“UTTERANCE” ISSUE #1
HERMENEUTIC CHAOS LITERARY JOURNAL
An online journal that seeks to inform art what it is capable of through poetry and prose. www.hermeneuticchaos.wordpress.com All rights reserved. The authors retain the ownership of their respective works published in this edition. Cover art: ÂŠ George Tooker No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the prior written permission of its author(s).
Dedicated to Gabriel Garcia Marquez (6th March 1927-17th April 2014)
Poesy Two Poems
Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas
Michael Naghten Shanks
Watching My Mother Die
bronzed until the moon
Prose The Offering
Greta Garboâ€™s Wish
Cheryl Diane Kidder
Brian Michael Barbeito
In The Eye of a Lizard
Nearer, My God, To Thee
“I do believe in literature. I believe that there are creatures endowed with the power to put things together and bring them back to life. Make them speak.” -Hélène Cixous
Editorial Note Thank you for choosing to peruse the magazine. I warmly welcome you to Issue #1 of Hermeneutic Chaos. Allow me to begin with a story. Once upon a time last year, while I was working on my debut novel, a humble thud behind me tried to demand my attention. It was a painting, crafted by my friend Amelia Poli, that had fallen on the floor. The painting by nature was unassuming- a white sparrow perched on the shoulders of a knotted chair looking out at the chattering night sky-but it was my favorite one, and had posed itself quietly on a particular dog-eared part of my bedroomâ€&#x;s wall for the last fourteen months. The glass frame had broken into pieces, leaving behind the painting as a spartan vignette. However, it was the first time, I realized, that the painting had actually spoken. Maybe that dull, heavy sound at the cost of self-destruction was the only manner in which it could voice its identity as an independent aesthetic entity rather than a pampered silence. As I went back to my writing desk, I felt that maybe even the words on the page wanted to utter, to communicate, a self of their own, rather than being bidden by the authors to assemble gracefully on a page as physical approbations of their respective ideologies. I fancied some words softly plucking at the whites of the pages to tuck themselves in, some dancing at the edges like ballerinas, some engaging in mischievous banters besides a fireplace, some sitting in a parlour drinking ciders and Socratic discussions-a picturesque pandemonium of sorts. Thus, was born Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal. As a student of literature, I have always desired to be included in the vicinity of excellent poetry and fiction, regardless of their existence as honorary members of the literary and social canon. In fact, I believe that literature murmuring sheepishly inside desk drawers and as simon-pure as those showing the emotions inside their millions of readers their own unnerving complexities and firmly placed, yet vulnerable flutterings. Thus, I decided to establish a literary journal aiming to showcase the literary mindscapes of both established and emerging authors together on the same platform. The objective of the journal was simple-to present writings carrying compelling imagery and powerful words at a venue undiluted by technological arrogance. That is why the journalâ€&#x;s design is minimal, without the presence of any cluttered complexities. There will never be banner advertisements
or „Featured‟ segments on Hermeneutic Chaos. The sole focus would be only on the exceptional literature published in the journal. Language, and not literature, I feel, was the first art form invented by humanity to give chaos a firm and stable demeanor to express itself in a more graceful commotion. It plays an active role in communicating with our subtle and overarching emotions, incidents, and situations, and teaching them how to narrate their existence in the human life. Sadly words today have been reduced to trite figments, the tragic penumbras of what they once used to be. Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal will publish well-crafted prose and poetry which will admire the wonder that is the word. In the present issue, the words will not only themselves utter the stories and emotions they carry, but also, like the chivalrous knights of King Arthur, indulge with each other in a linguistic freedom that defies their own structural constraints. The poems and fictions published here adroitly exemplify the hallmark of a stunning piece of literature, where both the language and the writer sit down together to construct an aesthetic sculpture whose every contour will invite the author and the reader to curl themselves inside it and experience the enchanting music produced when words rub against each other. Apart from the poetry and fiction, I request you to go through the section „Symposium‟ as well. Literature is primarily an interactive art with writers and readers both participating in the process of writing and rewriting the texts. „Symposium‟ is an attempt to bring all the contributors of an issue together to engage in a discussion on a particular idea related to literature and writing. In this issue, the authors attempt to answer an interesting conundrum. Lastly, I would like to thank all the contributors and the readers without whom the journal would never have been possible. I began this journal with no fanfare, and that too using a free Wordpress domain, and thus, was pleasantly surprised to see the overwhelming response it received. It truly humbles me. Thank you all for placing your trust in Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal. It is a wonderful feeling to gain so much support in such a short amount of time. No wonder this issue has over 100 pages of delightful prose and poetry. We honestly never expected the issue to gain so many beautiful lexical landscapes.
One final thing before I make my departure. I want you to note that though this issue has been organized in a traditional magazine format, you would notice that it may appear to be slightly erratic at some places. It does not represent a technical naivety and clumsiness in the least. The reason is to just break the rules of aesthetic planning, and introduce a chaos, in everything, for once, and appreciate the beauty and the surprise of the unorganized.
See you again in June!
Warm Regards, Shinjini Bhattacharjee Editor-in-Chief Hermeneutic Chaos
Anniversary of the Plague Year 1. Fallen planes with swastikas on their tails dot the countryside. It must be Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. You take one pill for your head and two more for your heart, but can still choke on a sip of water. The dying are all forced to share the same rectangular view. There‘s something moving out there, something walking in the woods, a serial killer with a pleasant demeanor and no place to make a left turn. I roll up my sleeve to show you tattoos of black parental mysteries, mother as pitchfork. They begin to breathe and glitter.
2. An introspective man in blue came in the other day looking for the 9th wonder. I didn‘t get his name, only noticed his shaved head, never realizing that wind waves don‘t move as fast as speeding cannon balls. Someone will probably write a thesis on it – what, in literary circles, we call intertexuality, snippets of code gleaming and then going away in the darkness. All I see now, though, is a flock of gaunt, exhausted angels below the window, the starvation they endured for the sake of luminosity and because of which they seem to stagger just before their plumage fades.
3. First came disasters of our own making, and then came the carcasses of junk cars silhouetted against lacerated skies. Everyone asked about the meaning of the words ―spectacle‖ and ―witness,‖ even though a video of burning water posted to YouTube on Thursday had been viewed over 50,000 times by Friday night. And more important still were the contagious mice that a decade ago today left in tears for a damp and verdant city.
Infernal Machine Because I am in the country I am in, you attempt a journey. A mirror unrolls from the sky. As its white petals open, you can see, fitfully and by instants, its bold red insides, a pageant of martyrdom. Now you come to certain, shall I say, ―empty places,‖ where they think of suicide with affection. It‘s good the children are asleep, my wings flapping, your dress like an ink blot. When the squirrels die, more replace them. Friends of friends pass back and forth. Gravity begins behaving funny. There‘s a fire made of people.
Seed text: Sandy McIntosh, Which Way to the Egress? (Garfield Publishers, 1974)
Carol lynn Stevenson grellas
Her Bedroom By day she is an unborn sorrow, a napping flying fish, a child's wish; not yet the tear from a moonlit face veiled by notions of hope. Come evening her window breathes in and out like a shuttling device of woven prayers, her Hail Mary mantra of grace. She waits for the mending motion, invisible stairs, the winged journey through Midnightâ€˜s daunting call. The hours of lost ghosts and boneless corpses, emotional soldiers wicking through a candleâ€˜s flame. She is the nightjar in a bracken bed searching for creatures
trapped in flight. A torpor soul, lover
of moths swallowing light to make things
right because everyone knows thereâ€˜s one more death come morning.
Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas
Wild Thing Forgive me for ignoring the barking dog lost in darkness begging his meal of scraps
and bones, making his way through garbage in a dimness only known
to those whoâ€˜ve lived beneath a moon of loneliness. A moon that shines
its coppery beam as bright as pennies inside the loafers I once paraded in fourth
grade. A moon so keen
its sliver of gold
carves through clouds
like an electric searchlight with a taunting beam thatâ€˜s flashed my name.
I am a drifter, semiunconscious, imagining hope from an unseen source.
Dog, I am sorry you have gone hungry. I have been a glutinous fool.
Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas
Alright Perhaps she saw the starling lose her will to live, hearing cries of sister birds like vespers through the heavens then watched it descend from trees, full of heaviness all prayers unanswered looping backwards, unheard.
When a girl sees a death like that the weeping is catastrophic. Come sundown she was burying tiny feathers folded against the other like origami paper across the breast of one sheâ€˜d confessed every childhood dream.
Some say she kept its bitty heart, cut it out and placed it deep inside a velvet box
then sewed within the ruffles of a petticoat.
There it stayed until the day she died her body exhausted from too much ache, her little hands clenched tight around a cluster of broken wings
1. Greater space between sentences: blue parakeet.
I set down
the open mouth. I set down â€“ split peach.
We went bare-skinned to the shore.
Is this the place of good yesterday? I wanted the eating sky, the sand, the somersault of everywhere. I wanted the fruit you ferment behind the knee.
Rough happening, I set down.
2. When winter ends
becomes a very long sentence. I suture the rip in your ear. In the letter
from your grandmother even love is the apology.
Itâ€˜s amazing â€“ I amaze,
the monstrous responsibility one woman can claim. I, too, claim monsters: jar of missed buttons, horse skull, callus, coming frequent out of love. Whatever might go into the ground
and refuse to come out of the ground,
I mean, what disappoints.
3. We went to the shore. Difficult to know what was the ice and what was the paused, looking wave. Ice, after all, the bloodied cocoon. I put words in you: I do, after all,
paused. looking. wave. yellow
wave of shared mothers, I want want want want. Went.
4. Even nature is wrongly gendered.
We are many events.
by way of the mouth.
To reposition the bee, one must One must
submit to being singled.
shred white parakeet,
clutter good room with its guts.
5. Sound of thousand blackbirds eating fog: I, too, create corpses. I go
depressed as the barking dog; your grandmotherâ€˜s letter;
not being loved.
A full, damned winter.
How it popped your waiting rib,
gave you room to stomach my slight voice.
from Fabric Canvas Feelings can be broken when layered paint cracks—
white noise calcified to the tune of poise and pleasure—Socialism
perched on a paint brush; an election on canvas.
I snack on written woes; electronic black mail slips
through automated slots—a grant to an artist who sells reclusivism
to hermits in dusty boxes.
I cut one open at breakfast,
patterns of hope discoloured with yoke. And tears.
I purchased my own work. Hung it on my wall.
Sometimes I like to touch it with my eyes closed.
Breaking The Curse My words create shawls— they cloak the crazies on empty nights
So I pick up a pencil and press it to my palm— rendering my thoughts clichéd. But being welcomed back will never really be clichéd as long as my return to the village is kept to
I sense the weight now of Euterpe
gnidnib ym no gnitirw;
pins and needles at a party unwrapping my fingertips like a Kolossus.
I suppose this would be a nice place to
But the six-month-old curse needs pushing from my pitiless tongue. Iâ€˜ll spit air into streaks of lead.
The Visit Been a long time coming home and itâ€˜s all so unfamiliar though mostly unchanged like the heavy gray of these sleepy eyed longings that hang like an old photograph over a lost city haunted by the seasons of its own skin fading as my reflection goes dark and memories stir like shadows of secrets that speaking through whispered tears and lingering through the long nights of mourning
carry me still
like a silence, remnants of a forgotten dream waking the unwelcome stranger
His Eyes â€Śâ€Śfrom a reoccurring dream
I still see you some nights, hiding in the corners of some tortured sleep with the most haunted, haunting eyes
peering like two large, ghostly white moons through the rotting skull of this darkness lingering like the grief of these long hours lost to silences louder than any words too late to be spoken and still
I see you watching with curious
watching me from the inside of places in which there are no ways out of and I know
that you are more than some random dream and
nothing less than a conflicted memory I carry with me,
a death I cannot commit to dust for you refuse to stay buried and still you are
watching, always watching; dying in my sleep then waiting to greet me as I wake, chilled by more than this bitter winter wind
forever seized, imprisoned somewhere behind those eye never blinking to release meâ€Śâ€Ś
The Nest I want to burn the nest break branches from the tree and dig out the eyes of the vultures standing by watching
Their hungry mouths feeding on the dead that has been planted here by the spilling of their dirty seed
And I long to carve out their tongues, silence the whispers the reminder that I was not meant for mothering a life beyond the darkness......
Middle Age, Marriage and the Empty Nest So close, too close in the distances we keep to truly know our own hidden truths lost in the absences of and within us as we hide from each other these secrets that only strangers seem to know whispering in the shadows, stalking like scavengers feeding on scraps, dining on the hunger we leave at a full table and it‘s true someone should have left long ago still we stay, no longer for the children who have left us alone in this empty nest of silence to ponder the ―why‖ when all we can think of is leaving
and maybe it is only for appearance sake now though we know somewhere in our denial
the reality of our transparency or perhaps it is the fear that we‘re just too damn old to start over, that maybe no one really wants these two old crows wrinkled beyond the wear of their worth spent on a happiness that in a lifetime, could never be bought, borrowed, stolen or found in the all the wrong places we kept looking until it was too late to see……
I am Fossil Emaciated form buried beneath rudimentary layers of accumulated dust. I am waiting for scholarly fingers to recover me, handle me with appropriate care. I believe only the most patient of minds could possibly be capable of putting me back together again.
Some Days I Have to Squeeze my muse, like an arid sponge, in desperate attempt to scavenge last drop of dusty inspiration. My mind, already a desert, quivers as shimmering specks of potential flutter, minuscule oases, glittering in desperationâ€˜s light. I swallow these mites as if they were meals, banquets of prosaic prose to fill and fuel me. I choke on their barren bones, regurgitate them as blocks. My fingers fumble like a childâ€˜s to piece together words and phrases worthy of the label art.
With Windmills waiting in the back of my mind, I am vascillating between weapons. Selection is complicated as construction changes with metaphorical intentions. A whip of laughter refuels my preparation to charge. I swipe my card, margaritas land. Legendary leveling power washes the bladed rubble along my tongue in time to echoes of resounding crystal-tinked applaudatory Cheers!
Appointment Wool of a new lamb curls in waves over innocence her delicate veins pulse faintly beneath pale skin.
As I watch, a white-gold curl springs free from her faded denim headband. The silky strand is pushed back from hazel eyes with slender fingers tipped in dainty scarlet claws.
Her name is called. She rakes a child-like hand through the wild-curling mane preparing to be shorn.
Michael Naghten Shanks
Games I want to watch you / play â€—belly grapesâ€˜ or watch you as / you / teach me how to play
let it roll out from your mouth down the centre of your chest along your stomach into your belly button
Michael Naghten Shanks
“Sidewalk” I imagine giant prehistoric crabs performing the dance from the michael jackson ‗thriller‘ video not all the time but once I did I said it to you & you thought it was funny so I wrote it down because this was before I had a twitter account & so you had to tell me things instead of favoriting or retweeting now it‘s this a poem life is funny funny ha ha I mean
Michael Naghten Shanks
Mirrors we are mirrors we look at each other
to see ourselves we want to be reflected
no, absorbed we want our place in the world
to be shown to us but we get lost
in the labyrinth of ourselves
Michael Naghten Shanks
you use ice cubes to set me on fire you use ice cubes to set me on fire this is your power
you challenge the meaning of words you change how the world works
there are no rules with pure desire
you drown me in ropes I promise not to burn out if you promise not to melt
Michael Naghten Shanks
Inflamer your escape is triumphant / false you burn / leave no ashes
a fake happiness unlike anything else imagining soft skin prickled by ice cubes
cherry-picked memories molded / anew you / sabotage yourself to keep control
here we come in the backseat of a car ready to crash / the course of three lives / change
The Bedside Book of Bending Down We will remain ambivalent about animals and animal control.
We will shield our eyes.
We will choose between secret and sacred passwords.
We will fondle the dirt in the garden,
wash our hands and pile salami onto a slice of bread.
We will listen as the Violent Femmes scream for their runaway train to let them off.
We must figure out how to ask.
Something that fast.
And then it hits the wall.
We are listening. We have been listening all along
to their harried song, their hair-brained scheme to escape from it.
We donâ€˜t want to live this way. We will straighten up and fly right into the wild blue
Pix Theatre I might get a peek at that other
where Theda Baraâ€˜s eyes are the only
Imagine the Promised Aquaria Imagine the dismantled ship preserving a shimmering green.
Imagine the brand new dry rot.
Imagine the dampened hair, the bodily drippings.
Imagine a rare and fringe and fragmented sister emotion to love
bullying a rarified and fringed
and frogman-friendly sister emotion to fear.
I wanted so much
more and tore at consciousness with something resembling English.
I made stuff up.
Imagine a lonely man talking To himself.
Imagine the Sea-Monkeys.
The bubble ceases to be once it finds its way back to the atmosphere.
Imagine designer brine shrimp sticking it to the unbranded.
Watching my Mother Die My mother lay, moonlight at her feet. Starched, white sheets enshrouding her, brutal wires and pulsing tubes limning her body like an Old World map. I focused on just the corner of her mouth, rolling an imaginary telescope tight so her mouth (sweet kisses, murmured songs) could not be imputed to her face. The corner of her mouth then became like a raindrop on a windowpane, slowly responding to gravity (grace), changing shape, becoming and unbecoming, as it drew close to the force that pulled it to itself. At one point my mother blew gently out of her mouth, a final sorrow. And it was like when one raindrop meets another on its descent down the glass. It embraced the breath shape and veered gracefully in another direction. My mother sighed, lay face up,
the corner of her mouth flattened and smoothed like the raindrop when it puddles on the sill and then runs along the line of the pane â€“ Dissipating to nothingness. Like my mother, moonlight at her feet.
Revenge A gun pointed at my head " Guilty or not?" she asks Seven steps back, A deadly rifle in my hands.
In your dreams, you witch! An aim at her forehead, A thin river of blood She drops like a statue Frozen and immobile And then disappears from my consciousness .
" See you tomorrow" she quips Miss you much "Maybe tomorrow I'll win" In your dreams, witch!
A tinkling laughter A flickering screen GAME WON
trio sonata in A Minor it occurs to her boyfriend is he cute or what her lover has a fine set of pipes to play upon how engineer it with a cunning stratagem he works the girl right out of the picture anyhow and strums the connoisseurâ€˜s banjo who admiring this as any nightmare cancels his subscription
the game is up what semaphore flags is waving round the ole tepee tonight or whenever comes about the motor launch with the gravy boat captain in it and his lovely figurehead breasting the waves?
fortunate fables the bear in the cave sang cock-a-doodle-doo in the winter morning sunlight had to be winter because of the cave had to be sunlight because of the morning which had to be because of the crowing
Tricks of Light Some people are the shatters figments attempting to be more they are only tricks of light sleight of hand, the image of bad dream visitors at 2 AM with no real weight or volume false adders, faux rattles all sound, no potency, no taste the canary is in the cage, sitting lonely he would sing it there was poison in the vibrating cloud, for all the blowing no real wound can find residence.
This Poem Will Not First, this poem will not rhyme
I will resist the urge to work in
the word ―time‖ as this line ends –
that is the evil teeming inside me
Additionally, this poem will not capture
a random image from my childhood
connecting it to a person you have never
met or experienced in Southern accent
For instance: Stuffed bobcats, bears,
Native American statues, encyclopedias,
felled trees, plastic Greek gods
This poem will resist images of lilac
and lepidopterology, also avoiding cicadas
rainfall and light â€“ Nabokov and Neruda
(Along with armies of other poets)
have these markets cornered, anyway
this poem used to think readers
did not want love poems, but it seems
there is still room for love, as long as
the view is embryonic and unveiling
there is also room for anger, strange
images, my awkward sense of humor
against these, I cannot offer guarantee.
1 In time, honey-thick, I am self-rendered and resolute, and thus you find me, as I once found Catullus. I scan the moon, fix upon red Mars, and, like you, partake of all things; my Self, abraded by the pumice and quern stone of a fixed and indifferent cosmology. Accordingly, Iâ€˜ve composed these new verses, and unto whom shall I offer them, if not to you, Corneli, your dust returned, reborn; pray, may these too, outlast the generations.
V I am resigned to the dust. I will continue to gather it. I will be gathered.
Corner House At angles with her neighbors and family, none come now to shovel her snow, and days
after the storm, not a footprint to her door.
bronzed until the moon shall i count to thirty while the silver burns my soul? never leave the sword in the stone keep your bitter crown of gold the eagles may gather at last but no bell will ring in time ah, to die young and leave a good looking corpse but too late for that and so onward treading over the trails boot heels bloodied by those in the way fill the page fill the chest empty the weary heart iâ€˜ll opt for the higher ground where iâ€˜m taller than the few
and placid as the lake and bronzed until the moon
Reconciliation Back into seclusion of cold defiance, it was cast. Like the rod of Noah, striking a chord with the powers that be. Pharaohs of the desert storming in brutal winds, on the death mask, of cold white belly. The sidewinder took upon the metamorphosis betrothed. Dashed upon the stones of carnage! Carved into the dust! Down through out the ages, plummeting farther from the gracious embrace of God. Chiseled abruptly into the bleeding oceans, parted and sealed over,
awaiting some sort of reconciliation, in apocalyptic musings.
The Offering Hurricane season was upon the island. Palm trees bent like wailing women as wooden canoes fell into each other with hollow knocks that punctuated a rugged sea. Under their shivering thatched roofs, the villagers piled fruit, meat and grain for the stone altar. Their stores were far from abundant, but their offerings were as great as their fear. The island had smatterings of practised shamans, but when the sky moaned with high winds, the villagers looked to Nalani. We are lucky, the elders murmured, to have one who can interpret the weatherâ€˜s many spirits. It was they who first recognised her power, a calm-eyed child who drew rainclouds out of the blistering azure to pour over crops. As Nalani aged, she became a gifted teacher. She shared her knowledge with children who demonstrated an affinity with the elements. Having none of her own, she relished the small, sensitive brood that grew around her. She watched her young pupils coax dying trees into fruit bearers, calm spitting waves so men could fish, and invoke springs that had long dried out. She was a powerful healer who gave the village peace to sleep with the knowledge that her skilful tribe would one day face the hurricane, an unrelenting spirit who truly reined their island. As the storm brewed, Nalani lay in her shack writhing with sickness. Young wives with children begged her to come to their aid. Even the elders invoked prayers outside her door. She could not hear them. In throes of fever, rich colours of the vibrant island drained to grey outside her window. Between slumber and wakefulness, her body suddenly ceased shaking. The hurricane had arrived.
Its winds raged with the speed of a thousand soulless birds and a cavernous void of a voice louder than the panicked ocean. A damp, stifling atmosphere curdled in her lungs. As she lifted her heavy head, the grass roof tore from the hut. Above, the hurricane‘s unblinking eye looked down. It groaned a smothering sigh. Nalani‘s power was strong, even in her weakened state. She silenced heavy beaded torrents of rain and dulled flashes of broken lightning. The hurricane had been raging for days and was losing vigour. Its full force dwindled, but summoned strength to hurl down on Nalani. Pressed against her bed she stared deep into the storm‘s eye. Each spirit was taken aback by the chaos and calm coursing in its foe. The hurricane hung in a balance, surging and falling in a charged stalemate. The hurricane yielded first. Exhausted by Nalani‘s immovable strength its eye closed, leaving her to crumple in exhaustion. It had found an equal. The hurricane lifted her in a wisped cradle over dark clouds into a night sky pinpricked with stars. A blood orange sun hung over the morning horizon. A few villagers tentatively stepped towards their neighbours‘ huts. The elders crowed near their stone altar; the gifts had been swept away. There was no answer at Nalani‘s. Her hut was empty, save for a damp puddle and soaked ruffled sheets. The hurricane never visited the island again.
Greta Garboâ€™s Wish Do you believe we can save this world?" she says, smoking a long cigarette, the brand--Baroness Hilga. Greta Garbo is sitting across from me in the grubby West Berlin apartment some twenty kilometers from The Wall. I had recently snatched her from the custody of several high-ranking East German operatives. I left two of them sitting on the floor of a country house, their mouths sealed by duct tape, their bodies writhing, their voices mewling. Pain is a universal language.
At times, her face twitches, When I ask if she's in pain, she blames it on a bad tooth. I do not believe her.
At times, I myself get bad headaches from having spent so much time being tortured in soundproof rooms without glass. Right now, my eyes feel so heavy. I could step out of myself and fall away.
My codename is Perfect Day, the same name as her famous perfume once advertised on French TV. In Munich, I had run several special dispatch units, successful, more or less. Greta Garbo had been working for us while sleeping with the sharks from Leningrad and Moscow. She is carrying a microfilm containing the locations of five underground detainment camps and a list of
names. Some of the names match those missing from the Belsen and Auschwitz camps another war ago.
I ask her how does she stay so young-looking despite the world's atrocities.
She places her cigarette hand on the nicked dining room table. "My sunglasses," she says, "they protect me from all kinds of dangerous light. I'm told transcendental meditation works as well." She hands over the microfilm and begins to weep.
Under a high-powered lens, I see her sister's name is on the microfilm. She asks me again, "Do you think we'll ever save the world?"
I turn toward her. One half of her face has a dirty yellow cast under the light. "I don't know," I say.
She tilts her head, forms a slow smile that travels back one-half the way.
"My sister is dead. I found out one night from an ex-KGB agent who claimed he loved me. You know, my sister and I were inseparable as children. We loved to go to the pond and feed the ducks. We'd look out for the other. I do not wish to be saved. Please end this now. Or else, I will hand myself to the East Germans and you will feel so terribly guilty."
She saunters to the bathroom, about the size of a closet, to get washed. I instruct her to leave the door ajar.
"So many peeping toms among spies, "she says with a chortle.
It turns out the door can't be locked.
And due to faulty electronics, missing sine wave signals, I'm having trouble transmitting messages to London.
We sleep in the same room, different beds. One part of me sleepwalks and it must be that same part that picks up the automatic and shoots her. The other part of me will never wake up. I hear rain beginning to patter on the cobblestone streets. "I'm sorry I couldn't save you," is what I whisper into her bleeding ear. Outside the apartment, I hear her laughing. It is her head that is laughing, the rest of her is dead. Or perhaps it is her head now inside mine.
Cheryl Dianne Kidder
Survivor ―I know this song,‖ Lily announced as her mom pulled out of the driveway at 8a.m., already late for her first day of 4th grade. ―Oh, really? How do you know this song?‖ Maggie asked her daughter, laughing, not believing that after memorizing N‘Sync‘s and the Backstreet Boys' repertoire, she had now moved on to 80‘s tunes. ―Oh, KRQ plays this all the time. I like this one, Eye of The Tiger.‖ Lily hummed along to the radio and threw words in hit and miss, more miss than hit. Maggie was impressed but not surprised. Lily had shown a talent for quick memorization. Then she remembered Eye of The Tiger, summer of ‗82. She pulled her new Altima out into traffic and made the first light easily outdistancing several blue hairs in the process. Lily would probably never know the pictures that Maggie had to force out of her head as the song played: the drinking, the long drive home in a stranger's van, the knife. ―Today we have a math test,‖ Lily said, only five minutes from the playground. ―Can you quiz me on my 5‘s, 6‘s and 7‘s?‖
―Sure, sweetie.‖ Maggie turned down the music and breathed a little easier, back to the present. ―So, what‘s five times six?‖ She smiled over at Lily who rolled her eyes. ―Mom, that‘s too easy, give me some hard ones.‖ They practiced the hard ones all the way into school.
Brian Michael Barbeito
Turnpike My name is Jacob Ellis. I am going convey to you what I have seen. To begin with, there was the truck that I saw that was in dire straits. It is on its side. It has come to its end. The entire roadway stops then... I am in the back of a Buick. Ten cars behind. The windows rolled down. Flames make sounds. Talking. Trenchant is their conversation. Fire is not supposed to be in the world. But it is. A tragedy has occurred, is occurring. But the sound. The sound is wonderful, a spark of difference in the world. The flames roll like mad waves, seemingly backwards upon themselves. There is no more room to go in yet they go inwards, against odds. The man is in the truck. He lived in the truck. It is a cab, and has the attenuating place in the back with a small bed. There was more room in there than you think. Men make their lives there. Nomadic. Mendicant like. Singular. That is where he had his things. A trucker's things. Hats. A whistle someone gave to him. A half carton of smokes. Folded work shirts. A canister of rolled money inside an elastic band. A second pair of steel toed boots. Letters. Coins. A mini dresser drawer set. Flames. He is dead. He died five minutes before. The smoke makes black vexatious rings above the cab. This, all under a bridge. The bridge is being stained. Holy shit, someone in the car says. The highway is on or near the 83rd meridian. Southerly. I donâ€˜t feel sunken. I feel I am the flames, mixed up with them, then them, and then the me I know myself as, and then the flames again. This is not right, I think then. There is a small green summit. The emergency services come rallying down it from above and to the right. Nobody goes near the truck or the eighteen wheel rectangle that is behind. We are being directed off. We have to drive over verdant patches of grasses that live near exits. We can't take the regular route. I squint back to see sights. Fire is growing, reaching up, a competent boxer hitting parts of the bridge, staining it, bragging its moxy. The blue sky is sullied now. Cumulus become coy, move away. The sound goes off. I hear no voices. I can't hear the flame any longer. I turn forward and away from it. The real world ahead looks flaxen but its prosaic contours ground me. We will try and drive into normality and re-route, re-configure. We fool ourselves into thinking we are not itinerants but we all are in the end, alone and travelling. The fire is there still. It means something without me ascribing a meaning to it. I don't know what the meaning is, only that there is one. I have no proofs or case log to present. No sagacious secret or words but I know it is so.
In the Eye of a Lizard For my tenth birthday, I got a BB gun. That same weekend I was stalking the countryside looking for things to shoot when I spotted a fence lizard sunning himself on a granite boulder. I aimed and shot, and then watched the lizard tumble down the face of a boulder into the dry summer grass. The copper-coated BB had struck his chest, damaging the shoulder joint of his front leg, and somehow traveled between his skin and body to come to rest near the base of his spine. Underneath the lizardâ€˜s dark elastic skin the BB created a bulbous protrusion. After I captured the lizard and had him in my hand, my triumphant pleasure suddenly abandoned me, replaced by a feeling of guilt; yet it was more than guilt, it was a feeling of irreversible tragedy. For I understood that I had fatally damaged the small creature and there was no way to undo what I had done. Immediate death would have been better. As it was, death would come slowly from starvation or infection. The lizardâ€˜s eyes were very small, with amber-colored irises and pinpoint pupils, and it seemed he was looking back at me. Looking closely into his eyes I expected to see hatred because it would have been right for the lizard to hate me because I had shot him out of unsympathetic destructiveness. He was without blame and I wanted him to hate me because I deserved his hatred and perhaps it would have helped justify my crime. Iâ€˜d damaged him beyond repair, and yet I thought I saw forgiveness in his eyes. My throat tightened and I broke into tears and the tears led to sobbing. If only I could have turned the lizard loose and convinced myself that he would somehow magically recover. But I knew that was impossible and to save him from suffering I had to take my crime another step deeper. I held the lizard close to my face and said I was sorry. Then I begged God to undo my crime but nothing happened. My ten-year-old mind could not reconcile that God had allowed the sacrifice of the lizard as fodder for my cruelty and my violence. I set the lizard on the ground and cocked the BB gun. He tried to run but the dry grass entangled his useless front leg. I noticed drops of bright red blood in the palm of my hand. It shocked me. The blood looked just like my own blood and I frantically rubbed my hand on my
blue jeans. But I knew what I had to do and so I positioned the barrel above the lizard‘s head. He canted his head slightly and looked up at me. I pulled the trigger. And that night I cried myself to sleep.
Thirty-three years later, I told this story to my Zen Master. He looked at me with knowing eyes and said, ―When you reach the mountaintop, keep climbing.‖
Dance it Down Igor is one of the beautiful people. Even his deep thoughts rainbow, his eyes interpret miracles in the everyday. Let's put Igor on this pedestal. Esdaile smells of garlic, the creases in her hands, her parchment lips. She is a vampire huntress, a woman with passionate need to true the sublime. She belongs on the chessboard. Black, I think. Let her move herself to white. The cat? Drop it, shoo it, boy/girl. We cannot have it here. Allergy. Dolphin friendly tuna costs too much. The claws. The rest of these are Greek. They do not speak English, and therefore do not matter. Leave them on the pile. "Get ready to rrrrrrrrruuuuuummmmmmba!" Pedal boy/girl. The scene demands your energy; mine was spent. Twitch. Igor drops onto the apron. He lifts his butt and twerks. Oh, how clever! Faster, boy/girl, animate them both. Esdaile slides, electric-wise. Her hips gyrate. Cha-cha-cha, black to white to white to white, she diagonals toward the fringe. Igor turns, his face a rock, a potato. Esdaile eyes the crevices. A tongue-point licks. Keep pedaling, boy/girl, electrify it all. We are not robots living forward, but mannequins rotated in reverse. Our torsos chime with heart, our eyes are paint and shadow. Fingers extend. Sparks. Oh, this could get interesting. This could sex. Conception. Creation dance. Close your eyes boy/girl. You are too young.
Esdaile kneads Igor's hunch. His mouth opens, a crooning sound. She is perfect to him, he is perfect to her, the pinnacle of human existence here on the fringe of the chessboard, here in the light of our dreams. Pedal faster, faster, faster... They're both twerking now, jerking now, blood splatter, pop-pop-pop. Damn, boy/girl, we forgot the Greeks. They've formed ranks along the sideways, a shooting squad. Stop the bike, cease the flood. Too late. Igor's down. Esdaile collapses onto him, dress a tattered umbrella. White squares black with blood. Black remains the same. Those filthy Greeks. They had their myths, why can't they leave us ours? Iâ€˜m sorry boy/girl. I forgot the rule. Language is no barrier. I should have known. We should have penned them or peppered them or pulled apart their skin. I was impatient. Even beautiful people break, boy-girl. Close your eyes, your ears, your mouth. Pretend this never was. Un-experience if you can. I know you can't. Oh, boy/girl, I'm sorry. It was a game, Romeo and Juliette twisted. I was being clever. I didn't mean to abuse your light.
In Life In life I built a bridge. It was a straggly thing cobbled from slats and rope and posts too small to support it for long. But I designed it, I built it, I made it my own, and this is something to take pride in, even here. In life I killed a dog. I was drunk and driving, and when it looked up from the nighttime asphalt its eyes became glowing holes. I heard a bump as the car passed over its body, the carcass the car created, the car I guided in my drunkenness. In life I loved three women. One was a magnet. I gave her roses. One was a soothing presence. I gave her time. The third was you. I gave you what I could. Even here, there is no going back. In life I suffered a dwindling. Passion became need became want became urge became nothing much at all. I wondered what it might be like to live without form, without deadlines and schedules. A musing I guess you would call it. In life I closed my eyes and never opened them. It was a relief, the end of nagging absence. Then I heard your shriek and grief broke me open like a walnut. I felt so guilty in that moment. I should have shared with you the glory and the ghastly extent of my life, all of it, not just the parts you knew. If only I had understood. Do you recall the night in Toronto when we looked out over that spired downtown, and your hand crept into mine and my hip pressed into yours, and our eyes held? Can you feel that moment now, like a bridge between what is real and what is necessary? I hope so. Do you remember the sunrise? Wasn't it glorious?
Nearer, My God, To Thee Calluses form on the fingertips after three weeks of practice. "Keep them calm." The ship's Steward braces against the nervous press of furs and tuxedos. "Play." And so we huddle together, bundled in our woolen coats, our hard-shelled fingers guided by innate memory to precise placement and timing, seeking solace as we draw our bows across the strings. Wallace conducts as though the floor doesn't list, as though we cannot feel the bite of the bitter wind against our cheeks. Only a second violinist, I'm considered inferior to the first, relegated to harmony and counter-melody. Georges, the principal violinist, feels he should have the finer instrument and has even suggested in the past that we trade. But Violet--my private name for my lovely violin--belongs to me, a gift from an admiring dowager years ago. I will not part from her, even on this dark night. Our repertoire is broad: waltzes, serenades, operatic excerpts, familiar hymns, and even that newest sensation, ragtime. We segue from one to the next without speaking, communicating via the briefest of nods by Wallace. Georges and I perform as one instrument; when he falters too long during a rubato, I nudge him back to tempo. When his pitch turns sharp from the cold, I slide my notes up to blend with his. John, the viola player, cannot see for his tears and often loses his place. Roger, a taciturn Frenchman, focuses his gaze on his cello's fingerboard while he keeps the beat. Through it all, as passengers dressed in evening wear duck into the salon for hot toddies, we remain steady, steady, our music offering hope. And Wallace smiles. Violet nestles under my chin like a lover's kiss. Her varnished wood warms my face. I cling to the gift that warbles from our embrace, remembering our hours of practice alone in the studio, the trials of mastering a difficult passage, her easy response to my awkward attempts to bring forth beauty. I am but a blink in time, and Violet, created by the brilliant luthier Vuillaume over a century ago, deserves to live on.
We play "Blue Danube" as the remaining lifeboats descend, followed by the slow waltz, "Songe d'Automne." Wallace says softly, "Number 142," and we lurch into "Nearer, My God, to Thee," British version first, then the American. Wallace brings his baton down for the final stroke. "Gentlemen, we have finished our service here. God be with you." The ship heaves a death clatter while Roger drags his cello upslope to dry shelter. Shifting my weight for balance, I drape Violet in a linen tea towel and place her gently in her case. Then I bind her, case and all, to my body with my lifejacket straps. Black letters on white identify our passage: RMS Titanic. The ship rolls. We fall together, and as the dark water envelops, Violet, now a siren of the deep, sings her sweet song: Bach, Unaccompanied.
The Messenger Inspired by an actual event, dream and eventsâ€Śâ€Ś
The last time it visited me was right before my father passed away. It approached me in my sleep though I'd swear I was more awake than dreaming. This shapeless, shadowy dark winged creature held me with a suffocating grip and I struggled to wake, breathe or escape as the blankets and the sheets became limbs reluctant to let me go. I was trapped as it sunk its large, razor sharp teeth or maybe they were claws, deep into the flesh of my back. And as it squeezed with the weight of its heavy, foul smelling wings I felt as if it was trying to move through me. It had a message I'm sure of it though it never spoke but out of its mouth came the most heinous high pitched squeal; a sound not of this world that echoed like the haunting cries of a dark lullaby through the longest of nights. Finally, after what felt like an eternity in its terrifying embrace I was able to free myself, jolting straight up in the bed. I was alone now in the darkness but felt the presence still and the sting on my back and that my rib cage was crushed or deeply bruised. I had no visible marks only the lingering sensation and the overwhelming chill of a warning, a dark premonition and I could feel, smell the urgency of death lingering in the haunting night air. The next night I dreamt of my father and on the night before the day I told myself I would call him I got a call from my brother instead, telling me that our father was in the hospital dying. I would never hear my father's voice in person or on the phone again.
That was six years ago this coming May and I never had that "dream" or "visit" again until a
few mornings ago when I found myself jolted awake in my bed with the return of those same feelings as before. Since then I have been trying to call everyone I can that I haven't talked to in awhile, those I have dreamed of recently; finding myself fearful when they don't answer, afraid, each time my phone rings, afraid of the message the voice might leave, terrified of the messengerâ€˜s return. Maybe, it comes this time for me.
Howie Good's latest book of poetry collection is The Complete Absence of Twilight (2014) from MadHat Press. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely, who does most of the real work. Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is a six-time Pushcart nominee, Best of the Net nominee and the 2012 winner of the Red Ochre Press Chapbook contest. She has authored several collections of poetry including her latest collected works, Hasty Notes in No Particular Order. Her poems have appeared in a wide variety of online and print magazines including: The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, War, Literature and the Arts; The Department of English at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Able Muse, Poets and Artists, and many more. According to family lore she is a direct descendent of Robert Louis Stevenson. To know more about her and her works, visit www.clgrellaspoetry.com. Kat Dixon is the author of two full-length poetry collections and the novella HERE/OTHER (Artistically Declined Press 2014). She lives online at www.isthiskatdixon.com. Jessica Bell, a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/ guitarist, is the Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the director of the Homeric Writers‟ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning. To know more about her and her works, visit www.jessicabellauthor.com. Poet, creator, editor and author of 4 collections of poetry, “The Lost Lullaby,” “Speak,” “In The Shadow Of A Heartbeat, Letters To Your Ghost,” and most recently, “If The Night Had Wings,” Debbie Berk is the founder of The Stray Branch, a print literary publication with an on-line presence publishing poetry, fiction, art and photography. Her works have also appeared in The Catharsis; Edgar Digested Verse; CP Journal, The Poet's Haven and several other literary journals. When not writing, she lives and dreams within the shadows and the noise of her own mind; longing for a quiet space away from the chaotic sounds of life and the world outside her illusions so that she can hear their voices more clearly. You may read more of her works at www.debbieberk.com.
A.J. Huffman has published seven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her eighth solo chapbook, Drippings from a Painted Mind, won the 2013 Two Wolves Chapbook Contest. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her poetry, fiction, haiku, and photography have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, Kritya, Offerta Speciale, in which her work appeared in both English and Italian translation, and Chrysanthemum, in which her work appeard in both English and German translation. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. www.kindofahurricanepress.com Ginna Wilkerson completed a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at University of Aberdeen in 2013, which happily coincided with the publication of her first poetry collection, Odd Remains. She was also pleased to receive a 2012 Poetry Kit Award for my poem „Dimensions‟. She currently teaches writing at Ringling College of Art and Design. Michael Naghten Shanks (b. 1987) is a writer/poet from Dublin, Ireland. His writing has featured or is forthcoming in various publications in Ireland, the UK, and the US, including Burning Bush 2, The Honest Ulsterman, gorse, New Irish Writing, The South Circular, wordlegs, The Quietus, Ink Sweat & Tears, Five [Quarterly], and theNewerYork. He has featured in the anthologies 30 under 30 (Doire Press) and New Planet Cabaret (New Island). In 2013, he was listed for the Fish Short Story Prize and the Over The Edge New Writer of the Year. He is currently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has read at numerous events, including at the London Irish Centre as part of a Young Irish Writers Showcase. He is the editor of online literary journal The Bohemyth. Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. His works have recently appeared in Conduit, Digital Americana and Cloudbank. He also edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters. Linda H.Y. Hegland is a short story, creative non-fiction, and poetry writer who lives and writes in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. Born in the mystical city of Bath, England and raised on the wind-scuffer Canadian Prairies, her writing most often reflects the influence of place and one‟s relationship with it. She is a
member of the Federation of BC Writers and the the Creative Non-Fiction Collective Society. She has published in several literary and art journals including the Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature, ArtAscent, Bricolage, and Sassafras. She most recently won Gold Prized in ArtAscent Art & Literature Journal‟s International „Figures‟ contest; and Honorable Mention in ArtAscent‟s International „Dar‟ contest. Shobhita Narayan is a 20 something involved in the materialistic side of books, fascinated by life and its dreariness and snobbery which propel an almost solitary urge to write and paint (rather unceremoniously and unsuccessfully). Books beckon when people tire, friends beckon when enjoyment comes calling; nature and repose call when everything else becomes too muddled. Christopher Mulrooney is the author of symphony (The Moon Publishing & Printing), flotilla (Ood Press),viceroy (Kind of a Hurricane Press), and jamboree (Turf Lane Press, forthcoming). His work has recently appeared in West Wind Review, Zettel, Indefinite Space, California Quarterly, and The Southampton Review. JD DeHart is an English teacher and writer. His work has appeared in The Commonline Journal, The Literary Yard, and Eye On Life Magazine, among others. His blog is http://spinrockreader.blogspot.in/. Tim McLafferty lives in NYC and works as a drummer. His poems have appeared in Assisi, Barrow Street, Painted Bride Quarterly, Pearl,Portland Review and elsewhere. To know more about him and his works, visit timmclafferty.com. Edward Palumbo is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island (1982). His fiction, poems, shorts, and journalism have appeared in numerous periodicals, journals, e-journals and anthologies including Rough Places Plain, Flush Fiction, Tertulia Magazine, Epiphany, The Poet‟s Page, Reader‟s Digest, Baseball Bard, Dark Matter, and poemkingdom.com . He writes for he loves to create new universes, however small, however doomed, and then again. Wayne Russel hails from Tampa , Florida and has been doing creative writing since he was five years old. Wayne has been published in various zines over the
years, including The Cannon's Mouth Quarterly, The Rolling Thunder Press, and Poets Espresso. Jennifer Brough was Birmingham‟s Young Poet Laureate from 2006-2007, the winner of the RSC/Cross Playwriting Competition 2012and was shortlisted for Virago‟s Fifty Shades of Feminism competition. She has since contributed to Party In Your Eye Socket, Untold Method, Antlers Press Invisible Architecture Project, The Cadaverine, Lines Underwater, and Hark Magazine. To read more of her works, visit www.jenniferbrough.wordpress.com. Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Elimae, Smokelong Quarterly, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Blaze Vox, Matchbook, and elsewhere. He loves 50s Sci-Fi movies, manga comics, and pre-punk garage bands of the 60s. Cheryl Diane Kidder has a B.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Her work, nominated five times for the Pushcart Prize, has appeared or is forthcoming in: Able Muse, CutThroat Journal of the Arts, Weber--The Contemporary West, Pembroke Magazine, decomP Magazine, Tinge Magazine, Brevity Magazine, Brain,Child, Identity Theory, In Posse Review, and elsewhere. For a full listing see: Truewest - http://cheryldkidder.blogspot.com. Brian Michael Barbeito is a Canadian writer. He is a two time Pushcart nominee with work that has appeared in various print and electronic publications. He is the author of the book Chalk Lines, [FOWLPOX PRESS, cover art by Virgil Kay (2013)]. G. D. McFetridge, neo-postmoderist, iconoclast and philosopher, writes from his wilderness home in Montana‟s majestic Sapphire Mountains. His fiction and essays are published in academic journals and reviews, and commercial literary magazines, across America, in Canada, India, Ireland and the UK. His works have been published in Foliate Oak, The Lampeter Review, The Texas Review, South Dakota Review, Louisiana Literature, The Long Story and elsewhere. Stephen V. Ramey lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania, once the tinplating capitol of the world. His work has appeared in various places, including Gone Lawn, The Dr. TJ Eckleburg Review, and Microliterature. His first collection
of very short fiction is available from Pure Slush Books and wherever fine books are sold online. Find him at http://www.stephenvramey.com Jeanne Lyet Gassman holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has appeared in Red Savina Review, The Museum of Americana, Walking Is Still Honest, and Assisi, among others. Previous awards include fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and Ragdale. Her novel, Blood of a Stone, is forthcoming from Tuscany Press in the fall of 2014.
Symposium “If language were to ever lay in ruins, which three words, as a writer, would you like to salvage?”
Howie Good: “In the beginning”.
Ginna Wilkerson: “I would like to rescue the words think, move and wait. It seems to me that these three words form the underlying structure for almost any narrative.”
Shobhita Narayan: “Man is an individual creature, continuously negating the brevity of his own existence and mortality. However, like the proverbial characters from Waiting for Godot, he is continuously seeking reassurance of his existence from his fellow beings. If language lay in ruins, the first word that I would rescue would be a variant of individuality – I, me, myself or mine; one which would provide the locus of defining one‟s own individual consciousness both in the spoken as well as the written word. The second word would be quite stereotypical – love. Millions have laughed, cried, fought and plundered over this particular emotion. Much has been profoundly deliberated, written and analyzed to no small measure. What a sad state of being it
would be if one lacked the medium of even naming this particular upheaval of emotions in self-expression. The third word would be variation of genesis, birth or beginning. If language was destroyed, what would be a better word than the one which would herald a sense of hope and renewal of this once disintegrated mode of articulation of the world around us?”
Debbie Berk: “Dream, Free, Truth.”
Jessica Bell: “I, love, you. Because then I'd still be able to form a meaningful sentence!”
Wayne Russel: “As a writer "Peace", "Love", and "Hope" are the three words that I would like to be able to salvage.”
A.J Huffman: “I would save ephemeral because that is not only my favorite word of all time, but because of the idea behind it and the images it illicits. I would save arugula because it's just fun to say. I would save pizza because without that word I would not be able to order my favorite food.”
Carol Lynn Grellas: “My three words were easy for me. I Love You.”
Michael Naghten Shanks: “LIVE + LOVE + CREATE
These are simple words that hold within them so much of the complexity of experiencing an existence. They are positive words. They are action words. I could not imagine language without them.”
Glen Armstrong: “I would rescue "soup," "parallel" and "intuitive." I would want to be part of any experiment that rebuilds from those three points linguistically, psychologically and sociologically.”
Linda Hegland: “ Natsuki Takaya, a Manga artist from Japan, said “Because even the smallest of words can be the ones to hurt you, or save you”. So your question, “If language were to ever lay in ruins, which, as a writer, would I salvage” led me to long walks and sleepless nights. Did I want words that would hurt or that would save me? Did I want words that evoked memories, or invoked a higher purpose? Words of love, of freedom, of sadness? The ones that lilt off your tongue or stab at your heart. I think, finally, I would salvage these three – this time. Tintinnabulation – not because of the meaning but because I so love the act of saying it. It reminds me of when I was a small child, I loved filling my mouth with smooth pebbles and stone. For hours I would move them around my mouth with my tongue, feeling the smoothness in equal part with the hardness – the silk with the endurance, the facility with the clumsiness. A long meditation as I sat at the foot of the prairie, grasshoppers tangling themselves in my wind-tattered hair, sucking on ancient stone and bird-egg pebbles. Compassion –simply because there is so little of it in the world. If it were to become the only word, then perhaps compassion would become all of the world. Wabi-sabi – because wabi-sabi is a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay. A word that personifies acceptance and contemporaneousness. When saying wabi-sabi, we could be speaking about everything or nothing, but we would be acknowledging the „be‟, and the „is‟, and the „are‟. Everything is
imperfect, we small, scared, humbled and shattered humans most of all. But the word wabi-sabi makes us beautiful.”
J.D DeHart: “If language were to lay in ruins, the three words I would salvage would be Companion, Adore, Idealism”
Tim McLafferty: “First, a word is, by definition: word n. A sound or combination of sounds, or its representation in writing or printing, that symbolizes and communicates a meaning and may consist of a single morpheme or of a combination of morphemes. morpheme n. A meaningful linguistic unit that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts. The word man and the suffix –ed (as in walked) are morphemes. I would find no great pleasure or utility in saving only three words. If anything, I would offer a three word message, for those still living, and for those yet to come, who may find their language in disarray: Use the dictionaries.”
Edward Palumbo: “My choices are Freedom, Fairness and Fantasy.”
Brian Michael Barbeito: “I would like to choose these three words: ELECTRIC, LIGHT, and QUEEN. ELECTRIC. I think that the first word, electric, signifies many notions such as alive, flowing, powerful, infused. Something electric is something to perhaps be in awe of or wary of, but whichever the case, is not something that can be necessarily ignored. That is the macro or universal. When I think of ELECTRIC I think of a sub-tropical neon signs casting glows on palm leaves. It‟s like some American
kitsch celebrated its shadow side, found peace, and survives and thrives as the daemon of romance in plazas by piers. Everybody has gone home and night is coming. It is about to rain, a big one too, but we are not going home. We are going to stay on against better judgement and see what happens. ELECTRIC. LIGHT. I like light because of its connections with illumination, enlightenment, possibly „satori,‟ and the whole seeker path. Self, selfhood, no self, non dualism, gurus, teachers, soul, spirit, aura, ideas, and that sort of thing. LIGHT. QUEEN. Taken to help represent an archetype. Hopefully not the gaudy gauche persona. Hopefully to denote „woman,‟ as sacrosanct, beloved, Gnostic, nurturing, labyrinthine, loving. QUEEN. Sometimes I have combined the three words together, ELECTRIC LIGHT QUEEN, the designation for a person that represents aliveness, awakening, and the feminine side of existence.”
G.D McFetridge: "It's a bit like trying to decide, were I in possession of a fistful of diamonds, which three would I keep. Would I take the largest, the three that glittered most brightly, or would I peer into them with a magnifying glass to look for clarity? Alas, I choose these: INEFFABLE, ETHERIAL, MAJESTIC."
Stephen Ramey: “After careful thought, I have decided I would save three simple words: Yes (because I would wish to remain positive) Please (because I would wish to be polite) Do (because this is how we change the world)”
Jeanne Gassman: “I would choose the following three words to salvage: hope, forgiveness, and love. All three words have a variety of meanings and offer the possibility of change.”
Kyle Hemmings: “Arabesque, pulchritude, and heirloom.”