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VOLUME THREE • ISSUE TWO

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Greetings and welcome to Montana Mouthful’s “The Great Outdoors” issue!   First and foremost, we hope that you and your family and friends are staying safe from the Coronavirus. When we selected this issue’s theme, the Coronavirus had yet to take hold; we feel very fortunate to be able to continue publishing issues of Montana Mouthful during this time. Coincidentally, recreating in the outdoors has been encouraged during the pandemic—albeit with appropriate distancing—so perhaps one of these stories, essays, poems, or images might inspire you to explore nature in whatever ways you’re able given the current situation. Personally, I’ve enjoyed recreating in the outdoors for as long as I can remember. I’m one of those “outdoorsy” types who enjoys hiking, fishing, or simply taking photographs in nature. Whatever your connection to the outdoors, we hope you find inspiration, joy, or even comfort as you move through this issue. “The Great Outdoors” is our seventh issue; we’ve been publishing just over two years, and we feel honored that so many people want to have their work featured in our magazine. This issue includes an abundance of images and poems, as well as some intriguing stories and essays that have to do with the outdoors. We also have our usual ESL feature, and this time, editor Cari Divine has written a reflective nonfiction piece about a childhood visit to her family’s cabin in the woods. We want to thank all of our contributors for choosing Montana Mouthful as a place to feature their work! We’ve also set aside a page that includes information about future advertising space in the magazine. If you’d like to include an ad in our next issue, please read that page for more information. We wish everyone the best of health and happiness during this stressful time, and we thank you for being devoted readers of Montana Mouthful magazine. With warmest thanks, Jasmine Swaney Lamb, Co-Editor

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The Great Outdoors VOLUME THREE • ISSUE TWO Montana Mouthful is an independent nonprofit literary magazine devoted to short fiction and nonfiction, poetry, and visual artwork. Each issue is themed. We aim to publish three times per year. Although we seek short pieces—just a mouthful— avoid sending anecdotes. Surprise us with your words. Strive to submit stories that build toward something more than a punchline or trick ending. Montana Mouthful is open to most subjects and styles; however, we are not interested in gratuitous sex or violence. EDITORS Jasmine Swaney Lamb Cari Divine WE PUBLISH Fiction Flash Fiction: 1,000 words or less (up to 2 pieces); Short Story: 2,000 words or less (up to 2 pieces); Non-Fiction Essay: 2,000 words or less (up to 2 pieces); Narrative Nonfiction: 2,000 words or less (up to 2 pieces). Poetry 1,000 words or less (up to 3 pieces) Artwork/Photography Up to 10 images SUBMISSIONS Please send us your work via Submittable at https://montanamouthful.submittable.com/submit Emailed submissions will not be accepted. VIEWING ISSUU: https://issuu.com/montanamouthful/ MAGCLOUD: magcloud.com CONTACT Email: admin@montanamouthful.com Web: montanamouthful.com Facebook: facebook.com/montana-mouthful Instagram: instagram.com/mouthfulmontana/ Twitter: twitter.com/MontanaMouthful DESIGN Layout and graphic design by Luke Duran, Element L Design

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Introduction .......................................................................II August 1852........................................................................3 Imprints ..............................................................................7 Floating Through The Parks................................................9 An Island in the Center of Another World ......................12 High Lake.........................................................................13 Voice of Solitude...............................................................16 The Stealing Woods ..........................................................19 The Country Way Home ..................................................25 Sea Monster ......................................................................27 The Arroyo ........................................................................28 Landscape Architecture ....................................................31 The Leaving ......................................................................32 North Carolina..................................................................35 Under The Creek...............................................................39 Emerald Sea......................................................................40 When Elephants Harvested Teak .....................................43 The First One....................................................................47 Little Ann Lake ................................................................48 Dragon in the Forest.........................................................51 Message from the Northern Hemisphere .........................52 This Season is But One in a Series of Many .....................54 Night’s Beginning .............................................................55 Titan .................................................................................57 The Part Where We Kiss ..................................................63 White Birds of Extinction ................................................67 Running Wild...................................................................69 The Naming of Brush Fires...............................................69 Grave Memories ...............................................................70 The Wildlife in My Yard...................................................75 Editor’s Note.....................................................................78 Biography..........................................................................79 Cover art:

Wild Atlantic Way…

| KELSEY LAYNE

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2 | Montana Mouthful

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Black Skimmers Skimming the Waves | JIM ROSS


FICTION

August 1852 by Devon Balwit Written aboard the Jordeson somewhere in the Atlantic en route from Cuba to England

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y dearest brother John, I must confess, I write this missive to you at a nadir. I should be grateful to Providence, having been saved from the worst fate a man could suffer, a conflagration and a watery grave. Yet rather, I am embittered, for even as Fate spared me, it dealt me a blow particularly cruel to one such as myself. But I rush before my tale— let me reverse and make the events plain: You have, I hope, should all my letters have arrived, been following my progress through Amazonia. You know that for these past four years, I have stumbled upon wonder after wonder, a richness of flora and fauna everywhere I set my gaze. This region is a trove of tortoises, fishes, beetles, butterflies, birds, simians and other mammals never before seen in Britain or anywhere else in montanamouthful.com

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Europe. A man could make his name could he observe the habits of and classify even a fraction. With that aim in mind these past years, I’ve been sending my precious specimens down the Amazon and the Rio Negro to the town of Pará. I had assumed that from there, as per my instruction, they were making their way aboard outgoing brigs and enjoying safe passage back to London, where my agent, Stevens should have helped them enter the cabinets of eager collectors. Imagine my dismay, when passing through the upstream port of Barra, I found two years’ worth of my hard-won treasures languishing dockside in crates. The local officials got it into their heads that mine were

“You know that for these past four years, I have stumbled upon wonder after wonder, a richness of flora and fauna everywhere I set my gaze. This region is a trove of tortoises, fishes, beetles, butterflies, birds, simians and other mammals never before seen in Britain or anywhere else in Europe.” filled with the booty of a morally-depraved smuggler rather than that of an impoverished, species-addled naturalist, and they were retaining my chests until they could be opened and their contents vouched for. Upon my arrival, I was able to allay their fears, and the precious fruits of my labors were finally hauled aboard the “Helen” for homeward passage to England. 4 | Montana Mouthful

Alas! Fate again conspired as a careless mariner’s lamp set the hold ablaze just 26 days into our voyage. The cargo and the ship herself went up in flames. The crew and I barely made it into the lifeboats with our own skins, let alone sufficient foodstuffs or personal goods. As we rowed frantically to clear the flaming wreck, we suffered a hellish orchestra of creaking timbers and doomed animals, my monkeys screeching from the bowsprit, my macaws and parrots shrieking as they took to air. One parrot, like the ancient mariner’s albatross, made straight for me—“as if it had been a Christian soul, through the fog it came.” I snatched it from the smoke and tied it fast. It is with me still, the only living relic of my menagerie. God only knows what happened to my fine collection of tortoises. I rushed to open as many cages as I could, but was not able reach them all before I was forced into the boats. It is my selfish hope that at least some of the birds and tortoises escaped with their lives and once again found land. Then, we were ten days broiling on the open ocean, bailing the salt sea from our leaky crafts, and surviving on ever smaller portions of brackish water, salt pork, and sodden tack. I shudder to think what would have transpired had we not been spotted by the good sailors of the Jordeson, en route from Cuba to London. The captain has acted honorably towards us, even though it has meant short rations for his own men until we make landfall. There you have the justification for my despair—your hapless brother clutching just the barest remnant of the once-fine collection that was to be his calling card and his fortune. The only things I saved were my watch, my Vol. 3 • Issue 2


drawings of fishes, and a portion of my notes and journals. Most of my writings, notes on the habits of animals, and drawings of the transformation of insects, were lost. My days as a supernumerary on the Jordeson are dull, but the nights are worse. I suffer from what I can only call a type of brain fever. Some nights my thoughts whirl obsessively about all that burned—the skins I so painstakingly separated from the bones of the creatures that sported them, labeled by region, sex, and type—all that care for naught; the delicate butterflies pinned and boxed, their iridescent scales now obliterated; my drawings so carefully rendered, proof of hours spent in my tent, pouring over specimens with calipers and glass—all lost. Other nights, it’s a single image that haunts me like a specter—a barren field beneath a dark sky. A cluster of Xanthorrhoa huddles defensively at a distance while a blood red Heliconia protects them with its bladelike, bloody bracts. They condemn me, John, I am certain, for my hubris—my thinking that I could take these denizens back to my own world, dislocating and exiling them from their own. On these nights, I stand in the dock as they make their case: “You, collector” they intone, “are as arrogant and heartless as a slaver, ripping specimens from their natal ground, ignoring the names given them in their lands’ mother-tongue, separating families, fearing not to commit murder and hideous disfigurement in your wish to make your mark. You stand condemned!” I wake in a cold sweat.

my worship. But like any other fanatic, I fear I’ve not hesitated to warp this Scripture to suit my purposes. I don’t know what lesson my great loss should teach me—if I should return to work once again as a surveyor, a mapmaker, a teacher, and let the living creatures be, or if this is just a glancing blow, one to puncture the bladder of my self-conceit. I at least will have the £200 for which Stevens insured my collection to live on until I have figured out which, if either of these lessons, it is. I have an idea, John, many actually, that I am in the process of teasing out. Once I return to England, I shall have time to organize and array my thoughts. Yes, speciation, of course, the way beetles differ ever so slightly on the opposing sides of barriers like the Amazon River. I have made contact with the renowned naturalist Mr. Darwin, and he does me the small kindness of saying we hold some thoughts in common. I would not go so far as to say that he “supports” my claims on speciation, but at least he does not mock them, which is perhaps all I can expect from one so educated as he. I wish to persuade him, John, after clarifying what I have observed. These arguments I hope to produce from memory and from the remnants of my notes, even with the loss of all my beloved skins, wings, and carapaces. There you have me—at sea both in body and mind. With the utmost affection, Your loving brother, Alfred.

I love living things and always have, John. You know this. They have been my credo and montanamouthful.com

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| SCHYLER SANKS

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POETRY

Imprints by Austin Newton If you pet a fawn when its mother is not around, its mother will not come back for it because you’ve interrupted the imprinting process. Michael told me that when I got out of my car to pet a fawn crouching in a ditch up in the mountains. Earlier, at my behest, we pawned Michael’s family’s gaming console, and when his mother called to scorn him and found out I was involved, she called me a Nigger. So here we are, the children of divorce and adoption, up in the mountains, releasing our sadness in crisp tendrils of pot smoke and petting a fawn whose mother will now surely abandon it montanamouthful.com

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| HUGH FINDLAY

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NONFICTION

Floating Through The Parks by Adam M. Sowards

L

ike most of us, a lot of the time, I hurried amid beauty. After two weeks on the road, I had completed my research in university archives and the field, so I pointed my nose home. A lot of miles stretched between the Wasatch Plateau, where I was, and the Palouse Hills, where I was going. I intended to move through them quickly, but Great Basin National Park irresistibly beckoned not too far off the most direct route. My day demanded crossing 500 road miles, but surely seeing another national park would be worth an extra few. The parking lot at the end of Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, at the top of the park, only holds about thirty or forty cars. That’s plenty for 10,000 feet. To get there, you wind your way up four thousand feet through 16 miles of switchbacks. You swoop around corners and the views present stunning scales: here of the 13,065-foot Wheeler Peak, there of flat Nevada stretching forty miles or more toward the next mountain range in Utah, a mile below Wheeler. Two days earlier, I explored Capitol Reef montanamouthful.com

National Park in southern Utah, a landscape of green-and-brown knotty trees, red-and-tan striped rocks, and white-clouded blue skies. Around every next corner and every shift of the earth, I found a new view, an altered scene. By comparison, Great Basin National Park felt simpler, blander, mostly grays and greens. Still grand, definitely monumental, but one of the National Park Service’s crown jewels it was not. I still found lessons there. I pulled into the end-of-the-road parking lot and noticed four young people, collegeaged couples it seemed. They were blowing up air mattresses and inner tubes. They were laughing, and I wondered if this was a stunt, like a drinking game. “Let’s see what it is like to blow up a plastic toy at 10,000 feet and see how quickly we pass out.” I rolled my eyes and gave them no more thought. After parking, I bounded off onto the trail. I didn’t have much time. I had driven more than 250 miles already and had the same to travel before arriving at my evening campsite. Yet, after making this detour and creeping up the mountainside, I was determined to place my feet on some dirt, to smell Montana Mouthful | 9


pine-tinged air, to experience this place at a pedestrian’s pace if only for a few moments. I set my phone’s clock to monitor the ticking time. Ten minutes in, ten minutes out, I promised myself, was better than nothing. But the place summoned me, the trail like a curling finger telling me, “Come here.” I tarried at fallen logs, appreciating the aesthetics of passing time in the insect damage at close range and the twisted grains of the old wood. I added two more minutes to the timer and walked on. The mountain air, not for the first time, stimulated my brain, and I thought of an idea that might help me through a troublesome

the water level low, the near shore where I stood was strewn with tiny debris—pinecones, twigs, pebbles. It felt soft, like a sponge, to step on. Above the far shore, a bare ridge curved to the southeast toward the Wheeler Peak summit. Remnant August snow clung to the rocks, leaving the outline of an “M”—perhaps for “museum,” which is how the parks are treated, or “musing,” which is what we do in them. With the ridge rising beyond and the lake pooling below, I thought myself standing in a classic scene, part of a park diorama. I felt the requisite awe and humility while breathing in America’s best idea.™ But I also I felt the pull of the pavement— another four and a half hours on Teresa Lake, at 10,230 feet, is a circular tarn, small lonely roads. Besides, a couple about and green, convenient yet secluded. The forest that my age sat on a log sharing a snack, so surrounds it does not rise much higher, the timber- I left them with their privacy and line clearly in view. With the water level low, the near turned. I moved downhill at a clip, trying to make up time. shore where I stood was strewn with tiny debris— Partway back, the four jubilant pinecones, twigs, pebbles. It felt soft, like a sponge, to floaters from the parking lot, buoyed step on. Above the far shore, a bare ridge curved to by their own , met me on the trail. the southeast toward the Wheeler Peak summit. Each one carried some sort of blowup plastic flotation toy under their writing project. I stopped to jot the details in arm or slung over their shoulder. Bright yelmy notebook, having long ago learned that low plastic with red spots stood out uncommemory is fickle. fortably, impiously, among the twisted trees I was about to add, guiltily, more minutes bearing witness. I pitied the snacking couple to my timer when a sign appeared, pointing whose peace was about to be punctured by toward a lake just 0.1 miles away. This is the young people bent on floating in an alpine sort of goal I needed, schedule or no. I scramlake in a national park. I shook my head in bled over the short spur trail scattered with derision at their silly sacrilege, at their plastic rocks, careful not to twist my ankle, hoping for path to the heart of the park. inspiration. Isn’t that why we visit the parks? National parks have long been sacred for Teresa Lake, at 10,230 feet, is a circular Americans, places of pilgrimage, sites of tarn, small and green, convenient yet secluded. spiritual sustenance. Millions of visitors trek The forest that surrounds it does not rise much to these natural cathedrals annually. Most of higher, the timberline clearly in view. With them only see the ribbon of road, not the 10 | Montana Mouthful

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remote wilderness contained deep within the boundaries. The parks cater to the tourists who want to experience these places in relative comfort, of course. That’s why there are sometimes hotels. That’s why they (sometimes) have water in their bathrooms. That’s why there are pull-offs for photos, the same as you’ve seen framed on calendars. True, I found Great Basin National Park to be less majestic than other parks. But floating in Teresa Lake on plastic—a toxic permanency burying the planet—crossed a line. I snuck a photo of the procession and scurried off, sighing, shaking my head. Not long after the encounter I wrote up this scene unreflectively, still confident in my condescension and bemused by their obliviousness. Only later did I consider my own profane behavior may have been as

egregious as theirs. I drove instead of walked. I rushed instead of relished my moments there. I stopped at the gift shop where I dutifully bought souvenirs to satisfy the consumer’s duty, instead of leaving only footprints and taking only pictures. By contrast, they planned to linger, floating on the lake as white clouds drifted overhead mirroring their leisure. As the twenty-first century presses forward at a relentless pace, parks provide a place for pause. As Terry Tempest Williams has put it, the national parks are “breathing spaces for a society that increasingly holds its breath.” Too many of us forget this, as I did, and huff through the parks, trying to visit just one more, going to one last overlook, bagging one more peak. Next time, taking my inspiration from the irreverent, perhaps I’ll float through the parks.

Waterfall | SCHYLER SANKS

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POETRY

An Island in the Center of Another World by Ben Groner III Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia The black rocks beneath my boots and poles of cacti to get here: three days crammed into a Jeep with next to me ember while the entrancing expanse of six strangers, the surreal sea-colored mountains pointing the way, the blinding sand and sky bright white scales reaches to the pink ribbon of mountains off to the side in the distance, and to the shimmering and shifting around us. In the rest of the hard horizon, above which the sky yellows upward by degrees into a loosening gold, then

unvoiced awkwardness of people rubbing shoulders when they can’t even remember each other’s

nations or names, we spent hours gazing out a pearly silver, then the most delicate of blues. Standing atop Isla Incahuasi, our guide is explaining at the gleaming vastness, anticipating, knowing the salt flats we see spilling out in all directions go on for 10,000 square kilometers, and this island

the hour would come when we’d be here. Like a polished brown lucuma seed, the pulsing muscly

is all that remains of an ancient volcano that was submerged up to 40,000 years ago. As if numbers,

twist of a heart, a doused planet, the crumble of a long-dead volcanic cone—all improbable, yet

all existing, just so, in the center of something. beyond a certain point, signify anything. As if this view is more astounding than the journey it took

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POETRY

High Lake by Alex Leavens Fish Creek Mt., Oregon I look for the wind, find its brush strokes on the surface of the lake, follow it to the terrace of grey, inlaid boulder to the cliffs— not grand, but sheer and guarded.

I turn look to where Mt. Hood spreads its mantle across a greater wilderness equal to the horizon equal to the morning sun.

I could stand back, cup the entire body of water in two big handfuls, like this little mountain holds it on this narrow shelf. It slips through our fingers, down steep channels into trees.

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| SYDNEY HARRIS

Becoming One

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Nature 1 | JULIANA HALITI

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POETRY

Voice of Solitude by Kali Lightfoot

On a winter visit to Walden Pond, I learned that a rock thrown onto the frozen surface made a booming sound like a kettle drum.

Years later, a wilderness ranger, I made room for his weighty voice in my backpack among coffee and camp stove, macaroni and gorp. Five days alone I imagined Henry David Thoreau, among 38,000 acres of trees, lava rock, and a man fond of solitude and of dramatic phrases, snowfields; shouting as he pitched an occasional rock in dawning awareness that Thoreau, spokesman from his beach onto the icy pond: for solitude, walked into Concord every night— To be awake is to be alive. a mile in well-travelled darkness—to dine at Emerson’s table, trade lofty thoughts BOOM on life in the woods—and once a week dropped his laundry off at his mom’s. If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. BOOM The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. BOOM

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Supine | JEROME BERGLUND

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| HUGH FINDLAY

Moon Pines

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FICTION

The Stealing Woods by Thomas Howarth

H

arrison Hemingway chose his own name. It was the name on his website. The name on his birth certificate was Peter Greene. A significant amount of time was spent clarifying the matter. ‘So this hobby of yours, Mr Greene.’ ‘I’ve explained what I do,’ Harrison said. He put on his professional voice. His takeme-seriously voice.’I search for animals.’ ‘The word you used was “cryptid”,’ said the police officer, consulting his papers.’Me and lads hadn’t heard that one before. Would you mind defining it for us?’ Harrison rolled his eyes.’I suppose the dictionary would tell you that a cryptid is any species whose existence is “dubious”.’ ‘So, your Bigfoots and…’ The officer thought about it, wryly.’… unicorns.’ ‘Unicorns!’ Harrison clapped his hand on the table.’Look, we’re not here to talk about Bigfoot and unicorns.’ ‘No,’ said the officer.’But we’ve still got plenty of questions for you.’ montanamouthful.com

The day had begun just like any other expedition weekend. 5:30am. Harrison made coffee, took his laptop out into the garden, and, as the watery Sun emerged over the fields, typed out the day’s blogpost:’The Brecon Beasties’. ‘Today,’ he wrote,’I’ll be hiking through the beautiful Welsh woodland of Brecon Beacons National Park. As regular readers will know, recent reports out of Brecon point to cryptid activity most commonly associated with American national parks. Something strange and spooky on my doorstep! I say doorstep— it is a three-hour drive. Must go and get ready. I’ll be back with my findings this evening.’ And he signed off in the usual way,’H.H.’. The morning continued as expedition mornings always continued. He put on his hiking clothes (and packed spares), gathered his tools (a map, a compass, and other accoutrements that looked appropriate), and lugged a huge rucksack out to his car. He checked his waterproof watch. 6:30am. Time to go. He Montana Mouthful | 19


made his coffee, packed his sandwiches, and got into the car. All according to his routine. Not a thing out of the ordinary. Except that, today, his daughter was with him. The text had come late the night before. He’d got his weekends confused. He dashed off to pick her up. ‘I’m sorry,’ he’d said in the doorway, as Lily rushed to hug his legs.’I thought I had her next weekend.’ ‘Why? You didn’t have her last weekend.’ ‘I know, I lost track. I’m off work at the moment, and - ‘ ‘You’ve not got any of your weird hiking planned, have you?’ ‘No, of course not.’ He put Lily into the car, beeped a desperate, friendly goodbye, and asked his daughter if she’d like to go hiking with him in the morning. And so, come 6:45am, Lily sat beside him, toying with the compass. ‘Put that down,’ he said.’You’ll decalibrate it.’ She dangled her feet in the footwell and gazed out of the window. Fields, sheep, low stone walls. It was a lovely morning. ‘Where are we going?’ she asked. She was stabbing her finger at the window every time she saw a sheep. ‘We’re going to a magical forest in Wales,’ said Harrison. He was mentally counting his ration of wet-wipes—the passenger window was growing grubby with Lily’s fingerprints. ‘Is it like the magical lake?’ said Lily. She hugged herself, drawing her coat tight, and made a show of chattering teeth. ‘Oh, no,’ said Harrison,’it won’t be as cold as Loch Ness. It’s not as far away, either.’ ‘No sea monsters?’ She drew one on the window. ‘Not this time, no.’ 20 | Montana Mouthful

‘We didn’t see one anyway.’ She rubbed out the monster. Harrison smiled and squinted, a kindly condescending expression.’I don’t know if I agree with that. We saw something, on our way back to shore.’ ‘Didn’t see anything.’ ‘I didn’t know you were the expert.’ He ruffled her hair. ‘Mummy says there’s no such thing as monsters.’ ‘Well, a monster would say that, wouldn’t it?’ They drove on for hours. Sometimes they chatted, sometimes Lily slept, sometimes Harrison surfed the ham radio frequencies. At one point he relented, and permitted Lily a motorway services stop.’Road Chef Strensham,’ he said, consulting his map. Lily presumed it was the name of a monster.’Ninety minutes to go.’ They pulled up, at last, on the edge of Taf Fechan Forest. ‘What does it mean?’ Lily asked, pointing to a sign bearing the forest’s name. ‘Feched if I know,’ Harrison said.’Come on. This is where we’re hiking.’ ‘Is this where the monster lives?’ ‘Allegedly. Strange sounds. Mysterious deaths.’ Harrison looked at his daughter’s frightened face.’Deaths of sheep,’ he reassured her. That wasn’t an improvement. Lily clung to her father’s hand as they entered the woods, sticking close to his leg like one of the utilities hanging from his modified tool belt. A militarygrade torch knocked against her head. The forest appeared to Lily as something from one of the fairy tales her stepfather read for her. As they walked, the trees seemed to close gnarled fingers over them. She looked back over her shoulder; the happy daylight receded Vol. 3 • Issue 2


like a dream. Harrison stopped occasionally to jot observations into his notepad. He maintained a cache of twenty biros and three notepads. As he wrote, Lily gradually developed the courage—or boredom—to wander from the narrow safe zone around her father. ‘Lily,’ he said eventually, noticing that she had begun to descend a valley towards a shallow creek.’Come back up here, it’s not safe.’ ‘Because of the monster?’ she said, hurrying back. ‘I’m not sure yet,’ Harrison said. He pocketed his notepad and clipped the pen to a string on his shirt.’There’s evidence, yes, but it’s not proof. What was it Sir Sherlock

Holmes said? “Once you have eliminated the evidence, whatever remains, however impossible, must be the proof.” Something like that, I think. I have it on the website.’ Lily wasn’t listening. Hours passed. Hungry. They paused for the packed lunch (Lily:’picnic’. Harrison:’designated food stop’). Rare gaps in the leaves evidenced a waning afternoon. ‘We should think about heading back,’ Harrison said reluctantly, balancing on a rock to photograph some bent twigs. Lily nodded sleepily. But as he locked the camera in its protective case, and sealed the litter of their food stop into a medical waste bag, he heard something. A deep thud. He froze, and indicated with twitching fingers that Lily do the

Reaching Out – Bozeman | BRETT RAMSEYER

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same. The thud came again. It was more felt than heard. ‘Where’s that coming from?’ Harrison whispered. Lily said nothing. She, too, was entranced by the distant sound. It came again. ‘Oh, it’s definitely coming from over there.’ He pointed deeper into the forest. ‘I can’t believe it. This could be a… a Welsh Wendigo.’ He jotted it down as a potential blogpost title. The thud rumbled a fourth time. It seemed to be fading. Harrison thought quickly. He glanced around, and settled his frantic stare on a tall tree standing on its own in the centre of the path. There were branches running all the way up, like a ladder. Thin branches, not

But as he locked the camera in its protective case, and sealed the litter of their food stop into a medical waste bag, he heard something. A deep thud. He froze, and indicated with twitching fingers that Lily do the same. sturdy enough for – ‘Lily,’ he said in a hushed voice, bending down to address her closely. ‘Do you want to do a very special job for daddy?’ ‘What job?’ she said, nervously twiddling the strings of her tiny pink hoodie. Harrison hazarded a guess. ‘Well, you love climbing frames, don’t you?’ Success; she nodded. ‘Right, well, this is just like that, except the forest has built the climbing frame. Just for you! I need you to climb that tree, and I

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want you look in that direction and tell me if you see anything. Anything moving around.’ The thud again, quieter. He pushed her towards the tree.’Good girl,’ he said, lifting her onto the first branch. Obediently she reached up for the second branch, and then the third, and soon she was climbing out of sight. ‘Good girl,’ he repeated in a silenced shout. ‘Just call if you see anything.’ He stood at the base of the trunk, staring at the spot she had disappeared into. The leaves were black, and the mosaic of sky beyond was orange. He tapped his fingers on the tree. He checked his watch. The last thud had sounded several minutes ago. ‘Lily?’ He cleared his throat, and called again, louder. ‘Lily?’ He lifted a tentative foot up onto the first branch. It snapped immediately. ‘Lily? The monster’s not important, you can come down now.’ The search and rescue team confirmed that there was no sign of any child in the tree, nor in the surrounding trees. The search widened. Eventually, as a sniffer dog plodded along the path for the sixth time, a gust of wind shook the leaves above, and a little shoe came tumbling down onto its nose. ‘And that was all we found,’ said the officer now, waving the shoe in its transparent evidence bag. ‘A single, solitary shoe. I suppose you thought you’d hidden it.’ ‘Enough!’ shouted Harrison. He swiped the bag from the officer’s hand and cradled it. He looked up at the uniformed men, tears in his fearful eyes. ‘Do you know what they say about those forests? Do you know what they call them? The Stealing Woods.’ ‘Yes,’ said the officer, snatching back the shoe and gesturing towards a stack of print-

Vol. 3 • Issue 2


Spring Kiss | KATHLEEN PHALEN TOMASELLI

outs. ‘We’ve been through your website. And your computer. You’ve been reading a lot about mysterious disappearances lately, haven’t you? You had the Wikipedia article bookmarked three times.’ ‘It’s a point of my research,’ said Harrison pleadingly. ‘It’s why I was curious about the woods, the Stealing Woods. There have been disappearances there.’ ‘Yes, of farm animals. The odd lamb. A pet rabbit. Not of little girls.’ ‘But I heard something, just before she vanished. We both did. It was the thing I was looking for. I’m sure…’ He stared past the officers, desperately trying to remember, to confabulate. ‘I’m sure I saw it. Between the trees. It came for Lily.’

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One of the officers whispered to the other. ‘This looks like a case for “assessment”.’ ‘He twirled an insane finger at his temple. Harrison wept over his paper blogposts. He was removed back to his cell. Over the following months, experts were consulted in their dozens. Psychologists made wordy guesses. Forensics teams examined bent twigs. A divorce solicitor asked to remain anonymous. It all went into the paperwork, the stapled and paperclipped condemnations of one Peter Greene, a negligent madman, a murderous father. A jury saw the evidence for themselves, weighed up the testimonies, went back and forth for hours over the minutiae of Peter Greene’s upper body strength. The shoe was passed around

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lunchbreak had emailed a local farmer. It was a week before the old man replied. It might have gone straight to ‘spam’, or perhaps was deleted, unimportant, a brief waste of time. The old man wrote that, no, he hadn’t seen or heard anything strange on the day in question. He added that the weather had been fine. He complained that one of his newborn calves had vanished the preceding night. And finally, as an afterthought, in his closing lines, he noted that the golden eagles, not long reintroduced to the area, seemed unsettled by the recent logging and rock blasting, and were bigger than ever this spring.

Big As The Water

| AUSTIN FARBER

like a talisman, almost shaken upside-down for the truth to fall out. The existence of the thudding was disputed by a psychiatrist, who read an essay about hallucination, and explained by the Forestry Commission, who prepared a slideshow about logging. A man from a quarry countered the latter theory with a sleepy explanation of rock blasting. The search and rescue team took to the witness stand. The dog handlers, the arresting officers, the police station receptionist. All spoke and were keenly listened to. Only the opinion of one expert was omitted from proceedings. In the chaotic, opening days of the case, a legal clerk on his

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POETRY

The Country Way Home by Sean O’Neill Conjure me up a minivan smelling of 6 o’clock Old Spice shadow four progeny clang inside, smelling in turn of frogs newts and a day outdoors: hungry, vying for our father’s ear, only partly to practice getting mom’s. Neck craned, signature grimace dad reverses babysitter’s driveway, soaking up childish energy contagion, offering “who wants to go the country way home? No one volunteers support, instead a collective sigh, declaration of hunger, inquiry about pizza – but his mind made he turns left not right. Grinning in spite of ourselves, we crank down nonelectric windows, ewww at the manure while filling our lungs with it, sweet grass and fading sunlight an extra 7 minutes stamping day well spent.

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We pass a cow and dad offers a convincing moo, causing us to giggle and whoever is closest up front to get tickled and laugh some more. Now nothing evokes little kiddom so much as the in-betweens, the gap-fillers between amphibian chasing and two cheese & pep pizza pies paired with skim milk; interludes then, now stretching out as long as those summer days – off the agenda, sometimes unremarkable sometimes too weighty to lean a poem against.

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| KELSEY LAYNE

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NONFICTION

Sea Monster by Fiona M. Jones

T

his is a beach for beachcombers—an untidy stretch of coast where muddy stream meets grey-silting waters and shellfish outnumber sand. Here in the inner Firth between Charlestown and the military base, the weakening sea-waves dissipate their last remaining force over the wide, shallow bay of mussels and mud, and relinquish, exhausted, everything that floats to the shore. Here, by the ton, lies driftwood, from smooth-eroded sticks to great logs and twisted tree-chunks. Here are old tyres, plastic crates and miscellaneous pieces of tubing and cordage, rubbish from passing ships. And, piled under, over and against them, long heaping masses of black washed-up seaweed mark the latest series of high tides like thick unstartling headlines in old newspapers. In among a thousand mythical monstrosities of driftwood and debris—hunching heads, clawing bears and great menacing

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reptiles—I found one day a monster. A seamonster. A lifeless but still ferocious skeleton, flat-headed, barbel-whiskered and cartilaginous, heavy to lift and still more heavily tainted with the lingering smell of decomposition. Before the tide returned I brought my children and we took the monster captive. We photographed it, shared it on social media, imagined and narrated its story of lurking among the sunken shipwrecks of Davy Jones’s locker, laying claim to human artefacts or maybe human bones. We dragged our trophy clear of the shingle and stowed it in thorny undergrowth beyond the reach of the sea. When it has remained a year or so, picked clean and rain-washed, dried and bleached, we can return to claim the sea monster, google it, call it ours—as though by putting a name to it we could solve the riddle of its untamed hidden life.

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POETRY

The Arroyo by James Redfern the moss grows longer off the trees the lower you go into the riparian abyss the locals simply call the arroyo. the canopy grows thicker and the world above gradually fades away the farther down into the arroyo you go.

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glimpses of the blue sky cut shapes and slivers through the thick, meaty leaves and ripening fruit hanging from the limbs high above, and the deeper you go these shapes and slivers grow smaller and smaller, becoming patchy remnants of light, and before too long, the eternal blue horizon is reduced to a spark or two drifting down from so very high above, and, the next moment, the world’s gone completely. Vol. 3 • Issue 2


Carnal | LUKE DURAN

down here, the shade reveals a different set of hues, and although the air is denser and the humidity markedly higher, you can feel a coolness rising from the water table soaking up through the earth, and by now, you can hear the rippling trickles of tributaries widening into streams and creeks, giving seed to imaginations as they conspire forces joining the Great River down at the bottom

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of the canyon where we will need to find the dock and make our passage across to the other side. down here the moss is long, down here the shadows bring comfort, down here the insects are thicker, meatier, and more aggressive, down here the sounds of flowing water grow louder and louder as we continue our descent down toward the water’s edge.

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Vol. 3 • Issue 2

Cathedral Windows Landscape | JOHN TIMOTHY ROBINSON


POETRY

Landscape Architecture by D.E. Kern I snipped the sun-dried tendril—the curled crisp of last month’s shoot—and tossed it in the 50-gallon can where it settled with a rustle on a parched pile of promises: buds, leaves and branches gone brittle

coax out their blood-red blooms. This year they came alive two weeks after I’d given up on them entirely, greeted me with a blaze of color one morning the same week that my mother died. I never called the Church

as an elder’s pious bones. I put the house between myself and the dawn and worked like a man short on time, clicking scissors the tinny part of my duet with a mourning dove. A patch of desert grass posed

to report this. She was far from a saint but better than most, and I’m simply thankful she gave me something attainable to grow into with time. I finished a morning’s work and turned my attention to the burning needs

a daunting challenge as I thinned fistfuls of stubble choking the green blades. The work coaxed the sweat from my skin, and between the burning and squinting, there was nothing left to trust but my mind’s eye—

of other people’s children. Sure, it was cooler, with no particular reason to rub my eyes. But I missed the breeze sweeping its way from the river up through the canyon and the steady downbeat from my partner in song.

I think all this separation, the cutting and bagging and mulching and burning—even the thankless trips to yard waste day at the dump—will yield beauty come spring. Coffee grounds will wake these roses,

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FICTION

The Leaving by Anne Wilding

B

y the seventy-second day we know, somehow for sure, that the lockdown will not end. Maybe there’s a virus, maybe not, but they have no intention of letting us back to our former lives. This understanding has come not from independent news channels (are there any?) or from rumours on social media, although there are plenty, but from days gazing out the window, pacing the confines of the house, feeding one another little pieces of idea, nurturing them, feeding them back. We are standing in the kitchen at dusk when we know for sure. We lock eyes for a moment, and we’re like in the shower that time - not sure which of us is you, and which me. Then, we have decided. And so day seventy-three becomes day one. We sneak out before dawn with nuts and fruit and cheese and sleeping bags. We don’t own a tent, and there is nowhere to buy one. We head up-river, towards the mountains. If there are others they will be there too—it’s 32 | Montana Mouthful

the only direction to go. We walk until sunset and estimate that we have put thirty or forty miles between ourselves and the old life, but surely much less as the crow flies. We don’t exactly know where we are. Nature proves to be less natural than we thought. Most land belongs to someone and is kept bare for grazing or crops, leaving us dangerously visible. The still-wild places grow densely with thorny shrubs and vines that trip, while the trees block our view of the sky and surroundings, denying us orientation. In the end, we stick mostly to the roads. Whenever approaching a village we argue about whether to skirt it to the left or the right - that way too exposed, the other too rugged. Should we be injured we have nothing but bandages and household disinfectant. We packed the wrong things. Wellies would have been useful, but our jumpers are wet and heavy after a sudden downpour on the second day. We resist our hunger as best we can, but on the third day we finish the last Vol. 3 • Issue 2


In These Woods | KATE FEINHAUER

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of our food. We eat grass to ease the pangs, like people did in China sixty years ago. On the fourth day the sun beats down with unseasonal aggression and we have to fashion hats out of our shirts to protect our faces. We can’t catch fish. It’s too cold in the river - our fingers numb and are unable to grip the slippery bodies. Every minute spent in the water is costing us vital body heat. We slosh over to the bank and haul ourselves up through the slippery grasses, defeated. We reach for one another and hold tight. The world is not our larder any more. Millenia of agriculture have stripped it of its diversity so that even if we had the skills to forage, there would be nothing to find. On the sixth day, by remarkable chance, we catch a rabbit. It is sniffing at our hair when we wake and one of us reaches slowly, slowly up, grabs its neck and pins it to the floor. The other finds a jagged rock and slams it down into the rabbit’s skull. The rabbit kicks and flurries. We have to force the rock down harder, grinding, until the kicking stops. It takes a full minute, and all the while the rabbit is warm and soft against our hands. We are still sobbing as we chisel into the precious flesh, as we eat it, wipe the blood from our cheeks with grass, bury the skin and bones. On the seventh day we are so tired and the weather is so bad that it is no use. We will make better use of the day resting than fighting against the wind and rain. We find an empty farmhouse and risk breaking a window. Nobody has been here for years, it seems, but there’s a dusty packet of rice and some crackers. In the dimness, we sit on stools at the table and it feels like a return to urban living. We imagine the place we are going and the people we will find, because we cannot be the 34 | Montana Mouthful

only ones, and realise we have no clear ideas, no visualisation of how it will be, no plan. We tell stories and riddles to lift our spirits after checking our blisters and seeing how skinny we have already become. We wonder if we will solve this riddle. After the farmhouse, carrying its rice and crackers with us, we feel less confined by the natural world. There will surely be other places we can loot, some with better bounty. Perhaps we can live if it is not only from the earth but also from those discarded parts of the man made world. The thing is to keep moving, always seeking. Settling was possible in the old life, because everything was set up that way, but not any more. We find some figs, barely ripe, small and dry, but edible. They give us the shits and make us dizzy, but it’s food. The land is more mountainous now, less cultivated, further away and we feel safer and more vulnerable than we have so far. We no longer number the days. Maybe it’s the figs but we are starting to hallucinate—smoke, music, the sound of voices. We take it in turns to pull each other back on track, to reality. Then one day we both hear something together, the laughter of children, and we both see movement in the distance through the trees—bright, artificial colours, like clothes. We hold hands and push forward through the bracken. We hear adult voices too and see a tent, a cluster of tents, people. Closest to us, a woman is skinning a rabbit. She sees us and her eyes widen. We stop and hold up our hands. The woman nods slowly, turns and calls to the group. “Everyone, come! There are two more of us now.” Vol. 3 • Issue 2


POETRY

North Carolina by Lauren Alagna There’s a scraggly patch of tomatoes In the community garden. A Boy Scout planted It for his medal, but now the elderly couples around town Relive their Tuscan roots there and drink in the sun’s pale rays, The over-ripened balls of juice and seed translucent in seasonal Glory. Liver-spotted hands can often be seen caressing The few triumphs of the vines— poking, squeezing, Testing their pick. If I sit long enough amid the leaves And fragrant mulch, a lone man will sit next to me, Crumple his hat between trembling hands and smile sadly. If I ask why he comes, gems will fall off his tongue, Tales of sun-drenched summers and his grandmothers Giant sauce pot, rosaries hanging from the same shelf it sat on. Loud, boisterous voices packed into the kitchen and wine That flows like laughter. When the sun clips below the horizon, he’ll let me help him to a shaky stand while he squashes on his hat. Then I can watch while he pokes and squeezes, Tests for the perfect choice until he finds some good ones— It must be a family secret how he tells— and then gives Them a little toss before he creaks out of the garden, Past the rotted wood posts. The short area will keep through many more frosty winters, Until there’s no one left to bask in its nostalgia. But I give the vines and their precious load a hard look, The veins visible through the paper, angry skin, and I know That’ll be a long way off. montanamouthful.com

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| TRACY WHITESIDE

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Resilience | NORAH BALDWIN

Glowing Love

| RICARDO ELISIARIO

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| GUILHERME BERGAMINI

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Vol. 3 • Issue 2


POETRY

Under The Creek by Emily Uduwana We went to the creek as kids. Dad would hoist us into trees,

We returned to the car sullen and quiet And I asked Dad where they’d gone.

Tell horror stories of poison ivy And invading fire ant colonies.

He sighed at his two moping kids, Told the same lie we’ve told for generations:

We found an iron triangle there once, Rusted in a dried-up riverbank.

“They migrated somewhere better,” he said. “Like butterflies or geese.”

I liked to imagine a woman in big skirts Calling her children home to lunch.

I liked to think of them that way-Little winged frogs taking to the skies,

But by far the creek’s biggest draw Were the frogs:

Zipping and shimmying over our heads: A thousand jewels in a thousand colors.

They were tiny and opalescent, Shimmering in shallow waters.

Then one year the monarchs didn’t show, And the geese got lost in the city.

I counted as many colors as frogs-Shiny gems hunkered down in bits of moss.

And I wondered if maybe our frogs Had tunneled underground instead:

They’d spring off rocks and tree trunks, Shock the sunscreen off our rosy faces.

Safe and warm and snug, And far from our rosy faces.

They disappeared when I was twelve, Left behind a sandy, barren beach.

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POETRY

Emerald Sea by Alexander Thomas

Whispers in the wind Guide the curling emerald sea, The sapphire of the Deep Where the thoughts of men do flee.

Each droplet, but a borrowed gem, And life, but a brief marauder. When the time has come, with purpose plunge As a gannet strikes the water.

From the shoreline of the cove, Each memory is cast Toward that from which we came, To drift upon the past.

Swelling tides will beckon to The echoes of yesterday To wander as one voice And set sail across the bay.

A wake of tangled dreams Lay amassing as a fleet, To vanish in the distance Where sky and ocean meet.

Froth and foam of lathered sea Will fold upon itself, Then dive in glistening darkness As the hands of Neptune melt.

Horizon is a mirror Casting each upon the other, Sieving mist and rain To splay the lashes of its color.

For that from which we came, we yearn. And thus, to sea our dreams return.

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Iceberg | SCHYLER SANKS

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| JULIANA HALITI

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NONFICTION

When Elephants Harvested Teak by Don Noel

I

f we were silent, the forest ranger told us, most of the animal world we rode through would be unaware of us—up here holding tight to the rails of the howdah against the gently rocking pace—and so would not be afraid or even timid. Just another elephant, they would think, whose careless, huge and clumsy feet needed watching but otherwise needing little attention. And so it proved: We soon lumbered by a deer and its newborn, the fawn camouflaged in dappled spots and curled into the belly of the dozing doe, probably nursing. I wished the elephant might pause long enough for me to get out my camera, but dared not speak to ask that, so didn’t get a photo. In the six decades since that magical morning, the teak industry of the Western Ghats on India’s Deccan Plateau has disappeared; Wikipedia tells me tersely that “much of the forest has been degraded through overuse.”

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But in 1957 teak was a major occupation, and elephants did the heavy work. My wife and I, spending three months wandering through India, had spent Christmas with a British Quaker in the Nilgiri Hills, at the southern tip of the Deccan not far from Madurai. She urged us to stop in the forest on our way north, and—a wonder, then!—had a telephone and helped set up the visit. That included arranging to stay in a dak bungalow, and inveigling the government ranger to give us a tour of his dry upland jungle. The British, during their time as colonial masters, set up dak bungalows all over India— little more than bed, bath and tiny kitchen, comparable to a basic motel of the day—to accommodate minor poohbahs or bureaucrats out touring the countryside on various governmental errands. When not so in use, they could be rented for a few rupees a night. Although told there would be some cooking utensils and tableware, we weren’t up to

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grocery shopping. Instead, we had a late-afternoon supper in an unpretentious eatery in the roadside commercial cluster where the bus – save for its gaudy paint, a model American schoolchildren would have recognized -- let us down. We then bought a few pieces of breakfast fruit at a roadside stand before shouldering our knapsacks and hiking in a half mile to the bungalow as dusk overtook us. We soon turned in, because the man who had agreed to give us a tour would pick us up not long after dawn. We were up early, had a spartan breakfast and were waiting. One couldn’t have missed hearing the elephant galumphing down the

dozen forest denizens we encountered, from parrots and macaws to monkeys. The ranger would silently point them out, and sometimes would tap the mahout to pause for a moment. He sat astride the elephant’s neck with his ankus, a goad with sharpened point and hook. At one point the boy stopped on his own and turned to tell the ranger that he’d picked up the track of a tiger or leopard and would try to follow it. That turned out not to last long; the track disappeared. After a time we put silence aside and enjoyed a rambling lecture on the forest and its inhabitants, the monsoon rains now behind us that nourished the land, the silviculture of teak and the intertwined lives of villagers and their docile tuskers. Another vivid memory of that The elephant, prodded sometimes with the exotic ride: At several points we rode ankus, would stomp with his right foot to out of the tall forest and through a mash the bamboo on that side, then with sunny canebrake, a thicket of bamboo that towered over us despite our his left to mash to the other side, and then being ten feet off the ground. The take several careful stomping steps more to elephant, prodded sometimes with clear a path through the bamboo hedge. the ankus, would stomp with his right foot to mash the bamboo on that side, then with his left to mash to the other side, and then take sevgrassy two-rutted trail, hardly wide enough for eral careful stomping steps more to clear a a Jeep, that we’d walked the evening before. path through the bamboo hedge. The uniformed ranger greeted us, and his He rewarded himself, I noticed: As he mahout—a skinny kid, legs wrapped in a stepped through each such opening, he flowing cotton dhoti, wearing a short-sleeved would reach to the side with his long trunk cotton shirt—had the elephant kneel so we to break off a few branches, and would nibble could climb up for proper introductions. We bamboo greens as he took us back into more would spend perhaps two hours, he said, open forest. mostly through the virgin forest but ending We ended our tour at the scene of the up in the part being harvested. teak harvest, where a dozen teams of men The fawn and doe were the first of a with two-man saws a New Englander could

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Vol. 3 • Issue 2


Unexpected Friendships | SYDNEY HARRIS

recognize were felling giant trees and cutting them into measured lengths. Under the British, a century earlier, some 40,000 teak trees were felled annually. Some went to build Royal Navy sailing vessels, but most had a mundane destination: sleepers, or ties, as the Brits crisscrossed their empire with railroads. By the time we visited, the harvest was less – lacking an adequate reforestation effort, the forest was thinner – and some went for a more noble purpose, furniture. An older man, armed with sticks topped with sponge-like, paint-soaked windings, came around examining each log and hammering a color-code daub onto the fresh-sawn butt. The elephants, our ranger explained, would come be harnessed to drag the logs and

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– without needing help from their mahouts – team up with each other to hoist them into color-coded piles to await being trucked to the sawmill! We thanked our guide and young man, bestowing on each such largesse as we could afford, and hiked back out to the paved road and commercial strip for a late lunch. Then we went back to the bungalow for a nap before what would prove the capper of the day: bath time. That scene was a mile away, where a small river ran through a clearing in the woods. As instructed, we arrived early and found a hillside vantage point overlooking a trampled sea of mud. Soon, the elephants arrived, mahouts on their necks, and made their way belly-deep

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into the river. The boys had left their sharp goads with whatever other harness the elephants had shucked, and now wielded long-handled scrub brushes. It is a vivid image in my memory: Each elephant would suck up trunkfuls of river water and spray its own back as its mahout—who in due course got a pretty good shower-bath himself—pranced along its back, scrubbing vigorously. When each animal was deemed clean enough, its mahout would again bestride the neck and guide his beast to stand in a long line of elephants waiting to be fed. The boy would then walk to the foot of the line, to a kitchen of huge pots slung over wood fires. There, pachyderm supper was being made: rice, with other grains and nourishing ingredients, was cooked into a sludge thicker than oatmeal. That pottage became firm enough to be tipped out and rolled into huge pills the size of medicine balls. Each mahout would in turn manage to get a supper-ball up onto his shoulder and stagger back to his animal, hoisting it up. His elephant would wave its trunk up out of the way, and open what I remember as a pointed lower lip into which supper was deposited, to be contentedly masticated. We couldn’t help noticing that one elephant, in line relatively near the cooking pots, was not being fed. As each mahout went by, supper ball on his shoulder, the poor elephant would lift its trunk skyward and open its mouth hungrily, as though pleading—only to see each meal carried farther to one of

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its companions. We had by now found an older man who spoke enough English to help us understand the scene before us. He explained that the elephant was sick, and its supper-ball would come last because medicine would be kneaded into it. We waited, and indeed that elephant was the last fed; we left it at last contentedly chewing. As each elephant finished its supper, we had noticed, an iron chain and shackle was bolted onto one foot—or sometimes two feet were chained loosely together. They would spend the night, our newfound guide explained, browsing on their own, quite likely heading back to the canebrake thickets of bamboo we’d been taken through. They would munch whatever greenery they found, and then would settle down to sleep. For most, a single noisy ankle-chain would be enough to remind them that they were domestic animals and should not try to wander away. Having watched the elephants fed, we went back to the road for supper ourselves, then repaired to our bungalow to catch up diaries. Not until much later would we realize we’d visited a dying industry. There are efforts to preserve the elephant population in the Deccan, but the teak is gone, and it’s hard to imagine anything to match the independent usefulness we’d witnessed. Next morning we breakfasted at the roadside and soon boarded a bus for Mysore, the next stop on our long Indian peregrination.

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POETRY

The First One by Andrew LaFleche The first one was impressive: tips of wings reaching

increasing each one, in malevolence. There is something in the air, here.

like spider legs, fingers clamouring out of the fog, sable shadow soaring

These last two ravens flown overhead, you can see it in their eyes.

against the essence of cloud; and then another. Twice more,

Fog risen birds of ill omen, broken mirrors on thundercloud skies.

Corvilequelure | LUKE DURAN

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POETRY

Little Ann Lake by Kerstin Schulz Rain stopped when we reached the trailhead. Parked next to a pickup truck the only car in the lot rumored to be packed in summer, the back hatch open we lunched, spread crumbs for chickadees, juncos and jays that maundered among the firs. Ready to march, we brushed past wet hemlocks to follow a pair of boot prints through the mud And no birds sang no insect chirr, no squirrel chatter, no wind flutter. Hair on my nape on high alert I unzipped my jacket, 48 | Montana Mouthful

prepared to be very big. And no birds sang In the lead I looked back: there was my husband loitering, half-hearted and a red, red coat calling caught in a cone of quiet. I called out, started a song, And no birds sang became the clapper of my own bell. And no birds sang Just when I was ready to call it quits we crossed a bed of scree, a hidden stream below

made the rocks chink and chime. And there by the banks of little Ann Lake we heard a mallard call, a bushtit peep, geese gabble in the rushes. Respite by the lake, packs down, coats off basking in the sun then back down the trail woodpecker hammers, squirrel scolds, tiny frog tumbles belly over back to the gully below. We take cautious steps through the mud boot prints facing up the way we came ours and the other pair and there in the middle of the muck gouged deep a cougar print. Vol. 3 • Issue 2


Reflection | AUSTIN FARBER

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View out of the rear, sliding doorway of the Gary Screw and Bolt Factory, Gary, Indiana | GEORGE L. STEIN


POETRY

Dragon in the Forest by Charles Halsted Near the end of summer in 1942, just four feet tall and a month before becoming six years old, my family vacationed at Lake Honnedaga,

ancient cabin on the shore where he would show us how to scoop out their guts, to ready their flesh to for frying and eating.

an Adirondack gem twenty miles from the nearest town, by driving the family car along an ancient winding and potholed dirt road.

A mile or so along the trail, my mother at my side, I heard a gentle rustling and mewling sound, then saw a foot-long brown-and-white speckled baby fawn.

We stayed in my paternal grandfather’s old house on the shore where my Pa had spent his childhood summers, a starting point for us

As I bent over to stroke its head and sides, we heard a nearby growling sound. A fuming dragon, maternal instincts aroused, crashed through the trees in full protective mode.

to reach a well-hidden lake at the end of a trail that wound its way through a dark forest that teemed with animal species. Midway through our month-long stay, my parents, older brother, two sisters, and I set out on the winding three-mile trail, to reach the lake, where my father would teach my siblings and me how to catch one or more deeply swimming trout, then bring them to an

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Without a second thought, my mother picked from the ground a five-foot stick as thick as a baseball bat and swung it into the shoulder of the charging doe. Our hearts racing, we stood aside as the just tamed mother deer nuzzled her fawn back into the thicket, my childhood saved by my Mum.

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POETRY

Message from the Northern Hemisphere by Constance Brewer That winter was colder than record. Birds fell from the trees, water froze mid arc and you couldn’t open a metal gate without gloves. That winter was a challenge, a rough playground. Crunching across foot-thick ice of Lake Erie while the totally adventurous drove cars in circles, screaming with laughter, annoying ice fishers and their flopping walleyes. Walking the streets after an epic blizzard, camera in hand, alone in the world with snow-humped cars. Hypothermia for amateurs. Shades of white and delicate blue, sharp arctic air sealing nostrils shut, the chink chink chink of metal snow shovels at their futile task, heart attacks in the making. Above, the highway gray sky droops a pause. The snow goes on forever, warmth an imaginary land only remembered when the space heater ticks on and thaws hands in summer’s pale substitute.

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| TRACY WHITESIDE | TRACY WHITESIDE

My Alaska

Springtime in Alaska


POETRY

This Season is But One in a Series of Many by Niko Boskovic She tells me to take my stuff out to the car I oblige with a full heart for we are off to the coast after two weeks of listening to her cough from the fires that rage to the east of our house and the skies glow dull with carbon never letting us forget that human flesh can burn too. We meander to watch whales make crowds gasp with marvelous excitement as if we never remembered that nature thrums on despite us and our desperate pillaging of her purse. If you were to dump out its contents you would find tissues to wipe up her idyllic tears a lighter to torch the hills for the sins of others a wide strip of medical tape to stave off bleeding and loose change from the toll roads that criss-cross her body without interruption.

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Regrets don’t live inside our car. The moment she decides the destination the music is planned relief pours off her like a floating canoe in the rapids of the Washougal that enchants her heart every summer. She lives by the creed that the world made more sense when people wrote letters talked on the phone made poetry between each other through long distances and aching words that mirrored the love juice secreted in parts not often explored. I have yet to understand what that’s like with another but in our bond mother to son it’s clear that we share rice paper-thin walls between our souls

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POETRY

Night’s Beginning by Kira Ponnaiya a lore of forests filled with sprites and fairy houses a rush of river in our veins whales breaching the surface of our breath asthmatic rasping to the doors of our hearts. Let us rest in motels on the edge of the Pacific eat clam chowder until we can’t stomach any more turn the music up to let our joy flow torch every sad reflex deep inside. Let’s stay where the ocean’s smells become part of our skin. Maybe the waves will finally wash us clean free of the aches that work their way into the lighthearted moments that come less frequently and we will wander the 101 over these winter days.

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The seas ripple softly Calm for once While a dolphin pod swims home The moon has just woken An owl toots in the distance The night has begun Stars twinkle merrily The forest is dead silent Peaceful for once As the smell of pine fills the air Lay down under the stars And watch the nighttime magic

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The Wave, Coyote Buttes, AZ, 2017 | BILL LIVINGSTON


FICTION

Titan by Natasha Derczynski Extracts from Lunar Module Pilot John Joyce’s journals of TiMe, NASA’s infamous expedition to sail the seas of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Found in the crew’s spacecraft during the recovery mission. Day Two 17th July, 2028. 9:30 p.m. UST. The light. That’s what hit me first. It’s so soft. It comes from our same sun, of course, only it’s filtered through the thick, nitrogen atmosphere so everything gets cast in this orange glow. It sweeps over the ice caps and the mountains way in the distance, creating different shades of brown and red and tan where the light hits, or gets blocked. These mountains are just as ancient and towering as our own, only they’re smooth, unmarked, barely eroded by the weather since it’s all so gentle here. They look like piles of spices on a market stall. 20th July. 12:15 p.m. Quick break. Another day setting things up and securing montanamouthful.com

them around the craft. Every time we step outside I have to try not to get distracted. It’s like we’re seeing it for the first time even though, in theory, we know this place like the back of our hands. Years of studying every image and scrap of data sent back by Cassini and Huygens-2 made it feel that way, anyway. But that was all on a screen. We’re really here. Except everything is just as utterly still now as it looked then. We’ve stepped inside the picture. Going to video call family tonight. Yay/ phew. 8:30 p.m. Three days in. Already starting to feel like crew’s been spending too much time together. It’s getting like that point in a family vacation where you’re in each other’s spaces even the way your brother puts his socks on pisses you Montana Mouthful | 57


off. Strange conversation while we were outside today: McKinney: It’s hard to believe it’s been sitting here this whole time. Me: Yeah, it’s crazy. McKinney: Just waiting for us. Dayton (joking): I dunno, looks to me like it didn’t want any visitors. McKinney: (in weird fake British accent) Titan didn’t invite us up for tea. We’re pioneers, boys, not visitors. We’re here to make history. Dayton: Alright, Mrs Chris Columbus. (McKinney gives Dayton the coldest stare. No one speaks for the next hour.) There’s only the three of us in the crew. Two out of those three have already psyched each other out. We have only very occasional communication with the space station. We’ve got two weeks still to go. Someone better be praying for me out there. 21st July. 8:15 a. m. To be fair to McKinney, we probably wouldn’t have gotten this expedition off the ground (yes, intended) if she hadn’t fought so damn hard. While we laid out all the practical benefits, how studying Titan’s seas and meteorology so closely could help us learn more about Earth’s own cycles, etc., etc., she went full throttle with the blue-sky, or I guess, endlessly-black-and-starry-sky thinking: ‘Think about it. Picture it. The first people— America, the first nation—to sail in space. And on one of the most hospitable places in our solar system. It’s a wonder—a travesty— we haven’t been up there already.’ It worked. We made it. She still weirds me out though. We’re going for a proper walk around 58 | Montana Mouthful

today. Pretty soon we’ll be floating our probe out on the sea. Just a little test drive, before we hop on ourselves. 23rd July. 7.00 p.m. Floated the probe onto Legeia Mare. We knew it would be smooth, from the pictures, but wow. Titan has wind and rain like we do, but the wind is so weak it can only create waves no bigger than a millimetre, and very rarely. Before we sent the probe out across the surface, it was utterly still. Like glass. Like you could walk up to the edge, crouch down, peer in and see a crystal-clear reflection looking back. 10.15 p.m. One thing, though. I have this image, as we were approaching the edge, before the probe. It keeps coming back to me. A ripple. A bubble, or even a small wave, rising and breaking then spreading out, dissipating and just melting back into itself. It’s so vivid in my mind, even though I know it’s not possible. Yep. I’m going crazy. My turn to weird out the rest of my crew. 7. 30 p. m. Mostly walked around today, the three of us. Getting our bearings. The ground we walked on is really hard, and flat. It has this burnt orange colour, with little smatterings of these deep red pebbles. It’s not soft, or earthy, or dusty, no one left footprints, yet I had that feeling of stepping onto fresh snow. I trod as lightly as I could in our heavy arctic gear. The quiet was the most unnerving. I could only hear my breath, faintly, going in and out of the mask. And the way everything stretches Vol. 3 • Issue 2


out ahead, almost endlessly. I half expected tumbleweed to be rolling past. Then the ice caps were suddenly looming over us. If you touched one with your bare hand, which you wouldn’t, because it would freeze off almost instantly, it wouldn’t at all feel rough or bumpy. One thing no one can quite work out yet: the frozen methane and nitrogen that everything is made up of should be broken down by the sunlight, however feeble it is. Yet they’re here, unmistakably solid, stable masses. When we first saw the caps from a distance, they seemed luminous, but as we slipped between them, the rest of the landscape was completely hidden and they wrapped us in shadow. I’m not sure if it felt like a safe embrace, or being swallowed up. 24th July The probe is gone. I don’t know what happened. We were watching it and controlling it from the shuttle. Everything seemed fine so we sent it gradually further and further out to sea. Those ripples started again. They grew. They were way too big to be coming from the probe itself. They kept growing, into waves. The waves got higher and higher. We could see through the camera it was being engulfed. Then...I don’t know. A spray of liquid across the lens, then darkness, then blackness. The probe went dead. 25th July. 6.20 p.m. Mckinney wants us to go out as soon as possible, to find it. She says there must be some footage on there, something we need to find, watch, and send back to the station. ‘Something the world needs to see.’ I told her she’s mad. The whole point of the probe was to make sure it was safe for us to sail on montanamouthful.com

ourselves. There’s no way we can find it— we have no other equipment that can be submerged so we can’t send anything else under the surface to search. We can’t communicate with it. It’s cut out completely. 9.00 p.m. Jesus. No wonder McKinney is so okay with us sailing onto a sea that is clearly not safe. Her plan is to stay nice and safe on the shuttle to ‘keep track of the probe and direct’ Dayton and I while we retrieve it. There’s no way. She’s the boss, though.

The ground we walked on is really hard, and flat. It has this burnt orange colour, with little smatterings of these deep red pebbles. It’s not soft, or earthy, or dusty, no one left footprints, yet I had that feeling of stepping onto fresh snow. 27th July Dayton is dead. 29th July I should’ve gone back for him. 30th July We went to retrieve it, that day, the two of us. We made it onto Legeia’s surface fine, got pretty far out. Dayton thought he could see something floating, bubbling up to the surface. I spotted it too. We sailed closer. He went to fish it out with this makeshift hook we cobbled Montana Mouthful | 59


together out of tripod legs. He leaned over the side of the boat and this wave came up and I swear, it was like it grabbed him, the liquid might as well have had muscles, the way it wrapped itself over him so neatly, a twisted parody of a tender embrace or something. I heard McKinney cutting her own scream short through the headset. This stuff curled underneath Dayton, swept him up and pulled him overboard, dragging him right down. I looked over, tried to grab the hook in case he was keeping a hold of it too, but it was gone. He was gone. As soon as he was beneath the surface, everything went still again. That mirror glaze shine as the lake covered itself back over. A crocodile crawling back to his nap after a snack. I should’ve stayed. I barely tried to help him, I could have done so much more. McKinney was in my ear though as soon as it was over yelling at me to double back. The first thing she asked when I made it back to shore, stony-faced, was ‘Well, did you get the probe?’ 12.15 a.m. Maybe I could have saved him. I don’t know what happened out there, what in heaven that was. I don’t think I want to.

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1st August We haven’t left the craft since. Mckinney says we’re staying. She’s loving this, got a real mission now. 9.20 p.m. I just watched Mckinney lie to the space station. Watched her arranged herself in front of the webcam with her hands folded in her lap, eyes all downcast, and lie. ‘I have to tell you guys. Dayton was injured on our first mission. He’s O.K., he’s asleep right now so I won’t bother him. His leg’s torn up but it’s been treated. He’s in for a few days in bed with his Walking Dead boxset but rest assured, Joyce and I are not letting up. He’s going back out in two days, we’ll lighten the equipment load so he can carry it easy enough alone, I’ll be here to guide him. We’re onto some very interesting data, people. This is greater than we could have imagined.’ 4th August All I want is to get out of here. Please, I just want to go home. 7th August Are you still praying for me?

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Rising | KELSEY LAYNE

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| JIM ROSS

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POETRY

The Part Where We Kiss by John “Catfish” Wojtowicz We rag up to the craggy peak of Hawksbill Mountain where I point out the blue-gray wings and white underbellies of peregrine falcons riding the thermals, rising up with the heat of the day.   Our annual National Park trip; a break from being who the world convinced us to be. My daughter gasps when a male peregrine dives in a yellow flash of hooked beak and talons; the signature stoop of the fastest animal on the planet.   Her mama stopped climbing after the first 100ft of the vertical trail breathless from carrying the weight of our unborn son, conceived 7 months prior. She’d decided to rest in the shade of a boulder, ushered us to the top without her.   Peregrine falcons’ mate for life re-establishing their bond each year with a month-long courtship of aerial acrobatics montanamouthful.com

featuring loops, swoops, and precise spirals. If the female likes what she sees, the male brings her evidence of his hunting prowess which she’ll receive by rolling over mid-flight and snatching from his talons.   My daughter and I gaze over the Shenandoah Valley; Old Rag rising with its scrambles and granite exposures. Heading back down, we find Jess catching her breath on a log   10ft from the top. She’d continued alone; didn’t want to miss the view.   Our daughter recites the falcon facts I’ve taught her as we watch the peregrines’ air show. I look proudly upon my wife as she looks proudly upon me. This may not immediately be recognized as courtship but it’s the part where we kiss.

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Indentations

| SYDNEY HARRIS

Kailua Skim Kid | BRETT RAMSEYER


An evening in late autumn, Princep Ghat, Kolkat SUBHA ROYCHOWDHURY

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| TRACY WHITESIDE

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NONFICTION

White Birds of Extinction by Terril L Shorb

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recall with eerie clarity the days we arrived at the brink of a war to end the world. At age ten, I learned that season on our Montana ranch about two very different kinds of white birds. My Grandfather Jones showed me the first one crisp October morning before we trucked cattle from the Centennial Valley, a place he called Cow Heaven because of its belly-high native grasses. We drove to a place near the Continental Divide where pale necks slender as reeds poked up out of the marsh grass. “Trumpeter Swans,“ Grandpa said proudly, describing how the Red Rock Refuge was a safe haven for the birds once hunted until only 66 were left in all the world. The birds in flight seemed big as private planes and the trumpet songs of the males echoed above the bawling of nearby range calves. The refuge manager told us the swans were doing well and might one day be taken off the endangered list.

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The other bird I learned about that fall was also tall and white. It dwelled beneath the Montana prairie and in other places primarily in the West. This bird’s name was Titan Two. It was born not of nature but of the minds of fearful men. It was fashioned to fly once from its silo of slumber, to soar over our Big Sky, and fall like the angel of death on foreign soil. This bird was emblematic not of Happy Ever After, but of No After at all. I learned of this bird while attending a red brick, one-room country school west of the Valley of the Trumpeter Swans. It was a sobering lesson to understand that like certain aboriginal peoples, the bison, the wolf, or the Trumpeter Swan, my own extinction (close your eyes and spell it...“e-x-t-i-n-c-t-i-o-n” ) was very much a possibility. It was also my first awareness of the West as a National Sacrifice area, a land of lesser populations of creatures, including human beings, and thus a ‘safer place’ for the missiles of October should the Russians

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launch a first strike. One morning I awoke from a nightmare about prairie wildflowers bursting into flames and our family fleeing into sheltering mountains only to find rivers choked with dead elk and deer and eagles singed naked as holiday turkeys. I ran from my bed to Grandma Jones hunched over the wood stove where she was frying sausage and eggs. I asked her if we were all going to die. I remember her startled face, her lips moving soundlessly, grease dripping from her spatula. She patted my shoulder and pointed me toward the big oak table. “I’ll fry you up some hen fruit with yolk all runny so you can dip your toast.” I think now of innocent creatures great and small, the winged ones and four-legged ones, who arise from beds simple as a tucked wing or a swirl of buffalo grass to forage, court and raise their babies under the sun. I think of ten-year-old children waiting for butter-yellow school busses. I think of men in bomb-proof rooms laying plans for war. Their plans continue to rely on my beloved West to be a national sacrifice area. This time the sacrifice is above and below ground: ramped-up fossil fuel extraction, industrial-scale gouging of uranium ore from sacred aboriginal grounds, all, it is said, to protect our way of life. Yes, ours, because I, too, am a conspicuous consumer who uses more energy for the arsenal of appliances I once thought crucial to the conduct of my modern life. I think of all this and a fear re-kindles, a searing ember blown across the gulfs of time. My Grandmother and her Leghorn medicine is no longer available to me. I am a man responsible for the security of my family. But how? Close my eyes to the pillage of my own

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nation to extract the last remnants of mineral and petro-wealth? What about my responsibility for the health of my homeland and to the well-being of generations of all living beings yet to be born? The answer is the same now as it has been for a thousand generations of my human ancestors: it’s the solar economy, stupid. And I don’t mean the one of a quarter-billion years ago when the plants first fell that produced the coal and oil extracted today. I’ve begun to retreat from my super-sized lifestyle by down-sizing my vehicle to a fourcylinder model, by purchase of nearly all household goods and clothes from secondhand stores, and by putting food on the table from our local Community-Supported Agriculture project which also support local farmers who sponsor the good health of local lands. There is much more to do and I need the moral support of my neighbors to move to a more genuinely sustainable life. I meet with friends and students to share strategies and skills for less material acquisition in favor of greater social and spiritual sustenance. We gather strength to demand of local and national leaders support for a solar economy that does not force us into new dark versions of world dominion and the necessity of war. And resolve to vote them out if they fail to listen. I do this over an occasional order of eggs, sunny-side up with the yolks runny. And picture great glistening wings of Trumpeter swans and recall their haunting love songs. I rededicate myself to living as lightly as possible in our fragile West, lest I be among the human chorus inadvertently singing its swan song.

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POETRY

Running Wild by Sharon Lask Munson Gloved, capped, encumbered in rain gear, they slouch low in the boat while the brooding sun bullies them above gun-metal clouds. Fighting swift Kenai River currents the boat careens from bank to rapids. The man cautiously rows away from birch branches skimming their heads, massive rocks hidden by mist, tangles of fallen trees and sweepers — hazards that would snare, trap flip them into bitter cold. The woman rises on her knees, rod bent like an archer’s bow, the red spinner firmly hooked in the salmon’s mouth. The huge Chinook struggles while she glimpses a sheen of silver

The Naming of Brush Fires by Laura Saint Martin The sky is just an ashtray, hot-boxed mountains mantled as wizards, our swamp coolers dystopic with a roar that is anything but dull. It starts as a Martian light, coppered shadows, helicopters hung like stallions and toy planes shitting orange. The fire soon stands Godly, flags half the state, while we hide in cars and gymnasiums, choking on hot snow. It looks like it should rumble, but it whispers like water, the only thunder our advance and retreat. Brush fires are named for streets, campgrounds, bodies of water. Why not name them for the victims, the motorist whose death was the point of origin? Why not for the leaf-shaped ash that traveled twenty miles to collapse, little geisha, in my hand?

beneath the glacier-fed, milky-green torrent.

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Editors’ Enclosure is a new feature in Montana Mouthful Magazine. Here an editor may share a story, essay, poem, artwork, or a mixture of these. The work in this “enclosed” space may or may not have a connection to the issue’s theme. In this Editors’ Enclosure, Cari Divine shares a nonfiction piece about a childhood visit to her family’s cabin in the woods.

Grave Memories by Cari Divine spent many weekends in the great outdoors with my family when I was in grade school. My grandparents leased a cabin from the church between the lovely forest towns of Monarch and Neihart in Montana. It was a 45 minute drive from Great Falls to reach the mountain hide away. Whenever my dad signaled right to turn off the highway onto the Harley Creek Bridge, our anticipation heightened as we headed up Harley Creek Road. My brothers and I fought to stay on the shared bench seat in the back of our 1972 army-green Bronco. Cory, my youngest brother, always got stuck in the middle. His bony knees and elbows added to the back seat chaos and bruises. Although we were sworn enemies at ages 7, 10 and 13, we secretly shared the delight of the cabin weekends. We bumped through potholes and tirecreated canyons embedded in the gravel road that nearly bucked my brothers and I off the

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small bench backseat. My older brother, Garry, and I would lean toward the open front car windows to breathe in the comforting scent of pine trees. Different varieties were scattered all over the surrounding mountains like confetti blasted during New Year’s Eve. Dust trailing after the car was part of the ambiance as was the beauty and fragrance of Ponderosa Pines, Rocky Mountain Junipers, and Douglas Firs. Dad took a left at the fork in the road and cautiously drove over the plank bridge that crossed the creek into the grassy yard in front of the cabin. The car slowed, the brakes squeaked, and the engine stopped. For a brief moment, peaceful silence enveloped the car. Then, the raucous of arrival. We waited impatiently as our parents got out of the car and flipped the seats forward so we could climb out and stretch. My grandparents’ cabin resided in the shade against a very steep background of the Vol. 3 • Issue 2


Untitled | GARRY LIND

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mountain and was flanked by a large green shale patio. The small, paned front windows were framed in forest service green and a massive chimney of creek rock rose high above the roof. The weathered wooden door was constructed of three pine timbers that were held together with wooden cross pieces. My brothers and I wanted to clamor toward the creek, test the temperature with our fingers and toes, and explore in the early evening, but we knew that we’d be unable to escape until we assisted with the unpleasant task of unloading the car. The sooner it was done, the sooner we could be free in the overgrown meadow and tree-laden forest. After the car was unpacked, my brothers and I walked to the cemetery about a half a mile up an abandoned road. The cracking and crumbling gravestones provided names and dates of people who had died over a hundred years ago. It was heartbreaking to see how many of the gravestones were for babies, many who’d died before they were even a year old. Most of the grown-ups had passed away when they were younger than my parents. My Mother said there’d been some sort of epidemic. Many of the graves were marked only by stones, but some of them were more decorative, even though the bars and posts were rusted from age. Our favorite grave was the one surrounded by four posts. Additional poles rested atop the corner posts, forming a square and a small bell hung from the bar at the top of the

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grave. I thought it was built as a tribute to someone who was truly loved and missed. The graveyard was somber and eerie in the early evening; the only noise was the sound of a sinister wind blowing through the trees. One evening, Garry, Cory, and I were in the cemetery. Garry bent down, attempting to read the stone at the bell grave, but as he righted himself, he bumped a side pole with his shoulder. Cory and I watched in horror as the bar rolled off its posts and clanged like an ominous church bell as it rolled down the road. The wind increased, reminding me of a spooky Halloween night. The look on Garry’s face was of horrible fear. What had he done? Had he disturbed a ghost? What was going to happen now? Realizing the possible impacts, and startled by the sound of Cory’s footsteps quickly fading away, I began running as fast as I could to get away from the grave. I didn’t want to get in

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trouble, cursed, or haunted. Plus Mom and Dad would be so angry. So much for a fun weekend at the cabin. Garry was so stupid. I didn’t hear any footsteps behind me, and I looked back to make sure Garry was coming. He was still standing at the scene of the debacle. His hands shook as he retrieved the loose bar from where it had fallen and laid it atop the posts where it belonged. His hands trembled as he moved them away from the bar. He sighed with relief. Then the bar fell again. Clang, clang, clang. Garry paced around and ran his fingers through his hair. He made a second attempt to collect the bar, but his hands were so unsteady, he stepped back with it still in his

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grip. He looked at me, his eyes pleading for help. His knuckles were white. Should I help him, I wondered? If I did, would I be cursed too? I walked slowly towards Garry. Carefully, I took one end of the rusted pole, and he took the other. Together, we placed the bar back on the posts. We didn’t breathe for a few seconds, our hands below the bar in anticipation of it falling again. This time it stayed. Garry looked at me with sincere gratitude and then we ran, screaming as if we were being chased by a grizzly bear. We arrived safely at the cabin, breathing heavy, but relieved. We threatened Cory to keep it a secret or we would all be cursed. For the rest of the weekend, Garry and I smiled knowingly at each other with our shared secret. I gained respect from my brother that weekend, for helping him in the graveyard. Although he picked on me throughout our teenage years, I always felt that in serious situations, we’d always help each other out. Forty years later, I asked my brothers about that day at the grave. Cory remembered it, but Garry did not. I was surprised at his lack of memory as it was such a scary moment in my life, one in which I felt we’d bonded. Funnily enough, when Garry had visited from Seattle the previous year, he and his wife went for a drive to the cabin to reminisce, and he took photos of the exact grave at our childhood haunt. The three of have different memories from the cabin, but we grew up there and gained a great appreciation for the outdoors and all that it provides.

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While Montana Mouthful seeks and accepts stories, essays, poetry, and artwork from around the world, we wish to connect with writers and artists from our local Helena community. Montana Mouthful and The Shop University have teamed up; each issue includes a piece submitted by one of The Shop University’s students. The Shop University was founded and is operated by Suzy Williams, and she writes the following message: The Shop University is so excited to be a regular feature in Montana Mouthful magazine. For the past six years, the ShopU has taught intensive daily English classes to teenagers and adults in the Helena area. In this amount of time over 100 students from over 40 different countries have walked through the door. These students are brave. Picking up your life and moving it to a new country to start over takes strength. Learning a new culture, language, and way of life takes perseverance. Every single one of our students wants to learn English to be able to participate in and give back to the community they live in and love. The ShopU exists to help these students thrive in our community by

meeting their English goals. These goals include getting a job, passing a test, enrolling in college, or simply better communication, so they are understood at the doctor’s office or at their child’s school. Learning a new language is hard. Most adults do not achieve fluency in a second language without extreme dedication and motivation. Writing is often the last of the four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) where fluency is developed. Each of our students has dreams, goals, and stories.  Being able to showcase their stories in a language they have worked so hard to learn for the community to read is an unbelievable gift.  

This issue features an essay written by Carlos Moura. Carlos Moura is visiting Montana, and he likes to experience people and places. As a Brazilian, he likes to play soccer, go to the beach, and to share about his country. His first language is Portuguese. He is studying English at the Shop University, and his teacher made the right story.

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ESSAY

The Wildlife in My Yard by Carlos Moura

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n my yard, located in a city called Camaragibe, in the state of Pernambuco, in the northeast of Brazil, we can find many animals such as monkeys, agoutis, birds, snakes, sloths, and others. Behind my house, there is a big forest surrounded by houses. All the people who live there try to conserve the trees and the animals. The first is an animal called sagui. They are small monkeys the same size as squirrels and make a whistle like sound. They feed on many things from fruits to baby birds. Sometimes, we need to run to the yard to save the baby birds from the saguis’ attack by throwing stones or hitting them with a broom. We often find baby birds dead on the ground. This is sad because we watch for months waiting to see the baby birds born in the nest. Many saguis have died from hanging and walking on the electric wires or because people feed them fruit, transmitting diseases through the food. Some weeks ago, a number of saguis were found dead. After being examined by biologists, it was found that they had died because they contracted human herpes. Another animal that lives in my yard is montanamouthful.com

the agouti, also called cotia in Portuguese. It is a small rodent similar to a guinea pig. We have an agouti family that almost every day passes by our yard going to the street. They have brown fur that can also be copper colored. Agoutis feed on fruits and when they are eating, they put their hands in a prayer like position. When the fruits fall down, we can see these animals easily. They like my yard because we do not have dogs. In some places, agoutis are appreciated by the hunters who like to eat these animals. As a place that has a lot of trees, there are many birds we also have in America such as woodpeckers, sparrows, falcons, etc. But, we also have many different birds such as bacurau, sabiá and curió just to name a few. These birds are common in my country and even though it is illegal to own them without a license, people still spend a lot of money to buy them because the songs are so beautiful. I do not like to take the birds out of the wild because they live close to my yard and I can enjoy their songs outside. The bacurau can be found only at dawn. He makes a sound similar to an owl. The sabiá is a black and orange bird with a strong beak. Of all these, the curió have the Montana Mouthful | 75


could kill her or run her over on the road. I am not sure if I have venomous snakes in my yard. I have never found venomous snakes, but is possible that there is. The snakes feed on birds, frogs, geckos, and depending on their size can eat saguis, agoutis, and other small animals. In these animals I described, we have those that fascinate us and those that scare us. The last one I will describe is a curious animal called a sloth. Sloths are very cute animals who everyone has a fascination with because we can watch the sloth’s movements for a long time. In Brazil, these animals are known as preguiça; literally translated in English it means “lazy”

Nature 2

| JULIANA HALITI

most beautiful sound. These birds have many predators such as saguis and snakes. We can find many types of snakes such as corals, casco de burro, corre campo and others in my region. We have two types of corals: the false and the true. The false does not make venom and the true is very venomous. Both of them can be dangerous because their skins are similar in color and in design. There was a time I found a boa constrictor also known as giboia in the corner of my yard. She was a baby snake measuring between 20 and 25 inches with violet and black skin. She was a beautiful animal. We called the firefighters to place her in a safe location because someone

76 | Montana Mouthful

Vol. 3 • Issue 2


because the movements are slow. Occasionally we see sloths in my neighborhood. Two weeks ago, my family sent me a video showing a large sloth found in our yard. She needed help to go back to the trees. They normally live in the trees in my yard. Another time, I heard a noise on my porch. I ran outside because I thought someone was trying to get into the house. There was nobody at the porch. Suddenly I heard a noise again, and when I looked to my side, there she was, a beautiful sloth hanging from a plant next to the door. Carefully, I held her by the arms and put her on a nearby tree. Sloths are fascinating animals, but it is best to hold them by the arms

montanamouthful.com

because they have big claws to defend themselves. Sometimes, they get run over on the road like dogs and cats in America because they are the same color as the asphalt, and many times the drivers cannot see them crossing the road. When the drivers see the sloths, they stop the cars, forming a row of cars stopped on the road, until someone who knows how to hold sloths can get them out of the road and to safety. All the people pay attention to these animals because they arouse curiosity from the little ones. This curiosity is important to maintain the nature in our neighborhood and preserve our beautiful wild life in the years to come.

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Thank you for reading “The Great Outdoors” issue! We hope you enjoyed the stories, essays, poems, and artwork related to nature. Thanks to all of our contributors who continuously put forward wonderful work. We also want to thank Suzy Williams, of The Shop University, and her ESL students for their contributions to Montana Mouthful, and we thank our talented design/ layout expert, Luke Duran, of Element L Design. Earlier this year, we had a theme selected for our next issue, but we decided to put that theme on hold in favor of opening up submissions on the theme of “Quarantine.” While the quarantine caused by the Coronavirus has generated much stress, it’s also allowed many people time and opportunity for reflection and creative pursuits. We expect many different takes and emotional responses related to the theme of “Quarantine.” Perhaps you took photographs of what life looked like inside your home during this time. Perhaps you wrote a poem about the feeling of being isolated. Perhaps you wrote a story inspired by your concern for a loved one. Submissions will open for the “Quarantine” issue on June 15, 2020, and submissions will close on September 7, 2020. We aim to publish the “Quarantine” issue on October 19, 2020. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus impacted one of our fundraisers that we had set to run in conjunction with the March Madness basketball games; however, we thank those who donated to our impromptu Facebook fundraiser around that same time. In-person fundraising events are up in the air at the moment, but in the meantime, we hope you’ll consider donating to us through our website or Facebook page as we really want to be able to give our contributors a complimentary print copy of the issues in which they’re featured. The editors cannot fund this alone. Of course, we’ll keep you updated on any and all fundraising events! Thank you for your readership, support, and social media shares. Most importantly, stay safe! Sincerely, Jasmine Swaney Lamb, Co-Editor

78 | Montana Mouthful

Vol. 3 • Issue 2


Biography

needed most of it. While he was minimally-speaking, it became clear once he learned how to communicate that he was quite intelligent and had been paying attention all along. You can find out more about Niko at facebook.com/nikoboskovicPDX/

Lauren Alagna

Constance Brewer

Lauren Alagna is a high school freshman who writes both prose and poetry in her free time. Her poetry often takes a darker twist, inspired by biblical lore and Greek myth, but she also dabbles in narrative poems. Find out more about Lauren on Instagram @laurenlasagna.

Constance Brewer is the editor for Gyroscope Review poetry magazine and the recipient of a Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship Grant in poetry. She is the author of Piccola Poesie: A Nibble of Short Form Poetry, and lives in Wyoming, under starstudded skies. Find out more about Constance at the following: constancebrewer.com; facebook.com/constance.brewer; @constancebrewer; instagram.com/constancegbrewer/

Norah Baldwin Norah is a student photographer who is passionate about capturing nature in its most pure and raw forms. Her goal is to help preserve nature’s beauty, even if it is just through a brief snapshot of a moment she found particularly captivating. Devon Balwit Devon Balwit’s poems and reviews appear in The Worcester Review, The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Apt (long form issue), Tule Review, Sugar House Review, Poetry South, saltfront, The Plough Quarterly, and Grist among others. For more, see her website: pelapdx.wixsite.com/devonbalwitpoet Guilherme Bergamini Reporter photographic and visual artist, Guilherme Bergamini is Brazilian and graduated in Journalism. For more than two decades, he has developed projects with photography and the various narrative possibilities that art offers. The works of the artist dialogue between memory and social political criticism. He believes in photography as the aesthetic potential and transforming agent of society. Awarded in national and international competitions, Guilherme Bergamini participated in collective exhibitions in 30 countries. Find out more about Guilherme at guilhermebergamini.com/ Jerome Berglund Jerome Berglund graduated from the cinema-television production program at the University of Southern California, and has spent much of his career working in television and photography. He has had photographs published and awarded in local papers and last year staged an exhibition in the Twin Cities area which included a residency of several months at a local community center. The most recent show featuring his pictures, at the Pause Gallery in New York, opened in early December. Learn more about Jerome at flowersunmedia.wixsite.com/ jbphotography/blog-1/ Niko Boskovic Niko Boskovic is an 18-year-old man living in Portland, Oregon, where he attended high school and graduated in June of 2019. Before high school, he was homeschooled and underwent a lot of therapy to treat his autism, but the thing was, he never really montanamouthful.com

Natasha Derczynski Natasha Derczynski is a Creative Writing Postgraduate currently living in Berkshire and working as a Healthcare Assistant. She completed a BA in English Literature with Creative Writing and an MA in Creative Writing: The Novel, both at Brunel University London. She hopes to eventually return for a Phd but for now is trying to find success in writing outside of academia. Her work typically consists of short, choppy stories centering on difficult, slightly odd female (often LGBTQ+) leads as they battle their demons and search for fulfilment in the tangled mess of modern life. Cari Divine Cari Divine is a co-founder and co-editor of Montana Mouthful Magazine. She started writing furiously as a therapeutic release and began dabbling in short stories.  She is originally from Great Falls, Montana and currently resides in Helena, Montana. You can follow her on instagram @ cariberry65. Luke Duran Luke Duran is a graphic artist composed mainly of oxygen (65%), carbon (18.5%), hydrogen (9.5%), and a whole mess of trace elements, depending on what he had for dinner last night. He specializes in design for print, and generally puts his artistic energy toward things like education, conservation and the arts. Ricardo Elisário Ricardo Elisiário is an agricultural engineer and a freelance photographer, podcaster, and writer for hire. To find out more about this Lisbon-born wifey-lover, visit his website, rmelisiario.com. Austin Farber Austin Farber is a writer and photographer from Rose Hill, Kansas. Austin is a student at Wichita State University studying English language, literature, and writing. Austin’s photography encompasses different perspectives of land, time, and space. Austin’s favorite perspective to shoot is mirrors and their dual image play. These shots embrace a combination of space and land, in an altered state of consciousness. These images are not as they appear upon first glance. Montana Mouthful | 79


Kate Feinauer Kate Feinauer graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing. She currently works as a criminal courtroom clerk and enjoys creating whimsical art in her free time. You can find out more about her at instagram.com/yauchers/ High Findlay Hugh Findlay lives in Durham, NC, and would rather be caught fishing. He drives a little red MG, reads and writes a lot, dabbles in photography and makes a pretty good gumbo. His work has been published in The Dominion Review, Literary Accents, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Bangalore Review, Burningword Literary Journal, Wanderlust, Montana Mouthful, Souvenirs, Dream Noir, San Pedro River Review, Proem, New Southern Fugitives, Arachne Press, Pinesong, Dash, Barzakh and Willowdown Books. Follow Hugh @hughmanfindlay Ben Groner III Ben Groner III (Nashville, TN), recipient of Texas A&M University’s 2014 Gordone Award for undergraduate poetry and a Pushcart Prize nomination, has work published in Cheat River Review, Whale Road Review, Appalachian Heritage, The Bookends Review, Still: The Journal, and elsewhere. He’s also a bookseller at Parnassus Books. You can see more of his work at bengroner.com/creative-writing/. Juliana Haliti Juliana Haliti is an artist living and working in Albany, NY. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with a dual concentration in painting/drawing and sculpture from the College of Saint Rose in 2008. After graduating, Haliti moved to Italy to live and paint until 2010. She is currently pursuing a Master’s of Arts in Studio Art from the university at Albany with the intent to graduate spring of 2020. Find out more about Juliana at julianahaliti.com/ and instagram.com/julianahaliti/ Charles Halsted Charles Halsted is a retired academic physician who prepared for a subsequent career in poetry though on-line courses provided by Stanford Continuing Studies and in selected poetry workshops in California, Oregon, and New Mexico. His poetry has appeared in more than thirty different journals, in his chapbook, Breaking Eighty, and in his full book, Extenuating Circumstances. He lives in Davis, California. Sydney Harris Sydney Harris is located in Pittsburgh, PA, and grew up exposed to multitude of different art styles, giving her the opportunities to grow as an artist and find herself. She likes to show her quirky attitude by experimenting with mediums and different styles. Her use of bright and bold colors makes her work pop and stand out from the rest, allowing for her to create her 80 | Montana Mouthful

own identity in the art community by classifying herself as a surrealist pop artist. Find out more about Sydney at sydneyharrisart.com/ and on Instagram @sydneyharrisart Thomas Howarth Thomas lives in Cork, Ireland, where he sits down to write whenever his cat allows. His writing has been published by Literally Stories, fresh.ink, and Czykmate Productions. Find out more about Thomas at facebook.com/ThomasHowarthComedian Fiona M. Jones Fiona M. Jones is a creative writer living in Scotland. She has been a regular contributor to Folded Word, Mum Life Stories and Elsewhere Journal, and she has short poetry and prose in a number of magazines both literary and educational. Find out more about Fiona @FiiJ20 on Facebook, Twitter and Thinkerbeat. D. E. Kern D. E. Kern is an author and educator from Bethlehem, Pa. His poems and stories have appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Limestone, Owen Wister Review, Sierra Nevada Review and Reed Magazine. He teaches English at Arizona Western College. Find out more about D.E. at facebook.com/DE-Kern689300447747815/ Andrew LaFleche Andrew Lafleche is an award-winning poet and author of No Diplomacy; Shameless; Ashes; A Pardonable Offence; One Hundred Little Victories; On Writing; Merica, Merica on the Wall; and After I Turn into Alcohol. His work uses a spoken style of language to blend social criticism, philosophical reflection, explicit prose, and black comedy. Lafleche is the editor of Gravitas Poetry. He was awarded an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Gloucestershire in 2019. Follow him on Twitter: @AndrewLafleche or visit AndrewLafleche.com for more information. Kelsey Layne Kelsey Layne is a writer and photographer living in Madison, Wisconsin. You can find her photography in The Sun Magazine and Esthetic Apostle. Find out more about Kelsey on Instagram @kelseylayne6. Alex Leavens Alex Leavens has worked as a naturalist for the Portland Audubon Society, backcountry ranger and firefighter in the Olympic National Park, and primitive survival instructor in Southern Utah. His poetry has appeared in Cirque, Windfall, Perceptions Magazine, Clover, Cathexis NW, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Frogpond, and Modern Haiku. Kali Lightfoot Kali Lightfoot spent several seasons as a wilderness ranger for the U.S. Forest Service. Her poems have appeared in journals Vol. 3 • Issue 2


and anthologies, been nominated twice for Pushcart, and once for Best of the Net. Her debut collection is forthcoming from CavanKerry Press in 2021. Kali earned an MFA in Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Find out more about Kali at kali-lightfoot.com/ Bill Livingston Self-taught and devoid of a particular style, Bill Livingston’s photos have been featured in Black & White Magazine, Montana Mouthful: Clowning Around, Dodho Magazine, Right Hand Pointing and Damaged Goods. His work has been in several group gallery exhibitions in Los Angeles and a group show at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, NY. Originally from Altoona, PA, he now resides in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife, twin daughters and a chug named Penny. Peruse his galleries at blivingstonphoto.com and follow his visual adventures on Instagram @pixnwordz. Carlos Moura Carlos Moura is visiting Montana and he likes to experience people and places. As a Brazilian, he likes to play soccer, go to the beach, and to share about his country. His first language is Portuguese. He is studying English at the Shop University, and his teacher made the right story. Sharon Lask Munson Sharon Lask Munson was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She taught school in England, Germany, Okinawa, Puerto Rico, and Alaska. She is a retired teacher, poet, coffee addict, old movie enthusiast, lover of road trips—with many published poems, two chapbooks, and two full-length books of poetry. She now lives and writes in Eugene, Oregon. You can find her at sharonlaskmunson.com Austin Newton Austin Newton resides in Portland, Oregon and is pursuing a BFA in creative writing at Portland State University. His work has appeared in Pathos and Prometheous Dreaming. Find out more about Austin on Instagram @doctorweird95. Don Noel Retired after four decades’ prizewinning print and broadcast journalism in Hartford CT, Don Noel received his MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University in 2013. He has since published more than five dozen short stories (including “Iniquities” and “Schoolmaster” in Montana Mouthful) and non-fiction pieces, but has two novellas and a novel still looking for publishers. Find out more about Don at his blog dononoel.com Sean O’Neill Sean O’Neill is a law student in Washington, DC, where he procrastinates by romping in the outdoors and playing pickup sports (poorly). This summer he hopes to publish a collection montanamouthful.com

of poems written mostly about and entirely by coffee. Find out more about Sean on Instagram @seanitb4, and at medium.com/@SPONEI14 Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli is a documentary photographer who loves exploring lives different from her own. And it is through the filtered lens that she learns about the way people grieve, live and love. Living in the Adirondacks at Vermont’s border, she is witness to the joys found among the North Country’s sometimes unforgiving landscape. Find out more about Kathleen at phalentomaselli.com Kira Ponnaiya Kira Ponnaiya is a 12 year old living in New York City. She started writing as a hobby before COVID-19 had reached the U.S. While unpublished, Kira is still submitting her works to different magazines or contests. She hopes you enjoy her poem, “Night’s Beginning.” Brett Ramseyer Brett Ramseyer teaches English and Creative Publishing in Hart, Michigan where he and his wife raise their three children. Ramseyer’s previous written work appeared in Montana Mouthful, Silver Needle Press, Peregrine Journal, Sixfold, & Chaleur Magazine. His novel Come Not To Us (2014) and short story collection Waiting For Bells (2016) are available at lulu.com. He also administers the Joan Ramseyer Memorial Poetry Contest at bramseyer.worpress.com whose 2020 deadline on the themes of Community and/or Activism is August 7, 2020. These are Ramseyer’s first published photographs. Find out more about Brett at bramseyer.wordpress.com James Redfern James Redfern was born and raised in Long Beach, California. Redfern is a graduate of Grinnell College. His work has been published by Whizdome Press, Great Lakes Poetry Press, Fear and Loathing in Long Beach, Transcend, The American Journal of Poetry, Dime Show Review, Swimming with Elephants (forthcoming), Verity La: The Clozapine Clinic (forthcoming), and elsewhere. He is the author of several novels (most recently Hecatomb) and several volumes of poetry (most recently Catfish in a Bowl Redux). John Timothy Robinson John Timothy Robinson is a mainstream printmaker of the Kanawha Valley in Mason County, WV. He is a published poet and scholar with 156 literary works appearing in 108 journals and websites since August 2016 in the United States, Canada, India, United Kingdom, Poland and Germany. In Printmaking, he has published eighty-nine print and photographic images, though his primary medium is Monotype and Monoprint process with interest in collagraph, lithography and etching.

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Recent work; Cover— North American Review, Castabout Art and Literature, Curating Alexandria, Red Flag Poetry, Right Hand Pointing, Abstract: Contemporary Expressions, Please See Me and Wingless Dreamer. Jim Ross Jim Ross jumped into creative pursuits in 2015 after leaving public health research. He’s since published nonfiction, poetry, and photography in well over 100 journals and anthologies in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Publications include Barren, Columbia Journal, Ilanot Review, Lunch Ticket, Kestrel, The Atlantic, The Manchester Review, and Typehouse. A nonfiction piece led to a role in a soon-to-be-released, high-profile documentary limited series. Jim and his wife—parents of two health professionals on the front line and grandparents of five preschoolers— split their time between the city and the mountains. Subha Rowchowdhury Subha Roychowdhury is a dead-drunk madman. His cart is currently empty. He has successfully logged out. Find out more about Subha at facebook.com/subharc Laura Saint Martin Laura Saint Martin is an emerging writer, working on a mystery series set in the foothills of Southern California, featuring horses and their eccentric but brave owners. She also writes poetry about life on the autism spectrum, mental health, blue collar struggles, and animals and nature. Schyler Sanks Schyler Sanks is a landscape and wildlife photographer based in Laurel, Maryland. His favorite scenes are remote landscapes, anything from small seaside villages to the open expanse of the Long Range Mountains. When he’s not out with his camera, he’s relaxing at home with his wife, son, and two cats. Find out more about Schyler at schylersanks.com, and instagram.com/_schyler Kerstin Schulz Kerstin Schulz has a degree in Anthropology from Grinnell College and did graduate work in Folklore at the University of Oregon. Kerstin has been writing poetry for over 40 years and when she is not writing she can be found hiking the trails in Northern Oregon with her husband, Henry Kunowski. Kerstin lives in Portland, Oregon. Terril L. Shorb Terril L. Shorb grew up on a ranch in Southwestern Montana. He has been a journalist in Montana and Wyoming and now teaches Sustainable Community Development at Prescott College in Arizona where he founded that program. He and his wife, the poet, Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb, co-founded Native West Press. His recent publications include The MacGuffin, Projected Letters, QU Literary Journal, Cargo Literary Magazine, bioStories, and Green Teacher Magazine. You can find out more 82 | Montana Mouthful

about Terril via his email at tshorb@prescott.edu or on Twitter, @shorb_l or Facebook. Adam M Sowards Adam M. Sowards is an environmental historian, writer, and professor who lives in the Palouse region of the Pacific Northwest. He has published several books of history, including most recently, An Open Pit Visible from the Moon: The Wilderness Act and the Fight to Protect Miners Ridge and the Public Interest. He also writes a regular column, “Reckoning with History,” with High Country News. The quest to understand how nature, democracy, and public lands intersect is the heart of his work. Find out more about Adam at the following Web: adamsowards.net; Twitter: @AdamMSowards; Facebook: facebook.com/AdamMSowardsWriter George L. Stein George L. Stein is a writer and photographer in the New Jersey/ New York metropolitan area. Interest in monochrome, film and digital photography and urban decay/architectural subject matter has come to include street photography and fashion. His work has been published in Midwest Gothic, NUNUM, Montana Mouthful, Out/Cast, The Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, and DarkSide magazine. Find out more about George on Instagram @steincapitalmgmt. Alexander Thomas Alexander Thomas is a third year medical student at Thomas Jefferson University, with an interest in pursuing Psychiatry. He has recently begun research on the effects of poetry on the human psyche. He is an avid martial artist, and his other interests include History, Philosophy, Comparative Religion, Mythology, and Hip-Hop. In addition to poetry, he is a lyrical performer for the rap group, “Warrior Monks.” His philosophical work, “The Sentiment,” was published through Jefferson Digital Commons in January 2019, and is available through the Jefferson Digital Archives. Find out more about Alexander at instagram.com/alexanderanthonythomas/ Emily Uduwana Emily Uduwana is an emerging poet based in Southern California. Her publications include work in Straylight Literary Magazine and Specter Magazine, with forthcoming pieces appearing in Miracle Monocle and The Owen Wister Review this year. Uduwana is currently working towards her PhD at the University of California, Riverside, where she studies gender history in the American West. Tracy Whiteside Tracy Whiteside is an internationally published Chicago-area photographer specializing in creative images for human and things that go bump in the night. Her work can be seen in over 50 different publications in just the last year. Check out her art portfolio at tracywhiteside.myportfolio.com. A photographer for Vol. 3 • Issue 2


over 15 years, Tracy works in many genres. You can enjoy her irrational mixed bag of images on Instagram @whitesidetracy Anne Wilding Anne Wilding is an English language teacher and writer from Essex, England who lives in the Basque Country. Her fiction is often inspired by the built or natural environment, or provoked by questions she feels uncomfortable exploring in real life. Her work is published in The Same, Montana Mouthful, 101 Words, Microfiction Mondays and on the podcast The Wireless Reader.

John Wojtowicz “Catfish” John Wojtowicz grew up working on his family’s azalea and rhododendron nursery in the backwoods of what Ginsberg dubbed “nowhere Zen New Jersey. He has been featured in the Philadelphia based Moonstone Poetry series, West-Chester based Livin’ on Luck series, and Rowan University’s Writer’s Roundtable on 89.7 WGLS-FM. Recent publications: Jelly Bucket, Tule Review, The Patterson Literary Review, Montana Mouthful, Driftwood, and Glassworks. Find out more: catfishjohnpoetry.com

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Montana Mouthful — The Great Outdoors  

Volume 3, Issue 2. “The Great Outdoors” is our seventh issue; we’ve been publishing just over two years, and we feel honored that so many pe...

Montana Mouthful — The Great Outdoors  

Volume 3, Issue 2. “The Great Outdoors” is our seventh issue; we’ve been publishing just over two years, and we feel honored that so many pe...