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mgversion2>datura mgv2_77 | 07_14 Pen Is Envy Š mgversion2>datura & contributors, July 2014


Cover art New York, photograph by Ira Joel Haber Inside illustrations by Alexandra Bouge, Sophie Brassart, Ira Joel Haber, Flora Michèle Marin & Norman Olson Contents Paul Beckman

Study Habits

Alexandra Bouge

short-fiction prose poems

Sophie Brassart

Biodiverse

poem

Chloé Charpentier

Ses yeux sont encore rouillés

prose poem

Denis Emorine

Solidaire/In Solidarity

short fiction

Ron Fischman

Pentimento

poem

Mathias Jansson

The Word Cut

poem

Steve F. Klepetar

My Grandfather's Pen My Mother's Pen The Pen of My Uncle...

Roger Leatherwood

Aluminum Nub Words and The Night

Karla Linn Merrifield

poems

poems

Lullaby in Eight Notes Tanka Takes Greek Mythology 101 Dropping Veils Mrs. Keefe Said Review Notes

poems


Peter O'Neill

The Sad page Three Girl Orgasm The Dark Pool

poems

Norman Olson

Drawing Tree Branches

poem

Emeniano Acain Somoza Jr

Body of Sharp Objects The Body Is A Collector

J.J. Steinfeld

Bookish Sex

Marisa Urgo Yvette Vasseur

poems

The Poet's Perplexity

fiction

La Petite Mort Sounds So Sexy

poem

One Moment Alone

fiction

La poésie, Sa postérité, Sa publication

Walter Ruhlmann

The Words Jump Off My Pen

non-fiction poem

Those who have something to say – Interview series: Marie Lecrivain Daniel N. Flanagan's debut poetry collection Stale Angst, introduced by Amber Decker three excerpts Alexandra Bouge's novella La peau, introduced by Walter Ruhlmann three excerpts

Walter Ruhlmann's poetry collection Post Mayotte Trauma, introduced by Patrice Maltaverne three excerpts


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Study Habits by Paul Beckman This past Friday afternoon I saw our Rabbi in Barnes & Noble. A large coffee table book, THE KABALA, MOSES & THE CATSKILL TUMMLERS, rested on the table as he held it upright with one hand and wrote furiously with the other. He had three hours before services began and I figured he lost track of time. I scurried around the book aisles like Elmer stalking Bugs until I came up behind him. I wanted to see what he was writing. I separated books on the shelves and peered through, but while I couldn’t read off his pad from this distance, I noticed he had another book inside. I’d seen a flash of yellow and black just as he closed The Kabala book. He left and I went to the table and found OLD TESTAMENT SERMONS FOR DUMMIES inside the closed book. This was great! I had the goods on the Rab man. I knew I could use this to my advantage, but what could I get from a Rabbi that was worthwhile—an Aliah, a business endorsement in his monthly column, “Words From Wisdom”? Realizing that I had something to sell that no one would buy, like spats, depressed me, so instead of going to Services I took my wife to the movies. If I’d gone to Temple I would have heard his sermon, “EVEN RABBIS GET WRITER’S BLOCK AND HOW I RESOLVED MINE IN TIME FOR SHABBAT”. But the truth of the matter is if I’d gone and heard his sermon I’d been sure he had spotted me at the bookstore and he would also know I’d tell everyone what I saw so he was just covering his tracks to foil me.

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Photograph: Paul Beckman's favourite pen Prose poems by Alexandra Bouge Je pose mon stylo et j't'nique, pour un trop plein d'fric, en bordure de rang ma vie j'la fais comme je veux, dans un ring, elle s'agenouille dans la misère et la faim, j'pose mon stylo / la nuit dynamite. Le jet de mon écriture fut interrompu puis cassé par la voix de cette fille, ma directrice. Sur le chemin jusqu'au métro, sa bouche, nichée dans un endroit de sa personne, arrachait sans trêve des bouchées de ma viande et de temps à autre levait vers moi un visage épanoui et repu. Elle mit le poêle sur le feu. Les légumes étaient rassis. Il entra dans la petite pièce. - Il y a une fête samedi au squat. Tu viens ? - Samedi, OK. - Ça te dérange si je prends une douche ? - Non, vas-y. Fais comme chez toi. Y a plus d'eau chaude. - Ah, c'est chaud, c'est le cas de le dire... Il laissa un euro cinquante sur la table. - C'est bien tes dessins. - J'ai volé de la peinture aux ouvriers qui travaillent sur l'immeuble d'en face. À bientôt ! Les taches se déliaient sur la feuille. Elle monochromait les feuilles. Il y avait des courants d'air. Celles-ci s'envolaient dans la pièce. Elle les attacha à un fil pendu d'un côté à l'autre de la pièce, laissa sécher la nourriture qui était dans le poêle et la colla sur les feuilles (puis les spraya avec un antifongique). Des cheveux étaient étendus sur les fibres du canapé bleu. Elle les accrocha aux feuilles puis les imbiba de sang. Le soleil inondait la cité, y déployait sa 7


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lumière chaude. Laure entrait de son job à mi-temps fatiguée. Elle fit la sieste. Sa tête bourdonnait. Elle prit un stylo et une feuille. Les mots étaient bousculés par le stress. Tard dans la nuit ils furent écrits. Un homme pénétra l’eau froide et opaque ; le fond était recouvert de plantes effrangées frêles, munies de petits pieds, elles nageaient dans le tréfonds, ils dérivèrent au fond de la mer, ils s’accrochaient des pierres, ses mots flottaient à la surface. J'pose mon stylo et j'avance je pose mon stylo et j'avance, à vouloir s'attirer des ennuis à s'retrouver dans une benne / je pose mon stylo et j'avance sur les corps des endormis aux yeux brouillés, les mendiants dans la rue crashent, je délimite mon carré d'ordures, la came la viande crue lâche sa boue trouble dans les déchets (dans les déchets de la rue, je guerroie contre les pauvres / paris, paris, je pose mon stylo et j'avance / dans la rue).

Photograph by Alexandra Bouge 8


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Je n'ai pas le temps d'écrire, même si je me pousse à produire, inutile, pas le temps. Du coup des histoires me passent par la tête, puis s'évanouissent dans un brouillard dense. La fatigue est un coup de marteau. Mon regard vide plane telle une plume, les restes d'un pigeon écrasé sur le boulevard dans la rue surpeuplée. Visage figé, masque. Un bras pousse de la moquette, dans l'air jaunâtre, fermé de la pièce. Du plafond pendent des morceaux de corps inhumés, certains recouverts de collants. En filigrane sur la bibliothèque apparaît par intermittence mon visage. La main se faufile sous le parquet comme sous une deuxième peau. Je sors du lit et sans le vouloir je l'écrase de tout mon poids. Il reste du parquet des résidus de bois. Le salon est vide et la lumière du jour n'y a pas encore pénétré. La casserole (pour le café) emplie d'eau est prête à chauffer sur la cuisinière. Je regarde au-dessus de mon bureau, regarde, les bruits qui se déposent, s'incrustent dans la surface en chêne de mon bureau, je vais m'habiller et me coucher, le stylo est à sa place, j'habille les objets d'un vêtement (de toile). elle gémit, il parle des voyelles bas bas, autoroute a story la nuit je me réveille dans les bras, dans un bras, un foulard, la sienne, dans la lecture, des figurines de marbre blanc allongées, nuage s'écrit en lettres de typo sur un blog la ville Je tentais de retenir les paragraphes, vérifiais au bout de chacun l'emplacement des mots, les imprimais aux côtés de ceux qui renfermaient de leur sceau mon passé, les mots-aiguilles, paraphes, les mots-suffixes, les mots dénués de sens qui s'affichent derrière la feuille et s'effacent ; et les mots qui flanchent. Le sol est infini à l'horizon. Un mot d'elle sur la terre le recouvre, en filigrane fragile. la syntaxe les mots qui palpitent (le procès) les mots qui s'en vont les gens s'en vont, l'homme au coutelas les gens qui partent l'homme, l'homme. la guerre l'homme qui s'en va homme homme Next page, photograph by Flora Michèle Marin 9


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au bord, terre, distordu, des tentes pour sans-abris dans la rue, un mur calligraphié ; son visage s'éteint, (un bunker), paupières, ses pas, un souffle de vent un trottoir / son cou, deux tentes pour personnes sans-abris un cyclope sa vue tentes pour sans-abris tentes pour sans-abris un toit au bord, des tentes pour sans-abris dans la rue, un mur calligraphié ; son visage s'éteint, un bunker, paupières, ses pas, un souffle de vent un trottoir / son cou, deux tentes pour personnes sans-abris un cyclope sa vue tentes pour sans-abris tentes pour sans-abris un toit des tentes pour sans-abris dans la rue, un mur calligraphié, un rideau ; son visage s'éteint, un bunker, paupières, ses pas, un souffle de vent Tag la peau Au fer Peau peau Déprime Ciel plumbiu Mare aux fers Kilos MADAME L'EDITRICE ils l'ont morflée pour mélange de langue, sans sujet et sans compliment, sans verbe dans sa langue, sujet, dans sa langue elle m'a coupé mes phrases / le génocide des peuples / les phrases d'origine étrangère, les mots les mots des flics que ça dérange, pas les voir publiés, les passages à tabac et la tuerie pour couleur de peau, simplement la couleur de peau / je les agresse, les éditeurs par ce que je dis dans mes textes ça les agresse les éditeurs /

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Ecce, mixed media by Sophie Brassart


Biodiverse by Sophie Brassart Je cherche l'abeille dans vos yeux et le vent je cherche l'orchidée des talus et le miroir blanc je cherche la carte à venir sur la peau blessée la présence des calvaires vibration vos simples pieds nus mon cœur horizontal enlace le cerisier votre beauté suicidaire l'ombre sur le parvis l'or de la poussière et ce champ je cherche avec mon œil d'hirondelle avec mon œil de vipère avec la mue les larmes notre terre chaude au levant.

Pollen du soir, mixed media, Sophie Brassart


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Ses yeux sont encore rouillés by Chloé Charpentier Ses yeux sont encore rouillés. Elle a pleuré à la lisière du jour. Elle pleure souvent, elle braie sa peine. Et ce matin encore, ses yeux sont rouillés. Parfois, elle prend la hache des jours et elle cogne fort. Elle cogne, elle cogne, elle cogne. Elle rogne. Et elle braie. Parfois. La hache, elle l'a cache sous sa blouse, puis elle replace son écusson doré, sur son sein droit. Et elle marche. En poussant son chariot. Les roues de son chariot aussi sont rouillées. Elles couinent. Elles braient. Elle, elle se dit elles ont de la peine. A la lisière de la matière. Mais ça, qu'importe. Elle, elle pousse sa peine, entre les draps suants des nuits de stupre qu'elle ramasse de chambre en chambre. Ses yeux ont roulé. Elle a vu l'autre jour un homme terrible. Son visage terrible. Sa masse terrible. Tout l'homme terrible. Il lui a rouillé le ventre. Maintenant elle pousse son chariot, à la lisière des couloirs où s'enchaînent les chambres et les hommes. Ses yeux, qui braient dans l'ombre la rouille des insomnies.

Photograph : Chloé Charpentier's favourite pen

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Solidaire by Denis Emorine Cette fois, je n'ai pas pu résister. Lorsque je m'en suis rendu compte, il était trop tard: l'araignée avait tissé sa toile sur la feuille blanche. Au premier mot , elle a aussitôt happé la pointe de mon stylo puis le reste, c'est-à-dire moi, a suivi. La métaphore m'avait trahi. J'avais toujours parlé de la toile des mots, des insectes grouillants de l'écriture avec une belle insouciance! Et voilà qu' à présent,j'étais devenu une de ces fourmis éparpillées sur la page, engluées dans la bave de l'écriture! J'étais bien avancé. A ce moment, l'autre s'est assis à mon bureau. Il a d'abord hésité longuement puis j'ai vu la pointe de son stylo s'avancer très lentement vers le papier. Tout allait donc recommencer . Qui a parlé de la solitude de l'écrivain face à la page blanche ? J'étais délivré, en quelque sorte. Nous allions partager. Lorsque l'araignée a aspiré la pointe de son stylo avec une adresse remarquable, j'ai poussé un soupir de satisfaction. Je n'étais plus seul: nous allions enfin partager. Déjà, quelqu'un s'approchait de mon bureau. J'ai regardé mon compagnon d'infortune, nous avons entremêlé nos fines pattes noires d'aranéides avec une satisfaction bien légitime...

Cafe, photograph by Ira Joel Haber

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In Solidarity by Denis Emorine English translation by Philip Usher This time, I could not resist it. When I realized, it was too late: the spider had woven its web on the white page. With the first word, it at once grabbed my pen tip, then what came next, i.e. me! Metaphor had betrayed me. I had always spoken—carelessly—about “webs of words”, about the “crawling insects of writing”. And here I am now, I have become one of those ants scattered on the page, glued into in the dribble of writing! What progress. At that moment, the other writer sat down at my desk. At first, he hesitated for some time, then I saw his pen-tip advance very slowly towards the paper. All, then, was going to start again. Who ever spoke about writerly solitude as he sits before the blank page? I was free, to some extent. We were to share. When the spider swallowed the point of his pen with remarkable address, I groaned my satisfaction. I was no longer alone: we were finally going to share. Already, somebody was approaching my desk. I looked at my companion in misfortune, we intermingled our thin black spider-legs with legitimate satisfaction.

Library Hour photograph by Ira Joel Haber

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Photograph: Mathias Jansson's favourite pen

The Word Cut by Mathias Jansson The knife cuts deep in the vein Black blood streams from my finger Clotting on the white bandage Creating strange wave patterns I see a stream of words pulsating from my hand Filling the paper with poems The pencil lays sharp in my hand Slowly dying while giving birth to my soul Bleeding words into the world

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Pentimento by Ronald Fischman from, My Book of Days Finishing Line Press, coming up 2014 If you try to ask forgiveness from a brick wall, have you asked at all? - High Holy Day koan these days, painting autumn I perceive the unrepentant walls on which the thin skin of my forehead leaves layers a man in spotless overalls rakes layers of leaves finishes the job with a broom kicking up the first markings of the season on his canvas garment were I to paint the scene I might choose a brick wall to muralize stippling the canvas using pentimento removing just enough paint for the texture to show like thoughts left on brick wall of the shield and buckler wielded by my world my children renew the New Year a new season a new school one winsome, classmates set at ease one timid, bloom called gently forth by a teacher who must relieve patina of shy protection to reveal the canvas within I? pressing forward bruised my pate etch my repentance in place

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My Grandfather’s Pen by Steve F. Klepetar My grandfather’s pen feels heavy in my hand. It pulls my wrist down into dreams, lights the way in dark places, calls me “boychik” and knows my secret name. My grandfather’s pen writes in flashes of lightning, burns my inner eye. My grandfather’s pen never runs out of ink, it drinks seas and bends space-time around its silver cylinder. When I lift it from his desk, my brain sends out spiraling waves and I rise into whatever clouds may hover near.

Superman, photograph by Ira Joel Haber

My Mother’s Pen by Steve F. Klepetar My mother’s pen was soaked with tears she dove into waves following flashing tails of fish swam out beyond the buoys she heard bells, heard the murmuring of a sea shell pressed against her tiny ear all day her skin burned as she squinted in August sun her paper was unlined and pitiless a face staring back at her green eyes a cave wall on which to incise her fluttering joy all the food she cooked and would not eat all her terror when someone came home late or when the phone rang after dark when jets roared overhead like some terrific bomb when sirens broke the noise of busses and dogs when neighbors walked above with hard-soled shoes when sleep came her hands were wings which flew into dreams of barb wire and rumbling trains

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The Pen of My Uncle is on The Bureau of My Aunt by Steve F. Klepetar I learned to say this in French in seventh grade and it was true. My uncle’s black pen slithered across my aunt’s bureau flicking its poison-flecked tongue. His thousand records, untouched by any but him, looked down from locked cabinets, singers imprisoned in cells of glass and wood. He’d slip on white cotton gloves to touch their edges lower them slowly onto the turntable’s nub as music vanished in those murmuring walls. I loved how my aunt’s blue-black hair was piled high on her noble head, how her black eyes burned how she called me “cheeky” whenever I gave her lip how she poured a measure of gin into her morning tea how she loved Ian Fleming’s books and named her cat James Bond, whispering to him as he chased his tail around a chair.

Bald, photograph by Ira Joel Haber

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Aluminum Nub by Roger Leatherwood I write with a stylus of sharp aluminum My fleshy device that scrapes Your canvas like a tusk Against your fur underpants Your skin pliant and wrinkled at the crease Porous and blonde It takes the dye in loud exclamation. My canvas instrument pokes the tissue And carves in blood my broken grammar The truth of your addiction seeping deep Into your papyrus vessels And faded like octopus ink kept in the sun You display my mistakes like a scar Long dead and petrified Bending the light in taunting shadow Tracing the scratches into evidence Preserved in your clouded amber Dead-eyed and screaming In full display behind your scrapbooks and your curtains Reminding everyone Of heavy gravity.

Photograph: Roger Leatherwood's favourite pen

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Words and the Night by Roger Leatherwood What are the words that we do to each other? The violence the phrases and an idea that pierce skin. Unraveling a tapestry of dream, a vision of fleshy feast without night An aura of syllables woven to memory and desire, numerated Tattooed by my hardest engraving of blood. A stream of love, spilled onto your lonely skins. In shallow wound. I pull out my sticky heart, alive. Flowing. And drink from your poems of previous loss and those lost forever nights. A drink. You alone with a traced tune echoes from the other room Forgotten and repeated like smoke at your hair Stirring a thought left alone on the wood. True and secret. You drift and you're on your own, I let you disappear. Film assertion of your female cockhead. Dusty merlot with one eye closed. The fading light hides all but your face, that frame of curl The commas you speak. And again you're not here. Unseized untouched. I trace in syllables only a figure in sand, fleeting Of legs and a crease, those eyes. A single string of marks. Building a barrier, but fallen to bricks Of openings and a stoned walk. Closer over the crescendo of shallow waters. Of visions unseen. A potent fuck, flowing and not yet penetrated. Cool in the dark, talking, wishing it were the words you sucked.

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Lullaby in Eight Notes by Karla Linn Merrifield Once again after several years it is possible to count the sounds of night, this shadowed hour by Florida’s waxing winter moon rising silently, as silent as windless sabal palms. First, loudest, the inevitable jet liner to Miami… distant pick-up truck on the double-lined Alva Road… my pen softly, slowly crossing lined pages… then only other animal noises, the non-human: Snuffle of armadillo in sand and live oak leaves… twin raccoons scuffling through saw palmettos… coyotes downriver in faint frantic yips… grunts of feral hogs like sudden burst of curses… but, last, barred owl completes the forest octave, Who-who looks for you? You in a bed of moss. for Jo Balisteri

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Tanka Takes Greek Mythology 101 by Karla Linn Merrifield Cloaked in a tritina costumed as Leda enswanned I bow to whisper succumbing three times a fourth for my poem’s penetration

Museum, photograph by Ira Joel Haber

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Dropping Veils by Karla Linn Merrifield Malala the Poet erases the bullets’ scar from her neck; Malala scribbles over the cicatrix across her scalp; Malala scratches out metal shrapnel in her cranium; Malala wields her pen’s power to inspire other poets to chant her name again and again, Malala, Malala, Malala, and in so doing perform a potent litany to remember she is female flesh, blood, bone. Malala the Poet would have us rewrite the world.

Photograph by Alexandra Bouge


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Mrs. Keefe Said by Karla Linn Merrifield Learn the rules before you break them: Semicolon abuse is serious business in sentences of fractured diagrams of fractalated hierarchy. The wanton disposal of antecedents is risky shit between clauses devoid of a certain part of speech. devoid of agreement. Slang happens to verbs mid-phrase. Ain’t occurs; Gs transform into apostrophes. Suddenly you’re runnin’ into inverted constructions, inflicktin’ subjunctive pain. In a word or two, no longer content to peddle euphemisms, as grammar assassin you’re slayin’ your lawless poem.

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Review Notes by Karla Linn Merrifield Jill the Poet gets revenge in her newest collection, The Top-Fifty Worst Fucks of All Time. She names names as in the opening poem, “Jan Klutz,’72” “William Pierson, ’72” ensues, also in graphic (her pen’s ink of menstrual blood) detail. Jill-as-babe spares us nothing, depicting believably nameless Manhattan one-night-stands— that limp bâtard from Le Monde (’77), that too-quick Cuban filmmaker (’78), even that lesbian cosmetician on the subway (’80) who quoted Sappho ad nauseum. “The True Confessions of Husband #2 (’88-’94)” bares all. Photograph: Karla Linn Merrifield's favourite extinct pen

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The Sad Page Three Girl by Peter O'Neill previously published in Poethead's Opensalon blog excerpt from Antiope published by Lazarus Media, 2013 You the paper Venus, Madonna of the celibates Who kneel before you To offer up their prayers. In amongst the tin of beans, The sliced pans and the threadbare Carpets, some of your realm, Where you are our elixir. On the stairs of the bedsits With their odour of dead males, Know that behind those doors There are secretly thousands loving you. Now there smile, don’t look so sad. You are magnificent. You are our muse, Our queen, our Mistress... If only for a day.

Collage by Flora Michèle Marin

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Orgasm by Peter O'Neill Sudden rush and bolt of seed, like lightening, the fever engendered which you both cradle like junkies. There, between the cathedral of fingers announcing your prayers, both being angelic now, at peace. Skull’s space findings, the cranium blasted hollow with the dead weight of the brain’s phantasmagoria expulsed; the old, dead, grey en-souled matter. Now, the mind’s eye is refreshed, and the image bank already hungry for new prey. The tongue prowling for an unaccustomed verb where you probe for it at the tip of your tongue like an apple pip enrobed in spittle. This complex, biological software, its electric divinity, and you left both together marvelling on the sheets at your sudden, immaculate beginning.

Painting by Norman J. Olson

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The Dark Pool by Peter O'Neill Poor Paper, here I am again, my altar... my wall. A place to come to which is always deserted, like a landscape, but after I am gone others may perhaps, appear and investigate... the silence, the peace! Within these sounds I try to tunnel out a form in space so sonorous as to be almost porous, and from such a shape of breathe, light might possibly appear filtering in, illuminating momentarily, the mind. There in the dark pool like a pebble or stone on first entering with a definite drop, disturbing, at first violently, the skin- like- liquid surface, causing the celebrated ripple effect, chiaroscuro. All of this merely sensory evocation so that you may perhaps trace your birth and origin from this solitary point of departure, where like as in a well, the sphinx descends spiralling towards her utter ruination, her leonine body ravished causing her lips to curl with displeasure. Here inside this spirit, this dome, the images come and go like ghosts exploring their familiar haunts. I embrace them, if the truth were known. These sublime terrors, their exquisite torture. The roses velvet touch, crushing the little blood, falling like petals, awaiting now, the greater flood. Photograph: Peter O'Neill's favourite pencils

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Drawing Tree Branches by Norman J. Olson

Drawing by Norman J. Olson

is the drawing in the pen, pigment dye that runs out onto the page? or is the drawing rage made into scribble marks that dribble from my fingers? maybe the pen is the tool of my pre-conscious brain explaining itself to itself... still the dip and drip of ink is something important precisely because it is not a trick of electronic magic and pixels... the morning turns into a drawing as the screen glows in mauve and electric green scratches of idiocy.. and pinwheeling galaxies leap into self fulfilling wells of space carefully drawn between the india ink branches of the twisting crab apple tree

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Language of Sharp Objects by Emeniano Acain Somoza Jr Languishing in desuetude Scintilla of smooth, or youth, dulling. Are you still right-handed? Because I can make the onion fall to the right‌ There are shopping carts Whisked away in corners Among stubborn standees, Shelf-talkers. These marketing geniuses Tongue-tied, stunned By their own expectations

The Body Is A Collector by Emeniano Acain Somoza Jr Of small scented objects that leave Sadness to scar in pained smiles Old letter, found pen, bookmarker, last shirt Remains of what happened here, there Such as unrests in places mostly unaccounted for Because forgotten as most sacred, secret passages and rooms Your eyes, for instance, I see hands marinating In the acid of rivers forgetting ocean A dreamer hunted by dreams undead By necessity a tax evader by day Unwanted historian by night

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Bookish Sex by J. J. Steinfeld “Bookish Sex,” in a slightly different version, was first published in the short-fiction chapbook Not a Second More, Not a Second Less (Mercutio Press, Montreal, 2005) by J. J. Steinfeld, copyright © 2005 by J. J. Steinfeld. Used by permission of the author.

Woman with Balloons, photograph by Ira Joel Haber An event unparalleled in the history of Canadian publishing, my left buttock. Five members of one family having books on sex coming out in the same season, my right buttock. That was the caption under the five photographs. Not the "buttock" parts, though. That's my editorial comment, toned down, believe me, expurgated, if I may be so literary. There were our photographs, separately, like five otherworldly ships passing in the journalistic night, on the same glossy page, mug shots. Mug shots, I tell you. The journalist—

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at least that's what she called herself—took me to my favourite restaurant downtown and before I had my first sip of wine, asked me if I had a nice wholesome photograph of my family, perhaps at a cottage, lakeside, you know, another less hectic time and place, something dreamy and evocative, and I quickly gulped down my glass of wine, then shouted that we never had a cottage, never vacationed together, not once, my husband was a philandering booze-guzzling workaholic. "May I quote you on that?" the journalist asked as politely as if she were requesting permission to go to the washroom from a feared teacher, and I accidentally pushed her taperecorder off the table, uttering with syrupy contrition, "Oh my, I never could hold my liquor..." "That's quite all right," the polite journalist said, bending down to pick up her nasty little contraption, and I called her a supercilious little fart. I laughed at the stupidity of my remark, and the journalist, to her credit, told me how in high school she had written a history of flatulence for the school newspaper, and the faculty adviser had tried to censor her. I had to laugh. My mood eased and I revealed that the last family photo of all of us together was two decades ago, standing around my soon-to-be estranged—though never divorced—husband's midlife crisis of a lime-green sports car. I was a different person in those days, we all were. I'd never even written as much as a verse of poetry back then. Still, the magazine story needed its photographs and there we were, mug shots and all. But it wasn't the story that completely exasperated me. Books on sex, sex books, bookish sex, sexual words, word-luscious sexiness, sex thoughts, sex words, sex-sexier-sexiest—that's what rings their bells, starts them salivating, mixes my metaphors. I shouldn't act so indignant. I'm not a hurt little naive child. I'm an angry seventy-three-year-old woman. But I'm first and foremost a poet, maybe a little long in the tooth poet, but I take my creativity seriously—it's what I am, central to my existence... "As the matriarch of a family that has a penchant for attracting publicity on the topic of sex, do you consider sex central to your existence?..." After so many questions concerning sex and my family, for some reason that was the question that was the straw that broke the camel's back, if I may be allowed a platitude. Perhaps I was tired, or it was the exquisitely refined English accent of the interviewer, or maybe plain and simple I overdosed on questions 34


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about sex and my family. For Heaven's sake, the name of my book of poetry is Nothing of the Flesh...you understand, Nothing of the Flesh... "No more radio interviews! No more TV interviews! No more print-journalist interviews!" I yelled at the top of my well-worn voice, shaking the walls of the radio studio. Oh my fragmented, dispersed family. What has happened to us? My three boys are now grown with children of their own, and all of them seem to have a skewered predilection for hanging dirty laundry in public. My oldest lives in Vancouver, a psychiatrist, who has recently published a controversial—and if you ask me, four-letter-wordsaturated, orifice-obsessed—novel, Entwined in the Act. The second, currently residing in Halifax, is an author of two dozen chapbooks of erotic poetry—the latest an idiotically titled An Instruction Manual of Desire—and a sometimes performance artist—he is determined to take his art to the people, whether the people want to partake or not—and living in an apartment exactly equidistant, paced off precisely, between statues of Robbie Burns and of Winston Churchill, whatever that means; he has been arrested performing in front of both statues, about to perform his piece The Family That Loves Together...that got him in heated trouble with the authorities in several cities. And my youngest, living in Edmonton, the one who showed absolutely no writing skills or literary talent growing up, after five years as a finance-company manager in Toronto, is self-publishing a book on abstinence: Hard Discipline: The Abstinence Path to Spiritual, Mental, and Physical Health. I wish someone could get the long-gone patriarch of the family to explain what has happened to our family, why we have turned into a family of writers and performers about sex, or no sex, depending on one's interpretation. He's writing his memoirs. Arguably one of Canada's most famous sex researchers, even though he hasn't done an iota of sex research in almost two decades. Stopped his ground-breaking research in the middle of book four of his proposed five-book series on the history of sex in Canada. I like sometimes during dinnerparty chatter or in the midst of too much coffee-shop small talk to recite coldly, harshly, perhaps somewhat virulently, my formerly erudite, estranged hubby's book titles: The Composition

of Adult

Bisexuality

in

Canada.

The

Sexual

Composition

of Adult

Heterosexuality in Canada. The Sexual Composition of Adult Homosexuality in Canada. He abandoned his project in the middle of the fourth volume, The Sexual Composition of Teen 35


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Sexuality in Canada. Our three children were teenagers at the time. Maybe it was his much ballyhooed midlife crisis, the lime-green sports car. Volume five was going to be The Sexual Composition of Canada: An Overview. Let me set the record straight, put things into perspective, whatever the clichĂŠs might be: My current book is a reaction to the first book: The Glistening Thighs of Younger Men. The title wasn't even mine. Some editorial assistant, she couldn't have been more than twenty-one or twenty-two, let them track down the preposterously svelte bright-light gogetter. She's in advertising now somewhere in the States. Maybe the questions, the voyeuristic probing were worse for the first book. The interviewers even slither into my dreamscapes, darkening what should be unfettered romps through the subconscious. My nightmares sometimes have gigantic lips uttering questions: "Are your poems autobiographical?" "Did you engage in threesomes?" "Do you find that vigorous, robust sexual activity affects your writing?..." I tell the gigantic lips they are chapped, oozing out collagen, and I grasp a corner of the lips and squeeze them between my fingers, squeezing and saying, "You can't shove art down the throats of people who persist in keeping their mouths firmly closed..." Such is my rebellious dream life. Oh well, I could always move, change my name, remake myself into a prim, sedate woman of letters, and write poems about sexless objects. I could. I could pretend I had never married, never had three children, never wandered into this imaginative, creative, writing life, never been a passionate, sensuous, loving being. But then, I fear, no one might be interested in reading my poems. As my last lover said, in his exuberant, youthful, passionate way, "Love teaches you everything you need to know about the heart." Then the carefree young man gave me a soft, gentle kiss, and whispered, "And you have to get your education wherever you can, sweetheart."

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The Poet's Perplexity by J. J. Steinfeld

Talking, photograph by Ira Joel Haber A poet, having just finished a third glass of wine to celebrate his thirty-fifth birthday, is alone at his writing desk and looking out his bedroom window, at the evening calm of his suburban neighbourhood. It's his well-paying computer-graphics job that enables him to live in this house, but he wants to think of himself as a poet. His wife, who left him for a lawenforcement officer she claimed was handsomer than on any TV police drama, declared their marriage ended on the day he received the acceptance for his first poetry chapbook, twenty-

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four pages about the mysteries of the human spirit. He liked playing with ideas in his poetry, delving into the existential. At least she hadn't called him mediocre when she left, as she had countless times during the last few months of their marriage as if that word were coined to describe his existence. But she had wished him well, with his well-paying job and with his poetry writing. He likes the evening calm and the neighbourhood, but is struggling to come up with something to write about, some image or metaphor he can caress and hold on to for a new poem. The house across the street, with the most beautiful front lawn in the neighbourhood, catches his attention, as if through a telescope. The few times he had talked to the occupants, the man said how much he hated his civil service job and the woman confided in him that their marriage was less than satisfactory. Then she revealed that she liked doing strange things in bed, liked to push the sexual envelope, so to speak. The poet found that description most unpoetic but he liked the way she spoke, like an actress perfecting a sensuous way of speaking. The woman even told him to call her if he wanted to have an affair and push the sexual envelope… So, the poet, using an old fountain pen—a gift from his grandmother when he told her at nineteen that he wanted to write great love sonnets—as he always does for the first few drafts of his poems, starts to shape a poem in a dog-eared notebook about a man with the worst job in the world who dreamed he had the best job in the world. In the second stanza he describes a woman with the worst husband in the world who dreamed she had the best husband in the world. In the third stanza, while they were dreaming, the man and the woman awoke to each other frightened and sweat-drenched, unaware of what was real or imagined or punishment. He started wondering how he could put himself in the poem and even imagined reading this poem to the woman across the street then pushing the sexual envelope. In the fourth stanza, the man with the worst job in the world disappears as if a shrewd magician had set things right. The woman with the worst husband in the world reappears as if a romantic magician needed a night of love. One more stanza, and he believes the poem will work. The phone suddenly rings—in his house or across the street, the poet isn't sure—the 38


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house rearranged by sound but no one seems to be home, the woman or the man, and a question arises to the poet alone at his writing desk: If a metaphor comes to mind, will anyone comprehend the poet's perplexity?

La Petite Mort Sounds So Sexy, Existential by J. J. Steinfeld “La Petite Mort Sounds So Sexy, Existential” was first published in Grimm Magazine (Canada) (No. 1, Spring 2005). You call me in the middle of a cold night from a tropical country and weepingly confess you had sex with an expert on sex a sex scholar a little long in the tooth and ample in the paunch but overflowing with lusty words a panting thesaurus of concupiscence dressed in the finest sex-expert attire providing the best mood music symphonic voices like the lustful waves of a sea undulating with desire the finest wines, liquid aphrodisiac, he profusely suggestive, alluring, stroking renowned, respected, even as he gyrated erudite heavy-breathing repeatedly begging “don’t stop, don’t stop” in Latin and Esperanto (can you get sexier than that?) chronicler of your orgasm la petite mort sounds so sexy, existential (did Jean-Paul Sartre ever say that phrase to Simone de Beauvoir?) correction, orgasms, orgasms as abundant as daydreams. Will I get a chapter? you asked, putting on your stockings. Be happy with a footnote, he said, looking into the mirror like a young boy studying one of his father’s old skin magazines. I hang up, excited by your boasting, eager for the recovery of sleep and an unscholarly wetness. 39


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One Moment Alone by Marisa Urgo I know a lot about women. Like, a lot. In my sixteen years of life experience, I think I’ve learned pretty much everything there is to know. Well, I mean, I’ve only had one girlfriend. But girls are different. They don’t matter. They’re not women. Now, Maureen Conley? That’s a woman. On the first day of class, I took one look at my new 10th grade English teacher and knew I was in love. That day, Ms. Conley gave a lecture on Romeo and Juliet but the words missed my ears completely. With the sound of her smooth alto echoing all around me, all I could see were legs that went on for miles, more delicate than a flower’s stem, and chestnut hair with tidal pools for curls. “Yo,” I turned to my best friend Derek, my hand shaking his shoulder. Derek was my boy, my confidant. If there was anyone I could trust about my private feelings, it was him. “She’s hot.” Derek turned his head toward our teacher, as if noticing her for the first time. “Yeah. Weird nose. But I’d do her,” he mumbled, the words tumbling carelessly from his mouth. Derek then shrugged one shoulder, probably wondering why I was staring at him incredulously with my eyes wide like I had just received electroshock, and then returned his attention to Shakespeare’s words on the page. Something about the way Derek dismissed her beauty really irked me. I immediately took a second look at her nose, slightly crooked in the middle around the bridge, and fell into love’s arms all over again. Couldn’t he see that this woman was an actual goddess who had fallen from Olympus? That’s the problem with teenage boys. They’re all really dense. No appreciation for real beauty. Well, besides me. Plus, I know it’s not rational, but his casual declaration that he would ‘do’ her made my chest tighten and my stomach feel as if it plummeted ninety feet. I nurtured those feelings for three months. When September came, my crush mirrored the way the leaves intensified, turning from fresh green to passionate crimson. The wind of October blew and I thought my crush would fall with the leaves to be crunched under my 40


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converse, but instead, it soldiered on through the first gentle snow of November. So on her birthday (I’ve been in love with her for three months, of course I figured out when her birthday was), I decided I could make my move. Something subtle, you know. I realize I’m just sixteen and she’s way out of my league (and a sane adult), whatever, but basically, I’m trying to say that someday, I’ll probably be real good looking and making money eating Doritos and playing video games, so I want her to keep me in mind once I’m eligible enough of a bachelor. I just needed one moment alone with her. One moment to make her laugh at my goofy humor and charm her into seeing that I’m adorable. I’d go for “handsome” or “refined”, but we’re being realistic here. Of course, getting one second of her time alone was impossible. In class, we were always surrounded by the buffoons I call my classmates and even when I tried to attend extra help, there would either be the nerds who stove to change their A minuses into A’s, or the kids who were failing and the guidance counselors pushed them through the doors. On her birthday, November 21st, a day I will mark on calendars with a tiny heart for the rest of my life, I faced the same issue. I stood outside her classroom, a Peony flower in my right hand. It only cost me $2.50 at the Florist. Well worth part of one hour of my shift at the music store in the mall. “Ms. Conley, I found this outside and thought it looked nice, so here, happy birthday!” I planned on saying. I couldn’t tell her I bought it especially for her. Can’t let her know how much effort I put into it. Gotta play it cool, you know? I peered down at the Peony, following its intricate petals with my eyes. The petals seemed to all blossom out from the center of the flower, although I couldn’t quite see where center was. There was no petal to mark it, just other petals saluted around it, carefully frayed at their edges. I let my fingers trace their softness, wondering how it maintained that fresh, post-rain shower scent that all flowers seemed to have. “Nice flower, fag.” Before I could even look up, Roger Hansen smacked my hand and my fingers betrayed me. The peony lye on the floor, the petals scattered and the stem snapped in half. It happened so quickly but I still heard the severe splinter of the two parts like a firework gone 41


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off at too close of a distance. “Thank you, Roger. My palsy didn’t give me enough problems today, so I appreciate that.” I attempted to wave but my forearm crutch weighed me down as I watched Roger and his pack of idiot friends saunter away. Most people have the sense not to pick on the kid with Cerebral Palsy, even if it is a very mild case, but not Roger. I respect that he’s an equal opportunity asshole. In elementary school, I’d always get bullied for my arm crutches or my labored walk without them, but by third grade, people moved on. The kid with the weird gait and slightly slurred speech was old news. People were more fascinated by Paul Williox, who was weird because he was Canadian and then in sixth grade, everyone teased Holly Petra for growing breasts. Like I said, no one really cares about my cerebral palsy anymore. It’s not a big deal. “Colin?” I lifted my gaze to find Ms. Conley, closing her classroom door without a sound behind her. “Oh, hey!” I attempted to appear casual, even though my heart was galloping with frustration from my interaction with Roger. Just because he picks on everyone else as much as me doesn’t mean I’m alright with it. Besides, he ruined part of my plan. “Uh, how are you?” I stepped my foot out, hoping she wouldn’t notice that my sneaker crushed the peony, hiding it from her sight. No sense in giving her a crumpled flower. I hoped she just thought it was just a twitch of some sort and not cast her eyes toward my unlaced converse. Besides, maybe Roger was right. Maybe it was stupid. “I’m fine. I’m really looking forward to meeting your parents tonight at open house,” she offered. Luckily, she kept her eyes on mine, and I didn’t see them jump down to the pop of color being crushed beneath my body weight. “Oh, it’ll just be my dad,” I informed her. “My mom’s not really in the picture.” I realize I’m going to hell for evoking the sympathy card to get Conley to like me, but you know. Desperate times, man. “Then I look forward to meeting your dad,” she responded with a polite smile, not missing a beat. I tried to search her eyes for that “aw, poor baby” look that people give me when they find out my mother died when I was ten. But nothing. Conley had this way of 42


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being warm but still put up a barrier, so that I could never tell what she was really thinking. It fascinated me. Ms. Conley was the type of black widow spider who invited you to spill your secrets to her, but the moment you asked for a secret in return, she’d snap shut and go mute. I kicked the flower behind me and never said happy birthday. * * * “Your English teacher is just, wow!” My dad leaned against the kitchen wall, his arms folded across his chest. “She’s so smart. Like, real smart. We were talking about Shakespeare for a solid fifteen minutes. I mean, I really don’t know much about it, but I took a course in college. Anyway, she’s great. Gorgeous, too.” “I know!” I responded enthusiastically. Normally, I don’t give two shits about open houses. Teachers usually say I’m fun to have in class, maybe that I’m sweet, and that’s about it. I’m not exactly the valedictorian. No one is going to be praising my scholarship. Tonight, though, I waited by the front door like a golden retriever, eager to absorb every word my dad had to say about the evening. My friends all thought Conley was “hot”, but I was eager to have a true conversation about how mesmerizing I found her. If anyone, I thought my dad could see it. “What else did you guys talk about?” I asked. I was absolutely flabbergasted that he got the chance to have a conversation with her, a moment alone. That was something I had been trying for since September. I was nothing less than impressed that my dad could do it, but of course, that’s my dad. I realize I’m kind of a handful, not just because of my disability, but he’s always managed to win the “single dad” award. Dad shrugged, a small smile creeping onto his face. We have the same smile, but that’s about it. My dad has the physique of the police officer he is while I basically have the physique of a string bean. I take after my mom. I got my gawkiness from her long limbs, plus I’ve got her dark hair. When I was little, I always said I wanted gold hair like my dad, but my mom would hold me and say “We have hair like a raven’s feather and eyes like the sky after a storm. For that, we’re lucky.” My dad then added proudly, “A lot. She said you’re a good student, that you’re a good kid,” I could hear the distinction in his voice between student and kid. The fact that I hold 43


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doors open for people when I’m able to and make light of my palsy has always made him grin more than any A paper I’ve gotten. I’ve always appreciated that. My eyebrows shot up, a grin coming to my face. I felt like that astronaut when he planted the American flag on the moon. I was making progress. Good. He cleared his throat, now moving his hands to his hips. “You know, I was actually thinking of asking her out. On a date.” Silence. The room felt heavy, weighing down. I thought my blood turned hot underneath my skin and I felt my teeth clench together like an alligator’s jaws. My dad had that same dumb smile on his face, the one that reminded me of my own small mouth, and I wanted to smack it right off of his face. “Fuck you dad, I saw her first. No way.” Okay, I didn’t actually say that. But I wanted to. Instead, I just shrugged my scrawny shoulders, avoiding eye contact. “She’s a little young for you, dad.” “She’s young, yeah, but not that much younger than me. I’m forty. She’s what, late twenties? It’s not that big of a deal. Just a date, I’m not asking her to marry me,” He said lightly, now sliding his hands into the pockets of his uniform. My stomach now churned at the thought of him arriving to her classroom in his officer blues, coming straight from work. Women are into men in uniform. It’s one of the many things I know about their kind. The idea of her being into him in a uniform, though, that’s what unsettled me. “If you’re not planning on marrying her, then what’s the point of asking her on a date?” I felt indignant for her, afraid my dad would only see her as some chew toy, when I just knew she was someone worth keeping around. My dad arched his eyebrow, now coming to take a seat across from me at the table. “You know, Colin, if it makes you uncomfortable, I won’t.” The sincerity in his voice almost strangled me. It was like this thick honey, too sweet for me to actually enjoy it. My heart sank with guilt and regret tingled in my stomach for the way I was acting. “Of course it doesn’t,” I lied. “You should go for it. If she’s not seeing anyone.” My dad’s smile returned and I simultaneously felt better and worse. “We were talking a little bit and I mentioned how my route is on South Avenue. Kind of dangerous., you know 44


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that. She lives around there and mentioned that she gets a little nervous being alone sometimes, but most of the time it’s fine. So I took it that she’s single. But, really, kiddo. It isn’t a big deal. I’m just asking her out on one date.” Well, one date turned into two, two into three and now Ms. Conley and my dad have been dating for eight months. I’m starting to think that Oedipus dude wasn’t so crazy after all. It’s been both a nightmare and a fantasy all in one. She’s around a lot more, but it’s just as difficult to connect with her. I can’t decide what the worst part of it is. I don’t know if it’s when they try to include me, like when the three of us went to the movies. I sat on the other side of my dad and wished so badly that I could fling his fat paw right off of her leg, but no. There was nothing overtly sexual about it, just a gentle display that he cared, but it still made my stomach rage. I sat and watched Gravity and tried to act like Sandra Bullock in space wasn’t the weirdest thing I had ever seen. I also loathe how my dad will “pull a late shift” or “sleep at the station.” I know what you’re doing dad, and those are terrible euphemisms, okay? I get what he’s doing, but I’d respect the man a lot more if he just told me he’s fucking the woman that I’ve had a weird obsession with for months now. She’s only slept here twice and the only reason I knew is because I saw her pink toothbrush lying next to his in the bathroom. No one told me anything. Actually, I do know what the worst part is. That I still haven’t gotten my moment alone with her. She swoops in and out of my house, making decadent spiced chicken or creamy linguine dishes for me and my dad, kissing him tenderly in the corner of my living room when they think I’m not looking, and still, I haven’t had just a minute with the two of us. I was thinking about it while doing my homework, pent up in my room on that late Tuesday afternoon. The storm brewing outside matched the one inside my head. Dad was late coming home and I could practically see him with her. The thunder roared while the gray clouds, looking like smoke from a blaze, unleashed cracks of lightning into the heavy falling rain. That’s when Aunt Kristen called. “Colin,” my dad’s younger sister’s voice sounded strained and I knew something was wrong. I knew South Avenue was a shitty place, full of sneakers tied on telephone wires and sirens always blaring. I just never thought… “Your dad is okay, but…” 45


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Everything after that was a blur. I could only remember keeping my mouth shut the entire car ride while my aunt yapped like a hungry Chihuahua, trying to tell me that my dad would be fine, that the bullet missed any vital organs and we should all be grateful. Yeah, grateful, so fucking grateful. I pressed my face against the window of her Honda that always smelled like my baby cousin’s apple juice and wished that I could close my eyes and disappear. The cool pane of the glass against my forehead made the chill of the pouring rain outside seep into my bones. “You’re so lucky, Colin. You and your father are both so lucky.” Aunt Kristen sighed, as my crutches pressed against the concrete and carried me across the parking lot while she told me she’d be right back. Being right back to Aunt Kristen means taking ten hours to park, fifteen minutes to walk back to the hospital and a lifetime to find me in the waiting room. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I felt my breath escape from my lips as if someone punched me in the back when I saw Ms. Conley sitting there in the waiting room. She was drenched from the rain, hunched over in a position that was so unlike the proper posture I always admired. Her knees were together but her bony ankles apart, making a triangle where her practical black purse sat with its zippered lips wide open, her papers warped and red pen dripping down them to match the watery mascara under her eyes. Her head was in her hands, one over her forehead just above the hairline as if blocking out the sun, while the other let her curled fingers rest against her cheek. The soaked black jacket covered most of her clothes and her damp hair stuck to her face, but neither helped to hide that she shaking. Her shoulders were vibrating like a drum after a strike from a mallet, her legs like a junkie who can’t get their next fix. Maybe it was from the chill of the storm rolling outside or maybe she was scared about my dad but either way, I just wanted to wrap her in my arms and tell her it was going to be fine. I thought I wasn’t saying anything, that I was silent, but maybe my heavy, unsteady steps gave me away. Ms. Conley turned her head toward me and I saw that any tears she had cried were now gone, but left their mark in the form of red rimmed eyes. “Colin,” she said, her voice matching my own surprise to see her. “Are you okay?” I wanted to answer her in some way but instead, I made my way to her. I’ve had trouble with my muscles since I was born so walking was always like a mountain to climb 46


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without the proper tools. I kind of got used to it. But in that moment, in those ten steps from the entrance to the seat next to her, it was as if the clock hands suddenly stopped to watch me struggle. “I’m fine,” I responded. “Are you? Have you seen him yet?” “No,” she began, wringing her fingers together. I heard her joints snap, the way the lightning was cracking outside. “I mean, yes, I’m okay, but no, I haven’t seen him yet. He just got out of surgery and he should be fine. It missed his –” “I know,” I forced a smile to my lips as I finally reclined into the seat, but turning my body away from her as I removed my forearm crutches. I could feel her eyes on my back, probably wanting to check that I was fine, but I don’t like people watching me take them off. It isn’t a big deal, I just slide my arm right out, but I just don’t like people watching it, that’s all. We sat in silence for what felt like a heavy five minutes. Maybe it was just a minute or maybe it was longer, but our silence felt thick like the fog that would eventually settle in after the storm passed. I wanted to say everything and nothing all at the same time. Finally, Ms. Conley cleared her throat, although still looking straight ahead. “You know, Colin, if you need some time alone with your dad, that’s alright. I can wait in my car.” “No, Ms. Conley, I… I’m glad you’re here.” I was finally saying what I had been longing to say for months but the context was just wildly different than I imagined. “This would suck to do alone and… I like having you around.” She turned to look at me with a closed lip smile so warm that I thought the raindrops on my coat had evaporated. “Thank you. You can call me Maureen, by the way,” she reminded me for what was probably the five hundredth time. It just never felt right for me to say her first name, like I didn’t deserve to. Maureen. I got comfortable putting her on a pedestal and I was afraid that leveling with her would make the wonder disappear like my breath in the cold. “I kinda like saying Ms. Conley. It has a nice ring to it.” I offered a small smile, taking the moment to admire her. “So does Mrs. Caufield, though. If you, um, ya know, wanna go down that road eventually.” 47


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She laughed slightly, shaking her head. “We’ll see. Thank you, though, for being okay with all this. I know it isn’t easy.” Without saying it, I knew she meant more than just sitting here in the waiting room while doctors removed operated on my father. The sincerity in her voice led me to believe she was referring to the past eight months of her whirlwind appearances in my house and her soft smile confirmed it. "Yeah, well…" I didn't know what to say. Words couldn't fill this moment. "Hey, you know… my dad is going to be fine." In a rare moment of bravery, I reached over to her. My hand gently rested on top of hers. I didn't try to cup our hands, nor did I try to lace our fingers. I just let the warmth of my hand sit on top of hers. "I know," Ms. Conley responded, while her eyes flickered toward our connected hands. Her head then turned forward, looking straight ahead. I wondered what she was looking at. Maybe she was peering down the hallway where my dad's hospital room sat or maybe she was watching a doctor frantically scribble on his chart. I'd never know, but I'd never know a lot of things about Maureen Conley. When our hands came together, it hit me that I finally had my moment alone with her, her fingers resting underneath mine. She was still a mystery to me, always will be, and I'm content with that. We sat in silence for another twenty-eight minutes. On the twenty-ninth minute, the surgeon walked toward us with a sunny disposition and Conley’s fingers laced with mine. Maybe I am lucky.

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La poésie, Sa postérité, Sa publication by Yvette Vasseur La poésie est l’instrument de la liberté d’expression la plus pointue, la plus libre de toute contrainte, toutefois pour rester compréhensible et légère, comme le lecteur souhaite souvent la trouver, il faut que le poète sache la rendre limpide, souple à la sensibilité des autres. Ce n’est pas le cas de ceux qui donnent dans l’hermétisme et qui écrivent pour euxmêmes en pensant qu’ils pourront être lu et compris des autres. La pensée de chacun est un cheminement qui lui est propre, si l’auteur veut avoir des adeptes il lui faudra faire un travail pour que l’autre puisse le suivre dans sa pensée. Faut-il prendre des produits pour penser que l’on peut comprendre tel poète, telle musique ? Peut-on partager les pensées noires ou rose d’un poète ou s’aventurer avec sûreté sur le chemin des pensées escarpées et psychédéliques ou schizophrènes de quelques poètes à même de vouloir nous faire partager leur conviction d’être « dirigés » par des extraterrestres ? Pour moi les mystères de la domination de la pensée sont bels et bien terrestres et nous donnent à voir et à penser ce qu’ils désirent que l’on pense et que l’on voit. Rien de nouveau depuis les oracles mécaniques des temples d’Alexandrie. Si ce n’est qu’aujourd’hui tout est commandité par le besoin de commercialiser tel ou tel produit selon tel ou tel courant d’idée. Certains penseront que j’ai l’esprit étroit et que le poète incompris trouvera son public dans un autre temps. Oui si quelqu’un se penche sur son œuvre et se bat pour la faire vivre de manière posthume. Sinon elle finira dans l’oubli, je ne crois pas à la génération spontanée du génie qui se révèle à lui-même d’un siècle sur l’autre ou d’une génération sur l’autre, si ce n’est l’admiration d’un seul qui se bat pour que l’œuvre sorte de l’ombre. Ce fut le cas de Christophe Colomb et de Vincent van Gogh par exemple qui avaient fils ou neveu pour croire en eux. Le poète n’aura vraiment de postérité et de lectorat que s’il se bat pour ça et que d’autres croient en lui, parents, éditeurs, amis… Les gens qui écrivent aujourd’hui luttent contre l’indifférence, l’insignifiance, existent au travers de ce qu’ils écrivent, soignent leurs plaies inconsolables et tentent de se réconcilier 49


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avec la vie à travers leurs écrits. Il n’est pas toujours indispensable de publier tout ce qu’on écrit. Il fait publier quand on est prêt pour le partage, pour le succès ou pour l’indifférence il faut souvent beaucoup de courage pour soumettre ce que l’on a créé aux autres. J’ai vu des musiciens les plus chevronnés faire preuve d’une humilité totale en présentant leur nouvel album en avant-première… La publication n’est pas preuve de succès elle est trace de partage possible, aujourd’hui il existe des réseaux sociaux qui vous incitent à ce partage, mais la place réservée à la poésie semble celle d’une vitrine surchargée ou tout le monde souhaite paraître sans pour autant s’intéresser aux autres, c’est souvent le cas des auteurs avec leur hystérie de lectorat... ; Seul les vrais amateurs de poésie lisent les autres, peut-être aussi ceux qui passent du temps pour essayer de les publier… La poésie est faite pour un public restreint de gens qui ont gardé une fraîcheur d’âme suffisante pour la ressentir, par un public qui s’est réconcilié avec l’enfant qu’il était. De plus pour la respecter et ne pas en faire un instrument et un argument commercial, ne pas la prostituée en somme…il faut un cœur pur… Donc si vous souhaitez devenir célèbre, populaire, riche, faites de la politique, travaillez dans le commerce ou dans les médias ou faites dans la musique de variété… Vous aurez plus de chance d’y parvenir.

Photograph by Flora Michèle Marin

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The Words Jump Off My Pen by Walter Ruhlmann Atwood's Handmaid's Tale made my mind swirl and twirl as no other work had done before: words are rich, lush and imposing their force on us. The mightiest novel, visions of an uncanny world, a world looking like some down there: so many girls suffer in silence, experience outrageous living condition. The Wives may petition the Lord they praise each day it rains, or the sun bathes the country lost in faith, in its warmth, no saviour came to unveil the poisoned vines twisting around their neck, the dragon heads – yes, evil can take many shapes. To read words on the page. To leaf through quietly as he lies on his back, calmly breathing. To recognize in this masterpiece so many wrongs no one had ever thought about, not that way. No such bold poetry had ever embraced me, she writes: “Pen is Envy”. So a mole desire, a tempting jelly fish erupts from the lizard brain treasured in my skull. Words can jump on the screen, they leap and loop then to crash on the page, a white digital surface, I face it everyday, and nights too, because the loon can't sleep, sheepishly getting out of the bed, the shed where the leprechaun hides his many secrets, uttering words at night, in his sleep, moaning when darkness envelops his body, conceals him from the sun rays mirrored by the snowed fields. We have this strange concept, this awkward ambition to unleash our beasts when the sole idea of sweating and panting makes us moan, growl and cry out from pain.

Walking, photograph by Ira Joel Haber

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Those who have something to say, mgversion2>datura's interview series I have been around for a time long enough to be interested in exploring further than just what other people write, that's why I decided to start this new series of interviews. Something that happened from time to time in the past, but not on a regular basis. This feature will now be programmed every quarterly in the journal. ***** Marie Lecrivain, © 2013 « Of course the writing process is painful and liberating, but with Irma Tre, it was necessary for me to acknowledge those dark and unpleasant dark parts of myself, in particular how I interact with people who've hurt me deeply. No one likes gaze into a mirror and see a warty toad staring back at them, but that's part of growing as an artist. For the totality of WHO I am, I have nothing to apologize for. I AM... and so are you. »

The first interview I wanted to carry out was to receive the wise words of one of the editors I admire the most. Marie Lecrivain edits poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles. Marie recently published her collection The Virtual Tablet of Irma Tre through Edgar & Lenore's Publishing House, which is one the factors that led me to ask her for an interview. The title of this book and its contents – the exploration of alchemy – were so intriguing somehow.

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This lady is both serious and funny, through her words in journals and magazines, her editorial work, her Facebook posts, and how she introduces herself to readers as when she says she is “a writer in residence at her apartment”. Her words and art have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including: Cuib Nest Nido, Edgar Allen Poetry Journal, Haibun Today, The Los Angeles Review, The Poetry Salzburg Review, Spillway, Tree Killer Ink, A New Ulster, and others. She is also the editor of several anthologies, including Near Kin: Words and Art inspired by Octavia E. Butler (© 2014 Sybaritic Press). Her avocations include photography; meditation, alchemy, marmosets, Vincent Price, H.P. Lovecraft, the number seven, and the letter S. Keep it a secret but to invite her, I called her a lady bug, I think that's what she is in the animal kingdom. Walter: Last year was the tenth anniversary of poeticdiversity, how do you feel about it? Marie: Con: I feel frustrated that with the pending abolition of Net Neutrality 1 in this country, poeticdiversity, along with many other online publications, will be marginalized. I started poeticdiversity to give writers, poets, and artists a place to showcase their words and ideas. The trend these days, at least from what I can see, is that fewer people give a damned, because people would rather spend their time reading gossip and re-posting cat pictures (I am highly guilty of the latter). Pro: Bring on another ten years. Walter: Would you then define yourself as an Amazon of literature? A woman who stands for causes, social or literary, armed with a pen? Marie: An Amazon of literature? If only. No, I am a devotee of the written word. It's 1

http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~raylin/whatisnetneutrality.htm

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inevitable that I became a publisher. I grew up surrounded by books. My parents owned a print shop. My grandmother was a librarian. My great aunt and uncle owned their own book bindery and small press. I was the nerd who preferred to stay indoors and read as opposed to getting in fights on the playground with the other kids. Books were - and are - my friends. I do worry – daily – about the decline of literacy. I have members of my family who LIVE to read, and other members who think books are a waste of time. They'd rather play video games than read. I worry they'll become functionally literate. That's not what I want for my indirect descendants. A full life includes literature, in my arrogant opinion. Walter: You've just published The Virtual Tablet of Irma Tre. I've been wondering whether Irma would be an anagram of Marie. Who is Irma? Marie: The Virtual Tablet of Irma Tre (copyright 2014 Edgar & Lenore's Publishing House) is a series of alchemical poems based on personal transformation. The title is an homage to Hermes Trismegistus, the author of The Emerald Tablet, one of the first known treatises on alchemy. Some of the poems deal directly with my internal responses, as well as my reactions to spiritual alchemy. Some of the poems are based off of external experiences. As I stated in the beginning of Irma Tre, "Alchemy is evolution." Everything one does IS an alchemical working, whether they are aware of it or not. I believe that if all of us reconciled ourselves with that fact, we would treat each other and this planet a lot better than we do now. I wrote Irma Tre to make sense of the last six years of my life. I'd hit a wall, both spiritually and emotionally. I'm a member of Ordo Templi Orientis, a sempiternal fraternal and religious order. I practice ceremonial magic. I'm a student of alchemy. There comes a time when a magician has to synthesize and process all she's experienced and learned. Writing Irma Tre was a painful and liberating experience. I'm glad I did it. Is Irma Tre an anagram for my name? No, but now that you mention it, I can see that all the letters of my first name are in the title. That wasn't intentional. Walter: Don't you think the writing process is always painful and liberating? Leading me 54


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back to your editorial side, don't you find it hard sometimes to say "sorry, no" to a submitter when we know that, sometimes, most of the time, the author has put a lot of energy – both consuming and sustaining – into his writing? Marie: You've asked me a multi-layered question, so here are my answers: Of course the writing process is painful and liberating, but with Irma Tre, it was necessary for me to acknowledge those dark and unpleasant dark parts of myself, in particular how I interact with people I've hurt/who've hurt me deeply. No one likes gaze into a mirror and see a toad staring back at them, but that's part of the evolution as an artist. For the totality of WHO I am, I have nothing to apologize for. I AM... and so are you. My roles as editor, and writer overlap in one specific area: adherence to submission guidelines. As a writer who desires to get her work published, I will read submission guidelines carefully. As I'm putting together my submission, I'll often refer back to said guidelines to make sure my submission meets that publisher's editorial standards. If the work is rejected, it doesn't mean that the work is inadequate, it means that it doesn't resonate with the editor. That boils down to an editor's personal preference. I don't take that personally. And no, I don't feel bad saying "thanks, but no thanks," to a writer whose work may be fantastic, but didn't bother to read the guidelines. The publication process is one of mutual trust. If you trust me with your work, I need to trust that you at care about the magazine in which your work will appear. For first-time poets who are either not familiar with, or too impatient to follow guidelines, I send back a short note thanking them for their work, and then send them the link to the submission guideline page. Those who recognize the opportunity they're given will resubmit. They ARE the poets and writers I enjoy representing in my magazine. Walter: So, to put it in a nutshell, whether it is about writing or editing, it is all a question 55


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of dosing and alchemy? Marie: I'm going to assume you mean is it a question of trial and error until one finds the perfect combination of creativity, technical proficiency, and timing. So, in a nutshell, yes. Walter: Tell me more about alchemy and this magic ceremonial. That is so intriguing, it reminds me the druid meetings I had account of back in the 90s in England. Marie: Ceremonial Magick - “The Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will” - Aleister Crowley Alchemy - “I am the place / where creation is working itself out.” - The Outpost/Tomas Transtromer You’ve asked me a question I’ve been trying to answer for my entire life. The quotes above reflect my own alchemical/artistic process. I’m going to answer how this pertains to me, personally. I need to be the best “me” I can be. To that end, I employ whatever means I can use, whether it be a series of rituals, devotionals, exercises, what-have-you, to achieve that goal. The key is to stay focused, but also, at the same time, to be open to the possibility the end result may not be what I originally intended/desired/imagined. Example: I want to be a successful poet. I go to open mics. I read LOTS of poetry. I write and write and write, and then write some more. I read my poems to an audience of my poetic peers. How they react to the material, in part, determines the success/failure of the poem. If they hate it, I analyse my delivery. Did my tone sound flat? Did I stumble over the words? Was I prepared enough to share the poem? Did I believe in the poem, and did I give it

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my best ALL to convince others that this was the best I can produce? I want to get published. I go to a source like Duotrope2, where I can find thousands of magazines that publish poetry. I check the statistics on different magazines, keep track of my submissions, and read the editor interviews. I find magazines I believe will be receptive to my work. I read their back issues. I study their submission guidelines. I tailor my submissions to match what I believe will have the greatest chance of success. I email my submissions. Then, I wait. Some submissions get rejected, and others are accepted for publication. Some submissions are ignored by editors, either because they got lost in the shuffle, or they have too much poetry already. The poems that get rejected are re-read, re-edited, and then sent out again, but to a different publication. The ones that get accepted are published, and I promote that publication when it occurs. I’ve been writing poetry for 12 years. Am I a successful poet? That depends on how one defines success. To date, I’ve had my work appear in over 250 publications. I’ve published seven books of poetry. I’ve toured throughout Southern California. I’ve been interviewed by various poetry magazines. I’ve had my books reviewed and purchased. I’ve yet to win any contests (I don’t enter them as a rule), and make a living as a poet. What I have discovered are three things: 1) Yes, I AM/in the process of becoming a poet. I’m still evolving. 2) I’m at home with both success AND failure in my journey as a poet. I've had my work repeatedly rejected by publishers who don't believe I have enough of an academic pedigree. I’ve made some amazing friends along the way. I’ve written poems, and taken risks – artistically speaking – I didn’t think I was capable of – even as recently as six months ago. Irma Tre is clear proof of that fact. 3) Poetry is an avocation, not a business venture. Am I happy with my progression? So far – not completely. Dissatisfaction keeps me growing. This is a process, that, like alchemy, is never truly finished. I’m still working, 2

https://duotrope.com/

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refining, researching, creating, and most importantly, writing. Walter: That's such an interesting subject. Craig J. McCafferty, the artist who signed my silly black cat with its hat was into spirituality too, hyper-sensitive, I have a few accounts of how this affected him. Marie: It's a subject that's been inextricably entwined with the Arts for thousands of years! Walter: That's right ,and some of my French contacts are also deeply into it: Cathy Garcia, who I call the beauty queen of the stone-age, and Phillippe Pissier, an admirer of Crowley who you actually cited. How did you feel being published in Levure littĂŠraire recently? Marie: I feel like I've stumbled into what I thought was a cocktail party, but turns out to be a full-fledged state dinner with formal attire. I'm fortunate to be included with other poets of distinction. I'd like to see such an important and thorough journal happen as well. I have the feeling that France doesn't particularly like poetry. I have a cousin who lives in eastern France. He's a sculptor. He told me that France likes "the novel" and not "the poetry," and though that was ten years ago, it seems it has not changed much. Walter: That's quite right, though writers here in the French speaking parts of the continent use more and more mixed forms. The thing is the French poetry scene is held by a group of "deciders" who don't really like this hybrid form, and there's this aversion for anything electronic. Marie: Ridiculous! That reminds me of the old poetry wars in Los Angeles, though I haven't heard any rumbles for several years. This divergence of views between print and electronic publication is stupid. There is no substitute for the feel of a paper copy, but that doesn't mean that online publications are second best. Let's take Life and Legends as an example. There's 22 pages of amazing POETS in there, including Robert Pinsky (former poet laureate). That shocked the hell out of me. Five years ago, I wouldn't have seen most of these poets 58


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published online. Walter: How do you feel when a publication appears and its editors say it's going to burn down the house, and it finally disappears after one year at the best, a few weeks more likely, when simple but deep-thoughtful such as poeticdiveristy or Ygdrasil have been there for decades? Marie: I feel that the magazine fulfilled its purpose. Some publications are meant to last for a few issues. Some go on for decades, like Ygdrasil, Poetry Super Highway, etc. Most of that depends on circumstance, as well as the commitment of the editor-publisher. I'm not in a position to criticize/ponder why a magazine may fold. I, myself, took an 18month hiatus from Nov. 2010-Jan. 2012 with poeticdiversity. I got burned out. But I love poetry, and I love publishing the writers I like to read, so I took it up again when I was ready to do so. Walter: Pen is envy...? Marie: I have no pen envy. We all create from the same core of inspiration, and that goes beyond sexual identity.

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The Virtual Tablet of Irma Tre by Marie Lecrivain from through Edgar & Lenore's Publishing House Available from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Virtual-Tablet-IrmaTre/dp/0985471549/ref=sr_1_2? s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402681208&sr=1-2

Geber by Marie Lecrivain from The Virtual Tablet of Irma Tre With Promethean intent he’ll find his way to you. He’s the pharmacist who regales you with tales of what happens to the unwary who mix SSRIs with chardonnay. He’s the mismatched JPL nerd who lives to fulminate over the demise of Jack Parsons at cocktail parties. There’s no malice in the transmission of knowledge. It’s an inborn impulse, embedded in the back wall of the left ventricle that drags all incarnations to the present. It’s the maxim that remains unproven, since science as karma is largely misunderstood. Be patient, and kind. He’s keeps trying and trying and trying until he gets it right. 60


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New titles from mgv2>publishing this semester July 2014 : Stale Angst by Daniel N. Flanagan, introduced by Amber Decker

It feels rather fitting that I sit down to write this introduction on Friday the thirteenth, and there is a full moon riding high in the sky. It's a perfect night for lunatics, high-rollers and werewolves, if you believe in such things. And you really should, if you're settling down with this particular collection of poems...because this is the place where Daniel N. Flanagan's poetry lives. I've never met Daniel in person, but the pictures he paints for me...for all of us...with his words makes me want to meet him. I can picture us meeting in a dark bar and him sliding me a drink, probably whiskey. In my mind, I can see the alleyway we would slink into, the drunks and unlucky fools we would stumble past, the brick walls closing in around us like a 61


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cocoon. And then his fingers brushing my thigh, lifting my skirt...but that's another story all together. Daniel's poetry is gritty and dirty and dark, but also beautiful in the way that the angelfaced girl crying in the bathroom of that dirty bar we just slipped out of is beautiful, with tendrils of dark hair falling into her eyes and black lines of mascara snaking down her cheeks. She is the same girl who cries in every bathroom of every bar in every city whenever she hears her favorite song playing and remembers what it's like to be kissed by someone who loves her. Or, at least, someone who pretended very well and then left her all alone to pick up the pieces. I'm sure Daniel has already met her. Or someone like her. Daniel is very good at picking up the pieces. His poetic voice is the ghost who follows you home when you are drunk and desperate and you just need someone to talk to. He's not afraid of your truth. He's dangling over the edge already. He writes like a man who is not afraid of much. But that makes sense if he is, as he puts it, “already dead.” He treads the paths that skirt the edges of dreams and the underworld. He walks with the fools and the whores and the downtrodden. He knows their stories well. He walks through the city, leaving his words behind, scrawled across the open mouths of doorways; you can walk through any one that suits you. And maybe...just maybe...you will find that final missing piece, left behind just for you, carefully gathered into a poem that speaks to your brokenness...and to the brokenness in us all. Amber Decker – June 13, 2014 Amber Decker is a poet from West Virginia who has been published extensively in both print and online venues. She is a lover of horses, hooded sweatshirts, dark chocolate, fantasy novels, werewolf movies and red wine. She also spends a ridiculous amount of time at the gym working on her anger management issues. Her most recent chapbook, True North was released in September 2013 and is available from Maverick Duck Press. http://www.maverickduckpress.com/truenorth.html 62


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Stale Angst by Daniel N. Flanagan – Three excerpts Daniel N. Flanagan (born October 1, 1992) is a Worcester, MA short-story writer and poet. He is the author of the poetry collection Stale Angst, published by mgv2>publishing. Flanagan was born and raised in Massachusetts. He is the youngest of three children. His parents divorced when he was four years old, and both remain unwed. He graduated from West Boylston High School in 2011. After completing two years at Framingham State University, he took time off to concentrate on writing. Dead-Man Writing They say when you die, Your mind releases large amounts of DMT. And it is this which provides euphoria. The flashback of your life; While you soil your dungarees. But what if, I have already died. I am a dead man, Still alive in my own mind. It feels plausible, possible. Yes, I am a dead man writing. And so I will soar, fly & die. Again. *** Writer Write her. Maybe that means I am a true contemporary writer For if I do not Write her I feel burdened Feel guilty for not doing so, Doing her I cannot scorn another woman who offers love And so my love interest in writing is karma ridden 63


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For I desire her strongly, seek her Need her, be inspired and treat her well She never repays me, never relaxes me, never satisfies me Financially, sexually, intellectually Damn you, writing But if Slim did it Shady, id and ego all Perhaps my background will drive me Perhaps my Kim will return with the fame. What I wouldn’t give for one unlucky dame to call mine. For the fights fuel me, So I provoke them, stroke her, she strokes me, I strike her Now I finally have something to write. She wipes the blood off her lips & runs to the fridge To grab me a Budweiser. She has been trained well. It is time for a new one, She is growing stale, pale because she is too afraid to leave this motel room. So I kick her out, she falls down. Do not worry, no one sees. She will float out to seas. Kiss, I will cherish the miss Goodbye bliss. *** He Who Writes He who is cursed by the need to, Not the desire to Write, is the greatest. I write so you can relate To my cardinal. & so I can become great Due to my cardinal But I do not desire to. I revile to. I aspire to be a writer who does not write.

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September 2014 : La peau by Alexandra Bouge, introduced by Walter Ruhlmann

Préface à La peau En ce dimanche après-midi, je l'imagine parcourant les rues de la ville: Belleville, Montreuil ou peut-être Paris elle-même. A la découverte de quelque street-art dont elle est si friande et qu'elle photographie pour remettre à sa place la beauté cruelle du paysage urbain, pour les immortaliser aussi, avant qu'ils ne soient repassés à la peinture, au Kärcher ou à la bombe d'un autre graffeur moins sensible ou moins attentif. Le mobilier urbain récemment repensé pour éviter aux clochards d'embouteiller les halls ou les entrées d'immeubles, les quai du métro, les jardins publics, sert aussi de source 65


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d'inspiration à Alexandra comme le montrent elles aussi certaines de ses photos, ou les mots qu'elle met en forme page après page pour en décrire l'horreur absolue, autant que les noires espérances de ceux qui peuplent les recoins de la cité. Dans cette œuvre atypique, comme dans tout ce qu'elle écrit, ou tout ce qu'elle créé, Alexandra Bouge, une auteure prolifique, socialement impliquée, d'autres dirait indignée, elle-même à la merci d'une société toujours plus exigeante, pour ne pas dire maltraitante, avec ceux pour qui l'art, l'humain, l'être ont toujours eu plus d'importance que ce que nos contemporains mettent en avant. Il y a de la cruauté, des mots crus, des images fortes, des échanges dérangeants, des situations désespérées, il y a beaucoup d'ombre et peu de lumière, peu d'espoir en d'autres termes, mais toujours celui de voir Alve, le personnage féminin principal de La peau, atteindre le but qu'elle s'est fixée. Vivre bien, plutôt que survivre face à de nombreux dangers insidieux. Je parlais d'une œuvre atypique car il faut bien reconnaître que le mélange de deux langues : le texte est incrusté de mots ou expressions roumains pour lesquels Alexandra Bouge donne une traduction et une adaptation phonétique. Ces aspérités sont là pour nous rappeler que de la part d'une personne perdue au milieu d'un territoire étranger, hostile à sa présence, à son existence même, il est parfois des lacunes lexicales, culturelles qui ne sauraient être comblées par autre chose que des mots issus de la langue maternelle, un sein vers lequel la bouche se tend pour y retrouver le réconfort souhaité, les repères d'un héritage, certes lourd à porter, mais essentiel à la personne. Alexandra a d'ailleurs dédié ce livre à Flora Michèle Marin, sa mère, elle-même arrivée de Roumanie, artiste, biologiste de métier, dont les œuvres sont encore publiées aujourd'hui. Lors de sa première publication au format numérique en 2010, ce texte n'était pas complet ; Alexandra y a ajouté d'autres textes inédits qui viennent ajouter des touches à ce tableau d'une société moderne déshumanisée, incapable d'accepter l'autre tel qu'il est. Alexandra Bouge a le don du traumatisme. Nul n'a encore su mettre en scène - ici dans un décor de visages spectraux et inquiétants, comme des impressions de Rorschach, des personnages que l'on pourrait définir comme fracassés de la vie, simplement en quête d'un meilleur qui n'existe que dans l'imaginaire. Brutal, cru, le récit d'Alve vous mène le long de 66


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chemins tortueux qu'il est nécessaire d’emprunter pour voir le monde au grand jour. Walter Ruhlmann – 15/06/2014 *** La peau d'Alexandra Bouge – trois extraits Alexandra Bouge licenciée en Arts Plastiques et Communication à l'Université de la Sorbonne. Elle publie en 2013 La ville de glace aux éditions Mémoire Vivante, des textes et des pochoirs dans la revue Népenthès, poesiemuziketc. Et dans la revue Paysages écrits, et des textes dans les revues 17 Secondes, L'Autobus. En 2012 elle publie quatre ouvrages: Une nuit à Belleville, recueil de poésies, de photographies et de street art, La ville, recueil de poésies, de photographies de travaux plastique et de street art, Alve recueil de poésies et de dessins, et Le Campement, qui est un recueil de nouvelles. ALVE Elle s'est retrouvée seule avec l'enfant dans le besoin. La seule aide pouvait venir de sa mère, mais elle avait vieilli et n'avait plus toute sa tête. Au-delà de ce que Alve pouvait imaginer elle se sentait coincée, dans l'impossibilité de trouver une solution. Les amis se sont coupés d'elle car elle n'était plus comme eux, la difficulté, la situation dans laquelle elle se trouvait les a faits fuir. Un temps. Il pleuvait, il planait presque sur les trottoirs, ils étaient vides. Elle se réfugia sous un porche. Le môme pleurait, des gens sont sortis à la fenêtre pour réclamer le silence. La nuit dans son hôpital, lorsqu'il est né, elle eût peur de se retrouver avec lui. Le sommeil la fit flancher, le bébé sentit la fatigue de la mère et se calma. Le bébé la réveilla tôt le matin. Elle lui donna le sein, et partit à la recherche de nourriture. Des tziganes avec des bébés, enveloppés dans des layettes aux modèles de leurs pays la regardaient, avec pitié. Il fallait qu'elle s'en sorte, se disait-elle. Elle continua son chemin, le bébé dormait. Elle avait mal partout, et se demandait où est-ce qu'elle pouvait bien aller. Elle s'arrêta devant le guichet d'une banque et tendit la main. Le geste a été d'une simplicité machinale, la plus dur était de s'accepter comme ça. Des yeux vides s'arrêtaient sur elle puis continuaient leur chemin. Heureusement, le bébé dormait. Elle 67


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n'aurait pas eu le courage de lui parler, de le rassurer. Elle s'imaginait qu'il pouvait peutêtre y avoir une fin pour elle. Elle le voyait mal grandir ce bébé, l'image se confondait avec les coups que son mec lui a assenés avant de la mettre dehors. Elle s'était montrée fière. Elle encaissait les coups en se disant qu'il n'était qu'un pauvre type et qu'elle finirait bien par se trouver telle qu'elle devait être. Le bébé est né sous les coups, sans doute il les supportait moins qu'elle. Les seuls cris furent ses cris à lui, cet enfant que personne n'attendait les bras ouverts, sauf l'infirmière qui le lui présenta comme sur un plateau, un mince sourire vu les circonstances. Un surveillant lui fit l'observation de se mettre un peu plus loin car elle gênait l'entrée des clients. D'heure en heure elle se vidait d'elle-même. Elle s'est sentie disparaître comme personne, annihilée par la masse des passants, l'enfant criait. Elle ne faisait plus qu'un avec le béton, des gestes machinales firent taire le bébé. KRETIN LE GRAND Venant d'une histoire récente qu'elle n'avait pas connue, s-a zarit celui qu'on nomme Kretin le Grand. Un type de haute stature, à l'allure imposante qui incommodait le cheval maigrichon sur lequel il avait grimpé. Il se disait prêt à défendre sa patrie contre toute sorte d'envahisseur ou d'ennemi venant de l'étranger ou interne. Il descendait de cheval et se présenta devant le roi, une momie dont les tissus multicolores étaient garnis d'or, argent et bijoux précieux, fit une révérence qui couvrit 5m2 d'air au sol, et débita son court discours sur la défense de la patrie. Le roi lui fit signe de s'approcher et lui murmura à l'oreille une histoire de complot à la cour qu'il devait faire cesser dans les plus brefs délais. Kretin fit demi-tour et au fond de la salle, prit une des têtes poudrées de la cour, approcha une lame de son cou lui demandant s'il en sait quelque chose. L'autre încremenit de frica, fit semblant de ne pas entendre, s'excusa et disparut à petits pas pressés. Il avança d'un pas rapide dans le couloir, bousculant les bîrfitorii împopotonati et entra dans le cabinet de son sous-chef, hurlant et injuriant, demandant des comptes sur le fameux complot. Vu sa tête, à demi endormi dans une éternelle cugetare, l'autre n'en savait fichtrement rien, dégagea la pièce sans plus attendre à la recherche de ses informateurs. Il arpenta les couloirs (chercha longuement) son bras droit était en train de baiser avec la femme de ménage dans 68


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un coin du palais. Dès qu'il l'aperçut ce dernier se dirigea vers lui tout en remontant ses frusques. Kretin répéta l'ordre, s'éloigna, fit demi-tour, revint, lui dit encore deux, trois mots, refit un tour, revint à nouveau, l'autre impec dans son uniforme, la tête penchée écouta pour une troisième fois les ordres et s'en alla, orbecaind dans le couloir sombre. -s-a zarit : en roumain se prononce « sa zarite »: se montra -încremenit de frica : en roumain se prononce « înequeréménite dé friqua » : pétrifié de peur -bîrfitorii împopotonati : en roumain se prononce « birefitorï îmepopotzonatzi » : les gens habillés comme des arbres de noël médisants -cugetare : en roumain se prononce « qoutgétaré » : méditation -orbecaind : en roumain se prononce « orebéquaiende » : tâtonnant

LE PANORAMA Au début d'un automne fade et pluvieux, marchant agale, je le vis, umblînd brambura, comme un chien vagabond, empêché de faire ce qu'il lui passe par la tête par les nécessites alimentaires qui lui tailladaient l'estomac. Il passa près d'un de ses compatriotes, flaira l'odeur de décomposition et déguerpit vite, une rafale de peur lui traversa le visage. Regardant dans le projecteur le panorama éloigné, le premier plan enveloppé dans du brouillard, il attendait, immobile, qu'elle arrive. Accoutré d'un imperméable qui flottait sur se ses épaules frêles, il voyait des formes tesîndu-se dans la vapeur. Derrière lui, des touristes gesticulaient et parlaient fort, il s'enferma dans sa bulle le temps de saper le long échafaudage formé de tuyaux en haut duquel il était monté. Elle était en retard comme d'habitude. De fines gouttes de pluie s'accrochaient à ses cheveux longs, ondulés, lui collaient aux tempes et au-devant des oreilles. Des exclamations comme des bulles à savon s'étaient posées dans l'air, derrière lui. ― Là-bas, c'est Notre-Dame. 69


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― Vous avez vu la Tour Eiffel, pointa du doigt la petite fille la carte postale qu'on lui fit voir le jour d'avant le départ. Il sentit quelqu'un lui taper sur l'épaule, se retourna, une bouche accrocha la sienne. ― Je sors juste du rendez-vous. Excuse-moi pour le retard. On me prie de bien vouloir avancer vers la pièce où avaient lieu les rendez-vous. Ils ne m'ont pas lâché, mes origines sociales, raciales, tests psychotechniques. Imagine, c'est pour un travail alimentaire. ― Eh oui, libre à toi de sauter de te jeter d'ici, nous sommes au quinzième étage. Le panorama est beau. « agale » : en roumain se prononce « agualé » : nonchalamment, lentement « umblind brambura » : en roumain se prononce « oumeblinede barmeboura » : flânant « tesîndu-se » : : en roumain se prononce « tzessinedoussé » : se tissant

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December 2014 : Post Mayotte Trauma de Walter Ruhlmann, introduced by Patrice Maltaverne

Walter Ruhlmann, activiste de la poésie francophone et anglophone, a beaucoup bougé ces quinze dernières années. En effet, depuis que j’ai commencé de collaborer à la revue de Walter, intitulée mgversion2>datura, je me souviens de ses lieux de vie successifs, notamment dans la région du Mans, puis en cette année 2010, à Mayotte, destination à l’évidence plus exotique que les précédentes. A ce moment là, je me suis dit : il est parti là-bas, mais en reviendra-t-il ? Ce changement de vie promettait d’être total et devait correspondre à un besoin de renouvellement profond. Je peinais d’ailleurs à imaginer les différences avec l’existence 71


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d’ici. En tout cas, à la fin 2011 et comme pour mettre fin à ce genre d’interrogations, Walter a de nouveau posé ses valises en Métropole, rapportant à l’intérieur un recueil de poèmes en forme de bilan : il s’agit de « Post Mayotte Trauma », qui constitue une référence pleine de dérision, révélée par l’auteur, à l’expression « Palmes-Masque-Tuba », alliés des sportifs de la plongée. Dans les pages qui vont suivre, vous découvrirez donc les divers moments de ce séjour à l’autre bout du monde, émaillés de nombreux noms de lieux et entrecoupés d’une escapade à l’île de la Réunion, de quoi suivre à la trace l’auteur en ses pérégrinations. Cependant, si vous recherchez des cartes postales pour égayer votre bureau, vous serez sans doute un peu déçus, malgré la présence de quelques illustrations dans le recueil. En effet, Mayotte sert de prétexte à l’introspection et ne laisse pas que des bons souvenirs. Ainsi, vous ne pourrez pas oublier les réalités de ce pays éruptif, et pas seulement au sens propre du terme, puisque hélas, la pauvreté de ses habitants, générant l’instabilité sociale, marque le quotidien des expatriés. Alors, est-ce que « Post Mayotte Trauma » vous découragera d’aller là-bas ? Je ne le crois pas. Prenez plutôt cette série de textes comme une invitation à ouvrir davantage votre esprit à d’autres ambiances. Prenez la aussi comme la relation d’une tranche de vie bien découpée, dont les instantanés, ses instants de partage et de plaisir, comme d’angoisse et d’abattement, sont décrits avec naturel par Walter Ruhlmann, à travers un style clair, presque aérien, à l’image du mode de transport usité pour rejoindre Mayotte depuis la France. Il s’agit là en définitive, pour l’auteur, de rendre compte, de la façon la plus exacte possible, de ses impressions, à l’instant où elles naissent. C’est bien là l’une des « missions » les plus cruciales de la poésie, au moins depuis Rimbaud, et qui contribue au plaisir du lecteur. Patrice MALTAVERNE

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Né en 1971 à Nevers, Patrice Maltaverne vit à Metz. Il a publié depuis 1990 des poèmes dans une trentaine de revues. Il anime le poézine « Traction-brabant » depuis janvier 2004 : 57 numéros papier en circulation à ce jour, ainsi que le blog : http://www.traction-brabant.blogspot.fr/. En 2012 il a créé un blog de chroniques poétiques : http://poesiechroniquetamalle.centerblog.net/, et enfin les micro-éditions Le Citron Gare : http://lecitrongareeditions.blogspot.fr/ « Venge les anges », (collection Minicrobe, supplément à la revue Microbe, 2013) « Même pas mort à Vienne » (Vincent Rougier Editions, 2013) « Perte / Perdu » (Asphodèle Editions, 2013) Participation à l’anthologie « Buck you » (Editions Gros Textes, 2013) Ecrit en collaboration avec Fabrice Marzuolo, « La partie riante des affreux », Editions Le Citron Gare, 2012 *** Post Mayotte Trauma de Walter Ruhlmann – trois extraits PMT 3 – août 2010 Là haut oiseau de tôle. De l’eau sous nos pieds posés sur la moquette bleu azurée et rassurante, si tendre de l’air liner. L’été nous quitte et nous entrons dans l’hiver vert de gris à l’en ver s

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mgv2>publishing forthcoming titles PMT 17 – mars 2011 Retour

de plage, les pieds ensablés par cette poussière de métal, tombée des roches volcaniques. Nous mettons le sac à laver dans la machine et le faisons sécher toute la nuit sur la varangue. Harangue et triste sire, je cire mes pompes sur l'herbe verte un coup d’œil je jette et j'aperçois entre mes doigts de pied une scolopendre s'étendre et se tortiller dans tous les sens du terme. Pause. A quoi bon hurler tu ne pourras pas éviter la morsure sans chaussure à tes pieds.

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mgv2>publishing forthcoming titles PMT 27 – septembre 2011

L'île s'est cassée la gueule, le rêve s'est effondré, les circonflexes enchevêtrés.

Contributors' Biographies Paul Beckman is an oft published author of short stories & flash fiction. He's had one collection of short stories & 3 chap books collections published plus several stories adapted as plays. Additionally, he's had five stories in anthologies. Some publications: Exquisite Corpse, Other Voices Connecticut Review, Molotov Cocktail, Ascent Aspirations Soundzine, 5 Trope, Playboy, Web del Sol, Metazen, My Audio Universe, Litro, Word Riot. 4'33", Connotation Press, The Vilna Review & Pure Slush. Alexandra Bouge licenciée en Arts Plastiques et Communication à l'Université de la Sorbonne. Elle publie en 2013 La ville de glace aux éditions Mémoire Vivante, des textes et des pochoirs dans la revue Népenthès, poesiemuziketc. Et dans la revue Paysages écrits, et des textes dans les revues 17 Secondes, L'Autobus. En 2012 elle publie quatre ouvrages: Une nuit à Belleville, recueil de poésies, de photographies et de street art, La ville, recueil de poésies, de photographies de travaux plastique et de street art, Alve recueil de poésies et de dessins, et Le Campement, qui est un recueil de nouvelles. Plasticienne, Sophie Brassart travaille le geste poétique à l'encre. Ses travaux sont visibles sur son blog Toile poétique http://graindeble.blogspot.fr ainsi que dans plusieurs revues de poésie contemporaine. Elle a illustré récemment le recueil de Fabrice Farre, Le chasseur immobile (editions du Citron gare) Chloé Charpentier: 13 décembre 1990, 12h50, clinique Notre-Dame à Saint-Dié-des-Vosges. P. Martin accouche de son troisième enfant. A sa grande surprise, il est bleu et c'est une fille. Une écharpe visqueuse autour du cou. Il ne faut pas jouer avec le froid au cœur de l'hiver, surtout dans la montagne. Cordon ombilical dénoué de sa gorge, l'enfant reprend une couleur normale. 22 décembre 2012, 20h30, CCAN à Nancy. C. Charpentier, l'enfant-bleue-des-montagnes, accessoirement étudiante à la faculté de lettres de Nancy. Amis poètes avec elle, anarchiquement enthousiasmés, ils fondent Le Mot Ment, rendez-vous hebdomadaire du vers et de la bière, et mensuel : pour monter sur une scène improvisée et déclamer des poèmes. 2012-2014 : C. Charpentier se prend au sérieux : pour impressionner sa grand-mère, elle auto-édite quatre recueils de poèmes (Des Fleurs au bord d'un précipice, Le Silence nous écoute, Liturgie des cendres froides et

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Contributors' Biographies Si l'eau est) et un recueil de nouvelles (Le Bruissement des feuilles). En revue, Patrice Maltaverne édite trois de ses poèmes dans Traction-Brabant (n°55). Invitée par Alain Helissen à lire à Metz ses textes, sortie de son repère anar, elle flippe un peu. Décembre 2013 : Son professeur de poésie lui propose de participer à Poema, festival de poésie contemporaine en Lorraine et ailleurs. Le Mot Ment est partenaire officiel. C. Charpentier rencontre Franck Doyen et Yannick Torlini, poètes militants. Mars 2014 : Avec F. Doyen et d'autres poètes, elle dit merde à l'antipoésie systématique et monte le syndicat de défense des écrivains et gens de lettres, IF. https://www.facebook.com/LeMotMent Denis Emorine est né en 1956 près de Paris. Il a fait des études de Lettres modernes à la Sorbonne (Paris IV). Il a une relation affective avec l’anglais parce que sa mère enseignait cette langue. Il est d’une lointaine ascendance russe du côté paternel. Ses thèmes de prédilection sont la recherche de l’identité, le thème du double et la fuite du temps. Il est fasciné par l’Europe de l’Est. Poète, essayiste, nouvelliste et dramaturge, il est traduit en une douzaine de langues. Son théâtre a été joué en France, au Canada (Québec) et en Russie. Plusieurs de ses livres sont traduits et édités aux Etats-Unis. Il est rédacteur en chef à la revue roumaine Cronica (Iasi). Il collabore régulièrement à la revue de littérature Les Cahiers du Sens. Il dirige trois collections de poésie aux Editions du Cygne. En 2004, Emorine a reçu le premier prix de poésie (français) au Concours International Féile Filiochta. L’Académie du Var lui a décerné le « prix de poésie 2009 » Dernière parution : Teatru, édition bilingue français/roumain Editura Ars Longa http://www.arslonga.ro/ On peut lui rendre visite sur son site : http://denis.emorine.free.fr Ronald Fischman is the author of three novels and the ghost writer of eight biographies and memoirs, from the gritty autobiography of rapper Aaron Day to the triumphal story of Pastor Kendrick Meredith over a virulent cancer with a poor prognosis. Fischman has published his essays and poetry in journals like New Mirage Journal and Mid-American Review. His collection, Generations (2010), is available on Amazon.com. His novel 3 Through History: Love in the Time of Republicans (2012) is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Kobo. Forthcoming from Finishing Line Press is his chapbook, My Book of Days (Sept. 2014) in which the current poem appears. Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum & The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Since 2007 His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 160 on line and print magazines. Mathias Jansson is a Swedish art critic and horror poet. He has been published in magazines as The Horror Zine, Dark Eclipse, Schlock and The Sirens Call. He has also contributed to over 50 different horror anthologies from publishers as Horrified Press, James Ward Kirk Fiction, Source Point Press, Thirteen Press etc. Homepage: http://mathiasjansson72.blogspot.se/ Amazon author page Steve Klepetar's recent collections include Speaking to the Field Mice (Sweatshoppe Publications), Blue Season (with Joseph Lisowski, mgv2>publishing), My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press), and Return of the Bride of Frankenstein (Kind of a Hurricane Press). Roger Leatherwood's work has previously appeared in Nefarious Ballerina, HorrorSleazeTrash, Thirteen Myna Birds, Bright Lights Film Journal and mgversion2>datura. He can be found at rogerleatherwood.wordpress.com Flora Michèle Marin était biologiste de métier, elle a fui la Roumanie à l'âge de quarante-cinq ans avec sa fille, qui était mineure. Elle a travaillé au laboratoire d'Hygiène de la Ville de Paris et a fait des gardes de nuit aux urgences de l'hôpital Mondor de Créteil, jusqu'à sa retraite. Elle a découvert l'art contemporain en France et a pris des cours au Centre Georges Pompidou. Elle a exposé ses oeuvres, ses photographies ainsi que ses travaux plastiques au « Salon de la Photographie », Salle Olympe de Gouges, en 2005, 2004, 2003 et 2002, lors de l'exposition « Les artistes de la Mairie de Paris » Hôtel de Ville, Paris en 2001 et 1999, au « Salon des Artistes Hospitaliers du Cent Cinquantenaire de l'AP-HP », Chapelle Saint-Louis du groupe hospitalier PitiéSalpétrière en 1999 et elle a illustre des textes dans les revues mgversion2>datura, Les Etats Civils, Népenthès, Paysages écrits et dans les ebooks d'Alexandra Bouge, Une nuit à Belleville et La ville. Elle est

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Contributors' Biographies morte à l'âge de soixante-quatorze ans d'un cancer du poumon. Les personnes qui l'ont connue, même quelques heures, parlent d'elle comme d'une femme exceptionnelle. An eight-time Pushcart-Prize nominee, Karla Linn Merrifield has had 400+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. Among her ten published books are her latest, Lithic Scatter and Other Poems (Mercury Heartlink) and Attaining Canopy: Amazon Poems (FootHills Publishing). Visit her blog at Vagabond Poet. Norman J. Olson, the artist, writer and poet lives in Maplewood, Minnesota. His images have been reproduced in dozens of art and literary magazines and publications throughout the world. Longing for quiet and stability, Norman avoids personal contacts with the public. His art is driven by the compulsion and obsession of a man who prefers his own company. In spite of this self-imposed seclusion, Norman J. Olson is becoming an artistic underground legend. normanjolson.com Peter O' Neill was born in Cork in 1967 and moved to France where he spent the majority of the nineties. His debut collection Antiope (Stonesthrow Poetry, 2013) was published to critical acclaim: "certainly a voice to be reckoned with." Wrote Dr Brigitte Le Juez (DCU). His second collection The Elm Tree (Lapwing, 2014) was also well received: " A thing of wonder to behold." Ross Breslin (The Scum Gentry). A third collection, The Dark Pool, is due out early next year (mgv2>publishing). He is currently working on his eight collection, and is busy translating Les Fleurs Du Mal by Baudelaire. Emeniano Acain Somoza, Jr. considers himself the official spiritual advisor of his roommates, Gordot and Dwight – the first a goldfish, the other a Turkish Van cat. Some forthcoming online and print, his works have been Editor's Choice in The Poetry Magazine, and featured in the many journals and magazines. His first book, A Fistful of Moonbeams, was published by Kilmog Press in April 2010. This year, Songs of My Mother, a collection of 5 of his poems called a Jog was published by WISH Publishing. He is busy anthologizing emptiness and boredom at the moment while working as an Academic Admissions Specialist somewhere in the land of camels and cactuses. J. J. Steinfeld is a Canadian fiction writer, poet, and playwright who lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot’s arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he has published fourteen books, including Disturbing Identities (Stories, Ekstasis Editions), Should the Word Hell Be Capitalized? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Would You Hide Me? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), An Affection for Precipices (Poetry, Serengeti Press), Misshapenness (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), and A Glass Shard and Memory (Stories, Recliner Books). His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and periodicals internationally, and over forty of his one-act plays and a handful of full-length plays have been performed in North America. Marisa Urgo is a graduate of Providence College where she received degrees in theatre and psychology. She studied writing under Alison Espach ("The Adults") and Dave Rabinow. Yvette Vasseur est une frontalière française née à Wattrelos, à 3 pas de la Belgique, en mai 1953. Autodidacte, a fait toutes sortes de métiers pour faire vivre sa famille Retraitée, elle s’adonne au jardinage, à la peinture, à l’écriture et au chant chorale. S’autoédite, est éditée en revue, Fait une feuille volante appelée « Echo de ch’Nord » depuis 1999. Elle a publié depuis 2000 chez La Plume éditions : Parcours urbains (poésie), Duos et échos (poésie), Pensées d’une femme du peuple (prose), Métropole (roman), Ecrits de mon grenier (nouvelles) et aux éditions Joseph Ouaknine Parcours (poésie) Walter Ruhlmann works as an English teacher, edits mgversion2>datura and runs mgv2>publishing. His latest collections are Maore published by Lapwing Publications, UK, 2013, Carmine Carnival published by Lazarus Media, USA, 2013, The Loss through Flutter Press, USA, 2014 and Twelve Times Thirteen through Kind of a Hurricane Press.Crossing Puddles through Robocup Press. His blog http://thenightorchid.blogspot.fr/

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