Crack the Spine
Issue 149 May 6, 2015 Edited by Kerri Farrell Foley Collection copyright 2015 by Crack the Spine
Cover Art: â€œPropellerâ€? by Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier is a photographer, writer and poet published internationally, regionally, as well as in Canadian heritage and military museums. She has shot cover art for Zen Dixie Magazine, Vine Leaves Literary Journal and Crack the Spine. Karen has also been featured in Artemis Journal, Cactus Heart Press, Synaesthesia, Dactyl, Fine Flu Literary Journal, The Scarborough Big Art Book, Sand Canyon Review, The Notebook, Shadows and Light Anthology and Vagabonds Anthology to name a few of the creative places she dwells. Follow Karen @KBG_Tweets.
CONTENTS B.A. Varghese
Lucky Benjamin K.
Benedict Downing Donâ€™t Call Me
Richard Widerkehr House Lights
New Year's Day in the Northwest
Scott Thomas Outlar High/Low
Just Enough Honey
Lucky Benjamin K.
A quiet and lonely street in Yonkers exhales steam out of its manhole cover during a crisp fall night. I stop and watch a channel where wrestlers in tight trunks smack each other with steel grey chairs. I hold my gut after overeating at an all-you-can-eat Indian buffet. People argue in front of a church on the corner of Hillside and 192nd street. A pop of recollection in memory once faded and I think of you. The lucky one. Growing up, I always believed that. You were the one who got to do things that I only dared to do. The one who made friends with those I was too shy to approach. The one who I looked up to even though we were the same age. We only got to see each other on the weekends, mostly Sundays. Life in New York City was difficult for our parents. They were strangers in a strange land; like foreigners trying to recreate their homeland in a cold urban city. They didn’t fully trust anyone who wasn’t from Kerala, let alone India, so they became over-protective parents and we were made to depend on them. Wherever they went, we went too: supermarkets, church, friends’ houses, and the occasional restaurant outing. We were always with them. It was a rare sight to see Indian immigrant parents without their children. I had friends in school and on my block, but our parents said we were best friends because we had known each other since age four. Your house was our church and your father was our pastor. I never really understood how you were able to share your house and your father with everyone else. During Sunday morning church, we would trek from the main
sanctuary to our classes on the second floor. That floor was the space where your family lived and the third floor was where you slept along with your four other brothers. The kitchen, the dining room, the living room, and all the bedrooms became classrooms on Sunday. I don’t know how your mother dealt with the constant intrusion into her house. She was always either cleaning or cooking or yelling at you and your brothers. She was a thin little woman who was busy with the burden of caring for her own family and busy with her constant unwavering hospitality toward church people and other visitors. I could always tell what you had eaten for breakfast on Sunday morning because the aroma would linger around your kitchen. The sweet smell of flat cakes made from milk and coconut intertwining with the strong coriander and garam masala of the egg curry hung heavy in the air. Whenever your mother saw me, no matter how busy she was, she stopped what she was doing and greeted me with her kindness. Her thin soft hands would touch my face while she talked to me. I never understood how a person could give so much of herself and still have so much love. It was not just her. Your whole family showed a kindness that was often taken for granted. Your father was nice to me too. Whenever I saw him, he would ask me about my grades at school. He had a kind face. I remembered stories that my father would tell me about your father back in Kerala and how he had come close to dying at the age of eighteen. My father didn’t exactly know what the illness was, but it had seemed that there was no hope for your father. Then your grandmother cried out to God begging to heal her son and promised that he would be dedicated to God’s work. God showed kindness and healed your father and from then on he was dedicated to ministry. A life of intentional focus after a glimpse of one’s mortality.
During Sunday school class, you spent most of your time staring into space while the teacher talked about how important it was for us to be not only good Christian kids, but good Indian Christian kids. I guess there was a difference. My father, who was one of three deacons in the church, sometimes complained about the lack of theological education that some of our teachers had. But you didn’t care for any of it. You just sat through one lesson after another with a lost expression on your face. Holy words flew above your head and never landed in the spaces of your mind or your heart. Once class was over, we went into the sanctuary for the main service. We were forced to clap our hands to hymns and listen to long sermons in Malayalam, a language we barely understood. I was glad that we at least had Bibles in English. It helped to pass the time. You caught up on your sleep. It didn’t matter; we looked forward to when the church service ended and it always ended with your father praying then singing: Hallelujah! Thine the glory. Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Thine the glory. Revive us again. That song would signal the end of the service. That was our time. That was when we got to play. There was one time when we went to your brother’s room after the church service to practice our wrestling moves. It was also the same room where the high schoolers held their classes. You grabbed your brother’s mattress and threw it to the floor for our ring. You were Jimmy “The Fly” Snuka and I was WWF champion Bob Backlund. We practiced new moves so we could be ready when we challenged your older brothers. You were fast and graceful, pinning me down then climbing up on the dresser for your signature jump. I was slow and fat. I wasn’t ready for your jump and your knee jabbed me in the stomach. It hurt but crying was for sissies. I stood up and your drop kick caught me off
guard, sending me right into the wall. Cracked drywall fell all over the floor and a mist of powdered plaster floated in the air. At first, I couldn’t believe it. I had never been stuck in a wall before. There was a sense of thrill and dread. I tried to pull myself out and I looked straight into your brown eyes hoping for you to help, but all I saw was disappointment. Then you ran. You left me there sitting in a hole in the wall and I felt stupid for not bracing myself for your kick. I pushed myself out and ran too. I heard that the church elder who had to fix the hole wasn’t happy about the incident. Neither was your brother. We were the oldest among our church friends except for three of your brothers. They beat us up whenever they got the chance. We did get a good beating for the hole in your brother’s room. Even though we lost the fight, it was good to fight alongside you. For years, our friendship existed in the bubble of Saturdays and Sundays when church was held. Over time, our interests changed from wrestling, to comics, to video games, back to wrestling, to basketball, then to girls. The last one was hard. Our parents were strict about girls and watched our interactions at church just to make sure nothing funny happened. I mean, what could happen in church? I wasn’t really any good at it. You were a natural and had an innate charm. You were tall and slim and your clothes hung from your body as if they were meant to be there, like an extension of yourself. You ate twice as much as I did but only looked half the size. I had a gut so my shirt would sit loose on the top but snug near the midsection where I tucked them into my husky jeans. The girls really liked you.
We had heard it again and again in Sunday school, how important it was to take water baptism as the next step in being good Christian Indian boys and when we turned ten, we decided to get baptized together. Your father conducted the baptism and I remembered his wide eyes and bright smile when he submerged you underwater and brought you back up. It was the same wide eyes and bright smile he gave me as if he was baptizing one of his own. I felt the cold water and when he pushed me under, it was like I was drowning. The old boy dying, his old ways dying, and I let him drown so that when your father pulled me back up, I was someone else, someone new, someone reborn through the water. We were both new and we did it together and like an initiation into a special club, we now had a bond that was not physical but spiritual and would never be broken. We were brothers in a way that was more than what you had with your siblings. Afterward and during the lunch, we didnâ€™t talk much. I felt you were busy with your thoughts as a new person, wondering what would come next. Maybe wondering if your brothers would treat you differently. I just hoped you felt the same way I felt about us. As you got older, you became more to your bigger brothers than a punching bag. You stayed out later, went with them wherever they went, and if anything happened, you were never blamed. Your parents faulted your brothers for not keeping an eye on you. I was the oldest in my family and I wasnâ€™t allowed such freedoms. When I saw you in church, I got to relive each story and each adventure you went on. It was as if I was there with you and your brothers.
Then it happened. Something that none of us could have seen coming. Something that went against all that we were taught and expected to live up to. Something that seemed impossible in a place like this. The church service
started the same way as on any Sunday morning, but I could not shake the feeling that something was going to happen and nothing would ever be the same again. I guess we were not adults yet and could still sense shifts in the world much like how animals can sense shifts in the weather to know when a storm approaches. After all, these same adults who taught us that we were separate from the world also worked to sever our connection to something that we were born a part of. I don’t know how it started or maybe I couldn’t believe it. From comments during sermons, to passive refusals to participate in the progression of the service, to heated words until finally, it happened with the pastor on one side and the deacons on the other and nothing could be done to stop it. Words of anger and hate in a place of love and fellowship seemed sacrilegious to us. It didn’t belong and we sat there listening to it all, wondering what to make of the collision that was both outside and inside of us. I looked over and saw you watching them. I wondered how you felt about our fathers being on opposite sides. You seemed as lost as I was. After things settled, the church split with your side leaving and my side staying. You and your family left the church, your home, your way of living, and I could not separate the two in my mind. Even when the new pastor took over, it still didn’t feel like church to me. After many months, I finally saw you at a convention, when all the Malayalee churches in the New York area got together. We talked and chilled outside during the service but I had to share your attention with your new friends. You talked about skipping the service and getting something to drink. I told you I wasn’t thirsty. I must have looked naïve in front of your friends. I watched you
walk away and I knew our friendship would not be the same. Were you still angry for what our fathers did? I was just glad to see you. We saw less and less of each other and the term friendship felt inappropriate to use for what was now a mere acknowledgement of our nearness. I had more pressing things on my mind like finishing up high school and getting ready for college. Maybe it was better this way.
A year goes by and then I got a phone call. It was from your girlfriend. Girlfriend. That word stuck in my head and I wondered how it was possible to have a girlfriend with parents like ours. How did you even ask her out? I didn’t have a job or my own car or any means to go on a date. After all this time, you still amazed me. She wanted to know if I was able to come to your surprise birthday party. Her voice was soft and like nothing I had ever heard. I felt nervous. I didn’t know whether it was from being remembered as someone important in your life or because I was talking to a girl on the phone. It was the first time a girl called my house. She must be beautiful I thought. She had to be. She told me that you talked about me. Talked about your best friend. Yonkers at night wasn’t a safe place to be for someone who lived on Long Island for the past few years. The streets were dark and my heart pounded to the feeling that someone could be lurking just beyond the shadows. I knew it was cool outside but I didn’t feel it that way. It was quiet as if sound couldn’t escape the grasp of the black void which sat in the alleys and clung to the sides of the apartment complexes. I had borrowed my mother’s car and she would have killed me if she knew that I drove it all the way to Yonkers. They knew I
was going but I didn’t tell them where the party was. I couldn’t understand why your party was so far away from your home in Queens. Inside the apartment complex, the air was hot and stale. I knocked on the door and I was greeted by someone who I had never seen in my life. I wondered if I was at the right place. But then I leaned in and I saw your brothers. They waved at me and I walked in. I didn’t realize you had made so many new friends. There was a haze of smoke that filled the air and the smell of cigarettes mingled with a distinct odor of burnt grass. A couple of guys were bringing in foot long sandwiches, bags of chips, and plates of cookies. Someone rolled in a large silver cylinder while some girls brought in a cake. I had never seen a keg of beer before. Then I saw her. I was right about your girl. A small wisp of blond flowed along her dark brown hair all the way down to her waist. She was thin like you and her lightbrown eyes were large and inviting. When she saw me, her smile made me smile too. She was happy that I was able to make the party and she introduced me to everyone. Then you came in through the front door with another set of your friends and we surprised you. You kissed your girl and you were happy to see everyone. You were shocked to see me. We talked but I could tell from your voice that I was a part of an old life of yours; a life of restrictions and rules without mercy. All we had was a good memory of a friendship that now didn’t mix well into the booze, smoke, and freedom. I saw in your eyes that I reminded you of something unhappy, of something you could not live up to. You shouldn’t have thought that way. I couldn’t live up to it either.
I got home late that night and my parents were very upset not only because I had decided to go to the party in the first place but that I didnâ€™t call and let them know when I would be home. I reassured them it would be the last time.
Many years later, after I moved to Tampa and after I got married, I attended a church convention in Orlando. I was surprised to see your father and mother there. Your mother said they had come for the convention and were staying with family. She was even thinner than I remembered and now age had caught up to her in the lines of her face and in the grey strands of her hair. She was happy to see me. She gave me a big hug and then placed her frail right hand on my face. For an instance, it seemed like I was that young boy again back in her kitchen. Back to a time that was simpler where nothing mattered excepting having fun. The smell of fried plantain chips and crunchy lentil fritters saturated every breath. I inhaled slower to allow the aroma to fill my lungs. I saw you out of the corner of my eye and ran toward you while your mother yelled for us not to run in the house. We ran upstairs where we were ready to fight your brothers. We pushed the door open together and you drop kicked your brother in the chest and he fell to the floor. He tried to get up but I jumped on him and you tagged me and climbed on the dresser. You were ready for your signature jump on your brother and I knew it because I saw it in your eyes. I moved out of the way and held back your other brother who came crashing through the door. You jumped and you flew with your arms extended like wings, like an eagle, you flew, and nothing could stop you, nothing, no rules, no parents, no people, no church, no society, no culture, no system, you flew, and you were free like the way God created you.
But that was years ago and your mother still held my face while she talked. She couldn’t believe how old I had gotten. She was happy to see my wife. Your father was a lot older now and I’m not certain if he remembered me. Maybe he had trouble seeing me. Your father still looked kind but it seemed lost in his aged face. Your mother had to explain who I was to him. She told me that your father was doing better especially after his dialysis. She held my hand tight and she asked me if I could find some good girl for you to marry. She said that you had not married yet and that she was praying for you. I looked at her eyes and I felt she asked out of a desperate hope. I smiled and said I would try. I never saw her again after that day. At the same convention, I found out that your girl left you and you lost your job. I didn’t know how to help, so I didn’t. A few years later, I heard that your father passed away. My mother told me about it, but I felt we became too distant for me to make a trip to New York for the funeral. I felt sorry and I wanted to give my condolences. But I didn’t know who to call. I didn’t have your number or your brothers’ numbers or your mother’s number. I didn’t bother searching for information that could have easily been found. I should have made an effort.
I wrestle with my two kids in our living room and watch one of them jump onto the couch to get high enough to jump on me. A pop of recollection in memory hits me. I feel I’ve been here before and think of you. And then I wonder how they will turn out. I have fears of their future choices. I have fears of them getting involved with things they shouldn’t be involved with or with things that might consume their souls. I have fears of becoming like your mother grasping onto others for a desperate hope for my children. I can’t control their choices nor do I want to. I just want them to do the right thing at the right time. I have
come to accept that we were just kids trying to live in two worlds. One where our fathers gave us unbending rules to live as perfect Christian Indian boys and one where that ideology was crushed under the feet of our boyhood desires; the longing to fit in and be accepted by the new world around us. One of culture and conformity while the other of acceptance and identity. Our fathers were immigrants in a foreign land and they tried in their best efforts to help us with the knowledge they had. But when these two worlds collided, we lived in the void. We lived in the destruction and aftermath. Our perceptions were altered and our lives forever changed by the choices we made. Some of us survived to have normal lives and some still roam within its wastelands scarred and confused. And I wonder if you were one of the lucky ones. Were you lucky, Benjamin K.?
Benedict Downing Donâ€™t Call Me
Wet your smile with sweat, the dew ascends through pores, no drops, just a film of humid anxious yearning, don't tense your domain, I will be away. Chased feeling to let go, cold fury, torrential rain, my leather jacket can absorb, the whip is mine, but the words soothe. The drink I prepare is plain, jelly marmalade, thick orange skin, to spread, the toast is ready, every moment has its euphoria, a mute temper left behind the forgotten tear. Victoria and her passing image, her scream: a wind sent by phone chats, conscience doesn't need a witness, her sun is my sun, her moon only shows craters, the circled silver wonder is possibly a romanticized creation.
The watered tree will be my garden, roots didn't creak the dirt, but the stem did sprout leaves and two flowers to ponder about.
Helen Gainiy Participants
Cold, fast, magistrate hands, someone said, and Mana spread the old grin on tapered teeth. She was sorting papers, hard candy eyes lapping up last reds of day. Briefly, she thought of S, the dead husband. In the slip of window, between the shards of shade, were so many windshields fielding a gasping sun. The dead husband, not an accident, or fantastic. He was withered and spread on the cracking mantra of expected passing. She wondered, did S eye the trees outside, scan the little finger roots, the windblown particles, and jump from soil to runoff to corpse? Was that tree, like all of Manaâ€™s memory trees, filled up with the boiling orange blood of relations, lovers? S picked apart a sigh, ah-ah, frittering one section into the next. She was ever scrabbling up an emotive mountain now, ever twisting
against the new shape of distance. Some hardness came from being untwined, and all the difficulties of watching time pass alone were strung horizontal on her brow. The now, the now, S filled herself up with the hill crest that swallowed the sun. The rook that rattled the wood. Mana was on the move, passing shades of white gauze in the hall. Looking always the pressed upon girl, with this or that hampering submissive side to side hips. Hands wet with the perpetual slosh of semi-youth, holding onto the last silk of smoothness as a vein broke here, a crack burst there. A grin pressed out of childhoodâ€™s pinkish rooms. She hovered in the arch now, one foot patting on a glossy spread of punchboard plastic. Eyes pinched ahead. The window glass puffed and shuttered with a finger of wind. It was Mana saw it first, a branch,
shape of a human thumb. Just beyond the widow, there, where the rook had been, but the bird had launched up into a throbbing backdrop. It had spread the filament wing of his old age and dispersed on the definite horizon. Mana was keen on that sight, the bird, jagged winged, and the thumb jutting forth from a patternless winter ground. Something, she said, and S finger grazed the new blot below her nose. S, a warble of the eye, or a bacterial cell on the precipice of a young-seeming sunset. Dead or running, or so the peacetime recollections of others painted her up. Yellowed, crinkling at the edges. And the dead husband, who Mana, with finger to throat, pulled down by threads and hung out into her personal wilderness. All of the coupling and red shades of a man split and spread onto the bark of a tree.
Richard Widerkehr House Lights
Across the fields, small urns of house lights flicker. Hands on the wheel, your car in the dark, nothing on the radio--black fields slide by, not your fatherâ€™s. The lights ride with you past naked stands of alders. The night, a well, fills almost every slat, each sway-back barn, gone slack. The farthest lights are his stories, sleeves of water. You hug the wheel, squint hard.
New Year's Day in the Northwest
It was New Year's Day in the Northwest and Sil was cold. That is to say that she was both unfeeling and chilled in that moment; feeling uninhabited as she watched the van parked out front of their house rock back and forth. That orange vintage thing like a cradle for the two inside. Creaking and leaning. Their sound the only thing there to fill her thoughts. She thought: Jesus, the creaking of it all. She thought: That's Rob’s friend, Ben, out in front of our house, almost on our lawn, performing for our neighbors. The entire street vacant and misted with the dank wet vapors of a new day, a new year, a new shot at something about to happen. She thought: I’ve finally got something fresh and unknown to me, day one of three hundred and sixty-five, and I'm standing here to watch them out there. Standing here, watching them ringing it in. It was her turn to make breakfast and so she headed to the kitchen. To the piled dishes and empty beer cans and their dinner that was hardly touched. All that gourmet food they’d pushed to the sides of their plates. She pulled out the eggs. She found a bowl. She dug out the vanilla. She scraped the pan clean as best she could. Through the kitchen window, she found Rob’s friend, Barry, in their sleeping bag. His head covered from the damp. His body curled and lifeless atop their picnic table. She was surprised at how little she felt for his plight. She dropped the butter and listened. She heard the van door open. She heard their elevated voices. And then her mind flashed to the civil, agreeable moments from the night before. The gibed easygoing banter, the sharing of
secrets and rounds, the sharing of what had come and gone. The pleasurable moments before the ball had dropped. Before Barry had slapped her ass and Robert had walloped into him. Before they missed the song. Before they were unable to sing along like all the others. When it was finished; she dumped what was on their plates into the compost and then wiped each with a napkin. She moved the chairs back into place and filled a glass for herself. She set down a fork for each of them.
They joined her at the table. Ben kissed her cheek and the girl, perhaps five to seven years younger than him, than her; she waved and grinned and sat down beside him. The girl said, “You’re amazing. It's so early and look at what we have.” She curled her lips inward. Ben said, “Any sign of trouble.” Sil said, “I think they need more time.” Ben laughed to himself and offered his hand to her. He said, “Between us, they're both to blame.” Sil noticed the girl watching him for a cue to start. She felt bad making them wait and thought on some level he was right. But on another, the one where she walked around in her head, where she judged things for herself, she thought that he was an idiot. Ben waited. His hand outstretched. Sil picked up her fork. He picked up his fork. The girl hers. Soon they all chewed together. The girl pointed at the food, her mouth stuffed, her gesture to say, “Hey, this is really good.”
Rob walked in looking staggered and apprehensive. Sil took stock of the dried red state of his knuckles. It struck her that all she wanted was Rob and their couch and a book, a book she’d have him read to her until he complained or found a way to wiggle out of it. Rob wasn’t sitting. He seemed determined not to sit. The girl glanced up from her food and started to speak but must have thought otherwise because she reached instead for Sil’s glass. She drank. Rob said, “I thought I could eat but I can’t.” Sil knew this was a question he was asking her. This was how he asked her questions: I thought I wanted to run but I can’t, I thought I wanted this job but I don’t, I thought I was ready but I’m not…That was Rob. That was how he asked her questions. Ben reached across the table with his fork. He stabbed Rob’s breakfast. He said, “Your loss.” The girl giggled but then something happened because she started to cough instead. She coughed and clutched until Ben slapped her back. Until they both stood over her. Ben moved his fist to her bellybutton, and Sil was ready too; certified in the art of help. The girl reached up and breathed heavy and sucked in air. She said, “I’m ok, I’m ok.” And Sil asked, “Are you sure?” And she said, “That was scary for me.” Ben hugged the girl. They held each other.
Sil saw Rob through the kitchen window. He was out there yelling at his old friend. She saw that Barry’s legs were tangled. She watched as they screeched. They flailed. She watched them and took in that heavy moisture that looks like fog but isn’t, she saw that it was hung over the garage and the fence and the laundry line. Ben went with the girl to the window to watch. The girl said, “They’re going to hurt each other.” Sil walked over and picked up the phone. She dialed. Her mother picked up and started right in on the night before: the fireworks and the neighbors up late and the champagne. Sil listened. And then she thought of the last thing she’d seen out there: Rob and Barry tangled together. The two of them embracing like lovers as they fell off the picnic table. Sil said, “Ma, you’ve probably already heard it. But just the same, Happy New Year.” Sil waited. She heard her mother stretching the phone cord; heard her fill a glass with ice. She heard her straining about in her way. And then her mother said: “It’s nice to finally hear from you, Sil.”
Scott Thomas Outlar High/Low
I set out to find God in the collapsing sky as it vomited red haze disillusionment downward into my broken vision complex, but what I found instead was a stagnant rarified air unfit for lungs too fragile to comprehend the oxygen content, so I fell as well, backward from the lofty spaces to which I had ascended that nearly got me to Nirvana. Smashed now in shapes of chaos upon the swirling center of nowhere. Raped now of the lingering sanity that decided to finally fly the coop. Enlightenment does not come at a cheap price, in fact it cannot be bought at all, but being poor and begging wonâ€™t bring it home to roost either.
It’s a fool’s game without a jackpot. It’s the house rules being changed midway through the hand; it does not matter if you were dealt four aces, the other side of the table always has a fifth up their sleeve to shove down your throat. That laughter you hear on the other side taunts you with the promise of greener grass, but should you seek its pasture what you’ll find is arid landscape. The rug pulled out from underneath. The ladder you climbed for ages in hopes of reaching the lofty heights of heaven was placed, from the very beginning, up against the wall on the wrong side of the room by Loki during the midnight hour when all darkness rises in the twilight of a dying heart. O Enlightenment, you lying bitch! O Nirvana, you bastard child! Is there no truth beyond the pale reflection of this dour liquid dualistic illusion? Is there no hope left
in these decaying minds, these blackened, blanched lungs, these melting bones of apathy? The marrow sings a song of dislocation as it spills from the inner core back to the dust and ash of a yawning maggot grave. Slurped inside the underbelly where the fatalistic urges shriek in pacifistic terror, wrapped up in spiked wool of purgatory chains. This filth does not wash off. This stink does not come clean. No flood, no fire, no Revelation. No Buddha Tree here to bow beneath. No cross to hang up high from. This vapid, vacuous, empty void is where dreams come to dieâ€Ś hard. Welcome to the nightmare symphony. Welcome to collapsed entropy. Welcome to the weeping fields. Welcome to the playground of the damned.
Just Enough Honey
And maybe he finds a baby one day, unexpectedly, a porcelain-skinned infant in a coniferous tree or a shopping cart, cordless already, and corduroyed, and perfectly prepared to make any young mother (never) to be insane with the joy of no sleep and endless free shitty diapers, and maybe she, of a sudden, is blasted into reverence by a Joycean epiphany about the high sacramental holiness of pizza rolls and cheap beer, and she decides no more hoping he’ll ever truly please her parents, the podiatrist and the sculptor, and hell, maybe it is more fun to stay home on Friday nights and catch up on everything he’s so diligently TiVoed anyway. Maybe this year is the best year of their marriage so far, maybe the police officer with the improbably sharp jaw-line and the low-down
advantage of being a complete mystery never pulls her over, or maybe he does and she thinks about that doll-like orphan so recently plucked from the tree bough, says, Thanks, but I have to pass. Or maybe it turns out Officer Biceps is not actually a semi-professional ladykiller, just a great listener who helps her see those hidden minor sublimities she’s overlooked in her partner, who for his part is inspired out of the wild blue yonder (and not by the PM flirtations of the young internet vixen) to pushups and vegetables, random acts of chivalry, some literature (even if it is Tom Clancy). Maybe there’s a raise, a long successful romantic vacation to someplace suited for photographs. Maybe the old Tabby cat they both loved like a child comes purring back into action despite the great weight of
the UPS truck that rolled over her and the cast of Seinfeld, bored, decides to give it another go round. And maybe for once when the waffle pops up in the toaster in the morning, and she asks, Is there any honey left? and turns her head and looks at him with narrow eyes that betray her utter lack of faith or expectation, maybe, just maybe, there is in fact enough honey left so that everything tastes almost sort of halfway acceptable after all.
Contributors Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier is a photographer, writer and poet published internationally, regionally, as well as in Canadian heritage and military museums. She has shot cover art for Zen Dixie Magazine, Vine Leaves Literary Journal and Crack the Spine. Karen has also been featured in Artemis Journal, Cactus Heart Press, Synaesthesia, Dactyl, Fine Flu Literary Journal, The Scarborough Big Art Book, Sand Canyon Review, The Notebook, Shadows and Light Anthology and Vagabonds Anthology to name a few of the creative places she dwells. Follow Karen @KBG_Tweets. Benedict Downing Benedict Downing has written fiction, poetry since adolescence. He joined local community reading circles, workshops, and college literary groups. Writes fiction and poetry for literary journals and magazines. There are two published books written by Mr Downing. A poetry book “Sidereal Reflux” (2011) and a novel “Epicrisis” (2014). He is currently working on his second novel. Helen Gainiy Helen Ganiy lives in Santa Rosa, CA, and is a graduate of Sonoma State University. She has completed work on her first novel, “Women in the Down”, and has been selected to serve as assistant editor on Fearless Books upcoming poetry anthology, “Turning the Page.”
Justin Hamm Justin Hamm is the author of a full length collection of poems, “Lessons in Ruin,” and two poetry chapbooks. He is the founding editor of the museum of americana, and his work appears in Nimrod, The Midwest Quarterly, Sugar House Review, Cream City Review, New Poems from the Midwest 2014. Justin has also received the Stanley Hanks Memorial Prize from the St. Louis Poetry Center. Calder Lorenz Calder Lorenz lives and writes in both the US and Canada. His fiction has appeared in sPARKLE & bLINK 2.4, Switchback, FictionDaily, Curly Red Stories, Two Dollar Radio’s Noise, and Literary Orphans. Also, his shorter story, ‘Gigi’s,’ can be found in the current issue of gravel. Scott Thomas Outlar Scott Thomas Outlar lives a simple life in the suburbs, spending the days flowing and fluxing with the Tao River, laughing at life’s existential nature, and writing prose-fusion poetry dedicated to the Phoenix Generation. His words have appeared recently in venues such as Midnight Lane Boutique, Dead Snakes, Siren, Section 8, and Dissident Voice. His debut chapbook “A Black Wave Cometh” is forthcoming from Dink Press. More of Scott’s writing can be found at 17numa.wordpress.com. Richard Widerkehr Richard Widerkehr has two books of poems, “The Way Home” (Plain View Press) and “Her Story of Fire” (Egress Studio Press), along with two
chapbooks. Tarragon Books published his novel about a geologist, “Sedimental Journey.” Recent work appears in Rattle, Floating Bridge Review, and Poetry Super Highway. He won two Hopwood Awards for poetry at the University of Michigan. He’s been a teacher and, later on, a case manager with the mentally ill. B.A. Varghese B. A. Varghese graduated from Polytechnic University (New York) in 1993 and has been working in the Information Technology field ever since. Inspired to explore his artistic side, he has earned a B.A. in English from the University of South Florida and is currently in the process of working toward an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. His works have appeared in Cleaver Magazine, Apalachee Review, Rose Red Review, and other literary journals. Learn more at his website.
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