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FALL / WINTER

2020

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TIDAL POOLS, MARGARET DRIES ACRYLIC ON CANVAS


CONTENTS Letter from the Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

POETRY James King . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Something to Drink To 10 Emily Hermann . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Glimpse 13 Danielle Zipkin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .American Well 14 In Awe of Brooklyn Ivy 28 Ann Pedone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #10 19 David Baker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Ocean 18 Andy Motz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Earth Bits 20 Evening Walk 20 Cheriese Francoise Anderson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Preach to Me 23 Nancy Cook . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gulf Oysters are Dying 24 Michael Dobkin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Unanswered 33 Emotional Language 33 Stench 33 Language of Flowers 34 Like a Rose 34 Jack Pryor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . August Land 36 Kevin McIlvoy . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Fit of Some Things Against Something 43 Luanne Castle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Superbloom 44 Aaron Sandberg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Only Church That Is Is 47 Mary Anna Kruch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Gathering of Blackbirds 48 Randy Gerritse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Winter’s Breath 51 M. Cyntha Cheung . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ecdysis 55 Subhaga Crystal Bacon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Walking Wingless 56 Jo Ward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ode to Materiality 59 The Forest 59 Priyanka Gupta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pond in Giverny 63 Indie Rey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Three Haiku 64 Frances Boyle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Stone Solid 65 Mary Buchinger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Germination 67 Stelios Mormoris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Unrequited Love 68 Erika Stromerson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Orange 70 Katie Richards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Golden Hour 71 Beck Anson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . March 74 Alex Fyffe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Three Haiku 77

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FA L L / W I N T E R

2020

ISSUE

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ISSN: 2693-5864 (Online) ISSN: 2693-5856 (Print) Š2020 Humana Obscura, an imprint of Bri Bruce Productions. All Rights Reserved. All rights to all original artwork, photography, and written works belongs to the respective owners as stated in the attributions. 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. Founding Editor-in-Chief BRI BRUCE Cover: Lighthouse by J.T. Bruce Back: Palos Verdes by Andy Hann

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Micaela Edelson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Trailing Standing Charlene Stegman Moskal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Yucca J. R. Rainer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Funeral Lydia Glover . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Blue Skies Tide Pools Revelations John Martone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Unfinished Jill Fuller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . On the Day Mary Oliver Died

78 78 80 81 83 83 83 84 87

PROSE Kathleen Deep . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What Lies Beneath Nick O’Brien . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Northern California Maggie Maize . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Panning for Life in the Sierras Angela Shen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Night Talks

29 38 60 88

ART Margaret Dries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tidal Pools 2 Coastal Break 16 Summerstorm 39 The Revolution 72 Coastal Mist 79 Caroline Knickmeier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Everyone, Everywhere 9 Biophilia #9 32 Kyra Schmidt . . . . . Algae, The Landings, Savannah, Georgia #6 11 Algae, Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia #4 31 Algae, The Landings, Savannah Georgia #4 42 Jordo Stiff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Monolith No. 10 14 Mega Ritual No. 2 88 William Bybee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Longing 17 Holding Strong 41 Sol Anzorena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . VÍnculo 19 Stephen Rybacki . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . When the Sun Goes Down 21 Fyke 50 J. T. Bruce . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Front Cover Heavy Seas 22 Mirage 75 Drowning in Orbit 91

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ABOUT HUMANA OBSCURA Humana Obscura is an independent, bi-annual literary magazine that seeks to publish new and emerging writers and artists. As our name suggests—“obscured human”—we focus on work where the human element is concealed but not entirely absent, aiming to revive the genre of nature-centric poetry while providing a platform for new and emerging voices. Humana Obscura’s mission is to publish and promote the best work of today’s new voices and talents. Our intention is to inspire readers and enrich their lives while providing an inclusive space for elevating the voices and creative work of our contributors. As our name hints, we strive to publish work where the human element is removed from the forefront, focusing more on our natural surroundings. We’re after work that examines the relationship we have to those surroundings and to one another while illuminating the struggles of the human condition in relation to the natural world. We tend to favor work that is unexpected, real, evocative, yet subtle, with strong imagery and sense of place.

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SUBSCRIBE Caroline Lundqvist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crassostrea 25 Whitney River . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Moon Shell 20 26 Moon Shell 27 27 Kathleen Deep . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reverie 28 Nostalgia 62 After the Rain 76 Neil Berkowitz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flowers on My Desk 35 Living Room 66 Jocelyn Ulevicus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Water Series, No. 3 37 Joshua Hagler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Epistle 45 The Visitor 46 Andy Hann . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Venice Beach, CA #1 52 Venice Beach, CA #2 54 Back Cover Amy Aiken . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Willow 57 Anne Mavor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Encircle Me 59 Emily Gillcrist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Poles 61 Gust 85 Lilian Shtereva . . . . . . Quartz Pink in Green Paradise 69 Vian Borchert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Splashing Waves 82 Inferno in the Sky 86

Subscribe to Humana Obscura online at www.humanaobscura.com SUBMISSIONS Humana Obscura accepts poetry, prose and short fiction, and art. Submissions are considered on a rolling basis and can be sent through the publication’s online submission manager at www.humanaobscura.com/submit. INQUIRIES For questions regarding submissions, or for general inquiries, please contact: editor@humanaobscura.com CONNECT Twitter: @humanaobscura Instagram: @humanaobscura

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COVER ARTIST J. T. BRUCE J. T. Bruce is a filmmaker and motion artist from the Santa Cruz Mountains in Northern California. Since graduating from the film program at San Diego State University in 2009, Bruce has worked as a freelancer in nearly every aspect of film production, specializing in animation, motion graphics, and digital art. He recently completed his feature film directorial debut with the award-winning documentary The Devil’s Road: A Baja Adventure. Check out his work at www.subjectruin.net or on Instagram @jtbruce.

FEATURED POET MICHAEL DOBKIN Michael Dobkin is a poet and artist from Brooklyn, New York. His background is in creative direction and design, and he has had the opportunity to support a diverse portfolio of fashion designers and beauty brands throughout his career—before turning his attention to poetry and creative writing. With a BFA in Fashion Design from the esteemed Parsons School of Design, storytelling through various mediums is embedded in his everyday life. Currently, Dobkin is the Founder and Creative Director for his fine jewelry brand, Rosey West, as well as a freelance poet and writer. Follow him on Instagram @michaeldobkin.

FEATURED ARTIST MARGARET DRIES Margaret Dries is a contemporary abstract painter who lives and works in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. A native of Wisconsin, her colorful paintings translate nature onto the canvas with active brushstrokes and bold colors in both large and smaller works. As the artist explains, “I live in the mountains, by the river and near the ocean so there is an endless source of natural inspiration.” Dries earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in fine art from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and has worked as a graphic artist, illustrator, and art director for over thirty years. Follow Dries on Twitter @RMargo195 and Instagram @sunsethillstudio.

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LETTER from the EDITOR Readers; It’s with great pleasure that I write this letter in the inaugural issue of Humana Obscura. In the making of this magazine, I was often asked what my inspiration was, and what the name meant. I’ll take this letter as an opportunity to provide insight into both. In doing so, I hope to set the stage for future issues but want to note that I hope the publication evolves, further finding its niche with the help of its contributors—and because to change is to improve. Born during the shelter-in-place orders imposed by the global coronavirus pandemic, Humana Obscura was built on a foundation devoid of the human, with the kind of creativity and self-discovery that spawn out of solitude, and out of the feelings of unrest and the despair that it can bring. It’s often been iterated throughout history, by poets, artists, and philosophers alike, that a great deal of creative work has arisen out of solitude. “Without great solitude,” Pablo Picasso once said, “no serious work is possible.” No stranger to solitude, I once spent 28 straight days alone in a small, one-room cabin in the remote forests of Northern California. Though, in retrospect, this was a small amount of time in comparison to the implications of the current pandemic. This self-imposed isolation became the basis of my creative work in the years following. I wrote an entire collection of poetry during that stay, along with a short memoir detailing the day-by-day account of a writer at work, and made headway on the FALL/WINTER 2020 ISSUE 1

Humana Obscura was born to capture, curate, and share the experience of others and their relationship to their environments, but in a way that was not anthropocentric and not focused inward.

seemingly lifelong project of a novel I had the idea to write when I was a teen. Then, it was as though I had run out of things to say. The well went dry. I took a hiatus from my personal writing to further my career and focus on other creative endeavors not involving writing, like helping produce a documentary film and helping other writers on their journey to becoming a published author. Only until in the throes of such a turbulent time in our history, when I was forced indoors day after day and

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away from others and my usual routines, did I feel that familiar resurgence in creative stimulus. I was craving to create, to express myself in ways I knew how—perhaps as a means to cope with the violence and uncertainty of the time. I was reminded of the studies of the effects of isolation on the creative brain, and if what comes comes after solitude-induced introspection and periods of self-discovery is a looking outward to what is beyond us—to others, to the places around us, to the larger meaning of it all. I got to work. The early months in shelter-inplace were personally prolific, and I wrote an entire full-length collection of poems and began working on a second, yet still needed more. I sought to connect with other creatives who may have experienced similar surges in creativity. Thus, on the precipice of emerging from solitude, Humana Obscura was born to capture, curate, and share the experience of others and their relationship to their environments, but in a way that was not anthropocentric and not focused inward. Rather, Humana Obscura provides a hint of how we emerge from solitude with a new appreciation for our natural world. And, well, I’m an admirer of nature poetry. Much of my personal work is inspired by nature, and in today’s world I feel this is a genre becoming more obscure, its readers and writers waning fewer. At the soul of this publication, I hope to curate written vignettes of the human experience with the backdrop of breathtaking art that lives in the spaces of the readers’ interpretation. Humana Obscura’s mission is to publish and promote the best work of today’s new voices and talents. The intention is to inspire readers and enrich their lives while providing an inclusive space for elevating the voices and creative work of our contributors. As our name hints, we strive to publish work where the human element is removed from

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the forefront—obscured—focusing more on our natural surroundings. We seek work that examines the relationship we have to those surroundings and to one another while illuminating the struggles of the human condition in relation to the natural world. Thank you to each of the contributors in this issue. Without you, this would not be possible. Readers, I truly hope you enjoy this first issue— and that you’ll return again for future issues. Sincerely,

Bri Bruce Founding Editor-in-Chief

Award-winning author and Pushcart Prize nominee, California poet Bri Bruce (B. L. Bruce) has been called the “heiress of Mary Oliver.” With a bachelor’s degree in literature and creative writing from the University of California at Santa Cruz, her work has appeared in dozens of anthologies, magazines, and literary publications, including The Wayfarer Journal, Canary, The Remnant Archive, Northwind Magazine, The Soundings Review, and The Monterey Poetry Review, among many others. Bruce is the recipient of the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Poetry Prize and the PushPen Press Pendant Prize for Poetry, as well as the author of three books: The Weight of Snow, 28 Days of Solitude, and The Starling’s Song. Her highly praised debut collection The Weight of Snow was the 2014 International Book Awards poetry category finalist and the 2014 USA Best Book Awards poetry category finalist. The Starling’s Song was released in February of 2016, and was selected as Honorable Mention in the Pacific Rim Book Festival. In addition to her writing pursuits, Bruce is also a painter and photographer, with work that has been featured in The Sun Magazine, Near Window, and others.

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EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE, CAROLINE KNICKMEIER

CAROLINE KNICKMEIER is an artist and writer dedicated to questioning everything and creating work that encourages new ways for growth. She is artist in resident for a rainforest reclaimation project raising funds to convert pasture land to secondary growth. Her work considers the interconnection of all life and asks always how to problem solve through critical thinking and design to spread values. Learn more at www. carolineknickmeier.com FALL/WINTER 2020 ISSUE 1

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SOMETHING TO DRINK TO JAMES KING Where earth and house meet sprouts your garden; rows of zinnias, forsythias. You invited the spider in to spin her web, catch intruders in the interim between germination and growth, and she has not left. Wearing a dingy bathrobe, you sit in the grass drinking medicinal wine, and the spider sips the dew. Your fingers are content but inevitably sore, especially in the soft parts between knuckle and bone. Everything is still with energy. A pair of crickets rub their legs on each other’s bodies and throw their love letters at the moon; the moon throws them back, content to glow alone. To you and the spider and the zinnias she grants what little light she did not stow away from the sun; the moon tells you that she no longer wants the love of lunatics. You can drink to that.

JAMES KING is the recipient of the 2020 Academy of American Poets Prize from Dartmouth College. His work has appeared in the Stonefence Review, Paperbark Literary Magazine, and The Foundationalist. When he is not writing, King enjoys doodling, playing bass guitar, and swimming. He lives in Danville, New Hampshire, with his family and two dogs. KYRA SCHMIDT is a visual artist based in Roanoke, Virginia. She received her MFA in photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design and is the Programs Coordinator for the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University. Schmidt has exhibited nationally and internationally, including at The SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; The House of Lucie, Los Angelas, CA; Candela Gallery, Richmond, VA; Edition One, Santa Fe, NM; Gallery 621, Tallahassee, FL; the Lushui Photography Festival, Lishui, China. Her work as been published in Aint-Bad Magazine, BETA Developments in Photography, and as a 2017 Top 50 Photographer by Critical Mass. Schmidt’s first handmade monograph was published with Dust Collective in Fall 2019.

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ALGAE, THE LANDINGS, SAVANNAH, GEORGIA #6, KYRA SCHMIDT ILFORD FIBER MATTE (PULLED THROUGH ALGAE WATER, EXPOSED FOR 1 MONTH, UNFIXED) SILVER GELATIN LUMEN PRINT, 8’’ X 10’’

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MONOLITH NO. 10, JORDO STIFF ACRYLIC ON CANVAS, 6’ X 3’

JORDO STIFF is an American painter who’s work focuses on the saturation of color to generate dynamic movement within each piece he produces. Devoid of any recognizable subject matter; each painting relies on the title of the work and the rhythmic polarity each color presents to tell a story, using literal quips, of personal experience that pay homage to post-war abstraction as if it were set in today’s seemingly perma-war climate. The mode of each piece creates contemplative environs for which its viewer can find self-reflection and awareness while being shielded by vibrant color from the much larger picture.

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A GLIMPSE EMILY HERMANN

I see a moon through a window. It’s big and bright and covers the whole space. The edges of the window are streaked— yellow and deep blue. It’s just an opening. The window, it’s just an opening. A rectangular block through which I view this one moment— clear as can be, inside my mind.

EMILY HERMANN wrote a poem every day in 2017 and subsequently published a collection of those poems as her first book, Year of the Bean. With a background in Biology and Science Communication, Hermann integrates scientific observation and some technical language into her poetry, blending the beauty of art and science. Currently, Hermann works for a global environmental non-profit to fight food waste and conserve our natural resources. You can find her book, Year of the Bean, available on Amazon in both digital and print editions.

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AMERICAN WELL DANIELLE ZIPKIN

I am asking you to unshed your spark and rot. Follow me through the loud misunderstoods. Trail the threaded testimonies back to their honest looms. Ripple your reflection and drink. Backhand dry your own mouth. You know how light feels in your lungs, how breath is both engine and gun in any laned race. I am asking you to quick-clip the vines worming up the cherry tree, and weave that green into a righteous dam that wells the scum-mouthed speech into a swamp that never reaches America’s loamy lawn. To care for the body is to tender its weakest places. I am asking you to muddy your belly, to undermine this stolen home, to tunnel through foundation and grave, just us and the promise of a country lapping, finally, from a clear well.

DANIELLE ZIPKIN lives in Brooklyn and teaches humanities to middle schoolers. When she isn’t teaching or writing poetry or quarantining, she enjoys traveling on credit card points, scuba diving shipwrecks, choreographing moody dances, eating street food, and posting updates about her plants. Follow her on Instagram @dalyssaz. WILLIAM BYBEE is a two-year graduate student at Idaho State University. His research has been centered around his love of abstract art. Abstraction has given him a way to talk about subjects that matter to him, but not force his thoughts on a viewer that is not ready to receive this message. Through abstraction, Bybee is exploring the world of codes and the world of Queer Abstraction. Some of the topics in his work is based in the concept that we as humans are all the same but put together in different patterns.

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LONGING, 2019, WILLIAM BYBEE INDIA INK ON GESSO BOARD, 28’’ X 35’’

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COASTAL BREAK, MARGARET DRIES ACRYLIC ON CANVAS

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# 10 ANN PEDONE From Twenty-five Long Songs

How strange it is/the way one body moves inside another/never again are you the same/impossible to hold onto the/idea of the self when you are spread out/like this/the longing is to be pure/but that’s not what you get/ take this/this is what I have saved/what I have gathered/inside of me/ it belongs to neither of us /it is the remnants of something you feel /in the swell of the sea.

ANN PEDONE is an independent scholar and writer who graduated from Bard College with a degree in English Literature. She has a master’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature from UC Berkeley. Pedone is the author of the chapbook The Bird Happened. More recently her work has recently appeared in Ornery Quarterly, Riggwelter, Main Street Rag, Poet head, Cathexis Northwest, and The Wax Paper, among others. Pedone lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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THE OCEAN DAVID BAKER

Submerged to the waist in surf, swaying resolutely like the heron walks against the wind.

DAVID BAKER is a poet, professional reading educator, and brand new father living in St. Petersburg, Florida, with his wife and newborn son. He has forthcoming work in the Fall 2020 issue of Modern Haiku, and recently published work in Horror Senryu Journal. SOL ANZORENA is an Argentinian artist who has studied Fine Arts in Spain (UGR), Poland (UAP), and Brazil (UFBA). The main theme of her work is the reparation of the human connection with nature through music and art. She’s currently based in Kansas City, United States.

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VÍNCULO, FROM SERIES THE THIN LINES IN BETWEEN US, SOL ANZORENA WATERCOLOR ON PAPER

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TWO POEMS ANDY MOTZ

EARTH BITS When it feels like anything is everything and everything is nothing, notice the poppies opening courageously. Look up at the tree branches growing wildly. And remember, these beautiful earth bits were in the works deep within the vast darkness before they felt the wide warmth of the sun.

EVENING WALK I almost didn’t see the extravagant and joyous flower because it matched the color of the sky. It gently reminded me that the world isn’t only burning but also glowing.

ANDY MOTZ is an independent filmmaker and writer living in Los Angeles, California, whose works have been featured in various festivals and publications. Motz is constantly exploring nature, beauty, and activism throughout his works. STEPHEN RYBACKI is a mixed media artist working in Southern California. His desire to create derives from surface textures and natural processes. Specifically he has a keen interest in natural oxidation: controlling it as a medium, its variances on surfaces, and involving “rust” with mixed media. Often times a found object initiates his work, by incorporating an object directly, imprinting, or as an inspiration to a composition. His process typically includes many layers of media, creating textures the viewer can feel.

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WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN, STEPHEN RYBACKI OXIDIZED PAPER AND MIXED MEDIA ON WOOD, 24’’ X 24’’

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HEAVY SEAS, J.T. BRUCE DIGITAL ART

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PREACH TO ME CHERIESE FRANCOISE ANDERSON

Preach to me oh water of the way I ought to be show me with gentle hands how to move to roll in and out with seamless grace as you do sing to me your song of embracing the turmoil on your surface while harbouring such sweet serenity underneath for I have feared your deepest waters

the same way I fear my own reluctant to wade beyond the point my toes can touch safety in reach so will you teach this drifting soul not to tame my wild waves but instead to fall in with them drowning myself in the peace of my own deepest waters

CHERIESE FRANCOISE ANDERSON found her poetic voice as a child in a little lock-and-key diary. She discovered early in life the therapeutic release that writing her thoughts and feelings allowed. As she grew so did her love for and creativity with writing, from short stories to love letters and poetry. It wasn’t, however, until 2020 that she found her confidence in her voice to start sharing her writing with the world via Instagram. Since then she has shared her heartfelt, earthy, and spiritually in-tune prose and poetry daily, always staying true to her true voice and not being swayed by trending themes. She is inspired by her own personal, mental, and spiritual journey as well as deeply moved by nature and the beauty that lies within it and all of us.

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GULF OYSTERS ARE DYING NANCY COOK

I marvel at the mystery: a cave small enough to fit inside my palm – timeless the ebb and surge of oceans sweeping through, rock ’n rolling: a creation story I love each Shrove mask, mouth in a pearly pout, temptingly creviced It’s what we all crave: some dark hollow, hint of iridescence

soft white gelid tongue, reaching climax taste of salt and brine – But now the hosts are vulnerable the sacrament is dying: spillways, fresh-water flush, have released caged storms – Torrents of record snows & century rains, rush tranquil oyster beds. I mourn the loss of transgendered beauty, its perfect regeneration

NANCY COOK runs “The Witness Project,” a program of free community writing workshops in Minneapolis to enable creative work by underrepresented voices. In 2019, she was the Fermanaugh & Omagh International Artist-in-Residence in Northern Ireland where she worked with people affected by the sectarian conflict known as “The Troubles.” Some of her newest work can be found in The Tangerine, Existere, and the Michigan Quarterly Review. CAROLINE CHRISTINA LUNDQVIST is an artist based in Stockholm, Sweden. Twelve years ago, Lundqvist was completely taken by the beauty and fragility of oysters, which led her to start depicting them in watercolor. See more of her work at http://www.carolinechristina.com.

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CRASSOSTREA, CAROLINE LUNDQVIST WATERCOLOR, 58’’ X 76’’

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MOON SHELL 20, WHITNEY RIVER GRAPHITE ON PAPER, 4’’ X 4’’ WHITNEY RIVER graduated from Yale University in 1995. Since then she has shown extensively throughout New England, and her drawings and paintings are represented in many private and corporate collections. She is inspired by the natural beauty that surrounds her in Maine, both in the woods and by the ocean. She uses oil on canvas and graphite on paper to render found natural objects with great detail and precision. The simplicity of her compositions emphasizes the way the organic forms interact with each other and with the space around them. Separated from their origins and presented without distraction, the viewer can focus on the individual objects, and appreciate them not only for what they are, but for what they might represent.

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MOON SHELL 27, WHITNEY RIVER GRAPHITE ON PAPER, 4’’ X 4’’

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REVERIE, KATHLEEN DEEP MIXED MEDIA

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WHAT LIES BENEATH KATHLEEN DEEP

The snow exhales a slow moan as each step compacts the powder beneath my feet; the shimmering sugar-like covering pressing into a silky dense slush. Marbled hues of greys and stained whites blend together in fluid forms where slush and snow are most deep. Soggy, decrepit blades of tall grasses suffocated from winters cold and heavy snow lay underneath, exposed only in areas most shallow. Few plants dead and bare manage to stay erect in the wintry chill, whose twigs and stalks peak through to the surface. The lack of footprints prove the area to be unobserved as of late, where surface textures here are most prominent around the base of trees; small dimples and domes form from the fallen snow accumulated on the limbs above, bare, skeletal and thin as they now exist. In this state, it is easy to see the water that lay just behind them, no longer hidden by lush foliage.

exposes nothing that may exist in the depths underneath. As the season progresses, the ice will slowly close the window, hiding the dark abyss until spring.

The water is dark and still. A beautiful organic shaped skirt of ice borders the pool, revealing a small window of liquid in the center. In here is darkness. A glow of light from above reveals the smooth texture of the water’s surface, yet

KATHLEEN DEEP is a writer, mixed media artist, and analog photographer whose creation of image making include merging alternative photographic processes, mixed media, raw materials and hybrid workflows. Her imagery derives from her walks in the wetlands and surrounding landscape. Samples of Deep’s ongoing creative writing prose, To Slow the Sinking, have been included in various web and book publications, and can be seen hand written in some of her artworks. FALL/WINTER 2020 ISSUE 1

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IN AWE OF BROOKLYN IVY DANIELLE ZIPKIN

who seeds in compact soil and sprouts regardless, who, belly in the shade, lifts tendrils sun bound, who translates grout like braille thumbing her blueprint, who compasses glass panes with fork tongued wonder, whose fingernails hoist slow her body taller, whose legs, many and much, stay wrapped through rainstorms, who cracks the concrete curb thirsting for root space, and teaches me to hold stone with soft arms.

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ALGAE, SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, VIRGINIA #4, KYRA SCHMIDT NEW ORIENTAL COLDTONE (PULLED THROUGH ALGAE WATER, UNFIXED) SILVER GELATIN LUMEN PRINT, PLANT MATTER, 5.5’’ X 7.5’’

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BIOPHILIA #9, CAROLINE KNICKMEIER

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FIVE POEMS MICHAEL DOBKIN

UNANSWERED I tried to answer. Flowers came out of my mouth instead of words.

EMOTIONAL LANGUAGE The summer breeze scattered scents of roses, cut grasses, wildflowers everywhere. I heard voices in the garden, laughing, speaking lightly; I could not hear the words; perhaps I couldn’t understand them.

STENCH For a moment the scent of the tiny, sweet flowers overpowered the stench of death.

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FIVE POEMS

(CONT.)

MICHAEL DOBKIN

LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS I read once there is a language of flowers. Given by people to one another, they turn into words like love, grief, life, death.

LIKE A ROSE You could pick my heart like a rose and watch it wither in your hand.

NEIL BERKOWITZ is an emerging photographic artist and printmaker living in Seattle, Washington. He pursued a dual major in photography at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University many years ago, followed by coursework in photography at the New School. He returned to photography six years ago and has been working solely in digital photography. He has recently begun dividing his time between photography and printmaking and is an active volunteer in the digital media lab at Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle.

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FLOWERS ON MY DESK, NEIL BERKOWITZ

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AUGUST LAND JACK PRYOR

The windows are open during an August golden hour I see a realm almost ready to pick The land spreads out wide Green as emerald and jade Ear-high stalks and flush bean pods Sunflowers bunched on the roadside Haze settles beneath the clouds Sunshine dapples puddles and limbs Red hawks scan the fields Fog lays in the gulleys like a shroud Lammas bread on the platter Picking pails and bottles of cream Bees and monarchs drunk on nectar Cottonwood loosens and scatters Berry juices begin to bleed September puts its boots on A land fattens and goes to seed

JACK PRYOR was born in St. Charles, Missouri, and lived there until enlisting in the United States Air Force in 2004. In 2005, he was stationed in Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Upon discharge, he married and settled in the Omaha area. Pryor is a father to one daughter. He writes works based in memoir, along with short stories and prose. He also writes genre fiction. He produces a weekly blog, whiskysage3.wordpress.com, and posts monthly to Medium.com/@whiskysage1. Pryor’s work will also be featured in an upcoming anthology produced by the Nebraska Warrior Writers organization. JOCELYN M. ULEVICUS has a background in Social Work, Psychology, and Public Health. Her work is forthcoming or published in magazines such as No Contact, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Gasher Magazine, and The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. Ulevicus currently resides in Amsterdam and is finalizing her first book, a memoir titled The Birth of A Tree, which was recently shortlisted for the Santa Fe Writer’s Program 2019 Literary Award, judged by Carmen Maria Machado. In her spare time, she hunts for truth and beauty. Contact her via Instagram @beautystills.

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WATER SERIES, NO. 3, JOCELYN ULEVICUS ACRYLIC ON CANVAS, 80 CM X 100 CM

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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA NICK O’BRIEN

We entered Plumas County surrounded by the charred remains of trees that had perished in the Camp Fire two years earlier. They flanked the road, gnarled and anguished, preserved in their death-pose like the victims of Pompei. That ancient disaster had been a case of civilization coming under attack from nature; everywhere I looked—in the city we’d come from, in the road we drove, in these charred trees—I was reminded of the payback campaign we’d been waging ever since, and the resulting collateral damage we’d sustained. Every few miles, we passed the hulking infrastructure of the energy company whose aging equipment had ignited the fire, sending smoke up and down the state, choking cities and towns for hundreds of miles. It was late July; the temperature had maintained a steady climb as we approached our campsite, and had hit a hundred by the time we arrived. Looming over us as Anna pitched our tent and I got dinner ready was the specter of Paradise: the town, just a few miles over some hills to the West, that had been all but destroyed in that historic blaze. That night, with the screeching din of crickets all around us, with the inevitable tree root and rock digging into me from under my sleeping pad, with only a millimeter of tent fabric separating us from wildlife and the howling wind, I sat up, awake and unsettled, and peered out through the mesh window of the tent.

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An orange light was flashing out in the blackness. Through the dark and the haze of exhaustion, I couldn’t discern if the flashes were the identical repetitions of a blinking light, or the unique flickers of a nascent flame. It was the witching hour, and I couldn’t imagine anyone still sitting out and maintaining a bonfire. A truck lumbered down the road, and I squinted as it passed, hoping its headlights would illuminate the area where the light flickered and afford a clearer look; inconclusive. Anna stirred in her sleeping bag, and I lay back down. The light wasn’t spreading; it probably wasn’t a fire; it was probably fine. Indeed, it was. I awoke in full daylight, peered out of the tent, and saw it had been nothing but a flashing bulb next to a road sign: sparks and heat contained in fortified glass that protected the tinder stretching for miles all around from its threatening inflammatory potential. We packed up in the dry, oppressive heat and drove up the road. A local had tipped us off to a swimming hole at the end of a semi-overgrown trail up that way where we could cool off. We parked in a lot next to an outhouse and followed her directions to the trailhead. After a mile of bushwhacking, of ducking under lowhanging branches and navigating angled rocks underfoot, we could hear the rush of a waterfall. Then the swimming hole opened up before us. The waterfall rose ten yards overhead; the water

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SUMMERSTORM, MARGARET DRIES ACRYLIC ON CANVAS

shimmered in the sun as it careened over the top and into the pool, giving off a cooling mist. We stripped and jumped in. For an hour, we rejoiced in this Eden, sunning on a boulder in the middle of the pool, leaning our heads into the frigid cascade and shrieking in playful agony.

pans, scrutinizing the flakes, stoically registering its deceptive worthlessness. I thought of the empires they’d gone on to build over the subsequent decades. I looked at the toads and fish and butterflies around us, who’d been there all along, observing it all.

In the shallower areas, flakes of gold—fool’s gold, surely—peppered the sand at the bottom, and danced in the water when we kicked it up. I thought of prospectors squatting here over a century ago, sifting through the sand with their

Refreshed and elated, we started back down toward the car. But our elation gave way to dread when, nearing the end of the trail, we saw smoke rising above the trees ahead of us. We ran down to the parking lot, where a handful of men

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were huddled around a patch of burning brush, kicking at it, smothering it with aluminum trash lids, dousing it with water fetched from the river in buckets. Anna leaped into the car and headed down the road to alert the fire department. I joined the others in trying to contain the blaze. We’d douse a patch, then walk over its red-hot, smoking ash to the far reaches of the fire, which was threatening to spread to the dry brush nearby. My eyes watered as the smoke entered my lungs; looking down, I could see the rubber of my sneakers softening. I’d bail out when things got too intense, and dive back in after a few breaths of clear air. Things continued that way until, after a while, the group conquered the flames. We retired, weary, to a neighboring picnic bench, monitoring the smoking remnants. One or two at a time, the men began to leave. Soon, the only ones left were me, waiting for Anna, and a county maintenance worker, waiting for the fire department. He’d been fixing a piece of equipment at the rest site, and a spark from his drill was all it took to ignite the blaze. Finally, Anna arrived, with a fire truck following closely behind her. Three firefighters hopped out and sprayed the smoking remains with a white, foamy flame retardant. Plumas County would live to see another day. The maintenance worker began briefing the firefighters; with that, we felt satisfied our work was done. After exchanging thanks with the responders, we got in the car and pulled out of the lot. As we passed our campsite and began the journey back to the city, I had the sheepish feeling of being shown the door. I was a prospector, the fire and the blackened trees had told me. We were all prospectors here, and our welcome was wearing thinner every day.

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NICK O’BRIEN is a writer and musician living in Oakland, California. In the last year, he has been a regular reader at numerous Bay Area reading series, and his work has been published in The Racket, a San Francisco-based literary and art magazine. O’Brien studied English and Creative Writing at Kenyon College. He primarily writes fiction and personal essays, but has been known to dabble in other genres when the mood strikes.

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HOLDING STRONG, WILLIAM BYBEE INDIA INK ON CANVAS, 48’’ X 36’’

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ALGAE, THE LANDINGS, SAVANNAH, GEORGIA #4, KYRA SCHMIDT ILFORD MULTIGRADE FIBER (DIPPED IN ALGAE WATER, HALF FIXED) SILVER GELATIN LUMEN PRINTS, PLANT MATTER, 36’’ X 42’’

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THE FIT OF SOME THING AGAINST SOMETHINGS KEVIN MCILVOY for Ash Manberry

The three azaleas were so bound that sun rain Milky oceanauroras could not touch one only. And when the youngest sister burst into flame perfect flashing

a trio of wrens came to worship. And crows – three – to mock the worshipping. Then the expected unraveling skein of lonely vultures circled.

KEVIN MCILVOY has been writing for fifty years. His newest poems appear in River Heron Review, Willow Springs, Scoundrel Time, and LEON. His newest books are One Kind Favor (WTAW, 2021), At the Gate of All Wonder (Tupelo, 2018), 57 Octaves Below Middle C (Four Way, 2017), and The Complete History of New Mexico (Graywolf, 2007). His poem’s title is derived from Alan Ansen’s poem, “A Fit of Something Against Something.”

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SUPERBLOOM LUANNE CASTLE

On my big brown mountains are rocks that grow larger though not visibly also lichen, sow thistle, bristle grass without water you can smell. One bird seeks a saguaro like a mast on a masklike sea rabbits and voles above and below my skin run through chaparral. All is brown or turning brown crisp, nearly weightless as tumbleweed waiting for the first spark a catch like the charge of the first nucleus flame-thunder rolls all is black, charred, a false wall. When the rains dampen the animals are smoked from their secrets deluge covers like an ocean they call it disaster It is the time before the asters the lupine, filaree, and monkeyflower desert paintbrush, ocotillo, cactus flowers brittle bush, creosote, bladder pod and when the calamities are particularly ripe fulsome fields of golden poppies.

LUANNE CASTLE’s Kin Types (Finishing Line), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2018 Eric Hoffer Award. Her first poetry collection, Doll God (Aldrich), was winner of the 2015 New MexicoArizona Book Award. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she studied at University of California, Riverside (PhD); Western Michigan University (MFA); and Stanford University. Her writing has appeared in Copper Nickel, TAB, Glass, Verse Daily, American Journal of Poetry, Broad Street, and other journals. JOSHUA HAGLER is a visual artist who also writes poetry and fiction. A recipient of a 2018 year-long residency and grant from the Roswell Artist in Residence Program in New Mexico, he has since made a permanent home and studio there. Museum and gallery exhibitions have occurred throughout North America, Europe, and Australia. www.joshuahagler.com

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EPISTLE, JOSHUA HAGLER 89’ X 87’, MIXED MEDIA ON BURLAP CREATED FROM SONOGRAM IMAGE

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THE VISITOR, JOSHUA HAGLER 89’ X 87’, MIXED MEDIA ON CANVAS CREATED FROM SONOGRAM IMAGE

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THE ONLY CHURCH THAT IS IS AARON SANDBERG

The only church that is is a fox in the yard hunting your hens. You still believe it’s right to hold the gun with both hands clasped in prayer and that every time you lift it, it is in worship. To them there is nothing more God than you at the gate, squinted eye above a barrel, waiting for wolves in all that dark— still a god in the morning, hatchet crossing your heart, approaching the coop in service, grace, and hunger.

AARON SANDBERG has appeared or is forthcoming in West Trade Review, Sporklet, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Abridged, Unbroken, The Racket, Writers Resist, Neologism, Yes Poetry, perhappened mag, One Sentence Poems, The Daily Drunk, and elsewhere. He lives and teaches in Illinois. You might find him—though socially distant—on Instagram @aarondsandberg.

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A GATHERING OF BLACKBIRDS MARY ANNA KRUCH

A walk around the farm in late summer begins just outside the house, where traces of an old gravel road follow the curve of a softly sloped hillside that leads to a large pond framed by willow stumps, jack pines, and a weather-worn picnic table. New branches have emerged from willow trunks clumped together, their root systems linked like brothers along the bank, reaching water, new leaves whispering, plotting a comeback. That place calls to mind trout that jumped, evaded capture for as long as possible then ended up pan-fried, sitting next to biscuits on the table. In tall grass beneath a willow still standing, an old rope rests, once hitched to a sturdy branch that held one, sometimes two children, who swung across the pond, almost touching the nest, calling out the blackbirds. On the deep end of the pond, a mud and grass dwelling is visible, tucked into the fork of a jack pine,

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broods of young chicks long gone. But a gathering of red-winged blackbirds make themselves known by their shrill conk-la-ree; some perch on fence posts, others cluster in the white pine that sways slightly as the flock surges up, soars over the orchard. Back up the hill to the farmhouse, the sun is low in the sky, crowns the rural scene of apple trees, ponds, and fields. Above, a shape-shifting, living cloud of ten thousand red-winged blackbirds in perfect aerial ballet, signal others at the pond, who rise up to join the dance.

MARY ANNA KRUCH is a career educator and writer. Inspiration flows from nature, social justice issues, and PTSD. She leads a monthly local writing group and supervises student teachers for Northern Michigan University. Most recent poetry appears in Trinity Review, Wayne Literary Review, Third Wednesday, and Snapdragon Journal. Her first poetry collection, We Draw Breath from the Same Sky, was published in July 2019.

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FYKE, STEPHEN RYBACKI OXIDIZED PAPER AND MIXED MEDIA ON WOOD, 24’’ X 24’’

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WINTER’S BREATH RANDY GERRITSE

Stagnant veins, Like rivers Caught in Winter’s breath — How could I feel What fails To move me?

RANDY GERRITSE is an author, host of the Twitter poetry prompt tag #vsspoem, and lyricist for three different bands (Dissector, The Lust, GOOT). Poetry is part of Gerritse’s every day—it even found its way into his novels. The social platform, in a way, has become the drafting pad for his poetic thoughts, where he is ever self-editing. A large bundle of his micro poetry, forged into a single, two-act epic poem, “The Rhythm of Life,” is currently being polished for publication.

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VENICE BEACH, CA #1, ANDY HANN

ANDY HANN was born and raised primarily in Southern California. Along with skateboarding and surfing, he developed a deep passion for art and design which he followed into art school and then a prosperous 30-year career in entertainment advertising. After numerous awards and accolades, he says that he woke up one day and decided he was all done pandering to clients, picked up a camera, and just starting shooting. “Photography,” he now says, “is like a booger on my finger that I just can’t shake.”

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VENICE BEACH, CA #2, ANDY HANN

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ECDYSIS M. CYNTHIA CHEUNG

Separate first your inner skin from the outer: linings of the lungs, the bend of joints. Until it’s finished all breathing will cease. So inhale a few times, withdraw your limbs. Now you’re ready. Split your face, detach the bed of flesh. Quickly slough that dressing off; don’t let them see the urge to bluff. Just tuck it all inside your skins, your scrolls you’ve kept under the bed.

M. CYNTHIA CHEUNG is a practicing physician in Texas who studied at the University of Oklahoma, Baylor College of Medicine, and the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a first generation Chinese-American who probably left her heart back in Pliocene Europe.

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WALKING WINGLESS SUBHAGA CRYSTAL BACON

Deer trails terrace hillside, a smell on the wind of something dead and hidden. I startle a hawk; unsuspecting, he flies right at me. A quick turn shows the delicate striped colors of his underside— wings tiered red—each feather for just a moment articulate, individual as the voices of a choir, then gone.

There is no loveliness like this.

Dante hid the sins of man in circles, each hell more vile, more refined. Up here, I walk its mirror, climbing higher and higher till the signs of man shrink to obscurity: house, barn, road awash in space. What is our living or dying compared to this? The northern sky folds itself around what rises. I’m walking right into it, wingless as light.

SUBHAGA CRYSTAL BACON is the author of two volumes of poetry, Blue Hunger (Methow Press, 2020) and Elegy with a Glass of Whisky (BOA Editions, 2004). A cis-gender, Queer identified woman, she lives, writes, and teaches on the east slope of the North Cascade Mountains, in Twisp, Washington. AMY AIKEN works as a Research Economist and is a self-taught photographer. Her photos have recently been published in two exhibitions in Color Tag Magazine. She finds great delight in the complexity and connectedness of life, and she hopes to communicate some of that wonder through her art. She was born and raised in Texas, grew into her own and found love in North Carolina, and now lives and works in Washington, DC, with her husband, Michael.

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WILLOW, AMY AIKEN FALL/WINTER 2020 ISSUE 1

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ENCIRCLE ME, ANNE MAVOR GOUACHE ON PAPER

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TWO POEMS JO WARD

ODE TO MATERIALITY There is a quiet sorcery inside of things. I imagine the atoms conspiring softly within a blossom, a filament, a stem; and inside of them, gleeful circlings, like cinders, like sprites, in a dance the shape of texture and light; and in this thought, held in the net of our nerves, more sorcery still in finer veils.

THE FOREST This wilderness we seek, deep in the flesh of ferns and flowers, is—within capillary and breath— already ours.

JO WARD is an Australian writer based in Samford Valley, Queensland. Her work explores the nature of materiality and the physicality of language itself, often by translating poems into visual, concrete forms. While writing a PhD in Literature at the University of Queensland, Ward developed a chronic pain condition and she turned to creative writing as a therapeutic practice. Since 2019 she has been working on a collection of poetry and fine paper art entitled Ovidian. ANNE MAVOR is an artist and writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her work combines storytelling, research, performance, and visual imagery, to illuminate social and personal issues. Originally from Massachusetts, in 1976 she moved to Los Angeles to join the Feminist Studio Workshop. Projects have included the book Strong Hearts, Inspired Minds: 21 Artists Who Are Mothers Tell Their Stories, encaustic paintings of sacred sites, and the touring installation I Am My White Ancestors: Claiming the Legacy of Oppression. Mavor has a BA in art from Kirkland College and an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University, L.A.

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PANNING FOR LIFE IN THE SIERRAS MAGGIE MAIZE

Spend the summer floating face-down. Imagine that the warm air in your lungs still smells of pine. Hold it so long that a sunfish brushes your arm. Run inside when hail pelts your back. Cower under a heavy blanket and watch the static snap like fingers. Inhale the morning steam rising off the water. Smile at the growing rings where fish pecked the surface. Learn to hiss and honk like the geese. Ask the seaweed what it’s hiding. Why does it stroke your legs like it wants a favor? Share your lunch with the mallard couple. Notice your hair lightening. Dive in the water and claw at the sticky clay. Let it dry on a rock. Wonder why fire eats like it’s been starved. Fall apart. Then beg the bird you frightened to come back.

MAGGIE MAIZE recently graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in writing. Since then, she has moved back to the Bay Area, where she captures the oddity of life through child-like wonder. She has been published in Harness Magazine, Funny Pearls, Port City Review, and elsewhere. EMILY GILLCRIST is an artist and PhD fellow in Cultural Analysis and Theory at Stony Brook University, where she teaches film, philosophy, cultural studies, and writing. Her artwork inspires and is inspired by her scholarly research—which synthesizes post-colonial, materialist, psychoanalytic, and existential critiques of techno-industrial expansion in light of the global environmental crisis. Her painting utilizes abstract expressionist techniques, spontaneously creating layers of texture and color, and at times incorporating mixed media (such as sand, fabric, paper, metal leaf, etc.).The work evokes notions of the uncanny, memory, worldhood, materiality, and the beauty and tension of the nature/culture relation.

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POLES, EMILY GILLCRIST ACRYLIC ON CANVAS, 9’’ X 12’’

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NOSTALGIA, KATHLEEN DEEP MIXED MEDIA

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POND IN GIVERNY PRIYANKA GUPTA

I like it here, you said once. I remember that, you dipping your pinky into the blue, feeling for fish. That’s how it happened, right? Palms stained orange and pink, unspooling threads at my collarbone, fingers shucking me out with splinter and nail, pressing blue skin to paper flowers and rust colored leaves. You left me strung at the shore, cattails bursting, dew at the lips like milk, belly a crack in hot stone. Do you even remember? Or maybe the next girl makes you forget, makes a love that doesn’t flush red in pond water. By the end, will you wipe your hands that easily and lay her in the ferns, too? Do you remember when we strolled down there one morning, watching the ripples

and sunbeams? The lilypads were like drops of yellow oil, touching only at circumference until they bumped and shuddered away, oscillating stars. You know, there are Whispers that make me think you made that place just for me.

PRIYANKA GUPTA is a rising senior at Westwood High School in Austin, Texas. She is passionate about exploring diverse themes and issues through her writing, and frequently showcases her identity through art. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness, and the Texas Teen Book Festival. FALL/WINTER 2020 ISSUE 1

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THREE HAIKU INDIE REY

bleeding orb punctures the watery horizon birth of a new dawn

golden puddle spreads at the edge of the earth’s spin the sea milks the sun

weeping for the moon she drowned the earth in blue tears salt melts mountain tops

INDIE REY is an Australian writer who lives at the tip of the Italian heel. A deviant PhD history graduate, she flirts with fiction and poetry and is convinced that truth lies not in facts but feelings. Her poetry has appeared in Prohze and Eve Poetry Magazine, and she shares poetry snippets on Instagram @indie_rey_

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STONE SOLID FRANCES BOYLE

An unsteady walk over round beach stones. They clack to each other as they bear your weight, shift, off-balance you. More wavering steps till you begin to feel grounded, part of a larger mass. The shape ages of river work have given you, chuckling and rumbling over and against your companions, boiling eggs in a pot. All edges worn down corners smoothed. What remains? Your grip on earth, aware of gravity as you so rarely are on asphalt or smooth sand.

FRANCES BOYLE, a Canadian writer living in Ottawa, is the author of two poetry books, most recently This White Nest (Quattro Books, 2019), as well as Seeking Shade, a short story collection (The Porcupine’s Quill, 2020), and Tower, a novella (Fish Gotta Swim Editions, 2018). Places her writing has appeared or is forthcoming include Best Canadian Poetry 2020, Blackbird, Event, Parentheses Journal and Prairie Fire. Visit www.francesboyle.com for more.

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LIVING ROOM, NEIL BERKOWITZ

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GERMINATION MARY BUCHINGER

it isn’t a choice the sluices open the seed shakes with its growth it shivers and spreads it hurts it breathes it is something it hasn’t been before and to this earth a noticing in the soil

MARY BUCHINGER is the author of four collections of poetry: Navigating the Reach (forthcoming), e i n f ü h l u n g/in feeling (2018), Aerialist (2015) and Roomful of Sparrows (2008). She is president of the New England Poetry Club and Professor of English and communication studies at MCPHS University in Boston. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Diagram, Gargoyle, Nimrod, PANK, Salamander, Slice Magazine, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere; Her website is www.MaryBuchinger.com.

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UNREQUITED LOVE STELIOS MORMORIS

What is the nature of two irises rising amidst the slender leaf-blades, alone at the edge of a bog? One is resolutely

gradation reminds me of a starless sky.

white, ignorant of her immutable shy

Can she invert the fulcrum of her

beauty, while the purple one tries

briefest flower to a see-through

to posture his soliloquy, how it fades

cape, and float like a jellyfish, and fly

along the labial petals then darkens

away? Can he seduce someone else? It is

in the throat, whose violet-to-black

June, and I rest on the serenity of their truce, they are here, apparently forever.

STELIOS MORMORIS is a native of Boston and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Mormoris is the CEO of Edge Beauty, Inc., an online beauty company that markets wellness products and is a dual citizen of Greece and the United States. Raised in New York, Mormoris has spent most of his adult life living in Paris. He received his undergraduate degree in architecture at Princeton, where he was a member of the creative writing program, and MBA from INSEAD in Paris. He is a former professional rugby player as well a contemporary artist, specializing in abstract oil painting. He has published work in Verse, Press, The Whelk Walk Review, Gargoyle, Spillway, The Nassau Literary Review, Sugar House Review, South Road, and others. Mormoris has held positions on the Boards of the French Cultural Center of Boston, Historic New England, the Fragrance Foundation, SYMRISE, ACT-UP, and the Kytherian Society of Greece.

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QUARTZ PINK IN GREEN PARADISE, LILIAN SHTEREVA NATURAL PIGMENT AND DYE ON CANVAS

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ORANGE ERIKA STROMERSON

Whisper sacred words svadhisthana, fragrant orange peel winding tongues, the taste of holy persimmon, whip of salt and soft petal of rose, sunset sky and mourning cries over marigolds, the holy color. Holiest of colors, of spring and summer and the falling autumn’s leaves; apples’ crisp flesh and beauty. Peel away gold like gilded frame, a beach awash in the golden hour where gods paint the sea, the sky, the art of your face orange. Your soul separates into tangerine segments as you hear the orange song of svadhisthana, svadhisthana, svadhisthana.

ERIKA STROMERSON is an emerging writer, passionate about exploring the separations and fusions between man and nature. She graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 2020, receiving the Maryanna D. Bell Kafadar Award for Excellence in the Humanities, and minors in Culture, Creativity and Communication (CCC) and Public Affairs. She attended the 2019 Longleaf Writers Conference as an Undergraduate Scholar. Her current projects are devoted towards understanding her sense of place in her childhood region of the Pacific Northwest.

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GOLDEN HOUR KATIE RICHARDS

I will never forget the gasp of you leaving me, your body against me, your cord pulsing purple, the pulses curved like ridges of a praying mantis belly, the pulsing of a snake pushing a mouse through its body. Clementine, color of the sun, you came out purple as a bruise, eyes shut while quiet the doctor rubbed you and smacked you until you whimpered then screamed.

KATIE RICHARDS is an MFA candidate at George Mason University. She is the recipient of the 2016 Mark Craver Poetry Award and the 2020 Mary Roberts Rinehart Poetry Award. Her poetry has previously appeared or is forthcoming in the South Dakota Review, DIALOGIST, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and The Inflectionist Review among other places.

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THE REVOLUTION, MARGARET DRIES ACRYLIC ON CANVAS THE REVOLUTION, MARGARET DRIES

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MARCH BECK ANSON The lake froze over for the first time in three years. On a pass off the psych unit I walked out to the breakwater, leaving tracks in the snowcovered ice & stood, humbled. April, the lake slowly thawed under the sun & a strong gale blew surface water south while close to shore thin ice shelves floated on gentle streams & I watched

jagged shapes recede like a quilt coming undone. Listen — have you heard the song of ice melting in a warm liquid, the cracking? Pressure unloads from the surface & grows while the core tries to stay the same. May, the doctor said my head just needs to catch up with the rest of my body, expanding.

BECK ANSON (he/him) is a queer and trans emerging writer whose work weaves together gen-

der, sexuality, and mental health, often using the natural landscape of his surroundings as the backdrop. He holds two degrees in botany from the University of Vermont. He lives in Burlington, Vermont.

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MIRAGE, J.T. BRUCE DIGITAL ART FALL/WINTER 2020 ISSUE 1

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AFTER THE RAIN, KATHLEEN DEEP MIXED MEDIA

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THREE HAIKU ALEX FYFFE

moth weaving between drops of light

cicadas vibrating heat

autumn wind clicks its claws across the lot little yellow leaves

ALEX FYFFE is an English teacher living with his wife and daughter in the Houston, Texas area. He graduated from Texas Tech University with a BA in English and spent a semester studying Japanese and Buddhism in Hikone, Japan. He fell in love with the haiku form after discovering the work of the 20th-century wandering monk Taneda Santoka. Currently, Fyffe is writing his first picture book.

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TWO POEMS MICAELA EDELSON

TRAILING Sometimes your trail has ravines or coastal cliffs, twisted steps and petite waterfalls. Other times your trail is a smelly dirt road guided by bare branches. But when you whistle with the birds and dance for the sheep, the barrenness can still be beautiful.

STANDING Tear down the ivy, brush off the moss, peel back the bark to find the tree still standing. Yet dig up the roots and you will see how fast a giant falls.

MICAELA EDELSON works at one of the largest conservation organizations in the world working with large multi-national companies to reduce their plastic footprint; however, writing is where her true passion lies. Edelson has pursued writing since high school when she published her first poem. Since then, Edelson has been published in international political magazines and blogs and has held her own political-philosophy blog for over a year sharing prose and poetry.

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COASTAL MIST, MARGARET DRIES ACRYLIC ON CANVAS

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YUCCA CHARLENE STEGMAN MOSKAL

Defiant, the yucca puts its roots into sand, tells the desert I am as tough as you. And in the spring, pushed by wind, spread by moths, they inhabit empty spaces, give rise to children’s fears and tooth to old wives tales. Their blossoms as white shrouds seen on clouded moon nights rise spectral in graveyards, stand as silent sentinels over bones buried like yucca roots in el camposanto’s dry soil.

CHARLENE STEGMAN MOSKAL is a Fellow of the New Jersey Writing Project and a Teaching Artist for the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project in Las Vegas, Nevada, under the auspices of the Las Vegas Poetry Promise Organization. Moskal is a visual artist, a performer, a voice for NPR’s Theme and Variations, and a writer. She is published in numerous anthologies, magazines and e-zines. Her second chapbook, One Bare Foot, was published by Zeitgeist Press. She enjoys coffee ice cream, historical fiction, and laughter.

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A FUNERAL J. R. RAINER

A hummingbird dropped dead in the middle of the street found amid the pile of leaves returned to earth by the great elm We gathered her body admiring the stillness as we offered her back to the soil praising the beauty Harrison says birds don’t belong in the earth But is life not a process of emergence and return? Remember there is no sky apart

J.R. RAINER lives in the shadow of San Gorgonio, amidst the orange groves and the palms.

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SPLASHING WAVES, VIAN BORCHERT ACRYLIC ON CANVAS

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THREE POEMS LYDIA GLOVER

BLUE SKIES Describe your sky to me in case it is still blue. I won’t despair that mine is still full of ashes as long as the color blue is alive hiding somewhere above you.

TIDE POOLS I watched her gently feel the tide pools in the early morning, tempting me, like the sea, to always return to her tender affections.

REVELATIONS Undress me like the sun reveals the morning in a slow revelation of it’s most beloved secret.

LYDIA GLOVER (she/her) began writing poems at thirteen years old in order to capture memories of people and places she engaged with on a day-to-day basis. As an adult, she writes daily to capture themes of love and self-esteem, especially inspired by nature, her favorite environment. Follow Glover on Instagram: @hersundaysonnets. VIAN BORCHERT is a contemporary award-winning artist. Borchert has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions nationally within the US and internationally. Vian is a graduate and “Notable Alumni” from the Corcoran College of Art and Design, George Washington University, Washington, DC. Borchert is represented by galleries in world cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, and the DC area. Borchert’s art has been featured in press such as The Washington Post, Elan Magazine, Artist Portfolio Magazine, D’art International Magazine, ART PLUGGED, The Huffington Post, and DC Modern Luxury Magazine. Borchert currently teaches art classes to adults in Maryland. Website: www.vianborchert.com FALL/WINTER 2020 ISSUE 1

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UNFINISHED JOHN MARTONE

It’s the world you imagined. Step outside: wren tail, dragonfly, fiddlehead ... a sack of lime the weight of a child to spread till the garden’s bright as marble. You get it all over you, too, Michelangelo slaving away deliberately unfinished.

JOHN MARTONE’s translation of Giovanni Pascoli, O Little One and Selected Poems recently appeared from Laertes Books. Collections of Martone’s poetry include So Long (Ornithopter), Ksana (Red Moon Press), and Storage Case (Otoliths). Martone also edited Frank Samperi’s Spiritual Necessity: Selected Poems (Station Hill Press) and over the years has edited and published two poetry journals, tel-let and otata. Much of Martone’s work has been privately printed and volumes in English and Italian appear on Scrib’d.

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GUST, EMILY GILLCRIST ACRYLIC AND SAND ON CANVAS, 16’’ X 20’’

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INFERNO IN THE SKY, VIAN BORCHERT ACRYLIC ON CANVAS

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ON THE DAY MARY OLIVER DIED JILL FULLER I stood on a street corner, waiting to cross. And there they were— the wild geese. They streamed over my head, over the sidewalks thick with January slush, through air smeared yellow with fumes, so close I could see the splash of white on their heads, as if someone had lovingly cupped their cheeks, leaving their handprints behind. They used to travel in spring and fall from south to north, north to south, following an ancient road, but many of them don’t leave at all now. Yet here they were, thin ribbons of five, six, seven birds unspooling to my right, my left, a funeral cortege woven of wings, calling in chants of pain or pleasure, which sounded so much the same. Tilting my chin up and up, up into the rafters of the sky, I realized what the women must have felt standing in the garden, their backs facing the empty tomb— that piercing ache of relief as they let go of the need to understand.

JILL FULLER is a librarian, writer, and mother with a BA in history and a master’s in library science. Her published work includes essays for The Bello Collective and MaryJane’s Farm Magazine, as well as a local newspaper column. When she's not writing, she enjoys hiking, reading, watering her garden, and traveling to Ireland with her family. You can find Fuller on Instagram @jill.full and at www.jillfuller.com.

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NIGHT TALKS ANGELA SHEN

Laced with the scent of saltwater and burning wood from our campfire, the warm summer air lingers in the breeze, honeying time with a slow, ripened ease. Above me, the fiery outline of Aquila, the Eagle, is launching through the night, starry wings outspread. As one myth has it, this was the eagle that tore out daily the liver of Prometheus, the god’s punishment for giving the secret of fire to humanity. The eagle was eventually killed, freeing Prometheus by the fated arrow—spot the faint yet sure line of Sagitta, the Arrow, glowing just to the north of Aquila—shot by Hercules, im-

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mortalized on the starry dome, who now vaults through the summer night west of Aquila, his arms outstretched in radiant clusters of light. Nearby the fire crackles, sending sparks and wisps of smoke rising up into the night, carried far and away to the distant blinking lights of the airplanes and satellites silently treading humanity’s footprints between the stars. *** Sailors of old used the constellations to orient themselves out on the open sea, charting their course based on the movements and angles of

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celestial bodies to the horizon. Before that, the ancients drew the stars together, inscribing their gods and myths into fabled patterns on the vault of the heavens, anchoring humanity within the stars—perhaps less to understand the world as it truly was, but rather to locate themselves within its immensity.

“awareness that the blind immense unconscious impersonal and neutral forces will endure, and that the fragile, miraculously knit organism which interprets them, endows them with meaning, will move about for a little, then falter, fail, and decompose at last into the anonymous soil, voiceless, faceless, without identity.”

Out here, on the coast, is where the raw elements clash and emulsify into a singular vast backdrop; on a clear day, the eye can trace in one fell swoop the mountain peaks that crest the heavens, descending into deep timbered hills of primeval forests and out to the ocean, all the way to the edge of the world where the last light of the day folds into the imperceptible seam joining sea to sky.

The self, these fragile and miraculously knit bodies of ours that harbor that small glimmer of consciousness which endows all else with meaning, dissolves into pure anonymity against the intermingling of these elemental forces; these minute particles in time are pressed up against the eternal cycles of growth and decay that—yes, as the old truth goes—mark humanity as only a small footnote in the margins.

The young Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal, after a hike on the Massachusetts coast, of the

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MEGA RITUAL NO. 2, JORDO STIFF ACRYLIC ON LINEN, 4’ X 1’

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Look just north of the Eagle, to where the scorching blue-white orb of Vega, brightest of all the stars around it, rests at the tip of the glowing lyre of Orpheus—the mythical poet who could sing so sweetly he persuaded the gods of the underworld to bring his wife Eurydice back from the dead, yet upon turning his gaze to look back at her, lost her once more. This is the trapdoor of desire, the emotional paradox that the ancient Greeks sought a way to reconcile in their poems and texts, manifesting itself most poignantly in the tale of Orpheus: the desirer, upon finally reaching the object of their desire, realizes that what was desired has now shifted, is gone; a new lack, another hungering eros, is now in its place. “Longing,” writes the poet Robert Hass, “because desire is full of endless distances.” *** Stars were originally thought to be lone points of light, isolated from each other by eons of darkness, until improved telescopes in the seventeenth century allowed astronomers to observe that some of these seemingly solitary stars were actually pairs—two glowing spheres of restless fire in orbit with each other, appearing to the distant eye as a single point of light. Today, it’s estimated that these binary star systems compose up to eighty-five percent of the stars in the universe, each star within a system orbiting a common center, the distances between them governed by a unique complex gravity. Anne Carson wrote on the origin of the word “symbol,” from the ancient Greek symbolon, which describes one half of a knucklebone carried as a token of identity to someone who has the other half. “Together the two halves com-

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pose one meaning,” she writes. “A metaphor is a species of symbol.” Plath, who wrote in her journal of all that which is inherently nameless in nature as “defined momentarily through the consciousness of the being who observes them . . . the fragile, miraculously knit organism which interprets them, endows them with meaning,” sensed too that this act of imparting meaning through “giving a name to the nameless,” as Aristotle called it, was necessarily giving rise to the creation of symbol—a fiction, told by the mind in the moment memory reaches out to imagination to bridge the space of desire, that distance between what is known or observed and what can be imagined. The ancient poet Sappho called Eros, the god of desire, mythoplokos, a weaver of fictions. *** The night sky is imbued with our longing; every constellation is palpable evidence of the connections we forged to the stars to bestow them with meaning and close the light-years of distance between them. Within this space of the potential, we create symbols to weave together two disparate yet kindred images into a whole, the joining of two halves of a knucklebone or the orbiting of two celestial bodies appearing as one. Threading together the discordant fragments and images of our memories and desires, we invent fictions, sharing our stories by the crackling warmth of a fire.

ANGELA SHEN is a writer based in Seattle, Washington, whose previous work in neuroscience and sociocultural anthropology, along with her creative pursuits in art, music, and nature inspire and inform her writing.

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DROWNING IN ORBIT, JT BRUCE DIGITAL ART FALL/WINTER 2020 ISSUE 1

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Humana Obscura Issue #01 (Fall/Winter 2020)  

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