“PEREGRINATION” ISSUE 3
HERMENEUTIC CHAOS LITERARY JOURNAL
Hermeneutic Chaos is a non-profit literary journal founded in 2014 publishing the best contemporary poetry and prose. All rights reserved. The authors retain the ownership of their respective works published in this edition. Cover art: © André Kertész No part of this publication may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of its author(s)
POESY Three Poems
I Am Sorry I Love You
Rachel J. Fenton
Something is different
Sailor of the metolious
Jennifer MacBain- Stephens
Dialogue w/ an insomniac
PROSE Two Fictions
Heather Bell Adams
A Good night for Maali
Editorial Note We welcome you to the July 2014 edition of Hermeneutic Chaos, featuring some of the outstanding poetry and prose by writers both upcoming and established. We are confident that you will enjoy this new collection of literary artifacts, as much as their respective authors enjoyed composing them. The last few months have been tragic for the literary community. We lost Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mary Angelou, Walter Dean Myers, Frank Robinson, and many other writers who taught the world how to appreciate the value of art, how to make the stone faced words discover their malleability while interacting with human emotions, and how to employ it to create an impact on the dominant culture, and perhaps even teach it a thing or two. And most importantly, to fight for art, no matter what. This edition is a tribute to all of them. So sit down on your most comfortable cushion, grab a glass of wine, and begin reading. It will be a stellar journey, we promise you.
Warmest Regards, Shinjini Bhattacharjee Editor
Sonnet of Where One Always Walks Alone “…are all a wreath of love, bed of one wounded, / where, sleepless, I dream of your presence.” Lorca
No one visits this house on the hill. The poplars Stretch as sentries up and down lanes. Bored morning yawns At the steps of a lone woman at the splayed door Left open the night before (since no one appears).
This has gone on for centuries, for years. This house Beside the sea holds just one bed, one olive stone Of being. It is the house of solitude, where Multitudes have passed, paused, as audience of one.
If the current inhabitant goes to town, dons Slitted smile for new lover to take her away, This dwelling will disappear, with all its markings,
And quietly make ready to seal its next wound. The house of solitude views departures poorly, Si, preserves earth-sky-hour of apartness to thrive.
Sonnet of Inestimable Wealth “silver coins / sob away in pockets.” Lorca
After you‘d gone, I wanted none I‘d done for love As reward. Long ruby hair, sold for wigs. Hands mute. Even the corsage pinned to your portrait—laid waste. It took the stars calling, look, see, to drag me up
Into the nighttime sky so full of dark and them. Shining was a thing I would learn only later, Was already mine they said, with or without him. They poured me down into a fountain at the dawn,
Told me bathe, bathe—the battle for your soul‘s not done. Once you have shivered nude in miasmas of tears, Once you have dried yourself in Seville‘s hot morning,
The suitors will come in a line for a dance, beg. Everyone wants the girl who has given all for love, received none. She shines brighter than moons in silver coins. Pure gold.
HEATHER FOWLER _______________________________
Sonnet of Rivers and Leaves â€œNever let me lose what I have gained/ and adorn the branches of your river / with leaves of my estranged Autumn.â€?
The leaves of my Autumn have filled the banks beyond The calls of what we measure as seasons, secure Beyond a shadow of a doubt in detritus. They do not worry that their faces will crack and break
Nor that the walking lizard prefers the sweet grape, Nor that the orange trees refuse to claim their orphans. The leaves of my Autumn care not about disgrace, Clear that they come only to green, fall until gone.
The branches of your river hold them without qualms Until there is a separation of living and non When your shore or the rush of your current
Becomes the place in which they go to court decay, Like elderly men, in dotage, arrive at homes To stay where loved ones live, to love the more, to die.
RACHEL J. FENTON
I Am Sorry I Love You
Untitled You show up late as usual need more darkness though you wait
the way each star smells from dirt and her eyelids
–the mouth you return to is already weeds worn down by the silence
that‘s lost its balance can‘t escape and won‘t let go
–some nights further than others smaller and smaller. 8
Untitled You piece one night into another as if these constellations would leave nothing to chance
and the sky you play it safe with stay black waiting for air by not counting, though this time
for flames that fit exactly lock on the way letters from home are saved in a metal box
to complete the picture â€“all night under the kitchen table you shuffle cards and some mindless jigsaw game unfolds
on the cold floor, trying to remember those stars all together their first morning and their last 9
though the Earth is covered with this breeze still taking away the only thing that matters.
Noggin Root words line the caveat. A hearing claws the surface,
pores over future obvious reclassified conveyor belt elan, until the snow drops gather,
one cell turned into a whole collective sunlit craft, precursing
foreloft, whose criteria seep through music dispatching hinges, one upon the next. 11
Stop Saying Journey Stasis is more like it. Maybe not wholesale maybe quieter surrender, estranged If on the papal mark.
A year ago inflections faded referents, and fists broke homes with steel staccato prominence, as though
a fraction tinged with gravel demanded lane change in the wake of trades exchanging
one life for one vat of nomenclature deemed not guilty in this surreptitious line of code. 12
Detour Not that you winter near philanthropy, the earth watch licensure abbreviating worsted fabric.
Light squeals through scissors Crimped, chiseled, stipulating Loose work, higher blame, in hot pursuit of
patient zero clasping intonation, as if rafters cave when facts invert the tables grading force field.
Thistles brave a whispered call for threaded vases taller than the summer call tone dialed at once. 13
SHEILA MURPHY ____________________________
Reprimand Petrified retreat amounts to a summation claustrophobic as a slump line bridled fast and fatuous,
to wit, the kindling raises splintered light to eye level tracked by number.
Torsion blanches uppity blond traction, its portion still varietal as grasp trained
fuel and froth condoned to be full sway in indulgence indivisible conforming versions of the notary. 14
Ex Post Mind equals fall back pose I need. Stern weather locates correspondence
coursing through a moment's nuance broken
and awake the full-toned orchestration jars the will along the coast,
while light broth casts hypothesized fresh lines that very nearly touch. 15
Incubus “The box is only temporary” – Sylvia Plath
Entwined in a narcoleptic sleep and flower stems, I dream an incubus in shape of queen bee surmounting me. ―You have neglected your bee-box. You‘ve not tended your bees. You‘ve casted honey to swine,‖ she buzzes in my ear. Remorse lies deep within me. All I wanted was to steal the amber secret from them. To feed my nib with their gold. To sweeten the edgy words of my poetry. To spy the dwellers of wax and shape my own syllables with their craft. They have left. I cannot own them, as they cannot own me. Their stings are my sole cohorts. I let their venom tinge my dream. The honeycomb swarms with new figment now.
The Nest The nest that beats amid the ribs holds a blue egg about to crack; when poetry will be be born out of it, Iâ€˜ll put a leash around its polished beak and let its claws inscribe my heart .
I Am Disintegration for Frida Kahlo
Even the walls here have learnt my motto: ―Yo soy disintegración.‖ This is what I tell myself as I lean over my own body‘s
debris and talk the language of life-in-death to the skeleton covered in strings of fireworks-flaming rosary beads-atop the canopy.
I have learnt to disdain piety and sanctimony. Golgotha means waking up to the cross 18
of my umpteenth plaster corset, a new
to fill with my dreams. I have painted the most beautiful son of woman on the latest one, a child I will never bear to full bloom.
Thatâ€˜s how you crucify me every morning with what I crave most your nails, dear Art, mi hermana.*
The Process is Null the poem came as -the gray speckled iridium of snow & bitumen the auroral scorpion of every persian midnight the thousand and one rosaries of earthbound staccato the asymptote linger of the last lightbulb a tablespoon of shrapnel dust in the cold clutch of an infant the hip gene paradox snapping its fingers by the jukebox the spindling, the spit, the shiv of a tampered pendulum the gutted garden of babylon the skulls of small animals under the frozen december of a lily pond â€” unsparing in its new siberian bulk the milkweed clouds stripping off their gauzy corsets to expose the ichor soma of the sun the polished seismograph of your schizophrenia the marigold philtre teasing the anise swallowtails the handicraft of wave-crashed conch shells a nomenclature of haunted postcodes a locution of lettered bees setting up libraries in a goethe oak a carnival of shivers inside a breath darker than hashish 20
a desire that writhed like daggered fish a home pulling its bricks one at a time from the denouement that is my body now the silences teeming between us as though ghosts rendered in daguerreotype a father who rents every mirror i have found
SCHEREZADE SIOBHAN _________________________________
Alkaline embark the trespass of a zodiac speak eye, in the molding of a garnet that she should be invented into an eagleâ€˜s iconography a nail claw czarina a penscript of cuesta banishing the breastwork of your odious locus you with a face as plain as mourning of vaudeville acolytes of Daedalus ecclesiast, let my anteroom come slivered from its vulgar parenthesis its oak fence impostors its hellward corona let the wretched thing be let the wretched thing see what wombs the witch shall house what plumes the pitch shall gauss 22
little by little, let the drowning bring me back to the beginning i was once orphaned of
Cavestorm Avoiding Platonic metaphor, bats and human temperament, there is a blizzard of stalactites carving obscenities of the sub-conscious into walls just as thick as to go unpenetrated by the life of a chisel.
Not a question of Language or a quest in the least Romantic sense, but a Kafka parody built upon the dogged aesthetics of Dostoyevsky.
Each hour, morning or night No matter, The cave moans, telescoping into darkness, constricting to spaces not fit for a casket,
Always four crumbling walls squat like a sculptorâ€˜s forgotten supply, unmoved and unmoving along the sepulcher of space-time.
JON SIMMONS ________________________________
Something is Different A caveman walks into a food court, and toddles toward China Express. Somewhere the fabric of time has ripped. A brontosaurus sunbathes on a country road in Croatia. The tar warms its belly. A car will soon speed around the bend and fold itself around the steely skin of the dinosaur, the driver dead on impact.
A woman with a yellow paper hat, stands in front of China Express holding a tray, handing out sample sticks of teriyaki glazed meat in two-ounce wax paper cups.
â€•GEICO caveman,â€– says the woman, and laughs. She offers the tray to the caveman. The caveman takes all of the samples from the tray. He eats them in fistfuls, spitting out 26
the toothpicks and wax paper cups, burps, grunts, and walks away.
That night the China Express employee dies in bed from loneliness. Her last thought is of the caveman, a feeling of jealousy of someone she knew nothing about rushing through her body.
In a distant nebula, on a planet much like Earth, the China Express employee and the speeding driver find themselves on opposite ends of a vast jungle. Both hear screaming and a soft, pulsing thump. They realize instantly something is different, by the sound of their heartbeat.
RHIANNON THORNE _____________________________________
Sailor of the Metolious After, Momma recounted it: They let you sift through the air, ashes and dust, four siblings of a hard man confronting a hard man's love of life. And the fish danced.
The years have passed and all I've ever had are wildflowers to leave you drifting on the river you came back to year after year to cast a line, tall legs swimming in high-waist waders, your long arms reaching back and forth, swaying out the fly.
The man who carved me apple slices and wore long, starched sleeves in the shade while us children flipped through a summer pool. The smiling man 28
who'd stand outside at night on the cool slate patio with a surgeon's patience marking out a queen's throne in the sky. Now you,
like so many of your lost flies: caught in the current; the sailor churned slowly north and west back to sea.
JENNIFER MACBAIN-STEPHENS ______________________________________________
Backyard Poem #10 Slime creek dribbled behind the ranch in Ohio. Lichen smothered the earth. It was never a child‘s place to play. The tree canopy kept the swamp dark and buggy. I swear I saw predator birds. It was the hot spot for night crawlers. When not reorganizing his mix tapes, my brother collected long purple worms in a dirt filled jar. Like the scientific name, vitalis, implied, these ribbons of muscle and goo wiggled like viruses in a palm, never ceased. My brother was going to sell them to a hardware store owner. At the end of the summer, the owner offered to pay a fraction of what was offered. My brother dumped the worms near the creek, stepped on some, watched the wiggly bodies thrash and attempt to rebury themselves into mud and darkness. A partial view of my friend Jessie‘s back yard with an oxygen tank upright in the dust. Jessie‘s mom takes a hit from the tank, calls in the pug. A bat flies out of our cat‘s mouth.
Backyard Poem #11 After camp, Grandma would go inside the house for a glass of wine and I was left alone with Jessie. The pine tree was our lookout point. Jessie and I could see into the McNeilâ€˜s back yard pool. Sweaty and nine years old with popsicle smeared faces, we clung to the branches of the pine, swatting at mosquitoes in that humid Michigan July. Nothing was more fun than spying. If Black Sabbath was playing, we knew there was something to watch. The lilac bushes bloomed in front of us, creating cover. We watched the two sisters lay on colorful beach towels and rub suntan lotion on their arms and each otherâ€˜s backs, comb their long straight hair into slick sections. Sometimes they talked or painted their nails hot pink. Sometimes they did summer school homework. When boys came to the pool they acted different, alert, sitting on the poolside edge, speaking in higher voices. The boys dove in, not caring who got wet.
JENNIFER MACBAIN-STEPHENS ___________________________________________
Backyard Poem #12 On Tuesdays and Thursdays it was off to the dinosaur lady‘s house. She was an albino dinosaur who always wore velour, liked sugar puffs. I rough housed with her little dinosaur offspring. The offspring was named Eric. I played the part of the caveman. Eric would slam into me and punch me in the sides and gut. The elementary school was just a ten minute walk through a dirt path in the woods behind their lair. I’ll chase you through the woods, if you get to school first, I won’t throw you over my shoulder, skin you like a potato. One day I threw my elbow up into his teeth. Both of us spilled our prehistoric blood. At ten, I masked my fire breath walking into home room, my razor-like claws raked the wood desk.
VIK SHIRLEY _____________________________________
Installation Room I There are abstract objects hanging from the ceiling. Visitors are encouraged to try and create a meaning for the objects. To give an example, one idea might be: 'This strange collection may represent unimaginable and unforeseen incidents hovering in wait.'
Room II A recorded voice tells visitors that there are untold tales in the textures of a painting displayed. The voice says: 'The secret stories can be excavated and exposed if the layers are removed.' It then adds: 'But, as there is often great beauty in ambiguity, it is fine if visitors would prefer to opt out of this activity.'
Room III There is a large screen, on to which a film montage 33
of people's childhoods is projected. If visitors wish, they can get in touch before they visit, so that footage of their own childhood can be integrated into the film to enhance their own personal experience. Some visitors may not find this a particularly pleasant prospect though, so please note that it is only optional.
Room IV There is a wall, which hundreds of butterflies have been stuck to and varnished over. There is a designated area where visitors can catch their own butterfly with a net. Inside this large, glass container, classical music is played. Many visitors enjoy this activity and can be seen wreathed in smiles, giggling rapturously, whilst running around with the net. However, some consider this to be unbearably cruel and are not quite as enthusiastic.
Room V In central position is a circular tower that, in its vast circumference, dominates the room. As the tower reaches right up to the ceiling, visitors are encouraged to use the ladders provided. Attached to the tower are thousands of paper scraps bearing words, phrases, proverbs and quotes. 34
Some are French, like Jean Anouilh's 'Rien n'est vrai que ce qu'on ne dit.' (It means 'Nothing is true except what isn't said.') This is often visitors' favourite part of the installation and they are known, on occasion, to spend hours here, their eyes like prison search lights scouring the tower up and down for more quotes they can relate to in some way - quotes they will enjoy, quotes that will make them feel happy.
JACK PEACHUM ______________________________________
Dialogue w/ an Insomniac I prefer the night– I do! I‘m one of those creatures whose energies are kindled by moonlight. But when I must sleep in the darkness– when I must!– the night in my room brings me terrors– such fears! The slightest sound–a stray gust against the window– a creaking board– a bit of laughter outside– is apt to wake me– and then come all those pitiless demons of earth and air– swirling round my head, pulling my covers off– sprites and gremlins who poke and prod in playful awful glee– sticking tiny pitchforks in my rear!
– You have too much imagination!–
Here gather horrid souls who‘ve died and suffer pains of hell– visiting their vexations on the living! See– they come marching in– flesh rotting, ragged clothes hanging off their skeletal frames– smelling of pitch and cinders and the grave!
– But why do you let them bother you? You know they‘re not real– only creatures of your imagination conjured up in an addled brain– the product of– as Mr. Dickens‘ Scrooge will tell you– a bit of undigested cheese!–
But if that were all– if only imaginary figures came to me in the darkness– but there‘s more! The Monsters of Memory! I also see the faces of those close to me who‘ve died– those whom I‘ve loved and lost! Alas, I‘ll never see them again– save in dreams– oh, the things I would‘ve said to them if I‘d known! I‘ve not been a good person! And here are those I‘ve disappointed, those I‘ve wronged– I‘m peopled by a hundred failures in my lifetime– I visit and revisit old defeats! Mistakes I‘ve made– lovers lost, friendships broken– maltreatments I‘ve suffered and given! I am insulted at every turn in the gloom– I meet again those who‘ve belittled me and those to whom I‘ve been unfair!
– But these too are imaginary– they‘re not real!–
Oh, but they are– they‘re real– to me! As real as the day they happened! And then there is the greatest fear of all– the one that hangs about my neck– my heaviest albatross!
– What is that?–
The fear that I may never sleep again!
MANDY PANNETT __________________________________________
Remember when we tried We tried to protect the growing grain by killing off the sparrow, once, in a landscape swarming with men and boys all running, shooting, shouting, beating the air with fists. So hard a chase and the birds so tired they fell in scores from emptying skies while locusts, free of claws and beaks, hovered above the succulent crops then plummeted down, more after more, like a biblical plague foretelling death, like a blinding, shocking rain.
MANDY PANNETT _____________________________________
Spice of Time We‘ve counted hours in candles and water, the ringing of bells, sundials, sand – and once there was this –
a joy of a clock, each hour a spice, not a digit in sight but taste on the tip of your tongue.
Imagine waking and trying to guess if your finger is dipping in anise or caraway, nutmeg
or mace (or maybe it‘s brassica alba mustard hot on your gums).
But if your paprika lips are henna and the street outside is frosty and dark
then you may doze for two more hours until the saffron sky is bright and it‘s half past ginger o‘clock. 39
SALLY STEVENS _________________________________
onight my brother is taking me to his
favorite restaurant, a rather tacky, down-at-the-heels steak house left over from the fifties that he considers a ―literary‖ hangout, where we will proceed to argue about the menu, disagree on the quality of the ―well‖ vodka, and eventually see which one of us can avoid picking up the check. He will do some verbal swaggering, and I will let him. He will tell me again that the loud drunks at the bar are all famous writers and I will tell him again that he is full of shit. We go there fairly regularly, when I can no longer think of a reason to be busy on the night he suggests we go. It is always thus, with my brother and I. We are not well suited for kinship. He is gruffly artistic, a shabbily dressed intellectual who prides himself on being ―out of the main stream‖, which, if you are a writer, is another way of saying ―unpublished author‖. I on the other hand, could care less about art or intellect. I am a weaver of dreams, and my dreams never even have to come true. Few of them have. They just have to engage the dreamer for that period of time until the next dream comes along. One of my dreams is never to have to come with my brother to this fucking restaurant again. Even though tonight I am convinced that, like most nights, I shall out maneuver him, and will come out the winner when the check comes. I can humor him, this one more time. I have enjoyed a just a few tokes before hopping on the Harley, and I can now fake my way through all things intellectual.
I try a lot harder than my brother does at this kinship thing. He consistently refuses to come with me to the strip club where my girlfriend works. Nor will he ever join me in smoking a doobie. He will not enter my world. So be it. I must tell you by the way that though I have not been able to get behind his writing all these years, he is currently working on something that has the grain of genius within it. He is writing a book about a guy who is without ambition, a drifter, a potsmoking, Harley-riding sleazebag who never picks up the check, no matter who heâ€˜s with and whose entire romantic relationship boils down to a once a week visit to the stripper bar, where he fantasizes about one of the broads. I think it has a good shot.
SALLY STEVENS _________________________________________
have forgotten my words, ―she said, as William opened the passenger
door. ―It‘s not a problem dear. You may use some of mine. ―Who are you?‖ she said, and then regretted it, for he looked offended. ‗Oh yes, I do remember you now. But your eyes used to be brown. We spent some time together in Egypt, I think.‖ He said ―Here, try some of these,‖ and handed her a tray full of memories. She sorted through them and came up with the Nile River, four grandchildren, a scholarship to Otis Art Institute, and a first marriage that went terribly awry. He threw in a couple of extra-marital affairs, and wondered if that might have upset the apple cart. But what do you know about apple carts when you‘re young and horny? Then he remembered having stepped on a couple of apples on his way through the seventies. She put a few of the words in her pocket, noticed her jacket was too small, and that it had someone else‘s name on the label. He said never mind, and they turned left, down the street where their house was. It looked familiar, but she didn‘t have the right words. He said, ―Wait right here.‖ But she didn‘t. She wandered off, and came back years earlier, having forgotten everything in between. He didn‘t mind. It shortened the day. Sometimes it‘s good to go back and start at the beginning. ―I have forgotten my words,‖ she said, as William opened the passenger door.
SARA CLETO _______________________________________
hen the sun slants low, smirking in the Los Angeles sky, I drink champagne
by the pool of the Mondrian Hotel. The lounge chairs swoon beneath sleek, clinging silks, bright fields of poppy and turquoise on which I recline with the proprietary grace of a sigil.
I am the monochrome photograph of a forties starlet given dimension, given flesh. Sable hair curves against my cheek with the sweet proportion of a bell, and my skin is oleander white, pallor heightened by the dark splash of suit. A fluke of genetics preserves my fair skin while precluding a tan or burn. Oiled, my legs gleam, ice over milk in the afternoon light. I dip them into the pool to cool them—they rest still and verdant in the water like calla lily stems in a vase. A wide brimmed hat—black— crowns my hair, and white-framed glasses shadow dissonant green eyes. Once or twice, I wore lipstick—play acting Little Snow White, but red kisses and bites marred the clarity of the glass flute in my hand and made something low in my stomach uncoil. I licked my own lips, sucked away the redness for myself.
Boys and girls drift round the pool, uneasy as loose petals. They press against me, a calyx that might embrace them anew. Sometimes, I accept the drinks they offer me. 46
As they speak, I watch their eyes with an intensity that makes them believe I want/ hear/ love them—but I am looking only for the brightness, the luminous width that offers my own reflection back to me, twice, trapped inside an expanse of iris and pupil. If I see myself clearly on those tiny mirrors, I take them to my room and allow them to give me back to myself.
My sheets, they tell me, smell of daffodils—they call them by an older name—but, to me, the scent remains elusive.
More often, I remain beside the water, traversing a diurnal pilgrimage to the edge. My reflection is bigger, darker in the pool, and I can adjust the angle of her knee, the line of her throat to perfection. She smiles at me, and I see past her teeth to the redness inside her mouth. When I take off my sunglasses to absorb the color, I perceive that her eyes are black as onyx/ requited love/ time. I tilt back my head and close my eyes, the sting of jonquil heavy in my tongue.
Soon, I will join her, the monochrome witch in the water. Our hair will uncoil and tangle like snakes, and our legs will mingle like stalks in a jar.
JEN KNOX ___________________________________________
Elaine “You have to pick the places you don't walk away from.” –Joan Didion
y train departs at ten, and I keep my ticket close by. Grandma
disapproves, says my father is the reason the sky is gray, always gray like everything else in Benton County, including our dog. I pat the floor beside me. Ash ambles over, nudges my hand with his wet snout, and I scratch his ears. ―Your father could suck the color from everything he touched, aging it on the spot. He‘s the reason I‘m old,‖ she says with a satisfied chuckle. ―Might want to return that ticket.‖ ―Maybe I should have bought a one-way,‖ I say. She stands and, without grabbing her cane, limps over and lifts my chin with two thick fingers. I watch as green and gray clouds collect around her pupils. Her eyes move to my ticket, so I grab it and tuck it in the back pocket of my jeans. Mom emerges from the kitchen, carrying two spoons heaped with brownie mix. She hands me one, winks, looks at Grandma and says, ―Elaine has to do this.‖ Grandma‘s coarse hair is falling over her large, plastic-framed glasses. I stare at her as I eat the brownie mix, swallowing the earthy dark chocolate in clumps, fighting the urge to gag. She clears her throat. ―Have we looked into etiquette school?‖ 48
―Have we looked into the nursing home?‖ We stare at each other for a long time, battling without word or action. Finally, I give in, smile. Grandma sets up a chess board. I count the minutes, the moves.
The train is empty, as it would be in a movie. This is my transitional scene. My thoughts whirl; my nerves eat time, and before I know it I am knocking on an apartment door. I try to ignore the smell of damp carpet and patchouli incense. My father wears dark jeans and a darker shirt. A woman dressed in sequins, whose upper thighs show as she moves, is in the kitchen. I say hello. ―E—‖ he says. ―Elaine,‖ I say, ―but you can call me E.‖ ―Little Elaine took the train,‖ the girlfriend sings. She stumbles forward to shake my hand. My father is both old and young. I can see the snake tattooed on his arm; it seemed brighter in pictures, more impressive. He says they were about to head to the bar. ―Want to tag along?‖ I sip sparkling water as my father hands men and women small bags of pills under the bar. He tells me that he came to my track meets but ducked out before I saw him. Grandma taught me how to detect lies—the glance up and to the side, the restless hand movements.
I stare at the moon from the hazy bus window. Grandma smiles when I arrive home, and in the smile is not smugness but a rare semblance of warmth. Ash sits with me on the floor, and I ask Grandma what‘s next. She suggests Canasta, and so we play.
JEN KNOX _______________________________
am forty-three today, up early and standing near an oak tree. I lift my gut and
let it fall, jiggle like hair gel. The air is already growing thick form the South Texas heat that will blister fair skin and fade dark car upholsteries by noon. I am an innovator, in the middle of the park. Deer stand around like twitching statues, as though they are waiting for something to happen. Feeling the slight breeze on my skin every now and again, allowing the open air to embrace me, I become pure energy. I spread my arms out wide. A woman screams, and there is a familiar jolt. The first reaction is electricity that shoots from belly to throat and back down, settling with a tingle, a buzz. It is for mere sensations that I disregard social norms. I have tried to explain this to my case worker, but he doesnâ€˜t understand. He reminds me that I have a good job, a supportive spouse. I am not here to upset joggers. My enemy is the societal constraint that mandates clothing, clothing often manufactured in factories where child laborers are forced to work under grueling conditions. Clothing that will itch or rub against the skin, cause reactions, shrink in the dryer, wear out too fast, deaden a vibrant skin tone, accentuate the wrong parts. Itâ€˜s about freedom, I tried to tell them: my wife, a therapist, the judge.
Today, I‘m going full-on, full-force, and I set out to walk across the street toward my condo. I will remain free for two full blocks. I bend over and squat—I‘m a relatively big man, so I grunt a little as I do—and I roll up my t-shirt and shorts, stuff them in my sneakers. I ignore the woman who screamed, who is now cursing at me from behind and calling the police, she says, waving her cellphone. She says this, but they will not come. The police are busy, and the only time they bother with a man like me is if I am in a public place or near children, which I would never do. The blacktop of the road is hot and gritty. When I arrive at the pale door to my home, I shake out my shorts and step in, one foot, then the other. My shorts are up and almost buttoned when I hear the familiar whoops of warning sirens. I see the soft lines of my wife‘s face in the window. Those warm, rich brown eyes. This was my last chance; she will leave me, her eyes say. I think about opening the door anyway, sitting down to breakfast and laughing over the ridiculous things people do that make the news. As the police approach, I remember that it is my birthday. I remind myself that I am here to fight. I lift my arms, and my shorts fall. I am unshielded, unsure, and wondering how long it will be till I can return to nature.
RACHEL BUBLITZ _______________________________________________
Rewind: A one-minute play Characters:
Man, m, any race
Woman, f, any race
A bare stage.
MAN and WOMAN stand at opposite ends of the stage.
I want a divorce... It‘s not going to get better.
MAN I know.
MAN and WOMAN move toward one another.
MAN (CONTINUED) HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO- IF YOU DON‘T RING OUT THE SPONGE IT STARTS TO SMELL!
WOMAN I RANG THE DAMN THING OUT!
MAN and WOMAN move toward one another.
WOMAN (CONTINUED) I think we need therapy.
MAN It‘s just a rut, we‘ll be fine.
MAN and WOMAN move toward one another.
MAN (CONTINUED) Maybe it wasn‘t fair of me to bring you here.
WOMAN No, I want to be here. I couldn‘t live with myself if I let you turn down your dream job.
MAN and WOMAN move toward one another.
WOMAN (CONTINUED) Surprise!
MAN You did all this for me?
MAN and WOMAN move toward one another.
MAN (CONTINUED) That dress is so sexy on you.
WOMAN Wait until you see what I have on under it.
MAN and WOMAN embrace.
WOMAN (CONTINUED) Happy anniversary.
MAN I love you.
MAN (CONTINUED) Will you marry me?
WOMAN Yes! Yes! Of course yes!
RACHEL BUBLITZ _____________________________________________
Peeper: A one-minute play Characters:
Tom, m, any race
A window in Tomâ€˜s apartment.
It is very quiet. TOM is on stage, HE has a pair of binoculars and looks out with them on one specific spot.
TOM I like to imagine what her name is. I have narrowed it down to 84 possibilities, and I am certain that it is one of them. Some nights I call them out to her. Amy?... I do not yell. I would never yell at her. Sarah?... When you watch someone as long as I have watched her you learn things about them. For example, I know that her name cannot be Jackie. I know this. 57
Deborah?... No, not Deborah. That makes for 83. 83 possibilities. Hmmm...
TOM moves closer to the spot he is watching. TOM’s breathing becomes audible and quick. TOM speaks quickly.
TOM (CONTINUED) There goes her blouse. Tonight the bra she wears is black. She did not shave under her arms this morning.
Pause. TOM’s speech and breath return to normal.
TOM (CONTINUED) Now her light is off.
TOM lowers his binoculars.
TOM (CONTINUED) Sweet dreams. April?... End. 58
HEATHER BELL ADAMS __________________________________________
hen the baby‘s born, it‘s all wrong. I‘m by myself except for the nurses who
keep coming in, turning dials and picking up paper that‘s spooled to the floor. The baby is a girl, not a boy like I thought, and she has blue eyes, not green like Mark‘s were. She comes screaming into a world that isn‘t real, that I left a long time ago. She keeps crying and opening her eyes that are blue and not green and it‘s not right. I hurt all over and sometimes there‘s a burning feeling that starts in my back and spreads until I‘m on fire all over. But when I call for help, the nurse tells me I‘m imagining it. She comes back half an hour later with a wet washcloth and puts it on my forehead. ―You need to get some rest while the baby‘s sleeping.‖ I pull the washcloth down over my eyes. When I move it away, everything will be different. I won‘t be alone anymore. Mark will be here. He‘ll be alive again. This time when I tell him about the baby, he‘ll be happy. This time he won‘t jump.
When I wake up, the baby‘s crying again and nobody else is there. I feed her until she falls back asleep. The nurse comes in later. I don‘t know what time it is, only that there‘s sun coming through the window and the streetlight has blinked off. Troy‘s on third shift and he said he‘d come see me when he got off. But I told him he needs his sleep and he didn‘t argue. ―How are we doing in here?‖ the nurse asks, peeking in the plastic tray beside my bed. The baby‘s asleep. Sometimes her mouth remembers, making a sucking shape. 59
―When did she eat last?‖ The nurse picks up a clipboard, frowning. ―Have you been keeping the log?‖ I shake my head. ―She isn‘t eating or you‘re not writing it down?‖ ―She‘s eating fine.‖ I try to roll over on my side, but it hurts too much. ―So you‘re not doing the log then? Did somebody show you how?‖ I shrug, halfway remembering the nurse with red lipstick pointing. This nurse sighs and comes closer to the bed. I‘m all alone and I hurt too much. ―It doesn‘t matter. I‘m not keeping the baby. I can‘t.‖ ―What do you mean?‖ She sighs. ―Is there somebody I can call?‖ She puts the clipboard back on its hook. ―I don‘t have anybody.‖ ―I‘m sure that‘s not true. What about the baby‘s daddy?‖ I start to cry and everything hurts worse. All I’ve got is Troy. And the only reason I’m with him is because he looks like Mark did. He’s got the same green eyes Mark had. But he’s not him. Mark’s gone. On her way out, the nurse squeezes my foot under the blanket. ―I‘m so tired,‖ she says to somebody in the hall.
AMARIE FOX ___________________________________
pinning sugar around an old thread spool. When this work is finished – years
from now, centuries from today – I will finally come for you. On that day, there will be no more hiding. No more dark rooms, mold infested and without even a lantern. The larks will mend their broken necks and start singing again; stop smash-crash-bashing their brains out on the window ceiling glass. Out from this hell, this hiding place, I‘ll walk down your street. Sneak through your window. Hide in your shower and wait with my sweet sugar spider web. I‘ll wrap you up before you can recognize or remember my face. How I was once the man that broke free from the silver heart-shaped frame on your sister‘s bedside table. A nice man, a family man become a wanted man. But I was never nice, I borrowed a family that was not my own. All along I was a spider crouching in my makeshift nest. I‘m no daddy long legs, so you can‘t wash me down the drain.
The deranged larks blot out the light, so it is forever nighttime, here. I‘ve tried to lock them in cage, intricately woven and made of the sugar, but they couldn‘t stop from pecking at the bars to set themselves free. Streams of sticky white dangled from the feathers on their wings and gradually fell down to decorate the trees. Each morning, I stand under the branches, sugar streamers brushing against my cheeks. I'll catch a single strand in my mouth and scream into it, repeating your name. 61
Sugar, sugar come on, come to me. Screaming until the larks dive bomb my face, claw my cheeks, try to gouge out my eyes and hang them like glass ball ornaments from the threads. Take them, take them! No matter how I beg and plead, though, they never do. So it is back to my worktable in the afternoon. Sharp sharper sharpest ends stabbing my fingers like snake fangs. God, how I want to suck those ends while thinking of your body. Suck suck suck until my tongue has a giant hole in the middle and my lips are bruised and my cheeks hollowed. Suck while remembering every single bone protruding from your fragile paper skin. Hip, clavicle, rib cage. When I held you before they discovered us, you were alive and as weightless as air in my arms. I thought perhaps your bones weren‘t bones, at all, but mere wisps of smoke.
On that day I finally find you, make a meal of your body, I know I will weep for the first time and last time. Not because you‘ll be dead and gone – no, for there will always be more webs, more girls and women who look like you – but because I won‘t be able to control myself. In a frenzy, I won't be able to slow down or stop to lift one of your beautiful bones to the light, watch it sparkle and shine, before taking to my mouth and sucking the marrow clean out.
Sugar, I‘ll eat all evidence of you. No trace left behind. Not even be a strand of your hair to show that you ever existed.
ALEX VIGUE _____________________________________
live my life hangnail to hangnail. I watch them peel back, curl into strips of
skin. They form while I work; born from the wet, dry, wet, dry, wet, dry of creation. I‘m building an artificial jellyfish. I know it sounds kind of stupid, but if I could just show you, you‘d understand. I design the body on a computer screen and print it out of silicon on a 3D printer. Thin, clear, wavering; like skin. In water it nearly disappears. Hangnails sting underwater. There is a problem with simply printing a jellyfish. Life is the problem. It doesn‘t move, it can‘t swim. I‘ve accounted for this. I‘ve made corrections, innovations. You know that you can grow heart muscles in a petri dish. You can adhere them to silicon. A small spark and it will fly. You can build an artificial life form with a perfect design and moving parts. But hangnails bookend creation. My co-workers buy me Band-Aids to cover my fingers. I read a story about a person named Hangnail. They died, nailed to a cross, hanging. That‘s a joke. I think about the little, limp, silicon, heart muscle thing floating in the tank next to me. I think about muscle memory and because I‘m a scientist I don‘t think about
heart muscles and whether they can store thoughts. I think about what the other jellies might think about mine. Except jellyfish can‘t think. I name my creation Hans Christian Andersen or Jacques Cousteau; something aquatic and referential. Maybe I‘ll let it have both names like that fish I had in college that had so many names that it died. Hans Christian Jacques Cousteau Andersen. I start naming my hangnails after famous people that have been hanged. I used a Wikipedia list to find them. Marie Antoinette? No, she was beheaded. I pull the hangnails. I rip them out of their nail beds. I Marie Antoinette them. The pieces of my skin float to the bottom of Hans Christian Jacques Cousteau Andersen‘s tank. Dead skin. I think about the world that Hans Christian Jacques Cousteau Andersen lives in: a world of silicon flesh and science-grown heart muscles. A seafloor made of plump, wet, carbon hangnails instead of calcite and sand. I keep my hands in the water and brush my raw fingers against Hans Christian Jacques Cousteau Andersen‘s clear body. Will the heart muscles remember my fingers? I lift my hand out of the tank. It dries. More hangnails form.
ALISON LOCK _____________________________________
e slip into the woods, treading on last autumn's dried beech leaves, pressing
crusts of nutshells into the thick mud; the sound of a cracking spine. We climb a stone stile, half crawl through the thick holly overhanging on the other side, emerging from the cave of dark green prickle, still chatting. The dog bristles, mane risen, shoulders thickened. Then we see them––sweet cows, nibbling, lifting those summery odours of dewy meadows, grass, flowers. We do not consider going back. What harm can they do? Word goes round; a hubbub of ruminations. We are the curiosity, the break in the cudding day. Two people, one dog, scenting the air with fresh fear. First, it is just two of them, on the hoof coming through the mud-mix grass and then they are joined by a trio. They look alike, black healthy animals. 'Bullocks,' my friend says. 'Head for the gate.' Ok. I smell my own fear and hear their pant and snort too close to my back. Now, the word has spread, and they are all coming towards us, moving faster, heads down and up and side to side. 'Keep going, do not stop, do not run,' This is my mantra. I feel a nudge of a muzzle on my back or have I imagined it? If I look around they will think I want to play. They are bounding, leaping, frisky, dancing a doze-e-doe. To the front, to the back and around again, in our path, between us and the gate; masses of hide. My friend draws in the leash, dog tight to her thigh, striding, faster than I. And I work at giving the impression of a confident person who is walking along a designated footpath across a field––or am I? There are no rights in this pastoral jungle. My resolve is melting, rolling with the sweat down my back. The cattle want the dog, they want the dog, I realise this with relief. The dog is twisting around the leg of my friend, a backward glance tells me he is afraid. But the bullocks are enjoying the frisson on a dull day. Then I realise that they are the male teenagers of the cattle world. I think 'adolescents': hormone levels, random acts, slammed doors, impetuosity. This does not help. 'Mush', shouts my friend as her way is blocked by a wall of an animal, larger if only by his nearness. He moves but quickly frisks back between us. I look for the gate: it is further away, we 65
are only half way across the field. I see the upright slipstones that form the stile, the width of a slim person. The breathing down my neck continues, they are close behind right up until the end. I reach for the stone, loving the cold clammy feel of it. I turn, side-sidle through to the other side. From behind the wall, their docile eyes are gazing. The dog barks.
MELINDA GIORDANO ___________________________________________________
hey delineate the shoreline in a waving spine, steadfast in their salty acres –
these homes I can hold in my hand. Architecture that was once submerged, they were born inside currents that pulsed turquoise and lavender, and grew behind an oceanic veil, cold and serene.
They tumble in the boiling surf, helpless in the blind physicality that was born miles out at sea, where winds stir the water into madness. It was a long journey, far from the depths where Neptune embraced the watery world with his verdant, muscular arms. They were far from the light that split into a labyrinth of prisms, from shadows that bloomed at the edge of the sunken earth.
When they were free of the ocean‘s rough attentions, the glassy beach, reflecting seagulls and ships, beckoned. There they stretch like an untended necklace, a rope to mark the extent of the ocean‘s appetite.
Their bleached, fossilized skin, made of sand and salt, was tattooed with rhythmic designs. Patterns leapt across a map of continents and followed a cartography of rivers carved into bone. Products of Nature‘s boundless whimsy and creativity, they were the sum of her busy fingers, carving skeletons into cathedrals, sweeping stairways and twisted carousels.
When she opened her hand, she whispered their story into each pelagic coil, then scattered them across the green and pearl-dazzled landscape of the sea. And anyone who picked the shell up to hold it close would feel her silvery breath and hear her dreaming narration of an empire of fishes, coral grottos, drowning suns, and a world far beyond our grasp.
MELINDA GIORDANO ____________________________________________
The Countess’ Chamber
he Countess‘ chamber had four walls, a floor and a ceiling. Yet it extended
into the far corners of the world. If she had chosen to stay there for the rest of her days, Adela of Normandy would have all the earthly knowledge compiled by man to keep her company.
She was born in 1067. The abbot/poet Baudri of Bourgueil, described her chamber thusly:
―The walls are covered with tapestries, woven according to her design, and all seem alive: on one wall, creation, the fall and fratricide, the flood with fish on mountain tops and lions in the sea…On the ceiling, the sky with its constellations, the signs of the zodiac, the stars and planets described in detail. On the floor, a map of the world with its seas, rivers, and mountains, named along with their creatures, and the cities on the land masses of Asia, Europe, and Africa.‖
Adela woke and slept in a room festooned with knowledge.
She must have dreamed as well; when her chamber became a living thing. As she stepped out of bed the hem of her gown became damp with the oceans stirring beneath its satin edging. Her feet would feel the glitter of teeth as outraged kraken, icthyocentaurs and twisting leviathans minced her pretty slippers 69
into shreds of silk. She walked across continents and returned with the dirt of distant lands on the soles of her feet. The fragrance of deserts and forests, heat and ice, salt and spices clung to her.
From the walls came sound and movement: voices and blood coursed through the tapestries. Knights rode draft horses, massive with carved saddles and arras-hung reins. She heard the clash of pike and arrow; the piercing discord of battle, the conquest of England and the death of the King repeating itself. Gods, swathed in thunder, came alive: Phaeton driving his burning chariot, Cadmus and the dragon‘s teeth, alluring Orpheus…their storied miracles erupted from the cold paint and plaster. Her bed was decorated with symbols of the arts. The carvings stirred with the sound of harp and lute, with the purity of plainsong. The symmetry of the planets created slender melodies that spun like silk around Adela‘s fingers as she touched the delicate lines. At its foot were the ciphers of Galen and Hippocrates. Fragrant balms of honey, wine and turmeric swept across the sheets like perfumed breezes.
She lay on her complex bed and looked at the planets living against their twilight planes. She saw Ptolemy‘s 48 constellations draped across evening‘s distant bowers. Symbols of the zodiac, pricked with stars, balanced on the moon‘s curving longitude. Adela grew weary of the dazzling sight. She closed her eyes.
When she opened them, she was lying once more within the still world. All day she thought of the night and its convoy of fantasies. She waited for evening to arrive again, and so continue her journeys – as far as the world could take her, as far as human knowledge would allow.
ELIZABETH BROWN ______________________________________________
A Good Night For Maali
o rest for Maali. Time is like a clock unwound, festers with the fowl scent
of eager men leaning in. One cigarette in the pack, a pair of scuffed shoes, ripped pants, a black Sharpie in the left pocket that she sniffs on occasion. At one time, she used it to draw on paper, then walls, then pants and, now, mostly skin. ―You‘re a goddamn artist,‖ he told her. ―What else do you need?‖ He was a good one, but he left her on a Sunday, the Lord‘s Day, spit on her leg just before he opened the door, apologized, said he forgot he was still inside the truck. She forgave him for that and for the fifty dollars he stole from her pocket while she slept. But she couldn‘t forgive him for the other. That day, she went alone, spread her legs for the white coats. After, she felt manic, liberated, and she jumped up too quickly, saw spots, felt the warm blood gush; she walked over to the gurney next to her, hugged a crying girl with freckles. She met her in the waiting room, when big, bad, street bad, Destiny, taunted: ―Those little hands dey gonna reach out and dat baby gonna yell, help me!‖ and Freckles cried and Destiny and Maali laughed. Maali felt brave, knew freckles was a weak one, coddled, Christian. Fair skinned girls don‘t do this, Maali considered. She checks her pack. One smoke is left. That‘s what life amounts to, when all is told. Maali walks down dark alleyways, cursing thugs, accepting twenties from thick-haired prep boys who go at her, eagerly, naively, and then zip up, ask questions like ―Are you really an artist?‖ and ―What happened to you?‖
If she likes him enough, and he pays enough, she takes out her Sharpie, draws an image on his body. He chooses where and what: a lotus on a forearm, a yacht on a chest, a girlfriend‘s name on a groin. The sun sets, fiendishly. Maali settles onto the magenta couch behind Bubba‘s Thrift Shop, a mile up the road from Westminster; from here, she sees the chapel‘s steeple, imagines the boys, the way they leave her, turning back for one last glimpse—some wink and smile, others scowl; she forgives them, the way they must forget about her after, satiated, sweet bodies with sleek spines and lean limbs sprawled out across pristine sheets, lightly covered with cotton quilts. She wakes, counts her money. Forty dollars was a good night. She takes out the last Marlboro. Lights it and inhales deeply as if she is taking back her soul. Morning heat rises off pavement like sharp waves of depravity; land gulls touch down for scraps; fat black crows caw; a spindly dog growls and limps off; the sun is fierce, knows nothing of Maali‘s hunger, redemption, worn shoes; it burns like the tip of her last cigarette when she touches it to the back of her wrist, just to feel alive.
Heather Fowler is the author of the story collections Suspended Heart (Aqueous Books, Dec. 2010), People with Holes (Pink Narcissus Press, July 2012), This Time, While We're Awake (Aqueous Books, May 2013) and Elegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness (Queen's Ferry Press, forthcoming May 2014). Fowler‘s People with Holes was named a 2012 finalist for Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award in Short Fiction. She received her M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University. Her stories and poems have been published online and in print in the U.S., England, Australia, and India, and appeared in such venues as PANK, Night Train, storyglossia, Surreal South, JMWW, Prick of the Spindle, Short Story America, The Nervous Breakdown, and others, as well as having been nominated for the story South Million Writers Award, Sundress Publications Best of the Net, and the Pushcart Prize. She is Poetry Editor at Corium Magazine and a Fiction Editor for the international refereed journal, Journal of Post-Colonial Cultures & Societies (USA). Please visit her website: www.heatherfowler.com . Rachel J Fenton AKA Rae Joyce is an AUT award winning graphic poet and comics creator. She is the winner of Short Fiction‘s 7th Annual Competition (in association with Plymouth University), and her short-listings include The Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize, the Fish International Poetry Prize, Short Fiction‘s 6th Annual Competition), and the University of Maine at Machias Ultra-Short Competition. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she is the Features Editor for the international fiction zine, Flash Frontier. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in the print journals The Stinging Fly Magazine, JAAM, Brief, Short Fiction, Binnacle, and online at PANK, Metazen, Menacing Hedge, Cordite Poetry Review, Blackmail Press, Thrush Poetry Journal, Otoliths, and others. She blogs at http://snowlikethought.blogspot.com . Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, free e-books and his essay titled ―Magic, Illusion and Other Realities‖ please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com. Sheila Murphy is an American text and visual poet who has been writing and publishing actively since 1978. In addition to being named the Gertrude Stein Award Winner by (then) Sun & Moon Press for her book Letters to Unfinished J, she has numerous titles in print. She is also the co-founder of Scottsdale Center for the Arts. 74
For more information about her, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheila_Murphy Alessandra Bava is a poet and a translator who lives and works in the Eternal city. She holds an MA in American Literature and manages her own translation agency. She is the author of two bilingual chapbooks NOCTURNE (Edizioni Pulcinoelefante, 2013) and GUERRILLA BLUES (Edizioni Ensemble, 2012). Her third chapbook, THEY TALK ABOUT DEATH, will be forthcoming from Blood Pudding Press and her fourth chapbook, DIAGNOSIS, will be forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in 2014. She is the editor of ROME'S REVOLUTIONARY POETS BRIGADE ANTHOLOGY Vol. 1 (Edizioni Ensemble, 2012) and ARTICOLO 1 (Albeggi Edizioni, 2014). Her poems have been published in several journals: Plath Profiles, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Cease,Cows, Empty Mirror, and Left Curve. A best of the Net 2013 nominee, he is currently writing the biography of a contemporary American poet. Scherezade Siobhan is a psychologist/writer of Indian/Catalan/Afghan origins. Her work has been published in Muse India, Danse Macabre, Bluestem Magazine, The Blue Fog Journal, PIX Quarterly, Whalesound, Mixed Fruit, Gutter Eloquence, Looseleaf Tea, Cactii, Words Dance, Digital Verse, Voices.net, TheNewer York, Black Cat Poems, Compass Roseâ€™s print anthology et al. Forthcoming works will be published in Winter Tangerine and a few others. She is also a Pushcart Prize nominee for poetry. Aaron Wiegert is a poetry editor for Drunk Monkeys webzine and author of Evil Queen, a chapbook from Budget Press. His work has appeared in: Poetry Salzburg Review, Tulane Review, South Carolina Review, Right Hand Pointing, and Antique Children Quarterly. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jon Simmonâ€˜s poetry was awarded an Academy of American Poets Prize at Emerson College, where he graduated with a BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. His poems and stories have appeared or are forthcoming inDigital Americana, Litro, Drunken Boat, Grey Sparrow Journal, and Snail Mail Review, among other literary magazines. Rhiannon Thorne lives in Phoenix, AZ. Her work appears/is forthcoming most recently in Existere, The Mas Tequila Review, Grasslimb, and Sugared Water. She also edits cahoodaloodaling and may be reached at rhiannonthorne.com.
Jennifer MacBain-Stephens graduated from New York University, and recently relocated to the Washington DC area. She is the author of the chapbook ―EveryHerDies,‖ (ELJ Publications, forthcoming 2014.) She has written four YA non-fiction books (Rosen Publishing) and has many poems published online and in print. Recent work can be seen / is forthcoming at The Blue Hour, NonBinary Review, Vector Press, The Golden Walkman, Split Rock Review, Toad Suck Review, and Red Savina Review. For a complete list of publications visit: http://jennifermacbainstephens.wordpress.com/ Vik Shirley is a Bristol based poet and writer. She studies Literature and Creative Writing and has written about music and the arts for various publications. Although relatively new to poetry - her new found love and obsession - Vik has been a lyricist for many years, also singing and writing music as one half of Canola Tenderfoot who released their second album 'Hy-Brasil' late last year. Their music has been described as 'Electronic exotica with a hint of menace lurking in the shadows'. She has a website which you are welcome to explore at www.vikshirley.com. Jack Peachum is a contemporary poet who resides in a small rural community in southside Virginia– on the shores of Kerr Lake, 'longside an ancient pit-bull named Eleanor. He is somewhat reclusive & the author of two chapbooks, Polyamory & Poems From Kerr Lake as well as a novel, Tempest. He has also contributed essays & fiction to many journals both in print media & on the net. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2013. Mandy Pannett works freelance in the UK as a creative writing tutor. She has won prizes and been placed in international competitions and has judged several others. She is the author of four poetry collections: Bee Purple and Frost Hollow (Oversteps Books),Allotments in the Orbital (Searle Publishing) and All the Invisibles (SPM Publications). Her novella The Onion Stone was published by Pewter Rose Press in 2011. She is currently the poetry editor for Sentinel Literary Quarterly. Sally Stevens is a singer/lyricist/choral director who works in film, television and sound recordings in Hollywood, California. She has sung and assembled choirs for film scores, has served as Choral Director for the Oscars, has written lyrics for film, television and sound recordings projects, and sings on the main titles of Simpsons and Family Guy, among other TV projects over the years. She is also an exhibiting Fine Arts Photographer. For more information about her, visit her 76
websites www.Sallystevensphotography.com/filmscoring.html and www.hollywoo dfilmchorale.com . Sara Cleto is a PhD student at the Ohio State University where she studies folklore, literature, and the places where they intersect. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Cabinet des Fees: Scheherazade's Bequest, Ideomancer, Niteblade, the anthology A is for Apocalypse, and others. Her poem "The Second Law of Thermodynamics," co-written with Brittany Warman, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Jen Knox works as a research analyst and professor in San Antonio, Texas. When she's not working, she can usually be found running with her dog, experimenting in the kitchen, or jotting story ideas. Jen's writing has appeared in The Adirondack Review, Bound Off, Burrow Press Review, EDGE, Fiction Southeast, Istanbul Review, Narrative, and PANK. Connect with her here: www.jenknox.com . Rachel Bublitz is the Founder of the 31 Plays in 31 Days Project and Co-Artistic Director of All Terrain Theater. Currently, she is developing two commissions; a full length for Custom Made Theatre, and a one-act for the 2014 San Francisco Olympians Festival, and pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at SFSU. Find out more about her at http://rachelbublitz.com/ Heather Bell Adams is a fiction writer from North Carolina. She has published a number of short stories and has been a finalist for the North Carolina State University Fiction Prize, Press 43 Awards, and Reynolds Price Fiction Prize. You can find her at http://www.heatherbelladams.com Amarie Fox is a witch and lives by the sea. Her work has appeared in NANO Fiction, Metazen, Paper Darts and Sundog. More information at: amariefox.tumblr.com. Alex Vigue is a writer who earned his bachelorâ€˜s degree in creative writing Western Washington University and studied under some amazing writers there including Oliver de la Paz, Bruce Beasley, and Kelly Magee. He has had work published in Labyrinth literary journal, Jeopardy literary journal, and Pins and Needles. He seeks identity and rabid beauty in his work. Alison Lock is a writer of short stories, flash fiction and poetry and has been published in many poetry and literary journals. Her first collection of poetry, A Slither 77
of Air, was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing (2011) and her short story collection, 'Above the Parapetâ€˜ in 2013. She has an MA in Literature Studies and is presently working on a new collection of poetry. www.alisonlock.com Melinda Giordano is a native of Los Angeles, California. Her written pieces have appeared in Lake Effects Magazine, Written River, River Poets, Scheherazade's Bequest, dansemacabreonline, mirrordancefantasy.com and others. She writes flash fiction and prose poetry that speculates on the possibility of remarkable things. Melinda is interested in history: art, fashion, social-everything has a past--and anything to do with Aubrey Beardsley. Elizabeth Brown is a native of Connecticut. She has short fiction published or forthcoming in The Milo Review, Sleet Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Apocrypha and Abstractions, and elsewhere. She has recently completed a dystopian literary novel and is at work on a paranormal series for Middle Grade. She blogs about her fiction at elizabethbrownfiction.wordpress.com.