alal Review Literary and Visual Arts
Literary and Visual Arts
Volume 16 : Spring 2016
If the Green Man and the Great Goddess had skin and Bones, They would be Named salal Robert Michael Pyle In calling itself Salal, this journal takes the name of the very plant that binds its region together. When I consider salal, I think of a shiny evergreen shrub that, as much as any other organism, shouts “Washington” as it spurts from the spring-warmed earth. Trying to take its measure once before, in Wintergreen, I wrote of “endless acreage of glossy-leaved salal. Impenetrable, salal gives the impression of one endless, interconnected plant, up and down the Northwest coast.” I have not changed my opinion. Salal is a member of the Ericaceae—the Heaths—related to the red huckleberries with which it conspires to rescue clearcuts, as well as huckleberries, madrona, manzanita, kinnikinnick, pipsissewa, heathers, and rhododendrons. You can see its affinities to these in its muscular ruddy trunks, and especially in its bell-shaped flowers with stamens that slit lengthwise to release their pollen. Big-leaved salal (Gaultheria shallon) ranges all up and down the coast from northern California into Southeast Alaska, and inland well into the Cascade foothills. Another species with smaller, rounder leaves (western teaberry, Gaultheria
ovatifolia) occurs at middle elevations, and alpine wintergreen (Gaultheria humifusa) still higher in the mountains. The habit varies from low, loose growth to ten-or twelve-foot tangles, and the tough, flexible branches withstand crushing by snow. Salal served important roles for the first Northwesterners, who gave it the name. The sticky, pulpy berries provided one of the most abundant and available fruits in their diet. Many Indian groups used salal to sweeten other foods, in a syrup, to dry or pound into a mixed-berry pemmican for travel and trading, to mix with salmon eggs, and for dipping in the prized, rancid grease they made from the smelt (eulachon oil). Few people pick the berries nowadays, compared to blackberries, but I can attest to their wonderful flavor fresh, for jellies, and in salads, pies, and purees. Natives used the young leaves to stave off hunger, and the branches for pit-fires and pot-flavoring. Florists, who value its size, natural shellac, and longevity, employ the foliage extensively. The shrub is cut commercially, along with sword ferns and cascara bark, by out-of-work loggers and others in search of a day’s pay beneath the dappled canopy of the managed forest.
As an ornamental shrub, salal has grown in importance ever since the visiting botanist David Douglas, of fir fame, recognized the plant’s potential and introduced it to Britain in 1828. Arch-botanist Professor Arthur Kruckeberg of the University of Washington, in his classic Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest, writes: “So much a part of the natural landscape and yet so neglected (or even rejected) as an ornamental in former years, it is consoling to see salal now come into its own. For years suburbia has extirpated this lush shrub as though it were a weed. Now it is the ‘cinderella’ plant of the developer and highway engineer.” Those who seek to attract wildlife also love it, as both cover and food source for backyard birds. I think of particular times with salal, in particular places and many others like them. One such time and place was Open Bay on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, visiting my former bird and mammal mentor, Professor Frank Richardson and his wife Dorothy, who made good life in a small cabin for a year while studying the bird migration in that remote locale. Dorothy conjured superb jelly from salal and wild crabapple, the first I’d tasted. And six of us wormed our way through seemingly endless tangles of salal to reach perfect, unpeopled little beaches piled with Japanese glass floats. Or farther down the island in a later March, hiking the Shipwreck Trail (now blandly called the West Coast Trail). That historic lifesaving track was
carved largely through salal, which was in fact one of the main reasons for building it: survivors of wrecked ships could make it to shore, could withstand the mild climate, but died in the end, unable to negotiate the coastline to reach Port Renfrew or Barnfield because of the impenetrable miles of solid salal. Even today, in fact sometimes more so in the absence of Indian fires, salal seems to tie the headlands together up and down the coasts of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. I also think of salal in its hedgelike banks along the roads of the Willapa Hills, loaded with creamy pink bells that may appear in any season but especially in spring, a bonanza for emerging bees. The blooms also supply one of the main host pants for the brown elfins, small sienna butterflies tinged with chestnut and violet that flit improbably among the heaths during sunbreaks on either side of Easter. We enjoy them now here in Gray’s River, and I remember long ago sitting out behind the HUB at the University of Washington, watching brown elfins’ territorial behavior. Males would stake out sunny Fatsia plants along Stevens Way and lie in wait to dart out at passing females or intruding males. They brought a note of vitality to my textbook studies of natural history, sprung from caterpillars feeding on the flowers of the prolific campus patches of salal. Many other insects utilize salal: their edges are
often crimped and scalloped by leafcutting grubs such as the strawberry root weevil, as if by fancy scissors, and inscribed with the loopy runes of leaf mining larvae of micro-moths. One winter, in desperation, I even attempted feeding the gargantuan lime-green, blue-and-orange tubercled serpents that grow into Polyphemus moths on salal leaves. Iâ€™d ended up with a winter generation that kept eating instead of forming cocoons, and after the last oak leaves were gone to brown litter, salal was all there was. I doubt this has ever happened in nature. The vast caterpillars ate the leathery leaves with obvious disdain, and made stunted pupae and grudging, shrunken adults come spring, but they made it through.
I live daily and nightly with salal. There is a thick bed of it by our back porch, the canopy of a native plants garden. It furnishes a windbreak for the kitties, privacy from the road, protective cover for reticulated slugs and velour snails and snail-feeding beetles and such all winter long; a frost-safe tent for maidenhair fern and wood sorrel shamrocks leafing forth in fickle April; sticky fragrant florets in spring, and piquant berries for late summer snacks. Not least, it allows me to feed the cats in the nude, if I am so inclined. We citizens of the Northwest are the lucky ones to have salal all around, an evergreen gift of the wintergreen world, twining us tightly to the land.
Senior Editor Hakkayya Suttlin Editors Sam Anderson Max Brown Chalina Cutts Robin Stewart Jordyn Webb Staff William Forsyth Todd Russell Andy Zahn Advisor Hiedi Bauer
Advice from the Editors
Creating art is difficult: sharing it, even more so. Critics, disguised as people, come at us with gnashing teeth, existing only to call attention to every imperfection. They all have their own “simple” suggestions and “helpful” advice. In truth, all these people really want to do is grab our hands and guide our every line. When we finish, we may wonder: who does this really belong to? Then we worry about rejection, and we agonize that what we have in our heads will never appear on the page quite as we envision it. But why the hell do we care? Art is completely open to interpretation. Everyone has their own idea of what this story means and what that piece of art symbolizes, and while we may find ourselves agreeing with what some of the critics say, more often than not, we are going to disagree about something. And that is what is so great about art! There is a refreshing freedom knowing that we can bring in ten different people and get ten different personal interpretations of the same piece of art, and because they are personal, we aren’t required to agree. Think and say what you want, because at the end of the day, it is you, not them, sitting at that desk, stressing over that mockingly blank page, and only you can fill it. So go on, push aside your mental baggage, quiet your mind, and create!
Chalina Cutts and the Salal team
Table of Contents
Hijacking Carolyn Caines 1
SomeWhere Suzanne Norman 14
Spider Dancer Joy Spreadborough 2
Round and Round We Go Suzanne Norman 15
Half Full Shawna Mayer 3
The Meaning of Life Sydney Schrader 16
Contentment Heather Wooldridge
Universal Suzanne Norman 17
Goodbye Nancy Hari Myers 8
Rain at Rest Nancy Bauer 18
Lighthouse #2 Angel Tapia 10
Bearded Dragon Adelina Delao 19
Floral Complex Sarah Westlund 11
No Escapism Matthew Daems 20
Blue Tigress Jordan Gaynor 12
Heroes Never Prosper Raymond King (Earl Gray)
Zeus Dreams a Mistress Lorraine Merrin 13
Facing Your Demons Raymond King (Earl Gray)
Table of Contents
Unedited Matthew Daems 23
The Deer John Ciminello 37
Reflecting on JFK Jordan Gaynor 26
The Story She Read Carolyn Caines 39
The Birdhouse John Ciminello 27
Tlingit Masks Debby Neely 40
Portrait Jeff Thompson 29
A Storied Evening Carolyn Caines 41
Ritaâ€™s Room Ned Piper 30
Footprints Nancy Zahn 42
Molten Heart Adelina Delao 31 Spin Heather C. Davis 32 Detective Lister Has a Day Mary Stone 33 Conceited Joe M. Fischer 36
Hijacking Carolyn Caines
I am stealing the cargo from your poem, prying open lines and hauling away thoughts to my own empty warehouse. At my desk, I take inventory of your style, your wit, your words and wonder about their worth on the black market. We poets openly admit to thievery. But now and then words arrive, having passed through bolted doors. They simply turn up on the page, no footprints or clues except for the memory of a poem I read last night, lying still in the corner of my mind.
Spider Dancer Acrylic and Watercolor
Half Full Shawna Mayer “Have you read it yet?” “Yeah.” “What the fuck, huh?” “A fourteen page story about a woman staring at a glass of water—that wins the grand prize. I mean, I get internal minimalist.” “Sure, ‘Hills Like White Elephants—’” “Or anything by Virginia Woolf. I hated plowing through her novels, all those well-to-do bitter middle-aged women.” “I’m a careful reader. I majored in English for fuck’s sake. But I didn’t get that story—and I tried, I’m not just pissy because it won and mine didn’t.” “No, yours was better, way better.”
“No, it won’t, because I don’t write stories where a woman stares at a glass of water. I kept waiting—you know, was she going to drink it, was she going to pour it out?” “Throw it against the wall and slit her wrist with the pieces?” “Exactly. In my story the ex-husband would have given her the glass.” “Nice detail.” “Then at the end of the story she would have thrown it down, but it would have just bounced on the linoleum—not shattered.” “If I’d have written it there would have been vodka in the glass.” “The vodka would have to be symbolic of something.”
“And the bio, that was the kicker. She’s got a fellowship in New Hampshire, artist-inresidence. Seeing that made me sick to my stomach.” “Just hang in there and keep submitting, one of these days the right story will hit the right editor, and it’ll be you getting that phone call.”
“Yeah—the couple bought it on their last vacation together, and it was the only thing that remained when he left her. He boxed up everything else and this was the only reminder—” “Oh wait, they’re selling the house—after the divorce, and she’s alone in the house, and opens that cabinet above the fridge, the one she never gets into because it’s too high and awkward, and
there it is—the expensive vodka she’d hidden away, thinking they’d drink it together on New Year’s.” “But they forgot about it.” “The New Year came and went and now there’s dust on the bottle, she should run her thumb across the dust on the cap, just to underline that point.” “Exactly.” “So here she is alone in this empty house, waiting for the real estate agent to come to sign the papers.” “So where is the husband?” “Good question.” “Let’s say he’s on his way over—she’s expecting him to show up any minute, dreading it, but anticipating it at the same time. You show that through her eyes, going to the window to check the driveway, then dropping back down to the glass. She’s thinking, is the vodka going to make this better or worse? Are they going to have a moment about all the water under the bridge or is it all going to blow up in her face again, with more bickering, and more bullshit.” “So where’d she get the glass then?” “Hmmm.”
“You said the house was empty—all packed up, so there wouldn’t have been any glasses.” “The lady had McDonald’s—she’d run through the drive-thru on her way to the house. She was sitting there alone, eating her McDouble over the sink, dipping her fries —thinking how they never give you enough ketchup, and she’s slurping down her Coke, so she has this fast food cup, so that’s the cup she pours the vodka in.” “So it wasn’t a gift from the ex.” “Nope, not anymore.” “The cup still symbolizes their relationship— disposable.” “Oh, that’s some good English major-y stuff there.” “Ha, I just made it up. Sounds good though, doesn’t it?” “Convincing.” “That’s what I’ll tell Terry Gross in the interview.” “So, anyway—then what happens?” “It’s getting later and later, and the ex doesn’t show and neither does the real estate agent. The sun starts to set. Our protagonist—” “We should give her a name. I hate it when writers don’t name their characters, it’s so stupid.”
“Okay, we’ll call her Linda. Linda is sitting there, getting mad. She’s walking through the empty rooms thinking about all the things they’ve done in those rooms. Like the back bedroom, she flashes to the two of them fighting over paint colors—they had a huge row over Mossy Oak versus Hint of Mint. It ends with him saying something like…” “Jesus Christ, Linda, green is green!” “Okay so now we have a color—gotta stick with that—make a window, bring it back.” “When the husband is finally showing up, he’s wearing green.” “Maybe—I’m not sure we want him to show up.” “Don’t go Waiting for Godot on me here.” “Hear me out. Let’s call our ex Greg.” “Greg and the realtor are sleeping together!” “No—that’s cheap. I didn’t spend all this time creating these people just so the story can end in some kind of screaming match. We’re competing with woman-staring-at-a-glass-of-water. No violence, no sex, no action of any kind, the literary journals want everything cerebral.” “Okay, how would you play it?” “Linda goes into the master bedroom and sees the marks on the floor where the furniture used to be,
and she tries to fix the carpet with her shoe. But of course, it can’t be fixed. And, Bingo, point two, another echo back to the broken relationship.” “If she just wanders through the house, that’s not any better than staring at a glass of water.” “Linda is thinking great thoughts—it’s all internal remember, with flashbacks. She tries to call Greg, but the call goes straight through to voicemail. She calls the agent’s office, they say the gal left a half hour ago, she should be there by now.” “So she’s back in the kitchen staring out the window. She pours out the brown-tinged ice from the Coke and struggles with the vodka bottle.” “It’s got one of those lids on it like Grey Goose has—looks like a twist off, but it has a cork attached to it so you have to wiggle it out.” “Just make it Grey Goose.” “What if it’s a Moscato wine?” “That might be too hard. If there’s a cork, how does she get that out? It’s too much to believe she left behind a corkscrew too.” “Maybe she’s got one on a Swiss army knife.” “You’re overthinking it. It bogs the story down. It’s top shelf vodka—and she finally wrestles the cork out—a metaphor for her newly-single self-sufficiency.”
“You got it. So Linda pours a few glugs in the glass and then pauses, and sips. She doesn’t care for the taste, but she’s committed to this now. Just like the single life. She didn’t plan it, but she’s gonna go with it. She thought she was going to be the divorcee who ate salads with vinaigrette and mandarin oranges at a sidewalk café with the latest bestseller—not fast food out of a bag.” “Man, I feel bad for her. I want to know more about Greg.” “You don’t get to. It all has to be from her side. Greg has his own story, but it’s not getting told here. This is Linda staring into her Mickie D’s cup as night falls—and she’s looking out the window hoping it’s the agent who shows up first, not Greg, because she dreads being alone with him again, so she takes another drink, and another. She looks out the window and sees something synonymous with the season. Leaves falling—or tree buds, a robin maybe—kids playing in a sprinkler—snow? You could make it anything; just shoehorn whatever symbol tickles your fancy.” “You gotta leave the reader with a little hope— make it spring.” “Maybe—these literary types, they aren’t big on hope.” “You’re sure cynical.” “It comes from writing for twenty years and getting rejected. Now, here’s how I see the end.”
“Do tell.” “Night has fallen.” “Yeah.” “She’s leaning over the sink, staring out the window.” “That’s it?” “No—that’s not it, shut up and let me finish.” “Jeez, go for it.” “Linda pours some more vodka in her cup and swirls it around, she watches the liquid slosh a bit. You know: the whole half full/half empty trope. Then a car slows on the street and turns in the drive. She squints trying to make out, is it Greg or the agent? It doesn’t quite sound like his car, you know? Then almost immediately, a second car stops in front of the house, but before either of those characters can walk through the front door—Linda forces the cork back into the bottle and shoves it into her purse—she’s got one of those big oversized designer bags you see everywhere these days—we’ll have to establish that at some point toward the beginning—anyway. Linda swigs what’s left, coughs and exhales. And that’s where the story ends—with Linda beginning to feel that light-headed rush as the vodka hits her stomach. The door knob rattles, and she’s holding that empty paper cup.”
Black & While Charcoal on Gray Paper
Goodbye Nancy Hari Myers We gathered on the beach at low tide: her brother, a daughter, two granddaughters and friends, with the little dog â€œPeedle.â€? The wind battered a bouquet of bright balloons against the marble grey sky. Lightheartedly, we chose a site and dug in, piling up the wet sand, packing it in pails, shaping walls, towers and chambers; hers faced the ocean in the center of the wall, and to top it all, a spire pointing skyward. Our hands raced against a changing tide We talked about her antics, about her habits and her passions.
Impatiently, she snatched a blue balloon away, her favorite color. It was just the kind of thing sheâ€™d do. The balloon danced in the air, shrank to a speck and disappeared.
The castle was not quite done, when the first rogue wave flooded the moat, eroding portions of the outer wall. Releasing the rest of the balloons in unison, they rose and streaked along the beach into the clouds, delivering our messages of love. The waves washed in more frequently, surrounding the castle. Towers and walls sloughed off. The granddaughters stood beside the castle as her chamber breached. Ash grey blended with sand grey swirling in the surf around their feet. Goodbye. Go away. Itâ€™s time for you to leave. The waves receded briefly, then returned to wash the spire down, except for one defiant shard, which succumbed to the next big wave, leaving only a smooth mound, then barely a bump in the sand, then...nothing.
Lighthouse # Photograph
Floral Complex Sarah Westlund He wanted to be beautiful, so he swallowed flowers wholeâ€” trying to absorb their beauty Eating; Marigolds, Daisies, Carnations, Lilies . . . He only ate flowers that he found the most stunning But none could make him look beautiful; none could make him feel beautiful In desperation he consumed an entire field of wildflowers Pollen lining his lips, his sweat and blood were perfume He searched everywhere for the most beautiful flower of all He found the rose Without a thought he swallowed the fleshy-scarlet petals, potent with sickly sweetness Even the stem, studded with thorns went down his throat Thorns which tore his inner beauty
Blue Tigress Pastels
Zeus Dreams a Mistress Lorraine Merrin He is sky and fire and wields power far and wide. She is sea and ice, cool against his fever. He could consume her, dare she rise up from water and make her way, dripping, to shore, kelp braided in her hair, sand dollar in her pocket. He reaches for her, only to have the glass ribbon of night shatter under Moon’s cold heat. An anguished roar of pain and rage opens the purple sky as it cracks, tilts, and stars slide off, diamond points burning out as they fall away. Zeus desires what is blood, muscle and breath; his voice thunders through the heavens, ricochets off mountains, echoes from the oceans. He’ll not have it— such a jealous Moon, for is she not free to choose her own? Then let him be, if mortal is what he craves. He’ll lift Moon from her place, set her upon the sea to float without light or anchor; without any shoreline for reference. No good sailor will want her, for fear she’ll simply ride the currents, turn to salt and foam, leaving the night forever blind.
White Gel Pen & White Charcoal on Black Poster Board
Round and Round We Go 15
Gel Pen & Color Pencil
The Meaning of Life Sydney Schrader
The meaning of life is pi And no I’m not talking about the dessert I’m talking about the number that goes on and on forever Because that’s what humans do; We add to our greatness, We subtract our failures, We divide and conquer We multiply and divide There’s nothing to stop us from going on and on forever Even with gravity trying to hold us down we’ve still managed to reach the stars; Sure, sometimes we repeat But unlike some numbers we’ll always round up Because human beings are real, not imaginary Yes, we can be irrational But in the end we always get our point across And we haven’t even reached our full potential; There is still room to expand There is still room to strengthen our roots There is still room to achieve our greatest power So that in the end you’ll discover that humans are equal to or greater than infinity….
Rain at Rest Photography
Bearded Dragon Adelina Delao
No Escapism Matthew Daems Sheets of bullets, gold lances flying. Weighed by dead eyes, dreams a’ dying. Text appearing, fingertips dancing, Characters born in blood, sobbing. Readers cheer and talk about the pacing Can’t put the damn thing down, pulse a’ racing Lifting up the plot so they can avoid facing, That bloated corpse, in the gutter. A real-life ending to put shame to any storybook. The protagonist rises from the page with a smile. Unrestricted he walks through the fourth wall. He says it’s us that brings a surging of his bile. Those people he killed were real after all. It was gut-punching, dark, and vile. But he’d be lying if he said he didn’t have a fucking ball.
Heroes Never Prosper Digital
Raymond King (Earl Gray)
Facing Your Demons Digital
Raymond King (Earl Gray)
Unedited Matthew Daems You know, this is a really nice condo: up on a short seaside cliff, almost-wall-sized windows, polished mahogany floors, classical ironic not-hipster layout, and easy, gentle, Hawaiian music. This place is the perfect vacation get-away. As lavish as it is though, I didn’t come here for vacation; a deal needs honoring, and I’m looking to keep one of the parties, well, honest. And wouldn’t you know, there he is, cowering in the corner, the bastard. Francis is lanky, with short and ragged blonde hair, sunken, pale skin, wearing a swank cotton-gray suit with fresh gore all over it. At least it masks his shitty cologne. He scrabbles away from me on his palms and heels, like a coked-up crab. Poor guy puts a couple feet of distance between us, turns his back to me, then sets new records for speed-crawling. Huh. I guess all the shredded organs and concaved brain pans sent a fucking message. Oh, and the blood. Floor’s so damn wet with it it’s hard to keep my footing. I stroll toward him and pause for a moment to take the scene in; the stink of iron and shit fills the condo, and my Augmented Reality HUD lights up with EKGs and other readouts. If, for some reason, I couldn’t tell from the smashed skulls and ginsued bellies that they were in fact corpses, my implants are showing flat lines, no air intake, and cooling bodies. This neat little gadget also tells me stories about myself: Heart
Rate: 120 bpm, B.P.: 110/75, Dopamine Level: Normal, hydration, respiration, etc.… and the most vital of vital stats, my view-count. Shit, that reminds me…”Hey there Francis. Sorry for dropping in on you like this, but you know how I get when you miss one of our playdates without callin’ first.” “Please don’t kill me!” he shouts. He turns back around to face me, his back pressed into the wood wall hard enough to dent it. That’s good. It means he’s buying what I’m selling, and if he’s buying it, then so are the viewers. I stalk closer to him, and do my best to not let on that I’m damn-near face-planting onto the blood-slicked hardwood floor. There he is, sitting on his ass, back to the wall, with me towering over him, staring straight down into his eyes. He turns his head to the side and chokes back a gag. I’m really nailing the soliloquy. Too bad the techs are squelching the fun stuff. Fuckin’ censors. What’s my view-count? A cool five-mil. Not bad, not bad. I look Francis up and down, taking special note of his shallow, rapid breaths, and his whopping 220 bpm heart-rate. I crouch down, pop the foot-long pneumatic razorblade embedded in my right forearm, and put the edge to his throat. “Not here to gank you, Frankie. I just wanna talk. You’re the one who stood me up, left me hanging on that park bench all out in the open, remember? Fuck, even now
I still wasn’t lookin’ for a fight, just your rent-athugs told me you didn’t wanna see me, and by that I mean they actually literally told me they were gonna castrate me and shove my cock up my own ass. If they had just let me by, so I could talk with you, like I wanted, they’d all still be alive.” Dammit. His system is flooded with fucking cortisol and adrenaline right now. Maybe my act is a little too good. Villains and monsters have always come naturally to me. Oh hey, seven-mil now. Hello pay raise. Please, please keep taking the bait, please don’t suspect… I grab one of the syringes from the case on my right thigh and pop him right in the neck. Half a dose of oxytocin should level him off a bit. Yeah I need him scared, but I need him coherent too. “So what’s up, man? Why’d you stiff me like that, hm?” He stops losing his shit enough to make actual speech. “I’m sorry I’m sorry,” he sobs. Lovely. Fucking lovely. “Someone found out, they found out I was going to meet you, so they set up the ambush! I didn’t have time to warn you! I barely got away myself!” Oh no. Was it them? Do the techs know what I’ve really bought? ”When I realized what was going on, I tried to go to ground, protecting what you wanted until we could meet again.” Finally. I adjust the blade, press it right up against his carotid. The fans love it when I threaten slimeballs like this guy. “Your one chance of me letting you walk away alive from cheating me, is giving me what I paid for, right now. “My one shot at this is to make this look like it’s about money. This has to look like me looking for revenge or compensation after being cheated. “You still have it, right? The item I fucking paid for?”
He slowly stands, staggers over to the sink, and gags. I see something small and metallic flit from his mouth and clatter around in the basin. Ow. I lower my implant’s audio sensitivity. He reaches down into the sink, and his hand returns holding what looks like a small metal sliver. “Here you go. The software upgrade.” I lunge forward, snatch the data drive, and insert it into my cranial slot. When I see the words “Network Security Override: Access Granted” scroll across my HUD, I cackle hysterically. “I won, you fuckers, I won!” Now ten million people are gonna see it all, completely unedited. I send dupes of all my recordings to every email on file. I splice new trailers in the videos, made from all that formerly-restricted footage. The movie about me kidnapping the oil tycoon’s brat now shows the bits where she whispers “Thank you daddy,” as I cradle her in my arms and run while they paste my dermal-armored back with gunfire. The one where I butcher that whole village now includes that scene where they’ve got a gun to my brother’s head, and I’m tied up and shouting, “No! No! PLEASE GOD NO!” My sex sequence with the plucky love-interest in the red dress is followed by the deleted scene in which I hand off a wad of bills to her and she says, “Same time next week.” With all that done, I set to work on a new project, a little bonus video about my next feature, for all my devoted fans. I pull up the footage of the tech instructing me as to the role I’m supposed to play in the next few stories. Instead of the chest-out shoulders-back stance I’m known for, I’m slumped, and I keep my
voice soft and low. “Please, I’m tired of playing the villain. Please, don’t make me do this anymore.” The tech responds by hitting the toggle on my remote and what feels like fire straight from a royally pissed God plows down my spine and out along my extremities. “That was five-thousand volts. The systems we installed in your body are capable of generating, and surviving, ten times that much. The sensors will tell your artificial glands to produce an epinephrine drip, just to make sure you stay with us through the pain.” I put a scene changeover in by way of a fade-out. I sneak over to that tech’s house in the middle of the night and murder his ass. Put my trademark razorblade right in the fucker’s belly, douse the body in diesel, and strike a match. Had to cap this neat video off with a little
tag-speech. After all, most important thing is selling it, right? S’okay though. A lot of planning went into this, and I’d known even back then what I wanted to say to those asshats, and I couldn’t stop the little grin that crept into my expression when I heard the playback from all those years ago: “Think of this as a message. None of you are safe. I can hit you where you sleep, where you work, I know what schools your children go to, I know what your favorite foodstuffs are, there are a million ways I can get to you, and I’m not interested in negotiating. Consider this a fucking courtesy, giving you time to get your shit together. Then I will come for you, as the villain you always wanted me to be.”
Reflecting on J FK Charcoal
The Birdhouse John Ciminello I built a bird house today with a saw and a hammer, a level and a plan that comes together with vague measurements, rough cuts, a sack full of nails and a few timely curses for the cracked and splintered siding and the sacrifice of blood smeared in the oily pits of dark metal tools stained with the juices of I can do this. Born from the tailings of other projects, the little structure begins with a porch and miniature columns from an alder branch broken in last December’s windstorm, cedar shakes from Bob’s old roof, a square of vinyl from the Comet Cafe and a crooked little opening suspended somewhere between the Twilight Zone and One Step Beyond. I must have had in mind the episode where the young man receives tools from three visitors, old men from another time, another world, and before the elders chance to present the master plan, the blueprint to construct world peace, end hunger, or build a better birdhouse, the fearful neighbors intervene with pitchforks and flaming torches crying, “you can’t do this.”
So I bang away with my grandfatherâ€™s hammer and cut wood with Uncle Chuckâ€™s saw to cobble an uneven place in this world where I am unashamed to give you a tour of the inside of this small house creaking with sacrifice and deferred promises, as if to indicate this is as far as I could go with the tools and plans given me as a young man setting out to shape my future piece of comfort. And the work is almost done, a twig for a banister, a trough for seeds and cracked corn, and a rusted hinge to keep the Sterling jays from bullying the new tenants, of course the final touches are for the birds, no one else much cares if the ridgepole is a half-bubble off center or the joints exhibit a rough-tempered impatience when my imagined ends fail to meet my less then ample means. When the paint dries, I attach a cord of hemp through eyehooks fastened on all sides and woven into a web of strands to keep the structure safe from chipmunks and other interlopers, tossing a nylon rope over over a high branch, I elevate my misshapen offering into the apple tree for every wandering being to behold and admire.
Wet Plate Collodion Photography
Rita'’ s Room Ned Piper They (it doesn’t matter who they are) They tried to tell me it was only a painting, A hunk of cloth with dabblings of oil on it, But I couldn’t listen ... I could only look. They all (every worried one of them) They all said it reeked of too much background black. I pointed out the subtle browns, But they spat and said some unrepeatables. One chap (the one who was smoking) One chap complained it was too dotty, But to me (also smoking) each yellow dot Was a movement ... with a story behind. The girl (who almost liked it, but couldn’t quite) The girl asked me what it was? I squinted, she squinted, and the moments passed Before she awoke to its simple peacefulness. They (it still doesn’t matter who they are) They left their place before the frame, They left the girl and I to shiver In the stillness of the pictured scene. “It’s a city,” she said. “A city in its nighttime,” I was found to add. “The windows coming through the blackness wink like yellow sparks,” she said, and sighed. One window (the red, the only red window) One window seemed to burn, and want a little, Perhaps wishing to be yellow like the rest, Perhaps open wide, its red light shouting In brazen defiance to the cold, cold night.
Molten Heart Adelina Delao
Spin Oil on Canvas
Heather C. Davis
Detective Lister hAs A Day Mary Stone Homicide Detective Jonah Lister’s gut churned. Under pressure to unearth something— anything—to nudge the investigation of Ophelia Wentworth’s case forward, Lister had skidded smack into a dead end. His gut wouldn’t leave him alone on another matter, either. It told him that eighty-five-year-old Mrs. Lonagrand’s fall down the stairs was not simply a stroke of bad luck. Despite Lister’s opinion on the matter, the coroner had ruled it an accidental death. Furthermore, investigators had found no foul play. Still, Lister knew he was right. What were the odds of two elderly widows—living in neighboring manors—coming under attack within weeks of each other? The phone on his desk rang. “Detective Lister here.” “Is this the gumshoe that lives in Cavashahn Mansion?” a gravelly-voiced woman asked. Lister sat up, switched the receiver to his left ear and grabbed a pen. “Who am I speaking to?” “My mother mentioned your name several weeks ago. Said you were living next door with a pretty young woman.” “Not exac …” “Mom said she felt safer having you as a neighbor. But the reason I’m calling,” she paused. “Well, the thing is … I don’t think Mom fell down the stairs by accident.”
Lister straightened his tablet, poised his pen. “What did you say your name was?” “Shirl Swecker. Well, Shirley actually.” “Miss Swecker, what is your mother’s name and what leads you to believe her fall was not accidental?” The lady offered a throaty giggle. “I’m not a Miss. Technically I’m not a Mrs. either, since my husband passed away thirteen months and eleven days ago.” She paused, then added. “And six hours.” Lister clicked the pen nib in and out. Why did older women move at glacial speed getting to the point? He detested phone conversations—couldn’t look callers in the eye. He had a habit of mentally sizing them up. This woman was a smoker. Leather complexion. Probably in her mid-sixties. Wispy, grey hair. Age spots on her hands. Flabby arms. “As I was saying, Mom never had a rug at the top of the stairs. She was death on that.” Lister heard Shirl suck in air. “Oh, my heaven’s sake, forgive my choice of words.” Shirl paused. Lister imagined Shirl had saggy jowls. “There I go again … for heaven’s sake. You know I believe Mom is there now. Probably snooping around.” Shirl’s chuckle erupted into a phlegmy cough. “What is … was your mother’s name?” “I thought you were a detective.”
“S’right.” Lister bit back what he wanted to say. “Then shouldn’t you already know my mother’s name? I mean after all, Longview isn’t that big to have more than one woman die by falling down the stairs.” Shirl coughed. Lister snuffed out an image of phlegm being dislodged. “Am I correct in assuming your mother was Daisy Lonagrand?” Shirl chortled. “Well, you are on the ball.” Lister pinched the bridge of his nose, hoping that nerve firing wasn’t a headache coming on. “You say Mrs. Lonagrand would definitely not have had a rug at the top of the stairs?” “Absolutely not. She had one down the hall just inside the guest bedroom. But it was on the carpet so’s not to slip. She insisted that guests wipe their feet before going into the room.” Lister knew there was throw rug crumpled at the top of the stairwell at the time of Lonagrand’s fall. “Mrs. … Shirl, would you mind coming in to give a statement?” “My car’s in the shop. I’ve been having trouble with the transmiss—“ He stifled a sigh. “What’s your address?” Fifteen minutes later he pulled into Shirl’s driveway in the Highlands area. Venetian blinds moved inside the house. Seconds later, the back screen door opened. A woman in her mid-sixties waddled out. Her jacket half on, she lifted her left arm to slide it into the other sleeve. A generous amount of flesh dangled from her elbow to her armpit. Wrong call on the hair, though. Her metallic-orange mane frizzed in all directions. She had her door opened before Lister made it
around to the passenger side. “Shirl Swecker?” “Yep, that’s me—in the flesh.” She looked him over, her gaze resting on his face. “Mom said you were a real hottie. Or maybe she said you were a real looker.” Lister couldn’t recall ever having seen this woman visit next door. And he definitely would have remembered. He’d moved into Cavashahn shortly after Ophelia Wentworth’s attack to provide security for the mansion’s valuable contents. Shirl slammed her door and belted in. “Let’s go.” Lister scooted behind the steering wheel. Shirl was in mid-sentence. “ … two months of transmission trouble … too far to walk. But … was on the phone with her every day. It was a real inconven—” “We don’t have to go to the station. I have a computer here in the cruiser,” Lister explained. While he clicked the keypad, drawing up the form, Shirl babbled on about her husband’s gory demise and the challenges of getting back into dating. Her voice drifted in his right ear and out his left—“I signed up for Match.com blah, blah, blah …” Lister’s fingers fumbled as he tried to focus. The screen he needed appeared. Time to rein her in. What would have normally required only twenty minutes, took the better part of an hour. Finally, they finished. A gust of air escaped Lister. He had her sign her statement, and dreaded asking the next question. “Shirl, would you mind accompanying me to your mother’s house?” If he could find something—anything—he would reopen the case. ***
At her mother’s house, Shirl opened the back door. Lister knew forensic photos of this entrance had captured nothing of importance. As he walked through the kitchen, his eyes once again scanned the room. A fastidious woman, only Mrs. Lonagrand’s fingerprints had turned up. If an intruder had wiped everything down, Mrs. Lonagrand’s prints wouldn’t have been present either. “Mom was neat as a pin about everything,” Shirl said. “It drove her batty for anything to be out of whack.” In the living room, Lister stood in the middle and did a three-sixty. His gaze came to the padded rocker beside the window. Beside it, the phone sat part way off the table. Beside the AT&T touchtone sat a pair of binoculars. Most likely the old lady’d had him in her crosshairs across the driveway at one time or another. He’d stood here at the window just minutes after Lonagrand was discovered. This time he eased onto her chair and peered out through the sheer curtain. She would’ve seen movement outside, but Lister guessed she would’ve moved the drapes aside for a clear look. He turned to Shirl. “How was your mother’s eyesight?”
“Eagle-eyed, she was. Didn’t hear too good. But by golly nothing escaped her sight.” As Lister leaned forward to rise, he detected a slender ridge beneath the rocker’s cushion. Lifting it, he spied a notepad. Shirl threw her arms in the air. “I looked everywhere for that.” She shuffled toward it. “Here, give me that. I’ll toss it in the box with the others. Mom filled one up every month or so.” Lister gently stiff-armed her. “Don’t touch it.” Shirl looked hurt, then confused. “I’ll bag it for evidence. Never know what we’ll find.” “Hmmph. I can tell you what you’ll find.” Shirl crossed her arms over her ample bosom. “She jotted down stupid stuff. Like what time Mom’s neighbor, Mrs. Wentworth, left the house. If somebody came there. Though I know that hardly ever happened. Stuff like that.” Lister’s pulse quickened. Mrs. Wentworth had taken a bullet to the brain six weeks ago—inside Cavashahn Mansion. Shirl winked. “Bet you’re recorded in there, too.” Lister felt like hugging her. Or not. “It’s not every day a guy gets this lucky,” he said. Shirl batted her eyelashes. “Oh, detective, I’m much too old for you. Or not,” she said.
Conceited Acrylic on Canvas
Joe M. Fischer
The Deer John Ciminello Highway 401 in the dark near Davis Creek where the road dips and the crooked snag looms roadside, out of no where from the left side, the blindside, a young buck with velvet antlers, eyes wide with fear in mid-stride flesh, hoof, and bone collides with metal and glass, the side-view mirror collapses, my steering wheel jerks right and brakes seize as tires, knuckles, nerves, and dread slide in slow motion toward the darkness of the snag. In a small office on the west side of the Interstate, near the pre-fab plastics plant where the aroma of carcinogens sweetens and sours the air, out of the blue after three months of retirement, after years of leading and driving with the emergency brake on, he walks in, sits down and tells me the board has asked him to return as chief and the operations have hit a snag so his first order of business, “You’re fired!”
In the shock of an afterlife waiting for the tremors to cease, I begin to pick up the pieces: a strip of body molding, photographs of friends and family, the side-view mirror, a Superman coffee mug inscribed with â€œThe Man of Steel,â€? a drawer full of cards and clips and ink pens never used, and finally I reach for my clock always set 15 minutes ahead and now I puzzle for a purpose, a reason or a sense of time. Memory is the seep of water through stone, and time the silence between here and now, like splitting the second and waking up the moment before impact, in another Kingdom the lame will run swift as a deer, on this stretch of highway I search for recovery and redemption, no blood, no hair, no sign of life, remaindered in the cold air a small dent on the front quarter panel and skid marks on the road.
The Story She Read Carolyn Caines It was in grade school. I can’t remember the teacher’s name or the classroom. I do remember laying my head down on my desk, the scent of wood and varnish mingling with a whiff of pencil shavings and children sweaty from recess. Our teacher insisted we rest, even close our eyes as she read. Perhaps that’s why I can’t picture her, only remember the sound of her voice reading Misty of Chincoteague or Black Beauty. In my imagination, I saw each horse, each character and scene. I could hear hooves pounding the earth, feel the spray of water, hear the whinnying stallion. Not a sound in the classroom as she read, only her voice and the turning of a page. And when she closed the book, a universal moan would erupt, a plea for her to read more. Maybe it was to delay a math lesson, or maybe we didn’t want to come back from the story so soon.
Tlingit Masks Wood: carved, woodburned, color pencil, acrylic
A Storied Evening Carolyn Caines Scarlet and gold curtains framed the stage. We sat together looking out on the fog-draped street. Chandelier lights reflected in the windows off Broadway. Fan blades high above us rotated in rhythm, sounding like distant, muffled clapping. Time and temperature blinked like stage lights from a bank sign across the street. Truck headlights moved like ghosts through the intersection outside, while crisscrossing traffic never paused. They were not interrupted by the chairs scraping across the floor or by poems we read and stories we told. The story outside continued on not needing our applause and adulation. The hours remain posted on the door, and the Open sign glows in the window, but all that is left of the audience now are crumpled napkins and straws standing in empty glasses.
Contributing Artists Nancy Bauer has lived her life in Washington State, and had many opportunities to capture the way she sees things through the lens of her camera. She never runs out of subjects. She’d like to leave a photograph or two as her legacy for the generations to come. Carolyn Caines is a third-generation area resident and retired teacher who has published a novel, a family history, and four books of poetry. More than 175 of her poems have appeared in various publications. John Ciminello lives in Naselle, Washington, and his work has appeared in various publications such as The Sun, Rain, Analog, Mentor, and The Salal Review. His chapbook of award winning haiku “Shrine Above High Tide” came out in 2009. Matthew Daems was born and raised in Washington State, so he’s lived in the Lower Columbia region for most of his life. He enjoys writing in specific genre conventions more than others, but he values quality of writing and substance over the window-dressing elements of genre fiction. Heather C. Davis recently arrived here from Astoria, Santa Fe, L.A., Scottsdale, Pocatello, and Mendocino, among other places. She has taught university classes and elementary students, and followed her dreams of being an archaeologist, artist, writer and mother along the way. Adelina Delao is inspired through her past, current and future life events. Art has been her passion since she was a small child, and her hands are the apparatus for her life’s work. Each piece she creates contains substantial personal realization. Joe M. Fischer is an Air Force Veteran who moved to Longview in 1994 from Buffalo, NY where he taught drawing, painting and art history for the University of Buffalo and Empire State College. Locally he has completed murals for Guse’s Gourmet Coffee, Papa Pete’s Pizza, Lower Columbia Head Start, and Habitat for Humanity. Several of his painting are in the Lower Columbia College Art Collection.
Jordan Gaynor attends Lower Columbia College, pursuing a career in the medical field. Raymond King (Earl Gray) is an artist currently living in Castle Rock, but his family works in the Lower Columbia area. He uses both traditional and digital media for his artwork. When he’s not doing commissions, he continues work on his own personal projects. Shawna Mayer’s parents are originally from Portland, Oregon, and she has visited the area many times over the years. Currently living in Springfield, Illinois, she works for the Board of Higher Education but still dreams of returning to live in the area, perhaps evidenced by the fact that she stumbled across Salal’s request for submissions as a part of her internet wanderings. Lorraine Merrin’s poems have appeared in several literary journals, two anthologies, and a poetry collection, Holding Tight To Gravity’s Tail. Currently residing in this green corner of Washington, she is a child of the desert. Hari Myers is a native of Cowlitz County. He has lived for over thirty years near Kalama, in a reprehensibly normal life that screams at him to put it down on paper. He only does what he has to do. Debby Neely moved to Woodland in 1979 and is an art instructor at Lower Columbia College. She learned the art and craft of woodcuts from Carolyn Brookhart while attending art classes at Lower Columbia College in the early 1980’s. The wood grain always has an effect on the end result and enjoys the power of white and black images with this medium. Her piece, “Tlingit Masks”, is an interpretation of a book “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher” by Timothy Egan. Suzanne Norman has been painting since 2011. She started with spray paint as a medium due to the speed at which a piece can be accomplished. She also works in other media: gel pens, water color, scratch board, acrylic, soft pastels, and 3D resin art. She is working currently with acrylic and canvas, which she finds challenging yet rewarding, and loves learning about new media and techniques to better her art.
Ned Piper was born and raised in Longview and graduated from Lower Columbia College in 1960 before transferring to the University of Washington. He later served as President of the Lower Columbia College Foundation Board. He spent fourty-five years in the life insurance business and has served the community for the past twenty-three years as a Cowlitz PUD commissioner. Ned is currently the advertising manager for his wife’s newspaper, The Columbia River Reader. He writes a monthly column in the Reader. Robert Michael Pyle writes essays, poetry, and fiction from an old Swedish farmstead along a tributary of the Lower Columbia River in the Willapa Hills of southwestern Washington. He has published nineteen books, most recently Chinook & Chanterelle. A Guggenheim Fellow, he has received several writing awards as well as the John Adams Comstock Award for his work in butterfly ecology. Robert holds a Ph.D. in Lepidoptera Ecology and Conservation from Yale University. Sydney Schrader is a freshman at Lower Columbia College looking to continue on to a university. Her passion is writing. Joy Spreadborough is a former Salal Review editor. She has been going to Lower Columbia College for the last three years. She is an artist and a writer, and is really passionate about art. Her creations tend to be “weird and kind of creepy.” Each of her pieces tells a story and evokes emotion in its viewers. Mary Stone retired after thirty years as a counselor at Lower Columbia College and was awarded Faculty Emeritus. Her previous works of prose and poetry have appeared in The Salal Review, Rambunctious Review, Mature Living, Joyful Woman, Evangel, Seek, the Love Is a Flame anthology, and the I Choose You anthology. Her book Run in the Path of Peace--the Secret of Being Content No Matter What was a finalist in the Oregon Christian Writers’ 2013 Cascade Writing Contest. Angel Tapia is a twenty-one-year-old student at Lower Columbia College who enjoys drawing, writing, and photography. Around 90% of his pictures are taken outside. Constantly inspired by the beautiful scenery of the Pacific Northwest, he never runs out of things to photograph.
Jeff Thompson has lived in Clark County for over thirty years, has served as a firefighter with the Longview Fire Department for fifteen years, and has taught as a part-time instructor for the Lower Columbia College Fire Science Program since 2004. He is drawn to the richness and handcrafted aspects of traditional black and white photography, specifically the wet plate collodion process. Sarah Westlund is a junior at Rainier High School. She has lived in Rainier, Oregon her entire life. The poem she submitted was written in her Sophomore Honors English class. She also shared the same poem at the Oregon Writerâ€™s Festival that spring. Heather Wooldridge has lived her whole life in Cowlitz County, primarily in Longview. She worked nearly thirteen years for St. John Medical Center, and has served three terms in the Cowlitz County AmeriCorps. She was then hired as a Career and Enrollment Specialist at Lower Columbia College. She is currently enrolled at Warner Pacific College. Along with her passion for helping others, she has a deep passion for art in many forms. She loves to write, draw, make jewelry, and create various other crafts. Nancy Zahn is a graduate of the University of Alaska and a long-time resident of Toutle, where she spends her time homeschooling her children, writing music, and raising goats. When she is not on the farm, she is making footprints in the back country of Washington and saving memories on her camera.
Call For Submissions
The Salal Review is an annual publication of Lower Columbia College with the mission of involving student editors in the presentation of the best work available from the writers, poets, and artists of the Lower Columbia Region. To submit written work for consideration, send no more than five poems and/or two prose pieces either by U.S. mailâ€“with a stamped, self-addressed reply envelopeâ€“or by email attachment by the end of October. For artwork, submit up to five pieces by mid Febuary. We cannot be responsible for one-ofa-kind originals, so please send clean copies. Digital images may be sent on CD or by email, but must be high-resolution jpeg files (SHQ or HQ). Please include a brief biographical note describing your connection to the Lower Columbia Region. To answer further questions regarding submissions, to receive a copy of The Salal Review, or to arrange a sponsorship donation, call us at (360) 442-2630 or contact us by email at salal@ lcc.ctc.edu. Mail submissions or donations to The Salal Review Lower Columbia College P.O. Box 3010 1600 Maple Street Longview, WA 98632.
Sponsors Cary Rhode
Anyone interested in sponsoring The Salal Review can make a tax-deductible donation to: LCC Foundation: The Salal Review. All donations are honored in the following publication of The Salal Review.
Acknowledgments The editors of The Salal Review are grateful for all of the help we received creating this yearâ€™s magazine. We are thankful for the likes of Debby Neely and Mike Stack. We appreciate the support of Klint Hull and Amber Lemiere for supporting us this year. Thank you to Dianne Bartlett, logistical guru. We thank Chris Skauget from the Longview Public Library. We thank Northwest Voices for providing us with writers over the years. We thank Isaiah Stewart for his photography expertise. Thank you Marie Wise and Maya Muller. We also appreciate out gracious sponsors. Finally, a special thanks to all artists and writers who submitted.
The Salal Review
Where the Arts Excite
â€œBut now and then words arrive, having passed through bolted doors. They simply turn up on the page, no footprints or clues except for the memory of a poem I read last night, lying still in the corner of my mind.â€? ~ Carolyn Caines
Award winning literary and arts magazine of Lower Columbia College.