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LADYÂ BLUE L I T E R A R Y TRACI LAW FEATURED ARTIST, P16
A R T S
J O U R N A L
FICTION, POETRY, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND MORE
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EDITOR IN CHIEF CREATIVE DIRECTOR PUBLISHER EDITORIAL BOARD
Alaina Richardson Heather Nonnemacher Claire Meler Amber Weaver Jess Cawley Mary Imgrund
Robert Kratzer Jesse Cole Miki Byrne Annie Blake Peter Dietrich Ethan Houtz
FEATURED ARTIST CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS
Traci Law Fabrice Poussin William C. Crawford Azra Bihorac
Weeping Angel by Traci Law
Lady Blue Literary Arts Journal is a publication of Lady Blue Publishing. For inquiries, submissions, or suggestions, contact us at: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
ANCIENT FRIGIDAIRE BY WILLIAM CRAWFORD
Poem by Robert Kratzer
INTO THE BLUE
Poem by Jesse Cole
Short Story by Jesse Cole
ELUCIDATING THE DEFINITION OF PAIN Poem by Annie Blake
OPPOSITES ATTRACT Poem by Miki Byrne
BURN Poem by Robert Kratzer
VAPOR Poem by Jesse Cole
16-22 TRACI LAW Digital Photography and the Experience of Place
COME GATHER MAD POETS! Poem by Peter Dietrich
A TOAST Poem by Ethan Houtz
AWAY BY FABRICE POUSSIN
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EDITOR'S NOTE Where elegance meets eloquence, you’ll find Lady Blue. We’ll always stand by that sentiment, and we strive to make sure you see it in every one of our issues. Both elegant and eloquent, our writers, photographers, and artists came to us with their most valuable, vulnerable moments to create an unforgettable work. In every issue, we strive to create a collection of pages any person in this scary, beautiful, massive place can pick up and escape into, not just for entertainment, but for a deeper understanding of all that surrounds them. We feel we’ve captured it this time more than ever before. The fourth issue of the Lady Blue Literary Arts Journal is our most visually intensive, and we’re excited and proud of the opportunity to showcase more of our loyal, talented photographers and artists so that you can fall in love with their work as we have. While our artists come from cities around the world, and their submissions are evaluated separately, they somehow fall into step with one another for every issue to weave a seamless narrative that maps the human experience. In this collection, you’ll find the struggle of connections and how we cope with those that are severed. You’ll discover the naïve, the simple, the complicated, the tragic. In these pages, you’ll find characters utterly destroyed by loss. You might feel certain that you’ve stepped into their world and lost right along with them. You’ll see them triumph. You’ll celebrate by their side. We want to thank our readers, writers, and artists a thousand times over. From someone picking up this issue and getting to know us for the first time to those who have been with us from the first word, where would we be without you? We also want to recognize and thank our editorial board members—Amber Weaver, Jess Cawley, and Mary Imgrund—without whose diligent work and constant insight we would be without an issue to present. While we thank our audience and supporters every time we publish, and we always mean it from the bottom of our hearts, this time is special for me. It will be my last issue as the Lady Blue Publishing editor, and while it’s a bittersweet departure for me from a journal I will always hold near and dear, the separation comes from a place of inspiration and motivation to begin other ventures—brought on, in part, by the influence and vision of our talented artists. Thank you for showing me the beauty and brevity of life and teaching me that resolutely embracing the unknown is the only acceptable response to it. Explore the following pages with us to step into experiences not your own, and yet entirely yours. Life doesn’t always seem elegant, and you won’t always feel eloquent, but you’re never alone. For a brief moment in this undoubtedly hectic, unavoidably confusing world we all inhabit, turn the page, and allow yourself to remember that we’re in this together.
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WRITTEN BY ROBERT KRATZER
LADY BLUE | PAGEÂ 8Â
THE LILY On a bright, cold morning, a lone white lily survived the cold frost, her petals weeping for loss.
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INTO THE BLUE WRITTEN BY JESSE COLE Jesse Cole is a Michigan native who received her BA in English writing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she also studied Spanish and philosophy. When she isn’t scribbling her thoughts illegibly onto the nearest paper surface, you can find her loudly singing along to the radio or attempting abstract latte art in the Starbucks kiosk she manages. She has been featured in the print magazines SLAB and New Growth Arts Review, and you can find more of her work online in Words Dance and Black & Grey.
I’d never heard a heart rattle inside someone’s chest before, but I guess no one I know has ever been as empty as he was. His chest devoid of treasure, except himself. But he didn’t believe that. So all we were allowed to see were the patches of grime he said grew here and there, everywhere. As he and I stood embracing under the velvet sky, I couldn’t help but wonder where we were going. Of course, I knew where we were—the blue of the “Welcome” sign somehow glowed in the darkness beside us. But this was a new place to me, and if the sign was blue then everything else was blue around it. Or rather, blue was everything else: blue was the Great Lake, blue was the Midwestern sky, the summer grass, the maple trees, the skin of his face, and the feeling of his heart pitter-pattering against my ribcage, tentative and firm at once, like a toddler’s first tapping on a drum. He would’ve silenced that beat if he could.
He’d shown me how before: slow, deep breaths, until they just didn’t come anymore and he stood before me somehow defying common sense, biology, and whatever else he wanted. He wasn’t big on his heart and its inherent, constant reminder that he was alive. If I were his heart, I would've beaten harder just to spite him. Perhaps that’s why I couldn’t un-cling, couldn’t relinquish his body. This he knew—I knew he knew—and that’s why he pulled away and held me at arm’s length. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. And I could see from his downcast gaze that he was. “But, this doesn’t have to mean that it’s the end—for us—I mean, there are things we could do...” I trailed off. I reached for his bandana, his jacket, his shirt, trying to strip his layers and bring him closer, but he wouldn’t let me. I panicked; like a tiger sensing my end, I became more alive than ever. Fierce.
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"Loss: a person or thing that is badly missed." I closed the space between us and pressed my whole body against his, from my lips to my kneecaps, trying desperately to show him with every inch of contact how much I felt for him.
I didn’t want years of “I’m sorry” following me. Sorry for leaving me. Sorry for ending it, and then, a week later, sorry for dying.
Please let me be there for you, I willed the words to reach him through the friction of our lips.
“Is living what’s left to do?” you used to ask. And I think your answer—a gunshot in broad daylight on your back porch—was wrong.
Loss: a person or thing that is badly missed.
Although I do wonder if dying made you feel—for a moment—more alive.
I am that toddler, breaking my own drum, then screaming at it, blaming my destroyed piece of art for its own damaged state.
But what about that night we spent in blue? What about the day we drove to the river and skinny-dipped and almost got caught? What about when our best friends joined us for a midnight joyride, stopping at each fork in the road and flipping a coin to pick the direction we’d take? What about the time we snuck into the playground at night, and made out in one of the slides, and then climbed on top of one of the castle towers and searched for our names in the stars?
Listen, and know that I am neither searching for salvation nor hoping for pity. I am simply hoping that somewhere, you are feeling that moment beside the “Welcome” sign, that you understand now why my last gesture to you was a kiss. "And so you have one last kiss to remember me by,” you said when you pulled away. I didn’t want a kiss to remember you by; I didn’t want a memento, or a souvenir, or the echo of your voice ringing, deafening, in my ears.
I do not accept your apology.
And what about the times I held you while you fell apart for reasons I didn’t understand? My own demons haunted me, but I wanted so badly to chase away yours that when the time came to face them head-on I didn’t even have words; I just kissed you, hoping it would help.
IT ONLY HAPPENS THEN BY FABRICE POUSSIN Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review, and more than 300 other publications.
"But what about that night we spent in blue?"
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All the tears, all the laughter; all the singing badly, all the dancing worse; all the impromptu parkour around your little tourist town; all of it made me feel so alive, so why couldn’t you feel it too?
His eyes were dilated with manic fear, the blue in them as dark as the surrounding night. “And so you have one last kiss to remember me by,” he whispered. Then he held me at arm’s length, as if trying to distance himself from a mistake. The smell of him—Axe Ecstasy and Camel Crushes—filled me, until I became lightheaded. Faint. It was so hard to breathe. I now ask if I was the mistake. I don’t think I'll ever know. What do I know?
I stand here now with the “Welcome” sign. They painted it green since that night. Can anything blue stay that way? The night sky is muted. The grass against my bare feet feels unreal. I pace circles, wearing down a ring of once-springy grass until it looks like I am drawing myself a force-field from the ground. Once I become tired of my one-sided rat race, I walk back to my car. Am I leaving? I probably should.
I should probably get in my car and drive and keep driving until I can see nothing more of your old town. Until my rearview mirror is finally devoid of ghosts. How far would I have to drive? I don’t get in my car. Instead, I pop the trunk, bend over within its depths, and pull out an ax. I pause a moment to thank the stars that this town is so small, no one will witness this moment: a barefoot girl hauling an ax out of her trunk at the edge of town. Nor will they witness the moment that follows. I walk back to the sign. We stand face-toface, it no longer blue, me no longer with you. We’ve changed a bit since the last time we saw each other close up. But no one looks at me and says, “You’re different,” so in a way the sign has it better than I do. At least no one has to pretend for it that nothing ever changed. I place the blade of the ax against the first signpost and make my mark. My movements operate from muscle memory as years of working in the forest come back to me. That’s a side of me you never got to see. There’s only so much you can see in one summer, cut short by—well, you. No. Breathe. This is not a time for remembering. I heave the ax with all my strength, and the blade-edge carves out a crescent moon of wood. I pause; greeted by silence, I continue. Heave by heave, swing by swing, I chip away at the sign’s first post, and then its second, until all that’s left out there is me. ▲
TOP | SIDEWALK FLORAL BOTTOM | LOADED DICE HANGING BY WILLIAM CRAWFORD
OPPOSITES ATTRACT WRITTEN BY MIKI BYRNE I was the dancer. He the quiet one at the back. I swayed, shimmied, grooved. Felt the funk and shook it limbless. He leaned with arms folded. Eyes half closed. Stone-clad. The beat a mere flicker in his smile. I sweated, felt hair frizz, ate the dance as if it were cake and loved every crumb. He listened, barely licked the corner of the evening as if he thought it might taste bad. We always left together. Found our own rhythm. Joy in double-time. Everything perfect, to his taste and mine.
Miki has had three poetry collections published as well as work included in over 170 poetry magazines and anthologies. She has read on radio and TV and is active on the spoken-word scene in Cheltenham. She also ran a poetry writing group at The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury. Miki lived on a narrowboat for years and began performing her poems in a bikers club in Birmingham. Miki now lives near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire.
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VAPOR WRITTEN BY JESSE COLE To help me sleep, my mother used to tell me there’s nothing there in the darkness that isn’t there in the light. I suppose that also means that what’s here in the light doesn’t disappear when I stop looking. But object permanence has always been an issue for me, so now I’m afraid to close my eyes. What happens to you when I blink? Even that single moment of uncertainty— of Schrödinger’s lover, simultaneously here and nowhere— is too much for me. I’ve never been so afraid to take my eyes off something. You’re a vapor, floating around me, surrounding me, and I breathe you in but I know you’ll just keep scattering, retreating, never quite staying— always on the edge of leaving.
BACK WALL AURA BY WILLIAM CRAWFORD William C. Crawford is a writer and photographer living in Winston-Salem, NC. He was a combat photojournalist in Vietnam. He later enjoyed a long career in social work. Crawford also taught at UNC Chapel Hill. He photographs the trite, the trivial, and the mundane. Crawford developed the forensic foraging technique of photography with his colleagues Sydney Lensman and Jim Provencher.
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WRITTEN BY JESSE COLE
"Were you the exception, or the rule?
I’ve heard that some of the brightest objects in the sky are already long gone. Stars implode. An inevitable supernova— after all, everything must eventually go. Some people believe that when we stand at the edge of a cliff, abyss above us and below, it is not a fear of falling that freezes us in our bones. It is the fear of ourselves, our freedom to— at any moment— jump. So when a boy holds my hand against his chest and says “I’m sorry” and then, when I kiss him with every inch of my body, he tells me that it was one last kiss to remember him by, does that always indicate an imminent suicide? You misguided ghost, I have to know. Were you the exception, or the rule? I’m losing sleep, wondering who will be the next supernova. Wondering if it’s me. Now that you’re gone, honey, you should know that nothing feels like home. It’s all a snapshot of a rust red Martian desert: a place where I believe life used to be. And I—well, after the blast, the shockwave, the upheaval of all I used to know, I am what is left behind: a nuclear shadow.
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TRACI LAW Digital Photography and the Experience of Place APRIL 2018 FEATURED ARTIST Photographer, historian, and archaeologist Traci Law has traveled the world in pursuit of her interests, embarking on adventures that led her to explore ruins in Europe and Central America; swim with sharks and manta rays; hike mountain ranges; and even walk on icebergs in Newfoundland. She has published two photography books: Enchanted Britain: A Photographic Journey, which features her photos from the UK, and The Art of Death: Honoring the Craftsmen, which features images from cemeteries around the world.
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Q. What influenced your decision to use digital photography over traditional film?
I originally started in the old days of film and progressed to slides, then digital. I was a holdout, but after lugging 100 rolls of slide film with me to Australia, I decided it was time to give digital a try. I’ve loved it ever since. I ended up taking 14,000 photos in just nine days in Romania (I have since been a little less shutter happy). I like the flexibility of digital over film and slide. I never had a dark room, so I always had to pay to get my photos developed, and slides were a real pain. Digital makes all of that so much easier.
ST. THOMAS BY TRACI LAW
P AL CU KE PA AG GE E 3 1 9 | |B LAACDKYP B
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Tell us about your editing process in the digital darkroom. I try not to edit or alter photos too much, but it also depends on what I want to achieve. There’s the initial editing of deleting out-of-focus images, duplicates, etc. Then, it comes down to what I see in the image. I generally shoot in color — even images I know I’ll be converting to black and white later. That way, if the image strikes me differently later, I have the digital information. A little secret: sometimes, if a color image just isn’t doing it for me because lighting was off or exposure wasn’t enough, I’ll go artsy with it and turn it black and white as well. But don’t tell anyone. Some of us photographers like to do that and pretend likes it’s what we planned from the beginning.
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LEFT | HADRIAN'S WALL RIGHT | LONGWOOD
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Does the consideration that photos can be altered affect how you prep for a shot? I do consider what I can do with it in editing when taking certain shots. It’s something that seems to come naturally to me, so I don’t stand there for twenty minutes setting up a shot. Realistically, you don’t have time to set up the perfect shot. During travelling, there’s time and tourists to consider. I have a number of shots I’ve gotten in Europe at high tourist locations without any people in them. Those shots generally do consist of me having patience, waiting in one spot for a time, and then having about one second to get the clear shot. In regards to other editing aspects, I do consider if it’ll look better in black and white and whether HDR (High Dynamic Range) may be best, then I shoot accordingly.
How does digital photography and the ability to edit photos affect your experience of place as a photographer? What effect does it create for the viewer? For me, digital has allowed me to take photos as well as just experience being in a place. When I initially get to a location, I’ll walk around, get a feel for it, and maybe take a few shots. Then I’ll go back to the areas that I really liked. Digital also allows me to take a number of shots quickly, make sure they came out, and put the camera down for a bit. The ability to edit photos on the computer really allows me, as an artist, to create a mood or a story to the images that may not necessarily be available in film or slide.
Q. What can digital alterations uniquely add to a photo? In the samples I’ve included, it’s clear how alterations can change an image, for better or for worse In England, especially, I was there for a few cloudy, rainy days, but I was able to salvage some shots through adjusting shadows, color, etc. There’s one shot from Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania that was a very rainy day, but the trees were stunning. The original shot was dark, so I used a bit of HDR along with other editing techniques to bring out the color and the sky. Overall, digital photography has been wonderful. The biggest drawback is the misconception that you can just push a button and poof, the perfect image happens. That is no truer for digital than it was for film. The advantage we have now is the ability to transfer it from camera to computer and start editing, usually using three different programs. No time is saved, either. Photographers spend as much time on the computer editing as film photographers spent in the dark room with developing, dodging and burning, and exposure.
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ROUND N ROUND BY AZRA BIHORAC
WRITTEN BY ANNIE BLAKE
ELUCIDATING THE DEFINITION OF PAIN I love pretending. I can write words in worlds I will never find. The thoughts I deny are like ice to my skin. I remember the obstetrician putting ice on the flat regions of my body. She said she would recheck the progression of dilation. She released morphine under my skin. She wanted to know if there was coldness; if there was pain. I told her I didn’t know. Pretending that I’m mainstream makes functioning perceivable. She said to rate the pain from one to ten. I told her I didn’t understand that question. I don’t know why she had to get so angry— there are lots of different types of pain. There is pain that other pains gulp down and digest like food. There is the rehashing of bruises and burns that whirl out like photocopied paper.
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TRIANGLE BY AZRA BIHORAC
There is the pain that locks and surges and undulates from one segment of the physical body to the next. There is somatic pain derived from knowing you have to mimic the societal standard of normalcy. And the psychic pain of being on the lips of solipsism and not knowing whether your life is concrete or projected. Then there is the pain of believing your rational mind will snap and your primitive neuronal connectivity will flare like red train lights. Fear grows soupy webs called pain. I have a fear that the world in my mind will inhale the one that people live in because it holds up better—the pain of this pain is ineradicable. I told her it might help to get rid of the morphine. The ice is just complicating things. She told me it must be time for her coffee. Annie Blake is a writer who enjoys research in psychoanalysis and metaphysics. Her poem “These Grey Streets” was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize by Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and her fiction “How I Swallowed a Snake” has been nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize by The Slag Review.
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B B B B B
U U U U U
WRITTEN BY ROBERT KRATZER B efore the fire was set ablaze, U nder the old cherry tree, R ed robins would sing on the branches, but N o one sat beneath her shade. B eaten and worn, the old cherry tree was U pon death and drooping low. R eminiscing about times when she was young, N ever seeing a smiling face from anyone. B eloved by none it sat U pon an old forsaken hill, R omancing that she lived anywhere or N owhere else but here.
R R R R R
N N N N N
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TOP | FAITH NO MORE BOTTOM | CLOUDY DREAMS BY FABRICE POUSSIN
LADY BLUE | PAGE 2
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COME GATHER, MAD POETS! WRITTEN BY PETER DIETRICH Peter H. Dietrich is originally from the UK. After traveling the world non-stop for over 40 years as a reporter/filmmaker/spinner-of-tales, writing all the way in various forms, he has recently returned to the UK in a bid to see some of his more personal writings read and published. These include a novel, a collection of short stories, two musicals, and a collection of poetry entitled Forty Days & Forty Nights, from which this poem is taken.
Come gather, mad poets, where they bury the truth, Plucking dead birds from the sky, The procession of words might be somewhat uncouth But the masters will let it go by, The bubble has burst from the weight of pretenses, The rain floods the dam of sad rhymes, And even new lovers are torn apart by these fences, Built to stem the advance of new times. Be upright, wild dreamers, when they point the finger, Igniting the shadowy pyres, The crumbling foundations will allow you to linger While they bask in the heat of those fires, The smoke will afford you a cloak of relief As their time is reduced to mere ashes, And though the hypocrisy really beggars belief They lose hold as the false symbol crashes. Stay focused, raw singers, if they alter the tune, Drowning the heart’s melody, The players may have entered the arena too soon But your song drives its own harmony, The chorus builds walls that will halt their assault, Then the silence will rip off its mask, And though all the doubts point out each little fault The last vision will take them to task.
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"We shall rally to the fallen tree’s cry." Cling firmly, brave pilgrims, as they fell the last tree, Crushing the newly born dream, The branches will cushion every call to remain free And the soul will emerge still pristine, The chaos they promote cannot halt the exodus, As the child’s smile cracks open each lie, And though the mad poet lies dormant in most of us, We shall rally to the fallen tree’s cry. Crave deeply, blithe spirits, as they banish the light, Turning desire from its path, The darkness will stand and put up a great fight While they ignore the true aftermath, The years count for nothing when measured in shed tears, The symbol is etched in each star, And even if your love trembles as the last battle nears You should stand proud to have made it thus far.
FOUNTAIN ABBEY BY TRACI LAW
Azra Bihorac is a business graduate from Copenhagen Business School. She works in fashion as a digital and social media manager. She spends her free time on books, cinema, and photography. Her mission in life is to travel the world and spread joy through dance, food, and pictures.
TOP | RAINY VATICAN BY AZRA BIHORAC BOTTOM | STARRY NIGHT BY FABRICE POUSSIN
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A T O A S T
WRITTEN BY ETHAN HOUTZ I want to raise a toast, to all the friends I never met, in far-off places that don't exist, and the worlds that get reset. To the lucky Spartan and the jolly pilgrim, to the third child and the seventh son, to the prince that died and the boy who lived, to the man with a meal and the sage with a sword. I've learned volumes from your volumes, and I've grown from your mistakes. Each of you has shown to me what being a hero takes. So back to the shelves from whence you came, to meet your next new friend. To them you just got started, so you and I will just pretend.
Ethan Houtz is an obsessive gamer, software developer, storyteller, philosopher, part-time Discordian, and pun connoisseur. He hopes he can serve as an example that computer programmers are just as capable of creating art as the next person.
Where elegance meets eloquence, you’ll find Lady Blue. In every issue, we strive to create a collection of pages any person in this scary, b...
Published on Mar 31, 2018
Where elegance meets eloquence, you’ll find Lady Blue. In every issue, we strive to create a collection of pages any person in this scary, b...