Editor and Publisher Nadia Giordana—River Muse Press (763) 433-0270 or (763) 222-3113 Email: MississippiCrow@msn.com
Contributing writers and artists alphabetical by first name:
Associate Editor Mary Deal Author, Writer, Pushcart Prize Nominee Website: www.writeanygenre.com
Apprentice Editor Brittany Mabusth St. Cloud, Minnesota
Alison Bullock Carla Martin-Wood—http://thewellreadhead.googlepages.com Carrie Crow—http://baronandcrow.blogspot.com/ Christopher Woods—www.moonbirdhillarts.etsy.com Daniel de Culla David James—www.oaklandcc.edu/or-eng/dljames/djhome.htm Diane M. Deifel Elaine Pedersen Eric Vance Walton—www.EricVanceWalton.com
Front Cover, ICARUS by Ingrid Sundberg www.sundbergstudio.com
Ingrid Sundberg grew up in Maine on the small island of Mount Desert. With daily access to Acadia National Park she began her appreciation of the connections between nature, spirituality, and art. She later attended the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, under a merit scholarship, and studied illustration. Ms. Sundberg’s degree project expanded her exploration of the visual and intellectual connections between nature, science, spirituality, religion and philosophy - themes that still resonate in her work to this date. Working in both watercolor and mixed media, Ms. Sundberg, begins each piece with a single image or topic. She uses research and intuition to help develop and inform the work, as new images are added. Layers of paper and paint reflect this journey. The use of natural patterns and geometric drawings is meant to expose the geometry within all living things, as well as to create an aesthetic sense of unity. The resulting “visual essay” should inspire the viewer to a deeper appreciation of the patterns and connections that surround us.
Guy Kettelhack Henry Louis Shifrin Holly Painter James Keane Jan Oskar Hansen Janet Butler—www.janetleebutler.com Jeffrey C. Alfier Jim Fuess—www.jimfuessart.com Justin Hyde—http://www.nyqpoets.net/poet/justinhyde K.C. Wilson K.H. Solomon Linda Woods—www.moonbirdhillarts.etsy.com Myrna D. Badgerow—www.authorsden.com/myrnadbadgerow Pat O’Reagan Peter Schwartz—wwwsitrahahra.com Russ Curtis Sara Harris
Peter Bates and cat, Pucci—photo by Cheryl Levin
Back Cover, ALTERATIONS and Centerfold, PEAPOD by Peter Bates. www.batescommunications.net/pixelpost/ Peter specializes in street photography, from the sunlit back roads of Vermont to the scruffy sidewalks of Boston. He has photographed decaying industrial cities like Lynn and the blackened cathedral facades of nocturnal Brussels. He is attracted to highway architechture, such as the photogenic stretch of Route 1 from Saugus to Danvers, Mass. Lately he has been experimenting with high dynamic range (HDR) photography, particularly as it applies to night photography. He is also working on an ongoing photodocumentary project entitled “Christian America.”
Are YOU in it?
Sandee Lyles Shawn Nacona Stroud—www.authorsden.com/shawnnstroud Wendy Brown-Baez—wwwwendybrownbaez.com
To Purchase Issues of Mississippi Crow, go to http://stores.lulu.com/RiverMuse The Mississippi Crow magazine takes its name from its location—near the confluence of the Mississippi and Crow rivers in Dayton Minnesota. We publish artwork, poetry, flash fiction, articles and essays (on a variety of subjects). To see our guidelines, go to: www.MississippiCrow.com. Copyright © 2008 River Muse Press, ISSN 1934-5631. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form— electronic, mechanical or other means without prior consent of the publisher and/ or of the authors of the individual works. All rights revert to authors upon publication.
Photo by Mary Deal 2
Mississippi Crow Magazine
The Blessed All this day the dear, dear dead, have twittered, gaily, like delirious birds, about my head. â€œStep in, step inâ€? they sweetly sing, as I pick my way through a dissolving world.
--C.P. Stewart Are YOU in it?
BlueWhite by Jim Fuess 4
Mississippi Crow Magazine
my hands fell off and ran away up and over the bluffs castrated by the flowering of obligation: blinded by all this cheap unbearable light: i zipped myself inside a hammer and started writing sad songs and third string poems. but my throat rusted, clean through to the pure yellow. and my hands fell off and ran away up and over the bluffs.
âˆ’âˆ’Justin Hyde Are YOU in it?
Christopher Woodsâ€”www.moonbirdhillarts.etsy.com 6
Mississippi Crow Magazine
After Moonlight paints us into corpses as we lie tangled in bed. I cling to you like a boy clings to his teddy bear in darkness, listen to crickets shake their rattles over the splash of cars passing through rain puddles. All night I lie awake with you relearning the curves of your flesh, the satin brush of your hair, devour your cologne as it rises like steam from your skin. I hold you until the moon is throughâ€” when sunlight brushes flesh tones on me, but leaves the gray tinge of an effigy on you.
--Shawn Nacona Stroud Are YOU in it?
Sentences Midnight stars whisper Upon velvet, slipping into dreams And their fading sighs Trail shadows of sentences Being written across sky
I hear the words tumbling softly, one onto the next, and feel each nuance, each subtle inflection. The ink of intimacy flows so sweetly, and I, lost in its rhythm, reach for my pen of curiosity. Sentences spill forth, one, then two... and I forget to breathe as that last whisper slips away leaving the sky to silence.
â€”Myrna D. Badgerow
Mississippi Crow Magazine
Parity A picture is worth a thousand words, as are a few well chosen ones. â€”KH Solomon
Gym Nasium Are YOU in it?
Like Clockwork to the End East Village: chilly early morning vision: huddled bundled figure on the sidewalk, mittened fingers on the handle of a shopping cart, meticulously pushing it— small squat woman in a black hat, shawl and coat – wagon packed with plastic garbage bags: black, stacked and bursting: thrusts it forward slowly thirty feet. Turns and pads back on the curb along the street to get the second cart, to push it towards its kin; returns to get the third— to join it to its brethren. And then— she pushes first the first, and next the second, and the third another thirty feet again. And does it all again. And does it all again. Like clockwork to the end. —Guy Kettelhack 10
Mississippi Crow Magazine
Photo by Daniel de Culla Are YOU in it?
What I Want
right now more than ever is to capture in my arms a woman whose crying enraptures me (who regrets she ever knew me), melt the frigid anger gagging the heat of her heart in icy tears, entice her sullen teeth to disappear with the tickle and flicker of a young tongue peering in to face what quickening harmony, breathless, her mouth with mine will embrace till her willowy fingers gently unravel to straddle her anger’s warmed saddle, press on to surround love’s fever unbound, splay in rage to bind her warm heart with mine till her heart knows and mine knows no fear.
In the chill of my room I gasp for air, fishy legs churning, dappled waters darken and freeze. I am hungry for forest and song of wind-whistled trees, the sandbank hiding me from the ache of tomorrow’s rush to ice. Sink back in mud hole and pebble lane, flitter like the dragonfly whose flight we imitate no matter the hoof or paw, because it is Lifelight, it is only one breath more it is the slender silk thread, the web, the tumble down leaf. The winter has come to grab me by both arms and up-end me on the pond where skaters have left a signature of lace, fragile motion, shadows of grace. —Wendy Brown-Baez
--James Keane 12
Mississippi Crow Magazine
Study in Brownâ€”watercolor by Janet Butler Are YOU in it?
Verbal Rebellion, Free Wee Fee and Corporate Size Reinvention —Eric Vance Walton I've learned that most writers are born people watchers and I'm no exception. We find fascination in the most unlikely of experiences, the whole world is a library...each person a book. It could be a conversation overheard, a story told to us or some slight idiosyncrasy that we might witness firsthand. The other night one of my best friends and I were across the table talking about an upcoming trip to Chicago. Keep in mind my friend grew up in the late 60's, before technology completely ruled our lives. He was reading the description of the hotel that we’re staying in and said, "Look, they have free wee fee!" After a few moments I realized that he meant wi-fi. Once you get to a certain age I think people start getting completely fed up with certain aspects of life and consciously start calling things by slightly different names as a kind of protest to conformity. My father was way ahead of the curve on this one. He's been verbally rebelling as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I had a friend named Sean and my dad always referred to him as, "John" which you could tell dumb-founded Sean but for some reason he never said anything about it. To dad socks are "stockins", immaculate is "immaculace", prostrate is "pole-straight" (which must baffle his doctors) and fish has always been "feeesh". But you know what? That's okay and to tell you the truth I wouldn't want it any other way, it's part of what makes him "dad" to me and I relish this uniqueness. It's already begun for me. When ordering at Starbucks I refuse to buckle under to their "corporate size reinvention". In today's society we have far too many things to remember already without having to relearn something that we learned in kindergarten. I have no idea how large became Venti and I want no part of it. When I order a cappuccino, I call it what it is and say "small" not "tall". The cashier usually will tilt their head and flash and inquisitive look, appearing for a second that their whole belief system has been threatened while calling out to the barista, 14
"TALL skim cappuccino". As I approach 36 it's time to step up my game. The next time I'm in a coffee shop I'm going to march up to the counter with head held high, compliment them on the immaculaceness of their establishment and ask if they have free wee fee. Eric Vance Walton and Juan T Parker’s newest children's book, “The Land of Things We Wish For” is available at: http://www.lulu.com/content/4423662
Too Late —Sandee Lyles Annabelle Cheshire was just a sweet old lady to me. No doubt about that, even if she did collect cats. We’d see her bring them home. But we never saw any of them outside. She kept them all in. They were her babies. Once, I asked if I could come in and see them and she said they were “sleeping”. I knew she didn’t’ want us in her house. I thought it was just messy, but Henry said he thought she was afraid we’d disturb Mr. Cheshire, who was very old and sickly. She used to bake the best cookies and pastries for the neighborhood children who lived on the cul-de-sac. But she was famous for her stew which I had never tasted personally but Henry said it was “to die for”. She would often bake it for his family. She’d also make meat loaf and pot pies. Henry’s mother wasn’t well every since Mr. Brown had run off with his secretary, leaving her to care for their four children. So Old Lady Cheshire had adopted the Brown family and made it a point to take them dinner at least three times a week. She was going to visit her sister this particular day, Mississippi Crow Magazine
and she had asked me to collect her papers and mail while she was gone. “Would you like me to feed the cats and look in on Mr. Cheshire?” I asked. “No. Mr. Cheshire is doing well. He’ll look after my babies,” she said. And, with that, she handed me a huge pot of stew for our evening meal. I was so excited. Finally, I’d be able to taste this marvelous concoction I had heard so much about. We had already had dinner but I talked my mama into planning a late meal for when my daddy came home at around ten. She agreed and I went out to play with Henry. “Don’t be late girl. You be home by 9:30 and not a second past.” “Yes ma’am.” At first we did the usual biking and swinging and playing fort but, after a while, we started to tell scary stories on the teeter-totter. “I bet he’s dead, Mary.” Henry surprised me. “You bet who’s dead?” “Mr. Cheshire. Don’t nobody ever see him.” “Oh Henry. That’s ridiculous.” “Then why don’t she let nobody in the house? Look, I seen her take a shovel out of the garage and head for the back yard like she was gonna bury something more than one time. She probably cut him into little pieces so she could manage it.” “No.” He had my attention. “Really! I’m serious. Hey, let’s go back there. She ain’t home. The timin’ is perfect.” “I’m not goin’ back there.” “Come on, Mary. Don’t be a big chicken.” “Who’s a chicken?!” I jumped off the teeter-totter, sending him crashing to the ground. “Well, okay then, let’s go.” We got a shovel out of Henry’s garage. It was starting to get dark so we grabbed a flashlight and headed to Mrs. Cheshire’s backyard. It was a little tricky getting back there with all of the overgrown shrubbery and vines but we managed to climb the fence and jump down. It had gotten very dark by now. “Hold the flashlight up,” Henry demanded. When I did, we collectively gasped at the sight. There were rows and rows of little dirt mounds. “Is it a garden?” I asked. “No, it ain’t a garden,” Henry answered. Then, he paused… “Graves.” “What?” Are YOU in it?
“Cat graves.” “No.” Henry began to dig them up, one by one. “Poor thing. To lose all those babies she loved so much. Wonder what they caught.” “Hold that flashlight up Mary.” Another collective gasp. In each shallow grave were what appeared to be cat remains. But only the skull and tail were left. It was as if someone had chopped them off and put them in these shallow graves as little memorials to the dead. Then, Henry hit something new. It wasn’t a skull, or a tail. “Hold that light up, will ya?!” Henry snapped sharply. I dropped the flashlight. It was a hand… a human hand. We ran to the house and onto Mrs. Cheshire’s porch. Without thinking, we turned the unlocked knob and went inside. We turned on the light and saw a beautiful kitchen. Then, I noticed several rows of jars across a very clean counter. I couldn’t make out what was in them but it looked like whatever it was had been pickled, jellied, or jammed. Henry slowly walked toward a freezer in the corner of the room. “No. Don’t do it!” I screamed. But, he opened it and turned completely white. It felt as though it took me two days to walk to the freezer and look inside. It was parts. Cat parts. Human parts. In freezer bags. Labeled. There were livers, knees, calves, you name it. Even a nose. Then we saw it. The bag labeled “stew”. Henry turned and threw up. Then he looked at me and we ran. We ran so fast. We never looked back. “What time is it?” I shrieked as I ran up the driveway to my house, noticing my daddy’s car already in the driveway. I don’t even remember how I got to the dining room. It’s still a blur. All I remember is my mama saying, “Well, look who decided to show up. We done ate the stew. Go on up to your room. You’re too late.” And I knew she was right as I slowly made my way up the stairs. Sandee Lyles is an RN, International Poet/Freelance Writer, 2007 Pushcart Nominee, and Publishing Editor of Oak Bend Review. She lives in Flower Mound, Texas with a household of teens, animals, and Jack, and still remains sane at least some of the time.
Pekoe —Mary Deal A Port-A-Jon had been placed in the lot beside the Java Bean coffee house where I sat on the lanai. They should have moved it back along the trees behind the businesses. A new building was being constructed next door. Each time the trade winds wafted, I couldn’t imagine why the Jon was placed so close to the café’s outdoor eating area. Kilauea volcano wasn’t spouting this morning and sending ash into the air. That volcano was on the Big Island of Hawaii at the south end of the Hawaiian chain opposite Kauai on the north. Each time Kilauea erupted, it sent volcanic ash into the air that stuck in the clouds and mists that the trade winds blew over all the islands. At least it painted the sunrises and sunsets pink, coral, and red. Mornings and evenings made for some spectacular photography. I sipped my Chai and then tipped my face toward the sun. Between the noises of passing cars, I occasionally heard faint mewing and looked around and found nothing. A cat must have had a litter back among the trees, or maybe, under the building. A kitten somewhere was trying to get some attention. As the mewing continued, I just had to get up and learn from where it came. Trying to hold my breath, I passed the Jon. Then I realized the mewing came from inside. I stared at that blue cubicle, putting my hand across my mouth and nose. Did I dare? I did, and took a big gulp of air and swung the door open. To my surprise, a teeny ball of orange fur lay on the floor. I grunted in surprise and expelled all my breath. I gulped again and grimaced, and it wasn’t from seeing a weak little Tabby kitten. If not newly born, it had to be under a week old. It mewed and tried to walk but was much too young and wobbly and still couldn’t hold its eyes opened. I gently but swiftly scooped it up, turned, and kicked the door closed with my heel. On the way back to the lanai, I checked and found the kitten was a male. Bits of umbilical cord were still attached. 16
Again taking my seat on the lanai, this tiny sweet bundle snuggled down in my lap. He had stopped crying and gone to sleep in the valley between my thighs. I brought one leg up and propped my foot on another chair and kept my hand gently across his body to shelter him from the wind. The owner of the Once More Consignment Shop, above the coffee house, saw the kitten and seemed truly surprised. “Where’d you get that little bundle?” Lani asked. “In the blue box,” I said, nodding toward the Jon. “At least someone abandoned him where others would find him.” Lani looked relieved but dashed off like she was on a mission. I sat there covering the kitten with my hand each time the trades wafted over us. The gentle wind was fine with me, but this little guy would be cold. I drew the edge of my sarong up over him and wondered where I might find him a home. While the Humane Society would lovingly care for him, Kauai has so many adoptable cats that he might live in a cage for months. My Chai was just about finished when Lani dashed back with a handful of items. She had been to the Vet and brought back a tiny bottle with a nipple and baby kitten formula! My heart went out to her selflessness. She must have fallen in love. “Can I feed him?” she asked. Then she said, “Wait.” She dashed upstairs to her consignment store and returned with an old soft tee shirt and wrapped the kitten in it. The kitten took the bottle immediately. “What’ll we call him?” she asked. “Should we give him a Hawaiian name?” “Not necessarily,” I said. “He’s the color of orange Pekoe tea. How about Pekoe?” We giggled like young girls. Lani’s instincts were more like a mom. She handed Pekoe back while she went to tend to her store. By now others on the lanai had crowded around to take a look. Everyone wanted to pet Pekoe on his head, which was the only thing that stuck out of the folds of the old tee shirt. I wondered about that little knob being tapped on by so many and pulled him back to the protection of my lap. Mississippi Crow Magazine
Now, I couldn’t take this kitten home. My neighbor already has six large, prowling cats that caroused mine as well as all the neighbors’ yards. They kept the mice under control that seemed to come from the nearby stream.
Fortunately for little Pekoe, everyone fell in love with him, but other then me, none more so than Lani. She returned with a small cardboard box containing a cushion. “Are you taking him home?” she asked, sounding thoroughly disappointed that she might hear me say yes.
A traveler, bound for Colorado and with a yen for adventure, might well consider two appealing challenges – hiking on the Colorado Trail and climbing one or more of the 14ers. The Trail runs from Denver to Durango, 483 miles, in 28 segments. It courses through mountainous terrain, from alpine meadows to rocky crests, through pine forests, marshes and verdant fields, and through stretches of forest scorched by fire and struggling to recover. The 14ers are some 56 peaks in Colorado over 14 thousand feet.
“Can’t,” I said. Lani’s smile stretched across her face. I wanted to tell her about my neighbors cats but she didn’t give me a chance. “I want him,” she said, and that settled it. Pekoe would now—or when he grows up—be the mascotguardian of the consignment shop. He would have his own mice to chase among the trees and underbrush in the back lot. Lani, all smiles and giddy, carried Pekoe upstairs. In a few minutes, a bearded man walked over and sat down beside me. His clothes were clean, but stained with our iron-rich red dirt. “Where’d the kitty go?” he asked. “Upstairs,” I said, tossing my head and smiling. “She gonna keep it?” He asked like he knew he was too late. “Guess so.” “I coulda’ used that cat,” he said, standing and ready to leave. “He’d have loved all the crawly things I got out on my farm.” He walked away shaking his head. I scooted over into the shifted shade of the table umbrella and propped my feet on another chair. The sound of heavy equipment made me look. The Jon was being moved farther back. Kilauea wasn’t erupting this morning and the trades blew fresh. I breathed in deep and watched nearby palms sway in the breeze. It was another magnificent day in paradise. Are YOU in it?
Denver is about a thousand miles from the Twin Cities. My intent was to camp on the Colorado Trail just outside Denver on the second night of the trip. The older one gets, I found, the harder it is to drive long distances alone. If the first five-hundred-mile day was tolerable – barely – I was grumbling incessantly by the afternoon of the second. But the urge to get into the wilderness was strong, and I kept on. If civilization has not formed a crust over our souls, we are drawn, as if by some mystical attraction, to the wild places. My keenness to get on the Trail growing with each passing mile closer to my destination, I sailed through eastern Colorado and metropolitan Denver, never leaving the freeway, almost fierce – though driving carefully – to hike and camp before dark. Following a windy road, just south of Denver, paved and then gravel, by five-thirty I was at the trailhead at the start of segment 2 of the Trail. I threw gear, food and water into a pack and set off into the darkening pine forest. My spirits flew. If this wasn’t home, it was a lot closer than the confines of a vehicle or comforts of a motel. Here was a measure of serenity. A large doe mule deer bounded past, stopped and regarded me with mutual awe and curiosity. Stirred by the deer and the forest, I pushed on for some three miles before stopping for the night. I enjoyed the freeze-dried meal and lay awake in the tent for a long time, listening to the hum and buzz of insects and catching, once, the distinctive bark of the pika (a rabbit-like rodent). 17
Hiking out in the cool of the morning was a memorable delight. Coming to the place where the forest opens up, I lingered in the shade of a rocky ledge, soaking in the vista – mountains in ranks, rising above the tree line and fading into the sky on the horizon. This, I thought, is why we come to the wild places – for the beauty and the physical challenge, one to quicken the soul, the other the body. Here we live the most. Here all the irksome necessities and drudgeries of comfortable living seem shallow and distracting. We belong in the wild – at least some of the time – because it engages us deeply. We yearn for it. At some level, people sense this; thus, for instance, the popularity of the National Parks. My next stop was the junction of segments 10 and 11, where the Trail meets a spur trail to the top of Mount Elbert, the highest point in the state. The 14ers are ranked by difficulty. Though the highest, Mount Elbert is by no means the most difficult. Still, it is a long, arduous trudge to the top. “This is a marathon,” I kept telling myself, “not a mile run. Slow down, take baby-steps, drink plenty of water, you’ll get there.” I crested the huge dome I had been approaching from a distance, only to discover that it was a false peak. The next, rocky peak was the top. In a little over three hours, I was having my photo taken at the staff stuck into a cairn that marks the highest point in the state (14,433’). A gaggle of happy climbers, mostly young, milled about, chattering and laughing. In every direction, the vistas are stunning. The land is a symphony of mountains and forests, lakes and rivers. From far above the treeline, the pine forest resembles a thick, dark-green carpet. The lakes glisten darkly like shards of mica in the sun. As any climber can tell you (but as for me, if the climb requires more than a sturdy pair of hiking shoes, I’m not up for it), coming down a mountain is the more risky part of the climb. Fatigue and inattention can combine to make the descent treacherous. I still bear two partially healed scrapes. The campground was welcome that night. In the wild, the change from high-tech comfort and 18
convenience to primal living arrests our attention. Food tastes better when we are starved for calories and must take some trouble to prepare it. Fret over calories? It’s hard to eat enough. Water soaks into us. We notice the effort to do things we take for granted at home. One could not camp without sound knees; there is too much crouching and getting up. We sleep better when fatigue consumes us. The first cup of coffee in the morning is sheer delight. After Mount Elbert, I was bound for the beauty of the alpine areas. The guidebook to the Colorado Trail identifies the segments north of Durango as the best places to see wildflowers in bloom. I drove south and west, heading for segments twenty-five to twenty-seven. After a night in the vehicle in a pouring rain in Pagosa Springs, just east of Durango, I drove into the mountains south of Durango on a bumpy gravel road. The sign said, “Four Wheel Drive Vehicles Only,” and I have that capability. But still I was scared off by the bumping and scraping on the boulders and deep ruts. I parked the vehicle and hiked three hours and seven miles to get above the tree-line. It was worth it. Wildflowers in gorgeous profusion bedecked the mountain flanks – vast fields of reds, yellows, blues and whites, with the flirtatious and proud columbines, the prettiest of all, scattered about in stately, delicate handfuls of mauve beauty. On another hike into the alpine, sometimes through fields of flowers, waist-high, I encountered a throughhiker who had only three days left in his hike of the entire length of the Trail. He was twenty-two, stronglegged and eager to talk to somebody. We talked about Africa (he had been there with his parents at age eleven), photography and close calls in the wild (he said a lightning storm on a mountain top on the current trip had almost killed him). The conversation ended only when an angry cloud dumped hail on us. The final alpine hike was on a trail into Yankee Boy Basin. Yankee Boy is a cirque, a magical amphitheater of mountains, draped in snow slides and decorated with wildflowers. A river cascades through the Basin and a waterfall tumbles down the center of the mountainous semicircle. At the top of the trail, a Mississippi Crow Magazine
serene alpine lake lies nestled among the peaks. Arguably, the Basin is one of the prettiest places in the state. I lingered for some time at the snow-encircled lake, mesmerized, taking photos of the lovely setting. Perhaps I should mention in passing that I stopped in Aspen for an afternoon. It was Friday, a lovely day, and the resort town was very busy. To get into the ranger station to ask directions to a campground I had to make a left turn. Who knows how long I would have had to wait for a break in the traffic had not some cowboy in a 4 x 4 pickup waved me through? The place is a bustle of chic people, a stylish madhouse. Gas was $5.10 a gallon. But the mountain falls to the foot of the town – a lovely setting for the madness. I camped at Lost Man campground, well out of Aspen. Drawn by the beauty of the setting, I hiked a trail in the area for hours before dark, taking photos as my mood and the vistas beckoned. The next day, I headed for Mount Evans, a 14er near Denver, a rocky ridge of several peaks. But I cheated on Mount Evans, driving up to Summit Lake at 12,800’. There I slept in the vehicle. It is chilly at that
altitude and one draws a deep breath from time to time. But the climb in the morning, a boulderscramble of some 1,500’ to the peak at one end of the ridge, was not too difficult. I was lucky enough to see a mountain goat, unconcerned about me, feeding nearby as I hiked past. I sat on the top for a long time, absorbing the vistas of mountainous terrain as far as the distant horizon. When I got back to the vehicle, I drove, among the stream of tourists – also reaching out to touch the wild – up the steep and narrow road to the far end of the summit ridge. People stopped to ogle three mountain sheep feeding idly along the road. For the crowd of tourists, the vistas at the top were no less bewitching. After hiking among the ancient bristlecone pines on the flanks of Mount Evans, I was bound for home. The long drive – with two nights in campgrounds in Nebraska and Iowa – was much easier than the drive out had been.
Genius by Christopher Woods Are YOU in it?
Peapod by Peter Bates
Mississippi Crow Magazine
Are YOU in it?
Powers of the Full Moon
She waited her turn, hoping the clock would not tic away, making her one minute late.
—Diane M Deifel
Jim put his timecard in the rack and said. “Hi Rachel, you’re looking good tonight.” Jim was a teaser, so she ignored his attempt at flirting. Jim repeated what he had said. “Hi Rachel, you’re looking really good tonight, going casual ha!”
The hospital called again and asked Rachel to work an extra night shift even though she was tired from a hard day at home. To make matters worse, there was a full moon and as every nurse knows, it was going to be a hard night when there is a full moon playing its games on the patients minds. As was her custom, she took a nap just prior to going to work. She wanted to be sure that she was alert for her patients. On this Saturday evening she was so tired when she lay down that she actually fell asleep. When she awoke, she found she slept a little longer then she planned and was running late. Her white two piece skirted uniform was hanging on the door, so she hurriedly washed her face and began getting dressed. While glancing at the clock, she put on her white nylon’s, her white nursing shoes then grabbed the uniform jacket and put it on as she ran out the door to her car. Rachel wanted to bring donuts for her co-workers, so she stopped at the all night bakery. There was only one other customer and the guy behind the counter when she got to the shop. She waited patiently for the counter man to wait on the other customer. Rachel noticed that the man standing next to her kept looking in the direction of her legs. How rude of him, she thought and she turned her back on him, trying to eliminate any opportunity for him to engage her in conversation. He finally finished his purchase and left. Then she turned her attention to the donuts and the clerk who was addressing her. She selected a variety of donuts so her fellow employees would have a choice. The donut man packaged them up and she was on her way. Arriving at the hospital, she was exactly on time. Rachel used the back entrance, because it was closer to the time-clock. Running into the building she was met by her fellow employee Jim the engineer punching in. 22
“I don’t have time for this Jim, I’ve got to keep moving, and it’s late.” Rachel said with exasperation in her voice. “Well, you’d better make a little time; I don’t think you want to go onto work looking like that.” Jim said. Rachel stopped in her tracks. She saw the stupid grin on his face. “What in the world are you talking about?” He continued to grin as he stared at her legs. Her eyes drifted down towards her legs and her face flushed with color. There she was standing, half dressed. She was wearing her white shoes, white nylon and a jacket. She forgot to put on her skirt. “Oh shoot, now what am I going to do?” she said with a tinge of hysteria in her voice. Time no longer was important. It was her embarrassment as well as her lower body that needed covering up. Irritating Jim stepped in to save the day. He said. “Rachel if you go up to the maternity floor, they have scrubs you can put on for the night. It would save you a trip home.” “That’s a great idea Jim,” Rachel replied, “I am so embarrassed, this has never happened before.” Then Jim came up with a second suggestion. “Why don’t you go directly to your work station with those donuts? I’ll get the scrubs and bring them to you in exchange for one donut. “Oh would you Jim that would be wonderful. There Mississippi Crow Magazine
is no sense in anyone else seeing me like this.” Rachel ran towards the stairwell in hopes of avoiding any other preying eyes. On the way to her nursing station, she suddenly realized why the customer at the donut shop was giving her the eye. “How embarrassing, and to think I thought he was trying to pick me up,” she said to the empty stairwell. He was probably trying to think of a way to tell me to go home and finish getting dressed. A short time later, Jim showed up with the clean scrubs. He got his donut and everyone else got a good laugh. Heck it wasn’t so bad, just a little embarrassing. When you think about it, it is a miracle it doesn’t happen more often to night shift workers. As it turned out, it wasn’t the patients that were affected by the full moon that night, it was the nurse. That dreaded full moon, did have some surprising powers.
Diane M. Deifel has always a been a day dreamer with an active imagination. Her professional career in nursing was fulfilling but her restless mind led her back to college where she discovered an ability to use her imagination for creative writing. Her career and other life experiences has lead to much of her work.
Copper Cut Road, Santa Rita Range Late shadows glide over the desertscape. They scuttle over sun-ripened larkspur, drift through cutbanks and the lithic scatter of vanquished tribes. Some shadows once ferried their survival across the last ice age. Other shadows have long since left the earth, as if they had resigned their tenure here, coming to lie still in canyons or caves where they overlapped, waiting for thunder.
Bliss Some things you can’t look at can’t look away from can’t get out of your head stopped at a traffic light I look down black and white and bleeding out a small cat lies already dead and doesn’t know it golden bell about her neck jingles with every move she had belonged to someone she washes her face genetically instructed to perform this final act of macabre grooming pink tongue licking pink paws stroking she purrs a death rattle ignorant of the inevitable numb to life blooming out of her looking into green eyes glazing over you’d hardly notice hind quarters severed legs tossed casually onto the median or how the gutter runs crimson now some things you can’t get rid of even after all those years as you fasten my necklace as I straighten your tie I hear her purr.
—Carla Martin-Wood —Jeffrey C. Alfier Are YOU in it?
Photo by Carrie Crow 24
Mississippi Crow Magazine
PICTURE POSTCARDS My toes turn yellow, then orange, and then crumble off inside my shoes. Every October, I stagger around like a new drunk, convinced my life is over and done with. My hair falls out, circling in a V formation above me, before flying south. My skin dries up, becoming beige or yellow, and my arms, fingers, hands crash to the ground like fleshy apples, fodder for the late night deer. Another year slips out the back door without as much as a goodbye, leaving me to stare out the windows as the world collapses into picture postcards. It would help if I grew in wisdom or knowledge, but I simply know less than I did a year ago, and Iâ€™m more certain of that. As the afternoon carries pieces of me out under the night sky, this string of breath I hold frays a bit, pulling me forward, though all I want to do is go back.
â€”David James Are YOU in it?
The All-too-Human Extraterrestrial Crisis I was now medicated enough to not panic as the craft’s lights penetrated the curtains of my bedroom window. I got up, put on my boots and fleece jacket and walked outside. The large silver flying saucer hovered in my backyard, no louder than a refrigerator. The hatch at the bottom of the craft slowly opened making a hissing sound and out he came, lithe and greenish with a larger than usual head. He had big black oval-shaped eyes, which, for the first time ever, seemed to express emotion. He’d been abducting me for years to study my teeth and his demeanor had always been methodical—not cold, but businesslike, until tonight. Was it sadness? Depression? It was definitely something out of the ordinary. Our communication didn’t involve words but it was as clear as if words were spoken. “You ready for me?” I asked reluctantly. “No,” he said. He looked down and shook his head. “No. I don’t think so.” I was pleased. My teeth were still sore from the last time he visited. “What’s wrong?” I asked, feigning empathy. “You seem down.” “You ever questioned what you were doing with your life?” “Sure.” I shrugged. “Everyone does, at times.” “Yeah, I guess. You have any idea how old it gets studying teeth all night?” “I bet,” I said, nodding. “So, what’s your passion?” I just blurted that out like a high school counselor, probably in an attempt to lift his spirits. 26
“Crop circles,” he said, shaking his head incredulously. “Listen to me. Like I’m going to give up my research agenda to become an artestrial.” I had learned enough about the nuances of his communication to deduce that artestrial must stand for extraterrestrial artist. Artestrials, apparently, are responsible for creating crop circles. He fiddled nervously with his long fingers. “I guess I shouldn’t complain, though,” he said, “researching teeth is better than mutilating cattle.” He didn’t use the word mutilating but I knew what he meant. Although, I found the comment strange considering how I hadn’t read about cattle mutilation in many years. I figured that it must be an extraterrestrial idiom, similar to me saying, At least I’m not a telemarketer. “It would be a sacrifice,” I said, “making such a big career change.” “Yep,” he said. He looked off to the side as if something caught his attention. I looked too but there was nothing there. Then it dawned on me that he might be crying. “Yep,” he said again, avoiding eye contact. “Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I won’t be visiting anymore.” “My molars thank you,” I said, relieved. But then I felt bad and wished I said something like, I’ll miss you, but we both knew that would’ve been a lie. He made a funny gesture with his hand, which I took to mean a wave goodbye. So I waved and said goodbye. Then I walked back inside my house, got in bed and pulled the covers snug up to my chin.
Curtis Mississippi Crow Magazine
Photo: Blue Object by Peter Schwartz Are YOU in it?
To Soar I wish I were a bird, a powerful eagle, maybe a white dove, or I’d settle for being a goose because a gaggle of geese are a cohesive lot that support one another as they fly in V formation with each taking a turn in the lead to cut a trough through the air as the others ride in the wake which enables them to rest and ultimately fly farther like we could have so that we could attain potentials never reached before in this little world of endless sorrow and woe that I am locked into and keeps me wishing to soar as you in your world seem to have it all and go about your days smiling in secrecy and leave me alone to hold together the fraying bits of our lives without so much as gratitude because we simply do not speak; you for fear that you might make a slip of the tongue about where you’ve been and me because I’ve remained a caged, frail prisoner of conscience far too long, but now I plan to soar because I followed your car with me the free bird driving mine until I saw where you lay low yet could not reason why; while I remained at a distance imagining you experiencing stolen moments of ecstasy that do not include me because you and I have lost the desire to feather the same nest except when you drop your dirty social laundry on me 28
and expect me to protect your public image once more which makes me again wish to be any unencumbered bird and all too often I do escape to soar above the rooftops and trees and into the clouds to feel the wind and rain cleansing me of your indiscretions and restoring the life that is mine which is freer than yours in your clandestine little world because it is exactly that, little, as I being in denial flying in my car follow you night after night as if I have to feel the pain again and again to make me stop my escapism and to free myself from the confines you have built to keep me grounded so I can truly be that graceful bird soaring up and away from the state of confusion that you have brought upon us because out there where I am free I have found new strength through the grace of imagined autonomy that gives me courage to hover again and again near that house where I watch the shadows on the blinds and see the lights go out and later come back on dimly just before you leave to return home as if you owned the world in which I also live and where my imaginary flights have strengthened me as I plan to soar and no matter that I am awkward like a goose, all you will be left with after this free bird swoops down is the mess that I’m about to drop on you.
—Mary Deal Mississippi Crow Magazine
Hawk in Full Strike by Jim Fuess Are YOU in it?
Sunflower Dreams by Linda Woods 30
Mississippi Crow Magazine
By This Time Tomorrow, I’ll Be Gone She wore his sweater that night just before passion inflamed its exile. It was warm… as it is now, though tattered as was once unbeaten, and the conveyance paralyzed the repertoire of imagery. The lasting heat of his body pressed the wool draping the frailty of her form as the interconnection of his scent bestowed a fragrance of recent past… for the journey she knew all too well, was one of the heart. He no longer lived within sweater threads. He lived only in her memory. Through a tired dusting of slivered illumination, Juniper dimmed beneath puddled shafts of ocher, allowing her fingers a trace meditation, and as she traveled rivulets, seeping in steady flow… the whole of the world wept beside her. Sinking deeper into grief, her eyes followed listlessly. The hum of his voice and the vagueness of his face, everything seemed to fade. Within moonlit streams, lost reflections bow in prismatic dance, and a sullen air of guileful silver rain trembles the story. That morning Juniper woke, as usual to the right side of the bed… the other now lay empty as if a spiteful game of white linens and downy cushions. Charily meditating a propensity of thought, memories fade into life’s obscurity as if never captured, as if they had always belonged to someone else who would ascend above the world, prospering in the hearts of many. She wept that afternoon, on the anniversary of love’s evocation and the newness of his death, though she returned to the market as usual. She went alone, as did she return. She wept before the strangers and in the face of childhood familiarity, teaching her feet to blind the journey while her heart endured the truth. Entering the market and its bustle of anxious customers, she looked briefly to the woman standing, nearly hidden, behind a large counter of outdated newspaper, candlewicks, shoe polish, and a number of miscellaneous items strangely co-inhabiting the same dingy shelving. The tawny bruise lounging in the shadows of her left eye was prominent; her nails chipped of color in Are YOU in it?
pauper’s polish, though from the swollen air splattering her ripened appearance, she seemed to have found peace in her just solidarity. Her shadows-black as night, carried the luggage of her life-- showed evidence of caramel dust. It smudged beneath without her acknowledgment, but the coverage was intentional as baker’s powder smeared the green apron that strangled her waist. A residual print of ground wheat like painted hands on children’s sidewalks, struggled to conceal endurance. The man in the corner slumped brittle with experience, panting his cloud of cherry smoke, appeared undaunted by the day. He glanced upward, both curious and fleeting... his once prevalent sparkle, all but vanished. Tears stained Juniper’s face as it began to rain, a dark curtain of profound symbolism draped idle by the hands of fate. She clasped her slender hands over her mouth and thinks of her skin, examining its delicate surface that is wiser than yesterday. Her eyes widen with grief, though remained expressionless to the world of ignorance, and the rusty bell dangling freely from its market door playground overhead, chimed her departure. A silent crescendo of sympathy in the demand of fear and solitude. Golden tendrils of hair brush an ivory smoothness that he once said was, “God sent,” and then discovers the sullen arch of her spine, drifting into ringlets that descend. The memory wept inside as if clandestine curios that wither with dreams at sunrise, orphaned to the boundaries of a bed pillow. I am the blossom, though no one is here to record the sounds a heart makes when it is breaking… no one sits in quiet observation to the rhythm composed while living. I am the vine at my flowers base, an imploration rooted to a divine fragrance amongst distant fields of beauty and grandeur… as distant as the hidden petals waiting inside my wedding dress pocket.
—Sara A. Harris 31
Faces, Quirks, and Personality â€”Mary Deal Only twenty basic faces or facial structures exist throughout the world. I read this somewhere and it caused me to look deeper at the characters about which I both read and wrote. Fortunately, many variations of these twenty faces exist. One story I read described the heroine as a ravenhaired beauty with emerald eyes. Since we draw upon personal memories of people who resemble these descriptions, that one caused me to imagine a stately woman with black hair, green eyes, and a milky complexion. Some time later, I read the same simple description in another story. Wow, this woman gets around. In order to create characters that are not mirror images of all the rest, we need to further define them, maybe give them some quirks. What if the raven-haired beauty with green eyes had a birthmark on her cheek? Not a dark one, but noticeable enough as to make her feel insecure from childhood on? That would make her different in so many ways. Her insecurity might cause her to have a timid personality, something she needed to overcome in her adult years. Suppose she was so high-strung that she stuttered when excited, stuttered to the point of getting on people's nerves. Her personality would certainly be different than that of a demure beauty with a birthmark. If this woman was perfect in every way, and doted upon as a child and her beauty exemplified, she would have a different outlook, perhaps an overweening personality. She would have different life obstacles to overcome. A single quirk can define the personality of any character. We writers must make our characters different from 32
all the rest, no matter how common they begin. The ways we make them different affects their personalities. And what is a character without a distinct personality? Be diligent and give your characters variances, but be careful to give them the types of quirks that will define their persona as needed in the plot.
Scene Changes â€”Mary Deal A scene ends when the action ends or the conversation can add no more to that part of the story. Maybe one scene is in the grocery store; the next scene is outside on the docks. Usually when a huge shift in location happens, you begin a new chapter. (Don't try to write a sequel to "My Dinner with Andre" which happened totally in one scene at the dinner table. It's been done and was successful because the actors were good.) When you end a scene, leave the reader wondering what could happen next and wanting to read further. It's called a cliff hanger. Leave something unfinished, like a threat of action yet to happen and we can see one character gearing up to do some dirty work. The reader wonders what could possible happen next? And so they keep turning pages. Or maybe it's a romance and you end the scene with two people simply staring into each others' eyes wondering if they could work as a couple. When you move to the next scene, jump into the middle of it. Use very little narration to set the scene. Best is to knit the action, narration and dialogue together. Depending on how you present your story, you do not need to have each new scene be a result of another. In other words, that cute couple I just mentioned are staring into each other's eyes. You wouldn't and shouldn't start you next chapter with them in a new location, still cuddling up to get to know each other. Once you introduce that they are mutually attracted, the next scene (the whole story middle) should have action that pulls them apart. Every couple has baggage Mississippi Crow Magazine
to air before they become a couple. Regardless what background or location you place them in, the action must be lively. Keep the idea of a cliff hanger in mind when you finish your chapters. Cliff hanger = An exciting hint of things to come; something to make the reader want to know more.
The Dewdrop Its dome discusses horizon to horizon in reflection, in its voice the sun's echo. A cloud hangs inside the glass bead suspended from a grass blade -- the crystal ball mirrors a cricket's superstitious eye, foretells drizzle of leaves as if each dangled from a spider's thread, until unreeled groundward. The breeze fogs this image with the breath of spoiled apples. So many years in a season condense, speak in the scent of crawlers' inching through walls of wine and rust, then the ball clears: a winding worm is a high rise against the skyline, says the dew in whose mirror
Sleep and Creativity —Mary Deal Want to wake in the morning with more creativity? Then pay attention to what’s on your mind when you fall asleep. Research has proven that the mind uses its most recent daytime images and thoughts to create dreams. So, too, the mind produces the mood with which you wake after sleeping. No matter what story you work on, do not think about it as you fall asleep. Instead, before going to bed, do something to put you in a relaxed state. Play some soothing music, preferably without vocals, which can plant new thoughts. Yoga, maybe? Or walking? If you're one of those people who fall into bed exhausted, then concentrate only on your breathing. Then trust your mind to work on what’s necessary since you’ve put it at ease. The state you wish to create for your mind is one that you have not directed. The mind knows what’s necessary, better than you know what’s important. Get into the habit of allowing your mind to work for you. You’ve heard the saying, “I’ll sleep on it.” Then the person goes about doing something else. In the morning, the answer comes. It’s the same principle. Trust your mind. Mary Deal is the author of three published novels, “The Tropics,” “The Ka” and “River Bones” (available at amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.) She has written numerous stories and articles and her website is a valuable resource for writers: www.writeanygenre.com. Mary was a 2009 Pushcart Prize nominee.
a small circle of sun suddenly drops into the shadow of thrush wings. Darkness and the moon step into the conversation: a stride of history exhaled as morning mist. —- Henry Louis Shifrin Are YOU in it?
Life Imitating Art Imitating Life Emmiline sat at her computer thinking about plot. Suppose, she thought, the timid, middle-aged, protagonist had an obnoxious daughter— someone completely selfabsorbed, rude, in the way that only a teenager could be? The contrast might lend itself to good drama. As Emmiline was beginning to sketch the possibilities out in her mind, her own daughter Trudy entered the room.
around in the daughter’s shadow, picking up after her, afraid to set the slightest of limits. Emmiline shifted on the sofa. One of the cushions moved, revealing one of Trudy’s half-eaten chocolate bars, melted and bleeding into the suede covering. She put her pen down and rushed for a damp cloth. She scrubbed the spot again and again, but it only grew larger and dingier. Emmiline felt her own resentment swell in unison. But suppose, something were to happen to change the relationship? she thought. It would have to be something dramatic. Something big. How, for example, might the daughter react if her mother had inoperable cancer? Might she snap out of her self-absorption long enough for a meaningful reconciliation? Would the tables finally turn? Would the girl bring the mother tea in bed? Ask for forgiveness? Emmiline wondered and wondered how the girl would react, if at all? Would she cry? Wring her hands? It had to be authentic—nothing over-the-top. But how do you gauge the capacity of the human heart? Especially a damaged heart like that one. A slow smile crept over Emmiline’s face.
“I need to get on the computer” Trudy said. She reached over and took the mouse from her mother’s hand, while simultaneously nudging her out of the chair with an Abercrombie and Fitch clad knee.
“Trudy!” she called out now.
Emmiline demurred sheepishly—she’d never felt her writing should be given the same priority as her daughter’s homework or her husband’s business correspondence. She moved into the den to work out her ideas. There was no reason she couldn’t write the old fashioned way. She sat down on the sofa with a notebook and soon began clicking her ball point pen thoughtfully.
“Come into the den,” Emmiline called back. “There’s something I need to tell you.”
What if the relationship between the main character and the daughter was completely dysfunctional? The daughter taking a position of power within the house, making constant demands when it came to supper menus and the family’s vacation plans. The mother could be a complete enabler, scurrying 34
“What?!!” screeched the ingrate from the computer room.
It was fascinating to watch the knees buckling. And she never would have known to include the hyperventilating. “Are you going to die?!!” her daughter sobbed. “Maybe” Emmiline said, her pen poised.
—Alison Bullock Mississippi Crow Magazine
A serial killer terrorizes residents among the lush orchards and farmlands of Californiaâ€™s Sacramento River Delta. Sara Mason is a woman whose destiny has brought her back home to the Delta, but her decision may lead her down a path lined with danger and straight into the arms of a madman in this captivating thriller.
Author Mary Deal
Read more about River Bones and order paperback, hardcover, or eBook copies from her Web site: http://www.writeanygenre.com/mystery-novels.html Mary Deal's official Web site: http://www.WriteAnyGenre.com Visit the Novels Section for Rave Reviews of River Bones, a thriller, just released in paperback ISBN 0-595-48172-8 and hardcover ISBN 0-595-71751-4. Author Mary Deal is a 2009 Pushcart Prize Nominee. Are YOU in it?
hundreds of on line zines. More of his published work can be viewed here: http://www.nyqpoets.net/poet/justinhyde.
(in the order they were received) Guy Kettelhack has authored, co-authored or contributed to more than 30 nonfiction books. His poetry has appeared in over 25 print and online journals, including Van Gogh’s Ear, Melic Review, New Pleiades, Malleable Jangle, WORM 33, Das Alchymist Poetry Review, the PK list, The Rose & Thorn, Heretics & Half-Lives, Desert Moon Review, Hiss Quarterly, Juked, Anon, Umbrella Journal, Mississippi Crow and The Chimaera. He lives in NYC.
Carla Martin-Wood’s second chapbook, Garden of Regret, is forthcoming from Pudding House Press, and she is currently working on her third book. Her poems have appeared in the US and Ireland since 1978, including Mississippi Crow, Rosebud, The Clapboard House, The Linnet’s Wings, ken*again, Soundzine, The Lyric, IBPC: New Poetry Voices, Up the Staircase, Flutter, Cherry Blossom Review, Oak Bend Review, State Street Review, Aura, Songs from the Web, Astarte, Elk River Review, Goblin Fruit, and many other journals. With a 13-year background in theatre, she has performed her work from The University of the South at Sewanee to Greenwich Village, and at many galleries, colleges, civic organizations and coffeehouses in between. She is a 2008 Pushcart Prize nominee, an in-house reader for Soundzine, and maintains a virtual open mic at Smoky Joe’s Café on her website at The Well RedHead: http:thewellreadhead.googlepages.com
Myrna Dupre’ Badgerow is a graduate of The Louisiana School for the Blind and makes her home in the bayou country of southern Louisiana. She enjoys writing, reading, and spending time with her family. She was nominated for the prestigious 2008 Pushcart award by the editors of Mississippi Crow magazine, named 2004's Poet of the Year at The Writing Forum as well as Poet of the Month in 2003 and 2006. She also has a credit as lyricist as one of my poems has been recorded in spoken word format on a CD by the band Against the Wall. Myrna’s first book of poetry, My Words, My Thoughts, My Heart (ISBN 1413726992) was released in July 2004. A second book, Conjunctions of Invisible Breath, is a collaborative collection of short verse, released in 2007. More of her work has appeared in several literary magazines, including Distant Echoes, Stellar Showcase Journal, Mississippi Crow, and Trellis Magazine. She has also been featured on numerous online venues.
Justin Hyde lives in Iowa where he works as a correctional officer. He’s had poems published in a broad spectrum of magazines ranging from the New York Quarterly and The Iowa Review to
C.P. Stewart lives with his family in North Yorkshire. Formerly singer/songwriter with the cult band Laughing Gravy, his poetry has been widely published in England, Canada and the United States. He is currently Poetry Editor for Sotto Voce Arts and Literary magazine (U.S.) For further information please visit: www.cpstewart-poet.co.uk.
Janet Butler: A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Janet and Fulmi-dog transferred to the Bay Area, California, after living for many years in central Italy. While in Italy the artist participated in numerous group exhibitions, both regionally and nationally. One of her portraits was featured in the Art Clinic, The Artist's Magazine, December, 2003, and she won various recognitions for her watercolors while living in Italy.
Jim Fuess works with liquid acrylic paint on canvas. Most of his work is abstract, but there are recognizable forms and faces in a number of the paintings. He is am striving for grace and fluidity, movement and balance. His painting technique involves using squeeze bottles with different viscosities of liquid paint, two brands of paint, and a number of interchangeable nozzles of different apertures. Website: www.jimfuessart.com. Jim Fuess was on the Executive Board of Directors and Vice President for Visual Arts at the Watchung Arts Center from 1993 through 1999. He is the Chairperson and Founder of the New Art Group (NAG). Jim Fuess has curated or been responsible for 94 art shows at the Watchung Arts Center and 35 shows for the New Art Group. He was the curator for art shows, in his hometown, at the Berkeley Heights Library.
James Keane resides in northern New Jersey with his wife and son and a menagerie of merry pets. His poems have appeared recently in The Tipton Poetry Journal, Mississippi Crow, Gold Dust, Sage Trail, Mirrors, and the Silver Boomers anthology, Freckles to Wrinkles. He was proud to read a poem he dedicated to his wife called “My Hero” at the open reading at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, held this past September at Waterloo Village in western New Jersey.
In 2004, Wendy Brown-Baez released her poetry CD Longing for Home and since then, has performed poetry nationally and in Mexico, in unique venues such as cafes, galleries, schools, and cultural centers, solo and in collaborations. She has published poetry in dozens of literary journals including Issue 7 of Mississippi Crow Magazine
Mississippi Crow, Borderlands, Out of Line, The Litchfield Review, The Awakenings Review, Blue Collar Review, Sin Fronteras, Wising Up Press, Minnetonka Review, Mizna, and on-line journals Lunarosity, and Flask and Pen. Her collection of love poems sensual and celestial, Ceremonies of the Spirit, is due out by Valetine's Day by Plain View Press. Wendy is the creator of Writing Circles for Healing writing workshops. She received a 2008 McKnight grant to teach a bilingual writing/performance workshop. For more info: www.wendybrownbaez.com
Sara A. Harris was born and raised in the heart of the Midwest, and launched her childhood affection for writing by jamming the keys of her mother’s Smith Corona typewriter. Boasting a versatility of literary fiction/nonfiction for Children, Juvenile/YA, and adult readership, she continues the avid pursuit of establishing her lifelong aspiration one story at a time. In 2007, Sara A. Harris received an Editor’s Choice Award for outstanding artistry by a poet, and in 2008, was selected as one of fourteen applicants to attend Simon Van Booy’s writing workshop. Her creative works have appeared in several publications, including print and online media.
Alison Bullock's short stories have appeared in the 2005 Momaya Anuual Review, Boston Literary Magazine and Every Day Fiction. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three children. Her email address is as follows: firstname.lastname@example.org
David James' new full-length book is forthcoming from March Street Press, She Dances Like Mussolini, 24 years after his first book was published. His oneact plays have been produced in New York, Massachusetts, and California. He teaches for Oakland Community College in Michigan.
Linda and Christopher Woods own Moonbird Hill Arts and live in Houston and Chappell Hill, Texas. Many of their recent photos are taken at or in the near vicinity of their farmhouse in Chappell Hill. Linda is an art teacher, metalsmith, and ceramicist. She has been active in photography for many years and studied with photographer, George Krause. She has a degree in Fine arts and also studied at Penland School of Crafts and Arrowmont School of Crafts. One of Linda’s passions in photography is to photograph animals in a way that tries to capture their spirit or soul through a photo. Christopher teaches creative writing to adults and is fairly new to photography. He has received residencies at The Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, and The Edward Albee Foundation in New York. Among his published works are a prose collection, Under A Riverbed Sky, and a collection of stage monologues for actors, Heartspeak. Are YOU in it?
Pat O'Regan was born and raised in a small town in Minnesota, Pat has remained in the state but for a tour in the Army and a stint teaching at a small college in upstate New York. His first career was as a biology instructor. Worn out from that, he began a second career as a business writer. On the side, he nurtured a passion for literature, writing his first novel and collection of short stories. With enough funds to slip the role of a starving artist, he set out on his third career – as a full-time writer of whatever he wanted. Pat has written three novels, three collections of short stories and many articles. A handful of the short stories and many of the articles have been published.
Russ Curtis lives and writes in Fletcher, NC, and teaches at Western Carolina University. His creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Timber Creek Review, Mississippi Crow, and Metabolism, among others. More often than not, Russ double-knots his shoelaces. This has more to do with comfort than safety.
Carrie Crow: Carrie Crow’s photographs have appeared in numerous international magazines. She lives in Paris.
Shawn Nacona Stroud's poetry has appeared in the Crescent Moon Journal, Mississippi Crow Magazine, Loch Raven Review, The Poetry Worm, and Here and Now. His work has appeared in the poetry anthologies Poetry Pages Vol IV and Poetry From The Darkside Vol 2 and was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize for 2008.
After years of writing and painting, Peter Schwartz has moved to another medium: photography. In the past his work's been featured in many prestigious print and online journals including: Existere, Failbetter, Hobart, International Poetry Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Reed, and Willard & Maple. Doing interviews, collaborating with other artists, and pushing the borders of creativity, his mission is to broaden the ways the world sees art. Visit his online gallery at: www.sitrahahra.com. Henry Louis Shifrin resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife Julie, daughter Josie and son Ezra. He studied creative writing (fiction, poetry and playwriting) at the University of Maryland, College Park. He now works in software development, 37
Journal of a Drowning Man Episode the First When last we saw our hero, Nigel, he was drinking himself sodden in a pub. With no regard for his family or friends, he took his dubious pleasures where he found them. More than anything, he enjoyed insulting strangers. There were morons in the house. No doubt they wanted their money back, too. That made them worse than morons. It made them morongs. Nigel lowered his cap brim over his eyes as he muttered into his empty glass, "They've come to the wrong place then, haven't they?" As one of the larger morongs lifted him by the scruff of the neck, Nigel cursed him roundly until blows from the witless herd rained down upon his face. Once they tired of thrashing him, Nigel managed to eke out a retort. "See here," he mumbled, spitting out a bloody tooth, "is that any way to treat your Daddy?" Episode the Second In an airport lounge on the fifth of May, in Cuernavaca, Nigel sat with both his elbows on the bar and furtively admired the dusky barmaid. Her one gold tooth was very appealing. It glittered when she smiled, which was all the time. He had almost persuaded himself that it was a good idea to ask for a referral to her dentist. But she had already slapped him once. Too many of his personal encounters of late were turning violent for no apparent reason. Episode the Third
The eyes of a mental incompetent stared back at him as he washed his face and the thought passed through him that he was not that man he saw recidivating along toward the departed buzzland of afternoons in the basking sunny brightness of earlier Februaries, when all to the pad flew Nigel's most earnest thoughts, in sentences graphic with shimmering tremors and voices pluperfect of speech. (The talent of one so young, in so slight ways gone awry.) Episode the Fourth Meditations on the word "if" If he had gone into politics instead of sales.. If he had just learned how to play the guitar... If he had forced himself to read more women poets... If he had not, at an early age, fallen in love with danger... If he had been less selfish altogether and more concerned with the feelings of othersâ€Ś Nigel, at the brink of self-discovery, lay alone in a motel room without cable, watching talk shows and contemplating the indicators that his very existence was, at best, insignificant. If he was not even the center of his own universe, thenâ€Ś Unable to defragment his brainpan long enough to form a thought, Nigel covered his face with a sweaty pillow and tried to remember who he was before he was locked in the room with no booze. Episode the Fifth In Nigel's dream a phone was ringing. Someone was trying to call him, perhaps with an offer of employment. But he was not available to take the call because he was asleep.
Mississippi Crow Magazine
Also in the dream he was an important person whose every minute of the day was closely budgeted and scheduled weeks in advance. To be so busy, it did not follow that he was sleeping through important phone calls during business hours. But in dreams, incongruity is the rule rather than the exception, so Nigel slept on, with full confidence in his staff's ability to manage his affairs.
—K.C. Wilson C’mon folks, what’re ya waiting for? Order your print copies online of this and/or past issues of the Mississippi
Life and Death Death reeked across the valley in disfiguration, as the tides rose onto the bleak shore. She was the sole survivor on the island -- the queen of mile-long loneliness in the midst of rubbles. A host of morbid leaves once embracing the burnt driftwood next to the corroded pebbles now crowned her in sarcasm. The piece of ochre log was soon washed-away by the salty waves and then the leaves dried and shattered into dust. Her footsteps on the sand also perished as the water departed.
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These episodes of saline fury brought about newer forms of struggles for her each day, and any invention or idea to defeat the monstrous waves would break down into shambles early next morning. A dam shattered like trampled matchsticks, and her straw abode dispersed into scattered bundles on the beach now studded with starfish.
http://stores.lulu.com/RiverMuse All contributors to the Mississippi Crow Magazine will receive as payment, an ebook copy of the issue in which their work appears and a free listing of their website as space allows. Sandee Lyles
Sun Sneezing He had that Autosomal Dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst Syndrome, which just meant he often sent Saliva streaming sunward out his spout. He wore dark shades and hats, enjoyed the rare Clouds over California, and brought shame Upon the defense, sneezing everywhere As their opponents scored to win the game. When heading home, he drove along the 10 But found he’d left his glasses at the field. So turning east, he headed back for them And reached the Hoover exit, where you yield To merging traffic, when by chance the sun Appeared. He sneezed, they braked. Too late. He's gone. —Holly Painter Are YOU in it?
So she ran into the cave, where the water rose from below to sink her; and then she fled to the mountains, where the scorching rays struck with no sympathy amidst the blighted rocks, and a bald eagle stared continuously with lust. Then she dashed again, glaring at the slithering rattler hungrily. These occurrences of despondency only reset the clock back to the beginning in her attempts to build a life, while life never really stopped. Soon wrinkles formed below her fatigued eyes, and her bones became old, fragile. Yet she lingered on from one spot to another, to live half dead.
—Fariel Shafee 39
The vale, a mini grand canyon, most of the time, cloaked in the opaque fog of obscurity, was clear today. The floor of the dale is flat and scattered with large boulders, crippled bushes, weedy, slimy plants and an imponderable, stillness that follows sins of willful nonappearance.
I know what you see when you look at me; you see a big woman... a woman confident and able, roomy, red cheeked, and lush, comforting and comfortable, soft, yet solid and wide of girth. My eyes tell you I am a woman you can trust. Opinionated and outspoken, I am an honest woman with a big mouth, and a big heart, who speaks what’s on her mind; a woman of wit and wisdom, sarcasm and mirth... sometimes an angry warrior; an Amazon you do not push, ...a real Mother Earth.
Was here, with my dog Stella, to look for and hunt rabbits, by a boulder I saw a rabbit bigger then a red fox, I shot it in the head with my 22 calibre rifle; still convulsing when I came up to it, kicked it to death with the rifle butt and saw it was not a gregarious mammal. Hundreds of them, hairy monster rats looking at me from every boulder and holes in the ground. I moved backwards didn’t dare turn my back, but they came closer I panicked and fled; Stella stood her ground defending me till I could get up on the road of cowardice yet again. Friday Night Blues. The stab of a stiletto pierces my heart, stop now remember to walk slowly, do not dance to the music of your mind it fools you to think that the fat man you see in the shop window aren’t you, but an old dupe bad on his feet. Quick step and tango, no big deal I do dance at home when alone, close my eyes and sway, yeah, baby I’ve got rhythm, in the night when they have all gone to bed; a bottle of wine and dreams, you wouldn’t know I was old. I shot into the melee of rats till I had no bullets left, but I could not save my dog; fine rain a foul smelling miasma filled the ravine packed with phobias, odium and fear of the indefinite; one day I will be back hunt and kill nightmares, clear the valley and built a temple to purity.
—Jan Oskar Hansen 40
What you do not see, when you look at me, is the little girl, the timid child who hides behind the big woman. The child who does not laugh, who does not cry, who does not speak; a black velvet painting child with huge haunted eyes, always watching, who clutches at the hem of the big strong woman. But sometimes, if you look very close and very hard, you can see the shadow she casts as she tiptoes past, behind the eyes of the big Earth Mother. Now! Quick! See her there? Persephone... quaking in the corner. —Elaine Pedersen Destined to become an iconic history of Alaskan life along the Glenn Highway during the latter part of the 20th century, this book details the daily activities of Norman and Sylvia Wilkins (and frequently, of their friends and neighbors) including the struggles and frustrations of living on the frozen tundra. Norman Wilkins and Slovenia-born Ladislava Kolenc (Sylvia to those who know her) met in postwar Gorizia Italy in 1946, marrying there in 1948. Norman had long felt the pull of the north, drawn to the mystique of Alaska— “The Last American Frontier” many said, and once the children were on their own, that desire to go north grew stronger. He made more than one hunting trip to Alaska before the 1978 expedition included in this book, and as the trips unfolded, so did Norman’s desire to make Alaska his permanent home—to be a part of the expansive wilderness and yes, explore for gold! They did find gold in Alaska. They found it in the air, the mountains, the wildlife and especially in the people—the people they worked shoulder to shoulder with and shared their table with, each one weaving an independent piece of the tapestry of everyday life along the Glenn Highway during those years. The contents of this book have been transcribed from Norman’s notebook-style pages as originally written with the exception of occasional edits and insertions for clarity. Book two, the second part of this story is already in the planning stages.
For info go to: www.10000daysinalaka.com Mississippi Crow Magazine
Articles by Mary Deal, poetry by Shawn Nacona Stroud among others, flash fiction, photographs and art by numerous talented writers and artis...
Published on Jan 27, 2009
Articles by Mary Deal, poetry by Shawn Nacona Stroud among others, flash fiction, photographs and art by numerous talented writers and artis...