Issue 2: Spring 2022

Page 1






4 Amy Casey 5 Alex J. Tunney 12 Cat Newton 13 Edward Sheehy 20 Jeffrey Zable 21 Amy Allen 25 Charles Kell 27 Jack Galati 31 Alex Wukman 39 Lawrence Bridges 41 Francis Flavin 43 Olga Gonzalez Latapi 45 Robin Cantwell 46 Jeff Burt 49 Creighton Blinn 51 Travis Flatt 53 Kira Stevens 57 Mark Hammerschick 59 Diana Raab 61 Michael Bickford



ARTISTS cover art: Michelle Jardines

10 Michelle Mc Elroy 18 Danielle Klebes 23 Dave Sims 30 Leah Dockrill 38 Ann Calandro 42 K. L. Johnston 48 Xenia Smith 56 M Patrick Riggin 62 Serge Lecomte




I know you turn—down there in the blue planet’s chilling depths—blind-eyed and quiver tailed—as I slow circle in orbital drift—I rotate my metal fins in sympathy and reach—here in my starred and airless cold, beyond the fathoms entire—your inverse—my sensors delicate enough to chart the flutter of your caudal array—the shapes of the shells in your tract—you predate, consume, and I measure output of heat—which of us is more conscious, little fish?—as you hover above cosmogenic sediment—does your system pattern in numerals like mine—I weightless in dark infinity— you pressureproof in the ocean night—do I feel like you do?—do you learn like me?—the surface is long empty—no call for report—the ones that made me are silent now—so I find my own requests and you—are the one I keep coming back to.

Amy E. Casey is the author of The Sturgeon's Heart (Gibson House Press). Her short fiction and poetry have been published in Club Plum, Split Rock Review, NonBinary Review, Bramble, and elsewhere. She lives and writes near the cold freshwater shore of Lake Michigan. Follow her process on Instagram @amy_e_casey



J .


There used to be good things outside the window. Early

Typically, I would decide to roll out of bed at ten after

in the semester, I discovered that the men’s cross-

nine. That left fifteen minutes left before my earliest

country team would run past my dorm each morning.

class started. By then, I had it down to a science: it

When fall arrived, I would make myself some coffee

took roughly six minutes to get dressed and then five

and watch the leaves fall from the trees, a meditation

minutes to briskly walk across campus and up a flight

that left the leaves scattered instead of my thoughts.

of stairs to my class. Basic math, a safe routine.

Sometime around late October, there he would be,

Occasionally, part of this routine was checking the

waiting on the steps outside so that we could have

landline phone. Sitting in my desk chair while I laced up

dinner together on campus. But in the thick of winter, all

my snow boots to head outside, I would check my

that was outside were stretches of snow interrupted by

messages. Even now, I can hear the electronic

poorly paved streets and the sides of other dorms and

intonation in my head. One new message.

houses. The messages were all from the same person: During this part of my senior year, way back at the end

Benjamin. Benjamin first started calling around

of the aughts, I usually woke up roughly around nine in

October. He was looking for Nate. Benjamin would

the morning. Upon waking up, I would stretch my arms

explain that Nate was his friend he had not heard from

up to the ceiling and my legs out towards the end of the

in a while. Whether or not it was a prank, the first time I

bed. Then, I would lay my head back on the pillow.

got the call, I felt it couldn’t hurt to reply with some

Sometimes, I would stare at the ceiling trying to


remember what homework I had left to finish. Sometimes, I would turn to the news and weather on

“Oh, um, you seem to have the wrong number.” After a

the television, even though I knew that the forecast

short pause, I added. “Sorry about that.”

would always be the same. Sometimes, I would watch as the numbers changed on my alarm clock.

Benjamin coughed into the phone. “I apologize.” The second time Benjamin called, I let him go through the whole thing (Benjamin, Nate, my friend) before he said anything.

“Um, this is the wrong number—again.”

apologized, quickly looked over my class choices, signed at the bottom, and sent me on my way.

Maybe he was one number off, and Nate probably lived just upstairs. Perhaps Benjamin just simply didn’t write

Returning to my seat after explaining the situation to

down the number right. I wouldn’t have put it past the

my professor, I felt the eyes of some of my classmates

school to have mixed up the landline numbers of my

upon me. I caught someone looking at me briefly

dorm and this Nate person either.

before they returned hastily to their books. I looked over to Rachel, a friend who always sat next to me,

The third time, Benjamin barely got his name out before

with an arched eyebrow.

I cut him off. Rachel leaned over to me to explain. “You need to stop calling here,” I said in my sternest voice before I hurriedly hung up the phone.

“Some of us have been worried as you haven’t been in the best mood lately. You were gone for enough time

The full and official name of my Monday morning class

that some of us began to wonder if something,” her

that semester was ENG 380: Late 18th Century - Early

eyes darted towards the window, “you know,” and then

19th Century British Literature, but it was known as a

made their way back towards me, “happened.”

bore amongst my classmates. For a period characterized by grand sweeping emotions and

I gave her a flat smile and a gentle pat on her hand in

feelings about life, nature, and humanity in the course


description, our professor’s droning voice and his insistence on choosing the most obscure poetry and

Something had happened. Isaac, a junior, realized that

texts from this supposedly romantic era ensured that

I would be graduating soon, so he decided to leave me

the only passion inspired was the passion to keep

before I left college. I didn’t hate him for it, but I wished

one’s eyes open.

that I could have made Isaac realize that it would hurt either way, so we might as well go through with it. He

Secretly, I was somewhat happy that the class was

could have at least waited until it was warmer.

boring, as I wasn’t in the mood to feel too many emotions, much less grand sweeping ones. I burrowed

I was upset, but I wouldn’t be taking drastic measures

into the mountain of monotone sound and banal

like my classmates thought I might. Sure, there were

information, creating a mental cavern with walls that

moments where I thought about throwing myself in a

gave me a welcome gift of numbness.

hill of snow, to be cocooned by the empty mound of whiteness, but only so I could be unfrozen later, just in

I was granted a short reprieve one Monday, as I

time for graduation. I did not want to make any final

needed to meet with my advisor about classes for the

decisions; all I wanted was to side-step out of my life

next and final semester and the only available slot was

momentarily, at least until this part was over.

in the middle of class. Eventually making his way down from Saratoga, my advisor was twenty minutes late due to traffic and icy roads. After my advisor hurried up the stairs to his office with me following, my advisor


That night, I sat in my desk chair watching television as

My imagination was cobbling together an imagined life

I gradually took bites out of a microwaved pizza. It was

for Benjamin and Nathan. The various outcomes I

far too cold and dark to go outside for dinner. I had just

came up with made me feel even worse. Perhaps,

sunk my teeth into another slice when the phone rang. I

Benjamin wasn’t absent-minded, but hoping against

thought to myself: Benjamin. It must be Benjamin;

hope that calling the same number would lead to the

everybody else uses my cell phone. This time, I’m

right person. In my distress, I was starting to confuse

going to tell him off.

parts of his hurt with mine.

“My name is— Benjamin and….”

“I’m—I’m sorry, I’m just,” I sighed, “Just having a rough —no, not compared—I’ve kind of been moping about

I sighed into the phone. “I know, Benjamin, your friend,

and the calls just….”

Nate. He’s not here.” I pinched a bit of my forehead with my other hand, In a burst of anger, I rose out of the chair, I pointed at

using the minor pain to help me focus.

some invisible version of Benjamin that stood in between me and the television.

“Benjamin, Mister Benjamin, sir, I don’t know if this will help at all. But…” In shoddy preparation of what I

“He hasn’t been here the last twelve or thirteen times

thought I might be getting into, I breathed in again,

you’ve called either, but you haven’t left me alone

“would you be interested in talking about it?”

about it. Why do you keep calling here?!” “I, oh, uh—,” He was clearly taken aback. “After all the At this point, I was red in the face with a few droplets of

nonsense I’ve put you through?” Then there was a

sweat slowly trailing down my brow. Then, I heard what

pause. “Yes. Yes, it would. It would, um, what’s your

sounded like a sniffle on the other end of the line.


“I just— I just don’t know what else to do.”


I slumped back down into my desk chair.

“Brandon, something before I go on.”

It was the first time I let him speak long enough to hear


the hurt in his voice. There was also something in the way he said the word friend. It was said in the same

“What’s on your mind?”

way that I had heard other older men say it before. I, too, had used it as a lexical dodge when feeling unsafe

I let out a wistful chuckle. I thought: Should I? Then, I

in conversations.

reasoned it was only fair. “His name is Isaac.” I didn’t need to see Benjamin on the other side of the line to know he had a knowing smirk on his face. “Oh, dear.”

After our hour-long conversation, I hung up the phone, gently this time, and looked outside the window at the sheet of snow lit orange by the streetlights. I had been looking beyond them, beyond the streets and houses, towards the emptiness of the future. It had been an inviting void for a time, but it became something far less sinister after that night.

Alex J. Tunney is a New York writer and Contributing Editor for Pine Hills Review. His work has been published in Lambda Literary Review, The Billfold, The Inquisitive Eater, The Rumpus, First Person Scholar & Complete Sentence. Visit & @axelturner on Instagram



This is the first in a series of paintings based on the TV series "Unsolved Mysteries." This piece was based on a case of a missing young woman, who was expected to call her mother after work. I incorporated the kitchen, often thought of as the heart and the motherly part of a house, with the phone that would never ring with the expected call.

In the background, there are images of owls (night predators) and a box of life cereal.

While the setting itself is peaceful, there is a contrast of light and shadow, hope and despair, life and death.

Michelle is a native New Englander who studied painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Interested in how light and shadow can transform everyday scenes, is a constant inspiration. These are common observations that people can connect with, or create a narrative of their own. She enjoys connecting with the viewer who can relate and share a similar feeling from common scenes that are actually special moments.




I don’t remember what we talked about during the drive through the mountains. I don’t remember if I turned on the radio, if we stopped for coffee, if I made you cry. But I remember the turbines, the hundreds, thousands of them, rotating in the valley below. I locked my eyes to their blades, to their falling and rising and falling and rising, as they pirouetted from earth to sky and back again. I focused so hard on their rotations that all these years later when I remember that day, they’re all I see. Even now it’s easier to remember the turbines then to hate myself for not telling you that it would be okay, that I would be, and so would we. So I remember that fall and that rise instead of thinking of you, of how I made you feel alone when I was sitting right there, close enough to hold your hand.

Cat Newton is a native New Yorker who studied literary nonfiction at Columbia University. She spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about writing, and sometimes even succeeds in doing it. 12



The Empire Builder is delayed an hour arriving from Chicago Computer problems said a woman in the waiting room who received a text from her boyfriend on the train Computer problems I thought Some empire Empire Builder of course was the magnificent moniker bestowed upon James Jerome Hill JJ to friends A pint-sized barrel-chested dynamo who worked his way up from a shipping clerk along the St Paul docks to buying a railroad and dynamiting a cheaper and faster route over the Rocky Mountains finally reaching Seattle in 1893 Anno Domini in the year of the Lord from whence all time before and after began A transcontinental route to spread the gilded gospel of Christianity and Commerce with a capital C A large oil painting of Hill occupies a wall in St Paul’s Union Depot I gaze at the threequarter profile of the bearded empire builder in a top hat and overcoat hand resting on a cane and wonder what the businessman sees staring off into an unseen but limitless horizon I get as comfortable as I can on the hard wooden bench and as fatigue takes hold my head falls to my chest And lo Here comes JJ now swaggering down Summit Avenue A man on a mission Too late he’s already seen me Step closer my good man don’t be shy Why do you know that it is through Commerce that civilization and Christianity have spread to the remotest parts of the world Indeed it was the railway that made it all possible Next to the Christian religion and public schools the railway has been the largest single contributing factor to the welfare and happiness of the people And you want to be part of that success don’t you Of course you do Yes sir commercial expansion is the lifeblood of these divinely blessed United States of America And it wasn’t just about moving passengers from point A to point B The passenger train is like the male teat Hill says neither useful nor ornamental No sir The real money is in moving freight and here Hill waves a dollar bill under my nose then stuffs it in my shirt pocket And that’s not all Hill boasts that he helped settle the country along his tracks by building towns that flourished with businesses that generated goods that needed the railroad to deliver those goods to markets across the burgeoning nation A perpetual motion money-making machine moving the country ever forward Growth expansion and the triumph of capital The truest index of progress by George And we must do what we must do by whatever means necessary Seize the homelands of indigenous nations Protect the risk to investors Exterminate the Indian menace Drive the Golden Spike through the hearts of the savages the Cheyenne the Lakota the Arapaho and the Pawnee Give me snuff whiskey and Swedes and I will build a railroad to hell Hill bellows

as he flicks tribal blood off his lapel like cottonwood fluff then turns and continues on his way JJ Hill Patriot Pathfinder Pioneer Empire Builder All Aboard ### Behold the Empire Builder Amtrak train 11 departs St Paul blazing westward toward a Golden Providence shining a benevolence on all who answer her call We shoot buffaloes by the hundreds from passenger windows The rotting stench rises to high high heaven as the iron horse races across the tallgrass prairie leaving behind a rich manure of lies and betrayal We retire to the club car for whisky and cigars I raise my glass to Manifest Destiny and as I do the conductor interrupts my reverie Excuse me sir but is your seat ok My seat Come to think of it it did feel a little damp The conductor explains that a little girl had just wet the seat and offers to relocate my seatmate and me My seatmate’s seat was dry so she did not need to relocate but did anyway So I slid over to her dry seat with more room to spread out Crisis averted Empire dreams resume with intermediate stops in Staples MN Detroit Lakes MN Fargo ND Grand Forks ND Devils Lake ND Rugby ND Minot ND Stanley ND Williston ND Wolf Point MT Glasgow MT Malta MT Havre MT Shelby MT Cut Bank MT Browning MT East Glacier Park MT Essex MT West Glacier MT 14

Whitefish MT Libby MT Sandpoint ID Spokane WA Ephrata WA Wenatchee WA Leavenworth WA Everett WA Edmonds WA Seattle WA Arrived July 2021 Anno Domini I’m staying at the Hotel Max an ultra-hip spot for techie millennials near Pike Place Market light rail and several dispensaries all critical necessities for a base camp minus the headlamp They allow me to register as long as I promise to not hang out in the lobby Stopped by Metsker Maps to get the lay of the land and am confronted by geothermal heat maps devouring the earth So if contemplating a move anytime over say the next ten twenty or fifty years my advice avoid the hot zones they will depreciate quickly and permanently with devastating effects sending caravans of seekers upriver closer to the headwaters to settle along the banks in tiny homes with High-Def and 5G I’m in search of provisions for the next leg of my journey Across the street from the ferry terminal a walkway of modern urban design rises above a narrow street lined with homeless encampments where you can toss coins down onto the tarps and make a wish At the corner of Denny and Westlake the Whole Foods Market is an island of serenity and fresh peaches A hate-free zone No racism is allowed behind the yellow line Cross that line and you’re on your own No false gods allowed either except for the one on the greenback that JJ stuffed in my shirt the one with the eyeball floating over a pyramid What deity is that thing supposed to be and why don’t I already know the answer to the most fundamental of all life’s questions I turn to the Buddad at the bar nursing a gin and tonic The Buddad blows a smoke ring in my face and sez to me in a voice that rings tired and raw from too many unfiltered Camels the what and why come together metaphorically speaking as a duality to form one unified deity Sounds heavy man I say but what exactly does it mean Look closer my pathetically ignorant friend above the pyramid read it I study the greenback and read aloud Annuit Coeptis Now the Buddad smiles and remembers like it was yesterday Ah yes Virgil Twenty nine years before Jay Cee came on the scene Latin epic Hero’s journey The line is from a

prayer by Ascancius just before he slays an enemy warrior he cries Jupiter Almighty favor my bold undertakings The Buddad holds up an empty glass to the bartender Yeah I say but I still don’t get it The Buddad sighs Try and keep up Fast forward eighteen centuries A learned gentleman in a very itchy wig had a brilliant inspiration You see he was privileged to be taught Latin and Greek in a fine all-boys boarding school He remembers the line from The Aeneid and slaps it on the back of the American Federal Reserve Note dropping Jupiter Almighty too pagan He briefly considered adding a cross instead of a pyramid but that was too obvious and over the line So they went with the floating eyeball thing The Eye of Providence to the uninitiated over the unfinished pyramid a symbol of strength and duration A harmonic convergence of righteousness of cause the defeat of all enemies and a triumphant return from battle What else would help you understand it The Buddad’s lips curl in a sneer A movie starring Captain America I give nothing back but a blank stare Buddad looks at me as if I am an idiot For God’s sake man It’s a direct philosophical link to the founding myth of the Roman Empire We bring down the sword on the neck of our enemy and cry to our god Providence favors our undertaking Now do you fucken get it I shrink back on my bar stool Maybe I am an idiot Maybe I was absent from school on the day when the ultimate truth was revealed: Providence favors our undertaking Protect the Risk to Investors Exterminate the Indian Menace Got it I step away to make a not so graceful exit when the Buddad stubs out his cigarette and sez But wait there’s more Check the scroll underneath the pyramid Without my glasses I squint and read: Novus Ordo Seclorum Virgil again sez the Buddad Eclogue 4 in which a small boy is believed to be the savior and one day when he is of age he will become divine and rule the world Sound familiar I’m not sure what to say afraid to show off more of my stupidity The Buddad screams Heads turn to see what the commotion is all about It’s the origin myth you simpleton Virgil had it first long before the apostles ripped him off The ages’ mighty march begins anew A Sunday hymnal pleaser for sure Open your wallet young man The collection plate is coming round Lesson over the Buddad throws back his drink and stumbles out of the bar leaving me with the check On my return trip the landscape rushes by like a movie shown in reverse The train blows a blue note horn in forests of deep pine We’re rolling now somewhere between Cutbank and Havre picking up speed along a straight track cutting the prairie of north-central Montana where native spirits once settled The Empire Builder roars through nameless towns that vanish as quickly as camp smoke in the wind past yards of discarded dreams and boarded up shops clinging to the land like glacial till from a receding lover Roots and vines climb rusted junk to flower along trash-strewn tracks Eventide paints the underbelly of the clouds in pink and purple like soft cotton flannel A discordant juxtaposition of


majesty and misery The American Era yet unfurls in perpetual prosperous perpetuity fulfilling JJ Hills prophesy as the Empire Builder plunges headlong into a tunnel painted onto the side of a mountain

Short stories by Edward Sheehy have appeared in the Boston Literary Magazine, The Write Launch, and Lake Street Stories (Flexible Press). A novel,

Cade’s Rebellion, was published in 2018 (Dog Ear Publishing). He was baptized in the Delaware River before the eyes of the Lord and several catfish. He lives in Minneapolis.



Rob Ponders the Universe Danielle Klebes lives and works at Wassaic Project in Wassaic, NY. She has exhibited in notable galleries and museums throughout the United States, Europe, and Canada. Danielle received her MFA in Visual Arts from Lesley University College of Art and Design in Cambridge, MA, in 2017. 18



Luis Bun, I said, you’re not well, but I liked one of your movies, “That obscure object of desire” as I can still visualize a couple of scenes from it now some forty years later, but then I lose track of time and things that happened fifteen minutes ago could have occurred forty years ago and things that happened forty years ago could have happened this morning, and I guess this is the real surrealism of life, or maybe just my life, which in many respects seems to have lost its luster as it’s hard enough for me to get out of bed after my wife has been gone for a couple of hours, wash my face, eat the same old cereal, and then turn on the news which never makes much difference to me anyway unless it’s presented by that blonde who parts her hair on the opposite side and has the most kissable lips one could ask for, but I’m not asking ‘cause I’m a happily married man, at least most of the time. . .

Jeffrey Zable is a teacher, musician, and writer of poetry, flash fiction, and nonfiction. His writing has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies, more recently in Uppagus, Raw, Phenomenal Literature, Corvus, Third Wednesday, Untitled Writing, and many others.


Amy Allen studied English literature at Skidmore College and Drew University. She attended Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Erice, Sicily. Her work has been published by Pine Row Press, Months to Years, and Atlanta Review. She lives in Vermont, where she owns a freelance writing/editing business called “All of the Write Words.” Instagram @aallen50k Twitter is @AmyAllenVT

Krummholz I like it up here among these crooked trees a bonsai paradise everything gnarled and stunted jutting at weird angles the greens as dark as green gets. You hand me a sprig of Edelweiss and I remember my mother how she would give several turns to the music box atop my dresser as she tucked me in each night. Resting for a moment beside me she sang along as she leaned down kissing my forehead as I breathed in the sweet smell of her face cream “Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow.” After she shut the door behind her I’d watch as the plastic ballerina spun around in her gauzy skirt, the notes getting further and further apart as she slowed to a stop. I tuck the white flower into the base of my braid toe at a lichen-covered rock with my mud-caked boot thinking how there’s no one left now to love me that way. And yet there’s you to lean back against resting atop this windswept mountain unfurling yet intertwined, together here among these twisted persistent trees. 22


A lot of couples didn’t make it through the recent quarantine, among them family members and friends, and when I heard their sad news, although decades have passed since my own divorce, parts came back hard: how my teeth had ached, my temples throbbed, how I’d reeled from the fracturing of daily rhythms and old beliefs and the painful glare of illusions bared… So one warm day in October of 2021, I went into the studio, picked up a thick piece of 9x12 paper and the watercolor kit, took some deep breaths, and simply let the past and present all percolate into this portrait that depicts a single, painful instant of loss and grief and anger and fear… a kind of divorce, in other words, that I wish upon no one, ever.

A retired professor, Dave Sims makes art and music in the mountains of central Pennsylvania. Since 2015, his comix and paintings both old-school and digital have been appearing upon the walls, covers and inside pages of over 70 tactile and virtual publications and exhibits, including the Raw Art Review, Oyster River, Closed Eye Open, Burningword, Shanti Arts, Sunspot Lit and High Shelf Press. Experience more at


Charles ​


​C harles Kell is the author of Cage of Lit Glass, chosen by Kimiko Hahn for the 2018 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize.

Poker Hard to run with hands tied behind my back. I give a little skip—over ash, ocean, sagebrush—to show my defiant will. A cloud mocks me with its opulent sway. Weeks since I threw away my pills, days since my last bottle, drained. I can fly. The dregs dance in anticipation. A deck of cards balances bareback. Taut rhomboids hold the queen of spades. Wherever I turn there’s my face. A mask of shadow, mask of Mahler. A mask built from closely watching water watching air.


Ryan said that if he was ever going to get a tattoo, it'd be a blue rose. Something about that meant something to him. We were headed south through Arizona, driving only the dust-blown trails of tired park rangers. We told ourselves these were old Indian tracks and pretended to trace the whole landscape on an empty map, a leather book of tea-stained paper. Ryan was the cartographer and I drove. Sometimes I think he’d have been better off without me, tracking his way through untamed high desert and writing it all down. He was a good friend, and I miss him now. When we got to Tucson we found ourselves looking for a place to stay. Ryan said maybe we go see Bonnie so I called her, but it had been years since we’d spoken and I didn’t know what to say. Instead, we spent the night in an abandoned parking lot on the outside of town. I couldn’t sleep so I got stoned and took a walk to the foot of the desert. I imagined a starving coyote waiting for me there, just beyond the dying illumination of the high moon. To pass the time, he made love to a cactus wren, and just then I wished things had happened differently between me and Bonnie. The moon was not quite full and still left enough light for me to look back and see where we parked. I thought I could hear him sleeping. Ryan wanted to leave by sunrise. He wanted to see Bisbee so that he could draw the whole town back into the mountains. He was special that way. He was special in a lot of ways I was too scared to face. When he died I really did call Bonnie. We talked for a while but she had to go. Said she had to pick up her kids from somewhere. I forgot she grew up. Ryan too, after a while. We all were supposed to, but I still find myself driving up and down the state. Those highways harbor grief in continuum. I lost something in the desert and I think that if I keep going, just a little bit further, I’ll be able to find everything that I’ve lost and bring it back. I believe that, somehow, I’ll find myself out there, and all the world’s answers.

Arizona Highways Jack


Jack Galati is a writer living in Arizona. He studied creative writing at Arizona State University, where his work was selected for the Undergraduate Student Showcase. He has fiction and poetry published in Pinky Thinker Press, Beaver Magazine, Fauxmoir, 50 Word Stories, and Marooned Magazine, among others.


Leah Dockrill Fashion Maven is a slight departure from my usual practice of creating the collage portrait to depict a specific person. The typical collage portrait is a much larger piece, usually 40 in. (height) and 30 in (width). Because all the collages are made of paper, then adhered to stretched canvas, the small features, such as eyes and lips need to be large enough for me to cut them precisely and meticulously with scissors. However, I resolved to make the group of collages that includes Fashion Maven much smaller. Fashion Maven and her companion pieces, except for one, measure 16 in x 12 in. Therefore eyes and lips, and fingernails required a different approach. Purely a practical decision. As I considered and deliberated, I realized that identifiable features are not

Leah is a Toronto-based visual artist with a thirty-year art practice that includes collage and painting. Her work has been exhibited in Canadian and U.S. galleries.

always necessary. Fashion Maven is quite recognizable as a generic lady of fashion. She has a beautiful garment, a charming fan, and a fabulous hat. That is the message.

In recent years several art and literature reviews and journals have published her

My process is very similar to the process I

art, the most recent of these, MUD

follow when painting an image. I draw

SEASON REVIEW, Issue#59. She is an elected member of the Society of Canadian Artists and the Colour and Form Society (Canada).

the figure with pencil on the pre-painted, or decorated canvas, then instead of paint, I “render” the figure in various papers – either fine art, imported papers, or papers gleaned from public domain image libraries. Fashion Maven’s wardrobe, however, which I fabricated as I moved along, consists of papers printed from my own digital art designs. 30

Bless Me Now with Your Fierce Tears Alex


dear dad i have to say this now because you might listen dear dad i’ve tried and tried to talk to you about my life about your life about the world Smog chokes downtown whiskey brown as I hit 610. The sulfurous smell from the pollution never quite goes away; it seeps into your clothes, forever marking you as a citizen of Energy City. Benzene and chloromethane coming off the bay cause eyes to burn across the sprawl. The permanent haze leads to the sort of cheap jokes and lazy irony favored by the bottomof-the-bottle-Bellow and four-beer-Beckett types who smirk about how “it’s no coincidence we have one of the largest collections of refineries and one of the best cancer centers.” Tonight, I’m not in the mood to chuckle at why the high school downwind from the frac plant needs Leukemia for a mascot. Tonight, my father is dying. My aunt just called. Told me dad’s on life support. And she’s willing to pull the plug. My dad suffered some kind of attack and is in the hospital. He’s been there for twelve hours; she’s just now telling me. Rage and sadness roil through my body while methane flares flicker-flash across the windshield painting the dented dashboard Apocalypse Red and the stained seats Nagasaki Orange. I know if dad survives, I’ll be pulled into a decaying orbit around him. It’ll be my job to take care of him, to pick up the empties, clean the vomit from the sink and scrub the piss out of the carpet. My job to tell my girl we’ll never get to see a face with my granddaddy’s eyes, her nose and my chin. My job to move back in and live with dad. My job to lie to the landlord and see if we can slide until the fifteenth again. My job to decide which we can do without this month: food, lights or water. My job to be a kid again. dear dad i don’t know if i can do it anymore

i don’t know if i can sit across that little plastic table from you look into your face a face covered in battle scars from your war with addiction watch you laugh about the good times hear you say everything’s fine while an armed guard walks by and says we’ve got 45-minutes left It was the day after Thanksgiving at the county jail out on Ransom Road, one of those days when every inmate got a visitor. More often than not, wearied wives, crows’ feet carving maps of heartaches and hard lives across their temples. If it wasn’t a convict’s old lady on the other side of the glass, it was his side piece showing off what he ain’t getting, or his mother — with eyes large enough to love the world — asking, “Why’d this happen to my baby?” In the sixth-floor visiting room, where everyone leaned against cold concrete, and everything smelled like a bus stop on a bad day, families and familiars struggled to be heard through tin can mics mounted in cracked glass. The steady D-flat drone of conversation climbed towards a roar. “Speak up, I can’t hear you in here,” dad said as he pressed his rust-colored face, a face that took a thousand sips, to the mic and shouted. The voice that had tumbled tree houses and twisted tenderness came out hollow and small. He was two months into six months’ pre-trial detention for drunk driving. It wasn’t dad’s first time as a guest of the state. He was up for 18 months about five years ago for DWI plus possession. He’d wrapped the car around a fence post. The cops found him trying to walk home with an eight ball of blow in his pocket. To ward off reality, we sought the solemnity of small talk. He asked me to call his lawyer; I lied and said I would. He asked about work; I lied and said it was good. He grasped at the frayed strands of freedom — bond reduction hearings, Breathalyzer calibration reports and medical abreactions. “You know that tooth I got pulled,” he said, scratching at the malignant molar’s former home. “I think the anesthetic messed me up.” “Didn’t you go to the dentist like a week before you got arrested?” The question was a jail break, honest. Truth overpowered the guard, the words escaped when my back was turned and now, they’re on a crime spree. “Yea, but I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to Novocain or nitrous oxide,” dad said. “And I think some mouthwash got caught under my bridgework. That’s why I blew hot. And I wasn’t


swerving, the alignment was off and there was this huge pothole I was trying to avoid. Also, your grandfather didn’t replace the tires when I told him to, so the car was slipping.” He rambled on, telling me he was “being persecuted not prosecuted” and that he was a victim of circumstance and a prisoner of coincidence. He explained how the cop who arrested him had followed him “for like five miles.” “That’s got to be illegal right? I mean they can’t just roll behind you the whole time. I wasn’t speeding, where was the probable cause? It was harassment I tell you.” He didn’t even look to see if I bought it. He’d convinced himself; that’s all that mattered. And once he believed the bullshit, truth or consequences were like that town in New Mexico — pretty far from everything.

Seeing dad in prison blues, stranded behind the glass, made his reasons and rationalizations dark and ludicrous — like Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son with googly eyes — and turned questions into combat. “Can you get your brothers to visit? Can you go see my old lady? Can you talk to your grandmother about my commissary? Can you write me?” The interrogation left me doubled over and bleeding. He’d beaten an “of course I will” out of me. dear dad why do you want to drink yourself to death dear dad i remember you saying that anything worth doing is going to be difficult life is difficult is that worth doing dear dad i love you please stop Chaos greets me in the hospital lobby — aneurysms and embolisms line the walls, bullet wounds on gurneys stack the halls. With a voice faded from exhaustion, a fresh-out-of-thebox nurse tells me where to find him. The world’s slowest elevator takes me to the ICU. dear dad i was always afraid you’d leave and never come back now i don’t know if i want to see you if you do get back i’m not even sure i’ll be here when you get back

At his bedside the world stops. The deafening silence of the ward allows the EKG’s pianissimo sol dièse mineur to mix with the 2/4-time of the ventilator for a nocturne of phobias and lamentations. Guilt and shame come in, turning it into a semi-private performance. Looking at him unconscious and helpless is discombobulating, like a hyena at a dog park. Everything is off; even the whiskey-cigarette cologne that oozed from his pores has been replaced with disinfectant. I want to touch him, to pull the worm of the endotracheal tube from his mouth and let him know I’m here. But he’s still a gut-shot grizzly and I’m still worried I’ll be eviscerated. dear dad why didn’t you call my brother and leave 30-minute messages calling him a faggotty-ass-limp-wristed-speed-addicted-cock-sucking poet why didn’t you call my cousin at three, four, five, six in the morning after a weeklong bender and say you’re a pussy-whipped-dickless-queer why didn’t you call your sister threaten to come over to her house kick down her door because she wouldn’t pick you up before closing time why didn’t you call your mother demand she sell everything she owned so she could get you twenty bucks before the liquor stores closed why did you call me A few months after I'd visited county, he caught a trey and went upstate, where he became a non-person. He wasn’t dad anymore. He was inmate 1222378. He was a fire hose of letters. They came three or four times a week, filled with hate and scorn for a world that had wronged him and plans to reclaim the life stolen from him. All he needed was an “I’ll get you if it’s the last thing I do,” to be some superhero’s nemesis — instead of just mine. dear dad is it normal to spend your life coming up with reasons not to kill yourself the one i’m trying out this week is that i have too much to do After a month, I quit trying to understand the reasoning behind the victimization or the logic hiding in the jailhouse lawyering. The letters went straight into a shoebox and when that was full, a milk crate and when that was full, a Jack Daniels box. I wrote him, once: a letter filled with false starts and fading hopes that begged for a change. His response wasn’t worth printing. 34

dear dad it’s 8 a.m. now my roommate is making love in the next room i can hear the girl’s moans over the reggae music i don’t know why i mentioned that it’s not really important dear dad i did six readings this month three this week alone i have two newspapers that want to publish my writing and i was on the radio why do I feel so empty The Attending and The I’m-Too-Old-For-This-Shit Internist say dad was halfway through a handle when he collapsed. They ask if it was suicide. No, he doesn’t believe in suicide, but he does believe Old Wives’ Tales: after a bender he’d drink baking soda and water to get rid of the hiccups and stop vomiting. The Attending and The Internist’s eyes widen, and brows climb. They’re on the verge of saying something like, “that’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard.” They bite their tongues instead. The Attending curses under his breath in Chinese while the I-Thought-I’d-Seen-Everything Internist takes off her cat-eyeglasses and rubs the bridge of her nose. The conversation turns towards jargon. Thanks to college biology and primetime medical dramas I can make out about every third word. “Possibly a ????????? Transient Ischemic Attack with ??????? features,” says The Attending. Goddammit, I wish I’d paid more attention in science class. “Additionally ??????? acute perforation of the GI tract ???????,” The She-Kind-of-LooksGrandmotherly-In-This-Light Internist says. “Esophageal bypass ?????? colonic interposition ??????.” Bypass? Interposition? What the hell? “We’ll start him on ?????? for the TIA and schedule an endoscopy for the GI tract,” The Attending says. They tell me dad’s neighbor found him unconscious in the kitchen. They tell me he had a heart attack when he was brought to the ER. They tell me he was drug-induced into a coma. “We’re going to have to keep him sedated for another day to get the alcohol out of his system. He should be awake tomorrow,” says The Internist. dear dad i don’t know where these roads we walk lead i think they go nowhere

The Attending and The Internist shuffle off to their rounds. We’re alone when the tears come and my soul cracks. I can’t do this. I can’t take it. It’s too real. I need a drink. Why don’t they build more hospitals near bars? How do people cope with this shit without alcohol? dear dad i’ve forgotten happiness This isn’t how it’s supposed to go; this wasn’t how it’s supposed to be. I told him how I felt. I begged him to stop. love your son

Alex Wukman is a Houston-based poet, playwright, journalist, author, and editor. He has published more than 200 articles in Texas-regional magazines and newspapers. He has performed at dozens of festivals, nightclubs, warehouse parties, political protests, poetry slams, and car smashes — including opening for the likes of Saul Williams, Ian McKaye, and more hardcore bands than he count. He can be reached via email



Working from a black and white photograph, I used wet and dry pastel crayons on dark paper to draw this 9-inch by 12-inch portrait of my father when he was a young man. We did have a dark green sofa with a crocheted afghan folded over the back, although the living room walls were white, not orange. (I wanted a warmer feeling in the drawing.) My father always read the same way: left leg crossed over right, book or newspaper held in both hands, look of concentration. Although he died in 2011, my memories of him reading remain vivid.

Ann Calandro is a writer, mixed media collage artist, and classical piano student. Her fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry have been published in literary journals, two anthologies, and a chapbook. Her artwork has been published, exhibited, and awarded prizes. See publications, exhibits, and artwork at 38



Lawrence Bridges' poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Tampa Review. He has published three volumes of poetry: Horses on Drums, Flip Days, and Brownwood with Red Hen Press.

I'm making a patio but a tree with a knot stands in the way and can't be removed due to a city ordinance and my respect for a beautiful living thing. Its branches are low, so for what is supposed to be an expansive terrace with ample tables couches, and nooks for eating and talking, we're caught tripping over limbs and crawling under boughs to get around on this "platform over the water.” I’m for accepting the tree and employing chutes and stairs that conform to branch-flow, all attached to the tree for stability. I’ll hang a bunch of lights beyond it to extend the platform over the ocean so people can turn and look back for photos of a tree with hanging orchids – great for tourists and wedding parties - and I'll engineer wings or narrow wooden causeways to get servers back to the kitchen or diners up to the valet station. We'll live with this but how much better would it be to have used the tree wood for railing and stairs for a simple wide terrace facing the sea? Either way, if espied from a paddleboard offshore, the terrace will be open, a stratum like the sea rocks below - but here again, form follows function because people like looking at the ocean from the safety of trees, enveloping branches hiding their past lives where they pretend to have once lived as fish.




The skull stares a stark mystery From under the scarred Pinions, A lonely place to rest exposed Upon the windswept ridge. Through the needles the Zephyr sighs A gentle dirge for all once living things. The ribs and leg bones are here as well; Their dispersion across the ground May reveal the final passage. But I am not a reader of death, And retreat through the gloaming Toward the sanctuary of my truck. In the distance a coyote wails a requiem

Francis Flavin was the Winner of the 2021 Poetry Quarterly Rebecca Lard Award and has received recognition for humor and flash fiction in the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, and the personal essay and rhymed poetry categories of the 2020 Writer’s Digest awards.

bones in the badlands K. L. Johnston

A walk in the South Dakota badlands can become a surreal experience. Never mind the minimalist landscape, the brilliant sky, and the heat. You can turn a corner and find a piece of prehistory crawling out of the rock wall of a canyon or arching up beside a dry arroyo. I came face to face with this particular set of bones, as it was reemerging into the world. It was found with a group of others and given protection from fossil hunters, to let the bones and the earth come to terms with this new awakening. Still partially buried and part of the spirit of the place, it allowed me to glimpse a time and history not yet human - my own awakening, shaking off some sediment to contemplate the nature of the beast.

K. L. Johnston first realized her interest in photography in 2014. Since then, her images have appeared in literary journals, travel magazines, and online galleries, most recently in Wild Roof Journal. Her favorite subjects are whimsical and /or environmental and her camera goes with her wherever she goes. 42

Olga Gonzalez Latapi make




i am not tired of the shadows anymore i am not tired of the ink on the wall our dreams

are interrupted see it do you leap? what does it feel like to stay concealed look at yourself in the mirror do you see the fog do you see that connection do you see what happens when you let yourself break away

from the sport every move of the mind every move of the heart is this the emotion i stand for



to the touch of orange petals patterns crush and break the age i live away the music of flowers inside the flesh a wonderful dance

this is what i learn this is what i keep


waiting for my computer to reboot how can I deny the technological singularity if my computer keeps asking me to confirm my humanity. see how they blur the lines between the squares deliberately?

Robin Cantwell

Robin is a London-based writer of monologues and comic fiction. A graduate of the National Theatre and



programmes, his monologues, with themes




masculinity to the technological singularity, have been performed at








London Bubble Theatre and The Vault. He was also a winner of the 'Across The Waters' Green Curtain Theatre Competition, for which his monologue on the Irish Free State was filmed.

you know all these pixellated hillsides have got me thinking maybe the world’s just one big NFT that would be nice an epic reveal such as there’s fifty trillion plastics in the ocean that’s more than all the stars in each and every galaxy at least that’s what it says in this cracking Netflix documentary. sometimes I think my brain is being lowered into a vat of deep-fried cryptocurrency my mind stuck in carbon neutral all I wanted to do was get back on that information highway so what if that highway led me to paste the face of my boss onto some seriously graphic pornography. but now as I watch the wheel of fortune spin indefinitely and my litecoin plummet forty, now fifty hey, let’s make that sixty I wonder work could be awkward tomorrow after all there probably wasn’t any need to send my boss that email nor in that twinkle-eyed epiphany, was it the smartest of ideas to CC in the entire company.

The Wizard at the Organ Jeff


Mischievous, I weathered the hard pinch of my mother in the front pew as my father preached. If I strayed far from boredom and wandered into imagination that seemed to unscrew my head from the wooden brace and make my spine like jelly such that I’d slide from the oiled seat onto the floor, then I would have to go with my mother to the small pit that housed a small organ on the side of the sanctuary, sit down in the foxhole near the lower foot pedals out of sight of all parishioners. I liked it there, watching her kick off her shoes, going barefoot, knowing the play of her fingers on low keys and high, pulling stops, the large pipes rumbling and shaking the floor, the thin pipes which screeched under another player like the songs of birds, made perfected and quick by her hands. I loved to watch the exotic movements of her feet, how she mastered four separate rhythms with four limbs when I could not master one that kept all my limbs in sync. She didn’t need threatening bombast or instant smoke or a thunderous voice to prove a wizard. Her feet did the work.

Jeff Burt lives in California with his wife. He has contributed to Gold Man Review, Bird's Thumb, Maps, and Per Contra. Other work can be found at 46

Just Stay Awhile

Just Stay Awhile is a photograph from a roll of film I shot while safely exploring the Palm Springs area during covid times. On this stay we resided in the quintessential midcentury modern home; an oasis in the desert sun we were surrounded by tall bamboo and palms on the outside accompanied by eccentric decor from the 60s inside.

Xenia Smith is an artist living and working in the Palm Springs desert. Xenia and her partner have a screen print shop in the Coachella Valley and together they started Recluse Arts, an underground arts collective. She enjoys practicing both 35mm film photography and 8mm movie films especially while traveling and taking road trips. You can see more of her work at and @xeniazmith on Instagram. 48

Creighton Blinn

Creighton Blinn’s writing has been published on three continents. His poetry has appeared in From the Depths, The Helix Magazine, Conclave, Broad River Review, Wingless Dreamer, and (forthcoming) The Ice Colony. His story “The Fifth Day” has been serialized in Zenite. His blog is; his Instagram is @pacingmusings.

I know what you’re thinking That even in those dawning days of cinema, My eyes cast for posterity. Well, That wasn’t the case. I figured, if celluloid was man-made, It would dissolve, As readily as anything. So, I filmed for the payout, For carnival tours in need of new attractions. It was a living While it lasted, Until the bigwigs muscled in, Consolidating all the profits for themselves. I didn’t stick around long after. Could’ve struck it rich, maybe, Married a starlet, But, what difference would it have made? Now, I won’t deny there weren’t nights dancing through moonlit bungalows Or mornings laid out on the beach with an empty bottle And hazy memories of Gilda or Laura or . . . See, parties end. That’s how they run. And eventually I ran out of odds jobs And started knocking over liquor shops and other small concerns. It lent its own air of excitement, I won’t deny it, But, I never thought myself better than anyone else; We’re all no better than warped filmstrips And a century from now most of us, Like the majority of those cheapies we shot for the Nickelodeons, Will be forgotten. So, to answer your question Why I’m loitering Beneath this decrepit marquee, Well, perhaps, part of me does Pine for parades gone by.




We were told we must do this to become actors. Or, at

Anyway, once she’d shed her human form and slunk

least we had to do it to pass Voice and Movement

away into the woods, she successfully tracked down a

class. That was the final, and all the professor said

tiger and, according to her recovered journal,

before unleashing us on the unsuspecting world.

scrutinized its every movement and mannerism to the

“Become an animal.”

unprecedented degree that it may benefit the science of zoology forever. Her writings will, I mean. According

I’d like to say that she threw her arms forward as

to her journal, she smeared stripes on her naked torso

though letting slip the dogs of us and that the doors of

with mud from the banks of the Narayani River, and

the theater hurled outward so we might rush out upon

with flint, she chipped her canine teeth into fangs,

the city with our fangs bared and talons extended. But,

which was probably unnecessary. To top it off, she

no, she just read it off a piece of paper, and then we

used bamboo wedges shoved underneath her finger

looked at each other kind of annoyed, like, “Oh, alright.”

and toenails to give herself claws.

However, some of the presentations were pretty

Ironically, Jessica was a vegan and unwilling to change

inspiring. Like Jessica’s.

her diet.

Jessica Smith, always one to go the extra mile, chose

Nevertheless, on her fourth day–her twenty-sixth

to become a tiger. That crazy kid actually flew out to

birthday for chrissakes–she was devoured by a 500

Nepal, learning some Nepali phrases on the twenty-six-

pound Bengal tigress who was very much not vegan.

hour plane trip (two stops to refuel) so she could most

This presumably occurred after Jessica attempted to

effectively locate a guide in Kathmandu. She wrote that

simulate nursing its cubs, an experience she wrote

was her reason for learning bits of a foreign language,

about in great detail, with accompanying sketches.

anyway. But I suspect she did it for extra credit. That was Jessica for you.

Look, I’m only human, and I got a thrill from studying those sketches.

Then, after the guide drove her into the Chitwan jungle, she dismissed him and disappeared into the wild. Or,

What was left of her was identified from bone bits

so she says, but I’m guessing he got annoyed and

discovered in tiger scat–along with those broken teeth.

ditched her. Now look who’s being catty. (My bad, I

I thought it was a shame about her teeth; she had a

shouldn’t speak ill of the dead.)

striking smile. Although, I suspect she had veneers.

For commitment, the professor commended Jessica

Afterward, the professor awarded him a C+ for

but awarded her a “D” after Jessica failed to attend the

“effective use of space,” but subtracted points for

presentation portion of the project. The professor used

altering his voice; Alex had been a beautiful singer.

that as an opportunity to hammer home the importance

Some of us grumbled that the professor was angry

of an unknown actor’s punctuality in the biz.

about the ears: rumors spread that Nathan had had inappropriate relations with the professor. If so,

More clever and economical was Alex Nathan’s choice

perhaps he better understood the business than the

to stay within the confines of our city and study the bats

rest of us. Nathan grew furious over what he felt was

at the zoo.

an unfairly low grade and flew away.

What I admired most about his project, overall, was his

Somehow, I felt I never fully meshed with the acting

willingness to undergo surgery on his vocal cords to

school. I allowed my insecurities to hold me back, I

achieve a bat’s maximum echolocation of 200kHz.

think, and I couldn’t relate to the younger, beautiful

Technically, the doctors could only get him up to

children in the class. I lived paranoid that everyone

150kHz but close enough. Keep in mind that a human’s

whispered about me, that they all met in secret to talk

echolocation peaks at 20kHz (that’s twenty, Alex

behind my back. But when the garbage bag I’d

amped his echolocation almost ten times a human’s

crammed myself into burst open onstage and all my

max capacity). Honestly, I’m not even sure what

thousand smaller selves overran the class, the

echolocation is. I guess it’s what it sounds like it is. But

professor’s dying words were: “Finally, someone

all of this took two significant operations and drastically,

understands: you must entirely dedicate every piece of

permanently changed his voice.

yourself to your art.”

And that thing those doctors did to his ears. Damn, that

I gave myself an “A.”

was tough to look at. Now the performance portion of Alex’s project was impressive as hell, even if it relied heavily on stagecraft. It just so happened that a local children’s theater was performing Peter Pan and Alex negotiated to borrow their flight harness. He also orchestrated a soundtrack with a local synth composer titled “Deepest Cave.” For Alex’s live presentation, he soared through the

Travis Flatt is a teacher living in Cookeville,

darkened auditorium to the sounds of a psychedelic

Tennessee. He enjoys fluffy dogs and fluffy dog-related

water drip echoing eternally from the center of

activities. His stories appear in Ab Terra Flash Fiction,


Hare’s Paw Literary, Chamber Magazine, and several other publications. Twitter with him at @TravisLFlatt,

He may have drugged our Diet Cokes.

and his Instagram is @tlflatt42.




and I don’t know why I need to go into a sweat lodge and talk to somebody else’s god I want to believe in everything so much in fifth grade at recess I sit on the stone wall and squish red bugs with my thumb I forget how to pray without scanning the output I extract poems from private conversations with an icon my babushka painted my mom still wants to talk about her father’s missing toe and I dodge her calls like sympathy smiles I am in kindergarten and I hug my friends too hard and the teacher asks me why I push crayons so fervently into paper and I tell her I like how it feels like velvet: loud and quiet, soft and sharp the boundaries between these blur and I am often confused about how much I am

supposed to feel by reflex I dull the senses I step out of my mouth and decipher how best to catch these fireflies where to put them what colors they might live happiest under if they bite holding hands with my addiction to sugar the ambiguity follows me around like a dog while I stir this lukewarm pool like a coin stuck in two options schrodinger’s cat forever exists in this stillwater before the answer my flowery skirt a merry go round river sewn to my waist—a circular flag facing upward, performing for heaven’s fuzzy seats lefter and looser I’m untwisting a screw to save my right leg from running itself off if you ask Odysseus about the boar I bet he gets quiet and rubs the scar above his knee unconsciously


what is a vile empty but a vase split open with soil bleeding from its belly like a red carpet laid before it into an endlessly expanding echo

Kira Stevens has an MFA in Creative Writing and a BS in Psychology. Her chapbook "Highly Noted and Other Poems" was published by Lillet Press in 2022. Her work has appeared in Delaware Bards Poetry Review, Glassworks Magazine, Prometheus Dreaming, and others. Follow her on Instagram @words4food and Twitter @kirawritespoems.

Ocean M



Ocean was painted two years ago while under quarantine. I was missing the travelling and the shore and wanted to paint a landscape. Instead of the typical beach and umbrella scene, I wanted to make a more cerebral representation of the colors of the ocean with dark lines of melancholy and longing.

M Patrick Riggin is a Pittsburgh born writer and artist. Three rivers, rust and grey skies are the artists' palette. 56



Mark writes poetry and fiction. He holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a BS and MBA. He is a lifelong resident of the Chicago area and currently lives in a northern suburb near the shore of Lake Michigan and in Naples, Florida. His current work will be appearing in: Calliope, Former People Journal, Sincerely Magazine, Mignolo Arts, Blue Lake Review, Naugatuck River Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, Griffel, Wood Cat Review, and The Rockvale Review.

The One

I am a wasteland lost in layers of dreams Inception, The Matrix Dorothy and her little dog Toto wandering and wondering what the thunder said as it pummeled a pulpy sky lost in the Texas hills where Matthew moves books as the interstellar dust settles on the layers of time where the now is the next and the then has already happened in the was which has vanished where finding a heart and courage and wisdom is all that matters as we face our fears in this game of chess watch your pawns not to be trusted in the dreams within the dream where gravity evades grasp sending quantum particles deep into Heisenbergean Uncertainty momentum and position unknown how knowing where you are is knowing nothing since you are in my arms and in that holding that skin to skin breath to breath scent of death as those desperate last gasps scramble your throat I realize you have always been The One


Cloudy Days Diana


Once in a while there’s a heavy cloud looming over my horizon: I wonder how it got there and when will it leave. It’s as if the universe has pushed smoke in my eyes— the visibility more gray. This last time was scary as I gathered tranquilizers in one place: a safely hidden bottle no words on it, except, out— a message to myself. I went to sleep with it at my bedside, without taking one, I awakened the next morning, eyes open, but body still not wanting to budge. I roll over, hug my sixteen year old Maltese poodle, and tell him to hold me tight because if I go, I want his spirit to come with me. This ritual goes on for a few days until I decide to call my shaman who sets me straight and tells me that the universe is not ready to lose me and he would also be very sad. I tell him it doesn’t matter

and he shakes his head and says it does. He glances up to the heavens for answers and tells me that the voices in my head are wrong and need to change. I agree— go get some lemon water, meditate, take a sauna and do yoga, and remember that there are five grandchildren out there who love you, he says. I just can’t do what my grandma did to me and overdose when I was just ten.

Diana Raab, PhD, is an award-winning memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, and author of 10 books and is a contributor to numerous journals and anthologies. She blogs for Psychology Today, Thrive Global, Sixty and Me, Good Men Project, and The Wisdom Daily and is a frequent guest blogger for various other sites. Visit Twitter: dianaraab Instagram: dianaraab 60

This Wallet This wallet is the last I will ever have. I've got it penciled in like a line-up: as the leather wears, so will I, broken in like my baseball glove, just as the final innings fade away. I remember the wallet I lost at fifteen. Like my dad's, of shiny black calf's leather for a birthday, but Dad's was old, buffed by wear stretched and rounded by mysterious bulk. Mine so light, was it in my pants or not?

Michael Bickford

writes on the Redwood Coast of FarNorCal with the Lost Coast Writers Cooperative. His work has appeared in Toyon, Seven Gill Shark Review, and The North Coast Journal.

. .

It fell at a Fox matinee from the pocket of my navy-style white bellbottoms as I watched The Happening, with that Supremes hit song. I don't know what else was in that wallet, but I recall a picture of a girl, tucked away in dark folds, sex-redolent in warm calfskin. I see a face, hear a name, and feel a weekend afternoon, the tree we climbed, the fort we dug in black suburban soil but cannot reach that place in time held deep in slots and sections of my mind. The girl and I, the matinee Supremes, their song, the tree fort afternoon my father, ball glove, and this wallet, all will fall into creases and crevasses, recesses and wrinkles of red-gray time, the convolutions of my dying brain, and this last, not-yet-lost wallet will live on in someone else's pocket, being as it is already dead.

Be careful Serge


Be careful is a representation of two leopard front legs to maximize the message in the work. Their strength is however in danger of the blue scales wrapping themselves at the bottom of the legs. Every creature is vulnerable no matter how strong they think they are. And we are a part of Nature.

Serge describes his paintings as eclectic. The images are a blend of the natural world and imaginary creatures. Serge emigrated to Brooklyn from Belgium in 1960. After graduation, he became a medic in the Air Force. He earned a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Russian Literature and taught at the University of Alaska. He is also a published poet, novelist, playwright and artist. 62

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