epâ&#x20AC;˘iâ&#x20AC;˘sodâ&#x20AC;˘ic [adjective] divided into separate or tenuously related parts or sections; loosely connected Some events are larger than others, fleshed with more details, seeming to inspire more intrigue, seeming more fit for a story; but when we focus only on those events we cheat ourselves of the fullness of our own lives. Dig in to the smaller events: those we struggle to title, the experiences we tuck away into the corners, the images we witness and move on from in the same passing instant. There are jewels to be found there. As we collect them, we may find that every day is made up of a series of small, easily-missed beauties and insights threaded together by a common miracle: our lives.
Issue 5 No Theme
Episodic Issue 5 No Theme Copyright ÂŠ April 2014 by Episodic Magazine Artists All rights reserved Founder & Head Editor: Cheyenne Varner Managing Editor: Naomi Zewde Literary Arts Editor: Renia White Visual Arts Editor: Alyson Fraser Social Media Manager: Mike Hobson Cover Design: Cheyenne Varner Cover Photography: Cheyenne Varner Thanks also to Dawn Lawrence for directing Episodes, weekly photo/writing shorts on episodicmag.tumblr.com Fonts (in order of appearance): Code Light, Goudy Old Style, Great Vibes Episodic Definition: Dictionary.com, LLC Design and Layout: Cheyenne Varner
Portfolios Artists I. Elif Araf Yal覺m . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 II. Dorothy Schultz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 III. Tiffany Nguyen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
& More I. MaryAnn McCarra-Fitzpatrick . . . . . . . . . 27 II. Mekiya Walters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 III. Sarah Richmond . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 IV. Ken Green . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 V. Darren C. Demaree . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Elif Araf Yal1m
Ya l 覺 m
Ya l 覺 m
Ya l 覺 m
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Bamboo Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been lonely for a very long time, so I bought a nice spruce bamboo plant at the local grocery store for twelve dollars and seventeen cents to make up for it. I happily scanned it through one of those impersonal check-yourself-out machines to occupy the space beside my dainty keyboard and to be all chummy and cheerful while I chicken-peck these little lines. The truth is I knew I wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to do much to keep it alive. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even have to talk to it unless I feel like telling it about my humdrum life full of average daytimes and average scenes. I do hope this foreign plant outlives me to be more. I tell it so everyday, Whispering fantastic notions inside its thin bamboo crevices like a friendly panda bear gnawing away, but gently.
Circling the Void I open my eyes wide to it. I will myself into it. This is the part in the book where Jane Eyre leaves Thornfield where everything happens at once. The door swings open and shuts and now I am on the street without you feeling with every nerve. The telephone lines wring with my hands down to my feet. Of course it is raining. I walk between each rain drop into the only dry place on the street. The bus stop gleams like a gold tooth in a black mouth. I sit on its hard tongue and wait for my future to swallow me in steel. To use me as fuel for some dark purpose. I hold my cell phone in my palm to have something to hold onto.
It lights up flashing like the lightning bugs I used to catch as a child when there was nothing yet to worry about. You are already texting apologetic fragments. Even from here I can hear you talking aloud. I can hear your breath heaving your thumbs pressing down on each key. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m convinced you can hear my thoughts. I turn my cell phone off. The stoplight across the street changes to green even though there are no cars to go through it. The night continues falling in degrees. It rains like black Gothic stones collapsing in heaps. I get up and circle the block. This is the night I fall into and out of. Where everything happens at once.
Matisse Discussing His Cut-Outs The world is made up of many shapes. It is only now in my old age that I find the time to study each one like a rare text and really study it. When I learn a new shape I take my scissors out and carefully cut along the dotted line surrounding my heart. I cut out an oval for your face. Red coral a horse and carriage trapeze swings and white torsos. Paper leaves, fruits, and birds cover my sick bed like a fresh garden quilt. I cut the evening sky out of black and blue paper and Icarus out from the stars. Before bed every night I close my eyes and tuck myself into
the empty spaces my cut-outs leave behind. I do this so even when I die there will be a shape that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t quite resemble me but is me even still on the windowsill where the cat sat or on the hillside where the sun rose and in these empty spaces you will see where I have spent my life. I tell you now and for the one and only time this is how I cut-out my heart every day of my life. This is how I loved in pieces.
The White Deer
The Seneca White Deer are a rare herd living within the confines of the former Seneca Army Depot in Seneca County, New York. My grandfather claims he was the first to see these so-called ghosts of the forest. One appeared before his army cot one night, nuzzled him awake, and told him where to find my grandmother, dressed in white and sleeping in the tall grass along the 24-mile fence perimeter. He walked those 24 miles in nothing but his long underwear. And when he got there, all he could do was stare at her snow-white beauty and wonder how he could have lost her in the years. He didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have the heart to wake her. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the kind of man my grandfather is. Because war is about nothing more than learning how to lose. This great herd of white coats, the ghosts of his losses, nuzzle him awake in the dead of night to roam the neighborhood in search of her.
Rain The rain sounds like little feet running. I am happy to be inside where I can touch you freely. Between rain drops we giggle like school children telling white lies, twisting our bodies into purposeful knots. Kiss me as much as you want. When the rain stops then weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll sleep.
Editor’s Note What can I write about No Theme? Anything, I suppose. That’s the point. I can write about my blue Smith-Corona Ebay-purchased typewriter, Cora, her drying black ribbon, the typed-upon page in her grasp, imprinted with deeply felt poems and notes. I can write about the haunting undulating notes of a song I don’t know creeping in under the door of my room from the room next door, where my housemate, I imagine, lies on her stomach grading her English students’ papers. I can write about how I cannot wrap my mind around anything lately, just loosely braid it in weavings that fray and undo. I can write about the glorious time of day when a room doesn’t need a light turned on, just the curtains pulled. And the time shortly after, when I begin squint at the pages of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or hold East of Eden too close to my face, but refuse to get up, clinging to the feel of the remaining, lessening light. I can write about having nothing to write. Sitting legs crossed with my computer in my lap, staring at my Tumblr dashboard, imagining a fury of angry tangled black lines drawing themselves over my head as I stew in my wordlessness. I can write about anything. It doesn’t have to be great. But it could be. That’s the point. Write about everything, and often. Write a lot of it. Most of it won’t be great, probably. But it could be. Possibly. And some of it will be. Definitely. Eventually. If you give it time. Let it breathe. Let it bloom. But don’t push it. Or do. I don’t know. I’m not the boss of you. Cheyenne Varner
Night Watching when heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gone she clock-watches, a sullen student of timetables, every silver minute of each golden hour, calculating the time away from her side, the slow embrace of dawn yet to come, the eggs slipped into hissing fat crackling back, sliding onto a plate, the atmosphere thick with coffee and the music of teaspoons still in the future another quarter-hour past and her face stares back from the pane of inky black, searching for a single light, quickly turning to straighten the shoeboxes, the quilt too, the field of blue/white/blue/white/blue white atop the bed, geometries of angled folds, origami layers folding and unfolding, turned down again
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Wind Will Be Wind I Sky lies down like a man drunk on the sound of a bone growing. Earth wakes up each morning like a freshly ploughed wound. Who will play the sheet tonight, who the cloud-stuffed pillow? II The compass is round. The only problem is names. The ultimate solvent is bed, but names regrow, perennial tumors in the dawn. Only the (sea)bed keeps its darkness year round, deep down, in lieu of trickster fish and phototropic love. No one constructed a ship, raised a sail, or scratched labels into the corners of maps thinking of this. III Geometry plays both sides of the compass. The ports lie on the maps like dying birds. Home is a piece of earth where names wriggle down like roots.
Beneath the sky, women lie prostrate and prone with hands tucked into churches. Some forget: beneath the ocean lies more earth. IV Separate is not equal, not round. Variation emerges from lines. Hot/white, black/cold (burning like unsustainable coals). Pressure gradients are the nameless mothers of winds. Necessary evil is redundant. All that is necessary is evil. V Some winds have no names, and so get mocked by Boreus and Zephyr. Kaikias and Skiron join in from mulattoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s necessity. Even Circius picks at the bones. Mathematicians give solace, alone in their eminent neutrality. Mathematicians are round. VI Round the numbers, leave behind the brains. Man turns out the bedside lamp, turns on the dark
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like a patchwork sky with a hole. Space ebbs in. He must explore, he must discover lines, but certain roads are known only to the unabashedly insane, and certain directions only faced by lovers growing cold after a night-long argument. VII A map fits in the pocket. A metaphor fits in the mind. Draw your conclusions on an etch-a-sketch, if need be. Cartographers justify sand. The bed is a market. Realities hang on its stalls like saffron scarves, or bleached hides left to tan. Currencies of hypnosis and oxytocin race across screens and crash like fired clay pigeons or airplanes into the sea. The planet is round. We are all nameless and ashamedly insane.
The Jackhammers* They turned my water off today. Now my head sits drying on my shoulders like a fruit. My brain’s lost weight. My skin’s begun to crack. Brain, skull, Russian dolls: one inside the other, and useless.
When will the water come back on? They don’t tell me these things.
I turn faucet handles like motorcycle brakes, and close my eyes to listen for a splutter. Copper drops sit in the sink, audacious as baby birds, daring me to drown them. When no one watches, the water will come back on and sit in the pipe, chuckling, as we assume the spigot slack. It will come out sharp and muddy, strangled on its own pride, tasting of business and chrome, and leached-out earth.
I must have missed the pamphlets.
From my porch I watch the road crews— jackhammers biting pavement under sun. Chips of asphalt spatter wavering air. God, my throat is parched.
*First published by Middle Gray Magazine.
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Coated with that thick flour dust of roadwork and summer. Hard orange hats beat back the sun. Yellow vests arch under the weight of sweat. They lean on angry machines and melt. They never send pamphlets.
Alice 1 We used to play on the big bug, Alice, blue-with-silver-underneath, chipping. In the hot months her bonnet cooked the air, made it sizzle. We held our hands close, not touching. In the cold we’d crunch around in heavy coats through gravel, frosted grass, leaves. We’d play Pretend Games with Pretend Names while the wind got in our hair— play the Whatever Game, while Alice watched from her gray gravel armchair, pale yellow grass, hard dirt. White bird droppings cover her bonnet, windshield glazed over now, reflecting only shadows and clouds. 2 She wouldn’t die even when the mice built nests in her drive shaft, and the hornets infested her steering wheel leather— wouldn’t die even after I cleaned her engine: half an hour with a garden hose up her tailpipe, and if that’s obscene now well, we were kids then, cleaner.
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3 We practiced driving on long nowhere roads. We practice driving still. We chased each other around Alice, scrambled on her bonnetâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; her radio antenna snapped off, became a sword. We cut our friendship in half, and for years it bled unreturned phone calls. 4 Maple seeds fell on the little bug, Alice. We sold her body, an organ donor, but sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s left a stain on my yard, rectangular, yellow where only discolored grass grows. I work my jigsaw puzzles alone now, but some of my pieces are missing.
The Road Trip and the Roses My grandmother died in the early summer months of 2013. I was left, at 28, an orphan for the second time. Weeks before she left me, I sat beside her hospital bed, listening to the rasp of her respirator and clinging to her hands as though the needy warmth of my fingertips might reignite her soul. One morning, as I leafed through the untouched books on her metal bedside table, I came across dried rose petals. They transported me back to my very first summer of orphanhood. That yo-yo summer of 1999 was a dizzying season of ups and downs. My mother died shortly before my fourteenth birthday and I was left cracked, like a creme brûlée, oozing emotion all over the carpet in my grandparent’s lounge. The strange Johannesburg days were sharp and pungent. We all wilted alongside the limp leeks in salads left untouched on the dining room table and perspired beside the sweaty cheese quiches. More motorcar accidents were reported that season than any other I remember, the heat-drugged drivers swerving tires and smashing metal along the roads leading to and from the crowded holiday beaches. The salad makers and cheese quiche bakers - cousins, friends, coworkers and neighbours who had spent the week ringing our doorbell and mourning in crowded huddles, left in a mass migration the morning after the funeral. Our small house turned on its head in the sudden silence. I could hear my pulse banging marimba beats on the side of my skull. My grandmother peered at me from her usual seat at the left hand corner of the oak breakfast nook. Her boiled egg was drip-dropping from the end of a toast soldier, congealing into a solid blonde wig on the head of a bald Afrikaner politician on the front page of the morning paper. `He looked better bald,` she glanced down and laughed. `Now he looks a bit like a blonde Barry Manilow.` It had been decided that my younger brother would spend the summer with my grandfather and uncles, doing things with power tools and pots of matte wall paint in the secret rituals of male bonding. My grandmother and I were sent on a road trip up to our rural and remote house in the dry bushveld along the border of Mozambique and South Africa. We left that morning- one week, three hours and twenty-six minutes after my mother’s death, and drove north for six hours in an old model BMW as wide and expansive as a silver boat. The car was mottled with the dents and scratches, scars and war wounds sustained in the battles of reverse parking. The wind was like nothing I had felt
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before, hot and sweet and humid enough to make bread rise on the backseat, but with sudden fresh bites that lifted my skirt and blew up my bare legs perched on the dashboard. The dirt road rose and dipped underneath us as the tires rounded the bend and passed between the riverbanks that led into the driveway. We had driven this route many times before and my body anticipated every bump, my shoulder bracing for each impact by leaning into the padded doorframe, as though there was a sensory map written into my muscles. I savoured each jolt. This was to be our final trip to a place I had spent most of my barefoot, wild childhood days and I felt the loss like a lump sitting in the back of my throat, tasting as bitter as if I had swallowed a whole lemon. The expense of two suddenly orphaned grandchildren meant that things had to be sold, consolidated and liquidated to keep the family afloat. After the sharp curve at the riverbankâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s end, we drove another two kilometers on the dry sandy shore. I was unbuckling my seat belt as the house came into view, when my grandmother suddenly let out a small gasp and jammed the car to a halt. `What on earth is this?` She leapt from her seat and marched into the front garden with her hands on her hips. I opened my passenger door slowly, looking into the dusk for passing lions. Whatever she had seen had to have been sizable for my grandmother, the headmistress of a girlsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Catholic school who slept with her favourite rulebook under her pillow lest she encountered a dream that required discipline, to storm off into an untamed garden full of African wildlife without so much as shutting her door. By the time I caught up with her, she had bush whacked her way off the paved path and was crouched low down in the dirt, peering through a small clearing into the undergrowth. She had lost her marbles. And they had rolled into the grass. `Can you see them?` `What am I looking for?` She glanced up at me and pursed her lips. `Can you see the roses!` The thirsty province we were in was just a few thunderstorms away from being classified a desert, yet my grandmother had managed to find herself a bunch of roses? It was almost sundown by now and the thicket was losing its definition, the individual leaves and thorns dissolving into a high, black wall that devoured everything in its reach. Yet, squinting through the twilight, I spotted the flowers. A dozen hybrid tea rosessoft milk tea coloured petals and velvet apricot blooms- bobbing heads in the dry evening breeze. Suddenly I knew why my grandmother was acting so out of character and had
slammed her foot down onto the breaks of her car. There was only one person we knew who had the ability to coax roses out of arid ground. I grew up in a house opposite an old warehouse of the Johannesburg municipal garden association and my mother would spend her Sunday afternoons rescuing forgotten plants housed in cracked terra-cotta pots and black plastic trays of abandoned seedlings. There was no rhyme or rhythm to her landscaping, the garden was a disorganised spread of flora that flourished under her care, each sunflower turning to face her instead of that other glowing orb high up in the sky. It is often said that these kinds of plant whisperers - those who talk even the hopeless seeds into growing and blooming - have green fingers. My mother’s fingers seemed to be formed from plants themselves. She could lightly caress bulbs and seedlings into life with her slight fingers; fingers as thin and slender as smooth tendrils of fern. Our chaotic garden at the house in the city was overgrown with knee-high bristling bushes, towering trees so old the bark appeared to be sculpted from sheets of flaky papyrus paper and bright spurts of colour in the pansy and tulip beds, all slapdash and intermingling like a party of strangers who were drunk on the sunshine. In the fading dusk of the game-park garden, my grandmother’s usually pale face had blanched to the anemic white of someone who had seen a ghost. And in a way, she had. These roses existed because of a woman we would never again have the opportunity to sit with in silence at the oak breakfast table, taking alternating bites of the same slice of marmalade smeared toast. These roses had been placed delicately into the ground by my mother’s soft hands and here, in our makeshift rural garden full of the lush shield-like leaves of the Elephant-Ear and protected by the needlepointed spikes adorning the Monkey Puzzle tree, there grew offshoots of her. In the week that followed, we formulated and carried out a delicate plan of extraction and transportation. The house would be sold, and we’d be moving on, taking the roses with us, my grandmother decided. We found two old wooden crates in a small corner shop that sold homemade honeyed soft-serve ice cream and medical kits for snakebites and splinters, and set them up on a dusty blue piece of tarp in the back of the car. In the evenings, we sat on the garden patio and scrubbed a motley crew of kitchen bowls and old tin cans from under the kitchen sink before grilling kudu meat on the fire outside and playing games of rummy with the well-thumbed card set from the games box in the attic. I lent back in my chair one night and surveyed the setting sun - the air was losing its grip on the heat it had held in its hands all day and the sudden raw chill of the approaching night made a shiver rattle through my bones. My gran slid her seat closer and
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we huddled together. `Every life is full of little deaths. People and animals stop breathing, time stops and experiences pass away and things change. The only way to keep moving is to uproot and change our perspective.` The afternoon before we were scheduled to leave, we slowly worked our way through the blackjack-spiked grass towards the roses. And we dug. We broke through and churned the compact soil and raised each uprooted flower up from the unyielding earth. In the years that followed, we performed our secret ritual another three times - each house that was sold and each uprooting of our lives was closely mirrored in our careful upheaval of my motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s roses. And each time we settled into new surroundings, their roots took hold of new soil, and they bloomed.
Contact “I keep bumping into people.” “Really?” she answered. “Anyone I know?” I knew she wouldn’t understand. She didn’t even bother to look up from the newspaper when she spoke. She kept staring at the paper, occasionally scribbling down numbers in the sudoku grid with her pen. The page was folded so just the grid was visible and accessible. Taut, efficient. Kay did almost everything that way. Her face was a study in confident determination, something I could never muster. “I asked was it anyone I knew,” she said again. Her eyes may have been on the paper, but her ears were apparently still tuned to the rest of the world. “No, that’s not what I meant,” I continued. I wavered between dropping the subject and sticking a toe deeper into the conversational waters. “I don’t mean I’m bumping into people,. I mean I really am… bumping into people” “Wait…what?”, she said, finally looking up. She was either almost finished or stuck. Those were the only times she paused while working a sudoku. “You mean you keep meeting people on the street?” “No, I said I keep bumping into people.” “OK, so who did you run into,” she asked. I wrestled for a second with how to formulate an explanation. “I don’t mean ‘running into people’,” I said, choosing words like an old woman shops for melons. “I’m not talking about meeting people we know and seeing them on the streets and saying ‘Hi’ and making small talk and shit. I mean like actually, physically running into people. Like, boom, like crash, like bodies collide and stuff. I am physically running into people. All the time now.” Kay looked at me for a few moments, then lowered her head and so that her eyes peered at me over the top of her glasses, the international symbol for skepticism. It lasted for about five seconds, then she broke her gaze and went back to her sudoku. She does it in pen. I hate that she can do that. “Really?” she said, without even looking up. “Yeah, really,” I said. “I bump into people. Seriously, actually bump into people. All the time. … OK, almost all the time… OK, a lot of the time.” My voice trailed off as I listened. I suddenly sounded ridiculous. Apart from us, there were only two other tables of customers in the diner: a mother trying to get her kid, about three, to eat something, anything, and an elderly couple who didn’t speak once the whole time they were there, just chewed each bite slowly and rhythmically, which actually looked kind of focused and cool. I decided to call them the Zen Eaters.
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At the table across from us, I could see the mother trying to get her kid to drink orange juice, with poor results. Apparently he was more interested in what was going on outside the window of the restaurant, the traffic moving past in rapid, colorful waves. He pointed toward the window with a sticky hand and said, “Tuck!…tuck!” “Yeah, baby, truck,” his mother said, wiping soggy toast bits off of his face with a napkin. “Now drink your orange juice. You want the truck? Drink your orange juice and you can have the truck.” The waitress came by and refilled our coffee mugs. Kay picked up her cup and drank from it. She drank black coffee. Stone black, no-nonsense coffee. Like a truck driver, night school teacher or a salesman from a David Mamet play. Me, I needed cream in mine, something to sooth its bitter origins. The kid at the table next to us still needed to drink his orange juice. The “tuck” was long gone. Kay took a break from her sudoku again, leaned her head on one hand and looked at me. “So you’re, like, literally bumping into strangers all over the city,” she asked, in a tone of voice that I believe would qualify as skeptical. Or at least incredulous. “Really?” she added. (There it was again.) “Yeah, really,” I said. “Literally bumping into people. Walking down the street, going through doorways, getting off the bus, getting on an elevator, walking into the men’s room at work, going through the automatic doors at the grocery story, going through the turnstile in the subway. Every time I turn a corner, there’s someone coming in the opposite direction and we either bump into each other or come close to it. Every single time. Almost every time. It’s weird.” “You’re weird.” I began to regret opening up, but I needed to find out if my suspicions were true. Kay, unfortunately, was my sounding board. In seven years of knowing her I discovered that sometimes she looked at things too logically, wanting to analyze the problem and find the scientific reason why it could or couldn’t be true, like the Ph.D. sociologist she was. On the flipside, she’d sometimes dismiss my ideas without even giving it much thought, as if I were a kid asking her if I could have a pony even though we lived in an apartment. I already knew that she thought I was mildly paranoid about a lot of things. Not tinfoil-on-the-head paranoid or Illuminati paranoid. Traffic lights that turned yellow only as I approached the intersection. Checkout lines at stores that suddenly came to a dead halt just as I got in them. Bartenders going on shift changes just as I pulled up a stool. Buses that pulled away just as I approached the stop. Guys choosing the lockers on either side of mine in the gym while the rest of the room was virtually empty. Finding the per-
fect pair of pants but never in my size. And, of course, consistently being short-changed on my French fries at fast food restaurants. Now if I heard someone else complain that the same litany of strange incidents was happening to them regularly, I might suggest they seek some sort of psychiatric evaluation. But since I was talking about myself, all of this made perfect sense. Anyway this was different, in a noticeable, tangible way. Dodging bodies while turning corners in hallways, doing that side-to-side shuffle thing while going through building doorways, trying to avoid people who rushed into elevators with their heads down while texting some inanity to some other person somewhere else. After the third or fourth time saying “excuse me” to some stranger who nearly plowed into me, I’d mentally step back and try to determine if others were experiencing these not-so-random occurrences. I’d look for strangers bumping into other strangers. I considered asking people at my office to see if they too had similar experiences. But I was known as work for being pretty anti-social, and I didn’t want to lose that title. In the next booth, Rory was getting a good talking-to by his mom. That was the kid’s name. I learned it after his mother said it approximately 27 times when he wouldn’t stop kicking the table and eventually sent his plastic cup of orange juice tumbling to the floor. I looked down and saw the liquid creeping its way toward my foot before the waitress came over with a dirty mop and sopped up the juice, or rather smeared most of it around the floor. Kay wrote a “9” into one of the boxes of her sudoku. She had gone back to not really caring. “Look, I know you don’t believe me, but it’s true,” I said. “You should follow me around for a day.” “I’ve got better things to do,” she answered, gesturing to her sudoku puzzle with her pen. “Besides, I could follow you all day long and never see any of that.” She was right, of course. Trying to show someone else an unusual occurrence makes it cease to exist. You could see a bear hailing a cab on the corner of State and Lake at 6:30 a.m. every day for a year, but the one time you convince a friend to show up to witness this blend of nature and urban life is the one day the bear decides to take the bus instead. And all you’re left with is “But I swear, every other time…” Still, you have to mention it; it’s too peculiar not to do so. “Hey, I don’t care if you believe me or not,” I said. Though I did care. “I’m just telling you it’s happening.” I considered telling her more, embellishing the storytelling to make it seem more plausible, maybe giving details about walking around corners on completely empty streets and coming nose-to-nose with a stranger headed in the opposite direction, or walking
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through grocery store aisles and being nearly crushed on a shopping cart being pushed by an oblivious elderly woman as she barrels around the corner. “How can you bump into that many people?,” Kay asked. She shook her head a little and then drummed her pen again on the diner table. “What, you’re some sort of human magnet?” I scaled it back a bit. “Well, OK, I’m not actually bumping into all of them,” I conceded. “But, yeah, every time I turn a corner, there’s somebody right there coming right at me.” She sipped her coffee audibly. “Right, it’s only you. Again. Everybody just HAPPENS to be walking right into where YOU’RE walking? You ever think YOU’RE just one more person bumping into THEM?” That possibility had crossed my mind but I didn’t want to believe that I was merely a player in someone else’s reality. No, this was real and it was happening to me. I took a last bite of wheat toast and wiped my hands on a napkin. “Fine, don’t believe me,” I said, glancing out of the diner window to emphasize my nonchalance. “I’m just sayin’…” I secretly wanted her to shoot holes in my theory, right? If only to prove that the entire universe wasn’t conspiring against me. I mean, really, who wants that? An entire cosmos getting together simply to taunt you, as if it had nothing better to do? There are billions more people in the world. Everybody’s got to be somewhere, right? Why shouldn’t they be going through bank doors or turning down alleys or wheeling shopping carts through the cereal aisle at the same time as me? An organized, galaxy-wide concerted effort focused on annoying me and me alone with these little confrontations? I supposed that was arrogant leaning toward crazy. I dropped the napkin back on the table. “I gotta go to the bathroom,” I said. “Thanks for the status report. Try not to run anyone over on the way there.” “You’re funny. You should have you should have your own HBO special. Call it ‘Kay Saying Funny Things’.” “You can get your own show too. Call it ‘Everybody Loves Raymond and Bumping Into Me’”. “Bathroom. Bye,” I said. I stood up from our table. As I started to walk away the waitress came with a full pot of coffee.
Darren C. Demaree
All the Birds are Leaving #4 It works best when we are possessed by a strange beauty, a blank, un-decided sky, a thought of never leaving, of second & third words. As long as we are talking about it, we are not mourning.
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All the Birds are Leaving #6 We do not want to touch the whole world, we want the whole world to touch us & if that is true then our good relationship with time, slash through the sky that it is, is purely decoration. Flush to the flesh of our own light, our race is one of waiting in one place, our salvation is roughed up, shoveled into the artistry of accepting all.
Artist Bios Elif Araf Yalım was born in 1993 in Istanbul. Find more of her work on her Flickr. Dorothy Schultz works as an artist and an art teacher in Connecticut. She writes every day. Tiffany Nguyen is an eighteen-year-old college student with an old soul and a love for life. Raised in a small town in Southern California, she now attends the University of California, Los Angeles. She enjoys drinking copious amounts of coffee, lazy days, and discovering new things. MaryAnn McCarra-Fitzpatrick lives with her husband and sons in Peekskill, New York. She has been published by Chronogram, Obsolete! Magazine, The Mom Egg, MoonLit, Make Room for DADA, various Westchester County newspapers and other magazines and journals. Forthcoming in The Echo Room, The New Poet, and The Healing Muse. Mekiya Walters studies Creative Writing and Psychology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. He has lived in Asheville, North Carolina and Hyderabad, India, enjoys baking and funny hats, teaches Tae Kwon Do periodically, can personally vouch for the existence of unicorns, and will someday institute a global revolution using only double-ply color-changing sock yarn and size 2 needles. His work has appeared in Atlantis Magazine, Gulf Stream Magazine, and Diverse Voices Quarterly. Sarah Richmond is a teacher-learner reader-writer from South Africa, now based in Japan. She fluctuates wildly between her two main interests: researching genocide prevention and baking cakes (which she then eats, also in the name of research). 2014 is her year of writing. Find more of her work on her blog: thenomadsland.tumblr.com. Ken Green is a sometimes writer originally from Chicago, now living in Boston. Darren C. Demaree is a poet whose poems have appeared or are scheduled to appear in magazines and journals including The South Dakota Review, Meridian, The Louisville Review, Grist, and Whisky Island. He is the author of “As We Refer To Our Bodies” (2013, 8th House), “Not For Art Nor Prayer” (2015, 8th House), and “Temporary Champions” (2014, Main Street Rag). He is the recipient of three Pushcart Prize nominations and a Best of the Net nomination. Currently he lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.