east coast ink issue 007 | touch
C O N T E N T S EAST COAST INK | Issue 007 | TOUCH
L E T T E r
f r o m t h e e d i t o r 2
P O E T R Y 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . N u d e M a l e w i t h E c h o # 1 5 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Summer Two Untitled P r e d a t o r, Yo u Into the Ground Metal Detector An Oath Melt Me Mouth Falls 27 Bones
F I C T I O N 1 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . To u c h . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..................
Charlemagne How I Cope With Death The Survivor The Chance Between the Wish and the Thing
M I C R O F I C T I O N 4 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . R e d R e f l e c t i o n . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F r i e d P l a n t a i n s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . S h u t t l e c r a f t
N O N F I C T I O N 4 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . To l e r a n c e : 1 9 9 6
.................. Help, I’m Alive
e a s t c o a s t E V E N T S , s u m m e r 2 0 1 5 5 5 r e v i e w s 5 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . G o o d M o u r n i n g . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . W i l d S w a n s a n d T h e M o s t D a n g e r o u s B o o k
c o n t r i b u t o r s 6 5
ISSUE 007 EAST COAST INK Summer 2015
eci staff owner, editor-in-chief Jacqueline Frasca associate editor Austen Wright fiction editor Erika Childers
reviews Laura Apperson Erin Rubin editorial interns Danielle Behrendt Isabelle St. Clair
nonfiction editor Jill Shastany
East Coast Ink Issue 007, Summer 2015: Touch. Copyright © 2015 East Coast Ink Cover image by Jacqueline Frasca. Images inside front cover and on pages 24, 28, 52, and 53―54, 55―56, and 57―58 by Jacqueline Frasca.
East Coast Ink magazine is produced four times per year and is an individually owned and operated publication. For additional content , please visit ecimagazine.tumblr.com and connect with us @ecimagazine. Pitch us your creative nonfiction and submit fiction, poetry, micro fiction, book reviews, mixed media artwork and photography to ecimagazine@gm ail.com. Copyright of all materials reverts to the individual artists and authors. No materials may be reproduced under any circumstances without written permissions from the editorial staff.
letter from the editor I wa s l u c k y e n ou gh to s pe nd half of my c hildhood in Lake Winnipesaukee , Ne w Ha mp s h i re ; e ith e r my p a re n ts or grandparent s always had a house in Gil fo rd . We ’ d d r ive u p o n Fr id ay nigh t , when I woke up Saturday my grandm a wo ul d h ave a box o f mu f f ins f ro m th e groc ery store for breakfast (pist ac hio wa s o ur favo r i te , a nd th a t lime gre e n color never fails to m ake my m outh water) , a nd we ’ d s p e nd th e we e ke nd a t s a ndbars on t he boat , walking down Weirs B e a ch, o r s p e n d in g way too mu ch of my father’s m oney at Funspot , t he largest a rca d e i n t h e wo rld . At th e loca l ice c ream shop, Sawyers, we got Grapenut or ma pl e wa l n u t i c e cre a m. Sh e in s tille d in m e a love of what I lovingly c all “old- l a dy f l avo rs .” T h i nking a b ou t th a t p la ce m akes my throat c onst ric t , bec ause it’s a s e l e me n t a l in my ch e mis tr y a s DNA itself. The m em ories ignite every sen s e , b ut to u c h i s a lways th e s tro nge s t—how rapidly t he night c hill gave t anned s kin g o o s e bu m p s wh e n th e s u n le f t t he sky, c ollec ting m ussels to skip ac ross the wa te r, h ow u nfa th oma b ly cle a n m ountain air ac t ually is. Working as an e d ito r i n At l a n t a with my b oyf rie nd of six years and t wo dogs, I c ould not be fa rthe r f ro m t h a t s imp le , pe rfe ct s u mm er rit ual. I ’ve gone whole sum m ers witho ut v i s i t i n g . My p a re n ts a re s e llin g t he house on Hic kory Stic k Lane. We los t my g ra n d m a f ive wh ole ye a r s a go. But whenever I do ret urn, it feels the same . It to u c h e s a ll th e s a me n e r ve s . I h ave b e e n h o ld ing fa s t to t his t hem e for t he better part of a yea r n ow — to u ch is s o me th in g s o e nrapturing to m e that it st ands out as an a s pe ct o f be i n g alive th a t is p e rma nent , t raum atiz ing, aut hent ic , belligerent , eve n p re c a r i o u s . Su mme r is th e s e ason where this sense t ransc ends. Som etim e s , to u c h i s n’ t ta n gib le ; p e o ple , plac es, and happenings touc h us in a myriad o f ways a n d le ave th e ir ma rks on our lives—whether t hey be sc ars or love b ite s . Ea c h a r tis t a n d wr ite r who c ontributed to t his issue of East Coast In k s h owe d u s s ome th ing o r s ome one who touc hed them at som e tim e in t he ir l ive s . We re ce ive d s o ma ny powerful stories t hat it was hard to leave anyo ne o u t , a n d with ou r two ye a r a nniversary nearing at t he of the sum m er, I c o n t i n u e to b e e n a more d with this projec t and the inc redible c reators who h ave g ra c e d its pa g e s th e s e la st seven issues. Be sure to hear t heir pers o na l s to r i e s i n th e Co ntrib u tor s s e c t ion, start ing on page 65. Emb ra ce th e Ea s t Co a s t sum m er, and for c rying out loud, som eone g o to G i l fo rd , NH a nd vis it my la ke for m e.
[ poetry ] nude male with echo #156 Darren Demaree
If it was simple enough that my arms were branches, that my fingers were twigs and the wrong story had taken over my roots, then you would see my head on fire, gone up like dried leaves in electric air. This is how I consider
my family. Those that are new are beautiful. Those in the dirt and are working their way into my system now; they will kill me. Around my trunk, where my parents carved
their initials, where my parents crossed out those initials, is a belly, fat with lightning strike.
summer two Rebekah Small
Eventually the words started again. The sounds you made echoed against the condensation of the car window.
My body was stealing moisture from the sweet and sticky dew as it rubbed off on my legs, and back, and hair. The street light shined on us just as it shined on the equipment left by the construction crew, we were all waiting for the morning to be useful once again, to be used. But while the moonlight lasted our hushed howls bounced off the spattering of unfinished cookie-cutter houses and into the night where they were lost . And we moved through the sound, pausing for a moment to hear that great big breath of silenceâ€”before you touched me again and what peace we had dispersed into fog. Everything you gave was for me. And I tried to take it all.
So now in every touch I strain to feel the rust on the bulldozers and the stacked lumber and the soggy flattened grass and the rolled up newspaper sitting in the front seat And every time you whisper in my ear, I hear the sound of my voice returning to me.
Robin Wyatt Dunn I wish for you a flood, Fragrant , Filled with light . It will be, in a moment , Anesthetizing and divine. Brimming, It will wash your skin, And make you bold, More beautiful, Dangerous.
Predator, You Jacqueline Frasca
Predator, you held my mind in your hands like car keys. Simple and thoughtless, you turn me and I start your engine. You lashed out whenever wind blew. Bruises fade but I never stop seeing them. Predator, you know the interstates to my extremeties. A less-than-graceful turn of phrase, a casual name I gag to hear and you race and surge, blood hot in my face. You could take or leave my voice in your ear. I hear yours and don’t eat for a week.
Predator, I reach my hand to pull you back from the ledge and you drag me beneath the sheets of my own bed, your low voice creeping against my neck, pouring salt in my wounds. Your fists and moans broke my bones. Your words burned themselves into my chest .
Predator, I may not exist when I’m not on your mind. Beneath the shrouds and sinew of a new life, a light never goes out . Beneath the present is the captive of the past . She stretches, rakes her skin to pieces. Answers your call. Wants every blow you’ll gift her. Predator, you live between my ribs. You keep me at bay, hands on my lips, giving me all the decisions. If I leave, I live with it . If you take my neck between your teeth, I asked to be behind bars, like a songbird. Predator, you bite the way a softball hits. My arm purples then yellows, my pulse beats poison faster through me. You have me against my car, against my sense, against my worth. Where you left my body I folded in on myself.
into the ground Steve Klepetar
Thatâ€™s where she took me, last night when the moon was full, and blazed in the sky like the sunâ€™s cold fist . Down below it was quiet but for the gurgle of water, and so black that our shapes lingered only as a memory of sight . Her hand was silk and her eyes drilled the path I stumbled, head bending beneath a low roof of rock. A curtain rippled, or was it a gate swung open on hinges that gave
at her touch? She sang, and rough dogs whined and slunk backward on their chains. In the silence, my old
watch ticked. We enacted a myth moving backwards, descending through pain to the burgeoning world of shades.
D A V I D D Y T E
metal detector Samuel Augustine
the end if it did come created the beginning from beyond the grave echo the force full from within welcome to the tundra, thunder of fire from the earthen grounds you us I wither to death, to dust to coral have you ever seen under the complex water, negative currents, murky, unsure, without factual bearing? meaningless. the death stops no, not a thing, the heart as an image a sign or more so a physical muscle words like antiretralviral despise normal make some feel safe as others feel without with knowledge, without intelligence, without fear. can we see truly you, us to be at birth
Steve Klepetar Letâ€™s take an oath and cast words into the sea. Let them float there while they can, white flecks among wind-whipped foam, until they sink like scattered pebbles and disappear. Let moonlight wash our faces clean. When we touch, let our fingers tremble with joy, our hair stream and wave. Let our bodies grow young and lustrous in spring air. We clutch at the few remaining stars, our eyes gouging slits in the sky. We are the only ones whose feet scar the rough, black sand of this vanishing beach. Itâ€™s not our place to hope or plan or rearrange the world. Caverns of the sea open to a maze of wonders: gleaming halls and mirrored shell. When mermaids rise, they will surely sing for us, in the wild weather of this rain-drenched world.
Erin Sheehan I touch his beard Black as tar in my fingers, his hair grows and grows like the nails sticking from the corner of your bed, I eat them so they do not hurt you
Ripples in a pond, ribbons, melted butter, the paintings I failed to paint I took Momma’s hairdressing scissors and I sliced it like salami, it dripped and dripped The purple carpet in my room, now crimson as a rose The Hibiscus walls forgot you But I didn’t How could I?
Reaching for The day I fell ice-skating, and ripped open my kneecap and the paramedics with the blue jumpsuits came I want to flip through the pages of brunette girls you’ve kissed— And find you, to twirl together like the fish in the kaleidoscope fountains at the furniture stores we visited To smash china, teacups, the color of the bees in the dirt , dying in your arms To lean down with the dress at the knees, white cotton underwear with the period stains I touch the pieces Just to cut my insides again, melt me to find the puzzle “Seven stitches in the forearm,” the doctor whispers. My mother’s eyes are a well with no water I curse to God I run like a child, my arms are tire swings, my body a slide To find you, to touch you But as I run to the playground, under the moon I first touched your blue veins The rain starts to crinkle from the skies and I remember I remember I am alive
Oleander Shamar Furman I watched as they did their work, As they sliced your mouth like knives “I’m sorry.” Quick and swift , but the wounds everlasting They tore into your teeth one by one, Sinking into the nerves of your gums, You’d have the scars forever. “I’m sorry.” They seeped into your tongue, branding you as they ambled along. Moments passed And slowly you began to cough, Eyes bulging, Rolling rapidly with a glint of panic, But , they kept dancing. “I’m sorry.” You were in pain, and visibly so It hurt to breathe, to speak, to whisper. You bit the insides of your mouth, Gnawed on your lip To see if it were all a dream, So hard the skin broke. It was real, all too real. And it was then, that you fell to your knees. “I’m sorry.”
Ann Welch That fall—when I feared I’d lost you—instead Repainted everything: love’s riotous Gauguins tinted to a deep crimson trust; Wed to your touch, I learned to keep my head Across ententes and uncouplings; we thread Through two score years gathering stitches up, My longest love, my only wanderlust You’re always there, around the bend ahead—
I made that turn, one new tahitied fall On leave from a lack of senses, my heart Swinging hard as the screen door at your back; You strode across the red-gold splattered yard I shed the rest , save that week in your thrall My face framed by your hands, moments to grasp.
Kate Ciavarra fingers are such fragile, finicky tendrils to deal with they reach across oceans and close eyes they spread like a darkness or they hold lightning bugs hidden palms light up and tickle hands hold other hands hold captive my attention spark my imagination into a multihued wonderland where the next adventure is no farther than the reach of my fingers
“ j a c k , ” s u s a n P r o v o s t - d u b o i s
“ S u e , ” J a c k S i m o n e t t a
” c o n n e c t i o n , ” h o l d e n H o l c o m b e
[ fiction ] touch
Anton Dudley “Could you turn away from the light?” Elijah would do anything to avoid his subjects’ eyes. And now the brush began its solitary dance. In a drunken tango, the fine hairs swayed back and forth across the canvas. I walked down the rotting wooden stairs that led to his studio, tired of watching boy after boy turn away from the light . Whenever I begin to feel invisible, I move to the water. Living on an island provides the accessibility a frequently invisible individual like myself requires. Underwater, hearing is reversed. All you can hear is your heartbeat and your lungs ache for their next breath. Your sense of smell is stopped and to taste would invite death. Sight is nothing but a blur of blue. Touch is the only sense unaffected by water. The grasping for experience, as the mind strains to understand all that brushes against the skin. The evening was hot . I had just got my driver’s license and I drove. Downtown I had seen what looked to me like a gay bar. Its purple windows had always drawn my eye as Mom drove me to the gallery in the city center. Mom had a burning passion for art and an equal passion for teaching me everything she knew about it . “Be careful.” “Of what?” I asked. “Just be careful.” Mom always said that every time I got in the car by myself, even if I was only running out for bread. The club had a large parking lot . I parked my car in the back of the lot fearing someone might see my private school parking sticker and report my deviance. Once inside, the colored lights and imitation smoke hid the walls, so the room felt like an endless cave in which time was forbidden. “You want a drink?” An older man, thirty, held my shoulder. “Beer.” I said this word with such conviction that the man assumed I was of age. “My name’s Peter,” he said. “David.” I had concocted an equally believable phone number. “David. That’s a solid name. Do you want an import or domestic?”
I asked for something dark; light beer makes me burp and I was trying to act mature. Peter put his hand on my leg. Sex is a lot like beer. You hate the first few, but after you get used to it , you can pretend you enjoy it . Further down the line you can’t get enough of it . The bathroom was dark, lit by a solitary red bulb in the corner. All around us were men in various stages of undress, engaged in various attempts at physical connection. We found an empty stall and fell in. My heart was beating so loud I could barely make out the beat of the music in the other room. I held my breath and closed my eyes. I pressed my hand against the cold metal wall of the stall and dreamed of ice. The sky was rapidly growing darker as some clouds etched their way into the halo of the moon. As I emerged from the water, I saw Elijah standing on the dry part of the sand, waiting for me, his open shirt rippling in the lazy breeze. “You turned into a mermaid?” he joked. “What’re you doing down here?” “Too dark to paint .” Elijah had a phobia of electricity. “The moon’s cold tonight . Pearl, not silver. Aren’t you cold?” “I thought you’d be in bed with him by now,” I said. Elijah pouted the same way he had the first time we met . “There’s the bronze David,” my mother said. It was the third David we had seen that day. This one was green, where the other two had been white. David enthralled me. He possessed what no commercial image had managed to exploit in him. “Take a picture of me next to it ,” I said. “Prom night!” she said with a mercurial smile. If you’ve ever been to Florence, you know that restaurant on the hill, the one with the view of Brunelleschi’s Dome. Mom took me there to eat and to meet up with her friend from college: Elijah. “It’s such a coincidence we’re in Florence at the same time, I haven’t seen him for years,” she said. Yet they were closer than any couple I’d ever met . Elijah sent my mother paintings; she sent him songs she composed on her shiny, black piano. I couldn’t help but feel that more was discussed in this exchange of art than was ever dreamed of in most literary correspondences. “There he is,” she said. He had thick black curly hair and long fingernails. He talked in no particular accent but with that light affectation which made American businessmen nervous. Halfway through lunch, Mom excused herself to the bathroom. “I’ve heard a lot about you.” “Mom likes to brag.” “I’d like to show you my studio sometime.” “I bet .” “You don’t like art?” Elijah said, putting his hand on my thigh.
“Sure.” I couldn’t tell if I was being dismissive or flirtatious; I don’t know if there’s a difference. “Your mother said you loved Masaccio and Caravaggio.” “They ’re dead, I can trust them with my affections.” And then the pout; that stupid doggy pout that said ‘why are you so mean to me?’ It also meant Elijah was in the mood for sex. I sometimes felt Elijah only wanted me when he realized how much he missed her. As if taking me would, in some way, bring her memory alive in his mind. I sense my mother in everything—her songs, her face, her laugh, her voice, her smell, her warmth. Elijah only sees her in me. I inherited her eyes; eyes that seem to have grown darker since her death. “So, why didn’t you do him?” I asked. “It’s a bit dark to be swimming, isn’t it?” “Moon’s high enough.” He just stared. “Why ’d you come down here?” I asked. “Wondered where you went off to.” “Didn’t seem to notice me leave.” “You know I get tunnel vision when I paint .” Whenever Elijah said “tunnel vision” he clasped his fingers around his eye sockets like thick-lensed glasses and shook his head back and forth. It made him look like a cartoon. “Do you want to fuck?” he asked. “Go finish your painting,” I said. Back into the water; I wanted to drown in blue. Mom’s favorite flower was the iris; her funeral was like a greenhouse, one that specialized in the fragile bloom. Her coffin was lowered into the Earth and I remember thinking the sky would collapse, crash down and pummel me into the ground like a nail in soft wood. I walked up to the ditch that had been dug to contain her, as if that were possible. I looked in and saw that bluish-gray box gasping for air. A man pulled me back. It was Elijah. “I know,” he said. I remember thinking he didn’t know anything. “I know,” he repeated in the same pulse as before. I threw my gaze onto the multitude of iris. I thought I saw my mother running across each petal, as if she were responsible for the yellow streaks that sliced and dusted each flower. “We don’t have to go to the reception.” “Fuck,” I said. Mom hated me to use that word, but none other came to mind. The day was hideous, meaningless, eternal. Fuck. There is a splash behind me which sounds like a distant explosion. I feel something touch my leg. Because of my over-active imagination, I think it’s a shark,
fuck. It’s Elijah—my instincts are often correct . Elijah hates to swim; he only comes in when loneliness has twisted away the fear inside him. I force him far from the beach. “It’s so dark,” he spits, wiping the salt from his eyes as he treads for dear life. “We should go in.” I stay silent . “You hear me?” His shoulders glisten like ice. His hair sticks to his face like seaweed. His eyes like beach glass. He is the ocean. Like this, I could dive into him and disappear. “Please?” I shoot past him. He can beat me on land, but I’m the dolphin. Splash. Splash. Splash. The pounding of arms on water like thunder. I was swimming as fast as I could, wanting more than anything to make her proud. I came in third. “What are you complaining for? I don’t have any bronze. Look at my rings,” she twinkled her fingers in front of me, “gold and silver—now you’ve completed the set!” I stood on the stand in my towel, stinking of chlorine. I looked across at her as the junior YMCA played the national anthem over its loud speakers. She had a precious diamond tear in her eye. If I had known then she would not live to see me turn eighteen, I would have pressed my forefinger to her cheek and let that tear roll into the palm of my hand, then sealed it tight in a jar to keep out time. The other parents flocked around their shivering kids: women and children in a sea of fathers. Tall, well-fed, balding men in suits who’d skipped out on work to see their kids swim in straight lines for faux metal medallions. These men disgusted me. I didn’t know why, given their numbers, none stood by me. Mom put her arm around me and laughed the sort of laugh that melts snow. “Ah well, at least I don’t have to share you.” As we walked up the beach, Elijah put his arm around me. “Let me paint you.” “I thought it was too dark to paint .” “By candle light .” “You’ll strain your eyes.” The moon tucked in. “I want to stay outside a little longer,” I said. We sat down on the floury sand, naked. I lay back and gazed up at the heavens, or whatever lies beyond. Elijah moved his hand onto my leg and slowly caressed my thigh. “Go on,” he whispered. “What?” “I can see you looking past the sky. Go up there.” “Shut up, Lij.” “You think she’s up there and you’re probably right . Can you hear her?” “Lij.” “I would give the world to have your hearing. That’s why you’re silent so much. You’re listening to her. Go.”
“What’s with you tonight?” “I saw her,” he said. “Huh?” “I was painting and the brush just went . Go look upstairs, if you don’t believe me. I painted her face.” We fell silent . Silence was something we could do well. After we met in Florence, Elijah decided to rent a studio apartment in the city. He was independently wealthy and followed his impulses. I started seeing Elijah more frequently. Afternoon visits to his studio on my way home from school in the fall of my senior year lasted into the cold winter evenings. In the center of his apartment was a large, old porcelain tub. I lay in the steaming water and he painted me—variations on The Death of Marat Sade. In the midst of this facade, Mom discovered a lump on her left breast , and, without my knowledge, put in her will that , were she to die, I should move in with Elijah until I was legally old enough to be on my own. I looked at my image in his paintings and saw an empty face. I told Elijah I didn’t believe we truly knew each other. He just stared at me. After a long silence he muttered under his breath, “You’re not like her at all.” He fled the city and moved to the Caribbean. Elijah would have impulses in which he’d follow the path of a painter he revered; this time, Gauguin. The art still arrived in Mom’s mailbox, but I neither spoke nor wrote to him, nor he to me. Six months later, Mom left too, but with no possibility of return. I didn’t have to move in with Elijah since I had turned eighteen with the New Year, but he insisted at the funeral I should, perhaps from guilt , most likely from dedication to my mother. I agreed; I had nowhere else to go. His hand moved up my leg after a long silence. I lay motionless. Elijah rolled over and kissed me. It must have felt like kissing a corpse, but it didn’t bother him. The sense of touch is awkward in the fact that , unlike other senses, it is equally effective on the receiving end. I let Elijah make a map of my body. He did so with an intense desperation. “You’re going to leave soon, aren’t you? Just like her, you’ll leave me too,” he said. “Where would I go?” He kissed me and went to sleep. I watched him. I could learn to love him. I loved his art . When the silence grew awkward, we could talk about her. Somewhere I heard a giggle. As if a wish had somehow come true. Then… “I love you, Lij.” He was already asleep. The stars seemed to weave a ladder through the sky. One day, I’ll shed my body and climb it . For now, I live in the world of touch.
charlemagne MK Stinson
i step outside and the roads are covered in sand. it is june. my feet sink into the chalk and dust and leave prints, (unwillingly, without my thought) single file, toward downtown. it is hot , but my hands are numb. the humidity is a revenant , groaning. my head aches. the street is overexposed, a raw stomach ripped and grated. someone has turned up the soil in my yard, tested it with sure hands. i am confused, sleepy and anaemic. the sick wind brings sugar beets and electrical buzzing. i have lost my map of this space, and so look for landmarks. i wait . and i walk for hours. dogs bark in the distance; roman candles echo off the parking garages and empty buildings. the sparks travel through the torn-up streets and break to pieces behind the glowing ache of the hospital. i feel the newness of spring dissolve on the back of a summer storm. the creeping sun sets at the vanishing point of king street and sears the ruin into my retinas, blinds me, plays through my hair whipping in my face. the air turns, smells like peonies and decay, and the dust is everywhere. my vision is thick with it . the storm spreads heavy, a quilt: my neighbours hang black curtains across their front doors, marking each house as a comrade in mourning. we are mourning. (what , exactly?) still, there are wind-chimes. my neighbours cut theirs down with weighty scissors, afraid of unchained tones. they bury the scissors under the chalk. across the street , charlemagne stands in the tattoo parlour parking lot with his hands behind his head, elbows pointing up toward the sun. his face is deep, carved, lined with coal and he laughs and laughs. behind him: vibrations, whirring. the sounds of bolt-tighteners. doorbells. the tattoo parlour shares a parking lot with a mechanic but i am sometimes unsure which is which. someone, a spectre maybe, revs an engine and looks at me, polishes off a beer. i canâ€™t focus. the bottle disappears into the hot , oily air of the body shop. i feel like i am sleeping. i feel like the sand is being poured into my lungs. charlemagne forces my gaze and walks toward me, tattooed hands pulling on the soft skin of his cheekbones so i see the stretching of the wet , red flesh of his eye sockets, like the inside of a plum. he smiles with a hard underbite and whistles in my direction. his knuckles each bear a rune. i look at my feet , at my own ruined hands, imagine threading a needle with fine, silver thread and sewing shut his eyelids, so he cannot look at me again. this is a funeral. the neighbourhood rocks with the weight of mourning. (i freeze with the heaviness of morning.) charlemagne rolls his eyes back into his head and laughs. â€œwhere have you been.â€? i wish i had remembered my shoes. he reaches out , slowly, with ceaseless patience, and he runs first two fingers down the bow of my cheek. at his touch, the base of my spine sears white-gold. suddenly i am dreaming: i dream that charlemagne and i are walking in a series of golden rooms. it is the middle of the night , but everywhere: the strained, impractical light of achy afternoons. under his eyes are rings of purple, lilac, mauve. the skin across his face is translucent and almost-broken. i can watch him but he is unable to harm me. if i focus too hard on his face my vision becomes awash with white noise.
we walk from room to room with our hands joined. i can trace the veins beneath his skin, cross the fjords and fells drawn into his complexion. i shiver. as the night should be ending it instead expands endlessly outward. the eternal rooms of this dream are a museum, though nothing is on display. we walk for hours, through similar gilded doorways and across the duplicated golden expanse. finally, in a room larger than all those that preceded it: cliffs of indeterminable height . stratified dolostone and sandstone in blues and grays and deep, unforgiving red shale. though the ceiling seems no taller than that of the previous rooms, somehow the formation is contained. from its lip: clear, ever-falling water, pooling not at our feel but somehow flowing forth from the room and vanishing, but not in a way that i can pinpoint . charlemagne looks at me, his face an indecipherable blur. he points at the waterfall and speaks, but all i hear is white noise. he leans in to kiss me and i close my eyes, feeling the golden heat of the rooms around me float away. i wake up naked, on the floor of my room, the backs of my hands scraped and bleeding.
how i cope with death Anna Mahrer
I. When I first met the ground I was one, and it introduced itself with gravel and blood. My palms and knees were red, my soft skin peeled into hardness, red Popsicle lips wet with tears and snot . I had chased after a squirrel, stumbling and laughing, and lost my footing as it disappeared into a hole I was sure I could fit through.
II. I was fifteen when I met a boy named Luke who had my back against dirt and my legs apart because he said he loved me. The highest point in Ohio is Campbell Hill in Bellefontaine and my body earned marks from its peak. I quietly received him, concentrated blood flow and blind lust disguised as warm skin, telling my body to get used to this. I did not listen to its reply.
III. When I was five I spent all of my time in the backyard plucking flowers from their roots and watching bugs. One day I stepped on a beetle by accident , turning it into black gum, and I cried for two hours. After our burial, my mother in her red sun dress told me the beetle had a short life anyway and not to be sad, but all I could picture was a giant foot coming out of the sky and turning me into skin and juice. IV. I’m fifty-three and I think I’m dying because that’s what my heart has been telling me. It is helping me become accustomed to death by stopping, then starting again with startling force that punches the inside of my chest and makes me gasp. I’m fifty-three and I’m dying because soon it won’t start again. Soon I will live in soil and belong to the Earth, the way I always have.
the survivor Ryan Sobeck
David wanted to forget the Holocaust Remembrance Banquet was happening the next day. He had already booked the MET atrium, dealt with the photographers, caterers, coat check, union heads, and written at least a dozen press releases. All that was left was to find someone who could stand and help with the most important part: the remembering. He had been planning the Holocaust Remembrance Banquet for the past twenty three years, and until now he could always count on Shamira to attend and stand up as tall as her frail frame would let her when he asked all of the survivors to rise. Over the years David had seen dozens of survivors who came out to this event dwindle down until it was just Shamira standing in a crowd of tables that were neatly arranged according to number and donation size. The last time he had spoken to Shamira was at the banquet the previous year. She had found him at the back of the room while everyone was watching a video that documented Shamira’s life. She touched his arm with her frail, translucent skin that was wrinkled and curved like a crumpled receipt . “I am the last one,” she said in slow, accented English. She was staring at the screen on the far end of the room. “The last what?” he asked. The video was describing how Shamira and her family milked three cows from the barn they hid in before they were captured. They lived horizontally for months, squirming like worms under floorboards and only came out at night to squeeze an udder to cup warm milk in their hands. “The last survivor,” she said. “That’s crazy. You can’t be the last one,” he said, taking his eyes off the video. “We’ve hundreds of names still. I’m sure of it .” “A letter came in the mail. It had the Star of David and said my number was the last one from the ledgers. Not sure if I am the last one in the world… perhaps only the last at Gross-Rosen,” she said. Her voice was soft , as if it might blend with the semi-darkness of the banquet hall. She shook her head and looked at David. Her eyes were pale blue to the point of grey. He wanted to say something to reassure her. Something about how her life was no different . That everything would remain the same even if this was true. But he wasn’t sure if that would give her any kind of solace. He didn’t know how to comfort someone who might have more in common with an endangered animal than with him. Maybe she could travel to Kenya and fall in under the guard for the white rhino. They could walk slowly over the savannah together and share a feeling of solitude. David felt unsettled and nervous to even be in her presence, as if she might falter and that solitude would fall onto him, crushing him without even noticing. “The film is wrong,” she said. “I was only a young girl, but I remember we only had two cows in the barn.” A phone call from Sandra told David that Shamira had died alone at her home in Queens. Sandra, her neighbor, occasionally helped Shamira with errands. She had called and sounded sad, not surprised Shamira had passed.
“I can’t believe she’s gone,” David said. He had just received a letter from Shamira a few weeks earlier expressing how excited she was to be attending another year. She included a plus-one for Sandra to attend as a thank you for the help she had been giving her. “She was very old, you know, close to ninety I think,” Sandra said. Her voice choked a little, but she cleared her throat and it was gone. “She didn’t seem sick,” he said. “She wasn’t . She was just old and tired. It was her time,” she said. “I thought you should know. She would mention you when we went out .” “Yeah, of course,” he said, though he was surprised he was even mentioned. They only spoke at the banquet , and even then it was usually courteous dialog that centered on gratitude for the invitation, and inquiring politely about attendance rates. “Does she have any other family?” He was sure he had talked to Shamira before about her remaining family, but he couldn’t remember what she said. He could check their records, there would be some note or contact number associated with her file, but he had a feeling Shamira had no living family left , only acquaintances and those in her proximity, like Sandra. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do without Shamira. If he had no survivors at the Remembrance Banquet , then what were they remembering? Who were they remembering for? Were they remembering the event or the people? Would they remember Gross-Rosen or Shamira when the time came? He could change the focus of the banquet to those family members that have been affected by the event , but then where would it stop? It would keep going out , farther and farther from the center until they all forgot . He felt that there was some line where this model could no longer sustain itself, and the whole system would collapse—our desire to cling onto the past would eventually drown us in obscurity, all the while opening the door to the opportunity for history to repeat itself. David felt isolated, unsure of his right and role in remembering something he never experienced in the first place. “I don’t know about other family,” Sandra said. “I doubt it . You know she lived alone? I never saw anyone come visit her. It’s so sad really; after all she’s lived through to have no one close to mourn you when you’re dead.” “Yeah,” David said. “I mean, you’ll mourn of course.” “In my own way,” she said. There was silence between them that was filled by the gentle hum of the receiver picking up ambient noise. “I was told by her lawyer that the funeral is going to be tomorrow afternoon, in case you want to come.” “The banquet is tomorrow,” he said. “I know. I just thought you would like to know.” “I’ll try to come out , if I have time.” David stood off to the side of the banquet . There were close to two hundred people milling around in evening dresses and suits. They usually gave pink peony corsages and lapel flowers to the survivors to help people recognize and honor them, but tonight there were no flowers roaming around the floor. Instead, he organized that every attendant would wear red poppy flowers in memory of Shamira. It seemed fitting, though he didn’t tell anyone why, not even his staff.
David was determined to have something, anything in tribute. “It’s just a flower to show support ,” he told his staff to explain to the guests as they entered. Shamira had told him a story once, in her slow English, about how she would see flowers at Gross-Rosen. It was one conversation he remembered having with her outside the niceties they exchanged each year. “I would walk along the fence, not too close. They shoot if you are too close. But I walk and look at the flowers growing—coming right up to the edge and choking the bottom of the fence with stems. I wasn’t jealous of their freedom,” she said, more to herself than to David. “They were desperate to grow. And I thought it so strange they wanted to sink their roots and be more permanent than me by growing season after season. So strange that they would be there again and again—never changing.” David was almost positive she said red poppies were the flower, though she might have said an iris of some sort . He remembered when he visited family in Poland a few years back, he had seen Siberian Irises in gardens with the depressing color of rust that they take on at the edge of winter. But David wasn’t even sure if it mattered what flower she saw. Was the color of the flower so necessary to Shamira’s personal memory that it mattered what he distributed at a banquet decades later? Did the red or purple color have some secret meaning to Shamira that would eventually be lost on the guests anyway? Replaced by some piece of gossip or a grocery list? David couldn’t take Shamira’s gaze again—grey eyes grown pale with living.
s h e r r y r o s e n
He felt like he was suffocating under these questions, his mind strained under the duress of trying to hold onto a story that was so fleeting, he wasn’t even sure if it was Shamira who had told him or if it was some other survivor now. He grabbed a glass of wine from a waiter as it went by. He was expected to make a speech in a few minutes, but he didn’t know what to say. He’d spent most of his day trying to get these flowers. Nothing felt right or appropriate without Shamira. Saying nothing felt equally lacking. David drifted towards the door, away from the people. To him, they swayed amongst each other like flowers in a breeze. He stepped into the cool night and looked out at the stone steps that dominated the sidewalk. The sky held a thick blanket of grey clouds. The air smelled like rain, perhaps wash away some of the discarded napkins littering the edge of the steps. A cab pulled up and Sandra stepped out in a black dress that looked wrinkled from neglect . Her arms were pale against the sleeveless dress, while her face was framed by limp black hair. She ascended the stairs, and David had the urge to meet her in the middle. He only managed a few steps before he stopped, as if a string were tied around his waist and tethered him to the museum entrance, preventing him from going any further. “I didn’t see you at the funeral,” she said as she came to the same step. It wasn’t an accusation or reprimand—just a statement of the facts. “I wasn’t . I wanted to. I was busy taking care of some last minute things for the banquet tonight . Flowers to order…” He let his sentence trail off, not remembering what he told himself when he decided not to go. She nodded her head. They stood on the stairs for a few moments in silence. A light mist of rain began to fall and turn the sidewalk to a darker grey. The stone steps became slick. She began to walk towards the door of the museum when David turned and called after her. “Did you ever hear Shamira tell you a story from her time at Gross-Rosen,” he began, “where she would walk along the fence and look out at the flowers that grew on the other side of the fence? Do you remember what flower she said was on the other side?” Sandra turned and looked back at David. “She never told me any stories like that . We didn’t really talked about her time there. We usually just chatted about her grocery list and errands.” David nodded and turned back toward the street . “I think we have two different memories of Shamira,” Sandra said. “I only knew her as my friend. For me, this night is remembering her life.” David heard her heels clicking as she went into the banquet . He walked to the edge of the stairs and imagined there was a fence along the edge. He would see flowers tangled around the bottom, sprouting bright colored petals through the chain links. Their delicate heads bobbing as if asleep. David came to the last stair and stepped down. Forgetting everything about the banquet , he walked away from the museum—following close, but not too close, to his own fence, staring at his own flowers and remembering Shamira.
The Chance Juliette Mann
It was one of those February days you want to be wary of, where you can feel its icy grip even huddled under layers of clothing. I stood on the “sidelines” of our boat , the beautiful Catalina, her sleek power harnessed only by our small group of three. Peering out over the deck, my face buried so deeply in polar fleece that only my eyes felt the bite of the wind, I watched Coach grip the wheel. The wind tore through our sails, jolting our every movement and lifting the decks up and down with the sea. Behind him, a fleet of fifty boats followed us, uniform as a school of piranhas, and just as intent . Wishing I had a life-jacket to warm my hands in, I clenched them into fists so tight that I could feel the blood pumping furiously through them. For a moment I closed my eyes: White billowing sails flickered behind my eyelids, stark on a field of crisp blue sky. I could almost hear the laughter among the shouts of competition, could almost feel a cool summer breeze through my hair. When I opened them, the previously flat water had started to gather texture as the wind began to roll and toss it , its white peaks the only distinction between the grey of the ocean and the grey of the sky. Coach looked everywhere but the mass of boats behind him: from the sails, to the sky, to me, and finally to Aiden, the other crew. I had never met Aiden before, only heard of his reputation as a rookie whispered over a post-regatta beer. I looked him over: He too seemed to be scanning the skies. Does he want this as much as I do? I don’t know why Coach would choose him for this race, but out of our team of over twenty I’m not sure why he would choose me either. Of everyone, we had the most to prove. Today, the waves were rolling higher than my waist and the wind punched at our sails as if desperate to tear through them. Today, of all days, was the day to prove myself. If we could win this race, coming in first out of over fifty boats, we would travel to Spain for the world championship. I could almost feel the warm Mediterranean air blow through my hair, the metal wheel of the helm strong in my hands. The wind whispered “champion” as it rushed past my ear, straight out of the bay and on to Spain. “A fair-weather sailor is no true sailor,” Coach always reminds us on days like these. Before today, you probably wouldn’t have called me a true sailor. But oh, how I wanted to be. I wanted to be the one holding the wheel and never looking back. Coach’s eyes flicked back to me, fixing me with a cold, appraising stare. “Take the wheel,” he said evenly, and stepped back, waiting for me to take his place. His words were quickly snatched away by the wind, but not before they sent a stab of fear into my hands, a million needles trying to convince me to stick them right back into my pockets and far away from the wheel. I imagined making the wrong move, violently swerving us in the wrong direction, only able to grip the wheel futilely as I watch fifty boats pass us and sail on to Spain, to my dream. My heart froze at the very thought . Nonetheless, I felt my hand take the wheel. For a moment , as I began to ease our boat through the pitching sea, my fears were left behind on the shore. The wheel felt sure in my hand, guiding me as we crested waves so frothy and cold they could have been dusted with snow. I
laughed out loud, open-mouthed and tasting the salt of the ocean as it landed on my tongue and the wind sent us speeding through the water. I looked quickly at Aiden, who was watching me with a small melancholy smile on his face. I know he could see himself where I was standing—but I was the one with the wheel. The metal of the helm glowed with warmth in my hand. I imagined that Aiden saw me glowing too, illuminated from behind by the first traces of the sunset . I tilted my head back, feeling the water feed through my hair like wind through the feathers of a bird. Lifting my face up to feel the breeze, I watched the sky change colors above me as the sun continued to set . Then, so quick it might’ve not been there at all, a streak of white flashed across the sky. I almost didn’t register it until the answering boom of thunder sat me upright and wide-eyed. The fear returned, growing as quickly as the waves. Suddenly, a gust of wind ripped our boat 90 degrees in the opposite direction. For a second, my hand let go of the wheel. As the floor jolted beneath our feet , I felt Aiden trip across the boat , unbalancing our weight so that we capsized and spilled into the ocean. After that , I stopped feeling. The water left me totally numb. I reached out for Aiden, for Coach, for anyone, but my hand grasped only water and the icy cold at my lungs clutched even tighter. As my head broke the surface, mouth open to shout , I tasted nothing but fear. Coach broke the surface of the water, and pulled himself on top of the upside down boat . I whipped my head around looking for Aiden, yelling his name out of panic and a sheer desire to know that I still had a voice. Finally, he bobbed up next to me, gasping in short bursts that sounded like cries. Hands slick from salt , I grasped the side of our upside-down boat with one hand and reached out for Aiden with the other. “Aiden!” I shouted again, desperation breaking my voice, “Can you grab my hand and help me right the boat?” He tried to reach out , but could barely move his arm for all it shook. His head kept disappearing under the water and his movements were growing less frantic. He opened his mouth to speak, but water flooded in and the only sound that came out were those same little cries. Coach appraised the situation in a single glance. Diving off the over-turned boat , he grabbed Aiden under one arm and floated on his back, kicking his legs to keep their heads above water. The only sign that he felt the cold was a slight pulse in the vein in his neck. Coach looked at me wordlessly, paddling effortlessly, and then gave a nod that I should continue. I had no one and nothing but my sodden clothes and the weight of expectation on my back. Whether selected by choice or necessity, I had been chosen. His meaning was clear: I was to right the boat alone. I held the boat , marveling at how something under which I had had such complete control could suddenly turn on me. The fleet of boats raced past me, so many and so fast that it was impossible to tell how far behind we were. Images of Spain, sparkling blue waters, and the warm glow of a golden trophy echoed faintly in my mind, but I pushed those thoughts away; now the game was to survive. I gripped our beautiful, treacherous Catalina’s underside once more, imagining it was the wheel that had once felt so strong and sure in my hand. My head leaned back, not to savor the cold touch of the water which gripped me in places I didn’t know could feel cold, but to lean my weight back to lift our water-sodden sail. The mast began rising slowly, but it all too quickly righted itself. Shocked by its own mobility and possibly wishing to test the laws of gravity, it all came crashing back down once more, trapping me
below. I was simultaneously falling and trapped in place, locked in miles of line and being dragged down by my own water-filled clothes. My heart raced, reminding me over and over that I needed to breathe, but the water clenched my lungs so tightly I couldn’t have filled them even if I had the air. I remembered, for a second, the warm glow that I had felt soaring above the waves. But I was no more a skipper then than I was now, slowly sinking through thick, black water. I had been a child, powerful only through ignorance of what I lacked. Just as the cold gripped me so hard I thought I had turned to ice, I felt myself rising. Pushed by the water and pulled by the ropes that embraced me, I broke the surface. Coach’s strong hands freed me from knotted line and hauled down useless sails as I collapsed on the deck. Aiden stood at the helm, water dripping from his hair down his stark-white face. His hands trembled, but never slipped from the wheel. I felt myself wrapped in a blanket and led by foreign hands into a rescue boat that floated inches from the water-sodden Catalina. As we sped away across the water, I couldn’t help but watch her disappear behind us. Coach never looked back, never met my gaze. Water, and the burden of fear, receded from my back. I was left only with the cold, and the failure.
between the wish and the thing Elle Jay Roe
When he arrived back at the apartment it was almost midnight and Michael looked out his window at the starless sky painted black from light pollution, like the hands of God reached down and streaked from the ink of the city and drew upwards in broad, coating strokes, and the boy saw that the moon tonight was amber and hazy and on fire and lit one crimson circle against the emptiness. It felt wrong or improper, something unexplainable like that . On his bedside table there were two cups that each held coffee, one from many days ago and one from that morning, and a copy of a book about horses and the point where realism and romanticism met . Though they could never coexist , Michael thought a long time about the book—and he went to the bed and sat on it and opened the book again and leafed through it , searching to find a phrase or sentence that could help him understand how he felt . But of course the book would not help him any more than anyone else could instruct him on how he should feel. After a while the boy drifted to sleep on his side while the moon passed his window, shining briefly a ray of pale fire before moving over and away and the boy dreamt about another place. The first time he spoke to Arabella it was nearly four years ago and he found her because he read a piece of writing that she wrote, and he wrote to her and sent her his writing and they began talking. Three thousand miles and the entirety of a country separated them and through this a companionship flourished like a germinating sprout exponentially growing from the soil and ever extending upwards to an unknowable future. She liked to talk to him about her feelings and he liked to talk to her about his opinions. Then, like a slow emerging drought , their messages drew thinner and more sparse and the long roads that separated them pummeled gavels that shook foundations and their lives overtook the relationship. And yet even through this he never ceased to feel a love for Arabella
that permeated a soft caress through the weeks then months and years since they had spoken consistently and passionately. It was not the sprout that needed care nor attention, but one that grew of its own volition both slowly and steadily and all the while unceasingly, and in his chest he felt that she knew he still thought of her even as he moved through his life and her, hers. Then she moved to the city and he would today see her for both a first and a hundredth time. After a few more moments his phone vibrated with a call from her and the boy craned his head, lifted his eyes up, and glanced around the perimeter and fell upon a mess of dark hair floating downward a waterfall jolted from perpetual motion and the pale back of a girl that shone luminously like a mirror against the harshness of the sun. She wore a black dress with lace near the neck and dark tights. She wore large black boots with metallic toes that contradicted her slender figure and slight hips. She carried a worn leather shoulder bag and she stood with the phone to her ear while she stared at the ground as if it were to disappear from under the soles of her feet . Her skin burst like cold steam coming up from a river. Like cold mist lingering in the ocean air. He came up behind her so as to scare her and shouted her name and when she swiveled her gaze to him, bringing with it the spin and rotation of the Earth, he pretended to hurl his backpack at her and she flinched and smiled as he laughed. They did not need to embrace and before he could speak she put her phone in her purse and lit the cigarette in her other hand and said, “Before we do anything I need to get some ice cream,” and she walked to the ice cream truck parked by the curb and asked for a vanilla ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles and handed the man five dollars, and he gave her two dollars in change and she took the ice cream and said, “Now I have two dollars to my name,” and grinned as they commenced walking down the street . There was a certain inflection to her voice that Michael couldn’t place that was both a lilt and a certain hesitancy as if afraid of everything she said, and they walked downtown only pausing at intersections and only rarely if ever looking at each other, and the boy was glad of this because her eyes that acted like twin microscopes seemed to focus in and through his body as if staring at something directly behind him. He searched for things to say, not because he felt awkward beside her, but because he wanted to hear her speak and there was an ambiance about her that was calming and benevolently debilitating, as she seemed to float more than step and rely not on conversation but nuance and body language as both discussion and interview. Finally he asked her what she did in her spare time. “These days mostly drugs,” she said. For a moment the boy thought she was joking. “Honestly?” he asked. “Yeah,” she said. This word in particular was instantly recognizable in pronunciation and enunciation and distinctly Arabella. “I’m not here to judge,” said the boy. “I didn’t really plan for it to become a part of my life.” “I don’t think anybody really plans for drugs.” “They creep up on you,” she said. “First it’s just once a month and then it’s once a week and now it’s every other day. I have to stop soon because my tolerance is built up now.” “So it’s not economically feasible.”
K a t e c i a v a r r a
“Exactly.” “At least you have one reason to stop.” She spoke of this as if it were speaking of the weather. She spoke with candidness and aloofness from herself. “Let’s walk downtown,” the boy offered. “You live downtown, right?” “In that direction, yes,” said Arabella. “Are you hungry?” “I don’t think I need any food.” “What’s your favorite food.” “Burritos.” The boy grinned. Burritos. It would be burritos. “Burritos are delicious,” she said. While passing a bistro Arabella stopped and reached into her bag and produced another cigarette, which she lit , and they walked again while talking about socializing. Arabella mentioned that she spent most of the time in her apartment not doing much of anything in particular. She worked at a bagel cafe and her tasks revolved around making and serving coffee. She moved to the city because she didn’t like where she had been living. She would probably move again with her boyfriend after a few more moments. She spoke of all this with severe disinterest . She looked at the ground as she walked. When she looked at Michael he lost countenance with the world. In front of a pet store Arabella asked if Michael wanted to go inside and he nodded. They walked past aisles of animals and creatures in tanks and in cages making noises from all corners of world at once in drones. Together they walked past tanks of fish that peered out emotionless and cold. One goldfish bloated to unmanageable size had eyes that bugged out as if it were crying for help and Arabella stood in front of it laughing uncontrollably for a long time. “This one looks like you,” she said. “Imagine if it was you.” Michael imagined. The rear of the store housed a room of small rabbits and cages of birds and below these shelves tanks with crickets and mealworms to feed them. Arabella took her phone out and began photographing the mealworms. To Michael she seemed like someone especially unafraid to play in mud and worms, her skin impervious to anything external. Her arm had a tattoo of a flower on it . Her legs had further still that she had tattooed on herself, all reminders that the past was a thing that actually happened and held precedence over the future an unwinnable war already fought and predetermined. He felt all this and so he stood there for a moment breathing in through his nostrils and opened his ears to all sounds and felt the temperature and humidity on his skin and moved his tongue around in his mouth and looked about trying desperately to record every sense of that moment so that he may come back to it at any time and that would be enough until it was not anymore. When they stepped outside the world greeted them with sudden realism. A food cart beckoned from across the street and they crossed together and Michael bought and they walked while he ate. “I’m really tired of food from those carts,” said Arabella. “How often do you have it?” asked Michael. “Maybe once a week. It used to be more.” “As opposed to going to a market and buying the ingredients yourself ?” She looked at him and nodded.
“That makes sense”, the boy said while thinking. “Let’s go to a market . I’ve already eaten but you haven’t . Let’s get food you can bring home.” And as if an excavation, this would grow as a virus, as a final turning point of the day through which Michael felt an increasing dichotomy between extreme intimacy and impossible distance as he grew more and more to understand that he was faced with a girl with her own life and her own decisions, and though he could try it would be impossible to affect her. The knowledge that though she seemed throughout that day strangely stable and put-together, beyond this she was far and recondite. Through this he knew that to love would be to remain and to trust and that it was not his place to affect or to change that her life was her life and he had a privilege very few would ever have of spending even an afternoon with her and that was enough. So they went to the grocery because he knew that was all he could ever do for her. Inside the market they passed by new mothers with young children and old couples at the ends of their lives and foreigners and natives and as if a mark of God Arabella in that moment produced wings and dragged Michael behind her the first time that day unabashed and unafraid a train without any tracks as she went first to the cheeses where she selected the finest triple-cream Henry Hutin Couronne brie and calabrese style soppressata then to the eggs for a dozen jumbo white Grade-A, and then she said nearly shouting that she needed bread for the ensemble and not a simple loaf but a French baguette and they went hunting through that vast market for the bread which they found and at the end of all that they chose two glass bottles of lemonade and limeade and Michael paid for it and handed Arabella the bag and they walked to the subway to send Michael off. On the subway Michael stared at the ground. The lights flickered and Arabella said that they flickered off to allow people to sleep. Michael smiled. Arabella said that it would be terrible to have AIDs and motioned to an advertisement for an AIDs fundraiser across the subway car. Michael looked at the advertisement for a long time. Arabella reminded him that he had to get off at the next stop, a gentle angel with a gentle nudge as if to say this is me and this is you. Then he stood and looked at her and stepped off the subway.
” reflected in our creations,” jack Savage 39
”way too quiet,” jack Savage
[ micro fiction ] Red Reflection Lara Lewis
Scarlet travels downward in thin rivers and dead ends. It travels in twos, one in front and one behind for each path, and each one is jagged, imperfect . Your fingertips linger on the broken glass, and you watch the thin droplets trail downward as your fingertips press lightly against the cool surface. Your image is distorted, multiplied by how many times over the mirror has been shattered, and you’re vaguely aware of the warmth pooling under your skin where you trace shards that prick your flesh. Your eyes look back at you in several reflections, sometimes just one, and you watch, mesmerized for a moment , at the macabre sight of your own face made fractal, framed in red. Even when you pull away to wash clean your hands, fingertips now bright red and stinging, you can’t look away from yourself and yourself and yourself. The mirrors hold the image of you and the rain in the window behind you, and the pale light caught in the clouds. Your fingertips still sting when you lift the massive frame, cold and hard, from the wall, and carry it away. There isn’t much use for a broken mirror, after all.
fried plantains Jill Shastany
It’s a small sacrifice she makes for me, my mother, leaving one of two blowdryers upstairs. I’m living here now (for a little while), so she’ll just deal with taking hers to the gym and out of the bag and putting it back in the closet . It’s the kind of thing I expect now, from my mother. I’ve become a brat , entitled to these things, when, when I was a kid, next to my bed and next to my sister’s, on the table, from my journal I had ripped a piece of paper, plucked a hair out of Winnie the Pooh, and left a note for her, my mother, to warn her of the potential for electric shock; I’d been careless and had splashed a little water. I’d drawn a demented picture to go along. I don’t know when I started allowing my transgressions, the disdain, when she just wants to watch me fry the plantains, but I can’t stop myself thinking how much I’d like her to stop talking. I know now I like the feeling of electric shock, of being fried.
â€œpedestrian touch,â€? samuel augustine
â€œappropriate cultural frame,â€? samuel augustine
shuttlecraft Matt Lowe
Well, this is awkward: In Mothership’s shuttlebay, one of the newborns—the shuttlings —emerges without a tail. This doesn’t happen often, mercifully. Shuttles rely on their tails, not just for balance, but for embracing cargo holds and personnel drop-boxes, too, once they ’ve begun to fledge. Without tails, they can barely hover. A tail-less shuttling’s worse than a runt; it’s a mutant , mewling as if already aware how hideously round it is. By nature, Mothership should draw the little accident into her factorywomb, cradle it for a moment to quiet it , then swiftly crush it . It’s the kindest thing she’s bred to do. But as her masters learned before and will doubtless learn again, life —even engineered life— doesn’t always do as it’s bred. The result is more awkward, even, than the birth was; at least it will be if her masters ever learn of it . Mothership does draw the little shuttling back toward the maw of her factory-womb, conveying him-her-it (too soon to tell) to its first—and last—hug. But while the conveyor belts along, Mothership’s furiously machining: not manufacturing a new product/offspring, but redirecting her own bowels. So when Junior gets that hug, there’s a very crude escape chute right below. First it sinks into the embrace, then (almost not soon enough; far too soon, as far as it’s concerned) it just sinks. It freefalls, far too free, out the warm belly of the engineered beast that is Mothership. It comes to rest in a Magisterial garbage dump. Not a place in space where anyone civilized wants to go; the only place this would’ve worked. Will Junior learn to survive, to feed itself ? That’s out of Mothership’s control. This much she knows, as she turns to follow her fleet: Her baby ’s chances are better beyond her reach.
[ nonfiction ] tolerance: 1996 Bob McCarthy
The bed is warm and the air is stale and in the living room the television is murmuring. The combination drags me from a shallow and restless sleep. Twisted in the topsheet , I wake alone but hard, swollen with unreleased tension. In shorts and t-shirt I walk out and find him in the kitchen, at the sink, filling a glass with water from the tap. We share a brief glance and exchange a quiet nod. The table is stacked with empties, the counter is littered with shot glasses, and their sight invokes fragmented memories of a night unremembered. The timeline fractured, the narrative incomplete, I’m left with only phantom images of regretful actions and the echo of careless words. I take a seat on the couch. The cushions too-firm, the fabric too-coarse, I recline, placing my feet up on the coffee table. It’s wet with condensation, a series of linked rings, each a footprint from his glass. Beyond the quiet of my bed, the television isn’t nearly so loud. But it’s on MTV and the music falls and rises in sudden swells of volume, thunderous choruses that emerge from whispered verses. At that moment Dave Grohl is onscreen, hamming it up with a roll of Mentos. It’s one of the same dozen or so videos that will air throughout the day and every day thereafter for months. Without actually knowing that Hootie will follow, I am certain he’ll be up next , imploring me to hold his hand. Then Alanis. Maybe Oasis. Water in hand, he enters the living room and sits next to me. Close. There are chairs, two that he passed. Passed over, in favor of the couch. In favor of a place next to me. Beside him there is a foot-and-a-half of unoccupied cushion; between us there’s a mere six inches. I feel his nearness, it’s tangible, it’s physical. When he places the glass on the coffee table, he puts his feet up and eases back into the cushions, moving closer. I turn and look at him—barefoot in shorts; shirtless, one nipple pierced with a sterling post; dark hair, unwashed, tousled in an artist’s mop; his soul patch Reznor-black and neatly trimmed—and find him looking at me, his brown eyes wide and waiting. I go to say something, but instead return to the television. As with so many other things in my life, I am wrong. No Blowfish or Jagged Little Pills. No Champagne Supernovas. Instead, the ruby red lips of a platinum blonde pout , “Don’t speak.” In the silence, I feel his eyes, still on me, moving over me. I hear him exhale then feel the breath, first warm on my neck then cool as it evaporates on my skin. My heart pounds once, hard and heavy, the beat echoing deep in my stomach. Then
it seizes. Perfectly still, I don’t move. Not until the arrhythmia passes; not until my heart regains its tempo. Then, eyes set forward, I place my arm behind him. Not around him. On the couch back. Behind him. Close enough to touch his neck or shoulders. With a subtle shift , he moves his foot closer to mine. Long and agile, his big toe wiggles back and forth—once, twice—brushing the soft underside of my arch. Gently, delicately. It incites a tingle that becomes a bolt that runs the length of my body. It penetrates my chest , robbing me of breath. An inaudible gasp escapes my throat . Trembling slightly, I lift my hand and begin to twirl his hair with my fingers. They twist the dark curls on the back of his head, turning them into loose corkscrews. His leg moves closer, rubbing against mine, the wispy hairs on his shin tickling my calf. Mouth dry, I try to swallow but fail. What saliva I can produce I use to wet my lips. Pressing them together, I lean toward him, moving in slowly, not yet certain whether to kiss him on the mouth or cheek, maybe the forehead. A door opens and then closes, followed by the sound of approaching footfalls. A moment later our roommate appears in the doorway, where he pauses upon seeing us. “What . The. Fuck?” Undaunted, my fingers still buried in his hair, I lean in closer, now intent on kissing him on the mouth. The space between us vanishing, I part my lips in anticipation. He stands up and backs away, hands raised in the air. “That’s far enough,” he says. “The couch is yours.” Then, reluctantly, he settles into one of the chairs. I lay out , stretching my long frame across the three cushions. As Noel Gallagher strums his familiar chords, I shut my eyes and allow the previous night to piece itself together.
Help, I’m Alive Jacqueline Frasca
Dramatic as I am, and as much as I question what’s real and what isn’t , I know my place in the life I’ve tailored around me. I know what certain friends need out of our friendship and I know what lengths I must go to (or avoid) in order to keep them close and interested. I know when I’m needed and can feel the shift in a room or a gaze when I’m not wanted, body language first-nature like outright confessing—just like I know that when my brain tells my body it’s dying during a panic attack, raking my nails over my skin ‘til blood blossoms at the surface will help shut down my amygdala. The pain wakes me up and brings me outside myself, when I’m internally waging war against my own life—when simply being alive, being conscious, is the scariest thing in the entire world because I could so easily not be. I’m catatonic on an Atlanta highway, on autopilot from A to B, rush-hour heat too close around my neck and shoulders like expanding, stiffening foam. I haven’t moved in who knows how long, and ever y so often I take a deep breath dizzily;
I’ve been forgetting to breathe, each eventual monotonous intake so shallow it’s completely ineffective by the time the oxygen hits my lungs. My brain stirs from the doleful stupor it’s been cemented in for the better part of the workday. It’s too hot and I’m not breathing correctly. I’m in traffic with a million other people, nowhere close to my destination, feeling faint and without water. I sit up straighter, turn the AC to max and urge the windows up quickly, hoping the cooler air will help convince me I’m not about to be rendered unconscious in a moving, albeit crawling, vehicle. The air is cooling slowly but never gets cold; I inch along, looking around myself for an escape, but I’m still t wo miles from my exit with none in bet ween. My nails find my throat , my clavicles, and start gripping and scratching. I focus on the pain and the repetition as my skin brightens, angr y pink lines swelling with each swipe. I put my hair into a ponytail to get it up off my neck to help convince myself I’ll be cooler and will feel more normal. To keep my hands busy, I redo it six times. While I know deep breaths will help ease the anxiet y in theor y, I control my breathing to be more “normal” and seem “unconscious;” if I breathe too deeply or too mechanically, my brain will think something is definitely wrong and I’ll faint for sure. When a panic disorder has you feeling lightheaded, unable to get oxygen to your rapidly working lungs as your heart is strangled by fear, it can be nearly impossible to talk yourself down from thinking you are actually about to die, on the spot , likely in front of lots of strangers. You simultaneously know it’s all in your head and tell yourself to do things a certain way or else the brain will further convince itself it’s dying (as if it can’t hear what you’re thinking, as if you’re separate). Technically no one has ever died from a panic attack—but what if I’m panicking because I’m having a heart attack this time? What if my lungs really aren’t getting oxygen? What if my blood pressure is somehow simultaneously too high and low enough for me to drop into a dead faint out of nowhere—while driving, or underground in a subway car, or 30,000 feet in the air with hundreds of easily frightened strangers? Touch, activating the prefrontal cortex, is my only friend when all my other senses fail me completely. That , or benzodiazepines. It’s my first panic attack and my last class for a 2008 high school summer program at Emerson College. My nonfiction class gets on a subway car at Boylston to ride the Green Line a brief t wo stops to Government Center. Settling in, I look around as we near Park Street and see the people sitting and standing, going wherever they’re going in the late summer heat of the Boston underground. My breath catches in my throat . I’m underground. It occurs to me rapidly that if I had an emergency that would just be too bad—trapped underground bet ween stops, if I got sick or fainted or had any kind of accident at all I would be trapped here, away from help, in front of all these people. Embarrassing myself in front of them, burdening them, disrupting their day with whatever insignificant problem I could possibly have. I’m convinced my vision is tunneling and that I am going to be violently ill, black out , and have a seizure all at the same time; my limbs are weightless, my throat won’t open to air. How do I normally breathe? I have no control over what’s happening. At Government Center I rush off the car, shaking and hyper ventilating, tell my professor I’m ver y sick and have to go, and quickly walk in the direction I know leads to South Station. After a mere block, struggling to breathe, I realize I’m heading toward
another train: the commuter rail I’ve ridden home ever y day from my classes in the cit y, without a thought or concern. I stop dead in my tracks and begin to cr y, feeling sick and trapped in the cit y where public transportation has suddenly become more terrif ying than any real thing I’ve ever faced. Panicking, I call my mom and tell her what’s happening, walking again toward South Station, hoping my normal carelessness will resurface by the time I get there; she tries to calm me but I am a basket case, flooded by this new perspective, knowing certain doom in my ver y bones at the mere thought of getting on a train ever again. She says she will drive into the cit y to get me and tells me to wait at the station for her. Once I get there, I pace endlessly, running my fingertips over my arms and the goose bumps I’ve sprouted despite the summer heat , tugging on and mussing up my hair, ever-mobile, feeling no one in the cit y can help me, feeling certain I’m going to die. I acknowledge, nearly eight years later, that the walking would have cured me if I wasn’t suddenly so transfixed on how terrif ying and threatening the commuter rails I’d taken in and out of the cit y all summer truly were. The next t wo weeks I’m diagnosed with a panic disorder and given a new cocktail to add to my arsenal of antipsychotic pills: Abilif y, Effexor, and Klonopin. My last year of high school my teachers are told that if I get up and leave without a word, I’m panicking and shouldn’t be questioned. For years after my first panic attack, talking myself into being in moving vehicles I wasn’t driving was a day-long affair accompanied by a well-timed Xanax or Klonopin (or both). Forget about an airplane. I’d opt to leave twenty to forty minutes early to get somewhere in order to walk in favor of taking public transportation if I was feeling particularly jumpy, which I pretty much always am if I am out of control of something. During situations in my life when I am without a plan, depending on someone else for quite nearly anything, or in a brand new arena I’ve never entered before, the medication use is rampant; some days require three Xanax start to finish, while other months when I feel most in control I can get by on a small handful. Sometimes when I feel fine I pause whatever I’m doing to realize how fine I feel, how normal, and immediately I start to panic. Not because it’s too quiet inside me, but because I fear the fear more than anything, and just knowing it exists stirs it violently. But always there is something in my hand, twisting—a polished gemstone from a pouch I keep in my purse; a pen I grip and rub between my fingers; the sharp earrings I never take out; my hair being swept over my scalp, over my shoulder, in a ponytail and out and into a bun instead, over and over—to keep my prefrontal cortex activated. My sister’s therapist told me once that the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala can’t function at the same time, shutting down the anxiety in its tracks so you can start calming down. It’s physiological. I can’t ‘paranoia’ my way out of believing it . Touch opens my lungs and clears my airways, opens my vessels for blood to pulse through. Before knowing this, my life was forever halted by dependence on tiny, pale blue generics of class A prescription drugs. When panic makes me deaf, blind, all airways fully functional but ineffective regardless, my sense of touch has not betrayed me. In the back of my mind as it detonates itself, I know if I physically feel something, I will start to calm down. Like waking up. I trace the chill of ice water down my throat , following the line of living cold
down to my stomach and count the seconds as it dissipates, as my body warms it . I hold myself together as tightly as I can with the one thought I can cling to —Just a few more minutes, and it will all be over. A few more minutes, and I can leave. You’re in line several feet from me but you haven’t noticed me yet . It’s been t wo months since you stopped sleeping with me and started (then stopped) sleeping with her. I’m rocking sporadically, tr ying to convince my body that nothing is wrong. You finally glance over, meet my eye, and start walking over. Your expression is forced politeness, reading as indifference, but your eyes are hungr y. It feels like half of a flavor; my tongue dances behind my teeth as I tr y not to seem too eager, because some people are rewarded for being eager and I’m not one of them. You, a permanent bruise on my brain, a consistent murmur in my blood flow. You stop too close to me and ask how I’ve been; my teeth are chattering with ner ves as I rush to pull my hair up off my neck, overheating, failing at breathing, positive I’m going to be sick. You act like I’m a pariah; I act like your touch would shatter my wound-up body into the smallest shards of a person. The mind wreaks havoc on itself, able to convince and illicit a fullblown physical assault on its own vessel and somehow less able to talk itself back down; the chemicals surge and all the lights and sounds stampede, hard and fast , cascading cold dread and hot adrenaline. Psychologists say that the brain is hardwired to never really relax, as a means of survival—at a low-grade you’re always on the lookout for danger, never really secure in yourself or your surroundings, so fight or flight can be turned on as quickly as striking a match. “You’ve enjoyed meeting people safely a thousand times, without a thought ,” the brain says scathingly as I walk into an expo where I’m meant to represent my company and mingle with strangers and potential clients. “But this is probably the time where you’re going to have some sort of physical emergency and inconvenience everyone in the vicinity. See, you’re already starting to faint .” I remind myself that my bottle of Xanax is in the bottom of my purse and rub a stone in one hand, my sharp keys in the other to feel out what kind of touch will help pull me out of this one. I’m in the “trying to talk myself down” stage of anxiety, nearing but not over the threshold into a steep, downhill mudslide of pure, unadulterated hysteria. Typically, the one that hurts works best; running my hands along my extremities has never been as effective as cutting myself open. Unwanted Thought Syndrome is flaring up images of a collapsed lung (hence my sudden difficulty finding any air), knocking someone over when I drop unconscious suddenly (the tunneling vision isn’t helping), and violently seizing while onlookers stare, terrified (and now things are quieter than I know they should be, like it gets when I actually do have a seizure—so surely I’m about to really have one, though I haven’t in a decade). Turning heel back the way I came, I pop a Xanax in defeat and march around chanting mantras to myself while I wait for it to hit , all the while thinking if I ever really do faint or have another seizure I’ll probably avoid seeking help until it is too late because I’ve spent years trying to convince myself it was only a goddamn panic attack. I’m back in my car, turning the key too hard in my haste to put as much distance behind me as possible. A predator I used to know stands in front of my car, tr ying to convince me to stay and talk it out , so I reverse instead. Watching him in
the rear view once I can turn the car around, I tell myself I’m okay, I escaped, I’m driving my own car at my own pace and going wherever I want to go. He had tried to trap and assault me, in an empt y house, and I escaped. I run my palms over my knees and tr y to focus on the road—but I know my heart is beating too hard in my chest , harder than after running a mile, and I must be having a heart attack. The adrenaline of flight and fight arguing with each other has turned my limbs into molten lead as I am unable to unravel. When I start gasping for air I run myself off the road and throw the car into park. I’m by a river and eject myself from the car, down the bank to the riverbed. On all fours, hyper ventilating at full force, I search furiously for a sharp rock. I run it instinctively against my skin, hard, separating it roughly. It’s brief and brings immediate focus like an automatic camera shutter focusing. After a few minutes of steadying breaths and light , continuous raking with the rock, I stand and go back to my car, vibrant blood running down my arm. Does anybody feel this way? Does anybody feel like I do? With hardly a word, the emptiness inside swells and the pressure in my chest tells me it’s time to seek the refuge of sur vival in the arms of another cit y, potentially one that can quell the wild terror I’ve grown into.
e a s t c o a s t e v e n t s Summer 2015
the comic book collection Comic book and toy shows July 11–12, Orlando, FL; July 25–26, Jacksonville, FL
Known as the place where comic fans and collectors come together, the CBC shows feature door prizes and giveaways, $0.50 comic blow-out sales, a Wheel of Comics to spin, and thousands of toys, action figures, and collectibles. They’re also seeking collections large and small, and paying top dollar (if you feel you can part with yours). thecomicbookcollection.com
eyedrum’s writers exchange
July 16; Goat Farm Arts Center, Atlanta, GA
Eyedrum’s Writers Exchange allows writers to share work aloud for 10 minutes and get impressions, observations and analysis from other writers for five minutes. All genres and disciplines are welcome. Both inexperienced as well as practiced writers are encouraged to attend. It’s an opportunity to connect with other Atlanta writers and experiment with different voices and genres.
July 25; Ybor Daily Market, Tampa, FL
This celebration of zines, independent media, and DIY publishing invites zinesters and zine fans to share, trade, buy, and sell their creations and collections! Expect workshops on various aspects of the zinemaking process, work stations where you can start your own zine, and live music.
July 25; St. Stephens Church, Washington, D.C.
The DC Zinefest is an independent event organized to provide a space for zine makers, self-published artists and writers to share their work with each other and the Washington, D.C., community. Their hope is to support a community based in do-it-yourself practices and ethics through providing the opportunity to expo, workshop, and hang out with zines. dczinefest.com
garden state comic fest July 25–26; Morristown, NJ
With more than 25,000-square-feet and 200 tables and booths of favorite vendors, artists, and guests, the Garden State Comic Fest is one of the Tri-State area’s go-to events of the summer. Only go if you’re tantalized by comics, art, vintage toys, and pop culture items galore. gardenstatecomicfest.com
new england authors expo July 29; Danvers, MA
The largest grassroots literary event in New England, up to 200 authors and illustrators are anticipated to attend the 2015 New England Authors Expo in the Garden Terrace Ballroom of the Danversport Yacht Club. Almost like a mini-comicon, attendees can anticipate horror, sci-fi, fantasy, comic book, and graphic novel authors, as well as illustrators and artists. peartreepublishing.net
writers digest annual conference July 31–August 2; New York City, NY
Get everything you need to advance creatively and professionally as a writer—no matter what stage of your career. Brought to you by Writer’s Digest, the experts at nurturing and developing new writers for more than 90 years. Customize your experience by mixing-and-matching sessions among these core tracks: Craft, Getting Published, The Business of Being an Author, Platform & Promotion, and—new this year—Genre Studies. Featured speakers include Jacqueline Woodson, Jonathan Maberry, MJ Rose, Regina Brooks, and more. writersdigestconference.com
boston comic con
July 31–August 2; Boston, MA
If a VIP Stan Lee experience limited to 400 attendees gets you going, Boston Comic Con has a lot in store for you this year. In addition to the celebrity guests from fan favorites like the X-Files, Arrow, Doctor Who and more, this con features a cosplay parade through the streets of Boston, a Drink & Draw with comic book artists, a comic art auction, and a cosplay harbor dinner cruise. bostoncomiccon.com
City-Wide Friends of the Boston Public Library book sale August 1; Boston, MA
Book sales are on the first Saturday of each even-numbered month from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at the Central Library in Copley Square. Book sales are in the Cushman Room, located on the third floor of the McKim building just off the Sargent Gallery. bpl.org
baltimore summer antiques show August 20–23; Baltimore, MD
Growing from a small regional event to the largest indoor antiques show in the country, this show features hundreds of international exhibitors. The show has evolved in diversity of collections including furniture, American and European silver, major works of art, Asian antiquities, porcelain, Americana, antique and estate jewelry, glass, textiles and more. baltimoresummershow.com
Decatur book festival September 4–6; Decatur, GA
The AJC Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the country and one of the
five largest overall. Since its launch, more than 1,000 world-class authors and hundreds of thousands of festival-goers have crowded the historic downtown Decatur square to enjoy book signings, author readings, panel discussions, an interactive children’s area, live music, parades, cooking demonstrations, poetry slams, writing workshops, and more. decaturbookfestival.com
September 4–7; Atlanta, GA
Dragoncon is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in... well, the universe. The featured guests this year are too good to even try to list (truly too good to be true), and the art show and Comic & Pop Artist Alley are enough of a selling point. Get to Atlanta for Labor Day weekend. dragoncon.org
library of congress national book festival September 5; Washington, D.C.
The 15th Library of Congress National Book Festival will take place at the Washington Convention Center. To mark this anniversary, as well as the the 200th anniversary of the Library’s acquisition of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, the theme is Jefferson’s quote, “I Cannot Live Without Books.” loc.gov/bookfest
September 10–20; Brooklyn, NY
PHOTOVILLE will be returning to its premiere location along the New York waterfront; head to the Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5 Uplands to walk amongst 60-plus shipping containers filled with photography from artists and curatorial partners from across the world. One of the largest photographic events in New York City, Photoville offers a heady mix of curated exhibitions running the gamut from seasoned photojournalists and high-profile print publications, to graduate student showcases and fine art practitioners. photoville.com
The Annual Rochester Antiquarian Book Fair September 12; Rochester, NY
The Annual Rochester Antiquarian Book Fair is a great way to spend an afternoon with fellow bibliophiles from Rochester and the surrounding area. It is a wonderful opportunity to hold a piece of history in your hands and talk with the booksellers who have carefully researched and curated their collections. Books, paper, art, and maps galore. rochesterbooksellers.com
the 5arts fest
September 12; Atlanta, GA
This interactive festival is designed to celebrate the arts, and the people who contribute to the Arts community. The vision of The 5Arts FEST is an awakening of the 5 senses, allowing the patrons to be the participants. Everyone and anyone can be a part of any event, contest, or workshop. 5artsfest.com
brooklyn book festival
September 14–21; Brooklyn, NY
The Brooklyn Book Festival (September 20) is the largest free literary event in New York City, presenting an array of national and international literary stars and emerging authors. One of America’s premier book festivals, this hip, smart diverse gathering attracts thousands of book lovers of all ages to enjoy authors and the festival’s lively literary marketplace. “Bookend” the festival by attending some of the more than 50 unique literary events—literary parties, books-to-movies screenings,trivia, performances, and more— taking place in clubs, bookstores, parks, libraries, and other surprising venues throughout New York City. brooklynbookfestival.org
2016 ALSC National Institute September 15–17; Charlotte, NC
Held every two years, the conference is unique in its focus on children’s librarianship, literature, and technology. You’ll find everything you need in one place—programming, keynotes, networking, and much more. This intensive learning opportunity with a youth-services focus is designed for front-line youth library staff, children’s literature experts, education and library school faculty members, and other interested adults. ala.org/alsc/institute
September 18; Worldwide
Filmmaker Tiffany Schlain invites you to Character Day: A global event with films, resources, conversation, and community engagement that empowers us to shape who we are and develop skills to flourish in the 21st century. Participation and all films and materials are supported by foundations at no cost to you. This year premieres two new films, “The Adaptable Mind” and “The Making of a Mensch,” along with new discussion materials, a more in-depth research hub, and a robust global conversation around “character” from different perspectives—science, education, philosophy, and more. Everyone is invited, whether you’re part of a school, university, nonprofit, family, company, corporation, or any other group. letitripple.org/character_day
ny art book fair
September 18–20; MoMA PS1, Queens, NY
Free and open to the public, the NY Art Book Fair is the world’s premier event for artists’ books, catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines. The fair features more than 350 booksellers, antiquarians, artists, institutions, and independent publishers from twenty-eight countries. Last year’s fair was attended by more than 35,000 people. This year’s NY Art Book Fair will include an ever-growing variety of exhibitors—from the zinesters in (XE)ROX & PAPER + SCISSORS and the Small Press Dome representing publishing at its most innovative and affordable. nyartbookfair.com Have an event for us to feature? Send it to email@example.com or submit it to ecimagazine.tumblr.com/submit.
[ book reviews ] good mourning GOOD MOURNING by Elizabeth Meyer with Caitlin Moscatello 288pp. Gallery Press. $18.99 Review by LAURA APPERSON
In New York City, beautiful brownstones and carefully constructed buildings frame streets lined with trees and filled with pedestrians. Inside the front door of one particular business uptown, a fully furnished foyer awaits its clients, displaying high-end furniture and decor. But what makes this building different from all the others is that it’s a special kind of business—it’s the go-to funeral home for many New Yorkers with money. Recently out of college and still unsure what she wants to do with her life, Liz Meyer finds herself attracted to a job that most would turn up their noses to: planning funerals for rich New Yorkers in Manhattan at this very funeral home. But what attracts her to this unpleasant task is the hope that the funeral of a loved one can be a beautiful celebration of their life, becoming the perfect goodbye to someone beloved. Meyer grew up in New York high society, spending weekends in the Hamptons and hopping on jet planes to Europe to attend large, expensive parties. But this gives her a unique advantage—dealing with these clients on a daily basis is already something she does every day (most of them have known her all her life)—and she quickly becomes a favorite amongst the funeral clients. Typically, a memoir from someone who worked in a funeral home would be the last book I would pick up, but its clever title and engaging description made me think otherwise. Good Mourning is a fast-paced, engrossing story about a New York native trying to make a life for herself beyond the high society she was born into by helping others in a time of great pain. With characters who jumped off the page—Monica, the rude administrative assistant who constantly made Meyer’s life hell; Bill, the quirky, positive embalmer who befriended Meyer
almost immediately; and Tony, What attracts her to this the manager who hired Meyer unpleasant task is the hope and encouraged her—and deeply personal, touching moments, Meyer that the funeral of a loved shows how truly rewarding the funeral business was for her, and one can be a beautiful gives a truly behind-the-scenes look into an operation that we celebration of their life, rarely think about except for when becoming the perfect we must . Meyer’s voice is honest— goodbye to someone beloved. sometimes too honest , as she can spend too much time divulging her childhood vacation spots (often lavish locations that only rich New Yorkers are known to frequent) rather than staying focused on her life as a funeral planner. But she makes her point—as someone of a certain status, her family never expected her to go into the funeral business; getting married to a major hedge fund manager would have made more sense. But her ultimate message of finding what you love to do at whatever cost is more than clear, and I think, despite rare cringe-worthy comments of privilege, the book has an audience much wider than the crowd in the penthouses on the Upper East Side.
wild swans: three daughters of china and the most dangerous book WILD SWANS: THREE DAUGHTERS OF CHINA by Jung Chang 538pp. Simon & Schuster. $18.00. and THE MOST DANGEROUS BOOK by Kevin Birmingham 432pp. Penguin. $18.00. Review by ERIN RUBIN I read two books recently, and on the surface, they have nothing in common. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (Simon & Schuster, 1991) could be referred to as a “popular classic;” it has sold 13 million copies in 37 languages throughout its 23 years in print . Author Jung Chang tells how she, her mother, and her grandmother lived through the turbulence of 20th-century China, with a straightforward yet mildly baffled voice that many readers will find engaging. The Most Dangerous Book (Penguin,
2013), by Kevin Birmingham, details the struggle to get James Joyce’s novel Ulysses into print in 1922. The books are similar in their undemanding allure: A reader doesn’t need to be familiar with Chinese history to follow the plot of Wild Swans, nor to have read Ulysses or even anything by James Joyce to appreciate The Most Dangerous Book. But while Wild Swans has the sympathy of three courageous women to widen its appeal, a book about another, more obtuse book sounds more like a niche-market work. Despite their differences, I found that these books fundamentally do the same thing: They take a large part of history and describe it through a pinpoint of experience. By helping readers to experience the past in the same way they experience their present , through a single, sympathetic perspective, the books can claim authenticity in a way that history texts cannot . Wild Swans tells the story of Jung Chang’s family, but it is about the turmoil and the terror of living under the 20th-century Chinese regimes, specifically the Communists. Similarly, The Most Dangerous Book follows Ulysses through conception, writing, serialization, persecution, and eventual success, but it reveals to readers how a country that prides itself on freedom, and particularly on freedom of speech, could justify decades of censorship. Both of these books make the point that history is made up of stories, experienced individually but visible as a coherent whole like the dots in a Seurat painting. Though Wild Swans is a powerful story for many reasons, I found The Most Dangerous Book to be more compelling both on its own terms and as a style of narrative. Jung Chang’s voice, while giving enough background to help readers follow her tale in context , is too self-conscious. Part of what makes her story interesting is her family ’s elite rank and the intense experience that accompanied it; Chang’s parents, particularly her father, enjoyed an extremely high position in Mao Zedong’s regime. This perspective is rare; millions of people lived in Mao’s China, and the vast majority of them were poor peasants who had no connection to political sources. Jung Chang’s life would be as unfamiliar to them as it is to a modern American reader. This position of power and privilege makes for a tragic struggle of ideals against reality, but the
This perspective is rare: millions of people lived Mao’s China, and the vast majority of them were poor peasants who had no connection to political sources.
author focuses too much how others deferred to her parents’ positions and their compassionate leadership. If a reader believes Chang, every honest person in the story loves her family, and they were persecuted by wicked, jealous people blinded by ambition. (This isn’t necessarily untrue, but firmly splitting the characters like this makes them harder to relate to.) The Most Dangerous Book is a revealing story about the turn of an era in the United States. When James Joyce wrote Dubliners in 1905, it took nine years and fifteen publishers to find someone who would print it , though its worst offense was words like ‘bloody.’ By the time Ulysses came around in 1914, with explicit passages about orgasms, adultery, and whorehouses, the United States Post Office and US Customs were opening and reading the mail, searching for any “obscene, filthy, lewd, or disgusting” material. Authors, publishers, printers, booksellers, or readers could be fined and imprisoned for producing or owning such material, and Ulysses definitely qualified. But proponents of free expression defied the law and printed it anyway, and art-loving lawyers defended their right to do so in court . The publication of Ulysses not only struck a fatal blow to Victorian standards—it claimed the right to strike that blow in the name of art . Kevin Birmingham does a wonderful job of emphasizing this overarching theme without losing the story in it . All the important incidents are narrated in a consistently thorough way that keeps the story moving. His characters are developed enough that , though they fade in and out of the story, their distinct roles are still memorable at the end. Even better, they are all nuanced; Birmingham obscures neither Joyce’s failings as a person and a writer, nor the sympathetic side of book pirates and other antagonists. Like Joyce, Birmingham is able to blend pathos and humor with a healthy dose of outrage; he describes a Victorian moralist reading aloud the account of Molly Bloom’s adulterous encounters to a full courtroom (“he couldnt possibly do without it that long so he must do it somewhere and the last time he came on my bottom”)…for more than forty hours. To be fair, it is much easier to avoid sounding self-conscious discussing a book than when recounting one’s own family history. Claiming the importance of a book—the importance of someone else’s book, no less—is less likely to be obnoxious than claiming the importance of one’s family. It may be unfair to hold Jung Chang accountable for this when The Most Dangerous Book contains whole paragraphs about how Ulysses changed modern society. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Chang’s voice interferes with her narrative arc, whereas Birmingham’s allies the reader more fiercely to the book’s cause.
Similarly, The Most Dangerous Book follows Ulysses through conception, writing, serialization, persecution, and eventual success, but it reveals to readers how a country that prides itself on freedom, and particularly on freedom of speech, could justify decades of censorship.
63 “ t h e r e w e r e t w o o t h e r s i n t h e t e m p l e , ” j a c k s a v a g e
[ contributors ] touch, summer 2015
Laura Apperson is a writer, editor, and musician from Atlanta, GA. Currently, she works as an editorial assistant at St. Martin’s Press, specializing in narrative nonfiction, memoir, and literary fiction. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. For more book reviews and other clippings, visit her website at lauracatherineapperson.com.
Samuel Augustine, a contemporary American artist, works across many disciplines including illustration, sculpture, audio/video, painting, and poetry. A graduate of Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Samuel has shown work in various group shows and solo installations while juggling nomadic tendencies and working various jobs. Samuel likes to live out of his van, skateboard, sleep outside, and disappear with his lovely fiancé for extended adventuring. Samuel’s art is a product of life, believing decisions and circumstance are great mediums of creation. strangepagan.com
Douglas Breault is a fine artist who lives and works in his studio in downtown Providence, RI. His work challenges the notion of permanence in photography, creating dark room prints as the base for mixed media paintings. The photographs deviate from documenting a representational subject once they are ripped and painted, and become an object of embodied thought that influence the overall painting. firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate Ciavarra is a 23-year-old graduate who loves being artsy. This includes singing, writing, painting, drawing,
eating and all that fun jazz. Having recently conquered crow pose at the Easton Yoga Center, Kate considers herself quite the yoga enthusiast. That being said, she is also a goober; an amalgamation of Rapunzel, Anna, Elsa, Belle, and Vanellope. She is currently a bookseller at Barnes & Noble in Bellingham, MA, where she has worked for seven years. She lives in Yarmouth, MA with her parents, pets, and a billion books. evereverafterly.tumblr.com
Darren C. Demaree is the author of As We Refer to Our Bodies (8th House, 2013), Temporary Champions (Main Street Rag, 2014), The Pony Governor (2015, After the Pause Press) and Not For Art Nor Prayer (8th House, 2015). He is the managing editor of the Best of the Net Anthology. He is currently living in Columbus, OH with his wife and children. darrencdemaree.com
Anton Dudley is a New York City-based playwright and lyricist. His plays include Honor & the River, Slag Heap, City Of, Substitution, Getting Home, and Letters to the End of the World, which was a finalist for the 2012 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Drama — th ey have been produced Off-Broadway and around the country. His work is published by Sam French, Playscripts Inc, Heuer, Heinemann, Backstage Books, and Vintage. His musical Girlstar (music by Brian Feinstein) will premier this fall at the Signature Theater, directed by Eric Shaeffer. “Touch” is his first work of short fiction. antondudley.net
ROBIN WYATT DUNN
Robin Wyatt Dunn writes and teaches in Los Angeles. robindunn.com
David Dyte is a full-time statistician and part-time photographer living in Brooklyn while striving hard to maintain his Australian identity. He aims to share his love of places by capturing unusual sights and angles that others may have missed. After running a successful Kickstarter campaign, he released his first book of photographs, As Seen in Brooklyn, in 2014. seeninbklyn.com
OLEANDER SHAMAR FURMAN
Oleander Furman is a recent college graduate from New York City. Her interests include writing music and poetry, as well as well-crafted sarcasm. She is most likely to be found belting along to any song on the radio — yes, this includes country. You can follow her thoughts and music recommendations here: @politepoison
Holden Holcombe is an artist, writer, and musician whose artwork has been shown at the Huret and Spector Gallery, the Mission Hill Gallery, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. His art is derived from various types of digital media, including video, sound, animation, graphic arts, and programming. He also explores poetry, musical composition, painting, and performance. Holcombe received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emerson College in 2012 and a Master of Fine Arts from Tufts University in association with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2015. He currently resides in Sleepy Hollow, NY.
Steve Klepetar taught literature and creative writing at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota for 31 years. His work has appeared in nine countries, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Deep Water,
Antiphon, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Recent collections include Speaking to the Field Mice (Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013), My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press, 2013) and Return of the Bride of Frankenstein (Kind of a Hurricane Press). email@example.com
Lara Lewis is a writer, but doesn’t let that stop her. Her workplace of choice is Savannah, GA, the city that thinks it’s a town. She spends her days writing, drawing, and warily regarding the unknown. It regards her warily in turn. Her goal is to one day conquer it, so it had better not try anything funny. She sincerely hopes you gained something from her story, and never get glass caught in your fingers. She can be found at linkedin.com/in/larascad, or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matthew Forrest Lowe (Ph.D., McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario) is a freelance writer, editor, and professor. His nonfiction work includes several articles and book chapters; his short fiction has previously appeared in Setting the Scene (Polar Expressions, 2012), and he is working on a science fiction novel. He blogs — less often than he should — at lonelyvocations.blogspot. com.
Anna Mahrer is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She recently completed her third year studying Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. Her work has also appeared in Transfer Magazine. She writes short stories, micro fiction, and terrible bios because she feels weird writing in the third person. She is excited to be a part of this issue of East Coast Ink. email@example.com
Juliette Mann is native of Washington State and an English major at Wellesley College. When she’s not captaining the sailing team or singing in the college choir, she enjoys reading Richard Brautigan and eating peanut butter cup ice cream. firstname.lastname@example.org Bob McCarthy is a writer, runner, dog lover and music fan. He used to be able to eat four donuts in one sitting and still has an aching weakness for baked goods. He welcomes your suggestions for summer songs @bobmccarthy64.
SUSAN PROVOST-DUBOIS ELLE JAY ROE
Elle Jay Roe was born in 1995 and has been wondering where he left his umbrella since 2012. In his free time he complains about Chopin. Elle currently attends McGill University and pursues an exasperating dual major between classical piano performance and English literature. This is his first published piece. Elle runs a blog at ellejayroe.co where he posts short stories about love and hopes you will come visit him.
Sherry got her first camera at the age of 19 and told her mom she wanted to work for National Geographic. Life happened and she became a paralegal instead. A couple of months after 9/11, Sherry went to New York. Wanting to take good pictures, she purchased her first (film) Nikon. In 2012, Sherry decided to dip her toes in the world of digital photography and started volunteering as a photographer for local shelters and rescue groups. She has since broadened her repertoire to include nature and lifestyle portraits. Her favorite subject is that “special moment,” whatever it may be. sherryrosenphotography.com
W. Jack Savage is a retired broadcaster and educator. He is the author of seven books including Imagination: The Art of W. Jack Savage (wjacksavage.com). Jack and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, CA. “Maybe I’ve become good at speaking and writing because I was always highly neurotic about telling stories. I came from a family of critics and when a story, told aloud, was particularly awful or full of minutia, it was a Jill Story. I think (I hope) we’ve since evolved into mostly-unofficial editors of each other’s raw material. Whether that’s true or not, my upbringing (like many others’) has led to a hyper-awareness of symbols around me and a debatably-healthy dose of self-doubt to keep me going. Much of (any of ) my awareness for language was born out of humiliation. Micro fiction can do good things for that feeling (and for minutia). Tweet me some of your best minutia @joppply.”
Erin Sheehan is a girl who wants a lot in life. She wants to see lots of fireworks, eat a lot of spicy chicken and blue cheese, and fallen in love with the Earth like it fell in love with her. A student entering her senior year at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, she aspires to go on and receive her Masters in social work. She believes children are the key to creating a flourishing society. She finds inspiration in her beloved mother and brother and the trials and tribulations through which they have been.
Jack Simonetta is a visual artist who creates in many mediums. Painting, drawing, making collages, and
sculpting in stone are just some of the ways he uses to express his thoughts and ideas about color, shape, and texture. He is also part owner of pb&j gallery in Atlanta, GA and is a graphic designer. pbj-gallery.com
Rebekah Small is studying Media & Information as well as English at Michigan State University. There she is Vice President of the Slam Poetry Team and has had a short story featured on the Story Telling Hour of WDBM 89fm. You can find more of her writing at rebekahsmall.wordpress.com.
Ann Welch is an East Coast native who lived in New York for 30 years. She is a lover of words and has written extensively in her field of work, which, sadly, is not related to literature and poetry. She lives on the West Coast, where — among other things — she teaches, reads, sings and writes. Her poem “Bridge Sonnet” appeared in East Coast Ink’s 2014 Bridges issue. She can be contacted at anniewriterw@gmail. com.
Ryan Sobeck is completing his MFA at Adelphi University where he is working, teaching, and writing. He is currently interested in writing that explores the Internet and its impact on our physical relationships, as well as questions concerning memory and identity. His pet side-project is a freelance editing and self-publishing assistance service called Capital Footnotes. Ryan currently lives in the greater metropolitan area. To get in contact with him, please visit capitalfootnotes.wordpress.com.
MK Stinson is a twenty-something woman living (for now) in Kitchener, Ontario. Her academic pursuits are dangerously changeable, but this week she is considering graduate school in journalism. This will change. She has self-published a zine of prose and short stories titled unlearnings, and is currently working on two additional (but separate) compilations of work. Much of her writing and art can best be experienced by listening to her bands, LNDMMML, Two Crosses, and Hissy Fit. She is preoccupied with coffee, monoliths, endurance sports, and swimming in rivers. She is newly located at isovists.wordpress.com.
Many thanks to all our talented contibutors, who continue to make this literary magazine so gorgeous and complete. If you’d like to contribute to East Coast Ink’s next issue, visit ecimagazine. tumblr.com/contribute.
ea st coast ink | issue 007 | t o uch
Touch is a basic biological need. The sun touches your skin and leaves you a toasted memory, your dog’s fur tickles you each time he fidgets...