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EMERGENCY EXIT. EXITS ARE IDENTIFIED BY RED HANDLES ON THE SIDE OF WINDOWS. LOCATE YOUR NEAREST EXIT. She looks out the window at the reflection of the blue plastic seats outside the window at the ghosts of the nocturnal sleepers & readers passing through the outside of the window three feet above the pavement. At the reflection of the bus & seats & ghosts sliding along

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storefront windows, blocking mannequins’ views of the passerbys & the reflections of the passerbys & mannequins & sidewalk mirroring the mannequins’ gaze, walling in the passerbys & sidewalk, watching from both sides from the bus & storefront windows. These all go by too fast for the catching, except the ghost sleepers, the lollers & readers who remain suspended & slowly stationary. The backgrounds slip past them. A girl in the bus turns backwards, says she feels like she’s drowning. Turns back. Adjusts her shirt, disappears behind her hood into her book. Her nearest exit is her book. The sound of the bus has been turned off. In the


front of the bus, a balding head and a furry hat mouthe at one another, gesticulate for emphasis. Two fingerless beige gloves silently adjust the plastic bag peering out from a soggy boot. When they mouthe to one another, bubbles form at their lips & drift upward, mingling above their heads before blinking out of existence. This bus is full of water & they’re pouring all that life & all that breathing into those bubbles. A woman’s hair floats in billows around her head. She holds her breath & does not blink.


Inside the rough blanket I lay, rings of silk, skin, flesh and bone: years under a weave of purple bark. Roots, branches, spread deep into the night, drinking black oxygen from empty corners. Nothing is missing in those shadows, in the soft covers next to me or the light outside the door. The emptiness is filled with a buoyant impulse to siphon

alexandrea shaefers

water and minerals and light through my core. It is a mysterious heartbeat: a decision to let the soft machinery of life do its work, to not interfere with some idea that it should be different, with some belief in time or loneliness. They are the same unrest anyway. The night tucks its downy quilt around my branches and hums in shadows and the constant motion of air. I wake up everyday wondering what love is. I let the wind sway my branches, carry off twigs in his hair. I let the snow rest her burning winter burden in my boughs. I let the autumn pluck all my summer memories for the soil and watch each flaming leaf dance its one precious dance. Still, I wonder


what love is until the night wraps me in stars or the wind draws slowly over my limbs, dropping questions carelessly on the floor next to the bed. • He mails me a parable of the Dead Sea, a sea no water flows into because no water flows from it. I flee to the woods into the arms of trees. They soothe me with their rushing leaves and steadfastness—being always, exactly where I left them—

the crags of their bark. Above, branches split off from each other, over and over. I listen and let my life grow its own way, making a lace of histories and decisions against the sky. I will never see him again. He will find someone generous and oceanic. I will find the moon in my branches, the silver light of his skin slipping into my bed, whimsical

SPRING 2009 / 13

each, unoccupied and available to hold tears in

and drunk. • The wind is the only thing that ever made me feel attractive. I could be completely unkempt, doughty even, with an albatross of sadness around my neck. But the wind will come fluttering in my coat, drawing me into a squint like all hell is gocause the wind is about to undress me and pull me down. Because the wind is brushing my hair out of his way and kissing my face like he hasn’t been around for ten years and has been thinking of me the entire time. He picks moss out of my branches, rattles my deep twigs, pulls a few weak ones to the ground for the birds to salvage. I keep walking against his insistence, smelling the scent of entire forests on him. • I hobble aimlessly across a swale of concrete, like a crow estranged from its murder. What cruelty does the air feel towards me that its currents have

alexandrea shaefers

ing to break loose when I cross the street, be-

not carried us to the same spot at the same time for weeks? I have wasted countless meetings pinned under fear, no words, no smile even—every impulse a small green plant writhing under a rock. The question should have been simple, would you like to get together to talk over tea, or coffee…a walk even…anything besides this heavy desk where

alexandrea shaefers

we are each a bounty for time. But I was far too aware that the question would want to evolve, to someday be, do you love me? The desire to never know, to never need to ask—a cumbersome stone on tiny green leaves. The other crows are deep in the shadows, drinking the darkness and rough wood like a conspiring tea. They will find me later, swoop in, swoop past. I will only hear their wings along the course blade of air. I will only feel them as weft in the weave, another line from the world’s story strung across the humid day, keeping thoughts from spilling into eternity where no one could question them. Eventually, I will let go of my gnawing interest and


politeness, of my dream that a warm feeling coupled with intense shyness is a symptom of destiny. He will find someone as formal and beautiful as himself and I will build roosts for crows. • The maple flutters every shade of crimson and orange outside the window. Each leaf throws summer back into the sky before turning in to the earth. I sit on some blankets piled on a trunk

and I flutter in the same light as the maple. The warmth of autumn’s wind and the dying colors is an unfamiliar glee that knows everything I do. Six years old, my steps on the carpet now have their own unburdened weight. My body fills with a tender strength and I am more of a woman than I will ever be at thirty.

SPRING 2009 / 15

by the window, smooth leaves billow through me

Outside, the trees will hold me with their inky net of stories and cavernous shade. They will teach me the deepest contentment, the wiliest grace, but the ways of people will remain more elusive than the language of branches. • He lets me hold his hand on the way to the car. be taking a swing at him. His tiny basement room should be rubble and dust, accusations echoing across the bed. Instead, I closed and locked the windows while he showered so he wouldn’t be late. The laurels of his backyard are huge, teeming with squirrels. Their raucous presence makes the humidity and brightness heavy and intimate as we walk through the gravel to my car. Everything became so earnest after truth branched out between us through the sheets. There was only one question to ask, branches unfurling instantly in the current of my breath. He answered no, a leaf whose shape

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He was surprised it still felt comfortable. I should

clearly identified the truth between us. His skin lost its tough armor of luck under the blossoming shade and my heart folded on a righteous claim to his. Our bodies twined closer in disappointment and salt water than they ever had in eagerness and sweat. As I drop him off he plants his lips firmly on mine,

alexandrea shaefers

no lingering brood, no gracious well-wishing. It is the only thing to do—a bird shaking his wings as he lands on a new perch. He will find someone as tough and intricate as himself and I will hold owls in the hunt. • The sheets are just heavy enough to make themselves known on my skin. The alarm has not sounded and I want to bask in the softness of cotton and early morning light, but there is a large seed in me, pulling towards water. Last night when the clouds walked me home, snuggled in their soft embrace and brooding kis-


ses, my heart was sad, and I was content to feel it at all. Every soft robin in the grass, every dark tree rising out of the verdant green was longing for the same love, and each step was a poignant memory of parting. At home the steam rose in wild billows from a silver pot. She crawled along the ceiling, unaware of the indoors, the defiance of nature, and followed physics like any wild thing. The apartment glowed mischievously. Light became intimate with

casting nests of soft shadows for all they made together. Now the night strokes the exact angles of my black, glistening branches before he snuggles deep in bed and the dawn pulls me off to find water. In the hall, the darkness seems sculpted and spea-

SPRING 2009 / 17

my meager little things on the shelves and walls,

king. It crowds around me and urges me to the window as if the light outside is about to be lost. Each step becomes an important venture, a possible failure, and there is no time to consider the errands of the day, the follies of yesterday. I kneel on the couch below the window and pull the blinds open, soft light spilling in through cedars and dust.

alexandrea shaefers


Dear monsters, horses, presidents, and wolves; I’ve built my life near the sea which keeps my breath among other breath and air into other blood say it shared with mine. It’s always one way or another. When every foot step dictates every dictation, I feel flower and whale and wisdom and caution and restraint and rebel and buckets.

erin birgy

My father named me Plank after the real world ran out of clean faces bracing heritage. The only thing reliable, to him, was a mildew-fetched teak entry way. There every whole-hearted friend of his took their own lives, leaving tearful goodguy’s wounds in that hardwood’s story; I held it like the most beautiful secret. It was recited every eve of my birthday. I held hands with blind ghosts on horse back, under electric wires, also sipped african teas (found wet with envelope glue). I knew of photographs traced by grandchildren, great. I knew hair length,


sleep tunes. I knew sleep and continued to live their dreams. I bled their blood and mine in buckets and set them out through pulley, system into sea. And into fishes guts to brain live supernaturally, multiple souls fed everything. Yum.


Suddenly, Eika’s ear was on the ground. She put her head there, pressed against dirt, moss, and leaves, to hear the giggling. Her mouth didn’t move, even when an ant zigzagged across her lips. She laid on the ground for 6 minutes and 42 seconds, listening to dirt.

seth vincent

She stood, emerging from a bed of sword ferns and salal to say, “It’s OK, they’re not awake yet.” Eika was staring at a boy her own age, who had the same haircut, similar blue jeans, and earthtoned t-shirt. “OK,” Fullerton said. Eika waved her hand, instructed Fullerton to join her on the little hill with the sword ferns. Fullerton didn’t move or speak. Eika fiddled with the bottom hem of her shirt.


“You’ll never hear them over there,” she said. Fullerton nodded. Eika exhaled. She held her hand up, then dropped it. Eika fell from sight. Fullerton stayed stationary. He did not speak. He

about his height, covered in ferns and other green leafy plants. He stared at the spot where Eika became air. •

SPRING 2009 / 23

stood for twenty minutes, staring at a small hill

Eika’s head came into Fullerton’s view. She was standing upright, her muscles sore from hiding in the ferns for so long. Fullerton disappeared. He fell, and Eika only stood still for 27 seconds before running to the spot where Fullerton used to stand.

Eika slowly bent over, stretched her body out and posed in that spot. She twisted her upper body and swung her arms to the left. She leaned back and looked at the tips of the nearby evergreen trees. She straightened, spun around a full turn, put her hands in the air and looked at the ground. “Fullerton,” she said,” I’m doing the please-comeback dance.” She moved her arms a little more, slowly laying down.

seth vincent

No hole, no Fullerton. No place to hide.

She shouted into the ground: “I’m going to sleep here until you get back.”


derek ryan hain

Eika slept until it got dark and cold, then left.


zosia wiatr

The sound of voices while you lie in bed, a conversation muffled by the door that closed, and every other word is led from one voice to another—now ignore the warm coo of parent’s late-night chat, remember your desires, then let them go, allow them to rest in recesses of your mind at a deeper, hidden place, an infinite plateau where the ground of stone spreads far and flat and nothing ever moves, except the slow celadon moss that creeps across the stone


or sometimes sends out spores that seldom grow.


Where there are jazz musicians playing cello and people wearing finery, that is where you will find her. Among the smoke the hangs in bars and the soft clanking of ice cubes in glasses, that is where you will find her. People of a preferred but not particular gender turn and ren morril

gaze at her, delicate wrists ash a cigarette and gesture in the language of poetry. Some of them know her. Some of them wish they knew her. Some of them wish they did not. As her single, china white thigh teases the ruby beads of up-stage curtain, The cellos seem to skip. The music seems to break. It becomes, sublime


disorderly discordant and fine. Possessed, their hands are compelled to play in the key of Asa. Like the musical overture, she suggests what is to come: She offers, three fingers, then her thumb a wrist, then a forearm, the elbow then the arm.

She offers, three fingers, then her thumb a wrist, then a forearm, the elbow then the arm.

SPRING 2009 / 29

Like the musical overture, she suggests what is to come:

A spiral motion, the shoulder sings. Like a moon emerging from clouds, She enters through the smoke, wearing diamonds and filth. The cinema-proscenium arch, preciously dark, goes crazy with lights. They chronicle the mysterious history of the stage queen. The cellos, ambient and strange, go crazy with sound.

A ghost of radiation, Asa smiles and removes the first of her seven robes of suicide. • “She was better last year,”Yes replies to No's gesture to the stage.“I'm tired of Asa. I want a new dream. A new celebrity.” The lights flicker a brilliant, multicolored, diamond, celluloid, “I love her,” No sighs. “I will always love her.” “You say that only because you haven't had her. Whoever said 'to know her is to love her' was either a liar or a fool.”

ren morril

They play unknown yet piercing melodies.

“What is she? Where does she come from? Why is she called Asa? That name, doesn't it sound like dying? Like dying light? Saying it is like speaking vocalizing the light of the evening.There is a purity there but an ambiguity...” Yes takes a sip of his drink, indifferent to No's musings, “I wonder how many robes she will take off to night.” “I hope she takes them all off. I hear that her skin is reflective in such a way that those who look upon her too long go blind.” “That's a myth perpetrated by candy junkies.” “I hear that you do not go completely blind. It's really more a matter of taint than an actual dysfunction of the faculty. One still sees but for at time, one sees the world through a lens. A distortion the color of Asa.” “You sound like a Vid-box advertisement for Candy. I have seen Asa over a dozen times now and am no different for it. She's nothing more than a cabaret star with delusions of priestessing.” “I think she is a dream. A dream of dying light. With out her, we would be lonely.”

SPRING 2009 / 31


Their hands move in unison. One of them is the leader, but from where I am sitting it is hard to decipher who, exactly, that is. Perhaps it is the short one plucking the keys. He is unshaven, and vagrant looking, unkempt in such a way that would lead you to think he is some kind of genius and doesn’t have the time for such trivialities. The movement is in his fingers. They are quick, as if loaded by springs. They

adam jessup

flicker and flint as he strikes the ivory. The motion seems to reverberate calmly as it moves through his body, traveling all the way down to his feet, where it is released, sent into the foundation of the building in the form of taps from his wing tipped shoes. The jickety-jack of the bass player’s fingers against the cherry fretboard remind me of the clicketyclacking of my own fingers against the sallow keys of my typewriter, though his is more rhythmic and spontaneous–legato–and




tedious–staccato. He cradles the enormous girth of wood as if it were his invalid child, looking over it’s shoulder intently, teaching it the notes, hoping


that one day it will be able to make these beautiful sounds all by itself. There is just enough light peeking in from the street lamps outside for me to make out a few faces here and there; they are, for the most part, obscured by the darkness and mood lighting. I take a few, long draws of beer from my glass. Depression era green1. 1

When I was a kid

my mother had an entire cabinet full of depres-

sion glass. Inside was an assortment of plates and dishes; they were

mostly green and pink, but there were a few blue pieces as well. Those were more rare.

When she was growing up, the large food manu-

pany mixed. Mostly townies with their wool coats and hand-rolled cigarettes. Maybe even a plaid fedora or two. There are a few snowbirds lurking as well. They probably came up for a few days of skiing over the long weekend. The jazz is good, but not that good. Not to draw any out-of-towners.

SPRING 2009 / 33

The beer is bad, but the music is right, and the com-

Outside, there is whiteness in feet, growing as each hour passes. Every time someone opens the door a little bit rushes in, eager to land on the heated, cement floor and return to liquid once again. It builds up on the window sills and frosts the glass making the place look Christmassy, but in a sickening sort of way. The people stand in the doorway, shaking the white flakes from their coats, unraveling thick scarves from their necks, and thumbing the wad of one dollar bills from their pockets they’ll use to warm their

I sit in a booth next to the windows, which are segmented with panes that make them look like tictac-toe boards, and watch as the band hums along. Mostly I watch the singer. She’s a real crooner. Every time she hits a high note she throws her head back and sends me a suggestive look. Her eyes say–Don’t ever let me get you alone, or I’ll tear you apart! My phone shakes in the pocket of my trousers. It’s a text from Angie. “Be there soon!” it says. I’ve been waiting nearly an hour for her and have already fifacturing companies would put a piece in the boxes of their products to encourage people to buy them; or sometimes they were handed out to you as you went into the movie theater.

adam jessup


nished my beer. Bits and pieces of people’s conversations are audible in the lulls between songs. People talking about the war and the economy. They talk about the people who are in office, and how they have sure as hell run the country into the ground. “We’re all just a bunch of suckers,” someone says. And, “Anarchy must pre-

adam jessup

vail,” says another. “What do they know?” I think. They combat problems with more problems. They don’t have any solutions. At the bar I see a girl I know. Her name is Dana. She’s the source of an old crush that has mostly died. We talk for a while, catching up, and laughing. She asks me how I’ve been and says it’s good to see me; all those things you say to someone when you want them to think you actually care. I get small urges as we chat. Like little bolts of electricity arching between my toes. I know they are mere vestiges. The feelings reside in the memories2 more than the moment3. I still think she is beautiful though. Once, when Dana and I had heard too much jazz and swallowed Her apartment was not far, just a few blocks up from the bar, on fifth. It wasn’t too cold outside, but she walked with her arms around me, inside of my coat. I remember thinking it was a good sign. Her hands gripped my ribcage with urgency, like what we were about to do was driven by some philanthropic necessity rather than wanton lust. I also remember wondering how many times Dana had done this; probably a few, if not more. She seemed the type. Nothing happened at her place; I was indecisive, young, and skittish, and she was getting over someone.



too much liquor we walked home together.


Now, we’ve reserved ourselves to apprehension when we run into

each other, waiting to see who, if anyone, will make the first move.

However, the only thing between us now is a ghost. 4 I tell myself

it’s not a nervous habit, that I’m only keeping the beat of the song so the band knows I’m following them, and that I’m not worried about being stood up. especially to myself.

But I

think, also, that


am a terrific liar,

I tell Dana that it was good to see her too, and that we should get a drink sometime. She raises her glass, saying nothing. Angie is still a no-show. At my booth, I work on an-

SPRING 2009 / 35

The band strikes up with an Ella Fitzgerald number.

other drink and keep time with the band by tapping the side of the glass with my fingers. Scanning the lounge’s landscape, I notice a drunk in the corner dancing with himself. Some poorly rendered tribal art hangs on the wall directly behind him, furthering the incongruity of the setting. But he is little, if at all, aware of his surroundings. He’s probably never had such a good time. When you’re not looking right at him he disappears, but as soon as you turn your head one way or the other, there he is, smilucky. There’s not one thought in his head other than trying to stand on both feet. He’s not worried about a girl, or his sick mother, or the end of the world. He just dances. Drunkenly. Stupidly. Completely free. I watch the old man with the guitar. He works his hands up and down the neck vigorously, but the sound is surprisingly soft, the notes quick and precise. Thick beads of sweat form on his forehead as a result of the silver mane of hair and subsequent beard that surrounds it, but he pays it no attention whatsoever; his eyes continue to follow the notes, his hands following his eyes, my eyes following his hands, which also, sometimes, follow his eyes, and so forth.

adam jessup

ling and swaying in the narrows of your eyes. He is

After a while the place slowly begins to empty. Men retrieve woolen coats from the coat rack, top heavy with garments, and women re-garland their necks with knitted scarves. Stretching a pair of thin leather gloves over her slender hands, I watch a woman slip, with great elegance, into a coat being held out by her brutish, onlooking boyfriend. Once around her, she pulls it snug and fastens the double breast in three precise movements while flapping the collar up around her neck to break the wind outside. As if someone were mechanically fading them out with a volume knob, the band becomes more quiet with each song until their resounding ceases altogether. The lounge is noticeably darker than when the night began, however the rosy-bulbed light fixtures dangling from the ceiling and elsewhere do not appear any less luminous. Perhaps the absence of faces, pinned back in laughter or otherwise, has something to do with the growing darkness of the room. The people who are here appear to be in the significant throes of torpidity, likely induced by alcohol and in-


clement weather. The band puts up quickly. Nearly mindlessly. As if the instruments could find their way to their respective cases without any kind of guidance. The singer reaches for a red, bulbous vase of sorts, which she has playfully anthropomorphized throughout the night, referring to it as “The World’s Most Romantic Tip Jar.” Hastily she empties its spoils onto a table, counting and divvying the meager amount between the four of them. I wander to the bar, inquiring to

drink. Before the exchange occurs another jolt from my quivering phone sends me hurtling outside to answer it. However, there was no call, just another text message from Angie that said, “Hey. Got tied up. Won’t make it now. Apologies. Talk later.” The bitterness of the cold encourages sobriety, stunting the effects of the booze. I hunch my shoulders and slump against the jamb of the door, seeking some amount of shelter from the wind. I slip a cigarette out of my jacket pocket and with a matchbook, produce a small fire in my hand, which I allow to linger, savoring its momentary warmth. My head swims with fatigue and emotional incontinence. Lines from Bukowski’s “The Knife Waltz” stroke through as well. I am joined by the singer and the pianist who, standing opposite me, remove cigarettes of their own and begin to smoke. They don’t have too much to say to one another. The cold has a way of retarding extraneous conversation. The woman is swathed in a dense fur coat that seems more draped than worn. The single light above the doorway of the bar burns white with intensity and drenches the singer in a kind of film noir lighting that is both menacing and appropriate. Though her eyes are lost in the shadow of her prominent brow, from the position of her face I can tell that she is looking right at me. I make no effort to return her gaze and stare instead at my feet and the stub of cigarette left in my hand. In doing so, I imagine what our conversation would look like if one were to take place.

SPRING 2009 / 37

the heavily mascaraed bartender about yet another

“You’re here every week,” she says, taking a long drag off her cigarette, leaving the filter bloody with lipstick. “I guess I am,” I say. “So are you.” “Well,” she smiles and lets out one laugh, “I’m somewhat–obliged to be,” she says, drawing out the second syllable of obliged and gesturing with a gloved hand. “I suppose I am too.” Finally, the pianist shuffles off to his car, a beaten and bruised volvo station wagon. Only the woman remains. She shudders a little inside her expensive fur and knocks the heel of her shoes on the pavement. A car sputters to the curb and she disposes of her cigarette, trotting to the door. I follow her hurried steps to the edge of the sidewalk, where they stop abruptly. The woman turns toward me and says, “Thanks for coming, see you next week.” I try for words, but none


materialize. She disappears into the car and it disappears into the snow-covered street. An ingrowing warmth ensues. I know that I have missed the last bus from downtown. So I slosh down the streets, kicking powder ahead of me with each step towards home. My head floats to the belfry and sings to the moon, drunk with mirth, anxiety, drink, and disappointment.


Open a phone book, point to a name, make a call. PARKS David G 1987 Parkview Ave NW 409-6786 – Hey, this is Dave. – Hey, Dave.You don’t know me, but my name’s Roger Author. I’m friends with your sister. – My sister? I don’t have a sister.

derek ryan hain

Open a phone book, point to a name, make a call. CARLYLE Jonathan 403 2nd St 409-7623 – Carlyle residence. – Is this Jonathan? – Yep, this is he. – Hi, Jonathan.You don’t know me, but my name’s Roger Author. I’m friends with your sister. – Ha! Well, I’ve got a few of them! Which one are you speaking of? – Kuh—Cindy. Open a phone book, point to a name, make a call.


ROCKWELL Daniel 6640 Howl Pt Dr 409-9980 – Daniel? – Yeah? – Hey, Daniel. This is weird to talk to you. My name’s Roger Author. I’m friends with your sister. – Gina? – Yes! Gina. – Shit.That doesn’t make sense. I’ve really got nothing to do with that girl anymore. – Funny. She still speaks highly of you. – Hah! I doubt that, man. What’d she say? – She misses you, that’s all. I guess maybe she wanted me to try to patch things up. – Well, it’s a bit late for that. – Can I tell her that? – Tell her whatever you want, pal.

Meet Daniel Rockwell at Jackson Street Brewery, 9 p.m. Dress semi-casual: short sleeve button-up shirt, jeans, wristwatch. Look like a rube. Bring props: sealed envelope, New Yorker, sandwich from Paulie’s, cellular phone.

The first time I did this, I used Microsoft Visio to create a flowchart of possible scenarios. I stayed up all night the night before, committing myself to expand two initial situations exponentially by threes to fifty-four possible outcomes. This didn’t help one damn bit. When the time came, I froze up. I couldn’t remember any of my premeditated paths and made a stuttering ass of myself. The next time, I tried to wing it. The rendezvous went better, lasted longer. But what really started to help me wasVipassana meditation. I meditate ninety minutes a day now. I meditated an extra ninety prior to this meeting with Daniel Rockwell, but I’m still on edge. All I know is to keep lucid, to roll with the conversation, to speak as succinctly as possible, and to use the props when necessary. But all these instructions drop from my consciousness as soon as

derek ryan hain

The bar’s not crowded, which is bad. I look conspicuous. I’m sitting alone, “Roger Author,” in a booth facing the entrance. My palms are sweating. I’m holding a pint of IPA. I combed my hair for this and I don’t know why. Based on our phone conversation, I’m expecting Daniel Rockwell to look tough, probably acne-scarred, about thirty-five years old, in t-shirt and jeans. That’s the figure I’m watching for, anyway. I told him what I’d be wearing, and the general look of my face. “Kind of round,” I’d said, “With sort of innocent eyes, a big butt chin, and wavy brown hair”—all true statements, just enough to get by.

SPRING 2009 / 41

– Meet me for a drink, will you? Have you got the time? It’d mean a lot to her. – You’ve gotta be shitting me. Gina and I haven’t spoken for years. – No shit. She made it sound like only yesterday. – Bullshit. – No shit. – Yeah? How is she?

Daniel Rockwell enters the bar.

derek ryan hain

Rockwell is at least 230 pounds. I’m 150 last I checked. He’s pierced, once in the left ear, twice in the right eyebrow, potentially elsewhere. I was right about the acne scars and, probably, the age, but against my expectations he’s wearing a jean jacket and short khaki pants. Couldn’t have figured that. Also, he’s inked up and down his arms with tattoos. I can’t make out the designs until he’s standing right by my booth. At that point, I stop trying. “Author?” he asks. “That’s me.” “The way you talk about Gina, I would’ve never imagined her becoming.” His body fills the space between the table and the seat. He’s wedged in like a tennis ball in a chain-link fence. Amazingly, he looks comfortable. “That’s just the Gina I know,” I say. “It’s sad you haven’t seen her in so long.”


“Sad to you, man. It’s been a fine relaxing time for me, away from her madness.” “The way you talk about her, I wonder what she used to be like.” “Hah.” “You want a drink? I’ll get you a drink. Whaddaya drink?” “Nah, I don’t accept drinks from men.” “It’s on Gina. I’ll charge her for it, scout’s honor.” I stand up, down the remainder of my pint, and wait for Rockwell’s reply. The look on his face says that I’m a curious, amusing little creature, harmless. He can’t

“Tell Gina she owes me more than a single whiskey!” I turn around to see him, and a playful grin twists the deep scars on his cheeks. I buy him a double and bring it back to our booth. He has taken off his jean jacket and bespectacled himself with a pair of slightly askew white-framed eyeglasses. I think he looks like a burly home ec. teacher I once had. I slide his whiskey across the table to him and pull my foil-wrapped sandwich up from the seat beside me.

SPRING 2009 / 43

decide if he likes me or not. He fidgets a while with the salt-shaker near the wall, watching me. I do a nervous little juke with my shoulders, the meaning of which I have no idea, but it apparently convinces him for the drink, and he tells me to get him a whiskey, straight. As I’m walking away, he yells to me.

“You mind if I eat this sandwich?” I ask. “I had an early lunch, long day, some bad shit, you know.” “No difference to me. What’ve you got?”

Rockwell takes a heavy sip of his whiskey and makes a satisfied exhaling sound. I’ve got my hands full of an eight-inch sandwich. I start stuffing it into my mouth, very greedily, but actually taking small bites. Rockwell watches with brute astonishment. As I chew, I spitmumble a few words. “When’d you last see Gina?” I ask. “Hell if I remember. Four, maybe five years ago. She’d been seeing this kidTyler, a black guy. He played football at the college. She ever tell you about him?” I shake my head no. “Not too bad a guy but we didn’t get along. We just pissed each other off. You know how that goes? You know how that goes. Gina liked to put us together and see us fight. I think, the end of those nights, she’d have

derek ryan hain

“You know, tell you the truth, I bought it so long ago I don’t remember.”

him all riled up the way she liked him. Well, me and him this night we get into a discussion over at The P.T. Lounge, about—what was it about?—sports, women, it doesn’t matter. I call him a nasty name and…” Rockwell pauses for a gulp of his whiskey, and I take the chance, my mouth full of sandwich, to pop in the question.

derek ryan hain

“What’d you call him?” “A nignorant igger. Like,” Rockwell looks a little embarrassed, “’You nignorant igger, you dunno shit about what you’re saying,’ or whatever, whatever we were talking about.Tyler just stood up and shoved me right onto my ass. Gina comes out of the ladies’ room and she’s immediately screaming, ‘Tyler! Tyler!’ He’s all heated up so he starts telling her some shit about me, some drunken piss-talk, but Gina believes every word and she bends down and says, ‘Dan, you’re a real shit you know that?’ And I’m laying like a fat lump on the floor and I say, ‘You ain’t so hot yourself.’ She gets up and leaves with Tyler, leaves me on the floor.” “You never saw her again?” “Well, a time comes.”


“The way she told me, it just kind of happened. Nothing dramatic. Just a natural drifting apart.” “Well, she’s got her story and I’ve got mine.” We sit a while without speaking, drinking until our glasses are emptied. Rockwell shifts his weight all around behind the table to shrug back on his jean jacket. One of the sleeves is ripped, held together loosely with a safety pin. I crumple up the tinfoil left over from my sandwich and slip it into my pocket. Rockwell is drifting his eyes all around the bar, taking in booths, drunks, and dark-wooded decor, as he squeezes himself free of the booth. Recollect











create intentions.Write:

Daniel Rockwell is a thirty-six-year-old engineering technician. He was born in Illinois. His sister, Gina, is seven years his junior, an age gap which tinges Daniel’s brotherly love toward her with fatherly concern. As children, they bickered. While Gina was a teen, they fought. Daniel left home at 20 and Gina left, four years later, at 17. They supported each other, for a while, through a series of bad jobs and relationships. They got matching tattoos on their left forearms. When they had their falling out, Daniel disguised his by inking an elaborate design all around it, swallowing and obscuring it, whereas Gina kept her tattoo clear, though she got others elsewhere. She was, at this time, around 25, and romantically involved with an athlete named Tyler. Daniel was alone, unembittered but grown cautious from the broken relationships of his past. He tried to marry once, impulsively, but the union quickly became passionless and fizzled out in mutual dissatisfaction.

SPRING 2009 / 45


I’m “Roger Author”

I met with her brother, Daniel, on Gina’s request. She misses him. It was no surprise that Daniel is a nice guy, somewhat contemplative, but rough in appearance. He’s older, more reserved than Gina. I’d like to see the two of them back together. Problem is, I’ve never

derek ryan hain

I am Roger Author, and I’ve been seeing Gina Rockwell for about a month. I’m crazy about her, not least of all because she likes her men crazy. She’s blond, probably a false blonde, but I’ve never pressed her for the truth on the point. Typical of a twenty-nine-year-old, she’s stuck somewhere between the carefree vitality of early womanhood and the wearying disillusionment of adulthood. I like her tattoos. They are a constant reminder of the woman who lived before we met, the woman I will never meet. Her wild days are behind her, she says; I should’ve seen her back when… She tells me stories and pats my arm patronizingly. She thinks I’m naïve, a child.

actually met Gina, and she could be Problem is, I’ve lost Gina’s number. I lost my cell phone, and with it her number. I would go to her place but she never took me there. We always slept at my apartment.


derek ryan hain

Call Daniel Rockwell from pay phone on Hollander Street.Wait for heavy traffic noise. Play the convo. intense, off-the-cuff, but cool. Park nearby. – Yeah, whaddaya want? – Daniel? It’s Roger Author.You remember me? I’m friends with Gina? We met at the Jackson Brewery about a week ago? – Roger, yeah. Whaddaya want? – I’ve lost Gina’s number, lost my cell phone. Her number, it was on the cell phone. I can’t get in touch with her, and I really need to. – Shit, man, I ain’t got that number. – Could you get it, though? Through a mutual friend, maybe? – I don’t know who knows her.You know her better’n me. – Your mom, maybe? Could you call your mom? – Hah, Author, you don’t know who you’re asking to call his mom. – Daniel, I’m afraid Gina’s in trouble. – That’s nothing she hasn’t seen before, buddy. Just relax. – Daniel… Wait three days and then try again. Just relax. Meditate.Think without thinking: Daniel Rockwell is just a man. Like me. I am just Roger Author. Or I am not Roger Author. The people around me are manifestations of my consciousness, my being. I give them form. I am without desire.Whatever the present moment offers I accept. I can go this way or that; which way is inessential. The future is unattainable, and the past awaits discovery or invention.

I am not Roger Author. I am the wind blowing through my window, the sunshine, the noise of pedestrians on the street, the cars, the jackhammering, the smell of cigarettes and trash, all the sounds and sensations that disrupt my meditation every day.

SPRING 2009 / 47

My mind is chemicals or neurons or spiritual matter. It’s not for me to understand. My eyes closed, I see patterns and landscapes, hear voices and tones. I create, it seems, without effort.

Call Daniel Rockwell.

Meet Daniel Rockwell for drinks, 8:30 p.m., the Jackson Street Brewery. Drinking another IPA, I begin to daydream. My daydreams are intense. As a child, I used to daydream. I would imagine fantastical things, like monsters and armored knights and science fiction scenarios. But as I grew older, in my early and mid teens especially, my daydreams changed. I had the sexual fantasies appropriate to an adolescent, but I also fantasized about strangers on buses and cashiers in grocery stores and men sitting on street corners. Once I’d gained the confidence to talk to these strangers, I found that their stories invariably paled to those I had invented for them.

derek ryan hain

– Daniel, this is Roger Author. – You again, huh? Did Gina turn up the other day then or what? – Nope. Daniel, I don’t think I’m going to find her. – When she wants to disappear, she’s gone.You ain’t the only one it happened to. – I don’t know. I just thought, you know, that she’d turn up. I’ve asked around and… – Asked around like who? – Like the guy where she works.The guy who introduced us. – Oh yeah? Where’s she work? I figured she’d split town. – I think she has. – Wouldn’t be the first time.

derek ryan hain


I became a writer. Throughout college, my work with fiction was well-received. All my English comp. professors encouraged me to go to graduate school. They said that I should make a career of storytelling, that I had a God-given knack for the craft of narrative and a facile understanding of the English language. But their accolades failed to inspire me. I would attend literary readings and yawn with boredom. I began to write stories attacking all the current literary trends. I targeted my fellow writers directly, incorporating them into dull stories about the writing process and the so-called “literary life.” Eventually, I had alienated myself from the scene. I got a job filing government documents. My next piece of fiction took as its main character one of my co-workers, a clever man named Bart. I showed this piece to no one but Bart. I read it aloud to him on a smoke break, and he laughed and laughed at the portrayal I’d made for him. He said,“That’s a great little anecdote. I’m surprised it didn’t really happen. Mind if I tell it someday as my own?” He asked for a copy of the story, and I gave him one, then deleted the master document from my laptop. I began composing on a typewriter. I tailored every story to one or two real-life people, then gave each person the type-written copy. Sometimes, I wrote for strangers in cafés. Sometimes, I wrote for relatives. Eventually, I began inventing the stories on the spot. I set down my IPA and pick up an envelope, addressed to me, by me, in an imitation female scrawl.The return address is blank, though the letter inside is signed, “Gina.” The postmark is lightly printed, but local. This flaw might reveal, to a critical eye, that I wrote the letter and sent it to myself, but I’m counting on Daniel Rockwell not to inspect the envelope very closely. He walks into the bar late, around 8:50 p.m. I wave to him from the booth. He looks tired. He appears to be wearing the same clothes as last time we spoke. He’s already got his eyeglasses on. The bartender pours him a whiskey and he joins me at the booth.

“Long day?” I ask. “Full. The length is always the same. It’s just what you shove into it wears you down.”

SPRING 2009 / 49

Before sitting down, he motions that I should drag the table toward myself to make room for him. I do, but I can’t pull the table back far enough to accommodate his belly entirely. He takes off his jean jacket, throws it down on the seat near the wall, and squeezes in beside it. He sighs.

He drinks from his whiskey glass and looks around the bar. Again, it’s nearly empty. “This your haunt?” he asks me “Yeah, I like it. It’s quiet. The drinks are cheap. The light’s not too dim, not too bright. You could read a book, play pool, have a chat. It’s just a place that works, whatever you got going on.” “Figures for you.”

“You know, I just can’t see Gina going for you. The Gina I know.” “Funny you mention it,” I say. “She came to the same conclusion.” I hold up the envelope briefly and then slide it across the table for Rockwell to see. He looks down at it sullenly. “What makes you think I wanna see this tripe?” “I’m not going to do anything else with it but throw it in the trash. Give it a read.” Rockwell fingers his earring, considering this, and though I don’t show it, I’m on edge. He takes off his eyeglasses and sets them beside his drink. His thick

derek ryan hain

I give him a curious look, raise an eyebrow, and grin.

fingers pick the letter out of the envelope and unfold it on the table. He leans over, and his head turns everso-slightly as he reads. Daniel,

derek ryan hain

It’s not that I don’t want you to know where I am, but you just as well not. You knew it was over, right? I can be bad about that kind of thing. I try to figure out on my own when the time comes and leave before things go too bad. But sometimes I fuck up. I’m in Baltimore. I don’t have a job yet but my friend who I’m living with says he’ll set me up at the place where he works. It’s a hotel. Kind of crummy, but it’ll get me by. This guy I’m with reminds me of my brother, but Spanish and younger. Younger than me, actually. You’d like him if you weren’t so jealous. I’ve got no plans to come back. Nothing was so bad back there but nothing was keeping me in place. Maybe nothing will keep me here.


Gina “Is this to you or to me?” Rockwell asks, looking up at me. “Me.” Rockwell rotates the paper and slides it across the table for me to read. “She got your name wrong.”


Luca unwedges her feet from inside sodden canvas shoes.The green, thin-soled mary-janes, they make her feel like dancing. It is the first time she has worn them since the rains began, when she hung them on a peg in the closet and closed the door with a sigh. A few rays of sun are breaking off the layer of clouds capping off the sky. Today, for the first time, it looks like the rains

amelia robertson

are letting up. Luca remembers how She stepped into a steaming shower, her forehead furrowed, fumbling with the faucets in her new numbness on the first day of rain. This was the first season of rain in her new city. Luca had been told ahead of time. She knew to roll up pant legs, or wear short skirts.Take off shoes and wade the ankle deep water that would begin to gather through the whole town. No shoes in the world would keep feet dry in that weather. Boots only sluiced little rivulets into the toes. She has been warned that newcomers to the city who


tried to cling to their old sock ways would see their skin begin to peel within the first weeks. Soon there would red, raw, wrinkled areas. There would be blisters and open sores. Then it would be nearly impossible to go anywhere for the rest of the winter. It would be too painful to continue to irritate the area with sodden wool, or to attempt to make the switch to barefoot. Better to brave it right away, her office mother has told her. Her name is Mauve, but Luca calls her office mother to herself. Stick your feet into the cold water

Only the first ten minutes really hurt. Luca had stepped into the chill of the bathroom and imagined how the cold will become a numb warmth that pebbles and sticks could not penetrate. •

SPRING 2009 / 53

on the first day of the rains and get on with it, she said.

Entering the foreign living room, Luca leaves her shoes by the door where they rest, conspicuous on the linoleum. • With the rains, bicycle couriers, schoolchildren and traffic cops abandoned their shoes.

shadowy groups of youth. Luca tries not to stare at four or five gathered indolently a certain building corner when she passes on the way to her co-worker’s house. They wear shoes that don’t attempt to keep the water out, canvas tennis shoes are usually the device of choice; cheap and permeable. Luca caught sight of a pair of pink canvas mary-jane flats, sister to her green ones and looked suddenly into the eyes of a shorn being her own age. Ihey may have been the same age, the same build, but it is hard to tell. The other’s body is concealed with a shock of

amelia robertson

The only ones who continued to wear them were

patches and rags that looks hand-made and ostentatious; clumsy. • At the party, her shoes behind her in the doorway, Luca looks into the mirror hanging in the entranceway.

amelia robertson

Their eyes, she realizes, are the same shade of brown. At the office, she had heard Mauve, snapping her bubblegum and chattering. Recruits came and went as they pleased in the summer months, often quite normal looking and passing shoeful between regular citizens without drawing a glance. Mauve was gleeful with the gossip of new graffiti, of slight vandalisms, strange appearances and disappearances around the city. Mauve claims the curious and rebellious pass in and out of their ranks freely during the dry times, she should know, because her nephew, bless his soul.... had started wearing those odd little patches on his backpack. So the regular kids were allowed, welcomed, pal-


led around with until the winter rains, when choices must be made. It is then that the numbers of became distinct, and dwindled. “Ought to be shot, for all the good they’re gonna do in the world,” Luca’s boss had said, leaning across her desk to grab her stapler. The other intern, in a desk kitty-corner to the right, had raised his eyebrows.

short sleeves and a stubby tie made off with her stapler. “When do they start looking like that?” Luca had asked, a week before the office party. “Like what?” Mauve looked at her strangely, blinked

SPRING 2009 / 55

“What, I’m joking!” and the blue button up shirt with

and changed the subject. “Someone should really clean out the break fridge, I’m sure that that cake has been in there since Jeanie left, so that’s been 7 weeks? It’s got to be unhealthy, probably dangerous.” Cautious, Luca took the cellophane wrapped cake from the fridge after lunch, and poked a fork into it. It seemed little crunchy, but harmless. She took it to the bathroom and ate it in a stall, perched on the toilet bowl to hide her feet and drawing sharp, shallow breaths. She

• On the way to the office party, Luca realizes that this will be the first time she has talked to office people outside the office. • Businessmen slapping through the rain, pant legs rolled and ironed into a neat crease past a group talking under a street lamp. Luca squishes through the sodden dusk to an office dinner party.

amelia robertson

decided that the crunchiness was an improvement.

Luca takes off her shoes by the door. She checks her hair in the mirror. She greets each person. She takes a square of cake and sits in the living room, balancing the cake on a napkin on her knee.The others murmur in the dining room. Her boss’s daughter wanders in, scuffs her feet on the

amelia robertson

carpet and rolls her eyes. Luca asks her about the tattered jacket she is wearing. She says she knows someone who wore shoes for a while, though she only made it a month into the start of the rains. “Why would she do that?” Luca asks. “Quit?” “Try to join them.” The girl shrugs and scuffs, “Dunno.” She looks over Luca’s shoulder at the flats on the linoleum and walks


away. When Luca leaves, there is a patch in the bottom of one of her shoes. It is of two cherries joined together. On the cherries are the faces of skulls. Luca sticks the patch quickly into the pocket of her rain jacket and hurries out into the rain.


Rubbing ginger spice deodorant on the bottom of her foot, she placed her twizlered ankles back into boots of war it was getting very stinky since goodness had lost its grip and all

v. r. mooshe

Splashing ketchup on her brains, she made love to Manhattan, adorning freckled lips she thought the road was getting very shaky since the world has lost its grip on goodness and all the famous green and blue ball spinning out to ‘who let the dogs out” was whip lashing harmonious chords and people didn’t know what to do except for stay in dark places and people didn’t know what to do


except for tighten all their long laces and people didn’t know what to do now that goodness was no more motion was not hated and not one, jealous of their prime, movies lost their superstars, but clocks they kept their time moonlight was not woo-d upon and donuts lost their yum

most perceived themselves as ‘done’ It was long walks fighting for the return of pleasure it was short nights and sleepless days anyone without the good in them, would have to go insane even little children, their hands held out to wave at nobody’s and passer-bys who knew not how to crave

SPRING 2009 / 59

no hats or cover creme put on

everything was moderate, and Bad, not thrilled to win not scared to move we were, without having Good’s shoes to fill in a little dude, ‘bout 2 or 3 decided to chime in you’ll see by what he knew about the trouble we were in:

“if sex were more like music if music were more like sunrises if sunrises were more like monologues and stormy seas were more if sex were more like stormy seas and monologues, like music then, what, if everything was nice, should sunrises need more of? or should they steal away exiled from this grove and stand a circus freak for those in line were told that a sunrise was the oddest thing that ‘made toes warm and grow.’

v. r. mooshe

if monologues were more like stormy seas


“Britney Spears, yeah,” “Oh, man, she’s crazy!” “Yeah, but she’s hot! I’d marry her!” “She’s gotta lotta money, too!”

derek ryan hain

“Yeah, and she can MOVE! You seen that video? She’s moving everything, and she’s tight! Not like Christina Aguilera; I wouldn’t even date her!” The young man speaking was, despite his youth, going bald. What hair he did have was unruly and blended into an equally unruly beard. His clothes were ill-fitting, his dingy green shirt barely covering the fat hanging over the belt holding his khakis up over his non-existent ass. His toes, with their untrimmed nails, were hanging over the edge of ratty walking sandals. Occasionally he sucked on his mustache, and rubbed the wet-


ness down into his beard. “Yeah she’s too hefty, man; she’s like Alanis Morissette – “ “But Alanis is kinda quirky - she’d be alright, I’d date her, she’d be like a big earth mama.” He spoke aloud across the aisle of the front of the bus to his friend, who was rail thin with pockmarked cheeks and dark greasy hair pulled tight into a pony tail hanging down his back. He had

tedly rubbed his hands up and down on his pant legs. “Nah...she’s too much meat man;” “Oh, so then who?

SPRING 2009 / 63

long fingers with long dirty nails, and he repea-

“Cameron Diaz - I’d do her in a heartbeat!” Another young man was sitting near the middle of the bus. He pulled out a notebook. His fingers were pale and cold, the blue-green veins showing through his skin. He wore a crusty stubble, and glasses that accentuated the pupils of his eyes. His hair was cut close to his head, and he wore non-descript civilian clothes. He had a sullen air about him – an observer, not a participant, pernow and then as people boarded the bus. He took notes: “too short, plain face, fat nose; too fat; too skinny, flat chested; too old; blonde hair, perky nose - sexy; white dress, blue panties, cowboy boots, nice legs - definitely; messed up hairdo, ugly glasses; short shirt, butt too big, no way; etc...” *





derek ryan hain

ched in his own protected bubble. He looked up

“Ah, my daughters are ready, I can hear them jingling, ready for you, my friend – “ “Hmmm, (licking his fingers) I’m so full I don’t know how I could eat another thing!” “Ha Ha Ha! Well, do not fear - You will not have

derek ryan hain

to eat anything – not yet anyway! That is for AFTER the wedding!! Ha Ha Ha!” “Ha Ha Ha, Sagilzuel! You know how to tease a man! Ha Ha Ha!” “Oh, that is nothing - you just wait ‘til the music begins!” He clapped his hands. The old man sitting in the corner of the tent began to drum, his nephew beside him joined in tentatively. After a few rounds the tambourines began outside, the little cymbals adding a golden tone...ankle bells could


be heard, and then, in came the man’s daughters, one by one through the tent curtains... “Oh? Ah? Eh?” “Uh huh!” The woody sweet scents of amber and myrrh began to fill the air ; “What did I tell you?”

along with the rhythms); oh, yes, Sagilzuel; yes, you are hospitable indeed!” The girls danced; one by one they came to the foreground and unwrapped some feature they had, turned it around for the visitor’s benefit, and

SPRING 2009 / 65

“Mmmmmm...yes...(beginning to slap his thigh

retired, retiring... They ended by sitting poised amidst their skirts, waiting, catching their breath, their for-the-mostpart young and full chests rising and falling beneath their silks... Their father and the visitor arose. The visitor was given a tour of each of them, their faces and hands lifted for him to scrutinize. They each oldest, who did not smile, and the youngest who wouldn’t look up at all. When the visitor had reviewed the last of the five girls, their father clapped his hands again and they all flew out. “Well?” The father escorted the visitor back to his seat. “Well, well!” “Such sweet fruits, eh?”

derek ryan hain

smiled shyly, flashing their eyes - each but the

“Yes, you have a full grove there, my friend...” “Yes, quite a bountiful harvest! And, so? Which one will grace the table beneath the benevolence of your tent, my friend?” “Ah, yes, my tent is feeling very benevolent just now my friend, ha ha ha!!!” “That is a good sign, is it not? Speak freely my friend – allow yourself to wallow - “ “Well...the middle one – “ He took a date from the plate and ate it slowly... “Oh, yes, what a gem, one of my favorites!” “Such dark eyes, no?” He licked his fingertips and patted his mustache


dry with his robe. “ - and such hips – well-proportioned, and able to take what I have to give!” “Ah yes; a fitting choice, ha ha ha! Your tent will be blessed!” “Mmmm, yes, but perhaps others would notice such hips as well - and eyes like that – well, they can be trouble...”

bred to create divisions, but to seal alliances!” “Still, Others can be trouble, if tempted by such things beyond their own restraints – “ “Well, perhaps then, the oldest, eh? She is past foolishness, and well-trained – and she knows how to care for a whole caravan! My own wife was no better!” “Well, my friend, I don’t wish to spoil our meal, be truthful - for truth is of great value between friends, is it not?” “Yes, yes, it is, my friend, and please, my table is open to you, as is my heart. Please, speak: I hold no prejudice against your honesty! Please - ” “Well, forgive me, but perhaps time has not been kind to her? I fear she is a bit plain, a bit lacking -” “Well, she has many qualities that are not so visible – “ “Her eyes – they are a bit close to her nose - will not the sun blind her? or a camel, perhaps, might come up from behind?” “Oh no, no my friend, she can see as well as the rest! Why, even better sometimes!”

SPRING 2009 / 67

“Ah, fear not, my friend: my daughters are not

“And her hair...her hair is not very luxurious...I want my children to have luxurious hair!” “Too much hair can be trouble, my friend!” “Well...then, too, there is her mouth...” “Her mouth?” “Her lips are not very rosy, it not just a bit too small? I have big appetites my friend, and big parts of me to fill, and such a little mouth... well, perhaps she is more suited to a SMALLER man than me!!!” “Ah, but she has a big heart, my friend, a big heart...” “Ah yes, but it is not my heart that needs a wife, eh! Ha Ha Ha!!!


“Oh, Yes, Ha Ha Ha! Well then, well then...the youngest perhaps - ? With her big lips, and such luxurious hair, perhaps she will satisfy your tastes?” “Oh, so virgin, inexperienced; I could make an impression there!” “And so fresh - barely a thought has ruined the smoothness of her forehead!”

“Oh, yes my wise friend, a student and a young maid! Ha Ha Ha!” “And when the towel is wrung out, it can still make a good placemat, eh? Ha Ha Ha!!!” “Oh, yes - you are so generous to think of her needs!” “Yes, I know: it is not everyman who considers his wife’s future!” “And she is easy to instruct; take it from me, I am her father after all!” “Yes, and a good man you are – and so many beautiful young daughters you have!” *





A young woman stepped onto the bus. She wore tight jeans and a snug open neck t-shirt. Her blonde hair was long and straight and hung down her back. She had plucked her eyebrows into neat lines, had a smooth finish of foundation on, some color on her lids, dark mascara and bright lipstick. Her figure was simple, ripe, and firm. She conformed to the average model found on billboards and magazine covers. She was much younger than she looked.

SPRING 2009 / 69

“Downy soft landing, eh?”

The boys watched her intensely. She could feel their eyes following her. This is what she’d prepared herself for all morning. She kept her eyes straight ahead, and pretended she didn’t notice anyone. As she passed them, the one nudged the other ; the other rubbed his hands on his knees. When she was out of range, the one said to the other : “I’d do HER!” The other said: “Heh – yeah, me too!”, and rubbed his hands up and down on his thighs. The notetaker didn’t agree. She sat in a seat at the back of the bus, looking out the window, wondering if her stomach still


looked flat when she was sitting down.


High hills In North Seattle Alone talking with cats Watching the sun set robin attwood

Over the Northern hill Living without breathing Dreaming deciding and forgettingFarewell to the Golden Girl With the sun in her eyes And the friend Who spoke with an intelligent nose And only cared the most for you; Killing all the while Without breathing But, just, watching it allIn the circling of matters And science of affairs by dimly lit romance Over typewriter and old acquaintances


In a room of fragrant spring hyacinth air Filling all concentration like a dumb balloon Looking towards some lover some other place in his life scheme Built out of balance/built out of ignorance, stumbling and stuttering by nature, towards Some other Heaven or creature Hell All the while hurtling at what is most precious to us, his dignity.


it is modern primordial uncut tomb diamond * the unkempt cajolery kicked about inside… How silly…

jacob peck

! what ?

Credence calls and known not of what or why !?!

Truth is silly nonlinear bliss where toads rule worlds and Life is but a mere everything ~ ~ ~

if we are to be the silly fire eyed fools whom come to rejuvenate revive redeem the eternal begotten forgotten well… we need throw all cautions, sentiments, flowers, facades, fads, faces

all of it… not to the wind…but to where it is the wind cometh from ! ~eternal ~ no~thing~ness~

to lose those dreaded its in there and then Silly Love of Beloved Strange Beauty Cries Harmonic God Almighty


~ how foolish wise you are!…. i.e. he i )r( m


all is is

the stone taught me how to overthrow capitalism and air…whispers…Space Is The Place… Space Is Is… it’s been said “he~it~her~that’s so far out… he~it~her~that’s coming back” so may we thank the world ruling toads who know not of their magnificence but simply are it by being the is that is and may we remember… if it ain’t silly… well, ~ hyperspatial soliloquies of credence calls credulences wont wither with the what it is as the where it goes from the whence it came ~

and not “what is art?” how banal! WHY IS ART ? to know this wordless answer will help the dolphins and feed the starvings of us all

is this silly?


logos~mythos~knows no difference

SPRING 2009 / 75

and to question… WHY IS WRITING ?

please, dear friends… let us forget the known and know… upon fractal dimensions of infinite shades of one unknowable truth, hyperspatial certainty of ceaseless mystery sings… God is is God is no thing from immanent transcendent depths of utter ?

the nature of mind is… the nature of mind is…


did you see it? did you hear it?


the nature of mind is…

the nature of mind is… the nature of mind is…

jacob peck

what memes are dominating? the nature of mind is…

!~! did you see it? did you hear it? again‌ ~


jacob peck

let it be

let it be

and sing the heart of humanity in more ways than many so that we may shake awake from our somnambulism the Self... and with it the Beautiful Bounty that is is that is Life Lived amen


Considerations, when the body has been surrendered to the ocean, persist openly. Enough time escapes for the deflation of fear and concerns of loss channeling my powers of thought and physical manipulation and modulation to the plain of the obscurity of a living body helpless to the health of circulating waves. The repetition of

brennan pedersen

one thought, to release my fingers from the small board that subsists my continual flotation, without which I might escape, is the consideration that all others have crawled out of (emanate). Where, from an impossible or entirely pleasureless and unreasonable disposition of surviving amongst two plains beyond apprehension, I am never deprived of the possibility of an escape: the consideration of two ends: to end the flotation or end the possibility of letting go by putting the option out of mind. Yet, in my ceaseless consideration I have found no faculty to allow my uninterrupted indulgence of escape to rest just as I have not yet found the potential faculty to release myself from this continual flotation.


Where I have the faculty of consideration between which I am unable to choose (produce the faculty of choice). All thought of mine, has, and continues to subsist from this, the single consideration. In the innumerable considerations that I have fallen over in a suspension I am here left with one hope: that all the considerations I have continually entertained are a progression of consideration, covering distance, as my traverse through the waves leads me to a hopeful unknown destination I only rely it is also a progression to

bility that keeps my consideration intact. To the nature of my continual suspension any sense of progression (memory) or change, I am unable to with any certainty say there has been any change at all. The change in wave peaks and troughs and no less frequency fluctuations is equally indistin-

SPRING 2009 / 79

a destination out of buoyancy—the very possi-

guishable when no perspective but on the ocean, as equally on the sky, can be afforded. I am therefore completely unable to perceive the waves as but what I conceive of my myself—my thought, just as, I am but under(above/as) the sky, unable to chart the continual disposition across it’s terrain. First completely unaware of my potential weakness and inabilities in a moment, after long dissertations suddenly the realization strike me that in this cursive continual considering I unrelenting board. It was at this moment that I was immediately enlightened to realize that this consideration was the exact same consideration which I began considering after those strained periods of nausea and ridicule between the ocean and fortresses of wind. As the ocean moves in waves about me equally the waves of wind swim through my jurisdiction of faculty as equally my over-side is above the water also my underside is above the wind or below, where any part of me might at any moment be above or below either the ocean or the sky I have lost the ability to discern which part of me might be floating through which only knowing, as it were appa-

brennan pedersen

reach the question of releasing myself from the

rently necessary for my continual suspension that I am between the two of them, or, overlapping each, any part of me and any given period. It was when realizing my continual return to my unending suspension that I seemed to first truly shed my unhealthy fear of the suspension where I was endlessly without a faculty to reasonably assess my disposition and forward continuation brennen pedersen

of suspension—expect the choice of how to be continually suspended. From the position I tried to ignore the possibility that my memory, or my belief of what alerted me of my repetition as a memory could be a false, phantom apparition of a reminder, that even my abilities of consideration and memory could mislead me, embracing the belief that in my uneventful repetition and return to the consideration of suspension I had in fact made a progression considerably delighted me. Chilled my hot frustration, that unconscious exploration of the same binding limitation could effortlessly, though simultaneously provoking my continual nausea characteristic of my helpless


disposition (to continue or release), produce an element of change and progress: I came to believe in not a total lack of hope, the possibility of escaping my suspension. That I might only be rethinking the same consideration itself was proof to the opposite: in my manifold repetition of one consideration did not the consideration...


3. what are your feet waiting for theres a man wit List want sign them up there’s a gold Rope that say “NO FEET”

caleb goodaker-craig

you try to spray paint it RED so I let you

now it say “o feet”


Little hands walk around


and sort themselves in a pile covering your spine

slightly smooth when they move around you’re sleeping: when you’re going to wake is in a notebook

SPRING 2009 / 83


When eyes come on the hands tremble and fingernails grow by a inch Real quick I told you the minute would come when you’d be covered by hands It’s all the work you do with the mayor

And everything Mr. Turnstile warnt you about The eve of your personal soft-spine revolution has arrived _____want a bath “give me a pepsi” bath “give me a pepsi bath” Sanchez wrote a note that was left on the bed: “gone for something else @ next town”

caleb goodaker-craig

you get cold Real quick


The middle-aged man with a beard and a green, crinkled raincoat stepped on to the bus at 11:45 am one Tuesday morning and pulled out a little box with a long antennae, at least four feet in length, which arched slightly under its own weight and bobbed as his body moved to find a seat. Attached to this antennae was a little two-way radio, which he began to fiddle with. Across from him was a woman and her babies. I wasn’t sure but I assumed she had the same fear I nicky tiso

did; that what he held in his hand was a transmission device to set off a wild pipe bomb. He did not look religious nor like a fanatic. He looked tired and ill shaven. He looked like he would be excellent at gluing wings onto model fighter-jets. The fact that he asked the woman ‘how old is your kid?’ as he fiddled with the knobs and switches made it seem like the last, biting words of empty sarcasm before the flame engulfed us. But then a voice came through the receiver, that little black box, innocent as it was. “Come in, D-3789CP, come in…”


“D-3789CP here,” he replied, followed by, “Have you gotten a hold of TXY-77-TH yet?” The voices crackled and pierced through a humming fuzz that would spike and hit inaudible frequencies, but mostly the decibel level of their conversation remained casual. “…yeah I think TXY-77-TH is out getting groceries...” These men are either robots or the products of a

“I thought maybe he’d have his receiver on him,” the box cackled back. “Yeah I’m curious to see how he likes the manual installation on his receiver…,” the box said, then cut out.

SPRING 2009 / 87

mid-life crisis.

“Wait, wait, I’ve lost you,” said the man to the box. “Let me try this now.” He got up and waved it about while speaking, testing the angle and rotation of each dial to get the best reception. He made a few more twists and cocked his head as he angled the antennae high into the air. “…..probably why he switched after his C-17 was cat-

The conversation went somewhere when he couldn’t hear it but voices reduced to fog have a tendency to evaporate. Once the bus didn’t explode and I saw it was a middle-aged man on a radio talking to other middle-aged men about radios, I could sit back in my seat and get bored again. The man meanwhile, held the receiver in front of his face with awe, like it was made of gold, revering every square inch of it for a moment before folding down the antennae and tucking the device back into his front pocket.

nicky tiso

ching dual broad bands in the MiF filter.”


On a feverish August morning it was discovered that the lot had been partitioned by stakes and ropes. An enigmatic sign now stood at the corner of M and R streets. LIBRARY The pure proportions of the brush strokes

c. v. rotondo

shown hot black against the sandy wooden sign, revealing no more about the nature of the event. Despite its austerity, residents of M,R,H, and Q streets, so accustomed to the dry, weed-choked lot, marveled at the sign and its attendant stakes and posts. Quite mistakenly it was compared to an archeological dig, with its tools and geometry, delicate brushes and discoveries under the skin of the earth. They made their misguided (or maybe not so) comparisons and stood somberly gazing at sign and newly geometric lot. They recalled how just the day before the familiar lot had lain unassuming under their window boxes and the


droning yellow light of the corner’s streetlamp. We were not notified, they thought to themselves. Some would turn and shrug after a period of gazing at sign and lot, an expression of resignation tugging their face muscles into readable shapes. Nothing stays the same. It was just a lot after all, bound to be developed.

Maybe the children will enjoy a library. The community’s not what it used to be. These thoughts slackened and tightened muscles around eyes and mouths after periods of sign

SPRING 2009 / 91

Damn city hall bureaucrats.

and newly partitioned lot gazing and perhaps the expectant earth laying humbly beneath stakes, ropes, weeds and sign, thought: People aren’t what they used to be. The summer’s heat and light, waning through August, left the grass brittle and brown beneath the various pairs of feet which stood before the sign. Sign and partitioned lot (archeological dig) became an easy symbol for waiting, for expecfrequented by residents of M,R,H and Q streets during commutes to and from work, the mailbox or car. As days coupled together to form weeks and the dying summer scorched the lot’s polygons of weeds into distended spider skeletons, the residents became uneasy with waiting. Visits to the sign and lot (archeological dig) grew less frequent, often replaced by sharp, over-theshoulder glances, from faces once pulled upward in expectancy, now arced downward in suspicion. Conversation began to resound with false promises. Like the potholes they never fixed.

c. v. rotondo

tation. Days rumbled by the familiar site, now

It’s gonna be just like our broken sidewalks – a shame. Remember the talk last summer, about putting a park there? What would we use a library for? On the final day of August an unfamiliar car (all c. v. rotondo

cars on M,R,H, and Q streets are familiar) rolled slowly down M street, past the polygons of arachnid weeds, the shunned sign, now adorned with indecipherable graffiti. As faces arced downwards in the suspicion of those forced to wait appeared in tenement windows, the alien car pulled to a stop along the crumbled curb astride the lot. For a moment the car did not stir. The sun beat its metallic surfaces with August’s final, vindictive heat and the faces downturned in the suspicion of waiting settled in to endure more. A glint of redirected sunlight and a soft click then revealed a pair of legs, soon followed by a torso,


neck and head. Another, similar body followed the first, though this one feminine in features, ominously leaving by the same curbside door, frustrating the downturned suspicious waiting faces with a view of two unidentifiable backs. Seeming to take in the sign and lot, along with limitless amounts of what else, without turning, the pair of bodies moved through the partitioned lot like lovers in their bedroom – strikingly familiar, yet curious to explore even the most common-

to touch the dusty porous surface of concrete and dirt. Thumb and forefinger ran sleek lines down the partition ropes and arachnid weeds crackled under hand and shoe. In a few minutes it was over, two still unidentified bodies returned to their unfamiliar car, down-

SPRING 2009 / 93

place elements. Hands appeared and swept low

turned faces backed into interior shadows and the August tempered sun went on scolding the whole scene for perceived impertinence. The bodies came to be known be many designations: city planners, bureaucrats, corporate real estate brokers, even librarians. But as the mythology coalesced and was handed down, their titles finally found their center in one: The Architects. Her

eager child’s hands. Riding the numbers up and down; eyes enamored of the play of light and sound as digital 1s, 5s, 14s flickered to life only to quickly die. Breathing hot air onto the gilded interior walls, obscuring a giddy girl’s reflection with whirls of fog. Being alone. Alone in the potent womb of the machine. Thrust upward by steel cable only to be let fall again. The Atlantic rising tide of the stomach. From sitting, one corner to the next, making polygons of counter-motion; the gilded womb still moving up to down. To standing, jumping off in bright blue sandals at

c. v. rotondo

In the elevator again. Striking sleek buttons with

the precise moment of flight, achieving the defiance of the earth and its forces that the machine demands. 14 from 23 equals 9 – attempting to calculate the distance. 9 glowing lights and a free fall later it stops. The gilded mirror doors glide open and reveal a body spun hard and stern. In the silence without singing numbers and the weightlessness of the fall, she does not hear the

c. v. rotondo

scolding words. She recalls tall lit buildings reflected in the gently closing golden doors and a final elevator horn announcing the movement from mechanical wonderland to organic boredom. The slow coalescence of a dream. Him The towering blades slide counterclockwise in a dry, arid wind. The windmill – a tripod monument to rust, blood-colored spread of barnacles across its shuddering surface. It was all that could be done not to collapse in the desert. Leave the grain uncrushed, the sickles dull, stomachs and


cupboards bare. From behind, back in the direction of the aging barn, the guttural sounds of desperate people shouting at animals. Not two steps from violence. Out beyond the molten fan blades golden-green fields rise against the sun. Oasis, he thinks, and turns back to towards the barn, towards work. That night, sitting upright in bed, shirtless, with a cool moon draped over summer skin. A clear view of the windmill, still churning through July’s

for musing he thought, rising to pull down the brittle shade, shut out the insistent purple light. As his hand touched the rough canvas a great groaning shook the barley, reverberating off the barn’s sheer face; answered by the shrill whine of animals. His hand set still against the shade, the ensuing silence so complete he hears the sharp

SPRING 2009 / 95

cicada hum night. Night in the desert is no time

hissing intake of his own breath. Another groan, higher, more sustained, and his eyes catch movement and light outside the window. Light – from the nearby porch where mom and papa are standing silhouetted like portraits of Old America. Movement – from the giant, rusted blades as they sway powerfully over their tripod legs. The silence shorter, less complete, and the groaning rises to a screech as if the ground had heaved open like the mouth of an outraged god. The blades of the windmill rush to meet the barley mahogany earth as they slice the watered desert. The tripod sought briefly to reclaim the exalted place of the blades in the sky before falling one to the other in an angular heap of old metal – the ruptured bones of some orbiting creature careened to earth. In the settling dust he sees mom and papa’s silhouettes disappear from the tiny glow of the porchlight and soon it too is swallowed by night. When the moon’s light settles over the collapsed windmill it shines bright and clean, a triumph among ruins. He would rebuild.

c. v. rotondo

fields churning massive waves of golden, green,

Her She built it and it moved. Atop a snow-dusted rooftop the metallic click of tiny legs pushed through the snow and gray air. The easterly wind sweeps her hair unbound across her eyes, cheeks, smiling mouth – the skin there decorated with spidering white cracks and dry to the touch. She c. v. rotondo

is giddy, dancing like her hair in the January wind, kicking up billows of snow like harmless shrapnel swirling around her feet. No longer alone. Accompanied by the life, the engine spark that she herself had designed. The angular thing careened this way and that through snow drifts on uncertain legs. It was little more than ungainly appendages, but how it moved! A droning black helicopter hovers ominously around the rooftop. Traffic whistles by twenty-


three stories below. If she allows herself, she can hear the muffled shouting emanating from the interior beneath her restless feet. Security cameras clutching vulture-like to the corners of buildings swivel slowly, revealing unblinking eyes. Yet her smiling eyes remain fixed upon the sputtering engine heart dancing an otherworldly dance before her on the snowy rooftop. The engine heart finally kicks and dies out, crumpling in an unceremonious heap amidst a cloud of snow. The helicopter continues its me-

the shouts from inside and below grow more raucous. She tenderly scoops up her engine heart and bundles it in her arms as she turns to mount the stairs back into the pulsing interior of the tower. Stopping before the heavy stairwell door, she

SPRING 2009 / 97

nacing hover, the cameras swivel unceasingly and

leans over to whisper to the engine-heart. The helicopter and cameras seem to damper and still as if to hear. The whole, wired city suddenly focused. “I will rebuild you.� Somewhere nearby gunshots and screams follow sirens and the whole wired city shudders. Him

avenues. Jostling with crowds, immersed in the sensations of close bodies. Smells. Angles. Drab, wintry light. Traffic. The city. Guided by papa around garbage cans, oily puddles, and huddled, sleeping bodies. Every passing doorway a culvert into a different time. Liveried doormen, buttons shining behind red satin ropes, doors revolving to their gloved touch. Massive granite steps, mock Pantheons, mounting stoic and heavy to the mouths of towers engulfed in the slate sky. Rumpled shapes shuffling plastic bag draperies, shopping cart boudoirs, cardboard tenements in

c. v. rotondo

Walking close to papa down unfamiliar angular

a dirty rectangle of space framed by concrete. Watching papa move lithe and hard, deep set green eyes fixed ahead. Feeling loose, wrongly colored, a wounded marionette swinging unwittingly across a crowded stage. Buildings, fences, and cars demand space, force and shout “give way,” collide with them. A sense of surrendering; surrendering to papa’s single-minded, tin-man walk, surrendering to the unspoken cajoling of c. v. rotondo

exhaust-drowned streets, ubiquitous buildings and their stone, surrendering to a tacit geography of enclosure. If it was a net, he was ensnared. Built so as to be impossible to look everywhere at once. An alley to the right becomes the tunnel vision of some carnival ride, the cacophonous avenue drives the eyes towards center, in or out, the buzzing crush of immediate bodies usurps the attention of skin, eyes, ears, and nose all at once. Finding the sharp corners, rigid lines of the windmill in the sleek rise of skyscrapers. See the curvature of the wind-bent wheat in the cork-


screw freeways coiling through the grid. Making a living map of light, concrete and steel. All at once papa’s arm makes a swift, clean jerk and the air compresses through the blunt teeth of revolving doors. Inside.


we all make mistakes: babies grow into humans. humans blind the beasts they don’t believe in.

otis pig

& blind beasts trample fields of flowers, who’s roots reach as far as life. so life cough out hate; hate coughs out wounds that cross coughing oceans. wounds live on your body, & love you for lending them a place to stay.


• we all make mistakes, but the worst mistake is wearing wings that don’t grow out of you spine. sometimes we have to cut down wings like trees–

–& that is the worst mistake.

SPRING 2009 / 101

from the backs of baby birds; souls are standing evergreens

the best mistake is talking to flowers. if you talk to flowers, they will grow & they will breathe on you in return. when you sleep, there are flowers breathing on your back, breathe back.

otis pig

flower breath is the reason that mean people do nice things. • we all make mistakes. so on friday, death comes riding in: his horse walks all over life. life becomes the muck & goo.

death says, “I am sorry,”

otis pig

& the living say, “no worries.” & they agree to disagree. on sunday, noon, it is christmas. what have we learned so far? in the woods are standing evergreens, still


we trust life with our lives. so survivors search for snow (on the backs of breath, on the backs of horses) wearing wreaths around their heads.

Print for Breathing 4  

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