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Emerge Literary Journal Issue Two April 2012 Edited by Ariana D. Den Bleyker Collection Copyright 2012 by Emerge Literary Journal All Rights Reserved By Individual Authors ISSN 2166-2266 Cover Art, "Braga Bridge," Copyright Barbara Adams All Other Photography, "Can You Hear My Cries" and "Stairs" Copyright Eleanor Leonne Bennett; "Blue水 Copyright Kate LaDew; "Bound" Copyright Steven Den Bleyker

Contents Kevin Ridgeway Jennifer Schmitz Cameron LaFlam Bryony Noble Coop Lee Simon Rhee Samantha Duncan

Cedarsprings Drive Digging Open Spaces Rooms fosforus Always the Wind Cracks in Pavement Faith Counter Stephen Byrne Ode to a Sandwich Josh Crummer I never went camping with the guys that weekend Rainstorm Initiation Robert Cantrell The Carousel Room Zachariah Middleton Check-out Line Christina Murphy bonfires in a strange paradise Nels Hanson Voyages Chloe Clark Crush Sara Krasnostein Viteliu! Craig Getz Vienna Athena Dixon Macerating the Berries Cody Jensen The City is Lined with Diamonds Dan Nowak You talk about the end of the world Steven Myers-Yawnick The Other Anthony Frame The Legend of the Misfit Skins Jodie Oakes The Cutting Board Aftab Shaikh Bricks Thomas Stevenson Making Memories Jordan Taylor Shear

Kyrie Amos Ricky Garni SK Iyer Michelle Hartman Ann Howells Vishnu Rajamanickam Don Illich Allie Marini Batts Ruth Quinlan Danna Hobart John Kazlauskas Taylor Pangman Sarah O'Toole James Piatt

Shadow of a Doubt Incarnations sound reasoning disenchanted Lolly says: Empty Batteries Wave koi ponds and cathedrals Still Here Recess 2(x)=y Paradox Surface of a Desk New Year's Day 2011 The Iron Horse Absolution

Kevin Ridgeway

Cedarsprings Drive the humble suburban abode was grandmother’s final Southern California home before she drifted north to the cold mountains of her sixties to the dry deserts of her seventies where she gasped for air and passed on, but the memories of Cedarsprings and the purple bells that fall from its trees haunt me as I travel them her unspoken spirit pushing me along the way

Jennifer Schmitz

Digging I kneel with my mother under light rain as we consider eastern exposure, high and low spots. She breaks ground easily while my shovel still needs all my weight. I slow our progress, angling the blade around worms I try to spare. Fifty years have taught her otherwise, and those in her path mix with dirt and roots. She digs and a garden takes shape. Nature guides her choices, staggering plants by bloom and height. She tears out ivy to save azaleas and knows what will stand full sun. What she unearths, I will try to grasp. Secrets she has cultivated for years-when to cut the lilies back in winter, what to give up to make things grow.

Cameron LaFlam

Open Spaces Climbing back in the hole of adolescence can be well-lit and comfortable, supplied with sureness and amenities, but the smallness of it all shrinks a boy, daft as a jailbird doll. I imagine my retreat to the innocence of home like a star upon the highway seeks its bejeweled, twilight blanket— But what remains are only stale traces of bone. Being welded to the rolling wheel means grease, grabs gravel, With rain and marrow flooding out one's navel because the drive, at last, shook honest my watery temple.

Bryony Noble

Room I visit you and I In our room. We are a companiable silence; I do not grasp your face, Though I know it smiles. I cannot imagine your voice, Though I'd know it in the darkness, somewhere. I sit by the window, open to humming late Autumn. I have yet to find the key— But I know where to find us till then.

Coop Lee

fosforos i make us blt’s and imagine you naked, only wearing boots in the snow somewhere; that amber strange mist of little light, little dark. we share fumes, and lips, and flowers of the mouth. i want to sleep with you, but even more so, i want to be the first person you fall in love with, without sleeping with; and i want you to write a poem about this. we run our fingers along dvd box plastics, and spectral the light reflected from ceilings and corners. your boyfriend is on his way; you face yourself and the mirror. i wander a street strung in mothed-lamps, thinking of all the words i want to say, thinking of all the ways i want to brace our bodies together. like birds; somewhere in the trees across the street. ghoul boy slumps against the bar oracling my fate; and i pretend to be strong; but truly; my heart is something beyond mere comprehension, mere degrees of fiber and feelings, and words. i think of the illuminous protein of jellyfish. are your fingers cold? invite me inside. winter: all we need is someone to keep us warm. patterns on the wall: holding you in my bed, i pretend not to thaw. i imagine us floating, in the sweetest possible way.

Simon Rhee

Always the Wind A mariner spreads himself over the rail of his vessel His legs twined with the wood below him
 as if they were just another knot 
taught to him by his father when he was a young boy

 But his hands he lets free
 they billow like sails 
sometimes catching sea foam
 sometimes nothing 
but always the wind

 It whispers at night
 cold and sharp like hoar frost breathing onto sailors and their woodwind vessels The mariner thinks to himself 
one day 
he will move men with a whisper

Samantha Duncan

Cracks in Pavement The wind changes colors with the months, (mothers’ souls in typical blues) and cloaks the empty, like bread dough in a warm pan, waiting to be fawned over, not the ones whose calls I don’t return or open doors to, they’re hollowed, unseen, remain such as they continue to fill unforeseen space and I tend to the clouds about my head that hush winds away.

Faith Counter Sleeping restlessly in the cellulite of Gulliver’s upper leg, I close my eyes to count the stars, whether knowledge is listening, or imagination’s enough for red nights. Faith nests in permanent dust caked on adult children prone to scripted tree houses and well balanced coleslaw recipes.

Stephen Byrne

Ode To A Gourmet Sandwich Never had such a collaboration riled a revolution upon my tongue, and sought a heartbeat of questions. What planes or ships or trucks, carried the fate of this crew, to sit in solitary confinement upon my moonlight plate in the pondering mind of a mad-man? Drifting to a tranquil pasture, did the cow chewing the hour of the day, meet Govinda at the gate of the abattoir? Do the rosy cheeks of the cranberry lakes, shimmer beneath the Canadian moon, awaiting the marriage of sugar? And you, tender slice of a soft wheel, in the perfumed breath of the morning, do you still tickle the hair of French noses? Sucking the veins of this leaf, did the caterpillar who took refuge in the comfort of your crunch, mind the tip toeing of the rain? And what about the baker? Tell us! Before the dawn creeps upon your shoulders, what madness cruises through your machine-beating hands, creating artwork for Edesia, sliced elated perfection. Yes, never had a collaboration sat briefly upon my moonlight plate and asked so many questions.

Josh Crummer

I never went camping with the guys that weekend I didn’t go to her house to watch a movie. I wanted to sleep with a woman every night of my life. Every time I lent money to a friend for Plan B was actually for me, no matter what excuse I gave. I’m afraid of the mailman delivering bills from financial aid. I often worry about marrying a girl that will one day divorce me and take half if she decides I’m bad in bed. How many times I have stared through gym club windows and wished for washboard abs. How many times I look for ring fingers and wonder if that ring marks engagement. I need to get out more. When I eat Oreos I break up the cookies, toss the pieces in a glass of milk, and eat them with a spoon. Sometimes I interpret the world around me as a lifelong movie. I wander Wal-Mart at three am for no discernable purpose whatsoever. Some DVDs on my shelf still have the shrink wrap. The dishes still aren’t done. I secretly idolized Michael Jordan during the mid-90s. There’s always a routine of places I visit daily, from work to my hometown bar where I write these poems. My childhood before 9/11 constantly washes nostalgia over my head. I interpret “make” and “believe” as an attack on the logical. I’d have gotten away with it if not for those meddling kids. I text my entire contact list during wee morning hours in hopes that someone will talk to me. I have an indescribable mood when I lie awake imagining what lies beyond the universe and what death feels like and what a million dollars looks like in real life. How much I would rather live the life of someone else. How much I love my life.

Josh Crummer

Rainstorm Initiation Lazy sunlight haze permeates an anonymous glade, sticky humidity locked in bastions of evergreen oak spreads for miles. A brown Beard-Man leaking holy smoke binds a woman to his coven, a bongo his only witness. He begins: bum bumbah bum bah, ba-ba...bum bumbah bum bah, ba-ba... bum bumbah bum bah, ba-ba...bum bumbah bum bah, ba-ba... Sky measles with gray as mantra summons light drizzle. Field becomes vortex in chant crescendo; downpour rushes down bum, bah, bum bah, ba-ba...bum, bah, bum bah, ba-ba... her nude cross-legged body, her mouth collecting gale force drops. A baby bird; nature's babe drinking deep, she will be nourished. bububum bah, bum bah, ba-ba... And her eyes open, views rain armies crashing leaves cascading to forest and field floors; the weeds and grass sip loudly; dirt becomes mud, buds bloom red, mind melts with drizzle twister, her body a house of aqua violence welting; rustling animals shake wind howls while thunder claps like first dirty orgasm; moans escape as every pore screams pleasure and pain, water and heat, drowning and life, and then! –

bubububumbahbuhbubububumbahbuh BUMP. She will realize she is naked. Crickets Beard-Man will leave her. She will one day leave the forest.

Robert Cantrell

The Carousel Room Past the window’s peeling paint, beyond the boarded door, Fourteen mares pose petrified mid-march. Dust and must cling like coats to their fiberglass flanks. Their ragged, rusted motors hold their poles in place, Doomed never to dance, with no children to charm. Silent are the sobs of the horses whose hooves Once kept time to tunes from a now-tattered tape. Eyes glazed with the grime of a dozen decades Sense several shadows blink past the blinds, And chipped ears hear the clopping of clogs on concrete As the mares’ mournful souls make one last anguished cry: “How can our old friends guiltlessly strut by, After leaving us here in this hell-hole to die?" Zachariah Middleton

Check-out Line off-white linoleum a bright-light malaise the color of dirty dishwater draining from a porcelain sink the checker grabs a pile of apples herds them onto the scale pounds in some numbers and stares vaguely towards the door a dull pain inflamed brain neon vacancy

Christina Murphy

bonfires in a strange paradise bonfires in a strange paradise of deserted streets burnished by moonlight; indifference unflowers as bold as flames that burst and fall into embers in the shadows, the pale face of a lost ghost takes the soul past planets heavy with snow; imaginary longings are no less volatile than the sounds of angelic wings across an abyss of random adjustments the seasons shift in response to human longings; the yellow leaves of autumn are reminders that life is infused with time—the harbinger of our desires and the peace we make with diminishment it is all here in the absence, the illusion that passion returns and replaces the fast speeding of innocent days with images of starting anew, but not as new; think of poor Yorick, the skull of what time does to dreamers and fighters alike; Yorick, his questioning over, his heart and voice silent—Yorick, in the penumbra of decay, knowing that the allure of serenity is the illusion of unity—an ocean that does not feel the tides, only their passing

Nels Hanson

Voyages My memory starts with water, not with Sleeping Child or Lake Chelan but the ocean, the Pacific I dreamed of as a child. Even after I touched the sea, waded in and tasted its salt, felt the going wave rush the sand from under my heels so I thought I raced out away from the land, I remembered dry grass and bare rock. Inland, on that high desert plain, I saw the range of mountains to the west when I woke each morning. On a crescent-shaped sandstone mesa, three lit spires stood up like masts, the middle stone the highest, the formation resembled a sailing ship. It was called “Crucifixion Rock,” or “The Three Kings,” but I imagined it was a boat that had sailed all night as I slept and then returned to harbor to lie anchored with furled sails. Sometimes the setting sun would blur and widen the stone spars until red canvas filled with wind and the schooner sailed off before the night could catch it. I closed my eyes and leapt aboard as ropes were cast away, then climbed to the crow’s nest to make out oceans lost in azure skies, until I breathed the perfume of islands and like shells my ears held the sea.

Chloe Clark

Crush They say that each breath is the hardest— that push, pump, pleasure of release. He once dreamt in demons. They were always in the act of turning but never turned. Red lips plump with blood, dark as syrup, licked by blackened tongues, wet, slicked by saliva. They say that each breath will take longer, rasp and rattle and feel the rush. He dreamt of things in corners, clawed fingers, curved nails, crusted in dirt, in rust sour scabs, and the hands like best to stroke, press, hold down. He dreamt in weight, weight of stones, of bodies, of pressing palms. They say that each breath feels like pleasure but tastes like cold.

Sara Krasnostein

Víteliú! Men in boats From Greece named It for white cows They saw there Like beacons or Temples white In the sun. Calling to Each other Across water About the cows, So many, Familiar but perfect Like holy Mars: Víteliú! That’s my favourite When Stefano Palms tattooed With tannins, Drinking wine He made with His father, And looking like A funny Saint John the Baptist Mimics the calls Breaking off In the wind: Víteliú! When I first Discovered You I called, Because you were Familiar,

My bright perfect Home in the sun: VĂ­teliĂş! Staring up Through leaf lace We drank wine From a bottle Which rested In your shoe. Those grapes, grown From warm ground Where we napped, Return sometimes In bottles Even now.

Craig Getz

Vienna Now, it's just a matter of taking this handful of notes, to wonder how they fit into my life. I would like to believe I took them down for a reason. One that goes back to Virgil's Aeneid, a book I know I'll never read, something spoken by the goddess Juno. One, the title of a painting, one the title of another, one the brief note written on the back of a postcard in 1912. If I cannot bend the high powers, I will move the infernal regions, The Castle in the Sea, Autumn Tree in Turbulent Air and I will telegraph once I know when I will come. For the time being I don't know how long I will stay.

Athena Dixon

Macerating the Berries The simple act of sugaring strawberries standing Saturday mornings over the spilling bowl, plucking each verdant top like a twist cap until the leaves crumbled in my hands leaving the smell of earth and growing things. I cupped each of them, invading the soft fruit with a knife until the white flesh mingled with red juice. Berry after berry, plucked and cut, gathered in a bowl until the moisture pooled at the bottom heavy and thick. Late those afternoons we stood in the kitchen backs against the cool glass block windows, dipping fingers into the syrup, fishing for the plump sections, sucking the liquid from each digit before diving in for more.

Cody Jensen

The City is Lined with Diamonds Kathleen, I thought about you tonight. O, how you dreamt you were a dancer, just because you had the frame. You bounded feet for so long, but all the rolled ankles and the strained milky white thighs couldn’t prove it. You had soul, but we all have soul, I guess. I heard from Arthur that you settled for a morning verse, heavy-handed with headaches and warm plump bodies and frying pans and dishwashers. I am sorry. I dreamt of a new home, too, Kathleen. But I know my face; my face is one that can never make the best of life. I live for the hourly wage and bar tabs. For the gutter-scrapped knees with sore, achey joints that creek and pop, moaning for someone to love them. I could never live sincerely. My cheeks are wet tonight, Kathleen. The city is lined with diamonds; tiny, salty diamonds. I’m nothing more than cotton on a brittle frame, caught in the mad swirl of an American night. America knew she wasn’t for you, Kathleen. She cried out and said she was transparent. she said, “Jack! O, Jack! Can’t you see through me?” I believe, Kathleen, in that moment I could. I saw past her skin and cartilage. I saw past the tangled sinew and bones that held her pretty frame together. I saw through her lungs; I even saw every staccato breath she inhaled. I was at the core of her body. I was at the innocence that frightened her, and I knew I couldn’t help. “O, Christ,” I thought. But Christ wasn’t listening. And neither were you. I thought about you tonight, Kathleen, and I was sorry that I was alone.

Dan Nowak

You talk about the end of the world because you’re convinced the Mayans had it right, that they understood exactly how high a numerical system should be constructed, no Tower of Babel bullshit like we’ve learned in the education factories, so when people prophesize about the end of the world you talk about running off into the woods, but your hands have never seen the rough end of an ax or could even garden really well off our back porch with its direct sunlight so for a long time I just rolled my eyes whenever you began this planning like you would be the only one smart enough to head off to the woods, or be like the rest of America and think you’d be exempt from the zombie/meteor/ice age/nuclear winter/uprising of the atheist apocalypse instead of that plan thought out about as much as growing a red pepper in Wisconsin in February, I will burn myself, my books, my cat (who you left behind), my bondage rope, and my former IRS audits in order to hide myself from whatever comes next

Steven Myers-Yawnick

The Other I jam my naked foot inside this navy blue Sperry boat shoe, this— American classic. But I’ll be honest with you. I’ve never been on a boat in my life. There is no white picket fence outside my house and I hate apple pie. Plymouth Rock was a first grade field trip. My ancestors did not kill any Indians nor did they own any slaves. Sicilian gamblers on my mother’s side. She is a nurse. Jewish refugees on my father’s side. He plays the piano. I grew up on stage, quit beauty school, tattooed La Vie Boheme on my forearm and decided to become a writer— someday, I’ll be called an American classic, too.

Anthony Frame

The Legend of the Misfit Skins It was just a joke. When I tried out for the basketball team, my ripped jeans, my baggy Poe shit, the raven’s claws nearly scratching my breasts. Twelve, I walked toward the gymnasium, anxious to waste the athlete’s precious time with my sloppy passes, my adolescent vandalism turned into performance art. But word traveled quickly and Jennifer met me a block from school, her black track pants and tank top nearly skin tight and just as good as any of our father’s magazines. She punched me in the shoulder, give me her dad’s old army helmet, said I could play Walter Mondale to her Geraldine Ferraro. We’d just given birth to the 1990s and our angry generation wasn’t ready to accept the word impossible. So, we walked in, my scabbed knee pushing through my jeans, Jen’s long legs tan enough to cause blindness, our laughter the first soundtrack we’d ever loved. The coach stared stupidly at the helmet barely held up by my enormous glasses, he sighed as he told me to find a spot for the practice drills. Your girlfriend can watch from the door. Jen snatched the ball from his hands, she tossed it with perfect pitch, the arc smooth enough to make ancient Greeks jealous. I’m here to play, she said as the ball went in, nothing but net. The eighth grade center smiled, That’s fine, we’re playing skins today. Jen took off her tank top, threw it in his square-jawed face. Arms crossed, she stared him down with her pair of stained-glass eyes, her belly button and her sports bra. I’m told the school kids still tell the story, every year. How I played in nothing but shredded jeans and a helmet and a string

of chest hairs, how Jen pushed her way through the army of fingers as I lobbed the ball her way, how the lay-up landed perfectly, her naked shoulders holding her high in the air, so close they could almost touch the overhead lights. They don’t mention the way the center ran as Jen returned to the ground, how he pushed her from behind. They don’t talk about her tooth cracking on the laminate floor, her nose breaking, the blood and spit and mucus pooling in her childish cleavage. These new rebels, in love with our old heroes, our same tired graffiti, as they learn the language of this new millennium is the same as the last one, they lie and wait for the lie to become truth. They say the skins won that night.

Jodie Oakes

The Cutting Board Underground, Time curved a constant grey. You played old jazz On the broken piano, And the cat clawed The violin bow. Once Barefoot gypsy girls Had sold peaches In the road, Rolling over in the dirt, For strangers Selling amber From their pockets. In the old hall We smashed glass bottles Against the hanging man. Gangrene chandeliers, Rusted taffeta, And asbestos silks. In the growing gloom We devoured each other. Starting with a fingernail To gnaw away the hunger. Nibbling on lips and lobes Until we had lost Our features. Blinded By the bombed out skylight, Stripping the skin, To chew soft fat For days. Like Adam You spliced the rib, Your German hunting knife Carved the rim.

The hearts we saved for last. Barely bearing to let them go, Avoiding each other’s Torn out expression, What a feast we made. The ripest fruit Pulped On the cutting board.

Aftab Shaikh

Bricks One woman, alone today, Has a quiz for her mind Her soul leads here, here heart there, And her sense has its own find. The noon is up, sun too hot, Her hungry child wriggles with hunger, Too small to move or play But she has a fifty brick yet To go before her break, At least a fifty bricks to lay, There he beats his slender legs On the sand with thirst, Here she slaps cement on bricks Her heart aching to burst, She chooses bread over blood, For the bread itself was A necessity of her blood.

Thomas Stevenson

Making Memories This time, my camera wasn’t pinched from the side pocket of a canvass jacket as I slobbered the night bus ride away. It wasn’t lost at all, but ground down by the drifting Gibraltar of my thumb when the lens—unexpectedly—came up for air. It amounts to the same: I am left with nothing but my leaking memory (standard-issue, Russian-made) to capture Laos, Vietnam. I’m afraid I will fumble when people ask about the trip, finally offering something I saw on Reuters or made up on the spot. “Is it not better,” I plead in my mind’s kangaroo court, “to download a picture here, a picture there—just to fill the void? Reviewing appropriated pictures one year from now, my eyes will narrow in a moment of dissonance (“Wasn’t that a cloudy day?”) before deciding, “The camera never lies.” But, ten years from now, I will merely nod my assent as the photos flash by on some sycophant’s projector. “That’s the way it was,” I’ll confirm. “The girl in the foreground fixes her hair. The boy in the shallows is catching snakes. The young mother turned her eyes toward me and asked me to show her America.”

Jordan Taylor

Shear I kneel in front of his bathroom sink, knees ground into the gritty beige tile, arms folded in front of me and stuck to the wet ceramic. My head is bowed over the white bowl, pink neck bare, so that he can run his long fingers and the jagged blunt razor through my thick hair. His warm legs press against my back, blue jeans scratching my shoulder blades, no sound but his breathing, loud in our cramped space, and the snick snick tug of the razor, and the whisper of the dull brown strands drifting into the sink. An hour ago this silence had been awkward, but I know when I raise my head to look in the mirror, bright pale face with only the shortest new halo of brown, I will not be the only thing that has transformed.

Kyrie Amos

Shadow of a Doubt

Time clock only tells a tale of regulated Sanity. Shadow nodding in agreement leaning against my back of ill repute. Always siding with everyone but me. Except on this One. For two he knows what I know but with a wry interpretation—suspicious he does not apply all his Weight. Winking and dusting his patronization onto my shoulder. So desperately my brain is rotting with chemically processed Symbolism,

knocked out under a greedy drip of enhanced Creativity. He takes this for what it is. And reluctantly shifts his Weight. So I can s t r e t c h. Stretch out, aching from tossing on this suede couch so delicately unrefined; sunk like his eyes have with Time.

Ricky Gami

Incarnations The silhouette on the men’s room door with pipe and hat and long coat could be my father or not I want him to be sometimes I wish he would smile and stop smoking toss his hat on the rack and just come home

SK Iyer

sound reasoning a metallic clunk with reverberation abruptly brought a droning thought to its knees before a blankness of silence enwrapped it which steams in bends its spine thrust words one by one a long parade in lines in the lazy grey cells a simple recipe of spicy words with simulating conditions... please do not chuckle after leading you to the perch of surprise wonder where did the metallic sound come from is it some odd force meeting an immovable object at home the day-shaped darkness outside declares it is going to rain right away

Michelle Hartman

disenchanted his tongue wove tales nights errant on my skin he gave me cups of moonlight satiny and heavy burn in the back of my throat honey biscuit angel food cake a cottage in the woods breeze chasing its tail swaying branches a cathedral choir morning scramble for clothing light too bright bird song rancorous and his words torture my ears up at the castle she can’t remember his name introduces him with an adjective laughs when he complains work is done I feel like an ugly toad a few deceitful kisses then flung into the swamp

Ann Howells

Lolly says: way deep in bramble arms wavin’ I’m almos’ swimmin’ thorns tuggin’ my shorts an’ scratchin’ up my legs I don’t even think ‘bout ticks or chiggers jus’ stretch an’ pick ‘cause if I fill my pail Cliffie’ll make cobbler so it’s two for the bucket an’ one for me ‘cept sometimes I sneak an extra one … or two ummm fat an’ purple I’m barefoot but I ain’t scairt Pap says that ol’ blacksnake is more ‘fraid of me than I am of him but my heart banged hard as Pap’s big hammer when a bunny jumped from ‘tween the roots anyways, these bramble grow right up to the rip rap where I’m not s’posed to go Cliffie says I’ll fall in an’ drown but I’m a good climber an’ real careful too pennywinkles an’ tiny little crabs live in the rip rap an’ big barnacles, mussels an’ seaweed soft an’ brown like mermaid hair when Cliffie says little pitchers have big ears

it means I’m not s’posed to hear I’ve watched the men pull out drowned people with a boat hook they’re all white an’ puffy crabs and things eat their fingers toes an’ lips an’ eyeballs ‘til skin flutters in little ribbons I waited an’ waited to do my pickin’ first teeny white flowers then little red bumps that grew an’ grew all summer if I dream the drowned people dream Cliffie lets me sleep in her bed but I am six now I sleep in my own bed mostly my mama drowned—but not here we didn’ find out ‘til after she was buried Cliffie says I’m probably better off she was jus’ trash anyway I don’ pick no red berries they’re powerful sour preacher says us kids are heathens half-dressed an’ unminded he scolded Cliffie after church said we don’ turn out for Wednesday night service or come to prayer circle Cliffie says don’ pay no mind he’s jus’ a city boy we go to church up to Valley Lee now still jus’ Sundays Cliffie says that’s plenty praying for one week I wonder what it’d be like to drown an’ crabs eat your toes

my mouth an’ fingers are all purple an’ the butterfly I caught left sparkle-dust in my hand I don’ eat crabs no more but Pap says catfish are scavengers too an’ I eat them my daddy lives in Alabama I wonder if blackberries grow this thick down there

Vishnu Rajamanickam

Empty Batteries It was the lit yellow windows that pained my eyes. I stood shrouded, with a torch huddled in my clammy dead hands. I could see laughter around me and hear creepy locusts flying from the sickly hardwood trees nearby. The infected plant lay gasping - dying; and that pain was contagious. The old carbon batteries bickered and darkness pulled her veil on my life, as the dog howled at the long shadows formed on the fast-melting snow.

Don Illich

Wave Those of us who leaped atop it didn't gain what we thought we would. None of us learned how to cruise like a shark or float at rest like a jellyfish. The weather didn't blast us with wind and lightning, so we'd know how to destroy ourselves equally. We didn't dream ourselves into a death no one could've prevented, become reborn as life at the bottom of the sea. We just saw what couldn't be seen anywhere else, the islands and continents as they should be feared, huge monsters of land that swallowed the living. They weren't safe when quicksand reached out for you, earthquakes tore you into bits of less than nothing. What we feared was the wave dissolving below us, becoming one with the surface of the waters. All creatures great and small would have their revenge, remembering nets we sunk and the gas we burned inside the currents. No one would remember our burial, just the day we went missing, aboard a wave we believed would take care of our last, awful problems. How it could free our bodies with movement, like being shot from a cannon, propelled through oceans without end, without despair of falling prostrate across beaches as if hit, our limbs shocked by electricity.

Allie Marini Batts

koi ponds and cathedrals He said he wanted to be like a koi pond: an aquatic garden fashioned by hand, not indigenous to the landscape, the Zen and feng shui of their placement with one another carefully controlled, peaceful. Water lilies and koi, cattails and carp, hornwart, apple snails: flora and fauna which feed off the waters, still like our lips at rest. There is blanket weed beneath, growing hot and fast, clogging the flow of the rain garden— there is no serenity in what we build in the backyard and keep there, quietly and alone. He said she wants to be a cathedral, awe-inspiring from every angle and faith: stained glass, shooting out colored shadows of the Lord Christ and His Apostles. the sun and atmosphere, reverent to the tricks of prisms. There are no apple snails at prayer, no water lilies or hornwart offered up in tithings. Incense and hushed rosaries feed off the peace of the faithful, Byzantine mosaics two-dimensioned and grand like limbs entwined in nightsheets. There is the serenity only of stone in the belltower: my midnight Hosannas, sung sweetly to fall upon God's ears You are wrong, she slapped out, her kiss one last time to his cheek, his mouth, a nibble like the mouth of a carp, kissing down the cinders of sunlight, the pathways down her cheeks marked slick like those of apple snails. I want to be the ocean, the salt and the sand, weighing down your clothes and freeing you as you dive in. Swim here and forget feng shui, float with the seaweed and me, the stained glass of waves and surf moving and different and alive with your breaststrokes. I want to be the ocean, she said, not waiting to see if he followed her into the tidepool.

Ruth Quinlan

Still Here The clothes he left behind, An oversized jumper, a woollen scarf, Worn in college when the loss was fresh, The imprint of his shape becoming mine. The fabric folds smelled familiar, at night I breathed them in to help me sleep, New grief comforted by old belongings His collections of small things, Pens, penknives, watches, Trinkets hoarded and rarely used, Kept precious in cupboard boxes Which I sort and sift through, Seeking talismans To ward away amnesia My reflection in the mirror, The blue-grey of my eyes, The sweep of my forehead, The slope of my shoulders, Even the hair that greyed too early, And the thin line of my lips, I recognise him when I smile He is still here.

Danna Hobart

Recess The sun baked through the denim of my wrap-around skirt as I waited my turn at hopscotch. The key to my bike chain was my marker for the game. It never landed outside the box. Dandelions turned the playground into a white carpet of puff balls. We twirled around in them like ballerinas and wished for bubblegum, Barbies, and breasts, before we blew their seeds off to root in someone’s yard. We were 4th grade girls; a summer too old to climb on monkey bars or swing from rings. We talked about boys, but never to them. Sometimes we played jacks in the corridor. The chill of shaded concrete seeped through polyester dresses as we bounced past onsies and twosies. There were times we’d play handball against the backside of the boy’s bathroom wall. After lunch the scent of hot dirt stung my nose, while we played volleyball and whispered about how Sally Trubaugh had to wear a bra. When the bell rang, we were a line of gangly arms and legs in bell bottoms and peasant dresses.

Then one day, I threw my bike key too hard; it vanished in the grass. Grandpa had to cut the chain off my bike, and nothing ever seemed to land inside the box again.

John Kazlauskas

2(x)=y sitting in algebra class I thought of you as if the equation on the board was alive.

Paradox you cannot be the other inside the same the other is not you the same is me always not the other but you...not me always inside the other is you... now together we are.

Taylor Pangman

Surface of a Desk The desk’s surface is not a frozen lake. It is nothing else. It is brown and smooth and reflects Wallace Stevens. Outside the window, on the smooth surface of a frozen lake, a skater skates like eyes across the surface of a desk, covered by a book.

Sarah O'Toole

New Year's Day 2011 sleek with renegade yearning chill and absolute as surrender I lead the absurd form towards its favourite comfort a rising, a shining, a crashing a collapse the simple skin stoic as mystery trembles into memory

James Piatt

The Iron Horse In the ambiguity Of darkness The haunting Voice of The iron horse Vanishes into my Future memories.

Absolution As pine needles lacing Damp red earth, and Berries strewn Like brown and red jewels Gently cover the scarlet Pain of past absurdities, and Like white foam of An incoming azure tide Covers brown kelp and Colorful seashells, The dimness of The holy confessional box Covers the errors of Life.

Contributors Barbara Adams: Kyrie Amos: Kyrie Amos is an emerging writer located in the eclectic, whimsical town of Athens, Georgia. She has been writing since the ripe age of thirteen and has finally decided to take the leap. Her style is much like her personality, unchained. Free from convention and "normality," she writes from a place within her soul that beckons to be heard and understood. Her goal is to deliver a minds eye view of the raw depths of the imagination, forcing readers to really look inside themselves.

Allie Marini Batts: Allie Marini Batts came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and she's ALL out of bubblegum. She is a 2001 alumna of New College of Florida, which means she can explain deconstructionism, but cannot perform simple math. Her work has appeared in over forty literary magazines that her family hasn't heard of. She has lived in Florida, Maine and Washington state, but thinks the best trees to climb are in Tallahassee. She is a research writer when she’s not playing with her make-believe friends. Allie is pursuing her MFA degree in Creative Writing through Antioch University Los Angeles and oh no! it's getting away! To read more, visit

Eleanor Leonne Bennett: Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 15 year old photographer and artist who has won contests with National Geographic,The Woodland Trust, The World Photography Organisation, Winstons Wish, Papworth Trust, Mencap, Big Issue, Wrexham science , Fennel and Fern and Nature's Best Photography.She has had her photographs published in exhibitions and magazines across the world including the Guardian, RSPB Birds , RSPB Bird Life, Dot Dot Dash ,Alabama Coast , Alabama Seaport and NG Kids Magazine (the most popular kids magazine in the world). She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run See The Bigger Picture global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010.Only visual artist published in the Taj Mahal Review June 2011. Youngest artist to be displayed in Charnwood Art's Vision 09 Exhibition and New Mill's Artlounge Dark Colours Exhibition.

Stephen P. Byrne: Stephen P. Byrne is an emerging writer of Poetry in Galway in the wild West of Ireland as well as a chef by trade. He has performed at Over the Edge Poetry Readings and participated in Masterclasses with Simon Armitage. This is his first publication.

Robert Cantrell: Robert Cantrell, a 17 year old writer, hails from Staunton, Virginia and keeps busy writing poetry/short stories and performing in Shakespeare's plays. While he is new to the publishing game; he is excited that his piece "Decomposition" will be featured in the April 2012 issue of Short, Fast and Deadly.

Chloe Clark: Chloe N. Clark is the assistant editor-in-chief of REDzine and blogs as Pints and Cupcakes. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Fogged Clarity, Interrobang, Sliver of Stone, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Prick of the Spindle, Utter, Shaking Like a Mountain, and Verse Wisconsin.

Josh Crummer: Josh Crummer is, at the time of this publication, a first-year graduate student at Central Michigan University. He is currently pursuing an MA in Creative Writing with a Poetry focus.

Athena Dixon: Athena Dixon is Prose Editor/Co-Founder of Specter Literary Magazine, Poetry Editor of The Reprint, and a managing Editor for Z-Composition. Her work has appeared in Pluck!, Blast Furnace, Tawdry Bawdry, among others, and is forthcoming in several publications

Samantha Duncan: Samantha Duncan was recently published by Furniture Press Books, A Handful of Stones and Everyday Other Things. She lives in Houston, Texas.

Anthony Frame: Anthony Frame ( is an exterminator who lives in Toledo, Ohio with his wife. His chapbook, Paper Guillotines, was published by Imaginary Friend Press and his poems have been published in Harpur Palate, Blood Orange Review,

Third Coast, and The Meadowland Review, among others. He is also the co-founder/coeditor of Glass: A Journal of Poetry.

Ricky Garni: Ricky Garni is the author of THE ETERNAL JOURNALS OF CRISPY FLOTILLA, MY FAVORITE FIFTEEN PRESIDENTS, and BUTTERSCOTCH ZERO, which will be released this Fall. He lives in Carrboro, North Carolina.

Craig Martin Getz: Craig Martin Getz (Willlingboro, NJ, 1964) grew up mostly in LA but has been living in Barcelona, Spain since 1989. English teacher. Member to the Governing Body of the European Youth Parliament. Photographer. Several exhibitions in Spain. Traveler. Poetry can be found in the online journals of DIAGRAM, Mastodon Dentist; the print journals of Blue Earth Review and BCN Writing.

Nels Hanson: Nels Hanson has worked as a farmer, teacher, and contract writer/editor. He graduated from UC Santa Cruz and the University of Montana and his fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award. His stories have appeared in Antioch Review, Texas Review, Black Warrior Review, Southeast Review, Montreal Review, and other journals. Poems have appeared in Big Moon, Language and Culture, Angelfire, and Symmetry Pebbles, and poems are in press at Meadowland Review, vox poetica, and Atticus Books. Hanson lives with his wife, Vicki, on the Central Coast of California.

Michelle Hartman: Michelle Hartman has been published in multiple journals such as Raleigh Review, San Pedro River Review, Pacific Review, Concho River Review, Main Street Rag Journal, and anthologies, like the recent In Walt McDonald Country (San Pedro River Review Press), The Weight of Addition (Mutabilis Press). Overseas in The SHOp, Ireland, Blue Print Review, Germany, Five Poetry Journal, Australia and I was a juried poet in the 2009 Houston Poetry Festival. She holds a BS in Political Science-Pre Law from Texas Wesleyan University and a Certificate in Paralegal Post Grad studies and is the editor of the online journal, Red River Review.

Danna Hobart: Danna Hobart lives in California. She is a full-time writer and perpetual student. Her poetry is her life's journal, it has been published in magazines and journals such as Events Quarterly, Problem Child, Ink Pot, Cadenza, and in the anthologies, Dream Books of

Dreams, Feeling is First, and Ink Angels. Her first novel, Morning Star was published by Whiskey Creek Press. It is her personal story of her journey through postpartum depression that teetered on the edge of postpartum psychosis. She is currently working on her second novel, her grandmother's autobiography, while she continues to journal her life through poetry.

Ann Howells: Ann Howells has edited Illya's Honey poetry journal for thirteen years. She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart and once for a Best of the Web. Her chapbook, Black Crow in Flight, was published by Main Street Rag in 2007. Her work has recently appeared in Borderlands, Calyx, RiverSedge and San Pedro River Review. She has work upcoming in Barbaric Yawp, Cenzio, Five Poetry Journal (Australia) and Tidal Basin Review.

Donald Illich: Donald Illich has published work in LIT, Passages North, Nimrod, and other journals. He was a semi-finalist for the Boston Review/'Discovery' Poetry Contest. He lives in Rockville, Md.

SK Iyer: SK Iyer, a commerce graduate, is presently leading a retired but busy life in Pune, India. Several of his poems have been published/are forthcoming in Poetry Kit Magazine, Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Magnapoets, StepAway Magazine, mgversion2>datura, Fade, WestWard Quarterly, Pens on Fire, Heavy Hands Ink, Red Poppy Review, Red River Review, Poetry Kite, Poetry24, Sarasvati, Camel Saloon etc. He is a member of PK Poetry List, UK.

Cody Jensen: Cody Jensen is an emerging writer from Utah. This is his first publication.

John Kazlauskas: John Kazlauskas is a retired teacher who lives in Tucson where he paints, writes, swims and cooks. This is his first publication.

Sarah Krasnostein: Sarah Krasnostein is a 32 year old Australian/American dual citizen, lapsed lawyer, doctoral candidate and writer. She lives in Melbourne Australia and writes from a 100 year old house where she lives with 2 terriers and a comedian.

Kate LaDew: Kate LaDew is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art.

Cameron LaFlam: Cameron LaFlam graduated from Seattle University in 2011. He has published several poems, "Only in the utmost dark" and "the winded apple-blossomed boughs are burning down" in Seattle University's annual literary and arts journal Fragments.

Coop Lee: Coop Lee has been published in Specter Literary Magazine and Ginger Piglet Press.

Steven Myers-Yawnick: Steven Myers-Yawnick is a writer currently living in Central Florida. He recently received his BA in English from the University of Central Florida. This is his first publication.

Zachariah Middleton: Zachariah Middleton is a writing student at George Fox University in Newberg, OR. He is also a cook at a food cart. His poems have been published in Pilgrimage Magazine, Gloom Cupboard and Cartographer Literary Review.

Christina Murphy: Christina Murphy lives and writes in a 100 year-old Arts and Crafts style house along the Ohio River (USA). She continues to be amazed at how the Arts and Crafts movement—like the painter Piet Mondrian-- found such artistic integrity (and solace) in straight lines and simple (yet complex) forms. She tries to emulate the same idea in her poetry. Her poems have appeared in a range of journals and anthologies, including, most recently, PANK, Poetry Quarterly, POOL, Contemporary World Poetry, MUSE, MiPOesias, Quantum Poetry Magazine, Blue Fifth Review, and Counterexample Poetics, among others.

Bryony Noble: Bryony Noble is a full time student at the University of Portsmouth studying English and Creative Writing. He has been writing ever since he was nine years old when he started his now completed novel Eleanor of Mountfitchet. His first published short story was in Red House Young Writer's Handbook 2006, his review of Phillip Reeve's Here

Lies Arthur was published in 2008 by the Sunday Express newspaper, and in 2010, he was made Guest Writer on Bookseeker Agency website.

Dan Nowak: Dan Nowak is the editor at Imaginary Friend Press and on the editorial staff at New Sins Press. He is the author of three books of poetry. Dan lives in Milwaukee where he drinks beer, makes beer, reads poems, and makes poems.

Jodie Oakes: Jodie Oakes ran away several years ago on a night train to Paris with a boy she loved, since then they have never stopped moving or writing. They have hitch hiked across the continent, slept in bush, beach and briar. She loves devouring books, traveling, surfing and making zines.

Sarah O'Toole: Sarah O'Toole hails from the West of Ireland and teaches theatre and playwrighting to adults as well as directing, acting in and writing the occasional play. She originally wanted to be a poet and was winner of the Aran Islands/Hillstead poetry competition in 1997, travelling to America and reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival with other emerging poets from both sides of the Atlantic. At the time she was also doing a lot of singer-songwriting but got sidetracked by all things theatrical and hi-jacked by a love of techno DJing. So it is only now in 2012 that she is returning to her first love and is delighted to be picking things up by being published for the first time in Emerge Literary Journal.

Taylor Pangman: Taylor Pangman is an English major and Creative Writing minor at SUNY Oswego. He is passionately interested in reading and writing poetry.

James Piatt: Dr. Piatt earned his B.S. and M.A. from California State Polytechnic University, and his doctorate from Brigham Young University. He is a retired professor. Two of his relatives, John James Piatt and Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, were prolific poets who wrote their poetry in the mid eighteen hundreds. Their poems inspired him to write poetry. James was the featured poet in Word Catalyst Magazine in 2009, and Contemporary American Voices in 2010. Long Story Short selected one of his poems for the poem of the month in 2011; Phati’tude Literary Magazine in their spring 2011 issue featured an interview with him. He has had over 200 poems, published in over four

dozen magazines during the past two years. His two books of poetry are forthcoming in July.

Ruth Quinlan: Ruth Quinlan is currently studying for an MA in Writing at the National University of Galway, Ireland. She holds a BA in Law and European Studies and a postgraduate diploma in Technical Communications. She ended up working in IT for twelve years before seeing the error of her ways and going back to college to do the MA.

Vishnu Rajamanickam: Vishnu Rajamanickam's poetry and short fiction have appeared in various literary journals like scissors and spackle, Masque of the Red Death, Threelinepoetry, Marco Polo, Foliate Oak and numerous local magazines in India. He is presently an undergraduate student of Civil Engineering in National Institute of Technology - Trichy (NIT-T) in India. He loves listening to music and enjoys cooking up poems in his spare time. The author could be contacted at or at his Facebook account

Simon Rhee: Simon Rhee is a poet out of San Diego. He has been published in Cold Press Publishing, TwoReview and Carty's Poetry Journal.

Kevin Ridgeway: Kevin Ridgeway is a writer from Southern California, where he resides in a shady bungalow with his girlfriend and their one-eyed cat. Mr. Ridgeway's latest chapbook of poetry, Burn through Today, is now available from Flutter Press.

Jen Schmitz: Jen Schmitz is a high school English teacher with an MFA from Roosevelt University in Chicago. She considers herself lucky to have school breaks for reading, writing, and lots of traveling.

Aftab Shaikh: Thomas Stevenson: Thomas Stevenson graduated magna cum laude with degrees in Psychology and Political Science from Vassar College. Subsequently, he received an MSc in Criminal Justice from Oxford University. Stevenson has been writing poetry since the age of eight--but never seriously sought publication. However, while at Oxford, a friend

encouraged him to enter a university-wide "poetry slam." Stevenson placed second. Then, his college awarded him its annual honorific, the McKay Poetry Prize. Encouraged by this recognition, he has decided to actively share his writing in future.

Jordan Taylor: Jordan Taylor is an emerging writer, artist, and college student. She primarily writes prose, yet has found that things can be said through poetry which cannot be said any other way.

Emerge Literary Journal, Issue Two