THE LITERATI QUARTERLY POETRY, FICTION, ART & MUSIC ISSUE NO. 3 | WINTER 2014
THE EDITORIAL COLLECTIVE
FOUNDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Joschua Beres ASSISTANT EDITOR / POETRY EDITOR Jonathan Hobratsch FICTION EDITOR Laura Cowan DIRECTOR OF ART ACQUISITIONS Ethan Ayce Ramirez ESSAY AND REVIEWS EDITOR Christopher Cadra
ÂŠ Copyright. The Literati Quarterly. The Literati Quarterly Press. September 2014. All rights reserved. The Literati Quarterly Press, an imprint of The Beres Publishing Group The Literati Quarterly P.O. Box 2504 San Marcos, TX 78667 http://www.literatiquarterly.co ISSN: 2373-1494 3
IN MEMORIAM ALVIN AUBERT (1930-2014) MADELINE GINS (1941-2014) AMIRI BARAKA (1934-2014) RENÉ RICARD (1946-2014) MAXINE KUMIN (1925-2014) BILL KNOTT (1940-2014) COLLEEN LOOKINGBILL (1950-2014) VERN RUSTALA (1934-2014) RUSSELL EDSON (1935-2014) HILLARY GRAVENDYK (1979-2014) MAYA ANGELOU (1928-2014) ALLEN GROSSMAN (1932-2014) DIANN BLAKLEY (1957-2014) RICHARD DAUENHAUER (1942-2014) CAROLYN KIZER (1925-2014) RON LOEWINSOHN (1937-2014) GALWAY KINNELL (1927-2014) MARK STRAND (1934-2014) CLAUDIA EMERSON (1957-2014) 4
CONTENTS DRAWING MYSELF by ALFRED CORN 09 73 AND 74 by KATHLEEN PEIRCE 10 RECIEPTLESS by DALLAS WOODBURN 12 INTERVIEW WITH THE DIRECTORS OF THE ASHBERY HOME SCHOOL presented by JONATHAN HOBRATSCH 15 THE MORNING OF THE SYLMAR by S.D. LISHAN 20 DEGRETS by ANSELM BERRIGAN 22 RE TO PRE TO DE by ANSELM BERRIGAN 21 PREGRETS by ANSELM BERRIGAN 22 DULCE by ERIC HOLLERBACH 26 MATHEA HARVEY’S IF TABLOIDS ARE TRUE WHAT ARE YOU? a review by CHRISTOPHER CADRA 34 WORLD SERIES, 2014 by MITCH SISSKIND 36 FORT BLISS, EL PASO, TEXAS, AUGUST 1951 by CHARLES COE 37 ANOTHER VISION OF PURGATORY by M.V. MONTGOMERY 38 HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE THE OPPOSITE OF QUIET? by JULEIGH HOWARD-HOBSON 45 TYLER JORDAN FROM THE GENTS an interview presented by JOSCHUA BERES 50 5
SONNET 28 by DON YORTY 54 36 AND 37 by KATHLEEN PEIRCE 56 FUNHOUSE by PHILIP KOBYLARZ 57 THE FIRST LIFE’S BLOOD by TIM KERLIN 60 EXCOMMUNICATION by SEYED MORTEZA HAMIDZADEH 61 THE FACILITY by SARAMANDA SWIGART 62 TO KATE by TIM KERLIN 70 02.02.2014 by MITCH SISSKIND 71 T.R. HUMMER’S SKANDALON a review by CHRISTOPHER CADRA 73 CURE by EMILY GLOSSNER JOHNSON 74 CLOCK IS TICKING by MITCH SISSKIND 77 INVITATION TO BREAKFAST by KEN POYNER 78 CHTHONIC SHIBBOLETH by PAUL ETHEREDGE 80 VISUAL ARTIST TOPHER SIPES an interview by ETHAN AYCE RAMIREZ 86 THE GREENING OF SPRING by SUZANNE C. COLE 90 CONTRIBUTORS LIST 93 6
THE LITERATI QUARTERLY POETRY, FICTION, ART & MUSIC
ISSUE NO. 2 | AUTUMN 2014
Image by Jinho Kim (2014)
Next come legs (or rather jeans) With faded ovals at the knee. Denim stretched tight over the thighs But wrinkled, bunched, around the crotch. Two views, front and back. Rounded Volumes are fun to render, and the crease. So could we say the lower half is done?
Neck done, a shiver overtakes me. Good God, the subject looks beheaded! Quick, attach a face right now, wrap It around a cranium. It should look Something like a likeness. No make-up, Just a thin black line around the eyes To lend the gaze a soulfulness. All right, I will cave in and omit Some frown lines and invent a warm Few that read as thoughtful. There. Anyone care to know how vain You are? Depict yourself. Even make You ugly, too, if drawn that way. It Would still be vain. It would still be yours. 9
by ALFRED CORN
The upper will require more thought. OK to make the waist slimmer, the chest Larger than life? Maybe draw one arm Akimbo, hand on hip. The other’s Doing the drawing, understand, And can’t be drawn, not yet. But shoulders In their checkered shirt can be roughed in.
A blank surround, an empty snowfield. Because I’m in it, but don’t appear, What’s needed’s a charcoal pencil. You want to draw, you’ve got to stand. So better begin with one foot, then The other—I mean shoes, not feet. Shoes imply them, concealed, but understood.
[section 73 and 74 of The Green Vault, a poem in 85 parts] by Kathleen Peirce 73. We were lost, and looking for the one we said was lost. We held ourselves against the body of a stream as though its surface wanted us. We floated there. We floated belly-down. We floated down. Our teacher told us to. We were astute regarding surfaces, but looking forward, out. Banks held the stream. Trees held the banks. The roots of cypresses exposed themselves as half-dry giant locks of hair. Why locks? Who hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seen a locket holding hair, or seen a face inside, in miniature, and felt enormous things? In time there was a shape ahead, a torso, waist-high in the water, bending over it the way a dancer would, a movement ending in a pose for looking at. And then we saw it was a tree. And then a flock of house wrens settled in, 74. the sweetness of their faces round and red, but gently red, unlike the cardinals, and absolutely sad. Behind us, splashing started up, splashing and laughter, laughing and splashter, and we knew the lost one had found us, and was a stranger to our mood. It was as though a blade was drawn across the stream, dividing mood from mood, an incontestable blade of glass, but dragged across the surface as a wing. 10
Abstract by Zeana Romanovna (2014)
by Dallas Woodburn
“Excuse me,” the man said, placing his elbows on the counter and leaning forward. “I need to make a return.”
The sales clerk, a teenager with feathered bangs and rings on every finger, took her time with the shirt she was folding. The man tapped his knuckles against the counter. His shirt had come untucked in the back and his hair stuck up on one side. The clerk finished folding the shirt and gave it a little pat. She looked up and met the man’s eyes. “What can I do for you?” she asked. “I need to make a return.” The man placed a plastic bag on the counter. “Do you have the receipt?” “Unfortunately, no.” The sales clerk reached into the bag and pulled out a human heart. Faded to the pink of overchewed gum, it was slightly shriveled, shrunken, like leather left out for weeks in the rain and sun. It beat softly in her hand, ka-thump, ka-thump. “It’s my girlfriend’s heart,” the man explained. “Well, ex-girlfriend.” The sales clerk frowned slightly. “Are you sure you got it here?” she asked. “I don’t remember carrying this in our store.” “It was a while ago,” the man said. “We were looking for a Christmas present for my mother. There were glass figurines where that perfume display is now.” He pointed to a case by the escalators. “I remember those figurines,” the sales clerk said. “That was when I first started working here.” “What happened was, she leaned forward to peer at those figurines, and her hair hung partly over her face – she has this gorgeous dark shiny hair like melted chocolate – ” The man rapped his knuckles against the counter, staring at the heart in the sales clerk’s hand. “I told her I loved her. And she gave me her heart, right then and there.” He ran his hand over his face. “I never thought I would have to return it. I didn’t think I needed a receipt.”
The sales clerk nodded and said, not unsympathetically, “No one ever thinks they’ll need a receipt.” The man’s face crumpled. The sales clerk busied herself with the computer. “What’s your last name?” she asked after a moment. “Weaver,” the man said. He wiped his face with his sleeve and took a deep, shaky breath. The sales clerk continued tapping computer keys. Her rings glistened in the bright store lighting. “Aha! Here we go,” she said. “Jeremy Weaver?” “Yes.” “And this transaction occurred ... December 16th, two years ago. You received the heart of Miss Samantha Concord.” The man’s chin wobbled. He clenched his jaw to steady it. “That is correct.” The sales clerk slid the heart back into the plastic bag and placed the plastic bag under the counter. “Would you like to make an exchange?” she asked. 12
“No – I mean, it’s much too soon for that,” the man said. “We just broke up last week.” “I can give you store credit,” the sales clerk offered. “Unless ... would it be possible for me to exchange it for my own heart back?” “Let me check,” the sales clerk said, turning back to the computer. She frowned. Tap, tap, tap. “I’m sorry,” she said after a minute. “It looks like Miss Concord has not returned the item yet.” “I figured as much – it’s only been a week, like I said.” “Would you like store credit then?” “Yeah, okay.” The sales clerk tapped the computer keys a few more times. She double-checked that the receipt printer had paper. Suddenly, she turned and touched the man’s hand on the counter. “Are you sure you want to do this?” she asked. “All returns are final.” “Yes, I’m sure.” The man pulled his hand away and scratched his nose. “She’s moving to France for an art fellowship. Long distance is too hard.” “Why don’t you go with her?” “To France?” “Yeah, if you love her so much. Why not?” “It’s not that simple. I’ve lived here for eight years, ever since college. My whole life is here.” The sales clerk brushed her bangs out of her eyes. They immediately fell back into place. “Besides,” the man continued, “I don’t speak French. Even if I wanted to go.” “You could learn. She could teach you. French isn’t that hard.” “So I uproot my life to be with her? And what if everything falls apart three months from now? What then?” “I don’t know. Come back here.” “A waste. It would be such a waste.” He swallowed hard. “Sam and I agreed this is the practical thing to do.” The sales clerk nodded. They were both quiet as the printer whirred. She ripped the receipt free and smiled as she handed it to him. “Have a nice day,” she said. The man folded the receipt twice and slid it carefully into his wallet. He turned to leave, but stopped after a couple steps. “Excuse me!” he said. The sales clerk looked up. “Will you call me when she returns my heart?” “Yes, of course.” “I’d just like to get it back,” the man said. “As soon as possible.” He knew when he had his own heart back, he would begin to heal. That was how it worked. You got your own heart back and gradually the hurt lessened, and at some point the receipt fell out of your wallet onto the city streets, lost among old movie tickets and gum wrappers. And then, just when your heart began to feel like yours again, you would find yourself in a department store at Christmastime with a beautiful girl, and you would swear to yourself that this time was different from all the times before, this girl was the one who would last. You would hold out the gift of your heart to her, grinning like a schoolboy, giddy with the exchange. And you wouldn’t get a receipt. Because you wouldn’t need it. Not this time. 13
John Ashbery (2014) by Jeffrey Cole
Jonathan Hobratsch Interviews The Directors of The Ashbery Home School Adam Fitzgerald is the author of The Late Parade and founding editor of the poetry journal Maggy. Dorothea Lasky is the author of the forthcoming book Rome and co-editor of Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry. Timothy Donnelly is the author of The Cloud Corporation and poetry editor of the Boston Review. All three poetry directors live and teach in New York City. JH: Who’s idea was the Ashbery Home School? AF: I like to think that the idea of the Ashbery Home School, a writing program where poets encounter the arts, really generates from a confluence and constellation of many influences. First, there’s John Ashbery’s own poetry, art criticism and many collaborations with poets and artists of all stripes. Second, there’s Ashbery’s Hudson house, a life-sized Joseph Cornell box that he has populated with personal collections (artworks, toys, furniture, much else), which serves as an echo chamber between poetic space and interior design. In this last respect, for the last several years, I’ve worked with David Kermani, Robert Polito, Tom Healy, Karin Roffman and Emily Skillings to document and present various ways of showcasing this unique treasure—from a New School graduate seminar, to a Chelsea gallery show, and now a digital ebook project forthcoming from Poetry Foundation. So you see, “Home School” is a sly homage not just to the somewhat recent American tradition of self-education, autodidacticism, homeschooling, etc., but also a tribute to a very literal and physical space one poet has created through the form of rooms and objects, the careful arrangements and uncanny juxtapositions therein. AHS didn’t become a reality, however, until after I visited Dorothea Lasky in Florence in the summer in 2013, where she directs a summer program for writers at La Pietra, a 15th-century villa filled with priceless artworks and heirlooms. I saw Dorothea was teaching poetry not with or around the objects the students were surrounded by daily, but through them, a dynamic, synergizing approach to poetry grounded in object-based creativity. When I told her about John’s house, and the work I had been doing, the idea just clicked for us, and the Ashbery Home School as an idea was really born. Shortly after that, we approached Timothy Donnelly, a great poet and dear friend, but also someone I had personally known to be a riveting workshop teacher, dedicated very much to the craft and mental making and deliberate handiwork of poetry. Together, we were able to bring together various other guests and visitors, some of whom I’ve already mentioned above: Robert Polito, the former director of the New School graduate program (where he started “AshLab” for its five, marvelous semesters) and current Poetry Foundation president, Tom Healy, who co-taught with me AshLab and is now editing with Karin Roffman (JA’s official biographer!) a digital ebook that will document the house for Poetry Foundation; and many, many others. Last summer, some of our visitors included poets Tracy K. Smith, Mary Jo Bang, Dara Wier, and artists Kiki Smith, Archie Rand, 15
Mark So, Aki Sasamoto. At its core, AHS involves a week in Hudson of daily workshopping, artist talks and related interactive events, a tour of the Hudson house, as well as readings by poets whom we believe extend from this interdisciplinary, arts-driven spirit. That’s the way the idea was conceived and how we’ve tried to form a program around it. JH: Is there a precedence for a poet home school? For instance, the Sons of Ben, or the André Breton and Philippe Soupault collaboration, which culminated in Les Champs Magnétique (The Magnetic Fields), or any other coming together of great minds? Would you say AHS is an independent and unique creation? DL: I do think that AHS is an independent and unique creation because it synthesizes the idea of a school just for poets, along with theories that object-based learning is an ideal curricular setting for poetry writing. As Adam mentioned, part of the precedence and inspiration for Home School involved some of my work at NYU’s Villa La Pietra in Florence, an original domestic space and now part-museum, part educational space where the Acton family housed precious art objects alongside their everyday collections to make their own vignettes that were used by them (and now countless others) to inspire great thought and art making. AHS also draws its theoretical focus from places like The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, where Isabella Stewart Gardner and Albert C. Barnes (with much counsel from John Dewey), respectively, organized art objects to provoke creativity and animate their own work and the work of others. What is characteristic of all of these spaces is that they resist the focus that traditional museums emphasize to organize art objects historically and instead use aesthetic means to group together these items. Like them, The John Ashbery House in Hudson resists historical or theoretical organization and instead has been organized by John Ashbery and David Kermani to represent deeper and longstanding connections. I do believe that scholars like the ones Adam mentioned have just begun to see how Ashbery’s poems can be directly linked to the ways in which items have been organized in his home. It is the hope at the Ashbery Home School that we might spark connections between objects and poetry and also help students resist the ways in which poetry can be grouped historically or by movement in traditional educational spaces. We want to enliven our students to have new ways of seeing poems free of these binding constructs. Of course, object-based learning is just part of the mission of the school. AHS is meant to first and foremost support an interdisciplinary space just for poets to think about poetry, talk about poetry, and create poetry, because of the belief that just creating such a place is part and parcel to lay the foundation for the breeding ground of great new ideas and poems. I think that setting up such a space systematically, as we have, is noteworthy and has not done before so formally for a good long while. For all of these reasons, AHS is overdue and necessary, in my opinion. JH: Can you give our readers any specific examples of an activity from last year’s AHS? TD: One activity we undertook in my workshop was collage making. I had missed out on the conversations about object-based learning, which I regret and hope to make up for one day, but I had recently made an Egypt-themed collage with my (then) eight-year-old daughter as a part of her third-grade social studies project (parental assistance was encouraged!) and having loved every minute of it, I thought it might 16
be a good idea to experiment with collaging in workshop. I contacted my students some weeks in advance and encouraged them to start gathering materials: pages from old magazines, postcards, color-printer photos, odd documents, mementos, fabrics, abandoned books, decorative papers, trinkets—anything and everything that spoke to them. I brought the glue, a few pairs of scissors, and a lot of additional materials (fancy blue glitter and redand-white chevron wrapping paper, a periodic table, etc.) as well as a large piece of foamcore for everyone in the class. We spent a couple of hours one day and an hour or so the next selecting from all the stuff we had assembled, arranging it on our surfaces, making chance combinations, moving it all around guided primarily by eye and whim and hand rather than by plan, watching new significances reveal themselves, reverse themselves, etc. People were encouraged to
exchange materials and let the unexpected in.
After they were done, if they wanted to write a poem or a sequence of poems in direct conversation with what they made, or with their experience of making it, that would be great, but I also thought the collages might serve as “inspiration boards” in a less fixed sense. More than anything I wanted this more physical kind of composition to activate muscles other than those they might have been accustomed to using as writers—and then to bring something of this other way of making, and of the knowing of these other muscles, into the creation of new poems. We had looked at a number of Ashbery’s collages online beforehand and spent part of one class appreciating what people had done (all of which was truly eye-opening and amazing) and offering ideas about what they might do next. For this coming year, I have a few ideas about how to make the experience even better, including specific reading and writing assignments, and also a better sense of how much time it actually takes to do this! And this year I’ll be sure to bring some music. JH: Where did you make John sleep when you commandeered his house? TD: John took a room in the Old Log Inn, I think. Actually, although the students were invited to take tours of the house, all workshops and events were held a few blocks away at Time & Space Limited, an amazing community arts center run by Linda Mussman and Claudia Bruce and staffed by the kindest people imaginable. Students and faculty who needed lodging found it among the area’s many charming and affordable B&B’s, small hotels and short-term rental properties. JH: Will AHS be something that poets can look forward to every year? If so, how do you hope the program will develop in 5 or 10 years? DL: We do plan on doing AHS every year for sure, as we were so excited by the overwhelming interest that people had last year to engage in this adventure with us and we hope that the excitement will grow year after year. We hope to continue to improve our curriculum and the amount of visiting poets and artists that we involve each year and that we are able to respond to the feedback we receive from students to change in important ways. And as we grow, my dream is to grow the vision of the school past just a school for poets 17
and beyond to also become a laboratory for poet-teachers (in all fields and age groups) to think about ways in which to bring poetry into their classrooms. If I could take a time machine into the ideal future of 10 years from now, AHS would do all of the things it already does but better and it also would produce its own set of curricula and have its own, fully-functioning professional development program. JH: Has AHS influenced your own writing? If so, how? AF: I do think AHS has influenced our writing, but I don’t think our program is really a cause/effect structure in which we outline some kind of instruction manual and then ask ourselves or students to erect poems. Rather, I think AHS’s strategy on engaging the arts is something of a zeitgeist phenomenon, and our program is meant to be a fertile setting to cultivate, challenge and rethink what many poets, young and already along their path, are already doing. For instance, in Tim’s work, there is a great rhythmic and cinematic pacing. Analogous to his poems, many people often set the tercets of Wallace Stevens and Romantic questers. But, if I may be so bold, I know of Tim’s love of A Tribe Called Quest and 70’s R&B, Kubrick and Hitchcock, are so important to the way his poems construct suspension: that is, a sense of breathlessness, a “contour for wonder” as he calls it, as well as quite literally suspense. His favorite films are The Shining, Mulholland Drive, Vertigo — and why shouldn’t we as poets engage those resources more knowingly, as teachers and practicers of line, phrase and spacing? Film in its editing is the most poetic of species. Or take Dottie’s work, which is often set in a context of Plath and Catullus. Again, this is a wise and knowing lineage for her work’s use of the vernacular, the vulgar, the wildly vituperative. But again, I know Dottie’s love of Drake and Biggie and Nicki Minaj inform her practice just as viscerally, importantly. And so part of what we advocate here is for a smart leveling of culture, where the more traditional literary modes of learning are complicated rather than supplanted by the extravagance of contemporary mediums a poet is exposed to and takes support from. As I’ve said many times, the classical notion of Ekphrasis has to be reevaluated, it’s not just poems describing paintings. And poets, like John Ashbery, have been doing that for a good long time! We don’t just want to describe art in poetry, we want to enact it, be animated by it, steal its spirit, channel its aesthetic configurations, burrow, exploit, patch a quilt from many places. Contemporary art is large and wide with its possibilities and permissions. Poetry is just starting to catch up. And culture, in a wider sense, not just “fine art” or “popular entertainment,” is where poets are consuming and inventing. When you go to a poetry reading today, you’re not just seeing the 60’s folk singers of our day, our version of singer-songwriters. You’re also witnessing our culture critics, artists who have inherited from the blend of theory and mass consumption. The Ashbery Home School welcomes this profligacy, this generous porousness of borders and genres. Poetry isn’t just the result of being open and creative, it’s the mental activity itself. Amen!
The Ashbery Home School of Hudson, NY is a one-week writers’ conference and retreat which will be held August 9th to 14th, 2015. Visit their website to apply by the Feb 1st 2015 deadline: http://ashberyhomeschool.org/ 18
Street Cross , photo by Natirips Nair-Dak 19
The Morning of the Sylmar Quake by S.D. Lishan
My father died just after 6:00, on the morning of February 9th, 1971. Or rather, my father is dying. I seem to be murmuring this in near sleep, as my father and I ride on the backs of fireflies into the darkness of the trees, entering the woods beyond the ravine behind our house where we lived in Ohio. We seem more souls than bodies now. They, our bodies that is, seem to have been left behind, suspended like pairs of long johns hanging on a clothesline. Of course I know this is impossible. For one, we live in California now, in the San Fernando Valley, and the present is here, at 6:00 in the morning on February 9th, 1971. It is Tuesday morning, or was, and it is hot, even now at 6:00. My window is open, and I can feel the air lying heavy and still on its bed of heat. 20
I was dozing, wandering in those moments between waking and sleeping, sweating in my bed. For me, a kid from Ohio, such heat in February seems unnerving and a bit frightening. My father opened my bedroom door. It was a sudden gesture, a thrusting open. I remember the door banging against the door stopper. These moments, I know, lie in the past now. My father staggered to my bed, his faced bleached of color, his hand held to his chest. He stared wide-eyed at me. “Waldo! Waldo! Wake up!” he shouted. This moment, too, lies in the past. And then I woke to rattling and shaking and a clamor that sounded like a freight train rumbling past my ear. These moments lie in the past, too. I thought my father might actually be dying, here, now, right in front of my eyes, even as, stricken as he was, he climbed onto my bed and lay his body on top of me, and I could feel his heart beating against mine, thumping like a Ginger Baker drum solo, until its last explosive rumble. But here is where it gets complicated. There seemed to be a pause in this moment of my father’s death, or, I should say, in what I think of as his death. There is a pause. It occurs in the moment, I think, between the last diastolic and the last systolic beats of my father’s heart, an opening in that last lub-dub, where the hyphen is: Lub…, and this is where we are now, in this moment, this millisecond that has opened up, like a chasm forming in an earthquake, and we have leapt into it, together, my father and I, holding hands. Time has stopped. Time has paused. Time has gestured us closer. “Look inside this moment,” it said. “There are infinities of tinier moments, and infinities of tinier moments still.” Time winked at us. “But even infinity has its limits.” Time’s voice sounded like it was speaking from deep in a well, like a shushing of waves rustling ashore when you hold a shell to your ear. For a few moments, gone now, I thought of the Beatles song, “All you need is love,” playing it in my head, except I substituted “All you need is time,” instead. “But will there be time for more?” I asked when the song was over. Time shook its head and laughed. It was a soft laugh, a kindly laugh. “No.” I looked at my father. His face looked drawn out, his saggy eyes sad and glistening. He said nothing. “But I never want the time with my father to end,” I said. Time cocked his head. I could feel it peering closely at me. It looked very much like my father. “But you will. You will, in time,” it said, and we kept on falling through that chasm, my father and I, together. I must have been lost in thought, unaware of my surroundings, because the chasm has ended. We have fallen out of it. It is a sticky June evening, and we are riding on the backs of fireflies, more souls than bodies now, my father and I, together, into this pause that has lengthened out and is lengthening still, as we ride fireflies into the darkness of the trees, entering the woods beyond the ravine behind our house, where we lived, once upon a time, in Ohio… 21
DEGRETS by Anselm Berrigan splatter’s a Picasso at hitting into double plays an angry sub-centimeter, lesion sound dictates a letter, limited time offer insta-cocoons into bloom luxuries, sporty in parents, first came the archive, then this next one I wrote tomorrow sling-enabled, on a to-scale map of our local galaxy cluster, but the drone’s orbit misdelivered its astral package, sorrow’s bleed-space queered the nudge, the unopened toy sewing machine went out for surgery, brief company colored in how to feel, the regular season cuddled in detached corners, the blurb borrowed a fin the dunghill bummed a mouth breather, the multiple pantsed the tranquilizer, the I-left-myshell-collection-scattered-by-prescription-torearrange-purple-plastic-bowls-of-birthwater-fordolls wintered on, fruit flies landing in rashy spines, unavailable’s gonna have to leave a message, all items loaded, skeletons snoozed on mantle, little blue ribbed fuzz mammoth enters the about part of the combine, eats it, sharing the shuffle, not the potty, unassailable’s gonna hasten to leave a menace, all refusals in box in bed, in the screen capture inflected by read
RE TO PRE TO DE by Anselm Berrigan plastic exspectating spreads out as film, to be being read in & by & for boxes, who gets to play fatigue & fatigues, every someone getting shot making openings, who times their delivery ahead of time, we’ve got a lot of bad habits ready for production, who isolates your rage when you need it as host, changing light on command from a stroller, every ‘every’ inventing a badge how will you get all cops out of your mind without deposing your juice, art of the empty threat, its ongoing practice, raising kids vs. custom of mowing down darker bodies, keep passing on a rigged game, who really wants you to be persuasive, to have that intangible step bathing in taxidermied analysis, on sight of death stirred to distention, disaction, transparent distortion, little launches for blazing complaints to comply with, posing as addressee, setting out wearing spirit-import facepaint of skull-flat solemnity, traveling in the banter of minor recognition, squared by guilt, howling in outrage at misassigned winnings, choosing ticks of violence to abhor & embrace, ignore & obey, colorize & fuck, calmly at distances from calmly on fire walking any blood-drenched rhetorical daze to schoolishness, a real private-like real, a button pusher’s peace made into weaponized reproach
PREGRETS by Anselm Berrigan your line drawing is the purest & most direct translation of my emotion, when I can’t see it can’t see the cheap lapdog freedom of the slight drainy blue coming through Tompkins’ trees (those anti-curfew elms!), mutant delusions a less rigorous medium than pure line, stretch (sag), stretch (bag), kick (repeat), hey look, a trashcan on wheels working for the city, a blue suffused with anxious frigid white, flicked angels heavy metal on a cruise, the puckered pronoun’s dressed sky, marble lust compulsion simmering: to be nostalgic for fear-tremulous fast walking (squirrel drops by, offers assistance, turns down request to help pregret), all the little between spaces, words made into oil, flesh, water lilies ducked out odalisque backs biting elongated suspense panel time to unpack ass from bench the lamppost continues to stick itself together for a sub-molecular glance all greedy smokes making hands conduct air, exasperated text brings missed boat, the commute betrays the worker again, zebra-striped hearse in 2-D leather jacket, on scaffolding premises, big decorative anti-work, white paint maply shaped onto green van waving itself along, cheating
James Bay Crossing (2014) by John D. Godfrey
D U L C E
I seemed to be lowered faster and faster. Light wafted up my body from stationary LED tube lights mounted to the sides of the smooth concrete walls. I felt as though they were scanning my memories. Perhaps they were. I still had sweat on my palm from shaking the hand of the Provost as he handed me my degree, when I was approached. Sunglasses, suit, no smile. I was ushered behind a white pillar of the Columbia University ceremonial hall. “We’re big admirers of your work, Dr. Wessell,” he said, “You might not remember me, but I facilitated your Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship.” “Dr. White?” I remembered. A name made flesh from some life-changing paperwork. “That’s right,” Dr. White swirled a glass of white wine that he hadn’t yet siped. “So you were able to clone goldfish, replicating every cell of the embryo manually? What was the exact methodology? You hinted it was a mechanical process, but left the finer details off of your research paper.” “I’m terribly sorry, can I see some identification?” I didn’t want to be rude, but what he was asking from me was very dangerous. The implications of my own work made me nervous. “Sure,” Dr. White put his cup down on the incline of a water fountain, next to the drain. He produced satisfactory paperwork. “I admire a man who doesn’t take chances. That’s very important in our field.” The lights quickened their pace with my heartbeat as the elevator picked up speed. I was descending into hell.
I saw it on radar. I was the nuclear engineer of an aircraft carrier hauling drones and stealth bombers to the Middle East on bombing missions. That’s when I got the wire from the radar room and I ran up the narrow metal stairs. Eric Hollerbach We sure didn’t make it, and I was familiar enough to know our current aeronautical capabilities. Three spherical balls rapidly orbited a stealth triangular disc moving at an impossible speed, while making impossible maneuvers in broad daylight. It was being trailed by two of our Grumman B-2s. The ocean opened up as the craft made a splashless descent beneath the dark blue sea. A moment later one of our Grumman’s made contact with the water, a billion dollar machine turned into a penny in an instant. The other B-2 survived, but I heard the pilot was killed two years later, after speaking out on the internet. I kept my mouth shut out of fear, embarrassment, and direct threats. My mind was boiled in a flashing white light. We stationed in Germany. My friend Paul and I strutted down the quaint streets of Darmstadt. We found a small tudor-style pub and settled in. “Zwei bier bitter,” I said, ordering us drinks with an obnoxious American accent. “Look, Paul, I don’t know what the fuck I’m going to do.” “You can do anything, man, we got the G.I. Bill. Where do you want to go to school?” “It doesn’t bother you? Trading murders in some shitty country for free tuition?” “Fuck yeah, it bothers me.” Paul said, looking down. “But all you can do is make the most of it.” We sat in silence until two half-liter steins hit the table. All I could think about were the high-fives I witnessed in the control room. Celebrations of murder, for a corporate oil grab. HD drone footage of civilian skulls that popped off like cham26
pagne corks. It made me sick. The whole premise made me sick. The internal combustion engine was invented in 1816. The same year as the typewriter. We’d seen the typewriter evolve into personal computers, then to smart phones. Its processing power has doubled in speed every 18 months. Why hasn’t the gasoline engine made the same advances? Why were we still boiling the fermented brains of dinosaurs to haul us around? There is a giant cognitive dissonance in most of my naval mates. Their stupidity, or brainwashing manifested in delusional high-fives, and a shower of, hoots. I couldn’t talk about these things with anyone on the ship. Anyone but Paul. Even though it depressed him terribly. “Sure, I was just making sure the boat had electricity to run. Even though I was just lookin’ at valves and tightening bolts, I knew everyday that I was contributing to a death machine.” As I said this, I felt that my soul’s fate has been sealed. Unlike most of my comrades, I was fully aware of my complicity in genocide, but I chose tuition anyway. Paul dribbled some of his beer onto his shirt. “Fuck, dude. Look around! We’re in Germany. We’re out.” “I just want to help people now,” I said. “So, what? You want to be a doctor?” “I guess so.” Two months later, I enrolled in Pre-Med at the U.S. Naval Academy. Four years after that it was Columbia University where my best intentions of helping the sick evolved inorganically into genetic cloning research. All thanks to a shockingly generous donation from the Rockefeller family. I didn’t even know I had applied, or I was eligible. But, it was enough to funnel something to my parents struggling in Ohio. The flow of my fate had been altered by a hidden hand. I’m not sure when it happened. Maybe when I saw the craft, and kept my mouth shut. Maybe when I excelled past my peers at the Naval Academy. Maybe a professor at Columbia. I’ll never know. But somewhere, I said something that opened a trap door. The flashes slowed and I felt weightless then heavy as the elevator decelerated smoothly. Bing. The doors opened. Dr. White pointed forward down the stainless steel hallway. I walked forward, as Dr. White hurried back into the elevator. I looked back just in time to see the doors consume his silhouette. I came to double doors at the end of a long hallway and pushed them open. There General Hadley was waiting for me. He was a serious looking man in his fifties wearing full Army General regalia. The jagged rock of a cave wall was framed by sleek steel and white lights behind him. I held my hand to my eye as a gold coin on his chest reflected harshly. “Dr. Sean Wessell, have a seat,” General Hadley reclined into his chair while pointing to the seat in front of his desk all the while. “Can someone tell me what this mission is?” I asked. “You’re about a week away from that. We’re finishing our interviews with your friends and family. You’ll be chipped on Tuesday, followed by extensive blood work and scans that I’m not even going to get into.” “A chip?” “Just an ID chip,” he said, dismissively. “So why am I here, General Hadley?” General Hadley reached into a drawer and picked up a four-pound stack of paperwork. “Am I going to sit here and read all this?” “You’re not cleared to read any of it. Just sign the top.” 27
“What am I signing?” “Your life.” “Can I say no?” “I wouldn’t recommend it.” General Hadley raised his eyebrows. “I’m afraid the last person that didn’t sign swallowed his tongue in a restaurant he frequented. Something must’ve gone down the wrong pipe.” My arms went cold. I’d been talked to like this before on the USS Ronald Reagan. “What do I get?” “Answers,” General Hadley leaned in, “Answers to questions unimaginable. Answers to questions you’ve always had in the pit of your stomach as both a civilian and a scientist. We’ve five miles below ground right now Dr. Wessell. This is where the true levels of man’s full knowledge reside. Here, and lower.” I wanted to know what he knew. I signed. General Hadley reclined and rubbed his belly. “You made the right choice, kid. Now stand up.” General Hadley stood up with me. “I want you to do what I do, and repeat after me.” General Hadley stood with his right palm facing the ceiling and his left palm at his hip facing the ground, “I shall enter into sacred and binding vows.” I parroted his words, and felt a grave dark entity crawled into my body as I made my way through the vow. General Hadley smoothly wafted his left hand across his stomach. “May my entrails be laid bare. May my worthless, profane corpse boil and rot in a thousand suns. May every bird of prey feast on my eyes and tear at my flesh.” General Hadley swept his left hand across his throat. ”May my worthless head be removed if I dare speak a harsh word, or honest word, or any word of The Order.” ”Fuck! What is this oath about?!” I howled, breaking the stride of say-and-repeat. General Hadley’s pupils fully engorged his eyeballs in a flash of anger. The hair stood on my neck. My stomach inverted. My entrails twitched in fear of being laid bare. I finished the oath, terrified, knowing then that I would never have a chance at a normal life. General Hadley pointed the way to a train station, I took another elevator down. Now, I was about ten miles underground. I stood on a metal train station platform surrounded by cold wet rocks. A vacuum-sealed glass tube hissed open, as did the train door inside. General Hadley and I walked in, and sat down. The train door closed, then the tube door. I was too scared to speak, taking in the implications of what I was witnessing. A secret economy. An economy unhinged by the politics of profit. A digital display showed it would take 10 minutes to go from Midtown Manhattan to Dulce, New Mexico. Horizontal lights melted together with the absurd speed of the vacuum train. Little did I know, at that moment, my poor parents being tortured in an interrogation lasting hours. They would never remember. Professionals would leave the house, as clear as their minds. The train moved on its own, no conductor needed. A map hung on the wall. Tracks, miles under the ground, connected the whole world. Rival nations shared in its secrecy. General Hadley pointed me off the train, and I lazily walked down a hallway as he shot off again, back to New York. I 28
walked dreamily until a voice in a labcoat called my name, “Dr. Wessell, come with me.” “Who are you?” I said to the man, looking around 65. “I’m Dr. Kettering. I know all about your work. I’m the one who selected you. Of course you believe that you broke new ground scientifically. But actually, we’ve been cloning much more complex organisms since the 50’s. But your methodology is what’s fascinating to us.” “Really?” I mumbled, exasperated from the onslaught of paradigm-shifting information. Dr. Kettering smiled. “Lets get you into surgery, follow me.” Dr. Kettering met my confusion with a very measured amount of patience. “I just need to give you a GPS and ID implant, and catch you up to speed. Hypnosis is the fastest way to do that. This base has been around for a very long time Dr. Wessell. This is where the Dracos lived when they spliced their DNA with the apes of earth, and made us. The Dracos made humans, Dr. Wessell. Dulce has a very long history of genetic research. You’re about to be a part of that tradition. You’re about to know the true secrets behind every religion. And if you’re smart enough, and loyal enough, when your body breaks down... we can give you another. But first, I just need to give you a chip. And prepare you for a download. We don’t like taking chances here, Dr. Wessell.” With that I walked, disturbed, into an Operating Room. Under orders, I stripped down, and laid on the table. I spent the next week or month in and out of surgery and programming. I only have flashes of moments of unimaginable pain and pleasure. I remember being wheeled down a long hallway between surgeries. The fixed lights overhead whizzed by as I noticed a new scar on my forearm. A Being to my right had a profile shadow that I couldn’t identify as human. I stared long enough for it to notice. It waved its hand. The next moment my body was inverted, face down. I was suddenly screaming into the gurney’s thin pillow. Dr. Kettering was tapping my knees with a small rubber hammer. My reflexes were back before I was conscious. “Dr. Wessell, can you stand for me?” I felt as though I had a hangover. My mind was swirling with an inserted knowledge taking shape in my conscious mind for the first time. I wanted to cry from the cruelty. It was like the hollow apparitions of a nightmare that you remember fully. Only I knew it was all real. “How did we betray our species like this?” I said sobbing myself to full consciousness. “This can’t be worth it.” Dr. Kettering was staring at me. “All those people?” “Isn’t this work the logical conclusion of what you started?” “That was goldfish,” I yelped. “You don’t really have a choice anymore, Dr. Wessell. I chose long ago to be fascinated instead of furious. Let me show you what this looks like in operation. Put these on.” Dr. Kettering pointed to scrubs and a labcoat. A duplicate of what he was wearing. He helped me into the clothes, and affixed an ID to my breast. A glossy laminated card contained my photograph, my name, and bold red letters diagonally over it all: Property of the Rand Corporation. “Don’t stare at the Dracos. They look at humans like cattle. But, they’ll maintain respect for us if we treat them as our superiors. Which they are. They can read your thoughts. They can control matter with their minds. Sean, if you cooperate with them, they’ll teach you both science and magic.” Dr. Kettering said, looking straight into my eyes. Then he pointed to a region just between my eyes. “Plus they have a habit of draining the pituitary glands of doctors 29
who cross them. Our hormones are like cocaine to them.” I nodded, then felt a rush of nausea as his words matched a knowledge implanted. The clash of these worlds made me drop to my knees. I puked on the cold tile floor. “And my family?” I finally mentioned, wiping bile with my sleeve. “Your parents think you were killed in a robbery outside Columbia. In a week they’ll win the Ohio State Lottery.” “They don’t play the lottery.” “They will this week,” Dr. Kettering paused, “Lets go.” I walked with him down the endless hallways of Dulce. Until we came to a large dark hall. Beakers, four meters tall, lined the walls in neat rows. They all showcased large illuminated embryos of different creatures. Some human. Some alien. Some hybrids. All encased in embryonic sacs with an umbilical cord descending from the top, running to the bellies of each soulless being. We descended a level of stairs. Humans and Dracos worked side by side, monitoring experiments large and small. We came to another floor with a group of larger beakers. Hundreds of small cloned creatures grew together in the same wide glass womb. All illuminated with a blue-green fluorescent glow. They dangled by their umbilical cords, like a team of descending paratroopers, which bunched at the top like exposed entrails. I read the latin plaque beneath them, Lepus et Humana. Rabbit Humans. The sight confirmed the plaque. Most of the species looked viable. Two were dead at the bottom of the beaker. As I looked back up, one began twitching its death throes as it molted prematurely from its sac. It’s backward facing knees kicked with long hairless legs as the long-eared fetus suffocated in the warm solution. I shuddered. Furious but fascinated. I walked a few steps to inspect another glass womb with hundreds of cloned twins. Ranam et Humana. Frog Humans. “Come with me.” Dr. Kettering insisted, hustling me along. I didn’t even notice the tears on my cheeks, until they were met with the static air of our forward momentum. They felt cool, and I wiped them away. When Dr. Kettering got me in another private stairwell he took me aside. I looked around at the glossy-red tiles for answers to my moral upheaval. “I’m going to show you everything quickly today, and then you will be assessed by a Draco. You’ll be in grave danger if you don’t compartmentalize. You’re a trained scientist. One of the cleverest and hardest working ones we’ve brought to Dulce in at least eighteen months. But you will be killed if you emote too much. There have been scientist revolts in the past, and the Dracos are weary of those with too much... empathy. They’re intimidated by the human ability to sympathize. It’s an emotional program that they didn’t fold into our DNA, and it confuses them. It intimidates them. It must have been inate in the apes they spliced us with.” Dr. Kettering fixed his glasses, then moved in to whisper in my ear. “Others say that empathy comes from another race of aliens who broadcast it to us as they orbit our world. Like radio waves.” He said, raising his eyebrows. “And they watch us from afar like gods, to see what we’ll do.” Dr. Kettering leaned back away. “They broadcast inspiration to the artists, hope to the people, and love to wicked. But never too much.” “Another race? How many are there?” I asked. “These are only rumors that I can’t speak to you again. But, listen, you and I are only loyal to the Dracos. And, after six months of being underground, you’ll lose your empathy. Trust me. I was like you, when I first came here.” 30
Dr. Kettering suddenly looked at me with fully black eyes. “This place will change you. But, after a year you’ll forget what love feels like. After two years, you’ll be wiser than every known medical doctor or scientist on the surface. After ten years...” With that, Dr. Kettering waved a hand over my badge. My badge clung to his hand like a magnet. “...you’ll be a God like them.” He then motioned me to follow him. I felt dissociated, like I was watching my body descend the stairs from far away. “What’s on this floor?” I asked as we conspicuously skipped a level. “Draco quarters. We don’t go here.” We started to descend past level five, as a Draco popped the double doors open. I averted my eyes when I could make out the scales in his face. Dr. Kettering moved me along. I didn’t want to give it time to scan my thoughts. We continued to descend to the 6th floor and came to a wing labeled: Tantibus Conciliabulum. Nightmare Hall. We came across a row of cages past metal doors. The ground was lined with hay, like the saddest zoo you could ever visit. I could feel the maddening desperation in the eyes of each creature in each cage. The frustration, of powerful and intelligent animals unable to play, learn, or exercise rendered the air a thick dark soup. A tall Human-Kangaroo met my eyes with all the understanding and fear of an abused four year old girl. A Human-Elephant was loudly crying, begging me to feel its pain clear enough to help it escape. A Human-Frog hopped with a desperate repetition. Its feet slapping the tile floor, like a dog begging you to adopt it before it’s killed at the pound. I ran. I’d never felt so powerfully challenged by the cold pursuit of science in all my life. “Sean! No!” I heard Dr. Kettering yell. That’s when I saw another wing labeled. Humana Cibum. Human Food. I burst through the doors and found rows of cages storing humans. A pile of corpses were laid in the corner with grape-sized holes missing from between their eyes. That’s when I saw Paul. “Sean? Sean Wessell?” He said, drunk from shock. “Get me out of here, man! It’s me Paul, from the Navy!” “Paul. Paul? I don’t have the key. Where is it?” I could see Dr. Kettering looking at me from the window of the double-doors. He backed away, scared. I ran around, looking for the key. Human arms grabbed for me. Yelling for my help in many languages. There were women, and children. About six uniformed army personnel from different countries. And a Dulce scientist, who must have crossed the Dracos like me. The smell in the air was horrible. No consideration was made for excrement. These people, clearly didn’t have much time. “They got me, man! I was camping with my family, Sean. I just remember these lights in the sky.” Paul pleaded. “They already killed them! One of them ate Kara in front of me!” Sean fell to his knees, sobbing in a memory. “They’re fucking monsters, man! Help me kill them!” 31
I ran to the Dulce worker. Still in his labcoat, identical to mine. “Where’s the key, man?! You! Where’s the fucking key?!” He started laughing. Not jumping up to help. “There is no key.” He said, with blood-stained teeth. “What?” I shouted over the yelps of the pleading prisoners. “They open the cage doors with their minds.” He said, finally jumping forward, putting his face to the bars. “You only have one chance. Get out of here now, and join them.” “No!” I screamed. Every cell of my being was revolting. I was going to help these people, and go from there. Two Dracos ran in. My body was bound by the air around me, and I was hoisted. My legs dangled, I kicked hopelessly. One of the Dracos wielded a steel straw drawn from his pocket. It was chrome with a razor-sharp blade at the end. He thrust it into my forehead, and snorted the hormones from my pituitary gland. His eyes rolled back in ecstasy. I raced toward a white light, at the end of a long tunnel.
Nothing For Me Here (2014) by John D. Godfrey
On Matthea Harvey’s If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? a review by Christopher Cadra
“A little light, like a rushlight / to lead back to splendour.” The words are Pound’s, but I’m ripping them from context to describe my initial reaction to Matthea Harvey’s fantastic If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? The work does not remind me of Pound, or The Cantos, for that matter, but while reading Harvey’s work, I felt I was lead back to a certain splendor I haven’t experienced while reading poetry in some time, thus the cribbing of Pound. The book features an extensive amount of art along with the poetry, and the book at once feels playful, odd, sincere, heavy and light. It begins with a sequence of prose poems about mermaids (“The Straightforward Mermaid,” “The Homemade Mermaid,” etc.) with the poems on the right pages and silhouettes of mermaids on the left pages. Once the mermaid sequence is complete, Harvey moves on to something completely different. The next poem, “M for Martians,” is an erasure poem (a found poem created by erasing words from a text), which, in this case, could also be referred to as a “whiteout poem.” It’s a facsimile of pages from a short story, “R is for Rocket” by Ray Bradbury, the words of which have been for the most part blotted out using whiteout. While the technique used is certainly related to the cut-up technique (made famous by Burroughs), it’s unique in that instead of being cut-up and/or rearranged, words are simply erased, with the leftover words (in this case, less than 10% of the original text) making up the text of the poem; here, an interesting, entertaining poem, to say the least. Following this is what I’d like to call “the animal sequence,” which is a series of poems beginning with “My Zebra Son,” and finishing with a poem titled “The Moral Animals.” After that, there is a sequence titled “Inside The Glass Factory,” which features a unique mix of photography and poetry. There is also a sequence titled “Stay,” which features a series of poetry-less pages of odd but endearing photographs of figurines and tiny toy chairs stuck inside ice cubes. This enticing and agile book of poetry features a full set of striking visual art, drawings and photographs. Thus, the book ceases to be, for me, simply a book of poetry, and is rather a work of art. The final sequence of poems features the Italian inventor Antonio Meucci, a handful of “mermaid choruses,” and more art that is worthy of standing with the rest of it. The final word of the final poem is, “Curtain,” which is perfect for a book of poems that is, again, so much more than simply a book of poems. William Faulkner had hoped to publish The Sound and the Fury using different colored inks to represent the different time periods throughout the book. Simple enough. Unfortunately, the publishing world was a bit behind Faulkner and his ideas. In If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? Harvey takes giant leaps (far beyond using different colored inks) in all directions, taking advantage of everything publishing nowadays has to offer, from different font-types, to drawings, to pictures, to facsimiles, to the poems themselves. The book feels less like an experiment and more like successful alchemy. *** Born in Germany, raised in England and Milwaukee; educated at Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop; currently residing in Brooklyn and teaching at Sarah Lawrence College, Harvey is a recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Harvey’s poetry has been featured in The Awl, The New Yorker, Poetry, et al. Her If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? is her fourth collection of poetry. 34
by Mitch Sisskind
WORLD SERIES, 2014
Every last inning is sad when one thinks How games, in theory, could go on forever, Scores tied in perpetuity, mitts handed down From father to son across the generations. But grieve not, for in the Upper Worlds Will be no horror of the last, as Johnson Decried it, no last kisses, no final fucks – And, say, that’s a toughie, isn’t it? David, fading, cold to the touch of Abishag The Shunammite, and she the hottest girl In Israel. Sternly his court regarded this: If the King knew her not, the King had to die. But that same night he fucked her in paradise! He fucked her brains out! He’s still fucking her!
by Charles Coe
FORT BLISS, EL PASO, TEXAS, AUGUST 1951
The milk-white sun gazes down like the eye of some implacable lizard. In the photograph, you squint in brand-new uniform, shirt too large, as if yanked off a shelf and tossed your way after some bored corporalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cursory glance. The cap clings to your buzz cut at the proper angle, but father, you look like exactly what you are: a boy playing soldier. Some barracks buddy, forever anonymous, snaps the shutter; you trade places, later, send pictures home to mothers who will lie awake, because they know that fire and steel love the taste of young flesh.
The City Holds No Secrets (2014) by John D. Godfrey
ANOTHER VISION OF PURGATORY
by M.V. Montgomery
From Anders’ Guide to Travels in Europe, First Edition, 1868, page 417: At the Basilica di Santa Bona in Ravenna, do not fail to take in the majestic cupola of Gaspare Gennari. It is one of few known frescoes following Dante’s Divine Commedia thought to have adapted the poet’s epic vision, particularly with respect to the Paradisio, which seems little more than affectionate homage. At the apex of the cupola, we espy the Divine Rose; and surrounding it, a majestically laid-out cosmos with rings of planets, recognizable Italian saints, and innumerable winged cherubs. Toward the base of the dome, we find a stylized version of the Purgatorio, with seven rings for each deadly sin. It was originally thought to represent the Inferno, since groups of sinners illustrate vices but do not actively pursue penitence; but here, Hell is represented only by a thin band of fire lining the base of the painting, in which contorted shadows of humanity are seen, but no identities may be discerned. The bishops of the area had debated whether a depiction of Hell had any place in a sanctuary of God, and to follow Dante’s practice of historical allusion was not allowed. From Painters of the Italian Renaissance: “Gaspare Gennari”: …In the Purgatorio, a jeweled brede winds through each ring; the style is Byzantine, with curved lines creating interconnections. Of note here is a mysterious figure repeated in each section, which from surviving sketches and the Duomo self-portrait may be identified with the artist himself. Like Dante, Gennari chose to put himself imaginatively into his work, albeit somewhat precariously, for the impression one takes away is one of a man struggling to avoid entrapment in a web of sin. From L.C. Lewes, Gaspare Gennari, Painter, vol. 2: Gennari’s Purgatorio is much misunderstood. Although the rings recall the different levels of Dante’s mountain, the Seven Deadly Sins are not presented in the same order; Dante’s itinerary, from the top down, is Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride; Gennari’s order is Lust, Envy, Pride, Greed, Gluttony, Wrath, and Sloth. While the rings ascend to the dome of the cupola, the scroll pattern woven throughout suggests they are interconnected, and not necessarily to be understood in hierarchical order, as if in anticipation of Hieronymus Bosch’s later panel The Seven Deadly Sins and the Last Four Things (1485). In the Second Circle, for example, the figure of the artist gazes upon a solitary woman, who in turn looks with envious yearning at a contented-looking mother and child. A downward curl leads from this mother-child pair down to the Third Ring, of the Proud, where they are now joined by a husband and second child. The two children, a boy and a girl, herein appear to compete openly for their parents’ affection; in turn, the parents look upon their offspring not so much with love, but as misers might regard riches; i.e., possessively. Another curved line connects this image to the circle below, where the children are recognized again, this time older, and now appearing to vie for parental property which might have been bequeathed to them in a will; 39
it is difficult, upon examining this detail, not to recall automatically Niccolò Machiavelli’s observation that human beings are more likely to forget the loss of a father than the loss of their patrimony. Hundreds of interconnected scenes play out similarly, and the impression one takes away from tracing the connections is that Gennari wished the observer to perceive the universality of sin. The figures are stylized, not intended as representations; nor are they restricted to a single circle, but repeat. Gennari suggests human beings have not just one predominant vice, but many, and everyday life in itself is a kind of Purgatory in which we must continually suffer from our shortcomings. It remains curious, however, that so few of the sinners are depicted praying; and even these, in a context or with a countenance suggesting impure motives. Furthermore, as the eye travels ring to ring, there is, as mentioned above, no real sense of progress. The figures merely glut themselves on one sin, then move on to another. There appears to be no way out of this Purgatory, and perhaps more than a hint of heresy: for the only way for sinners to purge themselves of one vice appears to be having their fill of it. And throughout this mortal labyrinth winds the trail of the Dantesque traveler, recognizably the interpolated figure of the painter, who gazes upon mankind’s iniquities without judgment or emotion, but not, necessarily, without interest… From “Gaspare Gennari and Clelia Manti: A Secret Love,” Journal of Renaissance Art XIV: Abstract L.C. Lewes’ interpretation of Gaspare Gennari’s Purgatorio is rightfully considered a classic, but at least two of his assumptions are herein challenged. First and foremost, that the painter is the only recognizable figure in the work. Recently, facial recognition software has served to identify the Envious Woman (seen again in the Circle of the Lustful) as Gennari’s mistress Clelia Manti. Was this simply a case of artist-model, or a deliberate depiction? Biographical evidence supports a case for the latter, as a surviving letter of Gennari to Clelia references her desire for children. The case becomes even stronger when another premise of Lewes’ is reexamined, viz., that Gennari only painted himself into the picture as an observer. In the Circle of the Envious, where Clelia Manti first appears, the artist-figure appears to look upon the scene with something approaching interest; and in the next and highest circle, Lasciviousness or Lust, we again recognize Clelia, an ecstatic expression on her face, in the embrace of a man with back turned. Nearby this mysterious figure are placed coded references to the Gennari family crest. This was a clever, though not unprecedented way for Gennari to paint himself into his work, and to suggest earthly love was not unworthy of praise, whether or not it “dared to show its face” on a church ceiling.
From the Song â&#x20AC;&#x153;Cleliaâ&#x20AC;? by Samantha Gemm, Courtesy of Handsel Entertainment: Clelia, Clelia Your love was star-crossed and for centuries lost, but I regard you once more. You went unforgiven, had to stay hidden from those who would stone you as a whore. Clelia, Clelia You watched children on the square and whispered a prayer that one day you would give birth. But Heaven in the sky could never deny the love which you felt on this earth.
Restless Sea (2014) by John D. Godfrey
Alex II (2014) by John D. Godfrey
HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE THE OPPOSITE OF QUIET? by Juleigh Howard-Hobson Okay, this happened out in the desert. Maybe it was Iran. Maybe Iraq. Maybe even Afghanistan. I’d better not tell you exactly, because it’s safer for both of us that way. I was with the 565th engineers. Specifically, company C of the 565th. We shipped out of Fort Lewis, where we were stationed when we were stateside. I wasn’t anything particular. Your ordinary grunt. They stuck me with the engineers because I did better than a thousand other ordinary grunts in the math tests they gave us when we signed up. Whatever. It beat swabbing decks or whatever they did in the Navy, which is why I enlisted with the Army. Other than that, I didn’t care which outfit had me. The 565th had been deployed for about 6 days when it all started happening. 6 days out there in the sand and heat. The middle of nowhere, Middle East. Nothing to do but spend the day chugging water by the quart. And popping salt tabs. Oh, and getting eaten alive by sand fleas and chiggers and god knows what else out there that crept in from those dunes. There was no real action though. Nothing. Not so much as a buzzard came over the heat shimmer they called the horizon. Yeah, 6 days of nothing. Blank days. Hot days. We grunts took to sitting in the shade made by the M1 tanks. Those gigantic Abrams weren’t exactly comforting, but man, they cast deep dark shadows all across the yellow hot sand. And I mean it when I say that that sand was hot. Some of the guys thought it was funny to spit on top of it and watch their gobs sizzle. Other guys took bets about which gob would burn up first. That was about the height of positive activity going on. Otherwise, our days consisted of sitting in the shadiest spots of the tank corral, swigging at our plastic army-issue bottles of tepid water, and shooting the breeze. This was punctuated with waiting and griping: waiting for chow, griping about chow, waiting to swat the evil little bugs that feasted on any exposed part of our bodies, and griping about the bug bites when we didn’t swat them fast enough, waiting for a chance to Skype home, griping about not getting a chance to Skype home, waiting for something else and griping about the fact that we were waiting for something else. That was our biggest thing. Something else. That’s all we really needed, we told ourselves. Something else. Anything else. Just so long as it was something better than all that nothing we had going on. You know what they say about getting what you want. We wanted something. It happened. This particular something happened at 06:00 hours. Without any kind of preamble at all. One minute the sky over our baking encampment was empty. Just like it always was: blue and hot. There was nothing going on in it. Nothing hanging around in it. Nothing passing through it. Nope. Not a cloud. Not a bird. Nothing. Not that we expected much, I mean, it was a desert sky. It was supposed to be barren. It was stuck out in the middle of who the hell knew where, so it was always quiet, too. Hot, blue and quiet. That was it. Except at oh six hundred hours that morning, it wasn’t that way anymore. I mean, it was still hot, and it didn’t look any different either--it was still blue, but it wasn’t quiet. 45
How do you describe the opposite of quiet? That was what it was. Right there, right above us, that stinking hot blue desert sky was the opposite of quiet. This horrible noise was coming out of it. It wasn’t any sky noise any of us heard of before. Not any desert noise we knew either. The empty blue space above us was full of loud noise that chugged, and roared. That screeched. That screamed maniacally. That wailed unimaginably loud. It was a demolition derby crash that didn’t fade. It was a New York City expressway getting smacked down by an earthquake in rush hour. It was an insane and invisible sky high washing machine on spin. It was an unspottable roaring jet engine taking off and taking off and taking off. It was a huge and sucking mechanical whirlpool thrashing around and around, never changing tone, never fading, never switching cycle, destroying itself, drowning itself, dismantling some distant universe bit by bit, in the heavens right above our heads. Happening right there. Happening right then and there. It didn’t stop, even though our brains told us it was supposed to stop. Because we knew it was supposed to stop. All noise ends, right? This went on... and on... and on. Didn’t even change tempo. Just on and on. The noise of that sky, sounding like it was exploding even when we could see it was not exploding, poured down on top of us like some sort of crazy audio rain. It was hitting everything all at once. Pouring down on all of the M1s, all of the tents, the jeeps, the sand dunes. Sound, sound—how can sound fill up a space like that? How can just noise do that? I don’t know. It did, though. Right on us. Like it was aiming at us. That idea ran through us GIs like wildfire. The thought that we were being hit by something that wanted to hit us. Something that was big. Something that was out there. Something we couldn’t even see. And it was coming down from everywhere above us to everywhere around us. From what? From where? There was nothing. Nobody. Just air. Just the sky. But something was there. Something or somebody was up there. Right there. Maybe somewhere out in space. Maybe beyond space. It was too big to think about. It could be anything. It could be anything else too. There was no protocol, so at first, none of us did anything—we were engineers, not green berets, we weren’t trained in unthinkable hits. We weren’t trained in sound waves. Most of us, like me, were just grunts, doing our time so we qualified for the GI Bill when we got back to the world. We looked at each other, standing there, under that sky. What the fuck was going on? Then, like we had one mind, we all hit the sand, digging ourselves into the hot sand dunes where ever we stood. Digging in, and then waiting. Motionless, underneath that roaring sky. How long? Forever, ten minutes, I don’t know. All I know is, we waited as long as we could under that noise. Waited for it to stop. Waited for it to change. Waited for it to accelerate. But nothing happened. No stop, no change, no acceleration. Nothing except that same noise. Unchanging. Unending. When nothing changed, when nothing happened, some of the guys crept up out of their makeshift foxholes and headed for the cooler sand under the tracks of the tanks, digging themselves new foxholes like they were master termites. The rest of us just sat it out where we were. None of us knew what to do. What do you do when the sky is falling? Whatever you do it’s wrong. So there we were, in the sand, underneath this wailing bright blue morning sky, waiting again. This time we were waiting for the inevitable slap of fate. Something was coming down on us. Somewhere high up there. It sounded like it was the sky that was falling. At least apart, if not down. But, the sky can’t fall. The sky was the sky. Why would the sky fall on us? It was the sky and wasn’t the sky. It made no sense. It still doesn’t make any, no matter how many times I run it through my memory. We stayed put, sweating in our holes, waiting for it to be over. It had to be over soon. The noise kept falling. But not falling, that word is wrong for what happened out there. Let me think, there has to be a better way to put it, so you can get an idea of how it was for us. It fell, but it didn’t fall, it was like it surrounded us. Oozing down on us, noisy all over the place. Like it just poured down and then stuck around so it was all over: not 46
up, not down, not sideways. Just everywhere, the whole camp was covered in that roaring crazy invisible mechanical noise. One hour passed, then two hours. The noise stuck with us. By then we all had hightailed it back to our tents. Us enlisted guys sat on our bunks, shaking our heads, waiting for the officers to raise HQ, waiting to be told that HQ wanted us to get the hell away. But HQ didn’t order us out. According to HQ there was nothing going on in our quadrant. Nothing in our whole area. I don’t know if they looked too hard into our story. We were stationed as a support unit; our job was to wait in the desert, keeping alive, until we were needed for support by other units that couldn’t keep enough of their guys alive. Other than us dropping dead in the sand before we plugged holes in the front lines, HQ didn’t care much, particularly when our story was that the sky was too loud. So there we were. Ordered to stay put. We stayed put. The sky roared, but stayed put too. We grew restless, hunkered down under those noisy heavens, and then we grew bolder. Noise is only noise after all. Soldiers can get accustomed to anything. And pretty rapidly. Starting with the third hour of the screaming sky, camp routine was already re-established, even if some things were a little late. Breakfast was served at 09:00. The noise made me lose my appetite, so when they called that first chow time, I took my favorite folding chair out into the middle of the tent city and sat by myself instead. I sat and looked up at the blank blue sky and listened to the air. Like the rest of unit, I’d already begun to grow used to the sky making all that noise. It wasn’t particularly real feeling to any of us, we knew real—-snipers, IEDs, lost buddies, lost relationships—real was here, down here, around us. Real was the stuff we could fight for and wish for and cry over. That distant sky, that weird ass noise—it wasn’t really real. If some foreign desert sky roared, what did it really matter to us, the children of the land of the free? It wasn’t our sky, so in the long run, it didn’t cost us anything if the damn thing over here started making noise like all hell was breaking loose. Whatever. It was a pain in the neck because it was loud, but, whatever. It wasn’t shooting at us. So, whatever. So it went, the sky screamed, life at the camp went on. At first we were hyper aware of it, then, inevitably, it didn’t register any more. It took only three days for us to completely forget the sky wasn’t supposed to be that way. I almost couldn’t hear it. We had to remember that it was happening. Then, at 14:30 hours on the fourth day, the sky roar ended. That huge engulfing drowning quagmire of noise went away. Completely gone. It left no echo. No reverberating throbs. No toning down. No. It was quick. All of a sudden: silence. Like a coat of cotton wool stuffed in our heads. Like a muffler. Like a thick layer of nothing. You could almost touch it. I was off duty, and lying on my bunk when it stopped. I had been thinking about how many salt tablets I had left in my locker, thinking about how much money I had socked away, thinking those thoughts that lead to falling asleep in the middle of hot desert days. Instead of drifting towards a soldierly nap, though, the silence shocked me alert. Alert and confused. I started shaking my head. My brain seemed numb and distant from the rest of the world. It was as if the noise cut off more than itself. Like when the mute button has been suddenly pressed by someone else in middle of a boring part of a movie... Hey, hurry, hurry, turn the sound up in case it gets good again. I left my tent and joined up with everyone else from the unit—-looking up at the blue blank silence. That sudden deaf feeling silence was almost terrible. We stood there, waiting for something to come of it. Waiting for something to happen. We weren’t sure what we were waiting for, but I mean, shouldn’t something happen after all that noise? But, we just kept standing there while nothing happened. Nothing. And still nothing. The midafternoon desert sun beat down on our heads, mercilessly. It was hot. We were hot. We were getting bored, too. That was it? All that noise coming down on us like that out here and then fzzzzz? Nothing? Nothing? The louder grunts started griping about how typical it was, and just before we all turned away and went back to whatever it was that we were doing before the noise stopped, something happened. 47
Thick grey mucus started falling. It came falling right out down from clouds that weren’t even there before the grey stuff started to hit us. Those clouds flung down sheets of the grey stuff. Piles of thick sticky, slimey, stuff that stuck to and coated everything-- tents, tanks, men, dunes, everything-- in the whole damn camp, in about two minutes. It didn’t burn, and it didn’t taste like anything, but you couldn’t walk without slipping on your ass, you couldn’t look up without getting a face full. Guys were jumping and flailing, trying to keep it off of their glasses, get it off of their faces, get it out of their mouths. I started wiping it off, and it wouldn’t come off. I shook, I picked, I wiped harder. No matter what I did, it seemed like nothing could get the stuff off of me. It clung to me like gel, like sludge. I pulled and pulled at it, wiping it, clawing it. It was tar. It was glue. It was nightmarish. Guys were running around, yelling, wiping, slipping, sliding. Some of the guys tried to shoot it—but their guns jammed. Other guys were trying to set fire to it, but it didn’t catch. It wasn’t pooling up so much as it was coating everything with itself. Like a gelatin paint. Like a grey molasses. I got the idea that I could try to roll it off in the sand that the floor of my tent was made of. It wasn’t getting in the tents, it was just coating them, not soaking through like a liquid would. I tried to get some of the guys to come with me, but no one would listen. It was hard talking through all that stuff, too. It took me forever to get to my tent. Slipping, choking, wiping that stuff off my face so I could see. Slipping some more. And it was hot under all that heavy mucus. I made it, though; I made it to my tent. And once I got inside, where no more that stuff could land on me, I threw myself on the floor of it and I began to roll. As stupid as it sounds, that’s what I did. I rolled. It helped some, but not that much, until I got another bright idea. I pulled my uniform off. That was it, that was the ticket; most of the gunk came off with it. I kept rolling though, sanding off every bit of the stuff that was on my hands, my head, my hair. At 15:00 hours I was rolling in the sand of my tent, gunk free, completely naked, and all alone. At first, it didn’t occur to me that that was what I was doing, but when it finally did, I stopped rolling. I stopped right there on the sandy floor by my bunk, and I listened. My ears were still a bit messed up from all that sky noise and then the mucus stuff, but...even so, it was too quiet. Way too quiet. There should have been a lot of GIs making a racket all over camp. There should have been yelling. Men should have been barking orders, the guys should have been shooting at the stuff some more. Even if they weren’t shooting or barking, I should have heard something: thrashing, kicking, crashing, slipping, cursing. There should have been some sort of uproar. There wasn’t any uproar at all. The hairs on the back of my neck, which was now clear of grey gunk, stood up. It wasn’t right. Nothing about it was right. I grabbed my gun, it had some grey stuff on it, but the gunk wasn’t slimy anymore. It was hard now. I hardly registered that when the gun crumbled in my hand. All of a sudden, there wasn’t any gun at all, only a soft grey powder that fell on the sand at my feet. I turned around and grabbed my uniform shirt—I barely could tell it was hard, not slimy, before it disintegrated. I grabbed at my pants, my skivvies, my boots: powder, powder, powder. I touched the tent flap—it fell into nothingness, too. I slowly walked outside. Everything in the camp was blanketed, covered with hardened grey carapaces. I bent and picked up a rock, it was dust before I straightened. The coated sand under my feet didn’t crunch so much as it squeaked like chalk. Powdering away with every step I took. I started calling out names—Jim! Benny! Davo!—the vibrations of my voice set off a camp-wide collapse. All around me, man-shaped blobs fell into heaps of dust, then the tent-shaped blobs went, then the tank-shaped ones—dusty powder swirled, then sank, as each thing bottomed out on itself. I could feel the sand underneath my bare feet sucking at me, pulling me in, turning to fine particles that wanted me to slip inside them and be lost forever. 48
I started running. I was buck naked, bare foot, in the middle of the hottest god-forsakenest place Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d ever known, and I ran. I ran and I ran. I kept my eyes trained on the yellow stripe of dunes I could see in the distance. Yellow sand, not grey coated sand. It was the edge of everything there. Right there the real world began again. I ran. And when the helicopters came, chopping the air up like a band of Valkyries, they circled for what seemed like eternity until one came down and picked me up. They told me I was suffering from heat stroke, that there never was a company C attached to the 565th. No Jim, no Benny, no Davo. According to them, I was just another HQ grunt gone nuts in the hot sun. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t think so, though. It just doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make sense the way people think it should. But, what do you call the opposite of sense?
Joschua Beres Interviews Tyler Jordan from
THE GENTS 50
early Avett Brothers stuff. Also, he gives me rides to practice and to shows, so I know that he’s had the newest Shakey Graves record on fucking repeat. Haha.
BREAKDOWN Matty B: Rhythm Guitar/Bass/Vocals Tyler Jordan: Rhythm Guitar/Bass/Vocals Jon Denn: Percussion Kevin Manship- Lead Guitar/Vocals
What are your dreams and goals? We all work shitty day jobs. Kevin and I are waiters, Matty works in flower shop, and Jon works for a trailer rental company. I know we’d all rather be playing music full time, and so until we get there that’s the main goal. Also, we have a couple of tours on the horizon, and I’m super excited to get this band on the road, and travel the country with my friends.
Genre: Indie/Americana/ Folk-Rock Hometown: Austin, Texas, USA
Who writes the songs, what are they about?
Matty, Kevin, and I all write songs. The process is normally, we write them on our own, and then we come back with a complete song and arrange as a group. So, you can definitely hear the difference in the writers at the live shows, plus we sing lead vocals on the songs that we personally wrote. It seems like we all write pretty literal songs about our lives. I write a lot about family, friends, and women that I have loved or love currently. I love story songs.
How would you describe your band’s musical genre? We usually describe ourselves as indie/americana with a heavy focus on vocal harmonies. Folk-rock works as well, but you know, sometimes that has some terrible connotations to it, so we try to steer clear of that one! Tell us the brief history of your band.
How do you promote your band and shows?
Well, we’ve been a band for a little over three years now. I met Matty when he first moved here from Virginia, and we happened living in the same house for a brief period of time. Matty and Kevin went to high school together back in Virginia. We were friends just hanging out, who discovered that we all played music, so we tried doing it together, and found out we could all sing and song write so we started trying to find a drummer. We’ve had 3 drummers, but our current one, Jon Denn, has been with us for 5 months now and he really suits us well. We’ve played a couple festivals, released and EP, and had a lot of success locally in Austin.
Well, we do a lot of online promotion through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as an email list. We also promote in more traditional manner through physical posters and handbills. It also helps that Matty is an excellent artist, and does all of our artwork. Also, we try to do as many interviews as possible. Describe your show, visually and musically We have really upbeat high energy show, and everybody in the band moves quite a bit. I think it’s pretty entertaining show, especially because the lead singer changes pretty fluidly, and we switch instruments fairly often. Musically you can expect vocal harmonies on every song, and I think we’ve gotten to a pretty good place as far as singing together. Everything is pretty tight after 3 years of doing this.
Who are your musical and non-musical influences? Personally, I listen to a pretty wide range of music, but I really love Paul Westerberg and The Replacements and lot of 70s proto-punk. I love everything that David Bowie did in the 70s, including the albums he recorded with Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. I listened to a lot of Bright Eyes growing up, and I think that really effected the way that I write. I know that Kevin likes a lot 70s pop like Elton John and the Band, and then a lot of early 90s grunge like Soundgarden. Matty really digs bluegrass and some of his favorites are Larry and his Flask and
Tyler, what’s your outlook on the record industry today? I personally think that we’re in a really amazing place right now. Less records are being sold, but the diversity 51
of the artists is at an all time high, and the actual art form is better for it. Hardly anybody is getting rich, but a lot of musicians are able to make a much more sustainable living than before we had the internet and cheap recording techniques. Major labels aren’t in a position to take advantage of as many people, they just can’t afford to, and you see super successful smaller indie labels. I think it’s a great time to be a musician. Tell us a story about a day in your life. I wake up and ride my bike to my job at Kerbey Lane. I work at the original one. I bring people pancakes and coffee for a living. Some people are rad and others suck. The job isn’t the most fulfilling thing in the world, but I get by, and because I work breakfast shifts, I’m able to have all my evenings off for practices and shows. I play in a couple of bands, so my evenings are pretty full as well. Austin is still a great place to live the kinda life that I do. What inspires you to do what you do? I knew from the time that I was 16 and starting playing guitar that I wanted to be a musician. I don’t know what else I would want to spend the rest of my life doing. I love the continued process of learning more about music, getting better, and being able to more easily express what I hear my head. I guess I can’t imagine doing anything else. What advice would you give to fellow bands? I think there are a lot of bands out there that don’t take themselves that seriously, and don’t put the right kind of effort into promoting their shows. But that being said, it just gives the rest of us more incentive to work hard. I guess my advice is, it’s not just about the art and creating, it’s also about getting people to listen and creating space for that to happen.
What equipment do you use? I guess I feel weird about answering this one. I’m not much of a gear guy. I use mostly fender stuff, but I play a late 70s peavey bass. I love the reissue tube amps that fender has been putting out. I use one of the pro juniors with some different effects pedals. I play a mexican telecaster. I’d say I play a lot of midrange gear really. Tell us an interesting story from one of your shows. During one of our first shows at the Whip In in Austin. We were playing outside on the patio and it was the first time that people were really feeling the show. We’d played a couple of other shows, but we had kind of stumbled through those, and our friends clapped supportively, but this was like the first show that we actually were playing to people that weren’t our friends, and they were into. We were feeling great about it and we were 4 songs in, and the last note of the 4th song, the power just goes out. I think it went out for the whole block. Everyone went crazy, but then we were like, well, what we do? We were so bummed that we had to stop playing. But we got our first taste of positive feedback, and we went back and practiced more, and kept playing more shows. How does music affect you and the world around you? Well, for us, I mean, it’s completely world, completely. When we’re not practicing or listening to music at home, we’re out supporting our friends in their bands. There’s something to go to every night of the week here. I guess I can only speak for me personally, but the affect is profound, and probably touches every part of my life. What are the biggest obstacles for bands? I think the hardest thing is balancing the relationship with all the other band members. Everyone is playing music for different reasons, likes different types of music, and is constantly evolving as a musician. It’s hard keeping everybody on the same page, and sometime relationships deteriorate, so to some extent, just keeping the band together is probably the biggest challenge. Favorite band you have played with to date? It’s really hard thinking about all the bands that we’ve ever played with, because honestly, the list might be over 600 or 700 bands. But I really love The Deer, who are based out of San Marcos, and they’re probably one of my fave bands we’ve played with. Grace Park is such a great singer and I can’t wait for their new record. Best and worst part of recording an album .I think some people kind of romanticize the idea of recording a record. You know taking a month or so and just locking yourself up into a studio and making this record a real thing. But the reality for most bands, is you never have enough money to do that, so you’re probably trying to record it in the shortest time possible, and it can be kind of stressful. You want to do a good job representing your sound, but the money is always in the back of your head. Like, if I mess this take up again, I’m wasting everyone’s time and money. That’s definitely the worst for me. But it’s really awesome to hear the songs that you’ve only heard before while playing. You get to hear all of the cool guitar parts that you didn’t notice, and you hear the way the harmonies sound over the top of the instruments instead of all blended muddily together. So, I guess in a very Yogi Berra-ish kind of way, the best part of recording is getting to listen to the music recorded. Your next show. Tell us why we should be there. I don’t have a pitch prepared for this, just come out and let us make you dance. 53
SONNET 28 by Don Yorty
Writing’s a thing of opposites, putting on clothes, taking them off, whispering shouts starting a fire and then putting it out. You don’t want to burn the pages. Writing flames, when words are on fire, they take flight toward the horizon in an open mind and they’re more combustible when they rhyme. Very much like birds words fly out of sight before us on our journey. What’s thinking but flying, following thoughts? Why are they always words? Love’s the word I strive to say to you, believing it the place where striving ceases, there pain ends, and even the best of words. Love we’ll remember after death.
Untitled by Kamil Jodowski
[section 36 and 37 of The Green Vault, a poem in 85 parts] by Kathleen Peirce
36. Behold : two bright glass bubbles, pierced by an upright golden stem. “Sphere with the Singer Orpheus and Little Clockwork” Glass, gold, enamel, brilliant cut diamonds, rubies, rock crystal. Georg Benhart Augsburg, 1575 The bottom sphere encloses Orpheus with a halved and rejoined rind of glass, its hinges worked in gold, with long pins wearing top-curls to invite unpinning, though the world outside the sphere is effortlessly touchable… On top the downward-cupped, enamelled base, in fixed parade encircling the central stem, one finds an eye-sized, enamelled, golden stag, a monkey holding jewels, and a dog. The fourth animal is missing. All look up to Orpheus’ sphere of self-plus-animals, so clean inside what has been made to close around. He strains, looks up as do the captive animals, his animals, and the golden tree, his tree, is felt to strain. His open legs suggest his gait. His lyre, held so. We think we know the sound. 37. We are beside the sound we think we’d know to hear. On top, a smaller sphere contains the clock, the time that Orpheus makes true by his attention from below, while from above it, Saturn’s lance-tip falls. Has fallen. It rests to touch the clockwork sphere just where it bears a black enamelled belt of roman numerals from one to twelve. What turns to tell? The god. His body does, and is the key for winding-up.
FUNHOUSE by Philip Kobylarz
There is so much winter in this landscape it makes my eyes cold. Flowing, we drive, like a boat on an expedition to discover just how big and long nothing can be. The geographical name for these tilted swaths of brown and crab pinchers tainted green crags, white-tipped as if they had speared clouds, is a place called somewhere where southeastern Idaho meets the spine of Utah. Arrowheads stacked upright are these mountains; they angle the plains constantly so the feeling of any balance escapes us. There isn’t anywhere to look without mountains, snow, and beneath them an extra dried out beef jerky texture. The husk of the earth we cross over ever so slowly. Quit playing with the clock! We are unlikely. Individually, we wonder about the same things. We wonder if all other duos on this day are having this same thought. Most people aren’t like us. They settle for what their others should be. Prescribed by location, family, that huge ambiguity called culture. She changes the radio station after every three minute song that catches her fancy. She drops split open sunflower seeds from her mouth into a Styrofoam cup tucked into the crook of her lap. She looks out the window, singing, oblivious to how far her blithely out of tune rendition is to the original. She’s weird that way. She’s a Latina with a Russian first name. Somewhere beyond her ink black hair and love of raw fruit, there is a little bit of Mexican left. She’s mostly just American now and has no idea that there is more than one U.S. And more than one us. I am the accused. That is all that needs to be known. I go by many incarnations. The handsome devil. I prefer Don Juan, with a hard J the way the English pronounce it. Casanova can suffice as far as surnames go. All that really matters is that we are together, we are on a real road trip, the definition of our friendship is undefined, and the world hates us for this. I thought we were pals. It’s the scenery that keeps us going. Through Salt Lake City, the Wasatches with their perfect portraiture become Switzerland CGI-ed into the cowboy West. South, the distance on either side encroaches little by little and when the freeway narrows through a pass whose junipers were raised by fire, the rocks that surround the town of Cedar City become orange and white striped, daring flames to attempt to engulf them again. It must be a most beautiful prison to live in such a page torn from a dollar store calendar. A Georgia O’Keffian nightmare because most of the population could never fathom what to make of such terrible beauty. An endless Hopper painting staged in each moment of each day. To have children there must be an immediate form of child abuse. “You know, I bet even here, in the middle of nowhere, it’s still here.” “What’re you talking about?” she asks, threading sunflower shells through her perfect once brace-adorned teeth. Lazily. “Rudy. The pinball machine.” “You’re nuts. You’re highway giddy. I have to pee. Stop anywhere.” But, no, he was not in the oddly too clean and well-organized gas station. One day though, he would infiltrate even 57
backwoods Utah and innocent God-fearing patriotic Americans would be, like me, seduced by his Arcadian power. “What the fuck are you talking about?” she left into the anonymity of brightly sunlit window advertising. Neon pastels of cheesey chili dogs and fluorescent blue drinks. For one second, I thought I might never see her again. So crass, youth of any era. I’m not happy with you now. No one could really even grasp how a pinball machine had been structuring my life. Not even a kid. And that’s sad. How everywhere I had been on this planet, I had somehow inadvertently discovered it. First, in a fake wood enshrouded Italian Midwestern excuse for a restaurant. The smell of canned tomato sauce, powdered garlic bought in bulk, Lienenkugels, and the desire to experience life profoundly was where he met me. Rudy, the star of Funhouse. On all fours he stood in a college town bohemian enclave where me and my beloved have escaped reality. In a desperate attempt to follow my portrait of the artist as a young man’s dreams. How one day I found myself in the selfsame place with a tall and skinny giraffe of a girl named Jennifer who drowned her own sorrows in all-you-can-eat spaghetti cannot be explained. Like drug addicts, we had to get our fix. Hers, cheap food. Mine, alone time with the pinball machine of my desire. I see you now. Yes, Rudy spoke. And he spoke the TRUTH. An oracle cast in the male gender. The voice of a ventriloquist’s dummy, high-pitched, feverish, bordering on sanity. The perfect metaphor of any self. I had a beloved, once, and even when I did there were other potential beloveds. Forgive me for I am made of flesh. Jennifer’s long auburn hair and lack of make up. An overbite with perfectly straightened teeth. I could not have been falling in love with her. I’m not that guy. Hey Biff, the door’s open. Do dee doo doo dee doo dee doo. Rudy had catch phrases. They were meant to echo in the dark caverns of one’s mind long after playing. Rudy knew things. He knew how to push buttons. *** We were both going back home. She to Republican Whittier to a Mexican hating Hispanic family that uneasily would have to one day accept her alternative sexuality they could have never expected but I had intuitively known via a class in fictive forms of mine she was a student in. I to my sister’s abode, now downgraded to an upscale trailer park with ocean views in that weird slice of Americana known as Surf City, U.S.A. Oh, the contrast and the weirdnesses we were about to breach. The question of everyone’s mind: what was this old man, old enough to just barely be her father had he lived a life of little moral upbringing, and the swollen bosomed young lady who mutually agreed to take a road trip across the wasteland deserts of West with their dogs in tow, doing together? It was known by those who could not understand that we were more than mentor and mentee and this was a huge part of our decision to do this. Just to fuck with everyone’s mind. Just for the fucking. Without the fucking. Sometimes the fucking makes everything better. Sometimes the fucking ruins everything. “Do they even still make pinball machines?” she wondered out loud as she came back from the rest stop oasis after some type of hygiene procedure that left her hair partially wet. I just looked at her. She had gotten a plastic neon blue drink and I asked her if she were serious about that. She said it was the orange 58
juice of her generation. Onto the endlessness of the highway. Patches of burnt earth. Innumerable unnamed mountain ranges feverishly pointing to vast patches of nothing in the sky. The air hot, purified by radio static and the windshield’s magnification of the sun. Finally, the dogs slept. Stay away from the clock. A memory took me to the time when another we walked the red light district of Montmartre, the original we, passing the peep show booths that I wish I had had the courage to investigate, and we were dumbfounded to find the pinball machine of our dreams in a run down bar. What was my dream always became hers. And that was because she didn’t have any dreams of her own. A fluke as the 70 franc painting I bought from a man named Toto could only be paid for as an installation on his tab. How I found the bar, how Rudy had found me. How could I have know that fourteen years later the original she would walk out on me and the four bedroom house overlooking the San Francisco bay? And those five days later after the Great Treachery I would find another European. Ping, ping, ding dong, how I utterly wanted to avoid the “how-life-is-a-pinball-game” metaphor and couldn’t. Another ball goes straight down the middle. What Rudy has done: pushed me around like that tiny steel bowling ball behind the sheet of smudged glass that functions as both his brain and his heart. Too many loves to talk about. Don’t want to confuse the girl child who has never known such a feeling. Too many women and extra games won. Where did ya go now?
The mountains disappeared just like that in the fading of the day’s light. Glowing, then they were gone. Via road hypnosis and white line delirium, we would be upon California, soaking in the iodine of its coastal air. Where I would lose my raven-haired friend and be free to contemplate time divided eloquently, wildly, into ocean waves. But I know in my heart of broken hearts that somewhere along the Pacific Coast Highway in some shabby run down fish shack or in a dive so wrongly decorated in frontier regalia, it is there, he will be there. Blinking patiently. Waiting. Right back at ya’. Waiting for me to spend five dollars out of wanderlust and passion. Pinball. The only arcade game that, in playing a three ball round, her memory will reappear. The damn pinball machine that is everywhere and nowhere, that will always be there, ringing, jingling, clicking, the secret language of desire. The game I always enjoy losing at. The game of pinball and love. It’s in these road trips I take, useless and never ending, to places but never to destinations, what I am condemned to take for the rest of my brief eternity. The sadness of mock neon-lit bars and restaurants that should have gone out of business years ago. All of the paneling-lined personal hells I will visit. Looking for him. Playing. Losing. Failing. Trying to remember her. Crazy! Waiting for the loud steel on wood. CRACK, that means another turn, another try. The loud CRACK that proves that I’m still alive. The loud CRACK, of another free game, the only thing that can restart the beating of my tilted heart.
by Tim Kerlin
THE FIRST LIFE’S BLOOD
for Jean Valentine
Creeping down the silent, fir-crusted mountain, we found that low streak of red in the middle distance grew less and less clear. We wondered at the dew collecting on our skin, reflected light— sudden heaviness. We wondered why we felt inverted—and the capillary’s throatless chant —You who live beneath the baker’s stove who smoke and smoke and never burn who live behind the grocer’s door who drain the pitcher on the ledge you who tap the hollow tree, shake the branches, line the road, you who warm, you the murk, you the eye, the lie, the form. . . the miasma of the middle distance obscures the construction of a windowless house. We hear a hundred hammers stop tapping a hundred nails. Doors close. And all at once we know—and a painted hallway empties itself of its silence.
I wish for setting myself ablaze, As do the meteors entering the atmosphere. Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; religions of the world, Enunciate the decree of my excommunication And allow the shepherds breathe with ease .
Oh, philosophical nightmares of mine! My lips lack the ability to move.
by Seyed Morteza Hamidzadeh
Everyone would have abandoned you, But an executed Angel in your heart, Who sent out the resurrection of her brain To the slaughtering field of the Trumpeters, And the duel-declaration of two eyes, With the edge of your breathing Which challenged the world of your ears.
Landmark (2014) by John D. Godfrey
THE FACILITY a story by Saramanda Swigart
The Facility is east of the city, near the old waterworks. Wind shrieks through the tiers of the abandoned aqueduct. It whines around our silver outbuildings and whistles through the spiked fences that surround us. Terry and I are in the yard for free time. It’s marshy beneath our feet. From our silver homecube to the silver fence the earth is spongy with radioactive groundwater. Several years ago the birds disappeared from the wastezone. And after them, the insects. Only we can live here now, the rehabilitants, because we’re decontaminated every day, and medicated against toxins. Terry nods my attention toward the silo near the fence. A crack has appeared in its side. Smoke leaks from the fissure and the wind whips it toward the brown glow that used to be sunset. I’m not really interested in the crack, but I watch it because Terry watches it, and sometimes his interest is how I fend off despair. There are only nine of us left at Boy’s Juvenile Justice Facility Bravo. Terry’s the only one I really know, although I’m not sure his name’s Terry. One day he drew an image in the mud of a figure in a fuzzy bathrobe—or maybe it was a coat—and I’ve thought of him as Terry ever since. We communicate well without speaking aloud. We haven’t been near the fence since 32 died. The low electrical hum, the singed flesh smell, 32’s hatched-open jaw— my heart jitters to think of it. I force myself to walk next to Terry, who isn’t afraid, who walks on the balls of his feet, eager. Terry is small and wiry and two-thirds my size. He’s always in motion. I step hesitantly. I’m ready to run back to the homecube, because the spherical blue eye that’s affixed to the side of the homecube follows our progress, moving upward on its retractable stalk. I make a little bargain with the Facility: if it lets us walk to the perimeter without punishment, I’ll work my next waste cleanup detail without a single break. Terry and I get to the point in the fence where it abuts the silo. The silo leans slightly, not quite silver anymore. The crack extends down its side to about four feet from the ground. Up close, through the smoke, I see a sticky brown substance bubbling from the aperture. Terry reaches toward the crack and in a panic I pull his hand back. My heart thumps, watch it, watch it. The wind is too loud for me to hear the hum. Finally Terry lets me pull him back to our customary spot under the overhang. The blue eye fully retracts into its shell and points down at us. Above us the Facility sign creaks in the wind. It reads, BJJFB: Retribution, Rehabilitation, Rejuvenation! I like the sound of the sign creaking. It recalls a tree branch creaking in a storm. A specific storm, a house, a family in the house. The copper letters behind the swinging sign, reading Homecube 4, have bled down the side of the building. I like that too, the way the streaks make a forest of red and green rust on the sheet-metal wall. Homecube 4 is the only operational homecube. The others molder around us. Terry draws in the mud with his finger. He draws the homecube, with its overhang and columns of rivets. He draws an equals sign next to it, and next to that, an infinity symbol. I press my nails into my palm. I look toward the aqueduct, which usually calms me, but today makes me feel worse. The wind has knocked another piece from it. For some reason I feel that when that aqueduct’s gone, hope’s gone too. Terry rubs out the image with his shoe and draws another: the fence, with its fleur de lis spikes at the top. He draws himself, on the homecube side. Then he draws a passage under the fence. Himself on the other side, running. Finally a figure running next to him that I understand to be myself. Terry hasn’t drawn an escape plan in a long time. It’s hard to tell how much time, due to time slippages. After a week of waste cleanup, health services keeps us unconscious for intervals, and we lose weeks, months, we’re never sure. I make another little bargain with the Facility: if we don’t get in trouble for this drawing, I won’t think about escape for a year. I erase Terry’s seditious drawing, and listen for the whirring that precedes punishment. The blue eye used to brighten and emit a whirring when we spoke aloud, and then when we drew words in the mud. After a few days we only drew pictures. I don’t hear any whirring, so I draw my own image: the two of us, X’ed out eyes, in the middle of a flat plane. There’s nothing to eat or drink for ten days in any direction from the Facility. That’s what the Didactics tell us. If we leave we die. 63
Terry erases the plane. He leaves our dead bodies in the picture, but draws the homecube and the fence around us. If we stay we die. Misery worms into my stoicism. I don’t know how long it’s been since I arrived. I was fourteen then. I’m fairly sure our eighteenth birthdays—our supposed release dates—have come and gone. We could be nineteen or twenty-five. Tour groups used to come through the Facility, but they don’t come anymore, and we haven’t had communiqués from the outside in a long while. There aren’t discernible seasons here. Nothing marks the time. We’re men now, anyway, shavers, with hair on our muscled chests and legs. I wrestle down the gloom. Terry sees I’m unhappy. He erases and starts again. This time he draws a woman with huge breasts. He’s a virtuoso at this kind of drawing. I don’t think either of us has seen a naked woman, but what Terry lacks in knowledge he makes up for in salacious detail. His woman seems real. She has coy, gentle eyes. Any moment she could reach forward out of the earth, cup my face with cool, gritty hands. She could kiss my eyelids, trail a hand down my cheek. Lust kicks indolently inside me, thumps its tail. Terry places his hand near my hand and leaves it there in the mud. The first buzzer sounds. We stand immediately, and Terry smoothes the drawing with his foot. Escape, women, we aren’t thinking about them anymore. Edgy, we wait. Terry worries the hem of his silver shirt. Threads hang from it. He twirls them between finger and thumb so they look like tassels. Unlike Terry, I know how to stand still. I know how to force my longing into a small glowing sphere, deep in my stomach. I see it as the core of a star, madly converting matter to energy, keeping its surface calm. I hardly breathe. I hold my hands so they won’t shake. Finally the second buzzer sounds. We sprint. When we get inside we slow to avoid the red pits on either side of the walkway. Terry lets me go first in the queue. The other rehabilitants avoid my eyes, though we all put our hands on our stomachs, shorthand for I’m OK. I feel Terry fidgeting behind me. My heart pumps, want it, want it. 15 goes and then it’s my turn. I can’t get into the silver cubicle fast enough. I strip and wait for my anti-radiation bath. They’re just fragrant puffs of air, coming at us from six directions, but they pump in medicine, and a drug. The nighttime drug is different from the morning drug. Though both feel great, the night is the better of the two, and its effects last until we fall asleep. I turn in the sweet-smelling jets. My body goes slack and loose. I lift my arms above my head. Right now I feel love, love for my family—lost to me—and for the world as it used to be, and even for our homecube, and the wastezone around us. I feel love for the big blue eye, and it’s roundness, the milkiness of its blue. How, at its most benign, it looks to me like a cat’s eye marble, with a mysterious twist to the iris like a Möbius strip. Most of all, I feel for Terry. In my mind we soar above the buildings, above the haze, into the blue sky, when the sky used to be blue, when there were things flying in the blue sky. My heart vaults into that beautiful expanse. The bath ends too soon. The moving wall pushes me out. I dress in the new clothes they provide, and make my way to dinner, limbs itchy with pleasure. I find Terry. We get our food tubes and sit under the gaze of the blue eye, which glows, swiveling on its stalk above the ration dispensary. The dinner paste, white and viscous, tastes better and better as the meal goes on. Terry squirts the stuff out onto each finger and then sucks them one by one. I squeeze it directly on my tongue and press it to the roof of my mouth and take tiny swallows. I follow Terry’s eyes to the ceiling. At the seam with the wall, near the big blue eye, the silver is stained with mildew. The pattern it makes is beautiful, cloud billows; pond ripples; mushroom clouds. Ripples expand in my brain and radiate out into the room. I smile. Every weakness in the Facility, in this automated system that imprisons and sustains us, is a potential way out to Terry. I rely on him for this: to express the hope I don’t feel anymore. A great surge of love flushes up through my body. Terry points his chin at the ration dispensary. Filth has accumulated around the chute. All at once I realize what Terry’s been trying to tell me for some time, and it pierces into my hazy thoughts. I sit up. My breath comes faster. The Facility, I realize, is dying. I lie in my sleeping pod, waiting for those moments before sleep when cerise and indigo waves gather and crash, gather and crash in time with my heartbeat. But I don’t sleep. I feel trapped, just like when I used to get punished. 64
The cushions scratch my cheek and the walls are too close. I turn over, worrying that there isn’t enough air. I tap my fingers against the thick plastic lid, and then try to wedge my fingernails between the lid and the wall. When we used to speak, or fight, or investigate the Facility too closely, or commit any number of infractions that stayed half-understood, we would be kept in our pods, sometimes for days, food rations dropping in on us periodically. The loneliness and suffocation were bad, but worst was the withdrawal. We would be wracked with symptoms, shaking and cramping, gasping at the stale air. The memory causes panic, so I perform a counter-move. First I force my hands to relax at my side. And then I imagine my fear as a glowing orb that leaves my body and floats before my eyes. It hums like a human voice. Humming, it drifts through the pod lid and out into our sleeping cube, where it merges with the light of the blue eye, and it and the eye hum together, melodious in their different registers. I try to speak: Terry, I say, but the word comes out a voiceless hiss. The pod lid slides open. I don’t remember having fallen asleep, but now it’s morning. I fumble out and blink against the light. My teeth rattle in my skull. My spinal cord aches. I scramble into the silver shirt provided for me. It’s ripped at both shoulders: my shoulders have gotten too big for the shirts. I shuffle into the shower queue behind 12. He shifts his weight from one leg to the other. He has sinewy, dark-skinned arms, and I watch the veins jump as he runs his hands over and over his close-cropped hair. In front of him, 22 sits on the floor and waits with his head between his legs, his blond hair flopped forward. None of us put our hands to our stomachs. I keep my nausea down at the floor of my abdomen, and stand perfectly still. The air shimmers above the red pits on either side of us. The walls behind them are scorched black from the heat. I think about 50, who threw himself into a pit one morning before showers. It must have been years ago now, and every time I think of it I wish I had that kind of courage. A single yelp, then silence. Most pit-related accidents happen in the morning, so we all stand close to each other, uneasy at the center of the walkway, so that if one of us falls, we can pull him back. The blue eye watches from down the hall. I feel so sick I don’t even look for Terry. My bath pumps in the morning stimulant, and I feel much better. In fact, I feel powerful. I feel bold. I wait for Terry to get done with his shower and we follow the faded green line to Didactics, an activity cube full of small numbered rooms on the Northwest side of our homecube. Each Didactics room has a sliding door and an observation window. Beneath each window, a square of sheet metal is joined to the wall with rusty rivets. Terry nods my attention toward the sheet metal below his window. Its rivets have loosened. The other rehabilitants stream around us and into their rooms until we’re alone in the hall. I hold my breath, waiting for Terry to do something. The stimulant gives me confidence, but the longer we stand, the more nerve I lose. The sheet metal hangs at an angle, slightly away from the wall. Terry watches me, doesn’t move. Finally, because it feels like a lesser evil to act, I peel the sheet metal back and take a wincing look behind it. I immediately see the significance. I pull the metal farther from the wall. Inside are a cache of never-used ration tubes, six jugs of water and about fifty tubes of clear liquid I can’t identify. And next to those, a pile of vegetable seed packets. I let the metal snap back and it pings against the wall. I close my eyes, listening for the whir. No whir. We must be in the blue eye’s blind spot. I understand that this is no accident: Terry has pried the sheet metal off the wall. He has seen the contents of this locker, and chosen this moment to reveal them to me. A small, insistent echo whispers between my heartbeats: escape, it says. The ache of hope is so sharp and surprising that I almost reach out a hand to touch Terry, but he steps back and gives a little wave that I understand to mean, later. Outside my Didactics room I try to pull the sheet metal from the wall, but it holds fast. In the room I strap into my Didactics chair and the helmet creaks down onto my head. Calipers fit into the hollows beside my eyes. I don’t need to think about the lessons anymore. They’ve looped around three times. Physics is easy, and I know all the vocabulary that the big blue eye projects onto the wall. As I conjugate on the screenboard, a new sensation starts up in my breast. My head’s already flowing with the morning drug, but now there’s a new future opening before me. I let my thoughts wander to the aqueduct. I can’t imagine the joy of reaching that human spot, of being among the ruins, touching stone and mortar with my fingertips. Terry and I will scale the side, rest on the third tier and watch the brown sunset. I’ll nestle close to him for warmth. Together, we’ll yell, if we can find our voices, into the wind that tears back toward the Facility. But when it goes beyond the aqueduct, my imagination fails me. 65
My lesson switches to mathematics. I was on differential calculus, but now I’m back on shapes. I miss the tour groups that used to come and watch us through the observation windows. They were dressed in goggles and yellow gas masks. Some were clearly women. I felt their pride and admiration as I answered question after question correctly, and it seemed like we were a family, almost. The Facility would pipe woodwind-heavy music into the hallway, and then a soothing male voice recording would speak over it:
Exercise, medication and superior nutrition aren’t enough to keep these kids from relapsing. A good education is the key to successful rehabilitation. Here at Boy’s Juvenile Justice Facility Bravo we give our kids a second chance for a first-rate education with our proprietary Didactics System. Upon release, our rehabilitants have all the intellectual tools they’ll need to become meaningful members of society. Boy’s Juvenile Justice Facility Bravo: Retribution, Rehabilitation, Rejuvenation!
I’d love to hear that voice again, with his enthusiastic and cheerful jingoism. Paternal, jocular, that voice was like a tousling of the hair, a clap on the back. It implied happy futures that come just when earned, just when a debt has been worked off. If I could hear that voice again, I might never want to escape. The blue eye flickers. Then it goes out, and the triangles disappear from the wall. I feel the calipers loosening. The helmet creaks back toward the ceiling. A few seconds of darkness go by. Then the blue eye flickers back on again. The shapes reappear and the helmet lowers. The calipers pinch. The lights stay strong until the end of Didactics, when the chair releases me with a hydraulic hiss. In the afternoons we either stay in the wellness cube, working out with weights and treadmills, or we’re sent on reanimation missions. Today, 22, Terry and I are sent on a mission. The wind has died down. The three of us dress in our airtight suits and load into the transport vehicle. The blue eye on the exterior of our homecube extends on its stalk as we pass out of the yard and into the homecube graveyard. A few of the blue eyes on the sides of other homecubes waver to life as we pass, but most stay dark. Homecube 9’s eye has fallen off of its stalk and lies grey and dead in the yard, covered with grime, and the vehicle must swerve to avoid it. We squelch out to the Facility perimeter, where a portal in a double-wide silo slides open. An eye nestled in a socket inside the vehicle sputters to life as we cross over the threshold into the wastezone. It watches us jostle, strapped into our seats. We don’t look directly at it. We don’t look at each other. After a couple of hours we arrive at the reanimation site. It used to be hills and swamp, but now these few acres are tilled almost flat, and the groundwater has been pumped out. The earth is dark brown, and not wastezone grey. When the three of us get to work outside with power-hoes, the blue eye extends on a stalk out of the roof of the car. We break the earth into clods with wide wedge-shaped blades. Then we unspool high-pressure hoses from the vehicle and spew a frothy chemical evenly over the ground. All I can hear inside my mask is my own breathing. The three of us working in our bulky suits look like slow-motion ghosts. I surreptitiously lift my nozzle and spray Terry, quicklike, hoping to make it look like an accident. His unwieldy arms wheel for a moment, and then he goes down, slowly, and lands on his rump. A splash of froth extends from his helmet to his thigh. It takes him a few minutes to get up. It was worth it. My laughter echoes inside my suit, and I see Terry is laughing, too, brushing himself off. We return the hoses, and affix another attachment to the end of the hoes. We mull the froth into the earth. Finally, we walk over the mulled earth, sprinkling white alkali powder all around us like seeds. This, the tour groups use to be told, is a counter-measure against the wastezone’s ground acidity. The voice told them that eventually our efforts would restore this area to fecundity. I squint my eyes. The ground does look tillable, and for a moment I imagine vegetal shapes rampaging up through the ground, like the vegetal life that used to exist before the spread of the wastezone. I can’t hold onto the image. 22 leans on his hoe, facemask pointed at the brown and hazy sky. It makes me sad that I don’t know 22—I have no idea what he’s thinking. I look up, too. I make a bargain. If the sun comes out, just for a moment, I’ll never leave. I’ll stay at the Facility gladly and not try to escape. But nothing changes in the sky except the onset of dusk, and I find 66
that this time I’m relieved: I’m relieved that the sun didn’t come out and ratify the bargain. We load up our equipment and get back in the vehicle. It bumps back through the wastezone and deposits us back inside our homecube. The purple line leading from the transportation cube to health services takes us passed Didactics. Terry pauses in front of his Didactics room and lets 22 pass. He gives me a significant look, pushing an object into the locker behind the loose sheet metal. I suppress a gasp, and quickly look down at my hands, as though that would make me innocent. It’s the wedge-shaped head of Terry’s hoe. He must have opened his suit, out in the wastezone, in order to drop it into his pants. I listen for the whirring but don’t hear anything. Terry and I give one another a goodbye look as we lay ourselves out on the health services beds next to 22, and the quarantine sheeting closes over us. We don’t know how long it’ll be until we see each other again. A couple of weeks or months. The beds seal with a little sucking sound. A drug cloud hisses out of some vents in the plastic, and sleep pulls at me, and I submit to it. When I wake, I immediately put my hand to my face. I find that my beard has grown about two inches since I was put to sleep. The room is silent except for some ticking in the vents. Both beds next to me are empty. My head’s foggy, but the nighttime drug courses through it, and my body feels strong and healthy. I’m ravenous. I wobble down the hall, dried-up dreams of escape rattling around in my mind. I follow the red line to dinner. The blue eye in the hallway looks weak tonight, weaker than I’ve ever seen it, its light barely visible. The red pits, on the other hand, seem to be glowing more ferociously, yellow rather than red. The hallway is sweltering. Whatever accelerant combusts down in the pits must have changed. Any hotter and it would be difficult to get through the hall. I make another bargain: turn off the pits, and I’ll never think about leaving again. Leave the blue eye here if you must—surveillance, easily understood—but take away these senseless sources of terror that seem, after years here, to get more and more malicious. The eye stays dim; the pits stay hot and yellow. Another bargain, gone. I join Terry for dinner. Neither of us plays with his ration tube. We both squeeze the paste into our mouths, swallow, squeeze again. When we’re done I wait until the blue eye has swung creaking away from us and give Terry a look that means, how long was I out? He nods his head: a long time. The next day we have free time in the yard, and I see how long it’s been: the crack in the silo has widened, and the silo leans at a thirty-degree angle. Smoke no longer pours out of it. Terry and I sit in the mud. The blue eye hasn’t even turned on: it sits erect but grey on its stalk. Terry glances at it quickly and then writes some words in the mud: the machine is dead. I rub and rub the words out with my toe and listen for the whirring. No whirring comes from the eye. My heart pounds. After some time, I draw a figure in the mud. I draw shower spouts around the figure, and place a question mark next to it: I mean, what about the drug? He writes, Don’t worry. I’m still trying to puzzle out what he means while we wait for our showers. At dinner we get our rations, but the blue eye is out, hanging to one side. Our sleeping pods slide over us as they’re supposed to. Sleep overtakes me almost immediately. I wake to a scraping sound. As my mind comes to, queasy with withdrawal, Terry pries the lid off of my sleeping pod. It’s still night and the cube is quiet except for the sound of rhythmic breathing from the pods. I lie motionless for a moment in the bed, and then climb out, shaking. The sleeping quarters are dark—the blue eye lifelessly hanging, like the head of a sleeping man—but there’s enough light to see that Terry has made two satchels out of some old silver shirts with frayed hems. He shows me the contents of mine: the rations, three jugs of water, seeds, and several of the tubes of clear liquid from his Didactics locker. In the dim, I read the label of the tubes: AddEase, 10 ccs. Terry takes one, makes an opening motion, and flicks his hand over above his mouth, indicating I should drink the liquid inside. I’m bewildered and scared, but that doesn’t keep me from noting that my communication with Terry has advanced a step: sign language. I hardly think about it. I remove the cap and drink the contents of the tube. My withdrawal symptoms abate all at once. Slowly the illness spirals out of me like water from a drain. Love for Terry brims in my 67
chest. It overflows, starts to trickle out of my eyes. I place my hand over my heart, gazing at Terry. He smiles back at me. He reaches out and takes my large, steady hand with his smaller, jumpier one. It’s cool and calloused and full of energy. I’m surprised that I’ve never touched him before, and I feel a moment of sadness that we’ve never had the opportunity before. Our hands fit together perfectly. Terry pulls me up, and we walk together out of the homecube, first between the red pits which glow malignantly in the dark, and then passed the dead blue eye on the outside of the building. We cross over the marshy ground to the cracked silo. Terry touches the opening with his fingertips. He nods for me to touch it too, so I do. It’s warm, but not hot, and there’s no electrical current. If we can clamber up, we can wiggle through the crack, and jump down on the other side. Terry cups his hands so that I can place a foot on them and vault up into the crack. I swing upward, and hoist myself into the fissure, wedging my arms and legs against the walls on either side. The walls feel smooth and glassy. I release one arm to reach down and pull Terry up. On our first attempt he walks up the wall, but doesn’t quite make it to the crack. On our second he reaches the crack, but then slips back down. That’s when we hear the whirring. It comes from the external blue eye, which has flickered to life, and is extending forward and upward on its stalk. Desperately I pull, but Terry once again doesn’t make it and falls back. We’re both panting. The whirring gets louder, and then I see a transport vehicle exit the homecube and start out across the yard toward us. I heave Terry up and this time he gets purchase and wedges himself into the crack. I look out the other side. In the faint skyglow I see the skeleton of the aqueduct in the distance. I start to make my way hand over hand to the other side of the silo, my satchel in my teeth. If we make it out at the other side, we might be able to outrun the transport vehicle, since it has to go through the double-wide silo at the other side of the Facility in order to get into the wastezone. I’m a few feet from the edge when I hear a strangled cry behind me. Terry’s shoe has lodged too deeply in the crack and though he shakes his leg, he can’t loose it. The whirring reaches a high, frenzied pitch. I hear the transport vehicle’s engine stop below the silo, and I reach back with one arm to try to pull Terry from where he’s stuck, but I’m at too awkward an angle and my arm doesn’t reach him. We have a moment to look into one another’s eyes. Terry’s are wide and beautiful and ravenous. Funny: I never saw that hunger in his eyes, because I’d been too numb to look closely enough. I’m shocked. I feel the pull of my own yearning, buried beneath so many layers of defeat that I can hardly apprehend it, and try to express it in my own eyes. Terry starts to say something aloud, but his voice croaks and dies in his throat. Desperately, I start to shimmy back to the spot he’s stuck in, but his look stops me. He waves: Go, go, go, and then throws his satchel toward me. I catch it in one hand. It’s bulkier and heavier than mine, and in a moment I realize why: it has the hoe head in it. I understand that Terry’s plan includes planting seeds in a far-off place, and that he has thought way beyond the aqueduct. I see how much it has cost him to come up with this plan. For the first time I see how much it will cost me. The world, all at once, seems to flourish and grow all around me. My heart, painfully full, leaps and expands in my breast. I don’t think about bargains—only about futures that someone else makes, and futures I make myself. At that moment something pulls Terry from his spot, and he disappears backward and away from me. I look down and see his shoe still wedged in the crack. And then I see the transport vehicle’s blue eye, having stretched up out of its recess, gazing into the crack at me from atop its stalk. The eye starts to move forward into the crack, and I scramble away from it. I climb the rest of the way across to the other side. I throw the satchels to the ground, and heave my body down after them. I stand still long enough to hear Terry’s hoarse cry of pain, and then I begin to move. I grab the satchels and I’m running. I run and run. I don’t even cry. I just keep running into the pallid morning, which unfurls, brightening, in front of me. The aqueduct, backlit by the morning sun, looks unspeakably beautiful, and it beckons as though sanctuary can really be found there. And I guess whatever’s beyond it beckons to me, too. And as I run, my heart pumps words through my veins, go, go, go.
Fall Overlook (2014) by John D. Godfrey
TO KATE by Tim Kerlin
1. The Dreaming As if it knew the exact moment the world fell out of true, as if it felt when the kindled thought grew briefly luminous, then cold, when the dreaming calcified into mere misery, mere hope your voice, at once naked and profoundly clothed, thick with rage and awe and the purest density of human hunger, from across the formless pre-dawn stupor called, comforted: this is almost the portion you have craved, this is almost the first love, you have almost found your fugitive grace, you have only to ask it, to take it, to truly, to brutally use it. 2. The Hounds of Love And once the lover’s basic mystery has been granted, what is left but to reject it utterly? ‘I will not allow you to be such. I would rather eat my own right hand.’ But being consumed is no longer a choice, neither are you able write your way out of this locked room. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. The cat-shaped clock on the wall keeps its secrets. When is the big reveal? . . . Whose blood is this? – I demand to know where you are taking me! ‘Yeah, yeah, save it for the man upstairs, buddy. Until then, chew on this: the victim was found facedown on a Moroccan rug, heart and liver absconded with. Tell us, when was the last time you – where were you on the night – how many times have you wanted – ?’ These questions, these dreams, oh Author, they never end?
02.02.2014 by Mitch Sisskind
Adderall pills George Henry obtained From Russian doctor in a strip mall Thirty milligrams swallowing one of Those babies and the baby goosing him On Third Street Promenade entering Sur le Table store of all kitchen stuff, Blenders, knives, pots and pans, aprons, Toques, merciless espresso machines. His brain pleasantly accelerating: memories, Conversations of fifty years ago, old movies, Song lyrics, literary references, neologisms, Witticisms, a tingling in neck, legs, arms, Awe at the universe in its vastness but Sudden pitbull-like aggressive inclination Toward espresso machine monsters. “You’re all a bunch of phonies!” he cried. Outside again he bet ten million dollars On the Super Bowl, he got the Nobel Prize, In a peculiar gait he ran to the street corner And back, he peed in a Starbucks toilet, At high volume he recited misquoted Line from the old Carl Sandburg poem -- Chicago is the world’s greatest hog butcher. “I’m originally from Chicago!” he screamed. Police. A pair of big boys. “Good morning sir.” He laughed to see their grilled cheese sandwich Faces uncomprehending but not wholly lacking Sympathy as he took out his penis and they drew Their stun guns. Beatifically he forgave them -- To George Henry there is no zero -- misquoting Incredible Shrinking Man of Eisenhower era Lifetimes before the big boys were born.
ON T.R. HUMMER’S SKANDALON a review by Christopher Cadra
Drawing on somewhat esoteric sources, including, among many other works, the Book of Enoch, Hummer’s work, in parts, is inevitably esoteric itself. The reader would do well to acquaint his or herself with some of the quoted material, in context, and also to do so before or while reading. One should at the very least take in the word, and title of the work, Skandalon, which is a stumbling block, but beyond that, it is a stumbling block that leads one to sin, disobedience, and evil. Get to know the word, and read up on its origins and uses. 18 prose poems titled “Victims of the Wedding,” are spread throughout the work, with the appropriate number appearing after each title. Many of these poems feature dialogue between an angel and a daemon (who are often observing and commenting upon a man and a woman), which vaguely brings to mind the correspondence in C.S Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, though an actual comparison of the two works would be superficial. The dialogues that take place in Skandalon may not be wholly novel, but they are most certainly pronouncedly Hummer’s. In fact, echoes from poets and writers past appear here and there throughout the work, both within and without the “Wedding” sequence, but Hummer hides his influences well, and as a result, the poems come off as very learned but also distinct. For example: “She swims / To music that no musician is playing / and will never be sung and will never be / Written—the music of consciousness, purer / than water or sky” recalls Keats’ “unheard melodies” from his “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” but the poem quoted is titled and about “Sappho” and bears little resemblance to Keats. One poem’s title, “Certain Slant,” brings to mind Dickinson’s “There’s a certain Slant of light,” but the poem itself is hardly Dickinson and unmistakably Hummer. “The Nietzsche Horse,” a terrific poem that focuses on the famous story of Nietzsche’s breakdown, in which he throws his arms around a horse to protect it from a whipping, is expressed from the point of view of the horse. The poem does not seem to me to be entirely earnest, and is somewhat self-aware, but the thinking horse reminds one much more of Laska, Levin’s dog from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, than of Mister Ed. The horse is a horse, but it’s also quite the narrator, and watching Nietzsche go mad from the horse’s point of view is not only interesting, but also oddly gratifying. “Shackelton’s Biscuit” is a poem about a biscuit, taken by Sir Ernest Shackleton on his Antarctic expedition, which sold for 1,250 Euro at a Christie’s auction. The poem is preceded by a poem titled, “Adornment on an Ancient Tomb in Tibet,” and followed by a poem titled, “The Last Meal of the Iceman.” Point being, Hummer retains the idea and theme of the “Skandalon” throughout the work, but his doing so does not limit him or his poems in any way. The overarching theme of the work may be apparent from the beginning and throughout, but poem after poem, one is reading about something new, something different, when compared to the previous poem. In a collection featuring over 60 poems, there isn’t a single poem that I would consider needless or superfluous. Hummer sums up the work entire with a line from the poem “Post-American,” which is: “There’s a chair for a daemon at the table. There’s a residue of genius on the lawn.” *** Born in Mississippi in 1950, educated at the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Utah, where he received a PhD., T.R. Hummer is a poet, professor, critic, and editor whose work has appeared in journals and magazines including The New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the Georgia Review, among many others. He has received numerous honors and awards throughout his career, including two Pushcart Prizes. He has taught at numerous colleges, including Kenyon College, Middlebury College, Virginia Commonwealth University, et al. He is currently the director of the creative writing program at Arizona State University.
CURE Chernobyl (2014) by HarrietL
by Emily Glossner Johnson
We had a week left to live, two weeks at the most. We were all sick by then. The city was gone. After seeing that cloud, there was no denying it. Our village was northwest of the city, and we had nothing left to do but wait for the radiation to kill us. That was when Richie Parker came to town. The weird thing was, Richie Parker was the name of a kid in our neighborhood who had drowned twenty-seven years before the war. We had been playing ghost in the graveyard, but by the time Richie disappeared, we were busy catching fireflies at the edge of the field. He had drowned in the swampy little pond in the field. It wasn’t even a pond, really—it was more of a big puddle that came with the rain, but they say you can drown in a bucket of water, so I guess the water was all that mattered. Chuck Morgante found Richie lying face down in the swamp. We all forgot the stuff about first aid we’d learned in 74
school, so when Chuck pulled Richie onto the dry grass, no one knew what to do with him. Chuck ran home to tell Richie’s parents while we stood in a circle around Richie, staring at his bluish face, open mouth, and wide eyes that made us think of fish eyes bulging up from wet sockets. But then Doug Bayer descended on Richie, lifted his arms over his head, and pressed on his chest. Christine Purcell rolled him onto his side and thumped his back. The rest of us surrounded him and did what we could to try to revive him. We lifted his legs until he was nearly upside down; we clamped our mouths over his and blew in air; we shook him by the shoulders and patted his face. But it was all too late. That was twenty-seven years ago. Twenty-seven years later, the man who came to town who happened to be called Richie Parker told us he had a cure for us. We met him at the public library where we had taken to holding all our meetings. “It’s a sure cure,” he said, “and after you’re better, Albany’s still standing, so I’m headed east and you can all come with me.” “But the radiation,” someone said. “The cure won’t just make you better,” he said, “it’ll protect you from the radiation. It’ll be like there is no radiation.” “How long can that last?” someone else said. “As long as you live, which should be to a good old age. You can live in the houses, eat the food, drink the water, breathe the air—all of it as safe as before.” “How do you know Albany’s still standing?” a person in the back of the crowd said. “I’ve been there,” Richie said. “I’ve been to a few other places as well. And I’ve cured several other towns just like this one. Those people are headed to Albany as we speak.” “You’re a liar!” a man’s voice cried out. “A false messiah!” Heather Dunn said, because everything for her was about the messiah. “What do you have to lose?” Richie said. “I’m telling you I have a cure. It’ll either kill you, cure you, or do nothing. As it is now, you’re already dead, so what do you have to lose?” “Let us see this cure.” Laurence Pietro said. Richie Parker opened a large briefcase that was filled with vials, tiny hypodermic needles, and little packages of alcohol swabs. “I’ve got other cases besides this one,” he said. “I’ve got all the cure anyone could need.” “What is it?” Andrea Meznick said, stepping close to the case and passing her hand over the vials. “If it’s iodine,” Jack Andolina said, “it ain’t gonna do shit now.” “It isn’t iodine,” Richie said. “Then what is it?” “It’s a cure.” Bill Donovan, the mayor of our town, spoke up: “What exactly do you want from us, Mr. Parker?” “I want you. I want people. I’ve seen enough corpses. I want living people to go to Albany. We can all of us start over.” “Why should we go to Albany if we get well?” Bill Donovan said. “Why shouldn’t we stay here?” “Because Albany is better and brighter. There isn’t the fallout—the dust and the ash. It was untouched by the war.” “What do you want from us?” Buddy Sanders said. “You want money?” “What good is money going to do me?” He was right. There was no use for money anymore. He was also right about having nothing to lose. Our hair and teeth were falling out. We couldn’t keep food down, and some of us had started bleeding from our rectums. It must have been the thought of this that led Mary Pickering to say, “Will it reverse the damage already done?” “Look at me,” Richie said, and we did. He had a full head of glossy auburn hair, pink skin, white teeth. He stood upright and his hands didn’t tremble. His chest rose and fell as though he were breathing the cleanest mountain air. “I’ll take the cure,” Andrea Meznick said. “Me, too!” said Pete Cummings. 75
Acceptance rippled through the crowd. We formed a line that stretched back through the nonfiction section and into the periodicals room. One by one, we stepped up to Richie Parker, and one by one, he swabbed our arms and gave us the injection. All of us took the cure except for Heather Dunn. “It’s the work of the devil!” she said, roaming up and down the line. “The goddamned war is the work of the devil!” Buddy Sanders shouted back at her. “We must pray,” Heather said. “Please, everyone, pray with me. Pray to the Lord God Almighty to save our souls.” She fell to her knees in front of the reference desk, head bowed, but her attention was quickly drawn to the people at the front of the line. “It’s a sin! Behold the will of God and praise the glory of His risen son.” “Shut the fuck up,” Al Wenchel said. The next morning, we met at the library.
“More people are dead,” Simon Cort said. “So much for your fucking cure!” “It was too late for them,” Richie said. “What about the rest of you? How do you feel?” Some of us had lost more hair; a few had lost more teeth. Hal Eggleston was at home because he was bleeding too badly to come to the library. Barbara Tollers was delirious. Neither of them would last the day. “You’re full of shit, Parker.” “Yeah, why don’t you pack up and get the hell out of here? What are you staying around for?” “I’m waiting for you all to be well,” Richie said. “I’m waiting for you to set out to Albany with me.” “The temptation of the devil!” Heather Dunn said. “Save your souls. Praise the Lord. Praise Jesus!” “You said it would reverse the damage,” Laurence Pietro said. “Well, it was just too late for some people. It can’t repair tissue that’s already disintegrated.” “You’re a liar!” “I haven’t lied. Just wait and you’ll see.” And so we waited, but still we got sicker and sicker. The hours passed like days. Richie Parker talked about Albany, about all the clean neighborhoods and houses and stores. The food and water and uncontaminated things that could be ours. Still we died. Richie Parker continued to tell us stories about the wonders of Albany, excited, anticipatory, but fewer and fewer of us showed up at the library to listen. Eventually, there were only eight of us. Heather Dunn had gone to be with her Lord and Savior. The next day, only five of us remained. Still we listened to Richie Parker and waited. The day came when I couldn’t get out of bed. The sheets were soaked with blood and my mouth was empty of teeth. I slept and dreamed. It was twenty-seven years ago and we’d just pulled Richie Parker onto the dry banks of the big puddle we called a pond. I saw his eyes again, his protruding fish eyes, only this time they rolled back and looked at me. I woke to weakness and nausea, and then slept again. The time of my end was drawing near. I dreamed of Albany, that city shining in the sunlight of a new day, the neighborhoods filled with the laughter of children and the smoke from backyard barbecues, the rumble of lawnmowers mowing pristine lawns, the lush trees, the asphalt of driveways hot and even, the puddles of water from night rain, the fireflies at the edge of the field. The fireflies…
CLOCK IS TICKING by Mitch Sisskind
You live long enough This day will come. You going to get Your teeth fixed Or fix your car? Can’t fix them both Because no man can. So fix your teeth Or else your car. Clock is ticking But I know what Your answer will be! Same damn answer As your daddy!
INVITATION TO BREAKFAST a story by Ken Poyner I am going to become a sex legend! That is all I can figure this could be. I have seen a crowded few, nearly identical, blue beings wandering about, all looking as though simply being nearly identical and blue were an end in itself, and all regarding me like the red splash of oddity I must be on this planet. Air and gravity are similar to Earth’s, so you would expect the biology to be similar. Not exact, mind you. But any planet is going to express itself based on the elements it has to work with; and, from what I could tell on my survey orbits, this could be Earth’s ugly younger sister. A few miners, a cargo boat of colonists, and a sprinkling of exo-biologists: mankind could make something out of this place. A few more passes, and the holographic memory cube would have been filled with imagery and data and an early analysis of economic potential - and I could have been on my way home: a week’s limp to a hyperdrive discontinuity, a few folds of space, and a tedious slide back to an Earth orbiting station to relay the happy news. But no. Metal fatigue on an engine mount and I go splash in a shallow sea, rattle around and bump into unconsciousness, then wake up naked here. Here, as in on the planet; but where here exactly is, and where the remains of the ship are, are a mystery to me. And my clothes? I could break out of this enclosure. It appears to be made of an organic fiber, held together with ties just as organic. Pre-industrial. I have not tested it. Why? Where would I go? And I am beginning to think this episode might come to a good end. One of my captors pays particular interest to me. From the sweep of the eyes, the width of the hips, the brushed back forehead, I am sure this one is female. It is a sure tip off that it seems she has magnificent labia just where they are supposed to be. Huge, gently vibrating labia. The size makes me wary; the vibration makes me quiver with - forgive me, considering my circumstance – but, I admit it, with anticipation. It has only been three weeks since I left the station, and I was no stranger to sex there. Oh no. In full gravity, in zero gravity, with safety straps, in air or within water or slimy with mist, and with a variety of species. Sex is one of the universals. You will never meet a species that does not like to mate. The ones that can take or leave mating tend to die out early on in their evolutionary existence. There are different ways and different rites and different parts to come together, and sometimes it takes a village, but any creature worth the soiled conversation thinks: air, energy, now make as many copies of myself as I can. It is just the way it is. Any other plan gets left behind. Not to brag, but I can keep up with the best of them. 78
Oh, yes, I’ve had my romps, more than I care to count; but that does not mean I am not looking forward to this one. The crest along the top of her skull is not unseductive. And I can imagine uses for the three tentacles on either side of her waist. Those tentacles swim in the air now as though they might be the sugared tongue of her language: hypnotic, calming, speaking the wonder of me to her sisters, who eye the whole of me from a small distance behind her. When she walks on her tri-jointed legs, the hips sway as though to exaggerate the moves of a human woman; and the tentacles adjust, seemingly without missing a word. With every slow, considered step, her head ever so slightly counter balances, and I think somewhere in her physiology there is a smile. I cannot help it. I never could help it, and I stiffen: rising and pointing like the direction marker it has always been for me. That way, that way! And she notices. She and her sisterhood behind her – each dipping a head to the side and focusing the last of her line of eyes. A dozen of them maybe, a dozen, and I pray for strength and afterwards a good salvo of rest.
Distant Warrior (2010) by Mark Johansen
The door I had not noticed suddenly but slowly swings outward and I stand flat footed, hands on my side, no attempt to hide my most tempting weapon. This planet’s surely best representative female waits in the doorway and then elegantly one of her tentacles slowly extends, dancing in the air like the incense in an early evening sultriness, reaching with sure excitement, sure understanding, for my now throbbing and almost painfully ready member. Tip to tip, we touch. With barely a burn of inhuman ecstasy, this is electricity. Electricity! And the tentacle wraps around the most expressive of me, slithering into a coil of expectation and appreciation, and the first pull is intuitively gentle, enticing a great writhing out of me, and then the second tug, directed, harder …… And the sound coming out of me is like no other I have ever learned to make; and before I can will my blood back into protective custody, there is the third scream-collapsing bend and crack and yank and I am thinking why, this is not anything like sex, no, nothing at all like it; my rakishly random ideas of what else could they want of me clouding into stone just before the thinking of me is by the now newly purposed tap forever let out.
CHTHONIC SHIBBOLETH by Paul Etheredge Miss Amontillado Ampersand anisette brunette with her pendulous amulet hanging between pale breasts aquamarine ankh absinthe nth concision of expression in one pearly teardrop aperitif afternoon an arabesque of brown hair and leaves les feuilles mortes... sunken treasure of three worlds with pine needles floating rust-coloured on the surface of the pond a transcendentalist in bitter Amer-ica (arriere-pensee) this autumnal culture West of Europe Far East from Japan giraffe gamelans and cedar knees by that old pond the only pond she is stripped bare of her white cotton shirt of her brandywine brassiere too and now only her mother-white milk-warmed skin of Indian summer of Debussy mist and goosebumps...braille
her pink purple silver-dollar halos stippled nipples as in a Modigliani Quetzalcotl and Queequeg by day a ballerina doing The Dying Swan against some far-off balustrade but now just a blue-veined delftware nude enjoying a bottle of Beaujolais by the water’s edge in her mind she is removed in time to the summer as “each pomegranate bursts and murmurs with bees” her skin was honeyd ‘gainst the white muslin tight bodice and the bonnet of her soutien-gorge was smooth against her lover’s cheek she is both Jeanne d’Arc and the mother at the stake with her newborn... watching herself be consumed by fire and I am just the author the narrator Paul Th. Etheredge but back to our heroine a lovely Dane & (her sobriquet) Anna, her friends might call her... if she had any she is my caoutchouc Chou Chou my bass clarinet floating in the haze 81
levitating in the fog the sugarplum celesta twinkles in the shadows of die Unsichtbar Chor and their clouds of sound Cecil B. Demille shouts, “Mijn naam ist Rijn” in a chiaroscuro moment and the chthonic shibboleth is sealed forever 888 ADFGVX 184 SU 123 422 Wien #1507 (A=435hz.) C.A.B.A.L. L.H.O.O.Q. crestfallen in the Catskills Anna retreats to her old favorite meditation spot: Opus 40 I cuspidor cusp spider spit (ping!) like King Oliver riffing on this trope whilst trying to avoid freezing to death it’s true last night my ink was frozen here in Chicago and I slept surrounded by tympani drums though it beats the boxcar I rode in on somewhere near Des Moines I had a hallucination in my protein-deficient synesthesia I dreamt of Miss Amontillado Ampersand to the lovely strains of a diamondback diapason-a positively diabolical 82
prelude to the afternoon of a hobo [Horns within.] me and the “drugstore druid” riding a dromedary ‘round the South Side of Chicago looking for paregoric ...oh this must have been around 1929...yes and December! that poor ol’ camel looked as elegiac as the middle movement from Grieg’s Piano Concerto... out there in the cold and all... I was going by the name Esperanto Benelux after my stage name from my Paramount sides and that dream of Anna was like a gargoyle in garter belts: a rude awakening of what a bum artist like me would never have... past my prime so strung-out on booze that I’ve started drinking essence of peppermint... my vocal cords all but burned-out... Who am I? And who is SHE? Is she every woman I ever had and lost? Is she every time I threw it all away? in Houston, a nightmare and in Des Moines, a dream and my hometown of San Antonio... well... it’s an imbroglio (to be sure!) as the sword of Damocles threatens to cut the Gordian knot 83
Leon Bakst starts set-designing my dreams (!) and I feel like the interlocutor for an olio filled with all the psychic energy of Winston-Salem... Raleigh-Durham... (ping!) Fresh Since 1822 I was lucky to live to the ripe old age of 107 but these lachrymal vases penultimate to the deathbed cadence... my lady-in-waiting in some linden-lined paradise where minstrelsy dances on the breeze and everyone goes by the name mistral e.e. mistral d.w. mistral paul th. mistral sobre saut somersault [abrupt modulation] back to Opus 40 and this mysterious Anna like scenes from my childhood each one authored by Janus Florestan und Eusebius palimpsest a pavane hangs in the air pendulous as the breasts... that blushmantle which bookends the pharaoh’s talisman what Webster calls that “beacon to guide seamen” and as I dream I see her dreams in comic strip bubbles a dream within a dream Miss Amontillado Ampersand and how she longs to feel that summer in her heart 84
with its pithy pomegranates and dithering bumblebees yet Emily yes, Emily comes to fetch me from the dream in a stagecoach... she sounds the postilion [alarums and excursions] I find the radix to be a Stonehenge scarab a gold bug lady ladybug Anna a snowflake dancing in the refracted light of kaleidoscopic sumac... stockyards... cadmium rods... nuclear Anna in her dustbowl bikini both svelte and zaftig and Paul Th. Etheredge with his tumbleweed hair swimswamswum (ablaut) synapse firing the tarantula tango breasts as blue as a Gauguin mango spoonful (ping!) howlin’ at the moonful of Tele-Promp-Ter Blues played with Thelonious acciaccaturas... I am crushed. The dream is over. Might as well go back to Tupelo. Back to drivin’ a truck. Uncle Sam’s a vampire a welterweight werewolf and I’m just a hobo with arms akimbo like Les Demoiselles d’Avignon wearing my zucchetto in a Babylonian captivity. 85
ETHAN AYCE RAMIREZ INTERVIEWS GRAPHIC ARTIST TOPHER SIPES
I would like to start by thanking you for allowing us some insight into you as an artist. You’re welcome and thank you for the opportunity to share what I do. Topher, your artistic endeavors seem to know no bounds. We have seen your work take both digital and physical forms, from abstract paintings, to life drawings all the way over to live dance accompaniment even technical product design. What keeps you branching out so far as opposed to finding the one art form and focusing your efforts there? Good question. An expanded definition of my performance group, ARTheism will help here. Simply put, the word is pointing to a religion of art, art as a divine practice and the belief that inspiration can be found everywhere if one is open to it. Therefore, while living in an omnidirectional inspirational space, there are many tools available for visual communication. “Cetacean Steamograghy” drawing created with highlighter, calligraghic pen, gel Viewers can respond stronger or weaker to different pen and drafting pencil on toned paper. Created to the live music of Ashleigh mediums of expression. I consequently create in a Stone, Michael Garfield and For Elise at Triple Crown in San Marcos, Texas. variety of methods that will resonate differently among viewership as opposed to attempting to create one thing for everyone.
Practicing multiple forms of art is like speaking several languages - this gives us the ability to increase our mental and communication abilities, widening the tapestry of human expression and connection. Relatedly, my main foundation is visual art but is further enriched through experience and education with music and dance - musically with keyboards, electric, acoustic & classical guitars - dance-wise with modern, abstract movement arts such as object manipulation / flow arts (hoop dance & levi stick), contact improvisation and ecstatic dance. These different expressive backgrounds cross pollinate one another and allow me to approach each medium through the lens of another, for example, treating drawing on paper as a dance. I also periodically find myself in event production and community art organizing which exposes me to a wide variety of expression from others. Examples of this include branding Art Outside 2014, Texas’ largest camp out art festival, art directing the Texas Wild Rice Festival, serving as VP of the San Marcos Area Arts Council, being a part of the Third Coast Visions art collective and gallery PR & coordination at the Tantra Coffeehouse. When it comes to your “fine art” pieces where does the inspiration for these abstracted backdrops and environments come from? TS: The ARTheism definition above applies here again, so potentially from anywhere. Many of my digital painting works are site specific, projected installations that draw upon the space in which I create them. I may sample textures in the local environment, repurposing them into digital brushes I can control via digital drawing Wacom Tablet. In some cases, the surface upon which I project directly influences the work, such as the piece, “Om Vibes Cavernous Gathering” when I projected onto the inside of a cave wall allowing me to literally trace the cracks and contours, letting the cave speak to form the underpainting of the final work. To borrow a term from author Richard Doyle, PhD - my work is in a sense, “ecodelic” - I’m tuning my awareness towards an ecosystemic interdependence on all things, which feeds back into my actions in the environment.
Letting go is a critical component of my fine art. By taking chances through automatic drawing or allowing my hand to dance without a preconceived goal when beginning, I am able to find forms in the chaos, i.e. pareidolia. There are pushes and pulls, crests and troughs between letting go and concretizing form during the creative process. Dreams, inner worlds and visions have also played roles in my work. I’ve been consistently documenting my dreams for over the past 10 years and over the past couple have led workshops on lucid dreaming, dream recall and dreamwork in general as a wholistic practice towards living more lucidly. Putting time into this daily ritual has gifted me a wealth of imaginative pools to dip into. Do you start out with a finished goal in mind? Or do you allow the process to find it’s way to the finished piece? It depends on the piece, though many works are treated as structured improvisations similar to the dance of letting go described above. There are times where I come to the table with certain tools of intention to work with though I may not initially know how they’ll play out by the end. I enjoy being surprised by the finished work. You have collaborated with live performers such as musicians and dancers. How did this process of live digital animation come about? Initially after receiving my communication design degree, I was working full time designing large scale, interactive products for playgrounds and theme parks. During that time in the office, I was regularly inspired by the design work found elsewhere in the entertainment industry such as the concept art for films and video games. At the time, Android Jones was working in the game industry and I viewed a video of him demonstrating how he used the open source drawing program, Alchemy. I experimented with it myself while listening to music and found myself treating it like a visual instrument of improvisation with my Wacom Tablet. In 2010, a friend, photographer Eric Morales invited me to digitally project this art live at his studio apartment for a private party. The results were well received and it was suggested I collaborate with the musician, Roger Sellers. I found it easy to create to his music and I began to project my art over him onstage during his musical performances. My animation accompanying dance was a parallel, organic development. At SXSW 2008, I found myself playing the role of stage hand to the first public performance of Phadroid, Android’s dance-mation project with partner Phaedra. Being so close to the stage, I captured a number of close up photos of their show. At SXSW 2011, I was projecting to the live music of Josiah Gabriel and had placed a female mannequin torso onstage as a projection prop. A co-worker of mine from then Aquarena Center, Samantha Beasley, excitedly asked if she could dance in front of my projections during the next set with Roger Seller’s music. We did so, and soon started to rehearse together in her house’s dance studio. After our first planned performance at a private art show was met with cheers and tears, we knew we should continue to work together consistently and establish a creationship. We began to receive a number of regular bookings and we soon chose our stage name from my Facebook religious status, ARTheism. We intentionally share our work as “prayerformances”, have developed a language of light based contact improvisation, choose the music very carefully and she is adept at using her face to emote a wide range of experience to an audience. Since then, I’ve been able to collaborate with dozens of other creatives onstage, including musicians, movement artists and visual artists. My early dreams of becoming an animator were met and surpassed by this process and I’ve had the honor to work with some of my favorite music acts from around the globe including folks such as Dixon’s Violin, Kalya Scintilla and The Blue Hit. You always seem to be working on something, how do you keep your head clear and ready to work creatively? From an early age, I’ve kept a sketchbook nearby almost everywhere I go, knowing that I always have the ability to document any inspiration I observe. This consistent practice has trained me to confront the potentially paralyzing infinite possibilities of blank page syndrome, helped keep my senses perked and ready to go. Are there any aspects of your life outside of art that you find vital to your creative process? Admittedly, it’s difficult for me to mentally disconnect other aspects of my life from art seeing them as essentially interrelated. However, some of the other things I find personally vital include a number of things outside of the studio and stage. Loving relationships, remembering our connection with nature, hiking, educational workshops, empowerment retreats, trav-
el, dance, dreamwork, listening to music and podcasts all play integral roles to my process. I’ve recently experimented with sensory deprivation floatation tanks and would like to see how more consistent sessions would effect my work. Over the next couple of years are there any directions you would like to see you and your artwork head towards? I’d like to continue putting new energy into my personal, fine art and find new ways to share it with people. I’ve been hoarding the energy cultivated in my sketchbooks for too long. The recent launch of my online store, Tophographics, is beginning to make this dream come true. I’m interested in working closely with a software developer that can meet some of my special needs as a visualist in order to optimize the potentials of using touchscreens, Wacom Tablets and other interactive interfaces as visual instruments for performance. Travel, or traversing novel territory, which can be external and internal voyages I find particularly compelling. I’d love to travel more when the opportunity arises. It was a pleasure speaking with you. From all of us here at The Literati Quarterly, thank you. You’re welcome. I’d like to extend a few special thank you’s for the work of Chuck Jones, all of the teachers I’ve learned from, Android & Phaedra of Phadroid, all of the artists I’ve collaborated with, the team at Art Seen Alliance, the love and acceptance of Kim Sway Gordon along with the support and encouragement that my family and friends have shown throughout my life.
“Dream Cubed” a digitsl painting created with a Wacom tablet, custom electron imagery of amethyst crystals, torn paper and suit specific crowd sourced photograghic textures. Creaded at the STEAM3 Conference 2014 in Austin Texas.
THE GREENING OF SPRING by SuzAnne C. Cole
“My goodness,” said Susan’s mom, pointing. “That vine up ahead is growing so fast you can almost see it.” Typical cliche thought Susan, but better than Mother’s constant complaints. “Yes,” she replied, “spring on this island does seem unusually fertile, doesn’t it?” But the vine’s behavior also bothered her. Cliche or no, she too could see its growth, inches in minutes, glossy dark leaves rampaging alongside a drainage ditch, thistle-like lavender blooms stretching higher and higher as though to pull down the sun. As they stared, the vine leaped the road and up a thin cedar, twining around and around the tree until it arced over with the weight, then split in two. Freeing itself from the wreckage, the vine stretched, testing the breeze with its tendrils. As a fat black crow declined to the ground to check the corpse of a toad, the vine snapped around it—a startled caw, a few feathers, then just the vine, glossier and heavier than ever. “Did you ever . . .?” exclaimed Susan’s mother. “Mom, we need to get away from here,” said Susan. “Now.” Snatching her mother’s hand, Susan tugged her off the road in a wide detour away from the vine. However, as they stepped cautiously through the high weeds lining the road, her mother suddenly cried out with pain. Horrified, Susan saw an errant strand of vine brushing her mother’s foot—why had she insisted on wearing fancy sandals for a walk? Hastily Susan stamped, crushing the tendril beneath her boot, but her mother’s skin already had an angry red welt. “Come on, Mom, hurry. We’ll put something on your foot at the lodge.” Within a few minutes they entered the clearing surrounding the rustic building where the Mother-Daughter Nature Heals Retreat was being held. On the front steps Wanda, a teen they’d met at dinner the night before, sat slumped over, crying. “What’s wrong?” asked Susan although she thought she knew. “There’s some dreadful weed out there,” sobbed Wanda. “We heard about it on the radio. Everyone else went off to fight it, but Mom told me to stay here. They’ve been gone for hours and I’m scared.” “Poor baby,” said Susan’s mom, sitting beside Wanda and hugging her. “Don’t worry. We’re here now. My Susan will think of something.” Struck first by her mother’s tenderness, a tenderness Susan couldn’t remember ever being expressed towards her, she then realized her mother was expressing faith in Susan’s abilities, which also had never happened before. “I don’t know what this voracious vine means or exactly what we’re going to do to get away from it, but I do know we’ll do everything we can,” said Susan. “And we will take care of you.” Wanda stopped crying and Susan realized the child’s worst fear was not the vine but of being alone. Susan herself felt a bit shaky at having taken on another responsibility, but with no other choice, she also felt a surge of strength. “Okay. Wanda, bring me that radio and extra batteries if you can find them. Grab some backpacks from the bunkroom. Mom, find a first aid kit and put some burn ointment on your foot. Then start collecting water and non-perishable food. Both of you put on long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and boots. Hurry. Be back here in ten minutes.” After they left, Susan ransacked the main room of the lodge, grabbing everything that might possibly be useful 90
against the murderous vine—a couple of fire extinguishers, a fire-starter, matches, some cans of sterno, even an antique bayonet hanging on the wall. “Here’s the radio,”said Wanda, returning with backpacks and handing Susan a portable radio and a handful of batteries. “Great, exactly what we need.” Turning it on, she prayed for an emergency broadcast with a strong signal. Scanning stations, she heard through static a serious voice: “Emergency. Residents . . . Sullivan Island. . . murderous. . . growth. Vine . . . susceptible . . . salt water. Helicopters . . . soak island . . . stay inside. . . board . . . windows.” “Okay,” said Susan as her mother returned. “Everyone put on a backpack. When I open the door, run for the small cabin on the other side of the clearing. We’ll push chests against the door and cover the windows with mattresses. We’re going to be saved, but I don’t know when. We just have to hang on.” “My mom. . .? ” cried Wanda. “I don’t know, honey. All we can do is hope for the best. Maybe the others went to the shore. They’ll be safe there. Let’s pray for them after we get our cabin fortified. Are we ready?” “Yes,” chorused her mother and Wanda. And together the three, holding hands, dashed for the cabin, just ahead of a moving hedge of vines.
The Olve Trees (1889) by Vincent van Gogh 91
Moon Bay (2014) by John D. Godfrey
CONTRIBUTORS ANSELM BERRIGAN is the author of several books of poetry, including Notes from Irrelevance, Zero Star Hotel, and Pregrets, a little booklet from Australia’s Vagabond Press that’s just been published. He is a co-chair of the writing program at the Bard College summer MFA program and a professor at Wesleyan University. He has also taught writing at Brooklyn College, Rutgers University, Pratt Institute, and the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa.
In 2001 Abrams published Aaron Rose Photographs, for which he supplied the introduction. In 2003 he was a fellow of the Rockefeller Study and Conference Center at Bellagio, Lake Como, and for 2004-2005, he held the Amy Clampitt residency in Lenox, Massachusetts. From 2005 to 2011 he lived mostly in London, teaching a course for the Poetry School, and one for the Arvon Foundation. His play, Lowell’s Bedlam, premiered at Pentameters Theatre in London in 2011. In 2012, he was a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, working on a translation of theDuino Elegies, and in 2013 Clare Hall made him a Life Fellow. In 2014 he won the international Andersen Prize, awarded for a fairy tale, by the Comune di Sestri Levante in Italy.
CHARLES COE is author of two books of poetry: All Sins Forgiven: Poems for my Parents and Picnic on the Moon both published by Leapfrog Press. His poetry has appeared in a number of literary reviews and anthologies, including Poesis, The Mom Egg, Solstice Literary Review, and Urban Nature. He is the winner of a fellowship in poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Charles’s poems have been set by a number of composers, including Beth Denisch, Julia Carey and Robert Moran. A short film based on his poem Fortress is currently in production by filmmaker Roberto Mighty. Charles is co-chair of the Boston Chapter of the National Writers Union, a labor union for freelance writers. He has been selected by the Associates of the Boston Public Library as a Boston Literary Light for 2014. His novella, Spin Cycles was published in November, 2014 by Gemma Media.
Corn currently resides in Rhode Island but spends part of every year in the United Kingdom. PAUL ETHEREDGE is a professional musician and an amateur film critic. He has worked with award-winning bands and major musicians such as Gordon Gano and Tony Scalzo, Chris “Frenchie” Smith and more. He has written music for actresses Nora Arnezeder and Scarlett Johansson. JOHN D. GODFREY considers himself a ‘spiritual existentialist’ and admits to being addicted to oil paint since the first day he tried it, 7 years ago. Whether painting the human form, impressionist landscapes or experimenting with abstract art, the process from concept to final brush strokes is his therapy, meditation, obsession and catharsis. John lives, works and paints pretty much every single day in Toronto, Canada.
SUZANNE C. COLE received her MA from Stanford. She is a former college English instructor. She writes from a studio in the Texas Hill Country. SuzAnne’s flash fiction has been published in anthologies and magazines including The World’s Best Shortest Stories, has been listed on The Best of the Web del Sol, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. ALFRED CORN has published ten books of poems, including Stake: Selected Poems, 1972-1992 (1999) and, most recently, Unions (2014). He has also published a novel, Part of His Story, a study of prosody The Poem’s Heartbeat, and two collections of critical essays, The Metamorphoses of Metaphor and Atlas: Selected Essays, 1989-2007. His second novel, Miranda’s Book, will be published in late 2014.
SEYED MORTEZA HAMIDZADEH is an Iranian poet and writer. His work has appeared internationally in Portugal with the WAF Anthology Book, the USA’s eFiction Magazine, FIVE Poetry Magazine and Maudlin House Magazine, Iceland’s Vivimus Magazine and Canada’s Zouch Magazine.
As a graduate student in French literature, he received a Fulbright Fellowship to study for a year in Paris. For his poetry, he has received Guggenheim, NEA, and NYFA fellowships, an Award in Literature from the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a fellowship from the Academy of American Poets, and the Dillon, Blumenthal, and Levinson Prizes from Poetry magazine.
JULEIGH HOWARD-HOBSON writes fiction, formalist poetry and non-fiction essays, purposely blunting the modern ‘brandable’ concept of artistic obligation to any single form or movement. Winner of the ANZAC Day Award for Poetry, named a Million Writers Award “Notable Story” writer, and nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, she has appeared in such venues as The Lyric, The Liar’s League, The First Line, Key Hole, Prime Number, Able Muse, Poemeleon, The Alabama Literary Review, Mezzo Cammin, History is Dead (Permuted Press), Sweet Lemons 2: International Writings With A Sicilian Accent; Legas Sicilian Series Vol XIX (Legas), The Best of the Barefoot Muse (Barefoot Pub), and Caduceus: The Poets at Art Place Vol 8 (Yale University).
Seyed was born in and resides in Mashhad, Iran.
For many years he taught in the Graduate Writing Program at Columbia University and held visiting posts at UCLA, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma State, and Yale. His book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Nation,the New Republic, the Hudson Review, and Poetry London. He also writes art criticism for Art in America and ARTnews magazines.
ERIC HOLLERBACH was raised in Long Valley, NJ Eric started doing stand-up open mics at 16 in NYC. But was quickly seduced by talent at the Upright Citizens Brigade improv theater. After
a few years of study, he found himself performing on the MainStage of the UCB theater before graduating from Newschool University.
KATHLEEN PEIRCE teaches poetry in the MFA program at Texas State University.Her poetry collections include Mercy, The Oval Hour, and The Ardors. Her work has been awarded The AWP Prize for Poetry, The Iowa Prize, and The William Carlos Williams Award. She is the recipient of fellowships from The Whiting Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, and The Guggenheim Foundation.
After moving to Los Angeles, Eric continued performing at UCB LA, and Monkey Butler. However, he went back to doing stand-up comedy. Eric performed regularly at Flappers Comedy Club, and The Comedy Store. During this time Eric has also produced a few of his own projects including: Damien Shadows PI, Here Comes Godot, and Suppressed Inventions. He also hosted the feature-length short-horror-film anthology Theater of the Deranged II, which was picked up by Troma this year, and is now due out on DVD Dec 2014. He is now a MFA student in Screenwriting at the UNO, and can be found performing standup comedy around different venues in New Orleans.
KEN POYNER has lately been seen in Analog, Café Irreal, Cream City Review, The Journal of Microliterature, among others. His latest book of short fiction, Constant Animals, is available from his website - www.kpoyner.com, and from www.amazon.com. Ken is married to Karen Poyner, one of the world’s premier power lifters, and holder of more than a dozen current world power lifting records. They are the animal parents of four rescue cats and assorted self-satisfied fish.
EMILY GLOSSNER JOHNSON had short stories published in the journals Lynx Eye, Literary Brushstrokes, The Linnet’s Wings, Dinosaur Bees, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up Writer’s Zine, Lost Coast Review, and in the anthology Postscripts to Darkness. She also has two short stories published by Musa Publishing in their Erato (GLBT) imprint with a nonfiction piece forthcoming in an anthology to be published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective and a short story forthcoming in the journal The Outrider Review. Emily writes a monthly article for the blog of River Ram Press about mental illness and the challenges it presents in the writing life.
MITCH SISSKIND grew up in Chicago, attended Columbia University, and now lives in Los Angeles. Two books of his short fiction have been published: Visitations (1984) and Dog Man Stories (1993.) His poems were included in The Best American Poetry anthologies for 2009 and 2013. SARAMANDA SWIGART is a recent graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program. Her work has appeared in Thin Air and Fogged Clarity, with a piece shortlisted at Glimmer Train. Saramanda is a fellow at The Writer’s Grotto in San Francisco.
She received her B.A. in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo and her M.A. in English from the State University of New York College at Brockport. Emily taught writing at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York for ten years.
DALLAS WOODBURN is a s a writer, speaker, and literacy advocate. She was a 2013-14 Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she recently won second place in the American Fiction Prize and her work is forthcoming in American Fiction Volume 13: The Best Unpublished Short Stories by American Writers (New Rivers Press). Her short story collection was a finalist for the 2012 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction; individual stories have appeared in Superstition Review, The Nashville Review, Louisiana Literature, Ayris, and Monkeybicycle, among others. She has been honored with the international Glass Woman Prize, the Brian Mexicott Playwriting Award, and a merit scholarship to attend the Key West Literary Seminar.
TIM KERLIN lives in Dallas and teaching English at West Coast University and Art History online for the University of Phoenix. Any time he has outside of those things is spent reading and sleeping, though usually not both at the same time. PHILIP KOBYLARZ is a teacher and writer of fiction, poetry, book reviews, and essays. His recent work that has appeared or is forthcoming in Paris Review, Connecticut Review, Basalt, Santa Fe Literary Review, New American Writing, Poetry Salzburg Review and Best American Poetry. His book, Rues, was recently published by Blue Light Press of San Francisco. Philip’s collection of fiction, Now Leaving Nowheresville and his book length essay Nearest Istanbul are forthcoming.
A former fiction editor of Sycamore Review, she also served as editor of the anthology Dancing With The Pen: A Collection of Today’s Best Youth Writing. She is the founder of Write On! For Literacy, an organization that empowers young people through reading and writing endeavors: www.writeonbooks.org.
S.D. LISHAN teaches creative writing at The Ohio State University, and my fiction and creative nonfiction have been published recently in Brevity, In Posse Review, Arts & Letters, and Creative Nonfiction.
DON YORTY was born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania in 1949. He has a BA in Latin and Greek from the City University of New York. A poet and garden activist, he has two published collections of poetry, A Few Swimmers Appear and Poet Laundromat, and was included in Out of This World, An Anthology of the Poetry of the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, 1966-1991 (Crown). His novel, What Night Forgets, was published by Herodias Press. And his poems have been recently published in LiVE MAG! Don lives in New York City.
M.V. MONTGOMERY is a professor at Life University in Atlanta. He is the author of ten books, including the well reviewed poetry collections Joshu Holds a Press Conference (2010), Strange Conveyances (2010), and What We Did With Old Moons (2012). His surreal works of fiction inlcude the books Dream Koans (2011), Antigravitas (2011), and Beyond the Pale (2013). His website is http://mvmontgomery.wordpress.com/.