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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: Flowers. Š Kristi Beisecker No part of this publication may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of its author(s) 4



Two poems

Nicole Rollender

TWO poems

Amy Schmidt

Five poems

Laura Madeline Wiseman

Many happy returns

Jenny Erwin

This isn’t wuthering heights

William Doreski

Roll Call

Daniel Romo

Two Poems

Sarah Ghoshal

Spur on between 4:50pm to 5pm

Sarah Edwards

Their eyes bamboozled (from

Marilyn Brownstein

The Egg to the apples) Two Poems

Christine Brandel


Kathie Jacobson

Monster’s Gaze

Leonard Orr

Hold this camel

Rhonda Parrish


Jeremiah Walton





Kalisha Buckhanon

Letter to Neruda

Robert Vivian

Summer Day

Hannah Harlow

Perseus, Pegasus, Cassiopeia, orion

Kayla Pongrac

Dory T. Wellington And the Fire

David Olimpio

Orange Blue JellyFish Kite On little cat feet

Amy Foster Myer


Rhonda Parrish

Without Butterflies

Jhaki M.S. Landgrebe

The Divisible

Raymond Gibson


Editorial Note Dear Readers and Writers, Welcome to the November issue of Hermeneutic Chaos! November is a month of grandeur, reckless leaps over the parched leaves, and picking up the heaviest crayon to draw the old truths that suddenly become so important to us. It is also a month that literature is supremely fascinated with-reduced to metaphors, symbols and allegories- and in the process, awkwardly silencing it to a subjective figment, a langue spoken only inside our minds, the parole a heresy. The month seems to demand a lot from us, clipping our every response-the smell of winter, the colored symphony of the burning wood, the iambic pentameter of the sky, to mention a few -into a distinct Baudelairesque moment. The present issue contains writings that symbolize the fluidity that November stands for- the access and egress a matter of interpretations. What is fascinating about these poems is the manner in which they not only converse, but also complete each other. The individual pieces should not be seen as complete entities, rather figments that can morph into endless possibilities. We are proud of this issue and its excellent contributors without whom this issue would not have found any means of sustenance. We also take this opportunity to thank all those who submitted to our journal as well as our dedicated readers for placing faith in us. As we enter a new year, we promise to continue providing you with the most engaging, compelling and exciting literature that we receive.

Warmest Wishes, Shinjini Bhattacharjee Editor-in-Chief





NICOLE ROLLENDER ________________________________________

What’s Passed Down

The dead hunt us. We’re the ones born with a third, wandering eye that sees their last secrets – tightening the homemade noose or fingers trembling on the trigger. We’re not exactly witches. We’re among those chosen by the saint-makers. We’re not exactly sainted. We’re seers working in the fields between day-life and dream. In my grandmother’s telling, we serve as witnesses, our hearts blood hosts to what’s immortal. Her younger brother was pushed down the brownstone’s laddering steps, dying when his skull hit the floor. Whether accident or murder, his rattled ghost crawled for years under beds, toying with trains and rocking Mama in her old chair. When I started having dreams about suicides, I didn’t know whether I was hunter or hunted. 10

The first time, it was the same scene three nights in a row: A neighbor puts a gun to his right temple and pulls the trigger. He rattles my eyes. You could have saved me if you called. This is how I know the dead walk. After the dreams, his sister told me he died the weekend before, alone, scarves he painted Monet-like bloodied under his body. And how, after I saw my grandmother’s brother standing in his suspendered shorts by his old clothes chest, my father burned it in the backyard. It’s too brittle to keep, but I knew he wanted to burn out my secret eye, the one my grandmother slipped into my cradled forehead, then my cry and the eternal answering.


NICOLE ROLLENDER ________________________________________


I stay awake so you’ll stay dead. Your head is bound in a boat, anchored at the prow. This rush, rush, shhhhh through broad waters toward the realm of wails and shirring flames. I’ve caught and killed for you, held a trout’s gleam down. I’ve knocked the flight out of its fins, tattered the fish’s saltspeckled skin after boning, left the remains on rocks for birds. You overate your life’s wreckage, choking on the bones, your little ghost-bird climbing the back of your throat, pulling up with unclean hands, its cape’s flick a sliver of apple lodging there. I’ve salted the corners of my house. Here, life spins on its quick wheel.


Can you hear the creak of tables where spirits rock and fret to feed themselves, always failing? Yes, click your teeth behind the mist, poltern wail of fish spine and cattle bone. Can we say ghost, without meaning tear to pieces or back-comer? Feel for a fish-hook in the dark. Your way back is unlighted, a dream of purple figs, the scent of blue-veined cheese your haunt. Doesn’t this distance frighten you, your watery hands waving at my casket of hours?


AMY SCHMIDT ________________________________________

To: You of Constant Disappearing


The park was her idea, also the basket of food. Hard cheese wrapped in red cloth. Cheap wine. Two avocados, halved, pits removed and pressed back together so careful she forgot they were not whole. On a wool blanket blistering in the sun the photograph was her idea too. The protest belonged to him, the pleading to her. Attempt to fix him like a permanent figure to backdrop of time—irrational and also hers.


The stranger passing received the camera, dangling from her outstretched hand like overripe fruit. No one counted, said smile. The shutter, the momentary dark. The stranger’s head cocked to one side. Not swayed by the wind, though a fierce breeze was blowing. Her thank you snagged in the next gust, went unheard.

Dark room: She is alone with a bottle of developer. The strip is in her hand. Aberration: How could she have known even the camera would fail?— his arms smeared into arborvitae bushes,


knees into knots of trees.


AMY SCHMIDT ________________________________________

Through The Looking Glass 1. Standing beside me at the bathroom sink, you set your tooth brush down to examine yourself in the mirror. You lament its flaws: left nostril slightly larger than the right, a chin’s uneven jut. 2. All day, I am meetings, luncheons, briefcase like a threat at my side. Wing-tip. Pin-stripe. Full-windsor tie knot. 3. In the settling dark of our room, you see me with your lids closed; the grope of your hands on my body states resuscitating fact. Your kiss shatters the lookingglass. 4. In sleep, I dream I am not dreaming. 16

You are still here, your toothbrush still damp, your asymmetrical face relaxed in the lull of slumber. I graze your cheek with my lips. Your skin is more real than I remember. I still know who I am.


LAURA MADELINE WISEMAN ________________________________________

The First Bottle I didn’t understand why there was a bottle by the sink. I didn’t put it there. You said you didn’t put it there. Maybe it was the Russian cleaning girl with sun gold hair, or maybe the manager inspecting our toilet paper supply, our laptops of passwords, our dingy underwear no bleach could undo. Every time we returned I counted what I thought we had—earbuds, books, notes, lip gloss, sports bra. Let’s watch the movie anyway, I said happy with greek yogurt, peanut butter, and dark chocolate, you tipping back the necks of beers like it was a race. Maybe it was a race, I just didn’t want to put on sweats, sneakers, and a heart monitor. I couldn’t stop eyeing it, the glint in florescent bathroom lights, the pearlescent, the solid body absorbing heat of our summer room. Maybe it’s like a pillow mint, I said. Could be, you said. Or, I thought like Pandora’s jeweled jar, a pit of trash, a dram of poison. When you got up for another beer, you brought the first bottle over to the space beside the bed. You looked at me, raised an eyebrow, grinned. I shut my eyes. I could feel your knee begin to bounce as you touched the cork.


LAURA MADELINE WISEMAN ________________________________________

A Work of Bottles Kneeling below the newly inherited desk, you said drift bottles were the only thing that would save us. I watched you re-screw the top to drawers and generations of dust, staples, and cigarette burns. Okay, I said, wondering what the bottles were to save us from, exactly—the neighbor man who made weird noises from his porch, the mold in the basement, the bills, whatever poison we eventually drank adding to what we’d already swallowed. Were bottles insurance, a 401K, a stock of amber and cobalt, ball mason and ketchup glass to sell on eBay, the fleemarket, on the hard tongue of driveway to garage salers looking for strollers, clothes, the rocker my dad gave us when we moved it? Do you mean saving, as in our relationship, that creature’s color and hue, opalescence different as the light changes, as saltwater seeps the messages bleary. I asked, What will be the desk’s designated purpose? as I considered its new place in the living room, the cat tree on one side, the shelf of bottles above, the plush secondhand chair on the other. Your work, you said. Oh, my work, I said, nodding, Good.


LAURA MADELINE WISEMAN ________________________________________

Code They’re written in code, you said, spreading the papers, their curling edges weighed down by stapler, book, coaster. I stood in your doorway, not threshold crossing, not overthe-shoulder reading foreign tongues, not searching for clues, not enabling this new hobby, way too much like my dad’s. The cats twined my legs. This one, you said, drawing it toward you and tucking a corner under your keyboard, Is in Cyrillic. Tapping a word, you squinted. Kafe. That’s coffee, right? I watched your fingers on the mouse, the internet’s brightening and darkening before you. Your glasses flashed with light. I nodded as a dose-va-donya broke free from what held it down. I departed for the kitchen to do a crossword, build mermaid castles of cards, shake the swisher for the cats who followed me, my entourage of Midwestern middleclass suburbia. My phone babbled nonsense as you broke codes. I turned it off. I slid three broken bottles into the trash under yesterday’s news, chocolate bar wrappers, and the cardboard sleeves from imported beer you insisted we buy. I returned to my chair at the table, the light against the glooming. I opened the tarot you once bought me and shuffled.


LAURA MADELINE WISEMAN ________________________________________

Fabulous Dream Bottles In the dream, you said you found this one bottle in New Orleans post-Katrina, but we were never in New Orleans. Remember? We turned down the research stipend, the sultry humid thrum of south for a Midwest home. You said you found another bottle in the Hudson the morning after 9/11, but we were co-eds then, all those amber waves of corn, cicadas, weekend bar crawls. You said you found another one in a wash in Juarez where women are dumped in the desert, mutilated by men not human anymore, but I never let you stop the car. I said, Drive, my hand gripping your own. In the dream, I studied the drift bottles you insist had significance, meant life or death, accumulating on shelves, tables, the fridge. Then, suddenly, my dad was there. Get in the truck, he said and I did, my adult self back in the cab with his old dog that had already died. We’re putting you to work. As he started the truck, I didn’t put on my seatbelt because you don’t in the truck. I listened to Garrison Keillor crooning the merits of ketchup, duct tape, and buttermilk biscuits, watched gridlock traffic of Sunday drivers even though it was Saturday and then, there was only open road.


LAURA MADELINE WISEMAN ________________________________________

Gift Bottles I called you from the middle of nowhere. Where are you? In the car, in the cold, somewhere on I-80, at a gas station at night because I couldn’t hold it and for this trip, I had to travel alone. You know rest stops terrified me—semis, lone cars, men— I was not strong enough to fight the middle of nowhere. Did you get gas? I didn’t get gas, but drove with my phone on speaker, your voice hollering from my lap, the bottles in the hatch shifting, more in the backseat clinking, and still more beside me in the passenger seat setting off the seatbelt light, blinking red, red, red, red. The pumps were prepay inside and inside were rough men, those who watched my painful scramble to the toilet, listening to my hot relief—thin doors, no music, no din of customers, talk, my semi-private/semi-public pee. Get gas in Omaha, then. You don’t want me stuck in the long stretches. I didn’t get stuck, but the road was dark, the interstate empty but for me and semis and my mind could not hold onto where I was, what I was doing, the songs of the radio, what I said to my dad’s bottles I’d fetched just for you, their open throats, their messages as light as air.


JENNY ERWIN ________________________________________

Many Happy Returns I coughed and the dead shimmied like dads from the cracks between crumbling bricks ran off into the otherworld out the alleyway I lay prostrate on the different parts of myself body stuck on your lapis lazuli bullshit sheets I saw you blow your nose in the bathroom and look at it ha! your brain is just a machine—it hums and clicks and lights up just like every other copy! you recited mindless pleasantries “you too” checked for wallet phone keys we adieued and shook hands I tried my best to keep my bones in I think I did a good job not a lot of profit and on the walk home tip-toed over the carcass of a nightingale


WILLIAM DORESKI ________________________________________

This isn’t Wuthering Heights You claim I should have an affair as harsh and deep as childbirth. So I retreat to the haunted barn to sort through boxes of rubble that used to be antiques. Wheels and gears, tatters of linen, brass pins and tubes, cast-iron shapes so rusty they crumble when touched. I don’t dare climb the wooden stairs to the loft where the farmer hanged his children, wife, and himself. Two hundred years later the ropes still creak with the weight of the bodies, and their smoky faces gaze through cobwebbed small-pane windows. You won’t enter because afraid of rats rather than ghosts. The smell of hay sweetens the gloom although no one has stored hay in the loft for a century. One sad horseshoe hangs nailed to a beam. I’m no Heathcliff and this isn’t Wuthering Heights but a shabby old New England farm that will soon bulldoze itself and sprout a hundred vinyl houses reeking faintly of formaldehyde. My only affairs will be private showings of timid spring flowers—


bunchberry, mayflower, lady slipper, trillium, skunk cabbage. These flourish in the woods below the ruined spring house. Later, when I’ve looted one or two salable antique objects—a clock, maybe, or a set of tools,—I’ll wander to the brook and cup a pawful of stone-cold water and drink in memory of those hauntings When dark falls you’ll realize you mistook me for a creature of passions the cosmos can’t sustain. The distance from here to Venus exhausts even the cruelest lust, while the wink of the nearby stars exculpates the dream life you thought would soon engulf me.


DANIEL ROMO ________________________________________

Roll Call I raise my entire arm, but no one calls out my name. Fingertips dipped in layers of ceiling. Frenzied hand waving side-to-side to no one in particular. I’ve heard stories in which long periods of neglect to limbs can lead to amputation. The story of my life is an asterisk. I wave and wave but really just want to get the day going so I can enjoy the contents of my sack lunch. Maybe the teacher is a windstorm, overseeing life, and my classmates are missing kites blown away. Maybe my head is simply not high enough, aspirations more in common with ground than clouds. I swear... one minute you're on the honor roll, the next minute you're eraser shavings. There's a fine line between fine lines and infinity.


SARAH GHOSHAL ________________________________________

High Class Fences Always for the quick buck, the tuck jump, the bumpy ride, the hidey hole, the cold trail, the failed marriage, the carriage horse, the hoarse voice, the choice meat, the heated debates of opposing sides at a Thanksgiving dinner table, the fable of family and love. For the guilt she’s built all around us. For that one moment of pleased that comes with ten thousand moments of pleading. For digs and snipes and pipes and ignorance. For making herself feel better. It’s always all for making herself feel better. One day, she’ll look around and see holes in the fences she’s erected in high class’s honor. She’ll search and search but will never find that which has trickled through those holes – children, regret, fear, happiness, the chance to be a decent person. She’ll reach out to her heritage for answers and find only a cold, empty freezer with a wooden chair next to it. She’ll sit in the chair.


SARAH GHOSHAL ________________________________________

Changing the Grid The landscape changes. There are trees to get over, but I can now hurdle instead of just step over them. I don’t stop running even when I notice that the perfectly symmetrical pine forest is becoming overgrown with unrecognizable green. These plants encroach on the science experiment of parallel pine trees in a grid. They slide in like poison, brightening the forest when we come in here for dark, for damp, for relief. There are more bugs. More fallen trees. More life than ever before. Before the storm I took these trees for granted. They had been there forever. When I was huddled in the hallway with my husband, listening to the crack of branches, Sandy’s howl and unexpected hubris. I didn’t think of the Gardens, where I came for refuge, where I learned my dog, where I run just to run with no watch and no route and no goal. I didn’t think that maybe these old trees couldn’t handle it, couldn’t be the trees we needed them to be. I just waited for the power to come back on. The landscape changes with newness and with death, with clichés abound. The ground changes as I run. The dirt moves, the trees sway in the wind of my movement. I am not one with this place, no matter how much I want to fold it up and put it in my back pocket and bring this slice of Jersey with me. I am not one with this place but I can smell the green as it makes its way to the center, covering dampness, making the grid even smaller.


SARAH EDWARDS ________________________________________

Spur On Between 4:15pm to 5:00pm It began with my need for a cheek jacket. I bought it the first time with left half of my lips missing as if hidden in some box, fortnight plus five of the era since done. The cheek jacket came sheathed in a squared casket with foil typography penned with machined technique. I could tell your unassuming thoughts when I raised the casket, from the way your eyebrows formed 3 unequal lines on your pore less temples. I still had to, the alternative was leather-colored vellum forming a seared crust, living in infinite permanence. Stakes as high as unnerved chatter, you embarked with your arm intertwined with mine. I compensated the dealer by brushing in pseudo banknotes. You acknowledged the dealer’s sallow pores and as it escaped, you saw my eyelashes droop in my sockets. You amended by picking out one webbed threadlike fiber at any pace. After gathering all 150, you took out the corpuscle matchbox sewed to the chest hair growing on your left chest view and laid them in before depressing the clammy drawer. As I heard the engine rev a hollow fog, both of our clocks started to gag fluid vapors. With the cheek jacket stoned in the casket, my fingers dug in deeper as I looked to the raw fortnight advancing. The dealer had sworn with molded guarantee and I saw the ashy grip with no metal cuts. My cheeks would be liberated of sanguine canals. Just a marked fortnight, or so, as drafted on the cardboard casket.


MARILYN BROWNSTEIN ________________________________________

Their Eyes Bamboozled (From the Egg to the Apples)* They had thought they found gold in the temple. Two brothers, portly priests, found two ribbed, squat jars filled waist-high in dreams,

but it was only bamboo, phyllostachys aurea“allgold”: in one pot fourteen golden culms and in the other, fifteen giant fronds,

counting the sheared or broken arc of one fallen in the vestibule. And both their parents dead and neverdead and dead-set

against mourning: the mantra of their golden years, “May you never be sorry for anything you didn’t do,” and deathless imperatives

follow, ab ovo usque ad mala; take ginseng for spasms of the heart, lotus root and exercise under siege of dreams whose devices

are rooms for regret. Take an ancient tale for gospel, like one wherein the mandarin’s grey beard dabbles in his bath, his long nails drinking

in ten small circles, soaking and softening and rolled meticulously back. Seated back to back with his youngest daughter,

he inflects advice with rivulets of water


on her back and shoulders, indistinguishable from inspiration or tears on eclectic paths

along her tingling cheeks and ardent spine. Near, so near to dreaming, she takes heart from his subvocalic art, mere ping

and babble to pretenders outside the room’s three glazed walls. For him, she is the water lily with a heart of gold; for her, he is the living heart of all,

wrenched open wide for her. The room’s far end is open to a garden pool where avid redgold carp hang, breathing out

wobbling orbs of pellucid conversation, and evergreen bamboo allgold asserts a true goldgreen against the snow, pure gold against the greening spring.

*ab ovo usque ad mala: from the egg to the apples, from beginning to end, as in a Roman banquet


CHRISTINE BRANDEL ________________________________________

Life Line A doctor said the blue line through her body (that keeps a girl healthy) had turned red and too reckless for his liking. It's no wonder. Not a wonder at all.


CHRISTINE BRANDEL ________________________________________

Martyrdom A finger must go, it's inevitable. So much evil in the world hangs heavy on a young woman's wrist. She could write a letter or photograph a death, but who would that hurt? She needs to make something red. She's seen it all from her room, watched knives cutting skin. Her mother had always tossed apples to her to carve, let her step up and speak to others. It's work but she's often worn torment. A fingerless angel must fly above it all. She's just perfect, so young and, they'll say, innocent and blonde. It's more right this way.


KATHIE JACOBSON ________________________________________

Dearest I believe when the world stops turning we will fly off, you and I, no longer holding hands, into the mysterious darkness that holds the stars. We will carry with us rocks and sand and droplets of brackish water. We will crumble shells between our fingers. We will decorate the atmosphere, our hair trailing, our limbs askew. We will sing: Tra-la-la, la-la? We will splinter between our things: the wedding china with all its dust, four digital cameras - Olympus, Sony, Nikon, Cannon - none of them making a photographer of you; the ukulele that tendered lullabies; sideboards from bunk beds long outgrown; the gas lantern and canvass shelter and Svea stove purchased before college swallowed whole the fabric of summers by the lake, on the mountains, in the desert. We will laugh when telescopes float by dangling controllers meant to train the lens on coordinates of falling stars which we never, ever learned to use. We will be floating stars - careening between the icy metals of clothes dryers, and tableware, and rowing machines, and Frigidaires; of barges and DC-10s, and army tanks; of bridge girders, and lampposts; through guard rails - our two hearts four. I can tell you where I stood: the precise shade of aquamarine carpet under my grandmother’s rocker with the burnt red cushion where she sat knitting sweaters with hoods and zippers- one for each of us, mine peacock brilliant - with cable twists up each sleeve when the president’s head bent unnatural against the rise of his car’s seat; and where I sat: the kitchen corner with loud geranium wallpaper when the Challenger lit the sky. I can tell the classroom door, the chair, the chalkboard, the dry dust of erasers, when Jay, seven years young, complained of cartoons interrupted, asked did they rip the sky on purpose, those planes that felled (as morning coffee chilled, unsipped) and toppled towers. I cannot tell this place. Here: when the wind has faltered and even beech leaves hang without motion. Standing: green earth browns beneath my feet. 34

I cannot hear the whisper of melting ice. Nor can I measure how water carves a canyon between cliffs, how plates fracture beneath the earth, how stars die. I float through the sky a bird with its feet on the ground. Unflocked. I move through the sky with my feet on the ground.


LEONARD ORR ________________________________________

Monster’s Gaze There were my monstrous eyes, bigger than ancient giant squid eyes, always wide open when you were anywhere I could see. I sent my lines of sight around walls and trees to find you. You weren’t frightened by my persistence in standing near to watch when you reapplied your makeup, or by my anxiety to see how you used a needle near your eyelashes, or brushed color near your gray-green eyes. During our nights, you saw my eyes always open any time you woke up, following you wherever you moved, whatever you did. You weren’t frightened by my mountain gorilla gazes. When you left, my myopic whale eyes clouded over so I could focus on recalled scenes with you. I am supposed to watch out for floaters. That made me think of my leviathan body floating by you when you look down from the ferry or pier. You see me and toss down a poem and silently wave.


RHONDA PARRISH ________________________________________

Hold This Camel "Hold this camel," he said, laughing his cruel laugh, dry as the Sahara, thin as my dreams. He thrust it, round, stinking into my fingers. As foreign to my hand as the mammal would be, I held it awkwardly, squinting against the smoke. His lighter scraped to life its flame consuming the travel agent's brochure. "It's the only one you'll ever see." When, years later, the cancer took him, ate him up like the big, bad wolf, I ordered him burned to ash, cashed the insurance cheque, booked a trip, and laughed and laughed and laughed.


JEREMIAH WALTON ________________________________________

Mess When bees are just bees the imagination we evolved sips a lonesome 40. When a street magician tricks your 10,000 year old brain the bees become unconditional belief in angels with busted clocks for faces, dusty fairies pollinating the safe-word, your smile. Put your ears against a paycheck's tick & time will talk you into depositing angry suicides for hurricane insurance in Kansas. When the color of lightning isn't a google search and childhood inks color in the silhouettes of monsters there's a safe-word that doesn't require rope to compose. Love graffiti-ed into existence Sun flower fields armed with insect corpses Reproduction how-to guides available through Amazon Reasons to kill include family, graffiti, art, depression, jewelry, dark skin, police, shot in the back, oil, green lawns, psycho semantics, political circus antics, liquor, Black Panthers, 187, heroin, cheating spouses, the etymology of Christ, Churches tongue kissing flames, "GOD TOLD ME TO KILL THE RATS!" We members of the runt raccoon revolution will die on the front lines of unnoticed and be forgotten in the next trending hashtag. The greatest mystery of this complicated world is whether or not you're going to kill yourself. The bees are just bees.





KALISHA BUCKHANON ________________________________________



ven when their safest part of the world began to crumble and tumble on down, it still

smelled of fresh paint, like a stretch of new city projects some decades ago instead of now. These were plain black people. They made a heaven for a time. They didn’t own the land. As good neighbors they had come there in spurts to hide from an untrusted ending to Vietnam, a death penalty reborn to America, a season of cicadas come down to Mississippi and shirked offers for their hands in the tenant farms aplenty. This was cheap, so much nicer. The rest of them followed a few of them who found a distant portion of a tiny place called Bledsoe, on outskirts of the bigger place Koscuisko. There, lynchings had been possible but spared. There, none had yet erected mailboxes or signposts of ownership. There, the dejected and homeless and faithful could cover their heads. It was just there, a part of town with no townspeople. So some had come there with old rusted pick-up trucks and improvised tents and donated trailers and short mobile homes HUD had just begun to regulate. But they didn’t own the land. They piled up like pioneers headed somewhere and fugitives run away. They dug multiple outhouses to share all-around including upkeep. They cleaned and reinstated a well. They made babies and families. They pooled the kids among them to a few schools they could actually go into now, so long as they could figure out a way to get there without asking a white person to come around to pick them up. They didn’t vote. There, every head of a household could be proud. They were all owners. In less than ten years they got so used to it they talked about it outside of it too much. When sounded as loud to strangers as eyes on potatoes once the pantry is spare, their contentment and joy sheared down. They got found out. So they never owned the land. A young eastern European immigrant turned tenant farm capitalist turned real estate developer in Vicksburg got mind to buy their sprawling prairie, install electricity and piping, cajole Bell South to bless them with phone lines, assure them: “Oh no, y’all can stay.” In lieu of fenced plots (“Too expensive”), he wound rope around staves. Then he charged bit by bit for the peoples’ rights to stay there, until their forty acres accidentally had its own spot on a Mississippi map as well as its own name: Singer’s Trailer Park.


ROBERT VIVIAN ________________________________________

Letter to Neruda


he moon of your skull is naked now and all your lovers have made themselves

into birds and silk scarves and I think of you now at the beginning of September on a rainy day because you once asked in a poem, ―Shepherd-boy, shepherd-boy, don’t you know that they wait for you?‖ and it was like you were talking to me all the days of my life and the early morning hours before dawn where I wait for words to come in a room looking out on bean fields covered in mist and I wonder about you, Pablo, and dream that your fingers that once wrote poems across pages are buried now in dust and dust themselves and I see flowers growing out of what is left of your mouth or maybe it is a star so you are able to rise above your poems because you are a poem and I am the shepherd boy left behind bereft of any sheep who remembers their baaing from a long time ago or was it a dream from another night, another morning when you spoke for me in a poem and asked me the question I could not answer that keeps asking itself in the dark with dearer insistence—―Shepherd-boy, shepherd-boy, don’t you know that they wait for you?‖—and even the small town traffic lights of Alma ask this question, even the mist above the bean fields shredding itself into the breathable earth—and it has taken all these years and many unfulfilled hopes to write you this letter for I too wait for my coming and want to die laughing though nothing is more surprising than to be alive right now and not know what I’m going to say or hear next, my own laughter, si, or someone saying buena suerte to a stranger in a brightly lit drugstore and so please forgive the frailty of this letter, Pablo, and its small freight of ignorance and not-knowing and the love of words that, who knows, may have already betrayed me a thousand times these sweet and silent mornings in front of a lit candle that can be blown out any second which makes it all the more precious for its flickering apostrophe of light guiding me deeper into the heart of a great mystery whispering sweet poem over and over again until it ends in a whimper.


HANNAH HARLOW ________________________________________

Summer Day


ying on my bed, mid-afternoon, it’s the birds chirping outside my window

that, when I close my eyes, make me imagine I’m in a yard, my yard, my yard in the future, with trees, whose leaves filter the sunlight, as I lie in a hammock just resting, it’s early evening, and my husband is inside making drinks, maybe starting dinner. I remember the night long ago I watched a meteor shower sitting on a hammock sideways next to a boy I liked. When I came inside afterwards, I found mosquitoes had eaten a line of bites across my lower back where my shirt had ridden up as we rocked back and forth, and the rope rubbed and exposed a sunset of skin that was now not just red, but swollen and itchy. The disc ends and the CD player automatically shuffles to the next CD. Suddenly it is not summer anymore but autumn, and it’s nighttime and there is a dog walking with me. We’re in the city, so it must be before I meet my husband, or long after. The dog is a Newfoundland and I don’t have to reach down at all for my hand to rest on his head as we walk. The streetlights are dim and a haze of mist rims the moon’s light, a moon only three quarters full. I walk by a tree I know whose leaves would be brown in sunlight, but now they look pink. The yellow leaves on another tree look brown. I am so busy looking at the leaves, I just now notice there is a whirring noise getting closer behind me. The dog keeps walking as though he hasn’t heard anything. I turn to see the whirring is an electric wheelchair, one of those big ones, like a cart almost. Surely I could outrun one if I needed to? The song ends and the next one is completely different. This is a mix my ex-boyfriend made for me. He gave it to me when he broke up with me. That’s weird, isn’t it? He felt so bad about breaking up with me. That was a long time ago. My mother opens the door without knocking. She’s begging me to get up, but I can’t. I physically can’t. There is still so much more I need to find out. 43

KAYLA PONGRAC ________________________________________

Perseus, Pegasus, Cassiopeia, Orion


started by tracing his hands on a piece of yellow construction paper. Then I

sketched each wrinkle, each protruding vein. I paid close attention to the curves of his fingernails and the skin that formed the topmost part of his fingertips. His cuticles were my favorite, though I do admit that I pushed them back slightly. It was a wonderful task, turning his hands into universes all their own, complete with four constellations so pronounced that by the time I put my pencil to rest, he was panicking as he searched for the rest of his body.


DAVID OLIMPIO ________________________________________

Dory T. Wellington and the Fire Orange Blue Jellyfish Kite I stole the kite from Mr. Kensey on my birthday. I stole it while he slept in a chair in his backyard. Me and Dory T. Wellington, we stood on the horizontal fence beams and looked into Mr. Kensey's backyard at that fire orange blue jellyfish kite and we wanted it. Dory said, "Let's steal the kite." "I'll do it," I said. "It's my birthday." Dory said, "You should do it. You're faster." "I'll do it," I said, "because I want to do it." And I did. I stole that kite. And then me and Dory, we ran through the open lots in back of my house with the fire orange blue jellyfish kite. The lots where houses weren't built yet. Just heaps of ant hills and spider holes, and patches of grass, and chiggers. The lots where me and Dory rode our bikes, and sipped Capri-Sun, and ate Peanut Butter and Honey sandwiches, and shot BB guns at cans. And once, I shot a BB at Dory's face, but only because he dared me to because he didn't believe it would hurt. And it lodged in his cheek real good but it didn't bleed. And we laughed when I did it, and Dory never cried. I was grounded for weeks after the BB. But it didn't matter, being grounded. Because I still had Dory T. Wellington. And now, the fire orange blue jellyfish kite. And the scar that’s never gone away from the BB in my cheek.


AMY FOSTER MYER ________________________________________

On Little Cat Feet


he roof of her garage has become the playground for neighborhood cats.

Every time she looks out her upstairs window, someone is up there checking out the gutters, stalking a flapping leaf, or batting about the walnuts squirrelled away. Never more than one cat at a time, of course, so they must have worked out a schedule. In the spring and fall, when the clouds lower like a downy quilt over the city, the cats dance across a grey-laden sky. When she sees one, she stops her work, opens her window and kneels down, elbows resting on the sill. She asks how their day is going, where it is they’re coming from, why her roof is so interesting to them. Oh, just fine, they might say. A little chilly on the paws. Or, Not far, you know, just across the street. Or, because there’s a nice view from here and we like the way the apricot branches hang over the garage and make little caves we can hide in to wait for squirrels and bushtits. She shares a laugh with them, but isn’t fooled by their feline bravado. Their efforts in this regard seem more affected than actual – all she’s ever seen mustered are half-hearted attempts as though scaring the squirrels and birds into thinking they’ll be gotten is all the cats have ever been after in the first place. She sets bowls of tuna, sometimes milk, on the roof outside the window. She doesn’t care that one of the cats wears a tag on its collar that says, don’t feed me. Who’s going to know? Once, she sees a new cat on her roof. His fur is so perfectly grey, it’s almost purple, as though the cat bathes in early morning fog. She asks the cat what it’s like to be a cat, and he says, come and see. He pads away over the plastic corrugated panels that link her house to the garage, his tail up-raised and swishing. Oh no, she says. I couldn’t possibly. But when he plops to his side, rolls over a few times, bats at a dangling leaf, she slides the window up and balances on the ledge.


The roof seems much steeper with one foot and a shoulder outside the house so far up from the ground. She crawls down it on hands and knees. The plastic can’t hold her weight but she keeps going. Seeing her approach, the cat jumps to his feet with a look of alarm and amusement. He dives into the tree as the connecting porch roof crashes beneath her weight. Overhead, a tittering gaggle of bushtits take flight, screeching their alarm into a sky the same gun-metal blue as the cat’s eye marble she found buried in her yard last summer.


RHONDA PARRISH ________________________________________



fter his funeral it was my job to clean his apartment; a cramped and

dreary place with fly-spotted windows, overflowing ashtrays and outdated furniture. The air was stale and the rooms filled to bursting with memories. They danced through the sunbeams on the backs of dust motes, lurked in the corners like cob webs and whispered with wire hanger voices from the closet. Weddings, graduations and birthdays huddled together on the mantle, and candid moments lined up like soldiers in books, stood back to back in the shadows of an antique bookshelf. Pressed like a leaf between pages, I opened the window, inhaled the autumn bite, watched the apartment breathe, expand. I dusted off the memories, each by each, packed them up, gagged with paper, cardboard and tape. The boxes stacked into towers of sentiment labeled with their destinations. STORAGE. CHARITY. MOM. I discovered it as I was leaving, tucked between the cushion and arm of his favorite recliner. Faded by time, with ragged edges and a faint stain in the top corner, I could clearly imagine it held between his yellow-stained fingers. I closed my eyes, and joined him in that nearly-forgotten time, re-living. The air was sweet with rain, the plants were freshly green. I reached up to hold his hand, calloused and hard. It swallowed mine, warm and gentle. My boots were flashes of yellow as they danced through puddles, a cacophony of drips and drops erupting around them. They splattered against his trousers, grey with a permanent seam, leaving brown spots and trails he laughed off. The leaves on the overhanging trees laughed with him, drizzling us with the jeweled beads that clung to them. I stood a while, torn, then I folded it up and slipped it into my wallet, between my daughter's grade one picture and a twenty dollar bill. I shut the window with a bang that scattered dust bunnies along the empty kitchen floor and left, closing the door behind me.


JHAKI M.S. LANDGREBE ________________________________________

Without Butterflies


he motives were unclear; she wasn’t sure why she went.

But she did. She went to Budapest. And she went alone. And although she did not know why she went, she did know why she went alone. She did not have another. She boarded the plane without butterflies or a shower. She only looked out the window and wondered what to think. And despite this non-thinking, she appeared quite thoughtful. And because the eleven days preceding the trip came and went without fanfare, she did not concoct a magical and anticipatory list of sites to see. She only went. And here she was. For two days she walked across magnificent bridges guarded by lions or their butts, depending on her direction, there or back; mane or butt. Both ways, she stopped in the middle of the bridge and peered down the proud river. Her features were probably not Hungarian, not definitely American, and just short of mysterious where they stood on the bridge. Staring deep down the length of the Danube, awing at its width, and not considering its depth, she seemed thoughtful again. However she appeared, she only wondered lightly.


RAYMOND GIBSON ________________________________________

The Divisible a short film


hot of woman’s hand placing flower on a gravesite.

Shot of man’s hand with sand trickling through fingers. (Note: if woman right-handed, man uses left, and vice versa). A woman’s hands underwater, struggling but sinking. Shot of man staring out at an ocean. A man’s hands clawing at the inside of a pine box. Shot of candle flaring in steady breeze. Drowning woman subjective to third-person camera, buried man subjective to third person camera. The man’s hand empty, the candle blows out Reveal they are the same man, beach sunset, seemingly lost. Reveal they are the same woman, graveside, visibly upset. Smoke rises from snuffed candle, match cut tracking shot, a rolling ball of yarn unravels to a thread. Tracking shot through an interior hallway, with beach sand spilled out of the open doorways which line it. Shot of opening closet, one sweater on a wire hanger, one wire hanger untwisted on the floor by it.


Static shot, large moth flies out of the sweater Dirt shovels onto a seemingly upright window. Fade. White text on black: 1. Time is bearing another son. / Kill time! She turns in her pain! / The oak is felled in the acorn / And the hawk in the egg kills the wren. —Dylan Thomas 2. The Divisible


|Cover Art|


Kristie Beisecker


ristie Beisecker’s photographs are fluid,

dynamic, and complete with epiphanic possibilities. What is so interesting about her art is the fearless amalgamation of a boundless imagination with the pragmatic procedures of science that lends it a palimpsestic expanse inviting numerous interpretative inhabitants. Her artistic foundation is in the study of light, sound and form, and in the creation of works that bridge science and spirituality. Self-identifying as an alternative scientist, she is intrigued by the patterns of nature and its subtle radiation of energy. She creates her works by exposing electricity over photo-sensitive paper, using elemental flora as subject matter. What results are ethereal silhouettes of flowers, leaves, and vegetation that pulse and glow. Describing this type of contact print photo process as Kirlian Photography, Beisecker focuses her work not on the material nature of the flora, but on the auric energy of plant life. The adjoining photograph is a tree branch with flowers that has been exposed with electricity on a photosensitive paper and then developed normally in a darkroom. Flowers Kirlian Photography 22 X 28 in. KRISTI BEISECKER


The Contributors


Nicole Rollender’s poetry, nonfiction and projects have been published or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets 2014, Creative Nonfiction, Radar Poetry, Ruminate Magazine, PANK, Salt Hill Journal, THRUSH Poetry Journal and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Nicole’s poem ―Rise Up‖ is the winner of CALYX Journal’s 2014 Lois Cranston Memorial Prize (this to be announced Sept. 15). She’s the winner of the 2012 Princemere Poetry Prize for her poem ―Quickening,‖ as well as the 2012 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize for her Pushcart Prize-nominated poem ―Necessary Work,‖ selected by Li-Young Lee. Her poetry chapbook Arrangement of Desire was published by Pudding House Publications. She received her MFA from Penn State University, and currently serves as media director for Minerva Rising Literary Magazine and editor of Stitches Magazine, which recently won a Jesse H. Neal Award.

Amy Schmidt’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Profane, Ruminate, Mud Season Review and Calyx, among others. She has been a finalist for the Janet McCabe Poetry Prize a winner of the Jewish Literary Review’s Anniversary Contest and an Arrowhead Regional Arts Grant recipient. She lives in northern Minnesota with her husband, daughter and hound dog where snow is a given and sun is a gift.

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of more than a dozen books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her recent books are American Galactic (Martian Lit Books, 2014), Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink, 2014), Queen of the Platform (Anaphora Literary Press, 2013), Sprung(San Francisco Bay Press, 2012), and the collaborative book Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles Books, 2014) with artist Sally Deskins. She holds a doctorate from the University of Nebraska and has received an Academy of American Poets Award, a Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner Award, and the Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Mid-American Review, and Feminist Studies. www.lauramadelinewiseman.com


Jenny Erwin has published articles in The Ground Magazine and is a singer/songwriter for a number of unpopular bands. She currently lives in the mystical land of Manhattan.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teaches at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.

Daniel Romo is the author of When Kerosene's Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014) and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013). His writing can be found in The Los Angeles Review, Gargoyle, Hobart, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing and is the Head Poetry Editor for Cease, Cows and Co-founder/ Editor at Wherewithal. He lives in Long Beach, CA and at danielromo.net.

Sarah Ghoshal is a writer and professor from New Jersey. Her work has been published in Broad! Magazine, OVS, Shampoo, Adanna and Press 1, among others. Her short memoir, "My Suburbia" is available on Amazon. You can learn more about her at www.sarahghoshal.com.

Sarah Edwards is a writer and/or a poet. She likes to push boundaries of literature and language. She has work published or forthcoming in Electric Cereal, Reality Hands, Purple Pig Lit, Jotters United, Sun Lit, The Sentimentalist, In Parentheses and New Bourgeois. Her mostly neglected tumblr: http://sarahscribbled.tumblr.com/

A well-published critic of the modern/postmodern divide in literature and culture, Marilyn Brownstein retired from teaching in 2006 in order to write poetry and fiction. She has recently completed a debut novel and has a poetry chapbook in circulation.


Christine Brandel is a British-American writer and photographer. In 2013, she published her first collection, Tell This To Girls: The Panic Annie Poems, which the IndieReader described as a "well-crafted, heartbreakingly vivid set of poems, well worth a read by anyone whose heart can bear it." To balance that, she also writes a column on comedy for PopMatters and rants and raves through her character Agatha Whitt-Wellington (Miss) at Everyone Needs An Algonquin. More of her work can be found at clbwrites.com.

Kathie Jacobson lives and writes in Oakland, California. Her work has appeared in Sassafras Literary Magazine, Pithead Chapel, and Necessary Fiction.

Leonard Orr teaches literature and creative writing at Washington State University Vancouver. His poetry has appeared in many journals including Poetry International, Rattle, Black Warrior Review, Poetry East, Rosebud, and Natural Bridge. He has recently published two collections: Why We Have Evening (2010) and Timing Is Everything (2012), both from Cherry Grove/WordTech.

Rhonda Parrish is driven by a desire to do All The Things. She has been the publisher and editor-in-chief of Niteblade Magazine for over five years now (which is like 25 years in internet time) and is the editor of several anthologies including (most recently) Fae and A is for Apocalypse. In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been included or is forthcoming in dozens of publications including Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast, Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (2012) and Mythic Delirium. Her website, updated weekly, is at http://www.rhondaparrish.com.

Jeremiah Walton is founder of Nostrovia! Poetry, an indie press, and Books & Shovels, a traveling pop-up bookstore. He makes video poems and writes at Gatsby's Abandoned Children. New Hampshire is his home town, though he currently nests in a 1989 Ford E-150.


Kalisha Buckhanon was born in Kankakee, Illinois. Her debut novel UPSTATE won an American Library Association Alex Award, was a Hurston-Wright Foundation Debut Fiction finalist, and is published by John Murray in London and Rouergue in Paris. Her novel CONCEPTION won a Friends of American Writers Award. A winner of an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, Kalisha and her work have been featured in Essence, Guardian/London Observer, Michigan Quarterly Review, London Independent on Sunday, Mosaic Literary Magazine, Colorlines, MediaBistro.com, xoJane.com and others. She has an M.F.A in Creative Writing from The New School, and a B.A. and M.A. in English Language and Literature from University of Chicago.

Robert Vivian has published four novels and two books of meditative essays. His works have been published in Alaska Quarterly Review, Creative Nonfiction, Glimmertrain, Georgia Review, Jabberwock, Janus Head, Massachusetts Review, The New York Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, River Teeth, Sycamore Review, Turnrow, and elsewhere.Georgia Review, Jabberwock, Janus Head, Massachusetts Review, The New York Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, River Teeth, Sycamore Review, Turnrow, and elsewhere

Hannah Harlow has an MFA in fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She promotes books for a living and lives near Boston. Find her online at www.hannahharlow.com.

Kayla Pongrac is an avid writer, reader, tea drinker, and vinyl record spinner. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in theNewerYork, Split Lip Magazine, Oblong, The Bohemyth, DUM DUM Zine, and Mixtape Methodology, among others. When she's not writing creatively, she's writing professionally—for two newspapers and a few magazines in her hometown of Johnstown, PA. To read more of Kayla's work, visit www.kaylapongrac.com.

David Olimpio grew up in Texas, but currently lives and writes in Northern New Jersey. He believes that we create ourselves through the stories we tell, and that is what he aims to do every day. Usually, you can find him driving his pick-up around 58

the Garden State with his two dogs. He has been published in The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review, CRATE, Filthy Gorgeous Things, MiPOesias, The Good Men Project, and other places. You can find more about him herehttp://www.davidolimpio.com including links to his writing and photography.

Amy Foster Myer writes, teaches, knits, and drinks beer in Portland, Oregon. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte. Her work has appeared in Sixfold and if forthcoming in Prime Number.

Jhaki M.S. Landgrebe is an accidental teacher by trade and an artist and writer by otherwise. Her birthplace in the Midwest was a conservative start to a life of wander. She’s recently settled down and commutes between Sweden and South Dakota. Her artwork and publications can be found atwww.jhakijhaki.com.

Raymond Gibson graduated from the creative writing MFA program at FAU. His work can be found in the Tiny Truths section of Creative Nonfiction, Pirene's Fountain, Specs, White Stag Journal, Gravel, Moss Trill, and Zigest. His chapbook, Speak, Shade, is out now from Glass Lyre Press.

Kristi Beisecker is an artist who lives and works as a freelance graphic designer in Massachusetts. In her spare time she creates photograms using electricity and orangic materials with analog darkroom processing. She also reads and writes about science and spirituality, composes and performs music and gives spiritual guidance through her psychic ability.





Profile for Hermeneutic Chaos

Hermeneutic Chaos Issue 5  

Hermeneutic Chaos Issue 5  


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