Wayfarer ISSN 2169-3145
A Journal of Contemplative Literature
CELEBRATING THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE WAYFARER
William Kelley Woolfitt
Tea-Time at the Train Station by Elizabeth Hoyle
by Nicole Keller
Being the Lone Bannerman Advice on Getting Published
Featuring the poetry of rich Murphy, Mary Harwell sayler, Mark goad, robbie Maakestad, samuel
salerno, Aaron cornett, Adam short, Peter oâ€™Malley, Paul Weidknecht and caroline Misner. With a preview of Continental Quotient: Stories from Both Sides of the Divide by Kristen Lodge.
A Journal of Contemplative Literature Vol. 2 Issue. 3
Letter from the Editor
Founding Editor L.M. Browning
Poetry of Rich Murphy
Associate Editor Mathew Devitt
Poetry of Mary Harwell Sayler
Poetry of Mark Goad
Poetry of Robbie Maakestad
Poetry of Samuel Salerno
Poetry of Aaron Cornett
Poetry of Adam Short
A wayfarer is one who chooses to take up a long journey on foot. The journey we chronicle within the journal is that of our path across the innerlandscape of our own being, as we reach for answers to the central questions of our existence. Spirituality is the culmination of the individual’s desire to understand the deeper meaning in life. The works found within The Wayfarer are those small truths we gather while traversing the breadth of our days; shared in a belief that through an exchange of insights we help one another move forward. The Wayfarer is a quarterly journal distributed by Homebound Publications that explores humanity’s ongoing introspective journey. About Homebound Publications
Tea-Time at the Train Station by Elizabeth Hoyle 12 Feature Poet: William Kelley Woolfitt
Being the Lone Bannerman:
© Photo by Mykola Swarnyk (CC)
Advice for New Writers on Getting Published 22 Poetry of Peter O’Malley
Evolution by Nicole Keller
Poetry of Paul Weidknecht
Poetry of Caroline Misner
Book Spotlight 39
It is the intention of those at Homebound to revive contemplative storytelling. The stories humanity lives by give both context and perspective to our lives. Some old stories, while well-known to the generations, no longer resonate with the heart of the modern man or address the dilemmas we currently face as individuals and as a global village. Homebound chooses titles that balance a reverence for the old wisdom; while at the same time presenting new perspectives by which to live. © 2013 Homebound Publications All Rights Reserved. All rights to all original artwork, photography and written works belongs to the respective owners as stated in the attributions. All Rights Reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system or transmitted in any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and publisher. Except for brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Photo by ÂŠ kallu (Flickr CC)
celebrating THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF
THE WAYFARER A Collection Of Small Truths
ut perhaps we should start with a rather large truth... As we hit this, our one year anniversary of the publishing of The Wayfarer we owe a great deal of thanks to you, our readership. Your response has been incredible, both to the original, free, online edition of the journal, and more recently to the printed version as well (in case you didn’t know bout it, you can find the printed version in our bookstore). We realize that times can be tough and luxuries, like literature journals, are often the first casualties when money gets tight. This is a large part of the reason that we have continued to give you the electronic version of The Wayfarer without cost. The search for truth should never be measured in dollars spent, but rather in time invested on the path. In the last year, after launching the journal as a biannual publication, and seeing the immediate response, we chose to step up our efforts and publish the journal quarterly rather than biannually. You have made it incredibly clear that you appreciate this, and want it to continue, so we are moving ahead and continuing to provide you with the best poetry, prose, and non-fiction pieces we can find. But it’s not just about The Wayfarer...
We continue to work diligently to find and release the best full-length introspective pieces. In the past year, three of our titles; Oak Wise and Fleeting Moments of Fierce Clarity by L. M. Browning and The Crucifixion by Theodore Richards have won book awards, and there are likely to be more awards by the end of the year. This tells me that we are on the right path, and we are finding books that speak to people. While I would love to just list every book and every author here because I am so proud of the collection we have gathered this year, I will just ask that you take another look through our catalog and find something that speaks to you. If you read The Wayfarer, but have yet to crack open one of our titles I strongly suggest you do so. Whether you like poetry, essays, fiction, or non-fiction, in our titles you will find something that is sure to pique your interest and spark your imagination. In the end, there is one important truth for us here at Homebound Publications: we are here to bring you those stories that give both context and perspective to our lives... So make the journey with us! —Mathew Devitt Partner and Senior Editor
Czech Mates by Rich Murphy Chained to shadows in the cave, the physician, photographer, and Prague learned love lessons from a philosopher king
who never self-exiled blind.
by Mary Harwell Sayler
The doctor lighted on every tender limb because no one
Funny how much we learn from children—
would return in eternity.
The photo journalist longed
for the weight that an image
how to say what we think without
could not carry again and again.
Overalls put the wannabes on
or giving glib advice.
a farm with peasants and pawns when the breaks broke wrong
Sometimes they teach us
and sent Earth lovers to earth.
how they found hope in situations
Sabrina, with telepathic empathy
we once thought unspeakable
packed the European into abstract
art, even though any day
in customs we called profound.
in the week, Plato would have pronounced the painter insane.
It may take us years to get their ideas firmly into our heads, but someday we’ll get up and walk away from every unmade bed.
Mary Harwell Sayler has written 24 traditionally published books in all genres and two e-books on poetry. An observer of nature, she enjoys beach walks and bicycle rides on the sand road by her home in a woodsy area of rural Florida. In 2012, Hiraeth Press published her book Living in the Nature Poem. Rich Murphy’s third book of poems, Americana will be published in 2013 by Press Americana and the Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture. Hollywood, CA. Murphy has also published six chapbooks and several essays on poetry and poetics. The poem in The Wayfarer is from a booklength manuscript reply to Paul Valery’s concept of The Mind of Europe.
How Worlds End by Mark Goad You know sometimes something has happened but don’t know precisely what it is. What happened? you think of a sudden, startled, breath-caught, shaken. Must have been nothing you say aloud but know that’s not so. Something has changed, inexorably, nearly imperceptibly, in the blink of an eye. In a moment you are someone else. Dipped a toe in Heraclitus’ river and was caught in the flow. It’s nothing you say, shrugging it off. But this is how worlds end and begin.
Just a Matter of Scale by Mark Goad Why is there so much of everything? No. What I mean to say is: Why is everything so much? Who can fathom the prodigal universe? Or is the entirety of things merely another Tuesday for God— and not a very good one at that? Perhaps it is all just a matter of scale: One only needs a proper place to stand and take it all in.
Mark Goad is a poet now living in the Boston metro area (USA). Born in Ohio, he has lived and studied in Chicago, Geneva, Switzerland and Boston (with sojourns in Connecticut and rural Nebraska). Undergraduate and graduate studies have been completed in English Lit., German language, theology and philosophy. His work has been published previously in Assisi, BAPQ, epiphany, bluepepper, Decanto, Big River Review, Extracts, Crannóg, Ayris, The Wayfarer, Contrary and other literary journals. 7
Early Morning Overlooking the Temple Mount by Robbie Maakestad Two AM. The sky, rich navy. Behind me, alleys dim, drab, dark, empty. Before me, lights illuminate ancient stone, reflect off the golden downturned bowl. The plaza below—bright. A deep contrast
Akko, Israel—Market by Robbie Maakestad People dash awning to awning, huddle under overhangs, gather in doorways
though empty as well.
to escape the downpour.
Exception: one man.
Surprised, sellers scramble
Hand—reaching, pushing, poking his prayer into a crack.
It swept from the sea. to tarp their wares. An eave shelters me, protection from the storm. I stand, dry—though wet surrounds me. Not so the fresh-caught shark— up-ended, suspended—tail pierced by hook. Eyes wide, appalled; maw agape, razor teeth revealed. Water rolls down its body, mixes with blood, drip, drip, drips into the age-old street.
Robbie Maakestad grew up in Indianapolis, IN and graduated from Taylor University in 2012. He is now in his second year at Ball State University, working on his Masters in Creative Writing (Nonfiction) and teaching Introductory Composition. His work has previously appeared in The Broken Plate and on thisisantler.com, in addition to his flash fiction piece, Seasick, which received Honorable Mention in Marco Polo Arts Magazine’s 2012 100 x 100 Flash Fiction Contest. Robbie is interested in the interplay of faith and writing. Follow Robbie @RobbieMaakestad. Photo on left by: © Montecruz Foto (CC)
Tall Grass by Samuel Salerno I want to be the rippling muscles in a lion’s neck; the sinews that tighten before leaping. I want to smell a meal from a thousand yards Every moment in me lurches forward to the point I feel the warm blood of the catch in my throat. My eyes are a pulse—
Finding My Voice by Samuel Salerno
the tongue sweating— I am pure power.
is a special kind of drama where
I am God.
oppositions are portentious—
I am tra jectories of dust,
one act of faith
stars explode in my irises—
which must remain always in the conditional
My hinds are the language of thought.
world of fragments that haunt my mind— one vast fluctuating omenscape of many colors swelling, where, facing the snow, eye meets the world. What kind of snow is falling there? Arabesques of the word the greatest force threatening fall— all things converge upon this point of light. I sketch the animate spirit linger in the mind, entangled in words, true events of the waking life.
Samuel Salerno has lived his entire life on the central coast of California. A graduate of Wesleyan University, and the University of London, Mr Salerno currently resides and teaches in Monterey, CA. His poetry has appeared in the California Quarterly and the Monterey Poetry Review in California and in various reviews around the country, including the Red River Review, Illya’s Honey, Free Verse, Kindred, and Freshwater. Mr Salerno’s publications include The New World, Spirit House (Lighthouse Press) and a new collection of plays, Sweet Forgiveness (Black Lodge Press). 10
The Great Wall
by Aaron Cornett
by Adam Short
Through the haze and gravity of summer,
Another ancient crumble.
I search for a glimpse of fall.
This one sits in mountain air
I look for the faint promise in the air,
Amid peaks and crags and
The slightest wisp of cool on the edge
Distant voices from the
Of a gentle breeze that caresses the
Heritage village below.
Face and heart from time to time. They made the mountain In the morning light of a peaceful Sunday morning
I am touched by that which I sought.
On stone on rock.
With every soft and gentle touch,
The crows are now keepers
I am told this is the time to chase
Of these redoubts.
Those dreams with a pen, To produce the sacred poetry of the soul.
An odd tourist passes Through and snaps a photo.
With every delicate movement of coolness
He rests for a moment,
I step to go on the long voyage of the wind.
Gathers his strength,
I mediate on the fleeting moments of life,
Then presses on.
Gliding quietly in the shadow of stars. And summer will soon be forgotten, lying in
There is always more to
The ashes of the distant glow of sunset.
Press on to. The stretches are vast, His legs tremble.
Aaron Cornett is a poet, family man, and an active businessman. As a district manager, Aaron travels many roads throughout the wiregrass region of south Alabama and south Georgia. His writing comes from a creative mind, a sometimes nomadic lifestyle, the adventures of daily life, and the many blessings in the world we live in. He currently lives in South Alabama and is working on a re-release of Rains of Somber and an upcoming release The Dreamer’s Journey. He is married to a beautiful woman, have a wonderful son, own two smart dogs and a mean cat. Life is good. Adam Short is an aspiring poet with a long daily train commute, which provides him with ample time for introspective and creative pursuits. When not writing poetry, he works as a corporate fundraiser for the American Red Cross.
Tea-Time at the Train Station By Elizabeth Hoyle
Photo by ÂŠ Kyrre Gjerstad (CC)
“Here you are. At last! I’ve been waiting for you.” The man sits behind a perfectly appointed tea table, white tablecloth beneath a finely painted floral tea set. “Please, come and have a seat.” I move forward, amazed to feel my body so substantial in this realm which must surely be a dream. It is not until I come up to the tea table that I see it is placed directly on a criss-crossing section of railroad tracks. I look around; we are in the middle of a bright, exceptionally clean train station I have never seen before. The man patiently pours me a cup of tea. “What is your name?” He asks as he hands the cup to me. “Cameron,” I answer, taking the tea and sitting down. The man’s brows pucker. “Cameron? I strapping nino like you seems more like a Felipe to me, but Cameron you are named and so Cameron you are.” “And who are you?” The tea is so hot and strong that it doesn’t feel dream-like. “Mi nombre es Antoni Gaudi,” he replies in beautifully accented Spanish. My jaw drops at his answer. “Antoni Gaudi. The Gaudi?” “Were you expecting another Gaudi?” “No,” I mumble, trying to get a grip on my thoughts. “I wasn’t expecting anyone, least of all you. I don’t even know where we are.” “No se, mi amigo; I don’t know where we are either. I know we are in a train station, but as to where this station is or where any of the trains go when they arrive, I am remarkably uncertain. Rembrandt was unclear about those facts,” he says calmly and takes a sip of tea. It takes all my will not to make my jaw drop again. “Rembrandt was here?” “Si, he boarded a train though and has gone to who knows where. I’m waiting for the next train.” “Where are you going?” I ask, his every statement causing a thousand new questions to spring up in my mind. “Back to Barcelona, with all luck, to finish La Segrada Familia.” “You never did finish it, did you?” I recall this fact from a Spanish class I had been taking before I fell ill. “No thanks to that burro of a tram driver. He hit me without a thought and I died a few days later.” A new thought makes me choke on the sip of tea I
had just taken. Gaudi reaches across the table to pound me on the back, which only makes me cough more. “Ay Dios Mio, nino, take it easy!” He exclaims as my coughs subside. “Does this mean I’m dead, if I’m here, having tea with you? All this,” I gesture toward him and to everything around us, “feels too real for me to be dead.” He is silent for a moment, brows drawn together in thought. “I do not know if you are dead. I do not know if I am dead. I just thought I was because I was in darkness then I saw a light, brighter than any estrella en el cielo. I followed the light and arrived here, with Rembrandt sitting where you are now.” I try my hardest to make sense of the fact that I may be dead. “Well…I mean there’s likelihood that I am dead. I’ve been having problems with my heart and they operated on me a few days ago…” I feel incredibly lightheaded and am unable to say anything else. Gaudi takes another sip of tea, his face overcome by a faraway expression. “You are Cameron, ill and probably dead. I am Antoni Gaudi, an architect and also probably dead. Dios, what does it mean to be anything when all of it vanishes when we die? Or is it because it all vanishes that we seek to get as many titles and praises as we can while we can attain them?” “You’ve hit upon an eternal muddle there, mate,” a voice from behind me says. My jaw drops again as E.M. Forester walks across the shiny train tracks over to our table. Gaudi pours him a cup of tea before standing up to shake hands. The two great men introduce themselves then Gaudi introduces me. Giving my hand a warm, firm shake, Edward Morgan Forester himself takes a seat beside me. “But if all we are vanishes when we die, why is it the great men and women are remembered for what they were in life? To say nothing of what we are before we’re born, while we are in the womb?” Forester continues the conversation, an eager glow in his eyes. “Are we really alive though, in the womb? We cannot see during that time, cannot remember it,” Gaudi muses. “Considering we come out of the womb alive, I would think we’d be alive inside it.” “And as for why the great are remembered, la repuesta es facil. The world remembers the strong and those the world remembers were the strongest of their kind,”
Gaudi says with a small scowl. Forester gulps his tea and tarts filled with jam as red as blood. But of course I then folds his hands together. don’t, my repressed anger stays in the farthest corner of “But there are many kinds of strength, though. myself, where its been growing and simmering since I The world does not learned I was ill. easily remember the “I won’t be rememcourage of a woman bered as much,” I say, who defied society fixing my gaze on the “The woman, wearing an in order to achieve pattern of my teacup. the life she wanted.” “I’ll just be the star He pauses. “I guess University football old-fashioned white dress, that’s why I wrote player who died of an my novels as I did. ailing heart.” I wanted to be the “A gifted athlete approaches the table one man who rewhose very heart bemembered the great trayed him,” a new and Gaudi and Forester bravery of women voice, this time a fein a time when they male, says. “Now that were thought helpis pitifully ironic.” suddenly stand. She nods less and cowardly. The woman, wearThough who knows ing an old-fashioned if my work will even white dress, approaches to both of them be read a hundred the table and Gaudi years from now.” and Forester suddenly but extends her hand to me first. I finally find my stand. She nods to both voice. “Neither of of them but extends her you need to worry hand to me first. “Allow me to introduce myself. about being remem“Allow me to inbered!” I turn to troduce myself. My Forester. “You are name is Jane Austen,” My name is Jane Austen,” remembered as one she says, her hazel eyes of the greatest Engsparkling at me. In my she says, her hazel eyes lish novelists of the shock I impulsively kiss twentieth century. her hand. She smiles. And you, Gaudi, “I’m Cameron sparkling at me. In my shock are remembered as Stockell,” I say and one of Spain’s greatshake my head in surest architects; some prise while she introI impulsively kiss her hand. even called you duces herself to Gaudi God’s architect.” and Forester. Even She smiles.” Gaudi smiles into though I’m fairly sure his beard, obviously I’m dead, I can’t help pleased. but wish my mum and “And you, my sister were here to see friend? What will this. Any mention of the world remember you as?” Forester’s question is anything Jane Austen practically makes them salivate. kind but it’s enough to make me want to throw the Miss Austen is given the place at my right and is supplied table and spatter the immaculate train station with tea with tea and tarts. She ignores them and takes my hand. 15
“For all the pitiful irony of your situation, Cameron, if I may call you that, you are wrong about one thing. You will be remembered as something special by each person who knew you.” It’s her kindness that makes me snap. “That’s very easy for you to say, considering you are remembered by millions as one of the greatest writers ever!” “Am I? That’s interesting to know,” she mumbles, her surprise plain on her face. “I think the point Miss Austen was trying to make, dear chap, is none of us know how we’re going to be remembered, so we may as well live our lives in a way to make us worthy of remembrance,” Forester puts in, stroking his mustache thoughtfully. “That is not what I was attempting to say exactly, Mr. Forester, though that was well put,” she says, one brilliant writer acknowledging another. “No, what I was trying to say is a mother and a father cannot forget their son. A brother or a sister will not forget their other siblings. A woman cannot forget a man who loved her, no matter how the attachment turned out. You will not be forgotten.” I can’t help but sound like a child as I say, “But I’ll never be a famous football player. I’ll never play for Manchester United like I always wanted to.” “It does not matter. What matters is that you lived.” “Es verdad,” Gaudi speaks up. “You are a wise woman, Miss Austen.” He raises his teacup like he’s toasting to her. “Thank you, Mr. Gaudi, but such wisdom makes me famished.” She devours her tart in three dainty bites and sips her tea thirstily. “Since I find myself surrounded by three gentlemen, I feel compelled to ask a question: why are men so concerned with grandness and glory? Why do they want to be emblazoned as the greatest, whether they are soldier, sailor or writer?” “Because men are taught to be great. Greatness is what makes a man a man supposedly,” Forester answers. Miss Austen looks like she knew this already. “But why does greatness make a man a man? Why cannot men be content with what they’ve been given as women are taught to? Why struggle after something they may never attain?” “Why did you struggle after something you might not have gotten, Miss Austen?” Forester counters. “The only thing I struggled to attain was more money
for my family. I was told I could never be great because I am a woman.” “Yet you are great,” I interrupt, though I could listen to them for hours. “The greatness and glory of man is nothing compared with the greatness and glory of God,” Gaudi muses to no one in particular. We are all silent for a moment but the silence is quickly broken by the sound of timid footsteps. “I’m sorry, but I overheard your questions and I think I might provide an answer,” a man with a thick French accent joins our table. “I am Henry Le Chatlier, a chemist.” Introductions are made and he is given tea; I’m beginning to wonder if more supplies just magically appear every time someone enters the train station. He sits next to Gaudi. “I heard your question about why men seek greatness and why women are discouraged from that pursuit and the answer can be found in chemical solutions.” Despite our arched eyebrows and confused expressions, he goes on to explain passionately. “In my work with chemical solutions, I stumbled across a theory that proves universally true for all solutions. If there is a stress on one side of the chemical equation, the only way the reaction can maintain its equilibrium is to counteract the stress in the opposite direction. This can be done by using up or producing more products, increasing reactant concentrations or the giving off of heat, but it’s all about balance. Men add the stress on society by their pursuit of greatness and women counteract that stress by acting in the roles which they’ve been given. Again I say it’s all about balance.” “Would that it could be the other way around,” Miss Austen states, bitterness in her voice. “It is now,” I assure her. “In my time, women have achieved and are achieving greatness. The trappings of certain periods in time do vanish.” She snorts. “Only to be replaced by new trappings once the old have been smashed down.” “How odd society is,” Forester observes, “to encourage the pursuit of what one thinks to be great and then at the same time criticize a man or a women once they’ve got it. It seems human beings are counterproductive to their own happiness.”
“I’ve always thought it an extraordinary coincidence of the English language the word ‘unique’ rhymes with the word ‘critique’,” Gaudi interjects, giving his beard a thoughtful tug. “All we can do is plod about, doing what makes us happy and not listening to those who say we’re wrong,” Forester continues, his eyes on something only he can see. “Maybe that’s what it means to be great,” I say, my head buzzing a little with all the thoughts this conversation has evoked in me. “What a funny world it is,” Le Chatlier declares wistfully, setting his teacup down with a soft clink. We settle into silence with the weighty feeling of shared secrets between us. I’ve never had a talk like this with anyone before, where the world’s mask is stripped down, revealing the raw, beautifully ugly truth beneath. If and when I get back and get well, I think, things are going to be different. Just then, whistles blow, like an army of ghosts coming closer. As if conjured by my thoughts, five separate trains pull into the station, each coming from different directions. They halt in a hiss of steam and their doors slide open, waiting for us. We all look at each other and rise in unison. Gaudi skips ahead of us and swings himself up onto the first train nearest the tea table. A look of peace transforms his face. “Ah, I can smell Barcelona already!” He inhales deeply then turns to us. “Well, mis amigos y amiga, it is time for me to go back and finish what I started. You will see La Segrada Familia, won’t you?” With our promises that we will, his train departs from the station, though I don’t think its heading to Barcelona. We hesitate when we come to the next train, but in the end, E.M. Forester steps up and boards. He leans out the window. “Farewell until we meet again. Whenever we see each other next, we must have tea and together we’ll solve all the world’s muddles. “He gives us a broad smile and waves until his train is out of sight. Le Chatlier takes the next train with a reminder: life is about finding balance, both with the world and with yourself. With those accented words of wisdom, his train is gone. It is just Miss Austen and I and two separate trains we must take. “I don’t want to leave,” I realize as the words come out.
“I imagine you could stay here, if you truly want,” she says, glancing around. “Someone else is bound to come along. But as for me, I’ll board this metal monster and see where it takes me.” “Where do you think the trains go?” She gives me a quick kiss on the cheek. “That is the adventure of it; you get to find out.” She steps aboard her train and in a moment is gone. I look back at the deserted tea table and I long to stay here, where my heart is well, where I can talk to famous people and try to make sense of the world that has always been so confusing to me. But then I think of my mum, my dad, my sister. It is with them I belong, not here. Without another glance back, I get on the last train, which hurtles down the tracks as soon as I sit down. I am plunged into darkness as the train enters a tunnel and I gradually get very sleepy as the tunnel goes on and on and on. The clack of the wheels fades to the steady beep of a heart monitor and the sound of the wind gushing past the train becomes the sound of my own breathing with the added help of an oxygen mask. I can feel it encasing my mouth and my nose and a hand stops me from trying to dislodge it. My eyes flutter open and all I see is unforgiving brightness. “Cameron! Thank God!” I hear my mother gasp and feel her hand on my forehead, smoothing back my hair. I open my eyes again and see her tired, beaming face looking back at me. I smile at her and she dashes off to get my father and a nurse. I try to cut through the fog in my brain, try to figure out if the tea party at the train station was a dream or not. My mother and father come in with a nurse and I am showered with smiles and kisses and checks of my vital signs. It must have been a dream then. The very thought of it makes me unbearably sad. I lean back on my pillow and sigh; it’s only then I realize my breath smells distinctly of a good cup of Earl Grey. ___________________________________________ Elizabeth Hoyle has been writing stories since she was eight years old and is currently earning her Bachelor’s in both English Writing and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville. A native of Beckley, West Virginia, her fiction has been featured on flashfictionworld.com and her poetry has been included in the American Library of Poetry’s student anthology entitled Talented. 17
William Kelley Woolfitt
Introduction by the Author
hese poems are from by book-length
Words for Flesh: a Memoir
of Charles de Foucauld. Born in 1858 to a family of French aristocrats, de Foucauld spent his life seeking an identity that would rightly balance his zeal, curiosity, faith, and compassion. Fascinated by the capacity of humans to transform themselves, de Foucauld himself became a cavalry officer, geographer, Trappist monk, priest, abolitionist, translator, folklorist, hermit, fort-builder, and finally a martyr. He explored Morocco, joined monasteries in France and Syria, went on pilgrimages to Jerusalem and Rome, and
William Kelley Woolfitt teaches creative writing
spent the last fifteen years of his
and American literature at Lee University in Cleve-
life in the deserts of Algeria, liv-
land, Tennessee. He is the author of two forthcoming
ing among the Tuareg and other
chapbooks: The Sal vager’s Arts (poetry), co-winner of
Saharan peoples. In 1916, Charles
the Keystone Prize, and The Boy with Fire in His Mouth
was murdered by a few of his Tu-
(fiction), winner of the Epiphany Editions contest.
areg and Haratin neighbors dur-
His poems and stories appear in Shenandoah, Michigan Quarterly Review, Threepenny Review, New Ohio Review, Appalachian Heritage, The Cincinnati Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Ninth Letter, River Styx, Virginia Quarterly Review’s Instapoetry Series, and elsewhere. He has hiked a thousand miles of the Appalachian Trail and canoed the Chibougamau lake system in central Quebec; he explores the back roads of West Virginia whenever he can.
ing a time of regional unrest. As Thomas Merton observes, “[de Foucauld’s] formula for the ‘contemplative’ life seems simply to have been to go off into the desert and become, for all practical purposes, a Tuareg.”
At the Hermitage with John of the Cross by William Kelley Woolfitt Charles de Foucauld, 1911: Mount Asekrem, Hoggar, Algeria Secluded at Mount Asekrem, I hope to complete the Tuareg dictionary with the help of Ba Hamou, my bossy Tuareg servant. Remembering that John of the Cross fled to a plateau like this comforts me, but only a little. The Lord, after all, did seek John in that high hidden place riddled with stony caves, and slipped into his cave-chamber, and gave him kisses and pomegranate wine. The Lord comes to me, if at all, not in a loverâ€™s guise, but in the unwashed rags of Ba Hamou, who broods in my hermitage, complains because our mush-diet does not vary.
with me, Ba Hamou agrees to wrestle
The wind is moody, and dangerous,
meaning from the unwieldy words
he insists, a petty god, ready to dash
that slip my grasp, like angels
us from the earth. When he is happy
who refuse to bless. My dictionary rises like a loaf. Ba Hamou pinches the skin-folds of his belly, swears that we cannot live on words alone. The Lord passes through my lips and fills my cells, not as wine (I had the last drip in Mass days ago), but as words for crust, and sore gums, and the dried gray shreds of goat-meat that I gnaw from the bone.
Metamorphosis by William Kelley Woolfitt Charles de Foucauld, 1905: Tamanrasset, Hoggar, Algeria Dear Beatrix, How I think of you and our childhood together as I start afresh here in Tamanrasset. The Tuareg are nomadic, a people going or gone. In their eyes, I’m untrustworthy, too friendly with French soldiers, I pray to a strange god, and I’m pale as a grub. Do you remember when we went to live with Grandfather, how he seemed cold, and stiff, and severe? He sang off-key to amuse us, flapped his arms, won us over with silly opera arias, the song of Musette. I hope to coax the Tuareg bit-by-bit. I’ve visited their gardens and outlying camps, offered bread, played the buffoon for the children to laugh.
The man eager to give all—his crusts, his shoes, his pride—cannot be robbed. Today, a woman motioned for me to squat beside her; she is the first Tuareg to chance that I am kind. She showed me how to soften date palm leaves and acacia bark in a basin of water. We ripped the wet pulp into strands, sat and extended our legs, flattened
© Photo by Anita Ritenour (CC)
and pinched the strands. Imagine my big toe sticking up like the stylus on a sundial; then it becomes the spindle where Lalla stretches and loops the length of our rope as it plays out, strengthens, expands.
Cavalry Scenes by William Kelley Woolfitt Charles de Foucauld, 1881: Oran Province, Algeria Sub-lieutenant of the light cavalry, I kick my heels into the ribs of my blue-black Andalusian horse. Cantering over the sandy hills, the rivers of loose stone that fan through them, my horse snorts, and so do I; his mane lifts, my scalp tingles, my sweat runs with his, we become a blur of black, a burst of wind. I must find Bou Amama, the holy man who stirs the Arab tribes to revolt! I must also water my men. (Water, after all, is my appointed task.) I order them to dig out Tucked in the gullies of a nearby hill, the old well, to lower a man with a dipper
hidden by brush, ambushers fire at us.
and pail, let the sun shrink above his head
An altercation, at last! We fire back.
till he reaches the bottomâ€™s muddy seep.
Black as a smashed toe when the tissue dies,
My men wince as they drink, griping smoke rises in little funnels and swirls. because it tastes like magnesium. I have
I call on my Arabs to refresh our bullets.
just the thing! I unwrap and pass my flask.
No reply. I find them stretched face down
Each Frenchman threads his water
upon the ground, body after body
with a drop or so of golden rum. true as compass needles, pointing to Mecca *
as they intone their sunset prayers. I scan the hill, its clumped weeds. The smoke fades; perhaps our enemies also set aside their guns while they pray. The sun dips, and sways, and spills molten gold. Quiet as a spider when it births silk, I wish that I, too, could rest on the earth.
Being the Lone Bannerman Advice for New Writers on Getting Published Each week Homebound Publications receives numerous phone calls and emails from unpublished writers who are looking for guidance as they desperately try to break into the industry. Each person usually asks the same questions: How do I know if my writing is good enough to the published? Will you read my manuscript and tell me if it is well-written? Iâ€™ve receive several rejections, does this mean I am not good enough to be a writer? Receiving criticism and dealing with rejection is part of being a working writer and so, by the same hand, it would seem that, if a writer is to succeed, being a visionary must also play a role in being a working writer. Recently we asked our authors and editors what advice they would give to emerging authors. 22
Eric D. Lehman, author of Afoot in Connecticut and Becoming Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton, P.T. Barnum, and the Dawn of American Celebrity (Forthcoming from October 2013 from Wesleyan) suggests: Unpublished writers hold on to exceptional stories, the guy whose novel sat in the cellar for forty years, then suddenly became a bestseller. You are not that exception, so stop thinking that way. When I started out, I thought of myself as a fiction writer, but found that travel websites were hungry for content. I wrote travel narratives as a break from my “true calling” of writing novels. Those narratives led, strangely, to my first history book. History books led to a travel guide, the first book I was paid well for. That led to my first book-length travel narrative being published, right here at Homebound Publication. Are my novels next? Perhaps. But what is important is that I am evolving, not stuck on my first novel or on the first image I had of myself as a writer. Reach out in all directions, like an octopus with four typewriters. If your tentacles are flexible, something will stick. Nora Caron, Partner in Oceandoll Productions and author of Journey to the Heart and New Dimensions of Being suggests: To be a published writer you must first dedicate yourself 100% to your writing dream. Come rain or shine or snow, you must dedicate a piece of every day to your dream and never let yourself be discouraged by what others think or say about your path. It can take years to break into the publishing industry and you must be aware that even once you break the ice, there is still so much work ahead. Your dream must be the reason you get up every morning, if not it will slowly fade into the background of other priorities. If you can walk this dedicated path then you have a chance at manifesting your writing dream. Like an athlete who runs 10 km every day no matter what weather is outside, you must be willing to persevere no matter what obstacles are ahead. David K. Leff, author of Tinker’s Damn, The Last Undiscovered Place, which was a Connecticut Book Award finalist, Deep Travel and Hidden in Plain Sight. He has also penned two volumes of poetry, The Price of Water and Depth of Field: Writing is reflexive to reading so be voracious and omnivorous, especially with contemporary work which will point to what interests publishers and readers. Keep a journal, not as a diary, but as a workshop. Write in it several times a week. Use it for descriptions of people, objects, phenomena and landscapes; recollected conversations; your reactions to events; the sound of words; and even lists of future writing projects. Like what Edison said of inventing, good writing is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Don’t wait for the muse. Create time to write in a place that works for you and have at it. Don’t worry about what comes out in a first draft. Most of writing is about rewriting. First drafts may be a bloodletting, but revising has the allure of working on a puzzle or playing Sherlock Holmes to sentences and paragraphs. 23
You may want to start by volunteering to write for a small paper (like a local weekly) or magazine as a reviewer or similar regular gig. Try writing an op-ed for a bigger paper. If you have a book manuscript, look to see who is publishing similar works, and check them to see if the author thanks an agent or editor that you might contact. Keep in mind an audience and write, write, write. You’ll never go wrong, if you just write. Theodore Richards, Founder of The Chicago Wisdom Project, author of the award-winning title Cosmosophia: Cosmology, Mysticism, and the Birth of a New Myth; the award-winning novel, The Crucifixion; and Creatively Maladjusted: The Wisdom Education Movement Manifesto suggests: I would say that getting into publishing requires two things above all else: patience and courage. Patience is obvious: things move slowly; you get rejected; you must wait and wait and wait…. Courage is perhaps even more important. There are many good writers out there who simply don’t want to face the fact that as soon as you put your self into the public sphere, you will be criticized. Even if you write something truly outstanding. In fact, the better is, the more criticism you get, because anything good will challenge. Additionally—and this will sound obvious—the writer must read and write. All the time. Even when the writer is not writing, he or she is writing. Writing must become a way of engaging the world, not merely something done in front of a computer. This is why reading deeply—and reading good stuff—is so important. And when one cannot write, when the words do not come, the writer still writes; the writer goes over old stuff, edits, reads. Words must be like food, something that is a part of every day. L.M. Browning, Founder of Homebound Publications and award-winning author of Fleeting Moments of Fierce Clarity, Oak Wise, and The Nameless Man reflects: The fact that I am an Editor seems to eclipse the fact that I am a writer. When I meet an unpublished writer and they learn of my career, they don’t ask me as a writer, “How did you get published?” they ask me, “Will you read my work and tell me what you think? I need to know if it is any good.” Being a writer means being the lone bannerman of your dream—being the sole representative and champion for your work. If you are lucky you will publish, gather and readership, and find those willing to stand beside you to lend voice to the value of your work. But, for the most part and especially in the beginning, being a writer means you must be a visionary—you must see the value in sharing your work with the world regardless of what any editor or critic might say. The best advice I can give a new writer is this: Before you ever send out a query you must determine within yourself whether or not you think your work is good and if the answer is yes you must drive that conclusion to your core—to a place where it cannot be shaken—so that no matter what anyone thinks, you know the truth and will not be discouraged when the inevitable criticism comes.
Winner of the 2013 Homebound Publications Poetry Prize
HAVING LISTENED Gary Whited POEMS “In Having Listened, Gary Whited guides the reader to a time and place that evokes the very essence of his experience growing up on the prairie of Eastern Montana. Through his eloquence and imagery, Whited brings the reader to a deeper understanding of the spiritual beauty and sorrows of that life and thus a deep universal connection to it.” —James T. Powers, author of Saving the Farm “Gary Whited is that rare philosopher who digs deep enough to strike the wellsprings of poetry. Here we enter a stillness so profound it changes the way we see the world.” —Dan Veach, editor Atlanta Review, author of Elephant Water “For those of us who have known for many years the pleasures of Gary Whited’s quiet, prairie-steeped poems, it is cause for celebration to finally see his work collected and in print. We have waited a long time for this haunting, elegiac book.” —Aimée Sands, author of The Green-go Turn of Telling
Now Available Wherever Books are Sold 25
Uluru by Peter O’Malley Red rock of the Dreamtime stuck into the sand, in the red desert at the heart of this, the oldest outpost. Forty thousand years they walked it, sang its dreams and trackways. Now, dissipated, drunk, and lost, they watch the alien hordes who climb it by the rail
Serengeti by Peter O’Malley We do not like to see ourselves as meat. Hubris-ridden, inside walls of glass and steel and stone, we smugly eat our sushi, even steak tartare, never thinking that elsewhere we are these uncooked morsels
drilled into its sacred sides.
to those whose forebears fed on ours
At night, in the tourist Mecca where we stayed,
free of hiding places
built up around its once inaccessible bulk, we watch a single meteor
on these sere savannahs, that could help us to elude those questing jaws.
that burned its arc against the sky for full five seconds (so it seemed): in tribute, as it were, to the emptiness that was.
Peter O’Malley lives in Oakland, New Jersey, with his wife, Carol, and cat, Dickens. He holds a BA and an MA (Drew University) in English literature, as well as a law degree from Rutgers University (Newark). He is an amateur naturalist whose other interests include travel, sailing, music, bicycling, and visual arts (drawing and pastel). Recent publications have appeared in Inkwell and The Avocet. Photo by © Koen Muurling (Flickr CC)
by Nicole Keller
I. The Barre I never expected that I would be starved for more than words, more than lines elegant and nimble on the page. So many times we do not expect, and yet. This is where my story begins: in my hand, in a friendâ€™s head, through her body, through mine.
Photo by ÂŠ rileyssmiling (CC Flickr)
*** The Hockaday School’s dance department recitals were the most beloved of all Upper School gatherings, an occasion that brought out the very rowdiest in the all-female student body at the southern prep school both Shaina and I attended. Even the most rogue of plaid-clad girls chose to abandon half-smoked cigarettes in the parking lot rather than miss the dance assembly. People made posters to wave in the air; cheering between pieces was not only inevitable, but somehow allowed. Shaina seemed to me the center of every dance, the youngest in the most advanced class since her ninth grade year. She was graceful and elegant, and I was overwhelmed with pride to claim her as my own. We had been in school together every year of my life, save for those when she advanced to a new school one year ahead of me, first high school and then again to college. I had admired Shaina from a distance for as long as I could recall; the summer before my first year at Hockaday, we became friends and I admired her up close. Traipsing along the path Shaina had just prior paved was never my intention but always my fate, and we developed the deepest, most intuitive sort of bond as a result. For an only child who had always longed for the ties of sisterhood, sitting in a Hockaday dance assembly felt like home. While Joan Acocella was not writing about Shaina, she could have been: “On the stage, particularly when they are moving to music, [dancers] can seem to us a dream of the perfect physical life, in which the body is capable of saying all that needs to be said”. In the fall of my junior year at Washington University, Shaina asked me to write a piece from which she could draw inspiration and incorporate into the Senior Thesis she would choreograph for the spring. Here was my chance to swiftly move from admiring observer to inspired collaborator; alternately full of humility, skepticism and pride, I began an attempt to capture in poetry the theme that Shaina had taken as her subject—that shift between our mode of expression when we leave the self-abandoned freedom of being alone and enter into the company of others. One of my oldest secrets is this: I feel a raw longing when watching Shaina dance, a jealousy fueled by both bottomless admiration and my own
self-perceived lack of grace. The way in which she communicates through her body invariably reminds me of the power people hold over one another, and also the constant threat of failure to say what we need. In The Last Life author Claire Messud argues that, “Words meaningless though they might ring, as wrongly as we may interpret them, are the only missiles with which we are equipped, which we can lob across the uncharted terrain between our souls.” Claire clearly never saw Shaina dance. To anyone who watches her move, it is clear that through arches and leaps, Shaina lobs something meaningful across the terrain between souls, implicating her audience in a gesture of self. Her invitation to collaborate contained within it the world of my aspirations and concerns for reconciling my own disconnect between body and mind with her absolute mastery over it. I engaged my premise as one takes to the battlefield, projecting confidence while feeling none; Shaina’s thesis seemed primed for dance and lost on words. I tried to pinpoint moments when I felt most honest: writing in a journal because I have thought of two words which, when paired together, sound smooth, or staccato, cool like jazz or wild as a riff. I had recently devoured my birthday gift from Shaina, Annie Dillard’s The Maytrees, and was drowning in prose so poetic and lush I could cry: “He hauled lines of poetry like buried barbed wire with his bare hands.” And I thought Yes, it is so. I realized I had to envision a world through the dancer’s conversing form. I considered the tree that falls in the forest: what if no one hears? Does it still sound? If no audience is listening, does the cliché count? Do gestures still count, our presence still matter, if we have no one there to respond? I dreamed of Shaina in fiery costume—ballet skirt of orange and red, pink tights, bare feet— dancing in my forest. No audience, no critics, a ballet simply for ballet’s sake. Without anyone to clap, critique or comment, did her art risk losing something of its life? Without any pressure from outside, I wondered, might not some more meaningful understanding of the self be gained? 29
Despite years of participating in writing workshops, I struggled with the anticipation of my own vulnerability as I progressed toward something to share with Shaina and, by extension, her audience. I hoped that my small “Modern Dance” poem conveyed this duality: both the delight and alarm of being revealed, the fear of slipping dancers recognize and push through because of the possible rewards waiting on the other end. Modern Dance 1. A Body Swiftly Glides across dust floors. Breathes, Canopy of limbs in all directions— Music amidst debris. Arc of triumph in a bow Toes swept and sweeping, Pleasure unaware Echoing every curve. 2. A Voice Swept and sweeping, Glances off a shoulder Shadows. Negative space Conscience meets critique. Cacophony or perfection, Apples on sultry tongues Delight and alarm. Toe tips scuttle, Traces of juice pool. The fear of slipping.
“Modern Dance” felt like Shaina, reminded me of her dancing, the delicacy of her poise and grace. But it was not sufficient; it did not capture what I increasingly recognized as my own interpretation of the premise, which had less to do with conversation and more to do with perception. I ventured to write myself into contrast with Shaina without apology or inhibition. Sometimes I want to scream. 30
To a mirror / a man / an emotion: My echo. Ceilings closing in, Laundry thrown to the wind, Window sliding softly down & Clanging shut. The curve of my back— A sand dune sinking low. Sometimes I drown in inflection. But a voice / an occasion / a touch: My skin. Mattress heaving sultry sighs, Canvas tilted on the wall, A lily in a pot opened wide. Folded like a question mark— My writhing body stills. I was anxious the day I presented my poems to Shaina, not because I did not trust her with my words, but because I knew that once passed off they entered into a different world, one not sheltered by the pretense of Workshop. I realized I would need a new self-assuredness, an unapologetic claim that what I am giving you is art: I am The Writer to your dancing. First Position: demi-plié The sun shined in through the windows of the Rosemeade Recreation Center as girls in tights and pink shoes posed in first position, second position, then third. I was nine and trying, attempting to curve my arms into a smooth circle, one without elbows jutting in all directions. There was Mary Beth Cagle and Joanna No-Last-Name (more important was that she was thirteen and wore a bra, its thin nude-colored straps teasing out from beneath her black leotard). Miss Kay Lynn had likely insisted I curve my arms many times during the seven years of my dance tenure, yet I remember only this last one. I could not make my arms, full of elbows and joints, form a rounded circle, nor could I keep the tip of my tongue from sticking out as my concentration on this task increased. The tutu had unraveled. Graceless and poorly mannered, I bid my ballet slippers goodbye.
I left dance, but dance would not leave me. What no one tells you when you hang up the leotard is that dancing will be everywhere: Bar Mitzvahs, high school dances, parties your first year of college where you wonder if a drink might justify the shifting and jerking which have become your signature moves. How I longed for it to be sexy, in a masterful, conscious way. I could not imagine how any dance critic might find it demeaning to characterize modern dance as primitive, sexual, and Dionysian. Far from an insult, these descriptors struck me as celebratory cries. What dedicated dancer waves and moves without a deep understanding of the history of modern dance, without knowledge of technique and years of training? Far from ignorant in her body, she is powerful, in control of her sexuality to the most precise degree. Only through discipline and trust in herself can the dancer develop the means for modern dance’s magnificent release. The Dionysian must be a consequence of careful study. I wished so much to experience this paradox: the dancer releasing her energies with a grand, perhaps even violent, gesture of self through knowledge of and confidence in her body. Martha Graham called it contract and release—a release only the body, in its intrinsic fusion of outer and inner, might realize. How did I dance before my reservations arose, when everything was to gain and I had no pride to lose? To the child who dances not for grace but for fun, the stage is a world of endless chance; to a girl who has lost touch with that naïveté, for whom movement is characterized by an acute awareness of all that grace which she lacks, even a bedroom mirror provides ample opportunity to fail. And yet, though that gust of self-release rushing out through arms and toes eludes her, the echo of it all must somewhere remain endlessly swaying in her limbs, an afterimage displaced but not gone. Second Position: demi-plié I should not have been surprised to happen upon tango night at Dunn Brothers’ Coffee one Texas night so hot even the Cicadas hummed with melancholy. An oasis of cool, Dunn Brothers’ always pulsed with the business of living and doing. And
yet it was a thrill nonetheless to learn from the barista that tango night, a monthly occurrence drawing a loyal and regular crowd, was upon us. Lights dimmed to just candle wicks, speakers in back keeping the beat, I felt anxious and exhilarated as I found a seat, an intruder, uninvited. With each twist of the tangoers’ torsos and elegant taps of the heel I grew ever more mesmerized, each stomp reverberating in my chest. The pairings appeared loose and spirits appeared high, couples swapping in and out as though two songs danced with the same partner would be to deny one’s body a vital breath of air. I assumed there was an instructor—certainly people cannot intuit how to move in such a way—but it was difficult to ascertain. While the men of the group were ostentatiously dressed, I found the women most captivating. The graceful female with hips that whipped in simultaneous contradiction to her still torso; the petite figure in suede platform boots, her nimble and sweeping body following her partner with ease; the youthful red-head who, though stiffer than the others, held her partner’s gaze with conviction. The shades and sounds blended as smells do; the bodies balanced in perfect geometry, angles aligning and sliding in time. I observed from the well-lit front half of the shop where business continued uninterrupted, tea cradled in my hands as I replied to a barefoot man with whom I was obliged to sit. I skimmed the occasional paragraph in my book, though all I wanted was to watch. Though I was aware that no one at tango night, chatty tablemate aside, paid me much mind, I felt anxious and excited and tempted by the thought—the scandalous, seductive, terrifying thought—that perhaps I would be asked to dance. *** Lean limbs loosen up: arms are raising and stretching, reaching over sides, brushing the floor. Bare feet patter everywhere: at the back of the room in compact circles, miniaturizing a dance through small beats; in a cluster of bodies refreshing one another on the moves sorted out weeks ago and refined over time; in the center of the studio, absent mindedly because moving is simply a vital 31
function of life. Sounds ricochet: skin drags across hardwood floors, joints crack, heels land, fabric slides on the ground. The motions, sounds and smells of Shaina’s rehearsal blend seamlessly; I, on the other hand, am quite conspicuous. As I try to appear effortless, sitting on the floor without leaning back on my arms and struggling as my back immediately begins to ache, I am aware of the stark contrast I pose to this room of women with cores strong and postures erect. Yet they do not notice me, or choose not to, intent instead on their own disciplined forms. Each of the six choreographers rehearsing here has her own style, variations on a modern dance aesthetic I do not much comprehend. I find myself inhaling deeply, transported by the smell of bare feet. Each grouping will dance for the rest, presenting works in progress for encouragement and critique. My body stills / My body stills / Dissolve, dissolve / Step / Stepping on cracks / Still. How nonchalantly Shaina’s group dances my phrases; how seamlessly they weave word and curve in our dance. I scribble notes, coveting my role as coconspirator, thrilled to be invited into this intimate place, though I am still sorting out just where I fit. While her father wrote Finnegans Wake, Lucia danced circles around James Joyce’s scratching hand, “…the writing of the pen, the writing of the body becom[ing] a dialogue of artists, performing and counterperforming, the pen, the limbs writing away.” Am I James crafting or Lucia spinning dizzily around? Is Shaina a recipient of my phrases or the creator of new terms? As bodies perform, my writing performs; one medium breathing new life into the next. I realize my words and I are safe in the rehearsal studio with these women who have art in their muscles, relationships between sound and shape in their bones. It is less about me here than them, their movements becoming the essential thing, the only thing, in a room lit by mirrors and illuminated by bodies radiant with truth. Fourth Position: demi-plié Among its many lasting gifts, The Hockaday School bestowed upon me Mrs. Orlovsky, an English teacher who paused her ninety-minute class each day 32
to lead students in deep breathing and warrior pose amid closely packed tables and chairs. For those ten minutes—and then, somehow, for all remaining minutes in the day—our bodies were drawn into intimate contact with our minds, narrative-descriptive essays becoming part of our being as we rose in our seats, lifted our arms, lunged down and exhaled. Greek Mythology and Homer and creative writing merged with our physical selves under the tutelage of Mama O. If the body does not lie, then we learned from ours that literature, when it melted into the corporeal, told truth. I could not have known then how the symbiosis in this relationship would become everything for me. I now see how the honesty of communion between body and mind was what both Shaina in her project, and I, with my small but precious part, were after this whole time. *** The studio is like a cave: chairs are black; floors are black; dark curtains cover the walls, minimal overhead lighting guides people in through a low doorway. People with soft footsteps and heavy coats chatter in hushed voices as they find friends and available seats, while several stragglers sit down in the very front on mats adjacent to what will transform momentarily from floor to stage. I am nestled among close friends of my own and a boyfriend to my left, in perfect centrality to the performance space. Scanning slyly over my shoulder I see an infinite number of programs waving in the air, casually lying on laps, already fallen to the floor. I inhale deliberately and count my exhale, one to four. Outside it is March and the lightest of spring snows drifts down from the sky. Crystals linger everywhere: on doorposts, streetlamps, bushes along the sidewalks, a lacey haze descending on the parking lot as a thoughtfully draped spider’s web might. Unwrapping layers of coat, sweater, scarf, I tug casually at my shirt, attempting to cool off. I grip a program in my hand, allowing it to flip open. I lean in towards Jeff and nudge him, Look, and point to my name. “I know, very exciting!” He gives my knee a
little shake. I shrug as the lights go down. My body stills. Dissolve. The first dancer speaks and my stomach tightens. I bury my hands in my lap; glance around to see if anyone is grimacing or otherwise displeased. I consider the first time I undressed in front of a boy, my confidence tinged with hesitation, fully aware that I should not need anyone’s approval but desperately seeking it despite. Two dancers twirl about one another, interacting furiously for a moment and then slowing to still. They are partnering, a term I have learned from years of Shaina, bodies in contact with one another, each flowing effortlessly through the negative space of the other. End. One dancer removes her hands from the other, stops moving. The music stops. End / End, stop. The first dancer speaks once more as the light fades. I am anticipating Shaina’s solo—I know the performance is a duet, a solo and a quartet in this order—but still feel my stomach jump when Shaina enters alone. She looks beautiful in a grey flowing dress, black tights, and bare feet. Nameless / Nameless and folded / Folded like a question mark / Nameless. Each spoken word incites a dance phrase, establishing an echo between text and body. Shaina caves inward, a form convex in questioning; she forces an arm jarringly across her chest, down her torso, learning a body that is seemingly not hers. Sometimes I think I am real / Nameless / Connection and longing / Nameless / Sometimes I think I am real. Whether or not anyone in the audience has noted my name in the program alongside this piece, I am being revealed. With each phrase a dancer echoes, a piece of my clothing falls to the floor. So many times have I shared my writing with others and yet never have I been so exposed as now. Later I will realize that I am experiencing Shaina’s premise more intimately than ever, but for the time all I know is I am both named and nameless. A voice / An occasion / A touch / My skin. A voice, an occasion, my skin. I am glancing at Jeff out of the corner of my eye. My silhouette, my silhouette, my silhouette / Seen by another. What is he thinking? Does this matter? My silhouette / Seen by another. “So you wrote that stuff they were saying?” An-
nie, Shaina’s roommate, turns around to face me as the lights go up. “More or less, yeah.” “That’s amazing.” As I wrap my scarf around my neck, I laugh a little. Yes, I suppose it is. Fifth Position: grand plié Crouched on a miniature chair among glossy peels of apple slices and with my leg damp from a drizzle of spilled milk, I entertain light conversation with the four-year-olds; after all, it is snacktime on a Friday afternoon here at the University City Children’s Center. Following talk of macaroni necklaces and the color red, it is story time. I rush to the embroidered reading rug with everyone else, scooting around on my bottom before settling on the letter S for snail. I read aloud to the class—The Biggest Pumpkin Ever, It’s Pumpkin Time, Autumn Is For Apples—alternating picture books with Danny, the other college student visiting the pre-K room this week. About ten minutes in, little bodies start to squirm and a teacher suggests we switch to dance time. Dance time? The Disney music starts up and the kids start kicking it. I am surprised, though not in a position to question this ritual. Taking a cue from Danny, who is already popular with the girls as he swings each around on his toes, I tie my sweatshirt around my waist and start grooving. But I do mean grooving—arms above my head, head bobbing side to side, hips shaking vigorously; my tiny classmates, lost in their own fancy combinations of jumps and rolls, don’t appear to notice my spasmodic moves. My hair falls loose from its ponytail and my curls frizz out on either side of my face. I am falling in love with dance time. Halfway through a child-sung version of “Life Is a Highway,” Danny catches my shoulder, gestures that it is time to go. I crouch down to slap my fellow revelers farewell fives. Turning to leave, Danny and I notice our friends, all of whom spent the afternoon with other classes, peering at us through the room’s window. Though my instinct is to cringe, relief soon after washes over me, as it does when I finally un33
derstand the punch line of a joke. I realize that I am both not embarrassed and secretly pleased. Did anyone else have dance time today? I am twenty years old and receiving lessons from four-year olds. It would seem I have a great deal left to learn. II. The Center The experience of attending Shaina’s dance performance and watching my words gain new life through movement transforms me. In coming so close to the world I admire, I realize that I need to learn my body all over again. With a mix of anticipation and anxiety, I sign up for Intro to Modern Dance. Perhaps, in the right hands, I, too, can learn to say all that needs to be said. Shaina tries to prepare me for David, my instructor. She describes him as unconventional; she shares that even seasoned dancers are not conditioned for a session with him because his way of moving is so unlike any other. On our first day, David rouses us to recognize how much our bodies are capable of if only we can return to the fundamentals of movement, the tactility we were conscious of as toddlers when we cruised the floor on all fours. He insists that we become cognizant of the cadence of our walking, the artful movements in everyday motions, taking not one for granted. His voice is smooth, sensual and flowing; his gestures encompass sex and life and art. In introducing us to the physicality of being alive, David invites our incongruous ensemble of novices into a world I once thought reserved for someone else. We use breath to echo movement—woosh and zhaaa and PUH. The studio becomes my playground and my body a vehicle for engaging the world. I touch, explore, and delight in the same way that a child does when she discovers movement for the first time. David provides me with a second opportunity to have this most precious experience. We spend the first several weeks of the semester dancing with our eyes closed, mirrors hidden from view and bodies hidden from one another. Lying loose and limp on the cold floor, I focus on the sensation of moving rather than my perception of it. Vulnerable and shifting in inelegant ways, I release control, relinquish responsibility for the things my body might do. It feels primeval and Dionysian, tentative at first but increasingly urgent
with time. In the studio I am learning it is okay to be flawed; being human is not just acceptable but essential. The world opens up when my eyes close, tempting and reductive and revelatory. I am finding more than the press of my back down onto hardwood and the roll of my hips left and right. I surrender responsibility for how my body looks and become delightfully self-aware. *** David has a master plan for the future of movement. This plan, called The Movement Movement, is rooted in a fundamental and earnest faith in the power of bodies, and posits that every person can make movement magnificent. Among other ideas to revolutionize movement is a game David calls Dance Everything: walk with a skip every third step; remove a plate from a cabinet while spinning on one foot; shuffle sideways through a door; slide down into a chair instead of just falling. We are assigned to Dance Everything for one hour outside the studio. Our experiment can be as public or as private as we wish, as obvious or as subtle. We are required to write a response and post this to a class website. I have forgotten to Dance Everything until the day before the assignment is due and half-heartedly spend ten minutes dancing my dinner, waving an arm in the air before opening the fridge. The next day I am in a terrible mood. Because I have had many of these this semester and am growing weary of myself, I force my sulking body out to jog in the glorious midwestern autumn, my favorite season that St. Louis does to perfection. In a miniature park that is really a median in the center of a neighborhood close to campus, I spot a bench. I remember an exercise we did with a chair during David’s class that day. I jump up onto the bench, lift a leg around the back, place my hands on it, sit with great intention, and kick my legs up in the air. Something happens when I do this, surrounded by crunchy leaves and crisp air. I roll like a child in the leaves. I bend, lean, fall, and do not fix my hair when it comes loose from my bun. A car drives past; I revel on. It drives past again, more slowly, the driver staring. It’s okay, watch
me! I am the spirited nymph those Russian ballet critics were really speaking of when they watched Vaslav Nijinsky perform: “For a second the soul carries the body.” I am consumed by the sensuality of the brisk wind, the setting sun, and my body, a source of release and pleasure such that I have never experienced in this context before. *** David has been teaching us the warm-up he calls the Quadruped Evolution for several weeks now. It involves all the “movement fundamentals” we have learned this semester and is also useful as an exercise in core strength, balance and, for me, mastery over fits of dizziness. One such fundamental—counterbalance—we discovered early on. Leaning forward with our heads, we are told to kick one leg up into the air while keeping the other leg behind, nearer the ground. It is an almost-handstand. Before someone flings her leg up too forcefully, falls with a smack on her back and David cancels the exercise, I feel my body evening itself out in the air, catching itself before it falls. Of all the odd, upside down experiments we have done, this is my favorite; I can float in the air and not fall. Almost-dancing. In the Evolution warm-up, counterbalance, curve, line and the three elements of dance (space, time and energy) collide. David has developed this progression of movements, small sequences that build upon one another, with the belief that mastering simple combinations prepare the body to understand more complicated dance. We lie flat on our backs, arms and legs extended out in an X, maximizing the reach of our bodies. Henry, our dedicated accompanist, begins to count the beat on his drum. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. We curl into ourselves, one, two, three, four. We extend out with all limbs, balancing on our side and then roll onto our stomachs, five, six, seven, eight. The progression builds; we rock up to sitting, flip up and around onto all fours, experiment with falling back to the ground. By mid-semester, our Quadruped Evolution takes about fifteen minutes. Advanced
dancers like Shaina know a version twice as long, twice as fast, and infinitely more dizzying. David critiques us, offers feedback to refine our movement and make it not only practical, but pretty, too. In these moments, I realize how much dance is a part of me, was long before David patiently began coaxing it out. I recognize my faith in David’s instruction—that this will, in fact, make me a dancer—and the familiarity of such instruction as “release your neck,” though I have never personally been told to do so before. Several weeks in, my eyes are opening, and David peels back the curtains that have until this point concealed the wall-to-wall mirrors. By Vaslav, I’m dancing. Shaina and I get a kick out of doing the Quadruped Evolution together on her carpeted apartment floor one lazy Friday night mid-semester. She is exposing me to worlds we’ve yet to map out in class: a warped-speed “cyclone” version of the Quadruped Evolution with falls from standing—standing!—my classmates and I are not yet qualified to attempt. Now that I am re-becoming a dancer, I do not just admire Shaina’s movements, I try them. I recognize this arch or that slide from more basic versions I am learning in class. I am certified by David to be moving about and so I do. All over the place. She shows me a movement and I copy in earnest, allowing my body to do what it will. We are laughing so deeply it hurts. After years of sharing almost everything, Shaina and I are beginning a conversation we have never had before.
_________________________________________ Nicole Keller, a twenty-six year old “retired” teacher, lives in New York City where she works a desk job and writes both essays and fiction. Her first published essay, Learning to Dance, was featured in a recent issue of the Harvard Educational Review, and she has contributed several chapters to a forthcoming book about the role of educational theory in museum education practice, coauthored by fellow Bank Street College of Education alumni. Putting her classroom teaching experience to use, Nicole is currently working on a novel for middle grade readers. 35
Morning Storm by Caroline Misner
Sandy by Paul Weidknecht It’s the end of the island, there is no more. Land stops and sea begins in a salt mist, as baitfish run from stripers in the suds, and seagulls sweep overhead for cracked clams against purple clouds in a salmon sky. Then in the distance, farther down the coast, lights going on in that city named after the ocean, waking for the night –two worlds I remember before the October storm, and will know again.
I awake to a blue placard, ice pellets pinging on the glass of the window, trumped up and aching before it goes numb. Nothing moves in this storm. Even the winter birds have found refuge somewhere, perhaps under the eaves, burdened with ice, or among the spindles of trees. Their limbs whiten and wither, close themselves off in the pale foam. I cannot cut the candle out, or sever its stem. The flame may never rise again, a small heart soaked in tears that will harden to pearls before the wind wears itself down.
Caroline Misner was born in a country that at the time was known as Czechoslovakia. She immigrated to Canada in the summer of 1969. Her work has appeared in numerous consumer and literary journals in Canada, the USA and the UK. Her work has been nominated for the prestigious McClelland Steward Journey Prize as well as the Pushcart Prize. Her YA fantasy novel The Daughters of Eldox, Book 1: The Alicorn (Whiskey Creek Press) will be released this September. www.carolinemisner.com
The dawn has engineered this morning storm as the day uncoils in marginal breaths. I stare at a grainy nebula pasted like wax to the pane, clean and blank as untouched paper.
Paul Weidknecht’s poetry has appeared most recently in James Dickey Review, Philadelphia Stories, Poetry Salzburg Review, and The Comstock Review. He read his poem “Nya Sverige” before King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden during the 375th Anniversary Jubilee in celebration of the landing of the Swedes and Finns at Wilmington, Delaware. His short fiction has appeared in Rosebud, Shenandoah, and The Los Angeles Review, among others. He is a member of the Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC and has recently completed a collection of short stories, Fly in a Cube of Amber: Stories. www.paulweidknecht.com. 36
ÂŠ Photo by Chris Willis (CC)
Book Spotlight June 18, 2009
This collection of stories takes place in mountain towns across the east and the west–both sides of the divide. Some chapters are funny lift line stories about meeting interesting people and some stories tell tales of living in a tough, arid landscape. But all the stories are filled with poetry and love of place. Kristen finds forever friends in these places, learns how to ski bumps in western powder, and becomes a triathlete. Look for Contienetal Quotient by Kristen Lodge on October 18th wherever books are sold including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Also available in Kindle, Nook, and Kobo editions. Cannot wait? Visit Homebound Publications’ estore to reserve your copy and we will ship your order today!
I drive 1,100 miles to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho by myself. I have a lot of time to think. I worry my car might break down. If my car does break down, I need to be a cold, decision making machine and get it fixed. I begin to think that this will be my Ironman mantra as well. If something breaks, fix it. No crying, no emotion, just fix it. I stop to get gas and check the oil. The oil is so low that it doesn’t even register on the dipstick. I surprise myself by not panicking. I walk into the store, buy two quarts of oil, and pour it into the right spot. Done. Fixed. This may be what Ironman is like. I call my sister from the highway. I start to cry as I tell her that my car is burning oil, I might not make it to Idaho, and say out loud for the first time: what if I don’t finish. I’m such a drama queen, however, my sister, Kim, always makes me feel better. In a minute she turns it around for me, like she always does. She says, “ You have one job to do, to finish the Ironman. Don’t worry about anything else. Just keep feeding your car oil.” She talks me down off the ledge. Why do I do this? Why do I push my body and mind to compete in such a grueling race like Ironman? I think there is a part of me that is reserved and shy. When I sign up for events like this it forces me out of my comfort zone and out of the sheltered world I’ve chosen to live in – the rural mountains of Colorado. I remember the feeling of crossing all those running races and triathlon finish lines the past two years. I remember all the hours training and running in the snow. I know, and must keep remembering, there is nothing in this world that matches this feeling. Plus, the training and preparation for big events makes all my clothes fit better and reduces my addiction to chocolate, ice cream, and watching too much television. The most important thing I have learned during this journey—nothing is impossible if you train for it. I think of all of this as my trip odometer hits 600 miles into the trip. I can do this. 39
Make the Journey With Us
Independent Publisher of Contemplative Titles
The feature poet of the issue is William Kelley Woolfitt. Our fiction selections are Tea-Time at the Train Station by Elizabeth Hoyle and Ev...