Cover Art By Ameroy Morgan
EDITOR IN CHIEF Leigh Cheak
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POETRY EDITOR Leigh Cheak
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Table of Contents
POETRY GALE ACUFF Angel ½7 DARREN C. DEMAREE I Have No Intention of Burying My Body #45 ½9 ELIZABETH GILLIAM “Beautiful” ½ 14 Madeline ½15 Back Roads ½16 TOM HOLMES Sometimes I Contact My First Love Late at Night ½17 The Unmentionable Places for the Cartographer ½18 JACKLYN JANEKSELA he is a ghost like the rest of the lot ½29 when you a witch & blocking fools is the only way ½32 haunt the hunt of the cunt that bore my father½33 MICHAEL MILBURN At Josh Glassberg’s Bar Mitzvah ½34 Head Space ½36 Aloof ½37 Wallflower ½38 BOB RAYMONDA My Grandfather’s Ghost ½40 Grandma’s Dimes ½42 Little Death, Big Death ½43 RICK ROHDENBURG Wingless ½45 PETER L. SCACCO Old Master Drawing ½49 Walking with Ghosts ½50 Esther ½51
PROSE MATTHEW T. CLEMENTS Rudy and the Young Professionals ½10 MELANIE FAITH The Impact ½46 JIM ROSS Doggie Sex ½20
PHOTOGRAPHY AMEROY MORGAN Untitled ½ 6 Untitled ½ 12 Untitled ½ 19 Untitled ½ 30 Untitled ½ 35 Untitled ½ 39 Untitled ½ 44 Untitled ½ 52
ANGEL Miss Hooker's our Sunday School teacher and the reason I have perfect attendance. I must be in love with her but she's old, 30 at least. Three times older than me, or is it I? But that's a question for regular school. Here, Jesus doesn't care. And 3 is kind of a magic number, like the Trinity. Three 10s is 30. Jesus was 33 when he died—I think. And not just died but was crucified. That's a kind of assassination, like what happened to President Kennedy but he was shot in the back of the head. I saw it on TV a hundred times after it happened. You don't just get up after a thing like that but Miss Hooker says, Don't worry, Gale, he's in Heaven now, which was nice of her to say because she's a Republican. That's what Mother says. And her skirt's too short. Miss Hooker's, I mean. How can Republicans wear short skirts, asks Mother. Father says they're just fine and he should know, he's a Rotarian. I'm in love with Miss Hooker but there's no future in it—by the time I'm her age she'll be—let's see—I make that 50. Yes. And even when I'm 18 she'll still be a good eight years ahead of me, out of reach. Damn. I know that I shouldn't cuss but love is just plumb nuts. Sometimes I worry more about it than I do sin. Damn. Damn. Damn. And I know I should be going to church for God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost and not Miss Hooker—the way I see it, though, she's a part of the package—what's the harm? Anyway, Father said it first. Mother shushed him and blushed and he smiled at me in the rearview mirror. I didn't really get it but I smiled back. One day I will. I may not know what pretty's for but I know enough to like it. That's like life on earth—you stick around long enough and learn and then you get to know God better and one day you join Him. Or you go to Hell
but that's another story. I love you I tell my pillow on Saturday night before I go to sleep. It's Miss Hooker, I pretend. I hold it close—her, I mean. Next morning I have breakfast and get dressed and we go to church. Mother and Father have some adult’s class. I have Miss Hooker. Then it's over and I walk her into the building—our class is in a trailer —and help her find a place to perch, then go find my parents and sit between them and nudge Father in the ribs when he's drowsing. When it's over with I hunt Miss Hooker down and say goodbye. Goodbye, Gale—just like that is how she says it. It's as good as Hello. I guess she'll never love me but you never know—if I rate Heaven then I'll see her there. She's already an angel, ha ha. And President Kennedy. -GALE ACUFF
I HAVE NO INTENTION OF BURYING MY BODY #45 The fountains jet. The waterfalls pummel. The river is its own industry. I am in the creek bed because I asked to be, because it was irrational to ask to be laid in all of Ohioâ€™s waterways. - DARREN C. DEMAREE
RUDY AND THE YOUNG PROFESSIONALS -MATTHEW T. CLEMENTS 9:02am: The lawyer
“Yup. We’ve been in practice together
“All rise! The Honorable Rudolph J.
ever since I graduated from USC.”
“And he never told you about writing
“Thank you, Tony. Please be seated, everyone. Counselor, are you ready to proceed? Counselor? Counselor!”
briefs?” “I guess he might have mentioned something about it.”
“Yup, just a sec, your honor…”
“And yet you didn’t bother to do it.”
“Is that text so important that it’s
“Hey, I’m a busy guy. I’m sure a man
worth being cited for contempt?” “Um… sorry, what?” “Put the phone down. The phone. Put. It. Down.”
like you can appreciate that. Did you know that I also volunteer at—wait, hold on a sec.”
“Put the phone down. The phone. Put. It. Down.”
“Put that phone down or I will cite you for contempt.”
“Sure thing, all done. Now, about my motion.”
“Contempt? Are you kidding me?”
“You have a motion before the court?” “Yeah, well, see, I’m making a motion—” “I haven’t received a brief.” “No, see, I’m bringing the motion now, and I thought I would argue it orally.” “You would like to win this motion, wouldn’t you?” “What? Well, yeah. Of course.” “But you didn’t write a brief.” “No, but it’s a good motion. My dad said it was. So did the guys at the club.” “Your father would be an attorney also?”
12:35pm: The banker “So, Rudolph. Or is it Rudy?” “Actually, it’s Judge Pescatori. Or Mr. Pescatori will do fine.” “Hey, you’re a judge? Can you take care of some parking tickets for me?” “Ha. Sure, why not.” “Let me see, I think I put them in one of these drawers…” “You were serious?” “About what?” “The parking tickets. I wasn’t.” “Wasn’t what?”
“Serious. About taking care of them for you.”
“I mean, what do we do now?” “Well, with inconclusive results, there
“Really? Darn it! Fine, let’s look at your paperwork.”
isn’t an indicated course of treatment.” “But what’s wrong with me?”
“Yes, I’d like to refinance my mortgage.”
“I don’t know.” “Yes, I get that, but there’s more you
“Says here you want to refinance your mortgage.”
can do, isn’t there?” “Like what?”
“Yes, that too.”
“More tests? Something?”
“Let’s see here. Wait, hold on… oh,
“I suppose so. We could do a prostate
man… oh, man…. Dude, check this out!”
exam, I guess. If you really want.”
“I don’t, especially.”
“But this video is hysterical! One of my
“Okay. Whew! I could call my dad—
old USC buddies, I don’t know where he finds
he’s a doctor too. Oh, sorry, I have to take this.
Hello? Right, it’s a 428i, not too many miles on
it… no, the coupe…. Sure, I could be there in
“Okay, suit yourself. Wait, here’s
half an hour or so. I have a few patients left,
another one… oh, man…”
but they can wait. Great. Bye. Now, where
“Perhaps I should speak to your boss.” “You bet. Dad!”
were we?” “Aren’t you a little young to be a doctor?”
4:58pm: The doctor “Good
Pectori—” “Pescatori.” “Right. So, the test results were inconclusive.”
Finished med school last year.” “Let me guess: USC.” “Hey! Got it in one! Are you a Trojan too?” LR
“Inconclusive.” “Yeah. That means—” “I know what it means. What now?” “What do you mean?”
“BEAUTIFUL” He thinks if he says it enough I’ll trade him my body. As if the word makes all the difference. “You really are.” As if he can buy my body. “I want you tonight.” As if I don’t know what he’s speculating. “You’re all I need.” We all sell our bodies for something. What do I go for? Words secure me again. -ELIZABETH GILLIAM
MADELINE has a wolf tattooed on her thigh. “To cover the scars” she said. Kota (yes, she named him) glares at me every time I go down on her. Strange things his eyes—blue like Arctic water, deep black pupils, they want to drown me. He thinks he’s in charge of her body; I haven’t earned the right to taste her skin. I glare back at him when I’m in between, his eyes trap mine— I miss seeing her lips slip into that lovely smile. She used to cut herself. I can still see the marks behind Kota’s chest. Clean neat parallel lines. “A razor blade,” when I asked what she used. -ELIZABETH GILLIAM
BACK ROADS You drove us into New Hampshire that summer. All I had to do was pick a direction: left, right, north. We travelled along curving back roads, some just dirt, past barns with collapsing roofs behind white birch trees. You took your hand off the wheel, offered it to me, palm up. I pulled your hand into my lap, our fingers knitted, until a sharp turn forced me to let you go. -ELIZABETH GILLIAM
SOMETIMES I CONTACT MY FIRST LOVE LATE AT NIGHT For Garrett Ashley To draw Pangea accurately, not from the imagination of shoving together apparent facts and coastlines, one needs a time machine or very old pen. A pen that old, however, can’t be found unless you have a time machine. Of course, no such machine has appeared in our time, which means even the future is lost. Thus, you need to meditate to connect to god. If you do, she will mediate through you to any old pen you have and push it to draw that desired contour. I once had this straight, powerful line of connection with her. My hand moved. I touched the line. It fell. And leave it to my dog to gnaw that spirit’s power line. I could not reconnect and finish the coast just as I cannot create a time machine or retrieve an ancient pen. I don’t know anymore why I try to write her. -TOM HOLMES
THE UNMENTIONABLE PLACES FOR THE CARTOGRAPHER The edge of the world can be seen leaving her hand. There’s no atlas or formally attired elephants, here. Obviously, nothing can stand in a swamp where light and stars fall — it’s darker than before a dream. And there are many swamps on the periphery — some evolve into the long futures of oil and stock exchanges, some are shoe factories, some a field in southern Mississippi with a white barn and hanging tree, some the Pentagon — you know, all the places you cover your eyes from and they write commandments about. When her hand returns, she draws Victoria Falls, washes her hands, and regrets what next she will draw. -TOM HOLMES
DOGGIE SEX -JIM ROSS Two young women sat side by side sipping umbrella drinks in the shade of a crescent palm tree. Each had that trim, jogger,
“What’s wrong with that, if he knows what he’s doing?” “What’s wrong is, I’m not some high
yoga-type body that one expects to see at an
school Chiquita Banana. I’m a grown woman.
expensive beach resort, but rarely does. The
I want to be wooed! And I refuse to be the last
superficial resemblance encompassed height,
‘to-do’ on his bedtime checklist—right after
weight, hair style and skin color. But further
cleaning his teeth.”
similarity could only be assumed, as one lay covered from neck to thigh in the swimsuit
“Lighten up, Susan. We’re talking about fun. It’s the glue, you know.”
equivalent of a burqa, while the other wore
The woman in the swimsuit burqa did
nothing more than a thin layer of UV 15 and
not feel like arguing the point again. Sex was
the bottom half of a green thong bikini.
not fun for her, and she was certain that failure
“Listen to me,” commanded the less fastidiously dressed of the
husband number three
“All he wants is sex, sex, and more sex. I swear to god he’d have me doing it every night, if I let him.”
for you, right? And he’s a trophy.” The nearly naked woman splayed oily fingers to enumerate the
“Handsome? Considerate? Intelligent? Rich? If
contact had nothing to do with insufficient practice or
Women like Jane simply
exaggerated. “If you don’t want to hear it,” said her friend, “just tell me to shut up, and I will.” Susan
you can’t make it work with this one, there’s no
hope for you, Susan.”
understanding of the male mind had rescued
Her companion’s cheeks flushed a pale
Susan’s cookies from the dating fires more
strawberry. “But he’s just like the rest of them,
times than she cared to remember. Now, with
Jane. All he wants is sex, sex and more sex! I
yet another marriage at stake, she was hoping
swear to god he’d have me doing it every night,
her friend could do it again. But the assault on
if I let him.”
her dignity had gone on most of the afternoon and she was beginning to feel like a carnival
knock-down doll, while her topless companion
calmly slathered suntan oil over naked breasts
glistening torso with oil-dipped fingers. “As
and dented abdominals.
long as he’s talking Dr. Ruth, there’s still a
“You know, half the men on this beach are watching you do that,” Susan complained. “I should hope so.” “But what about their wives?”
chance…if you want him. But realistically, Susan, either do him or ditch him. There’s no point to a Mexican standoff in the bedroom.” “But I’ve tried!” wailed Susan. “I even
“Oh please!” Jane laughed. “Why
gave him…” Her face molted pink and red as
should it matter where a man gets his appetite,
she struggled with the vernacular. “You
as long as he eats at home?”
know… Just before we flew down here.”
Susan was tempted to remark that
Jane’s married boyfriend was certainly not
eating at home that weekend. But she let it go.
“Well, how’s it been this weekend?”
Her goal was to enlist Jane’s help to save her
“How has what been?”
marriage, not to cure her friend’s predatory
“The sex, Susan! Oral sex. Regular sex.
penchant for other women’s husbands. “I just don’t know what to do
Tantric sex. Whatever. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”
anymore,” she confessed, her voice confused
“We haven’t done anything.”
and pitiful. “David is angry with me all the
“Oh my god.”
time. If I so much as tell him to change his
Susan buried her face in a brightly
shirt, he pouts for hours. Last week he
colored beach towel. Jane rolled onto her
announced that he wants us to start seeing a
stomach and slathered a double handful of
UV-15 over taut, tanned glutei, then raised her
“Has he used the D word, yet?”
head to check her work. “Men are simple,
“Not in so many words.”
Susan, but they’re not stupid. If the big BJ was
“But he’s thinking about it.”
just a ‘here’s what you wanted, and now I’ve done it,’
Susan closed her eyes over gathering
then he probably hates your guts right now.”
tears. “Yesterday he bought this bedroom bimbo outfit in one of the hotel gift shops, and
“No he doesn’t!” Susan moaned. “He loves me!”
then hung it on the hook in our bathroom. It’s
like it’s a test, or something. Well I’ll be
“He does! He said so.”
damned if I’m going to wear it.”
Susan inhaled a sob.
under the wide-leafed palm tree. When the
“And be honest, the last time he said
sniffling gave way to a look of happy surprise,
it—I mean without being prompted—was it
he went over and reintroduced himself.
Jeykll or Hyde he was talking to?” Two men sat on the hotel terrace
“Wawawa…do you mean?” Susan’s muffled voice was faint and almost childlike.
waiting for their companions to come down
“You know exactly what I mean. We’ve
from their rooms so they could all go out to
had this conversation a dozen times in as many
dinner. The terrace overlooked the hotel pool
years. You keep selling guys this Lamborghini.
and the men were enjoying the view through
But you forget to mention that it stalls out
when they step on the gas. Then you act hurt
“I feel like Pavlov’s dog,” said Paul.
and surprised when they act like they’ve been
“Seems to me you’re eating okay these
sold a lemon.”
days,” David grumbled.
Paul shrugged. “While it lasts.”
“I’m serious, Susan. David may still be
“You could make it permanent, you
in love with what he thought you were selling,
but it sounds like he’s given up trying to get it
Paul shook his head. “Jane’s not
out of first gear. And don’t think he’s not
inclined toward monogamy. Not even serially.
thinking of a trade-in.”
And my wife threatened years ago that if I divorced her, I’d never see my kids again.”
Susan’s estimate of the number of eyes
“Can she do that?” David’s voice
trained in Jane’s direction was too modest by
expressed a polite concern he didn’t really feel.
half. The hotel cabana boy scurried between
The problems of philanderers did not engage
lounge chairs carrying umbrella drinks to those
who required an excuse to keep their heads
“My wife is German. All she’d have to
elevated. Most were focused where you would
do is move back home. At my age, I’m not
expect. But Susan, in her Annette Funicello-
going to get proficient enough at the language
retro one-piece, had at least one admirer.
to get certified as a German surgeon. Even if I
When she of the green thong and not
wanted to start my career over again in Leipzig
much else got up to leave, the admirer asked
or some such god-awful place. She’s got me by
the cabana boy to carry a hastily written note
to the modestly attired woman sniffling noisily
“How old are your kids?”
“Ten-year-old twins. A boy and a girl.”
convent schools, and I kept telling myself
things would perk up once she had a few miles
“The hell of it is I had plenty of time to
on her meter. By the time I finally admitted I
get out. We didn’t have the twins until we’d already been married a few years. I knew it wasn’t working long before that, but I kept kidding myself it would get better.” “Well you can’t blame yourself for trying.”
was wrong, the twins were on their way.” “And the tail that doesn’t wag is saying what, exactly?” “That you’ve got your nose under the wrong tail.” David peered over the top of his
“I blame myself every day, buddy.
There’s a big difference between trying to make
“Look,” said Paul. “I’ve been watching
things work and burying your head in the sand.
you two together all weekend. You’ve got a
I should have listened to my dick while I had
knockout wife, no kids, a big job and dead eyes.
the chance.” David laughed. “I thought that’s what gets us in trouble in the first
“I should have listened to my dick while I had the chance.”
Nobody has to explain it to me. You’ve got Doggie Sex written all over you.” “What?” “Doggie Sex. You
“That’s thinking with it. I’m talking about listening to it.”
sit up and beg. She rolls over and plays dead. Been there, done that, got the tee shirt.”
David’s face betrayed his confusion. “Look, think of your dick as a dog,”
On the way down in the elevator, Susan
said Paul. “When it’s happy, it wags its tail.
showed Jane the note from the man on the
When it’s not, it doesn’t. It’s not capable of
beach. “Do you believe in fate?” she asked.
lying to you.” A cartoon image of a talking, tailwagging male organ flashed across David’s mental screen.
“As in car wrecks and mangled, twisted bodies?” Susan ignored the warning. “We used to work in the same office. He had a thing for
“The problem is that all Fido can do is
me, but I was married to what’s-his-name then,
let you know something’s wrong. You have to
so he never pushed it. He was in their executive
figure out what that is. That’s where I messed
fast-track program or something.”
up with Steffi. She came out of one of those
“How fifties,” Jane murmured. “Does he know you’re married now?”
“Well, you’re not the babe from the water cooler, right now. Let’s get you out of
“It didn’t come up.”
here before your prinz sees you like this. We can
Jane scanned the giveaway posts: eyes
walk it off on the beach.” They made it as far
(hard), mouth (evasive), hands (clenched).
as the terrace before Jane realized the futility of
“Well it might be easier on your ego if you pull
her mission and tried to steer her friend toward
the plug before David does. Especially if
Transition Man is already here. But don’t
“I can’t go up there!”
expect things to be any different this time.”
“We’ll go to my room,” said Jane. “Paul
Susan pursed her lips and stared at the elevator buttons. “Come on!” said Jane. “What this guy
had to get back to the wife and kids. You can pass out on the spare bed.” “S’long as there’s no man in it.”
sees is some immaculately coiffed, stylishly
Inside the hotel room, Susan staggered
dressed va-va-va-voom girl he used to banter
toward the bathroom while Jane wandered
with over the water cooler. Right?”
onto the balcony to let the surf’s liquid heaving
mask the sound of her friend’s retching. A few
“He thinks you’re a Lamborghini, too.”
minutes later, hair at wild angles and mascara blotched and smeared into a blend of Cruella
Dinner was excruciating. David drank
DeVille and Rocky Raccoon, Susan staggered
steadily and said nothing. Susan matched him
back into the room. “I’m a loser, aren’t I?” she
glass for glass, but never shut up. Jane
moaned. “It’s like I’m turning into one of the
distracted herself by slipping her hand into
Paul’s lap and playing with him under the table
“You’re just stubborn, that’s all.”
until it was time to take him to the airport.
“For having standards?”
When she returned, Susan was sitting alone at
Jane groaned. Genuine friendship
the piano bar and David had gone to bed. “Waiting for someone?” Jane asked.
ground, and simple repetition was unlikely to
breach a defense as stubborn as Susan’s. But
Jane inventoried the glassy smile,
she had to try. “Not for having standards,” she
botched mascara and multiple red wine stains.
explained patiently, “but for not questioning
“You look like ten miles of hard road.”
them. Do they make sense? Does following
“But I’m feeling soo-goood!”
doesn’t admit battle fatigue. But this was old
them make you and the people you love happy?
Do they bring you the kind of life you want— The green luminescent numerals on
one that seems worth having?” “God, you sound just like a man.”
the bedside clock read 2:30 a.m. Jane stood on
“Susan, listen to me! We’ve known
the balcony listening to the rhythms of the
each other for nearly fifteen years and every
tropical surf overwhelm the sound of her
relationship you’ve had during that time has
friend’s snoring. Before leaving the room, she
crashed on the same rock: sex. Don’t you see
removed the plastic key card from Susan’s
purse and slipped it into her pocket. Her pulse
“Yes. Men are pigs. They pretend not to be when they’re wooing you. But sooner or later they quit pretending and then start treating you like their personal blow-up doll.”
throbbed like a Riviera cat burglar’s, aroused but cool. The click of the door latch in Room 219 was masked by the rumble of more
Jane wailed. “Damn it, Susan! Sex is
drunken snoring. Jane made her way cautiously
recreation. Shared recreation. You can have all
through the darkened room, located the
the wooing you want. But it has to go both
bathroom door and shut it behind her. Tubes
ways. And it’s meant to end in sex. Nice, long,
and jars of every imaginable description filled
mutually enjoyable, mattress-thumping sex.”
both sides of a double sink. Opposite, a lacy
Susan held her head in her hands.
single hook. Smiling slowly, but moving
“You’re obsessed.” want
red and black teddy hung forlornly from a
“And you’re exasperating! Men don’t
quickly, she slipped off her clothes and
shimmied into the gaudy lingerie, mindful of
something with you. Can’t you see that?” “I see fine. I just don’t believe you. I never have. You’re too much like them.”
the many times she and Susan had fine-tuned for a hot date by picking through each others’ wardrobes. From the collection of bottles and
“Like them? We’re the same, Susan. All
jars behind the sink, she doused herself with
of us. What will it take to make you see that?”
something labeled Obsession and then stood for
Susan gripped the rail as if she was
a moment preening in front of the mirror. The
about to heave her cookies over the side.
image smiling back was more Frederick’s of
“Show me David on one knee with a bouquet
Hollywood than Victoria’s Secret. But there
of flowers, begging me to forgive him for
was no doubt of its primal impact.
having so crassly misunderstood my delicate nature. Show me that and I’ll believe you.”
Tippy-toeing across a room dimly lit by reflected moonlight, she drew the heavy
blackout curtain, felt her way back across the
The darkened hours passed at a pace
darkened room, unscrewed the bulb from the
lamp on either side of the king-sized bed and
conversation. When David came up, she went
slid smoothly under the cotton sheet. Curling a
down. When he seemed to want to rest, she
pair of manicured fingers toward her face, she
spun him around like a Tilt-a-Whirl. Howls
found her nose before she detected so much as
poured from the man as from a child on a roller
the snoring man’s outline. Nodding, she
coaster. To the inevitable pounding on the wall
improvised list: “Feel the Teddy. Check. Smell the familiar perfume. Check. See nothing. Check.”
“When he opened his mouth, she covered it with an orifice.”
responded with a silencing scissor-lock to David’s head. He did not protest. Sometime before
Susan’s husband had smooth hairless
dawn, though little more than halfway through
skin and broad muscular shoulders. Snuggling
her planned repertoire, David emitted a final,
close, front to back, Jane inventoried the
emphatic mercy moan before collapsing into a
possible impedimenta: short boxers, no
spent slumber. Passing a satisfied finger over
drawstring, a single snap, no shirt. As an
the sated man’s lips, she felt the familiar outline
overture, she moistened the middle finger of
of a Charley Brown grin.
her right hand and rubbed a tight, teasing swirl
around a soft, flat nipple. The airplane engine
snore sputtered to a halt, followed by a soft,
The terrace restaurant served Sunday
childlike moan. The semiconscious man rolled
brunch with a choice of complimentary
slowly to his left. Jane countered with a flick of
Champagne or Bloody Mary. Susan rested her
a snap and tongue like a sword to a Gordian
eyes behind oversized, wrap-around sunglasses
and squinted over the top of her drink at the “Ssss..oooz..iiinnn???”
note that was waiting for her at the front desk.
It was an invitation from her admirer to brunch
Directing his hand to the front of the
on the terrace. Soaking her napkin in a glass of
teddy, she moved it slowly in a more satisfying
ice water, she pressed the cold cloth over
direction. When he opened his mouth, she
parchment eyes and for a while, time was
covered it with an orifice.
“Mind if I sit down?” The familiar,
“I love you, Susan. But love’s not
masculine voice was correct, neutral and full of
enough, is it? Not if two people aren’t
the unsaid. But it was not her brunch date.
“I guess we both had a lot to drink last night,” said David. Susan’s head pulsed. She nodded curtly, hoping he didn’t stay. “I need to ask you something,” he said. “So I’ll get right to the point.” Lowering her head, she pressed the wet cloth into her eye sockets with the heels of both hands. David’s voice was flat, almost expressionless. “I need to know if there’s anything
She fought a wave of nausea as she listened to his prepared homily. “If they’re going to last, both people have to want the same things. Need the same things. And understand the differences in their ways of expressing that.” She mumbled into the tabletop. “You said something about getting to the point.” “The point is I love you. But all this time it seems I’ve completely misunderstood you. I’m sorry, that’s all. Very sorry.”
about last night that…well, that you only did
on account of all the booze…that you might
not do again. It’s important, Susan.”
Her mind was empty. She wished he’d
facedown moaning into a puddling wet cloth.
go away. After a few moments she moved her
Uncomfortable with the silence, and heedless
head gingerly from left to right.
of her warning, he continued. “Until last night,
“Are you sure?”
I’d given up on our ever finding common
She nodded slowly and listened to her
ground when it came to sex. I was beginning to
husband release a slow breath of pent-up air.
think that you simply didn’t like it—at least not
“Well, you’re not going to like this. But
with me. It never occurred to me that the
I’ve got to say it anyway.” He paused for
difference between us was nothing more
acknowledgement, eye contact—some sign of
than…‘who’s on top,’ so to speak. My god, I
life. The backs of Susan’s hands pressed to her
don’t care who initiates sex! I’m just sorry I’ve
eyes communicated nothing—except, perhaps,
been such a crass, misunderstanding dolt!”
by the absence of a wedding ring. “I’ve been thinking about a divorce.” She lowered her head and rested it against the cool glass tabletop.
Susan felt her head begin to lift as if of its own accord. The wet cloth napkin fell to the table with a moist plop. Her eyes came into focus and she noticed three things, more or less
at once: the bouquet of flowers in David’s hand, Jane at the far end of the terrace smiling blandly in her direction, and Transition Man a few feet behind Jane, scanning the tables for his brunch date. The triple image expanded and contracted with the rhythm of Susan’s pulse. Under simultaneous waves of panic and nausea, she began to hyperventilate. David looked confused and concerned. Transition Man spotted Jane and waved. Susan caught Jane’s eye and flashed a silent, desperate plea for help. “Pardon me,” said the man stepping toward Jane. “I’m looking for your friend.” Jane turned, glancing first at the man’s belt—or seemingly so—and then at his eyes. “She left this morning with her husband.” “Husband?” “Follow me. I have a story that might amuse you.” She led her friend’s confused admirer past the terrace where the wind off the ocean wafted snippets of conversation mingled with the fragrance of Obsession. “There’s a little private beach just up the highway. Shall I grab my bathing suit?” The man’s faced twitched. “Do you have a car?” He smiled. “A Lamborghini.” “Good. I’m a Lamborghini kind of girl. There are fewer of us than you think.” LR
HE IS A GHOST LIKE THE REST OF THE LOT
ex-lovers stay on the body, they are ectoplasm yesterday one plucked a hair and threatened me with his sorcery, yesterday one appeared behind a curtain, yesterday one shaped the period blood i left on my panties, the toilet bowl they know nothing of the afterlife the gallows of the deepest pitch sleep where i dwell -JACKLYN JANEKSELA
WHEN YOU A WITCH & BLOCKING FOOLS IS THE ONLY WAY
they will try to take you down, this here fistful should do the trick she pulls from the jar, it squeaks to a creak in the floor and it sounds like the birth of bitches and sluts and witches it sounds fresh it sounds spotless this is world we create, this is ours for the taking, not theirs the oil of many pressed plants dance, conjoin like twins and twinnings of fins like our mermaid tails because sometimes instead of witches we are many creatures, all at once or separately yield the flow, watch how it grows, oh how it grows laughing book, laughing broom, laughing stitch upon her arm the cobwebs hang in anticipation, the vapors rise like invisible new moons, in the furtive pith dwell the best spells let the full moon bring you home sly little witch, little tinker toy here there is not hoax, real life begins at the sight of your own vagina and the first taste of your motherâ€™s
HAUNT THE HUNT OF THE CUNT THAT BORE MY FATHER
it’s like the time my dad got a splinter and the tweezers couldn’t grip it so he went for the needle sterilized with a match flame which brought a moth dusting the space with mottled wings and humming antennae of some Finnish fairytale that dad recalls only in moment of duress like now with this moth looming overhead leaving behind an outline of what a tree trunk looks like once the bleeding has stopped. he didn’t cry my dad but there was a lot of blood and we peered into that finger like a cave and squinted our eyes until mom said that’s enough or we’ll infect it but no one considered that besides the finger so much more could be infected even though we were all wearing masks that dad uses when he saws a branch because the limbs are hanging too low or dropping too many leaves in the fall and who wants to rake up all those leaves and bring them to the street corner plus it wastes plastic bags but mom reminds him we use paper and when the splinter is removed it’s a twig snapping under the foot of his father trampling through the wooden glen towards a cabin and away from my father where he will go to die. it’s like a weaving the needle and tweezers as if a game of skill and we listen to the metal tick away like cracked eggshells on Easter like clanking Christmas lights like all the time that slips away from us as we gather around a finger like a feather of a bird that is no longer resting but flying and soaring so high above a mountain that we see in the distance on the garage sale painting that someone bought for my mom when her bleeding stopped and instead of a sapling it was a fetus and instead of a fetus it was a family like a pack of wolves who live in the forest behind the house where everyone grew up.
AT JOSH GLASSBERGâ€™S BAR MITZVAH Doing my divorced father from out of town thing, I was seated between a matronly woman and a stockbroker whom it turned out my ex-wife was dating. I talked mostly to the stockbroker, forging a brotherly bond. As dessert time ran down I did too, out of small talk, with no one, not even the broker, monopolized on his other side by a fellow sailing enthusiast, to turn my chair toward. The kids were still in the throes of gaming, dancing, heckling a clown, so I sat out the last hour on the low wall of a lobby fountain until my son emerged, tie askew and laden with goodies. A year later, his mother would tell me, the stockbroker dived from his yacht into Skaneateles Lake with weights in his pockets. He had seemed so much my better that day, among friends, involved with my wife, Iâ€™d never have dreamed it would come to that. -MICHAEL MILBURN
HEAD SPACE My goal is to conquer a feeling by focusing on it physically to cripple it psychically, so itâ€™s solely bodily agony, a handy strategy given how frequently I feel shitty, outwitting my anxiety to live with a laughable sense of not much left of me, of identity emptied or shrunk to a notion the size of a pea, which I call peace, and know is me.
ALOOF I have a scene in mind of a house I used to pass when walking my son to the park, the father of one of his friends outside mowing or washing his car, a guy so friendly his affability made my lack of these qualities stand out. I could tell that he wished and wanted to say that he wished I’d lighten up. Approaching, I always felt like I was lugging my nature along, a big sign blaring my quietness and disinclination to smile. I couldn’t just be myself but had to remember to try to break through even as I saw in his eyes that there was no breaking through, which just made me awkward, false hearty, though I never worried he’d think this about me because he already had his word for me and if it comes to that you only get one shot.
WALLFLOWER Iâ€™m sorry to have clung to you for as long as it took for me to satisfy the party and depart in relief rather than shame, not exactly mingling, but at least in command of minglingâ€™s exploratory stage, which I rarely reach and never get beyond, armed against self-consciousness by being seen to be engaged.
MY GRANDFATHER’S GHOST I. my bare feet rest underneath ratty 101 Dalmatian covers you sitting there, at the edge of my bed, telling stories that I shouldn’t have the capacity to hear or hold onto we’re acquainted for only a moment but I feel like I’ve known you my whole life, those two eager years I’ve already lived we share a name, but you were unable to cradle me in between your arms or give me the change in your pocket she cries in the morning when I tell her you’ve visited me and that everything’s okay up there and you hope her life is still alright down here too II. We imagine, after you’ve left, that you’ve gone on to play another game of golf with your other friends who left the world behind with you or you’re riding on an endless locomotive, going everywhere you were never able to go while you were still here she tells me, later on, that you and I would get along swimmingly
but I stop her and tell her we already do, never for a second do we doubt the validity of our first meeting even now, all these years after you passed, I know you came back to see me, and tell me ghosts were alright company to keep as long as they didnâ€™t try to take you back there, with them, to wherever it is that ghosts live -BOB RAYMONDA
GRANDMA'S DIMES I. my grandmother, for the past fifteen years has lived in the body of every dime we find my mother and I, and those among us be it on a day where seemingly nothing can go our way, she’s there on the sidewalk, or in the hour when we’ve finally given up she’ll poke her face out, there on the floor of the car we’re driving or some other hidden place we never thought to look maybe we’re just conditioned to search, for her when we’re feeling lost, to take the strength she regained upon leaving all those hospital beds behind in favor of small, near impenetrable silver discs we could hold in our fists, in a jar, or anywhere, really II. some disbelieve the truth of your continued inhabitation, but in the hours after your passing, our house was full of them dozens upon dozens screaming out from the washing machine, begging to be seen, to say, “I promise, I’m still here with you.” but I haven’t questioned the time we’ve spent communicating after you had already left, in fact, I decided I could never afford to not carry you with me. Everywhere I go you’re hanging there from a fleshy space on my forearm, with the face of the God, Mercury, a memorial for all the extra time we didn’t get to have here, in this material realm with one another, our Josephine, you benevolent apparition. -BOB RAYMONDA
LITTLE DEATH, BIG DEATH Jim Raymonda was sixty-seven when he died for the first time and he was sixty-seven when he died for the second time too, he lay there, unconscious on the operating table as an artery in his throat burst and his heart stopped just long enough for them to call it before, giving it one more go, they shocked him back into submission. Enough to save his mind, but not his voice. A voice, I hate to say, that I don’t remember, replaced instead in those last waking hours by the metallic rasp of a blue plastic button held down while a straw was pressed between his thin lips. He seemed so fragile, sitting in his recliner, but my father urged me on, to show him my love, to let him know we’d never forget him or the things he’d sacrificed for us for everyone. It wasn’t long before he died the second time. Two weeks, maybe three, but at least he was at home to do it. I swear, at his funeral the church pews were packed like sardines and mourners spilled out into the parking lot. But I try not to recall these things when I remember him. Instead envisioning the burgers he burnt to a crisp on the grill, or that one time he slipped each of us $5 to buy a cheap toy at the circus even though our father didn’t want him to. -BOB RAYMONDA
WINGLESS In this colorless, midwinter light, I see you again, hatless, poised on that bridge a hundred feet above the black, star-swirled Mississippi. Dried out at last, with that huge beard, I would have thought youâ€™d float like a leaf to the bosom of the water. But you dropped like a stone by the coal docks, missing, in your haste to seize the terror of the moment by its throat, the wide, forgiving river. I think that men go on, in the dark earth, whole again, stroking their long beards, dreaming. If this is not so, do not return, shattered, from the minatory grave to tell me. The wingless cries of the living are torment enough. -RICK ROHDENBURG
THE IMPACT -MELANIE FAITH “Put your left signal on,” I say. 15 minutes until Sarah’s apartment.
We pull to a stop. Molly looks leftright-left. Good girl. She accelerates gently. See, a
“I’ve got it!”
part of me thinks. Safe driver. Best check I ever wrote
“Put it on, Moll.” I fake-reach across
was to that driving school.
the console and she flicks the signal faster than
We proceed. “Did you hear me?”
a lizard’s tongue nabbing a fly. I knew she
“What?” I ask, picking up my phone
and scrolling—dental checkup next week, ad “Dad, stop. I know what I’m doing.
I’m a licensed driver now.”
for life insurance, ad for car insurance, ad for little blue pills—what the?!
As of two whole days, I want to say but don’t. She’s got her hair pulled back and the little freckles on her cheeks are visible. I love those freckles, but if I say something Molly
“Put down your phone. It’s Listen
“The state of Virginia might say you’re a driver, but I’m your father and I know better.”
will spackle them with goop to hide them.
green eyes twinkle. You have to chuckle when your kid parrots you back to
you. Molly’s a good kid. Gets good grades— better than I ever did—does the drama club
the passenger’s window—elm, elm, oak, bare
thing, has a part-time job at Fancy Feet. The
sidewalk, elm. My dad would have said, The state
eyebrow ring I’m not so fond of, but I got a
of Virginia might say you’re a driver, but I’m your
Hammer Time tattoo at sixteen, so it could be
father and I know better. You best pay attention. This
worse. Far worse. Like that dude who drops by
car costs me an arm and a leg.
and sits on the porch, waiting like a puppy for her return. Even if I’m sitting there.
and skateboards and scooters. Kids with knee-
I chuck my phone into the cup holder.
pads and helmets followed by clucking parents
“Ok, Molls. What’s up?” I grin, “Let me
a step away. Man, I’m glad those days are over.
guess—you broke up with Kadence.”
There are worse things than your kid carting
I lean back, forcing myself to look out
A hypnotic, suburban smear of green
Molly rolls her eyes. Pretty and green, like
you around on four wheels until she’s saved
Sarah’s always were. Still are. Still are, I think with
enough for her own.
“No, I am not breaking up with Kadence.” He’s the reason for the eyebrow ring, I can promise you.
“Ew! No. Never.” “What’s wrong with Scarborough? He’s a nice-looking guy.” “I can’t believe you just said that. I’m
We glide through the green light, past
going to pretend it never happened. Haven’t
the string of stores whose names are all puns
you noticed the mole dangling from his chin?
and alliteration, including the purple awning of
Sometimes, when he’s talking, I imagine it’s
speaking its own language. Scarboroughish.”
“You work this weekend?” I ask. “Tomorrow. 8 to 2.” “I might stop by. Get some new running shoes.”
We slide to a stop in front of two SUVs. “That’s petty, kid. Besides, haven’t you ever heard of mole removal?” I make a snipsnip motion.
She accelerates a bit too close to the
She glances in her mirror as the driver
van in front of us, but then catches herself.
behind us honks. She honks back. Toot-toot-
Glances over to see if I’m going to spaz. I’m a
little proud of myself in that moment; I’m one cool customer.
Before I can say anything, she waves and laughs. “I know that girl from drama club,”
“Since when do you run?”
she says, then sits up straighter, suddenly
“I’ll have you know your pops was a
remembering she needs to be serious if I’m
track star in his time.” There’s that laugh. It fills the cab between us with brightness. I could ride with
going to let her borrow the car alone. “Now, listen, Dad.” Left-right-left and proceed. Good girl. My stomach unclenches.
her all morning when she’s like this. When it’s
“I’ve thought about how to say this for
just us and a clear autumn day. When I’ve said
a while and…I ran it by Kadence, even though
the right thing, the thing that makes her shine.
I know you don’t like him, but he’s like this
“Maybe,” she says, “in like the ‘90s or
really great listener and…”
something. But yeah, if you stop by tomorrow,
My stomach clenches again, now
make it around 9. That’s the dead zone, and
tighter than ever. This is the part where she tells me
Scarborough and I just stand there with our
I’m going to be a grandpa. This is the part where my
eyes glazed over.”
face folds in like Sarah’s father’s face when we told him.
“Scarborough. I like that guy. You should go out with him.”
This is the part where what goes around comes around and I never get rid of Kadence.
“Pay attention, alright? This is really important…” There
kid finally does look over, and says softly, are
memorize your kid’s face because you realize she’s not a kid anymore. “I’m listening,” I hear myself say, my voice tinny. A tractor-trailer, piggy-backing, passes us on the left. “Dad, there’s no easy way to say this.” She draws in a shaky breath. Oh, boy. I can set up the crib in the home office. Betsy at work was selling one… “Mom’s engaged.” What? My Sarah? The impact lodges between my ribs. Sarah. Well, why wouldn’t she? It’s been two years since she left. Two years already! I flash back to her wedding dress, the pretty bit of lace over her face, dancing the Macarena, that crazy craze that summer. “I didn’t know she was seeing someone,” I say. Molly doesn’t make eye contact; not even a glance my way. “But,” I rush ahead, “that’s good. Good for her.” There are impacts that are worse than your kid wrecking your car. There are things like hideous diseases that mar and kill, wars.
There are things like when your “Dad… She’s been with Charles for four years.” LR
OLD MASTER DRAWING (Pontormo) Above a shoulder stitched and scarred a straight-on head with down-turned lips and cautious eyes set in deep sockets stares darkly at a life whose silent suffering I would never know but for this trimmed sheet of cream-colored paper in shaded sanguine five hundred years old. -PETER L. SCACCO
WALKING WITH GHOSTS (Hagi, 1994) Along a street of weathered houses whose roofs have long endured the winter rain I walked with ghosts in a city by the sea. The samurai there had long since passed into legend in service to their lord, and I wondered as I passed their homes in the steady rain amid the wet branches, orange-laden, draped over whitewashed walls, how it must have been to be so purposeful, wished I could fathom the grinding burden of their ceaseless task, desired to penetrate the contours of their ghostly resolve as I moved in their glistening steps. At length I left that town content to journey to some far place, completely confident in my own sense of duty, my own desires, and steeped in the illusion of my freedom. Twenty years have passed since I walked those adumbral paths inhabited once by men who stood so firm and upright before they dropped from sight like leaves slipping from the natsumikan trees, softly becoming part of the earth. And I picture myself with those ghosts walking in the rain, questioning them about duty, desire, and freedom, but my questions remain unansweredâ€• in silence now we walk together amid sculpted trees bowed along a path still drenched with the rains of winter in the pale remembrance of a splendid past. -PETER L. SCACCO
ESTHER (ChassĂŠriau) Orient within those eyes those luring jewels your honeyed hair uncoiled to the dark girls who attend your curves, your scented schemingâ€• Ahasuerus waits. -PETER L. SCACCO
Poetry Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Worcester Review, Danse Macabre, Poem, Maryland Poetry Review, South Carolina Review, Florida Review, South Dakota Review, Amarillo Bay, Santa Barbara Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008). He has also taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank. Darren C. Demareeâ€™s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear, in numerous magazines/journals, including Diode, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of six poetry collections, most recently "Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly" (2016, 8th House Publishing). His seventh collection "Two Towns Over" was selected as the winner of the Louise Bogan Award by Trio House Press, and is scheduled to be released in March of 2018. He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. Elizabeth Gilliam received her M.F.A. from Albertus Magnus College in May, 2017. She has embarked on a career in financial advising and continues to write and publish her poetry. Tom Holmes is the founding editor of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics, and author of three full-length collections of poetry, most recently The Cave, which won The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013, as well as four chapbooks. His writings about wine, poetry book reviews, and poetry can be found at his blog, The Line Break: http://thelinebreak.wordpress.com/. You can follow him on Twitter: @TheLineBreak . Jacklyn Janeksela is a wolf and a raven, a cluster of stars, & a direct descent of the divine feminine. She can be found; & elsewhere. She is in a post-punk band called the velblouds. Her baby @ femalefilet. Her chapbook fitting a witch//hexing the stitch (The Operating System, 2017). She is an energy. Find her @ hermetic hare for herbal astrology readings. Michael Milburn teaches English in New Haven, CT. His writing has appeared most recently in Poetry East and Mudlark.
Bob Raymonda is the founding editor of BreadcrumbsMag.com. He graduated from Purchase College with a focus in creative nonfiction. He has been published in Potluck Mag, Visual Verse, & Quail Bell Magazine, with work forthcoming from Occulum, Yes, Poetry, & Tenderness, Yea. Learn more at bobraymonda.co .
Rick Rohdenburg lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and a racing of greyhounds. He attended the Writer's Workshop at Brown University. He works as a systems analyst, which trade he has practiced for 35 years. Peter L. Scacco is the author of five books of poetry: Three Meditations (2016), The Gray Days (2014), Along a Path (2013), A Quiet Place (2012), and Chiaroscuro (2010). Mr. Scaccoâ€™s poems and woodcuts have been featured in numerous print and online journals. He has lived and worked in New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Brussels, and now resides in Austin, Texas. His art can be seen at scaccowoodcuts.com.
Prose Matthew T. Clements is an economics professor at St. Edwardâ€™s University in Austin, TX. He feels that his time spent in academia qualifies him to write satire. You can find more from him via @econdad4104 or phlegmaticblog.com . Melanie Faith is an English professor, a tutor at a college-preparatory school, and a freelance writing consultant. Her writing has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes, and her work placed in the Bevel Summers Prize for the Short Short Story through Shenandoah. She finds joy writing and teaching in several genres, including: poetry, creative nonfiction, flash fiction, flash nonfiction, and instructional/craft articles about the writing process. In the past two years, her photography has been featured in Minute Magazine, Chantwood Magazine, OVS Magazine, Peacock Journal, Birmingham Arts Journal, Cargo Literary Journal, Door is a Jar, and Sandy River Review. Her photography is forthcoming from Fourth and Sycamore. Her historical poetry collection will be published by FutureCycle Press (fall 2017) and a craft book about writing flash fiction and nonfiction will be published by Vine Leaves Press in spring 2018. She is a winner of the Brain Mill Press Driftless Unsolicited Cover Art Contest. For more about her writing and photography, please visit melaniedfaith.com . Jim Rossâ€™s short fiction has appeared in The South Dakota Review, Santa Clara Review, Whiskey Island Magazine, Phantasmagoria, and The Distillery. He recently won Best Story at the Jackson Hole, Wyoming live story telling competition, Story Slam, and his debut novel will be forthcoming as soon as his agent can find it a proper home.
Photography Ameroy Morgan is a visual storyteller. Raised in the small town of Burkesville, Kentucky, her love of photography blossomed surrounded by the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. She quickly grew to love portraits of people and started her focus there. She now calls Bowling Green home and enjoys a good glass of wine, a night surrounded by music, and exploring new areas of the Bluegrass State. You can find more of her work at ameroymorgan.com .
Issue 3 of the Lost River literary magazine. This edition features poetry by Gale Acuff, Darren C. Demaree, Elizabeth Gilliam, Tom Holmes, J...
Published on Nov 29, 2017
Issue 3 of the Lost River literary magazine. This edition features poetry by Gale Acuff, Darren C. Demaree, Elizabeth Gilliam, Tom Holmes, J...