a journal curating literary arts Volume 2.1 Summer 2017
indicia a journal curating literary arts Volume 2.1 Winter 2017 PDF Collection © June 2017 indicia Layout by AJ Urquidi. Cover art: “Lights I” by Suleima Garcia. All authors and artists retain rights to their individual pieces. This journal must not be reproduced, in part or in whole, without written consent of the contributor, except when cited partially for reviews. Contact email@example.com to be put in touch with contributors, or for other inquiries.
Executive Editors: Marcus Clayton & AJ Urquidi Fiction Editors: Casandra Hernández Rios & Ashton Politanoff Poetry Editors: Jax NTP & Toren Wallace
in this issue: 1 2 3
editors’ introduction Counting Teeth – Heath Brougher Jesus – Ernst Luchs lacuna – Kristen Skjonsby
5 7 10 11
Lights II – Suleima Garcia Showing Them – B.H. James LMao Like U ADun No – Rose Knapp Surviving a Phobia: Soap Cakes – Jon Riccio
13 15 16 18 19
No One Likes You – Suleima Garcia Having Spent an Autumn Day Hiking, I Lay Down and Dream of Pumpkins – Shane Eaves when a person lives in a spider’s nest – David Diaz The Steel Door – Edith Gallagher Boyd Third Letter to Olena – Lisa Marie Brodsky
23 25 26
Ojos – Suleima Garcia Backyard in Bellflower – Idalith Bustos Shark Fishing – Zach Mann
33 35 37 39 41 42
Lights I – Suleima Garcia One Degree Away – Genelle Chaconas Cannoli – Gianna Stoddard Sanford Jolly – Scott MacAulay Hyperreal Codex Co. – Rose Knapp somedays the starving – Kathryne Gargano
43 45 46 47 48
Static Snow – Suleima Garcia We Have Not Arrived – Alexandra Umlas The Field, and its Contents – Dylan Karlsson Modern Architecture – Shane Eaves cortex – Kristen Skjonsby contributors
editors’ introduction indicia: in-DISHy-yuh n. pl. (1) differentiating marks, characters, or signs, or (2) a biannual literary arts magazine
— featuring poetry, flash and short prose, and art — that says “out with the old guard, in with the noobs.”
For each issue of indicia, we seek poems, art, and short and shorter prose that hunker down at the fringes of the experimental and the accessible, with a special emphasis on developing their own sense of play. What we generally receive fills out the vast spectrum of these qualities, and the ones that make the biggest impression on us as vibrant, necessary, and/or bizarre are presented within these pages. The new voices we encountered while reading this issue’s submissions were splendiferous in their irreverence, vitriol, stoicism, and compassion. The writers and artists our editors gravitated towards this time around emerged from a crumbling, decentered world with a chuckle in their throat and a hand on their heart, which reminds us of the hopeful absurdists. As Albert Camus outlines in The Myth of Sisyphus, the human species in crisis “stands face to face with the irrational. He feels within him his longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.” It seems our world might now be louder than it is silent, but these contributors are shouting over the chaos. AJ Urquidi & Marcus Clayton Executive Editors
That was one macho jam! â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Stage banter of bro-rock band Clutch, in response to their own song
Counting Teeth Heath Brougher after shocks could be felled felt miles away sight strangled by the sea miles sway in the distance heat melting Earth [like where the line is drawn] the birds and the teeth of their wings digging into the sky â&#x20AC;&#x201D; I was dead down in a mythly whack of ink I was dead down in a mouthly swill of brain explosion. I am an old folded chair except Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not.
Jesus Ernst Luchs Jesus was An anchor baby.
lacuna Kristen Skjonsby drum dry the pond becomes with no daughters and no tadpole sons or motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chiding at the splash that hits above the basin-line mother making sure my head stays mine so in love the draft is let in to the backmost jars of your cabinet harried by some rattling, seismic undulating, rising and the jars are called upon at last and the jars admit that they are but glass and the jars admit they are only containers and in fear all is awakened and in fear all potential is acknowledged do not say: i knew it, lacuna for filled be not the dregs no, the gills is space
Lights II Suleima Garcia
Showing Them B.H. James
Bob Sanders, from time to time, probably nine to twelve times a week, imagines calling other people a cunt. Bob Sanders, despite these frequent imaginings, has never himself in real life actually called anyone a cunt. Not ever, not even behind their back. There’re pretty much two situations — two settings — in which these things happen: Number 1: while driving, and Number 2: at the grocery store, or something like that. Number 1: What Bob hates most about other drivers is when other drivers act as if they need to commit suicide if they can’t go faster — even incrementally faster — than they are going now. Bob especially hates drivers that pass on the right, which he sees as breaking the rules — maybe the unwritten rules, maybe the written rules, he’s not really sure — and a sign, given that now it seems everyone’s reaction to even the slightest suggestion of having to slow down is to jerkily and dramatically pass on the right, that the whole world is going to pot. Bob’s in-real-life response to this is usually to somehow block the person from passing on the right. Like, if there’s like a little merging lane or something and some someone is trying to use that last little bit where the arrows are to pass on the right Bob will like sort of straddle the dotted line (not really dots but Bob thinks that’s what you call it) and block the someone from passing. Or like on the highway when there’s a high amount of traffic or even a medium amount of traffic and on the right there’s a truck or some other slower vehicle, usually a truck, and like all the cars on the left are lined up trying to get past the truck and then some someone zooms up on the right with the intent of cutting everyone off. When that happens Bob kind of speeds up to prevent the zoomer from cutting in front of him.
In his imagination, Bob calls such someones cunts. Like, he imagines pulling up next to them and getting their attention and not saying but through the window mouthing the words, “You’re a cunt. A cunt.” Or like when the zooming someone eventually does get past Bob and weaves and zooms out of sight Bob imagines down the road the someone stopped, maybe pulled over by police or blown a tire or God forbid gotten into an accident — not a serious one — and Bob imagines pulling over, too, and getting out of his car and walking up to the someone, who is now humbled by whatever happened that led them to side of road, and also confused, by same, standing there beside car all kind of looking around, and Bob walks up and informs the someone, “You’re a cunt. A cunt,” adding, “You drive like a cunt,” or a variation such as “The way you drive is the way a cunt drives” or “Your way of driving is the way of driving of a cunt.” All of which is pretty similar to Number 2, which happens much less than Number 1 — usually it’s Number 1 — but sometimes there’s just like this guy at the grocery store who looks a certain way or looks at Bob in a certain way and Bob imagines walking up to him and saying, “You’re a cunt. A cunt,” always in this situation (Number 2) following with “I just called you a cunt.” Sometimes he says that last part twice. • In all of these various phrasings, the emphasis is on the word cunt, emphasis-within-emphasis on the t. • Never once ever has Bob imagined calling a woman a cunt. Always other men. • It’s not always at the grocery store that some guy looks a certain way or looks at Bob a certain way. It happens other places, too. A lot of times it’s one of Bob’s neighbors.
• Sometimes Bob also imagines — usually right after imagining calling someone a cunt — living his life in such a way that he always sees the best in people. When imagining this, Bob also imagines how happy he would be. • What do people do in Bob’s imagination after they’ve been called a cunt? Bob doesn’t know, he never imagines that far, but he sure showed them.
LMao Like U ADun No Rose Knapp
Kapital mahiz SS DMescal shakes Will heim Himalia Yan Yen Arian Vu Du hast creÄ ta Da facismos So-Ho Mussolini sashimi Saki soliloquy say Wat du u InTend? Ja Cashmere cats are So Twenty-Thirteen
Surviving a Phobia: Soap Cakes Jon Riccio
Agoraphobe functioning as germaphobe, personal care items prove my weakness most. The shaving crème canister, gel-let uncapped? Airway free-for-all. Box of Band-Aids handled by the manufacturer, distributor, cashier, and me? A blood quartet if ever I adhesed. Toilet paper? So long as it’s double-wrapped, and the only ones that come this way are the 12- and 24-roll units meaning you pay for protection à la Charmin mafia. Body wash: because soap is easily besmirched. Sold with a pop-up cap, the DEFCON of me. Body wash I can’t buy, succumbing to a moment agoraphobic. No lather negotiator, I remember the detergent purchased at that swanky store: individual soap cakes, dissolved one per load. I take a chemical puck into my left hand, draw the water with my right. Powder crumbles, phosphate cements shin, antivenin toward a better-smelling me. Recluse too good a word for surviving in Cleveland. The laundry I’d become.
No One Likes You Suleima Garcia
Having Spent an Autumn Day Hiking, I Lay Down and Dream of Pumpkins Shane Eaves Somewhere up ahead thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a forest of spruce trees, thick moss-stained trunks, needled spires point up and up and below, the ground is pumpkin covered. Small at first, but as you look deeper they seem to grow. Far inside, you see they are monstrous, they are wonderfully uncontrolled. You think of carving them, of jack-o-lantern faces, but their unruliness rebukes you, their unwillingness to smile, to be ground into pies and lattes. Autumn is the flag of their disposition, and they are death-like in their obstinacy, in their languor. Standing among them now you understand this. You cannot imagine a color more perfect than theirs. They are the late leaves, the stubbled field, the brilliance of light from dead downed bark. You know you can never harvest them, these pumpkins that fog the forest floor. Now you are lying beside them, roots pulse beneath the blades of your shoulders. You feel your human mortality. The warmth that is you. You smell the chlorophyll breath of forest. You understand these pumpkins are ceaseless. They are for other deaths than this. 15
when a person lives in a spider’s nest David Diaz she learns to live with spiders her hands become adjusted to an automatic motion smashing down onto them they harden and grow callused like a tailor’s constant quick-slap against unfinished hardwood floor technique dialed in her arms don't stiffen every time one walks along her desk or dips behind her monitor she still reads on her side watching the room for movement with little hairs behind her neck more pissed than scared now but she’s always been afraid just less now, than when i growed up in a tree i learned to hate my self and other bugs around i was incredible at climbing and falling and i always landed on my feet or back i didn’t really choose to live outside but I could look into the sky whenever or climb to the point of the avocado tree to feel the ants on my feet and the way the tops of other houses and backyards looked
that was way better than anything so i guess it chose me i still want to stand on the deck of my treehouse before my dad took a sledgehammer to the front leg we watched it fall into the dirt with other old things glass and toys exploding some less sad than others journal June It came in through the window and left out the back door: I know it was here because I heard it walking through the house and pausing to look into the different rooms: I know I sound as mad but I know it happened I was the only one home:
did I already say that ? t if a person must live in a spiders nest know they learn to live with humans they learn to live with you and you get smart or they become the better one
The Steel Door Edith Gallagher Boyd
Twelve guards. I counted. The new guy puts my feet in cloth shoes. Nobody smiles. I shuffle my shackled feet to the steel door. They open it and lead me to the gurney in the box cage. It buzzes as it goes backward. The big needle is the last thing I see before I close my eyes.
Third Letter to Olena Lisa Marie Brodsky 1. How it Started You know (of course you might) it started with a hummingbird in my chest I was young â&#x20AC;&#x201D; five, maybe â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and I wrote a story in my head. In second grade I won a contest and at twelve (you know that story; just whisper his name) the end had begun to begin. A bird ought to be a lovely thing but mine was caught in my chest. More arrived; their wings fluttered against my lungs and I coughed, stuttered, stayed in my room for hours. Doctors called this ennui. I just wanted the stupid hummingbirds out of my chest. 19
2. The Stupid Hummingbirds It’s like this guy on the couch over there. We’re in a café and he just laid down on the thrift store sofa, covered his eyes with his flannel sleeve and fell asleep. But once in a while, his body spasms and he dreams and that’s how it was for me back then — I’d dream and twitch and spit out some words and the end of the spasm was an end for me, the hummingbirds put to rest. It was tiring, but necessary. Olena, I am now sick with twitches, quite literally and literarily. My words get stuck in a sick brain cheesed like swiss and illness is a foe I’ve put to pen many times. But I was a fighter; I crunched the page with eager teeth and choked the life from every word until they squealed like pigs or dying birds. It was necessary, but tiring. 20
3. What the Hummingbirds Loved On couches of diploma-happy doctors the birds loved my talk of dying as release. Explosion, implosion as eradication. I glued swarms of them all over Grace Memorial’s walls and they loved the attention. Olena, they’re getting bored. I have to stop.
4. Where the Hummingbirds Flew After college’s carefully crafted crises and buses that drove past all my stops I pulled my shirt down, the pants up and, for a while, the birds flew my coop. But soon, I, all grown-up and respectable, decided to bird-watch, the epic mistake of all children born in the soap opera era. Those birds swooped and plunged toward my mirror; which way did they face? From what I know of ornithology, hummingbirds don’t look into glass; they seek out the trumpet creeper flowers
so when I stood there in my red pullover did they crash into my reflection and did I notice? A violent red on red dripping with sugar water.
5. At the End of the Day Olena Katydid Davis, it helps to write to you. The sun sinks heavy over Lake Mendota and I’m ready to sigh “so long.” You kiss your children goodnight and do you then look in the mirror and ask secret questions? Can you tell me one? My secret sentence? Water sounds so beautiful as it licks the cement.
Ojos Suleima Garcia
Backyard in Bellflower Idalith Bustos
Mom says she will make something from weeds that latch braids against the fence. Her angled jaw convinced that mangos can uproot the rotting grass, sprout color like plump yellow lungs, and rise to meet her ripening pulp.
Shark Fishing Zach Mann
The summer is new and a freckled boy is sitting on a porch unaware of his new freckles. The freckles are spreading even now, making him restless. His imagination multiplies to compensate. In his lap is a scuffed Kodak Hawkeye, stuffed with 8mm film, waiting for something worth capturing. The last thing the camera captured was the boy, but that was years ago, and now the camera belongs to him. This summer is for creating new, he thinks, as he waits, as he runs his finger along the worn edges of the Hawkeye, as the tops of his knees grow red from the sun. The boy watches as a neighbor across the street exits his home and begins loading a van with duffel bags and coolers. The man is old, older than the boyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mother. He is bald, but his hair grows long above his ears, the boy knows, after years seeing him enter and exit his home. The boy has never seen this man load a van with duffels and coolers, however, so his imagination multiplies. He picks up the camera and begins filming. He films as the man throws more duffels on top of the van and ties them down with rope, pulling the line taut. He films the man strain against the rope, his thick-haired arms white with effort. Then the man notices the boy across the street with the camera. He approaches the boy, smiling, growing larger in the viewfinder. What do you got there? the man asks. The boy explains that he found a box of film in the basement and taught himself how to make movies. The man points to his van and asks if he is part of the movie, but he asks in a friendly way, in a way that suggests the answer is yes. When the boy shrugs, the man crosses those thick-haired forearms and, after a long silence, asks: How would you feel about a summer job? The boy does not like the sound of the word job, but duffels and coolers multiply in his brain. So they go inside the house to speak to the boyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mother. They find her at the dining table with a small mirror in one hand and lipstick in the other. Today the boyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mother is not wearing her motherhood. She only gives 26
them half her attention. She checks the time as the man explains: I will watch after the boy and teach him the worth of the dollar. Shark fishing? the mother asks. Florida? she asks again. She talks as if she were on the phone, across the room, across the world. She reapplies lipstick and rechecks the time. But the man keeps explaining. He says that he has retired early and is recently divorced. He says this as if it were a perfectly normal reason to go shark fishing in Florida. As they speak the boy waits on the couch. He daydreams a movie about shark fishing. He films the man and his mother speaking in serious, quiet tones, occasionally looking in his direction. He follows his mother’s thin fingers as they reposition the lipstick pen, as they pull at a stray thread along the edges of her top. As they touch the man’s shoulder in conclusion, saying, Okay. Then she turns to the boy, but he is already fishing for sharks on the living room floor. The drive down to Florida takes a day and a half. The boy sits in the passenger seat as the freckles multiply on his right arm. Every so often the man switches out the 8-track tape for another. Every other tape is Pat Boone. The man explains that Pat Boone was the only music his wife and he ever agreed upon. He explains that his wife wasn’t a very agreeable person. He teaches the boy the phrase: set in her ways. The boy wonders if this phrase also applies to his mother. When they arrive in South Florida they are quite the pair: a boy who wants to divorce his mother and a man who has divorced his wife, dancing their arms over countless coral and limestone islets. Halfway between two keys on the Overseas Highway, the man stops the van. Together they rush to unload the coolers and duffels and stack them on the side of the road. Then the man drives off in the van, leaving the boy alone in stark cement and sunshine, unsure what happens next but reveling in the responsibility of his task. Cars zoom past the viewfinder of his camera as he stands tall over duffels and coolers. When the man returns by taxicab they set up camp overlooking the water. Time to get to work, the man announces, and points to the Kodak Hawkeye. You’ve got your weapon and I’ve got mine, he adds, 27
holding up a fishing rod and smiling wide enough to reveal missing teeth at the corners. And so the boy starts recording and captures on film the man’s first cast. The bait splashes into the teal water below as the tide sways in easy rhythm, gently pulling at the line. The first morning is a Sunday full of speedboats and no fish. The boy slept well under the warm, starry sky, but by late morning he is sleepy again, lulled by the rhythm of the tide and the regularity of the traffic. He waits with the camera on his lap as the man tries to make conversation. Maybe we can bring home some of the extra fish for your mother, he says. How is she around the kitchen? The boy shrugs. He does not know how to quantify his mother’s cooking. Finally in the early afternoon the man pulls up a weepy little snapper. He reaches into a duffel for a larger hook, spears the snapper, and recasts. The boy films the process. Then again there is waiting. And again the man has questions, always in the same smiling tone. Your mother doesn’t get much time for herself, does she? he asks, but answers himself, Raising a kid on her own, how could she? He starts on a speech about sacrifice. He commends the boy’s mother and he returns to the subject of his ex-wife: her unwillingness to make sacrifices. The boy nods and imagines a future where sacrifices are choices he might make. The boy asks questions, too. But they are always about fishing, about items in front of them, that they can touch and smell. Eventually the boy runs out of questions for the man and the man runs out of lessons for the boy. When the line goes taut again, it is the first time either speaks for half an afternoon. Yahtzee, the man yells, and the boy pulls out the Kodak Hawkeye and films him unhooking a bloated grouper. Then the man reaches back into a duffel and pulls out a fishing line as thick as rope and a mean-looking hook like a medieval weapon. He impales the grouper and needs two hands to swing its weight back into the water. He ties the end of the line to the railing of the bridge in overzealous knots. This time there is no waiting. The water below is knifed by a dark shape and the cable goes taut immediately.
The boy searches the water with the viewfinder of the camera. His focus darts along the sun-sparkling surface, looking for new waves. He finds it in the distance: a shark thrashing at the horizon, writhing and leaping and pulling at the line. This time the man reaches into a duffel and retrieves a shotgun, then a box of shells. He points farther down the highway and tells the boy to film him from a safe distance. But don’t miss this, the man says with urgency. The boy quickly loads another reel. He walks ten feet away. The highway is less crowded now. The boy peers through the viewfinder and wonders if there is enough light left in the day. The man peers out into the ocean and says, Dammit, the line is too long. He fires the shotgun but there seems to be no effect. The shark thrashes without pause. The man reloads and fires again. Then again. He kicks the railing and curses the world for conspiring against him. He curses his wife for leaving him. He burns up the rest of the shells in a flurry of yelling and shotgun blasts. All the while the boy keeps filming, awed by the man’s loss of control. In the end the shark is bloodied, but not dead. The man sits down defeated, and night falls as the shark keeps pumping its fin. They can only wait: a man seeking revenge, a boy growing up, and a shark who moves only in order to maintain motion. Over time the shark grows weaker. By midnight its strength is little more than the tide, limply pulling at the line. By morning the shark is dead. When the boy wakes up, he finds the man in the process of packing up. For the first time, when the man sees the boy, he doesn’t smile. When the boy lifts up the Kodak Hawkeye to film the shark, floating, bloated and undignified below the bridge, the man shakes his head. He looks up with grim eyes and uncombed hair above his ears: I will be gone for a couple hours, he says. Then he begins walking down the gutters of the Overseas Highway with his thumb out. All morning the boy sits with his legs dangling over the clear water. The sun deepens the reds at the tops of his ears and bleaches the browns of his hair. He ignores the shark and eats Cheerios from the box. He throws loose O’s down into the water, trying to determine whether or not he can see the splash, hoping to see a fish jump too eager into the air. He remembers fishing once before, vaguely, years ago, at a fish farm 29
in some green countryside. He remembers the feel of the fishing pole in his hand, of the tiny tugs on the line, of the much larger hands that hovered, just barely touching, over his. It is early afternoon when the man returns. Behind the van is a beige Ford pickup with even more men sitting in the truck bed. These men carry styrofoam cups of still-steaming beverages and speak to each other in a language the boy doesn’t understand. They ignore the boy and shake their heads at the man from cold weather. That’s the biggest tiger shark I’ve seen, says one, but there is no praise in his tone. In order to pull up the shark they need to stop traffic. Car horns increase as the pickup reverses, dragging the cable up the side of the bridge. Finally the massive hunk of dead fish plops onto the highway. Idling onlookers watch as the men try to finagle the thing into the back of the truck, as they fail to do so, as the boy stands to the side with his Kodak Hawkeye. Other people get out of their cars to help until finally the shark is curved uncomfortably into the back. The man, upset, barks at the boy to load up the van with the duffels and coolers. Then they drive slowly behind the pickup. They watch the tail droop sadly over the side and do not mention the stink of dead shark bleeding in through air conditioning. At the truck weigh station on the US 1, the boy films as the man stares up at the large number. The boy captures the man’s blank, unsatisfied face. Then he puts the camera away. Kind of gross, isn’t it? the man asks the boy, long after they start the drive home. He is smiling again and fumbling for the Pat Boone. The boy nods. They listen to music and the man tells the boy about his honeymoon in the Florida Keys. He sounds both happy and sad. By the time they are driving through Tennessee, the boy’s right arm is freckling out the window again and his hand is dancing along the rivers. When they reach the boy’s home, his mother is standing in the doorway. She puts five slim fingers on the boy’s sun-dyed hair. With her free arm she shakes the man’s outstretched hand. You still smell like salt air, she says, but there is no praise in her tone.
I’m sorry we didn’t bring home any fish, the man jokes. I can go run to the store, he offers. But the boy’s mother politely declines. And so the man and the boy, suddenly uncomfortable with their new audience, shake hands and part ways. The next day the boy starts editing. For the rest of the summer he spends his time in the basement instead of the sunshine. He turns a thousand feet of film into an 18-minute movie. When he shows his neighbor, the man’s spirits lift. They sing Pat Boone. A job well done, the man says. When the boy shows his mother, she sits beside him tense and quiet. She squeezes his hand when the camera zooms out to show the height of the bridge. She gasps when the man fires a shotgun. She stares at him with a strange expression afterwards, both happy and sad. Eventually the boy goes back to school and his freckles fade. Sometimes he goes down into the basement, takes out the unused 8mm film, and watches it in silence: half an hour of a sunset, an angry man, and a dying tiger shark pulling and pulling at the line. But one day he opens the box where he found the Kodak Hawkeye, retrieves the photo album inside, and finds a photo of himself fishing. And one day his mother is there, too. Together they take out even older 8mm film and watch the movies they never talk about.
Lights I Suleima Garcia
One Degree Away Genelle Chaconas
Dull weight slides against the bricks. The back of his head thuds hollow. It leaves a rich rough streak. It’s darker than you imagined. Not arterial. His knees buckle but don’t break. He’ll kick until he feels it. The deep drool froth drops on his greasy lapels. Plaster breaks off in his trembling hands, staining them the gray red you find smudged on your sleeves and pant legs when the rains come. How are you holding him up? The four fingers in his Adam’s apple ache. No one taught you how to break a windpipe. It’s easy. There’s something wet inside. Polliwog. Eel. Water Moccasin. His cologne is fresh and cheap. Sweat pops out on his forehead. He’d shine if the streetlamps glowed. But that hour’s passed; it’s been months since Plague City had regular power. You need your other hand. Only then do you remember your right. Ease the butterfly knife out from under his ribs like delicate brushwork. It’s half the length his was, now clattered on the stones. Blood arcs, geysers onto your overcoat. Real suede. You’ll hate to lose it. His piss floods down his powder blue slacks. It matches his silky lavender suit. It cost half the paycheck of his last job. Shame. It puddles around your boots. You’ll lose them, too. You spit on him. But blood sprays against his chin. His lips make the shape of a familiar curse. Only thick yellow vomit comes out. His irises widen. This odd rotted wood color is being swallowed from inside. It’s easy to drag him to the paving stones, to brace your boot onto his throat and drop your weight. You expect something louder than that wheeze. The wet crackling bones are more satisfying. You don’t stop until you hear that last rattling splush. It’s still. It’s quiet. It’s going to start reeking soon, even in the rain. How did you start calling him an it? He’s now another abandoned apartment, car, drawer, or warehouse to rifle. Theft is the main hobby in Plague City. That’s how you start searching his pockets like a greedy child. The passports tied with soft twine are now yours. One of the many moist hashish spheres has been roughly broken. The well-used glass pipe syrupy with resins. You smell his cool rancid breath on it. He smoked less than an hour ago. How else could you have 35
caught him, pulled him into that instinctual attack? The intensity is something you’ve never experienced. Your breath slows now. You’re not looking for any of this, don’t want the bills folded neatly hidden in each of the pockets. Then you find the thin black notebook. On the second to last page you find it. You hardly recognize it; you haven’t used it in the city, this outhouse, this moist florid fester of refuge and illicit leisure. You take your foot off his throat, kick the bloodied maw aside. Read your adopted address, your price, your real name, and the name of his employer.
Cannoli Gianna Stoddard For my mother’s birthday, I made cannoli cream with homemade ricotta cheese: boiled one part cream, two parts milk, pinch of salt, sugar. When the edges bubbled, I added the vinegar, stirred carefully, let it sit before I strained it. Two damp cheesecloth layers over a colander, bowl to catch the whey. I scraped the cooled curds from the cloth, stirred orange zest, sugar, tiny chocolate chips — hint of cinnamon, half-dash of vanilla, spooned it over peach slices, still warm from the tree. “Oh God,” my mother said. “Fuck, that’s good.” Then: “Nana would be proud.” And the small dessert — fresh cheese, sun-warm fruit, tiny chocolate chips — suddenly belonged to a little woman I never knew, who trumpeted loud farts as she bent to take her sauce-pot from the cupboard; who used to forget how to get home from the grocery store — taking the hands of shoppers asking, “Do you know where I live?” and “Have you seen my granddaughter?” 37
with the long vowels of her BrooklynItalian accent; who raised her bipolar son’s four children when their mother left for the fifth and final time; who stood in the Marie Callender’s parking lot where my parents got married, tugged at the holes in her sweater, and muttered, “Oh this is a helluva thing to wear to a wedding.” “A helluva thing.”
Sanford Jolly Scott MacAulay
You think of Sanford Jolly as a man with no ears. He does not listen. Or you imagine him wearing a hat. Hanging from the front brim of the hat, facing him, is a mirror. He prattles like a budgie in its cage, speaking to itself in the mirror, satisfied with its audience’s attentiveness and approval. Sanford speaks words perfectly, knows a great many of them, and will bring them to bear on any topic at all. And he seems an authority on the topics until you do some background reading. (It’s a trait you’ve noticed most in alcoholics and people with BAs and abandoned PhDs.) Sapient, Sanford Jolly is, yes. You like him, though. He means well. He is always trying to do well. He is active in his neighborhood and recycles, advising others to do the same, often at 6:30 a.m. when they are putting out their garbage. He serves on his church’s rejuvenation committee. He wants to adopt a Chinese or an African baby. He buys local. (You know there’s a funny irony about these last two points, but you don’t think Sanford would get the joke.) He votes. He stops to talk to people on the street who ask for change, and sometimes he gives them some. But you are wary. That silly poem you learned in high school, “Richard Cory.” Sort of. Not quite. Sanford comes from lots of money — though you’ve heard it’s dwindling — but much too neat in his personal appearance to blow his brains out unless he had a prearranged cleaner. A week ago you were drinking coffee at Bridgehead, reading your newspaper, enjoying the overpriced aroma of political correctness, when Sanford Jolly walked in. You were immersed in the fashion pages. The pleats in your white skirt were sharp, your hair was freshly cut.
Sanford said, “Hello, again,” and sat opposite and immediately began talking to the front page news story facing him. After fifteen minutes of debate between his left and right hands, he concluded: “I conclude a three state solution is the only solution. The Palestinians in one. The Jews in another. And the assholes in another.” You thought this reasonable enough, though you were surprised Sanford used the word “assholes.” You were also surprised when you felt his bare foot on your bare thigh. You liked the fashion pictures of scarves made by peasants in Peru and showed him, and he approved. The next night at the Cedar Club weekly jamboree, Sanford Jolly took to the stage with a banjo and played “Layla” and you applauded. You walked to his three-story shingle house, holding his banjo, as he spoke the histories of the banjo, the guitar, and the ukulele. He introduced you to his mother, who was knitting in the parlour, before taking you upstairs. You thought it typical and nice of Sanford to introduce you to his mother, and tried very, very hard not to think of Anthony Perkins (or was it Hopkins?) as he hung your clothes in the armoire.
Hyperreal Codex Co. Rose Knapp Nothing in these Masses of multi Militaristic verses Makes me hate As much as dead Scot Scotched Smiles no. 95 skies Theses or tractate .docx .rx .popes I am not anti .soc Cult just inexjoy Incorrect word Being multi Balkan mis Silo lyre store Azure shores Rise & devour Houses Border Lines litanies Fall & freeze Vladivostok Media tides Ices & flames Faggot fires 41
somedays the starving Kathryne Gargano
the stick lavinia
pick it up with your cunt
draw me a body better than yours
my tongue’s in my hand but i still have my throat
i can still swallow i bear a woman’s face but i won’t grow flowers (feather leaves and yellow blooms)
a body of
a body hatched into the garden pond
can float my body a livewire i’ll fry this whole town i dare you draw me an ending that isn’t is inside you /
between the honey and the wasps
Static Snow Suleima Garcia
We Have Not Arrived Alexandra Umlas
My fibula is behind the force of the pedal when I think of her: the woman I read about in Sunday’s paper — the one who absorbs her fear and drives anyway, even though it is illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia. The soft leather of the driver’s seat is under my thighs; air conditioning keeps me cool in the sunlit traffic, where I do the mundane weaving in and off the fabric of freeways, unworried who will see. At nine my daughter already dreams of the hush of tire against pavement that will propel her into deserts, mountains, and valleys. She will know its freedom and not look back. The steering wheel will kiss her hands; the breezes of open roads and windows will beckon.
I pick up apples and milk without thinking about the woman. When she drives anyway, she is arrested. She loses her job. She takes up the wheel again, despite the difficulties. Her fight is kumquat fruit, sweet at the skin, then sour when teeth find flesh. The sourness does not stop her hands from turning the key. It is their noncompliant strength that I admire from a great distance. My fibula is just a working bone, but hers is change incarnate. I get to my destination, but we have not arrived.
The Field, and its Contents Dylan Karlsson
We sprung into the Honda Accord / blue, rusted, carnivorous vehicle. It tailed us through to the Antelope Valley / moored into view the hills we understood to house / the poppies / on reserve, on this earthen shelf / of earthen wear. The valley filled with January water, when like the bubble burst / end drought and our sprinklers sprout up / again. Drought end and the colander is plugged / with the muck we make. Responsible, we’d like to credit this orange hue to our benevolence, be responsible, don’t step on the flower yet to be windswept / an aside / a component of growth, to be worn dry, down to a piece of reportage / a propagule, considered to be fact / we let that germinate in our heads for just a sec. I sit on a plot already dead. We’ll set up a picnic / zip up our jackets to guard off a buffeting. My fingernails / are growing the width of a page. : breath like foam of days enclosured in field and line it grows in our lungs
Modern Architecture Shane Eaves
In the tire shop, the boys lean while they eat. They know the wall, posters tacked to it, beaches with models splayed out on the sand, Ferraris and Lambos — can’t afford them? Slap some gullwings onto your Tahoe, your Navigator while you wait. They know their walls, the yellow company stripe chipped by the left hangar door, grease stained where workers rest and laugh and have cried once when Fernando lost his son, Sol who was bad at putting on tires, good at drinking — and the walls were wonderfully cool that evening, as crenulated tires rolled off the racks and down the alley and the workers sat with Fernando no paid vacation left, no son left, and the wall, bikini calendars, company stripe felt more calcified in the marred sunlight than the knobbed joints of its workers, its worshipers, who know it day in and day out.
cortex Kristen Skjonsby
it is good for wind to work on something. taking time. all things get smooth and small, and all things want for caress. sitting for hours, working it through with your fingers until it is done and you’ve made something a daisy chain, or a pair of shoes — or, by pushing your thumbs away and hanging on to the creases of something’s face … it’s not so much another face as it is the properties have changed and you might not remember something anymore the author always said: the real umbilical cord to the past was eaten! that means it’s in something’s stomach now. can you imagine an umbilical cord with a prefrontal cortex? god. for something to become tired, it must be worked down. after mumbling, there is silence. the mind is setting. if you are sleeping and something is talking to you you may mind or not, after all.
contributors Edith Gallagher Boyd is a graduate of Temple University and a former French teacher. Her work can be viewed here: edithgallagherboyd.com Lisa Marie Brodsky is the author of poetry collections We Nod Our Dark Heads (Parallel Press, 2008) and Motherlung (Salmon Poetry, 2014), which received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The North American Review, Mom Egg Review, The Peacock Journal, and Diode Poetry Journal, among others. She teaches on the power of emotional healing through writing and can be found at www.lisamariebrodsky.blogspot.com Heath Brougher is the co-poetry editor of Into the Void Magazine and poetry editor of Five 2 One Magazine. He has published 3 chapbooks and is a Best of the Net Nominee. Also, his work has been translated into journals in Albania and Kosovo. His work has appeared in over 400 journals in 25 countries. Idalith Bustos received her MFA in Poetry from California State University, Long Beach. Her poetry has previously been published in Riprap Literary Journal and Santa Ana River Review. She lives in Southern California and is an Acapulco native who enjoys high elevations, mountains, and a good plate of mole. Genelle Chaconas is genderfluid, queer, feminist, over 30, underemployed, an abuse survivor, and proud. They earned their BA in English with focus on Creative Writing (CSUS, 2009), their MFA in Writing and Poetics (Naropa University, 2015). Their first chapbook is Fallout, Saints and Dirty Pictures (little m Press, 2011), with a chapbook pending publication. They enjoy schlocky gangster flicks, cheap takeout, noise music, the cut up technique, queer writing, and long walks off short piers. David Diaz writes out of a Los Angeles garage and teaches around the greater LA area. He likes to ride his bike, read books, and drink coffee. He received his MFA from Long Beach State in 2015, and has been published by Tia Chuchaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Press, San Pedro River Review, and Tiny Splendor Publishing. He also prints his own broadsides and leaves them around because he bought a pretty decent printer, and he thinks itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fun to force people to encounter his work.
Shane Eaves received his MFA in poetry from California State University, Long Beach, where he served as the poetry editor for Riprap. He is a two-time recipient of the William T. Shadden Memorial Award for his poetry and has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. His poetry can be found in American Mustard, Rust + Moth, Stonecoast Review, Miramar & elsewhere. Suleima Garcia is a 25-year-old who doesn’t like talking about herself but will for the sake of the photo contributor section in this issue. She is from Bellflower in Los Angeles County and works full-time at a small merchandising company. She finds the time to capture the images you see in this journal by just carrying her Minolta X-370 35mm camera through her daily routines and outings. Kathryne Gargano hails from the Pacific Northwest, but isn’t very good at climbing trees. She recently graduated with her MFA in Poetry from the University of Nevada - Las Vegas, and has been published in CALYX, Perceptions, and Alchemy. Her work is forthcoming in Lavender Review, The Fem, and the Colorado Review. You can find pictures of her three-legged pup on Instagram @peternelle3. B.H. James’s first novel, Parnucklian for Chocolate, was a finalist for the 2014 PEN Center USA Literary Award in Fiction. He and his wife are the co-authors of Method to the Madness: A Common Core Guide to Creating Critical Thinkers through the Study of Literature, and he teaches high school English in Northern California, where he lives with his wife and two sons. www.bhjames.com Dylan Karlsson is a poet based in Los Angeles. He is the senior poetry editor of Westwind, and is currently pursuing a BA in English at UCLA. Rose Knapp is a poet, producer, and multimedia artist. She has publications in Lotus-Eater, Bombay Gin, BlazeVOX, Hotel Amerika, Gargoyle, and others. She has a chapbook with Hesterglock Press and a collection forthcoming with Dostoevsky Wannabe. She lives in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at roseknapp.net Ernst Luchs has written comedy for publication, stage, and radio, and has had poems published or forthcoming in Futures Trading and the Prairie Sun, among others. He lives in a Chicago suburb, enjoys astral travel, and has no outstanding warrants.
A former educator and community development worker, Scott MacAulay resides in Ottawa, Canada. His short fiction has appeared in various print and online publications, including The Antigonish Review, The Feathertale Review, Breath and Shadow, Pif Magazine, and Flash Fiction Magazine. Zach Mann has been fishing once, at a California fish farm, where he caught a small rainbow trout. He ate the trout that evening, and many years later he entered a PhD program in English Literature at the University of Southern California. Jon Riccio is a PhD candidate and composition instructor at the University of Southern Mississippiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Center for Writers. Recent work has appeared in Corvus Review, Jazz Cigarette, Muse /A Journal, Sick Lit Magazine, Steel Toe Review, Visitant, The Volta, and Zombie Logic Review. A contributing interviewer for Sonora Review, he received his MFA from the University of Arizona. Kristen Skjonsby decided long ago after attending Mills College that the sexual health of women would be the focal point of her lifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work. She currently lives in Riverside, California, where she is pursuing her PhD in English with her beloved partner and a precious feline by her side. She is grateful for the opportunity to share her work. Gianna Stoddard is a California native, poet, cook, essayist, and translator. Her work explores narratives that live in the body, and can be found in various journals, including Miramar, Spectrum, The Furious Gazelle, and forthcoming in The Fem. Alexandra Umlas is currently an MFA student at California State University, Long Beach and lives in Huntington Beach, CA. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Mothers Always Write, Modern Loss, Southeast Review Online, Poets Reading the News, Dissident Voice, Tuck Magazine, and F(r)iction.