit of exasperation regarding my seemingly eternal inability to get my fiction published, I wrote an obnoxious letter to the editor of the Southern Review, a man named Bret Lott, begging him for an answer to the secret of success with writing and publishing. I wrote a whiney, sarcastic letter asking this editor, whom I’d never met, if I was foolish to keep writing fiction even as my rejection letter stack grew thick. I actually began my letter like this, “Dear Mr. Lott, if this is even you reading this letter and not some overworked, underpaid, graduate student doing your dirty work for you...” I am not proud of that letter. I mailed it, knowing the only reply I’d receive, if I received one at all, would be yet another form rejection letter, undoubtedly beginning, Dear Writer. But Bret Lott didn’t send me a form rejection slip. He wrote back to me and, in part, said: “Dear Ms. Stone: I would advise you simply to write and write and write... You are a writer. Now just don't give up... What worked for me were the words put in the order only I could put in that order. That's what has worked for every good writer I have ever met. Don't believe there is some secret path, or some handshake we all know that we're not talking about. Just write, and don't give up. Sincerely yours, Bret Lott." His words affected me. I did not give up, and that has made all the difference. 7) What is your next project, or one you’re currently on, and where can we buy your first two books? I’m currently working on a novel that took me on a research trip to the village of Aqua Azul, Honduras. It also took me to my birthplace of Charleston, South Carolina. That’s about all I can say about it right now. I encourage folks to buy my books (and all their books) at their local independent bookstore. If not there, they can order them online from most places.

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8) If you created a salon with (alive or dead) 10 guests [spread evenly among] of painters/photographers, poets/authors, and musicians/bands - who would they be? I loved pondering this question. Here’s my list of ten. Plus three. Eleanor Roosevelt Charles Barkley Winston Churchill Ghandi Rosario Castellanos Desmond Tutu Susan B. Anthony Bob Marley Keith Richards Ludwig van Beethoven Michelangelo Margaret Bourke-White Aristotle 9) What literary milestone did you reach in your writing career that made you exclaim, “I have arrived!”? The day Clifford Brooks emailed asking to interview me. Also, once, The New Yorker had a little write up about my novel Border Child, and that was pretty cool. 10) Has anyone ever given you a book you'd never have picked up on your own because it didn't appeal to you, but then you started reading and couldn't put it down? Yes! I spoke to a third grade class about writing one day, and afterwards the teacher sent me a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic; Creative Living Beyond Fear. I had no interest at first, but from the first page I was hooked. So many relevant passages in that book! I find myself going back to it time and time again for inspiration when I find myself questioning this writers' life I’m living.

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Robert Pinsky

interview by Clifford Brooks A special note of thanks goes out to Robert Pinsky for this interview. His wish is that our readers be aware he added his flair for jazz improvisation in the answering of these questions. 1) Do you believe that "real truth" is not always important in a poem? Should the reader be alerted beforehand that not all details forthcoming are rooted in fact, or is that something that the reader must come up with on their own? My habit is to approach questions about poetry as a form of questions about all the other kinds of discourse. Sometimes people clearly speak figuratively: My ass is dragging, I’m dying, and I’m on top of the world. Sometimes we’re not so sure: It’s possible to say the sentence “I’m dying” with some ambiguity about true and false. I’m not under oath when I write a poem, but I have sworn an implicit oath not to deceive, though I may confuse, or obfuscate, or tease— I hope so you can guess, if I am. Maybe the great issue is not so much details (how many siblings or spouses or children you have, what awful or heroic things they have done) than who the poet claims to be. The poem that is about how sensitive the author is, or how genial, etc. Maybe that’s the kind of falsehood that deserves the most attention? 2) How does the title “At the Foundling Hospital” tie into the poetry present in the volume? The Foundling is an interesting opposite of the Orphan, who is defined by not-having. An identity deprived. The Foundling (who in real life most likely has been orphaned) is defined by helplessly being given things. An identity imposed. The infant will be given a name, perhaps a religion, a social class, a language, all sorts of things it has not willed. Those things-imposed will be more intimate and powerful, by far, than the things-lost. The Foundling Hospital was a real place (I quote a wonderful poem written by a woman who left an infant there). Also, the situation of the Foundling is that of most lives. We forget or ignore the fact, but we began as blank pages, and most of the writing there is not by ourselves. That’s the idea, more or less. 3) What prompted the design of the collection’s (“At the Foundling Hospital”) cover? What is your philosophy concerning the overall design of a book of poetry? The weight of the paper, whether a matte or glossy cover, font, the ink used – are these factors some you like to be personally invested in? I’m at an extreme: it’s the sounds of the words, spoken in the reader’s mind, that concerns me. But I like a pretty book, who doesn’t? That cover image— it’s a doll’s hand, but could it be a neglected or damaged baby?— was chosen by the designer, who understood the book well. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 111


4) You carry one of the few poetic voices to capture American culture without smacking of shock-jock value or barbs thinly veiled. How do you maintain an opinion on anything in today’s society without alienating half the reading public? I hate clichés, though doubtless I’ve been invaded and manipulated by ones I don’t recognize. But I don’t like them. I don’t like —let’s try a Swiftian list—packs, stereotypes, gangs, committees, syllabuses, religions, rules, priests, rabbis, ministers, commanding officers, literary movements, trends, instructions, guidebooks, chairpersons, associate provosts, artistic movements, ethical trainings, or creative teams. Which is an exaggerated way of saying one tries to see things, and say things, clearly and for oneself. 5) A review of your book by Stephen Yenser relates how you mentioned your name means “someone from Pinsk,” noted as a Slavic city. How has your personal heritage influenced your work? Someone said that the great artists are the ones who can climb or leap high enough to see beyond the customs and ideas of their time. So Shakespeare’s is is the least characteristic 16th-century mind. It’s worth thinking about being a lower-middle-class, American, Jewish, white, straight male employed as a teacher, to enhance one’s possible ability to see beyond all that. One ponders it hoping to get beyond it. 6) What significance does identity (singular vs. collective) play in your work? Do you concern yourself so much with whether or not the net you cast catches the reader in exactly what it is you’re trying to say, or is the element of mystery crucial to a poem’s success? The root of the word “identity” (and I think of “idiom,” weirdly enough) has to do with sameness. However I have been the same every day or every year or every minute—is that my identity? Or is it my sameness to a category? Frederick Douglass and Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson . . . models of being the more the same as Frederick Douglass and Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson, than they were the same as others in circumstances and times similar to theirs. 7) I am interested in your use of "Mind." Why that particular bodily function? What impact does it have on your work? Is it a facet of your personality, to focus on the mind over other things, like the heart? I’ll think about that. For now, it occurs to me that Mind is an abstract idea and Heart is a metaphor. 8) You once wrote "young poets can learn a lot from old poetry." Was there ever a time when you struggled to learn a concept from reading poetry? What was it? What is your philosophy on learning? I go entirely by whim, curiosity, pleasure. George Gascoigne and Willa Cather taught me things about rhythms and sentences while I was enjoying their work. It’s less a matter of “learning a concept” than having a good time . . . which for some of us leads to knowledge.

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9) You once wrote, "there are no rules" in reference to poetry. What has this meant for your work? What principles does your work embody by being free? The principle that you don’t know what’s coming next. 10) From your website, written by the New York Times Book Review, there is a statement about you being referred to as a civic poet and “our finest living specimen of this sadly rare breed.” What are your thoughts about this? Do you believe civic poets are “sadly rare”? If so, why? If not, why not? I don’t pay much attention to “our times” or “current trends” or “the state of things.” I’m an old-fashioned highbrow, interested in all sorts of things, with the assumption that the Ancestors are useful guides. Maybe that’s easier for me because I was a poor students in a public high school, then went to my state university. The past still seems fresh to me, a discovery not an inheritance. 11) Whitman is referred to as the “American bard.” He has been noted as writing poetry that borders on patriotic and applauds democracy. I was particularly taken by your poem “Exile and Lightning.” In what ways do you believe American poetry has shaped America? Whitman, like Milton or Sappho, didn’t shape his time and place. But like them, he will be a large part of what remains of his time and place, some day. 12) What are the major themes or developments/use of poetic techniques sets your new books apart from the others? Mainly, that’s for someone else to say, not me. But I write in real lines (that’s why I like those capital letters at the beginning of them) and I do look around (at whatever seems to be there.) 13) What are are your thoughts on the importance of accessibility in the art of writing poetry? It has to sound good. If it sounds good—as with opera or hip-hop— I’ll put up with any amount of confusion or uncertainty. If it doesn’t sound good, I don’t care how accessible it is, I’d rather dance or listen to music or watch something on TV. Some things you need to think about, experience more than once—they better be fun! But I prefer them to things I understand before I experience them: banal super-hero movie, formulaic sitcom. When I was young, there was a very popular— I guess “accessible”?— musician named Laurence Welk. I was very young and I couldn’t understand how kajillions of people loved Welk’s TV show, which one year appeared in the same time-slot as the great comic genius Sid Caesar. Caesar’s show, which I loved then, still seems to me one of the greatest uses of video, ever. Welk won: his popularity drove Caesar off television. At about the same time, or a little later, I read poems like “The Pleasures of Merely Circulating” by Wallace Stevens and “The Steeplejack” by Marianne Moore. Are they “accessible”? I don’t know, but I know I loved them before I could explain them, and that’s the order I love and seek to achieve: love first, explanation secondary.

Caesar and Stevens and Moore sounded good to me— supremely good. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 113


https://www.amazon.com/At-Foundling-Hospital-Robert-Pinsky/dp/0374158118

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David Lehman interview by Clifford Brooks

1) David Lehman: Tell us what first sparked your interest in a life of letters. Who were your earliest heroes? How did where you grew up temper the way you see the world today? I grew up in New York City and the rhythm of the city is in my bones. I have long legs, I walk very fast and I write at the same pace. One thing that attracted me to poetry, when I started out, was the privacy of the act. I wrote for myself, never expecting a reader. The poets I liked wrote in an idiom I could grasp: Walt Whitman, Frank O'Hara. On the other hand I also liked poetry I didn't understand, like Paradise Lost; I read the first stanzas of Milton's poem over and over, loving the sheer pyrotechnics of the language and the great loftiness. 2) What superstitions, rituals, and/or work ethics influence the success you see today insofar as creative writing is concerned? That's an easy one. I believe in God. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 115


3) You’ve edited The Best American Poetry series. How did you come into that captain’s chair? Does the good editor make the excellent book whether it be their own work or that of another? In 1987 I had the idea for an annual anthology and thought "The Best American Poetry" was the perfect title, because it identified the subject clearly and because it made an aggressive claim. I mentioned it to a book editor at Scribner and to my surprise he bought it, committing to it for two years with an option on a third. From the start I felt that we needed an apparatus to make the book as useful and attractive as possible. To this end I designed the structure that has been in place ever since: foreword by series editor, intro by guest editor, contributors' note that would include a reflection on the chosen poem, honor roll of magazines, and handsome cover. (I ha ve chosen the art for all the volumes in the series.) Everyone thought the anthology would be a noble failure. But here we are. The fact is, we -- we who love poetry, write it, read it, teach it, want to keep up with the latest --need such a book. 3a) How do you feel about Dante’s work? It is indispensable. I wonder if there are many people who are stuck in The Inferno, returning to it over and over, with less curiosity about the alternatives. 3b) Who are your favorite composers? Beethoven, Mahler, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Prokofiev, Mendelssohn , Ravel, Debussy, Bernstein, many others. Among American songwriters (leaving out the lyricists) I vote for Gershwin, Rodgers, Kern, Arlen, Porter, Berlin, Bernstein, Harry Warren, Jimmy Van Heusen, Hoagy Carmichael, Frank Loesser, Jule Styne, Matt Dennis, etc. 3c) May I read your translation of “Be Drunk” on a future tutorial with full credit given to you. Yes! 4) What are you reading right now, and how do you feel about it? I am always reading three or four books concurrently. Just finished a Dorothy Sayers mystery novel; I like her hero's aristocratic departures from customary grammar. Ed McBain police procedural are excellent, and there is a magnificent scene about a newspaper cartoonist in "Ten Plus One., " Also on my night table are literary magazines (The Hopkins Review, The Southampton Review, Gulf Coast, Hanging Loose). I'm a hundred and twenty pages into Emil Ludwig's classic biography of Napoleon. And I am rereading Isaiah Berlin's essay about the hedgehog and the fox. I read very widely, eclectically, and unsystematically.

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5) You don’t just wear one hat. You wear at least three. Please tell us about the book of prose you’re crafting, when it’s being released, and how we can find it. I have a collection of fedoras including a 1947 Cavanagh (gray), a snap-brim Stetson from the early 60s (brown with black band), and others. Each has its occasion. There are windy winter days when it is wise to don a Donegal tweed Irish cap, so I have one of those, and there was a time I liked sporting a navy blue Parisian beret. I keep it around though I seldom wear it. My new prose book is "One Hundred Autobiographies: A Memoir." The title, a gift to me from the late Mark Strand, was a high-concept prompt in three words. The book consists of one hundred parts, each with its own subtitle. I wrote most of the entries when fighting cancer, and one narrative arc is the disease from onset to the cancer-free state that I now enjoy and that is always temporary and provisional. Cornell University Press will publish the book next fall. 6) Please tell me you enjoy Jonathan Swift. Have you written satire at any point in your life? I have, and I love Jonathan Swift. 7) Charles Baudelaire, his poem “Be Drunk” is in my Top 5 Favorite Poems. You are currently translating a collection of his prose poems. What is it that piqued your interest in Baudelaire? Do prose poems in general hold a special place in your mind? The prose poem in English, with reference to the French tradition established by Baudelaire and Rimbaud, was the subject of my PhD dissertation at Columbia. In college I read Rimbaud's "Illuminations." In the three years following college, which I spent largely in England and France, I read the prose poems of Baudelaire, Max Jacob, Henri Michaux, and others. The form attracted me initially because it took something mysterious (a poem) and made it even more mysterious and yet in the familiar form of sentences and paragraphs and therefore available. When I spent time in Paris and London, I wrote a number of prose poems in the manner of Henri Michaux and tried my hand at translating some of them. The prose poem is a legitimate form that has attracted a great many practitioners in the years since I first stumbled across it. And Baudelaire, a poet of greatness and great complexity, seems to me to be his most radically original self in his "Petits Poemes en prose." I have translated sixteen or seventeen of them. To describe my interest in Baudelaire, I would borrow some phrases from T. S. Eliot: "the sordid life of a great metropolis"; "Byronic paternity and Satanic fraternity"; "the real problem of Good and Evil." I'll add a phrase of my own: he spent much of his life nursing a Catholic hangover. Eliot was undoubtedly right to say "Baudelaire was man enough for damnation." 8) Do you agree or disagree that training in poetry composition can also strengthen the design of a prose writer, why or why not? In my experience of teaching expository prose to college students -- a legendarily difficult thing to do -- I found the greatest success when using prompts and exercises like those I employ teaching creative writing. Very few people write good prose. Fewer poets than you might think write decent prose. It is a craft, a skill, and it requires and rewards constant practice.

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9) How do you balance writing prose, poetry, and translations? I know embarrassingly little about translation, but is it best done by a poet when it’s poetry and prose writer with fiction? Do you think being proficient in other languages (and exercising that gift) with poetry makes you more adept with verse? There are three questions here. To the first: I'm a workaholic without a cell phone. To the second: there's no reason a poet can't translate prose, and the other way around. To the third: undoubtedly. 10) What is a question you’ve always wanted to be asked, but never have? What’s the answer? The question is: What's your favorite word in Spanish. The answer: corazon. http://www.writersreps.com/David-Lehman http://blog.bestamericanpoetry.com/the_best_american_poetry/ https://theamericanscholar.org/daily-scholar/next-line-please/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Lehman Get Drunk (Enivrez-Vous, Charles Baudelaire) You must get drunk. That’s it: your sole imperative. To immunize yourself from the backbreaking, bodybending burdens of time, you must get drunk and stay that way. But on what? On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, your choice. But get drunk. And if sometimes, while on the steps of a palace, on the green grass beside a marsh, in the morning solitude of your room, you snap out of it, your drunkenness has worn off , has worn off entirely, then ask the wind, ask an ocean wave, a star, a bird, a clock, every evanescent thing, everything that flies, that groans, that rolls, that sings, that speaks, ask them what time it is; and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, will tell you: “It’s time to get drunk! To avoid being the martyred slaves of time, get drunk, get drunk and stay that way. On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, your choice.” -- trans. David Lehman

Enivrez-Vous

Il faut être toujours ivre. Tout est là: c'est l'unique question. Pour ne pas sentir l'horrible fardeau du Temps qui brise vos épaules et vous penche vers la terre, il faut vous enivrer sans trêve. Mais de quoi? De vin, de poésie, ou de vertu, à votre guise. Mais enivrez-vous. Et si quelquefois, sur les marches d'un palais, sur l'herbe verte d'un fossé, dans la solitude morne de votre chambre, vous vous réveillez, l'ivresse déjà diminuée ou disparue, demandez au vent, à la vague, à l'étoile, à l'oiseau, à l'horloge, à tout ce qui fuit, à tout ce qui gémit, à tout ce qui roule, à tout ce qui chante, à tout ce qui parle, demandez quelle heure il est; et le vent, la vague, l'étoile, l'oiseau, l'horloge, vous répondront: "Il est l'heure de s'enivrer! Pour n'être pas les esclaves martyrisés du Temps, enivrez-vous; enivrez-vous sans cesse! De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise." -- Charles Baudelaire (Petits Poems en prose)

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Beth Gylys

interview by Clifford Brooks 1) Where did your heart find the need to write for the first time? How did/do horses fire up that creative inferno? What else in life rivals that love for you? The first poem I remember writing was in the fourth grade. My teacher assigned us a poem. It had to rhyme and use the word Pennsylvania and focus on the fall season—since it was fall. I wrote the following: “Bright, pretty colors swaying softly in the breeze./The wind is not cold. you’re not likely to freeze./ Here in Pennsylvania /are the colorful autumn leaves.” Not a stunning debut, but my teacher read it out loud to the class and tacked it on the bulletin board at the front of the room. I was so proud. I do think that bit of encouragement set me on a path toward being/becoming a writer. When did my heart need to write? I think I began to write poems from a sense of urgency/necessity in high school when I was troubled by hormones and a lack of understanding about who I was and how I fit into the world. I hadn’t read squat, so the poems were awful, abstract and self-absorbed, but that is definitely when I think I first turned to poetry to try to tease out a level of meaning from the chaos that my life—and life in general—suggested. I’m pretty sure I still have in my attic my high school literary journal where I published those poems that I wrote during that initial period of awakening to that creative strain. I really should burn those! Horses provided an alternative way of distracting me from the emotional morass of my teenaged self. Riding didn’t lead me toward creativity at all. In fact, riding was a means of escape and a diversion. On the other hand, I was a passionate equestrian, obsessed about horses—I read all of the horse books in the library that I could get my hands on, so my love of horses also went hand-in-hand with my love of words. I also think the discipline of riding perhaps taught me about how to work hard and doggedly in order to improve. In truth, I have had intense obsessive passions, but those have tended to burn out. Writing, my current marriage, running…these prolonged, steady relationships have proved more sustaining than my fire-in-the pan passions. Not that riding was fire-in-the-pan—I rode regularly until I left college, but I did step away from that world eventually. It’s an expensive hobby these days and also takes a considerable time commitment—time I don’t have now, especially with a husband who lives 800 miles away. 2) Give us the highlights of your life Where were you born? What is your earliest memory? Favorite color? Where did you learn the best life lessons, and where do you teach them now? I was born in New Jersey and raised outside of Pittsburgh. I don’t remember the New Jersey of my infancy, but I have powerful memories of our time in Pennsylvania. My earliest memory? My first Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 119


cat, a beautiful, lithe all white male named Snowball. He used to meet me at the school bus stop every afternoon when I got home. One day we found him in the street, quite squashed. I cried and cried. That was the first traumatic loss I experienced. I also vividly remember meeting my best friend (also named Beth) the first day of first grade. I was shy and so was she. I was standing against the brick wall of the building on the edge of the playground during recess, and she walked up to me and said hello. I was suddenly no longer alone. We were instantly connected—and we are still close. We wandered the schoolyard making up stories while the other kids ran around screaming and kicking or throwing balls to each other. We are still friends. She’s also a writer—a novelist. My second trauma: she moved to Ohio at the end of third grade. For two years, I was in a fog of loneliness. I started to read a lot during that time. I am grateful to both of our sets of parents who allowed us to visit one another over Christmas break and summers nearly every year—riding the Greyhound bus from Columbus to Pittsburgh by ourselves. Our parents probably would get arrested if they did that now! I became more and more involved in and passionate about horses. I lobbied and begged and bargained and my parents relented, giving me a horse for Christmas when I was 13 years old. I had to help pay for his board by cleaning stalls and working at the barn where he stayed. He was my very best Christmas present ever. I am so in awe of my parents. I don’t know how they managed it financially—I had three brothers, and we were not well-off. Having a horse gave me a profound sense of responsibility and also helped to clarify who I was in the world. Every day after school, I took the bus to ride and clean stalls, and my father would me up on his way home from work, patiently reading the newspaper in the car until I finished. We moved back to New Jersey after my sophomore year in high school because my father got transferred for work. I was so angry and depressed—it’s a hard time for a kid to change schools. Having the horse helped me to transition—barn people are friendly and inclusive—at least where I rode. Still, it was a tough time. It took me a while to feel like I fit in—my new school was cliquey and bougie—not at all like the more solidly middle class part of Pittsburgh where I’d grown up. I became best friends with an immigrant from India who was brilliant and funny and somewhat of an outsider too. I was at the lunch table alone and almost in tears—so overwhelmed by the strangeness and otherness I felt in this new place. She walked up to me smiling and asked what sounded like, “Orange you in my English class?” She had such a sweet kindness. Soon we were best friends, and I was going to her house once or twice a week to eat curry (my first experience eating curry, and I LOVED it) with her and her family. In the end, the move taught me how to be adaptable. Getting divorced from my first husband was the biggest life changer I lived through as an adult. In truth, I was too immature to marry. I kept falling in love with other men—or thinking I’d fallen in love with them. I had a lot of growing up to do and I needed to get divorced to see that clearly and also to see myself clearly. I think going through that loss and making the many mistakes that I made has helped to make me more empathetic and less judgmental. We’re all going to screw up, and I hope I convey to the students I teach. I’m not interested in judging them. I want to help them grow and become more authentic as writers and as people. I was also raised Catholic—and Catholicism has proved both a cross and a guide post at various stages of my life. I was really involved with Campus Ministry as an undergraduate, and I worked as a Catholic volunteer for a year after I graduated. I have always had a keen interest in social justice and Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 120


a passion to try to make a positive difference in the world—I’ve gone to Haiti on a mission trip and helped fund-raise to build a school there; I’ve served at soup kitchens, taught at Philips State Prison, participated in the homeless count, gone down to visit refugees in Lumpkin Georgia…I’m a little disgusted with the Church right now, and I don’t fit easily into my Catholic skin—as a person who believes passionately in a woman’s right to choose and that gay couples should be able to marry and have children and that all of us—not just Catholics or Christians—can be ‘saved’ in and through how we treat one another…but the social justice piece of Catholicism is and will continue to be important to me. 3) If you were able to design the ultimate poetry slam with musicians and wordsmiths (alive or dead) who would that ten act include? Omg, this is hard. I want Elizabeth Bishop, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Keats for sure. I want Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde, Nikki Finney and Edna St. Vincent Millay. I want Frank O’Hara and Robert Lowell, The Beatles and Joanie Mitchell and Joan Armatrading and Billie Holliday. Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald. I could go on! 4) What creative projects do you have under your belt, and what's on your plate right now? Right now, I’m shipping around two different collections of poems. One is a collaborative book of poems that I wrote with two friends over the course of several years. For over a year we wrote quite regularly based on a prompt one of us would send. In fact, we wrote five poems a day each week for six months—and after that flurry we were writing a poem a week or two poems a week for a long time as well. We would send feedback to one another and then revise. Eventually we had enough strong, published material that we were able to compile a book. It’s come close to getting accepted a few times, and it’s in the hands of a couple of presses right now. The other collection is a book of my own work entitled “Body Braille.” I have this strange thought experiment—something I’ve worried about off and on for a long time—which is I think about what I would do if I lost my vision or my hearing or any of my senses. The book is a collection with five sections—four sections focus on a particular sense and each starts with a poem that imagines not having that sense: “When I am Blind,” “When Touch Does Not Feel,” “When I Lose my Taste,” and “Mute.” The last section focuses on the loss of one’s heart—a strange idea, right? We usually say it when we are speaking of the metaphorical loss. I had the devastating experience of visiting a friend and being with her when she discovered her husband had collapsed of a heart attack and died while we sat and chatted in her kitchen. She lost her heart figuratively and he LITERALLY lost his heart. It was a terrible raw time for both of us. I wrote a sonnet sequence about the grief she lived through, so the last section of the book includes that crown of sonnets. I feel pretty good about the work and about the book’s cohesiveness, but publishing poetry these days is not easy, and unfortunately, I don’t have a ‘publisher’ per se. Hopefully, some editor will decide to pick it up. I’ve submitted it to a good bunch of contests.

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5) Georgia State hosts Lost Southern Voices. You were a part of it last year, and spoke about the life and work of Leon Stokesbury. What did that project look, sound, and leave you feeling? Leon was a brilliant poet. Thankfully, I gave that talk when he was still alive to appreciate that I did so, and I am so glad that I was able to honor him and his work in that way. I essentially chose a few poems, read them, and then discussed why I admired each one. It wasn’t a brain-cracking lecture exploring the complexities of Leon’s versification (though I think it is quite possible to write such a paper about his work). My talk was definitely a tribute and a celebration of the work—more New Critical than anything else. I enjoyed the entire experience of writing and presenting the material. The hardest part was choosing which poems to talk about—I love so many of them. 6) What are some of the best things Georgia State University offers students from undergraduate to graduate levels? Georgia State’s strengths are many. I so love the diversity of our student body, the energy and the lack of pretense at Georgia State are palpable. I think our commitment to diversity, our support of students in need, the excellence of our faculty…all of these factors make us a desirable place to pursue a degree. It’s also great to be in a big city—many of our students work in addition to attending school, and there are just so many opportunities for employment. There’s also a thriving cultural community in Atlanta: theater and literary arts and movie production and music. I feel very lucky to be here. I love that our students have had a lot of real world experience. I love that they are in and of the world. 7) You have given me a glimpse into how you teach without lectures. Please share more of that now with what you do instead of talking the class to sleep? Truth is, there are people who give lectures who I could listen to every day of every week. That is just not my skill set. I bore myself so easily. I’m just not that smart and not that articulate. So I teach a discussion oriented class. It’s not always smooth sailing—but if I can foster thoughtful conversation about a book or a poem or an idea having to do with poetry, that can be both fun and a powerful communal way of learning. The hard part of course is trusting that the conversation will unfold in a meaningful way and also steering the ship effectively so it doesn’t get stuck on the rocks or grounded on the shore (which it sometimes does). I teach a lot of creative writing, and the workshop is just naturally a discussion class. It’s less easy in a lit class—particularly if you have a more introspective group or if the class size is small and filled with introverts. I see myself more as a conductor than a teacher in many ways. The trick is to ask good questions and know how to get a conversation started, so I usually try to think of questions and poems I want to discuss and issues on which I should focus. Sometimes a given class can be a dud, but sometimes it is pure magic—the thoughts bouncing off of one another and evolving so that we end up in places I never imagined. 8) In April you are going to South Africa. What's the mission there, what are your hopes to fulfill while there, and how does travel factor into your creative life? A year and a bit ago, my colleague Renee Schatteman and I led the first African American Literature Study Abroad Class. It went….brilliantly. The students who enrolled were an utter delight. We have Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 122


a sister school outside of Cape Town, the University of Western Cape, and the faculty there is just dynamite: passionate, brilliant, engaging and engaged. We were in Cape Town for three weeks total, and it was all kind of perfect. We went to the major tourist sites: Robben Island, Table Mountain, Stellenbosch (to see the wineries), some of the museums. And we had regular meetings/lectures from the faculty there. Renee is currently residing over there for the year—she’s the recipient of a Fulbright, and we want to do some on the ground planning for another trip in 2020. 9) Where do you see yourself in ten years? Over that decade, what do you hope to have off your bucket list? I hope both of the aforementioned books are published. I hope I write a few more poems that I’m proud of. I hope I am helpful to my students and that my brain still works reasonably well (we have a history of dementia in my family). I hope I live with my husband. I hope I’m still alive.  I have to say I’m not much for planning ten years out. If I make it through tomorrow or maybe the next week, I’ll celebrate. 10) What have you always wanted to be asked, but never have? (Please give us the answer.) I think there are more questions that I DON’T want to be asked! I will say in closing that to be a poet is to commit to a life of challenge, rejection and disappointment. Even the poets who get a good bit of a attention in the literary world are not widely known in the world-at-large. Think of Gregory Pardlo who recently won the Pulitzer. He’s a great poet, but almost no one who isn’t a writer or a poet—I’d wager a lot of fiction writers even—would recognize his name. I’m not interested in fame, so I don’t worry so much about that, but it can be discouraging. Anyone who wants to be a writer has to know that the pursuit must be driven only by personal need/desire/passion/love for the work itself.

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Jackie K. Cooper interview by Clifford Brooks

1) Give us some background on where you grew up, what motivated you to take up a life of letters, and what you did in between to make ends meet. I was born in a small town in South Carolina named Clinton. We Clintonians do not pronounce the "t" and say Clinon. Don't ask me why but that is just the way it is. I lived in Clinton, South Carolina until I went to college (Erskine College) and law school (University of South Carolina School of Law). After I graduated and passed the South Carolina Bar I joined the Air Force. I was assigned to Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia where I first served as a Special Agent in the Office of Special Investigations and then transferred to the Judge Advocate General's Office where I served out the remainder of my four year tour of duty as a JAG Captain. After separating from the Air Force I worked as a real estate attorney for Hardee's Food Systems in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. While there I was offered a job as a civilian attorney at the same JAG office where I had served in the military. I returned and I worked there for several years and then took a transfer into Civilian Personnel at Robins. My next change was accepting a job at Norton AFB which was outside San Bernardino, California. I loved it, but my family did not. At the end of two years I accepted a job with the Air Force Reserve which was headquartered at Robins Air Force Base. My office was off the base and located in Macon, Georgia. During all of this I had started writing for the local newspaper in Perry, Georgia where we had bought a home. I wrote book reviews, movie reviews and a personal column. The owner of the local newspaper sold the paper to a man named Millard Grimes who owned several newspapers. For some unknown reason Millard thought my writing was the greatest thing since grits. He put my articles in all of his newspapers plus he had me doing celebrity interviews for a magazine he published. Shortly after that I was invited to do televised movie reviews for the local CBS affiliate. During the course of my career I provided entertainment material for all of the various network stations in Macon, Georgia. Once established in newspapers and TV I decided to write a book. My First book JOURNEY OF A GENTLE SOUTHERN MAN was published by a small independent publisher in Texas. My second CHANCES AND CHOICES was published by a small independent publisher in Atlanta. The first publisher retired and the second went bankrupt. I was then fortunate enough to sign a three book deal with Mercer University Press. After that contract I signed a two book deal, and I currently have a contract for another book. All of my books have been memoirs. 2) How does the idea of place factor into your writing. I am a southerner, born and bred. I will always be attached to the South and that attachment permeates every word I put on paper. I write in the southern vernacular. Example, in my third book I mentioned a situation where I was sweating like a hog. My wonderful editor kindly told me that technically hogs don't sweat. I explained it was the vernacular and she left it in. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 124


3) In regards to nonfiction, there is a hot debate on just how honest that genre requires. What are your thoughts on the matter? My books are full of "true" stories. I italicized that word because I tend to stray some time. If I can make a story more humorous or even more dramatic I sometimes tend to wander. Plus my memory, as in memoirs, is not perfect. My brother is constantly telling me about some fact in my books that is not right. I tell him as I tell you, he has his memory and I have mine. 4) What books do you have under your belt, and what books do you have cooking in your now? Where can we find the ones you have on the market? I currently have seven books in print (1) JOURNEY OF A GENTLE SOUTHERN MAN (2) CHANCES AND CHOICES (3) THE SUNRISE REMEMBERS (4) THE BOOKBINDER (5) BACK TO THE GARDEN (6) HALFWAY HOME and (7) MEMORY'S MIST. They are all available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Mercer University Press websites. I am currently under contract to Mercer for an eighth book. 5) How does social media factor in your style of selfpromotion? Do you think it helps or hinders the creative process? Facebook and Twitter are two of my favorite ways to communicate with friends, fans and potential buyers of my books. I also utilize YouTube as well as my website www.jackiekcooper.com. I definitely thinks it helps the process. 6) What do you do to recharge your creative engines? What guilty pleasures get your mind off the real world? I am still a movie critic as well as book critic for several outlets. I wrote reviews for "The Huffington Post" for many years and that helped establish my credibility as a critic. I still review 3 to 4 movies a week and I review at least one book a week. I have loved movies all my life and books have become my second love, outside my family that is. 7) What authors influenced you growing up, and which ones light your fire today? There is no one who can compare with Pat Conroy. I think I have read everything he ever wrote, including his cook book. If he had written a version of the phone book I would have read it. I also relentlessly read Daniel Silva, Jeffery Deaver, Mary Alice Monroe, Karen White, Michael Connelly. Plus I have an authors luncheon group that includes Dale Cramer, Jackie White and Milam Propst. I always read what they write. 8) How does music factor into your creative process? Who are your favorite bands or musicians? My current choice of music is based on getting LP's. I got a turntable for Christmas and also got the LP soundtracks of "A Star Is Born" and "Bohemian Rhapsody." So I am listening to them a lot. They get me in the mood to write or review. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 125


9) What are you reading right now? I just finished Joseph Finder's JUDGMENT, Jonathan Kellerman's THE WEDDING GUEST, Lisa Gardner's NEVER TELL and John Lescroart's RULE OF LAW. I am really excited about Greg Iles new novel CEMETERY ROAD and Don Winslow's THE BORDER 10) What questions have you always wanted to be asked, but never have? What is the answer? I have been asked them all and I have answered them all.

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Sean Rima

interview by Clifford Brooks 1) Reverend Rima, what's your story? Give us the heathen saint's tale of turmoil and good times. Where did you grow up, the travels that put dirt on your boots, and the paradise you now call home. I grew up in Maryland, along Chesapeake Bay. After high school and a couple of years in a local college studying Philosophy and Religion, I had pretty much decided that all I wanted to be in life was a wino-poet. My father wisely observed that I probably needed some sort of a career to support such a lifestyle, so he suggested broadcasting. This was a good fit for me, because I had always been a fan of Talk Radio, and had done quite a bit of performing over the years, both as an actor and as a comedian. In 1989, I landed my first part-time job at WCEI in Easton, Maryland, and from that moment on, an unholy union was formed. 29 years, 12 radio stations, thousands of bottles of wine, and 5 states later, I am still on-the-air, and I am still writing and publishing my poetry. Around 2009, I was living in Colorado, working part-time at KOA in Denver while hosting a local web show, when I answered an ad for a talk host in Austin. Frankly, Austin and I didn’t get along too well, so I eventually made my way to San Antonio. That’s when I found my place in the world. I wouldn’t leave the Alamo City for a million bucks. It’s my home. 2) What are you reading right now? Have you ever thought about writing a biography that's spanned your life to make your radio program the success it is today? Currently, I’m re-reading William Peter Blatty’s “The Exorcist,” which I first read as a teenager. Folks just don’t write novels as good as this one anymore. Every line is a work of poetry. Every single line. As for a biography, I consider my poems to be as close to an autobiographical work as I will ever attempt. I’m getting ready to publish the definitive edition of my stuff, which I’m calling simply “Poems”. My daughter turns 18 in May, and I have always wanted to hand her a book of my poetry when she gets ready to enter the world as an adult. 3) Give us the details concerning your radio program, when it is, and where we can find it. My show is…weird. It’s a weird show. I’m not even sure what the Hell it is. I’m on when most people are driving home from work, so I try to keep it funny. Yes, there’s politics, but it’s also just as likely that I’ll spend the entire gig talking about my favorite taco places, or the crazy shit my wife says to me. I was a Philosophy and Religion major for the brief bit of time that I actually attended college, so I talk a lot about spirituality and faith. But mostly, I just want to crack you up. You can catch my show locally in San Antonio at 550 AM and 107.1 FM KTSA, or live-streaming on our website at ktsa.com. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 127


4) Who are your Top 5 Favorite Authors/Poets? Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson, Neil Finn, Sylvia Plath, and Kinky Friedman. 5) If you could put on a music festival with musicians/bands living or dead - who would that epic lineup include? Ha! Wow. Rimapalooza. I’d start off with Beethoven, doing an opening set of piano sonatas. Then an acoustic set with Simon and Garfunkel, followed by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar doing Indian Classical and stuff from “All Things Must Pass.” Then a Crowded House reunion. Headliners would be The Highwaymen. Yeah, I’d like to see that show… 6) On the political/socio-economic landscape we see today, where do you see the most terror and promise in the coming years? If you had the sweeping power to enact change, what would you do? Honestly, I believe the greatest threats to American stability will prove to be ignorance and sloth. In just a couple of generations, the power base will be mostly comprised of people who don’t know how to use a wall thermostat, and have no desire to learn. From an educational and cultural perspective, we are choking-out critical thinking while encouraging self-obsession in the younger generations. This is a looming disaster no one is talking about. It’s a house of cards. If I could change anything, I would eradicate social media. It is turning us all into soulless assholes. Myself included. 7) What question are you so sick of being asked you never want to hear it again? (You don't have to answer it.) “Can I be on your show?” This is usually framed as a statement, rather than a question: “You should have me on your show! Seriously, dude! We could argue about politics and stuff! It’d be great.” “No, dude. It wouldn’t be great. It would suck.” 8) What question have you always wanted to answer, but never been asked? (Please answer that one.) There isn’t a specific question that I can think of, but I certainly enjoy talking about my writing more than the radio show. For me, the talk gig is fairly self-contained, in that once I switch off the mic at 7, I don’t think much about the show again until I go into the station the next afternoon. Writing, however, is rarely far from my thoughts. I am always writing, in my head. I am very lucky in my life, and I try to maintain a constant state of thankfulness about it. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 128


The only thing that can sometimes frustrate me are those folks within the artistic community who immediately discount my poems because of my opinions on the radio. There is this idea that if you are an artist, you must vote a certain way, or think a certain way politically. This is a big, fat, steamy pile of bullshit. Artists, more than any single group of people, should embrace intellectual freedom. Absolutely. Politics do not define you as an artist. What defines you as an artist is your devotion to your craft. Period. I love my poems. I think my poems are badass. I have devoted 35 years of my life to “chasing the poem,” as Bukowski called it. Had I picked up a guitar instead of a pen all those years ago, I’d be freaking Jimi Hendrix right now. 9) What is the crowning achievement of you career thus far, and what is on your bucket list yet unchecked? The gig at KTSA is definitely my crowning achievement, as far as radio. I work with the best people in the business, in the best town in the world. As for writing, honestly, it would be collaborating with Kinky Friedman on his first original song in 40 years. The tune is “Me And My Guitar,” and there’s a little bit of me in the lyrics. We started working on it while driving into Kerrville one Saturday night. I was in-studio when he recorded the vocals for his album, “Circus of Life.” It was, without question, one of the proudest moments of my life. I got my own tiny corner of the Outlaw legend.

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Poem for a ham sandwich. Sometimes, when it’s late at night, and the moon is pouring in through the windows and coating the room in blue, all I need and all I want in this life is a ham sandwich with honey mustard and onions, because at the moment that you want it, the mere wanting of it is all that you are, and I find that most liberating, so the next time you find yourself in the kitchen, standing in the white light of the refrigerator door, bucknaked with a hard-on, deep into the lunchmeat on a lonely Saturday night, try to think religious thoughts as you are sliding the butter knife engorged with mustard across the milky white thighs of a slice of Wonder Bread, and as you lay a glistening fold of ham into the silky sweetness of a bed of onions, remember, God made you to love, so love that sandwich and everything else with all that you are and they’ll send you up to Heaven someday and I hear the sushi is great. Last stand haiku. My bachelorhood was the Alamo, overrun by Mexicans.

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October rising. Mister Death lurks in the cool gray skies over San Antonio, working on his dark quota for the season in the dreary days leading up to the DĂ­a de los Muertos, and I can feel his stale breath in the hairs of my neck as I brake for the long procession of cars with their headlights on, slowly creeping down Bandera Road behind two motorcycle cops flashing blue and red, at noon, on a Thursday, my heart breaking just a little as the rain begins to fall, and the lights of the police escort smear across my windshield like a sugar mask dissolving in tears and holy water.

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Honkytonk. He arrives in a crappy white van, wearing blue jeans and boots and a crappy umber cowboy hat that looks as if a gang of liquored-up shit-kickers had beaten the pus out of it with aluminum baseball bats, and in his pinprick eyes, there lingers the sad if you look a little closer, neon of a you'll find a patch of thousand gigs April blue bonnets in his and a thousand miles twinkling gaze, of hard asphalt, embracing you, and though this life has and giving you shelter from the rain, for kicked his ass there are no beyond all reason, strangers in his world, his smile as clean as a new guitar string, and after hearing your name, he will offer you his truth, his strumming hand, missing two fingers like a gnarled piece of Corpus driftwood, and in the awkward touch of it, you feel increased, as if, by knowing him, you just might live forever, floating on your back through eternity down the old Red River of his honkytonk soul, as if you have no troubles, as if everything is gonna

be just fine, as he fixes himself a paper plate of steaming brisket, and the dirty jokes flow like aged tequila from a busted bottle of booze.

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The Wrinkled Bathrobe of Zorro. It is a true damn thing that when I was failing Spanish class in the eleventh grade, in 1984, in Maryland, my Spanish name was El Zorro, and though it has been many years since I donned the black mask in the service of the poor, suffering people of Mexico, tonight, once more, I take up my sword and my whip, as my wife, sitting on the couch with a sprained ankle, asks, "Baby, can you get me another Dr. Pepper from the fridge?" and I leap from my chair, and Zorro rides again.

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Two chicks in an elevator. One wears a neon green bikini top and black yoga pants, and her boobs are so big and heavy, the bottoms show every time she smacks her gum, or tightens the strap around her neck, the other dressed head-totoe in a black hijab, with just a thin rectangle cut into the fabric, revealing her coal black eyes, and I glance at one while looking away from the other, as I hit the button for the lobby, and chuckle, "this elevator's so slow, I think I just had a birthday," and from somewhere behind me, the sound of smacking gum, and two chicks giggling, just a little.

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River Jordan

interview by Clifford Brooks 1) Your book, PFS began with your fear for the safety of your sons when they were both sent into combat situations. Did the prayers for others actually help you cope emotionally? The prayers of others. That would make a great book title. I have no doubt that they did make a difference. On my darkest days, when everything suddenly seems to come caving in and it makes no sense at all that I’m battling being worried or depressed considering my blessings but I am – I think, Somewhere, someone out there is praying for me. And, that makes all the difference in the world. 2) What did you learn from "praying for strangers" that surprised you? That it was me praying for other people that pulled me out of the void. 3) How has your spirituality evolved as a result? I think what has evolved specifically as a result of the Praying for Strangers experience was my humanity. I now realize that everyone is wearing their best face into the world. Daily doing what they can to hold it together. And, that it’s true – everyone is fighting some great battle we don’t know about. I try to have a great awareness about me all the time when I’m dealing with other people. To remember there is a story going on behind that face. 4) Are you also working on fictional projects? Yes! Thanks for asking. I’ve been saying I’m two weeks from finishing my new novel since last summer. Clyde Edgerton, told me that was the sweet space. Now, I’m telling people, No, Really. I’m two weeks from finishing. It’s a real page-turner. A moody, southern mystery set in Nashville. I can’t say it’s ‘a mystery’ specifically because I don’t know that it means the criteria for that genre but it has well, a mystery, multiple murders, bourbon an appearance by Einstein and some great surprises. I love the characters, the dialogue, the moodiness. 5) Have you discovered a balance between writing fiction and non-fiction? That’s a great question. I never intended to write non-fiction. Well, I guess that is a lie since I started out with studying journalism and going to college on a small journalism scholarship with the idea that I’d also write ‘the great American novel’. Then I started studying playwriting to improve my dialogue and I fell in love with the theatre. Balance. You were asking about balance. I try to think of it now as something like railroad tracks in my life – one track being fiction, one being non-fiction and how it takes both of them to bring the story home. Since all my life is one big, story I guess I’ll keep offering up both sides of that coin.

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6) Of all your writing projects, what are you most proud of? You know as a writer that every piece is special. When books are published they really are like your children. The experience of writing each one is different. I once finished a novel, The Miracle of Mercy Land (Mercy Land is the name of the main character) while staying alone in a cabin in the woods that became completely infested with scorpians and wolf spiders. I kid you not. But I was under deadline and stayed for a month and would not leave until I had made it to the end. I was a bit of super-hero for that. But I have to come back to the writing of The Messenger of Magnolia Street. I wrote that novel in solitude after I’d just moved to Nashville. I knew no one here back then and my family hadn’t relocated and moved up here as they have now. The experience of writing that novel was singular. For hours on end, day and night, just the writing of Messenger. It became downright supernatural. I don’t think I’ll ever have another experience like that one. 7) For that matter, of your accomplishments, what are you most proud of? I painted my house shutters last Summer and I’m pretty darn proud of that. I’ve written grants that procured over a couple million dollars for science and education and I’m pretty stoked about that. To finish anything, including making it through that resolution to pray for a stranger every day for a year and not quit. To actually see it through. I guess if it came down to the final draw it would be the times I’ve chosen to be gentle and kind rather than go on the attack. Also, when times have gotten dark and I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off, and gotten back to work. I’m a great Zaza as my littles known as The Adorables and The Charmings call me. That’s certainly been my greatest role. 8) How do you describe yourself to people who want to know: Who is River Jordan? I’m a believer and a stargazer. A movie lover and bourbon drinker. A Gulf Coast girl now planted on this hill in Tennessee. Mostly, I’m a storyteller 9) Is commercial success important to you? Going to the dentist is important to me. Keeping the lights on is important to me. If that equates to a degree of commercial success then of course, that would be great. And movie deals. Lots and lots of movie deals. Every, single one of my novels would make an incredible movie but no options yet. Hollywood, are you listening? I’m game. 10) Why do you write? About seven years ago late one night nearing midnight I received an email from a reader. It was one of those letters that began, Dear Ms. Jordan, I doubt you’ll ever read these words or that they’ll actually get to you but . . . Then the writer went on to explain that on the darkest night of her life, after a suicide attempt and she had been hospitalized, her mother brought her a copy of my first novel, The Gin Girl. She went on to tell me that reading it on the darkest night of her life made her feel she had friends. That she was not alone. That all those characters were right there with her. A few times over the years she has dropped me a note to say she is still okay and to thank me again. I remember sitting on my stairs that night reading that note and thinking, this is why I write. If it was only for this. This one girl, this one life, it would all be worth it.

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11) What advice would you give to aspiring authors who read your books and also want to live the writing life? To not envision exactly what they think ‘the writing life’ looks like. Once you get knee deep into it, it just looks like your life. You move from desperately trying to finish a novel, to trying to find an agent, to trying to nail down the right publisher, to hoping for reviews, then readers, then . . . So, it can look like a lot of wishing for the next level or rung on the ladder. I would really just say – have fun with all of it. Enjoy your days, your friends, your reads and your writing as a part of the whole. Just to have a good time and good life and not let it be that pot of gold you’re always chasing at the end of the rainbow. Because when you do that the pot keeps moving and your never satisfied. And to read a lot. All the greats and the contemporaries. And to stay passionate and curious about life. And to take more road trips. 12) Do you think Ellen H. Ward is one of the most phenomenal booksellers you've ever met? I think Ellen and all the booksellers I’ve met are phenomenal. They are a special tribe and my true superheroes. I sincerely, deeply bow to their awesomeness. God bless!

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https://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Christian-Mystic-River-Jordan-ebook/dp/B07H7S2N6C

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Michael Amidei interview by Clifford Brooks

1) What is the soundtrack behind your life? I was raised in a family of musicians. My parents met in music school and it was simply a matter of reality that we would play music, as well. They never forced us, but were there when we needed information about music theory, technique, and all of that. Even to this day, our main family “good” is music; one brother is a touring guitarist, the other is an art punk with eyes for Italian cinema. And then there’s me… All of this is to say that the soundtrack of my life has been the music that is constantly flowing through my head, my heart, my whole being. It was allowed to flourish through having such a loving musical family and having music all around me as I grew. I am eternally grateful to the music within me, because it’s guided me through some of the darkest times. 2) What do you remember most about growing up? I remember hearing music. Being read stories. Seeing movies. These were things that I held in reverence. That’s not hyperbole, I mean it. To this day, sitting in a silent movie theater, opening a book, or waiting for music to start makes me feel like I’m waiting for God to walk through the room. I suppose that beyond that, one of the most defining times in my life came when I was ten and eleven years old. During lunch recess at the Catholic school that I attended, I wound up getting in a fight with a bully that had been harassing my friend. I had this guy down on the ground, with people all around cheering. I was sitting on top of him, punching him in the face over and over, blood on my fists. I stood up and raised my arm over my head in victory and snap! My left arm collapsed at my side and I couldn’t lift it. Everyone was mystified. To make a long story short, I was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) at the age of 10 years old. At the time, they told my mother that I had a 4% or less chance of survival...if they amputated my arm. We jumped head first into chemotherapy treatment, had a bunch of surgeries including being the first human to be implanted with biodegradable chemotherapy sponges, and fell into a coma for a couple of weeks at one point. However, due to the miraculous work of the doctors Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 139


and not least of all my family, I came out of it alive and with my arm, putting me through the needle’s eye that is a less than one percent chance. How can I be anything but grateful for it? 3) Give us the high points and footnotes of your journey to today? I have started to believe that the past has great power. It can teach us, it can give us much needed context, but it can also pull you back down the mountain slope. I try not to look down too much! But the past has been a wildly varied and ultimately lovely prayer of life. Many times without my own consent, adventure comes calling. I’ve just learned to love it. From making films, singing opera, singing in a well known (and Western Hall Of Fame inducted) cowboy band for thousands upon thousands of people, releasing albums and books, training seriously in martial arts, having more than my fair share of whirlwind romance, and connecting with poets and the best creatives from all around the world - it’s been a hell of a ride. One of the big high points was in the founding of World Poetry Open Mic back in late 2o12. Since then, we’ve gone live each Friday night at 8 p.m. MST to give a platform to poets from around the world to call in (or send in) to share their work on the air. It’s really been a blessing and the community that’s grown out of it is something that we take enormous pride in. 4) Fill us in on your daily podcast. What's in called? When is it on? What sets it apart from others? Where do you hope it goes in the future? Towards the end of 2017, I was talking with my World Poetry Open Mic co-host JT Gunter about things that we’d like to see in the next calendar year. Somehow, and I don’t remember who came up with the idea, the idea was floated of me doing a daily podcast on concepts around creativity or in living a creative life. The idea felt daunting, especially because consistency has never been this ADD poster child’s strong suit. But I was also excited about the idea. So, I went about figuring out how to make it work, even when doing a podcast was the last thing I wanted to do. And trust me, if some people knew the situations in which I recorded a few episodes, they’d be seriously shocked! 5) So many ask which genre you like more than another that fits your fancy. I think that is stupid. How does music, literature, and life fit together to tickle your fancy? I once heard Kanye West respond to a late night host asking him about how he manages to work in so many disciplines. West responded with something like “Because I think that everything is the same thing.” I jumped out my seat! Someone else just said what I’ve been saying all along! It’s all the same thing. When I hear an incredible piece of music, I am moved to poetry. When I hear poetry, I feel music. When I read literature, my head comes alive with new worlds of all three. There really is an element in my life to being hyper-inspired. Whatever the creative equivalent of a nymphomaniac is? That’s me. I’m constantly having the wheels in mind turned by my experiences. 6) You have a long history in radio. Give us more details on that. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 140


There was a point a while back where I had felt that I had reached the end of the road wanting to play music for a full time living. The transition came when I was hired (based on my background and experience in the genre), with no experience mind you, to step in and run a high profile radio station. As you can imagine, this was a high octane learning experience. But it was an invaluable one. Fast forward to World Poetry Open Mic, we’re now in our 7th year and have racked up over a thousand hours of past show content and hundreds of shows. Somewhere along the line, I’ve also been asked to guest on other’s shows, 7) Where does God fit into your philosophy, work, and life? My spirituality revolves around a love affair with God or the Infinite. While that that sounds strange to some, to me it means that I find the beauty in the temporary nature of things and seek what won’t change while still chasing deep gratitude for everything that I (and we) have been given. Ultimately, I suppose that I’m worshipping my creator by turning and creating back, being a small part of the echo that responds to God’s voice, spoken into the void. It motivates all that I do. 8) What are you reading right now? Right now, I’ve been digging into Kenneth Patchen for poetry and Cormac McCarthy for prose. I’m only interested in filling my head with the work of the best, which translates to the music I listen to and the films I watch, as well. 9) What's involved in your long game? What's on your bucket list? A bucket list, I don’t keep. However, the long game is a life lived making great art with people that I love. I could go into hours of business plans and the strategy, but I’ll leave it with this: a house with many pillars is less likely to fall than that with a single pillar. Interpret that as you will. 10) I've seen more of your poetry online. What has motivated you to publish more of it over the last few months? For many years, I have written poetry, yet kept it in the recesses of my own library. The only change came when I decided to stop hesitating and to stop wasting my time. The words aren’t “by” me, they are “through” me. Because of that, they deserve to be shared. So to me, sharing them as I do is part of the responsibility of creating them. 11) How do you want to be remembered, boss? I suppose that being remembered is something that I want. But, I haven’t really thought about it. I prefer to think of the future and move in it’s direction, at least until I can’t anymore. However, if I have to be remembered for something, I would like to be remembered as someone that meaningful stories and music came through. I would like to be known as generous and as kind. But most of all, I want to be remembered for having lived a big life full of passion, creativity, love, and adventure.

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Nick Owen

interview by Clifford Brooks 1) How did poetry find you? Did it capture you in your youth, or a latecomer to the days you spend on earth? What did your teenage years look like? Who was your first love, did you enjoy college, is the adult world what you expected it to be? .....and that is one question? I started writing limericks aged 7, when I heard Popeye on TV. Teenage found me writing love sonnets driven by unrequited love. You would have to read my sonnets to find out who I first loved. I very much enjoyed university, where I met my wife and friendship group. The adult world......... a much more pleasant world than childhood, which was a surprise. 2) What are you reading right now? What is your favorite book of prose and poetry? Where is your favorite spot to open a book? Muktananda, Play of Consciousness. Gaudete is my favourite book of prose ad poems. It is a story by Ted Hughes. I like to read in a corner of my room where I can look up and see the birds in my garden 3) What have you had published thus far that still makes you smile to think about it? What is your current project? What feats do you plan to bring to fruition in the future? "Telling it like it is", my book of fairy tales written in verse was great to write and more fun to read to people. "A journey through grief" does not often make me smile unless i think of it where it sits in the national Poetry Library on the South Bank. I am putting together a book of poetry "On love and War." They seem to belong together for some reasons. My big project is a set of courses on Deeper Mindfulness. One of these will be "The mindful poet" 4) What is a question you've always wanted to answer, but never been asked? (What is the answer?) What is the meaning of life? Answer See Deepermindfulness.com (when it goes live) 5) Who is your favorite philosopher, why? What is your favorite book of the Bible, why? What politician (living or dead) pulls at your heartstrings, why? I love Nietzsche. Such a mix of ideas, poetry, originality and exuberance. Genesis. I love the creation myth. Jeremy Corbyn is my man. I hope he will be PM by the time you print this. 6) If you could bring together a salon of the greatest minds (alive or dead) who would they be? Plato, Nietzsche, Jung, Einstein, Newton, Muktananda, Chomsky, Bateson, Descartes, Dostoevsky, Marx, Victor Hugo, Michaelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci

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7) What rituals do you go through before, during, or after writing to get your pistons firing? Is place important to you, or can you put pen to paper whenever and wherever you are at the time? Meditation and more meditation. The energy of a place is important, but energy comes and goes from a place. 8) How does social media play into promoting your art? Do you think it helps or hinders the creative process? I am not very commercially minded and i find social media rather quirky and not always helpful. 9) What are some points of the publishing industry that grate on your nerves and would like to see changed? I was told that if I was famous they would publish my stuff, but since I am not famous, they won't. 10) How do you want to be remembered in you work? In my work? For my work? I would like people to remember me as a loving human being. The rest is probably silence. Personal and social links: https://sites.google.com/site/nickowenphotography/home https://sites.google.com/site/alifeworthcelebrating/home http://poetryandpicturesatthemuseum.blogspot.com/2014/05/to-live-forever-poetry-summer-school-at.html https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=669136795 https://www.linkedin.com/in/nick-owen-b4205939/ https://www.deepermindfulness.com is coming soon

Book Covers:

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Octavio Quintanilla interview by Clifford Brooks

1) Tell us about the best of times and the worst of times. What events in your life have produced the poet you are today. What are a few hard defeats and brilliant successes? Up till now, I’ve had plenty of good and bad experiences in my life to give me subject matter to write about for the rest of my life. Many good experiences in my life have been with “firsts”—first generation American, first to get a high school and college diploma, first to write a book. These “firsts” require enterprise, hardship, hard work, and lots of dreaming. For me, these “firsts” also evoke a strong family bond and sacrifice from those who loved me to get to where I am now. I didn’t do it alone. And saying this is important to me. When it comes to defeat, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced it. Not yet. I’ve had failures, but so what? Who hasn’t? I embrace what comes. Sure, it hurts sometimes, but I think failure is successful when we come to terms with it so that we get another fighting chance to fail again if necessary. 2) What is your process of writing poetry? Do you have any superstitions about it or rituals you perform before, during, or after composition? My process is simple: read every day, write every day. Since January 1, 2018, I have been writing a poem a day, usually a visual poem, what I call a FRONTEXTO, a blending of the Spanish words “frontera” and “texto” (border/text). This activity has been shaping my writing process, and by this, I mean that now I am constantly thinking about the world outside of me and the world inside of me. About art. About combining text and image. About different ways to write about what I know and the ways I can explore those things that I do not know. I am constantly thinking about language and about what it can do. I don’t think much about superstitions or rituals. Might sound like an exaggeration, but writing, thinking about writing, and teaching writing is a way of being for me. 3) Who are a few of your favorite poets? How does music, if it does, play into your writing? I am originally from the Rio Grande Valley. Lived there for decades. Now I live in San Antonio, TX and teach at Our Lady of the Lake University. So many of my favorite people, who often happen to be poets, come from these places. That said, music has always been part of my life. From Mexican rancheras, to Selena’s cumbias, to country, to jazz, to the Ramones, just love it all. Many might not know this, but in the early 90’s I had a band—I started off learning to play bass, then when the guitarist quit, I picked up guitar. We played covers at first and then I started composing my own songs. Mostly played in garages. But point being, music has made its way into the way I write. It’s always been there. I can hear it every time I break a line. 4) How does place factor into your work? Place plays an important role in my work, especially in terms of what I have lost. When I moved to Texas from Mexico at the age of nine, I left behind a way of life that would be unrecoverable. I left people, not just places. So, I write about people, too. Once I crossed the Rio Grande, I began the process of becoming, to a great degree, someone new. But the place where I lived my early childhood never left me. I see glimpses of it, the streets, the houses, the plaza, the river, the boy I was, there. I write about this in my new manuscript. In contrast, in my first book, If I Go Missing, I write quite a bit about what I found here, in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, and not about the place that I lost.

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5) What habits have you formed about the process of editing your own work? I edit quite a bit. Few times has a “done” poem poured out of me. But because I have challenged to write a poem a day, my editing habits have changed. I have been handwriting these Frontextos in Spanish, and so, the language seems so new to me, even my own voice sounds new when I write in Spanish. And so, I write the poem, which in length can be a word to more than fifteen lines, a text usually accompanied by an image, and I leave it alone. I mean, I know that some these poems need revision and editing, but I don’t worry about this till they are solicited for publication. Then, I edit and revise, not just the Spanish text but also the translation that I do. I want the poem to work in both languages. 6) What's the backstory to the books you already have out? I have one book out, If I Go Missing, published in 2014. I started writing this book as a PhD student at the University of North Texas. It is composed of poems I wrote during that time and poems I wrote and revised after I graduated. But there is a consistency in terms of subject matter—poems about place: the borderlands, la frontera, as I have mentioned before. Overall, it took me approximately 6 years to write and publish. A long process. But I am happy with the way it turned out. At the moment, I am discussing the possibility of publishing this book in a bilingual edition in Spain. A press from Spain took interest, and if all goes well, we should see it in bookstores this year. I am also working on a new manuscript in English. I think it is almost done. But I do need to keep myself away from it so I can begin the process of revision. 7) How does your art play into your working life, and vice versa? Art is a big component of my creative process. If you haven’t checked them out, you can experience some of my new visual work at Newfound, Chachalaca Review, The Museum of America, The American Journal of Poetry, and others. This work is testament, I think, of the role art plays in my working life. You can find links to these journals on my website: octavioquintanilla.com 8) What moment in your career thus far came to pass to make you feel like you finally arrived? This is a tough one to answer because I’ve never felt that I have “arrived,” despite the amazing things that have been happening to me as a writer. Do we ever? I guess people have different ways of measuring success. In my case, as a poet, every time I get published in a journal that I admire, I feel accomplished but I never feel that I have “arrived.” The sense of accomplishment, however, fades quickly. Usually, after I post the good news on Facebook. April of 2018, I was named the Poet Laureate of San Antonio, TX. It felt good, but not once did it crossed my mind, that I had “arrived.” I like the idea of almost arriving, but never quite getting there. It’s fuel.

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Vulnerability Some mornings the world is soft. It sends you a bird you can’t name to chirp outside your window. The bird could be anyone you want it to be. But this morning all you want is for it to be a chirping bird. You have all you want next to you: Her back against your chest, your face half-buried in her hair, your arms around all the ripeness you can possibly hold. Why You Never Get In A Fight In Elementary School In this country, everything about you is foreign and no one likes the look of scarcity. You want to tell them that when you draw a river on a piece of paper, a fish always jumps out of it, and you are always ready to catch it as it leaps out of the page. You want to tell them, but you see yourself standing in the middle of a great ocean, your body lifted by all the sounds.

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She’ll leave Texas when the night is dark enough to swallow our houses, our streets long enough to lead us to the beginning of our happiness, the neighbor giving birth to her first born, for instance, or when a friend decides, without us having any say, to put the gun down, toss it in the furnace of the life his peace tells him he can live. She’ll be gone soon and I’ll burn the church of my hard desire on a night like this, raise it up again in the morning when the ashes soften and grief is no longer a rock thrown through a glass window. Talking To Animals Someone shot my dog in the face, his jaw shattered, cornea torn to pieces, tongue hanging almost ripped in half. When I found him, his one good eye was soft with interrogation: Where were you?

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Pearl Mchaney interview by Clifford Brooks

1) Please tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? Who inspired you most? Where did you get you education? Where do you call home now? I grew up in Catskill, New York, a small town, county seat, at the foot of the Catskill Mountains on the shore of the Hudson River. Every morning, on Mr. Jaeger’s school bus, I could look to the west and either see the mountains or believe they were behind the clouds and to the east through the Rip Van Winkle Bridge to Frederick Church’s home, Olana, Arabic for “home on high,” on the east side of the river. This is a long way of saying that I am a Yankee who grew up in Washington Irving country with an awareness (maybe even appreciation) for the Hudson River Valley painters Church and Thomas Cole (whose home and studio I also passed on the way to school). I was a member of the Catskill Dutch Reformed Church and went to one of the denomination’s colleges, Hope College in Holland, Michigan, coincidentally, on the shore of Lake Michigan. It was on those midwestern shores that I first read three remarkable southern writers: William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O’Connor. Out of the 1979 Chicago Blizzard (after sojourns in Michigan, Indiana, and Arizona), I came to Georgia and found daffodils blooming in February. I haven’t looked back and have lived in the Atlanta area since, settling in the city of Decatur where I can walk to everything and am twenty-minutes from work by train or car. 2) What sparked your passion for teaching? What was the path you took to become an educator? In fourth grade at Washington Irving Elementary School, Miss Fanny Kapner inspired me to be a teacher, a dream I nurtured from that moment forward. At Hope College, I majored in English and French and secondary teaching and to this day, honor Nancy Taylor Nicodemus each time I am with students. From 1974 to 1980, when my first daughter was born, I taught English in middle or high, public or Catholic schools. I studied at Georgia State from 1981 to 1992, graduating on that daughter’s twelfth birthday. (My twin daughters were born in 1982). I taught at the Galloway School for five years—the best teaching of my life, before returning to Georgia State, essentially hired not for my PhD studies but because I had high school teaching experience. I think of teaching, and I share this with the future teachers I advise or teach, as having a passion for my subject, a passion for students, and a passion for teaching itself. I think of myself as a teacher rather than a professor, for I don’t care to “profess” what I might know but would rather teach and thereby also continue learning along with my students. 3) What is the one project you’ve worked on thus far that still rings true as your favorite? I’ve been very fortunate to have embarked on projects for which I have a passion that have also been significant for my field of study. It was Nancy Taylor Nicodemus who advised me about choosing a subject for my master’s thesis. She counseled that I should have a passion for whatever I was going to spend researching so as to not become discouraged or bored. And if the author I chose was still writing, perhaps I would “be right there” on

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publication day. Thirdly, if the writer was still making appearances or giving readings, I might one day meet her. I’ve passed this advice in various forms to many, for all three suggestions were realized. This is a round about way of getting to my answer. I think my favorite project is a little book called Eudora Welty: Writer’s Reflections upon First Reading Welty (1999) that Judy Long and I conceived for Welty’s 90th birthday and published by Judy’s press Hill Street, in Athens, Georgia. I asked a couple of dozen writers, most of whom I had previously met, to write about first meeting Welty or first feeling the power of her words, the idea emanating from Keats’s “Upon First Looking into Chapman’s Homer.” The book is a lovely tribute to Welty and the impact she had on so many—from poets William Jay Smith and Richard Wilbur to novelists Clyde Edgerton and Reynolds Price to short story writers Barry Hannah, Mary Hood, and Alice Munro. But I am also very proud of having collected Welty’s book reviews in A Writers’s Eye and having discussed it with her. When it was “launched” at Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi, and Welty came through the assembled crowd with Suzanne Marrs, I left my assigned seat to meet her, and she said, quietly, “Do you like it?” How could I not?! Yet, I think what I most want to recommend are two projects that I conceived and edited for Welty’s Centenary in 2009: Eudora Welty as Photographer and Occasions: Selected Writings by Eudora Welty. 4) What is some advice you’d can give those who want to teach in academia to avoid heartache? Those three passions I mentioned earlier are essential. Another piece of guidance that I learned from my husband, fellow teacher and scholar, Tom McHaney, is that a teacher, perhaps like a preacher, need not (should not) try to save the whole flock at once, but to aim to teach one student at a time. And I have found in every instance, that in teaching one, many many learn. I am not certain if by “academia” you mean higher education, but even if you do, I consider teaching at any level to have similar rewards and challenges. And “heartache”? If you are referring to the Tenure and Promotion crucible, then I can respond thusly: As I said earlier, I have been fortunate that for the most part, the projects that I chose, while not always earning me respect and promotion, they did not put me off the path entirely and eventually were recognized. The optimal situation is that one need not choose between an exciting opportunity and promotion, but if the choice is inevitable, I advise following what makes you happy. When I hear (often) young colleagues asking whether they should start a family or work for tenure, I tell them to do both; they should not have to choose one over the other. Beyond these such matters, avoiding heartache in any teaching situation, I believe, might be handled by taking care of one’s health—sleeping, drinking water, laughing, reading for pleasure. 5) If you had the chance to create a salon with all the great thinkers, writers, painters, and musicians who would those ten people include? Love this question and that you allow more than three for the party, I mean salon. Naturally Eudora Welty. And then Alice Munro who admires Welty and is now our greatest living short story writer. Sorry, not Faulkner—he isn’t much of a conversationalist—he liked to listen mostly. Fats Waller—Welty had all his records, heard him play, fictionalized him in “Powerhouse.” Natasha Trethewey, our former poet laureate whom we are lucky to call a friend. Yes, Toni Morrison who I think would enjoy this salon. Need a few men— poet William Jay Smith—a wonderful gentleman, incredibly talented and versatile, and a friend of Welty’s. Reynolds Price, also a friend. Barak and Michelle Obama, absolutely. And our greatest American painter of the twentieth century Romare Bearden. Of course, my husband Tom would be there, and for asking, please join us, Clifford.

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6) You have a gift as a lecturer. How do you educate, captivate, and entertain with such an innate eloquence? Thank you. I am flattered. One answer is that I work at it. I do a lot of reading, research, follow threads and dive into rabbit holes, taking notes all the time, thinking, questioning. I keep the audience, the topic or theme of the conference or panel, and the occasion, in mind. I write and rewrite, trying to get the most apt words and phrases, avoiding clichés and jargon, putting details and interesting asides and digressions in footnotes so that I can manage the focus of the talk. I read my presentation aloud, standing up. This helps me to time the presentation—I always have to cut things out (they fall into the footnotes) and streamline others. Secondly, if I can’t pronounce a word or I am bored with my own ideas, I edit. This is also a means of finding places that might be more complicated (or obtuse) for an oral presentation. Finally, when I am speaking I try to look up at the audience to engage with them. 7) Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What’s on your bucket list? Wow! 10 years from now I expect to be retired from Georgia State. I would love to read, read, read—to not finish a book once I had enjoyed it sufficiently, to not be rushed, to read a book a day. Recently, I have thought of starting a Canasta club. I used to play this card game that was once more popular than bridge with my grandmother. I love to walk—I walk now about 3 miles every weekday morning with 2-4 neighbors. When I am retired from teaching, I would like to go on longer walks, hikes even, across meadows, on beaches, and in the mountains. I don’t have a bucket list; I’m much more a month to month person. I think I might like to go to Vienna to see Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze for a third time. And now that I am pondering this “bucket list” idea, I once had the plan to travel in Italy, France, England, Scotland and Ireland along the path that Welty visited in 1949 and in the early 1950s. 8) What inspired the creation of Lost Southern Voices? Who have been some of the presenters in the past, and who is reading this year? Several years ago, Andy Rogers and I stood among the Decatur Book Festival booths and talked about Eleanor Ross Taylor and her sister Jean Ross Justice, and a dream-idea of something we partied about with Gregg Murray, Alison Law, and others a year later became Revival: Lost Southern Voices. The idea is to “revive” those writers (and artists and musicians) of the South (also loosely defined) that contemporary audiences have forgotten or ignored or have never surfaced by having writers and scholars bring them to new attention. We try to “keep” them alive post-LSV Festival, by having the lost voices’ (and the presenter’s) work available for sale. We’ve been very fortunate to have among our presenters Georgia Poet Laureate Judson Mitcham, Pulitzer Prize poets Natasha Trethewey and Yusef Komuyakaa, Terry Kay, Bill Ferris, Jessica Handler, Beth Gylys, Tony Grooms and many others. This year Tony will join with Valerie Boyd, Jamil Zainaldin, Hank Klibanoff, Cecelia Woloch, Mickey Dubrow, and of course, Clifford Brooks (presenting Frank Stanford, who we also learned about in 2017 and 2018—seems we can’t get enough!). 9) When and where is this year’s event? The third Revival: Lost Southern Voices will be April 12 and 13, at the Dunwoody Campus of Perimeter College of Georgia State University. We plan again to have a casual dinner buffet on Friday evening and Saturday lunch available. The “Lost Voices” that one can learn about and enjoy include A. R. Ammons, Harriet Arnow, John Ehle, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Albert Murray, and T. S. Stribling. If these names are unfamiliar, then one should come to the festival! Perhaps less lost, but with stories that have been under-appreciated, are W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, and Mark Twain.

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10) What do you see Lost Southern Voices evolving into? Have you considered a festival of the same theme? We had about 200 attendees for each of the first two years; the venue can accommodate many more. We’ve been fortunate to have several Georgia State entities. Emory, and Georgia Humanities as wonderful sponsors each year to be able to bring some presenters from afar and have been able to offer the festival for free—which is essential, I feel. In 2018 Jennifer Colatosti joined Andy Rogers and me as a co-director, and now Gina Flowers, Kari Miller, and Allison Wright are additional powerhouses making things happen. To grow, evolve as you suggest, into any other format, I think that we will need an additional significant sponsor. 11) What are some of the publications under your belt, and what do you have coming on the horizon? Where can we find them, and how can we keep up with your progress? In addition to LSV in April, I am working on a presentation about Eudora Welty and Isak Dinesen for a Welty conference in Charleston in February and another presentation about realities and imaginings in Welty’s autobiography One Writer’s Beginnings. Occasions was just reprinted in paperback, but the last big project that I published was A Tyrannous Eye: Eudora Welty’s Nonfiction and Photography (UP of Mississippi, 2014). I am often asked about the title, so I’ll explain here. I had often taught Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ideas in my high school teaching days, including his sentiment in “The Poet”: “We have yet had no genius in America, with tyrannous eye, which knew the value of our incomparable material.” It occurred to me that Welty was such an American genius and had such a keen eye to justly judge the worlds in which she lived as well as she had judged the worlds she imagined. The wit, wisdom, clarity, beautiful and rich language, the care, honesty, and curiosity that we might recognize and relish in her fiction are everywhere in her letters, essays, newspaper writings, reviews, and memoir as well. Her photographs, I believe, employ that same tyrannous eye to show us something new that might have remained unseen. As there is much more Welty than McHaney in A Tyrannous Eye, I feel happy to recommend it to your readers, Clifford.

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William Kenower interview by Clifford Brooks

1) Your tagline of Facebook is: author, lecturer, and coach. How did your life play out to find such a varied calling? I spent many years writing and not publishing. This was a hard time for me, but it taught me a lot of about fear, and about the role my thinking plays in everything I do, particularly writing. By this path, I was led from fiction to creative, spiritual non-fiction, if I had to give my writing a label. All the hats I where professionally are connected. I write about what I lecture about and what I coach about. So Fearless Writing is a book, is also the source of many of my lectures and classes, and is the foundation for my coaching. In this way, I see all three disciplines as a part of the same body of work. What’s more, each inspires the other. What I learn in my writing I bring to my classes and clients, and what I learn from my classes and clients I bring to my writing. 2) Please fill us in on what WDBK Connections is and the services it brings to those often faltering or failing to find a toe-hold on in today's tumultuous world? How can our readers contact you for more information? WDBK Connection is my “company,” which is just me. If you’re interested in working with me oneon-one, as writing/life coach, or you’d like me to teach a class at your writer’s conference or talk to your writing organization, head over to williamkenower.com and shoot me a note. In general, I look to inspire more than instruct. My specialty is helping people overcome their fears and blocks. Craft is great, but useless if you think you’re no good, if you think the market is too crowded, if you fear you have no talent. In my experience people tell themselves all kind of lousy stories about acceptance and rejection and feeling stuck and so on. I do my best to tell my clients and students and readers better stories. 3) What is your personal philosophy on life, and how does that play into your creative and work life (or are they the same thing)? My philosophy in a bumper sticker: Everything’s okay even when it looks like everything’s not okay. The slightly longer version: Our well-being is unconditional. We are okay not because of how much money we make or how many books we’ve published or who’s President or anything else. Our okayness, our wellbeing, is a completely internal state of affairs. Our well-being is like balance. Sometimes, given the conditions, it’s harder to find, and we fall, but it’s always there and we can always find it with practice. This is what I practice living every day, and what I write about in one way or another. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 157


4) Tell us about the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. What projects does it champion, causes it endorses, and literature it births into a world starved for originality. The PNWA’s primary function is putting on the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference – one of the oldest and largest conferences of its kind in the country. It’s a lot of work that a small and dedicated group of people puts in tons of unpaid hours to create. I’m a part of that, though most of my duties revolve around Author magazine, of which I’m the Editor-in-Chief. The PNWA also offers writing classes during the year, and I usually teach one or two of those. I think one of the PNWA’s greatest strength is that they offer support to every kind of writer: young adult, children’s, literary, poets, suspense and mystery and romance – every kind. What’s more, they provide an opportunity for authors to gather together from time to time and talk to one another about their challenges and fear and hopes. Writers need community as much as anyone, and the PNWA is great for that. 5) What are the books you have under your belt, projects you have on the horizon, and where can we find them/learn more. I’m the author of Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion, and Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence, as well as one novel, One Year in Jeopardy. I have two books in the works right now, but I’m superstitious when it comes to talking about things that haven’t been sold. Suffice it to say, I’m excited about them, and look forward to sharing them with my readers. 6) What are you reading right now? What music keeps you on-point? Because of all the interviews, I read mostly who I’m interviewing. I don’t really have time for pleasure reading, unfortunately, although I did get a copy of Marc Maron’s memoir, Attempting Normal, for Christmas and liked it quite a bit. For music, actually, I write it. That is, when I need a break from writing words, I like to write music. That seems to be all the music I need these days. 7) You have a regular radio show that brings on incredible talent. What are a few of your favorite interviews, and who would you hope to see highlighted on it in the future? My favorite interviews on the podcast (Author2Author; find it on iTunes!): Richard Bach, Sir Ken Robinson, Andre Dubus III, Carol Bayer Sager, Deb Caletti – oh, there are too many to count! I love so many of these people, really. It’s the rare one I don’t love. As for someone I’d like to interview? I don’t know. I never think that way. I just see who’s on the horizon. 8) What are a few pet peeves you find in the publishing world, and how would you go about remedying them? I would say the emphasis on platform in non-fiction publishing. I think platform can be incredibly helpful for book promotion, and there’s no doubt it makes the publisher’s job easy when an author has, say, 10,000 devoted FB followers or their own television show, but I think a book itself builds platform, and I hope publishers will begin to see writers as a talent to be nurtured rather than a commodity to be sold.

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9) If you could sit down with one luminary of culture, alive or dead, who would it be, and what would you ask them? I’d ask Paul McCartney to tell me the story of how Let It Be came to him. I’ve heard it, but I want hear it again, and again, and again. 10) What's the one thing you do to recharge in the whirlwind of activity you face every day? Play the piano. If I think to do it, it always makes things better. 11) Do you have any superstitions or rituals you believe or go through before, during, or after writing? This is how every weekday begins: wake up (5:40), meditate with my wife, listen to my wife read two paragraphs from A Course in Miracles, make coffee, feed the cat, unload the dishwasher, sit down to write at about 6:21, give or take a minute. So, yes, I guess I have a ritual.

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Magazine-to-Magazine Interview

Maggie Brown of New Southerner interview by Clifford Brooks

New Southerner is a quarterly magazine about living creatively and sustainably. We believe the arts can shift culture and empower humans to face climate change. Hi! I’m Maggie, the Editor-in-Chief of New Southerner. The title “Editor-in-Chief” sounds a bit more boss than it actually is, but – I operate pretty much every aspect of the magazine, from designing layouts to running our social media. I absolutely could not do it, though, without help from the Poetry Editor Chaney Williams and other volunteers, many of whom are my close family and friends. I, like most of the staff, work in academia full time, and New Southerner is our passion project. We operate primarily out of Louisville, Kentucky, but we have regular contributors from all over the globe. 1) What was the impetus for the creation of New Southerner? What sets it apart from other literary journals? What’s the philosophy behind its machinations? Founding Editor Bobbi Buchanan started New Southerner as an online magazine with an annual literary contest and accompanying journal. She had a dream of marrying creative writing and sustainability, and of promoting self-sufficiency in an accessible way. When Bobbi was looking for someone to take the helm, I had started a bit of a side career in speaking about zero waste and veganism alongside my full-time gig as a writing professor. I’m so lucky that she happened to be in the audience during one of these talks, and that our mutual friend (Mick Kennedy of The Heartland Review and Press) introduced us. I was so excited to meet someone who shared my values, and it seemed to be kismet that I was suddenly given an outlet for my message of sustainability for the planet and the self. 2) Who are included in your staff, and please give us some of their background. Deena Lilygren (my right hand): Deena and I are best friends who work together in just about every endeavor. First and foremost, Deena is a writer of short fiction, but she has also established herself as an essayist with her column in the LEO (Louisville Eccentric Observer). Not only does Deena regularly contribute to the New Southerner with writing and illustrations, but she also works tirelessly behind the scenes to pick up the slack. Essentially, if there is anything I need a hand with or need an extra set of eyes on, Deena’s my woman. Chaney Williams: Chaney became our Poetry Editor when we met through Deena – Chaney and Deena were earning their Creative Writing M.F.A.s at Murray State, and we were getting swamped with submissions. Turns out, Chaney has a great eye for the sharp poetry we like to publish. We like poetry that’s somehow both pointy and jaunty at the same time. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 160


Susan Swanson: Susan and I go way back – we met in graduate school and became fast friends. Now, she lends her smart, rational voice to the publication, and I always turn to her when I need instructional/researched writing or lovely personal essays. I love Susan’s takes on healthy living, her commitment to simplicity, and her unshakeable loyalty to family and friends. I’d like to think we inspire each other to find new eco-friendly behaviors to try. Matthew Wiles: Matt has contributed frequently to the website, and I am particularly enamored of his John McWhorter-style piece that opens the inaugural issue of the print magazine. Matt’s a six in the parlance of the Enneagram, so he lends a great deal of stability to the behind-the-scenes work. Plus, he’s my husband and the father of our dog Edie, so my fingers are crossed that we’ll be able to work together for a long time. 3) What are some of the benefits and drawbacks in publishing strictly online and then in print? I anticipated that people would assume that we’re undermining our mission by going to print instead of staying digital-only. They might say it’s hypocritical to create a physical object out of paper when we are advocating for less waste and more sustainable practices. Luckily, I haven’t received that criticism. Now, I’m not suggesting that deforestation isn’t a huge problem, or that sustainable printing options are not a part of my end goal – I indeed wish to achieve a circular business model that produces little to no waste – but I think we neglect to consider our digital carbon footprint, and the sustainability of our virtual lives. On the one hand, I’m an internet addict, and not at all a Luddite who will complain about millennials staring at the blue lights in their hands. On the other hand, I know that too much screen time is dangerous, and that burnout culture is contradictory to the lifestyle New Southerner promotes. A slower, more deliberate life means powering off the devices from time to time. I’m reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s assertion that “books are for the scholar’s idle times” because “when he can read God directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted.” The main advantage, then, is that print allows us to push back against the expectations of digital publishing, which are that you should have a non-stop barrage of content. I know content creators can relate to the suffering we endure in a culture that expects us to be in a constant state of output, and we found that mode of operation to be, well, unsustainable. We’d love to provide high quality material on an hourly basis, but that doesn’t espouse our ethos, at least not without the degree of monetization that would give us the freedom to do so. What we can afford to do, though, is put our blood, sweat, and tears into finite products rather than into an endlessly scrolling web page. It allows us to curate around a theme, and explore it in depth rather than just settling for breadth. 4) What’s the future of literary journals as far as you can see? I think the tangible, sensual, tactile experience of books and magazines is becoming more and more exciting as it distinguishes itself from digital media. I know I’m going to annoy purists everywhere, but I’ve always enjoyed interdisciplinary approaches to life, and sustainability is as cross-disciplinary as it gets! I fully respect writers who focus on their craft and lift up genres for all the attention they deserve. But, even when I was a theatre kid, I enjoyed the experimental junk the most. I’d like to see artists – and I’d argue everyone’s an artist – working toward common goals. I think we should just feature “stuff” that’s cool and presents a message or mood that we either identify with and cry about and get catharsis through, or that we can celebrate and rally around. This is a tricky balance for me, too – I don’t want to be blind to suffering – no artist does – but I want to make sure that the overall result isn’t bleak and nihilist. We can’t sustain ourselves on everything sucks, so let’s give up; rather, Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 161


we need to nourish ourselves on more hey, we’re not alone in these everyday crises of faith, of motivation, and the general difficulty of living. And while we want to acknowledge the times when we despair, I hope that we can occasionally peek out of the darkness and get some good work done. 5) Who are some of your favorite poets/authors/essayists you’ve published so far, and why? I have to begin with what I consider to be the flagship essays of our first two issues, since I’m so thrilled to have my ideals echoed in the voices of my two best friends: Deena Lilygren’s “The World is Ending; You Might as Well Join the Circus” epitomizes the mortality theme of Issue #1, and Susan Swanson’s “The Business of Busyness” is the slow living manifesto I’d love to live by and which headlines Issue #2 about hygge. I’m also insanely thrilled to have published in the video essay genre, which has been my obsession for about two years running – I had the pleasure of featuring Australian filmmaker Nellie Huié’s work about the Tropical Research and Conservation Centre in Borneo. I also think we had a prescient moment last year thanks to the thoughtful Christopher Martin (author of This Gladdening Light), when we published “Let Me Look in the White Mirror: A Letter to James Baldwin after Charlottesville.” We also have a heartbreakingly empathic piece in our upcoming issue by a friend of mine, Jill Erwin, in which she details how fleeting comfort can be for those attuned to the suffering in the world. 6) If you could put together a Top 10 Wish List of Writers to Publish, who would it include? James Baldwin Wendell Berry Brené Brown Françoise d'Eaubonne Emily Dickinson Joan Didion Ralph Waldo Emerson Sylvia Plath William Wordsworth W.B. Yeats 7) What’s a question you’d love to be asked, but never have? What’s the answer? Q: What the heck does literary life have to do with sustainable life? A: Everything. Creative living without sustainability is hedonism. Sustainability without art is soulcrushing. Q: Do you love sustainable fashion and want to talk about it and write about it all the time? A: Yes. Yes, I do.

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8) What are a few helpful hints to give writers looking to submit on what NOT to do in order to be considered? I’m sick of “nature writing” and “Southern” writing, and unfortunately that’s where everyone thinks the intersection between creativity and sustainability lies. I’m over nostalgia, and Golden Age fallacies. I think we can promote simplicity without romanticizing the past, and I’m pretty intent on cultivating a stylish aesthetic. We need nature writing, but we need it to be new, and we also need help on navigating this world from an anti-capitalist perspective. Sustainability for the planet must begin with sustainability for the self. That’s why filling up our souls with art is so important. Creating and consuming art is what makes us human.

Website: http://www.newsoutherner.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NewSoutherner/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/newsoutherner/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/newsoutherner

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Johnny Hunt

interview by Clifford Brooks

1) You are a man of God with a rich spiritual past, incredibly accomplished present, and unprecedented future. What are the seminal moments in your life that produced, not only the pastor, but the man you are today? When I looked back over my life I always remember a particular moment, and that is the night that my father gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me that he would be leaving. I certainly did not understand what divorce was all about or what it would look like. My father left my mother and my five siblings when I was seven years old. As a result, I was raised by a single mom. I work two jobs and during the summer when we would be sent about 60 miles from home to work into the tobacco fields of North Carolina. Little did I know that God, was building a tremendous work ethic into my heart and life. My early years were turbulent to say the least. However, at the age of 20 a good friend by the name of the N.W Pritchett invited me to church, it is there that it all began to happen. After hearing a clear message of the Gospel and sensing the work of God the Holy Spirit in drawing and pursuing me on January 7, 1973 I became a Christ follower and I was born again. Jesus literally changed my life. Early on I began to have a deep passionate desire to tell others of

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this encounter with God's son. Not long into my new life I began to sense that God really did have a purpose and wanted to do something with me. I wasn't able to finish a GED after studying at night school and later enrolled in a Baptist University where I received a BA degree in religion and later Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest where I received a Master’s in Divinity. I felt like God did not only call me to preach, but had begun the process of preparing me. Almost immediately in my days of college I was called to pastor a small church. It was here that I could not spiritual eyeteeth and now for the last 43 years, it is all history. I pastored in Gaffney, South Carolina later in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and then back to the church about hometown where I was converted to Christ in Wilmington, North Carolina, and now for the last 33 years I've had the privilege of serving the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia. It is here that God has used a great people to help me to become a much better Pastor and leader. I am now in the process of transitioning from the First Baptist Church of Woodstock Lord willing on January 1, 2020. I am also presently serving as Senior Vice President of Evangelism in Pastoral Leadership with the North American Mission Board. One of the deep passions of my heart is to train the next generation of leaders coming behind me. I have been involved in this type of ministry through a ministry called Timothy Barnabas for the last 25 years. I've also had a passion to see people come to know Christ. Therefore, I love to teach, encourage and inspire others in personal evangelism. My life has been full to say the least and let me be quick to say much has been accomplished not only because of God's call on my life, that is so very clear and commanding, but also the wonderful wife, Janet Lee-Allen Hunt, that God placed in my life 48 years ago. She has been nothing but a person that has loved me, cheered me on, respected me, and been my biggest asset. 2) What question have you been asked so many times you never want to hear it again? (You don't have to answer that.) I think the question I've been asked more than any other question, especially by those that are in any sort of Christian ministry, is about the success of our ministry. I truly believe our success can be wrapped up in the word obedience I’ve sought to obey the Lord and follow Him. There was not a since of magic that allows a ministry to prosper, grow and attract a large number of people. The truth is a friend of Rick Warren simply said one time it’s not the church is seating capacity but the sending capacity that we ought to measure. The real joy has been seeing people developed and then to watch them embrace God's purpose and mission for their life instead of the large numbers of people that come. So I guess at the end of the day, tell us how you grew from the smaller number two, the larger number, and that's not been the aim or the focus of our ministry. 3) What is your favorite book of the Bible? Why? My favorite book in the Bible is the book of James. James is the half-brother of our Lord Jesus. He was not a believer according to the Bible until after the resurrection. I've always been intrigued as to how you could be raised in the same home with God in the flesh, and not know him. What to challenge to my life as a leader. However, once James became a believer, he pastored a church in the city of Jerusalem and it happened to be during a time of severe persecution. His letter is to the church that has been scattered abroad and I've never seen so many different subject matters in just five chapters of scripture. Some of my favorite verses in the Bible and favorite themes will be found in the book of James. I'm often asked if you were to Pastor in another church, what would be the first thing you would teach them. My answer is always to say, I would teach verse by verse through the first five chapters of the book of James.

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4) What books of the Bible do you wish got more attention in sermons? The books that I wish got more attention of the Bible, the Old Testament Ecclesiastes, some of the richest thoughts in material come from Ecclesiastes. It disbelieved that Solomon wrote this as his last writing. He is now an aged man. The wisest to ever live and he has a figure a lot out. He references his own bad decisions and encourages us in what's best to do for the best outcome he saw life as just attempting to grasp wind in your hand he reminded us that there's nothing new under the sun and at the end of the day, follow God's commandments and obey Him from your youth up. In the New Testament I wish there were more teaching through the entire book of Hebrews. Hebrews has more Old Testament references with New Testament applications than any other New Testament book. There's beautiful pictures of Christ in symbols and sacrifices that he happens to be the ultimate substance. I've been blessed by my study of this dear book. 5) Why do you think Song of Solomon gets so little "radio play?" The Song of Solomon is one of the most beautiful pictures of God's love in one of the purest pictures and principles of sex in the Bible. It is a book that one must maneuver through with much care and watchfulness. Some of the Hebrew poetry is actually humorous in its first reading, but as one delves in to know the deeper meaning, it can be the book that helps children, teenagers, and adults understand God’s perspective of sex and love. 6) There are so many opinions of what flavor of music to use in church. What is your favorite style of worship music, and what are five of your all-time favorite hymns? I certainly have always been a lover of hymns. I love hymns because of the deeper theology in realizing that many of them were written by the theologians of past generations. I love Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, There’s Power in the Blood, always loved, Surely Goodness and Mercy, and the truth is I am having a difficult time distinguishing which are my favorites because I love them all. There is a Fountain, Nearer My God to Thee, We’ll Understand It Better By and By. As different crisis come into my life, into our church, and into the country. It seems like it's the hymns that have the most calming effect on my soul. When it comes to my favorite types of Christian music I love it all. One of my senior adults one time said that I reminded them of Donnie Osman, a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. I love the groups like New Song, Toby Mac, casting Crowns, Third Day. I love the music of the past and still do that. That was presented by groups like Truth, Avalon. I love the contemporary praise and worship especially those songs that really say something. Like Blessed Be Your Name, which reminds me that we should praise Him on the difficult roads and when the sun is shining brightly. I think one thing that's helped our church not to have any major worship wars as it pertains to music, is I’ve had such a love and I trust God has used this as an example before our people. 7) You have been a husband, father, grandfather, friend, life coach, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and now pastor of the Woodstock First Baptist Church. How do you feel when you look back over your career? When you look forward, what's left on your bucket list? When I looked back over my life, I see the fingerprints of God, the favor of the only all over my life. To say that God has shown grace and mercy would be the understatement of the new millennial. God has been good, so very, very good. I pray that I never take it for granted and that I’ll always have a heart of gratitude. The Bible says in Psalm 37:4 Delight thy self in the Lord and he'll give you the desires of your

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heart. My desire, first and foremost should be for Him for His glory and I pray that it is. And at the end of the day He has been the desire of my heart. It's amazing what he's allowed me to experience, to enjoy and to be a part of. My bucket list simply consist of as long as I have life and health, I want to serve the Lord. The greatest privilege in life has been knowing for Jesus. The greatest opportunity in life has been the privilege of serving Him, my wife loves serving Him, my children and grandchildren are all following Christ and serving Him. This brings great, great joy to my wife, Janet and myself. I would like to spend the next few years of my life leading Southern Baptist to get back to the roots of personal soul winning and evangelism. I would like to continue to train leaders here in our nation and abroad. As I am answering these questions I literally just returned from Puerto Rico where I've trained one of the largest number of Baptist Pastors that have gathered in many, many decades on that isle. Just a week prior, my wife and I were in the Noi, Vietnam. Training Vietnamese Pastors. These are the things that excite us. God has been good to me to let me pastor a wonderful church. All of the churches I have served have been very good to us, but Woodstock has been like none other. We will always consider very precious the moments and years that God allowed us to lead this great people. 8) I found you by reading Unspoken, your book helping men open their hearts, minds, and mouths about things that hit so close to home for me that I stand a changed, better man because of it. What prompted you to write the book that shows so much of your life journey? How did you pick the topics in each chapter? What has the overall response been like to it and the accompanying study guide? How do people get copies? 27 years ago, I felt compelled to have a weekend where I would speak directly into the men of the First Baptist Church of Woodstock. What a wonderful turnout and a very engaging time. I sensed that men were the untapped reservoir of useful energy and leadership for the church. Now today I am getting ready for year 27 Men's Conference with over 5,500 men in attendance and 25,000 watching a simulcast from 27 states across America. I would have ever dreamed that God would give us such an opportunity to impact other men. Having said that, after writing at least three major lessons to men and I feel that God has given me an insight into our greatest struggles in the emphasis is ours, not theirs, not just mine. Often spoken of the trilogy of Man's struggles, which is money as it pertains to greed. Sex as it pertains to lust and pride as it pertains to our ego. Out of that has come books like Unspoken, with study guides to help others. I am just a few days away from being on Focused on the Family's radio broadcast in dealing with the book Unspoken. By the way, this book can be purchased on Amazon or you can go to JohnnyHunt.com to view it or other books and messages on CD or DVD that I have preached through the years. Unspoken was born out of a desire to talk to men about what men are having a hard time talking about. It is sort of that unspoken prayer request hands are raised, but lips are sealed. How can I speak to those subjects and what are they? That's where the list was formed and the material was written. I'm grateful that God chose to use it your life, and as a result, this interview. 9) Demolishing Strongholds is coming out soon. What is it about? Where is being sold? What other books do you have coming out over the horizon? Actually demolish strongholds proceeded unspoken to date. It is the single best book I've ever written. I wrote it from the premise that if we do not demolish strong holds in our life the strongholds will demolish

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us. They can be torn down, I believe it takes the power of God. A person may have a thought, the thought may be come a deed, the deed may become a habit, but ultimately the habit will become a stronghold. We men know what it is like to have something in our life that we feel we are controlling and then the day comes that instead of us having it, it has us and we are under its demands. It has become a stronghold. I not only mentioned what the strongholds are, but talking about how to demolish them. This book also available on Amazon, johnnyhunt.com or order it from First Baptist Church of Woodstock 770-926-4428. I pray this book will be an encouragement, an inspiration, a blessing and most of all a major help in the life of men and women. 10) What is your personal philosophy on life, God, redemption, and happiness? Thanks so much for letting the last question be such a personal question. When I think of my personal philosophy of life in my own personal life, it really never took on meeting until I came to know the Creator. To know that the Creator loves us so much that even though he is spirit, he clothed Himself in the flesh, the incarnation in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The very Son of God and came into the world to identify with us and then to offer his life as a sacrifice for our sins. He indeed paid a debt He did not owe because I owed a debit I could not pay. He was kind and loving. Even after he ascended back to the Father, he gave us his work, the Word of God, the Bible as a revelation of who He is and what He's done for us. He sent the blessed, Holy Spirit, God, The Holy Spirit, to convince us of the truth of his Word and to draw us to Himself. The truth is God is pursuing us. He's knocking at our hearts door, drawing us to Himself. Life takes on all the meaning of the universe when we turn from our sins and by faith receive Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. What a difference Jesus has made in the life and the life of countless millions and millions of people. My philosophy of life is pretty simple, it is Jesus Christ. He gives me inspiration, encouragement and life itself to those who trust Him, surrender to him and receive him. Thank you for the privilege to walk down memory lane and to speak of where it all began in this relationship with Christ. Church website: fbcw.org Books and teaching/sermon resources: Johnnyhunt.com Facebook: JohnnyMarshallHunt Twitter: johnnymhunt Instagram: johnnymhunt

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Tom Johnson 5 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time Coming up with the most frightening horror movies of all time seems like a straightforward task, right? Not so much, the horror genre is actually a lot more cerebral than many give it credit for. Horror is tied directly to the fears of our society at that point. People in the fifties were dealing with the introduction of an atomic bomb so horror movies presented those fears as irradiated monsters like Godzilla and the giant ants from Them!. The nineties saw the introduction of the internet and the intense interaction it fostered. This gave rise to a fear of other people and their motives with movies like Seven, Silence of the Lambs and Misery. I believe this is a major reason why horror remakes flop so often. The moment in time that gave those fears relevance have passed. That being said, some movies hit on themes that are timeless and the following movies are some of the best. Poltergeist 1982 If you grew up in the 80’s then this movie has given you at least one sleepless night. The story is a simple one where a family moves into a freshly constructed house in a new neighborhood. They don’t find out till later that the construction company built the neighborhood on a cemetery and instead of relocating the bodies, they just moved the tombstones. The haunting starts out innocently enough with items moving and chairs being playfully stacked but activity escalates quickly. By the end of the movie, the son has been attacked by both an evil tree and a demonic clown, the father’s face was torn off (hallucination?) and the daughter is sucked into the ghost realm through a TV set. When I saw this as a kid, the effects blew my mind and the inability of the parents to protect their children from an unstoppable spiritual force terrified me. The CG is fairly primitive by today’s standards but the practical effects, solid acting and intriguing story still pack a punch. Hellraiser 1987 Clive Barker’s stories are sometimes difficult to wrap your head around but they make for good nightmare fuel. Hellraiser probably has more of an impact on young people because it revolves around the idea of sexual exploration and the dangers of excess. It starts in a dark attic with Frank, a lone man holding a puzzle box. Frank is into extreme S&M and is constantly looking for new sensations. When solved, the box is supposed to open up a whole new realm of possibilities. Unfortunately for him, the new realm is essentially hell and creatures called Cenobites come through to show him how it’s really done. The Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 169


Cenobites claim to be neither demons nor angels but simply explorers from another dimension, devoted to carnal experiences that can no longer differentiate between pleasure and pain. Frank’s brother inherits the house and soon moves in with his wife Julia and daughter Kirsty. A drop of his blood is spilled in the attic bringing Frank back but only barely. Julia, who had an affair with Frank, finds him and agrees to bring Frank people to feed on so he can recover fully. Kirsty, suspecting that her mother is cheating, finds Frank and the box but manages to escape. While recovering in the hospital she solves the box and gets a visit from the Cenobites. They are happy to take her to their dimension for fun and games but she strikes a deal instead. If she can find Frank and get him to admit how he escaped them then they would give her freedom and take Frank instead. After a tense fight in the attic, Kirsty gets Frank to confess and the Cenobites appear. But, they have decided to renege on the deal and try to take her anyway. Kirsty solves the puzzle box in reverse, closing the portal and sealing off the Cenobites from this world. The movie ends with the puzzle box appearing in a store, ready for its next customer. The Blair Witch Project 1999 I am sure this is going to be a controversial pick because the movie was innovative but very much a product of its times. At this point, there was no such thing as viral marketing. The internet was still fairly new and people had trouble ferreting out what was true and what was fakery. Then came along a website talking about some missing hikers and the tape they had apparently left behind. The filmmakers had done their job so well that no one could figure out if this had really happened. The website even had background material that told about the legend of the Blair Witch and the paranormal occurrences that had been documented in the Black Hills area for hundreds of years. It was the first movie that used supplementary material to build a narrative to this degree and it was genius. On top of the Meta story, the film was structured like an old documentary. This was one of the first movies in the “found footage” genre so it was hard not to give it more weight than other horror movies because we were hardwired to accept material presented to us in this way as fact. Some people complain that nothing happens in the film; it’s just kids, shouting in the woods. I’m guessing these people have never gone camping in Georgia. When you are deep in the backwoods at night with no one (hopefully) nearby and no light beyond your tent, you can absolutely accept that the Blair Witch, Bigfoot and Jason Vorhees are all taking numbers to see who gets the first shot at you. So, watching these three students slowly get lost deeper and deeper into the woods with something, possibly supernatural, stalking them every step of the way is deeply disturbing. The Descent 2005 Horror movies often get labeled as misogynist because of the shameless boob shots and violence directed against women but they are strangely progressive towards women as well. Horror movies gave rise to the term “Final Girl” because there is often one heroine who outlives her friends by being stronger and more resourceful. She makes it to the end of the movie and usually destroys the monster, at least until the sequel. Horror has given us some of our most iconic female characters in Ripley from Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 170


Aliens, Laurie Stroud in Halloween, Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs and the entire cast of The Descent. Six women decide to go on a girl’s trip into the Appalachian mountains for a bit of spelunking and general cave exploration. The two main characters Sarah and Juno have had a serious falling out recently and Juno hopes that this trip will let her repair the relationship but Sarah is not very receptive. Especially after a cave in traps them underground and Juno admits that she not only led them into a previously unexplored cave system but that no one above ground knows where they are. To top it off, they are not alone. It‘s never explained what they are but pale, humanoid creatures live in the caves and they are extremely hungry. I can’t say much more without giving away some great twists but if you’re at all claustrophobic, you may want to give this one a pass. The Conjuring 2013 For me a supernatural threat is much scarier than a human killer because there are a lot of ways to stop a human, we are surprisingly fragile. Paranormal threats are beyond my abilities so a story like The Conjuring is my worst case scenario. It’s a perfect example of how to do a ghost story with a slow, tense buildup and very few jump scares but the ones it does have are earned. The story begins with a family moving into an old picturesque farmhouse in Rhode Island. They can tell something is wrong right off the bat because the family dog refuses to enter the house. In the first week, the dog is found dead and unexplained things keep happening at 3:07 every night. In one of the most unsettling scenes the kids decide to play “hide and clap” where someone hides and if asked, they have to clap to give the seeker a clue. The ghosts play along to lead the children into an ominously boarded up cellar where the mother is later trapped. After some research, the family finds that an accused witch had lived there and in 1863 she sacrificed her own baby to place a curse on anyone that would try to take her land. Since that day, the house has been plagued by unexplained suicides and deaths. When activity starts getting out of control, Ed and Lorraine warren are invited in to try and exorcise the house of its dark presence.

If you enjoyed these movies, you would probably have fun watching these honorable mentions: Phantasm, Exists, Return of the Living Dead 2, Evil Dead 2 and Pontypool.

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Blank Verse Films interview by Clifford Brooks

1) What is Blank Verse Films, how did you get this genius off the ground, and why focus on poetry? Blank Verse Films is a film studio that adapts poetry into “poetry films”. We travel to poets’ homes, record them reciting a poem, and then edit the recitations into a film. We don’t have a formula for how to create a “poetry film” because each video varies in style and approach. If the reader of this interview is struggling for a mental image of what a “poetry film” looks like I would point to music videos as the closest genre. All the poetry videos that Blank Verse makes are uploaded onto our eponymous Youtube channel—Blank Verse Films. One year ago Blank Verse Films did not exist. I was working on the set of a big Network television show and was feeling increasingly trapped by the narrow focus of mainstream film and television. I didn’t see many possibilities for myself. During the chunks of downtime on set I was reading a lot of poetry and caught myself wondering why poetry hadn’t been adapted into film. Gradually, the idea of “poetry films” became a fun daydream that I indulged in throughout the day. I recall asking a few of the grips and cameramen what a “poetry film” might look like. A couple people mentioned “The Grinch” or spoken word films, but no one had a very satisfactory response. The genre of “poetry films” did not seem to exist in any substantial way. The daydream progressively became a spirited but disorganized pitch about filming poets and putting videos on Youtube. People who heard the idea were bewildered and a little concerned for me. Their concern was probably well-grounded too. Soon I started spending all of my money on camera and sound equipment that I didn’t know how to operate. People around me had no idea what I was doing. And honestly neither did I, but it felt right. I emailed a few poets asking if I “could film them” and the less cautious of the few agreed. All of a sudden my idea was a reality— I was driving around filming poets and cutting together poetry films. I eventually enlisted the help of my brother, Ted Gioia, and a poet/screenwriter named Jordan Potter. Now Blank Verse is a “film studio”. It consists of a Toyota Camry crammed with film gear and a computer with Final Cut Pro in the corner of a dusty garage. <link to the “eponymous Youtube channel” to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyL6mkkzsBwml-RuWo0GnOg>

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2) Do you feel that your film company fills a gap left on the cultural scene? Who are a few poets you've had on so far, and who would you break a leg to feature in the future? I think the gap is bigger than Blank Verse can fill by itself. Poetry is a huge medium. Film is a huge medium. It seems like there should be a big intersection of the two art forms, but there’s not. I believe there’s enormous space here to experiment. We’ve made poetry films in a variety of styles: straightforward recitations; recitations intercut with music and other footage; recitations intercut with staged action; dramatic reenactments with the recitation as voiceover; and even abstract collages of images. Those are only a few of the possibilities. Ultimately, I hope Blank Verse encourages other people to film poetry. There’s a lot more ways to film poetry than what we’ve tried. We’ve featured a lot of great poets like Frederick Turner and David Mason, but there are even more poets I would like to do. I especially want to film poems by E.A. Robinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay. In particular, I think Robinson’s portraits of people from Tilbury Town (poems like Reuben Bright or Mr. Flood’s Party) are very filmic. 3) Are you open to video or poetry submissions from the public? How do you choose those you do feature? At the moment, we have more film ideas then we can produce. The plan is to eventually open up Blank Verse to submissions, however we aren’t sure when that will be or what it will look like. That being said, if you tweet poems at us we will always take a look. 4) What do you see lacking in contemporary poetry? Do you see its quality improving or sliding downhill? Contemporary poetry is so large and diverse that I don’t have a clear idea of what’s happening. I understand it as a collection of many disparate, small communities that don’t come together into a critical mass anywhere. So it’s difficult to talk about stylistic trends in contemporary poetry the way I could about other art-forms that have a clearly identifiable mainstream. However, one lamentable trend I do see in poetry is the relatively small audience for new work. I would like to see poetry re-enter mainstream culture and have the opportunity to find larger audiences. In my opinion online video is the best opportunity to reach large audiences. It’s a big reason why I’m filming poetry. 5) How can our readers help support your cause? Watch our videos and share them with your friends! If you want to stay updated about new videos you can subscribe to our email newsletter. More importantly, readers can support the movement of filming poetry. Ask your friends about “poetry films”, what they think a poetry film is, if they’ve ever seen a poetry film, what poems they think would make good films. Film your own poetry or poems you like! Encourage other people to make poetry films. More than anything, Blank Verse wants to create a movement of people filming poetry. <link “newsletter” to: https://mailchi.mp/24fb0c198023/blankversefilmsnewslettersignup> Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 173


6) What is the philosophy behind Blank Verse Films? The personal philosophy behind the project is “do something worthwhile and people will notice.” When I first pitched the project to friends, most people stared at me incredulously. They all asked the same question: “Why?” It was a legitimate question, but I never worried about an answer to it. And I still don’t. I know the work is worthwhile and will be vindicated if it’s done well. The artistic philosophy behind the filmmaking is “each poem requires a unique adaptation.” That means we strive to avoid formula so that we can create a unique film for each poem. When creating a film we always consider the poet’s voice, the poem’s sound, and the poem’s structure and meaning. For example, David Mason’s “Hangman” is a narrative poem about two children playing hangman in a car during the beginning stages of a divorce. For this poem, we found four actors and filmed it as a narrative scene that takes place in real time and space. For Frederick Turner’s poem “On Gibbs’ Law”, a tightly structured short poem about thermodynamic potential, we intercut Turner’s own recitation with associative images, and put a ramping music track underneath to stress the poem’s own build-up and release. Turner’s video is one of our best examples of a film tailored uniquely to a poem. <Link to David Mason video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOYRwhcNmGc> <Link to Frederick Turner Video: https://youtu.be/VEgy2J__xkA> 7) How would you like to see your production company grow in the next ten years? What's your endgame? I have no expectations for the future. I am open to all possibilities whether it’s small poetry films made with grant money or blockbuster films written in verse starring Jennifer Lawrence. My only endgame is to establish “poetry films” as a recognized genre with thousands of people participating in them. 8) Do you plan to create compilation videos of those you've featured for sale? How do we get them? We do not plan to sell the videos. They will always be free on Youtube. 9) What projects do you have on the horizon, and how can folks make sure they don't miss a beat? In the short-term future, we have lots of upcoming poem videos. Very soon, we are adding dead poets into the mix, which I am especially excited about. Recently, I’ve been wanting to do a series of videos that create one larger work similar to Richard Linklater’s film of interlocking vignettes “Slacker” or Edgar Lee Masters’ book of epitaphs “Spoon River Anthology”. The best way to keep up is to subscribe to our email newsletter. You will get an email every 2-3 weeks about each new poetry film we make. <link “email newsletter” to: https://mailchi.mp/24fb0c198023/blankversefilmsnewslettersignup>

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Michael Lucker interview by Clifford Brooks

1) Your career includes years accomplishments few others see in a lifetime. How did you pull it off? Where are you from? What's your story? What events in your life cemented you as the man standing today? Thank you. I have been lucky. To have great teachers who taught me to do what I love... growing up in Atlanta, in college in Boston, and in the streets of L.A. I just took advantage of the opportunities when they came my way and tried not to screw them up. I think what cemented my path in film was my inability to do anything else. 2) Screenwriting is an art that demands a school of its own, and you've built one. Tell us about the passion it took to build it from the ground up, give us some of your favorite accolades, and share advice to those coming up to help those in the early parts of their career avoid pitfalls that plague the industry. It's been rewarding sharing what I’ve learned with aspiring scribes. The school has given me a great forum for that, not only in the classroom, but in consulting to writers one on one. The fact that it also led to me writing my own book on screenwriting and teaching at major universities were things I never saw coming. The most important thing I tell young writers is to “write like they mean it.” It’s easy for us to fall into patterns and pretense. But writing can make a difference. Movies can make a difference. 3) If you were to create a faculty from actors and actresses alive or dead, who would you choose, and what fields would you appoint them to teach? I would recommend actors stick to teaching acting. And choose those who feel real in their roles. 4) What are you reading right now, and who are you Top 5 Favorite Authors or Poets? Mostly I have been reading the screenplays of my college students, whom I’m happy to say are learning at an exponential rate. I have no doubt some will evolve into wildly successful screenwriters. Beyond that, I’m usually reading metaphysical tomes from the likes of Neale Donald Walsch, Brian Weiss, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Andy Stanley, Marianne Williamson. Stuff that broadens the mind and fuels the soul. 5) What is a question you've been asked so many times you'd rather cut an arm off that answer again? I’m happy to answer anything. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 175


6) What question have you always wanted to answer, but never been asked? (Please provide the answer.) Who’s my favorite soccer team? Atlanta United. 7) Do you think that the good screenwriter should also know what it's like to perform from the screenplay of another, or is acting and screenwriting two completely different schools of thought? Acting definitely informs screenwriting. In fact, I believe actors have more insight into character than anyone. Whereas writers are trying to juggle a thousand balls at any one time, actors are trained to look at their one ball a thousand different ways. 8) How do those eager to get the best education in this field, which you obviously provide, get in touch with you, and what can they include to put their application above the rest? I’m happy to respond to anyone interested in getting help with their screenplay or screenwriting. They can sign up for my workshops at: www.screenwriterschool.com They can email me at michael@screenwriterschool.com They can follow us on FB at https://www.facebook.com/ScreenwriterSchool/ 9) What is the one moment in your career that you're most proud of, and the one that made you feel, "I have arrived?" I was pretty happy when I got my first movie made. I’ll let you know when I think I arrive. 10) What goals are on your bucket list that you've yet to check off? I’ve been fortunate to write movies and direct television. But I’ve never directed a movie. I think that’d be nice to do before I check out.

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interview by Clifford Brooks

1) Please tell us what sparked the idea behind the foundation of Reformation Brewery. Established in Oct. 2013, Reformation Brewery is a values-based business that seeks to set beer free by making timeless, inspiring craft beer for the reformer in everyone. Co-founded by Spencer Nix (CEO), and Nick Downs (Brewmaster), the two met through church and began homebrewing together, sharing their beer with family, friends, and eventually strangers who came from miles around for monthly "Brew Nights" in Nick's north Georgia property. Inspired by the common ground people shared from all walks of life in these moments, and supported by investors who rallied around an early Peach State Brew-off gold medal for their now popular Belgian Ale, Cadence, these home brewers decided to take the professional leap and start a brewery. With a shared love for church history, and in particular, the Protestant Reformation, the brewery namesake just seemed to fit. Today, Reformation Brewery's downtown Woodstock location serves as a community hub, R&D facility, and taproom. 2) What sets your company apart from all the others? Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the business philosophy responsible for your success? We believe why you drink is as important as what you drink. Beer is a gift, and shared with purpose and passion serves as a connecting point for community and conversation. Our values based vision Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 177


drives us to create beers that connect people from all walks of life. We encourage everyone to pay it forward. 3) Reformation Brewery has a strong tie to the community. What drives that passion, and what part did it play in choosing your current location? We’ll innovate and shape the future of Reformation in Woodstock. It will always be home, and we’re committed to participating in the thriving culture of this city. We exist to serve the community with a place to gather and celebrate together and hope our legacy as a brand reflects that purpose everywhere we go. 4) I understand you’re moving. Tell us where you’re going and what new amenities you may have for the public to enjoy. Located within walking distance to downtown Canton at 141 Railroad Street, the 20,000+ square foot space is in a mixed use area along the Etowah River with access to nearby shopping, restaurants, river use, and green space. Reformation Brewery CEO and cofounder Spencer Nix says the project, lead by developers Penn Hodge & Grant Schmeelk, is an unique opportunity to invest in the future of Cherokee County. “It’s not only a unique opportunity to meet our needs for expansion, but also a chance to locate next to the Etowah River and participate in the renewal of a historic mill in the city of Canton.” 5) You host a myriad of events at Reformation Brewery. What kind of events have you hosted in the past, what would you like to see more of in the future, and how can folks go about scheduling one? We love serving as a venue for moments that help craft real connections in our community. Analogue gaming night, yoga, book club, open mic, and improv performances will continue as part of our recurring programming. 6) What are the various kinds of beer you offer? What’s your favorite? What new kinds do you have coming in the future? We're excited about the innovation happening right now in our new R&D workshop brewery. Our brewers are hard at work developing new recipes, and 2019 is going to be a great lineup of inspired flavors. A recent emphasis on hybrid and wine inspired fermentations -- beers like our Rosé Ale (Alani), a champagne-style India Pale Ale (part of the rotating series, Nolan The Wanderer), and a Pinot Noir barrel-aged version of their flagship Belgian-style Ale (Pinot Cadence) returning this year in celebration of their 5th Anniversary -- offer a taste of more to come. Our barrel-aging program yielded some delicious variants this year, including a Chardonnay and Bourbon versions of our Belgian Tripel, and a Bourbon forward variant of our Imperial Stout. The future will have us conducting deeper research into honey beers, and exploring cocktail inspired crossovers that blend traditions and styles across a range of flavors and drinking traditions. Along with these inspirations, the dedicated brew house allows for kettle sour fermentations, like the Blackberry Sherbet Sour on tap right now. https://reformationbrewery.com Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 178


Scott Freeman interview by Clifford Brooks

I heard country around my house as a kid, but the first song to grab me by the soul was when I heard the Elvis version of “Your Cheatin’ Heart” when I was seven years old. First, it was so radically different from the Hank Williams original. Elvis did it as a kind of swing blues and it was the most intoxicating thing I’d ever heard, so removed from anything else I’d ever heard. Between Elvis’ voice, the swaying rhythm behind him and Scotty Moore’s dripping-in-the-blues guitar, I discovered the power of music in that song. And looking back now, I can see how it formed the foundation for my taste in music.

photo by Ariel Wise

1) What is the first memory of have of music? What effect did it have on you, and did your folks see it in you with elation or call for an exorcism? How did your earliest impressions with sound shape your young world?

I made my mom buy the album with “Your Cheatin’ Heart” that day. It was full of movie shlock, but also had a handful of blues numbers that I listened to incessantly. There was a melancholy, heavily echoed and very credible cover of Lonnie Johnson’s “Tomorrow Night” that introduced me to the harmonica as a blues instrument. Elvis tore down Chuck Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee” with guitar parts from a studio band that still enthrall me. And finally, there was a 1:50 version of Billy Emerson’s “When It Rains, It Really Pours” that remains one of the great blues recordings I’ve ever heard. My folks thought I was crazy. They sure didn’t get Elvis. Or the blues. But I did. And Elvis and blues certainly got me. 2) There's been a row going around about how close or far apart poetry and songwriting are in the family of art. What are your feelings on the matter? What are the similarities and differences to your in the music side of the prosaic family? I’ve always felt that songwriting and poetry are in the same family. If you look at some of Chuck Berry’s songs, the lyrics are poetry. Of course, Dylan changed the game. That’s when the words began to matter; it wasn’t just the beat any longer, it was the content behind the beat. Leonard Cohen, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Ronnie Van Zant, Bruce Springsteen, they’re all modern day poets. 3) How do you feel about silence? Some see it as golden, others cleave to the idea that nature abhors a vacuum, and that dead air must be filled with something. On an average day, what does the inside of your head sound like? I’ve found that as I’ve grown more comfortable with myself, I’ve grown more comfortable with silence. Silence forces one to engage with oneself -- there’s nothing else to engage with -- and that’s not always an easy thing for

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people to do. I’ve come to revere silence because our culture has devalued it. It’s almost impossible to find silence any more; we’ve grown to escape into noise: subwoofers blaring out bass, leaf blowers and lawnmowers, heavy machinery. I like being in the silence of the woods, the stillness disturbed only by a squirrel rustling through the leaves or a brook rushing over rocks or a crow calling out to its brother or sister. That’s where I go to get centered. 4) What was the first song you learned to play on the guitar? I actually don’t remember the first song, it was something like “Red River Valley.” I stopped playing for about eight years and returned to the guitar last year, and I realized it was a great opportunity to re-learn how to play. I’ve spent the past year intensely studying my favorite guitarist, Duane Allman, and that has completely transformed everything I know about playing. In one sense, it has de-mystified Duane’s playing. But in another sense, it’s given me a much deeper appreciation for his approach to playing guitar. 5) What advice do you have for musicians coming up? Do you have some sound financial planning pointers for artists to keep their rent paid while they pay their dues? It’s important to believe in yourself and to be ready to have to overcome a lot of obstacles, from day-to-day financial concerns to finding gigs to finding a manager and booking agent. Only the very best will make it even halfway up that mountain. And my experience is most often those are the ones who want it the most. My best advice is to believe in your talent, and honor it. Do side jobs to support yourself help? Yes. But Bruce Springsteen never had a side job, nor did Duane Allman. There’s no one formula, no one path. 6) How do you feel about "free jazz?" Do you believe that rules should be learned to be broken correctly, or is some framework necessary to prevent music to turning into noisy cats fighting in a trash can? I personally don’t listen to “free jazz,” it just isn’t my thing. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for someone else’s ears. In general, I think rules are often there for a reason, but I also tend to bend them when necessary because my experience is they are sometimes born out of fear rather than reason. 7) What projects do you have out now? What are you currently working on? When does new pieces of you find their way out, and how can we get our hands on them? Currently, I’m the executive editor of ARTS ATL, an online non-profit publication that covers the arts in Atlanta. We have just re-launched our website and over our ten-year history have become an essential part of the arts ecosystem. Most newspapers and alt-weeklies have significantly cut back on arts coverage over the past 10 or 15 years. ARTS ATL was created to fill the void. We do news, reviews, feature stories about the arts scene in Atlanta and the people who drive the city’s creativity. I’m also featured in two Allman Brothers Band documentaries currently available on Amazon Prime: Song of the South and After the Crash. 8) If you put on a music festival with ten bands or musicians alive or dead, who would that lineup consist of? 1. Elvis Presley (the 1968-70 version) 2. The Allman Brothers Band (original line-up) 3. Bruce Springsteen

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4. Robert Johnson 5. Howlin’ Wolf 6. The Miles Davis Quintet (1958-59) 7. Billie Holiday 8. The Rolling Stones 9. Emmylou Harris 10. Otis Redding 9) What genre of music and literature do you deem "the most pure?" I’d say anything that flows from the heart, and I don’t know how to quantify that with literature. In music, I’d say the blues and jazz and gospel and bluegrass are all the purest forms of music because almost everything else native to this country sprang from those genres and can be traced back to them. 10) What question have you always wanted to be asked, but never have been? What is the answer? What’s with all the Native American necklaces and jewelry you wear?

photo by William Berry

A few years ago, I became slightly obsessed with the history of the Creek Indians -- the tribe that once called Georgia home. During that, I was shocked to discover that I am part Creek and that if Creek traditions were still followed, I would actually be a full member of the tribe. I’ve come to embrace Native American spiritual principles and continue to research my ancestors. Native Americans are the most forgotten minority in America, ironic since they were once the stewards of the Americas. I live in what used to be the homeland of the Creeks, yet I can’t drive to Atlanta and spend time in a neighborhood populated by Creeks. I can’t go eat at a Creek restaurant. I can’t go see statues dedicated to great Creek leaders. I can’t go to a park that pays homage to Creek history. All that history has been erased and eradicated to the point that aside from occasional leftover Native American names (such as the Chattahoochee), it’s almost as though the tribe never existed. I’m grateful for those ancestors, and the value they placed on living in harmony with the world around them. Those are values our modern culture could certainly use right now.

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Justin Johnson

interview by Clifford Brooks

1) What makes Justin Johnson the bluesman so suave today? I think that Blues music, and Blues guitar playing is a timeless art. It continues to be reinvented and reintroduced to new generations through artists that take some of that old fire and re-interpret those classic ideas into something that’s relevant today. That’s what I try to do with my music. 2) What’s the first song you remember moving your soul? The first Blues song that ever really hit me hard, was “Last Night” by Lightnin’ Hopkins. At the time, I had just picked up the guitar, and my love of Hendrix’s style made me want to check out some of his early influences. Hearing Lightnin’ for the first time was like getting struck by lightning. Hearing his sincerity and simple power was like meeting a part of myself that I had never known. 3) What song of yours (or another) best describes your life? You know, if you asked me that question 100 different times, you’d probably get 100 different answers, but right now, it made me think of “Treetop Flyer” by Stephen Stills. That tune really captures the perfect attitude towards music, the road, the pressures of a dangerous lifestyle, and the thrill of being an outlier in society. It’s just a perfect metaphor for life as an independent musician.

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4) Let’s get the elephant out of this interview: You rock the face of the blues playing a three-string shovel. How did that idea strike you, and what inspiration fired it? For about five years straight, my wife and I lived on the road full-time in a beat-up old repo RV. During this never-ending touring I found a deeper and deeper interest in tracing my musical roots back to the source, in places like Nashville & Memphis TN, Clarksdale MS, Helena AR… all of the places where I felt closer to the source of the Blues music I loved. In doing so, I became more and more fixated on homemade roots instruments, since many of my heroes like Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, BB King, Blind Willie Johnson, and more, had started out playing simple homemade stringed instruments. It got to the point, after a while, that my fans would bring their homemade roots instruments out to shows, and I began playing any instruments that people brought out, and incorporating them into my shows… kind of like when Houdini would invite the local police to handcuff him on stage! You never knew exactly what was going to happen. So before one of my performances at Juke Joint Festival, in Clarksdale MS, a fan brought out a 3-string guitar that he had made from a garden spade, and electric guitar pickup, and some tuners and small parts. Something about the chemistry of that instrument really shot sparks! Something about my playing style and the sound and soul of that guitar really clicked. I made a video playing the shovel guitar called “Crankin’ Up the 3-String Shovel.” It immediately went viral online, and to this day the video has gotten somewhere around 50 million views online. Since then, I’ve teamed up with the builder of my original shovel guitar, and now I hand build them myself, and offer them on my website to anyone who wants to enjoy the experience of playing that kind of roots instrument. The combination of the steel blade, and the resonance of the strings with a guitar slide is magical! You know, most people look at something like a shovel guitar, and think it could never make beautiful music, but there is actually a magical chemistry to the shovel guitar thats makes it work freakishly well as a guitar. The type of shovel I use has very specific features that actually mimic the shape, scale length, and string contours of a classic archtop guitar like a Les Paul. Also, the hardwood handle and tempered steel body make it really light, but give it killer sustain, bass, and voice. Combined with signature pickups that I had designed specifically for the shovel guitar, the sound is just incredible, and it’s that type of thing that can bring that feeling back, to the audience, of experiencing music from a fresh perspective again.. going back to before they were jaded into thinking they’ve seen it all, they’ve heard it all, and every type of music has been neatly categorized into convenient little prepackaged and labeled boxes. It brings back the possibility of being fascinated and eager to see and experience the unknown.. like the feeling of falling in love for the first time. I love seeing the expression change on people’s faces when they hear music played on the shovel guitar for the first time!

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5) What are you reading right now? Who are your favorite poets and authors? I’m currently reading the book MAGIC, from Taschen Books. It digs deeply into the art and history of magic and magicians. I’ve always loved watching magicians perform, andI feel like they are some of the most disciplined and honed entertainers. I’ve always associated guitar playing with sleight of hand tricks, and so much of the art of sleight of hand applies to guitar playing. The way magicians must practice tirelessly, in order to make a technique look easy or casual, is very much in the same vein as musicians honing their craft. Taschen books are also some of the most well-executed and evocative books as far as illustration. Even the feel and smell of the paper and binding of a Taschen book is satisfying. It’s a complete artistic product, from concept to execution. I also love musician biographies. Some of my favorites are the Johnny Cash autobiographies. I think what people love about Cash’s music is how honest and transparent his songs and lyrics are, and his writing is the same way. He has lived and learned so much, and is a master storyteller.

6) Who is your all-time favorite songwriter and why? I’d have to go with Bob Dylan. He is a never-ending spring, and one of the most prolific and influential writers of all time, in general, not to mention musicians. I really respect rulebreaking artists. I also love the fact that he has broken every rule in the book, and done it in a way that has changed minds and challenged people for the better. He’s not just breaking rules to be different, he really has a singular vision, and the substance and talent to back it up. Those are the truest artists.

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7) How does your home play into the music you write and songs you choose to cover? My home is always moving and shifting. My father passed away when I was a young kid, and my Mom raised me and my brother. We moved around a lot when I was growing up, and I always loved the feeling of moving on to somewhere new. Now my wife and I are like that.. always ready chase down the inspiration wherever it leads. I’m so inspired by place, and love to record and write albums in a region that is inspiring for that type of music. 8) If you put on an old school country and blues festival on (with those alive or dead) who would the top seven acts be? Blind Willie Johnson Lightnin’ Hopkins John Lee Hooker Gene Vincent Mississippi John Hurt Ry Cooder Jim James 9) What traditions in the South are you most proud of, and what misconceptions about us would you like people to drop? I love the simplicity of the South… the appreciation for simple joys and raw experiences, and this spills over into the music. I think the music of the South is just like the cooking in the South. It’s all about using a few pure, simple ingredients, and putting your heart into the preparation; making something out of nothing. Thats why I love the concept of playing music on homemade instruments, and beat-up old hand-me-down guitars. One of the reasons I feel the need to keep on the move so much, is because it helps to weed out those misconceptions about different cultures, the South included. From my viewpoint, personality types, talent, and intelligence are all equally distributed in every region and culture. I think that each region of the US is vital to balancing the culture of this country as a whole, and people get too invested in why one part of the whole is better or worse than the others. 10) How many guitars are in your stable, and what are the most unique ones among them? Which is your favorite? I’ve got about 350 guitars right now. It’s impossible to pick a favorite… it’s kind of like having 350 children, and someone asking you which one is best. Each guitar has a different soul and voice, and each one is best at doing one specific thing. When I am recording, I always run through all of my guitars, in my mind, choosing an exact guitar for the specific sound or texture I’m looking for. If I want a clean, classic sound, I might go for a vintage Fender, but if I want the song to sound like you’re listening to it on a back porch on a humid, summer day, I might choose to play it on a homemade silverware box guitar. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 185


11) What venue have you played that’s your current favorite? Which ones are on your bucket list? I don’t think you can live in Nashville as a musician and not dream of playing at the Ryman Auditorium. It’s called the Mother Church because it has some of the richest history when it comes to country, folk, songwriting, and rock & roll history.. not just from hosting the Grand Ol’ Opry and the Johnny Cash Show, but from all of the classic performances that have taken place on that stage. I recently performed at the Ryman for the first time, sharing the stage with John Carter Cash, and opening for Kris Kristofferson. It was a trip just warming up before the set with John Carter Cash, with the photos of his parents, June Carter and Johnny Cash, framed on the walls backstage. Some of my favorite moments are backstage, just going through material with people you love to make music with, and sharing time with people like Kris Kristofferson, who’ve created the sounds that have shaped your life, and been part of your world of music for as long as you could remember. That whole building is just electric with the souls of the past, and to share that stage with John, opening for Kris, there was an incredible honor. It’s a wild feeling of being part of living history, knowing that you are carrying the past into the future. Those are the venues that inspire me the most… those ones that carry the stories of the past with them. You can feel the mojo when you step onto a stage like that. It’s the same feeling when you record in a studio where your favorite albums were recorded. It puts you in the mood to make something magical happen. Social Media Links are: Website: www.JustinJohnsonLive.com YouTube: www.youtube.com/justinjohnsonlive Facebook: www.facebook.com/justinjohnsonlive Instagram: www.instagram/justinjohnsonlive

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Delvon Lamarr interview by Clifford Brooks

1) How does the wind blow and sun shine on you? How does 2018 feel as an old suit is taken off, and 2019 sitting on you as the New Year slides in? I'm very fortunate, I guess. I have an outstanding team: Novo Productions, Colemine Records, Kurland Agency, etc...my #1 supporter is my wife/manager, Amy Novo (also the founder of Novo Productions), who actually took over my career 4 years ago and formed Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio. They're all working hard to push, not only me, but also Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio forward. 2018 was a really exciting year for me. From releasing my first album through Colemine Records, to signing with the Kurland Agency. I've traveled through the US & Europe and 2019...the door is wide open, and I plan on walking through it. 2) What did the formative years of Mr. Delvon Lamarr sound like around the house? Did the blues bug or gospel grab you to hone your sound on the keyboard? Tell us how jazz factor into your repertoire? Growing up my mom used to listen to a the old school Gospel, Blues, R&B and Soul. People like Shirley Caesar, James Cleveland, Mahalia Jackson to Albert King, Bobby Blue Bland, Robert Johnson, to Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Dee Edwards...etc. My brother was into Hip Hop and Jazz as well as all the stuff my mom was listening too. So that's where most of my musical influences came from. My other influences came from just going out when I was young and checking out some of my local heroes. Cats like Floyd Standifer, Thomas & David Marriott, Ernestine Anderson, Ruby Bishop...etc. When I first started playing music I use to take my trumpet around everywhere and I would sit in with some of these cats and that's where I really learned to play. My high school didn't have a music program so I had to learn by doing it in real time. 3) How do you feel about "free jazz?" How important is formal training in your opinion? What percentage does street smarts vs. book smarts play into how your mind makes up the tunes that keep the heart mellow? I dig Free Jazz. I was never formally trained though, so I don't have a leg to stand on in that department. I'm self-taught. I learned by listening, watching, practicing, along with records and going out and doing it. Also, picking brains while I'm out there. 4) What are you reading right now? Who are some of your favorite novelists and poets? I don't read much. I have trouble reading fluently. I've always been that way. When I was young I had to take special reading classes after school. But even with that my reading never got better. It's like I plateaued at a certain level or something. I can spell and understand words but when words are in sentences it's hard for me to understand. Sometimes I'll have to read something 3 or 4 times to understand it. By the way, this is the first time I've told this story. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 187


5) If you could play with a band comprised of your heroes (alive or dead), who would they be, and what songs would you play? That's a tough one. There would be way too many to put on a stage. But if I have to scale it down I'd go with (for more straight ahead jazz) Freddie Hubbard on Trumpet, Cannonball Adderley on Alto Sax, Curtis Fuller on Trombone, Pat Martino on Guitar & Elvin Jones on Drums. If we're talking more soul jazz I'd go with Grant Green on Guitar, and Idris Muhammad on drums. As for music, I'd start writing my butt off and create some originals. 6) What was the first album you personally bought? What was the most recent one you purchased? Who are a few musicians or bands who love who aren't getting the attention they deserve? Miles Davis' Kind of Blue album. I was in 7th grade when my brother gave me a cassette tape of The Best of John Coltrane's. That was the first Jazz music I've really sat down and listened to. So I went to Tower Records and started looking for some Coltrane albums. One of the employee's and I were talking about Jazz and somehow we started talking about the Miles Davis Kind of Blue album. He convinced me to get it and I fell in Love with that album 7) What is your philosophy on life that keeps your head above troubled waters when drama runs too deep? I block out the noise and stay the course. Mouths are always going to be flapping from now till the end of times. I pay it no attention. Some people want to drag you down because of their own issues in there lives. Some people want to take advantage of you for their own personal gain or whatever. Whatever the drama is, I just keep doing what I do and don't let nothing stop me from doing that. 8) What's your favorite venue to play? What's the one venue you haven't hit that's on your bucket list? I don't really have a favorite venue I play at. They're all unique in their own way and have their own vibe. But there are venues I will never play at again. I've always wanted to play at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, Village Vanguard and all of the Blue Note's across the world. 9) What question have you never been asked, but wish someone would? What the answer? Rarely does anyone ever ask me what I like to do outside of music. Well since you asked, I'll tell you. I'm a gamer....Surprised??? I collect video game systems like NES, SNES, SMS, Playstations, XBOX's, Neo Geo....etc. I have a massive amount of games. I'm very into old school style RPG's (Role Playing Games) like Final Fantasy, Zelda, Tales Of series games, Asdivine Hearts...etc. "If I'm not Play'n, I'm Play'n" 10) What question have you been asked so many times you'd rather never hear it again? (You don't have to answer that one.) None really. I'm pretty much an open book. I have no issues with questions being asked and answering them. That doesn't mean your going to like the answer. Every experience and event I've been through in my life shaped me into the man I am today. I am who I am. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 188


11) What records do you have under your belt? What project are you working on now? What's on the horizon? How do we find you online to get our hands on it/keep up with your forward motion? Right now I have the Close But No Cigar, Live at KEXP and a couple of 45's out under Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio. I'm also a part of Lucky Brown & the Funk Revolution, who has a couple of albums and 45's out, as well as Rippin Chicken that has an album out. Working on DLO3's second studio album right now and some other studio work as an independent artist under Novo Productions. You can check us out at www.dlo3music.com From there you can get to all our social media channels.

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Sash the Bash

interview by Dusty Huggins

1) Give us the rundown on each member of the band. How do the difference in music tastes color the bandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sound and identity? Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what I really love about my current lineup. We all have different backgrounds and tastes and all play in other bands that are nothing alike but what we all bring to the table makes the sound more interesting. Amy Epperley plays bass and is a badass metal chick, she is classically trained and plays in a million bands both tribute and originals, she's a real pro. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 190


Ben Davidow plays guitar and is a rock and roll shredder who I met through his band The Buzzards of Fuzz but he can also play some really beautiful folk almost Jeff Buckley style in his other project Gas Hound. Cullen Curtis is also on guitar and has a lot of different tastes which come through in his playing from psych to punk and garage. He fronts his own band too called Black Cat Rising Jay Hedberg plays drums and I love the super punk hard hitting beats he brings but he's also a guitarist which is helpful and has also played in a ton of bands, Dick Delicious and The Tasty Testicles and Luchagors to name a few. 2) What is it like to play the west coast vs. The east coast ? I lived in LA for 5 years and mainly did west coast tours with my old band Spindrift but we did play the east coast too quite a few times. They are so different it's difficult to compare, it varies from city to city. I love touring everywhere! It's great to catch up with old friends and make new ones in each city. I feel settled in Atlanta but I really do miss my friends from the west so it's kinda more fun for me over there for that reason. 3) If you could organize a music festival with 10 bands (alive or passed on), who would it include? The Doors, Brian Jones' Rolling Stones , Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Gong, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, Syd Barretts Pink Floyd, Elvis, Johnny Cash and Sash The Bash! 4) Does the band attempt to set goals for themselves each year? If so, what are some set forth for 2019? Not really, I set myself goals all the time. We are planning to release our debut single and video, tour parts of the States and maybe Europe and start working on an album! 5) What question have you never been asked that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d love a crack at? Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the answer? Would you like to sign this recording contract and get paid a shit ton of money? Answer: Yes 6) What are each of the band members reading right now? Each others minds. 7) Do any of the band members have any side projects going on? If so, what are they? I think I already answered some of that question. Amy plays in Vices of Vanity that's her other main band along with Smashing Pumpkins, Black Sabbath and ACDC tributes to name a few. I also play in Midnight Larks and recently started a dark country and murder ballads originals and covers band called The Outlaw Women Band. 8) Where can folks see you live in the coming weeks/months? Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 191


I'm taking a bit of a break for this month but will be playing The Earl on March 22nd with Mammabear and Alchemy and Star Bar on April 13th with Last Chance Riders and John Pagano band. That's all we have booked at the moment but will be playing a lot over the summer. Best thing to keep up to date is follow my instagram @sashthebash_inaflash or follow us on facebook. 9) How difficult is it being on the road so much? Are there times you consider making a different choice in profession or does it never even cross your minds? I absolutely love what I do and couldn't imagine doing anything else, but it can be tough financially. Always support your local musicians, go to live shows, buy some merch, keep us going! Now I am a mother I imagine touring will be alot harder as I'll miss my boy so much but I live for being on the road, things don't feel right when I'm stuck in the same place for too long. www. Sashthebash.com Facebook.com/sashthebash9 insta @sashthebash_inaflash

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Autism Speaks interview by Clifford Brooks

1) Autism Speaks is a much needed force in understanding an extremely misunderstood condition. What was the impetus for its creation, when did it begin, where is it going, and what is it doing differently to set it apart from other organizations? Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. Recognizing the need for a powerful voice Bernie Marcus donated $25 million to help financially launch the organization. Building upon the legacy of three leading autism organizations, Autism Coalition for Research and Education (ACRE), the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), who merged with the organization, Autism Speaks has made extraordinary advancements in the autism community. Chief among these are increased global awareness of autism, better understanding of the breadth of the autism spectrum, and advocacy to increase research and access to care and support. Today, Autism Speaks is dedicated to advancing research into causes and better treatments for autism spectrum disorders and related conditions both through direct funding and collaboration. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 193


To accomplish this, Autism Speaks will relentlessly pursue strategies that make significant progress toward the following outcomes over the next 10 years:      

A better understanding of the causes and typology of ASD Children with an autism spectrum disorder being diagnosed before the age of 2 Children having access to appropriate intervention, services and resources immediately following diagnosis The availability of better treatments both for underlying pathology as well as coexisting conditions that decrease quality of life for those with autism People with ASD and their families have transition plans that result in more independent adult life that is meaningful to the individual Individuals with ASD will have effective interventions, services and supports throughout their lifetime

These goals can only be achieved through work in communities nationwide, at the federal level and globally by working with partners, governments and other organizations. It will require an inclusive approach that values diversity and individual needs. We will work in partnership with those who share our goals, ambitions, and values. It is clear that the mission of Autism Speaks will require the organization to grow in new ways and build capacity to be a sustaining organization to accelerate progress in science and support people with autism and their families over a lifetime. This will require investment in people, infrastructure and process in order to operate as a best in class non-profit organization. 2) Autism has a broad spectrum of symptoms with those who have it. What is the best way to describe it? How can parents see it their children to know if testing is necessary? Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.* We now know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. A combination of genetic and environmental factors influence the development of autism, and autism often is accompanied by medical issues such as:   

Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders Seizures Sleep disturbances

Autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children. Many people with autism also have sensory issues. These can include aversions to certain sights, sounds and other sensations. Autism’s hallmark signs usually appear by age 2 to 3. Often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 194


* In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged four distinct autism diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They included autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. One of the most important things you can do as a parent or caregiver is to learn the early signs of autism and become familiar with the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching. What are the signs of autism? The timing and severity of autism’s early signs vary widely. Some infants show hints in their first months. In others, symptoms become obvious as late as age 2 or 3. Not all children with autism show all the signs. Many children who don’t have autism show a few. That’s why professional evaluation is crucial. The following "red flags" may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, please don’t delay in asking your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation: By 6 months  Few or no big smiles or other warm, joyful and engaging expressions.  Limited or no eye contact. By 9 months  Little or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions By 12 months  Little or no babbling  Little or no back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving  Little or no response to name. By 16 months  Very few or no words. By 24 months  Very few or no meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) At any age  Loss of previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills  Avoidance of eye contact  Persistent preference for solitude  Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings  Delayed language development  Persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia)  Resistance to minor changes in routine or surroundings  Restricted interests  Repetitive behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.) Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 195


Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors

If you have concerns, get your child screened and contact your healthcare provider. The M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers) can help you determine if a professional should evaluate your child. This simple online autism screen, available on our website, takes only a few minutes. If the answers suggest your child is at risk for autism, please consult with your child’s doctor. Likewise, if you have any other concerns about your child's development, don't wait. Speak to your doctor now about screening your child for autism. Resources Though autism spectrum disorders range from mildly to profoundly disabling, a diagnosis of ASD is an important turning point in a long journey. Autism Speaks has many resources for families whose children have recently received a diagnosis. These include Autism Speaks First Concern to Action Tool Kit and First Concern to Action Roadmap. Are you an adult or teen? Do you suspect that your feelings and behaviors involve autism? Many people who have milder forms of autism go undiagnosed until adulthood. Find out more in our guide: "Is it Autism and If So, What Next?" 3) What programs, classes, and literature do you provide, and how can people find it? Being active and known in local communities is important to Autism Speaks. Each year, staff and volunteers do hundreds of presentations to people with autism and their families, local groups, businesses and local organizations. We also work with key partners in the market on autism friendly activities or other collaborative experiences. We host Community Meetings, Town Halls, and Tele-Learning events on important topics through out the year. To find a list of upcoming events and to register visit: https://www.autismspeaks.org/community-outreach Interested in learning more about Autism Speaks resources and initiatives? Seeking to raise awareness about autism within your school or community? Connect with the Community Outreach Team for info, tools, and events! outreach@autismspeaks.org 4) What are some of the biggest misunderstandings about autism? *https://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/11-myths-about-autism I didn’t want to list all, thought maybe you might want to just pick a couple? 5) Please name a few prominent figures in our society who have autism that people may not know live extremely productive lives and careers that shape the world we live in. *we don’t have a list so not sure the lists on other sites have been vetted….we do have a fantastic ad campaign that we launched to help break some stereo types about autism https://www.autismspeaks.org/news/watch-autismis-psa Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 196


6) Who are those on your staff and what personal investment do they share to get the word out? (Please have them answer individually if possible.) Located in our Georgia Office we have four full-time staff members. Three of us are part of our Field Development Team and our primary focus is our fundraising events to fuel our organization’s mission. We work with our grassroots volunteer committees to plan and execute our three Autism Speaks Walks, Gala, and 5k. We also have a regional Director of Community Outreach who plans our programs through out the year such as Community Meetings and Town Halls on topics such as Financial Planning, Transition, Newly Diagnosed, etc. We also have a part-time regional staff member who is an Autism Response Team Associate who is part of our national Autism Response Team that is responding to the thousands of calls and emails our organization receives looking for services, resources, and supports. 7) Where are you located, how can people contact you, and how can folks donate to further your cause? Our office in Atlanta oversees Georgia and Tennessee. We can be reached at 770-451-0570 or via email at Georgia@AutismSpeaks.org We have locations and staff across the country that can be found here: https://www.autismspeaks.org/chapters The Autism Response Team (ART) is an information line for the autism community. Our team members are specially trained to provide personalized information and resources to people with autism and their families. Call our toll-free number or send us an email – we’re available between 9am and 5pm in all time zones. Your call will be routed to the team member for your region. We also have a dedicated Spanish language toll-free number. 1-888-AUTISM2 (288-4762) En Español: 1-888-772-9050 familyservices@autismspeaks.org 8) What events do you have coming up that citizens can sign up for to personally invest in Autism Speaks? We keep an events calendar which lists sensory friendly events, outreach events, and fundraising events. Visit https://www.autismspeaks.org/events to search for events in your area and to register. 9) What political or educational reform would you like to see in place to help those with autism? Autism Speaks influences policy at the state and federal government levels. To do this, we work with Congress, the White House, state legislators, agencies, and regulators. Our advocacy protects the rights, services, and supports of people with autism. Visit https://www.autismspeaks.org/our-advocacy-priorities to learn more details about our priorities. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 197


Autism Speaks Policy Areas We work on a range of policy issues that address the needs of people with autism.      

Science and Research Healthcare and Insurance Housing and Related Supports Education Employment Other Services

10) What is the philosophy behind Autism Speaks, and how was it developed? Suzanne and Bob Wright, Co-Founders In 2005, Suzanne and Bob Wright co-founded Autism Speaks, inspired by their grandson who was diagnosed with autism. Guided by the Wrights’ leadership and vision, Autism Speaks has grown into the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. The Wrights helped raise funding for groundbreaking science, effective advocacy and extensive family services, enhancing lives now and into the future. They spearheaded Autism Speaks’ signature initiatives: new federal laws ensuring financial security for people with disabilities and insurance reform for autism care; a public service campaign credited with educating countless families about the early signs of autism; World Autism Awareness Day, sanctioned by the United Nations; and the Light It Up Blue awareness campaign, now involving more than 150 countries. Mrs. Wright also helped launch the iconic blue puzzle-piece logo now recognized around the world. The co-founders’ efforts earned international recognition, including a spot in the 2008 Time 100 “Heroes and Pioneers” category for their commitment to global autism advocacy. Prior to Suzanne’s death in 2016, the Wrights had been married for 48 years and enjoyed spending time with their three children and six grandchildren.

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Matt Brumelow interview by Clifford Brooks 1) When did you decide to become a tattoo artist? How difficult was it to get started? Growing up I was always really artistic. I can remember being around four or five, and trying to draw the Ninja Turtles from my coloring books. Almost instantly I knew that mine didn’t look like the ones in the book. From that moment on, it was a quest to get better. My Turtles needed to be just as cool as the ones I was seeing. That set me on the path of being an artist. I didn’t have a lot of interaction with tattoos as a kid. I grew up in a conservative southern household where I was a bit sheltered. The only tattoos I saw growing up were old military tattoos on some of my dad’s buddies who had served. I never really paid them much attention though, because they were small and didn’t look great. That all changed in the mid 2000’s. Miami Ink was the first reality television show about tattooing to my knowledge. When I saw that show, I knew that was something I wanted to know more about. These guys weren’t doing simplified tiny designs that looked like crap, they were putting art on people. From there I started buying tattoo magazines. I couldn’t get enough of the art. I spent countless hours drawing from the pictures I was seeing - not copying them, but trying to mimic the styles. Many people in the tattoo industry don’t like that we have gone mainstream. They often blame shows like Miami Ink for things changing so much. But for me, that change is what brought me in. I think overall, it had brought in exponentially more talent than has ever existed before in tattooing. 2) What are you reading right now? Do you think there’s a novel or collection of poetry in you to pry out? My resolution this year is to read more! As of late, the only books I’ve been “reading” have been audio books. I have had two sons born in the past three years. Tattooing full time to support the family, plus helping with the kids at home has diminished my reading time. I just bought Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, which I’ve been wanting to read for years. I’m usually not a huge fan of non-fiction though. Most of the books I’ve read have been fiction novels. As a teen and young

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adult I was really into fantasy novels like Dragonlance and the Forgotten Realms books. This was also a source of artistic inspiration for me. While these were novels, and thus did not contain images, the descriptions were amazing. This led me to draw most of my favorite characters from these books. I still have some of those drawings. I’ve always thought there was a novel in me somewhere. I’ve started writing several times, with not clear intentions. Perhaps a short story, perhaps a novel. But I never finish them. I like the idea of being a writer, but I don’t know that I have the follow through for it. 3) What is the state of tattooing today? Where do you see yourself in it? Where do you hope to be in ten years? Tattooing today is great in my opinion. There are a lot of industry insiders who are bitter about where we are now. Things have changed radically and quickly in the past decade or so. With tattoo reality TV shows starting the the mid 2000’s, by 2010, it was all going mainstream. Social media only helped to make it easier to see good tattoos and find good tattoo artists. It allowed tattooers to see a constant stream of inspiration 24/7 in the palm of their hand. With that, comes also many issues. It was easier than ever to steal another artists designs. Styles that once were unique to an individual were now being mimicked all over the place. The overall quality of tattoos has been improving dramatically, but that also makes it much harder to stand out. Today you have super-artistic kids who can do world class work after only a year or two tattooing. One big reason is that information flows so freely today. In the past, tattooers would hold trade secrets very close to the chest. There was no idea of sharing your hard learned knowledge with the competition. Today, most tattooers are willing to share their bag of tricks. Many hold seminars to profit from teaching their skills to other tattooers. Ink & Dagger is without question a premier tattoo studio. The fact that I work there means that I see myself as doing well. I’m very self critical of my work. That can make it hard to have an accurate opinion. Great artists, of all mediums, tend to be their own worst critics. If you think you are the best, do you try to improve any more? So I just always try to find out what I could have done better. I can really appreciate how a piece turned out, but still see ways to improve. That idea really keeps me going as an artist. In ten years I hope to be still tattooing, but maybe tattooing less. I’d like to find some alternative means of income, so that I can not put so much wear and tear on my body. I’m 35 now, and the effects of nearly a decade spent hunched over tattooing for hours is taking its toll. I’d like to do more illustration. Early on in my life I always wanted to be a comic book illustrator. Now I think it would be a lot of fun to illustrate kids books.

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4) How does it feel to stretch out at Ink & Dagger Tattoo Parlour? How long have you been there? How long do you plan to stay? What sets it apart? Ink & Dagger is amazing! And you really can’t talk about I&D without mentioning Russ Abbott. Russ is the owner of I&D and a twenty year tattooing veteran. When I was getting into tattooing around 2010, Russ was already a huge deal in the industry. If you picked up a tattoo related magazine at the time, there was a fair chance Russ would be inside. He has built I&D into the pinnacle of a tattoo studio. From the moment you walk into the place, you can tell that someone has spent a lot of time and energy pouring over every detail inside. I’ve been at I&D for about ten awesome months now. I decided in early 2017 that it was time to make a move professionally. People had been urging me for years to get a position at I&D. Russ had even contacted me a few years prior, establishing at least a small foundation for what I hoped would turn into a job. So I drove over to I&D one day, which was only about 25 miles from my home, to see what could come of it. They invited me to do a guest-spot, which is just a temporary gig to see if I am a good fit. After a few days as a guest artist, I was offered the full time position. It’s hard to imagine leaving I&D. Even after only ten months, I can’t see myself wanting to move on to another shop. This place is such a well oiled machine designed to foster maximum potential from tattoo artists, that I plan on staying for many, many years to come. 5) What is your philosophy on tattoos, and/or life in general? Those are certainly two very different beasts. My philosophy on tattooing is based around longevity. Tattoos age more quickly than most conventional art mediums. As a tattooer, I feel it’s my responsibility to design tattoos that will age well. This means that sometimes I will turn down a tattoo if the client is stuck on an idea that will age poorly. I’d rather not do a tattoo than have a bad tattoo with my name attached to it walking around out there. In life, my philosophy is simple: Treat others how you’d like to be treated. Respect others and take each day at a time. It’s difficult to do, but living in the moment is what I strive for as well. 6) What are a few pet peeves over your industry you’d like squashed? Honestly, I have a hard time finding an answer for this. For me, at least, tattooing is in a great place. There can be a lot of cynicism about things like trendy tattoo designs. It is true that we tend to do the same popular designs over and over. While I certainly didn’t start tattooing to do repetitive designs, I also am grateful that so many people want to get tattooed. This really raises the value of what we do as a whole. With more demand, we are better compensated. I am able to raise a family and have a great life just doing tattoos. To me that’s

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incredible. If anything though, I guess it bothers me when some tattooers get upset at how the industry has changed. There is a lot of grumbling behind the scenes about how it used to be. Guys are mad that the industry as a whole is somewhat losing it’s edge. In the past, tattooing was a fairly tough bunch of people. You didn’t see suburban moms taking their two kids into the tattoo shop. Now, as it’s all become more mainstream, we have had to become more welcoming to the general public. My philosophy is to not worry about how it used to be, but to accept the current state of affairs. To worry about the past is too pointless for me. If you don’t like tattooing anymore, time to find a new career I suppose. 7) What question have you been asked so many times you never want to hear it again? What tattoo have you done so often you’d never like to avoid it from now on? The most common question is, “What’s the weirdest tattoo you’ve ever done?” And the really bizarre part is that I don’t have a good answer for it. I’ve seen and done a lot of weird stuff, but those really aren’t the ones I remember best. I remember the fun ideas where clients let me have artistic freedom. There certainly are tattoos I don’t ever want to do again, but not necessarily from repetition. I have done some mind bending geometric pattern tattoos before that I don’t ever want to do again. I’m talking about hyper technical stuff that takes hours to cover just a few square inches. That type of stuff makes me feel like a machine, in a bad way. I prefer to do more organic designs where I can make it my own. Animals and plants are my favorite subjects to tattoo. Honestly, if people want to get the same designs as everyone else. I’m fine with that. I don’t have to wear someone else’s tattoo. I just want them to understand what they are doing. Don’t come into the tattoo shop with an image you found on Google or Pinterest and think it’s original. If you found it online, I’d just about guarantee that I’ve seen it a hundred times. But again, if that’s still what you want, cool. While we all love to be artistic, putting food on the table is also a reality for tattooers. Most of us don’t have the luxury to turn down every tattoo idea we don’t like. So there is a market for repetitive tattoos, and plenty of hungry tattooers who will do them. Furthermore, while the idea of getting a trendy tattoo that is super common seems largely uncultured, tattooing started that way. The early days of tattooing were mostly repetitive flash designs, often for sailors. The foundation of American tattooing lies in doing an established set of designs over and over. So really, someone taking that same design from Pinterest is just a new way of doing the same old thing. https://www.facebook.com/BrumelowInk/ Instagram @mattbrumelow

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Nicole Merkens interview by Clifford Brooks

1) What do you remember most from childhood that sparked you need to be an artist? Art was always an escape for me ever since I could remember; I was a kid who didn’t have many friends and I would get praised in school for my art projects and win awards. I was someone who did fine in most of my subjects but I excelled in art. This feeling of “I’m good at this” and embedding my emotions into my work sparked my need to be an artist. 2) What are you reading right now? I am physically reading Circe by Madeline Miller, as well as 10 witchy books on my nightstand ( they range from how to mix up herbal baths for healing to soul coaching), and then there are my audiobooks I listen to while sculpting like “The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson and “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor and lets not forget my podcasts which are too numerous to mention. I like to mix it all up. 3) If you opened an art gallery to show the work of your top 5 favorite artists (alive or dead), who would you choose, and what of their paintings would you include? Well I had an art gallery/ studio here in Historic Roswell up until a year ago, I miss the space and the interaction with art lovers. If I was to curate a show today with living and dead artist’s work I would definitely include my recent artist muse; 1.) Yayoi Kusama’s "Infinity Mirrors” Installations. I was out in LA over the summer and had tickets for her show out there and made arrangements to take my daughter - it blew my mind. So when the exhibit came to Atlanta, I strategically planned how to get tickets the day the went on sale to expose my younger daughter and husband to this amazing show. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 207


2.)Banksy is another artist who I really admire, I’d love any piece or spray painted stencil in this dream show. His whole approach to marketing himself and making work that doesn’t last -to stick it to the man is brilliant! Since I am a clay sculptor, some contemporaries in my field that I truly get a tingle from and would love to have work from are 3.)Cristina Cordova ( a reincarnated Italian Renaissance Master- Im sure of it)her installation ”Preludios y Partidas” would be awesome to exhibit. There are two life sized figures sculpted out of clay standing on rocks suspended on the wall. She is the real deal! Another clay sculptor I would have to include would be 4.) Javier Marin- his exaggeration of the figure is both beautiful and disturbing. Let’s put his amazing figure "Mujer varillas” in the show. Last but not least, 5.) Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” - I saw this painting in Italy while I was in college and it took my breath away. 4) What is the biggest misconception about becoming a visual artist? What advice is floating around that needs to be blatantly false? That you need to be starving. The truth is; to be an artist you have to be a HARD WORKER (no lazy people in this field) willing to do anything so you can pursue your passion. I’ve worked every kind of job from waitressing to life guarding to sock designer to make money so I could feed my art. 5) What are your rituals before, during, and after working that makes inspiration and perspiration gel? Art making is very cyclical. You have to read everything you can get your hands on, watch movies, listen to music, travel. These things need to percolate in your bones before it comes out into your art. Sometimes I will see influences coming out in my work that were experienced years ago. So, I travel if I have the time and money. I take a million photos of my experience and I write down everything my inner voice whispers. After all that, before I start working, I clean my space. Now is the time I am ready to sit down and work: it just flows. I do not plan what I am going to make- I follow my gut, I never push an idea if it’s not working- I wait to tap into the universal subconscious flow and then… I lose time. I work, work work. Sometimes I forget to eat, I get mad if I am interrupted or have to stop to cater to everyday life. I make a total mess in the creative process- I leave the mess until the work is done. The work is finished, there is then the photography of the work, the social media posts, website updates, applying to exhibitions, shipping the work or exhibiting the pieces. Then you crash, you get depressed- it’s like you gave birth. You can’t go at this speed forever so- you rest, you travel, you watch movies, listen to music, read, and then you clean. Once again, you will hear that knock at the door from the muse and it starts all over again! It is amazing, it is fulfilling, it is a rush, it is satisfying, it is art. 6) Who are your favorite bands, musicians, and/or composers? Do you use music in your art? I play music all the time while I am working, my music choice changes with my mood. Growing up in the 80s- Duran Duran, The Police, U2 and Siouxsie and the Banshees were my favorite bands. Now a days I listen to Dave Matthews and mostly alternative music, Twenty-one Pilots, Panic at the Disco, The Killers, Flora Cash

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7) What question are you so sick of answering you never want to hear again? Why are your figures so sad? They aren’t sad- they are pensive! 8) What question have you always wanted to be asked, but never have? (What’s the answer?) Can I make you famous? “Yes" 9) What would you consider your “school” inasfar as how you create? I’m not old school if that’s what you’re asking- I do what works! I make sure the work is archival and finished neatly, but I will mix media until the piece tells me to stop. 10) Give us a few details on how you got started, and who/where you were trained? I went to art school in Philadelphia - The University of the Arts and graduated with a BFA in Printmaking and Book Arts. I designed socks and did freelance work until I landed a Graphic Design Job designing websites during the dot com days. I worked in graphic design up until I had my first daughter then decided my fine art couldn’t wait anymore. I began creating for myself and was then asked to do shows. Art scouts found me and asked me to join a couple of galleries. Every few years I go back to college - I even have 18 credits towards my master’s degree in Ceramics, to keep honing my skills. I’ll be a student forever. 11) What’s the best way to break into art galleries? I say email galleries that carry work like your own. Ask them if you can send them your online portfolio. 12) Where can we find you work online, and what shows do you have coming up? You can find my work online at www.nicolemerkens.com and on instagram @artgirl253. I recently started an online store while waiting for my mother to come out of surgery that’s taking up a lot of my time to get get off the ground- its a dump-all for all my art that’s different from my sculpture- my jewelry design, hand poured candles under the full moon, stories, photography, etc and that will be live in February at www.myhauntedbasement.com complete with resident “ghosts” who will also contribute. I am in Taylor Kinzel Gallery in Roswell, Ga and NewBill Collection by the Sea in Seaside, Florida. I have recently applied to a few shows and a residency but will have to wait to hear back on my next exhibition. My website will be up to date when I find out.

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Dan Larson

interview by Clifford Brooks 1) Dan, please tell us some details of your youth, teen years, and adult life that brought you to your place in Toy Galaxy. How do you find peace? Most of my free time, prior to the creation of Toy Galaxy, was spent drawing and creating comics hoping to become a professional comic book artist. Or, at the very least, hoping to be able to build enough of an audience to have a moderately successful indie book (or webcomic given the current state of the comics industry). I was able to self-publish some stuff but didn’t really have the discipline to keep the schedule. Not to mention that toiling away in isolation turned out to be a bad creative practice for me. Toy Galaxy has succeeded (and been far more fun) due to the collaboration between Producer Greg and I. For me, action figures are my peace. Always have been. Collecting them, photographing them, as a kid I would spend hours sorting them and acting out all kinds of adventures. I would have no problem running errands with my parents if it meant the potential payoff was a new action figure. 2) What are you reading? What are some of your favorite books? I don’t really read books per se. That’s not to say that I CAN’T read or don’t want to, I just don’t give myself the time. Any authors that I would point to would be comic book writers. People who have published graphic novels, that kind of stuff. I think that last book I actually read was Jurassic Park prior to the release of the film back in the 90s. These days all my reading is online doing research for videos. 3) A great deal of effort goes into your YouTube series, Toy Galaxy. Where did the inspiration come from, and who’s on the staff to pull off the polished, final product? Toy Galaxy is a two-person team: myself and Producer Greg. We were looking for a project to work on that didn’t depend on anyone else. Something we could produce on a regular basis and only have TWO schedules to coordinate. We knew we could count on each other to commit to the project. Having no one else involved meant fewer potential impediments to getting the work done. I was (and still am) passionate about action figures, Greg wanted to edit and produce a channel. We’ve been friends for a long time and already had a very good understanding of each other’s sense of humor. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 212


Once we committed to produce our first episode it was just a matter of staying on schedule and trying to get better each week. 4) Where do you see the show in five years, and what spinoffs do you anticipate? Five years? I have no idea. We’re focused on the now. Youtube is such a fickle thing that an algorithm could change tomorrow, and no one ever sees our videos again. We’re doing what we can to keep things fresh, respond to our audience, and make sure that, first and foremost, Greg and I are still having fun. Personally, I would love to take the Toy Galaxy formula and see if it works across genres. I’d love to take a stab at Cooking Galaxy, Gamer Galaxy, Literature Galaxy, whatever! 5) What are your favorite bands, and how many have you seen live? I’ve seen “Weird” Al in concert twice, Huey Lewis twice and John Williams Conducting the Boston Pops so I think that covers every great concert experience I would need to have for the rest of my life. 6) I have to ask: What are your Top 5 Toys you wish were in production (but never have been) that you could design yourself? I don’t know that I would step on the toes of the designers to be honest. I have done enough creative work to know when to step back and hire the right people to do their job if you really want the best results. I’d love to put together a figure line of my own at some point, but I would probably just be riffing on existing archetypes. There’d probably be a guy with a cool helmet and a jet pack. Somebody with a dog for a partner. Probably a pilot, a tiger character. Someone with batwings. Probably a glow in the dark bad guy and somewhere in there a translucent figure. Or two. 7) What question have you been asked so many times you never want to hear it again? We’ve covered a lot of different toy lines and shows but we still get the question “why haven’t you covered [name of line/show?”. And all I can think is: “we’re still making shows. Patience. These videos didn’t just materialize into existence simultaneously over night.” We hope to keep this thing going for many years to come and we don’t want to run out of material right here at the beginning. If there’s a show you want to see us cover, just make sure you subscribe and I can almost guarantee that we’ll cover it at some point. 8) What gigs do you have aside from host? How do we keep up with your adventures? Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 213


I don’t really have any other gigs. Toy Galaxy is everything that I want to do right now. The best place to stay current on what’s going on and what’s coming soon is just to follow both Greg and I on social media. We’re both on twitter. I’m on Instagram. We have a Patreon. If you can’t find the news from one of those sources, then it isn’t news yet. 9) What advice do you have for kids who think there’s no future in today’s world for their imagination? First I would be concerned as to how they came to that conclusion. I would hate for any kids to be in a position where they had truly come to believe that. Second I would probably empathize with them. Depending on your situation it can be very hard to HAVE dreams or goals much less be able to visualize a path to achieve them. I would encourage all kids to play as much as they can. Draw stuff. Write stuff. Have adventures with action figures. Read books, comics, anything. Learn from what you see and what you like. Learn from what makes people happy. Anything you can do to tell stories, even if it’s just to an audience of one. YOU. 10) What question have you always wanted to be asked, but never have? (What’s the answer?) I honestly have no idea what to say to that. I like to think I’ve got an answer for just about anything but that has completely stumped me.

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David Siminoff (Shmoop) interview by Clifford Brooks

1) What moment in life made you sit up and say, “I need to do more for education?” Did your own experiences as a student play a role in your current life’s mission? My kids asked me to explain a few assignments they'd received in school. I reviewed their materials they were unfathomable. Impossible to understand for then 10 and 7 year olds. So I set out to make learning ... easier. 2) Shmoop is an interactive, online, funny, comprehensive force in the classroom. When did it start and what subjects does it cover? I wrote the first 50 lit guides.... making learning about complex literary issues.. fun and funny and easier. We posted them online and had a million uniques 90 days later. We evolved from 500 more lit guides to test prep, history, biology, chemistry, careers, and then everything video. 3) Where did the name “Shmoop” come from, and what does it mean? https://www.shmoop.com/video/what-is-shmoop/ 4) What is the business and educational philosophies that keep Shmoop on track? "Build products people love to use."

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5) Who creates the content for your various classes, are you looking for more writers to help create it, and if so, how do people contact you with resumes? I manage nearly all of the content production but we hire Phds or other scholars in the key areas. We are inundated with writers who want to write for us so we don't do outreach other than for a few specialty areas - current focus is finance where we do recruit. Apply@shmoop.com is best address. 6) Where do you see Shmoop in 5, 10, and 50 years? Older. Wiser. :) 7) Have you ever (I’m being serious) thought of expanding your material to college students; a “Shmoop University.” Not sure what you mean - we have over 400 courses now with 60+ ACE approved for credit college courses on site and a ton more in finance coming. 8) Please tell us about yourself. So often focus stays on the brand name and not on the people. What are you reading right now? What other creative projects are in front of you? What are some of your favorite bands? For a while, our maniacal focus is finance. The literature on the subject is generally ungodly boring save for a few must-reads like Buffett's annual from BerkshireHathaway. We're building a 15,000 word glossary with much video in it, along with a virtual "MBA" suite of products for smart high school and college students as well. Favorite brand is MP. 9) Do you have any staff members available to answer the moving parts in question #8 to fill out the face of Shmoop? Yes - Ellen@Shmoop.com 10) How can people find Shmoop online, familiarize themselves on what you have now, and keep up with what you have rolling off the assembly line? Everything starts at www.shmoop.com - if it's not easy to find our shizzel, we've failed the product test. 11) How can people help the mission of Shmoop by purchasing products, donations, or word of mouth? I'd argue that one of the best values in all education is the $25/ month you'd pay for virtually all of the SHmoop premium products - give us a shot!

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The Woodbridge Inn: A Treasure Regained by Clifford Brooks & Carolyn Wilding Kelso

When I was allowed access to the Woodbridge Inn and restaurant throughout May of this year to finish work for my graduate program, I felt like a man blessed beyond words. The Woodbridge Inn, located in downtown Jasper, has been an easy drive from Atlanta since 1976. Lately, it feels like some folks have forgotten this treasure. In 1993 I worked there while in high school. I saw people wait in line for an hour just to get in, and the hotel rooms constantly full. As an employee, I got to sit with the Ruefferts and staff after closing to share a meal as a family. Today, there is an increase in patrons, but I’d like to see more. Unless there is a wedding or other significant event in town, the rooms sit without guests. As a poet, and a man with roots deep in this area, I would feel remiss if I didn’t appeal to all to see about the new roomand-food offers by the Woodbridge Inn. The gourmet flair from the kitchen has been updated, and the rooms offer either a quiet shade or stunning view. The Narnialike grounds provide a welcome respite for even the most downtrodden or careworn souls. Dwight and Harmony Henderson, won’t let you feel that way for long. While there this past May, I stayed in room 9. That’s my personal favorite. People think I exaggerate when I say that the third-floor guest rooms, like 9, contain a spiraling staircase leading to a picturesque view of the Blue Ridge Mountains that will make your jaw drop. Yet, it’s true. Once the door to the room closes behind you, no matter what floor you’re on, the whole, chaotic cosmos outside is silenced. From the front door to the balcony, you are a king or queen of the castle. I wrote my new book and found rejuvenation within that bubble of clean quiet. The love of my life first kissed me within those walls. I sit in my own home now aching to relive those four weeks too long past. The solitude is as limited as you desire. I held the position of maître de on Mother’s Day. I was fortunate to relive a moment from my youth and celebrate my patient Momma. Over 200 people filed in that day, breathing life back into a place well-worth the respect. Today, steak is cooked-to-order in a Green Egg by the gentle, bear-of-a-man, Dwight Henderson. His wife, Harmony, greets everyone at the door with a brilliant smile. Both of them are steadfast in their plan to attract more artists, host live music, and offer a cold beer or warm Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 217


meal to guests. Recently, the Woodbridge Inn team decided to provide select, local artists a place to sell their wares whether they’re paintings, songs, or books. The Hendersons are renovating the hotel rooms with walls ready for selected artwork. There are pending plans to enhance the gorgeous landscape behind the inn with an amphitheater as well as a wedding venue. Call the Woodbridge Inn and ask for the special room-and-food rates. If you’re an artist, you will not have a spot better than this to see others not only enjoy the art you’ve bled for but possibly buy it as well. The art world is but as small as the artist’s aspirations. The Woodbridge Inn wants to see the horizons open for those like Dwight Henderson who have both hands in the philosophy of practical creativity and those who simply enjoy the view. Whether you are a creator or a creative spirit with the need to add fresh color to your mind space – contact the Woodbridge Inn at (706) 253-8500.

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Brian Cain of The Oak House interview by Clifford Brooks

1) Before we launch into the Oak House, proper, let's get into your faith: Where do you call home? Where did you grow up? What are you praying for? Where do you hope to be in ten years? I was born in Upstate New York but Canton, GA is my home. I moved here in January of 1993, when I was 11 years old to live with my father after my parents divorced. I’ve been in and around Canton ever since (excluding my time in the Marine Corps and a short stint in Chattanooga). Lately, I have been praying for God to show me what my role is in His Kingdom. I’ve been praying for him to give me a group of people to minister to. In 10 years, I hope to be closing in on being an empty-nester and moving on to whatever God has in store for my family during that season. 2) What are you reading right now? Who is your favorite author? Who is your top 5 poets? Do you write? Right now, I am reading anything I think will blow my hair back. Hugh Halter and a lot of the Missional Church Movement folks are rocking my world with their writings these days. I have been following their stuff for about a decade now and it has really shaped the way I view people. My favorite author is a tough one to nail down. It depends on the genre. Top 5 poets have to be Lemon Andersen, Jason Petty (Propaganda), Edgar Allen Poe, Clifford Brooks III, and Henry David Thoreau (in no particular order). I write very occasionally. I am rediscovering parts of my soul I long thought to be gone. 3) To captain the ship of The Oak House, I imagine you have to keep things from getting too rowdy, have the skill to make all coffee drinks - well, and be able to understand the arts as well as how to run numbers. What makes you the best fit for this - as I know you to be? I spent a long time learning the skills required to do all those tasks. Mostly what give me the ability to succeed in the chaos of it all is my ability to make order out of immense chaos. It is a learned and practiced trail from years in Law Enforcement. 4) How did the Oak House come about? To whom is it affiliated? Where is it located, what are the hours, and how can people find it online? The Oak House came about, on paper anyhow, about 7 years ago when a friend and I dreamt up a crazy business plan to buy a building, rent it to a church to cover the mortgage, and lease out space to other businesses. The term “co-working space” wasn’t in popular vernacular at the time so we didn’t Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 219


know what to call it. Fast forward 6 years, I heard my Pastor, Will Goodwin, get up on stage and talk about his vision to do something VERY similar. The Oak House is a ministry of Oak Leaf Church. I am on staff at Oak Leaf Church and my ministry is The Oak House. We are at 151 East Marietta Street (right across from Downtown Kitchen) in Canton, GA. Our coffee house and co-working space is open Monday - Friday, 8 - 5. We can be found at http://theoakhouse.com and @oakhousecanton on all the social media sites. 5) What is the Oak House? It takes an idea usually found in cities and elegantly brings the same professionalism to Canton, Georgia. How do you see it growing? What exciting events do you have coming in the near future? The Oak House is a private coworking space with a public coffee house. All we did was find a need in the city and transformed our building to meet that need. Our growth will come with additional members and more events. The events are always evolving so the best way to keep up with what is happening is to be on our email list and follow us on the social sites. 6) What is your favorite book of the Bible, and why? My favorite book of the Bible is the Book of Acts because it gives us the final instructions of how we are supposed to represent Jesus to the world. 7) What do you dream about? Right now, my dreams are about scaling The Oak House and freeing up my time. 8) If you could have a salon at the Oak House, who would it include (alive or dead)? Same questions and parameters for a music festival. I will limit myself to 5 each. C.S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, Andrew Carnegie, Charles Schwab, and Francis Chan. Music Festival: I wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want anyone I could recall from memory. I would want it to be a whole new exposure to what is possible. They would all have to be innovators in music. 9) What sets the Oak House apart from other businesses that try to be like it? We are very unique in that we look at everything we do through the lens of the Gospel. We are trying to represent Jesus to people in our community by providing a very tangible service. That is a rarity. 10) What new avenues would you like to see the Oak House getting into as the years come and go? I would like to see us focus a lot more on events in 2019. That seems to be what brings folks the most happiness. I would love to host community dinners and weekend lunches as well.

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Matt Busby of The Camp House interview by Clifford Brooks

1) What was the impetus behind the creation of the Camp House? The space is impressive, and the artists you've had over the years have never failed to impress. Has your original philosophy changed over the years, or has keeping it the same been the secret of your success? The Camp House began back in 2010 when a bunch of folks from Connecticut decided to plant a church in Chattanooga. The impetus was that Chris Sorensen, the founding pastor of Mission Chattanooga, wanting to plant in a downtown neighborhood but didn’t want the space to sit empty six days a week but wanted it to be a part of the life of the community throughout the week. So while we host three church services every Sunday, the rest of the week we are able to serve Chattanooga by being a coffee shop and a venue that stewards the common good of our city through hospitality, culture, and education. And that has really been the philosophy behind The Camp House from day one. So while I would say it hasn’t changed, it has certainly expanded. At first we were really only focused on being a coffee shop and a third space in our community where people could meet, work, and form relationships. But early on we began asking how else the space could be used, exploring the latent possibilities in a space that was already equipped with sound, lighting and seating. So very early on we began booking concerts eventually looking for other niche opportunities to contribute to the culture of the city. Now we host regular lecture series, such as Theology on Tap and CIVIQ with the Chattanooga Design Studio, to an annual fly fishing film festival with the local chapter of Trout Unlimited. If there is a secret to our success I really believe its wrapped up in our philosophy of stewarding and contributing to the common good of our city because that is really an inclusive vision and it has driven us to make relationships across every sector of our community. 2) Where does the Camp House fit in on the Chattanooga art scene? That’s a good question and, to be honest, I’d rather the artists and musicians of Chattanooga answer that question! But if I had to say it would be that we are a jack-of-all-trades sort of venue. We do just about everything from concerts and film screenings to lectures and non-profit fundraisers. I also will work with just about anyone and I think that is really different from a lot of other venues. So if someone comes to us with an event idea we will really try to help them try out their idea. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t but we really want to help cultivate culture in Chattanooga and that means giving artists, musicians, and promoters a chance. 3) Who are some of your favorite poets and musical acts you've had over the years? Oh man, eight years of doing shows thats a lot of folks to pick from… As far as poets, two of my favorite locals that we have worked with is Christian Collier and Erika Roberts and then on a more regional and national level we recently had Propaganda on the stage who is a fantastic spoken word artist. And then music wise we have worked with so many great local artists and bands: singer/songwriters Anthony Quails & Noah Collins; hip hop artists C-Grimey, J Flo, & Seaux Chill; and great local bands like Slim Pickins and Summer Dregs. And then

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finally my favorite artist that I have booked is David Ramirez and then probably my favorite concert was when we hosted The Hamiltones with Harlan Breaux who is a local promoter here in Chattanooga. 4) If you could put together the dream CH festival from artists alive or dead, what would the ten acts look like? Oh man, this is way too broad! For the sake of narrowing it down, lets make it a dream AmericanaFest line up. In no particular order: 1) Leon Bridges 2) David Ramirez 3) St. Paul & the Broken Bones 4) Shovels & Rope 5) Needtobreathe 6) Alabama Shakes 7) Carolina Chocolate Drops 8) Fantastic Negrito 9) The Lone Bellow 10) The War and Treaty Totally making this exact playlist now! 5) I understand you're moving locations. What is the reason behind that decision, and where are you planning to go? We are on the move once again! Since we began in 2010 we have been operating on traditional five year commercial leases. This year are lease is up and so last year we began the process to see what another five years would look like. However, after that process there wasn’t really a scenario where our church side, Mission Chattanooga, didn’t outgrow the space in the next two to three years. So like most churches we put together a committee! In the process of looking for a new location it became clear very early on that there was an appetite to purchase, to find a permanent home so we wouldn’t be in the same spot in another five or ten years. As you can imagine that began to shift our focus and we got in touch with Infill Communities, a developer who had purchased a 90,000 square foot warehouse on 12th Street. After months of negotiations we were able to purchase 24,000 square feet, which is way more space than we currently need! So part of what we are excited about is a place that we can actually grow into over the next decade. In our new location, which we will move into at the end of 2019, we will still maintain the church, The Camp House, and all that that entails - including the coffee shop and venue space. 6) How does social media play into the advertising model of the Camp House? Well being a business that is owned by a non-profit you don’t really have much of a marketing budget! So from the very beginning we invested a lot of time building all of our social channels - Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram - because we knew that was a strategy that we would allow us to reach people in a very organic way. Now we have brought on a strategist, Maggie Tate, specifically to operate those channels to make sure we are leveraging our online community to help steward the common good in Chattanooga.

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7) Have you ever thought about having a regular podcast set in your establishment? If so, how can we find it? If not, how can people submit ideas to start one? So we do have a podcast! But its not set up in The Camp House. Our Chattanooga Public Library has an amazing studio and I usually record it there. The podcast is just called â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Camp Houseâ&#x20AC;? and you can find it on any podcast platform. The content of the podcast is to help connect, inform, and inspire people about what it happening in their community. As a coffee shop, The Camp House is a really popular place to have meetings and over the years we have really gotten to know so many people from across sectors in Chattanooga. So that, combined with all of the social and cultural events we host, it became a really natural step to create a podcast that would help inform folks about what is happening in their community. 8) Your logo is on-point. Who came up with it, and is there a hidden meaning behind it? Oh wow, thanks! Yeah the logo was created by Michelle DeVilliers, who is both an incredible designer and one of the founders of Mission Chattanooga. The logo itself is based on an ancient coin. Historically third spaces were the marketplaces, piazzas, and plazas of a city - those places that were so central to fostering community and culture. These places were also often found in and around the church of a local community. So the logo of The Camp House is modeled after an ancient coin that would have been used in these ancient spaces, operating at the intersection of commerce and culture. 9) Where do you see the Camp House in ten years, and what new additions to your lineup of activities can we look forward to in the new location? In ten years I am excited to still be in the same location! One of the aspects of being able to purchase our new home that we are excited about is the ability to have a long term commitment to a neighborhood. So it will be nice to have a rootedness where we can really be a part of a growing district. Another part I am excited about is that we will have a nice outdoor plaza space where we can host all kinds of events. In theory we will be able to host a festival in the new space with a couple of different indoor stages and an outdoor stage! But really we are just excited to be moving into a space where we can grow over the long haul and keep doing all we can to steward the common good here in Chattanooga.

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Gary Lamb of BBQ & Brews interview by Clifford Brooks

1) Before we dive into BBQ & Brews, give us some background on you. Where did you grow up? What do you do to relax? What is your connection to Cherokee County? I grew up in Dacula, Ga. For the last 20 years, I have started several churches from Iowa to Canton. On the side I always promoted events (concerts, 5k runs, community fairs, etc.). I moved to Canton about 15 years ago to start a church and just fell in love with the area and never left. I’m probably not the person to respond to what I do to relax because I don’t. At 42, I’m starting to learn to finally slow down and enjoy life. I enjoy time with my wife, hanging out with my kids, and I’m starting to learn that I can enjoy things without turning it into a business. 2) What fueled your love of barbecue, not stopping with a restaurant, but organizing whole festivals? Honestly, I was going through a very stressful time in my life and someone told me that I needed to learn to just chill and do something that took discipline. I wasn’t sleeping much at the time so he suggested I get a smoker and stay up all night smoking meats. I was at the end of my rope so It tried it. There is something therapeutic about tending to a fire all night. watching it burn, prepping meat, creating spices and creating something that people will sit down and enjoy hours later. The more I did it, the more I fell in love with it but I’m wired in a way that I wanted to give opportunities to the amazing people I started to meet in the BBQ craft. I was never going to set the world on fire with my BBQ but I knew I could create an event that highlighted great BBQ, gave opportunities to those getting started in the craft and I knew I could do it well. As I started thinking about it, I realized there was nothing like that in our area (Canton) so I hosted our first BBQ and Brews in Canton in 2016. I thought a natural partnership to BBQ was great beer so BBQ and Brews was born. It was a great success and opened up other doors in other city’s. We have hosted them all over North Georgia and people seem to love them. 3) What are some of your favorite events you've organized thus far? The first BBQ and Brews was my favorite. It was raw, we didn’t know what we were doing, the community rallied around it and it was incredible. I always like going to new towns for the first time. Currently I got an itch to start a wrestling promotion (yea, I know….) and started Southern Honor Wrestling in October of 2018. We host a show the first Friday of the month in Canton and it has exploded. We are probably the largest show in the state and we have people coming from all over the southeast to watch our shows. It has been a blast. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 224


4) Tell us a few of your pet peeves that crop up in your industry. Egos. I deal with about 125 vendors (food, retail, etc) at every show. Everyone looks at for #1 (I get itâ&#x20AC;Ś) but the donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t look at the bigger picture. If they would realize we are all on the same team and if we all work together, we can put on bigger events that help everyone succeed. Another thing would be dealing the different regulations and zonings in every different city. It can get crazy. 5) If you could create an event with musicians are solo artists (alive or dead) who would the top 5 be to play at your dream festival? That was in a hard one because it would depend on the type of festival LOL. I love anything from Guns & Roses to the Grateful Dead. Both are very different and would depend on what we are trying to create.

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G Brand Barbeque interview by Clifford Brooks

1) What’s the seed behind the creation of your establishment, what’s the meaning of your name, and when did you first open your doors? The G we use in our restaurant name comes from both the Registered Angus Cattle business we have the “G”. Our inspiration for the restaurant came from a family meeting where we were discussing different businesses that we would see as enjoyable, profitable, and needed in our county. 2) What sets you apart from other barbecue restaurants? We are very different from other BBQ restaurants in that we offer the highest quality meats available in beef (High Choice or Prime), Pork, and Chicken. Our meats are always fresh and never frozen. Having raised all three (Cattle, Hogs, and Chickens) we feel like we have an advantage in knowing how and what to buy when it comes to quality and end product merit! The history of our building “The Great Brooks Motor Company” building is classy and unique! And our 1 red light town only 12 miles from east Athens is very special! 3) You set up shop in a unique location. Why did you choose it, and what can you tell us about it? The rich history of the huge building is a tribute to the former family that owned the building! The building was built by the Ford Motor Co. in 1906 and later purchased by the Brooks family in 1925. The Brooks family changed the building to a Chevrolet dealership, and it was in business for three generations until our purchase in December of 2017. Renovations took several months with input from archatects, the county and city, and the Gretsch Family. We really wanted to maintain the look and feel of the old time dealership with the warmth and comfort of a classy and clean restaurant with plenty of space. 4) You’re born from, and are, a music family of entrepreneurs. Are you going to have live entertainment, and if so, what acts do you have on deck? Our family is very proud of our heritage as well. The Gretsch Company has been producing musical instruments since 1983 and we are still very vibrant and active in instrument production and music affiliations. We held our second Saturday lunch concert this past Saturday. It was a huge success with Todd Taylor and Mike Moody playing for a packed house! The crowd was very engaging and the music was top notch with these “A” list performers. We will slowly increase the music performances and hope this is a very community enriching events. 5) What is your business philosophy, and is it influenced by your life in music? Our business philosophy is simple “To enrich lives through great quality food, service, and a compliment of musical entertainment.”

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6) What are some of yours, and the public’s, favorite dishes? So what’s your favorite dish is often asked by our customers… We love our ribs!!! Both St. Louis and Baby back ribs! They are the best that I have ever eaten…and most customers agree! Our Beef Brisket ranks right up there with the ribs! It’s moist and tender. Well flavored and not overcooked! As important as the protein are the delicious sides! Fresh green beans, sweet potatoes, corn on the cobb in season, very tasty baked beans, out of this world slaw, and most often confused as a main dish…the stew! And if you have enough restrain to save room for desert, we can check off that box! 7) What do you want people to feel and walk away from after dining with you? We want people to walk away saying “I can’t wait to come back and try the other items!” Anne and I are most thankful for our great customers! People that travel long distances to come visit us on a regular basis! 8) Where do you see yourselves and the restaurant in ten years? 10 years from now I hope we can look back and say “Wow how much this thing has grown! We can’t wait for the next 10 years!” 9) What new features do you have planned to add to your location in the near (and far) futures? We have a lot planned for the business and the building in the not too distant future! We have great room for an event space in the back of the building. We look forward to slowly increasing the retail portion of the business in the front “show room” and possibly on the internet. Our community is starved for great event space in a practical fun safe and clean setting! 10) You are in the heart of Dawg Nation. How has the University of Georgia influence you as a family and professionally? With UGA only 12 miles away we haven’t begun to tap the potential to service portions of their catering needs in addition to using them to provide labor and increase customers from their students, faculty, and staff! Go Dawgs!

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Hunt Brumby

interview by Clifford Brooks 1) Give us the skinny, and morbidly obese, on your life and times. You and I have talked for hours, or I have talked like a machine gun while you suffered to listen, but what you were able to say piqued my interest - big time. Yours is a story worth the telling. Well I grew up in the small Appalachian town of Murphy NC. I always joke that if the South is the Bible belt then Murphy is the belt buckle. I left Murphy in 1997 to join the Marines and see the world. My military career would take me all over including Iraq in 2003. After the military I just kind of floated around from Germany to California living out of a suit case and where ever I felt like stopping for a small period of time. I believe this to be a crucial piece to my story telling career. Story tellers are collectors and we take from all the people we meet along the way. 2) As one of the veterans we're lucky to call our own, how does your military history play into your art? I draw on this a lot. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s usually approached in a dark yet humorous manner. The military is made up of unique individuals and everyone has a story. I spent my time listening and collecting. The key is to recall and tell the stories honestly. I believe the subject of the military is interesting to people because so many never served. They crave an honest recollection of it. Not just the bang bang of gun fire either, but how did a guy from Murphy get along with a guy from the Bronx? I also suffer from PTSD. My little gift I brought home from Iraq. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s because of this I believe I have a unique voice for storytelling. My emotions can swing so fast in a story. My mouth may be telling one story but if you look at my eyes you can see a completely different narrative being told. 3) What I noticed first about your art is how natural storytelling comes to you as you own the crowd onstage. How does your oral tradition play out on the page. What is the difference between your onstage presence and that of the novelist? To be honest I still struggle transferring my stories from the stage to the page. I am growing as an author but thrive as a story teller. To read my work is a different world from hearing me perform it. Think of a great song; now imagine you just read the lyrics never having heard the music. While

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you may be impressed with the words something would be missing. Same is true for my storytelling. I have a rhythm and timing to my stories that needs to be seen live. 4) Who are your literary heroes? Neil Gaimen is my constant. His voice is amazing and ability to mix darkness with humor, well I can relate. 5) What question are you sick of answering and why? Did that hurt? The facial tattoo is a unwanted conversation starter sometimes. I do nt care about the dolphin on the small of your back Debbie. 6) Tell us about your tattoos. Many, as I do, get them to act as totems or marks to ward off bad memories. Tell us what gets under your skin to get ink atop it. Just like I collect stories, I also collect memories in ink. I have my face and head as well as about 80 percent of my body inked. For me it acts as a suite of armor. I sometimes like to close myself off to the world and can be hard to get to know. The tattoos help with the fake people who canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t look past them to get to know me. 7) What are you reading right now? What are some literary projects you have cooking? I am re visiting Good Omens by Neil Gaimen getting ready for the TV series. As for me I am looking to do a vinyl collection of my stories. It will chronicle my time in the military from the day I joined to Iraq. Funny and dark stuff, I promise. 8) What is your personal philosophy on life? Spread as much love as hard as I can. PTSD took that away from me for a long time. 9) What means the most to you? My wife, she is my world and savior. When a piece of me breaks she mends me and when I forget how to love she reminds me. 10) What role do you wish to play in the Southern Collective Experience, and what does the family mean to you? I hope to add a unique voice. I hope to be an energy others can grow their artistic abilities with. Also I hope to grow as an author. I want to expand from just storytelling to more of the written page. I want to grow my poetic abilities. I am interested in poetry and we have some of the best in the collective. Mixcloud | https://www.mixcloud.com/rabbitbox/rb17-haunted-hunt-brumby/

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Kathy L. Murphy interview by Clifford Brooks

1) I am sure you’ve been asked how a hair dresser got into reading (or some other, offensive thereof), so let’s not do that. Hair salons and barbershops have long been the hotbeds of uncensored tall tales, political debates, theological discussions, and maybe (a little) gossip: But that’s also the precious mix for a novel worth reading. My first question: When can we expect to read the Kathy L Murphy biography that outlines just how incredible this Pulpwood Queens organization was, is, and will be? My first book, "The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life'" by Kathy L. Murphy newest 3rd edition is out and tells pretty much my story on how books saved me and why my whole life has been about promoting authors, books, literacy, and reading even before I ever opened the first Hair Salon/Book Store in the country Beauty and the Book. All my life I wanted to be an artist. I was first a book nerd and nature girl because of my teachers who first drew me into the imaginative world of make believe by first reading books out loud to our class. Each day after lunch and recess to get us to calm down so we could get back to studying, they would read a chapter of say a "Little House on the Prairie" book. I read the books too but never dreamed someone like me could grow up to be an author or make a living in books. I have been on that discovery journey my whole life. I became a hairdresser after two years in college as I needed a way to fund myself the rest of the way through school as I had two sisters starting college right behind me. I went with my college roommate andwatched a student at a cosmetology school cut her hair and thought it was basically an art form. I took a year off to go to beauty school. So my career as a cosmetologist was a detour from my path to a goal my ultimate goal but it too was means to an end to get the art degree. It just took me way longer than I thought, 43 years to be exact as I married, had two daughters that education took a higher priority than my own. I finally recently went back to college after my divorce and father's death to graduate December 2017 Magna Cum Laude from The University of Texas in Tyler with a B.F.A in Fine Arts, minor in Art History. The next book I am working on is the continuation of my story called, "The PUlpwood Queen Goes Back to School" both literally and figuratively which hopefully will be released for our 20th Anniversary of our Pulpwood Queen Book Club Convention that we call Girlfriend Weekend! So read the first book and then you will soon be able to read the second. All my books are really just the tinder to the fire to get everybody around our bonfire of book reading! 2) What’s the story behind the spark that is now the literacy firestorm Pulpwood Queens is today? What are a few facts most don’t know? Most people think that all I do is run my Pulpwood Queens 765+ chapter book club. Granted it does take up an extraordinary amount of my time. Currently, I am also am working on the next book, and Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 230


now a full-time artist. There has never been a time in my life when I did not juggle multiple jobs to support the things I am truly passionate about which is promoting authors, books, literacy, reading, and all forms of the arts. You can read all about it in my book but I have been a Girl Scout Leader, active in community theater, a gung ho member of Rotary International, and most of my adult life been a youth leader/director at the churches I have been a member. I also love to travel and consider myself a lifelong learner so now planning on going back to college to perhaps get a second degree in either geology or forestry as I am a big camper and love to be out in nature, it is my medicine. 3) Growing up, what do you remember fondly? What do you miss the most? What homestead calls to you most often? Freedom first comes to mind as my sisters and I lived outdoors in our neighborhoods and nature. I was big into Girl Scouts. We camped, hiked, took bike rides, went on train trips with the whole troop, we all went creeking, fishing, and crafts to earn those badges. At home my mother booted us out of the door first thing in the morning with the screen door banging to only come home at dark when my mother rang this big old school bell calling us home. My happiest memories were "Outhome". This is what we called my Grandmother Helen and Dyke Maloney's place. We use to call them Mudd and Dirt, Mudder, then Mudd for short and somehow Dyke which was his nickname changed to Dirt. This was my mother's parents who lived about 9 miles out on an oil lease house in the Flinthills of southeast Kansas near my hometown of Eureka, Kansas. Riding the range feeding cattle, collecting eggs and feeding the chickens, watching out for rattlesnakes, tending the garden, Mudd and Dirt always made simple tasks seem so much fun. All that home cooking from half dollar size pancakes with Blackburn Butter Pecan Syrup, three types of meat, jams & jellies for breakfast was routine and what we lived for. Dinner was the big meal of the day with pork chops, fried chicken, to chicken fried steak with gravy, mashed potatoes, homemade rolls or biscuits and alway jars and jars of homemade preserves and fruits. We feasted inbetween on handpicked strawberries, tomatoes, plums, pears, berries, and apples. It's a wonder we never got killed as we were real daredevils back then and always doing crazy stuff like jumping from the barn to a gravel pit below, to swimming in the ponds, to building tunnels in the hay bales in the barns, to catching all kind of critters to riding on the tailgate of my grandpa's pickup truck going down those gravel roads it seemed ninety miles an hour. These were the best times of all and did we have the weather. From thunderstorms to tornadoes, we were always running for shelter in the storms. I would not have had it any other way and the children today will never have the freedom as we did back then probably ever again. Our imaginations drove all our adventures, we were very much like the ever popular "Little Rascals" television program from back in the day planning an adventure with all our friends, our pets involved and in tow on all our misadventures. 4) What is your philosophy for a healthy life? Nature is my medicine for mind, body, and spirit. I live in the woods and surrounded with all kinds of wild animals, love it. Get out in nature and avoid medicine like the plague. Don't sit when you can stand and keep moving. Being active and eating good healthy home prepared meals is the ticket to a healthy life. My former bookseller best friend, the late great Fred McKenzie, who died after turning 90, not of old age but an aneurism. He always told me, "When you stop, you drop." So I go at life like the Energizer bunny and a "house on fire", full out because you sleep when you die! Surround yourself Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 231


in nature and have pets and love them. Nothing teaches you more about love than a pet and I have had cats, dogs, hamsters, hermit crabs, fish, frogs, horned toads, lizards and even a squirrel once. Loved them all but they taught me more than some people ever could about unconditional love and loss, the circle of life my friends. 5) What stereotypes about the South and Southerners would you like to see erased from the face of the earth? Why do you think they still exist, and why using them in public is so socially acceptable? First of all, I am not really a southerner, everybody thinks so because I have lived here since 1987. I am from Eureka, Kansas which is the midwest. Second, I am a hairdresser and now a southern hairdresser that has probably the worst stereotypes as all, especially being blonde. I literally have had hair every color of the rainbow. I also know from working with both barbers and hairdressers that most are really big readers. Many come from the school of hard knocks and are a better judge of a person's character than anyone I know. Do not judge a book by its cover. One New York radio station that interviewed me kept telling me "dumb blonde" jokes. I bit y tongue. Then he asked me if I was chewing bubble gum. I almost lost it and then he even wondered how high my hair was teased. He said, "I can hear the hairdryer running right now, hahahaha!" Let me tell you this advice, I follow Dolly Parton's lead as she has always said, "First of all I am not dumb, nor even blonde." which I told him and then I advised him he better come on down and see for himself. He quickly cut off the radio interview. My life's mission too is to change everyone's views of southern stereotypes. I also find it highly entertaining to know that the largest "meeting and discussing" book club started in the south, not New York City and in East Texas no less, Jefferson, Texas to be specific. That I believe is newsworthy. I do not live in a trailer and have all my teeth but there is nothing wrong with living in a trailer or losing all your teeth. What matters is that you are kind, work to help others, and are a decent person. Pay it forward and instead of making fun of others, bring joy and offer a big hand up to other people in life. I have always believed you should be proud of whatever work you do in life because people who serve others make our lives so much easier. Remember that the next time you see someone dig a ditch, or pick up your trash, or wait, serve, then clean your table. What would you do without that person waiting on you not to mention what would you do without hairdresser? Most people forget about that part. Stereotypes exist because it is easier for people to process other people when they label you and put you in a box, then they can make assumptions about you based on that box. Growing up in Kansas I was the odd child there too because my head was so in the clouds that I literally studied clouds and remember making lists of all the types from cumulus to stratus, dating the days that I would view a particular type gleaned from the picture identification pages in my encyclopedia sets and dictionaries that were never far from my reach. I eventually moved out to Calfornia and remember my first day on the job as the counter manager for Elizabeth Arden at May Company, the woman of a tourist couple commanded of her husband, "Get out your camera, I want to get a photo of this real California girl." I never said a word about just getting there from Kansas as it would have burst her stereotypical bubble. It is hard for people to wrap around their head that you can be more than one thing. Since I juggle many balls in this circus that I call my life, it is so much easier to go she's a southern Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 232


hairdresser, and all those stereotypes dragging on into each decade with that load to bear. I have also always said how you treat others tells people more about them than you. Remember that and move on forward. 6) Where do you see the Pulpwood Queens in ten years? Oh, honey, I hope that I am still running the "greatest book show on earth", perhaps with a cane or on a walker but I can guarantee you it will be blinged out in all our signature hot pink, leopard print Pulpwood Queen glory. I do not make any plans to retire nor do my grown children want to step up to the Pulpwood plate other than to support me in my endeavors. I am all in so hopefully, the book to film deal I made originally with DreamWorks will come into fruition. Still talking to those Hollywood folks who make perhaps might make a Pulpwood Queen Book Club Netflix or Amazon Prime series happen. Hopefully, I can talk somebody like my inspiration, actor, Jason Momoa push my wheelchair on the red or should I say hot pink and leopard print carpet at the film premiere. I mean a girl no matter how old can dream, right? So like Dolly Parton, "DREAM BIG!" I know I will have at least one grandchild that will be born this coming March so hopefully, that next generation of "chip off the old Pulpwood block" might have an inkling for the bright lights, big city ways of our book clubs dream of putting great books in the hands of great readers. Who knows? But I am convinced that success in life comes to those who work hard and never give up. I will never give up as long as I live and breathe on this planet we call Earth. Yes, I am stubborn to a fault. 7) How can people find, join, or even create their own chapters of Pulpwood Queens? It is so easy, go to our Official website, read all the pages and Click Membership on the top menu bar to join. If you still have any questions email me at thepulpwoodqueen@gmail.com and we can arrange a teleconference. I will help you every step of the way. Welcome to the Wonderful World of The Pulpwood Queens and yes, Timber Guys, all are welcome to join our inclusive book club. 8) What books have you written, are writing, or will write in the future? How can we find them? All are mentioned in the first question and available through amazon.com or you can order from your favorite bookstore. I know The Jefferson General Store in Jefferson, Texas, The Bosslight Book Store in Nacogdoches, Texas and Decorate Ornate in Gladewater, Texas carry them for sure and all those businesses are on Facebook! 9) What are you reading and what music are you listening to? Being a child of the '70s, I lean heavily on The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and the music of the time but I truly love all music from country/bluegrass to opera and everywhere in between. I love the music of Harry Connick, Jr., K.D.Laing, Loretta Lynn, Elvis Presley, to good old southern blues but in the car you might hear me singing to The B-52's to Broadway musicals. I love it all. The latest musical artists I could listen to forever are Feng E, a child ukelele genius, The Hu, which is a Mongolian rock band, and love the amazing Russian singer, Olena.

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10) What’s a question you’ve always wanted to be asked, but never have? What’s the answer? What is the thing I love doing more than the expected, like reading or my art? I once was an avid roller skater and snow skier. I use to skate back and forth to work and even though I failed miserably in school athletic wise, I actually did a triathalon when in my forties, swam a mile in Lake O'The Pines, bicycled was it 8 or 9 miles then did a 3K run all in two hours and 13 minutes. I did not come in at the beginning or the end but I did run across the finish line behind two doctors from Tyler, Texas. I also am a reigning Marion County Woodlands competition chain saw and crosscut saw champion. Don't tell me I cannot do something because I am a girl or now a Senior Citizen. I will try my hardest to learn to champion anything. Because you all I know people are watching me and you lead by example. I wear pigtails and another reason I love Jason Momoa, so does he and who cares what people think. I often dreamed of being in a band, perhaps the drummer or as a singer. I love to sing. I love the art of ballet, I have taken many dance lessons and author Claire Cook and I both tied in a contest to see what author should be featured on "Dancing with the Stars". Because I am a reader, I have been able to meet people I never dreamed of meeting, Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and Vice President Al Gore. I was invited to have High Tea with the Duchess of York, Fergie as we were told to call her, and lunch with Yogi Berra Author, John Berendt of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and I went horseback riding. I have danced with author, Jamie Ford. I have dined with a real count in Italy. I have met and got to hang out with musical artists, Riders in the Sky, John Anderson, Marty Stuart, Don Henley, done The B'52's, The Go Go's, Art Garfunkel's, and Joan Rivers hair multiple times. But I once was asked by a reporter what is the thing you most want to be remembered for when you die? Made me cry but my immediate answer was, "I hope that I will be remembered as being a good mother." And now I am saying, "Good grandmother too." Go for it, I always do.

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Laura McCullough interview by Clifford Brooks

1) Give me the skinny on your beginnings. Your childhood, teenage years, and adult life is a story better than the best fiction. Please let us have a peek into it. A “peek”? That feels like trying to pick out 12 lines from a play and still understand the story. I have never really attempted to condense my journey into words, but usually just surprise people over years at a time with snippets of startling true stories or biographical “flash bombs.” My life is a sort of bizarre combination of disparate parts, only beginning to make sense 3 ½ decades in. My mother grew up in classic Southern Society, raised trailing her mother through Macy’s, serving punch to the Daughters of the American Revolution, and stealing the Plymouth with a righteous dread of discovery by the aproned anchor of their house, Alma. My father was raised by a rural Alabama Army man and his Austrian War Bride, two cultures clashing daily, fueled by memories of the War and an unrelenting work ethic to produce a self-defined integrity Thoreau would have envied. Both of them rejected “all of that,” the fake and the safe alike. Their stories are even more interesting than mine, ranging from mishaps with Belgian diamonds, to failed draft dodging that landed in a missile silo in California, to my father’s “real” opinion of Jerry Garcia as a business associate. At the time they met and I came along, my parents and their friends were what most would call Bikers, although they were Independent. I grew up with the stories they were proud of, and the ones they thought would keep me from making the same mistakes. They were painfully honest about the world and people in it, in many ways a child has no business trying to understand, but not nearly as honest on a daily level in ways that would have built a healthy foundation. They never told me what I could not be, but in all their efforts to love me they also never really told me what I SHOULD be, because I don’t think they ever figured that out themselves. My Papa often said of them that, “they picked the junkies and the flunkies to hang around so that they could be the best of the worst.” There may be some truth in that, but another truth is that they never judged a book by its cover. They taught me to never be impressed by the front someone puts out, whether it is bound in black leather or a suit and tie. One of my favorite games as a child was playing “cheater ball” with a man I only now know was a multiple felon and hit man, who would have laid down his life for my family in a heartbeat, while the shiniest of community “pillars” in our life tried to actually cheat us out of nearly everything. This all led to having no idea who I was, and trying to define it by everything and everyone I could surround myself with. While my peers in class saw me as nerdy little Laura, their older brothers were picking me up after school for the parties they weren’t invited to. As a child without a speck of wisdom that path had some really painful, and tragic, ditches. By the time I met my husband at 16, I had not Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 235


been actually living at home for several years, and where I was would make any sensible person gasp. Until him, I had no one (for all their bluster) who was actually willing to fight for me… which is all any woman ever really wants. Letting him take me home was the most irresponsible and wonderful choice I ever made. 20 years later I thank God every day for bringing him across my path. Our journey together started with lots (lots) of less that legal adventures, and through what can only be described as Miracles has led to a life of dedicated Ministry, faith, and lending our talents for the uplifting of others. What could have been a destructive spiral of events in my history has been transformed into a testimony I am able to share in my art and my writing, in women’s and youth ministry, while my husband is a gifted worship leader and ordained Minister. I feel like that is a good peek at the bookends, and don’t think you intended that I take up the section of your magazine the interim would require. The plot ranges from farm girl, honor student to kicked out of numerous schools, 3 college majors, a career running kennels and Humane Societies, medieval cosplay seamstress, heraldic illuminator, model, teacher, homeschooling mom, costume designer, piercer, Shamanic Agnostic turned Torah Observant Minister’s wife utterly sold out for my Messiah, Quantum Physics enthusiast and math geek, First Nations advocate, wealthy and empty to homeless and broken to poor and wholly content. And a pet tarantula bigger than a coffee saucer (that’s Cliff’s favorite part, y’all.) 2) What episodes in life, or moments with family, first set fire to your creative spirit? I can’t remember a time that I was not creating. My mother could not keep me in socks, because before I could sew I cut them all up to make my own Barbie clothes. My parents, for all the things they did not quite know how to manage as “parents”, never failed to support me in making, building, dreaming, and creating. I was always interested, but serious “art” came to the forefront with the first death I experienced. A close family friend and painter, whose work was all over our home, committed suicide and left me all of his unused paints and canvases. I did not understand all the intricacies of mental illness and addiction then, but I did feel compelled to make something with what he had left behind. I experimented from there with every medium you can imagine. My dad was terribly dyslexic, but he was a gifted metal artist and machinist. So he would bring me all sorts of industrial trinkets and shop remnants to work with, but then he also taught me about the beauty of the woods and the wild places. My mother went back to school for Horticulture when I was in elementary school, and I fell in love with the sharp technical elements of drafting and design being used to represent something so organic as living plants. I have always been attracted to dichotomy and contrast, my whole life having been such a picture of opposing forces pressed into the same space. To observe and communicate that in my work was something beyond my ability to restrain even as a child. 3) If you were able to build an artist festival, what three visual artists, three writers/poets, and three musicians (alive or dead) would you pull together to make it epic? Oh, that’s hard. I love so many in each category and am the definition of Eclectic! Let’s go for dynamic exchange… VanGogh, Ineke Hopgood, and Matazo Kayama Ayn Rand, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Anna Akhmatova Moshav Band, Antonín Dvořák, and Creedence Clearwater Revival Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 236


(Typing out and replacing to get only 3 in each category took me longer than any other question, just so you know. Tolstoy, Hedy Lamarr and Schrodinger are the headlining sponsors.) 4) What are you reading right now? Ever and always the Scriptures. I currently have Tyler Knott Gregson’s Chasers of the Light in my purse. It has been a long time since I have had the free mental space to dig into any longer fiction, but I will often work through books that I can engage in smaller pieces. Most recently it has been That’s What the Old Ones Say by Chief Joseph Riverwind, and reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to my kids. 5) How does your faith and family enhance your creativity? They have radically transformed it. When I was at my most prolific as an artist, while attending the Art Institute of Atlanta, even though I was in love with Surrealism I was still very locked into traditional and representational work. Looking back at what I created, everything was either seeking freedom through organic subject with things like floral still life or nature sketching, or exceedingly dark. I have always processed pieces of my heart too heavy for discussion with my work, as any artist will, but there is a line between cathartic and just plain gross. I am a firm believer that work created in any field purely for its shock value, devoid of beauty, is contrary to the fundamental purpose of “art”. That beauty need not be aesthetic, but it must exist within the heart of the piece. What I create now is a celebration. A celebration of my life, centered in Faith and full of blessings. That does not mean that nothing I write or paint is dark, or weighty; on the contrary much of what I write is an exploration of how I relate to the those places within myself or the world from a vantage of safety and peace. My faith, and the gift of my family, are what has lifted me to that precious balance. 6) What question have you been asked so many times you never want to hear it again? So, then you’re Jewish? This has nothing to do with minding being called Jewish, but rather my frustration at people wanting you to fit into one of a set of labels they have established for themselves as “acceptable.” The answer to that question is NoYesKindOfButNotHowYouMeanIt. Our faith is such a unique walk that few understand on the first pass. They know what Christians believe, and they know what Jews believe, and a few think they know what the Messianic Jewish community believe. We aren’t really any of those things… the true name for what we do would be Netsarim, but since that does not help anyone who does not already understand, the next best thing would be Messianic Christian. It’s like this: traditionally Christians do and believe in what you find in the New Testament. Traditionally Jews do and believe in what you find in the Old Testament. We do both. So much simpler than many would try to make it! 7) Tell us about your incredible artwork on the cover of Rattle. To be chosen for that cover, the Winter 2017 issue, was such an honor. When someone outside of your own head looks at something so deeply personal and says, “Yeah, I want that.” (That cover is actually how you and I met, I believe.) The painting, Chai Mekolah, or “Life Dance”, came about in a season where I was really struggling to be free in my painting. As I mentioned before, I had such a volume of work in more static, representative styles. I had done a few pieces in abstract and had started incorporating collage elements. I was having brunch with a good friend, a remarkable and deeply rooted former Military matriarch of her family. Her home is filled with artwork she has collected over Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 237


her years of travel and posts across the globe, things she has chosen simply because she loved them. They brought such a vibrancy and warmth to her space. Things like a traditional African depiction of a family sitting beneath a tree, profiles of beautiful laughing and singing black children, and even a “windows paint” geometric design her daughter had created as a child. Sitting there, I saw a space on her wall that felt empty, and I had the deep desire to paint what needed to go there. I had a complete vision of the piece, one of the few times that has happened before beginning to paint. The styling of the figure in the painting was influenced by her lovely daughter, my talented friend Cat Conley, but the heart of the woman is also a form of self-portrait. She is the Shulamite bride from Song of Solomon. She is the freedom to dance to your own song. She is every piece of my history composed into a redeeming melody of life and joy. There are many elements to the actual collage… mahogany veneer for her skin that reminds me of my great-greatgrandmother’s hope chest that fell off the wagon and cracked on the way to Georgia. A piece of fabric scrap from a shirt my Oma made for my aunt in 1972, found in her sewing basket that I inherited. A map of the Caribbean, referencing the turmoil and the trials of the First Nations people, the heritage of our spiritual elders and the impact they have had on our Ministry and faith walk, and the current work being done in places like Haiti by good friends with a heart to serve. There is a Japanese silk parasol pattern, after a Geisha Doll gifted to my grandparents by the Japanese Consulate, the one thing in their house I remember marveling over and hoping to one day own, that then once I DID have I became aware of the darker realities of trafficking and exploitation and had to come to terms with my personal definitions of “beauty” balanced with “integrity”. Every piece has a meaning. I don’t do anything by accident or without WAY over-thinking it, not in art, not in writing, and not in life. But somewhere in all of that analysis, there is also a dancing soul spinning freely across the room, unencumbered by boxes that have never fit. 8) What new developments or events do you have on the horizon? That question is almost as complicated as asking for a summary of my life! We have lots of plates spinning. I am most excited about the forthcoming release of my short book of poetry and collected writings, Soul Forage, from Phrase Press. It is not your “traditional” collection, but rather a sort of sky map to some of the points of light along my journey from brokenness to wholeness. It is everything I needed to gather and lay out, the table I needed to set, before I would be free to create anything else. In March we have an event to further detail the Resolution of Apology, a political initiative we are involved with in the State of Georgia to enact historic measures of reconciliation and honor toward the First Nations people of our state. A video of the equivalent Resolution in TN can be found at daphneswilling.com.

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We have a few exciting things in development with investors, including a childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s book series, an artistic exploration of Genesis with a talented local concept photographer, a Tactical board game, and a super secret tech device for the literary community unlike anything on the market. We will have to do a whole new interview just for that once R&D is a little farther along! My painting took a bit of a back seat over the winter to these projects, as well as my writing and design work, but we are planning toward a show during the summer. Updates and details will be shared as we have them! 9) How are folks able to get their hands on your work? To see some of my existing pieces, order prints or to commission new artwork, cover art or graphic design, people can visit my website, speakyoursouldesign.com. Pre-orders of Soul Forage, (or submissions of your own work for consideration) can be made by contacting phrasepress.org.

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Marcus G. Taylor interview by Clifford Brooks

1) Give us your story, boss. Where did you grow up, what are some of your favorite memories? Where do you call home now? Where do you go to school, and what do you plan to do with your degree? As a baby, came up with dad, mom, and sister. Then we moved to the Gresham Park area in Atlanta on Meadowview Dr. I remember my 5th birthday party because all of my family came and friends were there. My first crush, Nikita, who lived next door, played Super Mario every day. I remember watching wrestling and playing basketball with my dad. Almost every Saturday going grocery shopping with my mom and sister. I remember playing football, basketball, and baseball and wrestling with my three friends DeMarcus, RJ, and Thaddeus. I call Decatur home now. I went to Clifton Elementary, McNair Junior and Senior High, and Georgia State University. Got my B.A. in Religious Studies at Georgia State. 2) What are you reading right now? Who are your favorite authors and poets? Which of these have influenced you the most? Currently, Out Stealing Horses and The Beasties Boys Book (audio version). My favorite authors and poets are John Donne, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, DeVeata Williams, Sly the Poet, Makini Slaughter, Terrone Allen, Sophia Thukur, Ms. Ty Scott King, Catherine the Great. Each of them showed me how much I could play with the words in poetry. 3) How does music factor into your creative process? Who are your favorite acts and solo artists? There is a science when you listen to music right? It sparks something my spirit and soul. The artist is talking to me, saying words that I want to say but they say it first. Now I can take their raw emotion and build on it with my emotion. I have a wide range of favorites â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Eric Roberson, Camp Lo, Skyzoo, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Outkast, GriZ, Christon Gray, Taelor Gray, Gemstones, Lupe Fiasco, Tupac, MC Hammer, Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammonds, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, TLC. 4) You are making huge changes to the spoken word scene with your flavor of flawlessly blended music and verse. What do you call it, where can we find it, and what do you plan to develop it in the future?

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I call it Soul Fever Sessions. You can go to www.browneyedsoulman.bandcamp.com and listen to some of my poetic musings. I want to develop my presentation skills as poet into a super show of poetry and music. 5) What is your opinion on college life and academia in general? How do you see it helping or holding you back? My experience, college life helps you find who your crowd is. People can get lost in the shuffle in college, especially those that are from different states or countries. But, roommate pairings and various student organizations can help you find your tribe. Now, the university system itself is more business. They figured in that more students would come in and they saw the dollars in it. With that approach to learning, it hinders as far as loans and debt. 6) You have nailed your social media presence and promotion. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s your formula for that without giving too much away? I took the concept of how wrestling, sports, movies advertise their events and tried to adopt their approach. I want the people to see it as an experience. Yeah, Marcus does poetry â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but from the look of it, visually, I want them to anticipate an experience. The formula to social media is post more. People are always scrolling and that gives them time to forget. Since my content has yet to become habit, I have to post more until that one post equals one thousand. 7) What are you first impressions of the Southern Collective Experience? What do you plan to do to work within it and enrich the overall flavor? Much wisdom from those that appear on Southern Collective Experience. I mine for those jewels the poets and writers give us. Certain details people will say that add to my personal life. I want to give Decatur, GA a voice 8) Please tell us what you do to get in the mood to put fire on the page? Do you have a certain place to write? For the last few years, I have looked up word or poetry challenges that create a spark to write. Or if I listen to a sentence from a song or podcast, that will prompt me to write. Of course, some poet will have written or said something amazing and I borrow their emotion for a piece. Normally, I will be on public transportation so that gives me time to write. I also write in undisclosed locations (wink, wink). 9) What gigs do you have coming up? What projects are you working on now? As of 2019, planning a Hello Neighbor: Conversation Party, a karaoke party, a spoken word album, and by December 2019, a spectacular poetry event! I also have podcast, Soul Fever, that is monthly and looking to grow that medium this year.

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Andrew K. Clark interview by Clifford Brooks

1) Where did you grow up? How did your childhood sculpt the prose you create today? What's your story outside of your fiction? I grew up in rural Alexander, NC, outside of Asheville. I was raised in the Southern religious tradition of revivals and camp meetings, a world where every event is understood through the lens of spiritual warfare. Although my personal beliefs have evolved, I carry that tradition and sensibility into my work. Aside from my prose, I have written poetry most of my life. I am also a professor of finance, which proves both sides of your brain can fire at the same time. 2) Who are your favorite poets and prose writers? For prose, I grew up consuming everything by Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Some contemporary writers Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m into: Jesmyn Ward, David Joy, Charles Dodd White, Ian McEwan, Wiley Cash, Colson Whitehead, Ron Rash, Silas House, Patrick Ness, Salman Rushdie, William Gay, Denis Johnson, Taylor Brown, Eowen Ivey, JC Sasser and Bren McLain. For poetry, I cut my teeth on William Blake, the postmodernists, and Langston Hughes, but I enjoy contemporary poets such as Eric Nelson (my former writing professor and mentor), Marcus Amaker, Tim Conroy, Kim Addonizio, Airea Matthews, Ray McManus, Joy Priest, Clifford Brooks and my poetry critique partners, Miho Kinnas and Elizabeth Robin. 3) What rituals do you go through before, during, or after your writing? I think the hardest thing for writers to achieve is to quiet the mind. I try not to talk or use social media before writing time. I use music to both set the mood and block out the world. I light candles when I write, and I have to clear my desk of clutter before I begin. 4) How does place, music, coffee, and cigarettes play into your mindscape as you completed your first novel? We are publishing a piece of it in this issue. Please set the stage for us. I typically write at home. Coffee is a must, but I gave up cigarettes for the gym. I never drink when I write, but a glass of red wine for editing works. A frequent choice of music is Miles Davis, most recently his electric experimental work from the 1970s. I also listen to a number of movie soundtracks such as those by Trent Reznor and from the movies Split, You Were Never Really Here, and Annihilation. Place is almost a character in my novel, The Day Thief, as well as in my poetry. I write about the mountains of Appalachia where I grew up, but other places such as Mississippi and the city of Savannah, where I lived for a number of years.

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5) You are a fresh face in the Southern Collective Experience. How do you feel about the team, and what do you hope to bring to the fray? It’s an honor to be included in such a talented, badass bunch. The thing that attracts me the most is the camaraderie of the group and the sense that we are all working to help each other succeed. If there’s someone in front of you, PUSH; if someone is behind you, reach back and PULL. 6) What accomplishments have come to pass to fortify your passion to keep on with the world of letters? What great feats are you hoping to attack in the future? I think having my work resonate with others is what drives me. In the end that’s what matters. My collection of poetry, Jesus in the Trailer, will come out in 2019 so I’m looking forward to attending readings to promote it and meet other poets. I am also looking for a home for my novel. I would rather find the right home than grow impatient and launch work into the world that isn’t ready or with the wrong partner(s). I am currently writing the sequel to The Day Thief. The first novel is set in rural Appalachia in the 1920s, the second is set in the same place in the 1980s. 7) Who are a few of your favorite visual artists? Favorite movies? How does the visual and film world play into your writing? Do you see your work as a possible screenplay? Some visual artists I like include Julianne Strom, Sarah Goodyear, and Kristen Herrington. Also Appalachianbased Brian Serway has some brilliant and creepy work. Movies can be great for stoking creativity. In general I will try to watch foreign films or something left of mainstream (I don’t want a plot and ending that can be determined from the movie trailer). I prefer fantasy and magical realism. Guillermo del Toro is a favorite, as well as David Lynch, M. Night Shyamalan and Jean Pierre Jeunet. I do think The Day Thief is a visual work that would translate well to film. 8) What is some advice for up-and-coming authors to help avoid hard times? The biggest advice is if you have a dream, and anyone, absolutely anyone in your life is not on board, get rid of them, or mitigate their influence on your thinking. Keep pushing, keep writing, do not stop, and do not be dissuaded by anyone or anything. There are people around you who don’t get it, don’t want to get it, and you don’t need those people. 9) What are a few pet peeves of yours concerning the landscape of writing today? The “pay to submit” model for poetry is particularly abhorrent when poets are not typically paid upon publication. 10) How do you want to be remembered in life? I think the best thing an artist can contemplate is work that endures, whether it be a novel, book of poetry, or even a single poem that resonates and has life out in the world.

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Shane Etter

interview by Clifford Brooks 1) Give us the skinny on your life before writing the writing bug took hold. Before I began to write I was in Hugh tech sales and spent downtime working out—mostly lifting weights, reading and collecting wine. 2) What sparked your new career in letters is fascinating. Tell us how a potentially debilitating condition opens the doors for you as a novelist. At the age of fifty, in fairly good physical condition and apparently in good health, I was surprised by a serious stroke. You always hear that the best thing you can do for your brain is read, so I figured that writing, creating something that didn’t exist before, with words, would be even better for my brain than reading, so I started writing. And a funny thing happened. A dozen words into Bottom Dwellers I knew it was good enough to be published. As it turns out I was right. I found my first publisher and I was off. 3) What are a few favorite memories you have growing up that formed you into the man you are today? I remember reading a book of Sherlock Holmes short stories when I was in third grade. Organized baseball as a kid and starting karate in my late teens. I wasn’t the most gifted athlete, so I tried harder than anyone else. Never giving upnd that served me well in my career in high tech sales and now as a writer. 4) Who are for 10 favorite writers? (5 living, and 5 moved on.) Oh wow. Living: John Connolly, F. Paul Wilson, Lee Child, C.J. Box and Dennis Lehane. Deceased: Robert B. Parker, Phillip K. Dick, Jim Harrison, Jim Thompson and Cornell Woolrich. 5) What are some good practices that help keep your art on track? Write every day. Better yet, write a page every day and in a year you’ll have a novel. Read the best fiction you’d can find. Never stop reading. 6) What’s a question you’ve always wanted to be asked, but never have? (What’s the answer?) Do you think you’re a good writer. Some days I think i’m pretty good. Others I think I’m fair at best. 7) Where do you see yourself in five years? I hope I’ve had a movie or two made from my novels and I can live my life on my terms. Issue 13 | Blue Mountain Review | 246


8) What’s some practical advice for writers to help them avoid heartache? Kill yourself now before it’s too late. (Said with a grin) 9) How do you want your life to be remembered? That I had a big heart and never gave up. 10) How does your spiritual life factor into your professional life? I pray every day and I find away to put God in every story, even if there’s conflict. 11) What books do you have under your belt, and what are you working on now? Bottom Dwellers, Mind Dwellers, Trail Dwellers, A Brain In Third Person, A War In The Bronx, A Brain In Third Person II and soon, Devil’s Sympathy. 12) What are some exciting projects you have on the horizon? I’m currently working on World Of Rage, a post-apocalyptic, dystopian end of world story. And it is. It wraps up all seven of my previous novels.

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Tabula

Dinner: Wednesday – Saturday

Lunch: Wednesday - Saturday

Sunday Brunch

4:30 PM – 9:00 PM

11 AM – 2:00 PM

10:30 AM - 3:00 PM

44 Chambers Street | Jasper, GA 30143 | 706-253-8500

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Interested in advertising with us? Please contact Clifford Brooks: cliffordbrooks@southerncollectiveexperience.com

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he T BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW

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Profile for CollectiveMedia

The Blue Mountain Review Issue 13  

A Journal of Culture Poetry, Literature, and the Arts from The Southern Collective Experience.

The Blue Mountain Review Issue 13  

A Journal of Culture Poetry, Literature, and the Arts from The Southern Collective Experience.