*Aw/Al*Issue05*Sept2011* In This Issue... Editorâ€™s Note Cover Artist Words
Lauren Tamraz Michael B. Joyce
J. Bradley, Matthew Vasiliauskas Devi Lockwood, James Shrader Emily Chandler, William Alton Graham Tugwell
Frank Kosempa, Jennifer Morse Elizabeth Unterman, Akemi Hiatt
Happy September, dear readers, a month filled with honey-hot afternoons and an ever narrowing wedge of sunlight. This issue pays tribute to cycles: light, life, youth, love. From the ashes and imaginary beauty of cover artist Michael B. Joyce, to the magical light play of our triple-threat photo sirens Akemi Hiatt, Jennifer Morse and Elizabeth Unterman and the imprint of Frank Kosempa’s Hudson Valley relic, all happenings exist in constant flux. My own homage to this sequence is my backdrop this month: a worn wood boardwalk revisited from my childhood just this past week. Its smell and touch were the same as they were in my mind for decades. Happily, some things do stay the same. Still other things grow, evolve. One evolution we’re undergoing is new sponsorship; this month we are pleased to host images from Hiatt, Morse and Unterman from their current show, Light in the Valley at the Yoga House of Kingston, NY. The Yoga House hopes you’ll stop in and enjoy the full show at their Crown St. studio. They join Crossroads Hydroponics & Organics of Newburgh, NY and Barner Books of New Paltz, our original beloved sponsor. Whatever your evolution this autumn, enjoy its unraveling. Capture some of its moments, if only in your mind, and use them later when life leaves you dry and lonesome for ideas. With the succession of seasons come chances for new personas. Thanks for allowing us to be a part of yours. See you again in November for our 1st anniversary issue...
XO, L PS> Check out more features on our website, www.awostingalchemy.com, including the artists’ statements for Light in the Valley.
Cover Artist: Michael B. Joyce In the artistâ€™s own words: New York City is the poetic place of my childhood. I was always an artist, though at school, art was not part of the curriculum. Because of my religious education, it took time to come to terms with certain subjects. My paintings are a result of a methodical and never ending search for realism of color, shape and beauty. At the same time, my hidden fantasies, illogical and incongruous, emerge without my being fully aware. I paint rather slowly with precision and accuracy, two characteristics that are not common today. I have no desire to follow any artistic current, but paint as I have always wished, giving substance to my dreams.
Find more of the artistâ€™s work at michaelbjoyce.com
Above: The River Left: Desert Fire Cover: Surfer
Poem Written In An Imaginary Black Five Star Notebook I want my body to be wide-ruled notebook paper, write questions answerable only by a check box. I’ll cross everything I have while waiting for your number two pencil verdict: fingers, toes, eyes, arms, and shins. I’m teaching expectation low self-esteem, fill its lungs with xenon, prescribe navel gazing contact lenses; I won’t boil water until the jury of your right hand comes back.
Yo La Tengo Once, a woman asked me what I wanted; the words almost died on the way out. Politeness is my muzzle. I bend until my temper breaks. From the driver's seat, she cuts the horizon from my palm, frames the sliver with matches, says "you have to start small or else you'll create too much distance."
Hutton Digital Print, 2011
The Suit -Matthew Vasiliauskas The suit belonged to his father. It was one of those rare suits that never left the confines of photographs, faded black and white embryonic threads sniffing the hairs of shivering forearms, slaloming through the dust-filled air only to find itself suffocating beneath the glass, fingerprints staining its skin, giving it the look of a wild, transparent creature. Many of the neighbors thought it was cursed, claiming his father had purchased it from a known killer. His father took a morbid delight in this fact, and would often hang the suit on a light
pole in front of their home, an urban scarecrow, flapping in the current of passing feet and rapid heartbeats, fluttering in a near panic over the fields of framed, silhouetted shadows, bathing and laughing, an endless plain of moving paintings before screaming into the starfilled night. If it were up to him, the suit would have stayed in the basement closet, left to decipher the slurred, creaking speech of the rotted wood. But Marcy had died, and he needed something to wear to the service.
The passing, rain-drenched blinking traffic lights elicited buried memories within him. Those of Marcy sitting on the couch in her living room, her soft, waterlike fingers peeling back the layers of dried newsprint, directing her eyes to the wide open windows containing frozen and excited gazes that seemed to crack, little by little, from Harry’s incessant opening of beer cans, until finally shattering completely into chalky, white mounds of dust gathering on her arms like freshly fallen snow. The dust had kept her arms buried for 30 years, and she hated Harry until the day she died for doing it to her. Nearly a hundred people had made their way to Larkin funeral home, confused limbs and torsos spinning in place, bumping into one another in a dizzy, drunken haze before finding refuge in the chipped folding chairs, the worn, green cushions sitting on top of them smelling of an attic that had been reassembled after dwelling underwater for some time. Marcy’s older sister Clara had been responsible for most of the planning, and had decided to forego the typical eulogy in favor of putting on a short skit, using two of the nieces to act out a scene that had occurred between the sisters when they were younger. The entire room grew silent, as the two little girls made their way to the area in front of Marcy’s casket, the nearby candlelight pinching the folds of their wrinkled dresses, and seeming to wash away any trace of expression from their faces.
“I want to be one of those,” the little girl playing Marcy said. “You can’t. It’s impossible,” the young Clara replied. “There has to be a way. Jerry showed me magazines where men can be women. So there has to be a way to do it.” “You’re stupid, that’s an elephant. You can’t be an elephant.” “Wouldn’t it be something? I’d want people to touch my skin all the time. I wouldn’t think of moving without a hand on me.” “You can do that now.” “I want that type of skin. And a trunk.” “God, you’d be hideous.” “And think of how strong I would be. I could crush anything.” “You’d have to live in a zoo you know. There’s no more elephants in the wild. They shot them all.” “I wouldn’t mind. I like people looking at me. And I’d talk to them. We’d have great conversations about fashion and everything.” “Elephants can’t talk. And what happens if they decide to shoot you?” “That wouldn’t happen. They’d lose money if I was gone. People only come to zoos for the elephants.” “Wouldn’t you get lonely at night?”
They looked scared, and began breathing heavy, until after a few moments of Clara’s coaxing, gained their composure, faced the audience and launched into the scene.
“I think that would be the best time. I’d have time with my thoughts.” “What thoughts?”
“I don’t know, just thoughts. About everything I guess. Probably about the people I talked to during the day, and the food I ate. I’d even sing a little bit probably.” “Would you think of me?” “Of course I would.” “You can’t say that for sure. Elephants don’t think like us. You probably wouldn’t even recognize me if I visited.” “Don’t be an idiot. Remember what I said? And I meant it. I’ll remember okay. You can’t forget to visit me though.” “I won’t. I’ll bring you magazines.” “Only Delight. That’s the only one I’ll read then.” “I will. If they still make them.”
one another, the flickering from the candles now echoing throughout the room, traversing the jagged geography of exposed flesh, scars, lips and chins propelling the sound to blurring speeds cutting through the remnants of disintegrated incense until finally splashing into the moistened eyes of Clara, causing her entire body to ripple and shake. A few moments passed before it was announced that lunch would be served in the adjoining dining room, prompting most to get up from their seats and make their way to the recently renovated space. As he stood in line nearing the dining room, he turned suddenly and noticed Clara still standing in place, her hand gripping onto the seat in front of her, staring across the room to an open window, whispering something he could not understand.
The two little girls paused and smiled at
Jennifer Lynn Morse
After the Quake the street was broken. There had been lampposts (like conch shells) and bicycle gears: the stuff of fighter jets. A capful of crescent wings, petroleum too. Where did all the wings come from? With the twang of mirrorspeech, they stood in the fissures, ready for flight. We drank everything from a jam jar on the ground without seeing the road again.
Circus Act Birds flit and dovetail into one another, over wires, upside down. I pass a birdbath, your name in the sidewalk. I in neon hues of you, different shades of hesitation. I’ve always been afraid to lose you by midnight. At this hour the clouds are little islands to hop between, layers reborn in company. See them there? The hunch-backed jugglers above the city’s night, illuminated by the crux of the moon. How many first things fall not knowing their destinations? Under billowing striped tents do we drift in a haphazard dance between sewer and the passerby’s three inch heels? Do we paint the night in hieroglyphs? The room attached to the lighted window pollutes this most pure blackness and three blocks away evening floods the sea. I drew you as you slept in sea foam green and darker shades – amethyst for your eyelid creases, the place where elbow disappears into forearm, your mind somewhere quieter than the draining Atlantic. Take me to the place where flying things have no shadow. I will rest there and release the elephants from my shoulders and heart.
Solstice Pigment Print 10" x 10" 2011
Pigment Print 10" x 10" 2011
When She Comes First one I remember it is Christmas Eve. Outside my bedroom window colored lights are strung along a bending length of fence in the cool Florida night. In the morning there will be fog. Her knees are saddled against the plates of my pelvis, anchoring her. Each time her back wall—where it tents—clamps down on me painfully her eyelids flutter and her lips part vacantly. Beautiful, she falls backward a bit, arching as if against a headwind. Impaled on my modest length of mast. Her arms lift outward as if to catch the wind. Lifting outward as if crucified. Each time I have to shake her awake. In old Dallas, in a converted Victorian, pink curtains filter streetlight like a scarf draped over a tiffany lamp. Like an ancient house of burlesque. Atop me she swells. As an athlete she excelled, all points of her body graded on the curve. She leans forward, clasping her hands behind the base of my skull, elbows finding purchase in my collarbones. Like a Muay-Thai fighting clinch. Her wails resonate through the groaning, antebellum building. And when she spasms, the hiss and spit of a lawn sprinkler spigot, a warm spray in choppy bursts. When we rise to survey the damage the pink sheets are stained wet with the negative impression of my form. The lighter, dry trunk of my torso forking into two legs. A crime scene outline. A massacre. Central New York in winter. The frozen mouth of the Mohawk Valley. The most beautiful, married mother of two, a born-again Baptist in a town full of Catholics. If her balding husband were a better Christian she wouldn’t be doing this. Her ice blue bedroom eyes and swollen, clichéd lips say otherwise. With me above her hoisting her hips, the sweetest nectar branches along the peach fuzz of her lightly scarred navel then converges in a narrow torrent between her breasts. With her above me we ruin my roommate’s air mattress, the stuff pooling in the seams, to my wrist where I support my weight to sit up. We flip over couch cushions once, then again. Eventually we burn wounds into our knees and along our spines from the rough, old carpet. The floor there is wet for days and cold as outside the snow piles man-high. -James Shrader
Akemi Hiatt, Jennifer Morse & Elizabeth Unterman
Light in the Valley #1 Pigment Print 24" x 30" 2011
Bridges -Emily Chandler It’s been awhile since they went out for beers. They used to go out most Friday nights unless something prevented them but they’ve never been here before. A few people stand around the entrance of the Irish pub, smoking cigarettes and dancing to the left over music spilling through the cracks. The faint snow coats the sidewalk and cold seeps through her leather jacket. A bald man opens the door for them. “It’s a five dollar cover tonight. We have a live band,” The doorman says. She fishes a five out of her wallet but he’s already paid. The bar is crowded. The tables are all taken so they have to sit at the corner of the bar. The stools are close together and they both sit facing straight. His black jacket doesn’t fit him – it doesn’t hug him and his pants sag too low. He sits with his pant legs tucked under the soles of his Nikes. “Should I start a tab?” The bartender asks. The bartender is pretty with green eyes and black hair. She doesn’t have an Irish accent. “Yeah, put it all on this.” He hands the bartender his card. “Two Black Buttes. Wait, do you want something else?” “No, I always get dark beer, remember?” She says. He nods. “I know. I just thought you might want something different now.”
her back. “She doesn’t even have an accent – every Irish place should have a token Irish person,” She says to him. He smiles a little. The bartender’s hips bounce left to right to the bass of the band. This must be how she gets her tips she thinks. The band begins to play a reel and people rise to dance. He picks up his beer and drinks half of it. His stool swivels to face her, “This is good beer, but it’s not the best.” He hunkers down, slouching his back so he’s eye level with the bottom of the glass. She puts her eyes there too, but she doesn’t have to slouch. “You can see the amber at the bottom right?” She nods. “Real dark beer should be dark all over. If you want real dark beer, you have to go to Munich or get some good imported shit. Munich is where the best beer is, real dark beer.” She wonders why he always talks about Germany - he’s never been there. He’s dated mainly Russian girls but never talks about Russia. “I guess you have to settle sometimes for what you can get here.” She says. The band picks up again. He bobs his head up and down but not to the beat. “Do you want to dance?” He asks. “I haven’t had enough to drink for that.” “Me neither. It just seems like I should ask.” He drinks the rest of his beer and signals the bartender for another.
Her phone buzzes in her pocket. Her phone buzzes. The Black Buttes appear in front of them and the bartender turns to the register. Her black hair stretches past the small of
She looks at him. His dark hair doesn’t frame his face and his nose sticks out too much. She realizes that his hair has been
the same length for the five years she’s known him. The reel switches into Strawberry Fields Forever. This really isn’t an authentic Irish pub she thinks. “Let’s dance now,” she says. “You want to?” “Yeah.” “This song kind of weird to dance to, isn’t it?” “So?” She stands up and weaves her way through the shrinking dance floor. She doesn’t look back to make sure he’s following.
Only one enamored couple keeps dancing, holding on to each other for stability in the corner. They walk over to the other free corner by the door. He looks at her and puts his hands up a little like he doesn’t know where to put them. She gently grasps his fingers and pulls them to her hips. Her right hand finds his shoulder and she tucks hair behind her ear with her left. The bright ring flashes in the light and she sees the glimmer in his eye. His arms lengthen so only his finger tips touch her – she feels them through her jeans. They rock side to side to the nomadic melody and his hands slowly relax into her hips, resting his thumbs on the top of her pockets. She stretches her arms around his stomach and puts her
Taken By Storm 8” x 10” Digital 2011
head on his chest. She’s secure when she feels his thick stomach, safe. Her movement stiffens him a little. She feels his back tense and looks up at him. His light brown eyes meet hers and look away, guilt. He gives in, embracing her back and she realizes they’re not dancing anymore. The song ends and their hands fall to their sides. She walks back towards their spot at the bar even though some tables are open. The beer glasses sit empty on the counter and he raises his hand again for another. She traces the light lines swirling through the dark wood of the bar. Her fingers run across circles like eyes and sloping streaks like hills on a great landscape. He used to drive her places like this, sometimes for no reason at all. He picked her up one night and they drove three hours to a deserted town and stood in the valley between large hills. They felt what it was like to be empty. The band keeps playing but no one’s paying attention. She finishes her beer in several gulps and his is gone in one go. “You ready?” He asks. “Yeah.” He helps her into her jacket. He opens the door and they stand on the sidewalk as he reaches in his pocket for his keys. Her phone buzzes and he can finally hear it without the roar of the music. She doesn’t reach for it.
“No you haven’t.” He stops walking and looks at her. He doesn’t hide his downward lingering eyes. It’s her fault - she’s wearing a low cut top. “What do you want to do?” He asks her. She starts walking and he follows. Where are you going?” “To your car.” “It’s the other way.” He lets her walk past him. The air is heavy on her skin and a few snowflakes land on her hair. When they get to the car he opens the door for her. He closes the passenger door too hard and she jumps. She stares out the window at a scraggly man smoking a joint and drinking out of a can while he gets in the car. Her phone buzzes. “You should let him know where you are,” He says. “I would want to know.” “I will.” She pulls her phone out and turns it off. They sit for a few moments not speaking and shivering a little in the black car. She wonders if they will ever go anywhere. “Why are we here?” He asks. He turns his head towards her slowly. She winces, the question is impossible.
“Is it him?” He asks.
“We both wanted some beer.”
“It isn’t right. You’re with someone,” He says.
“I’ll take you home.” “We’re not doing anything.” “I’m not ready to go back yet.” “You need to go home – I’ve already kept you too late.”
“I want to.” They look at each other. Their brown eyes meet, cold and tired. Her jaw tilts to the right a little and she picks up a strand of her long dark hair
and twirls it. She stares back at the man on the street and sees he isn’t trembling from the cold.
someone would pick this bridge. She doesn’t understand why anyone would want to die so alone.
He turns the ignition over and drives towards her house. Drunk people stumble on the sidewalks, yelling and falling in to each other. “I’m not ready to go home. Are you?” She asks.
He pulls off the road onto the shoulder and shuts the car off. He leaves the keys in the ignition and they gently clink against the steering wheel. They’ve been here many times before but never in the winter. She pictured the night that he jumped, it snowed. He didn’t stall at the ledge at all. He went in head first and jumped into the ice water with arms and legs flailing in all directions. He regretted it the second he hit the water.
“No. But I don’t know what we should do.” “Let’s go to the bridge.” She says. The snow creeps down more and more. He flicks on the windshield wipers. They come to a stoplight at a deserted intersection. He turns the old Mustang around and heads towards the freeway. He changes lanes and takes the next exit. The bridge where their friend jumped is about a half hour off of the freeway. They sit in silence. “Why didn’t you say anything before?” She asks. Her thin eye brows almost meet and her huge lips seem tight and small. “I don’t know.” He says. They sit in the silence again. “Do you think about why he jumped?” She asks after awhile. “I try not to.” “We wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for him.” “I know.” The car grumbles a little and she wonders if they will make it there. They’re only a few minutes away but it’s snowing hard. They haven’t passed a car in quite awhile and she wonders why
He gets out of the car and she forces a white glove over the ring on her left hand. Before she can look up, her door is open. The river sound floods her ears when she steps out of the car into the fresh foot prints he’s left for her in the snow. They can’t see anything – he uses his cell phone to light the way. She feels his hand on her back guiding her around a pot hole. She’s angry. She wonders how anyone could ever treat her better. They reach the center ledge of the bridge. They don’t look down - they look up. The snow slowly masks their bodies and faces. Her face stings from the cold but she can’t look down yet. His dark hair isn’t dark anymore and she thinks they can become different people. She’s never been to the other side of the bridge and looks to see what’s there. She walks but his arm stops her. He holds on to her, like she’s the one who might jump. He reaches out for her shoulder and pulls her close to him. The water rushes under and they wonder why they came.
The Empty Room In the empty room, there is only one chair and only one window. Light falls in a thick band across the floor and chair glows with its own fire. She comes and sits and lights a cigarette. She takes a pad of paper from her purse and writes the names of all of her lovers. She remembers them like a severed limb remembers pain. There is no lover now, just the woman walking down the street, her hips swaying. She sits in the empty room with nothing to do, but wait for the sun to drop into the mountains and the stars to burn through the city’s hazy light. She’ll leave them room the way she found it, empty and clean. She’ll leave nothing of herself behind when she undresses and walks into the bedroom and sleeps in the purple night. -William Alton
Deer Pointillism Sells Memorials from Lighttime 4.2”x6" archival inkjet print 2011
I Snap When We Go Right Around -Graham Tugwell It was at the end of August that Granddad came to stay with mother and me. Just for a while. A small mall with simian limbs— his eyebrows ragged sweeps of white, his eyes the heads of thumb tacks, deeply pushed in yielding yellow wood and his nose a speckled dangling lump, both cherry red and purple. His neck was a twisted rod of wrinkles, his ears like uncooked rashers slithering either side of his head.
(He had to go outside to smoke but he took their smell in with him.) A gawky, gangling thing and tall for my age, I would go up the narrow stairs after school and pay him a visit. We’d sit, side by side on his bed our heads against the rough slant of the roof. He’d place the long wooden box upon his knees and together we’d go through it. I could never guess what he’d show me next—shells, bottles, a lump of rusted metal he called a Dog Head Spike.
Granddad smiled at everything I said. We gave him a bedroom—half the converted attic became his. All the walls and the floor were paneled in knotted wood and the small gable window gave out upon the garage roof, the yard, and the Creamery beyond.
Jennifer Lynn Morse
Once, grinning, crooking his finger to make me lean, he showed me a black and white photograph, unfolded from its careful quarters: Two young girls, sitting on a beachfront wall, curly-haired and laughing;
Untitled, Self-Portrait 2011
one with a twist of ice-cream against her mouth, the other leaning towards the camera, her chin upon her shoulder, her eyes dark over the rims of her sunglasses. Both wearing floral tops and shorts. “That’s your grandmother on the right,” says Granddad. “Her sister on the left.” He taps the leaning girl with a bitten nail. Granddad smells of smoke. His breath is warm in the airless attic. “Didn’t she have lovely legs?”
* And another day after dinner, mother passes out bowls of orange pieces in cream for dessert. Across the table Granddad is making faces, getting me to laugh. He presses toothless gums upon the furry whiteness of an orange piece and it bleeds tears of stickiness down his chin. I laugh a little as he grins and swallows, tonguing his dentures away from the palate— they hang lopsided for a second then slap his tongue with a plastic clap.
He nods and smiles. “Look at her legs.” I glance at them. “Sam,” he says, “Look at her legs.” He stares with tiny sunken eyes and says nothing until I agree with him. “Yeah, Granddad,” I say in a small voice, “Lovely.” A flinty elbow jabs my ribs and his dentures move loosely in his smiling mouth. “I picked the wrong one there, didn’t I?” he laughs. “Yeah, Granddad,” I say. He folds the picture away, chuckles rumbling to a close and eyes upon the treetops through the window. “The things I’d do Sam...” he whispers, “If I got to go round again.” He looks at me. And the attic’s such a small tight place. I could never guess what he’d show me next.
With my mother twisted away, he leans towards her, directing a stupid face at the curve of her spine. But as he waggles his cotton eyebrows he knocks against his bowl, sending cream to thrush the table. When my mother turns around, tiredness is in every line of her face, resignation is in her threadbare voice. “Ah Da. Look what you’ve done.” Granddad dips a finger in the stuff and plucks his lower lip with it— “Give us the tea towel then,” he purrs in leering. She passes the white rag to him and Granddad shepherds cream in clagging waves and when he has it gathered up he twists the tea towel between his hands until it creaks. He nods at my mother, tiny black eyes shining. “Do you remember? Hah? Do you remember?” Mother’s eyes are lidded—softly she nods. Granddad grins across the dinner table. He winks at me. We laugh.
Peach Sliced en Route to Delhi, NY from Lighttime, 4.2”x6" archival inkjet print 2011
Granddad whips the twisted fabric through the air, cracking it off my mother’s arm.
One day in the attic, his soft voice coming back from the slanting boards behind my head, Granddad turns to me and says:
She gasps. Granddad laughs. “You remember don’t you?”
“Sam. Let’s have some fun. Let’s play a trick on your mother.” I grin, and it’s a little lopsided thing.
Bouncing in his seat, he whips the cloth again and again, Mother flinching with every stroke. His knees thump the underside of the table. Making the crockery dance. Upsetting my bowl into my lap.
“You’ll enjoy it,” Granddad purrs, and his eyes are pushing deep black in his head and it feels like I am following them— Down— Bending, he pulls aside the skirt of the bed, slides the wooden box from underneath and levers the lid with a whinge.
He twists the tea towel. Twists it even tighter.
He takes out things, resting them on the blanket between us: a brown bottle with
a white screw-top lid, a wad of cotton, three scraps of yellowed newsprint, a laminated card.
“For the trick,” he whispers, “So your mother can see what we’ve done. You’ll enjoy it.”
“Wait until you see your mother’s face...”
Cold and wet is pawed along my shoulder blades and Granddad passes me a folded card of faded plastic. “Here’s a prayer for you to read,” he says.
With a cotton swab plugging its neck, he turns the bottle upside down. Orange liquid bubbles and glugs — tickled by uprushing air.
Taking it, I look down upon The Magnificat of St. Barnabus.
“What’s that?” I whisper. “Chemicals,” says Granddad through clenched teeth, “Just chemicals.” I watch the orange stuff invade the cotton. He spins his finger in a slow circle, and I turn to sit in front of Granddad, folding my legs under myself. “Undo your top button, Sam.”
“Out loud,” says Granddad, “If you wouldn’t mind,” and jinking the bottle he slicks another puff of white and spots the stuff on the curve of my spine. Stumbling, I begin: “My Lord...” “Louder,” says Granddad. I start again “My Lord doth magnify my flesh...”
I do. “Show me your neck. Your shoulders.” I do. He dabs the cotton on my neck and it’s a greasy cold that clings, that crawls, like calamine lotion.
“And the world to come shall deem me blessed...” The next line is blurred by the plastic crease. “What... what does this mean, Granddad?” “Just read it, Sam.” I hear the squeak of a bottle lid twisted back in place.
Smells like tar on a summer’s day. I skip the line I cannot read. He works the stuff up the length of my neck, cold brushing the lobes of my ears. It makes my skin itch. With a gluck he wets another pad and as I gather the hair away from my neck he says in close and gentle tones, “You’ll need to take your clothes off, Sam.” “My clothes?”— Those words come as squeaks.
“Because he that is mighty...” “Hath done strange things to me...” “And the love of the Lord is a melting thing.” There’s more but I don’t... I don’t want to go on.
“Granddad,” I whisper, “Why do I need to say this?”
I try to smile but my muscles feel limp and wrong and numbness creeps across my throat.
“Granddad?” The bed creaks. Silently he slides his fingers under my ears, gripping both sides of my neck. The orange coating softly cracks.
“Yes,” I slur, and it’s hard to swallow, “Yes.” Looking at my Granddad, I think: When will I start to enjoy this?
“This might hurt, Sam,” whispers Granddad, “Just for a moment.”
Granddad, having pulled my awkward backwards body from my clothes, now helps me tackle the stairs.
Descending, I look down—
Granddad twists my head around.
Those are my heels, stumbling, inching bluntly to each edge—
I close my eyes.
There is the click and pull of soft things catching, the soundless grind of giving bone, the high strain of ligament in twisting. My lips are pulled apart; I gasp a short unwilling breath.
Those are the backs of my knees, flexing the wrong way round, pale, with blue veins threading, and those are my calves, working smooth and meaty flesh—
I snap when we go right around. It hurts.
And above them, where the crease of my spine ends—
Just for a moment.
Those are my...
But that moment lasts a long time.
I open my eyes. I stare across the bend of my back into Granddad’s grinning face.
I turn my eyes away.
“Lovely,” he breathes, “Oh lovely. That worked so well.”
Granddad guides me through the sitting room door.
He claps a hand on my knee.
“She’s at the sink in the kitchen, Sam. Just keep walking forward.” My voice is sluggish: “Granddad. Muh tongue... tongue... urh—”
“Shall we show your mother what we’ve done?”
It’s wrong to watch myself like this.
“Ssshhhhh,” he says, orange-stained fingers against his lips, “Just walk,
Sam.” Bending with grunts and clicking knees, he hides behind the couch. Smiling, deep eyes glinting, he urges me on with a sweep of his hand. My body faces forward, yet my face is turned to look behind and in my stumbling wake I see Granddad cover his mouth to stifle his laughter. My bare feet slap arrhythmic on the wooden floor of the sitting room, then the cream tiles of the kitchen. “Mammy!” I shout, “Mammy look!” I hear the shuffle of her feet as she turns from the sink. “Mammy!” I shout, “Mammy! Surpri-iise!”
“Samantha!” she cries, “What did you do to Samantha?” Granddad laughs so loud it sounds like he is getting sick. `”What you have done, you—” Mother crunches through the crockery, grabbing my arm—what way—what way are they supposed to bend? “She’ll stay like this!” “Mahh?” I say, words becoming loose, slithering things, “Mahhh?” She looks at me. “Oh love. Oh Sam. Why’d you let him?” “Joke, Mah.Ta-daaahrgh!”
I hear her drop the plate she is drying— It turns to ringing shards upon the tiles. They bounce against my shins. But she says nothing.
Mother grabs my face with soapy hands, her fingers sliding under my ears, and she twists me, tries to pull my head straight on my neck.
I slur a laugh down my twisted neck and trill a “Wooo-oooh!” I wave my hands. I jig my feet. “Woo,” I warble.
Tittering, Granddad peeks from behind the couch.
But she hasn’t got the chemicals.
And I’ve forgotten the prayer. But mother says nothing. I won’t go back around. Forgetting which way my arms bend, I stagger in a circle and look across my spine at her— I try to drag my twisted mouth into a smile but it feels like it’s no longer mine.
The pain of it. I try to pull her hands away.
There she stands, my mother, suddylimbed and staring, her face a rim of horror round her puncture-mouth.
Heavy boots are hammering the floor— Granddad is dancing. Mother’s hands are slippery—she loses grip— I lurch away, stumbling towards Granddad.
But she’s not looking at me.
“Bend meee back!” I scream.
She’s looking past me—
I fall against the doorframe, tumble to the floor.
“You promised,” she screams at her father, “You promised you wouldn’t!”
But Granddad keeps dancing, stamping from foot to foot, clapping his hands and laughing.
I stagger crab-wrong cross the carpet, bucking on my hands and knees, my face wrenched towards the ceiling, a twisted, melted thing. Screeching “Bend me back the right way.”
Mother sobs as she holds me, as she runs her hand along my neck. “You promised you wouldn’t start this without me...”
Mother throws a blanket round me, covering my contortions.
Akemi Hiatt, Jennifer Morse & Elizabeth Unterman
Untitled Polaroid 4”X5” 2011
The Doves in the Trees Doves call for answers. They hide in trees and rustle their wings, leaving only their voices to the wind. I’ve spent the past month looking for them. I’ve walked around the courtyard searching for their iridescent wings. Madness is looking for something that is not there. I ask my neighbors, do you hear that? They light their cigarette and tell me maybe it’s time for a nap. But I can give the search. I can’t stop looking for source of sound. I might be crazy, but the birds are there. I can hear them all day from the trees. -William Alton
Akemi Hiatt, Jennifer Morse & Elizabeth Unterman
Untitled Polaroid 4" x 5" 2011
J. Bradley is the author of Bodies Made of Smoke (HOUSEFIRE, 2011). He is the Interviews Editor of PANK Magazine and lives at www.iheartfailure.net Frank Kosempa lives in New Paltz, NY with his True Love on a meandering North-flowing river that will oxbow in about two thousand years. I Ching comments: K'en Sun: Development, Gentle Progress. He writes, photographs, makes videos, and occasionally does other art stuff. There’s also the garden to love. Some of the videos are here: http://www.youtube.com/user/publicki ndness Matthew Vasiliauskas is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Film and Video Production. In 2009, he was awarded the Silver Dome Prize by the Illinois Broadcast Association for best public affairs program as producer of the Dean Richards Show at WGN Radio. He is a frequent contributor to Film Monthly, an online journal of contemporary cinema. Matthew currently lives and works in Los Angeles. You can view more of his writings here: www.thepapersnake.com Jennifer Morse is a photographic artist born in Rochester, New York and currently residing in Kingston, New York. After graduating from The College at Brockport, she has worked for art publications and recently completed two intensive work exchange programs with the Center for Photography at Woodstock. She now assists several wellestablished photographers including John Dugdale and was named Director of
Education at the recently established 19th Century School of Photography in Ulster County. Jennifer’s work has earned a place in the collections of numerous universities and private collectors. She is currently exhibiting and making new work, as well as doing extensive historical research in the field of 19th c. photography and its processes. www.JenniferLynnMorse.com Devi K Lockwood is a poet living in Cambridge, MA who enjoys unicycling, ginger pear white tea, and sunrise over the Charles River. Look for her under trees and in the places where daffodils grow. As a winner of the Carus Publishing Poetry Slam and the NECC Peace Poetry Contest, Devi her work has previously appeared in Cicada, Surrounded, and the 2009 NECC Peace Poetry anthology. James Shrader is an adjunct gypsy, who spends his time driving between three different colleges in the glacial hills of central New York. His car is a station wagon, which he thinks is sexy. Even after it recently ran him over, rolling down his steep driveway into the street, unmanned, parking brake unengaged. Station wagons, it turns out, are heavy. But sexy. Elizabeth Unterman’s photography and video work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions including Revisit at the Herter Gallery, Amherst, MA; The Boston Young Contemporaries at Boston University; The Screening at Samson Projects, Boston; The Woodstock Biennial at the Woodstock/Byrdcliffe Guild and the Photo Regional at the Albany Center
Gallery, Albany, NY to name a few. In addition, Elizabeth has curated numerous exhibitions including a group exhibition at Rhode Island School of Design's Sol Koffler Gallery and Site Seeing: Explorations of Landscape at The Center for Photography at Woodstock. She earned her MFA in Photography from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2007. From 2007-2010, Elizabeth was the Education Coordinator at The Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) and is currently Adjunct Faculty of Photography at SUNY Ulster in Stone Ridge, NY and a freelance photographer. www.elizabethunterman.com Emily Chandler is a creative writing and music student at Western Washington University in Bellingham WA. Akemi Hiatt received her BA in Photography from New York University in May of 2009. Since October of 2009, Akemi has been the Program Associate at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, where she assists with CPW’s year-round program offerings, including exhibitions, artists workspace residencies, workshops, lectures, publication, fellowships, and artist opportunities, and more. She has served as a portfolio reviewer for on behalf of CPW at their New York City Portfolio Reviews, the International Center for Photography's Career Day, and the New England Portfolio Reviews. Recent curatorial projects include To Be Authentic: Photographs from the Center for Photography at Woodstock's Permanent Print Collection and Becoming Muses (co-curated with Lindsay Stern). www.akemihiatt.com William L. Alton started writing in the Eighties while incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital. Since then his work has appeared in The Oklahoma Review,
The Red River Review, Poet’s Corner and Whalelane among others. In 2010, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He earned both his BA and MFA in Writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where he continues to live. Graham Tugwell is a writer and performer of Irish distraction. The recipient of the College Green Literary Prize 2010, his work has appeared in over thirty journals, including Anobium, The Quotable, Pyrta, THIS Literary Magazine and L’Allure Des Mots. He has lived his whole life in the village where his stories take place. He loves it with a very special kind of hate. His website is www.grahamtugwell.com
* * * Acknowledgements * * *
There are so many individuals and businesses without whom Awosting Alchemy could not exist in this form. Thank you to David Friedman & Barner Books of New Paltz who have supported the project from Day 01. Thanks to The Yoga House and Crossroads Hydroponics & Organics. Thank you, talented & diverse band of contributors, for doing your art & word thing so well here in the Valley and around the globe. Aw/Al exists because you exist! And thank you again, dear reader, not only for beginning at page 01, but for reading through to the end. We hope you enjoyed your journey and will be back for our first anniversary issue in November 2011.
* * * Submission Guidelines * * * Thanks for choosing to send your work to Awosting Alchemy. Weâ€™re writers and artists too, dutifully sending our work out into the atmosphere with our fingers crossed. We truly appreciate what you do and your decision to include us in your efforts. Always check our website for updated submission guidelines & contests. Submit through Submishmash, our wonderfully easy and helpful submission manager. You may also feel free to contact us with any questions you have at AwostingAlchemy@hotmail.com. PLEASE: No submissions via email. Our response time is fairly swift. Expect to hear back from us within about a month. Thanks again. We look forward to your submissions. Send us things you had to write or create because they were nowhere else in the world, sharp and new and not yet worn out by others. Strive for a new set of fingerprints.
* * * * * * * Read: AwostingAlchemy.com Submit: AwostingAlchemy.submishmash.com/Submit Contact: AwostingAlchemy@hotmail.com Facebook: artist.to/awostingalchemy/
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Hudson Valley Words & Art September 2011