THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
Featuring: Asha Gowan Joe Milford Regina Walker Ka-son Reeves Crespo and many others
The Blue Mountain Review All rights to the works within this issue remain with the respective artists and writers. Cover art, Icarus, courtesy of Ka-son Reeves. southerncollectiveexperience.com
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Table of Contents Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………5 Asha Gowan…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….6 Regina Walker………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….18 Guest Outsider Musician-Poet: Michael Cowan……………………………………………………………………………21 Kenneth Farmer……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….30 William S. Tribell……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..35 Crespo…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….45 Nicky Yurcaba………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….48 Joseph Victor Milford……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….50 Matthew Polsfuss……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..53 William S. Tribell interviews Chad Prevost………………………………………………………………………………….57 Chad Prevost………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..….60 Randy Brown, Jr………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………69 Sosha Pease……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..72 Jennifer Avery………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….73 Ka-son Reeves………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….76 Spencer Connell……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….80 Sally McRae…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….86 Chani Zwibel……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………93 Andy Whitehorne………………………………………………………………………………………………………..…………..98 Brent Ellis………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………101 Holly Holt………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………104 Peter Ristuccia………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..121 Biography Notes……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..126 4 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
Introduction The world speaks to us if we take the time on a quiet Sunday to listen. At first, the sky is settled into a sapphire blue still striving to remain night. Then, the yolk of dawn emerges and, in its rise, casts the sky in shades of pink and orange. Each sunrise is not the same—cannot be, just as evolution isn’t the same for every creature of the Earth. Yet, the uniqueness is awe-inspiring; and teaches us in that silent moment what we would not have heard during a raucous night. In much the same way, a magazine evolves. The pages glow in the aging shades of the rising sun, which—in this instance—rest in our awareness of what needs to be done, if we are to become our finest. We find that what we once believed in spying the first shade has changed, albeit slowly, as the light has become stronger, clearer. We have learned in this process, because we have taken the chance to listen. For this reason, we choose not to remain unresponsive, but change and spread the days into a beautiful array filled with promise and bountiful growth—as that is how light is best used: to guide the way. The night is gone. The day has risen. The future bears our name.
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Asha Gowan 1
The Oracle and her Reader of Dreams
Sibylline forgoes her empty weaving, unwed and hanging locked in a sad devotion’s dank room. Bells making racket aloft in a chapel’s belfry – her disdain swears in low breath: Chastity in vain saving dictates an evil affliction. Her heart has cankered borderline blasphemous before when just a girl, once betrayed by misinterpreted dreams for a lecherous, holy King. Deities are leaving her in dusty vapors and frankincense to vacate their vigil. They’ve heard no invocation, they have no vacant time for haunting comforts, they can see his voice is enough of divine for her, a softer cover over her sins when she slumbers, the only Reader of her dreams. Sibylline casts her lots in eyes silent, pining as do statuettes, through simpler villages to the north face of the mountain. Mute, classically trained for ritual chant, she surrenders words and rather harps on in strings, 6 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
the conditions of a prophecy eluding her. But, these uncertain things won’t give. Moored to her bedpost, swing shreds from torn away mornings. She wars a siege alone she always loses to a fortnight’s standstill, a past King’s undead plan of ill-will, and demons her Reader’s intimacy with conquering nightmares could even darkness kill. But he’s got Beowulf’s blood, back to ousting his monsters at sea. She misses his legends terribly. The urim and thummin trundle through an uninspired roll, portending the same dank room. After cursing damnation and groveling back to its imprisoning, chanting words into a scripture's semblance is a coarse grinding, yet finally, Sibylline pricks belief: “Love may be a thorny blessing, between a curse on the Devil and a prayer to God but it was worth the mortal bleed.”
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2 An Owl’s Omen in the Ruins Wind unhinges lashes to swat at what dust drones behind my door, where the finish peels and appears groaning, like time dissolving piecemeal, inching the splits, in mildew all morning. Green, not new, fouls the door wincing at the onset of dry, while I ward off light, so slammed shut behind the aging gore. But that thwack is none of heaven’s flak, no divine leavening, whack against my door, deadening. I fear there dizzies a poor harbinger drunk on travesty and woe before, tormented into frenzies by this devilry’s chore. An owl at rapid flap, silent but for its frantic slaps that threaten to conjure rogue touches of perilous news, a brood cast in the offing that will not diffuse. Trapped in ungodly trances it is slave to this chaos, dancing out the dark chances of an omen, should I dare to read? Half past four, against my window, framing me as I ease from safe shadow to slip a looking space only the size of a pore and prepare to yank it closed should I scare when I see the face’s lure. Curse this brainless bird, why not knock blank sounds with nothing to reword at my door for an answer to shoo away? Thwack, whack, back in towing Thwack, smack, tacked to rowing The sea drummed, thrummed a thunder, Thwack, whack, hacked 8 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
And hewn, it plumbed the sails, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;till the ship was sunken under. The moon seems widowing from the night as its light comes chanting dust into glints masquerading as stars, from beneath the door now, persuading me to try for a few steps afar. I open the entry and the wind catches a fall to my knees in wept wisps across the cheek, like kisses in God-speak. The owl, his wings have come to rest and perch at distant post: Hoo, hoo, who, who Who else but for the one who knew who I was the most, my Reader of Dreams? I tried to hold him. Oh, I told him that the Kraken is eater of steel beams and screams death as it reams through the soul. But this prophecy is old, my story is told, as in, already transpired, already once, if twice, I would cry to behold. God gives no early auguries concerning fate or as to whether promises return. So I shall retire from the trade, for a time, because my heart pleads, but likely will receive false readings. Who, who, who will dream meaning into my sleep? Ah yes, the owl is leaving Hoo, hoo, who. The owl leaves the meaning As morning burns the dew. This time, I can hear you: 9 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
“Sibylline, it was true”
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One Recurring Winter
My life has one recurring winter, one hundred days wither, where one man shivers, incurring cold Sibylline, Sibylline For I read into dreams he never knew he had. He gave me his past in present of an offering I re-read yet could not accept. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been cursed with a fate and a perception of prophecies I did not ask for. This man, I cared for him at first and then realized the worst, I fell too soon. My eyes turned away from what would have saved me pain that, now, stabs in retracing his going. Though I did ignore what words spelled into an ending early on, I just wanted someone. Now he cries Sibylline, Sibylline from the bottom of the stone tower. But I had nightmares of his last hour. And I vowed never to be the damsel in distress, doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mean I loved him any less. But now, I am one tear away from letting down the lost rope to silence this dirge of lost hope, 11 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
Come back to me But this curse of wisdom knows having him close would destroy me. So I die, broken immortal, as whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s left trails away every century. So I grieve, eternally, for the last vestiges of our melody, slipping into memory, incurring cold Sibylline, Sibylline
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An Exodus of Her Own Writ
Her citadel was robbed. She was no bel esprit, chose deaf over minding any warning. Passion crippled her qualms and the want for touch cheated her naïve when eliciting moneychangers that only reave and breach places where the guard is weak. They usurped her priests from hallowed temple halls for a treasonous trade: topple the pillars, crash the walls, send her faith and dignity into burial chambers, all in barter for his close company. Sibylline, dissuaded from foretelling the foreseen, cringed yet trembled a stir at the scheme and took cover in cloak, however choked, by regret and daggers in her shawl, she watched herself to the brink, to every stow away Judas kiss, then to the fall. They seized her belief, bought up it’s value for little more than nothing of what love her eye envied and weaseled cracks where longing’s cry for urgency watered down her oath. At the first step’s pressure, she fell for the mortal man and relinquished her divinely gifted stand. She forgot how the sacred crumbled until she was struck, humbled at the wreakage of an impossible vow. 13 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
Exiled into an exodus of her own writ, she could no longer make a home of the mortuary’s lone stone so she ripped her threads bare, the garments of her dress, and the strewn cabochons fell undistinguished from ground grit and emblems between which the sparrows feed on. On the yoke of morning’s lute, her lyre recalls the Lamentations and darkens the Psalms into Job’s repentant dust and ash proclamations, so echoes the beating in the sound-chest. Though she revoked her prayers’ a hearing, the birds seem steering the divulged song-winds into the heavens for a clearing, so its travels won’t miss words, heaving too stressed. Sibylline’s blessed. She’s rebuilding her fallen foundations. And, of those monuments, she’s excavating pieces of trust from dashed faith and must evacuate her error through doors she believes again God will hold open for her release. Angels lift the heaviest of the pillars and though the evening dims, by day, Sibylline will have moored her resting place replete with morale restoring. So enter the priests, and the Levites’ hymns, and she’s felt a welcome in morning ever since.
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Dragon of the Blood Moon
At a young age, Sibylline learned to unsee the visibly concrete for whispers of higher speech. Semi-conscious in sleep, a sinister time sneaks behind her partial wake, covers her eyes, and states secrets of its treason. She can hear imminence in quiet with the universe and its thickening – restless for some One to take back the claim. The dark pulse is quickening, faster than breaths once in harmony with the beginning. Her world is a tired kingdom of sanctioned wrong. Screams and sirens halt her pious song. As she yields to the intermission, air, earth, and sea do ooze of a sickening. Night brings the moon and its legends. Coiled secrets poise and strike at shadows in clouds. But she fears the face that will show soon but cannot revoke The Sibyl’s vows. The dragon’s tailbone is limber chainmail. Lies in his lair nail harmless myths to his armory. The body beyond the base disguises its twists into premeditated timescale, as scalene plates hide in blatant circumference. It never tips the scales to sprawl transverse across the blood moon where what lets from the gripping claw, to her, seeps a pierced illusion. 15 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
Sibylline knows the two stars of its glare and the constellation its fangs and crown imply in the ferocity of flames angered eternally where it disgorges inferno at Heaven and down, obstructs the earthly view stopped at dead orbit of borrowed glow. So the mortals worship reason, science, and its unequivocal logic calculating every spin around the tilt to impose faith in everything seen into truth that risks the danger of godless. Though they explain it, uneasy. Sibylline feels a beastly force, hungry for war, carnage, and feasting.
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Rasputine: A Poetry Thread
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Guest Outsider Musician-Poet: Michael Cowan weekend getaway with mad precipitance we bounded out of there; fifty-eight dollars and two cans of a six pack stuffed neatly in your purse you broke a heel on the cobblestone corner and let my drunkened ass tumble onto the cold, wet pavement. the blinking bank clock across the street painted 3:47 in reverse on black stained-glass. so we just sat there for a moment. like a novelty dime store postcardtwo wretches, hose torn, trousers wet; one miscreant and a tramp. hours before we chuckled while you spread red lipstick across your mouth as i sat, rolling a joint, on the edge of the tub playing with the frilly ends of your little black dress. the in-wall air conditioner hummed and rattled with the cacophony of afternoon sex, and daytime T.V.
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crooked science we are hazy and forgettful creatures. we are cycles of habit spinning in rondures; repeating every mistake, revolving on tilted axis, each perspective of this Cosmos, ever so slightly skewed.
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travellers i can feel blood rush behind my eyeshot with life our Home hurls itself on a perfect ellipse around the distant Sun. its demons drive us unseen through the black night of space. there are none needed to aid in this causeas the behemoth milky way moves at over a million miles an hour; you will certainly never be in the same place again. you will never really know just how far you have come.
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she blooms there is nothing humdrum about her. she lilts on the edge of Summer, even when Spring has only sprung. the trees are scarcely draped in half greens and timid hues of blue bounce round and round in the eternal depths of a forest with bark as black as night. she holds me in the palm of her tiny hands. should i try, every bone and heart of hers i could break with ease. bent reeds ready to be snapped. smoldering wicks, waiting to be snuffed. the Father would never, but Daddy would. she invades all the space and her dandelion charms, the promise of honey, the wisping of a blonde breeze in pirouette circles. i see her smile and sunlight erupts from behind her teeth and the entire green of the planet comes from her eyes, where Summer â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and its frivolity, never sleeps. never stops spinning. she blooms right before my eyes i am her bee
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just another mornâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; we awake to the pink Chroma of dawn; suffused across underbellies of pendulous clouds, hung perilously in an upended sea of roseate glass, nighttime is washed away by morning tides scintillating castaways adrift on the Ocean of space; each star, flung haplessly overboardslowly sinks to nothing.
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billy howard we sit idly in matching rockers, chewing grass and swatting gnats. “look ‘er” billy nudges me “where?” “yonder goddamnit! right fucking thar.” he points at a bald man. “that sumbitch right thar!” “yes i see him” “i hate that sumbitch. i wouldn’t feed him burnt beans” “why the hell not?” “I just hate that damned sumbitch. i wouldn’t give him a squirt ‘er piss to take a pill with!” and he spat the grass out and walked off rubbing his sweaty, sun-red neck with an old, oily rag. billy howard.
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i live in a house that God built i live in a house that God built down in a holler, up against a deep, creeping wood that moves with shadow and shape. hill over hill, an ocean of leaves this is where iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve laid my claim where mud and blood all stain the same. will i die beneath the cherry wood or oak or elm, or bathed in light in the pasture still? God I hope itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s under a starry night, when all my little earth becomes a reflection in some Other starlit lake. where space blankets my decaying arms and legs and hands, swallowed up by the dirt, wrapped up in a cosmos. my trees will sing for me, and will hang low, and then will forget as they should. what are we but dust? here only for a moment, and then gone. a song once whistled on the wind, now only tangled up, like whispers in a wood.
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family grits between too watery and paste there are grits, butter drowned grits. and you cannot make grits in plain water. they'll never salt to taste. you boil ’em in salt water and ain’t no taste bud won’t dance to that bulbbly tune. talk to me about dancin' take me dancin'. talk to me in riddles tell me a riddle. make that sticky drawl crawl down from your tongue, and lap at thick air. my great grandparents, my grand parents, my parents didn’t know anything about burnin' incense or burnin' hash, or burnin' peoplebut they knew about burnin' grits, and that you can’t salt ’em after the fact, and that’s why I know too.
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www.PACAGeorgia.org https://www.facebook.com/PACAGeorgia What is the Pickens Arts and Cultural Alliance? PACA was established to give support and assistance to existing arts and historic preservation organizations in Pickens County. With the encouragement and support of county government the Pickens Arts and Cultural Alliance was formed in the summer of 2007 through a grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts. Pickens County has a rich and diverse array of new and older organizations that provide outstanding programming. The organizationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vision, mission and core values are stated below. Vision Statement Supporting the Arts and Culture of Pickens County Mission Statement Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for residents, preserve culture, increase educational opportunities in the arts, and promote cultural activities by developing a strong arts and historic preservation environment in Pickens County. Core Values 1. Arts & Culture enrich the lives of Pickens County residents. 2. The arts significantly contribute to the development of children. 3. Planning will be responsive to the voice of arts and cultural organizations and individuals. 4. Preservation of historic resources will retain our cultural heritage and character.
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Kenneth Farmer Horus the Newer The science of religion escapes us in the cancer age The hungry disease meets us with its gnawing malignant rage The ancient immunizing mutations thwarted and assuaged stifled by sugars and everything we've made are tired surprised by force and dazed Overwhelmed with biologic information the obsolete yet still blazing gray electric ant farm maze But somewhere in the sprawling haze a new man is beginning to raise A mumbling mind whose primordial cogitations are ushering in the new phase He gazes into the aether engages the material place sublimating his desires through the beauty of humanity's face Like Osiris with his brewing and his grace With Isis's tall posture and Lady magic all enlaced Encompassing their subjects in their tragic love embrace You set out knowing the knowledge has to flow despite Set's malice that begets the undertow
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and fullness While being dragged down below at the ebullient Horus who never ceases to grow
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Jagged Oscilloscope I was up all night imbibing dope gauging my cogitations with your jagged oscilloscope Its green screen radially ordained displaying results unnaturally obtained The vacuum tubes are humming drumming scientific note displaying waves above me continuing to float Perverse notions curl across the line with the ghostly whispers of the machine inextricably entwined I've never been laid out with this kind of precision against a background of stars fixed by my own indecision This imprecise elision slices me and leaves the scar through which the vicious nightly vision sees me from afar Fear nears me around the ventricles of my heart The details of this arrangement are tearing me apart
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But try as we might it doesn't amount to any eternal devotion What did you want Our discussion was quite unclear I went from definite understanding to the need to disappear So here I am gone now not wholly without a trace Sitting here waiting to see you face to face I won't ask forgiveness nor have any to give Just compromise with me and make a way to live
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Midnight Roads When all these midnight moonless country roads evaporate along with their mist these black pines that surround me with everything but the night sky are ceasing to exist Appear somewhere near me somewhere out beyond the farthest star sing to me in the darkness make me understand exactly where you are This searing distance that we’ve travelled finding each other’s presence has torn us to pieces pared us down and left us with our barest quintessence Every moment until now choked with memory and apprehension slowed me down and shattered my attention You too my friend had been trapped on the physical plane assailed by countless doubts and existential pain But now in this instant now that everything is gone away all the universe’s lights are fading and our minds are turning grey We’re past all the time we spent the fabric of the galaxy is being rent in pieces inside our mind and I can’t be afraid anymore of anything we might find Previously published in Ishaan Literary Review, Issue 4.5
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William S. Tribell Free Running When I sleep I’m a child again Uncorrupted, uninterrupted And only slightly sick of it all And in the daytime, Waking – the silence Like a rumbling thunder Daytime or night, and I wonder This short life; Often left behind and wasting time Sometimes sinking but always thinking Mostly thankful Always on the edge of forever And debts to pay Borrowing shoes and tomorrows Walking miles Everyone fixing yesterdays And buying new ways A dead ringer, the piss poor, Bring home the bacon, dirty floor Efforts to be free Prayers and sympathy Vented rage and wishes For promised tranquility And every time we all want to believe … Patience, like a big beautiful jigsaw puzzle
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Ladies and Gentlemen All of us and ours Under statue and steeple All the people Correctly political Divisions and pride In the west and dreamy Security theatre Disposables and the homeless VFW and the courthouse States of mind Rhythm; like the river Flow; current – rainbow The universal mind And downtown anywhere Congregation – stationary Aimless search and meander Hope to fly before we die Like sex; wet morning exhale Breath, sigh, and shaking Sweat and cool Breezy aftermath Vibration – electric Statistically and your number From any given angle Aspect Test score And someone has to mow the fucking lawn man Alive; clover, dew drop, dandelion Spiders claiming the corners Home sweet home and a fireplace Digital spiritual – disassociation Placation German porn and the microwave Everyday the mailman; except on Sunday Regularly scheduled programming Dancing round and round Time lapsed and flashing Pretending; feigned interests Road maps – spill the wine Third acts and build it up Birthdays and burned out candles All the happy holidays Beads and barter 36 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
Fight and fuck Off the reservation Love, hate, regret, regression Precession; pandering forward Recession â&#x20AC;&#x201C; my digression
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As I Like It Walking around in another downtown Ignoring the clipboard people, Outstretched hands fanning flyers Pangs of ill gotten guilt – imposition The impression pressed, slightly stressed And maybe a bit overdressed these days Poised and posed for Instagram and Facebook Exploitation inherent to a system All kinds of different rabbit holes Slow capitulation A perfect public pudding And that change is constant Makes that unchanging Time and tide Water rising Worldwide Passings Times and tribulations Passings - our own What’s left on the table The bigger fronts Of the bigger back stories Causes friction Conjecture or fiction Malediction Politician Suspicions, sedition Risen with derision Spreading the sickness Televised confessions Powdered imperfections To keep us all uptight every night Or jaded and still searching Screaming at you sometimes But please; Don’t take it wrong An excitable mind –my kind Dreamy and lost But connecting Your eyes and his That moment Of connecting Communication Before any breakdown 38 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
Yea â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and memories Or similarities Instances And rarities Each one of us different At different times and different places So many faces; as we travel/traverse The multitudes and the many ways That we may - every day Day after day Life is a play Someone once said that
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Detox When it falls apart Lessons learned Hardened heart Back together Back to start Feed the monkeys Stretch the soul Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all the same And takes a toll Ebb and flow Sway and roll Set me free Make us crazy Hazy remembered view Dew dropped mornings And all the warnings Excepted in lieu Dressed up thoughts And a dream For paradise and future For the children Bare us no ill will
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Living in the Sunshine The sun shining makes me happy That’s what she said that morning And I just can’t stand the clarity But she makes me want to – to be Warm in that light and caring Bewildered and guilty but reaching Reaching out foolishly but reserved Carefully measured but truthful I wanted to say – hey! You make me want to waste my time Waiting for you to spare some of yours I wanted to say honest you do But I didn’t – I just started waiting
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Soup Everyone everywhere Wishing for pure back Trying to get it back Embrace the darkness To repaint the black To reclaim the pure Or maybe remake it Into the future Weary woe and aftermath A renamed past Time and tell â&#x20AC;&#x201C;stories told Side by side and in the dark Into the light and otherwise Smiling angels like Babylon Fig trees, skies churning Apple blossom future Sunrise and a written future Comfort, statement, aftermath Meditate and breathe And dream it all again Take it all in Bring it all back â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Rewritten and smiling Ballads- dark nights Growth; blue green friendship Harmonic undertone and glowing Together and alive Growing Circular singular cellular Soup
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The Dark Side of the Mountain Inside her mind Like a thought or a memory Wanting to be the coming calm And her freedom Like the dark side of her mountain home Inside her heart To be part of her dream Adrift together - connected Never forgotten And so never lost Inside her mind Infinitely and part of the cure Part of that forever Like the dark side of that mountain And so never really lost.
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A Nu Bish 45 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
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Nicky Yurcaba I Thought of You While Reading Emerson when I reached the chapter in “Nature” where he asserts that those born to the woods and fields possess a higher capacity for self-education and self-enlightenment because an understanding of Nature provides an insight to one’s self and to God.
I thought of you, my Antaeus, who returns to reason and being and faith while communing with the tree-capped mountains, baptizing yourself in the rushing rivers, commending your spirit to the open sky and gaping fields.
And, as I read, I wept.
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beatsmithmedore.bandcamp.com/album/summer-cleaning-vol-1 49 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
Joseph Victor Milford from Tattered Scrolls and Postulates 77. “He was born and raised around Jacksonville/ A nice young man not the kind to kill/ But the jealous fight and the flashing blades/ Sent him on the run through the everglades. Running like the dog through the everglades”. she was singing raspy and tapping her boot. he was trying to fix the lawnmower again. he was going to lose two fingers on his strumming hand. hand to mouth is how they lived, and it was good until it wasn’t. he could smell him all over the house. “Now the years went by and his girl was wed/ His family gave up they thought he was dead/ Now and then the people would say/ They had seen him runnin' through the everglades/ Runnin' like a dog through the everglades”. one time, Lee White almost burned down the barn. it was the only time he’d seen Papa Joe cuss out and scream at Miss Marvene. Lee White killed himself in high school. he would think of this running through the dark woods.
78. burden laid down in the gospel sense. roof is repaired. new haircut. tooth pulled. holy for now. Kepler died poor at 59 broke and fleeing religious countries, i told her. i was 38 and no genius. musing on the stars under a mosquito canopy with Inez the guitar accompanying my heresies. Steve, my mother’s lover for over twenty years, told the story of driving from Georgia to N.Y.C. with a load of ceramic floor tiles. black crew comes up to unload the truck in the Bronx. guy says to Steve, “Where the fuck are you from?” Steve says “Georgia”. guy looks at Steve for a minute, says, “I wish you motherfuckers would’ve won that fucking war down there.” a few guffaws. once in Kamakura, monks brought me saki on cliff’s edge as it snowed. cherry blossoms shredding.it’s because someone had to win some war or not. it’s because you followed your destitute heart.
79. i wore Kavacha; i adorned Goshwit; i held Svalinn; i wielded Ichaival! your beauty matched all. bested by tresses and the mole left of your full lips and the olive skin and dark Mayan eyes. God. i never had a chance in the undersea caverns of you—mining the underworld wonders of you. the quilt made with swaths of shirts and uniforms of our dead fathers and uncles was warmer. the dark brown ceramic Buddha holding the seashell from Blackbeard Island. naturalistic lotus. what will be packed in the seachest and put into deep storage with a padlock and my namecard? we sat on backporch smoking the doobie talking about your divorce while i contemplated mine. “Standing on the shoulders of giants/ Leaves me cold/ A mean idea to call my own/ A hundred million birds fly away, away, away”. those weren’t leaves in the oaks they were crows, friend. Talaria did not help me get away. Ellida was not fast enough. Vitthakalai also not fast enough.
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80. Vic Chesnutt, born in Zebulon, GA. Emily Dickinson pushing his wheelchair across Tarturus. Ian Curtis is pushing Emily Dickinson’s wheelchair across Elysium. Jeff Buckley dragging the river with Ian Curtis’ hanging rope trying to dredge up Elliot Smith. Kurt Cobain teaching Nick Drake how to play southpaw. in the inherited recliner with skull candy headphones on pulsing. it could take us all day to tune the drums. the humidity un-tuning our guitars. our fingers cut. we were gonna take our grandfather’s ghosts on tours of docked American haunted battleships. a mapping of mysteries and mystics may not always save you. often it brings the quickening. you remember honeysuckle not the poison ivy. the pristine wading pools, not the water-dogs. does the quarry change for you when you learn how many have drowned in the lake? or not? fat Baptist preacher keeps saying nobody dies they just meet punishments. he sweats bullets. 86. loved tug-of-war. loved dodgeball. loved arcade. loved keg bounces. always loved wrong sports. adage of death or taxes always made me laugh. it is death by taxes of course, Woodie Guthrie. the Vodka i drank i snuck in this plush palace. have you ever done this? plush as pussy svelte? my post card to you was from the least salt lake. the place you drivel away in with wife to sand. salt. bitches turn into that when a man walks away. i’ve noticed Sodom and Hades. pillars of silt. i think that my ex-lover only destroyed football teams with her blowjobs. never anticipated poets. palace was a vagina made of slot machines that had orgasms of tokens when you fucked them. i never meant to be holy or bruised. never meant to be saavy or thug. just wanted a father’s love. a cruise is a heart valve. a moon mission is a transplant. i have always been a Martian. like you. i liked it when the world was flat & we sailed off it listening to KANSAS while our parents slept. 87. Guthrie-esque down tarred ribbons of highways. Johnny Appleseed-esque odalisque to Route 66. i ain’t whistlin’ Dixie. i’d never whistle Dixie. spinning yarns—battening heddles and shuttles. we went from moonshining to MDMA in less than a decade. from Willie Nelson to meth faster. buddy-ro called these lines jeremiads. only Jeremiah i ever knew was all-state quarterback 1986. falling on love is like being gored by a wild boar like Atys. like castrating Dionysus. not death. i wondered if, on Mr.Williamson’s land, a candidate for Apis existed. black, spotted with ritual. sneaking into the kitchen at night after the preserves had set to drink the vinegar from the jars. skulking behind a pool table in that seventies’ mist was your dark hero in a ghostly wife-beater. you may have been born from good stock but someone spilled the cursed pot. stowaway mick. they keep making most of us on conveyor belts to go and die in desert wars for dead dinosaur 88. surrounded the bonfire with thousands of lunatic candyskull bobbleheads. watched them laugh. 2.25 kilos healthy plums. 1.35 kilos of sugar. 1 gallon water. 1 tsp. lemon juice. wine yeast. jugs. the summer party will result in four pregnancies, ten fights, three arrests, and one parapelegic. the whole small town written by Frank Miller and filmed by Darren Aronovsky. starring you. there were no jobs for pickpockets after the textile factories co-opted to Africa, India, Indochina. die old and leave a manageable orca. the boy wanted to climb every water tower he ever saw. bouquets by bad curves. bouquets by traintracks. bouquets random. cumulonimbus bouquets. a soul out of a body. it’s like a mirror near you when you are fucking that you refuse to look at. if the freedom of information act was applied to this town then gates of hell would chew it up. 51 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
i would sincerely hope so. she should keep the baby. we should go. call if you need anything.
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William S. Tribell interviews Chad Prevost WT: Are you the type of writer who can set a time daily to write poetry or do you have to wait for inspiration to hit? CP: Inspiration comes to those who set time daily. Sure I like to experience bursts of creative productivity. For me, though, however much it floods, it never lasts. Sometimes I write daily, a lot of times I also don’t. Writing is hard. I’ve been recently inspired by Mason Curry's Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. I think it makes me feel better to understand how many different ways people live creative lives. WT: How about with prose? CP: I didn’t even see this until I just answered the above, but it does make me think that with poetry I find it is more “binge and purge.” I'll get hot on the trail and get inspired from an idea, or other writers (whether being around them at a festival or something or from the work itself), and I'll write intensely for a number of days—almost always in hand-written drafts in my moleskin journal—until the well runs dry. Then I go back and look at what's come up and start the composing and drafting process. Prose is steadier. You work at it throughout and within the ups and downs. You sit down and meet yourself in the universe you're creating and, if you leave it for long, the universe disappears and it gets harder to get back in. WT: Do you read poetry, other poets? CP: Well, yeah, you pretty much have to or why participate in the writing, am I right? I’ve also been experimenting with the Cento form, which is a collage-like form in which each line comes from another poem, and from it you create your own. Harder than it sounds to make it come off right. And while I have many friends and past and present poet-heroes—too many to name or risk a ‘name dropping’ game—I will say that the past couple of weeks I've revisited Thomas Lux, Stuart Dischell, John Ashberry, Philip Levine, Richard Jackson, and the recent late-great Kurt Brown. Kurt Brown’s No Other Paradise is really something. He was pretty underrated in his time I think. I’ve also read through some pieces of Larry Levis’ second book, The Afterlife, and I’ve discovered an incredible book by Marie Howe, What the Living Do. Also, a pharmacist friend of mine, Bill Rasmovicz, has had two books come out this year and they are both amazing, Gross Ardor (42 Miles Press) and Idiopaths (Brooklyn Arts Press). In terms of the quintessential collection from sheer inspiration, I recently revisited Rilke’s The Duino Elegies too. I also enjoy discovering new voices and, ever since we published our first title in 2008 with C&R Press we have had some wonderful successes with releases by folks like Jason Koo, Stacey Lynn Brown, Travis Wayne Denton, John Estes, Curtis Bauer, Alex Long, Lesley Wheeler, Barbara Crooker, Michelle Bitting, Sara Burge, Nick McRae, and Brian Simoneau. WT: Sometimes I write a piece in no time; I just sit down and write it beginning to end—other times I have bits and pieces in my notes for a long time. How do you know when a piece of work is finished? CP: When it says all it can say in the shortest amount of space. When, as Louise Gluck says, “the door just closes.” WT: Tell us about revisions and editing for you? 57 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
CP: I've never been strict about knowing exactly how many versions of a poem it takes to get to the center of the lollipop. It helps to read the stuff aloud and have other eyes on the material. That is for sure. People with different aesthetics too. You definitely do not just want “yes” people who say they love it all. That accomplishes nothing. It’s like when you'd bring something to your parents in kindergarten and they’d put it on the fridge no matter what it was. We need to benefit each other through honest, critical evaluation. Sometimes it’s just a matter of trimming; sometimes it helps to know what’s working and whether or not it’s something that can be addressed or is more fuel for the woodfire. WT: What is harder for you, writing or revising? CP: You mean the initial act of composing as compared to the drafts down the road? To me, it's all “writing.” There is a pleasure in the initial act of composition, I think. Probably the most pleasure, at least for poetry, are the in-between drafts—the drafts where you know you’ve got something and it's still fresh enough and you're crafting. The first stab can be daunting and the latter versions can be exhausting or you lose the initial excitement. For writing a novel, I find that particular first draft much easier than the ensuing second or third draft. But then again, in my first three attempts, my first drafts weren’t very good at all. In fact, the very first was incredibly bad. For a novel, you’re having to hold so much in your head at once while creating a constant interest and tension. Much more challenging in early drafts. At least so far. WT: When did you decide you were going to be a writer? Was there a moment when you suddenly said, “This is what I wish to do for the rest of my life?” CP: I don’t know. Like anything really, it’s a process. My parents called me “Chatterbox” when I was like two I think. I wrote an 8-page typed story in the 5th grade that only had to be 2-3 pages. I got really into the adventures of the runaways and didn't want to stop. I wrote poems and bad song lyrics in high school. I took lots of creative writing courses in high school and college and then in grad school. I went straight into seminary at the age of 21 when I was trying to understand my “calling.” Even then, though, I wanted to be a writer—though I had a vague, naive, and romantic idea of what that meant. I guess I got more serious about it when I applied to creative writing programs and went and got a Ph.D. in the field at Georgia State. WT: What is the best aspect of being a writer for you? CP: That you’re involved in a meaning-making activity. That you’re trying to say something that entertains while also nailing some aspect of the mysterious human condition. Nothing lasts, and it’s not about “being remembered” or whatever, but we all have to do something and it’s fulfilling to know I’m participating in an act of creating that has a community of other participants both past and present. WT: Do you have a favorite writer or book? CP: I could never pick just one of anything, but Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck has always been a hall-of-fame favorite. I can’t exactly put my finger on why. I just love it every time I read it. WT: Do you write for a specific audience in mind? CP: Not so much with the poetry, I guess, other than an ideal kind of reader who knows more than me. With the fiction I’ve had enough publishing experience that I inevitably constantly keep in mind 58 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
who might read it and why. At the same time, if you write from the “soul” and what you really want to say, you have to watch out that you don’t pay too much attention to all the target market audience analytics. But if you did then I think you’d want to write something to the 85% of women readers— especially those who are in book clubs—and you'd want it to have international appeal and be in a 215 page range. You need to keep the language PG-13 and write simple sentences that emphasize clarity above all. Clarity above all is not a bad rule in general though. In fact, it’s worked for Strunk and White enthusiasts for over half a century, and some writers say it’s the basic building block of meaning. WT: When writing a collection do you select a dominant theme for the book or do you just wait to see where it goes? CP: I see where they emerge. Maybe later, when I recognize something, I might aim for a thematically-related piece. I haven’t gone back to see the extent of what is or isn’t typically successful. WT: Are you working on any projects now? CP: Oh yeah. I just finished what I hope is the last draft of my first novel, The Arrival. I’m on a third draft of a slightly longer and very different novel called Simon Krimple’s Wager. I’ve got a lot of poems that still need a lot of work to think about putting together in a larger collection but something's emerging. Meanwhile, I have a collection of poems coming out October 16th from The Wing and the Wheel called The Blue Demon. It’s nice to have that collection finally see the light of day after it had plans with a couple of previous publishers that fell through. Those poems were mostly written and published between 2005 and 2011. WT: Is there a common thread that you might see running through all your work? CP: Not yet. Nothing comes to mind. Someone else will have to tell me. WT: What is your opinion on the state of poetry today? Is it alive and vibrant or is it a suffering art form etc? CP: It’s more vibrant than ever if you take the historic perspective. It’s suffering like much print media in this emergent world of technology and constant distraction, noise, and effluvia. WT: And now that same old question – what inspires you? CP: My family grounds me, which is a kind of quiet inspiration. I always get an unexpected lift from spending time with other writers whether it’s one-on-one, at a conference or festival or reading. Also, I find that I get energized from others’ enthusiasm. When someone is willing to do everything they can to get a book or a small press all the exposure it can possibly get for little or no pay, just out of sheer love and dedication, that inspires me. It may bother me that so much is expected from authors and publishers and writers for so little remuneration, but to find that kind of wellspring of joy and passion, is always rejuvenating.
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Chad Prevost Letter to Dockins from Square Zero Dude, may you surf the world famous Waves off the dunes of Porto Bay De Liberdade. May you trundle To the darkest bleache-blonde Bosomy bartender babe and consume Mojitos like theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going out Of style with the surfer dudes Whose bodies never do. May you crack the hard shell Of a Portuguese woman. May you live In her womb and birth yourself With your own forceps. May you be one of the kids dancing On her round hip. May you tread The riptide thinking mercado, Pescado, Jaoa I, of the Castelo De Sao Jorge, of ruins until nothing Remains but the images you collect Like broken shells. May you awaken To the print of a 1935 escudo Stuck to your cheek in the late Afternoon, and may it not turn To twilight as you stumble through The Bairro Alto looking for her, For anyone, to ask them to leave With you wherever they might Like to go. May the alleys of the empty Duos with their laundry alive On the lines, and half-opened Second-floor windows, remain Out of reach. May the bay smell roll Through and past you. May your soul Remain out there somewhere, Because if it is nothing it can always Be filled. May this dream be the barnacle You crack on the shipâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s side, the wind That luffs your sail. May you leave And never return, or returning Bring it back with you and let others Play on your beaches and glow in your light.
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Letter to Iredell from North Crest Road Dear Jamie, From up here on the ridge With the leaves turning and almost gone You can see how all those Confederates Could fool themselves into believing They could starve out the Union Dudes. It’s hard to imagine What either side was thinking All those 151 years ago When they stormed this ridge. They had to be fighting for reasons Larger than themselves. In 1863 There were no homes here, Just leftover Cherokees and crossbreeds At the Mission. I don’t believe In ghosts like I used to want to, but dude It’s weird to live where all these people died. When we hung the demon From the porch this Halloween, The way it fluttered all night, I admit, Was creepy. But the reality Staring me in the face is a valley With a city that’s more or less Forgotten everything. And that kind Of whitewash relaxes me. I can’t put my finger on it. I’ve been thinking about how We’re all surrounded all the time By images of ourselves. Who are we Performing for, Jamie? It’s just me Staring at myself like my PS3 Avatar, Awesumpossum78, That goes on all these missions Involving apocalypses and survival And the sport of spectacle, Or is it the other way around? I can’t even get my face to stop reflecting In my iPad. I have to read in the dark To keep myself from seeing me When I’m reading The Culture Of Narcissism from 1979. It’s like it’s speaking to me From all those years ago like it’s today, Like I have no historic connection To anything except how much longer I’ve got. Even as I write you here Spotify readjusts my taste profile Because I put thumbs down on Twisted Sister’s 61 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
“We Ain’t Gonna Take it.” In 1988 Maybe I loved that anthem, But maybe right now I’m looking for Something to keep me from being Another pre-conditioned freak, Another set of random chance atoms And neurons firing in pre-determined Directions. What is all this nothing That isn’t there? Our culture breeds This nihilism. Our two-year gray cat, Doug, Disappeared last week. Only one pet made me want to believe In a heaven for animals. Amos Endured me through twelve moves And too many fights and wounds and freezing Nights to count. I can’t remember crying As hard since those two years ago When I had to, you know, Put him down. We all need luck, Genetics and loyalty like that, don’t we? What happens in the future? Amigo, We’ll never know.
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Elegy for the Dead and Dying Runners of America —Missionary Ridge, 2007 For an instant, he was me, the kid In a sweat-soaked tee Stooping in the August heat At mile three. The same kid Who passed me again At mile four. When the final loop Came in sight, I pushed past again, Dizzied as I made the turn, Threw up crossing the line Just as I did most Cross Country races Some twenty years before. I kneeled in the grass Beside the cannonade And the city’s Civil War Casualty totals. Then, a megaphone— Man down! We have a man down! The field blurred red and yellow But I knew I was okay, And prepared to wave away Whoever came. No one did, And soon I stood and walked slow To where the final loop began Where a crowd had gathered. A quiet circle of witnesses, And a circle inside the circle, Praying for a miracle While a volunteer medic Pumped the kid’s chest, his gray tee Torn down the middle. His father slapped his hands, Wake up, John. Wake up. The ambulance arrived Too late, delayed in a tangle Of blocked-off roads and one-ways. The 19-year-old Georgia State Cross Country Captain Had a heart condition No one knew. Only a matter of time, The doctors would say. They hefted him already dead On the stretcher, his mother Not allowed to ride inside, Sprinting to her car, the crowd Dispersing, a circle still staring At the rag and the sweat-soaked spot. A long silence followed 63 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
Until everyone was gone, Until there was only the wind, The trees, the grass and hills, The monuments and mute witnesses.
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The Water They Ran To On some nights on the ridge top As you face the setting sun You can see them storming up Birdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Mill Road, peaking At the top, some running south, Some north. As twilight drew The ones who fled flocked down Shallowford, stumbling toward The Chickamauga Dam. Others Hid, sleeping if they could On a hill in tree shadows As even the sun rose pink, As it still does most days. You follow those roads Like the water they ran to And dream about forgotten souls Who lived here, fishing And dreaming dreams of the sun And moon, the stars in their kingdom, The fish in theirs.
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Imaginary Past The dead go on being dead All our lives, and we only pretend To see them skirting The ridge crest at twilight Shouting orders. We know it’s fireworks From the minor league ballpark, And not really cannons Slipping off late rounds. Those guns are .38s from Kanku’s Mini-Mart and not single-shot Rifles from 1863. No, that’s not even them Plummeting on the wrong side of History’s railroad tracks, Barefoot, half-starved, Stumbling down Shallowford, And resting in the depressions, Surviving, deserting, or Re-gathering at The Chickamauga Dam. Is this even us standing here With the real and imagined past, Living on our hills and in our attics?
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After the Afterlife This makes the sesquentennial but who’s counting? Sometimes you are buried Without even a marker And you are simply another Someone in the earth— Anonymously, unanimously, Suspended in time, And it is really not so astonishing That no one knows where you ended up Because we are all buried and forgotten Somewhere— We live on unclaimed graves—their bones Beneath the surface. The hawk cascades in the ridge breeze. The pock-pock echo From the tennis court. Children Laughing from the pool. To caretake is to take care Of what has come before. The trolley car Spanning the ridge crest now another Narrow road. Sirens chase another Accident. We slide our discs on shuffleboard courts, Keeping score, losing count, Preserving, perservering, Wondering what happens after The afterlife.
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Randy Brown Jr. A Dance with an Out-of-body Experience He shot her twice in the head, stuffed her body in the trunk, parked the car in the garage and burned the house down, imagine that. He was always a punk, a jerk, a coward – protected by his fellow goons at school, who were also punks, jerks, and cowards. They’d never square up against someone in the hallway alone, it was always with the group, and the group initiated most of the trouble. After hearing the news of his girlfriend’s death I was enraged. I’d like to catch him alone. I wouldn’t shoot him, but I’d stun him, catch him by surprise, just like cowards do, and put him in the backseat of the car. When I’d successfully made it in a garage, I’d break the handles off the door and tie his hands up. I’d pour gasoline around the car, and maybe even on him. Before lighting him on fire I’d pause, because I presume that’s what he did before burning her – before shooting her. What made him so possessed to want to kill her? And then I’d probably think about the reality and leave without igniting the gasoline, because I know by then he’d probably already have pissed on himself, and because he’s not worth it, and revenge is not worth it, and taking a life to prove a point is not worth it. As cowardly as he was, I’d take my own life before accepting the repercussions of taking his. It was in that moment that I realized I was wasting my time, watching him receive word that he’d spend the rest of his life behind bars.
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Layra’s Try In the wind, birds played to the tune of melodies from joyful bell towers near and far, in the high lands of Noc Somerstone, the purple sky – the backdrop of Layra’s patio view. She stood at the open entryway, her feet half buried in clay, her hair dancing against the breeze. In the distance she saw a face, eyes, a deceitful grin; clouds often deceived her. Layra’s dreams had no boundaries, and if they did she’d never seen them. Quite possibly the only time she was safe was when she’d drink, smoke, or blackout while sitting with legs tucked beneath her bottom in an office chair at work. What’s the name of that song again? She’d hum a verse from Free Falling in her sleep, or at least that’s what her friends said. But this dream was different. It eluded her every morning, starting with a soft key from the piano, something from her times as a child, running through her grandmother’s basement. The tune only came around once every so often, tickling her fascination, leaving her clicking through online pages for hours on end. And for hours she descended into a hysterical bend of wash media and dystopian stories with the themes “out of luck”, and then she woke up.
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POV of He The town square was rotten, he thought, standing at his window, that it was borderline insane for any of us to think we deserved otherwise, and the youngsters who claimed rebellious in spirits are the insane. It made no difference, he or the youngsters, abiding in the quarter, living in the quarter, ignoring the ignorance of adolescents in the quarter, made him as much a culprit as them, he thought, while standing at his window. It’s all toxic, he thought, while standing at his window, but misaligned. Misdirected was his perspective. From the window he saw… From the window he heard… From the window he presumed that… From the window everything was… From the window it appeared as though… From the window he shouted… From the window he became… a victim of his environment.
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Jennifer Avery Magnet I was indecent free and unfettered, cradled to a wall. I knew a magnet worth risk a homely thing and beauty itself a clash of angry stereotypes and graceful disability. I showed it my back; Positive repelled positive Lightning lit negative. And chained to an endless channel I drift too far to turn.
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Patient for a Pen I fly away on discovered wings without ceremony, thought, or need... I am and I feel This earth is mine Air bends to admit me outside a crowded mind. I linger corporeal, night between my legs, instinct sober in the wake of a little boy's urgency wrapped in man resounding. I wrote him as a fiend; Dorian Gray's bastard son clung to a painted soul, elegant among thorns like a poisoned rose. Now he musters light, masters night - beauty dismissed; Darkness merely mist. This is where we live, souls like ours; outside everything but this world Sunsets and silence in hilarious consternation.
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Wisdom Brings Up the Rear We are a Confederation of head trips The person the pathology, insist itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s who we are The heart and the excuse become the same. Once strong in who now only in what and how to greet the fever. All diagnosed and treated take this and be quiet read this and know how to live Follow us and all will be right. We are our disorder All uniquely alike. Ego became the master Id a way of life, Superego merely shame. Information, information, information All flash and information Knowledge lumbers careless behind Wisdom brings up the rear As we own ourselves with fear. Find peace without chemical Marvel in controlled insanity Overcome, adapt, BE. Balance the equation, Complete the sentence Come out with it, ask the question The world still turns whatever it thinks Correct, learn, CONTINUE.
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M.M.B.G. Jazz 76 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
On The Way Home
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Spencer Connell China But who is to say if for good or for bad, doctor holding up an MRI of my grandmother in front of us and the cancer shining like a thousand small yellow lights. She would lock herself in the bathroom and smoke on the commode if dinner burned. Astronauts say that viewing the world from space gave them a new use of the word empathy. Thousands of small yellow lights that mean life. Advancement. China is especially glowing if the lens of the telescope is thick enough, as thick as the glasses of the doctor holding the clear sheet up to a light and pointing at her lungs.
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Siren There is a siren going off in Eureka at the same time as the old blue ford revs a harmonic guttural tone that vibrates my rocking chair like gravel under the wheels of a bicycle. The Siren could be for a fire or an air raid â&#x20AC;&#x201C; no way to tell without a telephone. So I take a shower quietly, alone in the fog of a strangers wash room, waiting.
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Dancers Before the dancers took their dates by the hand and guided them to the floor, the players fingering their instruments silently, some shuffling paper. I took Angelita and said, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t dace and I am not going to learn now and had watched the torpedo breasted women in their long skirts spin like little german tops on the wooden floor until their dresses would rise for a moment and you could see their panties. There is no definition for fear. Each drink makes us more feral, smoke rising and disappearing. The dancers spin in polished shoes.
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Ending This is the end the broken clouds the cut grass on a north Georgia autumn morning the left over pencil shavings on an authorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s desk the tattered hat that traveled farther then your pair of The Thousand mile boots beside the never clean stained white mug of wood color coffee. Find the old gloves in the kitchen junk drawer that your father wore when he cut down the old pine tree there in the back yard with his breath as white as the silk smoke from a hand rolled cigarette on that ivory morning when you could still hear the neighbors dogs barking before the sun wraps his shadow around them.
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Coffee Stain At five AM I spilled your coffee on my linen shirt while reaching for water on the window sill and you smiled with a thin line of honey light from your bedside lamp laid over your breasts. The lamp is not tall like the sunflower behind glass framed on your wall. At five AM I spilled your coffee on my white linen shirt so I wore my already yellow brass stained undershirt and my mother, no your mother, commented crowingly on my tattoos. The honey light tracing the white wash door to your washroom is the closest halo of faith Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d walk to in these brown orange work boots. I wear a spit stained yellow undershirt all day and walk to the bakery that you work at under the yellow orange parting clouds to buy a second cup of coffee.
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Cockroach Every morning they greeted me, legs up like prostitutes in the shower, eyes spinning from the realization of my entry which they may or may not connect with their heavy-handed boot sole demise – melliferous under its weight. They would scurry in a blazed winged glory or bandits moving like an ambulatory penny flattened by a freight liner, hiding behind mugs and plates, dust bens and pillows. Having lived alone for so long I eventually became numb to the morning boot and shoe. I wondered what others would think of my seven thirty prowling in sleeping attire – often nude under a white linen shirt, with a white soled boot in my right hand dust bin in my left. On any given morning this could take place like coffee and eggs, with coffee and eggs until in the June heat came and the white gown became pasted to my back with children’s glue. It came on like a new transient sleeping in your ditch, a dead cow in a shallow pond, legs protruding from the surface. They began to stink. They would crawl from sink drains and shower-heads. The heat unforgiving. I rolled from the wall to see one on the second pillow, sleeping. No lover to be found. 85 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
Sally McRae Not AmĂŠlie. Daytime: I watched the fish, with a boy of Portuguese descent. They crowded to the water's surface, and mouthed, sullenly. Like theirs, our conversation was no more than a swing of jaws. Heart cracked. Rent by the offer of chirruping beauties along La Rambla. Colour in a cage, song equally constricted. Who places a plumed prisoner in their home? The need to walk alone is always great. Rewarded this time with a gift, oranges upon a tree. Childishly excited, unbound, beaming and exclaiming, with both hands clasped at my chest. In this perfect, joyous moment, mind and heart were garlanded with poignant family readings of "King John's Christmas"; along with plush, deep-green velvet and Christingle candlelight. All unseen, but felt, deeply. Time travel. Begat by vibrant hues emanating from leaves and fruit and light. Sundown and sangria enmeshed. A ritual facilitated by a heavy-handed barman, who plied his trade expertly. Eyes flashing, holding. Just. Long. Enough. Tobacco and tapas the vernacular. Stubby, stained fingers, never destined to grace mine. 2nd time: 86 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
Strong, single and determined, I searched out an art-house cinema and used the intricately mosaiced gents. Apparently more striking than the film -- how very avant-garde. Outside, there were hundreds of steps, with a balustrade ripe for boarding. I weaved up one side, swinging to the other, absorbing the planes through my hand -- the curlicue finish a sensory delight. I inhaled galleries, ambitious architecture, and Amyl. Audaciously, I rode alone in cabs to 5am starters (the secret clubs for those invited). A simple door hiding so much more. We raged in the depravation, totally on the edge of sense. Given away, you found yourself, whilst cloaked in anonymity. We embraced the day astride the lizards of Park GĂźell and got lost in its cobbled curves, hugged in and sheltered from the scorching Spanish sun. Allowing us to nurse our nocturnal excess into submission. I insisted you visit the monastery and stand to bask in the magnificence of the Canaletto cloistered there. Hoping the subtle colours would improve your milk bottle complexion if only by a raise in heart rate.
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The mercury in Calder's fountain held no magic for you, thinking only of thermometers and not quicksilver or flow, cycles or alchemy. How could you not spin it out to a wider ken? A writer? A writer who doesn't drink it all in and spin, and spin. Allowing the growth within to transmute. The profound and fundamental riches achieved destined to be released and received. A golden gift, not to be retained.
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More Than Final Thoughts. A letter from the grave littered with affection for his darling girl. Romantic ramblings riven with medicinal flourishes. Quite arcane. Her fingers follow the script that his soul laid there, her hands cold and trembling. Time stands still. Irrelevant. The world falls away, her mind struggles. Comprehension is elusive. A triumphant ambush. How, and why now? The distance had been mutually agreed. The years proved their valor. This final hand unpicks reality. Not fair, not fair. She was only hanging by fine threads. Not there... His proclamations can only be received. Neither protestation nor confirmation may be returned. Leaving time and space for the worst â&#x20AC;&#x201C; what might have been. Well played, well played.
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You're only human. With shining eyes, I told a man once that I would stop doing something if it no longer excited me. We were walking in the grounds of a small country estate. The land was flat and bland. I'd planned it. Penned a letter; professional, grateful, to be read, later. Would my detachment be discerned? I'd excised him from the gaggle, with a direct tone. My abruptness unfamiliar to their ears. Their wide-eyeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s resembled rabbits caught in the glare of headlights before certain impact. We walked; he had no clue that my line had long since been crossed. His micro-focus facilitating oblivion. I was already gone, triumphant, free. His heavy heart made his body sag. The game was up, no effort left for pretence. So heavy, he appeared to create a channel in the earth as he walked. So small. At the side-door came the hug. A final falsehood, distasteful â&#x20AC;&#x201C; "I can not take you with me". The tears surprised me, but at least they washed me clean.
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C & R Press
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Chani Zwibel MARTHA Stares up at me from the magazine page, with perfect cakes And I lean in off the crapper and stare back at her “The only thing around here getting baked is me,” I think, and smile to myself, thinking contentedly, That is not my life, no fifties housewife.
THE FALL OF Already crumbling Already ruins Temples to our god, money: Stores and car lots People stacked like dominoes; Don’t push each other.
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RIDING MARTA IN THE RAIN Waiting in the rain for the bus, and finally I see it, the limping mechanical brontosaurus, with its giant, beastly head crowned in vibrant, glowing letters. The ocean-bottom dark morning, cars like fish with electric lights for eyes, freakish neon antennae in the cold depths. Inside the steel-ribbed belly of the grumbling leviathan, a mermaid’s accent-absent voice speaks to me about depleting sources of sea grass. Through the greasy port-hole windows punched along the bus-beast’s side, shopping centers slump in the dark, wet rocks and melted sandcastles. I notice a drowning man. He looks at me with these hungry, junkie eyes, starving not for food, but famished for death, craving always the needle’s sugar-tipped kiss, wanting the silver-clouded dream, more, desperately more, than rusty red-hued earth, than golden-rosy winter morning sky. His bones are weakly concealed in skinny, faded jeans and two layers of sweaters, his skeleton feet hidden in cheap, high-tipped tennis shoes, the laces grey with concrete dust. He stares, his eyes more hollow, than a whale carcass picked clean, long ago chewed away by sharp little teeth and heavy jaws, the scouring-away of scavengers. Outside, where his eyes in their milky sheen seek telescopic sight through the dirty windows, brittle ice crystals shimmer.
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BURIED Our house was so full of confused people who seemed to be everywhere I wanted to go and be alone. If I could make them go away maybe I could forget why they were there, cramming into spaces previously occupied by a complete familya father, a mother, two daughters. Now we were forever less than whole and who would take care of us? Not the neighbors who came with casseroles in all assortments and flavors, the smell of broccoli and cabbage in glass dishes wrapped in tin foil and sympathy, various clumps of noodles in thick sauces that would keep if refrigerated. Women with pinched, red faces and too much oriental perfume hugged me too tightly and told me Jesus loved me. Men who looked obviously anxious not wearing oil-stained jeans didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what to do, where to put their baseball hats. Mom let me drink a cup of coffee so hot it needed an ice cube and the ice cracked down the middle, a tiny gunshot in a scalding ceramic cup. The ashy taste of caffeine and adulthood burned my tongue. At the funeral home, the carpet, the walls, even the hearse, were washed-out puke-stain green. My slim cousin from Virginia Beach chain-smoked Virginia Slims, her tiger-claw fake orange nails distracting me from the room where my fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coffin, a rigid grey-silk lined bed full of flowers and cards held him irrevocably still, hands folded, eyes closed flat and formless, spirit vanished. 95 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
HOMESICK Pictures of my sister and my cousin and my grandparents make my heart float out, like a cloud, Going away and then coming back in, growing larger so the prophet’s servant sees it growing, and god or the storm is coming, My heart goes out like that cloud, and rolls into green hills around brown rivers, land and people having known the flux and fall of coal, steel, credit, war, dreams caught in the cheap fabric of the housewife’s dress that cloud flattens like a down-filled blanket, only it is full of rain, and that rain is my sadness, not my tears but liquid depression, a too-long-steeped tea. The cloud flattens and stays, it stays low over river’s cliffs for days. Then it rains, The rain is smoke; smoke is the rain. And gasoline fumes and ozone and headache and hell, The rain is only the chemicals we give it. Or didn’t I say it was my sadness? Anyway it doesn’t matter because what I yearn for are not so much the sacred spaces of my youth, but the creatures most like me, who share my DNA, my humor, my name, the brown eyes of a father long gone from the living.
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House of Brooks The old man stood Peering over worn pastures Altered with time Nurtured by sweat He holds the world On his back Burdens seldom share the same air With complaints. Southern to the core, His Palace always an offering For kindred Souls Seeking refuge It is a kingdom Of history A lasting oasis of Nostalgia and heritage. Large verandas lay in wait Home to hand fashioned Rockers, unintereseted in Providing less than escape Ornate state rooms above Keep facades Diverting attention to the carousal below Stone and wood hold secrets Winding trails offer discovery Bearing new witness Through forests Whose memory is ancient He reveals his holdings Detailing efforts Born by few Producing such bounty He is master To a garden of ghosts Residing in a Bicentennial safe haven A war of brothers, depression, And new deals lie in shadows This sacred place 99 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
Stands in glory Surely, All roads must lead To the Big House Stars point, the moon nods; This is home
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Holly Holt The Long and Short of Sorrow Bessie Curtis always had a million ideas and a million questions. Even as a child, she would never run out of anything to say. Her older sister, Rachel, would try to appease her, but not even she had all of the answers, so she would ask Bessie to ask their father. Since he was always busy, and ornery more often than not, Bessie learned quickly to keep her ideas and questions to herself. Of course, learning how to read also helped, but she longed for a conversation with someone who wouldn’t shut her down. So, she daydreamed about a mother she could barely remember, who had a fondness for making dandelion crowns for her daughters while her husband played the violin. As the Curtis farm spanned almost two-dozen acres, and Captain Thomas Curtis (Bessie’s father, who served in the Civil War) trusted nary a soul, they were always short a hand or two. Even though Bessie’s younger brother, Ronny, was old enough to help, he was mentally slow, so Bessie took his place helping her father. She didn’t mind manual labor, because it gave her free time to think about something else, while falling into her routine. After doing all of these chores, she went indoors and cooked and cleaned and took care of her brother, then spent an hour to herself, writing. For a few years, Rachel had seen to the cooking and cleaning, until she ran off with the town blacksmith’s son when she was twenty-one. Bessie knew what Rachel was going to do before she did it, although she never told their father. For years afterward, he would rant about why she left, before settling back into his rocking chair in front of the fire, reading the Bible. He didn’t know the reason his oldest daughter left, but Bessie did: Rachel didn’t want to spend her life here, taking care of Ronny, and suffer through being an old maid because her father chased everyone away. No matter how often Bessie told her, “He didn’t used to be this way,” Rachel wasn’t one for believing he could go back. Ever light-hearted, Bessie told her that final night, “Follow your heart” before rolling onto her side and slipping into sleep. She woke up briefly during the night to feel Rachel kiss her forehead, 104 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
then hours later to hear her father demanding to know where Rachel was. Bessie, groggy, stated, “I don’t know.” He told her to go to town, look for the blacksmith; yet, when she did, she learned they’d left—heading to California. Needless to say, her father wasn’t thrilled at the news. Bessie hadn’t heard from Rachel going on a decade when she received a letter that said she was coming back. Although Bessie wanted to tell her father, “She didn’t marry the blacksmith’s son after all,” she decided against it. Rachel had merely taken the trip offered by the blacksmith and his son to California, where she started making a name for herself through her cookbook. Bessie smiled at this, remembering a time when she told her oldest sister that she could make a fortune on her recipes. The fact she acted on it? Priceless! Rachel explained that she had someone in tow who she wanted Bessie to meet, but didn’t say why, or who this person was. Bessie didn’t think much of it, because her mind was—once again—filling with a million thoughts, a million questions. “You will have nothing to do with her while you’re in my house!” Thomas bellowed. Ronny laughed. He had recently taken to doing that when their father got upset about something. He would sway from side to side, smiling, while their father’s face grew redder and redder. Ronny couldn’t help it, just as he couldn’t help the fact he’d been born slow, and never knew his mother’s touch. Like her youngest daughter, Shannon was born small; yet, contrary to Bessie, she’d also been born weak—and delivering Ronny, who had been an enormous baby, took a toll on her. She died moments after Ronny was born. Though his cry had been the last sound she heard, she never got the chance to hold him. Because of this, Bessie did her best to remain gentle with him. “Father, calm yourself,” Bessie urged, folding the letter back up. Time and time again, the doctor had told Thomas not to let something upset him so quickly, because his heart was failing, and that he would die if he didn’t keep calm. Ronny had proceeded to parrot “die, die, die” while the doctor spoke with Bessie, “He didn’t use to be that way, poor devil. Ever since Shannon died....” Bessie knew how gentle Doc Peters was, that he was always trying to
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make light of Thomas’s rage, and that he’d used the story of the sweet mother to try explaining her father’s outbursts. She merely placed her hand on his shoulder and nodded. Listening to Ronny parroting the same word again only made her wish that he was here now, to speak with her father, and force feed the man some semblance of reason. Instead, her father picked up the Bible and started reading, which was his way of saying he didn’t want to hear another word. Instead of doing what he asked, Bessie took Ronny to town the next day, telling her father that she was going to sale some eggs to the merchantile store, which they’d been told during church service Sunday was going to be under new management. Here it was, Thursday, the day Rachel was going to be in town, and Bessie was surprised that her father had been so accepting of her lie, which she thought was a bad one. After all, the chickens hadn’t been laying much lately, which her father stated as a “good riddance” because he didn’t like eggs and new management even less. Bessie realized that he didn’t have a reason to doubt her intentions, as she’d never lied to him before, and that she was playing with fire by being sneaky. Still, she was almost thirty and hadn’t seen her sister in a decade. Her intentions were good. Why did she feel so bad? When she pulled the buggy up in front of the merchantile store, she glanced around the busy streets, looking for the familiar (or not so familiar) face of her sister. She put on the brake, stepped down, and walked over to help Ronny off the seat. Still looking around, she walked into the merchantile store—and saw the face, and (albeit fuller) figure of her sister . . . behind the counter, helping out customers. “Candy?” “Quiet, Ronny,” she whispered, feeling like the eggs in the basket she carried on her arm weighed a ton. She approached the counter, inch by inch, which felt like mile by mile, as each customer was taken care of by the smiling brunette she could barely recognize as her sister. When she placed the basket on the counter, tears started streaming down her face. “Rachel, is that really you?”
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Rachel looked at her younger sister, then set free similar waterworks. She rushed out from behind the counter, meeting Bessie halfway, and they embraced. Bessie inhaled the feminine, vanilla fragrance of her sister; while the dirt and handmade soap that hardly covered the stench of farm living assaulted Rachel’s nose. In that moment, scent wasn’t what mattered, but the fact they were reunited after being so long apart. Rachel approached Ronny, who didn’t recognize her, but she hugged him just the same. He smiled like he’d won a prize at the fair. Rachel wrapped her arm around Bessie’s waist, then started walking beside the fabric tables towards a high shelf that sagged from holding canned food, “My, you’re so skinny!” Bessie looked her up and down, “You’re so . . . endowed.” “That’s one way of putting it,” she laughed. “I’ve always been envious of your hair,” Bessie stated. Their mother had been a brunette. It was the only feature that Bessie couldn’t claim as her own, as fate had given her flat, pale blond hair like their father. As if suddenly realizing they were walking, Bessie asked, “Where are you taking me?” “What’s the matter? Scared?” Rachel teased. “I promise I’m not going to lead you into danger. There’s someone I want you to meet.” “Ronny—” “He’s fine. This will only take a second. Relax.” Rachel led Bessie towards a backroom beyond the shelf of cans. Without knocking, Rachel turned the doorknob and walked inside, where a man smoking a cigar was sitting at a desk, hunched over a pile of papers, looking completely flummoxed. As the merchantile store was the first store people came to when they approached from the north, the only window behind him looked out into the wild, open prairie. For a second, Bessie looked out, thinking about her father. “Give those nerves of yours a rest, Bessie,” Rachel said, meeting her sister’s eyes briefly, before letting her loose. The oldest sister walked towards the man, who didn’t look up until Rachel was standing beside him. She ran her hands through his dark hair, then plucked the cigar out of his mouth 107 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
before extinguishing it in a marble ashtray. They shared an intimate moment of glances that Bessie felt embarrassed to watch, before Rachel turned to look at her. “Darling, there’s someone I want you to meet.” The man turned. His dark gaze settled on Bessie, followed by a gravelly voice that said, merely, “Hello. You must be the author.” “The author?” “He has been encouraging me to publish something besides a cookbook. I showed him a few stories, poems, and he said, ‘You should really consider becoming a full-fledged author.’ I’ve told him time and time again that I’m not an author. He finally posed the question of, ‘Who is?’ My mind turned to you before I ever stated, ‘My sister.’ Being the curious devil he is, he became very interested in meeting you.” “How does that explain your buying the merchantile store?” “Every author has a day job, and I’ve always loved this place,” she shrugged. “Buying this place makes for a good business prospect, because everyone would have to travel all the way to Bear Creek, which is a good thirty-five mile ride, to pick up supplies. Besides, it’s the only way I know to guarantee I’ll get to see you—because father might be short-tempered, but he’s no fool when it comes to money. Since I know you’re never going to leave him, well, this seemed the best decision.” “Clever,” Bessie smiled. “I’ve had some great teachers—two of which are in this room. Now, you” Rachel wagged her finger at Bessie “stop ignoring the fact I haven’t properly introduced the two of you.” The man stood. Bessie realized that he was taller than she thought he’d be. As she’d always been skinny and shorter than Rachel (who was an inch or two more than their father), she didn’t know best how to react to this giant. She began wishing that he would sit back down, but he approached and she knew that her wish wasn’t going to be granted. Rachel, no doubt sensing her
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sister’s panic, approached and made the introductions, “Mark Pembley, this is my sister, Elizabeth Curtis, but everyone calls her Bessie. Bessie, Mark; Mark, Bessie.” Bessie extended her hand, which could have been swallowed whole by Mark’s hand if it was a mouth. Although his handshake was gentle, she could feel the roughness of it, which surprised her. She had judged him by how he dressed—very elegant, polished, without a speck of dirt on him—and thought his hands would be soft, but they weren’t. Staring him in the eye, she wondered about his profession, but didn’t say anything. As she didn’t know people as well as she did animals, she couldn’t read his expression well, only that there was something like a wild stallion prepared to burst forth from his level gaze. How long could this be held back? Why did he restrain it in the first place? “I’m sure you have to be getting on your way. Father is probably timing you,” Rachel stated. Mark released Bessie’s hand, and she stared away from him, back to her sister. They left the room and wandered back to the counter, where Ronny was staring at the candy. Rachel retrieved a piece of pepperment from the glass jar, and was happy to find out that the striped sweet was still Ronny’s favorite. Watching him lick away at the red and white, Bessie tried to make the right decision about Rachel’s return and Mark’s presence, while the phrase “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” fluttered around in her mind. Before she could open her mouth to say anything, Rachel, who had been watching her younger sister, said, “I’m guessing father’ll need to hear the truth about me, so you don’t feel it too heavily on your conscience. Tell him the truth. Tell him I’m in charge of the merchantile store. Let’s see what Bible verse he’ll turn to and calm down reading this time, after he babbles about how wicked I am.” Bessie nodded absently, which prompted Rachel to hug her again, and whisper into her younger sister’s hair, “I know you have a million questions about what I’ve been up to. I’ll give you some answers, I promise . . . just not today. Come back tomorrow, if you can, ok? I’ve missed you.” After Rachel gave Bessie a final squeeze, Bessie led her brother back outside—only to find Mark standing beside the buggy, with the reins of his eighteen-hand black stallion strapped to the back. 109 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
How did he get out here without her noticing? She remembered the side door, then let the image of him moving like smoke leave her mind. “Get in the back, big guy,” Mark directed. Because he was used to following orders (needless to say orders from Mark, who was a mountain of a man), the gangly Ronny didn’t hesitate. He extended a black-leather gloved hand to Bessie, along with a dashing pearly white smile, no doubt wanting to help her get into the buggy. “I can get in myself,” she stated. “I’m sure you can,” he said, not taking his hand back. Surrendering, she took it and he helped her up, before getting in himself and grabbing hold of the reins. He smiled at her, “See? That wasn’t too hard, was it?” then uttered a wild command that made the two sorrel get into gear. They moved in silence, listening to the horses’ steady trot, and Ronny’s incessant candy licking in the back. When Mark spoke, he caused Bessie to jump, “Sorry. This silence is driving me crazy. What’s on your mind?” “Excuse me if this seems rude, but: Why should I tell you?” “I’m sure you’d probably prefer telling someone else, but—since the horses can’t talk and your brother’s going wild over his candy like a cowhand in a brothel—I’m all you’ve got right now.” “You have no control over what you say, do you?” “I don’t. You shouldn’t, either.” “I’m a lady.” “Ladies can express themselves too, you know? Your sister uses swear words on the regular.” “I’d prefer a vocabulary rich in meaning, thanks.” “To hell with that! See? There’s meaning for you. Hell is chock full of meaning: the place you go when you have a bad, bad soul.” “Do you know from experience?”
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Mark fell silent. Although Bessie felt bad for asking, her mind turned to what her homelife would be like when she arrived back. As Rachel predicted, their father was furious that she’d taken over the merchantile store. He ranted until he was red not only in his face, but down his neck, with veins popping up in protest. He read the Bible most of the night—a record for him, as he was often a busy man, especially during warm weather. The next day, Mark showed up in a chaise wagon, pulled by his snorting black steed. Since her father left with Ronny and a few friends that morning to go on a two-day hunting trip, Bessie was the only one on the farm. She had disagreed with her father about letting him take Ronny along, as she did every year, and ended up with a powerful headache. She was sitting at her desk in the upstairs loft, writing and trying to get over her pain, when she heard a knock on the door. Since she rarely received any visitors, she approached with caution, picking up the rifle resting in the corner by the front door— where her father’s violin used to be, until he broke it one night during a passionate fit. When she opened the door, Mark removed his hat and stared down at her, smiling at the barrel of the gun, “Good morning to you, too.” “What are you doing here?” “Still no ‘good morning,’” he said, solemnly lowering his head. “According to your sister, you’re supposed to be the sweet, Christian pixie.” “I have a headache.” “Well, if my presence gets on your nerves that much—” he started, then turned to go. “Not because of you,” she said and rolled her eyes. He looked back at her and smiled again, “Well, that’s a better start.” “Why are you here?” “Well, your sister wants to see you.” “Why didn’t she come with you?”
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“You know, being the new owner of an establishment isn’t all gold, silver, and happy faces. She wants to see you for lunch, though.” “It’s only nine o’clock—” “Oh, well,” he said and floundered for another reason to get her out of the house, “she could always do with an extra hand. The more hands on a job, the quicker it gets done.” “—and the town isn’t but an hour’s walk.” “So, you’re planning to walk?” he asked, confused. “My father and brother took the sorrels,” she explained. “I’m sure you’re aware they went on a two-day hunting trip. Most of the men do, if just to get away from the womenfolk. I’m surprised you didn’t tag along.” “Why, because I’m a man?” “Well, yeah,” she said, the rifle feeling heavier the longer she held it. She rested the butt end of it on her hip while staring towards the black stallion stomping impatiently mere feet from her door. She felt his hold on the rifle before she saw his hand wrapped around the barrel. “Some men do a different kind of hunting.” Her brow furrowed. “What do you mean?” “My, you are chaste!” he said and gingerly took the gun from her, then put it back in its place. He saw that her confusion had doubled, so proceeded to tease her, “Don’t worry—I’m not hunting pixies.” Without waiting for her response, he turned, smiling, and started walking off, “Come on, let’s go to town, and get you away from all of this.” “What, my home? Hey, wait a minute—does she want me to work, or does she—” He stopped and looked back at her. “Does it matter?” He tilted his head curiously, before softly probing, “What are you so afraid of? Or should I say who?” Bessie’s mind turned to her father. If he found out, he’d have a fit! How much more could his heart take? She doubted her nerves could withstand another assault, especially after experiencing the 112 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
stubborn one from this morning. Since she didn’t want to reveal her emotions to Mark, she reasoned that the men would be away for two days, which gave her more than enough time to go into and out of town. Besides, ten years was a lot to catch up on. She excused herself, saying, “Let me put away my writing. I’ll be—” “Bring it with you.” “With me?” He nodded, then resumed his walk towards the chaise. She went back to the loft and gathered up her writing material, placed it in its familiar case, and was about to put it back in its place. With a shrug, she decided to bring it with her, and left the house without looking back. When she sat beside Mark, he smiled at her briefly, then urged his stallion on. Bessie spent most of the day in her sister’s company, which included Mark’s presence. The sisters shared memories and writings, while Mark entertained them with his travels abroad—using voices for the many different dialects. They planned a picnic for the following day, because they had faith the weather wasn’t going to change. When Mark arrived at the Curtis farm the next day, Bessie was more willing to come with him, and more eager to talk. However, when they arrived in town, Rachel was swamped with business—and the weather was about to make a turn for the worst. With strands of her dark hair sticking up wildly, Rachel apologized, “I’m sorry.” “I can help.” “How will you get home before father does?” Rachel asked. She took her sister’s silence as an answer of surrender. “Mark, do you mind—” “I don’t know, Rachel . . . this weather . . .” he started, then met Bessie’s eyes. He knew that she was terrified, and briefly imagined ripping her father to pieces for the shadows he brought into her heart, before stating, “I’d be obliged.” They stepped back out into the ferocious wind. Bessie looked to the sky, and saw that the dark clouds were coming from the north—where the Curtis farm was located. A strong wind ripped against 113 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
her, almost knocking her over, but Mark proved a shield. He waited until she was safely in the chaise until he got in himself. Hardly a mile out of town, the wind knocked a tree branch into the road, and made the stallion rear up for a horrific minute. Mark uttered ,“Woah. Woah. Easy,” until he calmed back down. As if on cue with the ongoing chaos, lightning struck nearby, which spurred the stallion to act erratically. The startled beast raced off, with Mark unable to exude his authority no matter how tightly he pulled back on the reins. In his panic, the horse ran to his right, away from the lightning. He toppled down a hillside into a vicious river, with the chaise and its passengers following after him. Mark’s side of the chaise suffered the least damage, as the horse’s right-veering weight caused the chaise to fall in that direction. He jumped and rolled violently down the hill. Bessie, on the other hand, had no hope of escape. Her right arm was caught between the ground and the top of the chaise, which saved the rest of her body from being pulled apart. The horse broke his front legs when he landed in the water, couldn’t stand, so submitted futilely to the water. Wondering if she even had an arm left, Bessie slipped into oblivion, feeling her dress grow wet as the river pulled her slowly under. *** “Bessie? Bessie?” Oblivion didn’t last long. Mark had carried her lifeless body from the wreckage and shot his horse to ease his suffering. Bessie tried to open her eyes and look at him, but the storm was still going on around them, and there was no light to be found. She tried to move her right arm, but felt pain shoot through her and screamed. The entire right side of her body felt like it was on fire. “We can’t stay here. You need a doctor.” Mark’s voice seemed far away, but his touch was enough to make her scream again. Pitifully, he said, “I’m so sorry.” He carried her back up the road, feeling her writhe with pain in his arms, while blood spewed from a gash on his forehead. He fought himself to stay awake. “I know the doctor here is a good one. Your sister told me that he delivered her, you, and your brother. Would you like to know how I met your sister?” Though he 114 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
didn’t feel happiness, he smiled, as memories sometimes have the ability to place the person back then, when it happened, instead of during the present. He wanted to think about any time except the present. “Three years ago, we met on a train going from San Fran to Carson City. She was sitting by herself, writing. As I’ve always been drawn to a pretty face, we spent most of the trip together, with me quoting Shakespeare, and she sharing some of her work. She sensed that there was something about me I wasn’t telling. She was right, but I didn’t let on much at first and said, ‘Yes, I write, if you must know.’ She looked at me and said, ‘No. There’s something more.’ “You see, I used to be a hired gun. I’m not sure what gave this away, and she didn’t reveal how she knew. She asked me if I’d like to start over. We’ve been together ever since, but not in the way that you think. I became her family; and she became mine. Still, I knew there was someone more in her past, and that person was you.” For the next ten minutes, Mark talked about anything he could think about, until he set foot on a forked road beside a large oak tree. He realized it, even in his blinding pain and growing worry: one road led to town; the other led to Doc Peters’ enchanting white home, which was surrounded in blue flowers that Mark could only think smelled like victory. He couldn’t let himself think the doctor wouldn’t be home—not when Bessie’s life was at stake. He told her, “We’re almost there. Stay with me.” When they reached the front door, Mark kicked it with his muddied boot until Mrs. Peters answered, with a shocked, “Oh, my!” at seeing the damaged, bleeding fighter in his arms. “Is he home?” Mark pleaded. Mrs. Peters nodded, which filled him with so much happiness he cried. Holding a lantern, she ushered him to a room at the back of the house, which had been fixed up years ago for occasions where the doctor received visits from wounded passersby. Despite being wounded himself, Mark helped Doc Peters tend to Bessie throughout the night, while the storm raged around them. Even 115 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
when there was nothing further they could do, Mark sat across from her, watching her face by lantern light, whose radiance weakened as the world outside eased into a solemn, albeit bright, sunrise. The first word that Bessie uttered when she stirred was an almost inaudible, “Father.” Mark approached her bedside. Doc Peters, who was dozing in a chair nearby, opened his eyes and followed suit. He bent over her and said, “What’s that?” “Fah-ther,” she managed again. “Do you want to see him?” Bessie shook her head, tears formed and fell, “Not ... like this. He’ll be... angry.” She pursed her chapped lips together, which prompted Mark to action. He went across the room, again fighting the rage he wanted to unleash on a man he’d never met. He poured some water from a pitcher into a small glass, then wet her lips, before gently lifting her head so she could take a deep draught. She tried opening her mouth to say thank you, but he shook his head, silently telling her that wasn’t needed. In that moment, she felt the bandages cushioning her right side, and realized what the night had taken from her: all but a stub of her right arm. She wailed, but was unable to move her left arm, to stifle the rasping tremble, without causing spasms of pain to dart all across her body. Mark’s silent consolation came from carressing her face, bending over to softly kiss her forehead over and over and over, then drying her eyes when her sorrow temporarily passed. He stood to his full height, not letting his contact break with her completely as he continued running his thumb across her forehead. “Rachel,” she managed. Mark exchanged a glance with the doctor, who gave him full consent. He would have stopped the world from turning to please her, but realized he was still a stranger to her, and all she really wanted was someone near who she wouldn’t regret tearing apart in front of later, when her world righted itself. Kissing her forehead, he whispered slowly, “Rest. I’ll be back soon. Rest.” The doctor let Mark borrow his old bay mare and buggy. He thought about Bessie all the way to town, and barely managed to explain his urgency to Rachel, except to say that there was an accident 116 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
and that she was needed right away. Mark spent the ride staring off absently, his mind drifting from controlling his fury to managing his muscles, which wanted only to rush back to Bessie’s side. Because of his silence, the oldest sister didn’t know the full extent of damage until she rushed into the doctor’s house, and to the back room, where Bessie had slipped back to sleep. The doctor stepped up to her before she could emotionally react, which would have been somewhere between a scream and a sob, and led her into his study, where he asked her to sit down and offered her a brandy. Mark, still silent, paused briefly in the doorway, before stepping in and sitting beside Rachel, who had already downed her brandy. “Her recovery is going to be tough, but it will be a whole lot tougher if she’s placed under any stress—and I know you’re both aware of who I am talking about,” Doc Peters stated, handing Mark a brandy, and keeping a glass for himself. The couch’s occupants stared at each other, then looked to their elder, before agreeing Thomas Curtis wouldn’t find out about Bessie until she got her strength back. Since they knew he would look for her in town, Rachel started spreading a rumor that she’d taken an interest in pursuing her writing career and headed out to California with Mark. While, in fact, he had helped her move into another house owned by Doc Peters, who guaranteed no one would think to look for them there. They lived there comfortably, peacefully, amidst the pines and the hungry forest, for nearly six months without a disturbance from anyone, except a bear or two passing by. Rachel would visit every few weeks with supplies, and reveled in how close her sister and Mark were becoming. She realized they needed each other’s strength—her, to have his laugh and tender touch to heal her wounds, which were more than skin deep; him, to allow her grace and understanding calm his anger and bury his past. What’s more—they wrote! Through gentle but firm instruction, Mark taught Bessie to write with her left hand. As Rachel was their only audience, they entertained her for hours through verse that lilted like a summer breeze, yet humbled the heart in ways the universe does when seen through
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treetops. On the night of her last undisturbed visit, she realized their truth: they were happy; they were healed; they were home. On a morning in winter, when the ground was heavy and white with snow, Thomas Curtis’s sorrel pair stomped through the cold and stopped in front of the house that held his deserter of a daughter. Ronny, without the control of his sister, had been allowed to roam free. The night before, he had hunkered down in Rachel’s wagon, tucked in with the flour and canned food, intent at first on playing a game. His father had polluted him against Bessie, but he liked Rachel because she was always giving him free candy. When he grew tired of waiting and stepped out to relieve himself, he saw the three of them standing on the porch—and, with a tremble, thought about his father, who had almost died in town during an outraged meeting with Rachel. “Bessie is bad blood! Bad blood! You mark my words—she’ll be dead before too long!” he’d prophesied. After Mark unloaded the wagon, Ronny got back in and hid, muttering to himself, “Bessie ... bad. Bessie ... bad.” Although Ronny hadn’t told his father, the fact alone that he kept muttering about her told him that his son had seen something; so, as gently as he could, Thomas pulled it out of him— and that’s what led them here. Thomas told his son, who was trembling more violently than the weather called for, “Stay here.” He jumped off, then stomped through the snow towards the house, but didn’t get halfway when he saw his daughter emerge, dressed for her early morning walk in a plaid dress and shoulder cape, which barred his view of her severed arm. She saw him and her cheer fell away. He glared at her, “California, is it?” “Hello, father,” she said, circling her waist with her good arm. Noticing her brother, a few tears escaped her eyes and she shouted, “Good morning, Ronny.” “Tears won’t help you, you no-good child.” 118 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
“They won’t,” Mark said, opening the door behind her, “but I will.” Thomas stopped advancing and his eyes widened. Mark, well aware of how a coward thought, watched the older man’s expression change from predator to prey, before settling on a sneer, “So, you’re living in sin, are you?” Mark’s hand rested on her right shoulder, which would never connect to an arm again. She turned and met his eyes, and briefly relived the horrific night six months ago, when she had to rush home—or suffer her father’s wrath, for fear his heart would fail. After offering Mark a smile, she stepped forward, away from him, no longer afraid of the man she’d heard rave her entire life. Looking into his old eyes, she knew he hadn’t expected her to approach. Without flinching, she spoke softly, as if the wind had taken control of her voice, “Leave.” “You have no right to tell me—” The girl with a million questions and a million thoughts began the short statement that had been simmering within her heart, “I’ll always love you, father, but I won’t torment myself trying to make you understand me. You’ve never cared to. I don’t expect you to change. I don’t need you to. Rachel doesn’t need you to. We don’t need you, period. It is you who has always needed us, because you’re afraid of dying alone. We—none of us,” she glanced at Ronny, “are to blame for mother’s death. She fought to give us life and loved us all. I’m certain she’d want us to live without fear, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m living my life, father. The only sin being committed is by you, by spiting your own blood because we don’t want to be slaves to the past. Just ... leave, father. Go home. Read the Bible, rave until your heart bursts, but just leave me alone. I’m happy here. This is my home. I am not a child. I am a woman. This is my decision.” Bessie took a deep breath, and was turning to walk away, when her father lunged at her and grabbed her arms. She looked at him, startled, and watched it dawn on him what happened to her. Mark had bounded down the steps, forced Thomas to release his daughter, then delivered a solid blow to the old captain’s jaw. Before his attack could go further, Bessie intervened with a gentle touch to 119 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
Mark’s chest, coupled with an expression that eased his temper. She knelt beside her father in the snow, who met her eyes briefly, then started sobbing. “I didn’t know. I didn’t know. God forgive me. I didn’t know,” he wailed openly. Stroking her father’s thinning hair, Bessie watched Ronny approach, gathering up his father’s hat and staring at it, tears that he couldn’t understand sliding down his own face. Bessie felt a thick sob form in her throat. At the touch of Mark’s hand, once again, on her shoulder, she released her agony and sorrow.
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Peter Ristuccia Little Sister
I remember she was young young as I remember she wailed and wailed Through all the pale gray sheet metal pounded days my blood, blood of my kind common waters with salt and mortal iron Gave wild wide horse eyes rampant and calls that called all around with knives jagged and curved frottage scrubbed child crayon designs The days got long and then got longer the times behind the falls the stars and the clocks turn lights in the unsounded depths of the black ocean sky Empty houses piled with shards, stray wandering books broken walls that peel and turned the slake old holiday trees with no one to hang during the end of the world and the time between times of ending and beginning from that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve walked to find hands of mercy and hands of judgment the laws blood gives to all its inheritors From the end of the world to the end of the world some of us make it and some of us do not Boy When I was a boy I found I had another name kept secret along my life just beneath skins when the times of migration change the color of furs the name not a tale told but become in the city around sword and fire dances and the swollen ochre moons of the whickering nights scented with raw milk made holy by scythe wielding women shadowed in molten silver beneath tabernacles of wild leafless trees that straddle the worlds where men meet the gods amid precincts of stars that never fail and wheels turning free the holds of the storms above the un-girdled earth whose dragon murmurs happy lamentations with liturgical tongueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s flicker When I was a boy I found I had another name that kept secret along my life feral the lope of wolves that chased the world upon its revolving circuit in the lilted choirs of naked faced and mantled youth vestured as to their walk with fire shedding hallowed torches clasped in hand while keeping the time of lines with closed silent mouths and solemn shut eyes wandering the twelve hours of the night as the wild hunt raced across the blazing sky in the trains of men who have spirals gyred in them When I was a boy I found I had another name kept secret unshriven the theft of fire and wine dark verse work sacred the libations stolen from angelic watchers in the mountains blue ranges to the crucified cities wicked of men in the oiled chains of the iron ages dreaming the ends empyrean absolute where free visions lawless gave tomorrow purchase and living the farther ways myrrh scented the same glyphs of my youth that was so named for halcyons from days before the lands rose from the sea
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The Sword in the Stone Forged of forgotten alloys, steel impaled in the spine of the world Upon the steeple of ley lines
Dreaming science the secret name secrets told Carved in the
the theft of fire stolen from titan libations of the sun before crucified mountains watchmen of the griffin haunted cerulean range to the
The secret name-the madness of youth lets a boy be a man when he is a man 122 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
stories truer histories that no man enacted and so could dream wild hunts across blazing sky
Libations Paths by the river Painted cats Twelve hours of the night Ren=name written in eternity Stealing fire Rusted leaves Shreve Sheaves leash
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Fainting Goat Vineyards and Winery
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Of/with: journal of immanent renditions Published biannually, March and September of-with.com email@example.com
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Biography Notes The bloodline of eloquence, fierce attention to detail, and innate intimacy with words is pure through Asha Gowan. The Southern Collective Experience held its breath in fear her independent manner would keep us at bay. She is a sister of us forever. Her poetry is being featured in Rasputin, and she soaks up truth at University of North Carolina in Asheville like a feral vocation. Regina Walker is a writer, photographer and psychotherapist in NYC. Her first book, Through My Eyes, is available through Amazon http://amzn.to/1CSdTXL. Michael Cowan lives on the old family farm in rural Jackson County Georgia with his daughter, Lillian, and his three dogs. (Currently also with his sister and her two children) Michael enjoys spending time romping through the forests of North Georgia, playing piano with his band Radiolucent, studying old hymnals, reading, writing, the occasional Marlboro Red, and sipping a fine pilsner. Born in the suburbs of Atlanta, but raised in the North Georgia Mountains, Michael has lived and travelled all over the country, and as far east as Leh, India. His writing is very uncouth and expressive, irrelevantly Holy. He draws most of his inspiration from Nature and love (or love lost), however, he is completely indiscriminate when squeezing out poetry from any muse he finds convenient at that moment. More information is at http://southernmusings.wordpress.com Kenneth Farmer lives and works in North Georgia. He studied music at Reinhardt College. He plays guitar, writes poetry, and acts in community theater. A Pushcart Prize nominee, William S. Tribell's work has appeared in journals and magazines around the world. Many of his poems have been recorded spoken word and with instrumentation and can be found online. William is a member of the Southern Collective, his favorite color is green, and he thinks sushi is great. Crespo, self-taught photographer and fine art painter, has participated in numerous exhibitions in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey (also under the pseudonym "Morgan"). She has served as gallery coordinator for the Pocono Arts Council, and has served as co-curator for several group art exhibitions at the 1199SEIU Gallery in NYC. She continues to exhibit her art in the New York metro area. Nicole Yurcaba hails from a long line of coal miners, Ukrainian immigrants and West Virginian mountain folk. . Her work has appeared in print and online journals such as VoxPoetica, Referential Magazine, Rolling Thunder Quarterly, Decompression, Hobo Camp Review, The Camel Saloon, Jellyfish Whispers, Napalm and Novocaine, Floyd County Moonshine and many others. In life, she enjoys taking the unbeaten path, and usually exits the scene pursued by bear. Her first collection of poetry, Backwoods and Back Words, is available at www.unboundcontent.com. She has been nominated for Best of the Net twice by Voxpoetica. Joseph Victor Milford was born in Alabama in 1972. He began writing poetry at an early age, and it eventually led him to the Writersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Workshop at the University of Iowa where he achieved his MFA in poetry. He has been published in dozens of print and online journals, and his first collection of poems, Cracked Altimeter, was published by BlazeVox books in 2010. He is also the host of the Joe Milford Poetry Show, a radio show featuring contemporary poets from Canada and America. He has also been a professor of English for over a decade.
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About Matthew Polsfuss: A photographer is defined simply as “someone who takes photographs” but it hasn’t been that simple for me for quite some time now. I started taking pictures at around age 12. In the beginning what I shot was strictly editorial and snapshot like. Recording the things around me I found interesting. We didn’t have much money growing up so film was a luxury. It wasn’t often that I got to shoot or have my images developed. As you can imagine, I lost interest. Almost 9 years went by that I didn’t touch a camera and then in 2002 the obsession that would become my profession began. I was challenged by a young lady to best the images she had received from her last shoot with a “professional photographer”. I was annoyed while looking at the images by the lack of attention to detail and that he clearly had not captured this girls true beauty. Shooting her would be the first time I’d be shooting beauty for beauty sake but I felt confident I could catch of her what he did not. She loved the images and soon I was shooting her model friends too. With each shoot I built a style that flattered the subjects of my image and with each shoot I moved farther away from that earlier definition. The advent of the digital camera changed everything for me. The week long cycle of taking an image and then waiting for it to be developed was over. I could see what I captured the second after I took it. Also the nature of how that image was captured allowed me to begin taking images that didn’t match what the eye could see but what I could see in my head. A standard photo ideally captures a moment in time. Reality. My aim is hyper-reality. To use only light and shadow to tell the story I want told. To show my subject the way I want it to be seen. My goal is to keep growing that vision and to continue to share the images I love. Chad Prevost has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and is the author of two collections of poetry, A Walking Cliché Coins a Phrase andSnapshots of the Perishing World. He taught writing and literature at Georgia State, Georgia Perimeter, Lee University and Dalton State, and as a writer, teacher & publisher he has led workshops with students and the community at the Yale Writers’ Conference, the Meacham Writers’ Workshop, the Southern Collective, and elsewhere. His creative work has been published in The Huffington Post, Matter: A Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Mid-American Review, Puerto Del Sol, The Seattle Review, SENTENCE, The Southern Review, Bear Flag Republic: California Prose Poems and Poetics (Alcatraz Editions) and City of the Big Shoulders (University of Iowa Press). He serves as Executive Director of C&R Press (Conscious & Responsible Publishing) and is co-founder of Upstart, a publishing imprint that helps entrepreneurs & visionaries communicate their big ideas for social good, one small city at a time. His blogging can be found at Hanging Chad(www.chadprevost.com), Open Culture, and Thought Catalog. Chad and his wife, Shelley, have lived in Chattanooga since 2004, and have three young children. Top of the morning, I am Randy Brown Jr. and I will never name my son after me. If you look to your left you might see your dreams. If you look to your right, I’ve fooled you one too many times. I honestly tried to make this as professional as possible, but I’m not a professional writer. I only love stories and the many ways in which they’re told. I’m a graduate student at The New School for Public Engagement-MFA in Creative Writing-New York, NY. It is my hope that my experiences here will sprawl unprecedented growth in my writings. I do not view myself as the Earl of Oxford, the best writer under 30, or the master of prose. I just love to write, and I am touched by what this form of art has done for my life. I view criticism as the fuel to help me better articulate my message to the reader. At the end of the day, I want the voices and stories of characters, and faraway places, out of my head and onto paper. I 127 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
do not yearn for the biggest book deal in the history of book deals this side of the Western Hemisphere. All I want out of this world is the time to write and meet other artists who are passionate about breathing life back into the environment surrounding them. When I’m not writing you can find me drinking strawberry milkshakes, giving commencement speeches about strawberry milkshakes, or speaking with someone about going on a date, which would consist of stopping somewhere for strawberry milkshakes. If you look around and see something you don’t like change it. If you believe that you can do whatever you want, you probably can. Four years ago my family thought I was nuts for pursuing a degree in writing. Now, they think the plan was genius. In writing, always remember that you are what you are; good luck trying to be someone you’re not. Sosha Pease was born among the corn in Illinois, where there wasn't much inspiration. Her mother was an artist and she would sit and look at her drawings for hours learning every line. Art became her reality. As a child, she dreamed of going to art school and becoming a proper artist, but realized that was not her path. Her path has many potholes, but it is the path that allows her to reach her full artistic potential. Her conviction: I am living art. Jennifer Avery is a native of Calhoun, Georgia, who has been writing since she was twelve years old, and has spent 25 years honing her craft. She writes concise, heart-felt poetry and prose that combines simple eloquence with a Southern drawl. She is also in the process of developing Glossary Notes, a comprehensive set of reading guides. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Ka-Son Reeves grew up cultivating his natural artistic ability by watching the creative processes of his father (a portrait artist) and his eldest brother (a graffiti artist). Having received no formal art training, they instead were his artistic teachers and technical advisors. Ka-Son has participated in over 30 group and solo exhibitions in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. His work is included in permanent gallery collections as well as private collections. In June 2009, Ka-Son participated in a juried exhibition at Long Island University’s Salena Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, honoring filmmaker Spike Lee. He also displayed his work at the NAACP Centennial Convention in New York City. His painting “Here For The Takin’ “, won 1st place in the Acrylics division at the 2011 Pocono Arts Council’s Members Show. His paintings “Tune-Up” and “Jazz In Space” won back to back 1st place awards in painting at both the 2011 and 2010 Antoine Dutot Museum’s “Music Motif” Show. It was his first time exhibiting at the Dutot. He has served as cocurator of 1199SEIU Gallery in NYC, has appeared as a guest on the television program “SteelStacks Live!”, was hired as a courtroom sketch artist for the Pocono Record Newspaper on two high profile court cases and served as director of ARTSPACE Gallery in Stroudsburg, PA. Most recently Ka-Son’s work was included in a juried exhibition presented by African Voices magazine titled: “A Choice Of Weapons: The New Renaissance Artists”; an exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of legendary photographer Gordon Parks. Ka-Son is also author of a collection of poetic verse titled “A Poet-Whore, Pimped By Pain”, published by Whimsical Publications, LLC. Spencer Connell was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee but currently resides in Chattanooga. He studied poetry at Rhodes University and at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. His work 128 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
has been anthologized in Language Lessons (Third Man Records). Aside from poetry, Spencer plays and performs traditional Appalachian music. Sally McRae made time stop when The Southern Collective Experience heard her perform deeply moving, impeccably delivered truth. Her poetry never held back, apologized, or sank into drama. Since that reading, all of us lucky enough to live through her in those stanzas prayed Sally would accept our invitation. It is a solemn joy and gift that she has seen fit to give the SCE a fighting chance. More on her personal achievements will be on our website nearing completion. To know more now, visit One Creative Choice here on Facebook. To find out more on what goes through her depthless mind, please visit: One Creative Choice. Chani Zwibel is a graduate of Agnes Scott College and recent member of the Southern Collective Experience. She is a wife and "dog mom" who resides in Marietta, GA. When not writing, she likes to be outside, gardening or hiking. Andy Whitehorne is a writer, poet, actor, and hellion-scholar born in the heart of Georgia. A graduate of Shorter College in Rome, Georgia, Andy has spent the years between then and today becoming a man without excuses or use for guilt. He was a member of the Collective before it was a hard fact, and currently works on a solo collection of verse along with a collaborative project with another member of the group. About Brent Ellis: As a child, I would sit for hours on end, tracing characters, monsters, and anything I could in comic books, coloring books, and magazines. In Junior High and High school, my drawings became more elaborate: from roses, to Mickey Mouse characters, to designing album cover art for the bands I formed with my friends. In 1990, I applied to the Art Institute of Atlanta (and was accepted), but my parents informed me that they couldn’t afford to send me to the Art Institute due to the tuition. I was unable to get the scholarship. Although I started working for the store where my Dad worked, my heart still laid in the art world. I kept my artistic abilities sharpened and created pieces as they came to me. When the economy had the small crash in the 1990’s, I fell back onto doing what I did best and created to make extra money. I designed and created several tattoos for different individuals during these years, but never had anything to do with the application of ink. Before my fate as a twenty- two year veteran of Law Enforcement, something that I never thought I’d ever do, I worked with a close friend as a roadie for his band. I met rock legends such as South Gang and Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ in the way that so many people wanted to—a nineteen-year-old’s little piece of Heaven. Moving into a different world of crime prevention, my dreams and hopes were put on hold to further a career in Law Enforcement. I did some art on the side, but not like I wanted. Shortly after a neardeath experience during a gastric bypass surgery, I decided that I would attempt (as soon as I could) to go back to school. Although I couldn’t afford to go to the Art institute, I decided to go to school for something I loved. After being a student at Appalachian Tech for a two year period and a lot of hard work, I succeeded in accomplishing the one thing I wanted to do, but I still had a void in my life. Using my new found talents, I created works of art with my hands. Fulfilling complete restorations of two classic muscle cars, working countless hours on my own projects and doing side jobs, I finally came up with an idea: “Big E’s Classic Car Art,” where I put muscles car and trucks on an eleven by fourteen piece of paper for the car guru to hang on his man cave wall. 129 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
I ventured into classic cars at first and moved into the pursuit vehicles for several of my “brothers” in blue. Completing several drawings of different cars, my talents were finally recognized by a very talented motorcycle builder shop,“Kotic Kustoms” of Woodstock, Georgia. The owners Buffy and JT love building custom bikes for their customers. After being asked to design a logo that would be showcased on their personal shirts, which would be sold in their shop and shows, I jumped at the chance and designed a shirt that was used in production for several years. I am still designing for them and drawing as time permits. I enjoy all my Hot Rod buddies in the car, truck, and motorcycle world. As I play in this world of art and put car art on paper, I’m reminded of the bucket list that I created a few years back. Whether this ever gets a check mark beside it, I’m satisfied knowing it will be a few pen strokes away. Until then I will keep my talents as razor sharp as I can and keep creating. I might not ever be as famous as Leonardo or some of my favorite fantasy artists, but I do know that some have enjoyed my talent over the years. And being a starving artist, I have known this all too well, but if I can make that young person realize that his/her talents matter, just as I have tried to make mine matter, then I have accomplished a lot in my life. Never give up on what you believe in. Keep pushing forward and make yourself count, because you do. If you never show your talents, then you might be the one that never made a difference in someone’s life that was really needing it. Something that you can easily overcome and build your own story with. Every life has a story, it’s just your choice to make that story available as an open book and let it shine! About Holly Holt: I am a 28-year old awkward and humble introvert who would rather stay in bed nine times out of ten than face the world — except that I have bills to pay and a job well worth my struggle to seem normal. Since August of 2013, I have been published a handful of times. I won’t discuss my rejections except to say my creative economy is facing a deficit at present. Recently, I have found an interest in creating artwork for “Athena Departs," though my attempts with art may never capture the full beauty of such masterful verse. As far as writerly endeavors, I'm not really working on anything big and exciting, because I'm studying for my SATs, which I’ll be taking in October. Still, the urge to write surges through me when I'm studying. I almost wrote a poem about math the other day. No kidding. I love reading, watching classic movies, drinking coffee, observing (unless I feel something must be said, whereby I will participate), taking care of flowers, and everything about my job in the Adult Education program. People tend to assume a lot about what I know, what I can handle, and what I'm up to because I'm often quiet. I do NOT talk this much in person (though I will write you a novel about what I'm truly thinking, provided you first extend that avenue), and I read poetry terribly — ESPECIALLY in person. Peter Ristuccia is the President and Founder of Firefly Telecommunications LLC, a startup technology firm headquartered in Atlanta Georgia. Peter is also a prolific writer and the author of several novels, short stories, essays and poems. His work has been featured on NPR, the New York Optimist and Gloom Cupboard. A native of Athens Georgia, Peter graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor of arts in history. History, especially art history, remains a passion of his, and he makes extensive use of social media to spread appreciation of art history to others. Beatsmith Medore, part Beast, part Man, balances out his roles as Father, Husband, and Big 3rd Phloor Boss Man with his fiendish appetite and Beastly behaviors for devouring vinyl records and shitting out hot, steamy, nasty ass beats...and he is always hungry!
130 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW
131 | THE BLUE MOUNTAIN REVIEW