east coast ink issue 013 | restraint
C O N T E N T S EAST COAST INK | Issue 013 | RESTRAINT
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 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . G i v i n g R o s e s a n d B r e a d . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................. .................. .................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................. .................. .................. ..................
Entropy Travels With My Mother Strings Trump as a Fire Without Light #445 Trump as a Fire Without Light #446 Trump as a Fire Without Light #447 Longtemps, Doucement Occupant Apartment 2 D Cell 1 IN VIVO I t â&#x20AC;&#x2122; s N o t S t o p p i n g T h i s We e k Summer on Hold
F I C T I O N 2 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B e t w e e n L y o n a n d L o n d o n . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . P i c t u r e s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . T i c k l e s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . E n t r o p y
M I C R O F I C T I O N 3 9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . G i n . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A n c h o r s
N O N F I C T I O N 4 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A S h o r t I n v e n t o r y o f S t r u g g l i n g t o B e S o m e o n e ’ s I d e a o f A c c e p t a b l e
A r t i s t S p o t l i g h t : N A T H A N W A H L 5 1
e a s t c o a s t E V E N T S , s u m m e r 2 0 1 7 6 3
c o n t r i b u t o r s 6 9
ISSUE 013 EAST COAST INK Summer 2017
eci staff owner, editor-in-chief Jacqueline Frasca associate editor Austen Wright
East Coast Ink Issue 013, Summer 2017: Restraint . Copyright © 2017 East Coast Ink ISBN 978-1-387-10191-7
Cover image by Brandon Danowski. Images inside front cover, inside back cover, and on pages 9–10, 38, 40, 48, 50, and 67–68 by Jacqueline Frasca. East Coast Ink magazine is produced four times per year and is an individually owned and operated publica tion. 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 A l o t o f d e s t ru ctio n h a s s tood in t he way of t his issue c om ing to fruition. Fo r o n e t h i n g , me re min u te s f ro m f inalizing t he last proof, I nDesign c rashed and my co m p u te r s top p e d re cogn izin g my external hard drive. Merc ifully (m ore t ha n I de s e r ve ) , a u to s ave ca me to th e resc ue and I just kept on working after a go o d re bo o t . Te c hn ology wins a ga in (but t hat’s honestly what I get for working o n my b e d wh e re my d o g r u ns a rou n d , bec ause my desk is c overed in garbage I ke e p n e gl e c t i n g to g ive a h ome ). Yo u r work is safe with m e, I assure you. S o m e of o u r con s is te n t co nt ributors reac hed out when they saw t he ca l l fo r t h i s i s s u e to le t me kn ow th ey ’d m issed t he public ation during our two-is s ue hia t u s . L a s t fa ll, wh a t s e mb la n ce of a reliable life I had c om pletely shat tere d into a m i l l i o n p i ece s , th a n ks la rge ly to m e. Whether I m ean that from t he guise o f b e l i ev i n g I ’ m ins u f fe ra b le , s e lf is h, broken, or downright unlovable is neit he r he re n o r t h e re ( h int: it’ s a ll o f th e a b ove). As t he date to release t he c all for su b mis s io ns fo r t h e w i n ter is s u e got clo s e r, I told myself working on this m agazine, sta rting o u r fo u r t h ye a r s tro ng, wo u ld b e best for m e. At t he t im e, survival m eant s tay ing as bu sy a s p o s s ib le to d is tra ct f rom being alone for t he first t im e in alm ost a de c a d e . Ye t th e d a te ca me a n d went , and virtual c obwebs grew all over ou r humb l e o rga n i z a t i o n. I s ta g n a te d . Fo r th is period, I was a person who knew no res tra int . A nd n o s l e e p, a nd I wis h like h e l l that was hyperbole. T h e s pr in g is s u e s aw mo re of t he sam e, with the addit ion of a fourp re s c ri p t i o n a ntid e p re s s a n t co cktail I c ould hardly m anage. Restraining, re s t ra i n i n g , re s tra in in g. Tryin g to reel bac k t he m adness seeping out of me f ro m t h e p ri o r mon th s b e ca u s e it wa s far beyond my c ont rol and it was either c l ing t i gh t ly to s a n ity or ju s t f in a lly, merc ifully, let go. B u t s ome h ow East Coast In k is bac k, and I ’m off all t he m edic ations whe the r I n e e d t h e m or not , a n d re s tra int is a gam e I ’m addic ted to. Fo r eve ry o ne of o u r co ntr ibutors and readers who waited pat ient ly fo r o ur re t u r n , my gra titu d e is ove r wh e lm ing. We began this projec t bac k in 2013 b e ca us e we j u s t f ra n kly we re n’ t goin g to survive without artist s surrounding us, a nd I’m b eyo n d gl a d to h ave a ll of yo u b ac k in my life. I n this issue, we explore res tra int in al l fo r m s : i n love , in ma d ne s s , in m issed opportunit ies, and in m erc y. Beyo nd how am a z i n gly v is u a l th is is s u e tu r n ed out to be, I ’m ec stat ic to bring you an exte nd e d Fi c t i o n s e c t ion , p a g e s f u ll o f b ra nd new nam es to the E CI legac y, and an Artis t S po t l i gh t w ith B ro o klyn wr ite r a nd photographer Nat han Wahl, who’s here to s how us s o me be au tif u l wome n ju s t b eing t hem selves and prom ote his new photo b o o k, In s ta n t s . We ’ re a little b e h in d s ch e dule, but I ’m still unsure how we even m ade it o ut o f t h a t fa l l . Ha p py to s till b e h e re, sharing beautiful art wit h you. Warning: T his i s s u e i s s ex y. En joy.
a n d r e w c o n l e y
[ poetry ] giving roses and bread Allison Grayhurst
I turned. I will not turn again from her sad space and ruin. No wand, no crocodile tongue will shut me out .
The hour is blood, is boiling, is locked in her iron skull. Her back is straight for the first time in months, and her fingers tap the table one by one.
I saw her climb the ladder & crash. I saw the marrow leak from her bones. I turned. I will not turn again. My smile will be her shelter,
and with my chains and circle, I will build for her a garden where the crows will dance to drown her madness, helpless then gone.
Danielle Dull I’ve kept the bodies of all the dreams I’ve drowned Wrapped in paper beneath my bed. Once they were lovingly cultivated Along with childhood treasures among Citrus groves and bare feet curled around branches. But once the slow change began, I started to see myself With eyes that were not my own, Spoke to myself in a stranger’s voice. My face a blur in every mirror Distorted and vile. Oh, how I had grown But in all the wrong places it seemed. Dislocating joints to fit where I don’t belong The stranger’s voice murmuring incessantly …Worthless…
I have been building this prison for years Forging the bars in the heat of unnatural anger Cooled by disconnection. I thought if I cut deep enough Burned Purged and starved Restricted I could control the insidious stranger (These were things we didn’t speak of then. Only Hushed conversations and a certain degree of shame.) The wind discordant , My shadow lengthening behind me, Flooded with the vicious obsession Of broken bottles and blackouts The crushing defeat of foul hangovers Coating my throat with my own sour lies and Suffocating the power of language and prose Until I finally tore myself apart And clawed my way from the Pitiful grave I’d poured myself into.
It is a thin, quivering veil That divides these parts I stitched together During the in between times That fight and gnaw the bones of each other. Even now, I clench my teeth against my stranger’s tongue That this desire is too futile But I have wasted too many years
Allowing it to Mutate and Spread its diseased fingers through my gifts. I have strengthened this prison into a fortress Against the war of my own mind I am no longer a participant Of that long, slow suicide. Wringing the damp from tattered pages, These drowned dreams still may rise.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;3 stacks,â&#x20AC;? Timothy Cunningham
travels with my mother Alan Walowit z
The doctor squeezes hard to see what hurts, and my mother says nothing. She thinks it’s the ice water in her veins, not that her best parts are titanium and plastic. No wonder Security thinks she’s a hoot at the hospital gate wielding those knees, those hips, and her cane like a pistol, daring them one false move. They laugh when they put her through the scanner and pretend to pat her down. Surely, she allows because otherwise they might come after me, for chronic disobedience, threats of matricide, for crimes against mothers even more despicable to name. And I would squeal like an infant if men with badges looked at me wrong. Impassive is her brand, her stock in trade, and not a trait she’s passed on. I often rail about all that’s unfair that’s unfurled in our lives, and what’s likely to come in the little life left— and why not wait for the great hereafter? My mother knows there is no God: the hurts she’s known have never been healed— a thankless child, the Earth nearly emptied of all she knew and still without form, and then having to live in it so goddamn long.
Giuliette Schoenfeld dangle me in front of the tulips, I’ll put on your show tug a grin from wooden lips, a photograph, a joke. I’ll be your marionette. I’ll parrot your fantasy. play me like a fiddle, pluck my strings to your tune. listen to our dissonance unravel
me re-ravel me change my shape. stab me with a needle and yank out what you like, then loop again, the knitted noose, thread every shred of doubt . knit a scarf to keep yourself warm. and when you feel empty untie the knots try again.
trump as a fire without light #445 Darren Demaree
I was a growl among the stones. I am a growl among the stones. I will always be a growl among the stones. I believe in the stones. I know the stones can come alive. I know the stones can sing. I was a stone for a long time. I was never lonely. I am alone most of the time now. I am company for my own growling.
trump as a fire without light #446 Darren Demaree
Shared wounding, we are the next-day soldiers, because we were not soldiers when we were supposed to be. If you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t show up with your vote, then you must pack a bag for the next four years. The field will be waiting for you.
trump as a fire without light #447 Darren Demaree
This is my skin. I am an animal. I would never ask another heart to beat less so that mine could beat more.
“a watcher,” jack savage
“Wild Thing,” Timothy Cunningham
longtemps, doucement Robin Dunn longtemps doucement he who writes the names of children down in the book he who digs out the fairies from the ground setting the crown on the goblinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s head
he whose black sky extends over the earth in dreams murmuring pledge to him here that the sky is angels and that you can fly and that children speak a secret language which you remember when you sleep
drink the green juice of the earth each chapter agony drama and pain in the arrival of the party to the gatekeeper and their riddle speak soft the name of the demon who lives in our book whose mane is nine years and whose voice his voice is magic
occupant apartment 2 d Joan McNerney
His days marched in place days like tin soldiers each one pushing the next aside.
Hurry, hurry before it is too late... inside a gaping hole to be filled. More and more of the surface of his life was covered by dust .
The hallway gave off a musty odor. Night after night , lights burned. Busted dreams heaped in boxes. Black marks covered floors. Less and less energy to clean up. His body betrayed him, both his bones, his breath betrayed him.
One edge of his room spoke to the other. His fan purred all summer, basement furnace heaved all winter. This incessant sigh gathering dust .
Daniel Thompson From lips to liver, let it seep in, seep in, seep in to cell deleterious cycles of the body as a pastime chemicals are bad roommates sharing disease and pleasantries drinks dissolve invisible boundaries active communication diffuse across acres of empty synapse
I circumvent the cell wall with the luxury of not knowing, at all, binary billions of calculations per second and still they canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t find me;
My constituents in other dimensions I wish I was one of them, a particle in one place at a time catalyst compelling you to feel anything but real
A thought you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know where it came from; trust yourself, not me going along for the ride is easier than deductive reasoning wheels spinning out in the dirt . Instructions sent to specialized cell that makes food so there is no need to order out .
My behavior is think is the opposite of act two roads diverge in a path particle and a wave
My behavior is think before I act two roads diverge in a path, a particle and a wave.
it’s not stopping this week Cole Bauer
Haven’t met or seen a mind-reader Or fortune teller or a psychic That has been right But I haven’t met or seen many
That’s what the horoscope is for Never has something nailed my day-to-day Schedule and routine Life
My depression, anxiety, nerves Are all shot , rotted, fried, and about out for the final count And the future lets me know It’s not stopping this week
summer on hold Jacqueline Frasca
Within me and without me and second’s not the same— the persimmons aren’t ripe tucked away in their papers, still featherlight but they will drop soon and weigh heavy on the sill, dark and sweet and weighing in my chest , beating hard behind my ribs. My skin is soaked in ink and your hands turn its pages, tracing mark after mark in the swell of two tides rolling. Where your fingertips trace, red alights in the surface— when you drag your teeth through me the hush is a pleading to gnash the organs beneath you and let the red stain your mind. Cutting my tongue on the skin of fresh figs, dripping red across the sun in your shoulders.
“moments you won’t be getting back ii,” jack savage
“ t h e s n a k e c h a r m e r , ” j e n n i f e r a l l e n
[ fiction ] between lyon and london Dan Topiol
Sebastian is trying hard to give off the impression that he’s rushing as a choice, but not one person that he passes by on the platform looks up to see how professional he looks. He skips a little as he runs. His well-tailored navy blue suit keeps his stride tight , and his arm that holds a leather black briefcase doesn’t swing back and forth at all. It’s almost worse because no one is looking, and no one else is in hurry, and the setting sun still has an influence on him, and the train is still parked, so he slows down to a walk. He can now try to avoid spending any more of the train ride in a drying suit . He can also get a better look at everyone around him. He looks at some of them, and thinks to himself, “How could Marcel do this to me? Look at these people. Why is first class always in the back? Can’t the train park head in? Look at this. Marcel knows the last train out is at t went y-ten. He knows this better than the metro schedule. He’s lived in Lyon all his life. And I came as a favor. He could have said something. Instead he makes a second toast . There was no chance of me staying the night . He knew it . He could have offered at least .” Sebastian struggles to get through a big crowd in front of cabin twentyfive. Then he looks up and sees the doorway for cabin thirty-one. It’s empty on the platform in front of it , except for an old couple having a hard time getting in. The woman is already inside when he gets to the open doorway, so he only needs to help the old man in. Up in the little corridor they both thank him. Then they slowly turn and go left into cabin thirty. Sebastian can hear a loud, good-sized crowd in there. He turns right into cabin thirty-one and is happy to find it empty. He walks down the aisle to his seat . He puts his briefcase up top then takes a deep breath and sits down on the thick red cushion. He’s right next to the passage aisle, he could lift up the armrest and move over to sit next to the window, but he’s too comfortable to do that . “It will be night soon. There’s no countr yside to see at night .” Sebastian thinks to himself, as he lays his head back on the headrest and closes his eyes. “Hopefully the stop in Paris isn’t bad. Why is ever ywhere else given just enough time to load or unpack? But Paris, Paris must have half an hour and no less. May God find hopelessness before a Parisian is forced to sip a double espresso that hasn’t cooled enough. Why is there no other way to London? Marcel must wonder the same. He knows the stop in Paris is a pain. He also knew the train’s departure time tonight . And all he said was, merci mon ami! Thank you my friend! With that stupid guilt y
grin on his face.” Sebastian is still alone in the cabin when the wheels start preparing to turn. He’s half asleep already. That’s when she walks in. He doesn’t see it happen. He only hears hurried footsteps. She comes in from the door that’s behind him. He only sees her back as she passes by. She stops one compartment past his and keeps her head down while turning around. She finds her seat number on the ticket and looks up at the markings. Then she turns to him and smiles. He just looks back. She finishes smiling then sits. “If she gets off in Paris,” he thinks to himself, as the wheels make their first turn, “I have at least t wo hours.” She is also in a seat right next to the aisle, and she’s facing him from only one compartment down. They may as well be in the same compartment and sitting across from each other. That’s what he needs to do, he thinks to himself, or right next to her. He looks back at her, and remembers that the start of this spring is one that made good friends with the winter on their passing. She’s wearing a smooth beige overcoat and covers her neck with a maroon scarf that makes her dark features glow. She puts her purse down on the compartment’s table and starts looking for something inside it . She stops to look up at him and they lock eyes. The brown in her eyes is so dark you can’t see the pupil. He looks out the window to see if the train is still moving. It is, slowly. He just keeps looking out the window, and he even agrees that they won’t be going any faster until they ’re out of the city. When he does look back at her, she smiles at him without laughing. He doesn’t know if she’s being polite, pitying, or inviting. So he smiles back at her, and she continues looking for whatever it is she can’t find in her purse. “The train has been running smoothly.” He thinks to himself. “There is no more excuse of tripping on the way. Get up and talk to her, now. The longer you wait the more difficult it’ll be, and weird. Do it now. Say hello. Ask her if she’s ever seen such an empt y train cabin. This could be more than just something. You’ll never know if you don’t do it . Do it now.” Sebastian looks out the window again, and in an instant , everything it could be flashes in his eyes. He looks back at her and firms the bottom of his feet . He pushes his palms down on the armrest and straightens his bent elbows. “Hello,” he says, after walking too far down the aisle-way to turn around. “Bonjour,” she responds. “Bonjour. Have you ever seen a cabin so empty?” “Non,” she says. Then she smiles and pierces his heart with a glimpse of the stare in her eyes. “Me neither,” he says, and she doesn’t say anything back to that . So they just look at each other. Then she laughs again with that same stare. And he says the only thing he can think of. “I thought that would be a good thing to say to you. It’s what I came up with after you came in. I actually thought of what to say, and that’s what I came up with. This is a very empty cabin though, isn’t it?”
She waits a moment before responding. “Almost as if it was meant to be,” she says. “Do you not speak English?” he asks. “Un petit.” A little, she says. “Don’t bother, it’s a rotten language. There’s isn’t any romance in it .” She smiles a little and he can’t believe it , but he quickly accepts that he has to. He looks over at the chair across from hers, and asks, “Cette place est occupee? Is this seat taken? I hate to sit alone, even when it’s crowded.” She doesn’t say anything. She just smiles.
“FILS DE PUTE! SON OF A WHORE!” About halfway in between Lyon and Paris, one of the servers on the train uses his last breath to call a poorly raised Scot this. The server is well raised and it shows, but the Scot kept questioning the server’s abilities. To be more specific, the server’s way of asking if J&B was okay. It’s just the only whiskey the server has on the cart he pushes down the aisle of each cabin. The server re-gains his breath in the corridor between the two cabins. He can feel the tracks below the thin rubber floor. The train turns a little and he braces himself against a brown chest to his left . Then he goes into cabin thirty-one, and is happy to find it empty. He can only hear some whispering and hushed laughter. The server passes by four empty compartments that make him feel foolish for looking in politely. In the compartment from which his smile is returned, sits a couple. The armrest is lifted and they ’re sitting close to each other by the window. The woman has beautiful black hair and she shyly looks up at him. The server quickly swallows the lump that rises in his throat . The man, sitting against the window, seems to be very lucky. “Un bon blanc.” A good white, the man says to him. “Seulement un, demi-bouteille.” We only have one kind, a half-bottle. The server responds. “Alors nous aroun besoin deux. Des glacons?” Then we’ll need two of them. Any ice? The man asks him. “Oui monsieur, bien sur.” Yes sir, of course. “Excellent , thank you very much.” The man says to him, then the man turns and finishes telling an interesting story to the beautiful woman that must be his wife. The server hurries to put a crème nap on the compartment table. Then he puts down a tray of thinly sliced meats and cheese, and two glasses, for the two bottles of cold white wine. “Garder le reste.” Keep the rest , the man says to him, while handing over a hundred. “Merci.” And then the woman looks up at him and says, “Merci vraiment beacoup,” thank you very much, and the server wasn’t ready for it . So he doesn’t say anything back. He just gives them both a firm nod and leaves quickly. Sebastian doesn’t make it to London that night . He stays in Paris and has dinner with her at a restaurant in the sixteenth, where the waiters wear Russian
top hats and serve fresh platters of shellfish late at night . Sebastian doesn’t eat oysters but she loves them. She makes sure to leave him every clam. After they finish eating, and both get a coffee, they grab their luggage from the coatroom and take a taxi to her apartment . When they get there, the taxi driver isn’t sure if it’s the last stop. The woman gets out and the man follows, of course, he’d be a fool not to. The driver waits and listens to see, and hears them agree that it’s a good idea to go upstairs for two or three glasses of anise.
Later that night , Sebastian walks down her street alone with his briefcase. It’s completely dead out , and he needs to find a place to sleep. He decides to stop and just wait on the curb for a cab. He sits and thinks. He doesn’t know what he could have done any different . She seemed to be happy all night , just as he was, and everything went perfect . She laughed and smiled after they kissed at the door, and he saw something in her stare. Something she must have seen in his. But now he can only sit and wonder. He can’t figure it out . He has no idea what that was. He looks up to see no taxi or car anywhere on the street , and then she yells out his name. He stands up before thinking. She’s running to him as fast as she can with no shoes on her feet . Sebastian is forced back to London two days later to keep his job. Before he leaves, they agree to visit each other all the time. But he ends up going to Paris much more. She easily makes him see that it’s the more beautiful place for them to be. They spend countless afternoons and hours walking nowhere on the city ’s cobblestone, as if trying to find the last one. And on one of these sunny afternoons with a cool wind, they pass by the apartment building entrance on Rue la Fontaine, where his grandparents lived their entire lives. The memory makes him sad. He stops in front of the entrance without saying anything. He just looks at the door. And an old woman slowly comes out with her empty shopping cart . Margot just watches him as this happens. Then she kisses him on the cheek and says, “You look cute when you’re sad. But I like it better when you’re not sad.” Sebastian tries to say something back. But he just kisses her, and they search on for the final stone. At the end of such days they never give up. They just decide to continue another day, and in the meanwhile, they sit down on a bench on a bridge, or on a sidewalk in front of a bistro’s large windows, and they laugh at the people inside too busy to notice anything. They eventually enter the bistro themselves and take a table. She likes doing this at bistros with good oysters. So, during the summer they have to stay in the eighth. Neither of them minds this, because the Pont de l’Alma is their favorite place to watch the Seine roll by under them, as the city lights spread out in front of them, and they quietly try to find their own sparkle in the wind pressing evenly against their faces and they get lost in it all. At first Sebastian continues to hate oysters. She says he doesn’t know how to eat them. And when he is finally able to detach the raw fish with one gest of the
small fork, after first emptying the salt water in the shell, and then re-filling it with vinegar and scallions, then, and only then, he can’t disagree that raw oysters are a tremendous thing to tip your head back and eat . After that , they try to figure out if oysters really do have a mythical charm. But they can’t ever decide, because with or without the oysters, their love is too much to figure out . And at the end of a night like this once, they lay tired on top of her bed sheets with the moon shining brightly across chimney tops before coming in through the tall hanging white drapes, the soft glow helping their love burn as if it were just struck against a matchbox. He told her he loved her then, for the first time. She didn’t say anything for five minutes or so, and it didn’t bother him. Sebastian gets tired of going back to London and quits his job. His mother approves of this, while Margot still stands in the building’s stairwell. His mother had never once before considered approving. Sebastian gets a job in Paris with the help of a former professor. Then Margot and Sebastian both agree that her apartment is plenty for the both of them.
Almost a year later, they go out for dinner and the night starts well. Sebastian catches a taxi as they step out of the building. In the taxi, Sebastian holds Margot tight with his back against the door. They drive down Avenue Montaigne and pass by the locked doors of shops with their windows lit . The Avenue is completely empty. There’s a big soccer game against Germany at the opposite end of the city. They turn off the Avenue and drift with light traffic on the Champs Elysees until the Concorde looks down at them, so they go around. Then they turn onto a bridge and cross a dark stretch of the Seine reflecting every light on the Eiffel Tower. Time slows, and he holds her just the same, but when the river below them becomes the quai, they turn onto the busier Boulevard Saint Germain and drive smoothly down the street . “Embrasse moi. Kiss me,” Margot says. He looks down but she doesn’t look up. He turns her head with his hand and kisses her hard. When they get to Montmartre he pays the driver, and in the cold wind he helps with her coat . They sit at a table overlooking the city from the edge of it . They drink wine and watch every corner go from glimmer to glitter. To him, it’s nothing compared to the coloring of her eyes. And she knows exactly what he’s doing, when he takes a deep breath and prepares to stand. “Yes,” she says, before he gets down on his knee. “Really?” he asks. “I’ve already told you, three times,” she says. “But really, me?” he asks. “Oui.” They get married less than a year later. She eventually gets pregnant three times and gives birth twice, first a boy then a girl. Throughout this he gets some promotions, and she leaves her job to start a yoga class in a rental space. She puts her name on top of the entrance door and calls it Margot’s. And because of the success it brings, they eventually move into a four-bedroom apartment in the fifteenth where they finish raising their two kids.
“ m e r m a i d , ” t i m o t h y c u n n i n g h a m
Margot and Sebastian walk them to school every morning through the middle of the park, even after they become embarrassing to be seen. Years go by routinely, and they proudly sit at each of their kids’ weddings. As much in love as their first train ride together. They give the apartment in Paris to their daughter after her first child, and they spend the last of their days watching the tide from the hills of Biarrit z. Just waiting, as fatigue worsens, while enjoying the last feelings of a shared life, with a beautiful view of green yellow and blue, from the top floor balcony. Where they drink wine every night , and coffee every morning. She always looks at the view the same. And anytime he wants to see how beautiful the world is, he looks at her. Then he looks back at the countryside. Mountains and telephone lines and other things that are only seen then and there, all passing by too quickly to be grasped, and all very beautiful, but hard to see after dark. She’s much more beautiful. She’s everything the world is for. But night has completely covered this countryside. The beauty of it now is only an idea. And even its beauty during the day is not as beautiful as this. As the view continues passing by in a steady black blur.
He looks back at her and firms the bottom of his feet . He pushes his palms down on the armrest and straightens his bent elbows. The cabin door opens just as he gets up off the seat . He watches the man that entered walk confidently down the moving aisle. He’s well dressed, well groomed, and athletic. He’s the opposite of Sebastian. Sebastian doesn’t need to see it . But still, he watches the man get all the way down the aisle, to her, and then turn to sit in the seat across from her. Sebastian watches him give her one of the baguette sandwiches he holds in one hand, and one of the Perrier bottles he holds in the other hand. Sebastian lifts the armrests and moves over to sit next to the window. The next time the cabin door opens a server comes in with a cart of drinks. Sebastian asks for a double whiskey. “I only have J&B,” the server says to him. Sebastian barely hears him say it , and he gives the server a good tip after he makes the drink.
Matthew Diage It was the middle of spring, crossing Columbus Avenue in the fifties on my way to The Eastland in Kips Bay. She was running south down the sidewalk in a tan trench coat , and made the corner just as I stepped onto the curb. She grabbed my left arm with two hands. I knew she was young without turning my head. “Tom,” she said in a voice meant to sound endearing, “how aaare you?” She saw I didn’t recognize her. “Tom,” she said, “We met at the Retner’s cottage in Westport . My God, it’s been two years this summer.” “What?” I said. She fought my interest to leave by touching me under the elbow. I could feel the precision of her nails against my arm from inside the coat . “You must be joking, miss we’ve—” “Oh, Tommy,” she said, “do you remember what we had, when it was just the six of us those first weeks of summer? Jim never knew about us. Oh, I was at wits’ end when you left .” She spoke like a child, directly through the idiom to avoid sounding cliché. “You ran down the street to tell me this?” Her eyes were deep gray-blue. I couldn’t stop looking at them. “Miss, I’m sorry. You’ve mistaken me for someone else.” “Oh, no I’m not ,” she said as if she hadn’t heard the end of my sentence, but knew what I’d meant . “I remember you very well. I admit I don’t think about you as much since Jimmy and I got married, but I’ll never forget what we were like. Do you think about Compo? Oh, damn Westport .” She finally looked away by rolling her eyes. “Pardon,” I said. “I need to—” “I’m so glad to finally see you again,” she said taking her hand from my arm. She was smiling. Her voice had lost its recherché feature and sounded thin, as if she was hiding tears. “You know I’ve been happy with Jim. We travel a lot , and we’re quite busy. We’ve been in Paris two years and visiting friends here in the good months. I thought about you so much before I was married, and in the beginning. It almost took me from Jim.” She put one hand to her eye and dabbed, but there was no proof of tears. “I thought about , oh, you’ll think I’m silly,” she said. I moved super-voluntarily in the direction I had been heading. “No,” I said. My response was in concern of what she was saying. I turned to my right , facing east so that I was looking at her squarely, because she had moved ahead in the direction I had inched, and took her face in again when I looked at her eyes. “I just wondered what my life would be like if you had proposed to me.” “You mustn’t think that,” I wanted to say, but I was pushing myself from inside to say something to leave faster. “You need to understand,” I said. She looked up at me. “I’m not the guy you’re thinking of.” She wasn’t frantic or cloying, but earnest and assertive. If I knew this girl was sane, I’d be trying to get her into the nearest building to paw her up. Her lips were compact but full toward the center. Each side had a sharp, upturned corner. They were slightly parted, and her mouth looked like a tiny hot
spring. I wanted to see the lips move again but she was still, and the lips were as still and serious as her gaze. She was trying to impart her fantasy on me. I took hold of her under the elbows, moved my gaze from her eyes, saw the green and white of the dress she was wearing, and a line between her mostly hidden breasts. A necklace of pearls, the jewelry of an older woman, looking charming on her, the iridescent opacity against her brownish skin. “I’m not the person you’re looking for.” She kept a resolved gaze on me. “I’m absolutely certain you are.” She touched my cheek with her right hand with the fingers curled in, so that the skin of one phalanx brushed it . “I don’t know Retner,” I said. “My God,” I smiled, “I wish I had been there.” “Jesus, Tom. How else would I know your name?” She looked as if she could cry, but out of strength that came from having prepared to speak to me, she did not , and only showed me what the face would look like if the tears had come. “I’m going to go,” I said. “What direction are you heading in?” “South, clearly.” She turned her head slightly to one side and orange sunlight crossed her face. “If you’re not in a rush, we can ride together to where I’m going and talk on the way. I’ll pay the driver to take you where you need to go after that .” I was already hailing a cab. “You’re headed?” she asked. I opened the cab door. “28th and 1st ,” I said. “Okay.” On 54th Street we got into a cab without speaking, and were in route to the Eastland. “Tom,” she said at the first light . “It’s your family ’s cottage. Jake Retner is your uncle. What are you trying to pull? You work for Retner. Or, you did when I knew you.” “What does Jake Renter do?” “Architect . You’re a building contractor. My God—” she sighed. “You don’t have to do this with me, even though I have feelings for you, I don’t expect anything. I was just overwhelmed when I saw you on the street .” She put a hand to her forehead and shaded her face for a moment . “I’d been waiting, oh, God. I thought I was never going to get to tell you—” She turned violently at the neck toward me, her hand was gone from her face. “I was desperately in love with you and that’s why I kept it .” “Kept it?” I was amused by the vulnerability. “You impregnated me. On the beach.” I nearly laughed aloud. ‘Impregnated’ was the phrasing of an adolescent who had had too much responsibility pushed upon her. She rested her head against the back of the seat , and rolled it to the right , and looked out the window, then rolled it back to face me and smiled. Her face was round, rather small, but did not compromise her look. It was the face of a petite woman. Her dark hair came down in a heavy draping to her eyelids, down to her shoulders, over both sides of the ears, keeping the tops of them visible. I thought about what it would be like when we parted company and wondered if I could see her again. Maybe once. Maybe a few times in privacy.
A n d r e w c o n l e y
“Do you realize,” I said to her, “that I am in pictures? You may have see me in one of mine.” She didn’t respond. “May I have your name?” I asked. “It’s Nora! she shouted. “Nora Chase, and you loved me in Westport two summers ago!” She paused; we were silent and still. She turned her gaze to the window. “None of it is your fault . I encouraged you to do it , and took the consequences well and square. My husband thinks your child is his.” “Well, Mrs. Chase,” I said. “I am in pictures, and you may have a dear lover who looks just like me. Did you notice the people looking as they passed us? I would have been approached, if it hadn’t been easy to assume that we were engaged in something private.” “We were,” she said. “Oh God, and we could be. That’s the humiliating truth. I’m in love with you.” “Nora, look at me,” I said. She turned, and I was looking at the gray-blue slates above her nose, deeply interested in the movement the light made over them. “It’s crucial you understand this.” Just before I was going to reveal to her I knew she was insane, I imaged walking toward her on Compo beach, the cottage above us, the others already porch side with drinks, giving us the privacy we wanted to take in the last of the sun. As the sun went low, the orange light deep-colored over the sound, the air chilled us coming out of the water, and everything was several shades darker in one-quarter hour. She dried herself before tossing the towel to me, I barely dried myself before hurrying down to steal her body warmth as she giggled. Her eighteen-years: some wet petal, the perfect utterance of two people I haven’t met , was rising to the dominance it was entitled to for twentyyears. The present , greater beauty, watched me with the same clever curl of upturned, pink flesh pressed together with a line drawn across the middle. Our hands moving over our shivering bodies at dusk. Her inner thighs rubbing my outer thighs, kissing in frantic sips. The flash of eyes that grace flees from, once its full, imposing sight is witnessed.
D ylan Young It’s a shame the best me gets wasted on actresses and coffee, polite conversation and Caesar salads. This is six years after a Facebook post publicly identifies me as The Gracious One. Back then, the catalyst of each day was not the next one. Back then, my heart was still a wind chime. Back then, your porch light tickled the top of our skulls sending shivers down our already shaking spines as we each wondered what the other felt , knowing full well it was the same. With your crowning achievement of being in a Dorito’s commercial, and my blinding failure that our knees touched under the table during dinner, I mistook it to mean the world. Now I spend my days asking the important questions, like does she prefer honey mustard over Dijon? Creamy over crunchy? I sit in my car, seeking out an alabaster woman to take me home and tell me all the things I’ve done wrong. I want the laundry list of my missteps strung up and displayed like a trophy buck. I’m sifting through a relentless stack of pixels loosely tied to nerve endings, processing colors, and little else. I’m too lazy to invent a brand new me, but the attendant at the rental car center told me I have a good aura. Cheers Tyisha, maybe one day we’ll find a way to manifest energy and I can build a statue out of my chi in tribute to the Hyundai Elantra you overcharged me for. The physical manifestation of a woman I thought I got to know sits opposite me in a shirt proclaiming “I’m not a morning person.” She’s obviously put her best foot forward. Two minutes into this date I’m looking for an excuse to leave. A man outside blocks traffic to shake his fist at a small child. Her words come lisped out through a mouth of broken marbles, and instead of deciphering their meaning I’m just nodding and saying things like “Uh-huh” and “Nah, life’s funny you know?” The child outside is now crying, and the man is yelling at its mother while impatient drivers begin to honk. The distorted projection of a few pixels I communed with wants to know more about me, or she would like to visit Kentucky. The man outside is ushered out of the road, and continues shaking his fist at the closest trashcan. Despite a strong urge to leave twenty dollars for the salads and walk off, I tell her of a time when I was little, and my brother and I would head down through the woods behind our house to Sorken’s Pond. We used to go there to swim during the summers when the height of the afternoon bubbled the sealant on the driveway. I can remember one week it was so hot that my brother and I went down to swim every single day. We would stay there in the murky waters till our bodies pruned, making up stories as to what lay in its dark depths. We made up stories of cows that lived in a bubble under the pond, or sunken treasure hidden there by early viking settlers. It became a place of its own mythos, there was an air of mystery we revered about that place, like even the most outlandish of possibilities could be real. The next Friday the police dredged the pond and found the body of a woman who had gone missing. The autopsy report confirmed she had been drowned and left in the pond for roughly twelve days. My brother and I had swum over her body for a week straight ignorant to the corpse shrouded below us. At that point , there were no more vikings.
At that point , there was no more swimming in Sorken’s Pond. The aftermarket rip-off of a profile that postured to be a full person tells me my story ’s not believable enough, but she smiles at me anyways. I get the impression I’m a band-aid three shades too dark for her constitution and dismiss the story for her sake. She’d like to see the pond for the vikings, and cows, and whatever else is down there. I wanted to be an astronaut once. Three days from now she’ll text and I won’t reply. But now, in this moment , she asks me if I want to grab a drink and I agree. I know it’s going nowhere, but it’s the last harbor before the sea, the last bastion of touch before an endless string of fluorescent lights, faded carpets, and fluoride scented hallways. She isn’t capable of being a viking. She isn’t capable of filling the shell of body built by friends who ‘just want to help her find that special someone.’ She can only be a self-conscious accountant with a penchant for hand creams and the inability to annunciate words. The details of that night will be lost to my memory, and it won’t be her fault . Many nights have been lost to my memory, and that’s my own fault . I know this. What I will remember is standing on her front step, praying the porch light will tickle, that those familiar shivers will shake down my spine. But they never came. I felt nothing, save for annoyance at the buzzing of the fluorescent light .
Ming Vase-D ynast y with annotations by Eric Kumsomboone
I was born in the year [redacted 1 ] but I existed for much longer. I entered this plane of reality after being birthed from the gaping maw of a singularity and given corporeal form from dark matter. I found a home in the center of a hypergiant star. Time, which is relative and therefore meaningless, elapsed. Using my newly discovered latent power and the star’s plentiful elements, I achieved singularity in an attempt to return back to the dark dimension which once housed me. Such a display cost me dearly as I exhausted my star’s resource, and the resulting supernova destroyed the star I called home. As a grim reminder of my carelessness, I have an event horizon 2 in place of a heart . Herstorians know this event as SN- 1006, a.k.a. the brightest stellar event in recorded herstory and omen of doom for the Song Dynasty. The fallout of the resulting supernova saw my essence wandering through the void until it found its way to China. Titillated by the abject sorrow of Zhu Yunazhang, a novice at a monastery which was razed by the Mongolians. Curiously, I found emotions gave me a similar sustenance to the elements in my star. In exchange for allowing me to feed off the pain of his loss, I guided him in his campaign against the Mongolians. Yunazhang, out of respect and fear in my aide against the Yuan Empire, named his empire after the only way he could perceive me: Ming 3 .
They erected a new capitol city to house me, the Purple Forbidden City. Within the walls of my own private Xanadu, I gorged on the many and varied emotions of the people. Eventually I pushed my power to the breaking point taking the Dynasty to the height of cultural significance. We gave the Great Wall it’s signature look, we took our armada to Africa, formed a Trade Federation with 36 countries, and finally (my crowning achievement) we created the first global fad with my beautiful vases. So confident was I in my iron grip at home, that my metaphorical Eye of Sauron turned from home and focused abroad. If I couldn’t return home, the least I could do is rule a world. And that is when my adversaries attacked and imprisoned me in my precious vases. Those porcelain prisons kept me mostly trapped for a considerably long time. Eventually I found a perfect host . Being a human is tricky and new. Emotions that I once found delicious, I now find perplexing and curious. I don’t fully understand concepts of mortality or love. I understand existential ennui. That void of nothing yawning into infinity as particles stretch further apart until they threaten to snap their molecular bonds. It’s a feeling that is uncomfortably reminiscent of my twilight days in the Forbidden City. I understand loathing. I can feel the Vesuvius of my rancor gurgle up my gullet . I recall my last few moments in my star and I recite an ancient incantation to send the many horrors inside me back into their box. Living as a human is curious. I am not content with solitude. Yet the thought of human bonds is anathema to me. I am at a crossroads. When I encounter foes I no longer erase them from existence with a flip of my wrist , I opt to spare them as I now value human life. Wiping someone out of this reality would be risking the possibility of exposing myself. What is better: Sending a person’s spirit to the unspeakable dark place to never cross over to our reality again or let them live their insignificant life? I’d rather see them live a life of mediocre obscurity and not put myself at risk. As I once told the Bard, discretion is the better part of valor. In this case, discretion means not reducing my host’s hometown to a pile of smoldering remains. When speaking with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, I told them that with my great power came great responsibility. Responsibility is being able to take care of yourself. I must be responsible enough to use discretion and not return a bigot back to their elemental properties. The fallout from that punishment would be revealing my abilities and encountering yet another angry mob which doesn’t understand the being before them. This angry mob allows their blind emotions to drive them. Emotions are by far the worst part of humanity, but , as I told Elbert Hubbard, “Beyonce turned life’s lemons into Lemonade.” 4 This proverb proved useful as I turned the worst of the human experience into an acceptable substitute for the elements that I used to power myself when I lived in the star. With one major exception: The emotions that my host produces are infinitely renewable. Whereas with the star and when I existed as an entity in Imperial China, the energy was finite and I cared not for conservation. Without conservation, I risk depleting my energy reserves to the point of making myself vulnerable to being imprisoned once more or worse, drain another star of its energy and potentially wiping out alien life that needs that star for life. With conservation, I not only have I discovered that some of my problems are short-term, but this allows me to devise more outlandish and absurd revenge plots from my lair and waiting affords me extra time to spend on plotting intergalactic domination. I contain multitudes. I hold the wonders of the universe, both great and terrible. I have an appetite for destruction. I can cause a star to blink out of
existence. However, I also have a lust for life. In the wake of the star’s destruction is born a black hole. My emotions and frequently my thirst for revenge run hot . But as Zhu Yunazhang told me when I suggested that we simply erase the Mongolians from this timeline, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” It took hundreds of years to firmly grasp what he meant , but now I understand that he meant that the most effective course of action, irregardless 5 if it’s for vengeance, is to bide your time and wait for the perfect moment to launch your plan. Well, that and if I can’t rule this dimension, I’ll make every dish cold by hastening the eventual heat death of the universe.
A quick glance at her Facebook page would tell you she was born November 17, 1978. Or, as I call it , my Event Corazon. 3 Ming meaning “bright .” 4 Ming forgot which part of the time stream she was in and the year was 1914, so Hubbard had no idea who Beyonce is, but he liked the phrase enough to use it in an obituary. 5 Regardless. The word Ming wanted was regardless. 2
[ micro fiction ] Gin
Rae Bourque Samantha’s fingers white knuckled the bottle beneath the bar. Opposite her was a man with a sample flight of gin— nice suit , over bleached teeth. He had been sitting at her tasting bar for over an hour, nursing the same six samples, trying to educate her on gin. She wanted to smash his glasses into the doughy flesh of his face. There were twenty minutes until close. As he rambled, she thought of the seven years she had apprenticed in England, the hours she spent perfecting her recipes, the overtime she worked at shit jobs to scrape together enough to build this distillery. He had watched a handful of youtube videos. “Coriander is a relatively unknown aspect of gin,” he said swirling one of his tasters. “It can drastically change the flavor depending on the percentage. This one is underwhelming—” “I could drown him,” she thought . “I could pour and pour and pour my ‘underwhelming gin’ over his face until his lips turned as chalky and blue as junipers.” She looked on with a feigned studious air. Ten minutes until close. Unaware of her murderous musings, the man continued to prattled on. “The aging process is tantamount …” Picturing his blue lips made her calm. She loosened her grip on the bottle, and tucked it quietly back onto its shelf beneath the bar. “Hey boss,” the bar back walked out of the kitchen holding a broom, “I’ll start closing up.” “That time already?” Samantha mocked surprise. “Sir, my apologies — thank you for coming but its time we all headed home. I appreciate your notes on my recipe.” The look on his face when she said “my ” almost made it all worth it . Locking the door behind him was the real treat .
“the clearing offered no comfort,” jack savage
Lara Lewis The boats all sail at dawn. They set out on crisp waters, gliding towards the beckoning light . Their course is shared and unknown even to them; they know only that they must follow the light of the dawn, and stay the course even as the sun crawls across the sky. They sail undeterred, unwavering, to where they are going. None stop, none look back to the dock they started from. No sailors consider the one boat that remained at the starting point , with the captain who needed to know something more than he needed to learn. None of them think of the anchor that holds that boat still as they all disappear over the horizon, to learn what that captain refused to start sailing towards, what he wanted to know without learning. The anchor stays, never budged, until the sun sets on the one boat at the starting dock.
[ nonfiction ] A Short Inventory of Struggling to Be Someone’s Idea of Acceptable N. Alysha Lewis
One (1) Manufactured Sneeze Traumatized by my dad’s Sneeze Heard Round the Household and fearing that a similar sound bursting forth from my 5’2” frame would scar my classmates—thus bringing me all sorts of unwanted attention—I trained myself to have an incredibly small sneeze in public. It’s been referred to as “mouse-like.” When I’m at home, I sneeze all over myself with near-wild abandon, and while I do occasionally apologize to the people who I imagine are watching my life Truman Show-style, I don’t feel the need to hold anything in. But when I’m in public, I try to be as quiet as humanly possible . . . for something that occurs at up to 100 miles per hour. I sometimes think I’m going to die from popping a blood vessel after a particularly powerful sneeze. What a way to go. My obituary would have to read: This dummy died just because she was trying not to bother anybody. Troubling development: There’s this weird whistling sound about a third of the time that I sneeze, and I can’t tell if other people can hear it . . . S everal Missed Opportunities to Celebrate My Marriage There aren’t a lot of pictures of me and my husband. Low self-esteem regarding my physical appearance plays a hand, sure, but in truth, my avoidance of taking and sharing photos started because I didn’t want it to look like I was showing off. I’ve read the think pieces and seen the data about how social media leaves us all more depressed because we look at the carefully curated, thus seemingly perfect versions of people’s lives and feel shitty because ours are nothing like that . I didn’t want to go around making people feel bad just because one aspect of my life—my relationship—didn’t suck. Lawrence and I already have a track record of alienating or disrupting people’s lives when we’re together. While going to watch a classmate perform in a music showcase, back when we were just engaged, we sat across the room from another classmate. Throughout the show, she kept making eye contact with me and looking confused or even annoyed. Afterward, she came up to tell me that she’d never seen a couple who was so into each other before, and she didn’t know to process it . Thanks?
In another vein, while attending a party at my best friend’s house, we actually instigated a fight between another couple. It wasn’t on purpose! Basically, the girl-half of the couple was obsessed with “how in love” we were, constantly snapping photos of us (not as creepy as it sounds, but still creepy) and saying how she wished she were in a relationship like ours while giving major side eye to the dude she was sleeping with. The next day, my best friend filled me in on how, after Lawrence and I left , that couple got into a fight about their status. We were rolling our eyes because we all knew the guy just wasn’t serious about this girl, so her repeated attempts to try and turn it into something more was just upsetting. But no matter whose side you were on in the fight , it couldn’t be argued: By being happily married, I’d caused emotional turmoil. So I censor myself. I like to think I’ve trained my Facebook friends to only expect lovey-dovey things during a short span of days in late October/early November, when I commemorate the day Lawrence and I met and our anniversary. Sometimes I get cutesy on his birthday. To me, these seem like reasonable times to acknowledge my marriage with the fervor I feel on a regular basis—a little reprieve from my “Oh, yeah, that dude I happened to marry ” schtick that I hope signals my marital status while letting people know it’s not a huge deal and they don’t need to worry about me boring them with all the details. Even though I would love to. Because, spoiler alert , I love my husband. He’s amazing and incredibly supportive, and I find myself loving him to pieces even on the days when I want to beat him senseless with his stupid, cranky, vomiting-and-pissing-all-over-my-stuff jerk of a cat . But don’t worry. I’ll never tell you any of that . Except for the cat part—that dude sucks. Numerous Minutes Wasted In middle school and high school, if I was the first person to finish a test , I stayed in my seat and doodled on the exam papers until someone else was done. It just wouldn’t do for anyone to think I was showing off my intelligence. Countless Texts Unanswered If I’m having a text conversation with you, after a certain point , I’m going to stop responding. Am I a forgetful person? Yes. But that only accounts for some of the times I go AFK. Really, it’s that I just can’t stand being the last person to say something. I didn’t always have this tick. I once foolishly believed that friends were always available to you, always ready to bend an ear—or scroll through a monster text—and keep a conversation going for hours. But this was woefully ignorant of me. In case it wasn’t immediately clear where this was going, let me sum up: I’ve been bailed on a lot . Friends have quietly slipped off my radar or actively thrown a match onto our relationship and watched it burn. Whatever their strategy, the story at the end of the day was the same: They were gone, and I had to wonder what I did wrong. I came to the conclusion that I was being too vulnerable with people. I was (am) an oversharer, and I relied on people a lot , which it turns out high schoolers only like for a little while. When I went through a dark time in college and either shut down communication or went on depressing stream-of-consciousness diatribes about the state of my life, I became even more confused about how friends communicate. Thank God no one I knew had read receipts turned on (is that something that’s even
compatible with Android?) or else I would’ve had to face the harsh reality of what we now call “being left on read.” While I have better friends now, ones who apologize for long stretches of random silence or ones who I’m so comfortable enough with that I know they ’ll eventually get back to me, I still feel the need to bail on a conversation when it feels like things are winding down. I like to think it’s me maintaining my power and independence, but really it’s just that I’m listening to the little voice in my head that whispers, “You’re coming off a little desperate.”
Two (2) Frustrating Habits of S elective Silence There are two things about me that annoy Lawrence to no end. (Yes, there’s probably more than that , but just roll with me for the premise here.) The first is that , if we’re teamed up to play trivia, I will second-guess myself and avoid giving an answer. Unless I’m 100 percent positive that I’m correct , I will demure, hem, haw, and hide my face until the time runs out . The second thing that I will instantly give up if he asks me to guess the answer to something, more or less for the same reason.
The thought of getting things wrong, and getting them wrong with an audience, is paralyzing to me. Despite knowing this, he can’t help but get frustrated when we lose a trivia-based board game against friends because I was too scared to share answers that were right most of the time. But I’d rather people know I knew the answer after the fact than ever deal with the embarrassment of being wrong in the moment . One (1) Imbalanced Brain I’m pretty sure my panic disorder is exacerbated by trying so hard to live life according to someone else’s standards. I don’t know who this person is, or what they want from me, so to be safe, I combine a whole bunch of different people’s rules and ideals and try to live by them. As you can imagine, it’s really fucking difficult . When I think about my particular brand of panic, I think about feeling trapped and unable to express my emotions in the way I think would help relieve that tension. I think of the veins in my arms tingling to the point of feeling like they ’re on fire. I think of screwing a soda bottle cap back on after opening it because the foam shot up too fast . The foam is still in there for quite some time, beating against the surface until it tires itself out . That’s what my panic and anxiety feels like. Because it’s not as easy as just letting people in and telling them I’m having a hard day or that I need a minute. With my track record, people will give you an infinite number of minutes after that kind of reveal because they ’ll just never come back. And if they do come back, it’s weird. You’re “other” now. And I’m just so goddamn tired of being other with the people who mean the most to me that I’d rather fake being the norm than let them in on the real me. So I let all my weird foam build up inside and hope it doesn’t spill out , leaving my poor friends with sticky fingers and a hot mess to clean up.
“ s t e l l a ’ s M e l t , ” L a r r y H o l l a n d
Thousands of Untold Jokes I’m hilarious. But a lot of my comedy stems from referencing my favorite bits of pop culture, which are often deep cuts from mainstream hits or the best lines from under-performers. So even when I come up with the perfect joke, I stop because what would be the point? No one would get it , and they ’d think I was the weirdo for making a “bad” joke. I guess what I’m trying to say is: People really need to get on my level. One (1) Nearly Lost Ability to Be Myself I had no idea who I was for a long time. It’s why I obsessively took all those online quizzes that showed up in my social media feed; I needed someone to tell me. But after decades of letting a bunch of other people dictate my choices—and particularly people who probably weren’t worth all that trouble—I feel like maybe it’s time I struggle to be my own idea of acceptable. After all, I’m stuck with me for life. If it’s just me in a room, I should feel like I’m worth hanging out with. And I just might be: anxiety foam, weird jokes, unanswered texts, love for my husband (but hatred for his cat), and all.
artist spotlight nathan wahl I had high school Journalism class with Nathan Wahl pretty much an entire lifetime ago. The way so many people do, I rediscovered him on Instagram years later—and as a lover of gorgeous women, it quickly became one of my favorite accounts. A director of editorial content by day, this Brooklyn-based writer and photographer also works with models from all over New York, finds crazy excellent places to shoot, and breaks out the Impossible film (the new Polaroid, if you’re not hip to it). You can actually book an hour and a half shoot with him whenever a spot on his calendar at nathanowahl.com has an opening. The Kickstarter for his first magazine Instants an 80-page photobook of A+ mostly nude instant photos, is going strong at goo.gl/1EN3hb. East Coast Ink reached out to get Wahl into this issue about restraint to hear all about self-publishing (and the girls. We have no restraint).
I feel like I woke up one day, checked my Instagram feed, and you’d become this really active photographer. What have I missed since graduation? Wahl: You’re not wrong. It did sort of happen overnight . I bought a “real”
camera before a vacation last year. Turns out I liked it . I did some film photography way back and I loved the darkroom, but I can’t honestly say that was a precursor to my current photography. If anything, Instagram was the impetus. I’m sure a lot of photographers now are like that . All your competition and inspiration is right there. The challenge is to take a photo you like and say, “How can I do that like me?”
Your work really celebrates the female form. What draws you to it?
Wahl: Women are angels. I love women. I love their lines and curves. I love the way light hits them. I don’t know what else to say about it . Beats the hell out of taking pictures of buildings. Buildings are static, they never change. But working with a model—a photo is a collaboration, you’re creating together, it’s an exchange.
You must have some highlights from doing so many sessions with women in New York. Who stands out? What’s the craziest story you’ve heard while photographing someone?
Wahl: I’ve made so many friends shooting. Craziest story I’ve heard? I can’t say. There’s always gossip about this photographer and that model. The craziest thing I’ve done is break into abandoned houses with a model friend. She’s a petite woman, 100 pounds or so, and I’m scared as hell going into these houses—afraid we’ll get caught . I still feel like a teenager who’s going to get in
Photos courtesy of nathan wahl
trouble. Meanwhile she’s kicking in doors, breaking glass with bricks… but it’s a nice balance. I play it safe, she’s reckless, so in the end we have fun and get good pictures.
How’d your first ever NSFW shoot go? Was it completely normal? Did you know the person well?
Wahl: Well, for the record, I’d love it if one day this were my job and thusly “safe for work”. But I know what you mean—how did my first nude shoot go. Normal enough. I had a general sense of what I wanted to do and the model was easy to work with. There’s no other way to say it , but nudity doesn’t equal sexuality. Like, just because someone is naked doesn’t mean it’s sexual, doesn’t mean it’s erotic. A body isn’t inherently arousing. That’s a social construct and a personal projection.
Once I had a reader send me an indignant email about how all the “beauty” was gone from this publication. essentially the work was too raw for her. In the end, this is a place for your niche, whatever it may be. So the following issue was curated with more rough edges, and a few more mostly nude ladies. I’m sure you can relate with your own work, but I don’t do this for her. I do it for the artists.
Wahl: As for the “beauty ” question: The easy response is beauty ’s subjective. Lilies are pretty to some people, but I find them ugly and awfulsmelling. It doesn’t sound like this particular reader was saying what she meant . She meant , “I don’t find this particular thing beautiful,” which—fine. As the Dude says, “That’s just , like, your opinion, man.”
When someone new books time with you, how do you decide where to shoot or what outfits they should wear? Do the models largely direct the shoot? Give us a look at what it’s like to be in front of your camera. Wahl: It all depends on who I’m working with. I love when models approach me with an idea or vision because it helps to share the creative responsibilities. Takes some pressure off. But I’d say I direct the shoot 90% of the time. I think a lot of models like to be the muse, but I like when the model says things like “try this” or “let’s go over here.” And obviously, the more experienced the model is, the easier she is to work with. Of course, I couldn’t tell you how easy I am to work with. Occasionally I’ll have a super specific idea, like I want to shoot here, and I want you to do this pose, at this time of day. But usually I just pick a general
location and see what happens.
How does your life as a photographer fit into your life as a director of editorial content? Are you passionate about both works?
Wahl: I am. Collectively they take up almost all of my time. I love words and images. At my day job I’m in charge of the words on the company ’s social channels and blog. I hire writers, photographers and illustrators to create, which is exciting. It’s a unique position to read something in another publication, or see a photographer on Instagram, and say “I like your work. I want you to create something for me.” And then be able to pay that person for it . I wouldn’t say they “fit together” so much as they ’re a balance. My day job is a lot more “wholesome” than my photography.
You’ve got a book coming out, which is fantastic. What are the details?
Wahl: So, it’s called Instants, and it’s a book of, unsurprisingly, instant photography. I started it for two reasons: first , I saw Jonathan Leder’s book with Emily Ratajkowski and wanted to rip it off. And second because I was spending too much time editing photos. Hours. I wanted to test myself. I was starting to wonder if I was any good as a photographer, or just a decent photo editor. I got this old Polaroid camera for $15 (but of course, paid out the ass for film) and gave myself a limit on how many photos I could take with each model. All I could do was take the picture and be done. No color correcting. No blemish removal. Nothing. I’m still working out the final product , but it’ll be about 80 pages of instant photography. I’ll have both digital and physical copies. It’s all selfpublished. I’m also putting a couple images on t-shirts just because they look dope. And of course, you can find out when it’s out by following me. It’s crazy how important my Instagram handle is to me now. I should probably tattoo it on me.
e a s t c o a s t e v e n t s summer 2017
Harlem Book Fair July 15; Harlem, NY
The Harlem Book Fair strives to create a platform of access to the transformative power of reading. Demonstrating a strong sense of community, they support literacy and literacy awareness through public programs, corporate partnerships, community participation, and in-school programs—all of which broaden and strengthen the vitality of the African-American community. The nation’s flagship Black literature event and the largest African-American book fair in the country, previous speakers have included Maya Angelou, Sonia Sanchez, Terry McMillan, and more. harlembookfair.com/
July 15; St. Stephens Church, Washington, D.C.
The D.C. 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
Tampa Zinefest July 15; 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 zine-making process, work stations where you can start your own zine, and much more. facebook.com/ events/608043322706846
NE Authors Expo July 26; Danvers, MA
The largest grassroots literary event in New England, with more than 1,000 authors on its contact list. Almost like a mini-comicon, attendees can anticipate horror, sci-fi, fantasy, comic book, and graphic novel authors, as well as illustrators and artists. newenglandauthorsexpo.com
City-Wide Friends of the Boston Public Library Book Sale August 5; Copley Square, 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
Boston Comic Con
August 11–13; Boston, MA
Did you know the Boston Red Sox sponsor the Boston Comic Con? This event takes over the entire city— as well it should considering the celebrity guests (Alan Tudyk, Stan Lee, Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Tim Curry, Ian Somerhalder, and more) who will be there this year. This con features a cosplay parade through the streets of Boston, a Rocky Horror Picture Show Experience, Ink-Fusion Empire Tattoo Pavillion, The Show Against Humanity, and so much more. bostoncomiccon.com
Writer’s Digest Annual Conference August 18–20; 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, they’re experts at nurturing and developing new writers for more than 90 years. Customize your experience by mixing-and-matching sessions among core tracks, with keynote speakers Lisa Scottoline, Richard Russo, and David Levithan. writersdigestconference.com
Baltimore Summer Antiques Show August 24–27; 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 into a diverse collection which includes 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 1–3; Atlanta, 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 1–4; Atlanta, GA
Dragoncon is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention featuring 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, 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 2; Washington, D.C.
The 16th Library of Congress National Book Festival will take place at the Washington Convention Center. Use the hashtag #NatBookFest to keep up with the 120 author presentations being given throughout the day—you just can’t physically see them all. But, feel free to try and prove us wrong. loc.gov/bookfest
Brooklyn Antique and Book Fair September 8–10; Brooklyn, NY
One of the country’s largest regional antiquarian book fairs comes to Brooklyn each fall. This will be the third edition. BABF brings more than 100 quality antiquarian book and ephemera dealers from all over the United States, Canada, and Europe to the new Brooklyn Expo Center, easily accessible from all parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan, and beyond. abaa.org
Rochester Antiquarian Book Fair September 9; 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
Slice Literary Writers’ Conference September 9–10; Brooklyn, NY
The Slice Literary Writers’ Conference walks writers through the professional publishing process, from the writer’s desk to the bookstore shelf. Panels, craft workshops, and agent meetings offer writers an insider view of the industry that is rarely seen by those outside of book publishing. awpwriter.org
Brooklyn Book Festival
September 11–17; Brooklyn, NY
The Brooklyn Book Festival (September 17) 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. Plan your experience: brooklynbookfestival.org
September 13–24; Brooklyn, NY
PHOTOVILLE is a magic place where attendees can walk amongst 60+ 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. And beer. A veritable smorgasbord of beer. photoville.com
NY Art Book Fair
September 22–24; 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 370 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 includes 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
Baltimore Book Festival
September 22–24; Baltimore, MD
The Baltimore Book Festival features hundreds of author appearances and book signings, 100+ exhibitors and booksellers, non-stop readings on multiple stages, cooking demos by celebrity chefs, poetry readings and workshops, panel discussions, walking tours, storytellers and hands-on projects for kids, street theater, live music, and a delicious variety of food, beer, and wine. baltimorebookfestival.com
Teen Read Week
October 8–14; Worldwide
Teen Read Week, YALSA’s annual celebration of teen literacy, will take place October 8–14, 2016. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Unleash your story,” with an emphasis on services, programming, and literature for young adults who speak a language other than English at home. To get involved in teen literacy, please visit teenreadweek.ning.com.
east coast ink “uncanny valley” contest October; East Coast
We’re feeling spooky; to celebrate the fall 2017 issue of East Coast Ink, we created the hashtag #uncannyECI so you can show us your scariest photo manipulations, bumps in the night, and real-world terrors. We invite anything left of center, or “uncanny”—that feeling of dread and Fear with a capital “F” you get when something just isn’t right. Tag @ecimagazine to your photos, art, multimedia, poems, short stories, and more; 18-plus content allowed. Artists planning to contribute to the fall issue are welcome to resubmit works featured in the issue. Keep an eye on ecimagazine.tumblr.com and facebook.com/ eastcoastinklitmag or follow us @ecimagazine for more details.
[ contributors ] restraint, summer 2017
Jennifer Allen is a fine artist who creates pen and ink drawings of nature, strong women, and mythology with a vintage feel. It was with her research into tattoo design that she realized her love of skulls and the detail found on their surfaces. She’s also influenced by science fiction, fantasy, and anatomy. By utilizing cross-hatching and hard contrast, she likes for her drawings to have the appearance of old etchings. She enjoys crafting, traveling, and reading fantasy novels. Allen lives in Pendleton, SC, with her silly Husband John and two supportive dogs. To purchase her work, visit boneandinkdrawings.etsy.com.
Cole Bauer is an American screenwriter, author, and poet currently in the dirty south of the U.S.A. He was born and partially raised in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, but was raised and lived for most of his life in San Diego, California. He also lived, off and on, in Texas for six years and traveled around America. Bauer is inspired and motivated by street-writers like Charles Bukowski, John Fante, and Dan Fante. He enjoys clearing out his brain onto blank sheets of paper and empty screens and loves writing random short stories, pilot scripts, and film screenplays.
Timothy Cunningham was born in South Carolina in 1983. After being raised there up to adolescent years, he
has since lived in the Seattle, El Paso, Norfolk, and Greenville areas. Now residing in Oceanside, California, he continues his journey as a professional artist, which began at the age of sixteen. Cunningham is also a Marine Corps veteran of the war in Iraq and a college graduate. With many commissions and exhibitions over the years, he still strives to master his skills as a fine artist with oils, water, acrylic, and charcoal on multiple surfaces. His work is held in private collections nationwide. Cunningham hosts workshops and teaches art classes in Southern California, and is very passionate about his teachings, and looks forward to what the future brings.
Darren Demaree’s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly (2016, 8th House Publishing) and is the managing editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. Currently he is living and writing in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and children.
Matthew Diage lives and works in Mexico.
Matthew Diomataris is a self taught illustration and mixed media artist from Richmond, Virginia. He received his Bachelor’s of Science in sociology from Virginia Commonwealth University and has used this exploration of social order,
disorder, and change in his artwork since doing so. Diomataris’s work often focuses on the human experience and is based on inspiring images that reflect a sense of imagination and contemplation, combined with (sometimes) subtle details of odd or eccentric elements. Collections of his work are seen throughout the United States, in galleries, restaurants, and private residences. He is also the creator of The FAT KID coloring book, and his work can be found printed in multiple formats on select products online. Currently, he is working on writing and illustrating a graphic novel of short stories called Excerpts From Another Ghosts. matthewdiomataris.com
Danielle Dull is a transplanted Floridian currently exploring the high desert of Wyoming. She has been known in the past to sport umbrellas on sunny days. She finds the most joy in collecting books, punk rock music, true crime documentaries, and her pit bull: Jinx. Danielle can be found on Instagram as scary_jerry89 where she sometimes posts interesting photos.
ROBIN WYATT DUNN
Robin Wyatt Dunn writes and teaches in Los Angeles. His first book of poetry, “POEMS FROM THE WAR”, is now available from Popcorn Press. robindunn.com
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 1050 poems published in over 425 international journals. She has sixteen published books of poetry, seven collections and nine chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay. allisongrayhurst.com
Lara Lewis is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, and a freshman to the great lessons of life. There’s no syllabus, no curriculum, and no report card that she’s heard of. If somebody could kindly recommend her a mentor and a nice place to panic that serves a nice cup of hot chocolate, she would deeply appreciate it. larawritingportfolio.wordpress.com
N. ALYSHA LEWIS
N. Alysha Lewis is a writer and editor who just wants to create stories that reach readers the same way her favorite stories reach her. When she’s not reading or struggling to write, she’s wondering why her husband’s cat is staring at her. Her work has appeared at Minerva Magazine, and you can currently find her waxing gleeful about YA on the Barnes and Noble Teen blog.
Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as “Seven Circle Press,” “Dinner with the Muse,” “Camel Saloon,” “Blueline,” “Poppy Road Review,” “Spectrum,” three “Bright Hills Press Anthologies,” and several Kind of A Hurricane publications. She has been nominated three times for Best of the Net.
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.
Giulietta Schoenfeld is a 22-yearold recent graduate from Bryn Mawr College. She majored in Spanish with a minor in psychology and significant amounts of coursework in the fine arts and creative writing (she can never make up her mind). While Giulietta
has always expressed a passion for writing and telling stories, Bryn Mawr introduced her to writing poetry, with which she quickly fell in love. Aside from writing, Giulietta also enjoys animation, drawing, singing, fencing, and a good sense of humor. Her favorite pastime is hanging with friends and watching silly videos. Though she likes making people laugh, beware her mischievous streak. She also harbors a passionate aversion to cilantro.
Daniel Thompson’s poetics are influenced by symbolist and surrealist artists and poets as well as the more ‘objectist’ and ‘objectivist’ (to borrow a word) Black Mountain poets, particularly that of Charles Olson and Robert Duncan. Stressing the importance of place on the poet and the poet upon the place, through a close, phenomenological observation of his/ her surroundings. Thompson has an M.F.A. from the University of Victoria and has been published in a range of literary magazines. He is a reader and contributor to the Tongues of Fire reading series and has written several books, all currently seeking publishers.
Dan Topiol was born in Paris, France, on May 12, 1992. He later lived in England and then Florida. He received his Bachelor’s Degree at The University of Florida, then moved to California to pursue a writing career and study theater.
Ming Vase-Dynasty is a former Miss Bogart, Flagpole cover girl, and winner for Miss Saigon several years running. When obeying the law of conservation of mass, Vase-Dynasty spends her time searching for her missing husband. She has an air-tight alibi during his disappearance. Mrs. Vase-Dynasty is a reoccurring emcee for the Boybutante AIDS Foundation and the HiLo Lounge. She can be found in her lair, which is
an abandoned shrine to Eris that exists slightly outside of the bounds of human perception at the cusp of a singularity. She is the editor-in-chief of Gloria Vanderbilt’s Complete Guide to Jeans and Etiquette.
Our Artist Spotlight for the Summer 2017 RESTRAINT issue of East Coast Ink, Wahl is a writer and photographer in Brooklyn currently releasing his first photobook, Instants. To book time in front of his camera visit nathanowahl. com and visit him @nathanowahl to see how the Kickstarter is progressing.
Alan Walowitz has been published in various places on the web and off. He’s a contributing editor at VerseVirtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College and St. John’s University. Alan’s chapbook, Exactly Like Love, was published by Osedax Press in 2016 and is now in its second printing. His poem, “The Story of the Milkman” was featured in an article in The New York Times on April 16. Go to alanwalowitz.com for more information.
Dylan Young is a screenwriter lost somewhere in the Los Angeles area. He takes breaks from writing scripts to write weird little stories, and the occasional haiku. He recently selfpublished a collection called “Bitter Poems for Heartbroken People,” available on blurb. Contact Dylan for literally any reason whatsoever [I’m not lonely, I swear]. firstname.lastname@example.org
ea st coas t ink | issue 013 | r est r aint