Vol. 5 Issue 19: The Tower

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the tower

Vol. 5 Issue 19 New HongLondon,York,Kong,Philippines

new reader magazine

Writers and Production Staff : Sarah Eroy, Regie Ann Vocales, Maebell Dayhop, Max Betonio, Nick Stephenson, Bryan Godwin Albura, Pia Bernadette Gabuya

Publicists : Neen Arcilla, Jam Abella

Layout Artist : Ronel Borres

COVER IMAGE

The Storm - Sabeeka

MARKETING AND ADVERTISING

CONTRIBUTORS

Researchers : Marjon Gonato, John Paul Vailoces, Ma. Fe Tabura

Bill Arnot, Shikha Bali, Lynn White,Bray Mcdonald, Stephanie Jones, Christy Prahl, Tuko Goes, Michael Lee Johnson, Sarah Stemp, Femke Huis,Tussii Stauffer, Ethan Hsiao, Jonathan Ukah, Bonnie Stanard, Wyatt Sheppard, Marcelo Medone,Teddy Burns, _theyellowhood_, Elinora Westfall, Larissa Monique Hauck, Karolina Mochniej (Arts from Cards), Yzelle Messinger

Richard Warren

Assistant Editor : Carl Jason Tabiolo

CREATIVE STAFF

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ISSN 2688-8181 All Rights Reserved

Managing Editor : Joseph Chino Castañares

September 2022 | Vol. 5 Issue 19

Atop a rocky mountain, The Tower, is suddenly illuminated in a blaze of fire as lightning strikes it. The entire tower begins to collapse after just one collision. Anything constructed on an unstable foundation will eventually crumble. This is The Tower’s message—the breaking down and ending. Don’t worry, though; everything is breaking apart to make place for something better and fresh. Be brave and accept the change.

like to sincerely thank you all for your unwavering support throughout the lifespan of our little publication. To the contributors that reached out to us, we could not have done it without you. Artists and writers may have come to NRM to seek out a platform for their craft, but in reality there would have never been a platform in the first place without you.

Chino

Dear Readers,

EDITOR’S NOTE Managing Editor

The publication team here at NRM ran through hell and back to finish this final issue. We hope that you would enjoy it as much as we enjoyed every last second preparing this for you guys, our supporters. Without further ado, we would like you to sit back, relax, and have a ball.

NRMpossible.would

We are saddened to tell you that Issue 19 will be the last publication for NRM. These past few days before publication have been challenging, as trials and tribulations arise within the confines of our little office. Nevertheless, we are proud to showcase the talented artists and writers that helped make this publication

CJ

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SARAH EROY

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ELINORA WESTFALL (untitled)

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Writer and Artist’s Corner

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Fenrir:Teeth views of a nelf wulf Widow

Then

MABS MABBY Thriving and Towering

A Synopsis of the Feast of Crows and the Followers of Carrion

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NICK STEPHENSON The Tower

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YZELLE MESSINGER Photography Collection (Each photo has its title)

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KAROLINA MOCHNIEJ Dreams

Contents

06 Excerpt from bestseller Bill Arnott’s new memoir, A Season on Vancouver Island

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BEN GOODING Everything Is a Storehouse of Inspiration

CHINO CASTAÑARES Louis Efron: A Poet amidst the Corporate

Mercedes at the Airport BONNIE STANARD The Impersonation of Walden Wynne WYATT SHEPPARD My Little World MARCELO MEDONE Name Your Sound TEDDY BURNS

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LARISSA The Offering The RatsMagician

MAX BETONIO Self-recognition

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Poetry Vicious Ripples of Life Sun Rise of the Divine

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MICHAEL LEE JOHNSON Friend of My Mind SARAH STEMP The Cherubim of Still Fruit, Finger Tips

FEMKE HUIS Mother TUSSII STAUFFER Home Is Where the Shipping Label Is ETHAN HSIAO The things we did in the dark and Now JONATHAN UKAH

Fiction

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STEPHANIE JONES Milky CHRISTY PRAHL Dead Dove: Do Not Eat Astra TUKO GOES Frogs

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SHIKHA BALI Lizard Lounging LYNN WHITE Benny Bigelow BRAY MCDONALD Known to Us

BILL ARNOT The Yellow Hood

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The

SOFIA MASSINI The Shift BEN GOODING The Tower

artwork by Karolina Mochniej

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Ten thousand horses rumble to life. With a diesel vibration, water churns into chop and a blue and white ferry shoves us into the strait, in the direction of Vancouver Island. On the other side of the water, Nanaimo. Snuneymuxw. Coast Salish land. A sense of connection is what I feel, gazing through open steel portals. The horses pick up their pace, trot to canter, as a ripple ricochets through rivets and railings. The result, a feeling of departure, and possibility.

It’s what I felt as a child, venturing into hills behind our home on a north arm of Okanagan Lake, bubbles of land carved by glaciers, the big lake fed by a narrow, deep creek. It was that

Bill Arnott’s Beat:

A feeling of departure, and possibility

Introduction

Contributor’s Corner

First things first. This is a part of the world that I love. Vancouver Island and its surrounding archipelago, British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, remain one of the planet’s most magical regions. When RMBooks publisher Don Gorman asked if I’d write a memoir about time spent here and include original visual art, not only was I delighted, but eager. Truth be told, I’d have created it anyway. Only now we can experience it together. Which is an incredible privilege, sharing vignettes and digitally painted photos, discovering new and

A SEASON ISLANDVANCOUVERON

familiar sites: forest, sea, the lands of Indigenous Nations. I’ve included a note as to names and transliteration, doing my best to accurately relay regional narratives. The result, I feel, is a time-bending present day journey, imagery of place and people, recollection of past while glimpsing the future. Meanwhile the star of this show, the Island, in fact each island and coast, continues to reveal remarkable, intimate secrets. It’s a sensory excursion I’m grateful and pleased to share. A season I hope enjoy.

About the Author: Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, Gone Viking II: Beyond Boundaries, and A Season on Vancouver Island. He’s been awarded by the ABF International Book Awards, Firebird Book Awards, Whistler Book Awards, received The Miramichi Reader’s Very Best Book Award for nonfiction, and for his expeditions Bill’s been granted a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society. When not trekking the globe with a small pack and journal, or showing off cooking skills as a culinary school dropout, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, making music and friends. @billarnott_aps

Now, aboard a westbound ferry, the day’s rolling out somewhat dreamily. The ferry is full, the first at capacity in months, and the crew’s a bit overwhelmed by an onslaught of passengers awaiting their Triple-O burgers, like kids released into summer following a particularly miserable winter. A winter that’s lasted two years.

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sense of departing on a grand adventure that’s never gone away, each time I’m off somewhere new. Even places familiar, for that matter, seen for the first time again. As a kid I’d pick a stick from the deadwood, pry my way through barbed wire like a wrestler entering the ring, and climb. Over the hill cattle grazed, and the land beyond that was orchard. It always smelled dry. Of course, I’d take care, watching for cow pies, rattlesnakes, and undetonated mortars. An army camp was across the lake, and a few decades ago the arid grass banks served as target practice, bombs lobbed across the water.

Tatters of cloud stream past as we venture west by southwest. Midway across the Salish Sea we pass our doppelganger going the opposite way, the visual striking. A weather front’s hanging in place at the halfway point of the crossing, a vertical line of rain and smudgy dark cloud, monochrome seascape in a rinse of blue-grey. I watch the ferry pass through the wall of weather, easing from dark to light, like Dorothy stepping from blustery Kansas to the technicolour of Oz. Unbeknownst to me we’re making our very own leap through a time-bending lens, as we’ve come for five weeks, but will go home in three months from now.

Bill Arnott’s Beat

Our vehicle is on an upper deck berth aboard the MV Queen of Cowichan and we’ve chosen to stay put, hunkering in our well-worn car with the aroma of road trips, fast food, and bare feet. Meanwhile, Horseshoe Bay’s showing off its photogenic cliffs and arbutus, copper-pistachio peelings of bark as though they’ve been outdoors too long, overdue for a coating of sunscreen. Bowen Island rises from sun-dappled water like a child’s likeness of a surfacing whale, a round hump of a back, the only things missing being flukes and a blowhole waterspout. Sounds and smells mingle, wafting amidst cars: cell phone chatter, sneaky second-hand smoke, laughter, coffee, the vibrating basso of ferry engine, and the inevitable bleat of a car alarm, its owner nowhere to be found.

NRM: Could you please give us a little background on who the author Patricia Said Adams is?

Patricia Said Adams: The Lord inspired me to start writing. I had never thought about being a writer, but I did find a lot of help in journaling what was going on in my heart and mind. As I hinted at above, the Lord kind of tricked me into writing by suggesting that I learn Spanish. And that led me to write about the spiritual life. So, here I am fourteen years later, still inspired by God to write what He suggests to me.

Patricia Said Adams: I hope that my readers are inspired not just to feed the poor and needy, but to get to know them and why their lives have come to be the way they are, to value them as children of God. The model of the kingdom of God is one of a community in which all people are valued and included. And that is what Jesus did particularly with the outcasts of society at that time. He healed, He listened to their stories, He fed them, He showed others how to be with those who were excluded, and He called upon the Pharisees of His time to drop their pretenses of “godliness” so that they could be one with the people they served.

Patricia Said Adams: Pat is a spiritual director, a blogger, and an author of four books whose lens is that of a spiritual director: how do I, how do we, live this life in Christ? I was a wife and mother for most of my adult life with no profession. I gave my life to Christ in my early forties and have followed Him ever Closesince.toretirement

Patricia Said Adams, author of the book Called to Help the Poor and Needy, composes a book that acts as a helping hand to the vulnerable through the words of God. Her vision greatly explains how an altruistic person lends a hand to those people in need, whether it involves personal ties or not, it is the concern for the well-being of others that matters the most. This book is given a detailed overview by the author herself, Patricia Said Adams.

age, I took a course in spiritual direction from the Mercy Center in Burlingame, California. Then, after my husband died in 2001, the Lord pointed me towards a career in writing through taking a course in Spanish which required me to write a paragraph in Spanish each week. At first, I wrote about all the things going on in my life, my kids and friends, but soon all I wanted to write about was living the spiritual life. As I moved to Charlotte NC in 2008, I was becoming a bi-lingual blogger with my tutor as my Spanish editor. She fell in late 2008 and could not work anymore, so I dropped the Spanish version. Since 2011, I have posted my blog every week. I published my first book, Thy Kingdom Come!, in 2015, Exodus: Our Story, Too!, in 2017, A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, and Called to Help the Poor and Needy in 2021.

NRM: What inspired you to start writing?

NRM: How does your book Called to Help the Poor and Needy help those people in faith practice acts of service, especially to the unfortunate ones or brothers and sisters in need?

READER MAGAZINE

Patricia Said Adams: I felt called by God to do a video about the poor and needy, but, as I looked into the subject, I knew that a video would not do it justice. Around the same time

Patricia Said Adams

INTVW by Nick Stephenson

Featured Author

NRM: What propelled you to gather these verses in new and old testaments covering the subject of helping those in need? What was the process of completing your book?

Featured Author

NRM: From your other books, Thy Kingdom Come!, Exodus: Our Story, Too!, and A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, what makes Called to Help the Poor and Needy similarly spiritually fulfilling but significantly different?

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I read that Rick, a long-time pastor had declared this: how could he not know that the Bible had more than 2000 verses about helping the poor and needy? So I began to read these verses and felt inspired to write this book. It just took time to identify the verses and the scope of what they talked about. Writing the book was about organizing the relevant verses and then commenting on what they mean today.

NRM: How can this primary theme of your book and as stated and demonstrated by God in the Bible, be an essential part of our lives? Is it simply just an act and our proof of obedience or does faith entirely anchor on this one noble act of helping others?

Patricia Said Adams: It is simply just an act and our proof of obedience or faith entirely anchored on this one noble act of helping others. We can believe in God and still not change our lives at all. But Jesus is calling us to follow Him, to use Him as our inspiration for what we do, to take care of people as we are called to by the Holy Spirit.

Each of us is called by God to act for Him in our world, to show His love and forgiveness. Each of us is called by Him to a purpose that He designed for us at our conception. All we need to do to follow Him faithfully is to listen to His suggestions and desires for us and then do what He asks of us. In this way, we will find what our purpose is and how we are to help people.

Up to this day, author Patricia Said Adams is a firm disciple of the Lord who continues to provide a light at the end of the tunnel for people who seek help and guidance. The meticulous research on Bible verses which provides an organized structure of the verses and the articulation of their meaning only proves her determination and perseverance. Adams continues to write for people to discover the love of God and expresses the value of compassion towards the outcasts of society.

Patricia Said Adams: The first one about the kingdom of God was more of a description of all that the Bible says about the kingdom of God. In the Exodus book, I sought to bring that story up to date in our lives today. The study guide is a weekby-week guide to all that Matthew chapters 5-7 say in the best summary of Jesus’s teaching. Called to Help the Poor and Needy details what the Bible says in the 2,000 verses about this major theme and then suggests ways to follow Jesus in helping others. Hopefully, it will inspire the readers to faithfully follow Jesus into the purpose that the Lord created them for, that will fulfill their lives.

Artist Profile

”Art is Art”

“All it takes is a pen and a paper and the hunger for creating something”

Feature

Artist’s Advice

At this point in time, Sabeeka, is just getting started in her endeavors. For many of you reading and for those aspiring to pursue the arts, be it as a career path or personal hobby, we asked what pieces of advice she can share.

Sabeeka usually makes her pieces over the weekends or during vacations. Because she is mainly busy with her academic endeavors. She juggles her education and love for the arts by managing her time; that’s also the reason why she prefers the digital arts.

Origins

HoodYellowThe

She started pursuing her craft over two years ago; as she was painting on her phone during quarantine, one thing led to another. From illustrating simple moments of daily life to fantasy, Sabeeka wants to be able to tell stories through her craft.

“If you have the love for “creating” and you are willing to learn along the way, then just do it! Start somewhere. You don’t need to be “gifted” to pursue art. What matters the most is that you have the desire to *create* something”

Among her many pieces, “The Modern Diet” and “Snacktime”, are her favorite works. She doesn’t stick with a particular feeling or emotion when creating her works, but rather she lets every piece have its own vibe.

“It saves me a lot of time as I don’t have to buy a lot of art supplies,I can make art anywhere and whenever I feel like it, which makes it easier to manage time as a dental student.”

As for those who do not have the luxury to do so or, but dreams to be an artist.

“It saves me a lot of time as I don’t have to buy a lot of art supplies,I can make art anywhere and whenever I feel like it, which makes it easier to manage time as a dental student.”

describes her craft as modern, stylised, and anime-ish; usually applying 2D digital painting and concept art. Sometimes she studies works of other artists or seeks out inspiration from the real world, and from her experiences. When getting overwhelmed or when “artist block” sets in; she takes a break.

_theyellow_ is truly a gifted artist that, like you, is a normal person with her own personal challenges and goals. As she struggles to juggle her time being an artist and a student; she still continues to make and share her craft.

HoodYellowThe

A self-taught 2D artist while being a full time dental student fueled by french fries and convenience store cola in Lahore, Pakistan— Sabeeka, a.k.a. “_theyellowhood_” paints mostly landscapes and background illustrations as she uses light and sceneries as her

Starting out, she wanted to make comics; thus, she created a unique and recognisable character— Yellowhood, one of her original creations—a simple yet identifiable character with a straightforward color palette, and a clear silhouette was born.

subject.She

*Insert Mr.Incredible meme*

“If you have the love for “creating” and you are willing to learn along the way, then just do it! Start somewhere. You don’t need to be “gifted” to pursue art. What matters the most is that you have the desire to *create* something”

“All it takes is a pen and a paper and the hunger for creating something”

INTRVW BY CHINO CASTAÑARES

Inspired by modern artists through a modern platform; digital illustrators like: Devin Elle Kurtz, Atey Ghailan, Pascal Campion, Simz, Alariko, Loish. Whose art styles are visually striking, portrays a wide range of emotions. Sabeeka (who is still looking for art style) displays the same kind of spectacle that of her idols.

You can follow and support through her socials @_ theyellowhood_ and through her patreon: www.patreon.com/_ theyellowhood_. You can also view her craft on: www.artstation. com/sabeekajavaid9 and www.pinterest.com/javaidsabeeka/

In the end, Sabeeka didn’t have any words of inspiration, but she’d like to say the following:

LOUIS EFRON: AAMIDSTPOET COPORATETHE

However, some people have been able to juggle the distinctive realities of the art and corporate world. Take, for instance, Louis Efron and his life as a writer, poet, and senior corporate consultant and we might be able to gain a brand new overview of our life as we currently know it.

I am a creator and builder. From my lifelong love of Legos and models to my writing, theatrical, and corporate culture work, I have a passion for using materials, words, and people to draw out emotions. The ability to create laughter, tears, thoughts, and action from my artistic and business endeavors is key to who I am.

At one point, when we were kids, we were fascinated by the world. And such fascination, to some extent, has influenced our artistic endeavors.

INTRVW BY BEN GOODING

Fast forward to adulthood, and, although circumstances vary, life can get too hectic and worse; it can be so rough that it slams us with the hardest ‘reality slap’ imaginable. Thus, leaving us with an unfulfilled existence that seemingly has no purpose.

Often, what we were ultimately passionate about as a child would stick on to us as we grow up. The challenge

For me, poetry is the ultimate word puzzle, a way for me to create and build something lasting and beautiful that has the power to emotionally move readers using strategically placed and thoughtful words on a page.

Louis’s love for poetry is key to his success in the present. While poetry may not be directly involved in his profession as a corporate consultant, it paved the way for him to other artistic endeavors such as theater. Creative writing also molded him to be prepared for corporate work culture, and other forms of written media such as writing features and books that center on finding one’s purpose. He aims to guide other people into finding their purpose in this world for he is a firm believer that a meaningful life is one that is driven by purpose aligned with passion.

Writing and creating are endeavors core to my being and part of my purpose, what I love to do, and the way I emote. I have also sought out opportunities in my work where writing is a part of my daily activities and I commonly write articles that incorporate storytelling as part of the way I make my living.

With that said, writing/creating never stopped for Louis even when he became a corporate consultant for Fortune 500 companies. It was in managing people where he was able to gain additional inspiration for his writing. With an exceptional record as a writer, he is currently with a plethora of columns & articles that promote a purpose-driven culture in workplaces regardless of what industry and has been featured in various news aggregators local or international.

While choosing which career path to take can be a dilemma, it was quite spontaneous for Louis. At first glance, the path of business seems to deviate from the creative industry of theater. Still, Louis found his niche of being a theater manager which greatly aided him in fitting in just right within the corporate world.

Our life is not a rehearsal, it is a performance, so we must make it count by doing what we love and are most passionate about as much as possible. While I have had many successes in life, they have not come without my fair share of failures, setbacks, course corrections, and hard work.

I have always loved the written word and expressing myself through writing. Since I was able to hold a writing instrument, I have been creating short stories and poems. Poetry has been a part of my life and I do it for at least a short while every day.

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Louis Efron envisions a world where humanity works together for our common good driven by a sense of love and purpose. It is shown within his authored books along with his pursuits in life the ways in how he wants to create an impact on people around him and the entire world. He aspires to leave this world a better place than when he first came in.

To this day, Louis still writes features and continues to teach and inspire other people through his profession and capability as a writer. He encourages people to be bold, but not rash when it comes to finding purpose. Purpose is not something we gain in linear progress but through a plethora of ups and downs, and changes in perspective. Like so, we must never be afraid to shed and rebuild when such time calls for it. For even in the most extreme discomfort comes the catalyst for greater change.Feature

is exercising that passion once things get too grounded and responsibilities start to let their weight be felt. And more often than not, we’d come to the point where we would have to decide between passion and practicality. Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. Louis has somehow figured the key to having his passion and work complement each other like bread and butter. And for Louis, it all started with poetry.

For me, individual purpose is why we are here on this planet. Why we were born and what we were meant to leave behind. I also really like the Aristotle definition of individual purpose, “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross.” As we only have one life to live in our current form on Earth, knowing and understanding our purpose and aligning our work and endeavors accordingly makes our life more meaningful.

Like most of us, Louis found his passion at a young age. It has always been the continuous practice of writing that kept him going. He started from writing simple poems to his grandmothers to winning a creative writing contest as young as the age of 10. That passion still burns to this day as Louis makes sure to continue writing poetry even for at least a short while every day.

Purpose can be a delicate thing. At one moment, we would think that we’ve got it all figured out, yet, in the next moment, everything just feels out of place. However, it is indeed a part of the process. Finding one’s purpose is a journey full of experimentation, contemplation, risks, failures, setbacks, and the like. And what makes it beautiful is that once we find our ‘sure purpose’, it doesn’t just end there. From there on out, it’s all about exercising that purpose to create an impact to our community.

While it may not appear obvious, my transition between theater director, producer, and manager to corporate leader was a natural one. In the world of theater, there are employees, customers, products, marketing, and sales. As a theater manager, I was doing everything I do in the corporate world today, including managing multi-million-dollar budgets.

INTRVW BY CJ Profile

Artist

14 | NEW READER MAGAZINE

literature.Getting

It is by convention that we go on our daily lives experiencing things as they are. From the thrills of the morning air or the inviting scent of an afternoon coffee, all things mundane often remain solely within our senses.

However, for someone like John Sibley Williams, he shares, ”...I believe everything is a storehouse of inspiration. “

It is fascinating and truly imposing to have the mind of a writing virtuoso and twenty-seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee (along with other multiple awards) indulging NRM with how he translates his perception of things into compelling

started, John hasn’t always been into poetry until he was 21. As he remembers it, it was in the summer and by a lake where he first had his poetic recognition of things around him. There were “Impressions” as he describes it along with other things.

Everything Is a ofStorehouseInspiration

He has a few notes when beginning to write. John starts with a single image, idea, or theme from which he begins to weave a world around it. This is important in his process as he finds his poem’s story to be more organic and convincing if he lets this single random thing find its voice. From the poem’s form aside, another key element that defines his style of poetry is how particular he is with its sound. “Poems are music”, according to him and it shows how he appreciates language’s ability to communicate, be it by message or tone. He harnesses this by making use of language’s internal inflections, rhythms, and cadences that can only be recognized when read aloud.

“What was it? Impressions. Colors. Emotions. Strange images. I didn’t have any paper, so I used a marker to write a series of phrases on my arm. “

Being a writer, he takes a lot of his inspiration from a wide range of themes such as family, tradition, art, culture, history, politics, landscapes, and seasons with differing approaches from narrative to prose poems. It is in his layered metaphors and the innate use of the musicality of language that express his concept’s shareable, universal experience—all of which translates into his poems’ form and sound carrying a resonance beyond literal and figurative meanings.

“I have multiple notebooks filled with individual lines, words, images without context, and I tend to flip through these while writing to see if any previous little inspirations might tie into the new world”

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It helps that John has been banking his ideas from the momentous sparks he finds in everyday life. With that, being a parent does not stop him from busying his hands with writing his poems in their raw, rudimentary form. He does so by always carrying a pocket notebook, every day without mistake. This routine results in him with a notebook-ful of phrases and images splayed out before him. As he puts it, this routine’s goal is finding connective tissue, loose threads, and unexpected contents, from which a poem may emerge.

“I cannot pretend I don’t live in a tumultuous world where people repeat the same mistakes, often with violent consequences.”

His writings have always helped him make sense of the world’s entropy as the poems he writes about are a release on the themes he mentioned. To release such rich and careful experience, it is in sparking a conversation and creating a fresh connection that is his intention with writing. He allows his readers to contemplate how they attach, perceive, live amidst culture and politics, interact with landscapes, and feel hurt and healing.

Even among the complex structures and themes of literature, John roots his works on human attachments and disconnects—the way things interact with things. His works are an art emanating from how man identifies with the living and inanimate or the abstract.

He still has not strayed from his love of poetry and continues to read and work with other poets. A mere setback from pursuing writing: “I’m just having some continued trouble finding words for my own experiences. But this will pass…I can feel something akin to inspiration slowly blooming inside.”, as John puts it. With that, all hope is not lost, especially for someone as accomplished of an author as he is.

The effect of the pandemic on his writing is not something new to John as he has experienced getting creatively stalled before. He takes these setbacks in writing as nothing but

“It all depends on the author’s curiosity…from overheard conversations and history, from memories and mythology and the way a bridge sways against the sky and my son’s hand brushing against mine…from weather patterns and animals and cityscapes and rivers and the bridges that span them. And sometimes ideas seem to materialize from the ether, as if they never existed until that moment. “

“I don’t have a specific location or time of day, especially now that I’m a parent. I must steal every moment I can. However, even before fatherhood, I found that ideas and phrases and images emerge at the oddest times”

Briefly, he shares with NRMagazine how the pandemic has been different for him as a writer. The emergence of such a general crisis and problems from COVID-19 may be a loot of many ideas to write about, but its negative effect on people certainly cannot be denied. This is what happened with John, as he shares, “...my experience has been quite different. Partly due to health and political fears, partly because my kids have been home so much more due to school closures and family illnesses, and partly because my twins have recently been diagnosed with neurodivergent disorders, the past few years have taken a toll on my own writing.”

John is a Boston native but has lived in Portland, Oregon for about 12 years now. As a parent, he enjoys a large part of his life staying with the family. The situation of his family right now is in an adorably mixed environment. He has two beautiful daughters (part-Japanese) and one is transgender from which he makes an effort to understand more and be sensitive toward the community. He describes it as, “a lot of interesting mixes in our house.”.

Featurea

Surreal and confusing, that moment remains as a marker in his mind where he awakened his writer’s eye. An eye for seeing things differently and uniquely his own. Since then, poetry has become his obsession and is now his life’s work 19 years forward.

fully needed break. The breaks he takes are those that allow him to revisit his hobbies and interests, allowing him to rest completely while also accumulating inspiration from the nonliterary world. To get back into writing, he usually tries to feel intuitive if the need to write is present. He does get back into writing in this way as he shares, “...as a warm up, I tend to write a few choppy, rather poor poems that no one will ever see. Then, hopefully, the better writing returns in full force.”

“I’ve taught middle and high school. I’ve worked for a small publisher. I’ve struggled through a few non-creative office jobs.”

It serves as a reminder that reality always takes its course, regardless of what degree or path you choose. His being in and out of the creative field serves as a reminder of this. Slowly and eventually in a non-linear way, and like John, those who persevere will always be back on track. Today, he cobbles

John reminds us that the work of being in the industry of writing is not an easy task. To add, a creative professional life, as he puts it, is as complicated as starting with a single poem or story where you go on with a first critique, first edited manuscript, first design book, first attempt at marketing, and first workshop. Poets and writers can get around by learning as they go. As such, one should be reminded of keeping track of your growing skills and taking into consideration what can be translated to employment.

“You need to study as many books as possible from authors of various genres and from various cultures. Listen to their voices.”

together a professional life from workshops, book coaching, poetry critiquing, serving as a guest editor in Kelson Books, and much more relevant to his path of choice.

Artist Profile

Impact on a larger scale, as he sees it, is not something that can be acquired by anyone and is within his acceptance. To John, there are simply many incredible poets out there yet are subject to the reality which only a handful will likely be read in a generation or two. He addresses this subject by saying, “Hopefully in the hearts of my children, of course, but not likely the public. And, difficult as it is for me to say it, that’s okay. That’s how it’s meant to be.”. Instead, he shares that our motivation should be on moving or touching other people’s lives as he adds, “I hope my work moves people to question, converse, break, and heal while I am here. Every little bit of good we do is a bit more good in the world.”.

“Pertaining to my impact, that’s a profound question with no easy answer. Although I’d love to make some grand statement here, I’m under no illusions that I will be remembered as a poet when I’m gone. ”

“...I approach my other creative endeavors with the same perspective. I love language. I love teaching. I love to assist poets and authors on their road toward publication. So, I try to do as much as I can to further my own studies through my work assisting others.”

Founder of Caesura Poetry Workshop, John is no stranger in assisting other poets(and those who aspire to be). The workshop aims not to give a name to John himself but solely to assist poets and give prominence to poetry in our culture. By any means which he can and the scope he has available, he intends to allow writers to see poems breathe on their own, separated from intent and ego.

“As to advice, I would say keep growing your community. Keep adding new skillsets. Think outside the box in terms of the kinds of creative assistance you can offer others. And be very patient yet very persistent. ”

To end the interview, John leaves with us some advice for emerging writers which is to stick with the old “keep writing, keep reading”. He recommends developing one’s arsenal of various information and an eye for seeing language in how they’re manipulated by other authors. He remarks to read other books beyond just satisfaction: appreciate the themes and structure and take note of their recurring linguistic tools. Your study should coincide with writing—in a notebook, every moment and everywhere.

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Looking back, John hasn’t always been that guy living off of his creativity. He had numerous jobs relevant and outside the creative realm.

N R

R M

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ofRipplesViciousLife

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SHIKHA BALI

Shikha Bali is currently working as Research Scholar at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra, J&K, India. She is new to the writing field. As a research scholar, she has published various research papers in IEEE and Springer journals. She is in the process of writing and publishing a PhD thesis.

I threw a pebble,Assmall as it could be. Thinking it would sink down, As deep as it could be. Though it formed ripples, Growing bigger, moving all over the sea. The pebble sank down and the ripples remained, Never gone from the sea. And it came back over, As ripples moved towards me. Deep scar of the hurt, Pebble had caused to the sea.

Literary Work

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Countless Suns reside in the sky, Million more are the Moons

SHIKHA BALI

As intense it is, to be God-like Deep sorrow for the humanity fading As people glazes only the flashy sight. Clear the mind, look upto the real away Who never fades, shines more bright Because beauty arises within Not capturing from outside

Borrowing light, pretentious to be suns Fade away, revealing the truth soon. More beautiful though they seem, Reflecting others, as the darker side seen. How long would they pretend! How many would they tempt! Hoarding other’s light Boasted for their highlights! The Sun, however, continues to shine. No matter one notices its glorious divine. It glows its own beauty, Ceaselessly burning inside. Tremendous heat it generates Enormous strength and patience reside To Enlighten the world To Glorify the day In its luminescence, nature blooms Its brightness beautifies many moons I bow to you, the worthy ones

The Sun

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Even in the worst circumstances He could feel the subtler inside Thus, putting love first He kept the humanity alive Inhuman though, people treated him Considered insane and blamed for things not right He took all of it upon him And let all happily survive It’s when the worst took over him Couldn’t make anyone realize He even let them loose him Went forever with love for all inside The One among all Who always stood for the right The ones who never understood Called him the Divine

SHIKHA BALI

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Rise of the Divine

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LYNN WHITE

The lizard ran out Hequickly.saton a rock and looked up checkingslowly the progress of the sun. It suited him so he stayed and soakingstayedup the warmth reserving his energy onlybutRelaxedrelaxing.alertmoving

LoungingLizard

when disturbed by food or movingdangerquickly then to pounce or head ifonwillingintostraightknowingbackhispathbackhishideawaytoloseatailthewaynecessary.

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At fourteen Benny doodled passive-aggressive artwork in red ink along the margins of all his boring books

His desperate and distorted desires ran deeper than his naïve understanding of them as he sought light in his realm of dark.

(The immorality of the innocent can be considerable. The least of intentions can have a fundamental impact on Athem.relatively

The wheat-field was tall enough to hide in for a freckled face nine-year old boy adverse to being found.

Benny had no fear of death and was good with God as each respected the fact the other didn’t exist and they agreed on everything important about humanity and the absurdness of a conscious mind.

1.

small gesture could entirely obliterate years of trust.)

Attitudes of good and evil rested in the nest of his ignorance as he reveled in his savagery like a young lion on the prowl.

The sun shone down on the red-neck and bare-feet of a child young enough to have an amoral view of ethics.

Safe for the moment he seethed in his rage as he attempted to placate his panic and quell the riot of his fear.

letting his mind drift through the barriers that others had built to corral and conform his spirit.

Bray Mcdonald

3.

Born bipedal and peregrinate Benny Bigelow talked big and walked bold and made his way in the world by bullying and waging war on his heritage.

A spiritual revolt born out of annoyance would rage for miles and lay waste to his manufactured landscape of hope.

His demons would break their silence and explode when confronting a problem that didn’t play fair.

His inheritance sprouted from crass roots embroidered with cancerous nodes and cankers. His future chain-linked to his parent’s prosaic past.

BENNY BIGELOW

Benny disappointed everyone he met. But he didn’t think much about it because he had been disappointed by everyone he met.

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The length of his nuance extended his well-being beyond the reach of what held him to his home.

Bray McDonald is a poet and environmentalist. Mr. McDonald has been published in numerous journals in the U. S. and Europe including ‘Blue Collar Review’, ‘California Quarterly’, ‘The Cape Rock’, ‘Dash’, ‘I-70 Review’, ‘Rockhurst Review’, ‘Third Wednesday’, ‘Chiron Review’, ‘Adelaide Literary Magazine’, ‘Nod’ (Can.); and “Between These Shores Anthology”, “Gold Dust” in the UK and The Transnational (Ger.). He also has poetry forthcoming in ‘Harbinger Asylum’, ‘Evening Street Review’, ‘Plainsongs’ and “Colere”

He inflected a rebellious desire to break from any confine that stifled his passion to leave the familiar path to explore the mysteries and unknowns of his existence.

He cast aside what had failed him and learned to live with the guilt of knowing the grief he inflected upon the spirit of those he failed.

2.

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birdsearthwardeyes.they’veyourcan’tYouseetearsuntilfallenfromyourBythen,summonedbygravityasinjuredsea-changedinmidair,theyaren’ttearsanymore.Shadowsonpavement,spotsonasofaorjustgone.WhenAlicewassweptthroughthekeyholebythewillofanocean,bywhatbeganinglandsbelowherbrowandblottedacrosshercorneasindeferentialblinks,shescarcelyrecognizedwhatsalvationshecreatedfromherowndespair.

Stephanie Jones writes features for DownBeat, JazzTimes, and NPR Music. Her poetry and micro-fiction appear in Stone Poetry Quarterly and 50-Word Stories. She received her first poetry commission from Blue Note Records for pianist Gerald Clayton’s 2022 release Bells on Sand, and currently teaches at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. She lives in New York and dreams of LA.

Poetry NEW READER MAGAZINE | 35

Known to Us

STEPHANIE JONES

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Cipher for the other things I can’t seem to get right. How do you get a cake to rise in a pan? How do you set this ringer to silent? How does a body hold a baby?

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Christy Prahl

There’s a density to what I fail to know. It could fit in a ship, fill the acreage of the gardens that hold this building where we’ve all come, all of us –to be in our sadness together.

Christy Prahl is the author of the collection We Are Reckless, forthcoming from Cornerstone Press. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, her past and future publications include the Eastern Iowa Review, Peatsmoke Journal, Passengers Journal, West Trestle Review, and others. She has enjoyed residencies at both Ragdale and the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow and is the founder of the PenRF reading series. She splits her time between Chicago and rural Michigan and appreciates subways and siloes in equal measure. More of her work can be found at https://christyprahl.wixsite.com/christy-prahl.

In the cities there may be a thrum, but itaway,here,islonely in the stillborn blanket of the thing.

MILKY

Yes, that’s the one.

Overhead, a moon, glaring. A bright light that may be Jupiter. Stars strung together like diamonds in the teeth. Children can see them, drawing lines between that make dead astronomers articulate again.

They’ve told us to let go and they’ll catch us before our backs hit the linoleum, eventually packing us off with our cargoes of loss to figure out how to exist in the quiet, reckless mornings and the gravity.

A clear morning before the sun is air without weather. Without oversight. Just . . . super novas. Planets. They fall sometimes, pulled akimbo by satellites, whatsurveyingfeels like the last person left in the world.

shapes are all wrong. No cup. No archer. The zinnia. The biplane. The catastrophe.

ButExactly.my

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Tuko Goes

Tuko Goes is a Senior at Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson, Arizona. His work mostly focuses on exploration of queer immigrant identities, and interpersonal connections. He hopes to pursue creative writing going into University.

I don’t remember who left me here, Did you do this to me? Did I do this to myself? Spores rip from my chest, A grotesque cacophony, hideous and Savory. Decay is but an extant form of life.

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I am the bird, dead in a bag. My Body is fragile and broken, I turn away from it too. Vile and flawed, your hand on my Shoulder, I press my palm to your back. What is the nature of Inheritance?

To tear off my flesh and find beetles beneath it, Mushrooms grow out of my capillaries. I look in the mirror but you stare back, What shoes am I stepping into?

DEAD DOVE: DO NOT EAT

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was something I could understand.

You tell me Orion was a hunter. One who wanted to make game out of every beast. This hubris angered the gods, who’d come to send a creature he couldn’t conquer. Scorpius. Of course, our hunter is slain, but he defeats the monster. You say it was then, for their hardship, for their hatred. And maybe for the sweet sadness found in inevitability, the gods decided to honor them both in the stars. Destined to chase after each other through the night eternally. Orion in the winter, Scorpius in the summer. Never together but always seeking one an

Iother.feltthat

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What secrets are wrapped up under your muscles, in the hol low of your ribs?

AD ASTRA

Your pastel is misshapen at best and a clay project gone wrong at worst. They’re clumsily pinched together, despite your careful ministrations. Shaky hands betray where you rolled the dough unevenly. You prod at one, and the tip of your fingernail snags and punctures the dough, bits of meat and cheese stick out. By comparison, mine are fairly uniform and put “Everything“It’s“Lookstogether.Good,”notperfect.”youmake is good enough.”

I edge closer to you than I should have dared. You lay your head against my chest. There are no secrets under your bones, muscles, as foreign as they are, are things I already know. Your tight breathing cascades into a laugh. And your joy tastes like praise that sings in my bones. No secrets to unburden, no passages to reveal. There is no beginning or end between the two of us.

Hands running through hair, pressing fingers to your chest. We lay on the grass, gazing at the stars. Your voice is saccharine, waxing and waning the myth of Orion. Your body is warm, and I feel the thrum of your pulse beneath mine. I’ve Always been fascinated by bodies. Blood pumping through your arteries, a heady rush buzzing through your head. Breath in the momen tary relief of living. Both our hearts flutter. Despite the darkness I imagine the capillaries on your cheeks expanding, bringing color to your skin.

Tuko Goes

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“Grow grass, stone writtenfrogs,”onbathroom walls. Hippie beads, oodles colorful acid pills in dresser drawers no kaleidoscopeclothes, condoms, ostentatious sex. No Bibles or Sundays that anyone remembers. Rochdale College, Toronto, Ontario 1972, freedom school, free education. Makes no sense, when you’re high on a song “American Women” blasting eardrums and police sirens come on.

Frogs

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MICHAEL LEE JOHNSON

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada, during the Vietnam era. Today he is a poet in the greater Chicagoland area, IL. He has 259 YouTube poetry videos. Michael Lee Johnson is an internationally published poet in 44 countries, several published poetry books, nominated for 4 Pushcart Prize awards and 5 Best of the Net nominations. He is editorin-chief of 3 poetry anthologies, all available on Amazon, and has several poetry books and chapbooks. He has over 443 published poems. Michael is the administrator of 6 Facebook Poetry groups and a member of the Illinois State Poetry Society: http://www.illinoispoets.org/. Do not forget to consider him for the Best of the Net or Pushcart nomination!

Literary Work

I am in the habit of you, and sometimes able to, my soft parts, tenderly. Things that have to do with enlargement. What had been required of you. If I had not submitted, nowhere. Also, what you yourself went through affects Weinterpenetration:investigateeach other’s bearings. Things come up between us, wide. I am glad this journey with you, you said. Sometimes, with you, I luminate. Abiding.

If it dread, if it darken, if fall to ruin, you will do, this too, the next thing…over time. Now one foot now the other. Now late, even. I am keeper of undermined, you are patient.

All of us, any of us, you said, I wasn’t born this way.

You, a tree, in me, over time.

Friend of My Mind

Sarah Stemp is a poet and psychologist/psychoanalyst in New York City. She has published poetry on various topics related to the role of grief and mourning in the creation of something new.

I met you in the district of rain, the tears of things. Later than we might have known, but both still vivid.

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Friend of my mind: We restore ancient things, sweet, salt, & bitter. We bring things back and back. The dark is big.

I, Seeunbuilt.how the thickening clouds yield light snow. Why am I unseasonably cool?

SARAH STEMP

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Femke Huis is an Albertan-based artist and graduate of the Alberta University of the Arts. They are a mixed media visual artist and writer focusing on themes of transference, environmental justice, science fiction, and narrative. Femke has a community base focus seeking to use their practice to build community and bring the community together through the mean of expression and vulnerability. Their work can be found at www.femkehuis.com

He imagines the chalk drawings made on uneven pavement and watches as it is washed away by rain.

A fruit fly perches itself on the apple slice and lifts its leg like a Heballerina.begins to paint.

The painter cleans his worn-out brush and covers it in old oils left in a broken coffee cup. Using his lips as a comb, he presses down the hair of his old gristle bristled brush bringing it to a fine point. He pulls out a half-empty brown paper bag. Removing from it a bottle of fine red wine, a bundle of yellow bananas, an apple, and a single grape he plucked from the vine without the store clerk noticing. He pulls out an uneven stool, placing it in the center of the room, and ornates it with a flower embroidered tea cloth. Then he pours himself a glass of wine, sips it, and lets the oils on his lips stick to the rim of the glass. He then places it on the stool with the wine bottle behind it. He takes the grape, cuts halfway through it, places it on the rim of the glass ensuring not to obscure his lip’s markings. He takes the bananas, rips off two, and places them on the stool with the ends just barely touching the stem of the glass. He then takes the apple, cuts two slices, eats one, and places the apple and remaining slice on the stool in front of everything else. He takes out his easel and canvas, measures the scene with his paintbrush, and closes his eyes. Flies appear in the darkness behind his eyelids Cherubim of heavenly stars shooting stars through the skies beckoned by the sweet smell of fresh fruit.

Femke Huis

He waltzes through his childhood memories as he learned to shave and then learned to shave again when his face started to sag. He watched as all his loved one Hedecayed.opens his eyes the bananas had browned the apple had withered the grape and fallen, one half floating in the wine the other staining the tea cloth

THE CHERUBIM OF STILL FRUIT

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To allow the flies to plant their crop. Everlasting cityscapes and strange shapes With every little-death that it takes to perpetuate it is as dead as it is alive And the corpse of a place is a theruin folks of places become scavengers everything that once stood tall becomes a fiction of its own atime,story, a tale, a rhyme an imagined history for us to read to aspire to be.

become Carrion.

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They who straddle the line of life and death and through consumption, siphon the strength of the slow decay of all andthingsin that act, morph death into a momentary prolonging of subtle falls until the hunger calls once more.

A ruin into carrion. and with snapping sinew, squelching skin, brittle bone, and tales as old as lies Butrecycled.there is a point where everything becomes unusable And Whereintangibleourfeasts slip through our hands like AndDeathLifeTimeLoveWindSandWaterwe

At least until the life transfers to corpses. The definition of a corpse is a factor of relative perspective. The vulture sees the garden of Eden in mass graves, the body becomes the soil for sprouting seeds the moment its life-giving functions end

Carrion: the dead petrifying flesh usually of an animal. Carrion crows, vultures, and even some carnivorous animals all have the unique ability to consume, digest, and sometimes subsist on carrion.

Once more, they must straddle the back of the unmoving corpse, Bite down hard, and pull off the flesh. snapping sinew, squelching skin, and brittle bone all shifting under the weight of gnawing gnashing teeth. Death to be churned in their acidic stomachs and burned into Theselife. followers of carrion are acolytes of transference, of dead things to individual life

Of the slow end of an old song into the crescendo of a new Aone.ruin into budding trees and a picturesque world with life, but without corpses

A Synopsis of the Feast of Crows and the Followers of Carrion

Femke Huis

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Mother TUTUSSAQ STAUFFER

Tutussaq Stauffer is an Indigenous poet and author. She likes to write about being a member of the LGBT community and also about her Yup’ik heritage.

you forgot me now, but i have always loved you, and never will i stop. from day one, i loved you.

from day one, i loved you. i showed you how to take the greens, how to pack the ice, how to pick the berries and cut the fish. there, there. make sure to sever the meat, from the bones.

i loved you from day two. when i showed you how to cut the seal skin, stitch it together, and make clothes, so that you would survive. aa, it’s so cold. do we have, anything to eat?

i loved you from day three. when you started to forget, the reasons for the ceremonies, the reasons for the masks, the reasons i love you. mama says that, i need to forget who you are. i don’t want to, then don’t, but they’ll cut out my tongue if i don’t, and bleed me dry in the sun, like the caribou.

i just wish that i loved you,too.

READER MAGAZINE

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Ethan Hsiao is a poet and student who resides in Las Vegas, Nevada and studies in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Appreciative of his Taiwanese heritage, he draws his inspiration from cultural themes and a passion for social justice. Ethan’s work has previously appeared on exhibit at the Springs Preserve. In his free time, he can be found listening to ballads or pouring milk before the cereal.

Though I crease the cardboard eastward, my hands cannot help clinging: they are ospreys mid-dive to water’s edge, lapping at the lune as it passes into dawn.

In the image of prayer, my palms feign unruly disobedienttape, scissors; crimes of desperate artistry to delay the finality of a stamp: desiderium. Empty space collapses in on itself, so I fill with packing peanuts or courage; “bedroom 2” on the driveway, I lack the will to leave.

ETHAN HSIAO

Home LabelShippingWhereIstheIs

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JONATHAN UKAH

Jonathan Ukah is a graduate of English and German Law living in England. His poems have appeared in various literary publications and anthologies.

The Things We Did in the Dark

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Our teeth clattered in the candlelight Where we sat huddled in my mother’s kitchen, We played with the splinters, the embers And pelted our feet into each other’s thighs, Our blood warmed by our co-joined hands As we wrapped ourselves with the night’s shawl.

Then a silhouette crept in and whispered to us with a spine-chilling, and blood-curdling voice, Like the spooky razzle of Medusa’s hair Hanging on the bloody shield of Athena, Unwinding the innocence that held us together And unwrapping the veil that held us hostage.

We turned to face each other with inspired horror, Like children learning to milk a reluctant cow With faces marred by the shape of the night; Subdued by the blunt and eerie silence, We did not know when we shot the shuttlecock, Grimacing in grief after our first kiss.

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Now I know miracles of comfort and relief Since I can hear the birds singing, A scratch of a wing falling on the ground, A rustle of flowers, the crack of a bone, Through the din of these meteoric objects That whizz past my house every second; Imperfect as I am, a dreamer to the bone, I shall sing of miracles and the coming time, When mosquitoes will no longer scratch us, And our blood will not spill in vain But pumps up strength for fresh tomorrow.

andThenNow

I grew up surrounded by mosquito nets, Which my father was able to afford, When my eldest sister married a slender man, Who was not too thin to clothe us in gauze, Chest-baring, teeth-clenching, waist-bending, To empty his hidden pockets in my shaking palms; My mother’s voice rose above the din Of the rain pattering our roof like bullets, And the droning party of mosquitoes halted My mother’s swarm of joy at a bit of mercy.

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JONATHAN UKAH

I grew up knowing the putrid back of a house, Where dirt straddled the shabby neighbourhood, And wide gullies carved unassailable chasms; Where memory and dreams stopped, halted, Between noise percussion and forlorn resignation; Where pain, a sweet needle, came like sleep, Drowning my cries and screams of agony.

I had a respite from their bitter battle, sucking glee, Though my skin turned itchy, twitchy, and cracked, My blood chilled by the blizzard of the Sahara.

It was a miracle I had malaria once a season, Feasted upon like bees to a honeycomb, or voracious vultures on a chicken carcass; When mosquitoes feasted on my bloody skin, Grinding it to blood, sick and wounded, And the fires of Harmattan silence mosquitoes.

LiterarySTANARDWork

In the duplex Ray rented for them, the china cupboard with the empty shelf depresses her. Is it possible to be more disappointed in losing your wine glasses than in losing your husband? As husbands go, and hers has gone, Ray had been anything but predictable. But that had been a part of his appeal.

Z

She walks through the Grand Place toward the parking garage. On moving to Brussels she often visited the square of steepled buildings in the center of the city. The cobblestone streets and ancient buildings show a people’s pride in age. Even today a broad sweep of soot from ancient fires sheets the city and remains untouched.

elda has just sold her set of Villeroy & Boch wine glasses to Bouquinerie Armand for a fraction of their value. If her French had been better, she might have negotiated a higher price. In any case, it’s better than she’d get at the Jeu de Balle.

The square looks inward from gothic towers, each ornate panel a unique rendering by architects living in the Middle Ages. Statues of patricians stand as sentinels, men who constructed a wall with eight gates and fought against invaders from Flanders and France. On any given day now, doves perch above a melee of tourists.

Mercedes at the Airport

He had proposed to her after three dates, an obvious clue that he was governed by instinct and compulsion, traits that require and generate excitement. When she puts aside her resentment, she has to admit that life with him had never been boring. And his instincts about business had earned him promotions and an offer of an international

The last time she used the glasses was Christmas when Ray brought home Moet champagne. He gave her a chain necklace with diamond pendant. Little did she know it was her good-bye present. He gave their son Kirk an Omega watch with, “Pay attention to time. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothes.”

At the parking garage, Zelda drives the spiral driveway from an underground dungeon that reminds her of stone prisons.

BONNIE

The car slowly moves forward. Her son extracts himself from his friends, holds up his palm to her in a “wait” motion but instead of running to the car, he returns to the building. Zelda pulls ahead, circles the common, and returns to the portico. Kirk is nowhere in sight.

The driver behind her honks ever so slightly, and Zelda punches the off button to shut up the BBC minister’s perfectly grammatical analysis of delays in rail service.

#

At home, Zelda stares at the official letter with a government seal stamped in red at the bottom. The fax machine hums and scrolls out seven pages of data from Ray’sZelda’slawyer.understanding of French is elementary in spite of lessons. Affiche, disjoindre, se resouder, prononce le divorce de...The paper represents a translation more difficult than the language.Zelda sighs. It isn’t like the letter is unexpected, but why didn’t Ray’s lawyer send an English translation? Perhaps she always expected too much of Ray. Only in the aftermath of his departure does she figure out his extended business trips had actually been excuses to live with a lover.

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As Zelda watches Kirk, she shifts into low gear. She hasn’t missed the automatic gears of American cars. She has gradually become a Belgian driver, that is to say, one who considers an expressway a stock car race track and driving a national sport.

“If it was nothing, why did you do it?” Zelda’s eyes are glued to Chaussee de Waterloo. It’s a two-lane road, but impatient drivers create a passing lane in the middle. Once she was side-swiped by an oncoming car that was passing slower cars.“Cause everybody does.”

She decides to do something normal, common, and mundane. She takes the tram to the Bascule for coffee and speculoos. The tram rattles along the electric line through tree-lined streets and mid-level condos dating back to WWII. A dog sits in the seat next to her.

The café at the Bascule has two-seater tables, empty seats or full, cigarette smoke, half-drunk glasses of beer, an older man sipping espresso, and two women talking. She sits and watches the pedestrian traffic. The Neuhaus chocolatier, who is within view, is placing bonbons into a box for a customer. What she wouldn’t give for just one piece of Neuhaus chocolate! It’s a matter of money. Rather, a lack of money. She has a Mercedes but can hardly afford to buy the gas.

Kirk sees her waiting but he continues to talk in a group including older students, one who lights a cigarette. A car, unable to pass in the congestion, comes to a stop behind the Mercedes. Zelda watches the driver in her rearview mirror. If Kirk doesn’t end his socializing and get into the car, she will have to circle around and come back. Kirk is laughing. He sneaks a drag from the older boy’s cigarette. She had accepted his explanation for smelling of cigarettes. What will she do next? She doesn’t want to deal with this.

Zelda could say Don’t be like everybody, but Kirk is a seventh grader, and he really does have to be like everybody or he’ll be bullied or ridiculed or shunned. “It’s okay to do what everybody does as long as you don’t harm yourself. Cigarettes are harmful.”

Kirk climbs into the car and they head out the gate.

management position. Does she have herself to blame? Perhaps she didn’t keep the marriage exciting enough. Had she settled into a routine? Is she boring? Too conventional? Zelda realizes that at some point, and perhaps she’s at that point, exhilaration becomes fatiguing.

In the twenty minutes, it takes Kirk to come to the car, Zelda’s head fills with a fog that is her future. If she doesn’t figure out how to get the money to move back to the States, she can no longer afford to keep Kirk in the international school.Her brother comes to mind. He will help her. Or will he? She can’t remember when they last spoke.

The last drop of coffee is just as strong as the first. A teaspoon of sugar makes drinking it possible. Time to return to the tram stop. She rises and walks along pebbly streets and rough sidewalks. Old buildings made of solid blocks of ancient soil have been guarded from the shifty eagerness of changing generations.Amultitude of voices but none to recognize. Continual air of a language that excludes her. French words surround her and come together like jazz notes. Windows with lace curtains or fragile cloth, flower boxes with last blooms of salvia. Flower shop with geraniums on the street, every inch of doorway packed with aster, lilies, and daisies. The electric tram vibrates to a stop and she gets on.

Zelda says, “Is that the first time you took a drag on a cigarette?” If he lies to her, she has more of a problem than just a cigarette.

“It was nothing.”

Zelda parks the Mercedes in the bus lane at the International School and waits for Kirk. With an advanced vocabulary of dispassionate words, the BBC news reader speaks of starvation in Africa and the government’s inadequate condemnation of a drug that proved fatal to a boy in Hampsteadshire. There’s no mention of the American president Ronald Reagan, not that Zelda misses it.

He looks out the window at a passing épicerie.

“Call him back and ask for his address.”

“Just ask for his address.”

“Okay, okay. But the man’s loaded. He makes three times what I do. I have my own family to look after.”

The letter from l’avocat means another official notification. Cette maison, the house, vendu, for sale. Signed and sealed by lawyers, court-ordered character assassins.

“Yes, but I want him to finish seventh grade here.”

Regret is a stifling emotion, but sometimes it overtakes rationality. Why had she been so careless as to get pregnant? Why did she drop out of college to marry Ray? Why didn’t she return to finish her degree? And that’s not half the

She didn’t know the answer to that question. “What I want at the moment is to get the money for us to live on.”

Zelda interrupts. “But I don’t have access to the bank account. I can’t even sell the car because it’s in Ray’s name. Please… if you could just send me enough so I could get back to the“WhereStates.”you going when you get here?”

“I can’t handle this, Zelda. This is Ray’s responsibility not mine. Call him.”

“In “I’d“Oh.”Brussels.”liketocome back to the States.” Zelda takes another“Thatdrink.makes sense, I guess. Kirk is with you?”

As the mailman hands over the mail, he smiles. “Bonjour.” Zelda takes off her gardening gloves to accept the letters. “Il fait beau aujord’hui.” In Belgium, the appearance of sunshine is a cause for celebration. Treetops stand out, slate roofs fire up the sky, street signs come into focus, and windows glint.

“If he’s still in Belgium I may have a chance to appeal the divorce.”“You want him to come home?”

Zelda puts the roots of the last rose bush into a garbage bag and tightens the plastic sheet to form a firm base of dirt. Leaning it against the garage wall, she calculates the bushes could bring 500 francs.

“I’m not going to talk to him.”

Zelda’s alternatives have narrowed again. The sale of dishes, vases, and linens at Jeu de Balle is keeping them in food, electricity, and water. Though she has haggled like a Morrocan, she hasn’t squeezed out enough francs to buy an airline ticket for herself and Kirk to Dayton.

After the sign “a Vendu,” is removed from the front yard, an agent speaking flawless English rings the bell. ‘The owner has

“He said I could come live with him and Cosette.”

“Don’t want to talk to him.”

“Sorry to hear that. Where are you?”

“Yeah.” Zelda’s throat is burning and her head hurts but she has to hunker down and get on with what she has to say. “I was wondering if you could make me a loan? Just until I get back to the States and get a job.”

“Yeah, well Ray’s always been the man with the big bank account. And the two of you live a lifestyle way beyond anything I’ve ever seen.”

“No.” Kirk leans the seat back as far as it will go.

“Promise you won’t smoke anymore.” Is she asking too much? “If you have to, pretend to smoke but don’t inhale.” Kirk shifts in the seat.

Zelda blinks, hits the gas pedal, and mumbles “Cockroach!” Everybody in the office knew about Ray and Cosette but nobody told her. She found out when he moved out. “Did he say where he’s living?”

recriminations. Her glass is empty. At times like these, cyanide and orange juice makes a better drink.

“Let’s put it this way, my chances of getting a job here in Brussels range from zero to nil. At least I don’t need a green card in the States. I’ll find something.”

“Yeah, well, too bad about Ray.”

“What does that mean?”

Zelda sighs. She had hoped to stay with him but the tone of his voice is saying no way. “I have a friend in Atlanta.” And Zelda regrets not having made a friend when they lived there.

Ray...why isn’t he here? He’d know what to say to Kirk to keep him from smoking. “What did he say?”

“Could be better,” Zelda answers when he asks.

“I don’t want his address. Don’t want to live with Cosette.”

She throws her glass against the wall and a shard flies back and pierces the corner of her eye but it doesn’t stop her from slamming a vase on the floor. She reins in the anger. She needed that vase. It could have been sold at Jeu de Balle.

Zelda calls her younger brother in Ohio. Since she married Ray, she has hardly spoken to him. When Kirk was a toddler, he called to say their mother was sick. Given their mother’s hypochondria, not to mention her never-ending trips to doctors, how was she supposed to know she was actually sick? Anyway, Zelda had responsibilities. Ray traveled most of the time. How could she leave Kirk alone?

“It’s much easier to never start than to get hooked and try to quit.”Hesays, “Had a call from Dad.”

“I’ll pay you back.”

The phone has gone dead.

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“I can’t call him! He’s transferred and his office won’t tell me where!” she says in frustration.

“I’m sorry about all this, Zelda, but this is between you and Ray. Your husband is a vice president fo…”

“My ex-husband! He’s not my husband,” says Zelda.

“Get a job?” Doing what?”

She gulps vodka tamed with orange juice, a palliative for icy skin and shallow hopes. “Well…Ray has left me, I’m afraid.”

She takes the letters but doesn’t bother opening the invoice from the International School or the ones from BelgiCom, Mazout, or the credit cards Ray cancelled.

Disappeared while on a trip in Colombia. A business trip, but she doesn’t know anything about cartels. The man’s dark eyes are playful. The ascot around his neck is Turnbull quality. He buys the car. Pays full price.

Once Zelda is back in Ohio, she comes across an international news article which reports that American businessman Ray Benson is being held by the Paris police. He is in custody and suspected of drug smuggling. His Mercedes was found at Orly Airport with ten pounds of cocaine stashed in the spare tire.

accepted a contract to sell the duplex and you must move.”

“I have nowhere to go.”

Zelda admits the Mercedes is in Ray’s name, but she says he is dead.probably

Bonnie Stanard is an award-winning author who draws on her rural background and an interest in history to write novels, short stories, and poems with credits in publications such as The American Journal of Poetry, Wisconsin Review, and Harpur Palate. She has edited periodicals where she has lived, including Atlanta, Richmond, Lexington, SC, and Belgium. Her seven historical fiction novels and three children’s books are available at various online venues. Main Street Rag published her poetry chapbook in 2020. She lives in Lexington, SC.

Fiction NEW READER MAGAZINE |

After calls from several poor prospects, a man speaking English with an accent that’s neither French nor Flemish makes an appointment to see the car. His beard, thick eyebrows, and hard stare unnerve Zelda until he speaks.

“Why you sell this beautiful car?” he says with parted lips. A mischievous glint in his eye.

“I’m sorry, but the lease was terminated months ago, and although the owner has allowed you to stay, you haven’t been paying the rent.” The woman’s red lips purse on every word.

Zelda slams the door on her foot and screeches. “Send Ray Benson here. I’ll get out when I see the coward!”

She has to sell Ray’s Mercedes. On the black market. To somebody who won’t quibble over ownership papers. She places an ad in an English language weekly. “For sale to nondiscriminating buyer, 1987 Mercedes. Good condition.”

66 | NEW READER MAGAZINE WynneOfImpersonationTheWynneOfImpersonationTheWaldenWalden

A

The service was happening in the sizable backyard, perhaps more accurately called a field, behind the house Ashby had grown up in and that Walden Wynne had died in, days earlier, frowning in his sleep. It was not raining but showed evidence of having done so that morning so that the grass was bowing and the dress shirts of the attendants were sticking slightly to their

Seeing him now, with the moisture in the air stimulating the untamed curls of his hair, Ashby found his half-brother to be at once both familiar and unfamiliar, as he had found the reflection of his own face when he was a child out fishing with his father, peering over the side of the boat into the green, unsettled water. His name was Charles, Ashby was surprised to remember. He was performing a eulogy at the poorly attended funeral of their father, and he had green eyes and a gaunt face and looked just like Ashby except for his head-turning height and the long slender bridge of his nose. Charles dug a wooden cane into the ground, which was moist and easily broken into. “Thank you all for coming,” he said. Ashby’s stomach grumbled and he wondered about lunch, though maybe he was only doing so to avoid thinking too hard about his father.

WYATT SHEPPARD

shby Wynne had never met his half-brother, and only sometimes remembered that he had one. Though 28, Ashby had never quite outgrown his childish nature or his preoccupation with the small corners of the world with which he was acquainted. That which existed outside his immediate vision was acknowledged only circumstantially and was often promptly forgotten about.

For that reason, it had been a relief for Ashby not to be asked to give the eulogy. There was only so much he could think to say about it all, the guns and the trout and the nothingness. What a horrible son that made him, the cool rush of relief when the burden was lifted. Ashby was, of course, devastated to lose his father. It’s just that his grief was more for what could’ve been than what was; it hit him when he saw fathers take the hands of their children before crossing the street.

count the things he knew about him on one hand—He was a veteran, a guarder of his own secrets, and he enjoyed activities that mandated solitude and silence. Like fishing. Ashby had never especially taken to fishing, hunting, or shooting guns at little targets. But at least when he was young, and his father still had hope for him growing into a man and not the scrawny faggot he turned out to be, they had those quiet, silent days on the lake. Ashby bitterly felt about them, but also precious, as if he knew even back then that they would be his only lasting memories.

Walden Wynne had been a quiet man and not one who was very easy to know. Ashby had lived with him all his life and could

“We’re gathered here today to celebrate the life of Walden Christopher Wynne. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Charles Wynne, and I am Walden’s eldest son, conceived before he was deployed in 1986, and well before he would meet his wife, Bessy, in Detroit in 92. By the time Walden came to know of my birth, I was growing into an adolescent under the immaculate care of my mother, Genevive, and my stepfather, and as time and luck would have it, well enough was left alone.

That was Ashby’s greatest sin if he were to pick one: his tendency to covet, in the biblical sense. He has never seen a beautiful thing that he did not become immediately obsessed with possessing for himself. Envy was not quite the word, as this feeling didn’t stem from a place of cruelty or embellishment. It was a deep, all-encompassing desire; almost lust.

I began writing letters to Walden in my twenties at the behest

Charles looked to be reciting from memory until that point, then he turned his attention to the bundle of paper. Ashby realized then that his father had written it all. The long, slender fingers began to grapple with the string that held the bundle together.

Charles began reading, then, and his voice took on a lower, more somber tone, one that he possibly imagined his father has.

of my mother. He responded to the third one, and many after. In honor of him now, I would like to read to you the final words that he wrote to me, last year when I turned 33.”

I don’t blame anyone for this sequence of events or the order in which they happened, and my childhood was one full of love, but as adolescents are, I was obsessed with the idea of knowing who my father was, and with the idea of myself as an acrobat, swinging from a trapeze into the open air and just barely missing the hand that was reaching out to catch me.

How strange! How magnificent! Even Ashby’s familiar corners were not what they seemed. He thought of a dollhouse his grandmother had owned which he had coveted for years before her passing. It was a huge, heavy thing with a glossy dark wood finish and an endless number of little compartments and secret rooms; it always reminded him that nothing could ever be completely exhausted of its mystery.

chests. Charles Wynne was standing in front of the rows of pale blond heads, holding a curled bundle of paper in front of his chest like a bread loaf. Ashby studied him, the long nose, the slender hands, the thin lips, and the brown lashes. A pair of wireframed glasses sat in front of his eyes that made him look old, but he dressed like he was young, in a dress shirt that pinched at the shoulders because it was too small and a crooked tie. He was beautiful, Ashby decided.

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He slowly lowered the paper then, punctuating his reading with a bashful “Thank you,” and moving to return to his seat. Ashby tangled himself in the metal collapsible chairs in his rush to get to Charles and sit beside him. Charles looked at him once, looked away, and then back again as if he had just seen a funny mirror.

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“I bet they’re in his desk somewhere. We can go and look for them.”Charles’s eyes traced the familiar letters, thin and tall and delicate. It is the nature of things, of the world, that you will always be a piece of me. He came to Detroit with a mostly intact image of Walden Wynne in his mind. The final blind spot, like a smudge on his glasses he just couldn’t rub away, was something Charles had expected this trip to rectify. He would attend the funeral and finally be in physical proximity of the man that he had spent all his life trying to compose from scraps of information, and the fog would lift away and he would see it all: Walden Wynne. A man. His father. The incompleteness of the image would stop probing endlessly at his brain, denying him peace. He would go back home to take care of Genevive, and he would tell her “I have finally gotten my answers.”

He did sense immediately a difference in age, maturity, and something like innocence. Ashby reminded him of a determined doe, refusing to be put off by failure. He had the flighty mind of a toddler and the body language of a teenager, his head whipping around at butterflies and his feet stuttering over small rocks or untied shoes. It softened something in Charles; he found himself quickly easing into the hypothetical position of the older brother. Being around Ashby seemed to draw out his controlled, more stoic side, which was the shard of himself that he most liked to show off.

It made Ashby want to cry. “Even when we feel the furthest apart, take solace in that you are constructed of shards of my being. There are times that I felt from a great distance that I could sense those shards, pulsing with emotion and with life, like a phantom limb. It is the nature of things, of the world, that you will always be a piece of me.”

Charles had always felt—quietly, because it was not the sort of thing you admit out loud—that he was meant for a great love story. He had waited patiently for it. He wasn’t desperate, or at least he tried not to be; he fancied himself to be the sort of quiet, eccentric gentleman that belonged in a Jane Austen novel. Aesthetics were important to him—hence, the cane. Inside the sarcophagus of his ribs, his heart was running like a car being warmed in the winter, hot to the touch and empty. Ready to go.

“Read it to me again,” Ashby asked, his hand hovering above a powdered donut. “The one you read at the funeral. It is the nature of things…” he began, helpfully.

In regards to Ashby Wynne, she had claimed to have heard “some strange things about that boy.” Charles, not knowing his half-brother but being oddly protective regardless, had pointed out that Ashby was only a handful of years younger than he was, and not a “boy.” Genevive told him he’d be surprised. He was, a little.

The reality was that the longer Charles stayed in Detroit, the more distorted the image of his father became. Things he’d once thought himself to be certain of were fading away into obscurity. He had imagined, for instance, that Walden must have a big, heavy writing desk in a crowded office, covered in piles of books and scraps of paper. Really, the desk was quite small—a pale, thin-legged thing with a single drawer sitting under the tabletop— and there wasn’t an “office” at all. Instead, the desk sat against a pine-green wall in a large master bedroom. There was a kingsize bed, dressed like the rest of the room in dark green tones, and a sizable television sitting on a massive entertainment unit whose drawers were filled with clothes. There wasn’t a book or a journal in sight. The unfamiliarity of it all made Charles feel slightly uncomfortable. Something loomed at the back of his mind that he was afraid to turn around and face.

Charles’s mother Genevive did not come with him to Detroit because her health was in decline. He had been of two minds about it, but she was a tough woman, and knowing how important this trip was to him, she wouldn’t have allowed him to stay. Genevive was, as far as Charles was concerned, a magical woman who had always possessed the innate maternal power to see straight into his mind.

#

Ashby set to his search, his limbs jutting out as he crouched, but he found the sliding desk drawer to be vacant except for a couple of takeout menus and pamphlets. He lifted them to reveal nothing but a pocket-sized spiral notebook beneath and scrunched his face unfavorably. “He must’ve put them up somewhere secret. I wonder where…”

For days afterward he did not look away again. Ashby had a lot of questions about the letters, and Charles had a lot of questions about Ashby’s childhood, so they went back and forth over lunches, dinners, brunches, wines, and assortments of cheese.

“That line is at the end,” Charles pointed out.

“Can I see that?” Charles asked, with a gesture towards the small notebook. Ashby handed it to him. It had a dark blue cardboard cover that was curling at one edge. His tongue soured. He was several versions of himself, then: The one who didn’t know what to expect inside, and the one who already knew what he would see and was urging him to savor the final moments before the realization smacked him full force like a wave.

He sucked in a breath, his face burning with what must’ve been a noticeable blush. It was… Well, it was many different things. “Humiliating” was the first one to come to him. How many

“I like it, though,” Ashby replied. “I can’t believe I never knew that Dad liked to write. I’ve never seen him write. Not once. Hey, what were your replies like? Do you have them?”

“Well, no. I sent them to him.”

“You’re Ashby!” he said.

Had he always known? At that moment it seemed feasible that he had. The version of him that knew looked solemnly, pitifully at the other, breathless and shaking with the notebook in his hand. He fingered through it. FISCHERS FOOD SHOP (313) 262 6533. APPOINTMENT 4/17 AT 3:45, DR. WINKLER. PICK UP: LIVE BAIT, DOUBLE A BATTERIES FOR REMOTE. All written in a tiny, stout print, the letters packed closely together. It was not at all familiar to Charles.

Wyatt Sheppard is a nonbinary author, comic artist, and all-around strange person. They graduated from Webster University in 2020. They live in Washington, Missouri with their cat, Miku.

“When I got older,” he continued, “I realized that a lot of things in my life were like this dollhouse. No matter how familiar I thought I was with something…” His hand swept to the other wing, drawing Charles’s eyes along with it. He opened a small closet door in a hallway, hardly touching it. It seemed to draw towards him on its own. “... I could come back to it later and discover something completely new. Even my own self.

Charles looked at his brother, who only a few days ago he had hardly known existed, and he wondered if it was possible that the exchange was equivalent: was the loss of Walden, or of who he thought Walden was, made up for by the existence of Ashby?

of those blond heads in the crowd listened to him with skepticism and disbelief? How many of them knew—or thought he made it up himself? And Genevive—He couldn’t even let himself think of Genevive yet, of her role in this horror. He tried to register the fact that he was standing in the bedroom of a complete stranger; someone he had never once spoken to.

“It is the nature of things that you will always be a piece of me,” Charles said to Ashby. Ashby smiled and sat upright again, leaning his head on the shoulder of his brother. You are something greater than a piece of me, he thought but did not say. You are all of me.

Inside his chest, his running heart shifted gears and began to purr.“Walden missed out,” Charles said. “Not knowing you, I mean. Never getting to know who you really were. You deserved to be known, as much as you can be known at any given moment, and loved for all of you.”

The heat and anger of humiliation were urgently replaced with the cold, bitter feelings of grief. “Charles?” Ashby said beside him, and his tone of voice implied that he had already said it several times before now. Charles took a few uncertain steps backward and sat on the edge of the made bed. “Are you okay?” Ashby asked.

Charles gave voice to the awful thing. “I don’t think Walden wrote those letters. I think my mom lied to me.” It made sense, out loud. It brought sordid concrete detail to a new image all together, one that felt, to his horror, so much more real than the one he was attempting to construct before. Without noticing, Charles was gripping at his sides. What Ashby was doing, he wasn’t sure. He was inside himself, distant from the room. He felt Ashby’s arms settle around him.

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They went fishing. Ashby gave directions, and Charles drove. When they arrived, Charles instinctively took Ashby’s hand before they crossed the road. Neither could paddle properly. They rowed in circles and circles and circles and did not fish, laughing and sitting close. Ashby looked over the side of the boat to see his face in the water once more, familiar and funny, though less funny now—the water, and with it, all of the world was stiller than it was before.

“I want to show you something,” Ashby said. He led Charles down a hallway which he noticed even in his state of mental absence to be lacking in the childhood photos and memorabilia that existed in Genevieve’s home, into another room that appeared to be used for storage—it might’ve been Ashby’s bedroom once. There was an empty bed frame, chairs, empty packaging, and a dresser missing its drawers. In front of it, all was a huge and admittedly magnificent dollhouse.

#

All at once, they were two men, three men, and one man on a boat, they were father and son, father and father, son and son, brother and brother. They held hands tight enough to become one another, and scattered through the stiller water the pale grey ashes of Walden Wynne.

“My grandmother used to own this when I was little. I was obsessed with it; it was the reason that I would get so excited to go and see her. Well, other than being away from my dad, who liked to berate me for anything I got excited about. I used to think the dollhouse was magic, because every time I thought I knew everything there was to know about it, I would find something new I had never seen before.” Ashby reached his free hand forward, and with two fingers parted the velvet curtains covering a window in the house’s dining room. He pushed the window pane open with the tip of his finger, a swift and gentle action he must have done countless times before.

Your perception changes everything. The idea of nothing, nothing in the whole world, being certain, or completely knowable… That can be scary, or it can be magic. I like the way that things change when you aren’t looking. It means that there is always, always something new.”

Charles found his voice. “What if you preferred it the way it wasAshbybefore?”smiled, his eyes crinkling at the corners. “There is always more to love if you know how to look for it. I don’t think it matters whether he wrote them or not. That person who wrote the letters, your dad, existed to you. That makes him just as real as the person I knew. Who’s to say he didn’t think all of that, even if he never wrote it down?”

Ashby froze for a fraction of a second. “Your dad missed out too, not having you. So did I. I wish I could’ve grown up with a brother like you.”

Charles pushed shut the door to the dollhouse closet with his middle finger, softly, softly.

Ashby spread the two halves apart like wings and the inside was even more awe-inspiring than the outside was. The closer he looked, the more there was to see in the intricate carvings and details. Ashby held his hand.

In their father’s bedroom once more, they inspected the musty articles of clothing that sat in his drawers: Overalls and button downs, stained shirts, and torn pants. They pulled them out one by one; dressed one another in them. They were all a bit small on Charles, a bit large on Ashby. Ashby positioned a navy bucket hat on Charles’s head, one that Walden had worn on fishing trips, and Charles studied his reflection in the mirror. There were two of him again, but this time, the other one was Ashby.

Literary Work

At that moment, I would stand in the centre of the circus ring, with my magic wand and my old magician’s hat, from which I extracted imaginary rabbits, toads, bats, and pigeons, while everyone else applauded enthusiastically. Next, I would bring out countless brightly coloured handkerchiefs knotted together, clouds of glittering stars, ping pong balls, and finally piles of gold coins, which I scattered in grand gestures all over the room, much to the amusement of my brothers.

We never had television and radio was a subject of conflict, because we all had different preferences. The only thing we could agree on was to listen to half an hour of melodic songs from yesteryear after the only daily meal, which was at night, which generally consisted of a soup of seafood biscuit, carrot slices, and a chunk of boiled hen.

My brother Robert clapped using saucepan lids as cymbals, the always rowdy Jeremy played a trumpet blowing through his cupped hands, and crazy Jonah played the clown. A triumphal orchestra resounded throughout the circus tent, with a marvellous and vibrant fanfare.

“Welcome to the Great Brown Brothers Circus!” he said, using a brush as a microphone, sporting a worn green livery that we had found in the alley behind the Grand Hotel.

W

“Now, the long-awaited grand finale: the great magician Willy Brown!” he proclaimed.

To finish, I waved my wand and all creations hurried back to the hat, including the bats, the rabbits, and the brightly coloured handkerchiefs. Also magically disappeared the lion tamer and the lion, the musicians, and even the dancing elephant. The last ever to leave was the announcer in his worn green livery, bowing farewell.Then, I would contemplate my brothers, scattered among the mattresses that covered the floor, asleep for a long time after enjoying the delicacies of Mrs. Singerman, and I would look for a space to snuggle in, usually near my big brother Michael, while the circus fanfare kept ringing in my mind.

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MY WORLDLITTLE

Marcelo Medone

hen I was a boy, we were very poor. Our house was a shack made of wood, tin, and cardboard. We were eight male siblings huddled together in one bedroom where there was barely room for four mattresses resting on the dirt floor, a table, and a closet, while our parents had a bed for them in the other room, which also functioned as a kitchen. The latrine was outside and we had to take turns relieving ourselves. The chairs were luxuries that we could not afford: we ate sitting on the mattresses.

Dad drank cheap red wine and the rest of us drank water, which had to be brought in jars every morning. The best thing was always the dessert: Mrs. Singerman left us a package with delicacies from her pastry shop twice a week, which my mother wiselyAfterrationed.dinner, our parents went to their bed and closed the door. Some nights my mother screamed with excitement and other nights she screamed in pain, although sometimes we didn’t know if she was having a good or bad time. The next morning we would notice from the marks on her face, usually bluish bruises. It was something we were used to and she begged us not to interfere, because “Daddy loves me very much, although sometimes he gets angry, and I love him very much too, as I love you Butall.” when we were alone in our room, our private party started. My brother Jack was the master of ceremonies.

After these numbers, Jack moved to the centre of the room, stepping on the mattresses.

Marcelo Medone (1961, Buenos Aires, Argentina) is a fiction writer, poet, and screenwriter. His works have received numerous awards and have been published in magazines and books, both in digital and paper format, individually or in anthologies, in multiple languages in more than 40 countries all over the world. Facebook: Marcelo Medone / Instagram: @marcelomedone

Next, Jack introduced the main attractions: the dancing elephant that was big Michael, the lion tamer that was Sean, and the lion that was Roger.

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Teddy Burns

Some sounds are harvested by Dana; others she finds embedded in nature(s) like veins of gold, making her a happy prospector, indeed: The hiss-and-snap that announces an

open can of seltzer; the drink’s own chorus of carbonated whispers; the click-clacking of the librarian’s keyboard trickling through the air like the onset of rain; the sound of fingertips sticking and unsticking from a book sleeve or the plastic cover of a DVD case; the thrum of the sewing machine at Dana’s aunt’s dress shop where Dana picks up shifts in the summer (where she falls asleep if she tries to read on her lunch break).

n Dana’s room, there is a jade plant in a small ceramic pot, given to Dana by Mom on Dana’s twelfth birthday. They painted the pot that same afternoon, illustrating together an infinite loop of countryside through which a little girl led a parade of animals consisting of a panda, a parrot, an octopus, a pig, the family cat, Ginger, and the family dog, Pup, as an anthropomorphized sun and clouds smiled approvingly down upon on the procession. Uniting the scene was a speech bubble to which all the characters besides the little girl contributed; they say, “Happy Birthday Dana!”

I

The exact ‘why’ of the tingles is a pleasant mystery to Dana. “You get what you give, my love!” Mom says, and blows in Dana’s ear.

What Dana feels is a tingling sensation that starts at the nape of her neck and cascades down her back, soothing and settling her like a warm beverage does. Dana first became aware of this phenomenon at five or six years old, feeling the tingles when Mom read to her while lightly scratching her arm at the same time, or when Mom played the classic pantomime with her wherein an egg (Mom’s loose fist) got cracked on the back of Dana’s head and the yolk (Mom’s fluttery fingers) ran down her back.

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It is Dana’s way to nurture the small and fertile. She cares for her jade plant how she cares for all her loved ones: with natural diligence. Dana knows all the places Pup likes to be scratched best and applies this knowledge generously, prioritizing Pup’s pleasure right up there with food and water. On the other hand, Dana knows how Ginger mostly likes to be left alone to wander the neighborhood, but if before going to sleep she leaves a saucer of milk near the sliding glass door that leads to the backyard, it will certainly be empty, appreciated, when Dana wakes up.

So a sound sometimes is not just a sound.

***

In the mirror at thirty-five, Maggie is the spitting image of her mother. Out of the mirror, she is not. Maggie’s face is Mom’s face flipped and vice-versa. Their hooded lids and brown eyes, their pert nose resting atop thin purple lips huddled together so as to avoid attention, their jet-black hair laying down long to rest on skinny little shoulders. So Maggie sees Mom every day, but rarely herself. Dad couldn’t bear the likeness and so fled the country when Maggie fled home for college in the city, tracing his steps back across the Atlantic for the motherland, irony lost on him along the way. The popular reaction to this is to cuss out Dad, call him a poor excuse for a father and a coward. Maggie allows this because no one could understand why she forgave him, reading his letter on her first Christmas away from home, the only mail she would receive in four years on campus. Too many days, too many nights, too many mirrors in the house that had always been too small. Maggie making a sandwich in the kitchen at sixteen, looking up into the mirror above the sink and seeing Dad behind her in the doorway, expression as blank as a sleepwalker but still colored lovelorn blue, eyes clasped on Maggie’s image that was Mom. Unseeing Maggie to see Mom, going back to bed, nothing personal. This is before, technically. For Maggie, now, thanks to her artistry, it is forever. She is reflecting the past upon the present, flipping it, totally the same and unrecognizable, transmorphing events until they are not the past anymore; they are her past. A mother, a death, failures of amorousness–essential building bricks for any woman’s lauded career. Tragedies are but hyphenates in Maggie’s ever-growing title, currently standing tall at Songwriter-AuthorScreenwriter, VOAG (voiceofageneration), SA (seminalartist), STW (someonetowatch), CL (culturalleader). Maggie is seen so much now, face flipped and reflected every which way. But

Now, because the jade plant feels so safe with Dana, it has allowed her to understand what it’s saying when it speaks to her. She knows what it means by the slight squeaks emitted when she rubs one of its chubby leaves between her fingers, empathizes with its relieved sigh when a summer breeze gusts through her open window and sings along with its funny, gurgling melody when it slurps up water. The grammar of their language is based on this exchange of mutual gratification, but for Dana, the satisfaction she feels extends past companionship. For as long as Dana can remember, her jade plant’s contributions to their ongoing conversation have triggered a singular physical response.

***

Sisyphus I Am Your Daughter ([2016] [8.9] [Best New Music])

no one knows a fucking thing, Maggie whispers into the mirror just to see Mom say it, a promise as much as a lamentation. Her publicist, Trish Childs, argues otherwise online and in print, spreading a plague of rhetoric that assures consumers that Maggie’s product, Maggie, is as transparent and vulnerable to them as when she looks in the mirror, not quite alone.

Trish had texted Maggie ‘congratulations’ for ‘arriving,’ saying she was a ‘champ and a half’ for politely acquiescing to Sam Cohen’s request to suck her toes after the interview. Her sex act pushed the feature’s publication up a year.

Today Dana will prefer being solitary, not as a result of dejection, but as an inspiration for contentment. She will wake up with an innate desire to know the insides of every moment before they all bumble through June, July, August, into Unsettled September. This summer, Dana is often preoccupied by the passage of time in a way she has not been in summers past. She thinks a lot about how her hours are used, developing opinions on how to walk the most satisfying path through every day’s swath of daylight, implementing routines and mindful pastimes, every decision a single square of Dana’s quilt of comfort and satiation.

“If there is a single idea synthesizing the breadth of Cass’s work across all the mediums she has voraciously explored (with stunning success, in this writer’s opinion), it is her efforts to deconstruct popular second-generation immigrant narratives as they exist in the United States today. Cass deconstructs to reconstruct, reconstructs to reclaim, reclaims to rearticulate, and radically rearticulates suffering into the common language of love. She may be our most important working artist.”

Literary Work 76 | NEW READER MAGAZINE

Before her new wealth, all the spaces Maggie ever inhabited were stretched too thin. Rooms with books and makeup and half-empty soda bottles messily stacked on stools and bedside tables, socks and hairpins and underwear overflowing out of drawers or strewn across the floor, Mom and Maggie sleeping ass-to-ass on the twin bed while Dad slept on his back on the carpet, a position he said he preferred, anyway. In her memoir, Stern Young Womyn (2019), Maggie writes: “Is there anything the child of immigrants craves more than to be the master of space? Space between people, continents. Time we long for later” (68). In her song, “Through the Wall,” Maggie sings: “How are there more than four walls in this room?/Nothing is growing inside this cocoon.” Prestigious profiler Sam Cohen of NPR noticed the thematic consistency and so wrote for the site’s new monthly feature, the Up-and-Coming Artist Spotlight:

At 6:07 am, it will be thirty-eight minutes until Mom wakes up for the opening shift at the beauty parlor. She will walk Pup around the block before walking herself to work, leaving at 7:28 am but not before asking Dana at the computer if she would like Mariel to come over to babysit today. Perks of being twelve include two allowances, a monetary one and a disciplinary one, the latter giving Dana a novel amount of sayso where certain little laws of the house are concerned, such as the necessity of being babysat on any given day. Dana loves Mariel, has known her as long as she can remember, but will say no for today.

6:00 am is the earliest Dana is allowed to wake up to play computer. Even though it is summer and school is out, the same rules regarding computer play are enforced: On weekdays, it’s a one-hour cap, evenings only. On weekends it’s a three-hour cap, mornings and afternoons allowed. There are many little laws like this that rule Dana’s life and test her patience, but such laws can reflexively accrue fun anticipation for the duration of her wait.

***

Why always ‘our’?

Dana opens her eyes.

Grace is soundtracked by bird calls and other accouterments of Morning. Somewhere in the neighborhood, Ginger is stalking a mourning dove. This dove will be left for Dana outside the sliding glass door that leads to the backyard, right next to the empty saucer. Cool night sheds its blue and black robes for the warm grays and yellows of mellow dawn. Dana can feel the newborn light pawing at her eyelids but keeps them shut still for a bit longer, to inhale through the nose…exhale through the mouth…inhale through the nose… exhale through the mouth, to take in the scent of Outside Morning that drifts in through her open window, riding on the breeze of Dana’s fan to mingle with the aroma of Inside Morning. These smells are of Dana’s life, they are embedded into her environment, and they ground Dana within her place and time more poignantly than anything else she’s known.

The first square of the day’s quilt is not stitched exactly when Dana awakes at 5:51 am–that moment is subsumed by the shock of re-consciousness. Dana wakes up always all at once, her membrane of sleep as thin as the thread of a cocoon, and while a quick rise from bed is a boon during the busy school season, the jarring rush and tumble from nothing to everything are otherwise unnecessary, especially today, where Dana is on her on own clock. So it’s the second moment after waking up that is devoted to saying grace for the promise of leisure.

When the 1 turns 2, Dana starts counting the blinks, ignoring the offbeat tapping of her fluttering heart, which accelerates and accelerates as Dana ‘charges up.’ Dana will ‘charge up’ for fifty-nine blinks and launch on the sixtieth, 5:53. To ‘charge up,’ Dana instigates friction between her body and mind, pouring an intention of action into the former while pouring a contradictory intention of stillness into the latter. Shake, rattle, roll! Dana cheers to her limbs and digits. Resist temptation! Dana warns her mind. Electricity whirs through Dana’s bones, which she pictures as light and hollow as a bird’s, bouncing between the polar tips of her fingers and toes, energy pleading to be exerted, but Dana still says no, counting the blinks, enduring, the outside silence contrasting against her interior clamor, blood beating between her ears, fifty-five, fifty-six, excruciating, fifty-seven, fifty-eight, fifty-nine: Dana blinks rapturously into 5:53.

Fiction NEW READER MAGAZINE | 77

Dana is as completely still as she completely awake in bed, staring at the ceiling and noticing the worn sheets, patterned with bed flowers, tangled betwixt her legs like a tail, noticing the blue comforter spread atop her body like sediment, rubble of dreamless hours, noticing these things but remaining still as stone, sensing all her stuffed animals in all their assigned positions, some crammed into the space between the mattress and the posey-pink wall, some pressed between Dana’s armpits or thighs, some held to her heart for the duration of the night, like Leo the Lion who was present at birth, or Gregory the Bear, who was a Christmas present from Aunt Edith and is now as proximate to Dana’s head as her primary pillow.

Apologies 3000: Sycophants Never Say Never! ([2017] [9.7] [Best New Music])

MaggieInsane. rarely suffers imposter syndrome (she’s told herself she’s ‘our greatest songwriter’ long before The New Yorker announced it), but still feels keenly dissociated from her product’s narrative and its surrounding discourse. THE DISCOURSE!!! Maggie’s fascination with ‘it,’ the fans, ‘(yrs.1735),’ and their weird conversations about her divine genius, her family, her tits, her ass, her influences, her interviews, is sickly and resentful because of her empathy. The empathy Maggie has for them is debilitating. She, too, has only ever worshiped artists, but the turned tables are really weird. Indierock Reddit podcast hosts using Maggie’s first name way too much, tweets calling her ‘bestie;’ fanfiction, even–all these assumptions of familiarity give Maggie the spins.

In her blurry periphery, Dana sees the digital clock on her nightstand change time from 5:51 to 5:52, eleven red toothpicks swapping for fourteen as the colon dividing minutes from hours blinks diligently every single time a second passes.

[SXSW/2014] “Anyone sitting here? You mind? And I’m sorry, but you’re Maggie Cass, you just played? Ugh, fucking fantastic set Maggie, so great to meet you. [...] Gawd, not rude at all! I’m Trish Childs, ‘atrealchildish,’ talent scout for Cover Charge. You’ve heard of us? [...] Via Rally Cry, of course, fantastic, love those guys, real sweethearts, just like they say. So good. But not my favorite. Who’s your favorite right now Maggie? [...] Ha ha. Understood. Let me buy you a round. [...] A proposition. [...] Great. Excuse…thank you, could you get me another one of these. Thank you so much. Okay, Maggie, babe, I already know the answer, but who represents you? [...] Yes, that’s your label. [...] My point is no one is representing you, Maggie. For the whiskey sour, let me tell you a story: It’s 2010. I’m on the floor of my dorm room at Bard, a single, laying on my stomach on my rug I still own, on my computer and thinking about offing myself in the real way, like with a plan and an intention to execute, door locked, goodbyes written, makeup on, pills in the bottle. [...] Yes, thank you, it was bad, poor girl. Am I making you uncomfortable? [...] Great, because the threat of suicide is essential to what I’m trying to impart. [...] Truer words. Anyway, I’m laying there listening to music and trying not to cry so my makeup doesn’t run, which was a fucking Herculean task as you can imagine because of course I’ve got on my Suicide Playlist that I’ve meticulously curated to make me feel as awful as possible, to send me to the breaking point. [...] HA! Love that you ask; you know the deal. Um, I’m pretty sure ‘This Woman’s Work’ was on there, also ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack,’ ‘Candy Says,’ ‘The Anchor Song.’ [...] Flattered! So there I am in the interim, killing time before killing myself, har, cycling between the same music message boards and music websites over and over because, duh, I’m a huge music nerd, but somewhere in that mess, I wish I could remember where I saw it exactly but so much is blurry, but I saw the cover art for First Kiss Was A Suckoff–[...] No way. It’s legendary. It will be. [...] Absolutely, but–[...] Right, so movingFiction

“During all my time on Earth, I’ve never heard anything like it. The critical, writerly part of me has already set about assigning Apologies 3000 in its rightful place in The Canon; the human part of me is still weeping in thanks to Cass for giving birth to these nine songs. Oh! The beauty! To assign a genre to it is childish. A comet screams across the night sky. A baby bird breaks out of its egg. Cass’s A3SNSN is a miracle of nature. A human woman made this record! Popular music has never sounded quite like it and never will again.”

“Despite conforming to the sonic trappings of indie rock, SIAYD is nonetheless a stunning accomplishment in storytelling and emotional catharsis. Inspired by the death of her mother, Cass maps the path pain must take to reach redemption. It is not an easy listen, but perhaps the most essential of 2016.”

***

***

***

It’s a Youtube comment by user ‘Joey00,’ found on a clip from an interview Maggie did while on tour, screen capped and sent to her by her girlfriend Gabby with the accompanying text, ‘fuck dude.’ Maggie is obsessed with the pathology behind comments like Joey00’s. Would they say it to her face? Do they think she would like that? Maggie herself is unsure how much she’d like or dislike that. She wouldn’t have made it this far if she wasn’t one to enjoy some attention and reverie, but it also doesn’t sit well with her that Joey00 could write this post and really believe it, as in, Maggie just feels that such a sweet sentiment deserves to be delivered to a more tactile destination, as in, to someone who could actually reciprocate it. And maybe to someone for which the statement might actually be true! Maggie does struggle these days to lay claim to who ‘Maggie Cass’ is in reality, but no way she’s out here weaving life’s fibers into lovely instants. At least not off-record. How much these parasocial quandaries make Maggie spiral depends on the day. Some nights her brain goes too fast and accelerates past mercy, begging into the dark over and over to be left alone as multi-colored shadows flicker across her bedroom wall like a ghostly chorus that hums and chants her own words back to her. Maggie begs for her sake and for the sake of Joey00, who seems lonely, and she wonders if making different art with different lyrics and different moods would attract an audience who could appreciate her just as much without stressing her out to the same extent, but Maggie knows simultaneously it would be impossible to betray herself that way; not even out of principal, but just physically, it couldn’t be done, Maggie wouldn’t know how to start to express herself dishonestly. She’s told her disposition is for the best because it’s so valorous, but to care not at all and still go about business sometimes seems so ideal sometimes. Maggie went on a whole drunken rant about this to Gabbi and Frank Ocean in her apartment after the MET Gala, and the next morning she woke to find that she’d tweeted out a link to ‘Comfortably Numb’ with the caption ‘please pink floyd in hell but the stones in heaven,’ which in turn had created a discourse in her replies so vehement that the whole thread

***

At night in August in Brooklyn in bed in the sopping heat Maggie lies faceup, staring at the ceiling and not sleeping on her bed dressed with nothing but covers for the pillow and mattress, never sleeping through the summer and sweating bullets in the dark, mouthbreathing and submerged in the mire of mental noise that makes her famous. She’s thinking about this:

Literary Work 78 | NEW READER MAGAZINE

on; I saw the art for First Kiss Was A Suckoff, the beautiful blue with the red right in the center, the woman…You know how fucking difficult it is to get yourself to listen to new music? Just like in general? Well, it’s probably like a thousand times more difficult when on the verge of suicide, but still I saw it, got that sting in the brain, and for one last time I wanted to listen to new music. So I go to your Bandcamp, I pull up the album… and I turn off my Suicide Playlist to listen to First Kiss Was A Suckoff. I’ll never forget. ‘Busy Sunday’ is playing and I’m reading the gorgeous, fucking heartbreaking liner notes–I’m reading all the liner notes for all your projects, then I’m listening to all your projects. The story of it, your mother, the meaning. My God. Next thing I know, the sun is up and I don’t want to die. What I want is for the world to know Maggie Cass’s music, her narrative, her genius. Maggie, straight up: You’re a Kate Bush Bitch. You’re a fucking woman. Your songs are songs only a woman could write. Women’s lives will be saved by your music. And men will want to fuck you bad. [...] Oh, please. They’ll be in your inbox, in your comments, fighting for approval and attention, trying to save you, marry you, compare favorite poets with you, mansplain Bob Dylan to you. If a man likes your music, he will be seen as the emotionally sophisticated guy about campus. Or gay. But the best thing… the best goddamn thing…is that you’re not…fucking… white! [...] Korean? [...] Japanese? [...] Apologies. [...] Yes. [...] Absolutely. [...] Absolutely. [...] Abso-fucking-lutely. Progress requires a certain amount of cynicism. Let me do it so you don’t have to.”

DANA EXPLODES WITH GREAT HYPERBOLE, freeing herself of potential energy, finally all kinetic. She kicks blankets and sheets off her body like dead leaves, slaps the mattress with her palms, twists her head this way and that while an elated eeee! sprouts from the back of her throat and ricochets against her posey-pink walls until it escapes through the open window, one more morning song to feed the cacophony. Dana rocks, knees to chest, back and forth, back, then forth, jutting her legs out straight and using the momentum to launch up and out of bed, landing on her pile carpet with perfect form. Dana makes her multi-colored toes kneed the raggedy threads a few times before standing on their tips to stretch her hands to the ceiling, craning her neck back and quivering with the intensity of her streeeetttccccchhhh, another eeee! punctuating the peak of the pose.

You’re perfectly perpendicular to Earth, sundial girl! A yolkyellow sleep-shirt that usually ends at the knees is raised to the thigh. Light and air fill the bedroom to caress Dana, make her warm to the touch. Dana’s jade plant sits on her pink and white desk, an attentive companion, and together they soak up the sun just the same.

“Maggie is a consummate artist. Even the way she answers questions is saturated with art. I aspire to be so filled with focus, and yet so at ease with the chaos that she can weave so much with every fiber life gives her, making every instant another lovely braid. This short 3-minute video is an 8-part seminar to a class I need to learn how to pass.”

It is 6:00 am now. Dana pads softly, respectfully, past Mom’s ajar door, exhilarated by this rare power to turn a blind eye to the deep, pregnant slumber of adults that usually holds so much sway over Dana’s daily trajectories. She shuffles down the hall to the bathroom, eager to freshen and relieve, hurrying through the motions so as to get to the computer ASAP. Once Dana’s purple toothbrush is back in its holder and her hands are washed with the soap that lightly scents them eucalyptus, she prances, still diligently light on her feet, into the living room. The kitchen is to Dana’s left, near the front door; on the right are the couch and CRTV; past that is the sliding glass door that opens to the backyard, and dead ahead, on the other side of the dinner table, is the office nook, notable for: the computer and Pup, wiggling fitfully within the confines of his bed under the desk, yearning for clearance to launch, which Dana gives:

While the computer warms up, Dana goes over to the fridge for a cup of orange juice. When she returns to the desk, Dana opens one of its drawers and pulls out, from amongst uncapped pens, nubby pencils, rolls of scotch tape, sticky notes and highlighters, her beloved Discman and headphones tidily intertwined. Dana places them on the desk, then slides the drawer closed before opening the one under it, inside of which is the family library of books-on-disc. Dana retrieves The Hobbit as read by Rob Inglis, pulling out of its warped box the package of discs, all in pristine condition despite years of use. A piece of folded notebook paper, the dedicated record of timestamps, is also in the box, and Dana uses it to confirm

that she is on Disc Five, 02:06:37. Five is already loaded in the Discman, so she puts on her headphones and sets about bringing herself back up to speed.

Soon enough, Dana’s computer game is booted up and she has resumed her third listen-through of The Hobbit as read by Rob Inglis. She listens again and again because of how much she loves Tolkien’s story and because of how good it feels to hear Inglis’s reading, immediately blissing Dana out, the tingles gently cloaking her neck and shoulders like a cloak. A key comfort is granted by the mode of Inglis’s reading, a recording, which asks no commitments from Dana as the listener, unlike Mom, who gets tired and asks every so often whether Dana is still paying attention, and at her third listen, Dana’s enjoyment of The Hobbit is not gained by comprehension, it is gained by exposure to Inglis’s magical oration, an imprecise and generous alchemy always casting a spell on Dana, who knows she loves so much more than just a sound.

through the familiar motions of pouring out Pup’s dry food as he inserts himself underfoot and whines like he’s never been fed before. Dana explains to Pup that his behavior doesn’t help, but hinders the efficacy with which she can deliver him lamb and rice kibble. Pup never listens. Pup believes he makes food happen, and soon Pup is tucking in, loudly scarfing, and Dana is hopping into the leather swivel chair in front of the computer, sitting criss-crossapplesauce and gripping the edge of the faux-hardwood desk to pull herself forward, chest to keyboard. Dana presses the computer’s power button, turning it orange to green, and watches the machine wake up all at once like she does, humming in spurts and giving off staticky beeps.

She‘Yep!’goes

Fiction NEW READER MAGAZINE | 79 was ‘trending’ by the time the sun rose, the unwelcome online spotlight ignited almost singularly by a reply from ‘sophie23ISTANDAGAINSTIZIONISTS’ that read, ‘your going to heaven obvi bestie but can we stop putting old white men on a pedestal plsssss+thank u,’ a sentiment which attracted an uneven ratio of mockery, support, and grandiose critique. ***

Teddy Burns is a writer from Brunswick, Maine. He graduated from Bates College with an English major in 2019. His day job is working in a local coffee roastery, but he uses any free time he has to pursue his passions of fiction and songwriting. He has published his work on his personal website, which doubles as his portfolio. You can visit his social media accounts “@tedburns97” on Twitter and “@tedburnsssss” on Instagram.

Contributor’s Corner 80 | NEW READER MAGAZINE RM

Artist’s Corner

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Through the exploration of visual myth-making Larissa Monique Hauck expands on concepts surrounding femininity, queerness, and nature as vessels for catharsis. Her ethereal artworks reflect a duality between fantasy and reality, by conjuring dream-like imagery that develops into a transformative state considering the fleeting aspects of time, impermanence, and life itself. Her notional subjects evoke vulnerability and reveal a relationship between queer identity, consciousness, and nature.

Larissa Monique Hauck

https://larissamoniquehauck.com/

NEW READER MAGAZINE | 83

Artist’s

Corner

Artist’s Corner

https://www.instagram.com/artsfromcards/

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The artworks are an attempt to explore the occult, weird and uncanny. They follow the underlying archetypal tropes in mythology, folklore and human relationships with animals and nature. The medium that deserves a special place in this contemplation is Tarot, a language of symbols that triggers the intuitive and imaginative power to capture these hidden meanings.

Karolina Mochniej “Arts from Cards”

Artist’s Corner

Elinora Westfall

86 | NEW READER MAGAZINE

It’s one of my favorites that I’ve done and I actually have it up in my bedroom. It’s a portrait I did of Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer from The Cranberries, before she died. It’s called Dreams, after a song of theirs that changed the course of my life.

Artist’s Corner

Yzelle Messinger

Artist’s

My artwork uses mixed media paper and black ink pens. I made a mistake and tried to use whiteout for something but I ended up using the whiteout like paint for part of the piece because I didn’t have white paint on me at the time. It’s about sheltering oneself from others and finding it difficult to open up because of past wounds, but the two white dots in the keyholes represent a connection between two people and symbolize hope in this situation.

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https://www.instagram.com/lil_azuki_bean/

Corner

88 | NEW READER MAGAZINE

Nick Stephenson

“To unlearn a habit that is detrimental to one’s soul can be momentous. To venture into the unknown and unfamiliar is unorthodox but bestows an awakening”

Artist’s Corner

NEW READER MAGAZINE | 89

Artist’s Corner

90 | NEW READER MAGAZINE

Artist’s Corner

NEW READER MAGAZINE | 91

Artist’s Corner

Corner

Max Betonio @maxcheekies

92 | NEW READER MAGAZINE

Artist’s

Do not be disheartened by the challenges that come your way. They are necessary. The collapse of the tower makes room for something new.

Artist’s Corner

NEW READER MAGAZINE | 93 “Change can be scary, there is doubt as to whether or not you will arrive at your point of destination. However, one thing is absolute, you will discover your strengths and capabilities as to who you were meant to be. Keep moving forward and do it anyway.” “Mabs” Mabby @maxcheekies

Artist’s Corner

Artist’s Corner

It all started during the year when COVID started. As we all know, change is constant and inevitable, but at that time I seemed to be stagnating in a situation where all I did was eat, sleep, and watch movies and series because of the lockdown. Everything changed when my ex arrived in my life. As much as I would not like to revolve this story around him, he did play a big role in my fall and rise like the Tower, whether it be upright or reversed.

Once the truth came out and I had to accept the reality of things, my world came crashing down on me in ways I could have never imagined. I and my ex had a legal fight that’s still happening now at present, but compared to when it started when everything selfdestructed, everything is now rebuilding as of writing.

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Sofia Massini

When I met him, I was head over heels in love with him. Our relationship was smooth sailing to the point that we were ready to settle down and have a family of our own. And with that love, my son was borne. Little did I know that those were all ambitions and goals made on false premises. I expected the unexpected while

Towering at five foot nine and being a nationality where women weren’t of tall physique, life for me became quite interesting given the circumstances. Ever since my growth spurt, I came to realize how my height was a blessing in disguise and a curse at the same time. It was a blessing in a way that I received a lot of appreciation and opportunities that were given only to those of similar stature as me such as modeling and pageantry. It was also a curse because whenever I mounted public transportations here, I’d usually bump my head, or my legs were too long to be able to sit down comfortably. My height was also a factor in me having a hard time looking for a partner because of the stereotype that men have to be taller than you in a relationship. But just like the 16th tarot card, the Tower, I’m not just any solid structure that would be easily brought down by one bolt of lightning. It takes so much more than that.

A year ago, I surrendered to destruction and chaos even if it was unwanted and painful, but if I didn’t surrender, I wouldn’t have grown and made my soul evolve. I believe that I have grown stronger, wiser, and more resilient because of what I went through. I wasn’t prepared for the abrupt change that happened which was unavoidable, disastrous, and life-altering, but even so, I survived and am continuing to thrive. And so should you— should any obstacle come into your life.

I was carrying my child because I was thinking that we would be happy, but it was suddenly chaotic. The next events that followed shook my core affecting me physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I thought I was safe, I thought I was comfortable—but little did I know that what I was experiencing was already a Tower moment. Like the Tower’s illustration, this signified the lightning bolt of clarity and insight cutting through the lies and illusions that I have been believing. Once the truth came out and I had to accept the reality of things, my world came crashing down on me in ways I could have never imagined.

THRIVING TOWERINGAND

NeverThyselfClearlyButSubjectOftentimesDestruction,unwanted,Mattersoftenevaded.whatisOrderwithoutChaos?CreationwithoutDestruction?onecannotlivewithouttheother.isthesupremesculptoroftheBeing.TheArtistcreates,notwithoutmistakes.TheArtistrenews,ifsuchapathisObscure.FearnotofDestruction,butofDesolation,FearnotofChaos,butofaBlindCause,fear,Neverfalter,LettheShiftcomenear.DestructionpavesthewayforCreation,Chaosgrantsorder.Andforonce,Letlife,asyouknowit,end,inordertobeginagain.

The Shift

96 | NEW READER MAGAZINEChaosand

Artist’s Corner

BEN GOODING

Artist’s Corner

Corner

Artist’s

The Tower

Artist’s Corner

SARAH EROY

In the chaos, I am forced to shatter my beliefs, In the chaos, I am forced to flip the paradigms, In the chaos, I am forced to find the bits of light, Rebuild life amidst the confusion, Change what is needed, Search for the truth, For a propitious life.

Helping you connect with your audience online and beyond.

Articles inside

The Shift

1min
pages 96-97

Thriving and Towering

2min
pages 94-95

The Tower

1min
page 92

Dreams

1min
page 86

Teeth

1min
pages 82-83

Name Your Sound

22min
pages 74-81

untitled

1min
page 87

The Offering The Magician Rats

1min
pages 84-85

My Little World

3min
pages 72-73

The Impersonation of Walden Wynne

17min
pages 66-71

Mercedes at the Airport

13min
pages 62-65

Home Is Where the Shipping Label Is

2min
pages 56-57

The things we did in the dark Then and Now

2min
pages 58-61

The Cherubim of Still Fruit Finger Tips A Synopsis of the Feast of Crows and the Followers of Carrion

4min
pages 48-53

Mother

1min
pages 54-55

Friend of My Mind

1min
pages 46-47

Frogs

1min
pages 42-45

Dead Dove: Do Not Eat

2min
pages 38-41

Vicious Ripples of Life The Sun

2min
pages 22-27

Excerpt from bestseller Bill Arnott’s new memoir, A Season on Vancouver Island

10min
pages 6-9

Everything Is a Storehouse of Inspiration

9min
pages 14-21

Milky

1min
pages 36-37

Lizard Lounging

1min
pages 28-29

The Yellow Hood

3min
pages 10-11

Benny Bigelow

2min
pages 30-33

Known to Us

1min
pages 34-35
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