MODERN NATION STATES, IN WHICH I BECOME A MYTHOLOGY AND ALSO, EXECUTED Megan Fernandes 4 SUMMER OF SILENCE Joanna Herson 6 THE MAP PAINTER Tyler Knott Gregson 11 ECHOES OF A DREAM Jay Frankston 12 BORDERLINE Kate Gilmore 14 COLLECTING FOR THE TRIBUNE E. Martin Pederson 15 DREAMS, DREAMSCAPE #2 Frank De Canio 25 YANKEE STADIUM Christina Elia 26 ALL I’M TAKING WITH ME Kate Gilmore 29 CHARLOTTESVILLE Mahlika Hopwood 30 BUKHARIAN GIRLS Anonymous 31 PARTING WITH THE GODS Carlos Franco 32 LATELY Rae Monroe 33 NOTE TO SELF Sibel Iskender 34 ALWAYS THE FUTURE Cliff Saunders 35 PAN TWARDOWSKI, OR THE SORCERER’S DREAM Joe Gross 37 SCIENCE FICTION PICTURE SHOW Ezra Lee 40 THE LOST KEY, HIDE AND SEEK, ANOTHER COUNTRY Nels Hanson 41 FLIGHT DELAYED Jonathan Ferrini 44 THE MOON XVIII Leah Mueller 46 SHE BANGS Kate Gilmore 47 TRIPLE MARTINI, CERTAIN DISPLAYS M. Nassori Pavone 48 SAN ANDREAS FAULT Ezra Lee 50 TALES OF A CITY II SEIGAR 53 SLEEP’S LITTLE REHEARSAL Kathleen Gunton 54 A SHORT CLINICAL SURVEY CONCERNING THE NATURE OF DREAMS Nicholas Catapano 55 STRESS IS ONLY TEMPORARY Ezra Lee 56 FALSE FIRE Robert Wooten 57 THE OCTOPUS ON MY FACE, CARNATIONS, ANTICONVULSANT EVOLUTION Sara Bigham 58 FANTASY ISLAND Christopher Strople 61 HONEY GIRL Ezra Lee 64 BEAUTY FOR ASHES Felicia Luna Lemus 65 A POWERFUL CAKE Lee Upton 66 WE ALL DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY Dominique Dobransky 67
MODERN NATION STATES Megan Fernandes
Josh sends me an article about migrants fleeing to Canada as if I’ve made a mistake by not coming back to Montreal, capital of exemplary politics. No, thank you. People always think Canada is the answer and America, the beast. But I saw how they make beasts in Sicily and how they need to grow for centuries on top of salt flatlands and salt mountains. Don’t let the shallow seas fool you— the Mediterranean Sea has the oldest seafloor in the world, at least 280 million years of residual ancient ocean between Africa and Europe, disappearing into a crust. I drink in a town of Salemi, a town of notable ruins since the Belice earthquake of 1968 and I am listening to people teach me about Sicilian volcanoes and Sicilian politics which go together. An older woman said that in Gibellina, she saw a woman named Anna cleaning the steps of the church when the first tremor occurred. And a piece of the cathedral just fell off. She never clarified if it fell on Anna, but she ran to her father’s orchard with her children who only brought their Christmas shoes and what they don’t say enough about earthquakes is the ways the shocks continue to build, how one minute you are sitting next to your brother and the next, in the violent amorphous dust, he is across the room. The old town of Gibellina was turned into art, but really, a graveyard when a contemporary artist filled its half standing homes with concrete so now it looks like a lunar sarcophagus, white and labyrinthine, where the trapped dead still push out caper vines and even the birds flying above, pause in reverence. In Sicily, I listen to a boy from Argentina tell me what America looks like and it looks ugly. At home, I like the way my Brazilian friend, Aarao, is afraid to go out on his balcony on the 24th floor of an apartment on the Upper East Side, that the threat of the ledge is sickening, that he laughs when I tell him his view would be the best to watch the downfall of the city, of a civilization. This is our mood these days, which is, I’m told, very American. To think in catastrophes, to stretch in disaster, to make events more shark-like, to eat up trash. This summer, people all over the world tell me about the country called America and yet I do not know to what they refer. I shrug. I get worked up. I shrug again. All I know is that in Paris, white men don’t look at me and in Lisbon, people still cherish children in bars and in Palermo, I watch my close friend, Elisa, roll and smoke cigarette after cigarette amidst the Mafia windmills. In Montreal, when I walk in a store, no one will help me like in Pretty Woman, and in New York, you can fall in and out of love
in the same day with a cheap, fickle quickness that was once defined as so Roman and now, is so very reactionary, so very American. Yet, to be from here is to always under-react, even if it kills you, even if the flooding waters have already snuck through the screen door, soaked the carpet, swelled your feet. It is to deny all of it even at the moment when your family is drowning. Truly, nothing is exceptional here except that my parents looked at a map and leapt and were received on some days and on others, not at all. Like everywhere.
IN WHICH I BECOME A MYTHOLOGY AND ALSO, EXECUTED Megan Fernandes
No one can humiliate you like that white woman who said your footsteps were too heavy in the hall. It seems she used to be a dancer, but never spent a day with a gypsy scale, knew music, but not if too percussive. Her tiny feet so unlike the plodding gait of a girl more built like a comet in the shape of a rubber duck. Sometimes I could see my parents spiraling in the Americas, in the opera rooms and dives, in the bodega where the VCR played Bollywood in Northeast Philly where my dad worked. In January, I will visit India and fail there too, because I am childless or because I am American where they gun down babies or because I took too long 6
to come back. Somedays I close my eyes and imagine a body of land without relatives like Iceland with her flagrant light, flaring in dance and those magnetic poles— a green current whistling across my eyelids. I want to throw myself in and come out dainty, come out graceful. Grace is a word that stings. Because if you don’t have it, you are not a lady. And if you are not a lady, then what are you. Chucked meat. Beast girl on speed. My parents hardly ever let me go on sleepovers to any white girl’s house unless she was an immigrant. I had a Greek friend. And Chinese. We had curfews and got slapped hard for mouthing off. We grew into dragons and ate too many pills in college groveling on a floor that could barely pass
for a forest like a centaur that has been shot and pulled along by ropeâ€” the weight of the horseâ€™s body, offending everyone.
SUMMER OF SILENCE Joanna Hershon
During the summer of 1988, I turned sixteen and had my jaw broken and reconstructed. Having been, I suppose, an interesting kind of pretty (the kind of girl that people said would grow into her dramatic looks), my face had taken a decidedly unfortunate turn in the last few years: my jaw was growing downward and none of my molars came together. In short, I had a nasty overbite. According to the oral surgeon, if I didn’t have surgery, I’d lose all my teeth by the time I was forty. My mother and father looked over the X–rays, received second and third opinions, and decided surgery was the best option. So, at the end of my sophomore year of high school, after eating nearly a whole pizza in a hospital bed before somehow going to sleep, I woke the next morning, took my first Valium, and headed into the OR. I should say that I always knew I was lucky. I was the kind of kid who understood the privilege of being able to have jaw surgery in the first place, worried in my journal that if I was poor, if I was born a century earlier, I’d have to simply work on my moral character and live with my long – and eventually toothless – face. I understood it was a fluke (because my kind of God did not divine such horrors) that I was not the boy in the neighboring room, the one bandaged from head to toe. I was lucky. But let me tell you that the first night spent in intensive care, when I woke with a catheter in my bladder and tubes running down my nose into my throat, and felt as if I was suffocating, I didn’t feel lucky. I still remember the sensation of not being able to breathe and the acute pain in what seemed like every nerve from my collarbone upwards. I remember hitting the call button and begging the nurse for relief, getting a shot of morphine. And I remember the Indian nurse who sat by my bedside – how kind and calm she was. I think of her often; she taught me not only
how to behave around someone in pain but how essential that behavior can be. Days later, when I was released from the hospital, my jaw was wired shut and would stay that way for six weeks. I couldn’t speak. If I needed to express myself I had a yellow legal pad and several pens. I was swollen and unsettled but basically fine. Though I started out drinking protein smoothies or broth and variations on smoothies and broth, by week two I was drinking three delicious milkshakes a day. They were my only source of pleasure; I never tired of those milkshakes: cookies and cream, coffee, black and whites; Haagen Daz, I still love you. My memory of that summer was one perfect sunny day followed by another. It was the exact backdrop to be young and physically active, outside. This was not my reality. Though it was only my jaw that was broken, my whole body felt frail. I was supposed to stay out of the sun, as heat intensified the swelling. Plus, my mother enrolled me in typing class, which was such a solid, pragmatic suggestion that I couldn’t even bring myself to rail against it. Every day I dressed in the denim-batik ensembles that today I might call ‘hippie-depressive,’ and she dropped me off at the secretarial school. I filed into a windowless room with hundreds of older women (all women, not one exception) all dressed in appropriate secretarial attire. And while the teacher called out nonsensical sentences meant to familiarize us with the keyboard, and while the other students whizzed through these dictations, I let the sounds become white noise: teacher’s stern voice? Gone. Long nails clicking on the keyboard? Industrial fan? Nothing but the crashing sea. I started typing stories. After about a week of this, after completing a story about a doomed small town summer romance in the mid 1950s,and several stabs at (unsurprisingly) percussive stream-of-conscious 9
prose poetry, it was the St. Rocco festival– my first social foray since the operation. Dark sky, festive lights, the breeze spiked with fried dough; my friends were on the Ferris wheel. As they went round and round, as the sounds of giggling and shouting blended into the canned top forty blasting from speakers and cars, I neither related to my friends, nor was particularly bothered by this. They seemed to be part of a different, more innocent world. With whom I did suddenly identify as that wheel made its age-old rotation, were the senior citizens on the periphery. The ancient gnarled woman waving to her grandchildren; the man whose pants were falling down. I felt what I imagined was the fierce exhaustion that accompanied old age and also the wonderment at witnessing the seemingly boundless – even pointless – energy of youth. I couldn’t wait to get home to write about it. I still have the story. It’s – as one might imagine – overwrought. But there I was that night and through most of that summer: speechless, set apart, with my new face that was terrifically swollen but also looking more and more like the face I’d left behind with my childhood. There I was with my legal pad and my typing class and the man at the coffee truck during our break time each and every day saying: come on honey would it kill you to smile? There I was when my mother’s estranged brother appeared at our door, stepping out of what I remember as a visible cloud of pot smoke. He had a duffel bag and a very large dog. My parents – both decidedly conservative – were out for the night. Jaw surgery, I scribbled. Bummer, he said. I offered him cookies. Gave the dog some water. We sat outside by the pool while he smoked a joint. As the crickets crescendoed and the pool lights cast an eerie green glow, I scribbled down questions and showed them to him. My uncle talked, the dog panted, and I listened. There I was, that summer, starting to write it all down. Previously published in Kristen Alexander 10
THE MAP PAINTER Tyler Knott Gregson
I had a dream you painted maps, spent extra ink and care on the spots we hadn’t gone, took a bit more time, even if only you knew. I sat quietly in a dim study, it smelled like leather, like wood, like pipe smoke but not mine. Like scent was a refugee and knew to flee here, where it would be safe, called a treasured thing. It took me back, smelling that, but I don’t know where to. Somewhere, I heard your globe spin. You’re a storyteller, I said, across the room and out the door, sunlight fading outside and turning everything sharp and slightly yellow. I remember the shadow the books made, window lit and cascading onto my lap-a city skyline across my thighs, all the lights were off. I had a dream you painted maps, hands dirty with city names and mountain ranges, the last letters of a sea, staining your fingertips. I sat quietly, and maybe for the first time, knew pride.
ECHOES OF A DREAM Jay Frankston
Although I never came close enough to the fire to be scorched, the radiation has penetrated my psyche and Nazi boots trampled my dreams, and Loreleis and Lily Marlenes sing under the lanterns of my past.
the impending doom and fled from the field of disaster, and some lay so quiet and still that the hand did not see them, but most were caught in the web and carted away to their deaths in the ovens of the devil.
I recall my childhood in Paris in the late 1930s. Small and puny and dressed in the name FRANKENSTEIN, a joke to spiteful children of my age, I was the subject to laughter and derision, and a deep loneliness sucked me in, a loneliness from which I have never come out. It was the time of the “Crosses of Fire”, surging fascism with its inevitable anti-Semitic credentials. It was then that I found out that I was a Jew. On the notebooks I brought home from school, scribbled in children’s handwriting, the words “DEATH TO JEWS” and “HANG THEM ALL” made me first aware of a religious background I had inherited and had not taken to mind.
I was one of those who escaped the carnage. I found myself alive and well, living in New York, fifteen years of age, not quite understanding what had happened and yet branded by an everlasting loneliness which still lives in the marrow of my bones.
Unthinking children, with no way to vent the bitterness that was invested in them by their authoritarian parents, ran through the streets like wild dogs chasing the Jewish lamb into a corner and biting its legs. Since there were only a few of us in each neighborhood I ran the streets alone, fleeing from the horde of misguided children and seeking refuge where none existed. And in the distance I could hear the sound of those heavy boots marching in cadence and crushing the grapes in its path until the juice, the color of blood, splattered the streets, and the sidewalks, and the gray walls of the houses of Paris. And in the quiet that followed, a long hand, with bony fingers, reached into every corner of the French night to pluck out the Jewish flies and send them off to Auschwitz. Some had sensed
It was not until a few years later that I first became aware of the magnitude of the slaughter that had taken place and something inside of me rebelled. Some Jews, whose faith had never been stoic, seemed confirmed in their doubt by the question they raised on their theistic flag pole: “Where was God when six million of his chosen people were slaughtered like lambs?” And every fiber of my being revolted against this simplistic attitude. There were no outbreaks in those camps, few attempts to resist the fate that they succumbed to, no interference with the events that led them to their unnatural end, and I could not help but wonder why. And there I was in the grips of my adolescence, angry and proud, and promising myself to let no one scratch the surface of my moral fiber, reaching deep within myself for the gleaming sword of justice with which to do battle in the name of righteousness. And I entered the field of law charging on a white stallion, like a gladiator in the arena, like St. George and the dragon, like Don Quixote and the windmills. And for nearly twenty years I rammed my spear into the belly of the monster and he was barely scratched.
But I was tired and weary. My body was scarred and my spirit was bleeding and I had to tend to myself.
thing is perfect. There is no such thing as right or wrong. There is only that which is. There is an order in the order of things and everything is in that order.”
So I took off my sword and gave away my horse and retreated to the woods. There I sat under a tree, meditating on the state of my being. I dug my fingers into the rich black soil and planted the seeds of my discontent. The seasons changed and when spring came around I saw that my seeds had given birth to beauty and realized how blind I had been. How everything is perfect. How there is no such thing as right or wrong, there is only that which is. How there is an order in the order of things and everything is in that order. And I folded my hands and let out a resounding “OM” which came out of the depths of my soul and surrounded me with a total sense of well-being.
Everything? EVERYTHING? And the words exploded inside my head and I let out a resounding scream. “NO! NO! Not everything. Not this. I must stand. I must fight. I must resist. Give me back my sword. There are millions of us and only a few hundred of them and if we have to die we will die our own deaths, and not theirs. And the night faded and swept my dream away. And with the morning that followed there descended upon me a great confusion, a conflict within me between that in which I am a crusader, and that in which . . . I am a priest.
And then . . . I had this dream: Over the gate the sign read “AUSCHWITZ”. The ground was cold under our feet as we stood naked, all in a row, waiting to be taken to the showers. That’s how they did it you know, only sometimes it was a shower, and sometimes it was gas that came out of the shower heads. And the ones that followed loaded the corpses on wheelbarrows and took them to the ovens for cremation. And there we were, shivering in the cold, following and followed by naked bodies whose flesh had fallen off from malnutrition, and the dreadful shower house some distance ahead. And I saw these two Hassidic Jews in front of me praying in Hebrew with undiminished faith. And I saw these two Jews in back of me grasping a last hope and saying: “Maybe it will be really a shower. After all, it’s a shower once in a while. Who says it will not be a shower today?” And I saw myself in the midst of them, walking quietly with resignation, my hands folded in front of me and the words echoing in my mind: “Every13
BORDERLINE Kate Gilmore
COLLECTING FOR THE TRIBUNE E. Martin Pederson
When I was eleven, I wanted a bicycle, a stingray I saw in a shop window with a sparkly blue banana seat and chopper handlebars. My mother drove me in our new-used ‘66 Fairlane to the newspaper office and helped me ask how to become a paperboy. There, the secretary took the completed application form over the counter, with my brand new social security number and signature on it, and told me to come back to a carrier meeting on Saturday. I got a route which included the part of town north of my street, W. Forster Avenue, with parts of downtown, including the court house and city hall. At first, I borrowed David Kennelworth’s bike from across the street. It took me most of a year, at about ten dollars a month, before I could buy my own pet bike and a transistor radio with an earphone. On the front lawn, David and I took pictures of ourselves with his Brownie camera in karate poses like Cato of the Green Hornet TV show. We loved the Green Hornet, which was on Fridays at 7 pm, and we loved Cato played by Bruce Lee. I still have those square black-and-white photos of me and David Kennelworth, knees bent, chopping the air. Some guy in a station-wagon dumped a stack of papers tied with string in front of my house every day after school. I rolled each one up, put a rubber band on it, stacked them in my canvas double bag that fit over my head, took my list of addresses and David’s bike, and rode off about four o’clock tossing papers on lawns, trying to make it home for dinner by six.
The last week of each month, I’d ride out again after supper, ring doorbells and yell through the door, “Collecting for the Tribune!” The customers would give me their $1.75, and I put it in my belt pouch to turn in to the newspaper office. If someone didn’t pay up, their subscription came out of my pay, and their service got terminated. The public offices and businesses paid directly to the paper. I liked going into buildings, such as the county courthouse, because they were air-conditioned and had a drinking fountain. Plus, I got a glimpse of civic life walking the long corridors. Downtown over the shoe repair shop, there were some small apartments. I left a paper in the mailbox of Mr. R. Freeman by the old red wood door that opened with a buzzer. When I’d go collecting, Mr. Freeman would yell at me to come on up. He opened his door a crack and handed me my money. I saw he had a thin beard like a beatnik, wore glasses but no tie, had a fat belly, and he smelled bad like sour milk and cigarette ashes. One time I walked up the dark stairs and down the dark hall to apt. 5 whose door was open. Mr. Freeman yelled at me to come on in. “Collecting for the Tribune,” I said. I felt very uncomfortable entering his messy place and closing the door as he told me to. He rumbled around in the bedroom trying to find his wallet, and I could see an unmade single bed and a chipped dresser. In the small living room, there were lots of books and papers and boxes lying around in stacks, a big table in the center with a big black typewriter on it and plates, glasses, ashtrays and coffee mugs. Newspapers filled every corner; I guess he never
threw them away. Mr. Freeman had been eating, cutting a brick of cheddar cheese onto saltines with a sharp knife, not a kitchen knife. His plate sat on some papers.
Decades have passed, yet I cannot eat orange cheddar on crackers without thinking of Mr. Freeman in his writer’s apartment. Love in Time of War by Randall Freeman
“How much again?”
Wiggy saw that dot so small, so far out in the waves. She frantically flipped off her shoes and ran until the white froth slowed her and then dove into a wimpy wave and swam with clean strokes, head down, through a bigger breaker. The gray saltwater of 6 a.m. was icy even for San Diego, and the chill pushed her more urgently toward her best girlfriend, Elly Mayfield. Oh God, Elly, come back.
“$1.75.” “Okay, here’s $2.00. Have you got change?” “Yeah.” “I’m a writer, you know? Not for the Tribune, just a writer. This is how a writer lives.” The bathroom door was wide open.
Elly didn’t seem to be swimming at all, just bobbing as they had done many times before, but Wiggy had seen the pumps and shift and slip and brassiere and underpanties on the beach, instantly jumping to a terrifying conclusion. She could see the back of Elly’s head about fifty feet out, faced toward Asia. “Elly!” she yelled. No answer, no movement. She swam on as hard as she could. “ELLY!” and the head turned. Wiggy waved, Elly waved back. They swam toward each other.
“You like reading?” he asked. “Yeah.” “Want to read a story of mine? It’s set in 1942 during the Second World War. Here. It was printed in Reader’s Digest. Do you read Reader’s Digest?” “Yeah, maybe, sometimes … at the dentist.” “Here’s a Reader’s Digest reprint of my story. You read it and tell me what you think, okay?”
“What’s the matter?” Wiggy yelled at twenty feet. “What’s the matter?” Elly answered.
They came closer.
“Tell me what you think. I want to know.”
“You’re stark naked!” Wiggy exclaimed.
I was glad to get out of there. For the next two years, I never collected from Mr. Freeman again, though I delivered his paper every day. I didn’t want him to invite me inside his place again or ask what I thought of his story.
“You’re swimming with your clothes on!” Elly answered. They joined in a clumsy wet embrace. “I was worried, I saw your clothes, after what happened, you know …” Wiggy choked.
I still have it though, and I have read it several times. It’s not so bad.
“You’re whacky Wig, you needn’t worry about 16
me. I just wanted some refreshment, some freedom; I needed to wake up. Did you really think I wanted to do myself in or something?” “Yo!” “What? Over Hank? You must be kidding. There’re plenty of other men, you know?” Elly responded. “That’s not what you said last night.” “I’ve rinsed out my brain since last night. I’m not about to die over love. It’s not worth it, Hank’s sure not worth it. Plenty of fish out here in the sea, you know? I’ll just have to take up fishing again.” “That’s the spirit! That’s my doll! Now let’s get back, I’m freezing my backside off!” “I’ll race you.” “No, El, I can’t. I’m tuckered.” “Oh, poor baby, all my fault.” “Elly,” Wiggy said, looking under the water, “you’re stark naked!” “That’s right,” Elly replied, “just me and my birthday suit. Isn’t it a glorious day?” “If you say so. But you buy the java.” Eleanor’s best friend Wiggy had gotten her into this. The sailors were leaving from Coronado Island Naval Air Station, and, while they went through their physicals, paperwork, and orientation, the girls cheered them up with talk, jukebox dancing, newspapers, cigarettes, lemonade and doughnuts. Processing took several days, so the volunteer girls got to know some of the recruits by name, and sailors can be awfully cute. The U.S.O. wore yellow uniforms trimmed in green.
Elly, the toughest nut to crack, seemed indifferent to all that masculine charm. Her smile was always sincere, and her detection of justified fear made her the favorite confidante. Some boys thought they were going off to summer camp; the smart ones knew they were going to kill or be killed. So one last look into sympathetic peepers (hazel, in Elly’s case) made a world of difference. Later, a few wrote to Elly from the Pacific. She wrote back but didn’t lose her cool. Elly felt she had a duty to contribute all she could to the war effort. “Why should the boys make all the sacrifices, while we girls stay here and play house?” was her classic remark. She went to war along with the boys and viewed her service in the U.S.O. as the highest form of moral support. Afterwards, she hoped to go to college. But after the war didn’t exist during the war. The first time that Elly heard someone raise an intelligent question about the armed conflict, she was having lunch with Wiggy and Sondra at the same table as sun-tanned Junior Medical Officer, Henry Longman, of Tucson, Arizona. The New York Times, he said, had published an editorial implying that Roosevelt might have been forewarned about the Pearl Harbor attack. “Personally,” he claimed, “I hope it isn’t true because that would mean that the President allowed it to happen in order to eliminate all longing for neutrality and get us smack dab in the middle of conflicts in Europe and the Pacific at the same time.” “Wars are not won with guns,” Longman continued, “but with hearts. If the U.S. has the stronger will we can defeat anyone, but the price will be high, too high to accept if our hearts are weak.” Elly, furious at this seeming lack of patriotism, blurted out, “Is your heart strong or weak, Dr. Longman?” “Well, I’m no cardiologist, young lady …” 17
ery. I have come to see the war as prevention of an even more catastrophic future.”
“Elly Mayfield.” “Call me Hank.”
Elly hadn’t understood completely, but her initial impression that the doctor was some sort of traitor was softened by his reasoning, his low voice and his handsome, delicate hands.
“Go on.” “I think that my heart is with our effort to eliminate totalitarianism from the face of the earth.”
“Then, may I ask you, Dr. Hank, what you did when you realized that our country was doing the right thing?”
“Meaning?” “I mean Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito, the evil dictators, must be stopped for the survival of freedom and of the legitimate governments of the world. They are also diabolical mass-murderers who deserve death along with their armed forces. Stalin and Mao Tse Tung aren’t much better.”
“I enrolled that day.”
“Well, it’s good to know you’re on our side then!”
It seemed like Hank Longman’s heart was in the right place after all. His first concern was the safety and well-being of his men, but at the same time he supported the war not because he’d read slogans on matchbooks, but because he truly believed in it.
“You said it was two years ago.” “They wouldn’t take me because I was still in medical school. Now that I’m a doctor, I can go practice patching up our boys.”
“I did have some reservations in the past because we were debating whether or not to get into a European war to save European countries being attacked by other European countries, and I was not entirely convinced that that was our role as a sovereign nation.”
“May I get you some pie, Dr. Hank?”
“And what changed your mind, Pearl Harbor?” “I was worried that our boys would be killed. One thing is to fight your own fights, another thing is to fight the fights of others …” “So?” “Elly!” Wiggy butted in to scold Elly for her rudeness towards an officer. “A couple years ago, it’s true, I was an isolationist. My thinking on the subject changed when I realized we were fighting for principles against other principles, and that the fight, if won, would save millions of lives from oppression and mis-
“Only if you just call me Hank, and I like cherry or apple if you’ve got any.” When she returned balancing a whole green apple pie and a pot of coffee to refill the group, Hank and Wiggy had been talking but shut up. Elly grew suspicious. Wiggy and Sondra made an excuse and left. Hank had the afternoon off and wanted to go driving along the blue ocean that was new for him and would Elly like to come along? She could; her shift was over; her parents weren’t expecting her till suppertime. She even had a flowered bathing costume in her purse. But could she trust this stranger? In the spirit of the times, she went. They had a
wonderful afternoon, talking and laughing, sunbathing and driving in the warmth and the pungent odor of salt. At about 5 p.m., Hank said, “I should be getting you home, how would you like to go out to a movie together some time?”
The whole evening was perfect. They all listened to Jack Benny and ‘The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show’ and when ‘The Shadow’ came on the youngsters went out to rock on the porch swing.
“Like next weekend? You’ll be gone, silly goose.”
“Should we say the word?”
“I know, it’s awkward for me to have to speed things ahead, but …”
“Tomorrow?” “Uh huh.”
“If you stop at a phone booth and let me call home I’ll give you an answer.”
“Tomorrow will be a sad day for me, Dr. Hank, but I guess a woman’s fate is that her man is always coming and going.”
They didn’t go see a picture show; they drove up to the top of a hill, sat on the hood of the navy Buick, and when the red sun went down on the ocean they hugged. And as night approached, they kissed. Hank was waiting for Elly the next day in the mess hall. “Hi there, sailor,” she said, walking in on air, “could I interest you in a home-cooked meal this evening?” It would be his last supper stateside. He imagined that Elly’s mother would make a pot roast and vegetables and homemade bread as a gesture of support for the armed forces, but Elly was also inviting him to meet her folks because he might be the one. Hank accepted without hesitation. In those days, all decisions were yes or no and right there and then. Elly was tickled. They spent the afternoon swimming at the beach on Coronado Island because Hank could not get the car again. Then they took the bus down to La Jolla where Elly lived. As he entered the Mayfield house, Hank exclaimed, “That, Mrs. Mayfield, is the marvelous odor of pot roast.” Elly introduced her folks and little brother, Scoot. Her father wore a green and brown plaid shirt and smoked a pipe. He worked at U.C. as a marine biologist, a clam specialist. The supper was perfect, and Hank said so several times.
“Yes, but I will return. I will return to you, Elly. I’m sweet on you. When I go off tomorrow just pretend that I’m George Burns going off to work in the morning, and I’ll be home for supper, Gracie, only that it will be a very very long day.” “Hank, there’s never been another man, and there never will be. I love you, and I will wait for you until hell freezes over.” “It seems like we’ve known each other all our lives.” “Doesn’t it!” “Could you ask your father to call me a cab? I don’t want to keep you up too late.” “No, don’t go so soon. It’s our last night together.” “It’s almost midnight, Elly, so it’s not our last night. It’s our first morning.” Mr. Mayfield called a yellow cab while Hank and Elly kissed and embraced long and hard on the porch swing. Tears filled their eyes. The cab drove up, and Dr. Longman was off to war to do his part helping defeat the Japs. Elly cried into
her pillow all night long. She arrived late on the base the next morning. At lunch, when she entered the mess hall and Hank was not there, she walked out and didn’t eat. She couldn’t touch her leftover pot roast at dinner and couldn’t explain why. “Did he mention marriage?” “He implied it.” “Oh, pally, that’s the oldest trick in the book.” “Not Hank’s book. He’s true, I’m 100% certain.” “Then you really will wait for him?” “Of course I will. As long as it takes.” “Wow!” The girls: Wiggy, Sondra, Marilyn, Bev and the rest, all had boyfriends one after the other. But they were the good girls, not like gold-digger Liz Beaumont and her gang who would let any man do anything he wanted with them. Wiggy told Elly a story one day while they were scrubbing out the coffee cauldron: “When I was at Mission High, my best friend’s name was Betty Cromwell. We studied together and slept over, the works. And in my Junior year, I fell for this guy named Steve Clegg, who was half-Jewish and a football player. Anyway, Steve was a swell kid and cute as a bug’s ear too. I went out with Steve for about two months, and Betty set up a double date for us. That evening, she seemed really flirty with her paws all over Steve, but I thought she might not be used to drinking beer. Honey, the beer had nothing to do with it. “Betty had had eyes on my Steve for a while and been planning how to snatch him away from me.
And he fell under her spell like a chump, because when a phony floozy pads her bra and winks her eyelashes at a dumb boy he’ll fall for it like a sucker every time. But losing Steve to Betty didn’t upset me as much as her devious falsity. Or not even that: she ruined our relationship; she ruined everything. Then she and Steve broke up in the summer. Betty and I never spoke after that. Squat.” “You mean ‘love kills,’ something like that?” “I don’t know what I mean, it’s just a story.” “Okay.” Elly got her first letter from Hank after he’d been out of port ten days: My Dear Elly, Life on board ship is boring beyond words for everyone except me. I have you. I think of you constantly, morning, noon and night. Elly Mayfield, you conquered me. My heart is yours. Your strength, companionship and beauty are mine. Yours most truly, Hank Longman Dear Hank, Thank you very much for your kindly intimate letter. I cried when I read it the first time and every time. Please excuse me if I am not a proliferous letter writer (is that a word?) but I would rather speak to you in person holding hands on the porch swing like on our last night together. We will soon. With deep affection, Elly Dearest Elly, Also your letter was lovely. As you can imagine I can’t say anything about where we are or what is happening, but I can say that I am well and that I love you very much. Yours most truly, 20
Dear Hank, my boy, We have lots of work to do here at the U.S.O., but I also think of you constantly. I think you have understood what sort of gal I am. In high school the others made fun of me because of my straight A’s and because I didn’t have loads of boyfriends. I didn’t care, I said I would rather wait until the right guy comes along, and then I met you. Bye and a squeeze, Elly
Dear Elly, I’m well, though we’ve had some trouble here. Gotta go, all my love, Hank
Dear El, I’ll take a sec to jot a short note to you. As you’ve probably heard things have gotten intense quite suddenly. I’m fine and busy doing my best, which is all I can do. I realize that I still have a lot to learn about my profession as I am called to intervene in areas (especially surgery) that I was not specifically trained for. You know me, I like a challenge and only wish I were not always so tired. Yours, now & forever, Hank My Dear Hank, I’m sorry to hear you’re so busy that you’re not getting your proper sleep. It must be awful to do such delicate work when you’re not fresh (surgery? I thought general practitioners didn’t do surgery. I guess you do whatever needs doing, that’s so like you.). With love, Elly Dear Hank, I read that your ship was hit. I’m worried sick about you. Please write, wire or call me as soon as you’re able so I can relax knowing you’re safe. I pray for you every night as does all the Wesleyan Fellowship at my church. Your girl,
Dear Hank, Thank you for your note scribbled in haste (are doctors required to write so illegibly? ha ha). I am greatly relieved that you’re okay. I would do anything to see you again and hide my face in your neck and kiss your eyes. Yours, really yours, Elly Dear Elly, When I finally get a moment to lay on my bunk and think, I try to remember your face and all the love I feel for you (by the way, please send me your picture). Wish I were in San Diego with you. Your Lieutenant (yes, I got a promotion), Hank Dear Lootenant Hank, Congratulations, I’m certain your promotion is well deserved. You’re a great doctor and a great man! I’m so proud of you, I’ve told everyone I know. Wiggy says hello and my parents do too. Your loving Elly Dear Elly, Just a short note to tell you the sad news that my father died last month. I got a quick leave and returned to Tucson, though not in time for the funeral. My mother is anxious to meet you. All my love, H.
Dear Hank, I’m so sorry about your father. My sailor boys here tell me that your bereavement leave uses up your time off for the current year and, although I’m ashamed of my selfishness, that means we won’t see each other again for a long long time. I’m terrible I know, but I so wish you were near. With much love and condolences, from my parents too, Elly Dear El, When I was home in Tucson a couple months ago I realized how much I like Tucson. I like my town, the southwest Indian culture, the dry warm clime. It’s a small town, we all know each other, nothing compared to San Diego, but friendly and special. Cactus even grow in our backyards! I wish you could see it. Would you miss the sea too much? I keep dreaming of an abode house with pink and blue curtains. Your best boy, Hank Dear Hank, I’d love to see Tucson and the Indian adobes and the cacti (Dad tells me that’s the plural). Honest Injun! Darling, with you, any place on earth would be great! I love the sea, my father always took me digging clams and wading in the tide pools when I was a kid. Please win this war soon, Lt. Longman. I wanted to send you my picture but all I have are a strip Wiggy and I made in the automatic machine here in S.D. I don’t think you care for a picture of myself and Wiggy with our tongues out, or do you? I’ll try to have a lady-like photo made soon. Yours, Elly
Dear Hank, Hi sweetheart, long time, no news. Instead of the usual mush, let me relate an incident that happened at the U.S.O. yesterday. It’s nothing compared to the blood and guts that are your daily bread (sorry about the mixed metaphors), but I’ll tell you anyway. A boy came in to us, a small fellow named Ross, he looked about 15. His issued uniform was so big he had to tilt his cap back. When I offered him doughnuts and coffee he wasn’t interested in food in the slightest. That’s unusual. I said jokingly that every condemned man has the right to a last meal. It was a cruel joke and so true that I stunned myself. When he was called for his physical exams he was AWOL. I knew who he was so I went looking for him. He was not in the bathroom (another sailor checked), he wasn’t in the big hall or outside; he seemed to have gone, but something about his strange panic worried me. I went upstairs to the offices and there was no one around but passing one open door I saw an open window so I stuck out my head and saw the boy on a ledge ready to jump—just like in the movies. I leaned out and called him. I said my name was Elly Mayfield and I needed to talk to him. He didn’t answer or move so I told him to come back inside or I’d come out. He was frozen. I sat backwards on the sill with only my hands and legs inside and told him to turn his head and look at me. At one point I yelled to shock him. Then when I had his attention I told him about my boyfriend, a marvelous doctor who was in the Pacific fighting the War. I went on and on about you, and I asked him if he would take a message to you. If and when the two of you met, if he would promise to tell you that Elly loves you very much, and I made him promise. So since he had promised I went inside and said I’d wait for him downstairs with a soda pop and coconut pie, his favorite. He came down about 10 minutes later and I didn’t tell anyone that he’d been on the verge of suicide from fear of joining the Navy. 22
Later on I told Mom and Wiggy, I tell them everything. If a sailor ever comes to you bringing my message of love please thank him for me (his name is not really Ross, you’ll see). Your daredevil girl, Elly
married. We’re even thinking about having the chaplain tie the knot so that if anything happens we’ll be husband and wife in any case. I know this news must hurt you terribly but remember that we really only knew each other for two days. It would never have worked out. I’ve aged twenty years since then. For now I’ve begun a second tour of duty and then my dream is to return to private practice in Tucson after the war. Please don’t write me anymore. I’m sorry. Hank
Dear El, Sorry I haven’t written in so long. Things are hellish here. I’m on another ship as ours was torpedoed and sunk, but most of the crew is safe. On the hospital ship we see the worst nightmares. I hate the damned Japs for what they do to our boys when they’re captured! Anyway, thanks for the prayers and your letters of encouragement, Hank
Wiggy came to the volunteers’ table with two glasses of fresh-squeezed orange juice. “Here, drink this. You have to drink, you have to eat, Elly, for gosh-sake, it’s only a man!”
Dear Hank, Maybe my story of the distraught sailor seemed like sentimental nonsense compared to what you’re seeing every day. I don’t know what to say. I feel so for you and your safety. A big long hug, Elly
“Hank was not only a man. He talked about curtains, pink and blue! That means starting a family—with me, Wig! He was not just a man; he was the man!”
Dear Hank, Are you okay? I’ve written several times with no response. Are you getting my letters? Six months, no news! I’m worried sick. Please answer if you can. I’ve enclosed a recent photo. Your concerned gal, Elly Mayfield
“Well, he evidently didn’t love you, did he?”
“He was a rat, a low-down dirty rat!” “I loved him.”
“Yes, he did.” “He lied to you. He led you on.” “Things changed.”
Dear Elly, I’m sorry I haven’t written before, please accept my sincerest apologies. War has a very disturbing effect on us weak mortals. I was on the aircraft carrier, the Arizona, then was transferred to the hospital ship, the Saratoga, last year. There I met a nurse, Sally, and, to put it bluntly because I don’t know any other way, we’re engaged to be
“You never went out, El, never even looked at another man. The best years of your life. How long would you have waited? Holding your breath, hoping your love was real.” “It was.” “Not for him!”
“For him too!” “Elly, dammit! What is love to you anyway? Sometimes I think you live in some fairy land. A couple kisses, a false promise—true or false, no matter—and you stop living your life. You had no news for the longest time, while that cad was making whoopee with his nurse. What if the war goes on ten years? Would you wait forever? What if you’re an old woman when your prince charming comes home? You want to study literature; don’t you know that love is the ultimate fiction? An entire library of books and songs and moving pictures all to convince us that nothing else matters. When a person grows up, girl, they discover that everything else matters, and how! Maybe love is just a word; you never thought of that, Elly Mayfield? Financial support, first and foremost, moral support, being there when you need him, friendship, companionship, husbandhood, fatherhood, decency, dedication, loyalty— these things matter! Wake up, dreamer!” “Shut up, Wiggy! Just shut up and leave me alone! Without love how can you live? What’s the point? You’re jaded, that’s what you are. I hate you!” As Elly stomped out, Wiggy yelled after her: “But Elly, you waited over two years for nothing, your heart in mothballs, can’t you see that you are completely off your head!” The End
DREAMS Frank De Canio
When stress becomes a bit too hard to bear, and feckless friends have left me in the lurch, resentment so entangles roots of care that in despair I put on hold the search for happiness. My tears bestrew the earth, scorched with the heat of a pitiless sun that promises no fig leaf of rebirth from salutary rains till day is done. So I wait on the night’s benevolence. And just when Nature’s fecund realm seems dead, love’s stubborn flower rises up and rends its leaden shroud. Rearing its prickly head like a cactus, it caps shimmering strands with lush mirages on my desert sands.
DREAMSCAPE #2 Frank De Canio
Out of the shadows of sleep, only one image remains from a procession of others that loomed pregnant with foreboding. I wanted to escape the shutter of the camera a devout Christian girl I knew held before me, poised to have me fixed in celluloid. As she snapped my picture I winced at its grave finality. I didn’t like the way I looked and asked her for another to weather the tribulations of time. She complied. I wasn’t satisfied with that one either, as I anxiously maneuvered to squirm out of the metaphoric box that opened up before me in the presence of my enemies. Surely this would shadow me all the days of my strife. She smiled dismissively, as if to say, I could do no better. Rising and oblivious to, my protestations, she moved on with my future impaled in the palm of her hand.
YANKEE STADIUM Christina Elia
One month. That’s how long Madelyn could afford her apartment on 103rd and Central Park West before she headed back the same direction. Four Friday nights in a row, I dragged my listless body up five incredibly steep flights of stairs, before reaching her doorstep, panting to the point of quasi vomitation, and knocking. We would go to art galleries, get smoothies, pass bowls on her firescape. Sometimes, we would get beer, Corona or Heineken, deli sandwiches, or, order Grubhub, and then argue with the customer service people when they wouldn’t let us use our $10 coupon three times in a row, with four different fake phone numbers.
complex, with resentment against our fathers. Hers worked for the New York Yankees and was a deadbeat, when it came to both emotional and monetary support (even though he makes more than 5 figures.) My father hadn’t been there to see me grow up. When I made jokes about punching Madelyn’s in the face, I wasn’t so much joking, as I was debating showing up where he worked and navigating my way through the secret tunnels.
Growing up my mother always taught me to put others before myself. She lead by terrific example: she would never sit down to eat until every single person at the table had food on their plates, she would give out all the things we grew in our garden, like squash, tomatoes, peaches, and figs, to most of the neighbors before we were ever able to nibble at the leftovers. She hardly even went shopping to buy her own clothes. She would wait until the post-Christmas sales, and hope to find something in her size, before putting most of the money she had from that paycheck into a bank account to pay for my college courses. She told me that people needed her help, and that’s what made her a good person. It’s what others always recognized in her. When I met Madelyn, I was instantly protective over her. She was younger than me, with a little less of an idea of her place in the world, in a big city that was thousands of miles away from her home back in Colorado Springs. We first hung out through a mutual friend at Fordham, and before long, we realized that, slight differences aside, we basically had the same personality: sarcastic and witty, albeit a bit of an outsider
When her freshman year ended, she started planning to live off campus for the 2017 school year. She had dreamt about her own apartment in New York ever since she was a little kid. I was also excited. I had already started planning aesthetic decor schemes for this hypothetical apartment. Since I still lived at home, it was the closest thing I had to my own concept of freedom. I fantasized about smoking out the window, having sleepovers and coming home whatever time we wanted, drinking on the living room couch. We made big plans like going to concerts, visiting museums, or maybe stopping by Yankee Stadium to confront the fact that her father never answered her emails or paid child support. We joked about it a lot, but we really just wanted to just show up there and look him in the eye and make him understand what he had been missing all those years. Since her apartment would vicariously be mine too, I felt like I needed to make sure she would be okay living by herself. From the beginning, times were rough. A week before she was planning to leave for New York, having already signed the lease with two girls she met on the internet, she had to take a leave of absence from Fordham because her mom refused to co-sign her loan. “Everything is falling apart,” she called me crying
one night. “I’m going to have to work full time to try to make this all work out and I’m scared.” “You can sleep on my couch if anything,” I told her. “Just get here and we’ll figure it out from there.” After some initial panic, we pieced together that she had just enough money saved to pay the first month’s rent and the security deposit. The first week we were hopeful. She got a job walking dogs, which would take care of pocket change, while I went out of my way to send her links to jobs that I found on the Internet. I wanted so desperately to find her a job that I asked my cousin, who worked at Hallmark, to see if they had an opening there, even though it was over an hour from where Madelyn lived in the city. By the second week we started worrying. She still hadn’t found an actual job and she knew she probably wasn’t going to be able to afford rent. “I might have to go back home,” she texted me one day. “I just don’t think I can afford it.” “I’m going to give you my next freelance check when it comes in the mail,” I said, even though my bank account only had $50 in it. “No. Nope. You’re not,” she said back, prideful as ever, still convinced that she could save herself when the two of us didn’t even have the capacity combined. “I don’t need it as much as you do,” I tell her. “And I’m still asking around to find you a job.” “People like you really make me believe that there’s still good in the world,” she texts back, though in that moment I felt as if I could truly hear the resignation in her voice. Towards the end of the third week, not even my
next check, and her sporadic wages could help us untangle the mess. It wasn’t even my apartment, and I felt as if I had inherited an amassed responsibility. I wanted her to stay in New York where she was happy. I wanted to keep making memories. She had gotten a job as a hostess at this upscale restaurant in Central Park but it was too late; her rent was due. I frantically began searching for cheaper apartments, even suggesting with disdain that she consider moving to Jersey city. I tried to do anything I could, but deep down we both knew what was coming. I always took New York City for granted. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I never had to pay my way into living a life that was almost solely based on a pretense of indie glamour, factitious importance, or apartments with views. It was a dream I never understood until I started college and actually interacted with people who weren’t born here. I eventually grasped the figurative significance this city had and the fact that it was seen an escape from the mundane, a new beginning, or just a place where someone could brag about “making it.” It was to the point where people didn’t mind skipping their next meal to make sure they made rent, eating on the floor out of paper plates, or pretending they tolerate their insufferable jobs even as the city chews them up and spits them back out. It seemed increasingly like a trap. The day before Madelyn went back home to Colorado we ate at Dallas BBQ and then played mini-golf in our half-high, half-drunk state. We laughed. We ate one last acai bowl for old time’s sake, and we sat by the pier to watch the sunset. By then, her room on 103rd was all packed up in boxes, ready for the subletter to settle in and make it her own, eradicating any traces of the fact that Madelyn had even lived there in the first place. All that was left in the hallway was the purple box with stickers she had in storage, and two acoustic guitars she wished she would have gotten to play more.
That night, I said goodbye to the deli with the borderline creepy worker who called us beautiful each time we went in, but always gave us discounts; I said goodbye to the five flights I would not miss climbing, staggering, light-headed and out of breath and with my shoes in my hands, because my feet were always hurting. When I said goodbye to her, I swallowed as if my whole mouth didn’t taste bitter with dysphoria. “I’ll see you soon,” I told her, just like I had said three months prior, when she had gone home for the summer. This time I was less sure of my words, disappointed more than anything else. We never really figured anything out. We never went to Yankee Stadium.
ALL Iâ€™M TAKING WITH ME Kate Gilmore
CHARLOTTESVILLE Mahlika Hopwood
All night, she stared into the cracked glass, the single flame within telling stories she could not pronounce
broke open her seeing eye, sent her body scattered over stained cement and pavement,
—and she imagined what might be coming down that road—
her form, a shattered rainbow, left to recollection, where we kneel gathering the shards that cut our palms,
men and women angling into asphalt, dressed in tarnished plates, steel barrels slanting into sky,
knowing that we too will be translated into some needful colors beyond the spectrum of this world.
the clamor of cadences rising and rolling toward a constellation of human forms
Hanging over earth there is a bow like a back breaking—
ground up in the gears of an ancient machinery.
And she wanted to cry— stop!
an iridescence, heard more than seen,
When morning came she walked out to the road beyond the window,
like the voice of a child wailing— in beauty, in pain.
not to hold a sign, but to be a sign, a direction speaking itself out. Beside the monochrome march, her pale skin was ripe with color. But what she had imagined was not waiting down the road. No—it had come to her. Cresting a corner, the engine and the gears, metallic and elemental, 30
BUKHARIAN GIRLS Anonymous
I was raised in a community that firmly believes that having a son is more exciting than having a daughter. The members of my family hold the same belief, and although they’ll of course love the child no matter what, there is always a sprinkle of disappointment in the moment when they find out that “It’s a girl”. Having a son brings joy to the family, the block, and ultimately the conjoined population of Forest Hills, Rego Park, and Jamaica Estates, entirely infected with Bukharian Jews. My father always says, “It’s not that we prefer having a son over a daughter, it’s just that a son can carry on the name!” (Hyphenating wasn’t a thing in Soviet Russia.) It’s quite unfortunate that my older sister and I were both supposed to be boys, and turned out to have the lesser reproductive organ. My father’s mother always wanted my Mom to try again, “Maybe you’ll get lucky this time!” Thanks, grandma. This belief is deeply rooted in our community, and the preferential treatment of men over women only sprouts at the moment that a mother finds out the sex of her unborn child is female, when suddenly everybody’s slightly less interested. Once the child is born, things will be average until her Bat Mitzvah is substantially less exciting than a Bar Mitzvah, then later when she finds out that she isn’t allowed to stay out too late simply because “she’s a girl”, and when she can’t go away for college it’ll be a real shit show. Even something as simple as wanting to sleepover at a friend’s house — “Bukharian girls sleep at home. End of conversation.” My parents are more modern than others, and my father proudly says “We raised our girls with the same expectations as we would have if we had two boys.” So although we never had sleepovers, my sister and I were always expected to excel in each aspect of our lives, be it education or work. We knew that we had to make up for not being men by achieving a professional title that would be as respected as “Mr.”And at least we were given the opportunity to do that, as opposed to the other parents who treat their daughters like investments: they’ll feed her, raise her well, teach her to cook, clean, be silent, and then marry her off to the richest man that’ll have her so that hopefully she, at one point, will reimburse them by having a son of her own. So is that all that bukharian girls do? They never leave the nest, hope to find a suitable match within the community and hope to have sons? Where does that put my sister and I if we refuse to remain in the nest, and do not hope for a suitable match within the community? Does the “-ova” at the end of my last name no longer hold any significance since I neglect my “duties” as a bukharian girl? Since I do not identify with the characteristics of a bukharian girl and an insufficient amount of genetic material resulted in me being a woman, where does that leave me? I aspire to be so much more than that definition of a female in my community, but I was raised in a community that firmly believes that having a son is more exciting than having a daughter.
PARTING WITH THE GODS Carlos Franco
LATELY Rae Monroe
I said if he got the power I’d fear for the life of my brother And you nodded wisely, Said I’d have good reason to, Like safety was something granted, Trickling down the throne to the masses Us murdered masses Blood used to be private-Office homicides, dark alley slayings Now it drips onto public streets, In front of delis, Women wave it, dried on pads, In front of the Monument MLK Jr would have gagged AT the heaps of bodies We have killed With our words, with trigger-happy teens With 27 year olds, Sex dripping from their lips. At 2 AM you sent a celebratory text As he published an epiphanical tweet, Blood dripping off his face on TV screens Did you know Did you know his son saw?
As annoying as a constant drip— Senecan slit wrists Only works in a warm bath Screw your superstitious 13-Bitch, I’ve got 1,093 reasons And they keep coming They ain’t even attacking But they keep coming, Lately Fucking lately.
Did you know every fucking body else did, too? “Comedians are the last line of defense” (Jim Carrey, ET red carpet interview), Neglecting the poets Screaming in every basement, Marijuana passed like a joke On the daily Lately Friends are so confused No more plotline, ‘cause this can’t be the finale: Everybody’s pain sagging Their sorrow dragging me down Lately I don’t want to care I open my heart But the blood keeps coming— 33
NOTE TO SELF Sibel Iskender
An explosion of notes onto the piano disperses into a triumphant chord and echoes through my empty living room. It’s about the 30th time I’ve played Debussy’s prelude from Suite Bergamesque, but I have an audition tomorrow, and every breath must be flawless. I decide I can no longer be distracted by the array of chicken scratch on the dismantled pages of my sheet music. Every trill, break, arpeggio must be repeated over and over again so that I know exactly what to expect. I don’t want any surprises when I’m faced with a panel of judges who determine the fate of what I think, or at least hope at the time, will be my musical career. I stop for a moment and sit at the edge of my stool in realization that I have it all wrong. I don’t really know why in particular I’m taking this so seriously, but I recognize that what I thought was my dream has merely become a fleeting reality. If my dad had heard me say these things out loud, I know he would be disappointed. Maybe not necessarily in me, but maybe in himself in the way he chose to steer the course of his own life. If it weren’t for me, he probably never would have chosen to come to the United States. Now that I’ve been given all the means necessary to decide what I wanted to do with everything he’s given me, I spoil myself with the idea of allowing myself to throw away twelve of my nineteen years devoted to music. Before I realize where I am, the piece is over, I’ve slammed my hands down on the final collection of keys, and I’m left alone with the silence of another passing moment. In a matter of months, I will be away at college, preparing for life outside of the confines of my small-town-immigrant-daughter syndrome. If this wasn’t most definitely contributing to what I thought would be the rest of my life, my career, I’m not too certain why I bother. But I forget that it’s okay not to know things. It is okay to be unsure. I’m conditioned that sureness is security, and unsureness is vulnerability. But I am learning it is okay to try, and to fail, because the beauty in it all is the willingness to figure it out.
ALWAYS THE FUTURE Cliff Saunders
Someday we’ll all rise from the shadows like the wind at the center of a storm. Deep in the woods, there’ll be songs of the sea, if only we’ll listen to blackberries licking their wounds. We’ll see red kites high in the sky, and we’ll cry if the graves continue to taunt one another all year long. We’ll forever be the tiny marsupials that fool the eye, that perplex emergency crews kicking a bulkhead door under a spotlight. Thankfully, love will come again, red lips fiery, and it will change into tasty possibilities. We’ll stop at nothing to light the sky in our hearts! The sun will come out for some lucky little girl behind a hotel desk, and we’ll talk like parrots bracing for an extra wild sea. Too soon, thunder will roll along rivers of stained glass. There’ll be no lull, and it won’t be dull imitating the very fakery of reality. Soon we’ll see spots ahead of us, coated in two shades of blue. Not surprisingly, horses will bow a little to the enemy within. We shall be as a city upon a hill that builds its beloved cliches to shine! As a city upon a hill, we will never forget the boulevard of bourgeois virtue. We’ll unwrinkle our colorful maps of compassion and be pleasantly surprised by their hum. There’ll be some journey of love, perhaps a thunderstorm heading into the sea. For sure, there will be fire in the cock of a loving husband, the sun will become a ring of mist before taking root in an Irish monastery. Do not doubt that we will make fine dark energy, ghostly or otherwise. We’ll find bees to defy! A wise child will believe that a poor boy
can grow up to be the very essence of touch, of a seduction as big as the Montana sky. In a cornfield, frogs will be powdered by snow and will bring greetings from the afterlife. Some will blink before a row of barricades like a queen on her 90th birthday. We’ll feel the effects of a glorious altar half a world away, feel the wrath of God under every seat in an octagon house. There’ll be fireworks over the evil we have done! One by one, we’ll walk on a TV street while picking pumpkins from the shadows of rooftop missiles. Flames will dance beyond the faithful on this field of silver coins, around some who will forever hear their rage and bitterness ringing in their ears. We’ll publish poems that will last until a stone feels the pain of a broken heart. Only shame will stop the Moluccan cockatoo from flying over a sanctuary for stargazers. Only one yellow bag full of happy rhetoric will make the angels smile! An evil seed will grow in the dark like an umbrella, like another false start. There’ll be no road for some of us who’ll want to dance around coral snakes as an art form. Nevertheless, the dancing will thrive between lavender posts on a northern pier, and in the evening, a little sax will make barrels of winter easy to find under the stars. The snowmen will tell us where to bury the wages of sin, but we‘ll never change. Cherry blossoms will teach us that grief becomes the crawling fire that transcends all the stars. We’ll drink heartily to its long-neglected greenery, 35
its stash of gold bars. Why the hell not? Will we be fooled again by the seaâ€™s gentle pull on a school bus? But of course! Will the center ever hold? Of course, of course!--for one will come to all of us.
PAN TWARDOWSKI, OR THE SORCERER’S DREAM Joseph Gross
business. Sober men break contracts; drunk men forget them.
[Pan Twardowski sits, back to the audience, at a bar counter crowned by a placard reading “Rzym.” The barkeep cleans, and patrons mill about. The Devil enters and stands facing Twardowski.]
TWARDOWSKI: Fine, you beady-eyed goat, but how shall we explain our perfect English in a small Polish inn then?
BARKEEP: A drink for you?
Why, I am John Dee, the alchemist, and you, Edward Kelly, my assistant, the Englishmen who grace the king’s court! How is dear old Sigismund, by the by? Still worthy of the name Augustus? Have you enjoyed summoning his late wife for him?
No, thank you. Twardowski, you never specified which Rome would spell your doom. This one will do. I’m taking your soul now. TWARDOWSKI:
Dzień dobry! Musisz się mylić, bo ja nie jestem mężczyzną, którego szukasz. Nazywam się Sobocinski, z miejsca wiśni. Nie mówię po angielsku, ale mogę zaoferować Ci drinka, przyjaciela. Mówisz po polsku? DEVIL: What would you be doing in Krakow, Sobocinski, from the place of the cherry trees? Warming up? Give it up, Twardowski. I know you speak English. You speak all languages through me.
You tell me, have you enjoyed playing her part? The king is, as you said, old…and decrepit. I could place a ring of kielbasa on my head and speak in falsetto and he would think me his wife. To answer your other question, I suppose if Claudius could be called Augustus, Sigismund can be too. BARKEEP:
Are you going to order a drink? I have other patrons who would like your seat.
If I must, I will have a vodka with pig’s blood, shaken, rocks, garnished with your hottest Indonesian chilis. Run along. So, Twardowski, I see your service to the king was just another grab at
No, I am here to conduct business with my friend, the noble sorcerer, and drinks are bad for
fame. Enough cloying. Are you going to beg or try and offer me another deal? TWARDOWSKI: Well, now that you’ve given me that segue… What if you take my soul only if you can live a year with my wife, the homely Pani Twardowska? DEVIL: If I wished to suffer other’s company I would have stayed in heaven. Sadly, I can not accept. TWARDOWSKI: Good for you. She lets the blood of men and makes kiszka from it. Maybe I should just go with you. DEVIL: That’s a bit much. And disgusting and misogynistic. TWARDOWSKI: And metaphorical. Misogynistic? DEVIL: Forget it. But still disgusting. TWARDOWSKI: You just ordered vodka and pig’s blood with hot peppers. I’m disgusting? DEVIL: My drink order was meant to be provocative and get the barkeep off my back. Yes, the way you talk of your wife and your metaphors are still disgusting.
BARKEEP: Your drink. DEVIL: This is stirred, not shaken…There’s actually pig’s…Is he always so blind to sarcasm? Where did he even get the blood? TWARDOWSKI: He is and that is not really a concern of mine right now, though it’s fucking odd. Maybe if you let me off the hook I can find out? DEVIL: No, but I can see you have more questions for me. That, or your eyes are bulging because you’re about to shit. TWARDOWSKI: Fuck you. What I wanted from our initial contract, no, what I had dreamed for, was worldwide fame, not just fame here in Poland. By Fat Thursday, they will have forgotten me and will be dreaming about warm paczki instead. They do remember their writers, so why couldn’t I have been a great writer rather than a writer of books on sorcery and shoddy encyclopedias like those you whispered to me? DEVIL: Great writing, great art, great endeavors do not come through magic, magician. Nothing in this world can be gained through magic. If it were thus, the priests and pagans would hold the universe in thrall. Did you really want to be what you could not be, a Milosz or a Szymborska? They belong to later times, times of unrealized ambition. Times after the partitions. 38
[Twardowski yells the next set of lines, some in jest, drawing the attention of the rest of the bar’s patrons. The Devil does not acknowledge his change in pitch in responding.]
[He reaches into his coat and produces a rosary, which he throws at the Devil. The Devil shrugs it off and speaks through laughter.] DEVIL:
Did you just throw a rosary at me? What did you think would happen?
Was I not worthy of my dream? Did you not comprehend my dream, Kingly Shedim? Could you not see a way to it’s realization, Prince of Darkness? Could you not provide my single measly dream? ... Partitions?
TWARDOWSKI: I don’t know! Aren’t you supposed to have burned up or something? Catch me if you can! Fuck!
DEVIL: My tongue dances though there is no music. Forget that last thing. But, in truth, you are not broken over having not achieved what you wanted. You are broken over having achieved exactly what you wanted and realizing its inadequacy and yours: some semblance of power, fleeting and material. In the words of a future writer, “your worst sin is that you have destroyed and betrayed yourself for nothing.” I mean, what sort of dream is fame without a reason for that fame? If you had wished to be a writer, I might have given that to you but made you destitute…And the fame would have come. Do you understand, sorcerer? Don’t answer that. If you had dreamt of the means to achieve your end, well, dreams of means are not measly and means I can provide, but you dreamt of only the empty, worthless end and so, in this case, the means did not justify attainment of the end. You might learn something about dreaming in Hell, where one of your torments and only joys will be that you are still allowed to dream…I hadn’t wanted to torture you so harshly until we got there. Are you ready to go? TWARDOWSKI: Yes, just allow me to pay the barkeep. What does vodka and pig’s blood even cost?
SCIENCE FICTION PICTURE SHOW Ezra Lee
THE LOST KEY Nels Hanson
My mother asked me years ago if my Grandmother Georgia slipping deep into forgetfulness, some kind of Alzheimer’s or dementia, now
who’s wandered off, like his father sure he’ll find the gold, until you don’t recall it’s lost and search for the key again.
had forgotten everything. I said no then, the mind was like a library where every memory remained in place but that the card catalogue got lost. That could be true, I don’t know much about neurology, ailments of the brain, or if the mind and brain are one or two. I do know over time things can get too much, gradually you can let their imprint start to drift away, like a key a part of you no longer wants to slip into the lock and turn. A day you see its profile of bronze teeth on a cluttered end table but let it stay there, hiding place discovered now and registered for when you need it. Another day it’s gone and for a week you look and look until you find it in a dresser drawer or on the drainboard behind the toaster. You feel relief but still don’t pick it up, drop it in your apron pocket, now you know surely where to find it. Then you forget where you found it and look again and fail to find it and with another kind of relief you feel just briefly, familiar warm breeze from childhood near Alma in New Mexico, the scent of purple sage, calling nickname of a long dead brother 41
HIDE AND SEEK Nels Hanson
“Ready or not, here I come!” the one with open eyes calls after counting blind to a 100 and seeks until a first child is found, then “Olly Olly Oxen Free!” the signal to the better hidden to run safely back to base. Lately as I grow older I recall childhood more and a cousin agreed it’s the same with him though my younger brother answers he hasn’t got there yet. I have. This present summer night’s soft breeze I wait where loud one “It” can’t find me, hollow crown where branches start, moonlight and walnut leaves make speckled harlequins. I’m not alone, only one distrusts singsong rhyme all’s free and clear, listening for another, a different voice calling us from hiding places, a late whisper to come home.
ANOTHER COUNTRY Nels Hanson
Plowed furrows or ocean waves the afternoon’s far ranks of cloud in receding echelon build stairs to climb horizon’s end toward richer country where no day or season alters, home to extinct inhabitants Earth wanted only for a while. Like discarded toys they wear odd tusks, awkward plates of armor, Teratorn’s black feathers four feet long, vast eagle gliding whiter Andes. The great Arctodus Simus, bear standing four yards tall, greeted America’s first men. Dodo lives there, walks calmly as Passengers cross blue our sky gave up for those needing sky, above our pastures’ purest greens now appearing paler here, weeping willow’s shade less dense as others require shadow. Borrowed yellow turned gold saffron sun illumines sanctuary for those done with Time that never waits for its abandoned favorites to change to different beasts who’ll flourish in a world grown dimmer as they disappear.
FLIGHT DELAYED Jonathan Ferrini
“Place your head between your knees and brace for landing” They say your life flashes before your eyes when you die but I don’t fear death. I was provided the opportunity to turn back the hands of time and experience the glory of my first love. I’m grateful we reunited after so many years, reminisced about the love we shared, and said goodbye. Flight cancelled. Rescheduled for 7am. My flight home to Seattle was the last plane out. It was a hassle to check into a hotel so I decided to spend the night in the terminal. After several tequila shots at the bar, I went to the magazine store to purchase aspirin. I spied a copy of Kerouac’s “On the Road” and purchased it. I found a quiet corner of the terminal where I could sleep until morning. I thumbed through the familiar pages which reminded me of my youth with boundless opportunities and adventures ahead. It also made me melancholy because I’ve led a life of unfulfilled dreams. I’m soon to retire from a lucrative corporate career selling commercial airliners around the world. My loving wife of forty years and I raised successful children and are blessed with grandchildren but the spark in our marriage is gone. We’re financially comfortable and I have provided for my family’s future. The renowned cancer specialist I visited diagnosed me with prostate cancer and told me that I must begin treatment immediately or die. I’ve kept this from my wife, chosen to forgo treatment, and welcome death because my thirst for living died long ago. A Jim Croce song playing in the terminal provokes an idea: Operator, well could you help me place this call? See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded…I think about a love that I thought would save me…
I wonder where she is. What life would we have created together? I long for the love of my high school sweetheart I’ve never forgotten. I fondly recall the picnics in the park and planning our future together. Rachel was a painter and I was a photographer. Our dreams included attending college together, marriage, family, and living abroad. My internet search reveals Rachel kept her maiden name and owns an art gallery on the Upper East Side. Did she marry, divorce, or is she widowed? I’m happy she chose a career in art and disappointed I abandoned my dream of photographing nature in exotic locales. Another internet search result led me to a newspaper article, “Successful gallery owner treated for ovarian cancer.” Ferrini/Flight Delayed/ I read the article and knew Rachel’s prognosis was terminal. We would both die never saying goodbye. The lights of the airplanes reflecting off the rain soaked tarmac and tequila buzz make me dizzy and tired. I fall asleep and have a dream with far reaching consequences. A young man approaches the airline ticket agent holding his duffle bag with my initials hand stitched into the canvas handle by his sweetheart, Rachel. It’s me at 18. His face exudes anticipation and optimism for his future. I accepted a full scholarship to an elite college abandoning my plans to attend college with Rachel. I broke her heart. I can’t forget my heartache from the “Dear John letter” I received. I shout, “Don’t get on the plane! Home is where the heart is!” Final call for flight. Now boarding. The stewardess hurries the young man into the plane. He enters and the door closes behind
him. I hear the jet engines rev up and I run to the window, watch the plane taxi, and take off. I wasn’t able to change my destiny and pound the window heartbroken knowing I made a mistake leaving Rachel.
share the sights and sounds of the magnificent world I traveled. We missed the opportunity to walk the same path through life but one of us still has the opportunity to live. You’ll always have memories of those beautiful moments we shared. I’m tired, darling. Thank you for visiting. Good bye.”
The gate agent wakes me, “Sir, your flight is boarding.” My dream opened a wound never healed. I’m hung-over and heartbroken from the news about Rachel. I walk to the window and the sun shines in my eyes. I squint and watch the passengers file on to the plane. The loading ramp resembles my long path through life I no longer want to travel. Perhaps a stiff drink on the plane will dampen the sad news about Rachel and my resolution to return home to die? I approach the boarding agent and place my smart phone on the bar code reader. The green flash and buzzer jolt me into action. It’s now or never. I must visit Rachel, tell her I love her, beg her forgiveness for abandoning our dreams of a life together, and say goodbye. I rush to the ticket counter pleading, “May I change my destination?” I’m relieved to hear, “Yes, Sir. I hope you make the right choice this time.” As I settle into the first class seat on a non- stop to New York City, I’m anxious to see Rachel and ponder how she’ll receive me after so many years.
Ferrini/Flight Delayed/ Rachel’s eyes closed and she fell asleep. The ICU nurse walked me out of the room saying, “She has only a few hours before passing. She spoke of you often and said you shared a special love. She has no family or loved ones. It was beautiful to see you reunited.”
I met Rachel in the ICU. She was laying upright in bed with IV lines in her frail arms which didn’t prevent her from sketching an unfinished portrait of herself as a teenager. Like myself, Rachel aged, and although the cancer ravaged her beauty, Rachel’s green eyes were as gorgeous as the day I first met her. Rachel recognized me and we embraced. I could feel her heartbeat race. I apologized to her for abandoning a life together and although I married and raised a family, I still loved her. I confessed I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and would die without immediate treatment but welcomed death because life wasn’t worth living. Rachel whispered, “Life is precious. You have to fight to live and love your family. I’ve always loved you and wanted you to
Everybody survived the emergency water landing. I’m standing on the long silver wing of the airplane bobbing up and down in the choppy waves. The sun is shimmering off the water creating emotional clarity. I’m grateful for surviving the landing and reuniting with Rachel. The rescue boats arrive with sirens and emergency lights alerting me life goes on. I’m handed a blanket, coffee, and I reach for my cell phone to call home but my first thought is to phone the hospital. I reach the familiar ICU nurse who gently informs me Rachel passed peacefully with a smile a few hours after my leaving. I remain composed knowing Rachel would want me to catch the first flight home to my loving family, live each day to the fullest, and undergo cancer treatment. As the rescue boat pulls away from the sinking plane, I mumble the lyrics to the Croce song I heard in the terminal: ...I’ve overcome the blow, I’ve learned to take it well I only wish my words could just convince myself That it just wasn’t real, but that’s not the way it feels No, no, no, no - that’s not the way it feels. Previously published in The Opiate Magazine
THE MOON XVIII Leah Mueller
I believed everything you told me. Your fish mouth moved incessantly, drew me inside its belly. Dragged underwater by strong currents, my arms were seaweed, yours barnacles. Now I am stuck under the pier, gasping. The tide advances, then retreats, its pull ordained by the Moon.
SHE BANGS Kate Gilmore
TRIPLE MARTINI M. Nasorri Pavone
Weekdays at one o’clock she sprints from her office to the café across the street. The serving staff knows her by name though not the one on her credit card. Here comes Triple Martini, calls out the bartender at one o’clock as he watches her jaywalk and almost get hit. Do you want to take care of her? the servers ask each other. Triple Martini is in your station again. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. The staff is good about rotating the regulars. If Triple Martini were to be interviewed by Vanity Fair, she’d admit that the first sip of her first martini rivals the sight of it surfing on a tray across the room to meet her, a smooth wave breaking on a nude beach, rushing to her feet. She’s not a beleaguered secretary, not if she’s way up on the seventh floor. She lifts her glass to salute a refill while sucking on olives, extra olives filling a bowl which she always offers to pay for. She’d say the second martini tastes like bliss, like sleeping late or sleeping all day. She’d deny she orders the third, the unraveling round – what pops back to make her lashes leak that black? She always asks for another napkin.
CERTAIN DISPLAYS M. Nasorri Pavone
Women who don’t mind really do, more often than they admit. Minding, mending, middling, taking a back seat on the long bus, getting out to push it. Waiting. Waiting by the side of the road smiling, the smile as shield, as deflector. She’s fine. She’s not hysterical, although how else will she get anyone to listen? Certain displays are more acceptable: a Martha Stewart centerpiece, Waterford crystal punch bowl, Vera Wang Wedgwood China.
THE SAN ANDREAS FAULT Ezra Lee
“San Andreas Fault Moved it’s fingers Through the ground Earth divided Plates collided Such an awful sound. Natalie Merchant, San Andreas Fault”
I hate to say it, but if my life were a movie it be boring and predictable. I have tried for so long to break out of the mundane suburbia that has defined my life for 18 years, but in that process, I realize that I have been living out a cliché. When I decided to come out, I felt trapped and claustrophobic living in a town that is less than ten square miles where everybody knows everybody. In this town, my triumphs followed me, but more importantly so did my mistakes. I chose to go to school in New York City where every gay kid chooses to go to discover themselves. But I, along with every other gay with a pride sticker on their laptop, am living a cliché. A life that has not only been planned, but also a life that has already been lived.
It’s the eve of my twentieth birthday. I am sitting on a hard mattress pad that substitutes a bed in my grandparent’s condo. The walls are white with a texture that looks like skin. All the furniture in the room, two wooden chairs, an ornate mock antique nightstand, and a wooden table with a marble surface, are pushed to the sides to make way for me and the mat that I have been sleeping on for the past month. My mother calls this the “staging room” – a collection of suitcases and clothing racks that have been holding her clothes along with my sisters’ for the past few months while the house that we actually live in is being remodeled. It’s almost 11:30 pm on January 12, 2018. I am about to turn twenty and I can’t help but think about my life so far. I have been to eight countries; seen seven states; owned two passports; been to the emergency room once; gone through three debit cards and two credit cards; applied to one boarding school and twelve colleges; got one C in Pre-Algebra; held one job and three internships; went through two laptops and four cell phones; had two major panic attacks (both in college); kissed two boys; had zero boyfriends; thought I found love once; and attended one funeral. A pathetic list to some, an okay list to me, and a life well lived to others. All of these events and numbers that define me, have now led up to me, sitting on a mat in a white room in Pasadena, California, staring at my computer screen.
I don’t want to be like this life forever, though, I don’t want to become a person that is predictable; I want to actually live something, through something. But as I speak this into existence, I know that I have to be careful because misfortune’s presence can come as suddenly as it’s absence. In my lifetime, I recall the daze and euphoria of the early 2000s that was abruptly ended by 9/11. After that, an air of caution and paranoia entered that still hasn’t quite left yet. Before that, I think of the dizzying happiness of the hippie movement in the 1960s that sharply ended in 1969 with the Manson family murders, but that period of time was laced with unrest, referencing the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement. But, for all intents and purposes, the current climate of my life is peaceful. In my twenties, my goal is to live a life with purpose, whatever that may be. I want to take this time, this year, and the next ten to come, as a period of self exploration and discovery, but I am also incredibly fearful of what’s next. My father told me that my twenties are a time to “make
mistakes and learn from them,” but part of me wants to selfishly fast forward to the part where I have already figured it out and skip over all the mistakes I’ve made. I don’t want to solve the problem, I just want the correct answer. I want to cheat life even though I know that this is not how it works. I envy my parents and their age because of the fact that the made it out alive. They’ve seen it all and they’ve already beat their twenty somethings. They beat the simulation and are now eating the fruits of their labor. For now, I have already made my dreams, and my plans to achieve them, but I don’t know if I’m ready for what happens if and when I realize them. Or worse, what happens if they crumble before me and I’m left with a shattered picture of success and happiness?
the lyrics. “San Andreas Fault!” The song talks about a paradise, an Eden, that Natalie Merchant creates, only to have it crumble in her fingertips. A dream that collapses beneath her. When I was a child I wanted to be a doctor, inspired by a family friend of mine who was an OB/GYN. After he told me what the schooling process was like, I was quickly dissuaded. Next, I wanted to a mortician or a forensic scientist, with my inspiration being Ducky or Abby from NCIS, but this was quickly axed when I realized that I have a fear of death and that I’m not good at science. Now, I want to be a graphic designer and a writer, and I have put too much time into I took a trip to Park City, Utah a little less than a these two professions to find something else I month ago for a family ski trip. On our last day, think I’m good at. my parents decided to visit Arches National Park, a place that was on my father’s bucket list. It was My dreams always looked the same. I would be about a five hour drive from Park City to Arches rich, obviously, living in a big city, with two dogs, and about a five and a half hour drive from a cat, maybe a child, and a loving and caring Arches to the airport, where we would have to wife. I would go to a job that didn’t really feel like go to immediately after our impromptu day trip. a job, but still brought in the money. As the years We all woke up early, loaded the rental SUV, and passed, I grew up and discovered more about embarked on our journey to the national park. myself; new developments happened and the My dad chose to DJ the entire car ride, which led dream would change. I realized that I was allergic my sisters and I to put on headphones and tune to cats and heterosexuality, that maybe a child out the music my dad had saved on his phone – isn’t the best fit for me, and the big city would a mismatched combination of Top 40, classical have to be New York, but the meat of the dream music, and alternative rock. When we were alstayed the same even if some of the details most at the park, the red orange towers of stone changed. But, in this Eden and in this peaceful approaching our view and lining the rich blue paradise, I’m waiting for the San Andreas Fault skyline, my dad exclaimed “I love this song!” and to tear a crack in my dream and crumble it to the raised the volume to a song I had never heard ground, but I want to have faith in myself that I before. can rebuild it again. Edit and the structures and build on the previous foundation for a fantasy “It’s Natalie Merchant,” he said swaying that will stand the test of time. along to the song even though no one was lis tening to him. It’s one in the morning now. I have been twenty “What’s it called?” I asked, hearing the for a whole hour, reflecting on what my life has song through my headphones and being enamled to thus far. The mattress pad is still uncomored by the soft melody and the poetic vigor of fortable but I am making do with what I have. 51
When I look in the mirror, I see that youth still has its roots embedded in my body and in my skin. I am at the point in my life where I am still buoyed by my youth, but I have to start thinking about aging and getting old. The daydream of my twenties will not last forever, just like how the innocence and chaos of my teenage years did not last forever. Reality strikes. I will be on a plane in two days to New York City, back in school, back into my routine. The dream still holds. The San Andreas Fault is nowhere to be seen. January 13, 2018
TALES OF A CITY II SEIGAR
SLEEP’S LITTLE REHEARSAL Mona Van Duyn: Cento*
Without a clue I enter sleep’s little rehearsal The soundless spin of the globe The heavens whirl and drift and their weightless riches— Beauty beyond belief All the little golden bells are ringing The soul’s door He spoke tenderly to His elements: Beauty By a single thought Forgave The history of what we were And leaves His indelible imprint We have knelt at the unpraised heart of being, of essence Christ, what are poems for? He took His time Answering All knowledge of love, all ways of publishing it How dazzling Love’s infinite variety! We live a long time and God knows it is love we need Anger, resentment, self-pity, what were they? The white flocks of our thoughts that run back and forth? So this comes to resemble a poem found in His notebooks That is to say . . . Love and art which are compassionate And . . .His tear is the color of cinnamon on my tongue -Kathleen Gunton *Each line is drawn from a different poem in Mona Van Duyn’s collection, Selected Poems Mona Van Duyn.
A SHORT CLINICAL SURVEY CONCERNING THE NATURE OF DREAMS Nichloas Catapano
“What are your dreams?” You could be asked this question essentially anywhere, by anyone. It’s a sort-of, somewhat-somehow-someway bothersome question, because it somehow-someway-somewhat isn’t as readily answerable as others, including, but not limited to: “What did you have for breakfast this morning?” “What’s your favorite genre of music?” “What’s your major?” (Toasted bagel and cereal; hip-hop; economics) Somnia? I suppose I’m supposed to have known that by now, someway-somewhat-somehow. And I suppose this supposition supplements existing fears somehow, spurring this sad sap into supplication, not simply for signs of salvation from the statist frenzy of societal stratification, but still for the stoppage of his steady, stringent, surreptitious senescence. How solipsistic! Or is it? An anemic attempt at achieving agelessness: looking for the Fountain of Youth but finding a fountain pen instead.
us awake every night until we live them for real. They give us a plan for the future that nobody ever thinks possible – that’s idealism, but more indignant. They give us a kick in the head and a shot in the arm; a spring in our step and a stab to the heart. They lead us to fight. They force us to love. They persist and pester and press and compel the poor punk, a protean, precocious piece of shit, to pay attention not to their present, but to their enduring legacy, yet to be printed. They bring unavoidable heartbreak and hassles and headaches, but none of that really matters because we wouldn’t want to avoid them anyway. We just have to remember to wake up to get there, after all. So regarding the first question, I’m going to have to sleep on it.
(“Are you dodging the point?”) (“…”) Dreams – I think we all understand the magnitude of such a concept, whether or not we admit it. They are a cursed duality. They draw us into the loveliest sleep we’ll ever have and then keep 55
STRESS IS ONLY TEMPORARY Ezra Lee
FALSE FIRE Robert Wooten
Down, I walked. The beach unscrolled, unscrolling for my pleasure, mocking my life with silly acquiescence. The acknowledgment that one knows something is also known as the â€œignis fatuus,â€? or false fire, through an ecclesiastical saint. And I have used this to repel temptation, as when I am tempted to argue I know this, in my own thinking. It is a vanity. I walked along the beach in darkness until I stood at the shoreline, looking at what appeared to be moonlight on the water. Then, turning to walk along the shore, it struck me as odd that a full moon should appear on such a cloudy night. I returned to the spot, looking up, without seeing anything but one star, then looked down, and the moonlight on the water began to dissipate. Before I could resume my walk, it had become a dark spot with the silhouette as of some giant sea creature. And then, having completed my walk, I resolved to return by a light which I mistook for that of a lamp. As soon as I reached the point, it was no longer there. Baffled, I returned in my own footsteps, only to realize that I had just walked past the most illumined part of the beach.
THE OCTOPUS ON MY FACE Sara Bigham
waking to fatigue ultimately sent me to a neurologist which led to a referral for a laboratory sleep study that was turned down by my insurance so I did a home test instead which could not have involved much actual sleep what with that contraption lashed to my head and the tube up my nose but nevertheless there was a report with data showing low levels of REM sleep but no apnea which is an interesting finding as all the ologists seemed convinced I had apnea probably because I am fat but I don’t have apnea so a cpap trial was ordered to see if that might help with the REM problem so I went for a fitting with a sleep technologist and emerged from the office with a shoulder bag containing tubes and motors and “nasal pillows” which give the impression of comfort but don’t let that fool you because it took nearly six months to get used to sleeping with this thing that whooshes and tethers me to a box on the nightstand and feels like an octopus strapped to my face and I call it my baby because she needs constant attention like the distilled (never tap) water that must be fed into the water chamber daily and the parts that need to be cleaned every day and the filters and hoses and face masks that must be swapped out with regularity and the weekly soaking of the chamber in a solution of diluted white vinegar before tapping it to burp out extra liquid followed by placing said chamber on a clean washcloth before dumping out the vinegar water which looks rather beautiful being a shade of pale blue against the stark white bucket I bought specifically to bathe the baby and then I have to get in the shower with the special gentle cleanser I use these days because all other soap irritates my skin and use that to wash the head harness and hoses before rinsing them all and hanging everything up in the shower partly on handles we added to adapt the bathroom to my chronic health needs and there they drip dry all day before I reassemble the baby late at night and plug her in and push the on button and attach the various parts to my head and lie down with one hand lightly on my chest as I hum myself to sleep
CARNATIONS Sara Bigham
how do | you bury your | mother and put her in the | ground with pink carnations like | flamingos accompanying her home how do | you bury your | mother and send her off to sleep | tucking her in with a brand | new shirt and that angel pin how do | you bury your | mother and turn to walk | away from the one who loved you always | framed, waving as she stays
ANTICONVULSANT EVOLUTION Sara Bigham
As with armadillos / Are we Looking towards the arcing / Sun Or gazing at asphalt / Covering memory roots Balled and dormant / Sticks with tics Awaiting the Clear Crack signal / Safe to rise Leatherette pleather feathers / And horns
FANTASY ISLAND Christopher Strople
It is not the Christ from Bethlehem, born of Mary and Joseph. It is unnamed, it is the son of Maryâ€™s father, and It is here where he calls home. His home of gingerbread and glass, his breakfast of Green eggs and ham frequently dined upon in Strawberry fields, forever enchanted in this Make believe of make beliefs. Shake your hips, twist your feet, clap your hands The dance dear Children Is about to begin. Birds fly from the tree top, with squirrels below Bushy-bushying their tails, turtles craning Their necks, and hand in hand You and I Dosey-doe One more time.
Obscurity reigns within the confines of this page Leading in hand her cousin, Random. They Skip and pause, pause and skip Leaping hurdles of immense libraries And immense thought. Their steps bring Rainbows and fairy tales Lands of dragons and the occasional pink balloon. Tales of a grand structure; a building of steel And coconut. Using these reinforced coconuts We will ascend to the heavens, to dance As children dance, without reluctance. Jumping rope, singing, chanting: With a knick-knack-patty-wack Give a dog a bone, This old man came rolling home.
Look boss The plane, the plane.
Without introduction Obscurity and Random are Unwelcome (except to children who always Have a smile for their games), even chastised, Rebuked by the shriveled shrivels Of a furrowed brow. Crickets chirp; reminding Those forgetful of their absence, playing their Violins, a symphony to their own penury: Gracious And refined. Buckets of color Are gathered, as are stones, trees, water, twigs, figs, Leaves, fruit, sand, dirt, boulders, gold, pearls, Silver, women, men, rope, twine, pillows, blankets, Crayons and paints, brushes, candy, and even Crickets; and with an unshakably calm and Excited flourish, thrown into the air with Surprising glee. (This, of course, being the recipe For smiles and the de-furrowing of brows.) Horizontal and vertical jags of amethyst Sheen circulate in pamphlet manner. This is utopia, The idea born from the chaste mother perfection.
HONEY GIRL Ezra Lee
BEAUTY FOR ASHES Felicia Luna Lemus
I. Today is the longest day. Sun blazing, heavy thick solid air—purple mountains disappeared, downtown skyscrapers muted twinkle, Observatory a dull smudge out west.
Ojalá: hopefully. O Allah. From your lips to God’s ears.
II. I drive the long drive to the little house near the shore—our home-not-home, your new (temporary, I pray) residence, the place where you can breathe, literally. I fold the hanging towels, mop the bathroom floor, rinse the tub, square the corners of every bottle and tube on the counters, gather empty dry-cleaners-wire-hangers and throw them in the blue bin. I don’t know if this town recycles like at home, our real home, home-home. Everything in its place [you are not]. III. The clouds never look like anything there. I look and look and try to find something in them, but there is nothing. Just clouds.
VI. Half past midnight, I see the flames. I gather what matters. Dog crate in car, leash, wallet, keys at the door. Our computers. The photo my dad took of little kid me standing on the roof, his hat shading my eyes, smart little smile, swag to my stance, that easy joy and confidence I’m always trying to find again. Three wooden urns in a duffle (the irony of packing ashes not lost on me). Your little kid album, red. My baby album, floral blue. Our courting correspondences you printed out and gave me on our first, paper, anniversary. Our wedding album. And Ruth said, Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge [I cannot].
IV. Ruth 1:16-17. Our anniversary, I unearth the embroidered wedding gift I had made for you, packed away these seven years. I hang it in the little house kitchen. And then I drive back home. V. El ala: wing, as in that which propels the flight of a hummingbird from this world to the other. La ola: wave, as in the ones we watch at the shore on our daily walk—searching for a sign, advice, assurance that this will get better, for a reminder of something larger than ourselves. 65
A POWERFUL CAKE Lee Upton
Would you care for more cake with your cake? It’s a cake beyond all cakes, isn’t it? In the interior a little bit of summer in a pouch and a buried pencil case, plaid. You say it isn’t your birthday so why the cake? The chainmail, we admit, makes slicing prohibitive, and the rosette, we admit, looks like a scar that won’t heal or even a bullet or a tattoo gone wrong. But we made it for you, this cake, and those right there are blister pearls, edible inside that oyster that’s open as a coffin with a gelatin lung on the rim. So eat your cake before your cake crawls away, which can happen if you’re not alert. We know you can’t thank us enough. We once saw a baby who looked exactly like a rat. That baby grew into a handsome man. So today if you don’t like your cake, wait. If the time isn’t right next time we’ll outdo ourselves. For now, it’s your cake and it’s not going to eat itself. What? You’re going to set fire to the cake? Oh! Then it must be your birthday after all. We have our ways—with cake and without cake. It’s really our cake anyhow.
WE ALL DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY Words: Dominique Dobransky In Collaboration With Victoria Pitz and Elena Ciotta Our paths are drawn out in cartographic lines, Blueprints of motion navigating atmospheric traffic signs. In the heavens there are invisible compasses many don’t even know: Flowing, crisscrossing colors that match our footfalls with an ever-shifting glow. North, south, east, west Mapping our personal journeys on an everyday quest. Yet spinning on its axis our Earth pulses with galaxies of travel, Unspoken narratives of migration - can they stop the downward gazes at our own feet on the gravel? Artists, dreamers - tell these stories and lift your gazes high; We all dream under the same sky As the darkness of nightfall quiets the rush of humanity’s daily roam, Flickers in the Milky Way reveal stars that persevere in a flight pattern to find home. Light chasing refugees forced to rewrite their location in the solar system that we all share, Narrowly trying to evade black holes of legalistic ignorance that destroy this map without a care. There is a constellation of stories that must be given a voice, Each person a light in this celestial dreamscape; deserving a dream, a chance, a choice. Artists, can you present new telescopes of perspective to those who do not yet see That these shooting stars belong to the astronomical space we all wish upon, the collective “we”? Artists, dreamers - tell these stories and lift your gazes high; We all dream under the same sky We paint by-number the places these migrating stars have journeyed to seek We dance choreographies of light, illuminating realities some have not yet dared to speak We compose melodies of hope in the atmosphere which we have heard We document cinematic supernovas, freeing those caged by laws like a bird We dream We create We dream We advocate We dream We communicate 67
We dream For those who only see the dusk, the end of day, the darkness of night, Let us collectively create awareness to renew its light. The universe is vast - “hereness” and “thereness” converge and all have a place, In this cartography of luminescence that has been mapped in outer space. Stars, you dreamers, here’s to you I say Remember that your constellations deserve to stay. Glow on. Lighter. Brighter. Illuminating the world to your cry. We all dream under the same sky.
EDITORS’ NOTE Our 2018 issue, Somnium, focuses on dreams through a variety of different contexts. Whether it be references to REM sleep and the actual physicality of the word, failed dreams, or an idealistic lens for the future, our vision for this issue was to use CURA’s platform as a multimedia means of artistic expression. The use of visual artwork and film, interspersed between numerous prose pieces, aims to set CURA apart from the rigid structure often present in print-on-demand journals and open the floor up for a more lively and dynamic method of showcasing talent. While our title makes a specific reference to Johannes Kepler’s 1608 sci-fi novel, we chose the theme dreaming to align with the current political and socio economic unrest present throughout the world today. Through our partnership with NYSYLC, we specifically dedicate CURA’s 2018 issue to dreamers under DACA, those who are undocumented, and anyone else experiencing oppression due to the increasingly tumultuous political landscape unfolding around us. In an effort to offer a platform for all voices, CURA remains a safe haven for dreamers everywhere, and a reminder to never stop endeavoring towards a better tomorrow.
SINCERELY, CHRISTINA ELIA AND VICTORIA PITZ MANAGING EDITORS
CONTRIBUTORS Sarah Bigham - Sarah Bigham teaches, writes, and paints in Maryland where she lives with her kind chemist wife, their three independent cats, an unwieldy herb garden, several chronic pain conditions, and near-constant outrage at the general state of the world tempered with love for those doing their best to make a difference. A Pushcart nominee, her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Bacopa, descant, indicia, The Quotable, Rabbit, Serving House Journal, Touch, and other great places for readers, writers, and listeners. Find her at www.sgbigham.com. Nicholas Catapano - Nick Catapano is a sophomore at Fordham University, focusing on a major in Economics and a minor in Classical Language. He is interested in the study linguistics, and in performing in both comedic and dramatic contexts. His work aims to create a balance between these three elements Elena Ciottia - Originally from Buffalo, New York, Elena Ciotta is a junior at Fordham College at Lincoln Center majoring in Communications and Culture. She is passionate about the arts in all forms, and currently holds a position in the communications department at The Broadway League. She hopes to continue a career in the arts in some capacity. Frank De Caino - Born and bred in New Jersey, Frank De Caino is currently employed in New York. He has taken part in a poetry workshop at the National Arts Club, and often attends a cafe philosophique in the Lower East Side. His love music of spans from pop to opera, Bach to Amy Winehouse, and he regards Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas, and Sylvia Plath as literary inspirations. Dominique Dobransky - Dominique Dobransky was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, and is currently pursuing a BFA in Dance, as well as a minor in Creative Writing, from the Ailey BFA program at Fordham University. She began dancing at age three, and aspires to be a professional dancer in a modern/contemporary company, traveling the world to share the gift of dance. She is fascinated by the communicative power of dance, and the universality of art to transcend boundaries, and she hopes to fuse her passion for dance with her interests in storytelling, languages, travel, photography, interdisciplinary art collaborations, and global outreach to inspire audiences. Christina Elia - Christina Elia is pursuing her BA in Art History Communications at Fordham University and is currently employed as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in online publications like The Odyssey and Select City Magazine, and she has a story forthcoming in The Tishman Review. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find her wandering the streets of Chelsea, taking advantage of whatever free galleries she can find, and wondering if she’ll ever be able to make rent in New York. Megan Fernandes - Megan Fernandes is a poet and academic. She holds a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MFA in poetry from Boston University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Tin House, Ploughshares, The Boston Review, The Common, The Adroit Journal, among many others. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of English at Lafayette College and lives in NYC. Jonathan Ferrini -Jonathan Ferrini received his AB Magna Cum Laude from Cornell University, and his MFA in Motion Picture and Television Production from UCLA. His work has been published in The Opiate Magazine, Red Fez, The Bangalore Review, Quail Bell Magazine, Pilcrow & Dagger, Adelaide Magazine, Eastlit, Review Americana, Ficta Fabula, Calliope, Chollas Needles, Scarlet Leaf, Sincerely Magazine, Badlands Literary Journal, TWD Magazine, and Red Earth Review. He currently lives in 70
San Diego. Carlos Franco - Carlos Franco-Ruiz was born in Managua, Nicaragua and in 1988, immigrated to Miami, Florida. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Miami, and is now an artist who mainly works with painting. He currently lives and works in both Miami, Florida and Sauce, Uruguay. Jay Frankston - Jay Frankston was raised in Paris, France. Narrowly escaping the Holocaust, he came to the U.S. in 1942, became a lawyer and practiced on his own in New York for nearly twenty years, reaching the top of his profession, sculpting and writing at the same time. In 1972, he gave up law and New York, and moved himself and his family to Northern California, where he became a teacher and continued to sculpt and write. He is the author of several books, and of a true tale entitled “A Christmas Story” which was published in New York, condensed in Reader’s Digest, translated into 15 languages, and called a Christmas Classic by many reviewers. Kate Gilmore - Kate Gilmore is a New York multimedia based artist and Associate Professor of Art and Design at Purchase College at SUNY Purchase. Her work has been shown at numerous institutions including: Museum of Modern Art, MCA Chicago, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, ICA Philadelphia and The Rose Art Museum. Notable exhibitions and awards include: The Guggenheim Fellowship 2018; The Art Prize 2015; the Whitney Biennial 2010; The Moscow Biennial, Moscow; and PS1 Greater New York 2005 & 2010. Gilmore’s work is included in many public institutional collections: Museum of Modern Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California; Rose Art Museum, Waltham, Massachusetts; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana, Indianapolis; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois. Tyler Knott Gregson - Tyler Knott Gregson is a poet, photographer, artist, and author of the nationally bestselling Chasers of the Light, All the Words Are Yours, the children’s book North Pole Ninjas and a third book of poetry Wildly Into The Dark, and a soon-to-be-released book, Miracle in the Mundane. He lives in the mountains of Helena, Montana along with his giant golden retriever, Calvin, and his fiancé Sarah Linden. When he’s not being struck by lightning or chased by orca whales, he’s traveling the globe and always cooking up new tall tales and wild yarns Joe Gross - Joe Gross is a soon-to-be Bachelor of Science from Fordham University and aspiring physician, exploring the ecological underpinnings of disease, the influence of Buddhism on Western art, his Italian and Polish folk heritage, and the intersection of art and activism. He is working on a poetry collection, Dustsceawung, Or Contemplation of the Dust, and enjoys the little things, like hearty food and quick commutes. Kathleen Gunton - Kathleen Gunton is a poet and photographer. She believes one art feeds another. She has published over 35 cento poems in publications such as Rhino, Studio One, First Things, Caveat Lector, and Hawaii Review, among others. She currently runs her own online blog titled “Discursion.” Nels Hanson - Nels Hanson grew up on a small raisin and tree fruit farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California, earned degrees from U.C. Santa Cruz and the U of Montana, and has worked as a farmer, teacher and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart nominations in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, and his poems have received a 2014 Pushcart nomination, Sharkpack Review’s 2014 Prospero Prize, and 2015 and 2016 71
Best of the Net nominations. He currently lives with his wife Vicki in California’s Central Coast. Joanna Hershon - Joanna Hershon has written four novels: Swimming, The Outside of August, The German Bride and A Dual Inheritance. Her work has been published in Granta, The New York Times,One Story, The Virginia Quarterly Review, the anthologies Brooklyn Was Mine and Freud’s Blind Spot. She’s an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University and is currently working on a novel. Mahlika Hopwood - Mahlika Hopwood is a poet, scholar, and teacher, who holds a PhD in English from Fordham University, where she is the recipient of a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship for 20182019. Her work in medieval and early modern literature, and her own poetry explore the intersections of solitude, community, and the transformative spaces which define the spiritual life. Sibel Iskender - Sibel Iskender is an undergraduate student at Fordham Lincoln Center and pursuing a major in English. She has spent the majority of her life in the outskirts of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is a classically trained pianist. She currently works for FLASH Magazine at Fordham. Ezra Lee - Ezra Lee is a graphic designer, writer, and person. Originally hailing from San Marino, California, Ezra now lives in New York. His dream is to graduate, but he doesn’t quite know how to get there. In the meantime, you can find Ezra in bed watching Netflix, standing on the street looking at birds, or aggressively walking to campus from Starbucks with a cup of coffee in one hand and furiously eating a croissant. You can find him on Instagram at @ezradesignedthat. Felicia Luna Lemus - Felicia Luna Lemus is the author of the novels Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and Like Son (Akashic Books). Her writing has appeared in BOMB, The Believer, ZYZZYVA, The California Sunday Magazine, and Latina, and has been widely anthologized. Sharpie Ultra Fine black markers and crossword puzzles are among her favorite things. She lives in Los Angeles with her spouse, their wild ones, and two Great Horned owls. Rae Monroe - Rae Monroe was born in Mississippi, and has since lived all over the world. She has taken writing courses with Stanford University’s gifted youth program, and her short stories have been published in Banyan Literary and Arts Magazine, The Writing Disorder, and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. Her poetry has also been published in three literary journals, including Down in the Dirt and CC&D magazine. Leah Mueller - Leah Mueller is an indie writer from Tacoma, Washington. She is the author of two chapbooks, “Queen of Dorksville” (Crisis Chronicles Press) and “Political Apnea” (Locofo Chaps) and three books, “Allergic to Everything”, (Writing Knights Press) “Beach Dweller Manifesto” (Writing Knights) and “The Underside of the Snake” (Red Ferret Press). Her work appears in Blunderbuss, Summerset Review, Outlook Springs, Crack the Spine, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and many other magazines and anthologies. She was a featured poet at the 2015 New York Poetry Festival, and a runner-up in the 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry contest. M Nassori Pavone - M. Nasorri Pavone’s poetry has appeared in The Cortland Review, River Styx, New Letters, Harpur Palate, DMQ Review, Rise Up Review, Wild Goose Reivew, Slant, Roanoke Review, Bluestem, Stirring, Chaparral, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Quiddity, Confrontation, Sycamore Review, Poemeleon, Pirene’s Fountain and elsewhere. Her first manuscript, The Unraveling Wind-up has been a finalist for many competitions. Her work has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations and also appears in a recent anthology: Beyond the Lyric Moment (Tebot Bach, 2014). She is also a playwright, she was nominated last year for the Nick Darke Award 72
E Martin Pedersen - E. Martin Pedersen, originally from San Francisco, has lived in eastern Sicily for over 35 years. He teaches English at a local university, and his stories have appeared in Grey Sparrow Journal, American Athenaeum, Literary Orphans, Bareback Magazine and others. Martin is a 2011 alum of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Victoria Pitz - Victoria Pitz is currently a junior at Fordham University, studying both music and English, in pursuit for a career in pediatric music therapy. While her spirit is most often reflected in her music, she is also a writer and aspiring novelist. She greatly values service-oriented social justice, and has served in both Navajo, New Mexico and New Orleans, Louisiana. Her unique cultural experiences are often reflected in both her musical and literary works. Cliff Saunders - Cliff Saunders has an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Arizona. His poems have appeared recently in Serving House Journal, Five 2 One, The Big Windows Review, Snow Jewel, and Rumble Fish Quarterly. Others are forthcoming in The Wayne Literary Review, Pinyon, West Trade Review, SurVision, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Cardinal Sins. He currently lives in Myrtle Beach. Seigar - Seigar is an English philologist, a highschool teacher, and a curious photographer. His penchant for reflections, saturated colors, details, religious icons, and passion for pop culture shows in his series of works. He considers himself both a travel and an urban street photographer, and his aim as an artist is to tell tales with his camera. His three most ambitious projects so far are his “Plastic People”, a study on anthropology and sociology that focuses on the humanization of the mannequins he finds in the shop windows all over the world, “Response to Ceal Floyer for the Summer Exhibition” a conceptual work that understands art as a form of communication, and his “Tales of a City”, an ongoing photo-narrative project taken in London. He has also participated in several exhibitions, and his works have also been featured in international publications. He currently writes for The Cultural Magazine in Spain about photography, and for Memoir Mixtapes, about music, in Los Angeles. Christopher Strople - Christopher Strople continues to explore and experiment with both the written and the visual. His work is partially derived from a fondness for color and an appreciation for aesthetics. He has been published in the Art Times, Fox Cry Review, Aries, Parnassus Literary Journal, and Red Owl. After a decade of teaching public elementary school in southern California, he now teaches at a public university, and currently resides in central Maine. Lee Upton - Lee Upton’s most recent books are Visitations: Stories and Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles: Poems. Her poetry has appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, American Poetry Review, and three editions of Best American Poetry. Robert Wooten - Robert Wooten’s poems have appeared recently in Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy, The Main Street Rag, THEMA, Lost Lake Folk Opera, and Spire Light. He earned an MFA in poetry at the University of Alabama (1998) and an MA with a creative writing focus at North Carolina State University (1994). His work also has appeared in The Southern Poetry Anthology.
STAFF EDITOR Jennifer Gilmore
FOUNDING EDITOR Sarah Gambito
MANAGING EDITORS Christina Elia Victoria Pitz
WEB DESIGNER Monica Ong
WEBMASTERS Ezra Lee Jack Douglas STAFF Elena Ciotta Jessica Cozzi Dominique Dobransky Caroline Hughes Sibel Iskender Nikole Khader Alex Merritt Howard Poon Sharon Shimonova
Cura Issue #19: Somnium