a publication of Rowan Universityâ€™s Master of Arts in Writing
the nostalgia of childhood the breakdown of marriage and the realities of parenthood
Cover art: “Montague St.” by Lauren Jonik
EDITOR IN CHIEF Katie Budris
The staff of Glassworks Magazine would like to thank Rowan University’s Master of Arts in Writing Program, Rowan University’s Writing Arts Department, and The Glassworks Advisory Board: Ron Block, Lisa Jahn-Clough, Andrew Kopp, Jeffrey Maxson
MANAGING EDITOR Andrew Davison
Cover Design & Layout: Katie Budris Glassworks is available both digitally and in print. See our website for details: RowanGlassworks.org
Glassworks accepts literary poetry, fiction, nonfiction, craft essays, art, photography, short video/film & audio. See submission guidelines: RowanGlassworks.org
Glassworks is a publication of Rowan University’s Master of Arts in Writing Graduate Program Correspondence can be sent to: Glassworks c/o Katie Budris Rowan University 117 Bozorth Hall Glassboro, NJ 08028 E-mail: GlassworksMagazine@rowan.edu Copyright © 2016 Glassworks Glassworks maintains First North American Serial Rights for publication in our journal and First Electronic Rights for reproduction of works in Glassworks and/or Glassworks-affiliated materials. All other rights remain with the artist.
SENIOR EDITORS Rachel Howe Keri Mikulski ASSOCIATE EDITORS Patricia Dove Michael Nusspickel POETRY EDITORS Gabrielle Lund G. Mitchell Layton FICTION EDITORS Michael Comoroto Michael Fotos NONFICTION EDITOR Elaine Paliatsas-Haughey MEDIA EDITORS Denise Brewer Patrick Murphy Jessica Tuckerman COPY EDITORS Eric Avedissian Rachel Carly Nicolina Givin John Gross Sarah Knapp Jordan Moslowski Amanda Rennie Rachel Saltzman Jacqueline Session Ausby Emily Strauser Myriah Stubee Christina Thomas Alexis Zimmerman
glassworks Fall 2016
MASTER OF ARTS IN WRITING GRADUATE PROGRAM ROWAN UNIVERSITY
Issue 13 | Table of Contents Poetry
Jeffrey Alfier, Fugitive | 4
The Guadalquivir in August| 3
Kevin Brown, Hephaestus | 26
Joy Carter, The Air Tastes of Earthworms | 20
Live Things in You | 21
Clayton Adam Clark, Skinned | 24
Susan Eisenberg, Escape Plan, Five Years Old | 47 Robert Fillman, Automat | 56
Clarinet Man | 54
Beth Paulson, No Imminent Danger | 60
Zachary Riddle, Homecoming | 49
P.J. Sauerteig, King Davidâ€™s Butterfly | 5
John Stephens, Basement Asylum | 36
Huset | 37
Jeanine Stevens, A Universe of Parentheses | 46
Joanna White, Diner | 44
Fiction Vincent Douarre, The Mumblers | 38
Kathryn Hill, Salvation | 52
Mary Ann McGuigan, Asunder | 8 Emily Weber, Half Empty | 27
Nonfiction Laura Bernstein-Machlay, Cirque de Celia | 57
Art Lauren Jonik, Building Reflections in Dumbo | 6 Montague St. | cover Union Square | 22 Ekaterina Popova, Just Like I Remember It | 45
Katâ€™s Room | 35
Memories Remain | 19 Restful | 48
The History of Glassworks
The tradition of glassworking and the history of Rowan University are deeply intertwined. South Jersey was a natural location for glass production—the sandy soil provided the perfect medium, while plentiful oak trees fueled the fires. Glassboro, home of Rowan University, was founded as “Glass Works in the Woods” in 1779. The primacy of artistry, a deep pride in individual craftsmanship, and the willingness to explore and test conventional boundaries to create exciting new work is part of the continuing spirit inspiring Glassworks magazine.
The Guadalquivir in August Jeffrey Alfier
Daybreak, and I amble down Almansa through haze that screens all thoroughfares. This is my timeless habit, as are sleepless eyes, heart meds, fried eggs, letters I forever fail to send home. For now, this river grows only silence: embankment walls beveled with first light, stone stairs that dip to its smoke-green glissando. The sun begins its hard lock on the streets. By noon, every doorway will be threshed by heat. On Isabell’s bridge, someone still sings last night’s ballads. I want to join in, but a raw tongue and dry throat have stolen the words I need. The river conducts its first traffic. Crows appear unsummoned like blown cinders, lumbering in the soft surprise of blue, troweling with beak and claw the scraps of castoff fish. I watch the bridge, the errant singer now gone. A kestrel’s shadow wheels in from nowhere, hangs flightless over the river.
Fugitive Jeffrey Alfier
6 a.m., I-10 through Banning Pass. I roll the Peterbilt window down, let rainy fog chill me awake, fumble for cigarettes somewhere on the seat. With dawnlight cresting Indio, I gain a hitchhiker, maybe 18 or 20. Hair tied back in rubber bands, her eyes study the road as if she doubts the horizon, or if I might lose it. We make talk. She says she can’t recall the day she went fugitive from home, nor said where home was, and I never cared to ask. I only asked where she was bound. All she replied was Havasu, and I hate this whole fucking state. She got out at Flying J truck stop, just past Blythe — said that was far enough, thanked me, grabbed my smokes off the dash, and dissolved into distance and sun-glare. I watch wind sweep diesel smoke and the reek of rain and reefer she left in my cab, scents never in a hurry to leave. Unlike her, time enough to hitchhike to what’s needed in Havasu, from what voices back home had left her alone with so little time to forgive.
King David’s Butterfly P.J. Sauerteig
Even children know about how caterpillars turn into butterflies. But few know that butterflies can, and sometimes do, fold back into pupas. I have seen it happen. My wife looks at me from the doorway the way Bathsheba surely looked at David– when, summoned by strange men, she stood in the king’s chamber, curling her toes on the infinitely smooth granite, trying to smile, standing still, and conscious of the steady drip from her still-wet hair. My wife stands there in the doorway, dressed in black, as if still in mourning, all these years later, for the thing that once blossomed inside her, then just as soon festered into wine. As if, in the unseeable dawn of life’s light, it shuddered, turned away, and melted into salt.
Building Reflections in Dumbo Lauren Jonik
Mary Ann McGuigan
The chair had no give. Straightbacked, it cut into Moira’s spine, so she remained at the edge, at an awkward angle, no place to put her knees. Father Bertwin had settled into the leather chair on the opposite side of the desk, an impeccably uncluttered surface occupied only by a small metal pencil holder, the tape machine he’d brought in to record their conversation, and a drab green blotter that would certainly not be doodled on. The office was boxy, the heavy curtains drawn. It had the feel of a confessional. Father Bertwin had insisted Moira come here to review Ken’s petition for annulment, gave her an hour. She was done. Now she knew what the priest knew, and she wished she could find a way to finish this without being obliged to look at him. The Church had assigned Father Bertwin to be Moira’s advocate. It was his job to make sure she understood the grounds for nullity and to protect the marriage bond, which the Church considered to be intact. Their divorce a year before and their two sons had no bearing. She had responded in writing to the tribunal as requested, a threepage, single-spaced hemorrhage of first this then that—none of which had ever been set down, not even
for the divorce lawyer—making the case that her ex-husband’s request for annulment be denied. But no narrative could convey her longing to hear him say her name or what it felt like to become the anonymous being who walked from one room to another, tending his children, sharing silent meals, a creature who warranted no affection. “You’ve completed your reading?” Bertwin said, sounding imperial, removed. Moira nodded. She was shaken, her breathing shallow. She wished she hadn’t interfered. She could have let Ken’s petition go uncontested. Now she’d been trapped in the labyrinth, forced to read the case Ken had made against her. She felt lightheaded, barely able to sit up straight. She didn’t understand why Bertwin wanted her to read this. Had he expected her to come upon something she didn’t already suspect? That had not happened. But she had been holding on to the possibility that Ken was telling her the truth all these years, that he had not slept with the girl, that he had loved her, at least in the beginning. Bertwin turned on the recorder, leaned back in his chair. The button on the old machine made a sharp sound, like fingers snapping. “You’ll
or calling the girl, the person they pretended didn’t matter? Once he returned, he’d undress out of sight in their closet, slipping out of the sweat suit Moira would toss in the hamper next day. If it was cold enough, his skin would still be chilled when he came to bed. She’d rub his arm or his back, but he’d pat her hand then turn away, so she stopped touching him, stopped expecting him to acknowledge she was there. In the mornings, when she kissed him good-bye, his lips did not part for her, and even without the children nearby to distract them, he did not embrace her. She would walk to the train station, studying her boots. It had been that way a very long time by then. She no longer cried the whole way. Unbidden, images of Ken with the boys would soften the edges of doubt. Instinctively, he’d know why they were crying or why they sulked, and how to distract them. “You’re welcome to respond to any part of it,” Moira heard Bertwin say. He snapped open his briefcase, removed a notebook, placed it on the desk, opened to a clean page. The expensive pen he slipped from an inside pocket sat poised in his long fingers, like a scalpel. “He mentions the affair,” she said. “Yes,” he prompted. “He says
Mary Ann McGuigan | Asunder
need to speak clearly,” he told her, without apology. After all, as a petitioner her ex-husband had brought this matter to the attention of the Tribunal of the Roman Catholic Diocese. “To rule on an annulment, conditions must be met,” he said. “And there is only one condition under which the Church will grant your husband’s petition: He must prove a grave lack of judgment in entering the marriage—that he failed to appreciate the obligations of marriage or to assess his ability to meet them. Has this been made clear to you?” “Yes.” She wondered what kind of a man could be part of a dissection like this. Bertwin’s face offered no clues. No wrinkles or smile lines. His expression was nearly blank, a few degrees short of bored. His hair was thinning, his voice measured. His demeanor was meant to convey balance and neutrality, but the collar did most of the work for him. Its associations for Moira were intractable—remnants of an Irish Catholic childhood in which idolatry trumped logic. A panicky tingling lingered along the backs of her legs, the kind that woke her in the night, even now, years after she first suspected what was going on with the girl. She was having trouble focusing, being present in the room. She was back there, waiting up for Ken to return from his nightly walk. Was he keeping fit
he met her when Sean was six.” She’d done the math. The girl couldn’t have been more than seventeen then. “That would add up.” “Sean is your older boy, correct? Three years older than Michael?” “Yes,” she said, and he made a note of it, as if it were new information. “And he was twelve by the time you separated?” “Yes.” “And that’s when you became aware something was wrong?” She saw it was a mistake to mention the affair. He was going to focus on it. “That’s when I began to suspect. Yes.” “But you didn’t separate? Not until six years later?” “That’s right,” Moira whispered. Her tolerance must seem pathetic, even to a priest. But the idea of separation—the idea of anything other than a remedy—took years to form. Maybe for Ken too. He’d taught her how to press a rose, though she rarely bothered, but she’d find them tucked into biographies and textbooks she hadn’t trashed, wondering which anniversaries they marked. As things deteriorated, she dragged him to therapy, where he would politely say next to nothing. She believed she could fix them. At one point, she even asked about the girl—fear disguised as curiosity, trying not to accuse—but got no closer to the truth. Father Bertwin tapped the barrel
of his pen against his palm. “Does that stand out for you? His admission of the affair?” She wondered at the look on his face, as if he too wanted something reconciled. “Yes. I’m surprised he mentions it at all.” Her voice weakened. She didn’t want to say any more about it. Bertwin did. “I’m sorry. Could you repeat that?” He motioned toward the tape recorder. “For the machine.” Moira looked into his eyes, but there was nothing to indicate he understood this kind of humiliation. She leaned forward. “I’m surprised he acknowledged having the affair.” “He never acknowledged it to you?” “No.” He underlined something in his notebook. “Why do you think he wants the annulment?” “That’s an easy one.” Her laugh was not a laugh. “He wants to start over with a squeaky clean conscience, take a hose to his past.” “So why not let him?” She wanted to slap this man. He thought his church could replay a marriage and rule it out of bounds. “If this were just between Ken and the Church, I wouldn’t care what you did.” Moira picked up the heavy folder, felt her face go hot. “I’m not doing this because I care what the Church thinks.” Bertwin’s wince was barely noticeable. “I’m here for my sons and for me. The marriage
recorder. “Tell me, Moira. Why do you think he’s revealing these things now?” It was the voice of the confessional, the one meant to make you believe in second chances. She wondered how many times he’d play back her answers, listening for secrets. “I have no idea why,” she said. He seemed edgy now, almost angry. Removing his glasses, he pulled his collar away from his neck. “Perhaps we need to approach this from another direction.” He turned the recorder back on, leaned forward a bit. “To annul, the Church must establish whether there was anything that kept him—either of you, really—from entering into the bond freely at the start.” He waited a beat. “May I call your attention to a later section of the transcript,” he said, turning the page. “You saw this?” She realized what he was pointing to. “I saw it.” “Permit me to read it aloud,” he said, putting his glasses back on. “Perhaps it will help us think more clearly about this.” Moira swallowed hard. She was perspiring. “Question,” he began, “And what were your feelings on your wedding day? Answer: I wasn’t happy; I didn’t want to go through with it.” Moira remembered the heat that day, her hair heavy on her neck as
Mary Ann McGuigan | Asunder
was real. Life can’t be nullified.” The folder landed hard on the desk, tipping the pencil holder. Bertwin righted it. “So you suspected he was having an affair?” The question made her eyes sting. She would not be able to answer him, not without crying. She nodded. “Aloud please,” he told her, pointing to the recorder. Moira had trouble swallowing. “Yes,” she whispered. Bertwin seemed to take longer than needed making his notes. “With whom?” “What?” “With whom did you think he was having the affair?” Moira had to catch her breath. She remembered having to work up the courage to ask why the meetings at school lasted so long. How complicated could planning a prom be? Why was he always the one to drive the girl home? She was crazy to be asking such things, she thought, twisted. Innocent things began to haunt her—his car radio set to a pop station he’d never listen to, calls he’d end as soon as she entered the house, those hour-long walks, rain or shine. “Did you ask him that?” she said. “The tribunal would not ask him that question.” “Then I don’t understand.” “I’m asking it. I’m asking you.” “I didn’t know who it was.” Bertwin looked away, as if embarrassed for her, and turned off the
they assembled in the park for the photographer. Ken was stiff, ill at ease.
“He lowered his head to
hear something she was saying.When he answered, the girl giggled. The sound
was like a warning.
“Question: You knew you didn’t want to get married? Answer: Yes, I knew that I didn’t.” The photographer tried to get Ken to relax, stand closer to her, get him to smile. She wanted that too. Ken stood where he was told as the photographer placed his arm around her waist. Ken’s touch was light, obedient, and she wondered if this was how actors felt when they took direction. It reminded her of the last time they were in bed together. They’d made love only once in several weeks. They’d been busy with the wedding arrangements, up late, tired. They watched a movie that night, drank wine, she, at least, hoping it would relax them. But he couldn’t get hard, blamed it on the wine. He went down on her but her body resisted, until she found herself imagining that the face between her legs was Richard’s, a young man Ken once taught with, a man he had always disliked. Moira
had never imagined such a thing before, but the thrill of it, the feeling that she’d escaped some arid place, overcame her, carried her a safe distance away. “Question: Why didn’t you want to go through with it? Answer: Because I didn’t love her. I never really loved her, not the way I should have.” Bertwin put the papers down. “What have you to say to that?” Moira’s fists were clenched. Again she’d been found wanting. She tried for an even tone, but the bitterness wouldn’t stay down. “I’d say that’s less than 100 percent.” “Moira,” Bertwin said, almost in a whisper, as if he was going to say something kind. But it was only more of the same. “Moira, does this match your understanding of the way things were that day? Did you have a sense that something was missing?” She wanted to laugh. Was he really smug enough to believe he and his Church could get to the truth? “He said he loved me and wanted a family. Whether he was lying then or now is anybody’s guess.” “Do you really believe that? That he didn’t love you?” Bertwin sounded stern. “It’s a lie,” she said. “You sound certain.” She wasn’t. Never had been. “It’s the reason I’m here. We had something special once.” “And the affair?” “That’s a lie too.” She clung to
said more than once. Still, she promised herself she would ask him about it later. But he made love to her fiercely that night, and she let that be her answer. “But you wanted to marry Ken?” “Yes, I wanted to marry him,” Moira insisted. “Why do we have to do this?” Bertwin clasped his hands in front of him on the desk. She saw he was ready. He’d slice her open, show her the rot he’d found. “I spoke just yesterday to the tribunal, including the Judicial Vicar. I assure you Ken’s case does not seem as weak to them as it does to you. He has stated that he did not love you, that he was not prepared to enter what the Church calls ‘a partnership of the whole life.’
Mary Ann McGuigan | Asunder
this, no less than she did then, like the night of that tournament game, when she saw him with the girl in the stairwell near the gym. She was against the wall, and he was close, surely too close. He was resting his forearm against the wall, as if to block her way. Their bodies were touching. They had to be. They didn’t see her. He lowered his head to hear something she was saying. When he answered, the girl giggled. The sound was like a warning. She should not see this. She should leave. Still, she imagined what the girl might smell like, some combination of fruity shampoo and stale gum. Ken looked over his shoulder—to be sure they were alone?—before his hand disappeared inside her denim jacket. Moira made a little sound, an audible shiver, as if the moment had become too ugly to watch. Then the
“She mattered to him. She must have. The changes
came later, slowly, the wordless dinners, the space between them in the night, the longing to be held, to
be loved again...
door to the landing opened, and Ken stepped away, greeted the boy who passed. Standing there, her jacket open now, the girl raised her hand to her breast, cupped it for him, and he nodded, as if the gesture were familiar. Young girls were bold, he had
Evidence of his love for you at the time would be very useful.” “Evidence?” Was he joking? Was there a blood test for commitment? By the time Michael was born, Ken was so distant their sex was like a well-rehearsed
flop. It wasn’t like that in the beginning. He wanted her. She made him happy. They laughed. He told her things, things she was sure he’d never told anyone. She mattered to him. She must have. The changes came later, slowly, the wordless dinners, the space between them in the night, the longing to be held, to be loved again, the night with John—hardly more than an acquaintance—a single night that would leave her broken and uncertain. They’d worked
“He wrote a note inside, describing how sorry he was and how much he loved her. It was her amulet, her protection from the abyss. She would not bring it out to be weighed and judged inadequate. It was proof enough for her.
late together on deadline, post production on a video her client needed for a conference. John’s flirting was routine by then, bolder only because he could count on her refusals. But something was different and he knew she was staying in the city. He showed up at her room with a bottle of Stag’s Leap and an obscenely
huge lollipop, an obvious reference to their earlier exchanges. But that’s not what she wanted, and he obliged. She liked how hungry he was, tender, and later when they realized the condom had broken, he lay still for a very long time, resting close to her on his elbow, his hand spread wide on her stomach, until the traffic in the street below thinned and the quiet of the place became their own. For a long time afterward, she could still feel the tears and the way his fingers felt on her cheek. “Do you have any letters? Letters would be very powerful.” She had no letters, only cards. Birthday cards. Valentine cards. All composed by Hallmark and closed with barely more than his name. She shook her head no, but Bertwin was unconvinced. “This is important, Moira. There must be something. A letter. A note.” There was. A card. The only “evidence” she had of his feelings that wasn’t canned or formulaic. She kept it safe in a thick anthology of Irish poets, a good place for lost causes, a book she never planned to return to. The card came in the mail soon after they told Sean and Michael they were separating. It was one of those cards that asks forgiveness when none can be had, pointless, like get-well wishes for the terminally ill. But he wrote a note inside, describing how sorry he was and how much he had loved her. It was her amulet, her protection from
grasp the banister. In the lobby, he made certain once again that she had his card. He took her hand to say goodbye. His was surprisingly warm. She turned away, stepped outside into the brilliant day. She felt lightheaded at once. Even her skin felt flimsy. Her parking space seemed far away; the sunshine, like a weight. She heard footsteps, and Bertwin was beside her again. “Let me walk you to your car.” “Thank you. I’m fine.” “I have a few more questions. A few things are still not clear.” She didn’t believe that. She was sure he had his answers. “I really need to get back.” He pointed to a concrete bench facing a statue of St. Francis, kept safe behind layers of expertly tended flowers. Peace of heart in this place, she thought, was all a matter of good order. They sat down together as if on cue. He settled himself, adjusted his jacket. “I must ask you a question that may upset you.” Moira laughed. “Why stop now?” He let this go. “It seems as if... well... I can’t help thinking there’s something about this affair of his that you preferred not to know.” Moira felt her heart pounding. “I can see why you would. Six years is a long time.
Mary Ann McGuigan | Asunder
the abyss. She would not bring it out to be weighed and judged inadequate. It was proof enough for her. “I have nothing like that,” she told him. “Two sons? Making a life together? That’s not enough?” “The affair—given the length of it—may in fact lend weight to his assertion that he should not have married.” “Why isn’t the burden on him? Make him prove he never loved me.” Proof had kept her waiting years. She’d remained unsure about Michael, tortured that he might be John’s child, until he outgrew every third grader, the way Ken surely had as a boy. “I’m afraid he may have done that already.” Clearly Bertwin had some stake in this. He stopped the recorder. “I think we’re done here,” he said. He stood, took the folders, pushed them back into his briefcase. Moira got to her feet, gathered her things. As she came around the desk, he stepped in front to block her way. “I want you to think about this,” he said. “You may have overlooked something that would shed light.” She was done with this. She stepped around him and opened the door. He offered to accompany her to the main hall and before she could refuse he was walking next to her. Her legs felt weak. The floor was so shiny she was afraid she’d slip, yet she couldn’t imagine taking his arm. She was relieved when they got to the wide stairs and she could
I should have left him sooner.” “I don’t mean that. I can understand your not facing it then. You would have been risking everything. It’s something else, something you want to avoid looking at too closely. Even now.” “You must see how humiliating this has been,” she said, hoping that would satisfy. Could Ken still be charged with something? The girl was an adult now. “If an annulment is about correcting something, then we need to get to the truth.” He sounded so priestly she was embarrassed for him. “Some things can’t be corrected,” she said, almost tempted to pat his knee. She had wanted to abort, fearing the baby might not be Ken’s, but she couldn’t do it. The swelling—even when it required no more accommodation than unbuttoning her jeans—offered the promise that something might change. The undivided attention that a new baby demanded might finally call them back to each other. In her second trimester, Ken began to do the laundry now and then. He encouraged her to take walks, to plan a longer maternity leave this time. Whatever the truth about the baby—the child had been conceived if not out of love, then for fear of losing it. “But we can still have the truth.” “I don’t see how.” Her voice was icy. She braced herself to hear him recite the Church’s balm for betrayal, some reassurance as potent
as holy water. “Stop him.” “What do you think I’m doing here? Why else would I want to rehash all this?” “To satisfy yourself you were the injured party,” he said. “We see this all the time.” “I know exactly who was injured,” Moira said, getting to her feet. He looked up at her, unimpressed, as if she were some minor player in this drama. “That’s not what this is about.” “What is it about then?” She braced for more of his twisted logic, smug abstractions that had nothing to do with anything real. “It’s about protecting the Church.” She wanted to laugh. “Protecting the Church. That’s a pretty tall order,” she said, mostly to herself. “Certain behavior can’t be tolerated.” “Of course not. You just move the offender to some other parish.” She turned to go. “We’re not finished here,” Bertwin said, raising his voice, then, correcting his tone, “Please sit down.” He was starting to frighten her. She returned to the bench. “The Church must not grant this annulment, Moira, even if he has proved that he has legitimate grounds.” You bastard, she thought, and looked at him. He was perspiring. “I don’t get it,” she said. “Since when are you guys allowed to have
“Moira saw the harm this
man was willing to do, his determination to set things right. It drew her in,
He leaned closer, his voice dropping to a whisper. “We both know what this means.” She could feel his breath on the side of her face. “It doesn’t have to mean that,” she snapped. “He practically said so himself in his petition.”
“He wants you to believe there was an affair so you’ll grant the annulment.” “We can’t allow him to make a charade of this process.” She wanted to shake him. People had been hurt in this. “Don’t be ridiculous,” she said. “All annulments are charades. People trying to satisfy your rules. Ken’s petition is a lie.” “He’s not going to marry that girl in the Church.” Moira almost laughed. “Fine. Don’t grant the annulment.” “There may be no choice.” “Then I guess we both lose.” “I have no intention of losing. I’ll request an investigation.” She saw that he meant it. Even if he couldn’t prove anything, the school would certainly let Ken go. He’d never teach again. “This relationship of his is going to raise questions for a lot of people.” She thought of her sons, imagined how they would feel about their father if they learned about the girl. “You can’t do that. You don’t know for sure... I mean that there was anything like that between them back then.” “I do know, Moira. So do you.” She couldn’t look at him. She wanted no part of his certainty. Suspicion was the easier torment. Whose fault was this anyway? Whose failure? This priest
Mary Ann McGuigan | Asunder
your own opinion about something like this?” “A petitioner may not use an annulment to cover his tracks.” She watched his eyes narrow. He was taking aim again. “Tell me about this woman Ken intends to marry.” “I don’t know her,” she insisted. “She attended the high school where he teaches,” he said, uncrossing his legs. “Didn’t one of you mention that?” “I didn’t.” Moira was sure Ken hadn’t either. “I’ve spoken to people. I looked her up. Jennifer was her name, assisted him in the History Department, on the prom committee.” He waited for her to tell him what she knew. She wouldn’t.
thought he knew. He was ready to punish. She could let him. Maybe that would put an end to it. “If he’s granted the annulment, I’ll take this wherever it needs to go,” he told her. “Why do that now? She’s an adult. He’s going to marry her.” Moira saw the harm this man was willing to do, his determination to set things right. It drew her in, this conviction. Maybe there’d be comfort there. She leaned forward, rested her forehead in her hands. Ken fell out of love with her. That’s all she knew for sure. What price should he pay for that? “I have a card,” she told Bertwin. He waited for the rest. “You asked before if I have something... to show he loved me the day we married.” He leaned back, as if something had at last been properly aligned. “Very good,” he said. He put his hand on hers, as if to console. His satisfaction was like a victory lap. She hated him. This man thought she had what he needed to protect his Church—regrets scribbled in a moment of pity. But they had made no difference. They’d done no good. Until now.
Memories Remain Ekaterina Popova
The air tastes of earthworms, rain that never came Joy Carter mist mornings when the rusalka come crawling out of their waterways, into the trees. They watch for the drydwellers stumbling out of their homes, into the sun. In a tub, a million miles away, a woman can pretend she hears it too â€” the crawfish singing in the mountains and the scarecrow man dressed in his many murders. There, with the rescue-goldfish in lukewarm water she sinks, they flit around her knees, her body a bent and bowed coral reef. Breathing, barely. Estranged from all but porcelain tiles, the glint of gold she hears, she is sure, the reverberate through still water, even here in the stagnate it will reach her. A tug in her marrow, migration, return. Not hers.
Live Things in You Joy Carter
There’s a science to this. An art to revenge found only in back alleys, on the tongue of the street corner duenna who speaks in a startle-gasp for the violets a man painted across your cheekbones, for his split-lip odes. It comes with good science, riddled with disclaimers, instructions in the karma of physics— every reaction has an equal, an opposite reaction— The market price is a wisdom tooth fresh pulled, blood still clinging to the roots, a white handkerchief, pressed and non-negotiable. Accept the brown paper bag with the shy eight-legged lady inside and squint when you stumble back onto Main Street, away from lattices of drying herbs, and the women who know too much, just like you know too much now. The man’s knuckles are bruised, but he sleeps easy. A spider is nothing to slip onto his pillow, where she lays her eggs under his tongue. Born under his skin they weave webs in his arteries, cataract his eyes; every muscle a twitch, an ache. They linger, make a home of him —He can’t feel them, now.
Union Square Lauren Jonik
Clayton Adam Clark
After three days no-call, no-show at work, police found him hanging by the heirloom belt. His parents called her, a thousand miles away —one of the first. Fly in for the services? Of course. Eat dinner with them? Of course. It’s been too long. After a shower, she rubbed a towel down her arms until she recognized their hair. She always thought it grew in the same grain as the muscles beneath, but it didn’t. Sweat welled up in her pores, triggered by steam that settled much as dust had in the kitchen of his family’s cottage. She sat on the tub ledge and, with a cheap razor, shaved each forearm and the muted fuzz above her humerus. She couldn’t find his note in the red nicks around her elbow but wondered if she gouged her finger into a cut, would she, boring past capillaries to veins that rushed her back to her heart that shoved her forth to the cliff ledges of her body, would she ever arrive where their cells commingled still, a cottage bedroom, the quilt they’d loved on, their fluids dried as one stain, or any edge she could reach inside his body from— could she thrust her fingers through the cave-in he forged from his trachea,
birthing a welcome aperture to draw red into his lungs then heart then arteries, down to waken feet that scrabble the closet floor for stance, the tingles of sleepâ€™s needles pricking his soles as the skin of a cow, now dead for generations, bears his weight to rise. Her bones were her bones, but were his still his? Could she bury herself in layers of him like the honest weight of a quilt that burdened her body to the bed that winter? She was touching her humerus, one of its knobby ends, and felt the tendons clutching true.
Hephaestus Kevin Brown
Your hands, marked with scars, wide and rough, hold a red-orange nectarine. Wrapped in your short, thick fingers, it will be crushed under pressure. You are not gentle with my heart. You open it with your Hephaestus hands. Is this why I take the silver-white of another man’s arms wrapped around me, another man’s long, thin fingers? It is not enough. I cannot avoid shame-riddled desire when I imagine the rough of your hands against my skin. I cannot help wanting your fingers digging deep, fingernails pressing crescent red imprints in my skin. This mix—this desire and disgust. How did Aphrodite avoid this?
Half Empty Emily Weber
Mona wasn’t much anymore, really. Nothing besides the contents of her phone, her backpack and a studio apartment an hour from the airport. She herself made up the contents of an uncomfortable pleather chair. Rows of chairs made up the gate. Many gates made a terminal, many terminals an airport, a sprawling city. She wondered how far back the camera would pull until it settled on something worth the trouble of existence. The meds had stuffed her head with cotton and burned her eyes deadbeat red. She alternated between looking out the terminal’s floor-to-ceiling windows as full planes cruised the tarmac under the direction of men in bright vests and scanning the travelers occupying Gate B3, non-stop service to Pittsburgh. A few lonely but nondescript men in khakis reserved seats for nobody with their black laptop bags; a young blonde woman with dark circles under her eyes hovered over a three-year-old aggressively tapping an iPad; a college kid sported the confusing combination of a man bun and a Steeler’s sweatshirt. If she had been casting a scene set in an airport gate, these would have been exactly the right extras. On the train to the airport, she’d texted Angelika: Are you positive you
want me there? I’ll be of no help to you. Four minutes later: Don’t flake on me. I need you. Now, with time to kill at her gate, Mona opened and closed the Messages app a few times, opened and closed her email, Spotify, news apps, her mind refusing to settle on anything. She reopened her messages and replied: My brain doesn’t work right on these new meds. Angelika: You’re going to make your flight, right? I’ll kill you if you’re not here. Not even boarding for another 15 minutes, Mona typed. Don’t finish setting up Alien Monster’s room without me. That moniker had been the first thing out of Mona’s mouth when she saw Ang’s baby on the ultrasound monitor: He’s like… an alien monster or something! The doctor had smiled politely—probably the same smile reserved for husbands who said similarly dumb things as they held their wives’ hands during the ultrasound. Ang had not smiled. Which was fine. Doctor’s visits were hard for both of them: Ang had been dumped three weeks before she found out she was pregnant with her ex’s kid. She was on the brink of Single Motherhood and doing her best not to panic about it. For Mona, every trip to a doctor could become a shaky blur of white coats
and sticky padded chairs and sterile metal reminding her of the three months between her sophomore and junior years of college when she’d been placed under what her mother generously called “medical supervision.” Mona hadn’t told Ang about any of it—the diagnosis, the lithium, the horribly boring day-to-day of life in a psych ward—until Ang returned to the States after a graduate painting seminar in Australia, tan and tenuous and ready to start her junior year. They tried not to bother each other unless it was life or death. The energy around Mona shifted: the others lined up in front of the gate, tickets and carry-ons and half-eaten soft pretzels in hand, shifting their weight from foot to foot like bored cattle. Here we go, she thought, rising unsteadily to her feet and joining the herd. ~ Ang called while Mona was waiting at baggage claim watching the same six bags ride the carousel. “Where are you?” “Hello to you, too,” Mona said. “I’m waiting for my bag.” “I’m in short-term parking,” Ang said. “Find your bag and get out here.” Her voice was brusque and tight, like she was clipping the ends off every breath. “You okay?” Mona asked. Ang hung up on her. Mona’s sluggish thoughts accelerated and her stomach churned. A few minutes later she found her
bag and stepped out into the frigid Pittsburgh air, zipping her sweatshirt as far as the broken teeth allowed. Four hours and a few hundred miles north had dropped the temperature by thirty degrees. Past four lanes of buses, shuttles and honking cars, daylight flushed from the sky, casting the world in a dull shade of purplish gray. Heavy clouds draped the horizon and obscured the city skyline. Mona watched single travelers greeted by friends and family at the curb, listened as they hugged and pecked one another on the cheek and rushed to load bags and bodies into idling cars. When Ang pulled up beside her, Mona’s jaw tightened into a smile and she realized it was her first of the day. Ang limped around the front of the car and stood on the very edge of the curb. No rush in her at all, no cheery greeting. For a full three heartbeats—she could feel each of them—Mona couldn’t put it together. She fixated on Ang’s skin: sickly, bluish-green and pale. Her bloodshot eyes were underlined by bleary mascara smudges. “I lost him.” The rush of wind and passing cars nearly took the words with them. “What? When?” “Five days ago. Monday night.” Mona shook with the cold, with clammy animal confusion. “He’s gone?” Ang opened the rear passenger door and walked around the back
apartment had from
to festering, everything half-empty or half-full or
leaving Mona to take in her surroundings. In the five weeks since Mona had last been up to Pittsburgh to visit, Ang’s apartment had gone from nested-in to festering, everything half-empty or half-full or whatever. Every available flat surface, floors
included, was littered with halfeaten containers of congealed Chinese, Indian, and Thai takeout. Bowls with gray rings of dried milk at the bottom. Half-eaten bags of potato chips, half-consumed bottles of Diet Snapple and Coke, half-full sketchbooks open to blank pages, the edges of the filled sheets crinkled while the blank pages remained crisp. A half-full trash can missing a bag (had there been vomit in it recently?). The smell of the place, the unmoving air: Death had visited, trailing unkempt apathy behind it. “Yeah, I know,” Ang said, shuffling back in from the kitchen. “It’s been a rough week.” She cleared a space for Mona on the couch and fit herself into the other empty space, so perfectly indented that it was clear where Ang had spent most of her time over the past week. Mona flipped through the closest sketchbook. Each page displayed a different body part: a swollen foot, an ankle, a limp hand, an eyeball, the rough outline of a nose. Lifelike, precise lines, perfect shadows. Ang was the talented one with a Master’s degree and an ordered life and skills so advanced that they’d started growing outward instead of down. People went quiet when they looked at her art. “Are these you?” Mona asked,
Emily Weber | Half Empty
of the car to the driver’s side. Mona tossed her bag into the back seat and slammed the door hard. ~ It occurred to Mona during the silent trip to Ang’s Squirrel Hill apartment that it had probably taken her friend a great deal of energy to put on a coat, warm the car and find Mona at the airport. As had happened often between them in the past, they’d wordlessly agreed that Ang was not to entertain Mona as a guest, and Mona was not to comfort or confront Ang. Which was fine. Mona only had questions for which answers served no purpose. Ang entered without turning on the lights or removing her jacket; instead, she lit a cigarette on the way to the kitchen, opened a window, and perched on the counter to smoke,
holding up the sketchbook. Ang nodded. “The feet are mine, anyway.” “Are you working on anything new these days? Any new paintings?” “Not really.” They passed the rest of the evening nibbling takeout and chatting vaguely about whether Ang’s mother would be driving out from Philly (not soon, probably), how much time Ang was taking off from her
“The sun was always just
on the horizon, going or coming, as if it had better
people to see.
part-time job at the gallery (maybe another week or two), whether it was supposed to get any warmer over the coming week (it wasn’t). Early in the evening, Ang muttered something about being tired and retreated into her bedroom. Mona spread out on the couch and stared at the spider-vein cracks in the ceiling, listening to the apartment settle as her mind tried to force its way onto something else. The last time she looked at her phone, the clock read 1:25 AM. The next few days might as well have been one. The sun was always just on the horizon, going or coming, as if it had better people to see. They
spent mornings puttering around the apartment, filling and emptying bowls of cereal, losing the remote in the sofa, stretching and cramping up and stretching again. They slept at various times, drawing the blackout curtains together to choose when night came. The air in the apartment grew thick. Cups and bowls piled up, collecting used spoons like bouquets of roses. Mona reminded Ang that she could clean (or at least pile the dirty dishes in the sink). Ang just shrugged. ~ Mona was almost a full three days into the visit (eating stale Cheerios and questionable milk out of a measuring cup) when it occurred to her to wonder about the Alien Monster’s room. Ang was napping in her bedroom next to the would-be nursery, which had been the main purpose of this visit. There was a crib to assemble, secondhand baby clothes to sort, a rocking chair to sand and stencil. Mona pressed her ear to the closed nursery door. Meaning seemed to slip under the crack at the bottom, squeeze its way around the hinges: this was one of those rooms, she thought, that must be encountered in a profound literary sense, like Miss Havisham’s chambers in Great Expectations or the wallpapered room in that short story where the lady goes insane. As you do. What would never be in there kept her hand waiting on the doorknob.
dered back to the door of the baby’s room and, still on the other side, slumped to the floor. “Was I supposed to stay out?” Mona asked. “I don’t care,” Ang said. “It seems like you care.” “I shouldn’t, though.” Mona walked to the closed door and sat beside it, positioning herself as close to Ang on the other side as she could. “I like what you’ve done with the place. Know what it reminds me of ?” “What?” “There was a book I liked to read when I was…you know. Institutionalized.” “What was it about?” “It was called Red. Just Red. And it had pictures in it, like, famous pictures, I guess, that photographers had taken throughout the year. Festivals, little villages all around the world, kids with bright eyes staring right into the lens, that sort of thing.” Mona stared through the center of the painting leaned against the opposite wall; the red paint had dribbled down the edge of the hole in the center and pooled in crusty lumps on the hardwood floor. “There was this one picture that I would stare at,” she continued. “I could just stare at it for hours, not even really appreciating it, just literally combing over each pixel because it shut everything
Emily Weber | Half Empty
She opened the door gingerly and peeked in. The room was brighter than the rest of the apartment, lit by two curtainless, south-facing windows. Her first thought, after she got used to the brightness: bad horror flick. Then: art installation? Crimson paint coated the room: great vertical sprays on the back wall and more diminutive splatters on the ceiling, the floor, across the window, like the final squirt from the neck of a slashing victim. The baby’s things had been pushed hastily into one corner, and Ang’s paintings—seven of them, Mona counted—had been leaned around the perimeter of the room, perfectly spaced, wounds punched through their centers, red paint hurled through the holes. It was hard to tell where the ragged edges of the holes ended and where the paint had made it through to the wall. The room was so spectacular that Mona didn’t hear Ang come down the hall until she had shut the door firmly with Mona still inside. For the first time on this trip, Mona knew her place in the grieving sequence. There had been a moment, maybe several, when Ang had thrown red paint everywhere, slashed best work, maybe silently, maybe with howling tears, and then lined up the paintings against the wall like a firing squad and shot red paint through their wounds. She couldn’t say why, but the room made her feel grounded, present in her own head. A few minutes later, Ang wan-
off for a minute.” “What was it?” Ang asked. “I mean, what was the picture of ?” “A woman dancing,” Mona said quietly. “She was dancing in some kind of…sari? I don’t know. Those flowy silk things the women wear in India or Pakistan or wherever. She was halfway through a jumping spin, her arms were stretched up like a ballerina, and the red silk thing was flying out all around her, and the light billowed around her, and she had this look on her face like...” “Like what?” Mona sighed. “I don’t know. It changed depending on how I was doing, you know? I think I first liked the picture because she looked as unhinged as I felt. Her eyes rolled back in her head, like the dance was overwhelming her. But then sometimes she looked totally in control and focused, like nothing mattered except for that spin—not the photographer, not her clothing, not even the whole dance. Just that spin. If she could just complete that one, perfect spin, then she would be perfect.” Silence enveloped them for a moment until Mona’s brain started to pick out individual sounds interrupting its own static: the hum of the lights overhead, wind moving through the tree outside the window, a car door slamming, the distant wail of a siren. “Anyway,” she continued. “I had a... rough patch a few weeks in, and I ripped that page out of the book
and flushed it.” “You flushed it?” “Down the toilet,” Mona said. “I couldn’t look at it anymore.” This time the silence was so long that Mona figured Ang had fallen asleep. When she closed her eyes, she felt her body being pressed hard into the floor. She longed to feel in control, helpful. Maybe even comforting. Her thoughts dripped: paint on a hardwood floor, dried blood on a canvas, red gashes opening a wrist. “Ang?” Mona rapped on the door. “Does that help at all?” “Was it supposed to be helpful?” “Someday you’ll be visiting me in a psych ward,” Mona said, “telling me about the time you destroyed, like, five thousand dollars’ worth of your own paintings and lost your security deposit because your happiness died before it even got a chance to live.” “Yeah. Maybe.” Mona could hear her friend struggling to stand. “I would have come sooner, you know,” Mona said quietly. “If you’d told me.” Ang opened the door. “What good would that have done?” As she followed Ang out of the nursery, Mona shut the door almost all the way, letting a crack of light slice into the dark apartment. ~ Mona and Ang passed the remaining days in quiet that stretched and squished like taffy but never
way.” “Don’t you want a hug?” Ang asked quietly. Mona snorted. “Do you?” “I do, actually.” Something resembling a smile flickered between them for a moment and died. They slid from the car, hesitating for a beat before Ang pulled Mona into a stiff embrace. “I was going to call him Mykhail,” she said in Mona’s ear. “After my dad.” Mona pushed out of the hug. “Everyone would have pronounced it wrong,” she said. “He would have hated it.”
Emily Weber | Half Empty
reduced. On the last day, Mona was woken much earlier than normal by the screech of a tea kettle. Ang was in the kitchen opening and closing cabinets, stirring sugar into a mug, making much more noise than she had all week. Mona loaded her hands with as many bowls as she could carry to the kitchen and filled them with hot, soapy water. An hour later, they were packed and bundled for the trip back to the airport. Ang flicked through radio stations for a while, listening to bad talk radio and even worse country music. They came upon an even busier scene than they’d seen
“Crimson paint coated the room: great vertical sprays
on the back wall and more diminutive splatters on the ceiling, the floor, across the window, like the final squirt
from the neck of a slashing victim. six days prior: taxis and shuttles and pedestrian vehicles swerved around each other, jockeying for real estate at the curbs and honking when they cut each other off. Ang slammed the brakes twice to keep from rear-ending other cars. They were still technically moving when Mona opened the door, simultaneously reaching into the back seat to grab her bag. “Stay there,” she said to Ang. “You’ll only be here a minute any-
“I thought so, too.” Ang gave a half-hearted smile and started back to the car. “I’m glad you’re doing better,” she called over the roof before slipping into her seat and merging into the steady flow of airport traffic. Mona blinked fast in the bright sun, releasing tears built up by the wind. She shouldered her bag and passed through the sliding glass doors into the bright fluorescence of
lines, neat placards, overhead announcements that nobody was listening to, people of importance rushing to catch planes to meet other people of importance, star in their scenes, complain about the lines at the airport over dinner, move with dizzying excitement from one thing to the next with crisp energy. Pleasant, efficient futility. She wanted to star in it as much as she wanted no part of it. As Mona approached the back of the line at the checkin counters, the dull, cotton-headed feeling returned; for a moment, she wished it would stay with her forever.
Katâ€™s Room Ekaterina Popova
Basement Asylum John Stephens
Our home’s walls have become the coldest. We thaw awhile as the hands of the clock verge on the hour of divorcing. She lives in the basement, grants herself disunion, draws on walls, clutters herself into a corner. Late at night, I hear her whisper to a stranger over a phone. I think she says, “Baby, I love you.” Now he matters. The next time I see her, she is in the basement, cupping a moth cocoon.
You gave me a little life in a hus, its sodded side yard, our firstborn. I used to watch you in the kitchen slicing tomatoes into half moons. Now we lie silently under the ribs of an umbrella, watch the birch trees, and a hawk that kites the breeze and leers the nest of hungry chicks. In the evening I watch our cat, who, like you, homed these grounds for years, and who knows how to hide in flowers without moving a blade. Now she stirs, brushes against me, and runs outside. I watch her cross the darkening field, stalk misty grass. She, free and fearless, slips further from home, and the next day, after she struggles in return, and sleeps beside me, I think how good it is to have her back.
The Mumblers Vincent Douarre
You tell me you had a family house in the Mumbles, somewhere in Wales. I imagine darkness toppling out of darkness. Fishing nets hanging rotten. Slipping on shiny fish guts. Dusty clementines in a wooden bowl. You flash a picture on your phone. It looks clean, hermetically sealed. High cream walls. China red accents every now and then. Wifi, you tell me. I smile. ~ You shut the trunk on my little suitcase. I haven’t packed much, never have. I like the drama of walking with one small suitcase. The sound of my soles against the pavement isn’t the same that way. I seem more alone. You haven’t packed, truly. Keys and lighters in your pocket. Coats and boots on the back seat. Wetsuit in the trunk. Books in the glove compartment. You blow dust off the windshield. You don’t drive much. I wonder why you want to drive now. ~ You tell me I’ll love it. I’m sure that I will. You tell me you love me. I’m sure I do too. You adjust the rear view mirror, and I see myself. My face is muted by dirt and dust. I seem confused, disoriented. My legs are jammed, I can barely move. I keep putting my cap on and taking it off. I stare at its insides. There are black threads like hairs I would’ve lost. Fat stitches twisting caterpillar-like, but softer to the touch. You once told me you ate caterpillars when you were young. We were at my place, in my bed. My sheets are peach-colored, I grow lavender on my nightstand. You hate that about me. Every time you come, I need to hide the pot behind the toilet and pray I don’t forget it there. You said you ate caterpillars before kissing me. You wanted me to wriggle my nose, for my face to shrink in disgust. I did it, for the show. So you could have your laughs. I think I even called you caterpillar-tongue. ~ You start driving, and you don’t like talking when you drive. Your family never talks when they drive. I shouldn’t either. I shiver. The heat is broken. The faux-leather cracks cold under the weight of my body. I wrap a second scarf around my neck, and you scoff. I don’t want to look at you. Usually, I like looking at you, but if I do, you ask questions. Why am I staring? What am I thinking about? I don’t want these questions, because I can never answer them. I rarely have anything
Vincent Douarre | The Mumblers
interesting to say on the spot, I need time, I need some dirt and a stick to prod spirals with. So I usually shrug, and it is either another reason to fight, or another reason for you to think I’m slightly dumber than you are. I like watching you when you study, you don’t ask questions. Your arms, they’re so much bigger than mine. I could probably slip my slender limbs into your skin, and it would be like a loose sweater. I picture it like an oilcloth, some sort of nineties design you’d see in dusty photographs. You never think you’re ridiculous at the time. ~ You do not want to go to your home straight away. I close my eyes. First, we drive to the Gower peninsula, and we take a selfie with a sheep. Its dirty white wool is stained with a drop of pink. Others have slime green crosses. Lemon yellow arrows. Whose is whose? I wonder where the pink shepherd is. What he does with his sheep. Where he lives. The tide has receded, we can walk on stones to make it to an island. It juts out of the water, enormous, like a prehistorical back. In fact, everything has an artifact-like nature here. The limestones that serve as steps seem hollow, they exhale saltwater through their many crevices. I leap from one to the other, you struggle. I nearly twist my ankle, but keep leaping. You can probably see me in my tea-green coat, bopping up and down like some nineties cartoon animal. The sun reflects on my sunglasses. They used to be yours. Now I stole them. They are perfectly opaque, two circles like ponds, mercury green and blue, sometimes black. They reflect soda cans nestled in the stones. I crouch, waiting for you to catch up, but you rarely do. I keep leaping forward. I try not to fall or hurt myself. The stones feel grubby against my soles or the palms of my hands, like some magnified eggshell. ~ We go back to the car. You tell me I’m light-footed. The rain beats against the windshield and rivulets of gray water drown the road in front of us. The opacity allows for it to reflect us. We seem distorted and yet truthful. For some reason, the water captures mostly your image. Your beard, especially. I can grow one, but I don’t like it on me. You don’t like it on me. The hairs are weak, they curl and twirl serpentine around themselves, drowning my cheekbones out. I seem fuzzy that way, my outlines and boundaries violated. You have a brown beard, it’s such a rare thing. I’ve always seen them passport-colored or tar-licked. ~
We have lunch in a pub. You have gravy stuck in your mustache. It thickens your upper lip like a seal’s. You ask me who the guy was. I ask you who you’re talking about, putting down my glass of lukewarm cider. The guy you said hello to before we left. I barely remember, I don’t remember much, people don’t like that about me. I forget names, faces, secrets. It seems like I don’t care, but I do. I keep little folders in my room, little notebooks filled with data, I make patterns. That way, I’m either the most informed person in the room, or the least. I like these extremes. They make me seem more interesting than I truly am. The guy with the red sweater you insist. I remember, but his sweater was a darker shade of maroon, like cheap cinema velvet. Just an ex, I say, and I drink again. I haven’t eaten for a while. You once told me my teeth were very big. I don’t like showing them now. Which one, you try to act casual. The one that tried Buddhism for a hot minute, loved everyone since he thought that would get everybody to love him. Took cocaine on rainy days. Pretty good drawer. ~ You ask me more. I do not know why. You make me uncomfortable. My fork screeches against the plate, and I apologize. I tell you he said he was a good guy. You do not ask more questions. I have already discussed this. I do not trust good people. I trust people who want to be good. Good people do not process that they hurt you. That they ever could. ~ You nod and chew and swallow. You ordered fish. I can smell the lemon-grass on top. I pick it out and place it on the edge of your plate. You never eat it. You thank me, and pay the bill. On our way home, you put your hand on my leg. You have Welsh feet, you tell me. Especially for a Frenchman. I try and pretend like we’re both in on the joke. As if obscure classes had both taught us some kind of historical burn on the French through the point of view of the Welsh, and we’re both remembering it now. I try to recreate that circle. I realize my laugh was so soft you didn’t hear it. ~ We’re there. The roads have become emptier and emptier. You have a house on the pier. Your family does. You do. The owner always changes, depending of the position of the sun in the sky, depending if I promised something or if I don’t look pretty that day. The pier is encrusted with small boats lined up tacky. Most of them have viridian green covers. It rains a great deal here. The covers sag with puddles of rancid water. I see you unlock the door. You’re only wearing a plain black
Vincent Douarre | The Mumblers
tank top. I do not understand your system, how you operate. You point at my hooded raincoat, and at the boat cover. You’re probably trying to tell me it looks alike. I look at them again, blankly this time, not really looking as much as I am resting my eyes. We don’t even look alike, I think. This is viridian green. My coat is tea green. I feel vaguely superior in this moment. ~ The hood smells of fresh vinyl. It makes me slightly nauseous. You tell me to come in. I look at the boats again. Scabby white paint cracked away in skeletal winks. Welsh flags too heavy and matted to fly. Rusty wheels pricking the black road with copper eyes. The rain starts beating down, it curtains into thick eyelids for these eyes. They close. I come inside. ~ I put my suitcase on the bed, and you try to have sex. I let you. You go to fix yourself a snack afterwards, you walk around naked. You always bear more skin than I do. I find about ten dices in the nightstand, and mistake them for a necklace before they rattle in my hand. The absence of string startles me for some reason, I really thought that’s what it was. Their white has passed, it’s more like the color of light bulbs now. You come back to bed with some biscuits you found on a high China-red shelf. You offer me one and I refuse. I cannot bear them. They are circular and dry, sand-paper eyes you gobble down. On the package, there’s a flat little bear winking at me. There must be a leak, his left leg has turned gray and bloated. ~ Your bedroom, is it your bedroom? Am I slipping on my plain gray underwear in your father’s sheets? I refuse to ask this question. Your sense of property is so askew, you probably wouldn’t know how to answer. My back feels cold against the wooden headboard. The pine finish is tacky. You stroke it delicately with only three fingers. You stare at me, the light has changed here. The bed has become dissociated from the room. The floor, the wall, the ceiling, they glitch. There are flashes of old trophies in this room. Alligator-green watches piling near the window. Salt crystallizing on eager feet. Plastic shovels with handles shaped like rhinos. Jump-ropes knotted thick with cold ocean water. ~ The bed exists on its own, I have trouble connecting it to anything else, like a sticker on an oil painting. It is as old as the rest, but there is this alien presence, is it my thinning presence? Your family must be
strong, you seem strong. You don’t shiver. You don’t offer tissues when I sniffle. That’s it. The walls, the ceiling, the walls, the ceiling, they’re fragile. Not in a glass-like way, in a gooey way, porous. You can escape through them. The bed will stay here. It vibrates solid black. I want to draw the curtain. You want me to stay in bed. You want me to stop sitting so far away from you, even though our feet are still touching. I see what you mean. I uncross my arms. You look at me, you look at my face. I imagine it moon-like, heart-shaped and flat, drops of dark circles falsifying shadows. You tell me I have a Victorian face. I tell you you are not the first one to think that. You do not like that answer. ~ Your brother is a good father. I meet him at the St Davids Bishops Palace. The ruins here are disappointing. There is too much to imagine. Every wooden beam I try to conjure to fill in the picture comes out too light and too shiny as if bought at Ikea. Your brother has a little girl. There’s a game for her. There’s always a game for little girls. She has to find symbols in the ruins, replicate them in the correct places in a little leaflet, she’ll be rewarded with a drawing, maybe a synthetic red lollipop at the end. She’s not very focused. Her little blue raincoat swallows her and runs around like a shiny animal. She nearly bumps into me twice. You pick her up when she charges at you. You laugh and make funny faces, sticking your tongue out. Your tongue seems pinker like this. Up close, you can see its fleshy gray cracks, and you can guess blood pulses underneath, beating against the tip. Your brother picks her up on his shoulders. She is tired, her head bobs forward, but she still squeals with delight. Her little hands are pressed hard against his temples. Your brother asks me how I’m doing. I’m fine. Can’t complain. ~ We go out the next day. We drive to a waterfall, but the tour is closed. They sell thin tin keychains with your name engraved in it. Behind it, a blond with shiny teeth gives us direction to another one. We skip stones there. A family comes, wrapped in synthetic garments. They look so fragile, bundled and carefully putting one step in front of the other. We leave. You do not like to swear in front of children. I do not like them at all. This irritates you. Once we’re home, you open the car’s door and toss me the keys. You want to be alone. I stay in your home, your family’s home, my home. ~
Vincent Douarre | The Mumblers
I find your games, I’ve never played Mortal Kombat. The deaths fascinate me. The blood spills out of headless necks in equal streams, primly red. The characters flash their muscles and skin, showing every angle, highlighting technological improvements. I like playing with the bigger ones. Those who kill with their bare hands. You come back and challenge me. I win, then lose. You tell me you want to surf. I sit on a pebble beach watching you carefully get up on your board. The waves roll into themselves. I sigh. I feel fleshy, dense. I think about my lavender plant. I used to grow flowers back home. Baby blue cornflowers. Tea green virbanium. Coral pink roses. I don’t think my father takes care of them. ~ You look at me once you’re done, on the beach. A thin rain starts falling. We barely notice it anymore. You wiggle out of your wetsuit. Slipping out of a black frog’s skin. Your hair falls around your face, I want to touch it. Hair, out of the ocean, seems synthetic, plastic. You stick your tongue out, smiling. You seem younger that way. You look at my feet, I’ve slipped off my shoes. My feet are a waxy shade of white striped with crawling lines of pure purple. You touch them with your wet hands, but I feel nothing. My toes don’t even move. ~ Back in the car, you tell me I don’t have Welsh blood. You seem satisfied from this conclusion, this logical equation. You assert without saying that I am some hybrid. You eat a banana, we are both huddled in the car, still on the beach. The rain still falls in thin droplets like needles. I look at you, gathering sustenance. You offer me a bite. I shake my head. It wouldn’t seem right. You are the one who eats.
We drove up the coast, our August-pink skin sticking to vinyl. Climbing into the bed of our country squire station wagon, we kids sprawled, sprayed squirt bottles. The second afternoon, when the air barely whistled a whit, my parents chased down an aqua mirage––the kidney shaped pool glinting from an overpass. Pulling up at the Thunderbird Motel, an egg greeted us on the sidewalk, yolk stiff in its rubbery white pond. We climbed jagged steps to our room, palming iron rails, jiggled the key in the lock, tugged swimsuits up our clammy bodies. Back down into oven air, we cooled in the pool, hopped stucco steps back up to curl on lumpy cots. At midnight, our parents carried us to the car where, lulled by the rhythmic swoop of the telephone wires, we dozed. When motion stopped, eyes wide in flashing neon, my sister and I sat up, twirled our dampened curls. My parents were gone. Opening the car door, we slid down, left our brother to his dreams, heaved open the diner door into the light. Leaning over chipped white mugs, my parents looked up as we climbed up next to them in the crackled blue booth. We didn’t want to wake you, they said.
Just Like I Remember It Ekaterina Popova
A Universe of Parentheses Jeanine Stevens
Mademoiselle Boessiere Knitting, a painting by Gustave Caillebotte
Clack of needles, rhythmic over/under, slip stich. Slight tilt of shoulders, her head marking time. Alone this Sunday, expecting no one. She remembers the last gathering at her country chateau, distant relatives with all their favorites: brie and pâté with pistachios, roasted poulet, miniature carrots, greens from the vast garden, sauterne from the cellar, the best china, crystal and damask. After… a rosy claret to warm and a small envelope by each plate (20 Francs and a piece of jewelry). Departures were red-faced, abrupt. Never married, remembers her grander list: antique dueling pistols, certificate stating the emerald’s worth, the Van Gogh and Monet. The proceeds would set her up nicely with a view of Blvd. Haussmann. Now, evening in this city of light, she puts her knitting aside, takes a short walk to a small café for steaming Cassoulét. Still in the late summer of her life, a universe of parentheses beats in her breast. With a hint of extravagance, she contemplates Brussels (only four hours by train), to purchase fresh lace, may even study the craft. From tall windows, relaxing on the orange divan, she watches twilight flutter leaves of plane trees. She expects to live a long time.
Escape Plan, Five Years Old Susan Eisenberg
Lift the hook from eye on the lavatory hideout, tiptoe through the hallway, turn the front door lock clockwise, open the door and screen–– one two three across the porch–– bound down steps of concrete slab and run past the pruned rosebushes into the street’s six lanes of danger, leaving my sister behind as decoy. Collective action, one for all–– fine principles I’d learn later. We were small and never thought to save each other. I always hoped she’d be first found.
Homecoming Zachary Riddle
i. When I visited my hometown for the first time in six months, it had become a gigantic funeral home. Instead of streets, there were hallways and offices and makeshift morgues. All of the residents worked for the funeral home, preparing corpses that were sent from other cities across the state for viewings, funerals, and burials. I walked to the outskirts of Funeral Home City to visit my father’s grave, but there was no cemetery. Instead, I found a man who claimed to be the world’s last horseback rider. He was sitting on a saddled pile of horse bones next to a forest filled with dead oak trees. He told me the forest was for bodies that weren’t fit for funerals, left for the animals and the poor to eat. He said he has visions of this world, swallowed by oceans he’d never seen, two-mooned and dark. Probably, that’s how it’ll end. I asked if I would be arrested if I dug for my father’s body, and he shook his head. You’ve been here before. You always end up here. ii. The house where I grew up was sectioned off from Funeral Home City with red caution tape. I looked through the window of my bedroom, and I saw that the inside of the house had flooded. All of the light bulbs were burnt out. Bills and letters floated on the water’s surface like frogless lily pads. My mother was sitting on my bed. I knocked on the window, and she looked at me with eyes like planets in the night sky. I asked her if I could come in, and she started to take off her clothes. When I stepped away, she pressed her breasts against the window, waist deep in the water, eyes redveined. In the back yard I saw the gazebo had fallen apart, the shed rotted, my brother’s punching bag covered in blood. There were empty graves. My stepfather was sitting on the patio, covered in dirt. He wiped the sweat from his brow and asked me why I came home, and I told him I wanted to be lost again. He rolled his eyes and talked about the weather. I’m going to grow a forest once it rains, he said, just like your mother always wanted. He started to cry, and for the first time, I saw the scars on the underside of his gut, on the soles of his feet, the palms of his hands. All men become their fathers, he told me.
iii. I found my brother sitting in his truck next to the doughnut shop, which had also become a part-time coffin contracting office. He didn’t hear me at first, but when I sat in the passenger seat he looked at me with teary eyes and asked me why I’d been gone so long. Your wings, he said, what happened to your wings? I wrapped my arms around him, and we watched the drunks file out of the bar across the street. After awhile he started his truck. He told me he knew what it was I was looking for. While he drove, neither of us spoke. He pulled into the driveway of an old motor home in the borderlands of Funeral Home City. My brother handed me a jar of blue ash and feathers from beneath his seat. I stepped out of the truck, surrounded by chest-high weeds. He pointed ahead, arm dangling out the window, his fingers wrapped around a withered dandelion. He told me: I won’t see you again, you know, not until you’ve lost everything. I won’t know that I know you. When his car was swallowed by backroads, I entered the motor home and stood at the grease stained countertop in the kitchen, my grandmother’s corpse face down in a pile of unwashed dishes. I tried leaving, but everything outside was gone. iv. I cut open my grandmother’s body with my pocket knife and saw a graveyard inside. I stepped into her one leg at a time, each foot grounding on soft, grassless soil. I saw tombstones and tall, billowing trees all around me. I was greeted by a plague doctor who offered to take me where I thought I needed to go. I accepted, and he told me the story of each of the men and women buried around us: This is Funeral Home City’s Cemetery for the Lost, he said. I tucked my hands into my pockets, and the plague doctor whispered: Only three sets of eyes have graced this sanctuary. I asked him if we could talk about something else, and he laughed. Nyctohylophobia is the fear of forests at night. Did you know that? Deer, rabbits, and skunks worshiped the trunks of deep-breathing trees. We walked for hours, and I asked the plague doctor how much longer it would take. He admitted to me that he didn’t know where my father was buried, and that he had led many versions of me down this same path before. It’s the you that changes, he tells me, not the path. I grabbed a stone and smashed the plague doctor’s ribcage, and then brought the stone down on his head. His mask cracked. Pieces of bone erupted into the air. I clutched the plague doctor by his collar and asked him where my father was buried. He told me if I walked a little further, I would find what I think I need
v. At the edge of Funeral Home City’s Cemetery for the Lost, I found a cabin built completely of windows. In the middle, I saw the skull of a crow sitting on a cracked pedestal, a birthday card wedged into its beak. I crawled inside through the lowest row of windows and locked it behind me. I leaned against the pedestal and slid to the floor with the card in my hands. It was soaked through with water, the balloons on the front wrinkled, the purple ink inside smudged: I’ve never hurt anything that wasn’t worth hurting. Beneath the message, my own name was signed. I saw the outline of a deer standing outside the window-cabin on its hind legs, cloaked, watching me from the forest. Its eyes are blue. A fox crawled out of its mouth. I pushed the pedestal over and shattered the window-cabin. The deer-man chased me to a railroad track. A field of tall grass on the other side, sky blotted out by ash. In the far distance, a tidal wave curled toward me. I crossed the tracks and ran into the field. I arrived at a cliff, and at its bottom I saw my hometown before it became Funeral Home City. I saw my mother and father conceiving the version of me that I am today. I saw a masked man standing in the yard, watching them through the curtained window. The deer-man yelled to me, You are not-you as much as you are you-you. It pushed me off of the cliff, and I fell for an entire week.
Zachary Riddle | Homecoming
to find. When I killed the plague doctor, there was a silence inside the deep of my belly.
Salvation Kathryn Hill
We had tequila nights. We had the intimacy of prayer. We were three bad daughters of three good pastors. We had all turned thirty-three in June. We got drunk in Rachel’s backyard, sliced cantaloupes like bread, dipped their rough rinds in tequila. We sucked them. We laughed. We knew that souls were real. We drank and dripped, baptized by blue agave spirits, by the clear orange blood of swollen summer groundfruits. We were two or three gathered together on a cold concrete back porch. We prayed as the sky grew darker, as our hearts grew dead and were buried. Rachel, Helen, and I, we prayed as the fireflies lit against the black of the backyard shed, when they spelled out Adonai in stunted green debris. We broke cantaloupes like geodes, like yolks, like vows. We prayed for Helen, because her name was like heaven, but also like hell. She had kill-me laughter. She had Jesus Christ on her living room coasters, liked to watch his face bloat under water glass rumps. She had a bluegreen pentagram on the back of her neck. She said her children had her husband’s eyes and that’s when we started praying for her. We prayed, listening for God, but only heard ourselves. We imagined our prayers like gold-leaf groans, heady incense, leaking up to heaven.
Helen vomited into her hand. She said I can’t stand myself. She said I’m just so tired. Her other hand dripped with vomit. I said Helen do you want to know Jesus. I said Helen you can know him again. She didn’t say anything. She was smelling her hands. I said Helen. She said nothing. The fireflies clicked against the shed’s window glass. I said Helen. She said No. She said Okay. Her palms
“We prayed as the fireflies
lit against the black of the backyard shed, when they spelled out Adonai in stunted green debris. We broke cantaloupes like geodes, like yolks, like
smelled like sweet fruit and cheap sour vinegar. I said Sorry. I said That’s all I know to do. The moonlight found her pentagram and I thought I saw it shine. She said Do you know him like that? I said I don’t really know. Rachel said Let us pray. She said Emmanuel loves dead souls.
Kathryn Hill | Salvation
We prayed that night because the moon was like an ancient, albino fruit, massive, dripping stars and fireflies, holy, hung in an o, an opening, a mouth between the spreading black hair of the sky, like the circle on her neck with the star inside, and we prayed for her, hands on her shoulders, hands on her head, staring at her moon-star circle-star neck while she listened to us mumble and petition for her soul, cantaloupe juice dripping down to her ankles, cantaloupe flesh in our mouths like bread, tequila like clear, clear wine, laughing Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ and, finding pentagrams in moon craters, the daughters of three pastors, three ex-brides of Christ, baptized, purified, redeemed, still lost, still praying because we knew that souls were real, that they rose like the sun, that they rise, that they rise again.
Clarinet Man Robert Fillman
Twill-suited, he puts lip to reed, pushes air, muscles throaty wooden sobs. Fingers—soft and rough— blanket like doeskin, can even bruise leathery over-ripe skins of plums. He swings that blunted black stiletto—scores the bone, can’t hide the evidence. Pitch fountains, bubbles like a hot spring, bleeds steady from the bell, gullies a canyon deep in granite. Suspicious, she peeks through a keyhole, sees nothing, so presses an ear to the door, hears only one muffled voice bellowing out to God. Clarinet man, now lovers, they twist and trill on a worn velvet chaise, no lamplight, only the orange glow of
slowly rise, together tracing the fine-grained shaft, a single barrel gun.
Robert Fillman | Clarinet Man
sun decanting in late evening. They improvise, graze the parlor ceiling,
after Edward Hopper
Looking down at her late night coffee cup, she sits alone, back to the window, her legs close together but exposed beneath the slick, round table, a hard chair across from her. Her red lips hover above pale breasts, but that yellow hat like a soft moan obscures her, makes you wonder what she wants. She served herself tonight, dropped a few nickels in the slot, took her meal at the table near the never-closing door by the radiatorâ€™s warmth, the bowl of red plastic fruit in the window to her rear. How the night might close inward, but those two legs shining bright, she sits openly for me.
Cirque de Celia Laura Bernstein-Machlay
13-year-old Celia flexes her arms so the muscles pop—biceps, triceps, deltoids swelling like sand dunes beneath her skin. She nods toward her flexors. Only aerialists get these, she says. I don’t know if that’s true, but who am I to question? Go on, squeeze. I squeeze, feel through my fingertips the dense tissue rolling over bird-fragile bone. Daughter-Celia does trapeze. She does lyra, that metal hoop dangling like a great eye from rafters twenty-five feet up. She does hammock, though she doesn’t much care for it—too easy. That’s for beginners. And her favorite, the silks, don’t call them ribbons!, long swathes of fabric, always in pairs, dropping like vines ceiling to floor. Celia’s been performing aerials three years now, so you’d think I’d be used to it. Since the P.E. teacher at her strange little Waldorf school on Detroit’s east side convinced the parents—earnest vegans, urban farmers, and pioneers all—to install circus equipment in their gym. And she’s good, too, my Celia. Wholly fearless, her bones made of rubber. So when we left that school for someplace more comfortably cynical, Celia graduated to adult classes at Fly House downtown, then private lessons at Dragonfly, aka Pole
Addiction, where we’d sometimes catch Teacher-Shadow stalking like a jaguar in black leather and six-inch stilettos. When I have my own money, I’ll buy shoes like that! Nowadays, Celia trains at Agora Aerial—where we are right this second, third row from stage, twisting our necks like flamingos to watch her slip into position up front. And because it’s my turn to ruin the video, I aim my camera over the bobbling heads before me. Wait for it—“Jackie Dressed in Cobras” by the New Pornographers, chosen months ago by Celia for this routine, this very night. Guitar and piano expanding like light to fill the small space. Celia in white, in spangles and glitter paint. Celia iridescent, fey as a winter witch. She grabs the twin silks, one in each hand, and effortlessly pulls her whole self up, and up again. She rises like she’s made of gauze, right leg twisting the right cloth into foothold. Quick flick of the ankle and she’s free. Left leg shaping the silk now, another foothold. Up and up. Like a snow monkey she climbs higher, ‘til ceiling meets her a blink away. I wouldn’t let her do it, mutters an elderly woman beside me, her folding chair knocking into my folding
chair. If that child were mine, I’d tell her no. I nearly turn to her, my old lady neighbor with her silver hair and dried apple face, but what to say? That Celia’s safe as she can be, knotted and twisted just so? That control is a pretty lie in any case, that life is tenuous as fog and just as impossible to shape in your hands? Never mind those lists you scrawled the night before, all the detail you put in so you wouldn’t forget a thing. And come next morning, never mind your healthy breakfast, how you leave your dishes in the sink for later and map the straightest route to work—it’s still a crapshoot whether you’ll survive ‘til nightfall. I might lean toward her, the old woman, whisper in her ear how I fret
tightrope between the slimmest of buildings. Celia suspended by nothing more than slivers of cloth at each ankle. Which is what I’m thinking about when my hand shudders, the camera jerks. Until Husband-Steven notices, pokes my shoulder, and I settle in my seat. I know that later, in the car on the ride home, Celia will watch this video and pick at her flaws like she does her thumb nails, until they bleed— how her toes were curled like petals, not pointed as they should’ve been, how her grin quick-shifted to grimace right here, did you see it? Until she reaches this very moment when the picture jolts and goes grainy, and she’ll roll her eyes. Again! You do this every time.
“I nearly turn to her... but what to say? That Celia’s safe as she can be, knotted and twisted just so? That
control is a pretty lie in any case, that life is tenuous as fog and just as impossible to shape in your hands? every time I drop Celia at school or a friend’s house. How sometimes I hold my breath as the doors snap shut behind her, as she vanishes into what ifs? Even as I turn the car, drive away. But Celia’s a ghost-self now, hovering in space, her legs stretched into splits. As she’s posed there, perfect arch in the empty air, her body a
But that comes after, after Celia grips the silk-tails, winds them ‘round her ribs like a corset, weaves them between her legs. One wrap, two wraps, three at each thigh— does she count every twist of cloth? Does her skin remember? Her arms stretch high, making a V above her head, and she’s a starfish now, splayed against the sky. My
Laura Bernstein-Machlay | Cirque de Celia
breath thickens to clay in my throat. I know what’s coming, I’ve seen this before. Every time the ceiling nudges itself a little higher. The living silks grow taller. Every time they coil tighter at my chest—how they dig into my own flesh, and like Celia I’ll wear black and blue bruises for days. But no matter. No matter someone’s cell phone chirping like a finch, the old lady beside me fumbling for her purse, digging around in that clutter. Even as Husband-Steven takes my hand, the one not holding the camera. Celia suspended there, white spider on her thin lines... and she lets go, so I’m falling beside her, both of us flip flopping down the length of the silks—blink and you’ll miss it—Celia wrenching a bit as each wrap comes undone, catches her up before letting her go. We tumble together like raindrops over tree branches and glistening leaves, like sped-up teardrops clinging for single moments at lash and lip. And finally... just hang there midair, perfect crystal, perfect shine. Celia hovering a kiss above Earth and the audience Oohs—the old woman beside me grinning like a panda—until my teeth unclench. My pulse beating crazy like snare drum applause.
No Imminent Danger Beth Paulson
Sometimes things, people disappear without a trace, into a black hole we learned to say from scientists who say there are ten million in the Milky Way galaxy no imminent danger to us like global warming, guns in theaters. Still black holes lurk around dark corners numerous as grains of sand, a new one born every time a large star runs out of fuel, dies, cools to a dense core. Hate living on after the anger fades. No light can escape inside them, the pull of gravity so relentless the usual laws break down. Super-massive absences acting like presences. My father, dead these ten years, speaks to me still. Good news for Earth, our sun too small to be drawn into a black hole. We humans lucky enough specks in the great inexhaustible becoming. Some say black holes can give birth to whole new galaxies, loaded with so much matter and energy.
Beth Paulson | No Imminent Danger
Imagine all those exploding stars and holes calling to one another. Like us with apologies, vows, fresh starts, clamoring for another chance to get things right.
Art Lauren Jonik is a freelance writer and photographer in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been featured in Artemis, Calliope, Two Cities Review, 12th Street Journal and The Oleander Review. More of her imagery can be found on: shootlikeagirlphotography.com Ekaterina Popova was born in Vladimir, Russia. After moving to the United States, she fell in love with painting and received a BFA from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been exhibited nationally, including Uforge Gallery (Boston), The Painted Bride Center (Philadelphia), The Boxheart Gallery (Pittsburgh), Chris White Gallery (Wilmington), A.I.R. Gallery (Brooklyn) and more. She has been featured in multiple publications, including Professional Artist Magazine, The Artist Catalogue, Studio Visit Magazine and the cover of Ivory Tower Journal, Delhi, India. Most recently her work was on view at a corporate exhibition at Capital One in Wilmington, Delaware and on the pages of Minetta Review, a New York University art and poetry journal.
Fiction Vincent Douarre is a student of English literature at Lincoln College, Oxford. His work has been featured in The Belleville Park Pages, The Bastille, and The Birds We Piled Loosely, as well as on the podcast No Extra Words. Kathryn Hill is an MFA candidate in fiction at Arizona State University where she also teaches and reads prose for Haydenâ€™s Ferry Review. Her flash fiction has appeared at AGNI Online, Fiction Southeast, Gigantic Sequins, Monkeybicycle, Passages North, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the 2016 Innovative Short Fiction Prize from the Conium Review and was the recipient of a 2016 Virginia G. Piper Global Fellowship. Mary Ann McGuigan writes both adult and young-adult fiction. Her short fiction, which has been nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize, has appeared in The Sun, Image, Grist Journal, Perigee, and other literary
magazines. Her articles and essays have appeared in the Word Riot, New York Times, New York Sunday Newsday, Bloomberg magazine, and elsewhere. Mary Annâ€™s second novel, Where You Belong, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and its sequel, Morning in a Different Place, was a Junior Library Guild selection. Her latest, Crossing Into Brooklyn, was published by Merit Press. Emily Weberâ€™s work has been published in Bartleby Snopes, The Adroit Journal, Soundings East, and elsewhere. She lives in New Jersey.
Nonfiction Laura Bernstein-Machlay is an instructor of Literature and Creative Writing at The College for Creative Studies in Detroit. Her poems and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals including The Michigan Quarterly Review, New Madrid, Concho River Review, Oyez Review, Redivider, upstreet, and more. Her work is forthcoming in The American Scholar, Soundings East, and Whiskey Island.
Poetry Jeffrey Alfier won the 2014 Kithara Book Prize for his poetry collection, Idyll for a Vanishing River. He is also author of The Wolf Yearling, The Storm Petrel and The Red Stag at Carrbridge (forthcoming). His work has appeared recently in Southern Poetry Review, Hiram Poetry Review and Poetry Ireland Review. Kevin Brown is currently a graduate student at the University of San Francisco, pursing his MFA degree, and is enchanted by both young adult fiction and poetry. Joy Carter is an MFA Candidate at Bowling Green State University where she is an avid procrasti-baker and reluctant essay grader. Her work can also be found in pacificREVIEW, Crab Fat, and Paper Nautilus, among others.
Clayton Adam Clark lives in St. Louis, Missouri where he works for Health Literacy Missouri, a nonprofit that helps healthcare organizations simplify their communications so more people can get good care. He also volunteers as an editor and board member for River Styx magazine. He earned his MFA at Ohio State University and is currently seeking publication for his first full-length poetry collection. His poems are forthcoming in Southern Humanities Review, Bellingham Review, and elsewhere. Susan Eisenberg is a poet, visual artist, longtime activist, and licensed union electrician. Her fourth poetry book, Perpetual Care (2016), combines poems with fine art photographs to explore chronic illness. Her nonfiction book, We’ll Call You If We Need You: Experiences of Women Working Construction, was a New York Times Notable Book. A graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, she taught creative writing for a decade at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her website is: susaneisenberg.com Robert Fillman won the Poetry Writing Contest at the 2016 Pennsylvania Writers Conference, and he has been featured as a “Showcased Poet” in the Aurorean. Recently, his poems have appeared in Apeiron Review, Chiron Review, Philadelphia Stories, Spillway, Third Wednesday, and others. He is currently a PhD candidate and Teaching Fellow at Lehigh University, where he also edits the university’s literary magazine, Amaranth, and runs the Drown Writers Series. He lives in eastern Pennsylvania with his wife, Melissa, and his two children, Emma and Robbie. Beth Paulson’s poems have recently appeared in Common Ground and are forthcoming in Trajectory and Cloudbank. Her newest book, Canyon Notes, was published in 2012 by Mt. Sneffels Press. Beth taught English at California State University Los Angeles for over 20 years. She now teaches writing and creativity workshops and co-directs the Open Bard Poetry Series in Ridgway, Colorado. Zachary Riddle is pursuing his Master’s Degree in creative writing at Central Michigan University. His work been published in The Central Review, Temenos, Apex, The Blue Route, Yellow Chair Review, and is forthcoming in OxMag and Icarus Down Review. In April 2015, Zachary presented at the National Undergraduate Literature Conference in Ogden, Utah.
He has received several awards from CMU for his poetry, including an honorable mention for the Robert Bixby Award and the Eric Torgersen Prize, as well as the winning nomination for the Poetry Jett prize. P.J. Sauerteig is freshly graduated from Columbia University, where he studied Creative Writing and Psychology. He’s currently back to his home state of Indiana, writing and running the boutique record label, Massif Records. His poetry has appeared in 4x4, Profane Journal, Quarto, The Columbia Review, and others. John Stephens is the author of Return to the Water (C & R Press, June 2013), which was reviewed by The Georgia Review. Other published work includes poems in Stone River Sky, An Anthology of Georgia Poems (2015) and The Penwood Review. John lives in Milton, Georgia, and his gifts have helped to establish the Adam Stephens Night Out for Poetry at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Poetry @TECH series. Jeanine Stevens is the author of Sailing on Milkweed, published by Cherry Grove Collections. Her second poetry book, Inheritor, was just released by Future Cycle Press. Her most recent chapbook, Needle in the Sea, was published by Tiger’s Eye Press. Winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt, the Ekphrasis Prize and the Stockton Arts Commission Award. Poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Stoneboat, Arsenic Lobster, Rosebud, Pearl, Evansville Review, Addana and Connecticut River Review. Jeanine studied poetry at UC Davis and California State University. She has graduate degrees in Anthropology and Education. Joanna White, a music professor, returned to an early love of creative writing after performing in a concert with a poet. She studies poetry with Robert Fanning and Jeffrey Bean, and fiction with Darrin Doyle, and has works appearing or forthcoming in The Examined Life Journal, Ars Medica, Cape Rock, The MacGuffin, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Grey Sparrow Journal, Milo Review, Poetalk, Hummingbird, Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine, Flare, Temenos, KYSO Flash, Balloons Lit Journal, Chest Journal, Minerva Rising Literary Journal, and in both Snow Jewel, and Naugatuck River Review as a finalists in their poetry contests. She lives in Mount Pleasant, Michigan with her husband and has a daughter and son in college.
Mary Ann McGuigan
Clayton Adam Clark
Susan Eisenberg Robert Fillman Beth Paulson
Nonfiction Laura Bernstein-Machlay
Zachary Riddle P.J. Sauerteig